Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The next contestant on "Plant Survivor: Brady House"

This morning I was thinking to myself, 'It would sure be nice to have something sitting on my baker's rack that wouldn't shatter into a million pieces if it fell, or crack someone's little skull.'  I had thought of this many times over the past couple of years, and had never come up with a good solution.  There's always the option of just putting the baker's rack in the garage.  But that would just make the room even emptier than it already is.  Not an option.  As of around 10 this morning, I had my diaper bag sitting on it.

Then, as I was doing my morning scan of (I check it every day because I never know what I might find), something caught my eye: one of my neighbors was selling houseplants.  I didn't know this person, but I just assumed she must be getting ready to move, like most people are around here.  I admired the pictures of her green leafy plants that had little vines trailing down from them, and decided that one or two of these would be gracing my baker's rack today.  I emailed her.

She told me that the plants I liked were called "pothos."  I Googled "pothos" and this is what I found out, among other things, from  "Pothos are an excellent plant for busy people, non-plant people, even for black thumbs."  I gasped in delight.  Right now I have two dead plants on my back patio.  Every plant knows that my house is death row.  But here is a plant that practically keeps itself alive, and it has found me online!  It's meant to be.

Reading on, I saw that "Pothos are very easy care plants.  Your biggest chore will be keeping the vines from taking over."  I also noted that this plant is "tolerant of low light conditions and erratic watering."  The writer of this article was basically telling me, "You are a flaming moron if you can't keep this plant alive."

When Annie woke up from her nap, I took the girls on a walk to pick up this hardy little plant, and doesn't she just look perfect there?

Another great thing about this plant, according to the article I read, is that it's "high on the list of plants that can help purify indoor air."  Who doesn't want purer air in their house?  One thing we do have to be careful about, however, is that the leaves are poisonous if ingested.  So I won't let the vines get too long, and I've told Delaney not to touch the plant, and to tell me if she sees her sister doing it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Annalise at eleven months

I can't believe our sweet little baby is already this old, and next month I'll be writing about her first birthday!

She loves to climb, and she's happiest when I let her climb the stairs either at home, or on one of the jungle gyms around our neighborhood.  She squeals and giggles the whole way up.  She growls when I catch her on the stairs and put her down.  She tries to climb up Delaney's bookshelf too.  She would probably love a Gymboree class, but the nearest one is in Fredericksburg, so we won't be doing that.

Her favorite toy is anything she can push around the living room, on her feet or on her knees, whichever she prefers.  Lately, she's also taken a real interest in her Fisher Price "cookie" jar.  She takes the cookies out, puts them back in, puts the lid on the jar, then takes it back off.  She'll do that for several minutes at a time, and it's the only little toy that she really likes.  When she's playing with it, we make sure not to let Delaney swipe it from her.

She is such a piglet.  It was around the time that Tim left for Florida that I realized she now needed her own plate at meals.  It was no longer enough to let her have nibbles off mine.  She's voracious.  She eats her own half PB&J at lunch.  She eats a whole slice of pizza on Fridays.  She's a snackaholic.  She still nurses quite a bit too, so she's getting a lot of calories.  She just used the "more" sign for the first time, while we were eating out at a Mexican restaurant.  Usually, she just grunts and lunges forward with her mouth open, slapping her tray.  Or she snarls.  Not very polite.  We're working on that, though.

Once, I walked into the kitchen and was astonished to find her standing at the trash can eating a powdered donut I had thrown away that morning.  I snatched her up, saying, "No, no," and then looked at her face with the powder all over it and laughed and laughed.

First popsicle, and ouch!  It's cold!

She claps, waves and points now.  She doesn't say any words, but she's practicing all her consonant sounds all the time.  "Mamama," "Dadadada.."  Then again, she did say something to me once.  I had her on my hip while I was making dinner once, and she was looking at the food with interest.  Then she said, "Num-num."  Her favorite thing to do is stick her tongue out and blow raspberries.  If we're going somewhere in the car, she does it the whole way.  She thinks she's being funny.

For the past couple months she's been taking one morning and one afternoon nap.  When I take her to her room for a nap, she immediately slumps a little and becomes heavier in my arms.  Then she yawns and rubs her eyes.  She loves her sleep.  She's loving it more at night now too, thank goodness, and I don't want to jinx it, but right around the time Mom and Grace left, she started sleeping 12 hours a night.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Auntie Karen's visit

From time to time, people will ask me, "Who does Delaney take after?"  What they're trying to point out, of course, is that she doesn't look a thing like Tim or myself.  For anyone who's ever asked or wondered, here's your answer: Tim's younger sister Karen.  I wish I had a photo of her at around age two to compare to Delaney now, but according to Karen, she did not exist between the years of 1976 and 1981, due to an extreme case of fourth-child syndrome.  Her big sisters and brother hogged all the attention, and all the camera film too.  She vanished as a toddler and reappeared as a kindergartener.  When Carolyn, their mother, was visiting, she remarked on how much Delaney reminded her of Karen as a little girl.  

Don't you just want to pinch their cheeks?

Karen flew in on Tuesday and stayed until Saturday.  We had a lot of fun.  On Wednesday, we went to the Children's Museum of Richmond, one of the places I'd been looking forward to taking the kids.  I'll be honest:  It was very nice, and had many interesting things for kids to look at and play with.  I'm not sure it was worth a three-hour round trip.  But the girls were well-behaved the whole time, and I think they really enjoyed it.  It was a great way to spend a chilly day.

The next day was sunny and warm (but not too warm), and we headed to the National Zoo, one of the places I had looked forward to going to all winter long.  What a fantastic day this turned out to be!  We got to the zoo a little bit after 11 and got a prime two-hour parking spot right in front.  Delaney was so excited to see all the animals.  She made strangers laugh when she reached out her hands toward the cheetah and said, "Hi Cheetah!  I'm gonna get you!"

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch, and our parking spot was about to expire.  A little regretfully (at least for me, because I wanted to have a picnic in one of the many large grassy areas where I saw other families doing so), we left the zoo.  Then Tim got the bright idea that we should go to Old Town Alexandria and find a place to have lunch on the waterfront.  Things had gone so nicely, shouldn't we end it on a good note?  Dare we push our luck and have the little girls skip their afternoon nap?  We did, and it ended up being a good call.  It was beautiful there.  We had an overpriced lunch on the water, Delaney got to look at ducks and pigeons, and we all got to soak in more sunshine.  We left for home before three only because we would have been in traffic the whole rest of the day, had we waited any longer.  As we walked toward our car, we passed a saxophone player who played a few notes of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as Delaney slowed down and stared.  I wished I had a dollar to give him.  

Here's what Annie looked like at the end of the day, when I let her take a late-afternoon nap.

Wednesday and Thursday were our only really busy days.  I think Karen would argue that every day is busy in our house.  At 7 a.m. sharp every morning, she woke up to the sound of little hands banging on a door and a voice yelling, "Auntie Karen, the clock turned yellow!"  Delaney kept her busy every waking minute, chasing her around the living room, drawing chalk pictures on the patio, and reading stories.  I got a nice break.:)  Even Annie allowed Auntie Karen into her little "circle of trust," allowing her to sit next to her while she played on the floor, and even hold her a few times.  She even -- gasp! -- let me walk out of the room while Karen was holding her.  Amazing.  

Before we knew it, it was Saturday, and time for Auntie Karen to go.  We look forward to seeing her again when we go to Massachusetts at the end of August.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Delaney at two-and-three-quarters

Delaney thinks things through now, and I love watching her come to conclusions.

At the dinner table, Grandy said to her, "If you can eat all the food that's on your plate, I'll eat my hat."  Delaney said, "No, Grandy, you'll choke on your hat."

For several months now, she's known that she has brown eyes, Daddy has brown eyes, Annie has blue eyes, and Mama has... what?  "Purple!"  "Pink!"  "Yellow!"  Ask her what color Mama's eyes are, and it's a different answer every time.  She never has the correct answer, which is green.  The only reason she knows everyone else's eye color is because we talked about it a few times.  I don't know why she never remembers what color my eyes are.

Delaney has learned an important life lesson, and that is, paying me a compliment at just the right time will make me forget to be annoyed with her.  She likes to play on our bed while I'm up there putting away laundry, and I grudgingly allow her to play there sometimes.  I let her know I don't really like it.  She says, "Mama, I like your new flipflops."  I melt.

She is also learning how to help me in my forgetfulness.  I am so grateful for that.  Yesterday, we were about to leave the playground, when Delaney picked up my new water bottle and came running toward me, saying, "Mama, you forgot this!"

She loves to be noticed, to make new friends, and talk to them.  Pushing the girls around in a cart at the commissary, I found myself beside a woman and her teenage son.  The woman commented about how cute Delaney was, sitting in the back of the cart, and her son smiled at her.  Delighted to have their attention, Delaney began telling them about what was in our cart.  "This is orange juice.  These are grapes."  Holding up a bottle of detangling spray, she said, "This is for my tangles."  She talks my ear off all day long, and it gets a little irritating sometimes, but hearing her make conversation with these people made me want to squeeze her.

She loves to be the helper.  Tim has been letting her help make pizza for several months.  The other night she pushed both our recycling bins up our driveway to the garage.  I let her know I really appreciated that.

She's doing well with the potty.  She is still in undies all day except for naptime and bedtime.  She's only had just two wetting accidents since her last update.  Both of those were under rather unusual circumstances, like at Easter dinner, when she drank three Capri Suns in two hours, and I wasn't monitoring her closely enough.  Number 2 is still the iffy one.  She'll do it in the potty if she has to go while she's up, but she's just as likely to do it in her diaper during her nap.

Delaney was sick for about three days this month, with a fever -- similar to what Annie had a couple weeks before that.  It made us sad to see her lying around, so listless, especially on a sunny day, when she'd normally want to play.  She didn't want to eat or drink, and that was a little scary.  We'd never seen her like that before.  Just when I was ready to take her to the doctor, she got better.  It was a relief to have her back to running circles around us and firing off requests faster than we could keep up with them.  Tim said to me, "Didn't you miss that?"  Sigh.

Here she is snuggling with Daddy when she wasn't feeling well.

I couldn't remember the last time I had snapped such a picture of the two of them, so I had to look in my archives.  She's four days old in that picture!
One last thing -- I am filling out a registration form for Delaney to go to preschool two days a week, beginning October 1, in Havelock, NC.  Yes, we finally received orders, and we are going to Cherry Point in September.  You might remember that I was complaining about that several weeks ago.   It's good to finally know!  

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It doesn't get much better than this.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I'm one of the worst cooks ever.  If a meal turns out well -- like pizza last Friday did -- it's a pleasant surprise.  In the kitchen, I'm a bull in a china shop.  That's why Tim does most of the cooking when he's home.  He can't stand watching me do it.  We had a lovely arrangement going, in which he did all the cooking.  Then he left.

I was trying to make our usual Friday pizza last night, but for some reason it wasn't working out for me.  The dough was not cooperating.  The first time I messed it up, I thought I knew what I'd done wrong, so I dumped it all and started again.  The second time, I had no idea what happened, and that's when I got really frustrated.  It was 75 here yesterday (absolutely gorgeous!), and about 85 in my kitchen with the oven on, there was flour all over the place, and an explosion of dirty dishes.  Literally, a hot mess.

Meals are optional for Delaney, but Annalise and I were getting hungry and cranky.  The situation was becoming desperate, and after I dumped another impossibly sticky dough ball and prepared to start again, I decided to take a quick break.  I plopped right down in this chair, and sent out a prayer to God on Facebook (because I'm sure He's on there) that went like this: "This is about to be my 3rd try with this pizza dough, this kitchen is so hot, and I'm so hungry.  Please, God, let me get it right this time!!"

I'll admit I also threw that out there because I wanted someone else to know about my troubles.  Anyone.  Perhaps Tim, whose minutes-old status update I saw was, "I just ran 5 miles on the beach."

Feeling a little better after venting my stress, I headed back to the kitchen and began mixing yet another batch of dough.  Would this one work?  I would never find out, because just then I looked down and saw Annie waving the Terro ant trap around that I had so *cleverly* hidden in between the trash can and the dishwasher.  Poison was coming out in big sticky globs all over her and the floor.

I turned off the oven, then snatched her and sprinted up the stairs to the bathtub, where I gave her the quickest and most thorough scrub-down she's ever had.  Delaney stood next to me and watched as I dumped the water over her again and again, probably thinking, 'Glad it's her and not me.'

I briefly thought of calling for pizza delivery, but I figured the wait would be too long, and the pizza too greasy and disgusting.  So, after I'd barricaded off the kitchen with three chairs, we ate good old PB&J.  I reminded myself that the extra sacrifice was appropriate for Good Friday.

Later that night, my little prayer was answered when my next-door neighbor Andrea called and said, "I saw you had a rough night on Facebook.  I made a chocolate dessert -- we broke our Lenten fast a little early -- and I was wondering if you'd like me to bring you some."  I have to mention that Andrea and Dennis had been  so disciplined up to that point that they hadn't even taken the Sunday exception to giving up chocolate for Lent.

I accepted because, how could I turn down chocolate?  And it really warmed my heart, her noticing my plight, and thinking of a way to brighten my day.  I was a little sheepish about how pathetic I was, but oh well.

Today after lunch, the girls and I tried some, and wow, was it decadent!  They are chocolate chip cookie brownies.  Andrea found the recipe here.  As you can see from this picture, they induce giddiness.  I'm not even kidding, Delaney and I sat at the table giggling after eating one of these things.  Annie was allowed to have a few little bites, but she likes PB&J better.

And now I sit here, the girls are in bed, and I'm waiting for eggs to boil for their Easter baskets (one thing I know I won't screw up!).  I'm thinking of all the things I'm happy about tonight: good friends, beautiful weather, a clean kitchen and dinner OUT with my two sweet little girls.  Happy Easter, everyone!