Monday, April 13, 2015

5 year well visit

Today the big boys had their 5 year well visit, and their first visit at their new pediatrician. Here are their stats:

Asher: 43.5 lbs (69th percentile); 42.75" tall (45th percentile).  Last year he was 36.8 lbs and 40.25", so he gained almost 7 lbs and grew 2.5".

Benjamin: 40.5 lbs (48th percentile); 42.5" tall (34th percentile).  Last year he was 34.3 lbs and 39.25", so he gained 6 lbs and grew 3 inches, and the doctor was pleased.

It's funny to me that their weight percentiles are higher than their height percentiles because they both seem thin to me- but they are healthy heights and weights and clearly growing, which feels good.

The nurse checked their hearing and vision.  Both boys chose to read the letter chart rather than the pictures/shapes chart and knew all their letters.  Plus they could see, which is the most important part!

Benjamin went first, and any time he paused to read a letter or focus, Asher kept whispering the answers to him! I had to take him into another room.

We discussed all our concerns, which are fortunately very few.  Asher's torticollis, which she thinks might just be what it is; Benjamin's speech, which she thinks will improve when he gets to kindergarten; Asher's thumb sucking, which she said we could start trying to prevent but that whatever damage has been done will cost us big $$$ at the orthodontist anyway.  She asked about their socializing, their eating habits, sleep habits, and physical activity.  At the end they got their MMR shots and neither one cried for even a second, despite expressing anxiety that the shots would hurt.

The doctor pronounced them perfectly healthy, and told me that they are really great kids.  I am truly so happy that every year we have so few concerns and that every year they grow bigger and stronger.  I have been thinking, as I started drafting their 5 year-old blog entries, that they have such consistent and wonderful personalities.  I know problems can develop at any point, but so far, they are just plain great kids, and I am so fortunate.

After their appointment, we picked Charlotte up from school and the boys said hello to all of their friends on the playground.  Then we went out to lunch (no daddy, who has been swamped with work).  The kids all ordered their food and then actually ate it!  There was no trouble at the table, nothing but happy kids eating.  The waitress then complimented me on how well-behaved my kids were- we left favorable impressions all over town.

Of course, when Benjamin and Charlotte chose not to nap, behavior deteriorated.  There was an incident wherein Benjamin tried to pull Charlotte away from the table where he had his legos, and she pulled the table cloth with her, dumping all the legos all over the floor in little pieces.  Benjamin burst into tears!  Asher to the rescue- in under an hour, he had reassembled everything.

It was a satisfying day, to have medical confirmation that my kids are as healthy as they appear.  Not perfect, of course, but growing and learning and ready for kindergarten this fall.  It is still hard to believe that 5 years ago, they were squirmy little chicken-legged babies who I had to force feed every 3 hours around the clock.  Now they are big, strong, real people- not babies anymore.  Although, lucky me, Asher still asks for hugs and kisses and snuggles all the time.  Just today he said, "hugs and kisses are my two favorite things!" so I'll give them to him as long as he'll let me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Passover and Easter

This past weekend we celebrated spring with Passover (and an Easter egg hunt).

Our first seder was at Jane and Ed's house, and Jane had thoughtfully set the kids up with coloring books, crayons, and a bag full of stuffed toys to represent the 10 Plagues.  The boys were able to sit at the table and stay fairly engaged through the whole seder (which was, fortunately, short and sweet).

For the past few weeks, they have been singing, especially Benjamin, all the Passover songs.  Benjamin would sing the first question from the Four Questions nonstop, to the point where Charlotte began to sing it as well, because she is a parrot.  But of course, come seder time, he clammed right up.  Asher ended up singing it, with my help, while Benjamin ate parsley.  Yes, he would rather eat parsley than sing a question.  Asher sang all 4 questions with me, and then he sang the Hammer Song and Dayenu and the Frog Song in a beautiful, clear voice.  I was so proud of him!  To think that my boy who stood up and cried at his Hanukkah Show 2 years ago was now able to sing these songs to a table full of adults, all by himself- so wonderful.

Charlotte would have none of the seder and just played by herself in the playroom.  She also would have none of the food- she is getting more and more picky.

The second seder was at a friend from grad school's house.  We were 6 adults and 7 kids, which was chaotic but fun. Our hostess made favor bags with something to represent each of the 10 plagues, so there were many toys to play with and bubbles spilled.  The kids ate at one table and the adults at another, so we managed to get in a little bit of conversation while we ignored our children and the chaos they were creating.
The kids' table

Movie time so the grown ups can eat in peace
 On Sunday Eric went for a long bike ride, and I took the kids to Trader Joe's, which is a heartbreaking endeavor on Passover.  Asher was in tears asking for his favorite foods (crackers, Cheerios, pasta, waffles) while I denied him all of them.  And the free samples were cookies or cake. I spent a ton of money trying to make up for the fact that we can't eat our favorite foods.  Asher was also hungry all day long, because he is picky and won't eat things like fruit, yogurt, or cheese.

This is our first year keeping Passover all the way through inside and outside of our home.  In previous years, we would see Eric's parents for Easter in the middle of the week or have some event come up that we let stop our Passover-keeping.  The last time I kept Passover for myself was the year the boys were born!  But this year, we are home, and the kids are in school, where they're required to bring kosher-for-Passover lunches.  The boys are also old enough to understand what it means to keep Passover, and so it is important that we keep the tradition.  They've overall been great- Asher has accepted that his favorite foods are gone, and just keeps asking in a matter of fact way when we can go back to eating normal foods.  We keep Passover fairly loosely- no flour, but we don't worry about things like corn and legumes, which are not actually kosher for Passover but really don't bother me.

I have made an effort to meal plan all 3 meals a day so that we aren't caught with nothing to eat and no ideas of what to cook.  I have made some delicious food with very few, if any, substitutions- meatloaf made with matzoh meal; creamed spinach; roasted potatoes and vegetables; flourless chocolate cake.  Eric made a frittata for the kids while I was at work.  Tonight Eric offered Asher cookie butter ice cream and Asher said, "I can't have that, it has cookies with flour in it!"  So the boys have really caught on and are doing well with it.  I'm proud of all of us.  I initially thought I would lose weight since I can't eat cookies or crackers, but now I think I'm going to gain weight, because I'm always eating since I never feel full.  I am such a carb addict!

On Sunday afternoon we went to an Easter egg hunt at a friend's house.  The kids had a great time finding eggs and eating chocolate.  We only do Easter if we are with Eric's parents, but the boys know it is a time for candy, so they weren't going to miss out on the opportunity.
Charlotte and her basket
 Monday was perfect spring weather.  The kids went to school in the morning, and I ran errands and tried to be efficient.
Charlotte is wearing my dress from when I was a baby as a shirt.  She got tons of compliments.
 In the evening, we had our first dinner outside. The kids played outside every waking minute, the TV was never on, and I hid all the iPads and they've stopped asking for them.  Everyone's mood was so good.  I keep thinking we should live somewhere where we can be outside more than half the year, but Eric says we're not moving.
Dinner outside
I turn 35 on Friday, which has had me in a snit all week.  I know 35 isn't actually all that old, but it feels significant somehow.  I was going to put the kids in school and take a girls' day with my mom, but there's no school on Friday, so I will spend my birthday with my beloved children, which isn't all that bad, either.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Asher and Benjamin are FIVE

Asher & Benjamin
I plan to do a longer post about each of the boys, but since I am already so belated in posting, I will just talk about their birthday and our weekend.

The boys' birthday was on Thursday.  Eric and I made a surprise breakfast for them for their birthday- homemade cinnamon rolls (to die for)!
Cinnamon Roll Cheer
happy face
Then I went to their class and joined them for Morning Meeting, which was fun for me. At the end of circle, I read the class "Benjamin and Tulip" by Rosemary Wells, which was one of my favorites when I was in preschool- I have fond memories of my dad coming to my class to read it to me on my birthday.  The kids really enjoyed it, and laughed at the funny pictures and text.  I went straight from there to work, worked 4 hours, then flew home to start on their birthday dinner.

I made risotto for dinner (Asher's favorite) and an Asian-style chicken in a lettuce wrap, which turned out to be popular only with the adults.  Then, because we hadn't had enough dessert in the past week, I made a chocolate cake so that each boy could have his own cake on his birthday.
The boys didn't come when I called them for dessert so these 2 other March Birthday Boys showed up in their place 
"Hey! That's MINE!"
The next day, Eric took off from work, and we went down to Washington, DC as a birthday gift for the boys.  Many of their friends have gone on exotic vacations, on planes and on cruises, and my poor unfortunate boys hadn't even stayed overnight in a hotel.  So we got 2 nights at the Embassy Suites, which has an indoor pool and breakfast included and visited our nation's capitol. We had a great trip.  We visited Air & Space in Dulles again (at the boys' request):
By the SR-71 Blackbird
In the Observation Tower
Swam in the hotel pool, enjoyed a pizza dinner out:
Benjamin & Charlotte ate more than I did!
and I went for a nighttime run through Georgetown:

The next day we had our free breakfast, in which all 3 kids ate nothing but Froot Loops, then met our friends and went to Air & Space on the Mall:
Going down into the Metro.  Charlotte panicked and had to be held!
Kind of looking at the exhibit
With the sunny and freezing cold Mall behind them
Going back up, out of the Metro
Swam some more, enjoyed cocktail hour with Shirley Temples:
Charlotte took "Color Monkey" everywhere we went
Went to dinner at Aunt Elana's and had a great time trying on a wig she had:
She couldn't stop laughing at herself in the mirror
We left Elana's late, and I dropped Eric and the kids at the hotel for bedtime while I went trolling for a free parking spot.  DuPont Circle on a Saturday night is not exactly the home of easy parking.  I drove around for at least 30 minutes, some of it in stop-and-go traffic, before I pulled into the hotel driveway, resigned to paying $45 for parking for the night.  But then the man at the front desk said, "So sorry, our lot is full! You will have to park around the block, at $35 a night."  So I thought, well, I just saved $10, but what a pain.  I got in the van and then started to pull out of the driveway- but wait! A spot on the street, directly in front of the hotel, open and free.  Really! I couldn't believe my luck!  I backed in and handed back the ticket to get into the overflow garage and saved $35.  By that time, it was bedtime, and that was it for my evening.

Today my sister jogged to the hotel, and then we went on a jogging tour of DC, past all the monuments and down the Mall.  Very scenic.
Elana in front of the Lincoln Memorial
The Washington Monument
The Supreme Court
We ran to our cousin Susannah's house and picked up our cousin Jess, then ran another 2.5 miles.  I ran 8.6 miles and Elana ran 9.6!  It was perfectly sunny, but so cold.  I am really done with this unseasonable weather, and totally ready for spring.

We played near Susannah's, then had pizza there for lunch, and then hit the road.  Asher slept the whole way home, but then crashed before dinner- flushed, tired, lost his appetite.  I am hoping it's just exhaustion, and not true illness.

The weekend was not without its bumps (it's hard to sleep all 5 of us in one room), but overall I had a great time and think everyone else did, too.  So far, the boys have said the best part of the whole weekend was the hotel, but that is fine by me!  I loved our adventure with our big 5 year old boys.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Benjamin & Asher's 5th Birthday Party

Today we celebrated the boys' birthday with a gymnastics party.  For the first time ever, we had their party before their actual birthday, because the next 2 weekends are their spring break, then Passover... so now seemed like a good time to do it.

We had a big crowd, and it was one of the first drop-off parties our kids and their friends have had.  For some kids, this was hard, because they wanted their parents with them.  But most kids seemed to do really well, playing together and following instructions.  We didn't get any great pictures (what's new, I really need to learn how to use my camera!), and the kids were in constant motion!

The party attendees had 60 minutes in the gym with gymnastics teachers, playing games and jumping.  Then they had 30 minutes in the "fun factory," which is climbing, tunnels, slides, and a ball pit.  Then we did a pizza lunch.

Charlotte looking with love at her best friend, Elliott.
Asher at the head of the pack
Benjamin on the run

Love that face!
Not so much that one...
I have cut back on the amount of work I actually do for parties (no more homemade buffets for 60), I still made each boy a homemade birthday cake.  Asher had a vanilla giraffe, and Benjamin had a chocolate tiger.  While I don't think my neighbor who runs a cake business needs to worry about me putting her out of business, I thought I did just fine.

We got a series of pictures of our family as the boys got ready to blow out their candles:
taking candles out of the cake...
Eric loves my face in this picture- Asher had touched the hot wax on his candle, and then threw it. He is screaming, I am screaming, and the candle is flying through the air.
We are inundated with gifts.  We have barely started opening them, but so far the boys have received some very nice things.  

One of the best parts of the day was when I was helping our party "hostess" set up for lunch and she told me that all the other employees were jealous that SHE had gotten assigned to our party- everyone wanted to work our party because they all know and love the kids.  I was so pleased- it is great to hear that our kids stand out in a place that sees hundreds of kids cycle through their gymnastics program.  And that they're recognized for their good manners and sportsmanship.  That was the big gift to me!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just a phase...

Asher walking Charlotte to the park

Boys having snack at the park

Benjamin walking Charlotte home from the park
This idea can bring me comfort, or fill me with fear.  Right now, we are in a really great phase.  I find myself enjoying the kids everyday, and taking great joy in the sweet and funny things that they say and do.  They are being great with each other- playing well, taking care of each other.  Charlotte insists on going to both boys for hugs and kisses before bed, saying "I say na-night my brothers!" The boys have been doing a lot of coloring and artwork, so instead of too much TV (which happens), they will often sit themselves down at their little table and color quietly.  They are eating well and mealtimes are less of a fight.  The boys are going to bed quietly and quickly at night and sleeping through till their alarm clock turns green.
"Hello, baby squirrels! Hello, baby birds!"
So while I use the phrase, "it's just a phase" to get me through all the phases I can barely tolerate (lying on the floor in front of the bedroom door and screaming while kicking the door rather than going to sleep in bed; waiting till after he's started pooping to tell me he needs to poop; taking off her pajamas at bedtime every night and sometimes her diaper too...), I hate to think that this easy rhythm is time-limited as well.  Once again, I'd like to freeze time and keep everything just the way it is.  Maybe just a while longer.

With the boys' 5th birthday looming, I'm going back into my overly-sentimental mommy mindset.  Remember when they were curled up tight in my belly?  Remember when they were itty bitty babies with skinny chicken legs?  Remember that time that I sat on the couch with a crying baby on each side of me, crying myself because I didn't know how to help them? Remember our first, hot summer, walking the hills of the neighborhood because it kept both boys content?  Where did the time go?  The phases we've been through- they all feel so conquerable compared to what is ahead.  The needs of babies seem so simple compared to things like the social ins-and-outs of kindergarten and managing schedules of multiple extra-curricular activities.

Will the day come where I don't look at them with wonder and awe, and marvel at who they are?  On the one hand, I hope not.  On the other, it makes me feel a little squeamish to think that my parents would still think of me that way!  In the meantime, I'm making sure to take several moments each day to capture them as they are in my mind, because I know this won't last forever.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recent humor

Sunday: it was warm but the boys still needed snow gear
The kids have been especially funny lately.  Here are some of the things they've said:

The boys somehow created an idea called "chicken muggets," which is chicken nuggets you eat out of a coffee cup.  I'm not sure that the idea will ever take off, but I love their growing grasp of language.
Charlotte at the zoo: June 2013
Charlotte at the zoo: March 2015
We were at the zoo, visiting the monkey house, which apparently provokes many profound thoughts. The baby monkey was playing with his butt, and I told the boys "that's something people don't do."  To which Asher replied, "Yeah.  But sometimes I play with my penis."

Then Charlotte started yelling, "stinky butt! stinky butt! stinky butt!" at the monkeys.  Great.  Embarrassing.  (She learned that from me, by the way. I called her that when I was changing a horrific diaper.)  My mom and I were kind of giggling and looking the other way, and then Asher yelled, "Jesus!" Which is also something he learned from me.  My mom and I got hysterical; laughing so hard we couldn't stand up, with tears rolling down our cheeks. So, I'm pretty sure I left the zoo with a "Mother of the Year" trophy.  Except that at the exit of the zoo, where they might have awarded it to me, Charlotte fell face-first out of the stroller on to the pavement.

On Friday night we went to a Purim party and were asked to come in costume.  I was saying to Eric that I have nothing to dress up in.  Benjamin said, "Mommy, you have lots of dresses in your closet, you could wear one of those." And Asher said, "Yeah, Mommy! You could go dressed as a LADY!"  I said, "Dressed as a lady?!?! What am I now?" and he said, "A mommy."

Sunday night Eric and I had a very belated Valentine's Day date (thanks to 3 straight weekends of snow storms) and I came downstairs in a dress and heels.  Charlotte jumped up when she saw me, rushed over to hug me and said, "Whoa Mommy! You look beautiful!"  What a charmer!

In ways that I really am doing something right, Benjamin went to the grocery store with me yesterday, and the song "Lips are movin'" came on.  In the song she says, "Tell me, do you think I'm dumb?" and I sang it.  Benjamin said, "What does dumb mean, mommy?"  Hurray for no insults in our house!

Today Charlotte was having trouble settling down for nap.  She asked for her black and white kitty, and she has 3. I handed them all to her and she put the least-loved, nicest-looking one aside and said, "Not this black and white kitty."  I said, "What's wrong with that kitty?"  She picked him up and looked at him, petted him, and said, "His fur... so nice and soft.  His tail... so nice and soft.  Not want this kitty."  The girl knows her own mind, but she is a mystery to me.

Charlotte has enjoyed dressing as a ballerina (or "burinna" as she calls it) for all the Purim festivities. She is adorable in her pink tutu and gets a lot of attention for being so cute.

I've been enjoying them all a lot lately, and appreciating their personalities and abilities. Asher and Charlotte are especially fond of each other.
Asher reading to Charlotte
They have all been so creative, and resourceful.  We went outside again today (two days in a row! Outside! With sunshine!) and the boys were playing in the mud.  My instinct was to say, "Don't play in the mud!" but then I realized- why not?  It's washable.
Benjamin yelling, "pickle!" while Asher digs up our front walk.
While I was getting dinner together, Benjamin and Asher played grocery store.  They took out play food, lined it up on the counter, and pretended to buy it.  Asher counted the items, Benjamin bagged them.  They were playing nicely together, and using their brains.  
At the grocery store
After dinner, Charlotte was quietly coloring in her Hello Kitty coloring book as our friend was leaving.  We said, "Charlotte, say goodbye!" and she looked up with this face:
 and said, "Goodbye!"  I guess someone loves her markers a little too much.

I don't know if it is the change in the weather or what, but I have just been able to enjoy my family over these past few days.  They are fun and funny, and we are having a great time.