Holiday Happenings

The car was jam packed in the driveway with care and an ontime departure was in the air.

We managed to pull out onto the roads ontime last Friday afternoon headed for MA and all our various holiday happenings. How Steve packed everything in the car, I will never know. How he packed everything back into the car PLUS nearly all the extra treats we received seems almost magical!

It would be nearly impossible to review our family Christmas in a traditional post here. So please enjoy these "highlights."

... a baby who senses an impending wave of adoring family and decides to takes a little snooze is quite possibly the most phenomenal thing ever

... Uncle Hokie's purchase of false eyelashes was the most glamorous part of our holiday

... Christmas Eve mass with an 11 month old went surprisingly well, with just one outburst secondary to a gas bubble from downing her bottle in about .5 seconds. She was entertainment for the entire congregation and when she was not clapping her hands or saying ahda, she was smiling and flirting with one and all.

... Caroline enjoyed opening and sharing various gifts at Joanie's with Nolan and Declan though we pushed it a bit far. Our eye rubbing baby girl had fast forwarded to way past being ready for bed in the two minute drive home.

... As an extra special Christmas gift to us, Caroline woke up at 1am. Though we would normally let her cry a bit and cross our fingers that she would roll over, suck her thumb, and get herself back to sleep, I doubt that her aunties and grands would have appreciated the middle of the night wake up call. We tried to coax her back to sleep, but after a big burp she was up and 'atem until about 3am. We played downstairs with her new train and when I finally got her back down in the pack n play she blessed us with exactly 20 minutes of sleep before waking up again. Steve took the next shift and she conked out about an hour later with him. I think we are still trying to catch up on sleep from that night and I wish I was kidding.

... Despite her early Christmas gift to us, she was adorable on Christmas morning what with the excitement of paper, boxes, and gifts.

... Though we were organized and out the door on time to head back to Western MA, we missed Uncle Brett. We had been hoping that he would be able to stay in Western MA until 1pm, but he had to leave around 10, so we were passing ships on the Pike. We hope to see him really soon so he can see for himself how much Caroline loves her walker/rider and Learning Puppy.

... There was an odd air of stranger anxiety on Christmas Day at my uncle's. It had been an overwhelming weekend full of both new and familiar faces and an entire room of smiling foreign faces was a bit much, though she warmed up as the day went on. She was especially fond on her Great Uncle Rob whom she seemed to constantly be looking for.

... Caroline enjoyed her Christmas dinner at the table and ate her weight in Pirate's Booty and Cheerios while Granda/Grandfather challenged one and all to a mini pastry eat off.

... December 26th we were homebound after breakfast and we did in fact practically collapse into a pile of holiday cheer. Said pile has only been put away as of yesterday afternoon.

... Miss Michelle was there to welcome Caroline back to school on Thursday. After a careful warning that she had been partaking in holiday cheer in various places with a variety of adoring family, we kissed her goodbye and were off for our very own date day. Breakfast, some shopping, a movie, lunch, and grocery shopping sans babe was perfect. We missed her, but the day was a great opportunity for us to decompress from the holiday too.

... Friday the alarm went off at ten to 6 and we were a tazmanian devil like whirlwind of activity to get out the door to make our 7:10 train. Parking was confusing and we were kicking ourselves for not scoping out the day parking arrangements the day before. Caroline was AMAZING on the train, looking out the windows, eating Cheerios, having breakfast, flirting with commuters.

... So what did we do in the city? We made our way to Rockefeller Center of course and though we had expected her to go kookoo for the tree, she instead was fascinated by the skaters. Then it was a short walk to the Today Show and she made her second appearance on camera, this time complete with a brief interview with Hoda. How did Hoda get to us? Well, the cameraman spied her pink boots and directed Hoda to check them out too and poof there we were sharing Caroline with the world... again.


Big Happenings while we've been gone that you might be interested in:

There was a rite of passage ear piercing, a forgetful Mommy who left the cup at home necessitating some straw drinking which she loved and now loves, and this morning we entered the bright and dark exciting world of turning the light switch "on" & "off."


Sundry's Annual End of the Year Recap

auntie k - you know me so well. I cannot resist participating, especially during a year that brought such enormous change to our lives.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

Had a Caro!


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't usually make resolutions. I never seem to stick to them.


3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Besides ourselves there were several other moms whom we have become close with that had babies in 2007, does that count? My family welcomed a new cousin Rhea and Steve's welcomed Abigail and Maeve. It was a year for women apparently and 2008 seems to be all boys on the way!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Robert Pirelli

Amazingly when I was placing that link I saw a comment I had never seen before and for the life of me I cannot place the commenter. I cannot view emails on this system... so Laura, if you read this - comment again with a way to contact you...

5. What countries did you visit?

Didn't leave US soil this year, but we are Mexico bound in Feb 08 for the Choyfrocca affair.



6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?


A tan and my pre 07 abs.


7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

1.27.07 - Caroline's Due Date
2.4.07 - Caroline's Birthday
7.3.07 - Third of July - Tradition
7.5.07 - Sox game with the McFam
7.10.07 - First day back to work
8.25.07 - Robbie's Funeral


8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Caroline was definitely our biggest achievement, but personally and just for me, my biggest accomplishment was getting back to work and balancing my work and home life.

9. What was your biggest failure?

As a Mom, I think I always fear that I am failing. Losing touch with Brett has to be the biggest suckdom of my year. Hopefully we will right that soon.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Cold here or there, but nothing serious thankfully, though I did have that horrible puffy eye that sort of just corrected itself after a day and some ice.


11. What was the best thing you bought?

Patent, buckled, black flats


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Steve's.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Bush


14. Where did most of your money go?

My own income went mostly to Caroline's school and our combined income went to the house.


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?


When Caroline smiled


16. What song will always remind you of 2007?

Isn't she lovely


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? HAPPIER!
b) thinner or fatter? Infinitely THINNER
c) richer or poorer? Richer in the way that matters most


18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More time with Steve


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worried about the baby breathing, being warm enough, being too hot, eating enough, eating too much, drinking, not drinking enough...


20. How did you spend Christmas?

With both sides of our family in MA


21. Did you fall in love in 2007?

More that I ever thought possible


22. What was your favorite TV program?

How I met your mother and the Amazing Race, it's a tie


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, I don't think I can really truly hate someone


24. What was the best book you read?

The Glass Castle


25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Lullabye U2 - thanks auntie k


26. What did you want and get?

A healthy baby and diamond earrings!


27. What did you want and not get?

Sleep - didn't get ENOUGH - though relative to other new parents we really can't complain


28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Juno - go see it!


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

29 (HA! my answer to question 29 is 29!)
We can't recall - isn't that sad?


30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having had Steve home with us for my entire leave - with his full salary and benes of course


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

The incredible shrinking woman


32. What kept you sane?

Steve


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I sadly am still enjoying the train wreck that is Britney


34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Iraq


35. Who did you miss?

Tasha


36. Who was the best new person you met?

Denise and Ellen


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.

Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.


38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Her face is a map of the world Is a map of the world
You can see she's a beautiful girl She's a beautiful girl
And everything around her is a silver pool of light
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it
It makes you calm
She holds you captivated in her palm

Suddenly I see This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see Why the hell it means so much to me

I feel like walking the world Like walking the world
You can hear she's a beautiful girl She's a beautiful girl

She fills up every corner like she's born in black and white
Makes you feel warmer when you're trying to remember
What you heard She likes to leave you hanging on her word

Suddenly I see This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see Why the hell it means so much to me

And she's taller than most
And she's looking at me
I can see her eyes looking from a page in a magazine
Oh she makes me feel like I could be a tower
A big strong tower
She got the power to be
The power to give
The power to see

Suddenly I see This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see Why the hell it means so much to me

In Caroline's Santa Bag

Ahh Christmas, the season of giving.

We went round and round on Christmas for Caroline this year. She is old enough that she is aware of all the fun things in the season like holiday decorations & lights, but is way WAY too young to really understand it. Thanks to Kiki and Poppa she is reading "The Night Before Christmas" every night as her bedtime story.

We are of course looking forward to this special first holiday with our baby girl! So as her parents and her official Santa, we have been debating what to get her to open. We decided that a few smaller things would be best since we will be traveling AND let's face it, she really will be more thrilled with the boxes than the contents. So we saved up empty boxes and wrapped a few of those up too. =)

SIDEBAR
We had a mini opening session last night with a gift from my boss and Miss Michelle from school and she was all over the place. The paper was distracting, the toys were overwhelming to her, and she did not know what to do, but had a great time. Nice little preview for us.

I for one am excited to be able to officially retire some of the younger toys and make room for new bigger girl toys that will stimulate and engage her more. I have been holding off (and it has been so hard!) because of Christmas. Many of the toys she plays with hardly hold her attention these days, what with the availability of a piano, a Daddy to climb, and a coffee table to explore. We wanted to keep it to about $75 which we thought would be easy, but really isn't because as a first time parent you just want to SPOIL her so badly. That 75 bucks was also meant to cover some much needed pjs from the Children's Place and a cute little comfy outfit.

Here is what else Miss Caroline will find under the tree from Santa for her First Christmas.

The Put and Peek Birdhouse

It's made by the same people who made the Winkle, which she still enjoys from time to time. The birds are so cute and I think she will really like putting them in and taking them out because that seems to be her new favorite thing. I cannot tell you how entertaining a laundry basket is to a baby her age. "Look Mommy's PJ Pants Out, Look Mommy's PJ Pants In, Look Mommy's PJ Pants Out, Look Mommy's PJ Pants In, and on and on and ON"

Baby's First Blocks

Ok, she should have had these about 3 months ago, but there is sorting and putting in and dumping out, all which will be very exciting I am sure. I caved and already gave these to her because we were way overdue for some of her toys to be retired. So I gave her JUST THIS ONE. =) She was so excited about the PACKAGING that she played with the box all the way home from Target in the car. It seems like a very easy take along toy and just as I had hoped it holds her attention for more than a micro second. She actually surprised us by knowing how to sort a bit on her own. Thank you Sara and Michelle.

Fridge Farm

She was ohhing and squealing in the store over this one. It is for a baby a little bit older than she is, but I need something in the kitchen to entertain her while I am cooking and she is already into the fridge and pulling off magnets etc.

Baby Beach Band

Umm, seriously, how cute is this. Caroline enjoys banging on boxes with wooden spoons and playing her piano with gusto. She would LOVE this.

VTECH Dial Discover Phone

I caved. She loved Christian's phone so much! Caroline makes a beeline for the remotes and our cellphones. I know this will not stop her fascination with all things electrical, but I am hopeful that having her very own will prevent us from having to remove the batteries or constantly hit EXIT EXIT EXIT on our TV remote.

Children's Place Stretchies

We LOVE these stretchies for bedtime. They fit snugly so her feet stay in the right leg and they zip on and off with ease. We got her 5 pair, 3 for now and 2 for under the tree. She's likely to wear these for quite awhile now that she is officially wearing some 12 months stuff!!!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I love this book. I got it in a small size and I am sure that she will enjoy learning numbers by flipping through. A classic.

Hallmark Keepsake Ornament for her stocking

A family tradition continues. Each year we looked forward to what new keepsake ornament we would have to remember the year by. When I was away at Disney and missed Christmas with my family, my mother found a Mickey ornament for me, while I purchased ornaments from the countries around Epcot for her. We both wanted to remember 1998 and the holiday when I was away from home. I want to continue that tradition for Caroline. Someday she will leave home, just as I did, with a box of keepsakes for her own tree. I hope she enjoys remembering all the years past as I do.

What is on your list for the little ones in your life???

The holiday home stretch

We're pulling into the home stretch here. The shopping is done, the packages wrapped, the bags aren't quite packed, but we are getting there. We know what Caroline is bringing, isn't that enough =)

Today is my last day of work before the holiday and I won't be returning until after the New Year! Remarkably, Steve is also off next week, so I am really REALLY looking forward to reconnecting with him and reflecting on our first holiday with Caroline and our first holiday in our new home. What a whirlwind year it has been...

I have a presentation this morning, "Coping with Loss at the Holidays." I don't have many people signed up for it, but it was advertised in the paper and I am expecting some walk- ins. Writing the presentation was a bit tough because this time of year, no matter how merry and jolly the season, makes me think of my grandfather Charlie and now my grandfather Bob. This will be my grandmother's first Christmas without her partner and I feel so fortunate that we will be able to spend some time with her on the actual holiday to hopefully brighten her spirits and provide whatever support she needs.

I'm Still Standing
Caroline continues to spend more time completely vertical. Last night she was literally jumping on the couch looking at the photos we have in our bay window, squealing and pointing, and did I mention jumping! This morning as I ate my breakfast in the family room with the Today Show, she stood next to me and picked her own cheerios off the couch cushion. Then when they were "all gone!" turned completely around and grabbed onto the coffee table for support before flinging milk all over with my cereal spoon. Who is this little person?!?

New Routine
In case you didn't notice, I ate breakfast today. With the Today Show. Sitting on the couch. Not a banana in the car on the way to work!?!? I woke up 30 minutes early this morning and showered, dried my hair, and applied tinted moisturizer & mascara ALL before the little miss opened her eyes. So when I walked downstairs to pack her school bag and get my lunch together it was 7:30, leaving 15 blissful minutes to enjoy my own Honey Nut Cheerio and OJ breakfast. I think it is official that the night before showers are over. I feel too awake and CLEAN today to pass it up. Let's not forget how satisfyingly filling those Honey Nut Cheerios are either. WOW!

Tour De Christmas

Tonite - packing, packing, and did I mention PACKING.

Steve and I are exchanging a couple gifts; the ones that are too large to bring with us. It just doesn't make sense to bring that snowblower with us you know... he wishes =)

Friday - Leaving in the afternoon for MA

Seeing as how there is no snow in the forecast, we won't have to beg the neighbor teen to shovel and this makes me smile.

Saturday - The big McFamily holiday get together

There will be over 60 McSomethings, their sig others all gathered together. We are excited to see family and for Caroline to sit on Santa's lap for the very first time! After considering a mall santa photo, I thought it would be more special for that all important first Santa experience to be with Bim, our fabulous resident Santa. Photos to follow I am sure.

Sunday - Hanging with the rents and aunties (Uncle Hokie?)

I have never seen such calm people preparing for such an enormous party and they deserve this day after party destress day before Xmas eve and day. It will be relaxing and I am sure there will be some form of sports to watch on tv.

Christmas - "Did Santa come?"

We will spend the early morning and breakfast with Steve's fam. I am sure we will all be entertained by watching a particularly adorable little girl named Caroline's face when we walk downstairs and ask her if Santa came. It will be fun to see her rip paper off boxes. There is sure to be squealing and pointing. I CANNOT wait! I love embracing the gifting of the holiday. I tend to go overboard and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. After breakfast we'll say our goodbyes and it's off to the West to see my parents (and hopefully my brother). We'll spend some time as a family before we head to my Aunt & Uncle's just over the CT border for dinner.

Wednesday - Home Jeeves!

We'll head home in the morning and I am sure collapse into a pile of holiday cheer and promptly take a nap. Though Caroline will likely have slept the whole way and may not be down with the idea of nap because hello people you got me NEW TOYS that MAKE NOISE for Christmas. Lord have mercy on our ears, we did it to ourselves.

Wondering what will be under the tree for Caroline this year? See a post on Friday about her holiday gifts!

Thursday - Date Day

Caroline will go to school (we're paying for the week, I don't feel bad!) while her parents go to lunch AND a movie. (What movie should we see???!!!!)

Friday - NYC, weather permitting, starring the Rockefeller Center Tree

Eagles fan, don't despair, we already have the train schedule mapped out so we will be back at home for the kick off of the BC Bowl game.

NYE - baby-friendly New Years Eve Open House and a champagne toast at 8pm. HA!

We are hosting and we aren't sure what kind of interest there will be, but we will be happy to celebrate with one or 20 couples and babies. Maybe other parents have the where with all to get out of the house and go to a romantic dinner? To them I say - how?

Hannah and the Mitten

Caroline and I got stuck behind a school bus this morning, so when we arrived at her center the room was already quite full of children. As we walked in the gate, I climbed over two children and had to explain to little Jack who pointed furiously at a bowl of candy on a shelf that he would need to ask Sara or Michelle if he could have a piece. This displeased him greatly resulting in some pouting, but the girls handled it swiftly redirecting him to a table of art supplies.

I put Caroline down on the carpet and sent her off towards the bookshelf when I caught sight of Hannah's right hand. Yesterday when I dropped her off, there had been a sock on her hand and today it was still there. I asked the girls, "hey, what's with Hannah's mitten?" At first they pointedly ignored me, privacy issues I am sure. Undeterred and sensing something juicy, I asked again. Their answer, "she burned herself on the stove." My jaw hit the ground. Sara went on, "it's pretty nasty actually, but she seems to be doing really well with it and leaving it alone."

I know that children Hannah's age (just over a year) are curious and inquisitive and often touch things that they should not, but the stove? I won't pretend that there are not times when a particularly clingy Caroline needs to be in your arms whilst you stir the rice or flip the pork chops you are searing, but I am so paranoid that I only do it under the most extreme cases of clinginess and even then take particular measures to assure her safety. I know that given the chance those perfect little fingers of hers would reach out and get burned.

I don't care what good friends Caroline and Hannah might become, there ain't no way no how that there will ever EVER be an out of school playdate between the two. School will just have to be enough because OH MY GOD.

Cruising into Christmas

I wanted to post yesterday, really I did... but a sniffly clingy little Caroline kept me from typing with more than one hand and really I am just not dedicated to do more online than check my email and upload photos with one hand. You got your pictures... and now you'll get more than a mouthful =)

School
I found out this morning when I dropped Caroline off at school that her center closed last Thursday at 1pm and that some parents had difficulty getting up the hill to the parking lot and had to park at the bottom and walk their children back down. HOW DANGEROUS!! I definitely feel like I made the right decision to keep her with me as we were together and safe & sound at home by 2:30, though we did have to pay for the day, but safety has no price right?

What does have a price is our holiday gifts for Caroline's caregivers.

We opted to go with Visa Gift Checks for the girls, cards with a sweet thankful note, and a letter of commendation which I will also send to the directors and the CEO to be placed in their files and hopefully utilized during their annual performance reviews. (Thanks Sundry for that idea, she's right! The best gift I could give them is better pay!)

Mr. Eric will get a DD gift card.

Lounge Lizards
The McFamily had a nice relaxing weekend at home together before the craziness of this weekend warms up.

Steve got home on Friday mid morning and went into work for a bit. Caroline and I headed to swimming (just one class left this session!? Should we do it again?) and then did some errands. We completed our holiday shopping later that night and WATCHED A MOVIE =) As Netlfix fans, it had been way too long since we opened a bottle of wine and plunked ourselves in front of a good flick. Blood Diamond made me cover my eyes and shake my head. Like many other women, I wear a diamond engagement ring and more recently pretty diamond studs. I know that my holiday gift from Steve this year is an "upgrade" of said studs. There is just no way to tell for sure that a diamond is not a conflict diamond and my stomach lurches a bit wondering if someone may have paid their life for these pretty stones I wear on my finger and in my ears, or what deadly weapons the sale of these stones may have purchased.

There was some serious lounging in the house on Sunday. Caroline literally went from one pair of pjs to the bath to another pair of pjs. Save for shoveling, it was lounge wear and jammies for all of us all day. We were spared down here compared to the reports we got from the north when they were shoveling out of more than 10 inches. Our precipitation was mostly freezing rain and sleet, which made shoveling an absolute bear. SO heavy and LOTS of ice chopping.

Veggies, you have met your match and her name is applesauce
More changes in Miss Caro's dinner time routine. We feed her the more challenging part of her meal, the veggies, before we sit down. She seems to be more open to them when she has your complete undivided attention and before she has access to the fun finger foods. She is tolerating the thicker chunkier Earth's Best meals much better now than even last week it seems, though I often add in a healthy spoonful of applesauce to make it a bit more appealing to her.

I made Chicken Corn Chowder (recipe below) this weekend and pureed some for her before adding the cream and bacon, but I think the part I chunkified was "too chickeny" so she wasn't a big fan, but I am hopeful that she will be doing chunky table food before we know it. I think if I had used more stock, just one piece of chicken and the veggies instead it would have been better. Lord knows it will taste better than the jars right?

Support this
Yesterday I had my support group, which I decided as of February will be moving to a day that I normally work for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that it is on my day off. I don't feel like it is a quality day with Caroline when I have to come in because all my running around and time with Caroline is structured on getting to work and getting her there is a decent mood. Not to mention that my 90 minute support group often stretches from just after 1 until 4pm, which is practically a half day people. So we're done with that game, just two more Monday sessions.

Cruising
After dinner clean up, Steve was supervising end of the night playtime and Caroline was climbing him like she always does. He said she stood for a few moments without holding onto him! Steve was laid out on the floor, a Daddy jungle gym. I went and sat at the end of Steve's legs, while she stood up by his face and when she saw me, she CRUISED over to me. To assure that this was not a fluke I moved up by his head and poof she cruised over to me again. (Cruising is sort of like walking, but is done by holding oneself up against something for balance while moving, in this case Steve.) She is, in a word, AMAZING.

"Operation Bury the Bottle" Kicks Off
Later I'll tell you all about the new cups I got her for the transition from bottle to cup. Sara and Michelle helped out a lot with this and I am hopeful that she will start drinking her milk from a cup lickity split. It is unreal to think that in just over a month she will be done with nursing and we'll be buying whole milk for her?!? I am pretty proud of where I am with all this. I have embraced this most special time with her and though I am sure it will be sad and challenging, it is just another sign in what feels like a sea of reminders that our baby girl is moving into toddlerhood faster than we even know.

Step one, a reversal of milk and book at bedtime. Lately she has been falling asleep a few times a week while nursing and though it is so much easier, it is not a path we want to go down. Stay tuned as we work to retire her bottles and move onto sippys.

Chicken Corn Chowder
Recipe from Nana Cindy
written from memory

5 slices of bacon sliced (we just make that small package with 10 slices or so because we tend to nibble on it while the rest of the meal cooks)
3-4 chicken breasts, cubed 1" pieces
1 onion chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
3 potatoes chunked
1 bag of frozen corn (recipe calls for 1/2 to be pureed, which I seldom do for time's sake)
1 large can of chicken stock (48 oz)
8-10 oz water
1 cup heavy cream
s/p to taste

Slice bacon into inch slices and brown in large soup pot
Remove to bowl to drain (we put it in a bowl with a paper towel and the nibbling commences)
Add chicken, onion, and celery to pan
When chicken is browned and onion clear add potatoes, corn, stock, water
Bring to boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
Add cream and bacon, cook for 5 more minutes
S/P to taste
Serve!


Unplanned third night away

Steve left Albany this afternoon just after noontime. When I spoke to him at nearly 3pm to inform him that Caroline and I had arrived safely home he was still in the Berkshires. Caroline fell asleep, I attempted to shovel because the snow was shifting to an icy mix and by the time I was shaking off my gloves and peeling off my boots he called again to let me know he was just arriving in the Springfield area.

He was tired, he could hardly see out of his windshield because it kept freezing, and he was more than 3 hours into a ride that should already have been over. Like a beacon of hope, I looked at my missed calls and saw that my mother had also phoned while I was out swinging my shovel. It was her early day at work and she would surely be home! A quick confirmation call and I was back on the horn with Steve who was mere moments from pulling off the highway and finding a hotel for the night.

Getting off the road seemed more important and much safer than getting home, so he was off to my parents' house for the remainder of the storm, which ended up being overnight, which was so incredibly wonderful. At least we thought he was headed there, turns out he was heading north and had some considerable ground to make up. Poor Steve.

I talked him through the rest of his ride, offering whatever support I could. He finally understands my fear of hills in the snow. He got stuck trying to go up, went around to the other side, still couldn't make it and ended up parking in a neighbors driveway until the plows came by to create a bit more traction for him. He did eventually make it up and into the driveway, but he didn't actually arrive until nearly 5 pm. When we were looking at houses he laughed when I would make comments about the incline of the street or the driveway. NOW HE KNOWS WHY =)

Turns out stopping was the very best thing he could have done because they completely closed the highway and he was getting messages from his team telling him that they were stuck on the highway being diverted off slowly. If he had not stopped he would have been in that mess too.

He will start back south again first thing in the morning and with any luck he'll be here before Caroline's breakfast.

We didn't plan on this last night, but we should have seen it coming. Staples is 4 for 4 with winter weather related madness during a conference. Unfortunately for Steve and his team, they were not sipping drinks in Vegas or on South Beach this time around. People, get your tickets now and get yourself someplace sunny for the conference in March. I know I won't be hanging around.

OH, and poor Caroline. I think she has had it with her mother and is ready for her Daddy to come home. Mommy makes her eat her green beans and doesn't sit with her in a way that enables her to execute her climbing skills in quite the same way Daddy does.

Day Two Minus Steve

Yesterday also went pretty well, despite the fact that we missed Steve so much.

There was no nap at all on the ride home from school, though she did go down for a big 2 hour nap for Sara and Michelle. So she was wide awake from the moment we got home, which was challenging, but ended up being OK.

Caroline ate just about everything I offered her last night, included some steamed broccoli that she couldn't quite figure out how to chew and swallow. I was so impressed! I guess maybe she is finally past the point of being SO over purees and not quite ready for chunkier foods? HOORAH

She fell asleep before 8 and slept until almost 7.

This morning we woke up to a world reacting to the news of the pending snowstorm. All our area schools preemptively closed for the day and though Caroline's center is open, they were encouraging people who could keep the kids at home to do so. This is because the snow is expected this morning and will make the afternoon commute ridiculous. Not to mention that her school is up a winding hill that makes me knees shake. I had the go ahead from my boss to bring her in and I decided to exercise that option. That way I can stay as long as I can here, email myself some work, and spend the rest of the day weathering out the storm safely at home with Caroline.

Steve is another story I am afraid. He is due to come home this afternoon, during the height of the storm, and he will be traveling through some pretty rough weather to get here. There was some talk of the conference ending early, but the latest reports suggest that may or may not happen. The interior of the state is due to get up to ten inches and we are on the line between six and ten, but either way we are sure to get freezing rain, which will make it all the more exciting. I almost think it would be better for him to try to stay up there and come back in the morning, but I know Steve, and I don't think he will consider that.

We made a stop on our way in this morning to pick up another shovel and some ice melt and I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to park my car in the garage without the assistance of someone telling me which way to turn the wheel and how far to pull in.

Caroline's first real storm...

Get home safe Steve...

Day One sans Steve

Day One without Steve went ok. Jen how do you do it???

Caroline slept in the car on the way home from school per her usual routine. The twist was that because yesterday was Tuesday and her first day back at school, she slept for a mere 30 minutes all day. Her "ride home nap" got extended until after 6 pm! When she stirred, I picked her up from her seat and she collapsed into me and snuggled up to continue her snooze somewhat awake.

Kiki and Poppa & Nana and Granda both called to offer support and adult conversation, which I was quite thankful for.

I took advantage of her extended nap to get dinner going and we were able to eat together without much fuss. She finished all the peas, rice, and apples that I offered, only swatting my hand away at the very end. Dinner cleanup was pretty easy too, though she was desperate to get out of the highchair and crawl around. I was darn desperate too since I knew she had a lot of energy to burn off before the Four Bs of Bedtime (bath, books, bottle, and bed).

Burn off she did. I walked out to the kitchen for about 30 seconds to refill my water glass and noted the suspicious silence that is usually filled with "why did you leave" complaints. Upon my return, I saw that my daughter had finally mastered the tv stand door. Not only had she opened it, but she also retrieved a basket of toys and was busying herself with removing them one by one. When your daughter opens a forbidden door what else is there to do but get the camera right?

Caroline went to sleep without incident. We read "Twas the Night Before Christmas," she rubbed my hands gently, and she was up in her crib by 8:30. I had some trouble falling asleep all by my lonesome.

I set the alarm a bit earlier and got up to get things going before she woke up. I finally went to get her just before 7 and we had a pretty seamless morning. While I got dressed she busied herself with standing up against the cedar chest in our bedroom banging an envelope on it repeatedly and screeching happily. Though we were about 15 minutes late for school, I won't complain. I was just thrilled that we got there without much whining, from either of us.

She has also developed a new way of saying she doesn't want to go in her car seat. She arches her back and locks her legs. Willful I tell you =) It was hard not to chuckle when she locked her knees this morning. I love her spirit...

Tonight should be a bit easier I hope, so long as the naps fall into line the way they usually do on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Steve, we miss you!! There are lots of photos to see in Picasa so you won't feel like you are missing a single second.

We miss Daddy!

He's only been away since this morning, but we already miss Daddy...


I couldn't decide between the otherwise amused Caroline or the sad tearful Caroline... Each photos sends an entirely different message, but I think that Steve will understand that she is both blissfully unaware and yet totally bummed out at the same time that he is away this week. The second one looks kind of like an S.O.S. doesn't it? The way she is holding and those sad sad tears... poor Caro...
We miss you Daddy!


Wish granted!

Big news!

I just got word that a grant proposal we submitted in October was accepted!

I have a shiny new project to begin in the new year AND I will either be working more hours or work the same hours with a pay increase! hmmm which would you choose? =)

I am very excited about the new project which will hopefully identify families in town that have children/teens and an adult child caregiver and provide targeted support services to assist them in coping with the challenge of caring for an aging family member.

woo hoo!!!

First Step?

Despite the ice storm on Friday afternoon, we still made it out to get our Christmas tree. There are some photos of the tree and trimming in the Picasa link. Just as we suspected, Caroline loves the tree. I have spent some time with her each day standing by the tree, touching the branches, telling her the story of one of the ornaments, and she points and ohhs and ahhs. It's adorable. I have a silly Snoopy ornament that I made when I was really young. It is made of two Styrofoam cups and though it has survived over 25 holiday seasons, it took her about 2 seconds to rip it in half. My father and I just looked at her in disbelief for a few seconds and then just like any good Dad would, he put it back together for me. Catastrophe averted. phew.

Speaking of Dad/Granda, he made a special trip down to spend the day with us on Saturday to see Caroline and supervise the installation of our brand new front door. It has already made such a dramatic change in our heat. We now longer shiver as we go by and it is now impossible for me to sweep dirt out the door without opening it first. Scary right? We think the door was original to the house, but what sounds better for resale? "original front door, what charm!" or "brand new efficient steel door, think of the savings and security!"Special thanks to Nana and Granda for not only suggesting we do this, but for financially supporting operation "new front door" from beginning to end. WOW! Thanks!!! Want to check it out? The photos of the new door are also in the picasa link. The door is made by jeldwen - a style called mission prairie.

Caroline enjoyed some special time with Granda, but she missed Nana who was in NYC on her own mission; finding diamond earrings with a friend. She was also successful, but she missed seeing the baby. You'll see her soon Nana, don't worry.

We also got to see Paul and Erica this weekend at Erica's surprise 30th birthday celebration. We miss them and we hope that we will be able to reconnect again soon! They are expecting their first baby in July and while mom to be looks great, she isn't feeling so wonderful. So feel better soon thoughts headed your way Erica. =) Next year this time, our babies will be getting together and playing?!?

So what's new with Caroline? We feel like she is changing everyday now! She went for her ear recheck and the ear infections both cleared up! HOORAH! While I was waiting for the doc I put her on the baby scale and fully clothed she was 18 pounds 7 oz. I was taken aback looking at the size of her on the tiny baby scale and I instantly flashed back to those first visits when the scale was so huge and she looked so teeny on it. Time has flown and I think she might be in another period of rapid growth because not only is she gaining weight and getting taller, but she is also learning so much. She crawls all over now and her favorite thing to do is to crawl to you from another room, say from the family room to the kitchen or the bedroom to the bathroom. She gets this big grin and huge eyes and makes her way over at an alarming speed. Mainly though what is most entertaining is climbing up on things. She stands at her piano (her most favorite toy!), pulls to standing on Daddy, scales the coffee table and couch and grabs remotes or toys or books off them to play with. Last night she climbed up Steve, stood up and turned to grab the coffee table. She tries to stand by herself and we think she tried her first tentative little step last night too. We stupidly have been encouraging this because she loves to "walk" while you hold her hands up and though you still have to move her a bit, she gets it. We are in trouble.

Steve is away for three days and two nights at a conference. We miss him already. He realized last night while watching Notes from the Underbelly that I have never been alone with Caroline for an overnight. There have been nights when he has been away, but I have always been with either my parents or his. Hurry home Daddy, but drive safely in that snow and ice they are forecasting for Thursday!

OH! I almost forgot! Lest you all worry and anxiously await holiday photos - Caroline DOES in fact have a LONG sleeve lace trimmed black onesie to wear under her pretty dress. =)

Now if only Mommy could figure out her pretty Christmas outfit!

Video Catch-up

Some recent videos:

Caroline "playing catch" with her big baseball.



Caroline's Make-Up Swim Class this weekend. Steve got to come along and shoot some video and take some photos for us. She had a blast.



Caroline waving to Daddy/the camera during her swim class.

Bye Bye Daddy

This morning when Steve dropped Caroline off at school he waved to her and she waved back. Sara (I just learned that there is indeed no h, whoops) was so impressed that she asked him to wave again, but this particular trick apparently fell into the "I only do that once" category.

BUT HOW SWEET!

Her pretty little Christmas dress arrived yesterday via UPS and we couldn't help but try it on. We aren't spoiling anything by posting photos of her wearing it I hope? She loved the skirt and at one time pulled it up almost over her head. Crawling in a skirt was a bit challenging, but when you have a pretty velvet bow on your tush no one notices the crawling handicaps, right? So check out her 10 month photos with the bear and the Christmas dress and also the naked baby photos too. What is with her tongue?

She has this new thing where she is like Gene Simmons, sticking her pointy little tongue out constantly. It isn't hard to capture on film because she seems to always be doing it. It is almost more difficult to get a non-tongue photo.

When I arrived home yesterday afternoon something seemed amiss with the house. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was something not quite the same. When I opened the storm door it hit me literally in the nose. A beautiful holiday wreath was hanging up with a big red bow and the smell and prickly evergreen branches delighted my senses. Who could have put this here I thought ripping open the card glancing from left to right?

Our realtor, the one who worked with us for months and months and months, had left it for us.
How nice is that???

Now I am seriously DYING to get the holiday tree!! We need some more Christmas Spirit around here. Besides, Caroline needs something else to point at.

double digits???

Now back to the fun stuff...

Caroline is ten months old tomorrow. Just typing that stopped my fingers in their tracks.

How is it possible that ten months could go so quickly and be filled with so much joy? It feels like just yesterday that her tiny little fingers held mine for the first time and yet it feels like an eternity away. Our house is filled with her high pitched baby babble and screeching. My ears now recognize the slapping of her hands on the floor as she crawls so I can tell if she is en route or on the run. She understands no. She stops dead in her tracks, looks up at you, and then attempts to do whatever off limits thing she was trying to do again. She is a pointer too, pointing out street lights, light switch plates, leaves, pictures, and pretty much everything ALL accompanied by a little inquisitive sigh of delight. Caroline is strong, willful, smiley, and the bestest "little bubba" on the planet.

She had an exciting weekend. We were up in MA and Caroline got to spend some QT with her Mommy and Kiki on Friday running errands and shopping "The Collection." Kiki had already scouted out the best part of the new wing; the Nordstrom Mother's Room!! Steve and I went to the BC/BU hockey game on Friday night and then headed down to the beach to meet up with Kiki, Poppa, and Auntie k. I doubt it is coincidence that she is more accepting of veggies now that her ears are getting better. Poor Baby. Kiki had some success with STRAIGHT CARROTS on Friday night and since then meals have been easier and more nutritious. Saturday morning we had a delish family breakfast down the road and then we were off to the Cape to officially celebrate the Albenny engagement and mourn the BC loss to VT. Uncle Hokie - we love you, but GO KANSAS!!! =) Caroline got to visit with Marc, Kelly, Sean, Courtney, Christina, Christian AND got a kiss and hug from Baby Christian. It was just too cold to go to the parade on Sunday so we headed back mid morning and had some snow on the way home. Winter has since made her big appearance in the Northeast, but we were spared most of the storm, save some heavy winds.

Life from here to New Year's is sure to be pretty koo koo, but no Colleen, the end of a post a day does not mean I will stop writing.

The Curtain

This post has taken me awhile to sort out in my head.

Auntie k and I were up WAY past my bedtime on Friday night chatting about blogging, or to be more specific, a particular blog we both read. Without getting into all the details of our discussion, the crux of it is that we wonder about the real life happening behind the blog.

This blog is like a marquee for our life:

"McCashew starring Caroline with guest appearances by Kerri and Steve, special guests stars Kiki, Nana, Poppa, Granda, Auntie k, Auntie C, Uncle Hokie, the Sucktaculars, the good neighbors, swim friends, Ryan, and Hannah. In this episode: The girl stands alone!"

The blog is the curtain, behind which the rest of our real life exists. Our real life is where we make dinner and eat together as a family at the table, where Caroline has a bath and the rest of the night is left for Steve and I to fill in with Patriots games, glasses of wines, how I met your mother, couch cuddling, knitting (that's a Kerri only activity), texting with our secret lovers (that's a Steve only activity), kitty petting, US Weekly and Money reading. The curtain is thick and blocks out the parts of our life that are just for us; the Tuesday mornings that are THANK GOD getting easier which used to force me to skip breakfast and snap at even the cat, the pick-up drop off negotiations, the 30 or more amazing minutes a morning we spend in bed with Caroline after her breakfast, the eye rolling when we disagree or mostly when I become super dramatic Kerri, the medicine giving (which I totally forgot until this moment, AH!). That is just the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg kept safely and neatly behind that nice thick red (in my head it's red) curtain.

That brings me back to the real life happening behind this particular blog. It is a real life that does not seem to exist outside of the blog. There does not seem to be a curtain. There does not seem to be any topic off limits and while I imagine that might be quite freeing, there are just some things that seem like they would be better off kept private. On more than one occasion I have seen this blog used as a weapon against the writer's spouse and not necessarily in a just joking kind of way. This writer scarily seems to require the support of her readers to cope with life. She seems to need strangers to compliment her, to fulfill her. She on many occasions committed her own cardinal blogging sin and left the readers with a cliff hanger somewhere in her post. As auntie k said, it is all so transparent. I cannot help but wonder if there is actually anything more in her life happening behind her written words.

I will admit that I am at times a bit resentful that McCashew serves as a way for people to keep up with what the McFamily is up to. I am sad that people can just log on and see what is happening in our life and that they don't follow through and get in touch. There are some people who do! I have gotten a few emails that read, "I was just catching up on McCashew and.... so here's what we've been up to." I don't think I get enough of those emails.

There might not be more happening behind that other blog's curtain, but there is a whole heck of a lot more happening here.

Something that has been cooking for awhile now behind the curtain that I can now share with the world is that Steve has accepted a new and exciting opportunity within his company. He will be away from us a bit more than we are used to, but Caroline and I are going to work it out! We will have a practice week of mommy only drop offs next week when Steve is away for business. Now he has the great challenge of turning another team around and a whole new side of his industry to master. I know he will be as successful in this position as he was in his previous one, if not more so! So instead of just reading about this monumental change in our life and closing your browser, if you know us in real life, how about that follow-up email? =)

CONGRATULATIONS STEVE!!!!
No one deserves it more than you do!