Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Benjamin: 4.5 years old

Ahhhh! My big babies will soon be turning 5!  The 26th was my boys' half birthday.  We began by celebrating with flu shots, which the boys handled with a minimum of crying, and as a treat we went to Panera to get cookies afterward (yes, at 9:30 in the morning).  Then the zoo.  For their half-birthday cake, I baked a small carrot cake and made each of them half.
So- my Benjamin at 4.5.  I have noticed that he sometimes doesn't feel comfortable in social situations.  He is very sweet- he will go up to someone and take their hand and begin disclosing irrelevant information, but around kids he has started either getting quiet, or roaring (like a lion).  Other kids don't seem to love the roaring (not a surprise, right?), and then his feelings are hurt that people don't want to talk to him.  Once he gets more comfortable, he's fine, but those social skills might need work.
Sick boy at the dr.'s office
On Monday, Benjamin got sick with his first ear infection.  Of course we had no idea what was wrong with him, because he kept complaining of an "ouchie" on his ear.  We thought it was a bug bite, but his level of hysteria indicated otherwise. By 11 when he was up for the 10th time, Eric was losing his mind and got impatient with him, as it was a lot of nonsense over a bug bite.  But in the morning he woke up with a fever and said his ear hurt on the inside- off to the doctor we went.  He was weighed and measured: 36.6 lbs and 41.5 inches.

Benjamin is surprisingly observant, and makes connections I don't even think about.  One night I showed the boys the picture I have of them as embryos- it's a photo of 6 embryos, and 2 are marked with an X.  I said, "You two are the ones with the X!" and Benjamin said, "What happened to the other ones?" which wasn't the follow-up question I had anticipated.

Diligently mastering the rocket launcher
He can be resourceful, and happy to play by himself without making trouble.  He can get involved in a task and stay involved for a long period of time.  He loves books, and "pooping" is often sitting on the potty and making his way through every book in the bathroom.  He's great with puzzles.  Of my 3 children, he is the least aggressive in his needs and with sharing.  Asher generally dictates what they'll watch on TV and who gets to use the special spoon at breakfast.  I try to look out for Benjamin and his desires, since he sometimes lets himself get bowled over.  In general, his behavior is good- until he gets overtired, at which point he becomes nonsensical and quite difficult.
Not serious for a second
Benjamin is a total goofball, too- as these pictures show.  He has a hard time being serious.  His speech is still not great; he leaves off the "s" and the "b" at the beginning of words, and the "r" in the middle of words.  He also speaks with his own inflection, which makes it sound kind of like he is speaking English as a second language.

Benjamin is an enthusiastic and adventurous eater.  I think he sometimes pretends he doesn't like, or doesn't want to try, foods because Asher doesn't, but he seems to like almost everything he eats.  He seems especially willing to try a food if Papa Nick recommends it.  He LOVES mustard and will dip any food in it.  Today I sent him to school with baby carrots to dip in mustard.  He likes every fruit there is, and eats vegetables, too.  He and I enjoy very similar diets, and will often share snacks.  At the table, his seat is next to mine, and he almost always crawls into my lap over the course of the meal.  It's pretty cute.

Benjamin likes music and likes to dance with me.  We dance to a lot of pop music- our current favorite is Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off."  He has beautiful, hazel, almond-shaped eyes with long dark lashes.  He has sweet little lips and perfect small white teeth.  Sometimes when he has trouble napping but needs the rest, I lie down with him until he falls asleep.  I love looking at his face when he is asleep- he couldn't be sweeter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Charlotte: 21 months old

apple picking
I am belated in writing this, but Charlotte turned 21 months old on the 21st.  My baby is speeding ahead to 2!  I suggested to Eric that we consider a fourth, but he said only if I want to be a single mom of 4 kids. 

I know I rave all the time about how wonderful Charlotte is, but it's true.  There is something about her that is magnetic- I can't go anywhere with her without having at least one person tell me how beautiful she is, or how sweet she is.  She is almost always happy, and interacts with people wherever we go.
Where's Charlotte?
She is talking more, and stringing words together.  She is definitely ahead of where her brothers were at this age, but she is not as advanced as some of her friends.  She adds new words every few days, and can certainly manage to express herself (her use of "yeah" and "no" ensures that).  If we ask her to say a new word, she just says, "Yeah," but then she'll come out with new words on her own.  She has started calling my dad "Boppy," which is very cute.  She adores him.

Charlotte continues to be a good eater.  She will try pretty much everything, and likes a lot of things.  She prefers processed meats (meatballs, hot dogs, sausage patties) to real meat, and other than that, she eats vegetarian.  She likes breakfast food, but tends to pick at lunch, and then eat again at dinner.  She likes American cheese, and will stand at the fridge and say, "I wan dat. I wan dat moh chiz." Which is, "I want that, more cheese."  She likes fruit, vegetables, cereal, bread, eggs, cheese (of course), and pastas.
Sesame Place
together at Sesame Place
I have no idea of her height and weight, but she is now solidly in a 2T.  I tried to buy her a pair of jeans, and couldn't jam her in them.  They were snug on her thighs and hard to button; she cried and pointed at her leggings and said, "I wan dat, wan dat!"  So no jeans for my girl.

We've added an extra half day of preschool for her, since we had already paid extra for school this year.  I am hoping the routine will help her with the drop-off, and help her increase her vocabulary.  Her teacher says she is a sweetheart at school and a joy to have, which means she must settle down quickly after I drop her off.
Taking Kitty for a stroll
Charlotte LOVES her brothers and wants to do everything they do.  She's pretty fearless, and strong.  Thank goodness there's only one of her!  Recently, she has become more maternal with her stuffed animals; often offering them tastes of her food and pushing them in her toy stroller. She is obsessed with TV and says, "TT on!" all the time.  She has also started to say iPad and phone.  Geez.  Fortunately she also likes to read books, and asks for those all the time, too.  She loves her stuffed animals, and plays favorites from day to day.  At night and nap it is always Kitty Cat, but during the day she has a hard time picking just one to love.
3 Kitties and a Monkey
She's a love- gives the best little hugs and kisses. She has a big heart, and loves her family most of all. I cannot believe that we managed to create such a wonderful little human being.  Next up- she'll be 2 in 3 months!

Friday, September 19, 2014

the "cool" kids

I cannot believe, at the age of 34, that I am dealing with cliques and mean kids.  Really?  And even worse, why am I letting myself get affected by it?

Over the past couple of months, it has become clear that we are on the outside of a neighborhood group.  The family next door to us is best friends with the family who lived on the other side of us (and who recently moved about 30 minutes away).  The guy next door, who we call The Mayor because he is a know-it-all busybody, has decided he doesn't like us.  He and his wife have one child, a son, who is about 4 months younger than my boys.  I invited him over one night, and he said the invitation was too "last minute" (it was a week in advance) and he wasn't going to come.  Instead, he had plans with his new best friends, who also dislike us.  Both families have had parties where they have invited every other family on the block, but not us.

The Mayor made up a special "come out to play" whistle that he uses on all of his neighbor-friends.  He'll go out in the alley that run behinds our houses and tweet at his friends.  To me this is strange.  Maybe if we were one of the cool kids who he whistled at, I wouldn't find it strange, but as it is... it's strange.

And it's strange to be discriminated against for something that I have no idea about- I guess that is why it all feels so high school.  In high school I wasn't a cool kid; there were people who weren't my friend or who would never have dated me simply because I wasn't in their social strata.  I'm not sure what defines us or separates us now; whether it is money, religion, or just who we are.

In addition to this situation, which I can somewhat dismiss because these neighbors aren't people who I would choose to be friends with if I met them somewhere other than my back yard, I have been kind of pushed out of a threesome with two of my other mommy friends (who are also neighbors).  These are two women whose company I truly enjoy, and who have been immensely helpful to me and my family over the past two years.  The two of them have gotten extremely close- they are together every single day; their girls are in school together, they exercise together, they are in a Moms' Club together, they babysit each other's children, and they go on vacation together.

When I was younger, my mom told me that threesomes are hard; there is always someone who isn't as close as the other two.  Over the course of the past year, I feel I've been pushed further and further away.  Neither one has invited me or my family over to their home for any kind of play date or meal, nor have they initiated a play date outside the home.  It upsets me, because I like these women, and value their friendship.  They are like-minded in the way they raise their children and share similar interests with me.  I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to handle things- do I keep reaching out to them in the hopes that we can grow closer again?  Or do I just let it go and put my effort into my other friendships?

In a way I've done both things recently; I've reached out to them to initiate plans and they've responded, and I've also put the majority of my social efforts into other relationships.  Spending time with them is difficult, because they are up-to-date on every detail of each other's lives, and I am completely out of the loop.  The feelings of exclusion are so reminiscent of middle school, of wondering what they say about me behind my back, why, despite my best efforts to be friendly, they don't think of me when making plans.

This post has been hard for me to write, because every time I start it or work on it, it brings me down.  But this has been going on for a few months now, and it does have an effect on me.  It's on my mind, not all the time, but periodically, and I wanted to just get it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Charlotte's 1st Day of School

Charlotte and Kitty go to school
Charlotte had her first day at school today, in Miss Karen's 2's class.  She is with some of her old classmates from last year, and some other slightly older kids.  She was fine at first, because she has been in the school every other morning with us as we dropped off the boys.  But when she realized I was going to leave, she started to cry.

I had to work a little late today, so Eric picked her up.  He said she was perfectly happy when he got there, and wouldn't take off her (hand-me-down, used-to-be-Benajmin's) backpack.  She was in great spirits tonight, so clearly unruffled by the change.

Her teacher left a voicemail on our home phone, which I thought was really sweet.  She said that Charlotte had cried at drop-off and then again when they left the playground, but that she ate well and napped well and fit in great with her classmates.  Hurray!  The boys told Eric they had seen her crying as she left the playground, and they made sure to give her big hugs.  Such kind big brothers.

I'm very happy with the way the school year is beginning.  There is a price difference between the toddler class Charlotte had initially been assigned (and which we are paying for) and the 2 year old class.  I am going to decide whether I want to get some money back, or whether Charlotte should go a 2nd day each week to get into the routine.

Tonight, I have such mixed emotions.  I feel proud that my little girl is mature enough to fit in with kids 4-6 months older than she is, and I feel sad that my baby has grown up so fast.  She's always been in a hurry to be a big girl- some days I just want it to slow down.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Day of School

The boys had their first day of school today.  This year, they are going a half day in addition to their 3 full days, and today was their first half day.

As usual, I attempted to get the boys to pose in a cute way prior to their first day.  This is what I got:

They went into their classroom with no hesitation.  Before I could even unload their forms and school supplies, they were settled in with puzzles with their friends.  There class this year is a mix of friends from last year and people they don't yet know, which is great.
Puzzles with their friend Valerie
I used my 3 hours to take Charlotte to Gymboree, grocery shop, and start dinner.  I have to pat myself on the back here, but I made a delicious pork loin in the crock pot, roasted broccoli, and risotto and got it all on the table by 6, even after taking the kids to the playground until about 5:15.  This extra half day could be amazing!

While we were at school, we dropped off some of Charlotte's supply.  She was placed in the Toddler Room again because she's not yet 2.  We walked into the Toddler Room, which was her class last year (and she was the youngest), and it was full of BABIES.  Like, a boy in a onesie wobbling around and banging 2 blocks together.  It didn't sit well with me, but I didn't have a chance to talk to Eric about it. When I picked the boys up, the mom of one of their classmates was there with her son, who is 1 month older than Charlotte.  She told me her son is in the 2 year old classroom!  I came home and called the director, who agreed with me that Charlotte is a little big for the toddler room, so they'll move her up to the young 2's class.  I am partly excited for Charlotte to play and socialize, and partly nervous- I want her to be on her best behavior and act like a 2 year old!  I figure, since she thinks she is 4, acting 2 should be no problem.  I'll post about her 1st day on Thursday after she goes.

Another good start to what will hopefully be another good year. And one year from now, my boys will be in kindergarten!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cape Cod 2014

What a wonderful week we had! This was the 22nd summer in a row I have gone to spend a week at the Cape, and it was, without a doubt, the best weather I've ever had.  Not a drop of rain, days full of sunshine, not too hot, with cool nights.  The water was warm, there was no sea weed in the ocean.  The kids slept well, and played well.  Since it was after Labor Day, there were few crowds.  And one great perk to having 3 kids is that they always have a friend nearby, so there are very few demands for my attention. I didn't make it through the book I brought to read (All Joy and No Fun, what irony), but I did relax and thoroughly enjoy myself.

Of course, we forgot our good camera again, so all my photos are just from my phone.  I also tried to just enjoy what I was doing, and so didn't have my phone on me every second.  Here are some of the moments I captured:

On our way up, we stopped for lunch in Mystic, Connecticut.  We had hoped to go to Providence, but after hitting traffic needed to stop sooner.  We had a delicious pizza lunch (not at Mystic Pizza, though), then walked along the water and down the main street.
The boys and some boats
We made it to the Cape in the late afternoon.  We decided not to start cooking (this was vacation, after all!) so Eric and I took our kids for dinner and ice cream.
Mommy and sons selfie
Sunday we went to the pond.  Right away the kids began to play, and the adults sat back and watched the kids and read.
Boys in the sand
 Sunday evening we went up to Provincetown to get Aunt Elana from the ferry.  Eric had never been, and I hadn't been in over 10 years.  I thought it was lively and interesting, but my mom thought it was kitschy.  We found a cute place for dinner, and the food was delicious for everyone but Asher, who had a meltdown over his PB&J because it had real strawberries in with the strawberry jam.
Asher by the beach in Provincetown
 Monday, Labor Day, my cousin came out from Boston to visit with us.  We went to the beach and found out that the beach had never looked better!  Crystal clear water, blue skies, waves that were not too big and not to small.  It was low tide and the kids hunted for rocks and shells and played at the edge of the water.  We got hot, sticky, and sandy and had a great time.
Beach Day

Charlotte and Kitty watching Asher
That afternoon we went out and bought boogie boards to use at the beach the next day.  Eric had never been boogie boarding!  I felt like a kid again, playing with Eric in the water and teaching him how to boogie board.
Charlotte stealing my snack
 Every morning, the boys went with  Papa Nick on a walk to get the newspapers and some donuts.  One morning they bravely took Charlotte with them, and were gone for more than an hour!
Breakfast on the deck
We didn't watch too much TV, although Charlotte appears to be a TV addict, and will grab any phone or iPad she can get her hands on. The boys were happy to read books or play with toys or color.  And we were barely home and awake, since we kept so busy enjoying ourselves.
Reading with Meema

Playing at the beach
Evenings were cocktail hour, and Elana and Eric didn't miss a day.  We sat on the deck and read, or looked at our laptops, or did some work.  I looked through Eric's photos today and he has 2 separate photos of gin and tonics on the deck!  
Cocktail hour

playing at the pond

More ice cream!

That one was supposed to be mine
 Our last night, we did something new- made a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows.
Sunset over the dunes

Wind in her hair

Captivated by the fire

Family around the fire
We drove home today and made great time.  Asher and I were both overly emotional and sad to leave.  It is such a gift to have a home in a beautiful place, and a treat to share my own excitement and traditions with my children. My other sadness was at my grandparents' absence.  They haven't been at the Cape with us since 2009, but the house is still full of their books and belongings; the things they chose to furnish their home.  I can remember them there, and I miss them.  I know my grandmother, especially, would take such pleasure in seeing my children playing and laughing in that house.

Two years ago, I remember being sad when we were there- that the boys were so wonderful and that adding Charlotte would throw everything off balance.  As much as I dread change, this year was even better than the years before, and seeing Charlotte play with her brothers, and them dote on her, is much better than having just my boys.  I'm sad that we won't be back there for another year.  After a trip like this, I am ready to go back again next week.