Archive for the ‘Tired is my middle name’ Category

The last year has felt like the world has been tilting wildly and weirdly, and often not in good ways.


The first six months were emotionally tortuous, as we applied to high schools for Miss M. Her brightness and quirkiness have not diminished over time, and her official Aspergers diagnosis from a couple of years ago was refreshed by a new round of professionals. There didn’t seem to be a school that suited her within commuting distance. Not having an answer to “where is she going for seventh grade?” as May 1, then June 1, rolled past was…stressful. As usual, I dealt with my stress by not sleeping much.

The school question was finally settled, then RESETTLED at a different place OMG LIFE ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? just in time to deal with the final birth pangs of her bat mitzvah. (Which was, admittedly, super great .)

Then the whole election debacle-slash-world-upside down. I still have a lot of anger about this, which spills over into things like discussing with Taxman in front of the kids why I shouldn’t call him a rapist in front of the kids but sexual assaulter is ok because he’s admitted it. Incoming president of the United States. I just. (For my utter bewilderment, see my Twitter feed.)

Also not a lot of sleeping happening in October and November. Because time zones, and who is driving this plane; are we crashing?

So when an acquaintance announced on Facebook that she was going to run an eight-week knitting for beginners class, I said please, please pick me!

Knitting was something my mom did, and my aunt. I have no idea where they learned – maybe their grandmother? (I certainly never saw MY grandmother with knitting needles in her hands, unless by knitting needles you mean cigarette or gin and tonic.) When I was old enough to have enough patience to learn (an early attempt had been quickly shelved), my brother was a baby and then a toddler. I think my mom, who worked full time, put away her own knitting for years.

As an adult, I’ve realized I have a ton of friends who knit, enough so that I felt I was really missing out on a generational experience.

So I’m learning now.

I’m not as terrible as I thought I’d be, although I’ve managed to break two sets of not-great circular needles.


But I’m being propped up, sometimes literally, by Miss M, the ringer I drive to knitting class. (The kids’ class didn’t fit with her schedule.) She’s a natural at this stuff, if a little overly ambitious, so has saved my ass many times with her nimble fingers and multiple crochet hooks. She can’t really keep up with the “bitch” element of the class (a lot about parent teacher meetings and planning bar mitzvahs), but she’s spot on with the “stitch” part.

So that’s a skill I’m hoping to take with me into 2017 and beyond. I’m seeing the beginning of how it becomes A Thing – beautiful yarns, complex patterns, different equipment, but at the same time a way to really turn off the world and concentrate on what’s literally directly in front of you.

I’ll be here with my in-house knitting coach, hoping to finish my hat before winter ends. (In the meantime, I had to buy myself fingerless gloves because we keep the house at like 60 degrees.)

PS This blog turned 11 today! Crazy.


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Hi! I’m still here!

My sanity is…debatable.

Miss M turned 12, and we had 120 people for dinner to celebrate.


Actually, it started last summer, when I said something incredibly stupid, like, “For the bat mitzvah, Miss M should make 12 pieces of art, then we should auction them off for charity at a gala dinner. We will make it nice enough to justify the grandparents schlepping over from America.”

And nobody with some sense thought to stop me and my gigantic mouth.

(System failure!)

So that’s pretty much what happened. Miss M learned her Torah portion and commentaries in-depth, created art pieces, wrote explanations of them in Hebrew and English, picked charities, and there you have it. EASY PEASY. (Hahaha, plus dozens of sleepless nights. And speeches!)

We of course hired an event planner because I still don’t know how to say “easel” in Hebrew, never mind having a clue where or how to rent ELEVEN of them for one night. She also herded us through a catering crisis and a billion other things.


My takeaway is that three detail-oriented people on one project makes for a beautifully micromanaged event, but if I never have to answer my phone or return a related email again I would be ok with that.

Anyway, it was a big enough thing that I had hair and makeup and wore heels. It was nice.


Then we squired our American visitors around for a few more days for some sightseeing in Jerusalem and Tzipori. Then we had a big Shabbat do (more food! more speeches!) at our synagogue and had 13 relatives over for meals.

Then I legit had jet lag, trying to recover. Did not matter that I hadn’t been on a plane – I needed midday naps and freezer meals to get through dinner.

I’m better now.


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Last week was trying for me in a lot of ways, mostly because AM was sick and kindly shared his germs with me. He gets very snuggly when he’s ill, and while I find this endearing, the fever and deep, rumbling chest cough were not appreciated. To add insult to injury, he got a pneumonia diagnosis and therefore got on some kickass antibiotics while I had “clear” lungs and muddled through on cough meds and fever reducers.

(There was also the night when I was so tired I took Tylenol PM and had a paradoxical reaction. And was even more tired the next day. Plus extremely bitter. But “one tired, bitter ema” does not have the same ring to it.)

So, to recap: sick, tired, sick-and-tired. Plus all the usual backtalk from the children, mess in the house, and, you know, life. (Taxman was around a lot, to make up for the times when I just could not leave the house, or drive Miss M to various scheduled appointments, but by Friday he hadn’t thrown in a load of wash either. Bought milk, yes; laundry, no.)

I felt crappy pretty much every afternoon, so in the mornings I tried to do the minimum I had to do for work. Sometimes with company hanging over my shoulder. Or dancing on the couch. Because why go to school when you can stay home and play Fruit Ninja on my phone? Or whine at me to play backgammon until I give in? Because the alternative — is not pretty.

Humans don’t eat their young.

I don’t know why I thought of this so suddenly last week. Perhaps because I’ve been reading a couple of books right now where mice are prominent (The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo and Intuition by Allegra Goodman); mice, of course, do sometimes eat their young.

But we are not rodents. We are in this kid-raising thing for the long haul. At first it’s all about how to keep them alive. When they are asleep at night we sigh in relief because we managed to keep them from harming themselves…sometimes with varying success rates.

We are past that stage. Honestly, we had it pretty easy (my toddler nephew is a climber; we never had to deal with that, or lock picking, toilet drinking, street running or other particularly hair-raising toddler things).

Now we are in the long muddle of making our children socially acceptable. Table manners, polite conversation–hell, any kind of two-way conversation–empathy, friend-navigating. It’s harder to score how you, the parents, are doing. The metrics are totally foggy.

  • What if other adults find them lovely but they don’t get invited for playdates?
  • What if they are happy to eat three kinds of raw vegetables but never salad?
  • What if they get great grades but collectively blitz through a box of carefully hoarded pencils from Target in 2 weeks? (Seriously, do they EAT them? Are they not children but beavers? Do beavers eat their young?)

I decided that this is part of why parents are so joyful at their kids’ big events. It means that other people find them socially acceptable and want to celebrate that too. It’s a big cosmic reward for not eating them.

Graduation –> Your kid earned a degree! They applied themselves! You probably only had to do 50% of the work/80% of the cajoling!
Good job –> Somebody else wants to PAY your child to work at something! Someone else is trusting them to be responsible! Let’s hope the job doesn’t entail putting laundry into a hamper!
Wedding –> You’ve been so successful at child-rearing that somebody else wants to live with your child on a permanent basis…and even finds some of your child’s qualities worthy of passing to a new generation. (We hope. Because how else will you exact your revenge?) Cute and breedable! Good job, parents!

This last part occurred to me because an Internet friend married off a child last month. She projects the picture of calm and happy level-headedness, but through some private messaging I know that some of her children have provided a few sleepless nights and therapy sessions in the past. But here she is, walking to the chuppah and sending off to be amazing grownups. So there is hope!

So, no, we won’t eat them. We’ll try to raise them right and turn them into real people. But if anyone would like to, say, borrow a 6-year-old who will play backgammon all day and night or an 8-year-old who is up on all kinds of 19th century diseases (yellow fever, cholera, scarlet fever), just, you know, give me a buzz.

NB: In the time that elapsed between me wanting to write this post (last Thursday) and actually writing it, I served a dinner everyone ate. It was teriyaki salmon and rice. Everyone had seconds. Civilization is coming faster than we think.

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Or perhaps it’s just my life.

I have a sink. It’s never empty. I just…have a problem doing dishes right away. Possibly because I have more interesting things to do–like figure out what I can download on my Miss M’s new Kindle. Or work for pay. Or I don’t want to stand up just then. Or there’s no hot water. (Hello, Israeli winter!) Or…I just don’t know.

I have been feeling overwhelmed, and I can’t put my finger on why.

We are all, thankfully, healthy. Life’s not perfect, but we are financially, emotionally, and physically ok.

I’ve been battling my old nemesis, insomnia, during the past few weeks. That’s certainly sucking the wind right out of my sails. When I do sleep, fitfully, I’ve been having really weird–though vaguely entertaining–dreams.

Like when I dreamed that we were at a highway rest stop and there was a vending machine that dispensed (seriously) live puppies with a handful of kibble. And before we could stop them, a group of tween boys pressed the buttons TWICE and then abandoned two puppies (one of whom had a gimpy leg!). Taxman rescued them, put them in the car with us, and we cancelled our Christmas (I KNOW!) plans in order to turn around and come home with them. Then we pulled up to my boss (?), who was standing on the sidewalk, and I said, “Want to hear about how we turned 1 dog into 3? I’ll tell you tomorrow over coffee–you take black, two sugars, right?” And my boss was Alicia Florrick. Played by Julianna Margulies. And when I woke up, I thought: “Weird…I’ve never even been to Chicago.”

This is why I don’t feel rested, I’m sure of it.

So, in conclusion, my subconscious and not-so-subconscious are conspiring to keep me exhausted and unable to keep my house clean. And how is YOUR winter vacation?

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No intro. Seriously.

  • Someone has replaced my sweet son with a changeling who is surly, rude, and obnoxious. And also partially insane. He woke me up at 5:30 this morning by kicking the walls in his room, then complaining that “It’s not fair that [Miss M] has her own room now.” The inverse of this is that he also has his own room. So the unfair part is…what?
  • (NB: I had also been up in the middle of the night tending to the other child and her questionable tummy.)
  • The weather, though beautiful, is confusing. It’s hot in the sun. And cool in the shade. And might rain, but probably not, but it poured in Herzliya and drizzled in Tel Aviv. How does one dress for that? (The answer, apparently, is the same as so many other weather-related quandaries: light layers. So how many weeks until we will lose a sweater?)
  • It was, however, amazing weather for fruit picking yesterday for Leket Israel, a volunteer organization that owns and harvests fruit orchards and vegetable fields (among other projects)–all the produce goes into food baskets for the needy.
  • Work. Just. I can’t even.
  • I made peanut butter & Nutella cookies for Shabbat and forgot to serve them. I wasn’t that happy with them to begin with because you couldn’t taste the Nutella all that much. So of course I ate like three dozen of them.
  • The cleaning fairies still have not found my house.
  • Oh…Miss M left her pencil case at home. There will be tears. Even if (as I assume will happen) someone loans her a pencil.
Off to find coffee. (Or, as I like to call it in friendly company: COFFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

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God, remember teething? Remember the cranky days, the fussy nights? The general unhappiness, fist-in-mouth, and sad baby noises? Remember nobody sleeping due to the unhappiness? For nights, nay weeks, on end?

The kids handled teething in different ways. AM was a “I want nothing in my mouth; it hurts!” specimen. Unfortunately, this meant that his comfort mechanisms (nursing and thumb-sucking) were unavailable to him. So we fed him a lot of baby ibuprofen and hoped he’d drop off to sleep.

Miss M was the opposite. She was a “you, my mother, will comfort me via your breasts all night, every night, until this tooth has pierced through my itty bitty gums.” And I did. Because NIGHT NURSING = LYING DOWN.

Now, all my hard work is disappearing. I can see it. In big gaping holes where her baby teeth were.

This morning Miss M lost a tooth while eating her cinnamon toast. “Ema, Abba, my tooth fell out!”

For those of you playing along that’s four in the past four weeks (yes, I know! it seems bizarre! but the dentist didn’t seem nearly as freaked out as I was) and eight in the past year or so.

While I silently rejoiced–because I can handle blood gushing (and ha! apparently I didn’t blog AM’s run-in with a table at age 3 that required 3 staples in his head) with no problem, but teeth wiggling around squicks me out–I also had a moment of “is this all there is????”

Because SO MANY NIGHTS OF TEETHING. (I think I might still be recovering.) And now they are all falling out PLUS we have to fork over money.

More parenting secrets nobody tells you.

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After an all-too brief respite, I am back to my insomniac ways.

Tossing and turning, exhausted, pressured to sleep because the morning and its duties are creeping into view.

As usual, I don’t know how to fix it. I can try to go to bed earlier, eating a small snack beforehand, being stricter about exercise. But I have a terrible time turning off my brain. The usual garbage floating around in there, punctuated by the occasional bathroom visit or night terror from the kids.

It is a solitary pursuit, sleep.

Trying to remember the position in which you awoke, so you’d have a decent chance of falling asleep. (I know, I know, everyone changes position over the course of the night. Let me hold on to my myths, ok?) Bargaining with your brain for a chance to solve all the problems tomorrow. But it is already IS tomorrow, which completely upends your plan. And of course the problems are not one-shot deals. They are more 3-5-10 year doodads.

The upside in all of this, of course, is that the name of the blog is still appropriate. Still safe! Could you imagine if I had months on end of solid sleep? I’d have to change every tag line associated with my life. I think I’m too far in to come up with a new identity.

Unless it were a superhero who reads a lot of books and never has to straighten the house…I could figure that one out in a jiffy.

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