Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend in Pictures

A weekend that was nothing remarkable, but special just the same.
eating m&ms as a treat on Friday afternoon
After my haircut with a serious Benjamin
Friday night: Dinner at Meema and Papa Nick's, followed by the boys sleeping over.  But not really sleeping, since at 11 pm they were awake and playing "office" rather than sleeping.  And up before 7.

Charlotte in fur, in memory of Grandma Sonia, who would have been 90 on Saturday
Saturday morning: I had 3 tired young things and decided the best course of action would be to go to Costco.  And no trip to Costco is complete without a princess, an astronaut, and a fireman.
Astronaut princess and Fireman Astronaut
Sharing ice cream at Costco.  Asher's not the best sharer.
Saturday afternoon: I ran 4 miles in the snow.  It was peaceful and white.
on my snowy run
Saturday night:  Eric and I were supposed to have a date night, but canceled it due to the weather.  To compensate for my disappointment, I baked a chocolate cake.  I also made a dinner of Asian-style chicken, brown rice, and broccoli while Eric took the boys sledding (Charlotte refused to take off her princess dress, so didn't go sledding).  Charlotte had 4 helpings of broccoli but refused to taste the chicken, saying, "I don't like it!"  The boys had their dessert in front of a roaring fire.
"Take my picture! I see it?"
dessert and a fire
Sunday morning: Homemade scones for breakfast.  Then a birthday party with their school friends, and naps.
Asher with a picture of me when I was 3. I am pretty sure he's my child.
lazy morning snuggles
#1 snuggle bug
Sunday evening: Eric had a work emergency, so Meema and I took the kids to a Vietnamese restaurant in South Philadelphia.  We drove into town at dusk, and the boys were exclaiming at the lights in the city and the buildings. They laughed at the row homes that all touch each other.  It was as if we had never been in the city before! But even to me, the city looked particularly appealing.

A month or so ago, Eric and I had taken the kids out to dinner on a Saturday night, which consisted of the kids ordering food that they didn't actually want to eat; my gobbling my food so quickly I didn't even know if I liked it; and ended with Charlotte lying on her belly on the floor of the restaurant and "swimming," which led to me yelling, "Get off the floor! You are not a snake!"  I then told Eric, "now I remember why we don't eat out!"

Tonight was, fortunately, completely different.  Everyone sat in their own chair, and everyone ate their own food.  In fact, they ate more Vietnamese food than they ate of the traditional American stuff they'd chosen at the last restaurant!  We ordered wide rice noodles stir-fried with chicken and broccoli for the kids, and my mom and I shared a couple of other dishes, including a Vietnamese crepe, which was almost like an omelet stuffed with meat and some vegetables and bean sprouts.  Charlotte and Benjamin tried and enjoyed it! I was thrilled!  All 3 kids loved their noodle dish and the plate was empty at the end of the meal.  Asher had a great idea to wrap some of the chicken from his dish up in one of the rice paper wrappers from my dish- he put in some rice as well, and ate it up.  I loved watching them try new things and be inventive with how they ate it.  Benjamin was also using chopsticks.  I was so proud of them!

After dinner, we went next door to the Asian market so I could stock up on noodles since everyone in our family loves noodles.  The kids were fascinated by the fish, produce, and meat, and then played tag in the other aisles.  They were a little nuts in the car on the way home, but it was a successful evening.

Trying Vietnamese crepe- and liking it!

Eating rice, chicken, and noodles.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Milestones

We have had a few milestones in the past week or so.  Last week, Asher got sent home from school.  The teacher called Eric at about 3:30 (which is the end of the school day) to tell Eric to come get Asher.  She sent Asher home with a long note detailing all of his wrongs (he said NO, NO, NO!; got upset when she put him at the back of the line; he tried to help clean up hula hoops when it wasn't his turn; wouldn't stay quiet at quiet time).  I know I am unable to look at the situation objectively, but is that truly grounds for dismissal?  It is definitely attitude, and when he gets smarmy with Eric and me, we get annoyed.  But in the realm of 4 year-old behavior, is that truly so awful?  Anyway, we got our first "sent home from school for misbehavior."
Reading stories with Uncle Richard on Friday night
Then- on Friday night, Benjamin picked up the phone at my parents' house and called 911. The police called back and my mom reassured them that everyone was fine, but apparently they still have to send someone out to check.  A friendly policeman showed up just as we were serving dessert, and Benjamin was mortified.  He started to cry, and wouldn't look the policeman in the eye. Fortunately the policeman didn't seem upset; he seemed quiet pleased to see us sitting around as a family.  I offered him a cupcake but he refused.
Charlotte and Asher in French pajamas from Meema. Delicious and sweet after a trying day
Other than these 2 milestones, which I could live without, we are trying to sort out the coming year.  The boys will go into public kindergarten at the school across the street, but it's only half-day kindergarten. So I have had to figure out the other half day of their care.  There are two close by options, but one is considered better than the other (although of course they are both great). One morning I got up at 4:45 to go sign the kids up for the "better" program.  Lucky us, they made it in- kind of.  The secretary managed to throw out Asher's paperwork and only admit Benjamin, but they have agreed to admit Asher because they feel bad about their mistake.

I have thought about putting Charlotte in a different preschool; there have been administrative and management problems at our current school that we could live without.  I called around and got prices, and found that our school is the least expensive for the most flexibility.  I toured another school nearby, and it was really nice, but $2800 more for the school year (9 months of 2 half days and 1 full day/week).  It seems like we're staying put.  But I don't worry too much about Charlotte- she doesn't let herself get pushed around, and seems to have a great deal of charm and charisma.
Spunky Monkey in Papa Nick's hat
Then, I decided to switch pediatricians.  We followed our pediatrician through his second move, but he has joined a big family practice and residency and now only works 2 days a week.  When I call the office, I often have to wait 10 minutes just to talk to a receptionist, and there's no nurse's line to ask nervous mommy questions. It doesn't have the small, personal feel that I fell in love with at his previous two offices.  It was a hard decision, because I really like the doctor and had hoped that he would see my children through their whole lives, but I need somewhere where I can have more access to nurses and care.  So we are switching again, for what I hope is the last time!
Waking up from a nap snuggle
 We had our first real snow day of the winter yesterday.  The kids stayed home, but I went in to work in the afternoon.  We got to do some sledding at a friend's house before I went.  The boys had a lot of fun, but Charlotte didn't like the cold and wet very much.  I am hoping for one good snow, preferably on the weekend, where we can do some real sledding and snowman building.  Other than that- I can't wait for spring.
Snow babies

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Annual February post

Well, it is that time of year again- the time of year where I price one-way tickets to California and search California real estate for the one-bedroom studio apartment we could afford if we moved there.  Although the weather this winter hasn't been nearly as bad as last winter, it is still winter- no walks outside, no trips to the playground, no dinner in our backyard, no swimming.  Constant illness that gets passed from one family member to another.
Sick #1: Charlotte's ear infection. Note the green snot and the drool on my shoulder
This year has not been as bad as other years have been, for me. I am not feeling depressed so much as I am feeling impatient for the weather to change and for spring to come.  I have been trying to keep myself busy by continuing to exercise, making plans with friends both for myself and the kids, and getting the kids around town to as many indoor places as I can think of.  I have been cooking a lot, and I definitely have the desire to eat more baked goods and sweets than in warmer months of the year.

Sick #2: a fevered nightmare that woke him with 2 minutes left in the Superbowl.  We didn't have time to wrestle him back into bed, so he got to watch the rest of the game.  He loved Daddy's victory dance through the living room when the Patriots won.

I'm trying to look ahead to upcoming events, but many of those are stressful, too.  I thought about trying to take a long weekend in Florida over the kids' spring break, but for us to even fly somewhere inexpensively starts at $1,000, and then we would have rental car, hotel, food, entertainment... There is kindergarten enrollment, but kindergarten is only a half-day here, so I have to figure out half-day care for the days I work (more $$$).  The boys are turning 5, and I am planning a birthday party for them, with an overwhelming guest list (HOW do we have more friends every year?).  Enrolling the boys in summer camp, possibly choosing a new preschool for Charlotte, likely changing pediatricians.  Little things going on in the background that are left for me to figure out, as they aren't Eric's areas of involvement.

We have had someone sick for the past 2 weeks straight.  I am so lucky that Eric works from home and will stay home with the kids and take care of them so I can continue to see my clients.  But it is sad to see my angels sick, although we are also fortunate it hasn't been anything serious.
Sick #3: currently has a fever. This was at a birthday party a week before he actually was sick, but it captures his current state.
I would 100% move somewhere warmer if I thought I could bring my parents with me. I can't survive without their day-to-day help, and I can't afford to hire someone else to give me the kind of help they do.  I have tried to sell them on the idea of moving into a family compound in Northern California, but my mom has been resistant to it (I can't imagine why...).

On the plus side- all of the kids are thriving outside of their viral illnesses. Asher is drawing and creating each day, and I love watching his concentration and his beautiful artwork.  Benjamin has a mind like a steel trap and absorbs facts and information constantly.  He remembers almost everything!  And Charlotte's vocabulary continues to increase exponentially.  She gets us laughing everyday with the things she says, her graceful dance moves, her stylish outfit choices, her obsession with her stuffed animals, and her spunky attitude.  We've had many wonderful days together as a family where I am able to sit back and enjoy my children's company and admire the little people they are becoming.  Along with my desire to fast-forward to spring, I have a desire to freeze time and keep them just the way they are.

The countdown: 
40 days til spring (and Papa Nick's birthday)
46 days til the boys turn FIVE
61 days til I turn 35 (help! and please send Botox!)
63 days til Eric turns 35 
102 days til summer

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parent-Teacher Conferences

The boys doing our community service on MLK day
Charlotte at dinner on Saturday- after singing "Let it Go" and before slithering like a snake on the floor of the restaurant

Yesterday Eric and I met with the kids' teachers for conferences.  I always get excited about them because usually the teachers talk up the kids and I leave feeling very positive about their growth and development.

We started with Charlotte's teacher, Miss Karen, who had nothing but wonderful things to say about our girl.  She said Charlotte does well everyday, and even though she is the youngest in the class, keeps up with activities and is right on target in her learning and skills.  She said Charlotte is a delight, so happy, and a lot of fun.  She complimented Charlotte's dancing (she has both my enthusiasm (a lot) and my rhythm (none)).  I am thrilled that Charlotte is doing so well and fitting in with kids who are a little bit older than she is.

The boys' conferences were less positive.  Not because there is anything wrong with the boys, although their teacher did harp on the issues that she noticed with them, but because she focused so little on what is great about them.  Her final note on Asher was, "Asher is a bright, well-behaved, observant child, who likes to be right and likes to be first.  We are working with him to be flexible when he doesn't get to be in line first or at an activity that is full.  We are also helping him with language that sounds kind and gentle so that he doesn't sound 'bossy' to other children."  I mean, really, she couldn't even make one whole sentence good things only?  The fact that Asher is bossy isn't news to us- he is completely bossy and we are always telling him to back off.  He can also be helpful, insightful, kind, thoughtful, caring, loving...  But no mention of any of that.  He has also made huge strides in his learning, his drawing, his knowledge of letters and numbers.  But she didn't mention that, either.

Benjamin is also doing well with learning, being a good friend and classmate, and participation.  She was stuck on his lack of eye contact during handshake time and said we should mention it to our pediatrician.  I said, "Are you telling me you think this is indicative of a bigger problem?" i.e. autism; and she kind of backed down and said every other kid in the class could do it but that she couldn't say if it meant anything more.  I am not concerned about Benjamin and autism- he is very social and does make eye contact when you talk to him.  He is definitely socially awkward, and we have been working with him on that, by drawing his attention to his behaviors and suggesting more socially acceptable ones.  Eric is socially uncomfortable, and my dad's social skills sometimes leave something to be desired as well, so it is understandable that social skills might be a struggle.  But it felt like she was making a mountain out of a molehill.  She also said maybe we should get Benjamin a speech evaluation.  I explained we've had several (a minimum of 3) and that he has never qualified for services.  I am figuring that when he gets to public school, he'll get speech in the school- he never says the "s" before a consonant at the beginning of a word, and he never says the "r" in the middle of a word.  It makes for a lot of laughs when he asks to wear an outfit that is "very gray."

Both boys know all their letters and numbers up to 10.  They know the sounds associated with letters and are beginning to read short words.  They follow the classroom rules without fail, they are good friends to their fellow classmates. I hear nothing but good things from everyone else at the school.  The conference left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's not like I expect a teacher to lie to me and only tell me wonderful things, especially if they aren't true, but I would have liked a little more balance in the report.  I am thinking about whether I will say something to the teacher to let her know how I feel, or if I will just let it go.  I do feel like my boys are well-prepared for kindergarten in the fall, and that is important.  They like school and are happy there, and that's important, too. I just wish their teacher saw a little more positive in them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Five years ago today:
26w pregnant with the boys
Today:
I registered my babies for kindergarten!  I can't believe it.  I have been keeping this blog for over 5 years now.  My babies, those babies who I worked so hard to stay pregnant with, to breast feed, to keep safe... will be going to kindergarten.

I know it is cliche, but it is true- the time has flown.  I remember so clearly the anxiety of being in bed rest- particularly strict bed rest.  The wondering about what my babies would look like and be like as people.  And to now have these two wonderful boys, talking to me, sharing their days, getting ready to read.  I look at their little boy faces and still see that baby face in them; the way their faces looked as newborns, as toddlers.  To think they will be in elementary school!

I'm filled with panic at how fast it all goes.  I love having young children.  I know many friends (and Eric!) who can't wait to get through this stage, but I love it.  I love the snuggles, the sweet way they talk (and mispronounce words), the constant surprise at new development, and, frankly, the being needed.  It's a large part of why I want another baby, so that this stage can go on forever.  Kindergarten marks the start, in my head, of them being big kids.  Soon they will start puberty, have bar mitzvahs, and not want to hug me.  I can't stand it.

I'm so proud of my boys, because they are wonderful people so far, and I am sure that they will thrive next year.  But- my babies are growing up!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Charlotte's 2 year well-visit

Worrying about her toenail and saying "cheese."
Enjoying a chicken drumstick

Yesterday Charlotte had her 2 year old well-visit with the pediatrician.  My only concern is her pinky toenail, which is growing in funny, but he seemed to think that it was just a bump to the toe and will fall off soon.

Here are her stats:
Height: 34.5"(71st percentile)
Weight: 29.8 lbs (82nd percentile)

The doctor seemed happy that she is in school 2 days a week and socializing well.  She's active and gets exercise, plays well with others, and is talking up a storm.  She told him no, she doesn't like to read books (she's a fibber!), but that her favorite songs are "First time in Forever" and "Let it Go."

On Sunday, she pooped in the potty!  This has not been repeated.  She has an interest in wearing underwear, but not so much interest in actually peeing on the potty.  The other night she got her little potty chair and carried it around from room to room upstairs, but never actually used it.  Maybe some day...

At the doctor, Charlotte got a shot- the vaccine for Hep A, which made her cry- but she then got a sparkly bandaid and a sticker of Anna from Frozen, which seemed to ease her pain.  At home, Asher was incredibly jealous of the sparkle bandaid and begged to go to the doctor himself to get a shot.  I reassured him that at his next visit, he'd get shots and the opportunity for a bandaid of his own.  Unbelievable!

The visit went easily, and it never gets old to hear a professional confirm what I suspect- my no-longer-a-baby girl is thriving!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year!

We are at the end of a whirlwind 3 weeks that included my running the bake sale at the JCC (we raised $600 for the preschool PTO, which I am thrilled about), several parties, Charlotte's birthday party, a trip to Maine, a trip to the zoo, a day of work, several more parties, and Disney on Ice.  There has been nonstop socializing and action, and lots of late bedtimes.  Whew.

2014 was another good year for us; probably even fewer changes than the year before.  While the kids change everyday, their change has slowed slightly.  We have hit a fairly good rhythm with them, and for the most part can get through a day without wanting to either: a) kill the kids b) kill each other c) drink an excessive amount of wine, or d) all of the above.

We continued to work on making our house our home, with Eric building me a desk to help organize my papers (see more about that below), and the boys getting a bunk bed as their big-boy bed.  We didn't do any major home renovations in 2014, but Eric is gearing up to finish our basement with the help of his friends in the next few months.

The highlight of the year, for me, was our family vacation to Cape Cod in September.  We had a full week of beautiful weather; the kids were wonderful to be with; and it brought me such joy to watch my children creating their own traditions and truly loving a place that is so special to me.  After a vacation like that, it is hard for anything else to compare!

It was another year of feeling thankful each day, as I got to tuck my 3 beautiful children into their warm beds in their warm house, with food in their bellies.  We aren't wealthy, but we are rich.

I just re-read last year's New Year's post, and unfortunately, my 2015 goals are exactly the same.  I can't say that I made much progress on any of my goals.  Here they are, in a cut-and-paste:

  • be better organized, i.e. not lose my things, not run around like a chicken with my head cut off, not forget to buy birthday gifts for all of our friends.
  • better manage our money. we get caught in cycles of "let's buy things!" which then shift to, "oh, sh*t! we don't have enough money!" which then goes back to "buy more!" when we feel deprived from all of our saving.  it's like a yo-yo diet but with a bank account.
  • spend less time on Facebook.  Why do I spend so much time on something that is completely unfulfilling?  Why do I care what dumb article on buzz feed someone I haven't seen in 10 years thinks is funny?  I need the "babies/weddings/engagements" filter since that is really all I care about.
  • be nicer to Eric.  Whether it is actually his fault, I can still be nicer while blaming him.  No, really- we do need to make more time for our relationship.  It's hard when we are both exhausted from working, taking care of the kids, cleaning, cooking, fixing things, etc., but we're both happier when we spend time together as a couple.
I would not say that I have become any more organized, despite my desire to be organized.  Maybe I am slightly better?  But my guess is that Eric would say I am worse.  I am also a terrible procrastinator.  In fact, as I type this, I should be studying for my PA state licensing exam.  I am sure that the procrastination will never change, but it remains my goal to become better organized.

I made no progress on any of my other goals, either.  Except maybe to be nicer to Eric, so that's a good one!

This year, I choose to keep my old goals and hopefully finally improve on them.  I did have some accomplishments in 2014- I ran 2 half-marathons, which had never been a goal but sure feels great to have achieved!  And I kept all 3 kids alive and well, and happy- they are happy and well-adjusted thus far, which you can't really put on a year-to-year list, but feels good when taking stock.  We are lucky to end one year and begin another with such good health and so much love around us.  We're off to a roaring start!