Thursday, November 21, 2013

Noticing girls

Dear Alex,

It has come to my attention recently that you have moved from generally noticing all girls, to perhaps being more specific in noticing and quietly liking one girl in particular.  I should have guessed that this would happen soon, given that this summer the boys in your camp group were a bit in awe about your friendships with girls and openly teased you for being a 'flirt'.  Even so, upon first thought, I thought that you were WAY too young and then realized that it is actually me who is WAY not ready. 

In fact, you are at a perfect age.  When I was in fourth grade a boy named Rob Chaseman used to ride his bike home next to me and a group of my friends.  He used to sing Rolling Stones songs and I think I had a crush on him for doing this.

I think you are a rockstar, just like he was.

I love you so much,

Monday, November 4, 2013

First crush

Dear Alex,
On October 25, 2013, just five months shy of your tenth birthday, this is what I know: Alex likes Adele and Adele likes Alex. 
And I love you!

PS this picture is from a Halloween parade - this isn't the way you guys dressed in 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A good community keeps you young

Hi Alex and Avery,

When you get older and have kids of your own, you will contemplate leaving the city for the space and greenery of the suburbs.  You will do this because the giant sized kid toys will be taking over your apartment and you will have convinced yourselves that your children need freedom to have fresh air whenever they want it, although in reality your kids will want to stay inside and watch tv, play video games or use the computer rather than go in the backyard.  You will also justify the decision to go suburban because of the schools, the excellent schools!  Before, during and after you make the suburban transition, you will bring up these justifications ad nauseum to your friends who have chosen to remain city dwellers, but in reality, you will be repeating these mantras to quell the fear in your own hearts.

"Will I begin to wear mom jeans?" you wonder (or for Alex, whatever the male equivalent is to 'mom jeans').  Will I feel completely isolated and become utterly boring?  Will I become (gasp), Middle America?

Never fear, my darlings; your dad and I went through all these stages of grief associated with losing our city selves, and here we are, more than six years later, and we have survived.  More that survived.  You see, in fact, we have flourished because while we chose our town for its schools and greenery and houses with basements to hide all the giant sized kid toys, the wonderful surprise when we got here was the other people who also chose this town.  People like us (!), who like to go out and laugh, and have a drink, and be silly, and NOT wear mom jeans (or whatever the male equivalent is), and stay young, and have the cultural context to understand what it means to be Gen X (or whatever your generation will be named in years to come).

It is a good place.  I hope when you are adults that you can find the same kind of contentment, companionship and community in this place that we call home.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Year two of it being just too hard to write during the fall

Dear kids,

Wow! I don't know why, I should expect it by now, but the fall and its routines really pack a punch that leave me gasping for air.

I have always said that autumn is my favorite season: I love the changing colors of the leaves, the weather getting cooler so that you need to grab a sweater in the morning that you will shed midday, new clothes to wear and getting to snuggle in under the covers and night.

Fast forward to being a mom of school age kids and that list changes to: football practice and games four days a week, School of Rock twice a week, Hebrew School twice a week, tap & jazz, soccer, cheerleading, packing lunches, making sure homework is done, making sure forms are filled out and returned, no time to cook or eat shabbat dinner together and in general no time to take a deep breath and just be.

It's also emotional in the fall because there is a return to interaction with sports coaches and teachers and a fierce mama bear (that's me) will do just about anything to protect her cubs and make sure that they are well represented.

I swore I wouldn't be that alpha mom who over-schedules her kids and yet here we are, not because I have pushed you, but because I haven't discouraged you in any way.  It is a full life, for sure, but there is little time to play after school with friends and that makes me sad.

However, if I separate my own feelings and stress from the mix, I would like to share with you that you are thriving, you are happy, you are kids who love school and your friends and your activities and your life.  Your joy is a blessing, it is what gets me through this re-entry into routine.

While I may not write again until at least football, cheerleading and soccer seasons end, please know that this time of year has you both smiling.


Monday, July 22, 2013


Dear kids,

Last night our family had dinner together.  This is not something that we do together every night, but most Sundays we'll try to sit together.

While we were eating, your dad said, "You know, I have to admit, I really like having dinner like this, all of us together."

Kids, if you want to know what makes a man really manly and attractive to women, it is comments like this.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Minutia, perhaps not worthy of a blog post

Avery cuddling next to me in my bed, "I have a wedgie."

Me "that's nice"

A "do want to see how it's tucked in?"

Me hiding a smile and enjoying how her little voice enunciated the hard CK sound in tucked, "Uh, no."

A "c'mon, you know you want to see my little tushie buns!

Monday, June 24, 2013

First Pedicure

Dear Avery,

After your cousin Ben's birthday party last weekend, you were out walking around the Upper East Side with your Auntie Dawn.  When I came to pick you up, the three of us stopped into a mani/pedi place.  All the ladies in the place, both those working and those enjoying a treatment, celebrated that this was you first time getting a big girl pedicure.  We sat in pedicure chairs next to each other and you squeezed my hand tight at the beginning of each new step in the process.  When Lucy (the lady who gave you your pedicure) started to scrub your legs and feet you squeezed my hand extra hard because it really tickled and because as you leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, what if she scrubs off my freckle?"  The sweetness and innocence of this statement was not lost on me and nearly made my heart burst with love; I know how much you love that freckle on the bottom of your foot and how much you think this makes you who you are.

I love the wonderment that is your five year old self colliding with new experiences.


Sugar and Spice

Dear Avery,

You are my sweet five year old girl and I love you!

Now that you have turned five, I can safely say that some things that I may have associated with a phase are truly just aspects of your personality, of who you are: blinding sunshine, booming claps of thunder, intense sweetness and intense fury all wrapped up into one (not so) tiny package.

Your daddy has lots of nicknames for you, the latest being "Cutie Pebbles" and while you complain and resist and stamp your feet, eventually you choose to own and exemplify those names, all in your own time.  Thank goodness we've moved past the nick name "difficult" :)

Your Grandma Ruth says you feel intensely and she is right.  What she hasn't articulated is how much you are just like your daddy (who has a nickname of Triple E - Easily Excitable Eric). I love that you share his ability to exude passion and joy for even the most simple things - this is a gift.  The flip side of this passion is the thunder that I mentioned.  You can scream and cry and lament and even have a private, yet spoken aloud conversation "Why G-d!" that I actually find quite amusing. As you continue to grow, I hope you learn how to harness this passion and emotion to your benefit.

Most inherent to your personality and amazing to/different from me is your facility to make friends around every corner.  You are so easy with people, you are never shy.  Wherever we go, whether you are being dragged to one of your brother's sporting events or just out for an afternoon you simply find someone to connect with, play with an in an instant, this person is your friend. What a marvel!

And now the list of "now that you are five":

  • you can (almost) do a perfect cartwheel
  • you can (almost) brush your own hair
  • you can (almost) take a shower by yourself
  • you can get yourself dressed for any occasion with minimal drama
  • you can go downstairs in the morning by yourself, grab a yogurt and spoon and call it breakfast
  • you can navigate a computer and get to your favorite game websites
  • you can write a card: DEAR MOM I LOVE YOU AVERY
Thank you for the love notes. Thank you for your (most of the time) sweetness.

Here's looking forward to an amazing year of kindergarten.

Happy (belated) birthday!

Great pipes.....finding your place

Dear Alex,

You are now officially a fourth grader.  Well, that's not quite true, but you are no longer a third grader and schoooooool's out.......for summer!

As I wrote to you when you turned nine, you are in a far more relaxed and happy place than you were at the beginning of the school year.

One of the things we talked about the entire year after you had seen the movie was signing you up for "School of Rock".  As the year progressed, there always seemed a reason to delay; you were just starting a new sport for the season, or Hebrew school, or after school science (which you hated, by the way!).

And the end of the school year seems no different because you are about to start camp (and then it will be football and school again........).  So we just realized that there is not good time to start and you just started.

And you loved it.  I mean you really loved it.  You came home from your lesson and had such energy and excitement in your voice.  Who knows if it will last and become a passion or if it will shift and feel like work. But right now in the moment, I know it makes you feel amazing.

You got to choose your main instrument that you want to study (you choice voice).  When you met with your instructor, after singing scales, you also got to choose what songs to sing and you chose The Ramones "I Want to be Sedated" and Cowboy Mouth "Jenny Says".

After only one lesson, the reviews are in: you were told that you have great pitch and great "pipes" and that you make great song choices.  And you felt not just "good enough" as is often the case when you competently play a sport but are not one of the all-stars.  You felt that you were the best at something - that this was your place.

Next up, trying this as part of a band, I can't wait, I know you will be amazing.

You may or may not be a rock star later in life.  So what I hope for you is that you retain an amazing sense of confidence throughout life from this experience.



This working mom's mantra

Find it!
It has to exist!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Keeping Great Company with a Nine Year Old

Dear Alex,

Happy 9th birthday!  I am more than a bunch of days late, but that is because I've been thinking about what I want to share with you about the last year of your life.  It's not easy to boil everything down to one blog post.  And honestly, because your personality has been so strong and clear from an early age, I know I might come across as repetitive - and I don't want it to seem like you haven't grown over the past year, because indeed, you have!

So as you might expect, you continue to be an emotionally smart, kind and funny kid who is a voracious collector of stories in both the film, written and spoken version.  That will never change.  I could just copy this paragraph and paste it for every year that you continue to grow.

As for the differences, from seven to eight years old, you had a year of positive growth, an easy happy year. This past year has been a bit different.  It will for sure all be positive in the long run, but while you and I are in it together, it could better be described as a year of growing pains.  You changed from a kid who sourced all your confidence from you family who knows better and adores you wholeheartedly to needing validation from the outside world, which can often be cold and mean.

Yes, it was a hard year of feeling not good enough:  not good enough in school, not good enough in friendship, not good enough at sports.  And none of it really factually true, but if that is what you were feeling, then it might as well be.  What I realized about you is that there is much inside you that is exactly like me (you poor boy!) in your need to excel and in your absolute fear of doing anything or trying anything new where you will not immediately be the best at that thing.

You have indeed come out on the other side of this year, still reeling and a bit dizzy, but definitely in a happier place.  I know that you will always strive for perfection and that will continue to carry a ball of stress and anxiety inside of you.  But with this drive, you will also reach higher and be more remarkable than you ever could have imagined.  And the people around will only see the amazing results of your reaching for perfection, not the imaginary stress ball that you carry around with you.  So please always remember to revel in that and know that although all the literature states that I am not supposed to encourage your "comparative need for best", that you are more often than not, the best and that you, my love, my first born, my boy who made me a mother, ROCK.

I love you,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A conversation with your third grade teacher

Dear Alex,

I just got off the phone with Mrs. Dextraze.  When I see the school number show up on my caller ID, I cringe wondering what part of your body you injured, what the nurse has to say about you.

But instead it was your teacher.  She called to talk to me about some class parent stuff - Wendy and I just finished executing the Third Grade International Luncheon.  This is an event that you kids particularly loved.  Basically, it was the culmination of a whole unit on genealogy.  You guys studied the countries from which your ancestors immigrated and then your parents brought in food cooked from those countries.  As usual, you stuck to what you knew and liked, but I was pleased that you did try some new things.  A spark of hope that one day you will be more adventurous!

Midway through the conversation  Mrs. Dextraze changed the subject to talk about you.  My "uh oh" alarms went off again, not because you are an evil person, but because sometimes you can be a bit mischievous and while I love that about you, I also look forward to the day that you know the appropriate time to set the imp inside you free.  But lo and behold, she had nothing bad to say, quite the opposite.  Mrs. Dextraze wanted to let me know how much she loved teaching social studies to the class because of your passion and excitement.  Your attitude was infectious for the class and everyone would really get into whatever the class was studying at the moment.  She said that you were truly gifted when it came to understanding people and other cultures and that you reminded her of her own brother.  AND that I should fully expect that you will run off to Europe and Asia and South America and everywhere in between as soon as you were old enough to travel on your own.

Alex, whether you know it or not, this gift of understanding people is truly amazing.  I don't know if this means that you will be able to highlight the human condition for the masses as a movie director or you will understand people's needs and go into advertising or marketing like me and Auntie Dawn or maybe you will be a psychologist like your Uncle David.  But I do know that you will be successful in life.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Venting Safely

Hiked all the way to the top of the mountain and got pushed off before I could enjoy the view.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Growing up Alex - the Lactose Intolerant Edition

Today we went to the beach for a little bit and stopped for some Ben & Jerry's. I didn't have any lactaid pills, but Alex had ice cream anyway. He said "When I refluxed it was so awesome because it felt so cold coming up."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Growing up Alex

Dear Alex,

You are not quite nine years old. I was updating and cleaning through your itouch and found this email that you sent.

It makes my heart smile.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Alex Schwartz Poetry Series 2.4.13

Will You Marry Me

So much to prepare
The ring
The time
The place
Finally, will you marry me

Friday, February 1, 2013

Remembering Grandma Pearl

I started to think about what Pearl's life lessons for me would be had she taken the time to write them down. And if I think back over the almost forty years I got to spend with her, there are really four or so:

1. Take care of your family before you take care of yourself. This may not seem like modern thinking, but if I really look to why she would do this it begins to come clear. If you do this, you will make everyone including yourself happy. If I think about each and every meal, I am not sure that she ever sat down with us, but rather served us. And who doesn't remember how each and every meal began, with your choice of a half grapefruit sprinkled with sugar (what I always chose) or a small glass of tomato juice (what Dawn always chose).

2. Stand up for what you believe in. Pearl was absolutely famous for this. She demanded amazing customer service, and I would sometimes feel sad for the people on the other end of the phone, letter, etc. because they had no idea what had just hit them. And yes, I have even been the person at the other end of this Grandma spent nearly forty years trying to get me to eat lox and pickled herring, not accepting that I just didn't like it.

3. Don't let the other guy know that you are one step ahead of him. She would always win her argument and she knew she would before she even started it, because she was really smart, but she was gracious anyway.

4. Make sure that you are really good at playing Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. I'm not sure about why this one is important, but I can tell you that I spent many nights of my life watching these shows with her and she was good.

Grandma, thank you for modeling these life lessons for me, and for teaching me how to needlepoint and for sneaking whole Passover picnics into the movies when I would come and visit. More importantly than having made an impact on this world, you have made an impact on me. For this I will always be grateful.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Neshama - what I'm saying in my head

Neshama (Hebrewנשמה) is a Hebrew word which can mean "soul" or "spirit". 

Avery was warm and snuggly and in a very deep sleep when I awoke her this morning to get ready for school.  She looked at me with a sleepy grin and then we had this conversation:

"Mommy, do you know what I'm saying right now?  Well not with my mouth but in my head." (meaning, do you know what I'm thinking right now)


"I'm just thanking G-d that I woke up feeling so happy and that you were here to give me a hug."

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Last week I said to Avery, "You scared me half to death!"  I have no idea what she did that scared me, but I do remember her response to my colloquialism, "Death is when you can't hear and you have to wear these little machines on your ears to help you hear."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It Never Ends

Being a parent is hard.  Essay written by Alex this weekend.

The Day I brought a pocket knife to school
One day I put my hands in my pocket. I found that I had a knife in my pocket so I walked up to Isabella, Nickolas and Joseph and I said "look isn't it cool" and they said "yeah!"  I felt wrong but cool so I didn't tell anyone else.  Later at recess I played soccer. It kept falling out of my pocket. I felt scared that I was going to get caught. Later I dropped it but I did not know I did so during read a Loud Quinn found it and showed it to Mrs. Dex. Then she called Mrs. capadna and she got Mrs. falknstern. They talked to me and then I talked to mom on the phone. Mrs. Capadona told me to NOT talk about it and I did not.


What I learned
1. not to lie
2. to check my pockets before I leave for school
3. If you find something dangerous show a teacher

Thing I like about my self
1. I am good at video games
2. I have friends
3. I am nice
4. I lern fast
5. I am smart
6. I am tall and handsome
7. I not so picky
8. I like minecraft