Sunday, June 22, 2014

Charlotte is 18 months old!

my girl at the park this morning
My baby is 18 months old (yesterday)! How did my baby become a big girl? Big girl decided today was the day she would climb out of her crib for the first time- how did someone as unathletic as myself get 3 monkeys for children?
lemon cake with strawberry frosting
Here is Charlotte at 18 months:

She has 12 teeth: the 4 front teeth on top and bottom, and 4 molars.

She has several words, including: up, down, kitty, dog, woof, boot, done, more, dada, mama, no (sometimes), sometimes she says Elana, Papa (for Papa Nick), nana (from banana, and she uses it for all fruit), stuck, duck, and truck (all pronounced the same).  All animals other than dogs are kitties, all fruits are nanas, all birds are ducks, and most people are dada.  She can also say eye, and says "ah" for hi.  She has just started putting together 2-3 words.  She will say "no more done" or "no done, more!" when Eric stopped feeding her M&Ms.  She also says "kitty down" when she throws her stuffed kitty cat on the floor.  I love her voice, and I love walking in the door to hear her call, "Mama!"
feeding herself cake

Her favorite foods are fruits, graham crackers, cookies, eggs, pancakes, french toast, string cheese, yogurt, pasta, spinach, and who knows what else. She doesn't seem to like any meats anymore, and is definitely more picky than she was a few months ago.  I remember the boys going through this, too.  What happened to my adventurous eater?!?  She is still nursing 1 or 2 times a day, but barely.  She would rather play "name that body part" and poke me in the eye, pull my hair, and stick her fingers in my mouth.  If she is done nursing, that is ok. I didn't really think I'd nurse her at this age, but it is such a small part of our day now that I don't think much about it.

Charlotte is developing a strong personality.  She's confident, playful, silly, and fun; and she can be headstrong, difficult, and full of attitude.  She's very engaging and social.  She has a royal wave and will wave and blow kisses to anyone and everyone.  Older men in particular love this about her.  Almost everyone who meets her loves her.  Her attitude comes out when we don't do what she wants us to do RIGHT AWAY, or exactly the way she wants it.  For example: if she wants a banana, and I peel a banana and break it in half, she will throw the half I hand her on the floor.  If I peel the banana and let her break it, then she is happy.

She likes music, but seems to have inherited my sense of rhythm.  That's ok; we can still dance together!  She likes to chase her brothers, play peek-a-boo, and climb and play outside (she LOVES outside and cries anytime someone goes outside without her).  Unfortunately, Charlotte also likes TV.  Sometimes she will come in and ask for TV (she has a sound for it that doesn't so much resemble the word).  I have great feelings of guilt that I will let her watch TV more than I read to her.  Awful.  She likes to buckle buckles and is in a big phase of doing it herself.  She also discovered her screech and can drive us nuts with it!

Charlotte sleeps through the night (hurray!) and takes 1 nap a day.  Her nap is about 2-3 hours long most days.  She's like her brothers and will pretty much poke herself in the eye to stay awake if anything else is going on.  But she is generally in a good mood and well-rested.  She puts herself to sleep at night and at naps with her thumb and her kitty cats.

So, that's my girl at 18 months.  Now that she is a big girl, I definitely have a baby craving, but the rational side of me knows we are done.  We can't afford the 3 we have!  I do love babies, especially mine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

relationship lessons from When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally is probably my all-time favorite movie.  My sister and I have watched it so many times that we know most of the lines by heart.  We can do a whole scene together, which amuses us, but not so much everyone else.

This movie captures so many truths about relationships; the themes withstand the test of time, and that's why this movie has remained popular for so long.  Here are the "truths" that I see come up again and again in my work and personal life.

1) Men and women can't be friends.
This isn't a whole truth, but a mostly-truth.  I have some male friends, but at some point in our relationship, there was sexual desire on at least one person's part.  We were only able to become friends after that desire was acknowledged, if not acted on.

In my work, I see that friendships between men and women, especially when one or both party is in an unhappy relationship, can be dangerous.  Often one person is using the friendship as a substitute for the intimacy they would like in their own marriage.  Friendships often begin innocently enough, but can shift into something else over time.

2) He's never going to leave her.
We all know someone whose husband left for the "other woman," and it does happen, but more frequently, he's never going to leave her.  Don't get involved with a married man under the premise that he is going to leave his wife for you.  More likely, he is just an asshole having a midlife crisis, and at some point in the future, you will be alone and he will be back playing happy family.

3) When you know what you want for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible.
When someone is ambivalent, they will let things drag out.  I can remember my own college relationship, which lasted for 2 years, only 3 months of which were truly good.  We would: break up, get back together, go on a "break," get back together, take another break, get back together, talk about moving into together, talk about getting married, break up, get back together, and ultimately, break up.  We tried every iteration of a relationship in the hopes that it would work, but in the end, we weren't right for each other and broke up.  When something is right, you'll know. If you have to sell yourself on the idea of being with someone or rationalize your relationship to other people, it's not right.  And when you know it's right, you want to make it happen and seal the deal as soon as you can.

(I should also add, I am friends with my college boyfriend and his wife. We actually can be friends. But first we were more than that, and got that out of the way.)

4) "It's not that he didn't want to get married, it's just that he didn't want to marry me."
This relates to #3. If you find yourself making excuses for your relationship, or the reason why you are remaining unmarried when what you really want is to get married, then it is probably time to move on.  I can recall a high school friend explaining why she and her boyfriend weren't going to get married: "We bought a house together, and that's as good as getting married."  They broke up shortly after, and she was stuck in a legal battle trying to get rid of that house, because without being married, there were no laws governing their break-up.  I'm not saying get married so you can split your assets more easily, but that if you find yourself doing something that's uncomfortable for you, then it's a sign you might not be in the right relationship for you.

5) Sometimes, she really is faking orgasm.
What can I say?  Sometimes, it's just not going to happen, and the woman doesn't want to disappoint her partner, so she fakes it so that everyone can finish up and go to sleep.  So, sorry, Harry- maybe you're not so hot in bed!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Goodbye, Grandpa Sy

Grandpa Sy with me when I was a newborn
My grandpa Sy (my dad's dad) died Monday at age 92.  He'd been declining for about 2 years- I can remember my dad calling me when I was pregnant with Charlotte telling me I should go to DC and say my final goodbyes.  Fortunately for us, he hung on for a while longer, and got to meet Charlotte.

I have never been as close to my dad's parents as I was to my mom's.  They seemed, to me, more complicated.  I always knew that they loved me, and they have always been beyond generous to me, but I never got to know them the way I knew my other grandparents.
Sy, my sister Elana, and me (1984)
Here are the things I know and remember about my Grandpa Sy:

When I was little, he smoked a pipe, and sometimes cigars.  After a visit to my grandparents' house in DC, my clothes and blanket always smelled a little smoky.  Now, the smell of a pipe always makes me think of Grandpa Sy.

Grandpa Sy drank what seemed to be a gallon of coffee each morning.  I think maybe his mug was 32 ounces?  I love my morning coffee, too, so maybe that is something I get from him.

I was his first grandchild.  My mom told me that when he met me for the first time, he said I looked like a monkey.  He wasn't wrong.

Sy did all the cooking for my grandma and himself, and whatever family was in town.  I remember not only the big things he made for our holiday meals- like his famous smoked turkey with gravy on Thanksgiving- but also the little things that followed; a tradition in and of themselves.  Thanksgiving turkey was followed by turkey tetrazzini or turkey soup, and Passover was matzoh brei and stewed fruit.  Each recipe was made with painstakingly precise measurements, in a process that took the entire day.  Tonight I made oatmeal fruit bars for the shiva tomorrow, in an imprecise manner that probably would have enraged him!

Sy's precision was legendary outside the kitchen, too.  Any story worth telling was worth telling down to each and every exact detail.  Don't ask a question if you don't want the full story!  I remember my grandparents driving home after Thanksgiving one year, and calling to leave my mom a message letting her know they'd made it home safely.  My mom said my grandmother was on the phone saying, "We got home around 3:45..." and my grandpa was in the background yelling, "Not 3:45, Tenny!  3:42!"

Grandpa liked fine wine and good food.  When I was 14, we went to France together and drove through Burgundy, buying wine.  Some of that wine is probably still in cases in my parents' basement.  He and my grandma were in a wine group in DC up until just a few years ago when his health really began to decline.
With my dad's parents at our wedding
He and my grandma were married 71 years.  This is an accomplishment.  They were certainly a case of opposites attract- where Sy is precise and measured, Tenny is slap-dash and impulsive.  This was always the source of much frustration and yelling, yet somehow they stayed together until the end.  My grandmother said she married him for the sex (yuck, I know), but I am sure that was a large part of their connection and marriage.  My grandmother once told me, "I treat him terribly, but he still loves me."  And it's true, every choice he made about his life in these final years was made so he could spend as much time as possible with her- he loved her.
Grandpa Sy holding one of the boys at their bris
Grandpa Sy with Benjamin, Thanksgiving 2010

In trying to remember my grandfather, I am mainly struck by how little I knew him.  Many parts of his history are a blank to me.  My sadness at his death is in large part a sadness that I never got to have the close relationship with him that I had with my other grandparents, and now I never will.  My mom pulled out pictures that show his satisfaction and pleasure at being a grandfather, and I don't think I fully realized how much he loved me, or how important I was to him.  I also have feelings of guilt that he didn't get to see my children, who are his only great-grandchildren, enough.

In Judaism we say, "may his memory be a blessing," and memories of my grandfather always will.  Every year at Thanksgiving, we'll make a smoked turkey and remember him.  And we'll remember him whenever we are generous and provide for our children and grandchildren, as he always did; and we'll remember him when we work hard and create a happy life for ourselves, as he did.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Just after finishing
Today I ran my first- and probably not last- half-marathon.  After I ran Broad Street, Eric encouraged me to sign up for a half-marathon.  The one I did is 5 weeks after Broad Street, so all you need to do is keep up with your training from Broad Street.  ("all you need to do:" this involves running 3-4 times a week with increasing mileage on the weekends, from 10-12 miles.)  Somehow, I agreed to this, and signed up for the half marathon.

My only real goal was to finish- which I did!  I wish my time had been a little bit faster, but that's just moving the goal post on myself.  Considering that back in middle school, I used to whine and walk the .5 mile warm-up for gym class, this is no small feat.  Considering in elementary school I only made the cutoff for Presidential Physical Fitness by about 1 second on the mile run, this is an accomplishment.  

Running is good for me; I feel more energetic and have a more positive body image.  I like that Eric and I are setting a good example for our kids at including fitness and exercise in everyday life.  And it fulfills my need to have a goal and something to work toward.

The race went mostly well.  I was faster the first half than the second, and then there was a hill between mile 12 and mile 13 (cruelty on the part of the race-planners), which I ended up walking up. Then I picked up my running again so I could run through the finish.  I knew Eric was meeting me with the kids, so I was looking right-left-right-left to find them... but they weren't there!  Turns out they thought I would be a little slower, and Benjamin was dawdling, so they missed my finish!
with our family friend
My mom and sister also met me at the finish, so after letting me stretch and give all my race food to my kids, we walked back to the car.  Benjamin was sooooooo tiiiiiired that he needed me to carry him to the car.  
13.1 miles were just the beginning
Now I'm thinking of signing up for the Philly Half in  November.  Call me crazy!  I don't think you'll ever see me do a full marathon, but I would never have expected to do a half, so who knows...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Last Day of School: June 3, 2014

School is over for the year.  I'm sad because I appreciate the structure it provides our lives, and that the boys are challenged and have creative opportunities they don't have at home.  All 3 kids had a great year at school- they loved their teachers, played well with their friends (mostly... there were incidents of throwing mulch, back-talk to teachers, poop accidents, and injury by puzzle piece), and developed new skills.  While their school isn't perfect, we've been more than pleased with the teachers all the kids have had, and have never for a second felt as though our children weren't loved and cared for.  

Here are my babies on the last day of school:

My boys.  Benjamin won't keep a straight face.
Charlotte trying to pose like her brothers
Asher with Miss Alex
Benjamin and Charlotte with Miss Susie (the boys' head teacher)
Charlotte with her teachers Miss Grace and Miss Ruth

Monday, June 2, 2014

family portraits

To show progress over the school year, the boys' teacher had them do family portraits the first day of school, and then again last week.  Here are the boys' masterpieces:

Asher, 1st day of school:

Asher, May 27:
I love this picture!  I had no idea he could draw like this, since usually he scribbles.  I am a little sad that I am a one-eyed minion at the edge of the page, but I'm in there.

Benjamin, first day of school:
Benjamin, May 27:
Side 1: Benjamin, Charlotte, Asher, Daddy, and Trouble

Side 2: Mommy (no arms, no legs) and Peanut (who is a long-haired cat)
I laughed for a good half an hour after seeing Benjamin's portrait.  First, insult: why am I a B-side?  Then, is that a gigantic penis on Benjamin?  And Asher has been beheaded?  Oh, boy.  As someone who learned about the "House-Tree-Person" projective test in graduate school, I'm trying not to read too much into it!  Eric pointed out, on the plus side, at least I'm super-skinny in this picture.  (and by the way, Benjamin said that those are his arms and hands, not a gigantic penis.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

what next?

Anyone who reads this has noticed that I haven't been posting much recently.  No real reason- our lives are still full of the same excitement, happiness, and temper tantrums as they have been for the past several years.

I used to have ideas for blog posts all the time.  Even if they were boring posts, they were thoughts, or this was a good place to get them out.  That hasn't been happening much anymore.  I want to keep up with my blog, since it is as close to a baby book as my kids are getting.  I'm very nostalgic and sentimental, and I love looking back on our milestones and adventures.

I have a policy of only saying nice things about anyone other than myself on here.  It's not as if I am a catty bitch and sit around thinking nasty things day in and day out and then presenting myself as a ray of sunshine on here, but sometimes people disappoint me or hurt my feelings, and I often leave that out of my blog.  I'm not a huge fan of public but vague complaints- if I have a problem with someone, they usually know about it because I speak to them personally, and actually, I don't like public complaints, period.  But somehow this has led to a falsely cheerful tone on here at times, which doesn't represent my reality, my perception of my life, or anyone's life at all.  And what makes a blog, article, or book interesting is its unique but realistic perspective on life; its ability to look at your own life and experiences differently.  Right now, my blog isn't even challenging me to do that!

So what comes next?  I really don't know.  I know writing is an outlet for me, and that this blog helps me keep track of the life events that fly past.  I know I will keep writing this blog, but it may take some time for me to find a new voice.  If you continue to read, things might be bumpy.  But my hope is that they will come out better than where they are now.