Friday, December 7, 2012

Pretty self explanatory

Dear Avery,

I shared this comment on social media this morning, but maybe you will want to remember this years from now.
Love,
Your mommy



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Growing Up Alex

Dear Alex,

You are currently 8 3/4 years old and you still let me read great stories to you at night before you go to bed. We have been working our way through the Carl Hiassen books and are reading "Flush" right now.

Last night's chapter had a reference to bachelor parties and exotic dancers and I asked you if you knew what that meant and then gave you the simple explanation that some women will dance naked to make money and that their job is called 'exotic dancer'.  We left it at that and then moved on.

This morning when you came into my room I asked you if you had a good night sleep and your response was, "Yes. I dreamed all night about those dancing ladies".

Thanks for the smile this morning.

I love your 8, almost 9 year old self!

Love,
Mom

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Power of Friendship

Dear Kids,

Well this past week has been completely out of the ordinary. A giant hurricane has come our way.  Hurricane Sandy is her name and she has wiped out power in much of the New York metro area, including over seventy percent of the homes in Glen Rock.  Without power, we have no heat, no hot water, no lights and other things that we consider essentials like internet and cable.  How did we ever live without them in the past!

During the time that we considered our home uninhabitable without all these modern conveniences, we stayed with our neighbors and friends, the Tufanos.  And my goodness, if I didn't think that they were a pretty amazing family before, after taking us into their home and sharing everything that they had with us for a full week, well, they are just amazing!

Alex, I know you are kind of like me and are often astonished by friendship and how easy it can be for some people.  The lesson I would like you to learn from our neighbors and friends is that you should be gracious and welcoming of friendship, you should let it wash over you and accept it for the gift it is.  In most cases there are no hidden agendas.

In the same vein, if your friends or neighbors ever lose power, you should not hesitate, you should embrace them and take them into your own home and share what is yours.  In the long run you will be richer for the experience.

Oh yeah, and if you stay with people for a week, even under such crazy circumstances, it will feel like a vacation with friends, you will drink too much, eat too much, stay up too late and despite the particulars, you will have a wonderful time!

Love,
Mom

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Brave

The following is a poem written by Alex in October of 2012 for his third grade class and I really love it.

Brave

to be brave
is to stand
up for something
that no one else
wants to do
like to fight
a bear

Friday, October 19, 2012

Radio Silence

Oh Alex, I know I promised to share the good, the bad and the ugly and I know that probably I should just have a "this too shall pass" attitude toward this moment in time, but instead I find myself wanting to protect you from this anxious, stress-ridden version of yourself.

You are my child, you are driven by a need to be perfect, to be better than everyone else, a better student, a better athlete, a better friend, a better musician, to be the best at everything from the moment you try.  This autumn, there has been so much more and so much new all at once between four days a week of football, two days a week of Hebrew school, more homework in more subjects, more pressure to be seen as "cool", to play kickball well during recess, to have more play-dates, to be a part of everything.  It is indeed overwhelming.

The result has been some crying (on your part and on my part), some frustration and some insomnia (last night I awoke at 230 am to you and Avery playing with Lego in your room).  You are suffering from an unnecessary lack of self-confidence.  And your dad and I are doing everything we can to show you success. We also want you to know that you are not alone and that other kids that you know are going through the same kind of growing pains.

Perhaps there is a reason that I do not have clear memories of third grade.  Your grandma does not remember my experiencing the same kind of feeling, but this is a chance that I hid it better than you do.

I wanted to share a quote that I read when doing some research on children and the need to be perfect.  I kind of love this and I hope that you will learn to always live by this credo:

"The Torah's view is that you have to be the best that you can be. It is not a competition. You are who you are, and you deal with what you have, and you become what you can become, and you don't have to compete with anyone. Sure, there are people to learn from, but there is no one to compete with."  Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald

My heart aches for you to be happy at all times because I love you so much,
Mom

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall 2012

These are my eight year old Alex and four year old Avery.  May they always be this close and this happy.


Another Example of "The Days are Long, but the Years are Short"

Dear Alex,

You are sleeping right now, which is the reason that I am typing this letter to you and no longer yelling and screaming.

You are eight and a half years old and in third grade right now.  You are learning about boundaries and lying and telling the truth and doing the right thing.  (You are also learning reading comprehension, math, science and social studies.)

Tonight you did something perhaps accidental and no doubt an incredibly stupid and expensive mistake.  You were taking a shower in our bathroom which has a stall shower.  Your sat down and covered the drain with your body to see just how high you could get the water to go.  Stall showers are not made to do this and so you caused a flood.  A flood not just in my bathroom, but also into my bedroom, also through the floor and ceiling below and into the hallway and coat closet.

It was raining in my hallway downstairs.

I am furious.  Intellectually, I know that eventually I will calm down, eventually I will just laugh ("remember the time you made it rain") and I know that I will be sad that you are no longer my little boy.  But just for today, I am truly feeling like the days are very long indeed and I am working very hard to find the strength to forgive you for being eight and a half years old and for needing to learn about boundaries and doing the right thing.

Even in anger, I love you,
Mom

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The truth, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING but the truth

Dear Alex,

You will watch many movies and TV shows in your life in which you get to watch someone testify in court. (Testify means to tell the truth)  Whenever someone goes up on the witness stand in these movies and shows, the lawyer will always ask first, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"

I couldn't help but think of this phrase today after you complained that Jenny would not let you do your homework in your room yesterday.  

We had told you that if you were having trouble concentrating with your sister running around and making noise that we were perfectly comfortable with you sitting at your desk in your room by yourself.

You told us that Jenny told you "no" when you asked.  I really couldn't believe that Jenny would say that to you, so I challenged you, "You know I'm going to ask her about it" and you challenged me right back, "Go ahead, she did say 'no'!"

When Jenny arrived this morning, I let her know that we were okay with you doing homework in your room to make sure that it was quiet enough to concentrate.  Jenny agreed, but also shared that when no one else is in the house (both Avery and David were not home) that it should be plenty quiet at the kitchen table.

Alex, what you did was tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  You did not, however, tell the WHOLE truth.  Perhaps with this skill of yours, you could one day be a great spin doctor.  This is someone in politics who shares information with the media in a controlled a specific way - usually the truth and nothing but the truth, but perhaps not the WHOLE truth.

I think you are a great kid (and thanks for trying broccoli today at the HealthBarn assembly)

Love,
Mom

Friday, September 21, 2012

Novel thoughts

So I've been thinking about writing a novel.  But I have no discipline.  And I don't really know how to get started.  I do know that I'd like the protagonist to be an American woman whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors.

I've even thought about the opening lines:

"She walked up to the bema to read, an honor bestowed upon her by the synagogue on this particular Shabbat.  Before she had even finished speaking the first sentence, I felt the familiar prick of tears at the corner of my eyes; we were instantly connected by something as simple as a European accent"

I hope I figure out how to write this one day.

Wow! Routines are time consuming!

Hey kids,

It has been over a month since I have written to you.  These darn fall routines are certainly a time suck!  Even now, as I'm struggling to fit it all in on a Friday, I know that I will only write something short because that is all I have time for today.

So let's see.  Alex, this fall you must master the fine art of balancing.  You have have third grade and all that comes with it - thirty minutes of homework a day instead of fifteen, a recorder for music class that you play enthusiastically, football practice two hours a day, three days a week (plus a two hour game on weekends) and Hebrew school two hours a day, twice a week.  Let's just say that itouch time, Wii time and hanging out with your friends time are minimal right now.  So while you really seem to be loving football, I am looking forward to the winter to get eight hours a week of your time back.

Avery, perhaps your schedule might not be quite as daunting as your brother's, however, make no mistake, you have stepped up significantly in the amount you are doing this year.  You attend Pre-K five days a week and stay through lunch each day.  On Tuesday afternoons you have ballet.  On Friday afternoons you have gymnastics and on Saturday mornings you have soccer.  That is a lot for a four year old!  And you seem to love them all.

Shanah tovah, kiddos,
Love,
Mom

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Balance - Part II

Hi Alex,

Thanks for getting past your tantrum.about going to Florida instead of Jamaica this year (that was a sarcastic 'thank you', in case that was not utterly clear).  In any case, I wanted to write a bit more about your continued evolution of understanding privilege and wealth.

We visited with friends that have a house in the Hamptons this past weekend.  From the moment we entered their house you began to speak about how you would really like to live in a house like this.  There were many instances throughout the weekend in which you made it clear that you were pleased with your surroundings.  The crown jewel of comments however, came when you and I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon.  Our hosts had told us which way to walk so that we could see the house that Beyonce and Jay-z own.  Standing in front of their estate, you counted seven chimneys, which meant seven fireplaces and you said, "This house is so huge it looks like a small factory with all those chimneys!" and then a bit further down the road, in a bit more contemplative manner, "I really would like to live out here and live like this.  I think this kind of wealth is really good."

I am not sure what to tell you Alex.  I think that kind of wealth can be good, but only if you are surrounded by family and friends who love you, and that everyone is healthy and that more than the money you have, that you have other things in life that make you happy.

I know you are bright and talented and that will hard work, you will achieve everything you want in life.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The makings of a great story


"Avery?  Why did you make a bear who is frowning?  Is he sad?"

"Of course he is sad, Mommy!  He went home and he couldn't find his honey anywhere.  Wouldn't you be sad too?"

Being wondrous never grows old

Dear Avery,

You are having a lot of fun at summer camp this year.  And while we may be a generation or two later with DVDs and itouches and video streaming and constant social media, I am so very happy to report that summer camp and all that goes along with it are still very much the same.  Here are some quick photos (that I  took with my phone - so okay, some things may have changed!) on the walk to and from camp last week.

Continue to enjoy your childhood!
Love,
Mommy












Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Goal Oriented

Hey kids,

It's August.  Another month until school starts and I'm not rushing the end of summer, but all the sudden I can feel it creeping up on us.

I have been wondering if you ever think about how I am performing at my job of mommy.  Do you think I am perfect?  I am not.  There is no one ideal for this job description.  I do however, imagine that each and every mom can close her eyes and can describe her ideal in minute detail.

My paragon of perfection is not unlike a well-rounded liberal arts education with a strong core.  I think about  music, visual arts, sports, literature, pop culture, social interactions, healthy eating, well-rested, clean rooms, clean bodies, indoor play, outdoor play.  One must be at least minimally proficient in all of these areas, if he or she hopes to lead a successful life.  Believe it or not, that is why I try to 'under' schedule you.  I believe that when left to your own devices that you will be most creative and engaged.










I wont apologize for pushing these ideals on you.  I will however be empathetic.  It must be tough to have a mom who wants you to be pretty good at so many things.  Know that in setting these goals, I hope you will both become well-rounded and uncover your passion in life, whatever that might be.  This is childhood as it should be!

love,
Mom


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Emerging Theme

Hi Avery,


I just had to write about this little tale. It is emblematic of one of the themes of this blog - finding humor in tragedy. Perhaps, that is how I should tag the posts that are now categorized as "therapy".


Tragedy is a strong word, sometimes sadness or melancholy will do, but in this case I think it's appropriate. You see, there has been another unexpected death. Our friend, Andy has lost his dad, Paul. And so, the community has gotten together to mourn. That's when people either deal with their own grief and sadness or help friends and family to do so. When you're Jewish, this process is called shiva. If someone in your family died, you are "sitting shiva" and when you are helping someone mourn you "pay a shiva call".


So when Andy's dad died, we were paying a shiva call.  I'll get into the rituals in a bit, but to begin with I just want to describe the wild scene at Katie and Andy's house.  It was one giant playdate of kids and parents and families and there must have been at least a hundred people in the home.  There was definitely a mood of life and energy with all the kids running around and acting as kids do.  It was most definitely not somber in that home.  So much so that when you emerged from the throng of kids and found me for a moment, you said to me, "Mommy, this is such a GREAT party.  We should have a party like this for Grandpa Lou!"  Grandpa Lou is my grandfather and Alex is named after him and I believe that this might be the only other person you know that is not alive.  So it would make sense to you that if you wanted to have such a great party, you would need someone dead to celebrate too.  Simple, right?


One of the shiva rituals is to have the rabbi come to your home every evening when there is a minyan (ten or more Jewish adults present) so that the grieving family can say a prayer called Kaddish which is a prayer to honor and remember the dead.  This is not to be confused with Kiddush which is the prayer we say before we drink wine or grape juice.  So anyway, at the "GREAT party for Bernie's Grandpa", the rabbi came and there was a bit more order for a few moments anyway as the adults quieted down and faced East and read from prayer books.  During this ritual moment of silence, I felt a tap on my shoulder and was directed to look toward the bathroom off of the Wedeens' kitchen.


There you were sitting on the toilet, grunting, pooping with the door wide open, during an extremely serious and sad moment.  I made my way over to shut the door and you exclaimed loudly, "Mom!  A little privacy, please!"  The adult giggled and I tried to be serious.  About 30 seconds later came the call that all mommies of young children are used to hearing, but not normally during a quiet prayer service, "Mom!  Will you wipe me!"  A few more giggles erupted as I made my way back to the bathroom.


It is interesting how this mundane (and slightly gross) moment could add levity to an otherwise very serious and very sad moment.  At a deeper level, I am reminded of the continuity of life.  Even in death, the next generation must choose to live and thrive.


Okay.  That's enough waxing philosophical for now.


Thank you for adding exuberance to this life.


Love,
Mommy

Balance

Hi Alex,


This post is all for you.  I want you to know that you are growing up privileged (we hate the word 'spoiled'!) and that it is a struggle for us everyday to make sure that you are thankful for the amazing childhood that you have.


Today you burst into tears.  Why?  Because you had no food in your belly?  No roof over your head?  No mother and father and sister and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to love you?  Nope.  None of those.  It was because we mentioned to you that you would be sharing a room with Avery in the summer house that we rented.  You have had a summer house every single summer since you were born, so I should not have to explain what that is, right?  Oh and that instead of going to Jamaica for your November school break this year that we would be going to Florida to visit Grandma and Pop in their new house.  With a pool. Right outside your bedroom door.


You poor dear.  How can you ever survive such treatment and injustices?


Or in other words, when you give tzedakah, not only should you want to help others, but you should always be cognizant of all that you have.  You are one VERY lucky little boy.  And I want you to behave as such.


Love,
Mom

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When you don't follow your dreams

Hey kiddos,


It's your work-from-home mommy here.  I'm taking a break from reading up on environmental sustainability for work.  


As I take a deep breath, bleary eyed from staring at a computer screen all day, I wanted to tell you that even if you still want to be a princess-fairy-ballerina when you grow up, but find yourself instead tap-tap-tapping away on your computer keyboard that it's okay.   


Some of the stuff that you never imagined would be so integral to making you happy in daily life like being a mommy, being a wife, being a friend would be super tough to accomplish if indeed you were a princess-fairy-ballerina.  Plus, what would have to talk about with your children, your spouse and your friends if not your dashed dreams of being a princess-fairy-ballerina.


So I am not writing amazing essays for Newsweek that will one day be collected into a book of stories.  (Miss you, Nora Ephron!) and I am good with that.  Well most of the time, I am good with that and when I am not...I have this blog.


I am also good with spending time dreaming big ideas and discussing them with friends and family.  In fact, I don't see it as not following your dreams, I see it more as an ever evolving set of dreams.


I am so very lucky that I get to live this life.


Love,
Mom

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thankful for beginning phonics

Hi Avery,


I swear that sometimes you are sunny and lovely and loving, but that is just not as much fun to write about when at this age of four you are also often completely normal in being unbalanced and angry and crazy.  So I am sorry for these posts all in a string in this part of the blog, but my darling, each and every story I relate here is completely true.


So yes, it's true, sometimes you do have bouts of intense anger that bubbles up and is kind of like the book "When Sophie Gets Angry".  We do our best to parent you through these moments, staying as calm and neutral and anger free as possible.  


While I've already forgotten what this past weekend's tantrum was about, I do remember that you were  having trouble managing your emotions and this time the victim of your acrimony was your poor dad.  With teeth clenched you said, no actually you shrieked, "I'm going to say the C -word because I'm so angry!" at which point your dad and I looked at each other with worried looks and I thought that I might really have to get soap to wash out your mouth. 


And then you did it.  You uttered the C-word, "I feel like I want to (cuh, cuh, cuh) CILL you!"  In case you are not reading this till much later, what you meant was KILL.  The mingling emotions and thoughts that entered my body and mind after this utterance:
1.  Thank goodness for your innocence and that the word kill is one that you think is a really bad word (you think the same of the word 'stupid' right now)
2.  How could you possibly think such horrible thoughts about your daddy who loves you so much and treats you truly like a princess.  I am not nearly as accommodating and I don't believe you would ever treat me that way, and
3. I'm kind of a little bit proud to watch you sound out and spell words at such a young age - you rock at beginning phonics!


Love,
Mommy

Why you wont see many pictures of Alex this summer



Hi Alex,


This past weekend you decided you wanted a buzz cut.  Because I am a full believer in letting you do just about anything that's not permanent (so color it blue for all I care, but no piercings and no tattoos!), I said okay even though I love, Love, LOVE you with slightly longer hair.


So this is the result of that haircut.  Without the sunglasses, I am reminded of what you looked like when you were a hairless baby Alex.  Your daddy thinks that you look more athletic and a bit more tough.  Some friends of mine have seen this photo and say that you look bada$$.  I am going to be honest with you, I really hate it!  You told me that you really don't like how it looks too much either and that you don't plan on cutting it this short again.


And since I am the keeper of our family history both through this blog and through the taking of photos, I am thinking that this one photo will be the only one to document that you decided to experiment with a new look the summer you were eight years old.


See ya in the fall, hopefully with a head full of hair.


Love,
Mom

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Creative Expression

Hi kids,

I want you to know that when I get to be creative I am at my happiest.  You make ask then why I often poo-poo arts & crafts or science projects at home.  The simple answer is I love the chance to be creative when I am not utterly responsible for cleaning up your giant messes.  I  LOVE your messes, I do!  And I am looking forward with great joy to the day that you will be responsible for your own messes.

Anyway, as usual, a huge digression.  So tomorrow is Alex's last day of second grade.  He's had a great year and a great teacher and I want to thank her.  There will be a gift card, of course, but I wanted to do something more.  I decided to bake cookies, in 98 degree heat. :)

Here's the label I made to adorn the plate of cookies:

I hope she likes it.  And I hope that when you find something that you love to do that you get to do it all day, every day.  And now back to my regularly scheduled day filled with data (yuck!) and more data (boo!).

Love,
Mom

Monday, June 18, 2012

Perspective

Hey kids,


Just wanted to let you know that I think it's entirely normal to forget in just the blink of an eye, the things that really matter in life and to start to get super-cranky on a Monday morning about all the everyday annoyances.  I am posting below this internet-famous story about some mythical professor that I see pop up from time to time over the years.  Reading it always helps me to smile, even on a Monday morning.



"A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty glass jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes”. The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. “Now,” said the professor. “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls represent the important things – your family, your health, your children, your friends, your passions, the kind of stuff that if all else was lost and only these remained, your life would still be full. “The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. “The sand is everything else, the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first, there will be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.”
You know, the same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small things, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the elements that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Set aside time for your medical check-ups. Help out at a charitable institution. Take your spouse out to dinner. Don’t worry. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the hinge on that cupboard door. Take care of the golf balls first; the rest is just sand."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sorry to say that you are really more like me

"Dang it!  Sorry mom, I'm really just like dad.  You know that us men, we can't help our cursing."


My darling Alex, in the words of Grandma and Auntie Dawn, that sentence could not feel more like a true Jodi-ism.


I love that you make such outrageous and humorous statements.


Love,
Mom

Monday, June 11, 2012

Escaping Mediocrity

Dear Avery,
I have been thinking a bit about what makes a person different or special and do I really want that for you.  This past weekend my friend Vivian and I took you and her daughter Natalie to see a show in the city called Freckleface.

Freckleface is a musical geared for kids that teaches the important lesson to celebrate all of our differences.  Of course, when we asked you girls what you had learned from the play you said 'how to tap dance' and 'how to dribble a basketball'.  Perhaps the show was meant for someone older than four years. But I digress.


Anyway, the real story that I wanted to relate to you was that you did something that probably every other child has done in some form or another at some point or another.  And the formula goes like this:


"Hey friend, I think you should see if this tiny object can fit inside your nose.  Do you want to try and see?"


This type of situation almost always involves tweezers and if you are very lucky will involve an emergency room and surgical vacuum as it did in the case of you, your friend Abby and the tiny object, a squishy, uber tiny Polly Pocket shoe.



In this case, do I wish you had been different and not a normal, run-of-the-mill everyday kid?  Absolutely!  Am I super happy that Abby was such a good patient and that her parents were so good natured?  Even more so!  And do I think that you learned your lesson?  This is where you turn from mediocrity and sameness into the Avery that can completely amaze me.  While you may not have thought through the consequences, you level of empathy was truly enormous.  And for that I am thankful.  I am also very sure that you will never put anything inside your nose (other than perhaps a finger), will never cut anyone's hair (we had that discussion as well since this seemed like a good teaching opportunity for appropriate behavior) and will never ever go out of your way to harm any other human being or living creature.


Avery, I am so very proud that you are you.
Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trading innocence for cash

Hi Alex,


It's June only a few more weeks until you are done with second grade.  You turned eight this past March.  I want you to know these details while I recount this story to you.  


This past weekend you lost another tooth while you were sleeping and either swallowed it in your sleep or it's hiding somewhere tangled in the sheets or under you bed.  In either case, you asked if you should write a note so that the tooth fairy would know to come and visit.  You even asked me where you think you should put it so the tooth fairy would be able to find it easily.


The next morning, SURPRISE, the tooth fairy had left you five dollars and her calling card of a little flower sticker on the note you had written.




You were in your room and I casually mentioned, "Oh look what the tooth fairy left you."  You looked and said, "How cute, mom.  You put a little sticker on the note for me!"


I looked at you with bemused horror and shock.


"I mean, the tooth fairy put a little sticker..."


"I mean, the tooth fairy lives inside of you?"


"Just don't tell your sister, Alex.  Okay?"


"Deal.  But do I still get money for my other teeth?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I gave birth to two thrill seekers

Dear Alex and Avery,


Why do you love roller coasters so much?  What is it about how you were made?  Furthermore, when do we all think Avery will be tall enough so that I will be able to cease the insanity that is "shorter child must be accompanied by an adult"?


P.S. Hope you had fun at Hershey Park a couple of weeks ago.


Love,
Mom

The title of this post can only be called 'innocence'

A couple of weeks ago, Avery was sitting on Eric's lap on the couch while he was relaxing and watching some TV before he gave her evening bath.  Avery was facing him and hugging him and being silly because she wanted his attention to focus on her instead of on the television.


All the sudden she says, "Daddy! It's 'gina verse penis!" and begins to give her very loving father what can only be described as a lap dance.  It was one of those moments where the adults in the room (myself and Eric) just froze not sure how to diffuse the situation.  Eric lifted her off his lap, the two of us bit our lips to keep from bursting out laughing and we moved on with our evening.


We look forward to embarrassing her with this story when she is much older.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Love!

Hey guys,


We're off to Hershey Park in a few hours.  Reminder -  that we went to Disney World earlier this year and have plans to go to Six Flags later this summer.  Reminder - that I HATE amusement parks, hate hanging out with the great unwashed (yes, I am a snob, get used to it), hate the rides that make my stomach feel all funny (too scary) as well as the rides that do not make my stomach feel all funny (too boring).


But I LOVE you two and the joy and happiness that I get to witness when we take you guys to these places.


Happy weekend!
Love Mommy

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Less

Hi kids,

A lot of the work I'm doing right now has put me face-to-face with people who have so much less financially than we do. And if you have read some of the recent posts you know I have written about our friends and family that are dealing with a lot less health than we have.  With all this exposure to less, it would be very easy to fall into an anxiety ridden and fearful state of 'what if?', but I am trying my hardest to be thankful and positive everyday.

Every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep I will say a little prayer because my life is rich with health and happiness and kisses and hugs from your dad and the two of you and friends who care and sweet smelling flowers and bites of chocolate and bagels and silly songs and chatting on the phone and laughing at TV shows and vacations and the list could really go on.

Remember to be thankful everyday.  It will do wonders for your outlook on life.

Love,
Mom

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Four year old aspirations

Dear Avery,


Now that you are four years old, you seem to spend a good amount of time thinking about your future self.  You like to discuss at length what you will be when you 'grow up'.


In my mind we are making good progress.  The latest iteration of a career comes in the form of your wanting to be a teacher with blonde curls. I have no idea what the hairstyle has to do with your being effective, but visualizing is never a bad thing I guess.


In any case, I feel my work is paying off.  Just a few weeks ago, you had informed me that you would like to be a manicurist. At that point I was so glad (sarcasm intended) that I had continued to reinforce that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, a CEO, president or.....a manicurist. At least that was a step in the right direction from your previous career aspirations of wanting to be a pretty princess.


I love that you have such a rich imagination!
Love,
Mommy

Re-branding the yearly doctor check-up

Hey Alex,


Today we went to see Dr Jawetz for your 8 year and Avery's 4 year check-up.  Alex, you have been talking to me for a few days now about whether you would have to get a shot.  Each time you asked I corrected you - it's an injection not a shot - and told you that I did not know what the protocol was for the 8 year old visit.  And each time you asked, I think that your anxiety continued to increase.


When we got to the office, you asked the nurse.  She did not know either.  By the time you asked Dr. Jawetz your goofy, crazy, nervous energy was at an all time high.  And when you found out that the answer was yes (You needed a Hepatitis A booster), your anxiety reached an all time high.


So here's what I know about this visit to the doctor.  You are 54.5 inches tall and weigh 67 pounds.  And 67 pounds of pure muscle is extremely hard to restrain when said person does NOT, you repeated DOES NOT want to have blood taken or vaccines received.  You cried and screamed and yelled and it was quite an impressive and scary show to say the least.  Your 4 year old sister may have cried a bit, but was far more docile and accepting than you.


I don't have too much else to say about your performance, just want to make sure that you remember your younger self in later years.


I am so thankful that you are healthy and are generally happy (when there aren't needles involved)


Love,
Mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An ecstatic fourth birthday for Avery!



Dear Avery,


Notice that I didn't wish you a plain old 'happy' birthday in the title of this post.  At four years old, you feel with such passion and wild abandon that I needed a really strong synonym for happy.  


I want you to know that every minute of every day that I recognize that you are an amazing little person.  And while at this point in your life you are sometimes challenging, you also always continue to be a joy to watch as you grow and develop.  


I mentioned your passion and intensity - this goes for both the positive and the negative.  No one else I know gives tighter hugs or longer kisses than you do.  No one else I know can revel the way you do in the simple pleasures be it a great tasting strawberry, a beautiful flower or a really funny joke.  And no one else I know will wail with true empathy when you see someone else in pain.  This is not to say that your passion is without its dark side.  You are also in touch with anger and the simplest instances of not having things exactly as you would like them will have you shouting "I. Am. ANGRY."


Your teacher, Morah Rachelle says that you are independent.  I would say that you like having your own way so much that there is no way that you would be a part of a group where you had to go along with the team.  Hopefully, you will retain your strong sense of self as you grow, but will learn the value of being a part of a group.


I have written a lot about your spirit and your will.  I think this is so much of who you are and you will always be.  But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that at 4 years old you are becoming quite an academic - you can write your name and most of your letters, you love trying to spell words and count as high as you can.  And at 4 years old you also continue to be a beautiful little girl.  People stop me on the street to tell me that you are remarkably stunning.  I try not to let you hear it, I want you to feel special because you are smart and funny and driven and not just because you are truly pretty.  Hence my hatred for Barbie and Rapunzel and Disney princesses and all the other toys that you enjoy playing with so much.  But as I let your brother have nerf guns and do not believe that he will grow up and shoot guns, I also let you have your Barbie dolls, believing that you will not grow up to be a vapid, simpering fool.


In later years, what I hope you remember most about being 4 years old is feeling loved and safe and happy.


Wishing you the most ecstatic of birthdays.


I love you with all my heart,
Mommy

Monday, April 23, 2012

Perhaps I should invest in a metal detector?

Each and every time I go to CVS in town, I am forced to purchase another run of the mill, cost about $1 nail clipper.  This is because each and every time I go to look for a nail clipper in this house, I have discovered that one of the wee ones, most likely Avery has used it and forgotten where she has put it.  Now at this point, I must have purchased at least two dozen and my question is, where on earth (or more specifically, in my home) could they all be!?!?



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stay golden, Ponyboy

Hey kids,


The title of this post might seem kind of weird, but I hope by the time you are old enough to read this you will have seen all of the movies and read all of the books that have struck a chord with me throughout my life.  If you haven't yet, that quote is from a movie (and a book) called The Outsiders.


Anyway, the real reason that I'm writing is that many of our loved ones are sick - really sick and battling that sickness.  I have written about this sickness before and each time I feel like I have documented it here, lo and behold, I hear of another friend of family member who must be strong and fight disease.  It is horrifying.  We have kept this from you because you are young and you shouldn't have to deal with so much sadness.  In any case, it has me wondering (with much anxiety) if we are truly immune and how or why we are truly immune to disease.  This might be the anxiety talking, but I really do not think that we are safe from sickness so please, please, please remember to find some happiness every day, to tell and show your family and friends that you love them with words, hugs and acts of kindness.


Even if you, G-d willing, never have to deal with such sickness it would make me proud to know that you have the capacity to love and care for those around you and to remain happy throughout life.


I love you,
Mommy

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A moment in time

Dear Avery,
One morning this week, I woke up to find you sound asleep next to me cuddling your bear.  I know moments like these are fleeting and I am truly thankful for each one of them that I get to experience with you.
Love,
Mommy



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Going "off-grid"

Hey kids,
I'm freakin' out because I just saw a news story about the level of radiation that ipads emit.  I know how much you two like to play with them and hold them in your laps and I am wondering how I can prevent anything bad from happening to your still tiny developing bodies.
I would do just about anything to protect you and keep you healthy.  You may hate me now because of limitations on how long you are able to play with the Easy Bake Oven and JetPack apps, but in the long run when you remain healthy and are easily able to have babies of your own, I think you might change your minds.
Figuring out how to live in an ever changing world is certainly tough.

Friday, March 16, 2012

416 weeks old!




Dear Alex,


Today you turn eight and I just cannot believe it!  I truly remember when I measured your age in weeks and even days, that's how new to the world you were.  And now you are eight and completely your own person.  


I love that you have secrets with friends and you call them up on the phone! by yourself! and ask if they want to "hang out" - no more play-dates, I know.  


I love that while you are growing up, there are still some remnants of little boy in you and for that I am thankful as I am not ready to cede you to the world.  I love that you will still hold my hand when we take walks and give me hugs and kisses (as long as your friends are not around) and hop into bed with me in the morning to just be lazy.


I love that you are becoming such a great reader and that you enjoy both works of fiction and non-fiction.  I love even more that you still let me read to you every night before bed and that you beg for just one more chapter, even though the books we read now have impossibly long chapters.


I love that you have retained your emotional intelligence and sensitivity and that you truly care to make sure people, especially your own mom are feeling happy and content.


I do not love your colossal affection for WWE wrestling.  I do love, however, that this is something you share with your Dad.


I love your giant hippopotamus front teeth.  I think I will be a little sad when they no longer dominate your mouth.


I love that nearly every pair of pants you own are both too short on you and have a giant hole in the knee and that even when you are wearing pants that do not have holes you still come home with dirty knees.  How do you do that!?!?


I love that you are unbelievably tall and lanky.  I love even more that the way you look reminds Grandma so much of Uncle David when he was your age.  You are the third generation of "Monkey Boys"!


I love watching you figure out your place in the world and I truly look forward to each and every birthday that I get to spend with you.


You are just fantastic.  Happy birthday!


Love, 
Mom

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sledgehammer of sadness, making way for new beginnings

Dearest children,


The sickness that I wrote about in the last post seemed to be only the beginning of other scary, sad and then heart wrenching moments to come in the near future.  I was in a car accident in which I was uninjured (thank goodness), but it was bad enough to shake my confidence.  Then in the worst of all parents' nightmares our friends, Mike and Suzanne have suddenly and tragically lost the live of their son Gavin.  Daddy and I went to the funeral today - I cannot possibly type anything here that would do justice to the emotional low that everyone in that room was feeling.


It's kind of strange right now being surrounded by so much grief that I find has brought on an enormous sense of contemplation.  It's strange because in the middle of all of it, I am still able to be happy, even joyful in the moment with you.  This magnificent spring weather has settled in, which has meant evening walks, playing outside, rosy cheeks and dirty, scraped up knees.  Today, as we returned from the funeral, we arrived just in time to pick up Alex from school and watch him play on the school playground with his friends.  Yes,  Alex, you played with your friends and did not hang around us, but for a moment when Mrs. DiLisio was releasing her charges to parents and grandparents and babysitters and you saw Daddy and I waiting for you, the smile on your face was just priceless.  I would give anything to bottle that expression of love and happiness so that I might carry it with me always, particularly in times of sorrow.


You kids are particularly wonderful and I wont ever forget it.


I fiercely love you,
Mom

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding meaning

Hi delicious children,


I'm sorry if I've been a little short with you lately.  Too many people in our lives have been sick lately and not the kind of sick that you feel better after some chicken soup and good night sleep; rather it's the sick that lives with you for months or even years and makes you wonder if you will ever be healthy again.


When I think about how absolutely blessed we are with our health, I feel badly about my anger towards what I perceive as imperfections: the house not perfectly clean and in order, shoes and backpacks and teddy bears not put back in their proper place, a not so nice work colleague making me want to quit my job for all the wrong reasons, my not being better at filling out school and camp forms and scheduling playdates and participating in each and every school activity (and not staying through music time with Avery today - I'm sorry my darling shana, I know how important that was to you today and I don't want to ever let you down).


But then I also think that if I didn't have these imperfections as an outlet for my anger and fear for these friends and family I love so dearly, I might really fall apart.


So today, I am writing to you to let you know that I am thankful for life's daily nuisances which both free me from my fear and let me take a step back and laugh at myself.


Shabbat shalom and much love,
Mommy

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Will we ever get through this?

The answer is of course, yes, as a family, we can get through anything together.  The "this" that I'm writing about is:


A] two kids with lice (a.k.a. the straw that broke the camel's back)
B] one horrible head cold (it made leaning forward over kids' head to peer and make sure all nits were gone all the more fun)
C] one husband away for the week for work (in the best of situations, I am co-dependent and saddened when I don't get to hang out with Eric on a daily basis)
D] nary a work from home day in the past month....until today, when infested heads beckoned me home.


I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beshert

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this evening and was saddened to discover that the writer had bared her soul and shared with the world that she and her husband had just separated.  Here is a woman that I have never met, yet I am invested in her daily life and believed that I understood the inner-workings of her family.  


I do hope that she is able to work it out, but in a somewhat narcissistic way, reading that post had me being introspective about my own relationship.  I thought about how I could best express how I feel about Eric, the love of my life.  Because even on my darkest and crankiest of days, I simply love Eric.  The idea of being apart from him never crosses my mind.  I miss him when we are apart even for one evening.  I am lucky, I am blessed and I do not take the joy I get from this relationship for granted.  Eric is truly my beshert.


Beshert is a Yiddish word for one's soulmate.  I was reading an article by Emuna Braverman, a clincial psychologist and marriage & family therapist who writes for aish.com and would like to republish her words here, as a love letter and as an affirmation that Eric is worth every second of effort necessary: 



“How will I know he’s my beshert, my soul mate?” one of my students asked me the other day.
“It doesn’t matter,” I replied. “Make a commitment to him, put in all the hard work and effort necessary and he’ll become your beshert.”
When two people build a life together, when they start with a foundation of shared values and good character, and if their commitment is strong, they will create a healthy marriage.
Beshert is what you get after years of struggle and joy, years of pain and celebration, years of effort and laughter.
With all the hard work, with constant giving to their spouse, they will create an irrevocable bond. Through their family activities and community involvement they will deepen their unity. Their sense of intimacy and connection will only grow over time.
Beshert is what you get after you pay your dues.Beshert is what you get when you put someone else’s needs before your own. Beshert is what you get when you keep pushing forward no matter how rough the road. Beshert is what you get after years of struggle and joy, years of pain and celebration, years of effort and laughter.
There is a slightly mystical aspect to beshert – it's what you get when you’re not looking for it, when you’re not fooled by illusory externals and pseudo-spirituality.
Beshert is what you get after using your time to be loving and caring, after creating a true marital unit out of two individuals.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pride

Dear Alex,


This past weekend you had a few firsts.  Your first wrestling meet: three matches of which you won the first and  lost the second and third.  And your first time playing Words With Friends (with me, Grandma, Pop pop and Auntie Dawn).


I do not believe that I have ever heard your dad cheer so loudly.  In fact, he was hoarse later in the day from all that screaming.  And he even told me that he has never been so proud of you in your entire life.  Not just because you won, but because even when you lost, your perseverance was just amazing.






You also started playing Words With Friends.  You are mainly using 3-letter words and don't quite get the strategy of double and triple letters and words, but - if I may be a little nerdy for a moment - the fact that you are playing Scrabble with me and other members of your family evokes such a warm, bubbly, enormous sense of pride in me - even more than watching you succeed in wrestling.


Blog theme #1 - Alex continues to grow and thrive and we are PROUD!


Love,
Mom