Friday, May 15, 2015

Benjamin: 5 years old

Big, serious eyes on that sweet little face
My little Boo Buddy (how much longer will he let me call him that?).  Right now, Benjamin is my easiest child.  He very infrequently makes trouble.  At many points, he was the trouble-maker- I remember him kicking all night long in his crib, he is always the first to drop a nap or cut back on sleep, and he had trouble with potty training and transitions.  Right now, Benjamin is easy going.  He often seems unfazed by things (maybe because he doesn't actually notice them?  He is often out to lunch!), and will take care of himself.  I know there were times where he was more temperamental, but I can't think of any recent incidents where he has acted out or been trouble for me.  He is showing such maturity for a little guy- he is good at negotiating and sharing and just seems content with the way things go.

He never makes a big deal or a scene (unlike his siblings).  One night we were out at dinner and the kids got a scoop of ice cream with their meal. Benjamin ordered Mint Oreo ice cream and Charlotte ordered strawberry. After Benjamin tasted Charlotte's strawberry ice cream, he started to cry. Not loudly, not saying a word, just tears running down his cheeks. It turned out he liked strawberry and not mint and had changed his mind.  Such sweetness- the waiter got him a scoop of strawberry right away.
Selfie by Benjamin
Benjamin loves to read to himself and to be read to. He will often bring a book and sit on my lap so that we read together. He easily plays with Legos or cars by himself.  Like his daddy, Benjamin is interested in video games and will play Minecraft or Angry Birds on the iPad if I let him. He's good company and will stay with me in the kitchen if I cook, and loves to go on walks and to the playground.  His favorite thing to ask is "Where does (insert item here) come from?  How is (insert item here) made?" Most of the time I don't actually know the answer, but I love his curiosity. He is also interested in which animal his meat came from, which gives me pangs of guilt when I tell him.

We both love all food, and Benjamin has a great appetite.  He asked for artichoke for dinner the other night!  He eats pretty much everything we feed him, and will almost always eat what he has asked for, and then some.  He is slow and methodical in his eating, but I get such a kick out of watching him work his way through a plate full of food.  Despite the fact that he eats more than twice what his brother and sister eat, he is fairly small and slight.  He told me yesterday that he is smaller than Asher because he doesn't nap, and that nap time helps Asher grow bigger.

Benjamin's brain always seems to be working, and he has a good memory.  He is still having trouble with his pronunciation- he usually leaves off the "s" at the beginning of a word if it is followed by a consonant, meaning "stop" becomes "top."  He also leaves out the "r" that follows a consonant, so "treat" becomes "teat" and "gray" becomes "gay."  Yes, Eric and I are completely immature and got hysterical when Benjamin came downstairs in gray sweatpants and a gray t-shirt and said, "My outfit is so gay!"  Eric and I try hard to correct him, and Benjamin has learned to talk around the words he mispronounces, or to use synonyms.  For example, when Benjamin called a tree a "tee," Eric tried to get him to say the r, by slowly saying "Tuh-ree, Benjamin.  Tuh-ree."  So Benjamin said, "bush!" Since I told Benjamin that his friends in kindergarten will have a hard time understanding him if he doesn't say his words correctly, I have noticed him making a more concerted effort to pronounce things more clearly.
Monkey on the monkey bars
I am assuming the boys will be separated when they get to kindergarten, which is hard on me.  I asked Benjamin if he wanted to be in the same class as Asher, or a different one, and he said, "Different!  Asher is so bossy!" but then quickly changed his mind.  I'm planning to do whatever the school recommends, and Benjamin will find a way to speak for himself, I am sure.  At home, Asher often bosses him around and tells him what to do.  Benjamin generally ignores him and keeps doing whatever he wants, but he will sometimes tell Asher to stop telling him what to do.

Since Benjamin is my least-demanding child, I worry I will lose him in the shuffle, so I try to make a point to seek him out and give him my attention.  We do get our one-on-one time while his siblings nap, and I do give him hugs and kisses as often as he'll let me.  I also compliment him on his exemplary behavior frequently.  Which has resulted in him looking for rewards and asking, "So what do I get for making good choices?"
Helping me bake while his siblings napped
I just re-read my post about Benjamin from when he turned 4, and so little has changed!  It is nice, in a way, to see that my children are developing consistent personalities.  Especially because I like their personalities so much!  Benjamin is a wonderful child.  He seems to care about his family and friends, and enjoys their company, but is also able to be by himself without anyone entertaining him.

Here are the things I love about Benjamin: the way he always tries to sit on my lap or Eric's lap when we eat even if he starts out in his own chair; his little lips when he eats and talks; his beautiful smile; his big, serious eyes; his quiet consistency; the way he always surprises me by knowing something I had no idea he knew anything about; his little hands and fingers and the way he is so steady and strong in using them; the fact that he still sings the 4 questions despite not singing a single one at seder.  I am so impressed with the boy he is becoming, and I am so lucky that my son is such a sweet, smart boy.

Here is what I said to Benjamin tonight: "How did you get so wonderful? You are such a wonderful, smart, kind, loving little boy. I love you so much, do you know that?" To which he wrapped his little spaghetti arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two days

Here are pictures from the past two days, in an effort to capture the kids, their personalities, their beauty, and the fun we have.

Friday ice cream treat after a picnic lunch at the playground:
Benjamin, slow and steady, with an ice cream goatee

Asher finished his cone in no time with no mess, then hopped on my back like a monkey

Asked after this, "Mommy, I have a little ice cream on my face?"
 Friday night, after dinner at our friends', we went to the carnival.
Waiting for the first ride- a roller coaster!

Strapped in and ready to go

The boys are in the middle, you can see Asher's white shirt
 It was a success! They smiled and had a great time- so different from when we came 3 years ago.  Then Asher and I rode the Ferris wheel. Charlotte said she wanted to ride with us, and waited patiently for a long time. Then the second her tush hit the seat, she bounced up and said, "I don't want to ride the Ferris wheel!"
Daddy and Charlotte waving to us from below

Mommy and Bear high in the sky
 Charlotte finally got on a ride- little cars. She is on a pink car, and her friend Reid is behind her, with the boys behind him.

Today I took the kids to the zoo while Eric went on a bike ride.  It was perfect weather- overcast but not cold.  We barely saw any animals and mostly stood in place and ate snacks, or posed on statues.
Benjamin looks pretty hip here. Asher picked out his own outfit

Love my pink lady
Tonight we went to a neighbor's birthday party and sat outside in the beautiful weather. We read books before bed, all 3 kids piled on to my lap, slipping off and climbing back on.  Last night I cried- after seeing the teenagers at the fair, I panicked at the idea of my babies growing up, becoming awkward, preferring a night out with their friends to a night home in my lap.  Preferring to seek out the kiss of a romantic interest instead of my maternal love.  It's all flying by, going so fast.  I get such pleasure from their achievements and their steady development, but please, don't let them grow up too quickly.  Their precious little bodies, their soft skin, their high-pitched voices, their trust in me and belief in good- I want it all to last.  I'm heartbroken that it won't.  I only hope that they always know how much I love them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Broad St Run 2015

Pre-race- we got there 6 minutes after the race started and still had 30 minutes to wait
Sunday I ran the Broad Street Run for the 3rd year in a row.  It's the way I got started running, and now I really look forward to it.  We had perfect weather, too- sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and really not too hot until the end of the race.

The first year I ran it, my time was 10:05/mile; this year it was 9:31. I am not sure how significant that change is, because it doesn't seem like a huge deal, but I am getting faster each time I run.  I started out even faster, but lost steam around mile 6-7.  Mile 7-10 are always my least favorite, so maybe it was a psychological thing? The sun getting hotter? I just couldn't wait to be done!

I'm now registered for 2 more races, both half-marathons, both of which I did last year.  Just to keep me moving.  It feels like quite an accomplishment to run all those miles.  Yesterday I saw a spectator with a sign that said, "Run with gratitude- each mile is a blessing" or something like that.  It was just what I needed, to remember that I am so lucky to have this body, my health, the ability to run those 10 miles on my own two legs. Even though there are 40,000 people who run that race every year, not everyone can, and I am grateful for that.
Attempt to capture some of the thousands of people who ran
Selfie by City Hall with Alex
Since the race, I haven't felt great- I started with a sore throat on Sunday night and then felt achy, sore, and tired all day Monday.  Over the course of the day today I began to feel better, but still not myself- a little sniffly and congested. I am not sure if the lack of sleep (pre-race anxiety) and all the exertion of the race took a toll or what.

Post-race selfie with Alex
Jess, me, Alex
3 years in a row of running Broad Street- it really is a fun race and I look forward to all the crowds, music, and excitement along the course.  I'm already looking forward to next year!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Catching up

I realize that I have once again been deficient in posting.  Here are some recent events:

I turned 35. The day itself was pretty uneventful, but it ended nicely with a big dinner out with my parents and Eric.  We ate a lot of good food and laughed and enjoyed each other's company.  Then I managed to drag out the birthday celebrations a little by taking the following Friday to do a girls' day of shopping with my mom, and next week I'm going out with my girl friends for dinner.  Eric gave me a groupon for Botox for my birthday, and I got my first injections on Monday.  I am pretty sure it is working, which is nice. I feel younger already.

Eric turned 35. To celebrate his birthday he bought himself some new cycling shoes and enjoyed a bike ride with his friends in beautiful weather while I took the kids to the Cherry Blossom Festival.  He took the boys for their first race in a series of "Healthy Kids Running Club" races, and then we grilled outside and ate cake- I had made Eric a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and my mom made me a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

We had a visit from Eric's parents, who brought our nieces with them.  The girls are so independent and helpful, and it's always fun to have them. Our kids adore them!  With them, we got beautiful weather both days.  Saturday we took a picnic lunch to Chanticleer and toured the gardens, just enjoying being outside in the warm sun after our long winter.  Saturday night we grilled and ate outside, and then on Sunday I went to the zoo with Eric's mom and all of the kids.

Selfie by the water table
Asher and Taylor
showing off blossoms
Another Mommy-Charlotte selfie
The most memorable part of our zoo trip was lunch- a goose came over and got extra-interested in the kids' rice krispie treats.  I wasn't watching closely, but there was a scream from Charlotte, and she said, "It pecked me!"  She said it pecked her tummy, but one of the boys said it was her finger.  She was crying and clinging to me like a little monkey, when all of a sudden, I heard a crash- Asher had climbed into the stroller, which was on a hill with the diaper bag on its back, and the whole thing came crashing down.  Asher just sat there, stunned, Charlotte kept screaming and crying, Asher started to cry, and Pat and I just burst out laughing.
Myah and Charlotte wore matching shirts and got lots of compliments
The 5 kids by the bears
Eric and his dad stayed home and worked on our garden.  Poor garden only gets attention from Steve, and he hadn't been in a year! I am eager to see what bulbs he planted for me when they come up this summer.

We have tried to make the most of whatever good weather we get. This week turned cold again, and it seems like spring has frozen.  Spring is so late this year- it is the end of April and the trees do not yet have leaves; the azaleas aren't even close.  At least spring paused while all the cherry blossoms are out, so we've had an extra week to appreciate them (that is really looking for the silver lining- what I'm really thinking is- COME ON, I DON'T WANT TO WEAR MY WINTER COAT AT THE END OF APRIL!).

On Monday we had friends over for lunch, and what had been a rainy day turned sunny.  We put on boots and stomped in puddles, and the kids ended up going on a worm-hunting mission.
Puddle jumping
Worm hunting
Friday I took the kids to the Please Touch museum.  They played nicely together- having 3 kids makes every trip an adventure with friends, which I love.  The boys tried on different costumes:
Post man
Construction workers
I will leave it to you to guess which of these careers my stereotypical Jewish-mommy self finds acceptable...

The kids had fun playing at home today. No matter how fast we try to clean up, they are working against us.  They got into the box of winter gear that had not yet made it to the attic.
Trying on winter hats
"Meow! I'm a kitty cat!"
We had friends over for dinner tonight, which is always fun. We put the kids in one room and ignore them while we drink wine in the dining room.  So nice.  I made baked ziti and cookie bars, which was great because I had no prep work or cooking when our guests were here.  Tomorrow we have family day- a weekend day with all 5 of us and no major obligations.  Time is flying by so fast- in one week I have the Broad Street Run again, which I am really looking forward to.  I just love that feeling of crossing the finish line!

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.