Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where we are

I write this blog mostly for myself. Clearly, based on my handful of readers-though I do appreciate the few of you. I like to write a bit to keep my mind working and to organize my thoughts. It's like an ongoing journal that I can look at to remember what I was doing in 2007 or last month.

I feel like I will remember everything, but am constantly surprised by how it slips from my memory. T and I ask each other, "Was it R who always stuck his tongue out when he smiled, or was that Q?" When you are living your life each day hour by hour you feel like your current situation will last forever. You get trapped in the daily chores of dirty diapers, loud baths, and interrupted nights and forget to appreciate the small moments.

I get mad at myself when I realize I am wishing away each day and each week. I look forward to when the kids will be asleep, to when the weekend arrives, or when a project is over. I fail to submerge myself in the experience.

The start of 2011 marks another chapter in our lives. I will go back to work full-time with three kids at home and with a new nanny. I will start my second semester of my MBA program. Q will start a new school, and we will begin the new year in our new home.

So where are we?

Q is four and a half and is in 4K. He is tall and skinny. He is curious and very observant. If anything is different when he comes down the stairs in the morning, he immediately realizes it. He found most of his Christmas presents long before Christmas morning. He likes learning Spanish words and enjoys coloring, riding his bike, playing with trains, and trucks, and cars. He adores his stuffed seal which is now threadbare and without stuffing. He calls it a puppet and snuggles up with it while he sucks his thumb. It seems to always smell sour and feel a little crunchy even with frequent washing. Q is extremely affectionate and always hugs his teachers and tells us he loves us. He comes into our room most nights and sleeps for a few hours on the ground next to me with his Bucky Badger snuggli. His stuttering comes and goes, and we hope that speech therapy through the school district will help him communicate clearly. Q still has tantrums and collapses to the ground in frustration if he doesn't get what he wants. He can definitely test our patience and frequently pushes or hits his brother. He waits way too long to go to the bathroom and still has regular accidents. He constantly chatters and has an amazing memory. When I stop for a moment, I am amazed that the 4 pound 14 ounce preemie turned into this little boy!

R is a little spitfire. He has big blue eyes and a great head of hair. He is a bit shorter and stockier than Q. He has a big vocabulary and likes to sing. Lately he has been singing Jingle Bells: "Jingle bells, jingle all the way!" He still sleeps in his crib, though he could easily climb out of it. In the morning when he wakes up, he starts kicking his feet together like he is doing the butterfly stroke. He sucks his left thumb just like Q and loves his sailboat pillow. It is also often dirty and sour-smelling. He loves juice, which he water down a lot so he doesn't get a mouthful of cavities. He shows his independence often, whether it is putting his own toothpaste on the toothbrush or holding the cup while we pour in the juice. Sometimes it is frustrating for us, but we remind ourselves that it is just a part of him growing up. He and Q are big buddies though they clash often and have started to tattle on each other. R made us laugh recently when he came upstairs to tell us, "Q said poopy pants." R loves to give Ruby treats. He likes to be picked up and says, "Uppy!" He is dangerously fearless and careens down the sidewalk with his feet off his Big Wheel pedals.

Lena is three months old now, and I think she is really a beauty. She is petite, just in the 25th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference. She has patchy brownish-red hair and so far her eyes are still blue. I hope they stay that way. She is a good girl and doesn't fuss much. She started sleeping through the night around two months. She doesn't even cry when we give her a bath. She smiles often and coos. When she poops, it is loud and boisterous and often embarrassing if we are in a public place. She loves to stretch. Anytime we pick her up, she tucks her legs up and stretches her arms overhead and turns her head side to side. She will do it several times over several minutes. It makes us laugh. I love to stretch too. Maybe it is genetic. Lena loves nursing, and I had the easiest time establishing breastfeeding with her. I think if I let her, she would nurse all night. Against my better judgment, I often fall asleep laying side by side with her nursing. As I type this, she is smiling at me and cooing as she is propped up on pillows. I can tell she is taking the first steps toward communicating. She is such a sweet little girl, and she really seems to charm people. I feel so lucky to finally have my little Lena.

The boys love talking to their baby sister. They often get awkwardly close to her and say, "Hi baby, hi baby, hi baby!" Though I quickly shoo them back and try to prevent them from roughly patting her, she smiles and coos at them. The three kids are always looking out for each other. Q will remind us to get something for R, and R will tell us when the baby is crying. I constantly question my expertise at motherhood (I am not teaching them sign language or taking them to music classes or banning television), but I am proud when I see how loving and compassionate they already are. We must be doing something right.

Truthfully, T and I spend many of our days tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed by family, work, and school responsibilities. We both operate with a constant level of nagging stress but in certain quiet moments, we are filled with love and pride for each other and our family when we stop and realize our many blessings. We need to do that more often.

So that's where we are. A snapshot of our children frozen in time, so I won't forget and will remember to appreciate.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas hangover

When you are young, Christmas can't come soon enough and then is over far too quickly. When you are older Christmas comes way too quickly and can't be over soon enough. We are now surrounded by new toys and piles of clothes and books.

The boys were overwhelmed with presents this year and were in a state of Christmas mania. Their favorites were a remote-control helicopter (Q) and a tractor (R) and a zhu zhu pet for each of them.

We went back and forth to my parents a few times eating far too much and playing in the snow. The boys love seeing their cousins and posed in new sweaters from Grandma.

All in all, it was a beautiful Christmas with our three little ones this year. I hope yours was just as jolly, and here's to a prosperous 2011!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas sloth

I couldn't have timed my maternity leave better. I get 12 weeks off during my first semester of grad school and during all the holidays. No stress for shopping, wrapping, and making cards. Supposedly. For the most part that has been true, but I find myself a bit more sluggish than in Christmases past. I have mentioned before my tendency to go at two speeds: either turbo-charged or in park. So, when I don't have constant tasks demanding my attention, I impersonate a sloth.

I was not very inspired to get the Christmas tree up this year. T wasn't either. Q made us feel like bad, laZy parents when he constantly asked for it. T finally picked out a tree during a snowstorm, and we slapped on the ornaments. I even managed to put the village under the tree, because I knew the boys would love it, but I didn't put out most of the little trinkets. Why get them all out just to put them away in a few weeks? I thought to my Grinch-self. We also hung up the stockings and put a lone garland on the stair banister, but the rest of the decorations stayed in the box this year. Though I am home every day right now, I just didn't feel like it. And I'm OK with that.

I did (in a clear moment of post-partum insanity) decide to make my Christmas cards this year. They were very simple, but still time-consuming. Our large families and stops in several states have swollen our list to 115 cards. Printed address labels made the job as easy as possible. Though I don't think I will be making my cards again next year.

We are even skimping on gift-giving this year. A few things for the boys, but nothing for Lena. She is a baby. She won't know the difference, though the boys might wonder why Santa stiffed her.

Thankfully my shopping is done. I was happy about this fact as I sped by the long line of cars turning into the mall parking lot today. I have kept calm, organized, and minimalistic this year. It is so much better this way.

I have just a week and a half left of maternity leave left. Man, has it gone fast. I am stressed about going back. The thought of resuming school, work, and breast-pumping gives me a pit in my stomach. I wish it were March, so I could be settled in and used to my new routine.

Just ten days left to spend with my little girl, napping when I want to and watching daytime TV. I will try to squeeze enjoyment out of every moment. It will be a wonderful Christmas this year with three little ones. And the best thing is, I won't have to take down many decorations.

(not our Christmas tree!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sick house

This house is full of germs and grossness. I am finally feeling a bit better today, but yesterday I was a mess. It felt like knives were scratching my throat, my ears hurt, my body ached, and I had a fever of 101.7. It seems like the flu, but I did get a flu shot.

I had R stay home because he seemed to feel sick as well and had diarrhea. So I barely felt like moving and yet had to care for a sick kid and a newborn baby. No fun. R mercifully slept in, but when I went in to get him, I found he had had poo smeared all over his bed and his clothes. He was screaming and crying as I tried to clean him, and I actually started crying because I was so exhausted and getting light-headed as I tried to clean him up. It was a disgusting mess. I had to sit down several times during the process of getting him ready.

I managed to get his clothes and sheets in the washer, feed him two Nutrigrain bars for breakfast, and put the Dora Christmas special on TV. Then I went upstairs, climbed back in bed, and begged family members for help. T came home for a couple hours and then my dad came over for the afternoon. He even changed three poopy diapers, which I think is a first for him. He'll probably never visit again.

It is horrible being sick when you are nursing a baby. I feel like it is inevitable that she will get sick. I feel like my breast milk is tainted. So far she has been OK, though she is sleeping a lot, which is all right by me.

After being a waste of space yesterday, I am catching up on some bills and other things today. My throat still feels like a raw wound, but things are turning around. Thank goodness for that. Being sick is no fun.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Clothes-shrinking closet

I had a friend who used to say her closet kept shrinking her clothes. I love that. I have the same problem. None of my clothes fit, so it is clearly a closet problem.

During our last couple moves, I weeded out my clothes and got rid of all the bigger sizes. So now, two months after having a baby, nothing fits. It's frustrating. It sounds minor, but it really is a hassle trying on ten outfits to find something that looks nice to go out to dinner, or squeezing into jeans that rub my still-tender C-section incision.

I quickly lost 15 pounds after giving birth. I gained a total of about 30. I figured I was well on my way to getting back to normal. I'm breastfeeding after all. Isn't that supposed to make the weight melt off? Sure. In the past week or so, I have gained a couple pounds. Not good. This is not the direction I want to go.

I have been easing back into exercising. It is definitely not as easy as it was with the boys. I was running again just weeks after having them, but this time my belly is still sore. I have also been eating like I was still pregnant--cookies, ice cream, third helpings. So something has to change, and I think I found the right thing.

I was messing around with my iphone apps--only the free ones of course, and I came across My Fitness Pal. It is the coolest thing! You enter in what you eat and how much you exercise and it calculates the totals for you. It keeps you totally accountable! I do have to enter "breastfeeding" as cardio exercise, but it is still pretty slick. T is using it now as well. He gets a lot more calories than me, so I am jealous. You can also keep track online at

I would love to lose 15 pounds and get back to where I was a year ago. We'll see if this keeps me on track, and if I can get my closet to stop shrinking my clothes.


This is from Thanksgiving. Lena was all fancy, even wearing tights. All of our nearby relatives went out of town, and we weren't exactly up for a lot of travel, so we went to a club we are members of. The boys were pretty bad and Lena was hungry the entire time, so it wasn't exactly a peaceful event.

We tried to get a nice picture of the kids together. They were squirmy and Lena kept falling over, but they still are pretty darn cute.