Thursday, April 30, 2009

I don't care about the swine flu

I'm suffering from epidemic, panic-inducing, freak out fit overload. I've jumped on board with the new ice age when I was younger, the earth getting colder and colder, now global warming, Y2K, the anthrax scare, bird flu, and now swine flu. There's always something new and more interesting to panic about, and I'm just worn out with it. I think, at 35, I've hit my life time limit on the amount of things that I can freak out about. I just no longer care. I think it's horrible for all the people who have died from it, and I certainly don't mean to minimize the suffering of those affected. That being said, I HIGHLY doubt that my life will be affected by this, and would prefer it if everyone would just stop talking about it.

In other news - Jessie started out unbelievably miserable this morning, insisting that she wasn't going to school... and I quoted my little song at her "Jessie, remember, we believe that happiness is something WE create - so you can decide right now to have a good morning or a really crappy one, but either way, when Daddy leaves this morning, you're going with him." And she pulled it together, got herself under control, got dressed, had a nice breakfast and all was lovely.

I'm experimenting with snapfish and there's the potential that my pictures are, even as I type, winging around the internet. But I haven't gotten a confirmation e-mail yet, so I probably screwed it up somehow. Sad...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I believe that happiness is something we create

Sure, it's a line from a county music song, but it works for me. Last weekend, I took Jess to see the Hannah Montana movie (LOVED IT - I know, I'm a total dork), and we were singing to the radio on the way down there. There's a band, Sugarland, and they have one song called "Baby Girl" and Jessie loved it, so when this other song by them came on, I turned it up loud for her. I think it's called something like "Gotta be something more" but I could be making that up. One line that stuck in her little head was "Some believe in destiny, and some believe in fate, but I believe that happiness is something we create" and she sang it off and on for the rest of the day.

My girl has some intense emotions - and it's always easier for her to see the down side than the positive. It's so frustrating at times, I watch her make her life SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT, not just for her, but for everyone around her by her stubborn insistence that she's having the 'baddest day ever' or 'the most horrible night in the world.'

But ever since last weekend, everytime she starts to sink down into the misery, I just remind her that she's got the choice, and we believe that happiness is something we create - and IT WORKS. Second day in a row, she's bounced out the door with smile on her face for school. I love it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing lasts forever

As I clicked "submit" on the last post, Sam must have done something and Jordyn started wailing. Sam started hollering back at her, and I put them both down for their naps. Now all is quiet, and I'm trying to restore order to the room :-)

Sure, my living room is a disaster, but it's worth it

Sam and Jordyn are so incredibly adorable together. They've been playing in there, by themselves, with literally no interaction with me, for well over an hour. I'm not even sure what they are doing, exactly, it's some sort of fantasy game, Sam's the Dad, Jordyn is the Mom, and they dress up in raincoats (wrapping themselves in my quilts) and move from corner to corner in the room. They've scattered, I think, every little toy I own, every little piece of plastic food, every truck and baby doll that exist here, all over the place - but I'm so proud of them. They're only two and a half - and so creative and GOOD at playing together.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How cool am I?? I figured out how to add pictures!

How I spent my spring vacation...

This is Jess at Elm Park.

Here's (from the left) Jessica, my step daughters Lilli and Sarah, and my friend's daughter Glennys at the Museum of Science.

Here are the girls on the subway into Boston. How cute is that??

This was early in the morning, with Hostess little donuts for breakfast. Note the powdered sugar all over Sammy's face.

My little Samilicious - best part of the whole trip was the train ride.

This is Glennys, my niece Isabella and Jess enjoying the sunshine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You are the meanest mother in the world!

Gotta say, it was a proud moment for me. When my beloved and cherished daughter hurled those words at me.

So it's a gorgeous day, and I pack up my cherubs (Lilli (10) Sarah (8) Jessica (6) Harrison and Sam (both two) up to go down to Cricket Park. Which isn't a park at all, and in reality is called Elm Street Community School, but it's very close, with a huge fenced in field and parts of it are paved. We brought bubbles, two baby dolls with their carriages, chalk and a big wagon to lug it all in. Today's gorgeous - but wicked windy, so after about 10 minutes, I was ready to go. I soldiered on, because everyone was having fun, the boys were running and running and blowing bubbles and just hollering into the wind, and the girls were drawing these elaborate hop scotch games.

One of my time honored techniques for parenting is what I like to call bribery. Although it's not really bribery, more of a distraction. I wanted them to get going, because I was cold and it was lunch time, so I suggested that we all stop at the little store and I'd get a big bag of potato chips to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. At which point, four of the five kids screamed with joy, and one started sobbing uncontrollably. Turns out that Jess doesn't LIKE potato chips (news to me, as she's been eating them since she was about six months old) and really wanted Doritos. I was not amused - total spoiled brat behavior, no way was she going to get her way, so I sent her to go stand against the wall for a time out. This proved to be stunningly inefficient, as she calmed down enough to walk back over to me, but started wailing again as she pointed out how much she doesn't want potato chips and nothing will do except for Doritos.

Now I'm just mad, because really? Is she that entitled that she feels okay throwing back a generous offer of junk food and flipping out because she's not getting the exact brand of chips she wants. No WAY am I getting this child what she wants, but I had to follow thru for the other kids. So off we went to the store, with her screaming and sobbing the whole way. We went into the store, bought chips, walked all the way home, screaming and sobbing. I'm ignoring her, except for when I paused briefly to tell her that I found her behavior to be throughly unacceptable and she would be going directly to her room until she could apologize. We finally get home, I get everyone inside, and Jess sits down on the bottom step, says she's never, never ever coming home again because I'm the meanest mother in the whole world. I ignore her and go inside anyway. She came in, and I immediately pointed to the bedroom. She screams as loud as she could, stomps into the bedroom. Comes out ten minutes later, sobbing and hyperventilating. I say to her in the gentlest, kindest of voices, "are you ready to apologize for your behavior?" She looked at me and said "You need to apologize to ME!" You guessed it, back to her room she went.

She did finally come out and apologize and gracefully accepted some potato chips with her lunch. Score one point for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

She's afraid of her bike

Jessie decided she wanted a bike. Her bestest friend Glennys has one, and her heart was broken into a million pieces because she didn't have one. So I, the good mother, go out the next day, searching for one. I had to go to two different stores, then buy the helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, the whole thing. Now she's got a gorgeous purple bike, matching accessories - and she's desperate to ride it. And of course, it rained for the past two days. I finally get her outside today (with my 10 year old stepdaughter pushing one carriage with a toddler, me shoving two more in my double stroller, and my poor other stepdaughter is assigned to assist Jess. As she rides. With training wheels.

She's terrified of it. Thinks she's up too high, it goes too fast, she begged me not to make her (make her - like she hadn't sobbed to get the bike in the first place) ride it. I'm ill amused. And planning on taking her alone down to the nearest park for a couple of hours, bribing her with ice cream and chocolate if she'll just be brave enough to give it a shot.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes I'm so popular, I just have to be mean

This is what my daughter said to me, as an excuse for being wretched to a friend of her's who had come over to play. Not that the excuse was actually accepted, she stayed in her room until she cried herself to sleep, because no matter how popular you are, you still don't get to be mean.

Jess is such a distinct personality. She's very clear on her likes and dislikes and too many people is one of her major pet peeves. She'd rather have one good friend then fifteen kind of good friends. And her major objection to apologizing for being mean was that then the poor little girl would like her again, and she doesn't want to be liked.

I don't know what to do with that. I mean, I know what to do with that, and we'll be writing an apology card later on this morning, and I'll harp on it until she gets the message that no matter how she's feeling, it's never okay to be unkind. But as for figuring out the dilemma of being too popular... that's going to take some more thought. Jess needs to figure out a way to navigate the social system, she'll need to learn techniques for saying "I don't want to play right now, no offense intended" or "I would rather be alone for a bit, if you don't mind" as opposed to "hell no, I don't want to have anything to do with you." It's an odd problem to have - I was at the library last night, and there are all kinds of books to help your child be liked, how to handle bullies, how to make them popular - but none for the poor parent who has a child who claims that the popularity she has is an incredible burden and feels as though her only recourse is to be as hostile and unfriendly as possible in hopes that everyone will back off and leave her alone.

Riding in cars with boys

Or rather, riding in cars with my husband... I realized this weekend that I rarely listen to the radio if I'm in the car with my husband. Alone, or with the kids, I listen to it as loud as possible. Singing loudly and off key to boot. But with Marc in the car, we don't. And it's not just that we don't really like the same music, because we both like classic rock, it's because that's enforced alone time (because we're the only ones in the front seat) and that used to be the time that we got to talk, to hang out. And now, of course, it's mostly just me yelling at the kids to please settle down, or stop yelling - there's not as much joy in it as it used to be. Marc is very focused on the road, forgets to talk unless I prompt him, and I'm worn out from wrestling four kids into the car and shouting back for them to please, for the love of God, stop hitting each other, or stop yelling, etc. If I'm not referee-ing them, I'm mostly just slumped up against the window, vegging out or thinking about what I have to do next.

Not sure if I should try to reclaim the driving "date time" or just start turning the radio on more... that way at least I'd get to sing, and maybe if the music was loud enough, I wouldn't be able to hear the yelling from the backseat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Doing too much

I have a fantabulous mother. Seriously. She had me when she was twenty two, and by the time she was twenty nine, she had my brothers, my little sister, and an ex husband who was a disaster. I can only say that he was probably a worse ex than he was a husband, no child support, dashing in and out of our lives, train wreck of a parent. But my mother raised all four of us on her own, she's amazing and wonderful and kind and giving and one of the few people who thinks that everything I do and everything I think is right and good and exactly as it should be. She gives new meaning to the term unconditional love, she's my biggest fan, my most ardent supporter and I'll never, ever, no matter how much I try, ever be able to tell her how much I love and respect her.

That being said - she makes me crazy. She can't say no. Ever. If you ever need something, just call my mom - she'll do it. Watch your kids, drive all over creation to run your errands, sit by your bedside if you're sick, cook you dinner, loan you money, make herself sick with exhaustion and stress just to make your life easier.

I'm very much like her. We look alike, I grew up constantly being told how much I was like her. We have big brown eyes, long legs, fuzzy brown hair and healthy fear of heights. I was her lieutenant growing up, I kept track of my younger siblings, I picked up whatever she dropped, metaphorically speaking. I was her back up, the one that everyone else counted on. For a long time, I had children very late (as far as my family was concerned - I was 28, with eight nieces and nephews before I had Jess). And spent so much of my life being just like my mother... and I stopped.

I don't jump when anyone says jump anymore. I don't leap to help, I don't put off my needs to accomodate someone else's. I say yes when I want to, when I can, but don't confuse when I want to with when I can't come up with a good enough reason to say no. I have my own children, and my own life, and as much as I love my family - I know that I am as important, my wants and needs, my husband's wants/needs and most importantly, my kids' wants and needs are far more important than anything else I could come up with. Is that selfish? Yeah, I know it is. But I'm okay with it. I freely admit that I'm a crappy sister/daughter/friend (see post from a few weeks ago). But I don't want to be in my mid-fifties, running errands for everyone else, and putting myself last all the time. That might make me less wonderful than my mom, but I think it makes me happier as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last night at my house

6:15 or 6:30 - Marc gets home from work, kids are usually already fed and busy destroying the living room

7:15 or 7:30- start process of nagging Jess to put on jammies, wrestling Sam to the ground for a diaper change and night shirt, brush teeth, pee it out, read stories, one per kid. Sam will now sit patiently and listen to stories, asking to nurse, but not insisting until after the story is over.

8:00 or 8:15 - shut off all the lights, snuggle Sam on one side, nursing and Jessie cuddled up on the other one, watch West Wing or CNN until they fall asleep.

9:00 - shove Jess into her own bed, slip out from under Sam and get a drink, sometimes dinner if I forgot to eat earlier.

10:00ish - lug Sam into bed, nurse him back to sleep, read for half hour or so, fall asleep.

1:00 - wake up with Jess, she's horrified to realize that she's in her bed with no pillow. Find pillow, lay down with her and cuddle and soothe her back to sleep. Doze off in her bed.

1:45 - wake up, cramped and uncomfortable, stagger back to my bed, only to have Sam roll over and latch on. Again.

2:00 - Shove sleeping Sam off me, roll over and try and doze for a while.

3:00 - Sammy wakes up and starts pleading to nurse. Again

3:30 - Wake up, realize Sam is asleep, shove him away, roll over, try to get comfortable, doze for a bit.

6:00 - Sam wakes up, just enough to be looking for me, and wake me up again. Get him settled, start to doze again....

6:30 - alarm goes off

Not that every night is like that - most nights, both Jess and Sam sleep thru the night - but last night was horrific and I'm so tired. And so sick of nursing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Apathy, thy name is Melissa

Just got back from Elm Park... and I'm tired and even though my house is in shambles, I feel like doing nothing. I fed my children, set them up with beans and hot dogs and Max and Ruby - and am officially declaring myself on break for the next twenty minutes or so.

Had a rough day today with Jess, she just flat out doesn't like going to school. She's fine when she's there, voluntarily does her homework, seems to be thriving academically and socially, but every single morning, she begs to stay home. Sometimes with tears and mournful resignation, sometimes with anger and frustration, but either way, she's always on the verge of losing it. There are mornings when we maintain a smile all day long, but it's only a result of relentless cheeriness on my part, I keep maniacally grinning all morning long, singing to her and never ever letting myself scream "would you just freaking put on your clothes already and stop complaining!"

Then Sam hammered my living room window, breaking a big hole in it and extending up this cobweb crack thru the rest of it. To be fair, I had never actually told him not to hammer the window. And he was so pleased with himself, so utterly satisfied with a job well done... And I thought to myself that this probably isn't the first window he'll break, and I might as well get used to it.

But the sun is shining, and both kids are clean (bath last night - yeah, Sam screamed like a mad man thru the whole thing) and the house isn't all that dirty. Just cluttered. A lot. Marc's going to the gym tonight, so it's just me and the two cherubs here. Wish me luck, because I have no motivation at the moment....

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Some people hit me with a bat"

I could also title this post "Crimes against the second child." On Friday, we took all four kids to the park with Sam's new t-ball set. Now, let me state for the record that this is a t-ball set for a toddler, at most a preschooler. Not for an eight year old. But of course, everyone wanted a turn with the bat - and unfortunately, Sam is short, and apparently it's easy to not realize that he's standing right next to where you are swinging the bat if you are Sarah. Sarah is my younger step daughter, older than Jess and Sam (Lilli is 10, Sarah is 8, Jess is 6 and Sam is two and a half). And she swung, hit the ball, and then hit my baby in the face. Hard. With a bat. The poor kid has a bloody scrape on his cheekbone and a bruise extending up under his eye. And I'm still bitter about it - I don't think Sarah fully realized what she did. Obviously, she would NEVER have hurt him intentionally, but still - SHE HIT HIM IN THE FACE WITH A BAT. And wasn't all that upset about it... I'm pretty sure that if she had shown some serious remorse, I'd have forgiven her a lot faster... but she kind of breezed over it, so I'm still mad.

Sam adores Sarah - and when I asked him later that day what happened to his face, he looked at me and explained that "some people hit me with a bat." Some people - that's his catch phrase for people who do things wrong - some people hide his toys when he can't find them, some people woke him up when he was sleeping. I don't know where he got it, but it's his little phrase that he uses all the time. But in this instance, it makes him sound like a victim of gang violence.

I was thinking about second children - because my boy is watching his third half hour show, while I'm vacuuming and folding laundry (and blogging, apparently). And I would NEVER have let Jess sit and just watch television... but then I did the math and figured out that I've nursed Sam TWO YEARS longer than Jessie. Jess stopped at eight months on her own, and Sam will be three in April. So I don't feel that guilty about a little extra television :-).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Passover, Happy Easter

Survived my third annual Irish Seder last night. This time I made brisket (which was lovely), soup (also lovely), undercooked some carrots and baked potatoes (not so lovely) and forgot the broccoli altogether. But everyone had fun, and I had enough to send leftovers home with everyone and still have enough so that you can't fit anything else in the fridge. I do the seder for Marc, really. I know that Passover is a kids' holiday, and you are supposed to get kids really involved and a part of it - but I feel like my kids get enough attention. My seder is just for Marc. For the adults. The kids - I feed them and let them run wild - and it works better for everyone that way :-).

After cleaning up last night, I hid the eggs, set up the baskets and wrote the letter from the Easter Bunny. Yes, that's right, fictional fairy tale characters write notes to my kids. Santa does it, the tooth fairy leaves missives to Jess and the Easter Bunny wrote a lovely little note to both the kids this morning, telling him how proud he is, how much they've grown, etc. Then we went down to my mother's house. Every year, my mother does a big Easter Egg hunt for all the kids. I have nine neices and nephews, the oldest just turned thirteen, and Sam is the littlest at two and a half. This year, everyone older than seven hid the eggs, and younger than seven found them. Of course, Sam refused to have any part of the egg hunt, and I had to press Alex into service.

Sam's not much of a joiner, to put it mildly. In fact, at any family function - it takes about two and a half hours before he's ready to start socializing. Not that anyone understands that, and because he's the only little kid, he gets a ton of (unwanted on his part) attention from people who love him and want so badly to interact with him. I've tried to explain if they'd just leave him alone, he'd warm up faster, but after a while, realized that I was just hurting their feelings - so I just let them try and put up with Sammy screaming "NOOOOO" and burying his little face into my chest. And, true to form, just as we were getting ready to go, he started crawling around the floor with my mother, and playing with my sister in law. This is his third Easter - and I have yet to get him actually in the big traditional Easter picture that my mother does every year with all the grandchildren.

House is, as per usual, in shambles, Sam and Marc are napping and Jess is eating an ice cream sundae and watching Mary Poppins. I could use Mary around here right now, a nice little song to make everything hop back into it's proper spot sounds pretty good right now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The cost of motherhood - or why I don't usually watch Oprah

I don't watch daytime television. Mostly because there isn't anything on that I like to watch, but I think even if there was, I still wouldn't - because it's such a cliche, the SAHM vegging out in front of the television all day. Be that as it may, I did watch Oprah yesterday (or I recorded it and watched late last night). The topic was the cost of motherhood, or motherhood's dirty little secrets. And there were tiny parts of it that were honest and real and amazing, but most of it was just superficial and played for laughs. (which explains why I don't usually watch Oprah)

There was one segment, there was an actress on and she was talking about how you make sacrifices as a mom. And there are the sacrifices that everyone talks about, like no sleep, and spending your money that used to be for entertainment on diapers... but then there are the sacrifices that you never dreamed you'd make. Her best friend went thru a horrible break up right around the same time she had her first baby, and she wasn't able to be there for her friend. Not physically, not emotionally, just could not do it. She sacrificed her friendship, in a real way, for her child.

Now I know the theory - that your friends are supposed to understand, and a true friendship will weather thru this. But the fact of the matter is that it's really hard to understand if you are that friend. Before having kids - you are able to make other people a priority. If your best friend is going thru something, you can drop everything to be there. You can make that the most important thing - helping your friend thru the crisis. And I did that. A lot. I had lots of friends, lots of really close, intimate relationships. Then I had Jessica - and I am nowhere near as good a friend as I once was. I cancel plans if the kids are sick, I don't like making plans too often that take me away from them. If I'm reading a story to them, or nursing, I don't answer the phone. And if I do answer the phone, more than likely, I'm going to have to make you hold on while I stop Sam from poking Jess in the eye, or vice versa. They have to be the most important thing in my world, because... well, because. Because I'm their mother.

I'm not complaining, I really like motherhood. I like the sacrifices, I like being that needed, that important. I like the emotional gratification, I even take it for granted now. I'm used to being the only one who can coax a smile from a miserable six year old, the only source of comfort for an overtired two year old. I like being their favorite person. But I used to be a much better friend. A better sister, a better daughter. I can't drop everything to go help out - I'd like to, sure, but I won't. And that's the actual sacrifice of motherhood - you do give up a lot of what made you who you were. For me, I was always about relationships. I had a job that was fun, but wasn't even close to fulfilling, but I had great friends, a warm close family - tons of people who loved me and needed me and depended on me. And I've still got a lot of them... and they still love me. But I've weaned them off of needing me. I'm not dependable anymore, not really. But I've got two kids who think I'm the bees knees. And right now - that's enough. That feels exactly right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Passover Prep

Marc's off this week... and we're celebrating Passover on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And Easter on Sunday. The joys of a non-traditional Jewish family. That's now what I like to call it, because my conversion process is moving right along, so technically, we are pretty much a Jewish family - but we definitely aren't traditional. I decorate eggs with my sister every year, we have since Jess was born. For a long time, Jess was an only child, and decorating eggs is really something that's more fun with a lot of kids, so we always did it with my sister and her daughter. And it's tradition, and Jess loves it, and even though I'd be willing to forego it, I can't. Because it's part of Jessie's childhood, and even though I'm very happy with Judaism and can't wait for the conversion process to be done, I have memories and traditions that go along with being a non-Jew - so Beltane/Easter is still a big holiday for my family.

Marc's family has big seders on the first two nights, but they aren't really seders so much as they are just big family dinners. Marc is very traditional about his seder, and wanted to skip the family parties so we could do the actual seder at home. A seder is basically a long, drawn out, elaborate dinner that you eat after you retell the story of Exodus. It's actually my favorite holiday (or as my mother corrected me earlier - my favorite Jewish holiday). Very kid centered and a lot of fun... I suggested a compromise, every year, we do the two seders on the first two nights, and then on the Saturday - we have what we call an Irish Seder. I make my cousin and my friend Annie come and help me cook and it's very laid back and relaxed, but we do the full seder for our friends.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Good morning sunshines

Having a bright and beautiful morning here. It's delightfully overcast and rainy, which is my favorite type of day, especially when I want to be super lazy - when it's sunny I feel guilty about not being outside (thanks again Mom for instilling that early). Jess has been home sick the past couple of days with a yucky cold. I sent her off to school this morning, and hopefully, we're past the worst of it.

Sam just cuddled to sleep, he's so sweet. He always naps in the middle of the living room, on the recliner. And on Fridays, it's just he and I, so he gets a lovely long nap, and I read or watch television and just... exist. Fridays are my only day. This six hours that Jess is at school is my down time. Sam and I vege, we hang out, we play with blocks, we bake occasionally, we wander aimlessly when the weather is nice. And when he naps, it's my alone time. Soon Marc will drop off Jess, and Lilli and Sarah, and then I'll be wrapped up in getting ready for Shabbat dinner, and then Saturday and Sunday fly by, all hurry up and do this and do that, so it's nice to have this quiet little day of peace.