Sunday, January 15, 2017

Delaney's Li'l Old Lady Shoes

The other day I fell down a rabbit hole of purging and organizing in my house, and I came across these tiny shoes of Delaney's. I smiled as I remembered the day I got them.

Delaney was almost 14 months old and a brand new walker. I decided it was time to get real shoes, an upgrade from the Robeez. (Silly me, not knowing that Robeez or bare feet were the best thing for a brand new walker. I was such a clueless new mom.)

I took her to Stride Rite and my heart skipped a beat at the sight of that entire wall of cute baby girl shoes. The salesperson measured her feet -- 3 1/2 extra-wide. I asked him to bring out every style they had in that size. How was I ever going to choose? This was going to be so much fun!

He disappeared into the back room and came out with one box. There was exactly one type of shoe in the store that came in 3 1/2 XW, and when he took them out I was so disappointed. Plain white. No bows, no sparkles, no fun little details. They looked orthopedic. They were almost identical to the very first baby shoes I had ever worn myself. But the soles of these ones were thicker, and there were little flowers on the heel so that was something.
Thanks to Quicken, I know I paid $26.99 for these beauties. I literally did not have a clue.
It's a wonder she ever learned to walk on those little mozzarella balls she had for feet!
She wore those old lady shoes well, though.
She was wearing them when we drove to the top of Mt. Washington. It was SO COLD on top of that mountain. And look, I see bare skin on that poor girl. We took the picture above just before we got in our car to drive back down. Before that she had been in a pack on Tim's back. I don't know what I was thinking when I set Delaney down on her feet on the gravel beside our car. It's bad enough to not be able to feel the ground through the thick soles of your shoes, but by this point she couldn't even feel her feet! She fell right down on her face like a domino. I really don't know how she survived me.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Joey: 13 Months

I brought him to the doctor for his 12-month checkup about a week ago, and the doctor was a bit concerned about his growth. He measured 28.54 inches (8th percentile) and weighed 19.62 pounds ( 6th percentile). He had a printout of his growth curve in his hand, and I could see how the line just leveled off at the top. This didn't come as any kind of surprise since I've been complaining for awhile that he doesn't eat as well or as often as he should. It's difficult to get him eating solid foods, but then a lot of times he acts like he can't be bothered to nurse either! Nor does he want a bottle or a sippy of milk. It's maddening. A more stubborn child I have never had. I feel like I'm always trying to get him to eat or nurse. Lately -- and it's subject to change from one day to the next -- he's been liking spaghetti and meatballs and hummus. He hates cereal of all kinds. He won't even snack on dry Cheerios or Chex; just throws them around and sometimes puts one in his mouth only to spit it out.

The doctor said that lack of weight gain is pretty common at his age, but the height is more of a concern since it would indicate some "caloric restriction." Then he asked how he compared to my other kids. I remembered that at Delaney's 12-month checkup, her pediatrician had told me that she'd dropped off her growth curve. I pulled out her growth chart (yes, I keep all the kids' immunization records handy in my purse, for what reason I'm not exactly sure; and the girls' ones from Massachusetts have their growth charts in the back.). I took a look and then said, "Wow, Delaney was actually a little bigger. And Delaney's a peanut." 
This was first thing in the morning. I don't know why he's licking her face but it's funny.
I have to say this conversation was so much easier to have as a veteran mom of four. Knowing he knew that I've managed to keep three older kids alive for as long as I have, made me feel much more secure and less like I was getting a bad grade for not growing my baby big enough. Even if I kind of was.

I told him about what a finicky eater he is and I took him up on his offer of a referral for a nutritional counselor, saying, "My kids could all use that; they're all picky." I'll take him for another checkup in three months. In the meantime grow, Joey, grow!

So how is our runt doing otherwise?
He just got over his first cold. It was a rough few days, especially since the worst of it started right as Tim left on a work trip. Sick babies are the saddest. He was feverish, sleepy but not sleeping well, coughing, nose running, all standard cold stuff. I had to use the Nosefrida on him a few times, and his terrified cries would wake the whole house up. As of yesterday and today, I definitely think he's recovered but he is still so moody. He demands to be held almost every waking moment and cries whenever I'm out of his direct line of sight. Tim and I think he must have gotten used to the sick baby treatment and now he's malingering. 
He took his first steps on December 23, while we were staying at my mom and dad's. He is still not walking other than taking practice steps here and there, usually when I stand him up and hold my arms out for him to walk to me. And ONLY when he's in the mood for it.

When he is playful and content, he is so nice to be around and so much fun to watch.

He puts things away now, or at least tries to, in addition to pulling them out. A few days ago I looked over and saw him with Timmy's wallet and a handful of dollar bills, and I observed him for a little while instead of just taking them away. He wasn't ripping them to pieces; he was trying to make them go back in the wallet. He was concentrating so hard, like 'I know these go in here, but I just don't know how.'
He loves to point at things, especially overhead lights. When he does, I say, "That's the light," or "Those are the lights." He says, "Tsss.."

He does a "downward dog" and laughs when I come look at him through his legs.
His siblings are obsessed with him and they are always vying with one another for the honor of being the one to take him out of my arms the minute they get off the bus in the afternoon. If it's a nice day, Annie takes him outside to play.

When he's ready for bed he rubs his eyes and waves 'night-night'. It is adorable. Just a couple nights ago I skipped the 10:00 dream feed for the first time, and he slept as well as ever. So no more dream feed. He got to the point where he didn't want to be bothered with it anymore, and I was getting sick of it too since sometimes I'd rather go to bed at 9 or even 8:30. I just worried that he still needed the extra feeding since, you know, I've got to feed him at every possible opportunity. He's still taking his morning nap usually, for about an hour and 20 minutes, although he fights it sometimes. His afternoon nap is usually and hour-and-a-half long. Those naps have been saving my butt, especially on his really moody days. He still sleeps in his pack 'n play on the other side of the guest bed. That was not the plan, but he still needs his own room and that's going to be the way it is at least until we move. 

He might drive us (mostly me) crazy, but we sure do love our Joe!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Karen and Matt Visit

Tim's sister Karen and her fiance Matt came down for a quick New Year's visit. It was so nice to have them there in that lull between getting back from Cincinnati and everyone going back to school/work. But it's nice to have them around anytime! We love our family visitors.
When will we see these two again? At their wedding? At their new house on the lake? At our next house? Time will tell.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas in Ohio Part 2: Schwartz Was Getting His

Relieved of Joey and all his angst, I slumbered for as long as I was allowed to, until a little before 8. While I was asleep three excited kids ate donuts and waited to open their presents. Tim let them open their stocking stuffers. They got some good ones. Santa upped his stocking stuffer game this year. Delaney was obviously thrilled to receive the Land of Stories fairy tale collection. She has read almost the whole Land of Stories series, which are very entertaining books about the adventures of two kids who accidentally find themselves in the fairy tale world. This is a book of the original fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen and the brothers Grimm, that the series is based on. All are retold by the Land of Stories author Chris Colfer. I think this is the first fairy tale book we've had in this family, and that seems strange to me now that I think about it.
The gift in the picture below was for the two of them. It was a set of walkie-talkies. The boys also got one. They all got books, Annie got a sewing kit, and they all got Marine t-shirts or a onesie, Joey got a bath toy, and that's all I can remember. Timmy probably had a little Lego set in there too. I can't remember what else Delaney got.
The joy on that face..
When he couldn't hold them off any longer, Tim went down to get me, stuck a coffee in my hand and plopped me on the couch so the kids could see what else Santa got them.
Delaney was overjoyed to unwrap the little Melissa & Doug stable full of horses. She told Grandy, "I gave one to Toys for Tots and now I get one!" Those horses were a really big deal to her for some reason. She wrote a name for each horse on the labels that were provided for each of the stalls. She named each one of them after some kind of food. She needs to never grow up. She also got Star Wars bed sheets and a big BB-8 pillow. An American Girl Wellie Wishers doll that was on her wishlist was her third big gift from Santa. 
Annie got an American Girl hairstyling caddy that was on her wishlist. Fixing hair -- be it her own, mine or her doll's -- is her favorite thing right now. Since she loves hair so much Santa also got her a personalized organizer for her own hair things. Her third gift was a weaving loom that comes with yarn and instructions for how to make a scarf, a purse, and who knows what else. She got that very same loom from Grandy the night before. I'm thinking Santa and Grandy were of the same mind: Annie needs to be busy.

Timmy's three big Santa gifts were a remote control truck, a big Lego Star Wars set, and a Razor scooter which Santa had to bring to our house in SC. Santa brought Joey a set of mops and brooms since he loves to use ours so much; one of those toys where you pull the lever and hear animal sounds; and a pull-along puppy.

That afternoon we went to the Christmas party for my dad's side of the family. I took a few pictures, mostly of kids draped over furniture, looking hung over from the night before. We stayed about a couple hours and then we were done for the day. It was a pretty laid back Christmas Day and that's the way we like it.
This little angel is always sleepy.
At some point that day, Tim and I talked it over and decided that we would cut our trip a day short. The day after Christmas would be our last day because by this point Joey had decided he was done sleeping at my parents' house. Bedtime was a long drawn-out hour-and-a-half of crying, with Tim and I taking turns trying to pat him and cajole him to sleep. He was up again and again throughout the night, with him or me desperately doing whatever it took short of a dose of Benadryl to get him back to sleep. It was really stressful. My mom likes to say in regard to that one baby who really gives his/her parents a run for their money, "Schwartz was getting his." (Remember the line from A Christmas Story? "Three blocks away, Schwartz was getting his." It had nothing to do with a baby, but it's still fitting. WE GOT OURS alright.) I was so glad to be there for Christmas but for the sake of our sanity we were going to need to be heading back soon. Tim got 95% of our stuff loaded into the car between that night and the next morning, again without my parents even being aware. Swift and silent.

We had a great last day. The high was in the 70s and we took a walk around the lake. Whodathunk we'd be outside with no coats on the day after Christmas? Crazy Cincinnati weather. All I know is it was so good for us all to get out of the house and get some exercise instead of staring at one another inside my parents' house (although that isn't so bad either). Tim stayed home and put Joey down for a nap.
Timmy's truck ran out of battery predictably during the first part of our mile-and-a-half walk. His cousin Miles said, "Maybe my mom has room in her stroller." Timmy told him, "But my dad said if anyone else carried it, we'd have to donate it when we get home." He really liked that truck and he carried it the whole way. Miles was very encouraging.
After we got back we congregated on the front porch in a way that must have looked very curious to the neighbors. Or maybe it's not so curious since they're probably used to my parents and the constant stream of kids and grandkids coming and going. But if I looked across my street and saw this, it would be hard not to stare, I have to admit.
At around 6 the next morning, our little alarm clock woke us up and it was time to go. I watched the robed figures of my parents standing in the doorway as we backed out, and as always I wished that we didn't have to live so far away. 

Once the sun was up I picked up my January book club book, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, and to my delight I found it nearly impossible to put down. At the last meeting, the book club leader had asked us all to write a title on a piece of paper for her to draw one so that she wouldn't be the one picking something we'd all hate. I wrote down that title because it had been highly recommended, but thought it sounded so stupid. It reminded me of that song from the '90s, Truly Madly Deeply. Remember that nauseating song? So she picked it out of a basket and read it out loud, and then my neighbor who was sitting next to me said loudly enough for everyone to hear, "That was you, right?" Ugh. I'd been hoping to remain anonymous in case it really stunk. A few days later I went to order it from Amazon and saw that it was only available in hardcover. I alerted the book club leader to this, as she had told us she never wanted us to have to buy hardcover, but she said something like, "Yeah, sorry, I should have known that. Happy reading!" I was even willing to pick something else, but I can tell that for our book club leader, the choosing of the book is a very nerve-wracking thing for some reason, and she was unwilling to go through it again for this particular month.

I'm actually happy to be taking the credit for this one. It is SO. GOOD. I ate it up. I don't know if it was worth buying in hardcover even with the $5 coupon, as I am a huge cheapskate when it comes to books, but man, it is a good read.

And that's it. Another uneventful drive home, and now Tim's sister Karen and her fiance Matt will be here in a few hours. This Christmas break is flying by. Oh, and Joey's back to sleeping through the night. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas in Ohio Part 1: Florence Y'all!

Tim took the Big Three 45 minutes away to see Rogue 1 and have lunch out, and he is expecting that I'm going to get all kinds of things accomplished while he's gone: ornaments taken off of the deader than dead Christmas tree, new toys put away (or hidden away for later), suitcases unpacked, and clothes washed.. But when Joey is napping I can't seem to be bothered to do anything productive. Recording our family's memories -- that's productive, isn't it?

We drove up to Cincinnati last Wednesday to spend Christmas with my side of the family. It took us just a little over 12 hours with all our stops and an hour-long stop at Cracker Barrel for dinner included. It was an easy day and we were all in good spirits as our anticipation built. This was the first time we'd spent Christmas there in four years. The last couple times we've gone have been either spring or summer. In Florence, KY there's a water tower with "Florence Y'all" painted on it, and it is always a sight for sore eyes because it means only a half hour to go. I gleefully texted my mom and sister Grace, "Florence y'all!" as soon as I saw it. [That water tower is a landmark for everyone else in the family, greeting them at the end of a long day's journey back from a beach vacation. My sister Grace commented to me in a text that when she sees it she feels like she could just jump out the window and run the rest of the way.] Even better was when we came up over a hill and saw the downtown skyline all lit up and sparkling, and the kids were oohing and ahhing. Funny the things I used to take for granted but are so special to my kids and now me since I see it through their eyes now.
We stayed with my mom and dad in their beautiful little old house that is so cozy and welcoming, especially at Christmastime. Delaney, Annie and Timmy slept in the room upstairs, and Tim, Joey and I stayed in the finished basement. We were hoping to keep Joey and his nighttime noisiness isolated from everyone else this way, but we had to laugh because every step and every sneeze can be heard by everyone no matter where you are in that house. My parents still don't know how Tim managed to get three kids up and dressed and out of there at 6:30 in the morning without either of them hearing it. You almost need to be a ghost to accomplish such a feat. That was the first of many mornings for Tim's little breakfast club formed out of necessity because of Joey's restless nights and early mornings, resulting in my need for a little extra time for shuteye. Oh, Joe.

The day after we got there, my sister Grace had the honor of pulling out Annie's first baby tooth. We were all so excited. She is seven years and seven months old, and I was starting to wonder who'd lose a tooth first, Annie or Timmy. Annie's permanent tooth was already growing in behind it so it's a good thing that tooth is finally gone. 
I heart Christmas tree bokeh.
Later that day the plan was for a bunch of us to meet at The Christmas Ranch to walk around, look at all the lights, maybe have some hot chocolate and take a train ride.. But my brothers-in-law couldn't get out of work until at least 5:30, so we couldn't meet there until about 6:30 as it's about 45 minutes away. To our dismay we saw a very long line to get in -- like a long line of cars waiting on the road and it was not moving. Grace and Joey were the first to turn around and leave after a good half hour of waiting and not getting anywhere, with little Elise crying in the backseat. Tim and I hesitated because we didn't know what Mom and Dad and Damien were doing and they weren't returning my texts or calls. We kept inching along and wondering what do we do, what do we do. At last I saw a flurry of texts on my screen. Mom and Dad had turned around as well, and my sister Anna and her family had been warned away too. Mom urged us to "Save yourselves!" (lol) But we'd gone through the gate and there was no going back for us. We shrugged and said, "Well, we don't have anywhere else to be, do we?" So we decided to make the most of it.

We got a big old dose of winter that night. It was fun to wear hats and gloves even if it's maddening trying to keep track of it all. Joey was not enthused by the whole winter wonderland thing, but the other three liked it enough. I was appreciative of the flexibility of our kids, enduring that long wait in the car and the uncertainty about whether we'd end up going there or not. I was going to be so disappointed for them since we don't get opportunities to do things like this, living where we do.
The next day, we had another Brady kid reach a milestone. Joey stood on his own and took a couple steps! I do not have a picture. He'd do it, then we'd try to get him to do it again for a picture, and he'd refuse. What else would you expect? Since then he's been taking a few steps here and there, but he'd still rather crawl for the most part. He crawls fast.
We spent the day with this little guy too, Sophie's son Damien.
The girls went to Scotty and Faith's house to make cookies with their cousins Aspen and Jaden, while Mom took Timmy and Damien over to Anna's to play with her boys. That evening we had a fun kid-free dinner out with Scotty and Faith.
On Christmas Eve Annie suckered me into walking them to UDF (United Dairy Farmers - a gas station/convenience store/ ice cream chain in OH, KY and IN) to get milkshakes. As if we weren't going to have enough treats on Christmas Eve. My first job was at a UDF and I love taking my kids there now. It was also a nice, unseasonably warm day to get out into the fresh air and take a walk. So we checked the UDF box for this visit.

My mom and dad wanted me to look through some of the photo albums they'd acquired when my grandma (dad's mom) moved out of her house. There were some treasures in there. I love to look at old family photos and I snapped phone pictures of a few of my favorites. I had never seen most of these before.
Who is this apparent 15-year-old who was allowed to join the Navy? This is my dad's dad, Paul. He and my grandma (Betty) were something like childhood sweethearts. It's a cute story of how they got together. They had been neighbors all their lives, but he was several years older than her so it was a long time before he considered her as anything besides the little kid next door. She told me years ago that one day as a young girl she was doing dishes when she looked out the window and saw him in his family's yard, home on leave and wearing that uniform. She said, "That's the man I'm going to marry." It was a few more years before she grew up, he got home from the war and that dream came true. They had four kids and a great life together until he passed away from cancer in 1975.
She doesn't look like an Uncle Walter.
Dad and his sister Linda. I see Timmy in her dimpled smile.
We got to enjoy Christmas Eve Mass sans Joey because we left him with Mom and Dad. We got there in time for a seat too. It was amazing. After that we went to Scotty and Faith's. I took a lot of pictures there, and it's so hard to whittle it down to a few but I'll try.
Come on, Annie!
The newest addition, Anna and Robert's seven-week-old daughter Lizzy
My aunt Liz and nephew Roman
It started with the seven us: Sophie (the baby), Dad, Mom, Anna, Grace, me (the oldest) and Scotty 
Suddenly I looked at a clock and realized it was 9 p.m. 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve with a baby who was taking an hour and a half to fall asleep since we'd arrived at Mom and Dad's! Christmas Eve with still a few things to do to prepare for Santa! I alerted Tim and we gathered up our brood and all our presents and headed out.

Santa preparations took us almost until midnight when all was said and done. We had our roughest night yet with Joey unwilling to go to sleep, unwilling to stay asleep, and up for the day at the ridiculous hour of 4:30. We lay there in the dark listening to his cries that wouldn't stop no matter what we did and Tim said, "Where am I going to go this early on Christmas morning?" Thank goodness for Dunkin Donuts. Some would argue that no one ought to be open on Christmas morning, but for keeping the house quiet so everyone else could sleep, it was a godsend.

This is how Tim found Delaney Christmas morning. She had come down to see the presents and was too excited to go back upstairs, so she fell asleep while keeping vigil with Georgie.