Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

We just finished Memorial Day weekend, where we tried to cram as much fun and excitement into the weekend as we could.  I didn't take many pictures (supposedly that is good, since it means I was busy enjoying myself), but wanted to write down some of my thoughts and memories of the weekend.

On Friday night, we took a picnic dinner to Chanticleer, which is an old house with extensive gardens.  On Friday nights in the summer, you can take dinner and eat on the lawn and walk the grounds.  We always set our blankets at the top of the hill, and the kids run up and down the hill all evening.  At the bottom of the hill is a koi pond, which they love to visit and look at the fish.  Asher is very independent and will explore as much as we let him; Benjamin is more conservative and sticks by my side.  Benjamin also gets worried if we don't see Asher for an extended period of time, and was grabbing my arm and saying, "I don't see Asher!  ASHER! ASHER!"  It's endearing and sweet- they are so aware of each other.

Saturday I took the 3 kids to Sesame Place while Eric went on a very long bike ride.  As I got on the highway, I noticed that the van was on E and was telling me it had 7 miles to empty- not even close to getting us to Sesame Place!  I had to pull of the highway in North Philadelphia, and on the exit ramp, a homeless man was asking for money.  His sign said he needed a meal, so when I told the kids he was hungry, they wanted to give him food. I bought him a granola bar at the gas station while I filled up, and then we drove back to give it to him- our mitzvah for the day.  I have to say that he didn't seem overly excited at my choice of food vs money, but, as the saying goes, beggars can't be choosers!
Acting like rock stars
With Ernie, and their friends Noah and Maddie
Watching a show
We had a great day at Sesame Place.  This year, the boys are over 42" tall and can ride many of the rides by themselves without an "adult companion."  And Charlotte is over 36" tall and so is able to go on rides where she wasn't tall enough to ride at all last year.  This made the whole experience easier, since the boys could ride together and I could ride with Charlotte.  All 3 kids were wonderfully behaved, until the end, when Charlotte lost her mind and lay in the middle of the crosswalk back to the parking lot, screaming.  In a panic I yanked her up and carried her to the car- and I am pretty sure I pulled her elbow out of the socket.  I have to pat myself on the back and say I didn't panic about any of it, just popped her elbow back in and made sure she could use her arm before buckling her in her seat and going on our way.

Saturday night, after naps (although only Charlotte slept, oh my goodness), we met friends at a playground for another picnic dinner.  We ordered pizza and sat outside eating while the kids ran around and played.  There was actually some time for the grown ups to have conversation!  Then we went and got ice cream for dessert.  Charlotte and Asher insist on getting rainbow ice cream, which looks to me like play-doh and has a ton of food coloring in it.  But they love it.  Benjamin will vary his choices a little- he had birthday cake this time.  Again the kids were pleasant to be around and I was very proud of their choices and behavior.

On Sunday we had plans to drive to the Jersey Shore as a family, but Benjamin woke up with a stomach ache and threw up.  So it was decided that I would go with Charlotte and Asher while Daddy stayed home with Benjamin.  The long ride to the beach (2 hours) included Charlotte asking question after question, and when Asher would answer her, she would say, "I'm not talkin' a you, Asher!" or "Asher! No talkin'! Only Mommy talk!"  Asher asked constantly how many minutes until we were there.  Then he said, "I have to go pee NOW!" and I had to pull over so he could pee in some trees. Thank goodness for boys!  Then, Charlotte changed her mind about going to the beach (we were about 1.5 hours in at this point) and told me, "I don't want to go to the beach! I don't want to see Papa Nick and Meema!"  Of course as soon as we parked and she saw them she was happy as can be.

Asher and Charlotte played for hours on the beach.  They played together, they played alone, they played with Papa Nick and Uncle Ed.  Asher walked and looked for sea shells, and Charlotte dug in the sand.  It was a chilly day with a lot of wind, so they kept coming to me for snuggles and to warm up, but they were so low-needs that I even got to read some of my book!
Playing together
Buckets of water
Charlotte with Uncle Ed
We drove home in the late afternoon and they both slept the whole way home.  We got home in time to have dinner with Daddy and Benjamin, who was feeling much better, and then an early bedtime.

Today, I went on a long run- 11 miles.  I have a few weeks until my half-marathon, which I am now dreading.  13 miles, really? It felt hard enough to finish the 11 I did today.  Although, what is 2 more miles after 11, right?  I have just a few more weeks to sell myself on the idea.

After my run, we packed up yet another picnic (Thank you, Pat, for the insulated picnic cooler, I am definitely getting your money's worth!) and went to the outdoor pool at the kids' school.  We were the first people there and got the seats in the shade, but the kids spent the whole time in and out of the kiddie pool.  Around 11:30, classmates of Charlotte's started to show up, so she was excited to see them and play with them a little.  Then we found out there were free ice cream sundaes at 1 o'clock! After hours in the sun and a little ice cream, we went home for naps.
Charlotte with her classmate enjoying their sundaes
Tonight we had dinner at our friends' house to celebrate their daughter's 5th birthday.  The kids definitely have their favorite toys there and rush into the house to start playing.  Benjamin was in a police man costume the second we were in the door!  We had a nice evening and an early dinner, leaving us time to get home and get the kids into bed to rest up for school tomorrow.  Asher said his favorite parts of the weekend were Chanticleer and playing at the pool.  I think we are all excited about the beginning of summer and the many activities we will get to do over the coming months.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Benjamin: 5 years old

Big, serious eyes on that sweet little face
My little Boo Buddy (how much longer will he let me call him that?).  Right now, Benjamin is my easiest child.  He very infrequently makes trouble.  At many points, he was the trouble-maker- I remember him kicking all night long in his crib, he is always the first to drop a nap or cut back on sleep, and he had trouble with potty training and transitions.  Right now, Benjamin is easy going.  He often seems unfazed by things (maybe because he doesn't actually notice them?  He is often out to lunch!), and will take care of himself.  I know there were times where he was more temperamental, but I can't think of any recent incidents where he has acted out or been trouble for me.  He is showing such maturity for a little guy- he is good at negotiating and sharing and just seems content with the way things go.

He never makes a big deal or a scene (unlike his siblings).  One night we were out at dinner and the kids got a scoop of ice cream with their meal. Benjamin ordered Mint Oreo ice cream and Charlotte ordered strawberry. After Benjamin tasted Charlotte's strawberry ice cream, he started to cry. Not loudly, not saying a word, just tears running down his cheeks. It turned out he liked strawberry and not mint and had changed his mind.  Such sweetness- the waiter got him a scoop of strawberry right away.
Selfie by Benjamin
Benjamin loves to read to himself and to be read to. He will often bring a book and sit on my lap so that we read together. He easily plays with Legos or cars by himself.  Like his daddy, Benjamin is interested in video games and will play Minecraft or Angry Birds on the iPad if I let him. He's good company and will stay with me in the kitchen if I cook, and loves to go on walks and to the playground.  His favorite thing to ask is "Where does (insert item here) come from?  How is (insert item here) made?" Most of the time I don't actually know the answer, but I love his curiosity. He is also interested in which animal his meat came from, which gives me pangs of guilt when I tell him.

We both love all food, and Benjamin has a great appetite.  He asked for artichoke for dinner the other night!  He eats pretty much everything we feed him, and will almost always eat what he has asked for, and then some.  He is slow and methodical in his eating, but I get such a kick out of watching him work his way through a plate full of food.  Despite the fact that he eats more than twice what his brother and sister eat, he is fairly small and slight.  He told me yesterday that he is smaller than Asher because he doesn't nap, and that nap time helps Asher grow bigger.

Benjamin's brain always seems to be working, and he has a good memory.  He is still having trouble with his pronunciation- he usually leaves off the "s" at the beginning of a word if it is followed by a consonant, meaning "stop" becomes "top."  He also leaves out the "r" that follows a consonant, so "treat" becomes "teat" and "gray" becomes "gay."  Yes, Eric and I are completely immature and got hysterical when Benjamin came downstairs in gray sweatpants and a gray t-shirt and said, "My outfit is so gay!"  Eric and I try hard to correct him, and Benjamin has learned to talk around the words he mispronounces, or to use synonyms.  For example, when Benjamin called a tree a "tee," Eric tried to get him to say the r, by slowly saying "Tuh-ree, Benjamin.  Tuh-ree."  So Benjamin said, "bush!" Since I told Benjamin that his friends in kindergarten will have a hard time understanding him if he doesn't say his words correctly, I have noticed him making a more concerted effort to pronounce things more clearly.
Monkey on the monkey bars
I am assuming the boys will be separated when they get to kindergarten, which is hard on me.  I asked Benjamin if he wanted to be in the same class as Asher, or a different one, and he said, "Different!  Asher is so bossy!" but then quickly changed his mind.  I'm planning to do whatever the school recommends, and Benjamin will find a way to speak for himself, I am sure.  At home, Asher often bosses him around and tells him what to do.  Benjamin generally ignores him and keeps doing whatever he wants, but he will sometimes tell Asher to stop telling him what to do.

Since Benjamin is my least-demanding child, I worry I will lose him in the shuffle, so I try to make a point to seek him out and give him my attention.  We do get our one-on-one time while his siblings nap, and I do give him hugs and kisses as often as he'll let me.  I also compliment him on his exemplary behavior frequently.  Which has resulted in him looking for rewards and asking, "So what do I get for making good choices?"
Helping me bake while his siblings napped
I just re-read my post about Benjamin from when he turned 4, and so little has changed!  It is nice, in a way, to see that my children are developing consistent personalities.  Especially because I like their personalities so much!  Benjamin is a wonderful child.  He seems to care about his family and friends, and enjoys their company, but is also able to be by himself without anyone entertaining him.

Here are the things I love about Benjamin: the way he always tries to sit on my lap or Eric's lap when we eat even if he starts out in his own chair; his little lips when he eats and talks; his beautiful smile; his big, serious eyes; his quiet consistency; the way he always surprises me by knowing something I had no idea he knew anything about; his little hands and fingers and the way he is so steady and strong in using them; the fact that he still sings the 4 questions despite not singing a single one at seder.  I am so impressed with the boy he is becoming, and I am so lucky that my son is such a sweet, smart boy.

Here is what I said to Benjamin tonight: "How did you get so wonderful? You are such a wonderful, smart, kind, loving little boy. I love you so much, do you know that?" To which he wrapped his little spaghetti arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two days

Here are pictures from the past two days, in an effort to capture the kids, their personalities, their beauty, and the fun we have.

Friday ice cream treat after a picnic lunch at the playground:
Benjamin, slow and steady, with an ice cream goatee

Asher finished his cone in no time with no mess, then hopped on my back like a monkey

Asked after this, "Mommy, I have a little ice cream on my face?"
 Friday night, after dinner at our friends', we went to the carnival.
Waiting for the first ride- a roller coaster!

Strapped in and ready to go

The boys are in the middle, you can see Asher's white shirt
 It was a success! They smiled and had a great time- so different from when we came 3 years ago.  Then Asher and I rode the Ferris wheel. Charlotte said she wanted to ride with us, and waited patiently for a long time. Then the second her tush hit the seat, she bounced up and said, "I don't want to ride the Ferris wheel!"
Daddy and Charlotte waving to us from below

Mommy and Bear high in the sky
 Charlotte finally got on a ride- little cars. She is on a pink car, and her friend Reid is behind her, with the boys behind him.

Today I took the kids to the zoo while Eric went on a bike ride.  It was perfect weather- overcast but not cold.  We barely saw any animals and mostly stood in place and ate snacks, or posed on statues.
Benjamin looks pretty hip here. Asher picked out his own outfit

Love my pink lady
Tonight we went to a neighbor's birthday party and sat outside in the beautiful weather. We read books before bed, all 3 kids piled on to my lap, slipping off and climbing back on.  Last night I cried- after seeing the teenagers at the fair, I panicked at the idea of my babies growing up, becoming awkward, preferring a night out with their friends to a night home in my lap.  Preferring to seek out the kiss of a romantic interest instead of my maternal love.  It's all flying by, going so fast.  I get such pleasure from their achievements and their steady development, but please, don't let them grow up too quickly.  Their precious little bodies, their soft skin, their high-pitched voices, their trust in me and belief in good- I want it all to last.  I'm heartbroken that it won't.  I only hope that they always know how much I love them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Broad St Run 2015

Pre-race- we got there 6 minutes after the race started and still had 30 minutes to wait
Sunday I ran the Broad Street Run for the 3rd year in a row.  It's the way I got started running, and now I really look forward to it.  We had perfect weather, too- sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and really not too hot until the end of the race.

The first year I ran it, my time was 10:05/mile; this year it was 9:31. I am not sure how significant that change is, because it doesn't seem like a huge deal, but I am getting faster each time I run.  I started out even faster, but lost steam around mile 6-7.  Mile 7-10 are always my least favorite, so maybe it was a psychological thing? The sun getting hotter? I just couldn't wait to be done!

I'm now registered for 2 more races, both half-marathons, both of which I did last year.  Just to keep me moving.  It feels like quite an accomplishment to run all those miles.  Yesterday I saw a spectator with a sign that said, "Run with gratitude- each mile is a blessing" or something like that.  It was just what I needed, to remember that I am so lucky to have this body, my health, the ability to run those 10 miles on my own two legs. Even though there are 40,000 people who run that race every year, not everyone can, and I am grateful for that.
Attempt to capture some of the thousands of people who ran
Selfie by City Hall with Alex
Since the race, I haven't felt great- I started with a sore throat on Sunday night and then felt achy, sore, and tired all day Monday.  Over the course of the day today I began to feel better, but still not myself- a little sniffly and congested. I am not sure if the lack of sleep (pre-race anxiety) and all the exertion of the race took a toll or what.

Post-race selfie with Alex
Jess, me, Alex
3 years in a row of running Broad Street- it really is a fun race and I look forward to all the crowds, music, and excitement along the course.  I'm already looking forward to next year!