Showing posts from 2014

A lighthearted memory from fourth grade

Spiech, Lisa<>May 21 to me Hi Mrs. Schwartz, Today I announced a States research project that we would be working on through the end of the year.   Both fourth grade classes will be researching one of our states and writing an informational piece based on the research.  The 50 states are being divided between the two fourth grade classes.  I explained to the class that I was going to randomly pull their name stick and then they could come and pull a state name out of a cup.  I explained that they might not get a state they want, but they could certainly research a state they were interested in on their own. When Alex picked from the cup he got Delaware and was very disappointed.  He went back to his seat and cried.  He cried for about a half an hour.  I told him he could go down to the health office until he felt better, but he said he would be fine.  I just wanted you to know how upset he was.
Thank you for sending Alex’s writing in before NJ ASK.  I could …


Dear Alex,

Tomorrow marks the one-week anniversary of your having left for sleep away camp for the very first time.  When you left I didn't cry.  I'm generally stoic like that, so it wasn't so surprising.  

I did however walk around for a few days with a funny feeling in my stomach because I didn't know what every minute of every day is like for you at Indian Head. The only way I could even glimpse into knowing was to scour the photo website for smiling pictures of you.  Pictures of you doing fun things.  Pictures of you with other campers with your arms slung around each other because you were the best of friends.

Of course, I recognize that this is unrealistic.  Nobody becomes best friends overnight.  It takes time and "bonding" experiences for that to happen.  Intellectualizing didn't help the pit in my stomach.  In fact, it made it worse when I stopped to think about how you might be doing at any given moment.  You, my emotionally brilliant son who over-…

The first day

Dear Alex,

For the first time in the ten plus years that you have been a part of my life I have absolutely no idea what you are doing right now, how you are feeling, what it looks like where you are.  That is because today you got onto a bus without looking back and left for your first summer at Indian Head sleep away camp.

Since 11 a.m. when the bus left, I have been wandering around in a bit of a fog.  Excedrin took away my stress headache, but there is still this weird feeling in my stomach which I know will stay for the entirety of the summer.  I am hoping that the feeling will ease up a bit once I know that you have made a friend and are happy.  That wont be for a few days; it's just crazy to be feeling like this.

For posterity, I want you to know that your sister cried the entire car ride home from the bus.  She was inconsolable - that you didn't hug her goodbye, that you said you weren't going to miss her and probably that she was having intense feelings and emotions a…


Hi Kids,

It's a blue sky, cloudless beautiful springtime Friday and I find myself daydreaming just a little bit this morning.

And I wanted to let you know that I still think about what I want to be when I grow up, even as you look at me and think I am completely grown up.

I think that maybe I would still like to try to be a doctor or a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner and that today I actually looked up a five year program and wondered about its feasibility.

It's really hard to rock the boat, particularly when your life seems idyllic for the most part.  So I wonder if any of this daydreaming will ever become a reality?

And if somehow it did, would I just begin to daydream about other things?  Like being a writer?  Or owning a small knitting store?  Or starting a better school lunch program?

The one job that I never dream about changing is being your mom.  Even when you are making me angry or sad or just plain crazy, I love the two of you fiercely.  

See you in about an hou…


Dear AveryIt is 1040 pm and your dad and I just came upstairs to go to bed. I flipped on the lights in our bedroom, went back into the hallway to talk to your dad and then walked fully into the bedroom.
There you were just sitting cross legged on our bed not looking at me and not saying anything. I jumped back, scared and surprised. When I picked you up you put your head on my shoulder. You didn't resist when I put you in bed. You just turned over and went to bed. Even when you are freaking me out you are warm and snuggly and sweet. Love


Dear Avery,

The title of this blog post is "Punim".  It is Yiddish for the word face.  I don't use too many Yiddish words in part because I do not know them, but in part because it makes me feel like a cultural Jew instead of an observant one, and I don't like that feeling.  (Just another insight into my crazy).

Punim, however is a word that I like to keep a part of my vocabulary.  Because it means so much more than face.  It is layered with meaning; it means 'beautiful face', 'the face I love' and it absolutely cannot be said without total and complete endearment.

Yes my love, you are my shana punim.  And for your sixth birthday, I would like to write in detail about that punim.  That not so beautiful right now, bruised and battered face.  From things like a 'rug burn' from the rubber surface at the playground and things like a bruised and swollen nose from falling face first on a stone floor while running around and dancing and things like litt…

Double Digit Defiance - The Ugly Side of Raising a Confident Kid

Dear Alex,

Sometimes these blog posts write themselves if you wait long enough.  There was one recent event that I had hoped to relay to you in your ten year old birthday letter from me - and I will get to it here - but in the meantime, several other events nearly identical in what they say about you as a ten year old have emerged.

If one of your dad's nicknames is Easily Excitable Eric, I think one of yours should be Overly Opinionated Alex (Absolutely Arrogant Alex has better alliteration, but is a bit too strong).  As you reach your pre-teen years, you have taken an approach in letting people know exactly where you stand, regardless of their position in life, regardless of whether that opinion might hurt someone's feelings.  You just have an opinion and come hell or high water, you are going to let everyone know.

Of course, my (typical) response to this type of behavior is to try and prove your opinion wrong.  To change what you think because it bothers me that you believe the…

Making me proud

When I think about what idyllic children should be, this is one of the images that floats into my head.

Alex reading to a clean, freshly showered and pajama-clad Avery before bed last night.

Simply heartwarming.

Korean Mikvah

I've been procrastinating writing this post. It has been mulling around in my head for the past two and half months, but still I have been struggling to put the proverbial pen to paper.  Maybe because there is an element of sacrilege to it.

I guess I'll start with the basics.  What is a mikvah?  If you want to learn a lot about it, you can check out this website: 
or you can just go to to read it described as a ritual bath to which Orthodox Jews are traditionally required to go on certain occassions, as before the sabbath and after each menstrual period, to cleanse and purify themselves.

Basically a deep pool like this one:

I think most modern Americans associate water and purity ceremonies with baptism, not Judaism, but here it is, the most observant among us go not once to 'join the club', but rather WEEKLY, before EVERY Shabbat to ensure purity of mind, body and soul.

Sure, I could have the time to do that myself, but t…

Growing boys and cute things that little girls say

Hi kids,

It has been too long since I have written to you.  Winter seems to be never ending this year, but I think we may be reaching the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

In just a few weeks, Alex will turn ten - double digits! and Avery is not far behind in turning six.

Alex you have been physically growing taller before our very eyes.  In the past month alone, you have grown another half inch and are now just a half inch shy of five feet.  I have also quipped to people lately that you are made out of hamburgers.  This is your favorite food and I indulge you in them to keep up with your never ending hunger.  In fact, this morning when I woke you up for school, you turned over, opened your eyes and said to me, "I am REALLY hungry."  It is a joy and wonder to watch you continue to grow and be healthy and happy.  And just so you remember yourself at this point in time, this video will remind you always of your amazing confidence and talent.

Alex rocks it at his first Sch…