Wednesday, May 28

I Don't Think We're in New York, Toto

We went to Storyland last weekend. Overall it was a successful trip. No meltdowns. The kids loved the rides and the shows. We all ate too much junk food. Driving up, though, we crossed the bridge just before the New Hampshire border (in this picture). Doodles was thrilled. "Look, Mommy!"

"What?" I asked.

He exclaimed happily, "It's the Triboro Bridge!"

Ah, the sense of direction of his father. Next time the kid misbehaves, I'll simply spin him around three times and threaten to make him find his own way home.


Her Father's Daughter

Me: Pie, do you know what your shirt says?
Pie: What?
Me: It says, J-A-S-O-N. And here it says V-A-R-I-T-E-K. Do you know what that spells?
Pie: What?
Me: It spells Jason Varitek. He plays for the Boston Red Sox!
Pie [giving me a look]: And he's captain, too.

Let me tell you, I didn't teach her that!

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End of School Blues

End of school year time. I'm up to my ears in projects for the preschool. I should be sleeping--I miss my sleep--but I'm too anal not to do these projects right. I'm also about to have my hands full of children. However, the prospect isn't as daunting as it seemed even a few weeks ago. Pie and I have come to some sort of unspoken agreement, and it seems to be working. (Does blogging count as speaking? If so, then it shall no longer be unspoken.) Basically, I let Pie get away with whatever she wants, and she no longer makes my life a living hell. For instance, we're skipping the "sleep in your own bed" charade. Pie goes directly to our bed, do not pass go, do not collect $200. In order to avoid jealousy, Doodles beds down in a sleeping bag on the floor of our room.

In return, I've had three--yes, three!--days of no diapers. That's right. Pie declared on Monday, "No more diapers for me, Mommy." And she's been an underwear girl since. Few accidents along the way, but nothing too serious. She's also getting much better about actually speaking to me (as opposed to grunting and temper tantruming) so we have conversations in which I can understand what she wants. She's gotten uber-polite about all sorts of things ("Mommy, thank you for getting me dressed." "Mommy, thank you for putting a towel down for me to sit on" [that last one when I didn't want to risk my chair for the sake of her underwear]).

And she and Doodles are getting along as well as ever. He's erupting into kid, and as such is giving me more grief as Pie gives me less, but overall, he's workable. There are certain things he wants that I control (TV, computer time, bike riding time, playdates), so he's willing to work the system. He's taking lots of "big kid" leaps--besides losing the training wheels, he can now tie his own shoes, read a simple book, jump into the pool without freaking, and he's attempting more foods on his own.

I've been so focused on the progress of Doodles--end of preschool, getting ready for kindergarten--that it slipped my mind until this morning that Pie is about to leave toddlerhood. She'll be an honest to goodness preschooler in a few months. Which is great. Because it means that I'll have a preschooler and a kid sleeping in my room. That's progress. Right?

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No Comment

Looking at a web site, Adam saw a shirt that read, "Speech impediments are thexthy." He laughed. "I want that shirt," he said. Then he reconsidered. "Nah. I can't get away with that kind of thing anymore."

Anymore? Uh, that's just too easy, so I'll let it go...


Wednesday, May 21

Speak and He'll Snore

Adam swears he listens to me. And yet he gives me ample proof that he's not. Then he demands, "You never told me that!" Uh, yes I did!

For instance, last night, I call Adam as I'm entering the store with the kids:
Me: Hi. I'm at Whole Foods. I'm not sure what we're having for dinner.
Adam: Did you want me to pick something up?
[Me, thinking, yeah, why don't you stop at Whole Foods and get something.]

And then, there's the infamous, "I'm not asleep!" I get from him pretty much every night when he, hey! falls asleep in his chair. We (and by "we" I mean "me" because clearly I was the only one awake) are watching BBC World News and it's talking about the U.S. presidential election. I'm trying to have a conversation with my husband about current events, but his eyes keep shutting ("I'm just resting them!")

Me: Do you still think John McCain is a little soft in the head?
Adam: Yeah. I heard him speak once in a small crowd and he really rambled a lot.
Me: Who was the wacky admiral who ran for vice president?
Adam: I have no idea who you're talking aobut.
Me: Did he run with Mondale?
Adam: I highly doubt Geraldine Ferraro was an admiral.
Me: Oh, yeah, right.

As I always do, I called my personal political pundit for clarification on this and a few other issues (in other words, Tweeds, professor extraordinaire in the political sciences). Tweeds gives me the answers I'm looking for ("He ran as Ross Perot's running mate; England still calls it Burma because they don't recognize the government that named it that. We don't either, but we still for some reason call it Myanmar; John McCain is soft in the head.") and I report back. Of course, by now those resting eyes are deep in REM, despite my husband's protests to the contrary.

Me: Did you know it was a Republican who named him Senator Hothead. Tweeds told me that one time, he was with his wife in front of reporters and she ran her fingers-- [I hear snoring coming from a certain direction]Are you listening to me?
Adam: Yes!
I look at him skeptically. Finally, I ask: What did I just say?
Adam finally opens his eyes. He responds: You said... Um... wait. I had it!

And he wonders why I always end up talking to strangers in the supermarket. It's because they LISTEN!

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Pie on Ice

I know I have a tendency to complain about my children a lot--probably because they give me so much to complain about and I'm not really one to get all sappy on folks. But humor me a moment while I kvell a moment. Last Saturday, my sporty little Pie had her first ice skating show. Her coaches had approached me about her participating last fall, and I hemmed and hawed without ever actually saying no, which they took as acquiescence. I had real reservations about letting her skate in a "competition" (at her level, Tot 2, it's not actually a competition plus she skates the whole program with her coach, so she's not alone on the ice) but she so enjoyed working on the program with her coach, I figured, "Hey, why not?"

For weeks she's been talking about the show, and it was only heightened when I borrowed a skating dress for her. "Time to wear dress?" she'd ask. "Time to go ice skating?"

Saturday finally came. We put her in her outfit, and pleased as punch we headed for the rink. It was overwhelming. It was a serious show with two rinks worth of skaters going on, and lots of noise, crowds, and cheers. Pie took one look around and her eyes went wide. I took her into the locker room, where not even Doodles was allowed in, and sat her down. At one point, I had to run upstairs to get her helmet (the photo here was taken at the end when her coach took her helmet off specifically for the picture [**Photo upload is down--it will be up when I can get it up]), I left her with one of the coaches--not hers. "Is that okay, Pie?" She gave me a wide-eyed nod. I left fully prepared to come running back at the sound of tears. There were none. I returned to find her just watching everyone. "Hey, Pie, can I take your picture?" I asked. She immediately hopped up, smiled wide, and posed like a champ. Then sat back down and watched the action. Every few minutes, she'd quietly ask, "My turn to ice skate?" and I'd say, "Not yet, sweetheart."

A half hour before she was to go on, she lined up with her coach. "No parents! All parents please return to the seats!" I didn't think they really meant me--Pie was there with a coach who wasn't her own--but they did. "Is it okay if I go upstairs, Pie?" Again the wide-eyed nod.

I go upstairs and flip through the program. Hundreds of events going on. I went through it once. Twice. Pie is the only two year old in the entire show. Finally, they announce her name. Out she goes to the far end of the rink with her coach, just the two of them, looking tiny on the ice. She stands there, and then her music starts. And she skates her little one-minute program (video, for those with the password, is up, but very hard to see). She falls. She doesn't do all her spins. But, damn! She was cute! She got so many cheers. I was so proud of her, and what's more important, she was incredibly proud of herself.

That little Pie. Feisty in all the right places. You go, girl! (Now to return to our regularly scheduled kvetching.)

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Wednesday, May 14

Run Mama Run!

This past weekend was a big running weekend for me. I went up to Alton, New Hampshire, early Saturday morning to run the Big Lake Half Marathon. Supposedly it's a very beautiful course. I'm not really sure. I didn't fuel up properly beforehand (normally I eat a peanut-butter sandwich and a banana, but since I left the house at 5 a.m. and the race didn't start till 9, my belly got all rumbly before then) and I tried to keep up with my much-faster friends for the first three miles, so by the middle, I was just kind of chugging along without a whole bunch of steam. Much more "I think I can, I think I can," than any speed engine. I did notice some very sweet houses on the lake (oh, how I want a summer home on a lake!), but other than that I was very focused on getting to the end. I did respectably: 465 (out of 1202) and 24 (out of 89) in my division. My chip time was 1:54:47 for a 8:46 pace, which is fine, but not my best. I was heartened to see that if the race were just one and a half months later, I'd have finished 20th in my division (the only reason I can see to truly look forward to turning 40 is that it bumps me up into the next age category).

As a recovery run, I decided on Sunday morning to do the Melrose Run for Women. This is the third time I've run it (fourth I've signed up, but one year the rains were so bad the course flooded and the race was canceled), and it's such a lovely run. My kids talked all week about the race they were going to run, as there's a fun run beforehand. I think Pie was disappointed because the kids' run for the under 8s was only a dash ("too short!" she said after) but she had a blast doing it. And she ran in the right direction this year! Last year was her first time running it and she kind of spun around confused. Doodles of course took off and proudly wore his ribbon afterward. I'm so psyched my kids are into running--I look forward to the day we can do full races together (remember the days, before we were married, when Adam ran with me? Ah, yes. And we were married--what? five minutes--before he announced he hated running and never laced up any running shoes again?). The race is a nice course and it's an easy 3.5 miles. I did a fine job on it, especially after the half: no chips, but my gun time was 27:11.5 for a 7.46 pace. I finished 56 out of 644.

Now I have to figure out my next races. My name is in the lottery for the NYC marathon again. If I don't get into that, I'll run the Baystate Marathon. I have a half scheduled for September, the same day my brother-in-law is getting married (and by pure coincidence, the race and the wedding are in the same town in Maine and the race is in the morning and the wedding in the afternoon. What luck!). I don't want to schedule too many other halfs until I figure out which marathon I'm running . But if anyone wants to meet up somewhere for a race, I'm generally game. The races wear me out, but in a good way, and I'm always up for another one.

Run run run. Of course there is one added benefit: Sorry, Adam. I'm really too tired after those races to put the kids to bed. Can you handle it yourself? Snooooooze.

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Nightly Prayers

Classes at my synagogue are scheduled for 8 p.m. because they want to encourage people to attend the evening minyan. Minyan is held at my synagogue twice a day (morning and night), which is important if you're saying Mourner's Kaddish, because you need a minyan to do so, but sometimes rallying ten people can be a challenge, hence starting classes after minyan.

Minyan's not so bad in the winter, when it's simply the evening service. But this time of year, because it's daylight so late, we suffer through both the afternoon and evening service. So before each class I have this dilemma: Do I go to minyan? Or stay home and help put the kids to bed? Needless to say, I've been a very good Jew lately.

Bedtime has gotten intolerable. Doodles goes to bed as easily as he ever has, but the Pie is just digging her heels in and making life miserable for us. Last night, I left the house at 7:15 for minyan. I know that Adam put the kids to bed at 7:30. I got home from my class at 9:15. And before I even had the door unlocked, I could hear the screaming.

It's this vicious cycle--she doesn't want to go to bed, she's overtired the next day making her more temper tantrum-y and unpleasant to be around, she's so overtired she can't go to sleep well... I've tried increasing naps. I've tried decreasing naps. We've tried putting her to bed earlier. We've tried putting her to bed later. Doesn't seem to matter: We're guaranteed about an hour to two hours worth of screaming (thank goodness Doodles, who shares a room with her, can sleep through it all).

She gets so worked up that she can't articulate what she wants. Sometimes it can be solved as easily as a different train from the train table next to her bed. But sometimes--like last night--it's a guessing game. Do you need a cuddle? Do you need a train? Do you need socks? What do you need?!? And there is no letting her scream it out because it seriously simply won't end.

I have another class tonight. Oh, I'm sorry, Adam. I've got to go early. They really need me for minyan....

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Wednesday, May 7

For All the Republicans Out There...

(and that includes you Adam!)


Overheard at Church

Around the corner from our house is a Catholic church with a great big lovely empty parking lot. Adam took Doodles over to it to learn to ride his bike. Yep, the training wheels are off, and so is Doodles. All that boy wants to do is ride, ride, ride!

From what Adam tells me, there was another family there with a six-year-old who was also learning to ride sans training wheels. The Friendliest Brown was chatting away, telling this family his life story. And a fascinating life story it is.

After a while, Doodles became tired and Adam was bored so they began to leave the church parking lot to head home. Apparently, one of the other parents called otu to Doodles, "Bye! Perhaps we'll see you here again!"

Doodles wrinkled his nose and replied, "I don't think so. We're Jewish."


Yom Ha'tzmaut

Warning: This is one of those long self-indulgent posts probably most interesting (or not!) to family.

So today is the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence, which isn't normally a topic I'd blog about (as I, last post excepted, do tend to shy away from anything political int his blog), however...

Our synagogue had a big shindig tonight (and guess--out of the hundreds of people there tonight--who was the absolute first on the dance floor? Can you say Dancing Pie and her buddy Dancing Jasmine?) and I submitted some photos for the slide show that are just way too embarrassing to not share with you guys. Actually, this first trip was in a good phase. One of the few. That's me and my cousin Oliver in Sfat. That trip was--gasp!--thirty years ago, and it's easy to remember because we were there for Israel's 30th independence day (and for those doing the math, I was not quite ten at the time). Oliver and I traveled with my grandparents on a UJA (United Jewish Appeal) trip that was done in a first-class kind of style. I can't be sure, but I do seem to recall staying at the King David hotel, which was pretty fancy shmancy. Before the trip, my grandmother deemed that my fashion sensibility was lacking, so she insisted that we go to Jordan Marsh for a complete new wardrobe. Even then I wasn't a fan of shopping and I didn't completely get why my clothes all had "G"s on them (my grandmother apparently was a fan of Givenchy at the time). Things I remember most about the trip: taking turns with my cousin wearing my grandfather's gold necklace; being terrified on a camel ride, which my grandfather found humorous; a man on the street in Sfat making a tin picture of a deer for me and my grandfather tipping him and telling me, "Nothing's for free in this world"; getting a plastic hammer that made noise when you bonked people on the head with it during the independence celebrations, but I was too short and I hit someone--hard--with the plastic part; dancing the hora in the streets with my grandmother; and the way my grandmother would smile coyly and say, "Oh no! I'm not their mother. I'm their grandmother," as if she didn't know people would be confused by the fact that we called her Ema, which is Hebrew for Mom.

Oh dear lord, there it is!! Yes, I did dress like this as a sixteen year old (that's me on the left). The scary thing is, even dressed like this, I never had a problem dating. Or maybe it's because I dressed like this I never had a problem dating? Who knows? [Side note: I recently had reason to go through my high school yearbook. Dear God, we were a John Hughes movie come to life!] Anyhoo, when I was sixteen, I convinced my grandparents to send me to High School in Israel (not that it was all that hard--my parents are well known for their Jewish apathy and my grandparents were desperate to get to us grandkids any way they could. I distinctly remember my grandfather saying to me at Oliver's bar mitzvah, "You know, if you had a bat mitzvah, you could get all these presents, too! You'd get a lot of money if you had one"). I have extremely mixed feelings in retrospect about the High School in Israel program: there was a more than fair amount of brainwashing involved, however, it was one of the first school programs to truly engage me. I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that I was not a stellar student as a youth (my best buddy in high school, Eric, who I should say went to Princeton and is now a cardiologist, wrote in my yearbook [as I just rediscovered] "Sometimes your frivolity annoys me and sometimes your irrational moodiness drives me crazy, but I love you anyway," but I digress), and High School in Israel was the first time I realized that studying could actually be interesting. Some of what I remember about the trip is: the eggs. The damn hardboiled eggs. I was a vegetarian, and those stupid eggs were pretty much all I could eat. I remember Shlomo who sold falafels from a cart out back, but they weren't always in the budget. I remember not quite grasping my budget because at the time the Israeli currency was spiraling out of control and something that was 100 shekels at the beginning of the summer was 500 shekels at the end. I remember the cute Israeli soldiers who lived on campus who seemed so old to me; thinking that the hike up Masada was incredibly long and hard; going out with my twentysomething cousin to a bunch of bars and parties (no drinking age in Israel) and while we were on our way to the umpteenth party at about 3 or 4 a.m., telling him I just couldn't take it and I had to go to sleep, and his surprise and disappointment at having to go home early; sitting in the desert and having a teacher tell me, "This is where Abraham buried his foreskin"; and the Zionist zeal that I was indoctrinated with, to the point where I returned home and told my parents that I was going to grow up to become an economist and save the Israeli economy.

Shall we flash forward twelve years? I'm not an economist. I didn't save Israel. I do have an MFA in creative writing, a boyfriend who thinks we should become engaged, and no real prospects for an actual paying job. So what's a girl to do? Run off and join a kibbutz! Well, not exactly join, but volunteer at for four weeks. Hmmm, make that six weeks. As long as I'm here, let's just make that two, no four, okay six and a half months. That trip was a whirlwind and not something easy to summarize here. It's been the fodder for plenty of writing (one of my favorite essays on it appeared here). I picked kiwis, managed (almost) irrigation lines, decided that the boyfriend was not for me (aren't you happy I went on that trip, Adam!), drank lots of beer, realized just what babies those Israeli soldiers are, gave up being a vegetarian, traveled, wrote, figured out my life, and generally had the Israel experience I was looking for.

And now? Now even that trip is eleven years past. Now I've shed the glasses (yea, Lasik!), lost the hummus-olive-oil-labanah pounds (yea, Weight Watchers!), married, procreated, and am planning my fourth (but never final!) trip to Israel, this time with family in tow. And who knows? Maybe for Israel's 90th independence day, Pie will be posting on her blog: "And this is from my first trip to Israel, when I was three. I was in a good phase then, still with the curly hair and chubby cheeks..."

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