I haven’t posted in a while… it’s been fairly hectic around here. Jess has been going thru a stage that basically involved a lot of tears. Over everything. It was insanely frustrating – because I was completely clueless on how to handle it. On the one hand, I want to be supportive and loving and always available for her to tell me her problems. But on the other hand, I didn’t want to be feeding into the drama (once she literally cried because her ceiling was white). She was falling into the habit of declaring every day to be the worst one in her life, and coming home and listing out all of the ways in which her life sucked. And crying about it.

And it’s draining. For me, anyway. Because when she’s upset, I’m upset, and it freaked me out that she was so unhappy. About nothing. There wasn’t really anything major going on that I could tell. She was doing well in school, if anything, she seemed to be suffering from too many friends. I was stalking her teacher, calling the guidance counsellor, talking to the pediatrician because I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to handle her emotions. I didn’t like sending her to her room to cry, but mostly, that’s what we did. Because when I put any energy at all into it, it just got worse, she got more dramatic and more intense about it. So I’d tell her that I loved her and wanted to hear about her problems, but that she had to be able to do it without crying and ship her into the bedroom. Which would immediately result in tears and stomping and door slamming, which just made me mad, leading to her getting more upset. It was a vicious, draining, infuriating cycle and while we’re not out of the woods yet, the past three days have gotten a lot better. She’s gone to school without a problem, and the afternoons are, not perfect, but she seems to be on a more stable emotional plateau.

Jess is a complicated girl. She’s so bright, and so intense, emotionally, that I think it’s legitimately hard sometimes to be her. It’s certainly hard to be her mother at times. She wants so badly to be independent, picking out her own clothes and going to bed on her schedule, eating when and what she wants – and sometimes it’s a real battle to get her to do what I know she has to do (i.e. not eat M&Ms; for dinner, go to bed at a reasonable hour, not wear shorts when it’s twenty degrees out). She told me last night that what she wants most in the world is just freedom. From me always running her life. She’s six. Six.

And I don’t think I’m all that controlling. I let her pick her own clothes, within reason. I don’t let her eat too much junk, but I’m certainly not all that tough about it. She does her own hair, picks out her own stories… but she’s still struggling with having to do what I say. But then she’ll turn around and be so sweet and so eager to please. She seems to seek out my approval when she isn’t shoving me away, and it’s tough to keep up. The other day, she accused me of always wanting to make her be like me, putting her hair in ponytails and dressing her in jeans, just because I like ponytails and jeans. And it was so mean, the way she said it. I caught my breath for a minute, unbelievably hurt that my precious little love was saying that me, this pretty angel girl who thought I could control the sun – wanted nothing to do with being anything like me. But she’ll cuddle in my lap every night to go to sleep, and wake up in the middle of the night, wanting me to sing her back to sleep with hugs and kisses.

I hated being a kid. Granted, I had a few more extenuating circumstances, my parents were getting a messy ugly divorce, we were constantly worried about money, and I had Scott and the little kids, but still… childhood was not my favorite time. I keep reminding myself of that – I think that Jess is a lot like me in that regards. She wants control, she wants the power that comes with being able to determine her own destiny. Unfortunately, she is still six – so we’re just going to have to tough it out for another ten or twelve years…

We’ve been struggling with school issues and emotional drama all over the place. Jessie has started really disliking school and crying (screaming hysterically sometimes) at the prospect of going. We’re trying to figure out what the problem is, and as far as I can tell, she’s just really, really serious about the little playground politics that go on. This friend broke up with another one, this boy thinks she’s adorable, a founding member of the Tinkerbelle Lunchbox Club (Jess is the other founding member) has started brown bagging it. I’ve been stalking her teacher and the guidance counsellor to try and figure out the root of her misery and what, if anything, we can do to make this kid like going to school. She’s doing fine academically, excelling even. And behaviorly, she’s a ‘model student.’ But… the tears.

Jess is just a really emotionally intense kid. Be it joy or misery, whatever it is, she likes to throw herself wholeheartedly into it. And this morning was so very nice, because she woke up cheerful, ate three bowls of cereal, got dressed, let me put up her hair and actually went outside to practice her dance routine before school. It was fabulous. She was cheerful, happy, interested in everything. Why can’t every day be just like this?

Sam is still asleep, and my house is, per usual, in shambles. Off to do dishes and laundry…

Normally, I’m pretty sunshiney happy, but today is not going well. I’ve got a ton of cleaning because I wasn’t home over the weekend, and both my kids are miserable and overtired after a busy couple of days.

Friday night was Shabbat, and it went very well. My father in law came over, we had a nice dinner, the kids were loud, chaotic and someone upended a salad all over Jessie’s bed. So I stayed up late cleaning, postponing bedtime. But the floors were vacuumed, the bed was cleaned out and remade, and I got all the dishes done.

Saturday we went to services in the morning, then had to yank the girls out of Hebrew School to accomodate Lilli’s dance class. Marc’s ex signed her up for Saturday dance class, and of course, never takes her, so we’re constantly having to rush out of the synagogue to drop her off. Then we went to the library, picked up Sam and Glennys from Annie’s house and went to my sister’s house. We had dinner there, and it was again, lovely. I always like going anywhere other than here for dinner (no cooking and no dishes). Got home late (again) and put the kids right to bed.

Sunday, I took Jess with me to Boston for the day to attend the American Baby Expo. We signed up for all kinds of free stuff, and had a really nice time. Marc was here with Lilli, Sarah, Glennys and Sam – and here’s where the problem comes in. For reasons that I still don’t understand (despite numerous conversations where Marc has tried to explain it to me) when I’m not here, it’s simply impossible to keep the kids from destroying my house. I came home to a sink filled with dishes, six loads of laundry (at least), a dining room table covered in dishes, toys, empty food containers and toys tossed every which way with no rhyme or reason to any of it.

And this morning was just yucky – Sam is overtired and cranky, we had to drag Jess kicking and screaming out the door to school and I’ve been cleaning all morning and am not even close to being done. I’m frustrated and tired.

Check back tomorrow for more sunshiney happiness and joy. Right now, I’m just resentful, angry, and overwhelmed with cleaning.

Again, totally copying off of one of my favorite blogs (http://blog.wantingwhatyouhave.com/), I think I’ve signed up for the Ultimate Blog Party. I’m supposed to do an introductory post (50 Random Facts About Me??) and add that little button onto the blog. Not sure what happens after this – but I like the thought of a party 🙂

1. I’m thirty five years old, and not entirely sure how I feel about that. I think I’m pretty happy about it, I really like where I am in my life.

2. I’m very happily married to a man I think is uniquely suited to me. And I think I’m uniquely suited to him. The qualities I wanted most in my dream husband are the ones he possesses in abundance.

3. I’ve been pregnant three times, one miscarriage of twins, one daughter, one son.

4. My daughter is six years old, and there is nobody I feel closer to on a lot of levels. We don’t always mesh perfectly, but I always understand exactly what she’s feeling, and have since she was born. Getting her to do what I want is another story…

5. I really thought my son was a girl before he was born. We specifically didn’t find out, but I KNEW he was a girl. And spent the first day or so after he was born a bit confused as to what to do with a son.

6. My husband feels the same way about my son as I do about my daughter. Which I think is nice.

7. I feel incredibly guilty if I leave my kids. I do it – but dropping them off with someone is NEVER easy, and I always want to back out of whatever plans I’ve made that don’t include them.

8. My son will be three in July, and I have a feeling that he’ll still be nursing.

9. I’m kind of a breastfeeding snob. I (silently) judge people who don’t nurse their kids. I’m not happy about this, I’d like to be all ‘live and let live’ about it, but the longer I’ve nursed my son, the more judgemental I get about it. I really think it’s the only way to feed an infant, and you should nurse until the child is ready to quit.

10. I really want my son to wean on his own. And am doing everything I can to encourage it.

11. I’m extremely close to my mother. We talk three or four times a day, and I hope to have the same relationship with both my children.

12. I’m a stepmom to my husband’s two daughters from his first marriage. It’s not a role that’s always easy, and I’m always trying to get better at it.

13. I’m really afraid of things that fly. Birds, bugs, butterflies – they all freak me out. I’m afraid the birds will bite me (do you know how much pressure the average parrot can exert with his beak? Scary) and I had a hornet once fly into my hair and get stuck.

14. My sister is six years younger than I am – and while I don’t always understand the bond between us, we’re so different, it’s one of the strongest ones I have.

15. I have two brothers, and don’t really talk to either of them. One on purpose, and one just because neither one of us puts the effort into it. I’m okay with both situations.

16. I have a stepfather and two stepsisters. I am a stepmother and a stepdaughter. Odd.

17. One of my secret fears is having my sister and cousin put me on that “What Not to Wear” show.

18. I secretly believe that I could, in fact, walk on water, if I could just manage to suspend the belief that I couldn’t. If that makes any sense.

19. I think I might be turning into a Republican. I’m not sure, but am no longer a hard core Democrat.

20. I love putting my kids to bed. Feel a little guilty because I don’t do it the way I’m supposed to – but we all snuggle up in the recliner and I cuddle them until they doze off.

21. I hate cooking. And dishes. And am perplexed because so much of my life is cooking and dishes and I’m perfectly okay with that.

22. I really like staying home and not working. As much as I’m still proud to call myself a feminist, I live this very traditional, Mommy at home in the kitchen, husband off to work, paying all the bills sort of life.

23. I worry sometimes that my kids are getting the message that there is women work and men work and they aren’t the same thing, simply because I always do the dishes and Marc always kills the bugs. But I don’t want to kill the bugs or nag Marc to do the dishes.

24. I’m not very friendly. I’m not unfriendly, but I’m really kind of shy and don’t like to ask a lot of questions or assume that people want to tell me stuff. I’d much rather other people make the effort to be friends. I like to listen and talk and hang out, but am not good at starting off friendships.

25. Then again, I let a really good, long friendship die – so maybe I’m not all that good at being a friend either.

26. I’m a really good wife and mom.

27. I realized soon after getting pregnant that I couldn’t keep putting everyone else ahead of my own family. That’s now my criteria – is this what’s best for my kids? It’s not always the deciding factor, but it’s always a major priority.

28. I don’t like shoes. Don’t like wearing them, don’t like buying them. Am frustrated that you have to wear them all the time in public.

29. I don’t like coats either, now that I think of it.

30. I’d almost always rather stay home with a good book.

31. The quickest way for me to relax is to open a book. I read them incessently. I’ve usually got two or three that I’m reading at any one point.

32. I really want another baby. I’m not desperate yet, but can feel the yearning.

33. I love being pregnant. I feel like crap thru it (or did every time before) but it’s still one of my favorite times in my life.

34. I’m very low maintenance on a daily basis. Husband’s t-shirts, cut offs and a ponytail is my uniform.

35. I think it’s magic the way I wake up before one of my kid’s does. It’s like I hear them thinking about waking up and pop awake.

36. I sing all the time, despite having a terrible voice. Mostly I make up lyrics to the tune of My Little Sunshine. I don’t know why, but that’s a really adaptable melody.

37. I’m converting to Judaism, and wish it was over and done with already. I feel like I’ve been doing it FOREVER.

38. I hate it when my mother complains about my living in the “city.”

39. I get all freaked out when my house is a mess. If my house is a mess, and there are people in it not helping me clean, it gets worse. My standards are low (dishes done, laundry done, floor vacuumed) but they are standards.

40. I have a really hard time not jumping in with Jess when she’s upset about something. Even though I know that when I get upset, it just makes it worse.

41. I think Sam’s adorable when he’s most angry. He literally jumps up and down over and over again – it’s great.

42. I let my son play with toy guns. Marc feels really strongly about it and I feel really strongly about letting Marc make that decision. Even though it makes me crazy.

43. I still think homeschooling Jess would have been the right decision. And think less of myself for caving to peer pressure.

44. Left to my own devices, I’d eat out all the time.

45. I love my family. A lot. My mother, sister, cousins, aunts… but like the distance too.

46. I get migraines. And always want to just endure the pain rather than take meds for it, even though it makes no logical sense.

47. I give my kids motrin with no hesitation, despite the fact that I have to force myself to take it myself.

48. One of my favorite things in the world is a hot shower all by myself.

49. I really, legitimately think my kids are the most amazing creatures. I’m amazed every day by them.

50. I’m always aware of how incredibly lucky I am.

My kids hate baths. I hate giving them baths. I don’t know why. Once they get in there, sometimes, it’s actually pleasant. They play in the water, they get out and are all scrubbed clean and smell nice… but it’s never something they do willingly and I’d always rather make Marc do it. Unfortunately – Marc’s not around, really. We see him, but rarely. First thing in the morning, which is not the best time to strip the kids down and throw them in. And late at night, after they’re sleeping, mostly. The weekends are better, he’s around most of the time, but we’re busy doing other stuff.

I think it’s stems back to when Jess was an infant. I was very experienced with babies, I had eight or nine nieces or nephews by the time she was born, and had spent years taking care of other people’s babies. But was still somehow clueless about how fast a breastfed baby will poop. So I’d feed her, and then put her in the tub, where she (inevitably) pooped. It took literally weeks before I made the connection. And when she got older, she just hated it. She’d scream thru the whole ordeal – making me feel like a child abuser as I sprayed her down, scrubbed her up, and yanked her out. And Sam… he makes her look like a walk in the park. He literally vomited in the tub once, because he was crying so hard.

So I postpone and postpone. Jessie, I’m pretty good at getting her clean – she’ll shower by herself, and she herself has a vested interest in looking good, so I can pretty easily convince her. But Sam – it’s awful – he’s the grubbiest kid I’ve ever met. I mean, his face and hands get washed all the time, and of course, his diaper area gets a pretty thorough scrubbing several times a day… but it’s been a while since I’ve actually put him in the tub. He looks at me with those big brown eyes, begging to take a bath tomorrow, and I cave.

Then today, I told him he had to take a bath – and he was totally fine with it. Got undressed happily, picked out his toys, let me WASH HIS HAIR WITHOUT CRYING. Now I feel extra guilty that I’ve been letting him walk around all scrubby, telling myself I’m saving him the trauma. Apparently, you just have to catch him in the right mood.

Sam slept this morning until almost 10:30. And that was okay. I curled up in the recliner with a blanket, the phone and the remotes and let him sleep until he woke up. Because there was nothing that needed to be done that was more important that letting him sleep. And I was so glad, this morning, that I didn’t have to get him up and dressed and out the door. He’s a happy, cheerful boy this morning, with bright eyes and a big smile – because he slept in as late as he wanted.

One of the blogs I read (http://blog.wantingwhatyouhave.com/) gave me this idea…

1. Sammy’s growing vocabulary. Sam’s got a need to communicate – he has since he was tiny. He mastered nodding his head yes or no VERY early, and even now, the quickest way to circumvent a tantrum is to echo back what’s bothering him, once he knows that I understand what he’s going thru, he feels so much better. And he’s talking SO much these days – earlier today he said to me “Remember last night – I ate pink yogurt?” Remember is a really big word for a two year old. It was the first time he’d said it, and you could tell how proud he was.

2. Jessica’s love of reading. She really, really loves it. As a girl who’s always happiest with a book in her hand, this is one quality I really wanted to foster in my kids. And Jess, for as much as she’s testing her independence from me, she hates ponytails and blue jeans and too much milk in her cereal specifically because I like them – tells me all the time how much she loves reading. She’s sounding words out on her own, and picking out books to bring with her when we go out places.

3. Spending the day with family and friends. I have a big, unweildy, messy, dramatic, intense family comprised almost entirely of women. And there’s something magical and wonderful about just hanging out with them. I spent most of Saturday hanging out around the kitchen table at my mom’s house – and had just the best time.

4. My husband. So much about him – he’s literally the smartest, kindest man I’ve ever met. He’s always nicer than I am, his first instinct is always to do the kind, compassionate thing. Whereas I can be hostile or grumpy or hold a grudge, he’s just the exact opposite, he’s very level headed, and is always willing to extend a hand to help, give someone the benefit of the doubt, and invite someone over for dinner.

5. The relationship between my husband and my kids. I grew up without a dad, and there’s little that makes me happier than to see Sammy and Marc battle it out with the foam swords or building with blocks or tossing around a ball. Or to see Jessie jump up into his arms, or curl up on his lap for a story. They are so blessed to have him in their lives. I wouldn’t change the way I grew up – I got a phenominal mother and non existent father, which balanced out pretty well – but I’m always surprised by how much having a dad changes a kid’s life. Having this dad has brought so much to my kids’ lives and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

6. Let’s see… I know this sounds goofy, but one thing that always makes me happy is having the beds made, laundry done and put away, floors vacuumed, and dishes done. I know it makes me sound like a lame housewife, but when the house is a disaster, my frame of mind is frustrated and angry and when it’s clean, I’m all relaxed and peaceful. That does sound goofy, but as my mother would say, it is what it is. Perhaps I am a lame housewife.

7. When Marc comes up behind me and kisses my neck. I love that.

Sam and I have been home all day today. Just us, very peaceful and relaxed. I’m happy to report that my son plays fine all by himself. I thought this might be a quality unique to my girl, because she was my oldest and my only for three and a half years. And I’ve been babysitting since Sam was about three months old, so he’s always had buddies. Between three older sisters, plus Glenny and Harrison and Jordyn, the child doesn’t lack for entertainment. But today I watched him set up a train in the living room, a garbage truck on my couch and have a delightful time entertaining himself. We’ve kept the television off (with the exception of when I was sitting on my butt doing nothing – have you seen that new show Castle? LOVE IT) and Sam’s been happy and busy all day. We bought him some new pajamas last night, two pairs, one Batman and one Superman, and he’s been changing since last night when we got home. Periodically, he whips one pair off, and pulls on the other.

Depending entirely on perspective. I’m working on positive thinking, so the car is functional, we can drive it without a problem – except that we have to replace the engine and until we do, the muffler will need to be replaced every couple of months. This is not precisely good news, but it could be so much worse that I’m thinking we’re pretty lucky.

All is not well in Jessie’s world – twice this week, she’s gone to school sobbing. Does she hate school? Well, if you ask her (and shouldn’t she be the best source??), then absolutely she does. But her teacher claims that all is well, and she’s doing great. I’m perplexed and frustrated – because I don’t know how to proceed. I could totally pull her out and homeschool her. I want to, on so many levels. I think she’d do great at home with me, she’s so bright. But I want her in school, to have a “normal” childhood, with friends and playdates and relationships with other people, especially adults.

Sammy is doing well – his cough is mostly gone, which is great, and he’s still nursing. Although I’m starting to sense that I might be losing my milk. YAY. Nursing is getting more and more uncomfortable – he’s nursing so haphazardly these days, some days he’s latched on constantly, and then the weekend will come and he’ll nurse for a few minutes to go to sleep and that’s it. I’d LOVE it if he’d stop – I’m so ready to be done with nursing. As much as I want another baby – and I really, really do, I want to have a little time without nursing and (gasp) I’d even like to have him potty trained this summer. No diapers, no nursing – I’d love a little break before getting pregant and doing it all over again.

I’m cleaning – and thinking about moving this summer, and I’m shocked and dismayed at the amount of STUFF that I’ve accumulated. Thousands of coats and hoodies and shoes, don’t get me started on shoes, I’ve got literally hundreds of pairs of them. Not mine, but mostly Jessie’s. I need to weed thru all kinds of junk and get rid of it. I’m going to be the Freecycle Queen.

All is delightful in my world, Jessie danced off to school with a smile on her face, Marc’s sugar is down and other than the nagging little headache, I’m happy as a clam. Samilicious is watching Diego and is actually dressed in real clothes (as opposed to the pajamas that he’s usually wearing – he HATES getting dressed – when Jess was little, the first thing I did was change and dress her for the day, but Sam stays dry, mostly, thru the night, so he’s not waking up in a gross soggy diaper every morning, and he fights getting changed and dressed so much that I find myself putting it off, or changing just his diaper and letting him hang in his jammies most of the day).

Wish me good car thoughts, okay? Our car is in the shop – being diagnosed. Which is a cute way of saying they have no idea why the check engine light is blinking but they’ll see what they can do.