Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day weekend and Karen's visit

It has been a long morning.  I knew it would be.  Tim went back to work after five days of leave, and Tim's sister Karen flew back to Massachusetts after a four-day visit.  We have had torrential downpours for hours, courtesy of Tropical Depression Beryl.  The rain has let up for now, but I hear it's far from over yet.  The girls have griped and fought.  Our kitchen table has seen a long succession of activities, none of which have lasted longer than 20 minutes -- painting, stamping, letter workbooks, and lunch.  We've easily read 15 books.  We've watched some of Barbie as Thumbelina.  At last, it is naptime, and I can share some pictures from the last few days.

Here is the present that the kids and I made Auntie Karen for her birthday.  We did it at The Accidental Artist.  That was fun!  That was my first experience at one of those pottery painting places, but I'll be making my way back at some point, with or without the kids.  I think it would be a nice thing to do with just Delaney, even, because she's old enough to enjoy it for longer than 10 minutes and pay attention to detail.  While that's her handprint on the left, she colored in the flower stems under Annie's and Timmy's handprints.  Annie just dipped the brush in the green paint and went crazy with it underneath Delaney's handprint.
We went to a cookout on Saturday with some old friends.
Our Memorial Day beach trip was perfectly timed.  We got there at nine and stayed until a little after 11, when the crowds and clouds arrived.  I'm happy it was a success, but I can't wait until trips to the beach become less work.  I spend an hour the night before, deciding what to bring and packing gear and snacks.  I stress out, thinking if I forget one thing, the day is ruined.  There's Did we remember the towels?  Changes of clothes?  Sunblock?  Camera?  Chairs?  Umbrella?  Toys?  Diapers and wipes?  There's a 40-minute drive there and back.  When we're done we have to rinse the sand off the kids (and there's sand in every nook and cranny), drag everything back to the car, clean out the car at home, give everybody a shower, feed everybody (everyone's starving after a morning at the beach), and do two loads of laundry.  All this effort for two hours of fun.  I dream about the day we go to the beach, we all do what we want, and the kids fend for themselves (and by "fend for themselves", I mean clean the sand out of their own nooks and crannies and help carry stuff).  If Timmy's the last baby, that day could come in about five years.  If he's not, we might never see that day until we're almost too old to enjoy it.

This was the first time we brought the pack 'n play, and I say it was a good call, in spite of how much it added to our load.  We needed a place to set Timmy down so he wouldn't eat sand and rub it in his eyes.  He was happy in there most of the time, and I could just sit in the chair next to him.  Last time Tim carried him on his back in the Ergo, which was fine because it wasn't too hot yet.  On the other hand, we could have gotten away with bringing one chair instead of three, because only one grownup at a time could sit down.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Tim and Karen never sat.

On Karen's last day here -- yesterday -- we took a walk downtown by the water.  
The weather has been really strange lately.  These pictures were taken during the course of a 25-minute-long walk around downtown.  At one point I was applying sunblock to the kids, and five minutes later, we were running back to the car because it was raining.
And now it is 3:30, naptime is over, the Play-Doh has exploded all over the table, the rain has started up again, and there's no telling how late of a day it will be for Tim at work.  At least it will be a short week.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Timmy at 10 months

Timmy is 10 months old today.  He is more curious than ever.  He loves to explore, searching in the corners, behind furniture, and inside cabinets for new things to handle and taste.  For instance he might happily busy himself rearranging all of our plastic containers for several minutes.  Then he'll abruptly decide he needs comfort and reassurance for whatever reason.  He'll  whine, pop his thumb in his mouth, whine some more, and wait for someone -- usually me -- to pick him up.  Tim says he's a spoiled "mama's boy".  I remind him that he said pretty much the same thing about each of the girls when they were Timmy's age.  They've turned out fine so far, in spite of all my coddling.  Tim's just jealous because as babies the kids like me more -- that is, until age 1 or so.  I enjoy this time as long as it lasts.

It's not hard to see why he might have needed some extra love lately, especially last week.  He fussed, cried, ran a little fever off and on for days, and then he got four new teeth at the same time.  So now he has four on the top and two on the bottom.  It's strange to see him so toothy.  There's even another tooth on the top ready to break through.  That's a lot of teeth in a short amount of time.

Since he spontaneously began sleeping through the night just before he turned 9 months, he has kept it up every night.  It has been wonderful!  I feed him right before I go to bed and don't hear from him again until between 6:30 and 7.  It is so nice to wake up refreshed and not have to drag myself through every day.  Atta boy, Timmy!
Daytime remains the same.  He has a nap within an hour or two of getting up in the morning, as long as we can fit it in.  He has his afternoon nap when Annie does, after lunch.  Then depending on how early or late the afternoon one was, he might have a late nap at around 4 or 4:30.  That last one is only an hour, but it can be a godsend.  When I'm at the point where I have no idea what else to do with him, and I need to start on dinner, it is so nice to be able to lay him down.  I hand him his Lovey (still new and soft and silky), and I see him rubbing it against his face while he sucks his thumb.  He's taking a liking to it.  Annie has passed the torch.  I should come up with another name for his, but it comes so naturally to say, "Here's Lovey."  Some days are too busy and he might have to make do with little naps in the car, and he's OK.  He gets the early afternoon nap, if nothing else.  It takes an act of Congress to make me forego that one.
Up way past his bedtime at Delaney's preschool graduation
He is a charming little man when he's not being a fussy "mama's boy."  He has been clapping and waving for several weeks.  He's begun to pop a thumb in his mouth and wave bye-bye when he's ready for a nap.  I'm trying to teach him to give me kisses and so far I haven't had any luck, but I'm happy with stealing them for now.  He adores his sisters, and the rare time that neither of them are around, he looks for them.  He calls for them at the bottom of the stairs that go up to the playroom/guest room.  He climbs up if I let him.  One time Tim took the girls out for a few hours, and during that time, I took Timmy for a walk in his stroller.  He was content enough, but I noticed him looking to the left and right, and craning his neck to see behind the stroller.  He wanted to know why his sisters weren't walking with us.

He had a non-relative babysitter for the first time ever, earlier this month.  I had an appointment to go to, and I found a new babysitter from Sittercity.  When Katelyn came over, she held out her arms for Timmy, and he went right to her.  Then he laid his head on her shoulder and put his thumb in his mouth.  After picking my jaw up off the floor, I left happily, my biggest worry having been assuaged.  Another day, she came over and I left while he was still napping.  I wondered how he would handle waking up and seeing her first.  I asked her to text me when he woke up, mostly so I would know how much longer I should stay out.  I received her text an hour-and-a-half later, about 45 minutes after she'd sent it: "Timmy's up, but he's doing great.  Take as much time as you need."  I am very pleasantly surprised by how well he's taken to a babysitter he's never met before, but Tim's not.  "He's a boy, he likes any pretty face."

He still doesn't eat much in the way of solids.  He tries things here and there, but most of what goes in his mouth ends up on his lap or down his shirt.  Occasionally there's a food that he can handle eating a significant amount of.  He loves quinoa with black beans and corn.  I don't want to go into yucky details, but it's clear the next day that he's had a lot of it.  Cheerios will keep him happy in his chair for a good 20 minutes.  He shoves them into his mouth eagerly.  Later, I find many of them plastered to his shirt and the floor.  He loves Baby Mum-Mum.  If I need to buy 10 minutes of him being out of trouble, I put him in his chair and give him that (or let his sisters give it to him because they like doing that.)  He loves them because they're sweet and crunchy.  Each bite dissolves in his mouth within five seconds, so it doesn't take him long before it's all gone.  He usually eats one package of these (each package contains two) a day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Family pictures

We had family pictures taken a couple weeks ago.  We almost didn't need to bother, since we had the homecoming pictures taken just this past February, and they were all so good.  But we really needed to replace the canvas in the living room of the four of us before Timmy.  We set out just hoping to get ONE good one of all five of us, and everything else would be icing on the cake.  We found another great photographer, Laura Oldfather Photography, and we walked around downtown New Bern taking pictures.  It was a beautiful day, and the girls were happy to frolic around and occasionally pose for a picture.  They were amazingly cooperative.  Timmy hung in there pretty well too.  The photo shoot started at around 6, when he's usually winding down for bed, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cloth training pants -- because I didn't have enough to do

I have no business even writing this post.  I have so much laundry to do.  More laundry than ever in my life.  I have only myself to thank for it, too.  After  2+ years of using disposable pull-ups at night for the kids, I've switched to something reusable.

I got so fed up with buying the pull-ups, running out of them, and buying more.  Even the Target brand ones were expensive, only slightly cheaper than the name brand.  It was costing $1 a day, and since they are every bit as absorbent as a diaper, the girls slept on comfortably after wetting at night.  I could foresee years of buying these things for the kids, and them never learning how to stay dry.  Delaney is almost 5, for goodness' sake!  Like Delaney, Annie potty-trained with very little fuss, and her rare daytime accidents are typically the result of clumsiness (difficulty removing clothing or perching herself properly on the potty).  When I saw she was following right along in her sister's footsteps at night, I thought there has to be more I can do.  Disposable training pants did not always exist, and our mothers and grandmothers made do.  But isn't it rare for children's nighttime potty learning to lag SO far behind the daytime?

After a day or two of research, I chose Bummis training pants.  The reviews were mixed, but from what I could tell, they would meet my expectations.  They can be machine washed and dried on any setting.  They are just absorbent enough to be able to contain some wetting, while allowing a child to be feel wet when they pee.  They look poofy, but have a comfortable flannel lining.  They are only for nighttime, so the look of them doesn't concern me.  Some of the reviews had warned, "Not for nighttime use" or "not for heavy bedwetting", but again, this is supposed to be a training pant, not a diaper.  I bought only four because they are kind of expensive -- about $12 each -- and I didn't know how they would work out.

The girls were a little perplexed as to why I was suddenly making them put on puffy, unflattering, gender-neutral training pants.  They missed the pull-ups that fit like underwear and had pictures of princesses and unicorns on them.  But they took it in stride.

After about two weeks of using these, I have to say these training pants are doing exactly what they're supposed to do.  But these girls don't seem any closer to being consistently dry throughout the night.  I am so frustrated.

They had a so-so night 1, with both of them a little damp, but sheets and pajamas still dry.  Night 2 was a disaster, with both of them soaked head to toe.  After that, I tried two more measures that had been suggested by friends.  No water the last two hours before bed.  If they ask for water, they get a sip, literally a sip.  Tim and I take them to the potty before we go to bed ourselves.  I knew that this would be an investment of a lot of time and effort, but would pay off when these kids obtained bladder control all night long for the rest of their lives.  They had several dry, or mostly dry nights each, and I was feeling very optimistic.  I told Tim, "We're on the right track!"

Then, starting three nights ago, it's been soaked beds every night for both of them.  I don't know if they're sneaking out of their beds and chugging water in the middle of the night or what.  We've been offering incentives for keeping dry, and I believe they both want to stay dry.  I don't know where all that pee comes from. They both use the potty every night before bed, and they get nothing more than an occasional sip of water after lights out at 7 or 7:30.  Then we wake them and  take them to the potty around 10:30 or 11 when we go to bed.  It's always surprising how much they have to go.  One night, I was really dismayed when we found Delaney already soaked when we came to take her to the bathroom.

These training pants are my first foray into any kind of reusable diapering.  I figure, I'm a stay-at-home mom, I can handle it.  But I'm having to learn how to cope with daily, sometimes twice-a-day bed-changings.  Then there's the smell of stale pee on both of the girls, because even though I wash the pants with hot water and dry them on high, they are still a little damp in the crotch where the two layers of terry padding are.  (The dryer is an HE dryer from six years ago, and I think its efficiency comes from not being quite thorough.)  The first couple times that happened, I dried them again, this time on the "express" setting, on high for 25 minutes.  Then I realized, this experiment is failing miserably. My energy usage is probably triple what it was, and a dollar a day for pull-ups is nothing compared to this. In an attempt to save a little energy, I now take the slightly damp training pants out of the dryer and hang them up outside.   But they never lose the stench.

The other day I had a few sheets, a few towels, and two or three of these training pants in a load.  They stank as they came out of the washer, even the towels that had not even been involved in the accidents.  Stupidly, I moved everything into the dryer, and the within a few minutes, the odor of urine was filling the house, and probably the neighborhood too.

I thought to myself, maybe some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of the washer will work.  I had Tim buy white distilled vinegar at the commissary today, and I refused to tell him what I was going to do with it.  He's worried that I will ruin our HE washer with my cockamamie ideas I get from the Internet.  I will do a little Googling and make sure that it won't hurt the washer.  I may just dilute some vinegar in a bucket of water, and just soak the pants before washing them in the machine.  But time is of the essence when I only have four pairs of these things total.  I have to have a second pair to change them into, so all four pairs need to be ready to go every night.  I refuse to fall back on my emergency stash of disposables.  I can't give up, I'm committed!

It was so much easier to throw a wet pull-up into the trash.  Why did I do this to myself?  How long until it gets better?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Annie turns 3

We celebrated Annie's birthday this past Sunday, even though her real birthday is May 19.  We have a really busy May this year, so we had to fit it in where we could.  We tried to make it a special day for her, even though it was small and simple. 

It was just her daddy and I, and her siblings.  We opted to do cake and presents right after breakfast because we can.    
Annie got to open one little present with breakfast.
I learned soon about why it may be best not to have birthday celebrations before I've had my second cup of coffee.  After Tim had lit the candles on the cake, I wanted to adjust her little tiara.  I leaned over, and it wasn't long before I realized the ends of my hair had caught on fire.  I jumped back and started to shriek, and then realized that all the kids were staring at me and the fire was out.  "You're OK," Tim said.  Thinking my hair must be really damaged, I told Tim he might need to give me a haircut later.  But the burnt ends were gone, and after brushing the ashes out, it looked fine.  The awful smell of burnt hair lingered for a long time.  My hair was still smoking while we sang 'happy birthday', and I had to stifle coughs.  Afterward, I told the kids, "What you saw me do -- don't do that!  It's dangerous!"

We started asking Annie what she wanted for her birthday about a month ago.  Annie's typical answer: "A dump truck!"  Tim took her and her sister to Target recently, and they strolled through the toy aisles.  Guess which toys Annie noticed?  Tinkerbell and princesses.  Guess what she didn't notice, even though Tim made a point of passing by it twice?  A big yellow Tonka dump truck.  A few days later, I also noted that Annie showed not a flicker of interest at a giant toy dump truck at a friend's house.  So we got her this token dump truck, which she was happy to see, but I haven't seen her play with it since.  Silly girl.

Out on the driveway, Annie took her new bike, and Rosy Cheeks Baby (thanks, Grandy!) for a whirl.  No more trying to keep up with Delaney on the old tricycle.  She's doing pretty well on it so far, but not quite ready for the road yet.

And now, what's new about Annie as a big three-year-old?  

She seems to have finally given Lovey up for good.  Lovey has been stashed in a top dresser drawer for at least a couple weeks now.  As she leaves behind that last vestige of babyhood, she's coming out of her shell more, and becoming more social and interested in the world outside of our little bubble.  A few days ago, Delaney's school hosted a Mother's Day event, "Muffins with Mom."  We sang a song, had muffins and did a craft in the fellowship hall.  Then the director said it was time to go upstairs to the classrooms.  Annie thought she meant it was time for us all to go into the classrooms, but really, it was time to leave Delaney there and go home.  Annie was crestfallen, and for a minute, refused to leave, even after I did my old tried-and-true tactic of saying goodbye and walking away.  She was like, "OK, bye!"  She was happy with plan B, which was, go to the park and see the ducks and seagulls.  I hope she still likes preschool this much in September when it's time for her to go.

Annie is very physical, but not in a snuggly, cuddly way.  More like she'll give you a hug so hard hurts.  Or she'll ram her big head into your ribs like a dog, to make sure you're paying attention to her.  She did that the other day while I was playing with Timmy, and I felt like she must be needing some affection.  I put my arm around her to give her a little squeeze, but she giggled and squirmed away.

She cracked us up a couple weeks ago when we were all out for a walk one evening.  Delaney was on her bike, Annie was on the old trike, and we were following the main road in our neighborhood all the way down to the water and back.  We could see Annie's little legs going quadruple the speed of Delaney's, and I thought, 'That looks really tiring!'  Sure enough, we were only about halfway to the water when she stopped and said to Tim, "Let's make a deal.  I'll walk and you carry my tricycle.  Does that sound like a deal?"  Tim laughed and said, "What kind of deal is that?"  But he carried her tricycle most of the way back (she asked for one or two more turns on it).  It is so darn cute when little kids use our methods on us in their cute little voices.

She loves "beau-tee-ful" or pretty dresses.  If I choose shorts and a shirt for her, she often protests, saying, "That's not pretty!"
She loves to color, draw, paint and play with stamps.  She loves books, especially anything that's 'look and find' or with flaps.   

She still moves her mouth like she's nursing sometimes, usually when she's feeling either tired or just when she wants to feel a little more secure.  It's a funny little habit.  You might have noticed it in the 'happy birthday song' video.  She'll probably keep doing it until some other kid brings it to her attention and embarrasses her.  But I find it very endearing.

We sure do love this little girl.