Sunday, September 30, 2007

A first and last meeting

That good night

The last thing I want is for the blog to seem morbid – but I have another piece of bad news. This Thursday Laima, Mark’s 97 yo Grandmother, was found unconscious in her bathroom. It appears she has had a massive stroke and will not regain consciousness. The worse bit of it is that it may take her body some time to begin to shut down so she may be lingering in hospice for some time. Though we will miss her dearly, I have to admit that her imminent death is not nearly as sad as a run of the mill death. Laima lived a very long, full life and as a very religious woman has been anxiously awaiting death. As she has explained to me it is difficult for her to watch so many of her friends and peers pass away, including her husband, to go to countless funerals and to soldier on as her body got increasingly more pained and slow – all the while knowing that just on the other side of this life is salvation, a glorious date with God. I know she will not be sad to go. What would make her sad is the lingering, or even worse regaining consciousness while being drastically impaired. So for Laima I wish an expedient and painless death, and that her Lord and afterlife be everything she hoped for and more.

On the very positive side I will note that we went to visit Laima just two weeks ago. It was the first time she saw Ray and it really did feel like a very satisfying goodbye though we had no idea of knowing at the time since she wasn’t the least bit ill. Mark went to go see Laima yesterday at the hospital but myself and the boys did not go. If Noah is able to hold on to a memory of her I want it to be a living one. I have explained to Noah that his Gagama is dying – that she is very old and very sick and that it will be very sad to no longer see her but that she believes in heaven and is excited to go there. But it is such a complex and scary concept to describe to kids. To make sure he realizes everyone who is sick is not going to die, that everyone described as old is not on death’s door. But yesterday morning I had him make a card for Laima – to say goodbye, and Mark took it to the hospital. I asked Noah what to write on it and he said “Goodbye Gagama! I will miss you. I love you. And that’s it.” I don’t know if I’m handling all this correctly though since I’m just following instinct. Looking forward I think I will take Noah to her services but I really do not want him to attend the viewing – which will be difficult since I should really be in attendance. But I guess we will get to that when it comes. You folks have anything to share about helping a preschooler deal with death?

So, enough death for the time being. Noah’s second day of school went really well. He got the required four hugs and kisses and marched into class. No crying. And this time he did play with some toys during free time – though he says he hasn’t yet played with any other kids. Miss Laura told me that he was a very smart and funny boy who told her he was a bunny and hopped around the sand box. And also later she saw him with a faraway look on his face so she called him over and asked if he was okay. Apparently he said “I was thinking I should tell a teacher that I have to poop.” This week is the first week he will go on Monday and Thursday, and that the whole class will be together. I’m excited for this because Noah has two friends (Lily & Maia) in his class who have been going on Thursdays and I hope they hope make him feel more comfortable. Though he really is already on his way.

Well I have more but the baby is stirring and I should have been drying my hair and folding my laundry. Always a list of shouldas.

Saturday, September 22, 2007



I have never seen as much sorrow and grief as I saw today. This morning Mark and I went to the viewing and services for his cousin Stephanie’s two year old daughter Sophia who died unexpectedly this past Wednesday. Sophia was a seemingly healthy and vibrant two year old girl until she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and passed away in the span of week. There are no condolences appropriate, no sense to be made, no silver lining. There are no words. It is every parents' worst nightmare.

I can’t stop thinking about Stephanie and Joe, what they are going through and what they will go through every day, how they will manage to make it through – and also of Anna Rose, Sophia’s 4 year old big sister, what she understands and the pain she will always carry with her. I was considering sending a picture book on loss of a loved one to Anna Rose and as I was doing some research I came across an independently published book called “Am I still a big sister?” The title alone made me weep.

I am once again reminded to be so thankful for what I have, and yet I feel so guilty clutching at my children greedily when I know how empty and lost Stephanie and Joe must feel. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever endured this kind of unimaginable loss. And yet that means so little.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

His first day of school. Sigh.

Noah was excited. He seemed revved to go. In the morning he was playing with plastic bugs as I got my shower. When we went downstairs he bid them adieu by saying “Goodbye bugs! I’m going to school. But I’ll be back in two hours.” He told me he was reassuring them so they wouldn’t cry. He made quick work of his lunch (Thank God), peed on the potty and got ready to go out the door without a fuss. After I parked the car but before we got out Noah said “Goodbye, Mama.” And I laughed and said “I’m going to take you inside silly.” We had to wait in the gym for a few minutes until the Director came in to say “It’s time for school.” They put out a bunch of balls for the kids to bounce around while waiting. I could tell how hard Noah was willing to try when he walked away from me as if he was going to go get a ball but then just stood in the middle of the gym looking at me nervously. When the announcement was made I signed him in, put his name tag on his back and took him downstairs to his classroom. Teachers were there to greet the kids at the door and bar the parents from coming in. I gave Noah a hug and a kiss and told him “You are going to have a good time. If you need anything ask a teacher - if you need to go to the potty or even if you are just feeling a little shy and want someone to play with you. I love you and I’ll see you in two hours.” He said “Okay” gave me a shy smile and walked in to the classroom. And here is where I screwed up – I should have walked right away. But I didn’t. I kind of moved to the side to see if I could see if he walked right in to play with the toys or if he went to a teacher. He looked back up and saw me so I blew him a kiss, and smiled and he started walking back out towards me. Miss Laura saw him and guided him away from me and into the classroom and I hit the road. I didn’t cry but I felt choked up and a little physically ill but once I got to the grocery store I was fine.

I made quick work of shopping and even stopped at Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee (yes, I still have a very real addiction to those.) Even though I couldn’t pick him up until 2 and it was only 1:30 I went back to the school figuring I could nurse Ray in the car and just hang out until it was time to go in and pick Noah up. After I parked the car out front I got out and went around to get Ray out of his seat. As soon as I did I noticed that there was a group of kids outside using the sand area – and Noah was one of them. While most of the kids were hunkered down in the sand, Noah was sitting with a teacher. Miss Rose was sitting in a chair and Noah was standing in front of her with her arms around him. I decided to quickly move the car on the off chance he spotted me, but I moved it just far enough so that I could catch a glimpse of him while nursing Ray. He eventually moved away from the teacher but was just pacing around with his hands behind his back. I felt sad for him. Soon enough though they collected the kids and took them inside.

I went in at 2 and Noah was all smiles and relief to see me. He was still sitting on the story carpet. I asked Miss Lyn (there are 5 teachers for the 22 kids) how he did and she gave me two thumbs up as she said something I didn’t quite catch since Ray started fussing. As we headed back out the door Miss Rose, who looks like your typical grandmotherly sort – which could be used to describe nearly all the teachers there – called Noah her buddy, gave him a hug and told me what a good boy he was.

So what does Noah have to say? “I cried a little bit.” Why? I wanted to give Mama another hug.” (Which is SO my fault for not leaving immediately.) Did you play with the toys? “No. I cried.” Did a teacher help you stop crying? “Yes. She asked me if I wanted to color.” What else did you do? “We went to the sandbox. Some boys threw sand and it got in them eyes.” Did you throw sand? “Yes/No” (this answer changed repeatedly.) Did you have a snack? “I didn’t have a cookie. I had crackers and juice.” Apple juice? “No. It was darker.” Did you read stories? “Yes. A story about a dog who hid. And a wheels on the bus book.” Did you sing? “Not Christmas songs or that other song.” You mean God Bless America? (he has heard me tell other people that the school promised to teach all the kids God Bless America by Christmas.) “Yes.” Did you talk to any other kids or make any friends? “I was warming up. When you don’t know people you have to warm up and then you can play and know them names.” Did you have a good time? “Yes.” Do you want to go back next week? “Yes. I might cry a little bit.” Well next time I’ll give you three hugs and three kisses before I leave okay? “I want four hugs and four kisses.” Deal.

So that’s the first day. It’s about what I expected. I’m proud of him – he tried so hard and stayed so positive. Hopefully he’ll “warm up” soon. Until then I’m sure he’ll just follow the teachers around. What seems the most mind blowing to me is that now he’s going to have this life outside of me. He’ll have these relationships with the teachers and the other students that I won’t witness firsthand and I’ll have to observe snippets and ask a billion questions to find out what is going on. I find that so scary. I better get me an apron with some really, really long strings.

Argh! A mouse.

Pirate Noah's look is aided by the fact that he fell this week and lead with his face. And take a gander at the ephemeral moods of Master Ray - or as I'm calling him this week our Mighty Mouse.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Like sand through the hourglass

I’m still here. I’m managing to survive solo days with the boys. In fact it seems to be going fairly well. The secret to my sanity is just keeping busy. I have to get Noah out of the house every day because for me it’s far harder to care for the baby and entertain Noah all day at home. Plus the baby does better out of the house too – new things to stare at wide-eyed – that is when he’s not sleeping. So we’ve been to the Please Touch Museum, to the Smith House twice, to the library, to a few playdates and then to do assorted errands.

Of course that isn’t to say we haven’t had some challenges. Noah has got me racking my brain over two issues. The first is mealtime. Noah is a good eater. There isn’t anything he won’t consistently eat and he eats plenty. However he takes FOREVER to do so. He’ll sit at the table for over an hour with me begging him to pick up the pace – meanwhile he’s off in his own little world, talking, singing, making sound effects and playing with his food. I’ve suggested setting the timer for meals and if it goes off and he’s not done eating he won’t get dessert – but he absolutely panics when I suggested it. One night in his sleep he shrieked “Don’t turn on the timer!”

The other problem is bigger. Noah has always had a difficult time disengaging. If he’s in a zone, having a good time and you try to tell him he needs to stop what he’s doing he is less than thrilled. And when he’s the least bit tired he reaches hysterical meltdown levels. These are particularly alarming because Noah is normally so well behaved, so reasonable and so good at expressing his feelings. But when he’s shrieking, crying and making irrational nonsensical demands I’m at a loss. It’s like a Jekyll/Hyde situation. In fact normally after calming down he’ll say of his own accord “I’m sorry I was crying. I was a little tired.” But when he’s in the heat of one of those crazy moments there is nothing I can say to get him out of it – I just have to wait for him to boil over and run out of steam. This is particularly taxing when Ray is awake and requiring care at the same time. On Wednesday after twenty rounds of "I don't want to go. I want to do ONE MORE THING" I had to carry Noah crying, kicking and screaming from the Smith Playhouse playground with a sleeping Ray strapped to me in the Bjorn. It was nasty. I have to pull out my parenting books to try and refresh myself on the dealing with tantrum strategies. Suggestions?

Noah’s first day of preschool is on Monday. He’ll be going on Mondays and Thursdays from 12 – 2pm. When anyone asks “Are you excited to start school?” Noah says “Yes. But it’s gonna be a little sad because Mama won’t be there.” But I think he’s going to be fine. Today we went to an orientation and he got to meet some of the teachers and play with the toys. At first he was hanging by my side and asking me to come and play with him but I told him no and encouraged him to play on his own. As I suspected he glommed on to a teacher who put a bunch of puzzles together with him – and then he was ready to strike out on his own. I asked him before bed tonight if he’s going to cry when I drop him off on Monday and he said “No.” I told him some of the other kids, the younger kids might cry and he told me he’d help them stop crying because he was a magical king. I might need a magical king to stop my crying on Monday – but I guess Ray will be enough of a distraction.

But I have a feeling that Noah is really ready for school. Just in the last few weeks he’s seemed so much more social at picnics and parties we’ve been at. At a picnic at my Dad’s place he spent all day running around with his cousins James and Julius and at my Aunt Jill’s surprise birthday party he was cavorting in the disco lights with his cousins Aelan and Evan. Both times he barely seemed to notice I was still there – and that feels really good and also makes me sad. It’s like he’s a REAL LIVE BOY! GOD – the time is going by so fast already. Blink and I’ll miss it all. Any day now I’ll be one of the older ladies in the grocery store oohing and ahhing over random children and telling their mothers “I wish my kids were still that small” and “Treasure every moment.”

And with the passing of each day Master Ray grows. He’s two months old today. He’s really begun cooing, throwing his arms and feet around and smiling. His awake and content time is increasing and I look forward to him “doing” things like playing with toys and laughing. He is happiest in a sling or in my arms. Seems he didn’t get the memo that second babies should be content to hang out alone and untended to for long periods of time. Like Noah he wants to always be close and cuddled. Don’t know how on earth MY kids got to be so emotionally needy. Ha. Mark says “It’s not my fault. You are the one that doesn’t like to be alone.”

Hmmm. Me. What is up with me? Well I look a mess. I need to lose 30 pounds and I desperately need clothes. I’ve realized that for the most part I wear disposable clothing. I buy almost everything from Old Navy – because of the basic styling, price and convenience. And I only have a handful of things that I wear and wash and wear and wash until they are shrunken, threadbare or stained – so by the end of every season my clothes are trash. Add to that the increasing and decreasing weight with the pregnancies and it gets all the more complicated. I have nothing remotely fitting and flattering for fall – forget fashionable - and I don’t have the time or money to buy anything. It makes me want to hide in the basement in my maternity tank tops and faded, saggy Levis.

I have to rap this up because I have TV to watch with my husband. We’ve actually been Netflixing a lot of TV shows lately. We were never watching the movies we received – the two hour time commitment seems too much when you’re exhausted after putting the kids to bed. So we switched to shows and have really been enjoying Weeds Season 2, Extras Season 2 and Dead Like Me Seasons 1 & 2. Next on the list I believe is Dexter as well as 30 Rock. And I’m eager for The Tudors to be released. Also considering the 4400. Anyone like that? (I should italics and link all those titles but screw it.)

Oh and I’m SUPER behind on blog commenting but not so much on reading. I can get to a site and read with a baby in one hand and a toddler hanging on my leg – but can’t type. So I’m sending comments via super internet brainwaves. Anyone receiving those? Julie? Katie? Lonna?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation or, The Numbers Don’t Lie

by Marksthespot

  • Rode 1 Duckboat – received 4 plastic quackers
  • Visited 1 zoo – saw 1 baby tiger cub (out of a possible 2)
  • Enjoyed 1 Indian-American festival – wondered if Noah would enjoy a Bollywood dance class
  • Spent 1 afternoon on 3 trains and 1 ferryboat – in a big circle
  • Attended 5 outstanding family picnics – with 3 different branches of family
  • Watched 140 hours of baseball – spent 20 hours doing it (thanks, DVR!)
  • Made a list of 25 non-child-related “Things to Get Done” – did 3 of them
  • Rejected 2 onesies as too small – already!
  • Changed 150 diapers – got peed on 147 times
  • Was spit up on 69 times – less than expected
  • Received 12 brief infant smiles making it all worth it – 7 may have been gas
  • Acted in 189 performances of record-breaking off-Broadway hit Momma’s Got a Baby in Her Belly – played role of Big Sister 112 times, Grandmother 52 times, Momma 21 times, The Doctor 4 times and Tiny Baby 0 times
  • Received 0 positive responses to suggestion that I lay on the bed for just a few minutes before playing with trains – at 7 a.m.
  • Watched 53 episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood – saw Lady Aberlaine at 30, 40 and 50 years old
  • Listened to Icky Thump 47 times – participated in 7 “Jack and Meg” shows as acted out by Noah
  • Juggled 2 baby monitors with 3 receivers – across 4 floors
  • Had 104 nighttime sleep interruptions – and got off easy, compared with Nicole
  • Woke up 6 times in Noah’s bunkbed – with a 75-inch frame for my 76-inch frame
  • Experienced 30 instances of the joyful satisfaction of getting my child to sleep – 15 times infant division, 15 times preschooler division
  • Cut 18 tags out of brand-new underpants – 7 Thomas, 7 Elmo, 4 miscellaneous
  • Cleaned up just 4 potty-training accidents – in over a month!
  • Handed out 22 toys celebrating potty success – total cost, $23
  • Used 29 sick days, 6 vacation days – all worth it
  • Lost major patience 9 times – apologized 9 times (hopefully)
  • Gave out 1,172 unsolicited kisses – Nicole 175 (should have been more), Noah 397, Ray 606 (he can’t run away), all at once 14 times (yes, it can be done)