Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Kids Play...

We took a trip to Mass MOCA the other weekend, it was President's Day weekend and the children's museum I've been hoping to go to with the kids was closed on a Monday, so Mass MOCA seemed like the next best thing. It's a modern art museum housed in a former factory not dissimilar to the Tate Modern in London and I thought the large spaces and large works of art wouldn't be so difficult to navigate our children through.

The highlight of the trip was the giant elevator. We managed to race through the galleries in a record 40 minutes unscathed and ate our packed lunch in the lobby and were going to get out earlier than our set time, when Z. declared he wanted to go back in to see the exhibition of falling ping ping balls. As we had time we went back in but not before stopping by the information desk where the nice woman at the desk gave a thoughtful demonstration of how the pieces of graphite used in one massive display all over the walls of the first gallery were magnets and also you could use them to write... This was not a smart thing for us to have showed my 3 year old son who is consumed minute by minute  by a greater curiosity than control of his impulses and when faced with the artwork of tiny graphite pieces stuck on the wall like magnets could therefore not help but take one of the graphite pieces off of the wall to see how it worked...

Of course we scolded him, we were mortified, apologized to the guard as I scrambled to try to get the piece of graphite back onto the wall while with baby R. in the sling not quite able to align the piece with the circle of black from which it came. But it was our fault, of course it was, trusting that a three year old when faced with wall after wall of these fun little rocks of magnets which also can write wouldn't want to grab one and test it out? We were all tempted to, take them off the wall, rearrange them, use them to black out the white spaces left on the wall... It made me long for more interaction with the art we weren't allowed to touch, not necessarily what the artist had intended, maybe he wanted us to experience the longing to play...

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Snowed In...

We are snowed in, snowed under, snowed over. Every week, like clockwork, a new snow storm arrives. Every Sunday to be specific. And then school on Monday is cancelled. This week school is closed in any case for mid-winter holiday. We take the kids out to play in the snow when there is sun, they last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour although it's rare that we stay out that long. It takes about 10 minutes just to get their gear on. It's been an eye opening first New England winter. Of course everything is a little different because of the baby. She goes out too though. I bundle her up, put her in the sling and she's like a little eskimo baby breathing in the fresh cold crystal air and she sleeps.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Party of Five...

Here we are, all five of us... Life has been an exhilarating and exhausting whirlwind of incredibly busy and joyful days along with painfully dull and hard days stuck inside the house with the kids either without a car because S. has it going to work or because the weather has been too bad to play outside. Today is one such day, as I look out the window like I'm inside of a snow globe. Our house is a never ending to do list and project list which we just keep adding onto... But the baby... well the baby is a dream. I can't believe how lucky we are to have such an even tempered sweet heart of a newborn.

She was in position and five days late when my doctor and I made the call to have a c-section due to a worrisome varicose vein on her umbilical cord. I was also not at all dilated and not easily induced given my two previous c-sections. The operation / birth went great, it was in fact the best of all my c-sections and hospital stays, something to be said about small cities versus big cities... The boys have been wonderful with their sister, they are mildly obsessed with her and for the most part gentle and kind to her. They want to hold her and kiss and cuddle her all the time which is lovely to see. My in-laws stayed with us for about a month before during and after baby R. was born which was amazing and so helpful to me as my mother in law took over the cooking and helped me organize the house and the boys as best she could.

Breast feeding again has been a big issue. Our pediatrician has a lactation specialist at the practice who we went to and she finally was the one who said that I don't produce enough milk to exclusively breast feed which is the first time someone flat out told me that. It was in a way a big relief for someone to say it. It was hard to accept at first of course as it was something I wanted so badly to be able to do, to provide the nutrition for my baby without supplementing with formula but it made me let go and stop banging my head against a wall. And so we combo feed. I think because there are women who have had breast surgeries (I had a fibroademona excised from my left breast and exploratory cut on my right breast) and breast feed exclusively, that a lot of the advice I got before was trying to be positive. But the fact is that everyone is different, every surgery is different and I was cut in my both my breasts which is why my supply is low or the ducts to get the supply were cut so I don't get out enough milk out to exclusively feed. But I've definitely improved my supply, we get that time together and with the formula she's fully fed which is all that matters.

We are trying as best we can to finish some of the big projects we started, or go back to them while raising our very active toddler and preschooler boys and newborn, she is so grownup I can't even believe that she is still considered a newborn?! And the weather has been holding us up slightly, we've had so many snow days at school, Z. has been home more this month than we anticipated. We are juggling, dancing, meditating, chanting, trying not to yell, at the kids, at each other, trying to channel our most tranquil inner parent/ partner/ channel our inner entrepreneur, trying to get/ stay organised, trying to stay in the moment because time flies by and as rough as it sometimes can be, life is blissfully full for us, chaotic and sometimes trying but full of love.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Parenthood and Marriage...

Sometimes life is one great glorious adventure which I throw myself into with love, energy and enthusiasm and other days despite the beauty and love that my life offers me, I feel like crawling to the depths of inside my covers and staying there. Life recently has been dominated by the emotional roller coaster that is my three and a half year old and by his equally emotional pregnant mother.

Most days despite being overly sensitive and moody myself, I am able to cope and be creative in my thinking to tack the sail of sweeping raw emotion that overtakes his little soul when: He's hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? Bored? All of the above? I've given up trying to guess. We just try to keep him fed, proteins definitely help, stay away from sugars for the most part and computer screens, try to exercise outside as much as possible and sleep, well sleep...

The nap/ no nap is a huge issue at the moment. It's reassuring that it might be that Z. is transitioning out of having naps but some days may still need one, which is where we are now leaving his schedule somewhat inconsistent which also can lead to the cranks big time. We are trying to keep a penny jar to reward him for good behavior and to deduct them from the jar for bad behavior. So far its working pretty well, the immediate gratification of earning a penny is obviously satisfying for him and on the flip side having one taken away feels like enough of a punishment for him to have him reconsider what ever bad behavior he's engaging in for the most part.

There are so many sides to parenting that before you become a parent you may consider but until you are in the throes of the same problems with your own children you can't really imagine. And  something I never considered is the the toll it takes on the relationship with your spouse when you have different methods of approaching problems with your children. We keep trying and are not perfect, with our children, with each other, with ourselves. I feel so lucky that despite the fact that we can be proud and stubborn and sulky with each other, when our egos get in the way of clear thinking, that we blow up and retreat licking our wounds when we can't get it together, we are ultimately each others biggest cheerleaders and supporters and we are in this journey together unquestionably.

These years are perfectly imperfect with all the moments of love and joy we experience and try to gather up with our arms and treasure when the black mood of childhood without its reason or logic throws over the table and everything on it. And we as the parents scramble to gather what was lost, damaged, spilled and set the table back again and again.

As we approach the last month of my pregnancy and embark on the next chapter of parenthood with another addition to our brood, I've never been so happy that I'm married to the man that I am. He who understands and loves me and our children unconditionally even in the midst of the chaotic beauty that is our unrefined life at the moment. And as unsteady as it can sometimes be he is the anchor for us all.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Autumn Arrives...

I've slowed down considerably in the last few weeks. It's amazing how quickly the transition is from being pregnant to being *!)*$^%£#  PREGNANT!!!! In the second trimester I've always felt like I can conquer the world. Now I just want to crawl back into to bed and stay under the covers. Of course it corresponds to the change in seasons which effects me tremendously. And the growing baby and my growing body. It's exhausting just carrying around the extra weight let alone everything else which comes with the final weeks of pregnancy. And the baby is currently head down!! Meaning natural birth? We'll see but I am faintly optimistic until my next Dr.'s appointment.

And all this and trying to work when I can, extracting children from apron strings as I carry my computer bag out the door. We've also are rethinking our business plan for S.'s business all the while tackling the extra responsibility which school brings - thankfully it's only two day a week for now but its a commitment for the whole family isn't it? And this is only preschool and only the FIRST MONTH. I am chaperoning Z.'s first class trip tomorrow, we are going apple picking - of course we are, this is New England. We've got class pictures and open houses and fall festivals and parent teacher conferences and so.much.paperwork...not to mention the snacks and the lunches and the thing to bring in on Tuesdays for show and tell and I was so thankful Z. chose a pinecone, A PINECONE!!! Instead of Buzz Lightyear or Spider-Man like from weeks past.

I am trying to slowly tackle all the small projects which I would like to have finished before the baby arrives. Some things we've cut corners on. The small cabinet we've put in the boys room which we meant to strip of the old paint of and then repaint properly, you know with a primer and then the final coat of paint, we ended up not stripping and just spray painting the final color. It's fine. I actually didn't mind it the way that it was given to us, slightly aged with paint rubbed off in some places. We still have to set up a crib, buy a stand for the newborn car seat so that we can remove it from the car without having to re-strap in into the car every time we need to take the baby out. Car culture it's a new experience for us. Also, our station wagon is suddenly looking a little small as we moved Z. into a booster seat. Not sure I'm ready for another car search but we do need another car and eventually yes, a bigger car (swallow, minivan?)

We've also managed to get out and do a few more walks before the leaves are replaced with snow. We tried to do a walk to a falls close to my parents' house this past weekend and that was an EPIC FAIL. It was my fault. The hike was too long for our boys and also not the road that I had remembered it being. It was also a tourist trap on an Indian Summer day in the Berkshires. 3/4th of the way to the falls M. hit a wall and was unable to recover. S. had to carry our hysterical baby all the way back to the car without seeing the falls. Needless to say that about 5 minutes into the car ride back to my parents' house he fell deeply asleep. I was reminded that the last time I did that particularly hike I was 10 years younger and without children. So my memory of it was a little different from the reality...

The walks around our local pond are proving to be the best, we can swing back around the beginning once the tireds set in and there is enough going on in the woods to let them walk/ run without fear of them falling down a steep hill of rocks. They impress me all the time though as they are still very little but love exploring and adventuring into the wild, discovering all that the woods has to offer. I can't wait to see how they are going to be in a few years. Naturalists. All of us. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Embracing the Seasons...

Summer is definitely almost over. We can already feel the autumn chill in the air and we've been dressing the kids in jeans and corduroys and even put Z. in a flannel shirt (which was a size or two too small already for him but he couldn't part with it). Autumn is normally my favourite season and I am particularly looking forward to our first New England autumn which is like no other.
I love the sound of the rustling trees, I love the colour of the foliage deepening in breathtaking swirls of ambers and brick reds and earth browns and then falling to the ground. The light changing as the sky opens up around us, trees thinning their leaves.
I love apples, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple pie. I would love to go apple picking with the kids but probably they are still too little and I am too pregnant. I love pumpkins, pumpkin patches, hay rides,  and Halloween scaries. I can't wait for the kids to experience their first real Halloween and I am looking forward to seeing our sleepy neighbourhood town with their wood clapboard houses and wrap around porches turn their homes into haunted houses. My brother and his family are coming to visit us mid-October so we can pick out a few good pumpkins together at the local pumpkin patch - curious if our farm share has one - and carve them out on the porch.
Thanksgiving is also my favourite holiday even if it will be a little toned down this year. We've got M.'s second birthday to think about and then of course the birth of R. our last miracle baby will be blessing us with her appearance a week or two before Thanksgiving. S.'s parents are coming at the beginning of November for which I am so grateful. Without knowing how I'm giving birth - most likely C-section unless this baby moves into a good final position - it's a little hard to plan around her birth. It's amazing that my in-laws can be here and stay with us for a month. They'll have their first real American Thanksgiving which will be lovely I know, my mother will do a great job no doubt although it will be scaled back to make it easier for everyone. Last year she did the turkey in sections restaurant style as opposed to roasting a whole turkey and while I was disappointed to miss the production of a roasted turkey it was still delicious and was easier all around for my mom to cook such a meal for us all.
But as much as I love everything about the Fall I can't help but feel a little sad to let Summer go. We had a really lovely summer albeit somewhat insecure and chaotic. Also Fall leads to Winter which while it has it's own set of lovely things to look forward to can be quite long and isolating in these parts. Thankfully our high speed internet is supposed to be up and running by then. The next question we'll be asking ourselves is whether after over a decade without if we finally break down and buy a television? This summer was the summer of discoveries, the summer of firsts for us all, the summer of getting our bearings, of becoming comfortable with this house, this area, this new life. The kids spent most of the hot days naked running around in the garden, chasing each other or us with the hose. They have become confident climbers, naturalists and comfortable around bugs and animals much to our great delight.

For a while Z. was asking when we were going back to London. It was heartbreaking every time he went into his little speech about how London was so cool and America is bad - although he couldn't fully describe why it was. He didn't like our new house. He preferred the house in London. This house, he explained, is too old. But look at the wonderful garden you have here, and your playroom, and all the space you didn't have in London. You have a much bigger bedroom and you share with M. But I miss the sofa, he would say.

Finally the other day he admitted that America isn't so bad. Maybe it's not bad after all. I knew once he got into school and things in the house and our routine settled a bit more he would let go of his grudge against America. As lovely as it is here I'm sure that it hasn't been easy, the upheaval from the only life he knew. A new baby on the way. Children are resilient and our kids have it easy compared to most but I know that we shouldn't underestimate the effect change has on small children just as a change of season has on me.