Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A pair of jeans that fits -- an impossible dream?

Oh my goodness! We got home from the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA, about an hour ago. We were there for four hours +, I've never seen so much denim in my life, and we came home with nothing!

I have been wishing for a nice, flattering, comfortable pair of jeans that are casual enough to be worn every day, but can be dressed up a little with nice boots and a top. All my jeans sag on my butt. They are not cute, they are raggedy. I have a hole in the knee of my Old Navy jeans that I bought a couple years ago, not because I really liked them, but because they'd do, and they were dirt-cheap. Well, they did their time. I won't even go into all the other pairs of jeans I have and hate for one reason or another. I have bought so many pairs of jeans in the last 15 years, and I don't think I've ever had even one good pair.

During our hour-long drive to the biggest mall around, I told Tim I would walk away today, rather than waste money on another pair of jeans that is less than perfect. I never in a million years thought that that's exactly what would happen!

I must have tried on 25 pairs of jeans, and looked at 100 more. I kept throwing them on and strutting out to show Tim. Uh-uh. Uh-uh. No way, get back in there!

I'm in a real conundrum. Whenever I shop in the "grownup" departments, or stores like the Gap, Express, Banana Republic, etc., they didn't carry anything small enough for me. Or maybe they were all sold out of them that day. Everything is too roomy. I know that I ought to be thanking my lucky stars for this, as a 30-year-old who's given birth twice, but I'm frustrated.

So the solution ought to be in the junior departments, or stores like American Eagle or Aeropostale, you'd think. Well, someone decided that all teenagers need to wear ultra low-rise jeans, that barely come up over the crack. These jeans hug me the way I want, but they are not meant to be worn while changing a diaper on the floor. Why can't any of them come up any higher? I want a pair of jeans that will not give me a muffin-top, is that too much to ask?

Tim thinks I ought to just suck it up and wear low-rise jeans because he thinks they flatter me, but I say, no way! I am not settling for jeans I'm not comfortable in, and I don't care what they look like.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Part 2

On Monday the 21st, two days after a winter storm dumped a whopping 22 inches of snow on us, we drove to Cincinnati. It took us 11 hours, with four stops. The drive was pretty uneventful, boring, with a minimum of crying, traffic and bad weather. Boring and uneventful is a beautiful thing, though, is it not?

We decided to stay in a new place, since we've stayed at the Marriott in Eastgate the last three times we've all gone to Cincinnati as a family. I'd always wanted to try staying downtown, so after thorough and exhaustive research (we had my parents do walk-through's on our two main contenders!), we made a reservation at the Garfield Suites Hotel. It's across from the library. The number one reason we picked it: S --P -- A --C -- E. We like our space, lots of it, with our two little ones. And you simply can't find the space for the money anywhere else. We had a two-bedroom suite, with a living room and a full kitchen. We paid $115 a night. It wasn't as luxurious as some other places, but it was clean and smelled alright. We got free internet, cable, and did I mention lots of space for us to spread our stuff around and let the girls play. We were on the 12th floor and we had good views out of at least a couple windows. You could see Union Terminal out of one of the living room windows. It was definitely a change of pace. The disadvantages of staying there were paying to park in a parking garage, and having no continental breakfast. And believe me, when we woke up all fuzzy-headed and sick the first morning after we got there, we were really missing that continental breakfast and coffee that we would've gotten at the Marriott! We're spoiled, I guess. But lest I turn this into a hotel review and not a post about our Christmas, I'll move on.

As I just mentioned, we had the fantastic luck of catching a nasty cold as soon as we arrived. That made it a little more challenging for us, with busy days and not-so-restful nights. Even now, we're still "junky", as Karen likes to say. But we made the most of it, and tried to maximize every moment we had to spend with my family. It made Mom feel better about them having brought their sicknesses while coming to visit us in October. "Now you get to be the ones to blow into town with colds." Yay!

That first full day, we spent a lot of time just putzing around at my mom's house, and that was nice. Delaney played with their newest pup, Georgie, and Annie napped in my parents' room. On Wednesday, we went to the Newport Aquarium with my sisters Anna and Sophie, my sister-in-law Faith, and almost all the kids. We had such a wonderful time. The kids were all in a good mood, there were no meltdowns, and no big crowds to contend with. It was just relaxing and fun. Delaney was so much more into it than she was the last time we'd taken her here. She was so interested in the fish, asking, "What's that?" She waved to the scuba divers, she petted sharks, and it was a joy for Tim and me just to watch her being so curious. When we were done, we went back to Anna's, where Mom was watching Roman and Annie, and had pizza for lunch.
We were told that the sharks would spit water at us if they were either excited or agitated. Miles wasn't afraid, but I'll admit, I was just a little bit intimidated.

That night, Mom and Grace came over and watched the girls for us while we went out to dinner -- gasp! -- alone. We haven't gone out to dinner by ourselves since July, but not for lack of willing babysitters. Up to now, baby Annie has been unwilling to part with her mama, but at last, this night, we were able to leave her with no worries. We went to Jeff Ruby's Waterfront, where the service was impeccable, the decor was cruiseship-like, the wine was divine, and the sushi was, as Delaney likes to say, "deee-licious!" Tim wasn't wild about the sushi, or with the triple-digit bill that came at the end. I have to say I was not impressed that the "Japanese Loveboat" -- a sampling of sushi and sashimi handpicked by the chef and priced according to the "market" -- included a California Roll. Really? What's the market price of a roll that contains no fish? But otherwise, I was happy with the meal, and the chance to go on a date with my handsome and charming curmudgeon of a husband.

On Christmas Eve, Tim and I took the girls to the Duke Energy train display in the morning. It's a Cincinnati tradition, and I hadn't been in a long, long time. It was very pretty, but it was crowded too, so we didn't stay long.

Back in our suite, we partook in another Cincinnati tradition -- Skyline Chili. Tim had the unmitigated gall to tell me it "wasn't that great." It's only the best chili in the world! What can I say, he is very particular when it comes to food, and very set in his New England ways.

We had dinner and opened presents at Anna and Robert's. Their home was beautiful, the dinner was yummy, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Miles tore around the hardwood floors in his little red tricycle. He, Aspen, Delaney and Jaden all played nicely together. Only once or twice did Delaney and Jaden seem to be about to fight over something. After a little talking-to, they agreed to take turns. As the night went on, they got pretty tired, but they hung in there.

Guess who, in the picture above, will be adding to the Schlosser clan this summer?

If you guessed us, you're absolutely wrong!

Scotty and Faith will be having baby #4 in July. Congratulations to them!

In the morning we went to Mass, then brunch at Anna and Robert's. They were such wonderful hosts, having us all over twice in a row. Then it was back to the hotel for naps, and over to my mom's for dinner. The Schlosser side of the family was all there. We stuck around long after the last guest left because the next morning it was time to leave.

The trip home would have only taken us about 9 hours, because we only stopped once. But as soon as we got onto 95 South, we were welcomed to the last leg of our trip by a horrible traffic jam. I can't even tell you how demoralizing it was to have what was supposed to be the last 30 minutes end up taking two hours. Anyone who is familiar with this area knows how bad the congestion gets here. Annie had been on a nursing strike for the past 8 hours, and I couldn't wait to get her home so she'd start eating again once she was in familiar surroundings. Delaney was a champ, though. It never ceases to amaze me what a good little girl she is. We hardly heard a peep from her.

I posted a lot more photos from the week on Facebook, because as I've said before, posting photos on Blogger is a huge pain, and I didn't want to clutter up the post with too many anyway. I hope everybody had as wonderful a Christmas as we did, and a happy 2010!

Christmas Part 1

Santa made an early trip to our house on the 20th, since we were leaving the next day for Cincinnati. What a great morning to open gifts, with the sun shining on all the snow outside. And thanks to Skype, Tim Sr and Carolyn got to watch us open their gifts too. Delaney was so excited. She kept saying, "What's in the box?" "What is it?" We kept telling her, "It's a surprise, you have to open it to find out!" I'm not sure what Annalise thought about her first Christmas, but she seemed to love rolling around amid the gifts.

Here's the nice big desk Santa got for the "Brady children." If you pull it away from the wall, and put a stool on the other side, two kids can sit at it.

Delaney's playing with the doll Grandma and Grandpa gave her.

"Hey Annie, you're a little too close right now."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

White Christmas

Santa will be coming to our house tomorrow morning, since we'll be leaving for Cincinnati on Monday. So it's a white Christmas for us! The snow started last night at around 9.
This was the sight that greeted us out our front door at 7:15 this morning. Already about a foot of snow, and we heard on the news this was just the beginning.
Delaney's all dressed up and playing with her Nativity, while she waits for me to get ready and take her out.

Tim's already been shoveling for an hour or so, by the time we come outside. Look closely to see the snotcicle hanging from his nose.
Tim said to me, "Most dads build snowmen with their kids or take them sledding; I just put mine to work shoveling."
Shoveling is hard work. Time to play!
Delaney's climbing the "mountain."
She says, "I did it!"
I sense the fun is about to expire after Delaney dives down the mountain.
Looks like I'm right.
Back inside, Delaney has hot chocolate in her Dora cup, and pronounces it, "Dee-licious."
This is my favorite view of the snow -- from inside our warm house. You're our hero, Tim!

It is now 1:30, and Tim's already been outside again shoveling. It's days like this that have me thinking California, definitely California.

Annalise at seven months

Right after Thanksgiving, Annie had a growth spurt, and there were a couple long days and nights of lots of nursing and crankiness. But then I got my happy baby back and I was glad. She's such a sweet little baby, and for the first time, I'm becoming alarmed that this is going by too quickly. She's over halfway to a year!

She's still not crawling, but she's becoming a proficient scooter. She gets on all fours, then propels herself from her knees, landing on her belly, then repeats, leaving a trail of slobber as she goes. It's very awkward, but it gets her there. She's my fat little inchworm. She loves to go after cords and shoes. I see that just now she's figured out how to go from all fours to sitting. That's new.

She sleeps a LOT. She typically takes one long nap midmorning, another long nap around noon, then a third late-afternoon nap, and maybe even a fourth that might just turn into being down for the night if it goes long enough. Then she'll of course wake up just for a feeding at 10 or 11, and then again very early in the morning. Sometimes I don't get her out of bed for the day until 9, and by then she's been in bed for 15 hours! Still, after just an hour of being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she's ready for her morning nap and the process starts all over again. I keep thinking maybe she ought to have a real schedule by now, but I'm already interfering enough with the one she's making up as she goes along. By that, I mean I interrupt her morning nap often, because that's when we go out. That's the best time of day to get Delaney out of the house. We go to Tot Gym or Storytime at the libray, or a playdate, or even just to Target. And if big sis goes, little sis has to too. I say, "Sorry, kiddo, I guess this is the plight of a younger sibling." She picks up where she left off once we get home. So that's our version of a schedule, and it's what works.

When she's tired, she rubs at her eyes and hair. Sometimes while she's nursing, she'll run her hands back and forth through her hair, and I have to agree with her that fuzzy baby hair feels nice to the touch, and that must be a comforting thing to do to get ready for sleep. If I go into her room while she's sleeping, I find her on her belly with her little lovey (one of those little fleece blankets with an animal head -- creepy when I put it that way, huh?) under her cheek. She should be the spokesperson for Snuggle fabric softener!

This month, she got the hang of a sippy cup with the no-spill valve in. I give her water in it, and sometimes water with a little bit of apple juice in it.

We did start solids last month -- some cereal, fruit and veggies -- only about a tablespoon a day total. Then I decided to take a week off from those because she was having tummy troubles and problems pooping. The day before she turned seven months, we started them again -- just a little bit, though. She doesn't even seem to like them yet.

We're still working on the signing. She hasn't signed back to me yet, but I think that's only a matter of time. I can tell she understands. One day, she was in her Exersaucer jumping up and down. I saw an opportunity, and I turned to her, smiled real big, and signed while saying, "Jump! Jump!" Then she paused and just looked at me. "Do it again!" I said, as I signed "again/more." She had this a-ha! look on her face, began jumping again, and I started signing and saying it. Ever since, it's been a game to her. She enjoys getting my attention by jumping, and I always reinforce the sign. A baby's first sign is often something more interesting than just everyday things like "milk", "eat", "drink", etc. My sister-in-law Kathy told me that her youngest, Natalie's, first sign was "play." That was because Kathy would say to her when she was done eating in her high chair, "Do you want to go play now?" instead of "All done." A friend lent me a signing video made by a doctor who is pretty much a pioneer in baby signing. He says to be on the look-out for "chance mutual gaze." That's when the baby notices something, you notice the baby noticing, and then you look at each other. That's a golden opportunity to introduce a sign for something that's interesting to him or her. It also means you'd better be on top of your signing vocabulary for when that moment comes!

She had her first cold this month, and it wasn't too bad. Just a lot of runny nose and some coughing. It might have disturbed her sleep maybe once.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My aircut

Want to know something that drives me nuts? Hairdressers who think they know better than I do what I want. Two days ago, I went for a much-anticipated hair appointment. I explained to the hairdresser, Katie, that I was trying to grow my hair out, and I hadn't had my hair cut in 9 months. It used to be super-short. I said that what I was looking to do that day was just trim the ends, and basically just clean it up and make it look nice. She said, "OK, it looks like your hair is really healthy, so I'm just going to trim it a little bit, and shape the layers." I said, "That sounds great!"
When she was all done, and had blow-dried it, I was happy that I had a nice haircut in time for Christmas.
The next morning, after I'd washed and dried it myself, I came to this conclusion: She must have just snipped at the air around my head while distracting me with small talk. I have the same sad-looking mop I had before. She obviously decided I didn't need any hair cut off, and that I would only get mad at her later if she did. So she shampooed my hair, got me all relaxed and happy, got me talking about my kids, while she played with my hair and went, snip, snip, snip with the scissors. Then she worked her magic with the blow-dryer and round brush, as I sat there all content in that chair. By the time she was done, my hair had never felt so soft and fluffy, and never looked so perfect. I tipped her generously, and practically danced out of the salon, unaware that she hadn't done a darn thing.
So much for my first haircut in 9 months!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Then and now

It came as no surprise to me that the fewer items of clothing Delaney was wearing for pictures, the happier she was (and that's fine as long as she's under 5!). I couldn't help but be reminded of the first Christmas pictures I took of her myself two years ago. I had absolutely no talent, but I had an adorable little subject who didn't move, and plenty of time on my hands.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Pictures

I got the girls' Christmas pictures done a couple weeks ago, and it was a little crazy. I took them to Sara's studio at her house down the street. If you remember, Sara's the one who took our family pictures at the park a couple months ago. She may not have had to walk two miles this time, but she worked just as hard!
I thought it was tricky getting pictures when it was just Delaney! Now there's Delaney and her little sis, and just getting them together in the frame was a challenge, since they seem to be in parallel universes. There's one series of pictures where, as you're clicking through, you see that they are taking turns either looking at the camera or looking down. 15 pictures in a row like that! Altogether, there were some 300 pictures and of that, only about 10 that were contenders for the Christmas card.
The one good thing is now that Delaney is 2, is I can now bribe her with candy to make her "pose." Last year I tried, but at 17 months old, she didn't understand incentives. Even now she has a short attention span, so the reward has to be immediate, not an hour or two later. So, pose for a few shots, get an M&M, pose for a few more. Maybe next year, I can tell her, "Be good for these pictures and I'll take you to the playhouse at McDonald's later." That way I won't have to keep handing her candy, and end up with a picture like this one:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our new take on an old Christmas tradition

After the girls went to bed tonight, Tim and I baked Italian cookies, just like his mom does every year and has since, well, forever. We may not have made them just like she does, but they were very tasty and made the house smell good too. Not bad for a first effort.
Tim did the hard work of mixing and kneading the dough all by himself. It wore me out just watching! Too bad I didn't get a picture. I hadn't yet gotten the bright idea to get the camera out.
Then came the fun part of knotting the dough to make the cookies. I remembered that part from when I "assisted" Carolyn last year, so that I could write down the recipe and hopefully learn something. I remembered how everyone could tell which cookies were made by me last year. My cookies could have beat up her cookies.
The first sheet of cookies came out pretty funny-looking. Can you tell which ones are his? They look like giant snails. Not that mine are much better.

Tim ate the biggest cookie right away. Nice picture, huh?

While I finished up the last few sheets of cookies, Tim started icing them.

Here are some of the first ones done:

And here are some of the last, so you see, we learned as we went. I figured out how to make the cookies smaller and prettier. Tim initially made the icing too thin, and had to add more confectioner's sugar.

Now what do you think are the chances of me getting Delaney to eat breakfast when she comes downstairs and sees all those cookies still sitting on the kitchen table?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Delaney at two years, five months

Here are some of Delaney's antics of the last month:

Once we decided to try a Saturday evening Mass in Stafford, a church we hadn't been to before. At this Mass, a server rang a bell during Consecration. Delaney couldn't contain her excitement. "You hear that?" she said to anyone who would listen. "You hear that?" Tim and I tried to shush her, and say "Yeah, we hear it" to no avail. "Ding! Ding!" she yelled, stomping her foot on the kneeler. Right on cue, the bell rang again, encouraging her to shout again, "Ding! Ding!" I bowed my head , appalled at myself for wanting to laugh even though I was embarrassed. The man on my other side whispered, "Maybe she'll be an altar server when she gets older." Tim told me later that his favorite part of being an altar boy was ringing the bell. It kept him awake, ha ha! I guess it's the cry room for us from now on.

I like to eavesdrop on Delaney's pretend games with her Little People. They are full of drama and lots of "Oh no!" and "Help me!" If you're playing with her, she likes for "Grandpa" and the little girl to go to the store. As the car drives away, you have to say, "Have a nice trip" or she'll prompt you. Then they'll come back from the store, and she'll happily do this again and again.

Speaking of Little People, Grandma Brady recently sent a Little People Nativity. It was a complete surprise when it arrived in the mail, and I don't know who was in a bigger hurry to open it, me or Delaney. I freed all the parts one by one from the wire and plastic, and handed them to her. Then we set it all up, and talked about who and what each figure was. After she went to bed that night, I decided to hide Baby Jesus until Christmas, to try to teach her about the meaning of Christmas. I thought Delaney would just forget about it, but she asks where he is all the time. Sometimes she'll say, "He's sleeping." Last night after I'd put her to bed, I looked at the windowsill where we keep the Nativity, and saw an interloping Little People girl, in Baby Jesus' empty spot. I said to Tim, "What's she doing in Baby Jesus' spot?" He said Delaney must have put her there because she misses Baby Jesus, and asks about him all the time.

At dinnertime, Delaney likes to do a lot more talking than eating. I don't remember what we were talking about one night, but Delaney got a kick out of something I said, and through her guffaws she said, "Mama's funny! Mama makes me yaff!"

Delaney's sentences are getting longer, and her pronunciation of words is getting clearer. There are still some things she says all the time that sound nothing like what they really are. For example, "Hung-inny" is "hair thingy." She pronounces her Ls as Ys. I feel like I just started noticing that in the past few weeks, but she must have been doing it all along.

Delaney hides under tables and behind furniture, then jumps out and says, "I found me!"

Toward the end of the month, the last couple days, she's been asking, "What time is it?" First thing in the morning today, I heard her yell it from her crib. Later, while we were out, she asked it. During dinner she asked too. I don't know where the fascination with knowing what time it is comes from, but it makes me even more glad Santa is bringing her her very own clock.