Sunday, March 29, 2015

Asher and Benjamin are FIVE

Asher & Benjamin
I plan to do a longer post about each of the boys, but since I am already so belated in posting, I will just talk about their birthday and our weekend.

The boys' birthday was on Thursday.  Eric and I made a surprise breakfast for them for their birthday- homemade cinnamon rolls (to die for)!
Cinnamon Roll Cheer
happy face
Then I went to their class and joined them for Morning Meeting, which was fun for me. At the end of circle, I read the class "Benjamin and Tulip" by Rosemary Wells, which was one of my favorites when I was in preschool- I have fond memories of my dad coming to my class to read it to me on my birthday.  The kids really enjoyed it, and laughed at the funny pictures and text.  I went straight from there to work, worked 4 hours, then flew home to start on their birthday dinner.

I made risotto for dinner (Asher's favorite) and an Asian-style chicken in a lettuce wrap, which turned out to be popular only with the adults.  Then, because we hadn't had enough dessert in the past week, I made a chocolate cake so that each boy could have his own cake on his birthday.
The boys didn't come when I called them for dessert so these 2 other March Birthday Boys showed up in their place 
"Hey! That's MINE!"
The next day, Eric took off from work, and we went down to Washington, DC as a birthday gift for the boys.  Many of their friends have gone on exotic vacations, on planes and on cruises, and my poor unfortunate boys hadn't even stayed overnight in a hotel.  So we got 2 nights at the Embassy Suites, which has an indoor pool and breakfast included and visited our nation's capitol. We had a great trip.  We visited Air & Space in Dulles again (at the boys' request):
By the SR-71 Blackbird
In the Observation Tower
Swam in the hotel pool, enjoyed a pizza dinner out:
Benjamin & Charlotte ate more than I did!
and I went for a nighttime run through Georgetown:

The next day we had our free breakfast, in which all 3 kids ate nothing but Froot Loops, then met our friends and went to Air & Space on the Mall:
Going down into the Metro.  Charlotte panicked and had to be held!
Kind of looking at the exhibit
With the sunny and freezing cold Mall behind them
Going back up, out of the Metro
Swam some more, enjoyed cocktail hour with Shirley Temples:
Charlotte took "Color Monkey" everywhere we went
Went to dinner at Aunt Elana's and had a great time trying on a wig she had:
She couldn't stop laughing at herself in the mirror
We left Elana's late, and I dropped Eric and the kids at the hotel for bedtime while I went trolling for a free parking spot.  DuPont Circle on a Saturday night is not exactly the home of easy parking.  I drove around for at least 30 minutes, some of it in stop-and-go traffic, before I pulled into the hotel driveway, resigned to paying $45 for parking for the night.  But then the man at the front desk said, "So sorry, our lot is full! You will have to park around the block, at $35 a night."  So I thought, well, I just saved $10, but what a pain.  I got in the van and then started to pull out of the driveway- but wait! A spot on the street, directly in front of the hotel, open and free.  Really! I couldn't believe my luck!  I backed in and handed back the ticket to get into the overflow garage and saved $35.  By that time, it was bedtime, and that was it for my evening.

Today my sister jogged to the hotel, and then we went on a jogging tour of DC, past all the monuments and down the Mall.  Very scenic.
Elana in front of the Lincoln Memorial
The Washington Monument
The Supreme Court
We ran to our cousin Susannah's house and picked up our cousin Jess, then ran another 2.5 miles.  I ran 8.6 miles and Elana ran 9.6!  It was perfectly sunny, but so cold.  I am really done with this unseasonable weather, and totally ready for spring.

We played near Susannah's, then had pizza there for lunch, and then hit the road.  Asher slept the whole way home, but then crashed before dinner- flushed, tired, lost his appetite.  I am hoping it's just exhaustion, and not true illness.

The weekend was not without its bumps (it's hard to sleep all 5 of us in one room), but overall I had a great time and think everyone else did, too.  So far, the boys have said the best part of the whole weekend was the hotel, but that is fine by me!  I loved our adventure with our big 5 year old boys.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Benjamin & Asher's 5th Birthday Party

Today we celebrated the boys' birthday with a gymnastics party.  For the first time ever, we had their party before their actual birthday, because the next 2 weekends are their spring break, then Passover... so now seemed like a good time to do it.

We had a big crowd, and it was one of the first drop-off parties our kids and their friends have had.  For some kids, this was hard, because they wanted their parents with them.  But most kids seemed to do really well, playing together and following instructions.  We didn't get any great pictures (what's new, I really need to learn how to use my camera!), and the kids were in constant motion!

The party attendees had 60 minutes in the gym with gymnastics teachers, playing games and jumping.  Then they had 30 minutes in the "fun factory," which is climbing, tunnels, slides, and a ball pit.  Then we did a pizza lunch.

Charlotte looking with love at her best friend, Elliott.
Asher at the head of the pack
Benjamin on the run

Love that face!
Not so much that one...
I have cut back on the amount of work I actually do for parties (no more homemade buffets for 60), I still made each boy a homemade birthday cake.  Asher had a vanilla giraffe, and Benjamin had a chocolate tiger.  While I don't think my neighbor who runs a cake business needs to worry about me putting her out of business, I thought I did just fine.

We got a series of pictures of our family as the boys got ready to blow out their candles:
taking candles out of the cake...
Eric loves my face in this picture- Asher had touched the hot wax on his candle, and then threw it. He is screaming, I am screaming, and the candle is flying through the air.
We are inundated with gifts.  We have barely started opening them, but so far the boys have received some very nice things.  

One of the best parts of the day was when I was helping our party "hostess" set up for lunch and she told me that all the other employees were jealous that SHE had gotten assigned to our party- everyone wanted to work our party because they all know and love the kids.  I was so pleased- it is great to hear that our kids stand out in a place that sees hundreds of kids cycle through their gymnastics program.  And that they're recognized for their good manners and sportsmanship.  That was the big gift to me!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just a phase...

Asher walking Charlotte to the park

Boys having snack at the park

Benjamin walking Charlotte home from the park
This idea can bring me comfort, or fill me with fear.  Right now, we are in a really great phase.  I find myself enjoying the kids everyday, and taking great joy in the sweet and funny things that they say and do.  They are being great with each other- playing well, taking care of each other.  Charlotte insists on going to both boys for hugs and kisses before bed, saying "I say na-night my brothers!" The boys have been doing a lot of coloring and artwork, so instead of too much TV (which happens), they will often sit themselves down at their little table and color quietly.  They are eating well and mealtimes are less of a fight.  The boys are going to bed quietly and quickly at night and sleeping through till their alarm clock turns green.
"Hello, baby squirrels! Hello, baby birds!"
So while I use the phrase, "it's just a phase" to get me through all the phases I can barely tolerate (lying on the floor in front of the bedroom door and screaming while kicking the door rather than going to sleep in bed; waiting till after he's started pooping to tell me he needs to poop; taking off her pajamas at bedtime every night and sometimes her diaper too...), I hate to think that this easy rhythm is time-limited as well.  Once again, I'd like to freeze time and keep everything just the way it is.  Maybe just a while longer.

With the boys' 5th birthday looming, I'm going back into my overly-sentimental mommy mindset.  Remember when they were curled up tight in my belly?  Remember when they were itty bitty babies with skinny chicken legs?  Remember that time that I sat on the couch with a crying baby on each side of me, crying myself because I didn't know how to help them? Remember our first, hot summer, walking the hills of the neighborhood because it kept both boys content?  Where did the time go?  The phases we've been through- they all feel so conquerable compared to what is ahead.  The needs of babies seem so simple compared to things like the social ins-and-outs of kindergarten and managing schedules of multiple extra-curricular activities.

Will the day come where I don't look at them with wonder and awe, and marvel at who they are?  On the one hand, I hope not.  On the other, it makes me feel a little squeamish to think that my parents would still think of me that way!  In the meantime, I'm making sure to take several moments each day to capture them as they are in my mind, because I know this won't last forever.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recent humor

Sunday: it was warm but the boys still needed snow gear
The kids have been especially funny lately.  Here are some of the things they've said:

The boys somehow created an idea called "chicken muggets," which is chicken nuggets you eat out of a coffee cup.  I'm not sure that the idea will ever take off, but I love their growing grasp of language.
Charlotte at the zoo: June 2013
Charlotte at the zoo: March 2015
We were at the zoo, visiting the monkey house, which apparently provokes many profound thoughts. The baby monkey was playing with his butt, and I told the boys "that's something people don't do."  To which Asher replied, "Yeah.  But sometimes I play with my penis."

Then Charlotte started yelling, "stinky butt! stinky butt! stinky butt!" at the monkeys.  Great.  Embarrassing.  (She learned that from me, by the way. I called her that when I was changing a horrific diaper.)  My mom and I were kind of giggling and looking the other way, and then Asher yelled, "Jesus!" Which is also something he learned from me.  My mom and I got hysterical; laughing so hard we couldn't stand up, with tears rolling down our cheeks. So, I'm pretty sure I left the zoo with a "Mother of the Year" trophy.  Except that at the exit of the zoo, where they might have awarded it to me, Charlotte fell face-first out of the stroller on to the pavement.

On Friday night we went to a Purim party and were asked to come in costume.  I was saying to Eric that I have nothing to dress up in.  Benjamin said, "Mommy, you have lots of dresses in your closet, you could wear one of those." And Asher said, "Yeah, Mommy! You could go dressed as a LADY!"  I said, "Dressed as a lady?!?! What am I now?" and he said, "A mommy."

Sunday night Eric and I had a very belated Valentine's Day date (thanks to 3 straight weekends of snow storms) and I came downstairs in a dress and heels.  Charlotte jumped up when she saw me, rushed over to hug me and said, "Whoa Mommy! You look beautiful!"  What a charmer!

In ways that I really am doing something right, Benjamin went to the grocery store with me yesterday, and the song "Lips are movin'" came on.  In the song she says, "Tell me, do you think I'm dumb?" and I sang it.  Benjamin said, "What does dumb mean, mommy?"  Hurray for no insults in our house!

Today Charlotte was having trouble settling down for nap.  She asked for her black and white kitty, and she has 3. I handed them all to her and she put the least-loved, nicest-looking one aside and said, "Not this black and white kitty."  I said, "What's wrong with that kitty?"  She picked him up and looked at him, petted him, and said, "His fur... so nice and soft.  His tail... so nice and soft.  Not want this kitty."  The girl knows her own mind, but she is a mystery to me.

Charlotte has enjoyed dressing as a ballerina (or "burinna" as she calls it) for all the Purim festivities. She is adorable in her pink tutu and gets a lot of attention for being so cute.

I've been enjoying them all a lot lately, and appreciating their personalities and abilities. Asher and Charlotte are especially fond of each other.
Asher reading to Charlotte
They have all been so creative, and resourceful.  We went outside again today (two days in a row! Outside! With sunshine!) and the boys were playing in the mud.  My instinct was to say, "Don't play in the mud!" but then I realized- why not?  It's washable.
Benjamin yelling, "pickle!" while Asher digs up our front walk.
While I was getting dinner together, Benjamin and Asher played grocery store.  They took out play food, lined it up on the counter, and pretended to buy it.  Asher counted the items, Benjamin bagged them.  They were playing nicely together, and using their brains.  
At the grocery store
After dinner, Charlotte was quietly coloring in her Hello Kitty coloring book as our friend was leaving.  We said, "Charlotte, say goodbye!" and she looked up with this face:
 and said, "Goodbye!"  I guess someone loves her markers a little too much.

I don't know if it is the change in the weather or what, but I have just been able to enjoy my family over these past few days.  They are fun and funny, and we are having a great time.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow day

Hopefully our last snow day of the season.  Despite my skepticism, as none of our predicted storms had turned into anything, this one really happened.  I canceled all my clients and stayed home with my 3 monkeys.

We went over to our friends' house, which is fun for the kids because it is full of other people's toys.  They played inside and made some art, and then we went out for fun in the snow.  Fun in the snow is always more fun in pictures, because in real life it is very cold, and I don't have adequate snow gear.

Charlotte thought the snow was deep, and kept asking to hold my hand

Asher in winter scenery

snow angel

In the baby swing, screaming because I wasn't pushing her

Happy because her brother pushed her
The snow wasn't great for snowman building, and we didn't have a sled. The kids played till they were cold, and then we went in for lunch.  Asher was very tired. Here they are eating their pizza:
And here they are after we said, "No dessert if you don't smile!"

We came home (we had walked there, and Eric came and drove us home) and all 3 kids napped for about 3 hours.  All day long I was itching to bake- I wanted to make scones, muffins, Irish soda bread, and/or cake, but ended up making Hamantaschen with the dough I had made a few days ago.  Asher woke up just as I was getting started and helped me.  He was a very patient helper.
Hamantaschen helper
 Charlotte also helped... She was slightly messier, and then helped herself to the dough scraps when we were done.

I have no pictures of Benjamin today, but I promise that he was here.  He was very tired all morning, so he was quiet and subdued.  He's been asking for rewards for everything- I have complimented him on his behavior as he's been a good listener and made good choices all the time, and he asked me what he can get for it.  I told him love and hugs and kisses.  He told me, "That's not something people really want."  I'm so glad he takes all that for granted.  Then he took a good nap today and asked what he could get for a good nap!

After dinner (a delicious and healthy meal that the kids refused to eat), Eric built a fire.  Asher took this picture for me. We had some good snuggles by the fire to end our day together.

It was a good day, but I am not an overly sappy "I love snow days!" kind of person.  I don't love the disruption to our schedules, I don't love that I have to go to work tomorrow, and I don't love the anxiety I get when I think about being stuck in the house with all 3 kids.  So this one snow day was enough for me, and now I am ready for it to melt and spring to arrive.