Archive for Family

Welcome, Cyrus Xavier!

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Cyrus Xavier joined us on 11/14 at 2:20 pm, weighing 9 lbs, 11 oz.

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By the time we got to the hospital, we were already very close. I’m not one to go into too much detail…but did you know an epidural can stop working just as the baby is ready to be born? Yup.

Other than that, it was a fairly routine birth. We were out of the hospital about 24 hours later. He did have a tongue tie, which made latching tough. However, we had it snipped and the nursing is going more smoothly now.

He regained his birth weight and then some within a week and everyone is healing well.

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His siblings are so happy to meet him and proudly show off their baby to everyone we meet.

Raising a Toddler is Like Having a Drunk Friend…

Raising a toddler is a real trip. It is like having a drunk best friend when you are always sober…possibly a drunk foreign friend given their command of the English language.

This morning, my two year old and I went off to run some errands. On the return trip, he quickly scurried into the back row of the mini van even though his seat is in the middle row.

“Come here sweetie. Help mommy by getting into your seat.”

“I drive car!”

“Sure you do, sweetie. But you can pretend to drive the car from your car seat. We need to be buckled in before we drive.”

Locates green bucket. Places on head. “Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!”

Drunk Toddler Behavior

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Done Trying to be a Perfect Mom

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My husband is in the military, currently the National Guard. He’s gone one weekend a month, two weeks a year (at least in theory… because sometimes he’s gone a lot more and he occasionally travels for his full time job). He was recently two weeks and I swear he took half my brain with him.

It has been busy, crazy busy. In addition to finishing up one of the biggest projects I have ever worked on, an art history textbook for a program in California, we have had all of the end-of-the-year carnivals, field days, parties, preschool graduations, piano recitals, and gymnastics expos.

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Oh, and we also had our Daisy troop bridging to Brownies at my house. This was supposed to happen on my deck but it was the one rainy day all month. So, we set-up in the basement.

Did I mention I am also over 5 months pregnant with baby #4?

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Maybe it was because I was feeling like such a super mom after shuttling all the kids to all their various events, generally staying on top of the housework without my husband there, and throwing a magical Brownie Bridging that I overreached.

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The Children Are Less Patient

We were at a busy restaurant over the holiday weekend and my daughter began to get frustrated that the waitress did not bring her water right away.

Then the waitress committed the horrible sin of bringing out the adult beverages before the water.

“Mommy,” my daughter wailed, “She should have brought out the water before the wine because the children are less patient than the adults!”

I’ve always wondered about waiters that put hot plates and steak knives in front of toddlers (activating the lightning reflexes of the parents), bring out the kids’ food last, and think a two inch paper cocktail napkin is going to be sufficient for a young child.

Yet, I have to question the wisdom of my daughter’s words. I think we adults are far less patient than children. I watch my children all day long: waiting in lines, suffering my many parental missteps, and taking turns choosing books and toys. I can barely listen to 30 seconds of Musak before I’m ready to explode at the unlucky customer service representative who will pick up the line.

Adults are less patient than children–we’re just better at hiding it.

The Annual Knife Through My Heart Got Twistier

We are now on a yearly schedule for my daughter’s cardiologist. Yesterday was a good, if long (3 hours) appointment. The cardiologist and his staff were amused that my daughter brought her own pillow to the examination–they said that was the first time they had seen that in 20 years of practice.

We found out that valve replacement via catheter is now approved in the U.S. and I can only imagine how far the technology will go in the next 6-10 years.

I know I am so very lucky.

Still, the yearly recitation of the heart conditions on both sides of the family just became tragically longer this summer when my father-in-law, a good man and a loving grandfather, passed suddenly and unexpectedly.

And now that my daughter is four, her questions have become a lot more in-depth and probing and difficult to answer honestly, yet reassuringly and on an age-appropriate level.

I had an entire two days of:

Why doesn’t brother have to go to this doctor?

Why doesn’t he have a boo boo on his heart?

Why do I have a boo boo on my heart?

If they fixed the boo boo on my heart, why do they need to keep checking it?

What if it doesn’t look fixed?

Does surgery hurt?

If I have surgery, will they make all of me go to sleep or just part of me go to sleep?

If I wasn’t asleep, would it hurt? Why?

If I don’t have a valve now, why do I need one when I grow up?

What if they weren’t able to fix the boo boo when I was little?

If something happened to me, would you cry?

Did I dream when I was asleep during the operation when I was a little baby?

What did I dream about?

What is blockage? What is leakage?

Still, so lucky her condition was repairable. So very lucky to have a child who is alive and thriving and asking these questions.

And still so very scared sometimes.

My Young Pianist

My daughter, just before her 4th birthday, playing the theme from the New World Symphony by Dvorak:

The Laundry Song

My three and a half year old daughter came up with this song while matching socks and rolling them up:

(sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Folding Laundry, folding laundry
Does this match? does this match?
Yes, I think it does match.
Well, then roll it up please!
Fold, fold, fold.
Fold, fold, fold.

Goodbye, Granny


My grandmother passed away today and I will miss her dearly.

My sadness is less for her passing–she was very ill and very uncomfortable towards the end–and more for the isolation she felt in her last years of life.

I have many lovely memories of my grandmother.

I remember the chocolate chip cookies. She would do all the mixing by hand and pack each batch in foil-lined shoebox, securing the top with a rubber band. I think I spent a good part of my childhood anticipating the next batch of those delicious cookies.

I remember the card games. We would pass the time playing gin rummy and casino.

I remember the buttons. She had this magical box of buttons–small opalescent buttons, massive brass buttons, soft, cloth-covered buttons, plain buttons, colorful buttons, every shape, size, style and hue imaginable. Each time I would visit I could shift and sort this treasure trove of buttons and select a few to bring home. Part of the wonder of the box of buttons was that, no matter how many times I visited, it always seemed to be full to the brim.

I remember her pleasure in displaying the little gifts we made for her. She always kept a clothespin doll my cousin had designed and a little paper doll swing I fashioned. In the way only a grandparent could, she delighted in our efforts, proclaiming each an early sign of “genius”.

I remember walks down Austin street near her apartment in Queens. We would visit the old Woolworth’s and I would be embroidery floss for friendship bracelets or stop in at the New Age shop where I would ogle crystals and books about fairies.

I remember her as I did not know her. Stories of a difficult childhood, a figure so beautiful that she modeled clothes for a local merchant, and a voice so lovely that she won competitions.

When my mom was just sixteen, my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack. My Granny spent most of the rest of her life living alone.

In the last two years, she did not want to see anyone other than my mother or my uncle. Or, rather, she did not want us to see her. We’d talk about visiting, plan a visit, and then she’d call my mother and insist we cancel. My three year-old daughter, who had played with her great-grandmother when she was one, primarily knew her as a voice on the phone. I thought about forcing the issue and just showing up unannounced. But it was very difficult on my mother and I did not want to make it any harder.

At the very end, after Granny moved in with my mom for what would be her final months, she wanted us to visit.

We saw her last month and I nearly cried when she smiled and laughed at the energy of my toddling son, her great-grandson, who she had seen just that once.

Today, my mother called and described for me my Granny’s very peaceful passing. I was fine until the moment when my mom explained how she told Granny that there were people who loved her waiting for her.

And my mom smiled. And my Granny tried to smile.

And when I heard that, I cried.

I am glad my Granny found peace. I just hope she found company. I love you, Granny.

End of the Innocence


Today my three year old daughter got a pink hobby horse from our trip to the dollar store because she had been trying so hard to be good lately.

Then she decided to beat-up on her baby brother. Walked up right behind the kid and shoved him down. Hard. Completely unprovoked.

So, I put the horse away. (Really, I’ve just run out of ideas here, people.)

She asked me where he had gone and I told her I put it away, she’d get it back when she plays nicely, etc.

But she persisted with the continuous stream of questions:

Where is the horse? How long does she have to be good to get it back? Will I donate it? If the other little girl pushes her little brother, will she donate it back?

Finally, I told her the horse went away because he only likes to play with kids who are nice to their little brothers and that he would come back when she treated her brother nicely.

“But mommy, how can he do that? He’s just a pretend horse….”

Photo Credit: Horse

They Are Very Considerate

My son has decided that I need more sleep. And he is enforcing this by waking up regularly and demanding that I join him. As soon as I cuddle him, he falls fast asleep. The moment I attempt to put him down, he cries. If I finally get him to bed, he is back up within the hour.

I try to imagine it from his perspective–he spends an hour trying to get mommy to sleep: reading books with me, cuddling, nursing, singing. And then finally, just when he thinks he has me down for the night, he wakes to discover I am not there. Sneaky mommy. Just what does it take to get mommy to get her much needed sleep?

And then there is my darling daughter. Lately she has taken to asking me how much I love her. Being a bit of a sap, I told her:

I love you more than there are stars in the sky.

Tell me more, mommy.

Well, sweetie, I love you more than there are pebbles on every beach. More than there are grains of sand in all the deserts in the world…more than…

Do you love me more than this light?

Huh? Ummm…well, yes, sweetie. I do love you more than this light.

I love you more than the hamper, mommy.

Well. Ummm. That’s good to hear, little one.

More than the hot pink hamper, mommy.

Thank you, sweetie.