Saturday, November 30, 2019

Another NaBloPoMo Done

It’s November 30, and I’ve made it to the last day of NaBloPoMo somehow. I didn’t write something profound every day, but I wrote more than I’ve written in years. I’m supposed to feel something now, I guess. I thought I might feel better. 

Writing doesn’t magically fix you. But it feels good to have done it for a bit. Hopefully it won’t be as long in between next time. 

Friday, November 29, 2019


We’re home early. My only Black Friday splurge was on Cheetos and Twizzlers. But it is good to be back in my own bed. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time here over the next 48 hours or so.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Selfie

We’re not the best at selfies, but we keep trying. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

You Better T(w)urk

It's disturbing, but yes, that's me as a turkey using last year's Snapchat filter. The things that keep you entertained when you're hungry and waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. Or, at least, the things that keep *me* entertained.

We leave for Ohio in the morning. Wish us luck with the drive.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Daily Thanks

I'm not a fan of the "thank you" email. I'm not talking about actual thank you notes where the recipient really deserves some gratitude, but the emails that consist entirely of "thank you" and nothing else, particularly when they are sent to a broad distribution, yet almost no one receiving it actually did anything. I mean, we all do things all the time, but I often say thank you in the email where I'm making my request, in advance, hoping you will fulfill your side of the bargain. Similarly, if I've filled my side of things, I don't really need a "thank you" email back.

Maybe if it's a new relationship, or the ask was big. But 99% of the time, I'm deleting a "thank you" email unread.

That was almost an issue today, as I got thanked in the first line of something, and then asked for something else a few lines later. I almost missed it. Had I gotten the email on my phone first, I really might have deleted it quickly.

So I'm making it a policy that if I really want to say "thank you," I'm going to find a way to say something more. I've been saying "thank you for checking" for a while now, and I like how that feels. But if I can't figure out something more than that to say, I'm going to try to curb the double thanking. It might be Thanksgiving soon, but it's certainly not Thanksgiving daily.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Hot Goss with Jennie and Tori

My inner 12 year old is squealing after a night out with Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling, of 90210 fame. I'm so glad Julie and I got to spend the evening together - the "show" was a bit of a hot mess, but it was a fun one.

The best pieces of gossip from the evening? BAG was actually Tori's second, and both women have major bones to pick with Jason Priestly, who left them out of his 50th birthday celebration. Honestly, Brandon, I expected better of you.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

One Step at a Time

We rejoined the JCC this week after a couple year hiatus, and Hannah and I went today for the first time to actually use it. We walked the track together for half an hour, which doesn't sound like much, but it's not nothing, which is our usual. Hannah immediately noticed Max on a poster for their swimming program, which he hasn't been in for years. My kids have been poster children for the JCC repeatedly since Hannah was two, but I thought that gig was far in the past now. Sign those release forms, y'all.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Better Version

Another crazy Boston sunset out my office window. It’s been a week, friends. Let’s go home.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

It's Not Friday

I only had one hour of my day blocked off for an official meeting, but the day has still flown by in an assortment of unexpected and time-consuming tasks. That's not the case every day, and I much prefer to be busy, but there is one question that has been lingering, unresolved, all day.

How in the world is it not Friday already?!?

Perhaps it's the holiday next week, or that I traveled, or that the sun was finally out this morning, but it seems entirely unbelievable, inconceivable, that there is one more work day ahead of us.

Anyway, on with the show.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Show Week

Max is in the fall play at his middle school, which will be shown on Thursday and Friday night this week. This afternoon, I got to play with my fancy camera and take photos of the dress rehearsal, which will later be shared with the families.

Max has a fun part in the show, but he's actually only in one scene, so it's pretty low stress for him. He knows what he needs to do, his costume wasn't a challenge to assemble, and it's all just fine. Sorry Hannah, if you read this, but it feels like the complete antithesis of any show in which Hannah has ever been involved. Max doesn't have a cold. I'm not out replenishing our make up supplies at the last minute. He's just going to be in the show, and it will be great, and it will be over.

This might be the last time it ever feels this way though, so I'm definitely enjoying it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I Get It, and Yet

So the other night I told you that I don't read very much to completion anymore, and I do think that's true. And yet, being away from my desk all day today, my feedly reader stacked up with new posts, and I just cleared them out again, tagging eight posts that I will probably read through in their entirety, plus two more from my favorite work-related site, and I printed out another work article that was seven pages long and I read the entire thing. So maybe it's just a matter of being more selective about what I read given the quantity that's available out there. I probably read the headlines of 75 other pieces that I took a pass on completely. If I'd been in my office instead of traveling, I probably would have read more of them, and definitely seen more headlines.

What makes the cut, other than the work stuff that's relevant? Mostly content on Bravo. It's my weakness.

Now it's time to sit in a more comfortable spot and dive in.

Monday, November 18, 2019

When I'm Gone

I haven't traveled for work nearly as much this year, so the fact that I have to go to Baltimore tomorrow feels a bit weird. I've gotten out of the routine of picking up and going as often. Fortunately, I don't have to pack, as I'll be there and back in the same day. Y'all know how much I loathe packing.

I still feel like I need to tie up as many loose ends as I can before I go, which is totally unnecessary for a short trip like this one. But every little thing I can settle in my mind helps me feel like I can handle being gone a little better.

Hyper over active brain: activate!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

I'm the First

For all people moan about teenagers and cell phones, I'm here to tell you that I absolutely love how having a cell phone has enhanced the relationship I have with Hannah (Max too, but he's different in some ways). Hannah and I love the same kinds of memes and videos, and it's much easier being able to text or email during the day when I want her to know something or have a question. It allows me to give her more freedom, like a date night out with her boyfriend when I have some place else to be, because I can be in contact with her and know where she is without totally hovering.

But the thing I love most of all is that I'm the first. She passed her test at driver's ed this afternoon, which she needed to do in order to take her first driving lessons this winter, and I'm the first person she told. She had been nervous about it, and I knew she'd do fine, but I love being on the other end of that relief she feels in having passed, and not just on the end that took on the worrying with her before the exam.

I know I won't be the first person in her life for too much longer, but this is a very sweet benefit to this season.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

I Get It

It's rare that I finish any article to its completion anymore. In fact, I'll often page down to see how long something is before I even start reading. It's not that I don't want to know, but that so many news items these days begin with the latest and greatest, then spend a lot of time rehashing what was already known, and then bury something else new deep in the conclusion, if at all. The only new bit might have been something you could take right from the headline.

I find this to be true even in first-person memoir (cough: blog posts) too. I just gave up on one that was so predictable, I don't think I made it more than a third of the way through, but I only clicked on it at all because a more sentimental blogger friend of mine waxed on about it. I tried, but I couldn't read on.

I think I stopped writing myself because of feeling this way. I've often felt that all of the words have already been said, and that if I couldn't compel myself to read them, who used to love words so much, then who would read? The thinking of titles, the finding of images, the endless self-promotion? Over it all.

And yet, I'm back here writing again. I get it. I am totally part of the problem.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Who They Are

We stopped at Wegman's this evening to pick up a few things. Although we had just gotten half pizzas for everyone at Oath, the kids were still hungry, so Max picked up spicy tuna sushi. Then Hannah wanted tete de moine, a cheese that folds in thin layers that resemble a carnation. We'd taken the elevator to the car, and as it hummed gently, they each harmonized a note along with it.

I love how my kids are so very much themselves.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Power of Persuasion

Hannah's feeling a little stressed out this evening. I can't blame her at all; she gets it from me. But I have to try to do better for her than I do for myself. So we took the dog for a walk, we ate comforting food, and now, we're going to subscribe to Disney+. Because if 10 million other people can do it, we can do it too.

First up: High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. I can feel us relaxing already.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Older Questions

My back and assorted other body parts have been rebelling against me today after a particularly bad night of sleep. I was wide awake from 2-3 am, and I've found that as I'm getting older, my body really needs the time to rest. Of course, I've also found on nights when I do sleep more soundly that I awake in pain then too, because I spent too much time in one position. So I'm always questioning what I'm doing in an effort to make things better.

I finally bothered to buy some new pillows this morning. I'll keep you posted on whether or not it helps anything at all, but I know it's been way too long since I've had new ones.

I was telling Hannah about this purchase, and realized that the kids probably have pillows that are way too old too. But they don't complain about aches and pains on a regular basis. "Maybe it's time to buy yourself a new pillow?" isn't a question they've ever asked, nor do I remember asking myself that until recently. I don't think the last time I bought new pillows was a quest to solve my sleep dilemmas.

I guess it's good to always be asking yourself new questions.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


It's supposed to be the first day that we see snow on the ground this season, but so far, nothing much has happened here in Boston. I tried to capture the pretty sky outside my office now that it's cleared up for a moment, but the photo mostly reflects the items in my office, and, well, me. Now you all know I didn't bother to blow dry my hair today.

Snow and ice make me anxious, and the more delayed of a start we see to winter, the more I start dreading the whole enterprise. I can't really see myself living somewhere where it doesn't snow more though. I think I'd have a harder time living in the places that tend to shut down over a couple of inches because no one is prepared. I'd rather know how to deal with it and have to cope sometimes than feel completely stuck.

Anyway, I'm sure the energy I put into worrying about snowstorms helps make the whole thing less of a big deal for everyone else. Except in 2015. I guess I wasn't preoccupied enough that year.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Opposite of Yesterday’s Post

So it’s day 12 of NaBloPoMo and I’m struggling tonight to think of something to say from outside Max’s guitar lesson. He spent the few minutes in the waiting room with me just running his mouth, which isn’t that unusual, but after a three day weekend, I’m at the end of my listening capabilities. I work hard at tolerating and even encouraging these conversations, and I know with the teenage years approaching, they may soon be gone. But I’m feeling that Sunday night stress on a Monday evening and my eyelid is twitching and so yea, enough.

Perhaps something more riveting tomorrow.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

An Updated Better Conversations

It remains one of my favorite posts here at Busy Since Birth: Better Conversations from 2012, the first of I think four times now that my Brandeis roommates and I have met up when Julia comes to town for a conference. Every time I hear the train song "Bruises," about how these bruises in our lives, well, make for better conversations, I think of these people and how I'm so lucky to still have them in my life. Our 20 year reunion is coming up this spring, and even though Hannah's been taking driving lessons this weekend, I don't really believe it's actually been that long.

And the conversations? Oy. We've all been through some things. But as I said to Marc, there is almost no one I feel more myself with than this crew.

So very lucky.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Show Day!

Tonight the four of us are going to see “Come From Away,” which I’ve been wanting to see for years. It’s the story of an island in Newfoundland that took in 38 planes of people on 9/11. And I will likely cry. 9/11 still feels like yesterday, not almost 20 years ago now. What the people on that island did is a truly remarkable story from that time, and I’m glad the show exists to share their story.

Friday, November 8, 2019


Recently as I left the train station downtown, I heard a street performer playing the saxophone. It wasn't a song I recognized, and may have been just a snippet of something, but I was suddenly reminded of my first apartment in Boston. Someone in the building, or maybe the building next door, played sax, and while I never found out who they were, when I left my windows open, I could often hear them play. Practicing more than playing all the way through something, never something I recognized. Hearing the saxophone now, the image of the three large windows ("so much natural light!") set into the white, unadorned walls of my apartment flashed before my eyes.

I miss the simplicity of my life then. Marc and I were dating, but long distance, so I was usually just responsible for myself. I worked, and I worked hard, but I wasn't disappointing anyone if I got home late and ordered take-out. I could spend my money in any way I chose, and while I had to watch it, I was only just learning to be more careful at that point. I had goals and dreams, but nothing terribly concrete. I was just so proud to have a real Boston address, even though it was to a studio apartment without much of a kitchen that faced into an alley (but those windows!).

I truly believe my life is better now - so much richer than it was then - but I wish I'd valued that simplicity more.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Circling the Drain

It's been a really long, emotionally draining day. The video went as well as it could have, despite a drum-playing panhandler showing up outside and adding some hip hop beats to my bank loan material. I was so incredibly nervous though, the most nervous I've been since giving birth to Hannah, I think. So I'll just end with a photo from Hannah's concert tonight of her singing her heart out to a solo.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Nailed It

I have a complicated relationship with getting my nails done.

On the one hand, it feels completely frivolous and unnecessary to spend money on such a small thing.

On the other hand, it makes me feel pretty and more put together.

I got my nails done in advance of this video taping tomorrow, because I'm supposed to appear conversational and try to gesture a lot. I don't think I gesture a lot naturally, but I'm going to try to tomorrow.

Yay self care I guess?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Speak Slowly

Half way in to the office this morning, I got an email that my building had a water main break, and that we should work from home! So I hopped off the train and took the next one back towards Newton, voted in our town elections, bought some muffins from the local cafe, and then came home to change into comfier clothes. I've done two conference calls from home this morning, and now I get to spend the afternoon talking to myself.

I'd have talked to myself in the office today too, but it's definitely better to get to do this from the comfort of my couch. I'm filming a video later this week, and while I'm supposed to appear easy-breezy conversational, well, that takes some practice from me. It's like four one-minute monologues. Over the past few years, I've gotten used to helping my kids with monologues for various auditions, but it's not something I myself have to do all that often. I talk fast, and it's not easy for me to moderate that. I've managed with a teleprompter before, but I won't have one this time around.

I hope Shira (our dog) is in the mood for lots of talk about bank loans. She's the only audience I've got.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Who Wins?

Max started middle school this fall, and it was a highly anticipated event for me, because for the first time in, well, basically forever, I wasn't going to have to wait until the school bus picked him up at 8:15 and then start my commute into Boston. I'd almost never get a train before 8:30, and often get into my office just a hair before 9:30. Our official start time, according to my offer letter fourteen years ago, is 8:45 am. There were occasions when Marc waited with Max, but generally, it was me, and generally, I was late to work. Gratefully, my bosses always understood, but it made me anxious.

I hate being late. Really, really hate it. In my mind, early is on time and on time is basically late. I routinely dial in to conference calls two minutes early, just in case. I actually don't mind if *you're* late - I really don't - but I can't do it. Send out a search party if I'm more than five minutes behind on anything.

I also felt like I was losing my best time of the day to waiting around. I didn't really get any extra sleep, since I wanted to connect with Hannah before she would leave for the day. While I often logged in to work in recent years, I typically wouldn't get much done. Sometimes there were 8 or 9 am meetings I would miss, and my email would really build up between 8 and 9 each day. I hated that feeling of always starting the day behind.

So now Marc, Hannah and Max all drive off together every morning, significantly earlier than the elementary school bus. Some mornings I linger a bit, playing with the dog or throwing dishes in the dishwasher, but a lot of times, I'm ready to go right alongside them. I get to work before the "start time" and I almost always get a seat on the train now, or have the flexibility to wait for the next one if I want. I don't feel constantly behind.

But I am working more. And spending a few less minutes with Max each day. Sooo...toss up?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Before 1:30 pm

A list of things I’ve done today, a fairly typical Sunday:

Got up to the sound of the dog barking
Let the dog out, fed and watered
Took laundry out of the dryer and left it out of reach of the dog
Woke Hannah
Showered and got dressed - yay jeans!
Put two loads of laundry away
Brought down and started another load of laundry after picking up clothes from the bedroom floor
Had Max take out the recycling
Made sure the kids had what they needed for religious school/Hannah’s outing with friends this afternoon
Meal planned for the first half of the week with Hannah’s assistance, made the shopping list
Stopped for coffee on the way to religious school
Dropped the kids off
Did the grocery shopping at Wegman’s - thankful for all the products they have that simplify our lives
Unpacked the groceries at home
Flipped the laundry
Did some dishes - not much but had emptied leftovers from the refrigerator
Took the compost outside
Bagged up clothes from the closet floor for Vietnam Vets pick up on Tuesday, brought them downstairs, plus an old lamp we’re donating
Ordered lunch online for three of us from Panera
Picked up lunch
Picked up Hannah early from religious school, drove her to a friend’s house while she ate
Chatted with my friend at the drop off
Drove home and attacked our laundry closet to pull out boots and other winter gear, sorted more stuff to donate
Took the laundry out of the dryer, started washing the dog’s blanket
Sent an email to South Stage Parents, plus another to the South Stage Board
Drank juice since my blood sugar was plummeting
Picked up Max from religious school (started writing this list while I waited in the parking lot)
Flipped laundry again, started another load
Ate lunch with Max, flipped through the Globe Sunday magazine
Cleaned up from lunch
Had Max assess his portion of the winter gear, reminded him to finish his homework

...And umpteen times letting the dog out and coercing her back in with treats.All before 1:30 in the afternoon. Later, I still need to work on a graphic for South Stage, take Max to and from choir practice, pick up Hannah from her outing,  cook dinner and clean up from that. I'll get some time to rest this afternoon, probably watching Saturday Night Live as Sunday Afternoon Pre-Recorded. But no wonder it's less tiring to go back to my office on Monday, right?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Mind the Gap

Speaking of trains, it's nothing short of miraculous that I have never fallen or been pushed into the train track gap at South Station for the Red Line. It's something I'm acutely aware of each and every day, as the work day finally ends and I'm up for the last hurdle of just getting myself home safely. Every single afternoon, I come down to the tracks and position myself in such a way that I can get to the train doors quickly, but not too close so that an overcrowded platform, or someone just misjudging the space and plowing into me, doesn't send me careening onto the tracks. I also make sure that if I were to faint or something, I'd have enough space around me in any direction in order to not fall head first into the ditch before an oncoming train.

Am I crazy to think about this every day? Probably. Nothing has ever happened to me, even though I did once know someone who assisted in pulling a stranger up off from the tracks as a train approached, but I'd been watching my surroundings long before that incident. And I have seen many people faint on the train in my almost two decades of commuting. But I feel like I'm always one of those people who is very conscious of the space I take up, and where I am in the world, when so many people are just...not. That's just what I do.

And I guess I don't take that safety I try to inoculate myself with for granted.

Friday, November 1, 2019

But Someday, I Might

For the last fourteen years, I’ve worked across the street from Boston’s main train station. In addition to the local commuter rail and subway trains, there are many Amtrak trains that leave throughout the day, and they’re often stacked up patiently waiting when I pass through in the mornings. I hear the announcements, destinations I have never been, and the ATM is right there, and I could easily buy a ticket and go. Maybe somewhere close even, so I can get back home in the same day, would anyone even notice?

I consider it an amazing bit of discipline that I've never done it.

Friday, March 29, 2019

For KP

This week, my former boss and long-time mentor is retiring. Here's the speech I gave at his retirement luncheon.

There are only a few moments in my life that I can remember very clearly, and one of those was just over 12 years ago, when I interviewed with KP and JB for what has become known as the data specialist role within our team. Even though I knew them already from getting signatures on trades so I could fax and scan them to our counterparties, they were still as intimidating as we all know them to be. KP hotly contests that he is intimidating, but we all know it’s true.

I remember sitting in KP’s office on 34, since he had that extra wooden circular table, in what would eventually become “my seat,” and telling KP and JB that I didn’t know how to do half of the things in the job description they’d provided. I was specifically very scared of being responsible for knowing the performance of the fund and the index. I had no idea then that performance would be the thing that would keep me up at night all these years later.

I joined Loomis in 2005, but didn’t join this team until March 2007, just before the bank loan market was the hottest it probably will ever be. I was sending out easily over a dozen bank books a week. We had the SLF and Lux, and SLF II, Credit Opps, and two CLOs and 1199... and then the bottom dropped out from underneath us all. I had my son Max on January 1, 2008, which was perfect timing if you want to spend the first year of your child’s life in a panic about whether or not you’d continue to have a job.

But somehow we persevered, and I learned about defaults and we argued the definitions of recovery, and things improved. We came up with the “promises” section of our presentation. Then we got permission to develop SFRFI, and I started sitting in on more and more presentations. That wooden circular table had become the staging area for all of the marketing books KP needed printed out for every meeting and roadshow. Soon enough I got to hit the road too, but it was hard for KP to accept at first. He eventually became what he always has been for me: my biggest supporter and champion.

For years, whenever someone asked me what I liked best about my job, the answer was a simple one: I liked the fact that you and JB were the smartest people in the room. I was always going to learn something new when I was around you, whether it was in front of a client or in one of the many, many lectures you would give me over the years. I trusted that you were working as hard as you could to do the right things for our clients, and for our team, and that was something I wanted to be part of. When performance turned down again in 2015, you once again walked me through the resiliency of bank loans, and then we had our best year ever, leading us to win the Lipper Award, one of the proudest moments of my career.

We haven’t always agreed on everything. For example, no one will ever really believe me when I tell them the story of the car accident we were in on the way to a meeting at Natixis, because the version you tell is better. And while you will tell everyone that you’re a registered Independent, we’ve had plenty of heated discussions over the years. I haven’t always been able to get you on my side, but I like to think I’ve made some progress.

KP, thank you for all that you’ve done for me and for this team. Personally, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve almost made it to the end of the elementary years as a full-time working mom, while also experiencing so much amazing growth and opportunity, and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without you and JB. Thank you for always making time for us; the time you invested in each of us has made all of us better, not just at our jobs, but as people. What you have built goes beyond AUM and performance, even if those are your primary goals. It’s also about a team of people who through disciplined choices and hard work, can do the very best we can for our clients.

Thank you for everything, and you will be dearly missed.

Saturday, January 5, 2019


At the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco
Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning fifteen.

And seriously? That's enough for me. Just stay right here, as you are, right now. I'd be perfectly happy to keep you here forever. You, on the other hand, have bigger plans.

You started high school after delivering an amazing speech at eighth grade graduation. You were a brainiac (#HSMforever), an astronaut and a sky diver. You continued to sing all over with the Troubadours and HaZamir. You produced "Emotional Baggage" to cap off your Oak Hill Drama experience, and we saw many shows together. You traveled to New York City and Israel without your parents, but camp remains your home, and your friends there are your family.   

You cried tears of happiness when we finally got a dog, and after Zimriyah, and at the Kotel, and tears of stress in honors math and after theater auditions. You rock a double French braid and are always up for new clothes. You've made so many new friends in high school, and it's amazing to me how you just collect people who love you. Not as much as your brother loves you though, and I appreciate how you go out of your way to show your love for him.

You have so much coming ahead for you, and I know you're going to rock all of it. We talk just the tiniest bit about driving and college on the horizon, but I know you'll be ready for all of it when the time comes. For now, I hope you enjoy something in each day, even if it's just belting out show tunes in the shower. I love you, Hannie. Happy birthday.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


On the glass floor at the top of Willis Tower in Chicago
Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning eleven.

And you're kind of "meh" about the whole getting older thing. You realize that you're having a pretty amazing childhood, and that adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be. But you also can't wait to get your birthday present, so getting older will have to come.

This year you started your last year of elementary school. You were Prince Charming and a Guy in Tie, and will soon be a barkeep and a Lion King. You were a singing, two types of guitar, flute-playing wonder. We marched for our lives together. You had another epic summer at camp, and we all know Gurim was robbed at Zim. You finally made it to Mount Rushmore and the world's biggest ball of twine, driving 5800 miles with Dad. You got an iPhone and used it to text your grandparents.

You are all things YouTube and film-making (be sure to like and subscribe!), and “did you know” political facts and conspiracy theories and, as of this past week, a taxi-driving alter ego, Daniel Dingleschwaber. You have your own sense of style, lately favoring jeans and accessorizing with bracelets, and of course, your long hair. You want to know everything, and you want to share what you know even more. Your sister’s support means everything to you, and she’s still your best friend, followed closely by our new puppy, Shira.

So much lies ahead for you. Fifth grade graduation and starting middle school, a full seven weeks at camp, and so many more videos to be made. I'm so proud of you, and grateful that I get to be on this journey with you. Happy birthday - I love you, buddy.

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