Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yucky day craft

The last part of February has been filled with lots of cold, yucky, dreary, rainy days, and it's been getting to all of us.  I'd been seeing these coffee filter crafts here and there, and recently at a Valentine's Day event at Annie's school.  We gave it a try ourselves this past Sunday during naptime and it was a lot of fun.

The instructions I found called for markers, but these Do-A-Dot paints they got for Christmas from Auntie Sam work much better, I think.  Whoever invented those paints is a genius -- everything good about paint but no containers and brushes to clean, and no splatter.  To make a suncatcher, you just dab the colors all over, spray them with water and let the colors run, then let dry.  I got out the paintbrushes to help blend the colors, but mostly because the girls like them.
Silly Delaney!
It's hard to find a project that will keep Annie's attention for longer than 10 minutes, but she LOVED this, and she made suncatchers from the time she got up from her nap until it was time to clean up for dinner.  Bonus: Timmy's nap went later than usual.  I'd been prepared to coax him into his booster and keep him there with whatever it took.
Annie showed us that the more water you use, the better.
I had everything we needed on hand, the girls passed the paints and water back and forth nicely for an HOUR, they cleaned up the mess (there wasn't much) themselves, and we ended up with a nice product.  Can't beat that.  

Here they are on the windows today, thumbing their noses at the gloom.
The next day I showed them how to make the remaining ones into flowers, but they weren't into that as much.  I think it took a little more dexterity than either of them has right now.  I had fun making the flowers and I like how my little bouquet cheers this place up.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Timmy at 19 months

Timmy is now 19 months old.  He's another month bigger, smarter, and more determined to do everything.  He sometimes thinks he's not a baby anymore, but then he'll grab his lovey, put his thumb in his mouth and want to sit and snuggle on my lap.  I love those moments so much.  His lovey is starting to smell like feet, however, and I really need to wash it.

He's still not a talker, but he uses lots of body language.  He shakes his shoulders "no" when I ask him if he wants something, and he wants me to keep guessing.  He points and says, "Mm?" waiting for me to figure out what he wants.  It's kind of annoying because I know he knows some words -- use them, Timmy!

He now says the following words: "dis," "dat", "yay", "uh-oh," "car," "go," "woof", "rawr", "bo-bot" (robot), "juice," "cuk" (truck), "car",  "pe-boo"(peek-a-boo), "bye-bye", "hello", "poo-poo," "bowl", "tuh-tuh" (turtle), "cheat" (treat), "ball", "cheese", "more", "Elmo" (and that's funny b/c we don't watch Elmo or Sesame Street here, but we have an Elmo couch in the playroom.), "light", "bubble," "duck," "eye."  It's still just a single word here and there mixed in with the gibberish, but I'm definitely seeing progress.
All four of his pointy teeth just poked through this month.  He's got a whole set of teeth now.

He hates being strapped into things.  Running errands is not fun.  I have to wrestle him into his carseat after every stop, and it is really hard.  Timmy has a strong core and an even stronger will.  He arches his back and twists his entire body as soon as I put him in that carseat.  I have broken nails from trying to get him strapped in.  I've had to drastically limit the stops I make on Tuesdays and Thurdays while Annie's at school.  Maybe I just go to Target or Harris Teeter once a week if I really need to.  It's so much easier to just go home until he's out of this phase.  I use more fuel but oh well.  He also hates being dressed and having his diaper changed.  I'd forgotten how hard it is to care for a toddler.  Come to think of it, I'm sure it was never this hard with his sisters.  They would fight me on being buckled in sometimes, but not every. single. time.

He is fascinated with eyes, mouths and noses.  He'll point at his own and at mine and wait for me to say the words.  I'll sit there saying, "Eyes.. mouth.. nose.. mouth.. eyes.. mouth.. ouch, my eye!" for 10 minutes at a time.
I asked Timmy if I could take a picture of his ear, hoping to get a side profile.  He thought I meant for him to show me where his ears are.
As he gets bigger and his personality gets stronger, I am starting to know how tough it can be having three kids so close together in age.  Before it was two little girls and a baby who was just along for the ride.  Now it's three little people whose wills are constantly clashing.  He and Delaney get along almost 100% of the time.  They adore each other here, there, or anywhere.  They hug and kiss a lot.  He and Annie, on the other hand, are a whole different story.  They torment each other.  She takes things she knows he wants and keeps them just out of his reach.  I've had to untangle his little fingers from her hair many times.  One time he yanked out a whole clump of her hair.  There was the time he got mad because I made him go inside the house, and he walked up to her and hit her on the head just because she happened to be standing there.  She hit him back and then they were both crying.  This hitting stuff is new to me.  I don't remember either of the girls getting mad and wanting to swing at each other, although I'm sure it happened once in awhile.  Annie is physical, but I never would have called her a hitter.  Now I see more of her hitting Delaney and vice versa.  I say to them in exasperation, "I don't hit you guys.  You don't hit each other.  We don't hit in this family."  The girls know better.  But Timmy will not understand that for a long time.  He is a toddler who is completely driven by his emotions.  He gets mad, he cries, he starts swinging in a comical up-and-down motion.  He lifts his arm way up and pauses there for a second with his hand right over his head.  Then, woosh! -- he brings it down with all the power he can muster.  Up and down  his arm goes in a storm of baby fury.  He hit me right in the face once.  I said, "No, we do not hit."  Then I put him down and walked away.  He bawled and followed me but I deliberately ignored him for a little while because for him, being deprived of my attention is the worst thing.  It hasn't happened since.

Annie always wants to do things to "help" Timmy because she likes being bigger than him and being in charge.  One day I heard Timmy  crying in the really shrill way that means he's in pain or afraid.  I rushed up to the playroom and found Annie trying to pull a shirt off him, but it was stuck on his head and he was trapped inside.
When they're in public the two of them are the best of friends.  One of my favorite things to do is just take a few seconds to watch them when I come to pick them up from the babysitting room before they know I'm there.  They are like a Fisher Price ad, all smiles and cooperation.  And they build with the blocks -- the very same blocks we have at home -- instead of just dumping them everywhere.  I'm amazed.  I should take a picture.  And then I'm told how nice they were to each other.  Of course they were, I think to myself.  You people have no idea what they're like at home.  I have friends who are either homeschooling or considering it, and I know I could never do it.  I couldn't spend that much time at home with all my kids.  They are at their absolute worst at home with me, and I'm ready to tear my hair out after a rainy Saturday.  Sending the kids to school is my salvation and theirs too, since they're not crazy about being home with me either.  After a few hours apart we're happy to see each other again.  But maybe other people's kids are different.  To each their own, anyway.  I should learn to never say never, as I have changed my mind in so many areas over the last few years.  If Tim and I get orders to a place that has crappy schools, homeschooling may be the only option.  But this is supposed to be a post about Timmy, not homeschooling, so I'll try to get back on track.

You could probably tell that Timmy got another haircut this month.  Tim thinks he looks a little dorky, and it's more of a bowl cut than last time.  I took him to the same barber as last time, and asked for the same thing as last time.  I don't know anything about boy hair.  I thought it looked cute.  But I will agree that it does look better once it's grown out a little.

Delaney brought home a book from the library about orangutans, with real pictures.  I've never seen Timmy react to any book with so much enthusiasm.  He gasped and shrieked and yelled as he looked at the furry primates, as if he were greeting old friends.  I was sorry to see that book go back to school today because it's so much fun watching Timmy look at it.

I couldn't pick my favorite picture of Timmy right after his nap, so I made this nifty collage.  I love the one of him going, "Rawr!" through the bars.  I was like, "Yikes, don't let the beast out!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Today Annie and I had the following conversation on the way to drop her off at school:
Annie:  I saw a boat and it was wivvy (really) fast!
Me: I saw it too, Annie.
Annie:  I wish I could ride on a boat.
Me:  Me too, Annie, but we'd be very cold right now if we were on a boat.  We'd be shivering and our teeth would be chattering.
Annie:  But Mama, our teeth won't be cold if we keep our mouth shut.

She says and does the cutest things when she's not driving me bonkers.  I really enjoy seeing the world through her eyes and listening to the explanations she comes up with for things.  Her sister, only 22 months older than she is, has already stopped saying little kid things in a little kid voice.  I don't even know when it happened.

I must focus on the cuteness later when she gets up from her nap and starts pushing my buttons.  Oh Annie-nanny, you can be such a booger but I love you so!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How we're doing

It's around 1 in the afternoon on a Sunday, and instead of passing out from sheer exhaustion, I'm going to take a few minutes to write an update on how we're faring as we approach the one-month mark of this deployment.  I've had a few ideas floating around after what feels like a long dry spell, but has probably only been a couple weeks.
For the most part I've been keeping the chaos at bay, even though it seems like a losing battle at times -- like when I'm throwing together dinner and I look over and see that the kids are lining up to jump off an end table onto the couch.  Sometimes Annie gives Timmy a little push and he falls, laughs, then scrambles back up on the end table to do it all again.  I just know that one of these times his head is going to bounce right off a cushion, then off the edge of the coffee table, and land on the floor.  I don't have the heart to make them stop because this winter feels so long and the boredom gets to all of us every afternoon.  (I realize that our family and friends in New England are laughing at what I call winter.)  Why not let them jump all over the couch that's 12 years old and ugly anyway?  The end tables are nice but virtually indestructible.  Everything can be straightened up in about two minutes so why do I stress out about the living room being "in shambles," and "you guys are destroying this house!"?

What else have we been up to ...?

I've been working on some long-overdo organizing projects, chief among them a storage solution for the kids' schoolwork.  It was very simple but too easy to procrastinate for the last couple of years.  I didn't like having one old cardboard box to toss the things in that they bring home and I actually like.  The result was that I threw out most of it and I knew I'd regret that one day.  So I bought two gigantic file boxes and hanging folders.  There is now a place for everything I want to save from preschool through 12th grade.  Yay me.

Next month I need to sort through the kids outgrown clothes and put them away in the enormous Sterilite bins that are slowly but surely taking over our house.  I know that one day I'll have to start going through those and at least get rid of some of it, but I don't even want to think about it right now.  I also need to tackle the shelves in the laundry room AGAIN because the art supplies are turning into a mess again, refusing to be contained by the stackable bins we got for that purpose.

I am waging a war on clutter.  Nothing is safe.  I plucked a Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus off the overcrowded bookshelf in the office today.  Who uses these anymore?  We've got Google, we'll never need a thesaurus or dictionary again.  Lately I feel like I'm about to be swallowed by stuff.

Annie has been moody and prone to temper tantrums, and changing her pajamas 10 times every night.  She cries, "It's NOT okay!" when Delaney apologizes for accidentally bumping into her.  She can also be very sweet and agreeable, and is continuing to come out of her shell at school.  Timmy has been wanting to climb up on everything and get into everything, including the stove while I'm cooking.  He also tries to stick pencils in his eye because he has watched me apply eyeliner and is a big copycat.  He scares me.  Delaney has been cheerful and easy to get along with for the most part, happy to practice reading, work on an art project or play with her Littlest Pet Shops.  They all like to run around the house screaming every chance they get.
I am finding my workouts at the Y to be a tremendous stress reliever and sanity saver.  And I'm so happy, they just added three morning HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes to the schedule.  Now I usually go five mornings a week, leave the kids in the babysitting room and do something fun that also keeps me in shape.  It is such a mood boost and I may even lose my mama pooch one day.

I implemented the plan I talked about a couple of weeks ago, where I leave Timmy at the drop-in daycare and go to Saturday evening Mass with the girls.  I've had mixed results.  Last Saturday was a debacle, with girls arguing over crayons and crayons being used on things other than paper.  Last night was much better.  At the sign of peace, an elderly man sitting in our pew told me that my kids were very well behaved and I should be proud of them.  I wondered if he was hard of hearing but thanked him all the same.  He said, "You've got to be proud of them."  Delaney turned to me and said in an excited whisper, "Mama, we just got a compliment! At school if we get 10 compliments we get a party!"  To me a compliment is its own reward.  It is so much nicer to be on the receiving end of smiles instead of scowls (and that has happened too.).

After the awesome WiFi connection that Tim for the few days he was in Kyrgizstan, it's been disappointing to us both how crappy the connection has been since he arrived in Afghanistan.  We have maybe Skyped once.  A few times I've seen a FaceTime call coming in from him, but when I answer it nothing happens.  So that's a bummer.  We have email when Tim has time for it.  He's been super busy, way more than he was on the ship.

But not too busy to shop online for a new laptop.  After two straight years of complaining about the uselessness of the iPad on deployments, he has finally broken down and bought a good old-fashioned laptop.  It is now on its way here, where I will load it up with whatever he requests before mailing it to Afghanistan.  Sigh.  I don't know anything about computer stuff.  But I know how much of a difference it will make to him to be able to watch a show in his rack before he goes to sleep at night, and do whatever else with it that he can't do with an iPad.  Like watch a DVD.  I also think that if he hadn't been sick the last few days before he left, he would have put more stuff on the iPad.  But honestly, it was time to just admit the iPad wasn't working out.  It was not what he thought it was going to be.  The only thing it is now is a really nice photo album, and he'll be so much happier with a laptop.  Before he went on the MEU a couple years ago he went back and forth for months between new laptop or fancy newfangled iPad 2.  Back and forth, back and forth.  In the end he couldn't resist the siren call of a new Apple product.  I remember waiting for the email from Best Buy and driving to pick it up only two days before he left.  It was our lucky day!  It's funny how it worked out.  And by funny, I mean more than a little annoying.  But as annoying as it is for me, I know it's way worse for him over there with nothing to watch during what little downtime he has.

Just like last deployment, we have some fun things on the calendar to look forward to.  Karen's coming to visit for Easter.  Tim Sr is coming a few weeks later, I'm pretty sure.  Annie has told me she wants a pool party for her birthday like Delaney had.  I think I can do that.  She tells me every other day, "I want a Barbie cake.  No, I change my mind, I want a princess cake.  And I'm not changing my mind again."  I try to tell her she can change her mind as many times as she wants in the next three months, but she still talks about it like it's happening next week.  Right after school gets out we are going on vacation with my family at Topsail Beach.  That's right here in NC, only about an hour-and-a-half away.  So excited.  And we have lots of smaller plans in between the bigger plans.  The days are full and busy but I still say holiday weekends are the devil.  I never realized how many of them there are until the first time Tim deployed.  One next week as a matter of fact.  I know what I'll be doing on that Saturday -- taking Delaney to a birthday party at a rollerskating rink that I've heard is straight out of the '80s.  Should be fun.  I hope there's a disco ball and they play the hokey-pokey.  I really hope I don't fall, or at least not on top of Delaney.  And I hope the babysitter doesn't cancel because there's no way I'm taking them all.

There are many of us around here shouldering the burden of solo parenting.  We bump into each other and say hi with bright smiles that belie our anxiety and fatigue.  There's somebody down the street with three kids 6 and under and a deployed husband.  We live parallel lives.  We see each other everywhere we go, to the point where it's comical.  We come and go from our neighborhood at the same time.  On nice days we chat while our kids ride bikes up and down the street.  I feel a little less crazy seeing the others in my boat.  And not just the military wives.  I have a friend whose husband works 70+ hours a week, her family is all in Indiana, she has three kids under six and a fourth on the way.  This pregnancy has been a tough one for her, she has constant aches and pains, and she's homeschooling her oldest while meeting the demands of toddlers.  She always has a smile on her face that is genuine because it is lit by an inner joy that does not depend on life being easy.  Nobody has it easy anyway.  They might make it look easy, but everyone has a cross to bear.  So when people say to me, "How do you do it?"  Or "I could never do that,"  I never really know what to say.  This life is not without its challenges and sacrifices, but it's a good life.  Now if you ask me about the last deployment, the one that was 10 months long, during which I had Timmy, that's another matter.  I actually don't know how I did that.

And that is my long-winded update on how we're doing.  Busy, busy, busy, but happy and well.