Child #4 Is Still Like New

I worried the same with each of my children.

Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved my existing one? How could I muster the same excitement with their first words or their first steps? Was it possible to jump with joy at every milestone, for every child? 

The answer of course, yes. And yes, again. And yes, again.

It always surprises me how naturally that joy pops in with #4. I would have thought the joy would be less, or changed or by the fourth time – eh, whatever, nice job, been there, done that. But, with each individual child, no matter what they’ve done and how many ‘repeats’ I’ve seen it’s always as if I’m seeing it again for the first time.

Yesterday, amidst days of travel to family in both San Anotonio and Memphis, we sat in the airport waiting for a much anticipated flight back home. We were exhausted having carried in six suitcases, five backpacks and multiple sweatshirts. We were defeated a little by the 40s awaiting us on the other end of our current 7o degrees sunshine-filled days, but happy to go home, none the less.

My youngest, #4, sat to my right happily munching on chips. I sat catching up on the world via Yahoo News. Suddenly, a gasp!

“Mommy! My tooth came out!”, #4 announced.

My heart jumped. I screamed a healthy loud, “Yay!” A little embarrassed by my excitement, a woman behind me started laughing at my exuberant grabbing of my daughter. My husband jolted out of his seat and my #2 and #3 joined in. I even saw my ‘too old for this’ #1 smile out of the corner, while hiding on his iPhone.

I carefully wrapped Tooth in a self-made envelope of grocery receipt garnered from the ever growing bottom-of-my-purse trash. We talked Fairies and presents and stopped blood flow. Pictures were instantly snapped and posted in texts to family and Facebookland. Pride was oozing out of all of us for this little milestone that showed our baby was no longer a baby, but a growing one-tooth-down and many to go Big Girl.

As the excitement of Tooth calmed in the air and the tired faces returned to their iPhones and chips, I placed the wrapped tooth in my wallet. My mind wandered back to small faces of each of my children with their wide mouthed grins, one space missing, center bottom. Each face traveled through like a spinning thumb pushing them to the right on my Photo Feed. I felt my heart full and my eyes filled just a bit at the thought of this being the last first tooth of my children.

I can’t believe I was ever that naive about a mother’s love for each of her babies. I laugh when I remember that feeling of doubt now, each first, each milestone, each little tooth – a constant reminder that instinctively as parents we know an awesome moment when we see one.

How to Make Your Wife Feel Appreciated

Dear Husbands Out There,

This one’s for you.

I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a pretty great guy, but he’s human – just like the rest of you. With holidays around the corner, I thought it would be a good reminder to appreciate your woman. Not just a “Yay, for you!” or “Thanks, honey.”

But, I thought I’d delve a little further into what we mean when we say (loudly) You just don’t get it!!

Cross ‘It’ Off The List

Maybe she’s asked you to fix that door lock, change those dining room lightbulbs or throw out that box in the basement. Whatever was on that to-do list, right now, take a moment and do even just one, without her asking you again. Show her despite all these years, you still pay attention to her and her needs. She’ll be both shocked and in awe of you…

Make Time To Really Look & Listen 

If you can’t figure out exactly why she’s freaking out right now, ask. Make time to really watch and  listen to figure out ‘How can I be helpful?’. Often guys wait to be assigned a task, figuring if she needs something she’ll let me know. But, guys, we still appreciate when you take the time to notice we need help with something and do it.

Example: I abhor bringing in those darn groceries. When I come home from a $400  grocery shopping and am faced with bringing it all in, it’s nice when he comes out the door and grabs the bags without me asking. It’s even nicer, when he starts to put it away without even being asked! Bonus!

Get Those Kids Out, Now!

Nothing says “I love you” louder than removal of the kids for a few hours. Either taking the kids out for some fun, while she does her thing at home, or sending her off to get some peace and quiet (think mani/pedi break) before the holiday. My first year making Passover for the entire family and then some, my husband bought me a massage and then kicked me out to go use it. I was angry at first, that I had ‘so much to do’ but, once I had those knots out of my shoulders, I came home a much nicer person than I left.

Write Her a Note

In this era of virtual everything, the one thing you should never do virtually is Appreciation. This is the time to run out and buy a nice card that is blank inside. Why blank? Because you are about to fill that sucker up with your own words and nobody else’s. It doesn’t have to be mushy or even poetic – it just has to be you. Write why you still love that woman who slaved away to clean, prepare your meals and care for those little rugrats. Remind her why you still find her hot, even though she’s covered in cooked food and sweat. Relay those reasons you married her and how happy you are go be celebrating this holiday with her. Putting it on paper shows effort and allows her to open that card and reread at a later date ( and when she may not be so enamored with you)

Eye on the Prize

The point of all of this holiday madness is not the food, the new clothing or the clean house. The point is the celebration of your tradition and family. It is meant to be a time to enjoy each other and not create resentment.

If you find your wife is hating you, seems stressed at the mere mention of the P-word – stop, drop and help. Ask what you can do, ask your wife to make you a list of tasks if you’re totally clueless or just grab the kids and go to leave her time to breathe.

Holidays can become very stressful for everyone, and it’s a beautiful thing when 2 people who actually love each other focus on the prize.

So dear husbands, I hope I’ve clarified a bit of what we mean when we say ‘Show some appreciation!’  Now, go forth and act on it! Your reward will be forever undying love & appreciation in return – guaranteed – no money back!

Happy Passover. (or Happy Whatever-You-Are-Celebrating)

Love,

Wives All Over The World.

 

 

An Unknown Reality of 40

I am in an overwhelming state of flux and I don’t deal well with unknown.

I am deciding between pinching pennies and purchasing a larger home or living through the hell and unexpected expense of an addition to expand our already cramped living space.

I am waiting for my husband to decide if he remains at his company of nearly 20 years, or take on a position in a new company and start ‘fresh’.

I am waiting for my son determine between one excellent college over another excellent college, neither of which are even close to where we live and both cost an arm, a leg and a faraway son.

I am preparing said son to venture off halfway across the world to live abroad for 10 months.

I am dealing with the fact that this is the last year my baby will ever be in preschool. My next in line enters middle school, my oldest daughter – a sophomore in high school.

And then, to top it all off - I am turning 40 in less than 3 months and not feeling quite so fabulous.

Needless to say, I have been an emotional roller-coaster of tears, joy, tears, excitement, tears, fear and then of course, some tears. I have burst at any given moment for no reason at all, leaving my poor husband at loss for holding me or giving me space -whatever I yell first.

Nothing prepares a mother for the eventual reality that her children are growing up. You create an environment full of love, life and opportunities hoping one day, they will live on their own. But, that one day is supposed to happen long after you’re ready and far after I’m 40.

40.

Just the number feels large and overwhelming. I don’t know what it is about them, as I never feared it before – but now 40 just feels so darn old. Like, I am supposed to have more ‘figured out’ by now. Like I am supposed to be hot and fit and look way younger than my years. And, well – I just don’t have it all figured out and I am not hot and fit. Blargh.

I recently read an article that asked other’s for tales from the ‘other side’ of 40. I think I will do the same. I need to hear that life isn’t so bad with grown up kids. That life can figure itself out. That finding meaning after my mid-life crisis will become simple and obvious. That saying goodbye to a family of 6 on a daily basis is not so bad. That my tears will end and my reality become much easier to handle. That I will adjust and change and grow and my unknowns will eventually reveal themselves and all will be calm again in my world.

So, do tell ladies and gentlemen. Do tell….

 

Passover Seder, Let’s Kick It Up a Notch!

When I was a kid, Passover meant going through the Haggadah line-by-line. Passover meant I was hungry for ‘real food’. Passover meant chocolate chip cookies that tasted like cardboard mixed with chips. Passover meant fighting over the ‘special knife’ and the ‘three pronged fork’ and counting down the pages till we could eat! And, when it came to Seder it never meant fun. It wasn’t anybody’s fault – it just was traditional and well, boring for us kids.

So, when I made my own first Seder with my children I decided it was high time to make Passover more interactive and exciting.

My first year, I bought The Box of Plagues. This amazing box of trinkets and toys to keep the little ones interested at Makkot time. My kids fought over who was in charge of each makkah and they were having, gasp! fun at the Seder! Throwing ping pong balls for hail and ‘killing’  my first-born with a fake sword.

With fun finally infused, I was ready for more.

So, we added in some re-enactments, some Seder Bingo, some skits, songs and silliness. My in-laws Moses and an Egpytian Server one year, my son creating character roles for us the next. Last year we incorporated marshmallow rewards for asking good questions to be saved and dipped at dessert into a candle-heated chocolate fondue pot.

This year, I have put together a list of new and fun ways to bump Passover up another notch. Some prep prior can go a long way to keeping the kids interested and interactive…Please feel free to add to this list and pass around to your friends!!

Place Cards

 

 

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These are an adorable nod to the Paschal Lamb and would be a fun pre-Passover project. Each year we try to create a new placecard and we’re definitely going to try this one this year.

Serving Pieces With Meaning

Make serving pieces at your Seder completely personal with this super easy Sharpie idea. Decorate with family traditions, sayings or Passover related artwork. A great idea to keep them busy prior to the holiday.

Let Your Fingers Do The Talking

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I just ordered these yesterday! I am very excited to pull them out during the 10 Makkot and surprise my kids. I am thinking these would be so awesome as a gift for a teen or tween also. Have to figure out how to hide my nails until Seder…

Tell The Story A Whole New Way

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Acting out the story is always fun for the littler ones at the table. Here is a do-ahead project to create little ‘actors’. You could also incorporate Little People or lego characters just as easily.

Makkot Mmmm

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Edible Makkot treats are always a fun way to keep the kids interested and offer a little snack before dinner comes. These are easy to find at any candy store and will make an adorable addition to your Seder.

Chametz Or Not?

Play a pre-Passover game and get little ones prepped and ready to go (or offer a mid-seder break with this game as well) and play Chametz or Not! Grab a few items from the play kitchen and put some real foods for Passover on the a tray. Offer up points for wiinners (or treats). Here’s a sample tray.

Make New Memories and Relive Old Ones

A great post Passover activity – when packing up the dishes have each member of the Seder write down a favorite memory or funny moment from Passover to be included with the packup. When you open your box next year you’ll have a great surprise waiting for you and years of memories to collect.

The 4 Questions in Other Cultures

Ma Nishtana in a whole new language. Yiddish? French? Spanish? Try and spice it up and think about Jewish celebrations in other cultures. Here’s a great video of Yiddish to get you started:

Seder Bingo

I created my own version of Seder Bingo that is appropriate for the older kid-crowd. I am happy to give you a copy! Just put your info into the little box titled Subscribe Via Email (top right hand corner) or Contact Me  via my Liking Facebook page and I would be more than happy to forward you on a printable copy ready for laminating. Use chips, matzo farfel or anything creative you can think up to mark it up during the Seder.

Budgeting For Passover

If this is your first year making Passover, I feel ya, so here’s a great post I read about making Passover on a Budget (which is REALLY hard, but doable).

However you make your Seder special, I would love to hear about it!! Please also visit my Pinterest Page for more Inspired Holiday ideas and please share your great ideas as well…

Do You Want To Build a Snowman, Chicago?

Here lays the remains of what used to be a short, robust little snow-midget my husband and kids built months ago:

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With our frigid Midwest crazy winter, it was the midget to outlast all snow midgets. The excitement of that very first snow, now a long forgotten memory – his little scarf, arms, hat and carrot nose perfectly preserved by ice and snow, is all that remains of our little friend.

The beauty of winter here in Chicago, is that when the thaw happens, when it’s just 35 degrees outside, we’re all jacket free in the sunshine. The joy is literally palpable everywhere.

Standing outside preschool pickup yesterday we were all smiles, chattering Moms, instead of doing the typical ‘dash and run’ when it’s so darn cold out.

The grocery store checkout who usually just mumbles “Have a nice day” was telling me about the beautiful weather we’re expecting tomorrow, with a smile.

And then, when I pulled up to my house, finally a brown, muddied mess of lawn shining through I beamed with delight. While we’re not ‘quite there yet’ we are getting close. The buds in my small tulip patch were just poking through to say hello.

My kids will come home in great moods at the end of the day. My husband, traveling in and out all week, still has energy to keep going. Its like a recharge of Vitamin D batteries, enough to bring the groceries right in from the car, instead of taking in the luxury of freezer temps in the trunk waiting for hubby to shlep them in later.

So, Mr. Puxatawney Phil, I don’t care if you saw your shadow or not. Here in Chi-town we’re welcoming in that vernal equinox and are literally doing a happy dance to see the Sun again, anxiously awaiting those 50s we’re promised.

And, as for you little snow-midget… Nope. I don’t wanna build a snowman, right now. But, I am sure come round in December, we’ll all be ready again. Until then, I’ll wash your little scarf, dry it and put it away for you…

Happy Spring All!!!

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