Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Some Assembly Required

Many people have theories on how a couple should "test" their relationship before they walk down the isle. Some experts suggest counseling while others offer a checklist of discussion topics before knowing that this soul mate is "The One". I've decided that assembling furniture or toys together should be added to the list. Just think, IKEA could have a new tag line..."Swedish furniture, meatballs AND a litmus test of your relationship...all in One warehouse!"

My Husband and I will be married 8 years next month and, like other couples, we have had our share of struggles. There have luckily been more ups than downs to our history. Whether these difficulties have included family, finances, work schedules in relation to family time, rotating the tires, social plans or disciplining the kids. they became yet another measurement from which to test the strength of our relationship. We could have easily thrown in the towel on some of these shared experiences but alas we are still going for a strong shared future together. In hindsight, I think that some of these struggles have actually made our union stronger, even though, at the time, I would have thought differently.

Our communication has always been a beacon for us. It's simple really...I tell him we need to communicate better and he remembers to do so. : ) All kidding aside, we both work very hard at keeping each other in the loop as best we can. This is a tall order but one we are committed to working at. We, and I mean that in the best sense of the word, know that when WE don't know whats happening in each others lives, WE start to crumble.

Over the holiday weekend I purchased a new patio table. It amazingly accommodates 2 more people in a smaller footprint. Thanks to Craigslist, I recently sold our older mismatched, too large set. I started assembly by myself earlier in the day but the heat meant we had to head to the park with the boys and spend some time playing in the water. However, I'm very goal oriented and knowing that the project was only half done meant that I really REALLY wanted to get the new table together before we went to bed. My husband offered his assistance quite willingly.

We have put many things together. We've had numerous opportunities to get a system down pat. I like to make sure we have all the pieces identified before we start. He likes to peruse the instructions. He gets MY drill * and revs it a few times as if it were a handlebar to a motorcycle.

(Zoom in on that magnetic tip feature...Love it!)

Generally, I then read each step to him. He does that step while I prepare the pieces for the next step. It really works quite well. It took us 2 cribs, 1 desk, many bookcases and a changing table to really get this all down pat. However, we learned that drawers are tough and it's ok to say, "I don't know where this piece should go". Sure we've had our spats. Sure we've cursed the directions and of course we shared a few 4 lettered words louder than under our breath. BUT, we've always succeeded. We haven't even had to call the helpline if it was available OR had any extraneous pieces left over. We persevered the tough times. A real testament of our relationship.

So, Dear Hubby, thank you for helping me with the table. I hope we have many more opportunities to enjoy the result of our hard work as well as to continue our team work attitudes. May it be a lesson we instill in the boys.
*I only make it a point to say MY drill because I love tinkering and fixing things and have my own, Do it HERself tool set that has remarkably fixed most everything in our house. Yet again another quirky non traditional quip about me. My husband did not own even a hammer or a roll of Duct tape when I met him. (Correction: my husband has informed me that he did indeed own these items, just couldn't necessarily find them under the mounds and piles in his domicile.)
I'm not judgin'...I'm just sayin'. : )

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Waking up to M*O*M

My youngest (20 months) has about 4 or 5 words that perhaps only I recognize. We had an awful time with him and painful poops for almost his entire life. For the first year plus a few months he would wake in the morning, and from his naps, screaming in pain from these dreadful poops. We finally got it under control and lately he has been babbling in the morning instead of screaming. It is fun to listen to him on the monitor. We certainly don't miss, what we donned, "the G-d forbid I'm on Fire" scream...nor does he.

Well, this morning I got the treat of all treats. He woke up gently and was happily playing. Then he broke into a little sing songy... "Momma" (with a touch of come and get me in his voice) He was checking out the cause and effect a little while enjoying the independence and comfort of hanging out in his crib for a bit in the morning. He discovered how to start his John Lennon music mobile as well as experimenting with some fun with the crib mirror. I thoroughly enjoyed his peaceful play and of course I couldn't wait to go and get him and change the O so poop plentiful diaper I'm greeted with each morn.

Joy O Joy....NO SCREAMING. I'll take this wake up call any day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chinese Freeze Tag - MEME

I was tagged by Barely Controlled Chaos and was initially excited...'my first tag". However, this is a daunting task. I want to come up with things that are exciting. What if I realize I'm not exciting. What if others think of me as dull? I won't know unless I dive in I guess. So, here I go. Here are some interesting facts about me. Who knows, maybe no one will even read this.

Here are the ground rules so to speak: I write 10 interesting (ahem…you decide how interesting they really are!) facts about me and/or habits of mine.- I’ll “tag” someone else and then they have the option/obligation to write their own MEME.

1. I lived in Aspen, CO. for 5 years. Taught skiing, worked at a posh 5 star hotel and a mom & pop ski store. I managed a deli (not having any food handling experience) and left the corned beef out overnight. I worked at the local public school and city daycamp and had a thoroughly amazing time skiing over 100 days each season and hiking, snowshoeing, swimming etc every summer. I saved the most amazing dog from the pound who was my companion for close to 12 years. People often stopped me on the street to tell me how great he seemed...They were right.

2. When I returned to my hometown from Aspen, I decided that the concrete jungle wasn't going to get the best of me and decided to walk the Chicago Marathon and raise money for Leukemia along the way. They had an amazing program and I fulfilled my dream of completing a marathon by my 30th birthday.

3. While in Aspen I hiked to the top of the tallest peak in Colorado (14,444 ft) with my best friend and her now husband. We were so exhausted when we got back home that we went to a movie that night and she lost her camera proving we were at the summit. We KNOW we were there and that's that. I believe I have an athlete living inside of me. I'm very well coordinated and have amazing balance. I can't imagine what my body could do if it were "normal" I'll let you know when I get there. I know it will shock me.

4. I have felt that I am defined by my weight for my whole life. It's a hangup I can't seem to shake. Nor an attachment I can't seem to disconnect from. I recently found over 1000 slides from my childhood and had them digitized. I was absolutely shocked to see that I was of normal size. My memory is way different. I am so sad at how much of my life this burden has taken up. I feel closer to a solution now, more than ever. My solution will not include pills or surgery.

5. As long as we are talking about being fat, I think it's a great time to discuss my favorite snack. It's pretty much a staple in our home to have tortilla chips & salsa. A splurge would be to have fresh guacamole. Yum!

6. I was born with only two bottom center teeth not 4 (go look in mirror...you probably have 4) I have the most difficult time getting my mouth numb with novocaine. I've stumped 2 dentists and at least as many oral surgeons.

7. I love business. I love to talk about business and entrepreneurial ideas. I love to know how things are made. I love to be creative in making a buck. I love to streamline processes. I love a good blue pen. I love cleanly shaven legs. I love the smell of my children's hair after it's washed. I love lilacs & tulips. I love my digital camera. I love fixing things & using my own tools. I love being prepared. I love a clean car. I love to learn something new. I love technology. I love using "....". I'm sill learning to love me.

8. I don't recycle. Nor is my city properly set up for it. I haven't done anything to help change it.
9. I often worry that I'm not a good enough parent. I often wonder if there is a litmus test to check such a thing. It is often a very black and white discussion I have with myself. I often say often too often.

10. I always cry in movies when a dad walks his daughter down the aisle

11. I love John Cusack and Zach Braff. The humor and sensitivity they portray seem to be a great combo.

OK, in hindsight, it wasn't so bad. 11 just to prove to myself that I don't have a limited amount of interesting things regarding me. That's so me...having to "prove" something. I think I clarified some stuff for me along the way. I hope you will try it...I hope you found one or two things of interest. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. I don't have the heart to pawn this pressure on anyone else. If you do your own Meme...please comment here with a link to it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday

My Dear Sweet First Child....
I can't believe you are 5 years old. I don't know why 5 is such a big deal. Somehow it just is. So much has happened in this quick time frame. I'm celebrating too. YOU made me a Mom 5 years ago. What a special gift that was, and continues to be. I like to think I have taught you many things. You have taught me too. Although I have taught you how to walk, rationalize, question and more, you have taught me that my heart can get even bigger. You continue to amaze me with the questions you think up and the sweetness you have in you towards me, your Dad, your little brother. You have shown such compassion towards intangible concepts too like mother nature, infinity, G-d, love, heaven, death just to name a few. I was lying in bed last night trying to figure out where 5 years have gone. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital and trying to figure out how to change your diaper without you peeing on us. I wonder how many diapers I've changed in these past years.

Although I sometimes feel extremely taxed by you and your brother, I can't imagine wanting it any other way. You see, being a Mommy makes me want to make you and your brother feel safe and feel like you are getting what you need in any given moment. I know that sounds like a tall order and believe me...it is. Sometimes I think you need to be more independent and that is the hardest need for me to fulfill. I want you to still be my first little baby and yet I want you to be sufficient and continue to trust what daring moves you can trust yourself to do safely. Lately those have been all connected to your new bicycle. I love watching how rugged you feel on your new bike. The training wheels have given you a sense of security that I sometimes wonder if I have missed in instilling in you. You like to show me how you can ride while standing up and sometimes while you ride you like to take your hands off the handle bars for a quick second. I'm certainly not ready for your training wheels to come off anytime soon. You also love to jump. Nana & Papa gave you a mini trampoline for your birthday. You make up all different jumps that include straight legs, spinning around, closing your eyes, arms up and sometimes you like to put all of them together. It is always so nice when you give your brother a turn. You gently hold his hand so that he can get down safely.

I'm a worrier... I worry that I'm not spending enough time with you. Is there even such a thing? Is it ever possible to spend enough time with you AND enough time with your brother? How do Moms of many more multiple children do it all? Last night, while I was thinking about you and how you've grown, I was trying to come up with ways for us to be together and play. PLAY...not my strong suit. I don't know why that is so difficult for me. My goal for now is to focus on letting you teach me about how to play. No agendas, not too much framework...just relaxed interaction. Somehow I was thinking that it needed to involve getting dirty in the back yard digging up worms or something. See, I feel like I need to map it out. I'm going to work very hard at not working so hard. I want to spend this summer with you, when you are not at camp, and do carefree things. Wouldn't it be fun to visit the beach, try gardening, make bubbles, swim, make/eat Popsicles, have a lemonade stand and throw water balloons? Those all sound like such fun and the makings of wonderful memories to add to those we've already collected.

You are getting bigger, taller and wiser. You can count to 100. You can count to 20 in Spanish and 10 in Hebrew. You are starting to read and spell. You make the most wonderful cards and you recently learned how to cut a heart out of a folded piece of paper. The wonderment of that was priceless. You showed me at least 7 just at breakfast alone and were very happy to announce that the leftover paper made a beautiful frame for another project. You love to fold. You told me the other day, when you were folding a towel, that, "When I grow up I can work in a store and fold clothes and things for the customer people." You are so delicious I can't stand it. You love to sing. We make up songs and you like to sing in your Jacob Made Up Language. The best part is when you try to teach me these songs. You love to dance too. I love it when I put on the music and we all dance together.

You seemed to have fallen in Love this year. A wonderful girl.."B". I think it's funny that you were infatuated with that letter a few years back. You often tell me that you are going to marry her and that she is "Your Love". You are disappointed when you can not sit next to her and are always eager to remind me that your wedding will be at 7:30. She is a wonderful girl and part of an awesome family...I'm so happy that you are happy but perhaps you could put marriage on the back burner for now.

As for a future profession, you've had lots of top pics...Never the traditional fireman, cowboy, policeman etc. that I normally associate with little boys. Sometimes you mention wanting to be a garbage man so that you can ride while standing on the back of the truck. Sometimes you want to be a "payer" (cashier) so that you can press all those buttons. However, you really give me run for my money when it comes to negotiating. Daddy and I often say that you will be a lawyer when you grow up. You always see a new angle to a situation and I hope that will serve you well one day. Right now, it's very exhausting. : )

We drive by a large police station on our way to school. You always have many questions regarding this facility. You constantly ask why they have a truck police car and when I ask you what you think they use it for, your most recent comment was, "Maybe a bunch of police people go to a play together at a theater". I just about fell out of the car. First, I have to commend you on always saying "people". Rarely do you say policeMAN or WOMAN. I find this very interesting. But the fact that you picked a play in a theater was so advanced. I love this creative thinking of yours.

Daddy is coaching you in TBall this year. You are a New York Yankee. It is so nice to see you guys have so much fun. He bought each of you a new mitt and a bunch of baseballs. Everyone comments on what a great swing you have. Although you say you are bored in the outfield...Daddy says that you guys are working on grounders and last week you said you had fun out there.

All in all I think you are generally a happy kid with a lot going on his head. You are always thinking, analyzing and measuring a situation. You are usually kind to your brother and I LOVE to watch you teach him new things and see how excited you get when he does something for the first time. You have a big heart and I love to see you grow, learn explore and teach. I love you so much from here to "affinity" (cuz you are just too cute when you can't say INfinity)

Happy Birthday my sweet first born.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Best Shot Monday

We were asked this week..."What tangible object makes you feel like a Mother?" I was thinking about this alot, especially with my son turning 5 recently. I was getting very nastalgic and attempting to remember all the details of his first year etc. I decided that since I had the pleasure of growing and carrying both boys inside of me that their belly buttons were partly my skin. That is something we share that no one else can buy, wrap or package.

One Sunday night we started photographing all our belly buttons on a whim....I never knew I'd be posting them all here. Dad is here too because we wouldn't have these perfect belly buttons without him. If you are looking for something a bit more traditional...please check out this great neclace too.

And as always...check out other BSM here

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Mixed Messages

People often send out emails that remind us of yest er year. The remember when type. However, it occurred to me that our kids are getting really mixed messages as to today's inner workings and I can't help but wonder what type of "yest er year" content they will see in their future.

For example, I noticed that when my older son plays 'store' and 'cashier' that he often pays me for visiting his establishment. Which, by the way, doesn't sell socks. Anyway, I didn't think much of this in the past couple of years until he was helping me at checkout at the real store yesterday. I paid, as I usually do, with my debit card and selected cash back on keypad. AHA!, no wonder the poor child thinks he should pay me at the store. He thinks we get paid to shop and collect our groceries. This is so skewed. I tried to explain to him but he just got so intrigued in saying "cash back" that I lost stamina and let him have his almost 5 year old outlet of repetitiveness.

I'm already scared by the world we are leaving for our children. However, if, by chance, this world is around for them, how will they comprehend the workings of day to day life when all they do is push a button for their desires to be presented to them. How in the H_ _ _ are we supposed to expect them to understand patience when immediate gratification is available to them everywhere? I sometimes feel like I am fighting a losing battle. I'm still in it....still fighting and hope, everyday, that both my boys get a nice blend of the calmness of yest er year as well as the forward technology of tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2007

What kid needs R&R?

Note: This photo was taken by my Big Brother

I love when spring feels like summer. This was one of those moments when I was able to really have fun with the kids and not worry about all the othe stuff we worry about. Trust me, it's no beachfront getaway but then that would make me worry about bathing suits and such so...This made me smile & relaxed and therefore...my entry for this weeks Best Shot Monday.

* I encourage you to click on the picture to see the larger version...it's bound to make you smile too.

Check out other BSM at Picture This

Thursday, May 3, 2007


My big brother just left from a 5 day visit with us. Here is a Top 5 list of things we all learned in his quick visit.

1. 2T long pants can be dubbed as clam diggers on a 4T child.
2. A yo-yo is a great toy for an almost 5 year old...NOT for one who is 1.5.
3. Whining is more irritating when it's visually annoying a NON parent.
4. Visitors who bring huge bubble wands are heroes to 5 year olds.
5. Having an Uncle to distract his nephews while you do something else is priceless.

We hope to see you soon Uncle P.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I'm BAAaak

OK, OK, OK...I've been out of touch for a while. Thank you so much for the many email messages I received from many readers I didn't even know I had. Here is a little insight as to why it's been so long since my last entry.

...School Daze Life CRAZE...

Living in a big metropolitan city has lots of bonuses...You can always do or get what you want or need. In my city, there are lots of parks. We are fortunate to have a great residential area near the city stuff. However, if you want to educate your children....take a deep breath and clear your schedules and perhaps your credit cards. Notice I didn't say pick up and move to the 'burbs. The burbs have been a very last resort for our family. We love being able to walk most places and the thought of using the car for everything is enough to make me want to scream. Don't get me wrong. there is nothing wrong with the suburbs. I am a product of them myself. Although I often dream of the vast back yards and horizontal rather than vertical living that is available there, I still resign myself as a city girl. Ah, but then I went and had kids and decided that educating them might be a great idea. . . . here starts the problem.

Picking an institution to educate my children has been a 2+ year endeavor. Having been an educator myself I thought I had a good handle on what to look for in a school. In hindsight, I don't think anyone can be prepared for this monumental task. My husband and I had a few hurdles to get over. For example, we had to decide if we were ready to trust our cities public schools to teach our children? Do we need to find a private school to do the educating? If so, do we want the private school to be religiously focused? It took us some time and lots of school visits, aka missed work and schedule juggling. We visited school fairs and talked to lots and lots of parents both in this same process and those who've, excuse the pun, graduated from it. The only thing that is consistent with all these parents opinions is this....this process is really tough. Many also said, "It all works out somehow."

We applied to one school last year for Jr. Kindergarten and were rejected. It still boggles my mind to actually set myself up for such a feat but hey, space in a city is limited and someone has to draw the short straw. After the schools organized play date for my son and informal interviews with the admissions director and my husband and me - it was tough not taking this rejection personally.

This year we focused on kindergarten and decided to look into our local public school. It seemed as if the scores were improving steadily in the last couple of years. That was promising. Class size wasn't too big, but only guaranteed to be 32:1 or less. That is a lot of little kids with one teacher. Forget the fund raising....show me a school who doesn't need fund raising and I might just pass out. The demographics were pleasantly diverse and the thought of walking to and from school was heavenly. Low and behold, at the school visit, I learned that classes were often broken up into smaller groups and portions of the students were taught reading by the librarian or, at some schools, the gym teacher. I'm no Einstein but I'm pretty sure that the education for librarians and gym teachers does not necessarily include the fundamentals for reading. And, again, just by the numbers here...I don't see my child pulling the long straw on the individualized attention concept either. The public school is not a bad options, rather, for us, our second option.

In the eleventh hour I cleared my schedule and looked at one more private school - Religiously based. I've been to a few events that were organized by this school. I had always felt so welcomed and warm. This was a true light bulb moment for me. I knew that the parents participation and comfort in the child's learning institution was of utmost importance. Getting to know the administration and learning that some of our friends also sent their children to this school was very refreshing. This school has its own setbacks. It's locationally challenging - carpool a must. It's a newer school and we'd be slight guinea pigs. However, it's exciting to think about the aspect of helping to build a new institution. We went for it. We applied and waited. And Waited. Oh, and we waited. Then there was spring break so we waited some more. School visits to my sons preschool meant more waiting and then.... ... ...

After 2+ years of much struggle, anticipation and grief as to whether we were going to HAVE to move to the 'burbs.... after so many open houses for homes in both the city and the burbs that I've lost count...I got the call I'd been waiting for. "We would like to welcome you to our school. We'd be so pleased if you'd join our family". Music to my ears. "They'd be pleased?" They have no idea how pleased we would be to be welcomed to their family. So, we sucked it up. Paid the deposit and poof. We have a school. We have a means, in the city, to educate our children. We couldn't be more giddy with relief. I guess it all does work out somehow. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is all for Kindergarten.......I keep hearing, "No Child Left Behind". But this was close. What will happen when we need a high school or even a college. Hoping that process won't be as daunting is naive but even I am not sweating that yet.