Friday, July 31, 2015

Potty training- the 3rd and final chapter

My big girl has been in underwear all week!  It was really Charlotte's decision- a few weeks ago we noticed her grabbing at herself before she would pee or poop, and then she would announce, "I peed! Change my diaper." So we started conversation around potty training, and she and I picked out some underwear (Bubble Guppies), and her reward (Starburst), and then, last Saturday, she just said, "I want to wear underwear!"  She had gone poop in the potty on Friday afternoon, which was big excitement, and I think spurred her on to give the whole thing a try.

We have had mainly success since- meaning, she is mostly dry, with the occasional pee accident, and has done most of her poops in diapers. She is very good at holding her pee, and seems to be getting the hang of peeing when she sits down, rather than sitting down and waiting for the pee to come out.  She loves the cheers, claps, and adoration she gets when she pees or poops in the potty, and we have made sure to make a big deal out of every time she goes.  Even her brothers are supportive, except that Asher complains at times that it's "not fair" that she gets Starburst when he doesn't.  I have reminded him of the lollipop scam he ran when we trained him (peeing 6-7 times a day so he could keep getting lollipops!), which he denies ever happened.

Charlotte wore underwear to camp everyday and had no accidents, although I couldn't promise that she didn't pee in the pool.  She is very proud of herself and going pee on the potty.  Our next hurdle is- she has been going on her "little potty" and seems uninterested or unwilling to go on the big potty. I think my plan is to let her really get the hang of things on the little potty (and yes, cart it everywhere with us) and then transition to the big potty.

I can't believe this could really be it!  No more diapers for us, for the first time in over 5 years? I really can't imagine it!  I am so proud of, and impressed with, my big girl for making this decision and for learning so quickly. So far it has really been a painless process for all of us. I told her that if she has no accidents tomorrow, and does all her pees and poop on the potty, I will take her out for ice cream and to pick out the tutu of her choice- and then sign up for ballet class!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trip to Maine

We have been home for over a week, but somehow I haven't written a post about our annual summer trip to Maine.

This year, we went from Monday to Monday, which is kind of strange for a vacation (or, it felt strange to me).  We chose our dates around Eric's aunt and uncle's visit from Germany- they had never met the kids and we so badly wanted them to.  But, because they were visiting and staying at Eric's parents' house, we had to find other lodging. Which we found, at Eric's grandparents' camp, a small house on a small pond.

The camp was a little rustic for me, but we settled in pretty quickly, and the kids were in heaven.  In the mornings, they would wake up, maybe eat, and then strip down and get to swimming.  Charlotte would squeal with happiness, "Ahahaha! I'm swimming NAKED!"  They played for hours, happily, in the water and the sand, which made my job very easy.

Naked lunch on the dock
Our first day in Maine, we went to the beach in Wells and met up with a classmate of the boys', who spends the summers in Maine.  It was a fairly cool day and the kids splashed in the ocean and practiced riding boogie boards.

Busy mornings led to excellent naps!  The boys shared a bed, and shared it well, Charlotte was alone in a "big girl bed" and also did well.

Sleepy heads
On our second day in Maine, we had anticipated bad weather, but instead got sun and clouds. We stayed at the camp, and Eric's aunt and uncle and grandparents came to spend the day with us.  They loved seeing the kids play and enjoy their special place.  Eric's aunt had a french fry cutter and deep fryer, and made french fries for lunch- the kids thought that was an amazing treat!
Breakfast by the water

Charlotte and her cousin Marcus in the hammock

Cousin Justin taught the boys to fish

My favorite part of all was nap time- I got to lie in the hammock with my chick lit books and read in complete quiet.  There was the occasional splash of a fish in the water, and the rustling of the wind through the trees, and that was it.  It was unbelievable- it was possibly the most relaxing hours I have had in 5 years and 3.5 months.

 We just enjoyed ourselves there, and loved having the run of the place.  We did spend some time over at Eric's parents' house, mainly for dinner, but the kids had so much fun at the camp that we had a hard time leaving.

Nighttime silliness
Breakfast al fresco
Skinny-dipping before 9 
A rowboat ride with Daddy
The boys with their cousin, Taylor
We ate plenty of ice cream.  We're so lucky to have an ice cream company in the family!

After 3.5 days in Sanford, we drove about 1.5 hours up the coast to Georgetown, Maine.  We were supposed to go cabin camping on the bay there, but it wasn't all we envisioned. There weren't enough beds, and yes, there was a bay off in the distance, but we were much closer to a mosquito-breeding swamp.  We met up with my mom's cousin Wendy and her family, and my parents came up, too.  Again, while the accommodations weren't what we expected, the fun was in watching the kids play and explore and enjoy their big cousins.

The boys had a sleep over with their cousin Colby- they all piled into a loft in one of the cabins and slept there together.  Our first morning there, all the kids slept in and I woke up on my own at 7:40 feeling surprisingly rested.  It was a dark, rainy day, and our main activities were going out to eat.  Saturday night we had a delicious lobster dinner on the water.
Lobster dinner view
 Meema came with many books, and she and Papa Nick read to all the kids all weekend long. Charlotte favored Angelina Ballerina.
Angelina Ballerina, first thing in the morning
We had lazy mornings, lots of good food, and generally cooperative children.  We came home on Sunday, and spent the sunny part of the day in the car on the highway.  Our trip was a little different from previous years, and we didn't get to spend all the time with Eric's family that we usually do, but we got the privilege of meeting and spending time with his family from Germany, who were warm, kind, and loving.  We also had the excitement of finding out that Eric's brother and his wife, who are expecting their 6th, are going to have a baby girl!  She has had 3 boys in the past 5 years, so this was big news and very exciting. 

The kids are now finishing up camp, and we have 5 weeks left of summer in which I want to cram way too much fun.  Every year, summer just flies by- I spend all winter pining for it and it passes in the blink of an eye.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Charlotte: 30 month well-visit

Last week Charlotte had her 30 month well-visit (I didn't get to write about it because we then went on vacation and I had no internet!).  Her stats:
Height: 37"
Weight: 31.5 lbs

She hasn't gained any weight in the past few months, but she has gotten taller! She's pretty balanced in percentiles for height and weight (70-something for both).  The doctor said she looks healthy in every way.  I did report that Charlotte doesn't like meat and the note from the visit says "Child denies a healthy diet (NO MEAT)." Maybe I should just start saying that she's a vegetarian.  So the doctor is asking that I go get some bloodwork done to make sure her iron levels are ok, and I have been delaying taking her- when I took her at 1 year old, she had no idea what was happening and the whole thing happened quickly. This time, I fear she would scream and cry, which breaks my heart.

The doctor thought it would be a good idea to start with potty-training, since Charlotte has started telling us when she needs to go.  We'll see. I don't have any interest in fighting with Charlotte, which I did this morning- not over the potty, but over everything else ("No, you can't sit your naked tushie on the couch! No, you can't have your potty success treats just because!").

Charlotte was her usual charming self, and the doctor says she is doing well- no surprise to me or anyone who knows her.  I love her, even as she drives me a little crazier with every passing day.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The past week

A few photos of our summer as it speeds by. I have been trying to make the most of every sunny day- swimming, ice cream, staying up late playing with friends- but I still have anxiety that it is all going so fast.

July 3: We went to Sesame Place with our friends.  The boys went down a water slide by themselves- I offered to join them and they said no thanks!
Benjamin (in the pink tube)
Meeting Bert and Ernie. Asher Ran up to Bert and held his hands- it was very sweet
 July 4: It was rainy almost all day long, but I dragged everyone out for fireworks. Papa Nick treated the monkeys to ice cream. It ended up not raining, and we all had fun. Mostly. Charlotte cried at first and said she was scared, but then calmed down and lay with me to watch while I covered her ears. I enjoyed the longest snuggle we've had since she was a newborn.
Ice cream with our friends
Apparently my camera doesn't work at night

Charlotte sharing yet another ice cream with her school friend
 On July 5, my friend Amanda came down from New York for the day. We had a great day- spent the morning just the two of us and went for a jog and iced coffee (which I dropped all over the floor of Starbucks, I am such a klutz!), and then she played with the boys in the afternoon while Charlotte napped and I made dinner.  After dinner she was back on the train to New York. The visit was too short, but very sweet.

I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Thursday night Eric and I went with my parents and aunt and uncle to see/hear them record the NPR show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. In the middle was a huge thunderstorm with torrential rain so loud I couldn't hear the show!

Friday morning the boys had camp and I took Charlotte to the zoo.
Zenda the lion is 24- the equivalent of 130 in human years. She's in great shape.
Friday night we went to dinner at Jane and Ed's house and went swimming- and Asher said, "Watch me!" and started swimming across the pool!  Then he got to the wall, turned around, and swam back! Just like that! I was SO proud. Then, Benjamin said, "Watch me!" and started swimming as well!  He's not as strong as Asher just yet, and is a little more nervous, but seems comfortable swimming underwater, too.  I am so proud, and so happy. Plus relieved- I know they can get to the side of a pool now if they were to fall in. Whew.

Saturday- more swimming. We went to the pool at the JCC for a picnic lunch.  Princess Charlotte ate only hummus and Comte cheese.
Pretzels and hummus for a fancy lady
 My parents then took us for an ice cream treat in the city- the Big Gay Ice Cream shop. Very yummy ice cream!

Rainbows! Unicorns! Ice cream! A preschooler's and a gay man's dream come true!
Today I went for a run, and while I was out, Eric converted Charlotte's crib to a toddler bed. Of course I am not ready, and I'm not sure she is, either- even though she can climb out of a crib just fine, she couldn't settle down for a nap in her new bed. She is very proud of herself and her "big girl" bed. 

Then we had a birthday party at a nearby park for a friend of the boys'. The kids all had a great time and Charlotte had her face painted like a kitty cat. She was adorable. 
The kids had pizza and cake at the party, and then came home and Charlotte had an entire second lunch! We had my friend from graduate school over for lunch and had a fairly calm afternoon.  Now we are packing up for our annual summer trip to Maine- so many more pictures to come.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Charlotte Eve: 2 1/2 years old

First pony ride
Charlotte is 30 months old!  I told her she is now 2 1/2, and she said, "No, mommy. I'm 2. I'm not 2 1/2 yet!" Then she told me, "On my birthday, I'll turn 5!" Which confirmed what I have always known- she is in a hurry to grow up.

Charlotte never ceases to amaze me. She talks nonstop, some of it interesting and significant, and some of it nonsense.  She has a great memory.  She will repeat whatever we say like she is a parrot (for better or for worse!).  She asked Eric what he was eating while he was eating an egg and cheese croissant and he said "It's a san... breakfast sandwich." To which she said, "Ohhh. A san-breakfast-sandwich!" 
Riding the swings at Sesame Place
She uses her excellent verbal skills to express her many opinions, which are subject to change without notice.  One second she wants something, the next second it's the worst thing in the world.  I don't remember the boys having truly "terrible twos," and Charlotte isn't anywhere close to terrible, but she is much more complicated and opinionated than her brothers were.  Eric sometimes calls her "our little Mussolini." One evening she asked Eric to pick her up while he was making dinner and he said no. She said "Pick me up!" and he asked, "Why?" to which she responded, "No whys. Pick me up NOW!"  I think that maybe, when she is a teenager, one of us is going to have to move out.

She is also so much fun, and funny.  We have a great time with whatever we do- errands, museums, playgrounds.  She is independent, and has no problem going off to do whatever she wants wherever we go. She doesn't seem to have the same fear that the boys do about staying close to me to stay safe, so I try to keep an eye on her when we're out. Charlotte is so strong and agile, she can climb and play and do things that older kids are doing, which I guess helps her get the impression that she is going to be 5 on her next birthday.
Strawberry-picking selfie
Charlotte is cheerful and friendly, and loves interacting with anyone and everyone.  She's well known in the places we frequent (Trader Joe's, the JCC) and I always hear people call her name and greet her.  I think her trademark bob also gets a lot of attention- it really fits her personality, and I like that there is minimal time and fuss spent on her hair each day.
Unsure of Clifford
My once-omnivorous girl has become pretty picky when it comes to food.  She still eats most fruits and vegetables, but dislikes almost all meat, except processed meat.  So she will eat hot dogs and meatballs and that is about it. She says she doesn't like chicken, but will eat it on occasion.  She will also eat fish sticks.  She loves hummus, yogurt, fancy cheeses (no kidding, she will eat stinky blue cheese and ask for more, that's my girl!), strawberries and watermelon, and Trader Joe's frozen waffles with Nutella on top.  She has definitely become much more lean than she was as a baby- it is hard to believe she was ever a roly-poly chunky monkey.  She has the family sweet tooth, but won't be bribed- if we tell her no dessert unless you eat some dinner, she will just refuse dinner.  

We have tried to bribe her to use the potty, too, but no luck at all so far.  She is getting to the point where she doesn't like wet diapers, but still can't go pee on the potty.  I had said that I would just take away her diapers come June, but I am too lazy to deal with the mess and the anxiety around it, so she is still in diapers. I do want her potty-trained by fall, because I'd love to have her in a dance class, which she has been asking to do ("I be a burr-ina, mommy?").  She is smart enough to figure it out, but I think it is really a matter of my making a decision and sticking to it, and her seeing that it's not a debate.
Princess Charlotte of Wynnewood
She is beginning to engage in imaginative play, and it is so fun to watch.  In the past week, she pretended to be Queen Elsa, to take the truck to the fire station, and to go shopping.  She also knows how to joke and play- very funny.
Black-and-white Kitty and White Kitty wait for Charlotte to come home
Her favorite things are her family (including Meema and Papa Nick), her black and white kitty- although she will really only take #1 Kitty and #3 is barely allowed in her bed, DCTC videos on YouTube, waffles with Nutella, and playing with her brothers.  She loves pop music and always wants to know, "What song this is?" when we are listening to the radio in the car. She loves to dance, too.  She is 80% wonderful, sweet, and funny, and 20% nothing-but-trouble.  I hope that her independence and confidence stay with her into adulthood and that nothing comes along to take them away.  She keeps me on my toes, and keeps me laughing, everyday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

thinking things through

This post isn't about the kids, or our family- it is about me. A week ago I received terrible news- a client who I had seen 5 days prior was dead. He had died Friday- less than 48 hours after he was in my office. My first thought was that it was suicide, but his brother, who delivered the news, said that he didn't think it was. They were doing an autopsy but didn't have the results.  I haven't heard anything more.  The funeral was Saturday (I found the obituary online; it didn't say anything about cause of death) and we were out of town, so I didn't go.

I don't know if I should contact his brother to ask about the cause of death or just assume that since I haven't heard, I don't need to know.  I have a fear that I will get to work to find some kind of subpoena or something suing me because it was suicide.  I worry his family will blame me because I blame myself.  If he was suicidal that day, how did I not know? How did I not stop him from walking out the door?  How did I not assure him of the fact that there were better days ahead?  I don't even know for sure if it was suicide, but I feel somehow responsible in his passing. He was sad when I saw him last, but many people are sad in my office.

I am also struggling with the fact that he is gone. Just gone. In the middle of a life that had so much potential.  He was someone I had worked with for over 2 years, and while I always felt that he was keeping a wall up to protect himself, I knew him well. I enjoyed our work together, and he seemed to be doing well, and looking toward the future. Did I read everything wrong?

Last week, during his scheduled appointment time, I kept waiting for him to come, even though I knew, rationally, that he would not. I even scheduled another client for that time but found myself with my attention divided; waiting to hear the front door of the office open, a knock at my door.  Of course he never came; instead, I found his obituary posted online immediately after that appointment.  How can it be?

As a result, I am having a hard time feeling enthusiastic about my work. I feel like I am a fraud who isn't actually helping anyone and I should just close up shop and move on. I hope that this isn't the truth, but I can feel myself getting anxious and dreading my work. I feel a reluctance to be there and an eagerness to be anywhere else, which I tried actively to work against last week, but nags me constantly outside of sessions.  I think, if only my clients knew how useless I am.  How can I take their money and give nothing in return?

My supervisor, who is no longer legally required to supervise me but still acts as my supervisor and mentor, said she thinks I am the best therapist in our practice. Part of what she considers good about me, and what I am fighting with right now, is that I care deeply for my clients.  They are important to me, what happens to them is important to me, how they feel is important to me.  I valued my client, and his life, and all that he had to offer the world with his intelligence and humor.  I feel his death as a personal loss, because although we weren't friends, he mattered to me.

So I sit with this, as I have for the past week. I no longer have the weight on my chest that I had for the first 24 hours, and enjoying my family over the weekend helped remind me that I am here, and life truly is good, and beautiful, and full of love.  But work looms tomorrow, and I am afraid to go.  For the first time in 4 1/2 years, I said I want to quit. Not because I think there is something better out there, but simply because I think I shouldn't do it anymore, because I'm not good at it like I thought I was, because what if everyone who comes to me ends this way?  Crazy and catastrophic, I know, but that is where my thoughts go.  I am hoping that the acute pain will fade with time, and that I can immerse myself in the wonderful aspects of my job and my work, but I can't feel them right now.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekend in our Paradise

We escaped (the whole family) for a long weekend on Cape Cod. We leave tomorrow- we'd hoped for a beautiful day where we could play all morning and drive home at night, but it looks like rain all day, so we're planning to leave earlier.

We all love it here. Asher cries every time we talk about leaving. My emotions are complicated when I'm here; I feel happiness at being in a place that brings me such pleasure and contains such warm, wonderful memories. I also feel some sadness when I think about my grandparents; knowing that they selected the items in the house, remembering how they used them, remembering how they used to be when they were independent and vibrant. It is amazing to me to be here with my own family when I first started coming here as a self-conscious teenager. I don't know if I could have envisioned what the future held if I had even tried!  I feel a great sense of nostalgia here, too, since there are so many things that remain unchanged over the past 20 years.

We arrived here on Thursday afternoon after a rocky start (Asher was throwing up!), and made a quick trip to the beach, although it was too cold to swim. I ran to the beach to get some exercise, and Eric drove with the kids.
Trying to keep warm! 
Footprints in the sand
 We came back to the house and I cooked dinner for everyone, which we ate out on the deck (Asher's favorite place in the house). Then we rushed out for ice cream, of course!
 Friday was predicted to be rainy and cloudy all day, but after pouring rain at about 8:30, the skies cleared and we had a beautiful, warm day.  I packed our lunch and we went to our favorite pond, Great Pond. The kids played for hours, just entertaining themselves and enjoying the water.
Charlotte is "swimming"
 After we got home, the kids all took excellent naps. I ran around town running my mom's errands since she is in Paris, and then went to the rail trail for a run.  There was much debate over what we would have for dinner and where we would have it, and we ended up making a stop at one restaurant for mac & cheese to go, and another restaurant for seafood for the grown-ups.  I had a lobster roll, and Eric had a clam roll, and we shared a clam chowder.  Then soft serve for dessert- we were really cramming in all the favorites!

The view of the bay from the pier after dinner
My girl and me. Benjamin is hiding behind my legs.
 Today we woke to bright sunshine. We decided to go out for breakfast since tomorrow is Father's Day and we don't want to be in a restaurant!  We went to the Wicked Oyster, our favorite pancake place.  The boys were great; Charlotte's behavior left a lot to be desired.
He needed to sit on my lap before I had finished my meal
Then into our bathing suits and off to Long Pond.  We had the place to ourselves.  It was a little chilly because of the breeze, but it didn't seem to bother the kids. I have discovered that somehow, over the years, I have turned into a totally boring wimp of a person.  In my youth, nothing stopped me from getting into the water and swimming out and back, or splashing around for hours. Now I dip my toes in and think, "Eh. Too cold." I told Eric, I am so boring, I don't even want to get sandy and dirty with the kids. How did this happen?  I am hoping the kids haven't realized yet how un-fun I am, but it is probably only a matter of time.
The kids are playing and I am watching from the comfort of my chair
 The kids took great naps again in the afternoon, and then I cooked dinner at home.  We were going to go out for dessert, but instead went to walk on the beach and look for pebbles.
Two big guys
We did a pretty good job of cramming everything wonderful about Wellfleet into just over 2 days.  We balanced rest and relaxation with fun and exploration; eating at home with eating at our favorite restaurants.  We're lucky to have this piece of paradise at our disposal, and to get away from the craziness of our day-to-day lives. There will be tears when we leave tomorrow, but I am glad we took this chance to visit- the week at the end of the summer never feels like enough.