It was a GOOD summer… some things that really stand out for me…

– the first week with Julianna – she was up just all the time, and I was SO tired. Then she flipped it around, and started sleeping thru the night at two weeks, and it’s been smooth sailing, sleep wise, ever since.

– the realization that I’m a really good mom, I know what I’m doing, and it’s perfectly okay for me not to bother with the crib, and she didn’t need a boring carriage like everyone else. Slings, my pretty pram, and snuggled up next to me is perfect for my baby girl.

– the horrible, horrible start to nursing. From the nipple confusion to nursing strike to thrush to multiple fissures to staph infection to ringworm, nipple shields and tears – this girl made me WORK for a good nursing relationship. Which, in retrospect, and how much I wanted Sam to wean, really, really made me appreciate nursing. I won’t ever take it for granted after that.

– long trips to Elm Park, long lazy walks with Julianna dozing in her beautiful pram and the kids picking flowers and Sam’s favorite trees.

– the trip to Hampton Beach just before going to Maine – watching the kids play on the beach was one of my favorite memories.

– the trip to Rockport and Salem with Mandi, Becky, Aimee, and Mom. Julie was such a tiny baby, sleeping in her sling the whole time – it was so much fun.

– sending Jessica off to Hermit Island without me – she LOVED the independence and was so tanned and happy. I’m so glad that she’ll have those great memories.

– spending a LOT of time alone with my Samilicious. He’s starting preschool a week from today (sob) and I’m going to have such Sammy withdrawal.

– Becky’s pregnancy – I’m so incredibly beyond thrilled that my favorite cousin is having a tiny baby girl. Becky’s been my bestest friend forever, and there’s little that makes me happier than the fact that my daughter will have her daughter to go with her thru life. I hope that they’ll always be as close as Becky and I are.

– letting Jessie dance off to Honey Farms by herself. Really accepting that she’s getting bigger, she’s still my little girl, but I have to start letting her out into the world. It’s her life, and I’m just lucky enough to give her a safe home base to explore from. I learned that extra hard this summer, as she ventured further and further without me.

– watching Sam develop into this loving, responsible older brother. He adores his baby, and he’s so good with her. I’m so happy that she’ll always have her big brother with her.

– realizing that Marc is just as capable of soothing my baby as I am. This is a switch, the other two kids – Jessie didn’t really enjoy Marc until she was a two year old, and Sam was much closer to six or seven months. But right from the beginning, Julie loves her daddy. He puts her to bed most nights, spends every morning sitting with her and playing while we drink coffee and watch the news.

– knowing that this was one of the best summers of my life – happy kids, healthy kids, wonderful husband who’s just as cool today as he was when we met.

Oh, I hate it. Just hate it. Both my kids are prone to temper tantrums, Jess more so than Sam, but they are both capable of a full blown freak out fit. And I’ve tried all sorts of ways of dealing with them (and Jess started with them when she was about a year old) and the best solution I’ve come up with (and I don’t claim it’s a solution at all, but simply what works best for me) is to sequester them somewhere safe and tell them to stay there until they get a grip.

Sam lost it yesterday, over something. Ironically, I can’t remember what it was now… oh, yeah, his hair. Marc had cut his hair and then we had to rinse him off. He was furious about it, and screamed and jumped his way thru the bath. We were just literally hosing him off with the shower attachment, but he was incoherent with rage and fury. Mostly, he was just overtired, but that’s no excuse. So I did it fast, and then pulled him out and took him into the living room. He was still raging, and then started kicking me. That’s a zero tolerance thing here, an immediate time out was called for. So I scooped him up, lugged him into the dining room and put him on a chair. He’s screaming and yelling, choking for breath – but he has to know that he cannot, under any circumstances, hit or kick me. So he’s on the chair, and I walked into the kitchen, just to take a deep breath and I can still hear him, screaming my name. Finally, he chokes out “Mommy, if you don’t answer me, then… I don’t want you to be my mama anymore.” And his little voice – you tell he was terrified at that prospect, but it was the worst thing he could think of to say to me… and it certainly did the trick, because my heart broke, just a little, in the way that it does when your kids say something like that to you. He stopped screaming, and had calmed down to just sobbing, so I went back into the dining room, had him apologize for kicking, and explained that he was stuck with me, and it didn’t matter how mad he got, there wasn’t anything he could do that would make me not be his mama. Then I scooped him up and snuggled with him. He fell asleep less than five minutes later…

My grandfather’s funeral is today – and this is the eulogy I wrote for him. I’m so sad today…

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that my grandmother had something to do with making this such a pretty day, the sky was so blue and the sunshine so bright – it gives me enormous comfort to think of how happy she must be to have him with her again. She’s been missing him for a long time, and as much as it hurts today, I can smile a little knowing that they are together again.

My grandfather had close to fifty grandchildren and great grandchildren, and every one of us always, always felt so loved and cherished by him. When I talk with my cousins about their memories of Grandpa, everyone had something special that stood out for them… When Grandpa came to meet Tylor, the first great grandchild, he dressed up for the occasion. Everyone else was in jeans, but Grandpa wore his best, because he was so happy and so proud to have a great grandchild. Grandpa loved having the kids around – he loved it when we were all little and crawling all over him, and was even happier when our kids were doing it. When my brothers and I were younger, my grandfather took us hiking up Mt. Monadnock, and the best part was that he packed trail mix and kept telling us that we were really eating aborigine’s ear lobes. Canoe rides and long hikes, exploring mountain paths and just hanging out on the porch, playing chess and talking. He used to take us over to the golf course, cutting thru the woods and avoiding the dreaded “black golf cart” with he and Jan. They spent hours pointing out the constellations to us. The number of times he brought out his telescope so we would could see first hand that the universe was so much more than we thought it was.

So many of us went camping all the time as kids – because my grandfather raised his kids to be outside, climbing trees, exploring the woods and spending as much as possible in the mountains. And our parents made sure that they did the same with us – I still can’t let my kids sit inside on a nice day, and I know that comes from Grandpa. Grandpa spent as much time outside with us as possible, telling our mothers to let us run, climb the trees, splash in puddles and get as dirty as we could. I know it’s from him that I got the sense that a grubby child is a happy one, playing in mud is a privilege of childhood. I remember long walks around the bog in Carlisle with Grandpa, with him pointing out the geese and telling us stories from his childhood.

He was brilliant and kind, devoted to family, he loved the outdoors, loved the mountains. He taught us about Carruth Shortcuts and that the journey was so much more important that the destination. He taught us about the wonders of warm buttered popcorn eaten like a bowl of cereal with milk. It sounds gross – but was really good, and I would never have known that without Grandpa. He seemed to have special names for each of us – Blueberry Eyes, or Porkchop. I don’t think he ever called me by name – it was always Chicken. He was the smartest man I’d ever met, he knew everything it seemed. I remember loving watching Jeopardy with him – he knew all the answers, every time. He was never not in the middle of a book – I learned that from him. Long chess games, it was a major accomplishment when we’d beat him. Grandpa never let us get off easy, and he never lost without a serious fight. He kept Playboys in the backseat of his car – so every kid who went on a “Carruth Shortcut” with him (and we all did), got to be either horrified or fascinated by Grandpa’s reading material – I think sometimes he kept them back there just to see the reaction. He used to take out his teeth, just to freak us out. There’s nothing Grandpa liked more than getting a reaction from us – he used to pretend to be an incredibly offensive driver, swearing at other drivers on the road, calling them more and more creative names, just to make us yell at him. And the whistling – he could whistle the entire drive from Massachusetts to Vermont – and frequently did when we were in the car with him. He took us everywhere – when I think about my childhood, it’s punctuated with trips with Grandpa – to the top of Cadillac Mountain, to Quincy Market, to every little hole in the wall museum in New England.

So much of who I am today, I can trace back to my grandfather. I remember when I was eight or nine, he got me a subscription for National Geographic Magazine, because he felt like my Sweet Valley High books weren’t intellectually stimulating enough for his granddaughter. Grandpa made me love learning – I wanted to be just like him, as smart, as well read, I wanted to know everything just like him. He gave me so many books – there was nobody I liked showing my report cards as much as I liked showing them to Grandpa. Growing up in Maynard, I was always knows in relation to someone else, Mary’s daughter, Jan’s niece, Scott’s older sister – but I was never prouder than when someone would say “Oh, you’re Earl’s granddaughter.” Grandpa taught me about the Continental Divide, the difference between Republicans and Democrats, and taught me what it meant to love and be loved. I never felt anything other than cherished and loved as his granddaughter.

I hope to live the sort of life that he did – to have experienced a love that’s as vibrant and as real today as it was when my grandmother died twenty six years ago, to raise a family that’s as strong and as loving. To be able to travel, I know that he loved being able to see the world like that, and having Nancy beside him for that part of his life made it so much better for him. I’m crying today, not for my grandfather, because I know that he’s in a better place and I know that he’s at peace now. I know that he lived a long and wonderful life, that he raised his children with love and wonder and that his grandchildren and great grandchildren were raised the same way because of him. I hope for my children that my daughters are loved the way my grandfather loved my grandmother, and that my son grows up to be the kind of man that he was.

Or is it just me? I’m constantly questioning just about everything.

Case in point – Jessica Mary. She’s seven and a half, going into second grade. Very bright, very thoughtful and growing more and more independent. She went to Maine earlier this summer with my mother and sister for three days without me, and I agonized over it. Was she old enough to go that long without me? Would she be homesick and lonely? Could I go that long without her little face? But I did it – and she had the time of her life, loved every single second of it and only came home reluctantly when the entire family left, asked to stay for the extra two days after I was leaving.

Then we decided to go to Storyland in NH last weekend. My friend Annie (mother of everyone’s best friend Glennys) has a house up there, and was going up on Thursday. She invited Jess to go – and Jessie jumped at the chance. Going up three days early, and staying two days after we left. Again – happy as a clam, loving life, getting a little extra vacation before school starts, long lazy days playing with her best friend…

But I’m at home, missing her like I lost my left hand. And wondering if she feels pushed aside and unloved, like I’m paying too much attention to Julianna and now she doesn’t want to be at home anymore. Like she’s thinking that I’ve got a new baby daughter and there’s no need for her to stay with me. Which is rationally crazy – she’s just getting bigger. More independent – and that’s what I want. I want her bold and brave, and confident. But I can’t just relax and enjoy this new-found growth – I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong as her mother, somehow pushing her out of the nest before she’s ready. Then I try and mentally get a hold of myself – after all, she’s not going off to Uganda – she’s spending time with my sister and mother, and with my best friend. She’s well cared for, with people she’s known for years. She’s happy and content, and it’s because she’s so secure and confident that she’s able to feel safe and loved with a variety of people.

All I know is that I’m sleeping a LOT better tonight with my little girl back under my roof.

Not that she’s there yet – but she’s getting so big and so beautiful – and has already grown up so fast. I love this age – I know I say that about all ages, but four months is just super fun. She’s smiling all the time, loves nothing more than to be plopped down in her purple bouncy seat in the middle of the kids playing. She kicks and chews on her little pig teether or her rings. She’s bigger than my other two at this point – it’s like she’s so eager to get big enough to play with them that she’s growing faster than they did :-). She’s pushing up on her hands when I lay her down on her belly and loves to stand up on my lap. I keep wanting to beg her to slow down, just a little, let me enjoy having a tiny infant a little longer before she hurtles herself into babyhood.

She’s watching us more and more when we’re eating, getting more and more interested in food. I haven’t fed her anything yet, but can see it happening sooner rather than later. She’s still nursing every hour, or hour and a half during the day, and sleeps thru the night from about nine or nine thirty until five or six in the morning. Napping is still hit or miss, sometimes she’s great at it, and sometimes she’ll only sleep when she’s at the breast.

She loves her daddy – and again, much earlier than the other two. Jess didn’t pay much attention to Marc until she was a toddler, and I distinctly remember Sam falling in love with Marc at about six or seven months. But Julie spends her mornings with her daddy, I stagger out of bed, drop her onto his lap and then sit with coffee for a while, and every night, she falls asleep when he rocks her to bed. She loves her big sisters and her brother, smiles when they come near.

She’s such a perfect addition to the family – I can’t imagine us without her.

My last post, I think, was just before Marc took the girls on the annual Father/Daughter camping trip. My computer was attacked by an odd virus, and I couldn’t connect to the internet at all… and I’ve got so much to say 🙂

– The camping trip went great, from what I understand. This year, Marc went with our oldest three, plus Arlen and Jordyn, and John and Glennys. The kids had a blast, the guys all had fun too – I love this tradition :-). Because it’s not just a Father/Kid camping trip – whichever sex isn’t going gets to stay home with me and get some quality alone time as well. Sam and I went out for a long walk, with Julianna asleep in the carriage, and then out for chinese food.

– We got the kitty neutered – Franklin is doing great. He’s still kind of an outdoor/indoor cat – I’d rather he be inside all the time, but where he’s so used to being outside, I don’t want to imprison him, so if he’s determined to let him out, I let him outside. He doesn’t go anywhere, he mostly just stays in the yard. He’s a little bit of an attention slut – in that he’ll snuggle up to anyone who appears mildly interested. And even if you don’t appear all that interested. But on the upside, he’s super friendly and eager to be loved, and that’s what counts. The kids are getting MUCH better with him – initially,they were both terrified of him, but they’re gradually softening and relaxing around him.

– I let Jessica go to the store. By herself. For the first time ever. And I was TERRIFIED. We live about a five minute walk from Honey Farms, and it’s straight road. We’ve been practicing all summer, with her walking on the opposite side of the street, and farther and farther ahead of me. She’s very careful and responsible, always looking both ways. And one day last week, I was brave and bold and just let her go. I gave her phone and let her go to the store all by herself. She was SO proud of herself. This was a major milestone for both of us.

– Julianna is so enormously big. She’s fitting into twelve months clothes already – way bigger than my other two babies were. Both Jess and Sam fit into exactly what they were supposed to, when they were two months, they wore 0-3 months, when they were four months, it was 3-6 months clothes. And they both did that all the way thru that first year. But Julie is growing so fast – she’ll be four months on the 29th, and I’m constantly amazed at how big she’s gotten. She’s holding her head up all the time now, and loves to stand up on my lap. Nursing is seamless now – and she’s sleeping mostly thru the night.

– Samilicious is so excited about starting preschool and I’m so wistful about my big boy. It’s so soon, I think, and I’m not ready to let him go off into the world yet.

I don’t know – I just know that all day, Julianna has only slept while she’s in my arms nursing. Normally she takes one serious nap for a couple of hours, sometimes two – and today, she’s only napped sporadically. She dozes off nursing, and then jolts awake when I lay her down. It’s five forty seven now, and my arms ache from holding her all day, and I’m exhausted because she was up most of the night. I’ve had four cups of coffee, trying to stay awake, and could go to bed right now and sleep all night. In fact, I think I’m going to go try and catch a little sleep before Marc gets here. Thank goodness for co-sleeping, because I know it would be a million times worse if I had to keep getting her up out of the crib to feed her, but she was really restless all night, so I didn’t sleep all that well to begin with, and then a full day of no napping – I’m totally wiped out.

Oops – she just woke up. Again. No nap for Mama.

I feel like it’s winding down… now that I can see, just by glancing at the calendar how much time I have left before school starts. I’ve got another week with Harrison, another two and a half weeks with Jordyn. Then my babies, the two children I started watching when they were babies are going off to preschool. I’ll still have Harrison two days a week, and probably Jordyn will still pop over periodically, but a period in my life is ending, in a real sense at the end of this month. In September, I’ll start having to ferry the kids to after school activities, and constantly be doing something.

Mondays and Wednesdays – I’ll drop Jess off at school at eight twenty, and then drop Marc off at work. Then I’ll drop Sam off at preschool at noontime. Pick up Jess, Sarah, Lilli at Flagg Street at two thirty, pick up Sam at his school at ten of three, drop the three girls at Hebrew school at four, pick up Marc at six and back to get the girls by six fifteen. Tuesdays and Thursdays will sort of be my off days – Sam will be home here with Harrison, and Lisa said that she’ll take care of getting Jess to dance on Thursdays. Fridays, I’ll be repeating the M/W routine, with the only difference being that I’ll probably pick Marc up before getting the kids from school and have all five of them home here for Shabbat dinner Friday night.

I hope Julie learns to like the car seat more than she does right now.

In other news… I have been adopted by a cat. He followed us home from Elm Park Community School on Saturday night, was lonely and crying and seemed to be very hungry. So I gave him a turkey burger and some water, but he stayed outside all night crying to come in. My downstairs neighbor gave me a litter box and some cat food so we let him inside, and he’s moved right in.

We haven’t officially named him – because he might still have an owner out there somewhere. I put up signs everywhere yesterday, posted ads all over the internet. And Harrison’s Mom, Joy, is really allergic to some cats, and it might push her over the edge. And if it comes down to choosing between having Harrison or the cat, I’d have to get rid of the cat. But I’m really hoping I don’t have to – I’m really, really liking him. My kids have never had a pet, and I’ve had a nagging feeling of guilt about it forever. And this kitty is adorable, super friendly, very affectionate. He likes to curl up against me while I nurse the baby 🙂

Jessie is officially washing her own laundry these days. She threw in her first unsupervised load today – and is very proud of herself. I’m also proud – she’s the youngest girl in our group – Lilli, Sarah, and Glennys are all older, and the first to assume responsibility of washing her own clothes. At this point, she’s only washing it – she’s not tall enough to reach into the machine to scoop the clothes out, so I’m still drying and folding – but we’ll get there. Very proud of my big girl…

Jessica is huge, all long legs, big eyes and pretty hair. Suddenly, I’ve got a little tweener on my hands, she’s obsessed with making sure that she showers daily, goes thru three or four different hairstyles and outfits a day and has recently redone her room so that it looks “grown up.” She’s even singing Selena Gomez songs. When did she stop singing the Dora song? We packed up stuffed animals and baby dolls, keeping only one lone cradle for Rebecca Rubin (or as I think of her Webecca Wubin, because that’s what Sam calls her). She’s got little dustcatchers all over the place, is suddenly reading on her own, and is just so grown up so fast. I don’t know when it happened, but I still can’t stop seeing a baby when I look at her.

Sam is also suddenly much bigger. Literally, he was always a few inches shorter than his buddy Jordyn, but today I realized that they were the same height. He’s into taking pictures, and working out with Daddy. They’re going camping this weekend, just the boys, and it was only last year that he was too little to go. He’s off to school in a month, and I’m dreading it like you wouldn’t believe. Bad enough I had to send Jessie, but now I have to ship my tiny boy off to school? If he wasn’t so absolutely thrilled about it, I’d keep him home in a heartbeat.

And my Julie – my little tiny baby girl – she’s almost too big for the lay down part of my pram. I’ve got one of those old fashioned carriages, and it’s got two parts, the infant bed and then the bigger kid part with the seat. And she’s got another four or five inches before she’s too big to fit in the bed. She’s given up the pacifier completely and is chewing her fists and loving her baby doll and little teether toys. She’s cooing and loving her big brother and sister – I can set her down in her bouncy seat in Jessie’s room and she’s perfectly content to watch Jess flutter around the room singing. My baby is growing up.

All my babies are growing up – and I know this is the goal, I know that it’s inevitable, I even, when I’m logical, want this. But just now, just today – all I can think is that it’s too fast, it’s too much. I need more time, more time when Jessie’s problems are all solved by a hug and some attention, when Sam still thinks that Marc and I are infallable, and when Julie is still my teeny tiny baby.