Moooo

Just a quick paragraph to share that Miss Caroline enjoyed her first bite of yogurt this morning. The plain yogurt with some peaches was brutally rebuffed, but the banana yobaby was gobbled down with vigor! After her exciting entrance into the world of dairy, she got a bit spacey, staring off into the distance, and her eyes began to get heavy and close. She almost fell asleep in her high chair (and I almost left her there), but I thought I had time enough to relocate her to her room. So I swept her up, placed her in her crib, and poof, like a light, Caroline is snoozing. Hoorah! Mommy gets to shower and hopefully break the gunk up that still resides in her chest - yuck...

Simply irresistible

How can this be? Next week the little lady will be once again playing with her special bear posing for photos to capture her entrance into her NINTH month???

The good news is we can break out Auntie k's (with a little help from Kiki too) fall wardrobe of chocolate brown and pink. Caroline will be so deliciously adorable which will keep me from once again cursing the sands of time.

I recently received my Your Baby is Eight Months email. The same email that sent me into hysterics before Caroline was born, because HI she wasn't here yet, now delights me to no end with fun factoids about things she might be doing, games to play with her, babyproofing reminders of which I need many, among a myriad of other helpful and entertaining things.

One thing that I try not to dwell too much on, but nonetheless gmailed to Steve was the milestone chart. I regularly check the
Autism Speaks: Learn the Signs
page. I dutifully review the upcoming month in What to Expect the First Year, only after I remember that though she is now going to be eight months, I need to read the nine month chapter because she is IN her ninth month. Why this still confuses me I will never understand. Not so masterfully hidden within the babycenter site is a
Handy Milestone Chart
. (check me out with all my web links! Woo hoo! Masterful blogger that I am- HA!)

So I say I try not to dwell too much, but you almost cannot help but compare your precious baby to the chart making mental notes about things like practicing waving or OHH she can clap - months ahead of schedule. You simply cannot help it and I think any parent who says they don't refer to milestone charts every now and again is L-Y-I-N-G. there I said it. In fact, our pediatrician encouraged me to refer to charts like the Autism Speaks one because her development should be measured on some level and especially where autism is concerned. I try not to compare Caroline to other children and I think that is easier to do because they are real live little people with personalities, but the chart... I cannot resist your structured lines and columns of data. What can I say, I am a visual junkie.

So for now we need to work on waving, keep playing "where's caroline", keep rewarding the mahhhhs and work on the daa, be aware that Caroline might begin to exhibit signs of stranger anxiety (though I would be very surprised if this was a big deal to her), and sadly encourage her to crawl. She is getting really close and we were sure that last weekend would have resulted in "CRAWLED" being written on her baby calendar, but she keeps getting stuck with that one leg under her. As reassuring as it can be sometimes to look at these charts, all I really need to see is her smiling face, hear her babbling on and on about ba and bo and bee, and see her taking in the world in huge thirsty gulps to know that she is doing OK, BUT the charts, I cannot resist!!!

Caroline has taught me...

... that the best part of anything at all is the tag

... to sing (even if she will eventually ask me to please stop because I am so bad)

... that 6AM is sleeping in

... to save necklaces for special occasions or when lots of willing baby holders are around

... that a thumb and part of your palm taste exceptionally good

... to enjoy a long hot shower when the opportunity presents itself

... that sleepers should only be made with zippers

... to smile more

... that her Daddy, while he loves sports and manly things, loves having a little girl even more

... to eat healthier

... that the most comfortable way to sit is with her right leg bent and your left leg straight

... to make up silly songs and ditties the way my father did for me ("faster than a crawling baby, able to drink bottles in a single gulp, she's SUPER BABY!")

... that the passage of time cannot be slowed, but the moments can be saved forever

... to enjoy the taste of feet

... that no matter how sucktacular she has been at any point of the day, the moment she falls asleep and is in a state of pure bliss, I forget all about the antics, the clinginess, and wish I could hold her for hours and hours and hours

... to see her father through fresh eyes that often pool up in tears of admiration

... that I am stronger than I ever thought possible

... to cherish our families and the time we spend with them

... that saying Yay and clapping my hands over and over never ever gets old

... to savor her inability to ambulate

... that Zwiebeck toast and Arrowroot cookies are a messy proposition

... to pause and reflect each day

... that the sound meh is magical indeed

... to multi-task

... that while time here is limited, my love for her and her father are boundless

Like a momma bird and a veggie rebellion

So that little discussion with Sarah about the sickness?

It went a little like this...

McMomma: (hands over bag, but keeps baby cuddled safely on her shoulder) "I am not sure she is staying."
Daycare Goddess Sarah: "Oh?"
McMomma: "We had quite a weekend. Please tell me to whom I should direct my thanks for the 102 fever and projectile vomit on Friday night?"
Sarah: "Oh, yeah, it's going around."
McMomma: "I feel like I am constantly dropping her off healthy on Tuesday and picking her up sick on Thursday, just to get her healthy again for Tuesday. She had a rough weekend and she doesn't have a fever, but this cough is so awful."
Sarah: "Well, it's up to you." (holds out hands to hold Caroline)
McMomma: "I just don't want to be that parent who drops off their sick kid."
ENTER Michelle: "HA! That is the FIRST time I have heard that."
Sarah: "We got a couple he's sick comments from parents this morning already." (nodding head toward Jack)
McMomma: (stares down Jack, focuses on the germ factory that is Hannah)
Sarah: (follows McMomma gaze to Hannah, nods head in agreement)
McMomma: "Well, I think she feels better than she did, but I worry that she will be needy today."
Sarah: (cringes, but just a bit) "Why don't we see how it goes, if she is really sad or spikes a fever we will call you, or whatever you want to do, it is up to you."
McMomma: "Ok, let's try it, I can get some work done, maybe take a nap, I might come get her on the early side."
Sarah: "Ok, just let us know!"

I love Sarah and Michelle. In fact, the loathing I feel for the sick children's PARENTS in Caroline's classroom is at about the same level as the love I have for Sarah and Michelle. They cancel each other out, I suppose making me feel ehhh about school overall. huh? interesting

Who are these parents? Steve said he has had visual contact with Hannah's mom. I asked him if she too has a nose that drips like a faucet? Or eyes that always seem puffy and irritated? As for Jack, he was hacking up a lung and running repeatedly into the wall during my short discussion with Sarah. Could it be that his mother is AFRAID to spend the day at home with him?? The only way to keep your kid sick free is to keep my kid sick free too, so please do us all a favor and just keep your child at home.

It is going to be a very long winter.

I picked her up around 3 and the two of us took a nice little nap in the family room together all cuddled up in a super soft blanket. It all seemed quite perfect until I opened my eyes momentarily aware of a pool forming on my T-shirt. A pool of sweat. Caroline has inherited both my and Steve's nap sweat gene. Her entire head was soaked as if she had already had her bath! I removed the blanket and shifted her a bit, but poor baby was so warm. She seemed pretty content though, so I went back to dreamland - in a dream where I could breathe, through both nostrils even, and didn't wake up until I became faintly aware of Steve's presence in the house. A nice little hour long nap did us both a world of good. (as did early bedtimes for all female members of the McFamily, including Reese)

The evening was complete with an outright refusal to ingest vegetables of any kind at dinner, but loving those bananas and apples. So bananas and apples it was. Caroline is starting to get more interested in self-feeding, a messy proposition, but one that I am wholeheartedly embracing. She loves those Zwiebeck toasts, but don't you dare take it away, not even for a moment to pretend to eat it! The protest is intense and like a mother with a baby bird, once a grown up has touched it, the toast is forever tainted and therefore refused.

My new plan might be to continue making the foods that I know she loves - nectarines, bananas, pears, peaches - and purchasing the detested vegetables. Pouring a bit of my time and energy down the drain isn't quite sitting so well with me.

Speaking of food, here I am rambling about making Caroline's food while one of the kid's in her classroom arrived at school with no food...for the WHOLE day. I overheard Sarah telling Michelle as we walked in that his mother had dropped him off and said that she didn't have any lunch or snacks for him. Sarah said she told her they don't have any food to give him, but the mother still left him. ??????

BCBS - you rock my world

I don't think I have ever heard anyone say, insurance co, you rock my world, so please allow me to be the first.

BCBS you rock my world!

On Friday after some soul searching and discussion with Steve about our commitment to nursing Caroline, I did some calling around to inquire about renting a pump. How much it would cost? Will it help get us out of this milk drought? I got a call back from a lactation consultant at Saint Vincent's who asked me first if my insurance might cover the cost of a pump because rentals are often quite expensive, sometimes as much as 75 bucks a month - holy crap!

Insert ah ha moment - I had called my insurer way back when Caroline was still Cash to inquire about my maternity benefits and I asked this very question. At that time they indicated that it would be partially covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. When we first started out, she was doing great and getting a prescription from my OB would have taken more than some begging and eye batting. Nursing was going great, so I never gave it another thought. BUT I should have. Back when her doctor was concerned about her weight gain, I should have revisited this because the primo pump would have certainly assisted me in maximizing my milk supply. So we missed that boat and here we are now with barely enough milk to send her to school each day and it did not even occur to me to consider that my insurer might still cover the cost.

The customer service person at my insurer listened carefully and researched our policy, turns out they will cover 90% of the cost for durable medical equipment up to $3500 per year! 90%!!! She located a local medical supply vendor within their network and provided me with the fax number to send the prescription.

My OB office was closing in less than 10 minutes and did not think they could get the prescription completed in that time, so it would likely be Monday before I heard anything back. For the record, I still have NOT heard back from them. It was Steve who suggested I get in touch with those fabulous people at Breastfeeding Resources, who ultimately did call in the prescription for me, though not in time for me to get the pump that day. More importantly Dr. Smilie offered additional information about increasing my supply and how to work and nurse at the same time. She wanted to make sure that this pump would help correct the problem and she thinks that it and the strategies she provided will! I love those people! Thanks to JEN again for sending me their way!!!

So yesterday - Caroline and I in our sickdom drove out to Monroe to pick up the pump and were brutally rebuffed by the store who "does not bill insurance for pumps, they are considered an over the counter pay out of pocket purchase." I took my prescription, called my insurer and they located another company for me to try. This second place did not have the pump I want/need in stock, they are more of a rental place, but they were willing to order it for me, for $516 - HI - it costs about $300 in the store?!?! HOLY MARK UP!!! So they ordered it for me, they will bill my insurance and I will pay for my 10%, which is still less than the $300 I would pay in the store. At this point with just a few more months of nursing ahead of us, I cannot justify the cost of the primo pump, but for $50, just a bit more than it would cost to replace my manual again (which I am sure we would have to do anyway), well that I can definitely justify!

Steve and I were talking about this after it was finally ordered and Caroline and I were on our way home, some 4 hours since leaving the house, and must I remind you sick sick sick! With my stuffy nose all my questions sounded more like, "I'mah here for a breast pumpt. Can you order oned ford me?" I love our insurer for offering this coverage and I know that many women are not lucky enough to have this option. That was only half the battle though, locating an in-network provider proved to be challenging and then convincing that provider to order one took some real self-advocacy on my part. "No, I really need the one she prescribed, the rental is too large to take into the office with me." The difference of 20 dollars between the 10% retail cost and the jacked up home care supply company doesn't make me mad, the fact that the home care supply place can jack it up that high - over 200 dollars more than retail is absolutely mind boggling. So the insurance company will have to pay more for us to have this pump than if they authorized reimbursement for one bought retail. The money they lose by sending us to a provider is more than made up I am sure by the other women who are not able to be as persistent. If I did not have Mondays off and the entire day to devote to this, would it have happened? Probably not.

So ladies, check your policies! Ask about your coverage for durable medical equipment and if a breast pump might qualify. Be persistent! Advocate for yourselves!

In just 3-5 business days I am expecting my work life to vastly improve when I am not faced with struggling to pump at work for 30 minutes a pop between meetings. With the help of this fabulous pump, I will get more milk in less time Pump in Style Advance.

It was a toss up this morning about whether to write about this or the sickness that still inhabits our house - look for a sick update later - including a discussion with Sarah about to whom we should direct our gratitude for the projectile vomit and hacking cough that made me think that I would discover a little coughed up lung in the back seat when I removed Caroline from the car this morning. Run on schmun on, an angry mom need not take a breath to express herself. Caroline is at school, but probably not for the whole day. I plan on leaving work to take care of myself and get myself on the mend a bit before picking her up a bit earlier than usual.

Clap on... Clap off...

Weekend in review...

Friday night - 102 fever and projectile vomit at 12:45 am, parents and baby awake until 4am
Saturday - Mom wakes up with Caroline's cough, baby's fever vanished, BC beats Army- another hot game at Alumni, Caroline makes friends with Brian and Linda
Saturday night - baby sleeps on way home from The Heights, eats dinner, has a snack, reads books and decides she isn't ready for bed, until after 11
Sunday - Hacking cough, fever returns, Mom's cough continues, Maggiano's for lunch - YUM!, Wicked at the Opera House - excellent!, Caroline sleeps the whole way home, plays on her piano after a late dinner, and then falls asleep after a little bedtime snack (crossing fingers for a good night's sleep)

Special thanks go out to Kiki and Papa for watching sick baby Caroline while her parents enjoyed Wicked with Auntie k, Auntie C, and Uncle Hokie! For a sick girl she was playful and entertaining. What a treat!

Another first to report!

I looked over at Caroline during the BC game sitting on Auntie k's lap and she was CLAPPING her hands. I have been working on the clapping thing for awhile now and I thought she might be starting to get it because she has been flapping her arms wildly when I clap. I thought it was still a ways off.

Maybe it was all the hand clapping around her? Maybe the little connections just coincidentally happened at that very moment? Anyone who witnessed a large group of people foolishly clapping their hands and saying yay at the BC game over the weekend, it was all for this little girl's first claps ever. She kept doing it and now won't stop doing it. She claps during meals, while playing, and when people say yay. If no one is looking will a baby still clap? I assure you that yes, yes she will. She had her back to me tonight and she was just clapping away all by her lonesome.

Don't believe us? The video proof is here for all to see.

Enjoy!

Piano playing and clapping



It all started with the toys in the bath



And for fun, Mommy making a fool of herself to hear some of those sweet baby laughs


Some firsts?

First the first.

Yesterday afternoon Caroline tried some Zwiebeck Toast! She enjoyed it so much that when I took it away after her nervous Daddy expressed concerns about choking, she cried! Photographs of the toast eating experiment are posted in picasa. It was so strange to see her chomping away on a piece of REAL food. Steve and I were both in awe that our baby is growing up enough to gum toast?

First the second.

Caroline woke up when the trash came by this morning, but she wasn't upset, just awake. Steve picked her up from her crib and she snuggled on my chest for a bit before deciding that it was time for breakfast. As I sat upright in bed to feed her and moved her to my lap she looked up at me with wide eyes and the following syllable came out of her mouth - Ma. Steve heard it too and though I am sure it was a total fluke, it was the first M I have ever heard her try out. Now to work on the the Da.

We are headed up to MA this weekend for the BC game and an afternoon show in the city.

Currently having some milk issues, but trying hard to resolve them. Keeping up with her demand during the days I work is becoming a challenge and though I try to be diligent about pumping, getting 2-3 oz each time is making it much more difficult to fill those 5 oz bottles for school. Steve and I have talked about it and we have renewed our committment to nursing. I don't think Steve realized how important it was to me that I am able to provide this for Caroline. Giving it up just makes me feel sad and like a failure. I know that any breastmilk is helpful and that I shouldn't feel badly, but I really wanted Caroline to move from nursing to cow's milk with no stops or deviations in between. I also don't want to be miserable for the next 4 months either, so it is now a work in progress which may or may not involve a new pump and most certainly involves set pumping times at work no matter who calls or what is going on.

In a word

Disaster.

The speaker called at 4:15 to say he was in Providence (a long long way away) when he was due to arrive at our door between 4 and 4:30. Saying we had to stall is the understatment of the year. We dragged out our informational section, then flip flopped dinner to occur before his performace, then were forced to bring out dessert and coffee knowing that we could potentially lose part of scared of the dark crowd once they had eaten cookies and stolen all the sweet and low at their tables. He finally pulled into the parking lot just before 6pm and went on AFTER he changed his clothes.

Disaster.

As if this was not enough, I then got a phone call at 11pm from the hotel stating that he never showed. Subsequent calls came in at 11:30 and nearly midnight, when they finally cancelled his reservation; the one he specifically requested at the very last minute, the one that I was forced to plunk down my own card for because apparently no one has ever requested a room before and people just stared at me blankly as my 4:30 deadline kept rolling closer and closer. Yeah. It was not pretty. The silver lining friends is that in my frenzy to book the room at precisely 4:28 pm, the number I gave them was incorrect, thank the memory gods on this one, and they were not able to charge the card. I don't even want to think about the headache I would have this morning if they had... or better said, Steve's headache.

Disaster.

In the midst of the insanity that was yesterday I was unable to pump as much as I usually would. My mind was other places and it just wasn't happening. Steve did a great job with Caroline and when I got home she literally fell asleep two seconds into her meal at 7:30. Nice to see you too. I missed her terribly.

What have I learned from this experience? Ask me Monday when I am thinking more clearly.

Right now I am off to a Local Health Fair. How did I learn I was expected to attend said fair? The director asked me this morning when I was planning on going. My answer. A blank stare. It's just been that kind of week. I am picking the baby up early today. I am much in need of some giggles and smiles.

It's ok Bubaloo, Daddy will be there

Tonight is my first official "event" here at work. We booked a humorist/motivational speaker from Boston to come for the evening and entertain our seniors and caregivers. We are hoping that the program will be an opportunity for them to laugh and also to hear someone speak about overcoming obstacles. Our speaker lost a leg to osteosarcoma at the age of 12 (that's a bone cancer) and despite this, he exudes life. We are calling the program, "Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn." Here's hoping he is as fabulous as we fully expect him to be.

So saying things have been a bit insane this week is quite an understatement. What was I thinking scheduling the christening to occur the weekend before this event? ha ha - dumb dumb dumb!!!

In the middle of last week when I emailed to confirm and ask about last minute details I never heard back from my contact. On Sunday night as I sat awake with my sleepless daughter, I was struck suddenly with the realization that this event had not been confirmed and OH MY GOD what was I going to do??? Eventually all was confirmed, but I have been in a tailspin since, organizing cookie trays for dessert, calling in the dinner order, taking last minute ticket requests, table settings, arranging a hotel room for the speaker, sending directions, discovering that there are not any volunteers available to help out since they are all on the Big E bus trip also happening today. Can we just discuss how much that angers me? The Big E trip has been planned for MONTHS and MONTHS and yet this was the date handed down from the higher ups. I am quite certain that we would have nearly twice as many people attending tonight if the events were not both happening on the same day, really really annoying. So we have nearly 70 people coming, which from what I have been told is a great number, especially since it is getting dark early these days. (Don't laugh, the seniors really are quite fearful of driving at night!) Can we also discuss how maybe my first event should not be the biggest one I will do all year? I don't know the protocol people, I don't know where to find tablecloths and I certainly have no idea how many people a wrap platter will feed. YIKES!!! I am muddling through...

I wish I had a great story about Caroline to share, but in light of my insanity this week at work, I don't. She isn't quite crawling, she didn't say her first word, she is smiling a lot though and this I owe to Steve who not only has provided support (mostly emotional) to me, but has also been so hands on this week, playing with blocks, cuddling, and even reading books. He totally stepped up and without him I would be an absolute basket case. I don't think he gives himself enough credit or realizes what an amazing Dad Caroline has. Steve might have to ask what her dinner is tonight (nectarines and cereal), what time she will need to eat (when she is hungry), or what to do in the off chance that I am held up later than I expect to be (give her a bath and play), but he asks these questions NOT because he doesn't know the answers, but because he understands how sad I am that I cannot be with them tonight and how important it is to me that we stick to her evening routine. He is more than capable of caring for her and without his help tonight I don't know what I would have done. So while I have no story about Caroline, there is a sweet one happening tonight at our house, where Caroline's Dad gets some really special one-on-one time with his baby girl aka Bub/Bubsyboo/Bubaloo. I am quite certain that despite my absence, our house will be filled with her baby giggles and squeals and that makes this all ok. Thanks Babe.

Quentinesque

Let's give this a little Quentin Tarantino Reservoir Dogs feel and start at the end...

It was 8:15AM on Monday. Caroline was just waking up next to me, playing with her little bear. I could barely open my eyes to say goodbye to Steve, but I might have mentioned that he owed me one.

...

Caroline had a big day on Sunday and we fully expected her to conk out early and sleep right on through. She feel asleep with ease just after 8pm and appeared to be down for the count, but we kept hearing this loud stuffy nosed snoring on the monitor. Not long after she was in bed, we sleepily marched up the stairs to find some rest for ourselves too. It seemed like the moment our feet hit the floorboards of the little landing outside her door, she woke up.

We had to use the terrible "snoot sucker" (that blue snot sucker they send you home from the hospital with) and Caroline was not all too delighted, but her nose was clearer. I tried and failied at putting her back to sleep, she pretty much just kept sucking on my arm, so we decided to feed her again. We figured it had been a long day, she missed a meal and could probably use a little extra comfort too.

Snack did the trick, she was out again.

It was the good kind of sleep, with her head back and mouth open, but when I tried to get her back into her crib she woke with a start as soon as her head hit the mattress. There was more cuddling, more soothing, same head back mouth open routine, with the same result. Sleep was elusive. So I held her, rocked her, checked my email, read boston.com, tried again... no dice. At 3AM, after hours of alternating between holding, soothing, sleeping, waking, crying, shhing, I said screw it and cuddled up with her in bed, where she slept soundly until 6:00. I was nodding off holding her and we were at least safer in bed than standing. Caroline had a little breakfast and passed right out again until 8AM.

Steve was there all dressed for work, telling me to go back to sleep, but how could I she was up for the day. I handed her the little bear and rolled over blinking my eyes open, straining to see the clock.

Now that I think of it, I most certainly did tell him he owed me. I knew he had to work on Monday while I was technically though not entirely off so why not spare one of us? I wish I could have napped when she did, but I had to come into the office to do some last minute planning for an event happening Wednesday.

There you have it, your little Quentinesque backwards story.

Christened she be

It was a beautiful day for a christening.

Caroline fell asleep about 2 minutes into the ceremony, out cold with her arm across her face. She slept through all the anointing and even the actual baptismal fountain. While we circled up to renew our own baptisms she began to snore, and not just a cute little snore, oh no, it was more like a stuffy truck driver snore - no offense big rig drivers. It made the moment a bit lighter as we all fought back laughter, eventually giving in to a collective chuckle.

She looked like the picture of perfection in her borrowed baptismal gown, worn by three generations of Steve's family. What a special honor to wear such a cherished family heirloom! Thanks to Joanie for entrusting it to us for the afternoon!

Back at the homestead there was quite a crowd to celebrate the occasion. Saying we were overwhelmed by people's generosity, especially of their time spent driving so far for our little girl's blessed day is a huge understatement. Kiki and Nana got right to business in the kitchen getting appetizers and snacks set up, what would I have done without them? Thanks to them the crowd enjoyed some great salads and snacks and I had a pretty tidy house at the end of the day.

Caroline might not be able to recall this day in the years to come, but she is sure to hear about how we chose her godparents, how her parent's godparents were both there to see her baptism, how so many people drove so far to celebrate, how she wore a very special garment, how she slept through the whole thing, how she napped on all her grandparents, how her auntie made a surprise guest appearance, and how her parents, so overwhelmed by it all, kissed her goodnight, called her their most blessed gift, before collapsing in a heap to watch the Sox, Pats, and Emmys.

Baptismal woes

*disclaimer* commentary within this post is based solely upon my own opinion and is not meant in anyway to be offensive, rather please view it as our honest view of the situation

So when you are out with friends and having a good time and suddenly someone starts blubbering on about politics or religion, what happens? We all instinctively react, bells and whistles go off, and a voice can be heard in the background yelling, "abort! abort! abort!" RIGHT? So allow me a moment if you will, just one tiny little entry to express my sadness about the state of my church.

I have actually written and deleted this twice already. Instead of pounding out all the details enjoy this highlight list which I am hopeful will have the same overall effect as the two other entires I discarded with about half as much potential to offend.

... while technically Catholic, we admit to being less than regular participants in our faith
... selected church closest to home, office staff seemed nice and friendly, blessed Caroline who had an exorist type reaction to blessing - embarrassing? yes
... our hope, that I can attend Mass with Caroline and provide an opportunity for her to explore spirituality, challenge beliefs, make her own decisions about organized religion
... pre-baptismal class for Caroline's upcoming christening Tuesday night
... two other couples, Expecting Couple with 10 weeks to go (EC) and Welcome to the Club Couple with 7 week old Ella (WCC)
... Caroline, an angel for almost an hour of NINETY minute LECTURE
... Were prepared for a discussion (about our reasons for wanting to baptize Caroline, how we came to that decision, how our our faith influenced us to become parents, perhaps how we envisioned ourselves assisting in Caroline's spirital life).
... What actually happened - LECTURE for NINETY minutes - Topics covered apparently (and I say that because he was so difficult to follow!) included what is baptism? the crucifixion (?), and a nice dose of natural family planning ("I'm talking about contraception") tossed in for good measure

Can I just tangent here for a moment and ask WHY this discussion is necessary? Why must it be hammered home to people who are HAVING children???? Who are welcoming life into their homes??? I just don't get it. I am quite thankful that he did not bring along pamphlets (which he said he wished he had done) because it would have taken all the strength left in my body not to either refuse it outright or rip it up in front of him - thank you very much

...EC husband was purple because of the million degree heat and his ensemble choice of dress pants and long sleeve button down was piss poor
...EC wife was so uncomfortable after being seated in an crappy chair for NINETY minutes that she was contorting herself
...Their discomfort was obvious to our oblivious lecturer
...WCC parents alternated gently rocking baby Ella and staring at our Caroline for almost the entire lecture
... All three couples would glance at one another during various points of the neverending BABBLE asking each other with our eyes if this was making ANY sense to anyone else
...befuddled
...I am disappointed and think that both our families, and most especially our older relatives, would be disappointed too.
... the icing on the cake came at the conclusion of the lecture - the only dose of useful information - we need sponsorship forms for our chosen godparents or they will not be viewed as godparents in the eyes of the Church
... even if a person has been baptized, received communion, been confirmed, unless they can get proof from their church through a form signed by a priest that they attend mass (AND HAVE THOSE ENVELOPES SO THEY CAN GIVE MONEY TO THE CHURCH) they cannot be considered a godparent
... F That.
... why waste an opportunity to sprinkle on some good ol' catholic guilt, "oh you haven't been going to Mass, well then, sorry you cannot be a godparent. If you would only attend Mass, maybe then we will complete the form."
... Colleen's form - check
....Brett form??? Not likely.
...Do I care that the Church will not view him as Godfather? NOPE. Oh Church, you have me shaking in my boots, allow me to throw myself upon your mercy to grant him Godfather status! Ummm... not quite. He is her Godfather whether or not you agree and really your opinion matters not to me
... A quick call to my father that began with "are you sitting down?"
...Even when placed face to face with my father the parish secretary was still adamant that she did not think that the priest would sign the sponsorship form, which we later discovered is not required in MA. Why do the rules vary from state to state?
... enter offensive and rude statement rgarding monetary contributions to the church, which was her fatal error my friends
...mysterious call sharing that "form was ready to be picked up and please have Brett join a parish near his home" I knew Neil would get it done.
...So we have both forms and both our siblings will be recognized officially as Caroline's grandparents, but at what cost?

As absent Catholics, this whole situation has done nothing to encourage us to be more active participants in our faith. If anything it has pushed us further away from the church and on the eve of our daughter's baptism no less. At a time when we should be excited about this new beginning for Caroline, we are instead bitter, angry, and wondering why we are doing this. What a missed opportunity! Perhaps in hindsight this has forced us to really consider why we are baptizing her. Despite all the obstacles in our path - the NINETY minute LECTURE, the inappropriate statements about natural family planning, the sponsorship form fiasco, a reminder that it all comes down to the almighty dollar, we STILL feel that it is important for her to receive this sacrament and begin her spiritual life.

For those thinking, well what did she expect, she isn't an active Catholic, I say this. I have never pretended to be a devout Catholic, but I never would have expected to be treated so poorly by a Church so big on forgiveness. While other churches are opening their doors to Catholics unhappy with the state of the Church (and let's face it there is a lot to be unhappy about), why is the Catholic Church closing the doors on their own members?

101 in 1001

I am jumping on the 101 in 1001 train. The only way goals get accomplished is by making goals in the first place right? So instead of doing a 101 in 1001 for me, I did it for Caroline. You can see it there at the bottom of the blog, the 101 things I hope we can accomplish together in 1001 days. Nifty huh? Check 'em out, the whole list is down at the bottom of the page, where it will remain and be updated along the way. I had a great time writing the list and even more fun thinking about actually doing the things listed. It blows my mind that by the end date of this list Caroline will be nearly three and a half?!?! Remember Ferris? "Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." I don't want to miss any of it.My favorites from the list are:

Catch snowflakes on our tongues
so much fun and they end up on your lashes too
Go Sledding
Brett and I spent quality time doing this together over and over and over
Put the tree topper on
my favorite because I got hoisted to the top of the tree by my Dad
Get a piece of mail delivered to her
thrilling to any kid!
Teach her how to say her last name
It will be cute to see her learn this
Show her my pointe shoes
what ballerina doesn't want to show her shoes to a little girl?
Martha's Vineyard
a special place
Pierce ears
if for no other reason than she won't get mistaken for a boy anymore =)
Fancy Tea
we might need hats
Give her a brother or sister
We aren't in a rush on this, but the bond we have with our own siblings is so strong, despite the distance between us. We love them so much and want her to be able to have that same connection to another person.

weekend in review

A little catch-up today.

Despite the ridiculous heat on Saturday, Fall is upon us! What does Fall mean? In our house there is only one thing - Football. This year Fall will also include leaf wrangling, which ought to be pure comedy and will more than likely result in at least one totally adorable Caro in leaf pile photo opp. I am already anticipating the leaves interference with the primary objective of fall weekends - Football.

Caroline attended her second BC football game in as many weeks on Saturday. She was all decked out in her little SuperFan onesie (photos in Picasa link!) having a great time under the tent, GREAT idea Kiki!!! When we got to our seats, the sun was beating down and in less than 10 minutes she was asleep, but I got really getting concerned because I had never seen her quite so red. We later learned that it was 126 degrees on the turf at kick-off, is that even possible?? I had brought both the Baby Bjorn and the Sling thinking that the sling might keep her legs and arms more covered and out of the sun. The catch 22 of sun and babies is that in order to keep them cool you dress them in as little as possible, but then you must cover them to keep them out of the sun. The sling did a really good job of keeping her covered, but she was still really hot, so I took her down below to cool her off. I applied an ice cold compress to her neck and face and found a cool spot to hang out until some part of the stadium was shaded.

We met a mom and her 7 month-old daughter Sophia doing the same thing we were. She saw me walking towards Conte Forum for relief and called me over to stand with them because they had discovered a nice cool place to stand. I'm not sharing where, the spot was just THAT good and I am sure that in the cooler weather it will be a nice warm place to stand too! I could not tell you the mom's name, but she was nice and her baby was so cute.

While I was down there I heard quite a few comments from student passerby about bringing a baby out on such a hot day. Hi, I am standing right here and in your non-sober screaming everything you say state I CAN HEAR YOU! It was so rude. I was doing my best to keep her out of the sun and keep her cool and I was already quite nervous because of the beet redness, did I also really need your 18 year-old scrutiny too? ugh. Non-students and especially older people didn't make these comments, some of them even complimented my cold compress as a brilliant idea. I saw other moms in the ladies room with their young ones reach into their bags to retrieve cloth diapers for an icy compress too, remarking "good idea." We do what we need to do. No one expected it to be THAT hot.

Caroline woke up and at halftime we all headed over to Kik's and Poppa's seats to watch the game in the shade. She was fabulous for the entire second half, loved the halftime show, and was happy as could be. What an absolute trooper, destined to be a football fan like her Dad!

We got to spend some time with the Choyfroccas in town for their engagement party, which was on Sunday. It was such a lovely party with delicious food and dangerous drinks. It was clear that both the couple and the groom-to-be's family are so happy and excited. In just a handful of months we will all be headed to Mexico for their wedding!

Poor Laurie had the joy of driving back with us. Caroline fell asleep for about an hour, but woke up and basically cried for the entire hour and a half from Sturbridge. I felt so bad for her, but worse for poor Laurie. We fed her, we played with her, we shook her seat gently. The only thing that semi-worked was when I contorted myself somehow so that I could stroke her little forehead gently combined with shhing and some soothing words. So sad. She was of course perfection the rest of the night and she did sleep like a champ, so really it wasn't so bad, but POOR LAURIE!!

We are gearing up for the christening this weekend. The McFam has to go to a pre-baptismal class tonight at the church. There is still a lot to do around the house to prepare and food to organize and on and on, but we are so excited for her special day and so pleasantly surprised by the number of guests we will be having. It humbles us that so many people would drive so far out of their way for this.

So there's your catch-up. phew.

that looks familiar

Let's lighten things up around here...

Caroline has a preferred method of sitting. It involves bending her right leg in toward her and extending her left straight out. When we first started trying to sit her up I would try to bend her left leg in to provide what I thought was a more sturdy base. Even then she would fight me to keep that leg out. Now she sits that way almost exclusively, though she often starts off with them both straight out. This position looks awfully familiar to me. She isn't pointing her toes, she isn't stretching to the side, but this is how she likes to sit... I cannot help but entertain the possibility that she might want be a dancer someday, of course all while playing lacrosse and hockey...ahem






at what cost?

I just did a very stupid thing.

There is a great free program at our town library for Moms and babies. Many of the Moms from my groupsigned up to attend, but the class is on Thursdays only and thus Caroline and I are unable to attend... together.

A couple of the Moms suggested that I stop by since I literally work just next door. So I set my little calendar to remind me and at 11 off I went to say hello. I was a little late and the class had already begun, so I watched for several minutes through a doorway at the Moms and babies sitting in a circle, singing silly songs, before I had to walk away. Why I tortured myself, I do not know?

I just wrote a long and wordy response on this very topic and was feeling quite at peace with what I wrote and then WHAM!

I don't know if I can put it into words, but it was sort of like being on the old Rotorooter at Riverside/Six Flags and I was not in anyway prepared for it. Honestly, I thought it would be a good chance to connect in some way with the Moms that I am attempting to maintain relationships with. It is hard without the support group on Wednesdays! The singing about Allie crawling, Ellen kicking her legs, the twins blinking their eyes, Finn touching his nose, Gavin yawning... I realized that the wide eyes and smile I had pasted on just moments ago to say "hey, I missed you guys and your babies are getting so big!" now said "oh my god, keep smiling or you will lose it." I booked it out of there and decided I would come back after class. How else could I explain my sudden departure?

So I left and went back to my office. I did muster up the courage to head back to the library when the group was ending and the Moms and babies were making there way out of the room. I prepared myself. When I am with these Moms Caroline is always with me and our babies interact and play and here I was just oggling their tikes and asking how they were and it just felt strange. One mother asked me where Caroline was - hello???? Another chimed in protectively, "Caroline is at school where she gets to have fun all day and not just for an hour like us," before offering a supportive wink which I was so grateful for.

My objective was to reconnect with the Moms and I did that, but at what price? I have since been clicking through Picasa all afternoon. I hope that WE will get to walk on Friday with a couple of them to make the torture somehow worthwhile.

party of one - grocery hell

Following the long weekend and knowing that we are again headed north this weekend for the BC/NC State game and the Choyfrocca engagement soire we haven't done a real shop at the grocery store this week. It seemed kind of silly to stock up for three measly dinners and who are we kidding, there is always quite a selection in the snack drawer. So with Steve on pick-up duty, I braved the grocery store after work yesterday to pick up a few items for that unbelievable chicken pot pie. (marc, have you tried it yet?? I want a full report!)

I say braved because WHO KNEW it would be a 30-minute excursion? I breezed through the store picking up a premade chicken (love those!), some veggies, bisquits, and made my way to the check out area to find that the self-check express lines were 5 people deep. Seemed a bit odd, so I thought maybe I would try a regular line. I am seriously NOT kidding there were TWO regular check-outs open and heinously long lines for both of them. I had arrived in grocery hell.

Me and my measly 10 items waited long enough to read half of People before self-checking ourselves through without incident. I hate that even on a normal non-grocery hell day my attempts to go through those self-check lines in an effort to save time nearly always include the item that mysteriously won't scan, requiring the "help needed for this item" message and the flashing number "idiot checking out here" signal. How inadequate do you feel when the employee has to come over and log-in, check your items, and assist you in swiping a barcode across the doo hicky? It always seems to happen to me, but thankfully not yesterday. The grocery Gods spared me.

Last week when I was at Shaws for Caroline's veggies an older woman was just standing with her cart near the self-check. As I approached she stated, "I never use those machines, they are just trying to put people out of work." "Ok Lady," I thought and smiled, but then as I searched for organic carrots on the produce look up menu I wondered if that was the case? I contemplated this some more while I waited in my five people deep line yesterday, realizing that there were at least six self-checks open. Is this the way we are headed? In a nearby town, they have a scanning device you put right onto your carriage. When you want to buy something you scan it in and then when you are done you bring you maching with you, the check out person completes the order, you pay, they help you bag and presto, you're all done. Women were using the canvas shopping bags, filling them as they shopped, scanning in their items, and whisking out of the store with ease. The only real benefit to standing in the real check out line is the bagging assistance and perhaps some small talk, but lately I end up tossing my stuff up on the belt as quickly as possible, swiping my card while the order is totalled, bagging the order myself with limited assistance from the checker, all while trying to keep up with the payment portion of the transaction (password, 0 cash back, Enter). I always leave feeling like I have been holding my breath for the whole check-out process. I feel the same when I self-check though, knowing that the person behind me is waiting while I fumble my way through the produce search menus and that blasted "help needed for this item" message.

After that excursion I hurried right on over to the packie and picked up a 6 of pumpkin ale. Lucky for us they didn't sell olives and the thought of returning to the store made my brain hurt or we would have had extra dirty Grey Goose martinis (a la Brendan) after the baby fell asleep last night. When the grocery store provides a reason to drink, clearly this is a sign of trouble right? =) In all honesty, we had been planning to have some wine, but after the day I had, beer just sounded better and what better beer than PUMPKIN beer... I love fall...

As for Caroline, her parents were so excited to see her yesterday afternoon that they played with her until she was almost too tuckered out to get through Green Eggs and Ham. Lately the book brings on instant sleepiness complete with thumb sucking, head turning, and eye rubbing. By the time she is halfway through with her last meal of the day she is practically asleep. Last night was no exception, she was out by 8:30 and slept until 6:30 this morning. The earlier she goes to sleep the later she sleeps in, how this works I do not know, but nor will I queston it because it is pretty darn fantastic. Pumpkin Ales were enjoyed, laundry done, kitchen cleaned... having our nights back makes us feel more human, though I still can't get through an entire Dateline or 48 Hours Mystery.

This kid is eating better than we are...

Caroline is eating up a storm! Kiki calls her a "little bird" because she literally opens her mouth when she spots the baby spoon. How long until she generalizes to our spoons? She is even eating avocado again since I started getting tricky and mixing it in with the banana that she loves oh so much. Tricky tricky mommy. I think we overdid it on the bananarama last week though, but that has since been remedied with a little help from our friends pear and apple. How can you not give the kid bananas though, she loves them!

So far we have introduced:
- sweet potato
- avocado
- peach
- nectarine
- banana
- butternut squash
- apple
- rice
- oatmeal

Just last night I created a nice batch of orange stain producing carrots. I am quite certain that the ice tray will never again be white. Keeping stock of the freezer door, which is devoted to the various food cubes, is becoming a bit of a challenge. She is eating more now, two cubes per meal instead of just one, so we are actually starting to work our way through the food more quickly. I want to offer her a variety of foods, use what we have before it hits its expiration, but also keep introducing new things each week. It sometimes feels like this and clothing management could be a full-time job. I will have to devise a little system to keep track of what she has been eating and provide an easy way to take stock of our supply before I hit the grocery store and forget to grab some sweet potatoes. According to my chart, she should be eating between 2 and 3 meals a day at this point and I am sure that shortly we will be back to a morning meal.

Last night Steve and I had steak, rice, and broccoli (with a yummy balsamic dressing that I make and crave all the time - 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 minced garlic clove, salt/pepper, balsamic, olive oil). It seemed like a pretty healthy meal to me. Caroline had some peaches and rice cereal for dinner. Then after dinner I prepared her little snack cup of butternut squash for school. Even later last night I pureed those organic carrots. I really am so glad that I have been able to make all her foods. It takes time and energy that I don't always have, but I know that she is getting just the good stuff and that makes it all worth it. WHY don't I pay as close attention to my own (and Steve's) health as I do hers? Do I consider us to be less important? Of course not! I mean, when was the last time I baked a butternut squash for myself? When I made it for her on Friday I tasted it and then proceeded to gobble down at least three huge spoons of it myself because it was so good, only to feel guilty that those three spoons were not going to be three little cubes for her later. I am sure that most parents feel this way from time to time about many things; how less important their own health, time, and rest are than their children's, but if I am buying the stupid squash for her, can I really not get a little more for us? I know that this will all become infinitely easier when she is eating more vegetables, but with all this energy and focus on good health, I really need to reach a little bit more and make room for us to be good to our bodies too.

That is why tonight I am making that chicken pot pie again, sooo delish and sooo good for us too! Except for the the heavy cream, but c'mon, it's dairy isn't it????

The very special out of the way beach

It was a busy holiday weekend for the McFamily as we headed north to the beach on Friday afternoon. We were fortunate to get a head start on the traffic by leaving early in the afternoon and Caroline slept all the way until the Natick rest area.

GO EAGLES!

The whole fam was up and at 'em early Saturday morning to prepare for the BC home opener against Wake Forest. Caroline was a bit overwhelmed at first, but who wouldn't be!?! After a snack and some butternut squash she seemed to calm down a bit. Kiki and Poppa saved the day with the jogging stroller which allowed us to give her a place to just be and also assisted us in navigating the crowds to visit Grandpa and the Class of 2000 crew. We crossed our fingers before heading in that we wouldn't need her ticket and that she would get through the game ok. The ticket remained safely tucked away in Steve's pocket, phew, and no mention of my tote bag either, double phew.

I didn't have high expectations, I knew that it was a very good possibility that I would be spend the game walking and shhing and checking out the trophy case in Conte, but she was a super star!! After we arrived in our seats (in our new section P with Peter, Linda, and Jeff) she conked out for the entire first quarter and half of the second. I took her down into the tunnel to get out of the sun and to beat her to the punch with her lunch. Not a peep! We tucked ourselves up into the corner of Conte and after her lunch we met up with Steve to visit Kiki, Poppa, and Auntie K during halftime. The game was getting to be really long, but our Caro pulled through the ENTIRE game, only getting a bit talkative at the very end. People around us didn't seem to mind the Ahhhhhhhhing. She slept the entire way back to the beach and then only woke up briefly for her last meal before heading off to dreamland again. SUPER STAR!!! Oh and BC won!

Another Summer...

We relished our "last day of summer" on the beach Sunday and Caroline took one of her trademark beach stroller naps under the sunshade. There is always a bit of sadness at the end of another summer season, but as I sat there on that beautiful beach I couldn't help but think not of how sad I was that summer is coming to an end, but how happy I was that we had created so many memories for our little family this summer at the beach, despite the distance.

Steve and I want Caroline to value family the same way we do and we made special efforts this summer to plan visits with both sets of grandparents, with great grandparents, and made trips to the beach and to Western MA to ensure that from the very beginning of her life she knows how important and special time with family really is.

And the beach... we love the beach. Steve loves the away-from-it-all feeling he gets by being there, not necessarily sitting in the sand or in the sun of course. I love the smell in the air, the mist of the ocean, and the sense of peace that only sitting on the beach can bring. Caroline has been visiting the beach for quite some time now and we hope that we have already started to pass along our love of the beach to her, and not just any old beach either, but this very special out of the way beach. All summer we have spent beach walks watching children playing in the sand and surf and wondering how old is that one? Will Caroline be doing that next summer? This summer was for introductions, next summer she is going to ROCK the beach, I just know it. It just seems to keep getting better and better all the time.

Seven Months Old

I can hardly believe it, but Caroline is Seven Months Old today. I flipped her First Year Calendar to her Eighth month last night when we got home from the long weekend. I will have to start a new photo album and pose her with the bear tonight!

So what new things is she doing?


... Sitting up on her own without support for LONG periods of time, barely toppling at all these days and usually only when she decides she wants to lay down =)
... Moving from sitting to belly
... Squirming to reach toys out of reach
... Using a blanket to pull out of reach toys towards her or pulling the blanket to reveal her new favorite thing to touch - CARPETING!
... TALKING - she is super vocal and makes raspberries all the time
... Cuddling - this is my favorite - screw all the milestone stuff - there is nothing like having her lay her head on your shoulder or sit on your lap resting against your chest
... Bringing two toys together in a clapping motion - if they make noise even better
... Splashing during bath time and protesting every single time we take her out of the tub - she loves it now - remember in the beginning?

And a note about today... just because...

Caroline woke up this morning at 6:15 and was such a good girl that I was able to shower. I usually shower the night before on days I am going to take her to school, but lately we have been trying it out and so far so good. I didn't exactly eat a full breakfast, but a SHOWER...

She fell asleep holding the car bear in the car. When I brought her in and dropped off the check in the office I caught the eye of "evil child care provider" who quickly looked away. Perhaps just my presence during her comment and my shocked head shake was enough after all? She completely avoided my on my walk up to T-5. You know when you look up and realize that someone has been watching you? On my way out I looked up to and there she was quickly looking away, moving from the wall as I passed by. Who knew the power of the head shake??

I put Caroline on the rug in her classroom seated across from a little boy I had never seen before who was just a bit older than she is. Michelle told me he is a "neighbor" from T-6. Caroline squealed and broke out into a huge smile seeing him and he did the same thing. So I left her quite content on the rug with a friend this morning, sitting up all strong, and smiling with her left thumb headed toward her mouth.