Friday, September 27, 2013

3 years, 6 months

My big guys were 3 1/2 yesterday!  Apparently it was a mistake to tell them it was their half-birthday, because all they heard was "birthday," which led to discussion of where Benjamin wants his party, even after I told him no party for half birthdays.

So here is a little about Benjamin and Asher at 3.5:

very serious

Benjamin reminds me of myself a little- he hates change, and is having a hard time adjusting to our new living situation.  He is a terrible sleeper, like me.  He's been having trouble sleeping though the night here, and keeps appearing in our bedroom in the middle of the night.  Tonight when I put him down, he told me "I not know how to sleep!"  I know that feeling.

He is independent and often happy to do something on his own.  Right now, he is always looking for an iPad or phone to watch TV, so we have to be a little more vigilant about how much time he spends with an electronic.

Benjamin adores Papa Nick.  This afternoon he spent about an hour down there playing Angry Birds, and I didn't hear a peep.
Benjamin reading the map while everyone else rode a pony

At times he will choose not to join in- since being at my parents' house, there is always an activity to do with Papa Nick- and later regret his decision.  Trash Train will come and go and then he wants to join in, or Asher will help Papa Nick make his mocha and once it's made, Benjamin will want to help.  I can see my dad making efforts to include him, to ask him multiple times, but he'll often say no.  This is a challenge for me, to make sure I seek him out for attention and time and snuggles, because Asher is so eager to engage and quick to give affection.

I tell Benjamin I love him, and he always has a funny response.  He'll say, "I love you when I wake up in the morning."  Or, when I say I love him a lot, he will say, "and I love you a little bit."

He speaks in a kind of sing-song voice, which makes it hard to understand him sometimes.  He persists in mispronouncing words- he skips any "s" before a consonant, and now doesn't say the consonant before an "l".  So playground is more like "clayground" and flip-flop is "clip-clop."  When we try to correct him, he just talks around the word we are trying to correct.  I get the feeling we're going to be going for speech therapy in about 6 months.

I worry that this sounds too negative, when he is a sweet and wonderful boy.  He loves Charlotte, and will always give her hugs and kisses, and make her laugh.  He is funny, and silly, and easy to be with.  He hates too much attention- he told us no getting excited when he does something we like, no clapping, and he once said he thought my mom and I were laughing at him when we were laughing about something else altogether. Also- He is fully potty-trained now, and even stays dry overnight! (Although we still put him in a pull-up just in case.)

His favorite TV show... varies.  He will watch almost anything, unfortunately.  He was even watching "My Little Pony" for a little- yuck!  He is becoming a pickier eater, although he does love almost all fruit, and often asks for fruit as a snack.  He likes turkey-cheese sandwiches for lunch, and will eat pasta for any meal.  He loves his blankie (said "lankie") and needs it to sleep.  Benjamin loves vehicles, and will always pick up a toy car or truck to play with.  He has told me he wants to be a garbage man when he grows up, I think mainly so that he can ride around on a huge, yellow truck everyday.  Living with my parents, who get a newspaper everyday, he always picks up the auto sale section to look at pictures of cars.


Asher continues to be a social, talkative little guy.  He is effusive in his affection, and very attached.  He has started to get upset if we do things without him- last week, Benjamin and I went to the grocery store while Asher napped, and Asher made me promise to take him all by himself another day.

Asher is very happy at school, and really likes his teachers.  This year, he is able to accurately tell me what he did at school during the day, even if I don't always believe him.  On Wednesday he told me that he ate pancakes with chocolate syrup at school.  I thought, that's nuts!  But it was true- they made crepes and ate them with chocolate syrup on top.  He knows his friends' names and asks about them.

Asher still takes a nap in the afternoon, with very rare exceptions.  I'm not sure if it is his thumb-sucking or just that he's a good sleeper, but he pretty much never has trouble going to sleep if given the opportunity.
pony ride at the zoo

Asher's an interesting mix of sweet, sensitive, and helpful with devious and trouble-making.  If Asher is left alone in a room, he will make all kinds of trouble.  One day he went up to his room here, which was my room from 1997 on, and "tried to make a sand castle."  This involved finding a very old bottle of lube in the nightstand and pouring it on the floor and piling little pebbles on top.  Later he tried to make a sand castle again, this time using Cetaphil cream.  He is pretty good at making trouble, so he will slip away for just enough time to make a mess, but not long enough for me to notice something is amiss (I admit, with 3 children, I am not good at keeping track of where everyone is at all times).  Often he will come and get me after he's done something he knows he shouldn't and tell me that he made a mess or "did something."  I am not great at punishing these behaviors, because they are not entirely unlike things I did as a child.  And it's not entirely his fault that he gets into things- he is left unsupervised in a home that is not even remotely childproof.

At other times, he is enormously helpful.  He loves to help me bake, or help Papa Nick with jobs around the house, or make sure that Charlotte has everything she needs at bath or bed time.  He can be so polite, saying "thank you" and "you're welcome." He's shy around people, and will speak quietly or hide behind me rather than ask for what he wants.

He is still not even close to being potty-trained, and we seem to have given up all hope of it happening. We're not even trying.  Every time we try to get him to even SIT on the toilet he goes ballistic, so we don't talk about it.  He is one of maybe 2 children in his class at school still in diapers.  The school director assured me that eventually he will be potty trained, but it is hard to see that happening.  I really don't have it in me, with everything else going on, to force potty training.  We are just trying to enjoy our lives as much as we can, and right now that doesn't include weekends at home for potty training boot camp, or all-out fights over putting his tush on a toilet.

Asher's favorite foods are peanut butter & jelly, any kind of pasta, baby carrots, string cheese, crackers, and anything sweet.  He likes, and will try, almost every vegetable we give him, but seems to dislike almost every fruit, other than grapes, watermelon, and oranges (or dried fruits, which he will eat to excess if given the opportunity).  He has a HUGE sweet tooth and loves dessert.

His favorite TV show is probably Agent Oso, but he will often watch whatever Benjamin puts on.  He likes to read books, too.  His comfort object is his "Tushie Bear," which is a Pooh bear he stole from my in-laws' house- so named because I have a bear named Tush who I sleep with at night.  He loves hugs, snuggles, and kisses, and sucking his thumb.

Half a cake for a half birthday

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Charlotte: 9 months old

My beautiful girl is 9 months old today!  She gets more delicious and wonderful by the day, even if she is no longer interested in sleeping- day or night.  What happened to that amazing sleeper I brought home from the hospital?

What you can't see in these pictures is the color of her eyes- they are a grayish-blue, more gray on the inside with a dark blue rim to the iris.  The color is beautiful! I guess the recessive blue-eye gene both Eric and I received from our fathers has come out in her.

Height and Weight: We had an early 9 month visit with the doctor, and Charlotte is 22 lbs, 8 oz (96th percentile) and 28 inches tall (60-something percentile, but I think she might actually be taller).
climbing the scale at the doctor's office

Clothing size: I pulled out the box of 12 month and 12-18 month clothes- which fit her nicely.  She is adorable in everything!  She's still in Size 4 diapers.

Milestones: Charlotte is standing independently for a few seconds at a time.  Yesterday she took a small step on her own before falling down.  I can see that she really, really wants to walk.

Charlotte also climbs up the stairs by herself!  We haven't put the gate up at my parents' house (we need to do it ASAP), and yesterday Asher came into the kitchen and said, "Mommy! Come look! Baby Charlotte went up the stairs all by herself!"  She is so proud of herself.

It also seems like she has her first word: kitty.  She doesn't say it clearly so that anyone else would understand it, but she says "kheee" whenever she sees one of the (many) cats in the house.

She still has zero teeth, and not even a hint of one coming in.  The doctor confirmed this.  Oh well, it isn't stopping her from eating everything that comes her way.

Outings and Adventures: We had a lot of travel in the last month.  We took our Cape Cod vacation, and went via Maine.  We spent 3 nights at Memere and Pepere's and the kids got to see their cousins.  We went to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, which we really liked.  Then on to Cape Cod, then home with a stop for dinner at our friends' in New Jersey.
Charlotte at the Yellow Submarine in the children's museum

Routine/Schedule: Oh my goodness.  Sleepless.  With all of our traveling from place to place and sticking her in one random room after another, she isn't sleeping much, or well.  And neither am I!  She hasn't been napping too well either- today she didn't nap AT ALL.  Come on baby, mommy needs a break!

She's eating 3 meals a day and some snacks in addition to breastfeeding.  She loves her food!  I know the philosophy of food is "food before one is just for fun," but she gets hungry and fussy if we don't feed her solid food, and she will eat a fair amount at meals.

Her breastfeeding isn't on a schedule.  Some days she loves to nurse and will nurse a lot; some nights she will nurse frequently; some days she only nurses 2 or 3 times.

Looking at what I wrote, I would say- we have no schedule and very little routine.  Most of what we do is based around what her brothers are doing, poor girl.  I wonder sometimes if I am doing her a disservice by not having a schedule, but she seems to be thriving, and so happy.  The perfect third child!
beautiful girl, watching her brothers play

Favorite food: This is impossible to answer.  Charlotte loves all food.  She has eaten turkey burger, brisket, and kohlrabi.  Like any child, she loves breakfast foods like scrambled eggs and pancakes.  I wouldn't say breast milk is her favorite food anymore, because she is disinterested in breastfeeding if something is going on, but she will always accept a cracker.  She's generally easy to please when it comes to feeding time!

Favorite person: She still loves everyone.  This morning we brought her into our bed, and the boys were already in there.  When she saw them, she let out a squeal of delight, and gave them a huge grin.  So maybe she loves her brothers best of all!  She is becoming a love bug, and gives hugs and snuggles.

Charlotte gets more beautiful by the day.  Sometimes I can't believe she's still a baby, because in some ways she wants to be just like her brothers.  At other times, I remember she's still just a little thing.  I can't believe her first year is passing us by so quickly; it seems like just yesterday she wasn't here.  I took her into the dressing room with me at Banana Republic today, and thought about how happy I am to have a daughter- hoping that one day we'll shop together just the way I shop with my mom.  I still can't believe my good luck!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

tough times

Our housemates

Nothing truly horrendous is happening, fortunately.  Every time I tell someone that things aren't great right now, I feel I need to make this disclaimer.  But right now, it's tough.

We've been living at my parents for just over a week.  Charlotte has been waking up twice a night since we left for vacation almost 3 weeks ago.  Eric and I were sharing a double bed, with our two cats, and not getting any sleep between Charlotte's wakings and Benjamin's night wakings.  Patience is short!  My parents have been fairly tolerant, considering they went from a quiet home with two adults and two cats to a madhouse with 4 adults, 3 children, and 4 cats.

We were hoping that we would be here a month, but now it's looking like longer.  It is embarrassing and not particularly flattering to us or our contractor, but for some reason, our contractor thought he could do the renovation without a permit, and we thought that was ok.  The more I talk about the situation with people, the more ridiculous it seems that we thought we didn't need one.  In any case, the process will take 2-3 weeks, and in the meantime, the township has ordered we cease work.  There is no kitchen, no running water on the first floor, and dust everywhere- so that is to say, unlivable.  We're here for the duration.
Asher at the playground near my parents'
Benjamin at the playground
The boys are loving school, which is great.  But the days at home have been difficult.  Plenty of whining from them, not such great napping.  I haven't had a moment to myself, other than work, in weeks.  I'm feeling totally drained, and not sure what to do for myself, or how/when to do it.

In general, the times where I'm not posting much on the blog are the times when things are the hardest.  I often sit down to write something and never finish, or don't write at all- I don't want to dwell on the negative.  But this is part of life.  Sometimes things are not as wonderful or fun as others, and we are fortunate in so many ways: that we have the financial resources to renovate and make our home into a better place for us, that we have family nearby who we get along with and will take us in.
Turkey burger. Yummy.
Asher and his bear ready for Yom Kippur
My dad is having a great time having us here, and has all kinds of rituals and routines he includes the boys in, which they love.  They get the newspaper in the morning, they help him put on his belt (now they are asking me for belts), they help him make his mocha, and they do "trash train," which is taking out the trash.  I hope that in the future, the boys look back on this time as "that really fun time we stayed with Meema and Papa Nick!" but I'm pretty sure that we'll all be ready for us to move back into our own home when the time comes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cape Cod 2013

Benjamin at the pond

We are wrapping up our annual vacation to Cape Cod.  Every year it is different as our children grow and change.  This year was especially difficult for us because it was our first visit since my grandparents' deaths, and this was their house.  They used to come every summer, all summer, and would be here with us when we came.  They stopped coming for the summer after the boys were born, but the house is still filled with memories of them and their things- one night I wanted to go get a pair of socks out of my grandfather's sock drawer.
drum circle
beautiful face
another beautiful face
and yet another beautiful face!

Horsing around at dinner
This year we made new memories... some of them not as wonderful, and a lot of them funny.  Our two biggest mishaps-

We knew we were going to celebrate Rosh Hashanah while on the Cape.  My dad found a reform service a few miles away for us to attend.  My mom brought the bread machine to make a challah.  Tuesday night, we prepared a lovely Rosh Hashanah dinner with steak, potatoes, and a beautiful challah.  We were setting the table when my dad said, "Rosh Hashanah starts tomorrow night!"  We were having a "folie à trois," where my mom, my sister, and I all thought that it started Tuesday.  We were shocked.  Why my dad waited until all the food was cooked to say something, I'm not sure... but we had a good laugh about it and went ahead with the dinner, complete with candles and prayers.

Friday night, our last night, we had our annual lobster dinner.  We usually have our dinner out at the seafood restaurant on the pier, but decided to have it at the house this time- which meant bringing home live lobsters and cooking them ourselves.  I was acting very brave about it, saying "No problem, I've done it before, I can do it!" (I have boiled lobsters before; I'm not fond of it but I've done it.)  My sister and my mom came home with the lobsters and the water was boiling, and I marched over and pulled one out to put in the pot.  And then it squirmed.  And then I dropped it, on its back, on the kitchen floor, where Asher was playing the drums on a cardboard box.  The lobster was on the floor, with all its bug-legs flailing, and Asher looked at it in horror, and then started screaming in terror!  He was hysterical- understandably.  I grabbed Asher and we rushed out of the kitchen and I held him close while he cried.  Aunt Elana did the dirty deed of putting all the lobsters in the pot since it turns out I'm a big wimp.  Whatever money we saved by boiling our lobsters at home I will now more than make up for in paying for therapy for my psychologically scarred child.

We decided not to bring pack n plays for the boys- 3 pack n plays is just too many- and that they would sleep in twin beds.  The first night was a bit of a fight to get Benjamin to sleep, but he did.  Both Eric and I were a little emotional when we checked on them before bed and saw our two little boys fast asleep in big boy beds.  Sometimes it seems things take forever to change, and sometimes it feels like it's all happening too quickly.

The boys were easier this year, which made things smoother with my sister, who is accustomed to peace, quiet, and adult conversation.  Both boys enjoyed playing in the pond and with sand on the beach, although they refused to get wet in the ocean.  Charlotte also loved the pond water and splish-splashed happily.
Asher in the pond on a perfect day
Papa Nick with Charlotte at the pond
Charlotte in a big kid chair

We had one absolutely beautiful, perfect-weather beach day.
Meema and her granddaughter reading a magazine

Beautiful girl in her high holidays dress

Our vacation was too short for me.  We were really only on the Cape for 5 full days, and one of those days was Rosh Hashanah (which fortunately fell on the only truly rainy and cold day).  We did manage to squeeze in many of our favorite traditions, although I think there is consensus that we didn't eat enough ice cream!  My sister and I went out for several runs, which was a good balance to all the dessert we consumed.
boys in action

Now we're home again- sort of.  We got home very late Saturday night/early Sunday morning to a destroyed house.  Work has started on our kitchen, and the house is covered and dust and has no kitchen.  I was willing to live with no kitchen and use only our toaster or microwave to cook, but when I realized that the entire house was covered in dust, which Charlotte would crawl in and eat, that was it.  We woke up at 7 and were in the car in our pj's at 7:45 to head to my parents' for breakfast.  My parents have graciously offered to let us stay here for the duration.  We're doing everything we can to be good guests and not wear out our welcome, since work will go on for 6-7 weeks at our house.  I'm really looking forward to being in our own home with a shiny new kitchen, but the interim is tough.  The kids are having trouble with the transition home from vacation, and there are lots of tantrums.  Charlotte is not thrilled with sleeping in a pack n play in various unfamiliar rooms, and is up at least once, if not 2 times, a night.