Friday, December 28, 2018

A December to Remember

We didn't do any traveling, but I feel like this was our busiest December yet. 

1. We hosted a Christmas party for Tim's officers and their families, and it was a success! This was something I found daunting, as my hostessing skills are kind of untried, to tell the truth. It didn't help that for months, Tim would keep reminding me it was coming up and I'd better be making lists..🙄Well, it came together beautifully. I had souvenir ornaments made for everyone as a parting gift, and I tried to up my game when it came to decorating. Tim put those meatballs that Annie and I had worked so hard on, into a big pot, along with sausage, to simmer all day in his delicious sauce. We put on some Christmas music, and right before everyone was due to start arriving, I had a glass of wine, which did wonders for my nerves.

When I stopped to think about what we're trying to accomplish when we invite everyone to our home for a Christmas party -- to make everyone feel welcome and at home, for us to get to know each other, to celebrate the season -- it became pretty simple. Then there's the fact that Tim has been throwing his heart and soul into leading this battalion, and I want to be able to support him in that. When I thought about that, I stopped trying to get everything perfect, and stressing because I couldn't. 

We'll definitely do this again next year.
2. A few days later, Tim's parents flew into town and we got glammed up and went to the Ball in Greenville, NC. We stayed overnight, what a luxury. We had a great time.
3. We watched Delaney play clarinet in her first band concert. Unfortunately, we were too far away to take a good picture.

Later, Tim emailed her this:

Hi Delaney!

I know I said this last night but your mother and I are SO-SO-SO very proud of you!! You did such an amazing job at your concert. We watched you over the last couple months work so hard at learning how to play and it was so great to see. I know I give you a hard time about not picking up your room or making your bed, but you are a great kid growing into such an amazing person.

Keep up your hard work, and keep being YOU!!

Daddy and Mama
4. We celebrated the third birthday of a very special little boy. Joseph Daniel, we love you so.

5. We made Italian Christmas cookies -- a half batch one day; and when we realized that wouldn't be enough, another half batch the next.

6. Joey had his first preschool Christmas program (there are no good pictures of him gaggling around with the other two- and three-year-olds and not singing). The highlight turned out to be when Ms. Susan called Delaney onstage with other alumni of that preschool, to sing a song. Imagine her delight!
7. The boys got horrible haircuts again. After Tim brought Timmy home again, looking like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber, I ranted and raved. I said, "Please make it stop! I'd rather see a messy mop on their heads than to see them get HACKED again and again. There's nothing worse than seeing handsome boys with bad haircuts. Next time give me the $10, and I'll light it on fire! Just buzz him, I'm serious. Buzz him!" At least the bad haircuts our mothers gave us were free. Why is it so impossible to get these boys a decent haircut? The barbers around here are plentiful, but really only know how to do one kind of haircut, and they're guaranteed lots of business. Tim doesn't want them to look like little Marines, but I'd like that a whole lot better than this! (I can't seem to find a picture of Joey's hair.)
8. We had a peaceful and happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just us.
Aunt Jayne's Rice Krispy wreath arrived while we were at Mass. Impeccable timing!

Joey put the star on the Jesse Tree on Christmas morning. Happy birthday to Jesus!
Joey's biggest present was a hit with everyone.

Mom and Grace gave Tim this world map that has hearts on Cincinnati, Grafton, MA, New Bern, NC and Parris Island, SC. There are pins for all the other places that he or we have gone.
Christmas morning: a whirlwind of activity and me collecting trash.
Tim and the kids were Skyping with Tim Sr. and Carolyn later in the morning, and I was walking around the house trying to clean up, when I heard them discussing boxes they'd sent, and presents that the kids should have gotten. I was like, "Wait a minute.." and I dashed off to our bathroom closet, where two boxes of their presents were still sitting there! Oops, haha. I'm pretty sure I assured them both before they left that I would remember to get out all the presents. Well, I did, eventually. Among them was the most lovely surprise -- this Willow Tree nativity! I love it. I've been wanting one of these for awhile. I kept trying to take the perfect picture of it.
I'm not sure which of Delaney's presents is HER favorite, but I can tell you which one of hers is my favorite, and that's this bean bag chair. Inside it are all her stuffed animals, and now she's got a comfy place to read her Warriors books.
Annie put together this 'knot-a-quilt' in record time. She said it was easier than other ones she's tried, because of slits that were cut into the fringes.
Willow is six months old. Still kind of crazy, but very sweet when she's tired.
There's so much more I could say, and so many more pictures I could include. I should do this more often. I love going back through the old posts and counting my many blessings.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Catching up

If you find yourself needing to make 175 meatballs in an afternoon, you need to have an Annie around.
I was lamenting the other day that I have no time for this blog anymore, and I wish I did. Tim said, "You have the time." I looked at him like he was crazy, but it might be that I actually have the time, just not the mental energy and focus. The margins of my day are getting fewer and shorter. I've been getting the house ready for a party on Friday, I've been Christmas shopping (mostly from home, but still), finishing up my two copyediting classes, and just trying not to let this household descend into chaos. Once the kids go to bed, it's Netflix, a beer and foot rubs on the couch, and sometimes I can barely keep my eyes open. I finally got Willow sorted out and she no longer pees anywhere in the house, and then a couple days before Thanksgiving, Joey decided he couldn't be bothered to use the potty anymore. Nor could he be bothered to keep a diaper on. I spent a few days just rushing up and down the stairs, cleaning up messes and doing so many loads of laundry. Now, with the help of Tim this past weekend and some good incentives, I think we've got him sorted out now. MY NERVES CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE.

Now we have the party this Friday, and then a few days after that the Ball, and I'm not used to life being so eventful, or eventfilled. But once the Ball is done, we enjoy the rest of Tim's parents' visit and then have a quiet Christmas here at home to look forward to once the kids' last week of school is done.

Joey's just gone to the potty and I'm buying myself a few minutes with him on a Kindle and Willow with a rawhide chew. I'll see if I can't share a few pictures I've taken in the last month or two.
Here's Joey looking through our favorite Hallmark recordable storybook we've had for a few years. It's read by Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Karen and Juliana. Joey looked through it again and again when I got it out. Then a day after I took this picture, it stopped working. I put in new batteries and it still doesn't work.😭
"I want those pillows fluffed, and I want them plumped!" I know everyone's seen this YouTube video a thousand times, but it's always good for a laugh. It might be mistaken for actual footage of me on Friday afternoon.

Monday, October 29, 2018

He'll never forget this.

It was a typical weekday afternoon, around one-ish. I'd been having a tough time getting Joey settled for his nap with the multiple potty trips he'd been needing to take. Running up and down the stairs was wearing me out, and I couldn't wait to sit down. In the meantime I tried to clean up the kitchen a bit. When a few quiet minutes ticked by, I dared to think maybe he'd finally gone to sleep. I started to think about what I'd do next, and in what order.

Then the silence was shattered by sounds coming from upstairs -- incomprehensible, scary sounds. There was a smacking, an arrhythmic wap! wap! wap! and Joey was crying, "Nooo! Aghhhhhh!" I'd never heard him sound so terrified, and it cut right into my heart.

No logical reason for what I was hearing presented itself in my mind, and there was no time to think. My instinct told me that it was not human. Was Joey being attacked by a poltergeist up there? I yelled, "Joey, I'm coming!" Knowing that she would make a puddle on the kitchen floor as she watched me run yelling from the room, I scooped up Willow and ran for the stairs. All the way up I heard his cries rising in panic and desperation, as the smacking relentlessly continued. "I'm coming!" I called again. I couldn't bear to think what he must be facing, and facing alone at that moment.

I was filled with dread in the moment I turned the doorknob, armed with nothing but a startled puppy, but needing to get to my helpless son. When the door swung open, two sights greeted me:

Joey's face, a mask of terror, red and tear-streaked, sobbing.

A Mylar balloon with a frowny face that Annie had drawn on, being mercilessly pummeled by the ceiling fan.

A week later, and he still brings it up from time to time. He'll probably be talking about it in therapy one day. There's never a dull moment in this house. Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, October 19, 2018


Back during Labor Day weekend, when I posted beach pictures on Instagram, saying, "I'm not ready for summer to be over," I had no idea what a rocky September and first half of October lay ahead for me. That was probably a good thing! I am so happy to find myself in a still busy, but so much better place on the other side of the new puppy/hurricane evacuation/no school for weeks at a time/potty training madness.

We are finally having fall weather here, and it's gorgeous. It is so good for all of us to be spending time outside again.
After about two weeks straight of constantly congratulating one or the other of them for eliminating in the right place, I've finally gotten Joey and Willow both to the point of rarely having accidents. Willow seems to like her crate now, and no longer pees in it out of spite when we leave her there. She sleeps through the night, on her bed in the crate in Delaney and Annie's room, from about 9:30 to around 6 in the morning without needing to go outside. Before that she was in Tim's and my bedroom for a couple weeks, but the laundry room is not an option anymore. Willow thinks she's a person, and a very sensitive one at that, who prefers to sleep in a bedroom. And so she shall, because it makes no difference where she sleeps as long as she's in that crate and not bothering anyone. I don't know when I'll be able to say she's completely housebroken though, since I let her out so often that she never needs to let me know.
I might roll my eyes at Willow being a sensitive dog who thinks she's a human, but that quality is what makes her the perfect fit for our family and for me, especially. She is at her best when it's just the two of us here, and she follows me around and sleeps at my feet. She does the funniest little dance at the back door when she wants to be let back in. I liked our bedtime routine when she was in our room, too, and I was sad when Delaney guilted me into letting her sleep upstairs.
Delaney and I have been attending puppy obedience training at PetSmart with her, and we are two sessions down, four to go. I like the instructor and the curriculum, and I enjoy seeing the other puppies and their owners. Two goldendoodles, two German shepherds who are littermates, and Willow comprise our class. One of the goldendoodles is huge, and his legs make me think of a person in a dog costume. But it is not an entirely enjoyable experience. Last night Tim asked me how it had gone, and I said, "Well.. we had mixed results." On one hand, we had some good practice with loose-leash walking, and came away with some helpful tips for practicing at home. On the other hand, these training sessions always seem to involve vomit, either on the way in the car, or after almost an hour of constantly being rewarded with treats.. Willow gets wound up and crazy in that setting, jumping this way and that, and it's so hard to get her to even look at us. I'll be relieved when it's over, to tell the truth, and I think Delaney will be too since she's still traumatized from last week's car ride when we forgot the Dramamine (duh-duh-DUH!). The training is good for her too, as long as I can keep her focused on the task at hand and not the toys in the aisle we're practicing in. (To be clear, I'm referring to Delaney, not the dog in that last sentence.)
I am so proud of Joey and his daytime diaper-free status. He's so pleased with himself too, and so adorable in his tiny undies. He is growing up so fast, in more ways than just that. Tim mentioned to me the other day that Joey's conversational skills have really taken off, even just in the last few days. I think school has something to do with it; I notice when I'm driving him home afterward he's talking to me in a way that's very articulate. For example, he wants to tell us little stories that might go something like, "My friend kicked me and growled at me, but I didn't do anything." I have to admit that my introverted nature makes it a real challenge to keep up my end of the conversations that he's always wanting to have. Sometimes I long for silence and the ability to be alone in my own thoughts.

We celebrated Tim's 44th birthday yesterday in a very low-key busy Wednesday kind of way. After school Annie helped me make the coffee cake he'd requested and which made the house smell amazing. It's quite the splurge for the normally sugar-eschewing Tim, but your birthday only comes once a year. Once everyone was home around 5, we sat down for a quick dinner of white chicken chili, and then he and the girls went to soccer practice. He is their coach this time. After that it was happy birthday, cake and ice cream, showers, and sending hyped-up kids to bed, all in short order.
My days are spent running around after a two-year-old and a dog, failing to keep up with housework in a home full of messy kids, carving out time for online school, keeping us in clean clothes, repeatedly cleaning up the kitchen only to destroy it again, and maybe finding the time to exercise or read for fun. I barely have any time or mental energy to spare. I accomplish very little of what I set out to on any given day, and it can be frustrating. But my heart is full and I am happy, grateful for my many blessings.