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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thirteen

Hannah as Pig #1 in Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit

Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning thirteen.

This is one of the hardest posts I've ever written, because 13 is simply too old. I'm not ready. But *you* are ready. You've practically been 13 since you were 3. At least, that's what I used to say. Now that we're here, well, you're not that different from how I imagined you'd be. It's still you, but with more Instagram and Buzzfeed Tasty videos.

Twelve was a pretty great year for you. You starred in "Joseph" and handled being a synagogue celebrity fairly well. Then you got to be an understudy in "Oklahoma" and had a fabulous performance for the 5th graders. We took a Disney cruise and you stayed out until midnight every evening. Winning the Camp Yavneh singing competition, Zimriyah, was probably the highlight of your year. And while it's not without its frustrations, you're still doing a tremendous job at middle school, maintaining straight A's while singing with the Newton All-City Troubadours, attending religious school and practicing for your bat mitzvah, and going to drama rehearsals all of the remaining days of the week.

You love Broadway almost as much as I do, and I'll never forget our trip to see "Fun Home" together. You are "can I have a hug?" and overtired giggling. Converse are still appropriate for every situation, and wearing a coat is only valid in extreme circumstances. You are bat mitzvah parties and sleepovers and following recipes. Your brother is your very best friend, but your Bowen #squad is tight, and the most supportive group of middle school girls I've ever seen.

With your bat mitzvah just a week away, we'll soon get a chance to exhale from all of this preparation and stress, but I know it's going to be an amazing day. The great thing about life, and I have a feeling this will be especially true for you, is that there are going to be so many more amazing days to come after it. I love you, Hanniebelle. Happy birthday, teenager.

(You can also see letters for ages seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Word of the Year: Celebrate

I don't even need the word. An emoji will do.
This is the fifth time I'm selecting a word of the year to guide me and the decisions I make in the coming year. I've found it's much easier to stick to than a resolution, as I'm not trying to make a change so much as inform my choices.

I started with "more" in 2013, and then "impact" in 2014, both of which I liked. 2015's "choose" was a bit of a dud, but I rebounded well with 2016's "nachos." I mentioned at the end of 2016 that I was going to amplify 2016's choice in 2017, and so here it is. My word for 2017 is "celebrate."

I'm fairly certain that the coming year is one I'm going to want to remember, and to remember in a really good way. Hannah's bat mitzvah is the big celebration kicking things off, but the coming year will also include my 15th wedding anniversary AND my 40th birthday. Those are definitely all milestones worth celebrating. But I hope that having "celebrate" as my word of the year will also lead me to acknowledge the smaller, but worth celebrating moments, a little better. The good report card. The positive feedback from a client. Whatever the small successes in life may be, I want to get better at celebrating them too. With "nachos" last year, I was looking to add a little more fun to life, and "celebrate" should help encourage that too.

I've ordered my new rock to add to my collection, and I look forward to celebrating as much as possible, and sharing those moments with you.

So what about you? Do you have a word for 2017?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nine


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning nine.

With the chaos of your sister's upcoming bat mitzvah, your birthday has taken a backseat this year, and you are so totally okay with the whole thing. I never would have expected that from you, but I should have. Your love and devotion to others is fierce. And you know you are loved, too, so your party can wait. Especially since you got your new guitar a couple weeks early.

Eight was a pretty cool year. You were Zebulon alongside your sister in "Joseph," and a baker and a wolf and then a wolf again. You tried snorkeling and almost joined the dark side. You entered your first spelling bee, going far but getting out on the word "linen." You came home from your first month at Camp Yavneh and were a changed person, more mature and aware of the world. You lost some teeth and gained a retainer. You loved the presidential election process, and took the whole thing in stride, better than many adults I know (self included).

You still binge watch A LOT of Netflix, particularly "Brain Games" but at least try to include me with "Fuller House." You are "oooh yeeeeah!" when you figure something out. Your personal hero is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Your ear for music is insane, plucking out "Maoz Tzur" on your new guitar without even having had a lesson yet. Your love for TMLs -- that's turkey, mayo and lettuce for uninitiated -- is unending. You're still a great hugger, but now you like high fives too. And I still feel so very fortunate to write that your sister is your very best friend.

So, nine. The last single digit year in our house. For every time I get choked up about how old Hannah is, you reassure me that you're still little, but that's not for much longer either. We don't have many plans yet for 2017, but I know a year from now I'll be looking back once again and seeing how much you've grown, even if life just continues on as it has. I love you, buddy. Happy birthday.

(You can also see letters for ages three, four, five, six, seven and eight.)



Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ending Thoughts of 2016

As I predicted with my last daily post in November, it's been weeks before I wanted to write here again. Well, that's not quite true, as I'm always thinking about writing here, but finding time to coincide with my thoughts is harder. It's better for me to take time to edit those thoughts too, to not just share every impulse. Especially this past month.

I have to admit that I've been drowning a bit in planning Hannah's bat mitzvah, which is now about two weeks away. I am not a last minute person, and an awful lot of this has been or felt last minute to me. There are still things to be done in these last two weeks, and I am confident it will all come together, but there were a few weeks where I was incredibly anxious about all of it (I think I'm doing a little better now). Of course, those weeks were the same weeks where I was wrapping up the year at work, doing my self-evaluation and crafting new goals, cramming in last minute client meetings and a day trip to New York. The kids (and Marc) had concerts and school deadlines and math homework continues to be difficult and there were presents to buy (this is least inspired Hanukkah our family has ever had). Max missed three days of school just before break with a stomach bug, which then took down Hannah and Marc just as vacation was getting started. Somehow, finalizing Hannah's speech, filling out forms for the temple and the DJ, and a myriad of other bat mitzvah-related things also got done, but not without compromising my sanity a bit.

I know that all sounds like privileged whining, and it definitely is. We are very fortunate to have these problems. But knowing that didn't stop my eyelid from twitching. What did help was a four time repeat of a new song obsession, which I belted out from the kitchen one night while doing the dishes. That helped a lot.

So, 2016 is almost over. I recently read an article that went on to examine the past year in the financial sphere I work with, but first it decried our "fetish" with the end of December and choosing the end of these 12 months as some big marker in time, and then trying to reduce the entire period into one compact theme. Which, I have to admit, is really useful in finance. It's helpful to have a kind of shorthand, to say 2008 or 2015 and know what you mean. I think 2016 is unexpectedly going to be that way for pop culture, if not for the financial markets (except to refer to it in connection with 2015).

My word of the year for 2016 was "nachos." Yes, it was a little ridiculous. And yes, if you go back and read that post, I have to admit that I'm shocked to still be project-less a year later. But "nachos" did serve its purpose fairly well. I did have nachos more often than ever before in a 12 month period - maybe 8 or 10 times. I had sad desk nachos on a bad day at work, and nachos from room service on a business trip in LA. I ordered them as an appetizer once in a while. "Nachos" was a good reminder to lighten up a bit, in a year that felt mostly like just moving along, not moving so far forward. My word for 2017 will be amplifying this same theme behind "nachos," so check back here in a week or so for more on that.

I can't really say that 2016 was such a bad year. Everyone I love is still alive and relatively healthy, and so even if some beloved celebrities are not and political uncertainty abounds, I'll still take it. Life moves on. It'll all be okay.

See you in 2017.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Productivity and Procrastination

On this last day of NaBloPoMo, I share with you my insight today that there is no better way to get me to be productive than to put something I *really* don't want to do in front of me. Which sounds crazy, but trust me, it's not.

Today I *really* didn't want to read a 10 page memo about how Trump might or might not affect the economy, written by our chief economist at work. He's a brilliant guy, and I knew I'd be happy once I'd read his thoughts, but I just didn't want to do it. Mostly because I'm still trying to hide from the fact that is Trump. And because it's pure speculation, as we really can't know what he's going to do. It's informed and intelligent speculation, but can't I just stay over here with the blankets pulled up to my eyeballs and still pretend Trump isn't happening?

Sidebar: I actually had a dream last week where I relived the entire election night all over again. This better not become a recurring nightmare.

Anyway, I knew I had to read the memo, but I got SO MANY other little things done first. Recycled stacks of unread newspapers and took the bin outside. Filed a few things in the filing cabinet. Scheduled my annual eye exam. Registered Max for day camp. Activated a credit card. Took care of every other email I could in my inbox. And then I finally settled in and read the memo.

Sigh.

At least I got some things done before I was forced to contemplate an economy without immigrants. #immigrantswegetthejobdone

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And that concludes NaBloPoMo 2016. I'm happy to be done. I only missed one post, but I did my best to stick with it. Now you probably won't hear from me again here for weeks. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Out of Steam

It's day 29 on 30 for "post on your damn blog every damn day" month (#PoYoDaBloEvDaDa for short!) and I am out of steam. It was a long weekend followed by a long day and a long night and another long day and I've got nothing left for here. But we just got a large trade closed at work so that's some good news to end the day on.

I'm going to try to go watch some Sister Wives, if I'm allowed to control the TV. No judging. G'nite.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A New Era: Leaving the Kids at Home Alone

I can't recall if I've posted about this here before, but we have entered a new era in our family life, one in which we can leave the kids home alone. It's still relatively new for us, and not employed all that often, but it's been helpful. Like the hour tonight after I picked up both kids from school, and Hannah had a lot of homework, so she asked if she could skip the much-needed grocery run, and then I realized she could keep Max home with her too.

Not having to take both kids for an unplanned grocery run with no list after a long day of work, school, commuting, aftercare and play rehearsal? You don't have to ask me twice.

Well, that's not 100% true. I did miss their input and talking to them in the store. I *like* being around my kids, and they can be fairly helpful with shopping. But they needed the quiet time at home more than I needed them there with me.

I'm definitely not used to this new era. It didn't even occur to me that they would want to stay home, or that they even could. I'm sure there will be more and more times that they request to be left at home, and I'll be begging them to come run errands with me. But for now it just seems like a marked difference from a few short years ago, when leaving them home alone was out of the question, and so you'd think long and hard about whether a shopping trip was possible after a day like this one.

It seems that the one true constant in life is change.