Nov 02 2016

Letters to Jack

Published by Karol under Letters to Jack

Dear Jack,

Like the letter to your sister below, this one is somewhat delayed. Very delayed actually. It’s not your birthday, it’s not your half-birthday, I’ve been writing this for months. I just deleted three paragraphs that don’t make sense to who you are anymore. You’re changing rapidly and my letters can’t keep up.

I start and restart my letter to you and wonder why I find it so difficult. The last letter I wrote to you alone was on your 2nd birthday and now you’re a little over three months from 4. Six months after I wrote it, I thought about writing you another one because you had changed so much but time slipped away and it never happened. When I wrote the last letter, you were barely talking. You had the basics, mama, aba, bye, hi, but that was about it. We think back to that Disney World trip when you were 2 and it’s crazy to imagine that you weren’t the full-on talkative kid you would become literally 2 months later. You went from few words to paragraphs in a blink. That sums you up right now: when you go, you go hard.

Jacky, you outshine the morning sun, my son. And if you know what that is a reference to then you probably remember the year (years?) that Sadie, you and me spent completely immersed in the Broadway show Hamilton. The three of us got obsessed with it. I know I led the way but you guys took off on your own Hamiltonian adventures. You wake up on Saturday mornings and pack your backpack to go to George Washington’s house. You talk about Burr killing Hamilton, about Laurens shooting Lee. We discuss how Thomas Jefferson might be the “bad guy” in the story but we don’t see him that way historically. We laugh at that little guy John Adams. We talk about France (Lafayette is our favorite), we talk about England (we love/hate the King). We listen to the soundtrack over and over and you discover new things in the songs that spur discussions. Today it was about the “odds the Gods put us all in one spot” and we got into G-d and whether there is more than one. We quote lines all the time. Your aba is partially sick of it, partially kind of amazed how it’s taken on this life of its own in our world. What’s crazy is how much you and your sister understand. Neither of you can listen to The World Was Wide Enough or Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (and of course I skip Say No To This and Reynolds Pamphlet). You cried one day, full sobs and tears that you missed Alexander Hamilton after listening to Burr shoot him.

You are really freaking smart, sharp. You always have a comeback. You’re fearless, and this of course is good and bad. You are rarely without a band-aid on some bleeding part of your body. You get older boys to follow you and play your way on the playground. It’s always the funniest watching you lead 9 year olds around. There’s a million things you haven’t done, but just we wait.

You’re so different that it makes these letters much more difficult to write than those to your sister. She’s the sweet girl, gets along with everyone, knows how to manage her affection so no one ever feels left out. You’re much more limited in what you give people. You’re not trying to love the world. You have this crazy magnetism. When you give someone your attention, they melt. “OMG, Jack is talking to me” is something that people actually say out loud.

You’re superhero everything all the time. You’re Batman, you’re Superman. You were a ninja for Halloween and you committed to the part. You got your aba to dress up like a ninja with you too. When I asked him why he was bothering with a costume (we’re not dress-up people) he said “Jack really wants to and I love that little guy” (he didn’t use the word guy but this is a family blog.) When I try to dress you in anything but a shirt with a character on it you tell me “I don’t want to be handsome, I want to be cool.”

The gender divide has always been really stark with you. I’ve written about it before, how you were a little boy before anything else. I mean, you play with dolls. Sort of:

I get often told that your sister is so much like me. And maybe she is. We like the same music, we both are voracious readers, there’s a lot about myself I see in her. But the fact is that you’re a little me too. You’re so headstrong and it drives me crazy but it’s exactly how I was. My parents would try to bribe me to try new foods but I wouldn’t go for it. I say how annoying it is that you eat like 5 things in total but gosh, where did you get that? I may have lived on tuna fish sandwiches in high school, there was a cruise I went on with my parents where I ate nothing but french fries. I tried cream cheese for the first time at 19.

You’re not easy. You’re full of resistance, angles, ideas. “Jacky, sshhhh” is something I say a lot. You’re still the baby of the house even though there is a Jude now. You curl up on me daily, you need your mama more than anyone has ever needed me. I know your siblings love me, and I know you’re all kids so it’s all fluid and changing, but the way you are with me is unique to you.

There’s a lot written (and hey, I’ve written it) about how moms always think they’re failing at everything. They’re not being present enough with their kids, they’re slacking off at work, they’re not taking care of themselves physically, they’re letting friendships wane, marriage slip etc. We’re all sucking all the time. And a lot of that is true for me. I always feel like I should be doing more professionally (how have I not written a book yet!) or that I should be working out, spending more time with your aba or connecting better with friends. But this is the year I kind of rocked it as a mom. I took the month of August to focus exclusively on you and your sister (Jude was happily with his baba and he gets good time with me when you guys are at school) and to really talk to you guys, to spend quality time. And even when August became September and then October and November, I feel like I’m in an awesome place mom-wise and just need to get the other parts of my life working a little better to not feel the overwhelming mom-guilt all the time.

When my time is up, have I done enough? My purpose every day is for you, Sadie and Jude to say yes. I don’t need my story told by anyone else.

You really nail some of the Hamilton songs:
Hamilton singing

First day of 3s.

We go to lunch, just me and you, once or twice a week. Here you are proudly trying a maraschino cherry for the first time (you weren’t into it).

We went to Portugal last summer! You had such a good time and came back saying “good morning” (“Bom dia”)and “thank you” (“Obrigado”) to everyone for the first month of school.

Love you, my Jacky. I’ll try not to take as long with the next letter.

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Mar 16 2016

Letters to Sadie

Published by Karol under Letters to Sadie

Happy 6 year plus one month and 11 days birthday, my beautiful girl. It’s a crazy time over here and it took me a lot longer to get this year’s letter going than usual. I started to blame the baby but it’s not really his fault, or not just his fault anyway. Our home is chaotic, busy, loud, fun and awesome. There are a lot of people, not just the 5 of us who live here but also the many others who have their own key and visit often (sidenote: we came home from the circus last weekend and both you and Jack couldn’t believe there wasn’t anyone waiting for you at our place). As I said, it’s awesome, but it doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time to write you letters to tell you that you’re amazing.

And you are amazing! I had your parent-teacher conference last week and your teacher and I ran out of things to talk about pretty quickly because you have straight 4′s (in my day we called them “A’s”) and are generally a super sweet, kind, helpful, mature kid, so we ended up discussing the terrifying election we are having (when you read this in the future, I just hope everything turned out ok).

You’re so good, it’s crazy. When we’re walking down the sidewalk and you’re running ahead with your friends, your friends’ nannies or parents get nervous that you all won’t stop before the street, I tell them not to worry, that you’ll definitely stop and also stop all the other kids too. I’m right every time. You stand up for other kids, I’ve seen you do it. You don’t let anyone get bullied when you’re around. You’re still not as aware when people aren’t being nice to you but you spot meanness to others quickly and put a stop to it.

We were watching Aladdin for the first time recently and I asked you what you would wish for if you had three wishes. You said:
1. The world would be a better place
2. No one would get lost
3. People would be loving to the people they should be loving to.

I texted your aba as soon as it happened: where did we find this hippie? I would always assume that an answer like this given by a child had been planted by the parent but you and I both know that these are not the things I would necessarily encourage you to wish for. Meanwhile, I asked Jack the same question and he only came up with one wish: a Superman doll. “But you have a Superman doll already,” I said. “Yes, but it’s downstairs,” he explained (I love his answer too but it’s…different from yours.)

And also recently, Fox News was looking for kids to participate in an election segment so I signed you up. They said they might ask you questions so to prepare I asked you what you think would make a good president. You said “Someone who stands up for freedom…” and I immediately melted because yes, that is actually what we want in a president, but then you added “and tells moms and dads not to hit or kick their kids” and, um, I told you not to say that.

Look, you’re not perfect (as I type this you’re screaming “Jack, don’t touch my masterpiece!”) but you’re insanely close. I’m probably not supposed to say things like this but it’s because of you that there is a Jude. Jack is awesome, as I’ll tell him on his 3 year, one month and 11 day birthday a week from now, but remains an, um, spirited young man. You’re the easy one, from day one, and you make the not-as-easy-ones easier.

I’m also not supposed to say/do this but: I’m laying the groundwork to encourage you to not move far away when you grow up. If there’s one thing that I’ve realized since having kids it’s that being close to a helpful family is a gigantic bonus. I know how good we have it that your baba is over every single day, that your uncle Ronnie picks you up from school a few days a week and that your saba, safta and aunt Shishi fill in as needed. Beyond that, beyond the help, I want to tell you how amazing it is to spend your life near your family. I read this thing recently, by a guy named Tim Urban, about a different way of looking at the time you spend on things in your life. He writes:

I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.

Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.

When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. If I lay out the total days I’ll ever spend with each of my parents—assuming I’m as lucky as can be—this becomes starkly clear:

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

It’s a similar story with my two sisters. After living in a house with them for 10 and 13 years respectively, I now live across the country from both of them and spend maybe 15 days with each of them a year. Hopefully, that leaves us with about 15% of our total hangout time left.

The thing is, that’s not how things worked out in my life and I encourage you and your brothers to attempt the same. I spend more time with my mother today than ever before and while my brother and I had many after-school days and hung out plenty once I moved back to NYC after college, he now lives 3 blocks away (with his fiancée whom we all love and who is hopefully not reading this and thinking about moving back to Cincinnati), I see him daily and it’s beyond awesome. We see your aba’s side a lot too. Sundays during football season is spent on our couch with saba, safta, your aunt, both uncles. Your aunt Shishi moved to Brooklyn to be closer to us and drops by as often as she can. After Jude was born, your aba and I only went out twice sans-kids in the first two months and both times were with your uncle Ron. We have your cousins from Israel on our block now! We’re a close family and it’s helped by the fact that we’re geographically close. I will remind you often of how good it feels when you walk into your own home and there are family members already there. It’s everything.

I say I’m not supposed to say it because we’re supposed to encourage our kids to live their own lives, do their own thing, be free, apart from us. And I do, I will, but not forever. It’s all about family and that’s something I will tell you again and again in your life so that you know.

It’s funny that I direct this at you instead of your brothers. After all, there’s a Russian phrase about girls being forever and boys just being for a joyride (“Devochkih na fsigda, malchikih na prakat”). But your brothers come from a long line of mama’s boys on both sides and the truth is you seem so much like me that I think it will be you who will want to see the whole world and go experience everything and live far away. And I’ll encourage it, for awhile. I lived all over the place in my late teens and 20′s. But I will hope you’ll take the rest of my example and come home at the end of it so we can be together (and you can fulfill your baker/singer dreams). I love you, my girl.

Your first day of Kindergarten:

Your first lost tooth:

You are the best sister. These boys are so lucky.

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Jan 06 2016

I’m doing ok, thanks for asking

Published by Karol under Baby Life

It’s 6-weeks, and 1-day, since Jude was born and it seems like the right time to take stock of everything. Everything is…ok. I had a pretty rough first 6-weeks after Jack was born so I had buckled in to experience the same this time. After all, if I found going from one child to two so difficult, and I really had, then two to three must be even tougher.

And look, nothing is easy. Weeks 3, 4 and 5 have been particularly hard. Sadie and Jack both had a stomach bug with Jack being next-level sick that involved him screaming in pain night after night for about a week. Like when Sadie ruptured her eardrum and was the sickest she had ever been after Jack came home, this was the worst Jack has ever been. There was a lot of “why, G-d, why” in my life. And then for the last two nights, Jude has been having major gas pains, something I had never experienced with the other kids. I now understand the weird word applied only to babies: fussy. He was mad fussy. He was fussing at the top of his lungs. My husband, of course, happened to be away for this, I sweated through two radio phone interviews with Jude in my lap and miraculously not crying. Sadie and Jack were being particularly difficult, as we all endured a screaming baby, and I spent a lot of time yelling at them for which I now feel bad. My mom is my greatest help. She arrives at 7:30am everyday and deals with the insanity of the kids’ morning routine, lets me sleep, does my laundry. She’s unreal and I swear, kids, I’m going to be that grandma for your kids too so long as you don’t make the crazy mistake of leaving New York.

The truth is, I’m not entirely dying. I’m not struggling nearly as much as I was at this point the last time around. I didn’t sob through Jude’s bris, I haven’t been as hard on myself about my body (despite the fact that it hasn’t bounced back as quickly as with Jack) or about how much writing I’m not doing. People keep asking me how I’m “doing it all” and of course I don’t feel like I’m even doing-it-some but I don’t launch into explanations of what a loser I am because I’m not knocking out more columns or, hell, even brushing my hair everyday (I’m lying, I never brush my hair). Instead, I generally thank them for making me feel good for asking that and try to remember to go easy on myself.

And then I sing my theme song to myself. That’s right, I have a theme song. It’s the song “For Now” from the show Avenue Q. It’s about how things may be hard but they are only for now. I feel that acutely this time. This is our last child. Even when I was a mess 6 weeks after having Jack, I was pretty sure (ptu, ptu, touch wood) my future contained one more go-round at the sleepless, exhausting, nerves-frayed newborn stage. We wanted 3 kids and even when I put our chances at having that 3rd at 5% (lol) it was never zero percent. But we are done now, it’s zero percent, the family feels complete in a way it didn’t before, it feels really good. I focus on the fact that while everything gets so hard when sleep isn’t happening, it’s only for now. A year from now I won’t be nursing and I imagine there will be more sleep in my life. 5 years from now, all of my kids will be in school all day. So this time really is only for now, it’s only for now.

At least my theme song isn’t “It sucks to be me”.

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Feb 12 2015

Letters to Jack

Published by Karol under Letters to Jack

People, including, ahem, family keep asking me “is Jack turning 2 or 3?” I entirely understand why it’s confusing. That today is your 2nd birthday is perplexing. You’ve been here for years. Was there a life before Jack? Who could remember!

You arrived on the scene with a seemingly fully-formed personality. And that personality is…headstrong. You are super stubborn (“where does he get it?” your aba asks looking at me with a look that says he knows where you get it). The general thinking on children is if they want something that you don’t want to give them (a cookie, a toy in a store, fire) that a parent should distract the child with something else. There is no distracting you. When you focus on something it is with all of your being. You know what you want, you know what you don’t want and there is no in-between (thankfully you don’t want fire). It’s like that for clothes, it’s like that for food. Parenting lore says that you must continue to offer foods, even if the kid won’t eat them, because eventually they will. You won’t. You don’t even allow those foods on your plate. You won’t eat for days until you get your favorites (hummus, pickles, hot dogs, pizza and only sometimes pasta). You hate jeans, fleece, polyester, socks, hats and reserve your hottest hate for overalls. Sweatpants and a cotton t-shirt is the standard Jack uniform.

All of this is, of course, sometimes frustrating. But I think of you as this little force of nature, sure of your likes and dislikes, propelling through life confident in who you are. It’s kind of impressive.

I’ve covered your boyness before, you sleep with footballs, you enjoy dismantling things, people gasp (seriously!) when they see your impressive throwing skills at the park. It’s getting more pronounced all the time. Vrooooooom is your favorite sound. It’s all cars, trucks, trains, planes for you. But you have this great, mellow, affectionate side. Your favorite show right now is Daniel Tiger, a calm, sweet show. You watch it snuggled up to me on the couch. You recently saw me holding a friend’s baby. Instantly on guard, you rubbed your head against me like a purring cat. You’ll share your mama but only with your big sister and even then you enjoy disconnecting my hand from hers and taking it yourself.

Oh but your sister and you. You’re crazy about each other. I went into a store with her recently while your aba waited with a napping you in the car. When you woke up, he took you inside. You saw each other and ran into each other’s arms as if you hadn’t just been together in the car a half hour before. People in the story stopped to awww. You call her Buggy (pronounced “Bahgggggggy”) because we called her Sadiebug, then Bug, then Buggy and you took to it. You run around the house calling for her. You play together, you knock down towers she builds and she only says “Awwww, Jack!!!!!!” instead of beating you about the head like I would have done to my brother (sorry, Uncle Ronnie).

You got into nursery school (hurrah!). I’ve been here before and I know where this is going. First you’ll go for 2 half-days, then 5, then full-time, then you’ll be calling me weekly from college out of obligation. Sadie half-waved goodbye at me and never looked back. Maybe you will too. But I can’t help but hope you’ll be a little sadder to leave me than she was. She’s the first-born, the trailblazer, mature before her time. You’re my baby, my little boy, the one with the gooftastic smile (below), the one who still puts his head on my shoulder whenever he’s sad and runs toward me to kiss boo-boos when he falls (often). Recently, in one of those fast conversations that parents with limited amounts of time have, I said “ok, so now about Jack…” “Yes, Jack, I say keep him,” your aba said. Ok, let’s.

Happy birthday Jacky!

Some pictures of you:

You put together this outfit yourself and you were so proud of it, on a similar soccer theme but parts from two different pajamas:

That you allowed polyester, and a covering on your head, to wear this costume at Disney is a testamount to your Buzz Lightyear love:

This is a popular position in our house:

Your beloved Daniel Tiger cardigan:

Disney, Disney and more Disney (you really loved it and while it wasn’t the first choice trip of your aba and me, seeing you guys so happy made it almost, sort of, nearly worth it):

The long way home:

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Feb 05 2015

Letters to Sadie

Published by Karol under Letters to Sadie

Here’s a funny story, my almost 5 year old.

You’re so smart. You really are. You come up with the craziest things. Your memory is long and deep. Your teachers pull me aside and whisper about your brightness. I believe it.

Except…there’s one side of you that is just entirely up in the clouds. I don’t know what to call it. It’s not gullibility, exactly, though it sometimes plays out like that. It’s more than that. For example, you have never cared about what you’re wearing. You love being complimented on your clothing but you don’t have any favorites at all. If you closed your eyes and I asked you what you were wearing, you wouldn’t know. Because, lalalala. You also generally have no idea when people are being mean to you. You’re a champion defender of other people–heaven forfend someone is mean to someone else in your presence, you will tell on them so fast–but you generally have no idea when you’re the target.

But here’s the latest example. You saw a YouTube video of a girl being surprised with a trip to Disneyland. The girl cries tears of gratitude and her excitement is palpable. You loved it. So a few months ago after hemming and hawing and debating we booked a trip to Disneyworld. When it was a done deal I said “Sadie! We’re going to Disneyworld for your birthday!” And you said “NO! I want it to be a surprise like in the video!” Me: “O…..k. We’re NOT going to Disneyworld.” And you totally believed me! You didn’t ask about it again. (And two days later you said “I don’t think any of those princesses at Disneyworld are the real princesses.” Great.) I don’t think there’s any part of you that thinks we’re going to Disneyworld for your birthday. I’ve sold it to you, of course. We discuss what we’ll do when we go to Disneyworld…next year, when you’re 6. Sometimes you actually say “awww, I want to go now.” It’s amazing. My expectation is that when we tell you about the trip you’re going to say “but you said we’d go when I was 6!”

So…we’re going to Disneyworld. No 50-kid birthday party this year, just us 4 in the most, ahem, magical place on earth. It is the most planned trip of our lives. As you no doubt know, your father and I do things by the seat of our pants. Trips are planned a few days in advance, we never know what we’re doing on the weekends until the weekend is happening. But this has been hours, days, weeks of research, reservations, thought, expense.

There was a me before you. And that me knew many things for sure that turned out to be wrong. But going to Disneyworld takes that to new heights. The idea that I chose this, that there were places to visit all over the world but I picked a trip to Disneyworld would have been unfathomable to the old me. But the old me didn’t know you, didn’t know what it felt like to make you happy, to want to do that all the time.

You’re an incredible kid and you so deserve this.

Happy birthday. We love you, our little pootz-pootz.

(Jack arriving at your class birthday party.)

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Jan 24 2015

Writing elsewhere

Published by Karol under Uncategorized

About a month ago, I wrote an article for the NY Post about moms trying too hard to be perfect. The piece went on to be the most popular thing I’ve ever written and even beat out Kim Karashian’s butt picture for most popular story on the Post website.

I then had a piece in Time about the new trend of parents handing out goodie bags on airplanes to those seated next to their child. I think it’s a bad idea.

Finally, Sadie recently took the NYC Gifted & Talented test and it got me thinking how completely warped the whole system is and how it really needs changing. I wrote a piece about that in the Post.

Thanks for reading!

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Sep 17 2014

Letters to Sadie

Published by Karol under Letters to Sadie

Dear Sadie,

This might be hard to believe, but your mama isn’t perfect. I know, you’re surprised because I seem like I’ve got it all together, what with my sweatpants and Chinese food ordering, but no. And some days, I’m even less perfect than usual.

Yesterday was one of those days.

You started school two weeks ago. So of course, on day like 4, you got sick. Then Jack got sick. Then I got sick. I’m still sick. Because there are just no germs quite like kids-back-to-school-germs.

Yesterday it was pouring rain and Jack had his 18 month doctor visit even though he’s 19 months old (because, again, not perfect.) We had already canceled it once (hence his advanced age) so despite me being sick and exhausted, I drove him to the city to your doctor, held him while he got three shots and wailed, then drove back to Brooklyn. Your aba and I are trying to eat healthier (see previous post) so I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up food to cook for dinner, then went to pick you up from school. Jack was so excited to see you, he had been walking around the house calling for you all morning, that when he finally saw you in your classroom he ran right up to you and socked you in the face with the toy he was holding. Your nose started bleeding and you started screaming. It was dismissal time so it was already pretty chaotic but now you’re bleeding and crying, Jack is running around destroying the classroom, and it was a madhouse. We left after the blood stopped and you calmed down.

But not to go home, oh no, the day went on! I had signed you and Jack up for trial classes at a nearby kids place. Jack needs some classes in his life but I haven’t found the right one, like the ones I had liked so much when you were a baby. And you, I don’t know. You’re in school all day, I want to let you come home and veg out but I can’t help but feel that you would do well in an extra-curricular activity, that you sort of need it so after school doesn’t turn into 3 hours of TV watching. I’d prefer something like swimming for you, your baba wants you in ballet, your father thinks soccer, you want…violin. I don’t know yet but have to decide soon. The class you tried out was “Musical Theater” and you weren’t that into it (you tried karate the day before and like that a lot better. Your baba heartily opposes.) I dropped you at your class and took Jack to his, spent 45 minutes in a small, hot room with 17 children, 17 adults and 3 instructors singing “If you’re happy and you know it” and hoping Jack didn’t over-exuberantly kill any of the smaller kids.

When we finally got home, I just wanted to collapse and die. Did I mention I work during all of the above? Fuck (sorry) cooking dinner, fuck (sorry again) eating healthy, fuck (whatever) everything, I want a burger, with fries, delivered to my home. I started to order the food. You were handing me a book to read to you, then asking for water, singing some repetitive song, Jack was taking something apart as usual, and I kept snapping at both of you. GET AWAY FROM ME, I finally screamed at you when 10 minutes later I still hadn’t placed an order. You skipped away from me, unfazed.

A few minutes later you came back and said you had a surprise for me. I had finished the dinner order, I had calmed down, I felt bad for screaming at you. You held my hand and walked me over to the living room. You had cleaned up all the toys off the floor–the toys you hadn’t even played with yet, the toys Jack had been playing with all day. I just…who are you and how did I get so lucky? “I saw that you were mad, mama, and I wondered what a big girl would do to help you.” These are words my child said to me, at 4 years old, in real life, not in a movie. I don’t get how you exist. I hugged you so tight, you laughed and we collapsed on the couch together and you let me hold you that way for like 4 full minutes which might be a world record for you. Jack kept trying to get into our hug and the horrible, stressful, wet, annoying day melted away. I don’t know what I did to deserve you. I really, truly, really don’t.

You’re in Pre-k now (8:20-2:40! That crazy!) and it’s fairly traumatic for me. The house is so different without you all day. Poor Jack walks around like a lost puppy. I can’t believe your babyhood is over. I want to let you go, find, explore but I also want you right next to me at all times so it’s a tough balance. To soak in all of you, the day before you started school we went on a mama-Sadie day like we used to.

I took you to Alice’s Teacup, your favorite, where we had lunch with your friend Gabriel who you tell me you’re going to marry:

This is you guys holding hands while being sprinkled with fairy dust:

Then we went to the Dakota where you always hope to spot Yoko:

We stopped into Fix Beauty Bar for a manicure:

And then surprised you with a visit with your aba:

You could not be more adorable on your first day of school:

Or more excited to see your brother after school:

A few days later we had a family surprise party for your aba and aunt Shishi. You helped me frost the cake:

And then you helped them blow out the candles:

Things you enjoy include taking lots and lots of selfies with any available phone:

Snuggling with your brother until you hurt him or he hurts you, always with a lot of love:

Riding around on your scooter:

I end a lot of these letters to you and your brother with “I can’t wait to see how you turn out.” Truth is, I can totally wait. Let’s wait. I’m sure you’re going to be an amazing adult but I’m in no rush at all to get you there. I don’t need you to be the big girl cleaning up the living room to make mama happy. You can stay my little girl for awhile, I’m just fine with that.

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Jul 11 2014

4 Hour Body

Published by Karol under The body

When trying to be an interesting person, and, let’s face it, we all should try because it’s just too easy to slack off into mediocrity, we know that there are topics of conversation that are completely uninteresting to other people. Don’t talk about that weird dream you had last night. Or your acid trip in college. No one cares about the details of the traffic you got stuck in. Bad beats in poker. Don’t discuss what diet you’re on. Wait, what? Everyone wants to know everything about each other’s diet? That’s new.

It comes with age, I guess. G-d knows I never cared what wacky diet my friends were trying but as I got older I’d see a friend who lost weight and inevitably ask “how’d you do it?” And currently, I’m on my first ever diet-with-a-philosophy (ie: not just “eating right” but following a plan about which there is a book–which I have not read– and websites–which I’ve totally skimmed) of my life and when I mention it to people, usually with some degree of embarrassment, almost every single person has leaned in and asked to hear more. A number of people immediately joined me on my diet without knowing anything about it. My friend Meghan mentioned the diet to me a couple of years ago. The big thing I remembered about it years later is that there is a “cheat day” once a week where you’re encouraged to eat anything and everything you want. The other thing I remembered is I asked her why she was checking into the BBQ place Hill Country every morning and she said she was eating some crazy egg/meat breakfast dish that was ok on the diet and it all sounded very doable.

I am someone who has been overweight most of my life. Most of that time, I didn’t really notice. I was happy size 10-12 (and I know we’re not supposed to be validated by male attention and that whistles out of car windows get two days of hashtagged complaints on twitter and we’re not supposed to like when men like us but) men loved me. I had a big butt and big boobs and apparently those are features men in NYC seek in women. Again, I get that people feel bad about themselves despite outside attention but the top complaint I’ve heard from overweight people is that they feel invisible. I never felt like my weight got in the way of my social life whatsoever and, for better or worse, I wore whatever I wanted (I note this because my biggest complaint about my body right now is that clothes don’t fit me correctly).

I had back surgery in 2004 and rocketed to a size 14. That was the first time I remember thinking, huh, I’m not as in love with myself as usual. Yet, I didn’t do anything to try to lose it, just bought bigger clothes. It all came off 3 years later, in the summer of 2007, when in the darkest period of my life, unemployed and going through a break-up, I slept until 3pm everyday, woke up, went to a poker club where I’d order Chinese food as my one meal of the day, and play poker until morning. On nights I wasn’t playing poker, I drank. A lot. Depression works! I got together with my husband shortly after this period and on our wedding day I was a size 6, both of us in the shape of our lives. My friend Cora took a picture of us from behind and my ass in that shot is my main motivation for all subsequent dieting. Today I’m back in 10-12 land and so freaking miserable about it. I guess if I had never gotten to what I now see as my goal size (8) I wouldn’t hate myself as much. But knowing how much better I could look just kills me everyday. My wardrobe from those 6-8 glory days hangs in my closet taunting me. The silk white Prada dress I wore on our honeymoon. My favorite pair of jeans.

The real story of my body, since I’m laying it all out here, is that I’m not a big eater. I don’t make great choices in what I eat but quantity-wise I’ve had many people tell me I eat nowhere near enough. The biggest thing is that I don’t eat breakfast. I’m not hungry, at all, until about 3-4pm. I’m writing this right now on my “cheat day” and it’s noon and I’ve only had coffee. The diet mandates breakfast, which I’ve been forcing myself to have everyday, so I’m actually using my cheat day to *not eat*. The other thing is I don’t gain weight (back surgery and two pregnancies being the only 3 exceptions to this) nor do I lose it (other than when I’m at rock bottom in my life). I’m down 7 pounds right now in 17 days of doing 4 Hour Body and it’s downright surprising. I’ve been super strict about it, no drinking, no dessert, no bread, pasta, rice, though I have been eating dairy which 4HB prohibits. I just can’t cut out everything so I’ll accept slower weight loss and eating cheese. I miss fruit. I really miss bourbon.

I love food. I love booze. My husband and I are both really into it. I’ve written about it before. Trips revolve around where to eat. We’re on a huge bourbon kick. I get an email about S’mores macarons and I make a mental note. My husband comes home and reports there’s going to be a Smorgasburg Jr. near our house serving tacos in parathas. YES. And Deb from Smitten Kitchen tempts me daily with brownie ice cream sandwiches, pictures of cherries and introducing me to something called the Perfect Manhattan which is like a million times better than the Classic Manhattan I’ve been obsessed with all year. I don’t want to be the person who orders everything on the side, can’t end the day with a bourbon, never eats dessert. I hear a lot about how dieting is stupid and it’s important to make a “life change.” I’m under no illusion that what I’m doing is making a life change. I want to get to my happy size 8 place and then coast. I’ll even go work out at that point, something my brother harasses me to do everyday. I’m not trying to be skinny, I honestly never wanted to be. At size 8 I feel amazing. Sure, I’ll take my wedding size 6, and my ass looking like that, but 8 is where I belong. Once I get there it will all be about maintaining. So here I am, about 20 pounds to go to get to where I want to be, doing this so I can get back to being me.

If you’re interested in the 4 Hour Body diet, this is a great guideline/summary. If any of my friends want to do it with me, I do find it’s easier when there are others suffering (not really) alongside me.

7 responses so far

Jun 27 2014

Letters to Sadie and Jack

Oh hey guys. Yes, this is your first joint letter. What, did you think you’d get individual ones forever? I already call you by each other’s names–an odd tic that must develop in pregnancy since I’ve never accidentally called anyone by someone else’s name like 50 times a day yet every mom of siblings I know (including mine and including your aba’s) does this all the time–so you’re very quickly becoming one unit. My children. Two of them. Sadie&Jack.

Sadie&Jack, we moved to Brooklyn almost three months ago now. I usually write these letters on birthdays but it’s been a time of great change so I thought I’d check-in. There were two weeks between moving out of our city apartment and into our Brooklyn one where we were in-flux because our new place wasn’t ready and we had tenants coming into the city apt. We stayed at your saba and safta’s for a few days. Then at your uncle Ronnie’s for a week. Then at a hotel. Then back to saba and safta’s. Sadie, your reaction was pretty much eh, my mama is being really lax about my ice cream eating, we keep going to the carousel at this empty Long Island mall and I’ve watched more TV in these two weeks than I have in my life, not so bad!

Back to the mall for quarter rides? Ok!

Jack, your reaction was I will CRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY and let everyone know this injustice will not stand. No, I will not make the best of it. No, I don’t want anymore ice cream. I will suck vigorously on my pacifier (which previously had not left my crib but out here on the road there are no rules) all day, everyday. You’re not a child who likes a lot of change. We visited our new place a few days before we finally moved in and you were so excited to see your bed:

I mean, you guys are 4 and 1. Who knows what kind of people you will be! But it will be interesting to look back at the way you were as little kids and see if it holds up. Is Sadie going to be easy-going, Jack a lot more set in his ways? Jack notices everything, Sadie is kind of lalalala.

We finally moved in and it’s been pretty awesome. Sadie, you are constantly marveling at how quiet it is in Park Slope compared to the Upper West Side. There was construction outside of our UWS building that began *before* your aba and I started dating. Dating, an engagement, marriage and two kids later it’s still ongoing. You appreciate the silence here. You both have your own rooms now instead of sharing what most people across America would refer to as a medium-sized closet. Jack, you love the chalkboard walls in your rooms. Your art skills at 1 are approximately your sister’s at 4. Maybe you’ll be good at art! Or maybe she just won’t be.

Sadie, today is your first day of full-day camp. It will be the longest you have been away from me and not with family. You will take a school bus to get there (not on the first day, I’m driving you, you’re very upset about this, mom is so lame!). I understand that 8:15-4:15 (so far only for July because I think by August I will want you back home with me and I’m selfish) isn’t going to college but wow, I’ve been dreading it because after full-time camp comes full-time school and I’m not ready! I am having mixed results trying to adjust to you growing up. On one hand, the older you get the more amazing our conversations become. We had two months of me driving you from Brooklyn to your UWS school everyday to finish out the year. You are a whirlwind of questions (“what’s that bridge?”, “what does ‘context’ mean?” “how come the people who celebrate Christmas don’t also celebrate Hannukah?” “Is G-d here right now? But where exactly?”) and ideas. You told me of your plan to marry a boy in your class. You’ll be a baker, he’ll be a stay-at-home-dad. You’ll live in Park Slope in an apartment with a balcony. You’ll have three kids. The drives were during the peak of Frozen-mania and we’d sing Let it go, Do you want to build a snowman, In summer and my personal favorite Reindeers are better than people the whole way until the last few weeks when you said “mama, can I just sing it by myself?” Mean! You are so freaking smart. Your teachers told us you’re gifted in math and you just want to know everything about everything.

But, I linger in stores by the baby girl clothes and remember you at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months. You were amazing then and you’re amazing now but you’re not a baby anymore and that’s hard to accept.

Jack, you are a nuzzling, loving, affectionate bundle of sweetness. Sometimes. Other times you are a destroyer of everything in your path. Sadie didn’t take on typical girl traits (such as liking pretty dresses, loving pink and purple, playing with dolls until she was over 2 years old). You were born a little boy. You’re seriously rough&tumble. If there is dirt, you are in it. If there’s a ball, you want to throw it. In a home filled with dolls and stuffed animals you located two footballs (one of them pink and the other one a promotional one with the NY Giants logo-YUCKY) at the bottom of one of your sister’s toy bins. You slept with those two footballs until your Dallas Cowboys-fan aba insisted his son get a non-pink football without yucky team logos. You frequently sleep with your full-size football cuddling it the way your sister hugs her stuffed bunny and bear. You love nothing more than puddles. “No, Jack, no!” remains a commonly heard phrase in our home.

On March 30th, I spent 22.5 hours with you. During the 1.5 hours when we were apart, you decided to walk. I’m not *bitter*, exactly, but what’s up with that? When kids start walking they do it kind of tentatively. There is nothing tentative about you. Under a week later, you were basically running.

You’re 16 months old and not talking that much yet. You’ve got a few words “hi”, “bye”, “hello” (you like greetings), etc. but you mostly like to point and grunt at stuff until we figure out what you want. I’ve been calling this upcoming time “the summer of Jack.” Like most second children, you’ve gotten the short end of the stick in terms of attention. We also say you’re not talking because your sister won’t let you get a word in. She speaks for you constantly “Jack doesn’t want that”, etc. With her at camp I plan to spend a lot of one-on-one time with you.

You’re both really into your family and we’re so lucky to have a close one. Eyes light up when baba, safta, aunt Shishi, uncles Ronnie and Ron arrive but Jack we need to talk about your obsession with your saba. I love your saba. He’s an incredible father, an incredible grandfather. But your fixation on your saba is truly baffling. You see him as often as the rest of the family. He is not the one feeding you or changing your diaper. But you love him like crazy to the exclusion of everyone else when he’s around which, let me tell you, doesn’t make you the most popular kid with the rest of the family. This is him trying to hang up with you on Facetime:

Get it together, kid!

The final thing I want to write about is how crazy you are about each other. Before you left for camp today, Sadie, you hugged Jack and told him “you’re going to miss me so much.” So far he’s taken the opportunity to watch Sesame Street (which you let him see in 3 minute doses normally before you flip back to Paw Patrol/Mickey Mouse/Sofia the First) and sit in your booster seat. But oh the love and affection between you two. If one of you is crying the other one is running over with arms open to hug them. I’m not foolish enough to believe you’ll never fight (just yesterday, in a fit of anger Sadie, you screamed “you hipster!” at Jack because it was the worst thing you could think of) but I hope you always stay as close as you are now. You’re both loved like crazy and you’re such happy children. My happy Sadie&Jack.

2 responses so far

Apr 29 2014

Conversations with Sadie

Published by Karol under Letters to Sadie

This was a few weeks ago and I immediately transcribed it in my iphone notes for posterity.

Me: And then next week it’s somebody’s birthday who is very, very important to you.
Sadie: Myself?
Me: Nice try, your birthday is in Feb. Someone very close to you….
Me: Closer! Maybe someone who gave birth to you, I don’t know….
Sadie: Birth?
Me: You know, gave you life…
Sadie: Baba?
Me: No! Your best friend in the whole world!
Sadie: Sonya?
Me: No! The person who takes you to the park and to frozen yogurt and reads you books and drives you to school…
Sadie: You? We’re not best friends! Come on!
Me: Ouch.

2 responses so far

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