Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas to remember

Clearly blogging every day didn’t work out in the end. At first I just couldn’t get it done because I had too much Christmas wrapping and prepping to do. And then, well, I missed part of Christmas.

Lee had been sick all week. Fevers, congestion, coughing and not eating. He seemed better on Wednesday but then took a turn for the worse on Thursday. On Friday morning I was in a tizzy trying to decide if I should take him in to the doctors. He’d been in on Monday and was on antibiotics so I wasn’t sure what else the doctors could do for him but I thought it might be a good move to get him checked out before they closed for the holiday weekend because he wasn’t getting better. I decided to put him down for his morning nap and then see how he felt. When he woke up he seemed groggy and didn’t want to nurse so I called the doctors, left a message and jumped into the shower. I got out of the shower dripping wet to answer their return call. They told me to bring him in immediately as they were closing the office for the holiday in the next hour. So I got dressed, got him dressed and headed out the door and to the subway in a whirlwind.

While in the waiting room I noticed for the first time how chapped his lips were. I knew this wasn’t a good sign. And as soon as they weighed him I knew it wasn’t good news. He’d lost over a pound since we’d been in on Monday. The doctor came in and said he was clearly getting dehydrated and advised I take him right over to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to get him fluids, unless I felt I could get a lot of fluids into him in the next few hours. I tried to nurse him and as soon as I started to get him into position he started gagging at the mere thought of it. And then he swatted my breast away. They called us a cab to CHOP.

At this point I really thought they’d hook him up to an IV, get some fluids into him and then we’d get home in time to go about our Christmas Eve business. On Christmas Eve my Mom and her husband, and my Father in law and his wife come to our house for dinner and then a gift exchange. Last year I was pregnant and put off by cooking, and particularly eating anything I had cooked, so we decided to have dinner at The Plough and the Stars. It was a huge success. The meal was great and the place was so beautifully decorated, my Mom said she wanted to go there again this year. We had a 5pm reservation.

At CHOP things did not go smoothly. Lee was admitted to the ER for dehydration and for fluids but they couldn’t get an IV in. He was so dehydrated that when they finally found a vein it would flatten out and be unusable. I took four tries, three people and about four hours to get his IV in. He’d be writing, crying and screaming as they poked at him, with me holding him down and after the attempt failed they’d give him 45 minutes to calm down. Also one of the first things they did was suction snot from his nose by shoving a really long thin tube down it. He really hated this and was inconsolable afterwards. The doctor who saw him for the first time then was so worried about him that she wanted to give a spinal tap to see if he had spiral meningitis. Luckily she came back later when I had got him calmed down listening to Pandora radio on my phone and reading a book. She said “I am SO thankful I got to see him like this. I was really worried with how upset he was before. That he wouldn’t even comfort with you.”

The nurse told me there was actually an argument going on between staff about whether to let us go home. I had explained that I had a 3 year old and 6 year old at home and I didn’t want to miss Christmas with them, and that if Lee wasn’t getting better after the fluids that I could bring him back. But Lee continued to not to want to nurse, not even to comfort himself and that was alarming to me. And once it took that long to get the IV in there wasn’t any way I wanted to have them unhook him and have to go through it again later. It was clear we were in for the night.

So I told Mom and Mark to just go about Christmas Eve as if everything was normal. They went out to dinner and did the gift exchange, sending me pictures on the phone while I sat on an ER bed holding sweet Lee, trying to nurse every half hour with no success. He was so listless that he didn’t even try to move around, just hung out in my arms, fretting and dozing. We watched White Christmas and talked to a million doctors and nurses. I'm told Noah was quite sad that I wasn't with them while Ray seemed unphased until bed time when he capped the night off with a 20 minute screaming fit for "Mama!"

At 11 I talked the doctor into taking him off the fluids after he said that being juiced up might prevent him from getting thirsty and wanting to nurse. He said I had 3 hours to get him to nurse and then he was going back on. Just before 2 I was successful! Of course he vomited up a bit of it and had some diarrhea but at least he was eating! They let us go home around 11. I missed putting the presents under the tree and watching the boys come down Christmas morning and react to all their gifts, but Lee was getting better and at least I was still home in the morning.
On Christmas day we go to my Dad’s place around noon and then to my Mom’s at 5 – where we sleep over. Mark suggested we stay home and take it easy. But I freaked. “I WANT TO HAVE A CHRISTMAS! I didn’t get to have a Christmas yet,” I cried. And so we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, squawking and pecking at each other to pack up and get ready to drive out to Quakertown and spend the night. And then we got in the car after 1:30 and heard that a BLIZZARD was coming the next morning. I just about broke down. But after all the crying and craziness it was a fine Christmas afternoon and it was probably for the best to wake up in our own bed the next day. It certainly beat the bench in the ER.

The CHOP ER is someplace I hope to never to visit again. Especially on Christmas. Walking through the hall and wondering what all the other families were going through was heart wrenching. Sure it was horrible to put Lee through that and to not be home on Christmas but at least Lee was a well baby who had gotten badly sick. I wasn’t in fear of his life while we were there. Twice I have volunteered at St. Christopher’s hospital’s Ronald McDonald House to serve breakfast on Valentine’s Day to the families of long term patients. And the last two years I have donated Christmas gifts to medically fragile children at the Dooley House. But I think next Christmas I’d like to do more. Try to find some way to reach out. You can't take away that pain, that sadness but it's nice to try.

The worse part of the experience for me was the change in Lee. He has always been very friendly with strangers, almost too friendly. Smiling at check out ladies, at people over my shoulder in stores, restaurants, on the subway. Flirting with the doctors during his checkup. And during that night in the ER – with all the new people coming in and hurting him – he didn’t have any more smiles. When a new doctor would come in and just put his stethoscope on him to hear his breathe he would start to scream in horror. I hope that experience doesn’t stick with him. We have a follow up appt at our doctor’s office tomorrow morning. I am eager and scared to see his reaction to the checkup. My poor little guy. I’ll never forget looking in his sad eyes as I held him while they tried repeatedly to find a vein and feeling him say “Why are you letting them hurt me?”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cards finally mailed. A mountain of packages to be wrapped. A sick baby still on the mend. A fun Christmas party for neighborhood friends successfully thrown. Some Christmas crafts made. This season of merriment is flying by.

Mark is off for the next week and a half. The best thing about having help is we can divide and conquer. Today Mark took Ray to his last tumbling class and while Lee took his first nap Noah and I painted some Christmas crafts. And then when Lee went down for an afternoon nap Mark and Ray played and built forts while Noah and I went downtown to finish up some Christmas shopping. Tomorrow I'm taking the big boys to see "The Borrowers" at the Arden in the morning while Mark mans wee Lee.

Sadly there is a downside to all of us being home fulltime for nearly two weeks - we will quickly get on each others nerves. One of my biggest flaws is difficulty delegating. I have a way I do things and how I want them done and often Mark tries to help and gets flak from both me and the boys for not doing it the way I would have. Many of his attempts to help are met with the boys whining "NO! I want Mama to do it." This is incredibly frustrating for him. Also being home 24-7 is an adjustment for him because he has a patience threshold that sometimes gets exceeded on weekends. He's going to miss his quiet office time. And then there is the boys getting on each others nerves since Noah is not in school.

But back to the positive - there will be movies, field trips, crafts, baking and leisurely mornings. I do savor our family togetherness, and I hope we all stay busy and in good spirits. Me threatening to assign the boys to seperate rooms for the duration of the day so they don't have to look at each other and Mark and I quarreling about whether he really intended to get up and get Ray some cough medicine despite him not answering me when I asked are not how I want to spend our Christmas vacation. Even though that is exactly how we spent this morning.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I didn’t blog yesterday. So sue me. This blogging every day is a real challenge. I’m done kid duty around nine and then Mark and I might pick up a bit or get something done and then watch something on TV and next thing you know it’s 11 and I’m like “CRAP. I still didn’t blog.” Last night we were watching Dexter and working on Christmas cards when Lee woke up to be nursed (as he does most nights between 10 and 11) and because he’s been sick I couldn’t put him down without him fussing so I just went to sleep. Cards half done. Blog not blogged. Oh well.

Seems like Lee is endlessly sick. He’s going on antibiotics for ear infection for a third time. I think both Ray and Noah have been on antibiotics like once their whole lives. But with Lee there is always snot. The doctor says not to worry about it. That his brothers are bringing all their school germs home to him and it’s natural, not like he is abnormally sickly. At the momemt he has an ear infection and a virus causing high fevers, horrible congestion and conjuctivitis. He's so congested it's hard for him to sleep and he's even coughed until he vomited a couple of times. There are bags under his little shiny, gunky eyes. And yet with a 103 degree fever he still managed to smile for the doctor and play coy.

But damn, sleep deprivation is a killer. I’ve been up so much with Lee, he just keeps waking and fussing intermittently the night through. And then Ray shows up in the bed and I don’t even have any room. I’m starting to feel like I will never ever get a decent night’s sleep. And that doesn’t make for the most reasonable and patient mothering.
And I need serious patience. Noah is home from school for two weeks and he and Ray are CONSTANTLY at each other’s throats. Noah won’t let Ray contribute to any pretend play without telling him he’s doing it wrong. If Noah isn’t giving Ray his utmost attention then Ray will do things to bother Noah. Ray gets angry and Noah gets whiny and they are making me NUTS. I need to buy a damn sibling book – preferably one that comes with ear plugs.
There. I blogged. Thrilling, ain’t it?

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Noah and Ray have a really great corp group of neighborhood friends built up from playgroup and the local playgrounds. But because of the way the Philadelphia school system is and everyone scrambling to come up with their own plan for where to send their kid, none of Noah’s original neighborhood friends go to school with him. And therefore I try to make regular playdates and meetups with his old friends, and their parents who are also my friends, so that we stay close. Tomorrow we are having a kids Christmas party for his friends from the ‘hood. There will be Christmas crafts and a potluck dinner. Not including wee Lee there will be 13 kids here. Of those kids eight of them are school age – 2 are home schooled and the others go to five different schools. Two families have moved but seven remain here in the neighborhood.

As we age and lives take different paths we lose so many people who were once important and hopefully we gain new ones. I don’t see anyone now that I went to kindergarten with, of course we moved around quite a bit until I was in Junior High. But so far I’ve worked hard to keep all the very closest to Noah still close to him. I’ll be so sad for him when people that he really loves move away or drift apart. Every day I think how grateful I would be if my friend Janette returned from Maine and my sister Elisha moved north from Florida. I have holes in my life where they should be. Sure these days we have Facebook, blogging, tweeting, texting, photos and phone all at our fingertips as means to keep in touch. But when YOUR people, the people who you wouldn’t mind if they casually dropped by on a daily basis because you are so at home with them near, when they aren’t close it stinks.
Maia, Victor and Ella are Noah’s best bestest friends. I wonder if he’ll know them in 20 years. I guess it’s silly to hope so, but I’m awfully silly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Ray had his Christmas show today. He stood on stage and sang "Santa Claus is coming to town" and remembered to do all the little choreographed motions. Didn't look nervous at all. SO CUTE. And I bought some raffle tickets, one of which was called and I picked out a ridiculous moving set of Santa bears that hold candles - all because I knew the boys would adore their ridiculously tacky goodness. But now I have to live with them FOREVER.

My Mom came in on the train this morning to go to Ray's show after driving in to see Noah's show on Thursday. That's some good grandmom-ing. We are very lucky.

I had very little sleep, the conclusion of a sleepover, Ray's show which was long warm and crowded, and cookie day at Mom's house. To say I am exhausted is to put it mildly. Sleep little blog, I'll be back tomorrow. With a tree!

Friday, December 17, 2010


I have no ideas for blogging tonight. And I am tired. I asked Mark what to blog about and he told me to blog about carpooling or bake sales. Whoopie! That's some exciting stuff right there. Just call me betty freakin crocker.

I should go to bed immediately. But I have a glass of wine and some potato chips and a netbook instead. Upstairs there are 5 children sleeping. At least 2 of whom are loaners and at least two of whom are sick, one mine and one not. Gabriel, Noah's best friend at school is the only boy in his class he had gone to school with previously. And Gabriel's little sister Maddie is in Ray's class at Bridesburg Rec. The two of them are sleeping over so their parents could go to a work Christmas party. Sadly both Maddie and Ray are under the weather, Miss Maddie more than Ray. I am just praying everyone sleeps until 5. Maddie is in Ray's bed, Noah and Gabe are sleeping together in Noah's bed, Ray is in my bed and Lee is in the crib next to my bed. Mark will be sleeping on the futon in the office and hopefully I'm not up with the infant and the preschoolers in the middle of the night.

If I could reverse one decision in my whole life it would probably be the decision to upgrade only to a Queen bed and not to a California King. Wouldn't life be grand if we could effortlessly fit everyone in one bed? Poor Mark. He's usually the one squeezed out. Of course he also gets to SLEEP.

Damn. Poor Maddie is coughing so much. I best try to get some rest. Fingers crossed that this isn't the longest night ever.

Edited to add: Between sickies and baby I got four inconsecutive hours of sleep. It's going to be a very long, very busy day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Noah is a showman. Ninety percent of his playtime is him putting on shows - dancing, singing, acting, tumbling, making music, doing magic tricks, telling jokes. Performing is who he is and who he has always been.

At Bridesburg Rec, Noah's first school they had a Christmas show in which he had to get on a stage and sing a couple of Christmas songs with his class. He was SO excited to be on the stage, to practice on the stage, to be in front of an audience. But both times he got up there he froze. Staring out at the audience in awe, not remembering the words or the motions.

He was excited for last years YCCA Christmas show, so excited to PERFORM. But that night he was just disappointed. They sat in a circle in the middle of the room and sang. There was no stage and therefore it was obviously not a show. He wanted to know when they were going to do it for real. But at graduation they had a big show. They sang like 8 songs - in the front of the room with assigned seats. This was more like it. And this time he didn't freeze. He knew all the songs, all the motions. I could HEAR him singing above the group. He was SO excited to be there and I cried.

Today Frankford Friends had their Winter concert. He hadn't told us anything about it. He practiced his songs in secret. And there he was again - doing the moves, singing loudly, beaming.

Not surprisingly Noah has always loved to see shows. Music, dance, plays, magic shows. And so does Ray, though he loves performing a bit less as he has to suffer Noah's directing. A couple of weeks ago we went to see The Rock School's version of The Nutcracker. We see The Nutcracker every year but this is the first ballet school version we saw. And now Noah is talking about taking ballet so he can be famous. I asked if he really wanted to do ballet or he just wanted to perform. He said perform, and then admitted he'd much prefer dancing to something much faster.

Noah is taking African drumming now. And he loves it. He's such a great student. But he's not a behind the drum kind of guy. I see many MANY acting, music and dance classes in his future. It's his spark.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mailer demon

I’m a somewhat creative person who doesn’t get a lot of time for creative things. I think that’s why I obsess about things like our Christmas card. Every year, months in advance I come up with a tag line for the card and then I photograph, design it and order it. And then I wait anxiously to receive them and even more anxiously for people to tell me what they thought . It’s the same for the boys birth announcements. When we were seriously considering Reed as a name for Lee I already planned on dressing him in a multitude of stripes on a striped background and using “Reed between the lines.” The cards are almost always based on puns or a plays on words. The last couple of cards have been based on Christmas songs, the first of which was the “Joyful and Triumphant” card with Ray as a clown and Noah as a knight – my personal favorite. But how am I going to keep it up? What if one year I can’t come up with anything? Or worse – I do a card and it’s just BAD.

Why do I do it? I kind of think of myself as a PR person for the kids. Cousins who see the boys once a year instantly remark on the Christmas cards or the birth announcements. They make them more memorable, create an instant bond in a way. I like that. And in a silly way it’s like my art and I want people to see it. Do I have your address?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

goddamn it

It ain't easy coming up with something to write every day. And it isn't easy to make time for it. And I just wrote a whole post and the computer ate it. And I don't have it in me to write it again today.

So hmmm... Almost done Christmas shopping. Need to start wrapping. Next two weeks are filled to the brim with holiday activities which are awesome and daunting.

Glad we are healthy and all alive and enjoying each other, most of the time. Could do with a wee bit more sleep and a wee bit less yelling - from myself, Mark and the boys. And... that's all I got for now. You sure missed a hell of post. And by you I mean Mark. Hi Mark. I think part of the reason I stopped putting in the effort to blog was the feeling that the only person reading it was my husband and he has to listen to my crap all day anyway.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Her doors are French so perhaps I should call her Antoinette

In April a very important new addition was made to our family. One I appreciate and fawn over almost daily. And it's my adoration of her that makes me feel thoroughly old and domesticated but with an air of thankfulness. It's my new refrigerator.

When we bought our house, almost exactly 10 years ago!, we had to get a fridge as well as a washer and dryer. And our tactic was to buy not the cheapest model but the second to the cheapest - because why would you need anything more. We were childless and things like big fridgest weren't a priority to us. But recently, three boys later, I found myself daydreaming about a new refrigerator. One with a freezer on the bottom - that you could open the french doors and SEE all your food. ALL of it. Dream big.

So I started pricing fridges. I found out that the almond color of our oven was soon to be discontinued in appliances and therefore it might be difficult to find in a fridge if I wanted to keep them matching. Nowadays its all white and chrome. But there in the aisles of the Sears Outlet at Franklin Mills I found a gigantic almond french door Kenmore Trio Elite. And it was seriously marked down since it was scratch and dent. Amazingly I didn't buy it immediately, I tend to be very spur of the moment when I find what I want with a deal. But I waited a few days, did some more comparisons and finally pulled the trigger.

And almost every day I have a wave of love pour over me for that fridge. It's just so amazing to see all the food in there without having to sit on the floor. I don't consider myself a materialistic person but a nice big fridge seems like a necessity for a woman who feeds four men. I often think of how much teen boys eat and ponder where I am going to put the chest freezer, which is funny since I don't really like to keep anything frozen aside from waffles and ice cream.

Feeding people is a constant script in my head. What we should be eating and how I can keep the kids eating healthy and interesting diets is a major part of my job. I swear I buy groceries every other day. Keeping us in fresh fruit is a full time job in and of itself. And so my greatest ally in keeping these boys fed is my pretty new fridge. If only she were self cleaning. And she did some meal planning. And she could keep Ray in his damn seat to eat a freakin meal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We always get our tree late in December because trees don't last long when you can't remember to water them. But the kids have been itching to decorate so yesterday I pulled up the Christmas decorations from the basement. We have a little fake tree for their room which they love and were anxious to decorate but sadly I don't have that many decorations for the home. I'm not a holiday decorator by nature. However I try to pick up a few things every year - a singing tree, a Santa cookie jar, some snowmen statuettes. But the big hit at our house is the nutcrackers. We have a few different sizes and designs from each Christmas. Problem is they don't really decorate anything as they instantly become a beloved play thing. Sparked by their imaginations, the singing tree and seeing The Nutcracker ballet every year - the boys are far too busy staging dramatic productions to let them sit on a shelf and look festive.

After today's ornate mouse king battle scene I remembered that I had loaded a video on youtube of Noah and the nutcrackers a few years back. And there was Noah, approximately the age Ray is now, and Ray, almost the age Lee is now. And I was teary eyed. I can hardly remember tiny little Noah and his squeaky voice. But there he is asking me to babysit his nutcrackers for him while he goes out to buy them more nuts. God. Time is going so fast. And I should take more video.

Here is my sweet 3 year old Noah.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

YOU face backward.

When Noah was an infant he HATED the car. At the time I thought part of the issue was that he wasn't in the car that often. I was home with him and when we went out we'd walk or take mass transportation or it'd be just a short trip in the car. And so he wasn't getting use to it.

But Lee HATES the car. And not because he has not gotten use to it. This poor boy is in the car SO much. I car pool for Noah's school so I only make 5 of the 10 trips per week - but it's still about 25 minutes with pickup and waitingand then the same back. And then there is Ray's school 2 days a week where we drop him off and have to pick him up in 2 and a half hours. And then Ray's tumbling class, not to mention the regular errands that just need to get done. So Lee is just riding around in the damn van all the time. So he is use to it, no question. Use to hating it. He starts to cry as soon as I set him in the seat. Noah and Ray and the car pool passengers can usually distract him for awhile but soon enough he'll be lik "Oh yeah... this sucks."

Ray wasn't car keen either and I have come to think that it's partially car sickness to blame as it seemed to get better with the older boys when they turned one and I turned their seat forward facing. I have been anxious to turn Lee's seat around as a result. Last month the pediatrician told me that they now recommend seats remain rear facing until the age of two. I pretty much told her "Um... Yeah. That isn't going to happen. His legs barely fit now." At which point she told me they were designing new car seats to accomodate that issue and that research proves that we'd all be better off in a crash if we were rear facing. At a future checkup I am totally expecting her to say "Research now says children are 305 percent less likely to have a car fatality if they never ride in a car so we are suggesting you stop driving."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Some general Lee

Our wee Lee is nine and a half months old. And he is fast becoming a person. It's so amazing to watch a being go from a sweet helpless, cuddly lump to an individual with wants, needs and a voice. Here are some of the details.

Lee seems a bit fearless. So many of the loud noises that would startle or frighten an infant don't phase him a bit. In fact the more hub bub the more interest. It may come from being born into a maelstrom of other boy activity but I also think it may be who he is.

Noah and Ray were always a bit shy with strangers. At the moment I can't say the same for Lee. It seems at times he's ready to sell us all away for the smile and recognition of a checkout girl. Many a stranger has accused him of being a flirt.

If Master Lee is feeling a bit cranky, or I need a distraction I ask Noah and Ray to put on a show. Usually some singing and clapping will do the trick. But honestly I think he loves watching them do anything.

He's in a pretty strong seperation anxiety phase at the moment. What strikes me odd is that sometimes I can leave the room and he's fine, but if he hears my voice in the distance or I come back in he starts crying hysterically. As if to say "I didn't know you were gone but now I realize I was in grave peril." The worst is if I then walk out of eye sight a second time. Forget breathing - there is too much to cry about.

Much like Ray did at an early age, Lee has tired of spoon feeding. He wants finger food all the way. And because I am no longer a timid mother of one I will feed the boy almost anything. Is he choking? No bother. I just shove my fingers in there thoughtlessly and swipe it out. He loves noodles, black beans and pieces of grape. But his favorite is chomping on an everything bagel. Well, aside from ice cream. He'll even let you feed him with a spoon if it's ice cream.

Without a doubt Lee's favorite place in the whole world is the bath tub. He could sit in there an hour. Moving things around in the water. Flapping his arms and splashing. He never wants to get out.

Lee is getting verbally expressive. Making different distinct noises for frustration, want, fear, sleepy and happy. And if you take something away from him you'll hear anger. Real hard.

He' really starting to get around. He can pull up and sit himself down. He can crawl and cruise around. He's really starting to get into stuff. And he's super interested in jamming things in his mouth unlike his brothers, which is great in a house with a million chokables. He plays with toys - paging through books, rolling balls, stacking and knocking over blocks. It's amazing stuff. Even the third time around.

He still wakes up a few times a night to nurse. After I go to bed the next time he wakes I just keep him there. I love a cuddly baby in the bed. This is only a problem when Ray joins us and then I'm squished and I can't get back to sleep. I often wish we just had all our mattresses on the floor of one room - like that crazy family I once saw on Wife Swap. Of course their kids were teens.

In short, Lee is awesome. And now I must get to bed and prepare for my next cuddling. Plus that boy almost always wakes up for the morning between five and six. Peace out. Zzzzz.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

More you say? Sure.

I have three kids. That's alot to some people. I often go out and people say "You have three boys? God bless you!" As if I'm suffering some sort of ailment and need a savior. Some folks look at me completely awestruck when I admit I might like to have one more. (Have I mentioned I overshare?)

I guess a former incarnation of myself thought three was alot of kids. I remember thinking "What in hell is she thinking?" when I heard my step sister was pregnant with a third. At the time I was befuddled by just one - and I still think that's the hardest. When it was just Noah I had only him to care for and so I was hyper focused on everthing - what should I be doing with him, what milestone should he be hitting, was this decision the best decision, what does the baby book say? Three makes me just sort of go with the flow. Well, as much as I am able.

Not only do I have three kids but I often have others. I'm constantly asking other parents to drop their kids off with us. I get alot of wide eyed befuddlement. Especially from people with just one kid. "But you have THREE. Already. How could you possibly want to care for my kid too? Clearly I can't leave him with an insane woman." But loaner kids are awesome! They come in and entertain my kids. When Noah and Ray have friends over they know they can't watch TV or play on the computer. It's PLAYTIME. And the two of them get along ALOT better when there are other kids here. They are too busy to just pick fights with one another. And too busy to be hanging on me asking me to entertain them. Sure the place is a wreck after a playdate but how is that any different than normal? And it's a very small price to pay for a moment to sit in the kitchen drinking tea in silence while little feet scamper playfully over head.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I overshare.

I am an over sharer. If something is going on with me, anything is going on with me, everyone will know it. And not just because I talk to much, I tweet too much and I status update too much. You can just tell by looking at me if something isn't quite right. I'm not an actor and I'm horrible at subtle.

I constantly have things happen to me and I think to myself "I shouldn't tell anyone that" or "I need to keep this to myself" and it doesn't happen. I just can't.

A few times in my life I have found out that something was going on with someone I cared about and they didn't share it with me. And every time it has blown me away. Because I can't NOT share. To a very serious fault. And so I can't get my head around someone staying silent. It feels painful to think about. Like I'd get physically ill if I didn't just let it all pour out all the time.

I wish I could shut the hell up. To have some privacy. Some restraint. Some mystery. Or just let sleeping dogs lie. But I can't manage it. I guess the upswing of that is you can't accuse me of being fake. Nope. I'm real. I real chatty pain in the ass.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Rev Bev

Before Mark and I got married we had a few pre-marital counseling sessions. The woman who married us wanted to know something about us before conducting our ceremony and she wanted to talk to us about marriage's challenges. Mark and I both came from broken homes and were approaching marriage with a very real sense of "We know it's hard. We mean forever and are willing to work hard for it." After talking to us about our families and our relationship Reverend Beverly had some concerns. She said that I had a very strong need to be a caretaker, a mother, and Mark had a need to be taken care of, mothered. And that while it worked great for us now that once we had children it might pose real problems. My maternal needs would be met by taking care of the kids but Mark would be left feeling neglected, with me resenting his need.

Reverend Beverly was dead on. Three hundred percent of me goes into taking care of the kids. I'm not complaining - I love it. I thrive on it. But I'm so wrapped up in it there isn't anything left for me or for Mark. And Mark works so hard at being a good husband. He wants nothing more to make me happy - to do what is necessary to make everything work. To him being a good husband makes him a good father. And he doesn't get alot back - at least not directly. I'm tough on him.I have high expectations, I'm particular about how I do things and I don't delegate well.

I am a good mom. It's who I am. I work hard at it. And I love it. But I can be a really sucky wife. I need to be better. Oddly enough I feel like I need to take more for myself in order to be a better wife. To give more to Mark. It needs work. But I meant forever and am willing to work harder at it.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Good times

Tonight I went out to dinner with a group of friends. Over the years we have tried to get together on a regular basis to talk and try out new restaurants. Since Lee has been born this is only the second time we've met out. I tried to change up Lee's nap schedule so he'd take a real late nap right as I was going out, but of course that didn't work. That never works. But all was well. Mark and the boys handled Lee-Lee fine. And he didn't even cry until I came home. It's like he saw me and was like "Oh yeah! Where the hell were you?"

The hard thing about going out with friends is that it's always this small window - and we're all going around the table talking about what is new with each one of us and then the time is gone. And we're just at the tip of the iceberg. And I walk home thinking about all the stuff I wanted to hear about them and their lives and how maybe I'll hear more next time. How I wish I was less distracted. How I hope they know how much it means to me to still play a small part in their lives.

And on a very bizarre note - I'm going out tomorrow too. A very unusual double header. This time with very new friends. And all the uncertainty of getting to know new people. Of wondering what they think of me. And hoping to have a fun and comfortable good time in a very small time window. I'm nervous.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

School daze

In September Noah started Kindergarten at Frankford Friends. Because our neighborhood school isn't up to par with what we want for Noah, last year I embarked on the craziness of the Philadelphia school hunt. I filled out a transfer form to see if Noah could win a lottery into a better neighborhood school and after alot of research I put in applications at a few charter schools that I thought were appropriate. And we also put in an application at Frankford Friends which I had fallen in love with last year when we visited.

I had met a few neighborhood families who sent their kids to Frankford Friends and was blown away about how positively they felt about it. And when I visited it was clear why. Not only do they teach by the Friends school ideals - to stress growth in individuality, strong sense of community, and peaceful conflict resolution - but the school had such a humble, diverse and homey feel to it, which isn't how I typically feel about private schools. FF is small with class sizes around 15 or less in the higher grades and the kids of different ages work together often so all the students and families get to know each other. And because Frankford Friends is in North Philadelphia in a neighborhood that many consider dicey, it makes it a very affordable private school education, especially by Quaker school standards.

I was SO pleased when Noah loved the school as much as I did when he spent the day there. And they loved him too. And I was looking forward to becoming part of the Frankford Friends family since this time last year.

And how is it? So far it's everything I had hoped it would be. Noah feels completely at home there. He hasn't had one bad day or complaint about any teacher or student. The other families are so friendly and we're enjoying getting to know people and get involved with all the extra curricular activities. The thing that speaks volumes to me about the school is the older kids - how smart and friendly the eighth graders seem when often that isn't the case with kids that age. Frankford Friends seems to be a perfect fit for us. Of course sending three kids to private school isn't ideal and part of me feels the need to do all the lottery stuff for Ray too to see if he gets in some place that would be as good for him and free - but I don't know if such a place exists. Sure there are alot of great school options but it's so hard to consider the others when this one seems so right.

The details: Noah has art, music, library, gym, spanish, choice time, a reading partner from an older grade and a gardening partner from an older grade (in the spring they work on a school garden). His favorite day of school is Friday because they have an all school assembly where students from different grades perform or talk about what they are learning. They have recess time twice a day - and though they don't have any play equipment they do a great job of encouraging creative outdoor play. This year they have gotten enough funding to start building an additional building which will give them a bigger indoor group space, a music room and gym.

OH and since I'm on the topic of school I must mention Noah's reading. For the LONGEST time Noah was on the edge of reading. For forever he knew all his letter sounds and could sound out words but he seemed afraid to try. He was frustrated and any time we tried to read with him would end with him in a poor mood. I decided last year to let up on him since he was already ahead for his age and just hope that kindergarten would help. That what he needed was just someone else to encourage him. Well that is exactly what happened but not in the way I expected. Noah brings home a little book and when he can read it by himself and to the class he can exchange it for the next level. Well Noah and one other classmate are tearing through these books. Noah is loving the competition of it - approaching them suddenly with an "I can read" attitude that he never had before. And he wants to make sure he is keeping up with his classmates - that he and a girl in his class are ahead. In fact his teach keeps "forgetting" to give him the next book right away, but I think she is purposely trying to slow him down so the other kids don't get too far behind. So - Noah's reading. And he's so excited and proud about it. It's excellent.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


During the holiday season we have plans to see four plays and go on several Christmas-y type outings. Today Mark and myself took five kids between the ages of 8 and 9 months to see the Nutcracker ballet. It was an ambitious plan and luckily everyone was well behaved and Lee napped during the majority of the show. But it could have gone badly, very badly.

I often get carried away with the kids. If I hear of a play, a place, an experience, a class that I think they might enjoy I HAVE to take them. How could I not? They'd love it! They'd get so much from it. It would make childhood magical or expand their world. There are a few problems with this of course. 1) It gets damn costly to be buying tickets and memberships and enrolling them in classes. Especially since there are THREE of them. 2) You simply can't do everything. You can't. And sometimes I feel bad that they are missing something. Well, WE. I like to see plays and go places too. I like to be busy and explore too. I just can't sit in the house and stare at the walls all day. But we can't do everything. 3) Sometimes I might plan an activity and one of us might not be up for it. The baby is tired. Ray is a grump. Noah is whiny. Or I am exhausted. And sometimes we push through and sometimes we just give up.

But in those occasional moments when we're a bit weary and I'm muttering "What in the world was I thinking?" I have to take a deep breath and hope that the kids remember their childhood as a flurry of learning, magic and fun and not just being dragged around by their nutty mother who overextended them all and then lost of her mind.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The cray-cray of Ray Ray

Ray is the most difficult to get along with among the Eggerts clan. (Well, at least the men. I fully admit to being the stubborn, moody one from whom he inherited his traits.) As of late he's been having temper fits. The most common one occurs when he's told he's had enough computer time. The kid is a natural gamer - wanting to play on his Leapster, on the netbook or on my Iphone non-stop. In a way that Noah has never been interested. Ray loves gaming so much and since I supply him with mostly educational games (okay, so Angry Birds doesn't truly teach anything but perserverence) he has also learned SO very much. His letter and number recognition and blossoming reading and math skills have much to do with the games. But when it's time for the game to end Ray nearly always loses his mind. It's like a switch is flipped and he becomes a rabid animal. This sort of reaction will sometimes come up if he is over tired and he wants me to do something that Mark is trying to help him with. He'll go ballistic insisting that Mama do the most mundane and meaningless of tasks. Later, when the dust settles and he's gone back to being verbal he seems sincerely sorry and talks about his anger as if it is truly something that overtakes him. A little Jekyll and Hyde. His madness comes on so suddenly and burns so brightly that I am occasionally overwhelmed by it. He seems at moments out of control, a bit crazy and unpredictable. I totally expect him to attend an anger management class at some point. At least one. Is 4 too early to enroll?

But Ray is also the most passionate, the most cuddly, the most gregarious and charismatic. Almost daily he will tell me apropros of nothing that he loves me. I'll be driving to pick up Noah from school and Ray speaks up suddenly from the back of the van and says "I love you, Mama." And he gives the best hugs - falling into you, squeezing and squishy.

I have said it a million times and I will say it a million more: I liked the name Ray for him because he was a summer baby and it made me think of a ray of light - and he is precisely that. So warm, so bright, sometimes a bit too intense - but you can't take your eyes off him.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The gym calls.

The challenging part of having a baby for me is my complete lack of freedom. By my own nature I am very serious about attachment parenting. It is the way in which I need to raise my children, how I feel good about it. And thus prior to the age of two I have very rarely been apart from them. As a result of me being there 24-7 to care for them for the first two years, they are very attached and suffer seperation anxiety on the few occasions on which I am not with them. But Noah, now 6 years old is SO comfortable out on his own now. He adores school, doesn't fear us leaving him with friends or family and is a total social being. This happened so naturally and gradually and I really think it was ideal. And Ray is making his way too. He looks forward to school now and goes on playdates without me, even sleepovers at grandparents house without incident. Their secure attachment to me did, in my mind, give them confidence in themselves and surroundings. And well, I'm a clingy thing and that's how I've done it and have enjoyed doing it that way.

Lee however is my current 24-7 need machine. But after 9 months I am feeling the need to get some time away. I want to get a gym membership - I feel and look like hell. So I am hoping that Mark can man the helm for a few hours a week so I can get some regular air - more regularly than I have had in over 6 years. It's not going to be easy. I have a hard time stepping away. And Mark will have to endure some seperation anxiety crying - which makes me feel so bad for Lee and for Mark. But it's time. I need it. And a few hours a week shouldn't be too crazy. And not only will Lee have Mark, he'll also have Noah and Ray. So how could he possibly miss little old me?

Now to get that gym membership. I haven't worked out regularly in about 7 years!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I may be a mirage.

Here's news: Three kids is busy. Real busy. Getting a moment to myself is difficult. Having the energy for a complete coherent thought in that moment is rare. So time flies by. Lee is 9 months old, cruising and creeping. I blinked and his babyhood was gone. And I didn't blog any of it. Sigh.

I've decided to blog December. Every day. We shall see.

The biggest issue these days is the quarreling between Noah and Ray. It drains me. Most days. I was raised alone by my mother so the constant sibling quarreling is mind boggling to me. Can't we all just get along? The bulk of the fighting occurs when Ray tires of doing exactly what Noah tells him to do and then all hell breaks loose. It's not physical - my boys aren't really that type. It's alot of nasty talk, whining and crying for me to intervene. It makes me want to turn the hose on them. But that would be wrong. Right?

And Lee still seems pretty easy though as he starts to get around more that will change. The older boys will have new things to whine about when Lee gets into everything. Fun times. Babyhood - how I adore it. And it's gone. Again. Where did my babies go? Who told them they could grow? Sheesh.

The holidays have snuck up on me. As do most things, honestly. I started shopping. Mostly for the kids though they don't need a thing. And still I am overdoing it. Books is my weak spot. I could buy them a million books.

Noah asked Santa for a Djembe - an African drum. He has started taking a world percussion lesson in the last month and loves it. I decided it would be perfect for his first music lesson because it has a quick payoff and it teaches the backbone of music. And as he is with all his loves he is very intense about it, I love to see that. Ray asked Santa for Moon Dough. Play Doh is still among his most favorite things to do and has been for about two years. And the idea that Moon Dough doesn't dry out seems like a dream come true. He too wants to take drumming but Noah's teacher starts at age 6. There was talk about someone else teaching a younger kids class at some point and Ray talks about that as if he starts next week. But for now he's loving his tumbling class - it incorporates gymnastics, yoga and just plain old active fun. He's really a much more physical being - a good jumper, a natural at balance, a better catch and throw. He'd be the sportsman, if I allowed such things. I best get that kid an instrument lesson QUICK before he gets his own ideas.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Keeping up with blogging is a joke at this point. I rarely have personal time to urinate. But anyways.

The last month of pregnancy was LONG. And definitely my worst yet. I was tired but had no time to rest. I was crabby and short tempered and yet noone could possibly leave me alone. I was dismayed about the many feet of snow that fell and continued to fall – trapping us in the house, worrying me that my Mom wouldn’t make it to my house to watch the boys if I went into labor, and making it nearly impossible for a pregnant woman to park her van or even maneuver without constant fear of falling belly first. My blood pressure was too high again which meant I was supposed to take it easy (HA!) and that my temper was on the verge. But the worse thing was the contractions. I had them all the time. I can’t even count how many times I timed the damn things – getting closer and closer and closer until they’d suddenly fade away. And the craziest thing is that I’d never had contractions prior to labor before. With Noah and Ray I didn’t get any real contractions until my water broke. By 36 weeks I was SO DAMN READY for the baby to be born. Since Noah was born at 38 weeks and Ray at 37 weeks – I was sure the baby was due any second. Especially with all the contractions. But with all the false starts I started thinking the baby might need to fall out before I was sure it was finally time to go to the hospital.

And then there was the circus. My boys love the circus. Hell, let’s be honest – I love the circus. I know there are ethical concers about the animals but I love the big top anyway – the daring feats, the pageantry, the sounds. So much over the top childish fun. So whenever the circus comes to town we buy tickets for opening night because you can get any seat in the house at the cheapest price. When I heard the circus was coming to town at the end of February I agonized over it. My due date was March 9th but since the other boys came early the circus was smack dab in my birthing window. I decided I best not buy the tickets. Lo and behold Santa (Mark) decided to buy the tickets for opening night anyway – February 24. So the entire last month of pregnancy I kept hoping that the baby either come well before the circus so I could still attend or after – so we could take the baby too. It was literally stressing me out. The circus for Gods sake.

Very early on the morning of Tuesday, February 23 I woke up to a hugely painful contraction. But nothing after. This after another night of counting contractions all night. I was getting really, really pissed. That morning the contractions started up again. I had a OB appt and decided that hopefully she’d get down to the bottom of it. Ray had an art class that morning. I contracted through the whole damn class and had I not had the OB appt I would have gone to the hospital then. So I get to my appt and tell the receptionists that I have been having contractions 6 minutes apart all morning. And they were like “OH!” and acted as if this might get me speedy service. Not so. AN HOUR LATER – I finally see my OB. She tells me that it isn’t GO time until they are 4 minutes apart for several hours. Remember –this timing thing is news to me as my prior births both started with water breaks and I was told to come to the hospital STAT. She literally chuckles at me and says she knows I’m having a hard time of it and that next week they will induce me if I prefer. And I’m like “NEXT WEEK?” while I stab her in the throat. Mind you I am only 38 weeks pregnant.
Within an hour of leaving her office they are 4 minutes apart. And stay that way for a few hours. I call Mark and my Mom and say I think this may be it but who am I to say at this point. Mom makes plans to come straight from work. After she gets here I decide there is no way I am going to the hospital before watching LOST. So we leave home after 10 and go to the hospital. And ya know what – it’s true. The baby is coming. Finally.

And this is where it all gets very boring. I don’t have much to report about the actual birth of Lee Arthur Eggerts. It was fairly easy peasy. I took the pitocin and the epidural when offered because I’d learned my lessons the first and second time. I warned the nurse that a full bladder had prevented me from fully dilating the first two times and that I’d like her to please keep on top of that. The first time she drained my bladder there was no change and she probably thought me daft. But then she was about to change shift at 7 am and I asked that she please do it before she left – and whaddya know! – she emptied my bladder and hot damn if the baby wasn’t about to fall out. Then there was a flurry of activity to get the doctor – she came in, suited up, I pushed twice, for about a minute and a half and there he was. Our little Lee. Wednesday, February 24 at 7:33 am at 8 lbs 3 oz and 20.75 inches. And I was instantly in love.

I heart babies. My babies. I'm addicted to them. And given unlimited funds and possibly a bit more youth I’d have many more. And all that yummy baby goodness does wonders to wash away the horrid horribleness of that last month of pregnancy. The month of pregnancy that had me going “Thank God this is the last time.” And then Lee is born, I hold him in my arms and instantly think “I need to do this again.”

The most noteworthy thing about the hospital experience was that Noah and Ray were not allowed into the hospital. As a holdover from the swine flu hysteria children under the age of 16 were not allowed to visit. So on the day they came to the hospital my Mom held little Lee while I went downstairs to visit with the boys. And then my Mom, her husband Larry, and my Dad took the boys out to eat while my father-in-law and his wife visited. I fell asleep before they left. My Dad came back to see me and Lee in the evening while Mark and my Mom took the boys to the circus – YES! Lee was born on the day of the circus! Tricky thing. And after Dad left I didn’t see anyone but Lee for a day and a half. We had another snow storm so noone came to visit me in the hospital. And the nurses knew this was my third and he was nursing like a champ so they barely checked on me. I got a little lonely but I had a great chance to bond with Lee. I just stared at him and slept, stared at him and slept.

The next day Mark left Noah and Ray to play at a neighbors while he came to pick me and Lee up. We got home and got settled and then Mark went to retrieve the boys and give them their first introduction to there brother. There was lots of cooing and sweetness. But even more than that the boys were so happy to have me home, but not as happy as I was to see them. I am so rarely away from the kids that it seems insanity when I am.

So life as a family of five is chaos. Lovely, fantastic chaos. And adding Lee to our family hasn’t been that much of a change at all. He sleeps pretty well at night so I never felt overly sleep deprived and now we just tote him along with all our comings and goings. When I need time to concentrate on Lee the boys keep each other busy, often with quarreling and mutual aggravation, but busy none the less. Of course I don’t have free time EVER, but other than that three is doable for me. So much so that my assertion that Lee was totally going to be my last is wavering, as you can tell. Sadly I don’t think Mark feels the same. Who knows – once Lee starts moving around it may be I won’t feel the same.

And the boys have adjusted really well. Ray went through some extra clinginess which resulted in his occasionally ending up in our bed but he’s mostly come out of that. And Noah is fantastic with Lee. He downright adores him. I definitely wasn’t expecting that considering he often still seems on the fence about Ray.

After the birth of Lee there was MASTITIS. It surprised the hell out of me when my nipples were chewed to bloody pulps, I got a horrible infection and had a fever for days that went as high as 104. Lee and I languished in bed for days recuperating while Mark had to tend to the big boys. And ME – I’m a nursing champ. How could it happen? I called a friend of a friend who was a La Leche Leader and she reminded me that you can’t nurse a newborn like a 2 year old. They need positioning and firm hold – you can’t just throw them on the boppy pillow, attach them to the breast and go about using both hands for other things. And then I called a Lactation Consultant for a home visit (my first time ever) and she was so incredibly helpful. She helped me start from scratch trying to retrain Lee who was a particularly chompy beast. Also I found out flow was an issue. I was damn near drowning the kid in milk and he was chugging ferociously to keep up. But the good news is that even though my breasts were ripe to feed vampires with the amount of bleeding I was doing and I hurt so much that I cried while nursing – I was still feeding Lee well. The LC marveled at how much weight he’d been gaining. SO nursing is hard. Few people will really tell you that because they don’t want to discourage people from doing it because it is also so fantastic for so many reasons. But it can be hard. There can be a lot of super suckiness in the beginning, even when you are a veteran. I could talk for days about nursing but noone wants to read that, or probably what I already wrote.

And Lee! Well he’s already over 4 months old and I’m just getting around to writing all this down and designing his birth announcement. He appears to have Noah’s features and Ray’s coloring. His birth weight was between that of slender Noah and chubby Ray but he is the longest one yet. He’s flipping over, trying to crawl and gurgling a blue streak. And he’s so smiley and charming when he’s not sleep deprived. Poor guy is often prevented from having proper naps because of our schedules. But he is a fool for attention – as all three of them are. No mellow babies here.

There is SO much more to stay. And all of this needs editing and fleshing out but if I don’t throw this on blogger now I’ll never post it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

That's good stuff

Lee is alot more content and comfortable now that he has started on Zantac for his acid reflux.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Really, we had another one.

Lee is 7 weeks old today. And I still haven't written his birth story. Just no time. Sigh. But babies - I love babies. And Lee is scrumptious. More than a bit fussy, but lovely just the same. Did you realize if 2 needy, anxious people mate they create more needy, anxious people? Third borns should not cry everytime they are put down to feed the others - but Lee didnt get that memo. He wants constant affection. And I have plenty of love but not near enough arms.

Warm weather is awesome

Spring is truly a rebirth. We've been spendind most afternoons in the park t is lovely. The big boys are awesome. Ray is so funny and talkative. He wants to tell strangers that the Muse video he saw on youtube has giant evil teddy bears in it. And he's sad when they arent't listening or don't understand why he's talking about teddy bears apropos of nothing. Noah is out of the very trying phase he was in briefly, knock wood, and often doesn't raise a fuss when I expect him to. I'm all braced for the whining and he replies simply "Got it!" And he's really taken with Lee - wanting to hold and carry him, singing him songs when he's crying.
Time is passing and the kids are growing. I wish I had some time to document it all but I can barely keep up.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Eyes! He has some.

We so rarely see them open.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Day 2

I love this picture of Lee's long gangly legs and big funny feet. He was the longest of all three Eggerts boys and in the middle for weight.
His hair is not as strawberry as Ray's or as dark as Noah's - he looks to be quite blonde. And his eyes are undecipherable - at the moment almost a steely grey.
He was a natural nurser - the hospital instantly gave him a 9 for latch and the lactation consultant said he'd obviously read the book. He seems pretty low key - just staring off quite contently when he has a rare moment of wakefulness between eating and sleeping.

He's quite sleepy.

Really have no idea what it will be like to have three active kids because at the moment Lee is very cuddly, hungry luggage.

Lee Arthur Eggerts

At 6 days old. I plan to write his birth story at some point.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fancy Pants

Ray is wearing big boy underpants! On Thursday he pulled the package of underwear he had received in his Christmas stocking out of his dresser drawer and commenced with a fashion show. He was clearly enchanted with them. So much so that he refused to put a diaper and pajamas on for bed. I had to wait to change him after he fell asleep. So the next morning - underwear it was. And he's totally committed, even morally opposed to wearing Pullups to bed. He's doing amazingly well. I'm always worried about a setback but in this case Ray's stubborn nature is a positive. He decided he is a big boy and no longer wears diapers and so it was.
Along with the bother of having a kid pee every 25 minutes I also get the humor. Like his newfound fascination with his penis. He converses with it. And his love of the idea that when he flushes his poop and pee goes to a party. He wishes them well on their adventures.
And then there is that cute little underwear butt!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Most wonderful time of the year

I’m 31 weeks pregnant. Damn pregnancy is long. Aside from my legs feeling they might detach from my body much in the way a Barbie would snap apart if you and a friend each grabbed a leg and yanked – I’m doing well. Getting tired. Nap-needing tired with no sign of naps in sight. But luckily on Noah’s school days I can indulge Ray with a little extra TV time while I kind of doze off here and there.

Christmas was a whirlwind. We had some really wonderful times. The kids were totally caught up in the mystery and the magic of the holiday. We got to spend a lot of time with our families which is what the holidays mean most to me. The absolute high point was a surprise visit from my sister Elisha, her husband and son. She showed up at my Dad’s place on Christmas Day and almost sent me into labor. I believe I screamed insanely before breaking into soundless sobs. It could have been a coffee commercial where it not for my unbecoming cry face. There was also many tears at the low point of our holiday – my Dad had a very surprising and scary but also thankfully small stroke. He’s doing very well with hardly a repercussion other than a new mandate to live more heart healthy - quit smoking and reduce the salt and cholesterol. So far he seems to be doing well but it’s not at all a slight or easy change for him to make so we’re all just keeping our fingers crossed. I never want to get that phone call again.

What did the kids get? An insane amount of stuff despite my pleas that everyone, including myself keep it simple. From Santa Ray got Playdoh, costumes, a wooden barn and a sandwich making kit and Noah got his electric drum pad, a video camera, and a skeleton modeling kit. We got both boys books – as is my custom that clothes and books are from parents and toys from Santa. Ray got a few “touchy” books – these are his favorites. He particularly loves the Matthew Fleet books. Noah got the first three Lightning Thief books and the first set of Peter and the Starcatchers series. He loves the high intrigue chapter books before bedtime. From family the kids got a wooden kitchen, a new mattress (N’s was nearly 20 years old and apparently like sleeping on cardboard), all manner of blocks, matchbox, crafts, games, and clothes. I need to buy more shelving to accommodate all this stuff. I should really open up a daycare up in here. Of course they also got the much appreciated gift cards, cash and checks for memberships, plays and college.

Field trips of note around the holidays include our traditional Black Friday trek to Dickens Village and the light show, a trip to see the Christmas display at Longwood Gardens, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker, the Comcast Center’s 3D show and The Arden Theater’s Peter Pan. The days surrounding Christmas were filled with our normal busy runaround to spend time with family. The only departure was that rather than cook Christmas Eve dinner for my Mom, her husband and my in-laws I decided rather smartly that I was too pregnant and tired for all that standing and stress and suggested we go out. After making reservations at three places I settled on The Plough & The Stars and everyone really loved it. The meal was great and it was all Christmasy up in there to set just the right tone. I might even consider doing that again next year – of course then there will be a 10 month old and those are rarely fun in restaurants. Oh and there was SNOW! Monstrous amounts of snow right before Christmas that delighted the children but pissed me off because it cancelled Ray’s school Christmas show and our traditional cookie day at Mom’s place. Damn snow. Ray was crushed though when it melted all away. He can’t wait for the next blizzard.

And Master Ray? He is a delight. At least that’s what I think. Despite the occasional angry, stubborn outburst that makes Mark say that he is uncontrollable and me to say "That's TWO" and "Well he is clearly a Maersch" – I find Ray to be totally intoxicating. He is just so full of joy and spirit. He is vibrant. And TALKATIVE! My lord that kid will chatter your ears clean off. He likes to tell you what’s going on and what he’s done and tell you he knows that song or he’s seen that guy, that guy wearing a green hat, and he’s got a green hat. All of which has Noah saying through gritted teeth “I KNOW Ray.” Ray has stopped nursing and is sleeping in a big boy bed in a room with his brother. The transition went really well and he even did great the first and only time Mark put him to bed while I was out. I think he will do better with transitions with the baby because he’s got Noah. Boy he LOVES Noah. He just adores him though he often gets a lot of shit back. He misses Noah when he’s gone and he wants him with him if there is a choice. That’s not to say that he doesn’t occasionally get into a fight with Noah – they fight. Quite a bit. This is typically because Noah wants Ray to do something that Ray doesn’t want to do or because Noah is unhappy with the way Ray is doing what Noah told him to do. And sometimes it’s just because one of them is grumpy and decides to make the other miserable for no discernible reason but that they can. But I guess this is what siblings are like. Mark and I are often at a loss about this as he has no siblings and I never lived with any of my half or step siblings. So when they fight we’re bashing our heads against the walls in confusion saying “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Noah is growing. My God. He really is such a boy now. There is no baby left. He’s so damn tall and still shooting up. He’s been on this voracious eating growth spurt like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And he’s insanely emotional – part of this is the age but part of it is jealousy of Ray (everyone is always just oohing and aahing over him) and possibly fear of a new sibling, though he’s never said anything negative about the coming of the baby. In fact he is still rallying for another one after this one – preferably through adoption so he can be sure it’s a girl. But at the moment Noah is a study in contradictions because in the outside world he is SO well behaved. People marvel at how smart, how calm, how wonderful he is. And he is all those things. But he’s also been driving Mark and I insane because at home he can be SO disrespectful, and so ridiculously over emotional and easily frustrated – in ways that are so unlike him. I’m actually feeling a bit panicked about it and will probably buy another damn parenting book so I can feel like I’m doing something and have a coping technique. One second I’m just outraged at the way he’s talking to me and convinced I’ve done something horribly wrong to bring it about and the next I’m practically weeping for him while holding him as he tells me how hard it is to be a big boy, and how he can’t stop being upset, that he can’t control his emotions. I feel like he may be sharing my pregnancy hormones. But he’s still just an amazing child – just so ridiculously smart and eager to learn. He loves writing. I let him write approximations of words without correcting him and he just loves to write. He’s still got a hang up about reading that I fear occurred because I was initially correcting him too much, but that will come soon enough and flow naturally with the writing. We got the great news that he was accepted into Frankford Friends for next year. Though I do hold out a hope for a free school option I know Frankford Friends really is the ideal place for him. The small class size, the arts, the modesty and spirit of the place. It really is a fabulous fit, for him, and for us and we are thrilled.

Mark’s back to making music in the basement. He normally takes February to do that but with the baby most likely expected at the end of the month I told him January was better. So I’ve been trying to make extra alone time for him to work on that. It isn’t easy especially since I’m not exactly energetic.

And me? I’m really excited for this baby. There are some concerns about big changes but by the third time I know things will all eventually shift and fall into place and we won’t even remember what it was like with just two. I am excited to meet yet another love of my life. Someone who isn’t the dazzling Noah or vibrant Ray but a fantastic life all unto his own. I’m also sad that this is my last child. Part of me knows that when this baby turns three and there isn’t another one on the horizon I will be crushed. I so much love the first three years! But four kids seems a bit unwieldy even for me – to do the things with the kids that I want to do, that I love to do – the outings, the plays, the classes, the travel. So this is the last one. I might even miss pregnancy. HA! Now isn’t that ridiculous.