Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We took the leap

We finally did it!  We left our kids with a non-relative babysitter!  We found Brittney on Sittercity, and I loved her from the minute she walked in our door yesterday.  She is 18, and lives with her grandparents and their cats a few miles away.  She is going to a community college here, but the bad news is that she plans to transfer to a college in Wilmington next fall.

It was hard for Tim and I to do this, for a couple reasons.  I discussed it at length several months ago.  For me, it was, 'How do I justify paying someone else to watch our kids?  That's MY job.  I don't earn any income.  So now I'm going from not only NOT earning, but now costing our family money.  My butt ought to be with these kids 24/7.' Another thing is, how do you really trust someone you've only talked to a couple times to watch your kids?  Lastly, we don't really need babysitters.  We get by without them just fine until something like the Marine Corps Birthday Ball comes up.  We have date nights in that we enjoy.  And we're lame.  We don't really do anything, so why start now?  What it is, we decided, is an investment we make now, for a time later when we really need a babysitter, and want to be able to call someone the girls know and we trust.  The idea of having no one I can call to watch my kids ever, is scary.  Especially once Tim deploys next summer and I'm a single mom.  I will definitely be needing some help now and then when it's just me.  The thing is, if we want to have a babysitter when we need one, then we have to be using them at times when we don't really need one, so that we can get to know them and our girls can too.

So we had a long conversation about how often should we have a babysitter over in order to keep her in the girls' lives, but not break the bank.  That's a tough one.  We settled on about 10 to 15 hours a month, and even that hurts me because like I said, this is my only job!  Tim says I should relax about that, because we do well enough to be able to pay a babysitter 10 to 15 hours a month.  And I do feel good about helping a student make easy money watching my little angels:).

Yesterday, Brittney came over and we chatted for a few minutes, and then we left to go fart around at Lowe's and the New Bern (excuse for a) Mall.  We were gone for an hour and a half, and we paid her $15.  When we came back, we were happy to find them all playing dress-up in the playroom.  Brittney is like one of their aunties.  She will be coming back next Tuesday afternoon for a couple hours, and then the following Saturday night she will put the kiddos to bed while we have a date night out.  She is very sweet with the girls and they seem to like her too.

But of course, we're not done looking, because she's leaving next summer or fall.  But for now we have one babysitter, and I am looking forward to next Saturday night.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Just one of many things I love about having two little girls:

Getting to use my favorite clothes again!
10/18/08: Delaney, 15 months.  We had to cuff the jeans for this peanut.
10/23/10: Annalise, 17 months
10/18/08: Delaney, 15 months
10/5/10: Annalise, 16 months

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annalise at seventeen months

If this month had a theme song, it would be "Anything you do I can do better; I can do anything better than you!"  Annie is always trying to show us what a big girl she is.  Look, she even helps wash the car -- with her bare hands!  Today, I had to dig in the girls' bathroom trash for some cute hair things after I had knocked over the big basket filled with them.  She was watching with rapt attention, and I know she can't wait to look through the trash herself.  She will be an expert trash-picker.  She is already an expert at throwing things away.

In the last couple weeks or so, she's become more interested in talking.  She may have said a couple words a couple months ago, but for whatever reason, lost all interest up until this month.  I love her words, and I make a big deal every time she uses one.  Here are some of her new ones that I can think of:
- Shish-ee.  Sissy.  She said it once when I was putting a dress on her that was just like Delaney's.  Other times, she will just say it as she follows her around.
- Eye.  She says it as she's trying to poke me in the eye.
- Gock.  She points to her Mr. Clock and says it.
- Beh-yee.  Belly.  She pulls up her shirt and points to it.
- Joosh.  Juice
- Shoes.
- Socks.
- Baby.  She said it clear as day when I asked her to.
- No.  She said that for the very first time on 10/14.
- She shakes her head emphatically "yes" and will sometimes say "Yeah" if you ask her questions like, "Do you want a snack?"  "Do you want to go bye-bye?"
- Bump.  She likes to say this on every step as she goes down the stairs.
- Bampa.
If I ask her to say a word, she'll say it.  She'll go through a list.  Grandma.  Grandpa.  Dog.  Cat.  Fish.  But she usually doesn't use a word unless I ask her to.
She is so affectionate sometimes, and I don't know what's sweeter than hugs and kisses from a baby.  When that little face leans in for a kiss, eyes closed, and her lower lip protruding in that funny little kid way of puckering up, it's priceless!

She's obsessed with the buckles on her carseat and her booster seat at the table.  She wants to do it herself.  After she eats, I unbuckle her, but then she just buckles the straps again.  Then she grunts until I come over and unbuckle them again.  She'll keep doing that until I finally yank her out of the chair and tell her to go play.


She's an adventurer.  She's been known to take a few stairs the fast way from time to time.  Her antics on the living room couch sometimes almost give me a heart attack.  A couple weeks ago, she rode a pony with wheels off a coffee table in the play room.  We heard the loud thump and sprinted up there to find her lying in a heap.  She got right up, though, and was fine.
Owie.  This is one of her most common injuries -- she slips and falls, usually on the stairs, and then bites somewhere in her mouth with her sharp little teeth.
She wants to do everything like her big sis.  She doesn't want to go down the stairs backward anymore.  She wants to walk down like Delaney, which is scary.  I take her hand and help her do that, and she's so pleased.  When Delaney's standing on the step stool brushing her teeth, Annie gets up there and squeezes in alongside her on that step, and "brushes" her teeth too.  Whatever Delaney has, she wants.  When we got Delaney a backpack for school, Annie was upset that she didn't have one too.  She loves to try on that backpack when Delaney's generous enough to let her.  When she has it on, she laughs and runs around.  One time when Tim had taken Delaney out, and Delaney had forgotten her backpack (she likes to bring it everywhere), Annie walked up and handed me the backpack so I'd put it on her.  I said, "Yeah, you'd better get your backpack fix while she's not here!"

She's all but given up her morning nap this month.  I remember last month saying she was nowhere near ready to give it up, but that's how quickly things change.  She will still nap occasionally in the morning.  If she looks sleepy, I'll lay her down.  She may or may not sleep.  It makes me a little sad to see this big part of her babyhood falling by the wayside.  Why is she in such a big hurry to grow up?

A year ago today:  Annalise at five months

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wah

It's been a month, more or less, since we our crazy summer ended and we were done traveling, and ready to start living in our new house in our new surroundings.  In that month, we've gotten a lot done, a few fun little projects, and we've re-established normalcy.  But I have to be honest here.  Since the dust has settled and Tim's gone back to work, I have to admit that I'm experiencing some loneliness and isolation.

It sounds pathetic, I know.  But I'm racking my brain trying to think of a way to meet new friends.  Tim warned me that life here would be different from Quantico, and I would have to "cast my net" wider, if I wanted to make friends.  Living on base at Quantico was a situation that would probably never happen again --so many families in such a small space with so much in common.  We knew when we chose to live off base that this might be an issue.  As we knew would be the case, now that we live in the middle of nowhere, gone are the days of putting the girls in the BOB stroller and pushing them to a friend's house for a playdate.  We live 10 minutes from the back gate of Cherry Point, and about 10 minutes from New Bern.  Technically, we're not that far from anything, but I feel like I'm on an island.  These days, I might take the girls out in the BOB, or just out into the yard to play (if I dare!!), and all I hear are frogs croaking and crickets chirping.  If I walk them or run them around the neighborhood, I might exchange a wave with a nice old retiree every now and then.

When Delaney started preschool last week, I hoped that this would provide a new opportunity to meet other moms.  Yes, there are other moms, and yes, I see them every morning waiting for the doors to open, while I stand there with my girls.  But I don't know how to break the ice.  I am so shy, it's ridiculous.  What am I supposed to say, "Is anyone in the market for new friends, because I've just moved here and I don't know anybody?"  "Shut up, weirdo!"  My shyness is probably mistaken for aloofness, and it's high school all over again.

There is an upside to this: my house is consistently cleaner.  When I'm not farting around on the Internet, or playing with my little girlfriends, I'm cleaning something, dusting something, vacuuming something.  But I know that winter will come and it will get cold, and I'll feel the walls close in.  If I don't have anyone to laugh and commiserate with by then, my husband and children will have a tiresome grouch on their hands.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Delaney at three and a quarter

Delaney's getting more and more observant all the time, and her memory has far surpassed mine in power.  Thank goodness for that.  She doesn't need to have Mama's swiss cheese memory to go through life with.  She tells me things like, "At our old house, we all slept upstairs."  "At our old house, the playroom was in the living room."  And she calls herself a "super finder", because she usually knows where things are.

She is also showing a nurturing side.  One day I went into her room after nap, and found all the little storage baskets had been taken out of her armoire.  Nestled inside the baskets were stuffed animals dressed in pajamas.  Delaney had been in there playing little mommy, and I thought it was the sweetest thing ever.
Sometimes she's a little mischievous.  For example, she'll be chasing Annie around in circles, and then give her a little bump, causing Annie to lose her balance and fall down.  You'd think it was an accident, but then you see that little smile.  Sometimes it's frustrating having a little sister who wants to be into everything she's into.  Now and then she loses her temper when she has to give Annie a turn with a toy, and she'd rather not.  She starts crying and slapping at her.  When I stop her and tell her, "We don't hit," she quickly apologizes and calms down, but keeps crying for a few minutes.  Sharing is not easy.  Within a couple minutes, I'm containing a kicking and screaming Annie while Delaney has a turn.

On Thursday, after I'd brought her home from her second day at school, she said, "Annie missed me."  I said, "Yes, she did."  Then she gave her a hug and said, "I love you, Annie."  I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

She got the second haircut of her life this month.  I don't even think the first one counted; it was more of a formality, so I could get a few snips of hair in an envelope and call it a first haircut.  That was about a year ago.  This time she had a good three to four inches taken off, and now it's all nice and even at the bottom, and so much easier for me to work with.  Before, it was down to her lower back and getting pretty scraggly at the ends.
Before
After
While he was visiting, Tim Sr brought up all the expressions she uses in conversation all the time: "Well, actually.." "How about..?"  And my favorite, "Does that sound like a deal?"  Her daddy uses that one a lot with her.  And then if we're telling her to do something she doesn't want to do (i.e., eat your dinner, then you can have a treat), she whimpers, "That's not a good deal."  It always makes me laugh when I hear her use a new grownup-sounding expression.
She started preschool on the 5th.  She goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to noon.  She is thrilled to be going to school.  A few days before her first day, I gave her her backpack, and she and that backpack have been inseparable ever since.  I was worried she'd get cold feet on her actual first day, but she couldn't wait.  I left her in her classroom with a wave goodbye that she barely acknowledged because she was already off checking out the room.  When I came to pick her up, she told me she didn't want to go and started to cry.  Her teacher, Miss Melissa, offered her a Hello Kitty stuffed animal that she could borrow until Thursday.  That saved us from having to make a scene.  I thought kids were supposed to throw a fit when their parents leave them there the first day!

Later, when I asked her what she did at school, she said they'd had "circle time."  I asked her what you do at circle time.  "We just sit there," she said.  "Then I got up and my teacher said, 'You've got to sit back down so we can have circle time.'"  When I woke her up on Thursday (strangely, the only times she's slept in of late have been her two days of school) and told her it was time to get ready for school, the first thing she said was, "Circle time!"

A year ago today: Family pictures

Monday, October 4, 2010

Annie's room makeover

Finally, the Annie's room post.  First I had to wait on her vinyl decal to arrive, and then after that, I had to wait for a sunny afternoon for the best lighting to take the pictures.  I couldn't believe how long that took.  Finally, the sun broke through the clouds this evening, and we could take some pictures.  It was still a challenge, and they aren't the greatest photos, but they'll have to do. 

Once Delaney's room was done, our euphoria was short-lived.  Annie's was next, and we had no idea what to do with it.  We argued discussed, went to Lowe's, came back and talked some more.  I got so sick of talking about it that I started to not even care -- I just wanted it done!

We had made a half-hearted attempt at a nursery for her in Quantico, and bought a few things for her with a "Goodnight, Sleep Tight" motif.  Moon, stars, sheep, bunnies rubbing their eyes, all set against a twilight sky.  (I know, very cheesy, but this is the one time in their lives I get away with this.)  I wanted to keep those things, but I was no longer happy with the main colors of blue, yellow, and green.  It was as if we had picked them out while we were pregnant, and not knowing what they were having.  If we were to stick with those same colors for paint and everything, then we would have  a blah unisex nursery for our little girly-girl who is already trying on high heels and brushing her hair.  For awhile I was stumped and frustrated, thinking I either keep the whole theme with all the pieces we'd already acquired, or throw them out altogether in favor of something more feminine.

Then I had this great idea.  We have this book sitting on her hutch.  Ta-da! as Delaney says.
With this as our inspiration, we got to work picking paint colors for Annie's feminine lullaby-themed room.  This required several trips to Lowe's.  Tim would say to me, "Would you quit saying 'periwinkle'?"  He'd never heard of 'periwinkle', and when I showed it to him, he said, "It looks like blue to me."  We settled on a darker shade and a lighter shade.  I think once the colors were on the wall, they looked more purple than blue.  As you'll see in the pictures below, the room looks more blue or more purple depending on the lighting and the setting on the camera.  We almost decided the darker color would be the color right under the title of the book, and we found a good match.  I'm glad I decided against it, because it was too bold and too bright.

I was in favor of keeping it simple, with maybe three lighter colored walls and a darker accent wall; but Tim wanted to make sure he put has much sweat into her room as he had into Delaney's.  Otherwise, he would have felt guilty.  To assuage that guilt, he decided to paint the bottom half of the room one color, the top half the other, and put up a white chair rail.  What a difference that made!  I think his appreciation for chair rails first happened when he looked at our master bedroom here.  It is painted floor to ceiling "restless seas,"* which is a blue-gray that does look just like the ocean.  We love the color, but without the white chair rail in the middle, it would be really be too much.

Here is a 'before' picture:
This room was a spare room, I believe, so it's pretty dreary.  "Roasted garlic" was the wall color here.

And here are the after pictures.  I think we accomplished what we set out to do.  Mostly.
Tim showed me how to make the letters with Mod Podge, and I did them myself.  My big contribution!
Another vinyl decal found on Etsy.  "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.  Do you know how loved you are?"  Took its sweet time getting here, and in our haste to put it up, we stuck it on there a slightly crooked.  I wish I could have a do-over.
You can't tell, but the pink curtains are gingham, inspired by the gingham on the book cover.
I'm not completely happy with this last wall.  I agreed with Tim's idea to put up the shelves instead of just hanging up the wall art, in order to "break up" the pastel-ness of the whole thing.  However, something is bothering me here.  Not so much the gigantic wicker basket, supposedly to put toys in, but really just to take up empty space.  I don't know if I like it, but something has to go there, right?  Maybe the small pink "Prayer for a Little Girl" needs to move..?  

There was this whole other idea I had for this wall, and that was to take four or five pages out of Sleep, Baby, Sleep, and frame them and hang them there.  I love the pictures that are currently on the wall, but they're not working, for some reason.  I'd rather use what I have, and not go out buying new frames to hang up different things.  I'm stumped and open to suggestions.

*If you're wondering how I know that, it's because our landlords left us a "turnover binder" for the house.  Mr. Landlord is a Marine lieutenant colonel, and Marines like turnover binders.  The binder contains lots of helpful information, such as trash and recycling pickup days, important phone numbers, and manuals for the appliances.  I love this binder, and I find myself referring to it a lot.  What did we do as renters before we had something like this?  It also has a page of paint colors for every room, complete with paint cards.  I have noted the changes we've made so far in the binder, carefully taping our paint cards over theirs.:)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Grandpa's visit and Tim's promotion

Tim Sr arrived here on Tuesday, the day that torrential rain started and did not let up for four long days.  The girls were in pajamas almost the entire time, I was in sweats, and we weren't going anywhere.  Fortunately, we hadn't made any big outdoor plans.  Delaney and Annie handled being stuck in the house a lot better with Grandpa around to play with them.  They weren't in my hair so much, and I did not descend into a pit of despair the way I normally do after many consecutive days of terrible weather.
Making Grandpa's hair pretty
We kept him pretty busy.  When he wasn't playing with our rambunctious little girls, he was out in the garage helping Tim finish our desk.  Tim has never built anything (at least not since wood shop in 7th grade), and he built this desk from scratch.  It started as a pencil diagram and now here it is sitting in our office.  He spent his last two weeks of leave working on it day and night.  It is beautiful, and so special to me.
The primary reason for his visit was Tim's promotion to major, which happened Friday morning.  Here's a picture Tim Sr took of the girls right before we left the house.  I love this picture.  They're growing up so fast.
Here we are pinning on his new rank.
After the promotion, The CO told us that they will be keeping Tim very busy.  He will be taking out the MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) detachment sometime late spring.  He will be on a ship for about seven months.  Between now and then he'll be doing a lot of preparation for that, so our days of seeing Tim walk in the door promptly at 4:30 every day are about to be over.  Tim gave a speech of his own in which he said that we're ready to "pay the piper" after four years of the good life in Boston and Quantico.  I don't know if I'm exactly ready, but ready or not, here it comes.  Tim's definitely ready -- he was hoping he'd get the MEU, so I'm happy for him.  The good news was Tim got the rest of Friday off!

The next morning it was time to say goodbye to Grandpa.  Like all visits, it went by too fast.  

A year ago today: A fun Saturday morning