Friday, September 19, 2014

the "cool" kids

I cannot believe, at the age of 34, that I am dealing with cliques and mean kids.  Really?  And even worse, why am I letting myself get affected by it?

Over the past couple of months, it has become clear that we are on the outside of a neighborhood group.  The family next door to us is best friends with the family who lived on the other side of us (and who recently moved about 30 minutes away).  The guy next door, who we call The Mayor because he is a know-it-all busybody, has decided he doesn't like us.  He and his wife have one child, a son, who is about 4 months younger than my boys.  I invited him over one night, and he said the invitation was too "last minute" (it was a week in advance) and he wasn't going to come.  Instead, he had plans with his new best friends, who also dislike us.  Both families have had parties where they have invited every other family on the block, but not us.

The Mayor made up a special "come out to play" whistle that he uses on all of his neighbor-friends.  He'll go out in the alley that run behinds our houses and tweet at his friends.  To me this is strange.  Maybe if we were one of the cool kids who he whistled at, I wouldn't find it strange, but as it is... it's strange.

And it's strange to be discriminated against for something that I have no idea about- I guess that is why it all feels so high school.  In high school I wasn't a cool kid; there were people who weren't my friend or who would never have dated me simply because I wasn't in their social strata.  I'm not sure what defines us or separates us now; whether it is money, religion, or just who we are.

In addition to this situation, which I can somewhat dismiss because these neighbors aren't people who I would choose to be friends with if I met them somewhere other than my back yard, I have been kind of pushed out of a threesome with two of my other mommy friends (who are also neighbors).  These are two women whose company I truly enjoy, and who have been immensely helpful to me and my family over the past two years.  The two of them have gotten extremely close- they are together every single day; their girls are in school together, they exercise together, they are in a Moms' Club together, they babysit each other's children, and they go on vacation together.

When I was younger, my mom told me that threesomes are hard; there is always someone who isn't as close as the other two.  Over the course of the past year, I feel I've been pushed further and further away.  Neither one has invited me or my family over to their home for any kind of play date or meal, nor have they initiated a play date outside the home.  It upsets me, because I like these women, and value their friendship.  They are like-minded in the way they raise their children and share similar interests with me.  I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to handle things- do I keep reaching out to them in the hopes that we can grow closer again?  Or do I just let it go and put my effort into my other friendships?

In a way I've done both things recently; I've reached out to them to initiate plans and they've responded, and I've also put the majority of my social efforts into other relationships.  Spending time with them is difficult, because they are up-to-date on every detail of each other's lives, and I am completely out of the loop.  The feelings of exclusion are so reminiscent of middle school, of wondering what they say about me behind my back, why, despite my best efforts to be friendly, they don't think of me when making plans.

This post has been hard for me to write, because every time I start it or work on it, it brings me down.  But this has been going on for a few months now, and it does have an effect on me.  It's on my mind, not all the time, but periodically, and I wanted to just get it out.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Charlotte's 1st Day of School

Charlotte and Kitty go to school
Charlotte had her first day at school today, in Miss Karen's 2's class.  She is with some of her old classmates from last year, and some other slightly older kids.  She was fine at first, because she has been in the school every other morning with us as we dropped off the boys.  But when she realized I was going to leave, she started to cry.

I had to work a little late today, so Eric picked her up.  He said she was perfectly happy when he got there, and wouldn't take off her (hand-me-down, used-to-be-Benajmin's) backpack.  She was in great spirits tonight, so clearly unruffled by the change.

Her teacher left a voicemail on our home phone, which I thought was really sweet.  She said that Charlotte had cried at drop-off and then again when they left the playground, but that she ate well and napped well and fit in great with her classmates.  Hurray!  The boys told Eric they had seen her crying as she left the playground, and they made sure to give her big hugs.  Such kind big brothers.

I'm very happy with the way the school year is beginning.  There is a price difference between the toddler class Charlotte had initially been assigned (and which we are paying for) and the 2 year old class.  I am going to decide whether I want to get some money back, or whether Charlotte should go a 2nd day each week to get into the routine.

Tonight, I have such mixed emotions.  I feel proud that my little girl is mature enough to fit in with kids 4-6 months older than she is, and I feel sad that my baby has grown up so fast.  She's always been in a hurry to be a big girl- some days I just want it to slow down.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Day of School

The boys had their first day of school today.  This year, they are going a half day in addition to their 3 full days, and today was their first half day.

As usual, I attempted to get the boys to pose in a cute way prior to their first day.  This is what I got:

They went into their classroom with no hesitation.  Before I could even unload their forms and school supplies, they were settled in with puzzles with their friends.  There class this year is a mix of friends from last year and people they don't yet know, which is great.
Puzzles with their friend Valerie
I used my 3 hours to take Charlotte to Gymboree, grocery shop, and start dinner.  I have to pat myself on the back here, but I made a delicious pork loin in the crock pot, roasted broccoli, and risotto and got it all on the table by 6, even after taking the kids to the playground until about 5:15.  This extra half day could be amazing!

While we were at school, we dropped off some of Charlotte's supply.  She was placed in the Toddler Room again because she's not yet 2.  We walked into the Toddler Room, which was her class last year (and she was the youngest), and it was full of BABIES.  Like, a boy in a onesie wobbling around and banging 2 blocks together.  It didn't sit well with me, but I didn't have a chance to talk to Eric about it. When I picked the boys up, the mom of one of their classmates was there with her son, who is 1 month older than Charlotte.  She told me her son is in the 2 year old classroom!  I came home and called the director, who agreed with me that Charlotte is a little big for the toddler room, so they'll move her up to the young 2's class.  I am partly excited for Charlotte to play and socialize, and partly nervous- I want her to be on her best behavior and act like a 2 year old!  I figure, since she thinks she is 4, acting 2 should be no problem.  I'll post about her 1st day on Thursday after she goes.

Another good start to what will hopefully be another good year. And one year from now, my boys will be in kindergarten!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cape Cod 2014

What a wonderful week we had! This was the 22nd summer in a row I have gone to spend a week at the Cape, and it was, without a doubt, the best weather I've ever had.  Not a drop of rain, days full of sunshine, not too hot, with cool nights.  The water was warm, there was no sea weed in the ocean.  The kids slept well, and played well.  Since it was after Labor Day, there were few crowds.  And one great perk to having 3 kids is that they always have a friend nearby, so there are very few demands for my attention. I didn't make it through the book I brought to read (All Joy and No Fun, what irony), but I did relax and thoroughly enjoy myself.

Of course, we forgot our good camera again, so all my photos are just from my phone.  I also tried to just enjoy what I was doing, and so didn't have my phone on me every second.  Here are some of the moments I captured:

On our way up, we stopped for lunch in Mystic, Connecticut.  We had hoped to go to Providence, but after hitting traffic needed to stop sooner.  We had a delicious pizza lunch (not at Mystic Pizza, though), then walked along the water and down the main street.
The boys and some boats
We made it to the Cape in the late afternoon.  We decided not to start cooking (this was vacation, after all!) so Eric and I took our kids for dinner and ice cream.
Mommy and sons selfie
Sunday we went to the pond.  Right away the kids began to play, and the adults sat back and watched the kids and read.
Boys in the sand
 Sunday evening we went up to Provincetown to get Aunt Elana from the ferry.  Eric had never been, and I hadn't been in over 10 years.  I thought it was lively and interesting, but my mom thought it was kitschy.  We found a cute place for dinner, and the food was delicious for everyone but Asher, who had a meltdown over his PB&J because it had real strawberries in with the strawberry jam.
Asher by the beach in Provincetown
 Monday, Labor Day, my cousin came out from Boston to visit with us.  We went to the beach and found out that the beach had never looked better!  Crystal clear water, blue skies, waves that were not too big and not to small.  It was low tide and the kids hunted for rocks and shells and played at the edge of the water.  We got hot, sticky, and sandy and had a great time.
Beach Day

Charlotte and Kitty watching Asher
That afternoon we went out and bought boogie boards to use at the beach the next day.  Eric had never been boogie boarding!  I felt like a kid again, playing with Eric in the water and teaching him how to boogie board.
Charlotte stealing my snack
 Every morning, the boys went with  Papa Nick on a walk to get the newspapers and some donuts.  One morning they bravely took Charlotte with them, and were gone for more than an hour!
Breakfast on the deck
We didn't watch too much TV, although Charlotte appears to be a TV addict, and will grab any phone or iPad she can get her hands on. The boys were happy to read books or play with toys or color.  And we were barely home and awake, since we kept so busy enjoying ourselves.
Reading with Meema

Playing at the beach
Evenings were cocktail hour, and Elana and Eric didn't miss a day.  We sat on the deck and read, or looked at our laptops, or did some work.  I looked through Eric's photos today and he has 2 separate photos of gin and tonics on the deck!  
Cocktail hour

playing at the pond

More ice cream!

That one was supposed to be mine
 Our last night, we did something new- made a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows.
Sunset over the dunes

Wind in her hair

Captivated by the fire

Family around the fire
We drove home today and made great time.  Asher and I were both overly emotional and sad to leave.  It is such a gift to have a home in a beautiful place, and a treat to share my own excitement and traditions with my children. My other sadness was at my grandparents' absence.  They haven't been at the Cape with us since 2009, but the house is still full of their books and belongings; the things they chose to furnish their home.  I can remember them there, and I miss them.  I know my grandmother, especially, would take such pleasure in seeing my children playing and laughing in that house.

Two years ago, I remember being sad when we were there- that the boys were so wonderful and that adding Charlotte would throw everything off balance.  As much as I dread change, this year was even better than the years before, and seeing Charlotte play with her brothers, and them dote on her, is much better than having just my boys.  I'm sad that we won't be back there for another year.  After a trip like this, I am ready to go back again next week.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

countdown to the cape

We're leaving for the Cape in just a few days, and the excitement is building!  We made a paper chain to count down our days, and on each link wrote something we are looking forward to.

The boys are looking forward to:
Playing at Great Pond
Walks with Papa Nick to get the newspaper in the morning
Donuts for breakfast
Seeing Aunt Elana
Going to the ocean beach
Learning to fish?
Breakfast on the deck

I am looking forward to:
Ice cream
Going for runs with my sister
Watching my kids play together
Eating my annual lobster
Spending time together as a family without the pressures of work, play dates, etc.
and all of the things the boys listed as well.

Every morning Asher reminds me it is time to take a link off of our paper chain.  It thrills me that he remembers and values our traditions- he is very much my little boy in that way.

This will be a wonderful end to our summer.  Which I can't believe is ending, but that is another post for another day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

this week

Here is our past week, without flourish or transition.

Asher told me that he loves my kisses and the smell of my breath.

Benjamin said he wanted to go to Trader Joe's so he could pick out some flowers for Meema.

We went to Target, and while flipping through the women's clearance rack, mumbled that a certain shirt wouldn't work because it was "maternity."  Asher said, "What's maternity, Mommy?" and I said, "Clothing for pregnant ladies."  He said, "Well, YOU'RE pregnant, Mommy!" I got very indignant and said, "I am not!" and Benjamin smoothed everything over by saying, "You get smaller everyday, Mommy."

We had gone to Target to "save money" on pull-ups, since the Target brand is cheaper and I had an additional 5% off.  Then I proceeded to spend over $100 on clothing for myself and Charlotte, including a pair of sparkly Hello Kitty ballet flats (for Charlotte) that I decided she absolutely must have.  They're truly hideous, and we both love them.

Charlotte started saying "Yeah!" for yes.  She says, "Bye!" and is doing a lot more nonsensical "talking."

She also started saying, when asked her name, "Mia!"  The boys think this is possibly the funniest joke they have ever heard, so any time we are all in the car together, they spend the entire ride saying, "Charlotte, what's your name?" and when she says "Mia!" they laugh hysterically until they can breathe again, and then start all over.

I ironed for the first time in a year. I ironed my really summery things (white skirt) that I now have 2 weeks left to wear. Then I wore my freshly ironed clothes to work and got nonstop compliments.  I guess my clients were tired of the 3 dresses I was rotating through.

I went for a jog with the boys' former teacher, and when we walked in the door after our jog the boys came to the top of the stairs and told me they'd been putting their laundry away.  I was so proud!

The boys received their new class assignments.  One of the teachers for 4 year-olds (Miss T) is a little bit older and very overweight.  The boys aren't in her class.  I said to the boys' former teacher, "I wonder if the boys are in the other teacher's class because Miss T can't keep up with them." and the boys' former teacher said, "Well... did you hear Miss T had a heart attack last weekend?"  It's probably a good thing my boys aren't in her class.

I got sick AGAIN on Monday. I thought it was strep, but it wasn't.  It did, however, respond to antibiotics.  I feel really out of shape from skipping running every time I get sick.  Luckily, my mom was able to come over and take care of the kids all morning so I could go to urgent care and then sleep for 2 hours.

Asher picky-pants, who won't eat fresh fruit and gags around foods he doesn't like, tried hummus.  And decided he loves it.

We went to the zoo with our friends who have a higher level of membership and get on to all the extras, like a camel ride, a pony ride, the carousel, etc.  Asher said to me, "How did I get so lucky, to get to go on all these rides?!?"

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2 days, no kids

Last week I was childless for two days.  Almost three.  I left Eric with the kids in Maine and came home to work.

Initially, I was anxious about separating them (to put it mildly).  I had never been away from Charlotte for a night; she's been my little buddy since birth, and has gone everywhere but work with me.  In my head, I was getting all sentimental, as if I were sending them off to a foreign country with nothing, possibly never to see them again, rather than simply leaving them with 3 capable adults who love them and reuniting with them a few days later.

I panicked about leaving Charlotte behind, and called my mom (who babysits on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) to see if she was free to babysit so I could bring Charlotte home with me.  Her response?  "No. I have plans."  So that was it- I was leaving my baby behind.

Then I started to fantasize. I dreamed that my time at home would be plenty of free time, sleeping in, maybe even a girls' night out, it was pretty much my normal routine.  My body is accustomed to waking up early, so I was up at 7 both mornings.  I had so much to do (clean, run errands, go to work, exercise) that I didn't even have time to relax.  On top of it, I caught a "killer cold" and felt completely run down and lousy.

I missed my kids, but not as much as I thought I would.  I was very excited to see them when they arrived Thursday evening, but probably could have managed another day or two on my own.  When I saw them on Thursday, they were happy to see me- but after a quick hug and kiss, they were back to their usual activity.  No harm done to any of them, it seemed.

It did seem to bring a complete end to breastfeeding.  Charlotte was still nursing once or twice a day, for short periods of time.  Friday morning she nursed, but she hasn't really nursed since.  It certainly hasn't helped that we were both sick, and in desperation, I took a decongestant on Saturday.  It seems to really be over.  She keeps asking, and I will sit down with her to nurse, but she is immediately distracted by something more interesting.  It's time, though- she is almost 20 months old and I had said I didn't want to nurse until she was 2 like I did with the boys.  And I would absolutely rather it come to a natural waning and end, rather than a date I arbitrarily pick and force on her.

The days apart were great preparation for October, when I go away for a week with my mom and sister.  Before these few days away, I was bitching and moaning about "how am I going to leave my bayyyy-beees?", but now I know everyone will be just fine.  I'm very lucky that Eric is a great dad, and involved in every aspect of their day and care, so no one will suffer when I'm gone.  In fact, they'll probably love it because it will be more TV and more treats from Papa Nick. In the end, I'm glad my mom lay down the law and gave me the opportunity to separate from my kids.  I'm not as important as I thought I was!