Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nursing a toddler

First, my disclaimer.  I'm a big fan of nursing.  Big.  In fact, when Julianna went on a nursing strike at three days old, it was one of the worst days of my life.  Postpartum hormones combined with no sleep made it impossible for me to grasp that not nursing her didn't mean that I was the worst mother in the entire world.  I believed so strongly that nursing my baby was not only what was best for her, but also that it was the most important thing in the world.  I distinctly remember thinking that we'd never be able to bond if I couldn't nurse her, that I wouldn't be able to have the same relationship with her if I wasn't able to nurture her the way I did my other two children.  And nursing Julianna, in the beginning, was utter hell.  After the nursing strike, we ended up with nipple shields, which transitioned into thrush.  I ended up with "multiple fissures" on the nipples, and a kick ass staph infection to boot.  I WORKED at nursing this child.

And to add to that disclaimer - I nursed Sam until he was three and a half.  Longer, he was close to four before he finally stopped nursing.  I can do toddler nursing.  I just don't want to, very much, not anymore.

Maybe it's just a bad morning.  Julianna had a rough night's sleep last night, and since we cosleep, that means that I had a rough night as well.  I'm working at transitioning Sammy into his own bed, and it works some of the time, but last night, he was in there as well, and he had a bad dream during the one two to three hour stretch that Jules did sleep.  So I'm tired, and headachy and not really in the mood.  But I know that after nursing Julianna all morning, from roughly four thirty until I finally got up out of bed around seven, when she started clawing at my shirt to nurse at seven thirty - I was really reluctant to do it.

I believe in nursing as long as the kid wants to nurse.  I believe that when you meet a need, then they can outgrow the need easily.  And I'll be honest, there are definitely times when I'm grateful that I can still stop a crying fit in seconds, that putting her to sleep is so easy and I even still appreciate the bonding and closeness of knowing that only I can provide something that suits her so perfectly, and makes her feel so safe and loved and happy.

Weaning Sam was awful, it was part of Julianna's pregnancy, which is still such a hard time for me to think back about.  I had a rough pregnancy to begin with, with the itching and the nausea, and there was a ton of really ugly family drama (my extended family, not my immediate one) going on then as well, but having a screaming three year old begging me to nurse on already sore breasts that were no longer producing milk definitely added another negative layer to that time in my life.

I dread weaning Julianna.  I know she's not ready, and I suppose I'm not really ready yet either.  She's still so little, and I'm not ready for her to be a big girl yet.  But I can see myself getting there, and I just hope and pray that her weaning is peaceful and easy, no tears, on either of our part :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

A typical afternoon at my house

Marc brings all the kids home from school at quarter of three.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and every other Thursday, Jess has either Hebrew School or Brownies, but today is Friday, so they're all home.  Plus Jordyn is here because my friend Sara had to work until three.  Jessie came in, hysterical, because she had left her book at school and was going to have no book to read all weekend.  Because I could easily relate to that, I drove her back to pick it up.

I got home, and Julianna was still sleeping.  Sam and Jordyn had opened their bags of Halloween candy and had spread out a blanket in front of the television, where they were watching "A Charlie Brown Halloween."  Jessie made popcorn, I made coffee and we all talked and hung out for about an hour.  Sara came and picked up Jordyn, we talked about the weather reporting up to fifteen inches of snow (!!!) on Saturday night.  Julianna woke up and I began to think about making dinner.

I made homemade chicken nuggets, rice and broccoli.  I don't much like cooking and kind of bailed in the middle and Marc finished up.  Julianna nursed three times during the afternoon, off and on.   The kids and I ate dinner, Marc went downstairs to work out, Jessie disappeared into my bedroom where she could watch the Disney Channel unmolested by little brothers and sisters.  Sam has stacked blocks, doll highchairs and pillows onto the couch, for reason that make sense only to him.  He's now busily engaged with throwing plastic packages of diapers (we bought a new box of diapers yesterday and he opened the box and is using the two wrapped packages of diapers for toys) and then hurling himself onto them.  When questioned, he explained that he was practicing "Capture the Ghost," a game that he either made up or learned in gym today.  Julianna has taken all of the cups out of the cabinet and spent fifteen minutes rearranging them to her specification.  It would appear as though she just tossed them, wily nily all over the kitchen, but she put a lot of time and effort into it.

My house, which was actually really clean around two thirty (because Julianna took a good nap and Marc was at the school helping with the Halloween party, so I had a lot of time alone), now looks like a bomb hit it. Actually several small bombs, because there are small pockets of cleanliness.  The kitchen is mostly clean, except for the aforementioned cups and bowls all over the floor and under the table.  And the dining room looks great.  The living room... well, lets just not mention the living room, okay??

Because sometimes, Julie just wants Mama

I just send Marc into the school to volunteer with set up for the Bookfair tonight.  I had signed up originally and should be the one doing it, but I've been without my Julie girl a lot this week, and I miss her.  More to the point, I think she misses me.  And when she wakes up, she would have been heartbroken to discover that I was gone - so I stayed here.

With Sam, and with Jessie to a lesser extent, I was absolutely primary in their lives.  Sam liked nobody else, and Jessie was okay with other people, but really only thrilled to betsy with me.  But Julianna is so much more social and interactive.  Yesterday, my friend Sara came in and Julianna offered her a potato chip.  Which isn't really earth shattering or anything - but it took Julie noticing that she was there, liking her, knowing that Sara likes a chip, and thinking to offer it.  All of which was new to me, because Sam, to this day, wouldn't acknowledge that an adult had entered the room.  Jessie probably would have smiled at her, but been too shy to offer.  Whereas Julie was just confident that Sara would of course welcome the offer of a chip, they had shared chips in the past, and didn't hesitate to be friendly.

I forget sometimes that she is still so little, and so needy.  She still needs her mama.  She is happier when I'm around.   Thank goodness that I'm able to stay home with her, I'd really hate leaving her every day....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An oldest child raising her children

I've been thinking a lot, of late, about the baggage we bring to motherhood.  About the lessons we learn about childhood and responsibility and growing up, and how that translates to the way we mother our own children.  I had, by many standards, an absolutely wonderful childhood.  I had a warm, loving relationship with my mother, a fabulous grandfather, a close knit group of aunts and uncles and cousins watching out for me.  I had a roof over my head, food on my table - and while we were never even close to wealthy, we were not so poor that I did without what I needed.

But there's another perspective - and that's the one that I struggle with sometimes.  My father had left early on in my childhood, and because I was the oldest, and so close to my mother, I definitely felt the lack of that additional parent.  I grew up early, and assumed a lot of responsibility.  I had a tremendously close relationship with my mother, and while it was (and is) wonderful on so many levels, I don't necessarily want to give my own daughter that much responsibility.  It didn't work for me, not entirely.  I have an unbelievably crappy relationship with some of my siblings now, and I think a big part of that can be traced back to our childhood.

So I'm conflicted - especially with Jessica.  I want for her to be protected from too much responsibility too soon, and I think I overdo it sometimes.  I also think that I don't give her enough responsibility - and that she fights for control and respect more than she needs to - simply because there's a part of me that wants to shield her from having to grow up too fast.  I'm realizing that a lot of our biggest battles boil down to power - who is going to be the one in charge of her life, and when I ease back a little, when I give her as much control as I can (within reason), her stress level is noticeably lower.

Last night - she didn't want to go to bed.  Which is not unusual - she's a lot like me and doesn't fall asleep easily.  Sam is more like Marc and just announces he's tired, lays down and sleeps.  Jessie has always required more - I need to ease her into sleep, and she fights it all the time.  As an infant, Jessie would cry before bed, and it broke my heart, she'd be sobbing in my arms, so tired and just refused to sleep.  So the bedtime battle wasn't unusual, or even unexpected - but this time, instead of demanding that she go to sleep, I just gently explained that her body needed rest, and she needed to lay down and let her body relax.  She could read or listen to music or sleep, it was up to her.  And once I gave her that power, the fight went out of her immediately, she was asleep within minutes.

I don't have any answers - and I'm pretty sure that I'm always going to be a little unsure if I'm giving her enough or too much responsibility.  But I do know that being aware of my own baggage, being aware of my own desire to protect her might be overwhelming her need to assert her own personality, being aware of that can only help me to make the decisions based on what's best for her, at that moment.  I want to give her more room - so that she doesn't have to fight quite so hard to get it from me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I hate fruit snacks, sick Jessie, and holy moly - she's actually walking!!!

Marc took my Samilicious Boy shopping yesterday.  Marc loves quality time alone with a kid, any kid, so he's always game to bribe them into going shopping with him by letting them pick out a treat at the grocery store.  And my son, God bless him, always, always wants those disgusting sticky fruit things.  Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-ups, Fruit Gushers.  He LOVES them.  But the problem is that once they're in the house, it's all he can think about.  They went shopping last night, and he's already had three sobbing temper tantrums because we refuse to let him eat the entire box.  Sam is oddly easy going about most things - but there are some things that just capture his little mind and he can't be distracted or dissuaded.  I'm reminded of the art class debacle.  Having decided that art is bad, throwing a huge fit and screaming like he's being tortured is the only reasonable response.  And knowing that there's a big ole box of craptastic fruit treats in the cabinet is the only thing he can possibly think about.  There is no distracting him - and I can guarantee that until the box is gone, he'll ask for one every ten or fifteen minutes until eventually, I'll just scream - "EAT THEM ALL - DO IT NOW - AND I'M NEVER EVER BUYING THEM AGAIN!!!" and I'll throw the box at him.  I'd like to pretend that I'll stay all tough and firm - but in the end, he'll win, because he's way more stubborn than I am.   

Jess was home sick yesterday.  Actually sick, which is a rarity here.  Usually, she's pretending to be sick to get out of doing stuff - or actually, I don't think she's consciously pretending - I think she doesn't like going to school or Hebrew or dance (likes being there, just doesn't like going), and tricks herself into feeling sick to get out of it.  But yesterday, she was actually sick.   Spent all day in bed.   And as much as I recognize that having a sick child is bad - I was happy that she was in bed and being sick.  She wasn't just playing me, she really didn't feel good and spent the whole day in bed.  I felt very good mother-ish, and even made her chicken soup and brought it to her on a tray.  It was a dream come true for her, a whole day spent alone with the Disney Channel.

Julianna is actually walking.  For real, this time.  I know I've been saying for a while that she's on the verge of it, but she's really doing it.  She isn't walking for long stretches - it's not like she's walking from the living room down to the bedroom or anything.  But she's on her feet more often than not - and she's absolutely delighted with herself about it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Volume II

1.  On Wednesday (aka The Day Sam Lost His Mind Because of Art), after I dragged him out of the car, and passed him off to two teachers, who then dragged him into class, the school got Jessica out of class and had her come and soothe him.  As awful as that morning was - I was so happy that Sammy knew that his big sister would make him feel safe and that she was capable and ready to step into that role.  I have a whole bunch of issues, personally, around being the oldest of many children, but it was more gratifying than I would have imagined to see my daughter step up to the plate and calm her brother down when none of the adults around him could do it.

2.  Julianna is moving ever closer to being a walker.  She's standing more and more, taking a step or two at a time.  It may have taken a lot longer than I expected it would, but she's a glorious walking girl, and I'm very proud.

3.  And in keeping with the kudos to Jessie theme - we kept the kids home today.  It's a Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah, and we went to the synagogue.  There are some holidays where it's a no brainer to keep them home, like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but Marc and I have traditionally gone the celebration at night and skipped the daytime services.  This year, I stayed home with Sam and Julianna, and Marc went with Sarah and Jessie, and then we all went today during the day.  (and by "all,"  I mean, the three kids, Marc and I - Lisa sent Lilli and Sarah to school).  Anyway... Jessie arranged with her teacher to hand in her homework a day late and even asked if she could take her spelling test on Monday as opposed to missing it altogether. VERY adult of my third grader...

4.  My sister is moving!  She'll still be about twenty minutes away, but she's getting a place with one of my favorite cousins.  I lived with my cousin for eight years, before Marc and I met, and have the best memories... I'm very happy for her.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smooth sailing this morning

Which again begs the question - what is it about the art class that freaks my child out?  He was angelic this morning.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Poor little boy...

Sam doesn't like art.  There.  I've said it.  He doesn't like coloring.  Can't stand painting.  Just flat out hates art class.  It's been an issue for a while, with frequent references to "I hope tomorrow isn't art class..." as he drifts off to sleep.  I've been very tricky about it, specifically not finding out which day he has it (plausible deniability, we call that) so that I could always answer, "it's probably not, don't worry about it, now go to sleep..."  But in the end, he figured out that on Jessie's library day, he also had art.  And today is Jessica's library day.

After the first week of school, Sam has basically been blissful about going to school.  Not always delighted about it, but never crying or seriously objecting... but this morning, he started off saying he didn't want to go.  He didn't eat his breakfast, and kept repeating he didn't want to go.  He didn't like art, today was art day, and he wasn't going.  I gave him a little extra attention, a hug and made sure that he was wearing his favorite hoody. Got him down into the van, we all drove to school and at the last minute, he flat out refused to leave the van.

Jessie hopped out, and rushed into school, and we pulled the van out of the drop off lane and parked it.  I unbuckled, and got out.  Sam, at this point, had unbuckled as well, and scrambled way into the back of the minivan and was huddled in a fetal position on the opposite side of Julianna's huge car seat.  I've got the kindergarten aide out there with me, trying to coax him out, and I'm crawling into the van, hauling my five year old.  He's screaming and yelling, the aide is still trying to convince him that it's a GOOD idea to go, and I'm grimly trying to wrestle him out without hurting him.  I finally get him out of the van, and the school secretary rushes out to help haul him into school.  I ask if I should stay - because this is KILLING me to make him go - but I KNOW I have to go.  I know he'll calm down faster if I leave, but.... then the poor little guy starts screaming "JESSIE - I WANT JESSIE!!!!" over and over again, and the teacher and secretary can't understand him, so I holler to the other teacher who was coming to help "JESSIE COHEN - SHE'S IN THIRD GRADE, MRS. RING'S CLASS - GO GET JESSIE!"

I called when I got home, and Karen the secretary, assured me that he calmed down once I left and Jessica got there.  They were hugging each other and she said he was fine.  The school adjustment counselor was with him and it was okay.  I'm still a wreck.  I know he has to go to school.  I believe that.  I believe that if I gave into him, he'd learn that he doesn't have to do what he doesn't want to go, he's got to go to school.  I know that.  Giving into him is not the right answer - but it's so hard to force him to go when he really doesn't want to.  And it begs the question - what is it about art that freaks him out???

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Success, at last

My mother has a lovely habit of taking grandchildren out for special one on one time.  And Sam has steadfastly refused, from infancy, to go.  Ever.  And since quality fun, one on one time with Grammy is rarely achieved by dragging a kicking and screaming kid into the car, she's never been able to do that with him.  She's got twelve grandchildren, and the one kid who never got any alone time with her was Sam.

But now that he's going to school - I suggested that she pick him early from school and take him out for lunch.  It officially marks his first ever going out alone with Grammy.  I'm ridiculously pleased by this - as is she.  Sam was pleased that he was going to get early dismissal and ice cream.

There's something magical about watching my mother and my children interact.  I think because we are so close, my mother and I have always been each other's best friend, I love watching her interact with my kids.  There's an amazing physical resemblence between all of them.  I know that I look like her, and they look like me, so I'm the obvious link, but when I look at my daughters and my son with my mother, I just see that they have the same eyes and the same smile.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sukkah party

We had our first annual sukkah party this weekend.  Unfortunately, it was so cold that everyone pretty much ate at our dining room table, as opposed to outside in the sukkah.  What I like most about Sukkot, as a holiday, is that it's really like you build a little Jewish clubhouse, decorate it up, and hang out in it for a week.  In theory, you're supposed to be eating all of your meals in there, and even sleeping in there, if you're so inclined.  We were not that inclined.  In fact, I think we've only managed one or two meals, but it's mid-October in New England, and not precisely the best weather to be dining outside.  In fact, with the pouring rain and wind, one of our new ways of celebrating Sukkot is to watch out the window to see if the thing was actually going to blow away.  Thanks to some serious PVC glue, it's stayed standing so far.  It was Marc's first time building a sukkah, and it has been remarkably resilient.

In other news - Julianna is almost sort of walking.  Maybe.  If your definition is extremely generous.  She's standing more and more without holding onto furniture, and occasionally taking a step or two.  Given that she'll be a year and a half in two weeks, I'm just all the way thrilled.  She's so cute, she's all about being a "big" kid, she wants so badly to keep up with her older brother and sister.  God help us if we get just Sam some breakfast and not serve her the same thing.  Whatever we're doing for one of them, be it brushing hair, or helping with shoes, etc - Julianna insists on being included.

We also had my stepdaughter Sarah spend the night on Saturday night.  Having done this stepparent thing for a while now, I'm becoming more and more aware of how it changes.  The relationships ebb and flow, sometimes they love being here, sometimes they hate it.  Sometimes one of them will decide she wants to be here all the time, sometimes they want to be together and sometimes separate.  Lately, we've had a lot of time with Sarah and it's been lovely.  We still see Lilli, but the older she gets, the more she's carving out her own identity, and part of that is breaking away from the little kid thing we have going on here at the house.  She still loves us, I know, but we don't see her as often :-(.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Sam is exceptionally private.  For those of you who know Sam, this will come as no surprise to you.  Because I'm not a really private person (case in point, I've been blogging for the past couple of years), it does frequently come as a surprise to me.  Jess isn't all that private either, and Marc, God love him, would like nothing more than to share every last detail with everyone.

But it strikes me that at some point, Sam is going to find out about this blog, and probably read it, and be flat out horrified at the information that I've been sharing about him.   Last night, the poor little guy was sick and we were having a party.  I went out to the living room, and commented that Sam had thrown up, and I was putting him to bed.  He cried for ten minutes because he didn't want anyone to know that he had thrown up - and I felt like I had betrayed him by telling everyone.  I can only imagine what would happen ten years from now if one of his friends stumbles onto this blog and teases him about nursing for three and a half years...

This blog is pretty important to me.  I've fought for it, the right to write whatever I wanted.  There was, and is, probably, some pretty serious animosity towards me because I have blogged about personal matters among various members of my extended family.  And I pushed thru that, because this is my story.  Mine.  The hitch that I'm running into is that the story of me raising my children is also inevitably going to be a story that also belongs to my children.  And while I think that Jessica would be delighted to read this blog years from now, I'm not positive that Sam would appreciate having the rest of his childhood put out there for the world to see.  I can't tell what Julianna would say, but either way, I don't feel good about having my blog be so easily identifiable as about Sam Cohen when Sam Cohen is becoming so very private and aware of wanting to not share details of his life.

So I'm going to be moving the blog over to a private address.  I'm not going to make it public, exactly.  I'm still trying to decide how public to be with it - but probably what I'll do is come up with another name for it and then move the whole thing over to the new address.  Because I don't want to lose the last couple of years of blog posts.  I also don't want to lose any readers - so if you'd like me to e-mail you the new address, please send me an e-mail at

It'll probably take me a day or two to come up with a title (how does one go about naming a blog something private yet catchy?).  If anyone has any ideas, or comments or thoughts - feel free to either e-mail me or comment on the blog.  I love feedback :-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Favorite Things

So I'm trying a new thing... each Friday, I'll post favorite moments from the past week.   In no particular order...

1.  Wednesday night, we had dinner in the Sukkah.  Marc built us a little hut outside, and Friday night, we bundled up in hoodies and had beans and hot dogs outside.  It was lovely, peaceful and sweet.  Jessie brought out her spelling words, Sammy chatted about how much fun school had been, Julianna ate her beans and hot dogs and babbled along with us.  There's something magical about the five of us together, and I never take that for granted.

2.  On Wednesdays, I cover Jessica's library class.  Sam's teacher lets me pull him out of class each Wednesday so he can come and be my helper.  I love that we get that little break in the middle of the week together.  He's doing so well in class, I'm so proud of how he's adjusted.

3.  There's a whole bunch of third graders out there that still refer to me as "Mrs. Jessica's Mom."

4.  Last night, we did two sheets of Mad Libs that Jess brought home from school.  And it turns out that Marc really does still have the sense of humor of a toddler.  Or no, it's actually more like a ten year old boy.  He kept  using completely inappropriate words (madlibs are supposed to be inappropriate, right?), like "penis," "toilet" and "booby."  It was ridiculous, and the kids were thrilled.  But the best part for me was that Marc was absolutely delighted by this - it's like some part of him just didn't mature past early adolescence.

5.  We play "Find the Sukkah" in the car these days - which is similiar to "Find the Christmas Lights" when you drive around and yell excitedly when you see them.  Only sukkahs are mostly in people's backyards and not all that pretty... but either way, I've been playing it in the car on the way home from school with the kids, and my stepdaughter Sarah really gets into it.  She's so much fun to play it with.  The older she gets, the more I like her :-)

6.  Jessie is actually reading at night in her room.  She's been on a reading strike, as of late, and it's making me insane (which is why she's doing it, I'm sure).  She actually took Hop on Pop out of the school library on Wednesday.  But the past two nights, she's been snuggling up with a real chapter book before bed, which thrills me.

7.  Julianna is now really, really into brushing her teeth.  She loves it, and is so enthusiastic about, she'd do it three or four times a day if we'd let her.

8.  I just sent Marc to the store with instructions to get me something lovely.  And he will.  Enthusiastically.  I like that :-)

9.  My sister, this morning, sounded happier than I've heard her in a long time.  Joy is contagious.

10.  My niece Abigail Bridgett, is officially a crawling girl.  Mere weeks away from being a toddling girl, as she's pretty enthusiastic about walking along when someone is holding her hands.  I can't wait to see Julie and Abby running down the hall together giggling, and this is a major step in that direction.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Okay - I'm kind of ready for her to walk

I like the crawling stage.  I do.   I enjoy the early, early toddler stage - where they're just starting to walk, just starting to talk.  Everyone has ages that they seem to prefer, and I really like the first year or so.  I mean, I love my kids always, but my favorite age has always been the first year to year and a half.

So I don't mind that Julianna is an exceptionally late walker.  I didn't mind when her younger cousins started walking and then running before she did.  She can stand on her own, balancing fine for extended periods of time.  And she's been reliably cruising along furniture for a long time now.  But she's definitely not walking.   Defiantly not walking.   Because I truly believe that she could walk, but she's adamant that she won't.

But all of her peers are walking.  I went to the library with her yesterday, which I do fairly often.  And Julianna has always loved bopping around the library.  She crawls all over the place, following along behind me, chipper as can be.  And yesterday, we went to the library, and she helped me return the books, putting them into the bins and then we crawled (she crawled, I sauntered) thru the new books, and over to the fiction section, down past the teens and into the children's room.  We picked out books and started to make our slow way back to the front of the library to check out.   We saw another toddler, who was, go figure, toddling.  Julianna was thrilled - she loves people in general, and was perfectly content to sit and chat with the little girl.  They showed each other their dresses and Julianna showed off her new sneakers.  All of this was done with grunting and pointing, as neither kid was actually talking, but they communicated really well.  The other mother dragged the kid away eventually, and then another mom wandered by with her two boys - and they were commenting about why that little girl (my little girl) wasn't walking yet.  They were actually laughing at her, because she was crawling and not walking yet.

It turns out that the little girl she was playing with was fifteen months old.  Julie is almost eighteen months.

I'm not freaking out about it, because I know damn well that kids meet their milestones on their own schedule.  Sam was a comparatively early walker, he was walking by the time he was thirteen months.  Jessie took her first steps at eleven months, but didn't reliably walk until she was right around this age.  But Julie is steadfast about not walking.  Determined not to - and it appears to be a decision that she's made, she's not walking and that's it.  She's crawling, and if we gently encourage her, she gets either mad or sad, and has on more than one occasion, when someone has hinted that perhaps she'd like to say, walk over to Mama instead of crawling, laid her little head down on the floor and moaned for sympathy.

I know I'll miss my crawling girl - but right now, I'm thinking that I'd like a little toddling monkey.  I'm ready - and I know that she is.  If I could just somehow convince her of that....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Because it's impossible for me to get a pic with all three smiling at once

I've resigned myself to a lifetime of pictures where only two thirds (at most) of my children are smiling and looking at the camera.  You'd think with a digital camera, I'd have a better chance of it, but nope - I have lots of duplicates of the three of them, in the same pose with different ones looking at the camera...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sukkah building and apple picking, oh my

We're embarking on our third of four Jewish holidays that fall, boom, boom, boom after one another in early fall.  First we had the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, and the Yom Kippur.   Now we're starting on Sukkot and we'll finish up with Simchat Torah.  Sukkot is a cool holiday - we build a little hut outside, to remind us of what it was like when the Israelites wandered in the desert.  Very nature based and kid oriented.   This was our first year building one, and I'm not entirely sure that it's kosher, but it's pretty.  Added bonus is that the birds and squirrels are DELIGHTED that we have built a little hut for them, and have spent most of the past two days out there exploring it.

We also did our annual apple picking trip this weekend.  I had been waiting and waiting to go, hoping that Miss Julianna would start really walking, but alas, she's still mostly a crawling girl.  She'll walk, accidentally, if she forgets that she can't do it.  But mostly she just staggers along furniture and crawls if there's nothing to hang onto.  The apple picking was, as per usual, a lot of fun.  Julie sat in the carriage and ate many, many apples, the girls chased butterflies and Sam was instructed on how to pick the apples nicely so as to not hurt his friend, the tree.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Years Resolutions

It's the Jewish New Year - or actually, it was the Jewish New Year last week, but I'm just now getting around to resolutions.  As a convert Judaism, each year I have to relearn what each holiday is really about.  Because each year, it seems to mean a little something different to me.  This year, I'm very focused on resolutions - about thinking about the kind of person I want to me, the ways in which I failed to live up to what I should have been in the past year, and the opportunities going forward to make the world, my world, a better place.  I'm a 37 year old woman, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a stepmother, a stepdaughter, a sister, step-sister, aunt and niece.  My life is made up of relationships, and at this stage of my life, it's really more dominated by my relationships rather than my own identity.  Which is okay, as long as I don't lose sight of the fact that there is more to me than how I relate to other people.

So I'm thinking about how I could have been a better daughter, a better friend, a better wife, a better mother.  Ways in which I want to change.  I want to be more patient, more present.  All the way around.  I have a tendency to multi-task, like most moms, and unfortunately, I tend to multi-task all the time.  Which isn't great, in terms of being able to actually pay attention to the child in front of me, or the husband trying to tell me something or the mother on the phone.  It's great in terms of getting stuff done, because I get a lot of stuff done, but for this year, I'm going to try and focus less on getting stuff done and more on paying attention to what's right in front of me.

Another resolution that I've been working on, and hope to continue to improve with, is not apologizing for the clutter.  I have three small kids, two stepdaughters, a husband, friends who are in and out of my house.  My house is always a mess.  Always.  Looking around the room now, I can see a thousand things I'd like to sweep thru and pick up, and it's never not like that.  But you know what?  I've got a family, and a life, and my house will never NOT look "lived in."  And that's okay.  It's not filthy.  It's not unhealthily dirty, it's vacuumed and swept and mopped, but I'm never not going to have shoes scattered everywhere, baby dolls willy nilly all over the place and blocks galore.  Well, not never, but not for the foreseeable future, thank goodness :-).  I never go to someone's house and think to myself  "my God, what a disaster, you'd think she'd clean a little..."  And if that's what people are thinking when they come to my house, well, then, I sincerely hope they keep it to themselves or that they just don't visit anymore.    

Friday, October 7, 2011

I left, and she cried until she vomited

I feel kind of like I'm in a relatively new stage of my life.  With two kids in school and a toddler (who STILL stubbornly refuses to toddle) at home, my life is very different than it was when I had a kindergartner and a toddler at home, or a second grader, a preschooler still at home and an infant... I was more home based then.  I didn't volunteer much with the school, I was a stay at home mom with very small children.  Especially because for all of Sam's life, I've had an extra kid or two here with him, because I was babysitting for Jordyn and Harrison.  My days revolved around naptime.

But now - I've both my big kids out of the house during the day.  And Marc is still home during the days, so I've also got someone here all day who loves my baby as much as I do.  Added bonus is that Julianna adores her daddy, so I've been feeling very ... free.  I've volunteered for a LOT at the school, because I've got three kids at the elementary school, Jessie, Sam and my stepdaughter Sarah.  Which means, if I volunteer for one class, I feel obligated to volunteer for all three of them.

Today, I had two library classes to cover.  I left for the first one and came back about an hour later.  When I left, Julianna was sitting on the floor and she started to fuss as I left, but I knew she was fine.  She's a daddy's girl, it was before her nap time, and I knew she'd be fine.  I didn't worry about it.  With Jessie and especially with Sam, I was always reluctant to leave them.  But I really thought Julie would be fine.

When I got home, she was curled up asleep, in just a diaper, up against Marc and under a blanket, and he said that she had cried so hard, she threw up all over herself.  I felt... like the worst mother in the world.  The fact that she had been that upset broke my heart, and picked her little naked self up and brought her into the bedroom, snuggled her until she drifted back off.  The whole rest of the day, every time I left, I dragged her along with me.  She came to pick the kids up, to drop off at Brownies, to pick up at Brownies and to drop Sarah off at home.

I had been so cavalier about how easy it is now - because she is such an easy baby.  Because she is so relaxed and happy with her daddy and so very social.  But she still needs her mama - and yesterday I realized that all over again.

Julianna is such a different kind of baby from the other two.   One of the obvious things you shouldn't do, with more than one child, is to compare, and I know that, but do it all the time.  Julie is just so much more social than either of the other two.  Especially Sam, but even Jessie was relatively timid with strangers.  We were waiting at pick up at the Brownies yesterday, and Julie started a conversation, with hand gestures and grunts, with a total stranger.  She showed her the socks on her feet, and then pointed to her shirt and then her pants.  Waited after each one until the woman commented appreciatively, and then moved onto the next item.  She kissed Marc's friend Mike before going to bed last night.  It was only last year that I could get Sam to talk to Mike when he was over.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bedtime Battles

Confession time here - I'm crap about putting my kids to bed.  I like to cuddle them to bed.  I just do.  I nursed Sam until he was almost three and a half, and Jessie liked me to sing and read her to sleep.  I just never got in the habit of shoving then into bed, flicking out the lights and dancing out into the living room for grownup time.  But I'm working on it - because at eight years old, my daughter has developed a serious aversion to falling asleep.

Mornings have been impossible with Jessie lately, because she's so overtired.  Yesterday, we had a long conversation about ways that we could improve, and since her health teacher (God bless her health teacher) had recently done a class on how much sleep the average third grader should get (which is at least ten hours), Jessie was completely on board with the fact that she needed to go to bed and get more sleep.  We decided that if she slept from 9:00-7:00, that would be a solid ten hours and life would be lovely.  We also agreed that going to bed at 8:30 would give her enough time to doze off on her own, to ensure that she was actually asleep by nine.

Last night was the first night - and she fought it bitterly.  Just bitterly.  She wasn't angry or weeping, but resigned and resentful that I was enforcing the rules.  She listened to her Sound of Music CD, and was asleep by nine.  And this morning was, as promised, lovely.  This afternoon, I went to the library and got her books on CD, so she has other options to listen to as she drifts off.

Sam is still a work in progress.  He's always been such a good sleeper, so I'm probably going to stick with what works with him - which is for him to fall asleep next to me in my bed and then trek him into his own bed.  Most of the time.  Sometimes, I'm sure he'll just end up crashing in my bed still... and Julianna still nurses at night, and since we've co-slept from the beginning with her (as we did with Sam), I'm in no rush to kick her out of my bed.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Update

Starting from the top... Jessica is doing really well in third grade.  She really likes her teacher and her papers coming home have been consistently in the 90-100 range.  I'm really pleased by this - and have now decided to consider second grade just an aberration.  I think the combination of it not being a great fit, personality wise, between her and the teacher, plus the fact that she took a little longer than most to stop reversing and transposing numbers was what led to her difficulties there.  She seems happier socially as well, which always makes things easier.  She's such a big girl - she's so much help sometimes.  The past two days, I was running the day care room at the synagogue with my mother, and when Jess was in there, it was like having another adult in there to help with the kids... She still fights with her brother pretty consistently - but even that seems to be getting better at times...

Sam is doing great at school.  Just freaking awesome.  The first week was utter hell, but after that, things gradually started to improve.  He's so much better about going in the mornings now, getting out of the van on his own.   He's entering an easy stage, I think.  He's just a calm, relaxed, easy kind of boy.  Although, with the exception of the massive separation anxiety, he's always been a breeze.

Julianna Ruth is STILL not walking.  Just not doing it.  She can balance fine, standing up by herself, but at this point, I think it's a mental thing, she's so used cruising along stuff that she won't walk independently.  But she's so much fun, all singing and charm.  She's getting so big in so many ways - but still so little.