Monday, May 30, 2016

Finally, the Beach!

We survived the rainy Memorial Day weekend with Tim gone since early Sunday morning. The kids are in bed, I'm sitting here with my glass of wine, and to say I'm relieved would be an understatement. It wasn't too bad though. We made the best of it. I painted some girls' nails, I played Sorry! with Timmy twice, took a failed trip to the neighborhood pool, had a Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith movie night, and then a successful trip to the pool even though the forecast called for rain all day. I'm so glad they got it out of their systems. They've been obsessed with going to the pool.

We did get in a little beach trip before Tropical Storm (Depression?) Bonnie started rolling in. After my whinefest the other day, it occurred to me that the best time to go was Friday as soon as the kids got off the bus. It really made me happy to be able to surprise them with an impromptu trip to the beach on a beautiful day.
The girls found cute little hermit crabs in the tide pools.
I remember last May on our first beach trip of the summer, standing next to Tim and watching the kids play in the waves. I said, "Just think, this time next year we'll have a five-month-old. What do we do with a five-month-old at the beach?" Tim said, "Uh, don't we avoid taking five-month-olds to the beach?"
Not anymore!
Joey had his first mouthful of sand, and Tim snapped a pic to commemorate the occasion.
I have a friend in North Carolina who just posted pictures on Facebook of the first time she took her four kids to the beach by herself. My jaw dropped when I saw that post. Her kids range in age from 6 years to 7 months. I'm not comfortable going it alone with the kids for multiple reasons, the picture below just being one. The movement of kids and gear from the sand to the car; the rinsing of bodies, the changing of clothes, and loading the car.. yikes. It's hard to imagine doing all that by myself, but when I asked her about it she acted like it was nothing. She said the key was to pack light -- no chairs, just a picnic blanket. Just one towel. As far as safety goes, she said she stood with the baby in the surf up to her knees and made sure the other kids didn't go past her. Those things are doable. My girls would be very sad to not be allowed to go deeper, but that would have to be a condition of me taking them without their dad. I remember even when I took just the three without Tim, I did it with a friend. It's kind of daunting to be the only adult with kids at the ocean. But if I were more independent we might be able to go more than once or twice a month! 
This is really just a formality anyway; they are not clean when they get in the car.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Whiney Post

Today's one of those days I'm so frustrated by life. The weather for this whole week has been gorgeous, sunny and 82, the kind of weather that has me scrolling through pictures of bathing suits (eh!), buying a little sun tent for Joey, and dreaming about the beach. We are a mere 40 minutes away, but with Tim gone on a trip and the kids still in school, that is not a possibility. It's days that feel more like drudgery than anything, when the baby's not sleeping well, and I'm dealing with school nights, early mornings, and the long hours in between.

I've been stalking the weather forecast every day, hoping for decent weather for Saturday. That is the one possible day we have for going to the beach in this entire month. Tim leaves again early Sunday (Memorial Day weekend -- waaaaaahhhhhh!). But it looks like there's a storm ahead, and the forecast gets worse and worse every time I check.

One of the bright spots of these final, frustrating days of the school year is my daily exercise. I got a Fitbit for Mother's Day, and although it's not the most magical piece of gadgetry ever invented, I do like seeing the seeing the data it collects about my activity. I typically get 12K to 15K steps just from a regular day around my house. But I also go running at least a couple times a week, one of those times with our local Stroller Warriors chapter. I try to go for a walk around the neighborhood at least once a day. I also do a short workout video with my next-door neighbor a couple times a week.

On the agenda this morning was just a leisurely stroll. I loaded Joey into the BOB, along with my phone and my water. The air was hot and still, very buggy. I felt like a very prepared mom when I stretched the mosquito net around Joey, securing it to the canopy and the sides of the stroller. No little winged monsters were going to get my baby.

Immediately I started to feel too hot. When it's this humid and there's no breeze, it's miserable outside. These aren't even the hot months yet. Thank God we have a plan to get out of here for most of the summer, instead of being trapped inside our house for most of the day like we were last year.

Many things went through my mind as I walked around our neighborhood. There wasn't a soul out. I always like looking at all the porches. The porches are all huge, and I like seeing how everyone else has them decorated. Some people go all out with the plants; others have nothing alive. There are beautiful wreaths, all manner of seating, and sometimes just a hodgepodge of camping chairs or nothing at all. I noticed like always that some porches have a ceiling fan; most do not. This morning I also noticed the fans were on although no one was out. A pang of jealousy hit. Outdoor spaces here are not usable without a fan unless there's a good breeze. I've tried to make our own porch look welcoming, with a seating area, a table, my ferns that I love, some decor.. But that porch is a LIE, nothing but a facade. No one ever sits there and drinks lemonade. There's no fan. Why couldn't all the houses have a fan on the porch? Do these people know how lucky they are to have a fan?

Although I heard the air-conditioning calling me, I decided to pass our street and loop back around at the next street, as this was probably going to be the only outside time we'd be having today. For whatever reason I glanced down at Joey through the gap between the handlebars and the top of the canopy, and I saw that there were at least three mosquitoes inside there with him! The tiger mosquitoes that leave a golf ball size welt under your skin! So many curse words came to mind, and I flipped that bug net right up, turned around and hauled butt home.

And now I sit on my couch in the air-conditioning, ceiling fan going overhead, thinking: When is school out again? When can we go to the beach? When does Tim get orders, and we can move out of the marsh? (Tim will laugh at this because it wasn't long ago I was in favor of staying here an extra year.) When do we go north again?

Good times are right around the corner, I've just got to hang in there..

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Annie is 7!

Today we celebrate seven years of Annalise Elizabeth. Today when she woke up, Delaney and Timmy were unloading the dishwasher for her. She was scheduled to do it this morning, but I guess they didn't think it was right for her to have dishwasher duty on her birthday. There was a cluster of balloons attached to her chair at the table, all filled with helium. Only the glimmery mylar one was still standing this morning; the rest had fallen during the night. Yay for the glimmery one that had been inflated at Bi-Lo and not with a two-year-old helium tank in our closet! She asked me to fix her hair in "two pigtails that are high and coming out the side; and then braid the pigtails." She accessorized her school uniform with dangly heart earrings and the arm candy she never leaves home without -- a stack of colorful ponytail holders on her wrist. When I asked her to smile for a picture, she struck a silly pose. Tim asked her if her teacher was going to have the class sing 'happy birthday', and she emphatically said no. He asked if her friends at school knew it was her birthday, and she said no. I asked her if her teacher knows not to make a thing out of her birthday; or would she be upset if she did? Annie told me that there's going to be a sub today who won't know. Annie loves her birthday, but doesn't want it celebrated at school. It's a puzzling contradiction, but those are part of what makes Annie Annie.
Despite her best efforts, she's reached the age of seven with every single baby tooth intact, one with a charming chip. Two days ago, she came home from school and told me about a plan that she and her friend Avah had come up with, to get her to lose a tooth. The plan made me so nervous I wondered if I should stop her, and texted Tim saying as much. It involved Annie on a trampoline with a string tied to the tooth and something else. Since Avah had recently lost a tooth a few months before, with the aid of a string tied to an arrow, I knew she meant business. But Tim didn't think I should stop them, so I decided to let the free-range parenting side of me win (it usually does), and just hope for the best. A couple hours later she returned, telling me about how the tooth had started to bleed and hurt, and that had been the end of that. I do think it's safe to say this is her year for the Tooth Fairy.
Her pottery painting birthday party on Saturday was a resounding success, to the delight of myself and the mothers of the other girls present. Even though she had asked for this party, we all know that she doesn't always enjoy being the center of attention. (See the first paragraph, in which she is keeping her birthday a secret at school.) But Annie must have decided to embrace it for one day, because she really seemed to relish the role of birthday girl, and she was so excited about everything. She thanked everyone for their presents and even gasped and said, "I love it!" a couple times. The gift she was most excited about was a little blue turtle named Powder who moves like a real turtle and can swim. She got it from "Other Delaney" down the street. "Other Delaney" was so happy to see Annie happy.
First grade has been good for her. She remains happiest sitting at a desk with a book or busywork, but her teacher tells me that she's been growing more comfortable with speaking in front of the class and working in groups. This is huge. Last year in Kindergarten Annie would ask her teacher for math worksheets to do instead of "stations", in which kids get to move freely around the classroom and do a number of different activities. She's in the gifted math class this year, and I am proud of her, although I worry that the term "gifted" can put pressure on a kid. I never had to worry about that. I think at her age I was still counting on my fingers. (Who am I kidding, I still count on my fingers!)
Annie told me one day that she'd made her math teacher laugh so hard that the other class had been disrupted. I asked her how, and she told me that when the teacher had said, "I laugh like a pig," she had replied, "I would agree with you." I laughed too as I envisioned her saying it, solemn and wide eyed. Her teachers probably love it anytime she pipes up.
This is how she left her bed this morning: a pile at the foot that includes Shel Silverstein's mug on the back cover of The Giving Tree. It is messy, and the shams are on the floor as usual. But it is made.
Today when she and Tim get home, they will make the cake that she picked at the commissary: dark chocolate fudge on top and bottom -- interesting choice. Then we will eat her favorite dinner, tacos. Afterward we will sing 'happy birthday', eat cake and ice cream, and she will open presents from us and her grandparents. I couldn't ask for a better day. Happy birthday to Annie!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Joey: 5 Months

Joey's been very busy this month: busy growing, busy depriving me of sleep, and craziest of all, busy becoming MOBILE. I could barely keep him still long enough to take his official five-month picture, and that's why none of them turned out very well. Boo. No more perfect posing for me like a little doll!
A few weeks ago he started rocking back and forth on all fours and occasionally going after something he really wanted. Now he does less rocking and more of what I call "inchworming" -- pushing himself forward off his hands and knees, then getting up on all fours and doing it again. This is a first for us, a baby moving at four months -- about two months before his big siblings. People comment that it's because he wants to keep up with them. We say it's more likely he wants to get away. He loves them, but they can be a bit much sometimes. As I type this he's going after a ball, pushing it away, and going after it again. It's the cutest thing. Here's a video of him in action, coming after my camera.
He sat once for about seven seconds. Timmy and I cheered for him as if he were the first baby to ever do that. He is starting to go to sitting from all fours, which is the reverse of what his siblings did. They got to be really good sitters first, and then they went to all fours.
His sleep habits have not been making me happy at all. I think he's had two good nights of sleep in the last month. The first was in the hotel in Charlotte. The second was a couple nights ago when he only got up once at 3 and again at 6. It really stinks. It can be hard to settle him down at night because sometimes he goes crazy in that pack 'n play. He flops like a fish on land, rolls this way and that, turns circles, does mountain climbers, downward facing dog and who knows what else. It's like he's got restless body syndrome. Eventually he wears himself out and goes to sleep, and the rest of the night is unpredictable. He might wake up hungry at 10, and/or 1. Sometimes he can make it until 6, but other times I'll hear him again at 3, look at the clock and think, 'Ugh, didn't we just do this?' I really hope he moves past this phase soon. I just read Annie's and Timmy's 5-month updates and I see that was a crappy month of sleep for them too. After reading their next couple of updates, I see that I can expect things to get better by month 7. I need a really, really good concealer.

He takes a few naps a day, the first being about an hour after he wakes up, and the last one usually right before dinner. They don't usually last more than an hour, so if I want to nap myself, I have to drop what I'm doing and go right to bed the minute he goes to sleep sometime between 12:30 and 1:30. It doesn't always work because Timmy has been phasing out his afternoon nap and he makes so much noise in his room with his toys during "quiet time".
He wears 3-6 and 6-9 in clothes, depending on the brand. He's in a size 3 diaper. He has tiny fat feet that just outgrew those itty-bitty boat shoes I loved to put on him. I have sandals that fit him lengthwise, but I have to squish them on because his feet are so fat. I keep him barefoot 99.9% of the time, but sometimes I do wish I could put shoes on him.
He is the most scrumptious baby and he smells wonderful. I love to bury my face in his belly or neck and hear his squeal or his breathless little laugh. I love the way his eyes light up when he sees me, and even the way he sometimes starts to cry when he hears my voice. I love to see the way his siblings fuss over him. They fight over him too sometimes, and I don't like that but I kind of understand. They want their Joey, and they don't want anyone else getting in the way. It's one thing for them to want their Joey, and quite another to want their Joey at 6 on Saturday morning. That's the time that Tim has enlisted Annie's help a couple times, to take care of him while he works out and I get a little more sleep. She's a keeper, that Annie.
He is still exclusively breastfed and has never taken a bottle. We tried a couple times, and I still freeze the milk if I have to pump due to oversupply, but most of the time it's not worth the hassle. If I have to go anywhere without him, I just don't stay away long. If I have to stay away for long, he comes with. No big deal. He will only need to nurse this much for a few more months.

We're all just so crazy about this baby!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Fun DIY Mother's Day Gift

I'm patting myself on the back for this year's Mother's Day gifts for the grandmothers. I had originally been thinking along the lines of a monogrammed tote from somewhere, but when I searched Pinterest, I found this and loved it. Who can't use another shopping bag? I ordered these from Amazon, and noted that in the reviews people were happily surprised that the bag is wider at the top than what the photo shows. I agree, I like the shape the bag actually is, better than the one pictured. I used acrylic paint I already had, instead of fabric paint; and fabric markers. I was so happy with how they turned out that I left them sitting on the kitchen counter for at least a week after they were done.

I think Tim's and my mom both loved them, but both asked right away which hand was Delaney's (the red one) and which one was Annie's. Maybe I could have them all sign or initial their hand prints next time I see them.