Monday, December 21, 2015

Charlotte Eve: THREE years old!

School picture, cropped to avoid showing her underwear!
Happy 3rd birthday to my joy, my sweetness, my only baby girl!  She is THREE!  I spent some time reminiscing with her about the day she was born, and showed her some pictures of her right after her arrival- I am not sure she has really put it together that it's her.  But it feels like just yesterday, and it is still hard to believe that I will never have another baby.

Today we went to the pediatrician for her 3 year well visit.  She is measuring:
33.6 lbs (75th percentile)
37.5" (about 50th percentile)
The doctor seemed to think that her height was off, since her last height was taken lying down and this height was taken standing.  I'm inclined to agree, since things have definitely gotten shorter on her in the past few months, and she looks thinner to me than she did before.  The doctor said she is perfect, healthy, and thriving.
Birthday girl wore her birthday suit to birthday breakfast
Cupcake at school

My Charlotte continues to be precocious, funny, silly, and sweet.  She has started to call me "Mama" sometimes, which I just love.  She knows her alphabet and recognizes many of the letters. She can count to about 13 and can sometimes count accurately (sometimes things get counted twice, sometimes not at all...).  She knows almost every song she has heard and sings them to me.  The other day we were in the car and Drake's "Hotline Bling" came on the radio and it started, "you used to call me on my..." and she piped up from the back seat: "Cell phone!"
Paw Patrol shirt, Hello Kitty necklace, fairy wings, wand.
She takes dance once a week, and always looks forward to it.  She doesn't dance or sing on command (what 3 year old does), but she is adorable when you catch her doing it.  She loves her kitty cats, and continues to "adopt" more and more cats to sleep with at night.  Charlotte keeps Black-and-white Kitty and White Kitty with her all the time, and now "Charlotte Kitty" (an orange cat she got for Hanukkah) has to come in bed at night, too.  She sucks her thumb when she is in bed, or tired, or feeling shy.  Her love of cats extends to books- she loves the book "Naughty Kitty," and when I had to return it to the library, I bought Charlotte her own copy.  Then she loved the book "Kitten for a Day," which I also had to return to the library.  She loves to watch TV- too much.  She gets obsessed with shoes and will watch them endlessly, and beg me to watch TV "just for a little bit!" We use the TV to bribe, but there are often tantrums when the TV goes off.

Oh, the tantrums.  Charlotte could be worse; she is definitely able to be redirected, or at times amenable if she's given a choice of one thing or another.  But she is definitely strong-willed and opinionated.  I do admire that in her- I don't want a pushover for a daughter.  She is lucky, because she is cute, and people often give her what she wants without a fight.
A rainbow heart cake, at Charlotte's request
My baby who once ate everything I handed her is now picky- she falls somewhere between Benjamin and Asher in pickiness.  She really dislikes most meat, or says she does- she avoids it on her plate, but if we convince her to take a bite she then says, "Yummy!"  She eats eggs, pancakes, French toast, waffles, oatmeal, and cold cereal for breakfast.  She loves fruits and will often ask for fruit for snack or in her lunch.  She loves yogurt, all kinds of cheeses, crackers and pretzels, and hummus.  For lunch she generally prefers a collection of snack foods to a real meal.  And at dinner- pasta, pasta, pasta!  She also likes mashed potatoes, many vegetables, fish sticks, hot dogs, dumplings, and meatballs.  She is easily distracted and will hop up from the table if one of her brothers gets up first, even if she isn't done eating.  And like Asher, she has a great sweet tooth, and loves cookies.

Charlotte is agile, and fast. She runs with great coordination- and loves to race. Every time we want her to do something she seems reluctant to do (go to the potty when she hasn't gone in a while), we tell her we will race her and we will win! Then she gets going. But if we get too far ahead and make it impossible for her to "win," she will throw herself down on the floor and scream, which is the opposite of what we were hoping to achieve.

She has recently started to fight about nap and protest her nap time.  She still really needs her nap, and is a total crab without it, so I'm not eager to have her stop, but fighting her on it is pretty painful.  She sleeps well at nighttime, thank goodness, but I need that break from kids in the afternoon!  Asher still naps predictably, and he is almost 6!

We had a birthday party for her yesterday, which was not the success I had hoped, but I don't want to go into the painful details here. Charlotte said she had fun, which is what I do hope for in the end.  Here are some pictures:

I love my girl, I have loved having another year of fun and happiness with her.  She is sweet and delicious, and I cannot get enough of her. I am excited for what this coming year will hold, and so proud of her.  She is a joy to be around, a charismatic and lovable girl, to whom everyone is drawn.  She is three, and I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have her in my life.  She is the perfect last child, the final piece to the puzzle that makes our family.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December so far

I don't like that I haven't had time to do an in-depth post, to talk about all the wonderful things that happen here- but we have been BUSY.  Here are some photos of our past 2 weeks:

The first weekend in December, I took all 3 kids, by myself, into the city to see the light shows.  We started at Macy's. They have an old-fashioned light show and some organ music.  It was short and sweet. I had thought we would go see the "Dickens Christmas Village" but the line was 45 minutes long, through the lingerie department, with the 3 kids making trouble... so we left.  Whew!

Waiting for the light show. The boys were picking jewelry and watches for themselves
 Next stop, the Comcast Center. They had a very cool show with lots of fun holiday songs, and snow machines dropping snow on us- possibly the only snow we will see this winter!
Charlotte and kitty enjoying the show
For the first time in my adult life, I felt nervous about being in a crowded public place in the city.  I am not afraid of crowds, but all the recent news of mass shooting and the terror attacks in Paris nagged at the back of my head.  I made sure we were standing in a place I could easily get us out. I hate that I was thinking that way; I hate that I would have to think that way.

We went from there to the Christmas Village, which has stalls set up selling holiday goods, plus food, plus hot chocolate.  The kids got soft pretzels, and we picked out an ornament for Memere for Christmas.
Serious young men 
Charlotte is being held up by some random woman who offered to help me out
 We wanted to stay out of the house longer, since Eric was working with friends on our basement.  So even though the kids were getting tired (the boys walked about 3 miles with me!), we went out to lunch at Panera.  The weather was so warm that we were able to eat outside!  Everything was going great:
Until they just fell apart. Benjamin was hanging over the chair saying he didn't feel well, his tummy hurt, and he wanted to go home and take a nap.  I totally panicked, thinking he might have a tummy bug and start vomiting, so we hit the road fast and I made Eric rush home from his lunch break to help get the kids in bed. Benjamin went right to sleep, slept about 3 hours, and woke up totally fine.  I guess I just wore him out with all that walking.

That night, we had a dinner with my grad school friends and their offspring. 7 families: 14 adults, 14 kids (and 2 more on the way). It is total madness!  My friend took this picture:
 Our friends have an exercise room in their basement and I guess the kids were working off their dinner!  Benjamin is in the foreground wearing a safety vest and a yellow helmet.  This picture cracks me up!

Sunday, daddy was still working, so the kids and I went shopping for the "angel" we adopted from an angel tree at a YMCA.  We went first to Kohl's, where Asher struggled to understand that we could shop and not buy a single thing for him.  Our angel was a 5 year old girl, and her wishlist was: clothes, sneakers, snow boots, a winter coat.  The kids just couldn't understand that there would be someone out there who needed those things, and whose mommy and daddy couldn't just buy them.  In the end, they came around to it, and got excited picking out things for her.

We went to Costco to buy her a winter coat, but first had to stop for pizza and hot dogs at 10:30 am.

 Then the stress got to them.  Asher couldn't stand to be in the cart or walk, so he went through Costco like this:
 Here are some of the items we picked out for our angel: Coat, hat & gloves, pajamas, slippers, a reindeer necklace (Asher's special pick), underwear, socks, sneakers, several outfits.
 We also received a donated pair of brand new snow boats, and picked out some small toys at 5 Below.  Asher chose a rainbow unicorn beanie baby, and Benjamin chose Frozen-themed nail polish.  I ordered her a gum ball coin bank from Amazon and gum ball refills.  I really hope that she loves everything.

Sunday night began Hanukkah, and we hosted my parents and aunt Jane and uncle Ed here for dinner and candle lighting.  The kids were SO excited.

Monday, Charlotte and I had a whirlwind day but managed to squeeze in a visit to the Please Touch Museum.  Here she is curled up in a baby doll's crib! She insisted she fit.
 Monday night, we went to a friend's house for dinner, candles, and a gift exchange.  We got a little extra excitement when Charlotte pooped in her underwear and needed a bath and full outfit change.  A year and a half ago, Benjamin did the same thing there! I told my friend there must be something special in her house...

 Wednesday night, Eric and the kids went to another friend's house for Hanukkah and dreidel.  I was at work, but came at the end, completely hungry, grumpy, and anti-social.  I felt much better after I ate, but I was not a very nice person before that.

Thursday night, we had Hanukkah at yet another friend's house!  This was at our next door neighbor's house, and the kids made a gingerbread Hanukkah house, which they decorated, and then ripped apart and devoured.
Hanukkah house decorating
 We lit the candles together and I gave the kids each a package of 20 shopkins. What happiness that gave them!

Friday I ran the bake sale at Charlotte's school. In addition, it was her Hanukkah show.  There has been a lot of attrition in Hanukkah show attendance over the years, since her brothers continually failed to perform.  This year, NO ONE but me came to see Charlotte.  And you know what? She was great!  Smiling, dancing, and knew the words.  Maybe next year the family will turn out.

Charlotte in her Hanukkah hat- she is a pink candle
 We got back Charlotte's school photos, and she is beyond adorable. I could eat that sweet face!  Her sassy pose is not actually a pose, but artful cropping done by the photographer- I heard from numerous reliable sources that she would give a perfect smile and pull her dress up simultaneously.  This clever crop just hides her belly and underwear.
 On Saturday we drove up to Newton, MA for my cousin's daughter's bat mitzvah.  We stay in hotels so infrequently that the kids think it is the greatest adventure on Earth.  We packed our swim suits and played in the hotel pool, we walked across the street to Walgreen's, and then went to the Hanukkah party at my cousin's house.  (If you are counting, there are 8 nights of Hanukkah and we have spent every one of them with family or friends.)  My cousin's wife had thoughtfully bought gifts for all of the kids, and they were thrilled!  There was soda, sparkling cider, and Hanukkah gelt everywhere, so they all had sugar for dinner and were happy as could be.
 Charlotte was upstairs playing with some older girls, and Asher came to tell me that she was getting wet- My cousin's daughter had set her up with a bunch of barbies and a small plastic pool.  Charlotte was very enthusiastic with their swimming, and had made a huge mess on the (newly refinished hardwood) floor.  She was already soaked, so rather than end her happy fun, I stuck her in the bathtub.  Girl loved the barbies!
"Look, Mama! I get this one wet, her hair turns PINK!"
I had cleverly packed a full diaper bag before leaving Philadelphia, but then put the diaper bag in the hotel room and left it there. So when she needed a full outfit change, which I had in the diaper bag, I had nothing.  She ended the evening in her cousin's size 6 underwear, big tank top, and a tutu skirt.

Today was the bat mitzvah, which was lovely, but long for the kids.  They played outside, watched Netflix, and made bead necklaces.  Finally, it was lunch and party time!

Waiting for the service to end
 I was so excited for the kids to go to their first bat mitzvah.  They loved the music, the socks for dancing, and the photo booth. Oh, and the dessert! And the hot chocolate bar!  We left around 2 and I drove us home at a very speedy pace. We made 1 brief stop for a potty break and that was it- I shaved 30 minutes off of what was predicted to be a 5 hour and 30 minute drive.  As Eric said, I drive like my father.

Charlotte dancing with my uncle Richard. She LOVES him.
At home, we had a quick dinner and then celebrated the 8th night of Hanukkah. The kids loved their final gifts- I got Benjamin a dry erase board and he immediately drew a picture of himself with Daddy at the beach. Asher got an electronic safe with a code from Meema and Papa Nick, and he has already stored his most valuable treasures in there.  He has shared the code with Benjamin, Daddy, and me- but Charlotte is never allowed to know it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Things we said today

I don't want to forget- but today:

Charlotte and I went shopping for crafts for her birthday party at Michael's. She didn't want to leave (the light-up wand! The rainbow unicorn beanie baby!) and I was drifting toward the door without her. She has been very competitive lately, so we have used it to our advantage by "racing" her to all the things she doesn't want to do (mainly pee on the potty).  Usually we say, "I'm going to win, Charlotte!" Well, today, in Michael's, with a line of about 12 people, I yelled, in a cheerful and sing-song voice, "I'm going to beat you!"  Excellent.

We had spinach for dinner. I make a faux-creamed spinach (a roux and then milk, no cream) that is a big hit with everyone. Charlotte often eats 3 bowls of it and nothing else for dinner when I make it.  So tonight she was happily eating, and Asher would not stop saying, "Hahaha, We're not going to talk about what happens when Charlotte eats spinach!  Hahaha, that is too yucky to talk about at the table! Ha! We're not going to talk about it!"  The boy reminds me of myself.

Asher was having a tantrum and crying on the floor. To get some of my attention, Benjamin told me that everyone at school was mean to him, his good friend tripped him, and the teacher didn't say anything about it.  I kept asking him and he said YES this was a real problem and I should email his teacher. So I did- and of course his story was completely off, which he admitted when I asked him again. He also cried big, fat tears that I am making capes for the boys at Charlotte's party because he "doesn't like capes!" and "wants something else that is for BOYS but not a cape!" Poor pumpkin just needed a way to get some attention in this crazy house where he is usually the quiet one.

I also took a phone call from a client while wiping Charlotte's behind on the potty. Multi-tasking Mommy!  I am also good with metaphors, I must get that from my dad. My client said, "I'm up shit creek with no paddle AND no canoe!" and I said, "then I sure hope you are wearing a life jacket!"

And that's it- a day in the life.  Now time to confront my mountain of laundry.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving weekend 2015

Every year I list off the many things for which I am thankful. I remember taking a "positive psychology" personality test in graduate school, which said my #1 positive psychology trait is gratitude. I think this is definitely true, because not a day goes by without me pausing with thankfulness about one thing or another. I never forget that I am fortunate beyond all measure.  I have more than I could ever have dreamed of, and how many people get to say that?

This Thanksgiving weekend began with a 5 mile Turkey Trot in Philadelphia. It covered some of the same ground that the half and full marathons used the weekend before (oh, yes, I ran the Philly half marathon a week ago and survived!), and the ground was covered with sticky sugar from the energy gels they had passed out the week before.  My sister and I ran the course in 47 minutes, which is pretty good for me.  Then I came home and took the kids to the playground, because it was a perfectly beautiful sunny day.
My friend's husband swinging next to Charlotte
Thanksgiving dinner was at my aunt and uncle's, as usual.  There were 9 kids, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.  The 6 youngest sat together at the "kids'" table, and seemed happy there.  I look forward to our Thanksgiving feast all year long.  I ate more than I do almost any other night.  And of course, my kids want none of it- a few bites of turkey, a few string beans- that's it.  I need to work harder to instill in them a love of Thanksgiving food!

Part of our meal. Does not include the string beans, salads, rolls, gravy, and 2 types of cranberry sauce.
The day after Thanksgiving was also warm and beautiful, so we boycotted Black Friday by going for a hike. We picked a 2 mile loop, which was a little far for some little legs. I got extra exercise by carrying Charlotte for part of the walk (Benjamin pointed out it wasn't truly a "hike" because there was no mountain).

 They were also disappointed by the lack of wild animals on our walk in the woods.  There were signs up that deer hunting was allowed with bow & arrow, but we didn't see any deer or hunters.

Benjamin woke up first from nap (if he even took one), and I took him to ride his bike in the parking lot at his school. He asked Eric to take his training wheels off, and then off he went!  Somehow he knows how to ride with no training wheels, and neither one of us got to teach him!
Benjamin- 2 wheels!
My mom said we should be glad we didn't have to teach him- no running with him, hunched over the back of the bike trying to instill confidence.  He just took off! I am so proud of him. I couldn't stop bragging to everyone, and he told me to stop because it makes him uncomfortable.  

Friday night my sister and I went out for a drink. I wasn't feeling well, but she left for Africa on Saturday night and so she wanted to spend some time together just the two of us.  We had a very nice time together.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling really lousy.  My throat hurt, I had a headache, and I was SO tired. Eric let me sleep until 9, and then I spent the rest of the day on the couch.  I watched many episodes of Master of None, which I enjoyed.

Today I felt better. I don't feel 100% myself but much more so than yesterday. I took the kids to the Delaware Children's Museum.  We've never been, and I had the desire to do something new but not overly adventurous.  They loved it! A lot of the exhibits were more sophisticated than the ones at the Please Touch Museum, so I think it's a place they will enjoy more as they get older, too.  There was a huge climbing structure in the middle which they couldn't get enough of. There was a car repair shop, with actual instructions on what to do to repair the car; another area had all kinds of building tools to build big and small structures. We spent 2 hours playing and could have stayed longer, but I wanted to get them home for a nap.
Charlotte cooking in the kitchen- she made "mash a-tato."
Asher organizing the gears so that each one would turn when he turned the crank

Tonight we had a quiet evening at home.  Charlotte enjoys imaginary play, so she and I had a great time playing with her stuffed kitty cats.  Unfortunately, she also has a great time with repetition, so what was funny once is funny 10 times.  The first time we all hid under the coffee table from the monster was funny; the 5th wasn't so much for me.  I got to pretend to be Black-and-White Kitty, and she thought it was hysterical.  Asher got in on the fun, too, and at the end Benjamin brought his Panda to play with us.

I am very caught up in how temporary all of this is.  Asher is getting so big, and I have a hard time carrying him places.  But wasn't it just yesterday that I was slipping his little body into his crib with no effort at all?  Charlotte is sweet and delicious, but wasn't it just yesterday that she was still in my belly?  Benjamin is riding a bike by himself, but wasn't it just yesterday he couldn't even figure out how to nurse? Any minute now they will be heading off to college, or some other nonsense.  Whose soft and sweet cheeks will I kiss, and whose round little bodies will I snuggle?  I am so thankful for these 3 wonderful, healthy, lovable children.  In whatever stage, at whatever time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Things I (presumably) Enjoy

I tell myself, I must really enjoy doing these things, because heaven knows, I do them all the time.  These things include:

  • Laundry. Washing, drying, folding, putting away, picking up off the floor.
  • Throwing out perfectly good food that starving Syrian refugees would give their right arm to eat.
  • Asking questions repeatedly simply for the sake of hearing my voice rise in a questioning tone. Please, don't answer me, that would just interrupt the melodious sound of my rising voice.
  • Screaming my children's names. Often the wrong child's name.
  • Thoughtfully planning healthy menus, spending hours cooking them, and then making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picky children.
  • Doing dishes. See: laundry.
There are many more items to add to the list, but that captures my most favorite past-times.  Fortunately, I get to do all of these things every day!

Friday, November 13, 2015

1st lost tooth!

Asher lost his first tooth tonight- not the one that has been loose for over 2 months (yes, really!), but the one that became loose more recently.  We believe it was helped on its way after Eric caught a washcloth on it last night and yanked on it.  Tonight it was this loose:
Yes, his tooth is hanging out of his mouth
 We told him there was no way he could eat dinner with his tooth like that, and Eric promised him Shopkins if he got it out before dinner.  There was some mild hysteria around possible bleeding, but moments later, Asher popped his tooth out with his tongue- and it flew across the rug!  We all clapped and hugged and admired his tooth.
Showing off his prize
The gap on the bottom is about as big as the gap on top!
He wrote a letter to the tooth fairy- I didn't get a chance to take a picture before he stuffed it under his pillow, but it said something like, "Please leave my tooth because it is in a little bag. Leave my tooth but I would like something like money." My dad has a $1 coin to give him and Eric snuck out to 5 Below for Shopkins while no one was looking.  Asher is sleeping over at my parents' house tonight, so my dad gets to play tooth fairy again!  I am a little sad that I won't be there in the morning to see his reaction to a visit from the tooth fairy, but I didn't want to force him home, or delay his reward from the tooth fairy after all the tooth fairy promotion we did.  He is so proud now, and not afraid to lose that other wiggly tooth on the bottom!

Post-script: In looking at these photos, I feel motivated to begin saving for orthodontia. Oh my goodness.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Kindergarten Conferences

Hurray for the boys!
gap-toothed grin
Goofy guy
Today I got to meet one-on-one with both of the boys' teachers.  We really haven't had much conversation with the teachers about the boys, which I assumed was a good thing.  The boys are loving school and are eager to go every day. They are increasingly interested in letters, words, how to spell, counting, adding...  I love how they are making sense of their world and putting concepts together.

Anyway, both teachers raved about the boys and I couldn't be more proud.  While they aren't reading yet, their pre-reading skills are right where they need to be, and both teachers expected that they will be reading within the next few months.

More importantly, both boys are doing well socially.  They are good listeners, good classmates, and helpful.  I was SO proud!  I asked Asher's teacher specifically about the problems we had at school last year (his bossiness), and she said she doesn't see anything like that, that he isn't even one of the classmates most insistent on being line leader.  She said he is a joy to have in the class.
He is getting so tall!
Still my baby
Benjamin's teacher said that he is always helpful, and she trusts him to walk classmates to the office, to take books to the library.  He has a lot of girl friends and seems to get along with everyone.  She also said that he has an aptitude for math and numbers.  Surely he gets that from me- I almost bragged about my SAT scores just so she would know where it comes from!  But I am so thrilled that he is grasping concepts and figuring things out. Sometimes he is so in his own world that it's not clear what is registering with him and what isn't.

I know there is a very long road ahead of us, that kindergarten is just the start, but I feel pleased that they have made the adjustment well.  I also have to admit that I gave myself a little pat on the back for having TWO kindergarteners who are thus far well-adjusted good citizens.  Asher's teacher made some comment about kids picking up on things in the home- that it was apparent we were calm, that he isn't ever aggressive in school and shows kindness to others.  Hurray! For all our faults, and my self-criticism, it is clear Eric and I have done something right.