Monday, January 25, 2010

To Sam on your Third

Dear Sammy,

I spent part of this afternoon going through old photos to send to your teacher so she can make a little booklet of your life. I was only supposed to send three, but I ended up finding more than 15 I wanted to send because there were so many I wanted people to see.

Your big blue eyes, the dress you used to wear everywhere, your silver shoes, your short hair that used to be straight. You have gone through many phases in your three years on Earth and even the other day when I pulled out the home movies, I was shocked by how much you have changed. Because to me? You are still a baby. Even though you are a big girl who speaks in full sentences and reads and uses a real bathroom, you are still the little infant I brought home from the hospital, so wrinkled and warm and I am still the mommy who has not made any mistakes or told you no or even raised my voice.

Sadly, the latter is not true and sometimes I feel bad about how frustrated I get with you. You are a spirited, high energy child and I am sure the very qualities that sometimes make me and daddy nuts are the same ones that will make you successful and well-liked later in your life. You are a constant fireball, making us laugh and making us want to cry 90 percent of the the time.

I understand so many of the things you do because I remember doing them myself. You are my daughter through and through, but you are sensitive like your daddy and you love him more than anything in this world. When he looks at you, I can tell just how gaga he is. And don't tell him I told you this, but I saw the way he teared up the other day when you and I left on a girls' weekend at the lake house. Make no mistake little one, your daddy is your biggest fan.

You are a fire, a constant ball of energy. You want to play with things NOW and you fall into dramatic despair when things do not work exactly as you planned. You rush away from me in museums because you can't see the exhibits fast enough. Keeping up with you is a struggle and sometimes I wish you would slow down, not just because I can't keep up, but also because I want to see you soak things up, learning and processing. It just seems like you are done before I even see things sometimes.

I admire so many things about you. You potty trained yourself at 2.5, you get dressed on your own ("All myself!") You want to put your shoes on, zip your coat and walk places all by yourself. It was a struggle just to get you to learn to hold my hand in parking lots. Sometimes I wonder if you even need me at all, but then there are times like the other day, when you just run up and hug me, pressing your sweaty little head into my thighs. "I love you mommy."

Sometimes I think the reason you don't always need me is that you have a natural security and confidence. You are bold and curious, marching up to everyone with the same excited "Hi!" calling every person you meet, "my friend." But these past months you have also started having nightmares (and one night terror). You are newly scared of monsters and dragons and ghosts (even though you also kind of crave and love them. And although I want you to be unafraid and bold, I also like it a little when you need us, when you want us to hold you and when you want us to assure you everything is ok. After all, that is our job. We are your parents and I am glad you let us do at least that.

You are also so imaginative, playing by yourself for up to an hour, making up stories with your dolls (and sometimes your hands). You find new uses for everything, sometimes a little table with a pillow on it is "Sammy's couch." Other times an envelope becomes part of "tinkerbell's house." You are into fairies and butterflies and sometimes princesses and always animals. ou put us to shame with the way you put puzzles together as though they are nothing. YYou love your paper doll game and your go fishing game and all your books, from Fancy Nancy to Tinkerbell and "We Eat Dinner in the Bathtub."And everywhere you go, you cart a little sack of books with you. I love that you love reading. I love that you read to your brother while I make dinner (yes, I really love this) and I love that you are so busy in your own mind.

You amaze me Sammy. And I don't tell you enough because we are so busy in the day to day. I often can't believe that this bright, imaginative, funny, clever, articulate little girl is mine. It is nothing we did. You were just born this way. And we are lucky, lucky, lucky to call you our own.

There are amazing things in store for you. I am your mommy. And I am sure of it.




Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sam at 2 Years, 8 Months

Yesterday we wrapped up our sessions with the psychiatrist who was evaluating Sam and I must say, it was a massive, massive relief.

She taped our family "play" session and in it, she found so many things about my bright, playful, precocious child that I had quite simply missed. For instance, Sam is trying so hard to be a good girl, she is working so hard at it that she often has meltdowns, but there are clues leading up to when a meltdown is coming and ways of heading them off at the pass. Who knew?

When she is headed in that direction, Sam pauses and she tries to redirect her energy. She looks around the room and uses her "immense creativity" to find something else to play with, but the problem is that this particular skill is years (literally years) ahead of where she should be developmentally. Her precocity is deceiving or, according to Dr. Blank, "She is really two children, the baby 2-year-old she should be and the astounding six-year-old she is capable of being."

In watching the tapes, I became very emotional because I think that in all of my worrying about Sam (and wondering if she would be a serial killer), I missed what a sweet little girl she really is. I think I missed how HARD she is working just to be a good girl and please us and how much of her still needs to be treated like a baby even as she tells me "Mommy! I a big girl, I can do it all myself."

The therapist said that we are to view Sam like a racehorse. That she is a little girl who is amazingly self-motivated, precocious and yes, very, very gifted. We should encourage her self-motivation and her interests in reading and making up stories and singing and math, but that we should also help her slow down. She is going to push herself so hard in life that we need to be the ones to reign her in and help her have a strong, loving base.

The danger with Sam is not that she will not succeed, but that she will push herself too hard. Even more, she is very sensitive, so my yelling and anger has the opposite reaction with her. "She needs a light touch," Dr. Blank explained.

In all seriousness, I found the whole thing to be enlightening. I think I had been relating to her so much that I forgot she also is half her father. He can't STAND to be yelled at and is super sensitive (to a fault, in my opinion). Turns out she is like me, but she is also like him. She also told us that when Alan is her age (poor little baby boy) we will realize just how very advanced Sam is (implying that Alan will be some drooling goon, I suppose. Ha!)

She said that all of the classes I have been taking with Sam are not only ok, that they are good for her. That part of the reason she is so advanced is that she has had so much and such varied stimulation at a young age. This was a relief for me because I had started to worry that I was pushing her too hard. The main takeaway message is that for all of her independence and precocity and intelligence, Sam is really only 2-years-old. "She needs to be babied and rocked and loved," said Dr. Blank.

She said that based on her decades of experience that Sam will grow into the kind of child who will want to (and probably can) "go into Harvard at 15." But that our job as parents is to remind her of her youth, to encourage her to slow down and to go to her in moments where it seems like she is acting too old for her age and to encourage her to be our baby just a little longer.

Honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. So much of what I already thought about Sam was confirmed, but I have also learned so many new things and have so many parenting strategies to take away. I LOVE this doctor. If anyone in the Boston area would like her name (she is really well-known nationally and considered one of the top in the country), please email me privately.

In other news, it has been a good month for Sam. Her transition to school has been easy with very few road bumps. She seems happier with this schedule and she has become increasingly loving and adorable with her brother.

On Sunday, the whole fam will be out watching me run my marathon. I am very nervous since Alan is sick and I might be headed that way. But it is what it is.

I have also been hard at work on the ensemble Halloween costumes we will all be sporting on Oct. 31 and am quit looking forward to trick-or-treating. Sam is going to LOVE it this year.

Happy October!



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gratitude

I hate when people use other people's tragedies as opportunities to count their own blessings, but I heard a couple stories last night that made me do just that. So I woke up with this radical new notion that maybe I should try to find more than just joy in my life, but also gratitude. Serious, serious gratitude. There is so much to be thankful for, including:

1.) My husband. Always. So, so lucky to have this man.
2.) My healthy pregnancies and healthy, energetic, happy children
3.) Children who nap and nap often
4.) My health and ability to run 26.2 miles no matter how fast it is
5.) Life
6.) I have few close friends, but the ones I have are world-class, truly amazing people
7.) A second chance with an old friend
8.) Enough money to be comfortable and a condo that I really do like even if it is a bit cramped
9.) Living in a city that is full of vibrant, interesting people who like to get out and do thing all the time. A city full of culture and all this while also being just a bike/short car trip ride away from the ocean, great beaches, apple orchards and skiing.
10.) Fall in New England.
11.) So much time with my babies while they are young

There is more, lots more. But this is a start. This is not to brag or to jinx myself (please not that), but is instead to remind myself that, even on the days where the little things are making me nuts, in the big picture it is a pretty fantastic life and I am happier than I sometimes think.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hardest Job in the World?

This piece on Babble is generating a lot of debate among my mother friends (and the occasional father and non-father, too).

The piece essentially says that motherhood, though difficult and exhausting and emotionally explosive at times, is NOT the hardest job in the world. It goes on to say that jobs like corn husking and working at Chuck E. Cheese (!!) are, in fact, more difficult and that all we moms need to calm the hell down. At least that is what I thought on my first reading.

On my second reading, I had a different takeaway. I think what she was/is saying is that motherhood IS difficult and taxing and exhausting, but that WE make it incredibly hard on ourselves and we need to let ourselves off the hook a little.

At first I was so angry that someone (a mother of five no less) had the nerve to suggest that motherhood was anything but the "hardest job in the world." And even though I loathe platitudes like I loathe Winnie the Pooh, Disney and Precious Moments, I also do derive comfort from the idea that when Sam is making me want to drown myself in a puddle out back, there are thousands of other moms feeling the same way. I did not (and still do not) need to read an essay from some super happy housewife who walks around feeling creatively fulfilled, intellectually stimulated and happy hanging out with squaking munchkins.

This was NOT that article. Let me be very clear about that since some people have misread it. The piece is NOT about that. In fact, it is it is the opposite: a call to moms to stop the madness and stop killing ourselves to make sure our children are properly stimulated, full of organic foods/breastmilk and happy at all times. That is where the misery comes in. And on this point, I agree with the author immensely.

Because I have been crazy in many ways with my kids. In addition to the constant guilt, I am always worried that Sam is not getting enough stimulation. On the odd chance we spend a day at home, I feel horribly guilty. I derive little joy from motherhood at times because I am always worried about what is next or whether Sam had enough intellectual stimulation that day. I try very hard to balance the play--the trips to the park, the long walks, the Children's/science museum/aquarium--with the intellectual--the helping her with her reading, art class, spanish class, ballet/gymnastics. It can be exhausting, though, that constant worry that I did not do enough, feed her brain enough, let her blow off steam enough. It is the conatant worry that DOES make motherhood so stressful.

So since reading the article (um, on Monday) I have tried to chill the eff out. To take it all a little less seriously (although, not that much less seriously, after all, what is more serious than motherhood?) I find people who can't laugh, who have little sense of humor and are wound WAY too tight to be tedious and annoying, so I was surprised to realize that in the realm of motherhood, I may have become like that.

I am trying to derive more pleasure from my kids and trying to look at it less as a job and more as a relationship, one that occasionally makes me laugh, cry and scream in frustration. By looking at motherhood as a "job," we do take some of the joy out of it and I find myself anxious for R to get home and relieve me. But motherhood is something totally different, an ongoing process, a 24/7 experience. It is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life (meanwhile the author says her summer spent husking corn was more difficult).

She has taken issue with some of the comments in the comments section of her piece, insisting that she never once said motherhood was a cakewalk. And she didn't. She says repeatedly in the piece that motherhood is trying, indeed. But if husking corn is "harder" then I guess I would ask: what is your definition of hard? Because motherhood IS full of backbreaking labor. There are days where I have to scrub Alan's bum three times, dump Sam's old potty 10 more and also clean up after every meal (and try to stress when they don't eat). I am a maid, a referee, a babysitter, a dog walker, a laundress AND a writer (and runner) every single day. How on earth is corn husking or working at Chuck E. Cheese harder than that? No I have never worked in the rice paddies under the hot sun, but being a mom is not easy.

I say, if you think motherhood is easy, then you are doing something wrong. It is FAR from easy. But it does have moments of joy and fun (at times) and sometimes when I look at it like my day job, I forget that.

So, do I agree with the article? Yes and no. Mostly no. I actually think the writer has a dangerous lack of clarity in the piece that leaves it open to interpretation and misreading. I am not sure that even she knew fully what she wanted to say (and as a writer for Babble, I do sympathize). But I do appreciate the perspective it has given me and the insight that maybe I am "working" too damn hard at this. Maybe I should try to enjoy it a little more.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ani at 13 Months

So my little monkey is the dreaded 13 months. And what a strange month it has been.

We started the month with the beginning of Early Intervention on the recommendation of our pediatrician. Because Alan was not yet pulling up to standing, she wanted to be on the safe side.

They came in, evaluated him in a million different ways and found that he is developmentally on track or advanced in every way... except gross motor skills. Even though we pretty much already knew this, it was a relief to hear. We set some goals for his development, booked the first appointment... and then he started pulling up. And getting to sitting from his back and tummy. Then he started cruising and then he even started taking some tentative steps. We have no idea if he heard us talking or decided just to develop at his own pace, but here he is, in much better shape than he was a month ago and I am left with that old familiar feeling: all children develop at their own pace.

Whenever people tell us that Sam is "gifted" or "exceptionally verbal" or any of the other compliments she often gets, I tend to take it with a grain of salt. Kids develop the way they develop and while it's true that Sam has the verbal/literacy skills of children almost twice her age, it really does not mean other kids won't catch up eventually (which is why it is super irritating when people get competitive about these things). The same is true of Alan. He might be a little behind physically, but I am not worried that means he is any less intelligent than any of his peers. There is no prize for reading at 3 and there is no prize for walking at 7 months. It all comes when it comes. So there.

I will say though that I am relieved. There were a couple weeks there where we were concerned, but the the physical therapist has pointed out that Alan is just a victim of the "Back To Sleep Campaign" combined with a vicious older sister who scared him off the ground and parents who carry him almost everywhere. "He is a perfect storm," she told us. Perfect, indeed.

Of course now, after all that stress, he has become a major pain in the ass. He no longer wants to sleep, after all, he has cruising to do! He no longer wants to be in the Ergo, after all, there are things to explore! Suddenly Ani is a toddler without the toddle, replete with all the demands and frustrations of the age.

He is a hard to please little guy, not unlike his sister in that way. But he is still a cuddle bug and yes, we are still nursing. Quite a bit. He will wean when he weans. I don't mind nursing him through this flu season anyway.

He loves animal crackers and blueberries and strawberries and bananas. He is a picky eater, although not nearly as bad as his sister (I am pretty sure anorexics eat more than her). He is obsessed with pretzel sticks and gatorade and the way to keep him happy in the car is to feed him about 2,000 pretzels or "feed the beast," as we say.

He has gone from saying simple one words to small phrases--"what's that?" (which he says all the time); "I want this," etc. He also says mama, dada, bye, hello, Rocky, more, no (which he says almost constantly) and a few others. He is fond of pointing his finger and shouting at you to "goooooooo!" Can someone please tell me how to live under TWO dictators?

He is a boy through and through, liking all the typical boy things like trucks and balls and rocket ships (not that Sam does not like those things as well). He has also gotten much more into the park and will rarely stay in my arms, now preferring to try to climb and explore on his own.

The kid is all right. I think we'll keep him. I wonder if he gets sick of my constant kisses and squeezes, but I can't help it. He is just that loveable and I want to squeeze every last bit of the baby out of him before it is gone never to return.

Some photos:




Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sam at 2 years, 7 months

Since I am late in writing this, some of these changes are going to me more like "Sam at 2 years, 7.5 months" but I can't pretend like I am not behind... So that's that.

The big news this month is... drum roll, please... we are fully potty trained. We were for a couple weeks and then she had a major setback weekend when we went up to the lake house, but since we have returned (knock wood), she has not had a single accident and it is all undies all the time now. I am very proud of her and happy to be leaving diapers behind. She is even keeping her nighttime pull-ups dry, so I suspect in a week or so, we can kick them to the curb as well. I can't even express how nice it is to only have one in diapers.

In other news, today was Sammy's first day of preschool, although it was not a drop-off day, but rather a parent participation day. I was very, very happy with the facility and the international vibe. There are gay parents and twins and diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Sam's teacher is Peruvian and seems very, very sweet and loving. Sam rolled into school, her sunglasses on in her boutique dress, acting like the coolest kid on the block. I was super proud, of course.

Sam's behavior this month has been a mixed bag. She is at once a polite and caring little lady, always worried about others and their needs, constantly asking if people are ok and offering to share, and a HOLY TERROR, screaming as loud as she can until she gets her way and generally causing a ruckus.

Her independence is unprecedented. Truly. Even today at school, almost every single parent and teacher remarked that she was "the most independent child" they had ever seen. Believe me, we hear it all the time. Everything is "all myself." She goes to the bathroom--no help allowed. She gets a treat--no help allowed. She buckles into her carseat, stroller, anything--no help. She puts on her shoes. You get the idea. And yes, I realize that every kid goes through this phase, but with Sam it is an extreme. We go nowhere and do nothing until she has satisfied her "all myself" urges.

She is still SUCH a daddy's girl, which is hard this month because, um, R's new job is crazy. Much longer hours, less time to devote to the kids. He no longer comes to doctor's appointments and even missed her first day of school. We are all still adjusting to the new regime, Sam especially. Sometimes in the middle of the day she will burst into tears.

"Why are you crying?" I ask.

"I just miss my daddy so much."

Ugh. Heartbreaking. For all of us.

On a lighter note, Sam is continuing her daredevil ways by always wanting to climb the highest and jump the most. She is almost always fired up and ready to have fun and I love her excitement this month. "OH MY GOSH!" she screams when something makes her happy. "You are my FAVORITE _____(fill in the blank)" she tells anything she likes. She has also become super social this month, making friends everywhere she goes. My child has zero shyness and marches right up to kids at the park, their parents, homeless people and their dogs. It is so cute and I love it and most of the time she makes friends, but it also sets her up for a bit of rejection and I have found myself getting a bit territorial lately when it comes to her and how people treat her. A 4-year-old who is mean to her? Well she could be shy. It's true. But she also earns my wrath. I can't help it. Mamma Bear is out in full force.

Sam has also taken to, um, swearing this month. Little Miss Potty Mouth stomps her little feet and says "Goddamit" when she is mad and called a fellow driver a "F'in B!#!" while we were in the car. Um, I have no idea where she gets this. I am mixed on how to handle it. Right now we ignore it, but we may need to try to curb it at some point. We'll see. I am not really that anti-cursing, but I do hope she understands the concept of time and place.

Each month I say that Sam is exhausting and each day she becomes even more so. She is a dynamo, always fired up about something, so, SO passionate, opinionated, bossy and funny as hell. If the "terrible twos" are a first adolescence then I have seen a bit of what we are in for with the real deal and I am scared. Excited and scared.

Some photos:





Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Prodigal Blogger Returneth

I have been remiss in blogging, tis true. I have no real reason except that between my Fit Pregnancy Blog and my marathon training, blogging has fallen by the wayside. But I am seeking to remedy that.

I need updates for both Sam and Alan who have made major strides over the past month. Stay tuned. Then I hope to return to blogging with some regularity.

She's back!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ani-Bear Is One

Dear Ani,

I think it has been really hitting me this past week that you are really going to turn one. Even though I have begged and pleaded and cajoled, you will not be deterred. And it is breaking my heart.

Oh, I know we have so much more fun in store and I can't wait to watch you grow and become a little boy and do all of the things you want to do and run and jump and play with your sister, but these past 12 months have passed so quickly and they have been such a blur. I wanted you to arrive so badly and now that you have, you are moving too fast.

I never knew how much I wanted a boy, never knew how little your gender would matter, really. I know that sounds insane, but I had this set of expectations and your birth (along with your sister's) has shattered them. I am so grateful to you for that. You are such a little man and yet such a unique person with your own unique interests.

We call you Ani because your sister can't say Alan and Ani-Bear because we dressed you like a bear all winter, but the name suits you so well. You are cuddly warm and always smell intoxicating. Such an Ani-Bear. My Ani-Near. Our Ani-Bear.

This past month I have been so delighted to watch your personality emerge and, like your sister before you, it is a strong one. You want what you want, which is very often me. You want to throw balls and chase them. You like to read (although cannot sit still for long), scoot all over the house on your bum leaving a trail of squeaks and sometimes flattened grass behind you. You love sandboxes and the beach and like to dig with your fingers and get messy. You growl (frequently), which is comical when you are in the Ergo and you laugh often as well.

You are aggressive and single minded and I have no doubt that soon enough you will be a force all your own in our clan of "forces."

But for now, you are my baby, my tiny infant and I can't believe you have made it to this milestone. It has been a crazy year, my baby son. We had a lot of trouble adjusting to our new family of four. It is not easy and I sometimes feel like your babyhood got lost in the shuffle. But I know that's not true. It has not been easy. But you are something so special and you round out our family in such an important way. I can't believe that I ever questioned how it would work. It just does.

Today I made cupcakes and a bunch of your friends will come to celebrate you (and I am hoping the rain hods off). But I celebrate you every day and feel so lucky that you are in my life.

Keep up the good baby work and you might convince us to go for it again my delicious little muffin boy.

Happy birthday. We all adore you.


Mommy



Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ani-Bear Is One

Dear Ani,

I think it has been really hitting me this past week that you are really going to turn one. Even though I have begged and pleaded and cajoled, you will not be deterred. And it is breaking my heart.

Oh, I know we have so much more fun in store and I can't wait to watch you grow and become a little boy and do all of the things you want to do and run and jump and play with your sister, but these past 12 months have passed so quickly and they have been such a blur. I wanted you to arrive so badly and now that you have, you are moving too fast.

I never knew how much I wanted a boy, never knew how little your gender would matter, really. I know that sounds insane, but I had this set of expectations and your birth (along with your sister's) has shattered them. I am so grateful to you for that. You are such a little man and yet such a unique person with your own unique interests.

We call you Ani because your sister can't say Alan and Ani-Bear because we dressed you like a bear all winter, but the name suits you so well. You are cuddly warm and always smell intoxicating. Such an Ani-Bear. My Ani-Near. Our Ani-Bear.

This past month I have been so delighted to watch your personality emerge and, like your sister before you, it is a strong one. You want what you want, which is very often me. You want to throw balls and chase them. You like to read (although cannot sit still for long), scoot all over the house on your bum leaving a trail of squeaks and sometimes flattened grass behind you. You love sandboxes and the beach and like to dig with your fingers and get messy. You growl (frequently), which is comical when you are in the Ergo and you laugh often as well.

You are aggressive and single minded and I have no doubt that soon enough you will be a force all your own in our clan of "forces."

But for now, you are my baby, my tiny infant and I can't believe you have made it to this milestone. It has been a crazy year, my baby son. We had a lot of trouble adjusting to our new family of four. It is not easy and I sometimes feel like your babyhood got lost in the shuffle. But I know that's not true. It has not been easy. But you are something so special and you round out our family in such an important way. I can't believe that I ever questioned how it would work. It just does.

Today I made cupcakes and a bunch of your friends will come to celebrate you (and I am hoping the rain hods off). But I celebrate you every day and feel so lucky that you are in my life.

Keep up the good baby work and you might convince us to go for it again my delicious little muffin boy.

Happy birthday. We all adore you.


Mommy



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sam at 2.5

More and more it seems Sam is a little girl. The baby is disappearing so quickly, I hardly remember her. In her place we have a fun, albeit exhausting preschooler who is loud, boisterous, energetic and totally adorable.

Or, as R says, "I really feel like we are actual parents now, not just people with a cute baby."

For the first time we are encountering sleep problems with Sam. As I have said many times, she slept from 8-8 starting at about six weeks. Since then I could have counted on one hand the number of times we were up in the night with her. No longer. We put her to bed now and she is up and needs to be walked back about five or six times. She asks for her "DW book" and "another kiss" and "water" and "Daddy" and anything she can think of to avoid being put back to bed. Once she finally does fall asleep, she usually ends up in our bed around 3 a.m. at least three days a week. I don't really mind, I guess. It is so cute to wake up with her between us, but I do not like the fact that it is a very rare night now where we are not woken up by at least one of our children.

Potty training has been majorly, majorly derailed. I take the blame for this, really. R and I were too lazy to want to deal with accidents in public, so we kept putting her in diapers. Now it seems she has lost interest in potty training. I am not feeling too rushed about it, but it would be nice to have her completely out of diapers.

Sam has always been a voracious reader, but this month it has become kind of crazy. She has a little wagon she fills with books as well as two Lulu Lemon sacks. She insists on carrying at least one book with her everywhere we go. Favorites include, "To Market, To Market"; "Pony Books" (these My Little Pony books that came with a meal at one of our favorite places at the lake); "Brown Bear, Brown Bear"; "Dr. Seuss ABCs" and many, many more. She has most of them memorized word for word and can also read some of the smaller words. I am so happy she loves to read so much, but I worry that the reason is that, since birth (and this is no exaggeration) both R and I have spent/d at least two hours a day reading to her. With Alan? Not so much. I worry he will not be the reader she is.

Her behavior towards her brother is so much better to our immense relief. We are still following through on shrinkage because, really, she would not be my daughter without a professional analyst. My family loves us some shrink time. But also, I think it would be good for us to really learn what kind of kid Sam is so that we can best serve her. Honestly, she is such a dynamo and such a force and so damn smart, I just want to make sure that she gets the best possible encouragement and support.

Generally though she and Alan have started to play together and enjoy one another. In the car they make eachother laugh and talk back and forth. They conspire a bit to do things and she seems to enjoy helping her brother get toys he can't reach, go to bed and get out of his crib. I am sure when he walks we will go through another rough patch, but for now, this is a welcome change.

She loves, loves LOVES big kids. At the sitter's, her "fevorite friend" is a four-year-old named Molly who she talks about all the time ("Molly has a pretty necklace, but I don't want to break it"; " I so excited to see Molly!") Yesterday at the park, she met a big boy and just followed him all around, playing Firemen. If the big kids are climbing high, she wants to climb, too, but she is also starting to learn her limits. The big boy offered to let her use his bike and she said no. "I need my helmet," she explained. I wanted to kiss her.

Depending on her mood (and she is so moody like her mama), she can be so fun and sweet and solicitous or so dark, stormy and angry. I love both sides of her, but obviously find it preferable when she is in an easy mood.

She is really learning Spanish and at home says quite a few words, but in class she clams up. She also is really enjoying her art class, but seems to me more into the tactile activities--playdough, goop, jello painting--than the more paint-oriented ones. She does love to use her feet to paint, though.

Love this kid even though she exhausts me beyond belief. She is really something.

Some photos:






Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I am not typically a birthday person. I am not a huge fan of getting older and am generally disappointed in whatever the days brings. But I have to say, the last three birthdays (since turning 30) have become progressively better. But this weekend really takes the (cup) cake.

Saturday started kind of rainy and gray, but we had Sam's pre-school open house to see the new digs. It was great and we were very pleased, especially Sam who emerged wearing a painting of a butterfly on her face and feeling very excited about the school year to come.

After a short run for me (five miles) and a nap for the kids, we headed out to Revere Beach for the sandcastle competition. The beach is seven miles from our house, maybe a 30-minute bike ride, a distance I could easily run and yet we had never been to this particular one mostly because as an urban beach accessible by subway, its reputation has always been less than stellar. I was surprised to find it was actually pretty nice and was reminded why we pay so much to live in a city that offers the ocean, mountains and interesting city all in such close proximity.

We had a blast (especially Sam).

The next morning (b-day day) I woke up to a gift from the cat (a dead mouse) and a sunshine strewn 70 degrees (and climbing). So sweet. Since the kids get us up so early, we managed to make our way over to a new brunch place with a beautiful outdoor patio under hundreds of grape vines. And because it was so early, we got to enjoy our pumpkin pancakes, eggs, coffee, bacon, waffles and such in relative privacy. Then we headed over to a new (to us) park, since we were on the other side of the city. Not only did we have the whole place to ourselves, we also got to use the giant flower sprinklers that spray the equipment without worrying about soaking other kids.

At home for Ani's nap, R and Sam went to the park closest to our house while I watched Little Children. When Ani woke up, we headed out to meet them and fly our new kite. Then it was naptime so we went home, the kids went down and the doorbell rang.

24 CUPCAKES


To say these were "good" is not to do them justice. They were divine. I ate about 10 and then strapped on my new Garmin 305 (one of my birthday gifts from Rob) and ran a full 10 miles.

Soon after, we all went out to dinner where we met my parents, sister and a couple good friends. Total loot included a substantial Lulu Lemon GC, a book, jewelry and my training watch. But really, that was secondary to such a fabulous day full of good food, a city I love, spectacular weather and the people I care most about.

If all days go like this, 32 is going to be the best year ever.





Thursday, July 16, 2009

Counting Our Blessings

In the comment section of my latest essay on Babble.com, there seems to be a little argument about "counting our blessings." That, somehow, by speaking honestly about the difficulty of raising my two kids, I have discounted all the positives in my life.

I haven't.

I very much appreciate the ability to stay home with my children, to watch them grow. They are the best things in my life (along with their dad) and I am thankful everyday for their existence. I adore our family and feel so lucky to be able to do work I enjoy while simultaneously raising my kids. All that said, I am not writing Chicken Soup for the Soul, people. I am not so blissed out (or medicated) that I do not recognize that there are good days and bad ones. And most of all, who would read an essay about all the good thing about parenthood? Really?

(After all, I have counted my blessings before and been called a snob)

Because from firsthand experience I can tell you how quickly I tire of the blogs that seem to endlessly brag about children. I get nauseous when parents want only to show off how cute their kids are and say nothing about the truths and difficulty in raising them. I write my essays and stories and blog posts because they are the truth. I hope they speak to other mothers who are also interested in the truth. I refuse to be an upbeat, positive, chipper person all the time because you know what? I am not. I am a realist.

I see the world as beautifully gray, not black and white. I do not have a bible or a collection of Precious Moment dolls that dictate my behavior. I decide on a case-by-case basis how to react to situations. And, despite what you may read here, I am an extremely happy person, perpetually on a quest for "more" maybe, but also really pleased with the way my life has turned out so far. But I am not chipper. I am not going to regurgitate something from a motivational poster so I can effect a "happy" life. My happiness comes from truthfulness, from acknowledging how hard things are and sometimes lifting the rock to reveal the not-so-pretty things beneath it.

So, yes, my children are blessings. They are creatures of G-d and uniquely fabulous little people I adore with every ounce of my being. And yes, I am damn lucky to spend so much time with them and be married to a man I can't get enough of. I am lucky to have work that intellectually stimulates me and allows me to pay for my kids school (which apparently makes me a snob according to some bitter people), but I am not going to apologize for telling my truth. And judging from the number of positive comments, I am not alone. Some people do appreciate honesty over false chipper-ness.

Because you know what? It is the most chipper, perpetually cheerful people who keep the dirtiness of life well-hidden who actually suffer the most. G-d forbid they appear less-than-Hallmark-y, who knows what might happen?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Offending (Again)

A few points of clarity with yesterday's post:

1.) I am in NO WAY advocating for private school over public. I am not sure why anyone would read this into the post b/c I did not even mention it, but to be simple and clear: I am not.

2.) I am merely stating my experience, one I will readily admit is not the norm and I was very lucky to have (and one I would like, if possible, to offer to my children). It does not mean I think everyone should have it or I am somehow better than anyone else b/c I had it.

3.) If my kids chose not to go to college, I would be tentatively accepting if they had a "plan."

4.) I think the way the university system in this country is set up is atrocious. It allows the wealthiest few the opportunity to attend the private schools while others cannot. It isn't fair. It needs to change.

Sometimes I am aware that what I write is offensive and I do so to be provocative. I think the best discussions come when people are honest and when they are willing to challenge the way they were raised to think. I am willing to do that and a lot of what the discussion yesterday (both here, on facebook and in offline discussions) did that for me. But I have to say, I am surprised by what a sensitive topic this is. I had no idea how many different things this topic would bring up (public versus private being a huge shock because I did not even mention it).

The reality is that if I tried to be sensitive to all different points of view, I would end up too paralyzed with fear to write. So sometimes I say things that are not well thought out or come out wrong. And sometimes people bring their own insecurities and preconceived notions to the table. I can't help that. But I can help clarify my points and make them as honest and real as possible. So, here it is.

I am glad for the opportunity to have a discussion and am attempting to keep an open mind to other viewpoints.

On that note, check out my new essay on Babble.

Monday, July 13, 2009

To Pay or Not to Pay

A very interesting piece came out today on Babble.

Essentially, the author (who has five children) says that she will not pay for her childrens' education largely because she knows she will not be able to afford it, but also because she believes in some kind of bootstrap mentality where children appreciate it more if they earn it.

After reading the piece I have a lot of thoughts. Probably the first is gratitude. Because honestly, it never even occurred to me that there WAS another option beyond paying for my kids' education. So just the opportunity to consider this has opened my eyes quite a bit. for instance, my friend A said that her parents made her and her brother pay for the first year and then they covered the rest. Seems like that offers the best of both worlds.

R paid for his own school (almost) entirely. I will not speak for him, but let's just say that his philosophy is that he wants his children to have what he did not. He wants to pay for their education entirely. It has been hard for him to start life with so much debt.

My parents paid for my school and then they paid for grad school. During the time, I will absolutely admit I was not grateful at all. All of my friends were in the same boat, so the idea that I would thank my dad for all the hours he logged that paid my 160k*** "little Ivy" education was preposterous. It is only now, a decade later, that I am grateful for what his generosity afforded me: a debt free start to my life, the room to explore my interests and find my niche without the burden of debt and yes, a massive sense of entitlement.

I could not be honest without admitting that I was and have been spoiled by my upbringing. It is good for me to open my eyes to other thoughts and listen. This is one of the reasons R and I are so good for eachother. He challenges my expectations.

All that said, I expect my kids to go to college. And then grad school. I expect them to be lawyers/doctors/PhD academics/successful writers, etc. I don't even think I realized how pushy/upper middle class my expectations were until today. The idea that they would do anything other than college/gradschool seemed insane. I can't say that I have been awakened and now hope they will learn a trade and skip college, but I am considering some of my expectations of a toddler and a baby and wondering if they are too pushy.

Could I have created the life I have and love--the job, the family--by bootstrapping it? Maybe. R certainly did. But where I have an idealistic, "our kids can major in whatever strikes their fancy b/c they will go to grad school anyway" philosophy, he is much more, "what can they do to maximize their earning potential?"

Two schools of thought, both equally valid.

I have no answers today. I will say I want kids who are grateful and know what they have, not spoiled like I was. But I also want children who feel they can do anything they want, attend Ivy League schools and not have the pressure of finances holding back their dreams and ambitions. In the end, I am not sure what to think, but I am grateful for the opportunity to ponder it. So, thanks Babble and Meagan Francis.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ani at 11 Months

Ani-bear is now one month from his first birthday, a fact that will make me sob if I allow it to sit too long, so I am trying to avoid that reality and instead focus on how amazing he is right now.

Ani is the most luscious, sweetest, cuddliest little love-bug in the history of procreation. I am 100 percent positive about this. My baby has thick, soft thighs I can't stop squeezing, cheeks as pinchable as they are delicious and a head of hair that always smells of "lemons and spiced tea" (at least according to Auntie K).

This month he has started scooting and in the three weeks he has been on the move, has become quite adept at getting from point A to point B. He is also working on pulling up and can get himself into a kneeling position and will probably be standing very soon. when I pull him up, he can stand on his own (while gripping something) for quite some time.

Increased mobility has changed his personalty a bit. He used to only want to cuddle, now he wants to be on the floor most of the time (a fact that has given me a new and even higher appreciation for the work of our cleaning ladies). This presents a huge problem: his evil sister. Having grown accustomed to her cute, albeit boring brother who sat like a pile of steaming poop in the middle of our living room, Miss Sammy is not taking too kindly to his sudden interest in--and ability to reach--her many toys. She has taken to daily (actually, hourly) murder attempts. And no, I am not exaggerating. If they are left alone, my little hell cat of a daughter will wrap her tiny hands around her brother's neck and squeeze as hard as she can. Obviously, I would not dream of leaving the ROOM. But I can't even make breakfast on one side while he is sitting on the other, lest he be pushed, shoved or potentially strangled. Yesterday, I had to rush him to the ER after a very confusing stint in the gym daycare (a post for another day) where he ended up sporting two gooseeggs, some bruising and bleeding on the back of his head.

No more. We are hiring a pro. Starting next week we have a psychiatrist we are paying beacoup bucks coming in to help us. The shrink is less for her and more for us to strategize and figure out how to encourage good behavior and eliminate (or greatly reduce) bad all while helping her maintain her unique loveliness. This is not the job for hacks like us. We need a pro.

Ani is becoming much feistier. He no longer allows toys to be snatched without major protest. He will fight if challenged and can communicate pretty clearly what he wants through pointing, gesturing and the few words he knows.

Since motion is taking the front seat, verbal seems to be moving to the back. He has started saying "thank you" and "dog" and "ball" among some other new words, but mostly he is focused on movement. He continues to enjoy nursing far more than his sister did at this age. I will continue to nurse him for at least a little while.

We'll see how all this progresses and also we now begin our countdown to the first birthday. I can't believe it has been a year.

Some photos:


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weight, Marathon and Me, Me, Me

Because my life was not complicated enough, I have decided to add weight loss to my list of goals over the next few months.

Let me preempt this by saying I know I am not fat. I wear a size four and my BMI is well within the "normal" range. I lost all the baby weight both times, but here is the thing: I am not where I want to be.

I had my full physical last Friday and I have put on five mysterious pounds. Now, granted I was in full period mode and also had not pumped my (very full) breasts for about seven hours, but just the same, I was horrified. Adding this to my already growing suspicion that my mid-section will never be as taut as it once was and the fact that lately a size six has felt a whole lot more comfortable than my fours and I was in search of a weight loss plan.

I started Weight Watchers last night. Immediately, I saw that I am way off in terms of what I have been eating. I want to lose about 15 pounds and even with all of the activity I do, I am still on track to keep gaining--slowly, but surely. It will be hard, no doubt. I am not a dieter. Not even close. I have always worked out so much that my weight (except in college) has been relatively stable. But I am 31 now and things are not the way I want them. And while I am not ruling out a tummy tuck (and boob job) in the future, I am starting here.

In other news, I spent about 2 weeks in training for the marathon, ran 10 miles in 1:15 (roughly a 7:10 pace) and then promptly injured myself. I am a bloody mess. On the left side, my knee aches, on the right, my calf/achilles burns. And of course, because I am me, I could not just rest. So I stepped it up while skipping running. I biked more, I spun, I took kickboxing and weight classes. And now my back hurts, too. I am not sure what all of this means for the marathon. I am a bit torn (literally). Is it smart to begin such an intense training program when I do not have the time to stretch after runs?

Within seconds of my return from my longer runs, R is tossing the kids into my arms. I need to nurse or to feed someone or Sam needs to peepee potty. Additionally, there is no single more important component to a training program than sleep--something I am not getting much of these days. Six hours, tops. I need about nine.

The amount of work this marathon will take might not be worth it at this point in my life. On the other hand, I am starting a new training blog for Fit Pregnancy and have pitched the story to other major mags and had a positive response. So... Stay tuned. I really want to do it, but I also do not want to kill myself to get there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sam at 2 Years, 5 Months

This month I feel a bit like we are back to the early days of Sam and Alan when she tried to kill him daily and I felt like my every minute was spent telling her no and trying to keep him safe from certain death. Perhaps it is because he is suddenly crawling all over the house (getting faster every hour) and taking her toys, but whatever the reason, we are having a very hard time with her right now.

I think she needs some Mommy alone time, to be honest. She seems to be struggling a bit with being a big girl. She is about 95% potty trained, but still has enough accidents that I would rather her be in a diaper on most outings. Sam is not a big fan of this idea.

I can't understand people who complain about "two kids in diapers" because honestly, it was easier when we had two kids in diapers. One in diapers and one who can't completely hold it all in when she has to go is much, much worse.

She has memorized all of her favorite books and can "read" them--a great parlor trick that impresses most people (even though it is just rote memorization). She has also started sight reading a bit, too. She can spell and then sound out basic words on the page when she does not know them. She is not always right, but it is damn impressive nonetheless. She gets the concept of reading down and actually can sound out some words. Blowing my mind, this one is.

On the other hand, my little (nearly) potty trained reader is still not off the bottle. It is my dirty little secret. Much like little Suri Cruise, Sam still takes two bottles of milk a day. The thing is, she is perfectly capable of drinking from a cup or a sippy cup and takes all other forms of liquid that way, but somehow milk and bottle became permanently linked in her mind and provide such an enormous amount of comfort, that I feel too guilty to completely take it away. This month we tried to cold turkey her and the result was a lot of acting out and murder attempts aimed at Alan.


Perhaps even more distressing than her addiction to the sauce is Sam's behavior. She is so much like me, it actually frightens a bit. In fact, I am learning much about my own parents and my own thought process through watching her. This shite is genetic, yo.

Sam hits, she screams, she punches, she gets frustrated beyond all reason. She is 20 times as intense as any kids I know her age. All moms say this, but they have not seen my daughter. Believe me, I am not bragging when I say that my kid could blow any other kid out of the water with her "intensity." There is no negotiation. There is no distraction. When she gets her mind set on something, she remembers for hours, days, months. She is a trying, trying child. I take comfort in the idea that these qualities will serve her well someday. As someone who is no stranger to being strong-willed, I know it is a good thing for a girl to be. When she is older.

Since Sam is just like me, I can see we have a lot to figure out. Let's just say I have never been a well-behaved little lady. Now, yes, "well-behaved women seldom make history" according to the ubiquitous bumper sticker (and, I believe Mae West), but they also rarely leave their parents with any hair (or, in my case any hair that is not gray). I happen to like my hair brown and get a little sick of visiting my stylist every three weeks. Something has to be done. We have to get her in line without crushing her dynamic soul. A tall order, indeed.

Maybe it is better to just put up with the stuff my parents did--constant cursing, shoplifting, no rules EVER, no curfew, etc--than crush her spirit. I have an enormous amount of confidence because of the autonomy I was given at a young age. Until very recently, I thought it was because my parents were hippies and wanted free-range kids. But now I think they just saw very early that I was independent and firey and most things were not worth the thrashing, foaming at the mouth insanity that would ensue should they try to enforce any rules. I feel like all I do is say no, punish her and scream. It needs to stop.

On the other hand... having a rabid beast for a daughter (not far from the truth) is both embarrassing and impractical. What is a hippy, "don't tame the wild soul" leaning mama to do? Stay tuned, people.

Here is the rabid beast in all her untamed glory:





Monday, June 22, 2009

Other Moms

Since the co-op incident, I have had a lot of time to consider what it was that went so horribly awry and in that time I have come to the following conclusion: I really do not like a lot of fellow mothers.

I have never been the type of person who has groups of friends. Even in high school, I was an ala carte type of girl, choosing people from different social groups based on how I felt about them individually. I have been told many times in my life by many women that I am "intimidating." I assume that means extremely self-assured, honest and blunt. All of which I am.

My friends have always been a mix of cool, fun, honest, funny and (perhaps most importantly) not too sensitive. This is important because I have a dirty sense of humor and like the dark side of life. It doesn't mean they have to be equally obscene, but I cannot be close friends with people who are too squeamish and can't hang when the talk gets dirty. I have learned this lesson many times the hard way. Perhaps this is another hindrance.

When I had children, I vowed to myself that I would not change my fundamental self. I still curse. I still (mostly) listen to my own music. I still workout constantly, get manis/pedis/massage, shop for myself, read books, have plenty of sex, watch horror movies and even party if the occasion arises. I am still me. I would say that 90 percent of the mothers I meet were either never my kind of fun or they have completely squelched that part of themselves. Case in point: I mentioned smoking in high school the other day to a few moms and they all stared at me as though I had told them I'd been to prison and had the tats to prove it.

This is not to say I am some kind of example of how people should be when they become mothers. Quite the contrary. I think I, in fact, am the opposite of what many women think they need to be in order to be good mothers. I love my children fiercely, passionately and above all else, but I also need conversations about politics, celebrity gossip and the news to keep me happy and sane. This is why recently it seems my only friends are the ones who do not have children. Like wedding planning (which I also find cloying), child rearing can often be a conversation usurper. I can't tell you how bored I get of discussing potty training and whose child learned to jump first.

Maybe that is it, too. I love my babies, but I know they are not perfect. Far from it. Sam (especially) is ridiculously precocious and intelligent, but she is also a storm in the body of a toddler. She gets into trouble constantly, can't handle big crowds, throws huge fits and generally is not the most well-behaved little lady. I recognize this. I cannot tell you the number of women who do not recognize their own child's foibles (case in point: co-op mom). It is very hard to have playdates with moms who think their children are always in the right.

Mostly I am ok with not having too many mom friends. I have one who happens to live in Upstate NY and more who live in other states. And there are a few women I have met (or knew before) in Boston who I think are so cool and I would love to hang out with more, but life always gets in the way. Actually, that is probably the biggest hindrance of all. Time. There is no time to get close with people. I'd like to think that is because I just have not met the moms I want to get close with, but I am not sure. Maybe the days of long lunches with the girlfriends and "just hanging" have passed me by despite my best efforts. Having two kids under three does tend to limit one's free time.

I have always believed that it is a waste of time to hang out with someone I do not really jive with. But I am in need of mommy friends. I have decided this summer especially to really start focusing on "the making of the mom friendships." Maybe it is a mythic quest, but I would like to believe that I can still have close female friendships with women who have also had babies. After all, a girl can't spend ALL her time in the gym. Although, some of the coolest moms I know I met while running or in mommy yoga.....

At least it is a starting point. But if you are a mom and I ask you to coffee or out for a drink, please say yes. I am kind of new to this whole mommy dating thing and I don't care much for rejection. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ani and Preschool News

As my little bear grows from cub to grizzly, I am awash in a familiar feeling: sadness.

He is 10.5 months, finally getting mobile, drinking from a sippy cup and always trying to be on the floor. Last night, these facts almost incited a panic attack. He is my baby. And he is growing so fast.

This morning I saw a photo of a newborn and burst into tears. I can't believe my baby has gotten so big, so fast.

I know a lot of moms say they feel this as they close in on a year and I remember feeling a mild degree of it when Sam did, but I when Sam was this age I was two months pregnant with Ani. Now? I know he might be my last (although to ask R, we are due three more babies). If you'd asked me last week if I wanted two more kids, I would have laughed. Now? Maybe I do. Gotta keep those babies coming so I can always have one.

Seriously people, I am down. When I sent the kids to the sitter today, R had to forcibly remove Alan from my arms. I miss his little sweet face already and he has only been gone an hour. I am questioning my work and my desire to do it because all I want is to cuddle with my baby before he becomes too big to do so.

Ok, now that I have thoroughly depressed myself, I will move on to other news.

I need to start blogging more, it's true. So much is new over here. Sam was accepted at a bilingual preschool recently. It is more than I wanted to spend. But in the end, we decided to bite the bullet. This is for a lot of reasons.

1.) The bilingual education--At Sam's age, her language retention ability is astounding. This is really the time to expose both kids to this kind of experience. To that end, we are doing sing a longs and story time and playdates, all in Spanish. I am amazed how quickly she is learning.

2.) The program--the place is well-run, professional and jives with my philosophy. The kids get yoga every afternoon, they share friendship fruit (a fruit salad made of various fruits the children bring from home), they play, craft and alternate between drama and dance in the afternoons.

3.) Sam herself--Sam is a precocious kid who I think will benefit from a program like this more than the other schools we toured. The money is hard to part with (and will be even harder once Alan starts, too), but we have been paying $1200 a month for two days of baby sitting anyway. Besides, it is well worth it.

I have also made a big decision in my own life. I am training for my first marathon. I have been a runner for more than six years, run countless 5ks, 10ks, seven-milers and more. I am semi fast for someone who is recreational (ie, never ran in college) and can do about 12 miles without batting an eyelash. I love running--pushing myself to the outer limit of what I am capable of and then going beyond it--as much as I love my family in my many ways. So, it is time to step it up and put my money where my mouth is.

Oct. 4 I will be running the Peak Performance Maine Marathon. Since I am a bit of a running snob, I am clearly going to have to step it up a notch. For me, it is not enough to simply complete the course, I have to do it in a time that makes me proud. I am aiming for under four hours, but what I really want is to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time (under 3:40). I know I can do it. That means maintaining an 8-minute pace the whole time, which is pretty much what I run anyway. But to do so means a combination of speed training, distance training and hill training. It is a lot of work.

Of course, I know myself well enough to know I will do it. I am not a sedentary person. What I am more worried about is that I will injure myself pushing too hard. I have recently started biking again and as always, do yoga and lifting. I am also going to add some spinning to the mix.

Finally I have waited long enough. Boston 2010. Here I come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ani 10 Months

This month Mama has discovered that baby boys are indeed, SO MUCH fun to dress.

Why?

Because of this and this and this and this

It used to be that I thought Ani was a bargain since I cared not what he wore. But now? He may be the pricier one given the biker jackets, flame pants, band onesies and smartass sloagans he can wear. It is so exciting, I can hardly stand it.

In other news, Ani can now say 6, yes SIX words. At 10 months. These words include, dog, Zaydee, Mama, Dada, hi and bye. He is quite the verbal genius, which is a good thing because he is not a physical genius. Like at all. Like to the point where his father said the other day, "maybe he will be a computer programmer because he sure won't be an athlete."

I kid, I kid. I am well aware that kids develop differently and that his physical milestones at 10 months indicate nothing about his future prowess. Still, we are worried. It is that bad.

The boy does not roll (though he can). He does not crawl (or make any attempt to do so). He does not pull up. He does not walk.

I joke, but in truth I am slightly concerned. I know I have said in the past that I am not worrying about milestones, but I feel slightly guilty that he loathes tummy time so much he has done it about five times in his short life. I worry we hold him too much or drag him to too many things for his sister while he stays in the Ergo. I am worried. Period.

The pediatrician says he is just exceptionally verbal and will catch up with the rest, but I am his mommy and I can't help but be concerned that something is wrong with him.

He is a good sleeper for the most part, still wedded to his two naps a day (like clock work at 8:30 and 1). He sleeps through the night mostly, but wakes between 5 and 5:30, which is truly hideous. I have always been an early riser, but 6:30/7. That was early to me. I cannot believe how much of a difference that one hour makes. Luckily, R is almost always willing to get up with him while I grab my last hour of sleep. But the early morning runs/writing hours I had with Sam? Gone like the wind.

He is a sweet, sweet boy. So sweet I never want to put him down. I love when people smile at him and he gives a shy grin and buries his little head in my shoulder. I love his two little teeth at the bottom and his gigantour, Sputnik head. He and his sister go back and forth between holding hands in the backseat of the car, tickling eachother/playing and trying to beat the shite of out one another (with his sister almost always winning. For now.) I guess that is the nature of the sibling relationship, but I wish I could leave them alone together in order to do things like, you know, PEE.

In other Ani-Bear news, he waves hi and bye, claps his hands and laughs almost constantly. He is, like his sister, a slow nurser now, always distracted. I am probably going to wean him around 1, though, so this only works to my advantage. There are some other developments that I do not want to share in a public forum, but do need to remember for the baby book and future mocking, so I will only allude to them here in order to remind myself at a later date.

Sam is starting a Spanish class today to prepare for her new bilingual preschool in the fall (more on this later). The class is for ages 6 months-4 years, so Ani will probably also learn. Perhaps he will be fluent both in English and in Espanol before he learns to crawl.

This kid is muy fabuloso and I thank my bueno suerte every day for having a boy, especially this one.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sam at 2 Years, Four Months

The past month has been a whirlwind of change for Sammy. It seems that, more than any other month, she has gone from baby/toddler to girl/preschooler. She climbs well, she speaks clearly, she runs, puts her own clothes on and... drum roll please....pees and poops in the potty--almost 100 percent of the time.

In addition to all these changes, she is also bonding with her brother more. She always wants him near, she likes to fetch toys for him, hug him when she sees him and sing to him when he is fussy. It is so sweet and makes me happy that she has finally seen the benefit of this constant companion.

As for the potty, I am ridiculously proud of her. I am not sure whether it was school or what, but all of a sudden, she started telling us when she wanted to go potty. For about three weeks, she has been "bladder trained" but had never gone #2. Until last week. She came upstairs, by herself, sat on the potty and emerged victorious. "I pooped!" she screamed. Sure enough, she had. And that was that. As usual with my Sam, she did it herself. My kid is totally on autopilot. There is not a single milestone we have ever had to help her with. Sleeping through the night, walking, crawling, pulling up, potty training, talking. She has done every one of these things on her own time, when she wants and entirely self-directed (and often early, too). I know, I know. I sound like a braggart, but it is less that (I swear) and more just awe.

My kid is so independent, it takes my breath away. She is like a little adult. I find myself having to be very cautious and remind myself that she is still so young because it would be very easy to forget and have too high of expectations.

This month everything is "let me try"; "I want to do it by myself." She wants to put on her own shoes (thank g-d for baby Havaianas), clothing, underwear. She wants to brush her own hair, soap her own body, wipe her own bum. It is both good and bad. I am the type of person who is in a perpetual hurry, so waiting for my preschooler to do it "myself" often has me tapping my foot anxiously, heart pounding. But, I also know it is good for her to learn this stuff, so I am trying to exercise what little patience I have.

The past two months, she has really started down the "kids say the darndest things" path. She makes me and R pee our pants laughing almost daily. Of course, when pressed, I can never remember all the funny things, but her view of the world and constant commentary is hilarious.

Although she remains a complete Daddy's Girl, I also feel like my role has become clearer this month. She relies on my constant presence and thinks of daddy as a novelty, someone who has more patience and time with her when he is home, but I provide the foundation. I am mostly ok with this since I do think girls need good relationships with their dads. R, on the other hand, is like putty, though he is loath to admit it. I can't imagine how he will take her growing up since right now she absolutely worships him. Both of us are super grossed out by dads who refer to their daughters as "princess" and such nonsense. R has done a great job of treating her just as he would treat a son and I think Sam is better for it. Even still, there is something about that father/daughter bond that is just innate. I think it is very good for Sam, overall.

Since R has gone back to work, we have been buying Sam gifts almost daily. She is going to be so spoiled. But it is so much fun. This month she has amassed two toddler scooters (one for the lake house and one for the city); seven new dresses; one Radio Flyer inchworm; five pairs of shoes; one pair of moose pajamas; a pink umbrella; a stuffed airplane that makes noise; several playskool airplanes; an entire airport and many other small things like books/stickers, etc. I must be stopped. I must. Especially considering Ani has amassed approximately nothing. We have pretty much given her a new toy every day this month. Ugh.

She has become such a little girl this month, oohinh and ahhhing over dresses, necklaces (and even bras!) She is into labeling people, as in, "I am a girl; Ani is a boy; Mommy is a girl and Daddy is a boy." She is also very different with men than with women. The other day we were at the gym and a really cute, young trainer came in and suddenly little miss "BY MYSELF!" was batting her eyelashes and asking for help with her shoes. If this kid continues down this path, we are in big, big trouble. Or, as R says, the boys are in big, big trouble.

She loves, loves, loves her umbrella this month. Photos include my proud #2 potty goer and twirling her fave toy in the world.

Some photos:



Friday, May 15, 2009

Co-Ops Are Not For Me

After yesterday, I have done much thinking on my situation and I have come to the following conclusion: I must have been mad when I decided to go with a coop.

There are several things you should know about both me and my husband before we go further:

1.) We both loathe sanctimony
2.) When it comes down to it, we are a bit insular/anti-social
3.) Although we are both liberal, we both find it annoying to have to listen to hippie crap.
4.) Both of us have very busy lives/careers outside of our children

In short: WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING? Oh yeah. It was about the money. This was a huge mistake on so many levels. And now our money situation has changed and I just want a normal preschool where I have no obligation to tithe my whole life over to them.

Even if it costs 12k it will be well worth it.

Everyday I learn more and more about the parent I am. And I need to learn not to apologize for that. I am not a full time stay at home mom. I am a working mom whose office happens to be out of the home. And we can afford to pay professionals to be with our kids while we both meet our goals.

Why do these things take so long for me to realize? This was an episode in the mommy wars. I am a bad mommy (or at least made to feel like one) because I want my own life.

But the most important lesson of all (as my friend Julia pointed out) is: never, ever tell a group of hyper-vigilant stay at home mommies that your child had a low-grade (possibly non-existent fever) 15 hours ago that is now gone.

Are you listening boys and girls? Give me three months and I guarantee this will be one of the funniest stories in my family lore, like the time my dad got fired from my pediatrician.

But for now, it has made me sad and made me realize how lonely motherhood can really be. There are so few mothers I connect with and that fact makes me sad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today Show

R and I were featured on the Today Show because of an essay that I have coming out this July. Check it out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Latest Essay

I have a new essay in Tango Magazine. Checkity Check it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ani at Nine Months

I remember very clearly when Sam turned nine months. It was two weeks later we found out we were pregnant with Alan.

Nine months has been a very significant time period for us. In April 2006, I fell pregnant with Sam. Nine months later, she was born. Nine months later, I fell pregnant again. And nine months later he was born. Now, we are at the nine month point again and there are no new babies cooking. In fact, the only big news around here is R's new job (YAY!)

The past month there have been a lot of changes. R was home with us all month, which was a blessing in many ways. I was able to get more work done and get farther with my writing than I have been able to do in months. We went to NYC for a writing conference for me and while there, we taped a TV show (because of one of my essays) that may or may not be the Today Show (it may be Today in NY, the details are a bit fuzzy).

There have been a lot of changes with little Ani, too. He grew his first tooth and is working on his second. For Alan, teething has been a much longer, drawn out, painful process than it was for Sam. My poor baby has really been quite miserable--drooly, red-eyed, runny nosed, fussy. It is very sad to watch, although his little drooly 1.5-toothed grin is one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

In nine months he has gone from this:



to this:



He has become a much better sleeper over the past month. He is still an early riser and often wakes once, but usually only once. Other nights he sleeps from about 7:30-5:30/6. Of course, R and I are not good about actually going to bed so I am not sure we are seeing the benefits quite yet. It would be nice if he would sleep a bit later. Baby steps, I guess. With naps he still goes down from 8:30-10:30/11 and from 1-3/3:30 like clockwork each day.

He is getting very close to crawling. He still hates it when we put him on his tummy, but when we do, he pushes all the way up onto his hands and knees and just sort of locks them and cries. He has the strength, now all he needs is the motivation.

He also said his first word this month (Dada), which is the same age Sam said Mama. I think it is a great thing for R because now when he walks into a room, Ani smiles his drooly jack-o-lantern grin, cries "DADA" and reaches for him. It has done much for their bonding (as has this layoff). Recently he has also taken to clicking his tongue on the roof of his mouth almost constantly, which makes an amusing clocking not entirely unlike the African clicking language.

As for me, my period has returned and I am more and more aware that I am NOT PREGNANT and very happy about that. But I am also aware of how quickly he is growing and that he may be my last baby. I am trying so hard to savor all of his baby essence because once its gone, it's gone forever. Weep.

Three of my favorite photos from this month:

At the passover seder: