Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My newest organizational solution

When Delaney started school last month, I freaked out a little at all the paperwork suddenly coming my way.  I said, "Is it always going to be like this, things to read, things to sign all the time?  How am I supposed to keep track of all this?  If I file it away, I'll just forget about it!"

Thank goodness the paper barrage did not continue like it did the first week of school.  However, there are still significantly more things to keep track of.  We always feel better when we have a place for everything and everything is in its place.  It's not always that way, but that's what we're striving for.  So one weekend Tim made this for me out of some scrap wood in the garage.  I love it.  I'll try not clutter it up with too much junk.
My husband is the best!

I'm still on the look-out for a way to organize artwork and homework that I deem worth saving.  Currently, two years worth of it is in a jumbled mess in a cardboard box.  And now I have Annie's stuff to add to it.  Hmm..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Timmy at 14 months

This little boy is more of a handful than ever.  The scary thing is, I'll probably be saying this same thing every month for a long time.

He climbs every piece of furniture in our house as high as he can go.  He stands up on the La-Z-Boy recliner, then climbs the seat back and rocks it.  I tell him, "Buddy, you are not going to be smiling when you fall down from there.  It's going to hurt."  He just grins at me, looking so proud of himself.  I have to cook using only the back burners now because he can climb up to the stove.  He steps on the handle of the drawer underneath the oven, then pulls up on the oven door handle.  Then, whap! -- he slaps the stove top.

He is also figuring out how to use the little red stools his sisters love so much.  The other day he boosted himself up to the kitchen counter, and I grabbed the camera to take a picture.  But before I could snap a photo, the stool began to slide away out from under his tippy toes.  Uh-oh!  As I was rushing toward him, the stool slid away and he began to slide to the floor.  He caught himself on his arms and hoisted himself higher on the edge of the counter where he hung on by his little chicken wings until I came to rescue him.  I probably should have just let him fall because then he might have learned a lesson.
Look at me, climbing up on the stool and brushing my teeth  just like my big sissies!
He's still practicing standing and walking, but he's made no more progress there.  Maybe if he starts walking a lot this month, will he climb a little less?

He gives kisses and high fives on request.  I love it when he stops whatever he's doing at the word "kiss" and makes his silly version of puckering up -- smiling and smacking his lips together.  He is also likely to slap you on the face or grab your nose and yank your whole head from side to side to show his affection.  Sometimes we just grab each other's noses and laugh and laugh.  But if I'm holding him and he slaps me or tries to, I just set him down.  I let him know I don't like that.

I love his baby humor.  He thinks sneezes, both real and fake, are hilarious.  Ditto for coughing, burping, farting and hiccups.  Every involuntary noise a body could make tickles his funny bone.  Tim told me after the two of them went to Mass alone one Saturday night, he got the hiccups right before Communion.  He would hiccup, laugh, hiccup, and laugh some more.
He continues to alternate between being the bold, brave explorer and the helpless little baby who wails when Mama puts him down.  But he's sooo heavy.  When I don't feel like holding him anymore and he makes a big fuss when I set him down, I'll just get down on the floor with him.  He'll stand on my knees and put his arms around my neck and hold me tightly.  I hold him right back and give him lots of kisses.  I tell him, "You're nothing but trouble, mister, but I love you so!"
I think we're starting to phase out his morning nap.  When he takes one, it is usually for an hour or less and it's just an excuse for me sit and relax.  The time would be better spent running with him in the stroller.  If we have plans in the morning, we skip the nap and he's fine.  On the other hand, if he takes too long of a morning nap, his afternoon one suffers.  Then I suffer.  I've continued to hang onto that nap for no good reason, but I will soon be letting it go.  I always have enjoyed the freedom I gain once the kids make the progression from two naps to one.  We get out more and that's good for us all.

We dropped the 10 p.m. nursing, and he now sleeps from 7 to 7.
He cut his eighth tooth this month.  He will join his sisters for the first time at the dentist tomorrow.  I'm thinking he will be a most uncooperative young man during his exam.  It's just a hunch that he will not submit to having a stranger open his mouth and touch his little toofers, not even for the goody bag he will get when he's done.  Hopefully it won't be too much of a disaster.  I think at his age a dental visit is little more than a formality anyway.

Here are a couple videos of Timmy that sum up the craziness I'm dealing with.  Now that he knows how much fun the little red stool is, he hates to see one of his sisters using it.  In the first video, Annie was helping me at the counter and Timmy was mad.  Things like this are another reason why I've been keeping the morning nap around a little longer.  He still kind of needs it sometimes.  OK, I'll be honest -- I need it sometimes!
..And more fun with the little red stool.  I would love to just put it up but that would punish Delaney and Annie who use it all the time.
It is such a relief to me when he's asleep.  Right now I am listening to the sweet sound of silence and no shenanigans.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good news and bad news

Up until a few weeks ago, we were certain that we'd be moving this summer, and we were awaiting orders this fall.  We were hoping to get school for Tim, maybe in a place like Newport, RI.  We were planning to drive to Massachusetts for a few days this Christmas.  We weren't sure exactly what days yet, because of Delaney's school schedule now being a factor.  But I figured we'd stay there about a week.  The kids and I were there last Christmas, but Tim hasn't been there for Christmas since, I think, 2007.  The rest of the time we lived in Massachusetts together, we went to Cincinnati for Christmas. 

Then around the first or second week of August, Tim heard a nasty rumor that his monitor subsequently confirmed (that's always the best way to get news, huh?): he is being extended here from summer 2013 to summer 2014.  And that isn't all.  He is going to deploy to Afghanistan at the beginning of next year, likely for a year.  That means that not even a year after we get him back, he's going to be gone again.  We are both still reeling from that blow.

We are holding out hope that it really won't be for a year, but as of yet there is no one set to replace Tim at the six-month point.  We are praying that changes.  I just can't stand the idea of a year.  10 months was too long.  Six to seven months I can do.  It will mean another round of missed birthdays, but not Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Immediately after receiving the news, Tim said that we would have to stay here for Christmas after all.  Since he's not sure when he's deploying, it would be best to have a quiet stress-free Christmas here.  We could just spend time together, he could take care of things around the house and get his stuff in order during what could be the few short last weeks he has.

I was disappointed but I understood, and I definitely preferred not to be driving all the way up and down the east coast over Christmas break right before Tim leaves.  I quickly became comfortable with the idea of being here and having a laid-back holiday.  I felt bad for Tim's folks because they'd been expecting us and had adjusted their own plans so that they would all be home when we got there.

I was so excited when I learned that Tim's parents and sister were making plans to visit us for Christmas.  All that needed to happen was for them to make up their minds whether they wanted to do a direct flight to Raleigh or to fly into New Bern with a plane change.  They were just ready to start purchasing tickets when Tim called me one day from work and said, "So, I'm thinking.."  Maybe we could go up there after all, and just stay for three days, he said.  It sounded like he'd just been brainstorming, and while I didn't want to throw a big wet towel on his great idea, I tried to let him down gently.  I said, "That's a VERY long drive for such a short stay."  

I fully expected him to say, "Ah well, it was just an idea."  When he didn't, I became alarmed.  As he went on, talking about actual details of proposed drive to New England, it dawned on me that he had already made up his mind and now he was just trying to convince me.

"The kids will be fine, it's just us old people that have a hard time," he said."  It was very generous of him to put it like that, but I knew he really just meant me.  I hate, hate, hate that drive up 95 all the way from here to there.  But I had been prepared to do it, thinking we'd be staying for several days.  Besides, will all the kids be fine with it?  Even though Timmy will be turned around forward-facing in time for the trip, he will be an active 17-month-old who won't just sleep through it all like he did last time.  He will want to run wild every time we get out of the car, and he will hate being buckled back in again and again all day.  And by "all day", I mean a good 14 to 16 hours depending on traffic.

Under other circumstances, I don't even mind a road trip.  It's just that whenever we're driving to visit either of our families (they are equidistant from us, one way the hell north and the other way the hell northwest), there is so much pressure to just get there.  Don't take your time eating that cheeseburger, we've already used up 30 minutes going to the bathroom and getting gas.  We need to be past D.C. before rush hour..  (Yes, Tim, I'm looking at you.)  There's the cajoling of kids to use public bathrooms with automatic flushers and loud hand dryers that scare the bejeesus out of them.  I remember one of the rest stops in or around New Jersey even has flashing neon lights and pulsating music.  I felt like I was walking my poor, traumatized kids into a nightclub to use the bathroom!  There's the feeling some point after lunch of needing a coffee so bad because you're so tired, been up since 5,  but all the kids are sleeping right now and their eyelids automatically fly open and they start demanding food and drink when the car slows down or makes a turn.

We wrapped up the conversation with me saying something like, "Give me time to think about it and get back to you in a few hours."  Then I went and banged my head into the wall a few times.  Just kidding.  But that's what I wanted to do because I already knew I was going to agree to the plan.  We will all  have a fun time at a big family Christmas just like last year.  We will sing Christmas carols at Aunt Jayne's again, and eat lots of delicious food.  The kids will roll around on the living room floor in their pajamas on Christmas Eve, delirious with joy and sugar.  We will have some awesome memories that will be worth the long drive.  We'll make an itinerary and get the most the possibly can out of those three days.  

I hesitated to share the details of our decision-making process here, but none of it should be a shock to anyone who knows me, i.e. all 10 of you who read this.  I'm going to be honest about it and give our kids something to chuckle at one day.  They know their mom isn't the one to just paste on a smile and say, "Whatever you say, honey."  Now that I've got it out there, I will not say one more negative thing about it, and I will focus only on the good.  Christmas is a chaotic time for many families out there, but it's also a time of togetherness and happiness and celebrating the birth of Jesus.  That's what it's all about, and from here on out I am 100% happy about our plans.:D  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Annie's first days of preschool

I know I had my reservations about sending Annie to preschool a couple weeks ago, but she has settled in very well.  I didn't know what to expect -- with Annie I never know! -- but she seems to like it a lot and I haven't received any dreadful phone calls.  She goes Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 to 12.  There have never been any tears at drop-off time, and she always has a little story to tell me when I come to pick her up.

Here are some pictures from her first day.
Her "fruit dress" with two braids is her uniform because she will wear nothing else to school.
It was nice to have Daddy with us for the first day.
Each kid finds the apple with his/her name on it and places it on the 'welcome' board every day.
After putting her apple on the board, Mrs. Judy helped her wash her hands.  Everybody washes their hands first thing.
This morning before school Annie told me that when she's at school she just stands there and doesn't do anything.  I said, "How about you play and have fun today, Annie?"  She said, "I'll try my best, Mama."

Right before I left this morning, Mrs. Judy wanted to tell me that the other day they had been on the playground when an airplane was flying overhead.  Mrs. Judy asked Annie where she thought the plane was going.  She told me that Annie told her, "Massachusetts."  I guess she hadn't expected such a specific answer!

Today they painted with pudding, and thank goodness, they didn't make me take it home.  Lucky for me, Annie didn't notice or care, because Delaney would have insisted I take the sloppy mess with us.  I said to Annie when we got home, "Did you eat any of the pudding?"  "No."  "You mean to tell me you didn't lick your fingers even once?"  "No."  "Annie, I know you ate some pudding because I see the chocolate in the corner of your mouth!"

Thursday is her day to bring a snack for the class and be the "leader."  She is happy about that and wants to bring cheese and crackers.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rainy Labor Day project

It seems to have been a rule the last several weeks that any day Tim has off we have crappy weather.  In fact I feel robbed of the end of summer because first Tim took leave for a week, then he had a Labor Day 96, and it rained almost every day throughout all of it.  We tried to make the most of it on Labor Day with a morning of shopping in Morehead City that included a stop at Michael's to get supplies for a project we've been wanting to do for awhile.  

The original intent was to have the kids paint canvases that we could then hang in our room.  But clearly we were not very good at choosing colors for that purpose, and at some point in the process I looked at Tim and said, "These are going in the playroom."  He said, "Yeah."  Our room could use a 'pop of color', but this is a little much. 

As they sat there drying I said, "Let's hang them in the kitchen.  Then I can see them every day all day long, and they'll make me smile."  Tim said no way.  I told him he was no fun.  A few hours passed and I noticed the colors getting brighter and brighter.  I stopped mentioning how nice they would look in the kitchen and started scoping out a perfect spot for them upstairs.
When we were all done, I noted that the three out of four canvases that Tim had either helped with or done himself, featured lines.  On the only one that I had anything to do with -- Timmy's -- there are a lot of swirls and scribbles.  I think it says something about our personalities, but I'm not sure what.  
And there you have it -- playroom decor.  I love how they turned out.  We haven't signed them yet, and I think we need to do that too.