Friday, October 21, 2016

Catching up

I commented to Eric that I haven't posted in a while. He asked why.  I said, because there isn't anything to write about.  He suggested that I write about a little trip that we took last weekend. I know I used to write about our everyday activities all the time, and now I don't. I'm really not sure why, because I love to look back in my blog and remember what our lives were like at different points in time.

Here is what I have been doing in lieu of blogging:

  • Watching all 3 presidential debates
  • Watching episodes of Shameless on Netflix
  • Looking at Facebook
A constructive use of my time, if I do say so myself!  I have also been working some more hours- after a very sluggish summer, my private practice has continued to grow, so I am working two different jobs and running between the two of them, plus home. Plus I am a room parent in Benjamin's class this year.  And I am again preparing to run the Philly Half Marathon, at my usual "tortoise" pace.

Last weekend we took a trip to Virginia to see our friends and go to Cox Farms, which we did last year while the Pope was in Philadelphia.  This year, though, the boys had a full day of school, and we didn't get on the road until almost 4 pm on Friday.  Is anything worse than rush hour on a Friday? No.  the drive took us 3.5 hours!  Eric was glowering the whole way. 

Our friends had a hot and delicious dinner waiting for us, which was a warm welcome. We ate, put the kids in bed, and my friend Alissa and I sat and caught up while the husbands played video games and drank beer (their past time together since we all started dating our now-spouses back in 2004).  

In the morning we made pancakes (chocolate chip!) and packed up again in order to get to Cox Farms as soon as they opened.  Surprisingly, even with 5 kids between us, we did it! The day before, Charlotte had started to get hoarse and get a cough.  She said she felt fine and wanted to go, but once we were at the farm, she seemed to go downhill.  This definitely tempered our enjoyment, but we made the most of it.

Here is what we did in our time there before we fled with a lethargic Charlotte:
Family selfie on the hayride. Benjamin refused to look at the camera
  • Hayride through various randomly-themed (UFOs and former presidents, witches, Wild West Town, cartoon characters) areas
  • Big slides with burlap sacks

    Eric with Charlotte. She was fading fast.
    • Drank apple cider
    • Ate kettle corn
    • Corn maze
    • Various photo ops
    Possibly going on our holiday card!
    Asher flying on the rope swing
    We stopped for lunch and Charlotte refused to eat and just lay down with her head in Eric's lap.  We left pretty quickly and drove home. Charlotte napped and seemed a little better, but had started a low fever, so we didn't go to the birthday party she had been invited to, and then Eric and the boys went out to dinner while I stayed home with my sad girl.

    Sunday she wasn't much better, but she and Asher had their running series race that night, and I doped her up with Advil and took her.  She had a great race- she has finished 1st for 3 weeks in a row!  Then she fell apart and went to bed without dinner.
    The leader of the pack
    She STILL wasn't better on Monday, but her fever broke Monday night and she has improved every day since.  She's still a little hoarse, but is eating more and has more energy.

    And finally, a picture of Asher doing his homework while I cooked dinner on Monday night.  I fondly remember doing my homework at the kitchen table while my mom cooked, and now my own children are keeping me company while they do theirs.  Asher got his first homework assignment- a packet that he has all week to do- and sat down and did all of it immediately.  He and his teacher are two peas in a pod and I think he is in heaven this year!

    Friday, September 30, 2016

    Cat Party, continued

    The cat party as imagined never materialized.  Which, in a way, is good, because I didn't know how I was going to procure mouse popsicles.

    We did, however, take in 2 gray kittens to foster.  They came with the names "Taylor" and "Trudi" (which is funny because the kids have cousins named Taylor and Trudi), but we couldn't figure out which was which at any given point. We eventually settled into calling them Bitey and Snuggly, based on their behavior.

    They were quickly adored.  They tolerated the kids' affections, and at night when the kids were in bed, they would snuggle up with me on the couch while I watched the Olympics, and often snuggled with each other.
    evening snuggles
    Laundry snuggles
    Kindly tolerating affection
    More evening snuggles
    Find the real kitty!
    They became party of our family.  But of course we knew we couldn't keep them- 3 kids and 2 cats already puts me over the edge.  So my mom found them a home through her synagogue listserv, and one day the family came over to visit, and a couple of days later, they came back and took the kittens.  The house felt strangely quiet without them.  The worst was when Asher got home from camp and Eric told him the kittens were gone.  He broke down crying, sobbing that his heart was broken into pieces.  It broke my heart.  Then we agreed that the fostering thing wasn't such a good idea, because we all got so attached.

    Following the kittens' departure, we found out that our cats had fleas. (Ugh.)  Then we went to the Cape, and when we got home, Trouble was acting strangely- he wasn't spending time with us, didn't seem to be eating or drinking regularly.  After a week of this behavior, we took him to the vet, who found nothing wrong. Trouble improved almost instantly.  We think he was just depressed because we'd left him for so long.

    So we decided to devote our attentions to our own cats, who are boring now that they are old and sedentary and pee in our shower when they are mad at us.  That lasted until two weeks ago, when we broke down and agreed to foster a little kitten named Walnut.

    He wasn't quite as affectionate as Bitey and Snuggly, but he was sweet and super tiny and had a funny short tail.  He was also very energetic and would fly around the house and take everyone off guard.  Of course we grew to love him, too, and he would sit with me while I did laundry or on my chest in the evenings.  
    Helping me with laundry
    Then we found ear mites in Peanut, and he had to go to the vet.  So even though the cat fostering cost us nothing, we were out a few hundred in vet bills and vaccinations.  Not my favorite.  We decided Walnut needed a new home.

    On his last night with us, Walnut figured out how to climb up to our bed, and in the morning I woke up with him snuggled up to my back.  I went to work, and while I was at work and the kids were at school, a family came to meet him and they loved him so much that they took him.  We didn't get to say goodbye!

    When the kids got home, it was more hysteria, from Asher and Charlotte.  Big, fat tears.  Questions from Charlotte about why Walnut's forever home can't be with us.  I miss him, too.  Again we have agreed no more fostering- the cat party is certainly over for the time being!

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    Charlotte's 1st day of school + end of summer

    Excited to go to school. Picked out her own outfit!
     Charlotte had her first day of school on Tuesday the 13th. She is in Miss Tammy's 4 year-old class with many of her friends from the year before. We went to the open house the Friday before and she knew what was coming.  That morning, she cheered and ran to her brothers and said, "I'm going to school today!" She happily dressed herself in her pretty outfit, posed for photos, and then got in the car. Her school is about .5 miles away. As we drove, she got quiet and then said, "I'm worried.  What if no one in my class is happy to see me?" She kept feeling worried the rest of the way, and then cried when we got there. Oh, no! The first time she has cried on the first day of school.

    My sad, sweet pumpkin
    Fortunately, she was fine by the time Eric picked her up at noon. She told him, "I was sad for a little, and maybe I even cried, but then I decided not to be sad anymore, and I had a great day!"  Smart girl! She has been happy there every day since.

    In my usual make-summer-last-until-I-can't-pretend-anymore way, we have been doing as much as we can outside, even swimming, until we can't.

    First, we went apple-picking on a 90 degree day.  The Honeycrisps were ready and I didn't want to miss them!
    Hot, sweaty, and squinting into the sun
     Then, swimming- the last day for swimming at the JCC pool, and swimming at Jane and Ed's until the pool is too cold to be comfortable.  All 3 kids just love to swim, and they are all getting good at it.  I will really miss our swim outings this winter!
    Lunchtime swim at Jane & Ed's

    Last weekend I took Asher and Charlotte to Sesame Place for the last day of water rides.  They are both equally adventurous and we got to do a lot of rides twice.  Charlotte adores Asher, and he adores her.
    Love bugs
    Happy roller-coaster lovebugs
     In the past few weeks, Charlotte has developed all kinds of new skills. One- she can now pump her legs and swing herself on the swings without any help. On the one hand, I am thrilled at her strength and independence. On the other hand, the baby swing has come down from our swing set, and won't go back up.
    Swinging all by herself
    She has also suddenly begun coloring and drawing in a much more advanced way. Even a couple of months ago, all her drawings were what we called, "scribble scrabble." Then on Monday, this:
    A drawing of Mommy
    and coloring in the lines, with great pride at her attention to detail. My baby, growing up too fast, as usual.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    First Grade

    One week ago, the boys started first grade.  They are at the same school that they attended last year, but instead of going half-days each day, they now go from 9-3:30 each day.  They eat lunch at school, and have the option to buy lunch at the cafeteria if they would like.

    We wait all summer to hear who their teachers are- the school doesn't send emails until 5 pm on Friday the weekend before Labor Day.  All day long, I anxiously anticipated the email. 5 pm came, I checked my email, and only one email- no teacher for Benjamin! I panicked, because at 5 on Friday, there isn't anyone to ask.  Meanwhile, I was receiving nonstop texts from friends wanting to know which teachers the boys have to see if the boys will be with any of their friends.  I emailed the principal, assuming that I would hear back from him on Monday morning, but to my surprise, he emailed me about an hour later and said that the email system had a glitch and only sent one email per family.

    Asher's teacher this year is Mrs. Radbill, and Benjamin has Mrs. Lord.  I heard from another mom that they are the two "best" teachers in the 1st grade, whatever that means. I hope they are kind, patient, and loving. And I hope my boys continue to love learning and being with their friends.  Asher seems to like his teacher a lot because she is pretty. She has long, bleached blonde hair, is super skinny, and wears clothing that shows off her excellent body (not inappropriate, but it is clear she is in great shape!). My son is a lookist already.  I haven't met Mrs. Lord yet, but haven't heard a word of complaint from Benjamin.

    The boys also started Hebrew school on Sunday. This did not meet with rave reviews- they came home with "Ask me where God lives" on a sticker (Eric was thrilled, since he is an atheist). I asked them about it, and Asher answered, "We read a book, and God lives everywhere," and Benjamin said, "GOD LIVES NOWHERE."

    Benjamin hasn't seemed particularly pleased with 1st grade- he hates having homework every night, even though it takes him a total of 2 minutes to do, he hates being told what to do, and he says he isn't good at anything. He has enjoyed buying lunch, though.  I feel heartbroken when I think about his unhappiness, and I hope that it is temporary, and an adjustment to the new schedule and rules. He is so sweet and so smart, and for the past week he's been nothing but angry.

    I miss the boys when they are at school- for the first time, they're in school from 9-3:30, no lunches together, no afternoon play dates. It feels like a long stretch of a day without them.  I love my time with Charlotte, but I miss those big boys.
    With our neighbors after school

    Monday, September 5, 2016

    Cape Cod 2016

    We are back from our trip, and ready (or as ready as we're going to be) for the boys to start 1st grade.

    We had another wonderful trip, another vacation that left me sad it's over and eager for next year.  We started our trip by driving up to Eric's parents' on Thursday night. I am always excited for vacation to start, and want to get out of town as soon as possible! So we took off at the first possible moment and went to Maine.  Our last trip to Maine was easy- this one, not so much. Although we left 1.5 hours earlier than we had on our last trip up, we arrived at the same time. I drive Eric nuts because I constantly check Google maps for detours and ways to save time, no matter how convoluted the route.

    Friday we just took it easy at Eric's parents' house- we had planned to go to the beach, but it rained in the morning so we changed our plans. We went in the pool, their cousins came for lunch, and then we packed up a picnic dinner and went to the beach for dinner.
    Memere puts a braid in Charlotte's hair 
    Benjamin asked me to take his picture 
    Charlotte pretending to sleep 
    Asher & me
    Benjamin asked me to take his picture again
    After dinner and playing on the beach, we made an important stop at Uncle Ryan's ice cream shop. We picked up 5 quarts to take to the Cape because we like it better than anything we get there.

    We couldn't decide what time we would leave for the Cape on Saturday, but when we woke up, the kids were begging to get to the Cape as soon as possible, so we packed up and left. There was more traffic, but we made it in time for a late lunch by the bay. Then, since my parents and sister (and her boyfriend) were not going to arrive until about 6, we went to the beach and got in the ocean!
    Finally made it to our favorite place! 
    One of my other favorite places...
     We didn't really get in a rhythm the same way we have other years- the weather was inconsistent, and so were the kids' (especially Charlotte's) moods.  We did go to the beach, and the first couple of days had good waves there. We also went to the pond, of course. Benjamin spent almost all his time at the pond building a series of canals that he checked on and improved everyday we were there.

    We continued with many traditions- a lobster dinner by the bay, a grown-up's night out at a nicer restaurant, ice cream whenever we could, and Papa Nick going out for donuts and newspapers with his grandchildren.
    Attempt at a family picture. This one won't be going on our holiday card.
     We also did some new things- at their request, I took Asher and Charlotte on a whale watch from Provincetown.  Memorial Day weekend, we saw an IMAX movie about whales, and Charlotte has been talking about them ever since, so out we went.  The weather was gorgeous and the sailing was smooth.
    Asher and mommy
    Charlotte and mommy
    I guess it was kind of sunny...
    And, good news! Lots of whales. First finback whales, and then humpback whales.  Charlotte was so enthusiastic, with lots of oohs and ahhs of excitement.  I love seeing the kids get excited and see the world in a new way.
    Whale's tail

    Whale spotting

    Benjamin at ice cream
    One evening, my parents took us all to see a kids' play- Puss in Boots, part II.  As I told my sister, the plot was convoluted and hard to follow, but the kids enjoyed it and laughed throughout.  I think the grownups enjoyed it, too! We might have started a new tradition.
    Before the play
     On Thursday, it rained. When the weather forecast that earlier in the week, I scheduled back-to-school haircuts for the boys in the morning. We went from there to the Cape Cod potato chip factory, where the tour is free, but ends in a room full of potato chips and popcorn, so ended up costing us a little more.
    After the tour. No pictures inside.
     It rained all day Thursday. I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but I hate when it rains on beach vacation!

    Friday started sunny, and we went to the beach. The waves were too rough for us to swim, but we played in the sand for a while, until we noticed a little unrest on the beach. A plane kept circling overhead, and a boat appeared in the ocean and hovered close to shore.
    The plane circling around
    Then it became clear- SHARK!  A shark had been spotted close to shore.  We all dashed down the beach to see if we could spot it (we couldn't), but that sealed the deal- no swim in the ocean for us.

    We went kayaking- the kids loved it and I discovered that my arms are not so strong.  Although it isn't part of our usual routine, I would do it again!

    We went to ice cream one afternoon, and over the course of our snack, everyone swapped food with everyone else.  We all got a little taste of everything.
    Swapping snacks 
    The kids all pretended to be various forms of cats- kitties, tigers, and lions. Charlotte is roaring.
    Asher and Charlotte snuggling together. They have a close bond.
    At the end of the visit, Asher was ready to go home. I think he is anxious about his first day of school (or am I projecting?).  I could have stayed forever.  My sister and I had a great time laughing hysterically over everything and nothing, we ate lots of good food, read books, drank coffee, and got exercise.

    Now we are home, and real life starts again. When we got home, I noticed leaves on our patio, and the air has a chill.  Fall is coming, whether I like it or not!

    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.