Thursday, November 13, 2014

Manicures, Tea and Mental Illness

Tuesday afternoon I was invited to a new friend's house for tea. She had baked and said to bring the kids. It was super low key and it was a nice way for our girls to get to know each other a bit better. Turned out to be a good day for us girls to get to know each other as well. The hostess was a woman who I had met a few years ago through a friend, and when I knew I was moving the mutual friend put us back in touch. When I got there another woman who I have met a few times at the school was there too. She and I have been introduced so many times we started giving each other new names. The three of us sat at her dining room table and started the afternoon with a lovely cup of tea, some delicious fresh baked pies and cakes. That was just the beginning.

Eventually our conversations about school teachers, whining, and what to make to dinner went a bit deeper. We sat there for a few sweet hours getting to know each other. We talked about where we were from, our families, and all the fun characters that come up with that topic. We talked about mental illness and suicide and how there is such a stigma attached to needing help, but if you are anemic by all means take an iron pill. That conversation of course opened up the door for the extreme stories of people we know, or are related to, who have suffered so, and a few who took there own lives. It was never somber talk though, no one began tearing up, it was just matter of fact. We talked about how and where we grew up. We shared stories of how we all ended up in this city, what we used to do, and what we do now. At some point a container of nail polishes came out and one by one we all started doing our nails. It wasn't planned, but in one lovely afternoon I got to know two new friends, had a nice cuppa tea and got a nice manicure. It was pretty sweet.

So here I am somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving and indeed feeling more at home in our new area. We still haven't moved into our new house yet, but in the meantime I'm feeling very welcomed by the neighbors. Just when I had come to the conclusion that people were very nice, but not very interesting, I was thankfully proven wrong. We even found some time to be a bit catty. I know it isn't the nicest thing in the world to make fun of someone else's enormous hairdo but sometime its just has to happen. Also, I was beginning to think the people around here were just too nice, so I am glad to see a bit of grit. Girls will be girls after all.

While we sat around in the dining room our kids were playing outside in the yard. They had a great time and rarely did we hear from them. It was just one of those afternoons that had the right mix and everyone got along really well together. We parted ways at the end of tea promising that next time we would go out for drinks. We laughed so hard that we may as well have been drinking. Throw some alcohol into the mix next time and who knows what will be said. I'm excited to find out. Cheers! Either way I left wanting a tea set and a pretty box to put the tea bags in. I think it was my first tea party and I look forward to another one.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Strength Training

I'm pretty ritualistic when it comes to exercise. It's been part of my life for many years, and as a competitive athlete I never missed a day of practice. I even sacrificed family trips, nights out in high school and even the second half of the high school prom to ensure that I stayed on my game. When someone recently asked me how I maintain a exercise program now that I have kids the answer is a no brainer. I have to, it is just part of who I am.

Lately, that has been threatened by my son's new trend to wake up in the 5 am hour. Once I am up and then trying to get him to go back down I fall asleep without enough time to work out. Sleep is equally important but I need to find a solution so that I can do both. I got my haircut today and this one appointment took so long to organize because I needed to find a friend to watch my son, and appointment with the hairdresser that worked with in her schedule, my friend's and my son's nap. Sitting in the chair I realized how different the ten plus years between my hairdresser a myself makes. She was talking about being newly single at 28 and how she was beginning to feel like she should get comfortable being alone. I smiled and told her one day she will long for this alone time.

When I am out at a restaurant which is not as common occurrence these days, I notice how much younger everyone is looking. People around me that are now considered adults are over ten years younger than me. When I see this sometimes I feel like a bear who has been hibernating all winter, meanwhile everyone around me has been out doing stuff. I left working over 6 years ago and don't even know how to begin to go back. I have plenty ideas, but I feel a bit outdated.

I'm hungry for anew project, and an inspiring team of people to play with intellectually each day, but it will have to wait until I am not limited to a two hour nap window a day. My son will be off at school before long and I will be missing my time with my baby, so I will not wish this away. Meanwhile though my sense of daily accomplishments gets tied directly to exercise. For that reason I am going to stop writing and head to the floor where I can run in place for a while. Tired or not!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sing, Sing a Song

I was listening to a story on the radio yesterday. I didn't hear much of it but it was an interview with a writer/songwriter. He was talking about a book he wrote and then the interviewer asked him whether he prefers writing books or songs more. He, with no hesitation said, they cannot be compared. He said singing is like fire and we do it from the second we are born. He said writing is a much more calculated process. I had never thought about just how primal singing is. We voice ourselves immediately out of the womb. Everyone's first sounds are not small whispered mubblings, rather, loud wailing and musical. What a wonderful way to start!

Music was always a big part of my household growing up. My mother, a classical pianist, taught piano lessons after school. During the day she was a music teacher at a school as well. My sister played violin, my brother the french horn, and I studied a bit of piano, and violin, but mostly I loved to sing. My mother and I were a duo from the time I was three. She and I would perform on stage in concert at my grandmothers senior group as well as for anyone in our house who would listen. I had a big voice for a little girl and I remember wearing a gingham gown and standing center stage in front of a sea of gray haired audience members. My grandma was in the front row always smiling at me. I loved her and it made me happy to see her happy.

At school I was part of the chorus and although I loved singing together with friends I was a hog when it came time to solos. I always auditioned to sing on my own and loved duets as well. My best friend and I did one together once for a recital and to this day she still sings parts of it on my voicemail for my birthday sometimes. As a teenager I would reenact my favorite ballads from Broadway musicals in front of the mirror. When I was most upset and heavy with teenage angst I felt singing was the single most effective way out of it. Classical was always on in the house or car and my mom would bet my sister a dollar if she could guess the composer. She stopped playing that with my brother and I. Either because she would have gone broke or we didn't know the answers as well. Can't remember which. Music was joy for me. It was the sound I remember most in my house, and anything traditional we did religiously or spiritually that has stuck with me today has only remained because there was music attached to it.

These days the music most played in my car or home is again of the musical theater kind. If my husband can help it he switches it to only the finest up and coming indie band, but he is overruled usually by my daughter and recently by my two year old son. Annie and Frozen are still top of the most played here. After January came and went I felt relieved to take a "Let it Go" break but recently when we played it randomly my little one became hooked. Now he asks for "Posen" all the time. Many have a love hate relationship with Frozen. I really thought I might scream if I had to listen to anymore, but then it would be on in the car and I would think I could tune it out and then moments later I am belting it out with my munchkins in the back seat. As a mother daughter duo Twig and I would sing the duets together this past winter and my husband from the side line would jokingly smirk and tell me I was living my dream singing with her. In response I would say "yes and your nightmare." I too can poke fun at theater geeks because it is an annoying group but sometimes they are having more fun than the rest of us, so its easy to be bitter.

The last few weeks after I drop my daughter off at school I take my son to one of the local parks. I have met a few nice moms, but I have met even more nice nannies and grandmothers. At two, my son is starting to interact more and more with kids his own age, so when he sees the regular park goers he is excited to play. Last time a few of us were sitting at a picnic table taking a snack break when I channeled my mother. One of the nannies mentioned how sometimes she brings books to read at the park and the next thing I knew I was running a mini song session with two nannies, a grandma, and four kids. I'm not exactly sure how we all started singing but we went through quite a repertoire of songs.

When a flyer came home last week for the elementary school choir at Twig's school I was relieved. It wasn't just happy and excited it was a relief to see that she could be part of something bigger than just she and I singing in the kitchen. That I wouldn't be the sole person holding the responsibility of her getting the opportunity to open her mouth to sing. Don't get me wrong she sings all the time at home but this opportunity to sing in a choir is special and even if the teacher sucks, singing together with a group of other children is special. She was ambivalent at first and then she realized how many of her friends were doing it as well, and she got excited. So Wednesday mornings we will leave extra early to get to school for choir. To and from school my son asks for "Posen" and 99% of the time I put it on for him. Just as I feel the need to scream from "Do you want a build a snowman?" countless times, his little voice chimes in with them. Each day he is gaining more and more words and yet the fact that he couldn't even say a full sentence doesn't stop him from singing a song. He has a great ear and can sing on key, he usually sings the last word of each sentence really clearly. It pretty sweet to hear. I tell myself when I get sick of the music I will be sicker when the day comes when he doesn't want to sing out loud anymore, because it will come. Hopefully before he becomes a big theater geek though.

Sing Out Loud, Sing Out Strong,
Don't worry if its not good enough
For anyone else to hear,
Just sing, Sing a Song!

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Girls

With all the changes come a lot of emotions. New apartment, new area, new school, new gymnastics. It's a lot for me to get used to, let alone my 6 year old. My little one just needs two or three days in a place and he will yell out "home" the second we turn into the driveway. In his short life he has already moved practically 4 times. My daughter is a lot more aware of how different her life is now. She loved Kindergarten and now that we moved, there was a lot of longing for her old school.

Kids are adaptable and will follow your lead on how big of a deal you make something. I have been working really hard on my poker face and showing her that new situations are exciting and an adventure. The truth is that I do feel that way but in the past my fear typically over shadowed the excitement. As an adult the stress and fear combined can be a distracting combo but this time I promised myself to stay positive. My close friend talked me into trying to take it all as it came. Boy did come at us this summer, with all the moves and unknown elements of where we would live. I took her advice and I am not going to say there hasn't been challenging moments but I am impressed with my stability through this process.

When my girl looks up at me and tells me she has butterflies on the first day of school, I tell her I understand. I really do understand because I have them for her too, but we are not becoming paralyzed by the fear. I am helping her replace some of the worry with excitement, (or as she says "distract me mommy") and she is already using coping tools that I wasn't able to until recently. Every new subject or activity that we heard about for her new school I would get excited for her and tell her how amazing first grade would be. Her poker face wasn't as good as mine, and she was fighting back tears. Her bravery impressed me though. It was hard to stand amongst a class of kids and watch them all say hello to one another in a more familiar way than she was able to. They all knew each other from Kindergarten and no one else seemed scared or upset.

Everyone has been really nice and friendly, even more so than at the school she attended last year. The big difference though is that we both had a close friend at the old school and don't really know anyone here. In this area I think she might actually be doing a bit better than me. She has found a few people she wants to hang out with. One of them she was a bit off on her judgement and at our first get together at this girl's house revealed that maybe she was a bit less sweet than she originally seemed, but she has navigated with the kids nicely. I feel a bit more lonely for my bff's lately. I know it takes time, but I am missing my cool interesting, edgy, smart fun friends. I am sure there are some people that exist living in this new part of town but I haven't met them yet.

I know it takes time, and the same message I am conveying to my girl, I need to heed myself. Little by little. It's only September and I heard from another parent last year that the adjustment to the new school year really settles in by Halloween. I think it's safe to say Twig will be more than at home by then. As for me, if I don't feel more settled by Halloween I'll be the one with the white sheet over my head.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Suckin' List

Suckin List

Before I forget all the words by children mispronounce or before they start saying things correctly I wanted to start a list.

Twig always said S’s instead of F’s so when we had a song playing once that was inappropriate for her then age 2 ears she would sing the lyrics “I saw it on the suckin' concrete!" She says f’s most of the time now so we stopped playing the song.

She does still call her fingers “singers”

Balloom instead of Balloon.


My little one who is just beginning to talk has a few words in his own language that we have all picked up

Dudnuh -- lollypop

Dahdun -- balloon

Ohnay-working -- when he sees anyone doing construction work

Mommy la -- me

Daddy la -- my husband

Aya -- his sister

Horphy -- horsie

Coursh -- of course

Yesh -- yes

Oh ma goodnesh -- oh my goodness

Was dis? -- Whats this?

I need to write these down because as one can see I don't have many words for my daughter as the cute mispronounced words are being replaced with "embarrassed" and "mommy don't sing" and the days of dancing in public just because are almost done for her. She has an awareness of the world around her in a way that he doesn't yet. When I take them scootering, she wants to fly down the street as fast as she can, while he stops and marvels at the twigs, leaves and roots of the trees. At the age of six, she day-by-day is becoming a little bit more independent, strong, and brave. As first grade begins I am trying to fathom how this day crept upon us so quickly. I felt like I just had her a few years ago.

There is a nagging voice in my head at times to "get my life back" and spend more time getting a job, a step up from the one I have now of wiping bums and counter tops, even attempt to change the world a little. I have to tell the voice to whisper every now and again though. I don't want it to go away completely but if it screams it will wake up my screaming toddler in the other room. I still have a two year old and soon enough he will be ready for first grade and then that voice and I can have a conversation. In the meantime I am trying to concentrate on the sound of my baby mispronouncing more and more words.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This is A Test

I remember being six years old and getting sick a lot. At a certain point my mom had to take me to get blood taken and the phlebotomist was a woman with really long, red-painted fingernails. She would pull my arm and use her long nails to trace my skin in search of a vein. I had a few of these done because I got a bad case of Scarlet Fever. I distinctly remember the day that I decided "enough was enough" and that maybe I had some say in the matter. The woman was holding my arm with those red nails and I decided to pull away. She grabbed tighter and the experience just went from bad to worse. I was already fighting though and I couldn't back down and just comply. Instead I turned it up, screaming, "No!", flailing my body and trying to pull my arm away. Tuns out when you are upset and you already have little, hard-to-find veins, putting up a fight didn't make it any easier.

I never seem to get over my fear of having blood taken. I don't mind needles if they have to inject medicine, but feel it is incredibly invasive to have a sharp object poked into my vein and take my blood out. Not to mention how squeamish I am and that the whole idea turns my stomach. As a kid when I heard that in order to have a baby you would have to have blood drawn throughout the pregnancy I decided I would adopt to avoid unnecessary needles. When I did get pregnant it was even harder to find a vein just confirming that there was actually truth to my fear. Being poked five times just to get a bit of blood doesn't ease ones' nerves. During my actual births I was able to convince the nurses to not take my blood before during or after labor. They seemed surprised I was okay with the pain of a drug-free birth, but not the prick of a needle. It was true for me though. I would rather push out a baby than give you my arm for blood. Call me crazy.

This past week when my six year old was given a blood test, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Five minutes before she had made the same fighter decision I had at six to fight with all her might during a routine TB test. It took two nurses and my whole body to hold her still for a tiny prick. How could they ask her to sit still for a few viles of blood. How would I help comfort her when this is such a huge fear for me? Right then and there though I had one of those selfless parenting moments where you realize the crap you could pass on to your kid, and that a better decision could be made. A decision that requires Oscar-worthy acting skills. A decision that could be mistaken for a lie if one really knew how I felt inside. A decision that could release her of any of my attachments I have to this, and help her feel brave and then proud.

She was afraid and wanted to wait until the next day but I bribed her with ice cream and a toy. I explained the sooner she gets it done the sooner she can stop thinking about it. I also explained to her how the whole thing was really no big deal, and gave her every detail of what she should expect, from the band around her arm to the cotton ball at the end. She seemed to take comfort in knowing what to expect. She believed me that it was quick and hardly painful. I said that it was okay to cry but not okay to move around like she did for the TB test. I promised to hold her and told her that when I have it done I like to be told a story while it was happening to be distracted.

When the time came for her she climbed up on my lap, put her arm out and watched them put the band on her arm. She began to cry a little and the phlebotomist asked if I thought she would sit still or should the other nurse come into help. I whispered in her ear asking if she could be still and she said she could. The tears were rolling off her cheek but she stayed still. I whispered a story in her ear about the bravest sweetest girl I knew and how very loved she was, she asked it it was over and the man said it would be just a few seconds more. I couldn't look but I could hear as he finished up and then it was over. She got her cotton ball and the hugest hug from me ever. I may have been a little lightheaded but she was a strong as ever.

While we sat and ate our hard earned ice creams, I was grateful that she handled the whole thing so well. I was proud of myself for not showing any of my panic, proud of her that she handled it so well and didn't put up a fight, and relieved that there was no red nail polish involved whatsoever.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two Steps Back

This summer has been an interesting one, to say the least. Back in April 2013 we left the house we owned to move into a smaller apartment that offered some outdoor space and conveniences that our house didn't. We got a tenant for the house and she signed a year lease just like we did. The apartment was right next to the elementary school where my daughter would begin Kindergarten just a few short months later, giving all of us time to settle in.

It became clear pretty quickly that apartment living is not at all like living in a house and it felt a bit like my husband and I were back in our twenties. You could hear the neighbors on the side and above, there were apartment rules and a troll-like manager making sure we followed them. It didn't feel like ours and we didn't feel at home. Not to mention how we over-paid each month. So when our tenant gave her months notice at the end of her lease we took the opportunity to begin selling our house. Although filled with memories, as well as the starting ground for our family, we knew the house wasn't the long term home for our family.

While we were selling the house though, we couldn't afford to pay the mortgage and the rent on our apartment so we gave our months' notice. We had some interest on the house and even an offer from the first couple that saw it, but it wasn't close enough to what we were asking so we passed. We waited for Twig to finish school and then packed up our entire apartment in two days. That Monday my husband went to work and the movers came. As I packed up the last few boxes they began to fill their truck. It was a long day and a lot of work and by 9 pm that night we were back in our old house trying to get the kids rooms's unpacked enough that they could go to bed. My husband was getting cash for the movers and when he came in to my son's room he told me to stop unpacking. I thought he was telling me to stop for the day but what he was really saying was that he was just on the phone with an agent and our house, the one I had just moved into, was going to be sold! Typically this would be great news but in that moment all I could do was dig my fingers into the rug and bite my lip to keep from screaming.

Once I processed this news, I was happy we were selling but concerned for where we would go next. Even if we found another house or made an offer we would have to wait until that escrow closed. In between, we would need to find something and in between is exactly when the school year starts. So many questions about where will we live and what school will she go to.

We should have stayed in the apartment in hind sight but we had no idea that this offer would come in when it did. So here we are a month away from being out of our house and it is both daunting and nerve racking to not know what is next, yet we are back in our old house which is validating that it isn't the right place for us anymore. So at least we made the big initial move and the exciting adventure is still ahead. For now though, it feels like one step forward and two steps back and then a few steps into that unknown territory.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summertime-East Coast Style

We just got back from quite a wonderful two weeks. We went home to New York City, rode the subway, visited friends, Twig and her Grandma saw "Cinderella" on Broadway, and the train-obsessed boy rode the subway for the first time. I didn't know his eyes could open as wide as they did that day. After the city we drove to the Berkshires where my parents spend summers and began the real summer adventures.

It is so important to me that my children experience the summers the way I did, even if it is only for a few weeks. The beauty of the mountains, trees and welcoming lakes makes memories forever. It just feels more like summer vacation with mosquitos and toasted marshmallows. We walked to the end of our driveway one night to see the big dipper, listen to frogs and watch fireflies. My kids couldn't stop giggling at the sound of the croaking frogs. We had all the time in the world there and it still flew by.

We spent Father's day together with my husband who flew in for the weekend, and with my dad. I don't remember getting to be with both of them before on a day to celebrate them. It was an extra treat. The kids and I made crafts for their gifts that included decorated office clips, bird paintings made from their footprints, and chocolate for each of them along with quite a few handmade cards. We went into town for pizza and it was so nice being all together.

Our days were filled by lake swimming, playground hopping, walks into town for ice cream, barbecues, and making sand castles. We saw friends from summers past and one day Twig put on a cartwheel show with a few other girls that was pretty impressive. It was also a trip for milestones. My mom got my little one to use the potty for the first time. It hasn't happened since but it was still exciting. He also said his own name there for the first time. The biggest change though is that Twig lost her first tooth after months since that first wiggle. She suddenly stopped questioning the authenticity of the tooth fairy. She put it under her pillow with a note and seemed to go to sleep that night a convert and when she woke to find five crisp ones, chocolate coins and a note back to her, she woke up a believer.

On our last day there my son woke up cranky from his nap. The three of us decided to walk to the farm across the road. We did this walk often as they have lots of cows to look at and they sell their own maple syrup. As we were walking up there was a farmer feeding one of the calfs with a baby bottle so we started to talk to him and he showed us a few calfs born a few days before. We had never seen such young calfs before. He showed us a few pregnant cows and when I looked I saw one that looked like it had must have given birth. When I asked him he said that they weren't due yet. When he looked again though he saw a brand new calf between her legs. She had just had her calf before we walked up but he hadn't noticed until I pointed it out. He went in and lifted up the wet baby and brought her out to us. She was shakey as she tried to stand for the first time. It was the first girl born that week. We were very grateful to get to witness that moment. It was a pretty special way to end our pretty special trip.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Where to?!

This is quite possibly the most unsettled I have been in a long time. Our house is on the market and we have an offer but we aren't exactly sure it is the right one. We have to give notice on our apartment, but if our house sells we want somewhere to live while we figure it out. The longer all of this takes the longer we risk having to pay both our mortgage from our house and our rent. If we don't sell we need to move back in the house until we get the right buyer. I'm exhausted from just typing all that and I haven't even packed a single box.

The flip side of all of this is that we have so much possibility right now. We could sell this house and go anywhere. Costa Rica would be a great place to spend a year, or we could home school our daughter and do volunteer work. We could invest in an income property, manage a building, move back to New York for a year. The world is our oyster. My husband and I spend hours on real estate sights searching for the right house, in the right school district, in the right neighborhood that we can afford. All those very normal requests but in a city like LA it is so difficult to hone in on the right place when it is both so expensive and so vast.

There are so many amazing areas in this city that I would live in in a heartbeat, but now that I have kids the priorities are different. So as this first school year for my daughter comes to a close I have been trying very hard not to get overly sentimental. She is in an amazing school and she loves it so it pulls at my heartstrings to think of moving her. At all of the end-of-the-year events at school parents and teachers are asking us if we will be returning next year. My answer is always, "I don't know." My girl might just be one of the worst candidates for switching schools, homes, neighborhoods since it is May and she still has a hard time saying goodbye to me in the morning. On the flip side, she never wants to leave when I pick her up. Kids are resilient though and I know she will be okay wherever we go, but I hope we can find a school as good as this one.

In the meantime we wait for news on our house, I am planning summertime trips and activities and playing make believe in my head about our next move. It could be just across to the East side of this city, or right near here, either way moving will be a challenge no matter where we go so we may as well just do Costa Rica.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hawaii 5 (and almost) 2

Our family vacation was talked about months ago when we booked it. Many sentences started "In April when we go to Hawaii, we are going to...." This was the first big planned trip away to a real vacation spot and we were all so excited. Days leading up to the trip you could spot more than a few of us in our straw hats and sun wear gearing up for warm weather fun.

As with any toddler, flying isn't the most fun. Right now he can scream louder than any other child I have ever heard so my enthusiasm wasn't glowing when I stepped on our plane. The whining started almost immediately from both kids. She wanted to use the iPad the second she sat down and he wanted to sit as close, if not on her lap. We survived the flight and then the long wait for a rental car, knowing that on holiday there is a lot of waiting involved but there will be a reward when we get there.

When we arrived at the house we rented, we met our friends with whom we planned the trip. We chose the rooms to stay in, unpacked the cribs we rented and hit the beach. Or I should say the beach hit us. It was so windy that the sand was flying up and it made it feel quite cold. We maybe stayed fifteen minutes and told ourselves tomorrow will be better.

Tired from the traveling, I was ok calling it a night early, and I reflected on how I am not quite traveling with easy ages quite yet. I remember thinking when Twig was 3 how she began throwing tantrums, and that when I planned on having a baby, I didn't think about having a kid. I was so focused on the baby part. That being said when she was a newborn and I was bouncing a colicky little baby body to help her stop crying, I thought I wanted kids, not this crying blob that isn't getting that I am doing everything I can to help her. The grass is always greener, but there is some truth to the sweet spot of childhood. I do fantasize about 6 and 9 or anything after that. Even five now is good but the almost two part is the wild card. I daydream about road trips where we can all play games like counting cars, or reading the population of a new town we enter. I fondly remember road trips when I would sit upside down in the back seat of our station wagon. The punishment for that now is probably as harsh as getting a DUI, but it was fun.

At any age though you can go away and your well planned trip could go badly. This wasn't exactly a great vacation. It had some great moments, but it had a lot of sick ones too. The first night there the little one who was asleep in the rented pack and play in the bathroom (two things you don't need to do with older kids: put them to bed in the bathroom and rent them "stuff" to sleep in) woke up coughing. It wasn't just a little cough so we were up all night and the next morning, our first day, I walked him to the local urgent care. He had bronchitis and so I walked him home with a prescription thinking looking onward. When I walked in the door my daughter was lethargic in my husbands arms. She went on to have a 24 hour bug followed by her own trip to urgent care two days later for strep and Scarlett fever. Two kids on antibiotics and the wind hadn't exactly let up but here and there there were sunny moments and we took advantage of them. By Wednesday we were all better and went out for an amazing day. We saw beautiful mountains, water, a farm, swam in the ocean and went boogie boarding.  We were happy. Thursday, our last full day we planned to take a big outing as a group to Hamunalo Bay to snorkel. When I woke up my throat was sore but I was in a denial that anything else could go wrong. By the time we got to the bay I felt kind of tired but I ignored it. When I sat down on the sand I felt like I might not be able to ever get up. I put on a good face for everyone and even put on a snorkel since I didn't want to regret not seeing the fish. It took a lot of strength to get myself in the water but I actually felt better swimming around. By the time the day was ending there was no more ignoring for me. I asked my husband to drive me to urgent care where I found out I had 102 fever and strep throat. Just in time to fly home.

I think we will wait for our kids to get a little older before we take such a big trip again. It wasn't the best vacation. It wasn't horrible and we are already having a laugh about it but we came home ready for a rest. Fortunately we live near some amazing beautiful beaches where I plan on going boogie boarding this summer. I shouldn't have to get on a plane for another crazy ride like the one in Hawaii. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I'm Late

No, not in that way. I am not pregnant -- not having another baby. I'm just late a lot. Not to everything. My daughter has never been late to school or gymnastics. My son never late to a music class. I am just late to birthday parties, social gatherings with certain people, or late to get my son back home for a nap. I have a lot on my plate and most days by the time I get my daughter off to school and try to put shoes on my son, there is an hour gone already. Both kids are not the easiest to get out of the house, and then whenever we go somewhere they never want to leave. I just can't seem to remember that everything takes longer than I think it will.

I myself am the worst dilly dallier. I love to lose track of time. That time has gotten so much more precious, but I still somedays, even with a toddler in tow, walk into a Whole Foods and look at new products and daydream around the store. Somewhere in the third aisle I've wandered into, I will remember I only needed one thing here. It's Whole Foods though, and you will spend fifty dollars for five items, for every five minutes you are in the store. It's a dangerous place to shop if you like healthy food that tastes exactly like the unhealthy versions. Especially the MintThin wanna-be.

I also try to plan ahead. I give myself a time I have to leave somewhere by, and then start making deals with myself taking on an additional five or ten minutes. I will put a parking lot ticket in my pocket for safe keeping and then spend twenty minutes panicked because I can't find it. I did this once and had to pay for the lot only to come home and find it in my pocket. I get so frustrated with these little parking tickets. I am still pissed you have to pay more for staying in a store longer and spending more money. How come no one has established how un-green it is to have to move your car from one corporate store to another because they don't want to share? I feel like such a sneak running to Trader Joe's after I shopped at Target next store, and leaving my car in the Target lot. Doesn't anyone who plans this know how hard it is to get a baby in and out of the car for a two minute drive?

Right now, my days are always sectioned into two, due to a little kid I have that takes a midday nap. I love my quiet time in the middle but it feels hectic making an attempt to get much done before and after nap. Now that my daughter is not napping I can see the beauty in the no nap day. Do what you got to do and come back before bedtime. That being said, I think I might go mad if I had to be "on duty" the whole day with an almost two year old so I take it back. Nap nap and more nap until you are more pleasant to be around when you are tired.

In the evening when both kids are asleep and the coveted me time of the waking hours begin, I watch TV, try a new recipe, chat on the phone, sit with my iPad. All of these are much needed hobbies, habits, or addictions if you want to call it like you see it. I need to look at Facebook and lose a half hour of my life that I will never get back. These things all come at a price though, because I am often late to sleep because I can't get myself to bed on time. Then it all begins again the next day when my husband and I ask each other for "just five more minutes." Tick tock!

This is the first of many blogs that I have written and haven't gotten around to posting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm Full

One should never ask "what else can be put on my plate?", especially when you feel it's already getting heavy, because there is always more that can come. So perhaps it's best to accept when you've got a lot going on and not complain about it, just in case karma is a real thing. 

I have a full plate right now. I spend every moment I have to spare without my kids (and some with them) trying to find out where we will be moving in two weeks. We have sold our house and to date, can't find a house or apartment in the areas we like. My stomach is in knots and my nails are low, but I am not complaining. There is a huge element of adventure to this. Each day my husband and I find a possibility to get excited about. Nine times out of ten it has been exciting to someone else first, so it's gone by the time we come around, but at least we both agreed that we liked it. 

We also both agreed on a great area we got really excited about for the kids. We have spent all weekend checking it out. Our kids played there and rode scooters all around the neighborhood. We went into the downtown and let the kids play in the water fountain.  The schools all the way through highschool are amazing. We also found about all these cool events going on. In addition we also found out how many people line-up to see rental properties when they become available. Or how people outbid for tiny houses just so they can live in the area. 

It can be tough out there in the real estate world. It's intimidating, and a lot more competitive than I thought. In the middle of all of this we are dealing wth what hopefully will be a really minor health scare with Twig, and then I came down with step throat. It seem to come out of no where and it hit hard too. Fever, chills, the works. Fortunately, the kids didn't get it so maybe it was really just a from of "stress throat", but I had to take antibiotics anyway. 

All of this, and I am trying very hard to keep my stress at bay around the kids. Sure I have moments where I fall short, but I am trying to shelve how overwhelmed I am for when I am not with them. So when we are together we can still have some semblance of a summer. Yesterday I took them out to dinner and when I am in the middle of them, holding both thier hands, I feel magic. A sense of calm comes over me because I feel the current of love flow between us. It feels then that I have all I need and that as long as we are all solid and strong then whatever roof over our head that's coming (barring there is actually one coming) will be more than adequate for us. 

After I got the kids into the car I noticed a woman waiting to pull into my spot. I quickly looked for my key to start the car but couldn't find them. I walked to the other side to look and realized I still had this little monkey mask sitting on the top of my head. I had put it on to try and distract my son while I strapped him in. The woman was still waiting but pulled back to get into a different spot behind us. She had obviously found a better bet than waiting on me. When I finally found my keys she had already parked and started walking by my car. Instead of giving me a dirty look for making her wait she smiled and said " you have your hands full". I smiled back at her and agreed, then she added " but in a good way." I agreed!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Day

Well folks, this is the end of Kindergarten! My baby has hit yet another milestone. These stones are coming down so hard and fast it's hard not to hurt a little. There were all sorts of gut wrenching but perfectly beautiful end of the year celebrations, and I only fell more in love with the school she is attending. Any apprehension I had about Kindergarten all drifted away pretty early on. Sure there were some minor bumps along the way but they were all relatively easy to deal with. Each day at drop off was different. Separation anxiety came and went in phases for her.  There were some tearful mornings as late as May so that might just be her "thing" that will follow her for a while. She had a couple of "Mean Girl" moments when girls were asking to sit next to Miss Popular of the class and she got denied a couple of times, but her confidence was strong enough that she stopped asking and did her own thing. There were also the few times someone commented on her food or that they could see her underwear when she was wearing a dress. I was ready to attack but they were all normal elementary school events that came and went quickly. Just like the year.

There was a slide show that was put together for Young Author's day. The event took place in the morning at the start of the school day and each child read something they wrote, Twig wrote about her little friend in London and as soon as the other kids began to read she decided she wasn't going up which was fine. She was a little afraid of getting up in front of grown ups with a mic. Hand it to her in front of a crowd of kids though and she will put on quite a show. After the kids read we watched the slide show. It had a picture of each kid on the first day, and then showed every fun. exciting, assembly or activity that was organized throughout the year. Every child was beaming between the accomplishments and achievements they had successfully accomplished all year. Looking back it was hard not to get emotional. Kindergarten was exactly what it was meant to be. A transition from preschool into the higher grades. The kids had their own yard, buildings, and lunch area away from the bigness of the rest of the school. Now she has completed that transition and it feels a little daunting to throw her in with the big kids. 

Every kid has strengths and weaknesses. As a parent, my goal is to learn where my kids are strong and where they need a little help and then support but not save them through the hard times. It has been a lot of learning this year for sure. I am honing in on the tools that work best for MY kid and not necessarily what the best parenting book thinks. First grade will be interesting for many reasons. After a possible move to a new home, she will soon after start school and have another big move from the rug to a desk, and the possibility at an entirely new school. I know that once she gets over the initial newness and then the daily goodbyes, she is a quick study and will be fine. I am still learning that for myself. Here we go! What's next is not clear but I am proud of her for this amazing year and look forward to first grade fun!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Upswing

"It's a phase" is what every mother hears when they are complaining about child behavior issues. Mostly I hear it from my mother or mother in law. For the most part they are correct too. It's just that when you are getting hit in the face repeatedly or your child goes boneless each time you say "no", you can't help but ask yourself what their problem is, and how long will it last. A phase isn't a very specific amount of time, and patience is a challenge when dealing with head butts and tantrums.

I am writing this moment though to remind myself in future trying times that my daughter right now is amazing! Last week she was so challenging emotionally. There were a lot of meltdowns and crying over issues that didn't seem worth a whine but instead got hysterics. She has always been sensitive about separation but at some point would get over it, but last week the end of the school year she had trouble saying goodbye in the morning, and trouble going out to her gymnastics class from the waiting room. At one point last week I got very stern with her, looked her in the eyes and said "enough." I am not exactly sure if that had a single drop of influence on her or she was just done with being moody, but she has been easygoing this whole week.

We went to the merry go round yesterday and arrived fifteen minutes after it closed. My hands began to sweat as I dropped the bad news and much to my surprise she said "bummer" and asked if she and her brother could run around instead. Total shocker. This week had been a full one with all of the end of the year culmination celebrations and exhibitions. She had open house at school where we saw all of the work she has been doing, a gymnastics exhibition, and the school fair.  Between those there has been a lot for her to be proud of, and a lot for us to be proud of her for. She has had quite a wonderful year and it shows.

Kindergarten offers so much newness, between having fish in the class, worms, snails, caterpillars, and getting to bring home and hatch the caterpillars into butterflies was really beautiful. The last segment of the year was the farm, and the class had an incubater and twelve eggs. Over three weeks the children watched the eggs and waited. They waited for a peck a crack, a sign that a little chick would really hatch from the eggs. It became a curiosity for all the families as well. We peeked our heads in daily to see if anything was happening. One day it all began and one chick made it's way out, a little wet, fuzzy yellow fluff was first followed by ten more.

We were invited to throw our names into the hat to take two chicks home and Twig begged. I had no compelling reason to turn her down so I said "yes." So as I write this I am sitting next to Chicken Little, and Chicken Big and they are sharing my office with me for a few weeks until we take them to a farm. So I suppose we are technically the foster farm but that turns my stomach a little and is likely the reason I haven't had any eggs for the past few weeks, other than that everyone is happy.

The gymnastics show was great, and she showed no sign of stage fright and even seemed to like showing off to us. She also wanted to get up and sing at the school fair but there is time for that later. She completed terrific works in school and was a charming host at open house. She is a pleasure to be with right now and I can't soak her in enough. We are really enjoying our time together right now. The good, bad and the ugly -- it's all a phase, right?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two. Oh Boy!!

I don't know how its possible that you are two already. As your birthday approached I kept having to remind myself that you are actually turning two and not one. It seems that you stayed a baby for a much shorter time than your sister. When she was born, I was concerned with every detail. hoping I was doing it all "right." When you came along I wished I could have been a second time mom, first time round. With you I was at ease. Even in the most hectic moments, I already knew I could do something that resembled a good job, and you would come out okay.

The day you were born two years ago was a Saturday and it wasn't easy getting you out. It was long and exhausting. When your sister was born I was fascinated that an experience so painful could be followed immediately with such joy. It was the best day of my life and I was excited to have that same experience with you. But you weren't quite as ready and so by the time I held you, we were both so tired. I knew I loved you right away, but to be honest with you, I just wasn't sure who you were then and so it took time for my feelings to grow deeper. I hadn't been away from your sister that much until then and I was overwhelmed wondering how I would have enough love for both of you. 

My boy, it didn't take long for me to fall hard for you. My heart just expanded and seemed to open a reservoir I didn't know I had. Things were hectic at times and I certainly didn't get to sit and stare at you the way I did first time around, but you didn't mind.  You had your sister to follow around and she made you shriek happy screams. You made such a wonderful addition to our family. Seeing your daddy play with you warms me every time. I am sentimental about this milestone and tears have come to my eyes a few times today already. 

Mother's often get sad on the happiest days for their children. I know the reason is because we feel our babies are getting further and further from being our babies. Change isn't easy for everyone and just as one thing settles another seems to shift. I am making an active decision to celebrate today. First off, I am so much more comfortable now than on the day you were born, so that's cause for a party right there.

Mainly I just want to celebrate you though. You amaze me, as I watch you speak new words everyday. I love how everything is an adventure for you since it's all so new. We could take a walk up a path and you will stop and notice bugs, lizard, rocks, and sticks and that small path makes you so happy. When you get in the car I need to leave a few extra minutes so that you can go "beep beep" which really means just sitting in behind the wheel and pretending to drive. You love cars, trains, trucks, anything with wheels. Your laugh is grand and infectious. I absolutely love the time I have to spend with you and am so grateful to be able to treasure it.

So on this day, as the sound of your feet grow louder and your steps faster, I want to celebrate what is ahead. It's only getting better and better. Sure, I lose my little baby but I gain a little boy.  A small person who, when you hold my hand, makes me melt a little each time. So as your journey continues, please know that I will forever be yours. I love you. Here we go, "Beep, beep!"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week

This school year is so quickly coming to an end that somehow I lost track of time and a week slipped by. I had signed up to do yard duty, a responsibility that includes wearing an orange vest and standing in the Kinder yard making sure the wee ones don't escape before school. I had it written in my calendar but somehow thought it was the following week. There were no five year old escapees reported so I think it's ok, but it made me stop and take a closer look at my calendar. 

Sure enough I was one week behind schedule for a few things. I thought teacher appreciation week ways a week later but it was rapidly approaching. What is teacher appreciation week, you might be asking. Well so was I. I am a room parent in my daughter's Kindergarden class. We are only rookie moms in this room, so we've all spent this year learning the system. It's May and I am just now starting to get it. The classroom next to us has room parents that have older kids in the school and so they make being a room parent look like a piece of cake. 

Teacher appreciation week is when you go above and beyond to thank your child's teacher for what they've done throughout the year. I saw the email that went out for the other room, and the plans they had for gifts. I quickly had to channel my inner Martha Stewart. We were "supposed" to (which really means you better or you will look really lame compared to other rooms) give the teacher a gift each day of the week. When I saw the corny play on words and expensive gift cards tucked in sweet little envelopes, I had to conjure up a unique plan.

I went on pintrist and nearly puked at the elaborate projects that moms somewhere in this country seem to have enough time to think up. I'll spare the details as you can simply check it out if you are so inclined. I did steal a few nice, simple ideas though. Each child will pick flowers from their garden and we will present their teacher with a very large vase. I love to bake so I will put something sweet together and throw it into a Mason jar and voila: crafty. I will also orchestrate the grand finale of the week and present her with a bowl of apples with a contruction paper leaf attached to each one. The kids are working on writing sentences about how special their teacher has been to them this year. We gave her a gift card too, so if she doesn't want sweets or apples with toothpicks stuck inside, she can at least go shopping at Bloomingdales.

Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled with how this year has gone. My daughter couldn't be happier at school and we all love her teacher very much. I am grateful for how well she led the children to love reading, writing and math and introduced learning in such a positive light. The daily activities and creative projects put my apple bowl to shame. Teachers work hard!  But teachers get paid and have a set amount of hours they have to be with our kids. After that it's all me. So how come Mother's day is only one day, once a year? Just saying!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Loose Tooth

Back in November, I wrote about taking Twig to the dentist, seeing her permanent teeth in the X-ray and wondering what her face will look like when they grow in. The dentist told her, based on how far up they were, that she would probably have to wait a year or two before her baby teeth started to fall out. She was disappointed to hear this news since many of the children in her class have already begun to lose their baby teeth. At school they have a song, a sticker and even a cool necklace that they get when a pearly white falls out during the school day.

Since that day, the subject of whether or not the tooth fairy is real keeps coming up. We carefully ask her what she thinks... sadly she says she thinks the tooth fairy is us, her parents.  I don't say yay or nay on that one. From time to time she shows me that she has a unwiggly tooth and I'll entertain the idea and say "maybe", but it was never really wiggly...  until this week. She was sitting on the rug and again wanted to show me her tooth. My husband went to check thinking it would be pretty firmly in it's spot and found it to actually be lose! The dentist was wrong!  I couldn't believe it, since I wasn't ready for this milestone to be anywhere near 5 years old.

Recently at a birthday party, a mother who helps out in the classroom came up to me to tell me about Twig. She said she was sitting next to her one day and said she wanted to know the truth about the tooth fairy. She asked if she was real or just your parents. This mom didn't reply with my standard "well, what do you think?" Instead she told her that the tooth fairy was in fact very real. She went for the magic all the way. In wanting to be genuine and honest with my daughter I felt like it would have been a lie if I said it, yet I so appreciated this mom for her answer.  She gave Twig hope that there was a chance it could be real, when she apparently had some serious doubts. 

I don't think there's any serious iharm in some healthy confusion over the matter. A doubting Thomas is a very key part of religion. I think defining your own opinion is a skill every person needs to hone. So here our fantasy tooth fairy journey begins. I will have her write a note to leave under her pillow with her tooth. In the meantime I׳m trying to get the tooth fairy to tell me what her going rate it is. While we׳re all waiting, I'm fielding questions like "Will I wake up when she is here"?  I reply with assurance that the tooth fairy will only come when she is fast asleep. Let's hope for all our sakes that at least that part rings true.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Little Shakey!

This morning I laid in bed, half asleep, my boy in my arms and my husband asleep next to me. Our daughter was asleep in the next room and the building began to shake. It was loud and strong. I pulled my son closer to me and he squirmed in fear, then seem to fall back a sleep. I yelled to my husband, "Go get her" and he leaped from the bed, grabbed her and put her in ours. I was scared and my body was still shaking long after the shaking had stopped. I held him on my left and he held her on my right. My son was still and his breathing on my chest was such a comfort to me. My daughter reached her hand out and we all lay connected together. I began to calm down.

This was my first big earthquake. It turned out that we were right near the epicenter. It prompted many questions from our daughter. She said she was awaken by the noise and then looked at her mirrored closet and wondered why they were shaking. It was such a strange experience for all of us, that I would describe as surreal, except it wasn't: it was very real. The ground literally shaking from under you makes you realize how very vulnerable we are. On the same day on the other sides of the world Chile experienced a quake much bigger and much more damaging. It was kind of unbelievable that here in California ,we shook for a bit and in our house some picture frames fell, a vase with flowers, and the water from the fish bowl spilled. We cleaned it up and went about our day. It could have been so much worse. I felt so grateful to resume normalcy, but not without recognizing that we were all very lucky.

For a good half hour, the four of us stayed huddled in bed together. I thought about people in far away lands who sleep in a family style bed. This was the first time I ever envied them. If another quake happened we wouldn't be separate. As we lay together my son eventually opened his eyes. After a minute he heard his sister near him and popped his head up. It didn't matter what kind of mayhem came earlier, he was so thrilled to see her. I lifted him into the middle so they were next to each other and they began to cuddle and giggle. The morning started in a way that I hope doesn't happen again anytime soon, but the way it ended was such a strong reminder of what I have to hold on to. So precious is my family to me. I hope it doesn't take another earthquake to share such a wonderful start of the day like today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


There are certain kids that come over my house to play and I cringe when I hear how they speak. They are crass and rude and somehow any respect for adults is rarely shown. My hair stands on end, and immediately I am planning on what I will say to my daughter when these kids leave to undo the negative she has learned.

I am aware that my prudish behavior is just a lame effort to keep her innocent as long as possible. I know I am swimming again the tide here. Already she came home singing some little thing about "copping a squeezey," and I know at 5 she doesn't know what that means yet but still its weird to hear sing it. Also, there are common terms for things like body parts and bodily functions that my husband and I were not allowed to use growing up, that we agreed she wouldn't use either. Somehow though everyone else thinks its okay and so thats another uphill battle. The other day we were outside and she had just a bathing suit bottom on and a neighbor from Africa commented to her that she is like a real African woman with her "boobies" out. As she walked away my daughter asked me what she said. I didn't feel like teaching her the word or make her feel any shame for walking around "free" as she says. I also know that one of these kids that she sees at school will teach her all of these things in no time. For now though I am glad she calls them breasts. I am not opposed to other terms, but all in due time.

Friends are also responsible for telling my kids what is real or not real apparently. My husband already alluded to the fact that Santa was maybe not real and she ran with that since she was never a fan of the idea of a strange man with a beard randomly showing up in her house. That being said I know many children believe in him, as well as the tooth fairies, leprechauns and the Easter bunny. We decided to ask her what she thinks instead of just telling her what to believe and she said she doesn't believe any of it is real. I explained that if she doesn't thats okay but its still fun to pretend. It also something she needs to be sensitive about and can't be that kid who goes around bursting other kids make believe dreams. The other day there was a child here who first told her that leprechauns were only pretend but then 15 minutes later they were running around finding "little leprechaun." When this kid left Twig asked me for the truth again.

Somewhere along the way everyone finds out the truth, and somewhere along the way everyone hears and tries every crass curse word out there. I am just trying to keep her from growing up faster than she needs to. I appreciate that growing up a Jewish girl who didn't celebrate Christmas, my dad still ordered a phone call from Santa to come to me at my house. It was fun and I was so excited when I heard my name spoken by him. I loved the tooth fairy too, even when I accidentally got a $20 bill one night and my dad said the tooth fairy had made a mistake. I realized my dad was the tooth fairy but I still liked the visit when I lost a tooth. We are all still trying to figure out what we believe and what we don't. Some of us think G-d made the world and others have been trying to burst their bubble on that one all through history. If it makes you feel good then feel free to believe, and if you don't just don't ruin it for the rest. If I can teach my kids this, they are way ahead of the game.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tough Guy

I spend my days with guy and I am pretty sure that some of the ways he treats me would have been major red flags back in my dating days. He yells at me, rips my clothes when he wants to get under my shirt, acts out in public, keeps waking me up and not won't let me go back to sleep. It does border on abusive. He keeps doing all these things day in and day out and I just keep forgiving and forgetting because I will love him forever.

This of courses is my toddler I am writing about so this behavior comes with the territory. I am not complaining about it either but it dawned on me recently that it is my job to teach him to be a well behaved so that he will one day become a good man. Here is my chance to make a good guy that some other young person can meet one day and hopefully not be crushed by. I also realize as I type this that it is likely that my two children will likely have their hearts broken in addition to breaking hearts, but I hope that who ever hurts them was raised to let em down easy. 

Its hard to imagine my children as adults but making good people starts now and so I face this challenge as patiently and lovingly as possible. I do warn anyone out there who breaks my kids hearts though. I put a lot of time into these two, so I might just have to get all helicopter on you if you decide to get mean for no reason. Just saying, these are my babies!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Still!

Last week I got an email from a friend that was basically a chain letter, but instead of being for recipes or karma it was for inspirational passages quotes or mantras. The most time-consuming part of doing it was cut and pasting the information and resending it on to a selected group who wouldn't be annoyed at you for getting such an email. I passed on a mantra I heard after having both my babies, "I am safe, I am healthy, I am at ease." My midwife shared it with me, and at the time I was in no way at ease, I repeated it countless times to help myself believe that at least the possibility existed. Feeling safe and healthy weren't my strongest feelings at the time either, and I do believe chanting this to myself helped.

I also received an email from some spiritual newsletter that I mostly delete but for some reason, decided to read this time. It was about how many people are so afraid to do nothing. We busy ourselves all the time so we don't have to be still. It went onto say that being still is hard for most people because it scares them. I never equated fear with my inability to sit still, but I suppose it is possible. After all, so many of us spend so much money to go on vacation to lie down and be still somewhere else. I do feel challenged on days we decide to stay home on the weekends that we won't "do" enough. I am sure I am creating monsters in my kids with the idea that there has to be an activity at all times. I recently been much better at relaxing but it seems counterintuitive that it should take work.

My husband and I talk all the time about where our next move with be. We are obsessed with discovering new houses online and exploring new neighborhoods. We fantasize about owning a house with a pool and guest house, and talk about what amazing new things we could do if only we lived closer to… Since obsessing is something I don't need any practice doing I can spin out on this whole move thing. The truth is that there is nothing we can do right now at all. We haven't even put our home on the market and we are, for the moment, staying here. I also happen to love things about where we are. Walking my daughter to school everyday, walking my boy around the pretty streets, our incredible view, and how idillic it feels here. Sure there are a bunch of reasons that it doesn't work for us but for right now I am choosing to love it. "Bloom where you are planted" as they say. I didn't get that from one of the chain responses but it is fascinating how many of them are all about not worrying, living in the moment, and having faith that it will all work out.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Something To Worry About

I try to write every week, but every so often it seems impossible to get a free moment to sit down to write. Last week was one of those weeks. Monday, both children were home with the stomach bug, for the second time this season. My son somehow fell back to sleep after getting sick in his crib the night before, which is really not a fun mess to clean in the morning. My daughter went off to school but quickly came home feeling sick. We spent the next two days inside, with me juggling a sort of "rinse and repeat" dance between the two of them. By Wednesday, I was spent and missed the real world. A friend called me to tell me that she felt she had "broke" her child when she asked her to do her homework and her daughter started to meltdown. I had never heard that expression before but I was sure that I had broke mine as well, just minutes before she called.

About two months back, I noticed my daughter started a strange habit of sniffing and snorting repeatedly. She is five and a half now and since she was four months old she has sucked her fingers. Bad habits are not something new for her, she seems to add new ones into the preexisting ones or sometimes just mixes them in rotation. She holds her stuffed lamb "Ba" and rubs his tail on her nose, or switches the sounds of sucking she makes when she sucks her fingers, or will change the way she puts her fingers into her mouth. She keeps it interesting, but this time this habit seemed different. When she started preschool she learned to limit her finger sucking to outside school. Little by little, she stopped doing it anywhere except at home at night or when she was upset or in the car. My husband and I never asked her to try stopping completely, as we know it is a great source of comfort for her. When she starting this new habit, I assumed it was just that: a habit. I brought it to her attention a few times and for a few minutes at a time she could focus on trying to stop it but then it would just come right back.

Wednesday when I felt I broke her, it was after I was with her for a few days straight and I listened to her snorting all day long. I snapped at one point and turned to her and said "stop!!" When she really couldn't, I realized how out of control this really is for her. My husband I talked and we are taking her in to see her Dr. today. *

Since I suffer from anxiety and a bit of OCD, ignoring is not exactly my strong suit. I, of course, have been obsessing on what a life with this disorder would mean, and then I go between the idea that "big deal she has a tic" to "holy freaking cow, is she going to keep doing this?" I hear every single sniff she takes and can't seem to tune it out. I even catch myself counting the seconds in between sometimes. Then I switch gears and talk myself into this being just a phase that will pass really soon. I also wonder how much more she will be tested with in this category. Anxiety is also genetic and I know how hard living with it is, especially when it isn't from something specific but just chemically appears one day.

As a parent I know that there will be challenges like this that come and go. If this is nothing but a passing phase, then fantastic. If it is not, we will deal with that too. Being a mother to my kids doesn't just mean taking them to good school and making them healthy meals. When I think about the things that most parents have to deal with between all their kids, a small tic is just that: small. There will be bigger things and smaller in the years ahead. As I walked around today trying to keep my thoughts calm I ran into a neighbor. She asked how everything was and I said we were all doing well. She commented on my daughter and son and how fast they were growing, and I agreed. My head was running while she spoke and then as she said goodbye she said "You are a lucky woman Shea, to have two beautiful children like these, you really are." I felt a hint of sadness from her as I know she doesn't have any children. I don't know much more than that, but I got the sense that her comment was not at all a flippant one. As I said thank you and walked away I really took it in. I am indeed lucky to have such beautiful and HEALTHY children!

*This was written a few weeks ago, and because this is the worst season I have ever experienced for illness with my two kids I was unable to post this earlier. Since writing though I have done more research and spoke to some socialists and at this age tics are quite common and most often transient. With that knowledge I have been at peace with her little sniffs. Her whining and begging are an entirely different matter, but any or all of it, she is my girl and I am so happy to have her!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


As a teenager, my life was ice skating. From the first lesson I took, I was in love. My first coach remains a dear friend to this day. I went from learning to skate backwards in that first lesson to years of skating competitions, figure skating camp and a semester of boarding school at the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid. My parents worked hard to give me the opportunity to skate. It was not a cheap sport, between lessons, ice time and equipment, but when I started skating I was happy and I felt confident, and successful. I know those qualities for a teenage girl are priceless.

My identity was tied into being a figure skater. There wasn't much else to me then and that was fine with me. I gave up the chance to go on trips with my parents in exchange for staying at my coach's house and skating. My brother lived in Japan at the time and I chose to opt out of the trip because I would miss too many days at the rink. That one trip might be my only regret. I hope to one day get to Japan, but instead my axel might be a bit better for it. Whenever we could go somewhere where there was a rink, I tagged along. There was a trip to Israel where we found the one and only rink so I could practice. My skates traveled with me everywhere.

When we came to see my dad's family in LA, I would skate at Culver City Ice Arena. I even had a coach I would take from there, as well as making some friends at the rink. Years later when I graduated college, and moved here I went back to the rink. I began to teach a few lessons there for a year or so. When a friend set me up with his friend, he decided a double date with he and his girlfriend would be fun to have at a skating rink. So my first date with "that" guy was at the Culver City ice rink. That guy is now my husband.

A few weeks ago he asked me if I had seen the news about the rink in the paper. After 52 years will close it's doors. I had already felt this sadness 5 years ago when I took him to see my old rink where I took my first lesson in NY. The rink was gone. The outside of the building was there and so was the sign but the ice had long melted. That loss was harder since my first ever lesson was there as well as the first one I ever taught. I just assumed though that I would have years to take my daughter to this rink. When I read the paper and saw why they were closing I felt more pissed than anything. The man who owns the building is practically doubling the rent on the rink managers. It is making it impossible for them to afford. There is also a pro-shop in the rink that is owned by a man named Hans. He has been there since I cam out here as a kid. I called this week to see what he will do and he said he will be out of business. He seemed shocked and upset about it. There were petitions and meetings but sadly this weekend will be the last skate for everyone.