Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's been going on here?

Last week was great fun around these parts. First off the kids were on Spring break. Secondly, the husband was out of state for the majority of the week and lastly, I almost died from a head cold.

Okay, so I didn't almost die. I had a cold. I was sick enough to be sent home from work early on Thursday and stayed home Friday. Unfortunately, the time I didn't take as vacation because I  HAD to work, I spent on my couch alternating between begging the children to let me sleep and barking orders for them to clean the house. It seemed every time I fell asleep someone would come in and wake me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. When I finally gave up, I tried to get them to clean the downstairs because we were having company Saturday night. Needless to say, some of the children complied. Some did not. And then I died.

Or, recovered enough to enjoy having two families over for dinner on Saturday night. Now two families may sound small and manageable but if said families were all crazy and all produced 4 offspring each... well, that's a whole lot of people.

One of ours was gone to a birthday party and another was away at college (not one of ours). That left us with six adults and ten children. Yeah. TEN. They ranged in age from six to fifteen. I would just like to praise Mother Nature for holding out on the rain that was predicted. The kids spent the majority of the night outside playing laser tag and chasing each other around outside. Yay Mother Nature! You go girl!

My husband declared the night, "Jewing it up night." We served matzoh ball soup, challah, hummus, matzoh, potato knish, applesauce, sour cream, He-brew beer, wine and salad. One family brought venison and the other brought latkes.

You should know, we live in a small town. We are one of three Jewish families that I know of. The kids only know two other Jewish students in their school. To say they are celebrities in their classes would be accurate. Their dad always did the Hanukkah demonstration in Primary school and the fact they get eight days of gifts makes them rock stars. When the oldest had his Bar Mitzvah it was the event of the year. I'm not niave enough to believe there is no hate but for the most part I believe my kids have positive experiences living in the situation they do.

So anyway, we are what I call Jewish-lite. We do not keep kosher. We do eat bread during Passover. We celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas and Easter. The kids do go to Temple and Sunday school. They attend Hebrew school and see their tutor every week while preparing for their Bar Mitzvahs. We discuss mitzvahs (good deeds) and tzedakah (charity) and try to make these part of our daily lives. So, Jewish-lite. Say what you may but this works for us and I think many families take what works for them from their religion and leave the rest. This is what works for us.

So, we have many friends that are not Jewish. We have friends that are curious. We needed a good excuse to all get together. Well, not really NEEDED an excuse. But with the business of 4 kids each, we needed a push. My husband gave us that push and I'm so glad he did. It was great fun. The kids are all friends and got along great AND the adults all get along really well. I find it is rare for that to happen. Men getting along and wives and kids. It's taken a long time for us to find this dynamic but I'm so glad we did.

Now for a string of non-related strange facts about our little group:
  • The other two couples have been together since High School. Seriously. HIGH. SCHOOL. Yes, I find that odd.

  • The men are all engineers. I guess that's not odd as I seem to know in inordinate amount of engineers and not just through my husband. But still, what's with all the engi-nerds? (heh, my pet name for them)

  • We do not have the oldest child or the youngest but our kids are the closest in age.

  • All the adults are between 38 & 41 and our kids ages are: 20, 15, 14, 14, 12, 12, 10, 9, 8, 8, 6, 6. The only ones without friends in the group are the 20 & 10 year olds. (they also happen to be the two not present)

  • I have also now shown my highly nerdy need for numbers. They fascinate me. It's a sickness.

  • I cannot fathom having a 20 year old nor a 6 year old. One of the couples has both. They are also not the oldest.

  • I told you it was a sickness.

  • Out of 12 children there are only 2 girls. 14 and 6. Two different families. Neither is mine. (You should all already know this random fact.)


  • Maybe I should take a statistics course.

  • Also, it does not escape my notice that I called them engi-nerds and I'm here with the number sickness.
To wrap up here I will say that school is FINALLY back in session today after a extra day off yesterday for an unused snow day. And do NOT get me started on the fact that the kids had school on a day when several buses slid off the road - one containing one of my children - only to have 2 snow days left over now.

Routine, it is good.

Friday, April 10, 2009


It seems like the subject of choices keeps coming up lately.

I've always tried to teach my children that life is a series of choices. You can choose to do what I ask or deal with the punishment. You can choose to to quit band but then you have to take music in Junior High. You can choose to yell in my face but then you'll also get slapped. Then there are other choices. Harder choices.

If you don't like how something is going you have to choose to change it. If you think you are fat - which, BTW,  I don't agree with - you need to not eat as much ice cream after dinner. Have a piece of fruit. Make healthier food choices. If you want to save your money for a big purchase maybe you shouldn't go to the ice cream shop with your friends. If you want to play sports you need to keep your grades up. That means taking 20 minutes the night before a test and studying.

The thing is, we make choices constantly. Sometimes it doesn't seem like a choice because we feel so strongly one way or another. We may even say we didn't have a choice. But we almost always do. Yes, things happen that we can't change but we can change our response. Or not. Our choice. We may not like our choices but we still get to choose between them. We may like both our choices. Many times it's between what our heart wants and what our head wants. And by heart I do not just mean love. Sometimes heart refers to our gut or our wants or the child within us. By head I'm referring to the logical choice.

It's not always easy letting your kids make their own choices. Especially if you feel strongly about the outcome. Sometimes it's still necessary to let them do the choosing. Sometimes it is not at all appropriate to let them have the final decision. No, you may not kill your brother so he will stop annoying you. I don't care if you decide it is worth the punishment. No, you may not quit school and work at McDonald's for the rest of your life. You can decide to work there but you will finish school so you have the choice later.

I believe in the handing over of decisions along with the conversation of what results of the choices will be. I am not above gentle nudging. I am not above the suggestion of postponement of certain decisions. Finish band this year, you only have 2 months left then you can decide about next year later.

The hardest part of letting the kids make choices is letting them make what you feel are the wrong choices. I'm not sure how I will handle that. I've been very lucky so far in that they haven't gone against anything I feel extremely strong about. But we are still working on realizing that some of the things that happen have been their choice. You wouldn't go to your room when you were told and now I have to drag you. One of the boys accused us of almost ripping his arm out of the socket when trying to drag him upstairs to bed one night. I said that all he had to do was choose to walk and that wouldn't have happened/would have stopped. He just looked at me.

In the boys' defense, I think they are coming along nicely in the learning to make choices department. Hell, I even have to take the time to remind myself when I'm unhappy that I am choosing this. Every time I eat when I'm not hungry, every time I eat large amounts of fattening foods I am choosing to be fat. I'm not a victim of genetics or medications or physical ailments. I am fat because of what I eat. This is not to say that others don't have these issues to deal with - they do - this is just to qualify my particular situation. In my life, it is my choices that have resulted in the fat. If nothing else, the tracking of what I eat has proven this.

There are other areas of my life that are not such easy choices. Not as straight forward as whether to eat the Easter candy (child within want) or lose weight (logic). In many cases it's a choice between two wants. Or two logical options. This is when things get difficult. At one point it was financial security vs being home with the boys. Every day that I work I am still making that choice. And yes, many times there are a multitude of things to factor into the decision. It is an ever changing landscape that shapes our decisions. This is what I think makes it difficult to understand other people's decisions.

If I have learned anything in my 38 years it is that you should not judge other's decisions. There are always things you do not know. Circumstances you can not understand. Nuances you are not aware of. And above all, we are all different. We all have different priorities. We all have different histories. We all have different breaking points.

And after all of this I will still choose to eat the damn Easter candy.