Saturday, December 31, 2016

Adios 2016, Hello 2017

2016. What a year.

There are many posts on Facebook how 2016 sucked. Some of the people are talking about the presidential election, some about all the celebrity deaths, some are referencing their are own personal disappointments.

My 2016 did not suck. yes, we had tough days. We had days of concern, stress, family drama, financial issues, major worries about each of our daughters, friends and family with divorce drama, company problems for my husband, social let downs, deaths of friends' loved ones, my aunt died and my grandma died. Looking at all this, one would think my year sucked. But it did not.

In 2016, we traveled, made happy memories, smiled, laughed, made new friends, and loved. My friends and family are all healthy, thank G-d, I am healthy - thank G-d, we have a lot to smile about. We have people who love us, people we can count on. Not everyone has people, but we do and we have many.

Each day gives us new hope, a new beginning, a new promise for a day that has yet to be written. Some days are for sure crappy, but it is just a day - start again tomorrow.

Maybe you had more crappy days than good days in 2016 and maybe your 2016 did really suck, but I did not keep track of how many crappy days I had. What's the point? Shouldn't we all look forward to tomorrow?

Yes, my grandma died. Yes, I attended two funerals in 48 hours, but the two women I lost would be pissed if I said my 2016 sucked because they died. Yes, they would both love the attention that sentence brings, but they were grateful for what life brought and they would both yell at me and call me a spoiled brat if I did not acknowledge all the good that was in my life.

I celebrated another year of holidays, birthdays, field trips, play dates, bike rides, my favorite television shows, sushi with my friends, steak dinners with my husband, coffee and drinks with get the idea. Even the smallest achievement, E2 moving from a 14" bike to a 16" bike, I witnessed and celebrated. E1 coming into her own stubborn, brilliant, loving personality, I have witnessed and celebrated (and drank wine on those stubborn days.)

2016 did not suck. It had days of disappointment, days of profound sadness, but my year did not suck.

I lived this year. I smiled this year. And I will do the same in 2017. I will find the good in my year and look forward to tomorrow.

Happy New Year, readers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Break

Winter Break!
Two weeks of no school!
Two weeks at home!
Two weeks of heaven!
Two weeks of hell!

I know many of my friends dread their kids being home. I get it. Children are annoying - they are needy whiny assholes and require much attention that we, their parent, must give them. While I personally love the break from the daily grind, I will admit my girls do get on my nerves. In an effort to keep their annoyance level low, here is a list of what we do -

Play Outside - Children do not care if it is hot or cold, so get out there. We go to different parks, ride bikes, ride scooters, go on nature walks (pick up leaves, acorns, etc), dig in the dirt, search for bugs/frogs/lizards, blow bubbles, draw with sidewalk chalk, jump rope, play hopscotch

Arts & Crafts - Put beads on pipe cleaners, color, paint, play with play-doh, create a life size person (trace your kid's body, cut out, decorate), make holiday decorations, paint boxes and use a hot glue gun to create anything, put tissue paper on contact paper to create stained glass windows, make designs out of hand prints, create something with toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls, lay a sheet on your floor and just give the kids anything you have in the house and see what they can create - the mess stays on the sheet

Bake - Cookies, cakes, cupcakes, etc. If you want baking to be a longer activity, let your children do it all. Your kids can read the directions, measure everything, and even crack the eggs. My girls (ages 8 and 5) do everything except putting and taking the pans from the oven.

Field Trips - Use the internet and search fun things to do with kids in your city. I will sometimes drive up to an hour for an activity and for the most part, it is worth it. We visit museums, aquariums, parks, ice skating rinks, bakeries, farms - I also search "Free" things do to with kids

Nothing- My girls play at home, without me. I send them to play and tell them "Don't call my name unless someone is physically hurt." I do not care what they do, what mess they make, as long as they are doing 'nothing' together and doing 'nothing' without me

Screens - Watch TV, play on the iPad, play on the computer - don't forget to set a time limit!

See a Movie - Take your children to the movies! There are always kid movies in the theater during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

School Work - My girls do some kind of school daily - anything from handwriting practice to math problems. E1 brought home a packet from school and E2 has a book we use, but you can find anything on the internet

Read - Uninterrupted time to read silently or read to each other is a great activity, a favorite is when I read to them

Board Games - Hi-Ho Cherry O, Candy Land, Googly Eyes, Connect Four - Play them all!

Science Experiments - Baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, dish soap - that's all you need for our favorite activity (Wizard's Brew). I google science experiments for kids and find one that seems fun and interesting. *Some of our activities are on this blog, under the label activities*


Saturday, December 10, 2016


I thought we had put this topic to bed in our home. I thought we were a no sleepover house. What I thought is proving to be wrong....

Everyone has slumber parties! Everyone has sleepovers! My child is one of two in our little area of our huge community that is not allowed to spend the night. We made this decision years ago. Years ago when E1 was way more introverted. Years ago when E1 needed 13 hours of sleep to function. Years ago when E1 did not express her opinion.


How do I tell my daughter that I do not want her to spend the night at someone else's home because I am afraid. I am afraid because there are pedophiles at every corner. Literally. Just this week in our community, a pastor at a church was accused of this. How do I send my daughter to another house when children are not safe at church? 

I recognize that this fear is irrational on some level. I recognize that pedophilia has been around for quite some time and the media has brought more awareness to this situation. I also recognize that at 8 years old, I do not think my daughter is strong enough to say no. I do not think my daughter is strong enough to tell an adult whom she thought she could trust, no. I do not think my daughter is strong enough to endure what could happen if G-d forbid this happened. 

So now what? Do I tell her she can spend the night at this house and that house because we have known those parents for six years and I trust them, but the nice kid around the corner whom we have only known for two years, well her daddy might touch you. What the fuck? How do I even rationalize this thought in my head??? I know it is insane, but is it?? I am for real asking - how insane am I? 

E1 has left slumber parties early. And she leaves pissed off. I cannot blame her. I went to slumber parties as a kid. I am fine. Hell, I let E1 ride her bike around our neighborhood unattended, but I won't let her spend the night out. Obviously, my crazy has a line and that crazy comes out when the sun sets. 

After much consideration, agonizing, talking to myself, etc I am reconsidering the sleepover thing.

Step One: Admit I am a little nuts
Step Two: Have a sleepover at our house first
Step Three: Let her spend the night out and stop freaking out.

I do not know when step three will happen, but I do know I cannot put it off any longer. 
I do know that what I once thought could be a firm family rule needs to change.
I do know that after typing that sentence I am now reconsidering again and thinking why do I need to change the rule - We are the parents, we make the rules.
I do know that I sound crazy again.

I fucking hate sleep overs.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Life Goes On

Last week my grandma died. My whole family gathered in Florida to say our goodbyes. The days were long and somehow she died a week ago. I am not sure how a week has passed, but as the saying goes -

Life goes on when my girls are playing, but then my tears come back as E2 starts crying at school drop off.
Life goes on when the gorgeous weather today made me smile, but then my tears come back when I simply think about her.
Life goes on when I am singing songs with the radio, but then I am snotting all over myself because a song reminds of my grandma.
Life goes on while I fold laundry, but when none of my aunts answer their phones I start crying thinking of their profound loss.
Life goes on when my family is greeted with smiles from neighbors, but the kind gesture of someone bringing us dinner turns me into a sobbing mess.
Life goes on when I attend a rezoning meeting for our school district, but then I get sad reading a text from someone offering condolences.

Life goes on when I yell at the traffic, cook dinner, take a walk, ride bikes with my girls, volunteer at the school, talk on the phone, watch TV, etc. The sun rises and sets and a new day will always begin and end.

I know the sadness will lessen.
I know my heart will heel.
I know there will come a day when I forget to think about her and that day is not something I am willing to admit.

In order for life to go on, I have to let go. I have to let go of the grief, the sadness, the tears.
I have to keep the memories tight and share them, but share them with a smile.
Life has gone on this week, but against my will.

I know my grandma would never want us to dwell in our grief, to dwell on yesterday's news.
She, of all people, knew how to pick herself back up and start life all over.
Tomorrow, I will start life over.
I will start my life without my grandma.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Job


Second grade is kicking our ass! Hot damn. I cannot even believe I am writing about second grade! Second grade!

It is no secret I am in love with E1's school. I mean, I REALLY love it. The teachers, staff, administration have the students' success at the core of every decision they make. Yes, it is public school. Yes, there are bureaucratic decisions I hate, but those decisions I should take up with my state legislature - not the principal.

Second grade has been filled with MANY new topics and a shift from learning to read to reading to learn. E1 is a bright child. I am even going to share that she is ridiculously smart. I am not being arrogant. I am not being "that parent,", I am being honest.

Even with her strong academic abilities, second grade is kicking our ass. It is kicking our ass because WE are all learning time management. If E1 has a test, she must study. An 8 year old has no idea HOW to study and WHEN to study. I am here to teach that lesson. And that lesson is a bitch.

Some weeks E1 has one test. Some weeks she has four. E1 is always given ample time to study. I thank second grade for this. I appreciate a week (or more) notice for a test. With all that time, E1 is learning to study a little bit each day.

Learning to study a little bit each day is a bitch. I will say it again. Time management lessons are a fucking bitch. We have disagreed on not how to study, but WHEN.

E1 should study BEFORE playing. BEFORE screens, BEFORE anything else. The five minutes a day won't kill her, but in her mind it is. In her mind she is dying a slow death each time she must study before doing an activity. How do I know this? Her attitude, her words, her body language expresses it all. She hates tests, she hates studying.

Guess what? I told her I hate tests and I hate studying, BUT if she does not learn how to study and WHEN to study I have failed as her parent. One day she will make her own study time table. She will no longer study with me. Hell, one day she will not even tell me she has homework.

Until that day it is my job as her parent to show her excellent study habits even when she knows the material. When you know the material, there is no harm in reviewing it. You cannot get cocky about academics. The day will come when E1 needs more than two minutes to learn a new skill. The day will come when she needs the tools we are giving her.

I know E1 sees the benefit of studying - she is confident in her academic abilities and confidence is priceless. Unfortunately she is 8 and her memory of doing well in school disappears every single time she must study.

I hate that we are struggling with each other over this.

E1 is expected to do her best. If her best is an F after studying, then that is her best. Case closed.

If she does not study, she is not doing her best. Being a student is HER JOB. A job requires a person to be prepared for their day and for the duties they must execute.  E1 is a student. Studying prepares her for her day. Studying prepares her for the duties she must execute.

It is annoying that in second grade the expectations are so great, but this is not a battle I am fighting. Education is moving in a direction I do not agree with, but that discussion should take place on Capitol Hill.

Maybe a day will come that I choose to go to Washington and try to make policy changes. For now, I will continue to hand my daughter her flash cards and study guides each day as she rolls her eyes and groans that tests are stupid.

Friday, October 28, 2016

At What Cost?


*This post is in no way a response to E1's school. I love E1's school and we continue to have a positive experience year after year.

**This post is in response to all the comments and behaviors I have witnessed and continue to witness as an educator, a parent, and a community member.

At What Cost?

Nothing but the best for my kid.
Failure is not an option.
If at first you don't succeed, try try again.
Work Harder.
Be smarter. 
Stop rushing.
That was a careless mistake.
Was this really your best?
Did you study as much as you could?
You may not play outside, you need to work on your school work. 

The pressure on today's children is more than before and while we want to blame education for these demands, we, as parents, should hold up a mirror to our face and take the responsibility.

In certain areas of our country, children apply to preschool. Apply?  I don't even know how the hell you do not get into preschool because I just wrote a check for both E1 and E2. Their preschool years were different because they are different. E1 loves to learn, is curious, and strives for perfectionism. E2 is happy to play with her friends, gain independence, and learn social skills. Quite frankly, E2's preschool years are much happier than E1's were.
Even in the preschool years, there is competition. Parents compare when their child began to read, add, subtract, etc. to other children in the class. Parents compare athletic ability at that young age too. The demands put on a four year old child nauseate me.

Then, as luck would have it, our children grow up and enter elementary school. From day one the pressure and comparison begin. What reading group are you in, what math group, who is in your group? Depending on the answers, parents hire tutors in kindergarten. We live in a world where 5 year old children have tutors. The children that have tutors are not the children with learning differences. They are children who are developing normally, but not at the speed of today's schedule. A schedule that may or may not be developmentally appropriate. An academic schedule that continues to be debated.

If "regular" pressure was not enough, we have the coveted Gifted and Talented Program - the holy grail. The GT program says, "My kid is smart and I am a rock star parent." Words cannot express my disdain for what has become of this program. The GT program, initially designed for the truly gifted learner, a program designed for learning differences, has become a program of arrogance.

A gifted child has a brain that learns differently. A gifted child requires a specialized curriculum designed to engage the type of learner the gifted child is. The gifted child requires hands on experiences, project based learning, and a critical analysis of what they are learning.

The GT program does NOT mean more worksheets. The GT program does NOT mean faster paced. The GT program is NOT a place for the elite, biased parent who believes their child is better than regular. Just because your child makes good grades, does not mean your child is gifted.  If the words elite and biased offend you, I am not sorry. Do you think no one heard you say your kid is better than those students? Do you think no one heard you when you said your kid belongs with better behaved students? There is a reason some GT programs are known as the "white flight." If you are pissed off, good. You should be. The GT program needs an overhaul.

To the parents that tell their child they are smart for being GT - you're an ass hat. First, not every parent tests their child for GT so there could be unidentified children running around on the playground. Second, each district and/or state tests differently so the validity of your gifted exam is crap. Third, why did you say that to your child?? Do you think they needed the affirmation? And what happens to your precious, smart GT child when they make a bad grade? Are they no longer smart? Should they no loner be in GT? Bravo on creating a crap-tastic environment for your child. GT does not equal smart. GT means requiring different learning strategies because the GT child learns differently.

The GT test, which many believe should not be administered before 3rd grade, tests more than intelligence. It tests critical thinking skills, logic skills, and problem solving skills. A child can be gifted and suck at academics. Then what? What in the world is the school supposed to do when the precious GT child is failing?? Food for thought- your program is ill designed if it is filled with nothing more than accelerated work.

To the child going around telling other children they are GT. First, I want to punch your parents in the face. Second, someone needs to teach you about bragging and how quickly you will lose friends. Third, all you are doing for your school is earning them more funding.
To the teacher that thinks she earned the 'right' to teach GT over regular, retire because your educational philosophy makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. You signed up to be a teacher and teach any child that enrolls in school. There is no earning a "better" class. You can, however, earn the respect of all your students, parents, and administrators by being a kick ass teacher regardless of the labels of your students.

To the school who places their strongest teacher in the GT class, I have two middle fingers for you. What kind of ass backward policy is that? Your strongest teachers belong with your most struggling students to help them achieve their highest potential. Struggling students are not dumb. They are students who have not been reached and if you have an amazing teacher, she/he belongs in the class with the students who have yet to be challenged and who have yet to be asked to meet high expectations.

A child's potential is not defined by a test. A child's future is not determined by a test. A label does not dictate what becomes of a child.

You know what determines a child's success?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Twelve years ago today I delivered our still born son.

Twelve years ago was a dark, sad time that I really did not think would turn around.
Twelve years is a long time ago.

In the last twelve years, I have grown as a person in all areas of life. The best thing that happened in the last twelve years? E1 and E2. I never thought I would be a mom.

This morning, while drinking my first cup of coffee, my husband asked me a simple question.
(My next blog post should be discussing the fact my brain does not work before my second cup of coffee.)
He simply asked, "Are we going to the cemetery today?"
My response, "I did not even realize it was October 26th."

At first, you would think I would feel guilty for not realizing today's dreadful date. Years ago I would have felt guilty. Today, I do not.

I thank G-d each and every day for the blessings in my life. I understand that from Eli's death came my health, my daughters, a strong marriage, and a new outlook on life. I understand that while I still cry thinking about all the hell we went through, the tears do not express regret. I understand that my life is filled with so much joy - a joy that would not exist had it not been for Eli.

I do not need to count down on a calendar to remember the day that forever changed me. In fact, visiting the cemetery is at the bottom of my list on how to honor Eli's memory. My husband finds solace in visiting the cemetery. I do not. I do not feel closer to my son while standing at his grave. He is not there. For me, the people who have passed on, are everywhere. They are in my heart, my thoughts. They are there when I need them.

I do not need to visit the cemetery on October 26th to remember and honor Eli. I remember and honor him daily. Even on the girls' worst days, I thank him. I am here because of him. The girls are here because of him. Our lives are the way they are because of him.

Today, a few people will text me and my husband and I will go to the cemetery. I will cry when I approach the grounds, cry standing at the grave, and cry as I leave.

However, the tears will stop much faster than years past.

My tears used to represent all that had been lost.
Now, they represent all that I have gained.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Category 5

Preschool, speech, OT, and softball practice for E2. The icing on the cake for her this Tuesday is all that is accompanied with a sinus infection. Damn germy kids. You would expect E2 to melt down each Tuesday from this crazed schedule, but she does not. She is not typically our meltdown child.

E1 is our meltdown child. When you love as big as she does, your anger is a spot on match. Hell hath no fury like E1. Seriously. Her meltdowns are caused by lack of sleep and poor nutrition. We know this for sure. With age, her meltdowns have lessened, but every now and then they blow through here like a category 5 hurricane.

Tonight's dinner was spaghetti and meatballs. E2 decided she just wanted the meatballs and some broccoli. E1 decided she wanted a meatball sub and broccoli. During our 10 minute drive home from softball practice E1 decided to forgo the sub and have the same dinner as E2.

And scene.

Dinner is served. E1 looks at me and starts crying with anger saying she wanted a sub. I explained the conversation I heard in the car, she says I misunderstood, I apologize, and remind her to watch her anger and tone. At this point, a meteorologist would tell you to go to your safe place. Unfortunately for me, E2 was in the middle of the storm and I could not run from the hurricane. E1 loses her shit. Screaming, crying, she refuses to eat, this isn't what she wanted, and then the kiss of death, a pet peeve of mine if you will, she pushes her plate across the table.

Oh E1, you know when I am super mad I don't yell. I move swiftly and quietly like a fox. I took the plate, placed it in the sink and excused her from the table. The screams, cries, continue while hate filled words of I don't want to live here fly out of her mouth. CATEGORY FIVE. I quietly take E2 by the hand and whisper to her that we are going to have a picnic in my room. I tell E1 to go upstairs and get in the shower. As our picnic began, I hear E1 screaming about not taking a shower, not living in this house, and she is hungry.

E2 and I discuss our days, our favorite things, and have a pleasant picnic of meatballs and broccoli in my room. We head upstairs for bath time. I go to check on E1 and for the second time this week, she has found items in her room (books, stuffed animals, pillows, comforters, etc) to barricade herself in her room. Getting smarter, she even locked the Jack & Jill bathroom door that leads to her room.

Oh E1, apparently you forgot what I told you the last time you did this.

Swiftly and quietly, I use my gorgeously shellaced nails to unlock the bathroom door. I walk quietly into E1's room, take out my trusty screwdriver, and take the door off the frame.

As I am removing the last screw, she comes out from her hiding spot in her closet. Simultaneously, my husband is staring at me as he literally just got home. All in a day's work, I tell him.

I do not give a rat's ass what caused the meltdown. Maybe it is the fact that she is tired from our week long trip to Disney. Maybe she is tired from her day. Maybe she is coming off the sugar high from the candy (which I said no to) she ate during softball practice. Maybe she is premenstrual at the age of 8. Maybe an alien took over brain. I DON'T GIVE ONE OUNCE OF CRAP as to the why.

NO ONE in this home is allowed to shove a plate across a table, scream, say hurtful words, and then barricade themselves in their room without consequence.

After discussing her behavior and acknowledging she made a mountain out of a mole hill, my hungry and door-less 8 year old is in bed.

And I am off to meet a friend for a beer.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Families are complicated. It doesn't matter if the family has adoption, inter-faith, divorce, death, sickness, financial issues - it all makes families complicated.

My family is no different. I am the youngest of two, but really four due to divorce and a second marriage. I was two when my mother married my step-father and my brother and I gained two step-sisters. At 39 years old, I can tell you it makes me mad to type step. They are my sisters. He is my father. It is easier for me vs my siblings to say this because I have no memories of any other way. I do not remember my mom and dad together. I do not remember just my brother and me. My step-father always lived with me. My step-sisters always lived with me - I do not remember it was every other weekend. They seem to me to have always been there. This was my family. My parents and my siblings.

I do not talk to my "real dad." Not one bit. Not at all. Nada. Zilch. Our relationship was volatile at best and by the time I was in 6th grade I had had enough. I sat in the lobby of a courthouse in 6th grade prepared to tell a judge I did not want to visit my dad and step-mom anymore. Luckily for me, I never had to testify and the judge ruled in my favor. And that was that. I stopped going.

My dad continued to see my brother - awkward, much? My dad continued and still continues to put my brother in the middle of our 25 year long struggle, can you say douche bag? My dad did not come to my Bat-Mitzvah. He did not want to help pay, so my mom invited him as a guest, but he was not called to the Bimah. Wrong? I don't know. All I know is he wasn't there. My dad offered me car at 16, but only if I drove to his house every weekend to hang with my step mom and learn to cook and sew, vomit much? My dad called on my 18th birthday to tell me I was a bitch. He did not come to my high school graduation. He ignored me at my brother's college graduation and even refused to talk to me at my brother's wedding. This guy is a class act. By the time I graduated college, we were not speaking - not even enough to argue. The silence was blissful to me and as I became an adult, I worked through my serious daddy issues and truly moved on.

Fast forward to my wedding when my mom invited him. Not me. He showed up and the next day I found out all the shit he spoke about me and my husband. Did my mom do the right thing? Sure. Did my dad, nope - but this time it wasn't shocking and it wasn't hurtful. It was his dark reality that he created.

Now, 27 I am pregnant and sick with CML.  My phone rings, it is my dad. He apologizes. Tells me he wants to be a grandpa and cannot imagine me dying. Months later, I lose the baby and start treatment and thank G-d, go into remission. My dad stopped calling.

So now, I am a mother of two amazing girls. I made the attempt to have him in our lives. Not for me, but for my daughters. Who am I to decide who their family is? At ages 8 and 5, it has been almost a year since he ignored my family of four at my nephew's Bar-Mitzvah. He came into our lives for the happy moments and as soon as the water got rough, he ran.  My nephew's Bar-Mitzvah was the last straw. You can shit all over me, I can take it and dish right back. But when your then 7 year old granddaughter says hi to you and you turn your back, you're fucking lucky I didn't kick you in the nuts and bitch slap you.

About a week ago, E1 asked about my dad. Bless her heart, she finally has all the divorces (there are a lot), second marriages (and thirds), cousins, step this, crap figured out. I can barely keep up with our family tree. That shit should be written in pencil so we can easily erase a mistake.

Anyway, she asked why we no longer see him. FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I explained to E1 that just like people get sick in their kidneys, liver, etc, people can get sick in their brain. I explained that I truly believe he is sick. Sometimes sick people make poor choices. He makes poor choices. He gets angry at me, his daughter, when I do something he doesn't like and then he won't talk to me. I further explained that I firmly believe no parent should stop speaking to their child. I explained that every single day I love her more, even on the days she makes me angry and that I would never ever stop speaking to her. I let her know as the parent, I have to make tough choices. Choices that are in the best interest of her. I told her it was my choice that we no longer see him. I chose to remove a person, a toxic person, from our lives. I chose to spare my daughter the hurt that comes from someone giving and then taking away their love. I chose to stop trying. I chose peace.

E1 took the news well. She didn't question my decision. She understood. Children can handle uncomfortable topics. They can handle them when you are honest. Parents tend to stay away from uncomfortable topics. I have found that if you are honest and use child appropriate words, children can handle pretty much anything.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Everybody's A Winner

Trophies....Everyone gets one.
Everyone is a winner.
Everyone is amazing.
Everyone is great.

In this day and age, feelings are most important. We should not make children feel badly so everyone gets an award. This concept annoys the piss out of me. Some kids are phenomenal athletes, some are high achieving scholars, some are excellent nose pickers and some are amazing tantrum throwers. What they all have in common is all they get the same award. At the end of the school year, the end of a sport season, they all get the same trophy. We are all the same. No one is better because that reality hurts feelings.

I call bullshit. May the best player win. May the top student receive the award. Survival of the fittest. You want a trophy? You want an award? You want recognition? Work harder to be better. This everyone wins is crap.

I promise you I thought this way and in some respects I still do, but now I see the other side. I still believe children must learn their strengths and weaknesses. They must learn how to lose. They must learn others are smarter, faster, better at something than them. They must learn to rise above personal failure and strive to do better.

But, I am not sure at what age they need to learn this.

E1 is the award winner for academics and even gets praised on the tennis courts. She's "that kid." And the award for excellence in reading, math, science, etc goes to....E1. I'm her mother and while proud, it is enough already. Her shit actually does stink. The good news, all these damn awards do not go to her head. Unlike her mother, self esteem is not her strength. While she humbly accepts these awards my heart breaks for the student that worked his ass off to learn to read, or to learn to add, or learned to share. Where are the awards for these children? Aren't they worthy of feeling good about themselves? This year the excellence in academics award is only given to those with averages of 93 or better in each subject. Holy shit balls. That's a challenge! That is some serious academic excellence. What about the student that has a 92.3. Poor schlub. She doesn't get the excellence award. Hot damn. When did a 92 not scream excellence? Yes, I recognize this thinking is what lead us down the path of everyone is a winner. Awards separate the men from the boys. I guess I should count my blessings that E1 is "one of the men" and no longer worry about "the boys" on awards day.

What truly caused me to look at this topic differently? To really see this from another perspective? E2

E2 is the child with no awards. She is the sweetest, most hard working child I know. Because of her delays she is not the smartest in her class or the best athlete on the field. E2 is not great at softball. She is barely good. What she is, is learning. Motor planning delays and playing a sport is like trying to get oil and water to mix. Language delays and playing a team sport is like trying to shake a soda can and open it without the soda exploding. Playing softball is the MOST challenging thing E2 has ever experienced.
She cried when she missed the ball at bat.
She cried when she could not field the ball.
She cried when the players on her team ran faster for the ball.
She cried when it hurt her legs to squat for so long.
She cried when she did not remember the players' names so telling her who to throw the ball to was pointless.
She cried when she did not understand the directions of what to do.
She cried. She cried. She cried.
So what did we do? We practiced every single day. Every afternoon, in our backyard (so no one would see her) we played softball. She practiced and she learned. E2 can catch a ball in the outfield. E2 can throw the ball to girl X. E2 can throw the ball to first. Hell, E2 can throw the ball! E2 can squat, run, and believe it or not - she can hit that fucking ball with the bat! Holy shit! E2 can play softball! Is she the best? Nope, not even close.

Did she deserve the trophy? YES. HELL FUCKING YES. E2 deserved the everybody is a winner trophy because damn it, she is a winner. She accomplished something huge and damn it, she deserved to be recognized for it. She deserved that trophy for trying. She deserved that trophy for improving. She deserved that trophy because she accomplished a team sport that is difficult for anyone to learn, let alone a child in PT, OT, and speech. And let me tell you, her smile when she received that trophy was AMAZING. E2 showed her sister her first trophy. E2 showed her daddy. E2 showed me a million times. E2 slept with the trophy. E2 put the trophy in the playroom so everyone could see it. E2 carried around her trophy for two days while she said, "This is my trophy for softball. I won."

"I won."

Did she win? By some standards, ones I believe in, she did not. By other standards, ones I believe in, she did. I do not know when you should stop giving trophies to all. I do not know when children should learn they are not great in everything they do. I do not know the answer.

That trophy gave E2 something a mother's love, a friend's love, a relative's love can never do because love is blind.

But a trophy? A trophy shows everyone, "You are a winner."

Thursday, September 22, 2016



I hate them. Yes, I hate them. They are tiny, annoying, plastic pieces of crap. I do not even understand them. What are they exactly? I googled "Shopkins - what are they?" This is what I found.

Shopkins is a range of small, collectable toys, manufactured by Moose Toys. Based on grocery store items, each plastic figurine has a face and unique name. The collectable toys (which are designated as common, rare, and ultra rare) have also spawned a line of books and trading cards, as well as a YouTube channel.

I am sorry, but that is NOT an accurate description of Shopkins. Shopkins are small plastic pieces of shit. Shopkins are over priced teeny toys. Shopkins are small toys that randomly show up under couch cushions. Some Shopkins are tiny charms that can even go down the bathtub drain. Shopkins create a huge mess. Shopkins are a tiny army that take over your house. Shopkins create drama. Shopkins are designed for imaginative play, but they are too small to enjoy other toys so Shopkins come with their own play lands. Shopkins do not create a sharing environment unless you have many Shopkins. Shopkins that are 'ultra rare' are sooooo special they do not get shared, but they get lost due to their size. Shopkins get eaten by the dog. Shopkins can fit up a nose. Shopkins can fit in the crevices of a car seat to never be seen again. Shopkins are the bane of my existence (for now).

Shopkins were created by the devil himself.

I hate Shopkins.

E1 and E2 LOVE Shopkins. Moose Toys markets to their demographics very well. Unfortunately for Moose Toys, my girls have no money and mama's money is done buying Shopkins.

                               (this is a fraction of the army of Shopkins that reside in my home)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Real Struggle

Middle school students are my favorite students. Even with all their personality flaws, they are fun, caring, witty, and STILL want a teacher who cares enough to teach them.

Struggling readers. This is a REAL problem in education. Before the girls were born, I taught 6th grade reading for years and then became a literacy coach for a high school - yes, I am nuts. Like I have said a million times, struggling readers are my best students. My favorite students.

This school year I am blessed to work some amazing students. Their smiles are as big as their face, their willingness to learn is strong, and their inability to read fluently or comprehend is as big as the Grand Canyon.

It is painful to see a 12 year old boy cry because a 3rd grade book is too difficult to read.  It is gut wrenching to do a lesson on syllables and suffixes with a 13 year old girl who can not read the word 'visiting.' It is alarming to know that these children have not been taught. It makes me furious! How the hell did it get this bad?!?  How did the reading teacher not notice the child who uses exact text from the book to answer comprehension questions vs her own words indicates she has NO idea what she reading?

Don't believe me? Today, my student had to answer the question, "How did Walt earn free haircuts?" Her response written perfectly "Walt earned free haircuts with his artistic talent."  My response to her answer? That's a great answer. In fact, that answer gives me the exact sentence from the book. I am so happy you found where to look for your answer. What exactly does your answer mean?  The student not only could not read her answer, she did not know what it meant and had no idea what she read about in chapter two.

This is not an exaggeration. This is real life. Real students. Students that had teachers. This student is in 7th grade.

The reason these students are behind? We, their teachers, their administrators, their school, failed them. We spent too many hours bitching how behind they were vs doing the work it took to get them on grade level. We spent too many hours judging the mom who went to the nail salon vs reading with her child. We spent too many hours judging the parents working two jobs to put food on the table. We spent too many hours judging the mom 'who works nights.'

Guess what? None of these parents woke up on any morning and said, "Hey kid of mine - fuck you. I don't care about you. Good luck with school." Their parents DO care. Maybe they don't 'care' they way you 'care' for your own kids, but they do care.

How about we stop judging the student's home life and actually TEACH the child. What a novel idea. TEACH them!
Will it be hard? Hell yes.
Will you have to spend extra time on your lesson plans? Hell yes.
Will you have to utilize small group instruction? Hell yes.
Will you possibly have to teach phonics to a child that should already know it? Hell yes.
Will you make a difference? Hell yes.

Stop recording a 70 in your grade book and start recording what the child earned. You are not doing them any favors by passing them along. Stop saying you don't have time. That's bullshit. Make the time. You chose this profession. It is your job to TEACH every student that walks through your classroom door no matter what their level is. And if you teach elementary, please don't ever tell a secondary teacher you have too many students. I swear your 40 is nothing compared to their 200.

Please have hard conversations with parents and administrators and explain the child's academic struggles. Most parents are not teachers. They only know what you tell them. If their kid passed, then they think they learned. This is what you have communicated with your report card. If the child is failing and needs a tremendous amount of help and at the end of the year they are still behind, it is OK if to recommend retention. It is far less embarrassing to repeat fourth grade than it is to be in middle school and be on a 2nd grade reading level. Don't believe me? Teach middle school kids and you will. These children refuse to read out loud, refuse to do their work, and get sent to alternative schools. The reason they refuse? They literally cannot do the work.

Teachers: I BEG you, ASK your students WHY they are not doing something. ASK them in PRIVATE. Build a relationship with them. If you're lucky, while you're teaching them, they will teach you a few things too.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Because I am an A**Hole

Before I start my rant, I mean blog post, let me say I am not an "anti-vaxxer." As a cancer survivor, I completely understand what immuno-compromised means. As a mother who has seen the devastating effects from common illnesses, I understand the need for vaccines. As a person who is a fan of well health, I understand the purpose of vaccines. I understand what herd immunity means. My children are both completely vaccinated. What I will bitch about is the way people are vilified if they CHOOSE not to vaccinate. This is not a topic I would typically touch with a ten foot pole, but this momma is pissed off. I am sure by tomorrow, I will not be aggravated. Tonight, however, I am annoyed.

The school district sent home a sheet today explaining that my child along with all the other students could receive the flu vaccination from school. I MUST fill out the form. The form, itself, is not optional. The vaccination is.

After a few questions ranging from how old is your child to allergies to health issues, the district then gives you two choices. You MUST check one.

YES, I WANT TO HELP PROTECT MY FAMILY AND COMMUNITY FROM FLU BY ALLOWING MY CHILD TO RECEIVE A FLU VACCINE! (this option was written just like this- all caps, in bold, underlined)

NO, I DO NOT wish to help protect my child and community by allowing my child to participate(reason)_____
(written just like this- smaller font, no bold, no underline)

So to my daughter's school's district-
You have a lot of chutzpah to word your document this way. I would have checked yes, but due to your arrogance, I am checking no and here are my reasons:

  1. I am the parent.
  2. I will take my daughter to her doctor.
  3. I am an asshole.
  4. She already received her flu shot.
  5. Your job is to teach the state requirements and flu vaccination is not part of the curriculum.
  6. Fuck you.
  7. My kid hates needles.
  8. The flu vaccine is NOT required to attend school. When it is, you may have your opinion.
  9. My child's medical needs are my business.
  10. Your wording pissed me off.
  11. I am saying no because I want to see what happens.
  12. Because I said no and that is my right.
DAMN. Why is the form worded this way??? FOR REAL. How about:
____ I would like the school to administer the flu vaccination to my child.
____ I would not like the school to administer the flu vaccination to my child.

Is that so hard? If it is, I can help you redo the form for next year.

How dare you ASSume by checking no that I am careless, reckless, and do not give a damn about my child, my family, and my community. That could not be further from the truth! I care deeply about all those people. ALL of them. 

What I do not care for is your jackass attitude. Your jackass wording. Your jackass thought that a parent who checks no might actually be responsible and make a decision benefiting their child. 

Your form is maddening and again, I vaccinate my kids. I can only imagine what parents, who have valid reasons for saying no to the flu shot, are thinking. 

I get it. People die from the flu. I know this. I also know the flu vaccine is not legally required and your form is intended to scare people into checking yes.

I will protect my child, my family, and my community. I will also be checking NO. 
My reason? None of your damn business. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Just Wait

I have many things that annoy me (shocking), but people who add "just wait...." sentences into the conversations really get on my nerves. I have been guilty of this behavior, but I truly make a conscience effort not to do it. If I have done it to you, I am sorry. While I recognize people are trying to help, these sentences belittle the experience the other person is going through PLUS the other person never asked for the advice, story, experience etc that follows your "Just wait..."  Added bonus? Your "just wait" sentence makes you look like an ass who was not really listening and just wanted to hear themselves talk.


My newborn baby is so sweet.
Just wait until he/she stops sleeping. My kid blah blah blah

I feel like I have been driving all day.
Just wait til your kids are older like mine, I am never home, blah blah blah

My baby won't eat vegetables.
Just wait until they are toddlers and throw the food at you, blah blah blah

The mosquitoes are nuts this season. My kids are getting eaten alive in our backyard.
Just wait until you are outside for a sport like me, blah blah blah

The stress of school work starts so young. It is unfortunate.
Elementary is nothing Just wait, blah blah blah

My kid went for a bike ride and did not check in.
Just wait until they are older and you never know, blah blah, blah

Potty training is so hard.
Just wait until you have to blah blah blah

ALL THE TIME this happens! I hear my friends say it to other friends or to me. Hell, I have even heard it to random people in the grocery store. JUST STOP! The reason I have to type blah blah blah in all the responses....I stopped listening to you.

If someone asks you for advice, then give it. A conversation between friends is NOT an invitation for you to hijack said conversation with what you think is life altering advice. Having older kids or a different experience does not make you an expert.  Instead of "just wait," how about saying, "Girl, I feel you. I have been in my car all day too. Totally sucks. Want to meet for a cup of coffee between the carpool runs?"

It is so fucking annoying when people do this. I am not calling you to hear your advice. I called my friend to see how they were doing, check in, have someone to chit chat with, etc. If I want your "just wait" experience, I will ask "Does this get worse? Better? What did you do?"

Do you want to add to the conversation? Then try not starting your sentence with "just wait." When it is your turn to speak, tell your story. I want to hear about your day. I really do.

And if this has never happened to you.....JUST WAIT.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

First Day Teacher Gifts

Last year for those that do not know, E1 transitioned from a private school to our neighborhood public school. While the 1st grade year as a whole was awesome, her very first day was a complete cluster fuck. You can read about that here:

I also learned on that first day that some suburban moms, about 60%, arrive with gifts for the teachers. I was completely thrown off guard. There were small gift cards and pinterest inspired gifts. Nothing too major, but just enough to say "Thanks for what we hope is a great year."

This year, I remembered and succumbed to peer pressure because let's be honest - I love this shit. I love decorating for parties, hosting dinners, entertaining kids, arts & crafts, etc.  I am a full blown creative weirdo. I really do enjoy the little stuff.

Like any normal suburban mom, I drove to our mecca- Target. There I googled candy sayings for teachers while I said fuck a million times because the fucking Target didn't have the fucking candy needed for the fucking sayings. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Up and down the aisles I walked looking for something else. Too expensive, Too cheap. Too dumb. DAMN IT, WHY an I doing this??? Oh yeah, I like it and peer pressure.

I went back to the candy aisle and in between fucks and shits and damn its, I created my own teacher candy saying.

"I will BURST with SMARTS having an EXTRA GRAND teacher like you!"
(Starbursts, Smarties, Extra gum, 100 Grand candy bar)


In the words of Taylor Swift, "Cause the players gonna play, play play....And the Haters gonna hate, hate, hate..."

Don't be a hater, be a player!!!  Or just SHAKE IT OFF!

Damn I love Taylor Swift.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rainbow Grilled Cheese

A friend of mine posted a picture of her kids eating a rainbow grilled cheese and I thought it was cool, so we made one!

E1's cheese did not "stretch" like the pictures on the link, but she did not care.

Super fun.
Super easy.
Rainbow grilled cheese!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Whole Hand

Happy 5th Birthday!!!!

How did we get here? How are you five? A whole hand! My teeny, tiny, horrible, awful, make me want to stab my eye with a fork, newborn has become and continues to be an amazing, determined, generous, thoughtful, kind, happy girl.  You amaze me, daily.

You are the best teacher I have ever had.

You have taught me the true meaning of thoughtful.
Each night as we sit down to dinner, you get up and get your sister a glass of water first. When you finish your speech therapy or occupational therapy and you get a lollipop, you ask to get one for your sister. When I ask you what you want to watch on TV, if your sister is around you pick her favorite show. When a friend is hurt, you bring them a band-aid. When a friend is sick, you ask daily if they are feeling better. When we have a play-date, you tell me what games your guest will want to play. When Daddy is out of town, you ask how is he doing. When your cousins come to play, you remind me of their favorite restaurant. When you draw or create, it is always for someone else. You are always thinking of others. Even when it is your time to shine, you still think of others. You rejoice in other's triumphs. You cheer for everyone.

You have taught me the true meaning of determination.
Each day as you wake, you wake to a day of learning new tasks and you wake ready to go. You do not know the meaning of I cannot. You only know the meaning of I can try. As you continue to achieve new goals and soar to new heights, you continue to try. You are the hardest working child I know. Your determination has no time table. If you want it, you will do it. You did learn to ride a two wheel bike. You did learn to flip over the uneven bars in gymnastics. You did learn to skip. You did learn to catch a ball. You did learn how to play T-ball. You did learn how to play hop-scotch. You did learn to jump in the water. You did learn to climb the rock wall. You did learn to write all the letters of the alphabet. And now, on your 5th birthday, you are determined to read. You ask for work every day. You are determined to figure out beginning, middle, and final sounds. Just when I think we have hit a brick wall, your determination shines through and you do it. You always find a way.

You have taught me the true meaning of joy.
Not everyone in this world is happy. Not everyone can find their smile. But you- Your smile has never been lost. You are joyful. You are happy. You are radiant. From ear to ear, your smile takes over your whole face. You smile when we run errands, you smile when you play, you smile when you go to school, you smile when you sing songs on the radio, which by the way is the cutest thing ever. You smile when you you sleep, yes you really do. You smile when it rains, when it is sunny, whenever whatever the day brings, you smile. Your smile makes others smile.

You have taught me the true meaning of grateful.
You are thankful for everything. You tell Daddy and me thank you if you receive a present. You thank me for dinner, you thank me for doing your hair. You thank your therapists, your teachers, your friends. You are grateful for all this life has offered and continues to offer you. Their is emotion behind your "thank you." It is not just a word to avoid the parent stare. It is a true emotion in your huge heart. When you say thank you, you mean it. You understand it. Your thank you means the world to anyone that receives it.

Not a day goes by without someone commenting how beautiful you are, how cute you are, how gorgeous you are. What you need to know on this 5th birthday, is you are SO MUCH MORE. Your pretty face is no match for what you carry in your heart. You are beautiful on the inside and that is what fills me with immense pride. You will accomplish anything you want because even at the young age of five, you know you are in charge of your future. You know patience and time is all you need.

Behind the twinkle in your eye, the joy in your smile, and the love in your heart is the secret to a happy, successful life. Success is what you define it to be and my five year old daughter, you are the most successful little girl I know.

I love you more today than yesterday.

HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY to my rainbow obsessed daughter.

What a year it has been and what a year it will be!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

For My Grandma

Every time I sit down to write this, I find something else to do. How do you tell someone you love them without thinking about when you won't be able to tell them? There has been some tragedy in our community recently and before I don't ever have the opportunity to say it loud and proud, I will say it now.


I know you know, but just in case my sarcasm and bitchy attitude has led you down a different path please know I love you.

This past Saturday as we sat in shul, the Rabbi asked if there was anyone in the congregation that wanted to add a name for his weekly Mi Shebeirach - a prayer for healing. Without prompting, your eight year old great granddaughter stood up to say, "My Bubbe."

I cried.

You are not sick. You are fine. You are 87 and even my eight year old knows people don't live forever.

Please know I love you. We all love you. You created four amazing daughters who created their own children who are creating their own children. You created a family that knows nothing is more important than family.

I know we pick on you. I know I pick on you, but that is because you can take it. You dish it out pretty well too. If anyone needs to know where the women in our family got their attitude from - all they have to do is meet you. We got our strength from you too.

When you mailed me cookies in a shoe box and they arrived all broken, I loved you.

When you worked at Burdines and bought me clothes I did not like, I loved you.

When you called me a spoiled brat, I loved you.

When you took out your teeth and just left them on the counter like it was NOT the grossest thing ever, I loved you.

When you slapped me at my Bat-Mitzvah under some "tradition" of becoming a woman, I loved you.

When you took me to the beach every summer, I loved you.

When you forced me to race my brother and cousins in the water to make us better swimmers, I loved you.

When you sent a picture of yourself to me and I asked if I was to show this to the police if you got lost, I loved you.

When you ask on the phone if I am feeling OK, I love you.

When I roll my eyes at your ridiculous comments, I love you.

When I yell at you because some old lady at your apartment complex was rude, I love you.

When you can barely get in the car and yell at me for trying to help you, I love you.

When you tell me I am being a bitch, I love you.

When you trust me to tell me your gripes, I love you.

When you ask me to get you something and then yell at me to do it because I am not moving fast enough, I love you.

When you get mad at us at a family dinner because we are too loud, I love you.

When you get your feelings hurt because I am actually being a bitch, I love you.

When you tell me your time is coming and you are marking things off your bucket list, I cry and I love you.

I love you on Facebook, I love you during our phone calls, I love you.

When you disagree with my political beliefs, when you disagree with how I parent, when you disagree with anything, you tell (yell at) me. You always let me know how you feel because you love me and I love you too. You are who you are and at 87, there is definitely no changing you. And honestly, even though you could literally drive me to drink, I would not change you. I love you.

I know we all carry a piece of you. I know every woman in our family is headed to be the mayor of crazy town and I know our kids will love us. They will love us when we are funny, caring, mean old ladies because we love you.

You created that. The family that loves no matter what.

Yes, I get frustrated with you sometimes.
Yes, I want to strangle you sometimes.
Yes, I want to scream at you sometimes.
Yes, I roll my eyes at you sometimes.

But most of all, I love you all the time.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Party On

When was the last time you went to a Bat/Bar-Mitzvah party?

In the last 18 months the hubs and I have been to four. My nephew's and three friend's. There are the staple items at the party: photo booth, glow necklaces, dancers, and another party favor. I have seen T-shirts, hats, wax hands, henna tattoos, the list is endless.

What I love most about Bat/Bar Mitzvah parties are the guests, kids included. It is some of the best people watching in the world.

There is always a kid crying somewhere. Someone hurt their feelings, someone took their seizure inducing blinking ring, the crappy plastic piece came off their glow in the dark necklace, someone stepped on their toe, or my personal favorite that actually happened to us - crying because dancing is not fun. E1 actually pulled this line at a party. I wanted to strangle her. Dancing is not fun? If I could have said shut the fuck up, I would have. She snapped out of it after about 20 minutes, but damn. Like I said, some kid is always crying.

Another favorite kid of mine at a 'BM' party is the show stopper. That kid is the one that takes over the dance floor for a few minutes and everyone thinks the kid is the greatest dancer of all time. Pretty sure at this point most of the adults are drunk and the kid is just cute, but maybe I am wrong and all these show stoppers will get into Julliard.

Did I say drunk adults? Oh yes, I did. DRUNK ASS ADULTS ARE AWESOME.

Between the wine, the bourbon, the vodka, and whatever else we got from the open bar we have decided that not only are we the best dancers, but we are just the best period. The men dance off and on while the women strut their stuff like their shit don't stink. All the women join in the fun of dancing to only find themselves and their friends sweating like we just worked out with a trainer. Is it the alcohol causing the sweats? Maybe. Is it early menopause and hormone imbalances? More likely.

There are also dresses which inch closer and closer to grown women's ass cracks as they jump up and down. Boobs go up and down too because bras made for 40+ year olds are not made for dancing and wearing a sports bra under a cocktail dress is unacceptable.

The women, mostly moms, eventually take a break from dancing to literally yell at their shitty ass husbands for doing nothing but schmoozing while their children need to use the restroom, eat dinner, and don't forget cry. It is hard work to down your second glass of wine, dance, and talk while your damn kids cry for your attention. Fucking dads. They do nothing.  At least I got my own kids to eat some M&Ms for dinner. What did my husband do? He brought me another glass of wine so I would calm the fuck down.
Remind me again why we brought the kids...oh yeah, family event.

Then there is the Single Ladies dance. Oh Beyonce', we love you. We are all married. We are all just about 40, 40, or over 40, but your song comes on and we shake our asses and pretend we have no husbands. This song is the new "I will Survive." Move over Gloria Gaynor, I will prove to Beyonce' I am hot by waving my hand that actually has a ring on it.

And it is not just Beyonce'. You gather any group of women in this age group and we will lose our ever loving mind if a Justin Timberlake song comes on. And for the love all things holy, do not, I repeat do not get in the way of a group dance. We will not only drag your ass into our white girl dancing circle, but we will make you dance in the center of it while you look like an idiot, but since we are drunk we don't realize it until the video shows up on Facebook.

I cannot even talk about the Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper. Drunk adults do not know left from right and it is important to know left and right when needing to 'slide to left' or to 'stomp.'  This won't stop us. It for sure does not stop me.

The photo booth is another one of my favorite people watching experience at a 'BM' party. There are the family shots with the props and then there are the family shots of the perfect family smiling. However 30 seconds before the flash went off the kids were crying and the parents were annoyed telling them to stop. I am totally guilty of these pics and I laugh when I see them hanging on my fridge. We are SO perfect. HA!

BUT, my personal favorite pictures from the photo booth is of course the pictures of the moms - myself included. What is wrong with us??? Between the kissing lips, the Miley Cyrus tongue out pose, the inappropriate ass grabbing pose, the arm on hip to make you look skinnier pose, or just the accidental picture of our mouths wide open from laughter - these pictures are by far the best ever.  BEST. EVER. I love it.

Bat/Bar Mitzvah parties are just fantastic. This party is in celebration of the awesome 13 year old that read from the Torah and made a life long commitment to Judaism. It is a beautiful simcha shared with family and friends.

So where is this child at the party?
They are busy hanging out with their friends, dancing here and there, and whispering about the drunk adults.


Where is my next invitation?

Friday, August 5, 2016


I am already crying. It happens every year. Your birthday rolls around and I start to cry. This year, you are eight. I swear we were celebrating your 7th birthday yesterday.....but we were not. 365 days have passed and now you are 8! EIGHT!!!

Today and every day you should know how much I love you. 

At eight years old, you are caught between child and tween. You are not little anymore but you are not big either. You sing songs to Kids Bop and yet write letters to the Dream Fairies because you are believer. 

You are a BELIEVER.

You believe in greatness. 
You believe in honesty. 
You believe in perseverance. 
You believe in family. 
You believe in G-d. 

We are so lucky to be your parents. This year has been phenomenal. You believed in yourself, you trusted our advice, you held your head high, and you showed the world exactly who you are. You are intelligent, funny, athletic, passionate, and most importantly - kind.

I hear your kindness when you tell me about a friend from school. 
I hear your kindness when you tell me about your teacher and how others treated her.
I hear your kindness when you talk to me about our family. 
I hear your kindness when you offer help to anyone in need. 
I hear your kindness when you talk to me about your concerns.
I hear your kindness when you give a "pep talk" to a friend or your sister.
I hear your kindness when you pray.

I see your kindness when you invite everyone you know because no one should feel left out. 
I see your kindness when you ask if we can give food to the homeless man on the street. 
I see your kindness when you wave hi to a friend at the grocery store. 
I see your kindness when you silently take a step back to let someone else have a chance.
I see your kindness when you decorate cards for our family.
I see your kindness when you take your sister's hand to cross the street.

I feel your kindness in your strong embrace, I feel it when you cry, I feel it when we snuggle.

I know you are not perfect, although you strive to be. 
Your passion gets you in trouble sometimes and those days are tough. 
On your worst day, you are still kind.

We know your future is going to be amazing and I have even come to terms with the fact you will most likely be an Aggie. It is your kindness that will keep you wanting to be a veterinarian. 

The world is a better place because you were born.

Our world is a better a place because you were given to us. Believing that one day G-d will bless you with the child that is the right for you is hard to do, but after eight years I can promise you one thing - You were always a part of us and we were always meant to be.

On this 8th birthday, I hope you never stop believing and never stop being kind. It is these two things that will lead you down your path of greatness. 

Happy Birthday. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Spray Paint

This is an outside activity!!

Spray Bottles
Powder Tempera Paint
Duck Tape

My girls love to do projects. They especially love to paint. As I have stated in previous posts, I buy powder tempera paint from Amazon. All you have to do is mix the powder with water and voila, paint! The amount of water necessary depends on how thick you want the paint.

The spray bottles and paper are from Wal-Mart. The spray bottle handle needs to be the right size for your child. If it is too big, their little fingers won't be able to squeeze it.

I mixed the paint and water in the spray bottle and let the girls work their fine motor skills!

Both of them had so much fun making creations.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Just Because You Can

**Warning- some of you are going to disagree with me and that is a-o-k.**

Reading. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

As a former reading teacher I heard it EVERY year - "I already read that book." My response was always the same, "Well, you haven't read it with me."  Funny how the child(ren) who had already read that book never made a 100 on any assignment - why? Because they didn't truly read the book. They read the words, but they didn't understand the novel on the level it was intended to be understood.

Reading levels tell parent and educators what type of vocabulary to expect, what type of sentence structure to expect, the maturity level of the book, and more.

I know many children read above their grade level. I get it. I taught those kids. I also parent that kid. It is annoying to find books that can challenge a gifted reader.

What is more annoying are the parents that think just because their kid can sound out every word means they should read any book in the store or library. Just because your 8 year old can read on a 5th or 6th grade level, does not mean they should read that book. Yes, their vocabulary is high. Your child is articulate. The books designed for their age group are SO below their ability. I GET IT. The same goes for my oldest. You know what she is reading? Junie B Jones (which I hate), Boxcar Children (which I find boring), some other second grade chapter books, and picture books like Pinkalicious (she still loves them.) She is reading those books independently because the material is appropriate for her.

TOGETHER, while she was in first grade, we read the Ramona series. (4th grade level)

TOGETHER. E1 read pages out loud, we read out loud, E1 read silently. We discussed the book and all the topics that were in that book so she could truly understand the book. We discussed parents losing their job, lost wages, the stress of family changes, and all the other subject matter E1 would have skimmed over had she read alone. We helped her discuss if she was like Ramona or Beezus and why. We talked about the difference between frustration and anger. We discussed how sisters can hate each other but still love each other. We discussed doing the right thing when no one is looking vs being a suck up. We discussed many things.

Since the Ramona series is on a 4th grade reading level and E1 can read all the words with no problem, then E1 should read that level. WRONG. I don't want her reading Number The Stars alone. That book is on a 4th grade reading level, but it is about the Holocaust. I do not think that subject matter is something for an 7 year old to read about alone. Or how about some Judy Blume books? Those are 4th grade reading level. Pretty sure E1 doesn't need to read about getting her period for the first time in the bathroom during school. My kid has enough worries...that doesn't need to be one of them.

This past week I read Wonder. It is an AMAZING book! I am tutoring a 6th grader in reading and this book is required by his middle school. My niece (almost 10, going into 5th grade) saw the book and told me how so many of her friends had read that book a year ago or even in 3rd grade. I was beyond irritated. My sister told me the same thing.

The book is labeled with a 5th grade reading level. E1 asked if she could read the book. My response was, "Yes you CAN read the book, but you will wait to read the book." E1 was pretty annoyed and I don't care. The book is about the trials and tribulations of an incoming Jr. High student who has been home schooled due to his facial deformities. On the surface the book seems to cover social acceptance and bullying.

But, there are much deeper topics. Topics that do not belong in an elementary school brain. For example, the main character's sister states "Countless babies who'll never be born." She says this when discussing being a carrier of the "mutant gene" that deformed her brother. E1, at age 7, does not need to 1) read this sentence and not understand it and 2) read it and then have us discuss what it means. She is 7! Why does she need to know about decisions like that - Decisions about whether or not to have babies based on your genetic history...NO THANKS! This is just ONE example of many mature topics in this book that are perfect for adolescents to discuss, but not perfect for little children to discuss.

I do not believe in censorship. I would much prefer E1 and E2 learn about things through reading vs the television, but I am still the parent and I still decide when is the right time to learn about certain topics.

It is fine if you let your child read books above their grade level....BUT READ IT FIRST! Make sure your child is capable of understanding the entire book and mature enough to read the book.

Or if you are going to have your child read a novel above their grade level/age, then read WITH them so you can discuss the topics, define words they typically would not have known, and check for understanding.

Children learn much more than basic comprehension skills when reading. They learn about cause and effect, predictions, figurative language, imagery, making inferences, theme, author's purpose, plot, character development, point of view, using context clues, and a shit ton more!

My list of what children learn while reading could go on and on and on...I am after all, a former reading teacher.
And if you do not understand one thing I just wrote, don't worry - your kid's teacher does.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Getting Ready

Ugh....School starts in three weeks. UGH! You would think a former educator would not 'hate' school so much, but I do. I hate schedules, making lunches, being rushed, morning alarms, and all the other annoying crap.

August is here in a few days and school starts in three weeks. E1 will be starting second grade and E2 will be entering her last year of preschool!

This summer, the girls have been going to bed late, waking up late, relaxing, enjoying summer. At this very moment E1 is still asleep and it is 9 am, in three weeks by 9:00 she will have already been at school for more than hour. Sigh.

I need to get them ready for the school schedule.

In the next three weeks I will work backwards to reset their internal alarms in an effort to prepare them for the jolt you feel when school starts.

Starting Monday, no one gets to sleep later than 8:00 am. The following week, 7:30, and the week before school starts, 7:00 am. (E1's alarm goes off at 6:45 am on school days)

Starting Monday, the girls need to get dressed when they wake up. This is our biggest hurdle. E1 takes forever!

Starting Monday, the girls will have breakfast after they are dressed. We will run our morning school routine without the pressure of school.

Starting Monday, unless they are on a play date or we are at a party etc, Bed time is no later than 8:30. Then 8, followed by 7:30. The girls are in bed by 7:30 pm each school night. This is a non negotiable. E1 gets to read independently in bed IF she is not exhausted.

Starting Monday, both girls will do school work every day that requires writing. Fine motor skills weaken over the summer and for E1 especially, writing is a big part of school. Writing takes strength and stamina. It is time to rebuild the stamina.

Starting Monday, both girls will do some sort of academic work every day. (max 30 minutes)

Starting Monday, our after school schedule activities switch to school hours. E1 will play tennis on a different afternoon and E2 will be placed in a new a gymnastics class.

Starting Monday, we will still enjoy summer. We have many places on our summer list to visit, many hours of swimming are still upon us, many play dates, both girls' birthdays, both girls' parties, and we still have hours of fun to complete.

BUT we will enjoy our last bit of summer while getting ready.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sugar and Spice

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of.


Things I have said to my GIRLS. (And trust me, there is more)

1. Don't punch your sister.
2. Don't push your sister.
3. Don't feed an actual mud pie made from sand to your friend.
4. Wash your body, including armpits and your vagina.
5. Yes, you have to take a bath.
6. Yes, you have to take a shower.
7. Fine, be the smelly kid at school.
8. Please do not tie the rope around your waist and jump from the tree.
9. Please do not tie the rope around the tree branch and swing from the tree.
10. Climbing the outer part of our play system is dangerous.
11. Fine. Climb it. Don't cry when you get stitches again.
12. Yes, you have to use soap.
13. Yes, you have to wash your hair.
14. Yes, you have to brush your hair.
15. Yes, you have to brush your teeth.
16. Do not throw sand at your sister.
17. Do not throw sand at the dog.
18. I am happy the dog did not bite you when you took his temperature rectally.
19. You are not a real vet.
20. Yes, we must throw that toy away.
21. Chew with your mouth closed.
22. Boogers are not food.
23. Get your fingers out of your nose.
24. Stop picking your wedgie.
25. Dirt under your nails is unacceptable.
26. Get off the dog, he is not a horse.
27. We do not eat off the floor.
28. It fell on the floor, do not eat it.
29. Yes, you have to take a shower.
30. Do not throw a toy at your sister's vagina.
31. Do not throw a toy at anyone's private parts.
32. Do not paint your sink with toothpaste.
33. Your toilet is clogged.
34. You did not wash your hands.
35. No you did not. I did not hear water running.
36. Wash your hands!
37. You did not wipe.
38. Then why is there no toilet paper in the bowl?
39. Toilet paper used for wiping does not go in the trashcan.
40. Do not stick the cheerio up your nose.
41. Do not stick the yogurt covered raisin up your nose.
42. Yes, we have to go the doctor to get the raisin out of your nose.
43. We do not wear panties two days in a row.
44. Yes, you have to brush your teeth.
45. Do not play pile on with your sister.
46. You farted. Say excuse me. Stop laughing.
47. You burped, say excuse me. Stop laughing.
48. Why is your bathroom floor soaking wet?
49. Are you wearing dirty clothes?
50, Yes, you have to take a shower.