Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

It's the end of 2011 and I have three sleeping children. Last year at this time I think I had one sleeping child, one awake, and of course one in utero. Last year we were able to get away; this year, of course, we had been away already and were not about to go anywhere else.

So what's new? Obviously, the baby. That's the biggest new item. The other boys are so grown up by comparison!

Last year Musical Daddy was working a temp job that was clearly a short-term assignment. This year, right around the time that school would have started, he was picked up for a temp-to-hire gig. No word yet on the "hire" part, as he does have to stay a temp for a certain amount of time as part of the contract. But a job that might be permanent with a company that does good business and is growing is never a bad thing. Don't like the hours much and I lament the loss of family meal time. Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday dinners. Monday and Friday (and sometimes Saturday or Sunday) breakfasts. Lunch is usually a catch-as-catch can for everyone, although The Bear and I usually dine together when only The Boy is in school.

I've started to get more musically involved with my congregation. It's been fun. And it's been a great professional opportunity.

Musical Daddy has his chorus job. You know, the one where he can go out with 50 or 60 women, come back with makeup on his shirt, and I just say "how was the show?" The chorus makes me want to get back into barbershopping, but seeing as how his involvement with the chorus isn't going anywhere, we hope, I might be able to get involved sometime later. Orchestra happens at the same time, unfortunately.

This evening, we went to visit with friends. They moved here over the summer, but I had known her for years. We did a lot of the same things in college, including Sigma Alpha Iota (Alpha Chapter!), marching band euphonium section (although I didn't last long), university choir, and a summer program where we were counselors (and later I was an instructor). She has a daughter who just turned 2.

I have to kvell from their house a bit. It is the perfect size and layout. It has a gorgeous kitchen and the open layout from the kitchen to the dining room. I would love to have a kitchen like that or like the one here. They also have just the right amount of toys, not too many as I feel we have, and the furniture is great. It's in a very nice suburb, and they live about a mile outside of the city.

I'm hoping for a little more direction in 2012. Perpetually hoping for more patience. And I am going back into healthy cooking mode and fewer meals out. I don't know what I weigh right now, and it's not about a number, but I feel better when I eat real food. Beyond that, New Years is a bit of a reboot. Feels good. Let's hope we all have a good one.

Vacation wrap up

This was supposed to post 2 days ago. Here it is:

On Day 6, The Boy woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Just cranky and grouchy. The thought of going to Disneyworld with him that morning wasn't a pleasant one. Instead, we remained at the village and planned on a leisurely morning. Good choice--they had a little carnival that morning as the Notre Dame and Florida State football teams came to visit. It was great fun. Highlights included The Bear dunking a basketball, big burly football players on the carousel, and The Boy spelling out "Go Noles" in blocks.

Our last trip to Disneyworld was to Hollywood studios. That is new since my last visit in the late 1980's! We did the Toy Story ride twice. We saw the Osborne family lights, had dinner at the Sci Fi drive in theater, and had an enjoyable evening that we wisely ended before there were any meltdowns.

We packed that night and woke up nice and early for our plane. No problems with the return travel and everything even fit in the car. Musical Daddy should offer services as a car packing consultant.

Today at home was low-key and somewhat restful. We are bummed that vacation is over, but hopefully the trip served as a recharge. I have already made lots of homemade food--I missed it, even though the cafe meals at the village were nice and we had some fun food at the parks.

We have hundreds of photos! Will be sharing soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 5 -- SeaWorld!!

In the words of Daniel Tosh, in response to sweets with nuts put in them: "Quit trying to healthy up my dessert!" That was my initial reaction to SeaWorld--seemed like an awful lot of education for an amusement park. Except there was so much more interaction than what you get at the zoo. We got to touch stingrays and see dolphins. We saw the "One Ocean" whale show which was lots of fun.

I had read the book Whale Done Parenting, written by a couple of whom one is a whale trainer at SeaWorld. Basically, the book takes the model of rewarding and encouraging the positive and ignoring or redirecting the negative and compares it to children vs. whales. Interesting part of the book was where they described how to train whales to pee in a cup.

Anyhow, I remembered that as I watched the show, and I was amused.

The fact that it was rather overcast today and not too hot, and having brought Grandpa with us as well, really made this a fun outing. Before and after the show, we spent much of the time at Shamu's Happy Harbor, which was the kid's area. We did Shamu Express, and while The Bear was tall enough, he was a bit scared by it. He loved the flying jellyfish ride, though.

There was a large webbed structure with tunnels and such, for climbing and playing. The Boy did the whole thing. So did The Bear. As such, we the parents did too. Good thing we are in good physical condition with working knees.

In general there was a lot less complaining today and it was also a lot less crowded. Since SeaWorld also exists closer to where we live, we shall have to return using our GKTW passport.

Oh--that's another neat thing about the magic GKTW button. For a year after you leave, you may visit participating parks for free. That includes a LOT of places. Kennywood ( our local amusement park), Hershey Park, Sesame Place, and, I think, SeaWorld. And you can do whichever ones you like.

Although I think I'm amused enough for awhile, after tomorrow.

Day 4 (which was yesterday...)

Christmas does not stop people from descending on Disney World! We started yesterday at Animal Kingdom and stayed until late lunchtime. I brought food, which did at least save us money and some time (although I think we just broke even, time-wise).

It was a fun morning. We did another 3D show called "It's Tough to Be a Bug" which The Boy loved and The Bear found a bit scary. We did a walk through the jungle to see some animals (bats, for example, as well as tigers). We spent a bunch of time in DinoLand, where The Bear was all about the Triceratops ride.

The return to the villa for a nap was complicated by the fact that The Bear slept in the car and was put in bed of to be awakened by his nap was shot. As was Daddy's. The Bear and Ender stayed with Grandma and Grandpa yesterday evening and The Boy and Daddy and I returned to the Magic Kingdom. It was at capacity earlier in the day and was pretty darned crowded when we were there.

Magic Kingdom at night is gorgeous. No question about that. The castle is all lit up and they have trees lit up everywhere this time of year. And yes, it snowed on Main Street.

We did a few parts that we hadn't do e yet, including a Safari ride and The Haunted Mansion. Dinner was a fancy meal at The Liberty Tree Tavern, served family-style. It was an amazing festive meal. Turkey, roast beef, pork which we didn't get of course, along with stuffing, potatoes, green beans cauliflower, macaroni, and bread, and salad. And dessert was apple-cranberry cake with ice cream. Expensive, but well within our "budget."

Getting back to our car in the midst of the electric light parade took forever. And the monorail took forever. Definite drawback of the whole Disneyworld thing--it takes quite awhile just to get to the parks.

When we returned to the villa, I watched a silly Christmas chick flick with my mom. Not sure why.

Disneyworld may be a happy place but the sheer crowded nature of the parks combined with the heat and the cranky kids makes for a little too much stimulation. Even so, the special button that we get to wear makes everyone treat us extra-nice. Little to no wait. I'd go nuts if I had to wait an hour with the boys for anything!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 3: different plans

Today I sent Daddy, The Boy, and Grandpa to Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure. They arrived back a bit before 3PM and had a great time.

The Bear was in need of a more low-key day. He's 2. And 2 and 4 year olds have different needs and wants sometimes. After breakfast and sending off the park-goers, The Bear and I headed for the big Candyland playground here at the village. Following that, we stopped back at our place to get Ender settled back in with Grandma and we headed for the splash pad (spray park) and pool. We had such a great time, just us again.

We had lunch of leftovers, and then Ender and I went to pick up sandwiches with our lunch credit, to take with us tomorrow.

After spending some time hanging out, it was naptime. Everyone else arrived while I napped, and I was awakened by The Boy kinda landing on me.

We hit the playground and other on-site activities in shifts. Then it was dinner time, and while we were disappointed that the Gingerbread House wasn't open, we still enjoyed our meal from the on-site Boston Market.

The evening event was Mayor Clayton's birthday party. Complete with cake, and who cares if we had ice cream before dinner?

It wasn't a late night out at all for our boys. But that's okay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 2--Disneyworld!!

Morning orientation after breakfast, where I was given more tickets than I could possibly use.

We spent late morning and afternoon at Magic Kingdom, the boys and Daddy and I. Grandma and Grandpa had a lovely time with Ender...they said it was so relaxing and he was such a pleasant little person.

Being on vacation means no obligations and no stuff to do. So there was no rush and no concern that the baby was going to keep anyone from getting things done.

So...Magic Kingdom was magical in a lot of ways for the two older boys. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger saw them right after stroller rental and the GKTW button got us right up front for photos.

We did the PhilharMagic show once we got in. It was 3D, which was cool except that The Bear didn't want to keep the glasses on.

As I'm writing this, I have discovered that the hearing aids went through the wash. CRAP. Will let you know how that turns out.

We did the carousel and, The Bear's favorite, Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Lunch was unimpressive. We did Small World, which was the only ride we had to wait for. Next was Peter Pan, and we were pretty much cooked after that.

Daddy and The Boy returned to the park after resting and eating dinner. And of course, stopping for ice cream.The Bear and Ender and I, along with Grandma and Grandpa, stayed at the village for Pirates and Princesses. We also went swimming and played at the splash pad. The Bear needed a low-key evening, and needed Mom even more.

Rise and Shine

With 3 kids under age 5, you would not think I'd get to sleep past 6. And you'd be right.

There are two bedrooms here, plus a sofa bed, a fold-out bed, and a crib. We ruled out the crib for any regular use because, frankly, what would our baby do with it? Grandma and Grandpa actually took the room with two littler beds, because those beds looked the most comfy and they were not about to sleep on the sofabed. The sofabed was ruled out altogether, then, because we were not about to sleep on it, nor were we going to assign children to sleep on it.

The king-sized bed held our entire nuclear family with the exception of The Bear, who slept on the fold-out bed jammed in next to the king-size. Although he was scared to go to sleep initially, he was fine after some extra time in there with Daddy.

We would have sent The Boy to bed earlier, but again, it's his trip, so he gets to do what he wants.

So, everyone else is sleeping, and I'm out in the living room with a wakey baby.

Looking right at a very innocuous Christmas tree. Which my kids see, so far, as just decoration.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Traveling south: so sweet...

Finally, we are here at Give Kids The World resort in Kissimmee, FL. We have been looking forward to this trip for over 2 years...pretty much since that first relapse treatment hospital stay for The Boy. And in some of our darkest hours, we thought of making it through to this trip and this experience.

Some guidelines to which I'd like to adhere, if I possibly can:

Naps are a must.

While I know we have lots of things we can do, we don't have to do everything and the kids will not miss what they didn't know was there.

If the only solo time I get is a bath in the whirlpool tub, I'll still be pretty darned happy.

My parents are here to help us but we want them to have a wonderful time too.

The Boy is the guest of honor. Even though you wouldn't know it to look at him, he was the cancer patient. As such, he gets to do whatever he wants, within reason. But the same goes for The Bear. He wasn't sick, but his entire infancy was lousy as a result of The Boy's cancer treatment. So we are going to play it fast and loose. But with naps included in the schedule.

Tomorrow we get our tickets for the parks and have an orientation. As it turns out, we "only" get 5 days here. Today was a travel day, as will be Wednesday. So we will have to choose activities wisely.

I'm glad we waited to do this trip. The Boy is so much older and is really able to appreciate it. Complete with being able to read the literature that says "you're going to Disney World!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's here !!!

Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Disneyworld. It seems like so long ago that we said we'd go, right when The Boy started relapse treatment. When he was done and all better, we'd go and celebrate. 2 years and 2 kids later, it's time.

I'm glad we waited to go. The Boy and The Bear are both at great ages for it. We also have awesome cameras on our phones and can take pictures galore.

I will try to do a better job of documenting and journaling, because I know I will want to remember this.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wipe out

Nothing like a 101 degree fever to knock me on my behind and ruin my plans for today. Fortunately, the fever broke pretty quickly, but I'm still feeling ill. Ender has something going on too. Same congestion and cough. He has been sleeping poorly and only wants to sleep ON me. Next to me is not enough.

Snaps to my parents for taking care of the boys for me. Musical Daddy is at work doing his first-ever Saturday shift. It's once a month, and for now, it is six hours of pure overtime.

We are starting to get ready for our trip to Disney World. I'm not looking forward to the kids' first plane ride. They will be excited, but the novelty will wear off pretty quickly. Good thing we have non-stop flights.

I've been looking at some of the old photos from when The Boy was on treatment, to remind myself why we get to go on a Make a Wish trip. He is a different person now, yet still the same. He always had such enthusiasm and was always very affectionate. He is still bright and curious.

I'll never forget the time that we were in the hospital with his first chemo-related infection, and we were lying on the bed together, and he suddenly started saying "happy!" He was 20 months old and had plenty to say, but it seemed so odd that he would say that, being in bed, weaker than he should be, on strong antibiotics that upset his stomach, also working on his first C-Diff infection...and he was happy. He said it multiple times, too. It was so very sweet.

Anyhow, I'm hoping to feel better soon. Staying in bed instead of going out to play when it is still so nice out is a real drag.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Still NED!!!!

The Boy remains cancer-free!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

For art

News, from Channel 11

The Pittsburgh Public Schools has a remarkable program in a state-of-the-art facility. It is the performing arts 6-12 school. Since I attended, there have been many changes, some positive, some not, although there has been a comforting lack of faculty turnover. Why leave, when you get to work with, and for, the best?

As you see from the transcript above, I was on TV, and I said that removing the private instruction component from the program would be devastating.

The money is scarce. But the cuts being asked for are hardly going to save anyone anything.

When I spoke in front of the school board, I focused on the issue of wanting the best for other people's children. I want as many kids as possible to have as many opportunities as possible. Not just because it would be good for me professionally (as in, maybe I could actually GET a job), but I want people to be happier and better off from having had more education and having spent time in an environment where they matter, regardless of what happens at home. Happier people who have had enriching experiences can only be better for society, right?

This is a simplification, but allow me to indulge my inner hippie. If you have happy kids who go to school and are made to feel worthless, that will be what is unleashed on society when they graduate. If you provide opportunities for them to accomplish big things in school, they'll want to accomplish big things when they are finished.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to attend this school many years ago. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to perform this evening alongside students, teachers, and other alumni. I really hope that the wonderful programs are still available for my children.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

For good guests

This is going to sound really trite, but since the month is coming to an end, I have my deeper posts coming up tomorrow. And if I don't finish by the end of November...tough.

Today I am thankful that at our Thanksgiving table on Thursday, we had the right kind of guests. People who eat the food, like the food, and say so. And take leftovers. So that on Sunday night, pretty much all the Thanksgiving food is gone. Except for a nice pot of turkey soup.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

For breakfast, and for religious education

Double-post again. I can't imagine why I could be so distracted.

Last night I was watching a very funny movie with Musical Daddy, so there's my excuse. It's not a good one, but I really wanted to pay attention to the movie and laugh out loud with him instead of putzing around online at the same time.

Yesterday, Musical Daddy did have to go to work, but it was a late day for him. We got to go out for breakfast, and my father joined us.

Going out for breakfast has been one of our "things" for a long time. For parents who would like to teach their kids how to function at a restaurant, going for breakfast is a great start. Breakfast is usually served more quickly and in a less formal setting.

I remember going out to breakfast at Bagel Fragel in Ann Arbor; that's how far back our enjoyment of breakfast can be traced.

Anyhow, for yesterday and for the past several years, and years to come, I'm thankful for the tradition of breakfast out. I love to hear Little Bear say "Pancakes! Woo!"

Today, I was the "cantorial soloist" in the main service at our temple. Many Reform Jewish congregations do not have a single cantor (although the two congregations where I attended at various points in New Jersey both had cantors, with the second congregation being a place for student cantor placement) but instead have singers who do the job. And the weekend of Thanksgiving is one where the service isn't well attended and it might be challenging to find a person to sing. I'm not sure of their own religious backgrounds but I was able to do most of the service just from having grown up learning it. I got many compliments and was encouraged to participate again soon.

I am thankful for my Jewish education and for having had the opportunity to sing the service. I think of my husband's religious affiliation as musical-mercenary, meaning that he'll be whatever religion is currently paying him to sing. It was a pleasure to get to represent my own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We Give Thanks

 It's long overdue but I feel that I have to change Meatball's blog name to Little Bear, not only to correspond with Musical Daddy but because he is SO not a meatball anymore. He is tall and slender and very handsome. Ender is a little meatball but I'm going to keep calling him Ender, so as to avoid confusion.

Again I find myself doing two days' worth of "thankful" posts in one day. I definitely had last night's post in my head but, as per usual, collapsed before the text made it into cyberspace.

Last night's concept came to my head as I was beginning to make the Thanksgiving feast. I'm thankful that, because of our situation in staying with my parents, we are able to have a feast. At this point, were we on our own and paying rent or mortgage and other bills, we'd probably be able to do something for Thanksgiving since we do have income these days...but not like the spread we were planning for today. That's my parents providing the tools and me making it into a meal.

Saying it in a different way, I'm thankful for the plenty. I know that despite whatever happens, we are very privileged and very lucky, and the fact that my parents include us unconditionally is a blessing for the children and for us.

I do the bulk of the festive cooking around here. I do the bulk of the regular cooking around here, too, but events are really my thing. I love being able to cook for a full dining room.

Our menu included chicken soup with mom's matzoballs, homemade challah, cornbread, turkey, prime rib (that's my mom's favorite), mashed red potatoes, stuffing (made by mom), sweet potatoes (also made by mom), green beans and garlic (which were actually made by an awesome friend who came by to help), asparagus, and a token salad. Dessert was pumpkin pie (made using the pumpkin insides that were frozen from Halloween), cherry cobbler (with pie was supposed to be pie, but due to oven mismanagement it was baking while we ate and I don't like warm cherry pie but I like wasting pie crust even less), fruit kebabs (which our buddy made with The Boy helping), and fruit ice.

I took no pictures. I watched no football. I did catch some of a movie about Gilbert and Sullivan earlier in the day. I was BUSY.

I think this came up earlier in the month, this sense of being overwhelmed yet not feeling upset by it because I knew I had support from everyone else. I felt that way today--there was a LOT to be done, but I knew that I could finish what I needed and I knew that the other people in the house could do what they needed to do. At no point did I feel the need to yell, "You ungrateful SOB's sitting around on your cans while I slave away in this kitchen making a meal that you'll probably take 5 minutes to eat!" I can't promise that I won't say that 10 years from now, but I felt no need. The fact is, everyone was working. With three little children in the house, supervision is needed for them, and that's a job too. My father did a lot of dishes and chased children. My husband spent more time with children over the course of the evening and is now doing dishes. He is very diligent when it comes to cleaning up after meals--he won't leave dishes in the sink or on the table. They get done when they are supposed to get done.

There was no stress, no hurt feelings. At least from my perspective.

Our guests were wonderful. Aside from our awesome singing friend who came to help and unfortunately couldn't stay too long, we had a friend of The Boy from school along with her family, and a teacher and her husband. Little Bear made a point to tell me before bed that he likes both the friend and the teacher.

Thanksgiving is a funny time of the year for us. And ever since it became so, I've always reflected like this, both to catch up any new readers and just to put into words all that I'm feeling. For 3 years, I hosted it at our home in New Jersey, the last year of which we had The Boy and he was a baby. I was supposed to host it a fourth year, as Thanksgiving in my house was my thing, but that was the year of the diagnosis and treatment for The Boy, for those keeping track of the numbers. So that year, I made the meal, but we ate it in the hospital. And then we all got a virus, first The Boy, and then the rest of us, and the leftovers never got eaten.

The following year's Thanksgiving feast was prepared at my parents' house, now my home as well, by my sisters. That was two years ago, when my mother and I were in the middle of releasing The Boy from the hospital in New Jersey, along with Little Bear, and moving us from there to here. We drove all day. Musical Daddy was ahead of us, although he was supposed to have been behind us were it not for the surprise hospital admission. All of our things were already moved in thanks to Musical Daddy and some friends and helpers.

I love having this blog because I can go back and read exactly what was going through my head earlier on. This was the night before we left and I'm sure that I linked to this entry last year as well. The only thing that still stings a bit was my naive notion that I could take my career and move it elsewhere. It's been a VERY slow process even attempting to do that. I didn't know I'd have another baby when I wrote that. I did know I was having another baby last year at this time, but I wasn't sharing that information yet.

With all that said, I'm thankful for a wonderful feast, wonderful company, fantastic food, good health, three gorgeous children, and the second Thanksgiving in a row that didn't involve a hospital visit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For seeing beauty

Last night I was stuck in traffic. It takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to get from downtown back to our house on the east end. Today, it took 45 minutes. I happened to be there for a rehearsal; I don't usually drive downtown during the late afternoon because, well, that's a horrible idea. If I worked downtown, I'd take the bus. Probably the busway, because that's a really fast way to get to the east end, if I could find someone to pick me up at the busway stop. At least then I'd get to play games or listen to music (which I can do while driving) or just chill out.

I was driving along a road that is up the hill from the river, on the south end of the "main land" of the city, if that makes sense. Slowly. Rain was coming down at a medium tempo, but the early dusk exacerbated its effects on driving conditions. As I came around a curve, I saw the bridge that one normally takes to get to the older business and entertainment area of the South Side (as opposed to the newer area a few blocks away). There were brake lights as far as the eye could see, wending their way through the various parts of the view. Clearly, everyone was looking to travel in the same direction. The view of that bridge, the city lights--with some holiday lights already in place--and even the serpentine picture of brake lights was actually quite picturesque and beautiful. Were I not driving, I'd have taken a picture and framed it.

For yesterday I am thankful that, even though I was sitting in lousy rush hour traffic, I still had the appreciation for beauty, in an unexpected situation. I'm just now remembering a set of photographs taken of The Boy in the hospital in New Jersey. He was thin, bald of course, but in a not-too-bad state overall. He had a little color to his face and even a little pinch to his cheeks. The photos were taken by a volunteer from Chai Lifeline who came to visit him and play with him and occasionally give us a little break. She was an amateur photographer. The pictures, as I remember them, were one of him asleep, one of him just looking at something and smiling, and then one of him playing a set of finger cymbals with glee. People generally don't tell you that a sickly looking cancer patient is beautiful, but these pictures really were. Even more so than many of the ones that we had of him, even when he was doing a little better. She just captured him perfectly and used the equipment at her disposal for really fantastic results.

Having been around a lot of visual artists, the ability to see the artistic opportunity in situations is something that I picked up. My mother was actually an art history minor in college, which I didn't know until a few years ago, although it makes sense. Despite her lack of spatial relationships to the point where if they had an IEP for it, she'd have had one, she was really good at talking about art and talking about painting and drawing. And now she has a love for cute crafts. She taught me a lot about how to draw faces properly. And, of course, I think that my children are beautiful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For the calm, and for the freedom to speak

Missed another day. [EDIT: fell right asleep in the middle of writing last night, so I will finish Sunday and Monday this morning.] I was visited by an occupational therapy student who was learning about pediatric cancer. Might be a topic with which I have a bit of familiarity. I referred her to our blogs, of course, and I also tried to talk to her about how things went down with the cancer challenge, in the order in which events occurred.

Harder than expected when my mother was interrupting. I can't get upset, though. She was so involved in the process, and, important to yesterday's meeting, she had 2 of my children asleep on her lap.

I think that before The Boy has his next oncology follow up, I'm going to go through some of the photos of him going through treatment and let him know why he has to go. He has not yet begun to ask us too much about why he does all of this extra medical stuff. Ender goes plenty himself because that's the schedule for a newborn, so maybe The Boy still sees it as normal. Meatball pretty much never goes to the doctor at this point. Thank goodness, and may it stay that way. He goes for check ups. At age 2 and beyond, they go once a year.

Anyhow, I was able to talk to the interviewer and keep pretty cool. Later
on, after she had gone and I was alone upstairs for a bit, I realized that my body was carrying excessive tension.

I don't think that I repress my emotions in an unhealthy fashion; I'm just not such an emotionally demonstrative person. When interacting with my children and husband, there is an exception of course--they get hugs and kisses and are constantly told how I love them and how wonderful they are. However, I'm not usually the one to initiate the friend hugs. That said I'm glad to get them and am happy to reciprocate.

I am thankful for the constitution to soldier on for the well-being of my children. What a blessing that our biggest problems now are underemployment, out-of-control housework, and the occasional attitude problem. I need to show my kids that it's okay to feel emotions and react to them safely, but also that Mom is strong and reliable and can make them feel better by keeping the calm.

The school board public hearing happened last night. This is a forum where city residents can speak before the school board and superintendent. Speakers get 3 minutes. Press the mic button, start talking, and it shuts right off after 3 minutes.

I spoke in defense of my alma mater, a highly successful performing arts program within the city schools. My speech is posted as well. They wanted to do away with adjunct-taught private lessons for music and musical theater students, in the interest of saving money and filling classes. Private lessons are a pull-out, though, and students get them at this school as a part of the curriculum so that everyone is performing at a high enough level to be more than just high school performers. The school district receives a lot of recognition for this school and keeps a lot of families in-district who have the means to go elsewhere. One of the advantages of this big city school district is the ability for different schools to house different career programs and for students to choose based on interest and ability.

I am thankful for having had the opportunity to speak at this forum. I am pleased that there is such decorum and receptiveness. My mother spoke as well; she received thunderous applause for her ending quote: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

Also of note: the neighborhood school where my children will attend, should we stay right here in this neighborhood, had a LOT of representatives discussing their issues. I'm glad to see that the school has so many interested families.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

For helpful debate

My project over the next I-don't-know-how-long involves fighting city hall, so to speak. I don't want to get into it too much because it has to do with school and I'm certainly being careful to represent myself well as a parent in the interest of not shooting my career in the foot. I always enjoy sitting down to have real talks with my brother. Definitely not something that I can do while also devoting meaningful attention to my children. He and I don't necessarily see eye to eye when it comes to politics and policies, but now that we're adults, we can sit down and discuss things. Since I've been working on this school-related project, I started talking with him about the issues and it was nice to bounce ideas back and forth so that I can solidify my positions. I'm thankful for the maturity and intelligence to engage in civil debate with a longtime adversary--my big brother.

Friday, November 18, 2011

For things going right

Today was pleasant. Truly. Thanksgiving celebration, complete with Stone Soup, at preschool. Amazing building this afternoon by The Boy. Great company from Aunt J who came to help us out...just because.

We attended services this evening, my father, the boys, and I. They were wonderful. It feels great to be a part of a community where my kids are starting to know people and be recognized.

The Boy drew an awesome picture for Grandma and even wrote on it for her. His handwriting is fantastic! He is only 4.

So, I am thankful that today was an easy day, that I had very little about which to complain. Not that I make it a point to complain, but I often have a moment or two that I wish I could take back. I'm really proud of all of us today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

For sharing a meal

Today was mostly spent on various food preparations. A friend lost her mother yesterday, and she has family at her house. Naturally, we made them a meal.

We've done this before so many times--mobilize in order to help someone. I'm so thankful to have been taught to do this and so glad to be able to.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For big healthy babies

It's easy when you have a big baby. There is a lot less pressure.

Ender clocks in at 28 inches tall and weighs 17 pounds 1 ounce.

I'm thankful for his growth and health and for that of my other children as well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For my mommy

Today is my mother's birthday. She will tell you, repeatedly, how old she is (in the context of, "I'm 62 years old--you go upstairs and get it.") She has a wonderfully healthy attitude about being a mother and being a woman. It doesn't matter what our bodies look like, if they remain perfect, because we have each carried children, and we have them to love.

My mother and I lock horns from time to time. Sometimes it's just a matter of, we are here all the time, together and both focused on what's best for my little ones, yet I can't get past my own childhood mama drama, because who she is now is different from who she was then.

But that's her job! She's Grandma! The perpetual good cop. She does a great job of sticking with the rules and doing things the way that I prefer, but she's still Grandma.

How wonderful that because of our unfortunate career situation, my children know my parents so well that there is never an issue, never a concern.

Let's not forget, as well, the long hours and tireless efforts put in by my mother, and my father, back during the days of The Boy's cancer battle. We know very well that my mother can be given credit for the healthy state of my relationship with my husband--if she hadn't assumed so much responsibility for The Boy and really stepped up to become a member of the starting rotation, to use a baseball analogy, I don't know what would have happened. She became an additional comfort figure to The Boy, and having someone whom our children trust so much and love so much is an amazing thing.

She helps and supports us day in and day out. I try to repay her even a little bit by helping in the house and shopping and cooking meals, sometimes elaborate ones at her request. But she has taught me that if someone does something for you to help you out in troubled times, often you can't pay them back; you can only hope to pay it forward.

I am thankful for my mother. She is 62 today. May she continue to be healthy and happy and have a life full of joy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

For chaos, supported

I have 3 days, not just one, because I just missed this weekend.

On Friday, I left after dinner with Ender to travel to Michigan for the wedding of a longtime friend. Musical Daddy was under the weather and, given his respiratory issues, 5 hours in the car followed by a night or two in a dry hotel room wasn't going to work.

Saturday's "I am thankful " is easy. I'm thankful to have this friend in my life, thankful that he married a wonderful person, and also thankful for the opportunity to have a great time with other friends. Instead of spending the time dancing at the wedding ( even though they did the couple dance and the dance with their parents), they had us playing trivia.

And we would have won if some of my teammates hadn't thought to do math without being able to add, instead of just going hard or going home, risking all the points. Not the purpose though..
it was much more important to have sat at the table with friends and even to be able to pick on these guys for their mathematical ineptitude.

There was much Michigan football and marching band geekery. A good time was had by all,

Sunday morning was a true return to normalcy. Both Musical Daddy and my mother were feeling better. I went to work teaching religious school. The boys did a lot of playing. And the mountain of laundry threatened once again to overtake us.

When I got home, my youngest sister was there, and no one had eaten. And they wanted to. To steal a phrase from another friend, it was time for Macgyver lunch.

Then to the laundry. And, later, to a lesson. Musical Daddy asked how I was feeling, and I said I was a little overwhelmed but not feeling upset about it, because I have supportive people who, if I said switch kids with me so I can sing naptime songs to Meatball, or if I told Musical Daddy to change our sheets, or bring a basket up, it would get done without a fuss, particularly since when the job is "right now" that's when it happens, and if it's "not yet but before naptime" or "after the game is over" then that's when it gets done.

For Sunday, I am thankful that cooperation and a sense of being on the same side underscores our day-to-day life in this household.

Today was a big letdown, but I'm actually glad that I've been doing this exercise so that I am forced to look on the bright side.

I applied for a teaching job. I was recommended by multiple people in the district. I didn't make it past the first round.

They didn't tell me either-- I had to hear it from one of the teachers. Such is life. I've been subbing there and I guess I will continue to do so, since it's not those teachers' fault. In fact I think I remember what I said that caused them not to pick me.

But even so, I am thankful for the knowledge that things will work out. Eventually. Even if it feels like constant disappointment. Or maybe I should cut my losses and just be thankful to have had the teaching experiences that I did have, back in NJ. I was very fortunate, and if that never comes my way again, then (to use a cheesy coffee cup quote) I won't cry because it's over; I'll smile because it happened.

And besides--Ender has been doing a great job getting people work, but I'm sure he wants to keep me with him a little longer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

For 5:45

Right now I am thankful that the kids woke me at 5:45 and not 5 today. Poor Musical Daddy went to sleep down the hall because of his hacking cough, so I hope he stayed sleeping.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For cheap thrills

I got a present for The Boy today.


Orange ones.

His very favorite color is orange. The socks were 5 for $5. I got 3 for him and 2 blue for Meatball.

I am thankful that my children appreciate small things and appreciate thoughtfulness without getting caught up in materialism. Sure, they like fancier things and would not turn down a new toy, but what a thrill for The Boy--new orange socks.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For turnarounds

5 AM. Really.

This time change is really screwing with us. I don't care what the rest of you all say--I'll take Spring Forward any day when it comes to my kids. They might actually sleep in the extra hour, and yet still allow everyone enough to get ready for school and work, because it's still plenty early.

I lost my ever-loving mind, and my short little temper, with Meatball at a little after 5 AM. Musical Daddy was there to bail me out, as we usually do for one another, but I just felt miserable. And of course I couldn't go back to sleep, and of course The Boy was awake as well.

Asleep on my feet, I trudged downstairs for some breakfast. I felt so bad for Musical Daddy, who still has not recovered from whatever illness had been plaguing him, and yet I had to get mad at Meatball instead of just letting him sleep and taking care of things properly. Bless their hearts, neither Meatball nor Musical Daddy were upset with me. Both forgave me and had hugs and affection anyway.

I brought the bigger boys to school. I was told that my boys are lovely, and I didn't do the nasty thing that so many parents do, which is to deny it, or say something like "are you sure you're talking about the right kids, because they're monsters at home." When someone compliments my children, I am thrilled because I know that they're getting their grumpies out at home and not bringing their issues out in public. Well...not bringing them out except when I'm with them because fighting Mom is sport around here. Point being, I'm always thrilled to hear nice things about my children. Particularly when, thanks to them, I'm in a sleepy fog and not in a great mood. It helps turn things around when someone says something nice.

I guess that's what I was thankful for today--the clarity that I possess to be able to take a compliment, and the sense to be able to turn things around instead of letting an early morning wakeup ruin my whole day. I was also reminded of how lucky I was to have the support people that I have, in this family, but each of those people will get their own day and their own entry.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For good eats

Today I am thankful for my ability to nurse my baby. It's something that just about every mother should be able to do, but so much gets in the way, so more mothers believe that they can't. So basically, I'm just thankful for doing what is biologically appropriate.

I gave a nice handful of freezer milk to a mother for her baby today. Her situation is a unique one, and I'm glad to help.

Monday, November 7, 2011

For growth

When The Boy was on treatment, he grew very slowly. It seemed like he wore 18 month clothes forever!

When he was about 4 months, I thought he was big because he was starting to wear 9 month clothing. Well, Ender is nearly 4 months and is starting to OUTGROW 9 month clothing.

I am still thankful every time I need to switch out their clothing for the next size up, because it means they are growing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

For perspective

Today was an in-service day at Religious School. We were getting together with teachers from across our metro area (although it took place in our building this year) in a few different sessions.

Afterwards, we met with our own school's faculty and had discussions about what we learned. The topic turned to who had whom as a student and what type of student they were. Next to me was a teacher that I had had, and I mentioned that I was a horrible student, always in trouble, always getting in fights, despite my work being good.

This teacher was one that I never would have described as a "nice" teacher. She is a nice person particularly now that I'm an adult, but my feelings about her then and now were, she doesn't have to be the nicest--she actually taught us things and made us take the time to practice prayers and texts so that we would know them.

Anyhow, she said that I was a wonderful student. Despite all of the issues, and maybe she didn't see them, or maybe it wasn't as my 10 year old miserable self remembers it...

So today I am thankful that with age comes maturity, perspective, and closure.

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For lifelong passions

This was supposed to be yesterday's entry but I got home late from round 3 of barbershoppy goodness after midnight (EDT).

Musical Daddy had an excellent first show with his chorus. The Boy came with, and was a joy. What a lovely bunch of people in this chorus. It's a great fit both ways. I wish I could sing with them, but of course, it's orchestra night.

The men's chorus he sang with previously had a show today, and I was able to catch the afterglow and do my favorite thing after a show, which is to find 3 other friends and sing one. Or three.

I love my orchestra. It's a high level performing group. And I love to be around barbershop singing. I would love to sing in a quartet again...eventually. Unless I find 3 others with daytime availability.

I am thankful for the positive culture of musical ensembles. I look forward to being a lifelong musician, both professionally and for the fun of it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 4, 2011

For the drive, and the reward

Odd day today. Mildly sick kids, rather sick husband, and me off at work substituting. So instead of the two older boys going off to school as they usually do on Fridays, they were home with Grandma and Aunt J. All day.

Meanwhile, I taught band and orchestra to classes full of hard-working and cooperative students. As a substitute teacher. I know that I should be teaching again; hopefully I will be. I certainly had an easier day at work than anyone had at our house.

But what was interesting to me was the amount of patience and tolerance I felt through most of the rest of the evening. It helped to have continued assistance with the baby so that I could build a 2-story block house (with outside slide of course) with The Boy and explore duplo tower possibilities with Meatball. What fun we had! They even cleaned up!

I did the Shabbat blessings with the boys and had dinner with them. Following dinner, we went outside for a bit. Meatball wasn't having it--he was cold and is still not quite feeling well yet.

Play-Doh is another mom activity around here. We did that too. I try to avoid TV when possible, and save viewing time with me for when I need them to sit down. And who really "needs" little kids to sit down?

Anyhow, today I am thankful for the gratification and joy that is present both when I teach and and when I do the domestic thing. Even when either of those things presents seemingly insurmountable. I'm glad to even have the potential for a teaching job.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 3, 2011

For simple pleasures

Today I am thankful for my children's ability to amuse themselves with simple toys and pursuits. They are tech-savvy and love TV, but I get so excited at the sight of their eyes lighting up when I say "let's paint!" or when The Boy builds with his Trio blocks. If you haven't seen them, they are a great building set for kids starting at age 3, or age 2 if they have good dexterity, which Meatball seems to have.

He loves those blocks too, although his thing is to take all the single red blocks and stack them up, even though it means that The Boy doesn't have them.

Very off day today. We felt very directionless. The Boy had a fever, and still does, so he did not go to school. Meatball seemed okay but ended up having a fever as well. So, no school for either one tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am working tomorrow. Good thing we have Aunt J coming to help.

I'm not sure if it makes me an insensitive mother or if it makes my mother an exceptional grandmother, that I have no problem leaving my kids with her and Aunt J, even when sick. I guess since I left The Boy with Grandma while he was on treatment, and he just got so comfortable, it became that much easier. I absolutely follow their lead--if my kids like someone, they barely even say bye to me (making school drop off pretty easy, because they love it), although they are thrilled to see me.

The Boy should be in bed, but he can go ahead and stay up late, and then sleep in. Not like he is going anywhere tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For the ordinary fever

Today I am thankful that The Boy having a fever does NOT mean an automatic express hospital admission via the ER.

I have a feeling that we will be revisiting a lot of The Boy's medical history soon. He is starting to get curious about his scars. He may also be tapped into the fact that he visits the doctor more often than anyone else.

I have a feeling that many entries in this exercise will revolve around the recovery from The Boy's major illness. There is SO much for which we can be thankful.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 days

As an excuse to revive my rather neglected blog, I am going to post here every day in November, to discuss those things for which I am thankful.

I'm starting on November 1st by being thankful for this exercise, as I envision it being a great tool for maintaining a positive attitude.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One more: Meatball and the Polecats

YouTube Video

Duck and Goose

YouTube Video

New Toy Test

Finally drank the iPhone Kool-Aid. I love the Mac, love the iPod and iPad, and I'm excited to have all of this functionality in one device. Expensive, but it's our "Musical Daddy has a job" present.

Awesome camera.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Reynolds St,Pittsburgh,United States

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Way You Do The Things You Do

This title has been in my head for weeks; now I'm grabbing the opportunity to write the post.

I've been noticing, as I continue to ease my way into the new rhythm of having three small children and having my husband out of the house a LOT, that I accomplish tasks differently. I have to, or those tasks just won't happen. For example, today I put lunch on the table for us and my brother and some friends, having done no planning whatsoever before getting the meal ready. I now have three children, not two, and asking anyone other than my husband to ride herd on all of them for the amount of time it takes to put an elaborate meal on the table is just unreasonable. Since nothing that I was doing required me to stand in front of the stove or expose myself to any extreme temperatures, I was able to get almost everything done while carrying Ender in the Ergo (or, if I wanted to use the proper name for the device, the "soft-structured carrier"). That's about two hours of having 15 pounds of baby wrapped around me, and that's actually easy for me. I don't have to worry about where he is or what his concerns might be, because he sleeps contentedly for awhile when the time is right.

In summary, although the plural of "anecdote" is not "data," trying to get things done with one child vs three children is like vacation. Particularly when said child is attached physically.

It seems as though having three small children involves the designation of one as the trump card, the x factor, the straw that breaks the camel's back (or that stirs the drink, baseball fans). Much of the time, that designation goes not to Ender the baby but to Meatball the toddler.

And here we find the source of much of my angst and anxiety over these past few weeks. Meatball is SO 2 right now and in such desperate need of attention that is sometimes hard for me to give. When I am able to spend time with him just on his own, out of the presence of his brothers, he is a different little boy than the way that he is when in the company of others. Unfortunately, he doesn't get that "alone" time, although with the help of Grandma, I'm hoping to make some time on Thursday morning into Meatball time.

I feel better when I walk into his preschool classroom and see a bunch of other little boys who do the exact same things that he does. Not that I didn't know that it was normal but I'm still relieved that my child isn't the only one.

Even so, there are only so many times that I can get cracked on the head and screamed at by this little angry human to whom I have devoted SO much energy into protecting before it starts to get to me. Hitting him back won't help. I've screamed right back at him a few times and while that has elicited a distressed response from him, he doesn't have the capacity to understand that what I did to him is what he just did to me. He also doesn't have the ability to comprehend correction very well. As in, if I tell him to "stop" when he hits someone, next time he'll hit someone and then say stop, because he's adding that to the script.

Musical Daddy has a great amount of patience and possesses the power to change the script more easily. It's something that I've been working on a lot, been reading about, talking to other mothers, and just testing out. And it's my job to remember that I set the tone for our interactions. The children can try but since I'm the adult, it's my job to remember that I set the tone. The link goes to the Positive Parenting Challenge, which I've referenced a few times over here. While we don't do a lot of the things she does lifestyle-wise, we strive to approach our relationships with our children in the same way.

Meatball has an extensive vocabulary and the speech patterns of a somewhat older child. He has the bathroom skills even though right now he's in a regression pattern. I love to watch him play and think and create, but it's hard to remember that he's still in the earlier half of age 2 and I may be expecting too much of him due to the proximity of his skills to those of his older brother and the disparity (obviously) between him and Ender.

One of the things that really helps me see things in perspective is to observe the positive behaviors in The Boy that weren't there before or hadn't really cemented themselves before. The Boy listens and follows directions a lot of the time. He holds doors and is polite, saying "please" "thank you" "I'm sorry" and "excuse me" in proper context. He can be more easily persuaded to stay on task by explaining to him what steps come next and what is required of him before those steps can proceed. He is able to do "his jobs" around the house and at school.

I'm curious to re-read what I'd written during this trying time in The Boy's life. It happened a little later for him, due to his illness, but I'm sure that I had to change a lot of the things I did as a result of his age and his ability to remain focused without throwing gigantic screaming fits.

I'm glad that Meatball is so willing to allow me to cut his fingernails; we'd otherwise be in real trouble.

It will be interesting to see what happens as Ender gets older and more...outspoken.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life, Strength, and Help

My children have names in English and names in Hebrew. Each of them was named, both in English and in Hebrew, in memory of a departed relative. The older two were given the Hebrew names of my grandmother's older brothers--The Boy is Chayim Dovid and Meatball is Yehuda Aryeh. Ender's Hebrew name is Ezra Ovadiah, with Ovadiah being my great-grandfather's Hebrew name and Ezra being for my uncle Eddie even though his actual Hebrew name is Yehuda.

It should be noted that many Jewish people only have one name and it's a Hebrew or Yiddish one. Others have a name that can be translated easily but they go by the Hebrew version or a nickname derived from it. We're not Hebrew speakers (well, I am, but it's not my first language and no one else really speaks it so I'd be talking to the wall until I start teaching it to the kids beyond the letters that they already know) and we're not very religiously observant, so my children have secular American names.

Anyhow, I thought about my children's Hebrew names and their meanings and how much each child embodies his name. The Boy's Hebrew name Chayim means "life." Many Jewish people add the name "Chayim" (for a boy/man) or "Chaya" (for a girl/woman) to their Hebrew name if they get sick, and it is supposed to bring them extra healing. The Boy needed extra healing in his life but was already named Chayim. Everyone prayed for him; the name "Chayim Dovid ben Miriam" (Chayim Dovid the son of Miriam, which is my Hebrew name) was well-known in the community in New Jersey and in Pittsburgh as well, not to mention in Harrisburg and many other places. But more than The Boy getting his life back, he showed us exactly what was important in life, and what was not. His struggles, and our struggles, made us better people.

Meatball's first Hebrew name, "Yehuda," is the Hebrew version of Judah (or rather, that's the translation of "Yehuda"). His middle name is "Aryeh" which means "Lion." He happens to like lions, but I prefer to focus on the strength of the lion for Meatball. He's a strong kid, sure, but he gave us a lot of strength at a time when we really needed it, and having him gave us the strength to make many hard decisions.

As for Ender, we really hit a positive turning point during the time following his birth. His first Hebrew name, "Ezra," means "help." And his middle name, "Ovadiah" (pronounced o VAHD ya; in English it is "Obadiah"), means "work." Since his birth, my sister, her boyfriend, my husband, and hopefully I as well, have gotten jobs. I have a meeting tomorrow with someone about a part-time position that is very compatible with having children. Although we thought that adding a third child would make life more difficult, in fact, he has helped us without knowing it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

An odd form of negligence

My last post, while very thoughtful, was actually published after midnight on August 30th. I didn't realize that until just now when I looked at my blog entries, but rather than being published the day before, it was published on August 30th.

And that day just happened to be The Boy's 4th birthday. Although there was no bloggy celebration, the information showed up on Facebook and, of course, we had some cake.

This is, of course, a big deal. Every birthday for The Boy is a slightly bigger deal, because he had to fight harder just to see any birthdays at all. He was diagnosed with cancer before he'd even had a birthday, being 10 months at the time. He had disease progression, which is a relapse while on treatment, that was discovered when he was about 14 months old, and he fought those nasty port infections at 22 months old, not to mention the declining kidney function that caused all the blood pressure issues. We addressed those right before his 2nd birthday. Once we moved, we were greeted with the news that he had that lesion on his liver that looked suspicious. But then it was scar tissue, basically nothing. So that was a bit before age 2.5, and by age 3 he was off treatment.

So I guess this is the first birthday that we're a little further removed from cancer world. Only one ER visit this year for The Boy, and this one was a low-priority type of visit. No hospitalizations, no major health issues...just the hearing aids, and I remember saying that if our biggest concern is how this kid will handle hearing aids, then we're doing just fine.

This was the first week with Musical Daddy back at work. A few bumps in the road as we have been trying to settle in, and we'll still need some time to get used to things as preschool starts next week, but overall, we're fine. I'm just thrilled that he's got work. I'm looking forward to having a bit of time to get chores done and to exercise. And practice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some people are meant to be loved...

I wrote a post over two years ago about reacting to something that isn't inherently sad with more tears than necessary as it related to the Scrubs finale (by the way, I did like the extra half-season that followed and didn't really have much JD in it). The "something that isn't inherently sad" bit also came from the show, where someone had to prove that he really was a sensitive guy. He wasn't. I'm not either. I don't cry or get all misty-eyed unless something is REALLY that emotionally charged.

Anyhow, I realized that I was having another Scrubs moment when I remembered the line "some people are meant to be loved; others are meant to be hated." It's very out of context, the way I'm about to use it, but in less harsh terms, it does apply.

The original usage referred to a popular patient in the hospital, and the chief of medicine who is universally disliked. But, since the episode is told from his perspective, sort of a look into the softer side of this bad-guy boss, we see that sometimes people have to be bad guys and make unpopular decisions in order to keep things running smoothly. Rarely do they receive any sort of direct gratitude; they are fortunate to see the fruit of their labor and to know that without them, people would be lost and likely not know why.

I'm settling back into the role of #1 parent around here. Musical Daddy has begun his decidely un-musical job at a bank loan processing center, where he works normal business hours (for now; he'll have a few different hours after he is done with training). This means that I am the parent who has to enforce "the rules" and be the bad guy. I do my best to be gentle with them, to listen to them and respect them, because it's the best way to keep the peace. I remember that I set the tone, no matter what the children dish out. Unfortunately, I still get a lot of hostility. Particularly from Meatball, whose world was probably rocked more by Ender's arrival. So I get a lot of "go away!" from him, now that he knows how. And there is hitting. The Boy doesn't do it to me, but Meatball sure does.

I can't take it personally. He's 2. But it's a reminder that usually, Mom is the bad guy. Mom gets all the piss and vinegar when the kids are angry about things. Daddy works all day, and likely won't get any sort of personal satisfaction from his work. It's okay that he gets to be good guy with the kids.

Hey, I'm glad that he and Meatball are getting closer.

Still working on the new routine..,we'll see what it's like at the end of the week. School for the bigger boys next week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A preemptive strike

At this very moment, Ender is getting his tongue tie clipped. He certainly has no trouble gaining weight (13 pounds and 23.5 inches today) and he isn't causing me excruciating pain while nursing like Meatball did. Even so, he does have some subtle feeding issues, such as gulping and gasping--partly from oversupply over here--and a difficult time taking a bottle.

Side note--I am filling the freezer with milk, not so much for Ender because I pump before leaving, when I do leave him for any length of time. Hoping to give milk to other babies. for more info.

Anyhow, in addition to correcting his feeding issues, we hope to avoid any articulation issues.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Now that's not right

This evening, we went to one of our favorite playgrounds--the area of Frick Park known as the "blue slide park" to discover something very very wrong.

The blue slide, the big concrete one carved into the hill, was red.

Upon closer examination, I deduced that the red paint was an act of vandalism, because it was done so poorly. Sure enough, there was a message from someone official, saying that the slide was vandalized and would be made blue again once weather permits.

This park has been the blue slide park for as long as I can remember. Other thing about the park have changed, like the fact that instead of climbing a foam rubber hill to get to the top, there was a ladder for walking on one side and a climbing structure on the other side that went up and down like rolling hills. It was yellow. And probably not worth the effort.

We are enjoying the last days of summer together. Glad for all the spectacular family time. I've really made a point to plan exciting things for my boys, but I've also been glad to let The Boy in particular do things on his own with Daddy or Grandma, and not his brothers. He's the elder statesman, after all.

He will be four next week. Such a blessing. .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Baby Photos

He was 1 month at this photo shoot; this was last week.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

No more monkeys

Although it is considered bad form to say "I told you so" and the like when children hurt themselves, this particular case warranted an exception. Let me explain, lest you think me cruel.

We have a cute book with 8 monkeys jumping on the bed, and it has little plastic monkey faces in the book. With each page it counts down and one fewer monkey face is on the page as you see more monkeys who had fallen off the bed. Both kids love this story and can read it (The Boy can kinda read it; Meatball is reciting from memory).

Also, there is a game that they play, mostly with Daddy, that involves supervised jumping on beds or furniture.

As such, they hear the phrase "No more monkeys jumping on the bed" with some regularity. So, when The Boy took a header onto the floor as a result of bouncing his fool self around on his bed, I picked him up and hugged him and said, "What happened to the monkeys jumping on the bed?" to which he replied, "they fell off and bumped their head" which helped me to see that he was going to be fine and also clicked for him as the lesson to be learned. Not likely to stop him from bouncing around but he will be more careful. We hope.

In earlier injury news, Meatball tripped over a wire or something and hit his chin, splitting it open a bit. Mama called the doctor and asked him if stitches were needed. I told him that the cut looked like a piece of orzo. He said to do a butterfly bandage if possible but that it would heal okay on its own. He also said that 75% of the population has some sort of scar on their chins, so Meatball is likely to join the majority there,

The morning activity today was bowling. I didn't know how that would go with these boys. Grandma came with us for moral support (understatement...) and also didn't know how it would go. It's her kind of activity, being that it is indoors. Seeing as how the skies opened up a few times today, indoor activities were everyone's type. The boys were excellent! They loved the concept of bowling (with bumpers of course) and they enjoyed taking turns and watching me bowl. Meatball learned to refrain from chasing the ball down the lane. I'm not a good bowler, but I'm not a complete embarrassment and it was neat for them to see how a grownup does it. They thought it was cool that the screen told us who was to bowl next. They got a kick out of the ball coming back each time, and of course they liked the snacks.

The reason why we went bowling is because I signed us up for "kids bowl free" which gets kids under 18 to play 2 games any day all summer. You still need to rent the shoes unless you have your own. But it is all over the country; you just pick your facility. Not a bad idea because it generates some business in an otherwise slow season. This particular place had $2 specials for "kids bowl free", where you get a little drink and a snack (bit of pizza, fries, chicken, pretzel, hot dog...those sorts of things). We had also paid $25 for the adults in the house to get to play all summer. We didn't get our money's worth, except that when I signed up, I got $25 toward right away. We use those a lot, or at least my mother does.

It took about 90 minutes to bowl one game with The Boy, Meatball, and I playing. We used bumpers, of course, which made the scores interesting. For the first few frames, the kids were winning.

In the attitude department, today was a great day with The Boy and his interactions with me. I took great care to tell him what was going on, to listen to his input and give choices, and to respect his right to be busy. I took the same care with Meatball and didn't get the same pleasant results, but I think that the 2-year-old is going to act his age, so he just needs to see other people being kind and being positive. Also, it's better to have all of the children acting their ages instead of The Boy acting as though he is also 2.

Musical Daddy returns late tonight from his travels to take my aunt to Connecticut. He stayed in NJ with his dad and woke up to come back for a coaching session for his chorus. Long few days for him.

Aside from the head injuries, all is well over here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In Penelope Leach's book Your Baby And Child, she describes babies aged 1 months to 6 months as "settled." Before that, they're newborns, and things are just crazy.

Ender seems to be settling, just as she describes (now I think I want to read the book again...I have a much older edition that I got from a friend, whose daughter is 15 now). We still have to work to figure him out, as he is still so new. However, once they are a month old, their stomachs are a little bigger and they can hold more in there, and aren't eating ALL THE TIME. Thankfully, even when he is eating all the time, it's not such a big deal, because it doesn't hurt, the way it did when Meatball was this age. I'm still not quite ready for hands-free nursing with Ender, although that may be more that he needs to be able to hold his head up reliably in order for meals-to-go to happen.

My parents had a reasonable time on Tuesday night, when they watched all three children at the same time while Musical Daddy and I both had rehearsal. Ender's settling certainly helped matters, because it was just easier to manage the kids when Ender wasn't completely beside himself the whole time. When I returned home, I found Ender asleep on my father's lap and, thankfully, the older two children asleep in their own beds. My parents did a fine job.

Musical Daddy is loving the fact that Ender is a snuggler, at least so far. He likes to rock and be moved around, but once he's calm, he'll just rest. Stinker can fall asleep right in the middle of our bed but isn't completely sold on his own yet. Although he will stay in there for awhile when swaddled with this certain sailboat blanket.

The Boy had some trouble keeping his hands to himself when Daddy went to put on his shoes. Consequences were reasonable and logical and should have been given for things like this a long time ago. If The Boy hits when we're trying to get ready to go somewhere fun, he doesn't get to go. And he doesn't get to stay home playing games and watching TV, either. The problem with keeping him at home is that usually it punishes us too, because it screws with our plans. Keeping him home with Grandma somewhat helps the rest of us to enjoy our outing, but staying home with Grandma isn't really going to help him to learn from his actions.

From our side, we are going to do a better job of letting the kids know what's happening, and in what order, and giving them choices whenever it is appropriate. Often, The Boy will do better if he knows what is coming up.

Most of the time when there is a behavior issue with your children, take the time to examine what you, as the parent, can change in order to help the situation.

And, as such, I've been doing my best to maintain an energetic and positive tone with Meatball whenever I make a request of him. It's harder in some ways because he doesn't have the same verbal skills as The Boy, but he is also better at listening and taking action.

So...we're getting there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Give me direction...

And give me hope...

We are at a frustrating point with The Boy in particularly and to some extent with Meatball as well, where it seems like we're losing our patience and acting out in retaliation to them, in ways that don't really mesh with our actual parenting philosophy. What we actually believe is that positive modeling, logical and natural consequences, and respect for our children as people, while still being sure to enforce boundaries, will lead to children with healthier attitudes and better citizenship in the long run.

In my clear-headed moments, I know that my children--Meatball in particular because he has had a typical development without the medical involvements--act in an age-appropriate fashion and they do what other kids their age do.

Just now, I had a stand-off with Meatball about cleaning up a mess that he made. Considering that everyone in this house does a poor job of actually holding the kids accountable for cleaning up after themselves, it's no surprise that he refuses to help out despite clearly being responsible. I behaved horribly. I got him to clean up a little and then he wanted to play more. Naturally. I redirected him to the mess over and over, raising my voice more and more...and I ended up taking the toy away. I guess the problem was, if I wanted to take the toy away, I still had to clean it up, so I lose either way.

Someone please tell me that the gentle approach works...because I really want to throw every toy out the window in violent fashion and I'm that doesn't set the right example for the children.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Because it's not called, "The Whining Petulant Mommy"

My recent online silence can be at least partially explained by my not really being in a great frame of mind and not wanting to air my crankiness out over the interwebz because that's not exactly the purpose of this blog.

Ender has continued to be a great little baby, although he's got a bit of the power-puking tendency like The Boy had (you know, back when baby puke was actually a big problem). His thing is, he'll have a few times a day where he'll just want to nurse ALL.THE.TIME and once he gets every last bit of his fix, he'll be content for awhile. He will sleep, or he won't, at that point. Nighttime is for sleeping, and he gets that. He nurses probably 2 or 3 times at night, and all I usually have to do is switch sides once or twice.

The older boys are doing well although there have been some subtle issues creeping in with both of them. The Boy has gotten more bossy, both with us and with Meatball. Some of the things he says are taken directly from television, and taken in the wrong context. Example: there's a spot in Blue's Clues where Periwinkle (the cat) is upset that he isn't in the front of the line. The teacher tells him that it is someone else's turn and that he'll have a turn some other time. The Boy interprets that as, he has to yell at us not to go in front of him when we are going down the stairs. Um..huh? Meatball has experimented with biting over the past two days or so and I really hope that he gets over it, like, yesterday. He is perfectly capable of expressing himself verbally. We were at CostCo today and there were lots of yummy samples. I told Meatball that we bite food...and all different things we saw, I said "we bite peaches! we bite grapes!" and "we kiss people! we hug people!" At that age, The Boy never bit, at all. I know that some kids do it and some kids don't; I just want my kid not to do it.

But on the other side of things, I think it's been fun for the two of them to get to be "the big boys."

Still about the same in the potty department for Meatball. He is almost always willing to do #1, with no complaints. If he has a pee accident, it's rare, and it's at home, because he has forgotten and we didn't remind him. When we're out, he always wants to try out the potties. No success yet with #2. I don't get the feeling that he's scared to do it; he just doesn't quite understand how to hold it and then deposit it in the right place. Since he doesn't poo all the darned time the way that The Boy did at this stage, we're cleaning up about one accident a day, plus getting him out of a diaper in the morning, which still puts us firmly in the win column for him.

I've been struggling a lot with the older boys and their fighting. I wonder how much of it is specifically to get attention from us. I'm guessing most of it. Sometimes, I don't intervene because I want to let them work things out. Sometimes, I feel as though they might hurt each other...

By the way, have I mentioned that little babies (even big little ones, like Ender over here) smell yummy?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

So THIS is what it's supposed to be like...

The term "babymoon" can refer to a couple's vacation in which they TRY to have a baby or a trip taken while pregnant to enjoy some grown-up time before baby arrives. My favorite usage, though, is that period of time after a baby is born where the mother just gets to enjoy him.

I certainly didn't get that with Meatball. What a miserable experience, that time after his birth. The crap just kept raining down. I had a nice time after The Boy was born, but some of that time was spent being nervous, as a first-time parent, that I wasn't doing things right, and listening to too much advice about this and that...but so far, I'm enjoying so much of these early days with Ender.

I'm so grateful to my parents and husband for showering the boys and me with so much love and attention. It makes it easier on the older boys, and I feel like my needs are being met, so I don't overextend myself and can recover from having pushed a person out of my body less than a week ago.

I'm still tired, and I still ache a bit, and I am still doing too much, probably, but I like the fact that I feel well enough to start to return to normal. Getting there anyway.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Falling in line

A stroke of bad luck, and a stroke of good luck, occurred simultaneously yesterday and overnight. First, the bad luck--we had a power outage that lasted for about 11 hours. Everything just went the heck out around 4:30 and didn't come back until after 3 am. We know--we were up. That meant no TV, no internet, and no functioning telephone, either. We don't even get mobile phone reception here. My dad does, since he has a different carrier through work, but the rest of us have AT&T, which works in the house only because we have a MicroCell, which goes through internet, which...requires electricity.

The kids were tense. The older ones, anyway. Ender didn't necessarily notice. I was encouraged to go upstairs and rest, but I didn't want to be by myself in the relative darkness, despite the fact that the older boys were tense and driving us a little batty. My father, who usually has an abundance of patience, was done done done after The Boy refused to go upstairs for his bath. Granted, I think he was taking his cue from me; I yelled at The Boy when I had no business doing so. Yelling at the children pretty much only happens when I am unable to step in and actually do something to correct them, be it providing an alternative, directing them to go somewhere, or figure out what it is that they are doing that they don't want to leave, so that I can monitor and have them agree to get moving once they're done. I respect their "busy" as much as I can so that it's less of a problem when I have to interrupt them, and so that they (eventually) respect mine. But with the lack of electricity and the house getting gradually warmer without much of anything to combat that, and the tension building and building, I just wasn't that smart. Nor did I really have the energy to get up. Remember, I just pushed out a person a few days ago. I'm supposed to be resting.

Fortunately, bedtime was early for everyone. Including Ender. And that's where the good luck comes in. He nursed a lot in the evening, just over and over again, which is definitely a good thing, and I wrapped him up and put him in his little bed (a co-sleeper bassinet that isn't yet in cosleeper mode but is still right next to our bed) at 9:45. He slept until 2 am. Seriously. That's awesome for the first night home! Even if he doesn't do it again for months, I really needed it last night.

I had been bugged over the course of the night by The Boy, who was in our bed because he was petrified of sleeping in the dark in his room. Remember, no electricity? He sleeps with a light on in his room but has no problem sleeping with someone else in the dark. I think a study showed that kids sleeping with lights on is bad for their vision, but the genetic odds are stacked against him anyway, as I am horrendously nearsighted and Musical Daddy has a cataract on one eye and astigmatism in the other. Anyhow, once Ender was up and feeding, The Boy and Musical Daddy were up soon after. We actually had quite a bit of fun talking quietly. We heard the trucks. Musical Daddy went to check it out, and then he brought The Boy down to see, too. He gave The Boy a glow stick, which was fun for him. He saw a guy in a cherrypicker and saw big trucks. Made his night, I'm sure. Then the power came back on, and we all went back to sleep. Until almost 7 AM, when Meatball, who likes to stay out of this sort of thing, was up for the morning. Another stroke of luck--while Meatball sleeps all night 90% of the time, I certainly don't want to take it for granted.

Today was nice, too. And I'm glad to say that Ender seems amenable to naps in his bed as well as naps in laps and naps on shoulders. He's nursing quite well. Our cousin, who is our dentist and has been for years, stopped by to assess his tongue. He says it doesn't look like a problem, but since he usually sees tongue tie in the context of older kids who have issues and never got it fixed, instead of in the context of babies and feeding, he might not see what Ender has as an issue. Maybe it isn't--he's doing much better, and I'm being really careful with his position and alignment. And wearing shells...if you know what those are, you love them.

Ender is asleep in his little bed; Grandma has the other two downstairs. Thankfully, as they get older, it becomes easier to handle them. Most of the time. And Ender already shows signs of just being able to get in the groove with the rest of us here.

Musical Daddy said something about there being seven people living in this house. It's still so new to me that it sounded strange. But that's what we have here. And three of them are little boys.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I am now home and ready to face the reality of being a mama to three boys. All little. All cute. And all thanks and gratitude for my parents, my husband, and Aunt J, in no particular order.

We have a rhythm that we need to find. The first week, I'm supposed to pretty much stay home and rest and care for Ender, and ask for help with whatever I need. The second week I can start to get back to normal but I should still have some help. Again, thank goodness for these wonderful people, to help care for my other little boys. After these two weeks is when we have to really figure it all out.

Ender will probably spend a lot of time in the sling. Fine by me...I kinda like to keep my babies close to me.

His diapers fit, thankfully. They're still on the bigger side but they are so cute on him! Mostly BumGenius one size, on the smallest setting, with the little insert. He is a bigger newborn, and many people say that they don't fit newborns, but if you birth 1 month olds (figuratively speaking) as I tend to do, they fit fine.

What else...not much. He is asleep on my lap. Meatball is napping upstairs and The Boy is at physical therapy with Daddy. Grandma was sent to bed as well. We insisted that she take a nap. She takes such good care of the kids, and us, and she sometimes needs to be reminded to slow down! Don't we all.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Birth Story

I'm feeling surprisingly close to human. I've taken a shower and been much more easily mobile this morning. Ender (yes, I think I'm going to keep that name for him on the blog at least for now) was up more than he wasn't overnight, and I even had the nurse take him for a little bit of time so that I could guarantee at least a bit of sleep for myself. Right now I just need some here and there, and I need to be flexible with sleeping when he does, mostly. In the hospital, I have that advantage (and knowing that my other children are in wonderfully capable hands with Daddy and grandparents).

As I had been writing, I was in early recognizable labor since about 12pm on July 13th. I was thinking that perhaps things would get moving enough so that I'd have the baby late that night, but everything held steady. I took a nap first thing when I realized that I was having relatively regular, if mild, labor contractions.

We had a lovely birthday dinner and celebration for me. With cupcakes. The Boy is very into celebrations and parties and really seems to understand them. Meatball doesn't really get it but he got cupcakes.

The same sort of early labor contractions persisted, but I was able to sleep through them that night. We had a nice relatively easy, normal day on Thursday, and then it was technically Friday when we went to triage to see if I was really in labor. The whole thing felt a lot like Meatball's birth in terms of how it progressed.

The full moon might have had something to do with it, or not, but I felt a strong urge to sleep in the recliner at about 10 pm, and was feeling contractions a little bit more strongly, so I slept until I was awakened by the strange events of the guy with the car. I stayed downstairs and walked, and bounced on the ball, and, of course, played around on the computer. I went upstairs right before the time that Meatball woke up, and was lying in bed, which was okay, but not terrific. Once Musical Daddy returned from caring for Meatball, then The Boy woke up and wanted the potty, so I got out of bed and tended to him (frustrating, by the way--he doesn't stay dry at night but also still gets up and goes, or wants to go, so he needs help), and sent him back to bed. At this point we were both up and I was kind of feeling the need to hold Musical Daddy's hand, or shoulder, just for the reassuring touch. This was, maybe, 2:30 AM. We watched The Guild on Netflix (it's really funny, it's about a group of gamers who live near each other in real life and their interactions with each other in and out of the game...people who would likely not be otherwise affiliated).

After we watched the show, I said that I was going downstairs for a bit to see where I stood labor-wise (and to time contractions just for reporting purposes because I was pretty sure this was it), and that I'd be calling the doctor around 4 AM. And that Musical Daddy should get some sleep, since we hadn't been getting much. Frustratingly, the first time I called, I got no response, so I called again. I probably should have just called the doctor that I know but I didn't want to wake his family and the only number I have for him is his home number, or his wife's cell phone. At 4:45 I spoke with the doctor on call (not one that I knew or had ever seen). He was surprised that they had sent me home the first time, when he asked how much I had progressed when they saw me, and I said I was glad that they did, and I live close. He gave me the go-ahead to come in, so we did. I told my parents that we were leaving and what the status of the children was. We were in the car at 5 AM.

I wasn't sure how the car ride was going to go, since I had been walking through my contractions previously and of course I couldn't do that, but it wasn't a major issue. I got in the car after a contraction, had just the one in the car, and one when I got out.

By the time we got into the hospital, talked to the people at the desk, and got set up in the triage room, it was 5:25 when Musical Daddy "checked us in" on Facebook. I hadn't bothered to write anything online about us leaving for the hospital, figuring that I'd have a little bit of time to notify people. I had to pee in a cup (during which I heard the girl in the room next to mine screaming). I had maybe two more contractions while standing and walking around, because I did NOT want to get on that stretcher until someone was actually there. Then my water broke as I stood there, and the nurse said "Well, now you get to stay for sure!" and I got onto the bed. I had been nervous about how that would go, because I hadn't had that happen on its own with my other two labors.

The triage doctor came in at that point and checked me to find that I was completely dilated. I felt that I was pretty darned close to that, but I hadn't felt that until my water broke, and I was still a bit nervous about "transition" which I barely even experienced this time. As they were wheeling me from the triage room to L&D, I was feeling like I was about to have this baby and making some pushing motions, because that's what I felt like doing. I got into the room and did NOT want to be monitored, nor did I want to be on my back, nor was I particularly keen on moving, but it didn't particularly matter in either case. One push to finish out the contraction before I did move onto the real bed, then one push for his head, and one for the rest of him. He was born at 5:47.

Andrew Evan is his name. He was born at 8lbs 12oz and is TALL at 22.5 inches. He looks like his brothers, but he also looks like himself.

I'm already healing and recovering quite well. I think it's a nice design feature, at least in my case, that with subsequent children, the mother recovers more quickly. So that she has the energy to handle the other ones as well.