Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Six years old! and a trip to DC

The boys are SIX! Somehow, incredibly, we have made it through another year with two healthy and happy boys. As their birthday got closer we spent a lot of time talking about the day they were born, and I spent many moments hugging and snuggling them and trying to remember how they used to fit into a small ball on my chest.

To celebrate their birthday, we decided not to do a big birthday party as we have in years past. Now that they are in 2 different kindergarten classes, plus their enrichment class, plus all of our old friends, I couldn't figure out a way to include everyone who needed including while still keeping it manageable. Instead, we planned a weekend trip to DC, and as a super-special treat, Memere and Pepere came down from Maine to come with us!

They came down on Thursday afternoon, and we had dinner together. The kids were thrilled to have their grandparents here. It was perfect spring weather and we all had great anticipation for the weekend.

Friday morning we got up and packed the car and headed down to DC. Instead of going right into the city, we went to Arlington National Cemetery in the hopes of making it to the changing of the guard. Well. What we didn't know was- the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is 3/4 of a mile from the visitor center, and that is if you walk straight there and don't get lost, like certain people who can't read a map (not naming any names). Plus it is hilly. We raced toward the tomb, dragging the kids along with us, and then the hour chimed and we still weren't there!  Finally we got there, and there was a huge crowd. I called on my experience rushing the stage at concerts and pushed the boys through the crowd, and I followed right behind, until we were right at the front.

 Asher watched with rapt attention and Benjamin asked me question after question, despite my numerous reminders that there was NO TALKING until the ceremony was over. Benjamin also complained that it was "too sunny."

When we got into DC and to our hotel, we went straight to the pool- the part the boys had most been looking forward to! After a swim, we got ourselves dressed and went out to dinner.  The kids seemed really hungry and so they actually ate their food. After dinner we got the kids into bed, and when they were finally asleep, Eric and I snuck out to meet my sister around the corner for a drink.
 After a mediocre night's sleep, we woke up on Saturday morning to 2 six year-olds!
My baby can still snuggle up on my chest
 We got ready in a hurry, rushed out to breakfast, and then my sister picked us up and chauffeured us to the zoo.  As I have chronicled in this blog, we have made MANY attempts to see baby pandas at the zoo. Our first attempt was an absolute failure. Our second attempt was somewhat more successful, and we did see some pandas. But this time!  We went to overlook the panda area and saw the tree shaking- and up came the baby panda, Bei Bei!  He climbed up right in front of us, and we got a good look at him. Adorable!
Bei Bei
 We walked the whole zoo and saw elephants, llamas, otters, and who knows what else, and frankly, I was exhausted and it was only 11 am.  While my sister drove, we had 8 people in our 8 person van, and I was crammed in the 3rd row between my two birthday boys.
 We went back to the hotel for another swim, lunch, and an attempt at naps.  Only Asher slept.  I went out with my sister for a little shopping trip and came back around 4. The weather was perfect- sunny but not too hot and not too cold.  The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Gorgeous!  We walked from our hotel to the White house, and then decided to walk some more.
"not tired"
So happy to be 6 and at the White House. This is what I get when I ask for a smile!
 At some point shortly after the White House, Eric had to pee- and we couldn't find a single bathroom anywhere! We ended up at the Washington Monument, and still no bathrooms.
I told Asher he was a unicorn
 It was getting close to dinner time, so we tried to work our way back toward Elana's apartment and hopefully also find a bathroom along the way.  The crowds were unbelievable, and then- the roads were closed!  The presidential motorcade was headed our way- just a little extra excitement for our day.
Motorcade roaring by
We continued to walk and argue over options- walk all the way to Elana's? Order an Uber? Some people take a cab and I would run?  We did find a bathroom, and no Ubers. So- we divided up into 2 groups and I took the 3 kids in one cab (no car seats, the boys were totally thrilled, and Charlotte sat on my lap like I was a booster, please don't have me arrested) and Eric and his parents went in another. Then, by some stroke of good luck, we all arrived at Elana's door at the same moment, right as she was walking up with our pizza. We were starving! Continuing from last year's tradition, we raided Elana's box of Mardi Gras supplies and put on masks and beads. And laughed hysterically at how we looked and at the fact that my big Jewish nose wouldn't fit inside the small plastic molded nose on the mask.
Asher in hysterics. Elana's nose didn't fit in a mask either.
Elana made the boys a delicious birthday cake- yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Each boy had picked out a toy to "decorate" the cake- the rubber duck is Asher's and the Lego man is Benjamin's. Plus Aunt Elana had no birthday candles, so we had to use Shabbos candles. 

Blowing out their candles
After our evening at Elana's, we walked home.  The big joke on the trip was that everything was 0.6 miles from the hotel. Restaurant? 0.6 miles. Elana's? 0.6 miles. The White House? 0.6 miles. Pat and Steve did not believe that this was the truth and that I kept saying it just to get them to walk somewhere. At the end of the day on Saturday, my phone said I had walked 8.5 miles! Those 0.6 miles sure did add up.

Sunday morning, Eric dropped Elana, the kids, and me off at my cousin Susannah's, and he and his parents went out to the Air & Space museum in Dulles. We had breakfast with Susannah and her family, and then Elana and I took the kids to the Museum of the American Indian, to which they had been begging to go.  And who knows why, they weren't interested in anything and mostly dragged around whining.
A test of balance for kayaking, Asher held his balance a full minute and I couldn't even do 1 second.
In addition, the museum was thin on actual information and just plain depressing. There were a lot of pictures of poor, sad Native Americans. I must have also missed the area of the museum where they talk about the Trail of Tears and what the white people did to the Native Americans. Next time we go to DC- not going to that museum.
My sister's caption: "The wheels are falling off"
We drove home from DC, got home around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, and immediately started cooking a ham for Easter dinner. We cooked a huge dinner- ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn, salad, and a hummingbird cake for dessert. The kids also had an indoor Easter egg hunt. Charlotte kept offering people jelly beans, and then saying, "Oh, ok, I will have one, too."

Pat and Steve left first thing on Monday morning, and the boys went off to school. By Monday evening, we were back into our normal routine.

We finished our birthday celebrations on Monday night with cupcakes at Jane and Ed's.  The boys didn't complain even once about all the cake forced on them over the previous 4 days.
Asher seems to have some mixed feelings about being 6. He has been sad a few times at bedtime, and made comments like, "Now that I'm 6, I can't get snuggled anymore." But more about him when I do the boys' individual birthday posts. In any case- my boys are SIX. It is wonderful, and we are incredibly fortunate.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Little things

Here are some of the kids' funny mispronunciations, sayings, and doings:

"Let's give Asher a big round of a-claws!"

"Girl Spout" cookie

I also know that I have totally spoiled them- at least once a week, I make homemade pancakes. White whole wheat flour, buttermilk, sometimes blueberries or strawberries. Well, the kids told me they like Miss Kate's (their enrichment teacher) better. And hers? Bisquick from a box.

Charlotte has asked me to play pretend with her. She wants me to pretend that I am a baby, and she can be the mommy or daddy. I pretend to cry and then she says, "here, baby, want to watch something on my phone?" and she hands me my old, non-digital camera from the 1990s.  Eric and I have gotten a good laugh out how the kids don't even know what a camera with film is.  In addition to the fact that Charlotte things parenting means handing over your phone.

When Charlotte learned about President's Day at school, I asked her what she had learned. She told me, "We learned about the Presidents... but we only got time to talk about the boy ones."  Then I felt a little sad that one day she will learn that there weren't any girl presidents to talk about, and that in general, women don't have the same chances for success that men do.

Speaking of presidents, or the presidential race, I have a small obsession with Donald Trump. I like to read the NY Times online and then begin to huff and puff about the things he says.  I must do it a lot, because now Benjamin talks about Donald Trump.  When I asked if Benjamin knew who Donald Trump is, he said, "I know he is a mean guy!" I guess my political leanings have come across.

Benjamin has been enjoying basketball, but he seems to have inherited my athletic ability. When he was guarding other people while playing, he held his hands in the air and did the hokey pokey and paid no attention to the actual game. As a result, the ball sailed over his head and into the stands. 2 seconds later, when the ball again came his way, he didn't make any attempt to catch it, and instead it hit him square on the forehead.  Next up: T-ball.

We got a Passover "cootie catcher" in the mail (we get a book every month from a company called PJ Library, it is free Jewish books), and inside of it are things like, "When we sing 'Dayenu' at the Passover seder, we are giving thanks. What is something you say thank you for?" But Charlotte only wants us to read the one that says, "The Jews had to flee Egypt in a hurry. How quickly can you run to the other side of the room?" and then she will run across (or around) the room. But every time, we have to go through all the steps to get to the inside- no short-cuts.