Monday, January 27, 2014

Timmy at 2 1/2

This little man has a huge personality.  He has a lot to say and he is less content all the time with being the little brother along for the ride.  Case in point: yesterday while Delaney and Annie were at school and it was a cold gloomy day, I decided to take Timmy to open play at the gymnastics place his sisters go to.  On the way there, I could tell he didn't understand what he was going to do there, as he just associates gymnastics with being the place where he has to pass time with me in a waiting area while the girls take their classes.  Finally it dawned on him and he said, "Timmy go in the door?"  I said, "Yes, you get to go in the door and climb on the stuff and play!"  He sighed, "Yaayyy!" like it was the best news he'd heard in awhile.  He had such a blast and I was glad to have something like that to take him to on such a crappy day.  And I also realized that the next time I have him in the waiting room with me while the girls are in class, it's going to be a little harder to keep him happy.  But oh well..  He has also mentioned on more than one occasion that he wants to go to school.  I considered putting him in the 2-year-old class at Annie's school, but in the end Tim and I decided against it.  Two-year-old preschool is kind of a waste of money for one thing, although it might be warranted in some cases; and besides, I can do things with him that he'd get to do at school.  (and it won't cost $160 a month.)  I've started taking him to 'Time out for Toddlers' at the library on Friday mornings, where he gets to listen to stories, sing songs and watch puppets with other kids his age.  There are plenty of things like that to do around here, but mostly I think he just wants to be around other kids and play in an unstructured environment.  He gets to do that at the Y.  I think that's what he thinks school is, anyway.  Or maybe he just wants to be included in something his sisters are doing -- that's the real reason he wants to go to school, I think.  He wants to do every little thing they do.  I have already looked into preschools in SC for him next year, but I'm not even sure I want to send him yet.  I like to gather the information and then sit on it until I decide what I really want to do.

He communicates so well with us now, and I just love hearing all the words that come out of him.  He's been talking full sentences for months now, but occasionally the words get a little scrambled.  I asked him what a fish says once, and he said, "No fish say nuffing."  Another time Tim told him he was a big baby, and Timmy replied indignantly, "No me big baby."  I realized not long ago that I hadn't been taking any videos of the adorable way he talks right now.  This morning I had him all to myself while Tim was at a parade with the girls.  I took video after video of him talking as he did different things.  I know I will always be glad I did.  I will share one here for any grandparents or aunts who want to watch.:)
Tim gives him a hard time sometimes for being a baby because he thinks it's his job as a dad to "toughen him up."  He pouts, whines and cries over a lot of things -- fights with his sisters, hearing the word "no," and careening into walls or furniture a little too hard.  Tim is annoyed at Timmy's tears and says, "He's such a big baby."  I say, "He is, quite literally, a big baby.  He's 2!"

Lest you think Tim is immune to his charms, a few days ago I watched the most precious scene unfold between the two of them.  They were watching snowboarding on TV, and Tim told Timmy to ask me if he could go snowboarding.  Timmy said to me, "Timmy go no-bird?"  Having not heard the preceding conversation, I was like, "What?"  I made him repeat it a couple more times, and Tim finally told me, "Snowboard."  I snickered, like "Sure, you want to go snowboarding."  Then for some reason Timmy beckoned his dad to come down to his level so he could tell him a "secret."  Tim hunkered down next to Timmy, who then took his dad's ear in one hand and chin in the other to pull him closer so he could whisper in his ear.  I could see on Tim's face that he was completely melting inside, and who wouldn't be, with those tiny hands on your face and that little voice whispering in your ear?

He is still in a crib, and it's looking like he will be until we move this summer.  I am happy with him in the crib, and I think it's funny that, climber that he is, he has not thought to try to climb out yet.  I think he likes being there, in that cozy enclosed space.  Right now the plan is just to move to the next house and when we set up his bed, set it up as a toddler bed.  But then again, maybe we should convert the bed in the next couple months so he doesn't have quite so much change to deal with at once..?  I just hate to mess with anything that's working well, and I don't want him roaming his room during naps and at night.  I like him contained.  I will just procrastinate that decision a while longer.  I'll put toddler bed up on the shelf next to potty-training, because I can't decide when to try that either.  Those two things might have to happen around the same time because he'll need to be able to get out of bed to use the potty.
I've noticed that his attention span is getting longer, and I no longer have to be so quick to say, "Put everything away because Timmy's coming!"  Not long ago he played a board game with us -- "Hi ho Cherry-o".  It was the first time ever.  He played with us until the game's completion, obediently putting apples in his basket or back on the tree.  It was so much fun for me to get to play a game with all three of them.  He plays lengthy games of pretend with his sisters, the current favorite being "Patch the Puppy Prince."  They pretend to be a family of royalty: they are the queen and princess, I am the cook, Tim's the butler, and the star, Prince Patch.  He yaps and barks and crawls obediently after them all over the house.  And he gives everyone puppy kisses.  I tell him, "Patch, you're the best puppy ever!" I think I like that game the best.
Sometimes he does inexplicably mean things like hitting his sisters on the head with toys or crashing into them with his cozy coupe while they're trying to ride their bikes.  I had to put his toy hammer out of reach indefinitely because no matter how many timeouts he got, or how many times he said he was sorry, he just couldn't get it through his heads that hammers are for nails, not people's heads.  What it is, we think, is that he hasn't learned to distinguish the line between having fun and hurting people.  When Tim is roughhousing with the three of them and Timmy is pinned to the floor, he panics and shrieks loudly to be freed.  As soon as he's free he runs right back into the fray.  It's easy to see how the line between having fun and being mean could get blurry.  Eventually he'll figure it out but his sisters shouldn't turn their backs on him until he does.

His sisters love him so much when he's not clobbering them with toys.  When Annie goes in to see him when he's up for his nap, he'll keep asking her for things and she'll keep bringing them.  They love hearing the funny things he says in his cute little voice, and he delights in the nonsensical potty humor that sends them into peals of giggles.  He can be pesky at times when he comes bumbling into the midst of their little games, but then there are the magical times when they include him and they have fun together.  It makes me smile to see how smitten they are by him.
He is a hardheaded boy and he constantly tests his limits.  Sometimes I think he wakes up in the morning and says to himself, "Today is the day I wear Mama down."  And we do everything the hard way, all day long.  But he is my little buddy and I do love him so.  It makes me so happy to just look at him.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day in the Life: Winter 2014

Today is Tuesday, January 21.

5:45 a.m. My alarm goes off.  I turn it off and just lie there.  I agreed weeks earlier to Tim's suggestion that I try getting up at 5:45 every weekday morning for the month of January.  For about a week, I was really good about it, dragging myself out of bed AT 5:45, and having a good head start on the kids.  But after that first week, it has only gotten harder and harder.  This morning I do manage to rise at 6 or a few minutes after.  This is a vast improvement from waking up at 7 when Annie comes to get me, and all of them having to deal with a zombie for a mother.  I make the bed, get a cup of coffee, and just sit at the table while Tim gets ready to leave for work.  The four day weekend is over, back to the grind.  I sit there kind of uncomprehendingly, like 'Why am I here and not in bed?'  Tim laughs at me and takes this picture with my phone.  
Yup, this early wake up time is working out really well for me.
6:45 a.m. For what it's worth, I've had my time to drink my coffee, gather my thoughts, and check Facebook and email.  It's time to get the girls up.  Annie can't wait for breakfast, so she's happy to get up and get going.  Using one of our little red stools she scrambles up on top of the counter to choose her breakfast.  Dinosaur oatmeal today.  Delaney takes a few more minutes, but she appears in the kitchen soon afterward, dressed and wanting some oatmeal too.  As they begin eating, I hear Timmy call, "Mama, where are you?"  and I get him up at at a little after 7.  At 7:30 we take Delaney to school.  
7:50 a.m. Back at home I have Annie and Timmy get dressed.  We don't have much on the agenda today, just Piyo at 9:30 and a quick grocery store trip.  Annie tells me that laying the clothes on the floor helps her decide what goes with what.  I think she does a great job.  Timmy wants to take off his own pajamas.  I clean up the breakfast mess in the kitchen and we putz around the house for awhile longer.
9:07 a.m.  We go to the Y, and I drop the kids off in the babysitting room and go to my class.  Timmy -- ugh, sometimes that kid is just so difficult.  He wants to sprint out the door when it's time to leave, and I have to catch him by the back of his shirt.  He does not want to hold my hand crossing the parking lot.  Instead he wants to go inspect the puddles around the bases of the flagpoles.   I hand Annie my yoga mat and then my water bottle so I can lift him up over my shoulder and we can get out of there.  I know it's natural for him to want to explore, but I don't feel like spending even a couple extra seconds crossing the parking lot.  I want to get to the store and get home.  The random thought occurs to me that the sight of us -- a mom bearing a kicking and squirming toddler, with a preschooler walking alongside -- is such a normal part of the scenery in this parking lot that we are probably invisible any other people who happen to be around.   

11:00 a.m. We get to Harris Teeter and as we drive into the parking lot Timmy says, "I found Harris Teeter, Mama."  I say, "Oh look, here we are, Harris Teeter.  Timmy found it!"  It is crowded there as usual, but I only need to get two bunches of bananas, a pair of avocados, and a salad.  It is much easier leaving Harris Teeter than it was leaving they Y.  Being able to zoom through the parking lot with Timmy in a cart has a lot to do with that, I'm sure.  I'm really hungry after that, especially after seeing the kids chow down their free sugar cookies, so I eat a banana when we get back to the car.  I try to be sneaky about it since we have a rule about not eating in the car (that I do actually abide by most of the time), but Annie catches me.  
11:30 a.m. We get home, I throw something together that will pass for lunch, and then it's outside to play.  Tomorrow promises another arctic blast, possible snow and super-low temperatures, so I say let's soak up some vitamin D while we can.  Today is a beautiful day, sunny and 60.  Very windy, though.  The loblolly pines are swaying back and forth, and we give up trying to toss a bouncy ball after it keeps getting away and rolling toward the rocky hole.

Tim has removed the training wheels and pedals from the girls' bikes to help them learn how to ride, after showing them a YouTube video of some kids learning that way.  Progress is slow going for both of them, with lots of pushing and not a lot of gliding.  We don't have hills, and if we did that would be a little scary since they don't have brakes.  Tim thinks once spring comes and we have more nice days, they'll get more practice and catch on.  Timmy will never have training wheels.  I don't have any better ideas.  I didn't learn to ride a bike myself until I was 7, and as for having brakes I was too scared to use them.  I jumped off the bike while it was in motion to avoid having to stop and then, presumably, fall over.  Or run into a wall.  Annie has little patience for this process and today she practices for maybe five minutes before deciding that Timmy's Thomas the Train trike is more fun (and a lot less work).

Timmy pushes his "cozy coot" as fast as he can from one end of the driveway to the other.  I think to myself, 'Get all your energy out because naptime is coming.'
12:45 p.m. Annie is protesting having to take a nap.  Over the long weekend we let her skip it a couple of times, but I still think she needs it most of the time.  I tell her that I'll set Mr. Clock to wake up early, and then she can come out and have some craft time by herself before Delaney gets home and Timmy gets up.  She brightens at that and watches while I set her naptime on the My Tot Clock for an hour-and-a-half instead of two hours.  She reads us a BOB book for storytime and then they both go down for a nap.  

Each and every day for as long as we've had one well-established naptime in this family (since Delaney was 6 or 8 months old?), that time of the day comes and I have this moment of glee like, 'I can do anything!  What do I do first?'  Every time, it never gets old.  I upload the photos I've taken with my camera and I'm glad I did.  The lens is obviously filthy and there's a visible smudge in almost every photo.  I Google the best way to clean the lens of my camera, a Canon S100, and I get, among other things, breathe on it and use a microfiber cloth.  Good, that's what I wanted to do.  The lens is tiny so I put the cloth over the end of a pencil and do it that way.  I lie down for a little while and then get up and make some coffee.  All in all, naptime is usually wasted time for me.  I have friends who could take over the world if only they had two free hours in a day, but that's not me.
2:30 p.m. Annie tiptoes out of her room and as promised, I get down some crafty stuff for her.  This kit was a Christmas gift and it has an instruction book and glitter glue in every color of the rainbow.  Annie wants me to help her make a dragonfly, so I do that.  I grumble a little when she wants me to help her make the crown next, because I kind of wish these were activities she could do by herself.  I do not find these activities to be as much fun as she does.  But it makes her so happy and what do I have better to do?

3:10 p.m. Annie has to put everything away because Delaney will be home in a few minutes and she'll need the kitchen table for homework.  When Delaney gets off the bus she tells me she almost missed her stop because she was reading a book.  I chuckle at this.  She tells me she wants to stay outside, and I tell her to play outside while she can because tomorrow is going to be freezing cold.  "Yeah, and there's going to be a two-hour delay," she says.  Another one, that's just great.  Annie only goes to school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 12.  A two-hour delay for Delaney automatically means no school for Annie -- that's their policy.  Between holidays and inclement weather, poor Annie has maybe gone to school twice this month and I know she misses it.  I give Delaney until 4 to run around outside, and Annie joins her.  Then I go in and get Timmy out of bed.  His naps have been only two hours in the last couple of weeks instead of the three that I've been accustomed to.  Oh well, I'll take two hours.

They are obsessed with that stupid moat around our house.  I tell them, "Please don't get your shoes wet."  I can't keep them away from that.  I have high hopes for the next house not being surrounded by a moat and not having a rocky hole in front.  
4:10 p.m. I call Delaney in and tell her to get started on her homework.  She's really hungry too so I let her have a snack.  I think she's doing more munching than homework, which is why I have to allow at least an hour-and-a-half for this whole process.  I puree the beans and chop the veggies for the black bean soup I'm making.  She needs a lot of assistance from me tonight.  It's almost like her teacher is frantically trying to comply with Common Core standards because there are extra worksheets and changes to the reading and journaling assignment.  There's a worksheet that is kind of social studies, reading, and math all at the same time.  She has to read it and then answer math questions, and then answer a "higher level critical thinking question" pertaining to it in her reading log.  It makes my head spin.  When I was her age I was in my second year of kindergarten, and I don't even think I heard the term "critical thinking" until high school.  I am dismayed to see that she now has to write in her reading log four times a week instead of two.  I sigh because homework already takes up such a huge chunk of the night for her.  My brain is fried by the end of the day, I wonder how she feels.

Annie and Timmy have been awfully quiet upstairs for awhile, and I know they're just staring at the TV.  All I can do is be glad they are not fighting and needing my attention, and I hope their noses aren't pressed against the screen.  Delaney gets done and puts everything away around 5:30.
5:45 p.m.  I thought that grilled cheese and black bean soup would be an easy dinner, but I find myself aggravated at all the steps to making grilled cheese.  I have to slice the bread, for one.  It's honey wheat bread, fresh from the breadmaker.  I'm in a hurry and it shows.  Then I find out that unevenly sliced bread is hard to "grill" evenly.   I'm all for homemade bread except when I'm hungry and impatient and don't have time for it.  Perhaps next time I should slice the bread at a time when I'm not so hungry.
Tim texts me that he'll be home in 15 minutes -- yay!  I am starvin' like Marvin.  I will never, ever get used to eating dinner at 6.  And by this time I've had another banana and a chocolate oatmeal bar to get through the afternoon. 

When he gets home at 6, I am impatient to eat dinner and trying to get everything on the table.  He starts horsing around with them, and there's laughing and shrieking and feet pounding all over.  I say something like, "It's not play time, it's time to eat.  Everybody sit down!"  Tim says, "OK, OK, everybody sit down, let's eat."  Mama's hangry.
The kids are almost too hyper to sit at the table, talking nonstop, and Timmy has to be told repeatedly to sit down.  Tim wolfs down his dinner, and I keep waiting for him to comment on the soup since he's never had it before.  But he doesn't say anything, and it always drives me nuts when I make something new and he doesn't say anything about it.  When he makes me something he doesn't even let me finish the first bite before saying, "Well?"  To make matters worse, I don't even know if I want to hear what he has to say because I don't even like the soup myself.  It didn't turn out the way it did last time and I don't know why.  All I taste is the bean juice, none of the other stuff I added for flavor.  I notice he cleans his bowl, though.  Later he does tell me that he liked it, and thought the only thing it was missing was "those multicolored tortilla strips."

Tim mentions that he thinks the reason he was in a funk yesterday and had a hard time running today is he might be coming down with something.  I say, "Please don't be coming down with something."  Then I tell him, "Take a zinc.  If it's a virus it will take care of it quick."  He doesn't want to, and I chide him for being "as stubborn as the kids."  He finally takes it (probably just to get me to leave him alone) and says, "What happens if I wake up sick tomorrow?"  I tell him, "Then I'll give you another one!"  He insists on doing the doing the dishes even though he's not feeling 100%.  I feel bad and try to do them myself, but he says he'll do them, it's no problem.  Doing the dishes is a nice thing he does for me, and I appreciate it.
7:15 p.m. The night is starting to get away from us.  It's time to get the kids to bed.  They clean the playroom and have their little treat.  I give them each a teaspoon of raw honey (as I do every night -- my way of trying to keep them healthy)  We're skipping bath/shower tonight.  They brush their teeth and I read them their religion lesson and they say prayers.  Around 7:45 it's lights out.  They go to sleep pretty quickly tonight.

Again the feeling of glee -- freedom!  I get in my jammies and pour a glass of wine.  I start a load of wash and sit on the couch.  Tim browses Militarybyowner, and jots down addresses of houses we should look at when we take a short trip to Parris Island at the end of this month.  I read a magazine.  I tell Tim to take a picture of me reading this magazine because I have fallen short in the selfies department for this day in the life.  I've avoided the selfies the same way I've avoided putting on real clothes and fixing my hair.  I say, "Take a picture of me doing what I do."  He says, "Go get your wine."  Too late, it's all gone.
We are both in bed by 10.  And that's another great day in our life.  It's a lot of work for me to get these posts done, but I am always so happy to have them done.  One day this will all make a great coffee table book that our kids and grandkids will enjoy for a long time to come.  Thanks to Laura of Navigating the Mothership for hosting.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Snippets of dinner conversation (in which Delaney ponders the future)

Delaney shows Tim a card she made for him this afternoon and it has a sticker on it that says "daddy's girl."
Tim: Yeah, who's daddy's girl?
Delaney:  You are.  Wait, I am.  I'm the girl and you're the daddy.
Me: I'm glad we've got that established.
A little while later, after siblings have left the table..
Delaney: How old will I be when Annie's 15?
Me: What's 15 + 2?
Delaney: 17.  What will happen when I'm 17?
Tim: We'll be getting ready to kick you out.  You'll be a senior in high school.
Delaney: What happens when I'm 18?
Tim: You'll be a freshman in college.  And where are you going for college?
Delaney: Notre Dame.
Me: Yeah, because he can't wait to send you off to the midwest where he won't see you for months at a time because you're daddy's girl.
Tim: That's not true.  I'll be up there for at least every home game.
Delaney: Yay!
Me: Football season only lasts a couple months and after that you won't hear from daddy.
Tim: No, that's not true because you'll play a sport too, and I'll want to come watch you play.
Delaney: What happens when I'm 19?
Tim: You'll be a sophomore in college.
Delaney: What happens when I'm 20?
Tim: You'll be a junior in college.
Delaney: What happens when I'm 21?
Tim: You graduate college.
Delaney: What happens when I'm 22?
Tim: Well, that depends.  If you're going to be a vet you have to go to school for that next.  It will probably be for four years.
Me: You can go to Massachusetts for that. [After that follows a brief discussion of Tufts Veterinary School, and how they've got lots of land and horses..]
Delaney: Oh good, because I want to live in Massachusetts.  What happens after vet school?
Tim: You go to work as a vet.
Delaney: How long will I have to work?  [After going back and forth a couple more times we figure out that she's trying to ask how long a typical workday is.]
Me: Probably normal workdays, morning to evening.
Delaney: Good, because I want to make sure I have time to be a mom.  I'll have time to be a mom too, right?
Me: Yes, Delaney, you'll have time to be a mom too, if that's what you want to do.
Tim: How about you just worry about finishing first grade.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No-bake chocolate oatmeal bars

When I woke up this morning it was 18 degrees outside, a low that broke a 44-year-old record.  Tim got ready for work in the pitch dark because our power was out.  It went out twice this morning, but thankfully it was for no more than 45 minutes the first time, and about 15 minutes the second.  I was so grateful when it came back on and stayed on because I envisioned how my morning was going to go otherwise, and I didn't like it one bit.  Like everyone else we've had a couple days of extreme cold, but today's high is supposed to be 44 and after that we're back in the 50s and 60s.  I don't know how you people do it who have to put up with the freezing weather all winter long.  I would lose my mind.  Last night I was complaining to Tim about being cooped up indoors with the kids all day, and I said, "This is the winter of my discontent."  "It's two days!" he replied.  Yeah well, it's been long enough and I'm glad that the deep freeze is over.

With it being so cold, I feel like all I do is eat or think about eating.  (Or maybe that's just the way I am no matter what the weather.)  I discovered a new snack recipe that I want to share because it is amazing.  It's healthy too -- although probably not in the amounts we've been consuming.  I found it on Moneysavingmom and modified it a little to suit our tastes.  At first glance it's a lot like our beloved no-bake energy bites.  But the coconut oil changes the texture entirely, making it creamier; and the subtle hint of coconut flavor (I don't like a lot of coconut flavor and that's one of the modifications I made to the recipe, leaving coconut flakes out) takes it to a whole new level.  A pan of these lasts only a couple days in our house.

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and oil over medium heat in a saucepan.  Once it's melted all melted together, remove from heat and mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until chocolate is melted.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan and put it in the fridge.  Once it's hardened, cut into bars.

We've found out that it's best to get them off the bottom of that pan as soon as possible because even though it is greased, the bars become cemented in there over time.  Then Tim has to chisel them out bit by bit with a spatula.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in review

I've never done one of these year-in-review things, but I checked out a few other people's and I'm inspired to do one of my own on this rainy afternoon.  It's fun to look back at all the ups and downs, where we began and where we ended up.

January - After a fun Christmas and New Year in Massachusetts, our 2013 got off to a rough start.  Tim got the flu, was sick for several days, then got better just in time to leave for Afghanistan.  Yay.  And then Annie and I both got sick, and I felt like crap for basically an entire month.  I'd never been sick like that.  Even when I was mostly better, I still felt sore and tired and just 'blah' for awhile after that.
Feverish cheeks in full bloom
February - I started to emerge from my funk, do some organizing projects and 'fun mom' stuff like crafts with the kids and handmade valentines.  My workouts helped keep me in a good state of mind.  Tim and I got back in the habit of writing one long email "letter" a day, and that was something to look forward to.  It was hard adjusting to single parenting again, but I knew that better times would be coming in the spring when it got warmer and the family visits started.
March - That was a good month.  Everybody was healthy.  Delaney started playing soccer for the first time.  I got a new haircut and new dress that did wonders for my morale.  Tim and I celebrated six years of marriage on the 17th.  My sister-in-law Karen came to stay with us for Easter.  I had nothing to complain about that month.
April - I washed the car.  That's noteworthy because it might be the only time I did it while Tim was gone.  I wrangled Annie and Timmy at soccer games and practices.  Tim Sr came to visit for a few days.  I brought Timmy to a walk-a-thon at Delaney's school, and my heart melted at the sight of them walking around hand-in-hand, and I watched their friendship developing.  
May - Tim's mom came to visit for a few days, and we had the best ever sunset ride through downtown in a 'Cinderella coach'.  It is the standard by which all future carriage rides will be measured.  We also celebrated Annie's 4th birthday with a butterfly themed pool party at the Y.  Annie graduated from three-year-old preschool.  Tim hijacked my blog in order to give me and anyone else who cared to read, a very special message.  On Memorial Day, after I foolishly killed the car battery the night before, we made it to the beach for the first time of the season.  It was around this point in time that I decided I might be happy living in North Carolina for the rest of my life. 
June - Delaney had her last day of kindergarten, and we moms waited with water guns and lollipops at the bus stop that afternoon.  (You know it wasn't my idea, I'm not that fun.)  In Topsail Island, NC we shared a beachfront house with my mom, dad, a couple of my sisters, and a LOT of uninvited guests.  But we had the best time together.  Driving home after that week was over was such a letdown for me.  Then, on the 25th, my birthday, I got the best surprise: Tim would be coming home three weeks early, in July instead of August.  Oh, happy day!  I took the kids' hands and danced around the house that day.  
July - It was the best of times.  On July 4, we picnicked and watched fireworks with friends.  My sister Grace visited and we celebrated Delaney's 6th birthday -- which was actually a fiasco, but let's not focus on that part.  It was an ocean-themed pool party at the Y, and I ran out of helium for the balloons and forgot to bring cutlery.  I said I wasn't going to focus on that, right?  After that I was blessedly done with birthday parties for at least another year.  The girls did some swim lessons.  Our jellybean jar ran out of jellybeans, and on the 18th, we welcomed Tim home.  On the 25th Timmy turned 2 and had an especially happy birthday with Daddy there to celebrate with him.
August - We went to the beach a few times.  Tim rescued a couple of drowning kids one morning before the lifeguards had posted.  I got Timmy the 'little man' haircut he still sports today.  I thought I'd be heartbroken to see that mop go, but then I could see so much more of his face and he looked so handsome.  Right before school started back up we had our own family vacation in Emerald Isle, NC.  Tim and I became even more convinced that we'd like to retire in North Carolina and live on the beach.  We searched for homes online, but in that price range it's still just a dream.  Then Delaney started first grade and that was the end of an amazing summer.
September - Annie started three-day-a-week Pre-K.  We switched gears from summer to fall, which was a little painful for me after our eventful summer.  I had to forego my favorite Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning workouts because the times did not work out with preschool drop-off.  I used that as an excuse to slack off for the next three months.  Both girls started soccer at the Y.  Tim got orders to Parris Island, SC for July 2014.  We were both relieved to know where we are headed so many months in advance, and happy to know we'd be spending the next three or four years in the south and close to the beach.
October - Tim's parents came to visit for a few days and we celebrated Tim's birthday.  The kids did a Fun Run and we did a 10K (and did pretty well if we say so ourselves).  Tim dragged the girls out of bed so they could see the Red Sox win the World Series.  I just asked them if they remember and they don't.  We went trick-or-treating on Halloween.  For some reason I don't like Halloween and I'm always glad when it's over.  One of my eccentricities, I guess.  I could care less about it and I don't understand the fuss.  Also, I don't like having so many people come to my front porch when my potted mums have already turned brown.  
November - Annie scored two goals in her last soccer game.  Karen came to visit.  Tim and I went to the Birthday Ball.  We had a quiet Thanksgiving here in North Carolina.  I weaned Timmy and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  The girls started gymnastics.
December - A busy whirlwind of a month.  School Christmas stuff, Tim's unit Christmas stuff, Christmas shopping.  We baked a lot of cookies.  Delaney got pinkeye and I chopped off a lot of hair.  We watched Annie be an angel in the Christmas play.  And of course, we went to Ohio.  I took the girls to see Frozen the day after we got home (I waited so long for it to be at the movie theater on base!)  At the funny parts when everyone laughed, Annie laughed loudest of all and it was hilarious.  We loved that movie.  On New Year's Eve we celebrated with sushi for everyone, watching Man of Steel after the kids went to bed, and then bed for me at 10:30.
When I was looking back through my photos, it took me a few seconds to realize that Annie was not the one standing by herself in the front; she was the one right behind, looking at the camera and sucking on her own tongue.  And  I'd just been thinking, 'Oh, there's a photo where Annie isn't sucking on her tongue!'
I have to chuckle at this picture because this is not the way they normally play, and this is definitely not the way they usually LOOK when they play.  They were wearing their new clothes (right before we left for the movie) and showing off their new baby dolls and baby doll gear.  I was tickled because they looked like a couple of suburban moms out for a stroll.
What a year!  I don't see how we could top a year like that.  Look at all the things we did, and how much the kids grew.  I feel happy and grateful and more than a little wistful.    

Happy New Year!