Sunday, December 30, 2012

4 years old!

I think blogging is like exercising. When you are in the routine, you do it regularly. Once you slip, it's hard to get back into it. I'll use that to explain my long absence from this blog. No real excuse other than life, family visits, finals and other fun things. Moving right along...
M turned 4 today! His English birthday is still two weeks away but we decided to celebrate the Hebrew date. He helped me make his birthday cake and we decorated it  with frosting, chocolate chips and sprinkles. We had cake and pizza (in that order) and he wore a cute little crown we made him.
birthday boy

ay enjoying the cake a bit too much

Our little man has really grown up this year. I have finally gotten used to his short hair cut, although I still miss his curls. He is getting used to wearing a kippa and tzitzit every day.
M loves coloring. He could sit there for hours and uses up reams and reams of paper. He has a great imagination and colors people, robots and other things. He can also write his name. Lucky for him it is short. He loves the color red and superheroes such as spiderman and superman. He also loves music and can often be found singing to himself.
Another thing he likes is books. We try to go to the library weekly for new books and he loves to sit and read together. He also likes puzzles and games such as memory, chutes and ladders or Go Fish. We are still a little wobbly on all the rules but he is learning.
M has a great personality- very easygoing and loving. He is friends with everyone in his class and his teachers tell us how everyone vies to play with him. We love the preschool he is in and he loves going there. He is disappointed when there is vacation and often asks when he can go back.
M says the funniest thing such as "If I watch too many videos I will be a potato couch" and he also asks very smart questions. Of course he is mischievous and always thinking of creative ways to wreak havoc, but that is all part of the fun of having a boy.
wearing my headscarf and heels

in the newspaper box

When he is tired, he can get a little whiny and tantrumy but so do most people. He is still a little jealous of Baby AY but I do try to give M attention when the others are not home. We go to the library together and we usually bake together- another activity he loves. We usually make muffins or cookies and M is a great helper..when he is not spilling flour all over the place or putting his cookie hand prints on the wall.
I can't wait to see how much more he will grow and learn this year!
being silly w the siblings
PS: For the few of you who like this stuff- a link to M's birthstory

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tale of 2 Parties

I have to be honest. I love my routine and schedules. I find it is the only way to stay afloat these days. So after the kids get home from school around 4 we do homework and they watch a bit of video, at 5 we do dinner, and at 5 30 we do baths. At 6 we are in PJs reading books and playing "calm" games (the calm thing does not always happen but we try...) 6 45 we brush our teeth, fill the water bottles and at 7 pm we say good night, although recently the kids have been staying up till closer to 8. But they need to be in their room, ideally in their beds.
So this works pretty well. And then of course once a week it's Shabbos and that messes everything up again. But we work around it. And then every month or two there is a Jewish holiday that throws a wrench into my perfectly structured evenings.
Right now we are in the middle of Channukah which means a week of mayhem and late nights and way too much sugar. I try to be flexible, but ask my husband, it is really not my biggest strength. We also wanted the kids to have fun, though, so I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone.

Monday night we decided to take the kids to Channukah on Ice, even though the event did not even start till 6 pm, which is usually PJ time. Basically, Chabad takes over the whole ice skating rink in Central Park and there is kosher food, Jewish music, candle lighting and a performance by the Maccabeats.
We knew this was an ambitious plan so we asked our awesome babysitter to come with us for back-up. Of course we caused a stir on the subway there because there were 4 kids and 3 adults and lots of noise. We were kind of hard to miss. We got there okay and proceeded to put the 3 big kids in ice skates. This was their first time, so they were tripping all over their feet before they even got on the ice. But I have to say it worked out really well. The weather was beautiful, the views of Central Park amazing. A went off with her friend and actually got the hang of skating. The babysitter and I each took one of the boys and took them on a few rounds. My husband held the baby, because the skates did not seem to fit his feet well. I loved being on the ice- I have fond memories of going ice skating every Sunday as a child and it was fun being back in skates. We skated a bit, had dinner and then stayed for the Maccabeats performance- M was dancing and Y was loving every minute too. Things were going so well, I was surprised when my husband said it was past 8 pm and time to leave...I was having fun and would have gladly stayed for more skating.
But the baby and M were getting really tired, so we called it a night. The kids were super excited and the event was a definite success, especially given the fact that I did not come home stressed and overwhelmed.

The next night, however, was a different story. We were scheduled to go to a chocolate making party at a local candy store. First, Y refused to go, so he stayed home with a sitter. When we got to the store, M was not interested in making chocolate and instead was walking around touching all the candy...Baby AY was excited about all the sugar and I had to hold him and make sure he did not get to it. Then Y changed his mind and showed up with his sitter, who was not doing a great job of supervising him. He also started wandering around the store, grabbing things. I now had 3 out of 4 kids not participating and wandering around a store full of candy and chocolate, and my stress level was getting higher and higher.
I was counting the minutes till the pizza dinner, hoping that would offer a good distraction, when all of a sudden, Y grabbed on to the jelly bean dispenser and yanked, sending a cascade of literally hundreds of jelly beans flying all over the store...I was really embarrassed and decided I had reached my threshold.
I grabbed 2 slices of pizza to go and shepherded the 3 boys out of the store and back home where they ate, took baths and got back into my regular routine, while we waited for A to come home with my husband.

The moral of the story- you never know which event will go smoothly and which will require a lot of supervision and nerves. It's not always the one you think it will be. We are all partied out at this point and will spend the next few nights at home playing dreidel and eating chocolate gelt. I am happy we were able to do some fun things with the kids. I do feel that we are creating positive memories for them when we make the extra effort to take them somewhere special. That is something that is important to me and that makes all the stress and  logistics involved in planning outings ALMOST worth it. But I am looking forward to getting back to my boring routine.
Happy Channukah to all!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Facebook Family

Glennon on momastery posted an interesting article about how we appear to others versus what the reality is.
In the age of social media all most of us see is the glowing pictures of us and our significant others and children smiling, having fun, going on trips- the picture perfect family.
I am a little guilty of this too. I mean when you post pictures like this

and this

how can you not think that all is well in my household? Everyone is dressed nicely and smiling and looking picture perfect.
Sometimes people compliment me about being calm. "You're so calm" they say. "How do you do it?" I smile and say thank you and fight the urge to tell them that I am in fact not always so calm, and that my children know this very well. For example, just last week M was fighting with A and said to her in a serious tone: "Do I have to raise my voice?" Um...who could he have possibly learned that from? My good friend says we are in fact calm. Because we deal with a lot of drama and craziness all day and then eventually we crack. Room for improvement obviously, but we are actually doing quite well.
(For more on appreciating ourselves, check out this post- Thankful for me)
And so people see those happy pictures and they feel badly because that is now what their reality looks like. Glennon believes in honesty and telling everyone what is truly going on, so others will feel less alone.
I hear that to a certain extent but I do believe that family life is private and your disagreements and imperfections do not have to be laid out for all to see. There is somehow a balance that needs to be struck.
So I don't only post the glossy pics. I post pics of my kid passing out on the floor after a major tantrum

of what my apartment looks like at the end of a long day

and other funny, crazy moments.

Because that is life- sometimes it's calm and good and positive vibes all around. Other times it is screaming children, pandemonium and a mom who just wants to get dressed for 5 minutes in peace. What's your take?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No rest for the weary

This post has been ruminating in my mind for the last two weeks but I have not had a chance to put it into words. I am too busy running this household of six, which is what this is about- raising a family is a lot of work.
I  know this is not  exactly news but sometimes I just feel this reality more than others. The laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, dishes and the constant constant clean up. I clean up after my kids all day long and then when they go to bed at night I spend another hour or two cleaning up some more- putting away books, toys and clean laundry, washing dishes, sweeping floors, wiping down counters. And this past week I added on doing lots of  vomit and poop-laundry as a stomach bug hit Baby AY and some of the other kids.
The crazy thing is the more cleaning I do, the more I see needs to be done.  I am really just covering the basics, I have my running list of projects to get to "when I have time": clean random stuff off the bookcases, wipe off the walls and all those hard to get to corners, organize closets, clean the fridge, wipe down cabinets, etc. The list goes on and on. The funny thing is I actually have cleaning help but once a week really cannot hold us over for a whole week. Usually not more than a few hours actually, once the kids come home and wreak their havoc.
A home requires constant maintenance. I was discussing this aspect with a friend  recently. About the difficult of having spiritual aspirations when most of our life is so physical and really requires us to be hands on all the time. And the impermanence and repetitiveness of all the things we do. I remember once learning that it is all about "who you become in the process". Currently, the only thing I am becoming in the process is cranky and tired. This is something I will need to work out as I go along on this journey. For now I will just keep on cleaning- and possibly relaxing at the end of it all with a nice glass of bubbly wine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things I am thankful for

Although I am not really a fan of Thanksgiving, it is always nice to take stock and appreciate all the great things I have in my life. So in no particular order, some serious, some more in jest, here is my list of things I am thankful for this year:

-My little AY. Turning a year and bringing so much joy into our life. He is at an age where he is busy exploring and is keeping me on my toes, but it is fun to watch him discover things, play with his siblings, and to hear his infectious giggle. Of course I am thankful for my other children, who say the funniest things and always find new creative ways to give me minor heart attacks

- that my kids love spending time with my in-laws. We took a train out to their home today and they were so excited for our little trip. I love that think they view taking a subway and then a train as an adventure (I know, we don't get out much) and that they were looking forward to this little outing for so long, planning it and talking about it at school.  They even spent the morning making special cards to bring my in-laws as a present

- That my big guy is making progress.

I love this kid. Some days he frustrates me so much I want to scream (this is not really unique to special needs, the other kids have that amazing quality too) but the truth is he is really growing a lot. His speech is expanding every day and he amazes us with the things he tells us. We are ever so slowly seeing progress in the last few hurdles of toilet training. He is obsessed with football (and the iPad), loves his baby brother and playing with his cars. If he stopped waking me at 5 15 that would be awesome, but he truly is a great kid and I am thankful for him.

-My Ergo baby carrier that lets me have my hands free when I need them. We decided to leave the stroller home today on our trip, which was a good decision because the train was packed and it also saved time. Enter the ergo. When I need to run down to get the kids from the bus, I often use it too. In the afternoons when AY gets cranky and does not want to get put down and I have to make dinner/give baths. etc, I use the (you guessed it) Ergo.
Riding on my back
I do have a moby wrap and a sling that I use sometimes but this is really the easiest and most functional. Thank goodness for babycarriers.

-My husband. He is supporting me on my venture to obtain a nursing degree which means a lot to me. I know it is not easy for him that I am less available and busier, to have to pitch in more with childcare when my babysitters are not reliable (don't get me started...) and of course to pay for all of it :) But we are doing this thing together, slowly and steadily. It's nice to be a team- in this and all other areas.

-That my dad came to visit for the week bearing gifts- most importantly Belgian Kleinfeld chocolate. Now that is something to be really thankful for....

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Birthday AY

Today, Rosh Chodesh Kislev is my little AY's first birthday.
Hard to believe that in one year he went from this
to this

He is such a happy kid, a pleasure to be with, as long as he is well slept and fed. He loves playing with his brothers and sister and interacting with people in general..his giggle and infectious laugh are an often heard sound in our apartment these days.
For those who are interested in such things and I know most of you are not, his birth story can be found in this post

I hesitated to write this post with all the craziness going on in seemed too happy and carefree. Rest assured Israel is in our thoughts and prayers. We mourn the tragic loss of life and feel for our nation who is once again under fire. May the month of Kislev bring lots of light and miracles into the world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Redefining busy

 When I was newly married and in school, trying to make dinner and master household chores while studying and taking tests I felt busy. When I had an infant with special needs and was balancing therapy sessions and household, I thought my hands were full (by the way, I hate that expression but that's for another post). When I had two kids 15 months apart and moved halfway across the world to become the Rabbi's wife, I had a lot going on. Just when things were getting into a routine, along came baby number , beginning the period of time called "3 kids under 4 in diapers" which was pretty intense 
Then little AY was born. Then I went back to school, taking just one course. This semester I am taking two courses with labs. In September, I hope to start nursing school full-time. Can you say "busy"? 
There are still only 24 hours in a day. I still attempt to get about 7 hours of sleep a night. Yet somehow it all (or most of it) gets done. This is not about bragging about how amazing I am...quite the opposite. This is about the realization about how much we can actually accomplish. Just when we think our days are full, something else gets added to our schedule or responsibilities and we manage to squeeze it in. Then we do it again.
Of course there is always a limit. Eventually something has to give. There needs to be downtime- to eat, relax, recharge, whatever. But it is still pretty cool how much we actually CAN do, even when we think we can't. So give yourself a pat on the back- we are all supermoms :)

On the topic of taking some time for  yourself, read this
To read more about what an amish birth center can tell us about lowering the C-section rate, check this out
And this is the final word on being busy and what moms really do all day:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I love birth :)

I had an interview tonight with a doula client for the first time in a while...I had pretty much taken a break from doula-ing with having a baby and being back in school, but this opportunity presented itself so I decided to go for it.

What I discovered is that I (still) love childbirth- talking about birth, labor, coping mechanisms, educating is truly my passion. It also reaffirms my decision to continue working in this field whether as a doula or in a different role as a nurse.

In other news, I am back to attending yoga weekly. I am loving it, feeling stronger each time and almost almost getting up into a headstand. I know yoga is all about the process, but the competitive/impatient side of me just wants to be able to say I can stand on my head....not sure for what purpose, but it would be kind of cool.

Also, it's snowing and freezing out. It has been quite a crazy two weeks weather wise-  Happy November!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

some crazy/cute stuff going on

Where to begin?

This morning A. said she is going to vote for Romney because he is a friend of Israel and he will lower the price of taxis...we almost died laughing. And we do not talk politics with our kids so she picked this up at school.

AY discovered his shadow this afternoon. It was the cutest thing. he was kneeling by the wall and kept waving his hands and looking and trying to "catch" his shadow by moving or standing up. He was entertaining himself for a while this way and I was being entertained by watching him. It's amazing how kids discover the world. Sometimes I just want to eat him...

On Friday morning I discovered that someone had peed on the bathroom floor....far away from the toilet...intentionally. Said child was very lucky that they were not home when I discovered the sizable puddle. I will not reveal the identity of the offender, but will just say that it is not who you think it is. Seriously, what are my children thinking?

M. had a major tantrum/melt-down on Thursday. The cause of his distress was yogurt, specifically the fact that I would not let him eat straight out of a 32 oz. tub and requested that he eat from a bowl instead.  When he finished screaming and yelling, he fell asleep on the cold kitchen floor, which led me to believe that the cause of his tantrum was really severe exhaustion and not the yogurt. It looked something like this

Yesterday, when cleaning behind the radiator cover in our living room, which I had not done in a long time I discovered about 25 matchbox cars and 20 little wooden blocks that Y had deposited there. He was so excited to have them back and started playing with them right away. I warned him that if he hides them there again, he will not get them back, rather I will throw them out or give them away. 24 hours later, guess where most of the cars and blocks are again. Question is, am I going to follow through on my statement?

That's about all folks. Wishing us all a boring, calm week!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Turns out we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, when it comes to hurricanes. Sandy came and went and we barely felt her. There was a lot of wind and some downed trees, but other than that, our part of town escaped pretty much unscathed. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the metro area. Large parts of NJ are without power, as is Manhattan below 34th Street. 
I almost feel badly to be going about business as usual, when others are really suffering. A and M are back in school already, but Y will be home for the rest of the week. Bus service was reinstated today, subway service is coming back partially tomorrow. It's pretty amazing how quick NYC bounces back. 
While all this is going on, I am still thinking about the terrible murder of those two little children at the hand of their nanny. There is really nothing to say about is terrifying for anyone who ever leaves their kids to think about. I don't have a nanny, but I do have several babysitters who watch my children when I go to school, go to meetings, appointments or even to yoga class. You can only know a person so well and there has to be a certain trust in someone else to care for your children. I kept thinking about the fact that the mother just left the house for an hour or two, to take her daughter to a swim class. The little girl was still seen in the elevator at 5...and was dead by 5 30. How does one even begin to fathom??

This time of year is also when I remember my friend Jenny, z"L. Jenny was a roommate of mine in seminary in Israel and died very suddenly due to a brain hemorrhage two years ago, leaving behind a husband and three young children. 
Her family has started a facebook event in her memory, called  Lashon Hatov. This is what they write:

  • Jenny was an extraordinary individual, with a rightly famous smile that would lift friend and stranger alike, and an immensely sweet and loving nature. November 3rd will be the second anniversary of Jenny’s sudden passing, and we are inviting you to be a part of helping fill the world with a little more love in her beautiful memory.

    The name for this project is Lashon HaTov (literally The Language of Good) and is inspired by the Jewish prohibit
    ion against slander Lashon HaRah (literally The Language of Evil.) Let’s go beyond merely desisting from negative speech and in Jenny’s memory spend one day making an extra effort to speak positively about friends and family.

    You can do Lashon HaTov anywhere, and there is no right or wrong way to be a part of this, but we suggest on November 3rd:

    1. Make a conscious effort to be aware of the power of what we say to others, and what other say to us.
    2. Try to say or do three specific kind words or acts to your best friend/relative/stranger on the street – whoever – that will make them walk taller as a result.
    3. Share your stories and memories of Jenny on the wall below and her shining example of Lashon HaTov.
    4. Invite as many people as possible – let’s make this big people!

    So I am inviting you all to join and bring a smile to someone's face, speak nicely and do good in Jenny's memory. With natural disasters and human made tragedies abounding, we could definitely use a little more light in this world.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Sandy

So, the internet is abuzz with news of Hurricane Sandy. We too are home, waiting to see how this unfolds.
I think the media hyping everything up and reporting every 15 minutes definitely adds to a sense of unnecessary panic. This storm is something to be taken seriously but hysteria never helped anyone.
I happen to be lucky and live in an area of NYC that is expected to be hit very minimally by the storm. I am grateful for that and very happy that I am not in Atlantic City or other parts of New Jersey.
The MTA shut down their transit last night and school is closed today and will remain closed tomorrow. There are concerns about losing power but there is no way to know if and when that will happen. We just feel like we are in limbo here, waiting and waiting for the storm to finally come so it can be over. It has been over 24 hours of waiting with no rain and some wind, but nothing to write home about.
The storm is supposed to hit tonight and then I guess we will see. For now we are just hanging around at home. The kids are mostly entertaining themselves. I had planned to be productive, cleaning up, organizing closets, etc but in the end I opted for the lazy option of reading, knitting and just hanging around. I think I may regret not having spent the day doing more "useful" days, but I am just viewing it as a "mental health day" where there are no obligations- other than keeping my kids entertained and well fed.
In other news, this little man just turned 11 months and is as delicious as always.

He is really a big boy, crawling all around the apartment, getting into stuff and playing with toys. He definitely likes to explore- the toilet and my kitchen cabinets are his favorite places.
He is pretty steady cruising around while holding on, sometimes just with one hand. He also loves the playground, going down slides and just being able to climb all over. When he is well fed and slept, he is delightful, always smiling and laughing and in a great mood. When he is tired or hungry, he gets cranky and clingy, but then, so do some adults I know.
AY is also a voracious eater- he has been having regular dinner with us these past few nights. One night it was pasta and meat sauce, another night chicken, couscous and carrots. He will eat it all. My friends tell me it is a blessing to have a baby who eats and I totally agree..even if it means I am now cooking dinner for 2 adults and 4 hungry kids :)

Also wanted to share my favorite new blog. She is so funny and spot on. It's called Five kids is a lot of kids- fyi, four is a lot of kids too :) Check it out, but just warning there is some talk about bodily functions...something that happens when you have a lot of kids.

Stay safe and dry!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caffeine Update

I have been meaning to update how my little caffeine-free experiment is going. It has been ten days now and I really do feel better without it. No more headaches. I am still tired, which is to be expected with four little ones, including  a baby who still wakes up in the middle of the night and a seven year old who starts  his day at the crack of dawn. But it is manageable fatigue, not the crazy, wake up every-two-hour exhaustion of having a newborn.
I have also taken some time these last two weeks for some self-care, including going back to yoga and going for my birthday massage three months late...
School and life are more manageable now that I have my Mondays and Tuesdays back, although there is always something going on- a toilet-training seminar for kids with special needs, an open house for a nursing program I want to apply to, doctor's appointments for the kids, etc
So my plan is to
a) be organized
b) get sleep
c) stay off caffeine and eat well
d) take some time-outs every once in a while.
Who is joining me with my new routine?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Coffee Habit

I have been a coffee drinker for as long as I can remember...I can probably trace it back to high school, when I started with ice coffee with lots of sugar and worked my way up from there. Over the years I have vacillated the amounts and types of coffee I was drinking- instant, filtered, lattes,... but my coffee habit remained pretty steady. I managed to switch to decaf for some of my pregnancies, yet my coffee mug was pretty much always around.
It was more than the caffeine, to me coffee is synonymous with relaxation. It means- sit down and take a minute for yourself. When I buy a coffee in stores, it is about "treating" myself- someone else is making it for me and all I need to do is enjoy. And fight off my kids who want a sip, but that is a different story.
With sleep deprivation and my busy life though, coffee became more about the caffeine and less about the "relaxation"
This past month has been especially challenging and stressful for me. During this time, I relied on my coffee to get me through.What I was noticing though, was that the coffee was not really working anymore. In fact, it seemed to be hurting me. I was trying to just get through the day, crossing things off my ever expanding to-do list, but instead of feeling energized, I had headaches. Pretty bad headaches. I could usually get rid of my headaches with some advil but did not want to start relying on coffee and advil to get through the day.
I thought I was just especially tired or needed more coffee, but I realized that this would just start an ever worsening cycle of more and more caffeine.
So I decided that my body is sending me a message to stop abusing it...if I want to keep going, do well in school, and keep our home running, I need to take care of myself. This means getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, and taking time to unwind and relax. I am officially cutting out caffeine for the next few weeks to see how I feel without it. I am not going all out on this- giving up caffeine does not include chocolate, the occasional cup of diet coke or other things with caffeine, but it is a start.Because I cannot give up my habit of sipping coffee, I will be switching to decaf to have the "experience" without the caffeine.
So far I am on day 2- I am curious to see if I can keep this up and will notice any noticeable improvement in the way I am feeling. I will keep you posted

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I did it!

In the past few weeks I have deal with:
6 days of yomtov
3 shabbatot
1 major fast
4 large meals with company and countless others for the family
5 weeks of school
3 exams
1 lab report and 2 short assignments
mountains of laundry
children home from school due to non-stop holidays
a baby who still does not like to nap or sleep
a minor foot injury
1 birthday party for my husband
1 nursing school application
...and lived to tell the tale!

I feel accomplished, proud and very very tired. It seemed like every moment I had was allocated towards one project or another, whether it was cooking, studying for an exam or other family business that needed attending to. The last hurdle is this weekend, when we are having a guest speaker at our shul which means yet another big meal to cook/serve and clean up.
I kept telling my friend that I just had to get through till this past Wednesday- and I did.  I am hoping that things will lighten up once we start our regular schedule, where every other day is not a holiday or Shabbos. Although I am not so sure because as soon as yomtov was over, I scheduled about 5 doctor's appointments for the children and myself. But I am not going to worry about that just yet.
For now, I will just try to catch up on some sleep...

Monday, September 24, 2012

10 months

Hard to believe but AY will be turning 10 months on Wednesday.
He is a big boy! In the last two weeks, he has finally gone from creeping on his belly to crawling on all fours consistently. He pulls himself up to stand and is pretty steady on his feet, although not quite letting go.
His favorite new place to play is the bathroom. Primarily splashing in the toilet but also emptying out the garbage, eating dirty tissues and emptying the cabinet beneath the sink. He is definitely exploring a lot. I do not have to do much baby proofing since most of the stuff in our apartment is locked up anyway, but I do need to remember to close the bathroom door. And convince the kids that it is not funny to let him have access to the bathroom.
about to get into stuff again!

AY is happiest when he wakes up in the morning and from his mid-day nap. He smiles and laughs a lot and is babbling quite a bit too. He talks with a certain cadence that makes it sound like he is having a real conversation.
He seems to have adjusted to my being at school twice a week although he does get super excited when I walk through the door. He loves food, particularly bananas and yogurt, like his big brother Y. He gets very excited when he sees food and wants whatever we are having. He has four teeth now and is getting pretty adept at chewing food. We were at an event in the shul on Sunday and one of the other Moms there was amazed that he was having a piece of bagel with cream cheese.
The kids love him but it is not all perfect. A. gets upset because now that AY is mobile, he is touching some of her stuff, which is a big no-no. M seems to be jealous of all the attention he gets and tries to hit him at every opportunity. It's a work in progress, this too shall pass.
a little too much "love"

I wish I had some wise words to share with you for Yom Kippur, but I have not had much time for introspection. Since school and the holidays have started, it has been pretty much go-go-go all the time. What it comes down to in the end though, is a sincere desire to grow and change. The most important part is taking all that passion and turning it into some action, no matter how small. Progress, not perfection, Wishing us all a little bit of progress in the coming year.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I am still here...just really busy with kids back to school, taking the GRE (did well- yay!), starting school myself (good but hard and still need to work out childcare), Rosh Hashana and a million other little details.
Hope to get back into a more regular blogging routine when all the craziness calms down.
Wishing everyone a Shana Tova- may we all have a year of revealed good!

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Day of School

After a long and fun summer, the first day of school has finally arrived! Y started 2nd grade and A is a first
grader. I brought them to school the first morning to meet their teacher and help them feel more comfortable.
A's school had a special assembly for the first graders, where they got name tags and got to meet their teachers.
They then said good bye and went upstairs to be divided into classes. A was happy to be with many of her friends from last year.
Here she is in her new uniform

Y was a little hesitant about going to school, even though we had prepared him for it for a few weeks already. Once he saw his teachers and friends, though, he was much more at ease.
I also met the newest member of his class- the cutest little boy who just happens to have Down Syndrome. He is only 5 and so little, I can't even remember when Y was so little.
M went to school for a grand total of 15 minutes to meet his teachers. He starts on Tuesday, although they are still doing phase-in so he will be going for only an hour.
I start school on Wednesday- I am a little nervous because I will be in school more hours this semester, but hopefully it will all work out.
This morning was the first morning of school buses. We got up extra early because I was not sure when exactly the buses were coming. In the end, Y's bus came at 7 30 and A's bus came at 7 40.
It is going to be hard to coordinate because Y's bus stops in front of our building and A's bus stops across the street. But hopefully once the buses are more regular, we will figure out where to go first.
Y's bus driver is really nice. she gave me her cell phone number and told me that she will keep me posted with updates.
Looking forward to getting more into a schedule...although Rosh Hashana will be interrupting it again :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Last Summer Outing

Today was the last day to do something fun as a family, so we decided to check out Victorian Gardens in Central Park. We had gone there a long time ago, when Y was about 4 years old and A was three and it had not been a success. It was very loud and Y freaked out and refused to even enter the park. They were also too young to enjoy most the rides.
Fast forward a few years and we are giving it another shot. We still were not sure how everyone would do with the loud noise and fast rides but this time it was a total success! We bought the unlimited ride option for the kids, which was a good thing because they went on every single ride- all the fast, up and down, swings, cars, roller coasters. My husband and I were saying how we would never get on these rides ourselves, but the kids all had a great time. AY mostly just watched from his stroller and napped a bit.
We came home tired but very happy. We would definitely go there again although the cost was a bit steep- but we have come to expect that, as Manttan just won the designation as the most expensive place to live in the US.
Here are some of the rides we went on
the fast swings- Y was screaming but came off saying "more"

the tame train

swing- also pretty tame

jumping frogs

the "scariest" ride- M was not allowed on it and was pretty upset about it . we were relieved :)
Let's not forget that today is "labor" say, so I am also sharing something related to birth- check out this great quote from Ina May Gaskin
Happy Labor Day to all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Busy Day

Today was a good day, one in which I got a lot done. I feel accomplished.
Our busy day started with a ride crosstown to First Avenue to drop Y off at his Friendship Circle camp. Anyone who lives in this part of town will tell you that going to First Avenue, is like going to Siberia....Y has been going all week. Aside from the logistics of getting him there and back, he has been having fun although I think he worries that he is missing out on the fun things we are doing at home. He is not altogether wrong as I am trying to spend some quality time with M and A. while he is out.
After he was dropped off, we took another cab downtown to my college to change a class for my upcoming semester. I had attempted to do it over the phone but they insisted that I need to come in. So I brought my crew and thankfully, it only took 10 minutes, in which M and A kept themselves busy watching videos on the iPad.
The next step of our journey was to Brooklyn- A. really wanted to go to a playspace there and I had promised her we would go at some point over vacation.
The train was right next to my college, so we hopped on and arrived at Kids N Action about 45 minutes later. The kids had a blast- AY had fun too. He slept on the ride there so he was in a great mood when we arrived. We stayed about 2.5 hours and then took 3 subways home. The kids were good sports about it and it only took a little over an hour.
Once we got home, I started cooking for shabbos. And then after putting the kids to bed, I also cleaned the apartment because my cleaning lady/housekeeper of six years has decided to disappear on me and stop answering my phone calls.
Now I am relaxing a bit even though I should be studying for the GRE which I am taking less than two weeks from now.
At this point I am pretty much counting down the days till school starts. We are ready- we have our clothing, our shoes, haircuts, backpacks, school supplies, etc. Now all we need to do is actually drop them off....still have another week to go!

Monday, August 27, 2012

My new knitting stash

I have not really had much time or enthusiasm for knitting  recently. I was finishing up some projects here and there, but nothing too exciting. Then I decided to finally go redeem my $50 gift certificate at the Lion Brand Studio on 15th Street. I had gotten the gift certificate when AY was born but never seemed to make it to that  part of town. Did I mention that he is already 9 months old?
But I finally got my act together and ta-da, here are my new knitting projects for the next few months:
I have 10 skeins of yarn and have my patterns all picked out. I already started on a hat, which you can see at the top of the pile. Of course, I am not quite sure when I will be knitting all this, being that I am busy with studying for the GRE, filling out applications, getting the kids ready for school, life, etc. Somehow it will all get done. I hope to be posting pictures of finished projects soon!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

9 Months

Baby AY is turning 9 months tomorrow. That means he has been around as long as he was gestating in my belly...petty cool!

At 9 months, we are finally getting into a schedule (which, ironically happened while we were on vacation in Israel, because of course your child decides to put himself on a schedule when it would be easier if he wasnt!) which in an ideal world is
7 am wake up
9 30- 11 30 nap
2- 3 30 nap
7 pm bedtime (usually wakes up once in the middle of the night to nurse)
In reality, AY is the lightest sleeper on the planet and he is constantly being woken up from his naps because his siblings are screaming, walking and sometimes just breathing near his room. I am hoping this will get better once the kids are in school. For now I walk around begging everyone to be quiet and use their indoor voices. My husband thinks I am obsessive and that we can't all walk on eggshells because the baby is sleeping. This might be true but he does not have to deal with a cranky baby who has not napped enough because his brothers decided to come say "hi" while he was sleeping...

Some other cool things AY does:
- He eats pretty much anything. He loves food and has gotten the hang of chewing and swallowing without gagging which means no more mushing up vegetables. Because he is my fourth, wants to eat everything he sees us eat and I don't want to deal with him crying, he has sampled  cookies, french fries and pizza. But I am not a terribly neglectful mom. Most days, he eats yogurt, bananas (and other fruit) and pretzels.
-He still gets around by creeping on his tummy. He goes up on all fours but does not like to crawl that way
-He picks himself up to stand and loves to stand like that by the couch
-He smiles and laughs a lot. He loves playing with his big brother Y.
-He is already getting into cabinets and drawers which means it is time yet again to baby proof
-He takes a pacifier for sleeping but is not attached to it like some of our other kids

He is however attached to me. He is in a full-on Mommy stage, which means every time he is near me, he wants to be held and play with me. Sometimes he will play next to me on the floor but mostly he will cry to be picked up. He does not want Abba or the babysitter, he just wants me.
This is very cute and flattering, but also very annoying because Mommys have things to do other than hold babies. Such as make dinner, fold laundry, sweep the floor, etc. I could try and wear him while I do these things but he has not been a fan of babywearing recently and my back is still giving me problems when I carry him for long periods. Plus some of these activities (ie cooking) are not safe to do while holding a baby.
Sometimes I try to hide so I can do stuff but my cover is usually blown when he hears my voice and starts crying because he wants to be with me. Like everything, this is a stage, so I will try not to get too bent out of shape by it. Though I will confess to having put him in his crib one morning where he cried while I sat and drank my coffee in (relative) peace and quiet
- AY is also a big talker. He babbles and coos a lot and sounds like he is trying to tell us important things.

I cannot believe we are slowly heading to the 1 year mark. Check out this yummy boy!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School

And once again it's late Frriday.
It has been a busy week of getting everything into order, mailing in health forms, and other administrative stuff. We were also busy getting ready for school (only 2 weeks left, but who is counting?) otherwise known as "credit card please".
Getting four kids outfitted and ready for school/fall is not cheap- there is clothing, socks, shoes, school supplies, hair cuts, backpacks...even with passing clothing down from kid to kid it still adds up. But thank G'd for these kind of problems- 3 healthy kids eager to go back to school and one yummy baby who will be mostly  hanging out with me.
Good Shabbos to all

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Israeli Kids Stay Up Late

One thing that I noticed when we were in Israel was that all the kids were out late. I know it was vacation so no one had to get up for school but people bring their children everywhere- to restaurants, to the kotel late at night and even to wine tastings.
It does not really bother me personally what other people do with their kids with although I did witness quite a few meltdowns from little two year olds who were crying that they could not walk/stand anymore at 11 pm at night. It must just be a cultural thing, possibly weather related- it is definitely cooler at night in Jerusalem, or maybe they just really cannot afford a babysitter.
I, however, am not going to be catching on to this trend anytime soon. Here is why. I have a limited amount of energy and patience. My kids are early risers, they seem to wake up with the sun, some days even before the sun comes up. After getting up early and spending most of the day with them (remember, summer vacation- all day every day), I am usually reaching my limit by around 7 pm.
So we read books, brush our tooth and call it a night. Most of the time, they are also exhausted by the activities of the day so they fall asleep pretty quickly. Even AY seems to finally be on a schedule (yay!) and goes to bed around 7.
And then, when they are all sleeping, it is QUIET. At which point I can relax- blog, read and sometimes even go out on a date with my husband. We found a wonderful babysitter in Israel and took advantage, going out about twice a week. I could not imagine dragging my kids along. It would not be fun- for them or me. They need their sleep. When they do not sleep enough they are cranky and even crazier than usual. And if you think because they go to sleep late they will wake up late in the morning, you are mistaken. Less sleep and more time chasing after them, would make for one cranky Mommy.
Additionally, I cannot imagine my children actually behaving themselves- eating nicely in a restaurant, sitting quietly at the kotel, watching us sample wines at the Wine festival. Our children are always in movement and therefor always need someone supervising them.
So while I do love all things Israel, taking kids out late at night is not a trend I will be following anytime soon. Instead, I will continue to savor the quiet and take advantage of the time off to sit and enjoy myself, without anyone tugging at me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Family Pics

My mother likes to have  professional pictures of the family taken each year. She says it's a nice way to see how everyone has grown. For the past two years we had the opportunity to take pictures with most, if not all of my siblings. This year, the timing did not work out but we still had a photo session in Jerusalem for just our family.
The photographer came to us which made getting ready much easier. He also did a wonderful job and we have many many great shots. I won't share all of them, just a few to show off my cute kids. You can also see how big they have all gotten. Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2012

out of time

The kids woke me at 5 am so I was sure I would get it all done today, including a blog post.  Now it's 5 minutes to candle lighting so my update will have to wait.
We arrived Wednesday night, everyone is jet lagged but doing well and happy to be home. I am looking forward to a hopefully restful shabbos.
Good Shabbos to all-more updates and great pictures next week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Still here

I know I have been awfully quiet. It's partially laziness, partially being busy, partially sharing one computer with my husband and partially because I do not really have much to say other than- "We are having fun, time is going too fast, we are getting on the plane on Wednesday already!!"
Being in Israel always does bring up a lot of feelings for me, but nothing I can really put into a coherent blog post :) So bear with me and stay tuned...more to come soon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Full Days

We are continuing to have a great time here in the Holy Land. Still no pictures to prove it unfortunately.
This morning I had the opportunity to meet an old friend for brunch. She has my dream job- she works as a midwife in a busy Jerusalem hospital. She told me on her last shift, she delivered 3 babies. Pretty cool. We talked shop for a while about birth, doulas (how she feels about them when they question her as a caregiver), doctors, my nursing school aspirations, etc. We also just caught up about life in general. It was really nice but I made the mistake of walking home around 12 30 in the heat of the day- uphill. By the time I had picked the older kids up from the sitter (AY was with me) I was pretty wiped.
After rehydrating, we ventured back out to our playspace we had discovered last week with my sister and her cute kids. Unfortunately, others had discovered it too. It was mobbed and not as peaceful as last time. It was harder to keep tabs on the kids and they were complaining about having to wait on line. They still had a nice time though.
We have full days here, that start early (Y is usually up by 6 or so) and keep on going. By 7 or so, the kids fall into bed and I want to do the same. No complaints though...the trip is going way too fast and before we know it, we will be back on a plane. So we are trying to make the most of it, before it is over!
For some comic relief, check out Amber's post at Crappy Pictures about leaving the house with kids. I can totally relate.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The 100$ mosquito bite

Sometimes as a veteran mom, I think I already know all there is to know. People often tell me that I am a calm, relaxed mom, and most of the time I think that is true. I do not usually get freaked out by a runny nose or a nasty fall.
But recently my Mommy intuition has failed me. About two months ago, a few hours before shabbos, M. was acting weird and lying in bed. When I asked him if he was feeling sick, he burst out crying. Having recently gone through a shabbos with a screaming child who had strep and needed antibiotics, I wanted to take care of it right away. So I ran out to a walk-in medical clinic. We had to wait a bit and while we were waiting, it became clear to me that M. was not sick, rather wanted to be special and have antibiotics. So I came home an hour before Shabbos with a perfectly healthy child feeling kind of stupid.
Fast forward to our trip in Israel and little AY is covered in what looks like a rash or possibly bites. They are different sizes and some of them are red and swollen. For a few days I dismiss them as mosquito bites, especially because he does not seem particularly bothered by them. Today for some reason, though, I decided that there are so many of them, I want someone to take a look at them. So I walk down to the nearby clinic and ask how much it would cost to be seen. They tell me 500 shekel (about 120$), so I swallow and say okay. I send the older kids to lunch with my husband and spend about a half hour waiting. Apparently there are others with Erev Shabbos emergencies. When we finally get to see the doctor, he is English speaking and very nice. He confirms that indeed, AY has a bad case of mosquito bites. He is nice enough to validate my concerns and say that I was right to check it out. He recommends calamine lotion and sent us on our way.
I guess you win some, you lose some. There was also a time I took Y to the doctor on a whim, even though he did not seem that sick, and he did have strep. I would rather be safe than sorry, but I also don't want to be running to the doctor every 5 minutes. It's a balance I guess.I am sure over time I will learn to be more discerning- and to identify mosquito bites on a baby.
Wishing everyone a beautiful Shabbos

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trip down Memory Lane

Now that we have gotten through Tisha B-Av and jet lag, we are having a lot of fun here. Unfortunately we do not have a camera to document any of it. Our digital camera is as old as Y (7) and has finally died. We usually use our phones but they do not work in this country. It's a shame, but the truth is memories are being made, even if I do not have the pictures to prove it.
We spent some more time with cousins who were (ironically enough) going to NY for vacation. Today we found a great play space for the kids, that is not overcrowded with the "bein hamzanim" throngs. It was not cheap but the kids played for at least two hours and would have stayed longer had we not decided it was time to get going.
This place was near Har Nof (I won't say where, this place is staying our seceret), our old neighborhood, so we decided to swing by and show the kids our old apartment and visit the neighbors. It was kind of surreal. In certain ways, things had changed- the lobby of our old apartment building looked different, some stores had closed while others had opened, etc. In other ways, it was like we never left. We visited our neighbors, who lived right next door. They were so happy to see us and meet our younger kids. They are so sweet. I took the kids into our old apartment and was expecting to feel a lot of nostalgia, but really it felt foreign. Kind of familiar but with other people's stuff and furniture in it, it did not feel like ours at all. The kids really do not remember it, as Y was about 16 months  old when we moved and A was pretty much a newborn.
It really felt like a different life time. There was also a big gaping hole, where a mountain used to be. In an effort to use any build-able space, someone seems to be building apartment buildings into the mountain between Shaulzon and Agassi. Where the 200 steps used to be, there is just a hole and lots of debris. It's pretty crazy to think that if we come back two years from now, there will be new apartment buildings in that space.
But I am learning that life goes on without you...just because we have not been to Har Nof in four years does not meant that things are not constantly evolving. When we visited last summer, my sister's daughter was a little baby, This year she is a real toddler.
At the risk of sounding like an old lady, I will try to enjoy my time here while it lasts. Before we know it, we will be back on a plane and getting ready for a new school year.

Also apropos nothing, here is a great article about disabilities, "having it all" and having enough- Enjoy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good Shabbos from the Holy Land

Somehow it is Friday already. Not quite sure how that happened. It's been a week of wacky sleep- lots of middle of the night wake-ups, midday naps and sleeping late. We had four children on different schedules which sometimes meant one kid was waking up as another was going to sleep.
In terms of activities: we visited with family, checked out some parks and even made it to the Kotel. As we transition into shabbos and then tisha beav, I hope we become more acclimated to the Israel schedule and routine.
Wishing everyone a wonderful shabbos

Monday, July 23, 2012

We have arrived

Because we are crazy like that, we have had a busy week. First, we were severely delayed on the way home from Florida... due to rainstorms in NYC we got home with 4 cranky and exhausted kids after midnight. After very little sleep, Thursday and Friday had me disassembling and then reassembling the contents of all my kitchen cabinets so an exterminator could aggressively treat out kitchen (and the rest of the apartment). Due to construction in the building, we had been dealing with some unwelcome visitors and the situation was getting out of hand. I am hoping this finally took care of the issue.
Friday was also spent packing, running last minute errands and trying to get the apartment cleaned up before our Sunday flight (more on that later).
Shabbos was my birthday- ta da. I was a bit too tired to get really excited for it, but it ended up being a nice day. My kind husband gave me the gift of sleep and did some extra diaper duty and the kids had made me nice cards. Still on my wishlist for my birthday:
-sleep (will probably not be getting much of that
- massage- will definitely be doing that. My back is still giving me problems.
- some more alone/quiet/mommy time, whatever you like to call it ;)
Notice how all these gifts involve some sort of self-care/indulgence. Every once in a while a care-taker has to take care of herself/

Sunday was the big day- our long awaited flight to Israel for our yearly trip. Honestly, I was a bit too stressed/anxious about getting ready to be really excited for this trip. But now that we are's so nice.
The flight was about as good as you can expect when traveling with 4 little kids. No delays or waits, a bassinette and an extra seat and mostly cooperative kids with no major tantrums/meltdowns. The stewardesses and passengers around us all fell in love with Baby AY and commented on how cute and smiley he is. He is all of those things but after 6 plys hours of holding him almost non stop, I was quite ready for his royal cuteness to sleep a bit!!
We are all kind of exhausted and jet lagged but psyched to be here to see family and friends...after we get some more sleep!!

Monday, July 16, 2012


I have to confess, that I am very attached to my android smartphone and laptop. In fact, I started this blog post on my trusty phone. I use my phone to communicate with teachers, therapists, and other work I need to take care of for the kids or myself. I shop for diapers, clothing and food on my laptop. I keep my to-do lists on it and keep track of  meetings with apps. But I would be lying if I said I only use my phone to help me be more efficient.
I also text my friends to check in on them and share my day and sometimes waste time on facebook and reading blogs I like. And some days I could do a better job of leaving the phone in my purse and being more present with my kids. Which is why vacation is always nice. 
I have my phone with me, but the service is not great. I also do not take it along most of the time when we go out to the pool or to other activities. At night I do not spend as much time on the computer as I do at home, although I do try to keep up with emails...because somehow the work never stops fully.
Still, it is nice to take a little "communication break" while we are here. The truth is, though, that I would not want it to be this way all the time.
A friend of mine is away for the summer in a place where she has very limited phone and internet access. She feels cut off from the world but not in a good way. She feels lonely and abandoned. Because, for many, mothers of young children, our days often seem long and isolated. We are home or at the park with our kids. Nobody know that we have just changed the 10th diaper of the day or cleaned yet another apple juice spill. And while, it is not earth shattering, it is nice to sometimes be able to share the little things with someone to feel less like it is us alone in the big bad world. As pathetic as it may sound, it is so validating to have someone else empathize and even just say "poor you, I hope your day gets better/ he starts sleeping/ he stops having accidents every 20 minutes."
That, I think, is often the appeal of mom-blogs and list-serves/websites for mothers. We want to share. Even if we cannot always physically get together with our friends for coffee, we connect over the internet or through texting and sharing random pictures of our hilarious children. To know there are others like us, doing the same work, which is sometimes amazing and sometimes amazingly frustrating.
So while I am enjoying this little break from reality, once we get back from summer and head back into a more scheduled/routine life, I will definitely be using my phone again. I will try to be mindful not to obsess and to be in the moment as well, but I will be texting and blogging and sharing on facebook to make me feel a little more connected to others like me.
Plus, then I would not be able to share cute pictures like this...AY eating his first ice cream that Y so graciously shared with him :)

What are your thoughts on social media?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcome to Camp Mama

Summer vacation is 3 months long here in nyc. That is a lot of time to entertain the kiddos.
For the past month, we have been keeping busy with camp mom. It basically consisted of outings to local parks, children's museums and the like. It was working pretty well except for complaints from my 5 year old teenage daughter that everything is "boring".
This week we have moved to phase 2 of our vacation. We flew down to Florida on Wednesday to spend a week with my in-laws. The kids are veteran travelers and were pretty well behaved. The whole thing went smoothly. We left home at 7 45 and arrived at their house by 1 30. Good practice for,our upcoming trip to Israel.
Life is much more slow paced down here. It's nice to just hang out with nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do.
The plan for the week is to spend lots of time in the water and relaxing. We do an activity with the kids in the morning (zoo, park, etc) and in the late afternoon, when most people have left, we go to the pool. I bought them bathing suits with floaties inside. They look a bit silly but they work
My mother in law did a great job researching all the kid friendly activities in the vicinity. We joke  around that this week the kids are in Camp Mama (what my kids call my mother in law).

Here are some pictures from camp mama. Good shabbos to all!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hungry Boy

Little AY is not so little anymore. He is growing every day and a hungry boy.
I started him on solids a bit before his six month birthday because he was very interested in the food we were eating. I usually skip the rice cereal stage because it has very little nutritional value.
We started with some fruits and vegetables. It took some time for him to get used to a spoon and swallowing. He liked sweet potato and squash but was not really so into the carrots and peas.
Then we tried yogurt and he was super excited. Not surprising, considering how my other kids love yogurt and dairy products.
The problem is that he wants to eat everything. Whenever he sees one of us eating, he wants in on the action. But he is not quite ready for all the different types of food. Right now we are still doing mostly smooth foods, but he is also becoming better at slightly lumpy foods such as mashed banana.
Because he is my fourth and I am more relaxed about things, and I don't like to see him cry, here are some of the things he has sampled in the last few days: chocolate chip muffins, challah, french fries, melon, pizza crust, mango froz fruit. He cannot really eat most of this stuff so he usually he just sucks on it a bit.
But today, in addition to nursing, he actually ate 2 yogurts and an entire banana. Did I mention that he is getting a bit heavy for babywearing :)
I am glad that he is interested in food though. Y is such a picky eater that I am grateful for kids who like to eat. He is also so cute when he eats, making little happy"um, um" sounds. I wanted to snap a picture of him devouring his banana today but I could not because he gets upset when I put the spoon down because I am not feeding him fast enough put the spoon down. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

On the special needs front, check out this blog post from Glennon at Momastery.  She writes that she has always loved children with Down Syndrome, so when she was pregnant with her first child and the doctors  suspected that he had Down Syndrome, she was not put off by it. When her son Chase was born and the doctors determined that he was perfectly typical, she was almost disappointed. It's an interesting read.
Feel free to post links to any interesting articles you have seen around this week.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My baby is finally sleeping- but I am not

Baby AY was a decent sleeper for the first 3 months or so. He took a few naps a day (although never scheduled) and slept a five hour stretch at night. Then at three-four months, something went haywire. He started waking up every 2-3 hours at night and usually cat napped in the stroller but did not take longer naps anymore.
It was very frustrating not to be able to have a chunk of time to get things done during the day, because I never knew when he would be waking up. Usually it was at the most inopportune times, like when my hands were sticky with challah dough that I was kneading. For a while I chalked it up to teething, but there were no teeth to be found.
He was also extremely sensitive to noise. Not a good thing for a fourth child in a loud family. A door opening, the door bell, the phone...anything would wake him up. It was not a great situation. I kept trying to put him on a schedule but he was totally erratic, waking and going to sleep at totally different times. He also started to fight going to sleep. If I tried to put him down to nap when he was so tired that he was rubbing both his eyes, he would just howl. I was a cranky and tired mommy.
My friend kept telling me it was time to move him out of my bedroom. I agreed but was worried about having to actually get up and go into the next room in the middle of the night. I was not sure how M would take to sharing his room. And I was very nervous what the kids would do to him in the morning when they woke up before me. All out of love...but still.
Last week I put him in the crib in M's room a few nights in the middle of the night. I would nurse him at 11, put him in the room, then wake up at 3 to his crying, and stumble back to my bedroom with him, where he spent the rest of the night. It was not working well.
This week, though, the kids decided they wanted M to "sleep over" in their room. We dragged a mattress into their room and since Saturday night, M has been sleeping with them, leaving the other bedroom open for AY.
And amazingly, he is actually sleeping. This week he has slept an about 6-9 hours straight. 11-5, 9-5, ...whatever it is, I will take it.  When he wakes up around 5 or 6, I will usually bring him into our bedroom to nurse and sleep a few more hours, thereby ensuring that no one wakes him up and/or jumps into his crib.He seems to need a quiet environment for sleep and that is fine with me. The only problem is, I am still not sleeping well. Most nights I have woken up several times to make sure he is not crying. With our air conditioning blasting, I am nervous that I will not hear him. So far that has not been the case, and I know I can get a baby monitor if I am really worried, but my body is so used to sleeping lightly, that I find myself waking up at 3 or 4 or 5  for no reason. Add to that that most nights some other child is waking us up and I am still one tired mommy.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am hoping in the next few days my sleep rhythm will re-regulate itself and I will actually sleep a 6-8 hour stretch. If you could bottle uninterrupted sleep and sell it, that is what I would want for my upcoming birthday.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week in Review

It has been a busy week in our household. Some highlights:
- I took 2 exams and a final and am now officially DONE until September. Yay. I actually really liked the class- Anatomy and Physiology. It is really cool to learn how the body works. Some of it connected to my work as a doula (i.e bones of the pelvis) and some if it to my yoga practice. My teacher always talks about the different muscles we are strengthening and now I actually know what she is talking about. And it was also good to see that my kids managed without me with a competent babysitter.

- Y's birthday- 7 years old. Crazy, crazy that he is so big. We had a party at school for him on Tuesday and another small celebration at home on Thursday. He was very excited. When asked what he wants for his birthday, he said "cars" even though we have a ton of matchbox cars already. If that is what makes him happy though, we will get a few more. In some ways he has grown so much this year, in other areas we are still struggling. But that is not necessarily unique to special needs. Every child has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Y at his party, looking a bit overwhelmed...

-Speaking of seven, Baby AY turned 7 months this week. Not quite as momentous an occasion as 7 years old yet still exciting. He is sitting very well, although still cannot get into sitting position by himself. He crawls around the apartment looking for me and saying 'mamamama". Not sure if he means me, but it's cute nonetheless.

sitting up nicely
enjoying the swings with Papa

- Camp Mom is in full swing as everyone is now officially done with school. Y's last day was Wednesday. We have been exploring different playgrounds but have been a bit limited by the fact that I had to leave to school by 2. This week we will have more time and perhaps attempt a more extensive adventure. When we are home, the kids have surprised me by playing together really nicely and imaginatively. Of course that involves taking out every toy we own, but it is still nice to see that they can play by themselves.

kids doing crazy gymnastics at home
A. and I had a little date at the Museum of Natural History. Check out those elephants
EDITED- added  pictures so you can see the kids' antics.

What summer adventures have you been up to?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Closed for Studying

I am busy memorizing muscles for Wednesday and then have a final on Thursday, so I will not be updating.
Here are some links about feminism/ women working/opting out to keep you busy.

1% wives are helping kill feminism

Why women can't have it all

Are Stay at Home Moms Really Killing Feminism

The Case against Opting Out

As you can see  this topic is of interest to me. So many thoughts, so little time...maybe on Thursday when I am (finally) done!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Special Needs Links Edition

A few interesting things I came across this week on the special needs front:

A beauty pageant for individuals with special needs, where everyone gets an award, as reported by Ellen at Love that Max. Check it out, the pictures are really amazing.

A young man with Down Syndrome who owns his own restaurant.Tim Harris is 26, and is the owner of Tim's Place where they serve great food and hugs. None other than People Magazine reported on this very unique young man. Read the article here.

Lastly, my husband wrote an article about the comraderie of parents of children with special needs and the crazy stuff Y has done over the years. Safety awareness is a work in progress. I can't post a link but you can find it in this week's Mishpacha magazine.

Have a wonderful shabbos and stay cool.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confessions of a Lactivist

I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding. I truly believe that breast is best, that the nutrients are superior to any formula man can make. There are so many things I love about it- the closeness with my babies, the ease and convenience, being able to just roll over, nurse and go back to sleep in the middle of the night, never having to drag along bottles and formula when going out, etc, etc.
This is the point where I insert a big "but". I love breastfeeding but there are obviously also things I do not like as much
- the fact that breastfed babies usually sleep through the night later
- when babies are fussy and refuse to nurse in certain positions which makes nursing in public very challenging (thankfully AY seems to finally have outgrown this annoying habit
-having to be careful about eating or drinking certain foods which may not be great for baby .ie caffeine, cabbage, broccoli,  alcohol, etc.
- the fact that breastfeeding is all me all the time. On the one hand it is nice to be so "needed", on the other hand it is also very draining and sometimes I just want a break.
-Pumping- This has become more of an issue, now that I am out of the house about four hours a day four times a week. During the spring semester, I was only out of the house two hours twice a week. I had to pump milk but not that much and not so often. 
Now I am pumping about twice a day and am really not enjoying it. I only have a hand pump which is a lot more labor intensive. I also have a hard time getting a let-down on a pump so I am always nervous that I do not have enough milk. 
 AY has recently started solids, so the pressure is a bit less, because he usually eats a yogurt while I am out but I still need to pump and do not look forward to my pumping sessions. I am happy that I only have a bit over a week left to this course, but I really do have new found respect for full-time working moms who make the commitment to pump for their babies. 
What I have decided though, and it took me to till the fourth child to realize this, is that while breastfeeding is certainly the ideal, if I had to supplement with formula, it would not be the end of the world. Case in point- three months ago I attended a good friends wedding. I knew I would be away for a large part of the day and really tried to build up a milk stash, but was going through a low supply phase and knew I did not have enough. Rather than spend hours worrying about my hungry and crying baby, I bought some formula so the sitter would have a back-up. He ended having about 6 oz. of formula and nothing happened :)
I have spoken to two other mothers recently who echoed the same sentiment. They are committed to breastfeeding but if for some reason, they cannot pump or are worried about amounts, they will happily supplement with formula. This may sound like common sense, but many breastfeeding "purists" would look down on such scenarios and say I was not "committed" enough.
I want to clarify that I think that breastfeeding is not encouraged enough in the United States. There are many women who are under-informed and I would love to help advocate and educate for breastfeeding, either as a L&D or post partum nurse.  I also think that just because something is hard sometimes, does not mean we should throw in the towel right away. Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging in the beginning and sometimes even months in. But it is a worthwhile investment in your child.
And is not perfect. In a perfect world, your child would never have a drop of formula, never be left to cry and always have all their needs met immediately. But life is not perfect and we do the best we can and if that means a bottle of formula now and then that is okay.
What are your thoughts on this issue?