Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Little Help From My Friends

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate asking for help. I don't know why, but I've always tried to be an independent person, and try to do everything I can on my own. But last night's sukkah building experience proved to me that sometimes it really is easier to get by with a little help from our friends. Marc put out a call for volunteers on Twitter and facebook, and our friends the Kahns and new friend and neighbor Josh came to our aid. The three guys had the sukkah assembled within 45 minutes. It most certainly would have taken hours, in the dark, under the flood lights, for Marc and I to have done it on our own. I am really grateful that they could come to our aid.

I'm also trying to leave more comments on the blogs that I read, particularly the blogs of my fellow moms out there. I really enjoy these little windows into the lives others lead. For me, putting these experiences into writing is cathartic, but it also helps me feel a little more connected to the outside world. I like being able to read and digest things on my own, but I've recently realized that the comment section really enhances both the writer's and the reader's experience, and is a way I can support friends both near and far. If you've got a blog or know of a good one to share, let me know!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Catching Up

Apologies for the radio silence over the past two weeks. I was on a roll for a while, but then life started getting the better of me, and I haven't felt much like writing.

Our synagogue BBQ went really well this year, and I'm very pleased with the changes I made to improve it this year. Having two balloon twisters was great, and as Hannah said, the craft project was a hit. Other than a little rain and a giant swarm of bugs, the event was great.

Unfortunately, though, my back/leg pain returned with a vengeance last week and I ended up getting another fun treatment. I'm very frustrated by being in pain - it colors everything I think, see, and do.

We had a nice Rosh Hashanah, with wonderful meals prepared by Marc and a quick trip to see everyone in Hartford. I didn't get to spend much time at services this year, but it still felt like a new beginning in some ways. If you celebrated, I hope it was the start to a sweet new year.

This week was incredibly busy, with Max's open house Monday, Hannah's language club introductory meeting Tuesday and then her kindergarten open house on Wednesday. Max also had the biggest injury of his life so far, banging up two of his fingers on the playground at school (but as a bonus, he learned to say "finger" and "sick"). Hannah also started a karate class at school that we found out about less than 24 hours before it began. So it's been an overwhelming week, and I don't really see us slowing down for quite a while.

Tomorrow I'm hoping for a nice day for the four of us to visit a farm and do some apple-picking. This type of event usually doesn't live up to my visions for it, but I feel compelled to try. We really need a day to do something fun together (or at least I need it!). So much has been happening so quickly, that I need some time to slow down and relax a bit.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On 9/11

On 9/11 I am 23 years old again. I sit in an avocado green half-height cubicle farm with even less privacy than I have today. I wear only an engagement ring. I am at work early, of course, because there are no children to feed and dress and get to school. I plan a joke with colleagues to ignore another co-worker soon leaving our firm.

On 9/11 I see a co-worker I would rather forget but now never will. I run to a television, refresh and refresh I see Yahoo! Mail from Julie, "i just saw the second plane crash."

On 9/11 I crowd with others (hundreds of people?) in Bain & Co's 7Z conference room and watch in horror as a wall-sized screen shows the first tower crash.

On 9/11 I am yelled at by strangers for using my cell phone, trying to locate Marc, as I walk home to our apartment, too scared to take the subway. Marc has left his office in the Federal Reserve building, near the airport, but stops to run an errand along the way. I'm not sure I've ever forgiven him for that.

On 9/11 my mother offers to house and help any co-workers who may have been traveling in her area (none are, but I still remember the impulse to help any one in any way).

On 9/12, the next day, I go back to work, and out to pick-up lunch with co-workers. We cannot get back in the office, as it is attached to the Westin Hotel, where the hijackers may have stayed. I set my voicemail saying I am out of the office so that my fund's custodian in Texas can reach me at home.

On 9/11, regardless of the year, I have a hard time thinking of anything but these events. I was very fortunate not to personally know someone who perished that day, but we were all affected. There is a before, and there is an after.

On 9/11, where and who were you?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Kindergartner

Hannah, Hannah-belle, Hannie-Princess, Han, Bee, My Life, My Love,

I am so proud of you, and so happy that I'm your mommy.

From this:

To this:

And every silly smile, funny moment and amazing experience in between. Good luck in Kindergarten. I love you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make Way for the Stober Kids

I'm home with the kids by myself today, Labor Day, and my leg wasn't feeling great this morning, so I wasn't sure how to spend the day. Marc sent me a note about a rally for healthcare reform happening this morning at Boston Common, and while I didn't think the kids would enjoy it much, it did give me the idea to take the kids into Boston anyway.

What sealed my thinking was remembering the new improvements to the Arlington stop on the Green Line. I hadn't been there yet, but it's been totally redone to be wheelchair accessible, which would also mean stroller accessible in our case. The station really is soooo much better, and the elevators worked great. We even had newer trains going there and back, so I never had to lift Max's stroller for our entire outing. This really saved my back, and I'm grateful for that. Now the T just needs to get moving and finish the Copley station already!

Anyway, we went right into the Public Garden and made our way to the Swan Boats. Another Boston thing I've always wanted to do, now off the list! It was a lovely little ride around the lagoon (or whatever body of water that was), and the kids really enjoyed it. Max kept quacking at the ducks. We continued walking around, taking in a magic show, playing on the "Make Way for Ducklings" statues, stopping at the rally for a bit, getting lunch, playing on the playground, and finally getting ice cream before the ride home. I told Hannah that it was our last ice cream of the summer, but she quickly had me assure her that we could still have ice cream sometimes, even if the season for it has ended. :) Of course, we can't stop having it now that Max knows what to ask for - "s'cream!"

So a fun little trip for this last day of summer, and I'm proud of myself for doing it on my own, too!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bright Horizons Back-Up Solutions to the rescue!

One of the many amazing benefits provided by my employer is access to a Bright Horizons Back-Up daycare center. This is a small but growing segment of the Bright Horizons business, which is to be used when normal daycare or school arrangements are compromised, or on a transitional basis when switching between programs. Some companies require a co-pay (mine does not; again, how awesome are they?!?). Reservations are taken a month in advance, on a first-come, first-served basis. There are some "high demand days" when infant and toddler placement is not guaranteed, but for the most part, our family has been well-accommodated by the program.

Our center is located on the second floor of my building, which couldn't be easier (we usually take the commuter rail on days when the kids come in). They're incredibly well-organized, with cubbies and bins labeled before the kids arrive, and extra labels for sippy cups and strollers. The staff at our center has been mostly the same since Hannah first attended a few years ago, and they remember the kids and always comment on how much they've changed and grown. Mid-day I pick up the kids for a lunch out in the city, which they love. It's a warm, wonderful place, and the kids always seem to have a great time there.

Hannah and Max spent two days there this week as part of our "HELP, THERE'S NO DAYCARE AND NO CAMP AND SCHOOL DOESN'T START FOR WEEKS!" shuffle (both kids had 12 weekdays free at the end of the summer). I'm so grateful to have this service to help us make it through, and hope that more companies make this option available to their juggling employees.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Long Weekend in New Hampshire

We left on a rainy Saturday morning for our long-awaited trip to New Hampshire. Unfortunately the rain continued all day, so we didn't get to dive right in to Storyland as soon as we got to town, and instead had to improvise a bit. We booked a hotel with an indoor pool, which was wonderful, since the kids needed a chance to blow off some steam after being trapped in the car. After a little shopping at the LL Bean outlet, we had dinner at the Red Fox Bar and Grille, which was great. Hannah was entertained by a movie in one room, while Marc took Max to play with toddler toys in another, and I enjoyed a few moments of quiet while waiting for our food to arrive. Hannah and Marc got a chance to see "The Bee Movie" while I put Max to bed back in the hotel.

On Sunday morning we woke up to a lovely, sunny day, and headed for breakfast at Glen Junction. The main attraction here was the constantly revolving model trains, and Max was totally captivated. Thanks to Stephanie for these two restaurant recommendations!

We were at Storyland as soon as it opened, and stayed until nearly closing time. Max enjoyed exploring the areas based on old nursery rhymes, particularly because he was allowed to touch "Peter Pumpkin-Eater's" oven without reproach. The train and car rides were also a big hit, of course. Unfortunately, though, he was totally terrified of a guy in the circus act who couldn't properly use a trampoline. Hannah was so excited to get to ride the bigger kid rides, and loved the roller coaster (riding one time each with Mom and Dad), the water raft ride, the flying fish, and the water chute ride. She loved getting soaked, which in previous years would have caused a meltdown. Hannah also bought a light up fairy with her allowance money, and was so proud to pay at the register on her own. We swam again at the hotel that evening.

Monday morning was the highlight of the trip for Marc, as we did the drive up Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in the New England area. The autoroad was completed in 1861, and is truly a marvel even today. We were given a CD to listen to as we drove it, pointing out all there was to see and the history of the area, as well as the "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker. The change in the weather as we made our ascent was remarkable. When we reached the summit, it was 14 degrees with the wind chill, with 50 mph winds. It was definitely a mountain top! We were dressed properly though, and Marc took both kids to the summit for a quick picture. It was a great adventure, nothing like the scary thing I had imagined, and I'm really glad we did it.

Both kids were real troopers in the car too. In my opinion, the whining and craziness were at a minimum. We kept Hannah busy with a couple of movies I'd loaded onto my iPod Nano, which worked very well, since we didn't have to listen to it too. Max kept us informed of his surroundings, shouting "bus, truck, and choo-choo" as often as he possibly could. And I made good use of my iPhone, finding a cute diner for lunch on the way there and an ice cream stop on the way back.

Unfortunately, it was all over too soon. While there, we were already discussing our next trip back - to be taken when Max is at least 36" and Hannah is 48". :)