Guess Who’s Back

Hey folks! Remember me? I used to blog. I’d share some fun anecdotes about my kids, or tell wild stories about my mom-life. Would mention my favorite playgrounds or visits to the dentist. First milestones, birth stories, poop and boobs. And then I stopped. There was no real reason and, believe me, I had plenty of content.

Then I started writing a post in one of my Facebook groups that started to get long. I thought that it was almost long enough to be a blog post, so here we are. Did you miss me? I sure missed you!

So this time of year brings out the real a-hole in my kids. It’s mostly my fault, since I hate saying no. Usually, I believe that saying a little, tiny ‘yes’ would shut them up and prevents hours of potential whining. But sometimes, even I need to put my foot down. And when I do say no, I also can’t turn around five minutes into the whine-fest and change my answer to a yes because then they’ll learn that whining will get them somewhere. (Which obviously is true, but I keep hoping they won’t figure it out.)  No means no and there’s no going back, so when I say no I have to be really sure it’s a firm no.

For Chanukah, I bought enough presents so that they’d all get something every night. My in-laws sooooo kindly and generously bought them the good stuff from my Amazon registry, but everything else came from us. Truth be told it was all either from the Dollar store, the dollar section at Target, or something they already needed like boots or a winter jacket. Nevertheless, no matter how lame or cheap the gift was, they still came to expect a gift every night.

On the second night, we went to a Chanukah Extravaganza and told the kids that they’d each get a handful of raffle tickets. If one of them didn’t win a raffle prize, I’d dig up of my pre-wrapped gifts along the lines of a pen with glitter water inside, unicorn snot, or maybe a pack of Shopkins erasers. I bought loads of raffle tickets and wrote their names on them. Annie had her eye on the large prizes that cost more money per ticket. She’d rather have fewer tickets for the big stuff than lots of little ones. Judah and Lisi were so overwhelmed with all of the choices they left their tickets on a table and walked away, so I entered the raffle for them. Then Judah won a Rubics cube and burst out crying, and Lisi won a board game then threw it across room. Guess who wanted another present when we returned home that night? On the other hand, Annie won a motorized sled that was actually too big to fit through our door, takes up half of our apartment, and is so loud they can’t even ride it inside. To actually enjoy it, we have to turn it on its side to get it through doors, cartwheel it into the elevator, then carry it up a few steps to get out to the sidewalk.

Well, we lost track of the count a little and, on the last night, we decided that since we didn’t have enough presents to go around nobody would get a gift. They were totally devastated. Like devastated as in they were literally mourning the loss of their gifts. Like all hell broke loose and our four-year-old cried herself to sleep in the kitchen at 6:30pm.

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Yesterday, the kids had off from school and so we went to Chuck E. Cheese with friends. Would you believe that was my first time there? It was actually a really great day; we were literally the only ones there and the staff was ridiculously patient. We spent over four hours there, and nobody got bored. My friend and I were acting like crazy Jewish mothers, patrolling the place for extra tickets that popped out of the machines every few minutes. I even founds myself looking under the machines for extra coins. I was positive that the security guards had picked up on our shenanigans and were going to present me with a bill and complementary video of it all. That didn’t happen, but the video would have made for some good blog material.

On our way out Judah, my sweet six-year-old (no sarcasm, he really is the sweet one) wanted me to add money to his card so that he could play some more games. It had been hours since we had even any played games. The bulk of the afternoon was spent hunting for tickets, eating, and negotiating prizes. I told him to save his card and then we’d come back again. Wrong answer, apparently: he lost it. He started air-hitting me. He was screaming and crying.. and remember, he’s usually the good one. Then he started to actually hit me so I grabbed his sleeve. We were on the busy streets of Harlem and I didn’t know how else to react. When we got to the station I threw his card in the garbage and pointed out that there were cops a few feet away and they wouldn’t be thrilled to hear what he had just done. In the meantime, some guy was selling one of these UGLY hat/glove/scarf combos with bunnies that Lisi just had to have at that moment (brat). I was still pretty distracted because of Judah and, sensing the tension, the guy said that she could have it and we should have a happy holiday. I told him that I’d pay him next time I was in that part of town with more cash and fewer kids, which he said wouldn’t be necessary.

He was too nice. Like, nice to the point that I felt guilty. Then Annie, who tends to be shy around strangers, in her sweetest, politest little voice was like may I please have one too? He didn’t fall for it, but she recovered quickly. And she didn’t even whine about it.

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One of my goals as a parent is to raise these kids as good, kind little humans. Tonight, as I hid in my bedroom writing this post on my phone in the dark, Judah come running in. He looks over at me and gestures — pointing to his eye, I, making a heart shape with his little hands, love, pointing at me, you — then bolts out of the room. My heart obviously melted. He’s still a bit of a jerk sometimes, they all are, but maybe they’re not the totally spoiled brats I make them out to be. And maybe we can let them open those leftover gifts after all.


And Happy Holiday to all!!!!

Bye, Tooth

Annie finally lost her first baby tooth this past weekend. It was long awaited and, by the end, it seemed as though she would be the last six-year-old on the planet to lose her first tooth. At one point last year I started noticing a bunch of kids in her class already had huge spaces in their smiles. I’d scroll through pictures on Facebook and Instagram of friends’ kids losing their first and second and eighth teeth. While I wondered when it would be Annie’s turn, I wasn’t exactly over-anxious. Once those big chompers start coming in that’s it; she’d practically be an adult. And by practically I mean actually. Those baby teeth are practically all I have left from her babyhood. Well, aside from the memories. And my inability to jump on a trampoline without peeing myself a little bit.

And then it happened: Look, my tooth moves when I touch it! I didn’t believe her at first. I thought she probably heard some other kid saying it. I’d occasionally ask her if she still had a loose tooth and she’d be like of course. I guess that was a silly question since teeth can’t really get unwiggly (dewiggle?). Silly Mama. In the weeks leading up to the big moment, she’d torment me by wiggling it right in front of my face every chance she had. It takes a lot to gross me out but, apparently, loose teeth are high on the list — somewhere between overgrown homeless-person toenails and stepping on a dead animal barefoot.

Before we knew it, her tooth got so wiggly that she could even twist it. Just nasty. The big event was imminent and I felt prepared for the moment. I imagined blood and maybe some tears (from both of us). Craig and I discussed introducing the tooth fairy, whether or not to leave money, what to do with the tooth, etc.

Finally, Saturday morning was the day. Annie asked if she could eat a lollipop she had stolen from my personal stash. I said yes because I couldn’t be bothered to argue. A minute later she comes over and announces: I didn’t even bite on the lollipop and my tooth fell out! Then she ran back to what she was doing. Wait, your tooth fell out?? That’s it? No blood? No tears? And you’re just casually telling me this as a b-t-dubs?  The moment we’ve (I’ve) been waiting for the last six years finally happened, now let’s move on with our lives?

And that’s how it went down.

Back in July of 2010, just a few days short of Annie turning five months old, I felt something hard on her gums. I had read the books religiously, month by month, and a tooth wasn’t something I expected to be expecting. Her first tooth. At four months (technically), she grew her first tooth. All on her own. And that’s precisely when I realized we had a genius on our hands. I was thrilled yet weepy that my baby was growing up too fast. Then, of course, some punk was like that means they’ll fall out early.


So hey, punk, you were WRONG.

Here’s how the story ends: her tooth fell out, she put it in a bag, then she lost the bag. The tooth fairy made an appearance that night anyway, and she even left some money under Annie’s pillow. The fairy was extra generous since she didn’t have change of a five, but she figured that the first tooth is the most valuable. We’ll pass on that message to Annie around the time when her next tooth starts to twist. In the meantime, I’m taking deep breaths, reminding myself that Annie’s still too young to date, and frantically searching every corner of our apartment so that Craig can add the tooth to his stash of umbilical stumps.



You can do anything
Today will be awesome
Be like a boss

Those are some of my morning mantras. Welcome to that awky week between school and camp, often referred to as Camp Mommy. It’s a week full of last hoorahs, particularly since many of the sprinklers get turned off after Labor Day (although if I recall correctly they’ve been staying on the last few years). Soon back to school season will set in and, while this is an incredibly joyous time of year for a stay-at-home mom, I still find it bittersweet saying goodbye to the summer. Since we were away upstate for ten weeks, I really felt the pressure to squeeze everything into Camp Mommy.

Al, you’ve got this.

Lots of things have changes since we were away. Once of them being the fact that Judah and Lisi are no longer stroller dependant. I can just attach the ride-on board to our single stroller and we’re good to go. This is huge for us since it makes for easier bouncability on the steps at the subway stations. After suviving our first day back in the city — complete with a round-trip subway ride, a stop at 7/11 for slurpees, grabbing some take out food, conquering almost all of Washington Square Park, fighting off no fewer than eight ice-cream-truck requests before finally giving in — I felt ready for the next day’s activity.
Last year, if you recall, a Camp Mommy activity was a trip to the dentist. It was a disaster to say the least, but that was a year ago and we’ve all done a sufficient amount of maturing. This year, because Lisi and Baby have summer birthdays, they were both due for well visits at the pediatrician’s office.

This didn’t seem like a difficult task, since I’ve taken them to the doctor before.

We arrived five minutes before our appointment, which was about five minutes after Baby fell asleep. It didn’t seem like a big deal since  our doctor tends to run late, and between all of the weigh-ins and head measuring I thought we had some extra time. Wrong. We were seen right away and after Lisi got weighed in (read: fought the measuring and refused the blood pressure cuff), they asked me to wake Gabby. I’m not a rules girl but come on, everyone knows to never wake a sleeping baby! I did and she wasn’t thrilled at first, but she got over it.

As Lisi sat on my lap for much of the visit, not cooperating but not fighting the doctor (win!), I noticed some crust around her earring. It was quite a bit. And it was oozing everywhere. Sure her earrings were fake, but she’s been wearing them for months and it hasn’t been much of an issue. I thought I would take out the back of the earring just to see what was living under there. Well, it was bad. I could tell. Since I was in the presence of a doctor and all, I thought it would be a good time to pull out the front of her earring. I figured that fast was the way to go. I plucked it out and was horrified. I don’t know if I was more grossed out by the giant hole that was left from where the earring had eroded through her flesh, kind of resembling one of those hipster lobe-gaugers — or the fact that there was still of piece of lobe-flesh stuck to the earring that was in my palm. I threw up in my mouth.

While there rest of the appointment went fine with minimal glitches, I still couldn’t unsee that strawberry earring.

So will Gabby be getting all four vaccines today?

Hell’s yeah, I’m no hippie.

Okay, and we just got in flu shots!


Annie loves shots. She actually asks for them and doesn’t flinch when she gets one; she was quite bitter the year she only got the flu mist. She also loves watching my grandma test her blood sugar and stuff. I have high hopes for her medical career.

Annie! Judah! Lisi! Come on in for your flu shots!

They all ran the opposite direction.

Annie? Come back, you’re going to get a shot!

She ran.

I suggested we come back another day but our doctor reminded me that we were already in the office and I wouldn’t have to pay a copay if I got it done that day.

Guys! You’re all getting shots NOW.

We did the girls first. There was chasing, screaming and crying. Even from Annie. You know that scene from Family Guy? The one where Peter and the chicken get into that fight and it goes on for ten minutes straight and everyone is all covered in blood and disheveled? Felt kind of like that. There was so much running. And so much restraining. So much. And then it was over. Judah’s turn. He ran, and he’s fast. He made many attempts to leave the office. I was sweating and I really had to pee; heck, I was sweating so much maybe I did pee? At one point the staff thought he was lost. It turned out he had wedged himself into a tiny space by the sink. Bless my thirty pounder! Then we caught him. I restrained him with both hands very tightly and endured several spritzes of numbing spray. He got his shot and asked for a Spider-Man sticker. All was good in the world.

I went to the bathroom and remembered that Lisi had told me that she had to pee during our wild goose chase — and as a aside, I totally get that saying now! Anyway, Lisi is going through a phase where she’ll only go on a potty so, before leaving the room, we used her travel potty, the kind that uses a bag. As I turned to leave the exam room I realized that the bag she peed in had a hole and now there was pee leaking everywhere.

Oh man, lemme clean that!




Cocky Parenting

So I’m pretty laid back most of the time. Sure, I have those days when I don’t hear from Craig and I start frantically calling his friends and Googling terms like “Rockefeller Center attacks” or “deaths on the A train”. And yes, I’ve also sent a neighbor way too many times to make sure my grandma was okay when she really had just left her phone off the hook. I guess I’m a little crazy like that. And when I’m really nervous I get explosive diarrhea. Craig always jokes that if something ever happened he’d know exactly where to find me. He’s so right.


But still, I’m usually laid back. I’m definitely not the first to run to the doctor’s office for my kids. For myself, it’s a different story. I go for annual check-ups and skin checks and paps. If my throat hurts, I get it checked; if I’m itchy in my lady parts, I call in for drugs; if I have a stomach bug, I take a dozen pregnancy tests. Such is life. But when it comes to my kids? I usually wait it out. After all, we’ve never really come across anything that a little Disney Junior and some juiceboxes didn’t fix. Sure, there’s always someone who has a runny nose, an unexplained fever or head-to-toe rashes, but it’s almost always a virus. And I hate viruses because there’s just nothing you can do about it! Like I said, laid back.


This summer we decided to try something new. We needed a change of scenery. (And by we I mean the kids and I, since Craig is still home during the week.) I love our city life. We have a great apartment and a network of awesome friends. My kids’ commute to school is unbeatable and Craig’s is pretty good too. I’ve become about 90% reliant on online grocery shopping, which leaves me with fewer errands run (that’s a Google Express reference for those in the know). The only thing I felt like we were missing was dirt. I love dirty kids. It’s been a weird thing of mine but I love when my kids can run in the dirt carefree and barefoot. So this summer, we decided to rent a bungalow and experience “The Country”. Suffice it to say, the kids are getting their fair share of dirt. They play outside until it’s dark, go for walks in the woods and eat from blueberry bushes, swim in the pool and play by the lake. It’s really been so amazing for them and I’m lucky that Craig let us do this!


The other night I went out for my first girls’ night out up here. It was my first time hiring a sitter and not putting my kids to sleep. I’m not even ashamed to admit how excited I was not to have to put them to sleep. I figured I’d go easy on the sitter and put two kids to sleep first. Baby goes to sleep pretty early and while Lisi doesn’t like missing out on the fun, I knew it would be better that I put her down before leaving. I was shocked that she voluntarily asked to go down around 7:00, and in her clothes no less. It was as though she had read my mind. I went on to have a lovely night with the ladies and Annie and Judah woke up in the morning asking me to find the babysitter because she told them the best stories. Great success.


That day when I picked Lisi up from camp, her counselor mentioned that she was really hot and needed a drink. I remembered the ease of putting her to sleep the night before and, even though was was pretty hot out that day, I just thought oh crap, it’s totally fever. Confession: I don’t always check my kids’ temps because if they actually do have a fever I feel guilty sending them to camp less than 24 hours later. I gave her some Gatorade and she asked to go to sleep at 3:30. Weird but fine, one less kid to watch. A few hours went by and I wondered whether she’d sleep through the night so I woke her. She couldn’t be bothered to wake up so I moved her to my bed, where she just lay there passing in and out of sleep. She was super out of it and burning up to the point that I decided that it was maybe time to check her temperature. I stuck the thermometer in her butt — which, by the way, is apparently her least favorite thing to do. I watched the numbers go up very quickly until she kicked it out at 105.1. It would’ve kept going. Her heart was beating quickly and her eyes were fighting to stay open. I told a friend just to hear her thoughts and she assured me that she’d watch my other kids so that I could take care of Lisi.


I went back inside to put a cold washcloth on her forehead and the next thing I hear is that the ambulance was on its way. WTF? My plan of action was to talk to my pediatrician to hear his thoughts, but ultimately I probably would’ve just let her sleep it off. She was too weak and hot to really go anywhere and my kids have all had fevers that turned into nothing. The ambulance arrived and took her vitals. She was definitely dehydrated and needed some fluids so into the ambulance we went. She was poked and prodded and wasn’t phased by anything; it was actually really sad. When we got to the hospital she was raped by rectal thermometers, had throat cultures, a chest x-ray, a catheter for urine samples, a Tylenol suppository and then more needles. Finally, a nurse gave her two stickers. She looked at them and I could read her mind. Seriously? Two fackockta stickers?? TWO??? And that was the first sign that she was starting to feel better.


The x-rays showed that she had pneumonia, which lead to her dehydration. Pneumonia? Really? But she had been totally fine that day! She went to camp, went swimming, and they even had a special drumming class that she loved. She ate ice cream and played. Pneumonia? Damn. As she laid in the hospital bed with the drugs pumping through her body, you could tell that she was getting better. She was angry that she couldn’t use one of her hands and demanded more stickers. When they brought her three more (I mean really, that brings the total to five — she gets more stickers shopping at Trader Joe’s!) she was pissed off that they weren’t Princess Sofia. Another step in the right direction.


When I finally had a chance to take a look at my phone, I had been bombarded with pictures of my kids back the bungalow. They were all well taken care of and happy. Annie had gone to her friend’s house and Judah went to his Morah and watched SpongeBob. He hasn’t stopped talking about it; you’d think that my kid had never seen a TV before. They even had someone sleepover at our bungalow with Baby. Seriously? Wow. The ladies started a Whatsapp group to keep me company, which involved gossiping about the camp counselors and clothing. I didn’t feel alone for a second.


We finally got transferred to room. Just as an aside, I’ve never had any issues going to “city hospitals”. While I hear that they’re kind of small and gross, they’ve never really bothered me — but wow. This room was probably the size of a studio apartment and the bathroom was bigger than Judah’s bedroom. All of the staff was great and gave Lisi plenty of stickers, bubbles and a Frozen tea set. Craig took an Uber up to spend a second night with Lisi and I went back to my bungalow.

I prepared myself to walk into a war zone. I had left the bungalow in shambles, having just come back from a Target trip, and I was positive that there would be undies and old diapers all over the place. I walked in and it was cleaner than ever. But really! The counters were clear for the first time since we got here. I was also informed that all of our Shabbos meals were taken care of. Whoa.


The next day Lisi and Craig came back. I don’t think ‘take it easy’ is a term that exists in toddler land. She kicked off by eating some of everything that she could get her hands on. I felt like we were living through The Very Hungry Caterpillar because every time I thought she was good, she was still hungry. Then she just wanted to run around. When we went to get Judah from camp she was serenaded by all of these tiny little voices yelling “Lisi’s back!” She played it cool but I know that she really loved it!


Now that all of this is a few weeks behind us I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. What if my friend didn’t call the ambulance? What if I had let her sleep it off? What if it had been the middle of the night and I didn’t even know it was happening? Maybe it’s better not to think about it. This is not to say that an ambulance will be called next time one of the kids spikes a fever but I think this was a very eye-opening experience. While being laid back works for us most of the time sometimes I have to stop being so darn cocky and proud and realize that maybe it’s not the worst thing to ask for help. But when all fails it certainly helps to have good friends and for that we couldn’t be more thankful!


Family Travel

Wow, you’re so golden brown — how was? Oh, it was great! The weather was great, the kids couldn’t get enough of the water and it was a nice change of scenery! No, but really, how was? Ah, I see what you’re asking. You want to know how it was traveling with our four kids. First, you ask about the plane ride. Maybe you’re wondering if one of them sent the flight attendants running out the emergency exit? Or if one of us just decided to lock ourselves in the bathroom for the duration of the flight? You think I may have lost one in the airport, right? Well, I’m pleased to report that none of those scenarios occurred, and — aside from Lisi force-feeding me a Coke and tomato juice cocktail (tastes worse than it sounds) and then pouring the whole cup, ice cubes included, down my shirt — the kids were rockstars.


Honestly, the plane was probably the easiest leg of our trip. You see, our kids are real city kids. I can probably count on one hand the number of times the six of us have been in a car together. For starters, Annie gets car sick. In nine out of ten car rides, she throws up. And I should really adjust those odds because she often throws up more than once per ride. So it was no shock when at around fifteen minutes into our journey to JFK, Annie announced that she needed a bag. I passed one to her, she puked and then handed it back. What we didn’t expect was for Lisi to belch out a cough, one that easily could have been mistaken as having come from a middle aged man, and projectile all of the contents of her breakfast onto Craig’s lap. We didn’t really see it coming and the two of them stunk like rotten chocolate milk for the duration of our trip . Guess you learn something new every day. 


But even that was totally manageable. The hardest part of travel for me starts way earlier. You see, Craig and I have very different travel styles. While I wouldn’t call myself an anal, anxious, uptight person in general, I don’t do “pre-travel” well.  I think it’s a trait that was passed down through my genes from Granny, because she was always a little tense before I traveled anywhere. It would drive me crazy and I’d always call her out on it but now I can totally relate. I started packing a few days before we were scheduled to leave. I always seem to forget something and I figured that, by packing everything over the course of a few days, I could just throw things in the suitcase as I remembered them. Hey Craig, can you start packing? Yeah, sure, tomorrow night. But we’re leaving early the following morning, you might forget something. Nope. He stuck to his word, procrastinated and didn’t pack until 11:00 the night before we left. My stress level was pretty high.


One difference this trip as opposed to most of the other trips we’ve taken is that he’s finally accepted the fact that we can’t travel with just carry-on luggage (five seats means five carry-ons!) and didn’t even suggest it. It used to always be a fight as we’d stand by the luggage carousel, you know we could have been out of here by now. Now that he willingly lets us check in luggage, he complains that I overpack. Here’s the thing: I don’t. Let’s start with the kids: six days of vacation equals 20 bathing suits (they never dry well in hotel rooms and they have so many cute ones!), 9 sets of pajamas, 16 outfits, 3 pairs of shoes, 16 pairs of underwear, 12 cover-ups, around 40 diapers and a pack of wipes. Those are the basics. That’s one suitcase. Now let’s add our stuff and some food. Note that I said some food. They actually did have kosher food available so I only packed some deli, cheese, bread and candy. Plus various cooking appliances. Judah needs a grilled cheese sandwich these days and being that he’s barely charting in the first percentile, a grilled cheese sandwich he will get. (Did he eat any on vacation? Not a one.) Not to brag, but we only had three suitcases — two on the way back. I made a point of asking every single airline employee if they found it impressive. They did. One lady even said that when she heard I only had three bags, she for sure thought it would be overweight.


Was our luggage overweight? Nope. It’s probably because, as Craig always reminds me, I’m really a terrible packer. I definitely don’t utilize all of the available space, while he used to stand there stuffing underwear into the tiniest crevices and rolling up socks to be shoved into the strangest places. And then guess what would happen? It would be overweight. Fact: overweight luggage costs more than just bringing another suitcase.  So often we’d be those people standing at the ticket counter with panties flying everywhere, trying to transfer some weight to a different suitcase. You’d think the agent would just be like whatever, you’re good. That’s never happened. Then you’ll see a very annoyed Craig holding up the can of garbanzo beans I tried to smuggle. He’d be shaking his head, seriously? I unpacked the beans last night! “I like the beans!” I’d shout back. The last few times we traveled, I thought of packing an extra duffel bag, the kind that folds up tiny, so that if this does happen and we are overweight I could just stick the facockta beans in my extra piece of luggage — which, by the way, was totally free because it used to be included in the price of the ticket.

Of course, there’s always the debate about what time to leave. We had a 9:59am flight. I begrudgingly agreed to call the car for seven. It was an international flight, you know. The lines at the airport and traffic are just as unpredictable as the kids. I woke up extra early, as did Annie, who couldn’t sleep the night before on account of being too excited. The two of us brought everything to the lobby before everyone else woke up so there would be one less thing to worry about. We arrived at the gate at 9:07am, but not without Lisi totally losing it when we had to put her backpack twice through the x-ray, me getting frisked by security in a way that had me asking well why don’t you buy me dinner first, and Craig getting into a fight with the TSA about how all this security is giving the terrorists exactly what they want. This left us with seventeen minutes to shop around the terminal, use the restroom, change diapers, make a bottle and give the kids a chance to let out some energy before the flight.

The only tip I can actually offer is bring Omi. That’s Craig’s mom. Not only is she awesome to be around, but she let all of our kids sleep in her room (well, Baby slept in our bathroom). Craig and I got to go out at night and I think my kids like her better than me. They also seem to like Craig more than me, but I’ll get into that a different time. She’s another set of hands which is a little priceless.

On the plane ride there we sat in front of another family, which immediately alleviated any pressure of keeping my gang quiet. Get this: they had seven kids. 7! If that wasn’t an inspiration I don’t know what is. We probably bumped into them every day we were on vacation, and they were literally all sorts of awesome. And they were everywhere! We became friends, and they were an inspiration that big families actually do travel (and still have fun!). And I’m not just saying that because they brought us a homemade pizza poolside.


So how was, you ask?



Excuse Me

Ever have one of those days? Yeah, that would be today.
We have a vacation planned for next week. It’ll be our first as a family of six and, being the wise travel agent I am, I booked our tickets for 6:45 am Sunday morning. It made sense in my mind because we’d be landing around ten, leaving us the entire day to bask in everything the Caribbean has to offer. Then stupid Facebook told me there was going to be a snowstorm hitting our area. I’m normally not one to fall for weather forecasts, but — knowing that it was supposed to be snowing when we were planning on leaving — I was a little apprehensive. I began imagining waking up at 3:00am, getting to the airport and sitting at the gate only to be delayed followed by sitting on the plane while waiting to be deiced. And that was when what the heck was I thinking sank in. I tried changing tickets but the fees were astronomical and the agent told me to wait a day. I was also picturing black ice on the roads and suddenly my stomach was upset.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I tossed and turned; I played Sim City. After watching my city struggle to survive without water and proper healthcare, I ultimately moved to the couch and obsessively checked flights, watching the fares go higher and higher. When I’d had enough of that, I had some cereal and chocolate milk and fell asleep at 5:30.
When I woke up around seven, I went to check the status on some credit card transactions. I realized that I had screwed up and paid a bill twice, which overdrew one of my accounts to pay another, somehow rendering both accounts completely useless. I called both companies and they both told me it would all straighten in 7-10 business days. That doesn’t bode well for travel or grocery shopping. I’m pretty sure it was my error, but it left me feeling almost as stressed as the time I didn’t have a phone for 18 hours. My stomach was upset from this, and because I was still sporting some spoiled milk residue in my mouth from some snacks a few hours prior.

First to wake up was Judah at around 7:25. He was in a really sweet and playful mood and, being that he’s not a morning person, it was certainly welcome. He played super nicely as the rest of the crew woke up one at a time. Lisi immediately crawled into our bed and stayed there for an extended period, so I just left her and took Annie and Judah to school. Judah is going through this adorable phase where he stretches himself out on the floor in protest and just lies there. He’s incredibly stubborn. He’ll lie there until I physically pick him up; it’s just so darn cute. It’s especially precious when — like this morning — he lies down on the side of the street, literally on the pavement next to a garbage can, whimpering because he wanted to press door close in the elevator. The problem was that it took him a little too long and, bless the guy, he’s such a weakling his push wasn’t strong enough so the door just closed on its own. He was pretty worked up about it and I happened to be in a rush. When I realized I couldn’t physically drag him to school, I brought him back inside of our building where he stretched himself out on the lobby floor. Poor Annie had been happily skipping alongside with her shoes on the wrong feet and a blue ring around her mouth from the chocolate covered pretzel with blue sugar crystals I had let her have for breakfast. In total frustration and without thinking, I forcefully picked up Judah to standing position. He slumped down. That’s how you wanna play? I could feel my face turning red because I was stressed and angry at him so I picked him up again, put him in the elevator and pressed our floor. He sat down in the elevator and let the door close. Annie started yelling at me not to do it and then the mommy guilt kicked in. As I ran up the steps I heard our door slam. He’d let himself in and was stretched out on the couch.


I left Judah there, dropped Annie off at school and came home to find Lisi cuddling with Craig. She got dressed, declined breakfast and I did round two of drop offs with Judah and Lisi. Judah cried most of the way and had to be restrained by a teacher when I left. I just left him and didn’t feel so bad because I was still worked up. 

Lisi, who seemed to think that screaming Judah was the most hilarious thing she’s ever witnessed, was acting a little off. After doing the math, I realized that she was probably coming down with something and gave her teachers a head’s up and went on my way. Craig took Baby to back-up daycare at his work and, because my credit cards weren’t working, he gave me some cash (Jetson style). I had to stand there doing math in my head most of the day whenever I wanted to make a purchase. It felt so 1990s. I kept thinking about the storm, our trip, my cash situation, sad Judah, sick Lisi and potentially traumatized Annie.
I ran some errands and picked up Baby from daycare. I saw a 40%-off sale at Anthropologie and knew it would be criminal not to go in, plus I had a store credit — or as Craig calls it, magic money. As I’m standing in line I get a call from school.  Lisi took a nap, didn’t touch her lunch and was burning up. She was sick. So I hopped on the next train home.
sick lisi
It was one of those rides where as the train pulls in you think sweet, there are seats and after sitting down you realize exactly why. Homeless man. He was blind, really racist and really stank. There was no way out and I had a seat so I stayed put. I’m pretty sure that the smell will never come out of my coat.
When I was finally reunited with my kids I sat them in front of some toys and called the airline. Two hours and 42 minutes later we were on a new flight, free of charge. I fed the kids and cuddled with them in bed. Even Lisi was there, radiating fever onto the rest of us keeping us warm. They got to stay up later than usual since I was too burned out to fight them. We were lying there when Judah yelled excuse me! Annie and I looked other and starting laughing. Judah announced said ‘excuse me’ because I just farted. And that was the end of that.
*     *     *
I consider myself very patient, calm and chillaxed. I’ve spent the last five years training myself, so it’s certainly something I take pride in. I’ve definitely worked hard at it but yeah, today was one of those days when I lost it. In retrospect I feel a little bad; I keep playing the morning over in my head wondering what if the elevator got stuck. When Judah came home I asked him if he remembered what happened on the way to school this morning and he said — I made a pee pee and then a poop but I didn’t flush. And then he turned back to his iPad.

Game On

A few weeks ago, Craig’s office was pretty quiet so he suggested “working from home” that Monday. Judah and Lisi had doctor’s appointments first thing in the morning so I ended off dropping them off at school a little late.  I met Craig for pizza and Dunkin Donuts. The food was delicious and it was such a treat to hang out with him with no kids around (Gabriella who?), but a large part of our outting looked something like this:

Was he doing work? Nah. Checking Facebook? I wish. Porn? Nope. He was playing with his new Sim City app. He was the building a freakin’ metropolis and, oh, he’s the mayor. His citizens were all needy, asking for health care and schooling and setting the town on fire and whatnot. They were getting into traffic jams, demanding power and water and complaining about the air. There were even natural disasters. It was ridiculous; I probably would’ve felt better if it was just porn.

So now let’s backtrack eight years. When we first got engaged we went to Arizona for New Year. It was pretty cool to see the house where Craig spent his adolescent years, and it was my first time near the West Coast. Upon arriving I immediately noticed that his old Nintendo was still hooked up. Growing up, I was always a Tetris champion.  I mean, I beat Granny all the time. She’d always marvel at how great I was; she’d even brag to her friends. I was unbeatable. I shared this news with Craig and he’s like, “….oh really.” We ran to the Nintendo that evening after dinner and grabbed controllers. He played a couple of rounds and got some ungodly score of like, 200 or something. Now, I admit that I was a bit rusty. I used to play on the Gameboy, and it had been like ten years since I last played, but I managed. In fact, I sat there playing until around four in the morning until I finally, finally beat his score. I was really excited to finally go to sleep, but not before waking Craig so that he could see my new high score (this was pre-iPhone days). He sleep-walked over to the TV and sat down to play with one eye open. I was changing into pajamas, brushing my teeth and doing my thing, and I come back to see that Craig had just killed my high score. I don’t think I slept that night.

Okay, now back to 2015 (remember when it was 2015?). Going against everything that I believe in, I decided to load the Sim City app. I refused to relive another loss like Tetris. I secretly played every chance I had and I was actually pretty bad at it. I finally told him that I had downloaded the app so that he would at least give me a few pointers. It was almost romantic, I felt like he had never loved as much as he did the moment when I told him I needed help running my city. He definitely helped my town get through some rough times, like when half of my town abandoned me due to fire. Of course a day later I was pretty much kicking his butt.  That was short lived. The other night we stayed up until 1:30 playing. Do you know how embarrassing it is when you kind of casually mention oh, I slept like five hours last night and the person you’re taking to is like, haha what do you expect when you have little kids? Right, those darn kids.

While I’m a little unaware of the damage this might be doing to my brain cells, and I know that it’s time wasted, I will say that it’s been kind of really fun. We recently moved Baby (yeah, we’re still calling her Baby. It’s not Gabriella, but it’s a step up from New Lisi) at night into the family room / Craig’s man cave / the kid’s playroom / the room with the TV,  as she gets accustomed to sleeping through the night. We’re not especially huge TV watchers; we usually just have it on in the background or something. Now with Baby occupying our space we’ve been occupying our time in other ways, like board games, YouTube karaoke, actual interaction or playing this silly little game. Even though Craig’s city, Lisiland, puts mine to total shame, I have to admit that it’s totally been something silly to bond over.

And as for the great Tetris loss of 2008? I’ll let him have it. I practically let him win anyway.

Bah! Humbug!

Confession: I don’t like doughnuts. I feel like it’s one of those things you’re supposed to like and it’s weird if you don’t. Like someone who doesn’t like puppies or sunshine. Eleven months out of the year it’s pretty much a non-issue. It’s really just around now that I find it especially hard since we have eight days of Presents! Draidels! Latkes! Doughnuts! And I just can’t bring myself to eat one. Sure, I’ll lick the frosting off and put it back. If there’s custard I’ll tap that too. I’ve passed it on to my kids, too. They’ll be all “can I just lick off the frosting?” and I’m like well obviously, how else does one eat a doughnut? Sometimes I think this habit has to be broken — I mean, can one go through life just licking frosting off the top of doughnuts? I see both sides. I see the wasteful part and I’m not one for wasting but I just don’t like them, or as the kids say, “it’s not my taste”.

This year I somehow accidentally ended up in Brooklyn for two days of Chanukah. I love Brooklyn. For the longest time, it was one of the boroughs I’d avoid at all costs. And now, I don’t get why. I mean, it’s not like it’s Staten Island. On Monday, my friend and I strutted down Lee Avenue, stopping in a bunch of stores along the way. It took me about three stores to realize that the music was all Chanukah music. It was pretty cool to hear and I even got a little bit giddy. I was feeling totally in the Chanukah spirit. Then I passed some more stores. Racks and racks of doughnuts, everywhere. Truly a doughnut lover’s dream but not for this lady. Is that bad? I mean, I wanted to buy some to bring home. I felt like it was something that I was supposed to do. I quickly turned my attention to the zebra cookies. We found ourselves in a super heimishe pizza shop. There were pre-packaged white fish sandwiches in the fridge. It was kind of awesome. Attention diverted.

I always love this time of year for the music. Especially that darn Christmas music where I know every single word to every single song and then I’ll feel all guilty because I’m Jewish, I should sing a Chanukah song instead. Then I’ll feel even more guilty because instead of traditional songs I’ll start singing one of those Maccabeat parody songs that I know Craig hates. So I’ll learn the words verbatim to the songs the Maccabeats are covering so that if I get caught singing a Maccabeat song I can quickly switch to the original. That was all fine until I heard Annie singing ooooo-ooooo shut up and dance with me. While it’s been a fun song to sing, somehow I don’t think the phrase “shut up” will be well-received in a preschool setting.  Before you know it Annie will be the one telling the other kids how babies are made and I’m not sure I’m ready for phone calls from angry parents. Like I always say, no good can come from me singing.

Let’s talk about Chanukah presents. I would love to get Annie an American Girl doll. Annie does not know what an American Girl is. I think it’s really more like: I want an American Girl doll and I’m using Annie to get one. For me. So not this year. Anyway, Annie kind of has a running list in her head of presents she’d like and she’ll often update me on any adjustments.  It’s never anything big but she takes the list pretty seriously. I guess at this stage in her life she’s still pretty low maintenance and doesn’t require any extravagant gifts. Also the grandparents pretty much take care of the good stuff, so I had time to focus on the list. For the rest of them, well,  I know what makes my kids happy. Last week Craig and I wrapped all the gifts in the packing paper that came in our Amazon boxes. To say that they looked ghetto is an understatement but I didn’t care. When Annie saw the stack of gifts she looked at me and said I really hope you got me what I asked for. A little taken aback by her sense of entitlement, I asked her what it was that she wanted. “You know, those square papers that have a sticky strip that come in lots of colors?” Ah, Post-its. I smirked and thought to myself, I got this.

Holidays aren’t just about the music or the gifts; they’re about much more. Like family, traditions, and miracles. But the gifts and music? They’re more like the frosting on top of the doughnut, which we all know is the best part!

Happy holidays to all!!!

Judah’s Birth Day

This is not a love letter for Judah, although I’ll be sure to drown him in hugs, kisses, balloons and lots of chocolate gelt. You see, I remember when Judah was born — it was one of the happiest moments of my life, and not for the reason you think. When I was 28 weeks pregnant with him I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (or as Craig liked to call it, the Jessie D). You know the glucose juice you have to drink? That’s where it all starts, and those little bottles will forever haunt me.Judah birthday

This is not a love letter for Judah, although I’ll be sure to drown him in hugs, kisses, balloons and lots of chocolate gelt. You see, I remember when Judah was born — it was one of the happiest moments of my life, and not for the reason you think. When I was 28 weeks pregnant with him I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (or as Craig liked to call it, the Jessie D). You know the glucose juice you have to drink? That’s where it all starts, and those little bottles will forever haunt me.

I’ve always been a junk-food girl. Candy was my friend. Plus, I had the most ridiculous chicken legs as a kid and could eat whatever I wanted. Reading nutrition labels had always been foreign. (Alas, that has all changed, but it was fun while it lasted!) Then I went in for the dreaded glucose test. I had passed it with Annie so I assumed I’d pass it again — plus, there’s that common misconception that diabetes is a “fat person problem”. Anyway, I got a voicemail from my OB on the Thursday before Hurricane Irene was supposed to hit. Hi, your numbers were ever so slightly elevated, I doubt you have diabetes but I’d like you to take the three hour test. Ummm, okay. I wasn’t really sure what to make of that, and I didn’t consult with Dr. Google because I just didn’t think it was actually a possibility. I went to the lab on a Tuesday for my theee hour test. It’s kind of like the first test only you get a larger drink and three blood draws instead of one. There was a Judge Judy marathon taking place in the waiting room but, since I was all busy going back and forth giving blood, making multiple bathroom trips and dealing with waves of nausea, I never quite got to see how Judy ruled. It was all very unsettling.

Three days later, I got the call. You failed. Seriously? Seriously. Like, borderline failed, or flunked? Not that it matters but you flunked. Great. What does that even mean?

With the help of my OB, endocrinologist and nutritionist, I figured it out. I had to watch my carbs and check my blood like five times a day. I had to time and record my meals. If I wanted a piece of chocolate I’d have to “budget” accordingly. A typical snack would be something like a handful of almonds, olives or a few baby carrots with hummus. My lattes had to be small and skinny. A piece a cantaloupe was a treat and bagels were my enemy.

Those were possibly the longest twelve weeks of my life.

Then there was the induction (when you’ve got the Jessie D, they don’t like you to deliver late). I was induced on my due date, December 1. I walked into the hospital feeling fine, albeit tired since it was freakin’ early! I leisurely changed into a gown and relaxed in a hospital bed. This was it. This was the day I was finally going to get my bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox and tomatoes. The delivery went as smooth as could be, he came out after a push or two and he was adorable. I was happy. I got to tell Annie she was a big sister. We went from being a couple with a baby to a family of four. It was wild.

Later that evening, I settled into my room. A friend told me she’d be stopping by and wanted to know what she could bring. Without missing a beat I told her chocolate milk. Nesquik. A large bottle of cold, rich chocolate milk. And she came through. That evening, I illustrated the meaning of the word ‘chug’ because damn, I sure chugged down that drink.

And it was good.

Today is exactly four years since I had the best chocolate milk of my life. To this day, every time I eat something a little too carby I think back to the time I had to be careful and abstain from so many of the treats that I loved. It was twelve long weeks but the reward at the end was pretty awesome. And I’m not just talking about the chocolate milk.

Happy birthday Judah!


Pretty in Blue

So this is going to sound bad: I was kind of hoping Gabriella was a boy. I know, it sounds terrible. And then I hear Annie’s soft little voice saying you get what you get and you don’t get upset. In the early stages of my pregnancy, I was feeling pretty awful and at that point there was really no end in sight. I’m one of those people who starts feeling nauseated from the moment that egg is fertilized; I would never make it on the show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant because I always know. Then I had an ultrasound around week ten that showed some male parts. That was probably the moment it became real to me and I was finally excited about child #4. 

You see that? A penis, right? I was ecstatic. How perfect? It would be two girls and two boys, super symmetrical. I could take the girls out for manis and ice cream and Craig could sit at home with the boys watching football and eating a bucket of chicken. Or whatever it is that guys eat. Craig isn’t much of a chicken-out-of-bucket-guy, but you get the idea.

At around 12 weeks I had another ultrasound. I was making small talk with the tech.

Sooooo, what is it? 

I’m not allowed to say until 16 weeks.

That’s ok, I know it’s a boy. (I was totally smug.)

Actually, it can still go either way.

Okay, but there’s a penis.

Hmmmm… actually, it looks more like labia.

What does she know.

Genetic testing has come a long way since my first pregnancy six years ago. It blows my mind that you can give a vile of blood and find out the gender (and all sorts of cool genetic information) weeks after conception. I figured I’d just call my doctor and ask for the results.

Everything looks great, blah blah, healthy baby, blah blah. 

That’s great! But what is it?

It’s a girl! Congratulations!


That day, Craig had come home early from work due the flu. I was unsympathetic, as I’ve told him dozens of times to get the shot but he never listens. He was lying in bed, dead to the world with cold sweats, high fever and aches that just wouldn’t back down.

Ummm, Sweetie? I just got off the phone with the doctor, ummm, and it looks like our son has a vagina. On the bright side, she’s healthy!

Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I feel even worse for feeling disappointed? Totes.

It didn’t help that around week 11, I had found a stroller on Craigslist for an excellent price and had to buy it. It was bright blue which was perfect since after all, I was having a boy. However, upon hearing the latest news I was like well screw that, I’m sticking with the blue stroller.

When Annie was born I went all girly-girl on her. She’d wear bows or tutus or something that would let the world know that she’s a girl. And despite the zebra hat with a pink flower that was larger than her head, strangers would still tell me how cute he was. And I’d be like hold me back… what do you mean HE? That was then. Now, I’d just be like thank you, he is cute! (And to be fair, Annie was pretty darn bald!) Back then, I may have found it offensive when people would dress their girls in boys’ clothing; such a waste of having a girl! Old me, or should I say, 2010 Al would never push a girl in a blue stroller. Alas, I’ve done some growing up. Gabriella is thoroughly enjoying being chauffeured around in her blue chariot and I don’t think I’ve ever been stopped on the street by anyone asking why I’m pushing my girl in a blue stroller because — newsflash, 2010 Al — NO ONE CARES.

Looking back, I can’t believe I got upset when I found out Gabriella was a girl. So what if there’s an imbalance? And since when do we care about being perfect symmetrical?

Hi Lisi. 

But seriously, missing-tooth-jokes aside, she’s awesome.

Judah loves being the little prince around our house. Lisi likes watching sports with Craig. Annie loves splashing in mud or playing soccer. And without sounding all cheeseball, I am thankful she’s healthy. And super cute.

As a newborn, Judah was a puker, snorer and grunter, a trifecta that guaranteed him eviction from our room at about two weeks. I dismissed it saying oh, haha, he’s such a boy. Gabriella is following in his footsteps but on a three month delay. The spit-up. OMG, the spit-up. We’re talking three to four outfit changes a day — heck, sometimes I put a bib on her just to soak some of it up and it’s still not enough. Did you know that she requires nightly baths just to get the smell off? And it’s not that pukey smell that passes as “new baby scent”, it’s just bad, almost fungal. At night, she sleeps in a crib located about six inches from my left ear. She was fine at first, that little trickster, but then the snoring and snorting! And the farting. Followed by the sharting. Then more spit-up and explosive poops which inevitably lead to yet another wardrobe change at like 3am. I’ve come to the realization that this isn’t really a boy/girl thing. Perhaps just a baby thing?

So I’ll probably end up embracing the feathers and sparkles and gender stereotypes (guilty!) that come with the girly territory, all while pushing her around town in a blue stroller. I mean, I easily could’ve changed the blue fabric to a lovely magenta, but I didn’t. And it wasn’t so that I could mourn the time that I really wanted her to be a boy. I’m not leaving it just on principle either, like hey, remember when I thought you were a boy, here’s a memento. Really, I left the color alone to remind myself of the time I got that great deal on Craigslist. Because like they say, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

And I’m totally not upset.