Thursday, December 31, 2009


Reflecting back over the past 12 months I can't point to any monumental changes. But life has changed. My girls are growing - so fast! - and every minute of every day are becoming distinct people with unique personalities.

Some highlights
  1. Celebrating LP being diaper free all day - and all of the night

  2. Stopping nursing!

  3. Sleeping through the night

  4. Throwing LP her first "real" birthday party

  5. Enjoying our first vacation as a family of four

  6. Signing LP up for ballet

  7. Seeing my girls become best friends

  8. Spending a night away from my children for the first time in a long time

  9. Watching time fly

  10. Loving motherhood, family, friends and getting by the best way I can - with a smile

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On the Brink

Now that Christmas is over, things are settling back down. LP will finally return to Stew's in the daytime, now that Santa Claus has moved back on to the North Pole. So, of course, we have started focusing on the next holiday - New Years!

The Hoos and I have been struggling to explain the concept of the New Year to LP. "Well, right now it is 2009 and on Friday it will be 2010." Her blank stare and questioning shrug pretty much say, "So what?"

My new tack is to tell her all of the things that will happen in 2010. For example, "You know what happens in the New Year? You turn 4!" This she gets. "Yay! I will be four! And then the next year I will be five and then I will go to kindergarten!"

Then I get nauseous. Seriously, kid, hold your horses. You turn four in MAY. And you don't start kindergarten until September of 2011. Then I think, oh. my. goodness. How is it even possible that kindergarten is that close!! This is my baby. Okay, not my baby, my big girl. But she isn't big. She is three and a half. Deep breaths, deep breaths. She is three and a half. And nothing is going to change come Friday, January 1, 2010...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Enough, Young Enough

The Hoos and I are avid watchers of a few television shows. We enjoy Lost, Glee, Psych, How I Met Your Mother and a handful of others every week. Then there are"filler shows," those that we have set up on the DVR to watch when our regularly scheduled shows are on hiatus. Monk is one of those shows (so is CSI Miami, but we watch that more for comic relief).

I realize that the viewing audience of Monk tends to skew "mature," so while I might be immature, I guess I am getting OLD. Oh, and we have stopped DVR'ing Miami because, well, Men of a Certain Age is on at the same time. Have I mentioned that I am OLD?

Anyway, we have been catching up on the final season of Monk and last night we finally caught up. We watched Part I of the two part finale. And then realized that either the DVR didn't tape, or we had accidentally deleted, the series finale.

Fortunately, I am young enough to have heard of this thing that all the kids use to watch TV - Hulu. You can watch most already aired television shows for free - with minimal commercials (maybe 3-4 15-second commercials scattered throughout). Even better, I had my laptop at home. So, while the Hoos got ready for bed, I tracked down the missing show and got it set up on the laptop. We hunkered down into bed and snuggled up with my computer to catch up.

This is the first time I have watched a television show on my laptop. Well, if you don't count watching Dr. Horrible, which was more of a mini-Internet-only TV show with the double awesomeness of Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion (who is in Castle, the other show that I watch at 10 on Mondays, ergo, the bumping of Miami). Regardless, I don't plan on making a habit of it. But it is nice to have a back-up plan...and two hoodlums to keep me young.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Setting the Record Straight

Some responses to questions and comments non-Christian people tend to get this time of year (more than you think!).

"Merry Christmas!" "Merry Christmas!" I accept and respond to this salutation in the spirit it was intended, as a tiding of good cheer. No need to dampen any one's enthusiasm.

"Don't you feel like you are missing out?" Do you feel like you are missing out on Rosh Hashana or Ramadan?

"Don't you celebrate Christmas even a little bit?" Again, no. We don't put up lights or a Christmas tree, we don't give our kids Christmas gifts. We might attend a friend's Christmas party or send out holiday cards and we participate in gift exchanges, etc., but we don't celebrate Christmas.

"That will change when your kids get bigger." No, it won't. You don't celebrate holidays to accommodate your children or fit in. Christmas is not our holiday. My kids already know they are Jewish and while I am sure there will be times where they will be "Christmas-curious," they love and value our traditions and celebrations and are proud to be Jewish.

"But I know Jewish people that celebrate Christmas." Just because they do, doesn't mean that every Jewish person does or should.

"But Christmas isn't even really a religious holiday anymore." It doesn't really matter what the holiday is intended to represent or has evolved to represent, it still isn't my holiday.

"What are you going to do on Christmas Day?" Typically? Pretty much nothing. This year we are going to an event at a local Jewish Community Center. They have activities (bounce houses, art projects, etc.) set up for the kids so we all don't go stir crazy.

Happy holidays everyone! No matter what you do or do not celebrate - I hope you get to sleep late.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Logistical Nightmare and Sweet Dreams

The other night LP woke up at 1:45 am for no apparent reason. She wasn't crying, she didn't claim to have a nightmare, she was just awake. She showed up at our bedside four times in 15 minutes. Each time the Hoos and I would patiently walk her back her room and coax her to return to the warmth of her bed. It was not until the Hoos' final trip that she actually stayed put.
Yesterday, at a more decent hour, I asked him what he had said to get her to agree to go back to sleep. "I told her that she wasn't being fair and that Mommy and Daddy needed sleep too." Really? He was using logic with a 3.5 year old? And it worked?

On the sweet side, AK continues to transform into one of the cutest little people you have ever seen. The other night she and LP were playing so nicely together all I wanted to do was watch instead of using the opportunity to accomplish things. AK would call out, "Night-night, Didi!" and LP would lay down on the floor with her head on a couch cushion. AK would then cover her gently with a blanket, taking several attempts to cover her completely - AK is a bit of a perfectionist. Little sister would than bend down over her big sister and rub her back, singing "Night-night, Didi."

Yesterday the Hoos had two silly stories to share from his adventures in getting the girls to school. First, he was so impressed that AK was pointing to her head and saying "head." She really does know all of her body parts. So much so that when the Hoos clapped and told her she was doing a good job, she pointed a bit lower and cried out, "Boobies!" He tried to convince her that she meant "belly" and moved her hands a bit lower, but she was having none of it, "Boobies!" I guess she is learning from her sister after all.

Once they arrived at school, AK continued to show the Hoos what a strategist she is. She ran to the open side of her classroom that was devoid of children. She immediately grabbed three baby dolls and clutched them to her chest before a teacher nabbed her and brought her over to the side with the rest of the children. She then positioned herself in a corner, holding the babies tightly as her friends began circling. One at a time they would reach out a hand to try to requisition the babies and were waved (and screeched) off by my tiny munchkin. She was having none of it, having obviously learned how to fend for herself against LP.

Which leads me to my last "story" of the post, pick up time. When AK and I entered LP's classroom, the students were sitting on the floor in a circle playing a matching game. LP wasn't really interested in leaving. AK didn't mind hanging out. She thinks she belongs in LP's classroom anyway. LP called AK over and the little peanut slowly backed herself up and sat in LP's lap. LP was so proud, calling out, "Hey! Look at [AK]! Look at [AK]!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Learned it by Watching YOU, Dad!

Remember those Public Service Announcements? Am I dating myself?

I really think that nature and nurture strike a delicate balance in our house.

As is typical of a Monday morning, no one in our house wanted to get out of bed. Over the weekend, LP arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at my bedside around 7:15. Today, not so much. It is like she has already joined the working world of people that dread Monday.

The Hoos snoozed for at least half an hour, finally getting up way closer to 8 than he should have. The ladies also slept in, both of them waking close to 8:30. Fortunately, day care had a two-hour delayed opening, so we didn't really need to rush. But if it had been a "normal" Monday - it would have been a real bummer.

AK loves the snow. Both girls are really enjoying the new sled they got on the last night of Chanukah (good timing, eh?). AK loves the snow so much that she refuses to keep her gloves on. All she wants to do is pick it up and eat it. Which is okay for nice, clean snow. Not so much for the snow that accumulates on the bottom of her shoes. This is NOT learned behavior.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Can't Party All the Time

Tuesday night was my department dinner for work. That left the Hoos in charge of picking up, feeding, entertaining, bathing, and getting the girls to bed. He called me as he drove to pick them up (I was still at the office) and as I went to hang up after our brief conversation he called out, "AMY!!! WAIT!!! What do I give them for dinner?!" Mommies RULE!

The dinner was fine. I wouldn't recommend the restaurant (Frankie and Johnny's Steakhouse in Rye, NY) but the company was good and it was nice to interact with folks I don't normally see too much of. There were a few odd moments - e.g., the VP of our group referencing mud wrestling in regards to two of my cute, young, female co-workers, another co-worker fawning over my dad and telling me that is was okay if LP and AK didn't visit the office as long as my dad did (EWWWWW!!!).

When I got home a little after 9, the Hoos was still upstairs putting the finishing touches on bed time. He wasn't happy about it. Apparently it had been a rough night of multiple meal choices and general debauchery. Pretty much a normal night in my book. Fortunately, the girls slept well; unfortunately, my waiter hadn't understood the difference between regular and decaf I was up and wired all night.

Last night was the Hoos' department dinner. I was a bit worried since I was already exhausted and the girls had given the Hoos such a tough time the night before. I shouldn't have worried. By 8:30 they were both nestled in bed and I was back on the couch with my late dinner.

Around 9:30 I packed myself up and headed upstairs to watch TV in bed. The Hoos arrived home shortly thereafter but I was determined to get some sleep. Too bad I ended up laying awake until after 2. I have an annoying cold (the kind where snot forgets to stop in my sinuses or where ever for some extra mucus to make it viscous and instead just drips out of my nose like water from a leaky faucet) and apparently some sort of mental block against sleep. AWESOME.

Right now I am treating myself to my first white hot chocolate of the season. Full of fat but oh so yummy. I deserve it. Then again, I also deserve SOME SLEEP (hint, hint body).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Experiential Parenting

If asked I would say that my approach to parenting is "experiential." That is, I make decisions based on what I observe, along with some intuition and instinct.

If my girls are jumping on the bed and being nutso and you ask me if they are sick, I would respond, no. That is not to say that I would not feel their keppies (Yiddish for head) to check. (Good thing I did on Sunday, too, AK ended up having a fever.)

Going further, if my kids are sleeping peacefully and I think they might have a fever, I wouldn't wake them to confirm. I think the fact that they are sleeping is a better sign than a thermometer's reading.

Yesterday the girls did have runny noses, but they also had a great time. As LP said, "This is special that I am staying home with you because I am sick mommy." I checked each of their temperatures once during the day, just for the record, and they were both in the low 99s. The fact that they ate and bounced and drank, all led to conclude that they were a-okay.

Today they are both back at day care. They are less experiential than I am, more science based. I am hoping not to get a phone call request for pick up, but I am not counting it out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On My Own

Today I spent the day home with both my daughters. I love them, but it was a long day.

AK is usually home with me on Mondays and Fridays, plus she has a recently diagnosed ear infection that gave her an awesome fever and restless night (yay! Mommy, Daddy and AK awake from 1:30 until 3); LP has a cold, a day away from gaining and sharing germs was determined to be a good thing.

LP staying home was a last minute decision. A decision made while AK was still sleeping - she slept until 9:15. Once awake, she was jazzed to be able to spend the day tormenting and being tormented by her big sister.

I tried to get them to nap, I really did, but it wasn't happening. At 1:30 LP burst into tears, "I want to go to be-ee-ee-ddd!" I was down with that. What I wasn't down with was sitting in her room for 20 minutes while she fell asleep. I couldn't. Not with AK on the loose. And bringing AK into LP's room wasn't an option if a nap was going to happen. And since AK slept late, she wasn't about to accept being deposited in her crib while I tended to her big sister. And no one can fall asleep with an 18-month old howling bloody murder in the room next door.

So...naps didn't happen.

What did happen?

  • Lots of eating. Maybe some kids lose their appetites when they are sick, not mine. They ate pretty much non-stop.
  • Projects. But unhappy ones. LP wanted to paint and couldn't because than AK would want to paint and we can't have any of that. AK wanted Play Dough - to eat.
    Television. Sometimes. When they could agree on a show. Which was about an hour out of the entire day.
  • Dropping. LP fell asleep on the couch at 6:15 while I prepped their dinner. I got her up around 6:45 - with a lot of hard work. Even AK repeatedly pointing to LP's nose, saying "Boogies" and attempting to wipe LP's nose couldn't rouse her.
  • Creativity. Both on my part - coming up with projects is hard work! and on LP's part. She had lots of inventions - see below.
  • Mess making. OH MY GOODNESS. My house was hit by a bomb.

Some photos

Top: Playing the drums. It was LP's idea to use yarn to attach her drum to her waist

2nd: Icing cookies. Don't worry no one else is going to eat them We used store-bought cookies and chucked the tubes o' frosting. Mostly because they stopped decorating and starting mainlining sugar right from the tubes.
3rd: AK trying on her rainboots for the first (and likely only) time. I think she was inspired by LP's Chanukah gift of an umbrella.
4th: LP "egg cracker". She made it from a Super Grover lego kit and named it herself. Odd, because she doesn't even really like eggs.

Trash Talk

There once was a time when I walked past a piece of paper on the floor and kept going. Or when I saw garbage carried by the wind caught in a bush and ignored it. And then I became a homeowner. And a parent.

I used to count on MY mom or dad stopping down to clean up the detritus I left in my wake, and now it is pay back time. I can't walk from one room to another without picking something up and transporting it to its rightful spot - be it the garbage, a toy bin, the sink, the laundry pile.

Actually as I write this I am running a work camp. Both girls are home from school today with various ailments, mostly related to boogers that require mass amounts of soft tissues. LP determined half an hour ago that AK's high chair "smells di'gustin all over" and required cleaning. She then went to the closet that holds our cleaning supplies and got out a Swiffer WetJet for herself (because big sister gets the one that sprays) and a Swiffer Sweeper for AK. I am not sure they are making the house any cleaner, but it is the thought that counts, right?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chanukah in the House

Last night we had a Chanukah party. My parents and in-laws came over and spoiled the girls silly.

Top: Girls with my parents, Grandma and Papa; Bottom: LP enjoying her new art center from her Saba and Safta (my in-laws) - every picture the Hoos took of her painting looks the same, she kept posing like this, it was hysterical.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Celebrating Diversity (and the Holidays)

Next week LP's class is having a cultural diversity luncheon. Since at our day care center you can't call holidays by their real names (instead of a Halloween parade, they had a Storybook parade and had to carry a book that portrayed their "character," Valentines Day is "Friendship Day) this is its way of celebrating the holiday season.

Every family is supposed to bring in a dish that represents their culture. One child is Latino, his mom is bringing empanadas (yum); another family is bringing in Irish soda bread. I am struggling. My grandfather was German and both the Hoos and I have English and Russian ancestors, and probably Polish too, but I can't say that we regularly eat any foods that might represent these backgrounds. We are Jewish, but is that "our culture"? What am I supposed to bring in? Latkes? Matzoh ball soup? If I really wanted to be sure that LP would eat whatever I send in, I would send in bagels. Oy!

On another note, holidays mean teacher gifts. Fortunately, in LP's class I know a lot of the parents and we are all going in on gift cards. The more that participate, the more cost effective and the less likely I am to appear cheap. Which brings me to AK's class. I don't really know any other parents on her side of the classroom. I want to get them something nice, but I don't really want to spend $20+ per teacher to accomplish this. What to get? Last year I got insulated lunch bags with their name's embroidered on them. Not sure how well that was received (I only got one thank you note). Insights?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Person

Have I mentioned lately what a sweetheart my AK is? Aside from the random and incredibly loud shrieks she emits on occasion, she really is a lovely little muffin. And she is truly becoming a little individual, far from the baby she was a year ago.
  • She has named her pacifier "Buhbee." She will ask me for it, especially if she sees one on the counter.
  • If she has a buhbee in her mouth and wants something else - usually food, she will throw the paci to the floor to make room for the new item.

  • She knows that she is not supposed to have her pacifier outside of her crib; if the Hoos or I bring her into our bed in the morning and we let her keep her paci in hopes of getting more rest it will only work for a short period of time. Eventually she will slide out of our bed, run to her room, put the pacifier into her crib through the slats and run back yelling "breakfast!"

  • She has started singing my name to get my attention. It sort of sounds like Tarzan "Maaaa-aaaa-meeee!"

I'll keep her.

Top: AK now (18 mos.) and at 6 mos. Bottom: For comparison purposes LP at 18 mos. - in the same PJs no less!

Unacceptable Behavior

I am not the disciplinarian on our house. I am actually pretty bad at discipline. My response to a tantrum-throwing child is to ignore them as opposed to yelling or spanking. This is not to say that I will not yell or pick up one of my daughters and put them down with emphasis.

I do not think that my children are scared of me. I also don't think that with my girls the threat of a spanking or continuous yelling (or follow through on those) will do anything other than escalate the noise level.

I don't take tantrums or screaming from my children personally. I know they love me. I know they are having "a moment."

I usually try to pick the screamer up (unless they have done something to deserve being yelled at, causing the crying). Sometimes this results in me eventually putting them down with emphasis.

Recently my strategy has been a threat of taking something away. And then follow through. Last week LP lost the opportunity to watch Tinkerbell before bed, a new book, chapstick, and lip gloss - all in one night.

Amazingly, since then she has been much better before bed. She still might not go to sleep at bedtime, but at least she doesn't scream and cry. Instead she creeps me out, by quietly walking to the top of the stairs and waiting for me to walk by and calling out in a hushed whisper, "Mom." Better for my sanity, although she has scared the bejesus out of me twice now.

Anyone have successful strategies to share?

Monday, December 7, 2009

We Have Arrived

Yay! I finally feel like we are established here in Norwalk and have a great group of local friends that have kids, similar interests, and hectic lives. It is really nice.

Several weeks ago we hosted a few families at our house. Our house isn't big, but we can squeeze everyone in and sometimes I think people are just glad to have a place to go and things to do and not have to cook and clean, so hopefully they overlook the cozy nature of the situation.

Last night another family invited us over. The same poor family that met us at a diner with their two kids and our two kids resulting in crazy noise and chaos. I am amazed they still talk to us. After last night it may be a different story.

First, their poor dog had to be locked in a bedroom, far away from LP. Poor Finn. When we left and they let him out, he knew it was because of us and he chased me to the car.

Everything started off very nicely with all of the kids (4 3-year olds; 4 1-year olds) playing nicely together. What ensued from there included a bloody nose (not one of our kids, but very likely as a result of one of our kids pushing her way out of a door), a general mess, and eventually a crying child (AK sincerely believes that every baby doll she encounters should be hers as a general rule - tears happen when you try to remind her otherwise).

This doesn't even count the booster chair that AK dragged all over the house and out from behind several of the kids that were her size. Or LP wrestling (she called it hugging) their poor, adorable, sweet as pie, 1-year old on our way out.

We only met our friends through our kids. And quite possibly our kids will get us dis-invited.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Natural Born Cynic

We were driving to Stew's this afternoon, discussing their Santa Claus.

"Mommy, Santa sees us all the time."

Immediately Santa Clause is Coming to Town springs in to my head: He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake. I am not really sure where LP would have heard this song, so I ask her to elaborate.

"We are at the store all the time, so he sees us there."

Later as we exit Stew's avoiding the Santa, LP starts freaking out a bit. I start to say, "He is just a man in a costume," the same way we explain Clover, the Stew's cow. But I have to stop myself, realizing that that could be ruining the Santa myth for kids around me. Oops.

Blog-readers, how do parents explain the fact that there is a Santa on every corner? Same guy? A representative? Just another guy pretending to be Santa? Are they all the real deal?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Trying to pinpoint the highlight of the night. Was it:
  1. Dragging the girls to ShopRite for Van's mini-chocolate chip waffles to find out they no longer sell them?
  2. The fiasco around the poop in the bathtub?
  3. The 45 minute long tantrum at bed time?
  4. The whining that followed the tantrum?
  5. Spilling my 9pm dinner of a bowl of cereal on myself?

Lord, please help me if the highlight is yet to come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Full Moon Fever

Ever notice how the noise and chaos in your home reaches new heights when the moon is full? It is real? Is it imagined?

Last night LP was in rare form. Refusing to get into the bath, running sans-clothes around the house; refusing to get into bed; intermittently crying and yelling; getting out of bed and leaving her room well past her bedtime. UGH.

When I would ask what was wrong? "My legs hurt," indicated the areas behind her knee. Trying to get more specific she would say, "I am veined." WHAT? 1.) It doesn't make any sense and 2.) I don't know how she knows anything about veins.

Later on while I was sitting in the chair in her bedroom while she whined from the bed she told me she didn't feel well. This time, "My whole body hurts." Again, as I pressed her for more details, "It feels cracked." Again, totally a bizarre response. My confusion remained. I blame the full moon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Maybe Not

It is no secret that the Hoos would love a pet. He would settle for a reptile, but he has a soft spot for dogs (especially those that know how to clean up after themselves). AK would love it. I think any puppy that licked her on the nose might get its nose licked back. Alas, it is also no secret that LP might not be as keen of the idea.

Someone at the Hoos' office is adopting out black lab puppies. He emailed me pictures last night of the little rascals in their newspaper lined crate that I shared with LP. "Mommy, are those puppies going to grow?" I let her know that indeed the puppies would not stay small forever. Her response? "I don't want a dog that will grow. I want a kitty." Unfortunately, a cat is not an option because a.) I am not a cat person and b.) the Hoos is allergic.

When LP called the Hoos to let him know where she stood, she let it rip, "Daddy, I don't want a dog. But I would like a video of the doggies peeing on the paper."

I do not know where she gets these things. Really.

On a related note, we are supposed to go to a friends house for dinner this coming weekend. It is one of LP's best friends and she is very excited, except...

"Mommy, MK has a dog. I don't like him." I remind her that they will put the poor pup in a bedroom so he won't be in the way. "But what if I have to pee or wash my hands?" I told her that the bathroom is not in the bedroom and she should be okay, but I am not sure she believes me. We don't have a bathroom in our bedroom, so I am not really sure why she has this idea, but regardless, you can tell that she is fixated...