Thursday, January 26, 2017

While Eric was away...

Here are the emails I sent Eric while he was away. Yes, it was 2 months ago, but I said I would post them, so I will. I haven't been writing here much because I have been spending my evenings obsessing over the state of our nation. I went to DC on Saturday of last weekend to join the Women's March on Washington. I guess that is another post, although I don't see this blog as a political platform, the current state of affairs has invaded many areas of my life.

So here are the emails:

November 27

Hi honey,
I thought I would write you about our day. This morning I showered all the kids, finished wrapping gifts for our Angel Tree angel, packed lunches, and we went to the zoo. The kids seem to prefer playing in the Treehouse to any of the animals. I prefer the animals. There were plenty of tantrums- Charlotte wanted to wear sandals, didn't want to wear a coat because it would cover up her dress, didn't want to sit next to Benjamin at lunch, didn't want to be near a turkey sandwich... I lost her in the primate house for a while, we had a few moments of panic but found her hanging from a gorilla sign. Then I had to carry her out of the zoo.

We stopped at Character Development in Narberth for a gift for Leo, which is where Benjamin had a breakdown over not getting anything. 

The boys played with Luca for an hour after we got back and I took care of stuff at home until the boys had to leave for Leo's birthday party and I had to leave for work. My dad took Charlotte to Ikea while they were at the party and fed her ice cream, and then she got a cupcake when she picked the boys up from the party. I was at home making fried rice... which I ate all by myself because no one else was hungry. Then I made rice pudding from the leftover rice. Charlotte threw various tantrums and asked for yet another dessert. They kids taped leftover scraps of wrapping paper all over their stuffed animals and pretended they were getting new presents. Bedtime was relatively uneventful. Asher is being a super wonderful big brother and gives Charlotte a hug and kiss after she is in bed each night.

We miss you! One day down, 5.5 more to go!

Love you!
In the Treehouse at the zoo. Unchanged since 1987.
Posing with the fake tiger
November 28
Cut up my credit cards

OMG honey, the hunt for a deal has grabbed me. Cut up my cards. Delete my cookies. We are going to cry when our credit card bill arrives- I can't even stand to think about it!  

Otherwise today was an ok day- I spent hours cleaning but the house still looks like a tornado hit it. My mom helpfully agreed with that. I made a super yummy dinner that only Benjamin ate- chicken thighs with a cider/mustard/cream sauce, roasted broccoli, carrots, and my mom brought a salad. I also made a pot roast to have later in the week so there would be food in the fridge.

I went to work and made the $100 I spent at Land's End. Well, I only spent $45 at Land's End because I ordered $55 of stockings for the kids and your mom said she would pay me back. But I got the boys boots for a steal!

I think that is about it. During the day I thought of lots of things to tell you, but now I don't remember.  We miss you, Asher seems kind of down and Benjamin is quiet. When we got home from running errands today, Charlotte ran up the walk and said, "Maybe Daddy is home!" We are all thinking of you.

Love you tons!
Charlotte posing with the cat we were fostering
We went to Bed Bath & Beyond and she sampled ALL the blushes
Then that night she used pastels as eyeshadow
November 29
It looked like your day was much more fun than mine! It poured all day long here. I took the kids to school in the morning, and then went to run errands. I went to Aldi and ran into Charlotte's old teacher Miss Ruth, who seemed ready to talk a lot. I spent more time cleaning before I went to work and you still can't tell.

Then I went to work and all day long my clients were late. It was just kind of quiet. People are sad.

I emailed Christine next door about taking a photo of our family- she said maybe sometime this weekend, and she will let me know.  I said, sounds good. I just want one stinking picture for our holiday card. Next year we are getting family photos done and I AM NOT LISTENING TO YOU WHEN YOU SAY WE ARE NOT. I put it in caps so I don't forget. 

I really think that is about it. I barely saw our kids so no cute stories or traumas to report. Asher's tooth is still in, but I am prepared with a $2 bill in case it comes out. There is more laundry, more dishes, but I have Asher buying lunch tomorrow, so one lunch I don't have to make. Only 3 full days left without you!
Benjamin drew this picture at school. It is Christmas Eve at Eric's grandparents
December 1
I will keep this short because I need to go to bed, but we didn't get to talk today! Things are going fine here, for the most part. Benjamin is having trouble sleeping at night, and came in to our room in the middle of the night last night saying his tummy hurt- but it turned out that he just misses you.  I think he is sad when he comes in and you aren't there. Asher had a breakdown at bedtime, but I was at work so my parents handled it. He said he was hungry but he and I had already butted heads over dinner when I asked him to eat his food and he said he was "too full." So I had told my parents no snack, and he was overtired and lost it.  Charlotte is fine.

I had a lot of clients cancel this week... 2 of them rescheduled for next week, so right now my schedule for next week is awful. I guess it is good that it's happening when you are home and less imposing on my parents. 

Tonight Elana came over with Maddie and Noah- she made baked ziti at her house and I baked it here and we ate together. I baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  The kids had a great time playing together and made a "secret hideout" under the pull-out couch in your office (which I guess I never put away...).  I think that is about it. I managed to not spend any money today, which is new! I didn't even go to Trader Joe's even though we need some stuff.  Maybe tomorrow!  I hope you had a good day, I am assuming you went to bed early because you didn't respond to my text. I hope you slept well and woke up full of energy! Send our love to your family.
Love you!
Haircuts on Friday afternoon
December 2
I am about to go to bed, and you are about to wake up to fly home to us! 

Tonight my parents came here for dinner. We had pot roast that I had made earlier in the week that was super yummy (plenty leftover) but Charlotte is refusing to eat all meat. Other than you and Benjamin, this house is ready to go vegetarian. She had 3 bowls of spinach instead. My parents left and I did showers and we looked at a few pages of I Spy, although the light in our room is so bad I couldn't see anything. I must be getting old, and that is depressing.

The kids are counting the minutes until you get home. "we get to see Daddy tomorrow" and "he's going to bring kinder eggs!" (that is mostly Charlotte). They can't wait. Neither can I, even if I am going to run out the door the second you walk in. 

Tomorrow we are going to see the play of A Year with Frog & Toad, and then we are going out for ice cream, and maybe to the Christmas market at City Hall to buy your mom an ornament. Then we will see what time it is and whether there is time for a nap! I tried to get the kids to bed early tonight but Benjamin was up at 8:50 talking nonsense. Like I said, he has trouble sleeping without you here.

My last email to you, since you will be home at bedtime tomorrow! I hope smooth travels and no delays.
Saturday morning- Asher found a camel cricket eating cat vomit in the basement. I went to deal with it and came back upstairs to Benjamin staging a protest 
At Frog & Toad
At Frog & Toad
Ice cream after Frog & Toad
I would say my emails are rather unexciting, but you can see the themes, and they certainly capture the nature of our everyday life. In 2 weeks I am off to Paris with my mom so maybe I will have another set of daily emails to deliver.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Holidays 2016

This year, Hanukkah began on Christmas Eve. We were up in Maine to celebrate Christmas with Eric's family, as we always do, so we had our Hanukkah there and let traditions overlap. 
1st night of Hanukkah before Christmas Eve party
We arrived in Maine around 8 pm on Friday night the 23rd after a looooong ride. We had hoped the kids would nap, but only Asher did. Charlotte stayed awake except for 1 moment where she nodded off, but that was the exact moment that Eric pulled into a gas station and so she woke up. Charlotte kept us company by alternately saying, "Yay! We're almost there!" when we were just north of New York City, and saying, "how much longer? I don't like my car seat! I wanna get out of here!" She constantly asked for snacks. As the day wore on, Eric got increasingly exasperated with her, and his threats to her became increasingly ridiculous. At one point, he said, "If you talk one more time, I am giving a present of yours to charity." That bought him about 3 minutes of silence. At another point, when she asked for more food, he said, "You can't be hungry! If you ask for food, I am NEVER GOING TO FEED YOU AGAIN!" I am a helpful spouse and burst into laughter. In fact, I laughed most of the ride, since it was so over-the-top. I don't think Eric was pleased with me, but he didn't threaten to make me walk.

We went straight to Eric's brother, Ryan, and his wife, Kerisa's, house. They were hosting a party for Eric's mom's family, and there was a lot of food, cousins, and company. We stayed until 10 o'clock, knowing we had nothing to do the next day.

The next day we did just that- nothing. I used the treadmill at Ryan and Kerisa's house in preparation for all the holiday eating, and then the kids took naps and we just hung out until it was time for Hanukkah and then the holiday party. 

Every Christmas Eve we go to a party at Eric's grandparents. There is always too much food, and everyone is always excited to see the kids. We eat, and then we wait for Santa. This year we brought our good camera (ha! I remembered it!) and Asher took some very nice photos- he has a good eye!
The boys with their big cousin Marcus. He was the ringbearer at our wedding 10.5 years ago and every time we see him, someone in Eric's family makes a comment about it.
Charlotte eating her dinner- I think she ate nothing but crackers.



Photo by Asher: Benjamin and mommy

Photo by Asher: Charlotte with cupcake

Dessert #? All they did was sneak treats

This sweet-looking girl is holding a Santa that farts when you squeeze his hand. He was the hit of the evening.
Finally, Santa arrives. Charlotte was beyond excited, and the second he pulled a gift out of his bag, she screamed with glee and rushed up to him- but the gift wasn't for her. He always brings gifts for the kids, and gag gifts for the grown-ups. Santa has a great sense of humor.
Happy girl receives her gift. It was a set of 3 Disney princess dress-ups.

Nope, no chaos here.
Charlotte loved her princess dress-up, and put on all of the accessories at once. I don't think we even came home with all of them, because she lost them in the first 5 minutes. There were clip-on earrings she loved, which makes me think she'll be asking for pierced ears sooner than I had planned for.

The boys were perfectly polite and wonderful, and remembered to say thank you for all their gifts. Benjamin got a beanbag game and Asher got a box full of crafts. 

Even though it was late, Asher had to write a note to Santa before bed. 
"Dear Santa, I hope you like the gingerbread men!"
Waiting for Santa
On Christmas morning, we opened our stockings and then had breakfast together. The boys got a lot of Pokemon cards. We had a funny moment when I opened up a fancy wine bottle opener from Eric's mom. She said, "I bought it off your Amazon wishlist!" I said, "No... I never put this on my wishlist..." And she said, "yes, with a book about bird watching!" Now, most people who know me know that I am afraid of birds, so I started laughing. I said, "You must have chosen a different Rebecca!" And yes, she had purchased from someone else's wishlist.  

We spent the day doing nothing, much, as is tradition. The kids decorated gingerbread houses that Charlotte had received as birthday gifts. The boys slopped frosting and candy all over their house, and Charlotte painstakingly and neatly decorated hers.
Princess decorates a house
Later we got ready for Christmas dinner with Eric's brother's family- they have 6 kids, so no other company needed. Asher had a seriously loose tooth, and he finally let Eric pull it right before dinner.
"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"

After dinner, we went to open gifts with all the cousins. It was a storm of wrapping paper and boxes, but Eric's mom had carefully chosen three thoughtful gifts for each one of her grandchildren. Eric got an Amazon Dot and I got a firepit for our back patio- nice stuff that was immediately put into use.  We had dessert and then... the children began to fall apart.  Of course with 9 kids in the house things were pretty wild no matter what else was happening.
Benjamin made up this saying and then wrote it out. We googled to see if he had plagiarized (proud parents don't believe their son could come up with this on his own...) but nope, it's his.
The day after Christmas Eric and I took the kids up to Portland to the children's museum there, and then out to lunch for Thai food.  We had a great day with our little family of 5, and the kids were acting sweet and kind and were great company.


The next day was another quiet day at Eric's parents' house, and then at night, we celebrated Charlotte's 4th birthday and her cousin Chandler's 3rd birthday. We had dinner and then cupcakes and singing Happy Birthday. Charlotte got more presents... and it seemed she began to expect presents everyday! What a disappointment these next few weeks have been.
Yet another birthday celebration
On Wednesday the 28th, we drove home from Maine. Our trip was originally supposed to be 6.5 hours, according to the GPS, but ended up closer to 8 hours. What a loooong day. The next day I offered to take the kids all kind of places- one of the museums where we have a membership, or to see Sing- and they refused all of it.  They stayed home and played with all their new toys and gifts, and then finally, around 2 pm, we went out to the library and took cookies to our librarians.
Quiet day at home
We hosted New Years Eve at our house, as we have for the past few years.  At noon we went to the "ball drop" at the library, where they spill candy on the street. 
Waiting for the ball to drop

Getting hugged by her school friend- the girls in her class are very into hugging
 Last year there was some trouble where not all the kids got candy and the big kids took too much. This year, Charlotte was prepared- she dashed in before almost anyone else and came away with about 10 pieces of candy! She is fearless. I was talking to a couple whose daughter is a couple of months younger than her, and they didn't even let their daughter stand on the ground, much less pile on for candy.  1st child vs 3rd child, I guess.

Our New Years party was fun, but I left my phone upstairs, so got no pictures. We had tons of food, lots of friends, plenty of alcohol, and a fire in our firepit and made smores.  Charlotte and our neighbor Blake danced to the Cha-Cha Slide in dresss-up clothes. Our friends stayed even later than they have in previous years, so we must be at least a little fun!

On New Years Day, we partook of our annual traditional trip to IKEA.  It was eat free if you spend $100, and we had no intention of spending it, but guess what- we ate for free.
I love this beautiful face.

Someone can't stand to be out of the spotlight
The kids were their wild and crazy selves. I think Eric was embarrassed (trying out all the beds? Piling on each other on the floor?) but I had to laugh. I love our wild and crazy family, and how much fun the kids always have with each other.

I know it's mid-January now, but Happy New Year to us, and to all our friends and family.  We have good health and good fortune, and so much more, to be thankful for.  I am dreading the events of this coming week (and the following 4 years), but our little family is thriving and well.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

20 Questions with Charlotte

Charlotte's age: 4 years old

1. What is your favorite color:
Pink. And purple and red.
2. What is your favorite toy?
Mousey. (the toy she had in her hand- a mouse in a tutu)
3. What is your favorite fruit?
Oranges

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Maybe... UmiZoomi. Bubble Guppies.
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
Birthday cake yogurt. Raspberries
6. What is your favorite outfit?
A dress
7. What is your favorite game?
Jumping Eggs (a game on her new digital watch)
8. What is your favorite snack?
Edamame. Root beer! Grape soda! (she actually never has these things for snack, usually she has crackers, or hummus.
9. What is your favorite animal?
Cheetah. Cat. Snow leopard.
10. What is your favorite song?
Best Day of My Life by American Authors. Cha-Cha Slide.
11. What is your favorite book?
Goodnight Moon
12. What is your favorite subject at school?
Coloring
13. What is your favorite sport?
Running
14. What is your favorite thing to have for breakfast?
Pancakes
15. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Fly a kite
16. What is your favorite drink?
A smoothie and some root beer and grape soda and apple juice and orange juice and lemonade and water.
17. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas and Hanukkah
18. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
Gray Kitty, big Sophie Kitty, Skye, Black and White Kitty, and all my other stuffies. (she has more than 10 and doesn't keep track of them, which is an excellent bedtime delay tactic when she can't find 1 or more.)
19. What is your favorite thing to have for dinner?
Mac and cheese.
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Tinkerbell
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Charlotte Eve: 4 years old

Charlotte swinging with Gray Kitty
I am almost a week late in writing about Charlotte!  She turned 4 on the 21st, although she was telling people she was already 4 for a few weeks before it actually happened.

Charlotte at 4. As always, she is ahead of where her brothers were at her age. Whether this is because she lives by their example, or because that's who she is- who knows. She is now writing her name, and knows how to spell it both forwards and backwards.  She doesn't always tell me much about what she is learning at school, but then will come out with all kinds of information at other times (how to count in Hebrew, what God created on which day, the months of the year in order). She seems to remember almost everything she hears, for better or for worse.  Charlotte is still in a class with kids 6 months older than she is, and they will soon start getting ready to read. She has a real interest in letters and how to spell things, and I wouldn't be surprised if she picks up reading quickly.

She seems pretty athletic and is quite competitive. In the fall she competed in the Healthy Kids Running Series and took first place in her age group for the 50-yard dash. In the spring she will be in the 4 & 5 year old girl group, so might not win, but she sure enjoyed winning her trophy. She is currently taking swim lessons, and is continuing because she wants to get permission to slide down the big slides. She said she would like to take dance class again, but last year's dance ended terribly, so I am not too eager to sign her up again. (In case I never blogged about it, Charlotte's dance career ended in the spring when my mom took her to class and Charlotte was asked to do her "solo" for the dance recital. All the other girls did twirls or curtsies, but when it came to Charlotte, she got down on all fours and started meowing.)

Charlotte has turned into a real girly-girl. She only likes to wear things that are "beautiful," and prefers dresses. A couple of times she has put on leggings that she decided didn't feel right, and had to come home and change into a new outfit. Other days, she tries to wear tights as pants.  She has her own fashion sense.
Snuggling our foster kitten while the kitten eats her cheek
She is also newly interested in makeup.  She came with me to Bed Bath & Beyond and helped herself to numerous blushes.  I have a video of her as she sampled them saying, "ooh, I look GOOD!" and "Just one more..." and "I look like a ROCK STAR. Cool."  Did I mention she is also modest?
Makeup perfection
I let her wear the blush for the rest of the day. People commented on how beautiful she looked.  Later that day, she took some water color paints and painted her eyelids to give herself eyeshadow. And then I found her in our powder room, standing on the toilet, brushing her face with the little brushes we use to clean sippy cups.  She has begged me to wear makeup to school and I say "not yet."  If this is Charlotte at 4, I really don't know how I will make it through her teen years!


She is quite opinionated and vivacious in her arguing. At times she will say, "I'm going to ask you something. And you say 'no,' and I say 'yes.' Ready? Ok. Can I have cake for breakfast?" 

She has developed into a somewhat picky eater. She has given up almost all meat. Occasionally she will like something and eat more than a few bites, but mostly she has to be begged to try a bite of any meat. She loves carbs, high-fat dairy (fancy French cheese, yogurt, ice cream), and some fruit. She uses her good looks to get as many desserts as she can in any given day, and is quite successful.

Charlotte gets a lot of attention for being pretty. I have mixed feelings about it- on one hand, I take vicarious pleasure in it, as if somehow I am pretty by extension, and as if somehow this is an important trait that might even be indicative of the quality of her (and my) character. On the other hand, I consider myself a feminist, and don't want my daughter growing up to think that the most important part of life is to be pretty.  Earlier this month, she was given a box of 12 candy canes "because you're pretty." I told her that we should share the candy canes with other people and make them as happy as she was when she got them. She was ok with that and happily distributed candy canes, yelling a variation of "Happy Hanukkah!" or "Happy Holidays!" or "Happy Christmas!"  In any case, people seem to find her appealing, and her cute personality doesn't hurt, either.

Some of Charlotte's favorite things are: her stuffed animals (she has a growing collection of them that she carts around with her), her brothers, seeing her grandparents, seeing her friends, cats, desserts, and accessories. She loves her family.  She can be as sweet and charming as can be, but then can be a bit of a "mean girl."

For example, one day she watched me get dressed for work and said, "mommy, you cannot wear that to work." When I asked why not, she said, "Because it's not beautiful, and your clients will not like it."  I told her that my clients don't care what I look like and that it would be fine. Another day, I told her I wanted to go on a quick jog with her in the jog stroller (we still go for jogs together, which I love. I play pop music and she sings along). She said, "Mommy, our jogs are never quick because actually you are not a very fast runner." Mm hmm.

I baked and decorated her birthday cake
Charlotte celebrated her birthday numerous times over the previous week. First we had a big birthday party for her at the gym where she takes gymnastics. We had 25 kids attend, and Charlotte had a great time. 
Charlotte at her birthday party
She thinks this face is really funny
Our family at the party
She got a massive stack of presents- people were extremely thoughtful and generous.  She broke into the presents right away- Shopkins, crafts, an apron to wear when she keeps me company in the kitchen.  The following day we had a mommy-Charlotte day, and I took her for her first manicure and pedicure at the nail salon, and then for lunch with Meema at Panera.
4th birthday present: first manicure and pedicure
 Then, on her actual birthday, I made her sprinkle pancakes for breakfast, then she went to school and had cupcakes with her friends. Meema picked her up at noon and they had a fun day together, and that night she had Japanese noodles and chocolate cake!
Birthday breakfast with her brothers gooning around in the background
The birthday girl takes a rest with the ipad and her birthday crown
 On Thursday, we had her 4 year well visit. Charlotte is:
40.25" tall
37.5 lbs
The doctor seemed pleased with her growth, and agreed with me that she seems quite healthy and well. She is hitting all her milestones ahead of time. The only point of concern is that she doesn't eat enough protein, but I am hopeful she is making it up in cheese and hummus.
At the doctor's office, reciting the alphabet
 Then we went up to Maine, where she has been spoiled by grandparents and great-grandparents.  She has gotten endless gifts and desserts, and I think she may have even reached her limit- tonight she told me she wants VEGETABLES for dinner tomorrow.

My gorgeous girl
Another year where I have enjoyed her company, her hugs and her kisses.  She makes me crazy, but I miss her an hour after she goes to bed at night.  I love that she is growing into this funny little person, who is quick-witted and clever, even if it gets used to my disadvantage. She has always brought such joy to our lives, and is adored by everyone around her.  I get such pleasure out of doing the girly-girl things I had hoped I would get to do with a daughter some day, and I look forward to what the future will bring.  She is still so sweet and delicious, in that place between toddler and big kid, still soft and round, but also smart and strong.  My baby is four, and I am so proud of her.