Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Brady ladies go to Cincinnati

The girls and I just got back yesterday from our week-long trip to Cincinnati.  I decided to brave driving with them on my own, since Tim was unable to take the time off.   We left on Sunday the 20th, Father's Day.  Although we had celebrated Father's Day the day before, it was still hard leaving without Tim.  It won't be the last trip we take without him either.  He doesn't have much of any flexibility this summer until OCS (Officer Candidate School) is over.

The drive went even better than I'd hoped.  We had the rear entertainment system, the potty-to-go, and two coolers filled with snacks, drinks and PB&J.  Anything we needed was in there with room left over, and I found out the back of the Traverse is a comfy place to have a picnic.  The only thing that was kind of a hassle about being the only adult on the trip was when I had to use the restroom and take them with me.  I just strapped Annie on my back in the Ergo, and we went.  The drive there was 9 1/2 hours with three stops included.  We went 95 north to 70 west, and I had both TomTom and OnStar to make sure I didn't get lost.  But it was very easy.

All three times I stopped, Delaney protested: "No, I want to go to Grandy's house."  Funny girl!  I had to reassure her each time that we were still on our way to Grandy's -- we just needed to eat lunch and get gas.  She was such a good girl in the car, but that's really no surprise.  She's always been a good traveler in the car.  I hardly heard a peep from Annie either, and she took a couple naps.  When we arrived at around 6:45, Mom was surprised to see us all in a good mood.

We had a fun and busy week, doing some of our favorite summer activities.  We went to Coney Island twice, and once was just to ride the rides.  There were plenty of little kids' rides, but a few big kids' rides too.  Grace and I were allowed to go off by ourselves to ride the big rides the last night we were there.  I felt like a kid again!  Especially when Grace tortured me on one of the rides by turning our little car completely upside down, making me fear for my life and for my undigested dinner.  We took the kids to the "wet playground" at Woodland Mound Park a couple times, and that was a great way to cool off.  Scotty and Faith took us out to eat at Pirate's Cove, at one of the marinas on the river.  The kids all danced to the music the band was playing, and threw leftovers to the ducks who, my brother pointed out, probably all had diabetes and high blood pressure.  We celebrated the June birthdays: Grace, Roman and myself.  Not Baby Scotty's, though.  Mom said he has to put up with us for a year first.  And almost every night after the girls were tucked into bed in separate rooms, I enjoyed a cold Sam Adams Light on the front porch with my parents, while watching the boats go by on the river and trying to find them with Dad's telescope.

Delaney was so thrilled to be with her cousins, saying "my cousins" a hundred times a day.  After a week around them, she uses the big toilet with a stool all by herself (and no potty seat), and says "What the heck" all the time.
Everywhere Delaney and Miles went, they went hand-in-hand.  They always cried at the end of the day when it was time for him to go back home.
Mom laughed at me for being the dorky adult who would sit in that extra-wide middle seat on the froggy ride.  But I had fun!
Seven grandkids in under five years, holy cow!  L-R: Delaney (2), Grandy, Jaden (2), Annalise (1), Miles (3), Roman (4), Baby Scotty (born June 19), Papaw and Aspen (4)
Baby Scotty arrived the day before we got there.  What a handsome little man!  That's my Aunt Liz holding him.
I wish I'd gotten a better picture of my sister-in-law Faith.  She looks fantastic, and you'd never guess she'd just had a baby.
Grandma (my dad's mom), Annie and I
We took this picture the last night there, after I discovered that our group picture we'd taken that day at Coney Island had somehow been erased.  By then the kids had all stripped down.  It was so hot and humid that day!

For the drive home, I decided to take 64 instead of 70, in order to avoid a long, unhappy Monday night spent on 95 south.  So on Monday morning, the 28th, I pointed our car southeast into the Appalachian Mountains.  Again, the whole drive took 9 1/2 hours with only two stops.  I took a shortcut to 64 that is not acknowledged by Google Maps or TomTom to be a viable option.  It also worried Tim when I told him, but I've done it before.  It's called the AA Highway or Route 9, and it saved me an hour.  It was worth the annoyance of TomTom and OnStar advising me to make a u-turn every few minutes.  

We were on 64 for what seemed a very long time, and I'd bought an ovepriced Starbucks Crappucino at a gas station to try to perk me up, because I was oh so bored when I no longer had to concentrate on driving through mountains.  Then, after we'd been in Virginia an hour or two, OnStar and TomTom started giving me dueling directions.  OnStar wanted me to get off at the next exit, some route I'd never heard of.  TomTom wanted me to keep going and get on 295 in another 50-something miles.  I decided to listen to OnStar.  I prayed that it wasn't a mistake and wished I'd looked at a map before leaving, because it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere.  Soon I found myself not caring because I was driving through scenery that looked like it came out of a book or movie, it was so beautiful.  Delaney and I took turns pointing out what we were seeing out the window -- horses, cows, sheep, corn, and all of it set against a gorgeous sunset.  There were signs that said the name of whatever farm we were passing, or whatever "estate", and I had fun imagining the great big old house that must be at the end of that driveway. We took a few turns, but 22 and 3 are the only routes I remember.  Later, we drove past Wilderness Battlefield and the Chancellorsville Battlefield.  I have a better appreciation for what a beautiful state Virginia is.

After a quick 20 miles on 95 north, we were home again, where Tim was waiting in a clean, uncluttered house with all the closets newly organized.  Yes, I know I'm a lucky woman!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Annalise at thirteen months

Annie has been busy this month: busy learning, busy growing, busy trying to get into everything she's not supposed to, busy perfecting her walking, busy pushing my buttons... She's gone from infant to toddler in a flash.  There are all kinds of things to talk about this month.

Annie has occasionally been attempting a few other words besides "mama" and "dada."  Here they are in no particular order:

"Bub.  Bub."  Bubbles.
(While scratching my foot) "Tick.  Tick."  (She also says this while trying to tickle her own feet or underneath her fat little chin).
"Duck."
"Baba."  Baby.
"Yum."
"Pa-boo."  Peekaboo.
"Ow."

She has her two top front teeth now, and she looks so different with a four-toothed smile.  Or grimace.

She has long been fond of her "Lovey," cuddling up with it to sleep since she was a small infant; but now, she's really attached.  Do NOT get between her and Lovey.  It will not go well for you.  Lovey is a soft little blanket, fleece on one side, satin on the other.  In the center of the blanket is a little bear with matted down fur and outstretched arms.  I bought it for her hoping it would become her favorite toy.  And just like  The Velveteen Rabbit, that bear is one well-loved happy little toy.  I think to myself sometimes, 'I really ought to wash that thing; it hasn't been washed in awhile.'  But it's hard to find an opportunity.  It's so cute the way she hugs it to her chest and walks around with it.  If I leave it in her crib, she'll try to reach through the bars and grab it.  If she can't reach it, she starts to whimper until I get it out for her.  Sometimes she burrows her face into it and sucks on its nose.  If I tell her to go find Lovey, she will, and when she finds it, she'll rub it against her face.  When she wasn't feeling well for a few days, she would sometimes lay down and put her face on it.
I found out just how attached she is to it one night at bathtime.  Delaney had a new potty chair in the upstairs bathroom where they take their baths.  Delaney had just peed in it, and then poured the pee into the toilet.  There were still a couple stray drops of pee in the little bowl.  While I was running the bath and helping Delaney get undressed, Annie walked up and plopped Lovey into the bowl.  I said, "Noo, Annie!"  I picked up Lovey and took it out of the room, not sure what I would do next.  Annie started to cry hysterically, just the saddest cry ever, and huge tears began running down her face.  I gave her a hug and tried to reassure her that everything was going to be OK.  But no, she would not be comforted until I handed her back her Lovey that had been dropped in Delaney's little potty bowl.  Yes, I let her nuzzle and mouth the thing that she had just dropped in her sister's little potty, and I know that's gross.
My favorite game to play with her is to tell her I'm going to get her and she'd better run.  Then I watch her stagger as she tries to figure out how to run, looking at me and giggling until she loses her balance and  falls on her bum.  Then I catch her and tickle her.

There's another side of Annie we saw a lot of this month. This kid has a scary temper.  I don't know who she thinks died and put her in charge, but when she doesn't get her way, she throws a screaming fit.  Her face turns purple and she shrieks so loud it pierces your eardrums.  Anything can set her off: stumbling and bumping her head, being told she can't play with something, or just because.. why not?  Tim blames me for her "diva-like" behavior, saying that Delaney was never like that and I treat Annie differently than I treated Delaney.  If I have spoiled her by loving her, then I guess I'm guilty.  But I would never take back a single kiss or cuddle.  And I maintain that I am not treating her any differently than I treated Delaney at the same age.  Tim says I "baby" Annie.  I'm pretty sure I "babied" Delaney just as much.  When they're babies, I treat them like babies!  They are just different kids.  Annie tries to mess with the knobs on the stove.  Delaney never did.  That's a second child for you, I guess.

She spends a lot of time following me around, clinging to my legs, crying and whining.  She is such a grump these days.  Tim keeps saying to me, "What did you do to her?" (It couldn't possibly be his fault!) Sometimes if Tim's there, I'll just leave the room and take a break from her.  I hope this phase passes quickly.  I want my happy baby back!

Just in the last couple of days, she's started waking up very early in the morning again, around 3 or 5.  I just read in a Babycenter article that between 12 and 14 months, babies start to actively dream, and that can startle them awake.  Maybe that's what's happening to her.  I wonder what she dreams about?  My demise, probably.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My unhealthy obsession with normalcy (and it's incompatibility with our summer)

About an hour-and-a-half ago, I bathed my girls in their familiar bathtub, and put them to bed in their own little rooms, the way I've done so many times before.  But this time, after I had closed Annie's door and went downstairs to where a dirty kitchen and the rest of my night awaited, I felt such profound relief it was absurd.  My steps were lighter, and the tension in my body started to ease.  We had just gotten back hours before from another 36-hour long house-hunting trip to New Bern, NC.

As I was saying, it was only 36 hours.  We only spent one night in a hotel.  I'm a little worried about just how happy I was to get home, unload the girls, unload the car, start the laundry, start the dinner, and just get back to normalcy.  I think I have an unhealthy obsession with normalcy.

It might be because the feeling of relaxation I was craving at the end of a long, hot (and I do mean HOT!) day of touring houses, was not obtainable even in the nice hotel where we stayed.  Annalise wandered the room, fretting, fussing and sometimes crying hysterically, for hours until bathtime.  She had been unhappy all day long, squirming, whimpering and clinging to me every time we brought her into a new house.  I guess she doesn't like change.  Bathtime was nice and Annie even cheered up a bit.  As soon as she was in her PJs and she saw her pack 'n play all set up, she only wanted in.  She would have gone right to sleep right away if her sister had allowed her to.  I finally took Delaney on a little walk around the hotel to allow Annie to get to sleep.  Once she was out, she was OUT.  That was around 8 or 8:30.

Delaney, who had behaved so well all day long -- and honestly, Tim and I have always been able to count on Delaney to be the versatile, easygoing one -- decided that bedtime was time to play.  No big deal, we kind of expected this.  She enjoyed all of us being in one room, and she didn't see any reason why she needed to stay in her bed.  She wanted to wander.  It annoyed me, because all I wanted to do was sleep, and she was making so much noise.  But once the lights were all out, and Tim finally went to bed, she conked out too.  Then she woke up at 2, wanting to play.  Poor Tim was up with her for an hour in the dark while Annie and I slept on.  He never did get back to sleep.  At 6, she finally succeeded in waking us all up, and we began our day.

I think what I just described is a pretty typical hotel stay for a family with two children under three.

These are the kinds of things I have a hard time being flexible about.  I have started to pray about this as we get into summer, with all of our travel plans ahead,  please God, help me stop being the way that I am.  I want to be more relaxed and accepting of the way life is when traveling with two small children instead of getting stressed when the crumbs get all over the nice new car and Annie cries for no apparent reason.  I wish I didn't feel so unmoored when we're traveling, adrift and full of anxiety away from our perfect and happy routine.

I just envision us all settled in to our beautiful new home for the next three years, and I just want to already be there, and be there to stay.  At the same time I know that there are many good times that lie ahead between now and then, if only I can relax and enjoy them (and if my poor Annie can too, that will help!).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Delaney at two years, eleven months

Here's my last update on Delaney as a two-year-old.
I never believed anybody when they told me how quickly this would all go by, but I'm starting to believe it now.  This year has flown.  Here are Delaney's accomplishments of this month:

No more naptime diapers.  Big girl Delaney only has a diaper for bedtime now.  We leave the princess potty in there, and that's where she does her business.  As much as I wrinkle my nose emptying her "chamber pot", I realize this is as good as it's going to get for now, and much more pleasant than changing a dirty diaper.  She wants to wear her underpants at night too, but she's not ready yet.  Hopefully she will be soon.

Delaney went to the dentist for the first time this month, and actually had her teeth x-rayed and cleaned.  I still don't know how they did it.

Delaney enjoys correcting us when we're wrong.  During bedtime prayers one night, she reminded me I needed to fold my hands.  When I sneezed in the car, she said, "You need to cover your mouth."  Surprised, I turned around and said, "I did!"  Didn't I?  She's always watching, just as quick to catch us in our mistakes as we are in hers.  Since I know how much she loves correcting me, I've taken to changing words in her favorite naptime and bedtime stories, so that she will catch it and correct me.  She thinks it's so funny.  She giggled and said, "You're being naughty" when I changed a few words in a book she knows well.

By the way, she is also finally covering her mouth most of the time when she sneezes.  She tucks her mouth into the inside of her elbow just like we taught her.  Now, if we could get her to break the habit of picking her nose and eating it..

She loves to take photos, and she's kind of good at it too.  One of the things she wants for her birthday is a camera.  She's very consistent with saying that, when you ask her what she wants for her birthday.   So we're going to get her one.  Here are a couple of Delaney's photos, taken one Sunday morning when I was sleeping in and Tim wanted her to be entertained.  I love them.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: thank goodness for digital photography.  If I had to buy film and pay for it to be developed, she'd never get her hands on our camera, and that would be a shame.


She loves to play with puppets, and has for quite awhile.  But the thing is, when I make Shamu talk, she starts telling him all kinds of things, like she really believes it's an interesting whale listening, and not just her mother.  She tells Shamu about her baby sister, and shows him all her toys, talks about her day.  It cracks me up.  Since she enjoys listening to what Shamu (or whatever puppet it happens to be) has to say too, I try to refrain from having him lecture her on how important it is to clean up her toys and share with her sister.  But sometimes I can't resist.

She has some funny new ideas. There was the time I was getting her dressed after her nap, and telling her about how we were going to her friend Christian's house for a little while.  I don't remember exactly what we were talking about at the moment, only her comment that seemed to come out of nowhere.  "Christian will see me dressed up and say, 'How pretty.'"  I was like, "What?  You silly girl!"

I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but it's definitely cute enough to deserve a mention.  Several months ago, Tim started teaching Delaney to greet the Marines at the gate as we're going in.  He puts her window down, and she calls out, "Thank you, Marine!" as we're driving through.  I love it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Warning: Boring and Contains no Pictures of the Children

This is a little rant about one of life's little frustrations:

As I've mentioned before, I love to check out Quantico Yard Sales on a regular basis, because I never know when I'm going to see something really good being sold for dirt cheap.  It hardly ever happens, but when it does, I'm like, 'Woo-hoo!'  This morning, I kind of  had a 'woo-hoo' moment when I saw someone was selling 65 baby DVDs for a dollar apiece, 10 of which were Baby Signing Time videos.  Baby Signing Time!  For over two years I've been on the look-out for cheap Baby Signing Time videos.  I've never seen them being sold used until today.  They retail for $22 each on the website.  I remember when I lived in Massachusetts, my friend Maureen and I would check them out of the library and watch them together with our kids.  There were only two in circulation in the entire Central Massachusetts library system.  I looked for them here at the Quantico Library, but there were none.  I didn't bother becoming a member of any other library around here, and I decided, 'Oh well.  Annie will not be watching Baby Signing Time videos.'

There are lots of baby signing videos out there, and I've seen some of them.  Most are terrible, in my opinion, and boring for the kids.  These Baby Signing Time videos are well-produced, fun, and entertaining.  There is a whole series of at least 10 or 15, with titles like, "Baby's First Signs", "My Day," and "The Zoo Train."  They are not to be confused with just Signing Time.  There is a Signing Time series also, and it is NOT the same thing, not even close.  Looking at the Baby Signing Time website, I now see they are calling themselves both Signing Time and Baby Signing Time.  I wonder if they shut down the cheap imitation or made them change their name?

The woman who posted this ad also had some pictures of the DVDs, and I could see that these were, in fact, the real thing.  I replied to her ad, saying that I would like to buy five of the Baby Signing Time DVDs.  There were so many other kinds of videos in there, including Baby Einstein and baby yoga, Kidzercise, Classical Baby, Leapfrog and whatnot.  But honestly, who needs or wants that many DVDs for a baby?  I think we might have 65 DVDs total in our household, for kids and grownups.  Probably not even that.  More like 45.  I pictured this woman as so hell-bent on making her kid into the smartest, most well-rounded  in the world, that she just went crazy buying DVDs.  Hope her baby grew up to be a bonehead, haha.

When I returned this morning from my dental checkup, I saw that she had replied to my email, saying, "Sorry, but they are only being sold as a set for $65, as stated in the ad."  (It didn't exactly state that in the ad, by the way.  I just looked at it again and all it says is "65 baby DVDs for $65".  It doesn't say that they can't be sold separately.)  Well, good luck, lady, getting anyone to drop $65 on 65 baby DVDs that no one family could possibly need.  Maybe someone in the consignment business who will buy them all and turn around and sell them for $5 apiece.  It's a bummer that I won't be getting Baby Signing Time videos for a dollar each, but it would be insane to purchase 65 videos just to get the five, or at most ten that I wanted.  I already have Baby Einsteins, and we don't even watch them anymore.  If they were 10 cents apiece, I still wouldn't want them all.  But I'd probably buy them all anyway, and then donate what I didn't want.

Tim thinks I should do like the hypothetical consignment person, and buy them all for $65, then sell the ones I don't want for $5 apiece.  Hmm..