Monday, October 19, 2009

Annalise update: 5 months

I have never done monthly updates before on either of the kids. Usually, the updates coincide with doctor checkups, and I've used those as milestones. But they change so much faster than that, and I decided first to do monthly updates for Annalise since she's an infant, and infants grow and change so quickly. Then I decided, why not do it for Delaney too? Better late than never. At some point later on, these days are going to be hazy memories for me. So I'd better start recording things!

Today Annalise is five months old. I got on the scale with her the other day, and she weighed 17 pounds. She wears size 6-9 clothes, and size 3 diapers. She sits up with support from the Boppy, and is getting stronger and more balanced all the time. She does a mini-pushup while on her belly, and she tries to move her knees under her as if to crawl. She rolls over from belly to back, but not often. She can almost roll over back to belly, as in her whole body except for her her head and one shoulder. Weird, I know.

She is mostly a contented baby, happy to lie in her activity gym, play with her toys and her toes, and watch her sister run around. I have to go to another room to nurse her, because as long as Delaney's up and about, all little sissy wants to do is follow her around with her eyes. She swivels her head 180 degrees when Delaney runs by. She still loves her Exersaucer, which allows her to swivel her whole body, and surrounds her with toys. Best $20 I ever spent!

Hand her a toy, and it goes straight to her mouth. Today, I handed her a little noisemaker at the base library's storytime, and I had to stop her from mouthing it. I try not to be too hyper about germs, but it is flu season, after all. She drools incessantly, and sucks on her fingers a lot. Last night, it was hard getting her to bed, and I suspect teething as the culprit. She's constantly mouthing her hands.

Lately her eating schedule has been a little out of whack. On average, I'd say she still nurses about every two hours. But sometimes she'll go five or six hours between feedings, and then cluster up in the evenings. It depends a lot on our activities during the day. The busier we are, the less likely she is to want to take time to nurse. The days of her blissful oblivion during mealtimes are definitely over, as she gets more interested in the world around her.

Night time has been a little unpredictable these past few weeks too. She used to sleep like a log 10 to 12 hours a night, but now she'll typically wake up once, anywhere between 2 and 6. And like I said, last night, she had some trouble going down. She was tired, then woke up for whatever reason, then was overtired, and it ended up taking a few tries before she was down for the night. But I know things could be a lot worse!

Sometimes, I can get her to giggle or laugh by pretending to eat her belly or neck; or lately, even just by looking at her and laughing. She babbles now, and it's the most adorable thing. When she's done nursing, she'll just look up at me and babble as if she's telling me a story.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tim's Birthday

Since this is technically our family blog I thought that I would take the rare opportunity and enter my own blog, albeit a short entry. Today was my 35th birthday and I was able to celebrate it with my 3 favorite girls. Rachael may think that she can never give me a gift that I like(I returned the gift she gave me tonight :)); but she is wrong. I am blessed to have the 2 best gifts she could ever give me and they go by the name of Delaney and Annalise. Being able to spend the entire day with all of them is the only gift that I could ever need or want.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Columbus Day Weekend and Annalise's Baptism

Our long-anticipated Columbus Day Weekend with our families is gone already, and it was a little tough waking up and realizing that it was just a regular day again. It's not that a regular day is so awful -- just that I miss so much having other family around. What I used to take for granted now seems like such a luxury.
The weekend began with the Bradys' late night arrival after a slow-going drive down 95 from Massachusetts. They dropped the girls off at our house so that they'd be there in the morning when Delaney woke up. We all thought she'd be delighted to see her cousins whom she hasn't seen since July. Tim even set up the video camera on a tripod to capture the moment when he brought Delaney downstairs, and she saw them waiting for her. Delaney's reaction wasn't quite what everybody expected, but I think at the age of two, a person's reactions aren't going to be what is expected. She was a little dazed. She saw them, they saw her, and then she sort of brushed past them and started talking about other things. I think I'd be the same way first thing in the morning, if someone tried to surprise me with their arrival. I'd say, "Oh hi.." and then I'd just go off in search of my breakfast and a cup of coffee. This is just too much to process right now, check back with me after I've had my coffee. Well, the girls were delighted to see her!
Eventually, both Tim's parents and sister Karen made their way over from their hotel room. Annalise was passed around, and she was happy with that. Delaney was awake by now and actually engaging with everybody, and having fun playing with her cousins. We went to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is right down the street from the main gate. For anyone who hasn't been there, the museum is quite beautiful and full of fascinating and lifelike exhibits. I wasn't expecting that much of a museum in Triangle, VA, but you could lose yourself in there. For those with kids, it's pretty graphic too. Poor Sofia broke down in tears at the Chosin Reservoir exhibit, which was appropriately cold, loud and bloody.

L-R: Delaney, Tim, Annalise, Juliana (6), Karen, Alexa (5), Sofia (5), Carolyn, Tim Sr.
Back at the house, we had lunch, then everybody took a break for the afternoon. The kids all took naps. My parents and my sisters Grace and Sophie arrived that evening from Ohio, and came over. We had grinders at the house -- those are subs if you're not from New England -- and just enjoyed one another's company. Our quiet little house was now loud, chaotic, and filled with raucous laughter. Delaney and Annalise went to bed with no problems amid all this distraction.
The next day was the baptism, which took place during the noon Mass at the chapel on base. It was such a nice day, warm and sunny. Annie looked so beautiful in the gown that was first worn by my sister Grace 19 years ago, and then by every other baby girl born in the family since. It so happened that the photographer who did our family pictures recently, had also been hired by another family for the baptism of their little girl at the same time and place. She took a few pictures of ours as well, and hopefully there are a few good ones. The ceremony was lovely, and it was special having both our families there to watch.

Annie was tired from the moment we arrived at the church, and she was passed out by the end. Back at the house we had a yummy lunch catered by Moe's, and then the men watched football while everyone else played outside, first in our backyard and then at the playground up the street.

Grandy Schlosser and Grandma Brady

Grandy, Auntie Sophie, Sofia and Alexa
Sunday night we had to say goodbye to Tim's family, who were leaving early the next morning. When they went out the door, Delaney began to cry, so we took her outside and we sat on the front porch. As they pulled away, Delaney shouted, "Bye, girls! I love you!"
We still got to spend the next day with my family, who didn't leave until Tuesday. We went to the museum, took an afternoon break, and then later went out to dinner. Delaney started out the day cranky, but brightened up by dinner. Because of her good mood, we allowed her to stay up late playing with her Grandy, Papaw and aunties. She put on her blue tutu, played the banjo (ugh, the banjo! I hate the noise, but the kids love it so much!), and relished all the attention. Annalise just took it all in with her big blue eyes, and went smiling from one set of arms to another. Wonderfully, she is still free of the moodswings that torment her big sister. She's happy to drool and play with her toes until she gets tired. Then she looks at me like, "Enough already, please get me out of here!"

I lost count of how many times I threatened that banjo with exile to the garage, over the weekend. That is the most annoying toy ever invented, and it got way too much play time when all the kids were over. I'm a grumpy old woman!

Annalise was at her limit here, can you tell? Great picture of Papaw, though.
We are so thankful that our families made the long drive to come see us, and celebrate Annie's big day with us. It meant the world to us, and our door is always open. Hint, hint!;)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Family pictures

This seems redundant, since I already posted 25 of my favorites on Facebook, but I'm going to post them here anyway. They belong on the blog. I'm so happy with these. We would have never gotten photos like this at Sears or Picture People. I wanted to go to a park because I thought Delaney would be more comfortable, happy and cooperative in a natural setting. I was partially right about that. She was happy in the woods, out in the fresh air, but she still was not happy about having her picture taken. She was very evasive and gave the photographer, Sara, a real challenge.

We had never been to Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, VA -- only looked at the website. Although we'd talked about it a couple times, we'd never gotten around to a recon of the park and good spots for pictures. So, we showed up, I walked into the ranger's station with a map, and came back out with a few things circled on it. I thought a mile would be nothing, but I failed to take into account that it would be a mile to the creek and bridge, and a mile back. With children. With no backpack or wrap. With a photographer who had recently undergone knee surgery. The one thing we had brought was our BOB duallie, and I at least had the presence of mind to ask the ranger about a trail that we could push a stroller on.

We met the photographer in the parking lot, and drove about two miles to the place where we would have to get out and walk. As soon as I pulled Annalise out of her carseat, I realized she had done a big poo. Not the worst she'd ever done (by far!), but it had oozed up the back of her diaper and stained the bottom of her shirt. Not a great start. The walk down to the creek and bridge (areas that we thought would be most picturesque) was the longest mile I'd ever walked. I was so grateful that I hadn't chosen to wear flipflops. It was a long walk because Annalise was fussing the whole way. Our pace was about a standard three-miles an hour, but somewhere along the way, I realized it was going to be a long morning. I felt bad for the photographer, but she was a good sport.

Down at the creek and bridge -- which was not the quaint covered bridge you're picturing, nor the one pictured on the website -- we spent most of our time keeping Delaney out of the creek, and not much time taking pictures. Soon we realized that we should just go back up the trail, get back in our cars, and go back to the picnic area where we'd started. There, we could let Delaney run free. I sent Tim, Sara and Delaney ahead because Annie was hungry. I plopped down on the trail, nursed her, finally changed her poopy diaper, then hoofed it all the way to the end of the trail with her in my arms, dozing. I caught up with them as they reached the end, and I was like, 'Holy cow, I wish we'd planned this excursion a little better. The kids are probably done by now!' But somehow, we ended up getting a lot more good pictures, despite how long we'd been out. And we'd love to come back another time prepared to hike!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A fun Saturday morning

Today was a beautiful early fall day, and we spent the morning at Belvedere Plantation in Fredericksburg, VA. We told Delaney last night that's where we were going, and this morning it was the first thing she asked about. "Pumpkin patch? Animals?" She asked about it the whole car ride there. It's fun now that she's old enough to actually anticipate things and get excited about them, even if that means she gets a little impatient too. I know that this is also the precursor to "Are we there yet?"

We got there right when it opened, and that's good, because it got crowded pretty quickly. First we went to the bouncy thing (I don't know what they're really called), and Delaney had a lot of fun in that. We could have just stayed there and she would have been happy. Next, we took a hayride to a pumpkin patch, which Delaney really enjoyed. The pumpkin patch was kind of anticlimactic, I have to say. We got there and just looked around like, "OK, now what?" We didn't actually pick our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, contrary to what we'd talked about all morning. We got back on the hayride five minutes later, and didn't get a pumpkin until it was time to leave. We picked the pretty ones from the store, like a friend had suggested. If it had meant a lot to Delaney to pick her own pumpkin (and had she actually been able to lift a pumpkin), we would have let her pick her own.

After that we went to the barnyard, where Delaney visited with pigs and goats. The pigs were very friendly toward her, especially considering she had no food to give them. She touched their backs, noses and ears, and tried coaxing one of them out of the dirt. "Wake up, piggy, wake up!" Then she tried to feed the goats dirt. We could have bought pellets for the poor kid, but we had no change. Oh well.

I thought it would be a great idea to put Delaney on a pony. She liked it alright, but didn't seem crazy about the experience. I think when she gets a little older, she'll be thrilled to ride on a pony, but not yet. At least she wasn't scared. Tim walked along with her, taking care not to step in pony poop.

Delaney also played in a big sand box and rode on toy tractors. Running around in the hot sun wore us all out. We had a nice lunch of burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and fries in a picnic shelter. There was a cool breeze and no flies [the same can't be said for our own kitchen!], and it was very relaxing. Delaney had her very own 100% sugar fountain drink that she slurped down contentedly on her dad's lap. Life doesn't get much better than that!

After picking out a big pumpkin for Delaney and a little one for Annalise, we were on our way home. The ride back up 95 was surprisingly quick for a Saturday afternoon.

Friday, October 2, 2009


On the day they arrived, the caterpillars were so small, you had to look closely in order to see them. They didn't do anything except sit there -- perhaps from the trauma of traveling via FedEx from California.
By Day 3, the caterpillars had grown a lot, were busy exploring the small jar they call home now, and eating quite a bit.
By the morning of Day 6, one caterpillar had attached himself to the paper disk on the inside of the lid of the jar, was hanging upside down,very still, intent on beginning the process of changing. How exciting! I told Delaney, "Not even Mama can pick up the jar today. The caterpillars have to be left alone." Other caterpillars roamed around the lid of the jar, ostensibly looking for a spot to build a chrysalis.

By Day 8, all of them had formed chrysalides, and were ready for transfer to the hatching habitat. We're not sure what all that yucky stuff is, but it's probably poop.

With surgical skill, Tim and I transferred the chrysalides to their hatching habitat. Sorry it's a bad picture, but it's hard to take a picture of something that's behind mesh.

On the morning of Day 16, we saw this guy.
On the afternoon of Day 17, the second and third butterflies hatched in quick succession. The fourth hatched that evening.

I got somewhat better pictures when I turned the habitat around. The wadded paper towels at the bottom are soaked in sugar water for the butterflies to drink. Dropping them in is a task that Delaney enjoyed. Below is a butterfly eating with its proboscus.
And here is butterfly release day! Delaney was very hands-on with this. I was relieved she didn't smash the poor things.