Friday, November 19, 2010

Annalise at eighteen months

Our little Annie is halfway between 1 and 2 already.  I can't believe how much she's changed in just a few short months!

 A wonderful change this month is that she is starting to use words to make her wishes known.  "Teeth," if she wants to brush her teeth.  "Brush" if she wants me to give her a brush.  "Off" if she needs help taking off her jacket.  "Book" if she wants me to read to her.  My favorite is when Delaney asks for a treat, and Annie shouts "Cheat!" while pointing at the candy-filled pumpkin on top of the fridge.  We're working on 'please' and 'thank you', both of which she'll say when prompted.  I'm not holding my breath for the time when she says it without prompting, because we're still not quite there with Delaney!  I praise the heck out of her for using a word because it means less guessing for me.  She is shaping up to be a little chatterbox like her sister.
She loves being read to, and her favorite book is a beat-up old Elmo book that plays music.  The pages used to have things that popped-up, but those kinds of books never stay intact for long at our house.  I press the button that plays the little tune, I sing the words, and she dances around in circles grinning ear to ear.  Then Delaney joins in and it's a dance party.  Lately, one read-through of that book is not enough, and she signs "again" as she picks it up and hands it to me.  I might read again once or twice.  Then she shrieks with anger if I won't read it again.
This photo was taken by a photographer.  I love how it shows her blue eyes.
She still just loves to help unload the dishwasher.  As soon as she hears the clanking of dishes, she comes running, saying, "Help.  Help."  If I'm finishing up, I put some plates and silverware back in for her to pull out.  This will one day be her job, so I'm happy to let her practice.

We keep asking her, "Annie, where are the rest of your teeth?"  She still only has six, and I really thought a couple times recently she was getting another tooth.  I thought once I even felt the edge of a tooth.  I even think I can see the shapes of her teeth through her gums.  We really think one morning we're going to go in there and she'll be grinning at us with a whole head full of teeth.

It's hard to find clothes that fit Annie these days, so most of the time she runs around in ill-fitting clothes.  She's at an awkward stage -- too big for 12-18 month clothes, but 18-24 hangs on her.  I've been doing some shoddy alterations on her pants to make them stay on.  She'll have her 18-month checkup on the 23rd, and we'll find out just how big she is.  She looks pretty average-sized to me.
Mama, my pants are too small!
She has constipation issues all the time, and she will not eat any of the fresh fruits I put in front of her.  She only wants the processed snacks that get her into this trouble in the first place.  We've tried to substitute All Bran crackers, but she's not fooled by those.  She might eat a few black beans at dinner, and each bean I see her consume is a little victory.  I have found that a teaspoonful of Karo syrup helps, and she will take it right off the spoon so I don't have to dilute it anything and hope she finishes it.

In the morning she calls out loudly until I come in for her.  I say 'good morning' and open the blinds.  When I go to pick her up, she squeals and falls down on the mattress.  She won't let me get her, but then if I say, "OK, you can stay, I'm leaving," she'll whimper.  Then I come back and it starts all over again.  She loves to play these little games from morning to night.

She amazes me with all the little things she's learning.  Just the other day she pointed at my ring and said, "Bockle."  Sparkle.  I had taught her that word, and now she was using it.   She gives us all such joy.  We love our Annie.

Update: On 11/24, we had Annie's 18 month checkup.  She's 33 inches tall and 25 pounds.  She's at the 59th percentile for weight, and the 82nd percentile for height.  She and Delaney got their flu vaccines.  All was well for our first pediatric visit at the Naval Health Clinic.  The only thing I have to worry about is the nurse-practitioner told me there was already some decay on Annie's teeth.  I'm supposed to be brushing her teeth "several" times a day, not just once or twice.  So now I have to follow her around all day with a toothbrush, to make sure she gets to keep those teeth for at least another four or five years!

A year ago today: Annalise at six months

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life on my little island (Wah Part 2)

I wanted to update you on my situation as far as making connections on my little island in suburbia.  It is a very tiresome subject, but this post has been brewing in my mind for a couple days now, and it's my blog so I can whine if I want to.

Soon after I wrote my this, I did a little bit of research and found a Meetup group for moms and young kids.  I became a member.  I get a month free, and after that I have to pay dues, something like $5 or $10 for the year.  People post different activities that you can go to.  There's open play at a gymnastics place once a month, there are trips to petting zoos, and whatnot.  Tim said to me when I joined, "You're paying for friends."  "Yup," I said.  "I guess that's the way it's done in North Carolina," he said.  "Guess so."  [This isn't actually the first time I've paid for friends.  I've done StrollerStrides and Gymboree, and those are far more expensive.]  So far that has gone.. OK.  Most of the Meetups are either jewelry parties which I won't go to, or things that take place on Tuesday or Thursday, when I have to take Delaney to school.  I did go to the gymnastics thing last month, and I'll go again tomorrow.  The kids love it.  I find it a little awkward for myself.  I'm uncomfortable around a bunch of people I don't know, and I have the strange feeling I crashed their party.  But I'll go anyway.

Every Friday morning, there is a terrific little story time at the New Bern library, and I did meet another mom there who seems friendly and outgoing.  That is good, because as a shy person, it is nearly impossible to make friends with other shy people!  She is also a member of the aforementioned Meetup group, and she is going to be at the gymnastics place tomorrow.  I will have to stalk her.  I have a toy cellphone that she gave to Annalise after she fell down and cried during the puppet show.

Meanwhile, I take the girls outside often, hoping to strike up a conversation with someone walking by.  Or when Tim and I are walking around the neighborhood to cool down after our run, we're both on the lookout.  We hardly ever see a soul.  Usually, but not always, the driver of a passing car will wave.  The other day, we walked past someone's house as she was pulling out of her driveway, and we waved.  She didn't even look at us.  "Well, hi, neighbor," I said.  Tim said he thinks it's a generational thing.  His parents knew almost everybody in their little suburban neighborhood.  Tim theorized it's because back in the day, people were outside interacting with one another all the time.  Now they're inside on the Internet or watching TV, and their kids are playing video games.

Another time, the girls were playing on the driveway after we'd returned from a run, and I saw a woman my age pushing a running stroller by my house.  I had never seen her before, and I waved and smiled and said, "Hi."  She waved back and said, "How are you?"  "Good, how are you?"  And she continued on, and I thought, please stop and talk to me!  Would it kill you to introduce yourself?  I have no diseases and I don't bite!  Please, don't leave me alone on this island!

On the preschool front, it's going no better.  I met up with another mom for coffee one morning.  Her kid isn't in Delaney's class, but we met at the fall festival.  But it felt like a first date.  We said, "I'll call you," and neither one of us really meant it.  I think we each found the other a bit dull.

On the Marine family front, I'm faring only little better.  I have old friends who have a 7-year-old daughter, and we get together from time to time.  They'd be my first choice for Thanksgiving dinner, but guess where they're going for Thanksgiving?  Cincinnati.  There was another Marine family we had over for pizza one night, and I had a playdate a couple weeks later with the wife and one of her daughters.  Recently, she emailed me asking if I'd like to get together this week at her house, and I replied soon after that I'd love to.  Then .. nothing.  It's been six days.  Tim said I should call her, and I said, "Why should I have to follow up her invitation?"  If you email someone, why don't you check your email to see if they reply?  Especially if you have an iPhone and you take your email everywhere.  Then again, I have no idea what her life is like, and perhaps she really doesn't have a second to spare.  Not like me, with obviously too much time.

Sometimes I wonder if I am subconsciously keeping people at a distance because a part of me prefers it this way.  I hold back a little bit when I could make more effort.  I am sensitive and feel easily slighted by others.  I have this (unfortunate) tendency to want to sit back and wait for the world come to me.  I kind of like sitting out front watching the girls play, seeing their curiosity and happiness over simple things, feeling the sun on my face, and not having to work at making a good impression on someone else.  It's so much effort.

That leads me to another theory about why I'm in my predicament.  I come from a long line of people who stick to their clan and rarely become close to anyone else.  I remember a long time ago, my mom did become close friends with a woman who lived across the street from us.  She explained to me even then that it was because Sue needed a friend.  Mom didn't.  She preferred being around people with whom she shared a long history.  We had aunts and uncles coming through the door all the time, and our kitchen was filled with laughter and rehashing of old stories.  No need to impress the person you know once decided to take a bath with her pet turtle and ended up getting sick.  So that's where I came from.  Then, in Massachusetts, I got to enjoy being part of a clan once again.  And now I am clan-less and inept at forming bonds with other people.

At times, I realize how very blessed I am to live on my little island with the three people who are dearest to me, with everything I need, and most of what I want.  I am grateful, I really am.  And then sometimes, I am terribly lonely, bored and frustrated.

I will continue to look for ways to cope with life on my suburban island, which is only 10 minutes away from anything, but a world away from anything and anybody familiar.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Delaney at three years, four months

Delaney is not getting much of an update written about her this month.  And no pictures, due to technical difficulties.  (Our wretched PC is on the fritz again.)

The way she phrases things continues to amuse me.  She thinks it's acceptable to substitute
 "How 'bout ______?" for the polite way of asking for things.  I say, "Um, how about using your manners to ask for that?"

If I'm stressed out about something, she'll say, "It will be fine, Mama," or "Just take a deep breath."  Another time, I was irritated at something Annie had done, and Delaney said, "OK, just settle down, settle down."  That's exactly what I always needed, a little voice telling me everything's going to be alright.  Thanks for that, Delaney!

She is crazy about dinosaurs of late, and watches Dino Dan every day.  Her current favorite animal is a toy triceratops.  She tells me, "I'm Dino Dan, you're Mama Dino Dan, Dada's Dada Dino Dan, and Annie's Annie Dino Dan."  And she'll correct me all day long when I call her Delaney.  "No, I'm Dino Dan, remember?"

A year ago today: Delaney at two years, four months

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm having a cup of chai green tea, listening to the tinkling of the wind chimes, the distant drone of the football game on in the living room, and the happy babbling of Delaney who is in her room for nap but rarely naps anymore.  I'm thinking about what a great weekend this has been.

Yesterday morning I took the girls for their appointment with the new photographer, at a park next to her house on base.  Watching them romp around in the leaves made my heart swell with love and pride.

Back home, we had lunch and naps and another lazy afternoon.  Tim's and my one cause for annoyance was a babysitter who would not return my calls, emails or texts even though earlier in the week she had agreed to watch the kids Saturday.  This resulted in our inability to plan our evening because, for all we knew, she would show up at 5.  I was compelled to prepare as if she were going to show up, and make myself look presentable for going out, all the while the two of us are getting more irritated by the minute.

It turns out that our fabulous new babysitter Brittney was just not that into us.  Our first clue came on Tuesday morning, when she texted me to let me know that she was in Charlotte and would not be back in time to watch the kiddos at 3.  Yesterday at around 10 after 5, after a whole day of no communication, I had the most awkward task of calling her and leaving a message on her voicemail that we had changed our plans and she would no longer be needed.  It was like saying, "You're fired," but not in those exact words.  I'm pretty sure she knows we won't be calling her again!  Thank goodness we hadn't made any real plans.

Tim was not surprised at all at this turn of events.  In recruiting, he dealt with 19-year-olds every day and knows how flaky they can be.  He'd warned me in advance not to be disappointed if it didn't work out.  But after what a great first impression she made, I was pretty shocked.  I didn't see it coming at all.  At least we still have my friend Aimee, who will be watching the girls while we go to the Ball on Tuesday.  I've known Aimee for years and she's very trustworthy.  I just didn't want her to be my go-to babysitter, first of all, because she's a friend, and second of all, because she works in daycare.  She needs a break from kids!

Tim was upset last night on my account.  He said, "You're all dressed up, you look pretty, and I'm sorry I can't take you anywhere."

I said, "You don't have to feel sorry for me.  I'm not that dressed up.  This is something I'd wear to church.  And anyway, I love our 'come as you are' date nights in.  Those are good nights too, and we can still salvage this one!"

Later, after the girls had been tucked into bed, we feasted on takeout sushi and a $7 bottle of wine, saying, "What are we missing out on, anyway?"  A car ride, a noisy restaurant, only one of getting to enjoy a $7 glass of wine, hoping everything's going well at home, returning later to pay the babysitter..  I had never been happier to just be sitting in the peace and quiet of our own kitchen, and no other people to deal with all night long, and I know Tim felt the same way.  Maybe this makes us boring old farts (maybe "curmudgeon" is a better word) but it's what works for right now and we are content.  Life is good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Christmas card fun

I'm wishing extra hard for good weather and healthy, cooperative children for this weekend.  I'm having my little girls' pictures taken professionally at a park, and the plan is to make our Christmas cards with them.  This is one of the most fun aspects of the holiday season, as far as I'm concerned.  Every year since Delaney was born, I've wasted so many happy hours designing photo cards for our friends and family.  This year, I believe, I'll be going to Shutterfly.

It's a natural choice for me.  I love giving Shutterfly gifts and I love receiving them.  Here is the photo book Delaney and Annalise gave Tim last year.  I enjoyed every minute I spent putting it together, and when he opened it, he said it was his favorite gift.
Last Christmas, I was presented with not one, but two Shutterfly wall calendars -- one from Tim and one from my mom.  I love the daily reminders of places I've been and people who love me.  My mom told me how much she enjoyed selecting her favorite pictures from the year and thinking of the inspirational quotes that went with them.
As far as Christmas cards go, here is my favorite one so far: Good Blessings.  I love it because Delaney and Annalise are such gifts and Tim and I are constantly telling each other how lucky we are.  They light up our life.
Here's another one I like: Peppermint Bliss.  I can just see my little girls on there.  Maybe one of them individually on either side, and then one of them together in the middle.  I just don't see there being that many photos of them together to choose from.  But you never know.
Then again, there's this one, that will allow me to choose a whole bunch of my favorite family photos: With Love Chartreuse. I love the quote, "What a wonderful world."
We shall see.  I will be sure to post my final choice on here.  Until then, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good pictures this weekend!

I am participating in Shutterfly's 2010 Holiday Card Collection promotion where bloggers contribute a blog post about Shutterfly and receive 50 free holiday cards.  To learn more, click here.