What’s up with that???  Oh yeah, I’ve got kids.

I was diligent today.  Made all three beds, did four loads of laundry.  Swept out all of the bedrooms, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed the living room three times, cleaned the downstairs playroom, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.  And yet, I look around – and my dining room is littered with figurines and various plastic weapons.  I’ve got baby dolls spread across the living room carpet, dinner dishes all over the kitchen…

I read somewhere (Phyllis Diller?) that cleaning the house while you have small children is the equivalent of shoveling during a blizzard.

But Jessica came home, brimming over with excitement about her first real research project (she gets to make a diorama).  I grabbed Sam into a hug earlier and when I let him go, he asked if I could get back to squeezing him, and Julianna Ruth learned how to nod her head in agreement.  And she’s right this very minute, sitting at my feet, sucking on her toes.  Life really is good.

You’d think that I’d be good at this by now… but now that Julianna is mobile, I’ve got to relearn it all.  I also have to reteach Marc and Jessie and introduce Sam to the concept that anything, anytime, anywhere that Julianna could possibly reach – if you leave anything out, she’s going to get it.  She’s going to eat it.  She’s going to spill it, rip it, dump it, and drool on it.  So far, this isn’t going well – Sam, in particular, seems to have trouble remembering.  And of course, it’s his stuff that she covets most of all.  We had a bad couple of minutes earlier this afternoon when Julie delightedly found his pack of cards, and started gleefully spreading them everywhere, bending them, eating them, etc.  Sam yelled at her, and poor Julie was flat out devastated.   

Last night, I was putting Julie to bed, and generally that’s a super easy process.  I just change her, nurse her and out she goes.  But I had waited too long between the changing and nursing – and she passed out of the “tired” phase and into that psycho weird stage that they get into when they’re super overtired and just WON’T sleep.  Finally, I took her into my bedroom and laid down with her in the dark, with just the television on.  And she’d nurse for a few minutes, and then pull away, grab her toes, shove them into her mouth and suck enthusiastically for a bit.  Then she’d let go and grin at me, hollering “Num, num, num, num.”  She’s so incredibly cute these days – I just want to eat her up.

Jessica Mary and Samuel have reached this lovely point in their relationship and they just really, really seem to like each other so much more.   I’m not sure what is prompting it, if it’s just that they’re both maturing, if it’s the positive reinforcement, where they earn a little letter in the jar for being nice to each other.  It might also have something to do with Lilli and Sarah not being around as much, they’re spending a lot more weekends at home these days (I think Lilli is being bombarded with homework, she’s going into middle school next year).  But for whatever reason, my two older kids just flat out enjoy spending time together.  And I love it, love, love it.  It’s not that they never squabble any more – but thank goodness, it’s more a rarity and their default state of mind is one of mutual happiness.  I’m so glad…

Sam had started sneezing and coughing mid-afternoon last night, so I was pretty sure that he was coming down with something.  Marc and I, while somehow miraculously managing to maintain a completely happy, loving relationship, rarely manage to sleep alone in the same bed.  Last night was no exception.  I had recorded an episode of DC Cupcakes on the television in my bedroom, and Jessica wanted desperately to watch it.  Julianna was exhausted, it was around eight, so I took the girls and went into bed.  I nursed Julie to sleep, and Jessie and I were curled up watching people try to make a cupcake skirt (why?) when Sam announced that he wanted to sleep with Mama, and bopped into bed with me.  Marc, being far from stupid, jumped on board this train, and helped to tuck Sam into bed with me.  And Jessie.  And Julie.

Once the show was over, I put on another show, about beans, strangely enough.  Modern Marvels, all about beans, which was sufficiently boring enough to put Sam straight to sleep.  (I found it fascinating – and am considering going into bean farming now that I know what a moneymaker it is).  Jessie got up, wandered around for a while (I thought she was going to bed, she thought not).  Eventually, she came in and asked if she could sleep at the foot of my bed.  So I felt very mother lioness-ish, with all my cubs curled around me, and happily dozed off to sleep.  
Sam woke up screaming and sobbing at right around midnight.  Begging to go home, refusing to believe me when I patiently pointed out that we were, in fact, home.  Finally he started asking for Daddy, so I got up (thanking all the sleep angels that were conspiring to keep the girls out cold thru this) and lugged him into his bedroom.  Marc was sound asleep on the queen sized bed in there.  I laid him down next to Marc, who muttered reassuringly to him that Daddy loved him.  I tried to tactfully sneak out, thinking longingly of my own warm bed, only at that point, Sam had decided that he wanted only Mama, all the time.  “I want to stay with YOUUUUUUUUUU!” in that plaintive, sad, sick little boy voice.  So I dozed there until around 1:30, when Julianna woke up, most irritated that I was nowhere to be found.  I moved Jessie from the bottom of the bed, up to the top, positioned myself between the two girls and nursed Julianna back down to sleep.  Until right around three – when Sam woke up back up, sobbing and heartbroken.  I hopped out of bed, at this point, I was actually fairly jolly about it, and curled back up next to him, rubbing his back.  Marc and I spent about ten minutes trying to convince him that he was still home, and it was okay, we’d be right there, and the poor little guy was so sick and so tired.  He was coughing and I was thinking it was a matter of time before he threw up all over all of us – but eventually he settled down and fell back asleep.  As did I – until four thirty, when Julianna started yelling in frustration.  
He’s amazingly chipper today – and Marc and I are wandering around in a fog.  

Last year, I had the most miserable time at my synagogue’s Purim Carnival.  It was the culmination of years of crappy Purim celebrations – starting when Jessica was about a year and a half, and the rabbi dressed in a gorilla costume and scared the daylights out of her.  I remember a couple of years when Sam just cried and sobbed thru the whole event – the noisemakers terrified him, and big crowds of people in general freak him out.  Adding costumes and yelling doesn’t improve the situation.  Last year, I was so hugely pregnant and miserable, and the kids fighting non-stop of who would get which goody from the bags of treats that get handed out prompted my vow that next year, I just flat out wouldn’t attend.

I went.  Because that’s what you do when you have kids – you go to crappy celebrations that you’d rather skip because they want so much for you to be there with them.  BUT – Jessie’s friend Glennys got sick very soon after we arrived, and I was able to tuck her into the car, snuggled up under a blanket, and I sat in the car and waited for an hour and a half for her mother to get there.  It was awesome – not that it was good that poor Glennys was sick, but she was able to sleep, and I got to chill out in the nice sunny car with a great book and enjoyed the entire celebration so much more.  But as a whole, the day was much better than I expected, Sam and Jessie had a lot of fun at the party, and Julianna just flat out loves any kind of party.  After we left the synagogue, we went out for lunch and then wandered over to the park, went for a long ride and just spent time together.  I loved it.

In other news – my little baby girl will be a whole year old next month.  I’m shocked at how fast it went by, and so grateful for her, and I can’t wait to celebrate having survived the first year.  The first birthday party, in my eyes, has not all that much to do with the child and everything to do with the parents – because really, it’s a major accomplishment to get thru that first year.   Julianna’s going to go down in history as my easiest baby – but our nursing relationship is definitely the most challenging.  Even now – she’s almost eleven months old, and nursing is not always easy or fun.  She bites way more than Sam ever did, and is so incredibly distractable that it’s really difficult to nurse her if there’s anything else going on in the same room.  And with this family – there’s ALWAYS something going on.  We still nurse six-eight times a day – but at least three of those are at night, and she’s nursing just really for naps during the day.

What else was I going to post on – oh, yeah, the coffee addiction.  I get excessively grumpy in the afternoons now – and find that only a cup (or two) of coffee fixes it.   VERY unsure if I should try to wean myself off coffee (as a grumpy Mommy is no fun for anyone) or if I should just embrace it and plan accordingly.

My husband is scary smart.  Photographic memory, intellectually inclined anyway, and just really kind of all around brilliant.  He’s way smarter than I am about all kinds of things – but I kick his butt on emotional issues.  I’m a talker, a communicator – there’s little I like more than just analyzing the emotional ramifications of a situation, and anytime we’re in any kind of emotional crossroads, I can inevitably win the argument just because I can talk faster and with more confidence.  Emotions don’t scare me – I’m good at them.  Marc is confused by the complexities that having three pre-teen girls, an ex wife, and a wife present to him.  I think he frequently feels baffled and confused by the emotional ups and downs.  We’re not in a state of conflict right now, not really, but we are in a bit of quagmire over some issues with the kids, and I think I may have broken him.  I argued my point incessently (not because I want to beat him up with it, but because if something is bothering me, I have to talk it out until it’s resolved or it makes me insane), until finally he begged for a break.  Then he was all quiet and looked a little nauseated and shortly after, he left (about a half hour early) to go pick up the girls from school. 

I have to remember to not do that in the future.  Either that, or do a better job of arguing both sides (which I normally do).  On this particular issue, I’m pretty hard core convinced I’m right, so it’s tough to see his side, but I really have to try.  If for no other reason than because it’s kind of scary to see my husband at a loss for words. 

I went out to dinner with a big group of people the other night.  I knew a couple of them very well, a couple I knew by sight and some I’d never met before.  And I was the only SAHM mom in the bunch. 

It was just odd… so much of the conversation seemed to be about their jobs.  I couldn’t relate.  I couldn’t chat about various career paths, or who I might work with that they might know.  I felt very… quiet.  I guess.   I don’t know, it was just odd, like being at home with my kids all day rendered me completely incapable of carrying on a conversation.  Nobody was trying to be rude, obviously, because they’re all nice women, and I think they are all moms.  And it wasn’t that I didn’t talk at all, but I did feel distinctly out of place for a lot of it. 

Part of it is my fault – I’m very social in a lot of ways, I like crowds of people, I like talking, and I’m not particularly private (as evidenced by the blog), but I actually am kind of shy.  I don’t like making new friends – I like having them, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not good at meeting new people.  I’m not outgoing.  I guess that’s it. 

But I’m interesting.  I am.  I’ve got lots of things I could discuss – I’ve got distinct opinions on lots of different parenting topics, I can discuss current news events, I’m very intrigued by religious debates.  I’ve got lots and lots that I can chatter on about – but felt as though these people heard SAHM and just figured that we didn’t have much in common.  I’m not being fair, I’m sure, because they are very nice women, and I really like the ones that I know – but in general, I do think that there’s an assumption that if you’re home all day with kids, you probably don’t have much to contribute to the overall conversation.

Part of this is that I’ve been reading a lot of parenting books lately, one specifically that I’m thinking of is actually called Mommy Wars and there’s another one Maybe Baby, I think it’s called, that’s all about deciding whether or not to have kids.  So that’s where my head is – and I’ve also been, very seriously, wondering whether or not I want more children.  Having three children is a major statement, I already have more kids than virtually everyone I know – and that’s before I factor in two stepchildren.  Having four children (or six, depending)… I don’t know if I want to or not (Marc absolutely does), but I do know that I kind of resent people assuming that I’d be out of my mind crazy to even consider it. 

This is kind of a rambling blog post – and I’m not sure, if I had to, if I could tell you that there was one particular topic I was going for.  But I do know that parenting, as a lifestyle, as a choice, and how it affects every little aspect of your life, is on my mind a lot these days. 

I know – it’s been years since I’ve posted.  There’s been a lot going on – nothing of major, life altering import, but it’s been busy and hectic around here, and it’s hard to find time to check in and blog.  Even now, I’m typing with Julianna bouncing face down across my lap.  That’s her go-to position, when nursing won’t work to settle her, I just pop her across my lap and start to bounce.  Works like a charm – it doesn’t always put her to sleep, but it does always make her quiet and calm.  I think she goes into a little trance… but either way, it’s a quick, easy solution to the fussies….

Both Sam and Jessica are sound asleep on the couch, and Marc is at the gym.  Flashback… because he used to go to the gym all the time, and my kids always passed out on the couch.   With the new house, we’ve been able to set up a work out area downstairs, and more often than not, that’s where he’s working out these days, and Jessie generally goes to bed and falls asleep there.  Sam is still a “pass out on the couch” kind of guy.

My girls aren’t getting along these days – and by my girls, I mean, Lilli, Sarah and Jessica.  We’re not sure why – if it’s the beginnings of puberty with the older girls, Jessie acting out more and more because she’s feeling left out and ignored with a cute baby sister taking attention away, or if it’s just pent up stepfamily stuff that’s been festering for years.  Stepfamily issues are always hard – it’s not a comfortable fit, mostly.  I mean, there’s no way to deny that there are challenges and issues that we struggle with – even though we’ve had it much easier than most families.  The girls are so great, and it seemed as though for the longest time, it was almost seamless.  We worked so hard to make it easy for everyone, to have it be one big happy family – so having trouble now seems… just odd.  I would have expected this earlier on – but we hit our nine year anniversary earlier this year.  I don’t know – I’m confused and frustrated and trying hard to figure out how to MAKE them get along like they used to.  

Speaking of nine years… Marc and I decided to renew our wedding vows next year.  It’ll be ten years in February, and we’d like to have a Jewish wedding now that I’ve converted.  And the pressure has already started, my mother wants to have that “Say Yes to the Dress” moment with me, and I’m still not sure that I even want to get a wedding dress.  After ten years and three children, putting on a white dress seems silly – but I’d guess that you can expect MANY more posts on that topic.  But I’m delighted at the thought of celebrating my marriage to Marc – delighted that after nine years, I’m just as much in love with him as I was when we first got together.   He’s truly the best man in the world, brilliant, unbelievably kind and patient and loving – I don’t know how I got so lucky, but think it’s definitely worth a celebration 🙂

We took Sam to his kindergarten orientation this morning – and he’s still pretty adamant that he’s NOT going to be going.  But I could see that he was, at least a little bit, intrigued by the classrooms and the other kids on the tour.  I have a good feeling about it – it was a difficult decision to keep him home this year, and I know that pretty much everyone thought that we were making a mistake by not forcing preschool on him – but I really think that the extra year of maturation will make a big difference.

I’ve got a conference set up to discuss my angel girl’s report card – she’s consistently scoring either high average or straight up above average on standardized tests, but isn’t consistently performing in class.  I think it’s a combination of her assuming that she knows how to do it and not actually paying attention to the directions (because she does that all the time with me at home) and a lot of daydreaming.  Either way, it’s frustrating, because I know that she knows perfectly well how to do the work (and the test results back me up), but she’s not consistent about it. 

Julianna is definitely crawling ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Unfortunately, she’s not super stable on the crawling and earlier tonight, misjudged her arm placement and fell face down onto a duplo pig and has a big bruise on her little cheek.  She pulled herself up to a standing position earlier, Jessie and I were sitting on the couch together and Julie crawled over and suddenly was standing up in front of me.  I was shocked, and so was she – because once she realized it (and saw the look on  my face – I was really surprised, and a little taken aback, I had barely adjusted to the fact that she was crawling), she immediately plopped back down on her butt and started to cry.  It’s so fast!