Tuesday, March 26, 2013

benjamin & asher are THREE!

my 3 guys in bed this morning
Happy Birthday matzoh brei and a cup of tea
blowing out his candle- the hot food melted the wax. oops!
Really?  My two itty bitty babies are 3? How?

They are such big boys, with such big personalities.  They are funny, and sweet, and drive me up the wall sometimes.  Asher has a great memory, he holds on to things I say and holds me accountable days/weeks/months later.  This lead-up to the birthday got me in such trouble.  2 months ago we were at the mall, and Asher spied a police car in a toy store window.  I told him he couldn't have it that day, but it was his birthday soon, and maybe then.  Well, ever since then, Asher has told me he wants a police car for his birthday.  And last night, when he found the afikomen for Passover, he said he wanted a police car.  We went straight to the toy section at Target today, and he picked out his police car.

Benjamin is much less direct.  He is more likely to be engaged in play by himself with his cars and trucks.  He is indecisive, which leads to buyer's remorse.  Today at Target, he picked out a monster truck when Asher picked out the police car.  We were almost done our shopping when I noticed Benjamin trying to steal Asher's car... so we walked back to the toy section and Benjamin got a police car, too.

They are both still my snuggle bugs, and love to come get big hugs and kisses from mommy.  I know it won't stay that way forever, but I sure do love it right now.  They are delicious and good snugglers.  I kiss them so much that one morning I started giving Benjamin kisses and he said, "No more kisses, Mommy!  No eat me up!" because sometimes I tell them they're so delicious I could eat them up.

They are often generous and thoughtful- sharing their food with me or each other, asking after the other and their baby sister if one of them isn't around.
stuck behind the couch

Then they are also normal kids- throwing toys, purposely ignoring my requests, playing bedtime stalling games.  Benjamin bit Asher yesterday, hard enough to leave a bruise, and today he pushed Asher off the step stool in the kitchen.  Today Asher dropped my small purse on Charlotte's head.  I struggle with discipline because time-outs don't work and I can't come up with good, immediate consequences for bad behavior.

We are also having trouble around meal times.  They're increasingly picky, and although we make and offer a variety of foods, they mostly refuse it all.  For a while we played the "take 2 more bites" game, but Asher would force himself to choke and vomit and that doesn't help anyone- it's just gross.  So I ask what they want, keep "real" foods around, and we have started to really limit snacks.  They seem to have plenty of energy, but I think their weights will be fairly low, with little gain, when we go back to the doctor.  Without fail they like crackers, the squeeze tubes of yogurt, raisins/apricots/prunes, and cookies.  Sometimes they like cheeses, sometimes eggs, sometimes toast, often pancakes.  Asher has a huge sweet tooth and always knows where his next treat is coming from.  If we don't have anything planned, he'll ask to go to Trader Joe's, because they give out cookies there.

They are both talking a lot, but Asher is much easier to understand than Benjamin.  We'll see at their 3 year well-visit what kind of interventions- if any- we need to take for Benjamin's speech.  Asher is really able to express himself fairly well, except if he gets excited, he stammers a little, repeating a couple of words over and over, like a car churning its wheels in mud before it gets going.

Their favorite things to watch on TV are anything "Cars" related.  Benjamin likes some show called "Mighty Machines" on netflix, and Asher likes "Go, Diego, Go."  Benjamin knows the ipad better than I do, and definitely better than Asher.

Their favorite books come in spurts- we read "Each Peach Pear Plum" for weeks, and "Bunny Cakes" for a long time.  Asher also likes "Time Out For Sophie," and tonight we read "Goodnight Construction Site."  They like "Snowy Day," and Asher named a stuffed owl Peter after reading it.

Their favorite songs are Mumford & Sons' cover of The Boxer, the song Hit the Road, Jack (since mommy is always rushing them along and saying, "We have to hit the road!"), and Queen's We Will Rock You, which they call "Boom Boom Tush."  They like to sing their ABCs, with some mistakes in there, and the goodnight song I sing them, as well as the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

They are beautiful little boys.  I think they'll always be my babies, and sometimes I am surprised to see how big they are, and how boyish their faces look.  As frustrating as some of our days are, I am honored to be their mommy.  I can't believe just how much they have changed my view of the world and life.  They absolutely are my heart, walking around outside my body- they make me vulnerable in a way I never was before they were born- but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Charlotte: 3 months old

Charlotte's 3 month update:
Height and Weight: I don't have a height measurement, but 2 weeks ago she was 14 lbs. She's been gaining about 1/2 lb a week, so maybe she is 15 lbs now.  She is definitely big, solid, and round.
Clothing size: She's into 3-6 months clothes.  Most other stuff is small.  Every week she outgrows something else.  So many cute things that I will never get to use again!
Milestones: Rolling from front to back.  She is very strong, and will hold herself upright with very little assistance when sitting or being held.
Outings and Adventures: More girls' nights and coffee dates.  Charlotte went to Washington, DC and the Air & Space museum in Dulles for Grandpa Nick's birthday.
Routine/Schedule: Still about the same- no good schedule during the day, although I have not even attempted one.  I do notice that she gets tired about 1.5 to 2 hours after she wakes up, so I will try to get her comfortable for a nap, whether it's in her rock n play, car seat, or in the ergo carrier on my chest.  She is still doing pretty well at night, but hasn't started sleeping any longer than she did last month.  It's not bad for me to sleep 10-4 or 5, but it would be great if she went til 7.  She nurses on demand, and we keep track once a month for the feeding study we're participating in- she nurses probably 10 times a day.  Fortunately for me she is a very efficient eater and so a nursing session is only about 5-10 minutes long, but it's still a lot of time with my boobs hanging out.
Favorite food: breast milk
Favorite person: mommy, but she is a friendly and social girl who has a big gummy smile for everyone.  She definitely adores Eric and will laugh at him when he sings to her.
Charlotte and her friend Tessa, both in stripes!

Favorite book: We're still reading "Bunny Cakes" in anticipation of the boys' birthday.  They also ask for "Each Peach Pear Plum," so she hears that a lot, too.
Other big news or highlights of the month: Charlotte has started to suck her thumb!  Now I have 2 thumbsuckers, and later I will need the name a good orthodontist.  In a way I'm glad- Asher has been a great sleeper, probably in large part due to his thumb sucking.  A thumb is always there for comfort.  On the other hand (haha), thumb sucking can go on long past the time a child uses a pacifier and is much harder to stop.
a good nap with her thumb
Here is the sad news, which I realized last night: in the 3 months of Charlotte's life, she has been to 1 memorial service (our friend's mother died of liver cancer), 1 shiva (my friend's father died of complications of liver cancer), and 1 funeral (Pierrette's).  Can I say, this has been a really lousy winter. Really lousy.  And here it is, March 21 and we woke up to snow.  Sweet Charlotte is the best thing to happen in these past 3 months.  I'm very much looking forward to warmer weather, putting her in some shorts and dresses and getting out for sun and fresh air!

Monday, March 18, 2013

In memory of Pierrette

Pierrette with the boys as babies
Pierrette passed away today.  I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that she is truly gone.  I took Charlotte to see her on Tuesday and on Saturday and of course she wasn't well, but now she is gone.

Pierrette was my 3rd grandmother.  She came to our family 65 years ago, to be a nanny to my aunt Jane.  But she became so much more. She devoted her entire adult life to our family.  She never married, or had children of her own. She helped to raise my mom, aunt, and uncle, and she loved all of their children as if they were her own grandchildren.  She wasn't a nanny, she was a family member, and my grandmother's best friend.  I can remember a few times over the years where P would say she wanted to move out of my grandparents' house (she had a small apartment of her own on the 3rd floor of their house) and my grandparents never wanted her to.  She helped take care of them, and of us, her whole life.  It wouldn't have been home without her there.  When they sold their home, they bought an apartment with a room and bathroom for her, and when they left their apartment to come here, she came with them.

She loved cats, and leaves behind her beloved kitty Otto.  Poor Otto, no matter whose home he goes to, he won't be eating like he did with P.  She was always getting him extra special treats and sneaking him lunch meat from the dining room.  Every cat she ever had got the royal treatment.

We always said that P was a witch- the good kind.  She had excellent intuition about people, and was always right about their character.  Eric spent a summer at my grandparents' house in Cambridge after we were engaged, and I told him that if I got a bad report from P, the engagement was off.  And I meant it.  Fortunately for Eric, the only complaint I got was that he threw out part of a chicken carcass that still had some meat on it.  P just had a good eye.  Sometimes people ignored her or treated her like she was "help," and no one in the family had any patience for that.

There is so much that our family owes to P. She was born in Brittany, and brought some French flair to our family and our eating habits. She passed on the idea that butter and garlic makes every vegetable better, which has promoted vegetable eating for generations in this family.  She made the world's best crepes.  She was ahead of her time with the idea that simple food was the best, and the most delicious.  I can't remember ever eating something she cooked that wasn't delicious, and we probably all owe our passion for food and cooking to her.

She had a green thumb.  She was careful with her belongings, and others'.  I think, in some way, despite the fact that we considered her a family member, she always remembered that she had come to our family as an employee and tried to be mindful of everyone's needs.  My uncle Ed even remarked tonight how considerate she had been to die today- yesterday was my cousin's birthday, tomorrow is my grandparents' anniversary, and Wednesday is my dad's birthday.

She was also famous for her complaints and criticisms.  She and my grandfather often butted heads and he would yell at her!  But they loved each other.  Sometimes she was impossible to please- just tonight we were reminiscing about nights my uncle Richard used to go to my grandparents' for Shabbat, and P would complain that he brought too much food.  But I can assure you that if he hadn't brought too much food, she would have complained that he had come empty-handed and expected her to come up with something.  As my grandparents' health declined, she would complain about them, but never for a second stopped taking care of them or worrying about them.

P had such a big personality.  We're all in shock that she's gone- I told my mom that her parents have been fading for a long time now, but that P was P up til the end.  It feels sudden, even though we knew she was sick.  Such a powerful force in our lives, and now she's not with us.  In a way I'm sad that she never had children of her own.  I'm not sure why, what happened to her as a child or what her life was like that she chose never to have her own children, but she has left her mark on the world, and her legacy, with us.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Celebrity Profile: Grandma Sonia

Me, my mom, and Grandma Sonia in July 2010
My grandma Sonia is very sick.  She is in hospice care, and they seem to think that she won't live more than a month at this point. I went to see her yesterday and she no longer even looks like herself.  I've never lost anyone close to me, I've been so fortunate, and now that it is looming, I feel unprepared.  Anytime someone has passed away, I never saw them sick- either their death was sudden or my relationship was distant enough that I didn't see them when they were ill.

Sonia has been declining for a year or so now, and in some ways I feel as though I have already lost her.  The parts of her personality that made her Sonia have been gone for a while.  Maybe I've been in denial, that they would somehow come back.  In my mind, I think I will always remember my grandma the way she was most of my life- talkative, vibrant, funny, and bright.

Here are the things I love about her, and that made her special to me.

She was the warmest person I have ever known.  I always said she was a storybook illustration of a grandma- white hair, glasses, slightly round and cuddly.  She had no sharp edges.  Just like with my mom, I don't remember a time where I didn't know she loved me.  When I was little, and we visited my grandparents' house in Cambridge, I would wake up extra early just so I could climb into her bed with her with a stack of books she would then read to me.  She called me pussycat.  When I was fat, she would tell me that I looked like I'd lost weight every time we saw each other.  I wanted to write, and she was always encouraging of that desire.  I would send her my stories and she would read them all.

I was always welcome at their house.  We visited a lot when I was little, and then when I was 11, Sonia and David took me to Paris for 5 months so I could learn French.  I regret that while I was there, I stubbornly refused to speak French, despite the fact that I understood it perfectly and had a perfectly good accent.  I still feel like I disappointed them.  While I was there, I got my period for the first time- I'm sure it was more than Grandma had bargained for, but she handled it well (I wish I could say the same for myself).  They took me to Turkey and Grandma and I played spit and gin rummy for an entire day.  They took me to Jerusalem and we ate blintzes in the hotel lobby.  While I was in college, I would call them anytime I felt homesick and get on a bus to Boston.  I remember them changing their dinner reservations on a Saturday night to include me- without hesitation. At 23, I went to live at their house in Cambridge- they were 78 and 79 years old and didn't make a single complaint about my being there. I remember crawling into bed with Grandma even then and watching Lifetime movies.  Eric and I had our first kiss on the couch in their living room.

She loved books, reading, and teaching.  Her study was filled with picture books and children's books- her specialty.  Peter Rabbit, Charlotte's Web, Ferdinand the Bull.  She knew where to look in every picture, every detail and nuance in plot of what would seem to be a simple story.

She had the WORST sense of direction.  She didn't know her left from her right.  There is a famous story about the time she told my uncle Ed to make a right, and when he did, she yelled at him, "No! I said RIGHT!"  One time she took my sister, cousin, and me to see a play of Charlotte's Web.  She didn't know where she was going, so she started following a minivan full of children.  Eventually, when she figured out that we were heading out of town, she pulled them over!  She asked them if they were going to the play, and they weren't.  We laughed so hard at her, just assuming that any child in the city of Boston MUST be going to Charlotte's Web.

Together we loved to laugh.  I can't tell you now what we laughed about, but when we were together we had a tendency to get just a little hysterical.  We laughed at ourselves, at other people, at books and movies.  When I was living with her in Paris, it began to rain suddenly one afternoon, and she didn't want to get her beauty parlor styled hair wet- after a search in her glove compartment she found a pair of underwear (how they got there I never learned)- and went out in the rain, in Paris, with underwear on her head.

She was everyone's best friend.  She had a way of just drawing people to her, and drawing them out.  She knew how to get people to talk to her without them feeling forced.  She loved to talk- the phone was always ringing off the hook at their house.  She had a couch next to the phone in their breakfast room, and after breakfast she would settle in there and begin her calls.

Grandma was absent-minded. as are my mom and I.  She would lose things, or forget things.  I can't tell you how many times the doorbell would ring around dinner time and she would say, "Shit! Did I invite someone to dinner?" Fortunately for her, everyone loved her so much that they forgave these oversights and were happy just to be in her company.

It's impossible to explain what she was like, and the things I'll miss.  She made up words in crosswords and then didn't know why the puzzle wouldn't work.  She loved to gossip- not in a mean way- but just to hear everyone's news and spread the word.  She loved her family, and most of all my Grandpa David.  She always had something funny to say- even if it was unintentional.  She had a special perspective on life and the world.

I'll miss her so much- I already do.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

charlotte rolled over!

Charlotte in the kitten hat Meema bought her

Last night, Charlotte rolled over from her tummy to her back!  I was in the kitchen and Eric was playing with her on the floor, doing tummy time.  He yelled for me, but I missed it, and it has not yet been repeated.  My little baby is growing so fast!

Monday, March 11, 2013

DC for Nick's birthday

Yesterday we went down to Washington, DC to celebrate Grandpa Nick's birthday (a little bit early).  It was our first trip since our disastrous trip in September, and Charlotte's first trip out of the state of Pennsylvania.

We had a great day, fortunately!  We drove down with no problem and stopped to visit Great-grandpa Sy at rehab.  He's been sick off and on for a while, so it was good that he was in a rehab and not a hospital.  Then on to Aunt Elana's for lunch and a huge chocolate cake that Meema had made.

The big treat was a trip to the Air and Space Museum in Dulles with Grandpa Nick.  The guys were so excited to see all the things that fly- airplanes, helicopters, and rocketships.  I have to say that I was completely fascinated and wanted to read about everything, but the boys wanted to play on things. Which they couldn't.  There were also flight simulators that Asher was desperate to go on, but he wasn't tall enough.  Fortunately, they were in excellent moods and coped well with the disappointment.  Benjamin was just so adorable, he wanted to be with Papa Nick the whole time.  Benjamin's little face just lit up whenever Nick was around.

Here are the boys with Grandpa Nick in front of the SR-71 Blackbird, which Nick was really excited to see:
The boys also got souvenirs. Asher picked out a Blue Angel plane and Benjamin picked out at space shuttle.  Now Benjamin has a little buyer's remorse and really wants Asher's plane.  Asher has shared a lot, but Benjamin really wants it, and sometimes happens to steal it, or "borrow" it for a while.

Charlotte didn't see any planes.  She slept the whole time we were in the museum in the Ergo.  She is very agreeable so far and lets her brothers get their way almost all the time.

When we got in the car to go home, Asher said, "I had a really good day."  I love hearing that!

The boys wanted pizza for dinner, and so we planned to go to the Maryland House rest area for dinner. Then we saw signs for the rest area- it was closed for renovations!  Thank goodness for the iPhone, because I found a Papa John's in Aberdeen, ordered a pizza while we were in the car, and then we picnicked in the back of our van.  Asher seemed to think that was really fun.  Of course there was no bathroom, so we drove to a Burger King and saw a huge indoor playground.  Damn!

Both guys were angels the whole way home.  I think i had a little PTSD from our last trip, because I was anxious and nauseous the whole way home, worried someone would get sick.  Fortunately, no throwing up, no problems at all.  We got home late, but the boys had a bath and got in bed without fuss.

We are a little tired and thrown off due to Daylight Savings.  Today we went bowling- the boys' first time ever- and I bowled with Charlotte in the Ergo and bowled a strike and then a spare in the next frame!  Amazing!  I haven't bowled since before Eric and I married, and once in high school I bowled 9 points in an entire 10 frames (so embarrassing).  I can't believe my over-tired mommy of 3 baby-wearing self did so well.  The boys didn't totally get the whole idea, and Asher had some trouble waiting his turn, but they seemed to have fun.  I love those kids.
Bear bowling

Benjamin bowling

They make me so proud with their good behavior.  It hasn't all been great lately- I'm working on a post on that- but when we have good days, they're amazing.  As Eric said last night, we won the lottery with our three kids.