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.


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


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.


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


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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Eight is Great

August 13th

Happy 8th birthday!

To my sweet, rainbow loving daughter on her birthday.

Eight years ago we knew you were going to be an August birthday, but what day was anyone's guess. An afternoon phone call had daddy and me scrambling for flights to Los Angeles and making arrangements for your sister. A few hours after landing and after almost being born inside a car, you came into this world screaming and didn't stop for months. In the words of a nursery nurse, "This one likes to be held."

While the milk allergy diagnosis stopped your screaming, nothing stopped your desire to be held. And now 8 years old, you are still my cuddle bug. You hold my hand, give me hugs, cuddle with me on the couch, in my bed, in your bed. You love hugs. You love to be embraced and feel our love. A hug can fix everything. The best love to give those hugs. You know a hug can cheer up your sister, a friend, anyone. And the smile that comes with those hugs, it makes my heart melt.

At eight years old you have not lost that twinkle in your eye or the radiance in your smile. You might be the happiest person I know. You can find the positive in anything. Whether we are running errands or at Disney World, you approach the day with sparkle and joy. You see the wonder in the clouds, the possibilities in an open field, the dream of what a day can bring. Your heart is pure. You are the joy to anyone you meet. I absolutely love this about you and pray you always see the rainbow in the storm.

At eight years old you have proven once again that while you may have been down, don't ever count you out. Sometimes I cannot believe how capable you are. You spent so many years needing my help, it is challenging to let you grow up and be independent. But that is what you are, independent. And while I miss sharing in your successes, words will never convey how truly proud I am to not only see you soar, but to be a by-stander and watch from the sidelines. You are more incredible than you know. You are an independent, strong, capable girl.

At eight years old you approach every challenge with the same grit and determination you have had since birth. You completed first grade with new friends, strong self confidence, and a desire to keep learning. But the real challenge, the one you fought tooth and nail to achieve, was to secure a place on the swim team. And half way through this summer, a month before turning eight, you tried out for the team. You were scared, nervous, and cried. You had second thoughts. With all these emotions stacked against you, you walked through the pool gate alone, dove into pool, and proved to yourself what we already are a fantastic swimmer and belonged on the team.

At eight years old you are courageous. Each week you swim at swim team practice you show me you are nervous. Sometimes the motor plan throws you off, sometimes you make a mistake (which we all do), sometimes it is raining and despite any hiccup, you find your courage and keep on trying.
In two days you start second grade and I know you have hesitations about tests, quizzes, and numerical grades. At meet the teacher, you tucked those hesitations away and courageously walked into the school. You flashed your smile to previous teachers, introduced yourself to your new teacher, and I knew immediately with every challenge this year will be bring, your courage will keep you going strong. Like I said, you are brave.

At eight years old you are loving, caring, kind, a friend to anyone you meet. You think of others and how they feel. You are inclusive. You are genuine. I am in awe of how forgiving you are of others. Your heart may break a few times as you get older, but it is a true heart of gold and I love watching your love spill into all you do.

At eight years old your imagination is incredible. The smile on my face when I hear you playing is from ear to ear. Playing school, house, or restaurant your creativity is simply amazing. I love to hear the stories you create, love to watch you make them come alive, and love how even in make believe you are the same genuine, hard working, courageous girl. Even in make believe you do what is right and are always thinking of others.

At eight years old you are just incredible. You teach me every day about patience and perseverance. You teach me every day about unconditional love. You teach me every day to try my best and be the best person I can be. It is actually fitting that you desire to be a teacher or librarian because without even trying you are the best teacher I have ever had.

On this eighth birthday, I wish for you a year filled with your favorites - Rainbows, unicorns, smiles, M&Ms, white cake with no icing, American Girls, friends, sleep-unders, achievements, hugs, love, and of course swimming.

Happy 8th birthday, baby girl. Keep on being you because you are amazing.

Monday, August 5, 2019


August 6th

To my amazing daughter on her eleventh birthday. (11!!! How?!?)

The tears have been flowing for weeks now, just thought of another year passing by makes me incredibly happy and at the same time sad that you are growing up.

Eleven years ago, on an extremely hot day, I received the best phone call in the entire world. As you know, we were surprised to learn of your birth and I was so shocked that I forgot to ask our case worker if you were a boy or a girl. From that very moment, you have filled my heart with more joy than you can possibly imagine. I can still see myself crying happy tears as I told your dad we were parents of a 5 lb 14 oz baby girl.

This past year has been your best year, yet. I say yet because as this sun sets on 10 and rises on 11, I can see the wonderful young lady you are and will become. You have grown so much this year and I am so proud to call you my daughter.

You are loyal, fierce, kind, brilliant, and empathetic. These characteristics are a rare find in a "tween." You proved this year to have a strong moral compass. Your sense of right and wrong has guided you through many instances when you could have chosen the wrong path. Even if it separated you from the pack, you chose to make a decision that was right for you. You are blessed to know at such a young age that being true to yourself will carry you much farther in life.

Your loyalty is unmatched. You believe in your family, your friends, your teachers. You find the good in everyone. You trust. You do not waver in your choosing. And while along the way, you will find not all children are like you, your belief in second chances will continue to show others what we already know - your loyalty is a rare find.

Your patience and love for your sister was remarkable this year. Having a sister with special needs is tough to navigate and even though she can be annoying, you matured this year in a way that is indescribable. Playing American Girl dolls, including her in video games, writing her a letter from camp, waving hi to her from your musical, supporting her swim goals, letting her sleep in your room, are all ways you've shown her the bond of sisters cannot be broken. Being a big sister has a level of responsibility that you sometimes complain about, but I cannot think of a better big sister. You, my daughter, have proven you will always be in your sister's corner.

This past year you rocked fourth grade and showed us that even though you still like to put forth minimal effort, when challenged....You are capable of reaching the stars. You are humble. No matter how many As came home, you never bragged. You know grades are not everything, but effort is. You learned this last year that respect is earned when you show people your best self. You definitely have shown your best self and continue to shine.

Responsibility is earned like respect and trust. You have become an incredibly responsible young lady. Whether it was learning to stay home alone, cook a meal, or being a mommy's helper you have shown up, done what's right, and proven once again what an incredible person you truly are. You always go above and beyond and that is something to be admired.

Your big brown eyes continue to shine and let people see your heart. You can see a person and what they stand for in their eyes and since the day you were born, your eyes have shown us your captivating soul and all it is capable of. You are a true force, not to be reckoned with. You stand up for the underdog and fight injustices. You do not let anyone's beliefs change yours and you stand tall in your convictions.

Your confidence was unmatched this year and I pray it continues to grow. You rocked the softball field and even took the pitcher's mound. While my heart raced with this change, you walked out their with pride, humility, and a smile. When games didn't go your way, you lost gracefully and learned from the experience. I do believe one of the greatest accomplishments this past year has been your ability to learn from your mistakes. You are not perfect (no one is). You still sass, argue, hate cleaning your room, get frustrated to the point of no return, pout, make mountains of mole hills, BUT with each set back, mistake, life lesson- You Learn. There are grown ups that still make the same mistakes each day so at the new age of 11 for you to know what you did wrong and try to change your behavior is a feat you should be very proud of.

My personal favorite change this year has brought is your humor. I am so in love with your sarcasm and ability to laugh at yourself. You are finally starting to give daddy and me a run for our money in this department. You are witty, quick with a response, and learning how and when to throw out a joke. We have been patiently waiting to see this side of you and please know we enjoy every minute of joking with you, even when you make jokes about us.

I cannot believe you are ELEVEN. I cannot believe you are entering your last year of elementary school. I cannot believe how quickly this time has gone and in eleven more years, you will be a senior in college! Every year brings a change in you, each year I love you more than the year before, and this year is no different.

Please know on this 11th birthday -
You are the brightest star in the sky.
You are the sunshine needed on a stormy day.
You are the light when it is dark.
You are amazing, strong, resilient, and pretty.
Your Bubbe once told me being beautiful is only skin deep, but to be pretty is to be pretty on the inside and out. On this birthday, and for every day that follows remember you are a perfect example of what pretty looks like.

Happy ELEVENTH birthday to the first to call me mom, the first to hold my hand, to the first who stole my heart. I love you and cannot wait to see all that you accomplish in the next 365 days.

Happy birthday. I love you SO much.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

You know I didn't buy you a present because I totally suck in that department, but this year I will tell you and thousands of people, THANK YOU. That is my present - a big THANK YOU.


Thank you!

Holy shit you put up with a lot. My brother and I are not easy and you handle us well. We are the funniest children you could've asked for (I am funnier), but the majority of our jokes are at your expense. You do have to take some responsibility though, you give us great material to work with. On this Mother's Day, I will say thank you with my whole heart.

Thank you for teaching me the value of education. Many children do not have the opportunity to be raised by a mom with fake degrees in meteorology, medicine, business, orthopedics, mental health, immunology, oncology, and child development. All of your knowledge helped guide me through school to pursue a higher education.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a know it all. From your fake degrees to your life experiences, you have the answer for everything. Because you always have the answer, I do too. And if for some reason I do not know the answer, I can ask you because you know it all.

Thank you for teaching me confidence. Whether personal or professional, when life handed you lemons you taught me not to make lemonade, but to throw those lemons back and not take anyone's shit. We are better than those lemons.

Thank you for teaching me respect. I know those lessons were the hardest to teach as I am a smart ass, but somehow between the soap in the mouth, the spanking, the grounding, the screaming, you raised a very respectful child.

Thank you for teaching me to advocate for myself. Living in a "the teacher is always right" home, you helped me understand that if there was a true injustice you would get involved, but the small stuff- I had to deal with it.

Thank you for teaching me it is okay to turn a blind eye. I did some stupid shit as a kid and even as a young adult in college and you let those bad decisions play out.

Thank you for teaching me lying is unacceptable. Forging your signature on my 5th grade progress report was not my brightest decision. And while I chose to hide things by omission, I definitely learned not to lie to your face. If only you had taught my brother being a snitch was worse. Remember, snitches get stitches!

Thank you for teaching me how to be the best secret keeper, ever. I have no idea what you are taking to your grave, but I could bet all the money in the world it is some damn good gossip.

Thank you for teaching me my emotions are okay to express. Even though your tear ducts have been broken since 1982, I learned to express myself in joy, sadness, pain, anger.

Thank you for teaching me how to host holidays. From soup to brisket to way too much food, our guests will never go hungry. And while I have learned to lessen the sodium count, I surely learned how to host with love.

Thank you for teaching me family is the most important thing. You never allowed my brother and I to sacrifice one another for the sake of friends. You made sure we stuck together, were thick as thieves, and now you are paying for that lesson. We are a duo like no other.

Thank you for teaching me how to use profanity correctly. From fuck to bitch to shit to damn it - those words were expressed with correct annunciation and were always grammatically correct.

Thank you for teaching me leadership. Working your way to the top in business showed me I was capable of anything and while true leaders have set backs, they continue to rise to the top.

Thank you for teaching me parenting extends even after your children have children. Sure you went running from newborn E2 and refused to help us with her, but in your defense we all thought she was the spawn of Satan.

Thank you for teaching me support. Even when I have been dead wrong (which isn't often), you have supported me. When I was forced to make tough decisions which inevitably you had to take the consequence for, you supported me.

Thank you for teaching me so many things.

Thank you for letting me make fun of you, take advantage of you, yell at you.

Thank you for being young at heart and traveling with us. While we would never admit it to your face, we love having you join us and love the memories you create with your granddaughters.

Thank you for being the best mom to me.

Because of you, I have been blessed with an ego so big I believe I can accomplish anything.
Because of you, my self-confidence is so high I don't give two fucks what others think of me.
Because of you, my sense of loyalty is strong and it has caused me to choose my friends wisely. Because of you, I have high expectations of myself and others and will never settle for mediocrity.

Thank you for being the badddest bad ass bitch in town.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Tie.

Oh fourth grade, I heart thee.

This has been such an incredible year. Make no mistake both girls have been blessed beyond measure with some remarkable educators but fourth grade, well it has been the icing on an already delicious cake.

Why is this grade different? Emotional acknowledgment and support. Fourth graders are tough. They are nine, mostly ten before the year's end. Ten year old children are a handful. They are still children, but their hormones are kicking in and they are transforming into young adults. Hormones can drive the "best mom and dad" crazy, but let's be honest - teachers have these hormonal Tasmanian Devils 40 hours a week.  Forty hours of tears, anger, anxiety, hyperactivity, learning struggles, learning achievements, and so much more. Add to that teachers are handling all this with 24 kids in a classroom. There's a reason I never taught fourth grade.

As luck would have it, Penelope's teachers have been a pillar of emotional strength for her and all their students. They know it takes a partnership with parents to truly get through to the child. They know to see success it takes a learning environment where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and yes, those fourth grade feelings.

Penelope is trusting, loyal, anxious, and naive. You can pull the wool over her eyes at any time and while she is learning to see the bullshit, more often than not she can still be deceived. Penelope believes people at their word and would never in a million years think someone would lie to her. Especially a friend. Penelope has yet to realize that girls are bitches and true friendships are a rare find.

In the beginning of the year I set the stage as I do every year. I am "that mom." I am involved in PTO, I send emails, I check homework, I check the on line grade book twice a day (judge away I give zero fucks), I eat lunch with my girls, I help them study. BUT I also hold them responsible. If they do not want to complete homework or study.... well, good luck to them because this mama says to the teachers, "Go right ahead and give that F. Go right ahead and take recess. My child is in the wrong." I open the line of communication with the teachers saying here are our emotional struggles, here is our dirty laundry, here is my child trying her hardest to navigate family life, academic life, social life, and oh yeah, hormones. As always, the teachers met my "crazy" with grace and acceptance and probably a little sympathy for Penelope. It's tough being my kid (sometimes).

With each passing week Penelope's star shone brighter. With each passing week Penelope needed less and less help and willingly went to her teachers for help. With each passing week Penelope forged an unforgettable bond with these teachers. I was living in a twilight zone with statements of "Mrs. W showed my paper to Mrs. K - can you believe it? I must be a good writer now." or "Mrs. K showed me how to do this. I am going to go in early for the review. I like the way she teaches it. Your way is old." While the former teacher in me wanted to help her, I couldn't help but relish in the fact that Penelope trusted these teachers. And how do I know she trusted them? Because she was being her true self. Penelope wrote a paper about how hard it is to be Jewish. It takes a lot of courage to not only talk about your religion, but to write about it negatively. It takes emotional support to know you can express yourself without discernment.

I cannot remember when, but at some point this year I was asked to stop by as the teachers were concerned about something Penelope said during morning meeting. Morning meeting? Oh that's right, these teachers start each day with a student led conversation about various topics. The students share! Openly! There's no judgement, consequence, poking fun....just honest, real, conversation. It was at this moment I realized why Penelope was soaring to success. Emotional support. She felt free to convey her every thought. She was free emotionally. While what Penelope said at that morning meeting wasn't a "huge red flag" it was concerning because I had set the stage. The teachers know our family dynamics, they know the struggles at home, and when Penelope expressed herself they felt it best to share considering what they already knew about her life.

THAT is called emotional support. THAT is going over and beyond. THAT is great teaching. When your teachers know you are willing to listen, when your teachers know you appreciate honesty, when your teachers know you support them and their efforts THAT is when the true learning can happen.  A student that is emotionally supported can achieve anything.

We have had growing pains too. The teachers expecting more from Penelope and expecting 100% effort was a challenge at first. E1 is used to everything coming easily. She is used to minimal input with maximum output. Fourth grade proved to be the year where minimal input equaled minimum output. Did I enjoy seeing low grades in the grade book? Did I enjoy all the meltdowns at home of "I can't" Nope, not at all. But I supported the efforts of the teachers to encourage Penelope to do better, be better. They saw her capabilities. They wanted for her to see her capabilities. With that bond of trust formed, E1 climbed the mountain of high expectations and saw her own self worth. She began writing papers for fun! She began asking for more math assignments! The hubs and I repeatedly asked ourselves, "What the fuck is happening?" Emotional support. That is what was happening.

Just today, I received this email:

While I loathe the STAAR test and everything it stands for, I LOVE THIS. It was a reminder of the emotional support we have received all year. It was a reminder of the partnership we have with her teachers. This idea, so simple and yet so powerful. It doesn't ask me to make a healthy breakfast. It doesn't ask me to make sure my kid gets a good night sleep. It doesn't ask me to remind my child to show their work on math or justify their answers on reading. It asks me to give ENCOURAGEMENT to my ten year old, my child, their student. 

During the Passover Seder this past weekend Penelope and my nephew were discussing school. Penelope was ranking her favorite school years and fourth grade tied for the number one seed. With the exception of once, Penelope has loved each and every one of her teachers. She has said it was the best year each time a school year ends. However, she always held a special place in her heart for first grade. First grade was Penelope's first time to understand what a difference a teacher can make in a young girl's life. Knowing how she felt about first grade, I knew she would ever let another year rank higher.  First grade was just that awesome.  And sometimes a year cannot be out done. 

Until now.

A tie is two winners

Twice the love. 
Twice the best year ever. 
Twice the support. 
Twice the confidence. 
Twice the success. 

Fourth grade, we heart thee.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Blue Hearts

Yesterday was Autism Awareness Day. Yesterday I wore blue to the gym, E1 wore a blue bow to school, and my Facebook feed was filled with blue hearts, posts about Autism, and pictures of children with Autism. There was an overwhelming amount of support.

Today is Wednesday and the world resumed to its previously scheduled program. School was the same, I wore my regular clothes to the gym, and Facebook looked like it usually does - pictures and posts of glorious bullshit moments because let's get real, only few and far between post things like "I am going to kill my kids or drink a bottle of wine - I choose wine because that won't result in jail time."

While I appreciate Autism Awareness Day, Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, Down Syndrome Day, and all the other days to recognize and support our special needs population, I wish the support lasted more than a day.

We all hear the stories, read the blogs, see the few posts that some brave mom puts out for the world to see. But what we pay little attention to is the daily ins and outs of our friends' lives whose children fall under the special needs umbrella. I don't know one special needs mama that wants sympathy. I sure as hell don't want any. I do know special needs mamas who wish they could catch a break, wish someone would listen, and wish for once their kid had a good day.

From severe to mild there are struggles that require understanding. There is a lack of patience from others for the day to day. The parenting advice you're about to give doesn't work. Unless you're a trained professional, just shut the fuck up when your friend is venting. Listen. Don't talk. And when they are done tell them you love them, you are more than happy to buy them a drink (or 100), or just give them a hug.

Trust me when I tell you the mom whose child only eats six things has tried it all. You saying your child is the same diminishes the struggle. Your child will out grow it, theirs won't. Hell, E2 is a damn rock star in eating because after years of food therapy we do not bring food with us and she eats three vegetables. But make no mistake - there are numerous restaurants we don't go to because E2 won't eat anything there. She eats the SAME LUNCH every day. Please don't tell me to pack something else. It will throw off her routine and legitimately fuck up her day.

When you see tantrums from a child, know the mom is embarrassed and angry. They paid for countless hours of therapies and at this moment with a grocery cart full of food, the child has lost all coping mechanisms. This is normal in a special needs world. Compensation skills are gained and then poof! one morning they are missing. Hold the door for that mom, push her cart for her so she can hold her child, tell your own child "Everyone has bad days." Do not assume the kid is being a brat. Remember posting that blue heart and honor that post.

Please know we spend every last damn dollar on our special needs children and certain things are out of reach no matter how hard we try. Therapies, even when covered by insurance, can be $152 an hour! Don't believe me? Call Aetna. E2 needs physical therapy again and that is our cost. How do you maintain a childhood for the rest of your children if you need to pay hundreds of dollars a week in speech, occupational and physical therapy? I'm sure you don't have an answer, but on the 364 days of the year that don't require "awareness" this is what you should should be aware of - Families figuring out how to help one child while making sure the neuro-typical child gets that nero-typical childhood.

Perhaps you're thinking a special school would make life easier - for some it can. The average cost of those schools is 30k dollars a year.  We don't have to make that decision because E2 is doing well in public school, but if we had to pay it, we could not do it today. Yes, I could go back to work. That brings its own issues: morning care, after care, gas, etc - all of which cost money that was supposed to go to that tuition which may or may not "fix" everything. Special needs families are constantly caught between a 'is this necessary' vs 'can it wait' scenario. Unless you've been there, you cannot understand the guilt a special needs parent carries after making any financial decision. It's a world of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Remember sibling rivalry is not the same when one kid is special needs and the other one is not. There is resentment, love, a lack of patience, love, frustration, love. It sounds the same, but it is not. You have one child begging for the love of the other and the love possibly not being shown back. You can have one child wanting the bond, but the other one tired of working so hard to create the bond. To then reason with either is a nightmare. One cannot possibly comprehend what you're saying and the other is tired of having the same talk of needing patience because their sibling isn't like others. It's a daily, weekly, monthly, annual happening. Siblings of special needs children carry a burden that deserves its own awareness day. Even in our home, with a child whose label carries the word mild, E1 has asked if she will have to take care of her sister when we are gone. E1 has awareness every day that gives her a view of the reality not always shown to the outside.

Special needs mamas need to celebrate the smallest of victories because they are huge in their world. Special needs mamas want a heart for: dressing oneself, brushing teeth, taking a shower, learning to tie shoes, vacationing, sitting still for 10 minutes without an electronic device, looking someone in the eyes, making a C on a test, making a friend, cutting their own food, learning how to use the microwave, being invited to a birthday party, learning to talk, walk, basically anything that comes natural for other children.  When you post that blue heart, you are celebrating.

Keep celebrating with us. Keep fighting for our children with us. Keep walking with us. Just keep doing it for more than one day.

Awareness days are great. They bring light to a topic that needs discussing. But when the sun sets on that awareness day and the sun stops shining on that day, don't let that heart you posted fade along with the light.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Scary Nice

Well shit! I didn't mean to fall off the blogging grid. I swear, I didn't. Life happened and well, I just never sat down to type. And in full, honest disclosure.....I lost the power cord to my laptop and I refuse to blog from my phone. Luckily for me, I asked the hubs to help me find it today and because I am so awesome at putting away all the shit in this house, he opened the one fucking drawer I hadn't bothered to look in for the last two months and there it was. In my defense ( I know, I know) that drawer is filled with extra keys to cars we no longer have and homes we sold years ago....why the power cord was in there, I'll never know. Why I still have not thrown out all those keys....that is to be answered another time.

These couple months have been more of the same - softball, swim, homework, tests, volunteering in the school, hanging out with the family and hanging out without them too. (Every mama needs a break, or two, or four hundred). The other recurring activity these past two months has been the argument starting sentence of "but my friend does not have to...x, y, z." As the girls get older, it is becoming more obvious we are not the typical parents. I am a mixture of Mary Poppins and Mommy Dearest or as my friend's children coined me "Scary nice."

We live in a time where parents are afraid of disappointing their kids, solve all their problems for them, believe adversity is the enemy, failure is not an option and send their children to school with the thought of not my kid.

Unfortunately for my girls, their mama is stuck in the 1980s and 1990s where the teacher is always right, children are told what to do, and for the love of everything holy I am anything but their friend.
Somewhere we, the parents, mixed up advocating for our children with being their friend. My girls know I am their number one fan, but if their shit stinks I am going to tell them and I am going to make them wipe their own proverbial ass.

(However, if something egregious happens to them and they ultimately are in the right, I will move heaven and earth for them. They have both seen my "mama bear." They know she is in there hibernating, ready to take on a fight, BUT mama bear only comes out when I know for damn sure there is no ownership my child needs to take.)

Back to that Scary Nice, I am not your friend style of parenting.

Fail a test? Study more next time and no, you are not eligible to retake it. I told your teachers you didn't deserve that second chance because you did not prepare.

Messy room? Lose everything in the room (minus the bed and clothes) for however long I decide to keep it all. Why? Because I asked you a million times to clean it and you ignoring me is disrespectful and also, your room is fucking gross.

Didn't wash and condition your hair? Let me be the one to brush all the knots out. You'll be praying for a second chance to wash your hair correctly. Or brush it yourself for the 45 minutes it's going to take to remove the rat's nest from your head. Either way, you're not leaving the damn house looking like that. Take some pride in yourself.

Break shit in the house because you bounced the ball I told you not to - empty your piggy bank and give it all to me. Am I sure it costs that much?  Why yes, everything in this house costs the exact amount you have saved....for eternity.

No screens on school days. You have to use it for school? Let me email the teachers and double check that. Oh you can go in early? Let me drive you tomorrow morning. Don't pull the "teacher said so" card here - I was a teacher, I know what they say.

Still hungry? Eat your dinner.
Don't like what I made? starve.

Raise your voice? In trouble.
Roll your eyes? In trouble.
Pretend you're me and have a sarcastic bitchy tone - Big time trouble.

Does it sound a little militant? I guess so. I guess making sure respect and honesty are the most important values takes hard work. We have rules. Rules are followed or there are consequences.

Be a jack ass to your sister? No friends for you and you have to play whatever your sister wants for two days.

Glued to your iPad on a Sunday and didn't hear dinner was ready....yep, you missed dinner and nope, you don't get to eat.

Homework due tomorrow and you are not finished? No, you will not wake up early- you will miss your sport's game and/or practice. No one here is going to make a career from their athletic ability. And no, I am not squashing your dreams - I am being realistic.

Disrespectful to your teacher? You will write them an apology letter, we will drive you to school in the morning and make you read that letter through your snotty tearful remorse. Think I am kidding? I am not. Ask both girls' kindergarten teachers. This mama doesn't play.

Want an iPhone? No
Want social media? No
Want some game played with random other people on the internet? No

Do I sound harsh? You bet. I am their mom. I am not their friend. I am here to make sure they are productive, responsible members of society. No one in the real world is going to give them an extra chance or more time because they have anxiety, ADD, or Cerebral Palsy. Our world is dog eat dog and only the strong will survive. Childhood is the time to make mistakes and learn how to correct the behavior and not make the same mistakes. Yes, they are children and E1 is a mini version of myself and likes to learn things the hard way so there is always that added bonus to her life's journey.

We have fun. We vacation. We go on more outings than you can imagine. My kids have more free time, play time, down time than you can shake a stick at which is why I am such a stickler for respectful behavior. People should never confuse kindness with stupidity. We can go to the carnival and ride all the rides and eat all the food and win all the prizes, but if you lie about brushing your damn teeth that fun day will end in a category five hurricane and you will have no shelter to protect you.

I do not ask much from my girls. In fact, the more E1 talks to her friends the more she realizes how easy her life is. Sure, her mom is a raging bitch sometimes but she is coming to realize when the fire breathing dragon is breathing down her neck, she damn well deserves it.

I will teach my girls coping mechanisms. I will teach them strength and loyalty and dedication. I will show them respect and expect it in return. We can discuss anything - nothing is taboo. From friend drama to puberty to how babies are made - we cover it all.

Do I think this Scary Nice parenting works? Yes, I firmly do. E2 is the easy one so she is not the best example. E1 is our test case. At ten and a half I can tell you she has lived enough consequences to no longer make them. In true child fashion she will make more mistakes, but she has learned respect and honesty will always get her more sugar than salt.

So when people ask how I get my kids to go to bed so early, read so many books, eat this or that, study, etc. I give them the same answer I have always given....


If you are a Scary Nice mom reach out so we can be friends, grab a drink, and get ideas from one another. The day I took Penelope's door was glorious and it was not my idea. I took that idea from my village!