Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cha-cha-cha-changes!

Last week I stopped nursing Ray. He only nursed at bedtime and not every night. I was always amazed there was any milk for him when he requested it. But last Wednesday he asked for milk, after 3 nights without and I told him it was all gone. He's taken it harder than I expected - saying "I am so sad," "I am so mad," and "But milk was my favorite." But then he goes to sleep. On Saturday he moves frm the crib at our bedside to the twin with bed rail in Noah's room. He seems excited though I know it's going to be tough to get them to sleep at same time. But the biggest hurdle is having anyone aside from me put him to sleep. I'm expecting many unhappy evenings for Mark in the near future - and Noah's cooperation though unlikely will be key. But it's time to get project BABY COMING under way. I'm 26 weeks today and times a-tickin.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guaty Tweets

I wanted to post my tweets from Guatemala. There wasn't a whole lot of them as texting cost me $.50 a pop. But I did it to keep some folks in formed of our fun and our safety and so I'd have another thing to remember the trip by. I put them in chronological order.

Yawn. Airport security is stressful. Are we there yet? 2:29 AM Nov 11th

Nearly missed our connection in Atlanta. Still trying to catch breath. YOU try getting thru terminal A to E, pregnant w 2 kids in NO TIME. 6:40 AM Nov 11th

In Guatemala City. Embarking on a 4 hr van ride. 11:27 AM Nov 11th

The van ride seemed death defying. Hairpin curves on mountainsides with no rails. But also mind blowing with culture and sights. 3:25 PM Nov 11th

We are checked into Posado Santiago. Roughing it wee bit more than expected. But incredibly charming. Look forward to dinner & bed. So tired 3:27 PM Nov 11th

N is totally cool with being on vacation. On an adventure. Ray is sad. He misses home and is having difficulties adjusting. 5:39 AM Nov 12th

Our cottage is sparse. Beds, a bathroom, a roof. No dressers to unpack - which makes Mark uneasy. Not lot of warm water. But very cute. 5:41 AM Nov 12th

Cant get online but texts seem to work. Soon we meet Dermot 4 breakfast. We may cross lake to see his village after. Weather is beautiful. 5:44 AM Nov 12th

Dermot's house is unbelievably amazing. This is what retirement should be. FANTASTIC. 9:38 AM Nov 12th

Boys enjoyed an afternoon swim in the lakeside pool. 3:08 PM Nov 12th

"Eat. Please eat? Will you freakin eat? It's eggs, french toast and fruit. There is NO reason not to eat! You are both killing me!" 7:04 AM Nov 13th

Took a tuk tuk into Santiago village. Had claustrophobic moment in the market, saw the church, the dock & having lunch in El Pescador. 9:58 AM Nov 13th

Adorable peddling children are heartbreaking but reality. Makes N's whining about climbing hills ridiculous. He is oblivious to the lessons 10:02 AM Nov 13th

Being an obvious "other" is always daunting. But worth it to see the world. The boys got alot of smiles from local women and children. 10:06 AM Nov 13th

Inevitably feel like on Amazing Race. Couldnt find entrance to a restaurant last night. Walking & bickering. "YOU do the damn Road Block!" 5:00 AM Nov 14th

Taking lancha (boat) to San Pedro. It's the more bohemian backpacker
touristy village. Will walk around and have lunch. 8:09 AM Nov 14th

Get in disagreements w Mark cuz he wants to walk everywhere w/o clear idea of where going and then we end up on death marches, carrying kids 11:58 AM Nov 14th

But tho I come up w crazy ideas to go on adventures, he does the research, handles the money, makes bulk decisions, even tackles language. 12:00 PM Nov 14th

How is it only 3:30? No wonder we've all been in bed by 8 every night and up at 6. 1:39 PM Nov 14th

N has some water in his ear. Patrice, Janette, Tracey, Katy, Julie - how do I get it out? 1:43 PM Nov 14th

Gotten accustomed to waking up to wide variety of wierd bird sounds. What are they talking about at crack of dawn? "How did you sleep?" 4:59 AM Nov 15th

Sad 2 leave Posada Santiago but excited 2 get 2 Nature Reserve in Panajachel. Wish bags would float there. Even packing "light" was 2 much. 7:31 AM Nov 15th

Mayan custom 2 carry things on head. Chuckled about woman chatting on street w backpack sitting atop her head. "Yer doin it wrong." 7:35 AM Nov 15th

Made it to nature reserve with little fan fare. Boys think bamboo room with bunk bed is super cool. Having lunch then hunting for monkeys. 10:37 AM Nov 15th

Aside from not having heartiest appetites boys have been really good about eating every meal in restaurants. Thanks markers & stickers. 3:29 PM Nov 15th

In Panajachel eating at a restaurant called Paris Paris. Oddly there is nothing Parisian about it besides the Eiffel tower on the menu. 3:31 PM Nov 15th

At Circus Bar so Mark can have beer & boys & I can have a banana split. Then back to room & in bed by 8, as usual. Wont see Pana's nightlife 4:31 PM Nov 15th

Up, up, up & away from Lake Atitlan. Van ride slightly less hair raising than way in. Though turns & exhaust still = car sick. 11:32 AM Nov 16th

Hotel Aurora in Antigua is beautiful. Big center courtyard with fountain. Classic dark wood carved furniture. Pretty flowered tiled floors. 1:58 PM Nov 16th

Also on main street & quite noisy. All 3 our hotels have been so different but each cool in their own way. In Antigua 2 nights. Then home. 2:00 PM Nov 16th

The only thing English I found on the TV was first Harry Potter. Now we can't pry Noah away from the TV. He is totally hooked. 2:42 PM Nov 16th

The Guatemalans LOVE Ray. Possibly just the age but probably his coloring has something to do w it. Tales of El Rojo will travel far & wide. 6:55 AM Nov 17th

Crazy. Strangers even rub his head. And everyone asks his name. 7:02 AM Nov 17th

Boys call the religious sculptures we see "friends." They want 2 shake hands & hug them. Me "Do not touch these friends. Just talk 2 them." 8:03 AM Nov 17th

For boys most interesting part of church & convent ruins are skeletons. We leave 1 crypt & all they want 2 know is where r next skeletons. 8:08 AM Nov 17th

Guatemala needs more benches. Possibly people r2 hardworking & busy to sit. I however have a hurty pelvis. It's hard work bein 6mos pregnant 8:52 AM Nov 17th

Antigua is for eating. Would love to have 4 days to just eat, drink & hang out here. W/o kids. @JanetteFertig would love it. 10:41 AM Nov 17th

Explored 2 religious ruins & colonial home. Had big Guatemalan lunch & shopped for souvenirs. Time for cake & cafe on the center square. 12:50 PM Nov 17th

Just witnessed local funeral procession out windows of hotel. Large, ornate casket w statue of Jesus carried down st w full band playing. 2:06 PM Nov 17th

N & R saw procession. I tastelessly took photos. It was Ray who cried cuz wanted 2c more. N is right now drawing volcano picture 3:43 PM Nov 17th

Our last night in Guatemala. Even the boys are sad to leave. Another lovely meal, ice cream and bed. And then a grueling day of travel. 5:57 PM Nov 17th

Mark took the boys out while I packed bags. Now sitting in hotel courtyard, listening to the fountain, enjoying sun & breeze. Breathing. 7:23 AM Nov 18th

My belly feels like it doesnt fit in my skin today. 7:53 AM Nov 18th

Have I mentioned I hate airports? So F-ing stressful. 9:49 AM Nov 18th

Adios Guatemala! Up, up and away into the wide, blue yonder. Atlanta, here we come. 12:07 PM Nov 18th from txt

Guatemala in a nutshell



We planned a challenging vacation. Challenging because I’m six months pregnant. Challenging because we were traveling with two small children. Challenging because we didn’t speak the language and were going to be obvious outsiders. And challenging because we really wanted to see a different world, different people, lives disparate from our own. And I thought that by the end of the week we’d be relieved to be home. But we weren’t. We were all very sad to leave Guatemala.

Our trip started out in the small lakeside village of Santiago Atitlan. A culture still dominated by Mayan Indian tradition and language. The people live far more modestly than we do in the United States. And though we stayed in a little cottage in a hotel owned by an American couple with an approachable international menu, we also went into town on tuk tuks for a few meals and market day. We had the wonderful experience of having Dermot, my childhood friend’s father, bring us across Lake Atitlan in his motor boat and show us the village he lived in – one even smaller and meager than Santiago. He lives in a beautiful two story, gated home with amazing gardens and breathtaking views but the 600 locals who reside in Jaibalito live in cement block homes with metal roofing. On another day we took a local boat to San Pedro to see another lakeside village, one that’s noted to have sprung up with a distinct new agey aspect and far more travelers and expat residents. After four days staying at Posada Santiago we moved on to Panjachel – the largest and most touristy of the lakeside village. The main streets are lined with restaurants and shops, with a far more international vibe and much less of the feel for Mayan tradition. We stayed in a Nature Reserve – hand fed monkeys, traversed trails and suspension bridges and spent the night in a very cool eco hut made of rock and bamboo. From there we moved on to the stunning colonial city of Antiqua. An UNESCO world heritage site whose array of cultures and businesses didn’t feel too dissimilar to Soho. The architecture and ruins, and the Spanish history put me in mind of Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, where I have long wanted to visit. Our hotel, Hotel Aurora, had a stunning central courtyard garden and fountain and our room was furnished beautifully – our first with a television.

And before we knew it we had to come home. It’s too early to say exactly what highlights of the trip will stick with the boys. Childish things of course – the monkeys, the pool, nature trails, the interest in Maximon – a cigarette smoking, liquor swilling saint the Guatemalans hold dear. I know Mark really loved taking boats across the lake, walking along the streets, the history. For me it’s always the glimpse into the other that I find most striking. Seeing sights you could not really imagine, the lives of people you never could have glimpsed had you not left home. A way to reexamine all that you know and hold dear.

I could go on about this trip at length. And part of me misses the journal writing me that would have kept detailed notes and had all the details for posterity. But I’ve got some tweets and some photos and hopefully glimmers of a trip that will last me a lifetime.

I’m posting 200 photos on Snapfish and linking to them on Facebook. I plan on captioning them so they make sense to someone other than us.

With the baby on the way it’s at least another 3 years until we can attempt another ambitious trip. But I look forward to our next adventure. Noah says he wants to go to Mexico. Hopefully by then he’ll know some Spanish and can help us out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My three sons


A photo at 20 weeks.
It's a triple! Relieved to be able to reuse the ridiculous amounts of clothes I have stored away. And honestly a bit relieved to not be raising a girl in the city. My teen years were spent living in the woods with the only boy nearby being my gay friend David. There wasn't much opportunity for getting into trouble before I could drive. These days the 14 year olds seem far too advanced and far too often with the 17 year old boys or worse. Just thinking about it makes me shiver. But boys definitely seem the easier route to me.
It's funny. I'd always assumed I'd have girls. I babysat all girls and I took care of my baby sisters. And Mark always assumed we'd have girls too. And when I found out Noah was a boy I was honestly a bit disappointed. The biggest issue with me being my hatred of sports and the perception of boys being so much more rough and tumble. But then there was Noah - and he's not very rough and tumble. Or very interested in sports. And he just felt right. He is right. He's my Noah. And when I was pregnant with Ray I thought it would be nice to have a girl just because it was the other option and I'm one for balance but when I found it he was a boy too I thought that just felt right. And he is. He's a bit more tumble but not rough. And he's my Ray. And now boy number three - and it's right. But who will he be? I'm excited to find out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Surviving in a world of no naps.

I’ll just start in as if no time has passed.

I’m 20 weeks pregnant today! That’s halfway. I’d say time flies but sometimes pregnancy seems relentless and long. And how goes pregnancy? Is it different this time around? YES! Very different. With both boys I had a voracious appetite – this time I’m squeamish often and occasionally not too keen on eating. This is probably why I gained 70 lbs when pregnant with Noah, 40 lbs while pregnant with Ray, and thus far 9 lbs halfway into this pregnant. This is a very good thing as I was hanging on to 10 souvenir lbs from Noah and 10 more from Ray. Also our Guatemala trip would seem really daunting if I was ballooning up. Don’t get me wrong – I look pregnant. Super pregnant. My body took to a third pregnancy instantly and I felt like I was showing in a matter of weeks. But luckily most of the weight is belly. Other differences – horribly painful and unsightly varicose veins that have my right leg looking like a road map, an irritating and large rash under my right breast that is constantly fighting with my underwire bras, and ridiculous acne like none I’ve ever had before. On the plus side my energy level is pretty good considering I’m chasing around 2 boys most hours. Neither one naps any longer so there is no rest for me either. I’m occasionally in bed before 10 but for the most part I’m holding it together. I’ve also welcomed back acid reflux and hip joint pain, it’s like they never left.

So – pregnancy very different. As a result I kind of think I’m having a girl. Everyone still rooting for a girl, except for me. I’m just staring at bins and bins of boy clothes in the basement muttering to myself “I don’t want any more STUFF.” We have our 20 wk ultrasound on Friday and are eager for the big reveal.

And what of Master Noah? He adores his school. There were no issues adjusting to three 6 hour days. He is making friends and learning tons. His school focuses on arts and he’s loving learning about musical notes, doing yoga, painting and drawing every day. They also do a lot of imaginative play time too. And now I’m on the research hunt for Kindergarten. I have to do school visits and interviews and paperwork. Our neighborhood school is most likely not sufficient for him so we have to see if we can transfer him to another public neighborhood school, get him in a public charter school or commit to paying for a private school. It’s stressing me out to say the least and I SO look forward to the decision being made and settled, of course that may not happen for certain for 10 months. He’s had another couple of days of atypical rudeness and defiance lately and I’m hoping it’s just another passing phase. It seems to happen every couple of months and then just goes away, thankfully.

I wish I could say that Ray was loving school. It’s been several weeks of struggling with his fear of school. He cries while getting ready and at drop off. It’s taking him awhile to get adjusted – but I think he’s finally coming around as the last two times I picked him up he said he had fun and gushed about all the things he did. He’s in a very clingy stage – partially brought on by school and probably also having to do with my pregnancy. He takes a tumbling class now – one in which I participate with him – and though every other kid in his class allows the teacher to help them with the trick of the day, he won’t allow anyone but me to help him. He wants me to do everything for him, even complaining if Mark tries to change his diaper, and sometimes he doesn’t even want to let me shower. I really don’t mind clingy much, I like being needed. But with only 20 weeks until a newborn I’m a bit stressed out about his need to transition to sleeping in a room with Noah, with Mark able to put him to sleep and do bath without screams of agony. But that aside – I can’t say enough wonderful things about Ray. This really is my favorite age. He’s just so joyous, loving and fun. I am really enjoying having quality time with him while Noah is at school.

What else has been up? We’ve been insanely busy, but that seems usual for us. Family visits, shopping, library visits, field trips, fall frolicking. It keeps us very busy. And on days with no plans I go a little crazy.

I’ve also been co-teaching a science and nature discovery playgroup for kids Noah’s age. We meet weekly and read a picture book on a topic like gravity, shadows, the senses, the chemistry of cooking – and then do a relevant experiment. It’s been a bit of work but also a lot of fun. Nice to do a little something extra outside of just Mom-ing. And both boys seem to be getting something out of it.

Guatemala! It’s 3 and a half weeks away. We have a few more plans to cobble into place. We are very excited. I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve not had much time to work on my Spanish but I’m sure we will be fine as both hotels we are staying in are run by English speakers. The big challenge is going to be the first day of travel – it will consist of 2 three hour flights and a 3 hour shuttle ride – and with waiting I anticipate it to be a 12 hour slog of a day starting at 4 am. But if we survive that day we will be golden. On second thought the packing may be the hardest. I hate packing – especially under size and weight constraints. But it’s going to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Oh Noah’s fifth birthday is 2 weeks away. We’re having his party at a farm with a hayride and whatnot. It should be fun if the weather isn’t frigid and rainy. Five. I can’t believe it. I keep worrying that he is going to stop being fun. But it’s still so fun to share new things with him – David Bowie, Where the Wild Things Are, books like Hugo Cabret, shows by Cirque du Soleil. He seems so inspired by everything. That sort of childlike awe and appreciation of things new is part of what makes being with the kids so awesome for me. I hope that the eagerness to discover new things in art, in people, in the world is something I can instill in them for life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye - we've got news.


As all of you have probably heard from word of mouth and various social medias, I am 12 weeks pregnant with number 3. We are thrilled. This will most likely be our last child, though I would totally consider a fourth I think it’d be pushing Mark’s limits of reason, and so I’m already thinking sadly of “my last pregnancy,” “my last baby” and how all very bittersweet each stage is going to be. I’m due March 9th but since the boys were born 2 and 3 weeks early I’ll be surprised to make it past the end of February.

The majority has spoken, meaning everyone but me, and they want a baby girl. I’m a bit worried about having a little girl – I’m not all that girly and also quite cautious about societal expectations of beauty and femininity, especially the way young girls are sexed up from such an early age – plus I have a basement full of boy clothes I’d love to put to use again. But on the other hand I’d like Mark to have the “Daddy’s Little Girl” experience and the boys are rallying hard for a “sister baby.” And in the end we get what we get and will adore him/her.

I’m feeling as well as could be expected. Luckily I’m not a puker. I get nauseated frequently, I’m sometimes put off by certain foods and I’m tired, especially mid-afternoon. But mostly I am doing very well.

The other big news? We are going to Guatemala for a week in November. Yes, I’ll be 6 months pregnant. No we haven’t been before. So why Guatemala? A few reasons. A close friend since childhood recommended it last winter. His father went to visit and loved it so much he bought a house on Lake Atitlan. My friend explained how amazing and inexpensive it was and how much I would love it. And as soon as I looked at pictures of Lake Atitlan I was sold. I would be going. The question was when. Once I had Guatemala on the brain I remembered that a neighbor had adopted her daughter from Guatemala so I sent her an email requesting information on her experience. She said “GO!” She sent me hotel recommendations for Atitlan and the city of Antigua, she was incredibly encouraging. I was so fired up about it Mark bought me a guide book. But then I got worried. Worried about not knowing enough Spanish. About it being a stressful trip to take with the kids, especially when all trips were stressful with 2 small kids. And so we set the idea aside and ended up in Williamsburg, VA.

But talk of a vacation arose again after we got pregnant. We want to take a last vacation as a foursome. There were little plans like the Poconos (not enough) and big plans like a resort in the Bahamas (easy but insanely expensive and not really who we are.) And then I picked up my Guatemala travel book again. And I read this:

“Traveling with Children
It can be exceptionally rewarding to travel with children in Guatemala. Most locals have children at an early age, and as families are much larger than in the West, your kids will always have some company. By bringing your children along to Guatemala, you’ll take a big step toward dismantling the culture barrier, plus families can expect an extra warm welcome. Hotels, well used to putting up big Guatemalan families, are usually extremely accommodating.”

That sold me. I started looking at airfare again and when I found our flights for $1000 less than the last time I looked, I snapped them up. And did I mention that it is extremely inexpensive to stay and eat in Guatemala? And so we are able to take a BIG vacation without spending BIG bucks. And we're now studying travel Spanish.

So Guatemala! Everyone has their worries and words of caution. As do we. Though I want to be a carefree world traveler I’ve always been far too cautious to go anywhere without a lot of study and consideration. We are doing our research and making sure we make the right choices for our family. We will spend most of our time enjoying the scenery and quiet of Lake Atitlan – an incredibly lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes. It’s not the right trip for treks to Mayan ruins and tours of the rain forest. We’ll spend 2 days doing light sightseeing in the city of Antigua, described as the most beautiful and well preserved colonial cities in our hemisphere. And we’re going to places that our friends have enjoyed and recommend heartily.

When we went to Morocco for our honeymoon, a Muslim country in 2002, we got a lot of grimaces from friends and family. And though the reading we did put our mind at ease and excited us for an other-worldly vacation, we still had our own concerns that we had to repeatedly reassure. Fears of being treated badly because we were American, and concerns about illness. But of course our trip was fantastic. It was one of those life and personality defining moments. And that is the main reason for Guatemala – we want our kids to be excited by the world, the differences in people, cultures, religions, foods. We want them to want to see everything and meet everyone. To hunger for new experiences and new understanding. And that starts with us. And it starts now.

It won’t be an easy trip. Our first day will probably be 12 hours of travel starting at 4am - a taxi, 2 flights, a 3 hour shuttle ride, and a 45 minute boat ride before arriving at our hotel. And then there is the management of wee people. That’s always the hard no matter what the locale. But when we get back – we will have been to Guatemala! Wait til you see the pictures!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School daze

This week the whole family went to an open house at Noah's new school. To bring you up to date: because of his November birthdate Noah does not start Kindergarten until next year, in Philadelphia Kindergarten is a mandatory fulltime program, up until this summer Noah went to school only for two 3 hour days a week. For the upcoming year we decided way back in December that we were going to send him to Young Children's Center for the Arts for three 6 hour days starting this Fall. This seemed to me a great interim step before a fulltime kindergarten program for next year and I have known people to rave about their program which is small and private with daily music and art as well as weekly dance and yoga. Noah will have a friend and neighbor in his class who we will be splitting carpool duties. The cost is a helluva lot more than the $60 a month we were paying, and will be coming out of savings but we feel it is a necessity for his happiness and growth. This week was the first time Noah saw the school. He also got to spend some quality time with his new teacher. And now he is absolutely breathless with anticipation. He is counting down days til he starts - 26 as of this moment.
Ray also enjoyed the open house. They had a teacher to play with kids in an adjoining room with a closed door and I wasn't quite sure if Ray would stay with me or not, but he happily went next door to play for an hour and a half - when most of the other small kids came back to their parents. This is a huge relief for me as Ray is so start the 2 year old program at Noah's old school in September. He'll be going to two 2 hour days and I am now pretty confident that he is ready and will enjoy it.
The result of the new school schedule will result in some quality time for me and Ray, 2 hours a week to grocery shop ALONE, and 2 hours for just Noah and I. Course it also means less time for just making plans to spend time with friends, hang at museums, to just enjoy my kids with less structured lives - but I guess this is the way it goes. I'm sure I will come up with something else to distract me. Ahem.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

On the stoop

Ray and Noah sit on the front steps with their friend Miss Maia.

Not that ya asked.

Hot damn! Time is flying by. Buckle up and watch me repeat the same damn stuff AGAIN.

Ray turned 2! We had a little party at the house with family and a few of our closest friends. It had a fish theme since Ray’s been enjoying the Aquarium so much. The decorations, cake and gift bags were fishy. I even had out a tray of assorted Goldfish crackers. And of course we had to make a disc. For Noah’s birthdays every year we have made a disc of some of his favorite songs of the year but we can’t really do that for Ray too as there would be far too much overlap. But I like the tradition of the discs and friends seem to enjoy getting them as favors so I decided to extend the theme to the disc and therefore we had a “Sea” themed selection of songs. Ray’s favorites are “Rock The Boat” and “Under The Boardwalk” while I tend to favor “Ocean Size,” “I Come From the Water” and “Barracuda.” And of course my Mom can’t be topped so she got the boys two goldfish for Ray’s birthday including a whole aquarium, filter, food, stones and décor. I was sure they’d be dead within a week but they are still going strong and still holding the kids interest.

Ray LOVED his party. For Noah’s first two birthday parties I wasn’t’ too sure he could enjoy that the parties were for him and not be too overwhelmed by all the people. But Ray KNEW the party was for him and he was loving it. He loved the cake, the balloons, and all his friends and family being here. It’s a month later and he’s still talking about it.

And Ray talks about everything. EVERYTHING! Ray is talking in full sentences and will comment on anything. He also loves to repeat himself and ask questions. People think I am exaggerating until they spend enough time for his reserve to melt away – and then they are like MY GOD! And I can’t adequately express how funny and sweet and adorable he is right now. He’s so joyous and courteous and thoughtful. He astounds me. I want to keep him like this forever.

He’s also gotten a lot better recently with me going out for a few hours. The date nights when we take the boys to my friends Wendy’s house and the girls nights when I meet friends for dinner for a few hours once a month have paid off. Now I can tell him I’m going out to dinner and I will be home soon and he says “Have fun, Mama!” I do believe he will be equipped to tackle his two hours, twice a week school days that start in September with very little transition.

Ray is also sleeping like a champ at night. He rarely wakes up during the night these days. He’s still in his crib by our bed but in the coming months we plan to move him to a twin bed in Noah’s room. We’ll then move a bunch of the toy shelves in Noah’s room into the room we had been calling Ray’s room. So far Noah is on board with this plan, I hope that doesn’t change. Of course the biggest hurdle is getting Ray to go to sleep without nursing at night. Very often this is the only time he nurses all day. Well, that is when he doesn’t nap which is all too frequently. I can’t believe he’s about to drop his nap. (Weeping.) But he really only seems to be at a sleep deficit without it every three days – and it is so much harder to get him to bed at night on days when he has one. I fear napping will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

Noah is a giant among four year olds. He’s so long and lean, and with my Mom’s dark skin. He’s a tan string bean. And the boy has become a social butterfly. I would never have predicted this from the boy who hung at my knee for every play group for a year. But there he is – just running off to play with neighborhood kids he knows marginally. He seems so confident right now. I know he’s actually excited to start going to more school in September.

He does seem to be going through an emotional phase. One in which a mere shift in his plan can result in hardcore defeated sadness. Like one second he’s having a great time and all smiles and then an unforeseen dilemma arises and he falls into a puddle of ick. But aside from the occasional emotional outburst he remains a really good kid at heart. I get a frustrated with him on a daily basis when he and his brother squabble over every little thing from which lunch plate they get to who gets to turn on the TV, and I expect him to let up a bit since he's not the two year old, but then I remind myself that this is what siblings do. They fight. They compete. And when it comes down to it he really is a good big brother, with the occasional foible.

He remains ever faithful to his spy fixation. I forsee a lifetime of this and a diehard Bond fan in the making. I’m thrilled that he really loves books. Mark reads chapter books with him every night while I am putting Ray to sleep. And not just preschool stuff. I’m really amazed at how he listens to Peter Pan & Wendy with such rapt attention when some of the subject matter and language is so adult. But he loves it. Sadly his own reading has still not progressed. He got frustrated that it wasn’t effortless to learn and now when you even ask him to sound out a word he refuses to try. And yet he keeps telling me he wants to learn. This week I got him some new workbooks and hopefully a new approach will work.

We went to the beach with my Mom, her husband and his kids and grandkids in July. We could not have asked for a nicer week. The weather was near perfect and the kids all got along so well. Noah and his step-cousin Chase were inseparable. Both boys continued to love the water and Noah learned to boogie board. Of course the biggest part of the week to them was the amusement piers. My boys are ride obsessed. Even Ray, who has gotten motion sickness on a few rides and therefore will only ride the most timid ones, is still obsessing about the roller coasters. As always it’s all about recreation at our house so there was been all manner of roller coaster constructions to act out a zillion rides. The boys are asking to go back to the boardwalk regularly. We’ll probably take another day trip before the summer ends.

And that’s all the boring, catch up type stuff I have for the moment. Trying to remember important things once a month bites. I really need to get back to doing this more often or at least keep better notes so the posts aren’t so scattered and boring. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. I have been reading a lot more lately - really happy about that. And…. fade to grey.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I said AT the table

Noah went to his first day of camp today. He'll be there playing on the playground, dancing in the sprinklers, drawing and making friends for FOUR WHOLE HOURS! That is the longest he has ever been to school. I even packed his lunch. He is more ready than I. His only anxiety was about how to get open the Gladware containers I put his lunch in. That was really stressing him out. We had to practice. But Ray was the most upset by todays events. He wanted to "come too" and when we left he cried "I want Noah!" As the first born Noah recognizes the beauty of having complete parental attention without sharing. But Ray doesn't. Being with Noah is more fun than without. I once read that the first child is born into a world of adults while all subsequent children are born into a world of childhood. It is so true and realy must shape how they see the world. I think about that almost daily as I watch Ray follow Noah around, so enamoured by his big brother. I am so thankful to be able to witness it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"He is a talking machine" sayeth the older one.

I never thought another child could rival Noah’s talkativeness. At home he’s always chattering away – narrating some sort of story or show, asking deep questions or requesting a snack, a playmate, or just an ear to chatter at. However I do believe that Ray will be definitely as chatty if not more. The kid is completely conversational already. He understands what you are saying and he isn’t afraid to repeat ANYTHING. Sure sometimes even I have to take a second to figure out what the hell that was, but for the most part he’s pretty damn understandable. And he talks incessantly. At the moment is favorite word is “NOW.” As in “Go downstairs now,” “I want juice now,” “Watch TV now,” and “Outside to park now.” You get the general idea, that is if you magnify it to one hundred and don’t forget the vehemence. Ray turns two in less than a month. He remains true to his name, a ray of sunshine – warm, ebullient, vital and yet hot. I know - I've echoed that statement a million times. That is part of why I rarely blog anymore - I feel like I don't have a damn original thought in my head. One thing that has to be noted is how much he adores his brother. In the morning he’s typically up well before Noah and when we first hear Noah stir and about to come downstairs Ray lights up with pure joy. The other week I took Ray to a music performance while a friend took Noah on a different outing. I was sure Ray would have a blast because at the last one he and Noah danced up a storm. But this time there was no dancing. In fact he was down right mopey. I asked him why he wasn’t dancing and he said “Oah.” I said “You miss Noah?” And he said yes. And he would not dance. Shortly after the performance stopped Noah showed up and Ray said “Dance! Dance now!” Ray also loves my friend Janette’s one year old named Rendle. And by loves I mean also sort of hates. Ren has to endure Ray constantly taking things away from him and even yelling “mine!” if he looks in the direction of Ray while he is playing with something. And to make it more intriguing Rendle seems to enjoy screwing with Ray. He taunts him – showing him he has something with a big grin on his face or pointing at Ray’s dinner like he’s about to come over and take it from him. The two of them are hysterical. They are constantly squabbling. But when Ren isn’t here Ray says “Wish baby Ren Ren here.” Mark supposes he likes to have someone younger that he can assert his dominance over.

I wish I could say that Noah was just as effusive about his love for his brother – he isn’t. In fact he loves Baby Rendle too and tells me he wants me to have a little baby that he can play with because apparently Ray doesn’t fit the bill. Noah isn’t mean to Ray, in fact he’s never been an aggressive boy so we’ve never had to deal with much physical lashing out. But Noah is less patient with Ray than he is any other human being in the whole world. I wish so much that he was just a bit more affectionate to Ray. The only time he seems to dote on him is when he knows we are watching and is trying to win points. I hope he grows to appreciate him more. They have been getting better playing with each other but inevitably a dispute occurs. Ray is touching something Noah doesn’t want him to or Ray is angry because Noah won’t share something with him. The refereeing drives me a bit mad. If I need the two of them to agree on one thing like a TV show to watch they always want something different but if I have two different things to give out they both pick the same damn one. Gah! And of course the biggest dispute is over “My Mama TOO!” I guess that is what fulltime sibling relationships are like – having only ever had half and step siblings that I saw some of the time it wasn’t quite so damn competitive.

In other things Noah is fantastic. He really is growing up so much. He’s getting so smart and so tall. And I can hardly believe sometimes how incredibly social my once shy little boy has become. The boy I took to playgroup every week for a year and watched the other kids play while clinging to my leg – he’s now a frolicking chattery 4 year old who wants to run off with friends and not have me bother him. He’s seriously missing school – as am I. It’s hard work being Julie the cruise director every day of the damn week. Even those two three hour days were a day where the social agenda was just “SCHOOL DAY.” Now he wants a major outing or a playdate every damn day and if I dare to tell him it’s a quiet day on which we need to do errands he lambasts me about how “BORING” it is going to be. He starts a month long rec center summer program on July 7 with two of his best friends and we are both very excited for it.

Noah’s fascinations haven’t changed – it’s still all music, spies and circus around here. I guess a new development has been movies. Noah’s first theater film was Wall-E and since then he saw Desperaux, Disney’s Earth and Up. He adored them all. And we also didn’t watch much in the way of movies at home up until the last couple of months. And now we’ve been taking out movie after movie from the library. I still have to be a might careful about things that may be scary as he did not enjoy Nemo because it was too fast paced with fishes constantly on the brink of death. But oddly enough he isn’t scared by books. He’s been really enjoying the Spiderwick Chronicles series which is all scary mythical beasts, evil spells and parental abductions. Somehow that stuff doesn’t phase him. When he talks about being scared of a monster it is still of the Mouse King from the Nutcracker Ballet.

We are keeping ever busy here as usual, the Master demands it. Monday we went to Ocean City for the Day. Tuesday we went to Smith House and Franklin Square. Today we went to a local playground and library. Tomorrow we go out to breakfast and then to Sesame Place. Friday we go swimming at Grandma’s. Saturday we go see Nana and Pop Pop but have to hurry home in time to see the fireworks from our hood. And Sunday isn’t planned YET. And then 4th of July hoopla, followed by Ray’s birthday party, and then a week at Ocean City beach with my Mom. Fast forward to August. Or hell – Noah’s high school graduation is damn near around the corner. Maybe sometime between now and then I’ll get around to mopping the damn kitchen floor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's marriage. And it's hard.

One night last week after all the kids were in bed my friend Janette was sitting on the couch next to me and she said she’d be happy to move if I wanted to cuddle up to Mark. Both Mark and I chuckled awkwardly and Mark said that he could hardly believe that there were times before we had kids that he secretly wished I’d give him a tiny bit more personal space and stop fawning over him every second. Of course nowadays he’s lucky to get a quick hug and a peck.

Confession: I am not good at balancing my roles as wife and mother. I’m a much better mother than I am a wife. There is a lot of talk about how doing things for ones self and ones marriage is of incredibly importance for the adults and the children and I understand that. Unfortunately that isn’t who I am. Motherhood consumes me. It is ALL of me. And I don’t know how to do it any other way. It is how I mother – naturally.

Reverend Beverly married Mark and I. She was recommended by a close friend of mine because she was incredibly open minded and yet not just a phone it in celebrant to lead the ceremony. I’m not conventionally religious and I wanted to make sure that our ceremony had a message but that it wasn’t specific to one God. Rev Bev said she would be happy to talk about LOVE rather than A God and that pleased me. But before she could do the ceremony we had to have 2 premarital sessions with her to talk about our families, our relationship and our marriage. I am a true believer in counseling and so we were happy to go. After hearing our family histories and the intricate details of who we were apart and who we were together she told us something that I think about regularly. She said that we were a pretty codependent couple. That Mark very much wanted mothering and I very much needed to mother and it worked perfectly for us, for the time being. But that there would come a time in the future when we had a family and Mark would be frustrated that he wasn’t getting the attention and mothering he once had and I would resent his neediness when I had others for whom I needed to care. Needless to say Rev Bev hit the nail on the head. This is exactly where we’ve been since the kids have been born.

Our message to Reverend Beverly during those counseling sessions were that we had both come from broken homes and had seen more than our fair share of failed marriages. We understood that marriage was WORK. And we were willing to work. For us. For the family that we wanted to have. For forever.

Luckily at the heart of our marriage we like each other. We have similar interests, similar politics, similar passions, and the same vision for our future. We share our goals and work towards them.

I love my crazy all consuming motherhood. I fear my children growing up and not needing me. The thought of it just makes m want to have more and more, a steady stream of cuddly wee ones. However I do look forward to a time when Mark and I get to really reconnect. When I can focus more on Mark – on doing things for him and getting to know him even better. And until then I just hope he hangs in there and waits for me. That though he may be feeling a bit jilted at the attention he no longer gets that he respects how I am mothering and why I am like this.

This weekend Mark is going to his 20th high school reunion alone. I still can’t be away from Ray overnight. Crazy? Maybe. But it’s me. I struggled with just leaving him with the in-laws and knowing he’d survive but I know myself and I know I’d be too consumed by it that I’d be a horrible date. And I want Mark to have a good time – so he’s going stag. I hope he’ll have fun. But I trust that it won’t be TOO much fun. And maybe he’ll miss me? A bit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Elisha's Perfect Drug

My sister has yelled at me for not blogging. She is compelling me to blog, as if my silly drivel were her addiction. Yes ma'am. Only problem is that at the moment I can’t think of squat. Well, other than the fact that my sister Elisha and her beautiful son Hunter better be coming to visit me in August or I’m going to raise hell.

And YES I use beautiful for little boys. Little boys are beautiful. In my mind they are also allowed to have dolls, take dance and host tea parties. I’m wacky like that. It may be why my son would rather put on costumes and do shows and dance parties then play with matchbox cars or wrestle. But I doubt that. He likes those things because he’s rather imaginative and they are more fun. No one was ever turned gay by a tea set. And if by chance some day my boy tells me he’s gay I won’t blame it on his first baby doll. I have to admit I would cry though. Not because I think gay is wrong or that he should be ashamed. I’d be signing up for PFLAG the next damn day. But because there is so much hate for gays in the world and you don’t ever want to think of your child having to face hate. I don’t want to think about anyone’s child facing hate. And I don’t want my child harboring hate either. The human inclination to alienate the different and create an us against them mentality is so strong and disturbing. (It’s why I hate sports.) Recently I was asking him about some neighborhood kids he’d played with for the first time and he reluctantly said he didn’t like one of the boys very much. I had suspected as much and thought it was because the boy was a tad aggressive. But when I asked Noah why he told me it was because the boy’s hair was weird. I got really upset and lectured him up and down about how insignificant hair was and asking him if he thought that would be a good reason for another kid not wanting to play with him. On and on about how people are different and it is those differences that make us so special. I could see his eyes glaze over and changed the subject. But now I can’t get that out of my head – my sweet little boy didn’t like someone because of their hair. Mortifying.

Hmmm. So there. I blogged. I’m sure Elisha wanted some fun tales of crazy kid escapades. At the moment I can barely remember the day. The immediacy of Twitter is easier for me to document the little stuff. Hmmm… Today Ray started mimicking one of Noah’s favorite catch phrases - “What in the world?” Course from Ray it comes out “Waaa in Wurrrll?” It’s hysterical. As Ray often is. Both boys have been funny recently when they have been pretending to be pregnant – shoving stuffed animals up their shirts with Noah talking about his water breaking and his contractions. Noah actually has his baby and begins to care for it but Ray just wants to keep it in his shirt. Smart boy. Yesterday Noah was asking me to explain the concept of “the future” (Thankfully he’s not been watching LOST) and I was saying something coming soon like Daddy coming home for dinner could be the future or it could be farther away like when Noah has children of his own. Noah said he couldn’t have children, that was only for girls. I explained that though girls give birth to children that the Daddy’s still have children. That he and Ray are Daddy’s children. And Noah cocked his head to the size, chuckled, broke into a bemused grin and said “Oh! I never thought of it that way before.” I guess he thought Mark was just some guy who lived here.

There, Lisey, is that everything you were hoping for?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Then comes Noah in a baby carriage

I met Yvonne three summers ago at a mutual neighborhood friend’s playdate. Her daughter Maia was a few months older than Noah and they were both shy of two years old. When I started taking Noah to a playgroup in Fishtown I told Yvonne how much we were enjoying it and soon she was coming with Maia. And a year later when I decided it was time to put Noah in preschool and Yvonne and I settled on the same place I was thrilled that he would have a friend in his class. And now after two years of being in the same program, numerous playdates, art groups and field trips the two are beyond inseparable. She is his best friend. And I love to watch the two of them together. They never fight. They are almost always play acting a story – if she’s leading it’s about rescuing an animal and if he’s leading it’s about being spies. They tell each other jokes, things that aren’t remotely funny, and they laugh and laugh. And then they repeat the joke 10 times. And laugh.

Today I took Ray, Noah and Maia to Member’s Preview Night at Sesame Place. The weather forecast was looking grim with showers and thunder and greyness. And I initially tried to cancel. But Noah wanted to go SO bad. Not because of him, he understood that we had memberships and he could go on another day, but today he could bring a friend and without even hesitating he said he wanted to bring Maia. So it was really about sharing Sesame Place with Maia. He’d been talking about what rides she might like to go on and planning out their trip. When he was sick earlier in the week he kept counting down until Friday, so worried his illness would prevent us from going. So I decided to suck it up and go even though it was going to rain. Hell, maybe we’d get lucky. Well it RAINED. And it POURED. But before it got so bad we had to leave they went on a couple of rides (they made Ray and I sick), saw the character parade, saw a show and tested a sprinkler area before deciding it was too cold and time to walk to the car in the pissing down rain. But what I will remember most about our trip is how Noah is with Maia. He didn’t want to do anything she didn’t. He held her hand as we walked through the park, the both of them being so well behaved and manageable. When we sat down for a snack he had a sad look on his face and I asked what was wrong and he leaned into me and whispered “It’s a secret. Maia sat on my hand.” I could tell that it really hurt but he knew it was an accident so he didn’t want to mention it and upset her. When I put them in the back of the van and started to dress them in dry clothes the two of them wrapped up so close in the towel and kept giggling about how they were stuck together. And when I finished dressing Ray and they were next Noah told me Maia was the guest so she should be able to be dressed next. When Chickfila gave us two different Happy Meal toys he let her have the good one with the promise they could play with it together when he visited next. And they jumped around, joked and laughed while we ate huddled in the minivan in the parking lot – like it was the best time ever. Noah really loves her and I don’t say that in a corny, romantic way. I say that meaning that is friendship at it’s core, at it’s simplest and best. It makes me proud that he can love like that. That he can be that thoughtful at 4.

In the Fall Maia starts full time Pre K at a Philadelphia Charter school and Noah will be going to YCCA for three 6 hour days. It makes me really sad to separate them. This summer we’ll spend lots of time with her and her family and hopefully other summers too. And after the school year starts we’ll still have occasional play dates and meet ups at the park or the museums. But they will probably never be this close again. It’s sad. Is it weird I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now? It just says so much about life – all the powerful bonds we forge with people who make real impacts on our lives and yet most fade away. Of course they’ll always have Facebook…

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can you forgive me?

This is rambling, repetitive and a downright shambles but at least I blogged. I blogged, damnit.

Our vacation is history. (Pitiful pun intended.) And all in all it went remarkably well. We got a Bounce Pass that enabled us to go to Busch Gardens & Colonial Williamsburg as much as we wanted all week. We did Williamsburg 3 days, Busch Gardens 3 days and Jamestown Settlement 1 day. And yes, it was busy. We are busy vacationers. If we have a morning where we lounge around a bit before getting under way it feels like we’re wasting time. Time that could be spent having fun! Before the kids our vacations were a helluva lotta walking around, seeing and doing. Going to Paris and seeing like 5 things in a day. I remember just how sore and scarred my feet were after a day spent walking all along the Seine from Museum to Church to Garden. We can’t do it like that anymore. But we can do one thing each day, though small children are not really museum/lecture friendly. The first day we were in Williamsburg we went into a shop – the wigmakers, shoemakers, candlestick makers – and everyone was standing there quietly listening to the shopkeeper talk about the craft and colonial times and Ray started going “ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!” at the top of his lungs because he wanted to go back outside and return to playing with ye olde colonial rocks. And after a few scenes like that we realized the shops were not gonna fly. But many things did. We had such a great time in the Governor’s Palace Garden that we went two days in a row. They liked the horses, the hoop and stick, and even eating in the Colonial Tavern. And the kids loved the fife, the drums and the cannons. Ray loves to recount the cheer “Hup Hup! (hoo)Ray! Hup Hup! Ray! Hup Hup! Ray! Boom! (cannon).”

Of course nothing compared to Busch Gardens. The kids loved the rides, the water areas and the shows so much that a trip that at first included one day at the park included three. It was Ray’s first real amusement park experience and he will tell you all about it. “RAWR!” means he rode the dragons. “Boat. Wet!” is all about his experience on the log flume. “Bee!” alludes to his experience on the lady bug ride. Both Noah and Ray poured over the map of Busch Gardens almost every night talking about what rides they had been on and then they began recreating the rollercoasters as they ran around the hotel rooms. One of the standout moments for me was when I took Noah on a “4D adventure ride” called Corkscrew Hill. The attendant swore to me it was not scary but rather about ancient Ireland. We sat in movie theater seats with lap belts and 3D glasses watching a film and then the damn seats started to move. I felt ill and horrified instantly. I just kept thinking “LET IT END! LET IT END!” and I was thrilled Noah didn’t look as sick as I felt. Then they had a witch on screen Noah said he was scared and buried his head in my arm. That minute until it was over has got to be one of the longest ones in my life. And not because I felt like I was going to lose my lunch but because I was so upset he was scared and I couldn’t make it stop. Welcome to parenthood.

Noah really had a great time. He just loves to be out and learning. And Ray was such a trooper. He had one nap the entire week we were in Williamsburg and still remarkably held it together all day. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of tense moments. And they usually start with Mark and I deciding on what our course of action is, especially if it involves meal time. Course when it was just us it would get dicey on vacations at meal times because we were both beat and wanting the other one to make the decisions, only of course if they were the right ones. But now that we aren’t the only grumpy ones it can get ugly until we’re all fed. Plus we had a few spats because of misunderstandings. Mark is the big history buff among us. At the beginning of the week he bought a book about all the Colonial Williamsburg buildings and their histories and he read it all week. Hell, I like to take a nice informative tour but I could only read that book if a grade depended on it. And I wanted to make sure he got enough out of our vacation. But whenever I suggested I wrangle the kids while he spent more time looking at something or doing something I didn’t think the kids were able to do Mark would take it as an insult. And then he worried I wasn’t enjoying the vacation since I didn’t want to go in the museum by myself too. Yeah, so we mostly argued about whether the other one was enjoying themselves. What the hell is wrong with us? Ahhh marriage. Noone ever said it was easy.

But vacation is over. And summer is on it’s way. I decided not to sign Noah up for the summer program at the school he is attending now because they don’t let the little kids outside. Granted it’s only three hours, three days a week, and they keep the little ones in because it’s too hard to keep track of them with all the other older kids all over the area, but I wanted something different for him this year. I found a rec program where they had an enclosed area and the kids could be out on the playground equipment and even play in sprinklers. It seemed much more enjoyable for him. Problem is that the first session filled up and we only got him in for July, one week of which he will miss to go to the beach with my Mom. And now I have him all day, every day the whole rest of the summer. That is kind of panicking me because he is now so social and prefers to be with kids his own age. And it puts a huge burden on me to keep him busy and engaged all summer. So some other neighborhood moms and I are trying to come up with some sort of plan for getting the kids together regularly and doing field trips. Though worried about my sanity over the summer I do feel like I need to treasure this time on the opposite side of the spectrum because I’m already getting sad about Noah being in school three 6 hour days starting in the Fall and how we will have so much less time together. Sheesh. I can’t make up my damn mind.

I want to say so much stuff about Ray but it seems so repetitive and like I’m featuring him over Noah too much – but he’s just in this very developmentally interesting and fun stage. His current playtime mostly consists of drawing, listening to books, “choo choo trains,” making “cake” and “soup,” water play, dancing and drums. He has insane passions for… everything. That is who he is. Fiery, lively little red head that he is. Above all things though he currently adores lemonade, ice cream, chocolate (hell any “TREAT!”) bananas, chex mix and MEAT! He isn’t big on veggies sadly but he does love asparagus. He’s still nursing at sleeping times. I am often struck by the fact that at the same time of Noah’s development I would talk about whether I should be weaning him to anyone that stood still – but with Ray I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks since I know what I am doing. And THAT is the beauty of having more than one. It seems so much more relaxed now. Ray is starting to become TWO. With increased instances of him yelling “NO” and “I want! I want! I want!” He is also far more apt to take off than Noah ever was, which is so scary, but on the positive side he is also more apt to play by himself than Noah still is. Above all Ray is damn infectious – and not in a swine flu way (have to mention it by law). His smiles and laughter are life affirming. And when both him and Noah start making each other laugh I feel like my life’s purpose has been fulfilled, that there can’t be greater joy. (GAG!)

And Noah is so far from a baby. He is wise beyond his years. He is inundating us with questions about the origin of man, how Mark and I met and started liking each other, and would he watch over Ray if he died. I really do think he is perfect which I am almost ashamed to admit. My only complaint about Noah is that he often gets sad and gives up when he can’t master something right away. He’s told me he’ll have to find a wife to put his shoes on for him. Don’t even get me started on buttons and butt wiping. But as much as he grows I am very happy that he is still very cuddly and affectionate with me. When that stops it will truly break my heart.

Have I got any more blathering to do? Sure. But I will spare you. Oh except to mention that I need to get a damn piece of exercise equipment. A treadmill perhaps. Something I can use at home 40 minutes a day – and then do it. Because the dieting is not working. I diet and lose weight and then stop dieting and then binge on all the stuff I didn’t eat while dieting and it’s all back in a heartbeat. I need easy access to a minimal amount of exercise daily. It’s my only hope. And Mark’s 20th reunion is coming and I don’t want to be an embarrassment to him. I am so stressed about how I look and what I will wear and how will the kids get to bed without me that I’d rather cut off a toe than go. You see I often get sad and give up when I can’t master something right away.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey sunshine.

Tomorrow we head outta town. I'm a bit sad but mostly exhausted. We're still debating about going back to Busch Gardens for a few hours before we hit the road. Our pass is still good and the kids have been obsessing over how much fun it was, but OH the energy it takes us old folks. And that might not be a great idea before a five hour drive and might mean more traffic. Still, the kids and their excitement! We shall see.

With a bang

Our last moments at Colonial Williamsburg were fife, drum and cannon fire. Awesome.

Applause please.

Give them an empty stage and they will give you a show. Ray had to be carried away crying "Show! Show!"

A-maze-ing

No surprise that Noah the maziac adored the hedge maze. We did it 2 days in a row. Can you see Noah and Mark at the center looking triumphant?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Expectations

The thing I always tell myself is that you can make semi-ambitious trips with kids if you focus on what they will enjoy and set your expectations low so that you are thrilled at whatever you do see. And I have constantly had to remind myself of this in the last few days. Ray is not in a stay quiet during guided tours in quiet places stage. He is in a romping, jumping, squealing stage. But he is also in a stage of wonder and obsession and finding something he is interested in is utterly magical. Though I really thought Noah would enjoy and learn alot more, I have been disappointed that he is following Ray's cues a bit. If I have to rush Ray out of some place so Mark and Noah can finish listening, Noah is fixating on where we are going without them.
But taking a cue from how much the boys enjoyed the outdoor exhibits at Jamestown Settlement, today we spent the bulk of our day romping around in the gardens in the Governor's Palace. We also enjoyed the storytime at the Folk Art museum, tours of the jail and the magazine, and some of the outdoor performances of Revolutionary City. It was a good day, a busy day. And though Mark and I might have liked to tour more houses and shops, we very much appreciate what we did get to do and especially the moments that the kids seemed to be especially enjoying himself.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Row, row, row!

The boys really enjoyed the outdoor exhibits at Jamestown Settlement today. They loved running about in old boats, forts, and Indian villages. Yesterdays first trip to Colonial Williamsburg was less successful as Ray was too revved up and Noah too tired to listen to what the shopkeepers had to say. It's no surprise that 2 years old is not an ideal age for the appreciation of historical reenactments. But tomorrow we go back with more energy, new approach and new appreciation for what we do get to experience.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slowing the pace

It's a rainy morning. We're having a quiet start and Ray's getting his first nap on vacation. The older gents are taking advantage of the quiet time to do some book learnin. After lunch and Ray's respite we'll head to Colonial Williamsburg to poke about and get a handle on what we'd like to do the remainder of the week.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Milky white

For some reason I have a mental block about bringing swimgear to theme parks. We avoided the watery areas until it was time to go and then left the park in various levels of undress.

Thrill rides

As much as we enjoyed gawking at the coasters we stuck to the kiddie rides. It's just as well since I felt sick after riding Oscar's Wiggly Worms.

Daredevil

Don't let him fool ya. He's full on dangerous.

Ye olde gift shop

Just in case you need more than just the 2 corners, but less than 4.

High flyin

I wish I could ride the sky ride all day. Does that make me lame?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunshine Days

Spending every available moment outside. Nothing is quite as reenergizing as the first lovely days of Spring.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Child management in colonial times

We finally have our vacation plans set. It’s not as thrilling as Guatemala (we decided to wait until we collectively know more Spanish) or fulfilling as Germany (my Oma really isn’t up to the trip) but we are still excited to go to Williamsburg, Virginia nonetheless. My Aunt got us a free week at a time share there and we can drive thus saving around $1000 in airfare. We will hit Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown as well as some playgrounds and the pool. We won’t have been anywhere in the last 6 months so it will be nice to get away to SOME place. And we’re already prepping Noah for the trip – getting out some books on Colonial times from the library. Of course we’d be chasing Ray around in circles no matter where we go.

Noah went through a rough patch at the end of last week. He was being so moody and utterly disagreeable about everything. It was probably a result of a growth spurt of some sort – he has these grumpy patches occasionally. But Mark and I separately came to the conclusion that Ray might have something to do with it. Ray is in this insanely charming, ebullient, show-stopping phase and we are constantly having to stop ourselves from just giggling and gushing about everything he does and says. And we both felt that Ray’s cuteness was taking a toll on Noah. So as a result I am making an effort to give Noah more positive feedback and trying not to openly marvel so much about Ray. And there is a lot of positive feedback to give. Noah’s working really hard at reading and it is damn exciting. He is writing, set designing, directing and acting out his own plays. He has become this incredible social being playing with his friends and always doing such a great job of getting along with them. I am amazed how Noah and his best friend Maia seem to never quarrel – they are both so good at compromising. And he’s finally getting motivated to do some things for himself like putting on his clothes, shoes and jacket. He is growing, learning and impressing me every day.

And as I said Ray is worth gushing about but I can’t even truly communicate how fantastic he is right now. He’s learning new words and getting more and more physically active and able. And he is utterly fascinated by the world and himself. He has started to talk in the third person – constantly calling himself by name. We get a lot of “No. Ray!” to let us know he wants to do things on his own. He jumps, leaps, smiles and giggles. He is truly infectious. It’s hard to think of my favorite things because there are so many. I love how he’s trying to count but it comes out as “one… one… one” with each one said in a slightly intonation. I love how when he hears a baby cries he automatically goes “Baby…. Ahhh.” I adore the way he chimes in enthusiastically to do whatever it is Noah is doing. I am awed by his love and dedication to drawing – he’s drawing really visually interesting patterns of circles and lines. I am overwhelmed at how cuddly, affectionate and fun he is – how adventurous, independent and physical he is. He really is something right now. I want to freeze him like this forever.

I’ve been trying to lose some weight that I put on over the holidays and unhelped by my foot fracture. I lost a few pounds that have me fitting more comfortably in my pants but now my weight seems to be unchanging though I’m still being pretty damn good. It’s frustrating. I’m hoping that with the warm weather will come more regular exercise. I have been embracing every warmer day with walks to the park and treks through the zoo. I am hoping to lose some more baby fat before getting pregnant again – of course with me I can’t be sure whether pregnancy attempts will last a few months or a year. I’d ideally like to get pregnant in July but making that a plan is nearly like planning to get a big scratch off win.

At the moment I am doing a lot of back and forth about summer plans. Last year I wasn’t thrilled with the summer program at Noah’s current school. It isn’t run by the same people and it really could be a lot better, but it wasn’t bad either and the price is right. Also I have no freaking clue what I would do with him every day all day now that we rely on school a few days a week. If I put him in the summer program at least that is three days I don’t have to entertain him for three hours. But the biggest question is Ray. One of the big pluses of the summer program is that I can start Ray and he and Noah would be in the same class. I feel like this would be a great way to make his first experiences there more comfortable. However I am also like thinking how can my baby be ready for school – Noah was nearly a year older than Ray when he started. I need advice. Do you think it would be a benefit for Ray to have his brother in his class when he has his first school experiences or should I just hold off until he is scheduled to start in the two year old class in September? HELP!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Patting my own planet poisoning back

My foot is finally feeling drastically better and thankfully we are back to our regularly hectic schedule of outings about town. Just the pain of the foot and the way it was limiting me was a large part of what was getting me down. I am certain the fracture at the base of my toe is fully healed but I still have some occasional discomfort in the ankle area of my foot at the site of the other fracture. Oh and still some issues with toe movement. I have a follow-up x-ray and appointment on Tuesday to come to some conclusion on full recuperation.

But anyway – we are out and about as usual. Bowling with Grandma on Saturday, Academy of Natural Sciences on Sunday, blasted snow day on Monday, Flower Show on Tuesday, and Please Touch Museum on Wednesday. Ahhh. That is the kind of busyness that I need.

I’ve been feeling a bit proud of myself lately. I feel like I have been making real progress in living a slightly greener life. I’ve drastically reduced the number of water bottles we use. I’ve switched to greener cleaning products and recycled paper towels and toiler paper. We joined the winter harvest club to get local produce during the winter and renewed our CSA registration for the warm months. And Mark is excellent at staying on top of the recycling. I understand noone is going to give me any damn medal. I still drive around town a bit too much. I still use unnecessary paper products. I don’t buy everything fair trade. And I use disposable diapers (Have to admit to world that I have no plan to change this.) But what I am proud of is that I am not only trying to be more conscious but more active. That makes me feel good. A couple of things I really want to do in the short term is buy more hand towels so I use less paper, get ready to container plant some veggies in the backyard and get a handle on composting. Any suggestions of other ways to green up that I might not be acting on?

I am thinking about food. A LOT. Been wanting to do another grocery post and hear other peoples ideas and menus. Part of this obsession is magnificed because I am on a diet, but the bigger part is because I am shopping, cooking and feeding these boys endlessly. I think it is a huge important component to my job. I want to make sure we are eating healthy and balanced. That the kids are getting 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables. That we are eating predominately fresh and I am minimizing the processed food and chemicals. But I am also a middle of the road girl. I don’t shop at Whole Foods because of the price and location. I buy a few things organic but mostly not. (I focus on local instead.) My kids are snack beasts and love Chex Mix and Goldfish above all else. And I should be a whole lot more creative in menu planning. But again – I try. The continuum of life can be so funny. I see myself as so middle of the road on these issues – as I have friends that are infinitely more practiced and disciplined than I. But some folks might see me as a bit extreme. Last weekend I gave the boys a lollipop and my Mom said to Noah “What kind of lollipop is that? Knowing your Mom it’s sweet potato.” (It was in fact an organic lemon lollipop made from real fruit juice that I got at Trader Joe’s. But sadly my kids still do get their fair share of plain old HFCS candy.)

Noah has become a social beast. In the last couple of months he has changed into a boy that would rather be playing with his friends than just hanging with Mama. I’m told this is a sign of four and I welcome it. It makes me feel excited for him to go to his new school in the Fall when he will be going M, T, W from 9 am – 3 pm. It will be a huge change for us both but I can now see that by then he will be totally ready.

I don’t have much new to say about Ray. He is growing up so fast and attaining skill and language at a mind boggling rate but it’s pretty steady and somehow becomes hard to comment on. He is amazing. He is adorable. He is hysterical. He makes me want to have ten more. Almost.

My Mom has scolded me for putting less stuff on the blog and more on Twitter and Facebook and I have to admit it is true. Twitter and FB are infinitely less time consuming then sitting here typing away trying to think what in hell I wanted to say. The only time I really get to do this is on Friday when Noah is at school and Ray is napping but it eats up my only chances at free time. But the main advantage of the blog is that it is more of a memoir. I look at old entries to remember what Noah was like at Ray’s age and I won’t be able to do that if I don’t start getting some stuff up here. I’m thinking I might start doing a Twitter Redux post where at the end of each month I post all the tweets I will want to remember – funny things the kids said and did.

I am also way behind on commenting on other folks blogs. I read everything on my phone. But because of word verification and sign ins it is near impossible to comment from there. I mean to go on computer and back-comment on already read posts but I can never find the time.

Sorry this post was so damn boring. I should be posting fun boy stuff but I’m at a loss a the moment. But at least there is pictures.

Bowling, Big Dig, The Arctic







Snow day, Fort Day, Flower Show













































Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The intrigue

I may be putting his top secret cover at risk but I have to inform you that Noah is a spy. He’s constantly up to some sort of intrigue. And while I don’t mind the adventure of it all I am a bit concerned about how sneaky, secretive and borderline dishonest he can be when he’s on a mission. He’s always lurking about, hiding things, ducking behind objects, writing observations in a notebook and informing me “You can’t see me!”

It may have been the spy in Noah that coerced him to steal a pack of Trident at the grocery store last weekend. He didn’t even realize what it was – just somehow liked the size and shape of it. He said something to me on the way home about having something secret in his pocket but I was too busy driving. When we got home he went right up to his bedroom, which is unusual but I didn’t think too much of it. The next morning when Mark got him out of bed Noah told him to walk ahead because he had a secret he didn’t want seen. When he got to our room he slipped the pack of gum under the pillow and Mark spotted it. He knew what happened instantly since he stole a pack of gum when he was five. What bothered me wasn’t that he stole it but he showed very little remorse. But I guess remorse isn’t a big thing for four year olds. When I took the gum away from him and put it on top of our armoire he cried and said “I just want to hold it. I like how it feels in my hand. It makes me feel lucky.” When I was making breakfast Mark found him up in our room trying to retrieve the gum. He hauled two plastic chairs up the stairs to our room – one to place on each side of the safety gate – and a broom handle to knock the gum down from the armoire. Talk about sneaky and resourceful. Later that afternoon he humbled up and got scared when I took him to the store to return the gum and apologize. I was a tad pissed when the girl behind the customer service counter started going “Awwwwww” when I told her why we were there but with a dirty look and prompting (“What usually happens to people who shoplift?”) I think I got the message across. If he steals something again I’m going to take him to the police department to scare him straight.

The past two weekends I took Noah with me to do some volunteering for the families in the Ronald McDonald House at St. Chistopher’s Hospital. One week made valentines for the kids and on Valentine’s Day we made breakfast for the families at the House. Noah wasn’t a huge asset in accomplishing things but I really want to instill in him both the appreciation for all our good health and good fortune, and also the impulse to help others.

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a huge change in Noah at school. He’s been at his current preschool program for a year and a half and while he didn’t have much difficulty adjusting, he did go into the program with some friends and he’s always played mostly with them and talked only about them. All of a sudden Noah is coming home talking about several of his classmates and tells me he’s playing with them at school. He’s always taken awhile to warm up in group social situations so it shouldn’t be a surprise but I am very excited for him to finally make new friends on his own.

Have I mentioned that Ray is an artist? He draws. He loves it. He loves markers, crayons, pens, stamps and paint. He’ll start doodling and tell you about the things he is drawing (“Meow” – cat, “Bo Bo” – monkey, “Fra-tee” – snowman) or hand you the pen and ask you to draw something (“Choo choo”). But at the moment his absolute favorite thing is his Magnadoodles. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you that he has spent a solid forty minutes on that thing, that he’s thrown fits when we try to get him to do something else like eat lunch or go to bed, and that he will go to great measures to drag the large one from room to room.

He also is very much into books. Especially when Noah isn’t around. He’ll bring me a book, back into my lap, help me read and then get up and get another. I read him eleven books in a row last Friday afternoon. He loves pointing to the pictures and telling you what they are. Right now “Good Night Moon,” “Curious George Rides,” “Rainbow Fish” and “Danny and the Dinosaur” are in heavy rotation.

Me? I’ve given up wine for a month. I wasn’t drinking too much necessarily, just too often. Almost nightly. And those empty calories are not needed right before bed. It has been taking it’s toll. I also need to stop having the occasional cigarette. I don’t like the taste, the smell or the feeling but still I want one. That’s addiction for ya. But it’s not healthy or fair to my kids and it needs to stop. I need to see my sister Jessica. It’s been a year. She’s gone from a confused little girl to a frustrated young woman. Last time she visited she seemed really bored and inconvenienced. But I guess she is thirteen going on fourteen and they all act that way so I shouldn’t have taken it so personally. Unfortunately any attempts I have made in the last year to keep in touch with her have been totally one way. But I need to make more of an effort. I’m so angry with myself. I also have to send Christmas presents to my sister Elisha and my adorable nephew. I need to go on a diet. I need to get a haircut. I need to get more sleep. I need to get off the damn computer.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bits and baubles

I honestly haven’t much to report but feel I am overdue. Can't promise exciting.

After diagnosed with the two hairline fractures in my foot they gave a behemoth walking boot. I tired of the inconvenience of it after a few days. The doctor told me the purpose of the boot was to inhibit my movement so that I would not overextend myself and to protect my foot from getting hurt worse if someone were to bump into, step on it. But since I had to take it off to drive and it was a danger to get up and down the stairs of our row home I gave up on it. The foot should be heeling by itself and I have a follow-up Xray in the beginning of March. It’s feeling much better moment to moment though it still hurts to step on uneven ground and I can’t move my three smaller toes.

On the resolutions list the dieting and exercise flew way out the window after the foot injury. Actually, I am sure I’ve gained weight since then which is depressing. But I hope as soon as I have a healthy foot I can get down to some business. However I am reading a lot more, making more plans to get out by myself and working toward producing less trash (significantly decreased use of plastic water bottles, now need to work on paper towels), looking forward to attending some sort of compost and planting workshop in the spring (will let you know what I find out, Becca) and doing some volunteer work the next two weekends with hopes that it is just the start. Still need a bit of a restart that will most likely come with consistent warmer weather. Need to be warmer to be fuzzier. And still really need to reorganize everything but not willing to waste time to accomplish it when the organization is so very fleeting.

Noah is working on learning to read. A couple of days a week we work on early reader books and he very much enjoys them. And the feeling of excitement that he is learning to read. However I am a bit concerned by how easily he can memorize the story and yet not actually recognize the words out of context. Natural, yes but still a bit frustrating. If he was only memorizing the phonics as quickly as the books. And dang – that boy is chatty. Sometimes I feel like he never takes a breath. What with all the talk of spies and shows and kung fu and adventures. He is amazing but he’s wearing me out a bit. All that exuberance.

Not only is Ray developing verbally, he is also developing physically. He is a jumping maniac. He climbs on top of tables and couches and beds and jumps off – landing on his two feet. We went to a dance birthday party for one of Noah’s friends and Ray was following a lot of the dance instruction with the big kids. The woman next to me told me I better put him in lessons soon. And he gets in to everything – pulling chairs over to get into cabinets, turning toys on their sides so he can use them to climb on. And once he has his hands on that bag of cookies, jar of paint, sharp utensil there is HELL to pay when you take it away. He yells, he swats, he throws stuff. I ignore him which makes him even more hysterical until I scoop him up to calm him down. And then he remembers what he wants again and starts over. Don’t get me wrong - Ray is overall insanely good natured and sweet. People always remark on how good natured, outgoing and affectionate he is – doling out kisses to strangers. But he is a demanding little man. And I know I have made that point a hundred times – but though constant the kids continue to astound me. Hell – you observe something 12 hours a day, every day and try to not constantly remark on it, even at the most obvious. YOU CAN’T.

We just joined a winter harvest buying club that now has us getting weekly shipments of local produce, dairy and baked goods. We got our first delivery last night and YUM. Yogurt, cheddar, bread, potatoes, carrots, spinach, pink lady apples, beets, squash and kale. With this club you can order what you want (meat, soap and coffee, even) which is in some ways nicer than our summer CSA but in others less exciting. Been meaning to do a blog grocery list comparison like we did eons ago - curious again about what everyone eats - but need to allot time to type out my grocery receipt.

My vacation bug has now got me dreaming of Germany. My Oma made a comment last week about wanting to visit her family one more time before she is too old to travel and next thing you know I was mentally packing our bags. It would be nice to finally get over there and spend some time with family, and I always had hoped to go with Oma to serve as a translator and a link between the families, but it would be a BIG trip. One that won’t be too easy with two small children (Ray actually, Noah would be cake) and that might be impossible to take given my Oma’s medical issues and inability to find her green card and passport. And the time is such that we would have to go end of April or not at all. There is only a very, very slight possibility it could happen. But who knows. Might not be a total pipe dream.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Long lines at the sto

And YES that is a bag of cheese curls in my cart. So sue me. Will blog soon. I swear.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hither, thither and nowhere


I’m ready to discuss Christmas and it’s not quite yet July. Yay me!

The month leading up to Christmas was tense. All that budgeting, gift selecting, shopping and wrapping is just too much to add to all the normal stuff I can’t get around to. I had thought since we had budgeted some money for Christmas this year that it would be so much easier – I wouldn’t be trying to pick out WOW gifts for $15. But in fact I still was. My Christmas buying list has 40 names on it – which seems ridiculous but I don’t know how to make it smaller since already it’s only core family members and kids. But somehow we got it done.

The boys were not too hard to deal with. Noah got a karoke machine, an acoustic guitar and a spy scope from Santa. And then “we” got him some books and art supplies. Ray got some Play Doh, a grocery cart and a stuffed Muno from Santa, and we didn’t get him squat. Hell, he gets all Noah’s crap. The family got them all kinds of things – mountains of stuff. Noah’s favorites were his new two wheeler bike, his Indiana Jones hat and whip, a talking monkey, new activity books and some DVDs. And I am happy to report they also got some savings and education money.

Mark and I didn’t exchange gifts this year because I didn’t want to waste money giving each other cheap knick knacks that we either didn’t need or weren’t very exciting. Of course our families are so tremendously generous that it made up for it. Is it telling we got liquor store gift certificates from three different family members? We got some new furniture from Mom so that we can accommodate more sitting in our living room and also some money from others to be used towards a bit of redecorating the space.

My step mother-in-law bought me a pair of Uggs for Christmas. When I opened them I immediately planned on returning them and buying shoes for the entire family with the money. I disliked Uggs for the reason that I believe many like them - when you see them you immediately know they were expensive. I find that flashy, prestige sort of thing fairly abhorrent. But I tried them on and DAMN they were comfy. And then I realized that the whole thing with Uggs is that the lining keeps your feet body temperature no matter how warm or cold it is outside. You wear them without socks and your feet never sweat. And I thought that is damn handy since I hate to wear socks and I have sweaty feet. But I still set them aside for a few weeks. I had to go out of town to return them and with the stomach flu we were experiencing that wasn’t happening. And then Mark made a very valid point. I am always saying that the perfect gift is getting something for someone that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves but that they soon find that they love. And these Uggs were the prime example. And so I am wearing them and loving them. They are the only shoe that I can wear and doesn’t put added stress on my sore ankle. I just wish I didn’t constantly worry that other people were thinking “How in the how can she afford $150 boots?”

The part of Christmas this year that was really a joy was the boys excitement. They loved decorating and seeing decorations. They loved seeing all of their family. They loved Christmas Carols. I still don’t have all the decorations away because they adore the Nutcrackers and the musical tree so much that I know they will mourn them. Ray loves Frosty the Snowman so much that he seems to be able to spot even the tiniest one on a row home door from a mile away. Luckily snowmen decorations last the season and he has a few more weeks before there will be no more Frosty sightings.

At 18 months old Ray is speaking SO MUCH. I can’t even think of all the things he can say – of course in his stilted dialect that only we can understand. Some of the standouts are - more, teeth, please, meow (used to refer to the cats but also to speak to them – will say 25 of them in a row like having a conversation with the cat), dog, ball, boot, book, Dora, choo choo, no, uh huh, Frosty, Mommy (I am begging him to use Mama but he is resistant), Daddy, Spy (he calls both of the cats by this name, Parker is pissed), ice cream, cheese, yummy, hat, hot, bag, hi, bye, see, banana and (most important for a second child) MINE. He still loves to play in the water more than anything else. He pulls a kitchen chair up to the sink about three times a day. He loves trains and any kind of animal elicits squeals of glee. He likes to pretend to feed things and love on pets until they run away from over-loving. He is hard to divert when he really wants something but he also knows how to hold his own against his brother. Sometimes I think he even antagonizes Noah. He’s still nursing, mostly at sleep times but will also request additional times by stomping up to me and tapping on my chest with his finger. He has always been a much better sleeper than Noah and even the patches when he has sleep issues from growth spurts and teething are nothing with what we went through with his older brother. He remains overall FUNNY. Even when he’s climbing on everything and getting into things he shouldn’t he does it with a devilish, come-hither smile. He laughs easily and is a constant source of smiles.

Noah remains smart, imaginative, inquisitive, creative and dramatic. He will gladly tell you he is part Super Noah, part spy, part Indiana Jones, part rock star and part Tarzan. He has a lot of questions about what is real and what isn’t - which things he sees on TV are real, people in costumes, puppets or drawn. He is distressed that he doesn’t yet know how to read. We’ve been reading him chapter books before bed but I really need to spend time with him and early reader books so he can get use to sight words and do more phonics. He is advanced but not as advanced as he’d like so I really need to help him out. He loves stories, adventures in particular. After reading James and The Giant Peach we saw the play and then watched the movie. We talked a lot about the differences in the stories and how people tell the same story in different ways. After reading the Tale of Desperaux I took him to see the movie, his second movie theater experience (Wall-E was the first). It made me laugh that he seemed to think we were going to see a play – asking about actors, curtains and spot lights. He’s in a new dance class this season, one that will focus a little bit more on teaching actual moves rather than just being creative with movement. These classes have been really great for him – encouraging him even more to act things out. He really is quite the little performer. He told me the other day that he wanted to be a TV person. And he is a talker. He talks and talks and talks.

Mark is still hard at work at Drexel. He has been having a difficult time getting rid of some chest congestion that has been lingering for the past month. He has coughed so hard that he hurt his chest muscles. But I think he is finally on the mend.

Me? Have I mentioned that I hate winter? That I hurt my foot? My foot is healing though it still hurts, getting worse the longer I am on it. I just got a brace that will hopefully help, though at the moment it seems to make it hurt more. I am anxious for it to get better so I can start working out but I can’t even fathom jumping on it or doing a downward dog with it for at least a few more weeks. And I have to be cautious since reinjury is common when you overextend yourself too early. And I haven’t the determination to start the diet without the exercise so I am just wallowing. Trying to make it through the winter months.

I have been daydreaming about going to Guatemala. A friend told me how affordable ($30 hotel rooms, $300 RT) and lovely it is and next thing you know I was planning on taking the whole family. Mark even bought me a guide book. Problem is the rainy season is May – December and though I tried to tempt him, Mark knows it’s too soon to plan such an exotic vacation, with no money set aside, Sesame Street Spanish, and less than three months. Course I hope to be pregnant by next January so that makes Guatemala again a faroff dream. But for a few days there I was fantasizing about taking the boys swimming in the picturesque volcano-surrounded Lake Atitlan. It’s always easier to get through the winter doldroms when you have something warm and exciting to look forward to. We’ll go to OC NJ with my Mom in July but that seems a million years away. I need a coping mechanism to help me pull through February. Maybe I just need one of them damn lamps.