Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Memorial Day weekend had all the makings of a wonderful holiday weekend. But sometimes reality doesn't live up to expectation.

It was my 15 year college reunion. In some ways, this was tough to swallow, because surely it can't have been that long since I was in college.  I drove up to Rhode Island on Friday via New York City, where I picked up my friend Amanda.  Amanda and I met the first month of our freshman year and have been friends ever since.  We have traveled together, know each other's families, attended each other's weddings, and have rushed to meet each other's children after their births.  So no matter what happened at the reunion, it was wonderful to have that time with an old friend.

Although it was warm and sunny in Philadelphia, by the time we reached Rhode Island it was cold and raining.  We tried to make the most of it, but overall, between the bad weather and the fact that most of our close college friends weren't at reunion, the night was a little bit of a let-down.
Where we spent much of our extracurricular time in college
Ready for our big night out
Friday night ended with Amanda passed out in one bed, and me waiting for a pizza to get delivered while watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  And then me eating the pizza the second it arrived and burning the roof of my mouth!

Saturday morning, Amanda rushed back to NYC because her baby had been sick- I was quite impressed by how well she tolerated being away from him overnight when he was sick for the first time in his short life. After she left, I went for a jog around Providence, running past many of the places I used to live and spend time. Being at Brown was one of the happiest times in my life; I truly had an ideal college experience, where I balanced the freedom of being young and unencumbered with growing independence.  I ran past the hotel where we used to put up the bands that played our summer concerts; past the pizza place where we ordered pizza at 1 am; through the park I ran through with my friend and roommate where she used to challenge me to "feel the burn!" as I tried to follow her uphill; past the house where I lived with 5 friends my senior year; past the building where I sat in a sociology class on the morning of September 11, 2001; past the Main Green of the campus where I spent warm afternoons "studying" on a blanket; past the mall where I shopped with my friends on weekends and spent hours drinking mochas from Nordstrom as we talked; past the hotel where I stayed with my college boyfriend the weekend of his graduation; past the bar where I did tequila shots and flirted with men I didn't know; past the Civic Center where I saw the Foo Fighters open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2000.  The memories of that time are vivid, and I am grateful for every minute of my time there.

After my run, I showered and went to the airport to pick up my sister, who was flying in just to drive down to Philadelphia with me.  The weather had cleared up, and so we went to Newport, and decided to have lunch outside at Castle Hill, where Eric and I got married almost 11 years ago.  We shared delicious food and a cocktail while we sat outside in the sun and watched boats sail through the bay.
Elana at our grown up lunch
a panoramic view from the site where Eric and I said our vows
We then walked off some of our lunch with a walk along the Cliff Walk, looking at the ocean on one side and the historic Newport mansions on the other.  Then I got anxious to get in the car and come home, because it had been too long since I had seen my babies.

On Sunday, the day began quietly, with a leisurely breakfast on the patio, our inaugural trip to the pool at the JCC, and naps for the kids.  Eric's parents had to come to visit while I was away at reunion, and Pat and I went out to buy some groceries while the kids rode their bikes in the parking lot at the school.

This is where the day took a turn for the worse- after Pat and I got back from errands, we found out that Asher had hurt himself while riding his bike.  I won't go into details of the injury, but I was worried. Pat assured me he was fine, but he was clearly in pain, and I didn't like the look of the injury, so at 8 o'clock I called the on-call doctor from the pediatrician's office.  After 2 hours of back and forth with the pediatrician, texting him photos of the injury, his consulting with a specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and a phone call with the specialist, the specialist requested that I bring Asher in to be seen.  So at 10:30 at night, Eric woke up Asher and we got in the car.  My mom offered to come with me, and although I was ready to go without her, Asher asked that she come. The 3 of us drove into the city in the pouring rain, and Asher was astonished that people were still out and about so late at night.

We were given excellent treatment at CHOP- we arrived at 11 pm and were walking out by 12:10 am.  Fortunately for us, Asher's injury was deemed insignificant and no intervention was needed, and all the medical professionals came right in and were cheerful and helpful. Asher was brave as could be, but I am still feeling some traumatic effects from the evening. It is a huge hospital, and I couldn't stop thinking of all of the truly sick children in there.  And it was still difficult to see my little guy on the hospital bed, both a brave young man and a scared child with his stuffed animal.  He was nervous about needing stitches, but he kept his sense of humor and talked with my mom and me all night (although with decreasing coherency). I love him so much, and have been especially affectionate with him since his injury and our trip to the hospital.  I don't know how parents survive worse; this was nothing but taxed me emotionally.  Asher seems completely fine, and says his injury doesn't even hurt today.

Today was also a quiet day. We had lunch at our friends' house, and the kids all played together so nicely that the adults could just sit around and talk. And then we hosted more friends at our place in the evening.  After getting the kids in bed, I tried to catch up on chores before I go in to work tomorrow.

It certainly doesn't feel like the beginning of summer, what with our 60 degree and rainy weather, and it was hard to feel like our busy and exhausting weekend was restful.  Better luck next year, I guess!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Asher: 7 years old

Running the 1-miler for his school
He's only been 7 for a month and a half, I'm not THAT late!

Asher is a typical first-born, even if he only beat Benjamin into the world by 12 minutes.  He is mature, helpful, and bossy.  He is an excellent big brother, who wants to take care of his siblings.  He is a conscientious student and hopefully a good friend!
Being a good big brother to his little sister
In the past year, I have really enjoyed my time with Asher as a friend.  We have a lot of interests in common- running, amusement park rides, walks, shopping, and talking.  He always jumps up to go with me on whatever adventure I might be heading out on. He has a never-ending curiosity about the world and how it works; on our walks, we have talked about marriage and divorce, mortgages, insurance, and how to save money.  I adore his sense of humor. Like me, he can find something so silly so funny, and fall to pieces laughing. His laugh is infectious, and I can't help but join in.  I think Eric gets annoyed with us when we get carried away (often at bedtime, which is when I tend to get hysterically laughing myself) because he thinks I'm winding Asher up.  Maybe I am.

He has continued to run, and takes his running series races very seriously.  Together we ran the 1-miler for his school, and just this week he rain the nature trail at Haverford College with me- 2.2 miles. I cannot tell you how much joy it gave me to run with him- he keeps a good pace, and we were talking the whole way.  I am in disbelief at how quickly he has grown from a baby into a friend, a person who I truly enjoy spending time with (and not just because he is my son).  He is so strong and determined, and I am so proud.

After the run, we stopped at Trader Joe's, and he picked out a bouquet of flowers for me, because he had given me a coupon for flowers for Mother's Day.  I loved that he remembered and wanted to follow through. Then, on our way home from the run, we were talking about whether he likes or loves school- he says he likes it, but doesn't love it. He said he would love it if he had more time spent playing and less time spent "learning." I acknowledged that was a fair point. I asked him if he liked or loved running, and he said he loved it.  It does thrill me that we share that love together.
Before the 1 mile race
Running his 1/4 mile race at the Running Series
Asher and I also share a love of amusement park rides.  We went to the local church "fun fair," and he accompanied me on the Ferris Wheel and then a ride that was like hang-gliding.  Eric hates rides, and Benjamin and Charlotte are still scared of them, so it is just the two of us getting our adrenaline fix.  Now that he is over 48", the amusement world is his oyster!
On the Ferris Wheel
Asher has been a fairly diligent student this year.  He seems more preoccupied with following the rules and being social than with academics, but his work is consistent and he is careful with it.  I have had to encourage him to read, but his abilities have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months.  I bribed him with a book from the Scholastic order from his school and he read every night for a week.  He seems quite competent at math and has no trouble doing his work.

Asher's social skills are quite impressive for a young boy.  He is charming and polite.  Every time he has a play date, the parents report that he is excellent company. One parent said, "Asher is my next husband!" He isn't always charming and polite to his parents, but he knows how to work his charms outside the home.  It is hard to believe that our toddler who received speech therapy is now so articulate.
Asher practicing his meditation at our hotel in DC
His likes and dislikes- he continues to be extremely picky with food.  Over the course of the past year, he has had a few sessions with a psychologist to help him with his fruit phobia- after sitting alone at lunch at camp all summer, I was worried he'd be isolated at school.  He learned some cognitive-behavioral techniques that seemed helpful, and the school year started fine, but in November, a classmate showed Asher a mushy apple at lunchtime and Asher threw up in the cafeteria.  We went back to his therapist for a refresher and he seemed better, but he will still avoid being at the table when we eat fruit at home, and recently lost his mind over a grocery store croissant, so I would say food is still an issue.  He still loves his carbs- bread, cereal, crackers, pretzels, waffles, and desserts- but he eats a variety of non-fruit items as well.  He likes proteins like chicken, turkey, and some beef, and he eats almost every vegetable I cook (although he doesn't like salad). He likes hummus, and has gone back to eating the occasional Polly-O string cheese.  For dinner I make one entree and that is their only option, so he has eaten and enjoyed tofu, vegetarian curry, and various other adventurous foods.  The doctor didn't seem concerned given his consistent growth and overall good health.

Asher likes playing on the iPad, watching TV, and playing outside. He loves to have play dates with friends, and I always encourage him to have friends over after school on the afternoons I am home. He likes to explore new places, and I allow him and Benjamin to roam free while we are at the park.  It makes me a little nervous, but I remember doing it as a child, and the memories of the imaginary worlds I created with my friends are still strong all these years later.
I was suddenly in the mood for squid for dinner...
I do feel, if it wasn't already apparent, that Asher and I have more in common than I do with Benjamin and Charlotte- at least at this point in time.  This doesn't mean that he is my "favorite," because I am passionate about all three of them.  It is just a recognition that their personalities are all different, and at this point, Asher and I are more similar.  This has changed over time- I remember when Charlotte was a newborn I felt that we were in some way almost divinely connected- and I am sure it will continue to change.  But if my description of Asher appears more detailed or of a different quality than my description of Benjamin, that is why.