Sunday, September 30, 2018

Joey at 2 and three-quarters (holding onto 2 as long as I can)

You always hear the term "terrible twos", but I love this age on Joey. He continues to delight and amaze me with his growing vocabulary, in that chirpy little voice. He has us all eating out of his hand. The challenge right now is not spoiling him because we love him so.

The other day I was getting really irritated at all the noise, fighting and messiness in our house. I walked into the room and said, "I'm not happy with you guys right now." Joey piped up in his chirpy little voice: "But Mama, are you happy wif me?" I grudgingly said, "Yes, Joey, I'm happy with you -- for now." He replied, "Oh! Then you're not happy wif da kids?" I couldn't help laughing at this little squirt who doesn't think he's 'one of the kids'.
The boys got a haircut from one of Tim's old Marine buddies while we were evacuated to Winston-Salem. I love this picture because it captures Joey's sweet, sociable personality.
His preschool has started back up since the hurricane, even as we're headed into the third full week of cancelled school for his siblings. They've tacked another half hour onto the school days to try to make up for lost time, so now he goes Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9 to 12:30. He's always super excited to go, and all the way home in the car he talks about it. His favorite part, of course, is playing with the cars and trucks. Later in October he'll be doing school pictures and a farm field trip. I really like his teacher. She seems crazy about the kids and I often get a text and/or a picture telling me about how he did that day.
Here he is the first day of school.
Here's one of the pictures his teacher sent.
I never want to forget how he uses "my" in the place of "I" in sentences, or still calls a motorcycle a "ga-go". He also calls his prized new ambulance that Annie got him a few days ago an "ajh-wents". I might be encouraging his mispronunciations by using them myself. I've always been guilty of that with my little kids, and somehow they still have always managed to learn the correct way to say things.

He's been a solid sleeper these last few months -- finally, just in time to get a puppy.🤣 They've all been going to bed at 8-ish, and I read him two stories before I turn out the light. He may or may not be listening because he and his brother are busy jumping on the bed.

These next two photos sum up the relationship between him and our three-month-old puppy, Willow, whom we've now had with us for three weeks. He's pretty wary of her still, and she knows he's an easy target for tormenting.
We haven't started potty training yet. I guess I'm holding onto diapers as long as I can too, because they're convenient. But it's right around the corner. He's been showing signs of readiness these past couple months; for example, removing his own clothes and letting us know he's going to poop. He hates being wiped, and not having a messy diaper will solve that problem for him really fast. I had planned to wait till December to start potty training, but I'm thinking I should give it a whirl maybe as soon as next week. I'll let you know how it goes.

Joey has not been a 'terrible two' by any stretch, but he does get in trouble sometimes. Usually it's just a time-out for hitting or being disobedient. He still lets out an earsplitting screech when he doesn't get his way, and he clashes with Timmy all the time. He hasn't been a sneaky troublemaker who flushes things down the toilet and makes big messes. It might be because I typically don't afford him the opportunity because anytime I know he's somewhere by himself being quiet, I send someone to check on him. But there was that one time he slipped through the cracks for a few minutes..
That was about $30 worth of nail polish, and it's a good thing I never had much of a collection. I was mad at Annie because he'd found it all on her bed, and all the while I thought my nail polish was safe and sound on the high shelf of a closet where I keep it. And go figure, the girls had just put a cover on their doorknob with the intent of keeping him out of their room when they weren't in it; and then left the door wide open. Joey was not in trouble for this. And do you want to know how to get nail polish off of skin and blankets? You don't. First you lose your mind frantically texting your mom and sisters, and scrubbing at it in the bathtub until the kid will take no more. Then you put long sleeves and pants on him, and wait for it to come off on its own (every last trace was gone after a few days; every speck came off his hands within the first 24 hours). You wash and dry the plush Pottery Barn blanket and tell yourself you can't really see it anyway. You throw away the quilt, telling yourself you planned on replacing it within a year anyway.

That's all I've got for now. If anyone figures out a way to get him to stop growing up so fast, let me know.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hello from Crazytown

It has been an eventful week or two for us. This past Friday (was that really only five days ago?!?) I picked Delaney up from school early so that we could drive to Asheville and meet my parents on Saturday. They gave us our long-awaited puppy, a girl Frenchton we named Willow, and Delaney's dearest wish from the time she was two, came true. We had in fact promised her a dog when she turned 10, and she never forgot that. The dream had to be deferred for a year while we moved to and from Japan in seven months, and at last my mom was able to get in contact with the breeder she'd gotten her own dog from (Georgie, the best dog ever!). A puppy, like a baby, is a fun thing to dream about and anticipate.

Then everyone went to work and school on Monday, and it was like puppy boot camp for me. I had scarcely begun to wrap my mind around the upheaval that this adorable bat-eared creature had brought into my life, when the hurricane I'd been refusing to take seriously the past couple days started to become real and it was time to start making plans.

Here we go again, I thought. Monday was spent trying to decide where to evacuate, and trying to find a decent hotel that accepted pets. Then once we chose Winston-Salem, we second-guessed the decision, wondering if it was far enough inland to improve our lives at all. Things were filling up quickly. I spent all day Tuesday running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I needed to get Joey to preschool. I could have skipped it, but he loves it and he only gets to go two mornings a week as it is. It was also our turn to bring snack. I had to get my tank topped off, but all the gas stations were out of gas, ratcheting up my anxiety. Fortunately Tim had filled it up right after I'd gotten back from Asheville, and I had a little over 3/4 of a tank. I had to find more water and more snacks in case we got stuck in traffic. Walmart was a madhouse, but I wanted to go there to get puppy pads for the hotel room. I needed to cook us one last dinner to eat, with chicken that would probably end up going to waste otherwise. I needed to organize and pack, make checklists, and do laundry. I sometimes found myself staring into space, or bursting into tears. I hadn't slept well since the days leading up to the trip to Asheville (things like that cause me to lose sleep for no other reason than that they are major changes in my routine). Then Willow was waking me up twice a night, and I was bringing her out to the backyard on a leash so she could poke around and chew on leaves. Then she'd bark and yap and whine at 3:30 when I'd put her back in her crate.

I'd only just gotten Joey to sleep consistently through the night, and now this.

The house was a wreck. I hadn't cleaned in days. I just followed Willow around, trying to get her outside in time to do her business. I felt guilty leaving her alone too long, and that Tuesday morning I was gone two-and-a-half continuous hours. I was not prepared for this. I texted my mom that if I survived this, I was never getting another puppy. Please grow up, puppy, and let me live again. I would forget to eat, I fretted over that dog so much. I kept her in a play yard with towels under her so that I could get things done, but I didn't get much done because I was overwhelmed and anxious about EVERYTHING.

I tried to find silver linings in this evacuation situation. Maybe being in a smaller space would help us all to keep a better eye on Willow, and help her potty train, albeit on the yucky pee pad and not outside. I figured we'd be gone at least a week, considering we were gone a solid week after we evacuated Parris Island for Hurricane Matthew, and that ended up not even being a big hurricane. I thought this could be an opportunity for Delaney to really bond with Willow and make her her dog, since they'd be together all this time. The way things were going, I was the one with her most of the time, and I was going to be the one Willow ended up following around (If I could ever take my eyes off her!).

The morning we left, we got up at 4, and I had Delaney feed her a half a Dramamine tablet to make sure she wouldn't get sick during the trip. That morning our county issued a mandatory evacuation order, and that affirmed for me that it really was the best idea for us to leave town. A lot of our neighbors stayed anyway. We were on the road by 5, and discovered when we made a pit stop near Raleigh, that one of our children who was old enough to know better, had managed to leave the house that morning without shoes on. Just how?
Our kids think that being in a hotel room is a lot of fun, and being the first one to the elevator to press the button is the best. They take off at a gallop down the long hall. Joey got scolded by a lady several doors down as he ran along behind, always last. She opened the door and said to him, "Can we not run in the hallway?" She glared at me and I just stared at her disbelievingly, saying slowly, "Yeah, can we not.." then a grimacing "sorry." We are 'those people.' My stampeding kids were only the beginning of her problems that night, I'm sure. As I lay in bed that night, I heard conversation and slamming doors up and down the corridor late into the night. Every time someone walked down the hallway, it sounded like they were trying to bounce a bowling ball. As Tim put it, "We ALL signed up for the same misery." So get used to it -- ha. Maybe the hotel should have a jar of earplugs at the front desk instead of dog biscuits.

Annie wanted to hold Willow's leash in the sporting goods store that allows pets. That was one of the places we tried to kill time before our rooms were ready. I saw Willow get into pooping position near the entrance, ran over and scooped her up, saying, "Nuh-uh, outside, outside, outside!" I ran out, dragging Annie along who was still holding the leash. Then when it was time to pick up the poop, Annie said, "I never wanted a dog."
I hate stressful times like this, but they give me something to blog about. It helps to remember there are people who have it worse, way worse. One of my Parris Island neighbors just had her third baby. She was discharged early from the hospital so she and her husband could take the baby home, throw their kids and everything they could think of into the car, and drive for 9 hours -- separate vehicles, both of them driving the whole way. I can not even imagine. Then there are many more people worse off than that. I hope and pray that everyone stays safe this weekend, and that the storm is not as destructive as it looks.🙏