Friday, May 24, 2019

Annie is 10!

We kicked off "birthday season" (four out of six of us have late spring or summer birthdays) this past weekend with Annie's 10th birthday. To celebrate, Annie requested a sleepover with her friends Grace and Avery. We did that Saturday night. Avery ended up not being able to make it, but Annie and Grace had fun making their own little pizzas for dinner, painting ceramics, having cake and ice cream, and doing whatever else it was they did. Delaney also participated, and Tim took the boys out of the house for a couple hours to help make it more of a girl-oriented evening. I think we succeeded in making the day a little special for her. 
As cheesy as this always sounds to say, it has been a delight to watch Annie grow and see the young lady she is becoming. To have a front row seat for this is one of the best parts of being her mother. 

Annie has become a second set of hands for me. If I need someone to get Joey dressed on Easter Sunday morning because I'm getting myself ready and Tim's handling a crisis on the phone --Annie. If I need something baked, or even something just gotten out of the oven--Annie. (I don't bake much myself anymore, since she'd rather do it.) If I need someone to make a simple dinner or pack a lunch--Annie. She makes pancakes from scratch every Thursday, which is "breakfast for dinner" night. You might notice that the place where she helps me the most is in the kitchen. That's where I need all the help I can get! For the first two weeks of July, she's going to be attending a full-day cooking camp with her friend Grace. I'm kind of shooting myself in the foot sending my most helpful kid to camp for 10 days, but I know it's something she'll enjoy, and I'm hoping we'll all benefit from what she learns there.
She is also a second set of eyes and ears. We are very impressed by her powers of observation. Whatever I say in her vicinity, she has recorded in her mind and will play it back for me word for word (which, truthfully, can be inconvenient at times). If she's nearby while I'm in a conversation with somebody, and I'm trying to remember a detail from it later on, she's got me covered. If the police ever need to know where I was and what I was doing on any given day, I'll tell them I have to ask Annie. A couple weeks ago the girls and I were having a conversation, and it came up that Annie remembered that one of the preschool dads had worn the same plaid shirt at two different events, and she named the colors in it. I was blown away. She has said she wants to own a bakery when she grows up, but Delaney and I decided she also needs to be in the FBI, and for a funny few minutes we riffed on the idea of Annie the baker-spy. Think little folded-up messages inside of pastries, and her eyes watching everybody and missing nothing. In all seriousness though, I told her that her ability to pay close attention and remember things will serve her well in life.

For anyone who knows Annie well, her being observant is nothing new. What is new, as of the last couple years, is that instead of just watching what's going on around her, she's much more engaged. It used to be that around this time of year, her teachers might say something to me like, "Well, she's starting to come out of her shell a little.." What they meant was that she was at least no longer completely mute; she was starting to participate in some activities, so that was progress. Her kindergarten teacher once told me that during choice time, when kids were free to move about the room and play with things like blocks or dress-up clothes, Annie would ask for math worksheets and toil alone at her desk. There's nothing wrong with working hard, but we are so happy to see she's having some fun now, too. Remember the little girl who couldn't be bothered to move from one spot on the soccer field a few years ago? After her last game of the season a week ago, she couldn't wait to tell me she'd scored a goal with her left foot. She gets her athleticism from her father.
She is super generous, and whenever she receives money or a gift card, she often shares the wealth with her siblings. Knowing how much she loves clothes (and how bad I am at gauging what she likes and what will fit), I gave her a Target gift card for her birthday, and completely unprompted, she allowed each of her siblings to pick out something small in addition to what she got for herself. If her teacher gives her a piece of candy as a reward, she brings it home and gives it to Joey. She chose a cookie cake for the night of her sleepover because she knew that's what Grace liked best. She gave me a cute necklace and matching key chain for Mother's Day, and I was touched just knowing she had even thought to get me a gift. It is a wonderful quality to always be thinking about others.
We are filled with wonder and gratitude for the gift of Annalise Elizabeth, and excited to see all that 10 holds for her. As her Grandy, who is also her godmother, wrote in her card: "May you continue to grow in grace and wisdom as well as age."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Timmy's First Communion and Tim Sr.'s visit

Timmy reached a big milestone this past weekend: his first Holy Communion. 
Quick story about that banner: We had been told in advance that while we were at the First Communion retreat a couple weeks ago, we'd be given the materials to take home so we could make the banners at our leisure. What happened instead was we were put in a room for the last hour of the retreat and told to make one NOW. It was like "Go!" and everyone started running around gathering materials. There was no time to plan it out -- just a quick Google image search, Timmy picked one, and then we commenced cutting and gluing at a furious pace. It was like one of those cooking competition shows on TV. Many parent-and-kid teams managed to produce professional looking banners under this pressure, but Timmy's looks like two kids did it. I will say, however, that we had good teamwork, and I enjoyed doing this project with him, especially since we seem to butt heads often these days. He has strong will and big emotions which, once he learns to rein them in, will make him into a great man like his father.
I love the way the light shines through the stained glass windows in the evenings. 
Grandy says it best.

Tim Sr. came down to visit for a few days, and Carolyn would have come with him, but her doctor advised against travel while she recovered from a horrible bout of flu. We missed her. We didn't turn on Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! for the whole time.😞 Not that there was anything stopping us, but if Grandma had been there, she wouldn't have let us forget! The Bruins game can wait.

While he was here, Tim and I got to use their anniversary gift to us -- dinner for just the two of us at Chef and the Farmer an hour away in Kinston, N.C. I had no idea what to expect, but Tim has watched A Chef's Life on PBS many times, and he had planned ahead what to order. I was glad because I really don't like making these decisions. I worried he was ordering too much food for us, but in the end we only took home half a pizza. The food was to-die-for delicious! We shared all the courses except for our entrees. The beef tartare was my absolute favorite, with the berries and bacon pizza a close second. While he had steak for his entree, he ordered me the North Carolina tile fish with miso pesto and red peas. I devoured it all. Apparently I love red peas, which I heretofore did not know existed. On the way home in the car, I told him we need to come back here one more time before we move. He did not agree, since his experience hadn't been quite as good as mine. His steak had fallen short of his expectations. He does that every time, and there is a growing list of restaurants that he or we have been to, that have stellar reputations, but the steak just is not up to par according to Tim. He'll never learn to not order steak until he gets back to that place in NYC that he hasn't stopped talking about, that set an impossibly high bar for steaks everywhere. He kind of smirked at me and acted like it was going to be a looong while before we go out to a pricey restaurant. I took the opportunity to remind him that "I wasn't this fancy when you met me. This is all your doing. I was like let's go out to Ruby Tuesday, and I'll have a Bud Lite, but then I met you and you made me into a foodie and a 'drinkie' ... and you have yourself to blame for that."
Except for the steak.

(Blogger is insisting that these last two paragraphs be centered rather than aligned left, so I guess I'll just go with it and make the whole thing centered.)

Besides a First Communion and a date night, we spent the rest of our time at soccer games and practices, hanging out at home, or doing our favorite New Bern things -- the waterfront, Cow Cafe, and downtown. This is the prettiest little city to live in, and it's the best time of year for walking around.
Joey is crazy about Grandpa.