Monday, January 17, 2011

Max's Music Party

Max truly enjoyed his birthday party. Julia, who leads Tot Shabbat at our synagogue, is Max's favorite person on the planet, and we were so lucky to have her lead our friends in a music session. She played all of Max's favorites: Hinei Rakevet, Down by the Bay, Two by Two, Trot Trot, Ma Tovu and the Chicken Dance. It was a tight squeeze fitting all the kids (14 plus our two) and their parents in our living room (and parking on our street with all the snow), but I think we all had a great morning of singing and snacking together. Thanks to all who came!

Max's co-leading with Julia and his guitar

Dancing to "Down by the Bay"

His Thomas "Island of Sodor" cake

And Max all partied out

But Marc and I survived another birthday season! Now on to our next big adventure...PARIS!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hannah's Sleep "Under" Party

Sometime last year I read online (I wish I remembered where) about sleep "under" parties, and started laying the groundwork for Hannah to have one for her seventh birthday. After trekking around the mall last year and losing a guest's coat (which was ultimately found days later), I really wanted something simpler this year, and, well, more contained. :) I was picturing about six girls in their PJs and lots of giggling. I got 13 girls and way more chaos, but the kids had a fantastic time.

Hannah spent a lot of time running through all the details of what she wanted with me, and I think she appreciated how much involvement she had in the planning. The girls arrived in their pajamas at 5:30 pm on a Saturday night. They were allowed to bring sleeping bags and pillows, and we had quite a plethora of Pillow Pets. We served pizza, fruit and veggies, plus popcorn in theater-type containers:

For about the first hour, the girls were so quiet, eating dinner and watching one of Hannah's favorite movies, "Annie." But as the best songs came and went and the plot dragged a bit, the girls got distracted. And started pillow fighting and tickling. Poor Max got pretty overwhelmed - he was worried everyone was hurting his sister. He obviously couldn't see the expression on her face:

The girls decorated cupcakes and helped her open her presents, before we all sang happy birthday and the party came to its truly dramatic end. Right at 8 o'clock, as the parents helped their daughters find their boots, coats and party paraphernalia, a fire truck came racing down our narrow street and parked right outside my house. It turned out our neighbor had locked herself out of her house and called for help, but instead it looked like our house full of party guests was on fire. *sigh* At least everything was just fine.

The girls had an absolute ball, and really enjoyed the time hanging out together. Hannah can't wait to do it again.

(And posting this one because it's too cute not to share:)

Birthday Season 2011

My last few days of vacation and 2010 embodied everything I like about a staycation.

Fillis and John came to spend a day with the kids, taking the kids and me shopping and out for lunch before driving them to Hartford to give Marc and me a night off. Marc and I enjoyed a meal at The Local (very yummy creme brulee) and then saw Black Swan. The following morning I finished getting the kids rooms in order, finally transitioning Max to a twin size bed and moving some other furniture. The afternoon was spent all together at the new CT Science Center (a challenging museum to visit during peak times). Hannah stayed up until 11:27 on New Year's eve, sipping ginger ale from a champagne flute and feeling very grown up. It was a nice end to the year.

But, the festivities continued the next day with Max's third birthday. Finally, we seemed to convince him that he was in fact turning three, and not five as he'd previously told anyone who would ask. We had a nice little party to celebrate both kids, since Hannah's birthday was in just a few more days, with Fillis and John, Aunt Melinda, Rachel, Jon, Nate and Evie. Sadly, we said goodbye to Rachel and Jon and the kids, as they are soon leaving for a new adventure in Little Rock. We will miss having them so close by, but look forward to hearing about all their experiences in their new home! Max had a great day, and can't wait for his party with his classmates and favorite music teacher this weekend.

Hannah's birthday was a few days later, and she was happy to be back at school for it. She rocked a new outfit and had a turn saying the Pledge of Allegiance on the morning announcements with some classmates. She chose a birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and both kids had fun opening a few more gifts that day. Hannah's party was this weekend, and she had a fabulous time.

We're trying to get back to a normal routine now, but as everyone knows, normal doesn't happen very often. Max has a cold and missed school today and yesterday, and it's looking like a snow day will happen tomorrow. But I've enjoyed celebrating with the kids this year, and look forward to lots more celebrations!

On Max's birthday

On Hannah's birthday

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning seven.

I can hardly believe it. In three more short years, we’ll be making jokes about double digits and writing 10 instead of spelling out the word. You don’t want to think about that though - getting older seems to scare you a bit. I talk about great experiences still to come - overnight camp, high school, driving cars - and you’re not all that eager. But then you talk about being a fashion designer and living on your own in New York City, and it’s so far off that it excites you, but it will all happen too quickly for me.

You’ve grown up so much this year. You’re a huge help with your little brother, though sometimes I have to remind you that you’re not his parent. You told me it was okay when I cried in pain. You got your first pet, your fish Ocean, bringing him home from a family wedding. You started having homework, and do it so capably and responsibly, which I hope will continue throughout your life. Your have become a very competent reader, noticing words you never bothered to acknowledge before and reading them triumphantly. You’ve dealt with a schoolmate who wasn’t treating you kindly in a really wonderful way, so that now you’re getting along much better. You have many friends, and adults adore you.

You saw The Lion King, Wicked, and The Nutcracker (twice). You skied for the first time. You went to more play dates and birthday parties than I can count. You gave your phone number to a boy, but didn’t mind when he didn’t call. You pierced your ears and didn’t flinch. You were a star and a duchess. You had fun swimming in the ocean, even if it took me hours to get you out there. You use Grandma Susan’s “bed” trick faithfully. You’re proud to be good at math, and happy to see “Tron: Legacy” with Dad (thanks for getting me out of that one, kid!). You make up songs with me at the bus stop, and laugh when we come up with really good rhymes. You love to draw and swim and go to museums. Your brother is your very best friend.

I hope that as you grow you’ll always feel comfortable talking to me about anything, as I know the challenges will only get harder. But I also hope that you can see yourself the way others do: as a very competent and kind girl. I can’t wait to finish furnishing your new bedroom with you, to throw your sleep “under” party, to see you in your new black karate outfit, and to experience many more big and small moments together.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning three.

My little man, how much you’ve grown. Sometimes, I still can’t believe you’re here. I always pictured your Daddy and I having two little girls, and when Hannah arrived, I thought we were halfway there. Then there was the baby who didn’t come, who I lost 11 months before you arrived. Without that loss, there would have been no you. It’s a thought I can’t bear now.

I’ve often told the story of how I worried you’d never get a chance to speak given how verbal your sister is; I thought she’d do all the talking for you both. I never imagined that you would just speak at the same time, and usually louder, just to make sure you’re heard. I often struggle with this, feeling pulled in too many directions, straining to turn down the volume of the radio just to be able to hear and answer everything. I think you have made me a better listener.

This has been a tough year for us. You had pneumonia and struggled to breathe. Mommy had her “boo boo legs” and couldn’t do very much for you. A two year old shouldn’t have to fend so much for himself, but you did. You’ve learned (for the most part) that Mommy shouldn’t do uppies, and you mastered the staircase in our house since there wasn’t always someone there to hold your hand. You had a rough summer moving to a new classroom after bonding with your beloved accordion-playing teacher. You haven't been too keen on the whole potty thing, though you're starting to change your tune on that.

But it’s also been an amazing year. We took you to several concerts since you love music so much. You rode Thomas the Train. You love being a part of the Room E Elephants. You wore your first (clip-on) tie. You loved Niagara Falls, staying in the hotel and seeing the fireworks. You worried who would clean up “the smoke” after your first airshow. You squealed sharing a back seat and stroller with your cousin. You told me about “dubar enzo” and “ani mohshee” (whatever those are). Your favorite shows were Super Why and Yo Gabba Gabba. You carry blanket, guitar, and as much other stuff as you can, all at once. You sing beautifully, and you did your first, of what I’m sure will be many, concerts. Your sister is your very best friend.

You like to be reassured that you are my baby, and I promise that you always will be, but I’m so excited to watch you grow. We have so many adventures ahead, and I will do my best to slow down and try to see them through your eyes. I can’t wait to see you find the moon in Paris and watch you walk down the aisle as ring bearer at Uncle Ryan’s wedding, and to experience many more big and small moments together.