Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summertime and the Living's Easy

Several months ago we decided that the kids and I would spend all of July and some of August in Massachusetts. My parents-in-law were suffering from too much peace and quiet in their house, and needed help eating all their food. I wanted to avoid being stuck in the air conditioning for weeks at a time with three bored kids and a baby.

Tim drove us up right at the end of June, and stayed with us a couple days before he had to go back to work. At about four weeks into our six-week stay, there's no doubt we made the right decision coming here. This change of scenery is exactly what we all needed, and since Tim Sr and Carolyn are both retired, they've been helping me a ton with the kids. The Big Three are too busy to be in my hair. They've been going to a half-day summer camp the majority of weekday mornings in July. They swim in the pool out back with no need for me to be there since we have plenty of lifeguards in the family. They go on bike rides with their grandpa. They go on a lot of outings with or without me along, depending on how I'm feeling on a particular day or how well I think Joey can handle it. It takes all the pressure off me. I can't stop sharing pictures on Instagram and Facebook of the beautiful places we've been going and the fun things we've been doing. We are incredibly blessed to be able to give our family such great memories.

But as I suspect is true in everyone's life, there's a side to the story that the nice pictures don't show. It has been very hard to discipline a headstrong and meltdown-prone five-year-old without his father to help. He has really been testing his limits. And it is hard to effectively parent him or any of the other kids when I'm running on maybe a few scattered hours of sleep because the seven-month-old has decided he hates sleep. I have been weary and sad at times. It's tough, too, being separated from Tim all these weeks, and to not have him be a part of all these good (and bad?) times. But we knew going into this that was the price we'd have to pay. We keep agreeing again and again it's all worth it. Besides, he's been traveling so much we'd only be seeing him a few days at a time in South Carolina.
There are events every week at the town common.Here we are at a concert by the Navy Northeast Rock Band.
Teaching Grandma how to play Uno on a rainy afternoon.
Goofy cousins
There's this place that is has a picnic ground on a lake AND a waterslide park. We spent a whole day here and had a blast. Timmy was old enough this time to go down the slides by himself, and he finally worked up the nerve toward the end. He went down the scariest slide! I wish I had pictures, but I had gone down first and was waiting for him at the bottom. There's an opportunity for the park to make a fortune selling pics of people coming down the slides. In the picture above, Joey is being held by his auntie Kathy, and that's her older daughter Sofia smiling at him.
Auntie Sam got him to go to sleep a couple times while we were there. He's warming up to his female relatives in spite of himself. There are too many of them and they wore him down.
Birthday party for Delaney and Timmy at Davis Farmland. Delaney's BFF Norah, who used to live next door to us in SC, got to come and sleep over with us that night.
We went on a short hike at Purgatory Chasm one day, but I seem to be missing all the pictures I took with my phone. They must have gotten lost somehow, between uploading a bunch of pictures to Google Drive, and then deleting them off my phone. That was really something. My kids were really unsure of themselves at first, because any hiking they've done up until this point has been on smooth, even surfaces. There are no hills in the south. Here, they had to climb up and down rocks! I thought I'd have to turn around with Timmy 20 seconds into the trail because he was petrified (no pun intended, haha). I really enjoyed watching their confidence grow every time they made it over an obstacle. That's an experience every kid ought to have -- many times. The same could be said for me too! One time, Delaney and Sofia cheered me on as I climbed up a rock that looked too tall and too sheer. I haven't done much climbing of anything since my Marine Corps days, and I'm out of shape. But they wanted me to do it so I did it, and had a nice skinned shin to show for it. Everyone needs a little adventure in their lives.
I've been informed that they don't normally do all this stuff in summertime. They have a lot of lazy days and sometimes go two weeks without seeing one another (gasp!) They've been planning all these excursions because we're here. I feel very special. Here we are right before we left for Lake Quinsigamond.
The morning after a cousins' sleepover, they all spent time outside with the next door neighbor, Diane, along with her grandson and her dog. Diane once raised baby eagle chicks herself and helped bring back bald eagles from the brink of extinction in New England. She wrote a book about it, and told them stories and showed them pictures. Needless to say, Delaney was utterly captivated and is now in possession of her own signed copy. Oh, and she let them feed the fish in her pond. A morning at summer camp can't compete with that!
Eight more days until Tim returns, and three days after that we begin the two-day drive back to SC. A week later it's back to school, and the kids can annoy their friends with stories that start with, "This one time in Massachusetts.." They think it's perpetual summer break here!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Joey: 7 Months

It's been kind of a whirlwind of a month, and here I am a week behind on Joey's update! I don't like that, but the busyness has been a nice change of pace, even if I do feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes, or about to drop from exhaustion. We're having such a fun visit with Tim's side of the family in Massachusetts, and doing all the things we only dream about in sleepy Beaufort, SC. Even just being outdoors in the middle of the day and not burning up in the heat and being bitten by bugs is priceless.
So what is new with Joey..?

He has progressed from crawling to pulling up on anyone and anything he can -- oftentimes it's my legs as I'm standing at the kitchen sink. The thing he's having trouble with is getting back down. Sometimes he just falls on his padded butt and that's fine. Other times he is shocked to feel the back of his head hitting the floor. I feel really bad for him then. I do hope he masters how to get back down soon.
He is still not eating any solids besides one oyster cracker a couple weeks ago that the kids are always reminding me about: "He doesn't eat foods." "But he ate that one oyster cracker!"  I offer him things from my plate now and again, and he will mouth it, chew it, break it up into bits and slobber copiously. But he doesn't ingest any of it. We give him Cheerios on his tray just to keep him busy, and when I lift him out of the chair, I find those soggy Cheerios stuck to him and the chair.
He's going through a lot of separation anxiety, especially now that we're staying with Tim's parents and he's seeing all these faces that he's not used to coming and going, and hearing everyone's noise. It can be a little overwhelming. He likes the quiet, and he likes having me to himself. I keep hoping with every time the family's around he gets a little more inoculated to the hubbub, but that is yet to be the case. Sometimes he has trouble going to sleep at night and keeps waking up and crying, needing reassurance that I haven't disappeared.
Oh, and a funny thing we've discovered -- he is afraid of women but usually not men. Why that is, I have no idea since he's such a mama's boy and definitely prefers me to his father. But here when surrounded by family members male and female, he shows a clear preference for males. He goes readily to his grandpa, but is still scared of his grandma. He shrinks from his aunties or grudgingly allows them to hold him. Tim's sister Karen's fiance Matt, whom he's only seen a handful of times, is his favorite of all. I don't even think Matt's comfortable with this. They're like, "You take him, Matt, he likes you." Matt looks like he's afraid to move or he'll break Joey, and he's probably thinking, 'How did I get to be the one?' I've theorized that the reason he's more comfortable around men is because the women approach him with big toothy smiles and that scares him. But then yesterday he met a male family friend for the second time ever, and he had a big toothy grin too, and Joey smiled back at him. It is a mystery.
He's still never taken a bottle, but I've been trying different sippy cups with not much success. I've tried a soft spout, a straw, and something new, a cup that works just like a cup but doesn't spill. Carolyn brought it home and I was surprised that such a thing existed. (I'm pretty sure I didn't have that option when the other kids were babies.) I had been filling the different cups with water, and he was taking a drink or two but wasn't really interested. Yesterday I put my milk in the cup that works like a cup, and he drank it eagerly. He spilled probably half of it down the front of his shirt, but it's progress! It can be really hard to get him to nurse sometimes when we're out and about and he's distracted by whatever's going on. It would be much easier to give him a cup at those times.

When I talk about him, I call him Joey; but when I'm addressing him, I find myself calling him Joe. I don't know why. All my other kids I call something ending in -y. But then there's my Joe and all the things that rhyme with it. Uh-oh, Joe! No, no, Joe! Say it ain't so, Joe! See how much more fun that is.
We had some rough nights of sleep here as he adjusted to staying in a new place. One night he was up every hour just about, and I was like the walking dead the next day. Currently it's not so bad. He goes down for the night around 7:30 or 8, and I usually dream feed him at 10 before I go to bed. Then he wakes up to nurse around 4 most mornings, then back to sleep until ONLY 5:45 or so, and that's the killer. Then I might pawn him off on Tim Sr who is up at that time. If he wakes up closer to 6, Annie hears him and comes to get him. I very much appreciate the help because I'd do just about anything for another hour of sleep. During the day he typically takes a morning nap a couple hours after he's up for the day; and an early afternoon nap. Sometimes he takes a short late afternoon nap too. It's starting to look like a routine.

Right before we left to come here, I took him to the doctor and he tipped the scale at 17 pounds 3 oz. I forget his height, but he was something like 70th percentile for height and maybe 50th for weight.

As I type this he's on the floor next to me, trying to reach the fan cord that I put up out of his reach. Oh, Joe -- you're nothing but trouble but I love you so!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

20 Questions for Delaney at Age 9

1. Who is your favorite person in the world? Daddy.

2. What is your favorite color? Blue.

3. What is your favorite TV show? (Thinks for awhile) Does it have to be a TV show? (I tell her no.) The Secret Life of Pets.
4. What is your favorite outfit? I'll wear anything. (Clothes that are comfy seem to be her favorite. Lately she's been wearing the cotton bike shorts that I got for them to wear under play dresses, with almost any top. As I asked her these questions she was wearing tie-dye blue and white bike shorts with a navy and red Red Sox tank top. She is an individual.)

5. What is your favorite sport? Football.

6. What is your favorite song? (She has to think about it.) Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day. (Luke Bryan for the win!)
7. What is your favorite cereal? Kashi Heart 2 Heart. (Of course it's the uber-expensive cereal that pretends to be healthy but is really just a denser version of Cheerios with extra sugar! That's a favorite of mine too!)

8. Who is your best friend? Norah.

9. What do you want to be when you grow up? A vet.
10. What's your favorite book? (Again, no obvious answer comes to mind. Delaney is ALWAYS reading something, and she likes a lot of books.) Max.

11. What are you really good at? Putting my tongue on my nose.

12. Where do you wish you could go on vacation? Massachusetts. (How nice, since that's where we happen to be spending our entire July and the first part of August.)
13. What is your best memory? When we were in North Carolina, jumping into the snow off that little playground thingamajiggy we had.

14. What would you buy if you had a thousand dollars? A thousand doggies. (I tell her that I think doggies cost more than a dollar.) A lot of doggies then.

15. What is your favorite vegetable? Corn.
16. If you could have a wish, what would it be? To have a doggy. (Years ago, somehow, someway, Delaney extracted a promise from us that she'll get a dog when she's 10. And we never promise these kids anything. They get 'We'll always love you', and that's pretty much it. Maybe we didn't use the word 'promise', but at some point we said, "You'll get a dog when you're 10." Back when 10 seemed so far away. Back when we assumed she'd forget everything we told her anyway. Hahaha. Delaney has been counting down the years. We're going to make good on the dog promise, but she knows that it will probably need to wait until AFTER we move and get settled into a new house next summer, so at least end of July or August. Then we have to pick the perfect dog for our family that we aren't going to instantly regret, and that will probably take some time. Delaney has researched and chosen Australian cattle dog as the breed that is the best fit for our family. I also wouldn't be opposed to rescuing a mutt. But it had better be a good mutt. I'm going to have to brace myself for a lot of dog talk as the one-year countdown begins and the anticipation builds!)

For the record, I like dogs too, but I know from past experience that the wrong dog can really make for some bad days. The one who barks all the time. The one who poops or pees in the house. The one who destroys the furniture. The one who's always trying to chew on me. The one who's trying to escape and harass other people and their dogs. The one who needs more attention than a baby, and I already have one of those. I know there are also many good dogs out there that I've also seen for myself. I want to make sure we get one of the good ones!

17. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate.

18. Who is your biggest hero? Daddy.

19. What do you like to do with your friends? Play with doggies!

20. What do you hope to do before your next birthday? Get a doggy.