Friday, January 15, 2016

A special visit from Memere

Today Eric's mom left after a week-long visit.  Her visit was my Christmas present- when she was asking me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her I didn't want her to buy me anything, I don't need any more "stuff," but what I really wanted was her time and her organized brain to help me clean and organize my house.  She spent a week here and gave me a priceless Christmas present!

In her week here, she:

  • Painted our family room and kitchen (with Eric's help).  This included all our trim work and the 3 doors we had installed when our kitchen was renovated 2 years ago. For 2 years I had unpainted trim and doors and I just stopped noticing it.
  • Painted a wall of our living room.
  • Rearranged our living room and dining room furniture to be functional and more attractive.
  • Selected places to hang our art, and then hung some of it.
  • Went with me to Homegoods and made me choose a duvet cover and pillow to decorate my room. I haven't purchased or received a new duvet cover since Eric and I married almost 10 years ago.  I also bought a picture to hang in Charlotte's room, which hasn't had a single thing hung in there for the entirety of her life.  Then she hung the picture while I went to work.
  • Decorated the boys' room, including buying comforter and sheet sets. In the 3 years we have lived here, I have hung nothing on their walls. In the 18 months since they have been sleeping in their bunk bed, I never bought them a comforter.  Now they have a decorated room that looks and feels much more like home.
  • Organized Charlotte's and the boys' drawers; pulled the baby items I had been hiding in the back of the boys' closet out and made me deal with them.
  • Pulled all the random toiletries I had been piling in my bathroom out and made me sort them, then put the ones I kept back in the bathroom in an organized way.
  • Re-organized my pantry.
  • Moved our appliances in the kitchen so our counters look clearer and we have more usable counter space.
  • Hung blinds and valances.
  • Decluttered all our surfaces.
  • Did at least 7 loads of laundry.
  • Swept and vacuumed. Eric joked that our cleaning lady will have nothing to do when she comes on Tuesday!
  • Made lasagna while I worked all day.
  • Babysat the kids while Eric and I went out to dinner with friends.
I am willing to bet that she did more than that and that I'm leaving some things out, but I think that list gives a good idea of how helpful she was.  The week flew by (at least it did for me, she may have been counting the minutes to getting home and getting some rest) and we were all sad to see her go today.

There were tears when we dropped her at the airport, and tonight when I tucked Asher into bed he said, "Mommy, I want something." I said, "what do you want?" and he said, "I want Memere back."  The kids loved having all the time with and attention from Memere, and it made a difference to have another adult in the house.

Now that Memere is retired, I have many ideas as to how she can spend her time. I told her she has to come back again so we can have a trip just to play, with days in the city and seeing a show, a trip out to Lancaster, and leisure time.  I also suggested that they join us for the weekend when we go to DC to celebrate the boys' birthday.  It did make me wish that Eric's parents lived closer to us so that the kids could spend more time with them- it is hard when we are far away and it takes so long to get from one place to another.  

I got the best Christmas gift ever, and I am enjoying my clean, grown-up looking house. It is finally beginning to feel like a home, and not just a place where we are stashing our belongings.  We still have a few more things to do, but when the sun is shining again, I will take some pictures of her hard work and post them.

Monday, January 11, 2016


We are in the midst of a decorative overhaul here- courtesy of Eric's mom. She flew down from Maine and is spending the week helping me purge my collected garbage, clean, and decorate. Three years in this house and I haven't decorated anything at all, so sometime soon we will have a house that vaguely resembles a grown-up's, and not a college kid's.

This post, though, is about my sweet boy Benjamin.  I am just so impressed with him and his interest in trying new things, and adapting... while still being his out-to-lunch self.

This morning, he had a hard time getting ready for school- 10 minutes after I asked him to get dressed, he was sitting in his underwear, and when I asked him to GET DRESSED, he started to take his underwear off!  Then we were running late and I asked him to get on his coat and shoes- which he did, but forgot his backpack.  I was so out to lunch that I didn't even notice he didn't have it when I walked him to school, and he and I were both surprised when he came home from school without a backpack. What a pair we make!

Today Benjamin had his first day of basketball at the JCC.  Originally, Asher had asked to play basketball this winter.  As sign-up time near, Asher changed his mind- but Benjamin said he still wanted to do it.  So today I took Benjamin, by himself, to his first basketball class.  This is the 3rd class he has taken by himself after Asher pooped out. First it was gymnastics, then art, and now basketball. I love that he tries these things by himself, and enjoys them.

Benjamin is also an adventurous eater, and likes to try new and unfamiliar foods.  He likes all kinds of ethnic foods, and Eric and I both get a great deal of pleasure from watching him eat and enjoy food. I told Benjamin I would take him out for a Japanese lunch someday, which he was excited about. I am pretty sure that without his brother and sister's negative influence, he will try and like sushi.
A case of goofball-itis
Benjamin is our consistent and predictable child.  He is empathic and kind, sweet and silly.  He's not reading independently yet, but he loves being read to, and we have spent time together snuggled on the couch reading some good books.  Right now we are in the middle of "Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" and yet another Magic Treehouse book.

Today I am feeling especially close to, and in love with, my sweet boy. I wanted to take time to write about it so that I will remember these special moments with him.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas 2015

We are back from what felt like a very short visit to Maine for Christmas with Eric's family.  We left on Wednesday evening, the 23rd, and drove up from 6:30 pm until 1:30 am on Christmas Eve. Eric drove the whole way, carefully, in the pouring rain.  I made a big deal out of saying, "Don't wake me in the morning, I'm sleeping in until 10!" But when the clock hit 7:30, I was awake just like any other day.

We had lazy days where the kids stayed in pajamas and played with toys and watched TV. On Christmas Eve, I forced myself to go out and jog 4 miles, and then I came home and took a nap!  Christmas Eve evening we went to Eric's grandparents for dinner and a visit from Santa.
Me with Asher in an elf hat
The kids were pretty excited to see Santa and see what presents he had brought.   Asher had drawn him a picture of Asher and Santa, which he was eager to give.

Charlotte gave Santa a hug

 My sweet children consumed endless amounts of candy while refusing all nutritious food.  And of course we let them eat it.  Then we went home for a late bedtime and to wait for Santa's big visit.

On Christmas morning, the kids opened their stockings and the gifts from Eric's grandparents.  They each got a Beanie baby which they loved, and carted around from that moment on. Asher got a cat named "Freckles," Benjamin a panda named "Bamboo," and Charlotte a cat that she calls "Becca Kitty," but also calls a "he." I am both honored to be her toy's namesake and worried that she thinks I am a boy.
Look of excitement over the Beanie baby 

Mommy, Benjamin, Bamboo
We then cooked a big breakfast, and then the kids played some more. Eventually we made it out to a playground, because it was almost 60 degrees and sunny. On Christmas Day. In Maine. So there we were, playing outside at the playground with no coats on!

 After that, the kids took good naps to get ready for their cousins' arrival that night.  When they came over, we had a big dinner and then opened the gifts Eric's parents had bought. Each kid had 7 wrapped gifts, and they opened them one at a time and we all took a moment to see what people were opening.  My poor mother-in-law has 9 grandchildren she buys for!

Eric's brother and his wife have 6 kids, the youngest is just 1 month old.  I got the special treat of holding her- and I can tell you that my desire to have another baby has not gone away. In the moments where I want to sit on my kids just to make them do what I want, I think maybe another wouldn't be such a great idea. But holding a tiny, warm newborn baby against my chest and listening to her breathe... I want my own!

At the end of gift opening, one of our nephews got sick and vomited. I did not keep my cool. I am a total vomit-phobe and the idea of my kids getting a stomach bug makes me completely anxious. Beyond anxious. Charlotte was between my nephew and the door and I yelled, "Charlotte! Get out of the way!" and definitely sent her into a panic. Not cool, Mom, not cool.  Then my niece Myah told me that she had been throwing up that morning. Oh, great!  Fortunately we are now 72 hours out from the vomit incident with no problems here, so I am hoping we escaped.

The next day I needed to get out of the house. Eric and his dad planned a woodworking project (new and improved organization coming soon!), so I was on my own. The kids were tired and a little nuts, and I took them to the children's museum in Dover, NH. It is a great little museum, and the kids were at just the right age for a lot of the exhibits and play. We played for a couple of hours, and then went out to lunch, and then came back.
Charlotte driving the submarine 
Benjamin talking on the phone in the pretend post office
We had visited the museum once before, in August 2013, and I took this picture of Charlotte:
Charlotte, 8 months old
On this visit, I took this picture:
She is holding up 3 fingers on each hand because she is now 3 years old
My BABY! She is so big! My mom also commented that we thought she was a cutie then, but now she is even more beautiful.

We went to lunch at a pizza place up the street, it was delicious and we were all starving.
Watching the men make pizza
A man watched me take the above picture and then commented, "Now you have photographic evidence that you are super mom!" I don't think of my taking my 3 kids out as such a feat, but maybe not all parents do it. After more play, we went back to Eric's parents' and tried more naps.  Charlotte was a total pain and managed to keep Benjamin from napping, so they dragged around like zombies the rest of the day.

Eric and his dad went to see Star Wars that night, so I thought the no-naps would work in my favor in getting Charlotte and Benjamin to sleep.  No such luck. Charlotte continued to be a total pain and kept getting out of her pack n play to jump on her brothers in bed. At 9:10, when she was still up, I decided to move her pack n play into the closet that is off of the bedroom Eric and I share (she has slept in there previous visits but had said she wanted to be with her brothers this time). She acted like she had won the lottery, smiling and giggling. As I set up her pack n play in the closet with a refrigerator and shelves full of my mother-in-law's appliances, she clasped her hands and said, "Oooh, I LOVE it! It's SO booot-iful in here!"  Oh my god. That girl. In the meantime, her brothers were happily hauling her crap (blankets, pillow, stuffed animals) into the closet, thrilled to be rid of her. After that, everyone went to sleep, and Pat and I were able to finish watching "Coming to America" in peace.

On Sunday we went up to Freeport to visit my cousins, who took us to their Y, where we went candle-pin bowling and swimming. What a treat! Charlotte ended up getting a pretty good score, even though she could barely throw the ball down the alley and it would just kind of drift.  Then we spent an hour swimming in the warm, indoor pool- such a treat for a cold and rainy day in December!
Asher keeping score
After our busy morning, all of the kids did nap. On Sunday evening we celebrated Charlotte and Chandler's birthdays (Chandler is 1 year and 6 days younger than Charlotte) with pizza and cupcakes. There were more gifts for Charlotte- the little pumpkin is spoiled!
On Monday we went out to breakfast with Eric's parents, and then we had planned to go volunteer at the nursing home in town, but the kids were not in great shape, and Eric was eager to get home.  So off we went, and spent all day in the car.  We got home in time for dinner, where my parents and Jane and Ed met us with a big dinner.

We've now spent all week ignoring our usual schedule and semi-healthy eating habits.  I went to work on Tuesday and enjoyed the break!  Last night we hosted New Years Eve, which was lovely. And the New Year deserves its own post, but this year we had a very merry and joyful Christmas. I don't know how the kids will wait another year for it to come again.