It wasn’t a great weekend.  Sadly.  It had potential, but ended up being kind of crappy all the way around.   Suffice it to say that understanding your family, the one that you were born into as opposed to the one that you are creating as an adult, is really not all that much fun.  And being a stepmother can be, at times, an incredibly thankless, frustrating position – and this was not a weekend that I particularly enjoyed either activity.

In other news… it turns out that Julianna has mastered not only the backwards crawl, but also the soldier shimmy.  It’s fascinating – because her every move is so anticipated.  People say that it’s the first baby that gets all the attention – but in reality, it’s the youngest, because you have so many other kids.  She’s so close to actually taking off crawling – and one of the kids keeps hollering “She’s gonna do it” and we all come running to stare at her reaching and reaching for a toy just out of her reach.  So far, she hasn’t done it, but I expect it any day now.

Miss Jessica Mary accused me of child abuse earlier today.  “It’s just mean, it’s child abuse, to take away your child’s most precious possession!” she tearfully proclaimed from behind the clothes hanging in her closet. My girl has serious problems controlling her emotions, and has been sobbing uncontrollably over the most ridiculous of things (earlier today, for example, she sobbed because I didn’t understand how much she hates toast crusts).  I had warned her several times that if she didn’t calm herself down, I was going to take her radio (a fate worse than death).  She didn’t – and I did – and you’d have thought that I hit her with a stick.  Repeatedly.  She was sobbing, out of breath and begging me not to do it, but I mercilessly unplugged it and plopped it on my dresser.  After about twenty minutes, I went in, and very calmly explained that if she wanted it back, she had to apologize to both her father and to me, and then earn it back by cleaning the kitchen.  She did it, and after that, she was angelic for the rest of the night.  Reminding me that the best way to get good behavior is to hard core crack down on bad behavior.  When the consequences are clear, and enforced – kids just behave better. 

But it’s still a little disconcerting to have your child hate you as much as she did at that moment.

Sam is still my angel boy – Marc played some sort of lego game today with the kids, and I was half heartedly participating while bouncing Julianna, setting the table and cooking dinner.  And Sam willingly sacrificed his guy to save my guy.  Nobody loves me like Sam does.  Seriously – the love of a little boy for his mama is boundless.  And endlessly pure – he just flat out adores me, with none of the angst that Jessie brims over with these days :-). 

Julianna is not nursing anywhere near as much any more.  She’s cut way down during the day, nursing really just for naps and maybe once or twice, but only for a few minutes each time.  She still nurses several times at night – and I’m not in any rush to see that end.  She’s not even ten months old!  It took me three and half years to get Sam to this point 🙂

I never planned on nursing Sam as long as I did – in fact, I actively wanted to stop for about two years before he finally weaned.  I assumed that Julianna would nurse at least thru her first birthday, and hopefully closer to eighteen months or so.  But really, I think I could replace the day time nursing with a bottle without any kind of struggle, and the night nursing won’t last much longer either. 

I’m wistful… somehow it seemed as though her babyhood is over.  She’s pulling herself up more and more, crawling (okay, only backwards, but she’s still acheived a measure of independant movement), and talking (she’s saying “uh oh”).  I’m looking at her and she’s two seconds away from toddlerhood – and I miss those days when she was so tiny. 

Actually, it’s a little candle holder, and instead of marbles, I use those little foam letters (because I have literally thousands leftover after Jessie’s birthday party).  I read this idea somewhere, so I can’t take total credit – but I started this new policy.  Whenever I notice my kids working together, playing together nicely, being kind to one another, etc – they earn a letter in the jar.  And when the little candle holder fills all the way up – they get some sort of treat (to be determined later). 

Since instituting this – I’ve noticed that they actually are nicer to one another.  Granted, Sam has twice already asked for letters for playing quietly by himself, and today, Jessie begged me to please just get rid of Sam because she just couldn’t take living with him anymore – so it’s not perfect.  But I’m pleased with the experiment – and it’s well worth the price of the ice cream cone that I’ll buy them at Friendly’s once they finally fill up that little cup.

Yeah, that’s right – I’ve got thrush.  Again. 

Julianna had her first ear infection and just finished her amoxicillin.  I had been blaming painful nursing on her biting.  But last night, it went from just a little painful into holy moly painful.  In the middle of the night, it hit me.  It’s thrush, you idiot.  That’s what I actually said out loud to myself around three o’clock, when she’s nursing away and the pain was too much for me to doze thru.  So I got up this morning and really looked at my nipples (which I actually don’t do all that often) and it was there – the tell tale signs, the white flakiness, the general just yuckiness of the whole thing.   

I don’t think Julianna is a mad nursing fool the way her brother was.  I nursed Sam until well past his third birthday – but Julie just isn’t that into it.  She really likes regular food – in fact, we’ve started calling her Julie Bottomless Pit Cohen, because she’ll just eat and eat and eat.  Whatever Marc’s got in a bowl, she wants and will scream until he delivers it to her.  So her nursing is tapering off and while she’s far from all the way done with it, I can see that the end is in sight.  I just really don’t want it to be because I’m starting another three months of utter nursing hell, thrush to multiple fissures leading to a staph infection and then topping it all off with a nice dose of ringworm.  I don’t want to go there.  Not again.

So I’m taking an oral rx for a yeast infection, treating it topically with the anti-ringworm cream that worked last time.  Pumping on the side that hurts the most and I’ll probably start giving Julie the nystatin as well.  I have checked with her pediatrician, but after the number of doctors I saw the last time this happened, I’ve learned that they don’t actually know any better than I do about how to deal with nursing problems. 

At eight years old – she is passionate, dramatic, emotional, inquisitive, maternal, loving, impetuous and always, always such a blessing.  She was born on a wintery, snowy, snowy day eight years ago and from the very first moment, she has held my heart in her hands.  I’ve never before felt anything so strongly, so instantly.  I just flat out fell in love, and have yet to come to grips with the fact that she’s my own little baby girl.  I’ve watched her grow from an angel faced infant to a chubby cheeked toddler to a skinny chicken big girl and now I’m seeing glimmers of the woman she’ll become and I’m amazed and stunned and always completely blown away by the miracle that she is.

Her favorite color is purple, her favorite food is Chinese.  She hates getting into a shower and hates getting out almost as much.  She’s a daydreamer and easily distracted, doesn’t like reading fiction but will pore over a science book or a book about mythology for hours.  She likes her music loud, her favorite destination is always the mall, and she sleeps with seventeen stuffed animals every night.   She watches the news, keeps up on current events and has a much better grip on this world than I ever did at her age.  She’s still happiest when she’s sleeping in my bed, or snuggled up next to Daddy at night watching Mythbusters.  She’s an avid computer addict, loving webkinz and y8 games, she’ll draw for hours, creating her imaginary world (LaLa Land – she’s got a map of the territory, a pledge of allegience and a list of laws).  She’s a stereotypical oldest child, with a tendency to take control of the situation (or be miserable because she can’t), she takes little kids under her wing, and holds her little cousin Abby with more confidence than many adults.   She’s an incredible big sister, tolerating Sammy’s little brother antics with a lot more patience that she gets credit for, and makes her baby sister’s eyes light up every time she walks in the room.

Jessica Mary – you are my biggest girl, my first baby, and my angel girl.  You made me a mother, you changed every last little thing about my life, and I thank God for you every single day.  I love you, I love being your mom and on this day, your eighth birthday, I wish for you all the blessings possible – I want you to grow up to be brilliant and beautiful, smart and fulfilled.  I want for you everything you could possible want for yourself and so much more. 

We went to a birthday party today, for Marc’s cousin’s daughter.  It was one of those ginormous party blow up places, where the kids bounce around like lunatics for an hour and a half, and then all sit quietly and eat pizza and cupcakes.  So I was sitting across from the table with Julianna on my lap, watching all four of my cherubs eat.  They passed out the cake and got ready to sing, and I could see Sam’s face growing more and more panicked.  I called over to Marc and told him to go get Sam – who, at this point, had clapped his hands over his ears and was closing his eyes in preparation for the onslaught.   Of his friends and family singing happy birthday.  What’s up with that?   He hates that song.  Always has, probably always will…

I haven’t posted in a while – and it coincides with Julianna getting three teeth in.  One is all the way in, one is mostly, and the other one is poking it’s way in and my angel baby girl is so unbelievably miserable.  In fact, she’s starting to cry again now… teething is the absolute worst.  She doesn’t sleep any more, barely smiles – I feel awful for her.  One tooth at a time – I think that should be the law.  She’s cutting all three at once, but staggered out to maximize the amount of time that she’s in agony.

And I’ll be sad.  Because really, how often does someone love you enough to want to sit on the bathmat and play with the Tums bottle while you pee?   It goes by so fast.  I couldn’t pay Sam or Jessie to sit in the bathroom with me these days.  Not that I would… exactly.  But I realized earlier, as I carried Julie out of the bathroom, that as frustrating as this stage is, as much as sometimes I’d like to pee solo whenever I want, it’s not going to last forever.  And I’ll miss it when my baby is rushing out the door, tossing off a good bye to me as she slams the door.  I’ll look back on this day and wish I could do it all over again.