Friday, September 30, 2016

Cat Party, continued

The cat party as imagined never materialized.  Which, in a way, is good, because I didn't know how I was going to procure mouse popsicles.

We did, however, take in 2 gray kittens to foster.  They came with the names "Taylor" and "Trudi" (which is funny because the kids have cousins named Taylor and Trudi), but we couldn't figure out which was which at any given point. We eventually settled into calling them Bitey and Snuggly, based on their behavior.

They were quickly adored.  They tolerated the kids' affections, and at night when the kids were in bed, they would snuggle up with me on the couch while I watched the Olympics, and often snuggled with each other.
evening snuggles
Laundry snuggles
Kindly tolerating affection
More evening snuggles
Find the real kitty!
They became party of our family.  But of course we knew we couldn't keep them- 3 kids and 2 cats already puts me over the edge.  So my mom found them a home through her synagogue listserv, and one day the family came over to visit, and a couple of days later, they came back and took the kittens.  The house felt strangely quiet without them.  The worst was when Asher got home from camp and Eric told him the kittens were gone.  He broke down crying, sobbing that his heart was broken into pieces.  It broke my heart.  Then we agreed that the fostering thing wasn't such a good idea, because we all got so attached.

Following the kittens' departure, we found out that our cats had fleas. (Ugh.)  Then we went to the Cape, and when we got home, Trouble was acting strangely- he wasn't spending time with us, didn't seem to be eating or drinking regularly.  After a week of this behavior, we took him to the vet, who found nothing wrong. Trouble improved almost instantly.  We think he was just depressed because we'd left him for so long.

So we decided to devote our attentions to our own cats, who are boring now that they are old and sedentary and pee in our shower when they are mad at us.  That lasted until two weeks ago, when we broke down and agreed to foster a little kitten named Walnut.

He wasn't quite as affectionate as Bitey and Snuggly, but he was sweet and super tiny and had a funny short tail.  He was also very energetic and would fly around the house and take everyone off guard.  Of course we grew to love him, too, and he would sit with me while I did laundry or on my chest in the evenings.  
Helping me with laundry
Then we found ear mites in Peanut, and he had to go to the vet.  So even though the cat fostering cost us nothing, we were out a few hundred in vet bills and vaccinations.  Not my favorite.  We decided Walnut needed a new home.

On his last night with us, Walnut figured out how to climb up to our bed, and in the morning I woke up with him snuggled up to my back.  I went to work, and while I was at work and the kids were at school, a family came to meet him and they loved him so much that they took him.  We didn't get to say goodbye!

When the kids got home, it was more hysteria, from Asher and Charlotte.  Big, fat tears.  Questions from Charlotte about why Walnut's forever home can't be with us.  I miss him, too.  Again we have agreed no more fostering- the cat party is certainly over for the time being!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Charlotte's 1st day of school + end of summer

Excited to go to school. Picked out her own outfit!
 Charlotte had her first day of school on Tuesday the 13th. She is in Miss Tammy's 4 year-old class with many of her friends from the year before. We went to the open house the Friday before and she knew what was coming.  That morning, she cheered and ran to her brothers and said, "I'm going to school today!" She happily dressed herself in her pretty outfit, posed for photos, and then got in the car. Her school is about .5 miles away. As we drove, she got quiet and then said, "I'm worried.  What if no one in my class is happy to see me?" She kept feeling worried the rest of the way, and then cried when we got there. Oh, no! The first time she has cried on the first day of school.

My sad, sweet pumpkin
Fortunately, she was fine by the time Eric picked her up at noon. She told him, "I was sad for a little, and maybe I even cried, but then I decided not to be sad anymore, and I had a great day!"  Smart girl! She has been happy there every day since.

In my usual make-summer-last-until-I-can't-pretend-anymore way, we have been doing as much as we can outside, even swimming, until we can't.

First, we went apple-picking on a 90 degree day.  The Honeycrisps were ready and I didn't want to miss them!
Hot, sweaty, and squinting into the sun
 Then, swimming- the last day for swimming at the JCC pool, and swimming at Jane and Ed's until the pool is too cold to be comfortable.  All 3 kids just love to swim, and they are all getting good at it.  I will really miss our swim outings this winter!
Lunchtime swim at Jane & Ed's

Last weekend I took Asher and Charlotte to Sesame Place for the last day of water rides.  They are both equally adventurous and we got to do a lot of rides twice.  Charlotte adores Asher, and he adores her.
Love bugs
Happy roller-coaster lovebugs
 In the past few weeks, Charlotte has developed all kinds of new skills. One- she can now pump her legs and swing herself on the swings without any help. On the one hand, I am thrilled at her strength and independence. On the other hand, the baby swing has come down from our swing set, and won't go back up.
Swinging all by herself
She has also suddenly begun coloring and drawing in a much more advanced way. Even a couple of months ago, all her drawings were what we called, "scribble scrabble." Then on Monday, this:
A drawing of Mommy
and coloring in the lines, with great pride at her attention to detail. My baby, growing up too fast, as usual.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

First Grade

One week ago, the boys started first grade.  They are at the same school that they attended last year, but instead of going half-days each day, they now go from 9-3:30 each day.  They eat lunch at school, and have the option to buy lunch at the cafeteria if they would like.

We wait all summer to hear who their teachers are- the school doesn't send emails until 5 pm on Friday the weekend before Labor Day.  All day long, I anxiously anticipated the email. 5 pm came, I checked my email, and only one email- no teacher for Benjamin! I panicked, because at 5 on Friday, there isn't anyone to ask.  Meanwhile, I was receiving nonstop texts from friends wanting to know which teachers the boys have to see if the boys will be with any of their friends.  I emailed the principal, assuming that I would hear back from him on Monday morning, but to my surprise, he emailed me about an hour later and said that the email system had a glitch and only sent one email per family.

Asher's teacher this year is Mrs. Radbill, and Benjamin has Mrs. Lord.  I heard from another mom that they are the two "best" teachers in the 1st grade, whatever that means. I hope they are kind, patient, and loving. And I hope my boys continue to love learning and being with their friends.  Asher seems to like his teacher a lot because she is pretty. She has long, bleached blonde hair, is super skinny, and wears clothing that shows off her excellent body (not inappropriate, but it is clear she is in great shape!). My son is a lookist already.  I haven't met Mrs. Lord yet, but haven't heard a word of complaint from Benjamin.

The boys also started Hebrew school on Sunday. This did not meet with rave reviews- they came home with "Ask me where God lives" on a sticker (Eric was thrilled, since he is an atheist). I asked them about it, and Asher answered, "We read a book, and God lives everywhere," and Benjamin said, "GOD LIVES NOWHERE."

Benjamin hasn't seemed particularly pleased with 1st grade- he hates having homework every night, even though it takes him a total of 2 minutes to do, he hates being told what to do, and he says he isn't good at anything. He has enjoyed buying lunch, though.  I feel heartbroken when I think about his unhappiness, and I hope that it is temporary, and an adjustment to the new schedule and rules. He is so sweet and so smart, and for the past week he's been nothing but angry.

I miss the boys when they are at school- for the first time, they're in school from 9-3:30, no lunches together, no afternoon play dates. It feels like a long stretch of a day without them.  I love my time with Charlotte, but I miss those big boys.
With our neighbors after school

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cape Cod 2016

We are back from our trip, and ready (or as ready as we're going to be) for the boys to start 1st grade.

We had another wonderful trip, another vacation that left me sad it's over and eager for next year.  We started our trip by driving up to Eric's parents' on Thursday night. I am always excited for vacation to start, and want to get out of town as soon as possible! So we took off at the first possible moment and went to Maine.  Our last trip to Maine was easy- this one, not so much. Although we left 1.5 hours earlier than we had on our last trip up, we arrived at the same time. I drive Eric nuts because I constantly check Google maps for detours and ways to save time, no matter how convoluted the route.

Friday we just took it easy at Eric's parents' house- we had planned to go to the beach, but it rained in the morning so we changed our plans. We went in the pool, their cousins came for lunch, and then we packed up a picnic dinner and went to the beach for dinner.
Memere puts a braid in Charlotte's hair 
Benjamin asked me to take his picture 
Charlotte pretending to sleep 
Asher & me
Benjamin asked me to take his picture again
After dinner and playing on the beach, we made an important stop at Uncle Ryan's ice cream shop. We picked up 5 quarts to take to the Cape because we like it better than anything we get there.

We couldn't decide what time we would leave for the Cape on Saturday, but when we woke up, the kids were begging to get to the Cape as soon as possible, so we packed up and left. There was more traffic, but we made it in time for a late lunch by the bay. Then, since my parents and sister (and her boyfriend) were not going to arrive until about 6, we went to the beach and got in the ocean!
Finally made it to our favorite place! 
One of my other favorite places...
 We didn't really get in a rhythm the same way we have other years- the weather was inconsistent, and so were the kids' (especially Charlotte's) moods.  We did go to the beach, and the first couple of days had good waves there. We also went to the pond, of course. Benjamin spent almost all his time at the pond building a series of canals that he checked on and improved everyday we were there.

We continued with many traditions- a lobster dinner by the bay, a grown-up's night out at a nicer restaurant, ice cream whenever we could, and Papa Nick going out for donuts and newspapers with his grandchildren.
Attempt at a family picture. This one won't be going on our holiday card.
 We also did some new things- at their request, I took Asher and Charlotte on a whale watch from Provincetown.  Memorial Day weekend, we saw an IMAX movie about whales, and Charlotte has been talking about them ever since, so out we went.  The weather was gorgeous and the sailing was smooth.
Asher and mommy
Charlotte and mommy
I guess it was kind of sunny...
And, good news! Lots of whales. First finback whales, and then humpback whales.  Charlotte was so enthusiastic, with lots of oohs and ahhs of excitement.  I love seeing the kids get excited and see the world in a new way.
Whale's tail

Whale spotting

Benjamin at ice cream
One evening, my parents took us all to see a kids' play- Puss in Boots, part II.  As I told my sister, the plot was convoluted and hard to follow, but the kids enjoyed it and laughed throughout.  I think the grownups enjoyed it, too! We might have started a new tradition.
Before the play
 On Thursday, it rained. When the weather forecast that earlier in the week, I scheduled back-to-school haircuts for the boys in the morning. We went from there to the Cape Cod potato chip factory, where the tour is free, but ends in a room full of potato chips and popcorn, so ended up costing us a little more.
After the tour. No pictures inside.
 It rained all day Thursday. I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but I hate when it rains on beach vacation!

Friday started sunny, and we went to the beach. The waves were too rough for us to swim, but we played in the sand for a while, until we noticed a little unrest on the beach. A plane kept circling overhead, and a boat appeared in the ocean and hovered close to shore.
The plane circling around
Then it became clear- SHARK!  A shark had been spotted close to shore.  We all dashed down the beach to see if we could spot it (we couldn't), but that sealed the deal- no swim in the ocean for us.

We went kayaking- the kids loved it and I discovered that my arms are not so strong.  Although it isn't part of our usual routine, I would do it again!

We went to ice cream one afternoon, and over the course of our snack, everyone swapped food with everyone else.  We all got a little taste of everything.
Swapping snacks 
The kids all pretended to be various forms of cats- kitties, tigers, and lions. Charlotte is roaring.
Asher and Charlotte snuggling together. They have a close bond.
At the end of the visit, Asher was ready to go home. I think he is anxious about his first day of school (or am I projecting?).  I could have stayed forever.  My sister and I had a great time laughing hysterically over everything and nothing, we ate lots of good food, read books, drank coffee, and got exercise.

Now we are home, and real life starts again. When we got home, I noticed leaves on our patio, and the air has a chill.  Fall is coming, whether I like it or not!