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
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!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas 2014

We are home from spending Christmas with Eric's parents in Maine.  We went up on the afternoon of the 23rd, and the kids were SO excited to go to Memere and Pepere's.  We got in around midnight, and when the kids woke up at 7, dumped them on Eric's parents.  We got to sleep in until almost 9, and then waited for Eric's brother and his family to come over.  We are still trying to figure out what Christmas traditions work as our families have expanded over the years- it used to be Eric's parents, Eric, me, Eric's brother, and his wife every Christmas morning, but now that there are a total of 8 grandchildren with varying schedules, that doesn't work.  This year, our Christmas morning was on Christmas Eve morning, and everyone opened their presents and then we had breakfast.  Charlotte was very into it, and loved her gifts.
Opening presents
Quick learner
Her favorite present- an Elsa doll that sings "let it go"
We spent the rest of the day being lazy; the kids took long naps because they didn't sleep well in the car the night before.  I made my trip to Walmart, where I am always in awe at the quantity and variety of items they have there.

Christmas Eve is always spent at Eric's grandparents' house, and Santa visits us there.  Asher had a tantrum because "there is no food for me to eat!" at Eric's grandparents.  Eric's parents were ready to drive back to their house to get him an uncrustable.  I said NO WAY. Not humoring his crazy pickiness- there was plenty of food there for him to eat.
Charlotte with Aunt Annette behind her, Asher, Memere
 Charlotte was very excited when Santa came, because he called her name for a gift first.
Graciously receiving her gift
 But he only brings 1 gift per child, which Charlotte didn't understand.  She spent the rest of his visit standing in front of him, patiently waiting for more presents.
"More presents?"
 Then she got less patient, and started asking for more.  Benjamin was the last one to receive a gift, and he was very patient in waiting.
Benjamin gets a gift, and Charlotte tries to claim it!
 Then it was time for Santa to leave.  Which resulted in Charlotte crying big, fat tears because "no more presents."  Keep in mind, this poor unfortunate girl had just gone through 8 nights of Hanukkah and one birthday.
Tears and hand-wringing over no more presents
We got a picture of Great-Grampa and the great-grandchildren who were present, which was only 7 of the 13.  Charlotte is his only female biological great-grandchild (our nieces are adopted)- she broke the mold!
Benjamin snuggling with Memere. 
Poor Memere got a terrible cold, so she was more tired than she usually is.  Lucky for me, this meant that she let me make my mess in her kitchen and tried not to get too upset about it.  Saturday afternoon she sprang into action and started telling me to put my things away and clean up- she must have been feeling better!

Saturday night we had a birthday celebration for Charlotte and her cousin Chandler, who is 1 year and 1 week younger than she is.  I made her another Hello Kitty cake (I had made one for her birthday the week before) and Chandler got cupcakes.
"Hi Kee-kee!" cake
She blew the candles out herself!
On Sunday we packed up and drove home, through our friend's house in Plympton, MA, which is close to the Cape. They bought a cute little farmhouse a few months ago and we got to poke around- it is over 200 years old, and so full of charm and character.  We had a delicious lunch, and then headed home at nap time.  It took us forever to get home from their house, but got home right around 8.  It's always good to be home after time away, and we were all happy to sleep in our own beds.

Eric got an extra gift from his parents- his mom's cold! So he has been feeling lousy ever since.  Even so, we had a wonderful holiday, with no major crises, lots of fun, and lots of family time.  We are already getting questions about when we will have Christmas again, and Charlotte is STILL asking for more presents.  We are trying to wean off dessert for breakfast, but not having much luck- I think we are still at 3 desserts/day.

I am so delayed in posting everything- it has been crazy over the past month with holidays, travel, Charlotte's birthday, and I organized a bake sale at the kids' school... I'll catch up someday, I hope!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Charlotte: TWO years old!

Big, independent girl!
My baby was 2 on Sunday.  How can this be?  It seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital together, my brand new baby and me.  And now I have a big, smart, funny, beautiful girl.
Last night as a 1 year-old
Charlotte never ceases to amaze me.  She is such a happy, social girl, and people seem drawn to her wherever we go. She is talking more and more each day; she is up to 4-5 word sentences, and is like a little parrot. She'll say back almost any word I say to her, but often leaves out consonants in the middle of a word.  So "waffle" becomes "wah-ell."  Mostly I understand her, although this morning she was asking for "kisses" for breakfast and I couldn't understand what that was!  It is great that she's so able to communicate, which helps cut down on temper tantrums (sometimes). She can say her name, and tell you that she is 2.  She calls anything pink "my favorite color." I told her she was my baby and she said, "No baby! Big girl!"  She has always been in such a rush to grow up, that girl, and all I want to do is drag out her babyhood because she's my last baby.
Dessert: one of her favorite food groups
Charlotte's favorite foods are... impossible to predict.  She is no longer my eat-everything-baby- she changes her favorite foods from day to day.  She likes many fruits, and loves spinach and broccoli, and almost always loves pasta.  She detests all meats that aren't processed, which means she will spit out chicken, but devour sausage.  She likes pizza ("tee-ta"), cereal, eggs, cheese, and sometimes yogurt.  I think her favorite food is mac and cheese, because that is what she asks for the most.

As with her favorite foods, Charlotte changes her favorite stuffed animal from day to day.  Instead of always taking her Kitty Cat with her, sometimes she takes a rabbit ("raddit") or a small white kitty.  Lately White Kitty gets taken out on the town, but it's always Black Kitty who she wants when it's nap or bedtime.  She just got a gift of a big Hello Kitty doll and calls her "Hi Kitty!"  Her enthusiasm about everything is contagious and adorable.
Every birthday party needs a tutu
She is certainly a girl.  Besides loving pink, she loves pretty dresses and tutus.  She likes to dance in her dresses and twirls like a ballerina with her arms over her head.  She loves dolls.  But- she also loves cars and trucks and playing with her brothers.  She's pretty sure she is 4 years old and can do anything that they do.

Charlotte does like to watch TV.  Her top 2 shows right now are probably Animal Mechanical (pronounced "Amuhl Camuhl" and as bad as the title implies) and Care Bears.  But it kind of seems like she'll watch anything that comes on!
Playtime in the tubby
Everyone adores Charlotte.  Her brothers mostly dote on her, but they also take advantage of her younger age by bossing her around and blaming accidents on her.  I think she knows she's getting unfairly accused, and one night Eric heard her in her crib scolding all her stuffed animals.  "No, no, no Raddit.  No, no, no Kee-kee.  No, no, no Pih-ee."  But her brothers worry about her and take care of her, and often defer to her tantrums because we all hate to hear her cry.  One morning we heard Charlotte in her crib, and I didn't rush in to her, but Asher did.  When I came in to get her, he was sitting in her crib with her, talking and laughing.  She can be very bossy with them, and possessive of Mommy and Daddy, but for the most part, they let her get her way.
Playing at her party with her friend Elliott
Charlotte has developed a love of the words "NO!" and "My's!" (for mine).  Eric described her as willful, but also confident, with a mind of her own. The he said, "how many different ways can you say that she's perfect?"  She is a wonderful girl, a wonder, a miracle, a blessing, a marvel. How is it possible that we could make such a delicious and beautiful girl?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekend Away

Eric & me
Eric and I went away for the weekend- to New York City for my friend Amanda's wedding.  It was our first time away together since before Charlotte was born, and our first time spending more than 1 night away together since we had kids!  It was made possible by the help of our family and friends- my parents took the kids Friday night and early Saturday morning; my sister did Saturday into Sunday; Jane and Ed did Friday night dinner, Saturday night dinner, and Sunday morning breakfast; our friend Geoff took the boys to a classmate's birthday party on Sunday.

We had a GREAT time.  It helped that the whole weekend was planned and provided for by Amanda, her husband Brad, and their families, so we went from one delicious meal with an open bar to another.
Flat Iron at sunset
We took the train up on Friday afternoon, and did some work on the train.  We were staying at my mom's cousin's apartment at 37th and Park, which ended up being a very walkable location for most of our weekend activities.  We started by walking to Rent the Runway for me to get a cocktail dress for the night- I found a dress, but we ended up race-walking back up Park Avenue to get ready for dinner.  As is the way when you're already late, everything took too long.  I needed new pantyhose and there was a line down the aisle at Duane Reade; the first train that came through our station didn't stop and the train we did get on kicked us off 2 stops before our destination; we started walking the wrong way on Canal... We did get a cab and I was changing my pantyhose in the backseat, and double-sided taping my dress to my bra while we rode!
my Friday night dress
Friday night dinner was fun- we got to catch up with old friends, and I toasted the bride and groom.  We did try to get home a little early (10:30) since we knew we had so much we wanted to do the next day, and that the wedding would go late.

Saturday was perfect.  The weather was sunny and not too cold.  First thing, I went for a 5 mile run, up 5th Avenue and through Central Park and back down again.  I got to look at the store windows decorated for Christmas without inconveniencing Eric.  After my run and a shower, we went out to breakfast together, and then walked down toward the Flat Iron district.  We did Hanukkah shopping and shopped for ourselves (but didn't get anything. I looked at the things I want most for Hanukkah- Chloe perfume and cold-weather running gear- but didn't buy).  Then we parted ways. I went to one of Amanda's husband's offices (he runs a huge company, which is impressive, given he isn't even 30 yet) where there was a company called the Glam Squad set up to do hair and makeup for everyone.  There was Prosecco, coffee, sandwiches, small desserts... Amazing.  Back in college we drank cheap "champagne" and ate who knows what as we got ready together- Amanda has clearly moved up in the world!

I have never had both my hair and makeup professionally done, not even for my own wedding, and it was great- I felt so beautiful.  After hair and makeup, I went back to the apartment where we were staying to get ready for the wedding.  My parents were there, too.  We got ready and left with what seemed to be plenty of time.
my hair- loved it
But Saturday was a big day in New York.  Not only was there a large protest/march against police brutality, it was also Santa Con, which apparently means lots of people go around the city dressed like Santa/reindeer/elves and get stinking drunk and/or high.  All this translated to: not a cab to be found.  Well, we got one cab to pull over but when we told him where we were going he said it was "too close."  So we walked.  I was in 4 inch heels.  I couldn't do it (we walked 6.5 avenues west and 6 blocks south), so I poked my head into a nail salon and paid $1 for the cheap foam pedicure flip flops.  So I speed-walked all the way to the wedding in a long gown, a vintage fur stole from my great-grandma, and pedicure flip flops.  People were laughing at me the whole way there (and I was laughing at myself!) but I had to save my feet for dancing.
cross-town trek in pedicure flip-flops
The wedding was gorgeous!  Candle light, rose champagne, natural touches.  It was especially wonderful because it was so clear that the bride and groom were in love, and that their families were happy with the marriage and all got along.  There was no tension (that I was aware of or that was obvious) and everyone seemed genuinely thrilled to watch Amanda and Brad get married.  There was endless food and endless celebration.

We had so much fun- I had to take my shoes off to keep dancing.  I also felt great. I loved the dress I had rented from Rent the Runway (and so did Eric) and I felt so beautiful.  I probably felt as beautiful as I did on my own wedding day, or more, because now I feel especially proud of myself for getting back into shape after 2 pregnancies.
the back of my dress. I felt so pretty
Sunday was a brunch (more food! and mimosas!) and we were all running low on energy.  We left around 11 and got home around 1 to a house full of love bugs who had missed us.  It was great to be home- but being away definitely felt energizing and exciting.  I think we will have to do it again sometime sooner than 2 years from now.

And one of my best friends in the world is now happily married to a great guy.  I thought a lot over the weekend about how well things have turned out for all of my close friends from college.  We have married great guys; entered into meaningful and enjoyable careers; had beautiful, healthy children.  It was a gift to watch Amanda get married; after hours and hours of phone conversations over the years about love and heartbreak, she has married her perfect match.  I was so honored to be a part of all of it.