Wednesday, February 15, 2012



Dear Sugar Bee,

You're five today and I can hardly believe I just typed that. What a year it has been for you, for all of us. We started off on the wrong foot with pneumonia and you are still talking about the shot of antibiotics you got in your butt. You might never forget that one. And then you got a baby brother. And then you went on a month long road trip. And then you moved to a new house. And then to a new country! Talk about resilience and an almost heroic flexibility. It hasn't always been easy. And you've had some rough spells. But you have an understanding of yourself that frankly startles me sometimes. You get upset; we all do. And then you remove yourself, set up your dolls and clear your head. That's your process. And soon you are back to your shining spunky self. And then you like to talk about what all just happened. How you were mad and crazy, how you calmed down and got back in control. How we can talk about it after and still love each other. I appreciate processing these outbursts together. I hope we can always communicate like that.

Probably the biggest event for you this year, even bigger than moving to Israel, was becoming a big sister. Even though I know you'd prefer to still be the baby, as you have made clear in words and actions, you are a fantastic big sister. And that little boy is bonzo about you. Everything you do makes him giggle and you know it. He gets flooded with joy when he sees you. I admit, I feel that way too sometimes. What a lucky boy he is to have a sister as animated and intuitive as you. And as much as you and your older brother make each other nuts, I know there is a closeness between you too. Not every brother would take the time to pick out his sister's birthday outfit for preschool. Thankfully he can put together an outfit.

Your Aba continues to think the sun shines from your tush. He's right. You are a lovely, lovely girl and we are so lucky to have you as our daughter. Watching you grow has been one of the universe's greatest gifts to me.

many many kisses,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Animal stack

They were all waiting to see if Yertle would show up. 
The suspense was killing them.

We have a bin full of plastic animals that my son used to play with but instead of having them roar at each other and flying them around the house making monkey noises like most kids, he used to try to stack them like blocks. Except they don't exactly stack. He'd have to balance each one on top of the other very carefully.  He figured out that he always had to start with the lion and then the hippo and then it was enough support to hold the cow, a kangaroo and sometimes the lamb on top. It was pretty incredible to watch.

These animals were inspired by our recent trip to the Jerusalem Zoo. It threatened to be a rainy and disgusting day so no one was there. Just us. Really. Maybe one other family. In the whole friggin zoo. The guy at the front let us in for half price explaining that half the animals would be inside because of the rain. In fact, it didn't rain. It was a gorgeous day. Most of the animals were out. And some of them were even stacked. OK, only the mosaic sculpture ones in the children's petting area. But pretty impressive nonetheless.

Jerusalem Zoo

Jerusalem Zoo

Monday, February 6, 2012

There will be blood

Sometimes I just can't stop from turning into Mommy Hyde. Does this ever happen to you? You know you're going down the wrong parenting path, that what you're doing is sure to cause a major power struggle, that you will unintentionally cause a public scene, that your kids will likely get over it fifteen minutes later but that you will hold the whole horrible thing in your chest for the rest of the day, maybe the rest of the week or even your whole life. But it's like when you're tripping and you know you're tripping because it's almost happening in slow motion, such that there may even be a chance to save yourself from imminent danger and certain embarrassment, but you can't because of all the gravity. Damn you Sir Isaac Newton!

Well such was the case today on our way to school. I was planning to drop off my oldest, then my girl, then bring the baby to the sitter. So it goes with Mondays in general. For whatever reason my oldest, who is now seven and a half and getting very close to having a rational brain, gets hysterical about having to sit in his sister's booster near the door instead of his own backless booster in the middle. Meanwhile he always sits in her seat without issue when I intend to drop him off because it's easier and quicker for him to get out. And it's not even the chair she threw up in a month ago. It's a different one. It doesn't smell. There's nothing wrong with it. In fact, it used to be his chair. But he throws a fit and won't sit down and I tell him I'm not driving until he is seated properly and that we will be late. He continues to refuse and this is where I take a wrong turn.

I tell him I am cancelling his playdate. Why Susie? Why would you engage him like this, you amateur!

That just sends him limbic. I can almost see him turning into a crocodile. He finally sits down but instead of apologizing and pleading in a nice voice to have his friend over, he starts shrieking about it. So instead of just following through with my inappropriate consequence and taking him to school, I turn toward the clinic in town because we've been sitting on a referral for a blood test for him for a week (stomach pains, want to rule out Celiac) so I figure as long as we're late and the lab is only open from 8-8:30 in the morning and I have a little leverage with the play date, he should do the test. Now I'm limbic too and making all kinds of horrible decisions and he's terrified and starting to twitch and I'm starting to twitch but also grin a little because I am evil.

I spend the next ten minutes telling him that he can have his playdate but he has to do this blood test. The power struggle is on. Everything is on the table. The blood test, the playdate, a chance to sit in the front seat (we're one block from school), some kind of chocolate treat after the blood test, boarding school in Uzbekistan, everything. It's all game.

He pulls it together enough to walk in the clinic quietly though he is still snorting and drooling and we go upstairs to the lab. When it is finally our turn he can't stop sobbing enough for the nurse to get the needle in so we have to leave and I fear we will have to repeat the whole exercise tomorrow. On our way out he decides he can do it so we go back and I hold down his arm and try to distract him. My attempts are in vain. Fortunately the nurses attempts are also in vein and she gets the sample. My poor boy is shaking uncontrollably. This apparently did hurt, way more than any inoculation or flu shot. I had lied to him. I tried to explain how fear can cause us to perceive more pain than actually exists empirically. He is not listening. I'm an idiot.

He sits in the front seat and we drop off my daughter. She is glad to be rid of us. I take him into school and his teacher tells him he was a brave hero and generally blows smoke up his ass. Thank god for her. The other kids are happy to see him and he shows everyone his bandage. His friend asks if he can still come over and I almost throw my arms around him to say YES YOUNG MAN. YOU ARE THE PRIZE. NEVER FORGET THAT. I use the filter instead, nod enthusiastically to the friend, hug my son and leave the building.

After I drop off the baby I go to the supermarket and stock up on ice-cream, candy and cookies. That's how I plan to make it known to all in my family that I am an ass and that I apologize. All will be forgiven. Life goes on. I will review the Positive Discipline parenting aid I have on my iPhone and hope for a better outcome next time. The end.