Friday, May 31, 2013

Timmy at 22 months

I can't stand being so far behind on a Timmy update.  After he turns 2 I'll switch to updates every 6 months, and that will be a relief since I'm suddenly finding once a month very hard to keep up with.  

He keeps getting longer and leaner.  His swim trunks from last year fit.  Actually, one of them is a little big around the waist.  His swim diaper still fits and that's good, although I think I'll get him one more just because it will be nice to have one more.  We'll be doing lots of swimming this summer.

He does not say any sentences, but he says individual words constantly.  He echoes the last word anyone around him says in a funny questioning tone that never fails to remind me of Sloth on Goonies.  "Ruth?  Ruth?  Ruth?  Baby Ruth?"  Anyone remember that?  
He has begun putting two words together on occasion.  He says, "Danku" (thank you) when anyone hands him anything.  My little boy is getting manners, I'm so proud.  I've also heard him say "buddop" (bus stop).  He'll also say, "Got it!" or "Did it!" with a big self-congratulatory grin to go with it.  That's about all I can think of.  He's taken the longest of the three of them to start talking, but he's coming along.  

I waited eagerly for him to start saying his sisters' names.  He says "Annie" a lot, but doesn't usually attempt "Delaney."  If I ask him to say "Delaney" he says something that sounds more like "daddy."  The other day in the car, he said, "Annie, teeheehee, Annie, teehee.." again and again.  Yesterday morning when he woke up, he started calling, "Annie!  Annie!"  I find this interesting since Annie is the sister that picks on him all the time, and Delaney's his buddy.  Either he has just picked the name that is easier to say, or he likes Annie a whole lot more than he lets on.

He melted my heart a couple days ago when Delaney was crying because we'd gone to the pool that day while she was at school.  (We're not supposed to be doing anything fun during the hours she's at school.)  He went to her and laid a hand on her back and offered her his Lovey.  He has so much love in his heart, and it makes me so happy to see him learning how to be kind and caring.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Today got off to kind of a bumpy start but ended up being pretty close to perfect.

It was 7:30 a.m.  Kids had eaten or were eating breakfast.  A cooler was packed.  My gigantic 31 bag was packed full of towels, sunblock, and clean underwear.  I gave my eager helper Delaney a shopping bag and explained to her that her responsibility was to find all the beach toys, put them in that bag, and make sure that everything made it back in that bag when it was time to go home.  Once she was done I told her to go ahead and put the bag in the back of the car.  I pressed the button to open it and nothing happened.  I pressed it a couple more times, nothing happened, and I was like, 'What's going on here?'  I figured I must have hit something on the dashboard that controls it, and I opened the driver's side door to see if I could fix it.

I found the button and pressed it.  Then I remembered the car needs to be on so I turned the key in the ignition.  Nothing happened.  As dead as could be.  Oh no!  Then it came back to me.  Last night after the kids were in bed and settled down, I remembered that there was a part of the Mockingjay CD that I wanted to hear without the kids.  The last time I'd had it on with us all in the car, I had paused it when my protagonist and her boyfriend started to get lovey-dovey and it seemed possible that they were about to consummate their relationship somewhere in the woods of District 2.  So I thought I'd take five minutes and go out to the car and listen and get past that part.  I did not want to bring the CD inside because I worried that I would have a hard time finding my place, and I didn't want to hear any part of it over again.  I listened for a few minutes and, satisfied that I had heard all I needed to hear, I turned the accessories back off (or so I thought -- there are a couple ways you can turn the key) and went inside.  I didn't give it another thought until this morning when I discovered the car battery was dead.

Then I realized that I had sabotaged my plans for a beautiful Memorial Day, and deprived my kids of a trip to the beach, all for the opportunity to sit and listen to Katniss and Gale hooking up in the forest, as narrated by the woman with the English accent.  Pathetic.

I emailed Tim with the subject line, "Battery is dead:(", and waited for his response.  Meanwhile I texted my neighbor who I was going to meet at the beach this morning, to let her know my situation.  Tim emailed back, "Call USAA."  That was what I was about to do, but I wanted to make sure.  I know we had gone back and forth several times about who we would go with for roadside assistance, USAA or OnStar or AAA.

I warned the kids that we might not be able to go anywhere today, but within minutes of calling USAA, I received a text telling me the ETA of the tow truck company was 8:53.  8:53?  I was suddenly hopeful.  If the tow truck actually arrived anywhere close to that, we could still go to the beach.  I updated my neighbor to tell her we probably would make it, but don't wait for us.  The two of us knew that we could probably figure out how to jumpstart the car ourselves, but since it was all the way inside the garage, it would have been tricky.

Tim called me and said, "What did you do?"  I told him, and he said, "How long were you in the car?"  I said, "It was no more than five minutes!  I know I'm not supposed to use the accessories when the car's not running, so I only listened for a few minutes, but I didn't shut the car off properly.  I didn't sit there and have a beer and listen to 10 chapters!"  He laughed and said, "I think you did."  

The tow truck arrived at about 8:30, and we were on our way soon after.  The battery had plenty of time to recharge on the 40-minute drive.  I'm so glad we got to go after all. We all had so much fun.  It was one of those days that make me realize how blessed I am and what a great life we have.
Delaney shows Timmy the lizard she found, while we wait for the tow truck.  That lizard ended up getting in our house and staying there the whole time we were gone.  We found him on the kitchen table when we got home.
Even tired and sitting there in wet shorts, he's a happy camper.  I love this boy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

4 years -- and at least 11 weeks -- of those cheeks.. Happy birthday, Annie!

3D ultrasound at 28 weeks
5/19/09.  9 lbs even and 22 inches long :O.  Her funnel cloud birthmark has faded a lot, but you can still see it when she gets really mad.
I love the slobber droplets ready to fall off her chin.
A family photographer snapped this picture of her in a fit of silliness soon after her 3rd birthday.
Tim snapped this picture of his desk, emailed it to me and told me to tell Annie that when he misses her this is what he looks at.
I took this picture when she wrote her name for the first time a few weeks ago.  I wish she'd written it in marker instead of pencil, but if you look closely you can see it.  
At some point not long ago, Annie started holding her pen the right way and writing letters.  She learned how to swing herself on the swings at her preschool playground, a feat she is very proud of (as well she should be since her older sister hasn't accomplished that yet).  She likes to tell me about how Claire showed her that you have to "just keep moving your legs up and down forever".  Now she can show her sister.  She loves arts and crafts -- drawing, painting, stickers, beads, glitter, and pretty much anything.  Sometimes she asks if she can glue little pieces of paper to big pieces of paper.  She loves tormenting her brother on minute, and then loving on him the next.  She loves being read to, and she'll ask for her favorite books again and again for at least a week or two.  Her new favorites are her newly acquired Fancy Nancy book :) and Lalaloopsy book :(.  She loves sweets.  Her favorite meal is spaghetti and meatballs, which she picked for her birthday dinner.

If she is told something she already knows, she takes it as a personal affront and says vehemently, "I already knew that!"  We are forever telling Annie something she already knows or would have figured out herself if we had just given her the chance.  Sheesh!  She is also insulted when I open the car door just before she gets there because she knows how to do that and she can do it herself.  

She makes a lot of jokes about poop and pee.  Sometimes she'll blurt out, "I pooped my pants!" before dissolving into hysterical high-pitched cackles.  At least once a day she is overcome with the urge to run and twirl around in circles until, dizzy, she collapses on the ground.

She still naps every afternoon for two hours.

She is afraid of almost all animals, but most especially dogs.  I don't know when it started or how it started, but she wasn't always this way.  A couple months ago, she wouldn't even pet her friend's hamster.  She runs in the house if the neighbor's pitbulls even look at her.

I can't wait to see what the next year holds for Annie-banannie.  We sure do love this crazy little girl.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Wife, My Hero

I have hijacked Rachael’s blog to tell a story that is not new, but most definitely does not get old.  While I tell her all of the time what I will say here, I wanted to commit these words to eternity so that when we are old and grey, we can look back on these times and remind ourselves what we have gone through.
Couples say it all the time that they have married their best friend.  I know that I did.  Rachael is an amazing woman who I am blessed to call my wife and the mother of our children.  As I type these words, I am 124 days into an Afghanistan deployment (but who is counting?) and God willing I will be home in just a couple short months.  Fortunately for me and the current job I hold, I remain relatively safe from harm but still get to witness the tireless efforts of the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and all the service members from the United States and across the world make a difference here.  But for most all of us here, we have left someone at home whom we love and miss dearly and it is their sacrifice that makes mine pale in comparison.  For me, that is Rachael.
When I found out that we would not be receiving orders to move for the summer of 2013, but rather I would be deploying again after only being home for 10 months, Rachael took it like a champ.  When I told her the news, I asked her what I could do to make this deployment easier than the last.  She said, “Just don’t get me pregnant!”.  For those that know us, and those that read her blog, know that we were blessed with our son Timmy during my last deployment.  While we both were so grateful for God’s gift, I knew for her being pregnant during a North Carolina summer, by herself, had to have been one of the hardest things that she has done…and she had been a Marine herself, so that is saying a lot.  But she was amazing.  With some help from family and friends, she brought that little boy into our world and kept his sisters in line for 10 long months while I was away.   So not for a lack of trying, this deployment would just be her and three amazing little kids. I am no fool to think that makes it any easier.
I think that the two of us really just put off the reality that I would be leaving again as we didn’t do much to prepare ourselves for it.  Maybe it was because we had just done it all less than a year before, or maybe neither one of us wanted to admit that no matter what, it would not be easy.  But I have the easy part.  I simply go to work and deal with Marines who admittedly may act like children sometimes, are no match for a 5, 3, and an 18 month old.    But Rachael, day after day, does more than I could ever possibly imagine and I will never be able to repay her for that. 
From the moment that she wakes up she has so many different roles to fill.  Mother. Father. Cook. Maid. Doctor. Referee. Handyman. Disciplinarian. And that is all probably within the first hour.  She is always on, with no relief in sight.  Answering the incessant calls of children who have all that they need, but never what they want.  I am not coming in the door anytime soon, and she knows this, but yet she powers through each day, raising those three little people on her own.  She continues to give them enough love, affection, and discipline for two parents.  We are not alone in this journey, and we know that. We are not special, and we know that too. 
I can sit here and do my job knowing that she has it under control.  And while there can be some bad days, there are definitely more good ones.   And every once in a while she has the right to feel frustrated, but like a baseball player that gets knocked down with a high and tight pitch, she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and gets right back in the box to take whatever they can throw at her again.
I could not do this alone.  Let me say that again, I could not do this alone, but she does.  She has done more for our family in a few short years than I could ever ask for her to do in a lifetime.  I tell her all the time that I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it all up to her. 
She is my hero. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grandma's visit and Annie's birthday party

Tim's mom came to town on Thursday and left just yesterday afternoon.  It was a short visit but very eventful and a lot of fun.
We always go downtown at least one evening to eat dinner, get ice cream, walk around, blah blah.  It's always a nice time when we go, but Carolyn and I have to agree that this particular outing downtown was the best ever.  It started with the weather being perfect, and then finding a parking spot right in front of Captain Ratty's.  We ate dinner at a table right in front of the window, where Timmy pointed and exclaimed loudly at every motorcycle, truck, or convertible that drove by.  
After dinner we walked down the street maybe a quarter-mile to Cow Cafe, like always.  We window-shopped along the way.
Not pictured:  When we encountered a great dane (on a leash) and Annie panicked and literally climbed up the body of her grandmother, who said, "I'm the last person to protect you from a dog."  I would have picked Annie up myself, but I felt I needed to be over by the great dane where both Delaney and Timmy were.  They have no fear of any dog, even one who is almost the size of a horse.
At Cow Cafe, Delaney had a bellyache from drinking too much orange juice with dinner.  She didn't even want an ice cream cone.  That made Grandma feel bad, so she told Delaney and her siblings that they could pick out one of the many stuffed cows that are on the shelves, that I always tell them are just for looking.  She perked right up and even ate Timmy's ice cream cone which he had abandoned in favor of the rocking cow and John Deere tractor at the back of the restaurant.
A girl can never have too many stuffed animals.
But the best part came when we left Cow Cafe and started walking back down the street to our car.  A horse pulling a 'Cinderella' carriage stopped at the side of the road and its passengers got off.  Carolyn approached the driver and asked how we go about getting a ride.  The girl shrugged and said, "You just ask."  And with those magic words (and $35, thank you Grandma), we had ourselves a ride on the Cinderella coach.

It was lovely.  Timmy relaxed on my lap and sucked his thumb (it was starting to get late), and we sat there watching the girls laugh and giggle and have a ball.  I said later that it was more fun watching them have fun than actual fun ever was.
Not pictured:  When Annie freaked out at the sight of the horse and refused to have anything to do with it OR the princess carriage.  I did not think any of us would set foot in it and I'm still not quite sure how we got her to go in voluntarily, but my mother-in-law said, "Sometimes you've got to just give them a nudge."  Once she was finally on and she couldn't see the horse, she never stopped smiling!  Then as we were leaving, she said goodbye to the horse.  Funny girl.

The next day was the day of the long-anticipated and long fretted-over day of Annie's birthday party at the pool.  I have got to talk that kid into an indoor party next year.  All I did was check the weather forecast every day for 10 days!  It changed every day.  Partly cloudy, scattered t-storms, isolated t-storms, scattered.. I spent the whole first half of Saturday tidying up in case we had to have the party at the house.  I prayed, and then I asked my mom to pray, figuring her prayers carry more weight than mine.  I wanted Annie to have such a great day.  And of course I checked the forecast once an hour.  Outside, it would be sunny one minute, looking like an impending storm the next, back and forth all day long.  All the hours of waiting and worrying made me wish I'd scheduled the party for noon instead of 3.  At around 1, I decided we would take our chances with the pool.  The last forecast I'd seen said that it wouldn't start storming until 5 p.m., around the time the party would end.  Perfect!
We got a rare FaceTime call from Tim, but Annie couldn't be bothered to talk to him.  Stinker.
We left at a little after 2 to go to Harris Teeter to get the food and cake.  Almost as soon as we left the neighborhood, the clouds opened up and there was lightning and thunder.  Then the phone rang and it was the Y saying we could either reschedule the pool party or use the after-school room.  I said, "We'll take the after-school room."  Once we'd gotten all  our stuff inside, we rushed around like crazy trying to take their stuff down and put birthday banners and garlands up, all the while wondering what we were going to do with all the kids inside this room for two hours.  I hadn't finished blowing up the first balloon (at around 5 of 3 because I'm not the best at time management) when the girl who worked there told us that they were opening the pool after all, and we could move over there.  I looked out the door and sure enough, the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  It was fortunate that our first guests had arrived and could help us move to the outdoor pool, because none of the lifeguards who were supposed to help ever materialized.  We worked Grandma to the bone, she who had gotten off the plane not even knowing there was going to be a real party, let alone a pool party.  Sorry I forgot to mention that!

We did what we could to get the birthday stuff all set up, but we were crunched for time and the kids just wanted to swim.  I had to accept that it wasn't going to look "perfect" the way it did at Delaney's party, with a balloon tied to every chair and every decoration in its proper place.  It was kind of thrown together and wind-blown at that.  (The storm went away but there was still a pretty good breeze.)  Oh well.  Nobody cares about that stuff but me anyway.  Annie had a great time and so did everyone else, and that's all that matters.  It was a success and I was grateful -- and oh-so-happy to just be done with it by the end of the day.
Annie was generous enough to let Delaney help open presents.  Delaney kept asking, "Are you going to share it?"  I said, "Let her look at it first!"
In our downtime, when kids were either in bed, napping or in school, I enjoyed the funny stories my mother-in-law had to tell.  My favorite was about the family dog that they had for a short time when the kids were little, a cocker spaniel.  The kids had begged for it but predictably it was she who was responsible for caring for it most of the time.  One day during her lunch break she came home to let it out and it wouldn't come back.  It was a short distance away.  It wasn't running but it wouldn't come back in the house, and she had to go back to work.  A man who knew the family said, "Just walk over and get him."  She told him, "I can't," because as she now told me, "I couldn't touch the dog at all, I'd get sick."  She cringed like just thinking about it made her sick.  I don't even think that was the point of the story.  She was only mentioning that part in passing and would have kept going, but I was like, "Hold on a second!  You owned the dog but you couldn't even touch it?"  She nodded.  "That's hysterical!"  I said.  I mean, for most families, wouldn't this preclude having a dog in the first place?  If Mom can't even bring herself to touch the animal, and she's the only one available to care for it during the day?  This family is crazier than I thought!  

That's the last visit from family we'll get for awhile.  On the way back from the airport, Delaney asked, "Who's coming next?"  and I said, "Daddy, in about 3 months!"

4 months down, 3 to go