Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Nine Is Divine

 August 13, 2020


Oh my sweet baby, you are NINE! It is so hard for me to believe you are nine. You are my baby, my velcro, my cuddler, my side-kick. Somehow the newborn that never stopped crying is the happiest, most joyful child in the entire world. 

Nine years ago, we left for the airport after a phone call came letting us know you would be arriving shortly, three weeks early. We flew nervously to Los Angeles with only our family knowing. You were about to be the biggest surprise for many, many friends.

You came into this world a few minutes after midnight and by two in the morning, we were exhausted, happy, and realized you were going to teach us more than we bargained for. The nursery nurses told us "she likes to be held" and that was probably the only advice we received that rang true for your first 18 months of life. You had us up all night, all day, and in between fits of rage from your un-diagnosed milk allergy you would smile a smile that let us know to just keep holding you.

In nine years you have proven to be tiny, yet mighty. We heard a million labels and went to a million different therapies and you prevailed. Nothing was going to hold you back. Nothing was too tough for you to accomplish. And there was nothing you did without a smile. You are the gift of lessons.

In nine years you have taught me patience. You continue to throw curve balls into my need to plan everything personality. You have your own timeline and you will accomplish the goal, but you will do it when you are ready. With my mental checklist always in the fore front, you continually teach me to slow that checklist, enjoy the sunshine, and just let life happen. Just yesterday you used a knife correctly and made your own sandwich. We have been working on this incessantly and like always, it just clicked. I know you will continue to teach me to breathe and take pause and to embrace the world around me. Patience is never easy, but like you, it is worth the wait.

In nine years you have taught me bravery. Oh my goodness, you are so brave!  With every challenge, I pray you will find success. You ask so many questions, voice your opinion, tell me when you are ready and then you take that leap of faith and the accomplishment is the most glorious thing I have ever witnessed. You rocked swim team and second grade this past year. Even when things were tough to learn, when things were exhausting, you tried. You tried, tried, and tried again until you were able to complete the task at hand. A few days ago, you swam in your first ever swim meet. Your bravery was admirable. You were nervous, you cried, but with all the courage your tiny body has you climbed onto the block and dove into that water to swim as fast as you could. I do not think I could have screamed any louder. You are a woman of valor.

In nine years you have taught me unconditional love. Whether you have had a bad day, or your sister has, or I have, you love us no matter what. You are never angry. You forgive immediately. You accept us and love us every minute of every day. You love with your whole heart. You love with every fiber of your being and those lucky enough to be loved by you have a heart filled.

In nine years you have taught me joy. Joy in all the things. Pancakes, waffles, a trip to Target, LEGOS, LOL dolls, the park, a car ride, a sunset, a cloud in the sky....it literally doesn't matter what it is, you will find the joy. During this pandemic you were able to find a bright spot in every thing, every day, every hour. You were our happiness in five months of uncertainty. You brought smiles and laughs, you brought a care free spirit, you brought jubilation. 

You are an inspiration to so many. You do not realize the influence you have on others, but you motivate people to work harder. You show people that grit and determination pay off. You remind people to never quit. You show the world to never ever count out the underdog, the small one, the quiet one. You persevere in all that you do and your family and village of friends watch in awe as you soar.  

You are strong. You are coming into your personality and beginning to get sassy, but your strength and convictions are solid. You know right from wrong and choose to surround yourself by those who lift you up. Your friends support you and you support them. You encourage, you follow rules, you stay on the path that is correct for you and deviate for no one. You are true to yourself.

Nine years ago, I did not know all you would bring to our family. You may not know it, but you are the glue that holds us together. We can always count on you to re-center our focus, turn a bad day into a good one, to remind us to hug, to show us the beauty in our family. You are our sunshine, our happiness, our unicorn and rainbow.

You are smart, tenacious, caring, kind, funny, loyal, and phenomenal. You are all those things and so much more. Your Hebrew name, Malka Chaya, means Queen of Life and that you truly are. You live each day to the fullest, never let anything stop you and you remember to smile along the way.

I hope nine is all you dream it to be. I hope nine continues to be a year of growth and triumph. 

Happy ninth birthday to the baby that will still hold my hand and still tells me "I love you more."

I love you more today than yesterday. I love you forever.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

NINE IS DIVINE

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Twelve

August 6, 2020

HAPPY 12TH BIRTHDAY!


12 years ago on an extremely hot day our lives changed forever with a simple phone call. You were here, you were born, you were ours. As you know I forgot to ask our caseworker if you were a boy or a girl and then spent two hours driving to the baby store even though it was only twenty minutes away. Our lives were instantly changed, for the better. You were here. You, our incredible daughter, made your debut.

12 years ago social media was just getting started and people did not live their lives out loud like they do now so we made phone calls, sent emails, and cried happy tears screaming, "It's a girl!" to all our family. 12 years ago, you made everyone that loves you happier and you haven't stopped adding joy to all our lives.

This year from eleven to twelve you had some big bumps. Life hurdles that even adults have had a hard time coping with, but you handled them with style and grace. When you then mixed in some serious preteen attitude you were able to overcome each and every obstacle thrown your way. I literally have watched you grow from girl to young lady in a blink of an eye. I am fully in disbelief that my baby, the one I would let no one hold or feed for six months (maybe more), is twelve. 

Twelve. How in the world are we here? 

On this twelfth birthday I want you to know that I know you will accomplish every single dream you have. I believe you literally will change this world. Your stubborn attitude, your independent thinking, and your heart will take you where ever you choose to go....even if that choice is A&M. (Hook 'em)

Your mind is brilliant. You are smart, witty, inquisitive, and have a desire to learn that is unmatched. From the time you were able to sit up you have wanted to be engaged in all things educational. There is not a book, article, paper you won't read. There is not a lesson you won't listen to. There is not a stone left to be uncovered when it comes to you finding answers. Your quest for knowledge is admirable and it is that knowledge that makes you so powerful.

You are compassionate, generous, sincere, an old soul. You stand for all that is good in this world and I have enjoyed watching you learn to debate what you believe to be true. You fight for the underdog, take people at their word, and are loyal. You are a true friend. In this past year you have learned the difference between friends and acquaintances. You have learned what it means to show someone you care. You have learned the beauty of girlfriends and how a simple FaceTime call filled with laughter can fill your cup.

You are an incredible sister. Sure, she can be annoying and you can dish out some zingers, but you are truly a cheerleader for her. I have seen you grow more understanding as you mature and I know that sister bond will never break. I am proud of how you encourage her, watch out for her, and make sure that she is treated equitably. I know you are excited for middle school, but respect how you will still listen and tell your sister she will be just fine without you in elementary school. Your word is gold to her and I have seen you become careful with those words. 

At twelve we now get to joke around and dish out sarcastic comments. I am loving this new phase of our mother/daughter relationship. I love singing Top 40 songs in the car with you, making fun of daddy, and laughing about the dumbest things. It has been awesome this year getting to laugh with you. When you laugh, your whole face smiles and reminds me what a beautiful person you are - inside and out. Your personality has come out of its shell and even though you think we are different, our humor is the same. You love to laugh and as you grow older you will learn to keep humor in your life for laughter is the best medicine.

At twelve you are entering middle school and due to Covid you must start school on line. It's not ideal and you're less than thrilled, but you will crush it. You will do more than survive middle school. You will continue to soar because you, my amazing daughter, take no bullshit. (Yep, at twelve I get to write profanity in your birthday letter.) You do not play games, you do not accept dishonesty, and you definitely do not allow people to walk all over you. You have high standards for those you keep close to your heart and while those standards may cause some disappoint, they will allow you to grow as an individual and only align yourself with those that will stand with you. 

I am beyond proud of who you are and who you continue to become. I watch in awe as you navigate life with more elegance than most can muster. You are truly a gift from G-d. Before you turn thirteen, you will have your Bat-Mitzvah. I cannot believe we will celebrate this momentous occasion this year. Your excitement after each Bat-Mitzvah lesson lets me know not only do you have faith and trust in G-d, but you truly do understand the importance of this milestone. I am already overjoyed at how you've embraced this chapter in your life and continue to show enthusiasm each week. This will be one of life's biggest blessings and I am thrilled it is happening for you. 

While I know your are beginning the last year before you are teenager and I know some days you do not want to grow up, I want you to remember you will always be my little girl. There will never be a day you cannot cry, stomp your feet, or throw a temper fit. I will love you through it all. I will continue to hug you even though you are almost as tall as me. I will continue to tuck you in, say our prayer, and check on you in the middle of the night to make sure you are breathing.I will wipe your tears and even wipe your face because apparently braces have made you messier. 

Happy 12th birthday to the the young lady that keeps me on my game and keeps my heart filled with love. I love you more today than yesterday. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 
May all your wishes come true. 






Monday, December 16, 2019

I Hate Eleven

I hate eleven. There, I said it. I am coming clean, I fucking hate eleven. Please send back ten, ten was the holy grail. And before you want to comment with just wait, read that blog post.

ELEVEN SUCKS!



I realized last night while I was breathing through another damn episode of The Young and Hormonal that eleven is just like four. Eleven is completely verbal but has the emotional control of a caged animal.

Lucky for me, my eleven holds it together at school and in public. To the outside, my eleven has it all together. And for the most part, she does. But holy hell when eleven gets going, I am no longer running for shelter - I am digging in my heels and becoming the shelter to protect even her from this storm.

Eleven procrastinates, which is nothing new, but this go around eleven cries when she realizes the errors of her way. After the tears flow, we get back talk, frustration, and if eleven is feeling really giving - I also win a tantrum. Eleven is super fun.

Eleven's life is UNFAIR. With no phone, limited screen time, a bed time, and for fuck's sake being forced to shower - eleven's life is apparently really shitty. Sign me up for the worst mom award because I don't want to see dandruff and greasy hair. I sure hope twelve wants to be clean because eleven smells.

Eleven's body is changing and bringing that subject up causes eleven to walk away and again start fucking crying! I am living my own damn nightmare as I watch myself grow up in my daughter. Remind me again why it was important to teach feelings? Eleven has ALL THE FUCKING FEELINGS ALL THE FUCKING TIME!!

Eleven exaggerates. Emptying the dishwasher is a form of slavery, school is child abuse because it is so boring and she is forced to sit all day, and laundry not being done is neglect. If she doesn't become a veterinarian, I'm positive she will be an attorney for the neglected, abused, enslaved children of upper middle class families.

Eleven wants responsibility. Eleven wants to be treated like a mini adult until eleven realizes adulting sucks and requires effort. Then eleven doesn't mind what I made for dinner or when her clothes gets cleaned.

Eleven needs no help on school projects until her piece of shit, old, iPad that her spoiled ass has doesn't work and she NEEDS my computer. Funny how that piece of crap iPad works when I use it. Maybe if she wasn't banging on it like a damn toddler out of frustration it would give her the information she needs.

Eleven wants to have these sweet heart to heart conversations that eventually end with her rolling her eyes and telling us we are old and know nothing. Quality time is overrated.

Eleven Sucks.

Eleven wants special privileges, which she gets. Unfortunately, eleven then gets mad that the eight year old is not held to the same standard. "She is eight, you are eleven" is uttered way too many times in this house.

Eleven hates making her own lunch, but complains about what I pack.
Eleven cries a lot.
Eleven has girl drama.
Eleven is navigating social situations.
Eleven wants things her way and has a "reason" for each and every want.
Eleven wants to win at everything she does, but does not want to put forth the effort required of winners.
Eleven wants independence until eleven realizes she needs her mom.
Eleven is happy, sad, mad, amazing, and insane all in one hour.
Eleven has to be reminded to use her words because eye rolls and sighs and grunts are not appropriate forms of communication.
Eleven is too cool for many things.

Eleven Sucks.

Eleven must be fed frequently in an effort to not have a low blood sugar attack collide with a hormonal swing. When that happens, I am pretty sure the neighbors think a wild coyote is being slaughtered in my home.

It is December. Twelve will be here in August. I am going to just pretend it will be better. If not, I will continue to be the terrible mother that sets boundaries, has rules, and gives hugs and kisses when allowed.

Eleven Sucks.



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Contract

Ugh, the time has come. I know I do not have to "give in," but I am choosing to let go of my idea of what should be and welcome (with boundaries) what is reality.

Penelope has been using her iPad for school work for quite some time. This past summer, she began iMessaging her friends and cousins. The iMessages have continued and now she FaceTimes her friends when allowed. I am still very strict about screen time and where the iPad may be used, but allowing some progression has opened the doors to conversations of screen shots, what is appropriate, social media, bullying, etc. With Penelope's iPad on the fritz and middle school approaching, the hubs and I had a discussion (more like an argument in which I "won") about getting Penelope a smart phone for Hanukkah.

IF YOU KNOW US, PLEASE DO NOT TELL MY DAUGHTER!

It is clear a device is somewhat necessary for middle school. Many student assignments are completed on line and via apps. Yes, she could bring her temperamental iPad or a new iPad, but then I thought some more. Penelope stays home alone frequently. She also watches Pandora from time to time and was a mommy's helper over the summer. No one, including us, has a landline. If power goes out, internet gown down, FaceTime becomes unavailable on her iPad. Penelope has her Gizmo Gadget to use during the power outage situation. I was feeling great with the whole don't get her a phone until I realized Penelope cannot call 911 from her iPad or Gizmo Gadget. Sure, she can call me after she gets out of the house in case of a fire, but if she or her sister fell, choked, etc....How the hell is a phone call to me going to help? It would waste precious minutes in a true emergency. THAT fear is why I am pushing forward, pushed over the hubs, and secured a phone for Hanukkah. My 11.5 year old daughter is getting a phone for Hanukkah. We are those people. (DO NOT TELL HER!)


In an effort to maintain sanity in what is proving to be a crazy world, Penelope will have to sign the following contract. Any refusal and she does not get the phone. I made this contract up based on expectations previously set forth in our home. All the rules are maintainable because of parameters already in place. If you are a parent of a tween, teen and want to use this contract - go ahead. If you have a suggestion for the contract, email me - I would love the extra input. Hanukkah is still a few weeks away and it is eight nights, so I am not sure which night Penelope will be over the moon only to be smacked back down to the real world with the following: (Again, please DO NOT tell her!)

                                                          Cell Phone Contract

The following is a cell phone contract between my parents and me. I will abide by all rules and fully understand I will lose all phone privileges for a specific amount of time if any part of the contract is violated. I am initialing at each line to indicate my agreement and understanding. I will ask questions before signing because once my initials are written, I am telling my parents I know the expectation.

1. This phone belongs to my parents. I am merely borrowing it. __________
2. It is a privilege to have a phone. It is not a necessity. __________
3. This phone may not be in a room with doors. ___________
4. Any locator app installed on the phone must remain on at all times. _____________
5. Social Media will not be downloaded. ____________
6. Air Drop must remain off at all times. ____________
7. I do not expect to have privacy. My parents may look at my phone whenever._________
8. If text messages and/or apps are deleted before my parents can see it, I understand
they will find out and I lose my phone permanently. _________
9. I understand text messages can be screen shot and shared. _____________
10. I will not text anything I would not say to someone’s face. ___________
11. I will not send any picture of myself or friends. __________
12. The phone will be on the kitchen desk by 6:00 pm and may not be accessed again until
7:00 am. __________
13. Screen usage will be monitored. ___________
14. The phone will not leave the house with the exception being I am leaving alone and
need it for safety. ___________
15. I will not engage in group text messages before finding out the identity of all the
recipients. __________
16. I will not share anyone’s contact information without their approval. ___________
17. I will maintain Honor Roll each grading period. ____________
18. My parents will know all my passwords. _____________
19. I will show my parents any text message, picture message, chat, etc that is inappropriate and/or breaks any of the above rules. ___________
20. Every download needs permission, including downloads for school. ____________

This contract is good from December 2019 - August 2020. All rules are subject to change. There may be rules added to this contract, if necessary. Breaking any rule results in punishment. Permanent loss of the phone can be the punishment. I am aware that my parents, especially my mom, hate technology and will not hesitate to take the phone away in a moment’s notice. I will not abuse this privilege and I will be grateful for this amazing gift of responsibility.

  ________________________                                                          __________________
   (Child's signature)                                                                             (Parent signature)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Earned, Not Given

**If you have been reading my blog for the last few years you will notice that the names in previous posts are being changed (slowly) and I have started using the girls nicknames (given by an uncle), Penelope and Pandora. Privacy is huge for my kids and as the blog has gained momentum (yeah!!), I felt it necessary to take an extra step to ensure their privacy.**


We are a few days away from Thanksgiving break and man, am I ready! I hate making lunches, I hate the alarm clock, I hate the rush of a school week. I really should home school, but since neither of my girls are willing to participate in that idea we will continue to run the race of public school.

Fifth and second grade are off to a great start. I'm not sure what is harder for me to believe, Penelope as a fifth grader or Pandora as a second grader. It is true - time flies. Second grade is a huge adjustment in our district. Our students no longer see 'S' or 'N" on their work, they see numerical grades. While the children adjust fairly quickly, the parents tend to take longer to get on board. I could have written this post three years ago when Penelope was in second, but since she is a high achiever no one would have listened. It doesn't matter that I am a former educator, I was at that time a parent to a straight A second grade student.

So, here we are - second grade with Pandora. Pandora, the hard worker, but not a straight A student. I will start by saying I am PROUD beyond measure of Pandora. I never thought we would survive kindergarten and now she is in second grade! Pandora is learning, gaining confidence, maturing, and EARNING grades. PSA: GRADES ARE EARNED NOT GIVEN

Ask any teacher and they cannot tell you how many emails they have received with the following question, "Why did my kid get a ____ on the test?"  The blank could have an F, a C, even a B- the issue is not the grade, the issue is the verb, "get." Your child, my child did not GET anything, they EARNED it. For all the K-12 teachers out there, let me answer that email for you.

Why did your child get that grade?

1. They did not get the grade, they earned that grade.
2. They earned that grade because they did not study.
3. They earned that grade because they were up late and fell asleep in class.
4. They earned that grade because they did not follow directions.
4. They earned that grade because they were late to school and flustered while completing their assignment.
5. They earned that grade because they cheated off the dumb ass they sit next to in class.
6. They earned that grade because they never completed the homework assignment.
7. They earned that grade because they did not complete all the questions.
8. They earned that grade because they did not recheck their work before turning it in.
9. They earned that grade because they rushed.
10. They earned that grade because they were talking while working.
11. They earned that grade because as indicative of their daily grades, they are not understanding the concepts.
12. They earned that grade because they never came to tutorials.
13. They earned that grade because their extra-curricular activities are more important to them.
14. They earned that grade because they never raised their hand to ask a question.
15. They earned that grade because you are not in class to help them.
16. They earned that grade because the work showed that level of mastery.


Grades are not a reflection of whether or not the teacher taught. Trust me, they taught. I don't know one teacher that sits at their desk doing nothing all day. Are some teachers better than others, hell yes. But for the most part, teachers teach. It is our children's job to try to learn. TRY.

Grades show what a child understands. Grades show effort. Grades show mastery. Grades show what is earned by the person doing the assignment. Pandora has made Fs, Ds, Cs, Bs, and As. Every grade is earned. Every grade reflects accurately how much time and effort has been put into the objective. Pandora has a fabulous second grade teacher. She teaches her heart out each day. Does that mean Pandora always gets an A? Hell no. Sometimes Pandora doesn't understand. The teacher will know before a low grade if Pandora learns to advocate for herself. We are working on that. Parents might say their child is afraid of the teacher. I get that. In life, we face many fears. Encourage your child to speak up for themselves. Tell the teacher, even the "mean one" when you don't understand. If you say nothing, you cannot receive help.

As I am writing this post, Pandora is frustrated. There are tears. She has taken three moments to herself. We are trying to complete a study guide over text features. Pandora is not happy. Guess what? Too. Fucking. Bad.
Am I yelling at her? No.
Am I making her complete the study guide with minimal help? Yes.
Am I showing her the strategy of process of elimination? Yes.
Am I trying to reassure her that it's okay to not be perfect? Yes. (Just like her sister)
Is Pandora trying to learn the material? Yes.
Am I texting my friends saying Pandora is getting an F tomorrow and fuck it? You bet your ass I am.
( I am only human, after all)

Will she make an 'A' on tomorrow's test? I have no idea. What I do know is her mom didn't print the study guide until five minutes ago and the test is tomorrow. We did not prepare adequately for the exam and depending on what Pandora can accomplish during a frustrated afternoon will directly impact her grade. Whatever grade shows up, that grade is earned. And that grade is not a reflection on her teacher. It is a direct reflection of Pandora, Pandora's study habits, and Pandora and my time management. (Yes, I help my second grader by printing study guides and sitting down with her. However, my fifth grader - she is on her own.)

Can grades notify parents of a learning disability? Yes, but one F does not equal a problem. Two Fs do not equal a problem. You know there is a problem when your child is studying, reading, going to tutorials, getting extra help, and still does not understand the objectives. If that is happening, email the teacher and have a conference.

Are some teachers tough graders? Yes, but when did high expectations become a bad thing? I have watched Penelope struggle year after year as a writer. I have watched her try and give up and try and give up. The teachers that expected more, got more. She wrote beautifully for them because the expectation was set and she wanted to meet it. When I look at their weekly folders, I do not focus on the grade. I focus on what objective was missed and why. Crappy handwriting means you rushed. Skipped problems means you did not pay attention. I only reteach the concept if the assignment shows a lack of understanding and then I email the teacher asking for when they are available for extra help. There is no shame in extra help and the sooner your child understands that, the easier it will become to ask for that help.

I pay attention to grades. I get wrapped up in the rat race of grades, GPA, class rank, etc. I worry about my girls and the pressure they put on themselves. I worry about the anxiety grades can cause. Hell, I look at the on line grade book twice a day, sometimes three. However when a low grade pops up in the grade book, my first thought is "What the fuck did my kid do wrong" vs "What the fuck did the teacher do wrong."






Wednesday, November 13, 2019

First post

I have been asked to blog but in all honesty I feel like a tech loser - all the blogging sites are confusing the hell out of me. Anyway, at the advice of my cousin, I'll be using this site and am determined to figure it out.

I have two girls - they turn 7 and 4 this summer (2015). I am a SAHM, former educator.
I am outspoken, loud, sarcastic, and in general have the mouth of a sailor BUT I love hanging out with my daughters when they are not being whiny or annoying. We go on "field trips," bake, do art projects, and play. (Yes, they also watch TV, play on the computer and the iPad.) Some of our ideas take 5 seconds and end in tantrums, others are huge successes. I promise to share whatever we do because every child is different and our terrible idea may be a winner in your home.  I may also share random stories or conversations we may have.

This blog is dedicated to Penelope & Pandora - their smiles light up my heart.

I guess blogging is similar to a really long Facebook status?????

Sunday, September 29, 2019

5780

At sundown we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Every year we wish for ourselves, family, and friends a year filled with health and happiness and to be inscribed in the Book of Life. For the past 15 years the Book of Life has caused an uneasy feeling in me. It is hard to have faith when tragedy strikes, but year after year our belief grows stronger as we see the why behind our own tragedies and our purpose within ourselves. The further we get from what shook our beliefs to the very core, the easier it has become to be stronger in those same beliefs.

And then tragedy strikes again and we are left with questions we cannot answer. Our best friends buried their ten year old son two weeks ago. It was and still is horrific. It is something I cannot wrap my brain around and one day I pray we understand the why, but today as we are about to start the Jewish New Year I am finding myself once again grappling with the Book of Life.

There are teachings to explain any death, even the death of a child. Teaching of souls' purposes and life after death. These teachings are to bring comfort, but can there be any comfort when you're not ready for that person to be gone? How do you enter a new year when you are still mourning the way the previous year ended? How do you wish someone a sweet new year filled with health and happiness when at the moment all those around you are in despair?

I literally have no answers. And the lack of answers is what brings me closer to my faith and beliefs. I have to believe there is a reason for the devastation. I might not know the reason now and I might never know the reason, but for my own sake, my children's sake I will continue to trust in G-d and pray.

I will pray for healing for our best friends and their family. I will pray for all those that knew him and are experiencing a profound level of sadness that just won't go away. I will pray for smiles and laughter to once again fill their home and ours.

Life is short, make every moment count. You are strong. G-d gives you what you can handle. People get a deck cards and play the hand they are dealt. There is no rhyme or reason. All these cliches are designed to give someone feeling uncomfortable, something comforting to say.
Yet, there are no comfort in these words. They are just words.

With a new year, we are faced again with a choice. A choice on how to live. Do we live faithfully, angrily, joyfully, together, apart? How do we live?

As Rosh Hashana begins and the Book of Life is opened I know how I will live. I will live loudly in actions and if you know me personally, in volume too. I will continue to be proud of the person I am. I will be a wife, mother, family member, friend to the best of my ability and make no apologies for the fierce love I have for all those in my life. I will use that fierce love to protect and honor and remember. I will laugh loudly, smile big, and move at 100 mph, for that is who I am. I will find the joy because to live in intense grief and regret is not something I can do or want to do.

I will teach my children to live as they are, to follow their own dreams, to be the best version of themselves, to not fall victim to peer pressure. I will teach them and show them they are enough. They are enough. Their achievements, their love, their smile, their life - it is enough. They do not need to be exceptional scholars or athletes. They do not need to be anything but themselves for they are enough. How they each laugh and smile and bring joy is what matters. How they each set individual goals is what matters. How no matter the size of the accomplishment, pride should fill their hearts. I pray each year we have taught them this and we will continue to teach them this.

I am not an expert on faith, loss, and moving on. My words bring me comfort and may or may not do the same for others. I write to express myself, to live loudly.  As the year 5780 begins, I do pray my family, myself, my friends are blessed with health, joy, and love. I pray we are all inscribed in The Book of Life and we can all spend many more decades together, as family, as friends.