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.