Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day at the Beach

Yesterday Meema and I took the boys and Charlotte for a day trip to Long Beach Island, where Jane and Ed had rented a house.

The day started very well, we got there around 11 and went down to the beach to play in the sand.
Beach Bear

stealing a sip
I guess no one was having fun

Then we had some lunch, then I thought maybe naps.  I was a total dope- Charlotte was asleep in a pack n play, and Asher climbed into bed in the room.  Then Benjamin said he wanted to nap, and I believed him.  He ended up waking everyone else up, and Charlotte was hysterical and wouldn't go back to sleep.  So instead we went for ice cream with their cousins.
their ice cream eating skills are better every year
 Back at the beach house, Charlotte poured a cup of coffee on the floor.  We decided to to back to the beach, and Asher got a huge splinter and gash in his toe on the wooden boardwalk. He refused to walk and I ended up carrying Charlotte in the Ergo and Asher on my shoulders across the sand.  I was sweating and out of breath.  Once we made it to the beach, there were flies everywhere, swarming us.  It was very upsetting!  So we called Meema (waking her up) to bring us band-aids, and then ran back to the house.
With big cousin Jacob

Then Asher wet himself in his swim suit, so I decided it was bath time for Asher, Charlotte, and myself.  Major hysterics from Asher and Charlotte.  At this point (5 pm) I decided we needed to hit the road- there was no way I could keep it together with Charlotte crying and Asher crying and nowhere safe for Charlotte to play. So we packed up as fast as we could and got going.  My mom said she would drive- in case Charlotte wanted to nurse or needed attention while we drove.  We got in the car and my mom backed down the driveway- right into a tree!  She took out the rear lights on the left, so we had no left turn signal going home.

We got on the road, and then my mom ran a red light.  We were laughing hysterically at how everything was going wrong.  Fortunately all 3 kids fell asleep, and the boys slept almost all the way home, but Charlotte woke up and complained after about an hour.  It was rough.  My mom told me she didn't want to see me until at least Sunday, or maybe Monday.

All 3 kids seem to still be worn out today.  I'm glad we went, because they had a great time with their cousins, but I'm still tired, and my mom is exhausted.  Sometimes 3 kids is no joke.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Charlotte: 8 months old

getting love and hugs from big brothers

Her babyhood is just going too quickly for me.  I love having a baby- especially this baby- and although I am proud of all her developments, I wish she would be a baby just a little bit longer.

Height and Weight: At our appointment at the Monell Center 2 weeks ago, she was 21 pounds, 2.5 oz and 27.5 inches tall.

Clothing size: She is still in 6-12 months and 9 month size clothes.  I would guess when it gets cooler and I put her in pants and long sleeve things, she'll be in 12 months or 12-18 month sizes, but for now she is mostly in rompers and dresses which are forgiving.

Milestones: Charlotte is pulling to stand and practicing her walking.  She will hold on to our fingers and put one foot in front of the other.  Where does this come from?  I think she is really motivated by her big brothers.  She follows them from room to room all day, even if she can't keep up.

There is one milestone she seems to be a little late on- really the only one- teeth!  She has no teeth yet, and I can't even feel anything hard in her gums.  I am sure she'll get teeth eventually, but in the meantime, it is really slowing down her broccoli-eating.

She has babbles- bababa, mama, and she says something that sounds like "hi."  She might be using a single "ma" to say "more," since she only says it as a single syllable when we are eating.  I'm not sure yet, though.

Outings and Adventures: We did a lot of weekend trips over the past month.  We went to visit friends in New Jersey for a day, and had a great time with all of their toys.  Then Charlotte and I went with my mom up to Boston for a baby shower.  Charlotte also went to the zoo twice- one of those times was with friends while Eric and I went to my grandpa David's funeral.

Routine/Schedule: Nights have improved- at most she is waking once a night, and that happens after 4 am most nights/mornings.  That doesn't mean I am sleeping better- I am having trouble falling back to sleep after waking up to pee or feed her.  She is sleeping a little later in the mornings, usually until 7 or later.  The other morning she slept until 8:30!

Otherwise, her schedule is similar to what it was a month ago.  She eats 3 solid meals a day most days, and nurses 6-8 times a day when I am home with her, and fewer times if I'm at work. She refuses the bottle and is not a big fan of breast milk out of a sippy.  Charlotte takes 2 naps a day if given the opportunity, but if we are out and about, she will not nap.  She is far too involved in the world to close her eyes.

Favorite food: Probably still breast milk.  She also can eat large quantities of pasta and pancakes.  Some nights she eats more than her big brothers!  In the past few weeks, Charlotte has had a lentil dish with turmeric, cumin, tomatoes, carrots, and zucchini as well as egg strata with leeks and tomatoes.  She liked both dishes a lot- and I am happy she's an adventurous eater so far.

Favorite person: Charlotte seems to love everybody. I am special because I nurse her, but she has a smile and a hug for everybody.  I don't think she can decide which big brother she loves more- she adores them both!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Goodbye, Grandpa David

Grandpa David's 89th birthday

Less than 24 hours after writing and posting my last entry, my Grandpa David passed away.  We were supposed to go to New York City Saturday for a birthday party, but instead I stayed home so I could sit by his side, and I'm glad I made that decision. I sat alone with him for a while and held his hand.  He wasn't talking, but he was awake and aware.  At one point he seemed uncomfortable and so I got an aid to come in and help him adjust in bed.  Worried about bed sores.  It seems foolish now.

Who knows what he was thinking in those last hours, or how much he knew (although it seemed like some of the time he knew exactly what was going on).  I sat there and thought about all the places his legs had walked and that they'd never walk again, all the things his eyes had seen and that the last things they would see would be the four walls of that room.  There were pictures of my grandma around, and I thought about how happy they had been together, how much fun they had had, and how much he must miss her.  I told my grandpa some of the things that I remember especially about him, and us: how he could park a car without automatic steering in a parking spot only 2 inches larger than the car itself without any mistake or need for correction; how I wouldn't speak French when I was in Paris with them and have been angry with myself ever since, and that in my first therapy session that was what I cried about.  I told him it was a beautiful day and that we were planning to have cheeseburgers for dinner.

After the aid adjusted him in bed, he fell asleep.  I sat and read.  I left at 5 to go home to my family, and my aunt Jane and uncle Ed came to sit with him.  He was still asleep.  I forgot to kiss him goodbye; somehow I convinced myself I would see him again and that he would be there tomorrow.  He died around 7:15 when Jane went out to pick up food, and only Ed was there.

I wish I believed in heaven, and that I could imagine they are holding hands again, reunited after their brief separation.  That would make me so happy.  What I do know is that he is no longer missing her, and he's no longer alone.  He lived a full and wonderful life.  He changed so many people's lives- emails are pouring in to my mom and her siblings from friends around the world who remember his vital role in their lives.

It is still unreal to me that he is actually gone.  Last night I went with my mom and my uncle Richard to help pack up some of the most valuable items in my grandparents' room.  I cried- seeing the bed, with the blankets removed and the bedside table pushed aside to remove his body.  Knowing that bed was the last place both of my grandparents took a breath.

I am so grateful for the years I had with both grandparents, and the opportunity to know them as an adult, and for them to know and love my children.  Saying goodbye is heartbreaking- but certainly an indication of how important they were to me, and just how deeply loved I felt by them.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Celebrity Profile: Grandpa David

Grandpa David as a young (and handsome!) man

Unfortunately, my grandpa David isn't doing well.  He started to decline about a month ago, but then seemed to recover.  Now he seems even worse.  While there is no real physical cause for his decline, it seems like he might have just given up on life.  I can't say I blame him- he is 89, and his wife of 69 years passed away 4 months ago.  What's really worth living for?  He's had an amazing and wonderful life, so living alone in a retirement home must be incredibly depressing.

Grandpa David was the most brilliant person I knew.  As a child I was somewhat scared of him- he was impressive, somewhat domineering, and would quiz me about my multiplication tables at breakfast.  He didn't tolerate bullshit, or monkey business.  And he was the boss- his seat was at the head of the table, he ran every Passover seder and said kiddush every Friday night.  He did have a softer side- he would read to us grandchildren, and was physically affectionate.  He adored my grandma, and I mean adored.  Where she was often critical of her appearance, he thought she was the most gorgeous woman on earth.  He loved her from the moment they met and never stopped.
Grandpa as I remember him- authoritative and always right

I really got to know Grandpa when I lived with my grandparents in Paris.  Initially, we butted heads.  Although my nuclear family is "traditional" in many ways- my dad works but my mom has worked part-time or not at all, my mom was responsible for all of the cooking- my parents also have a fairly egalitarian marriage.  I was accustomed to my dad doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, and doing other jobs around the house.  I got to Paris and found that Grandpa's only job was his job as professor and to buy toilet paper (we called him the "Paper Goods Fairy").  Grandma did everything else.  I used to stomp around, upset that Grandpa didn't help and that Grandma let him get away with it.  I was 11.
The view from the balcony of our Paris apartment

While I lived with them, my grandparents took me many places, including Jerusalem.  I remember going to the Western Wall and putting a note in the wall, asking to please stop fighting with Grandpa David.  Whether my prayers were heard, or from then on I made a conscious choice to be more agreeable I don't know, but our relationship shifted.

He was always generous, with his love and with his time.  Like Grandma Sonia, his family was always so important to him, and where others were often greeted with skepticism, his family was always welcomed with open arms.

What always struck me about Grandpa David, other than his brilliance and academic success, was his deep love for Grandma.  Their love for each other- and for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren- created a culture of its own.  When faced with difficult decisions or situations as a child, my mom used to tell me, "Remember you're a Landes."  Which meant, essentially, be a mensch.  There was such a vibrance to their lives, and a sense of adventure.  Travel, good food, good friends, and a wonderful home- and these are all things that their descendants carry on.  All 3 of their children are also hubs in their social circles, and everyone in our extended family knows our homes are always open for visitors, for a night or even just a meal.

As much as I have known that Grandpa wouldn't be around much longer, his death will be the end of an era for all of us.  At night before I fall asleep, I can picture their house in Cambridge as it was, with my grandparents sitting side by side on the love seat, watching something on TV while drinking their tea.  It is almost unbelievable to me that their house, and the people who lived in it and made it a home, are gone from my life.
The door to their home in Cambridge, MA
Their house had a tower, and hid behind a tall, white wall.  I always told my friends that my grandparents lived in a castle, and they certainly were a king and queen in my eyes.  In many ways, their lives were like a fairy tale, with trips to faraway lands, meetings with distinguished people wherever they went, and family and friends who visited them in all of their homes.  It's been my good fortune to have been born into their royalty, and my responsibility to carry on their values.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

trip to Boston

Charlotte and I went up to Boston with Meema for a night to see our friend Cass and celebrate at her baby shower.  I know I am a crazy mom lady now, because in looking at my photos from the weekend, all I have are pictures of Charlotte and nothing else.  Not even Cass, the woman of honor!

The weekend was mixed- the driving was terrible, and we were stuck in traffic both going and coming. And I never knew Meema had such a potty mouth!  But once we were wherever we needed to go, we had a good time.
Happy after an omelet at brunch

The shower was at a nice restaurant on the water.  It was ladies lunching, and gift-opening, and Charlotte crawled around on the floor.  We had a very strange encounter when Charlotte crawled out of our private room into the hall, and an older man got down on his hands and knees and crawled towards her, growling.  She is so friendly, and kept smiling at him until he got close, at which point she burst into tears.  The guy, who must have been intoxicated, felt bad and came back to us a minute later and handed me money!  I gave it back to him, but he pushed it back at me, and said he was sorry.  I said, "don't give a baby money, that's crazy!"  But he left it with us, so I gave it to Cass for her baby!  It was very weird.  I told Cass only she would have something like that happen at her shower!
Helping open gifts

We left the shower and drove to Brookline with a detour through downtown Boston.  In Brookline we met up with my cousin Noa and her son, Yishai.  Yishai and Charlotte seemed happy to meet each other, and I was so happy to see my cousin- she lives in Prague so I don't get to see her often.  Our visit was short, but good.  Yishai had special Israeli snacks, which he shared generously.  It was adorable- he even tried to feed Charlotte.  I think she really liked him.
At the park in Brookline
Then back to Quincy, for bed time for Charlotte and dinner with our friends.  After dinner we took a short walk on the beach- their house is 1 in from the water.  On Sunday we were up early (thanks to Meema tossing and turning and Charlotte being an early riser), so we got ourselves going and rushed back into Boston to meet my cousin Jess.  We had coffee and breakfast at Flour bakery.  It was a perfect and beautiful morning- what a shame to get back in the car!
Charlotte outside Flour
Yesterday Asher was sick in the morning- I think he drank too much water too quickly- so I took Benjamin and Charlotte to the Please Touch Museum.  It was Charlotte's first time "touching" at the museum.  I can't wait for her to be walking- kind of.  Oh, the chaos that will come with 3 mobile babies.
On Friday, Charlotte and I went to the Monell Center for our study.  She was weighed and measured- 21 lbs, 2.5 oz and 27.5".  Such a big girl! When I was 1 year old, I weighed 21 lbs, and she's not even 8 months.  On Friday I weighed only 3 more pounds than when I got pregnant, so I guess I have pretty much lost all my baby weight.  This is good news all around.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

flying by

Charlotte in the city on one of our adventures

It feels like everything is just flying by.  Summer, which I eagerly anticipate during the dreary winter months; and Charlotte's infancy, which will be my last as a parent.

We've been enjoying and making the most of everything.  Whenever the weather is good, we make sure to be outside.  We visit playgrounds and swimming pools.  I get bitten up by mosquitos every day! We don't have a lot of money right now- this is a huge source of stress for me- so we make the most of the things to which we have free access.  I have loved the weekends where the calendar is empty going into Friday night, and it slowly fills up with last-minute dinners with friends or swim dates at the pool.  The boys are more independent, and when we have dinner or get-togethers with friends, they quickly go off with the other children and play, and it allows Eric and me to socialize with our friends.

I am enjoying watching the boys jump in the pool and splash around after many summers of trepidation or outright hatred of the water.

I (mostly) love being able to talk to my boys- to feel like I am getting to know them as people, laughing at their perceptions, listening to them imagine and dream, and remembering what it felt like to believe that anything was possible.

And Charlotte is growing so quickly.  I love having a baby, and I love being a mommy.  She has been so easy, I feel as though I could have 10 more if they would all be like her.  She is an accomplished crawler, and pulls to stand on everything.  She always wants to be part of the action, and follows her brothers all over the house.

This summer has been a lot of fun so far.  We've been to friends' houses, into the city to visit a "pop up park" by the Art Museum, to the playground where we had their birthday party, the zoo, numerous trips to numerous pools, around to every playground in the area, and of course to Memere and Pepere's in Maine. I can't believe it's August already! We still have our trip to Cape Cod to look forward to, and many fun outings and parties this month.  I try to be "in the moment" and enjoy our days (which I genuinely do), but I do feel a twinge of sadness at how quickly the days of beautiful weather and evenings playing outside after dinner pass.
Asher and Benjamin lifeguarding at the "beach" in the city
Eric took the boys for hair cuts today, which I really dislike.  I love their hair long and shaggy, but it was getting in their eyes and Benjamin was always pushing it away and getting annoyed.  I took this picture of Asher this morning so I would have a momento of his beautiful curls: