Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mourning

When my brother died I was exhausted. I went through motions of life, but I was a zombie. I would forget for a second, or even two minutes, and then I would remember again, and it would be so heavy. I had to sigh. I had to learn it all again. Every morning I woke up I forgot for that first second and then remembered - learning it again and again. And it was so painful.

Today I feel that same heaviness. I keep remembering, and I just can't believe it's true. Did this really happen? It feels so heavy. Is this really my country? Then I sigh. I am mourning what could have been. I'm mourning this country that I thought I knew and understood - and that I felt a part of. I'm mourning what Trump stands for. I'm mourning how he treats people, especially women, minorities...and pretty much anyone other than him. I'm mourning our probable next few years as we can't continue with diplomatic relationships with allies we have had for years. I'm mourning the futures of the people who voted for him and thought he would be able to somehow get them a job, or better health insurance, or whatever they thought he could possibly provide. They will be so disappointed. I'm mourning the expectation that today we would be celebrating the first - and HOLY qualified - woman president - My daughter and I together.

Many of the people who voted for him chose him as a big FUCK YOU to Obama or Clinton, or the establishment (which at this point is crazy because he's black and she's a woman, and that's HUGE). But really it's a big fuck you to themselves and the rest of their country. Not only that, but because of wherever this country could go and it's relationships with other countries and its place in the world, it could in fact push other nations forward in agendas that hurt lives around the world. These relationships with other countries (which I won't claim to know anything about) take many people, lots of discussion, loads of years and energy to build - and it can all unravel quickly, it seems to me. How sad. What a waste.

When Kenny died I didn't know what tomorrow would look like. Or next week. Or next year. I didn't understand a life where he wasn't in it. I didn't know how we just move on and live. But the sun kept rising and setting. Life went on. We figured it out.

I don't know this America, or what it will be like with a President Trump. It makes me cry every time I think about it. It's heavy. It's awful. It is so oppressive to so many people, and it's not the life I want to live - or chose. But we will figure it out. The sun did rise this morning (I wasn't TOTALLY sure it would).

Today I mourn. I don't know how long it will take to feel like I can smile again, or not burst into tears when I look someone in the eye. I feel totally shattered - and I still don't understand how this happened.

But when I'm done, I want to get to know this America I don't have access to. I don't know one person who voted for Trump (at least no one I know of...). I live in a liberal community, talking to my liberal friends and family, listening to my liberal radio and podcasts, reading my liberal papers and magazines. I want to figure out more realistic solutions than an asshole president. It feels extremely overwhelming right now, especially since I can barely get a handle on my life with three young children - but if I want to stay in this country, I have to understand it more so I am never this surprised again. Maybe it has to go this far so that our political system can start working again. Maybe after this people will learn to work together.

And who knows, between the trial for rape, crazy business ventures and other awful things that he has done (or possibly done, I guess), maybe he won't even actually BECOME the president. Or maybe he won't make it for four years.

Whatever it is, it is happening. And now everything feels really different. It's a new normal - just like when Kenny died.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Slowly Re-gaining Life

Last week, with assistance from Matt, both of my in-laws and three babysitters (Elizabeth, Allegra and Martha), I WENT AWAY!!! I worked! I was independent, productive and a person for three and a half days! I slept through three nights! I commuted somewhere! I listened to podcasts on my headphones rather than my bluetooth speaker! I didn't once worry what my kids would eat for dinner. I didn't make any lunches. I wiped no tushies. It was amazing.

I worked until November, 2013 when I left my job in anticipation of moving back to America. I had a job in a bank (not a banker...), and I had great hours for a bank - I was out of the house from 7:30 am until 6:45 pm. My commute was about a half hour. I often signed on at night. I ended up working two days from home for a year or so, and shortly before I went on bed rest when I was pregnant with Elie, I was only working three days a week. I SUPER struggled with being a working mom. I blogged about it here. I asked a lot of questions - how can it all work?

Five years after that blog post, two kids later, and now living in the United States - I have even fewer answers. I REALLY don't get how it can all work. I can barely survive (see my last post)!! Since we moved back to the US and conceived Koby, we decided I would take a few years out of the workforce and focus solely on our kids and our home life. Matt's job is extremely demanding and there isn't much else he can pitch in with. Three kids demand a lot of care. Food prep takes so much of my time. I'm on top of laundry, which means that I am doing it nearly every day (five people produce a LOT of laundry, it turns out!). Plus, I really enjoy engaging with my kids (most of the time), and I try to read with them, play with them, build with them, play a lot outside...and then there's playdates. Not only do the kids need friends, but so do I! We're new here - if I don't invest in relationships a little bit, there's no one to fall back on (other than one friend, Sarah, from Otzma who lives in Somerville). So...I have put just about all of my energy into making our family function.

In July a consulting project dropped in my lap. It was an opportunity to update something I wrote in 2013 - a guide for banks on how to better reach and serve women customers. I have one babysitter who is available during the days who can take care of all three kids, including pick ups and drop offs, naps, meals, laundry plus the house is tidy when I come home. She is amazing. We LOVE Martha. I asked if Martha could spend more time with our family while I worked on this project, and she could. So I could do it. Working 1-2 days per week since July has been pretty life altering. I have left my children and come home to them. I really hadn't previously left them at all. When working (I go to the Newton Free Library), I can pee when I have to pee. I can spend a second to look at books or make a phone call. I got to bike there and back, most days. I have absolutely loved it. And when I come home to my kids, I really enjoy seeing them! In response to that blog post I wrote in 2011, I agree that the answer is work with limited hours AND flexible work arrangements. The organization I'm working with understands that I am the principal caregiver for my family. If the babysitter shows up (Martha does!), I can work. If there is a problem, I cannot. I can put in a few hours whenever I have a few hours. And I don't believe I could do more than 12-15 hours a week.

The organization I have been writing for then invited me to attend their annual Summit last week in DC. I went to the same event in Sydney in 2011 and hadn't been since. I had to organize a lot of help - thank the LORD for in-laws!!!! Matt took a day off work and came home early the other two. Babysitters helped with the busy afternoons. The kids not only survived, but they did great and had a fantastic time. We may have wiped out my in-laws, but they looked strong when I came back. And I really enjoyed being a person. I understand I can't do this all the time, but man does it feel good to use my brain.

I constantly hate answering the question, "so what do you do?" I think on a daily basis, "So glad I have two master's degrees so I can change four poopy diapers by 7:30am." I am in bed before 9 on most nights. I have no energy for other people or other things right now, and it is somewhat depressing when I stop to think about it. Doing something else has completely pumped life into me. I remember that I'm a smart person, and I can do great and meaningful work. Now let's see where I can go with it...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Parenting 3 Little Kids may be Killing me

Everyday I wake up, and I say, "today I will not be exhausted. I will definitely not yell. I will not get frustrated. Today will be a great day!" and I think about all of the fun things we get to do today - play outside, maybe go to the lake, bike ride, do puzzles, read lots of books - there is so much fun in life with three little kids!!!! Everyone says, "the days go so quickly - savor them!"

...right!?!?!

So why am I already so frustrated by 7:30am EVERYDAY?! Within five minutes of waking up, Samara has kicked, pushed or yelled at Elie, frustrating him, and he yells, pushes or kicks back. She wants him to do and say everything she says - exactly as she wants - and he doesn't always want to do that. So they fight. Oh, and he's three. So there's that.

By 8:15 I have asked Samara to go to the bathroom, wash hands and brush teeth five times. She ignored me the first three, not even acknowledging that I spoke, and for the last two, she snottily said, "okaaaaaaay. I ammmmmm." But she didn't. So it's been 15 minutes, and she hasn't yet gone to the bathroom or brushed her teeth. WHY?!

Then Elie finishes his oatmeal, and instead of waiting nicely to be wiped off, he gets up, runs away, with oatmeal dropping all over the house (new house. new carpet). When I nicely ask him to please wait, he runs faster. Chill, mom! Just be calm! But he's getting shit all over my clean house that I spend HOURS each day trying to clean! So I get frustrated.

Five minute warning that we are going to put on shoes and it's time to leave for camp. Ok mom!
Two minute warning. Ok mom!
One minute warning. Ok mom!

Ok - now it's time to get shoes on and get your backpacks - time to leave! They ignore me. No response. Ok, guys, let's go, put your shoes on and get your backpacks. No response. Hello? I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING!!! Luckily I usually start this ten minutes before we actually have to leave (god help me when I have THREE kids' shoes to get on - right now Koby doesn't wear shoes). So I wait. We do finally get out the door, but it's so frustrating.

Then we get in the car. I forgot a soft toy! I'm still hungry!!!! How much do I love my kids? Do I go back, unlock the door and get what they want? Am I spoiling them? Am I just being a nice mom? Matt thinks I'm too soft. Sometimes I feel like I'm SO not soft - like I'm an awful bitch. And other times I do feel like I enable them to be annoying and obnoxious, but who wants to be mean and strict!? It's such a balance, and I fear I'm failing miserably!!

Now that my baby is going to stop being a baby soon I'm getting way nostalgic. (I am also on hormones to try to regulate my body which is at it again - so it could be fake feelings). I often feel like bursting into tears because I soon won't be able to lift up and hug Elie, and he is so fucking cute right now - like hilarious and so so cute (when he's not being so annoying). I don't want him to get older! I feel like crying when I rock Koby before I put him down to go to sleep, because I love holding my baby. There's just nothing like it. Or sometimes when I take off his clothes and see his super cute little body, and I just want to take a bite - because they are growing up, and I get that I will want this back. I genuinely love this - so WHY oh WHY is it so damn frustrating? Why does it bother me so much!?

And then there's the physical exhaustion. I wake up at 5:45 with Matt's alarm (Matt doesn't wake up at 5:45 with Matt's alarm, but that's another story). I try to get downstairs to have my coffee, breakfast and make lunches before they wake up. Otherwise I can barely make a sandwich. Once they're up (usually between 6:30 and 7:15), I do not stop. I get breakfast for 3, feed one, clean up breakfast for 3, get them out the door (see above), drive to Chinese Camp, drop off (that's not a fun drop off), drive to Kat Camp, drop off, come back, put Koby to sleep, clean up more, prepare dinner, do laundry, organize shit, Koby wakes up, play with Koby or walk with him, give Koby lunch, go pick up Elie, put Elie and Koby for a nap, finish making dinner, clean up (how does it keep getting so damn messy and dirty!?), get them up, go get Samara, do something with all 3 in the afternoon (though I have had help nearly every afternoon this summer - THANK THE LORD FOR EVA AND MARTHA!!!), feed them dinner, clean up from dinner, bathe 3 kids, somehow get them to go to bed. Then it's 8, and I am SO EXHAUSTED. I remember when I used to do fun stuff in the evenings. I can barely keep my eyes open, and Koby has mostly been sleeping through the night (or at least until 4 or so)!! My back hurts. My neck is sore. My whole body hurts from everything I do allllll day for these kids. It is literally taking everything I've got to just survive - and then I'm supposed to be thoughtful about all of this!? No way - Not yet. I can read parenting books and figure out how to be a good mom - and not just survive - in a few years. When they're all in school. All day. But by then it will probably be too late.
They're so cute, no!? (Here with Alma and Shalem who visited with Dena from Israel - we had the BEST time with them!!!)

Such sensitive souls...

They even play together on occasion...for about a minute. 

Innocents!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The House

As mentioned a few months ago, we bought a house! The location is amazing - both because it's a five minute walk to Newton Centre, but also because it is literally across the street from a massive field that includes fun things to climb on, hide in, plus six soccer fields, four tennis courts and a playground...You can't go wrong. Not only that, but the backyard is so amazing that we don't even remember to go to the field sometimes! Ok - the house is fine too - but it's really the rest that makes it so amazing.

Here are the photos of "after" - though we have yet to hang our art. The "before" are in my post in May, linked to above.

This is the "before" bathroom photo. See below for the new look.

Living room in progress. Huge mirror above fireplace removed. Deep red walls replaced with beige. Windows replaced (throughout the house), recessed lighting installed.

Major beam that was eaten by termites is removed

Working on the bathroom...installing the shower

Powerwashing the house

Installing insulation on the ceiling of the crawl space, under the addition (kitchen and family room)

Elie helping me clean the day before we moved in

Moving in...clearly these photos are not in order, and I'm way too tired to organize them...

Chimney pointing (who even heard of that!?)

Matt with special purple swim goggles as protection as he tried to find the sidewalk out front of our house

And the blinds we splurged for warped in a week or so. But since we splurged, they're getting replaced for free. It's not all fun and games.

Elie's side of Elie and Sam's room. Thanks to Bubbie and Zaydie for the fun portholes on the wall.

Sam's side of their room. Thanks to Bubbie and Zaydie for the dinosaurs too!

The rest of their amazing room.

Our room

New carpet and stuff in entry

Living room is now the kids' room

Do you also get anxiety looking at this room?

It's a lot of space for toys...

Family room - with a Savta

Other angle, family room looking into toy hell room

One more angle. You get it? The kitchen is to the right.

Ok - ONE MORE ANGLE. 

We even put up three bird houses. I love this back yard. LOVE.

Dining room. We have yet to use it other than the table as staging space.

Pretty nice bathroom, right?

I can't believe how nice it is...

Matt designed all of this!

We JUST BARELY fit around that table.

So much nicer than that kitchen on Miller Rd!!!


We had the door and side of the door painted for Michigan. Because of the glare of the window, you can barely tell that the door is blue, and I think you won't be able to tell it's Michigan until we get our flag up...so it just looks like really obnoxious yellowness around a pretty plain looking colonial.

See what I mean?

There was a ton of work done - painting, floors finished, beams replaced, lots of work in the attic, faucets replaced, caulking, doors fixed...SO MANY THINGS...and it's still going...but it's so great. I love this house, and I feel so lucky every day that we get to live here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Recent Photos

Tooth #1 falls


A few days later came #2!!

Thanks for the tunnel, Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Kendal

Going for a beautiful walk with Ian and Reia


One of our last porch sits at 31 Miller Rd

Elisheva came to visit!

Two Intraters came to say hi!

How cute is this sleeping Koby?

Shadows on a walk to the lake

Sam tried Kindergarten soccer

This was our breakfast set up everyday at 31 Miller Rd. Talking to grandparents on the ipad most mornings


Last day of school - last day at Temple Shalom for Samara

Goofball walking to the lake


Jer came to visit and help us move in! (and so did Bubbie and Zaydie!)

This is about a one minute walk from our house.


We love our hammock!

Ok, I wasn't really sleeping.

Best. Cream. Cheese. Mustache. Ever.

Flying from Boston to Detroit

Picnic with the Dronfields at Kensington

Finally - riding a horse at Michigania

Ringing the lunch bell - SUPER fun - except for for the poor boy in the back who felt left out

Walloon wasn't even that cold this year

A week with Wachters!!! SO FUN

Thanks for the boat ride, Jer!

...and skipper Elie

Elie climbed the dunes with Papa and Jer

And drove the boat - a highlight (for him - not the rest of us. We were nauseous)

Reviewing this, I just made it my Facebook profile picture. Too cute.

And Elie rode a horse too!

Meals were not my favorite part of camp.

Koby was SO DIRTY everyday. He loved crawling all around everywhere

Unicorns!

Waiting for the unicorn



With the best counselor at camp - our cousin, Eric

See you next year, Michigania!

Sam tried archery

This is the field across from our house. We are so lucky. I can't believe it. Neither can Koby!

Matt and I went to the Tigers game! I mean, the Red Sox game

In Michigan, canoeing with some London/Kanners!

Mark took me and Sam tubing. So fun!

Papa and Savta came to visit in Boston! Also opposite our house

We went for a beautiful walk in the same place as we did with Ian and Reia and Jer (all above) - Broadmoor

And the aquarium. Koby was about to jump right in with the lion fish. No, Koby!! Don't do it!