Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

I better hurry up and write about Christmas before it's the new year!

We had a lovely Christmas up in Maine.  The boys were incredibly excited to see their grandparents, see Santa Claus, and open presents.

Christmas Eve, we went to Eric's grandparents' house.  Santa usually makes an appearance there, and Asher kept running from the front door to the back door to the window to see if he was there yet.
Pepere and Asher
Memere and Benjamin
Charlotte by the tree. She was posing and looking adorable.
I was pretty sure that when Santa arrived, Asher would be frightened, panic, and refuse to talk to him.  Instead, he ran up and gave him a hug and was happy to sit on his lap.
Benjamin and Charlotte weren't as comfortable with Santa.  After Santa left, Asher tried to look out the window to see the reindeer.  I think all the adults loved watching him be so fascinated and excited about Santa.

The adults had a Yankee Swap, and Asher selected everyone's gift for them, carried gifts over, and exchanged gifts for everyone.  He also picked up all the wrapping paper.  It was adorable and helpful!

At home, we put on our Christmas pajamas, and I had to convince Asher to go to sleep.  He wanted to wait up all night to see Santa again!  Instead we left Santa a glass of milk and a brownie.
Christmas morning, we opened our stockings and ate a big breakfast.  Then it was 10 o'clock.  The boys started crying that they wanted to "go somewhere" and "what we gonna DO today?"  I told them there was nowhere to go and nothing to do, and that we were staying in all day.  This didn't go over well.  I dealt with it by taking out my library book and reading it, because I was going to relax, dammit!
Opening stockings

Our family. No cooperation from our children.

That night, their cousins came over for a big Christmas dinner and opening the rest of their presents.
the boys' big gift- a bounce house for our house!

Memere, Charlotte, and Benjamin

all the cousins
The boys loved seeing their cousins, and had a great time playing together.  They were sad to go, but also happy to get home again.  

Since Christmas, Charlotte got sick, Memere got bronchitis, and Eric's brother and our sister-in-law had their baby- a boy named Chandler, born on December 27.  Now Eric's parents have 8 grandchildren!  Unbelievable.  

I told the boys we're in detox now that we're home.  They asked what detox meant. I told them- only 1 dessert a day.  But they seem to be adjusting well, and their appetites (for non-dessert items) have returned.  They're sleeping well with less excitement in their lives!  

Christmas is fun- but exhausting.  Good thing I have a whole year to recuperate!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Charlotte Eve: ONE YEAR OLD

Dear Charlotte Eve,
Looking at your face tonight as I nursed you before bed- I cannot believe our first year together has passed.

I remember your whirlwind labor, and the doctor telling me, "Look down! There's your baby!"  You didn't look anything like I had expected.  I thought you'd be small, like your brothers, and bald, like your brothers.  I told everyone, "If she hadn't come out of me, I wouldn't believe that she's mine!"

You still don't look the way I imagined my daughter would- I thought I would have a curly-haired redhead with green eyes, and here you are, with your stick-straight brown hair and blue eyes!  And you're oh so much better than anything I could have dreamed of.

You have made our lives immeasurably richer.  I was anxious before you came that our family would change, and that your brothers wouldn't think I loved them anymore.  Instead I've watched your brothers love you and care for you in a way I couldn't have imagined they would.  Without you, our family didn't feel complete, and now that you're here, we are a family.

You've tried so hard to grow so fast this year.  From barely dropping an ounce as a newborn and weighing 11 lbs at 1 month old, to eating my sandwiches at 6 months old and walking before you were 10 months old, you always seemed to be a 3 year-old in a baby's body.

I always wanted a baby girl.  I always hoped we'd have a relationship like I have with my own mother.  And while we haven't really shopped together yet, or talked about life's ups and downs, I've felt we were connected from the start.  From the very first night of your life, when I leapt from the hospital bed in the middle of the night and bolted to the door to check on you in the nursery, only to find the nurse rolling your bassinet down the hallway for you to be fed, I have felt that you and I know each other well.

What a pleasure you have been this year- other than the fact that you gave up sleeping through the night around 4 months old.  You have an easygoing nature, and such a happy smile.  Meema always tells me you'll be trouble, because you smile at everyone you meet.  Just yesterday you ran through the rest stop in Massachusetts smiling and waving at every man you met.  Oh, boy.  You're fearless at trying new things, which has resulted in a few mishaps over the months (like the time you accepted a wheat thin from your brother and choked!).

I love your little smile and silly giggle.  I love that you love to see me every morning.  I love that you wave goodnight to your brothers and daddy every night.  I love your wide-legged walk, your big blue-gray eyes.  I love the way you suck your thumb and snuggle your Kitty Cat at night and at naps.  I love the way you scream for food when you're hungry, and hum with happiness when you eat. I love the way you pat me softly while you nurse. I love the way you take on the world- like it's here for your fun and pleasure.

I hope the years to come allow you to stay the way you are: wide-eyed with wonder and excitement, loving and lovable, curious and interested.  I have loved meeting you, and getting to know you this past year, and I'm excited to find out what the future holds.  You are my love, my kitty cat, my sweet petunia.

Many kisses and hugs,
Your Mommy
Happy 1st Birthday to my littlest angel

Sunday, December 15, 2013

time as a single mommy

Hurray! We are halfway through our time without Eric.  In some ways it's gotten easier, but the boys tell me everyday that they miss daddy.  Asher wants to make sure that even if daddy is gone, they're still buddies, and both boys want to be sure daddy is coming home again.  We count the days.
my adorable snack stealer

This has shown me that all single mommies are to be admired.  I know we are beyond blessed to have three healthy children and a beautiful home, but if you will allow me, I will now complain for a little. Here are some of the highlights of the difficulties:

On Thursday I had to get all 3 kids to school by 9, drive to New Jersey to work, then I worked for 8 hours and saw 9 clients in that time, drove home, and walked in as my parents were walking out (lucky for me, my mom picked the kids up from school and fed them dinner).  I had all 3 kids to bathe and get in bed, dishes to do, laundry to do... I sat down with some dinner at 8:30, just in time to go back to bed.

On Friday morning, before 8:30 am, I had a major poop blowout from Charlotte (she had pooped up to her neck!  Fortunately my dad was in the shower and I handed her in for a clean-up); Benjamin went to pee in the potty and missed, peeing all over his leg, pajamas, and sock; and Asher pooped in his diaper but I didn't know it and pulled his diaper off, dropping a turd on to Benjamin's backpack.  Asher then yelled, "Mommy! There's poop on Benjamin's backpack!" and Benjamin, who was in the next room started yelling, "There's poop on my backpack!?!?"  Oy.

In the midst of this, I have cooked pancakes twice and two good dinners.  Tonight was a little rough- Benjamin got a fever of 102, and Charlotte was irritable (please don't let her get sick, too!).  I ended up cooking dinner like this:
with Charlotte in the Ergo.  I was overwhelmed by their unhappiness and the fact that I felt helpless in helping them, and Asher walked into the kitchen and started pulling out plates and silverware.

He counted out dishes for himself and siblings and loaded them up in the toy shopping cart.  He wheeled the cart into the dining room and set the table.  It made my night- I felt my heart bursting with pride.  I might be overwhelmed at the moment, but I must be doing something right.

I made a great dinner, with creamed spinach, sweet potato fries, and homemade chicken nuggets.  The kids all devoured the spinach and I had to beg them to eat just a little chicken.

I also made 2 batches of brownies for the cookie exchange I went to this afternoon while all 3 kids napped and my mom babysat.
So we've had our moments- a lunch at Ikea where everyone was wonderful and the people around us complimented the boys on their behavior; a walk in the ice this morning;
and more special moments at breakfast time with Papa Nick.
2 1/2 days until Eric comes home.  It can't come fast enough!

Friday, December 13, 2013

snow day (belated)

We have had some snow.  It snowed Sunday, but by the time naps were over, it was dark.  Then it snowed Tuesday- school was canceled, I canceled all my clients, and we had our first snow day!

We played with our neighbors Paden and Luca.  First we played at Paden's house, and then had lunch.
lunch with friends
After lunch, we all got in our snow clothes- or as close as we could get, considering that I played the odds this year and didn't buy any snow pants or boots for the boys.  Charlotte took a nap, and I took all 4 of the 3 year-old boys out to play.  We had a mini snowball fight, and then picked up sleds and went sledding.  I was a little afraid of giving someone else's kid a concussion or broken arm from going downhill, but the path was so worn that we didn't get much speed.
fun in the snow

Then we split up, and I took my boys home, and Paden's mom came and took home Paden and Luca. We rushed in the house, took off all of our wet clothes, and then I made hot chocolate for my guys.
Mr. Sweet Tooth
Asher and Charlotte napped, and I ran errands- if you can believe that after all the snow, by 2:30 it was clear and sunny and the roads were completely snow-free.  I probably should have gone to work... but instead I had a special day with my boys.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

We're back in our house, and it's almost done.  We need countertops, and a sink and dishwasher, but it's livable.  After almost a year in boxes, we've unpacked our nice china and all of our bowls and dishes.  Our dining room is beginning to more closely resemble a dining room more than a refugee camp with dishes and food crammed into every nook and cranny.  It feels good to walk into our house now, and that makes me happy.  Yesterday I bought the kids a new toy off of a yardsale group on Facebook, and when the lady came to deliver it she commented on how nice our house is... and I could believe she meant it!

We've had some trouble with the transition.  Benjamin has gone back to having accidents (poop) pretty much everyday.  Asher has been having tantrums.  For the past week, I've felt as though I want to tear my hair out every day that I have all 3 kids by myself.  It takes forever for us to get out the door to go anywhere, and then there are tantrums when it's time to leave wherever we went.  Eric is leaving the country for a week, and I am extremely nervous about how I will handle things when there's no spouse around to share the load!  I do not know how single parents do it- every parent needs a break.

We're nearing Charlotte's first birthday, and I just can't believe it.  The year has flown by, and she is such a person now, it is hard to imagine that one year ago we hadn't even met.  She is big, funny, and curious.  She has no idea that she's not even 1, and thinks she can do anything a 3 year-old can do.

Here are some photos from the past week or so:
Asher clearly enjoying being center stage at Shabbat at school

Benjamin, the very serious Pilgrim, at his school Thanksgiving Feast.  You know your kids go to a Jewish pre-school when they get bagels as part of their Thanksgiving meal.

A little bit of static while swinging outside

The silly monkey- she was trying on a hat and my timing was off.

Contemplating the Hanukkah blessings

Benjamin with a bag on his head.  Asher is in front of him, pretending to be scared, Charlotte is watching them like they're crazy.

Asher and his friend Maddie having some quality time together

Benjamin in his train conductor hat (so cute!) with their Hanukkah gift- a pirate ship!  I have since heard a lot of "Yo Ho Mateys Away!"
In general, we are all well- even on our most difficult days, I feel fortunate for all that we have.  I hear about, and work with, people who don't have food or are unable to buy gifts for their children in this holiday season.  We are so lucky to have more than we can eat, and all that we could ask for.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hanukkah 2013

It's not over yet- and I still have 2 big gifts to give the boys (and almost nothing for Charlotte!), but here are some photos of our holiday so far:
First night, with Meema
The second night of Hanukkah was also Thanksgiving.  Eric had the camera, but good pictures were hard to come by.
Second night, at Meema's
The third night was also Friday night.  We had Aunt Elana and her boyfriend Chris here, and Meema and Papa Nick.  It was our first big meal back in our house, and it really felt like home.
Aunt Elana with the candles and Meema with my pumpkin
Asher and Aunt Elana lighting candles
It was Chris's first Hanukkah- he seemed to enjoy the latkes and hopefully also our company. We liked having him here, and I hope it is his first Hanukkah of many.

Saturday night we were home, and it was just us.  Eric and I had a date night after the boys were in bed.

Tonight we went to a friend's house for a Hanukkah party.  Or friend and neighbor, Hila, made latkes and they were delicious!  I am not sure how many Eric ate, but I definitely saw him eat at least 4.  Hila paid me a huge compliment and told me that I am her only American friend who knows how to cook a good meal.  I am so flattered!
all our menorahs
We're having a little bit of trouble with gratitude this year.  Asher seems to think he is entitled to presents each night, despite my having told him that he's not, and then is not grateful for the things he does get.  My sister gave him a cowboy hat from Texas, which he rejected because it wasn't wrapped, so I took it away from him.  He later asked for it, said he liked it, and thanked her for it, but I wasn't pleased.

Tonight, after the Hanukkah party, I told the boys I had a present for them, but it wasn't wrapped (I had some books I had chosen for "book night.").  I went upstairs to get them, and came down with them hidden behind my back.  What looks of excitement and expectation!  Then I handed them over, and their faces fell.  Both boys told me that a present is TOYS and not books.

Where does this come from?  Neither Eric nor I are entitled in this way.  We always express gratitude for things, and I often comment on things that are nice and not a "right"- someone giving us a sample at Costco, holding the door open, saying hello.  I have always had an appreciation for all these small things.

I'm also not sure how to change this.  I have always hoped to lead by example, but that doesn't seem to be working.  I have corrected both boys every time they demand a gift or don't say thank you for something they have been given.  Is this just their age?  It just makes me unhappy, when I know how carefully others have chosen gifts for them.

He is also obsessed with Christmas, much to my embarrassment.  Apparently at school last week, our friend was in their class talking to the kids about her job, and she had the kids talking about their feelings.  Asher said he felt happy when he sees Santa Claus!  I am mortified- it is a Jewish pre-school and the teachers know we are raising the kids Jewish.  On top of that- what? Asher hasn't seen "Santa" since 2011, and he wouldn't even sit on his lap.  I hope that this is a passing phase, perhaps related to the holiday season.  Otherwise... oy.

And I'll end with this beautiful girl: