Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tough Parenting in 2015

Wow.  I've been angry with my kids lately.  Alex for forgetting his homework assignments which has significantly lowered his grades and Avery for trying to be edgy and get a rise out of friends and family members for disrobing at inappropriate times.

I would like to live in a punishment free home, but then I would be raising little anarchists who are not smart enough to redeem their way into college and/or respect their own bodies.

Parenting stinks sometimes.

Here's to a happier home in 2016.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The more things change...

Dear Alex,

Yes, you know what comes next from the title of this post.  It's ....the more they stay the same.

On the scary negative side of that proverb, there's also "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it", but this is in no way a 'doomed' kind of post.  I just wanted to revisit a post from two years ago:

This is from October, 2013.  Two years ago.  And right now the two of you are at the library on a Sunday morning and then going to get some lunch downtown afterward.

Life is moving too fast.  You are only 11.  You are wanting to play 'grown-up' in this first autumn as middle schooler.  You love the freedom and autonomy that we have gifted to you.  Right now it's just sweet.  I really hope it stays that way.

I love you.

I love your confidence.

I love your spirit.

I love that you are uniquely you, no matter what others around you are doing.


Monday, June 15, 2015


Dear Alex,

I can't wait to take photos of you tonight.  It's your "class night" or what we called elementary school graduation when I was your age and you've already picked out your outfit.

Brooks Brothers flat front khakis, a pink oxford, a navy & gold striped tie and a Ralph Lauren sports jacket.

You may wear Nike Elite shorts and custom KD basketball sneakers on a day-to-day basis, but when you take the time to dress up it is effortless.  You could easily be a J Crew model.  You are a modern day prepster.

Perhaps it's your Connecticut bloodlines, perhaps it's just who you are, but when I see you dressed like this, I can glimpse into your future and know that you will rise above the masses.   You are a special person.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Good times, bad times you know I've had my share

It has been a weird week.  Alex has been misbehaving at school.  He's misunderstood - I'm not really angry with his behavior, more angry that he doesn't yet know how to work the system and be smart enough to know what people need.  In addition, we've been all sorts of busy with activities and work and life.  And I am just so exhausted by it all.  As sad and tired as I've been feeling, when I stop to reflect I think:

  • If I didn't have these down times in my life, how would I ever appreciate the good?  And there is A LOT of good in this life, I know it.  I am beyond fortunate.
  • And even these down times can't nearly compare to the hardship and sickness that friends and relatives have endured.  Again, beyond fortunate.
  • And even in the bad times, my life is filled with great love.

So I can let the exhaustion wash over me.  It's good to appreciate what I have. It's good to be tired and have to stop all the running.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy to be a work in progress, a tribute to my mother.

Today is mother's day.  I called my mom this morning to wish her well and in the midst of our conversation, I realized that all that I love about myself as a mother I patterned after what I learned from my own mom.  All that I am not as pleased about, all my crazy, that's all me (and all my mom's crazy, that's all her).

Today is mother's day.  I have done three loads of laundry, shopped at two supermarkets, cleaned up from my breakfast in bed and from the spice rub for this afternoon's barbecue that left a mess on the counter.  This is the unsung work of mothers.  We who work full time, but also manage to schedule play dates and orthodontist appointments and to get the camp medical forms in on time.  We who regularly make sure our children are clean and fed and smiling.  And while unsung may sound like under-appreciated and it certainly feels like that in the worst of moments, it's not really that way.  The thank yous may not occur after each and every act, but the love that I know my children feel for me and that I know they too will take the best of me (and my mom) when they become parents themselves, in the end, it is enough.

Today is mother's day. Happy mothers day to all the inspiring moms whom I know.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My beautiful, confident, happy and smiling seven year old - I must be doing something right!

Dear Avery,

Today you are seven years old and what is really unbelievable to me is that sometimes you act just like you are seventeen years and other times it's more like you are seven months.  Then again, I am not exactly sure what seven is supposed to be.  But in any case, I am glad that you both have the desire to grow up and can still act like my tiny, snuggly baby girl sometimes.

Last year when you turned six, I wrote about your determination to play with your friends, your intense joie de vivre.  That intensity remains core to who you are, it will be something that makes you stand out wherever you go in life.

This year I wanted to spend some time writing about the minutia of that intensity; how it manifests to be what I already know makes you truly amazing.  But let me preface those thoughts with this - I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a person successful and how it isn't defined by academic success (or later in life, financial success), but rather with the pure ability to just be happy.  To be absolutely corny, Avery my sweetheart, they should put your picture next to the word successful in the dictionary.

I wanted to start by talking about your perfect cartwheel.  This might seem strange, however it's the source of the perfection that I find to be absolutely Avery.  You see, it took you a long time to perfect your cartwheel, it wasn't something that came naturally to you.  But that didn't stop you.  You practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  You weren't embarrassed or frustrated, you just kept at it until you were really good.  I can't help but admire your intensity manifesting itself as dogged determination.  Although I linked success ultimately to happiness, I do not worry about your academic/career/financial success because of this determination.

And this determination is not limited to cartwheels.  You also tried ice skating this winter; it's currently your most favorite activity.  And while the first day you kept falling down on the ice, you kept getting back up and now you can do all sorts of moves and twirls and spins.  When I watch you on the ice, I can feel your aura of happiness beaming at me through the rink window.  What a joy it is to watch you.

Let's hope that in the next year you use this intensity and determination to conquer your current dislike and disdain for mathematics.

Beyond the intensity, there is the effortless.
I don't want you to think that you start everything new from ground zero and that you have no natural talents.  Quite the opposite, but even for those things that come naturally, you still work hard to achieve.  This work ethic sure didn't come from your mama, but I am so proud of you for having it.  

Let's start with drawing and other fine arts.  You have always been a visual girl, drawn to color and beauty and art and a unique fashion-sense.  But beyond looking at the physical world, you have been known to try and recreate it on paper.  You love to draw pictures of flowers and people and animals and anything else you see that catches your fancy.  Where the talent comes in is you are different from other children, you are not formulaic in your approach to coloring and drawing, you try your best and do a darn good job of recreating the world around you.  Are you perfect yet?  No.  And are you content with this natural ability, as is?  No.  You recognize that you are not yet able to represent exactly what you envision.  And you try harder - that amazing determination - to do even more, be even better.

Beautiful inside and out.
I shouldn't write this.  I have read more articles about how it's important not to tell your daughter that she is beautiful, but rather that she is smart or kind.  But I can't help myself.  Your smile and your beauty light up a room (and your anger and sadness can bring on a metaphorical thunderstorm).

I love your love of all living creatures from worms & bugs to dogs & cats. You take care of them and they respond to your kindness.  You have the longest living hermit crab on record.  (Just don't forget that Sleepy needs food and water even if she can't ask you for it.)  And while I hope one day you will have a dog or cat or horse to call your own, I am glad in the meantime that you get to interact with so many of our neighborhood pets (Stella and Stevie, I'm talking about you!)

You are a tomboy and a girly girl.  You express great joy and happiness when you get to be outside riding a bike or playing on the playground.  You are a good friend.  You are thankful for all you have.

I expect another wonderful year of growth and greatness from you, my darling shana.

Happy 7th birthday!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The twin towers or Alex turns 11

Dear Alex,

Today you are eleven years old.  Today I am eleven years a mother.  Today we are eleven years a family.  I don't know if I've ever thanked you for it, but I should because being a mother is the thing that I love most.  It's the best thing I've ever gotten to do.

A rough hewn block of stone
But enough about me, this is supposed to be about you.  About the person that you continue to become.  The famous sculptor, Michelangelo (of David statue fame) said "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."  I think about this a lot when I think of who you are becoming, because every part of who you will be is already inside of you.  With each pass of the sculptor's tools what I already know about you becomes just a bit more defined.

Empathy and kindness
Ever since you have been little you have questioned me "What's my talent?"  You want to know the physical things like are you an academic or an athlete or an artist.  Those my son, are just skills.  It is the intangible that makes you so remarkable, so talented.  And nearly everyday of your life I have had the privilege of seeing these true talents shine through.  Your empathy, your kindness; these talents which are inextricable with your very being are the ones that I know will ensure your success and happiness in life.  It is not the 4.0 student, the state championship athlete, nor the Broadway child star that ensures success, but the kid who knows how to smile and how to bring a smile to his friends' faces even when they are faced with sadnesses both large and small.

And indeed there has been large sadness for your friends and their families this year.  I only wish that I didn't have to know that you can be a comfort to your friends.  It is tragic to suffer the loss of a parent at any age, but none of you should know this so young.

Passion and perseverance
It is hard to continue to write after referencing such sadness as almost anything I write after would be trivial, but I do not want to end this celebration of your turning eleven like this.  So I continue to write.  I will write about your passion and your perseverance and how I have watched you grow as an academic and an athlete and an artist in the past year (See how I did that, I said that those skills didn't really matter, but it kind of makes me happy to see you succeed in these too!).  I'll go into your successes in each, but don't minimize the importance of those two words passion and perseverance.  Those are not learned, kiddo, and you are VERY lucky to have them at your disposal, they will also contribute to your success in life.

Put these on your curriculum vitae
The three As: academics, athletics and artistry.  They make for a very well rounded young man. 

From an academic standpoint, in the past year I have watched you tackle the things that are hardest for you, like getting the amazing stories and thoughts that are in your head down onto paper.  Like turn the 'handwriting of a murderer' into legible penmanship.  Like figuring out strategies for new concepts in math or new spelling patterns that have landed you just this past week in the top spelling group for the very first time.  Bravo!  And all while keeping your class clown sense of humor in tact.

From an athletic standpoint, your basketball skills have grown tremendously.  You were part of a winning, undefeated 12U travel basketball team (hopefully, that wont read like gibberish when you are looking back at this years from now).  You tried out for the team, you made the team, you contributed to the success of the team.  And while I am quite sure that you will neither play NBA or NCAA basketball, you will forever have a comfort on the court and even when you are as old as your dad I know that you will be playing pickup hoop with your other old dad friends.

From an artist standpoint, you have the voice of an angel kiddo.  If you feel confident in your abilities here, you should.  I love getting to watch you sing and develop your stage presence at the School of Rock. I can't wait to hear you in your latest endeavor being a part of a Foo Fighters cover band.  I love hearing you stretch your skills to listen for harmonies and sing them in tune, effectively.  This is your happy place, your safe place.  Continue to nurture it.

I don't know where to fit this last paragraph because I've been writing all about serious stuff, but I want you to remember one of our conversations that we had recently in which you said that when you get a girlfriend you would be cool if she looked like me and could do what I do, but maybe it would be better if she had a different personality.  Thanks for saying that you think I'm pretty and smart even if I do drive you crazy sometimes.

So that's it goofball.  Let's see what this officially a pre-teen year to come brings.

I love you with all my heart,