Saturday, February 18, 2017

Date Night

Alternatively titled: "In Which We Discover that After Nearly 10 Years of Marriage, We Are in Fact Strangers"

A friend of mine alerted me about a week or two ago, to a "Staying Connected" marriage workshop on base to take place on a Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30. Dinner would be provided, there would be games, and the whole thing was free. It sounded like a win to me so I signed us up and booked Ben next door to watch the kids.

Tim and I don't get out by ourselves nearly enough. I think the last time was over Christmas when we went out to dinner with Scotty and Faith. We should do this more often. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to try to pick out an outfit that's "casual, so I don't look like I tried too hard.. but a little dressed up .. with just the right jewelry.." I even successfully curled my hair for the first time. I finally found what works -- a curling wand! People, you have no idea what an accomplishment this was for me. I had just told me girls that my goal by age 40 was to learn how to curl my hair. With two years and four months to go, I have achieved it.

We snapped a selfie by the boat dock before going in. As soon as we walked in we were told to go right to the buffet line and get dinner. I liked that -- no messing around, just get your dinner and start eating. I liked where this night was heading.
We ate our spaghetti and salad and chatted with other couples there, some of whom we knew already and some we didn't.

I knew there was going to be a Newlywed Game - type thing, but in hindsight I really think we should have studied. "What's your favorite color?" "What's our best memory?" "What is it about me that drives you nuts?" Because from the very first question, I knew we were sunk. It was, "What does your spouse know the most about? A) Food Network B) HGTV, C) What Not to Wear, D) DIY network and E) something else I forget. Tim needed to answer the question about me. The problem is I don't watch any of these channels with any regularity, and don't know much about any of the subject matter. But I like Chip and Joanna Gaines, and I know Tim knows that so I wrote HGTV on my little whiteboard. Tim picked Food Network. Boo.

As the game went on and the 14 other couples kept answering questions (many of them correctly!), my anxiety started ramping up. Please let us get one point, just one! There were couples who were so in sync with their answers and as they grinned at each other from across the room I started to feel like, I kind of hate you right now. Then there were a few others who were having the same kind of luck as us, and getting mad at each other. But I couldn't even be mad at Tim for not knowing the correct answer to "What do you wear that drives your spouse crazy?" Nothing he wears really drives me crazy. I wrote down the ratty long-sleeve cotton race shirt he still wears that's 10 years old. I had recently said to him as I was folding it, "I can't believe you still have this." But his answer was, "She hates when I wear my shoes in the house." That's true, but not what occurred to me in that moment. Darn.

We got one lousy point out of a possible eight. The question was, "Which superpower would your spouse want? A) Superman speed, B) Hulk strength, C) x-ray vision, and a couple other things. Initially I wrote down that he would want superman speed, but as the men started saying hulk strength one after another, I changed my answer. We got it. Phew.

There were two couples who did worse than us: one had only been married seven months, and the other was missing the husband until the last five minutes of the game. I can't even tell you how uncomfortable this was. We kept shooting wide-eyed looks at each other, like 'WTH!'

There was only one answer I was peeved at Tim for not getting right: the one about my ideal date night. The possible choices were A) Picnic and bike ride, B) Pizza and move, C) Candlelight dinner, D) something else and E) Going to bed early. I had just been telling him as we were getting ready to go out about how I missed our date nights in. The kids would go to bed at 7, and actually go to sleep then too, it was amazing. He'd cook a delicious better-than-restaurant quality dinner and we would eat it by candlelight at the kitchen table. It was like all the best parts of going out to a restaurant without worrying about driving, parking, being disappointed by an expensive meal, finding a babysitter, etc. He picked something about comfy clothes and wine -- both things I like! -- just not the best of the choices given. He was like, crap.

It was safe to say that even though we had arrived that night with no tension in our relationship, it was now thick in the air and all around us. The one thing this workshop was missing was alcohol, and I could have really used a drink. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

The toughest question of all was one that most couples could not agree on an answer to. It was, "What did he do that made you laugh the hardest?" Oh, man. So like I said, nearly everyone was getting it wrong, even the adorable Couple Number 1 who had gotten almost everything right. That should have made me relax. But the wife half of that couple told the cutest story about how she had had an allergic reaction to something, and had itching, and sent him out to get her something and he'd come back with Preparation H. Her husband laughed about that and then revealed his answer that was something else equally hilarious. And it went on, with every couple sharing some really funny thing he'd done that made them laugh. And although Tim makes me laugh on the regular, I could not think of one good story. There was not one good story. With us it's all inside jokes, 'you had to be there' kind of stuff.

I racked my brain as it came closer to my turn, and the best I could come up with was, "Tim and I laugh about a lot of things that make sense only to us. One thing I could think of is that we like to tease each other about how "I only started dating you because you slept under my porch all night." But I butchered the whole explanation and Tim tried to help me. The line was from the movie Up and it was, "I was hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I come in?" Tim's answer: "I have no idea."

UGH.

I felt considerable relief when that game was over. Then the leader passed out booklets for us to write answers to questions about ourselves and our marriage in. I found myself stumped by all of them, and I think Tim felt the same way. We kept sneaking looks at each other's answers. But there was to be no grade! And no sharing of any of the answers, so I just crumpled it up inside my purse at my first opportunity.

After that there was a Valentine themed craft for us to do, and it is the cheesiest, but kind of fun. In the example she showed us, the 'V' in love was supposed to be someone's footprints. But adult footprints are not cute, amiright? Most of us quickly figured out there was no way for a handprint and two footprints to fit on this canvas. Everyone did their own thing instead, and here's what we did. Our handprints, one on top of the other. Aw...
We got a little more than we bargained for with this date night, but we'll probably do something like this again. It was fun overall even if some parts were a little painful. We are going to study each other like crazy for the next time so we can be the nauseating couple who know everything about each other. Smooches and high-fives, lol!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Joey: 14 Months

We now have a toddler!

He finally, on the very day he turned 14 months, decided he likes to walk more than he likes to crawl. I thought he was my latest walker, but I just checked my blog archives and read Timmy's 14-month update. Timmy was still not walking at that time, so it's just another reason I'm so glad I write these things down. My memory stinks! Reading through that update, it looks like Joey is Timmy all over again. The kisses and high-fives on request, the climbing everything, and the phasing out of the morning nap .. check, check and check.
As I type this he is having a morning nap, but that has been more and more seldom an occurrence. For one thing, life often interferes and a morning nap isn't possible. But half the time, whenever we are home, he refuses to take one. My favorite baby sleep book says that most kids don't give up their morning naps until they're about 16 months old. But it also says all kids are different, and I already knew that.:) So I am holding onto it for a little while longer, but it is soon to be a thing of the past. Just like I said in Timmy's update, it is really better for me once the morning nap goes away. I get out and do things more in the morning, with that nap excuse gone.
The one glaring difference between Joey and Timmy at this age has to do with nighttime sleep. Timmy slept from 7 to 7. Joey goes to bed easily at 7, but he usually wakes up once or twice in the middle of the night, crying like someone pinched him. I go in there, pat this back, whisper sweet nothings, and then tiptoe out. Then several minutes go by and I hear him crying again, I do the same thing, and then it might even happen one more time. He's allowed to get up for the day at 6, but oftentimes wakes up crying hysterically at 5:40. Why, Joey, why?
He babbles and points at things all the time, and I talk to him about all the things he points to with his questioning chirps. He said his first word, "Hello," while holding my phone to his ear. I found that funny considering he hardly ever sees me use it for talking. I don't like talking on the phone much.

He's doing a much better job eating this month. He's kind of picky and he still doesn't do well with certain textures, but I can get him to eat something every meal. I give him a fruit and veggy pouch every day with either lunch or dinner to make sure he's getting enough of those because he may or may not be able to handle the texture of the real thing. A long-time believer of baby-led weaning, I never wanted to get into the habit of giving him purees. The other kids didn't need them. But it turns out they have their place. When I have a little guy who's not getting as many calories as is optimal, not eating as many kinds of solid foods as I'd like, and I'm trying to cut back on nursing at the same time .. for all of these reasons I am finding them useful. Those pouches are the easiest thing too -- he just sucks it all down. I foresee taking many of those pouches with me on a long plane ride in the future.
As I already mentioned, everything I talk about comes back to Okinawa sooner or later. When it comes to Joey, it is usually with a feeling of horror that I remember that this moody kid who is most manageable (really ONLY manageable) at home in his familiar routines, is going with us. We are going to be displaced for weeks and living out of suitcases before we settle down into a home there. Deep breaths.. I might as well face it, I'm scared. I keep pushing it out of my mind and then it keeps coming to me. 

Between now and then I am looking to cut back nursing to no more than three times a day, but preferably two. He does not nurse much while traveling, and I do not want to pump on a plane or in an airport. This week I've dropped the dinnertime session, and that leaves four times: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before the afternoon nap, and before bed.

This morning we all had to go to the dental clinic for exams as part of overseas screening. All the dentist wanted to do was look in Joey's mouth and count his teeth. That was the extent of the exam; he didn't even make him sit in a chair. But Joey wouldn't have it. He buttoned up his lips like nothing to see here. I'm guessing that when he finally does have to start visiting the dentist for cleanings and exams, it's going to be about as much fun as it was getting his hair cut the first time. *eyeroll* But at least there will be no scissors involved.
Just wanted to throw in one of my shots from our photo session on the back of the truck:)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Adventure Awaits


Right before Christmas I proudly posted this on Facebook to share with one and all:

This week we got some news we've been waiting a long time for -- Tim's been selected for promotion!! I'm SO proud of him and looking forward to seeing where our Marine Corps adventure takes us to next.

It was not a big surprise at least to me; it was just a matter of waiting for what felt like weeks and weeks to get the news. But the promotion was not a given and it's a huge deal to us. That was the first piece of news we needed, and it was great. I basked in the heaps of congratulations that came our way because I am so proud of him and his accomplishments, and I love seeing him be rewarded for his years of hard work.

Then we settled in to wait for the next big piece of news we would get: the part about where the adventure would take us next. We -- or at least I -- were pretty confident we'd be headed back to eastern North Carolina. Tim's friend who is in the know, was certain this would be the case. This was going to be the logical next step in Tim's career, because the next thing he's hoping to get is command of a unit there. I just couldn't wait to have those orders in hand so we could apply to base housing on Cherry Point.

Tim said to me somewhere along the way that the people getting orders to Okinawa, Japan would be the first to receive orders since they needed the most time to prepare. He said once those people got their orders, we'd know for sure we weren't going there. He wasn't ruling out the chance of getting Okinawa orders mostly because in his 22-year career, he's never gone there before. He kept telling me not to count my (Cherry Point) chickens before they hatched, but I was looking into the schools, moving into the house in my mind, and imagining being a half hour away from my favorite beaches again. I kept saying to him, "Have the Okinawa people gotten their orders yet? What's taking so long?"

A few weeks ago while he was away on a trip, I got a FaceTime call from him right after I put the kids to bed. Our conversation went something like this:

"How did your day go?"
"Eh, just a pretty typical day."
"Are you ready for me to change that?"
"Do you have some news for me?"
"Konichiwa."
"We're going to Japan?"
"Yep."
"Ohmygosh, hahahaha...."

Then Delaney and Timmy came running out and said, "We're going to Japan?" Tim mentioned not having wanted to tell them yet and I said, "You shouldn't have called at 8:15 then!"

So we talked for a little while about it, mostly about how we'd be so happy for this opportunity except that it means being so far away from our families. We also knew that just the logistics of moving there are staggering and mind-boggling. Then there's getting used to being in another country, in a completely unfamiliar area. Tim was taking the news harder than I was, because what it means for his career is uncertain. It's not that it's a bad thing, more that it's a detour, and he was feeling a little like WTH, Marine Corps? He hadn't seen it coming. But he says he had kind of seen it coming.

I asked him if it was a sure thing, and he said the monitor had told him it definitely was. I reminded him of what happened last time he got orders to Okinawa, and how nothing is a sure thing.. but everything works out in the end the way it's supposed to.

I felt like I took the news very much in stride considering how completely out of the realm of possibility I'd thought Okinawa was (hahahahaha, says anyone who's been a Marine or been married to one). I was just like, "OK, this is what's going to happen. We're going to make the most of it!" Then that night lying in bed I could. not. sleep. My mind started going a million miles an hour. I started to really feel sad for what was not to be after all; and then I tried wrapping my head around most likely three years of not seeing our families in Massachusetts and Ohio. Ugh. Impossible. Why do we have to go so far away?

A couple days later I shared this to Facebook:

Well, the suspense is over for us. Okinawa, Japan it is! This comes as a little bit of a shock. Not sure what I think about this. Japan is a long way away. As soon as we told Delaney she said, "Sushi. And slides." Oh boy!

And the comments I got on that post blew me away in the best possible way. Friends who are there and/or have been there chimed in telling me about things to see and do, how the schools are top-notch, the beaches are beautiful -- so much great stuff. Most of all, just being reminded again about who is already there, friends I look forward to seeing again, was so reassuring. This is something we never would have chosen for ourselves, but since the Marine Corps chose it for us, I was ready to embrace this amazing opportunity and take it for what it's worth. I love to throw the term "adventure" around when I think I'm moving five hours north to somewhere we've already been twice, but now we're looking at a no-kidding adventure. Especially with four kids in tow!

Since that day, every conversation we have either begins or ends with Okinawa. There is a long process for getting there, and we're now in the thick of it -- lots of paperwork, medical and dental stuff, passports.. I feel like it's eating up huge chunks of my time. Not to mention we are making lots of plans for places we want to go and loved ones we want to see before our August departure.

So that's where we are now. The Marine Corps threw us a curveball, but I think everything's going to be OK.

Monday, January 30, 2017

10 Free Things I Did During The Longest Month

~Of which I am inordinately proud~

January is always the longest month of the year. January is an opportunity (yes, let's call it that) to let our finances recover from Christmas, and for this year, to get on track for meeting some ambitious saving and giving goals. We might have one or two other spending freezes during the year, but January is guaranteed. We say to ourselves that we are not spending any money unless it's necessary. As far as 'necessary' goes, we ask ourselves how much do we need it? Can it wait till February? There isn't a whole lot that we need that can't wait: food, diapers and a payment for a beach vacation this summer summed it up. It's pretty miserly and not much fun at all, but I always know it's coming and I'd better make the most of it. This month, any time I did something that didn't cost us any money, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. I also took credit for some things Tim did. We're in this together.

If I see it all down in list form, I know I'm going to feel really proud of myself and maybe it will give me inspiration to do even better next January. So here goes -- things I did this month that were free or nearly free.

1) I (we) used gift cards. Christmas gift cards really take the edge off of no-spend January, and we typically get a couple Amazon gift cards between the two of us. Tim also got one for the Marine Corps Exchange, and he got himself some of his favorite Under Armour stuff as well as a Yeti mug that he's been complaining about incessantly, and spilling his coffee out of it left and right. I also earned $20 worth of Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks (my referral link). If I were smart, I'd have hoarded them all and waited till these last few unbearable days of the month to use them, but I don't have that kind of restraint. I don't even remember what I bought but it must have been good!

2) We did haircuts at home. Tim cuts his own hair and Timmy's, and when Joey gets a little bigger he'll do his too. (In the interest of full disclosure, I attempted to DIY Joey's haircut. I messed it up and it then became necessary to have my hairdresser fix it asap. My one frugal fail!)  Neither of the girls need haircuts right now, but I have given each of them a simple trim in the past. With a family our size we can save all kinds of money doing haircuts at home. Of course I spend enough money at my hair salon to more than make up for it, I guess. But not this month!

3) I decluttered and organized our stuff. I went room by room, closet by closet. I rediscovered a couple things I loved, such as the the colorful little rooster Tim brought back from Portugal. I found the perfect place to display it in our little office area. I filled up bags and boxes for Goodwill and a clothing swap. I took the kids clothing bins that had just a few things in them, and I condensed them into one or two. I took inventory of what kids' clothes we had, and what sizes and seasons they were. I got rid of nearly everything the girls outgrew, and of Timmy's outgrown clothes, I only saved the things I really, really like for Joey. I noted that we now have several empty storage bins, as I wasn't always one get rid of everything. But those empty bins will all be nice to have when we move this summer (to Japan, OMG!!), and they nest so they don't take up much space themselves.
Delaney didn't like it when I bought her soccer cleats that weren't pink, but I knew I was going to want to be able to pass them down to the boys.
4) I participated in a clothing swap. A friend down the street organized a clothing swap for women and kids. I found a lot of things my girls had outgrown or things of mine that weren't working out for me anymore, and brought them in. Then we all got to enjoy shopping for free, and everything not taken by the end of the night was donated. I struck out with kids' stuff; I couldn't find anything for them besides a couple pairs of shorts for Joey to grow into. But I got a few things for myself, my favorite being a black Old Navy vest that hadn't even been worn. Someone had bought it in the wrong size and hadn't bothered to return it. I contributed so much more than I ended up bringing home, and that's really a good thing.

5) We went to the Port Royal Maritime Center. The kids have many random days off throughout the year, and while I'm glad they have so many opportunities to recharge their batteries, I'm often at a loss as to what to do with them all day. Annie looked up this little place nearby on my phone and when I saw that admission was free and it got great reviews, I decided we'd give it a try. I'm so glad we did. It was just a tiny place, only a few rooms, and if we hadn't had the guided tour we probably would have only lasted there 15-20 minutes. But we had a volunteer who took us around and engaged the kids in discussions about the ecology of the Port Royal Sound, the history of the area and the amazing animals that live there. We all learned so much, and the kids even got to get hands on some of the animals. A typical big city aquarium experience doesn't compare to this.
We learned that the horseshoe crab has blue blood that is used in tests to make sure medical equipment is clean, so we don't get sick and die from routine medical procedures. The crab itself is unharmed and returned to the water.
Who remembers Flipper? This dolphin's story is rather sad.
6) I used the Navy digital library. I prefer reading an actual book whenever possible. I do not go to our local library downtown because you have to pay to park in the parking lot, and I don't believe in paying to park at the library, even if it is less than a dollar. (It is so irksome to need to go to the machine, use my credit card, and have it spit out a ticket that I have to go back and put on my dashboard. It's the library! The city needs to raise money some other way.) We have a library on base and we enjoy that but if I'm there for a specific book, a lot of times I'm out of luck. Especially if it's a newer, popular book or one that's being sought by several other people living here. I was glad to be able to download and read this month's book club selection right on my phone. I might have heard Amazon Prime has a digital library now too, and I'll have to look into that.

7) We did YouTube yoga. Tim and I are currently working through Adriene's Revolution: 31 Days of Yoga. I love it. She also has some good yoga for beginners and back pain yoga videos that have served us well these past few months. A lot of yoga instructors on YouTube have annoying mannerisms (especially to Tim), but Adriene reminds me of a good friend from high school -- down to earth, says 'y'all', and has a '90s pop lyric to go with just about every "lesson". It is silly and sometimes eye-roll-worthy, but it is serious yoga practice that is good for the body and good for the mind. Yoga should be fun.

9) I made my own decor and shopped the house for supplies. I made this Valentine banner using only stuff I'd scrounged up from around the house. The only thing hard to find were buttons. Annie gave me a shirt she said was too small that had six, and then I found sequins the same color from extra birthday party invitations I'd saved. I followed these instructions.
10) I ran with Stroller Warriors. It is a free running club for military spouses that has chapters all over the world. I don't take it for granted at all. When Delaney was a baby and we lived in Massachusetts, I joined Stroller Strides. A quick search of Quicken tells me that I paid $122 for a session which lasted a few weeks or a couple months to the best of my memory. I drove 40 minutes to the meetings once a week, and I remember gas being super expensive in summer 2008. It was worth it for me to get out and go running with other moms. Nowadays I am just as happy to run by myself or with Tim, but I do like to go to SW once a week. They are a fun, encouraging group of women. Being around them makes me want to set goals and not just be a lazy runner the way I'm inclined to be. (My most challenging runs are still with Tim, though. Just needed to throw that in there in case he was reading and thinking, 'But I help you set goals!')

It should go without saying, but I have to mention we've had no meals out, no coffees out, and no treats out. We only do these things a handful of times in a typical month anyway, so eliminating them altogether isn't too big a deal. I don't feel like we miss out on much at all, and when we finally do do those things again, we appreciate them more.

I am eagerly counting down until I can tell January "Don't let the door hit ya!" but I know that spending freeze months give me something invaluable. They take the focus off acquiring things, get me to take stock of what I have, appreciate the things that are right here in my backyard, and practice being grateful.

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.