Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Timmy at 5 months

Timmy is growing more playful all the time, and we are enjoying him so much.

He is content to lie on the floor and play with toys, if only his brute of a sister Annie would let him.  I have no idea how to keep her off him so he can have some space to exercise.  He can roll belly-to-back and back-to-belly.  He raises himself high up on his hands and can scootch in circles, but not forward or backward.  He loves to play with his feet and hands as much as any toy.  He drools incessantly and gnaws on anything he can grab and put in his mouth.
He holds his hands out to be held now.  I thought it was only for me, but his grandpa mentioned he did it for him too.  He is excited and happy to see anyone who loves him, not just me.  He smiles and laughs at his sisters.  He's already learned that Karen is the favorite auntie (on Tim's side).  His little face lights up when he sees her too, and he laughs at her sometimes when she talks to him.
He loves it when we play with him.  I have all kinds of fun at his expense and he doesn't mind.  After a diaper change, I might smell his foot, gasp and say, "Stinky!" while pushing it to the side.  I do that a few times in a row and he smiles, coos, babbles and makes high-pitched happy noises.  I pick him up and play 'drool monster' with his sisters, holding him over them so he can drop slobbery bombs on them.  They love the suspense of waiting for that long string of slobber to finally break, and seeing where it ends up falling.

He wears size 3 diapers now, and depending on the particular brand/item of clothing, he wears size 9 months and 12 months.
I wanted to talk about his routine, and I'm finding it to be impossible.  There is no typical day or night for him, and hasn't been for several weeks.  I thought after reading Goodnight, Sleep Tight 10 times, and having Annie's babyhood be such a breeze, I was some kind of baby-rearing expert.  It turns out not at all, and I don't know what to do about Timmy.  His nighttime sleep has gone down the toilet.  He goes down with no problem as long as I use his Miracle Blanket, but he is up around three or four times a night.  The last two times are usually around 5 and 6:30.  He might go back to sleep after that, but the girls are raring to go at 7, and I'm feeling like a zombie.  In a desperate bid for more time in bed, I showed Delaney last night how to prepare breakfast for herself and her sister.  (She felt proud to be charged with doing a big kid job and did pretty well for day 1, even telling her sister to be quiet.  I didn't intervene until about 7:20 when I heard her talking about how she was going to make chocolate milk.)

During the day, naps are whenever I can get him to take one, and they've been lasting a measly half hour to 45 minutes lately. 
Sleep training in any form is out of the question for the time being.  I jump up and get him at the first whimper so he doesn't wake up the whole house.  Then we'll be traveling back to NC in a couple weeks, Tim will be coming back a couple weeks later (YAY!), and a couple weeks after that we'll be going to Ohio for a few days.  It will be awhile before things really settle down for us, and there's a good time to start using the sleep-shaping techniques that have worked so well for me in the past.  Until then, I'll survive.  People say it all the time, but it really does go by quickly.

9 months down, (a little more than) 1 to go

January, you'd better go by fast!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas was in almost every way perfect.  

After an early afternoon nap, we got dolled up for Mass and the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Jayne's immediately following.  As soon as everyone was dressed, it was picture time.  Quick -- while everyone is still looking pretty, hair's still fixed, and all clothing is in place!
Delaney wouldn't smile without fake coughing.  I think she did it on purpose just to push my buttons.
We went to Mass at St. Peter's, where Tim and I were married and Delaney was baptized.  We got there early so we could sit.  The kids were well-behaved, and Timmy fell asleep on Karen's shoulder.  Hearing the beautiful Christmas songs and looking at our happy kids all dressed up, made me overwhelmed with gratitude for all we have, but also brought tears to my eyes.  I fought them back the whole time because I was so grateful for this good life we have, but sad because I wanted Tim to be here.  Soon! 

As we left the church, we stopped to say hi to Father Jim, a family friend.  He gave Timmy a blessing.  
We went straight to Aunt Jayne's house.  Jayne is Tim's mom's sister, and this was a gathering of e-e-e-everybody on that side of the family.  Before long the house was bursting at the seams.  The girls ran off to play with their cousins, Timmy greeted his admirers, and I ate lots of shrimp cocktail and cheese and crackers.  As usual, I was starving.  Soon after, I fed Timmy and laid him down on a folded quilt in Jayne's bedroom.  I laid down next to him for a few minutes because he was a little unsure at first whether he wanted to be there.  I felt the vibrations of kids jumping around, and heard muffled laughter and conversation.  This is what Timmy would be feeling and hearing in his sleep the whole rest of the night until it was time to go home.  It was very soothing.  I could have almost gone to sleep myself.

We ate a delicious dinner, sang Christmas carols, and opened gifts.  I took a lot of pictures and videos with my phone and sent them to Tim throughout, so he could see them first thing when he woke up.  I was so glad that he could glimpse the smiles and the look of wonder on the girls' faces as everybody sang.  This will be one of the first Christmases they remember, and it will be a great memory.
Delaney was excited to be staying up late and having fun.  Here she is with her  second cousin Maddison.
This is how Annie looked at around 7.  The night was still very young, and I didn't know how long we'd make it.
Delaney's ready for Christmas carols with her song book and candy cane.
As it got later, it started to look like a slumber party with all the pajama-clad kids lying around.
Annie loved goofing off with her Great-Uncle Bob whom she dubbed "Snowman."  She got her second wind!
We didn't leave until close to 10.  Everybody was exhausted.  The kids all fell asleep in the car on the way home.  They still wanted one story at bedtime, so I read them their Hallmark recordable storybook, The Night Before Christmas, read by their daddy.  Karen and I ran around the house trying to restore order to the chaos.  After making sure everything was in place, I fell into bed around midnight.  Between Timmy waking up numerous times, and mysterious noises, it was not a restful night for me.

Timmy woke up at 6:30, and Annie came running out at as soon as the clock turned yellow at 7, searching for Chippy the elf, forgetting that he had gone back to the North Pole with Santa.  Delaney slept in until 7:30.  We opened all the presents from Santa and my family, and Tim's parents came over.
We both wanted to help Delaney with her new puzzle, but there was a lot of confusion.  I joked that as soon as we left her alone, she'd probably finish it herself in two minutes.  She did.
It flurried for about 20 minutes, and that was as close as it would get to a White Christmas.
The girls are wearing their new nightgowns from Auntie Grace.
We spent the rest of the day grazing on fruit and breakfast foods, playing with the kids and their many new toys, and trying to take a nap (me!).  Then we had dinner at Tim's parents.  It was a laid-back day, just the way Christmas Day should be.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Spooky stuff

Something sinister is afoot here at my sister-in-law Karen's condo, but I am determined not to let it cast a shadow on my Christmas spirit.

A couple weeks ago, I was upstairs in the loft, where Timmy and I sleep.  Adjoining the loft is a bathroom and the bedroom where the girls sleep.  It was afternoon, I think, and I was waking up from a much-needed nap.  The girls were at their grandparents' house and Timmy was still napping.  As I sat there stretching and working up the motivation to get out of bed, I heard it.  It was a series of small thumps.  I couldn't pinpoint the origin of the noise.  It wasn't the sound of a house settling.  It wasn't caused by the wind.  It seemed to come from nowhere, but at the same time everywhere.  I sat there, sleepy and confused, but suddenly alert.  What was that?  I briefly thought maybe it could be the neighbors in the next condo, but the walls are soundproof between the condos.  I never hear a peep from the neighbors on either side.  Instinctively I knew it wasn't a neighbor or even a human, but after thinking about it for a few moments and coming up with no explanation, I dismissed it from my mind.  I forgot all about it until last night.

Karen and I were chatting long after the kids had gone to bed.  I don't remember what the conversation was leading up to this, but she said, "Did I tell you my house is haunted?"  I looked at her agape.  Before I could even ask the question, she told me, "It's Cosmo.  My dead cat is haunting my house."  She went on to tell me about the unexplained noises she's been hearing in the year since she had to put Cosmo down -- like something is running around upstairs and loud crashes that are completely out of place and have no apparent cause.  I told her what I had heard, and she nodded, not surprised at all.

She told me that one night, while her parents, sister Sam, and Sam's two daughters were staying at the condo during the blizzard of Halloween, there was one such loud noise.  Sam looked at Karen and said, "What was that?"  Karen said, "You heard it too?"  Sam headed upstairs muttering, "Ugh, those girls.."  She went into the bedroom, prepared to tell her girls to knock it off.  They were sound asleep.

"That cat was crazy," Karen now told me, shaking her head.  "I'll never have another pet."

"I know!"  I gasped.  "I remember on the morning of my wedding day, I woke up in that room upstairs and there was that darn cat looking down at me from the dresser."  I had no idea how long he'd been up there watching me sleep.  It creeped me out.  When I came downstairs telling her about it, Karen said, "That's Cosmo's territory up there.  He's not used to anyone else being there."

I shuddered at the memory, but then I said, "Well, at least Cosmo wasn't crazy in a mean way.  He had good intentions," I said with way more certainty than I felt.

"Oh no, Cosmo was crazy in a mean way," Karen said.  "He bit me all the time for no reason.  He did not have good intentions."  So much for that.

Karen said that Cosmo was insane from the time he was a kitten.  She had him for 12 years.  Whenever he went to the vet, he had to be sedated.  She was scared to bring him that last time, but his health had been failing for awhile.  When she saw him that day lying on the rug in front of her bathroom, the rug discolored from the oil his body was oozing, she knew it was time.  A friend met her at the veterinary hospital after work to give her support.

Cosmo was ornery even to the end.  The vet was scared to approach him and Karen was afraid to see him one last time.  At Karen's friend's suggestion, Cosmo was given "kitty Valium" so that she could see him and say goodbye.  It was a late night.  As Karen sat at home later feeling exhausted and emotionally drained, her phone rang.  It was the friend who had accompanied her to the vet, telling her that on her way home, she had seen an orange and white cat in the road.  Cosmo!

As Karen and I sat in the living room last night, it was getting later and later, but I found myself reluctant to go upstairs.  As we went our separate ways for the night, I joked, "I'm going to go upstairs to the haunted room and try to sleep now."

I had a hard time getting to sleep, I have to admit.  I lay awake for about an hour, envisioning gleaming cat eyes watching me in the dark.  I said my guardian angel prayer, figuring that a crazy old cat ghost is no match for four guardian angels.  Then I chided myself for being so silly.  Cats do not have ghosts.

But if there is a territorial feline poltergeist at large in this condo, it would explain a few things.  Timmy has rarely slept more than three consecutive hours on any night since we arrived.  The cat is waking him up!  The girls who normally sleep like rocks for 12 hours, have been popping out of their room now and then in the wee hours, for no reason.  One time I was awakened once in the middle of the night by Delaney standing next to me and whimpering, "I'm scared."  The cat!  Today I looked in the fridge, certain that there was a brand new unopened block of cream cheese in there that I'd just bought a few days before.  Gone without a trace.  Karen and I looked at each other and she whispered, "The cat!"  He's the one who took the cream cheese, one of my niece's original Christmas presents, and 50 of my gift tags.

Now how do we get rid of this cat?

The cat came back the very next day
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away
Away, away, yea, yea, yea
(chorus of this song by Laurie Berkner)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tomorrow marks two weeks since we arrived in Massachusetts.  I can't believe it's already been that long.  A typical visit with anyone is only one to two weeks total, so it would already be over by now.  Being here makes the last two months of this deployment so much more bearable.  Time always seems to slow down dramatically the closer you get to something you've been waiting for, like the return of a husband and daddy.  Not only that, the last few weeks of being in North Carolina, I felt my patience wearing thin, the strain of being a single mom of three was really taking its toll, we were (and still are!) in the throes of the Terrible Twos, and I really needed deliverance.  So here is my deliverance.  I'm surrounded by people who love these kids and like nothing better than to lend me a hand.

We're staying with Tim's sister Karen, who has plenty of space for us to move in and spread out.    There's enough room downstairs for a swing and jumperoo for Timmy, as well as for the girls to tear around with two double doll strollers -- one of the many goodies awaiting Delaney and Annie the night we arrived, courtesy of several older girl cousins and a doting grandma.  We've made ourselves very comfortable here.  We've got her washer and dryer working harder than ever before.  They had a pretty easy life before we showed up.

We've made ourselves a fixture at Tim's parents' house every afternoon, where we have a standing invitation to dinner for the whole time we're here.  I have not cooked dinner in two weeks.  I like to head over as soon as naptime is over every afternoon.  I enjoy being in a place that is the center of so much activity once again.  In the same way, my parents' kitchen is the crossroads of the whole family, and I love that both Tim and I come from that sort of background.  For me, it took being away to really appreciate it.  Now I'm sounding like a country song.

Last week, a friend of Karen's came over to take pictures of the kids so that Carolyn could have an updated photo of the grandkids for the living room.  Unfortunately, not a single shot of just the kids turned out.  Sam is a Photoshop wizard, though, so maybe once she's done we will have one that passes.  We did get a few good ones of Timmy and all the ladies.
Timmy says, "Daddy!  Grandpa!  Save me!"
This sums up my life, except I'm usually in yoga pants and tearing my own hair out.
Delaney is attending preschool three mornings a week at the one that her Auntie Sam is director of.  She started the Monday after Thanksgiving, and she'll go until Christmas break.  I don't know yet if she will go at all in January.  I love that she gets to continue the same routine that she had in NC.  And a bonus for me is, Grandpa picks her up and drops her off.  

I'm happy to be in New England again, and happy to be spending the holidays here.  And when we get back some time in the middle of January, it will only be a matter of a few short weeks before Tim gets back.  So much to look forward to!