Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our country. Our world.

We live in a country where literacy, even just functional, is a developmental milestone attainable by a majority of the population and not merely the province of a learned elite.

We live in a world where, while true research requires a large amount of time, just about any answer to any problem or question can be found by typing a phrase into a search engine.

We live in a time where we know more about medicine than ever before, and we strive to keep people living longer and better instead of accepting everything as a death sentence.

We live in an age where we know more about child development, pedagogical process, and mental health than we ever could have imagined.

A world of instant feedback.

A global society where we can communicate with everyone easily.

A country where, despite disparities, every child is entitled to a secondary level education.

Indoor plumbing is expected!

We are rich. Many people own cars. Many people are able to live in big beautiful homes far beyond the boundaries of public transit routes. Commuting to our places of employment is such a luxury that it is seen as an annoyance.

At the touch of a button on our phones, we can create a pretty high quality photographic or videographic record of our daily lives.

We have everything so big and so grand around here that we have the good fortune to get mired in the minutia.

Look around next time we go to vote. People who are black and white and everything in between, male and female, property owner and tenant, all vote here.

Notice the different types of life choices available to us. Perhaps we get overwhelmed at the prospect, but we can make decisions about how to dress, what kind of jobs to do, how to care for our families, and who takes on what roles. Our lot in life is not completely predetermined by our families, our genders, or even our financial situation. I'm not looking to discount the adversity that many people still face in trying to live their lives, but it's a different world, and we make progress every day.

This is not our founding fathers' country anymore. It is greater beyond their wildest dreams.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

You have too much stuff

Today's good deed required that I do some sorting and weeding out.

If you are so inclined, do so. Then get rid of things that you don't use. Give them away--someone probably can use it and if you give to an organization, it is often tax-deductible. You know you have too much stuff anyway and you never use half of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let it get in your head.

I didn't do anything major yesterday or today, just little things. I'm hoping that I still helped make a difference.

I will share this one thing because it wasn't big and I don't feel like I'm bragging.

I had a gift card at a store, and when I finished buying what I wanted, there was $1.50 or so left. I passed it to the person in line behind me.

It's getting in my head--when I have the choice to do something extra-nice, I will.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Season of Giving

This time of the year, it is tricky to navigate traditions and customs, other people and their it's best to stick to your principles while being kind and considerate. Hard balance to strike.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Good Deed December

Or...31 mitzvot.

I have neglected this medium, but perhaps posting this here will get me back in the habit.

Last month I did like most everyone else and posted 30 days of thankfulness on Facebook.

This month I'm going to try and do something extra-nice, beyond what I might ordinarily do, every day. But rather than brag about it, which defeats the purpose, I'll write a response instead.

But today's response can best be described with a complaint: everyone is sick and I really don't want to get it!

I'm glad to be able to help when asked, be it on short notice or not.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stink bug invasion

They are everywhere. It's really gross.

Speaking of stink, I have become more exasperated with the political process these days and weeks leading up to the election. And it disappoints me that no candidate is really saying, "we should fix government so that it runs properly..." It's either "they want you dependent on government" or "they think that only certain people deserve help."

I've found myself getting involved in some mudslinging and some making fun of the candidates I don't like. This isn't grade school and it isn't the schoolyard, nor is it a reality show or a soap opera. The money spent on advertisements that I don't see since I generally don't watch TV as it happens is just staggering.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sukkah! And updates.

My ambition, other than to revive my sleeping blog, is to put up a Sukkah tomorrow.

The holiday starts at sundown tomorrow night and lasts 8 days. It's way more major than Hanukkah but I bet that many of you have never heard of it.

It commemorates the time spent wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. It's a harvest festival and also was, historically, one of the three major holidays that required a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (the others being Passover and Shavuot/Pentacost).

I hope to have success at building my very first Sukkah at our new home. I will take pictures, of course.

Between a more intense religious school schedule as a kindergarten instructor and a few times singing each month for temple services, my work schedule is delightfully busy. For right now, private string lesson teaching is on hold. As the need arises, I may revisit that part of my professional life, but the additional obligations with my congregation were the perfect excuse to give up the commute.

Wonderful students, though. I really enjoyed working with them. Because I was contracted through an online service, I found it to be very easy to deal with and it was nice that they didn't take all my money. A cut is fine, because without them I'd never have met the students.

Musical Daddy is doing well at his job and is just gogogo.

The Boy went to the dentist and according to the X-rays, he will have a loose tooth any day now! It's unbelievable how big and grown up he is.

Little Bear is excessively smart and excessively three. He did not respond well at ALL to the dentist. Any recommendations as to how to get him to cooperate would be appreciated. In terms of positives, he loves school and plays so nicely with his little friends.

Ender is THIS close to really walking. He takes steps, but he still crawls more than he walks. But soon.

Asleep at the blog here. More later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Step one two

(fell asleep before posting. So this is from last night)

Ender took his very first real steps today!

He has been able to stand on his own when placed there or when he is playing with something and he doesn't realize it, but today he took two steps a few times.

He is so big!

He is also starting to say more things. When I told the other boys about how fresh air is good for you and sunlight gives you Vitamin D, he said "D! D!"

Little Bear is interested in double and triple digit numbers, particularly in the context of telling time. He does not get the concept quite yet, but the interest is there. He also wants to know how words are spelled. Reading will not be far behind.

The Boy will be starting piano lessons at the beginning of next month. I realize that many of my friends have had their kids playing cello or violin for a few years now, but I don't think that The Boy had the attention and I didn't have the type of time to devote to practicing with him. Now I think that in the new house, and with him and the other two being older, the circumstances are better and he will be more successful.

Preschool starts the day after labor day. It will be good to get into that routine and meet some new friends. The Boy will have the same teachers but a different class.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shore day 3: Bad at math

This morning I went with the two boys on a bicycle trip on the boardwalk. Bikes were rentals, helmets from home. We cycled down the boardwalk in Ventnor, stopping at the library playground because it was on sand. Then we got moving again. Everything was really awesome...until it wasn't.

The Boy was getting tired and thirsty, and uncooperative. He has been really willing to roll with things recently, so when he starts digging in his heels, something is probably wrong. Ahead of me was Little Bear, who was told to stay still while I went to help The Boy.

Yeah right.

That lasted a second or two. Then he wrecked into a stationary bicycle, knocking it over and freaking him out. I had two little boys with bikes they refused to ride, plus a bicycle in my size that almost seemed superfluous.

I could have used one more person or one fewer bicycle.

With a lot of crying and prodding and some help from strangers, we got back to the bike shop and went to Wawa for snacks.

I find it to be a positive thing that my children see me on a bicycle or doing active things. I want them to know that adults can do this stuff too.

Interestingly, the guy at the bike shop had Little Bear, age 3, on a 16 inch bike and The Boy on a 20 inch, with the seats all the way down. It worked. Quite well. They usually ride a 12 and 14 inch. Perhaps when The Boy is 6, we can get him a nice 20 inch bike that will last awhile. Any bicycle enthusiasts care to comment about sizing?

I have really been talking about the positive aspects of that outing, namely, how impressive their riding skills are!

Following that outing, we all went for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Fun place! Good food and good options for the kids. Their meals came with the option of a banana, so they jumped on that choice. I got fajitas, and Ender shared happily.

The next activity was a tour of the James Taffy factory. Our tour guide was a college history teacher who did the tours as a summer job. We learned a bit about the process and got a few pieces of very fresh candy. Then we bought some more to take home.

In order to facilitate an easy exit, Ender and I walked briskly to retrieve the car from the lot. I love a good walk. Even a hot one.

Blessedly, naps followed.

Dinner was at a nice Italian place. Everyone ate and was happy. Highlight of that meal was when Ender swiped Little Bear's bowl and started munching on his dinner.

My mom watched the kids while my sister and I saw a show. It was an impersonator show with people playing Barry White, Cher, Adele, Jimmy Buffett, Whitney Houston and, of course, Elvis. I liked that it was a show that allowed and encouraged singing along.

We stayed at the casino (actually, we went to one a few doors down) awhile longer, after I said to my mom that I'd win her some money. She said that she thought I was supposed to be good at math.

Between the money spent at the $1 blackjack table and the money I spent on slots, I probably lost $8. Not bad for a few hours of grown-up fun.

Tomorrow we go home. Probably to the beach once more. This trip has certainly made Musical Daddy's week in Ireland go by faster!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shore Vacation Day 2

This was supposed to publish several days ago. Like, August 7.


Despite not being in bed until well after 10PM, my little loves were up between 6 and 6:15 in the morning. I slept poorly. So did Grandma. Didn't help that a previous hotel guest had set a wee-small-hours-of-the-morning alarm. Also didn't help when the snooze button got pressed. We have since ceased to care what the digital clock has to say about the time, and it remains unplugged. As does the telephone.

Sleeping six to a hotel room is not so much fun. We asked for an extra bed to be brought in, but they wouldn't. Have they changed the fire codes? They cited fire regulations as the reason for not allowing a twin bed in between the two queen beds, although I recall a few family vacations where we did exactly that--parents on a queen bed, three girls on a queen bed and big bro on the cot. So Little Bear, being the one who really likes his personal space, is on a chair and ottoman. Grandma sold the idea as "a little bed." I'm in a bed with the other two boys, and my mom and sister are in the other bed.

Now that the sleeping situation had been adequately described, it makes that much more sense that as soon as we were dressed, we were gone and left Grandma to sleep more.

Breakfast was Dunkin Donuts. Yes, we do have that back home although East Coast bread and bagels are just better. We went there to use a coupon. Although I vetoed donuts.

Next was a stop at Lucy the Elephant, a historical site in nearby Margate. The elephant shaped building was formerly a hotel. We used to visit there every summer as kids. I had several little rubber Lucy erasers as well as a collection of elephant figurines from having stopped at that gift shop. Little Bear has a Lucy T shirt that we purchased the last time we were there, when he was only 4 months old and The Boy had just been hospitalized for over 2 weeks. The Boy hadn't been on this trip before.

After Lucy, we walked on the sand a bit and found a playground. I was disappointed that I couldn't find one of the little playgrounds that I remembered that were right on the beach and had sand instead of dirt or whatever else. But this was an excellent play area.

We returned to the hotel for some chill time and then got dressed for the beach. Good idea: making sure that we had strollers or carrier for all 3 boys. Bad idea: thinking that the beach was walking distance even with those items. We spent a nice amount of time at the beach, and then I walked back to the hotel with Ender in the stroller. I also phoned the valet to get our car ahead of time (when I travel with my mom, it's always valet parking. She prefers it and dangit--she deserves it!) and was able to get right in.

I did forget to reconfigure the carseats so I ended up doing some big-time acrobatics to get myself into the back seat in order to make room for a 3rd adult in the car. Would not have been so challenging except for the giant coolers still left in the car.

Remember those, from the milk runs? Fortunately, all milk has reached its destination.

We next went to Sack O Subs for lunch. It's a sub place. It's a really good one. Pizzeria-style subs but...better. Apparently they not only deliver, they ship.

In between the beach and lunch, the two younger boys fell asleep. Which is a real problem for Little Bear, not only because it potentially screws up his nap (which it did, big-time) but because he does not appreciate waking up in the car. At all. We brought him in the restaurant and he flipped out. I had to take him outside just to sit with him. Eventually the idea of eating a nice meal and visiting a new potty got him calmed down.

Resting time was...well, it was resting time with 6 people in a hotel room. We didn't do too badly.

We puttered around some more, did some driving around, and went for dinner at a hibachi restaurant. The kids hadn't been since my 30th birthday which, if you do the math and know how old I am because I don't care enough to hide it, means that Andrew has never been. And the other boys likely do not remember. The Boy was amused and impressed by the performance of the cook. Little Bear was as well. He also really enjoyed the miso soup. As for the baby? He just packed away that food! Noodles, soup, rice, steak, chicken, and veggies. My sister and I also had some sushi rolls. Fancy and delicious dinner, thanks to Grandma (and her coupon).

Rough day overall with Little Bear. Overstimulated, under-rested, and just a bit impy are not a good combination especially when I feel the same. I yelled at him too much today. I was so at a loss because he didn't listen to anything and much of my usual strategy for that kind of general antsiness and three-ness was not as applicable. I told him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him lying down and resting in his "little bed" as I kissed him good night.

Tomorrow we start the day with bike-riding on the Boardwalk. I'm regretting not having packed theirs because I need to rent bikes here (did bring helmets though) but space was at a premium. Next time.

My kids snore.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shore Vacation Day 1 and milk running

As a diversion while Musical Daddy tours Ireland with his chorus, Grandma and Aunt C have taken us to the beach!

Excuse me--they've taken us down the shore. You know what I'm talking about.

I took this opportunity to run some breastmilk from mama to mama. A bit of time stopping and loading and unloading, and two different babies in the state of PA will get human milk as feeding supplements (as their mothers work through supply issues) instead of a substitute. Anyone looking toget rid of a freezer stash of breastmilk or become a long-term direct donor for a mother and baby near you, go to to find out how.

The milk stops were pretty well timed for the kids in terms of their desire to run around or play, or eat or use the toilet.

They seem to travel pretty well overall, although Little Bear does not enjoy waking up in the car at ALL. Also, I went to the library for audiobooks, but they preferred a lot of the same music as usual.

Upon our arrival, my sister took the bigger boys to the pool. This was great because it allowed them to get their crazies out a little and gave me a chance to unpack. I usually like to unpack upon arrival rather than living out of the suitcase, particularly now that the two older boys dress themselves. This made it a lot easier for them to find things.

After unpacking, I spent a bit of time at the pool with them, and Ender, and it was time to go to the Boardwalk! If you've never been, it's a fun time. Brighr lights, food stands, souvenir shops, and even a little amusement area make for a constant carnival atmosphere. Dinner was pizza on the way to the rides at the pier; dessert was ice cream cones on the way back.

We didn't do much at the pier. Little Bear still has no desire to go on any rides, so The Boy went on a ride with Aunt C, and then he went on the carousel with Grandma, Ender, and me. Little Bear played a game with Aunt C and won a blue elephant.

The walking distances were a bit longer than we expected. We forget how much longer it takes to walk when we fail to see from the perspective of 3.5 foot people.

Live and learn--we have a regular stroller and an umbrella one as well which we did not take out of the car, as well as the Ergo carrier. Each child will have a "lift" or we find alternate transportation. As it was, we took a pushchair a few blocks, which The Boy thought was quite amusing.

I'm blown away by The Boy's cooperation these days. I have really been using him as an example of what happens when you develop a good relationship with your children, treat them respectfully, and set clear and reasonable expectations. I'm still very present and I don't let him have any more "freedom" then he can handle...but then, it's much more than. his brother gets at age 3. It's why yesterday, Grandpa took just The Boy on an outing. Not to punish Little Bear, but I knew that he would not be so successful on such an outing.

But that's the deal when you're the big brother--you get to do more stuff.

Tomorrow we hope to do some bicycling on the boardwalk, and from there, who knows? Tomorrow night is also supposed to be Girls' Night with my sister, assuming cooperative children and willing Grandma.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What we teach our children

Today in Cincinnati, OH, a 12 year old girl was made to stand outside in a busy corner holding a sign that said, "I lied to my mom." The mother publicized this on Facebook (and her page is completely open to the public. She also had posted a picture of another girl doing the same thing (except it was her dad, in this case) just a few days before, saying that she loved the idea and was going to use it.

This is another in these long string of "creative" punishments being handed to children in the name of making them into better people and keeping them out of jail. There was the mom who posted the picture of her daughter with the X over her mouth, and the father who shot up his daughter's laptop, wearing a cowboy hat, of course, and the aforementioned daddy-daughter duo that has since been photoshopped, so now it says both "I lied to my dad" and (from the dad) "I'm teaching her to be a better liar."

The unfortunate consequence of public humiliation over the Internet is that nothing really disappears in cyberspace. Prospective employers look up their candidates online, as do prospective dates. A person running for public office will have these little indiscretions put out there for all the world to see. An adolescent infraction can have far greater implications that the lesson that is supposed to be learned.

The Cincinnati Police Department got about a dozen concerned phone calls. When they arrived at the location proudly given by this mother, they applauded her.

I get where they are coming from, as police officers, because usually by the time kids get to them, the kids have been without much in the way of parental involvement. Seeing a parent doing something probably makes them pretty happy.

But what does that teach this child? It teaches her that the police are going to scoff at her problems and that there is no point in asking for help. It teaches her that her mother is so desperate for validation from a bunch of bullies on the Internet, so she needs to suffer public humiliation.

And yet, I click on this woman's Facebook page, and I see her talking about her Christian compassion regarding the guy who went on a shooting rampage at the Batman movie. That because Jesus died for their sins, she should have forgiveness in her heart for him.

Christian friends, I love you and I understand that this person does not represent you and your values.

Here's the kicker: the mother and her supporters are, without a doubt, saying that the girl brought this on herself. Unless she wrote the sign, picked the location, and just hung out there got fun, she didn't. The mother made a choice. She could have chosen to take different disciplinary action. She could have changed the tone of the interaction that led to her daughter's lying, but she did not.

I hope that this experience will open up the lines of communication between this mother and daughter, once they get to talking about this experience. I'm not feeling too optimistic--I'd bet that she just gets better at lying and stops confiding in her mother.

As to what to do about "kids these days," remember: the tone is yours to set, and the choice to model positive behavior is yours.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Ender (or, I'm sick of cake)

Between all the extra treats my mom got in anticipation of guests that never came and the four, and counting, birthday functions (Little Bear's party, visit to Aunt M's with cookie-cake, party at Grandpa's in NJ, little party yesterday for Ender), I'm really done with cake.'s so good!

I also had a birthday. On Friday. I did not ask for cake.

So. My baby is 1. He does not walk yet, but he talks a bit. Still breastfed, naturally. I'm a firm believer in "when they are old enough to ask for it...they should ask." He doesn't ask yet but he generally doesn't turn it down.

He loves to eat. Loves his brothers. He is incredibly cute. He is very smiley and friendly but is not keen on other people holding him, not unless he knows them.

My ways with him have been so much more attached-to-the-heart and instinctive. It's convenient. It keeps me sane while chasing the others.

He's the icing...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Birthday Bear

Little Bear is officially 3. Going on 7.

He is very grown up, in so many ways. It's important that he still be 3 sometimes.

He had a great party yesterday followed by a laid back day today. Including a few pieces of cake, of course.

We are in Harrisburg staying at my aunt and uncle's. Tomorrow-- Sesame Place.

I predict: baby's mind--blown.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Playing hooky from watching stuff blow up

My patriotic duty is to go watch fireworks on July 4, right?

There was a thunderstorm off and on this afternoon, so I didn't leave the house. Not that I had planned to.

Today we had Little Bear's birthday party. His birthday is tomorrow, but I figured that on the 4th, enough people would be around and not working, and looking for things to do in the morning with their 3 year olds.

So we had brunch. I made pancakes. A bit too labor-intensive but they were still delicious. And I served other brunch things like lox and bagels, tuna salad, and veggies and dip. I think the kids enjoyed the food.

They also wanted to play outside. Goodness knows why. It was roasty-hot out there.

Fun party. Cute kiddos. Happy Little Bear.

And a decent enough reason to stay home. Because I'm tired.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fingerpaint attempt:

Not a major success, but not a total wash. It's better to make it about an hour before use, rather than the night before.

Oh, and there is the issue of my kids not really wanting messy fingerpainty hands.

But they like the colors and they enjoyed being outside at 7AM.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Finger paint

Here's what I'm preparing for tomorrow:

Homemade finger paint. I'll let you know if my time might be better spent on homemade muffins instead.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Big news!! It's a...

New home! Of our very own!

We've been living with my parents since Thanksgiving of 2009, and how thankful we have been, every single day and every step of the way. Without their unwavering support and amazing generosity, we would have never been in the position to wait for the right job (or something like it), for the right house, and the right time in general.

The right time as a concept was itself changing and evolving. For those keeping score at home, we are leaving my parents' house with one more boy than we had when we left the house in New Jersey. And when we discovered that we would be blessed with another sweetheart, we knew that our aspirations of being in our own space would have to wait. And isn't he just the icing on the cake! So sweet and good-natured, such fun at the table, and ever so eager to get in on the fun with his big brothers.

Thankfully with lots of saving and lots of help, we are here. We've come full circle. Acquiring our own home is a sign of victory and survival, in so many ways.

We have a bit of work to do, and to have done, but we will get it. Windows, floors, painting of course. Cleaning, naturally. And a variety of planning things, most of which fall to me as the person who will be spending the time there getting the work done and working with our contractor.

Even the kids are excited! They like the place. They like getting to pick colors and posters and furniture.

I am just thrilled as anything.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Decent human beings

Today, Little Bear decided that he wanted to make a mess. He had a hot dog and threw it on the floor. When asked to pick it up, he said, "I broke the hot dog" and rip it into more pieces. I told him several times that we can't do anything else until his mess us cleaned. No dice.

In his usual patient and loving manner, Daddy asked Little Bear to pick the pieces up and put them in his hand. Which he did a bit and then got bored. Even so, snaps to Daddy for the patience and the impression given to the children that their parents want the same thing.

But then, the most amazing thing happened. With no prompting at all, The Boy got up out of his chair and said "I'll clean it up." And he did.

What a great kid.

Not that Little Bear is not a great kid but let's be honest: in many ways, the 2/almost 3 year old is an uncivilized creature. All the brains in the world with none of the impulse control.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I'm proud of my children.

We went on a weekend excursion to the state of Michigan, following last weekend's excursion to Maryland. Any sort of vacation with children involves a large amount of routine disruption for them and very little actual vacation for their grownups.

We have really worked hard to help the kids feel good about going to bed and just being responsive to us in general, and it has paid off handsomely. That's why last weekend, Little Bear was able to go to sleep with the disruption of the rest of his family in the room, with only a little reminding. Quite a change from the last few times we stayed in a hotel together. This weekend was similar. And even The Boy slept well.

When we returned home today after a long day, they were cranky. Really cranky. But the older ones were saying that they were tired and wanted to rest. Rather than fighting with us and being completely defiant (beyond their crankiness, that is), they did their bedtime things and went to bed, happy to be home.

I'm so glad that we have put our emotional connection with the kids at the forefront. We usually know why they are doing what they do (even if the reason is "because he is 2") and we have a good handle on pumpkin time. You know what that is, if you know kids. It's when the fairy tale ends for the afternoon/evening and you just get them out of there before they turn back into pumpkins.

We have boys. We love them. They're awesome. But they are WORK at this age. It's an investment, though. Mamas with boys--you do all this work now so that the teenage years are easier.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Someone calm me down

When The Boy was around the age that Ender is now, he started doing something strange and hilariously funny. Namely, he started crawling into the bathroom when he had to poo or if he already had and needed a change.

Today, Ender crawled into the bathroom and I joked that maybe he had to poo. Which he had.

But this whole time in The Boy's life led up to his diagnosis. And the similarities between my oldest and youngest are frightening enough. I hope and pray that The Boy's medical history remains unique to him in this family.

Which is why the bathroom visit was much less funny to me.

Ender is sick with a virus of some kind and some stubborn thrush to boot. And I am sure glad that the doctor made a point to note his nice soft belly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Aviv Higiyah, Pesach Bah

Transliterated Hebrew for everyone! That means that spring (Aviv) has been brought to us and Passover (Pesach) is coming. It's here, as of tonight, but right now we're in that neither-here-nor-there zone right before the holiday officially starts. All the cleaning has been done and the forbidden leavened bread and related products (as in, anything that doesn't bear the kosher-for-Passover seal, save for produce and eggs) are gone.

Passover observance really ends up being 9 days, counting this day, and the time at which the forbidden food is forbidden before the holiday starts could signify the journey. Once we get to the seder itself (and pluppel on for an hour or two) we eat the matzah that was baked on our backs as we left the land of Egypt without allowing the dough to rise.

Why is it that on this holiday, we talk about it saying that we were the ones that left Egypt? Other holidays have a story that we tell and rituals for recreation and celebration, but this one takes the extra step and there is a certain suspension of disbelief, where we are both modern technologically advanced people and also the people who escaped from slavery without anything better to do with their unrisen dough than to flatten it on their backs.

Have you ever tasted real Shmurah matzah? As in, the round hand-crafted stuff, not the large squares? It's strong stuff. The authentic Passover experience. One of our family jokes is that if we were the ones who left Egypt, this was the matzah that was on our backs those thousands of years.

In 2007, I was expecting child #1. He is now fully prepared to recite the Four Questions. In 2009, The Boy was in the middle of cancer treatment, I was expecting child #2, and, unbeknownst to me, I was about to be thrown into a months-long period of time where we were more in the hospital than out. In 2010, again unbeknownst to me, we attended the Passover Seder thinking that we needed to return quickly for chemotherapy for The Boy. Upon our return and hospital admission, we were freed from chemotherapy. It was bittersweet, as we still feared for The Boy's kidney function, but we were told to go be normal. Whatever that was.

In reading my Passover entries from previous years, they look an awful lot like this one. Or rather, they run like a performance of "The House that Jack Built."

So we've got 1, probably 2, boys ready to sing The Four Questions and say blessings, and a third who seems to like the sound of The Four Questions. And in case you're wondering, no, I don't plan on reenacting the "Four Sons" part of the Seder. I've got three. That's all.

To what will we come home after this Passover? Hope it's something good!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Little Bear by the numbers

Number of walls written on: 1
Number of times the Magic Eraser was thrown at me: 6

Number of #2 accidents: 2
Number of baths for Little Bear: 3
Number of plums eaten by Little Bear: 0

Number of water vessels dumped: 3
Number of cups spilled unintentionally: 1
Number of closed water bottles at the table up for grabs: 3

Number of times Little Bear hit me: 4
Number of times I hit back: 0

Number of times I said "I love you" to him: hopefully more than I said "no."
Number of times he said "I love you" to me: at least 10

Number of legs on a centipede: it's supposed to be 100?
Number of centipedes we looked at together: 5, I think
Number of times he had to say "centipede" to get it right: 2

Number of flowers in our yard that Little Bear can identify, both in the yard and in other locations: 4. Tulip, daffodil, dandelion, violet. 5 if you count pine cones.

I felt like I was run over by a truck today after dealing with all the drama. And no nap either, thanks to a 2pm appointment for The Boy, preceded by just enough sleeping in the car to negate the need for a midday snooze. I didn't make it to orchestra this evening, thanks in part to an unfortunate avocado injury. Don't ask. I'll be fine in a few days.

It's so stressful, trying to accomplish anything around the house with a two year old who thinks that he is six sometimes and wants to be a baby other times. And Passover is coming in just a few days, so we need to get ready.

Despite the feeling that Little Bear is working my nerves, I hope that he had enough positives today to make up for the negatives. Overall, I guess I did. And tomorrow's another day...tomorrow, this today will be a yesterday that's gone forever.

Not too soon for me.

At the playground!

I got shoes...

The Boy's orthotics are in. They are inserts that go over the socks and in the shoes. He has flat feet and these are supposed to help with heel stabilization, to correct it.

Flat feet cannot be fixed after age 7. So, I'm glad we caught this now. His physical therapist was the one who figured it out.

Not a big problem. Really.

He picked out rainbow straps. They did not offer orange ones.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In stitches

Our little Bear is getting some stitches in his chin. Took a header off of The Boy's bed.

We are currently waiting with numbing cream. Know how that goes...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My first pass at chocolate cake

I tried a recipe posted by a friend. I modified it to make it non-dairy. I now know how to make chocolate cake although this one was only okay. But now that I'm versed in cake, I can do it better next time.

Hospital frequent flyers: did you read that word "versed" as a two syllable word for a pre-surgery medication? I did at first and The Boy didn't even have that medicine except in Philadelphia.

I'm not fluent in dessert. Main courses are more in my wheelhouse. Yet, the more I work in a new medium, the easier it gets.

So it is with circumstances regarding the children. Fluency is a major component of success in the medium.

Carseats? Same thing. Fluency.

But desserts are much more fun than carseats.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another all-clear!

The Boy remains cancer-free and with a stable remaining kidney!

Amazing how things change. This morning, I took The Boy and Ender (just as a spectator) for the ultrasound, the cheese sandwich, and the visit to audiology for hearing aid help. Good news is that The Boy has himself some new earmolds in his very favorite color. Orange, natch. Bad news is that his left hearing aid is not working. The light is on, but there's nobody home.

Anyhow, the reason why things change is because I was able to do this without a problem or complaint. Ender is a very good-natured baby who will relax and fall asleep in the Ergo carrier. And The Boy is a well-behaved preschooler (not a perfect one, but a good one) and not a sickly toddler who needs constant care. So it was a far cry from the insanity of taking The Boy and Little Bear to The Boy's very frequent clinic visits. We did it, but it was crazy.

Little Bear had preschool today. Following preschool pickup, I returned to the hospital with The Boy for his oncology and renal follow-ups.

Many thanks to my mother. Despite her not doing exactly as I would do because of a lack of fluency and physical ability, NOT a lack of desire to do what I prefer, she takes wonderful care of the children. Ender is so happy to rest in her arms and she is happy to have him there.

Anyhow, we made it through another round of checkups. And, we get a year until we need to go to renal, and six months for hem-onc, and no more x-rays.

It's been nearly 2 years since we were told to go home, no more chemo would be done. April 1st. I thought it was a joke.

What a change. All the problems that we have, jobs or backtalk or house issues (like a crack appearing on our shower floor), are small potatoes compared to what we went through until that point.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A few carseat PSAs

I'm a lot better with the written word than the spoken word. I'm perfectly articulate, but I stutter a bit more than I probably should, and I'm not great at confrontation.

Yesterday I "practiced" speaking up about incorrect carseat use in a situation where it wasn't incredibly important and there was very little room for offense. I told a couple that the handle on their Graco SnugRide infant seat was supposed to either be all the way up, or all the way down, according to the manual. Actually, the manual indicates that of the 5 positions for the handle, 3 of them are acceptable for driving--positions, A, D, and E. But I didn't want to get into that much detail and I didn't have the manual with me.

Correct carseat use is something I've taken up at least as a personal cause for my own children. Here are some of the most basic ideas, grounded in current research and proper use. This is neither the maximum nor the bare minimum.

Please use the buckles correctly. They should not be twisted, and they should be tight enough so that you are unable to pinch the slack in them. The straps should go over the shoulders, between the neck and shoulders, like a backpack. The chest clip should be at the chest, not at the belly. If there are shoulder pads, they should go on the child's shoulder's, not the chest.

As a corollary to "please use the buckles correctly," please don't put children in heavy coats in the car. If you have to adjust the tightness of the buckles to a different setting than it would be without the coat, the child isn't really safe, because heavy coats and snowsuits can compress in an accident, allowing the child to fly right the heck through. Fleece sweatshirts and even thin fleece snowsuits will keep the child warm and still allow him/her to fit in the seat.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children ride rear-facing in car until age 2, at least, with there being plenty of room for rear-facing for longer due to higher weight and height allowances in seats. The current minimum is 1 year AND 20 pounds to turn a child forward-facing in the car. Compare the appearance of a 1 year old to that of a 2 or 3 year old. The 1 year old is still all head, and in a crash, a 1 year old is far more at risk of spinal cord injury if forward-facing. Please keep your child rear-facing until at LEAST age 2, if not longer, and don't worry about the legs being crowded. Kids like to sit with their legs folded/cross-legged and find it perfectly comfortable. And most seats allow for rear-facing to 40 pounds and are taller than they used to be.

And, as a corollary to "please keep your kids rear-facing longer," there's also, please keep your kids in 5-point harnesses until they can sit up properly in the car every time. 4 years old and 40 pounds are the minimums for riding in a booster seat that uses the seatbelt, in many states. Other states don't specify and only say that children need to be in a restraint to a certain age or a certain weight or height. But the minimum may not be enough. Many children who are old enough to be in boosters are too small. Other children who are the right size don't sit properly while riding and need the stability of the 5-point harness a little longer. My 4.5 year old has ridden in a booster but is not yet ready to do so all the time without having someone sitting next to him (as we did on our vacation). Wait until at least age 5 or 6 for full-time boostering. If your kid goes to preschool, chances are, they'd be better off in a 5-point harness.

This is a major piece of misinformation that needs to be cleared up--YOU as the parents are responsible for installing your child's seat properly. There's a lot to this statement.

Many people go to the fire station or police station to get seats installed, thinking they are doing the safest thing for their child. Not every firefighter or police officer knows about carseats or is a certified CPST (child passenger safety technician). Some of them are, and they can be very helpful. Others have even given out bad advice such as, a child is 10 months old and 20 pounds, therefore he can ride forward-facing. Unless a firefighter or police officer is actually certified to deal with carseats, don't go to them for advice. However, if they help you get a safe seat for your child, that's great.

Also, whether you take your seat to a police/fire station or to a carseat technician at an event, or even if you know someone who is a carseat technician, that person should NOT be installing your seat for you, unless you are in a position where you really can't do it yourself (heavily pregnant, severely arthritic, that sort of thing). That person should show you how to install the seat correctly in that car, but you should be the person doing the installation, so that when you need to move the seat, or take it out to clean it up, you can replace the seat correctly and not have to worry about having it checked by a technician every time. Carseats are designed to be installed by parents.

Read the manual. Seriously. It will save you a lot of aggravation. You will know from the manual how long you can use the LATCH system, how to adjust a convertible seat to go from rear-facing to forward-facing (you need to switch the LATCH belt direction and change the recline). You will know what to do if you need to recline the seat more or less. You'll know how to wash the carseat cover properly. And you'll know how long the seat lasts until expiration.

Car seats expire. They are made out of material that can degrade and break down over time. A simple demonstration of this: leave a plastic toy shovel out in the sun for awhile. Although people drive their cars and use their seats in different conditions, the expiration date was designed so that even a carseat under extreme conditions would be able to make it.

Is it a waste if your carseat isn't under these conditions? Maybe. I'm pretty sure that our carseats would last past their dates. We don't live in extreme climates, and most of the time, the seats are in the garage. The reason why I don't plan to use a seat past its date, despite the fact that it may have maintained its structural integrity, is because if heaven forbid we were in an accident, I wouldn't want anything less than proper insurance coverage should anything happen. And of course I want the kids to be safe. The company may decide that carseat misuse, which includes using a seat past its date, means less coverage.

So. I'm not a carseat tech. Or a police officer. I'm just a mom who knows to RTFM. Look it up. I'm not spelling it out because this is a family-friendly blog.

Carseat recommendations? The seat that fits in your car and is installed and used properly everytime. So that may be different for your kids.

I can tell you that you want to go from an infant seat to a rear-facing convertible seat, if you don't just start with the convertible, so don't worry about getting the maximum out of your infant seats. Spend under $100 on the infant seat. And pass it around, from trusted friend to trusted friend.

Convertible seats come in all different styles. You either want a convertible seat that lasts long rear and front facing, OR you get a convertible that will last long rear-facing and then get a good combination (harness to booster) seat.

Do NOT get a 3 in 1 (rear, front harness, booster) seat and think it will actually do all those things. Chances are, it won't, and you'll have spent more money than you meant to. Usually they make lousy boosters and are outgrown as boosters when they are outgrown as harnessing seats.

Carseat safety beyond the minimum and on the cheap? Cosco Scenera convertible followed by either the Evenflo Maestro, Evenflo SecureKid, or Graco Nautilus if it is on sale. All perfectly good seats. All seats have to pass the same tests.

This was far more wordy than I wanted. If you got this far, please share this information. Keep kids safe in the car.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I'm usually the first one to tell my kids, "enough with the iPad--go do something" but I'm not feeling well, so I'm glad that The Bear is playing letters and The Boy is reading a book.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Really afraid of tigers

Ender does not like to be left alone or put down while sleeping. He appears to be following in the footsteps of his oldest brother, without as much of the Daddy attachment. Usually that means that if Mom gets up, everyone is up. Baby gets mad, Daddy tries to snuggle him back to sleep but with no luck, waking The Boy if he is in bed with us too.

A baby left alone in "the wild" would clearly be in danger, from tigers (or other indigenous hazards). And babies don't want that, which is why they get upset when you put them down. Ender must be really afraid of tigers.


He is a baby who is so pleasant and easygoing. And is fine to play alone by my side while I make a meal or something like that. When we go out to the store, he rides in the Ergo snuggled up to me and is always happy.

His emotional needs are met effectively, because he gets to be close to me pretty much whenever he wants, and if not, he is close to someone else who loves him.

I haven't gotten any naysaying regarding his sleeping or his being given as much attention as he needs. If any mamas reading this have had issues with people telling you how to raise your baby and not "spoil" and let him get used to not being picked up right away (which does happen although not on purpose; having three little ones will cause that)...and then have people be surprised at how good he is? Tell them it's no accident.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The need

I wonder where my need to write has gone. I have these thoughts regarding what would be worth sharing...and they drift away.

We're okay. We all are. Everyone is healthy and happy. Musical Daddy is working at his bank job and racking up "points" like it's a video game over there. Achieving something very measurable without having to worry about anyone's opinion is satisfying for him. I feel very fortunate that he is doing this job. He is glad to walk in somewhere and just start pwning.

The Boy loves his superheroes and his games. And he LOVES Daddy.

The Bear and I have a great time singing "Old MacDonald" and "I had a Rooster" before bed. He gets a kick out of the animal sounds. Funny stories: last week, The Bear was picking animals and picked a duck, then something else, and again, and then he picked a duck. "we already picked duck, Bear." He said, "a bigger duck."

Related to that: I sang him the ABCs and then he asked for the little letters.

Ender is loving his table food and is still pleasant and east-going.

I guess with writing, you just have to do it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Thankfully, Musical Daddy's schedule changes as of next week and he no longer has to work late on Monday and Friday. While I enjoyed those mornings, I did NOT enjoy those evenings, and I'm more than happy to bid those farewell.

I'm certainly not the first mother to have a husband working "second shift" and not having dinner together as a family as often. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

My current project is looking at local elementary schools to see where we might want to send our children. We have another year after this one for The Boy. The cutoff was moved from September 1 to October 1, but even so, with a birthday of August 30, he'd do well with an extra year.

He can read (on his IEP it was written that he reads at a first grade level). He can write. He can add. I'm pretty sure that by next year, The Bear will be doing those things. Yes, I realize he'll be 3. You need to realize that he's ridiculously smart. Anyhow, I don't send my kids to school for the academics. It's preschool. I send them there to learn how to work in a group, follow directions, behave in an organized fashion, and play nicely. Those things are far more important when it comes to functioning in a school community and later on, the workplace. Sure, the content is important, but that's not really going to change from one building to another. Your intelligence and knowledge won't get you a job if you didn't learn how to talk nicely to other people and wait your turn.

Ender is a super-chunk. Did I mention that he is 20 pounds at 6 months old? He is so happy and sweet, and baby-led weaning (using the British definition for "weaning" which means the intro to food) is once again a big hit.

Still breastfeeding, of course, Bare minimum is 18 months, for my kids (and I wish that I hadn't listened and stopped nursing The Boy at 15 months). Ask me in a year when I plan to stop breastfeeding and I'll say "about 5 minutes, or whenever he's done. Then he'll have more later."

Overall, things are just fine over here. We're busy. We get through our day with as much love and kindness as we can.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Little Indulgences

If you are not a parent of more than one child, this won't make much sense to you.

Getting together with your kids one at a time, if you can, morphs the whole experience from a constant game of Whac-A-Mole into a truly pleasant experience. Right now I am lying in bed with JUST the baby, nursing him, while Daddy bathes the other two. It is so relaxing.

The Boy is at an age where, most of the time, he can be taken places and I really enjoy myself. Or in the case of yesterday, Daddy took just him to see Beauty and the Beast in 3D. I have taken him to shows, and while he does not always pay attention the whole time, he sits and does not screw around.

Difficult age for The Bear. 2.5 years old is too young to sit still and too old to cuddle. So we find our special outings elsewhere. Walks are great, as is playground time, and even meals out.

We are lucky that our kids, while they are far from quiet little church mice, we can take them out for a meal or an outing and they will be pretty civil.

In other news, Ender is 6 months old today! We moved his first meal at the table forward a day, so that everyone could be there. Here are the results of yesterday's and today's dining adventures. Broccoli, cucumber, and green beans, so far.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just what they ordered

We were blessed today with unseasonably warm weather and also "blessed" with some major attitude problems from The Boy. He has decided that he wants to fight about everything and not do things for himself such as get himself dressed (which I know he can do with no problem, because when he learned how to do it, he'd get up at 1 AM and dress himself, just because he could). The Bear was getting antsy too, so I decided that it was time to get the heck out of the house and go to the Blue Slide Park.

It was just what we needed. And for that hour and a half or so, everything was hunky-dory. Is that even a word?

Ender even sat in the swing a little bit. He was unimpressed.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Playing in the snow

When kids are as little as's a great idea in theory, but in practice the fun had for effort made just doesn't measure up.

It's more fun when all of the kids don't have to be out at the same time, because The Boy at nearly 4.5 years old was ready to stay out for longer than the 10 minutes that Ender lasted.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bring the noise

Welcome to yet another year of being in flux.

Job situations for us are questionable, with a likely settling for Musical Daddy into a distinctly non-musical job. I guess eventually it became too much to bear, pouring his heart and soul into this very personal and passion-filled work, only to be met with horse crap from above.

I'm in a bit of a personal rut right now, and I think in one sense I might do well to return to some of the old ways. I should worry less about the long term, particularly that over which I have no control, and just try to make each day count.

In about two weeks, Ender will reach his half-birthday. Six months already!! It will be time for him to start table food. He has been exclusively on Mom milk. As such, I can take credit for his amazing growth. He is SO tall! When they start eating other food (really not right away when I start serving it to them), it isn't all me anymore.

It's the natural order, and it's the right time, but it just means my baby is growing up. My redemption baby. My victory baby. The Boy's little tiny buddy.

So bring on the noise of 2012. I'll handle it one day at a time.