Sometimes, all is not delightful.  Sometimes, it’s just crappy.  Not awful, not tragic, just craptastic.  We were all sick for the past week and a half, one at a time, culminating in Jessie getting strep throat.  Julianna was the only healthy one, and I fear that I may be wrong in saying that she escaped unscathed.  Because she was up at four o’clock, running a fever, with a drippy nose.  She was pretty miserable yesterday too.  Actually, Sam was kind of wretched yesterday.  All in all, we’re all kind of in crappy moods and unhappy.  Which is why I probably shouldn’t be blogging, because really, who wants to read about my  misery?

In other news – we all seem to be kind of getting better, and I feel like spring is coming.  Granted, it’s because we’re having the oddest sort of winter, with one good storm at the end of October, and nothing since then.   I’m embarking on a new food program, I’m introducing one new meal a week to the kids, and taking over grocery shopping.  Of course, Marc just went out and bought a bunch of craptastic food, so I can’t start it for a week or so (see, this is why I shouldn’t blog bitchy). 

I’m obviously a big fan of breastfeeding your children, for as long as they need it.  Another bonus to nursing your toddler is that they really do tend to stay healthier than children who are not nursing.  Anecdotal evidence, sure, but it’s been the case, time and time again, when my older two will be sick, sick, sick, and Julianna will breeze thru with just a bit of a runny nose.  It was the same thing when Sam was younger, he was never actually sick until he stopped nursing.

Last weekend, I started with a cold.  I was pretty miserable Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday, was definitely on the mend.  Just in time for my poor Samilicious Boy to come down with a stomach bug.  Fortunately, he never threw up, but was down with a fever and body aches Sunday and Monday and a good part of Tuesday.  He got better, cue Marc coming down with it.  Marc started puking Thursday night and was home all day on Wednesday.  Got better just in time for Jess to spike a high fever and start complaining of a sore throat.  It’s Friday morning and the kid hasn’t gotten out of bed or eaten anything since Wednesday night, so we’ve got an appointment this afternoon with the doctor.  And thru the whole thing, Julianna has been her cheerful, healthy self, a bit of a runny nose, but overall, she’s the healthiest one of all. 

Last Friday wasn’t a snow day, exactly.  At least not as far as the Worcester Public Schools were concerned.  But I didn’t grow up in Worcester, and after almost nine years of living in this city of a thousand hills, I’ve reached the point where if it’s icy out, I’m not driving.  Marc had another early meeting, so he couldn’t drive them to school, and my road wasn’t even plowed yet.  I did attempt it, at one point.  I went halfway down the hill to where we had parked the minivan (because of the parking ban, we couldn’t park right in front of the house, and Marc’s car was in the driveway) and I got the van all cleared off, and even turned it around to go back up the hill.  But I couldn’t get any farther up the hill than that, so I just reversed back to the curb and decided that I’d have a snow day.

It was delightful.  Both Jessie and Sam were so tickled pink about missing school.  Not that either of them are candidates for perfect attendance awards, but if they miss school, I at least make them pretend to be sick.  They have to stay in bed and anytime they start to have fun, I warn them that I could still bring them in.  If you’re well enough to play, you’re well enough to go to school.  But on Friday – they were perfectly healthy – and still able to stay home, and their joy was boundless. 

It turned out to be a perfect kind of day.  They got along well, Jessica worked all day on her book report that’s due at the end of the month and Sam spent a good part of the day coloring.  I seriously considered homeschooling – actually, I seriously consider it a lot, because my kids don’t like goin to school – and Friday was one of those days when it seemed as though they might actually learn more, academically, at home, than they do at school.  Sam did colors and letters and Jessie really worked her little butt off on that report.  And they were both so cheerful about it. 

While Julianna was napping (God bless the toddler nap), we played chess.  My grandfather died about a year and a half ago, and I inherited his chessboard.  The one that he taught me to play on, and it’s especially poignant to play with my children on it.  We had snacks and cocoa, and I taught them to play on Friday – and it’s going to be one of the memories that I play back in my head when I’m very old.

I’m still adjusting to a new schedule.  For a little over a year, my husband was out of work, and we adjusted very nicely to being home together during the day.  For my littlest one, it was ideal.  For most of the first year and a half of her life, she had two stay at home parents.  For me, it was better than ideal – I had my best friend home with me, and an extra pair of hands  to help out with all the parenting/house details.  It was lovely… but now he’s back work and I’m missing him something awful.

Not just because my husband is awesome, I also miss having a buddy.  Someone to watch the baby while I ran errands, or someone to do the cooking while I helped our daughter with homework.  Now he’s got a great new job and is out of the house all the time.  We’re down to seeing him for a bit in the morning and for an hour or so before the kids go to bed, and even that little amount of time is in short supply, as this week contained a lot of morning meetings and after work networking seminars. 

So it’s just me, these days, at home.  Getting all three kids up and dressed, figuring out the breakfast dilemma.  My son loves breakfast, and follows a strict (self imposed) schedule.  He gets up and crawls into my lap for a bit, then eats a bagel or bowl of cereal.  Then goes to get ready.   My oldest daughter is baffled by breakfast and will frequently break down in tears when pressed to decide what she’d like, so now I just give her hot instant breakfast in the mornings (I’m this close to thinking that the kid could use a cup of coffee to get her going  in the morning, but thus far, I’ve been able to hold back from starting her on a coffee addiction before she’s  ten).  She  just sips her “cocoa” and reluctantly gets dressed.  I change the baby, and load all of them into the car, usually making it to the school with minutes to spare.  I make lunch boxes the night before and hope that I remembered to pack them in the school bags. 

After we get home, the baby and I have a bagel, and I have yet another cup of coffee.  Usually, she putters around playing with her toy kitchen, baby dolls and crayons while I do laundry, make beds, etc.  She goes down for a lovely nap around eleven, and I have  to wake her to go do the pick ups.   I get the kids from school, and depending on the day, either come home or drop my oldest at whatever activity she’s got going.  Then we launch into homework time, followed quickly by dinner/bath/bedtime. 

It’s not a schedule that varies much, I do pretty much the same thing every day.  Sometimes I’ll toss in a playdate for the baby, or a trip to go visit my mother or aunt.  Sometimes I  run errands, or volunteer at the school – I think Julianna is well on her way to being declared the Flagg Street Mascot at this point.  But I love  it.  I love little bits of it, I love the way Sam staggers directly to me when he wakes up, the way Jessie agonizes over her hair.  The way Julianna will ask for her nap, and sing in the car on the way to go pick up the kids.  I love the way they play together, the way Jessie’s mind works when she’s writing spelling sentences or setting up a game for the baby.  I love their little faces while they sleep, how peaceful and content they look.  And I love, love, love that moment when my husband comes home, and all the kids run to him. 

It’s  not changing the world, I’m not doing great things on a global scale here.  But I am making a family and home, and I’m so grateful for it every day.

I’ve got a cold, but thus far, it’s kind of a fun cold.  I like sneezing.  Not all the time, but it’s a lot more fun than hiccups.  Plus I’m also under the influence of benedryl and advil, so that’s helping as well.  All is delightful here today.  Both the older kids bopped off the school happily enough, and Julianna is zoning out in front of Little Einsteins.  It’s her all time absolute favorite.  She calls it “Pat, pat” and will insist that any or all of us that are currently home come and sit with her and pat in unison to get the rocket off the ground.  I think she originally liked it because it was the first show she could ask for by name.  But it’s quickly become the backdrop to my days… she  rarely watches anything else.  God bless the DVR. 

In other news – she’s got more and more words at her disposal now.  I’ve lost count, but she’s more and more articulate.  Usually just one syllable words, but she’s  got some two syllables in there.  She’s even saying some sentences “Need help” and “Baby stuck,”  “Baby Night Night” is one of her favorites.  This is a girl who loves her some baby dolls.  That, and her play kitchen are her favorite. 

She’s down to just nursing  a couple of times a day, usually just after she gets up and again in the late afternoon, and of course, she still nurses to sleep for nap and bed.  And usually once or twice at night.  Which doesn’t look like she’s cut back at all, nursing wise, but it feels like she has.  Because she’ll easily go without it, it’s more for comfort when she’s tired or upset.  She still feels very much like a baby to me, and I’m not ready for her to be all the way grown up yet.  I don’t mind the nursing yet.   I was so ready for it to be done with Sam, but Julianna is still tiny.  Sam was closer to two and a half before I started to feel like it was done, and Jules is still a ways away from that.

My kids are awesome at playing alone.  Julianna just spent easily a half hour collecting babies and blankets from around the house, and laying them all down for bed in Sam’s room.  Why Sam’s room?  I don’t know… but she was so BUSY and so cute.  She was going back and forth between the living room and  the bedrooms, humming to herself the whole time, and I was sitting on the couch reading and thinking to myself how great it was that she could keep herself occupied and enjoy it so much.   Then she came in and announced “Baby Night Night.”  She was so proud and thrilled with herself – I asked if I could see, and she led me into the bedroom.  She really did it – she found four or five little blankets, laid them all down and placed a baby doll on each one. 

I’m delighted with her today…

I have a January birthday (it’s the 25th), in case you want to send a card… and have always made birthday resolutions instead of New Year’s (on the theory that it’s always better to not go along with the crowd).  So here are my parenting birthday resolutions for my thirty eighth year (in no particular order…)

1.  Chores.  I always SAY I’m going to give the kids chores, and have even made a half hearted stab at doing it once or twice.  But then I don’t enforce it, it’s just easier and quicker to unload the dishwasher myself, or to put away the laundry while they’re at school.  However, that’s really a lose/lose situation – the kids don’t actually learn how to take care of themselves, and I end up saddling myself with all household chores.  So this year, I’m going to assign age appropriate chores and stick to it.

2.  Playdates.  I’m crap at arranging playdates.   But Worcester isn’t like Maynard.  We didn’t need playdates when I was little, because the kids I went to school with were the same kids I went to CCD with and the same kids I went to Brownie’s with.  But Worcester… the kids Jess sees at school are completely different from all of her other activities.  And there really aren’t any other kids in the neighborhood here, so a playdate a month for each kid is my goal.

3.  Stop apologizing for the state of my house.  My house is cluttered and that’s just the way it is.   I’m always going to have army guys scattered under the table, crayons wily nily all over the place and sixty seven thousand books everywhere.   I’ve spent years feeling bad because it’s a mess, all the time, and assuming that people are judging me.   And they’re not, my friends love me, love coming here and their kids love it.  It’s my own hang up and I need to stop feeling bad about it.

4.  Time alone with Marc.  For too many years, our idea of a date has been time with just our youngest child.  I love this guy, he’s my partner in all things.  He’s brilliant and kind and I’m incredibly blessed in my marriage.   We deserve time alone, and this year, I’m vowing to making alone time  with my husband a priority.

5.  Blog more.  I love to write, and having others read my stuff fulfills a need that I haven’t really addressed in years.  But more than just having others read my blog, I blog for the kids.  This is their baby book, my record of their childhood.  I love being able to go back and read entries from years ago, to see how far they’ve come and how much they remain the same.   Plus it allows me to remember all those little sweet details (and the not so sweet ones) that I’d forget without this record.

6.  Take more pictures.  Because they’re freaking cute – and growing so fast every day.  I already regret not taking more pictures when they were littler. 

7.  Do more.  Weekends tend to get lost in errands and just puttering around the house.  And sometimes that’s great, like today, we’ve got Lilli, Sarah, Glennys and Caroline over and the kids are busy, busy, busy.  But we need to do more stuff, go to museums, and the ocean and up to North Conway – visiting relatives we never make time to see.   I don’t want their childhood memories to be just Walmart and the New England Patriots games.

8.  Shabbat.  It’s the  first thing that I loved about Judasim, and always, the easiest thing to let slide.  Having one day when we eat a special meal, lighting candles and blessing the children, spending the whole day together, not watching television or zoning out in  front of the computer.  We need that.  And the only way to have it happen is for us to MAKE it happen.  WE have to make it a priority, or it won’t be.   

We co-sleep. Julianna Ruth has slept next to me every night of her life, and I’ve got no plans on trying to transition her into her own bed anytime soon. Sam and Jessie have lovely, lovely bedrooms, decorated, filled with toys, big inviting beds, with stuffed animals, special blankets and pillows on them. And really, given the option, they’d always rather sleep in bed with us.

It’s not an every night thing – mostly, they do sleep in their own beds.  While we were waiting for this new apartment to be ready,  we were staying with friends all last month, all in one bedroom. Breaking the habit is proving harder than I anticipated it would be. We all got used to kind of sleeping on top of one another. Staying all by themselves, in their own individual rooms, is hard now.

The other night, I had to gently push Jessie to sleep in her own bed. She had been sleeping in mine since we moved in, and I was beginning to think that she was just not ever going to sleep in her own bed again. At first she didn’t like her new room, so we went a little overboard on making it lovely.  Got her a new bed, new posters, rearranged it twice, and finally she reached the point where she was delighted by the bedroom.  We ended up finding a loft bed in one of Marc’s  aunt’s basements, and put that in there, with Julianna’s bed perpendicular underneath it.  Her room is so pretty now, and uniquely her, but she still doesn’t like sleeping in it.

The other night, I told her that while she was always welcome to sleep in our bed, I didn’t want her to not be able  to sleep in her own.  It was important that it be an  option – not the default.  She trudged off to her room, with this air of resignation and sadness, and I felt so guilty. As hard as it was for her to sleep in her own bed, by herself, it was much harder for me to make her do it.

And it occurred to me that this separation, this growing up, while totally necessary, it so hard. She has to grow up, she has to know that she’s perfectly okay sleeping without me, safe without me. It’s a lesson she’s been learning, and I’ve been learning, from the very beginning. And we do it over and over again. From the first time the nurse wheels your baby to the nursery on that first day, to the first steps toddling away, first sleepover, first day of school, etc… and it just never gets easier. I love that she’s growing up, I love the girl she is and the glimmers of the woman she’ll be. But I still miss my baby. I miss that connection, that all encompassing devotion and adoration on both our parts. Our relationship is bigger now. She gets mad at me, I get irritated with her. She’s got relationships that I’m not a part of – and that’s exactly as it should be.

But that doesn’t make it easier. I missed her terribly the other night, and after a few minutes, I peeked in to check on her. If she was still awake, I’d tell her she could come and sleep in our bed. But she was sound asleep, in her perfect pretty bedroom, clutching her teddy bear. I tiptoed back to bed, feeling both vindicated and sad. Because I was right when I told her that she needed to be able to sleep in her own room, and that she’d be fine, and a part of me, a small but still vocal part, wished I was wrong. I think I’ve always been like that – knowing that she has to grow up, gently urging and pushing her to do it when she’s ready, and feeling wistful and slightly sad knowing that she’s growing up all the time. One day, it’ll be completely foreign for her to snuggle up with her mama to go to sleep, one day, probably soon as adolescence is just starting to rear it’s little head, she’ll go to sleep, vowing that she hates me and can’t wait until she’s out of my house. She’ll be an adult soon enough, and I won’t always be able to whisper lullabies to help her sleep. And I know I’ll look back on this night, and wish I hadn’t pushed her to grow up, wish that I could go back and let her little eight year old self snuggle up next to me and drift off…

I’ve been without a computer for days, weeks, and thanks to Mike Wilder (a man I will be forever grateful to), I’ve got a loaner laptop until we can find a cheap computer to replace the one that died.  And honestly, after the two months that we had been thru, it’s amazing  that the computer is the only actual fatality. 

We’re in our new apartment now, and it’s delightful.   Lovely neighborhood, less than three miles from the girls, first floor of a duplex.  Three bedrooms, lots of light, GORGEOUS bathroom with a washer and dryer, living room, dining room that’s big enough for a ten person dining table and a little play area for Julianna, and a kitchen that boasts of a microwave and a dishwasher.   I don’t know that I want to live here forever, but for the next year or two, it’ll be perfect.  Long  term, I still want a house, with a dog and two cats and a ton of space, but for now… I’m content. 

Marc’s working away at his new job, and thus far, it seems to be working out really well.   His job has the added bonus of a company car, which makes my life a thousand times easier.  I’m very much an in the car, on the go, driving around kind of mom these days.  And adding in dropping him off and picking him up (especially picking up – right in the middle of dinner/homework) was tough.  But  now… life is back to smooth sailing.  Financial worries are minor, relatively – compared to how bad it was for a few months there, and now, I feel like my life is back to normal. 

And I’m unbelievably grateful for it.