My Bubbie 

My Bubbie was the toughest lady I knew. The quintessential “Working Girl”, she was always polished, put together, and professional. I remember visiting her at the fine jewelry counter of Jordan Marsh and admiring how everyone knew her and respected her tastes and opinions.  
She was my model for an outspoken woman. She taught me how to stand up for myself and have strong opinions. She was incredibly loyal and held her loved one’s to the highest of standards. She ran her household, and the rest of us, even Zayde had to follow her rules. And she thought we were all wonderful, absolutely perfect in our own way.
She taught me everything about being Jewish, not the religious piece but the cultural piece. How to love the food (the stuff only we could like): the borscht, and the salmon croquettes, the chopped liver, the herring, and the tongue (even the tongue). How to act like a mensch, how to put your family first, and how to have pride for your community.
I’m a lot like her. Not that I would have loved to admit it when I was younger; but I am. She was the original “tough broad,” a feminist before there were feminists. And every time I express my opinion, I’ll think of her.
Bub loved fiercely, and many of you were witness to this. I remember during my “vegetarian” phase she never neglected to let me know how annoyed she was by my big grandiose statement. She thought it was foolish and that I’d surely waste away. And, yet, every family meal and every time I came to visit,she had a big dish of kashi and varnishkes waiting for me. She wasn’t going to agree with me, but she certainly wasn’t going to let me starve. She loved me too much. 
But, when we finally gave her great-grandkids she had no problem sharing how she felt about them. Now she had no problem telling everyone about her heart. Xavier, Brielle, Jalen and Tahlia she told you every day how much she loved you, and how absolutely beautiful she thought you were. And in the last few years as her memory began to fade there was one thing that she never forgot. She remembered how much she loved each of us and told us all the time. 

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Why We Still Run

IMG_2433This year marks the 5th Annual Get Your Rear in Gear Race in Boston, and it marks the 5th year that the Bum Rushers are running in honor of Ed. That means that we’re celebrating the 5th year of being cancer free.  And that’s a wonderful thing!

A lot has happened in five years.  Days of fun and adventure and laughs.  And, none of that could have happened if it wasn’t for amazing medical care, tremendous screening devices, and a fair amount of luck.  Most importantly, we would not have had these five years, if Ed wasn’t dogmatic in his insistence that something was wrong with his body.  Colon cancer is often diagnosed too late; Ed would not take his symptoms lightly.  His diligence saved his life.

Every year we run the Get Your Rear in Gear – 5K, we raise awareness about colon cancer and we share our story.  With early diagnoses, colon cancer is treatable and curable.  The Boston Race raises funds for preventative and diagnostic care in our communities; so that no one has to suffer with this horrible disease.

We hope that you can join us this year on our team The Bum Rushers; or donate funds to our team and this important cause.  The race is on September 19th this year on Carson Beach in Southie.  Please join us!!  http://events.getyourrearingear.com/site/TR/2015Boston/General?team_id=29652&pg=team&fr_id=2741

Love,
Carrie, Edward, Xavier, & Jalen

Of note:

1) This year the race is much earlier in the season; we promise no snow this year.
2) Xavier and I will be running together again this year, we’re shooting for sub-30 minutes (the more you give the harder he’ll run)
3) Having won the trophy for “most funds raised” last year, Ed is shooting for a racing medal this year; the more of you that cheer him on, the faster he’ll run!

AMENDED: Dear Sons (What I Really Want for Mother’s Day)

One year later, and I love my boys more than ever.  And yet, again, I fear that they might miss the boat on Mother’s Day.  So to reiterate, and to amend, here’s what I really want for Mother’s Day

10334360_10202709480073133_776496951207363595_n (1)Dear Sons,

I love you sweet boys oh so very much.  And, although I’m sure, your father will force you to make a lovely half-assed card featuring monsters and lasers and a fair amount of poop, and your teacher will make you paint a frame and put a blurry picture of yourself in it, there are other things I want for Mother’s Day.  And, if you can’t pull that off, I kinda’ want a Magic Bullet (smoothies are hot right now).

Jalen made me a card more than a week ago that he poured his little heart into.  He said it was a pre-Mother’s Day Card and it had a girl and a bear walking into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Every day I appreciate my empathetic, thoughtful son.  Someone had to take after me.

My mother bought me my Magic Bullet, because she knows what it means to be a mother, and she knows that sometimes people don’t give you what you ask for.  And she knows that if a mother actually, specifically asks for something, she probably wants it very, very badly.

Last Mother’s Day, the boys worked very hard on making me a jewelry box and a necklace out of Lego’s and we went to the Arboreteum to see the lilacs, and it was a perfect day.  

Now onto the things I want this year…

  • I would like to spend one day in the car without you arguing about what you want to talk about.  You might actually have a pleasant conversation if you could just stop fighting about whether talking about Pokemon is annoying or not. (hint:  it is)

We’ve improved immensely on this front. But, now I have a new request.  Stop trying to piss each other off.  Stop pushing each other’s buttons.  Stop trying your damnedest to make the other one lose it.  The only one that’ll lose will be you (not an empty threat, I swear) 

  • You could admit that you actually love playing outside.  That you love baseball and soccer and playing at the playground.  That you’d prefer to be active then to sit in front of a screen rotting your brain.

After the worst winter on record, we’re finally enjoying the outside, breathing fresh air, and being active.  And this is why we live in New England, so that we can appreciate the weather when it’s great.

  • About those screens.  They are not that important.  They are not worth your anger, and your frustration and your general whiny-ness when you don’t get to play.  Playing electronics are not, and will never be, a priority in this family.  Give it up!

The games are harder, more violent, and generally cooler, but somehow the boys have finally, mostly, realized their screen limits.  And, they’ve finally wrapped their heads around the fact that I couldn’t give two Donkey Kongs about these games; leave that to their father.

  • In fact, please learn, that you will never get your way by whining.  You are 9 and 6.  We have never given in to your whining.  We never will.  It is not a functional way to communicate with us.  You will not win that fight.

Entitlement, Lack of Gratitude, and General Moodiness have taken the place of whiny.  I miss whiny…  

I would love for one day for someone  to say, “Thank you, Mom.” “We appreciate the effort that you expend on making us happy.” “What do you do what you want to do today?”  

  • Put your shoes on. Now.
  • For the love of god, clean yourself!  You are boys.  You smell.  You must shower, and brush your teeth, and comb your hair.

and pick out your own clothes, and tie your shoes, and clean up your room.  It stinks!

  • Ask your father.  He is sitting right next to you.  Watching hockey.  Do you not see him?  Do you have to walk up the stairs, storm into the bathroom, and ask me for apple juice?  Do you?

In fact, don’t even bother asking your father.  Get it yourself you lazy bums!

  • Now means NOW.

Really, I’m not screwing around.  I MEAN NOW!

  • We have a routine.  We do the same thing every single morning.  You need socks everyday; you need your backpack everyday; you need to strap in everyday.  Why can you not understand that?  And don’t ask me what we have.  We “have” the same things we always “have”.
  • Enough with the sarcasm.  I know you “learned it from watching me,” but my sarcasm is warranted, acceptable, and witty.  Yours is annoying.

Try to be less annoying.  I get that you’re developing your persona and playing with being a young man, but for the love of god, stop trying so hard.  You have plenty of time to grow into yourself and become a charming teenager, don’t rush it!!

  • You are not bored.  You keep saying that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
  • Keep your hands off of each other.  I know you need to be close to each other and the hours of passing each other in the halls is torture, but STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.
  • About that…. I know that it’s cool to say that your brother’s a pain. I know it’s not cool to spend every free moment at each other’s side.  I know that you don’t want to admit that your brother is your best friend.  But, he is.  And, he likely always will be.  Please stop saying you hate your brother.  You don’t.
  • Please take pictures with me.  Moms aren’t in enough pictures, moms always miss out on the photos.  Please let me have pictures with my sons; even if they’re goofy.

Thank you for becoming my selfie buddies.  Thanks for squashing together so that we all fit into the frame and hold on to our memories.

  • Never stop holding my hand.  Never grow to big to cuddle with your mom.  Just love me unconditionally; I promise to do the same.

Thanks for letting our relationship grow and change and develop as you do.  Thanks for watching movies with me and cuddling on the couch and playing in the snow with me.  You can grow as big as you’ll like but you’ll always be my little boys.

The Boy and His Stuffies

100_1396  When Xavier was three months old, we couldn’t get him to sleep.  Every time we put him down in his crib he would wail and scream.  In a moment of desperation, we placed a little stuffed monkey next to him, just barely touching his little arm, and he slept.  The next day we put him down again.  Same thing, he wailed; put the monkey next to him, he slept.  Thus started his special relationship with Mono.

We were strict about stuffed animals when the kids were babies.  They stayed in their rooms, they didn’t come downstairs, they didn’t leave the house except for sleepovers.  We didn’t want the kids to get too dependent on any certain possession.  We didn’t want to get stuck in a situation where we had to turn the car around because we left a stuffy at home.  Didn’t really matter though, the heart knows what it wants.

100_3832Throughout the years the relationships with the stuffies have changed, and they’ve become a part of the family.  Each animal has it’s own personality, some have theme songs, all have their quirks.  Mono is the leader and the dad; Burpy is a trouble maker but always has fun ideas; Brownie is the golden child; Rosalita is a girl but she can pack a punch; Swinger is fun because he’s a guy but he likes wearing girl clothes and his favorite color is pink.  Moo moo is a bit of a pig (even though he’s a cow) he eats garbage and never showers.

Ed and my relationship with the stuffies have changed too.  Ed has never liked the stuffed animals and finds the boys relationships with them slightly disturbing.  I find that the animals act out behavior that is unacceptable to me.  “Xavier, if Burpy doesn’t quiet down and change his voice, everyone will get grounded!!”  We talk about when enough is enough with the animals; and when they’re too “babyish” and not “manly” at all.

But, I can see that the role playing is important to the boys development.  They play out social interactions with the animals that are hard and confusing.  When Clut Clut gets too rambunctious, he needs to have a “time out” to pull himself together.  When Burpy is mean, the other animals don’t want to play with him.  And, it becomes a lesson on how different friends (monkey, cow, bat, monster, dog) can all get along and love each other unconditionally.

As the boys get older, I see them moving away from their stuffies.  The play is more grown up and a little more violent.  The guys still play “school” but now, they also play “animal wars”.  And, the stuffies are getting old.  Mono is starting to take a back seat, looking a little matted and worn.  The boys have gone to their grandparents, and forgotten their animals at home.

photo (6)They’re growing up, and real relationships are starting to take the place of these make believe lives.  They’ve practiced these interactions and are ready to try the real world.  And when it’s not easy, and things don’t go their way, they’ll always have their guys at home who love them no matter what.

Parenting’s a Crappy Gig

10334360_10202709480073133_776496951207363595_nLet me be the one to say it, because you know you’ve all been thinking it.  Parenting is a really shitty gig.

You go to a job interview, and they say, “You’ll be on call 24 hours a day, you’ll be expected to work overtime on the weekends, you’ll have full responsibility for every task and there’s rarely anyone to delegate to.  Your boss can be unreasonable, selfish, beligerant.  You’ll serve as director, secretary, bookkeeper, custodian, chauffeur, chef, and CEO.  And, by the way, this is a volunteer position, you won’t be paid a cent.”

And, I know….  You would never change it for the world, and you love those lil’ buggers, and it’s the worst job you’ll ever love.  And, that’s all bullshit.  You know this job blows chunks.

I love my kids.  Totally.  Unequivocally.  Madly.  And, I’m at the stage of their development when I really LIKE them too.  I have fun with them, we laugh a lot, and I legitimately enjoy their company.  It’s really not them, it’s the responsibility.

The soul crushing, overwhelming, absolute responsibility.  The worrying, and the second guessing, and the messiness of it.

As I sat on the toilet for a half an hour yesterday, holding my nine year old’s bloody nose, covered with rapidly drying red dots, as my six year old cleaned off the walls, I had a while to think about this (Yes Dad, I took him to the doctor.  He’s fine)  It’s an impossible task, with very little room for error.  And, there’s a million ways to mess it up.

You have to keep them clean, and fed, and well rested.  The have to be smart, and work hard, and be nice kids.  They can’t cuss, or fart, or pick their nose in public. They need to get to school on time, and like healthy foods, and play well with others. You need to deal with the strange rash on their head, and where their glasses are, and whether they are “happy.”  And, you have to look good doing it.

For the love of God, why didn’t anyone warn us!!  Quite simply, because if we truly understood, would we have agreed to bring these monsters into the world.  Or maybe I was warned and I chose to ignore them.  Hubris.  Pure hubris.

I’m sure of this.  Everyone,  every single last one of you, agrees with me.  Whether you choose to admit it or not.  Whether you smile through the muck, or cry through it, struggle every day, or knock it outta’ the park; it’s a shitty gig.

So, give the dad in the super market an understanding grin. Help that mom trying to drag the double stroller into the restaurant. Have patience with the parents struggling to feed their two toddlers in the crowded restaurant.  We’ve all been there, and we’ll all be there again.  Love your favorite parent today.

How to Survive a Home Renovation Without Killing Your Family With a Reciprocating Saw

10001097_10202549951485018_7592481946737956223_oWe’ve embarked upon the most major of home renovations.  Throughout our partnership with our 120 year old home, we’ve taken on some big projects.  A second floor renovation, replacing the entire front entrance, a  new fence.  I’ve suffered through crippling painter’s hand, putting a drill through my finger, getting a crow bar to the head.  All part and parcel to the loving renewal of our home.

But, now, we’re smack dab in the middle of the big one.  The Kitchen Renovation.  The pulling down walls, knocking down chimneys, and building it all back up again project.    The demolition was rough, but certainly satisfying.  Cleaning black dust out of my ears is never pleasant.  But, the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you knock down four floors of chimney is unparalleled.  And once the dust is cleaned up, and then cleaned up again, you get to see it all come back together.

Living through a major home renovation is a challenge.  But, good friends, take out pizza, and a late afternoon beer makes everything a little better.  Keeping two young boys busy and out of the way is not easy.  They’re used to big projects.  They’ve learned to take advantage of their freedom and independence while mom and dad are working.  And, they love helping out and watching the progress.

Our tight living conditions have been an adventure.   I could do without the plastic partitions separating our living area from the rest of the house.  But, it helps if we put it all in perspective.  These aren’t even “first world problems”, these are “house owner problems.”  A majority of the world lives with less than a quarter of what we have now.  Hell, most of the middle-class urban population of this planet would dream to have the space we have now.  And, Ed’s always wanted to have a New York City apartment.  You’re welcome, honey.

Someone, when learning of our temporary condition, said, “But how do you do the dishes!?!?!?”  What?  Without a dishwasher?  When your non-disposable dishes amount to four bowls, a spatula, a sauce pan, and a coffee mug, you make do with the bathroom sink.  My daily trip down the street to the storm drain to dump the uneaten cereal is entertaining the whole neighborhood.  And, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I did do the dishes while showering earlier this week (water preservation at it’s finest).

But, we could have worse problems.  Choosing between a white or a beige countertop does not an emergency make.  We’re taking one decision at a time.  First the faucets, and then the lighting, and then the tile.  It’s a lesson in compromise and learning what are priorities for each of us.  And we pick our battles.  We know what matters (dark grout) and what really doesn’t (the placement of every outlet).  And we realize that when you’re used to an oven that doesn’t stay lit and a fridge that freezes your milk, anything is an improvement.

What’s important is that we’re building a home for ourselves, our friends, and our family.  A place we’re we can do homework, and cook dinner together, and have dance parties.  Where we can entertain our friends and our children friends, where we can live a big, full vibrant life.  So, a few hours late at night cutting out ceiling with a reciprocating saw while everyone else is watching hockey is well worth the effort.

Can we do this without the fancy new kitchen, without the stainless steel appliances and tile backsplash? Absolutely.  But, we’ve worked hard with this in mind.  We’ve done a lot of DIY and saved all of our pennies, and this is part of the master plan.  Because, as I’ve always said, this is our Forever Home.  So, a little short term discomfort is well worth the long term pleasure.

More than half-way there and we’re starting to come into the home stretch.  The skeleton of our new kitchen is coming together. The walls will go up next week, the cabinets the week after, and then we’re almost there.  And, I think we’re going to make it.

Dear Sons, (what I really want for Mother’s Day)

1795623_10202264980800929_53883452_nDear Sons,

I love you sweet boys oh so very much.  And, although I’m sure, your father will force you to make a lovely half-assed card featuring monsters and lasers and a fair amount of poop, and your teacher will make you paint a frame and put a blurry picture of yourself in it, there are other things I want for Mother’s Day.  And, if you can’t pull that off, I kinda’ want a Magic Bullet (smoothies are hot right now).

  • I would like to spend one day in the car without you arguing about what you want to talk about.  You might actually have a pleasant conversation if you could just stop fighting about whether talking about Pokemon is annoying or not. (hint:  it is)
  • You could admit that you actually love playing outside.  That you love baseball and soccer and playing at the playground.  That you’d prefer to be active then to sit in front of a screen rotting your brain.
  • About those screens.  They are not that important.  They are not worth your anger, and your frustration and your general whiny-ness when you don’t get to play.  Playing electronics are not, and will never be, a priority in this family.  Give it up!
  • In fact, please learn, that you will never get your way by whining.  You are 9 and 6.  We have never given in to your whining.  We never will.  It is not a functional way to communicate with us.  You will not win that fight.
  • Put your shoes on. Now.
  • For the love of god, clean yourself!  You are boys.  You smell.  You must shower, and brush your teeth, and comb your hair.
  • Ask your father.  He is sitting right next to you.  Watching hockey.  Do you not see him?  Do you have to walk up the stairs, storm into the bathroom, and ask me for apple juice?  Do you?
  • Now means NOW.
  • We have a routine.  We do the same thing every single morning.  You need socks everyday; you need your backpack everyday; you need to strap in everyday.  Why can you not understand that?  And don’t ask me what we have.  We “have” the same things we always “have”.
  • Enough with the sarcasm.  I know you “learned it from watching me,” but my sarcasm is warranted, acceptable, and witty.  Yours is annoying.
  • You are not bored.  You keep saying that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
  • Please take pictures with me.  Moms aren’t in enough pictures, moms always miss out on the photos.  Please let me have pictures with my sons; even if they’re goofy.
  • Never stop holding my hand.  Never grow to big to cuddle with your mom.  Just love me unconditionally; I promise to do the same.