Monday, September 20, 2010

What? September?! When did that happen?

Oh yes. When I was trying to squeeze every last ounce of summer joy with my beautiful boys as summer vacation drew to a close. It was happening as we bought school shoes, backpacks, and folders. It happened as I prepared Gabriel for what kindergarten would be like for him, and as we read "Twas the Night Before Kindergarten." It happened while the boys posed with their new lunchboxes for first day of school pictures. And while Gabriel clung to me, not quite ready for me to leave him in the classroom for the very first time. And while I sat in my car a few moments later, crying harder than I had in a very long time.

Time continued to fly as we adapted to the familiar routine of the school year: after school snacks, homework, and make-sure-the-kids-get-outside-to-play-time.

Gabriel is adjusting well to school. Little aspects of his personality are emerging, and it's fun to watch him have a social life. I am feeling good about the rest of the school year for him.

During a checkup, the doctor spotted the Spiderman sticker the nurse had given Julian and asked if he was really into superheroes. His pensive reply: "Nah, I'm more of a Toy Story kind of guy."

We've broken temperature records here- all last week was in the 90's. No sign of rain, but today actually felt like September. And with October on the horizon, that's a good sign.

I am slowly getting used to being by myself during the day (when I'm not at work), but it's still an odd feeling. Maybe once you become a mother, you always feel weirdly incomplete when your children are not around.

Batman and I stumbled upon an opportunity to enjoy a swing dance lesson while a local jazz band played near our house. Batman had been traumatized more than a decade earlier while taking dance lessons in preparation for his upcoming (first) wedding. Apparently, the instructor was really picky and somewhat harsh. I have never taken any kind of dance as an adult, but always wanted to. I was thrilled when Batman volunteered to give lessons another try. We had so much fun! It was so much more enjoyable for my hubby to have patient, friendly and laid-back people teaching him how to have fun in this creative, energetic way. I picked up on things better than I anticipated, and I think we may be hooked. I was stunned when my husband looked at me and said even though our schedules are a bit crazy and we have these three kiddos, he really wants to do this with me. He said, "What do we need to do to make this happen?". I just love when he gets excited about something, especially when it involves something fun we can do together. When you're a single parent trying to date, it's not the same as when you were single the first time around. There just aren't the same opportunities to go out, at least not as frequently, when you have little ones in your care, and various schedules to juggle. This is especially true if both dating partners have children. I am always reading how important it is for a couple, especially once they become parents, to have a social life together, to keep their dating life fresh and alive. I completely agree. Perhaps it is even more important for those who were parents first, and many of their dates were usually the "play" kind. So lots of fun for us to look forward to!

Not much in the way of pictures at the moment- my hubby is rearranging everything, and I can't access them right now. Will definitely catch up on those later.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Our family trip to Mystic, Connecticut was wonderful! The kids were really good in the car, although less well behaved elsewhere. My grandparents were finally able to meet my kiddos, and Gabriel in particular really resembles my grandfather. It was nice to have everyone together in person. My aunt and uncle made time in their busy schedules to come by and see us for an afternoon, and it was great visitng with them as well.

I also got to get to know my sister in person for the very first time ever! We had a very brief meeting years ago, but without the circumstances to really connect. We've chatted on the phone and exchanged emails, so it was a thrill to really get to spend time with her. I was able to meet her fiance, and he really took to the kiddos. Chased them around and around the yard and let them tackle him a time or two. And as a very special bonus, I was able to meet my brother for the first time as well! It was unexpected, and so very wonderful. His wife was there too, and our kids took to her immediately. They all are such beautiful people, and I cannot express how blessed I feel to finally have them in my life. I really treasure the family connection, so to have my family grow by four, all at once, feels incredible. I am a lucky girl, indeed!

This trip really was about family, so we kept our schedule light- we didn't want to pack in a bunch of activities and wear everyone out. So that's what we did. We met my grandparents at The Nautilus- the world's first nuclear-powered submarine. It is docked in New London and open for tours. The cool thing about this for me is that my grandfather was stationed on it for two years when I was very young. How fun was it to get a personal tour of the very sub he was on! The kids were excited to go on a submarine, but once there were more fascinated by the jellyfish they spotted in the water- go figure.

On Monday, Batman had some work he absolutely had to be online for. So he stayed at the hotel, and I took three children out to explore the quaint little town of Mystic. We spent the morning enthralled by the little drawbridge that opens at forty past the hour to let the boats through. We watched a seagull swoop down and snatch bread from the water without stopping, which delighted the little guys. Where did we stop for lunch? Mystic Pizza, of course! And it really is a slice of heaven! Tons of memorabilia decorates the walls, and the movie plays nonstop in each room of the restaurant. And it really is delicious.
We browsed in some of the stores and stopped for ice cream in the afternoon. Gabriel was covered in chocolate ice cream (doesn't it figure that the messiest child wants chocolate?), and was enjoying it so much he ran into his brother's cone! So there's a nice glob of strawberry ice cream right near his eye, which I guess complimented the dark brown that covered the rest of his face. My feeble attempts to keep the kids somewhat tidy with small, papery napkins were in vain. So I just let them have at it, then headed for the public bathroom to wash up. Sometimes as a parent, you just have to let it go. Those times often make the best memories.

Before we even left, my darling husband was already online checking out airfare, to see when I could go back to visit my family. Perhaps in the fall, and this time without the little guys. I just love that he really saw how much it meant for me to spend time with everyone.

As much as I enjoyed my visit, it felt really good to get back home. We're sort of back into our routine. We just got the list of school supplies for each grade in the mail, along with classroom assignments. There are all kinds of back to school and kindergarten orientation events. I cannot believe it is that time already. So we will really make the most of these last weeks of summer break. Lots to do and not do, while we still can. Tomorrow Batman will grill for dinner, and I think it might just be a good night to let the kids stay up late and catch fireflies.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer so far

Here it is, the middle of July, and we are truly enjoying the lazier days of summer. The kiddos sleep as late as they want (although usually that means only an extra half hour or so), we're not as rushed in the mornings or after dinner, and I usually only have one lunch to pack in the morning- my hubby's.

We've gone swimming a few times, enjoyed the splashpark, and played in the sprinkler plenty. The boys and I occasionally cuddle up on the couch together and treat ourselves to an afternoon movie. And today, during a rare summer rainstorm, we baked a perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies together.

Earlier in the spring, we started a container garden of sorts. I have basil, lavender, and lemon balm on the deck. Each child chose a veggie to grow and care for- Gabriel planted a tomato plant, Julian wanted to grow green peppers, and Maddie chose a different kind of green pepper along with the cabbage she started at school. Our little garden is doing well; we've enjoyed a tomato, picked by a very proud Gabriel, and one of Julian's big green peppers- dipped in Marzetti's creamy ranch- yum! And I think when Maddie comes over tomorrow, she'll be ready to pick her first pepper. It's been very rewarding to see the kids take care of their own plants, eagerly checking for produce progress. They water, check every leaf for holes, pet, and talk to their plants. They are much more likely to taste and actually eat what they have grown themselves. They surprised me by devouring the mini-cabobs I made them using Gabriel's tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a tiny basil leaf, all speared on a toothpick. You can bet next year our garden will be much, much bigger.

My work hours have been reduced, partly by my request, since most of my pay goes to childcare expenses during the summer. I am thrilled to be getting so much done around here. So much seems to be put on the back burner when I am working more, helping with homework, packing five lunches in the morning, and just keeping up with all the mayhem in general. And since this is our last summer before all my kids are in school (sniff!), I am trying to enjoy as much time with my little guys as possible. The other day, Julian slightly overlapped two hulahoops behind his back and exclaimed, "Look, Mom! I have a Venn diagram on my butt!" Gabriel is endlessly entertaining (and sometimes frustrating)- he corrected Maddie when she said "care-a-mel" (we grew up pronouncing it "car-mel"). Julian jumped in and explained that Caramel was the Jewish way of saying Carmel. I guess that's funny for those of you who know that Batman and Maddie are Jewish, and we are not. We got a good laugh out of that one.

And last night, we saw Gabriel get up to go to the bathroom, which is a pretty common occurrence with him. Instead of going to the kids' bathroom, he went into ours. I thought I better go check on him. When I got upstairs, I could hear him peeing, but couldn't find him. It wasn't till I went around the corner in our bathroom that I found him. He had just peed in the bathtub. He was clearly sleepwalking. I walked him back to his room, tucked him into bed, then went to clean up the tub.

We're getting ready to take a family trip to Connecticut. My grandparents and aunts and uncles live there, and have never met my children. I am looking very forward to seeing them and having them meet my wonderful new hubby and all my kids. Our plan is to take the kids swimming for the afternoon to get them completely worn out, feed them a good dinner, get them in their jammies, and leave around their bedtime. Batman will drive overnight, and hopefully the kids will sleep for most of the trip. We can hope. The swimming strategy should work well, since the last time I took them, the two hours we were in the pool completely wiped out Gabriel. He was so exhausted he could barely eat his dinner. I have never seen such a bouncy child eat in slow motion before!

Lots to do before the trip. I have been really dragging due to some kind of cold virus or something. It's hard to be a mommy, helping everyone else when you feel lousy. But everything is getting done, and soon we'll be on our way. I'm sure there will be lots to write about when we get back.

This entry feels very disconnected and all over the place, but I would say that's pretty fitting for our life right now.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Panic! At the splashpark

Our zoo has a wonderful splashpark to enjoy all summer long. It's a great way to stay cool and let the kids run around (make that walk around) and have fun. We usually allow time to dry off and feed the lorikeets nectar. It's one of our favorite ways to spend a hot afternoon.

Batman and I were excited to take all three kiddos to the splashpark today. I have taken the boys and Maddie on several occasions, but we've only enjoyed the park together as a family once.

Fountains spouting, buckets pouring, children squealing; it was all going so smoothly. Gabriel was super excited about the little waterslide- just his size, Maddie enjoyed pumping water so it would spray out the top of the water tower, and Julian was off splashing in the water by himself, probably enjoying the solitude of being in his own little world. I alternated between sitting in the shade enjoying conversation with my husband while keeping tabs on the kids, and making the rounds actually watching each of them. The cool spray was refreshing each time I made my rounds, and I was relishing the enjoyment on each of my children's faces as they played.

And then it happened.

Somehow, Julian and Gabriel collided (there is some debate over whether or not actual pushing was involved), and Julian fell, whacking his chin on a metal spout close to the ground. I watched him fall, and it really did look like it hurt. When I checked him out, his chin was already swelling and turning blue. A tiny bit of blood rimmed a bottom baby tooth, and he was wailing loud enough for one of the employees to come check on him. We were grateful when she brought an ice pack. No stitches required, and no teeth lost. We decided to pack it up and head home.

He is absolutely fine, but the huge bruise on his chin has continued to change colors as the evening wears on. It almost looks as if he has a small purple goatee. It doesn't bother him to talk or eat, so I'm thankful for that.

We took it easy the rest of the day. I joined the kids in a board game while Batman dozed on the couch. We enjoyed copout pizza for dinner. The boys helped out at the grocery store, and later settled down for a story before bed.

All in all not a bad day. I feel bad for my kiddo anytime he gets hurt, and am stunned Gabriel has yet to break a bone or somehow land us in the ER by now. But today could have been much worse, so I am counting my blessings and at the same time waiting for the next mishap that is sure to happen when there are three healthy, active children in the home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fishy, Flappy, and Stripey

I will begin by saying Batman feels terrible about it. Just terrible.

The day before Father's Day we had a mishap with our aquarium. We lost all of our fish.

It was a true accident. The aquarium had been quite successful for many, many months. Each child chose two fish of their own to keep in the 55 gallon tank. We had an interesting variety of semi-aggressive fish, and they all got along very well. The kids chose a Silver Dollar fish for Batman, since silver is his favorite color. Julian chose one of those little catfish-like sharky-looking things, Maddie had a colorful catfish type as well, and Gabriel had two large goldfish.

And Stripey.

Gabriel was so very excited the day he picked out Stripey at the pet store. He showed the helpful lady the exact one he wanted, even though they all pretty much looked the same. When she went to scoop him with her net, Stripey leaped out of his tank, and fell, like, seven feet to the floor. He flopped around while we searched for him. Gabriel spotted him, and the very nice lady offered to get us a different fish, just in case. Of course, Gabriel was SET on this one, and started talking to him in his little plastic bag right away. He thought the whole incident was hilarious, completely unaware that his new pet may have a concussion, or worse, and may not make it throughout the week. I thanked the woman, and told her we would risk it. She reminded me to keep my receipt in case I should need to make an exchange.

We never needed it.

Stripey thrived and grew and had his own little personality. He became the biggest fish in the tank! Gabriel took very good care of the fish, and enjoyed his responsibility. Fishy, Flappy, and Stripey were Gabriel's actual pets. He fed them twice a day, talked to them every morning, told them to be nice to each other, and really loved them.

The unfortunate fish incident seeped into our planned grilling time. By the time we broke the news to the kids, it was getting a bit late. The older two were disappointed about losing their fish, but Gabriel was truly heartbroken. He cried, I cried, Batman felt just awful. We decided to forgo the grilling, and distracted the kids by taking them to IHOP as a treat. Batman and I exchanged amused glances when Maddie thought she might want to order fish (he convinced her otherwise). And the most touching moment of the evening was when Gabriel put his hand on his stepdad's arm and said, "I'm really very sorry that your fish Silver Dollar died."

So we are taking the week to get the aquarium cleaned out (again) and ready for a new family of fish. We explained to the kids that of course it wouldn't be the same, but it would still be lots of fun. We are all looking forward to it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boys Are Gross

Boys are gross.

Or is it just kids in general?

Yeah, maybe it’s just kids, period.

My boys used to have good aim when going potty- I don’t know what’s been happening lately. I am also finding giant globs of toothpaste all over their damp hand towel. The same kind of hand towel that Julian decided was enough to soak up an entire sink full of water. All that did not make it into the towel wound up all over the floor. And the other day, I found a booger stuck to one of my books. The one entitled- get this- “The Everything Guide to Raising Boys”.


Where is the chapter called “Tissues: the Complete Users’ Guide”?

Yesterday, Gabriel’s T-shirt sleeve was encrusted with yogurt because he had used it as a napkin (again), and this morning swung a belt around just enough to break the glass globe on the ceiling fan in his room. He sports a nice little scratch on his forehead from this. We later came home and immediately Maddie was yelling that the cat yarked on her bed (guess that is more of a pet thing. Still…). Later in her room I found she has shredded chunks of her cocoa butter lotion bar all over a fabric-covered Dr. Seuss book.

And nevermind the constant string of potty talk, which I believe my kids are getting just a bit old for. Surprisingly, though Gabriel tends to be the worst offender in this category, Maddie, who is eight and a girl, is often the instigator. It doesn’t take long for the two younger boys to join her in the hilarity.

I have found myself saying sternly to my children, “will you please act like you have parents who teach you manners?!” I feel like I have been working diligently and consistently day in, and day out, three meals a day- plus snacks- to teach them how to behave at the table, and it’s all just not sinking in. I thought they’d sort of get it by now. I am hoping if I stay patient (and consistent, and diligent), that it will pay off one day, and there will be well-mannered, conscientious, somewhat tidy people sharing my home with me. Of course, by the time this happens, they’ll be mostly grown, preparing for life on their own, and it just won’t be near as amusing if one of them wipes a booger on my book.

So I will keep trying, very consistently, ever-so-diligently, to do my absolute best with these little beings in my care, and all the while I will squirrel away these little tales for later. And not just so I can reminisce about their precious younger years.

But also for blackmail.

Catching Up

Yes, it's the middle of June already. Yes, I have missed capturing all the weird and wonderful-ness that is our family on here. Yes, I have failed once more on doing something for myself on a consistent basis. And yes, I have had a long day, not spent any time with my husband, and probably should be in bed.

Lots to catch up on, will probably have to fill this in as I go. The school year ended wonderfully for Maddie and Julian. Gabriel and I shared our "last" lunch together at home, without the other kids. He is going into kindergarten in August, and I am having a bit of a hard time with this.
This means a complete end to an entire chapter in our family's life. No more toddlers, no more preschoolers. No more sippy cups, stroller rides, car seats, or watching Blue's Clues in the morning. I have big kids now. It's just...different.

With three children between us, my husband and I have decided we are finished. So we have "his," we have "hers," but there will be no "ours." Batman feels very strongly that the three we have are definitely "ours" together, and I love that he has that sense of family. Oh, I could be talked into another very easily. I loved, loved being pregnant, and it sure would be nice to actually raise a toddler together with a partner (someone I like, even!), something I missed out on the first time around. This decision is a good one for our family, in our circumstances, and I am okay with it.

With Gabriel off to school next year, the possibilities for me seem endless. I work part time, so there will be days when I can, say, go grocery shopping by myself. What a treat! I can start a task around the house and be able to finish it! Imagine the things I will get accomplished without constant interruptions. Maybe I will actually read something more than two paragraphs long. That doesn't rhyme! Entire novels even! Try on clothes before I buy them because I don't have an impatient preschooler with me, asking LOUD, inappropriate questions in the fitting room? Yes I can!

Our yard needs attention, the basement is in desperate need of being organized, and after thoroughly enjoying my boys' preschool years, there are things I actually want to do for myself. I am almost giddy with anticipation of this time I will have for myself. I do wonder if I will even know what to do with myself, after being a two- and three-people unit for so long.
In the meantime, I am enjoying my time with them this summer, bickering, bruises, and all. I am focusing on really being present with them, soaking up the joyous (and even not-so-joyous) moments we have together, because it will all change, all too quickly. Life is always fluid, ever flowing, ever changing. Tiny tweaks made to our daily routines, little changes here and there, and pretty soon, you look around, and it's all very different. And it didn't happen all at once. And I think that's why it sometimes happens without our even noticing. Because it happens in tiny increments, little bits at a time. Which is probably the only way some of us could handle it.
So we're off to a great summer.

I look forward to sharing about our anniversary dinner. It was lovely. And in true Batman fashion, it didn't go off without a hitch.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Voice Mail

So I got a phone call from my 4-year-old this morning.
I was enjoying a rare moment of selfishness by staying in bed after 7 a.m. - all three kids are with their other parents, a rare treat that some parents in blended families get to enjoy once in awhile. I missed the call, but heard that two voice mails were left for me. When curiosity overcame my indulgence, I checked my messages.
The first was from Gabriel, telling me he had a new drill from Build-a-Bear Workshop for his favorite snuggly, Bowtie. And that I should tell Bowtie this for him.
The next message was from Julian, who's 6, saying that the drill is actually made for some Worker Bear, and that Bowtie would not be getting it.

Did my kids really just have an argument on my voice mail??

In addition to the entertainment from my beautiful boys this morning, Batman and I really enjoyed a lovely evening together for the first time in many months. We actually ate dinner together, enjoying warm food, entire sentences, and not once did anyone burp aloud and laugh hysterically, causing hysterical laughter from other diners. There were no warnings of spilling drinks or losing dessert. No pleadings to behave as if one actually had parents who really were trying to instill some level of human-like behavior at the table.

It was wonderful.

Do I enjoy a quiet meal with my sweetie more now that it is such a rare occurrence? I think all parents come to appreciate the little things that we probably took for granted in our pre-kid lives. Enjoying an uneventful dinner, the ability to go to the bathroom for three minutes in peace, running to the store -real quick- for just two things. So I guess this makes us all just a bit easier to make happy, since our lives have been much more complicated by these small, wonderful beings we have brought into the world.

Lower standards. Greater joy. Ahhh.... the bliss of having children!

And now I have an important phone call to return.