Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I don't know how to fish.  The pictures that follow are of the girls learning to fish with Noel's awesome preschool teacher, who was incredibly talented at getting the fish off the hook and into the bucket.  I simply took pictures and enjoyed the outing, and paid for someone else to debone the fish.  It was a fish farm, so we were guaranteed to catch fish, which is not a bad idea when you have little ones that expect "fish" when you say "let's go fishing".  They weren't disappointed.



Friday, August 7, 2015

Update on Becoming

Just wanted to update:  it's Friday and I have practiced the piano FOUR times since Monday.  And...I love it.  Chaim still reaches up for the keys, plinking out his own melody while the girls amuse themselves with some make-believe game.  It was 20 minutes that I took from laundry, from dishes, even from playing a game with the kids.  But the trick of it is this:  those 20 minutes made me a happier mom for the next SIX hours.  I still played the Tangled game with the girls (a painful game to play, I must add), chased Chaim around after his nap, and took all 3 kiddos to the playground.  I was definitely more patient for requests for another snack and an extra five minutes on the swings.  The reason for this super patience?  I think it's because I took time to practice the piano, to invest a little time on becoming the person I want to become.  By the way...I am past the first two lines of the piece.  I'm actually making some progress, however slow it is. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The art of 'becoming' late in the game

I practiced the piano yesterday for 20 minutes because I wanted to.  Chaim tried to reach the keys and plinked as best he could while I practiced the first two lines of two different songs.  I didn't just play the songs I already knew, which is the way my bi-monthly practice sessions usually go, but instead kept reminding myself to stick with it.  It's just so much easier to flitter through songs I've known for years, but then I'm not actually learning anything.  And this is the point that I'm figuring out:  it's not too late to learn, it's not too late to become the person I want to become. 

Sometimes I fall into a trap of thinking that I'm already there--this is who I am, because I don't have any time to devote to becoming the full version of myself.  All my time is devoted to all that "stuff" that having a family and kids and a job, albeit part-time, demands.  But somewhere in there, I'm trying to carve out some time to keep on becoming.  This is a scary statement.  It's scary to say at this point in the game of life, "I'd like to try something new, and I might look silly doing it, or make a lot of mistakes, and need someone to teach me things."  I'm the adult here--I'm supposed to have some answers, but instead, I'd like to be the student again.

I've seen adults try to take on this role, and it's not easy.  My mom was a piano teacher for 20 years, and only once did she ever have a piano student that was older than 18 years old.  In fact, he was probably about 35 years old, which seemed ancient in my 10-year old world.  I thought that adults didn't learn new skills at that point:  you either played the piano or you didn't play the piano.  But here he was, coming for his lesson every week, struggling through theory just like the rest of us.  He was trying to become a pianist, and that meant that he had to put in the work to practice and stick with it. 

Here I am, 35 years old, an ancient age to say, "I need to practice the piano."  But I'm going to do it--I want to play better than I do, and I want to believe that I don't have to just settle for who I am--maybe I can still become the person I want to be.  There are lots of different things I want to become (future posts coming), but for this week, I'm going to stick with the piano.  And next week, I'm still going to stick with the piano.  And the point is to stick with it for days and weeks and months, to become the pianist I want to be.  And even though it's a little later in the game of life (I always thought I would have life figured out by age 25), I'm okay to now plod in the art of becoming.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


These are one-liners I'd like to remember. 

Juliet:  I just need a moment before I'm ready to get out of the car.  (Sometimes it's just so exhausting)

Noel:  ...I know, right?  (She says this at the end of a seemingly obvious statement)

Chaim:  da...da...do...da...do...  (genius, right?)

Noel:  I don't want to talk about it.  (After falling off the bench at dinner.)

Juliet:  I can do jump-overs now!  (a.k.a. somersaults)

Noel:  It's been a big day.  (Again...life is exhausting)

Juliet:  It's okay mom...this is zero.  (I told her she could have 3 Hershey's kisses...she changed it to 4 by starting at zero.  Smart girl) 

Scott:  I'm not mad...(pause with realization)...are you mad?  (I loved this moment of our conversation)

Juliet:  Maybe I can do it when I'm five?  (anything that she'd like to do, but is not allowed to do, ranging from cooking dinner to eating an entire cake after dinner)

Juliet:  That's just a little naughty, right?  (holding up her fingers to signify "little")

Noel:  He looks more funner.  (Her assessment of why Andy Murray should win a tennis match she endured watching with me)

Juliet and Noel:  Let's rock-n-roll!  (As they pile in the car to go anywhere)

Monday, May 18, 2015

The 17th Century Nun Prayer

"It's been rough lately."  I say, as if that explains why Noel hasn't memorized one of her parts for the Preschool Graduation tomorrow.  It doesn't explain why there are four baskets of laundry that we ransack each morning as we get dressed or why we use paper plates more often than not at rushed meals of mac-n-cheese and peas.  It's been rough because we seem to have a rotating sickness in the family, and I know...I'm not the only mom to endure a few sleepless nights with a kid that pukes one, then two, then three, and finally four times on me in a 4-hour span.  Or even better, pukes in a hallway on the way to the bathroom.  (Thanks Noel, for attempting to get to the bathroom...next time, please use the bowl we gave you.)  So, before I really get carried away with this tale of woe (and trust me-there is a tale), here's some food for thought by a 17th Century Nun:

          Lord, You know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occassion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody. Helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but You know, Lord, I want a few friends at the end.
          Keep my mind free from the endless recital of details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others' pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

           I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occassionally, I may be mistaken.          

            Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.

I love this for so many reasons...probably most of all because it makes me laugh, and at the moment laughter is keeping me afloat.  To be honest, laughter and cookies, because two hours of sleep per night is most definitely NOT the answer to a sane and happy woman!  Hopefully we can all snuggle up and get some real sleep soon.   

Monday, May 4, 2015

If only we could spend everyday at the playground...




Monday, April 20, 2015

Now Presenting...the Amazing Girl!

My girls spend a good share of each day pretending...pretending to be princesses, cowgirls, doctors, supergirls, and even the occasional cat.  They dress up in their leotards and tutus, act out plays with absolutely no plot, and enact puppet shows (also with no plot).  But one of my favorite times to watch them is when they begin a spontaneous song-and-dance routine.  Noel will stand and say, "Now Presenting...the Amazing Girl!"  At that line, she runs out of the room, waits 1.2 seconds, and runs in to entertain us.  Soon after, Juliet also begins, "Now Presenting...the Amazing Girl!"  And when she begins singing, I can tell that she truly believes she is amazing.  They both do--they have this unshakable belief that they are beautiful, smart, talented ballerinas and princesses and beloved daughters.

Jump to me.  Every morning, I get on the scale.  One morning, the number was ten less than the day before.  I was elated.  Not just for that moment, but for the rest of the day.  I thought I was amazing.  It turns out that our scale was broken, and I re-gained those 10 pounds a few days later.  That day was horrible.  I felt ugly, my clothes didn't fit right, and I avoided every mirror in the house.  And for that reason, I want to throw away my scale.  I don't want my image of myself to be directed by the number I see on the scale.  I want to get up in the morning, and say, "Now presenting...the Amazing Girl!"  I want to really believe it, too, just like Noel and Juliet believe it.  The thing is...they don't just believe it about them, they believe it about me.

I read somewhere that a daughter looks at her mother as the most beautiful woman she knows.  The mom is essentially the queen in this little girl's world.  And when that beautiful woman says she is fat or ugly, it wreaks havoc on that little girl's image of herself.  That little girl eventually becomes a teenager, and when the same mother tells that girl that she looks beautiful, she doesn't believe her.  How can she be beautiful if the number on the scale is too big?  And she feels that her value is intrinsically attached to a number on the scale, just like her mom does.  I don't want my girls to go through that, so I'm trying to change now so that I see myself as beautiful, and so that they never doubt their own beauty. 

So, guess what?  I'm trying something new.  I get out of bed in the morning, and have a little chat with myself in front of the mirror.  I stand and tell myself that I am strong and beautiful--and that the tummy which is more round--is also the same tummy that held three little babies.  And those legs that don't necessarily fit in skinny jeans are the same legs that chase the kids up the stairs in a game of tag.  They are strong and useful, and dare I say it...beautiful?   And before I walk away, I look straight in the mirror and say, "Now presenting...the Amazing Girl!" Granted, I feel a little silly.  But feeling silly makes me smile, and I start laughing, and I remember that I'm kind of a funny person.  Mind you, I'm no Lucille Ball, but it's much better to start my day thinking "I'm a funny person" instead of "I'm no good because the scale says that I weigh xxx pounds."  And because I'm a funny person, I end up playing circus events with the kids at lunch, throwing grapes into my mouth, or doing Animal-Yoga with my kids, or even pretending to be the cat in their play (still with no plot).  I don't sit around, berating myself for how I look or what size I am. Instead, I am funny and helpful, engaged in my own life.  I become that Amazing Girl.  

Here's the catch:  I know that number on the scale needs to go down so that I can be healthier.  I'm eating brown rice and cauliflower and spinach to be healthier, and I am succeeding on that front.  But none of that will matter if I don't first see myself as a strong, beautiful woman today.  I can make sure that I'm checking in with myself for a dose of image-reality, and not letting a number dictate how I feel about my worth.  And for that reason, when tomorrow morning comes, I won't get on the scale.  I'll stand in front of the mirror and say, "Now Presenting...the Amazing Girl!"  The cool thing?  I'm starting to believe, too. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Sheepish.  Exultant.  I waffle between these two feelings...a result of recent spur-of-the-moment and in-my-sleep actions. 

First:  Sheepish.  A week ago, I was watching an infomercial.  I've seen it 3 or 4 times, and this time they were so convincing.  It was for the 21-Day-Fix, and trust me when I say, I needed to "fix" my eating habits.  When you are eating Golden Oreos between every meal, it's time for something drastic.  So when the lady kept saying, "It's just so easy...you can eat anything that fits in these containers", I believed her.  Suddenly, I was on the phone ordering that 21-Day-Fix.  The guy taking my order was over-the-top polite, complimenting me on my lifestyle change, asking if I would like to upgrade to the "Ultimate Package".  Turns out the Ultimate Package was sixty dollars, and luckily, I heard Scott's voice in the background, "What is this sixty dollar charge on our card?"  So, I kept to the basic package for the poor folks, and waited patiently for the package to arrive.

Later that day, I was putting Chaim's carseat in the car and torqued my back.  As in:  seriously hurt it.  For the next 4 days...I laid on the floor with Epson salt compresses on my back, slept in the Lay-Z-Boy chair, and ate Golden Oreos.  When the package arrived, I didn't open it for two days, because I couldn't lift it off the ground.  Finally, when I opened it, those seemingly huge containers turned into teeny-tiny boxes.  That box sat on our kitchen table for another 2 days.  It was easy to avoid while eating Golden Oreos and driving to the physio-therapist for yet another appointment.  Finally, I could walk on Saturday, and I enjoyed celebrating Easter by expanding my food choices to three different varieties of cake (supplemented by an occasional oreo).

I went to bed on Sunday night, thinking "I'll start that 21-Day Fix later this week..." Sometime during the night, I had a dream that I was on my diet.  I stopped eating oreos.  I filled those teeny-tiny boxes with broccoli and cauliflower.  And when I woke up in the morning, the idea was fixed:  I was healthy.  It was like my own little version of Inception--and the idea had firmly planted.  And this is why I'm exultant--there is a half-eaten bag of Golden Oreos in the pantry, and I couldn't care less.  I am, however, excited for my plain oatmeal with cinnamon for breakfast, which fits in the little yellow box.  Exultant.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Why Are You Here?

"Why Are You Here?"  He asked, the sixth specialist we saw this morning.  Contrary to the words, it wasn't a rude question.  It was an honest question:  why was Chaim here?  And he didn't mean here as in alive, he meant here as in sitting in my office.  He was simply puzzled by Chaim. 

Another specialist siting at the far side of the room finally interjected:  "Hypoxic Ischemic." 

And so it was:  Hypoxic Ischemic, a condition where a baby is born under trauma, without oxygen.  If treatment doesn't happen quickly (within 1-2 minutes), brain damage will occur.  Little Chaim was born without oxygen--but looking at him now, you'd never guess it.  We still have to see specialists to make sure he meets his milestones, but we are all amazed at how strong his body is, and especially how active and alert his mind is. 

"It's amazing," the doctor went on, "The cooling cap has changed everything. Before the cap, these kids would have all sorts of brain problems.  They wouldn't grab things.  They wouldn't roll over.  They wouldn't ever be able to master certain skills.  Now..."  His voice trailed off, and we both were looking at Chaim.  Now...we have Chaim.

My Chaim.  My amazing little boy that is rolling over and grabbing things and laughing and babbling...and living.  I will never get over the miracle of Chaim.  I hold heaven every time I hold him, and he has changed my life.  He has made me love more deeply--spending time with the people I love rather than making excuses about "getting there next time".  I'm a better mom to Noel and Juliet, because somehow the fragility of life is very real to me.  I'm a better wife to Scott, who comforted me during those first hours, days, and weeks of Chaim's life.  It's an experience I wouldn't wish for anyone to go through--and yet, I'm so grateful for all the lessons I've learned about LIFE.  I am grateful for the cooling cap, and the doctors and nurses that knew exactly what to do in the moment. 

Grateful for so many things to the point that if a specialist asks again:  "Why Are You Here?" I may very well say, "Because of miracles." 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One Snow Day

It has been the most un-winter winter of our lives.  Finally, it snowed in March.  We played in the snow for 2 straight days:  making a snowman, throwing snowballs, and sledding down the hill behind our house.  I often wonder why we bought this house when there are too many remodeling projects (like an ENTIRE unfinished basement).  But on our snow day, I remembered.  We bought this house to be next to a park, and to have a gate in our that opens on to a HUGE sledding hill.  We walked out the door, went sledding, and came in the house for lunch--went sledding again for a few hours, came in for hot cocoa--went sledding again, and finally came in for dinner.  Noel asked if she could stay home from preschool, and being the mom I am, I gladly said yes.  Not only did she want to play in the snow--I wanted to play in the snow!  The funny thing is that out of 11 kids in her preschool, 8 other kids played hooky that day.  Glad to know I'm in good company on the snow day policy!

 (This video is of the girls sledding down the little hill in our backyard.  They did it maybe five times before advancing to the BIG hill just beyond our gate.  It was a good "starter hill", but it was so fun to go down the big hill.  Sorry--no movies of the big hill.  I was too busy sledding!)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Slice of Our Life

I made a sort of "goal" to write on my blog once a week, but the problem is that there isn't anything big to write about this week.  There were big moments--moments where I was trying to get three kids in carseats, moments when Chaim had to wait too long to be fed, moments where Noel and Juliet wanted the same spot on the bench--but nothing that I really wanted to write a post about.  So in lieu of a post that says something really meaningful, here's a snapshot of our life.  No specific order, mind you.

Conversation with Noel:

"Mom, how old are you?"
"I'm 35."
"Wow.  That's old."
"You are going to die someday."

It's nice to have the perspective of a 5-year old on my age.

I worked on Monday from 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. because we hosted a FAFSA night.  My mom watched the girls during the day--letting them watercolor AND make play-doh volcanos, complete with lava spewing out of the volcano.  I usually only accomplish one "crafty" thing in a day (sometimes in a week).  Scottie watched the kids when he got home.  He made pigs in a blanket for dinner, which the girls talked about for the rest of the week.  I obviously need to up my "fun meter", and throw out the sound nutrition of meal planning every once in a while.

Speaking of cooking, I made three casseroles in one week.  This is something considering that I have never used cream of mushroom soup in a recipe until now.  I loved it.  The kids loved it.  Scott loved it.  And it made the nights when Scott was at school somehow do-able.  I have never made casseroles (a very long story that could be analyzed by Freud himself), but I've luckily turned that corner in my life.  Next week:  tuna noodle casserole.  I don't know why, but I'm very intrigued by the legend of this casserole.

One day the girls were talking with Scottie, and he said something that was different than they understood.  Jules took it in stride, looked at me and said, "Mom, what do you think?"  It's nice to know that to my four-year-old, my opinion still matters. 

We had a doctor's checkup this week.  Juliet thought the eye exam was hilarious, since she had to cover up one of her eyes with a big black spoon.  She kept saying "Aaarrgghh!" and pretending to be a pirate.  I thought it was hilarious, the nurse didn't know how to make her say "star" when she pointed to the star.  Chaim was another enigma for the doctor.  He smiles and is happy all the time, loves to drool, but he had little interest in her stethoscope.  I guess most kids try to gobble it up during the exam.  According to her, he is still in the "normal range", but he needs to be doing more with his fine-motor skills.  I'm trying to not over-analyze this milestone.

And my technology triumph of the week is that I finally downloaded new games on the LeapPad.  They've had it for 13 months.  This should explain why there aren't any pictures with this post--they are on the camera, and it might be another 13 months before I download them.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: The Perfect Score Project

I don't write these very often...probably because I don't complete an entire book very often.  And I have never, ever posted a list of the books I've read in an entire year because the list would be embarrassingly small.  But I just finished a book that I LOVED, and had to share it.  It's called "The Perfect Score Project" by Debbie Stier.  The author took the SAT a total of SEVEN times in one year!  She was trying to help her son navigate the SAT, and found the best way was to go through the learning process with him.  The book is half manual of what to do (and even more helpful:  what not to do) and the other half her own story of the emotional ups and downs of prepping for the test.  The funny thing is that I felt like I was reading a novel.  I loved it so much that I was looking forward to middle-of-the-night feedings with Chaim, just so I could read the book more!  And even though I have never skipped to the end of the book to find out how it ended, I had to with this book.  I had to know if Debbie found that "perfect score".  Don't worry...I won't spoil it for you.  But the book is about so much more than just the "perfect score"--it's about learning and building family relationships.  And for that reason, I'm writing this review.  Because I think if it's going to help a parent and teenager have a good experience together, it's worth sharing. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I made it on the treadmill twice this week.  It wasn't an amazing workout by any means--I walked for 20 minutes.  Slow.  As in a 20-minute mile pace.   That's right, if you've done the math, you've realized it took me 20 minutes to walk ONE mile.  And by the end, I was completely exhausted.  This getting into shape post-baby is hard.  Chaim is 5 months old, and I think walking up and down the stairs to do laundry should constitute my workout for the day.  It doesn't, I know, but it feels like it should. 

Once upon a time, pre-Chaim, I was running all the time.  One day, it just clicked in my mind that I wanted to be healthier.  Diabetes runs in my family, and suddenly I was terrified of not being able to walk with both legs in my future.  Suddenly I had willpower to say "no" to brownies, ice cream, cake--anything!  Sure, I had the occasional treat, but I was a driven woman.  I hopped on that treadmill almost everyday, went trail running whenever I could, and loved it.  It felt so good to have energy and be healthy.  I ran a half-marathon in Huntsville, and could even walk the next day! 

That's me in the gray pants:

Hooray!  I get my hug from Scottie, who had cheered for me with the kiddos.


My friend Katie had run the 5K that day, too!  She did so great!

And the cutest part--they let all the kids run a "mini race" around the block.  They all wore the "Number 1", since they were all going to win!  They made the race this very big deal for the kids, which Noel loved!

 That's Noel on the other side of me.  I had already changed clothes, but still wanted to run with her.  Halfway around the block, I was regretting my decision.  That block was harder than the entire half-marathon!

Her prize was orange juice...the kid couldn't have been happier!

Me and Candace Bahm--who ran the race with me.  Go Us!

So, that was in September 2013. 
And now, I've got to figure out how to find that same fire to run again.  I don't have any answers right now.  I thought they would come as I was writing this, but they didn't.  So, I'll get on that treadmill again this week, and just keep going.  Because sometimes, as I am learning, I just have to start.