Friday, July 30, 2010

I love having three kids

There was this moment, after Jessica was born. She was an emergency c-section, and my pressure bottomed out, post-op. I remember that I couldn't hold her, because I couldn't stop the shaking and it was so awful, not being able to hold my baby that I just closed my eyes. In a very real sense, I sort of gave up for a few minutes. I don't mean that I lost the will to live or anything, but that I was so disoriented and felt so powerless without her that I pretty much consciously passed out. The doctors and nurses gave me some nice drugs - and most important, Marc brought Jessie over right beside me and I calmed down, the blood pressure came back up and all was well. The point of my story is that right from the very beginning - I had this colossal NEED for my baby. I didn't much see the point in breathing without having her.

They say that the bond isn't immediate with everyone, and I can attest to that. With Jessica it was. It just was - from the instant she was in the world, I needed her more than anything else. With Sam and with Julie, it took a little bit longer, but the need (because it's not just love - it's a visceral need) for them - it's just as strong.

I worried with each of them, the two children I had after Jessica, that I wouldn't love them enough. Sure, I'd like them and stuff, but love them? The way I did with Jessie? And even after having Sam, even after knowing that it was just as strong - I loved and needed him just the same way, I still worried when I had Julie. How could I possibly love her the way I loved my other two? How would it be possible to love that much, again?

I think with Julie - with the nursing strike on the fourth day - I really, really freaked out about it. I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to nurse her, that we wouldn't have that bond, that it wouldn't be the same. I was afraid not so much that I wouldn't love her - I knew by then that I would die for her, but that she wouldn't be as attached to me as the other kids were. That if I couldn't nurse her, if I could be replaced by anyone holding a bottle of formula - how would she even know that she was mine?

And I was wrong. Just flat out, totally, totally wrong. I love her, adore her, just as much as I do with Jessica and Sam and she is just as firmly attached to me. We were at a funeral today - and of course, everyone wanted to hold her. So I'd pass her to this cousin or that aunt, and she'd start to cry. They'd hand her back, she'd stop immediately. Someone else would ask for her, I'd give them a shot, but my girl wanted nothing to do with anyone. She was overwhelmed, confused and the only place she wanted to be was in my arms. Because she's my baby - and my babies don't like playing "pass the baby," my babies are legendary on both sides of our family for being incredibly bonded to me - and Julie is just as strongly attached, just as bonded as her brother and sister. And I couldn't be happier about it.

I love these three children. I don't know what I did in a past life, or what price I paid earlier in this life to earn these particular children, this particular man, this particular life, but I am so profoundly grateful, every day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I love this baby

We've been joking since Julianna was born that she has four basic expressions - confusion, indignation, indignant confusion and confused indignance. But I'm very happy to report that we can add another to the list - flat out delight. She's got a grin that just lights up her whole face and I laugh every time I see it, because it's so incredibly thrilled. I sit her up on my lap and she'll look around and around from side to side and then finally stop and lift her eyes up to meet mine and then she'll just smile with this look of utter delight and joy. It's amazing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I love my sisters. All of them. Mandi, my baby sister, who could not possibly be more different from me - and yet if I don't talk to her daily, I feel just a little bit off. My cousin Becky, my big sister. We grew up together, have seen each other thru everything and the person I think of when I hear the phrase "best friend." My stepsisters, Aimee and Karen. We didn't grow up together, I was so much older than they were, but as adults - we've found this closeness that I love and value more and more all the time.

And I can't tell you how incredibly happy I am to have two daughters - to be able to give each of them a sister. For Jessie to have a baby sister, for Julie to have her big sister. Jess is in the tub, singing to herself, as is her habit. And I'm tired and touched out and ready to sit and have a tall glass of iced tea, and have nobody on my lap. Sam's been asleep for a few hours again, and Julie has been nursing non-stop for the past three hours. I may exaggerate slightly, but it really does feel like she's been nursing constantly.

So I went in to wash Jessie's hair, and brought Julie's bouncy seat. I plopped it on the floor in the door way to the bathroom and washed her hair. Then I went to go get towels for her, and realized that my two girls were perfectly happy together. Jessie is singing to Julie, and Julie is cooing back at her. They already have that bond - and I couldn't be happier about it. Now I'm going to sit, sip my tea, and enjoy the silence :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thoughts on parenting...

I was accidentally watching Caillou this morning (actually, it was on the television because I was letting the boys watch tv longer than I normally do for a variety of reasons) and that little boy makes me insane. Putting that experience together with a couple of awesome essays I read earlier on babble ( and made me think about my own theories on parenting, what I've learned over the past seven and a half years. My beloved Jessica is exceptionally dramatic. This is fabulous, mostly. But not so much when she stubs her toe and screams like it's been sawed off with a knife. Not so much when she can't fold the towel to fit in her beach bag and has to throw herself on the bed and sob like someone has died. My son is very easy going, almost all the time, but exceptionally stubborn when he does have a tantrum - to the point where I mostly give in if he's really, really upset.

Caillou bugs me because he whines and complains and acts younger than he is, just because he's lazy and a wuss. Okay, I've said it. I like kids who try to do stuff, who don't pretend that they can't because it's fun to be babied. I like children who can play independently, "using their brains" is the phrase I use when I flick off the television and insist that they play. I never played baby dolls or cars with my kids - because they are perfectly capable of creating their own games. I encourage my seven year old to get her own clothes together, my four year old to get his own drinks. I want them to grow up. I love this stage, with little kids and babies but have no real desire to keep them this way (other than the wistful little moments when I want to freeze time and keep them like this forever).

But I also really hate making my kids unhappy. I hate it when I have to draw a line in the sand, have a battle of wills and win just because I'm bigger and I'm the parent. I know it's a necessary part of parenting, and hands down, it's the area I struggle with the most. How much am I accomodating their needs and how much am I letting them get away with stuff they shouldn't?

Does every parent always feel a least a little bit inadequate? I think I'm pretty good at this job, and the basic mechanics of it, those I've got down cold. I know how often to feed them, how much sleep they require. I know how to give a bath, how to entice a child to eat veggies. How to set limits, teach manners, and how to balance out free time versus structured time. But the other stuff... that's where I'm constantly questioning myself. Should I let Jess and Sam bicker or do I intercede? Should I try harder to get Julie on a routine, or continue to just let her day sort of flow according to her needs and mine? Where do you draw the line between protecting your kids and encouraging them to take risks and try new things?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random thoughts on the weekend

- Take out really does make my life so much easier. Given the option, I'd always rather have take out, over cooking at home or eating at the restaurant. I know it's the definition of lazy, but seriously - I adore it. Food delivered directly to your door - is there anything better?

- It's extra special nice when my kids really, really get along. The squabbling and bickering can get so tiresome and irritating, and when they actually forget that they are supposed to battle, and get along, it's so incredibly gratifying.

- When it's ninety degrees outside, birthday parties are just better when they're inside and air conditioned.

- There is nothing cuter than my favorite cousin, twenty two weeks pregnant. Just nothing cuter. I can't wait for Julianna's best friend to be born.

- Being the second wife never actually gets better. It gets easier, as the kids grow up, I get more used to the role, etc - but it still always has the potential to suck. Hard.

- Sometimes, when your little boy wakes up with a nightmare, and is inconsolably sobbing, and finally chokes out "I want DADDY!", your primary feeling will just be relief that it's not you who has to get up and sit with him for the next two hours. I do the vast majority of the nighttime parenting, partially because I nurse, but also because I think I'm just better at it. Sam is such a great sleeper, and almost never gets up - but was up Saturday from quarter of three until after five in the morning - and I got to sleep thru it. It was AWESOME.

- Going to the movies with my daughter is endlessly fun. Sometimes, it easy to forget that it was once just she and I - she was my only baby and my only focus. Now I've got three little lovelies to pay attention to, and while the love I feel for Jess has never diminished, the amount of time I was able to spend one on one dropped significantly, with the advent of her siblings and her starting school. I really, really enjoyed spending Sunday night taking her to see Ramona and Beezus.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I think I forget sometimes, just about how much sheer TIME I spend nursing. I nursed Sam for so long, my primary breastfeeding memories are still of nursing a preschooler, and that's fast and easy. Nursing a baby is so very different. Julie really is perfectly content to spend ALL of her time latched on. Sometimes nursing, sometimes dozing, sometimes actually sleeping, sometimes sipping occasionally while pondering whatever it is that she ponders. I don't think I did anything else really today. I mean, I did, obviously. I fed the kids, did some laundry, some dishes, cleaned Jessie's bedroom, vacuumed. But mostly, I just sat and nursed. On the upside - Grey's Anatomy is on three times a day on the Lifetime Channel, and I've been watching my way thru that. I read an article, where they asked three different doctors if moms should watch television while nursing and all three of them said no - it was prime bonding time and mothers should spend their time gazing lovingly into their child's eye. Not that I don't gaze lovingly - but all I could think was that none of those doctor's clearly were ever SAHM's who nursed an infant full time.

I'm kind of worn out today - touched out, frazzled and tired. I'm ordering take out for dinner, and Marc's at the gym. Jessie came home from camp, breezy and beautiful and thrilled with herself. Sam is overtired and I'm hoping he'll eat before passing out for the night and Julie, my little Julie bug, has been cooing at her big sister, I swear she misses her when she's gone all day, and is just now starting to fuss. Time to settle her down for a nap, hopefully, but other than a good nap this morning, the only sleeping she's done is at the breast. She bounces awake every time I lay her down.


Some mornings just are unpleasant. But I did what I'm constantly trying to teach my daughter NOT to do, and made sure that everyone was just as unhappy as I was this morning. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess, and I'm reminded of when Marc told me that Jess was me with no impulse control. The house is cluttered and messy, clean laundry is scattered all over the house waiting to be folded, everything is hot and sticky and Marc had piled a big bunch of paperwork all over the dining room table. Jessie couldn't find her bathing suit, and I lost my cup of coffee. Everything just piled up, one after another, until all I could do was just plead with the universe to let me go back to bed and start over again.

But, since going back to bed isn't an option, I'm doing my best to start again with a new cup of coffee (I'll find the old one eventually). I've got the kids' combo birthday party on Saturday, and then one of Marc's aunts is having a cookout in the afternoon. Sunday is probably a day when nothing will happen, as Marc has made plans to be with his friends for the bulk of the day, but I'm hoping to take Jess to see Ramona and Beezus that night.

All is well with the kids. Jess is really enjoying summer camp this year, she's growing up so fast. She's all tanned long legs and big eyes - her new hair cut makes her look so much older, somehow. Sam is bouncing around my bedroom right now, fighting the imaginary bad guys with Jordyn, and Miss Julianna is sound asleep on the couch. One thing I really like about her schedule is that she wakes up to eat and then goes back out for an hour, or sometimes two or three, first thing in the morning. It gives me time to get the dishes done, or the laundry, or to blog, in this instance.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

summer photos

He's so cute

Sam is in the living room, Julie is asleep on the couch (thank goodness - yesterday was a no nap day), and Jessie and Marc have already left for camp and work. And Sam's got his army guys and his fireman figurines out and he's in there chanting quietly to himself "Never give up, never give up, never give up..." It's an odd sort of song that he made up to sing while he plays with his guys - and I love it. I love the message it sends, I love that he emulates strong men who dedicate their lives to helping those who need it, and that he totally gets that the goal is to "never give up." Having a son is so freaking cool.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Ah - it starts again. I hate teething - I hate the idea that my kids are in pain and there's nothing to do but suffer thru it. Poor Julie is drooling all the time, chewing on her fists and having such a hard time sleeping. It's ten of two, and she just now fell asleep for her first good nap (she normally naps from around nine until eleven and then at least one more good nap in the afternoon, sometimes two). There are no teeth popping thru yet, but I know the signs. Jess and Sam both cut their teeth relatively early (Jess was five months, Sam was seven), and I'm fearing that Julie will be even earlier.

Which would be par for the course, since we've had more nursing battles, she and I, than I had with the other two combined. It would only make sense that we'd start the biting earlier as well. My breast infection seems to have cleared up, thanks to Dr. Marc. I'm using lotrimin ointment (yes, the same stuff used for athlete's foot and jock itch) and it worked better and faster than anything else I've tried. Julie is still showing signs of thrush, so I give her to nystatin whenever I happen to remember it, and just hope that it doesn't get bad again.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Jessie had chopped off part of her hair several weeks ago. Gave herself some odd bangs, actually she cut it down to the scalp, so she's now got some odd bangs, having grown out the crewcut. Her hair is silky and wavy - sometimes it curls, sometimes it's straight, but it's baby fine and so beautiful... My sister is much more organized or rigid about hair. She likes her hair done, perfectly, and after a week with her, Jessie came home convinced that only Auntie Mandi could make her hair look right, and any attempt on my part or on hers was bound to result in the poor kid looking like an idiot.

There was no talking her out of it (with curly hair myself, I learned early on that my hair has a mind of it's own, and any attempt on my part to influence it only results in frizz), and she was so upset about it, that I offered to go and get her hair cut. And since my hair is a disaster, I went ahead and got mine chopped off as well. I got about five inches cut off of mine, so now it's just above my shoulders and super, super curly. The hairdresser "shattered" it, which is similiar to layering it, but not as blunt. I guess. All I know is that he used a ton of product and my hair was so crunchy and stiff it was scary. It's much better today, but still super curly and far too short to bundle back into a messy bun the way it usually is. Jessie's hair is straight up adorable, her's is layered and cute.

In other news... Julie's eyes are turning almost a green. I've got hard core brown eyes, and so does Jessica. Julie and Sam both have my eye shape, but Sam's are a greyish, greenish brown and I think Julie is going to have the same thing :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hermit Island 2010

I survived another trip to Maine with the kids. My whole family is up there, my mother, two step sister, one sister and one cousin so I've got tons of help up there, but still found myself feeling stressed out and like I needed to clone myself in order to really care for the kids the way they needed to be cared for. Jess was FINE (see previous post), and there were only a couple of times when she demanded attention. And Sam really was better than he was last year, he's a kid who likes things the way they are, big changes throw him off a little. He wimpered himself to sleep on Wednesday night, looking for Marc and my heart broke a little bit listening to him. "I want Daddy..." in the littlest quiet voice. He was really pretty good, but when he gets really upset, he wasn't happy with anyone other than me, and that was difficult for everyone.

Julie is still at the stage where she's nursing pretty much non-stop. I think she's starting to teeth, because her fists are in her mouth a lot, and she's drooling more and more. (Sam suggested that we start calling her Droolie instead of Julie) But because Sam was so overtired and cranky, I felt like I spent most of Thursday nursing her, passing her off, trying to soothe Sam until Julie cranked back up with the wailing and then latching her back on. To the point where I started to suspect that maybe she was nursing so much just because it was the one time when she was guaranteed to be in my arms.

I'm very happy to be home :-)

Attachment Parenting Really Does Work

Even when you don't necessarily want it....

My sister and mother invited Jessica to go up camping with them this week. We've been camping forever at this one campground in Maine, it's right on the ocean, and most of my family goes up there. I'm not a camper, and neither is my cousin Becky, so for the past couple of years, we've been going up for half a week, and staying at my sister Aimee's house, which is about twenty minutes away.

Jessie left last Saturday, and I got up there on Wednesday afternoon. I've NEVER not had Jessie with me for more than one night. She's done the occasional sleepover, but only for one night, not ever for FOUR whole nights. And she was perfectly fine without me. She's LOVING it up there, I swear to God, she's taller. She's super confident, totally independent, and perfectly content up there. She didn't want to come back to sleep at my sister's house with me on Wednesday night, and didn't even consider coming home with me last night. We were joking that she may well just try to find another family when my sister comes home, so that she can just stay the whole summer up at Hermit Island ;-).

My kids are clingy. All three of them. They've all been renowned throughout the family as being especially attached to me, moreso than the average kid. And I indulge it, I rarely leave them, especially if they don't want me to go. I hold them all the time, nurse on demand, co-sleep, wear the baby. There have been times when even I think I'm crazy and too indulgent with the attachment, too quick to bring them along with me, and not force them to go off without me. But I can't stand to leave them crying, and have always felt like if they wanted to be with me that much, if possible, I let them.

And the results are... a beautiful, confident, independent seven year old, who's self reliant, perfectly behaved and so amazingly independent that Iwas totally taken aback. I expected her to cry and whine and fall apart once she saw me, to graft herself onto my leg and not ever want to leave. And it just didn't happen. She did sit on my lap, and she definitely missed me, but she didn't need me up there, and was more than happy to wave goodbye when I left and go back to enjoying her time at the beach. Everyone up there kept reassuring me that Jessica was the best behaved child up there, never whined, never fussed, was independent and happy and just an angel girl. She played well with everyone, could entertain herself just as easily alone.

I am so incredibly proud of her. So in awe of the girl that she's becoming - and just a tiny bit wistful... where did my baby go?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Moments I don't want to forget

Earlier tonight, Sam and I were watching a little television. I was reading and nursing Julie and Sam was stretched out on the floor in front of me. I asked him what he wanted to watch, and listed a couple of choices for him to pick from. He told me he wanted to think for a bit so I went back to my book. After a few minutes, I looked down to find him gazing contemplatively at me, so I asked if he had decided yet. And he said, in the sweetest little boy voice possible, "No, Mama, I just like looking at you."

I may just be the luckiest mommy in the world, to have been blessed with a Sammy boy like him.

Hermit Island girl

My oldest daughter is very feminine. Very traditionally feminine in a lot of ways. She's got a thing for babies, likes reading and coloring and dressing up and having her hair done in pretty styles. She's a girl who likes her creature comforts, she likes a soft clean bed, clean clothes, heat, etc. Which is why I'm fascinated to hear that she's LOVING life up in Maine this week. My family has been camping forever, and for the past twenty two years, we've been trekking three hours up to the Maine coast to camp for a week at a campground called Hermit Island. It's not precisely an island, more a peninsula, but it's got lots of beaches, lots of dirt, lots of bugs, and lots of deer. My parents have graduated to a camper (that's a real rite of passage in my family - getting a pop up camper) but my sister is still using a tent.

I don't like camping. I love, love, love the ocean, but also love being able to take a hot, clean shower at the end of the day. I like a good campfire, but prefer to sleep in a soft clean bed and go to the bathroom barefoot. Which is why I'm profoundly grateful that my sister Aimee bought a house about twenty minutes away from the campground and graciously lets me (and my pregnant cousin) stay there each year.

Jessica, for the first time ever, went up early. My mother and my sister went up yesterday and Jessie has been camping her little heart out. According to my mother, she's blissfully happy, thrilled to death, in the ocean all the time, bouncing around the island with a permagrin on her face. Fascinating. I would not have predicted this. In fact, the child I would have thought would love camping would be Sam, and he absolutely hates it. It's my Jessie Bug who's a camping girl, she's the one who lives all year for this one fabled week up at the ocean.

This is just part of what I like about parenting - you're constantly surprised at who your kids become :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Samilicious

I'm actually late in posting this - his birthday was last Tuesday. We had his first slumber party last night and he was blissfully happy the entire time. We invited his bestest friend Brian (he's seven and Sam worships him) and Harrison, got them water guns, pizza and a star wars movie and it was heaven for him.

At four years old, I can see the kind of man Sam will grow up to be, and he's going to be nothing short of amazing. He's so smart and funny and sweet, and utterly, completely a little boy. He's all guns and superheros - any sort of man in a helpful role sort of guy. So he loves policemen and firemen and army guys and superheros. He's embraced the "little brother" role and spends his time bugging his older sister. He's even started repeating everything she says - like he got a handbook somewhere on how to be the most irritating little brother ever and is just flipping thru the pages, trying out one tactic after another. But when they aren't fighting, he loves his big sister Jessie and is never happier than when she's loving him back. He's also all about being a "big brother," dropping down to get in Julie's face and coo "Hello baby girl" at her, frequently scaring the hell out her, because he'll be running around and see her and then bam, be in her face loving her. He gives me what we call "Sammy snuggles" every morning, crawling into my lap and snuggling right up against me. He still is very much a Daddy's boy, when Marc is here, he's the sun that my little boy orbits around. Sam's all high energy and he runs like a mad man, until he's tired, at which point, he lays down and sleeps. In so many ways, he's my easiest child. He rarely has temper tantrums, his emotions are easy to understand, he doesn't hold a grudge and he's sunshiney happy a lot. When he does get mad, he gets REALLY mad, and it can take a while for him to calm down. Time outs with Sam are not easy, he'll scream like a lunatic the whole time and then need a little settle down time afterward. He's stubborn and strong willed and very definite about what he wants and what he doesn't.

He's my love bug, my angel boy. He's my Samilicious - and I can't imagine what I'd do without him.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

selfish, selfish, selfish

I wish I was a better person sometimes. Well, all the time, I wish I was a better person, but sometimes it really strikes me that my life would be easier if I was less selfish, more giving. More able to put aside my own needs and focus entirely on everyone else's.

I'm a stay at home mom with three young children. I have a very busy husband with diabetes, and when he isn't working, he's working out. I spend what seems like all of my time either chained to a chair in the living room nursing Julianna or scurrying around like the wind, trying desperately to clean up the house. And sometimes, like last night, for example (and most of today, if I'm being honest), it just overwhelms me and I can't help feeling tired, touched out, worn out. Desperate for a quiet shower without anyone screaming for me. Dreaming of a full night's sleep and waking up when I've slept enough. Wishing for more help, more support, more ... of a lot of things. If I had more disposable income, I could hire a maid. If I had more time, I could get the house clean.

There are things about my life that are unchangable. I can't change the fact that Marc works fifty hours a week. I can't change the fact that he goes to the gym every other night. I can't change the fact that the kids make an ungodly mess pretty much all the time. And I'm not blind to the fact that I sound like an ungrateful brat, because my husband is working so hard to make a nice life for our family, and keep himself healthy for us. And I know full well the heartbreak of infertility, and how many women would kill to have my problems.

All that being said... I'm a little unhappy at the moment. Since this isn't my desired way of being, and it's up to me to change it, what can I do to make it better? The sleep and the shower - well, I'm probably not going to get those anytime soon. I want to be there for Julianna, I have no desire to sleep train her, and so that's a managable problem. And I'll get a shower, she might scream bloody murder while I'm in there, but I can deal with that.

Maybe I just need to get more organized. More structured. Set up some household chores, reasonable bedtimes, and clear expectations about the weekends. This is all managable. I just have to put systems in place to handle it. I'm going to ponder this for a while... Jessica is on her way up to Maine for the week, and I'll be following behind her on Wednesday with my cousin and the other two kids. While I'm up there, I'll figure out some new rules, new routines. I think if I get things a little more organized, a little more structured, maybe it'll be easier.

I'm also going to remind myself of what I'm constantly repeating to my little Jessie Bug Noodle. Happiness is a choice, and I have blessings beyond anything I ever dreamed of. A husband who cherishes me, three healthy children that I'm lucky enough to stay home and raise. I'm going to stop complaining and start being grateful for what I have :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Free Range Kids

This is my goal. I read a lot, and since becoming a parent, I read a lot of parenting books. There have been several that have really impacted me, but one that had a huge effect on the way I want to parent is Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. It's about not overprotecting your children, not hovering over every little decision, allowing them to play outside unsupervised. It's about raising your kids to not just believe that they are capable, but to actually be capable. Giving them freedom. In essence, that's what it's about. Giving your kids the chance to become self reliant.

She's got all kinds of statistics to back her up, hard evidence that the world today is as safe, if not safer, than it was when I was kid. Kids are almost never kidnapped by strangers, and teaching them to be afraid is the wrong lesson. People are basically good, I believe that, and after reading her book, I realized that I wanted my kids to believe that the world is a good place, and that strangers aren't dangerous and scary. I want them to feel confident and secure, and if I constantly hover over them, never letting them go out of my sight, they'll learn only that their safety is entirely dependent upon my presence.

So that's my goal - to let my kids experience a childhood filled with all those things that we think of when we remember the best of our own childhoods. Backyard campouts, playing outside for hours, ranging all over the neighborhood, walking home from school and to and from the library. Bike riding everywhere, just because we wanted to go. It's letting Jessie and Sam play outside without me there. It's letting Jessie walk to the store without me, trusting that she's smart and careful. I'm not good at letting go. I want to be, so I keep trying. Because I want them to be strong and capable and independent. I want them to feel safe and secure by themselves, not just when I'm with them. I want them to feel like they can do anything - and to know that they can. They won't know that unless I let them try. Unless I let them play outside by themselves, unless I let them out of my sight and let them run. Let them do the laundry, microwave their own food, go to the park without me (although I'm not brave enough for that one yet).

I struggle with it, right now, they're outside playing and I feel guilty that I'm not outside watching to make sure that nobody steals them. Jessie wants to walk down the street to the Honey Farms by herself and I'm almost ready to let her. She's walked ahead of me, by a lot, and done fine. Looked both ways, twice, on every cross road and was so pleased with herself as a result. I let Jessie hold Julianna - because I know that she's careful and I know that her sister is safe in her arms. As a result, Jessie is supremely confident around babies. Because I trusted her, taught her how to do it, and let her. That's the key. I let her. Which is good for Jessie and Julianna.

So I'm a free range parent. Mostly. Because it does sort of go against my natural instincts - which are to keep them safe, within my line of vision at all times. I love my kids and the thought of them being hurt or even worse, kidnapped, is so horrible to me. But I have to keep telling myself that the chance of that happening is so small, and that the price to be paid by never letting them learn how to be without me is really high. In order to let them grow up, I have to let them learn how to be without me. In the same way that I taught them to eat solids, and to walk, and how to write and read. I have to teach them how to be responsible and smart and then let them do that. Because if I never let them experience life without me, they'll grow up completely protected and coddled and be incapable of living their own lives. And I want these kids to have the amazing lives they deserve.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Of course, with a title like that, you might expect a more controversial post, but not so much. Simply that Julianna got her two month shots today, and has been asleep for the past two hours. Marc took her for the appt, because I've got extra kids here I was watching, plus he took the morning off to do it. I pumped breastmilk, and wanted him to get some quality time in with her. But still missed her like my arm had been severed when he drove away with my baby. He was gone for about an hour and she's been dozing in her car seat on the dining room table for the past two hours. I don't think I've gone this long without holding her. Ever. I keep telling myself to let her sleep, her body obviously needs it, but I'm missing having my baby girl in my arms, and will probably wake her very soon.

In other news... we're suffering thru a killer heat wave, and it's too hot to be outside. Sticky and gross out there, so I've got (let me count) six kids in my tiny apartment at the moment, not counting Julie. Three boys and three girls. But they're cool and playing well, and my living room is a disaster pretty much non stop anyway, so I shouldn't quibble with a little mess, right?

Off to the beach tomorrow, I think we're heading to NH. Julie's first glimpse of the ocean. The older two will have a wonderful time, but Julie and I will be hanging under the umbrella hoping for a breeze all day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How has being a mother changed you?

I stole the idea from Beth's blog ( When I read hers, it made me think of how much my life has changed and how much I've changed since having Jess seven and a half years ago. And how much Sam, and then Julie have influenced me, my choices, the way I handle things. I'm not the kind of mother I always thought I'd be, I'm both stricter and more relaxed than I anticipated, and my life has taken turns and changed me in ways I wouldn't have believed. I'm much more selfish now, about my time, my emotional energy. I feel like my kids, my marriage have supplanted so much of who I used to be. People I used to drop everything for either adjusted to the change, or dropped out of my life entirely.

I'm a lot more relaxed about parenting than I would have thought. Most of that is Sam, I think. I had to become that way, or I would have died of a heart attack before he was a year old. He'd crawl on top of everything, jump off of furniture, he was so much more physically assertive than Jessie was. I get angrier than I would have thought I would, sometimes Jessie's temper tantrums can push my buttons faster than I would have thought possible. I'm smug (hopefully just in my own head) about how smart and gorgeous and funny and kind my kids are. And mortified and embarassed by their behavior - in my own head, I feel like everything they do and say is a reflection on how I'm raising them. Intellectually, I know that their personalities are their own, and there's only so much of it that I can be blamed for or take the credit - but deep down inside, I think I have the ultimate ability to influence their behavior, and when they fight or scream or misbehave, I blame myself.

Jessie changed the way I interact with so many people. She was (and still is, along with her brother and sister and their dad) the most important thing to me. What's best for them became my litmus test when it came to making decisions. Not all the time, but most of the time. Jessie is the reason for that. Having her changed the way I dealt with the world. If I didn't make her the top priority, nobody else would. And she deserves that. Jessica made me selfish, made me protective of my time and emotional energy, Jessie taught me to say no to things/people who wanted me to drop everything and help them. She copies so much of my personality, she taught me to be aware of what I was saying and what I was doing, because she's learning how to be a woman by watching me.

Sam made me patient. Sam taught me to trust my kids, to give them space to figure things out. He taught me that by letting go a little bit, I give my kids the freedom to fall, to get up again and learn to do things. He forced me to relinquish control. He made me feel needed in a way that I hadn't been before, by nursing for three plus years, and defending that choice to everyone. Sam taught me, in a way that I couldn't have understood before having a son, how incredibly important his daddy was in raising him. Jess was and is a Mommy's girl, but Sam needs, wants and worships his dad in a way that's unique to him, and I'm forever grateful that Marc is the man that he is.

My Julie - my tiny baby girl. I'm more relaxed about her. I've learned enough to know that mothering is a lifestyle, that every little choice isn't that critical. That's it's okay to trust my instincts, it's okay to throw out the advice and rules about parenting - it's perfectly okay to not have a crib for her, to wear her, to nurse on demand. She's so much easier, in so many ways. She doesn't have the health problems that Sam did, with reflux and colic. She's not my first baby, so I feel like I know what I'm doing now. I'm enjoying her babyhood so much. I'd say that Julie is teaching me to live in the moment - to enjoy every second of it.

I've learned that pacifiers can be a lifesaver, that nursing is something that's so incredibly worth fighting for. I've learned that cosleeping is the only way to go. I've learned that there's nothing more important than reading to your kids, and that making them hate you is sometimes necessary. I've learned that it goes by so fast, and that this is a time in my life that I'll never get back. There will be time for all the things that I'm NOT doing now, time for college classes and lots of grown up girl time, time for sleeping late and morning sex. There will, please God, be a time when my living room will stay clean for more than ten minutes at a time. I've learned that a marriage is more than falling in love, it's a hard, hard thing to do sometimes, but so incredibly worth it. That having a partner in life, not just for parenting, but for everything, makes it so much easier. I've learned independence, I've learned about strength and about tenderness and hugs and kisses and so much joy and love.

I wouldn't trade the last seven years for anything - and thank God for them every day. And if I'm very, very lucky, I'll have another eighteen years or so of raising these kids, and then I'll get some gorgeous grandchildren. And every minute that I'm not out having grown up girl time, morning sex, or taking college classes, I'll spend with them :-)

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Yes, I'm channeling various Grey's Anatomy characters. I've been watching that while I nurse and/or pump because I can't really hold the hard cover books I've been reading lately easily while holding the baby or the the pump. I'm also considering renaming this blog - "The on-going saga of trying desperately to nurse my third child."

Let me just recap - I started out FINE. She latched on well, everything worked perfectly. Until the third day, when she randomly stopped nursing. Because we were dealing with jaundice, I had been told to nurse her non-stop, and after eight hours of her not nursing at all, I was a hysterical mess and ended up giving her formula. That Sunday remains the day that will live in infamy for me, and for really, anyone who saw me that day, because I cried. All.Day.Long. It was awful, I was devastated at the prospect of not nursing, felt like a miserable failure of a mother, sure that my baby girl wouldn't love me the way the other two did. But we soldiered on, I got some nipple shields, she figured out that she had to nurse or not eat, and we did okay.

Less than a week later, I think, I realized that she had thrush. Then I got thrush. The medication the pediatrican prescribed worked for her, but not for me, and nursing (on the left side) became incredibly painful. So I got an rx for diflucan. Cleared it up, and it seemed to be pretty good, at least on the really painful side, so I figured it would be okay.

Only then I ended up with a crack in my nipple. I thought it was thrush coming back, so I went into see the doctor, and he said 'nope, that's just a crack, suck it up.' So I did. Back to the nipple shield, lansinoh, and pumping. Three weeks later, it wasn't improving at all, and back to the doctor we went. Only now, I've got multiple fissures, and a staph infection. So I started on an antibiotic, and kept using the shield and pumping.

This morning, I woke up with a yeast infection - caused by the med for the staph infection, caused by the crack that was caused by the thrush. And this time, the doctor I called told me that I'd have to stop nursing for 24 hours because the diflucan isn't good for the baby. Since I've taken it before and not had that warning, I went to the internet to see what I could find about it, and after reading the symptoms of thrush, realized that I've probably got it back on that one nipple. The dryness, flakiness, redness, extreme pain... And I'm just floored. Seriously? Thrush? A-freaking-gain? Are you kidding me? This is now just ridiculous. Just to review - she's just over two months and I've been rollercoastering from nursing strike, to thrush, to cracked nipple, to numerous cracks, to staph infection, to yeast infection and back full circle to thrush. I'm so not even a little bit amused.

But on the upside - at least she's fully breastfed, right?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

always surprising

How messy a living room can get in so short an amount of time. I keep trying to tell myself that I've got a very little living space with a lot of children - and it's natural and normal that it should be messy. That it's more important to spend time cuddling my baby girl, or playing trucks with my boy child, or reading to my big girl than to worry about whether or not the Uno cards are scattered all over the floor. But the problem with that is that a messy house makes me crazy. If I could have a maid who scurried along behind the children cleaning in their wake, then my life would be blissful.

But alas, there's just me. So the obvious solutions are to either resign myself to being that maid, teach the children to clean up after themselves, or get used to living in a pigsty. I vacuum frequently, and the dishes and laundry are done several times a day (folding and putting away is another story). But there are toys every freaking where, and that's despite having cleared out a whole bunch.

In other news... other than living in squalor, my little family is healthy and happy and content. Jess is finishing up her first week at summer camp - she gets swimming lessons twice daily, art classes, Israeli culture classes and apparently, they make her climb a ladder periodically for reasons that she can't explain to me. Sam got brand new Justice League underwear today - which is great, because he's developed the habit of taking off his underwear everytime he goes to the bathroom. So, if I want to keep him dressed, I almost have to go thru three or four pairs of underwear daily. I exaggerate a little, but not much, because he tosses them into the corner of the bathroom or hides them under the couch, and I'm not sure if they're clean or dirty and when it doubt, I just get him a new pair. And since I wash clothes all the time, but rarely fold and put them away, he's always got lots buried in the laundry basket and not sitting in his dresser waiting for him. So six new pairs in the rotation will definitely help. We've made a deal - he has to wear at least underwear when there are other people here. When it's just us, he can run around naked. This is a good compromise - he'd rather be naked non-stop and I'd rather he be dressed all the time. Julianna was not in the mood to sleep last night, just wide awake at eleven o'clock, so we sat up and watched Grey's Anatomy reruns again. She's such a little love, all cooing and smiling and sweetness.

My staph infection and "multiple fissures of the nipple" are not doing well. I'm going on my second month of dealing with this, it started at the beginning of June (May having been taken up with a nursing strike followed a week later with thrush). I'm taking my medicine, using the lansinoh, and it still hurts unbelievably. I really think I'm going to just always have to have the shield and/or pump on that side. The other side is doing great, nursing is pain free, and thank goodness, I've had no problems with supply - Julianna is growing like a little weed, she's so big :-)