Archive | January 2015

I’m not jealous

On my facebook feed yesterday, two different people announced they were having a baby.   Cute baby announcements, with the older siblings beaming.  And I wasn’t jealous.

That’s my normal response to baby announcements.  Jealousy.   Maybe not jealousy – maybe wistful is a better description.  A little bit oh-I-wish-I-was-pregnant-too going on.  But yesterday – nothing.

I felt… just, happy for them.  I remembered announcing my own pregnancies, and I thought about how happy the kids were when we told them that we were having Julianna.  I remembered when my mother accidentally let it slip to Jessie that I was having another baby, and how excited she got.  But I didn’t feel like I wanted to do it again.

I felt the way you do when someone shares an experience that you’ve had before and loved.  Happy that they get to experience too, happy that they reminding you of how awesome it was, and okay with not experiencing it again.  I felt content.  Happy with my three and not willing to do it again.

Typing that was hard.  Not willing to do it again?  If I’d said that after Sam, I would have missed Julie.  Can you imagine?  What am I giving up by not getting pregnant again?  By choosing, specifically, to not get pregnant again?  I’ve been very happy with my whole “maybe-some-day-but-definitely-not-now” answer for the “are you done yet?” question.  And probably that’s what we’re going to stick with.  But I’m used to a twinge of jealousy when it comes to pregnancy announcements, and yesterday was the first time that it didn’t happen.

I don’t know that I’m ever going to want to make a final decision on this.  I’m accepting that I may not ever be one of those women who can say “nope, never again” when the subject of pregnancy comes up.  But I’m moving ever closer to having the decision taken away from me.  I turned forty one earlier this week.  If I dawdle now, if I keep pushing it off, the decision will be made for me.  In September, all of my kids will be in school, and everything will be changing.

I loved being pregnant – which is not to say that I didn’t also sort of hate it.   Julie’s pregnancy was really awful, and I was on bedrest and flirting with preeclampsia by the time my midwife finally scheduled an induction.  But I still remember the moment each of my kids was born, and those first few days and weeks – when you’re exhausted and not sure you’re going to survive another night if you don’t get to sleep at least a little… and then as they get bigger and more fun – it’s been such a huge part of my life for these past twelve years – to not be starting over again… to be deliberate about not wanting to start over again – it’s a strange place for me, and I’m definitely not comfortable about it.  But I think it’s where I am now.

Literary Snapshots from the Blizzard of 2015

(Literary, because my camera isn’t working – and there are more than enough pics of three feet of snow dumped on us)

– The shock and dismay upon realizing that the heat is broken on Tuesday morning.  The blizzard hit late Monday night, and we woke up to SNOW everywhere.  But before I could get all swept away in the prettiness and wonder that goes along with waking up to a winter wonderland, I discovered that our heat wasn’t working.

– The further dismay upon realizing that a state of emergency had been declared, and there was no way that it was going to get fixed anytime soon.

– I baked.  A lot.  Two loaves of bread and I boiled a chicken.  And learned again that there’s a LOT of chicken on a chicken, if that makes sense.  I had a very busy sort of soup, with a ton of carrots, celery and onions – and then matzoh balls and noodles too, because why not just keep boiling stuff?

– The five of us, Marc, me, the three kids – it’s still kind of awesome being trapped in our apartment.  Julie and Sam played together blissfully almost the entire time, Jessie napped enthusiastically and she’s binge-watching West Wing.

– When the temperature in the house is ranging from 48-55 degrees for a few days, any progress we were making on getting over the cold stops altogether.  Jessie has been miserable and sick, and I’m feeling lousy too.  Sam is fine, and Marc is… starting to get sick again.  Julie never really got sick, but she’s still sneezing.

– Marc’s cousin found his old version of the game Axis and Allies.  Which is SO much cooler, apparently, than the version that we had, and he and Sam (and Julie) played that most of yesterday afternoon.

– Marc has concluded that he’s not playing Axis and Allies again with Julie until she’s 12.  At least.  And we learned a valuable lesson about why Shoots and Ladders and Princess Yahtzee are better games for my girl.

– One of the massive and major perks to renting as opposed to owning (in addition to the fact that I’m not responsible for paying anything for the heating snafu) is that the snow shoveling, snowblowing, all of that was pretty much taken care of for us.  Marc had to clean off the car and help shovel a little bit for our neighbors, but mostly – it was all taken care of by the college-aged brothers that live in the basement apartment.

– I don’t think the kids are going back to school until Tuesday.  I don’t think I’m going to drive until at least then.  We’re supposed to get another six inches of snow tomorrow into Saturday, which means that I’ll skip services and religious school, and then another storm (that may or may not just blow out to sea) on Monday.

– Which also means that I DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE MARC TO WORK ANYMORE.  His last day is on Saturday, and on Monday, he starts his new job in Westford.  And how he’ll get there… well, I’m going to pull a Scarlett O’Hara and just not think about that right now.

– The heat is still not working.  We’ve got space heaters everywhere, and the place is toasty, but the actual gas heat still isn’t working and nobody really knows why.  The landlord has been here for the past two days, the HVAC guys have been here and everyone’s working really hard, but… we still have no heat.  Several space heaters, so I’m not complaining…

– The roads are finally good enough so that Marc is out and about.  The Home Depot was closed on Tuesday and he had Wednesday off, so he was home.  But today he went back to work, and even dropped Sammy off at Harrison’s house for a playdate.

 

Turning 41 is SO much better than turning 40

I was scared to turn 40.  It seemed so momentous to me, like it was such a major milestone, and I wasn’t ready to meet it.

But turning 41, that’s just lovely.

I had the nicest of days today yesterday, given that I’m still kind of sick.  We’ve all had a bad cold, and it’s slowly made it’s way through the family.  Started with Marc, and he was down for most of last weekend.  Sam got it next, and missed Thursday and Friday of school.  I started to get sick on Thursday and have spent most of the past two days binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy on netflix.  Jessie’s got it now, and Julie – well, Julie either has missed it entirely or she’s been sick the whole time.  She claims that she’s very sick (actually, after watching the cold medication commercials, has taken to telling everyone she’s got chest congestion).

Massachusetts got one of the first big storms since Thanksgiving this year, and we were essentially snowed in all day.  Marc called into work, and we spent the entire day at home.  Marc made pancakes for everyone, Sam and Julie shoveled (a little bit), and then it devovled into a battle of whether or not they were going to make a snow fort, a snow bed, or a snow man.  Jessie stayed on the couch all day too.  Marc did everything, dishes, meals, most of the child corralling throughout the day.  He finished up the night by making chicken and homemade french fries, and then whipping me up a vanilla cake and homemade frosting for breakfast tomorrow.

This is what I wanted.  This is the dream.  And while I like to think that I’m always aware of how incredibly blessed I am, I really struck by it today.  Julie kept stopping what she was doing to come and purse her lips at me so that I could kiss her, and Sammy is in is room, making me some sort of birthday gift out of legos.  My husband worked diligently all day, bringing me tea and coffee and benedryl, and Jessie has been curled up next to me all day watching Friend’s reruns.  I’ve got this gorgeous, brilliant, incredibly kind husband who loves me more than anything.  I’ve got beautiful children, smart, funny, creative kids who make my whole world.

The dreaded cold

We don’t get sick all that often around here. My oldest had ear infections all the time when she was a baby, but other than that, we’re a relatively healthy family. My youngest has never been on an antibiotic, and I think Sam was once, maybe. Allergies – we all have some form of seasonal allergies, and Jessie has an allergy to dust mites (and a hard core love of stuffed animals, which doesn’t help…). My point is that we’re healthy.

Except… we’ve all got the dreaded cold. It started off with my husband. Marc is one of those people who doesn’t multi-task. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, kind of sums up a lot about the differences between us. He has incredible focus – and part of our family ethos is that if you want it done right, go to Daddy. If you want it done fast, go to Mama. Because he will focus and concentrate, think about the best way to tackle a problem, and then execute the solution. A perfect example is a bookcase that’s falling apart in my living room. The back is falling off, and it’s leaning dangerously to the side. Marc’s solution, upon examining it, was to plan to remove all 87,000 books, reattach the back painstakingly, and then he’d probably end up alphabetizing the books before replacing them. Mine was to shove the television stand into the bookcase, straightening it out. Not done right, and not a great long term solution, probably, but it did get it standing back up again.

What was the point I was going for again?? Oh yeah, the focus and multi-tasking. Marc got sick first. And he got SICK. Dizzy, congested, slightly feverish. He went to bed, and stayed there for two days. He was sick. I started getting sick yesterday (just in time for him to get better…) and I was lazy. I read a lot more yesterday, continued binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy repeats. But I didn’t go to bed, I just complained a lot. I got up this morning, popped a few advil and a sudafed, and am hoping for the best.

Sam’s home today, he’s been fighting off the same cold. Julie isn’t sick, not really. She’s probably a few days behind Sam in the development of the cold, and I’m on the fence whether I should send her to school or not. She’s not feverish, but I don’t know that I feel up to battling with her to get ready. Jessie, thus far, seems to be healthy, so she’s definitely heading off to school today.

Spring can’t come soon enough…

They Just Keep Growing

I had a moment last night, where all three of the kids were bopping around the house, and they all seemed SO BIG to me.   Each one wandered by me within the space of about ten minutes, and each one seemed somehow taller, more articulate, more… developed, for lack of a better word.  If you spend most of childhood becoming an adult, all three of them seemed to be so much further along that track than I think of them as being.

Jessie was in her room, happily hanging up her newest acquisition – a map of the world, with push pins denoting where she’d like to visit someday.  She’s grown a few inches lately, and we went out to get her some new pants earlier in the day.  But she hates shopping as much as I do, and we agreed that we’d put it off for a few more weeks.  Instead she bought a map, and another bulletin board/whiteboard combo to hang on her wall.  She’s got PLANS, my girl – and I love that she’d rather get a map than a new outfit.

Sam was on his second playdate of the weekend, this time with Harrison.  They had completely destroyed his bedroom, building some sort of zombie barricade (and stocking up on canned goods, bottled water and pop tarts, because that’s what you’d need if the zombies were coming).  He’s gotten taller too, and lost some of that little boy chub.  Sam grows out and then up, and always has.  He’s stretching out now, and with the new haircut he got last week – he suddenly looks so much older.

Julie – I still call her the baby, and I need to stop.  Because she’s not a baby anymore.  Not a toddler, almost not a pre-schooler anymore.  She’s a little girl, and I think I’m having the hardest time adjusting to that.  I still think of her as mine, and she’s becoming her own person more and more.    She’s writing her name (everywhere) and starting to learn the names and sounds of the letters and figuring out numbers.  Everything is new and exciting for her, it’s like she’s realizing how much STUFF there is out there to learn, and she’s so eager to soak it all in.

This is such a different stage for me, in so many ways.  Like, right now – it’s quarter after eleven, and all three of them are busy somewhere in the house.  Julie is writing on her whiteboard, after getting herself dressed in what she says is a matching outfit.  I didn’t suggest she get dressed, or suggest that she do a little writing – she did it all on her own.  Sam is in his bedroom, playing minecraft.  He got himself breakfast (poptarts and bottled water, no doubt, but he did it himself unprompted).  Jessie is holed up in her room, reading.  They’re all very content, very self-sufficient and somehow so much older than I think they should be.

Kindergarten

We’re almost there. Somehow, the fact that January came is now pushing the kindergarten enrollment into the forefront of my mind. My youngest will be starting full time school in September, and in a very real sense, my whole world is going to change. I’m facing some choices, like should I go back to work full time, or part time, or should I really focus on a free-lance writing career, or should I knuckle down and try and finish the book I started two years ago.

There are more changes than just the impending start of all of my kids in school. My husband is starting a new job, one with regular hours so he’ll be home all weekend. He’ll be gone pretty much all week long, leaving before the kids get up in the mornings and coming home probably post-dinner most nights, but he’ll be here on the weekends, and that’s a HUGE change for us. My weeks are going to change because I’ll be the only parent available during the day during the week. That factors into the decisions around working full-time as well.

I’ve got to think about summer camp, about getting my baby used to going places without me and being confident without me there. She’s great at preschool now, a little wistful at drop off, but mostly happy about going. But she’s going for two and a half hours twice a week. That’s not the same as going five days a week for six hours a day. We need to work up to that, I think. And while there are compelling reasons to send her to summer camp (it’ll help her get used to going, help her learn to be confident with other adults, and give her some structure so that school isn’t such a huge change in September), there are just as many reasons to keep her home this summer. It’s summer, and while there are definite disadvantages to having a full time SAHM (like less money, a less cool car, etc…) one of the advantages is that I’m home during the summer. They can sleep in, spend afternoons daydreaming outside under a tree, we can pick up and go on vacation or visiting with no planning, etc. Having the whole summer structured changes that.

I’m not sure what the summer or fall will look like for us. But once January comes, everything kicks into high gear, in terms of planning ahead for me. I’m excited to see what seventh grade, third grade and kindergarten means for my kids. I’m excited to see my husband thrive in a new industry, and I’m even cautiously excited about branching out of full-time motherhood for the first time in more than a decade.

Driving in the Snow

I’m old.

That’s the best explanation I can come up with.  I’ve turned into one of those little old ladies who’s afraid to drive when there’s snow coming down.

I scorned these women, in my not-so-distant-youth.  These wimps, these babies.  These hyper-afraid, making themselves weak women who insisted that they didn’t drive in the snow.  I vowed to never do that.   I would be tough.  Strong.  I would embrace living in New England, it snows, and that’s a part of life.

Then I moved to Worcester.

It took the better part of a decade to wear me down, but I’m officially throwing in the towel.  For the past four years, I’ve lived on two hills, and I’m terrified of driving down them when it snows.  Driving up them doesn’t scare me as much – I think gravity is on my side then.  But driving down them… nope, can’t do it.   Last year, I slid into a snowbank, and got the car stuck on the way to drop the kids at school.  I cracked the poor front bumper on the car, and while it didn’t affect the driving – it did make my car look stupid.   And now, that I’m driving a borrowed car – I’m that much more skittish about it.

I could burrow in, and simply refuse to drive, except that I’ve got three kids, and a husband, and two stepkids.  And commitments and obligations and dammit – they really can’t walk home in this.  So I brave the elements, shutting off the radio, and demanding that they speak only in soft tones and with utter and complete kindness in the car (as opposed to the normal snapping, screaming, sarcasm and hollering disaster that our rides can deteriorate into).  I try to look relaxed and calm, not tense and terrified.  Because the second my kids realize how much I really really am afraid that I’m going to slide right out into traffic – they’ll ramp up their own anxiety and then we’ll have a whole car full of fear.

So I’m out there, driving around.  Going miles out of my way to stay on flat ground and well traveled surfaces.  White-knuckled and going as slow as I can get away with – because I’ve learned the hard way that stepping on the brakes when the road is icy is hit or miss (literally).  And praying for springtime to come – because I love driving in the spring, when my only concern is that my hand starts to hurt from high-fiving the kids every time we see a forsythia bush.

 

Perspective Matters

That’s my theme for the year.

Because I don’t think things happen for a reason, I think crappy things happen sometimes for no reason at all. But I do believe that your perspective on it all matters more than anything else.

Each year, I read my blog from the year before.  One thing that really stuck out for me was this theme that I had at the end of 2013 and 2014 – which was that it was a really hard year, and I was ready for the next one.  And in that moment, when I was writing those posts, it really did feel that way.  It felt hard, and like it was an uphill battle all the time and I was ready for a plateau.

But there is no plateau – not really.  And the uphill battle really isn’t all that steep.  My challenges are nothing compared to what they could be.   The struggles and the angst – they really aren’t about anything life altering or scary.  It’s about paying the electric bill, wanting to move to a bigger place where I can get a dog.  It’s about challenging schedules, and being harried and stressed and busy, busy, busy all the time.  Is that really how I want to think about my life?  Is that how I want my kids to remember their childhood?  That it was hard, just hard, all the time, and the struggle really never went away.

But is that really a battle?  A struggle?  Or does it just feel that way, in the moment?  And if it’s just a matter of it feeling hard, then can I change that?

My marriage, after almost 13 years, is still vibrant and whole.  He’s still my best friend, my partner and the person I want most to be with.   That’s huge, and amazing, and if you’d told me, fourteen years ago, that I’d be here, now, I would never have believed you.

My kids are all healthy.  They’re all healthy.   Sam and Julie have never been on an antibiotic, and Jessie hasn’t been on one in years.  They all eat well, run around, are active and happy.  Jessie is blossoming into this lovely young woman, Sam is social, smart and loving going to school.  And my Julianna is writing her name everywhere, and identifying letters and is so ready for kindergarten.

My life is going to change a lot this year.  After more than a decade as a full time stay at home mom, my youngest will be in school full time.  I don’t know what that’ll mean for me, whether it means we should think seriously about another baby, or if I want to look for a part-time position somewhere, or if I should finally crack down and actually finish the book I’ve been trying to write for the past few years.  Marc is starting a new career, with new responsibilities, new hours and new goals.

My goal for this year is to remember that one phrase – perspective matters.  Because I have so very much to be grateful about, and so very little that’s an actual struggle or problem.  I don’t want to look back on 2015 and wish that it was better – I want to look back and know that it was one of the best years I’ve ever had.

2014 – My Favorite Posts

I don’t have a big blog, and it’s never been a blog that attracted a lot of comments.  Which is fine, I’m not complaining, but it does make it a big more challenging to do a “Here are the top blog posts from the past year based on the number of comments” sort of round up.  So what I did instead is a round up 0f my favorite posts from each month.

Here’s January.  This one is about my Sammy, and represented some pretty major growth on his part.  Last year was a big year for Sam in terms of being able to articulate his problems, and problem solve independently.

Shoveling

February was a good month for me, I had a hard time choosing.   Then I remembered that I could put whatever I wanted in.  So here’s one on Judaism, and my on-going struggle to fit in and figure out where I fit.  The second one is one of the more popular posts, and it’s one of my favorites as well.   The last one is one of my favorites on marriage, and what that looks like after 12 years.

A Good Jew

Parenting Fails

Twelve Years of Marriage

March was another month where I was thinking a lot about religion.  I’ve got a day-in-the-life one in there too, and I wish I had done more of those throughout the year.

Interfaith and Why It Matters

A Day in the Life

Here’s April. This was a month with Passover, Easter, and the attack on the JCC out in Kansas City.  It’s also the month my boy learned to ride his bike.

Passover and Kansas City

Sammy Can Ride!

And May.  Also known as the month that I suffer through Mother’s Day and realized that I can only assist with math up until fifth grade.

I don’t like Mother’s Day

Banned from math homework

June – the end of the school year, and a lovely mid-point to the whole year

Lunch with Grandpa

Polly Pockets and Junior High

July - I picked two for this month, one that’s Jessie’s favorite, and one that came from the heart about my cousin Bridgett.

Healthy Means Something Special for Me

Co-Sleeping Struggles – AKA Midnight Zombie Attacks

August

Why My House is a Disaster

Mothering an 11 year old

September – you can tell that my life got holy-moly-crazy once the kids went back to school, because my blogging activity went way down.  So if you stuck with me over the past few months, please know that I appreciate it, and I promise to do better next year.

My last weaning story

October

Confidence

November

Bring it on

December

Rearranging