Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Last week Tim took the Big 3 on a trip to Disney as a surprise for their birthdays which take place in late spring and summer. (We took a video of them receiving the surprise a couple nights before, but our kids do not react to surprises; any footage we have of them receiving a surprise is laughably anticlimactic.) They made the six-hour drive on Easter Sunday morning and spent the rest of that day at Hollywood Studios where they met up with Tim's sister Kathy, her husband Brett and their girls, Sofia and Natalie. They spent the second day at Magic Kingdom, and then half of Tuesday at Epcot before driving home.

When they got home at 8:30 on Tuesday night, they came through the garage door into the kitchen, all of them talking at once about how much fun they'd had, and telling me stories.

Delaney: I had a mental breakdown my first day there.
Me: What?
Delaney: I lost my Magic Band right before I got on the Tower of Terror.
Tim: We were only three minutes into our first day. I was like, "Nooooooo!" So I asked the elevator conductor guy if, once the ride was over, we could go back and look for it. He asked, "Is it blue? Someone just turned this in!"

There were more magic band troubles, apparently. At one point when Tim wasn't around to see, Delaney's Magic Band snagged on a fence as she was turning around, and it fell on the wrong side of the fence. Someone had had to lift her over it so she could retrieve it. It's not clear who that someone was.

Another time Timmy was having some kind of fit, "pulling a Timmy" as Tim put it. The band fell on the ground somehow and Timmy, with a scowl, kicked it toward a body of water. (I could picture this happening as clearly as if I'd been there myself. That face, that body language, that temper of his.. Timmy, our sanguine child, is often the most joyful and affectionate; but he's got a red hot temper.) His cousin Sofia dove on top of it and saved it from going into the water. Thankfully, I'm told there were only a few short episodes of Timmy's dark moods. It was a vast improvement from the time we took him when he was only 3. I said never again Disney for a kid 3 or under, and I meant it! Tim tells me that Kathy commented more than once about how good Timmy's behavior was and what a happy demeanor he had.

Annie: The third time I went on the Tower of Terror, I was sitting next to Auntie Kathy and I knew what was going to happen, so I buried my face in her arm and cried. (Tim says they actually only went on it twice.)

Timmy was scared of all fast and twisty rides, as you can clearly see in a couple of the pictures below. His favorite rides were Soarin' and a race car ride (not Test Track). He had mixed feelings about Tower of Terror, and even though I've never been on it myself I think I can understand that. Tim says he liked talking about it but he didn't like being on it.

Delaney liked everything.

Tim had a great time for the most part, except for those few times that come up inevitably, when it's impossible to meet everyone's expectations (i.e., "Daddy, can we go on Soarin' now?" "No, the line is an hour-and-a-half long, and we have to meet Auntie Kathy and Uncle Brett and see what our first Fast Pass is for.") At times it was an exercise in learning patience. Speaking of Kathy and Brett, another thing that made it easy for Tim to have fun was being able to just show up without doing any of the planning because the two of them are Disney aficionodos. When you're only going to be at Disney for a short few days, the planning is really essential.

Something that drove him crazy was seeing how much food our kids wasted at the restaurants. He might have overeaten at times just so he didn't have to see it all go to waste.

Kathy texted me a lot of great pictures throughout their stay, and I loved seeing those happy faces.
I'm so happy for Tim and the kids that they were able to take this opportunity to go to Disney and spend time with some of our Massachusetts family for a few days. What a great memory for them all and a perfect 'experience' birthday gift for Delaney, Annie and Timmy.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Joey: 16 Months

Our Joe is exploding with personality, and he has so much to say to us all the time. He mostly communicates in grunts, chirps, and lots of pointing. We've taught him to sign a little, and he's made up his own sign which means "gimme." He holds up his little chicken wing and then extends his arm out and back in repeatedly, in the direction of whatever it is he wants. The only words he's spoken clearly are "Hi," "Bye," "Ma," and "Da." He likes animal sounds too. The cow goes "ooooh" and dog goes "Woo! Woo!"
He does not like being left behind. One day as Tim was preparing to take Timmy to practice, Joe realized that he was meant to stay with me, and did not like that one bit. He put up such a stink about it, whining and clinging to his father, that we decided he could go after all. He looked over Tim's shoulder at me as he was carried out the door, with a big smile and wave. The morning his dad and siblings were rushing around getting ready to head out the door to go to Disney, he cried as if his little heart would break. One day, buddy, you'll get to go too!
He's still not a reliably good sleeper. He'll do really well for many days in a row, and then he'll be back to needing to be settled at some point in the middle of the night. He still has a penchant for waking up a half hour too early in the morning too. Last night he slept from 7 until almost 7, and I didn't hear a peep from him all night. Why can't he do that all the time?

While my mom was visiting we took him to the beach for the first time since he was an infant. He did not like it at first. He was really uncomfortable with his toes in the sand and wanted nothing to do with the water. He mostly clung to one of us and fussed. Then all of a sudden, about an hour into it, it was like a switch flipped. He was like, "I like the beach! Sand is fun! Water is fun!" There were lots of shallow little tide pools for him to play in and it was just perfect. What a relief it was for me because his mood kind of sets the tone for me whether I like it or not.
I thought he'd need time to warm up to Mom when she first got here, but he took to her right away. You always know he's made a friend when he starts handing his things to a person. He was happy to have another face around and someone else to love on him and play with him.

We're still phasing out the morning nap. He'll take it sometimes if it's quiet at home. I now nurse him three times a day: first thing in the morning, right before the afternoon nap, and right before bed. I love our routine and our nursing/snuggling time. Ever since I showed him a few weeks ago that he could 'listen to the ocean' in a seashell on top of the wardrobe, that's now part of our naptime/bedtime ritual. He points to it as soon as we walk into the room and I let him listen in each ear. As he listens he grins as though he were hearing a juicy little secret. How funny. This summer I'm packing that shell in my suitcase.
Joey is a big eater now, and he uses the 'gimme' sign a lot at the table. He gets super cranky if it's close to a mealtime and he's hungry. He is very impatient and demanding if there's a food he likes and I'm not giving it to him fast enough. The problem is, if I give it all to him at once, he will shove it all into his mouth at once, and that makes me nervous. But he's really at a point where he could use his own plate at meals. I keep treats and junk to a minimum, and boy does he love those. He is really greedy and can never have enough. I had to put away Tim's little old Easter basket that was full of candy. Out of sight and out of mind.

He is very curious, always climbing, always getting into things, and always in my hair if I'm trying to get anything done. But when he's awake and not in my hair, look out -- he's getting into some kind of trouble then.
He makes me laugh, especially when he gives me glimpses into his little world and the way he sees things. There's a particularly ferocious toy dinosaur that Timmy has. I believe it's an apatosaurus, but it looks like a meat-eater with that snarl and bared teeth. It growls and makes a stomp-stomp noise when you push a button. That dinosaur, until a couple months ago, lived in Timmy's toy box. I moved it to the top shelf of his closet because Joey was terrified of it and Timmy never played with it anyway. Today Joey and I were in there and I was curious to see if he was still scared of it. I took it down off the shelf and said, "Do you want to play with him?" Joey's eyes got big and he shook his head no a few times and whimpered. "OK, I'll put him away," I said. Joey watched nervously as I put him back on the shelf and closed the door. He stared at the closed closet door and made little worried sounds for a few more seconds. He didn't even like knowing it was in there. It's so funny how scared he is of that thing. I guess I should get rid of it since Timmy doesn't notice it's been put up anyway.

Yesterday I watched him follow a squirrel around, barking at it like a dog. He must be taking his cues from the neighbors' pets.
One more little story and then I'm done: I took Joey with me to Confession a couple weeks ago. It was face-to-face, the priest and I sitting across from each other and Joey on my lap. As I was talking with my hand resting on Joey's belly/chest, I realized something felt strange. I reached down his shirt and pulled out a toy truck, which he took from me and handed to Father. I went on and then felt something else. I reached in his shirt again and pulled out our cable remote which he then took from me and handed to Father who was probably beginning to wonder what else I was going to produce from inside Joey's shirt. I was cracking up. He is always losing that cable remote somewhere and Tim gets so irritated. I searched all over for it today and found it inside some reusable shopping bags in the laundry room.

He is just an incredible little person who gives me so many reasons to smile and laugh, and we all just love him to pieces.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A visit from Grandy

My mom came down from Cincinnati for a few days so she could see us in our habitat here before we move away. We showed her a couple of the modest attractions our area has to offer, but mostly we hung around here playing games and taking walks. The kids weren't on spring break yet, but they had Friday off, which was the day she got here.

The kids couldn't wait to play games with her. That's their favorite activity that doesn't involve a screen. Grandy loves games too, so they were in luck. She wasn't shy about Sorrying some grandkids either. She also introduced the girls (and re-introduced me) to Spit, and that was lots of fun. There were a lot of laughs at that kitchen table.
My plan had been for all of us to go to the beach on Saturday, but Friday and Saturday were the chilliest days we've had in awhile. Instead we decied to go to the farmers' market in the morning, and then downtown for dinner later. As we were leaving the farmers' market, Mom realized that she didn't have her glasses, so she got back out to look and soon Tim followed. They came back empty-handed after awhile and that was disappointing. We left to go drop off our BOB stroller to a friend who was borrowing it and at some point Mom mentioned to me without Tim hearing, that those glasses were $300. She didn't even seem upset about it. I think she was trying not to be. When Tim and I got out of the car to knock at the friend's door I said to him with a grimace, "She says those glasses are $300." His eyes widened and I'm pretty sure he was thinking, 'No $300 glasses are getting lost today.' On the way back home he pulled into the parking lot of the farmers' market again. After looking through the pictures on my camera, he figured out they'd gotten lost at the playground. We all got out to look this time. I prayed to St. Anthony and walked with my head down, eyes combing the ground which was full of wood shavings and leaves. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack! After maybe 10 or 15 minutes had passed, Tim found it. I couldn't believe it, and I asked him where. He said they were on top of a fence post. Somebody had picked them up and left them there. I was so relieved and happy, but not as much as Mom. She remarked that she hadn't wanted to inconvenience us, but she'd have spent all day out there looking if she could have. I believe it too. I remember the time back when I was a kid, we were driving through the mountains on our way to the beach and Mom and Dad backtracked some 70 miles to a McDonald's to search for a missing retainer. In the dumpster. They found it too, tucked inside a ketchup cup.
Mom was completely in love with the huge trees in our neighborhood and all the Spanish moss. I agree they're beautiful, and I will miss looking at them.
This entire week was meant to be the kids' spring break, but after the hurricane, Monday and Tuesday became makeup days. The kids went to school Monday, and that night I had a decision to make. Tuesday was Mom's last day here, and the weather was supposed to be beautiful. I really wanted us all to go to the beach. I'd been hankering after a beach trip all spring long and I'd really, really wanted to go while Mom was here. It wouldn't have been a tough call if not for the days they'll already be missing, with the surprise Disney trip and Grace's wedding. But in the end, after weighing a day of school against a day of making memories with Grandy, there was no question. YOLO.
Mom told me on the phone the day after she left how much she'd enjoyed the one-on-one time with us. One-on-one time, especially with grandkids, can be hard to come by even with the ones she lives close to and sees all the time. It was such a gift to us as well. Delaney really enjoys Grandy humor, and I wish I could share an example, but it's 'you had to be there' kind of stuff.

Annie says her favorite part about Grandy's visit was when we went to the beach, and ordered pizza for dinner, and had Italian ice afterward. I think Annie's best memories all revolve around food.  

It wasn't too hard to drop her off at the airport on Wednesday, knowing we'll be seeing her next month in Cincinnati and the month after in Topsail, NC!