Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why being a SAHM is the hardest thing I've ever done

Can I be brutally honest here? This is freaking hard. Unbelievably so at times, for example, today.

I love my children. I wanted to be a mother from the time I first realized that it was an option. I remember my mother being pregnant with my sister when I was five years old and being thrilled because she told me that one day, I could have a baby in my belly too. I miscarried my first pregnancy, twins, and remember the devastation, the absolute utter horror at death of my babies, and the prospect that I might never be able to carry a pregnancy to term. I find enormous satisfaction in being a mother, it's a huge part of the way I define myself. I feel a little bit lost when my kids aren't near me, and freely acknowlege that I legitimately LIKE spending time with them - I've got great kids. They're smart and funny and I can't imagine my life without them. I feel a little sorry for all the other parents who don't have my kids, because mine really are amazing.

But full time parenting is so hard some days. When you've been up all night because one had a nightmare and the other one just isn't in the mood to sleep, when you've been trapped inside for days on end because it's so frigid cold outside, when you're the only adult all the time and the housework bubbles up around you - and you can't get the kids to stop fighting long enough for you to take a much needed shower. When the dishes are spilling over the sink (and you did two loads of dishes yesterday) and you've got construction guys and dragon castle components scattered with American Girl hair accessories and doll clothes tossed gleefully all over the living room... and your daughter is raging because webkinz won't let her do what she wants and your three year old is screaming, just screaming, like it's his new hobby... all I could think was that this is so damn hard. I sat in Jessie's room, trying to pick up all the tiny little clips for Rebecca Rubin before they got lost, and cried right along with Sam, as he stood in front of me, jumping up and down, begging me to pick him up (which is becoming increasingly harder as I get bigger) and nurse him. I ended up sitting on the floor, sobbing, and stopped only because when I cry too hard, I inevitably throw up because of the pregnancy. I'm so worn out and tired and some days I wonder if I'm really strong enough to do this.

I wouldn't trade these years for anything. I know that the years when my babies are little are fleeting, and have already gone by so fast... I'll never be able to pick Jess up and carry her around the house anymore - she's too big. The number of times when I'll be able instantly soothe whatever is bothering Sam just by being beside him is finite. I never thought I'd be able to be a stay at home mom, I thought, of course, my kids would be in daycare, how could I afford to not work? I never dreamed I'd be as lucky as I am. I'm pregnant with my third child, and watching one of the people I love most in the world struggle with infertility - I'm so incredibly aware of how blessed I am. But this is hard. There are days when a part of me envies my husband, who gets dressed, showers whenever he wants and goes to work all day with grown ups who don't ask for drinks or to get a diaper change, who don't yell at him for no real reason. Where nobody has to be bathed, where dishes don't need to be done, where the floor is always vacuumed and the trash is always emptied.

I love my children. My amazing girl child, with her passions and her furies, her creativities, her kindness and her beauty. My beautiful boy, big grey/brown eyes and so much love and sweetness all bundled up in this little package of maleness. My tiny baby girl, who's becoming bigger and more a part of my life every day. And I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

But I would really appreciate a day off.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

School vacation

I really like having Jess at home. Which makes me think, more and more, that I would have loved homeschooling. I know all the reasons that I send her to school - because I do believe that our goal as parents is to teach them to be adults, to give them opportunities to learn and grow, and she gets exposure to different people and ways of doing things, a level of independence that she wouldn't get at home with me. She loves first grade, is excelling there, but... but, but, but (as Sam would say) - I like having her home. She asked to do some work in her workbooks the other day, and I thought to myself that I could so easily be homeschooling her. The two kids still squabble, but it doesn't seem as though they do it as much as they do during the week. I don't have to haul her out of bed, struggle and fight to get her dressed and ready, pack her lunch (that she won't eat) and send her out into the freezing cold. She's spent the past four days in her pajamas, staying up until nine and then going right to sleep, sleeping until after 8:30 most days (which is just her preferred schedule - she isn't ready for bed at eight and fights it and then has to be dragged out of bed kicking and screaming at seven to get ready for school).

In other news - I think the baby's kicks are strong enough that you could feel it on the outside. It's hard for me to tell, because I can obviously feel it on the inside and may be just fooling myself. But she's moving all the time now, and I love it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

favorite holiday pics

Sam hanging next to the tree

Lilli, Sam, Jessie, Glennys (everyone's best friend and my fifth child) and Sarah

I love this smile

On to January

I love January. I just do - I hate the weather, but it's the month of birthdays in my world, and it's been my favorite month since I was a little girl. Although, now that I think of it, neither of my children, neither of my stepdaughters, nor my husband have January birthdays. But when I was little - EVERYONE had a January birthday. My dad's is the 5th, my brother Scott is the 12th, my baby cousin Lea is the 19th, my brother Eric is the 21, my cousin AP is the 22, (my niece Alyssa is the 22nd as well), my mother's is the 24th and mine is the 25th. I loved being last, and having all month of celebrating everyone's else to anticipate mine. And I really wanted Jessie to be born on the 26th - not only because at that point - I was so tired of being pregnant but because that would have been so cool, my mother, myself and then my daughter all one day after another. I always loved my birthday - and despite the fact that I'll be 36 this year - it's still just as exciting to me. I feel like it's the one day of the year that you really take stock in everything, celebrate all that you have, all that you are, and get to have cake. How could it get any better?

That being said, Jess didn't come along until February 7, but I still include her in with all the festitivies. I'm just a happy girl this month.

Monday, December 28, 2009

One last Christmas post...

I read a really good book this weekend - can't put my hands on it right now to tell you the title or author - but it was all about the orgins of Christmas and what the different traditions were about. Christmas has been a big topic for me over the past couple of years, and it was really interesting to read the historical data behind it. It echoed conclusions that I had come to, and made me feel a lot better about celebrating it as a Jewish convert. It was written by a Christian, and talked a lot about how mid-winter celebrations existed long before the birth of Christ, and that the bible only mentions the nativity twice. It certainly has enormous meaning to Christians, but it's okay that it has meaning for me as well, because Christmas is so much more than just a religious holiday. It's snowballed on top of mid-winter traditions, been re-created a whole bunch of different times and in different ways, from Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria to the poet who wrote the Night before Christmas and the invention of Santa Claus. Did you know, in Japan, a majorly not Christian country, Christmas is widely celebrated? Just because it's fun and meaningful and exciting to have a big ole celebration in the dead of winter.

All that being said... I'm happy that it's over. I took the tree down today, and am pausing in the middle of vacuuming up all the pine needles to reflect briefly on this past holiday season and what I liked most and would like to re-do, and what I think I'd rather skip next year. I really liked getting a smaller tree, and putting less emphasis on gifts. My kids didn't get a lot of presents under the tree - they both got one nice gift and a stocking full of odds and ends - and were perfectly happy with that. I have to remember that for next year. It's not about quantity at Christmas. Also I need to stock a LOT more candy canes. I loved staying at home and going to my mother's house later on in the day - it was a lot easier and less hectic on everyone. There's so much potential to stress out over the holidays - and it's not necessary. I made a concerted effort this year to not go down that road, and for the most part it worked.

In other news - can you believe that I'm going to be 24 weeks pregnant next week? That shocks me - it's more than half over, and while part of me can't wait to hold this tiny baby, part of me wants to slow time down - it's going by SO fast. Sam is still nursing every now and again - he asks a LOT, but it's more just habit than anything else. He's completely stopped doing it first thing in the morning, falls asleep most nights without it and with the exception of killer tantrums or if I REALLY need him to nap, he doesn't nurse at all during the day. We're not all the way weaned yet, but close enough so that I can pretend :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


This was a really nice year for holidays. We switched up tradition, my cousin Becky and I had been celebrating Christmas Eve together for the past fourteen years, first with an Open House at our apartment that we shared for eight years, and then at her house after that. This year, we decided to get a group together and go out for chinese food. And it was wonderful, we'll definitely do that again next year. Sam fell asleep on the way home, and Jess was still rocking and rolling when we got home. She and Marc wrote out her note to Santa (asking for a Zsu Zhu (??) pet at the last minute and "the one, the only, the beautiful and exquisite Rebecca Rubin) and left him cupcakes, candy canes, a glass of milk and of course, eight carrots for the reindeer.

She woke up bright and early, and was so excited. Marc wanted to wait until Sam woke up, but I wasn't going to wake him early (without napping, this kid needs all the sleep he can get), so he and I watched Jess open her gifts (she got Rebecca Rubin and a new bedding set) first. She was beyond thrilled, it was wonderful... I took a whole bunch of pictures of her. When Sam woke up, he was grumpy. Slightly mollified by the presents, but still screamed in horror when I tried to take pictures of him. (When he's thirty and thinks that I loved Jessie best because there are thousands of pictures of her smiling and only a few of him - I'm going to remind him of how many times he'd snarl "NO PICTURES" at me). We got Sam a big dragon castle thing, with guys to go with it. He's in heaven...

We spent the morning at home, and headed down to my mother's house around noontime. Jessie immediately disappeared with my niece Bella (who also got an American Girl doll), and poor Sam and I came into the living room. I say poor Sam because he just really doesn't like attention - and my grandfather and his wife were in the living room, along with my mother. They were all cooing over him (because he's cute and little and that's what you do with cute little kids) and trying to convince him to open his gift. He refused for the longest time, and then finally opened it. It was a Toy Story thing, some sort of house thing that you could open with figurines. He wouldn't let me open the box though, kept saying he just wanted to "wook" at it. Everyone kept trying to convince him to open the box, and he just got more and more upset. Eventually, he slid over to me and said very softly "Mommy, I wish nobody was here." I asked if he wanted to take it in the kitchen and open his gift where nobody could see him, and he nodded happily. He played in there for a while and was much better.

We stayed for the rest of the day, my sister came over, my cousin Beck and her husband and mother, an uncle, some more cousins, my brother and his wife and kids... it was nice. And the longer we were there, the more relaxed and happy Sam got. We just have to go to a party and plan on staying for several hours before Sam will stop snarling at people.

My grandfather was admitted to the hospital Christmas night. He's got an infection and they kept him overnight again last night. I'm hoping that he'll get released today...

We're having some quiet time this weekend, the weather is lousy, cold, icy and rainy. The kids have been busy playing with their new toys - I'm glad they didn't overloaded with gifts this year, because the things they got, they really are enjoying. I'm ill amused with Rebecca Rubin's hair - especially because Jess adores taking the brush that came with her and just ripping thru it. I've done my best to teach her to go slowly, and try not to brush it all that often - but she's still six, and it's just WAY too much fun to brush her hair. There's not a doubt in my mind that this doll is going to need a new head before too long, do they do that?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Better today

Hot tea might be the trick... I started to crash, exhaustion-wise, mid afternoon again. This time, instead of just suffering and trudging to bed at seven (since Marc won't be home until after nine tonight), I went for a hot cup of decaf tea. And while I don't feel up to running a marathon, I'm at least coherent and functional.

No more afternoon nap for Sam. Unfortunate casualty of weaning - he hasn't really figured out how to fall asleep without it yet. I've never just "put him down for a nap." He always nursed to sleep for that one. He's pretty good about going to bed, just crawling up with Marc, but occasionally me, and falling asleep when he's tired - but naptime? Forget it. If he's not nursing, he's not napping. And he's most assuredly not nursing anymore. He asked a couple of times last night in his sleep, and I'd let him attempt, and then cut him off after a minute or two. And he didn't ask this morning or at all during the day. He's weaned. He just is, and I'm thrilled. There's a little wistfulness, my baby boy took a pretty major step out of babyhood, but mostly, I'm just psyched about it.

But I could really use an afternoon nap at this point in the pregnancy ;-).

In other news - all is well with the girl child. She's been very busy with her new art kit, making birthday cards for her grandmother, and Merry Christmas cards for her teacher. Tomorrow is the last day of school before vacation and she's thrilled about it. She's so smart and so pretty - and growing up so fast... it's amazing to me that I've got an almost seven year old and am working on having another tiny baby girl. I wonder what they'll be like, how they'll be different from each other, how they'll be the same. I mostly just can't wait to see all three of my kids together. You know that feeling you get when your kids are together? That sense of just... rightness, for lack of a better word. Lately, when I look at Jess and Sam, it feels like my baby girl is missing. She's already such a big part of the family and not even due for another eighteen weeks (it's not like I'm counting or anything)...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Worn out

Sam doesn't throw the temper tantrums that Jess does... he's a much more even tempered sort of child. But when he does... wow. And although I was bragging earlier about how well weaning went - being able to nurse him down from a tantrum was so amazingly useful. I really missed being able to do that today.

The child was grubby. He just was - he needed a bath. He hates baths. For whatever reason - both my kids hate the tub. Jess used to scream so hard about a bath when she was his age, she literally would break out in hives. So when he said he wanted one, I enthusiastically filled the tub, collected the toys and popped him in there. After about ten minutes, he announced he was ready to get out. But he was grubby - his hair needed to be washed, his body needed to be washed, and I couldn't let him get out without washing him.

It was ugly - screaming, yelling, trying to climb out - things were thrown across the bathroom, but his hair was washed, his body had soap applied and rinsed - and I pulled him out. At which point he started screaming - jumping up and down, screaming at the top of his lungs. And it went on and on and on. He begged to nurse, I let him try, but the milk is gone, and it's so painful for me, sucking on dry super sensitive pregnant breasts, I couldn't bear it. It didn't do much more than just let him catch his breath for another bout of screaming. And jumping, and kicking and sobbing.

I was pretty tired before I started, but now am exhausted. He finally calmed down, after I paced around the apartment, holding his naked body up high over my stomach and letting him cry on my shoulder. He picked out his favorite jammies and I managed to distract him with an old cartoon called Fangface. He liked the name, and as far as I can tell, it's an odd version of Scooby Do. Actually, I just leaned back to glance at him in the living room, and the poor kid is sound asleep on the chair. He's so cute I could cry. This is why we don't kill them - because just when they've pushed us to the point where we're about to completely lose our minds, they do something so sweet or adorable, like fall asleep in the chair, all snuggled up with his butt in the air like he's a baby.

I so wish I could go to bed too.

I think it's official - Sam is weaned

I might be jumping the gun a little bit - but think I can safely say that we're almost entirely done nursing. YAY! I'm so proud of going for as long as I have (he's almost three and a half) and so thrilled that we did it peacefully and on terms that we can both live with. He's falling asleep more and more without it, nursing for just a minute or two when he does nurse, not asking for it first thing in the morning, skipping the afternoon nap.

I did it with no family support, and with a lot of disapproval and outright hostility towards it. I did it even when it hurt tremendously, I've nursed in front of rabbis, doctors, on a train, in museums, in a sling while shopping, in food courts, in the park, etc. I nursed for as long as he wanted to - and I'm super proud of that. I didn't night wean, I let him outgrow the need on his own, and it actually worked - he's a great sleeper. I'm so happy. I actually did a little dance last night when he dozed off in the chair instead of crawling up to nurse. I honestly can't remember the last time he asked to nurse, I've offered a few times when I KNOW he needed a nap and it was a quick way to ensure he got it, and will probably do that still when it's necessary. But he's done, really. He's outgrown it - and I'm so proud of him and so happy that I was able to nurse him for as long as he wanted it.

That being said - if this next baby wants to wean at a year, I'm going to be delighted. This weaning process has been really difficult for me, I didn't like being at odds with everyone about my parenting choices, and there were lots of time when I was gritting my teeth and crying with frustration. I'm grateful for Marc because he never once discouraged me from doing what I thought was best, and I know that a big part of Sam's weaning is because Daddy is so much cooler now than Mommy is. And he's more than willing to sit up and snuggle Sam to sleep, instead of letting me handle it - and that's made the weaning process easier. Also have to give props to the baby - because the fact that the milk changed and gradually dried up made it a smoother transition as well. And mostly, I have to thank Sam, for teaching me so much about patience, about parenting, about mothering, and about myself - I'm enormously proud of what we've accomplished, and I certainly wouldn't have chosen this path (I thought toddler nursing was weird, and never wanted to nurse longer than a year). But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can I control the weather???

I think so. My family is mostly a hodge-podge of pagan and wiccan - sure, we've got our vaguely Catholic branches, but my immediate family (specifically my mother) all proudly self-identify as witches and are firm believers in our ability to affect change in our world. Stuff like arranging for a parking space at the mall, or making sure that it's bright and sunny when we've got outdoor plans. I believe profoundly in a divine force that I can connect with - that we are created in God's image and have an immediate and personal relationship with.

That being said... there's a big family party this weekend at my aunt's house, and while I love my family - I'M TIRED. The past couple of weekends (and weeks) have been non-stop running, running, running and I'm just exhausted. I need a day to just... be. To stay in bed and read for a while, catch up on laundry, actually have a conversation (or two) with my husband... and I so wanted to reschedule the party until after Christmas. But I was outvoted, so was going to drag myself up there tomorrow (it's an hour and a half away), even though I REALLY REALLY wanted to stay home.

Lo and behold - we are about to get slammed with 8-16 inches of snow. Now I think I'm magic.

Had our first Hanukkah party last night. For the kids' friends - we let each one invite a buddy, and had some of the parents as well. It was chaotic and loud and fun. I threatened several times (during prep) to never do it again (as children were swinging from the chandelier and screaming with joy), but I think we'll probably make it an annual event.

Going out shopping again today - my last time, I hope. Annie is taking the cherubs and we're going to go out for lunch, pick up something awesome for Sam, get stuff for Becky/Greg, stocking stuffers for the kids, etc.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

So so proud of Jessica

She wrote the most detailed sentences out of everyone in her class, on the topic of how much she loves winter - and was chosen to read her paper out loud at todays WinterFest. She's so thrilled with herself, and danced off to school today in her favorite green dress. We bought her a curling iron for Hanukkah (because she's got gorgeous curls, but her hair is so silky and fine that the curls don't stay in her hair). The curling iron worked great, though, because her hair wants to curl, so I actually sprayed a little curl inducer stuff, and put in a bunch of little ringlets - she's so gorgeous. And I'm so proud of her for winning the writing contest - she used her imagination on some of them (for example, wrote about her purple sparkly ice skates she uses at Elm Park, when in fact, she's never been ice skating before :-), and some of them were completely factual (about how she gets cupcakes for breakfast on her birthday). She's so smart, and the best part was that she was so proud of herself for it.

We also got the tree last night - and it's staggeringly small. I have a tiny little space here, and so we needed a little tree, but it's shorter than I am ;-). Jess picked it out (as Sam was sound asleep in the car) and we're going to decorate it tonight. I feel much better about everything now that I've gotten it, like now the holidays can really get going. Hanukkah isn't a big holiday, religion-wise, it's fun, but not all that important, and honestly, after the second or third night, the kids keep forgetting about it. I have to remind them to light the candles each night and get the gift. I wasn't home last night, and they skipped the whole thing because Marc didn't remember either.

I'm very happy about celebrating Christmas this year - the kids are loving the whole thing, and I feel really good about not missing out on this tradition with them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

preschool or not???

This is my dilemma. It's not a big dilemma, and it's not really time sensitive, as I'm not even considering it until next summer at the absolute earliest and more likely, it would be next September. Jess had one year of preschool, the year before she started kindergarten. And she learned a lot, really enjoyed preschool - but repeated the curriculum once she started school and she flat out hated kindergarten. My argument in favor of preschool is that it's good prep for when they start going full time - but when I really think about it - it didn't help Jess at all, she still had a huge adjustment to starting real school, and didn't help her academically, I think it just made her bored, which added to how much she hated it.

Sam is a different kid than Jessica in so many ways. Much more attached to me, simply because I worked, at least part time, for a year or so before Sam, whereas Sam has been with me since the beginning. I've been babysitting for the same two kids since they were all infants, so he's growing up with two best friends, learning to share, how to get along with other kids, getting socialized, etc. Does he need preschool? Would it be worth it for him to go for a year before starting kindergarten? Both my daycare kids will be going off to preschool next year, so there's that weighing in on the side of starting him as well.

The only perk would be that it would force a little separation from me - give him a little independence. Sort of a taste, especially if we go with two or three half days a week - that way maybe the transition to full day kindergarten will be easier for him. I don't want to send him, I don't ever like sending my kids off to school - I still wish most mornings that I had home schooled Jess, even though she's loving first grade. Plus I keep hearing that boys don't thrive in academic settings in the early years, they're sort of designed for a more sedate, calm personality (the stereotypical girl personality), as opposed to the rough and tumble, rambunctious boy that I've got. I've read a lot about parents starting their sons a year late, to give them that extra time to mature and be ready for school.

I don't know... expect many more posts on this as I deliberate :-)

In other news... all is well here. We got Jess the American Girl doll that she's been dying for, and will have it waiting under the tree for her at Christmas. It's killing me to wait - I can't wait to see her face, she's going to be SO thrilled. I think we're going to get Sam the Batman Cave or some sort of big superhero thing (I'm letting Marc pick the boy toys - he's so much more in tune with what Sammy would love). We'll do stockings as well, but that's about it for Christmas. My kids get so much for Hanukkah that I keep Christmas kind of low key. I still love celebrating it, but have to take into account that they are celebrating (and receiving gifts) all month long, and too many gifts is not only foolish, economically, but they don't really value them because they have so much.

Baby is doing great - moving, moving, moving. I'm still all about food aversions - anyone have any great smoothie recipes they want to share? I have a hard time finding stuff that I can actually eat.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My son is anti-social, I'm okay with it.

I think a big part of parenting is accepting the children you have, and not trying to force them into the children you wish you had. I would love it if Sam was a social butterfly, delighted to go to parties and be around lots of people, I think his life would be easier. But the fact of the matter is that Sam is an extreme introvert, and really hates big crowds. His immediate reaction to any kind of party is to climb into my lap and beg to go home. He hates having strangers talk to him, doesn't like people he knows paying attention to him when he wants to hide and that's just the way he is.

I can't change that. (Believe me, if I could magically make him be super polite and friendly all the time, I would). What I can do is understand the child he is, and do my best to teach him techniques for surviving in the real world. I don't want to shield him from the world, he's part of a large extended family, on both sides, as well as a busy, active family with three older sisters. He's got to go to parties, and part of life is being around those that you love. We spend a lot of time at parties off to the side, going for short walks and getting away from the action. In the middle of the Hanukkah party at the synagogue, I sat along the wall, away from everyone and read a book while he climbed on the chairs behind me. He was happy, I was happy, and I'm sure most people thought that not only was my son rude and unpleasant, but that I was totally anti-social as well. But the choice was either that, or sitting in the middle of everything with him screaming on my lap.

The thing is, after about an hour or so, if everyone leaves him alone, he'll relax, open up and really enjoy being around everyone. But when we first get there (wherever there happens to be), he's in no mood to talk to anyone. Any attempt to jolly him into talking or playing is met with hostility on his part, and outright embarassment on my part. Because he'll snarl or cry and I can't do anything to stop it. I'm thinking about making a sign "Please just ignore the boy until he talks to you."

Can you tell we spent all weekend at parties? And I'm dead certain that there are a lot of people out there who think I'm a horrible mother because my child is rude and unfriendly - but he's not really - if they'd just give him some time to relax and feel comfortable before swooping in with kisses and hugs, he'd be fine. He is who he is - and he hates parties. I love him exactly as he is, and wish that it were easier for him - but I make no apologies for him. If you don't want to get snarled at, don't talk to him. Leave him alone and let him come to you - he will. He's a bright, beautiful, sunshiney little boy, who loves playing and interacting. He's a lot better than he was, as he gets older, he gets better at being around a lot of people, but he still needs time to scope things out on his terms.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday spirit

I'm getting there. It's somehow harder for me to get into the holidays now that I have kids, I think, because it's so much more work. Dragging down all the stuff, the dreaded shopping, etc... but tomorrow starts the first night of Hanukkah and I'm in the right mode now. I'm going to start my shopping tomorrow, and will do most of it on Saturday. This weekend kicks off non-stop Hanukkah parties and it'll continue right up until next Sunday when I've got my family Christmas party.

I'm feeling delightfully pregnant - my belly is lovely and round and the baby moves pretty much non-stop. I'm still throwing up occasionally, pretty much exhausted all the time, but mostly feel pretty good. I'm really enjoying this pregnancy, especially now that the nausea has mostly passed. I love being pregnant. I love the way I feel as though my entire body is stuffed full of magic - and there's something to be said for feeling so incredibly FEMALE - I am making a whole new person, right at this very moment. And that's not all - I'm still able to nurse my son, providing him with antibodies and nutrition and comfort and love. My body is freaking amazing, and I'm more aware of that now than ever before. As much as I'd LOVE to be done with nursing - I'm secretly really proud of the fact that we've gone this long. I am the nursing QUEEN.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

oh the drama of it all

Don't get me wrong, I love a little drama. A little emotional free for all, a little let it all go and cry your eyes out. I'm big for expressing whatever - the "hokey pokey theory of life" (phrase stolen from One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald). Whatever you're feeling, be it joy or misery, put your whole self in it.

But my daughter takes it to a whole new extreme. She's been wailing for the for past hour. About what, I'm not entirely sure, I tried to keep track, part of it was that her sisters were not coming over today, then it merged into some nose pain (??), and last I checked it was because her blistex wasn't where she left it. I've given up and just sent her to her room to pull herself together, when she's done crying, she's welcome to come back out. But until then... I just can't do it anymore. She's just crying, and really getting into it, letting the full throated wail and screech come out - and it's making me crazy... I know that this is part of what I love most about Jessie - her ability to feel everything so fully, it's what makes her who she is, and I wouldn't change it. Really. I just like to think about how nice it would be if she'd smile instead of sob on a day like today.

In other news - first snow day of the year. Marc and Sam went outside to clear off the car. And for the first time, I refused to trudge out there to keep an eye on Sam while he did it. He's three, old enough to control himself out there, and he had a wonderful time. I ended up standing outside on the porch anyway, because Sam was nowhere near ready to come in by the time Marc was ready to go to work. I had my boots on barefoot and my winter coat over my nightgown and brought down my book and read while he played in the snow. It was sweet - he's an outside boy - and expressed concern for "his trees" would they be okay in the snow? I assured him that trees LOVE snow, and would be just fine :-)

The baby is moving, moving, moving. A lot, and I love it. Really, really love it. This is my favorite part of the pregnancy, so incredibly worth the first 14 weeks of utter hell :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

So very busy...

I don't feel as though I'm all that busy. I mean, I'm at home pretty much all day, every day. And even though there's the obvious chaos that goes along with having small children in the house, things still feel fairly calm and relaxed much of the time. But I spoke to one of my best friends in the world and she mentioned that she hasn't talked to me lately because she didn't want to bother me, I seem to be so busy all the time. Every time she calls, the kids are yelling or there's something going on... and Marc commented this morning how exhausted he was after such a busy weekend.

Looking back, it wasn't all that busy, but it feels as though we're just doing something constantly. Saturday morning, he got up, brought Jess and Sarah to Hebrew School, came back, picked Sam and I up and we went out for breakfast (which was very sweet, because he was planning on going to services but because Sammy cried so hard when he left, he came back to spend the time with us instead). Then we picked up the girls from Hebrew School, did the dance relay (where we drop one off at the studio and pick the other one up), came home, dropped off me, Sam and Lilli, and took Jessie grocery shopping. Then he picked up Sarah, and we spent the afternoon at home. The girls went home early, because Harrison and Julia were coming over. The kids were here for dinner, and settled down to watch movies around eight thirty or so.

Sunday was equally busy, I guess, Marc went to the Brotherhood Breakfast with his dad at the synagogue in the morning, and I stayed home with the kids. Then he picked up the girls, brought them back here, we made Hanukkah cards for a marine that Marc met thru work, who's stationed up in Alaska. After that, we picked up Jordyn and went to the Hanukkah party for the PJ Library. Which was actually great, and everyone had a really good time. I'm feeling delightfully pregnant now. Sam was, as per usual, miserable at the party for the first hour, but then loosened up and started interacting with people.

Today's a quiet day at home, and I'm looking forward to just relaxing and straightening out the house. Both kids are seriously sleep deprived, so I'm working actively towards an early bedtime with Jess. She's been fighting sleep, really hard, for the past couple of nights and I need to fix that. I've always had no problem getting her to sleep, but now she's bigger and it's becoming more of an issue. I want her to be able to fall asleep on her own, and it's not going well. I'm thinking that maybe getting a sound machine, or a books on tape sort of thing might work well for her, because she falls asleep best when I'm reading out loud to her from one of my books (boring for her, but she likes to listen to something when dozing off).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The December Dilemma

It's an actual dilemma - I didn't make up the name. This whole December/holiday problem comes up every year for families that are interfaith. Not that we're technically interfaith anymore, because the kids and I converted to Judaism earlier this year. But unfortunately - it's still a dilemma.

This morning, Marc and I had our annual battle over the holidays. The worst part is that it's all theoretical - we weren't fighting over whether we'd be celebrating Hanukkah (we are) or if we'd be putting up a tree (we're doing that too). For me, Christmas isn't a religious holiday - but it's still a beautiful one, filled with tradition and peace and goodwill towards men. I have wonderful memories of Christmas as a child. And because we were never really a traditional Catholic family (most of my family would self identify as pagan or wiccan if asked), I don't have any religious associations with it.

But for a Jewish person - someone who was raised Jewish - Christmas does have all sorts of negative religious associations. And it's hard for Marc to compromise. Not that he's not going to compromise, not that he's ever said that I can't get a tree or put up my little nativity scene that my mom made me when I was a kid. But he's not thrilled with it - and I want him to feel better about it. I essentially was fighting with him about the way he feels and not the way he's acting. Because actions - he's great with that. He'll go get me my tree, and let me string up the lights and hang the candy canes. He enthusiastically watches all the Christmas specials with the kids, and will come with me to my mother's house on Christmas Day.

I didn't grow up Jewish, and I'm okay with that. I'm very happy with my spiritual path, the road I've taken to get to where I am, and I wouldn't change that. I don't want to pretend that I didn't celebrate what, for me, is a wonderful, life affirming, joyous time of year - and I don't want to deprive my kids from that. But I AM Jewish - and I don't want to change that either. Left to my own devices, I don't have any conflict with lighting the menorah and making potato latkes and putting up a tree and leaving cookies out for Santa. Because one is spritual, one is a celebration of a miracle, it's a way of bringing light into the darkest time of the year - and one is just fun, pretty lights, candy canes and jingle bells. My kids know the difference - and are able to appreciate each holiday for what it represents to them. I just wish sometimes it was easier for Marc to get there.

It would be easier, I think, if Marc had gone thru a conversion process similiar to the one that I went thru. If he had thought about all of this, figured out what's important to him, what he'll compromise on, what he can't, how he wants to raise the kids, etc. But there's no conversion process for Jews who marry girls who aren't Jewish. And even though I've converted, there are still compromises that he has to make, just because I'm not, nor will I ever be, a person who grew up Jewish. I can't magically erase my past, and more importantly, I don't want to. I don't want to hide who I am and my family's traditions from my kids. I'm perfectly comfortable with being a Jewish woman who celebrates Christmas as well as Hanukkah. I'm very comfortable with the December Dilemma - I worked my way thru it over the past couple of years ago. It's just occuring to me that Marc missed out on that - he missed out on that introspection, that really deep thinking about what our marriage means to him, what it means to raise children with someone of a different background.

We'll survive the December Dilemma - we do every year. And in the end, it's precisely because of who we are that keeps us together. I know that he loves me, exactly as I am, and I know that I feel the same about him. Our children will grow up with a strong Jewish identity - but they're also going to grow up knowing all the words to the 12 Days of Christmas and craving candy canes every December. And that's exactly the way I want it to be.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A boy and his dad

When Sam was about seven months old, he fell in love with his Daddy - and it's a relationship that has only intensified as time passes. Don't get me wrong, this boy loves me - but he WORSHIPS his father. Last night, Marc got home at about seven. Sam is in the process of giving up the afternoon nap, so in theory, he should have been going to bed around seven thirty or eight. But once Daddy got home, Sam was his shadow all night long. First they fixed the dryer together. The thermostat had to be replaced, and Sam got his tools and headed to the laundry room with Daddy. It took about an hour, and Sam was right there, actively hammering away on the thing and feeling oh-so-important. After that, they had a little dinner (Sam's second dinner of the night), played swords and Spiderman on the bed (wrestling and jumping on Daddy) and then took a shower and shaved together (we bought Sam a little kid shaving kit last Christmas, he likes to scrape the soap off his face). Finally, I convinced Marc to come and settle down in the living room with him, and Sam was trying SO hard to stay up with him. He was sitting in the chair next to Marc, and I realized that he was literally falling asleep, his head was starting to nod off. I went over to him and picked him up, and he was asleep before I laid him down :-). So incredibly sweet... but I kind of miss my husband because Sam has been completely monopolizing him :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's working!

I think, as a parent, most of the time, you really don't know if you're doing a good job or not. In fact, being me, most of the time, I'm pretty sure I'm screwing the kids up in ways I can't even imagine yet. But every now and again, I see actual tangible results, and the pleasure I feel is huge.

As many of you know (you know, the three people I know of that actually read this blog), I've been struggling with extended nursing. It wasn't necessarily a path I wanted to walk, but it is the path that Sam has planted himself along, so I'm doing my best to work thru it. It's been really difficult, in terms of family support (non-existant), pregnancy (suffice it to say - remember those first weeks of nursing, when it just hurt and you'd have to do lamaze breathing just to get thru it - that's NOTHING compared to nursing while pregnant). Sam's started skipping his nap (he's almost three and a half, so I guess it had to happen sometime) and (miracle of all miracles) has started falling asleep at night, cuddled up in DADDY'S arms - NOT NURSING. I can actually see the end of the tunnel now - the main nursing sessions that I couldn't talk him out of where nursing to sleep. He still nurses on occasion - but it's nowhere near as frequent, and I think we've at last managed to break the habit of needing it to sleep. THANK GOD! It actually worked - letting him wean on his own DID NOT mean letting him nurse until he was 30, despite what everyone in my family thinks. I'm psyched that we're finally making concrete progress on this matter ;-)

Miss Jess is one of those kids who just doesn't LIKE going to school. Likes school, but doesn't like the process of getting up and dressed and out the door. And many, many mornings, she lobbies to stay home. Claiming an upset stomach, or sore throat, or her ankle hurts (it's random stuff - I know she's just throwing it out there to see if I'll bite). Today was one of those mornings. Complicated by the fact that I actually AM sick - sneezing, coughing, lungs congested, I feel awful. And I was so not up for the fight this morning - because there have been days when Marc has had to drag her out the door, crying and wailing (not that she's not FINE by the time they get there - but I have a drama queen, and she's well aware of how easy it is to make me feel guilty). I just couldn't do it this morning, I didn't feel well enough for the fight - and after about five minutes of it, I called her into the living room, and told her that I knew she wasn't sick, but I didn't feel good enough to fight her on it. So she could stay home - but that going to school was her job, and her responsiblity, and I would be very disappointed if she chose to take advantage of the fact that I was too sick to force her to go. She slammed back into her bedroom, and my heart was sinking - because I knew that she'd choose to stay home. BUT SHE DIDN'T. She came out and asked for help picking out clothes, got herself dressed, ate breakfast and left with an extra hug and I'm so proud of her for making the right decision. It was definitely another moment when I felt like all my struggles to teach her responsibility and compassion were working - when the chips were down, and it was totally up to her, she made the right decision.

It's a good day here - now if I could only take a deep breath without coughing...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Not too much going on....

Thanksgiving was lovely - it was actually one of the most peaceful ones I can remember. One of my brothers, I swear to God, makes it his holiday mission to bug the hell out of me. I go down to my mother's the night before to be there bright and early to help make the turkey. And my brother always shows up around eight, and bugs me until he finally goes home to his own house for dinner around noontime. This year, he never showed up, and the day was peaceful and easy and delightful.

We had another Thanksgiving on Saturday, here at the house. Invited friends and family and the turkey turned out wonderfully. This way we have tons of leftovers, and it went so well that we'll do it every year, I think.

Everyone's got a cold here, well, except for Marc, and I think he's coming down with it. It's not a bad cold, but coughing, sneezing and general yuckiness seems to prevail all around. I took some benedryl to bed last night, and feel a LOT better this morning. Jess was home yesterday (she had a dentist appt in the middle of the day, so I didn't bother waking her up and shipping her to school for only a half day), but went to school happily enough this morning.

I was doing dishes this morning (as per usual) and Sam came tearing into the kitchen, devastated that I was "doing his job" without him. He LOVES doing the dishes, and really considers it his responsibility. We do them together, obviously, but he did a great job, and I love that he totally steps up when it comes to household chores :-). I also love that it's my son doing the dishes, and not my daughter. Sam's such a BOY sometimes, I worry that we do a little too much gender stereotyping around here, because Jess is such a girly girl and Sam's so rough and tumble boy-ish. I think it evens things out to have Sam in charge of dishes. Now if I could just get Jess interested in bringing out the trash...

Baby is doing well - moving a LOT and I love it. I'm getting bigger and bigger and it's starting to occur to me that there's no way out now. If that makes any sense... with both Jess and Sam, there was a point in each pregnancy when it suddenly became clear to me that the only way out of this was labor. There's no escape - this baby is definitely real and coming and in a few short months, she'll be here. I can't wait.