Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

This post was started yesterday.

I sit here on my couch during nap time, more grateful than ever for the luxuries of electricity, air-conditioning, Internet, and COFFEE! after being without them for nearly 48 hours.  I was sound asleep last night at 11 when the whole house suddenly woke back up, with hums, beeps and glorious light.  I practically danced around the house closing windows so I could turn the air back on.  I remember a long time ago, when I was about 10, there was an ice storm that had us without power and without school for at least two or three days.  Mom remembers it as awful, and I remember it as awesome.  Now as a mom myself, a power outage of more than a day can bring me to my knees.  I rely more than ever on my many amenities, and I have been ever so thankful to have them back.  Tim and I are talking about investing in some real disaster supplies, like a generator and a camping stove.  We're going to be in North Carolina for two more years, and these things happen.  I was ready for a hurricane, but not adequately prepared for a power outage of more than a few hours.

Unlike most of my friends with deployed husbands, I opted to stay for Irene.  I couldn't imagine packing up three little kids and cramming us into a hotel room without an order to evacuate.  Our county wasn't even under a voluntary evacuation (what is the point of a voluntary evacuation anyway?  We all know we can leave any time we want to.).  I was also reassured to see that neither of my neighbors to the right or the left had run for the hills.  Just knowing they were there made me feel good about my decision.  There was a friend of mine down the street who was sticking around with her three little ones and deployed husband.  We had a drink together over the phone the night before, in anticipation of a long day inside with the little hurricanes we had spawned.  It was comforting to be in the exact same boat as someone else.  I of course talked to Tim, and as always he helped me as best he could from afar.

Still, at 4 in the morning when I woke up to pitch blackness and felt the house shudder under those powerful winds, I wondered if I was crazy for being here.  I'd never felt so alone in my life.  I started to pray.  I looked at the sleeping bundle of Timmy next to me, and thought about the girls all the way across the house in their room.  I took my flashlight and went to check on them.  They were sleeping soundly, oblivious in the way only little kids can be, even though it sounded like someone was trying to eat our house.  There is a huge window next to Delaney's bed.  I stood there, uncertain what to do next.  Finally I decided I couldn't rest until we were all in one room.  I picked them up and took them to my room, where we had a little "sleepover" until 7.  And they actually did go to sleep!

The hurricane lasted all day into the night.  For us, it only caused minimal damage -- a broken tree in the backyard and a screen door blown off the hinges.  A lot of people around here were not so lucky.  The hardest thing for me was how long we went without power.  I was such a grump in the morning when I couldn't brew my coffee.  As I watched the girls' play house blowing across the yard, I said, to them, "I bet if I went out there, I'd blow away.  Would you be scared watching me blow away?"  Delaney said, "Yeah, but then Daddy would come home and take care of us."  I said, "That's right, he would!"  Smart kid.

The day after the hurricane it was hot, and we just baked.  Timmy was a sweaty little ball, but bless his heart, all he did was sleep all day, waking only to eat.  He was like, 'Wake me up when this is over.'  I called around and couldn't find a single place to take the kids to eat dinner and just relax in some air conditioning.  I started to melt down.  I later found out that there were a couple places open, but by then it was time for bath and bed for the girls.  Watching the sun set on another day in a hot house with no electricity killed my morale.  But the girls were so good, entertaining each other for hours, very little fighting, not even aware of how miserable it was.  I was the only one with a problem.  Sometimes I think I could learn something from these kids.

Phew, glad that's over with.

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 months down, 5 to go

"Oh, we're halfway there, oh, we're livin' on a prayer.."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Timmy at 1 month

As I write this, our sweet boy is finally napping, swaddled, in the co-sleeper.  He's had a fussy day.  I told him he gets one fussy day a week, so he'd better make the most of it.  Besides being fussy, he's been nursing a lot, which makes me wonder, is it too early for a growth spurt?  I thought the first big growth spurt was around 6 weeks, and he's not even 5.

A lot of the crankiness is probably due to the fact that it is still the "4th trimester" and he is still trying to get used to being in the world.  I do what I can to soothe him.  He spent most of this morning tucked into the sling with a pacifier in his mouth.

For the most part, other than today, he is a very easygoing, content baby.  He rarely cries.  As a matter of fact, yesterday when I was in line at Food Lion, he was getting hungry and I was rocking his carseat in the back of the cart, hoping he could hang in there just a few more minutes.  We were in the express line with only 3 items.  The maximum was 12.  In front of us was a man who must be very special, because I counted at least 25 items on the belt for him.  And the cashier didn't say a word, just started scanning things.  The next thing I thought was, 'He'd better be bagging all that crap himself, and not holding up the line even more while she bags it.'  But no, she was bagging all of his 2-liters of sugary drinks for him while we, rule-abiding shoppers, waited.  That made me mad.  I stopped rocking the carseat, and hoped he would start squawking.  But he didn't because he's such a good baby.

He's a good sleeper too.  I typically put him to bed at around 7:30.  I just swaddle him and lay him down.  He wakes around 1 or 2 to eat, then sleeps again until around 6.  Sometimes he goes back to sleep right away after that, other times it's an hour or two later.

He has a bad case of baby acne all over his face and neck.  I Googled it and saw that it could last months.  I really hope not.  It is a blotchy red mess.

As much as I love the newborn days, I am ready to see those first real baby smiles in the next few weeks, and to see him returning my adoring gazes.

And one more thing.. he's going to experience his first hurricane this weekend.  I will be sure to let you know how that goes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grandy visits

Our latest visiting relative was my mom, a.k.a. Grandy.  She named herself that when her oldest grandchild, Aspen, was born in 2005.  Timmy is her eighth grandchild.  8 grandchildren in 6 years, and another one due in September!  She is original.  I don't think there are any other Grandys out there.  She stayed with us from Monday the 15th until Sunday the 21st.

On the way home from the airport, she shared with me that there are a couple relatives on my side of the family with the name Timothy Francis. I'd thought we were only naming him after his dad and grandpa, but it turns out that Mom's mom's father was Timothy Francis; and an ancestor on her dad's side was as well.  It's probably not an amazing coincidence so much as proof that Irish Catholics have a lot of the same favorite names.  But I still think it's kind of special.
It was mostly a laid-back visit, which made it very relaxing for me.  I slept in a couple mornings until 8, and that was nice.  I took Timmy to the pediatrician on Tuesday, when he was 3 weeks and 1 day old.  He weighed 10 pounds 7 ounces.  We got his newborn screening done (heel stick test), that is usually done the day you leave the hospital.  He is a healthy little man.

We went to the beach a couple times.  Mom suggested we go in the evening, and I hadn't even thought of that as an option, since we're 40 minutes away.  But I'm so glad we went.  I'd forgotten how beautiful the beach is in the evening -- warm but not hot, the breeze blowing, and everyone around so happy and relaxed.  It's like a different world.  The girls had so much fun, it was totally worth keeping them up late.  The tide was out and there were these little pools in the sand that were perfect for splashing and playing in.

On Saturday, we went to our old favorite Cow Cafe, and afterward, we took some pictures on a bench outside.  Annie's has blue cadaver lips because of Blue Moo ice cream, and Delaney is either smirking or sticking her tongue out.  Little stinker.
We miss Grandy.  We're going to have to plan a trip to Cincinnati for sometime after Tim gets back, so we can see the whole family.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Aww..

I never did this with either of the girls, and I'm kind of sad I didn't.  So I hired Heather of Life in Bloom Photography,  who was supposed to be at Timmy's birth, to take newborn photos.  They were taken at our house.  He was just shy of two weeks old in these photos.  I think she did a great job.  And Timmy was a cooperative little model.
Heather felt bad for missing the birth, so she made this onesie for me.  Cute!  Heather is also expecting her third child, and will also be having him/her at home.
This was the only photo that disappointed me because it's the only group of shots that had anything Marine in it.  The one on her website turned out much better.  This one looks like an 'awkward baby photo.'  If you don't get the reference, you should look at www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com.  Hilarious!  There is even a category for babies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Annalise at 2 and 1/4

I had to switch to quarterly updates for the girls instead of monthly, which was getting to be too much.  At the girls' ages, not a whole lot changes on a month-to-month basis anyway.  So here is Annie's update.  She's lucky she's cute, because she is TROUBLE.
For several months now, she has shown an interest in potty training, but not a readiness as far as I can tell.  She uses the potty when she wants to -- either the little princess potty on the floor, or the big toilet.  She joins her sister on the nightly trips to the bathroom after lights out.  (It's fun!)  But she still has no qualms about peeing and pooping anywhere, so she needs a diaper.  Once or twice, we've tried undies, but that didn't work out.  She doesn't get it yet.  I'm confident that one day she will, and until then, I see no need to pursue it, and add to my never-ending list of things to do.  I'd just as soon bang my head into the wall 20 times every day, because that would accomplish just as much.

Still, I long for the day she is potty trained, because having her in diapers is a real hassle.  She is not always cooperative with diaper changes.  A lot of times she'll evade me when I want to change her, but then not give me any trouble once I've gotten hold of her.  But there are times I've had to change her while holding her down kicking and screaming.  She gave her grandpa an especially hard time with that.  "Annie, let's change your diaper."  "No!"  As he put it, she is very "possessive" of herself, her diapers, her bodily functions.  All of this is pretty typical of a 2-year-old, who wants to make sure you know she's her own person.  However, as I tell her (uselessly), it is my job as a parent to make sure you're not wallowing in your own filth, whether you like it or not.  Her diapers are also disgusting, as Tim Sr could attest.  Those poops belong in the toilet, not mushed into a diaper.
Potty trained or not, the bathroom is one of her favorite places.  Annie is a compulsive hand-washer, tooth-brusher, and toilet-flusher.  I often have to yell at her to turn the water off and tell her she's done in the bathroom, get out.

She is fiercely competitive with Delaney, and sometimes she'll snarl at her and hit her for offenses such as, she went up the stairs ahead of her, or she was playing with a toy that she wants.  Delaney does not stand up for herself, and sometimes I get tired of having to intervene.  It's one thing to put her in time-out for hitting, but I don't always feel like taking the jump rope Annie snatched from Delaney, and returning it to Delaney.  Sometimes I'll say instead, "Delaney, you shouldn't have let her take it."  I also get tired of hearing, "Mama, Annie's __________."
She talks well, and most of what she says can be understood.  But she hasn't gotten her pronouns figured out yet, and she uses them in ways I find amusing.  "Mama, there you're am!"  "Look, Mama, our sharing!"  "My sit in sissy's chair."  She also refers to her little brother as "she" and "her."  I guess male pronouns aren't something we've used around here a whole lot before.

Speaking of her little brother, she is obsessed with him.  I wasn't prepared for this.  When we had Annie, Delaney left her alone for the most part.  I was able to lay her down on the floor and go about my business.  Delaney would play with her toys, watch TV, and Annie would nap peacefully right on the floor in her activity mat.  I was hoping for the same thing when Timmy arrived, but Annie is on him like white on rice.  She can't get enough of him, and she is aggressively affectionate.  I'm always telling her to leave him alone, give him some space, don't rest any weight on him, don't touch his face, don't pat his head so hard, don't squeeze his foot, hold it gently, and on and on.  She gets in his face, saying, "Don't worry, baby Timmy."  She's always wanting to hold him, and I indulge her as much as I can, placing him in the middle of her outstretched arms and supporting his weight.  She looks so happy when she's holding his soft, squishy, wriggly body.
I try to give her plenty of opportunities to help out with Timmy, such as get a new diaper or throw away an old one.  She likes those jobs.  But so does Delaney, and sometimes that leads to competition over who gets to do what.

2 is a tough age, and I remember it was a challenge with Delaney too.  But lest you think she's a complete terror, she is still very lovable and has traits that are very endearing.  She has a deep belly laugh that when you hear it, you can't help but smile.  She still is attached to her Lovey, and when she picks it up to hold it when she's sleepy, she still moves her mouth a little like she's nursing.  That Lovey is the last remnant of her babyhood, and I don't know who's more attached to it, me or her.  If I hid it away, she would maybe ask for it a couple times, but wouldn't miss it much.  But I faithfully find it and give it to her at naptime and bedtime.
She hates lawn mowers and weed whackers.  If there is one within a quarter-mile of where she happens to be playing, she cries and clings and begs to leave or go inside.  While Tim Sr was here, it seemed like every time we went outside or went anywhere, a lawn mower or weed whacker would come along and ruin it for everybody.

If she trips and falls, or bumps her head, she blames the first person who makes eye contact with her afterward.  She makes a show of trying to hit the person, and whines, "No!  Not be careful!"

I had been planning to send Annie to preschool along with Delaney this fall, but I've since changed my mind.  My gut tells me Annie would do better at home with me for another year.  With Delaney not around for three mornings a week, she won't feel the need to compete, and we might have more peaceful times and she'll get more positive attention.  She'll probably do some playing on her own like she did last year, and also some honing of her big sister skills.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2 + weeks later

Today is the beginning of my second full day on my own with the three kiddos.  Tim Sr was supposed to leave later this morning, but he had to leave suddenly Monday afternoon, when Carolyn went to the hospital for high blood pressure.  At this time, she is home and she is OK, and I hope and pray that continues.  But on Monday it was scary.  Luckily the airport is about 7 minutes away, and he was able to fly out within an hour or two of getting the phone call.

It worked out perfectly that he was there for a couple weeks before Timmy came and exactly a couple weeks after.  The girls took his sudden departure in stride.  I will miss the sound of him giving them a bath, and not just because it means I am not the one doing it.  "Wash yourself all over!  Your arms, your legs, your face!  Wash your butt too!"  He had his own way of doing things, that's for sure.  Hopefully he's relaxing now, because he sure needs it after almost 4 weeks of taking care of my two rambunctious girls.

My mom arrives in 5 days, and she will be staying for a week.  I can't wait until she gets here.  I am (mostly) doing fine here alone, but I am really hating afternoons.  The literature I read says that newborns are supposed to sleep upward of 16 hours a day.  But nobody told Timmy that.  Ever since day 3 or 4 of his life, he has been a very alert baby for the most part.  He wants to be held all the time, and during the day only sleeps in the car or in the sling.  Right now I'm enjoying a rare moment where he naps on his own.  I have been missing out on my beloved nap (wahhh!).  I spend the whole 90-minute window of Delaney's quiet time trying to get him to sleep, trying every trick in the book -- bouncing, jiggling, nursing, swaddling, rocking, walking, bouncing, jiggling, nursing..  Just when I think I'm making making progress, his eyes pop open so wide you can see the whites all around.  Then, as soon as nap time/ quiet time is over for the girls, with his belly full, he falls blissfully asleep for three hours.
I had time to paint their toenails!
After yesterday afternoon, I decided I had to get help.  This is a short phase, true, and I know it will be over before long.  But in the meantime, I need some rest, and the girls need someone around who is not grumpy and short-tempered from lack of rest.  They will not go play independently in their nice big playroom.  They just keep buzzing around me waiting for me to entertain them in some way, and I just keep getting more and more aggravated.  So I emailed our babysitter Afton, our one and only because the other one moved a few months ago.  Afton had some bad news for me -- she's moving at the end of this month!  She is available a few afternoons before she moves, but after that, she's gone.  My assistant midwife, Debbie, has told me time and again to call if I want one of her daughters to come help me out, so I believe I'll give her a call.  I'll ask if any of her daughters happens to already be around.  They live out in the country, 45 minutes away, but spend a lot of their time in the New Bern area.  I don't want any of them driving out here just for me, but if one of them happens to be hanging around, I would love to have one of them over.  That way the girls could have someone playing with them, reading them books, etc., and I could have another opportunity to catch a nap.  Just a couple hours would make a huge difference for me.  Not a couple hours of napping.  I only need a 15-minute nap, but the whole two hours of help.
Payback time for Timmy as I let his sisters wake him up from his long nap
And now I have to begin the search again for another babysitter.  Ideally, I'd love to find a teenager or tween who I could hire as a mother's helper.  But I still don't know any of my neighbors, and I don't know of anyone who has a teenage girl.  So I'll post another ad on Sittercity and see what comes up.

I know from past experience that this too shall pass, before I know it, and I will have Timmy on some kind of routine in a month or two.

Other than the napping issue, Timmy has been doing great.  He's a good nurser, and he's growing fast.  As of August 3, Sherry's last visit, he weighed 8 lbs 12 oz.  So at one week and two days, he was already 9 oz over his birth weight.  He already looks a lot different than he did when he was born.  He's not as scrawny looking, for sure.
2 weeks old
We had his newborn photos taken by Heather, the would-be birth photographer, this past Sunday.  He was surprisingly very cooperative, and she said this was one of her easiest newborn photo shoots.  We got some good ones, and I can't wait to see them.  I was surprised by what hard work newborn photography is.  Have you seen a cute photo of a baby in a hammock?  Someone has to hold that hammock!  I had to hold Timmy in the hammock, with my arms extended as far as they could go so I wouldn't be in the shot.  For anyone who's thinking this sounds like a safety concern, I did this while kneeling and I took frequent breaks.  Heather told me I need to do pilates.  She's right, I need to do something.  Maybe in a few weeks.