Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Olympics

I am sleep deprived. Why do they always have to put gymnastics on so late? In a twist of fate, our TiVo has decided to be as obedient as Charlotte, which means that at exactly the moment where Simone Biles is about to do her vault, it goes black and restarts the system. It turns out that when the TiVo system resets, it also stops recording whatever I asked it to record.  I have attempted to circumvent this problem by watching the live streaming from the NBC website, but apparently the NBC website is in cahoots with my TiVo, because every time the excitement is about to begin, it freezes up completely.

I love the Olympics.  I feel like my Grandma Sonia, who would repeat endlessly whatever inane comment came to mind at the moment while she watched TV.  For me, I cannot stop saying, "These people are incredible! I can't believe these bodies! This is unbelievable!" Every night.  Strangely, Eric has been spending a lot of time in the basement, away from the Olympics and me.

In addition to the continual astonishment, the Olympics are a way for me to measure time in 4 year increments.  4 years ago, I watched the summer Olympics with a fetal Charlotte swimming and flipping inside of me.  This summer, I get to watch the Olympics with my daughter on my lap, oohing and ahhing over the gymnastics just like I am.

As we watched, I commented to Charlotte that 4 years ago, she had been inside my uterus while I watched the Olympics.  After a quiet moment, she asked, "How did I get out of your uterus?"  I said, "Through my vagina."  After another quiet, longer moment, she said, "I don't think I want to have any babies."  I told her she has plenty of time to think about it, and that I kind of hope she will change her mind because I really want to be a grandma, but that ultimately, it will be her choice.

The kids are all watching with me, when they can- it is a special treat for good listeners to stay up late and watch Olympics with mommy.  They ask me would I be proud of them if they went to the Olympics- of course!

Charlotte thinks she can do half the things the gymnasts can do, but when she gets up to try them, she finds out she can't.  I told her- "Practice, practice, practice!" and then I see her try her skills and hear her say to herself, "practice, practice, practice!" She's signed up for gymnastics for the fall, and I keep asking her if she is going to be the next Simone Biles- she says yes. So look out for Charlotte in 2028 or 2032!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cat Party

The kids came home from camp singing this catchy and completely annoying song, "Pop See Ko."  Of course I needed to educate myself about the song, so looked it up on YouTube, began to watch, and went down the rabbit hole. Linked to that video of two very strange-looking men dancing very badly to a nonsense song were more videos of the two very strange-looking men dancing very badly to other nonsense songs. These include "Milkshake," "Rollercoaster," and most importantly for us, "Cat Party."

First, let me say that I am a HUGE fan of bad dancing. Nothing makes me happier than bad dancing.  I LOVE to dance badly, even to nonsense songs.

Second, we LOVE cats.  Charlotte and I have a whole routine where we pretend to be cats. We own two live cats. And Charlotte collects stuffed animal cats, including her best friends White Kitty and Black-and-White Kitty.

Last night, right before bedtime, we watched "Cat Party."  The two strange men talk to pictures of cat heads (the cats are wearing party hats) with made up funny names (Esmerelda, Boris) and ask them about a cat party.  Then the chorus goes, "We are going to have a cat party. We're gonna have a cat paaaarty. We are gonna have a cat party, so bring your cat and something to share!"  I'm not joking, that is it.

About an hour and a half after bedtime last night, Asher woke up crying and said, "I wanna have a cat party! A cat party!" I assured him we would talk about it in the morning, and put him back in bed.  Two minutes later he was up again, crying that he "didn't like the cat game!" Again, I put him back in bed and said we would talk in the morning.

This morning at breakfast, Asher had no recollection of what had happened, but we all shared a good laugh, and then began to discuss our Cat Party.  First, the guest list:
Trouble, Peanut (our cats)
Max, Ian (my parents' cats)
Minky (my sister's cat)
Thor (the neighbor's cat)
The two kittens my sister picked up by the side of the road in West Virginia and who are now living somewhere nearby
NOT Muffin (my aunt and uncle's cat)
NOT Mean Kitty (aka Sophie, Eric's parents' cat)

Throughout the day, the conversation continued.  The kids decided that the cats at the party should definitely also wear hats like the cats in the video.

Next, the menu:
Cat food from a can
Mouse popsicles
Chicken liver ice cream

What the kids don't know is that Eric and I offered to foster two kittens, starting tomorrow.  So there might really be a Cat Party at our house.  I will keep you posted.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Travel

I do love to travel, and it seems summer is the best time for it. There are few things I look forward to as much as packing the van full to the brim, piling in the family, and setting off for an adventure.  Eric and I sit up front and talk for hours, or listen to podcasts, or music, or just drive while the other one sleeps. The kids are accustomed to car trips and know what to do, whether it is bringing books, watching movies on the DVD player, or looking out the window.  It is especially wonderful when they are asleep, though.

So far this summer, Eric and I have taken 2 plane trips- one to Galveston, TX for my friend Kelly's wedding, and one to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a conference.  Two trips a month apart is a pretty big deal for us, considering we went years without travel together.
Hazy morning sun over the Seawall in Galveston
It completely changes the dynamic to be away from the kids- we do what we want, when we want. We talk a lot to grownups, and we try to sleep late but don't always succeed.  I find that when we travel just the two of us, I get very anxious. I am anxious leading up to the trip, trying to make sure that I arrange everything the kids might need while we are gone.  While we were in Galveston, Eric's parents stayed at our place, and I had to make sure they had addresses for everything since they're not as familiar with our area. Then I stress about travel. Then I feel sad that we aren't with the kids.  Why can't I just let myself relax?

On our second trip away, to Puerto Rico, I actually did relax, and we had such a great time. We were in San Juan for a conference I attended, and I spent 2 days in seminars and at lunches, but we had plenty of time to relax and socialize. We got so distracted by enjoying ourselves one day that we forgot to call the kids!  Somehow we all survived.
Practicing our relaxation skills by the pool
On one of our fun days, Eric and I walked into Old San Juan from our hotel (2 miles). It was really hot and humid and I got completely soaked with sweat! But, it was exercise.
In Old San Juan 
The view from Castillo San Cristobal 
Selfie at San Cristobal
The cafe where we had coffee and I had Mallorca bread with guava butter that I still dream about
One day, while I was in the conference, Eric rented a bike and rode around town by himself.
 We socialized with old classmates and colleagues of mine, went out to dinner, had drinks at the swim up bar, went in the hot tub... It was amazing. The whole thing felt like a dream!

 One weekend at home, and then it was off to Washington, DC for my cousin Jess's wedding.  There was much to do about who would be attending the wedding- originally I planned to go alone with my parents, then Asher asked to come, then Benjamin asked to come, then it seemed silly for Eric and Charlotte not to come... There was a lot of rearranging of plans, and I rode down on Friday afternoon with my parents and the boys.  It was perfect weather and we got to take a walk in DC before we dropped the boys at my cousin's with a sitter and Elana and I went out to dinner.
3 across in my dad's car. My back was killing me!
Stoop sitting on a summer evening,
 My sister and I got to go for a run on Saturday morning while my parents took the boys to a playground and Eric and Charlotte drove down. We jogged past the White House, but I am a bad selfie taker so you can barely see it behind us.
See it?
Eric and I attended the wedding on Saturday night, and then we all headed back as a family on Sunday, in time for the boys to get to a birthday party at an ice skating rink.

Just a few days after we got home, we packed up the van again and took off for Maine!  This past weekend, I took Charlotte and Asher to New York City for the day, but other than that we have been at home, and we will be here until we end our summer with our trip to Cape Cod.
Asher on the balcony with the Empire State Building behind him. Eric's response was "Don't let him get too close to the edge!"
At a splash park in a bathing suit I bought at Old Navy in NYC. She now thinks she is fancy because she has a bathing suit from New York, even if I could have bought the same one 1 mile away from our house.
In a taxi. Hate that we have no car seats, but comforted by the fact that we go a max of 5 mph.
Me cooling off at the splash park

We are lucky, because the kids are adaptable and get excited about travel just as much as I do.  In DC they slept on air mattresses in my sister's room; in Maine the boys shared a bed and Charlotte slept on an air mattress in the closet.  They sleep well wherever we go, and are always curious to see new things.  I get a thrill out of exposing them to the world and seeing them interact with it.  Their joy is infectious and lets me be a kid again.  They were just as happy to be left at home with their grandparents the weekends we were away, and seem to barely miss us.  I'm sure a great deal of it is their temperament, but I can't help but feel as though Eric and I have done something right to have our three well-attached children.

Summer is half-over, but we've traveled the coast, and enjoyed ourselves here at home.  More summer pictures to come- we have been busy here, too.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer trip to Maine

We are back from our trip to visit Eric's parents.  Eric and I couldn't decide on the best time to go- around July 4th when there are many events happening, or in August after the kids are out of camp.  We picked July, since I wouldn't miss much work (I took one day off), and we knew the kids would be happy to go to the 4th of July events in Maine.

Our trip was one of the best yet!  We drove up after I got home from work on Wednesday, leaving our house at 6:30. We had the smoothest drive we've ever had and pulled into the driveway at Eric's parents' house at 1 am. The kids were exhausted from camp and slept almost the whole way, so Eric and I had hours of adult conversation, adult podcasts, and Eric napped. When we got there, the kids went to bed with no problems, and Eric and I jumped in bed ourselves.  We managed to sleep until 9 the next day, and when I got up, Eric's mom asked me where Charlotte was. I thought Charlotte was with her... turned out, Charlotte had slept until 9, too!  She woke up with a smile after all that rest.

 We spent our first day there taking it easy- I went for a run, we swam in the pool, Asher napped, and then friends and family joined us for swimming and dinner. Eric's mom's best friend has a daughter, Lisa, who is our age, who has a daughter of her own, Kaya, who is 6 weeks younger than Charlotte. They hadn't seen each other since they were 1, but became instant friends and had a great time together.
Taylor with Kaya and Charlotte in the pool 
Kaya and Charlotte after swimming
 On Friday, Eric's mom had bought us tickets to Funtown/Splashtown, an amusement park and water park in Saco, Maine. It was Eric, me, our 3 kids, Pat, and Eric's brother's 3 oldest kids. My niece Taylor couldn't wait for me to go on all the scary rollercoaster rides with her, so I made good on that. We had a great time!  Asher and Kiptyn decided they were brave and went on every ride they could.  It was a joy to get to share the excitement with my big boy!  Charlotte tried the log flume with Taylor and me, and her biggest complaint was that her dress got wet!
On the log flume. I can't look at Charlotte's face without laughing!
After a long morning of riding all the rides at the amusement park, we had some lunch and went over to the water park.  Again, Asher was eager to try everything, and we went on things over and over. Even Charlotte got brave and tried some water slides, with glee.  One slide we had to go on 5 times in a row!  Benjamin was more cautious and tried some smaller, slower rides, but we didn't push him to try anything he wasn't ready to do.
The cousins at the end of the day
Eric and Benjamin on the riding lawn mower
 On Saturday, we had plans for a day trip to White Lake in New Hampshire- all of our family, Eric's parents, and Eric's brother's family (and they have 6 kids!).  We packed our cars and hit the road. When we got there, it was extremely windy, and very cool. Compared to the air, the lake was warm, but I couldn't bring myself to get in.  It was absolutely beautiful there, with green mountains around us and the clear lake at our feet. The sand was soft.  It would have been the absolutely perfect spot if only it had been 10 degrees warmer and a little more sunny.
a panoramic that Eric took
Keeping warm with my cuddle bug
Charlotte playing with Chandler
With Taylor. She is a good 2 inches taller than I am, and she is 12!
Kerisa napping with Baby Serena
We left earlier than we thought we would since we were so cold, and went home in time for me to get in a run before dinner.

On Sunday, Eric and I took our kids to his grandparents' house on the pond, where we had stayed last July. The kids just love it there, fishing off the dock, going out in the canoe, splashing in the water. Next summer we will have to stay there again.  We got to see Eric's grandparents and Aunt Donna, and his cousin Mike and wife Missy.  
Canoe trip
Eric's mom made a big lunch for us that day, and the cousins all came over.  We had a big water balloon fight- the kids loved it!  
Water balloon fight begins
Sunday, July 3 was also our anniversary- 10 years! (I want to make another post about the anniversary).  For the most part, we didn't do anything special to celebrate, but I did pick up a bottle of Prosecco at Walmart, and Eric and I toasted to our anniversary at dinner time, using his parents' toasting glasses from their wedding in 1974.  As we poured the Prosecco and posed for our picture, we heard from the back bathroom,
"Come wipe my tushie!" Charlotte was on the toilet.  We had a good laugh at the way things are 10 years into marriage.  I don't think either one of us would have it any other way.
Asher holding his cousin Serena
We also made an attempt to capture all 9 grandchildren in one photo:
Dawson (4), Chandler (2), Kiptyn (6) holding Serena (7 months), Myah (10) holding Charlotte (3),
Benjamin (6) and Asher (6) on Taylor's (12) lap.  WOW!
 Then, we went to the fireworks in town.  Perfect weather, and we got a spot a fair distance from where thy were set off, but with a good view.  Eric's brother Ryan's ice cream shop had a tent and was dishing up ice cream, so everyone got ice cream while we waited.  The kids enjoyed the show, and the fact that we weren't right next to the explosions helped them tolerate the sound.

How old is she? 
 The following day was the 4th, another day of perfect weather.  We packed up the car and went to the 4th of July parade in town.  The kids got a thrill out of getting candy thrown at them, and they collected huge bags of treats.

Asher with his Pepere and Memere
Asher, Kiptyn, and Pepere
My 3 watching the parade and an antique fire truck
Memere holding Serena 
Waiting for more candy
From the parade, we hit the road. The ride home wasn't nearly as pleasurable as the ride up.  We were rushing home to try to make it to our local fireworks with friends, but what had been a cloudless and warm day in Maine was overcast and rainy at home. We had dinner with my mom, and then put the kids in bed without fireworks. The kids were exhausted from a jam-packed trip of excitement and new experiences.  We've been home almost a week, and they are still telling me that they wish they were back in Maine. I do wish we weren't so far, but it certainly was a treat to go.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Charlotte: 3 1/2 years old

Hello Kitty hat on my kitty girl
Poor Baby #3, just doesn't get the attention her brothers got when they turned 3.5!

Here is my girl at 3 1/2:
Sweet and exasperating. Very verbal. Funny, energetic.

Charlotte has strong opinions- especially when it comes to picking her own clothes. She likes to pick out her outfits everyday, and gets prety angry when I choose something for her that is "not-so-beautiful."  All clothing is divided into "beautiful" and "not-so-beautiful" categories.  My work dresses (particularly one which has sailboats on it) are beautiful; my running clothes are not-so-beautiful.  Right now she prefers to wear only dresses, even if they aren't functional for all of the climbing and playing she does.
Charlotte in a beautiful outfit of her choosing
Charlotte is strong and agile.  She started ballet in the fall, at her request, and as the year went on, she seemed less interested. It didn't help that Meema (who took Charlotte to dance on Wednesdays while I went to work) wasn't one to urge her to dance when she didn't want to.  They were practicing for their big recital, and according to Meema, Charlotte almost never participated.  At one point, each girl was told to do a "solo." For the other girls, they did a little twirl or dance step... when the attention turned to Charlotte, she dropped on all fours and started meowing.  Maybe she's not cut out for ballet... Ultimately, 3 weeks before the recital in May, Charlotte dropped out of dance for good. I then immediately signed her up for gymnastics, which she loved and attended each week without fail.
Beautiful dress, strong girl
Now that it is summer, Charlotte is having a great time swimming.  She doesn't know how to actually swim, but she is careful and doesn't push her limits. This doesn't mean we ignore her in the water, but she is ready to learn- and I am hopeful that camp gives her a push in the right direction!

Charlotte is verbal and friendly. She just started beginning all of her sentences by saying, "Well...", which has brought me to the realization that I, too, begin many of my sentences with "Well..." or "So," and which is annoying.  Whenever we go anywhere, she goes right up to people, says hello, and begins to disclose irrelevant personal information. I wonder where that comes from...

She remains attached to her Black-and-White Kitty, and her Gray Kitty (used to be White Kitty, but has since had a color change due to years of love from Charlotte). Other stuffed friends come and go, and she shares with her brothers an interest in Beanie Boos. She has 2 Beanie Boo cats- Sophie Kitty and Becca Kitty- and a Beanie Boo raccoon- Raccoonie.

She had a brief obsession with my airplane pillow and asked to sleep with it at night. Until one night she was up way past bedtime and excitedly told Eric that the pillow was "like a gway wainbow!" This was going too far and Eric took the pillow away from her.  She is a pro at bedtime nonsense- luckily I never mind giving her one extra kiss.
With an airplane pillow
Charlotte still sucks her thumb when she is going to sleep, or when she is tired.  She's a good sleeper, but has given up naps at least 50% of the time.  This summer she'll go without naps while at camp, and we'll see how it goes!

She loves to watch YouTube videos of people playing with toys.  She always starts by watching DCTC (Disney Cars Toys Club) and then gets into who-knows-what on there. It is a great way for me to take a shower, cook, clean, etc., and she remains paralyzed while watching.

Her favorite books are anything that has a cat in it- Bad Kitty; Naughty Kitty; Kittens, Kittens, Kittens!  She and I play a game where we meow at each other and she talks in a baby voice and calls me "Mommy Kitty" and I talk in a baby voice and call her "Baby Kitty."  Her obsession with cats knows no bounds.
at the zoo
Like any 3 year-old, she has become more picky with food. She prefers carbs, like her older brother, but will still eat from all of the major food groups.  Yesterday we finished leftover scrambled eggs, which were cold, and she told me she liked them cold better, and could I please make them cold everyday?  Sometimes she likes fruit, and sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes she eats and sometimes she doesn't.  She is definitely getting taller (39" now!) and is healthy and energetic, so I do all I can to keep from fighting with her over food.

3 1/2 years in, and not a day goes by where I don't marvel at my girl.  I still can't believe our good fortune at having her in our lives- it is such a joy to have a smart, strong-willed daughter. I hope her independence and opinionated personality continues on into adulthood. She is beyond my wildest dreams!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last Day of School

We have reached the end of another successful school year. Charlotte finished her year in Miss Marianne's 3 year-old class on June 2, and the boys finished kindergarten yesterday.

Charlotte's class had only 10 kids in it, and all of them seemed to get along well, and got very close. She was friendly with everyone in her class, and has been invited to many birthday parties and had play dates outside of school. Her teachers were both sweet and kind and took good care of her all year long. Although she always claimed she learned "nuffin" at school, I hear her singing songs I've never taught her, and she knows all her letters and numbers.  She's such a goofball.
With Miss Marianne. She was pretending to be shy

With Miss Jen. Still shy.
 The boys finishing kindergarten felt more momentous to me. It was, overall, a wonderful year. Benjamin is 100% reading, and Asher isn't too far behind. This means that text messages are no longer private, and spelling things to Eric doesn't work. Unfortunately, Eric learned German as a second language and I learned French, so we are out of ways to keep secrets!  Both boys seem to have a grasp of math and problem-solving. Today Eric bought them workbooks so that they could keep up with reading and math over the summer and they sat down to work right away. So far, they have maintained a curiosity and love of learning, which is what makes kindergarten successful to me!
the one half-decent picture I could get
Benjamin with Mrs. Damico. Behind those glasses he is crying.
Both boys made friends and liked their teachers. Benjamin was crying when I picked him up from school- just like me, he hates change and struggles around transitions. This year, the struggle manifested in a minor case of kleptomania (a pencil, an eraser, too many prizes at the dentist's office). He gets very attached to his teacher and routines.
Asher and Ms. Guidetti 
Asher was a model student this year- no disciplinary action was taken at any point. The prior year, his teacher had suggested that I should be a homeroom parent to help his teacher understand Asher better.  It turns out that Asher needs no understanding- he was a joy to have in class and made no trouble at all.
Ms. Guidetti's class, or the portion of class who attended on the last day
This morning, I found this:
Asher had drawn it in a small notepad Ms. Guidetti had given him. So sweet.

Now on to summer- all 3 kids will be going to camp at Camp Magar. I realized that I will be child-free 5 mornings a week- a phenomenon I haven't experienced since before the boys were born. I have grand plans- organize the attic, wash and store my sweaters. We'll see how far I actually get!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend! We really didn't have much planned going into the weekend, and that was just fine. The summer weather has finally arrived, and all of a sudden it is over 80 degrees and humid, but we jumped right into our summer activities- we have been waiting for this!

The pool at the JCC opened on Thursday, so before it was time to pick the kids up, I went and swam laps. It was crazy to me that less than a week prior I had been wearing sweats, and then I was swimming. (I was taking a week off from running because I've been having trouble with my foot, which is still kind of bothering me, but that isn't nearly as fun to talk about.)
Modeling her summer gear

Friday the boys had a half day, so I picked them up and we went to picnic at the playground with a friend from school. Then we went home and I gave them a choice- watch an episode of Pokemon on Netflix, or take a nap and get to go swimming before dinner. They chose nap and swim! We got in a quick swim at the JCC before we went to meet my parents and Jane and Ed at Chanticleer, which is an old house with extensive gardens, and is our favorite summer picnic spot. It is so beautiful there, and the kids just run and play, so the adults can sit and talk. They love exploring the gardens and all the nooks and crannies on the property; there is a big, grassy hill and the kids roll or run down over and over. All three kids were happy and pleasant, and playful together. At the end of the night, I got the picture at the top of the post- completely spontaneous, just the three of them loving each other.

On Saturday, Eric went for a long bike ride, and I took the kids first to the playground and then to the swimming pool. Eric met us at the pool around lunch time. We were out in the sun for hours, and even though I had put sunscreen on everyone, we all got sunburned. Poor Asher has never had a burn before, I think he was surprised at how much it hurt! We had a friend over for dinner, and ice cream for dessert.

Sunday we went down to the beach for a day, just the 5 of us. We don't have a house, and all of our friends who do have houses seemed to have forgotten to invite us, so we picked a beach with easy access and public bathrooms, packed up lunches, and hit the road. 1.5 hours down and we were on the beach in the sun.
On the beach!
The waves weren't too big, and the boys were able to wade in and jump into and over them. Charlotte seemed to have gotten over her intense and hysterical fear of the ocean and let the waves get her feet and ankles. At the end of the day they were happily playing in the sand at the edge of the water, digging holes and making pools and rivers. Eric and I dragged them off the beach because we were tired, but we bribed them with the promise of ice cream. Charlotte was exhausted; she threw a fit in the car because the dress I had picked out for her wasn't "beautiful" enough, then she cried at ice cream because she wanted to eat TWO ice creams. We drove home and all the kids slept, and we got home in time for a quiet dinner just our family.

Today we had planned to pick strawberries, but it was raining when we woke up so we moved our plans indoors to the Franklin Institute. Benjamin has a fear of the planetarium there, so had some anxiety about going. Eric offered to let him stay home, so I went with just Asher and Charlotte.

Our day ended with hysterical laughs and giggles. We had dinner at a friend's house, and on the way home, our other friends were next to us at a stop light. Eric pretended that he was going to drag race our friend (we were in our Honda Odyssey minivan, so sporty) and had the car in neutral while he revved the engine... unfortunately, we were on a hill and slowly rolling back toward the car behind us. I told him to quit it, and that he was acting like an A-S-S. All three kids started spelling it out, asking, "What's A-S-S?" and I was thinking, great, they are going to go to school and spell it out and everyone will know where that came from... but then Benjamin, who has picked up reading, says, "It spells ASS! Ass! What's an ass?!?" and then all three kids were yelling "what's an ass, what's an ass?!?" and Eric and I couldn't stop laughing, which merely encouraged them. Wonderful parents. 

Charlotte requested that Eric take the side off her crib so it could be a toddler bed. She's been able to climb in and out with ease for a long time, but has slept so well in it as a crib that we never took the side off. Today she asked, and Eric complied. As a result, nap time was a disaster (there was no nap) and tonight when I took her upstairs to go to bed, I saw that she had placed her stuffed animals between the rails as if they were nap spectators, and removed her mattress so that it was at an angle to the floor. When we came in the room she hopped on to the mattress and said, "Look! It's a slide! WHEEEE!" and slid down to the floor. I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard, and I left Eric to do the disciplining. 

I know I say it all the time, but all three of my children are at such a fun stage. They are independent, smart, and funny; yet they still need me, love me, and give affection.  We are at the point where we are able to imagine all the adventures we will have soon- vacations, outings, books to read. So far so good with summer, I can't wait to see what the next 3 months will hold!