Thursday, January 30, 2014

Boo Buddy

I get more one-on-one time with Benjamin than with Asher or Charlotte- every afternoon, when his siblings nap, Benjamin and I get to have our special time together.

He's always been a poor napper- he was the first to give up his morning nap, and now he's the first to give up napping altogether.  He takes an afternoon nap 1 or 2 days a week, and for the most part, we've given up trying to get him to rest.
shoveling snow
Some afternoons, I tell him it's mandatory quiet time.  He usually sits down with the iPad and watches some shows while I either get something done or watch TV of my own choosing.  But some days, we have outings or play time just the two of us.  We run errands, or go on a walk or jog (sometimes ending at the playground), read books, or cook in the kitchen.
at the playground during no-nap
He surprises me with his affection for his little sister.  He says all the time that he loves us.  He's grown attached to more and more comfort objects, and he carries them around the house with him.  It used to just be his "snuggle blankie," but now includes his blankie, his "fire doggie" (a stuffed dalmation from Ikea), and now his panda (a small beanie baby panda we got at the zoo in DC).  He has to sleep with them, and he lugs them all over the house all day long.  When he gets tired, he balls them up and lies down on top of them to rest.

There are days where he is in a foul mood.  He only wants "nuffin'" to eat, and he will lie on the floor and flail if you come too close.  But he is quick to calm down.  At meals, he'll inch his chair closer to ours until they touch, and sit next to us while we eat.  Or even sit on Eric's lap to eat!
At school, with the rocket he built
I love his face, his funny voice, the feeling of his little hand in mine.  I love how every time we go to Trader Joe's he asks for a banana and then cookies and I always have to hold a half-eaten banana while he eats the cookies.  I love that when he gets up in the morning, he comes to our bed and insists we snuggle before we do anything else.  I love his tiny white teeth and his adorable smile. I love how cute his tushie looks in his little boy underwear.  I love how he can diligently see a task through, and how his mind is always working to figure things out.  Where Asher is a smooth talker ("Oh, mommy, you look really pretty in that dress!"), Benjamin tells it like it is ("What that mommy? A sweater? I think it's too big on you!").  I love his observations on life and the world- he always notices something out the window that I wouldn't see without him.  I love his big, serious eyes.

I love you, my sweet boy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

snow day again

A lot of snow for a little girl

The boys got out of school at noon today- I canceled or rescheduled all of my clients because between the weather and the fact that I lost my voice, I knew I wasn't going in.

The snow piled up so quickly!  Charlotte and I went to the post office and grocery store around 11, and then got in the car at 11:30 and the roads had gotten markedly worse.  I called Eric and told him to come to the door so we could go get the kids from school a little early.  On our way to school, there were already cars stopped and stuck in the middle of the roads.  We live uphill from the school, so I began to worry about getting home again.

We almost didn't make it!  1 block from our house, a car stopped in the middle of the street.  I tried to go around it but couldn't fit, and then she started slipping backwards towards us- we were mere inches from having an accident.  Eric hopped out of the car to help her, which was very nice of him, and I reversed down the hill and drove around the block.  With Eric's helpful advice ("Put the car in first!") I made it home, and he walked home to meet us.  We ran inside for lunch and hot cocoa.

After naps we suited up to play in the snow.  I managed to buy both boys snow pants, down coats, and nice boots, but forgot warm mittens or gloves!  So everyone got cold pretty quickly.  Charlotte seemed happy to see the snow and touch it.
yummy snow
But it was so deep that she couldn't move around much.
Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!
The boys played in their play house and had fun until their fingers froze.
Then we came in and I made popcorn, and we sat on the couch and watched Frozen and ate snacks (Charlotte got Pirate's Booty, or as Asher charmingly calls it, Pirate's Booby).  It was a nice moment, sitting together and watching a movie, even if Charlotte doesn't sit for long.  Asher seemed really entranced with the movie.

Eric cooked us dinner while we watched, and then made a fire in the fireplace to end the evening.
staying warm by the fire
In the end, we maximized our snow day activities!  Tomorrow we pull out the bouncy house to get their energy out, since it is supposed to be really cold outside, and the snow is no good for snow balls or snowmen.

Monday, January 20, 2014

parent-teacher conference and mitzvah project

This morning Eric and I had a parent-teacher conference with the boys' teacher, Miss Susie, and her new assistant, Miss Alex.

I was so proud of my guys! Miss Susie and Miss Alex were overwhelmingly complimentary about our boys, telling us how wonderful they are to have in class, how they are sweet and snuggly, good with their friends, and good listeners. I am just so pleased that they are good friends and classmates- and it makes me feel good, because I must be doing something right.

I am very sensitive to social slights. I think it comes from my time in Texas, when I was always on the outside of any desirable social group.  There aren't really cliques in my life anymore, but I worry all the time, "what if nobody likes me?  What if nobody likes my children?"  I'm just not one of those people who is able to say, "Well, if they don't like me, that's their problem, because I'm wonderful!"

That is to say, when I found out that one of the boys' classmates had a birthday party over the weekend and they weren't invited, I started to worry.  Are my guys not nice to him? Is he not nice to them?  Do my children have enemies at this young age? (Leaping to conclusions, maybe?) Benjamin had mentioned to me once that this boy is "a mean guy," and that he didn't want the boy at his birthday party.  The vindictive mommy part of me said, "ok, this guy didn't invite my kids, now I have the perfect excuse not to invite him to our party!"

At the conference, I asked the teacher if everything is ok between my boys and this other boy.  She paused and then told us that he's been having some difficulty at home, and that he has some trouble at school that they're working on.  It's not my boys.  Then I felt bad.  So we'll just have to be the bigger people and invite him to our party even if we weren't invited to his.  This will be a lesson.

After conferences, the boys, Charlotte, and I went to do a mitzvah (it was MLK day).  We went to an assisted living in a town nearby and made no-sew fleece blankets.  They were more interested in the snacks on a nearby table than in the blanket-making, but they were mildly helpful.  Then we walked the blanket across the home to give to wheelchair-bound residents who get cold.
Asher and Maddie getting their blanket ready to give away.
Walking blankets across the residence
Holding blankets 
Asher giving his blanket to a woman
Asher wasn't quite clear on why he needed to give the blanket to someone else.  Now I've promised to go to the fabric store and buy more fleece so we can make them blankets at home.

After our mitzvah, we went out with Maddie and her mommy for lunch at the Front Street Fountain.  We had a delicious, if not healthy, lunch, and all 5 of our children were wonderfully behaved.  Lunch ended with ice cream sundaes.
At the counter
 Somehow, these adventures didn't serve to exhaust anyone- no one napped, not even Charlotte!  Tomorrow is likely going to be a snow day, so more time with my angels.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Asher: Potty Trained!

Asher modeling his measure tape, which our contractor gave him

Hurray!  After almost a year of agonizing and tantrums in front of the potty, Asher is potty trained!

In Maine, we warned Asher that when we got home, his diapers were going.  He didn't argue or seem upset about it.  My mom took a collection of 60 lollipops from her friend Barbara (it was a gift that said, "Turning 60 sucks!") and we showed Asher the picture and told him the lollipops were waiting for him.

On December 28, we changed him out of his nighttime diaper and put him into underwear. We didn't have many weekend plans, so figured we'd stay close to him in case of accidents.

That Saturday he had one accident, and held his pee for hours.  He peed in the shower in the morning, and finally, at night, on the potty.  He seemed to have a lot of trouble letting go and allowing himself to pee, but he was great at holding it.

Sometime late that week, it just seemed to click.  Wednesday night (January 1st) he had several accidents, and Thursday the 2nd, he had one accident at school, and since then, nothing.

We were rewarding every pee with a lollipop, but then he caught on to how to get himself to pee, and started peeing about 6 times a day.  So we had to scale back rewards to a jelly bean or a chocolate chip for a pee and a lollipop or bigger piece of candy for a poop.

He's stayed dry through all his naps, even ones of 3 or 4 hours.  A couple of nights he was also dry, but not every night- and I don't expect him to stay dry each and every night at this point anyway.

After a week in underwear at school, his teacher threw a "Potty Party" to celebrate everyone in the class being potty trained and wearing underwear to school.  As an overachiever myself, I would never have guessed that my child would be the last in his class to do anything- but better late than never! I am also looking forward to saving all that money on diapers.

In the end, I am shocked by how easy this was.  I anticipated such drama and unhappiness for all of us!  I've made sure to give him as many hugs and kisses as I can, so that he knows he's still my "baby."  He is very proud of himself, too-- as he should be!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Charlotte Eve: 12 month well visit

waiting for her shots and looking disheveled

We had Charlotte's (rescheduled) 12 month well visit today, even though she is now 12 months and almost 3 weeks old.  She was:
30" tall (64%ile)
25 lbs, 13 oz (98%ile)
Her weight was over 1 lb more than at her sick visit 2 weeks ago, so I am inclined to think it's not 100% accurate; in any case, even at 24 lbs, 4 oz (her weight 2 weeks ago), she was in the 94th percentile, so not exactly wasting away.

The doctor said- she is perfect.  She is doing extremely well- meeting or exceeding all of her expected milestones.  I'm so proud of her, she is just an amazing little girl, and I love watching people notice it.  I know it sounds very braggy and smug, but she is a joy, and everyone who meets her is taken with her.  She has such a playful spirit- it is impossible to be in a bad mood with her by your side.

She is absolutely the best little girl in the whole wide world, my beautiful Charlotte Eve.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Disney on Ice

Today we took the kids- all 3 of them- to see Disney on Ice.  We've never done anything like this; we haven't taken them to a show, the circus, or anything like that.  We're not especially into Disney and they haven't watched many Disney movies, so they're not familiar with the characters.

That said- they loved it!  As soon as the lights went down and the skating started, they were rapt.  All three kids had their mouths hanging open, eyes glued to the ice.  I actually teared up, it was just one of those special moments.  I would never want to see Disney on Ice, and yet I loved every second.
Charlotte even enjoyed it, dancing a little on our laps and clapping for the skaters at the end of the different numbers.  She won't remember it- but she had fun!
Mommy, Charlotte, Kitty Cat
We had great seats, courtesy of a friend of our friends.  We could see everything, even expressions on the skaters' faces.  What a wonderful "first" for us.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

I prefer even numbers, so I am kind of happy to be back in an even-numbered year.

More seriously- 2013 saw fewer changes than 2012, and that's ok.  I think we did a pretty good job of adjusting to life as a family of 5.  It was significantly easier to add a third than it was to go from zero to two!  I have so enjoyed watching my big guys be big brothers to my little girl, and now that she adores them, too... it is wonderful to see.

The hardest part of the year was the loss of my beloved grandparents and Pierrette.  I still miss them all so much.  I think of them often.  Just the other day I had the urge to call my grandma and reminisce about our trip through France when I was 11 and what a pain in the ass I had been.  It was hard to remind myself I couldn't call her.  It was tough going through Thanksgiving without them, as they were always with us on that holiday.  I'm planning to buy a sign for our kitchen that says, "The David and Sonia Landes Memorial Kitchen," since it was made possible by funds from them.  I also wish my grandma could have known Charlotte more- I know she would get a real kick out of Charlotte's antics.

In 2013, we worked on our new house to make it more of a home.  It's still a work in progress, but it definitely feels more like a home than it did six months ago, thanks to our fancy new kitchen!

I got licensed, finally.  And I ran the 10 mile Broad Street Run only 4 months and 2 weeks after Charlotte's birth, which impresses me more now than it did when I actually ran it.

We got to know Charlotte- and everyday I can't believe what a great person she is turning out to be.  She is so funny, and happy.  She does little dances and smiles when her brothers call her "chunky monkey" (we need to put an end to that name before she begins to truly understand English).  She cries out and runs to me when I come home, but happily goes to play when I leave her at school.  She is far more beautiful than I could ever have anticipated!

Benjamin learned how to use the potty, mostly.  He is still bad at remembering to get on the potty when it's a stressful time for him (he pooped in his pants at school today, first day back in 2 weeks).  Benjamin has become very verbal, although he is still difficult to understand at times.

Asher was forced out of diapers in the last days of 2012 (more on that in another post).  Asher has become a very social person, always asking to see friends, have friends over, go to a friend's house, or see Meema and Papa Nick.  Reminds me of myself!  He loves his teacher and school.

I don't have any major plans for 2014.  As is always my hope, I would like to:

  • be better organized, i.e. not lose my things, not run around like a chicken with my head cut off, not forget to buy birthday gifts for all of our friends.
  • better manage our money. we get caught in cycles of "let's buy things!" which then shift to, "oh, sh*t! we don't have enough money!" which then goes back to "buy more!" when we feel deprived from all of our saving.  it's like a yo-yo diet but with a bank account.
  • spend less time on Facebook.  Why do I spend so much time on something that is completely unfulfilling?  Why do I care what dumb article on buzz feed someone I haven't seen in 10 years thinks is funny?  I need the "babies/weddings/engagements" filter since that is really all I care about.
  • be nicer to Eric.  Whether it is actually his fault, I can still be nicer while blaming him.  No, really- we do need to make more time for our relationship.  It's hard when we are both exhausted from working, taking care of the kids, cleaning, cooking, fixing things, etc., but we're both happier when we spend time together as a couple.
I think that is pretty much it- nothing big.

And, of course, I hope that in 2014 we stay as happy and healthy, as fortunate and as blessed as we were in 2013.