Tuesday, December 30, 2008

He doesn't take requests.

videoNo matter how adamant the requests.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Self indulgent to be sure

I need to blog. Need. Sure, I have a million things I need to document – Ray’s verbal explosion, Noah’s memorization of the colors of his bathtub alphabet, questioning of the world and it’s workings, and preschool enrollment for the Fall, and of course all the Christmas shenanigans and hullabaloo. But the reason I’m here blogging is because of an overwhelming need I have to unload, to reveal, to share – about me.

I’ve been having a really hard time for a couple of weeks now. Or longer. I’m not exactly sure when it started. And I can’t pin it to one thing. It’s a bunch of things.

Winter depresses me these days. The season of sickness and entombment. The cold, the colds and the seclusion. It’s harder to get out of the house because it’s uncomfortable to just merely be outside. My skin is dry and itchy and my body cries out for just a little bit of sun.

Christmas makes me a bit blue. The constant struggle between the practicalities of Christmas – all that needs to be planned and bought and done – and what I feel like it should really should be – the selfless giving, thoughtfulness and mere enjoyment of each others company.

My Janette is moving away. My best friend from college, my bridesmaid, my guardian angel. To me she’s always been this incredibly positive force – this generous, loving, peaceful person with nary a mean bone in her body who inspires me to be less cynical. And we share a bond now that I share with noone else – she is my only pre-child friend (so she knows me for things other than being a Mom, understands me and still likes me) who is also home with her children. She knows exactly what I’m going through. I can tell her things about my daily struggles and know that she will instantly understand, sympathize and not pass judgment. And she’s moving to Maine. It really is heartbreaking. Yes, there is email, and twitter, and there will be vacations. But that really isn’t the same. Not nearly.

And of course that is the heart of the matter. Or the what’s the matter. My daily struggles. I AM BURNT OUT. I am overextended. I am not at my best. And I need to fix it. Fast. But I haven’t a clue as to how to do it without compromising my values.

I have made a commitment to myself, to my husband, to my kids – to make sacrifices. To put what I might want aside for the greater good – for the good of my children. And I am happy to do that. Proud to do that. It’s important to me. To us. But just making a decision to sacrifice doesn’t necessarily make every moment easy. It can still weigh you down, especially over time. I haven’t done much of anything for myself in over four years. And it’s taken a toll. Have I taken it too far? Yes. Obviously. Because I’m constantly snapping. Not so much at the kids, because I try really hard to keep that in check, but sometimes even that fails. But I am snapping at everyone else. My husband chief among them. He’s often just trying to help me and I end up biting his head off. I yell at him because I can’t yell at the kids. Because I’m boiling over and strung out.

I need to do something for myself. And I need to figure out how to manage doing it. And in my mind I need to figure out the bare minimum of what I need so as not to upset our life too much or be too self indulgent. Maybe it’s as small as actually sticking to getting out of the house for two hours a week to take a yoga class – but even that proved so difficult a couple of months ago.

Of course the big follow-up question is WHY on earth in the midst of this am I still trying to get pregnant and have a third? It took two years between the time we started trying to conceive a second and the day Ray was born – and there are many ups and downs in two years so I don’t think my current low point says much of anything about what things will look like a year or two from now. And though I totally realize that having three small children will be stressful, more stressful than having two, and require at least the same amount of sacrifice if not more, I know that in the long run I want a larger family and I am willing to pay the piper upfront. I try to think of my life looking forward and keep in mind what I want the end result to be and not to get too mired down in the now when making the big decisions.

But of course in this now I need help. Help from myself. I need to find a balance between the kind of attachment parenting I do naturally and what I need to do to keep some semblance of a ME. I need a calm center, a place to breathe. And once I find that place again hopefully it will be all that much easier to hold on to, or get back to. No matter how many kids I have.

I want to be a happier person. A less grumpy person. A less stressed out to the gills biting the heads off of the people she loves person.

And there you have it. End system dump.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our finest delicates

Ray thought it was hysterical when he closed the cat in the china cabinet. The only thing that tops that is joining him. Now I know why Gagama's china cabinet has been sitting empty.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feel the fury

videoLast time I blogged about Ray's anger Patrice and Wendy said they had never seen the dark side of my good natured angel. This video is for them.
Ray likes to play with water in the sink. He wants me to leave the water trickling for an hour several times a day. He pulls the chair over to the sink and starts making demands. And there is never enough. As you can see.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not for the faint of heart

Or the fastidiously clean. Lots of glitter and tiny paper bits everywhere.

Sugary sweet

We survived cookie day at Grandma & Grandpa Larry's yesterday. Seven adults, seven kids and three dogs all sticky with a fine layer of icing.
Saturday morning I took the boys to breakfast with Santa at Macy's. Noah was a bit disappointed Santa wasn't actually eating with us, and that the Nutcracker's Mouse King posed for pictures but did not dance, but otherwise it was a good time. Last week I sent a couple of friends on a wild goose chase to find scratch off tickets that got you discounts on the PA Ballet's Nutcracker. You would've thought the damn things were akin to the holy grail. Finally I got a few and only one had a 20 percent discount which is something but doesn't exactly make good seats insanely affordable. But still thinking of getting a pair. Mark will probably end up taking Noah if it is a weeknight show. (Boo!)
But aside from these few holiday outings we have been stuck in the house. Noah's cold is still pretty nasty. The mornings are full of hacking and the evenings are feverish. Last night he coughed so much he vomited in the car on the ride back from Grandmas. Hooray for holiday memories.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Here kitty, kitty

I think if Ray could talk he'd put this puma on his Christmas list.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday Tradition

I don't shop on Black Friday. Crowds make me crazy and I honestly don't like shopping all that much. Last year I did all our Christmas shopping online and at Target. And this year will probably be similar though I can't be sure because I haven't bought a single gift yet.
On Black Friday we took the Santa Express, a special subway line that takes Santa to the Gallery Mall for the official start of the Christmas shopping season. Then we march through the mall with a Mummers string band, dancing and caroling. Then we jet on over to the Reading Terminal holiday train display and then on to Macy's for the light show, Dickens Village and a hot date with Santa. It's a hectic way to spend a morning when we also host a leftover Potluck that evening -but I really value the tradition and hope to do it just this way for many years.
Noah is all too starstruck to smile when we sit with Santa, though he does realize he is not the one and only Santa. I like the magic of the Santa myth but I do my own version, explaining that there are armies of store Santas that report to the big North Pole Santa who makes all the deliveries on Christmas Eve. There are no Santa threats for behavior at my house, though we know that Santa does want us to be nice. And Santa only brings one or two special toys and fills our stocking, while Mama and Daddy buy a few extras.
After Noah asked Santa for a real monkey, a live penguin and the Hess truck, I was pleased when Santa explained to Noah that he can't really travel with live animals and that wild things don't make good pets. And then he said "I'm sure I will think of something special for you."
Ray already recognizes Santa - getting excited and signing for "more" when he sees them. Both boys really loved watching the Thanksgiving Day parade - Noah liking the floats and Ray delighting in the balloons.
We had two lovely Thanksgiving meals - a huge blowout for 27 at my Mom's place and a smaller family meal on Saturday with my Dad, Oma, my brother and his family. And our Potluck was fun this year - though noone ate. Everytime we have people over I debate with myself on whether to invite the families we're friends with or the old coworkers and drinking pals. This year it was a drinking crew that stayed later and got a bit more sloshed than the family bunch with which we normally spend time. But damn how I laughed. Since we don't get to go out to the bars anymore it is quite a relief when they come to us and we still have a good time. But damn did Noah have a hangover.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just like the Ipod commercials.

videoNoah enjoys his Ipod on the train into Manhattan. May beone of my favorite videos ever.

When you send your husband to the store

videoAnd he isn't quite sure what he should pick up, you might get a video like this.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Below snuff

A feverish Noah came running up to our room at 4 am with the news "An alligator bited me!" He later explained "A little lobster with a horn on it got rid of the all the other lobsters and then he told me the part of the ocean with the alligator in it was his favorite part. So I swam over there and the alligator bited my foot." He climbed into our bed, which Ray had already wormed himself into. And remarkably I was unable to fall back to sleep. When Noah and I came downstairs to his room he expected to see the gator but then ventured "Maybe he ran away because he felt bad for biting me and making me cry. Maybe he was just trying to tickle me." I dosed him up with Ibuprofen and he asked "Can we go watch TV now because I'm sick?"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Teddy Bear A Go Go

videoThe boys delight in a pile of $120 teddy bears at FAO Schwartz.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

watch out for king kong

Empire State Building, Cirque's Wintuk, & FAO Schwartz. Two small kids. Freezing temperatures. Ambitous. Exhausting. Fantastic. Memories to last a lifetime.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hot, hot, hot

I know. Another video of my kids dancing. But I can't resist. You can hear Ray saying "Cheese" because he sees the camera, and of course singing along with chorus.

Noah's Dance Party - clip 1

Miss Katherine teaches the kids the dance -based on making different movements for each letter of the alphabet. Master Noah is in the stripey shirt.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Noah's Dance Party - Clip 2

Kids do the dance Katherine taught them.

Dances with penguins

Where am I? Who am I? Who are you?

Seems I forgot myself for a moment. Or two months. Time is marching right over me. I feel like we’ve been busy as hell but I’m not clear on what it is we’ve been busy with. As always. Mark explained that doing ANYTHING with two small children is extremely busy. So true.

Noah turned FOUR. We had a DANCE PARTY at the Angler Movement Arts Center, where he has been taking a creative movement class. It’s not something they typically do there but in an effort to find someplace creative to have his party I pitched the idea to Katherine, the owner and she was really cooperative and affordable. I think there were 15 preschoolers along with their parents and a few toddler siblings. A nice assortment of old friends, neighborhood friends and new friends. Katherine did a short performance for them based on the alphabet and then she did a class with them where they duplicated her dance and then just bounced around to the music. The kids really seemed to have a blast. And I think the parents liked watching their kids enjoying the class. We took a few little videos which I’ve been meaning to load on youtube for weeks. But the best part of the party was that Noah was totally in his element. He’s not always outgoing in groups, but this was his place, his teacher, and all his friends and he was loving it.

One thing I have to mention about Noah is that in a group situation he latches on to one person. He doesn’t really play in a group. Even at his own party he was completely focused on his 6 year old cousin Aelan, whom he adores. In fact he keeps telling me that he is going to marry her when he grows up so he can spend every day with her. I’ve tried to explain about marrying cousins and told him they can certainly be best friends and roommates but he seems undeterred, even telling me that he and Aelan discussed it at his birthday party.

Another funny thing about Noah’s party was that he didn’t pay much mind to the girl he had BEGGED me to invite. In his dance class is a little girl named Evan - she is fair skinned with light eyes and white blonde hair with a dyed pink streak in it. She is totally adorable and also very rockin. And Noah has the biggest crush on her. After every class he comes out and tells me how much fun he had dancing with Evan – and even his teacher was giggling about how cute he is about it. A couple of weeks before his party we ran into Evan and her father at our local playground. She was running around in a pack of kids and not paying Noah much mind. He was upset. He kept dejectedly saying “Maybe she doesn’t remember me. Why won’t she play with me?” I explained that she was playing with other kids and he could join in but of course that isn’t what he had in mind. But before we left Evan said goodbye to him and he perked up. We stopped at the pizza place to pick up dinner and there was Evan and her Dad eating. We said Hi and headed out – at which point Noah told me he wished we were eating there with them. And then he said we HAD to invite him to his birthday party. So I gave Evan’s mom an invite maybe two weeks before the party and she didn’t RSVP. And the morning of his party Noah was asking me if Evan was coming and I told him she wasn’t but he would still have fun. Lo and behold her Mom calls that morning and asks if it is too late to come. Noah was so excited – and then ignored her. Playing it cool, taste of her own medicine I guess.

As we do every year we made a disc of Noah’s favorite songs of the year as a party favorite. I am certain the other parents are ready to bludgeon me as I too am sick of listening to it over and over again. I don’t have as much control on what he hears and takes a liking to anymore and thus I’ve had to endure a million listenings of “Hot, Hot, Hot.” Of course some songs I couldn’t put on his disc like MIA’s “Paper Planes” and Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” I had a hard time explaining to Noah why they couldn’t be on the kiddie playlist.

Christmas is coming. And I am none to bright. Noah has been perusing catalogs that come in the mail and only a parent who is a complete sadist would allow their child to do that. I have repeatedly explained to Noah that he has too many toys already. It really is shameful the amount of stuff we already have. No child needs this much stuff but our families and friends are so generous and I myself try to encourage his interests and end up buying unnecessary stuff. So I’m trying to focus on art supplies, books, videos, mazes, music, and dot-to-dots for the holidays. Of course he’s planning on asking Santa for a real penguin, a real monkey, a foosball table and an electric guitar. I think he might be a bit disappointed with how the holiday rolls.

DAMN this is long. This is why I never get around to blogging. I know it’s going to take me an hour.

And on to RAY. I was always able to kid myself that I was in charge with Noah but Ray is clearly the boss of me. He is so jovial, fun and good natured generally but I fear his displeasure and anger. I have this “just don’t piss off the baby” mentality. Because once he gets going, watch out. And I don’t have the stomach for it. Sometimes it is even too much for Noah. But damn that kid has a smile that could set the world on fire.

Ray has really started playing in the last few weeks. Focusing on pushing trains around, making animals walk along the ground, taking people from place to place. It’s a big change and a welcome one. He’s actually engaging in solo play for decent amounts of time. It is wonderful. He loves books. He’ll pick up a book and back up into your lap and hand it to you. His favorite is “Frosty the Snowman” because we sing it. He’s still a huge animal lover – snuggling up to the cats, pointing out every dog, squealing with glee at the aquarium, waving hello to pigeons. I’m not really a dog person – have always felt if I wanted that much damn responsibility I’d have a baby, I certainly don’t want to walk around in frigid weather, and forget the idea of me picking up warm poops from the sidewalk. (SHUDDER.) But sometimes I see how delighted Ray is just to spot a dog and I think he’ll someday have us buying a puppy. Ya know, if it gets along with Noah’s pet penguin.

OH- and I designed and ordered my Christmas cards. So if you want one and I don't have your up to date address PLEASE send me an email me at strangeafoot at gmail dot com.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Til he drops

Mama and the Ray Beast kill some time at the Target while Mac gets some schoolin.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A-Maze-ing

Have I mentioned Noah is maze obsessed? He can sit and do them for an hour, which really helped on our flights to and from Florida. And I think he is a gifted maze genius. Not just because he can complete fairly difficult ones pretty quickly and effortlessly, but because he's looking ahead and planning the path in his head before he writes. Of course a mother would never over estimate her child's talent and intelligence.
And HOLY COW - Obama is our next president. I had hoped and dreamed but didn't think it truly possible. So relieved. So excited. So proud. He has got his work cut out for him though. It's going to be far from easy to get us out of the muck of the last 8 and there are people all too ready to point fingers if things don't change the day after he takes office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Four years

Where does the time go?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Magic and action

The Wizard and Ninja wish you a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Outta the swing

As you could tell I was trying to do some limited live-blogging of our vacation. That may be boring as all get out for most, but I did it mostly for my Dad. When we planned our trip we had hopped he would be joining us. But because of the time off and money required to deal with the situation with my Grandparents early this year, he wasn’t able to join our Floridian excursion. And I just wanted him to know what we were up to. And that he was missed.

Our trip was lovely. We got to spend some much needed time with family. For those of you not clear on my insane disjointed family tree I will try to explain. We went to visit my 24yo half-sister Elisha (through my Dad), her husband Chris and their 2 yo Hunter and my ex-step sister Barbara (I say ex- because my Dad and her Mom divorced), her husband Ryan, their 12yo daughter Summer and 10yo son Sean. But honestly I try not to think with those labels of half and step, because family is family. If you are blessed to have good people involved in your life and those of your kids it doesn’t matter how much actual genealogy is involved.

We wanted to visit last year but when Ray was finally conceived it made it a difficult time for us to travel. So this was a long awaited trip. I am a bit freakish with worry about imposing on people so we didn’t feel comfortable squishing our family of four in the home of someone with limited space. And since hotel rooms are pricey and not really ideal for a family we decided it was most cost effective to rent a house. Our family lives inland and we thought if we rented a beachfront place maybe we could lure them to us for a little vacation of their own. And it worked. Everyone spent some time on the beach, and kicking around the house, eating big family meals and making little day outings. Everything went really well. Even flying with the boys went pretty smoothly. Of course vacationing with small children isn’t ever very relaxing, but it was good. It was heart-wrenching watching my boys play with Elisha’s little one and touching to see Barb’s older kids look after them. I have a bunch of funny little things I should eventually relate but the one I have to mention immediately is Noah’s fascination with Summer. Two years ago when we visited he was quite taken with her, and this time it was even worse. He was bordering on stalking. When she wasn’t there he was asking when she was coming back. He had to sit where she sat and do what she was doing. And he told me repeatedly that she was one of his "loves” and that he loved her more than anyone, except Mama of course. Sheesh kid, adolescence is going to be a bitch.

It’s insanity here. The city is going nuts about the Series win – and frankly not only don’t I care but I’m annoyed. I find it all to be so competitive, so us-against-them, so bandwagony, so reminiscent of rampant dangerous nationalism. Ahem. But that’s all in my humble opinion. Aside from screaming, honking and fireworks outside my house last night, there is some mayhem inside too. We’re excited for Halloween which takes some doing and organizing, and then Noah’s fourth birthday party is on Sunday and I have a hella stuff to do. Oh and on returning home our bags burst forth piles of laundry, both clean and dirty and we have to figure out how in the hell we’re going to get some of this shite picked up.

A proper blog entry about milestones and whatnot should come soon. At least before Noah’s fifth birthday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making it less painful to travel

Not too surprisingly, the Orlando airport is more kid-friendly than most.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Three

Can you imagine this as your regular shopping routine? Good lord.

Croc Hunters

Yesterday the kids really enjoyed the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

"Boat!"

One of Ray's new words is boat.

Got gator?

Chomp.

Boating

Enjoying an ecological tour of St. James River. Gators and egrets and herons, oh my.

Slow morning

The boys are taking time to relax and regroup before another busy day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Radio Barbara

Aunt Barb holds a little listening party for the boys.

Baby Appetit

Gettin the troops fed before a day at the Alligator Farm.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The view from here

Nothing between us and the ocean but A1A.

Friday, October 24, 2008

AT THE BEACH

A motley bunch out on the town on a crappy day.

Check and mate

I'm schoolin the youngins on the scholarly pursuits. But only in the wee hours of the morn.
Today might be a chess day. It's been crazy windy and rainy. So much so that I'm shocked this storm doesn't have a name. Word has it thought that the rest of the week will be lovely.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'd need bigger bags

We don't have to leave til next Wednesday. But already I'm wondering if I can abscond with Elisha and Hunter. I really hate being so far from people I love so much.

Cuzzins

It's been almost a year since we've seen Elisha and Hunter. That is far too long.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Number of the day

For days he has been looking forward to writing numbers in the sand. He saw it on Sesame Street.

not so sure

He is both jubilant and overwhelmed by the beach today. It might take him a few days to warm back up to it.

Takin in the local flavor

Stopped for late lunch in Orange City. Now to get back on road for one hour drive to Flagler.

On the move

We're off. Well, actually we're waiting around in the airport. But soon we will be winging our way to Florida to see my sisters. Peace out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another blogger, another post about weight

At this point in my life I can’t indulge myself with time or money. And so at the end of a hard day when I’m looking to reward myself for making it through, just keeping it together until bedtime, I have food and drink. Something sweet, a margarita, a glass of wine – something to look forward to sharing with my husband as the night unravels. And yet I am well aware that it is these treats that are preventing me from losing the last bit of weight that plagues me daily.

As far as I am concerned there is a five pound difference between my pants fitting comfortably and looking good and being too tight and looking like a cow. In fact I look pregnant. Those pounds go right to my midsection, and I look like I’m carrying low. I plan on dieting but sense of entitlement overcomes my willpower and I get nowhere.

Last month I lost some weight. But then I got sick a couple of times and it took me forever to recover so I convinced myself that it really wasn’t right to diet and nurse. Ray nurses regularly – about 5 to 6 times a day, and he shows no interest in cutting down. I feel that I should wait until he at least cuts down to really go back on a stringent diet, but then I look in the mirror and I want to spit at myself.

I’m not a tiny, thin person and never will be. I’ve come to grips with that over the years. But I do want to be a bit thinner. It’s not the pant size so much as areas of bulginess that make any size fit uncomfortably. But it’s so damn hard to do the work. And when I’ve done some of the work it takes a snap of the fingers for it to come right back.

At least it is fall. In the last two weeks people keep commenting that I look thinner when in fact I have gained a few pounds. I can attribute this to two things. One – it’ getting colder so my clothes can be a bit bulkier and more forgiving. And two – people must think of me as heavier than I really am, so when they see me they think I have lost weight.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spot the boy

So Noah's rash is as we expected - just the end stage of his virus and not contagious. But damn does it look troubling. I keep trying to take pictures to depict just how spotty he is, but they always seem mild in comparison. I didn't send him to school today because activity and sweating make him itchy unless I dose him with Benadryl, and then he's a tired hot mess. The doc said he would be a bit achey and tired, and damn he is moody. (HELP!) It could go away in about a week but traces might linger for longer.

When it pours, it deluges

Last night Noah broke out in a head to toe rash. It's most likely an end stage of the virus he had last week, and not contagious. But we have a doc appt. this morning just to be certain. Poor guy is pretty damn spotty and a bit itchy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Health Update

Noah is a million times better today. Yesterday his fever and sore throat were gone but his energy level was still rock bottom. But today he is his vibrant, playful, chatty self. Thank the gods. It may take him awhile to be back to full-on Noah - he lost about three pounds in the week that he was sick and though that is the 10 percent difference that Weight Watchers demands, he was already a spindly little thing who was already in need of gaining weight. And so for awhile there will be offers of ice cream after every meal.

likeness

What do ya think? Does he look like me?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

zoo shoe riot

The morning before Noah's rapid decline, we met my in-laws for a day at the zoo. It was honestly the best animal viewing day I have ever had. It seems the animals were enjoying the fall-like weather and making a show of it. In the photo you can see a female lion literally resting at Ray's feet.

swak

A kiss for luck. Took the boys to the horse races today. We sat outside enjoying the weather and being out of the house - without being too physically taxing for the recuperating boy. Ray was amazed by the horses and the ability to toddle around. We ended about twenty dollars down, but it was worth that and much more.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not just under but also out of the weather

It’s been a hell of a week. Noah has been very sick. The sickest he’s ever been. He has a severe sore throat that may or may not be strep. The doctor described it as being very ripped up and full of pus. Yuck. He’s had a fever of 103 for six days. He’s listless, whiny and clingy. He freaks out if I get up to get the phone. He falls asleep for short intervals and wakes up in a panic, wanting me constantly by his side. He whines “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama.” He’s not eating and barely drinking and I fear my already skinny boy is wasting away to nothing. He can’t do much walking or even sitting up unpropped and he spends much of his time watching preschool TV. After 52 hours of antibiotics I really thought he would have showed some serious improvement, but no such luck. It better turn around tomorrow. Not only am I at the end of my rope from lack of sleep, the constant unrelenting need, my inability to leave the house for days and my feeling so sorry for him, but I’m also a bit worried. I need him well.

Ray however is perfectly healthy and chomping at the bit. He’s a bundle of energy and has been fairly content to storm around the house and tear everything apart. He is a destroyer of worlds! He is actually benefitting from Noah being sick – suddenly all the toys are HIS. He can play with it all and no one will try to lay claim to it.

But before this blight of illness descended on our home – was anything new? It’s hard to remember. Here are a few things that stick out:

Thanks to repeated watching of episodes of the first season of The Muppet Show, Noah has developed a crush on Connie Stevens. It must be something in the way she sings “Teenager in Love” and “Close to You” or how she dances divinely with Bert. Whatever it is, Noah’s got it bad. He has written her a fan letter asking her to come to our place so that he can dance with her. He later told me that I should invite people over to watch their dance. As soon as I get confirmation of a date from her people I will send out the formal invites. No guests please as space will be limited.

Noah is constantly asking us to tell him stories at bed time. They have to be about Halloween and they have to be scary. And no psychological dramas either. He wants witches, ghosts and monsters. The one caveat is that at no time within the story should Noah and Mama ever be separated. Apparently we must face all evil together. Mark is gifted at narratives on the spot but mine are often pretty lame. I’ve learned that if there is a funny noise Noah can easily overlook the general lameness of the narrative. Oh and for awhile all stories also had to include Connie Stevens.

The two weeks before Noah got sick we were in a constant state of movement. I adore the fall weather. It energizes me and drives me to make the very most out of every day. And so we were at the Zoo twice, the Discovery Museum, the new Please Touch Museum (incredibly awesome! You must go, Lonna.), Linvilla Orchards, Frankilin Square, etc. And Noah’s in a phase where he doesn’t want a good time to end. So any time it was time to leave a place or leave a friend he’d ask me why friends and family members could not live with us and why we couldn’t live at The Please Touch Museum, the Zoo, etc.

Mark returned from his Sacramento business trip with a stuffed Orca whale with “Sacramento” embroidered on it. Noah named him “Spot the whale.” The title is very apropos as I’m constantly trying to spot that damn whale. It’s really the first stuffed thing that Noah ever really attached to and he’s asked to take it with him everywhere. And of course then I’m having to hunt for it later.

Ray is still in a super fun stage. He’s talking all sorts of hysterical gibberish. Every time I’m on the phone with someone they invariably say “Is that Ray?” about all the yapping they hear in the background. He’s big into balls, marbles, trains and cars – more classicly active boy than Noah was at this age. He likes to move cars around on the floor and make car noises, throw and roll. And of course I can’t help but mention the temper. If he’s doing something he shouldn’t, like putting a crayon in his mouth, and you give him a firm “No,” he will invariably throw that thing to the floor as if to say “FINE! Have it!” I try not to laugh but it’s hard.

Edit: Noah’s strep test is negative. Doc says he has either Mono or Adeno virus. Antibiotics of no help. Just have to wait it out. Told me to call her this weekend if he gets worse. Lovely.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Old friends

Three years ago I met Susan and Holly in the park. Like me, they were mothers looking for companionship for their kids and themselves. And so just under one year old Noah had his first peer group with Tripp and Frannie. We had playdates, picnics and field trips together. And though Susan, Holly and I are very different women, our bond as mothers and friends is strong. Without them my life and Noah's would have been so much dimmer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bust a move

We do alot of dancing and singing. This morning Noah and Ray started dancing together and it just about made my heart explode.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Monkey see

It is amazing how much Ray picks up from Noah. I 'm certain that at this age Noah had little interest in drawing. But since Ray sees Noah slaving over the page he must draw too.

Back at Linvilla

Linvilla Orchards is one of my favorite places. It means family, tradition, wholesome local produce and good old fashioned fun. I take this picture of the boys on the pumpkins every year and hope to some day make an album of them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All hallows

Already eagerly prepping for Halloween. I don't buy much in the way of holiday decorations, I'm not really a seasonal decorator by nature. But we do have alot of fun making them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The anxiety

Things get dicey while Mama is away. Mark took this photo when I went to the bathroom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Memorial

On Monday we got a sneak peek at the new Please Touch Museum at Memorial Hall. It's still quite unfinished but obviously amazing. We were there for a film shoot for 6ABC. They filmed kids playing with some of the exhibits. If the boys show up in any footage I will post it. But we really just went because we were itchin to see the new spot and it did not disappoint.

Curled up

Yesterday morning Ray curled up to watch Sesame Street. He really adores Elmo and Ernie.

Arty

Noah has always enjoyed doing art. Lately he is taking great leaps in drawing more representationally. He painted this cat mask during our art group and he did the design and colors with no help. And this morning he drew this picture of the mask.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Potato?

I think he has a future in customer service.

(Pointing to his hand is how Ray signs "want.")

Adventures in a Chickfila bathroom

Ahhh... kids in a public restroom. It never gets old.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I did it! Hooray.

Mark comes home this evening. And I have to admit this week went really well. We stayed busy, had visitors, had fun and every one was on their best behavior. Noah really was helpful and patient. He helped watch Ray while I showered in the morning and he waited quietly lying in bed while I put Ray to sleep so that I could then lie down and hold him. The boys even slept better than usual. It was nice.

That isn’t to say I’m not exhausted. Or that I enjoyed a whole bunch of me time. Mostly I tried to keep up with the housework when I had a spare moment. If Mark had to be away regularly I’d have to get some sort of maid service or move into a sparse studio that was easier to pick up.

And of course we missed Mark a great deal. Though it would have been worse if we weren’t constantly sending each other texts and photos. Ya gotta love technology.

In unfortunate news Ray and I came down with colds this week. He's all snotty and I'm losing my voice. I'm sure Mark is eager to come home to our den of germs.

Noah is back to school and loving it. One of his teachers is his favorite teacher from last year who got moved to a different classroom mid-year. He’s already asked me if he could have a sleep over at her house. He is also quite proud of the fact that now instead of having his class in a giant, toy-filled playroom that they sit at tables like big kids. They do a lot more art and paper work and move around to different areas like the playground and gym for more active times.

Spurred by the new PBS show Sid the Science Kid I bought Noah a notebook to be his journal. He’s head over heels for it. He’s been drawing little pictures and words to describe what he does during the day. He’s also been drawing his favorite things and taking measurements and recording them. He keeps telling me how cool it is and how much he loves it.

Ray is being very vocal. Just repeating sounds over and over again. He calls me both “Mama” and “Mommy” and sometimes he just blabbers on with the “Maaa-Meeee. Maaa- Meeeee. Maaaa-Maaaaa. Maaa-Meeee.” It’s super cute but honestly a little nerve wracking when it goes on for too long… (and I can’t think.) He says approximations of a couple of words but I wouldn’t say he has much of a firm vocab aside from Mama, Daddy and “Hi-yeee!” He makes certain sounds for dog, cat and book but I don’t think they are recognizable to most yet so I don’t count them. He is very firm with his sign for “more” which he really uses to mean “want.” If he catches a glimpse of you eating anything he wants it. And he wants it now. He is a bit of a bruiser and he has a definite temper. Occasionally when he’s frustrated he’ll swat at me, Noah or an inanimate object. I give him a stern “No hitting” and in return I get a crumpled up face and a whine. It won’t be long before he’ll be using sheer force to win all the battles with his big brother. Luckily aside from a temper he really is a good-natured, fun-loving guy. He smiles so big and so easily. And he just loves to be out in the world, seeing things and moving around. And I as I write that I have to admit I’m once again thinking “Like me. Oh GOD, he’s just like me.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Anything but routine

It seems to me that no matter if you have one kid, two kids or five kids, having some basic routines down makes it a hell of a lot more manageable. Sure kids are constantly changing and you have to adapt and be okay with the occasional wrench in the works, but it is a huge help having down your general time schedule - how you do things and when. And the schedules help the kids too. Kids love repetition and a routine. It gives them a sense of security and confidence. As a mother I love a plan and a routine. They are life-saving.

So imagine the trepidation with which I enter this week. Mark, my co-pilot, is off to Sacramento for a business trip. And here I am without a second set of hands and my best friend with whom I share the details of my every day. It’s just me and the boys for five days, 24-7. Sighhh….

I know I can do it. I am a fully capable mother who manages two vivacious, young boys for long stretches of time all by myself. It’s just… MY SCHEDULE!!! Every morning I get my shower before Mark leaves for work so that no one goes unsupervised while I bathe. CAN I NOT SHOWER? Every night Mark does the dishes after I make dinner. WILL WE HAVE CLEAN PLATES? Every night we bathe the boys together and then Noah and Mark “do a story” while I put Ray to bed. CAN I GET BOTH BOYS TO BED ALL BY MYSELF? And when Noah wakes up in the middle of the night Mark typically goes to comfort him so that I’m not downstairs with Noah when Ray wakes up to nurse. WILL WE GET ANY SLEEP? And every night after a long day of kids, kids, kids I talk and relax with my husband. CAN I GET THROUGH A WEEK OF LONELINESS?

Thankfully I have been able to enlist a few friends and family members for some help and visits. I’m hoping to transform it into a fun, adventurous week rather than a “let’s sit around and pine for Daddy week.” But I may have already made a huge mistake. Worried about putting the boys to bed separately and having to run up and down the stairs between them in the middle of the night I told Noah he could sleep upstairs in my bed this week. Now I’m thinking they will just keep waking each other up. I pray the sleeping Gods are kind to me.

Mark is such an involved father. He really is invaluable. I am thankful that his job rarely requires any overtime and that this is his very first trip away from us. When I think of how single parents do it, or even parents whose mate isn’t very involved I am flummoxed. Which brings me to politics. Ahem. Bear with me. I have a lot of stuff backing up about this because I’ve been trying to be good and not spout off angrily too often. When Palin was first announced I was blown away that a mother with a newborn baby would head out on the relentless 24-7 campaign trail. And then someone asked me if that was sexist and I said No – I don’t have much respect for a father of a newborn that would take that much time away from their family at such a critical developmental stage. To which someone reminded me that JFK had very young children. Uninvolved fathers were de rigueur in the 60’s but that doesn’t mean I think it’s acceptable now. I guess family values means something altogether different to me than Mrs. Palin. Of course I’m NOT an NRA member, pro-capital punishment, anti-equality, endangered species hating, BUSH doctrine following, pro-life creationist either. Ahem.

So… Mark leaves very early in the morning. Send positive thoughts to me. Oh and sleep. Plenty of sleep. That makes everything easier to handle.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bathtime

Ray plays in the bubbles after the water is drained while Noah enjoys post-bath cleanliness.

Squeaky clean

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The kids. They grow. And stuff.

I’ve been kinda lax lately in reportin’ on the chitlins. Truth is that things are just happening with them at a lightening speed and I can’t even keep up with exactly what is new and unreported. But here is a stab.

Ever since Noah started coloring in the lines he has shown great interest and dedication to coloring. He also has a newfound love of mazes and dot-to-dots and he has a fierce interest in learning new his numbers. He’s also constantly wanting me to spell things out for him so he can write them. I really do need to spend some time working on the numbers 13 – 20 and on the lower case letters – but regardless of my not concentrating on teaching them he seems to be picking up a lot of information by osmosis.

Noah will return to school in a week and a half. He’ll be in the 3 year old class at Bridesburg Rec and attending on Thursdays and Fridays from 12 to 2:45. The program is predominately play and social experience based though I’m sure they will do some light classwork but I imagine it will mostly touch on things Noah already knows. Next year we may enroll him in more of a fulltime program so this may be the last year that I have him home with me for most of the day. I hope to continue to make the most of it.

Ray is still in a hurry to do it all. He is a climbing, chattering, playing, chomping little fiend. And such a charmer. He’s really interested in talking. We hear a lot of jibberish and a huge amount of mimicry. His newest word is balloon – which are a favorite among toys. He is a fairly fearless bold little man. He will attempt to do anything he sees Noah doing. Anything. And he will demand anything he sees you with. I’m constantly astonished at the contrasts between him and Noah. I just spent almost an hour looking at the blog from when Noah was Ray’s age and two striking things are 1) WOW! I blogged a lot back then and 2) thank the gods Ray is a better sleeper than Noah was. Sheesh – every post starts with me saying how Noah had me up in the middle of the night and how exhausted I am. Ray is having napping issues now – seems he might be dropping that second nap – but damn in comparison to Noah he’s nearly Rip Van Winkle.

Well I’ve been laid up with a weird stomach bug for the last two days and I’m feeling just too weary to sit up straight any longer. Auf Wiedersehen.

Chick Please

Hummus, anyone? Forget the pita and carrots. Dipping is for suckers. I say - go straight for the gusto.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pimp Batman

Adorned in costume bits from the dollar store and the top from his Batman pajamas, Noah was out on the town looking fabulous as we prepared for Ms. Tracey's birthday party. Sure, we got a couple of cross-eyed looks but Noah's unabashed joy trumped them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eating, but not Sesame

We are at Sesame Place. My Dad treated us to memberships for 2009, but can be used for the remainder of the summer. It's been a very good, very exhausting day. And it ain't over yet. We are shuttin' this joint down.

Friday, August 22, 2008

and more

i was amazed and very pleased at how patiently the boys waited in line today.

blog test

on the carousel at sesame place. experimenting with taking photos with phone and posting directly to blog. it seems to work only some of the time. noah seems to often be doing this pursed lip, contemplative expression lately.

another one

He talks alot. More than you'd ever know.