Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Realistic Fiction.

So I was driving with Jenna the other day in the car, and she starts telling me about the different kinds of writing they will be doing in fourth grade.  Her teacher, Ms. Lawler, is fun and enthusiastic and loving and positive, and we know how she works from when Michaela had her, and the verdict is in: we all love her.  Jenna decorated her Writer's Notebook the first week of school with great fanfare, placing pictures of puppies, kittens, peacocks (she LOVES them, she says), pandas, and little signs that say "I love my family" and "I love Disney World" (that was actually my suggestion).  All very 4th grade girl.  So Ms. Lawler has them trying out different kinds of writing and I love talking to the kids about what they write about: it's like a little window into their heads.  It shows you what events stick with them, what made an impression, what they are still processing.

(True story: a few years ago, we spent multiple thousands of dollars renting a house on Cape Cod for a week's vacation.   We hit the beach, swam in the ocean, shopped, went to museums, did a few nature hikes, mini golfed, jumped on trampolines, biked, ate multiple ice cream sundaes, and enjoyed a boat ride.  The only thing Jenna ever wrote about the whole vacation was how much she loved Cuffy's, the t-shirt store.)

"I'm writing a story of realistic fiction," Jenna tells me.
"Oooooohhh," I answer. "Are you writing about a queen named Cheryl, who is very beautiful and wears a tiara and is ruler of all she sees?"
"Mom. NO. It's REALISTIC FICTION," she answers in a huff.

I'm glad I can still make her huffy.  It's part of the fun of parenthood.

Friday, September 26, 2014

It was a Good Day.

Yesterday was a good day.

The kids were home for the first time since the beginning of school for the Jewish New Year, and we enjoyed a lazy hang around the house day.  Both girls had friends over to play with and Alec was up to his eyeballs in LEGO sets that he had opened for his birthday the day before.  (At one point, we had half-completed sets on the kitchen table, the kitchen counter, our half-wall into the family room, and random spilled pieces on the kitchen floor.)  I had the day to putz around the house, assembling LEGO pieces, half-supervising the houseful of kids, doing some laundry, and putting out our fall decorations.

I realized with great joy that I have a new mantle in the basement den to decorate for all my fall/winter holidays.  It's the little things that make me so very happy.

After the friends left and I had destroyed the pads of my fingers putting together a Minecraft LEGO set- it had the tiniest pieces and SO MANY OF THEM- we ate and went out to choir.

I finished up the evening by judging a "dancing contest" in the living room between Jenna and Michaela, wherein they played very borderline-appropriate pop music and "dance" to it, one at a time.  I was asked to judge on "creativity and overall look".  Michaela's strength was moving around quite a bit, not quite dancing per se, with lots of hair tossing, a few of her Toddlers and Tiaras pageant moves, and she threw in lots of mediocre cartwheels for good measure.  Jenna did much better lipsync-ing to the song but her moves weren't quite as polished.  In desperation at the end Jenna did her trick of the week: laying on her stomach and stretching up backwards so her head touches her toes.  A neat trick, for sure, but not really a great dance move.  I declared Michaela a winner by a hair and Jenna took it pretty well.  They did a little routine together at the end to a different song which was made up of Michaela barking orders at Jenna and Jenna laughing and trying to keep up while they both generally flopped around.

We tell Michaela all the time that one day Jenna is going to finally snap and give Michaela a beat down of a lifetime for bossing her around her entire life.

At the end we were all laughing and could hardly breathe.

Dan and I watched the end of Derek Jeter's last home game with the Yankees.  The only time I cried was when they showed his mom crying in the stands after the game. (of course.  That's how I roll, Mom-style.) It was all very exciting and sweet and a little schmaltzy and wonderful.  We had seriously considered giving Alec the name Derek- in fact, it was the name we picked out if Michaela had been a boy- and for a moment last night I was a teensy bit wistful that we chose Alec instead.  Jeter is a classy guy and we both really admire him.

I think the best part of the whole day was something totally unexpected: Michaela asked me to dig out the published blog books we have so she could show her friend some stories and pictures from when she was little.  After hunting around a bit (they were moved in our basement remodel and in the half-completed office redo) I found them.  Dan and I spent lots of time last night reading through old posts, seeing our life as it was eight years ago.  So much has happened since then- it is incredible.  The girls love hearing stories of the quirky things they did and said and I, of course, gush over all the pictures of my sweet babies.

It is a great reminder of how far we've come as parents, that the kids are really easier now, and there seems to be much less puking now than there was back then.  Thank goodness.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Starting Over, Again.

2014 is the Year of Catching Up.
Catching my breath.
Catching a break.
Catching a nap.
Catching my sanity.
Catching some moments to remember.

Once again I am back in the blogging saddle after a long time away.  All I will say is that I am finally coming out of several months' time of depression and anxiety that was overwhelming at times.  It was from a bunch of things: my dad's passing and processing the grief, dealing with Alec (and all that comes with him: doctors and evals and therapists and meetings) and a preteen Michaela (and all that comes with her: hormones and finals and lots and lots of energy), making decisions for Alec's placement this fall, and generally not being able to cope with life.  My tank was empty.  And while I was able to go where I needed to go and bathe, feed and dress my kids, there was no more energy or room for anything else.  I was very numb and foggy.  But I am catching my breath and finally finding my way out and feeling better.  The noose of whatever I was going through is finally loosening.

So here I sit at my computer, four days into the new school year for my chicks.  This is a huge reason why I am able to breathe again: six blissful hours of time to myself five.days.per.week.  (Whoever came up with this school thing is a miracle worker.)  All is going well so far for all of them-blog post about that is forthcoming- and I am a busy beaver all day long, processing and sorting and attending to things that I wanted to do since last summer.  Catching up.

I just had a blast looking through old posts of mine, remembering stories of the kids that I had forgotten, seeing pictures of them looking so much smaller, and reading words I wrote that I now have much better insight about.  Some posts I wish I could go back in time to relive, and others I am so profoundly glad I have been through and came out safely out the other side.

It is amazing how time marches on... such a cliché but true.  We are all architects of our lives, designing and building and re-examining a little each day until suddenly years have gone by and you can step back and see what exactly you've been working on.  The rest of this year will be a 'step back and see' time for me as I finally have some time and the ability to be very proud of what I've made and also see what will be next for me.

And finally blog a little bit about it.
I have some great stories to record.