Friday, March 26, 2010


When I had Gage a part of me longed to be more primitive, and I allowed it. I gave into my instincts and, actually, welcomed them. So much changes when you have a baby - I think my potential to function at a more basic level changed, too. Where my kids are concerned...I can't afford to think everything over. I need to act quickly, from the gut, and have a constant sixth sense of where they are and whether or not they're well.

Because it works, because the more old-fashioned or animalistic I am with them the closer I feel to them, I allow it to keep going. I completely give in to the urge to sniff them, to smell their sweaty or clean or sun-warmed hair. All three of them are completely used to me sticking my nose deep in the crook of their necks and breathing deeply, just breathing in their smells.

Since Gage was a baby I'd smell him and half-joke: "Yep, that's my baby," as if the visual or aural were not enough - he had to pass the sniff-test, too. Now Gage jokes with Josie - he smells her all over her head and says, "Yep, that's my girl."

I rub my face on their faces, on their heads. I feel very much like a lioness, and the kids respond in cub-like kind. They smile gently and lean into me, half-close their eyes and allow me to rub heads with them. We're like a pack of wild cats, all madly in love with one another.

I breathe in the air from Josie's open mouth, not knowing quite why but choosing not to think too hard about it. It feels right, on that primitive level, so I do it. Her breath smells healthy and milky, and she smells, in a word, familiar.

The first time I left Josie with our 18-year-old babysitter she smelled 'off' for the next several hours. It was the strangest thing. Every time I caught a whiff of her I smelled the babysitter's perfume. It didn't make me jealous or angry, but it made me feel as though something was just a little strange. And it kept happening - I kept smelling that unfamiliar smell and being just a little curious about it, a little alarmed. She didn't smell like my baby, and that really jolted me.

We also snuggle together, the kids and I, a mess of arms and legs and tickly-haired heads, and coo at each other. We make happy little wimpering sounds, just delighted to be so cozy and close. Weird, maybe, but I've never felt better than this.

Gage and Lila made up a fantastic game recently: "Baby Polar Bear." We take turns being the baby, the Mama, the brother/sister polar bear, and the two 'older', well, baby the baby polar bear. If Gage is the baby, Lila and I curl around him in a snuggling pile and she pets his head, I rub his back. We murmur to each other and pretend to feed him fish. We tuck his blanket around him to keep him warm.

I say, over and over, "I will take care of you. I will feed you when you're hungry and make sure you don't get cold. I will protect you."

He closes his eyes with a smile on his face, allowing himself to be entirely cared for (easier when he's a polar bear), and it strengthens all of our hearts, our souls.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Alice Obsession

Lila's obsession with Alice in Wonderland is not going away. In fact, it may be getting worse.

Gage is OVER IT. He doesn't want to "play white rabbit games" anymore. He doesn't want to watch Alice (we stream the 80s live action version from Netflix for Lila), he doesn't want to talk about her, read her at bedtime, nothing. He's done. He will still call Lila 'Alice,' but that's only because she doesn't respond otherwise.

The weather has been great lately. We've had a few rainy days, and a few windy days, but overall it's been in the high 60s and sunny. Wonderful. We've spent a lot of time outdoors, and Lila is slowly and steadily "digging a rabbit hole" by the swingset.

My mom jumped off the Alice wagon quickly (and smartly), by telling Lila "I'm not a good white rabbit. But your mommy is!" Lila considered this, and accepted it. Now she tells me, "Grandma's not a good white rabbit, but YOU are!" (Thanks, Mom.)

Gage caught on, because yesterday I heard him telling Lila, "I'm not a good white rabbit."

"Me either!" I interjected, kind of frantically. "Neither am I!" My allies are abandoning me!

Gage fixed his eyes on me and said, "Yes you are. Mommy's a great white rabbit." His steely gaze clearly told me: 'You're on your own.'

So it's down to me.

I can't tell you how many times a day we play Alice in Wonderland. She consumes much more than her fair share of our daily lives. Since Lila's birthday is coming up (May 23rd) I'm playing with some ideas of an Alice-themed party. Lila would be overjoyed, I'm sure.

On another topic, we had Gage's preschool parent/teacher conference and it went very well. Gage will be entering Kindergarten in the fall! My big guy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Running & Updates

Six weeks after Josie's birth I was given the go-ahead to start exercising. Given the amount of butter I consumed throughout my pregnancy, exercising was high on my list of priorities. Mike and I started working out immediately, using these videos: The Biggest Loser 'The Workout' and Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred.

I know exercise videos aren't for everyone, but they work really well for me and Mike, especially during the winter. February in Pennsylvania = not much time spent outdoors. Plus we have this house full of little kids...we can't just take off for the gym. If I get an hour to myself I'm going to Borders to page through a cookbook while sipping a coffee (in blessed silence). There's no way that Mike and I can each have 6 hours a week to ourselves to go to the gym. Plus, it's expensive.

And the videos seriously offer quite a good workout.

There's a point to all this.

We worked out for two months, six days a week. I stopped eating so much butter and started eating more salad. Dinner every night is 1/4 protein, 1/4 carb & 1/2 vegetable (one green, one other). No more binging on meat & carbs. Actually, that's not fair. We've always eaten a lot of veggies, but now we're eating more.

Two weeks ago I started running - just to see how it would go. I've never been a runner. Heck, I've never been anything even approximating a runner. But I wanted to give it a shot, because I could tell that my body was stronger and tighter than it has been in years.

The first day I ran two miles.

I was ecstatic and shocked and I couldn't wait to try again the next day.

The second day I ran two and a half miles.

I decided to add 1/10 of a mile each day and when I hit three miles I sprained my ankle.


So I've been giving my ankle the necessary rest for the past several days and I actually feel really antsy and I want to get back to working out. I'm really very eager to begin again - and this feels alien to me, but good. I can't wait to start running, especially since it's getting nice outside.

Yes, me. Jen. Can you believe it!?

Of course, I still have a long way to go. But that's fine. I'd rather do this slow and steady, to build up to a proper lifestyle change.

The kids.

Baby Jos was at the doctor yesterday for her four month well baby visit. She is quite healthy and very strong. She is 12 pounds, 5 ounces and 23 1/4 inches long. She is rolling over both ways and she loves to, when she's lying down, grab your fingers and pull herself up to a sitting position. She is grabbing things and trying to get them into her mouth now. Her favorite thing to grab? Gage's fingers. He thinks it's hysterical when she gnaws on his knuckles, and this never gets old...for either of them.

Lila and I had a problem yesterday. The booster for her chair at the dining room table broke, and it was one of those times when you see the broken thing and know that you can live without if for quite some time, but regardless of that you clap your hands together and say "We need to go to Target. Right now." Lila happily agreed to go with me, but when I went to buckle her in her carseat she freaked out.

Acceptable way to handle this: "I changed my mind. I'd rather stay home and play."

Strong-willed two year old's way of handling this: (screeches like an injured monkey while contorting body and arching back to degrees previously assumed impossible without sustaining major bodily injury)

Me: (carried her, kicking and screaming, back into the house where she sat in time-out for several minutes until she could pull herself together)

Lila: "Sowwy, Mommy." (chin quivering, cheeks blotchy red, eyes swollen)
Me: "That was absolutely unacceptable, Lila. We do not throw fits in this house."
Lila: "But I won't do it next time."
Me: "Let's try it again."

The trip to Target was uneventful, which was good. We had a nice time together, and Lila was a good listener (despite pointing at practically everything and suggesting that we buy it. Good idea, Li, but we don't really need a helium tank. Also, men's pants will not fit you.).

On the way home I asked her what she wanted to listen to. Mike and I normally play whatever we're in the mood for from the iPod but once in a while we let the kids choose. Gage often pipes up: "Funk Soul Brother!" (Fatboy Slim). Lila usually picks Bob Marley, which she did this time.

I'll give you her half of the conversation. You can probably fill in mine.
"What's a buffalo soldier?"
"What's taken from Africa?"
"What's war with America?"
"What's fighting?"
(I tell her that she and I had a fight earlier, when she was throwing a fit about Target)
"Oh. But I was Alice then."
(I assure her she was Lila)
"No, I was Alice."
"No, I was Alice."
"No, I was Alice."

-Long Silence-

"What's agree to disagree?"

Mike and I were standing in the front yard chatting with the neighbors last week, and Gage was playing with the last of the snow. He used a shovel to fill a small wagon with snow, then ran inside. He came out with two bottles of beer, which he stuck in the wagon, nestled in the snow. He pulled it to Mike and the neighbor, saying "Beer delivery!"

I laughed and said, "That's great service! You know, I could use a sandwich."

His eyes brightened and he leaned toward me seriously. "What kind do you want?"

Gage and I went out to lunch last week, just me and him, and he chose a Chinese restaurant. We had a very nice time and I was impressed that he used chopsticks for the entire meal. He has little kid 'learning' chopsticks at home (they're hinged at the top) but these were proper 'adult' chopsticks and he had very little trouble with them. What a big guy!

Two shoutouts:

My poor Mom is having a rough time. Her father was just diagnosed with Shingles and her dog (a 12-year-old lab) had surgery yesterday and is not doing well. I know this is a difficult time for her and I know that there's not much anyone can do to help...all we can count on is good doctors and the passage of time. But I wish to send her strength in these stressful days.

On the lighter end, congratulations to my dear friend Raine, who had a baby girl two days ago. Abigail joins a big sister and I'm so happy for Raine and her family. I'm thrilled that Abigail and her mommy are healthy and strong. Congrats!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Gage and Lila have been playing "Alice" the past several days. We're reading Alice In Wonderland at bedtime, a chapter a night, and the kids *love* it. (We finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - for the second time in a row - about a week ago and they requested Alice next.)

Usually Lila is Alice, and Gage is The White Rabbit. Lila walks around carrying a cookie in one hand (the 'eat me' cake) and a little bottle in the other (the 'drink me' drink). She nibbles and sips, and frantically repeats "Which way? Which way?" and pretends to grow and shrink. Gage hops around saying "Oh, my whiskers. Where is my fan? Where are my gloves?" Then Lila cries a lot and swims through her tears. It was the cutest game ever (the first 100 times).

Which brings me to nicknames. Lila often likes us to call her 'Snow White' or 'Sleeping Beauty' (which she knows nothing about - other than they are 'princesses'). After we kiss Sleeping Beauty she smiles at us and says "Now I'm Awake Beauty!"

She loves, right now, to be called Alice. What she does NOT like to be called? Alice Walice Palice Talice. She SHRIEKS when Gage calls her this, she screams: "My. Name. Is. ALICE!"

But Gage got this from her - she sometimes calls him Gager Rager Pager Tager. And me Mommy Wommy Pommy Tommy.

She can dish it out, but she can't take it.

We call Lila: Ms. Lila, Monkey 2, and, often, Li. Gage sometimes calls her Sweetie Pie, which is adorable. Also: Little Girl.

We call Gage: Gager, Gagerdoo, Monkey 1. Lila calls him Gager Rager Honeydew and Gagie.

We call Josephine: Josie, Jos, Baby Jos, Monkey 3, Josephine Jellybean and Josephine the Dancing Queen.

I did have to tell Lila that I don't like the nickname 'Mommy Wommy Pommy Tommy' (partially because it took her an hour and a half to ask me a simple question). Her response? "Okay, Princess Mommy."