I was just looking over the last few posts and see that they revolve around Avery. I think that this is because as Alex grows, he is more even-tempered and less outrageous than bi-polar two-year old behavior just is.
So I wanted to write to Alex to tell you that at six and three-quarter years old you are a lot of fun. You are comfortable in your own skin (even though you trip and fall out of chairs, so maybe not comfortable in your fast-growing body). You still love movies more than anything else. And you still speak like an adult, much to the amazement of adults who are first meeting you.
You shamelessly cheat when we play card games or board games :)
Your teacher tells us that you have a mind for math and you all the sudden have seemed to have picked up the Hebrew language.
You are willing to try fewer and fewer new foods that do not include chocolate as an ingredient.
You now know what a first down is, oh and you seem to really enjoy playing basketball.
You also like to breakdance.
I know that since you are my son, I will always love you and also since you are my son that I'm probably a bit biased in how I see you....but, I wanted to let you know that love aside, I really like you as a person. You are pretty awesome!
Avery has been fighting a cold for the past week or so. She generally feels okay, but we've kept her home from school so she has been Jenny's and my sidekick a little more often than usual. And she is becoming quite good company, although a word to the wise, she will chat up just about anyone she meets and she has no filter...
...Last Friday we were in town grabbing breakfast before the work day began and Avery saw a woman with a little girl about her age. Social butterfly skips on over and says, "Hi. My name is Avery." The woman is both startled and pleased by Avery's forwardness and says "Hello!" To which Avery replies, "I have boogers."
In the past week or so both kids have somehow heard and have started using the f-word, and no, I don't mean the word 'fat'. I am so furious with the world and with my children for having keen ears and frankly, with my husband for not choosing other words when angry (or even not so angry).
Alex and Avery, when you read this when you are older, I hope you have learned the very important lesson that there is almost NO reason for bad language. You are better. You are brighter. You are more educated. You can use wonderfully scathing language that is not beneath you as those common curse words are.
I am writing this one based on the storytelling of Grandma Ruth who joined us on Halloween for a bit. Specifically, the part when the Piazzas had the neighborhood kids over for a party before trick-or-treating. The bigger kids were running around outside, but Avery chose to play in the basement playroom with Grandma.
As Grandma Ruth tells it: Avery is wearing her pink princess costume and in a house where there are no girl toys so she is playing with a football. At least she was able to find a pink football to play with. And she throws the ball to her Grandma and says "Grandma! When I say Gimmel, throw me the ball!"
I guess hearing her brother sing the Hebrew alphabet song has had an impact on her.
Yesterday Tara had a party for the neighborhood kids before we all went trick or treating together. I decided that as long as Avery was not cranky, she could forgo her nap for the day. So after snacks and playing (and cocktails for the adults), we set out about 3 p.m.
Tara and I live five houses apart - there are three houses between us. Avery went to Judy's house, then Elaine's house, then Steve and Cecilia's house. When we reached our house she declared, "Mommy, I tired. I go take nap"
So in she went. Poor Eric had to stay home and watch football and couldn't join the rest of the crew (yes, that's sarcasm). Later, when she woke up, she could not have been more excited about the lollipop, the nickel and the piece of chocolate she received.
The girl has learned at a very young age that it's quality, not quantity that matters!
....I learn something interesting about this family everyday. I could write even one sentence and it would most likely be worthwhile. I should not feel overwhelmed by the thought of needing to write something meaningful everytime I sit down to write.
So sometimes I will just write, hooray, Alex lost his first tooth on September 19, 2010. He is six and a half years old!
So it's happened. Both Alex and Avery have started school for the year - Avery for the first time. And the sense of routine and order in our lives is for the most part calming.
And how are the two little darlings doing in their academic studies this year?
Well, Avery has been rising to the challenge of pre-school. She is not without anxiety; every morning at drop off she tells me that today she does not want to go to school and her tiny hands grips a little more tightly as we approach the classroom door. But then the teachers engage her and she is off and running with nary a tear escaping nor a look back over her shoulder to say goodbye. It's just the way things are and she is fine with that. I look forward to her developing friendships and growing as a person.
It is only week two of school for Alex and Eric and I have already been called in by the teacher. I was upset and worried until I met Ms. L and understood why we were being called in. Alex, not unlike his two parents, likes to talk. And he likes to talk at inappropriate times, like when he is supposed to be quietly working or quietly listening to his teacher. Basically, being quiet doesn't work so well for our exceptionally verbally loquacious boy. Also, the kid likes to get a rise out of others and likes to make them laugh. I am writing this here now so that we can remember to tease Alex later in life. He was asked to create Eric Carle's "Very Hungry Catepillar" with his own illustrations and his own name. At the end of his 'book', instead of becoming a butterfly, he could choose to become anything he wanted. Alex drew a circle with a line down the center and wrote that the very hungry Alex had become a butt (he actually wrote but). While harmless and perhaps a bit funny, we all have the filter to know that this is inappropriate for school. Alex, my love, I hope when you look back on this years from now, that you have developed that filter.
People, no actually, professionals, like teachers and other smart people often tell me that I have kids that are 'emotionally aware'. This is especially true of Alex who will tell you when he is only 'starting' to feel angry or sad or gleeful or whatever other emotions he regularly experiences.
But it goes beyond his own self awareness. Recently, I was driving somewhere with Alex and Avery and for some reason I was furious with him (my anger must have been uber important given that I have no recollection as to what was making me angry at the time.). When I get this angry with him, I don't yell, I just bait him and pick at him and perhaps even over analyze the behavior of his which has incited my fury.
On this particular occassion, Alex says, "I'm just being quiet". I pause in my nasty tirade to ask, "What?" and his response is "I've learned when you are really angry like this that it's just best for me to not talk and to be quiet"
Seriously, that kid isn't just 'emotionally aware,' he is an emotional genius!
Alex and Eric were racing Ben and Gayle on their bikes. Team Schwartz versus Team 'whatever Ben and Gayle's last name is', per Alex. And Alex was thrilled that Team Schwartz won!
I think that is probably the theme of the whole week - a winning vacation for Team Schwartz! Alex learns to dive (and inevitably gets swimmers ear), Avery loves the beach, sunsets on the bay are amazing, Eric cooks (and cooks and cooks). And come Sunday, I was not even ready to go back to work as I usually am after a 24-7 week with the same people, albeit my family.
That's how I know it was so successful, because what's that cliche? Happy mom, happy home.
Getting to know each of my children as individuals is perhaps the best part of getting to be a parent. I am often amazed and impressed by the thoughts that their growing brains process.
Take Avery a few weekends ago. She had woken up from a long afternoon nap and it was just the two of us in the house (it's summertime, so of course the boys were at the pool).
After a short snuggle we came downstairs for a snack - orchard fresh cut up peaches. Avery says, "mmmmmm....deeelicious!" and so I say that we should thank G-d for these delicious peaches and start to say the prayer, boray pre ha'etz.
Avery asks, "Where is G-d?" to which I reply everywhere, inside you, inside me (Alex would tell you in the sky). But she starts to get agitated because if we are 'thanking G-d', then he must be a person so she says, "Mommy, I want G-d to come to our house"
"He is, Avery. He is definitely in this house"
"Where?" she demands. "I want to see him!"
Now, how do you explain the concept of the ephemeral to a 2 year old? Quite frankly, I gave up rather quickly and changed the subject, although I was intent upon savoring this first of many conversations of exactly this kind with my little girl - and of course, I am recording it here for posterity.
The lease is almost up on my car and I am struggling to make a decision. Your daddy just laughed when he read that because he thinks that I can't make any decisions. :)
Working in the field of marketing innovations, I can tell you, however, that no consumer decision is more important than the car you choose. It lets people know something that you want them to think about you.
Hence the struggle. I cannot fathom spending the money on a car that has everything I want and frankly, I don't particularly want people to think that I am the type of person who would spend all that money. But I don't really like the cars that are less money.
So where does that leave us? Well we all might be taking the bus in a few weeks when my lease is up!
I hope you learn good life lessons from me and that you value people more than things.
This seems so everyday and therefore not blog worthy, but I am hoping and praying that ten years from now, Alex's state of obsession will only be a fond memory so I want to make sure to write about it in some way now.
Alex LOVES Star Wars. I mean really really loves and is so involved in the world of Star Wars that he wakes up in the morning talking about the movies and the characters and more or less doesn't stop all day.
And a few days ago he says to me, "You know what's so great about my Spanish name, Alejandro? It has the name Han in the middle of it, just like Han Solo."
So all little boys love Star Wars to some degree, but Alex has taken it to the next level (in a way that only Alex could) and has declared, that it's not just Star Wars, but LucasFilms that he really loves. Indiana Jones (or as Alex calls him in full accent, Dr. Jones), here we come!
Avery is now 2 years and 2 months. She did not get a birthday post, I guess just because our lives are full (in a good way). But I just feel the need to talk about the strong personality that I have been writing about since she joined this world.
So Alex was agreeably potty trained at 2 years 5 months. Do I think Avery will match or beat this age? Absolutely not! And this has nothing to with physical ability. I still hate when I hear moms say that this kid or that kid does "everything in his/her own time" because really doesn't every kid do that? But the sentiment behind this inane statement I believe comes from those independent and strong willed children who will not bend their wills to their parents' request. So maybe Avery will go to her high school prom wearing diapers with a pacifier in her mouth. Maybe! :)
But that's not even what I wanted to write about in terms of her lovely and predictable girl drama. Yesterday, she was demanding dinner while I was finishing up talking to Dawn (Auntie Dawn!). So she was moaning and whining and Dawn asks me what's going on and I say oh, she is just a little bit of drama and a little bit of rock 'n roll (that's a Donny and Marie Osmond reference, just in case the little Schwartzes are reading this many years from now). So anyway, with this comment, Avery bursts into tears, throws her little body face down upon the sofa and exclaims, "I AM NOT A LITTLE BIT OF ROCK 'N ROLL!"
Dear Alex, Tomorrow is your sixth birthday. So much has happened between your turning five and your turning six, that I am especially pleased to be able to capture some of your finest achievements here in typed word.
Let's try to remember...
When you were five you were still (albeit a tiny bit) round, now that you are six, you are long and lean and I wonder how you manage to stand upright with all the growing that you have been doing.
When you were five you were timid to ride a bike even with training wheels on and we wondered if you would ever do so. Now that you are six, you ride you bike without training wheels and you are a speed demon. In fact you learned how to ride your bike without training wheels just a few weeks ago. It was a warm and sunny weekend, a respite from all the cold snowy weather that we had this winter. Being the laissez faire parents that we sometimes are, you had no bike helmet so your dad was trying to teach you how to ride on the sidewalks in front of our house, lest we be judged by our peers had we taken you to the park. And you did pretty well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UrLhBn1g-g
But once we were responsible enough to buy you a helmet and take you to the park, well look out world! You started out weaving on the wide path, nearly took down a couple of dogs and small children :) and then got your bearings and took off. You can even start without your dad giving you a push and are learning to break to slow down and stop (instead of just falling over). Your daddy and I were just so surprised and pleased and proud. We decided to go out to dinner to celebrate and chose the Kosher Nosh. You were so excited that you told our waitress that we were celebrating your learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. Her response? Mazel Tov! (only at the Kosher Nosh!)
When you were five you were kind to your sister, but more or less ignored her. Now that you are six, you actively engage her and teach her all sorts of words and actions and behaviors, most of them good.
When you were five you were the oldest class at the Glen Rock Jewish Center. Now that you are six, you are in Kindergarten at Coleman School. You go happily each day and as I have mentioned in other recent posts you seem to be forming some nice friendships. However, even with these friendships, you seem remarkably kind and do not exclude children.
Your favorite kindergarten activities are Learning Center (a.k.a. library) with Mrs Kaufmann and art with Ms Roche.
You used to battle me when I asked you to pick up a pencil and write your letters or pick up a book and sound out words, but now you attack these tasks with a bit of trepidation and a whole load of pride.
When you were five you always wanted to be with us in the same room playing or reading or watching movies together. Now that you are six, while you still enjoy our company and have not shunned us all together (ahhhh, looking forward to those teenage years!), you thoroughly enjoy spending time building intricate lego structures (both from your imagination and from instructions), playing Wii in the basement, listening music in your room all on your own.
When you were five you did not even try to please us when it came to team sports. For a variety of reasons, you would find excuses or quit mid-play from soccer and tennis and tossing a ball around, etc. Now that you are six, you are not yet a sports superstar, but you love to talk (what a surprise!?!?) about the game and how your team was successful. We look forward to seeing your interest in succeeding as a team continue to grow right along with the number of goals that you will score.
When you were five you were a wonderful, imaginative, sweet, creative boy who could speak and orate like a person twice your age. Now that you are six? Nothing has changed! :)
Happy Birthday to you, Alex. I am so very lucky to be your mom.
Something tiny happened on Friday that feels rather monumental to me. Bank of America dictated that Daddy's cell phone can no longer be part of a family plan. And since Unilever pays for a blackberry for me, there was really no longer any reason for me to hold on to my other cell phone. Saving $50 a month? How can that be monumental, you ask?
My eyes tear up at even having to type that this means, gulp, that I will no longer have a 212 or a 917 or a 646 phone number associated with me. I am fully, gulp, 201. And every time Alex tells me how much he loves the mall (he says mawl, to my horror), I wonder if I have done the two of you a disservice by not trading palacial amounts of space and sending you out to the back yard to play without my needing to carefully watch over you for a 1000 sqft Upper East Side junior 4.
Are you going to grow up great as suburban kids? Probably? But I also know how badly I wanted to move to Manhattan and how Connecticut seemed only bourgie to me and not at all to the life I aspired to. Don't get me wrong, it's an easy and wonderful life where we are, but I do hope that the two of you will experience living in all sorts of cities around the world before you trade it all in for the 'burbs. And I hope that you two feel as anxiety ridden as I do when you have to give up the last vestiges of your city self, like giving up you 646 mobile.
I've waited too long between posts to remember too many of the details of this never ending winter, but that's okay because one of the things that I am most proud of with regards to my parenting capabilities is that of being able to live in the moment and truly enjoy my time with my kids. It's not about posing for the perfect picture to prove to everyone that we have baked cookies and kicked a soccer ball around, rather, it's about laughing and singing and having dance parties in the family room, even if we are the only ones who know about it.
If I think back four months ago to Halloween and juxtapose it with what I think of you kids right now, you have both grown so much it amazes me. You are taller and stronger, yes, but also just so much more 'adult'.
Alex, you now know how to do everything from read time (and know when you may NOT come into my room because it is TOO early), to get your own breakfast, get yourself dressed and ready for school. Oh and school! I am so proud of you for learning how to read and write and add and subtract and everything that you should be learning in kindergarten. You have begun to form new friendships and I can't wait to see how life continues to unfold for you.
Avery, my little talker. Your brain decided to let everything you have been collecting on the inside for the past year come on out. You are communicating wonderfully (if a little bit too forcefully at times). Yes, you continue to show us that independent personality of yours. Sometimes it angers me, but most of the time it just makes me laugh at how much you are like your daddy.
Please don't grow up too fast. I love that you are both my wonderful little kids that depend on me.