Thursday, December 30, 2010

A complicated and confusing thing

It is a known and probably medically documented fact that throughout my premature labor with Rachel, I repeatedly expressed my fervent desire for my children to be at least a full year apart. Rachel had her own plans and was born a little over two weeks before her big sister's first birthday. Thus began the most unpleasant of our family traditions: The Sixteen Days of Injustice. Wherein Anna laments loudly and often about how terrible - indeed painful - it is to have a sister who has the nerve to be the same age. Observance of this period involves whining, backtalk and general crankiness. There is no cure or effective treatment. We just have to wait until the storm breaks every year on December first.

Anna turned six. SIX. And she talks about Rachel having nerve. As we left the house in the morning we walked outside into the first snow of the year. Fat snowflakes fell onto Anna's excited face as she declared that Hashem was celebrating her birthday too.

After school Rachel went to Grandma's house so that I could pick Anna up without her pesky little sister. We went to three different stores to find her the right pillow pet, then hung out at home together. First she put on some makeup.

Then we washed it off. Except for the lipstick of course.

Then she agreed to pose for me like a six-year-old.

Then she got silly outside with the snow and Sienna, her new pillow pet.

Then it was off to Grandma's house for the party. She asked that Grandma make her birthday cake and she wouldn't say what kind of cake she wanted. "Surprise me," she told my mom.

Family favorite Heath bar cake! Perfect.

And finally, she threw Mommy the "put the camera away, woman!" look, signaling an end to the festivities.

Throughout the day Anna commented several times that she didn't feel different. She didn't want to feel different but she didn't feel six yet and she wasn't sure how she felt about that. "It's just a really complicated and confusing thing," she told me.

Welcome to life, kid! Happy birthday Anna.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Scene from the drive home

I am driving with three five-year-olds in my car. Strapped safely into their car seats in the back, they still find a way to huddle and whisper. Giggles float toward the front of the car and I can't help but ask about the source of the hilarity.

Tali, a good friend of the girls, tells me that she's going to say to The C Word. I have to know, so I ask what she thinks the c word is. "Crap!" she says, and the laughter explodes.

Not to be outdone, Anna announces that she is going to say The D Word. And what might that be? "Diarrhea!" she screams, and the girls can barely contain themselves now.

Rachel chimes in and yells, "I'm going to say The F Word!" And that is? "FUCK!"

And scene.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rachel turning five

Rachel turned five last week. Before she went to bed on the 14th she made me tell her again about her arrival into the world. She knows that her story is different from her sister's and she enjoys hearing about how Daddy held her first, how she had to go to the special care nursery for a week but got well quickly and was home in time for Thanksgiving. After the birth story I tucked her into bed and we said goodbye to four.

At 5am on the 15th I hear her whisper into my ear, "Mommy? Am I, am I, am I... am I FIVE?" I opened my eyes and saw the anticipation in her face. When she got the answer she was waiting for she giggled in delight and climbed into my bed for birthday snuggles.

I let her choose how the day would go. At school she got the standard preschool celebration. A crown, of course, and cupcakes to hand out to her classmates.

After school we went shopping for her present. The girls have been nagging me for weeks for pillow pets. So Rachel got hers, a purple unicorn she named Uni. She is in LOVE.

After that she wanted to hit the local playground. As it was 47 degrees, we had the whole place to ourselves. She got to bounce,

strike a pose,

tackle her favorite dinosaur,

and even fly a bit.

When we could no longer feel our fingers, we went home for a viewing of The Little Mermaid, something Rachel hasn't asked for in almost a year. Then we went to visit the great-grandparents where she allowed herself to be showered with affection.

After a dinner of cheesy eggs and chocolate chip pancakes, the princess was presented with an ice cream cake.

After a few bites she mentioned that her tummy hurt. So she put on her new outfit and lay down on her new pillow pet.

Ten minutes later she threw up. And end of celebration.

Vomit aside, it was a wonderful day. Sometimes I wish I could afford a huge castle bouncy party and all the toys my girls can scribble onto their lists. Then I see how ecstatic Rachel gets over a stuffed animal and time spent in an abandoned playground and it brings me back to reality.

This kid is amazing. She is creative and hilarious and fierce and confident. I can't wait to see what five brings. Happy birthday, Rachel.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Who's on first?

I've mentioned previously how much I enjoy the conversations I get to overhear or take part in with my class of three- and four-year-olds. This week was a pretty hectic one all around and today in particular was pure chaos. At the end of the morning I was on the playground with the last few children waiting for their parents when a little boy unsure of his carpool situation approached me.

"Morah Meredith, are you taking me home?"
"No, your mommy is."
"My mommy is taking you home?"
"No, your mommy is taking you home."
"Oh. Is someone taking you home?"
"I'm taking myself home."
"You're taking your cell phone?"
"Sweetie? Have a great weekend, ok?"

Saturday, November 06, 2010


"Who are you?"

My husband whispers into the dark space on his side of the bed. A child has nestled there and he can't tell which one it is. The soft mass of strawberry scented hair in his face is no help. As my girls have explained to strangers, they are twinish. Certainly too difficult to distinguish in a dark bedroom at 5am.

There is no response, only thumb sucking and unfortunately that means it could be either one of them. I reach over and feel long-sleeved, cuffed pajamas. No help, they both went to bed in similar pjs. The child remains silent, though I can hear soft giggles muffled by the thumb.

I slide my fingers down her arm and find a dry, slender hand. Long, smooth, warm fingers instantly curl around my thumb and squeeze like she did as an infant.

"Good morning, Anna."

Friday, November 05, 2010

Super powers

Anna is filling me in her day, describing a game she played on the playground.

"We were all superheros and we all had super special powers!" I was about as unsurprised as is humanly possible when she announced that she was Anna the Dog with Special Biting Powers.

And Rachel? "Mommy, I was Rachel the Dog!" I send up a quick prayer that Anna's abiding obsession with dogs isn't rubbing off on her sister. "But I had Special Running Powers!"

Anna has an idea. "You could be Super Mommy with Puffy Tummy Power - you would make people feel so cozy!" At this, the girls start giggling hysterically.

I have to ask, "What about Daddy? What's his super power?" She thinks for a minute.

"Daddies hug you really hard... and.... well, they just love you!"

Thursday, November 04, 2010


"Mommy, why isn't there any sugar in the sugar bowl?"

"How do you know there isn't any sugar in the sugar bowl?"

"... well, I looked." She emphasizes the word looked, making sure I don't think she was eating the sugar. Rachel has a history.

"That is why there isn't any sugar in the sugar bowl."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An afternoon chat

"Mommy, I want to have a boy baby who grows up to be a daddy." Rachel is pondering her future. "And then I will have a girl baby who grows up to be a mommy."

"That sounds nice, sweetie."

"And they will marry each other!"

All hope of skipping over this comment is lost by my surprised giggle. Anna immediately zeroes in on an issue and begins her inquisition.

"Why is that funny? Why? What do you mean that a brother can't marry a sister? Why? Stop laughing and TELL ME!"

I'm stuck, floundering for an answer. They're not allowed. Why not? The Torah says they can't. Why? Have you learned about genetics yet in kindergarten? Heh heh, never mind.

Who wants ice cream?

Monday, June 07, 2010

This pretty much sums up their relationship right now

Rachel stands in the hallway changing her clothes for the fourth time today. This time she chooses a white robe with a row of buttons down the front. She is patiently working on the five buttons but it's taking her awhile.

Anna spots the struggle from across the room and leaps into big sister mode. "Oh Rachel, let me help you!" She goes to her sister and leans down to complete the job while Rachel coos her affection and gratitude.

When all of the buttons are done Anna stands up and kisses Rachel on the cheek and they share a hug. It is during this hug that Anna spots the mermaid embroidered on the robe and realizes that it is in fact her robe and so she shrieks, "RACHEL!" A shoving match ensues, complete with high-pitched screaming.

And that is their relationship right now: love, affection, tenderness, rage.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The bashful graduate

Anna graduated preschool last Friday. As much as this child loves attention, she does not enjoy the spotlight being thrust upon her, especially when there's been a lot of build up. The pressure causes anxiety and while she doesn't have the spectacular meltdowns she had a year or so ago, she does kind of shut down when she feels overwhelmed.

So she sang her song with her class, participated in her skit and accepted her "diploma." But that was it. I barely got her to pose for this photo taken on my BlackBerry before she insisted that all fussing come to an end. "Stop being happy," she ordered.

She did however accept Grandma Mel's offer for lunch anywhere she wanted to go. Anna's choice for this important day? Bob Evans of course. Somewhere around the time the chocolate chip pancakes arrived she even allowed me to be happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Anna is raiding the kitchen cabinets. She's on some kind of growth spurt and has basically eaten me out of house and home. She raises up on her tippy toes and reaches for a box of crackers.

"Can I finish these?" she asks, even as she plunges her hands into the almost-empty box.

"Sure..." I say to her back as she disappears into the family room.

"Rachel, do you want some of these?" I hear Anna ask her sister. I smile to myself at Anna's offer to share. She's such a good big sister, I think. Then she continues.

"You can have three crackers and that's all. And do NOT whine and cry like a little baby if you want more."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today's game

Anna: Let's play dogs.
Rachel: Yeah, you be Charlie and I'll be Annabelle the stupid dog!
Anna: Oh yes! (barking)
Rachel (giggling): She's so stupid.
Anna (barking and panting): And she's the angel of death!

A dog fixation and a few Torah lessons can be a dangerous combination.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rachel's new favorite word and other scenes

One afternoon I find my girls in the family room watching a movie, one child sitting in a cardboard box, the other crawling through one. Rachel pulls a broken box over her body and announces that it is her new outfit.

"My outfit is stupid," she tells us.


Anna was recently given a Hannah Montana balloon. One side of the balloon features a picture of Miley Whatsherface, the other side is Hannah. Rachel is walking around with that balloon, chatting away to it and acting out little scenes.

She comes to me and says, "Mommy, my baby has two faces!" She tugs on the string of the balloon and tells me, "But just one leg."

After a minute she adds, "Mommy, my baby is stupid."


I drag myself into the kitchen to find a snack for Anna who, judging the way she's been eating for the past month, is about to become three inches taller. I have a bit of a cold and my head hurts and my back aches as I stretch to reach the box of granola bars in my cabinet. I look down at my salivating oldest child, her hands twitching as she watches me reach into the box. "Please ask your sister if she wants a granola bar."

Without moving an inch - or taking her eyes off of the food - Anna screams: "RACHEL! DOYOUWANTAGRANOLABAR?!"


Just when I think I'm totally losing my mind I give Rachel a bath - a task that would normally send me over the edge completely. Tonight though she gives me a break and is unusually calm and complaint-free. I start to relax when she "swims" up to the side of the tub and places her wet, broadly smiling face an inch from mine. She studies my face for a long moment and then giggles. "Ahhh, we have the same eyes." She pats my cheek with her wet hand and "swims" away.

She didn't even call me stupid.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I fully admit I have only myself to blame

This morning my baby stood in the doorway of the kitchen and bellowed the following at me:

"HEL-LOOO! I am still waiting for my water!"


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Overheard in the three-year-old classroom

When I first started working with three-year-olds I was warned about the pitfalls - the tantrums, the messes, the inordinate amount of bodily fluids. I've been lucky enough to have amazing kids in my classes though - bright, sweet, adorable and endlessly entertaining. One of the best parts of my job is the moments of unexpected hilarity, courtesy of the preschool mind.

Girl 1: I like your dress.
Girl 2: Thank you. It's MINE.


Boy (holding toy phone): Emergency, emergency, come quick, my baby is sick!
Girl (runs across room and sits in front of Boy)
Boy: This is only for the emergency.
Girl: I AM emergency.


Boy: Did you know my Grandpa?
Teacher: No, I didn't.
Boy: He died.
Teacher: I'm sorry to hear that.
Boy: Yeah. Hashem killed him.


Boy (exiting bathroom stall): You know, when I just go pee-pee I only wash my hands with water.
Teacher: Well toilets have lots of germs, so whenever you touch a toilet you should use soap.
Boy: But when I just touch my penis it's ok.


And finally, this gem, shared with me by a parent:

Boy: Guess what? Today we learned about vulva!
Mom: Really. What did you learn about it?
Boy: Well, it's really dangerous. And hot. And you never ever touch it.
Mom: Ok... so, where do you find this vulva?
Boy: In volcanoes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

And this is four?

The past 48 hours have been rough for Rachel. I'm not sure why exactly, I'm just going by her general demeanor. Which has been cranky. Frustrated. Extremely put out. Nothing has made this child happy for days.

Last night Rachel's bath water was too cold and then she didn't want to sit in the available spot in the tub. Then she complained about the body wash and then, oh my goodness, I did not hand her the washcloth fast enough. As she was expressing her displeasure she waved her hands around - the better to make her point - and her right hand splashed into the water. At which point she screamed, "I don't want to be WET!" Which made me laugh. I'm only human.

My unfortunate parenting misstep caused an F4 level storm of rage to spew forth from my baby. Anna glanced over at the tantrum going on next to her and calmly asked if she could get out. I'm pretty sure she actually rolled her eyes as stepped past her sister out of the tub.

Twenty minutes later the whining continues, with some foot stomping thrown in for variety. I seek refuge in Girl Scout Cookies and get caught. Rachel sees me sneaking one in the dark kitchen and immediately begins her interrogation.

"WHAT is THAT?" she demands and holds out her hand, somehow expecting to be rewarded for two hours of screaming. I take a deep breath and tell her she may have one as soon as she eats her dinner. I think briefly about fleeing before the next onslaught but I am too late.

"I don't want dinner! It's yucky and disgusting! I don't want you to talk to me! Don't look at me! DON'T LOOK AT ME! I don't want..." Suddenly, and for the tiniest second, she stops. She turns around and marches back to me. "I WANT YOU!" She throws herself onto my leg.

Four on Rachel looks so very different than it did on Anna.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Well trained

"Pretend you're Sleeping Beauty and I'll kiss you awake," I suggest.

Rachel's eyes light up for a moment before she squeezes them shut and ever so slightly puckers her lips in her feigned sleep.

I lean over, pausing for a moment to watch the corners of her mouth begin to dimple as she holds back laughter, and finally kiss her. Her eyes fly open and she shrieks.

"AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!" She slaps my cheek. "Don't kiss me!"

Leave it to my little girl to rewrite the fairy tale.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Is this five?

Anna spent a full twenty minutes today shining a green Tinkerbell flashlight through a glass of water.

First it was a tall glass that had a pattern on it and then she insisted on a short, unadorned juice glass. She walked around the house, turning off lights and holding the glass up to different surfaces. She observed how the reflections looked against the wallpaper, the cabinets and various pieces of furniture. She looked at the patterns in the bathroom mirror.

Finally she returned to the kitchen to ask me, "Is this science?"

So far, five is kind of awesome.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The child has excellent comedic timing

For the last year and a half Rachel has been sleeping with Scooby Doo. The relationship began with an innocent soap dispenser and is described here. When it became clear that Scooby was in Rachel's life to stay, the soap dispenser was replaced with a much more appropriate plush toy who usually stays in Rachel's bed with her three other bedmates: a pink teddy bear, a baby doll and a red-haired doll - all named Shauna.

A few days ago Rachel finds a random baby doll and shoves it with her usual tender grace into a baby carrier. "Mommy, my baby's name is... Chana." This doesn't surprise me, Chana is Anna's Hebrew name.

Minutes later Rachel takes a stuffed kitty toy and squeezes it into the carrier next to baby Chana. "Mommy, my baby's name is Chana and my kitty's name is Chana. All of my babies are named Chana."

Dan and I try our hardest to hide our giggling but we lose all control as Rachel continues. "But my last one is Scooby."