Monday, December 27, 2010

First snowfall

It's finally here, the first official blizzard of 2010.  And I just shipped Marc, Jess and Sam outside to shovel, shove snow down Marc's pants and build a snowman.  Julianna and I are happily warm, hanging in the living room.  I've got a turkey pot pie bubbling in the oven, Jules is playing with Sam's blocks and Toy Story 2 is still on the television.

In the end, I had a really nice Christmas.  Although I think next year, we'll do it differently.  Again.  I missed going to my mother's house.  And since it didn't work out the way that I hoped it would for her, I don't think there's much to be gained by staying home.  Next year, my plan is to make a big fantastic special breakfast, and then we'll head down to Mom's after lunch. 

Jessica got a CD player for her bedroom, as well as a bunch of CD's.  And her life is now completely changed, as she's suddenly a tweener, playing her music as loud as she can and wailing along with Taylor Swift about how life is when you're fifteen.  It's so bizzare to me, and really inspired me to reflect on the differences between mothering all of my children.

They range in age from almost eight years old to almost eight months old.  And the skills and techniques needed for one are completely different from the ones needed for the other.  And the third requires a whole other set.  Jess is becoming her own person - forming her own identity and personality and relationships independent of me.  She's forming ideas about the kind of life she's going to lead, really developing into her own.  Sam is still little in so many ways, but on the brink of so much more.  And Julianna... she's in the throes of separation anxiety, almost doing everything, talking, walking, etc. 

In many ways - Sam's the easiest for me right now.  His needs are easy to meet, he's potty trained, sleeps on his own, feeds himself - but is still little.  He doesn't want (or really seem to need) much more than just having Marc and I around.  He's all love and emotion, but it's simple stuff.  He's becoming more aware of subleties, like if I'm irritated he'll ask why, and he's gaining more control over his temper tantrums.  He's maturing, but still little.

Julianna is still a baby, and just requires so much more.  She's eating solids and sipping water and juice, but breastfeeding still makes up at least 80% of her diet.  And it's probably higher than that - she's into feeding herself now, and still hasn't completely mastered actually keeping the food in her mouth.  Marc says that while it's not a waste of time or effort to feed her, it is a total waste of food, because almost all of it ends up piled up in her lap, under her chin and on the floor.  She's says "Mama" now and she's got the prettiest smile, her whole face just lights up when she sees me. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sudafed and Christmas

That's pretty much where my mind is these days.  I've got a sinus infection, but so far, it seems to be going away when I take a Claritin D.  The sudafed in the medication makes me all floaty and weird, but it's not an unpleasant feeling.  Just a little disorienting.  Anyway - I've been floating off and on for about three days now (when I'm not floating, I'm bitchy and in pain), and I'm starting to really enjoy it. 

Plans are moving forward for my super cool Christmas celebration.  I'm doing my own thing this year for Christmas, seeing my mom and step dad on Christmas Eve instead of during the day on Christmas.  There are a couple of different reasons, it'll make things easier all around for everyone if I'm notably absent on Christmas Day, and I also like the thought of starting my own traditions and having my own holiday celebration.  It's a nice way to make Marc feel more a part of Christmas, if it's something we do together as opposed to something that we do with just my side of the family.  So he's got big plans to make some sort of alcoholic beverage, glogg, and I've got a 20lb turkey screaming out my name.  We've got friends coming over too, and I'm really excited about it.

We keep Christmas relatively low-key, gift wise.  The kids get so much stuff from Hanukkah that, to a certain extent, it's just logical not to overload them with stuff.  Plus, I'm a big proponent of the less is more theory when it comes to kids gifts (not that you would know that from looking at my downstairs playroom - but in my defense, we've got big extended families and I've got a total inability to say no to hand me down toys).  So we got each kid a nice gift, and I'll stuff their stockings with stuff and that'll be that. 

In other news... let's see.  Miss Jess danced off to school delightedly this morning - granted, it was entirely because she was toting sixty plus sugar cookies for the cookie decorating party today.  If every day could be cookie decorating day, her life would be a lot more fun.  At least in the short term.  Sam is boucing around the house, and Julianna is having a little peach yogurt with Daddy.  She's eating solids about three times a day now.  And I can't believe that she's almost eight months. 

Marc and I have big plans for an official date in January.  It occurs to me that this is our first real date since last January.  That's not good.  But honestly, Marc and I spend a lot of time together, and we really do like each other an awful lot, beyond being in love.  We may not get a lot of alone time, but I still feel like we're as happy as we've ever been - and we operate with a pretty high threshold of contentment :-).  Not everyone has what we have, and I never lose sight of that.  We work hard at staying connected, maintaining our relationship, independent of being co-parents, and so far, I'd have to say that we're wicked good at it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why would anyone NOT want to co-sleep?

It's just awesome.  I love snuggling with that little girl at the crack of dawn.  I nursed her early this morning, around six-ish, and she's still out cold.  I'm awake and alone right now - Jess off to school, Marc getting bloodwork done and running errands, Sam and Julie still sleeping, which is so unbelievably rare, I don't know quite what to do with myself.  Shower?  Dishes?  Vacuum?  Vege out with coffee and GMA?  Can't decide, so I figured I'd blog instead. 

I went thru old blog posts last night, and was amused to see that last December, I was pretty much doing exactly what I'm doing right now.  Which is really kind of cool, I like the continuity of it.  I like that every year, we struggle over celebrating Jewish or pagan traditions and how to blend it, because every year we get just a little bit better about it.  I like that I struggled with how to get the kids to bed, how Marc does it differently than I do, and coming to grips with the fact that neither of us is right or wrong, both methods are valid.  I especially love looking back and remembering my pregnancy, and how much better it is now with Julie as a roly poly seven and a half month old.  Jessie is so much more grown up, Sam is too.  Everything is changing in exactly the best ways, but staying the same in all the ways that matter :-).

I'm working on positivity this morning.  Is that a word?  I was a little grumpy this morning, the house is cold, and I'm not at my best at the crack of dawn anyway.  It seemed as though everyone was going out of their way to make my life complicated and unpleasant (which isn't true, I know it's irrational). So I made the conscious decision to turn it around.  I'm all sunshine and joy this morning now.  The second cup of coffee may have factored into this.   If you can, think positive thoughts my way today - I fear it may be an uphill battle to maintain this cheer. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Disconcerting realization

My husband is kind of scary about heat.  Not scary, that's not the right word.  But he's one of those people, you know the type, the ones that like to keep the heat as low as possible.  Like, just above the degree that it would have to be for you be able to see your breath.  He runs hot, as a rule, so I don't think he gets cold the way normal (i.e. me) people do.  I'm walking around, all bundled up in layers and just so shivering cold, when I wandered by the thermostat and realized that it's set at sixty degrees.  Sixty.  No wonder I'm freezing.

We've been together for almost nine years, and I'm just realizing this because this is the first place we've lived where we really controlled the heat.  We lived in Maynard with Becky for the first year and a half, then with his parents for a year or two.  Then we lived in an apartment that was so well heated by the apartment upstairs, when they'd turn up the heat, our apartment got warm because the heat ran thru the pipes.  Then our apartment on Wall Street had one of those super old fashioned heaters that never really worked that well.  Our last apartment just had radiators controlled by the apartment downstairs, so we didn't have any say in it. 

This house is wonderful, I adore it.  But it's got porcelain tiles thru the kitchen and living room, and hard wood floors throughout the rest of the house.  And it's icy freaking cold all the livelong day.  At night, it's not too bad, since we're under the covers and mostly snuggled up together.  But I can totally see the need for me to invest in a bunch of rugs and sweatshirts to get thru the rest of the winter. 

Julianna has a touch of croup.  A touch, because she hasn't coughed since this morning, but she woke up with that barking cough.  Jess and Sam never had it, but I recognized it right away because my nephews had it all the time when they were tiny.  She's asleep on Marc right now, so sweet.  Sam and Harrison have been tearing thru the house for the past four and a half hours, I'm so happy they're getting along so well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I just want... this

I watched an episode of  "Lie to Me" the other day.  Granted, I'm way behind on it, so the show probably originally aired a month ago, but there was one particular line that I've been thinking about ever since.  The plot of the show was basically that there was this woman who had somehow been sucked into this New Age-y, create your own reality, visualize the reality you want and you can make it sort of cult.  Which isn't really that relevant to what I'm saying - but there was this one scene where a woman was defending the thought process behind it, how it was a matter of changing your life to accept only the positive, the highest good. 

It was all sort of familiar to me, not that I have a lot of experience with cults, but the whole New Age spiritual belief system is something that I'm pretty fluent with.  I converted to Judaism after a long process of moving from Catholicism to Wicca to general paganism to a cobbled together sort of spirituality that I had made up that was sort of a combo of everything that actually correlated really nicely with Judaism.  I'm getting off track here, obviously, but the point I was making was that there was a time in my life when I believed whole heartedly with all of that.  That changing your life was essential, that in order to achieve your highest self, you had to undergo this spiritual transformation, that you had to recognize the unhealthy ties and cords connecting you to disfunctional relationships and be able to move beyond that into a higher, more evolved self.

But I realized that I don't believe that any more.  I don't want to change my life.  I don't want anything more than what I have right now.  This marriage, these children, this life.  My only wish, my only hope is just for more of this.  Time to watch my kids grow, time to raise this family, time to spend with Marc, just... this.  I want exactly what I have.  Right here, right now.  I don't want to exist in stasis, I want to move on, I want Jessie to get bigger, for Sam to start school, for Julie to start crawling.  I want to move on - but move on with all of this.  I love my life.  I love my family, my husband, my daughters, my son, my stepdaughters.  My friends, my extended family (those who are still talking to me, at least).  I love this.  Right here, right now, this is exactly what I always wanted.  And if I'm very lucky, I'll get to have this for the rest of my life. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First words

Jessica's first real word was Dada.  She said Mama first, but she used it more as a general expression of need.  She said it when she was hungry or wet or bored.  I remember one memorable occasion, driving home on Rte. 117, with her in the backseat, whimpering "Mama, mama, mama" over and over again - she really didn't like the car.  It was what she said when she wanted attention.  But the first real word that she said, knowing what it meant, was Dada.  She was in her seat up on the kitchen table and Marc walked out of the bathroom into the kitchen and she looked at him and said "Dada." 

Sam's first word, really, was "Dis."  I'm sure he said Mama too - but his first real word was dis.  He said it for anything.  He'd point at something, say "dis" and know that he was communicating effectively.  It's Marc's fault - he used to walk around the house with Sam in his arms and say "THIS, Sammy, THIS is a (fill in the appropriate word, door, table, sister, etc)."  Dis, plus nodding his head yes or no, was really all Sam did for a while, prompting me to go to the pediatrician and ask why my son was developmentally delayed.  He wasn't.  He was just a man of few words, and dis plus head nods were more than enough to get what he needed to get communicated.  Now, of course, he's a little chatterbox, but back then, it was just dis.

Julianna isn't talking yet.  Not really.  She says AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA a lot, and has recently started with LAAAAAAA and BAAAAAAAAAAA, just to shake it up a bit.  But really, when I look back, I'm going to think that her first real word is a cough.  She learned how to do it back in September, back when Sam got his cold, and still does it several times a day.  She does it on purpose, and never actually because she's got a cough.  She just thinks it's a fun thing that we do.  For a while there, most of September and October, it seemed as though all of us had a cough - except for Julianna (thank you breastfeeding).  So I suppose it's normal that she'd think it was a word, and a way to communicate.  Every time she coughs, I tell her she's not sick and she grins at me.  It's what she does know when she wants to get me to look at her, both Jess and Sam also laugh at her. 

She's scooting on her butt, still won't crawl, but she's moving her little tushy to get where she needs to go.  She's so freaking cute, so social and sunshiney happy all the time.  She's got a little toy radio and last night, we were playing it for her and she was bouncing and dancing to the music. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My baby only naps if she's held, and I don't mind.

Sure, sometimes it's aggravating.  Sometimes I think about the dishes I could be doing, the laundry I could be folding, the dinner I could be making.   Julie is an angel baby - she's social and happy, and still a pretty good sleeper at night - but she's a crappy napper.  Unless she's being held.  She'll snuggle down and just sleep for hours as long as one of us is willing to sit still and hold her. 

The other night, I had so much to do.  I had spent most of the week at the hospital with my cousin and her gorgeous baby, so my house was crying out for attention.  The laundry was washed and dried, but there were oceans of it waiting to be folded, toys were scattered all over the place, the dishwasher had to be emptied, and I was starving (because I had fed the kids dinner and cleaned while they ate).  I put the two older ones to bed, and had Julie snoozing in our bed.  I eased away, slowly, so slowly, holding my breath - and she started fussing.  Then she started wailing and I just sighed and picked her up.  She laid her head down, patted my back gratefully and went right back to sleep. 

I came into the kitchen, got myself dinner, zapped it, poured a glass of milk, and settled down on the couch to watch television and eat.  All one handed (I kick ass at getting stuff done with a baby in my arms).  And she was so sweet and snuggly - and I realized that I'm not all that frustrated at holding her while she sleeps.  Because, really, how many more babies are going to sleep on me?  How many more times will I have a tiny little one who's whole idea of happiness is just being with me?  I've learned that they grow so fast.  So freaking fast, and she's my little girl.  My tiny baby girl, and in the same way that I love it when Jess staggers into my bed in the middle of the night, or Sammy curls up with me first thing in the morning, I love her little head on my shoulder and baby hand patting my back.  They won't always be this little - and I don't regret a single second of holding my older two.  I don't regret holding Jessie so much that she didn't actively walk until she was eighteen months old.  I don't regret nursing Sam as long as I did.  I won't regret holding Julianna thru her naps either.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that when she's an active, roly poly four year old who won't nap anymore, I'll look back on the hours that I spent just snuggling her and miss them. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Squishy baby love

Becky had her baby on Tuesday afternoon - so beautiful, Abigail Bridgett.  She was 10lbs, 3 oz, 23.5 inches long.  And so freaking gorgeous, with squishy cheeks, huge eyes and I'm already so in love with her.  I've had a sneaky suspicion that she and Julianna had plans before either of them were conceived, and thus, have been referring to her as Julie's best friend for months now.  There's something magical about watching Becky with her daughter, I've waited so long for her to hold her baby in her arms, and I'm incredibly grateful to be able to see it now.

Becky and I have been thru so much together, and even though we're first cousins, I really think of her as my big sister.  She's been the one constant in my life, she's my family, my best friend, my girl.  She's (to quote Meredith) my person.  She's my reality check, the one I count on.  I'm so over the top thrilled about her baby, and love that she and Greg are so happy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Ahhh - December.  The annual month where Marc and I ponder and discuss and analyze for hours, trying ot balance out his Jewish family traditions with my hodge podge Christian/Pagan traditions.  The one guaranteed date night - we combine shopping with dinner and generally, we end up bringing at least our youngest one (whichever one happens to be the youngest) with us.  Hanukkah is early this year, starting on 12/1, so we had to jump into celebrating way before I was really in the mood.  So far, so good though.  We had the first night last night and had a bunch of people over to celebrate with us.  I like having people over - and this house seems to be designed for entertaining.  We've got the big dining room table, big open kitchen/living room combo.  I've got at least five menorahs currently going - and there's one more hiding somewhere in my boxes of holiday decorations.  I'm thinking that we'll get the tree next week sometime.  I have to get a Baby's First Christmas ornament for Julianna. 

Christmas this year is a bit puzzling for me.  I've got a messy, messy extended family and navigating the holidays is always challenging.  I think this year, I'm going to go to the big family Christmas party, and then see my mother on Christmas Eve with the kids before going out for Chinese food with our friends.  Then on Christmas Day, I think I'm just going to stay home.  I'm going to make a big turkey dinner, I've invited over some friends for dinner and I'm really kind of looking forward to it.  It'll make the holidays easier for my mother too - but it'll also be nice to host my own Christmas dinner.   I'm still on the fence though, because not going down to my mother's house kind of freaks me out, so I might head down there that night.  I don't know if I'm ready to be all the way grown up - I still kind of want to go to my mom's house for Christmas. 

In other news... Julianna is sitting up, and according to my friend Sara, almost sort of crawled today.  In keeping with tradition, I didn't see it :-(.  She's getting so big so fast.  She's outgrown EVERYTHING.  She's in 12-18 month clothes now, and I'm still surprised by it.  We got Sam a big tool set last night, and he's spent most of the day building imaginary spaceships with it.  Jess got the camera she's been begging for - and she's so happy about it.  I'm just hoping she doesn't drop it and break it the first week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Good merry morning

All is delightful in my world today - had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving.  Every year, Jessica and I (and now Julianna) head down to my mother's house on Wednesday.  We get up at the crack of dawn and make stuffing and get the turkey in the oven bright and early.  It was a smaller crowd than usual this year, we had twelve people total.  And it was perfect.  Everyone there was happy and content, there was no conflict, no hidden resentments - it was just a gathering of people who were happy with each other and happy to be there.  I loved it. 

HOWEVER, my poor little Jessie Bug Noodle last night - she was so incredibly overtired.  We went to Marc's aunts house on the way home and had dessert with his family.  Which, slight digression here, was also lovely.  Nan runs a daycare, so she's got lots of fun toys for the kids and Julianna is such a social baby.  I walked in and immediately plopped her down in my mother-in-law's lap.  I could NOT have done that with Sam.  Sam still hates social settings and has to eased slowly into them, with a lot of alone time with one of us and slowly integrated into a party - and sometimes he doesn't ever get comfortable and spends the entire party hiding behind my legs.  Jess was sort of in the middle, she liked people, but needed some time to warm up.   But Julie - she's just delighted to see everyone.  People love her, she knows it and is instantly comfortable and relaxed.  I can't get used to it - but I do absolutely love the smiles on everyone's faces when my beautiful baby girl is loving them. 

Back to Jessie... so we got home and she was so tired.  She had gotten up at five and cooked her little heart out.  I was so proud of her, because she was right there, totally involved, mixing stuffing and cramming it into the turkey.  But five o'clock is crazy early for my girl, and she was so done by the end of the day.  I was scurrying around the house, cleaning and Marc was in the living room with all three kids.  Jess and Sam started pushing and shoving each other, fighting over which one was going to play with Julianna.  Marc tried, ineffectually, to tell them to stop and finally had to reach down and snatch Jules up, and explain to them that she wasn't a toy and they didn't get to fight over her.  Both of them instantly started screaming and Sam stormed off and started hollering at me about it.  I tried to talk to him, but he was just screaming so I popped him into his bedroom to cool off.  I came back into the living room, pretty aggravated at the whole situation, and told Jess that her choices were to either stop yelling or go to her room.  She kept yelling and I told her to go to her room and she got up, yanked up Julie's play mat and hurled it across the living room.   I marched her to her room and told her to go to bed. 

I never do that - just send her to bed crying.  I felt awful - although I knew it was the right thing to do.  She was so exhausted, she just needed to sleep, and she also needed to know that chucking toys across a room is not an appropriate way of expressing her feelings.  I went in to check on her and she had curled up in bed with a box of tissues and fallen asleep, with her little angelic face all tear stained and tissues scattered and crumpled up across the bed.  Felt like a terrible mother... but she still loves me, woke up this morning and crawled into my lap for a good morning hug :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I've got my aunt staying with me, she's up for the holidays and waiting for my cousin's baby to be born.  Which is lovely, and I absolutely love having her here, but it does mean that I'm fighting for computer time with my unemployed husband plus her.  Hence, no blog posting for a while. 

But all is still delightful in my world.  Julianna still has her one tooth, which she's weilding as a serious weapon.  She's already cut the top of her mouth twice with it, and while she hasn't bitten me while she's awake, she has done it several times after she's dozed off while nursing.  She's sitting up on her own, and still so freaking cute, it just takes my breath away a thousand times a day.  Samilicious boy is getting bigger and bigger every day.  One of Marc's friends gave us a bunch of hand me downs and I thought they were WAY too big - turns out that they are just a tiny bit too big, and some of them fit him perfectly.  When did he grow so much?  Where did my tiny boychild go?  Jessica Mary is still my shining star - she and I are heading down (with Julianna, of course) to my mother's house tonight, we do that every year so that we're there for the stuffing part of Thanksgiving - it's my favorite part of the whole day, when it's just us cooking and talking. 

I woke up this morning with a killer headache (didn't have coffee yesterday afternoon) and was lying in bed.  I had Jess get me some motrin and a bottle of water and begged Marc to take Julie out of the bed so that I could lay still until the meds kicked in.  And both Jessie and Sam were firmly convinced that the best way to make me feel better was to lay in there with me, giving me Sammy snuggles and Jessie love.  Even though there was a rational, logical part of me that was whimpering in pain wanted them to go away, far away, just so that I could lay in complete silence until it got better - I put my arms around them, enjoyed all the love and "feel better Mommy" and assorted comfort measures that they could come up with. 

My head is still pounding and it's not going well - but I'm relying on motrin and coffee and lots of water and hoping for the best...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Last night, I had finally drifted off to sleep when I woke up to hear Sam hollering.  We still play musical beds a lot of the time.  I had both the girls in bed with me and Marc was in Sam's bed with him.  (On a side note, I had put Jessie to bed with a special treat of falling asleep in my bed while watching a History Channel special on Mt. Rushmore - I love that watching documentaries is her idea of a special treat)  I got up to discover Sam was mostly asleep and yelling that he wanted to go home - he just wanted to go home.  I felt so bad for him - any kind of change is so hard for him, and it seemed as though in his sleep, he just wanted to be back home where everything was familiar to him.  I crawled in next to him and started rubbing his back.  Marc was in there too, trying to get him to understand that he was home - but he was still really asleep.  Then suddenly, he started hysterically laughing - the kind of contagious laughter, where he sounds so delighted and just tickled pink by the whole situation.  I started laughing too - because it was just kind of funny, Marc and I both bleary eyed and exhausted, trying to soothe this kid who's really still sleeping.  There is something magical about a boy who just laughs in his sleep. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paragon of health

That's my baby girl.  We had her six month checkup today, and she's brilliantly healthy.  She's in the ninetieth percentile for height and head circumference, and seventy fifth for weight.  We're still having issues with solids - she loves baby food purees but can't hold them down.  Strangely enough, she's great at table food, rice, beans, bagels and pizza crust, but straight up baby food makes her puke.  But since she's obviously thriving on breast milk (and I'd say that's still about 99% of her intake at this point), the pediatrician was fine with me taking it slowly on her having solid food.  We're probably going to be doing mostly "baby led solids" with her, which makes me a little sad.  I really do love spoon feeding her - but she's better with food she feeds herself.  She's still got her one little tooth, and received many compliments on her general disposition, social skills and ability to make eye contact and engage with people. She got three shots, and is actually napping - alone - in the bed right now.  Vaccines have many benefits, but one of them is simply that after getting her shots, she naps really well. 

Earlier today - I was on the phone with my mother, trying to guide her thru Worcester traffic.  She was lost, as per usual, and frustrated and vaguely blaming me because I was the one who moved to Worcester and thus was really the reason that she had to fight city traffic to get anywhere.  And since I get lost, still (after living here for almost seven years), I was frustrated because I couldn't figure out where she was, let alone how to get her where she needed to be.  And my little Sammy love, he saw me on the phone and very sweetly asked if I needed a kiss, and then came over and kissed my arm.  He's so awesome - I love that kid...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Really - I LOVE this house. I love every little bit of it, I love that Jessie goes to bed every night with no hassles, just picks a book off her bookcase and reads herself to sleep. I love that Sammy sleeps all night in his own bed, just like a big boy. He chooses a book off his bookcase and we read to him until he dozes off.  Last night, I walked back to check on the three kids, and they were all sleeping peacefully in their own rooms and it was so lovely.  This doesn't seem like a big deal, when I write it, but you have to understand that in the old apartment, we just had Jessie's little bedroom off of the living room, so she would fight going to bed in there because she could still hear everything going on in the living room.  And since Sam was sleeping in my bed, I just used to let him doze off in the living room and then lug him into our bed.  It was like camping for three and a half years.  We were all together all the time - and it was wonderful.  I loved it while we were there, but am tickled pink at how much easier it is now that we have so much more space. 

I love that Julianna has a little seat in every room - she's become very Mommy centered, and I just tote her along wherever I happen to be and she bounces or bops or rolls around while I fold laundry or make the beds. I love the fireplace, the big picture window. I love cooking the kids breakfast in the mornings, going out in my jammies to drive Jess to school.  In the old place, I had the same appliance, the toaster oven, but only about a square foot of counter space, and had to take it down off a super high shelf every morning and wrestle space away from the coffee pot.  Now - it's just there, on the counter, ready and easy to access.  And with the garage, I could totally drive Jess to school barefoot and in my bathrobe because I don't have to go outside at all.  It's glorious.  In fact, right now, Sam is downstairs playing with the Wii and Julianna is down there hanging with him, chewing on her teething ring and cheering him on. 

Had a perfectly delightful weekend. Hosted a party on Saturday for Becky and Annie, had all my friends here. I've collected a group of friends that are just lovely - we all have kids the same age and it was so nice to have this big space to entertain them in.  Lit a fire, the kids ran around and played and the adults all hung out and drank wine and/or coffee.  And then on Sunday, Becky came over for the day, and held my girl so I could do yard work. Becky did a little raking, a little leaf blowing, and rocked my girl for her afternoon nap. We put Julianna in her walker on the deck for a while with the kids while we worked together, and then Marc took over raking and I started with the leaf blower. It's all done, the pile of leaves is amazingly huge.   Then last night, after all the kids went to bed, Marc and I got chinese food and he watched the game and I read a book :-).

Had Jessica's school conference this morning - and she's doing very well.  Well above average in reading, and slightly above average in math.  She's still reversing numbers and transposing them as well, and we're keeping a watchful eye on it.  It's still developmental at this point, which is code for "don't worry about it, she'll outgrow it," but if she's still doing it at the end of the second grade, they'd be concerned.  All in all, though, it was a very nice conference.  I really like her teacher, I think she does a great job of understanding Jess, and knowing all her little quirks. 

We had a situation last week, where Jessie got sent to the school guidance counselor.  She had been writing in her journal about the new house, and one sentence talks about how glad she is because she's got a basement to go when she needs to escape from Sam, which is great because now she won't have to kill herself.  She used the phrase once at home last week, and we immediately explained how that's not a phrase we use, that it's not an expression to throw around lightly and not to say it again.  But she must have used it at school earlier that day - and her teacher, while knowing that Jess is not a suicidal kid, but more an overly dramatic one, still had to follow protocol and ship her off for an immediate intervention.  Which was exactly the right thing to do - but the fact that I had to hear about it when Jessie just happened to remember to tell me was alarming.  So I followed up with her teacher, and with the guidance counselor - who both apologized for not letting me know - but after talking to Jess for a few minutes, they were able to immediately see that she wasn't actually talking about suicide.  They both confirmed that Jessie was absolutely fine, a happy, bright little girl, but apparently had a love/hate relationship with her brother and was exceptionally dramatic.  That's my girl - drama personified :-)  I wouldn't change a thing about her, and I'm extra glad that her teachers are sensitive and so great with her. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open letter to my children

That's really why I blog.  I do it because about twenty years ago, my mother found a journal that her mom had wrote in about her kids and was so incredibly moved by it.  Knowing how her mother felt about she and her siblings when they were kids was amazing for her, and I remember thinking that when I had kids, that's what I was going to do.  Only I wasn't going to do one little journal - I was going to write and write and write.  Plus I like writing.  A lot.  It's my therapy, my way of making sense of what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.  And even though I've had some problems with this blog, I'm not going to stop.  I flat out love this blog, I love looking back three years ago and seeing where I was, and how I was thinking about things.  I love that other people read it, I've found connections and relationships and major support (hello, JoEllen :-) when I needed it.  But at the heart of it, I blog for me, for my kids and for Marc. 

Jessica Mary - you are my angel girl, my first little love.  You were my baby - and I wanted to have a little girl just like you for the longest time.  You are brilliant and kind, funny and sweet.  Maternal and loving and emotional and dramatic, and so beautiful it still takes my breath away.  We have an intense relationship, there's nobody who can make me crazier than you, nobody who can bring me to tears faster.  I love you more than you'll ever know - and I'm so proud of you.

Samuel Earl - you are my baby boy, my love bug boy and the child I never planned on.  Not that you weren't a planned pregnancy, I just never thought I'd have a boy.  And from the very beginning - you just swept me away with your love and devotion.  I can't imagine how I ever started a morning without my Sammy-love.  You're stubborn, loving, sweeter than honey and everything that I never knew I needed so desperately in my life.  I love you more than you'll ever know - and I'm so proud of you.

Julianna Ruth - you have been such a joy, right from the very instant you were conceived.  I knew, right away with you - I started throwing up immediately.  My pregnancy with you was torturous, and you have been such an amazing addition to my life, I'd even consider doing it again.  You are all sunshine and happiness, big beautiful eyes and a smile that lights up the room.  I can't remember my life before you were in my arms - and thank God for you everyday.  I love you more than you'll ever know - and I'm so proud of you. 

And Marc - I wouldn't have any of this without you.  Not my brilliant girl, my lovebug boy, or my sunshiney baby.  I wouldn't have this beautiful home, this loving family -I wouldn't be the woman I am today without you by my side.  I don't know what I did in a past life to deserve you - to be loved as passionately, as sweetly - you know me inside and out and have never, ever made me feel anything other than completely cherished.  I love you more than you'll ever know - and I'm so proud of you and the family we've built together.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moved in - mostly

We're almost, completely and totally moved into the new house.  It's wonderful - I love it.  It's about fifteen hundred square feet, with a big backyard, a working fireplace, three bedrooms, ginormous dining room.  I'm about half way done unpacking and really, really liking it. 

Sam, after having shared a bedroom (and a bed) with me for the past four and a half years, transitioned to his own bed with no problems at all.  He's got a queen size bed in there, and a couple of times, he's called out to me in the middle of the night and I've just laid beside him for a few minutes to settle him back down.  But he's so happy with his very own bedroom.  And even though I know he's more than old enough, even though I'm mostly happy to have him in his own space - there's a part of me that just misses my baby boy.  He suddenly got big on me, and I'm not entirely used to it yet. 

Jessie's room is so pretty, so much bigger than her old one was.  I've got two twin beds in there, so Julie can just start sleeping in there when she's ready.  And until then, Jess is loving having the extra space.  She's got a huge walk in closet, and I finally got all of her clothes and Julianna's hung up today.  It's lunacy - I've got so many little girl clothes.  Jess has a ton of stuff, and I had to save a bunch of her really cute stuff for the baby girl. 

Julianna Ruth is getting so big.  So smiley and happy - she's smiling all the time, sitting up on her own, she's got her one tooth and very pleased with it.  She's eating more table foods now, playing with cheerios and pizza crust and french fries.   She's still nursing pretty much non-stop, averaging between 12 and 15 times a day, but she likes eating solids.  Really seems delighted whenever I give her something new, which is so cute.  She loves her johnny jump up, and has basically outgrown the bouncy seat.  She's getting scary close to being too big for the bumbo seat too - she's starting to arch her back to get out of it.  She's so sweet - and everyone seems to just adore her.  Annie, my mother, my mother in law, everyone thinks that they're her favorite, because she just lights up whenever anyone looks at her.  She's happy to go to anyone, as long as she can see me.  She loves her brother, loves her sisters - she's such a joy.  Really... She still won't nap at all unless she's being held, but she's a great sleeper at night (slept nine hours the night before last). 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Okay - I don't really like moving

I'm sitting here, completely barricaded by boxes.  They're piled up all over the place, packed, unpacked, my table is covered with dishes yet to be packed.  All around me, I see stuff I need to pack.  And/or throw away.  I've got a lot of junk.  I mean, I guess most people do, but it seems as though I have more than most.  I saved every piece of paper that came home in preschool and kindergarten for Jess.  And most of first grade.  I realized then that I was sort of a little over the top on the saving, and after that, only saved stuff that seemed extra cute - but now that we're moving, I'm perplexed... do I continue to save all of it?  Take the hour or so to sort thru and pick out the cute stuff and toss the rest? 

Jess is asleep in the living room (as her bedroom has been taken over entirely by boxes), and Julie is sound asleep in our room (my bestest going to bed kid - she's a breeze.  Crappy napper, but great nighttime sleeper).  Sam is playing in the bathroom sink.  And while I realize that playing in the sink might not be the best thing for him to be doing at 9:30 at night, I'm too tired to fight it.  I've been packing and packing and packing all day.  And when I wasn't packing, I was holding my teething, cranky six month old.  She's finally cutting her first tooth, and most unhappy about it.  She's also entering into that clingy, clingy stage (which, oddly enough, Sam is just now passing out of :-).  So I can only pack in short spurts before she starts wailing in desolation that I've moved more than three feet away from her. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I would post pictures, but unfortunately, my camera took a tumble when we were apple picking in September and I just got around to replacing it.  I've figured out how to snap pics but haven't figured out how to download yet.  But I have some cute pictures, and will post them soon :-).

Last year, we bought Sam a Batman costume and he flat out refused to wear it on Halloween.  So, logically, I told people that he was dressed as Bruce Wayne, in that he clearly WAS Batman, had the suit and everything but was pretending to just be a boy.  This year, he decided he wanted to be a SWAT team guy - so we bought that costume.  Crunch time came, and he was good with wearing it - but wanted nobody to be able to see it.  (sigh...) So we put the costume on, and then put a sweatshirt on over it, and when questioned, we said he was an UNDERCOVER SWAT team guy.  He had the bulletproof vest on under his clothes.  Maybe next year, he'll actually dress up and show people :-).

Jessica went thru several different incarnations - she was a rock star for a while, then decided to be a princess, a cheerleader and ended up at the last minute going with the fairy option.  We were stuck for a wand - and my brilliant girl grabbed a wooden spoon and her apron and claimed she was a kitchen fairy.  She'd spin around, point at the air and holler "BOOM - dishes done!"  I was so proud.  Granted - you couldn't tell what she was - because she was dressed in leggings and a purple shirt, with a little frilly purple skirt on under the apron, but she was so pleased with herself.

Julianna was just Julie.  I was going to try and trick or treat with her this year - and still think she would have been okay.  I have a sling, and a big cozy blanket - but we were going with Marc's cousins and his aunt took one look at me and said "You aren't planning on taking the baby out in this cold, are you?" and I quickly agreed that no, of course, it's far too cold out there for this girl, and spent the night hanging inside, nibbling candy, nursing and cooing at Julie with all of Marc's aunts :-). 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Patience - thy name is NOT Melissa

I try, I really do.  And mostly, I'm pretty good at it.  I think I'm patient with my kids, for the most part.  I think I'm endlessly patient with lots of other situations.  And I adore my husband more than anything in the whole wide world - but I'm so ready to move in.  I just want to MOVE.  Let's just pack a bag and move in right NOW.  We'll come back and get our stuff next weekend, when it's not Halloween and we can sucker people into helping - but the fact that the house is furnished (our landlord is leaving beds for everyone, plus a furnished living room and we've got the dining room table over there too) makes me feel like we could just spend a day or two moving our misc not heavy stuff over and be so happy. 

Julianna Ruth is finally cutting her first tooth.  I say finally because she's been teething hard for several weeks now - drool EVERYWHERE, fussy, awake a lot at night, etc.  She's only cutting one though - both Jess and Sam always seemed to get teeth in pairs, but it's just the bottom left one coming in right now :-).  So, so proud of her. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


So excited about moving.  I love moving.  I really do.  Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of lazy, so I don't enjoy all the work that goes along with it, but I like being in a new place, new neighborhood, etc.  I found a great table on the internet, someone in Webster (which isn't too far away) was selling an eight seater dining room table for only $150 - and she's even delivering it this morning to the new house.  Our current table seats six, which isn't even enough for just our family when Lilli and Sarah are over, let alone big enough when we have guests over.   I freecycled the stuff we're getting rid of (like a queen bed, and a microwave), and found someone who had a bunch of bubblewrap for wrapping dishes.  My mother brought over a bunch of boxes all ready, and I've got some more to pick up this weekend over at a friends house.  Now I just have to pack them :-)

As of this morning - we'll have the living room furnished, the dining room table, and we've already got beds there for all of us.  SO tempting just to start living there... but we have to pack up over here and get it all moved  out - so we're really looking at probably the first weekend in November as the official move in date.  Marc wants to get the girls' bedroom painted, and get better lighting down in the basement before we move in. 

All is well here - I love having Marc home, it's so much easier, contemplating this move, with him home to assist.  I know he'll have to go back to work, and I'm dreading it - especially because Sam is so loving having all this Daddy time.   The only problem, honestly, is that with two parents at home, the kid is getting really used to having his every need met, and has developed a tendency to just start screaming when he doesn't get his way.  Sam isn't really prone to temper tantrums, not the way that Jessie was (I think Jess has trouble sometimes channelling all of her emotions - she's always been really intense, and we've struggled with temper tantrums since she was a toddler) - so I'm confident that we'll be able to get thru this stage quickly.  It's just a matter of being consistent and not caving when he starts fussing.  Not fun, but doable. 

Jessie is having some issues at school.  She's still doing well, when she's tested, she's scoring in the "high above average" for reading and "above average" for math, but she's still reversing numbers and letters.  It's still developmental (which, as far as I can tell, means that I shouldn't worry about it), but I do.  It's having a detrimental effect on her self-esteem, she feels like she's not as smart because she keeps getting papers back with corrections all over them.  I'm meeting with her teacher tomorrow, and hopefully things will improve.  There's nothing in the world harder than watching your child struggle and I think I hate this stage way more than Jess does. 

Julianna is a heartbeat away from just taking off.  She's sitting up mostly on her own, still topples occasionally, but she's also standing up on her own (well, holding on with just her hands).  She seems to be light years faster at this than my other two, but I remember Sam was climbing everything in the world by the time he was seven months or so, and she'll be six months at the end of this week.  She's just so pretty and so sweet.  Such a good natured baby - she loves everyone and everything. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So sweet

I love having five kids.  Or three.  Depending on the day.  Today, I happened to have five.  We picked up all three girls from school and brought them back home for an hour and a half before they had to get dropped off for Hebrew School.  And they're all so cute together!  Sammy put on his new Halloween costume (a SWAT guy thing - consisting of a black full bodysuit and a hat with SWAT embroidered on it), and was busy protecting us from the bad guys lurking behind the couch, Sarah played with Julianna and Jessie and Lilli worked on homework together. 

My kids are so lucky to have each other...

Monday, October 18, 2010


I feel like I should title this "Moving - Part 1" because I'm certain that there will be many more posts on this topic before I'm all settled in.  I have a tiny apartment, in theory, there shouldn't be all that much to pack.  But in reality, I've got tons.  Just flat out tons of crap to move.  There's very little I'm really attached to, in fact, I'd love to just toss it all and start all over again.  The new house has a furnished living room and beds for everyone already in it - so there's a part of me that's just wishing that I could rent a huge dumpster and toss the contents of this apartment into it. 

The problem, as I see it, is that I have natural hording tendencies (that are born more out of laziness - it's easier to shove it into a closet than figure out how to get rid of it), and have passed them down to my children.  Both Jess and Sam hate getting rid of things, but Sam is by far the worst.  In fact, if I manage to convince Jess that it's okay to get rid of something, I then have to smuggle it out of the house before Sam catches on that we're getting rid of something. 

But I'm working slowly towards cleaning out everything - moving only that which I actually want/use to the new house.  I've cleaned out three closets so far, and assembled nine bags of clothes to go to Goodwill.  For some reason, I saved every single coat either of my older two children have worn, and some that they never wore.  I saved every last stitch of clothes that Sam has ever worn (I'm better at clearing out Jessie's old clothes, saving my favorites for Julianna and passing the rest along to Jordyn).  I went thru my dresser, and was ruthless.  If it was maternity and/or something I haven't worn in the past three years, I got rid of it.  Mostly. 

Kids are doing well - Jess is adjusting to second grade, it's a lot harder than first.  She's a really bright girl, which I think worked against her, she coasted thru kindergarten and first grade, and this teacher is really making sure that Jessie works up to her full potential.  Even though she's got a really full schedule, she seems to adjusting to it very well.  I, on the other hand, still miss her like mad when she's gone. 

Sam is home, and I still wonder if that's the right thing.  Sending him to preschool didn't feel right either, but I'm really hoping that this extra year home makes it easier for kindergarten and not harder.  He's so very stubborn, and he really, really doesn't like new things.  New routines, new places, new people... I wonder if pushing him this year would be a good idea.  I'm hoping that the old "attachment parenting" theory works - if I meet his needs for security now then he'll be all brave and bold and head off to the world of academia happily. 

Julianna - holy moly, that child is growing so fast.  She's already standing up, supporting herself by leaning on the table.  She's a heartbeat away from sitting up on her own.  Cooing and giggling and such a good baby.  She's not doing great with solids, still has a tendency to throw up whatever I give her, but she's such an accomplished nurser that I don't worry too much about it.  She's on the young side for solids anyway - she won't be six months until the end of the month. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday mornings

On Saturdays, Marc takes the four oldest kids to Hebrew School.  Julianna is still too little, and there's literally nowhere, with the exception of the front lobby, where I can sit and nurse her.  I'm as big a fan of nursing in public as there is, but I still feel vaguely uncomfortable whipping out my boob in front of teenage boys and little old men.  And there seems to be a lot of both of those two at the synagogue.  So Saturdays have become this quiet little island in time when it's just me and my baby girl - and I adore them. 

Yesterday, Jess was home sick with a cough.  I had a migraine, Julie had a slightly runny nose, Sam had a fever and Marc is still hacking and coughing.  None of us were hard core sick, but all of us were a little bit.  So we spent the whole day at home.  I live in this teeny, tiny apartment.  It's mainly just two rooms that have a big sliding door between them, my bedroom, Jessie's tiny bedroom and an itty bitty kitchen and bathroom. 

What I love most about this apartment is also what drives me crazy - the complete and utter lack of space.  Whatever we do, we're right on top of each other.  But on the upside - it's sometimes absolutely perfect.  We spent the whole day together, with no distractions and it was delightful.  Jess and Sam got into a couple little squabbles, but mostly, it was just really nice.  I love that my little family gets along so well.  There really is this unique chemistry when we're all together. 

The family I came from isn't quite as blissful, and I treasure this peace and tranquility so much more because of that.  Long hours, reading together, watching movies and cuddling - I hope that we're always as happy together as we are right now.  I know that they'll grow up, and spending a lazy afternoon bumming around the living room won't always be enough for them - but right now, it's perfect :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lots to talk about...

Hmmm - where to begin?  First, let me just state for the record that I'm now fighting for computer time with not just Marc, but also with Jessie and Sam, so forgive me if the blog posts are becoming a little less frequent :-).  Strangely, while I'm convinced that one television set is more than sufficient for our little family - I can see the argument for an additional computer. 

Everyone in my little family has some sort of cold.  Even my tiny Julianna is now sniffling and congested (which makes nursing a bit more complicated).  Jess woke up this morning, claiming she didn't feel good and wanted to stay home.  I sent her anyway, and Sam and Marc are both still sick, coughing and sneezing.  I, however, am a paragon of health, and I suspect that it's due in no small measure to the mere fact that I don't have time to get sick - there are too many other things I have to do.

Marc climbed Mt. Wachusett earlier this weekend with the four oldest kids.  I attempted it, but realized early on that I not only really didn't like hiking, but that Julianna would be much happier cuddled up the car, nursing.  So I waved goodbye, trekked back down the mountain solo and then sat in the car for a couple of hours.  Proving once again that it's always a good idea to bring a book, and with the sunshine heating up the car, a gentle breeze teasing the leaves - it was really the perfect way to spend an afternoon, with a sleeping baby at my breast, a bag of cookies and bottle of water and a really good book.  Marc has been working out like a madman ever since Julie was born and it totally paid off, because my oldest stepdaughter, Lilli, injured her foot up there, and Marc hiked all the way down the mountain with her on his back, piggyback style, and one hand holding Sam's hand so he didn't stumble.  Imagine hiking all the way down a MOUNTAIN with a good sized eleven year old on your back and only one hand available to hitch her up.   Very impressed.

And... we're moving.  When we moved to this apartment, three and half years ago, we had one kid and one baby.  It's tiny - adorable, yes, but TINY.  Jessie's bedroom is really small and Sam and Julie are both in our bedroom.  We have obviously outgrown it, but we loved it here.  It's a tiny little dead end street, surrounded by trees... but we're moving.  One of Marc's uncle's brothers is moving to FL and looking to rent his house and offered it to us.  It's a fantastic opportunity, same rent as what we're paying now, and we'll have a three bedroom house.  I'm beyond thrilled.  We're going to shoot for getting in there by November 15, but realistically, we won't do it until December 1.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guest Entry from Jessica

All about Me

This story is all about me.  Yes, that's right, me.  Jessica.  I am seven years old.  I live on Avalon Place, but not for long.  I'm moving to a new house soon.  I have two big sisters.  And a little one too.  And a little brother.  My biggest sister's name is Lilli.  She is eleven.  I have a baby sister, she is five months old.  And I have another older sister.  Her name is Sarah, she is nine.  My brother is four.  My dad is forty one and my mom is thirty six.  I like to read and play on the computer.  My favorite website is  I climbed Mt. Wachusett on October 10, 2010.  I had a blast going up, but it wasn't so fun going down.  I have an American Girl doll, she's Rebecca Rubin.  And she's Jewish, just like my dad's side.  But my mom's side is witches.  Me and my family have a blast together.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It goes by so fast

Everything with Julianna is bittersweet for me.  Because I know, on some level, that she's my last little baby.  I love having babies, and if Marc and I were younger, I think I'd have seventeen of them.  I'm 36 and Marc is 40, and if we wait until Julianna is three (which is really the age difference that I like the best), then I'm looking at a pregnancy at 40.  Julie's pregnancy was really tough, and I don't know that I want to do it again.   I know that it's early days still, and at this point with both Jessie and Sam, I wasn't anywhere near ready to even consider when I'd want another.  The difference was that I always wanted three kids - that was my magic number, so more and more, I think that Julianna is probably my last little baby.  I'm not saying absolutely - and Marc would have more in a heartbeat - so maybe I'll change my mind, but I don't think so.

So everything with Julie is tinged with this little bit of wistfulness.  She was laying on the couch, I was changing her diaper.  Which is one of my favorite times with Julie - because she LOVES being naked.  She chews on her toes and rolls around and smiles and giggles at me.  I was leaning over her, holding her head and kissing her sweet perfect little face, over and over again.  And I commented to Marc that it all goes by so fast, and she's the only one of my kids that I can just snuggle and kiss for as long as I want to now.  Because let's face it, while Jess and Sam are totally affectionate and loving, they won't let me just lean over them, holding their little faces and kissing the hell out of their cheeks.  Sam piped up that he would, so he came over and let me hold his face and kiss him.  I kept kissing his little forehead and cheeks until he finally protested... because he's too big for that.  He just is.  It changes.  I snuggled Jess to sleep last night, with her trying to push her extra icy feet onto my legs and we giggled and laughed and played... so it's not like it doesn't move into something as fun, it's not that I lose that affection and love and tenderness - but it's different. 

So I wallow in this stage with Julie - I hold her thru every nap, and walk around my house cooking dinner, doing laundry and getting drinks for the kids with one hand because she's on my hip 24/7.  Because I've learned that it doesn't last forever - and the day is going to come all too soon when she wiggles away from my kisses.  And on that day - I'm going to be grateful for every single second that I spent kissing her for as long as I could :-)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Big girl time...

With Jessica's new schedule - I've had to work hard at finding time with her.  Not just for she and I, but also to make a concerted effort to give her time alone with her daddy and with Julianna.  She gets a lot of time with Sam, just by virtue of the fact that he likes to be in her face all the time, but I know that she misses the time alone with her baby sister.  I've taken over driving her to school every morning and at least once a week, she and I head out to the library.  We wander for books, talk about things that went on that day, what my childhood was like, how it's different and how it's the same as her own life. 

I find it fascinating - so much of motherhood is just responding to various needs.  With a breastfeeding five month old and a four year old and a seven year old, much of my time is taken up in just caring for them.  I've always got dishes to do, I've always got laundry that needs to be washed and always got a load or two waiting to be folded.  And my kids are great, legitimately.  I genuinely enjoy hanging out with them - but Jess is morphing into not being just my baby girl, not just my little girl, but a person in her own right.  And I love it - she's smart and gorgeous and kind and loving.  She's just absolutely mind-blowingly exactly who I always wanted her to be - and I can't possibly express how incredibly proud I am of her, and how incredibly grateful I am for her in my life.

I've got a giggly girl :-)

Those babycenter e-mails telling you what milestones your child is supposed to be achieving are both fun and infuriating.  My e-mail told me two weeks ago that this girl should be chuckling away and I was perplexed and (just a tiny bit) worried.  Why, why wouldn't she laugh?  I tried everything, and finally got her to giggle yesterday for the first time.  I pretended to eat her.  That's what did it.  Then I accidentally burped at her, and she laughed at that as well :-). 

Julianna is really so much fun.  She's just a joy - she's so happy all the time.  She's still a crappy napper during the day, really only sleeping when she's nursing.  I've started feeding her, but noticed that she's spitting up a LOT more, so now am thinking that perhaps I should hold back a bit on that. 

Sam is doing well... the great unwashed is now what I'm calling him.  He needs a bath, and is flat out refusing.  I can (and have) forced this in the past, because after all, I'm a lot bigger than he is.  But he will literally scream until he vomits in the tub, and nobody really wins there.  So I'm trying to coax him into doing it, but if he doesn't do it willingly this afternoon, then I'm going to have to force it tonight.  Sigh... he's so mild mannered and chipper most of the time - but incredibly strong willed about certain things.  And personal cleanliness (or lack thereof) is one of them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anyone else wonder if we're doing this right?

I'm a work in progress as a mom.  I was pretty good from the get go, I'll admit it.  I'm the oldest of four (or six, depending on how you count step siblings) and I've got legions of cousins for whom I was the primo babysitter.  I've got ten nieces and nephews (nine of whom were born before I had Jessica).  I'm good with the basics.  I knew the mechanics.  But having one of my own, let alone three, is a whole different story. 

I worry that I spoil them too much, I also worry that I yell at them too much.  I worry that I give Jess too much responsibility, and then I worry that I baby her too much.  I worry that Sam gets away with murder and that Julianna will never settle into a normal nap routine.  I agonize over bribing Jess to do her homework while feeling secretly proud that I've figured out how to get it done without both of us dissolving into a sobbing mess. 

I think I'm good at this.  I think I'm a good mom.  I think I'm pretty good at trusting my instincts, balancing out what I know with what I feel, figuring out what they need versus what they want.  I struggle with paying attention to each one - making sure that each child feels loved and special and valued, while also teaching them that they aren't the center of the universe and sometimes, lots of times, you have to consider others' needs before your own. 

I'm feeling vaguely introspective tonight.  And tired - because Julianna has embraced teething with a vengence and has started waking up several times a night and fussing.  Adding in Jessie with a nightmare or two and I feel like I didn't get any sleep at all last night. 

All in all, though, things are well with my little family.  We're happy.  Dare I say, even peaceful.  Jess and Sam can still scream it out with a major battle, but in the end, they do like each other.  And they flat out worship Julie.  Nights for me are relaxing and calm.  And I'm never, never blind to the fact that it's an incredible blessing.  My family is safe and warm, well fed, and healthy.  Tonight - I'm grateful for the opportunity to wonder if I'm doing it all right, because I know, deep down inside, that what Marc and I have created, this family, it's so much better than I ever dreamed it could be. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I have an addiction

I'm not proud of it.  I know it's not right.  I know I should do better.  I know I'm setting a crappy example for my children, and possibly giving my five month old a serious addiction as well.  But I flat out need the coffee, all the time, and accidentally didn't finish my afternoon cup and can't keep my eyes open now.  It's not even nine o'clock and I'm exhausted. 

I start off the morning with a hot cup of coffee.  I don't even really taste the first cup, but by the time I pour the second one, I'm awake enough to really, really enjoy it.  Not too smoking hot, but hot, light, with two sugars.  Sometimes, if it's been a rough night or appears to be shaping up to a rough day, I'll have three cups in the morning.  And then mid-afternoon, I brew another pot.  At least one cup, sometimes two.  My outer limit is three cups in the morning, two in the afternoon. 

All is delightful in my world today - Marc decided that he would devote himself to heavy housecleaning as opposed to reading economics blogs.  The problem, as he explained it to me, is that he needs to do something during the day, and is fine with interspercing housework with serious intellectual study.  As this means that I don't have to do dishes, I'm all the way delighted.   We're sort of in a holding pattern, waiting to get the unemployment straightened out, waiting to find out what courses he can take and get paid for, etc.  So for now, it's just the Marc and Melissa show - and I really like it :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

This is just flat out fun

Having a five month old really just is a blast.  Julianna is just such a joy - she's sunshiney delighted most of the time, super easy to soothe if and when she does cry.  I've had no problems nursing for the past three months, we're just starting solids - and so far, that's just all the way fun as well.  I gave her rice cereal today for the first time, and she was literally cooing with joy in between spoonfuls.  She's still a nursing queen, and I'm not looking to wean, but she really does like solid food, so I'm trying to give it to her consistently.  She loves, loves, loves just about everyone, with special attention for her parents and brother and sisters.  At five months, she's mostly sleeping thru the night, sometimes waking once, sometimes twice to nurse and go right back out.  Napping is a bit more of a challenge, but that's my fault.  Sam was (and is) such an incredibly easy kid to get to sleep - and I was able to just nurse him to sleep as an infant, and slip out of the chair and he'd nap for hours in the middle of the living room.  Julianna seems to require quiet and calm, so I have to nurse her down, and wait until she's hard core asleep, and then gently lay her down in the bed and ease away quietly.  And even then, it's got to be mostly quiet in the house to keep her asleep.  With a husband at home (an extremely loud husband - his normal speaking voice is just loud) and a rambunctious four year old, keeping the house quiet for naps is next to impossible.... She's still pretty miserable in the car, but other than that - her life is pretty blissful. 

Jess is still doing great at school.  Second grade is a LOT harder than first, she's got more homework, and is graded much more harshly.  But so far, she still seems to be happy and content.   We're working on getting into a good schedule re: homework, and I'm not ashamed to say that I totally bribe her.  If she does her homework every night, without a fight, then on Saturday, I promised her a special trip, just she and I, down to the coffee shop down the street for hot cocoa. 

Still feel mostly okay about pulling Sam out of preschool.  He still gets to see Jordyn and Harrison a lot, and has started taking preschool Hebrew classes as well, on Saturdays, so he's in a vaguely classroom setting as well.  Mostly, he's just loving having his Daddy here.

Marc and I are still adjusting to him being home.  Long term, the plan is for him to go back to school starting in January, but for now, he's just hanging at home with me.  And it's, at times, a little tougher than I anticipated it would be.  Marc and I - we have such a strong marriage, legitimately, he's my best friend and I love spending all this time with him - but the man has a hard core computer addiction and can lose himself for hours in front of it, reading economics blogs and playing some odd warcraft game while the laundry and dishes pile up around him.   It's not that he thinks I should be doing the housework instead of him - I honestly believe that he just doesn't see it.  Somehow.  But I get bitchy and cranky when I'm cleaning and nursing and refereeing and he's lost in Paul Krugman's latest post.  When he was working fifty hours a week, I did 95% of the housework and probably 75-80% of the day to day child rearing.  But now he's home... and I'll be honest - I freaking hate doing dishes.  So I have to work on communicating without nagging and he has to work on paying more attention to the world around him.  He's happy to help out, he just doesn't think to unless I remind him.  Constantly.   We'll get it - and without question - I'd rather have him here than not, but it's at times a bit challenging.  Plus - I miss my unlimited computer access, I used to just pop on to check facebook or send a quick e-mail or update the blog, and it's rare now that I have the opportunity.  So if several days go by with no blog post... I'm still here, and will update as soon as I pry the computer away from him :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No touch time...

I've got a lot to be profoundly grateful for in my life.  Three healthy, happy children, a husband who's as attracted to me now as he was when we first met.  But sometimes... all this love is a little more than I can handle.  Does that make sense?  I know it's just a side effect of nursing an infant and having a sick boy (sinus infection - he starts the antibiotics today), and having a daughter who's adjusting to a LOT of time out in the world without Mommy (between school, Hebrew school and dance classes, Jess is gone the vast majority of her waking hours).   But sometimes... like last night, for example,  I feel just so overwhelmed sometimes - like everyone WANTS me desperately and I just want ten minutes alone. Alone, alone, alone.  With nobody touching me, nobody reaching up to be held, crying when I put her down, or begging for a drink,a snuggle, some attention. 

God, that sounds awful.  I know that. 

I have what I always dreamed of.  I had my kids late, by my standards.  Most people in my family had children very early, and I had just turned 29 when Jessica was born.  I wanted to be a mommy desperately - and feel incredibly ungrateful complaining about being loved too much now. 

So after a crying jag last night with my ever patient husband, we concluded that we had to institute a little "No Touch" time for me.  I literally never go out alone.  I always take someone with me, and mostly, I'm home with the kids and not going out anywhere.  But I'm going to make an effort, at least once a week, to leave the kids home with Marc and go out for coffee.  Alone.  Just to remember what's it's like to be Melissa. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

No more preschool for us

I made the decision this morning to pull him out entirely. Actually, I made the decision last week - but it took a while to get up the courage to actually declare it officially. I had to discuss it in exhaustive detail with Marc (more exhaustive on my part, because Marc takes the perfectly logical stance that if he's miserable there, we pull him, but it would be good for him to try it for a few full weeks to see if it gets better first), and agonize and debate it with myself. Am I crippling him socially if I don't send him? Am I condemning him to a lifetime of hiding behind my legs and refusing to talk to anyone? If I was a better mother, wouldn't I have managed to raise a child like everyone else's, one that waves goodbye bravely and heads off to preschool without a backwards glance?

But in the end - it just felt WRONG to make him go somewhere he didn't want to be. He's just four. That's SO little - and it goes by so fast. Why rush this? On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I drop Jess off at school at eight and don't see her until six thirty. And it's KILLING me to not see her. I miss her so much - and there's no need to push Sam out the door before he's ready. Give him another year at home - why not? It's not going to hurt him, not really. He has socialization opportunities, he's got four sisters. I've still got Harrison here two days a week, and Miss Jordyn comes to play all the time.

I think what it comes down to, for me, is that I trust Sam. I've learned that when he's ready to move from one stage to another, if I step back and let him do it on his time table, he does it with no problems. If I push it (like potty training, or weaning), it's an absolute disaster. So I'm going to hope that keeping him home this year, giving him a little more maturation time, will make kindergarten easier. I can teach him to write the alphabet and spell his name. He's polite, knows his manners, is very articulate and well spoken. He'll do fine in school, when he's ready to go. He's not ready right now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This is no way to live

Not that I'm actually saying that - because I'm pretty happy these days, but it's Jessie's new favorite phrase. Totally copying what I yell at Marc when I'm complaining about how messy the living room gets after Sam has been BUSY for a few hours.

My computer was riddled with viruses and I had no internet connection for a while. Which was sad and hard, and a little bit liberating too. But it's back, and I missed blogging the most. There were so many moments when I thought about how I wanted to write about a particular situation and then had to remember that I couldn't get on-line.

Much, much has been happening. Biggest news is that Marc is officially laid off, and I'm all sorts of stressed out about it. We've got the budget from hell for the next couple of weeks, until we start getting his unemployment checks, and even though I know six months from now, I'll barely remember this little blip, right now, I'm worrying about money big time. We've painstakingly clawed our way up to borderline financial security, and having that threatened scares me. But it's a temporary problem, and I know that. I also know that worrying about money never actually garners you more money - you are just as broke at the end of the worrying as you were when you started, and in my case, I usually end up with a killer stress migraine as well. So I'm trying hard to not lose control with the stress and the worrying - to remember that we're all healthy, happy, and have food to eat and a roof over our head. Also a lot of potential - because Marc is brilliant and smart, and this was a deliberate choice - Marc's company tried hard to keep him, offering him a different position, but he'd like to change careers (going into IT), and if we didn't take the risk now, when we'd have the cushion of unemployment for a while, we'd probably never do it.

Jess is doing really well with everything, school, Hebrew School and dance. The only hitch is that suddenly she's BUSY all the time. Monday thru Friday in school from eight until two thirty, Mondays and Wednesdays, she's got Hebrew School from four to six, and dance class on Thursdays from four to six as well. Adding in this being the first year that she's got actual homework each night - and it's a recipe for disaster with my girl. Major crying jags both Wednesday and Thursday nights, and as she said tearfully to Marc "this is just no way to live, Daddy." I'm adjusting her bedtime and trying hard to facilitate thing for her, but in the end, she's just going to have to adjust. I don't want to pull her from either activity - she really enjoys both, and she's got to get homework done as well.

Sam is NOT adjusting anywhere near as well to preschool. In fact, I've had him home all this week. Bottom line - he flat out doesn't like going. He's got a bad cold, and was legitimately sick on Tuesday and Wednesday. But Monday had been a disaster when I dropped him off, he was sobbing hysterically and desperate to leave with me. He's fine after I leave (I snuck back and peeked in the doorway after I left to make sure), but the process is hell on both of us. After talking to one of the teachers, I decided to keep him home for the rest of this week, and start going just three days a week. Hopefully it'll get better. In the end, though, I can't get behind dropping him off somewhere when he's screaming and begging me to not leave him there. He's four. He doesn't NEED preschool. Sure, it'd be nice, but if he's not ready, he's not ready. I'll force kindergarten on him, I'm not going to do it with preschool.

Julianna Ruth is just a joy. Seriously. She's a hard-core HAPPY baby. Loves to be held, loves to rock, loves to hang with her big brother and big sisters. Smiles everytime she catches my eyes, adores her daddy. She's just a blissful, happy, beautiful girl. I'm working on establishing a schedule for her, but haven't gotten very far. She's not great at napping during the day - or rather, she's awesome about napping as long as I'm willing to sit and hold her thru it. Other than that, just sunshine and happiness all the time. We're cautiously flirting with solids - she's had some bananas a couple of times, but I'm not doing anything serious about it. She's still little - and we've got all the time in the world to try solids.

Friday, September 10, 2010

still here...

Very busy, very stressed out... it's Rosh Hashana yesterday and today, so I've been doing a lot of family stuff. Still dealing with the aftermath from losing my grandfather, and the family dramas that go along with that...

Status updates...

- Sam is doing okay at preschool. The second day was much better than the first, but he still seems to be noticably unenthusiastic about going. I'm still conflicted about it, part of me thinks that I should keep sending him, part of me wants to pull him and keep him home safe with me. Obviously, everyone I know keeps reassuring me that it's wonderful he's going, so I'd face serious family/friend disapproval if I pulled him - but as anyone who's read this blog knows - I don't like sending my kids to school period, and would homeschool in a heartbeat were it not for the nagging suspicion that it's good for my kids to be out in the world, making friends, dealing with conflicts, and learning how to exist without me. I know for certain that I can teach him all that he needs to know academically at this point at home, but there's value to him just learning to trust himself and other adults, to know that his whole world is more than my lap. You know what I mean?? So we're going to keep trying and hope for the best, I guess.

- Jess is thriving in second grade. Seems to be totally happy there. She hates her gym teacher, really hates her music teacher, but loves her homeroom teacher and that's what matters.

- Jewish holidays - so the kids haven't been at school very much at all before this break. Sam only went two days, and while this is the second week for Jess, school started on a Wednesday for her, she went all three days, then hit Labor Day and then missed Thursday and Friday. Attending services with a four month old is kind of silly - even if you've got the best behaved baby in the entire world (which I do). So we stayed home today, Marc took Jess into the family service, but they should be home soon.

- Julie is AMAZING. Jess was a clingy baby, she didn't go easily to others but there was a select few that she's go to without a problem, and Sam was ultra-clingy, in that he didn't even like to be in the same room as a stranger, let alone let someone other than his mother hold him. So I'm perplexed by Julianna's willingness to coo and smile at everyone. She lets aunts hold her, grandparents, even the friend of a cousin, I looked around yesterday and some total stranger was holding her at Marc's aunts family party. She's relaxed, easy going, and happy. She absolutely knows that who her parents and siblings are, but appears to be delighted to hang with anyone. After Sam, to say I'm not used to this is a massive understatement. Is this what babies are supposed to do? She was super clingy with me last night, wouldn't let me put her down, and I felt reassured. She's napping a lot today, because she was up socializing all day yesterday.

- Very busy cleaning and trying to straighten everything out after hosting dinner here on Wednesday night. I was stressed out that day too - and just hummed stuff into my bedroom and shut the door, so now I've got to painstakingly sort thru everything, fold oceans of clean laundry and I just finally finished all the dishes.

- Apple picking on Sunday :-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nobody loves me like my Sammy loves me...

Today - he's went off to preschool, taking that first big, big step towards independence. And I'm a mess.

My girls love me, adore me, need me desperately - but Sam has always been on a different level. He came out of the womb with separation anxiety and it's not really a big exaggeration when I say that for the first two years of his life, if he wasn't with me, he was sobbing like his heart was broken. I joke with Marc that nobody loves me like Sammy loves me. Not with that same intensity, that same holy moly my life is complete now that you are here with me type of emotion. He nursed non-stop until he was almost four. All his life, he's been my buddy, my shadow, and I'm a complete wreck now that he's off at school without me.

I glued a smile on my face all morning, packed his bag, wrote him a little love note. I got him dressed and assured him that he'd LOVE preschool. He was going to have so many new friends, learn so many new things. It would be fun and exciting and he'd be so happy there. And it was just a short class, and Mommy would be right there to pick him up afterwards.

I dragged him out to the car, and lugged him over to where the other kids were lining up. And he didn't start crying until it was time to go off with his teacher. His teacher wanted the moms and dads to say goodbye before they left go from the library to the classroom, but Sam wasn't having any part of happily saying goodbye and going off with this stranger. So we decided that one parent would walk him to the classroom and say goodbye. Make the transition easier. In theory.

Thank goodness for Marc, because there's NO WAY I could have done it. Sam sobbed thru the whole thing. As did I. I held it together, smile glued to my face, until he disappeared thru the doors - but then I cried the whole way home.

I hate preschool.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Starting solids

I'm conflicted. As per usual... my mother claims it's the curse of being an Aquarian because we can see both sides of the argument, but I think I'm just indecisive :-). Arguments against starting are that she's just over four months old, she's my last little baby, and why am I rushing this? She's doing fine on breastmilk, she's huge for her age, compared to where Sam and Jess were at this age. I tend to err on the side of attachment parenting, I co-sleep, carry the kid everywhere, don't do CIO, etc - and following along with that trend would be to delay solids. Plus I really, really like the baby stage -I love looking at her and knowing that I'm completely responsible for all that health and vibrancy.

But... she's able to sit with support, holds her head up fine, has started waking up at night after sleeping thru for weeks. She's more and more interested in food, and I think it'd be fun. I want to expose her to new tastes and new textures. She's still nursing pretty much every hour during the day, sometimes an hour and a half, but she's nursing a LOT. I'm not looking to replace nursing sessions, but she's definitely added some lately, with the night waking and the lack of napping. I used to pump at least once a day, but I haven't had a chance to for the past week or so, because she's been nursing pretty much constantly. She's putting everything in her mouth.

Not sure yet, but I think she's ready. I can't come up with any reasons, other than my own selfishness in not wanting her to grow up. I'm not ready for her to start, not that I think she's not ready. And it's not a do or die decision, it's not like if I give her a spoonful of bananas then I can't continue nursing. God knows, I can and have nursed well into toddlerhood - Sam was closer to four than three when he finally stopped. And I started him on solids right around four and a half months. He ate everything, and it never affected the amount of nursing. However... Miss Jessica started on solids and finished up nursing by the time she was eight months old. Ahhh - here's where my hesitation is coming from (this is why I love writing, it helps me to figure out what I'm actually thinking). BUT - Jess was never a comfort nurser, she was a girl who loved her pacifier, and I think she just figured out that it was easier to eat solids then to nurse. Plus, I wasn't as experienced a nurser back then, I didn't know about continuing to offer, Jessie just seemed less and less interested, and I thought that I should respect that, and just switched her over to formula.

And what's the alternative? Never give her solids in hopes that she'll nurse forever? I want to nurse her until she's at least a year, and honestly would be happy if she'd stop closer to two. Giving her real food is clearly a step on the weaning road, and I'm not sure I want to get on that road too early. But weaning Sam was really hard - on both of us - and I was way ready to stop before he was. I don't want to nurse that long again either, at least not wishing that I wasn't. You know what I mean? Maybe I'll love nursing her when she's three and a half. I just don't want to hate it at the end.

I don't know... I guess I'll hold off for a while. See what happens. Until I can see definitely that one way is the right way - holding off until she's at least six months or older, or starting her, just experimenting with it, then I'll just exist in this odd state of being on the cusp of starting solids.

Friday, September 3, 2010

So cute...

Sammy and I were cleaning, and I found a quarter on the floor and gave it to him. He came up to me about ten minutes later and asked if I wanted heads or trash, because he was going to flip the coin. "Trash?" I said "It's not trash, honey, it's tails. Heads or tails." He looked at me like I was an idiot, and patiently explained that there was no tail on the coin, just a head on one side, and trash on the other. So I looked at the quarter, and it was the NH one, with the Old Man in the Mountain on it. And to the untrained, four year old eye, if you hold it sideways, it does look like a pile of trash.

I love the way the world looks to a four year old - it's so completely different.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

#325 that I'm a SAHM

I'm always grateful that we are able to make the decision to have me be home full time, and try hard not to mind the sacrifices, financially, that we make in order for us to do this. Like only having one car, living in a tiny apartment, doing without a lot of electronic toys and eating at home when I'd so much rather eat out. And on days like today, I'm especially grateful for it - because Julianna, who's really the textbook definition of an "easy baby" is having a day when she just wants to be in my arms. All day long. She fussed when Marc took her this morning, has sobbed like her heart was broken every time I've tried to put her down. She's napping only while nursing and just wants to be held all the time. It's days like this that I'm extra glad that I can just sit and be Julianna's mommy. Dishes can wait, laundry can be folded later, and really, why bother picking up the toys when they're only going to throw them back all over the place? Today, today, I'm just being Julianna's mommy, and that's perfect.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer 2010

It was a GOOD summer... some things that really stand out for me...

- the first week with Julianna - she was up just all the time, and I was SO tired. Then she flipped it around, and started sleeping thru the night at two weeks, and it's been smooth sailing, sleep wise, ever since.

- the realization that I'm a really good mom, I know what I'm doing, and it's perfectly okay for me not to bother with the crib, and she didn't need a boring carriage like everyone else. Slings, my pretty pram, and snuggled up next to me is perfect for my baby girl.

- the horrible, horrible start to nursing. From the nipple confusion to nursing strike to thrush to multiple fissures to staph infection to ringworm, nipple shields and tears - this girl made me WORK for a good nursing relationship. Which, in retrospect, and how much I wanted Sam to wean, really, really made me appreciate nursing. I won't ever take it for granted after that.

- long trips to Elm Park, long lazy walks with Julianna dozing in her beautiful pram and the kids picking flowers and Sam's favorite trees.

- the trip to Hampton Beach just before going to Maine - watching the kids play on the beach was one of my favorite memories.

- the trip to Rockport and Salem with Mandi, Becky, Aimee, and Mom. Julie was such a tiny baby, sleeping in her sling the whole time - it was so much fun.

- sending Jessica off to Hermit Island without me - she LOVED the independence and was so tanned and happy. I'm so glad that she'll have those great memories.

- spending a LOT of time alone with my Samilicious. He's starting preschool a week from today (sob) and I'm going to have such Sammy withdrawal.

- Becky's pregnancy - I'm so incredibly beyond thrilled that my favorite cousin is having a tiny baby girl. Becky's been my bestest friend forever, and there's little that makes me happier than the fact that my daughter will have her daughter to go with her thru life. I hope that they'll always be as close as Becky and I are.

- letting Jessie dance off to Honey Farms by herself. Really accepting that she's getting bigger, she's still my little girl, but I have to start letting her out into the world. It's her life, and I'm just lucky enough to give her a safe home base to explore from. I learned that extra hard this summer, as she ventured further and further without me.

- watching Sam develop into this loving, responsible older brother. He adores his baby, and he's so good with her. I'm so happy that she'll always have her big brother with her.

- realizing that Marc is just as capable of soothing my baby as I am. This is a switch, the other two kids - Jessie didn't really enjoy Marc until she was a two year old, and Sam was much closer to six or seven months. But right from the beginning, Julie loves her daddy. He puts her to bed most nights, spends every morning sitting with her and playing while we drink coffee and watch the news.

- knowing that this was one of the best summers of my life - happy kids, healthy kids, wonderful husband who's just as cool today as he was when we met.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Oh, I hate it. Just hate it. Both my kids are prone to temper tantrums, Jess more so than Sam, but they are both capable of a full blown freak out fit. And I've tried all sorts of ways of dealing with them (and Jess started with them when she was about a year old) and the best solution I've come up with (and I don't claim it's a solution at all, but simply what works best for me) is to sequester them somewhere safe and tell them to stay there until they get a grip.

Sam lost it yesterday, over something. Ironically, I can't remember what it was now... oh, yeah, his hair. Marc had cut his hair and then we had to rinse him off. He was furious about it, and screamed and jumped his way thru the bath. We were just literally hosing him off with the shower attachment, but he was incoherent with rage and fury. Mostly, he was just overtired, but that's no excuse. So I did it fast, and then pulled him out and took him into the living room. He was still raging, and then started kicking me. That's a zero tolerance thing here, an immediate time out was called for. So I scooped him up, lugged him into the dining room and put him on a chair. He's screaming and yelling, choking for breath - but he has to know that he cannot, under any circumstances, hit or kick me. So he's on the chair, and I walked into the kitchen, just to take a deep breath and I can still hear him, screaming my name. Finally, he chokes out "Mommy, if you don't answer me, then... I don't want you to be my mama anymore." And his little voice - you tell he was terrified at that prospect, but it was the worst thing he could think of to say to me... and it certainly did the trick, because my heart broke, just a little, in the way that it does when your kids say something like that to you. He stopped screaming, and had calmed down to just sobbing, so I went back into the dining room, had him apologize for kicking, and explained that he was stuck with me, and it didn't matter how mad he got, there wasn't anything he could do that would make me not be his mama. Then I scooped him up and snuggled with him. He fell asleep less than five minutes later...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'll miss you Grandpa, more than I can say

My grandfather's funeral is today - and this is the eulogy I wrote for him. I'm so sad today...

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that my grandmother had something to do with making this such a pretty day, the sky was so blue and the sunshine so bright - it gives me enormous comfort to think of how happy she must be to have him with her again. She's been missing him for a long time, and as much as it hurts today, I can smile a little knowing that they are together again.

My grandfather had close to fifty grandchildren and great grandchildren, and every one of us always, always felt so loved and cherished by him. When I talk with my cousins about their memories of Grandpa, everyone had something special that stood out for them... When Grandpa came to meet Tylor, the first great grandchild, he dressed up for the occasion. Everyone else was in jeans, but Grandpa wore his best, because he was so happy and so proud to have a great grandchild. Grandpa loved having the kids around - he loved it when we were all little and crawling all over him, and was even happier when our kids were doing it. When my brothers and I were younger, my grandfather took us hiking up Mt. Monadnock, and the best part was that he packed trail mix and kept telling us that we were really eating aborigine's ear lobes. Canoe rides and long hikes, exploring mountain paths and just hanging out on the porch, playing chess and talking. He used to take us over to the golf course, cutting thru the woods and avoiding the dreaded "black golf cart" with he and Jan. They spent hours pointing out the constellations to us. The number of times he brought out his telescope so we would could see first hand that the universe was so much more than we thought it was.

So many of us went camping all the time as kids - because my grandfather raised his kids to be outside, climbing trees, exploring the woods and spending as much as possible in the mountains. And our parents made sure that they did the same with us - I still can't let my kids sit inside on a nice day, and I know that comes from Grandpa. Grandpa spent as much time outside with us as possible, telling our mothers to let us run, climb the trees, splash in puddles and get as dirty as we could. I know it's from him that I got the sense that a grubby child is a happy one, playing in mud is a privilege of childhood. I remember long walks around the bog in Carlisle with Grandpa, with him pointing out the geese and telling us stories from his childhood.

He was brilliant and kind, devoted to family, he loved the outdoors, loved the mountains. He taught us about Carruth Shortcuts and that the journey was so much more important that the destination. He taught us about the wonders of warm buttered popcorn eaten like a bowl of cereal with milk. It sounds gross - but was really good, and I would never have known that without Grandpa. He seemed to have special names for each of us - Blueberry Eyes, or Porkchop. I don't think he ever called me by name - it was always Chicken. He was the smartest man I'd ever met, he knew everything it seemed. I remember loving watching Jeopardy with him - he knew all the answers, every time. He was never not in the middle of a book - I learned that from him. Long chess games, it was a major accomplishment when we'd beat him. Grandpa never let us get off easy, and he never lost without a serious fight. He kept Playboys in the backseat of his car - so every kid who went on a "Carruth Shortcut" with him (and we all did), got to be either horrified or fascinated by Grandpa's reading material - I think sometimes he kept them back there just to see the reaction. He used to take out his teeth, just to freak us out. There's nothing Grandpa liked more than getting a reaction from us - he used to pretend to be an incredibly offensive driver, swearing at other drivers on the road, calling them more and more creative names, just to make us yell at him. And the whistling - he could whistle the entire drive from Massachusetts to Vermont - and frequently did when we were in the car with him. He took us everywhere - when I think about my childhood, it's punctuated with trips with Grandpa - to the top of Cadillac Mountain, to Quincy Market, to every little hole in the wall museum in New England.

So much of who I am today, I can trace back to my grandfather. I remember when I was eight or nine, he got me a subscription for National Geographic Magazine, because he felt like my Sweet Valley High books weren't intellectually stimulating enough for his granddaughter. Grandpa made me love learning - I wanted to be just like him, as smart, as well read, I wanted to know everything just like him. He gave me so many books - there was nobody I liked showing my report cards as much as I liked showing them to Grandpa. Growing up in Maynard, I was always knows in relation to someone else, Mary's daughter, Jan's niece, Scott's older sister - but I was never prouder than when someone would say "Oh, you're Earl's granddaughter." Grandpa taught me about the Continental Divide, the difference between Republicans and Democrats, and taught me what it meant to love and be loved. I never felt anything other than cherished and loved as his granddaughter.

I hope to live the sort of life that he did - to have experienced a love that's as vibrant and as real today as it was when my grandmother died twenty six years ago, to raise a family that's as strong and as loving. To be able to travel, I know that he loved being able to see the world like that, and having Nancy beside him for that part of his life made it so much better for him. I'm crying today, not for my grandfather, because I know that he's in a better place and I know that he's at peace now. I know that he lived a long and wonderful life, that he raised his children with love and wonder and that his grandchildren and great grandchildren were raised the same way because of him. I hope for my children that my daughters are loved the way my grandfather loved my grandmother, and that my son grows up to be the kind of man that he was.