The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, October 31, 2005

Splish, splash, no one's taking a bath

I've never been a fan of the "I'm a Bad Mommy" routine. If you think enough about parenting to recognize the occasions where you've screwed up, you're not a bad parent. Period.

That said, if there was a "Bad Mommy (Who's Really a Good Mommy)" award and if in a fit of impetuousness I decided to enter myself in the running for it, do you think the fact that my son's hand is still sporting the ink hand stamp his Music Together teacher placed there three days ago would ensure me a win?

Friday, October 28, 2005

A recipe for disaster

It is admittedly the area where I have most screwed up this parenting thing. And yet, I'm not exactly sure where I went wrong.

I started out with such high hopes and lofty goals. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months. Organic fruits and veggies after that. Fruit with every breakfast. A fruit or veggie with every lunch. Veggies with every dinner. A wide variety of tasty, healthy entrees. No juice, no fast food, no empty calories and very little sugar. Dessert as a special treat rather than a matter of course. Both of my kids ate beautifully, enjoying a wide range of healthy -- albeit often microwaved or prepackaged for my convenience -- foods. At first.

Looking back now, I can see the tumble in slow motion, like one of those childhood injuries you watch in horror but are powerless to stop. One by one, we "lost" foods as my children got pickier and refused their old favorites. I knew the "offer each food at least 10 times" adage and tried halfheartedly to follow it, but I got tired of throwing away good food day after day after day after day. To complicate matters, as much as I believe in the importance of a family meal, it's a logistical impossibility in our household. Making elaborate meals that my children refused to eat was even more frustrating than having to throw away untouched frozen green beans. I couldn't bring myself to slave over food that I knew they wouldn't even sample. Pretty soon, it started to feel silly to even nuke a veggie burger that I know they wouldn't touch. I got lazier and lazier. They got pickier and pickier. And pickier.

And pickier.

My pediatrician keeps assuring me that my children are healthy and growing and that I shouldn't worry so much about their diets. "Most kids this age are picky," she tells me again and again. "At least what your kids do eat is healthy." She's right, I suppose. But she's not the one who has to serve up the same meals 7 days a week. For breakfast, there are still some options. Frozen pancakes, waffles and french toast (prepackaged, yes -- my kids won't eat the homemade versions for some strange reason -- but all nutrigrain, high fiber versions with no syrup or butter) all make my kids happy. Evan will also eat cereal. Some fruit -- they love all kinds -- to round things out. Lunch isn't so bad, either. PB&J or grilled cheese or yogurt, all accompanied by fruit again, put some level of variety into their diets. But dinner? I spend all day dreading dinner.

Both children refuse to let a bite of anything not on their "approved foods" lists come within 15 feet of their mouths. For Julia, the approved options are pizza or turkey hot dogs or a retread of lunch. She'll eat peas or corn as an accompanying vegetable. That's it. Evan loves pizza and the lunch options, too, but refuses the hot dogs. He'll eat raviolis, mac and cheese (Annie's organic... can you hear the desperation in my voice here?), and occasionally some chicken. Lasagna, quiche and other "grownup" leftovers used to find favor with him, but lately just get tossed on the floor. At least his veggie repertoire also includes carrots, squash and zucchini. And then, that's it for him, too. Two options for Julia (4 if you include yogurt or grilled cheese again). Four for Evan. And as likely as not, they're going to refuse to eat more than 3 bites of whatever I serve unless it's pizza.

I have friends with children who are good eaters, and it's a delight to serve their kids meals. "More, please," they beg as they gulp down serving after serving. That just aint happening here. Every night, my children whine and beg for pizza. If I give in and yank out another Boboli or bag of Trader Joe's crust dough and some sauce and cheese, they eat happily and I watch them silently, my guilt over my feeding failure filling my belly far as the pizza fills theirs. If I insist they eat something else, they whine and cry and pick at their meals if they touch them at all. Again, my belly is full, this time with frustration and anger and yet more guilt. And this time, theirs are empty.

Before I had children, back when I was still naive and foolish enough to be judgmental of other parents, I used to be terribly disdainful of the fact that my nephew ate only buttered noodles. I have offered up many the mea culpa to my sister in law over the past few years for my ignorance and lack of understanding. She routinely points to her 12 year old when we have these conversations. "She eats anything now and eventually your kids will outgrow their food issues, too," she tells me (the 7 year old is still eating those noodles). I'm grateful that she doesn't hold my pre-parenthood judgments against me and I appreciate her reassurance. But if I have to slap pizza and a smile on the table every night for the next 8 years while I wait for my kids to outgrow this phase, I'm going to go smack out of my gourd. I know that they feel my frustration. I know that this is a power struggle. And as I am painfully reminded every night as the sky darkens and I am forced to think about dinner again, my kids are winning that struggle hands down.

There must be a better way. But I can't seem to find it in the aisles of my local grocery store. What am I missing?

Thursday, October 27, 2005


One of the reasons that I chose the dance school where Julia takes ballet was the fact that they don't do recitals. I was not interested in $50 costumes and $20 tickets and makeup and a stage and the whole host of activities and emotions and emotions associated with such a production -- especially not for the 3 year old set. I just wanted her to have fun and maybe even learn to dance. That's what this school offers, so they got my money and my kid. Recognizing that parents do like to see their children develop new skills, however, Julia's dance school does invite parents to attend the last class of each 8-week session to see what the children have learned (and presumably to decide whether to fork over the check for the next session). Today was the big day.

It was like a scene out of the 50s with the old fashioned studio and the grande dame teacher instructing her charges with the help of her record collection (no CDs for the Yvette Dance Studio). Only the technology in the hands of the audience sitting on the folding chairs in the corner gave us away as members of the 21st century. Twelve little girls scampered around in little pink tutus as 12 video cameras recorded their every move. Mothers and fathers smiled and applauded as the girls giggled their way through a 45 minute lesson. It was truly adorable. The kids were clearly having fun. The teacher clearly had them all in the palm of her hand. And by the end, she had us, too. Every single parent signed their kid up for the next session on the way out the door.

Almost everyone left with a warm fuzzy feeling and lots of adorable pictures of their budding ballerinas. And me? I left with several dozen pictures of my daughter in a pink tutu with her finger up her nose. I said that I was looking for an authentic 3 year old dance class experience. And today, I think I got it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

For what I'm worth

I spent the morning in a meeting at Julia's school about preschool options for the coming year. Based on increased demand and the fact that their current system is an administrative nightmare, the administration has proposed a new schedule for next year that includes longer school days and far less flexibility. Under the proposed plan, instead of the current 2 1/2 hour school day with optional afternoon enrichment activities, the Pre-K program for next year will run from 9-2:45 -- nearly 6 hours long. A single class running from 11:45 - 2:45 will be offered for families uninterested in the longer days, but it was immediately clear that this class would be the forgotten stepchild as the teachers waxed eloquent about all that they could do with the longer day and then added a hasty "and we'll fit it all in somehow for the 3 hour class" at the end.

The school's enrollment has tripled in the past 6 years, so I'm not surprised that they're facing growing pains. I can appreciate why their system is no longer working for them and I can sympathize with the challenges of trying to keep 160 families happy as they try to streamline their offerings. While I hate nearly everything about the proposed changes, I am not self centered enough to believe that they can't work for the school simply because they don't work for me. I've voiced my concerns and my suggestions and now I will sit back and wait to see the final decisions. If they don't meet my needs, I can always look elsewhere.

What I can't wrap my arms around, however, is how differently a large portion of the parents in this morning's meeting seemed to feel. To be sure, there were a sizeable number of us opposed to the changes. But there seemed to be a nearly equal number of parents who felt that more was better -- that there was no reason to send a 4 year old to school for 3 hours if she could go for 6, no reason to keep her home a few afternoons a week if she could be at school instead. "Your child's a full year younger now," they told me. "Believe us, you'll want more for her next fall. She'll need it."

Need seems like a strong word to me. I can pretty much guarantee that my child will not need 6 hours a day in a school setting at the age of 4, particularly not when the following year, she'll attend our public school system's half day kindergarten for a mere 2 1/2 hours a day. Would she enjoy the stimulation? Probably. But is it necessary? In my opinion, absolutely not. It would leave no time for swimming lessons or dance or any type of learning or enrichment that might happen outside of the school setting. It would need no time for playdates that extend the friendships she's made in school or ones that enable her to stay connected with kids who attend different preschools. And most importantly, it would leave very little time for her to just be here at home, playing with her brother or reading with me or working on an art project or building a castle or simply hanging out and watching television on the couch.

Part of my issue, I suppose, is that Julia is my oldest child and I still have another little one at home to entertain. When Julia's home, my kids play together, so the prospect of losing that built in playmate for Evan next year is not all that appealing. But my real problem stems from the fact that I'm home in the first place. I'm home with my kids because I see value in my involvement in their days at this point. Yes, I am simply a chauffeur more and more often these days as I drive Julia to school or dance or a playdate. But I still spend time one-on-one with her every day, playing a game or reading books or doing an art project. And when I'm not interacting with her, my presence in the house enables her to be here, too. I don't think she needs stimulation -- the kind I provide or the kind she gets at school -- for all of those hours every day. Because I'm home, Julia can relax at home and enjoy downtime in a comfortable environment where she can imagine and play and dream. And I think that's damn important, maybe even more important than all of the chauffeuring and interaction I provide.

If Julia's gone from this house for 6 hours every day, my value starts to diminish, so maybe a lot more of this than I'd like to admit is about me and my own sense of self worth. But at that point, she might as well be in a daycare center 8 hours a day while I work. It's not a bad alternative, really. She'd thrive there every bit as certainly as she'd thrive in her current school and I could wear dry clean only clothing and talk to grownups again and get off the carpool circuit. But that's not what I want at this point, not for myself and certainly not for her. When I do choose to return to the workforce, it's going to be because I think I'm more valuable there than at home. And I simply don't think that time has come yet.

Over programmed preschoolers run rampant in this town, where parents have the money to enroll their kids in every activity their hearts desire. I know 3 year olds who do 4 or 5 extracurricular activities on top of preschool, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that there are so many parents who seem to want to send their 4 year olds to preschool for 6 hours a day. But when I made the decision to stay home with my children, I was assigning a certain amount of value to my daily presence in their lives. As I listened to all of these parents beg for more school for their kids today, I couldn't help but think that they must not share my opinion of their value. I wondered what all of these stay at home mothers were going to do while their preschoolers were gone for 6 hours a day. And I wondered why I seemed to think that the time my child spends at home with me was worth so much more than they did.

At the end of the day, there are many, many ways to raise a child. Kids thrive with stay at home parents and with nannies and in home care programs and in big day care centers. I wouldn't presume to tell any other parent how to raise their kids or how to fill their days. But I'm also not going to let anyone else tell me what's best for my family. I sincerely hope this will all work itself out, but if Julia's school doesn't end up scaling back its proposed schedule for next year, I'm going to stick to my guns and send her and Evan elsewhere. I hope that in the long run, my kids will thank me for it. And I hope that I won't feel too jealous of all of those Mommies with all that free time next fall as I find ways to fill our days together, as a family.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Playing, hard to get

As a baby, he would reach for whatever toy she was holding, anxious to get into the circle of her attention. "Take turns," we told him. But he didn't want his own turn. He just wanted to be a part of hers.

As they grew into the toddler stage, he would wrap his arms so tightly around her that he would literally sweep her off her feet. She would cry, confused by the attention and annoyed by the lack of personal space. "Julia is not for touching," we would tell him. "Hug a grownup instead." He did as he was told, but you could see in his eye that it was Julia he'd wanted all along, not the hug.

At 2, their playdates always ended in disaster. The expectations were always high. But he was just too excited, too exuberant, too full of love. She was just too quiet, too individual, too uninterested. "We'll try again another day," we told them time and again.

At 3, they finally began to find common ground. There were endless games of doctor ("shirts DOWN, please, you two!"), countless romps in the backyard or the park, elaborate imaginary games. "C is my best, best friend," Julia finally began to say. He glowed in her attention, content to follow her around and happy to let her run the show. "They're finally finding their way," we said happily. But it was still Julia who ended the hugs first and brushed off his repeated attempts to hold hands.

"Julia, will you live with me?" C asked her yesterday during a playdate. "I just love you so much." Julia didn't return his declaration of love, nor did she agree to shack up with him. Instead, she demanded that he color with her immediately. And while he agreed, a little bit of the fire went out of his eyes. "I'm very disappointed that you said no so much today," he told her at the end of the playdate. She just shrugged and gave him a hug goodbye. And the poor kid couldn't help but hug back.

Someday, C is going to move on to greener pastures and cast his lot with a girl who reciprocates his love with an equal fervor. And I can nearly guarantee that when this happens, that will be the day that Julia will finally fall head over heels in love with him. As an anguished teenager watching her love from afar, she will bristle when we recount again and again the story of how she turned down her very first proposition just months before her 4th birthday. She will look at this old picture and others like it and she will cry. And mean adults that we are, we will probably laugh.

You missed out, foolish girl. I've gotta say, I'm awfully glad that you won't be moving out to live with someone just yet, no matter how cute you two are together. But when the time comes, I hope that you'll find someone who is every bit as devoted to you as C has been. That kind of love doesn't come along every day.

Monday, October 24, 2005

'Tis The Season

Today alone, I found in my mailbox:

2 copies of the Back To Basic Toys catalogue (In case the first one so blew me away that I wanted to share one with a friend, perhaps?)

The MindWare catalogue (This one advertises "brainy toys for kids of all ages" even though one can only hope that it is the kids, not the toys, in possession of the brains.)

The American Girl catalogue (OK, she's American and she's a girl, but she aint ever going to own a hundred dollar doll if I can help it.)

The DWRjax catalogue ($279 7.4 lb. wooden bicycle, anyone?)

The Levenger catalogue (None of the serious readers they're targeting with this one will have any money left for books once they've purchased all of this crap.)

The Eddie Bauer Holiday Collection catalogue (All the velveteen blazers that this season demands, all in one glossy book.)

I must have "conspicuous consumer" written all over my credit report, because I could build temporary structures for the world's homeless with the pile of catalogues that I've received over the past month. These marketers clearly have my number, as evidenced by the content of the catalogues I'm receiving. But all I really want for Christmas is a bin big enough to hold all of these things until recycling day. Send me a catalogue with one of those in it, and you've got yourself a sale.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Just between you, me and the entire Internet, I'm not such a nice person

My alma matter sent out an email with Homecoming information yesterday, which was my reminder to make an annual visit to the alumnae information site and scope out what all of my old classmates are up to. Nothing unexpected -- the usual marriages, births, promotions and moves to what presumably are more prestigious zip codes. Nice to see everyone's doing well, but frankly, the info they provide on their profiles is more than enough to keep my curiosity assuaged. I felt no compelling need to email anyone to catch up in more depth, nor to make a pilgrimage up to central New York for lots of Orangeman frenzy and football hoopla and false gaiety.

Only one alumni profile caught my eye and merited more than a second's thought this time around. The man who I thought for quite some time was the love of my life (this obviously years before the true love of my life came along) apparently had a baby girl this year, his first. And he not only gave her a name I hate, he gave her a porn star name. Say what you will about the popularity of the name Julia, but at least the first mental image that comes to mind when you hear my daughter's name isn't tassels and a lap dance.

I can't even begin to tell you the amount of snarky superiority I felt when I saw that profile entry. I've been giggling ever since. And now you know the awful truth about me. Not only did I once date guys whose taste was apparently even worse than my own, but I remain a total bitch about them to this day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sex and politics, all in one post

I was absentmindedly singing along with the radio the other day as I drove home from picking up Julia at preschool. It was an old song that I hadn't heard in many years, and despite the fact that it's as insipid now as it was when it was released, it made me smile to hear it because of the memories it brought back. It was an old George Michael song and the chorus was the kind that inspires you to sing loud:

Sex is natural
Sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody sh....


I suddenly realized what I was singing and abruptly turned the radio off. While I do wholeheartedly believe that sex is natural and good, I had no desire to explain to the nearly 4 year old and the 1 1/2 year old listening attentively in the back seat why not everybody does it, nor did I care to debate whether or not everybody should. "That radio station has no business playing an explicit song like that in the middle of the day," I thought angrily as I hurriedly asked Julia a question about school before she had a chance to ask me about the lyrics I'd just been singing. "They shouldn't be allowed to do that."

A few hours later, when I'd had a chance to think about the situation, I was still horrified, but now it was at myself rather than the radio station. I knew that becoming a parent had changed me in ways I never expected, but surely it hadn't altered my politics so completely that I now believed in censorship, had it?

When I really thought it through, I was relieved to realize that despite my knee jerk reaction, I hadn't completely lost my belief system somewhere in the process of raising my kids. While I wish I'd thought to switch the song off sooner, I still don't believe it was anyone's responsibility other than my own to do so. I'm perfectly capable of turning the radio off if I find the content being broadcast to be inappropriate for my children, just as I can limit their television viewing to appropriate programs and themes. I don't actually want anyone to say that a radio station can't play a song with sexually explicit lyrics, and I still believe that to do so would be constitutionally and morally wrong. Phew. I'm still me.

I had two close calls in one day with this one. I came dangerously close to a very premature discussion about sex with my kids, and I came even closer to finding myself a conservative. Draw your own conclusions about which one bothered me more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Scenery and blue sky

When we were younger, my mother used to say that my brother was going to change the world and I was going to write about it. I don't think she actually meant the statement to be unflattering about me and my limited role in serving society, though it could perhaps be taken that way. Instead, she was just observing the fundamental differences in our personalities and skill sets, as well as the fact that together, we made a good team.

I was thinking about this phenomenon of siblings with different, yet complementary traits this morning while Evan and I were working on puzzles together. He can do every wooden peg puzzle in our house in a minute flat these days, so I had pulled out a next stage puzzle from Julia's old collection -- a 13-piece fire truck that fits into a wooden frame. None of the pieces have handles on them, and the board they fit into has no drawings on it to help guide where the pieces go, making it a pretty big step up from the "dog in the dog hole" puzzles he's loved so much lately. I wasn't quite sure if he was ready for it yet, but I knew I was sick and tired of the old ones, so it seemed worth a try.

I remembered that Julia had found this puzzle pretty challenging when she first got it, until she studied the picture and realized that she could assemble the puzzle based on her mental image of the truck. That's the way she's always done puzzles; based solely on the pictures. A good year and a half after she mastered jigsaw puzzles, she still cannot identify a corner piece or an edge piece, despite the fact that I've explained the concept a gazillion times. She assembles puzzles from the inside out, one small part of the picture at a time. It's an odd technique -- and it will be useless to her when she gets to the 1,000 pieces of blue sky-type puzzles -- but for now, it works for her and we've just gotten used to it.

Evan seemed less challenged by the fire truck puzzle than Julia had been, and after a few seconds of watching him, I realized why. He was putting the thing together based solely on the shape of the pieces. When he got stuck at one point and I tried to help him by suggesting that he find the piece with a tire on it, he looked at me blankly. But when I ran my finger around the rounded edge of the puzzle frame and asked him if he could find a piece that was shaped to fit there, he reached immediately for the tire. And I suddenly realized that Julia will never even have to learn to assemble the sky pieces, because that's always going to be Evan's job.

I've said a million times that my kids' personalities couldn't be more different, but I continue to be surprised and pleased by how complementary their interests and skill sets are turning out to be. They balance each other out nicely just by being in a room together; Evan's gregarious nature pushes Julia to speak up in order to claim her share of the attention, and her endless discussions about things teach him more than he'd go looking to learn on his own accord. They seem so oppostite, yet they're phenomenally well matched. And as I realized today, if they're smart enough to recognize this and work together, they're going to be an unstoppable force -- and not just when it comes to jigsaw puzzles.

Given the fact that Dan's efforts to save the world are mainly limited to writing checks to worthwhile causes these days and my efforts to tell the world about it are limited by my measly little blog audience, there's probably little point in making the kind of broad sweeping generalizations my mom used to make. But I can't help thinking that a scenery person and a blue sky person will make a damn good team in life. And I hope my kids will see it that way, too.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Note to Evan

I know that you find it endlessly fascinating to hear dogs bark. Comment incessantly on dogs and the noises they make if you must... as your attentive, supportive mother, I will be there to croon "yes, a dog says woof" 3 gazillion times if need be. But developing a barking cough that lands us in a steam filled bathroom in the middle of the night while you struggle to get a breath? That's taking the dog obsession a bit too far, my croupy son.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Enough with the Jewish stuff already, I know, but this was too good not to share

"How many of you feel God in your daily lives," the rabbi asked the assembled congregation of preschoolers and their parents at Tot Shabbat this morning. Not one person, parent or child, responded. "Raise your hand if you feel God sometimes," she encouraged. I was thinking how notable it was that the adults' hands were all firmly clenched at their sides when I suddenly saw two hands snake into the air. Julia and her friend Abbey, who were seated together in the row in front of me, had both raised their hands. They were the only ones in the room to do so.

The rabbi glowed with pleasure as she walked over to the girls. "When do you feel God," she asked Abbey. "There's no way she's going to be able to answer this," her mother hissed in my ear, but Abbey spoke up clearly and confidently. "At night," she replied. "What a wonderful time to feel God," the rabbi encouraged her. Then she turned to Julia. "Did you have your hand up, too?" Julia nodded. "When do you feel God," the rabbi asked. "In the morning," Julia predictably replied. Everybody beamed... the adults at the sweet little curly haired girls in the front row who apparently felt the presence of a higher power in their lives on a regular basis, the rabbi who now had the perfect lead-in for a discussion about how God is always with us, and the girls who knew they'd done well with their answers. Only Abbey's mother and I missed out on the joy, so busy were we looking quizzically at each other and wondering where in the world those answers had come from.

"Well, I suppose she hears the word 'God' a good half dozen times on an average morning -- maybe a dozen or more if we're running really late or I spill something," I muttered under my breath. And just in time, as our daughters turned around to see our approval, we were smiling too.

Friday, October 14, 2005

It's a miracle she puts up with me

"So I'm thinking we might take the t-o-y c-r-a-d-d-l-e off of the holiday list this year, since I don't know where in the world we'd fit it."

"Uh, there's only one d in cradle."


"I really am kind of a Grammar Bitch, huh?"

"You could say that."

"At least now I have something to blog about tomorrow."

"I'm happy to be your fodder."

Talk about a true friend...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Yom Kippur question

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of repentance. It's a day to ask the big questions. Have I been a good person over the past year? How can I improve in the year to come? Over the past few years, however, only one particular question has plagued me as I've prepared for this, the holiest of holy days:

Are my stockings supposed to be black or nude this year?

It is certainly a burning question, but whether it is a big one depends, I suppose, on your perspective. I only know that I was feeling pretty guilty yesterday as I approached the eve of Yom Kippur with only this single thought in my mind. I knew I was supposed to be taking stock, pondering whether I've really done my very best for myself and my family this year. And instead, I was entirely preoccupied with fashion.

Upon reflection, however, I decided that the question that plagued me might just be the answer to the bigger question after all. I don't know what color stockings all of the "in" people are wearing any more, but now I know that Julia's favorite color is yellow and Evan's is blue and I use those colors to finger paint with them. I don't have a wardrobe full of designer outfits to wear to services any more, but my jeans are well worn from sitting on the floor putting together puzzles with my kids. My connection to my faith is obviously tenuous these days if all I can think about on Yom Kippur is stockings, but I've given my children enough of a foundation in Judaism that they are leading me back to the flock with their requests to go to Tot Shabbat and their reminders to light the candles on Friday nights. Even my vain wardrobe musings aren't the worst thing in the world if I take them as a sign that I'm finally making some sort of attempt to think about myself above and beyond my role as Mommy.

I've got plenty of minor misdeeds to repent for this year and quite a few things I would do well to work on in the coming year. My patience could use some strengthening, my discipline techniques would benefit from some retooling and lord knows I ought to think a little more before I speak. But I'm on the right track toward doing my best for myself and my family. I know that as surely as I don't know what to wear to services. And as I realized this, the answer to my more burning question appeared as well, as if by divine intervention:

Wear pants to temple and bypass the stocking issue entirely.

With this, I finally found peace -- albeit the temporary kind -- with myself, with the path my life is on, and with my annual stocking question. And I knew with utter certainty that God works in ways that are not only mysterious, but at times a little eclectic as well. I think I like his style.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The weary travelers return

I've always said that if you approach things like air travel with two small children expecting the worst, things can only be better than you anticipated. This time, the trip met our expectations.

On the way to Arizona, Julia suddenly complained of feeling ill and then her eyes rolled back into her head and shut and every bit of color drained from her body. For the record, 32,000 feet is not the best place to have a medical emergency. The cause of her sudden malaise was unclear, but some attention and extra beverages from the flight attendants eventually brought her around. By the time we landed, she was quite chipper again. I was still having heart palpitations at the mental image of holding my child's pale and motionless body in my arms, however. Still am, truth be told.

On the way home, our flight was delayed for 3 hours and our children used up every bit of their "play quietly with airplane toys" quotient before we ever even left the ground. In the air, they both demonstrated a shocking inability to behave in public places. Julia whined all the way home. Evan screamed and arched his back and flailed like an epileptic in the midst of a seizure. No one slept. No one played quietly. And none of the passengers who unconvincingly admired them did a very good job of masking their true horror as they inched away from us toward the exit rows.

On the up side, the actual time we spent in Arizona was surprisingly delightful. The kids had a ball and frankly, so did we. A good time and plenty of soy milk was had by all. And now we are home, and as Paul pointed out as we finally tucked our children into bed at 11:00 last night, we will never have to fly with a 20 month old again. Amen to that.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


"How can it be Rosh Hashanah," Julia asked me yesterday as we were driving up to my parents' house to celebrate the holiday. "That's supposed to be the holiday to celebrate the new year, and it's nowhere near January 1st yet." For the record, "because the rabbis say so" turned out to be a good twist on the old "because I say so" standby. It left me feeling equally guilty that I hadn't really answered her question, but it shut her up nicely. I guess the rabbis hold more weight than Mommy. I may have to trot them out more often.

We brought Julia to the family service yesterday afternoon and she took the rabbi's sermon about resolving to become a better person quite seriously. She was anxious to come up with her own resolutions, and my suggestion (be nicer to your brother, share your toys and other silly "mom" ideas) were dismissed outright in favor of her own list. In no particular order, here's what she resolves to do in the coming year:

  • Paint more pictures
  • Watch more television
  • Go to lots of birthday parties
  • Replace the batteries in toys that stop working

On the up side, I imagine she has a better shot at keeping her resolutions than most folks do...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And on Rosh Hashanah, no less!

My children have been happily playing together, assembling puzzles and discussing the process, for well over 15 minutes now. They are both engaged, entertained and quiet. I am drinking my coffee in peace and checking my email, and I have not had to intervene once.

There is a God.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A ministones milestone

The actual one year anniversary of this blog came and went a few weeks ago without me noticing. I was far too caught up in the day's household drama to be thinking about such things.

In a fortuitous twist, I get a second chance to celebrate my accomplishment today. No one has ever been able to satisfactorily explain to me why the Hebrew calendar doesn't follow the secular calendar, nor why it seems to move around so much each year. It's always seemed like an elaborate joke the rabbis play on us each year ("Hmmm... how about Chanukah in November? That'll sure throw 'em!" "Sounds great. And let's put Passover at the same time as Easter and see how those interfaith heathens handle the hot cross buns!"), but this year they've done me a favor. Tonight, the holiday of Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish new year -- begins, and since I started this blog as a new year's resolution last Rosh Hashanah, that certainly makes today an anniversary. (Have you ever noticed how Jews can explain away absolutely anything?)

I've never actually kept a new year's resolution before, and truth be told, I didn't really expect too much to come of this one. I was sure I'd only have a month's worth of entries at best before I ran out of things to talk about. I guess I sort of underestimated the amount of fodder two small kids can provide. The ramp up was slow at first -- a few tentative entries here and there, a couple of memories stored here for safekeeping. Then I guess I just kind of got on a roll and after that, it was anything goes around here. I rediscovered how much I love to write and I found in blogging an outlet for my frustrations and my joys far more personally satisfying than bitching in playgroup or bragging at the playground. Sometimes I've learned things along the way, other times I've simply recorded my thoughts and experiences. Writing all of those things down would have been worth it for the sake of the writing itself, but the memories I'm left with make this blog even more valuable than I could have anticipated.

There are well over 200 entries in this blog right now, every one of them a concrete memory from the past year. Some of them, I'd rather forget, others I'm sure I'd remember with or without this blog. But I know that this stage of my life will always stay sharp in my mind thanks to the memories I've stored here.

A lot has happened in a year -- Julia and Evan are a year older and along the way, I've been witness to first steps and first teeth, potty training failure and success , paci weaning failure and success, traditional weaning (no failure there, though the success was bittersweet), rites of passage and more than my share of tantrums. My kids have learned some stuff, I've learned some stuff and we've all learned that we still have a lot left to learn. I've made some great unexpected friends through blogging and, even more unexpected, I've gotten a little closer to some of the people who matter the most to me.

I don't know when or how I'll share this blog with my kids, but someday, I know they'll be reading this. I hope that it will show them a side of me that they might not know, as well as a side of themselves that they'd otherwise have forgotten. Maybe, if they find themselves writing the kind of revisionist history my brother and I seem to have now, it will even resolve a few disagreements over what really happened. No matter what, I trust that when they read this, they will know that they were loved and cherished, not in some silly fairy tale way, but in the real, imperfect, messy and fallible way that is real life.

As Rosh Hashanah begins and we embark on another year, it's fun to reread my archives and delve into the past one a bit. I wrote some funny stuff and some poignant stuff and some thoughtful stuff and some complete crap this year. Next year there will no doubt be more of the same. It's hard to imagine what I'll find to say after all I've already written here, but I suspect I'll think of something. I always do.

Some thing never change, and no one in this household wants to join me in dipping apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah yet again this year. But I could care less. Because this year, I can look back at what I've written here and see documented proof that it didn't matter in the end. Our year was sweet anyway.