Not too much to write about at the moment. Normally, I’m bubbling over with topics, but lately, not so much. Anyone have any questions? Any ideas? Feel free to comment or send me an e-mail with topics – I could obviously use some inspiration.

Status updates…

Marc is doing well, not liking his job lately, but then again, he hasn’t liked it for a while now, but still keeps showing up 🙂 His diabetes is basically under control, he’s on a new work out schedule, he’s going to the gym every other day, and while I still hate it, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s definitely working. He’s losing weight and seems to be happier. Not that he’s ever miserable, my husband is an uncommonly cheerful man, but it does help to keep him that way.

Jessica is in the middle of her first day of camp. And in classic Jessie style – is alternately hating and loving it. She’s getting so grown up, all long legs and big eyes, and I’m fascinated, watching her mature and grow into herself.

Samuel is also growing so fast. He’s starting preschool in the fall, and can’t wait. I worry that it’ll be hard for him, going without me. He’s been my buddy for so long, and I’m wistful and sad, just a little bit, that he’s growing up so fast.

Miss Julianna is so big. So literally big. She’s grown so fast and is so gorgeous. Heartbreakingly beautiful, I love her little face when she’s asleep, I could watch it for hours. She’s cooing and smiling and awake for longer and longer every day. I can’t remember life without her, it feels like she’s been here forever.

We had the loveliest weekend. Which I so needed after Friday. Let me back up a bit.

Jessie got out of school on Tuesday. Wednesday, she had a playdate in the afternoon, and then my mother picked her up. She spent the night at my sister’s house (staying up far too late watching – ironically – Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) and then spent the whole day at the lake with my mother and three of her cousins. I picked her up that night at my mother’s house, along with two of my nieces and by the time we got home and them settled into bed, it was really late again. Friday, I had several thousand extra children here – and Jessie had just reached the limit of how much she could handle. Over stimulated, over tired, whatever applicable excuse I could come up with – she was beyond epically miserable. She cried, almost non-stop, for three hours in the middle of the day. (She finally pulled it together around two, just in time for Sam to start sobbing). She was just wrecked. At one point, I was outside with all the other kids and she was inside, crying. We live on a dead end street on a second floor apartment, and she was standing at the window, sobbing and gazing down at us. I went in to get freeze pops for the kids, and tried to coax her into joining us. She looked up at me, with tears streaming down her face, eyes all swollen, and told me that she knew I didn’t love her, I used to say she was one of my favorite children, but I’d been faking it for seven years and she knew the truth now. She was so earnest and so devastated, but on the same hand, so unnecessarily dramatic that I just had to laugh. I gave her a hug and lugged her down and she snuggled with me for a while. Friday was Marc’s gym day, and by the time he got home, I was so tired and the house was not pretty. Jessie had cried herself to sleep, and I hate having to do that do her, but really, she was so exhausted that there was nothing else I could do but send her to bed and let her sob until her eyes finally shut. Julie was doing the non-stop nursing and Sam, God love Sam, he needed a bit of attention too. It’s hard when I’m home alone with three kids, especially when one (or two) are demanding 100% of me. Someone always gets the shaft, and then I’m overwhelmed and guilty.

But Saturday was delightful. We stayed home in the morning and cleaned, and then picked up Lilli and Sarah and headed down to the State Pool in Clinton. Julie needs to stay out of the sun, so for the most part, Marc took the kids into the pool and I sat in the shade with the baby. This may be the best year ever for the pool, because Jess is old enough to swim without being held, and Sam would much rather be in the big pool with Marc than playing in the baby pool. Every other year, we’ve had at least one kid who wasn’t big enough for the big pool, and kids who are too big for the baby pool. After we left the pool, we went out for dinner, and then home. Sunday, we did pretty much the same thing – only instead of going to the pool, we went to my mother’s house. We hung out, had a cookout, sat in front of a little bonfire – it was wonderful.

I’ve never been so delighted to get a diagnosis. An actual diagnosis, and a nice rx to fix it. I started out with just one crack on my nipple three weeks ago, and it’s been awful. And every time I talked to a doctor, nurse, ob/gyn, any sort of actual medical professional, they just said to suck it up -it’s part of breastfeeding. But I KNEW it wasn’t. Nursing isn’t supposed to hurt. And by the time I went into the urgent care clinic last night, I had “multiple fissures” and a staph infection.

– Two days ago, I actually went to the Honey Farms up the street in my pajamas. The worst part of it was that I didn’t even realize it until after I’d walked back home.

– I worry sometimes that Jess has this incredibly stressful, complicated life, filled with pitfalls and potential disasters – because she spends so much of her time trying to convince me of the fact. I think most of the time that she’s having a happy, healthy childhood but if I’m wrong and she’s right… man, it’s wicked hard to be her.

– I fantasize about cutting off all my hair, because I’ve been wearing it in a messy bun for the past two months and really, is it worth it to have long hair when it’s just constantly bundled up on top of my head? The only reason I don’t do it is because it would be too embarrassing to explain to the hairdresser that I need a cut that’s not just low maintenance, but actually requires no more maintenance that to be washed and brushed out semi-occasionally.

– I used to start my day with a hot shower. Every. Single. Day. Could NOT imagine going without a shower daily. Sadly, am now at the point where I routinely go two days without a shower. Sometimes, even (gasp with horror inserted here) three. I don’t like leaving Julie without an adult to watch her, she screams the entire time I’m in the shower, and Marc’s just not home all that often.

– Every afternoon, right around this time, I get really bitchy and unhappy. Sometimes, most of the time, I connect it to the fact that I need my afternoon cup of coffee, but it’s not unusual for me to get really grumpy for a period of time before I remember.

– Sam spends a lot of his time naked. And on my list of priorities, making sure he’s got underwear on is way lower than a lot of things. Plus he’s developed the habit of taking the underwear off entirely every time he pees, so even if I wrestle a pair on him in the morning, it’s off by lunchtime. Which leads me to my next confession…

– I have rules that sound foolish but are totally dead on necessary in this house. For example, no going outside unless you’re wearing underwear. You can’t put cheerios in your underwear for storage. No, your genitalia does not require fresh air.

– I’ve been trying to read the fourth Harry Potter book to my poor girl child for three months now, and we’re still only about three quarters of the way thru it. Every time I see the book on the floor, I feel guilty. Why can’t I carve out a half hour every night to read to her? I don’t seem to be able to pull it off more than once or twice a week, and that’s awful.

– I’m not keeping track of anything with Julie. I exist simply on a “needs being met” sort of schedule. I feed her when she seems hungry on whichever breast hurts less at that particular time. I change her after every nap. I have no clue when she naps, she’s not on any sort of predictable routine. My mother in law asked the other day what her normal nap time was – and I drew an absolute blank. Sometimes, mostly, she’ll take a good morning nap, but not today. The whole rest of the day, she just nurses, naps, chills, nurses, naps, chills, over and over again. And any one of those things can last anywhere between five and fifty minutes.

I’m going back to the doctor tonight, the skin around the nipple is getting flaky – and the whole thing just doesn’t look healthy. I’m nursing on that side occasionally, sometimes, she just won’t nurse on the shield, and sometimes I can’t get anything out with my manual pump and just have to nurse. But mostly, I’ve been either pumping or using the shield, and letting it air dry, then coating it with lansinoh lanolin. The cuts are not healing, the one cut that’s been there for almost three weeks is still there and another one has formed. Luckily, Julianna does nurse with no problems on the other side, and is definitely still getting all the breastmilk she could ever want. I don’t want to wean, I hate the thought of formula, but am still seriously considering weaning on the right side and sticking with just the left one. The only reason I haven’t done so is because I’m not positive that the left one won’t develop the same problem – when I had thrush, it was the opposite, the left side was crap and the right side was the functional breast. Not weaning on one side keeps my options open. I just can’t figure out why breastfeeding Julie is so challenging – I’ve nursed over four years, if you combine Jess and Sam, and went thru clogged ducts and mastitis, and it never felt like it was this hard.

Jess spent the night at my sister’s house last night, she’s going to the beach today with my mother and my niece. She’s practicing for Hermit Island – our summer vacation. I’m not a girl who loves camping and my daughter is – so my sister is taking her up for a few extra days. She’ll go up to Maine on the Sunday after July 4th, and I’ll be up on Wednesday, with my cousin and the other two kids. Sam doesn’t like camping either, strangely enough (because you’d think he’d like the dirt and bugs and general grubbiness that goes along with camping), and with a two and a half month old baby, camping isn’t sounding all that appealing to me. Luckily, my stepsister lives up in Maine, not too far from the campground and we’ll be able to sleep at her house 🙂

It’s worth it, right? Breastfeeding is what’s best for this girl. Because not only am I going on two and a half weeks with an unhealed crack, it’s better but by no means gone, I just discovered ANOTHER one, a little higher up on the same nipple. Am eyeing that sample of formula that I got in the mail last week…

I’m not going to use it, but I am pretty irritated right now. Both physically and mentally :-). I’m seriously considering stopping nursing entirely on the left side and feeding exclusively on the right. Julie won’t use the shield all the time, and pumping seems to make the cracks worse, they bleed after pumping.

Could REALLY use a pep talk right about now…

First – kudos to Marc – who, hands down, is the best dad. He’s smart, funny, loves his kids more than anything. I’m forever grateful that my children have him. In so many ways, he heals things for me, simply by loving his children the way that he does, he shows me over and over again how important a father’s love is, and I’ll never be able to fully express how much I enjoy knowing that my children have him in their lives.

And next… kudos to my mother.

Marc took the three middle kids (how odd that I’ve got so many children I can now call Sarah, Jessica and Sam my middle kids) to Walking with Dinosaurs tonight. It’s down at the DCU Center, and it’s got this ginormous animatronic dinosaurs trudging around, from what I understand. So I’m at home with Julianna. And since we got home, three hours ago, I’ve nursed her three times, snuggled and sang to her and held her while she slept. And earlier, she was dozing on my lap, I was sitting with the boppy on my legs and her little butt on my lap, her head on the boppy. She looked so peaceful and content, her little belly was fully, she had a fresh diaper and she was just so… loved and cherished. I thought to myself that in my next life, I’d like to come back as Julie. To be that beloved. And then I realized that I had that – I had that love and devotion and utter maternal adoration. My mother loved me from the very beginning – never once have I ever doubted that me and my brothers and my sister are at the very center of her life. Never once did my utter faith that she’d be there, no matter what, ever waver.

Father’s Day is a complicated holiday for me, in a lot of ways. I’ve got a tangled up, messy, tentative sort of connection to my dad. I never know quite how to feel on Father’s Day. But today – today, I’m just grateful for my mom. Because when you’ve got a mom as cool as mine, sometime you have celebrate her on Father’s Day as well as Mother’s Day.

Julie is a girl who likes being held. I’ve got two carriers, a Nojo sling that I LOVE and a homemade mei tei (?? is that what it’s called?). The problem with the sling is that it’s kind of hit or miss, it’s either super comfortable or totally not, and I can’t figure out how to make it one way or the other, it’s just luck. And with the other one, I can really only hold her facing in, and I think she’d like to look out sometimes. I’ve also got an ultimate baby wrap, but I can’t figure out how to make that work, the fabric seems to be too stretchy to hold her. I don’t know many other moms who really wear their babies, so I’m hoping that someone who does it consistently will have some recommendations 🙂

In other news… all is well here. Julianna has developed a hard core case of baby acne and I’m not happy about it. Her poor skin looks so ANGRY, all covered in little red bumps. It started out on just one cheek, moved over to the other, and is now covering her entire head. My other two never had it – and I’m wishing that I could just make it all go away. But from what google and the pediatrician tell me, it’ll probably be sticking around for a few more months… she’s still heartbreakingly beautiful to me, I just wish her skin was clear.

Jessica’s last day of school is on Tuesday. I love having her home, and am looking forward to the summer. I know that I’ll lose my patience, and be thinking longingly of the days when she was at school, but right now the thought of having my girl home with me sounds FABULOUS. I just hope that she and Sam don’t spend all summer squabbling. They’re either best friends or bitter enemies, it seems, and I’m hoping for a good summer.

Sam’s all signed up for preschool in the fall. I can’t quite believe that he’s actually old enough for school, and am sad to report that it’s not any easier to ship the second child off to school. I’m just as freaked out about it as I was when it was time to send Jess off. He’s all excited about it – he can’t wait to have his own backpack and have to pack a lunch, just like his big sister. I don’t know that it’s fully occured to him that I’m not going along to preschool with him – he’s never been to anything like this before, without me, and I hope it’s going to be a lot harder on me than it is on him. I want him to love it.

Saw my OB today for my check up. My OB is super quick, very nice guy, but fast and efficient. I saw the midwife thru the pregnancy, and she’s great too, but a lot more into chit chat. There’s no chatting with my OB :-). We’re still waiting to see if the IUD that I want is covered under our insurance, otherwise I’ll be going with the mini-pill. I don’t want to take any chances, even though I’m breastfeeding and the chances of me being fertile are next to zero. I’m fairly certain that Julianna is my last little baby… I’m 36 and Marc is 41. I like at least three years between babies, which means that I’d be 38 or 39 the next time, if there is a next time. Three kids seems perfect to me right now – but the thought of NEVER having another baby? I’m not ready to say that. After Jess, I knew I wanted at least two more, and after Sam, I knew that I wanted at least one more. And my family feels complete now. Especially when you factor in two stepdaughters – that’s five children that are tearing around my house every weekend. Yeah, we’re probably done – so why don’t I want to get my tubes tied? Why aren’t I pushing Marc to get a vasectomy? Because it just feels too final – I’m not ready to say absolutely no more babies ever. Probably. Most likely. But never? I’m not ready to say it yet.

Marc was a Golden Gloves boxer in his early twenties, and last night, there was a ceremonial passing of the torch. Or at least that’s how it felt, because Marc gave Sam a pair of his boxing gloves and let him beat him with them. We’ve got a game in our family called (oh so creatively) “Fight on the Bed.” The game originated between Marc and a two year old Jessica. And in that incarnation, Jess would stand on the bed, in all her two year old prettiness and scream “You wanna piece of me?” and launch herself at him, and he’d slug her with the pillow and knock her down, demanding to see her “war face.” Jessie would pop back up, roar at him and attack again. It was their bedtime routine (I preferred reading stories and lullabies, but whatever…).

Once Sam got bigger, though, the game took on a new life. It’s now become a ritual, every night that Marc is here to put him to bed, first they go into my bedroom, pile all of the pillows and blankets up by the headboard and fight. Sam kicks, punches, wrestles and does it all with such enthusiasm it’s at times alarming to me. Jess will occasionally join in, but she’d rather curl up with me and Harry Potter instead these days, and it’s much more a boys thing for them. This is their primary bonding activity. Marc is really into the mixed martial arts these days, and is apparently grooming Sam for the cage. But last night, he broke out the boxing gloves and Sam was so incredibly thrilled by it. He was in there throwing punches, doing what he called “tumbleweeds” (aka somersaults) so that he could kick at Daddy, and then head butting him.

I don’t like violence, really, but I understand that Marc does. And more importantly, Sam does. And I think that Marc has the right/responsibility to teach Sam to be a man, however he defines it. And it’s not just random violence, it’s about “fighting the bad guys” and protecting those weaker than himself. And I’m totally in favor of that. Because Marc’s a big guy, and Sam really is just a mini-Marc, and showing him how to use that to it’s fullest potential seems like a good thing. Does that make sense? Marc’s a jock, but he’s also a jock with a strong sense of helping those who need it – he’s the best example of manhood that I can think of, and however he chooses to pass that along to my son, I’m completely in favor of.

I was walking earlier today with my many, many children to the neighborhood park. I had my baby girl in her pram, sleeping soundly (she sleeps better there, I think, than anywhere else), and three preschoolers roaming ahead of me. I was obviously a good target for the anti-vaccine zealot.

Anyway, I’m wandering along, pushing the baby and watching the three older kids, when I hear someone hollering at me. “Excuse me, excuse me!” I turn around to see a sweet little old lady chasing me down. I pause, and she catches up to me and peers in at Julianna and asks how old she is. I figured she’s probably just someone who really likes babies, and smile, tell her that Julie is almost seven weeks old. She looks at me sympathetically and asks softly “How are you?” I’m puzzled a bit, but still thinking that she’s just a sweet little lady, maybe she had kids and it was really stressful and difficult. But I’m good – really. So I tell her that. And she tells me that Julie is beautiful (which she totally is – she looks like a sleeping angel), and my other children (because she’s assuming that they’re all mine) are very nice too. So I nod, nicely, but start edging away from her, because I DO have three little kids that I’m trying to keep track of… and then she pops out with “Have you heard about the vaccines?”

I’m baffled by this – did this little old lady really run up to me just to lecture me about vaccines? But yes, she did. She’s been reading studies by a doctor out of NY, and feels honor bound to tell mothers of small children about it, I guess. Apparently, the doctor that she’s quoting feels as though we shouldn’t be vaccinating our children, that it’s “natural” for the body to be getting these diseases and it’s wrong to supress them. I was dumbfounded – for a whole bunch of reasons – but mainly I’m thinking to myself that I’m sure it’s perfectly natural to get these diseases, but it’s also perfectly natural to DIE of them. And thank God I live in a time and a place where I can protect my children from getting them.

For what it’s worth – I think that for the most part, people should do whatever they want with their children. If you don’t want to vaccinate your children, that’s up to you. I’m not going to yell at you about it, and I’m not going to tell you that I think you’re crazy for not taking simple steps to prevent your child from contracting a deathly illness. I’ve done my research, plus, I don’t want to brag, but my husband is a certifiable genius and has actually read all of the studies associated with vaccines. We’re very comfortable with our decisions to vaccinate our children. I trust my doctor, for a reason, and rely on her advice. I vaccinate my kids. And I’d really rather not have to defend that to crazy little old ladies at the park.