Howdy Nashville

Hello there NYC

And so...

the McFam packed their bags, closed the shades just far enough that it looks like they are home, and set off on a New Year’s adventure.

Steve and Caroline dropped me off at work this morning and are now at home snuggled up watching Shrek (Caroline’s choice!). They’ll be back to pick me up around 11:30 and we are off to MA to drop off our precious cargo for her two-night stay at Chateau Nana & Granda.

We’ve placed by the door directions for an executor of our estate and for Caroline’s guardianship. It’s the first time we are traveling sans Caro since her arrival and the first time we will be gone for more than one night. One would THINK that we would have put together our thoughts on an executor and guardianship prior to her being 23 months old, but hey, better late than never. It is just such an incredibly morbid and terrible thing to consider! If something did happen that prevented us from seeing Caroline grow up or that the case was that only one of us was able to… well see I have to stop right there because it is difficult not to be reduced to a puddle of tears when imagining THOSE particular scenarios. Now that we have had to imagine the unthinkable and get in on paper, we have plans to put together a more formal Will when we return.

Adulthood really stinks sometimes. Imagining that Will leads me down the road of not being here and I think we all know how I feel about that. I get anxious and sweaty and then become completely overwhelmed at the thought in about 5 seconds. Breathe….

So we are off to Nashville to ring in the New Year and watch the Eagles run those Commodores off their own home field. I am very much looking forward to the incessant clicking in my head that I just discovered is actually from Steve’s CONSTANT texting to Marc to cease and desist. Just in case I get to missing my daughter, particularly on the flight when I am sure to be nervous (though not nearly as much as my traveling partner) I tucked one of her soft blankets in my carry on “personal item.” A. I am a freezing cold person. B. Nothing helps soothe those missing that smiling face blues like a little bit of her in your lap. C. It was better than stealing one of her favs like monkey or Abby and a bit more discreet

If you happen to be off or so bored at work that you are pulling your own hair out by the fistfuls be sure to listen/watch the game.

How's Caroline? What is this blog supposed to be about her???

SHE'S AMAZING! She's putting short sentences together. I painted her nails yesterday and she LOVED that (she said I painted them yellow, but they were pink I swear!). She loved it so much she wanted to paint mine too, so I chose clear and let her go to town. She placed my hand on a tissue and pointed her finger at me "No Move." HA! When I tried to help her "My turn." She cried when it was all over - "NAILS!"

She also loves our bed and hangs out up by the pillows under the blankets any chance she gets. She snuggles all up on her side and closes her eyes until the urge to play peekaboo takes over. Then she says "Where's Caroline? There she is!"

If I thought she was a parrot before I was totally and utterly WRONG. Each word we utter, every picture I point to and name, she is right there saying it back to us. Yesterday on the way to the bank we saw the Metro as we went under the tracks. I told her that the choo choo had just driven right over us and she was so excited. This morning when we drove under the tracks on the way to my office she exclaimed, "CHOO CHOO!" from the back seat. She is surprising us each day now with words and comprehension- even if she does keep saying "Santa Coming. Cookies." If I were 23 months old, I am not sure I would be accepting that Santa already came either.

Please keep my friend Natalie in your thoughts. She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her baby due any day now!!!!

Where to start?

We’ve been really enjoying our unplugged (if you don’t count college football, the iPhone, or catching up on perez) between holiday break. Although I am at work for a half day today, it feels like I have been home for weeks. It has been such a treat to have Steve home and to be together for the entire day. It has been lazy. It has been snack-filled. It has been wonderful.

This post could be the largest I’ve ever written if I detailed all the goings on, but instead I think I’ll just let the photos of the holiday speak for themselves. We really enjoyed spending time with both sides of our family and Caroline is so excited about all her new diversions that she doesn’t know what to do first when she wakes up in the morning. She is incredibly fortunate and clearly loved so much by so many.

I’m just running around trying to capture all the fun on video, “film,” but mostly with my heart.

Steve is home with Caroline this morning and then we’ll be packing up for our little football getaway. We’re planning on driving her up to Nana and Granda’s early Tuesday afternoon before we hitch our flight to Nashville later in the day. We’ll be back to celebrate the onset of 2009 before noon on January 1 and I suspect that after we pick her up post flight we’ll be pretty pooped. We’re looking forward to it, especially with all the enticing texts coming north from Marc & Kelly who are already soaking in the Nashville sights.

Not promising, but I suspect there might be a couple on the fly updates here.

Santa came!

cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

I am working a half-day today while Steve enjoys a little alone time at home with Caroline. She was in good spirits when I left and I hope that continues until I can make my way home around noontime. It is raining and icy down here. I suspect the seniors will stay home if possible as today’s weather represents their own brand of kryptonite; the possibility of ice and RAIN.

Steve helped me out by handling the school pick-up yesterday. This permitted a grand tour de last minute shopping at the liquor store, CVS, and Big Y. Two bottles of red, two prescriptions, and two jars of jelly later, I headed home to a very worn out Daddy and a temperamental toddler. In between excited squeals declaring it a Christmas Miracle that I was able to find both the red pepper jelly AND the pineapple preserves, Caroline was on her worst behavior; swatting hands away, whining, shouting "NO!" when offered any distraction. She was tired and hungry and I can imagine that the day before the holiday break at school involved many treats and a whole lot of fun & excitement. It should! This is the most magical time of the year for little ones and I can certainly cope with a little 'tude if need be. It sort of comes with the territory doesn’t it? Steve was worn out too and ready to throw in the towel when I walked in the door. I asked Caro if she needed a break in her crib, "YES!" and she spent about 5 minutes solo in her room calming down before returning to pouring macaroni from one measuring cup to another. Turns out the kid was starving.

Steve asked me how often I put her into her crib. I was unsure if he was questioning how often I do it or implying that putting her in her crib is not a good solution to her behavior. Honestly, the answer is not very often. For me, this is the solution of last resort. I find that when she gets worked up and cops the constant whiny nothing is good enough attitude that she is really frustrated and just needs some time to calm herself in a confined safe location. The crib works. In the future I expect I will send her to her room, isn't it the same thing?

So the McFam is officially organized for the holiday. Last night I ironed the linens and folded the napkins. I made a list of all the things we can do ahead and I have a willing partner in Steve to help me this afternoon with a lot of the prep. So what is going to be on the McFam’s Holiday Table?

Mini hot dogs (Steve's most favorite, Caroline exclaimed "HOT DOGS" at the store)
Ina’s Pan Friend Onion Dip (my own personal favorite)
Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp (yum, yum, yum!)
Fire and Spice Ham (this is where those jellies come in)
Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (Kiki dee’s specialty)
Garlic Butter Mashed Potatoes (a spin on my hubby’s favorite)
Stewed Cinnamon Apples (ham and apples – yes, please!)
Sweet Potato Bisquits (Auntie K’s from Thanksgiving located in Wondertime Magazine)
Delicious mini pastries from the great white north (it might not really be Canada, but my father the French Canadian reports that it looks an awful lot like it with nearly two feet of snow on the ground!)

What will we be watching? Alternating The Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation of course – both on repeat throughout the day just because we can.

I’ve shared here that each night before bed after the books have been read we talk about Caroline’s day. She snuggles into me and tells me who she saw that day (Nickle!, Sara! Santa!) and sometimes what she did (Cookie!, Ariel!). Mostly I go through her day with her and remind her about the plans for the next day (school or home, who we will see, what we will do). Last night I snuggled her in close and explained that tomorrow (today) is Christmas Eve. “It’s the night that Santa travels across the whole world and brings special gifts to all the good girls and boys. So we’ll put out some cookies and milk (or maybe a beer) for Santa and some carrots for Rudolph and the reindeer before we go to bed. Won’t that be exciting?!?” It’s easy to get caught up in Santa and forget about the real meaning of Christmas, especially when there is an almost two-year-old in your house who barely understands Santa beyond recognizing him on lawns, in stores, and on TV. So this afternoon we are also attending Christmas mass. We missed the presentation of the Nativity which happened while we were gone last weekend, which would have been the best way to explain Christmas of all.

I am sad to admit that Caroline has been to church just once since her baptism. I took her myself and it was challenging and then it was summer and we were gone every weekend and then it was fall and it felt like we were gone every weekend and now that it is winter and while we have had a couple weekends home it just isn’t a part of our routine. Sigh. It is important to me to nurture Caroline's spirituality, to enable her to experience faith and religion. I am hopeful that when seen not as an obligation, but as an exploration that over the next decade she and I can "try on" some different beliefs and perhaps find a niche for ourselves. I have some ideas, but for right now and today we'll be keeping with the status quo and attending a Catholic service. I am sure it will be a memorable experience for us all. Here's hoping that the 4:00 mass is kid-friendly and also that Caroline will enjoy a bit of the real reason we celebrate and give gifts to the people we love.

Wishing everyone a safe and very happy Christmas.

(Photo courtesy of Auntie k)

Jellies procured.

I owe you a long one.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor never ending snowstorm was going to stop the McFam from making it to MA for the annual Family CHRISTMAS Party. (that was for you Papa!) Steve negotiated a non-working morning to travel with a fulfilled promise of an afternoon of conference calls and emails. We were able to take off as soon as the bags were loaded and the adults were showered. We cruised safely into town before the first flake fell (and left on Sunday before the last one).

I love that “coming home” feeling you get around the holidays. Auntie C and Auntie k both came straight from work and there is such a feeling of both electricity and contentment in the air; The excitement of the gathering and the well-rehearsed tasks of crabby and mini hot dog making/package wrapping.

We had to make a call to the pedi (OF COURSE) on Saturday morning for a constipated toddler. Thankfully we had Kiki there to give us a lesson and one Dulcolax and one nap later, let’s just say all was well.

Of course there was platter after platter of amazing foods, many lovely conversations, and a brimming cup of holiday cheer. Our little Santa lover was not too keen on sitting on Santa’s lap, but we tried it anyway with mixed results. I suspect the photo will be Caroline oozing off his knee in that toddler limp body escape maneuver, which I secretly think is FANTASTIC!

Another successful shindig McFam!

Sunday brought more snow and with it a tenuous attempt to ride back home. We stuck to the coast and went through all types of weather en route; light flakes, big beefy flakes, near white out conditions, pelting rain, ice, and then as we pulled into our driveway – sun. We had just one near miss the entire ride. An SUV ahead of us slipped and began to fishtail and we watched her in that horrible slow motion mind trick swerve back and forth for a good thirty seconds before she hit the lane barrier. Thinking it was over I finally stopped repeating “slow down, slow down, slow down.” But it wasn’t, she careened off the barrier and back to fish tailing only to find herself completely perpendicular to oncoming traffic. Even when it was finally over, I think I was saying “stop, stop, stop.” I then of course ask my husband to lower his window and ask her if she is ok, which seriously he couldn’t do, we were on 95, but still. I was worried about her.

From what we heard from locals here they got slammed pretty bad with major highways and routes closed down, people abandoning cars for the night, or taking ferries home before those too were finally shut off.

We are gearing up for Christmas. There are updated advent calendar photos along with a couple cute videos; “What happens when you give a toddler socks as a gift” and “Up, Down.” I flew through the grocery store yesterday morning picking up the supplies for the week and for Christmas dinner. I need some help locating red pepper jelly and pineapple preserves. Any ideas?

Today is Caroline’s one and only day of school this week. She was so proud to give Sara and Michelle their gifts. Tomorrow she will spend half the day at home with Daddy and I can’t decide who will be more excited about that. We are so lucky to have such an involved Daddy.

The excitement is building.

How oh how will be break it to her on December 26th that Santa won’t be back for an entire year????


We ventured down dulcolax drive, enjoyed festive holiday fun, and this
morning there was an "ohh shoes" when she opened a brand new pair of
high tops from auntie c. More later.

Sent from my iPhone

Beware, frequent blogging ahead

Christmas did indeed come early. I'm writing via iPhone. I sense many
posts and no more excuses for infrequent updates.

Sent from my iPhone

a dash of everything

I spend anywhere from 10 seconds to an excruciatingly irritating 10 minutes putting in my contacts each morning. Steve would say this is reason enough for me to go ahead and think more seriously about that crazy Lasik procedure. I say, no thank you… for now. My daughter on the other hand is quite an eagle eye. She can spot that little tiny baby immediately on the baby shampoo bottle and each morning when I flip my visor down to block the sun just before I turn into school’s driveway she exclaims “baby.” Yup, she spotted that “DANGER- Do not place infants in the front seat” air bag warning that depicts a baby in a carseat being squished by a deployed air bag with a big line through it. EAGLE EYE. I doubt my vision was ever that good, which bodes well for her to have a contact and Lasik-free future.

This morning I gave her a choice between Cheerios or Rice Krispies and she chose “kisspie.”

We realized earlier this week that when she gets home and sees Steve she details her entire day in little fragments.

“Santa” “Duck” “Cowor” “Mickey” “Cookie”

“I saw Santa all over town with Mom today.”
“When we were at Big Y, I got to ride in the Truck (car).”
“Mommy and I colored at my table, she drew Mickey heads.”
“I am ready for a cookie now.”

Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculously cute?!

Ok, Ok. Wow. Who knew neighborhood gossip would cause such a commotion? Yes Emily, it is INDEED Sucktacular related. I will try to be succinct here, because you all know how I can go on.

This past Sunday, just after cookie decorating I raced outside in my socks to put the trash out. No sooner than I hit the grass did our neighbors (with the injured child from the door incident) peek their heads over the fence, “Hey neighbor!” Here are the bulleted details…

… They had just three days earlier returned home from the hospital where they spent time between the ICU and recovering from several surgeries to repair the damage to their son’s leg
… the damage turned out to be MUCH worse than initially suspected. After they returned home immediately following the incident they were instructed to get their son up and walking around as soon as possible, but he was unable to, complaining of constant pain and she took him back to the hospital. When they snipped his stitches to examine the wound AN ARTERY popped out and they were apparently (and I am sorry for sharing this) slipping in his blood. According to Mom, if he had walked as they instructed and popped that stitch at home he would have likely bled out at home before they could have gotten to the ER. I know. Turns out that the glass not only cut through the muscle in his leg, but also an artery. Several surgeries later he is recovering, at home finally, but they suspect he might have drop foot either temporarily or permanently. He’s not back to school yet.
… I am still in my socks, feet FROZEN, but listening to every word
… The real gossip is that the night they returned home just so happened to be trash night in our little neighborhood and you know who had placed a large cardboard box of what the Dad called trash of “non domestic” variety for pick-up.
… Mom of injured boy investigates the box and discovers broken photo frames and a broken wooden broomstick among other things. Not sure why she felt she needed to investigate, one would think that the kids had learned their lesson and won’t be playing with other people’s trash right?
… Mrs. Sucktacular exits her house, looks over her trash and CALLS THE POLICE saying that her neighbor was harassing her by looking through her trash.
… Police come and talk to the trash looker, get the whole story, tell her to stay away from the trash, check out the box, and are on their merry way. Trash looker neighbor was aghast that Mrs. Sucktacular called the Police and only to then hop into her car to return convenientaly after the Police had left.
... My feet were so cold I had to keep running in place while sharing the deets with Steve.

Ann and I talked about this at great length last night and I tend to agree with her. These neighborhood kids are trouble. They hang out in front of people’s houses, spread garbage everywhere, beat on each other. I want to feel sympathetic for the injured kid, but he JUMPED through a pane of a door. You can’t really accidentally do that. I also understand that the Sucktaculars do have a pretty sucky situation in that they lack a driveway, garage or shed to put things like old doors in, but that is why God created the DUMP. Haul your own broken doors, chairs, discarded tables, and sofas. I think somehow we ended up on the good list of our next door neighbors because for the most part the kids don’t bother us, they always say hello, and wave to Caroline. I don’t know if it is our proximity to their Dad’s surveillance equipment or what, but I would like to remain on the good list particularly when my only hope for a clear driveway this weekend is their oldest son.

Wouldn’t you know a monster snowstorm set to bring 8-12 inches across the state is headed our way just in time for our ride north? Sillier still is that we’ll fight more mixed precipitation on the way back on Sunday. We are working on a plan of attack and watching the latest reports. I am going to throw myself on their doorstep and beg their oldest son to clear our walks and drive in our absence both because it needs to be done and HI, is there any clearer way to say “not home” than a foot of unshoveled snow in your driveway?

We also secured my parents for our trip to Nashville for the Music City Bowl. While I finished wrapping the packages and writing (and ok, rewriting if I am being honest) lists of things to do and pack Steve booked the whole shebang. We found a great flight option the night before and my parents are moving their schedules around to accommodate an early Caroline arrival. It will still be a quick trip, but waking up there on game day seems to make a lot more sense than our previous kookoo plan. It should be fun. Considering that my father asked to keep Caroline through until the 2nd of January before learning my mother had to work, I’d say they are pretty excited about that one-on-one time too. So tell me, exactly what does one wear out in the “honky tonk area” on New Year’s Eve?

Veggies and VandY

So I don't neglect to mention our little princess in this football related post... Guess who recently decided that she likes broccoli after all?!? Yup. All those things I read about just putting it on her plate even when I know she will either ignore it, spit it out, say "yuck," or even toss it towards me - they were RIGHT! Two nights in row we have had a veggie lover who reaches not just willy nilly, but PURPOSELY for her broccoli. There really is a Santa Claus!

Tonight we are hosting Ann from next door for a light supper of Matzo Ball Soup with a nice loaf of fresh bread. Yum. I have some neighborhood gossip to share with her (we are such busybodies) and it will be nice to have the company. The gossip is GOOD, but you will have to wait for that - can't spoil it for Ann!

I still have several gifts to wrap and packing to do for the weekend. The last couple nights have been mostly spent strategizing (through gritted teeth and crossed arms at times if I am being honest) a potential trip to Nashville for New Years to take in the BC VandY Music City Bowl Game. (That's right Steve, VANDY not Vanderbilt, VandY) Can we also talk about how UNJUST it is that Vanderbilt will get to play AT HOME in NASHVILLE?!!? ANYWAY. We have gone through countless scenarios, more than a few calls to my parents the likely Caroline sitters, and we have NOT arrived at a decision yet. It is just such a quick trip that we want to both maximize it and not spend a fortune on two days. I am hopeful that we are reaching the conclusion of these discussions. Mainly I was against taking a 5:45 AM flight the day of the game which also coincidentally is New Year's Eve. Something about 22 hours of potential awake time was just not sitting well with me. I know. Steve just wants to go to the game (with his girlfriend Marc) and my parents are excited at the prospect of two solo days with Caroline. It is a win win, so long as we don't exhaust ourselves completely from our little getaway. I think we are reaching a point of consensus and for that my packages, packing, and holiday hors douvres are very merry.

est and ing

Where to even start???

Let’s break it down into Funniest, Laziest, Cheeriest, and Gratifying.

Friday was definitely funniest with our first visit to Santa. Steve worked from home and we tried to get to the mall/north pole as early in the day as possible. Even though we were there well before five we still waited in a pretty long line. To pass the time we took turns pushing Caroline in her stroller for a better view of the big guy. We tried to engage her in watching the Santa Adorers and distract her from the Santa Scaredy Cats. In the end despite all the pointing and excitement there were tears and a death grip on Mommy’s arm. So I sat with her next to Santa at first in an attempt to calm her down and Santa asked (in his sweet southern accent) “Mama, why don’t you sit here and hold her for the picture?” “OK, Santa.” Even after it was all over she swatted his hand away as he held it up for a high five. 25 bucks later we have a photo, but not the one we wanted. I think we were actually hoping for an escape attempt/screaming photo for humor’s sake. Yes, I am going to hell. I totally forgot to upload the photo – stay tuned. We are hoping for a bit better Santa reception at the McFam Holiday Party this weekend.

Saturday=Lazy. We went grocery shopping. Steve and Caroline napped. We completed phase III of holiday cookies with the grand finale – decorating. After FAILED attempts for both previous phases I was nervous that the entire production would be filed under FAIL. At first our little artist plopped a single dollop of cookie icing on each one before announcing “New Cookie!” It was very cute. She really enjoyed it and we froze them to keep them for Christmas, but also to keep us from eating them all. I have lots of photos that Steve took, but I either need to upgrade my Picasa or erase some of the photos on the online albums. I have them all saved, is it time to do a clean out? OR should I just pay the $20 bucks and keep downloading to my heart’s content? (yes, I am asking you!)

Sunday was our cheeriest day with a visit to Nana & Granda’s house. There were yummy drinks, a delicious meal INCLUDING the fam holiday fav French Meat Pie. Caroline got to spend time with her Great Grandmother and Uncle Bub. Leaving their house on Sunday, it finally felt like Christmas. Sure we’ve had our tree up, the carols playing, the Santas on display. It just seems that there is no denying it now – the holidays are in full swing. Another friendly reminder is the pile of gifts still awaiting wrapping and organizing upstairs in the spare room. I successfully maneuvered Steve’s gift into hiding on Friday with Caroline and yesterday I managed to get it all wrapped up and ready.

The Head Elf Steve tells me that my gift from him will be arriving from the North Pole early. This started a silly conversation about how if I get it early I won’t have anything to open from him on Christmas morning. He assures me that this is not the case. Let us not forget that I already twittered I ruined Christmas. I already know what I am most likely receiving from Steve and to already know AND get it early seems well, a little sad doesn't it. I am PSYCHED about it - COMPLETELY psyched. Itching for it actually, but to not wait until Christmas? Let’s just say I see easier and more frequent blogging in my future.

We are already prepping for our trip to the previously mentioned McFam Holiday Soiree. There is lots to organize, outfits to plan, gifts to wrap, and appetizers to be considered. I think do to all my crazy preplanning I feel very calm overall about the holidays. There are just a couple remaining items on our holiday to do list and a holiday meal plan to finalize, but it all feels very manageable. There is something I never thought I would say - the holidays are manageable.

Thursday was gratifying when we got our surgery date for Caroline's tubes. How could I almost forget to mention that??? Thursday just feels like so long ago! January 6th. We'll hear on the 5th a more approximate time, but the joys of doing this at a Children's Hospital include priority being determined not just by surgery type but also age. Caroline is still under two years old, so the scheduler suspects she won't have to wait long to go in once we arrive. We are very much looking forward to getting this done. Things really do happen for a reason. If I was on the fence at all I jumped over to the other side after that rash showed up. Ha. I'll take things I never want to go through again for 500 Alex. We are cautiously optimistic at this point and hopeful that this concludes our trip through ear infection alley.

Staples is now 5 for 5

A year ago this week Steve was up in Albany, NY for a work meeting and we all experienced that terrible ice storm that stranded people on highways for hours and hours. Steve made his way to the Springfield area and thankfully was able to spend the night at my parents’ house. The major highways were CLOSED so there really was no way to get home even if he wanted to push through the storm. So wouldn’t you know it, today – the day he is supposed to hit the road in the early afternoon- we are experiencing another crazy storm. He reports that it is already snowing up there and while we have rain down here at home, he will need to travel through a sleety terrible mix. Who else votes for Staples to consider planning this meeting for late spring or summer??? We’re hoping he can take it nice and slow on the ride home, but assured him that if another night is necessary to keep him safe we will be ok. He just wants to be home and this time he has a colleague with him to help him wipe the windshield, so we suspect he’ll make it here at some point tonight.

As for us ladies hanging at home… we’ve gotten through. Each morning I was greeted with “My Da-dee?” and after we pulled on that day’s clothes we went to search for Daddy under the covers and behind the door and out the window when she would inevitably turn to me with her hands in that upturned confused way, “wheredhego?”

I had high hopes for cookie making, but next time I will just make the dough myself ahead of time. We used this recipe (using salted butter so we omitted the salt and per suggestions of commenters added almost a full TBL of vanilla). Even my skeptical Caroline couldn't get enough of licking the dough from the mixer paddle. My daughter is such an independent “Me do” kind of girl! She wanted to stir the flour and baking soda. She wanted to beat the egg. She wanted to “gradually add the flour to the mixer,” but I draw the line at doing it by the spoonful. We ended up with a time out not because she was being particularly naughty, but because she was so frustrated that I wouldn’t let her scrape the sides of the moving mixer and WHY couldn’t she add in more vanilla? Everything tastes better with more vanilla! Her frustration just kept compounding and she was a screaming teary mess… over holiday cookies. Ah the joys of the season. Time out was more of a chill out and it definitely calmed her down.

We halved the dough and wrapped it in wax paper for tonight’s rolling and cutting adventure without incident. I struggle with this. She wants to be my little helper and I want to provide opportunities for her to safely get involved. I put aside my clean gene and let her mix the flour so that it ends up everywhere and I actually do it with a smile. The fun of having her doing it with me means so much more than the recipe being perfect, BUT MAN, she is asserting herself. How dare I close the sugar up when she wasn’t done sampling it! What a witch I was for not letting her play with the cutting edge of the waxed paper!

We did have a nice tub and snuggle before bed watching “MICKEY!” This led to a two nights in a row easy bedtime. She kept getting up to put her fish soother on, but after the third go around she was out until 6:45. And just like that is Thriday.

If loving disco is wrong...

I don't want to be right.

The memories of my holiday youth are filled with this little ditty, which is neither little nor a ditty. In fact I daresay it is my most favorite holiday tune. Yup. Disco. Who knew.

I defy any of you who grew up in the 80s to say your parents did not in fact own this very popular vinyl LP.

I present the most marvelous holiday medley ever. I am so so looking forward to playing this on Christmas morning and all day long. In fact I am doubtful there will be a day between now and the new year that I don't play this entire CD. Dash over to itunes! Dad, you can SO synch your shiny new gadget on Christmas. Nice detective work!

The Salsoul Christmas Medley

So I validated her feelings

We successfully (and I use that term very loosely) made it through night one sans Da-dee. The lovely Ann from next door provided not only distraction but also very welcome adult companionship. I whipped up a quick batch of Chicken Corn Chowder and wouldn’t you know, the toddler tried it and then opted for a second container of yogurt. What can I say, her pronunciation was just too correct and she was genuinely excited to enjoy it. We set her up with Ariel in the family room while the grown ups finished eating and chatting. Sorry to add that poor Ann who just entered her third trimester (seriously how did that happen?!?) was getting a not so nice view of toddler tantrums complete with kicking and back arching. Ahhh, toddlerhood.

After we saw our guest out, I abandoned all hope of sugar cookie making because oh the whining. She fought me tooth and nail throughout her getting ready for bath regimen actually holding her sleeve on with both hands in an effort to dissuade me from pursuing the bath issue at all. While she screamed I selected her outfit for today and her pajamas and then firmly planted her in her “so warm and inviting I wanted to jump in too” tub. More tears and then the dreaded cry hiccups. Luckily as I headed upstairs with her to start the water I had a moment of genius and paused whatever was on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. We later found out it was “The Cat In the Hat” which = perfect. So while I dried her feet and attempted to force her whirling arms and legs into the appropriate appendage holes on her pjs I started telling her that tonight we would do something different and snuggle together for a bit while watching the special show. I even broke out the social work skillz and validated her feelings “I know that you miss Daddy and I understand how difficult it must be not to have him here with us. It makes Mommy sad too, but since it is just us girls let’s do something special.” Whatever I did, it worked. No sooner than her hair was combed was she snuggling her little body into me and pointing toward the inviting covers of our bed. So we watched our little show and I previewed tonight’s lineup; Mickey’s Christmas Carol (!!), Pooh and Friends (!!!) and THEN Here Comes Santa Claus (!!!!!!!) I DVR’d them all and I think we will spread them out over many nights, but talk about an ace in the hole! Post snuggling we returned to the living room and read two books by the glow of the twinkling tree lights. We talked about her day and I sang her a quiet song. I could feel that it was somehow different than the past rough nights we’ve been having. She settled right into her bed, sighed that contented sigh and I didn’t hear a peep from her until this morning. Thank God. It had been 5 nighs of hour plus crying. My poor girl must just need more time to calm herself before we plop her into bed and I am happy to oblige when it calls for cuddling, singing and being close.

TONIGHT we make the sugar cookie dough (I am STILL debating recipes!) and then post bath we’ll continue our new routine of snuggling together in bed with Mickey. If you hear shrieks of delight at about 7:45, don’t worry, it’s just us enjoying what is becoming a lovely family holiday tradition. Thank you ABC Family. Next year you might consider skipping the alarmingly frightening Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I heart Johnny Depp but this movie – disturbing! More Polar Express. More Mickey. More cute kiddy specials that I grew up on.

The Great Laptop Race

We waved “bye, bye” to Daddy from the front windows this morning. Caroline was all smiles blowing kisses until she realized he had driven away and she looked at me pleadingly “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I finally convinced her to join me in the kitchen where she swatted a milk filled dora cup away. She wanted the OTHER dora cup. A few tense “Sweet Jesus, please let this pass” moments brought perspective and a new attitude to us both. She hungrily ran to her chair for breakfast where she kicked over her cereal bowl spilling milk everywhere, but thankfully not on herself. Paper towels were retrieved, she helped me mop up the mess, and we repeated the getting into booster seat maneuver minus the Cheerio carnage. We were almost in the clear with two packed lunches and the taller of us already sporting her coat. There were smiles even. Then tiny girl’s coat came into her line of vision and poof she was on the floor kicking and screaming like the monster kids I used to see in Stop and Shop and vow would never live under my roof. We were finally in the car, one of us whining for turkeys, at nearly a quarter past 8.

You can imagine that in all that commotion I did not see Steve’s work laptop sitting by the steps. You can see how I would not have been able to connect that his laptop and his body were going to be a state apart at a multi-day work thing for 3 work days. You can see where this is going can’t you?

I got a semi-frantic call from Steve at around 10, just as a call came in from my least favorite client. She’s one of those “the doctors won’t tell me anything about my aunt because I am not the power of attorney and the power of attorney is unfit” types. Nice. So even if I had wanted to jet out of there to help him out I couldn’t. At 10:30 I finally hit the road, stopped at home to retrieve said laptop, raced to his office, dropped it on the chair of the poor sap who needs to overnight it to him, and raced back to work. He’s lucky I am awesome, though I did include a list of things he can do to repay my kindness.

It’s been a day.

This week has already been huge on the child development stuff. The words that are coming out of her mouth and her knowledge of her world astound us. Don’t you dare offer her a piece of banana bread without a “gowel!” (paper towel)! Don’t even consider turning on the faucet to wash that cup she has commanded you to “WASH!” without dragging her helper chair over and offering her measuring cup to fill and dump! At our library group she turned to me during the hokey pokey and asked me to “get up!” She’s a character; half dictator half love bug.

Tonight we are hosting our suddenly spouseless neighbor Ann for dinner. Her husband Tom is a state away in the other direction training for a new position. I have a three night plan for sugar cookies that I hope will get us through the dreaded supper to tub hour and a half. Tonight we make the dough, Wednesday we will cut and bake, and on Thursday we will decorate to freeze her masterful creations for Sara and Michelle. They will love them, if they can even identify what they are when she is done with them. Mostly I am hoping we can get through the next couple days without Daddy without tears.

here comes santa claus, there goes evil rash

The toddler is napping, the house is tidy, the smell of holiday tree penetrates every room. It is the perfect time to catch up on all the McFam goings on. By now you’ve probably seen the little video of our time lapse holiday tree decorating. We picked up our tree at a local tree farm on Saturday. We had hoped to attend the Loban Christmas Extravaganza on top of Candy Cane Hill, but with the ACC Title Game on the line it was time for compromise. So compromise we did. Our little fam selected both a tree and wreath prior to the tailgate start time and then found our way to the Lobans (how we found them in the parking lot I will never know). It was so nice to see them and I owe them a big Christmas thanks for getting us in gear. We always seem to put it off and go round and round on when and where to get the tree, so it was lovely to have a plan this year and even nicer to see your family!

I wish I could say I used high tech computer skills for that time lapse. I located the continuous shot option on my camera and it literally had a time lapse option. I set it for 1 min and off we went. Even with those simple little instructions I still somehow lost some shots of the tree being placed in the stand, us deciding on the tree’s best side, and many light fiascos; the best of which was when I caught a beer bottle in one hand while holding a tangled ball of lights in the other just inches from my daughter’s perfect face. Darn. That would have been good. At my friend beth’s suggestion – I think we may also do a Christmas morning time lapse. To get the shots into the time lapse movie I simply employed Google to do it for me. With your Picasa account you can select photos for a movie and wouldn’t you know that time lapse is an option? I chose not to do that though because it was SO fast, so I set it for one second and tada!!!! Now go make some of your fam and send them to me asap. =)

You probably saw my twitter about sushi. We got a babysitter on Friday night and went out for drinks and sushi sans toddler. We had a great night, but were sad to hear that she was the “hardest one” the sitter had ever had. She wasn’t complaining, just being honest and given the last few nights we’ve been here at bedtime, I don’t doubt that she was the hardest one ever. Caroline has been fighting bedtime for at least an hour each night. We both alternate suspecting that the pesky ear infection still hanging out and that she is just being difficult. We discontinued her evil antibiotic ourselves and it may not have been enough medicine to get rid of it. Given the rash situation you can imagine our reluctance to see the pedi again or to fill the magic RX they gave us at Children’s. I just want that dang rash out of here before we do anything else. So basically our evenings aren’t quite as restful as they used to be and for no apparent reason. She sleeps through once she does fall asleep and doesn’t appear to be suffering from anything greater than boredom. So yet another ????? moment as parents.

Speaking of the rash – we have that yeast infection on the run now. Pack your bags yeast. There is clear skin showing through(albeit dark pink which I suspect might actually be temporary scarring!) and while I continue my frequent often unnecessary changes, I think we have seen the worst of it. The strategy that worked (and I post it here so I can reference it in the future should this ever ever happen again) was Culterelle (two tabs in applesauce or a sip of juice 1x daily), hot washcloth (Thank you ALLIE CURLEY!) followed by a dry washcloth, the Oxy something RX cream, Triple Paste layered on top of that, and changes every two hours. There were lots and lots of diapers and many tears, but we got through it. We can’t wait until we only need wipes and about 5 diapers a day. I think that day is coming soon thanks to our vigilance. Special thanks to Steve my expert Triple Paste Smearer.

AND last but certainly not least, Steve is traveling to upstate NY on business this week. That is just one more reason to really get this rash licked before Tuesday as there will no longer be an extra set of hands to force Caroline to bend her knees or get her dressed while the other wipes the paste off their fingers with approximately 10 wipes. I have simple meals planned in his absence and hopes for easy nights filled with sugar cookie decorating, present wrapping, toy reorganization, dresser top cleaning, floor washing, and hot chocolates with extra EXTRA marshmallows.

Holiday Time Lapse

There is lots to update on

... Date Night Friday
... Tree Hunting on Saturday

Here is our Holiday Decorating Time Lapse. We had some technical difficulties in the beginning, so we are missing the "rigging up the lights" but we still think it is fun.

Holiday Decorating Time Lapse

Thanks to Lauren for this fun idea.

The Weight

Are we all sick of hearing about the woeful diaper rash/yeast infection yet??? Yes??
It is just too bad for you then that it is pretty much all that is happening at our house right now. Trust me, I wish I had other more exciting and less icky things to report on.

The rash continues. She came home from school last night with a dirty dipe which I could smell almost as soon as I switched the Sirius from pause to play. The rash had neither gotten better nor gotten worse in the time she was at school. I noted several changes on her sheet and got a report that she was “less squirmy than usual,” almost as if she somehow understands the magnitude of her sad situation. It was cloth diapers again last night from then to bed, we did a shower rinse off and hair dryer combo at one point because the wiping… it sucks. I had hopes of being greeted by a clearing up rash this morning, but alas, the rash remains much as we last saw it at 8pm on Tuesday.

The house feels different too. I think it is a combination of being away from it for so long and the weight that this rash seems to be placing on us all. I like my Mondays to organize and prepare for the week ahead and even with 4 bags of groceries from Roche Bros, I still felt ill prepared on Monday night. There is a crock pot roast cooking at home as I type this, but I still feel that way. Yes, this is a rash. Yes, it will go away. Yes, there are many other more terrible things that could be happening. I realize this of course, but it feels difficult to carry the weight this situation has placed on all of us. Every diaper change brings tears (from both of us) and the time between finds me once again at google or in front of the linen closet contemplating remedies. I have a new plan to put that ol’ nursing cream to good use. That is my plan of attack for tonight. Even my Triple Paste doesn’t seem to be making a dent in this one. Part of me is hopeful that it we seem to have the rash at a standstill; neither getting better nor getting worse. Perhaps it needs time to work its way through and if our team can maintain this level of vigilance the rash will retreat. I know from experience that even then we need to maintain this level of changing and cream smearing. In a time so special, I just want my little Santa lover to be able to enjoy this season. I think that is the hardest part of the weight to carry.

Photos of Day 2 Advent Calendars promised later – for now a brief description will have to do. Steve selected the second bag contents and did he ever select a doozy!!! A pop-up “Flight of Santa” book found in the dollar bin at Target. It was a huge hit and after she was done flipping through pages she spent a good five minutes trying to peek through the doorway of a pop-up house on page 4. So silly. So sweet. I love her.

neverending day

We had a long Monday. The only saving grace is that I did not need to navigate to or through our Children’s visit solo. Kiki led the way to Waltham, accompanied us to the appointment, provided entertainment in the waiting room, and distracted Caroline during the appointment. When the Physician’s Assistant asked about her speech I could confirm my answers with someone who doesn’t see her everyday that she speaks pretty darn clearly. She asked the good questions that I would never have thought of (removing earrings – necessary?) and reassured me that seeming eager to get this all cleared up might get me in earlier and not label me a “crazy.”

Post visit we enjoyed a lovely little lunch at the Chateau before hitting the road. Caroline was out in .3 seconds. She woke up midway through, but was in good spirits. Now comes the part that made me almost lose my mind. My phone battery died (I hadn’t charged it the entire 5 days we were away!) so I couldn’t call our pedi until I plugged it in. The PA at Children’s was not comfortable prescribing something for the rash, which I totally respect, but seriously the desperation!!! My mind raced and I recalled that there was some RX cream at school. So we stopped there on our way, picked it up just in case, got a last minute appointment (“we have a 4:00,” “do you have anything earlier?” “3:45” “what time is it now?” “3:25” “we’ll be there!”) at the pedi to look at the rash, raced out the door 10 minutes and one poopy diaper later, got a “yup, it’s yeast,” a “nothing RX will do any better than the Lotrimin you are already using,” and a blank stare when I begged for a sample of Vusion. Raced angry at the wasted copay to the nearest pharmacy, which was a Walgreens and a wasted trip because I guess I forgot that I hate Walgreens. Raced to nearest CVS and picked up enough supplies for home and school, diaper pins, and extra diapers. Made it home just as Steve pulled into the driveway at a quarter past five. Retrieved extra cloth diapers from attic and turned toddler into Tarzan for the evening. We went through 3 in just two hours – how did people do this!?!? Rifled through diaper bin and discovered a teeny tiny amount of squirreled away Vusion. Thanked the universe. Applied at bedtime, awoke to a far less angry though still irritated rash.

We are not surprisingly scheduling the procedure for as soon as possible. Of course the doctor operates in the satellite location the second Tuesday of each month and of course that would be today, so we missed December. We hope there are openings the first Tuesday in January, but when I speak to the OR scheduler later this week I will be sure to let her know that we can come today, tomorrow, or next week. We got our little pre-op questionnaire completed too – by a less than Children’s friendly lady I might add – the only person we’ve dealt with so far who has been less than stellar. Then again, she is well aware that I am potentially that pushy parent no one wants to deal with and frankly, if being the pushy parent gets me scheduled sooner so be it. Am I even capable of being pushy??? For this, yes.

The rash – well – the evil green/black tar ceased overnight on Sunday and since then we have seen small improvements. It is more raised, more yeasty, but she no longer screams bloody murder at the thought of a diaper change and we are both no longer sharing tears throughout the awful process. I said “sorry” so many times to her during changes that yesterday at home she starting saying “sorry” too. That just about broke my heart. I brought her to school this morning and looked at the girls as sternly as I was capable of and said I needed them to be on the team with us. I told them that without their commitment and dedication to keeping her dry and medicated we collectively cannot beat this thing. and then I showed them. I didn’t want them to be horrified later. I wanted them to see me do it; how much product I use, how I apply it and I told them that if they use the whole tube or the entire $20 tub of Triple Paste in one day I don’t care, just keep doing it. They are on board with changes every two hours or as needed and I am going to call at naptime to see if things are getting worse.

In conclusion – there will be tubes, the rash is terrible but we have hope, school accepted the impossible mission, and we are home. It really was a wonderful holiday! The end got a little dicey, but without family it would have been so much harder. There was great food, lots of treats, many laughs, a MOVIE out!, and good times together. Let’s not let the rash tarnish the memory of what was really a relaxing and fun family holiday. Thanks Kikerria and Papa.

Day 1

Welcome to December - the month of advent calendars both traditional and whimsy!

Day 1 brought a post dinner (she ate it all - thank god the appetite is back!) candy cane and a search for the first window of the beautiful calendar from Kiki & Papa. Please note the Tarzan style cloth diaper action - all part of BANISH THE RASH!

An Unwelcome Visit to Familiar Territory

To address Erin's comment... no, I don't think I am losing steam. For those not in the know, Saturday was the last home BC Football game and being the fans we are we had a strict departure time of high noon. That makes a nice thoughtful post a bit challenging. We might also be losing the ability to keep positive. There may be snow and freezing rain here today, but it is feeling an awful lot like Spring - of 2008 that is.

Our little ear infected princess went home with an RX for Omnicef, which until I saw the actual real name on the $35 prescription I did not recognize as the most evil antibiotic on the face of the earth. The Antibiotic to end all Antibiotics. The one that caused the great rash of 2008. Oh yes. We have all been treated to frequent tearful sessions coping with green/black poop and a diaper area (not isolated to the bum, ohhh no) that is so red and raw that even a slight breeze would cause a terrified flinch. It's been a challenge and we have been so incredibly lucky to have others here to help us, to say a Hail Mary with us, to hold her legs (I wish I was kidding), and to reassure us that we are doing the best we can.

She stopped taking the antibiotic this morning. I phoned the pediatrician and got some advice - Culterelle ($27), Lotrimin ($9 - powder spray), A+D CVS Brand ($4). The antidotes to the evil antibiotics cost more than the poison itself. Go figure. The nurse urged me to continue with the medication - but we laughed at that thought and decided that Motrin would do just fine until our appointment at Children's Hospital tomorrow for the ear follow-up. We aren't leaving there without a RX for an incredible rash cream and some answers regarding the ears. My hope is that the desperation in my eyes or the contents of her diaper will assist us in getting this ear thing wrapped up.

We are thankful for so much this year and today reminded us that our family - both here and on the other side of MA- is the single most wonderful thing to be thankful for.

I am already panicked at the thought of sending her to school on Tuesday with this rash. The knowledge I have of the last go around reminds me that while they do their absolute best, this rash needs constant vigilance to get out of our life. That is exactly where I want it to be. My poor baby girl is suffering right now.

This concludes a post a day everyday. I wish it did not have to be on such a sad note. I hope to have promising news on the ear and rash front on Monday.

The Holiday Season is upon us!

"Reindeer" sighted at Kiki and Papa's house!!!

Caroline asks Auntie K: "Wheredahgo?"

Go BC!!!

Auntie C's favorite Caro-isms

After turkey and mashed and green bean casserole left overs Kerri remembered NaBloPoMo and was quite exasperated, so I suggested a guest post - she was psyched. So here's a quick guest post from Auntie C ... nothing spectacular but here goes ...

Although I didn't get to spend Thanksgiving with the McFam ... (I was over celebrating the holiday with the Soups) ... I have been able to spend a lot of time with Caroline recently. Uncle Hokie and I babysat her a few weeks back and the football games this fall have been a plenty.

Here are a few of my favorite Caro-isms:
Her three favorite words are: Dora, Elmo, and Ariel. They are the most important people in her life and they are all she cares about. (Sorry everyone, you know it's true!) They are the answer to all that is evil and the best way to get a snuggle out of her.

"Dip?" -- Caroline will dip anything in anything and simply suck the "dip" off the chip, cracker, carrot annnd repeat. Dip dip dip ... she ate about a cup of ketchup when I cooked her chicken nuggets while only managing to eat one nugget. Gross.

Circle spinning has become a favorite past time of Caroline, we'll have to get a video of it, she twirls herself like a ice skating queen until she's laughing so hard that she has to stop. And as soon as she gets her balance back she goes at it again. Just laughing and laughing.

Last but not least -- the back rub -- yeah that sounds so weird a baby giving back rubs? It's not your normal back rub ... Caroline loves rubbing her little fingers against your skin in that lower back area just above your pants -- if your shirt is tucked in she will untuck it just so she can get there. She's been doing this since she was a little baby and I hope she keeps doing it. It's so relaxing for both her and whoever is the lucky receiver.

Those are my favorite Caro-isms ... hope you're jealous that she's not your niece.

Happy Turkey Leftover Day!!!
~Auntie C

This year I am thankful for…

… a child who can blow her own nose
… ticklish thighs
… Sunday football games with Daddy – “GO!”
… tiny requests for “hat!”
… Abby
… Tights
Sticksters Cheese Sticks
… two hour naps
… that my touch can make even the biggest bump on the head feel better
… the “helpa cha
… Ariel
… both of our jobs
… Sara and Michelle
… a little girl who loves to brush my hair
… the warmth in our home (both love and actual heat of course)
… the tiny light at the end of the diaper tunnel
… that while gas is affordable again we are still doing as little driving as possible
… the overwhelming generosity and immeasurable love of our extended family
… toddler sized utensils
… new friends
… an amazing partner
… BC football (I can’t believe I am thankful for this, but I really am.)
… old friends… a toddler who reminds me everyday how lucky I am

Buckle Love

For Auntie C - I bring you yet another random video, shot last night during a greater than 20 minute post meal playtime with the most intriguing thing in the house - the booster seat buckle.

I am at work tying up some loose ends and getting in a couple hours of work before the McFam heads north for the holiday. Steve is at home with Caroline and he will unfortunately be making a last minute visit to the pediatrician just so we can be assured that this ear business will not put a damper on our (and the rest of the family's) holiday fun. Caroline has been woefully irritable and we'd like there to actually be a reason beyond a diagnosis of "TODDLER."

We are packed up - organized - the cars (we have to take both) are gassed up and we are ready to roll out.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

From Caroline Month 22

frozen turkeys

So let’s talk about the weekend already!

Friday night the McFam hit the SBC for some dinner and we were thoroughly impressed with the children’s menu offerings. For $5.95 Caroline enjoyed an adorable portioned tray of grilled cheese, fruit cup, mixed veggies (which she actually TRIED!), French fries, milk, and a cookie. I think it is safe to say we will be returning to this place again soon – their crab cakes rocked. Caroline’s favorite part of dinner was dipping her fries into my tartar sauce. TARTAR sauce. The condiment queen maintains her reign.

On Saturday we welcomed Marc in from Boston. He and Steve sped off to enjoy some pregame drinks and wings before making it back home just after the BC Wake Forest kickoff. We were also fortunate to welcome the boys of the C3s and the Loban clan. Amanda came with both delish cookies and pigs in a blanket, which the boys devoured heartily. Ethan was such a giggly boy riding Caroline’s horse/giraffe. He is growing so fast, too fast! Christian and Caroline have played together before, but this visit they really seemed to click. Together they went hunting for the “kitty kat.” While I allow Caroline some one-on-one Reese time, all I could imagine was the cat taking a swipe at little Christian and that was all I needed to keep the kids separated from the “kitty kat.” BC did eventually win the game, overcoming amazing obstacles to do so. There was quite a lot of whooping and high fiving.

Later, Caroline sat with Marc on the couch watching her new movie Happy Feet. (THANKS MARC!) She got super comfy, leaning right into him. She would have fallen asleep right there if I had let her. She went right to bed, only to wake up around 11 screaming for us. Nothing like showing Marc all the colors of parenthood in one short visit. I suspect that the fluid in her ears from her ear check last Monday is now a full blown infection, but we are waiting if we can for her Children's follow-up next Monday. Besides that one wake up, all else seems to be normal.

Sunday we caught up on laundry, took a short trip to IKEA to look at toddler beds, and organized for Thanksgiving. I took a last minute ride to my fav second hand store to locate new jeans for our growing girl. There were signs up noting that they would be accepting spring and summer clothes starting the second week in December. EEK! I ran through the 24 month racks ONE MORE TIME knowing that the next time I get back there will likely be little left for winter. My find of the day was a pair of snow boots, which are still a bit too big, but worn perhaps twice. She'll be sporting them this weekend as we sit like frozen turkeys at the BC MD game. I love that place.

This parts for you Uncle Marc. I sat Caroline down in her seat for breakfast on Monday morning and she looked at me, perplexed. She put her hands out to the side and turned the palms to the ceiling in that confused “where’d it go?” kind of way. “Marc?”

Our Little Mother

I sacrificed posting this afternoon at naptime to pack Caroline up for Thanksgiving... so instead of a wordy post enjoy this short snippet of our little Mommy feeding her baby "applesauce." She does this just about everyday now. She asks me sweetly to get her "nummy" which in Caro speak means an empty bowl and spoon. She stirs it around, pretends that it is too hot, feeds it to her dolls and rewards them with high praise when they eat well.

Holiday Spirit

That regularly scheduled weekend update is forthcoming. In the meantime BEHOLD.

Here is the "looney tunes can't believe I got myself into this" advent calendar via Wondertime Magazine. It's far from traditional, but like the original each day is designated for a countdown to the holiday and a daily reminder of our blessings. In our more progressive version we used a tiny gift bag instead of cute little window. I am undecided on whether to open them in normal or reverse order. I spent about 45 minutes this afternoon putting all the pieces together; stuffing the bags with a variety of tissue, attaching clothespins, arranging just so. I am very happy with the final product. I wanted this up and ready to roll for Monday - which seriously is the first of DECEMBER?!?! I left the actual advent surprises in a hidden location to be added as we go, both for weight reasons and for practicality. Our little Santa lover is already curious about what exactly is happening with these bags. When she realizes there are treats...

For those who might want to tackle this crafty project - GO FOR IT - I made it about 100 times harder than it had to be with the glue gun sequinsy action and the tissue stuffing. I won't promise a photo/post a day in December (HA! can you imagine?) but I assure you there will be many little advent calendar updates with what I hope to be many photos capturing the holiday spirit alive in our little girl. Maybe we can spread the cheer and help to minimize the stress?

Truck and Turkey Sightings

Marc has arrived in CT and the boys are off to Buffalo Wild Wings for some pregame snacks and drinks. I have mostly prepared the requested dinner of my mother's meatloaf and Steve's mother's mashed potatoes. Should be a fun afternoon!

We ran to the store this morning to pick up some last minute items and hopefully the last of what we will need foodwise for this very short holiday week. As soon as we pulled into the BIG Y lot the shouts from the backseat started; "TRUCK! TRUCK!" I said, "that's right, you get to ride in a truck!" - that's what she calls the car shopping carts. Steve could not get over that she knew before we really even pulled into the lot that she knew where she was. Our Caroline is getting to know her neck of the woods.

I also convinced her that during the days our turkey hunts are silly because the turkeys are sleeping. Now instead of getting in the car and whining for a turkey sighting she says "sleeping?" How else can you explain to a 21 month old that the turkeys are not plugged in? I found a second one in our neighborhood and we even ALTERED our commute home to accommodate a drive by. I wish I were kidding. I see many evening rides to look at holiday lights in our future.

ALSO - dear winners of the Pay It Forward - be patient - with one winner in the midst of moving and the holiday this week I decided to hold off and you will understand why the timing needs to be just so when they do finally magically appear on your doorsteps.

In 2007 we were all celebrating Thanksgiving today. Here was a list of what I was thankful for then. Reading this list makes me nostalgic for the baby that used to live with us; the sweaty nap head, a baby who slept through dinner prep, her little squeal laugh. I am still grateful for many of those same things, but mostly that she has gotten so big, that I am still putting away grown out of clothes to make room for new ones - she's here, she's healthy, she's growing and learning everyday. What a blessing.

chowder and lessons

The most exciting thing that happened to us today is Caroline eating chowder. Lately she has been more open to eating whatever we are eating for dinner. She went to town on tacos last night and kept requesting"mo Cheese!" So when I fixed myself a bowl of chowder for lunch and she woke up from her nap before I could eat it I spooned a small helping into a little bowl for her. She gobbled up spoonfuls once I added in the oyster cracker which she called cookies. The other latest obsession - CLEMENTINES.

That was the most exciting thing that happened to us, but that is not the most exciting thing happening on our street. We pulled into the driveway last night to find an ambulance and the bike gang circled around one child. Seeing an adult in the crowd, I ushered my toddler into our house and picked up the phone to see if Ann knew anything. To make a really long story short - the kids were playing on a discarded door left out by you guessed it - The Sucktaculars. The door is only the latest in a long line of oversized trash items to be left on the side of the road for no apparent reason other than laziness. The kids were playing on the door and one of them (our next door neighbor) slammed his foot through the glass, slicing his leg down to the muscle. He lost a lot of blood, he lost conciousness, and he has ten stitches. There were many photos taken of the door, there was a loud conversation between parent of child and Mrs. Sucktacular, there was a police investigation. We might be smack dab in the middle (geographically speaking) of a serious street war.

Frozen pigs

Caroline came home from school yesterday with a head that smelled like baby powder. It was apparently “beauty shop” day because her little pig tails were perfect, the hair in the back was curled to perfection, and when she inevitably ripped the bands off on the car ride home the hair STAYED exactly where it was. We didn’t even have to “rerubberband.” She spent the rest of the night happy for exactly 10 minutes, which is when she wolfed down an entire package of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, several spoonfuls of my rice, and a few apple slices. She was adventurous enough to try Steve’s pork chop, but declared it “yucky” and spit it back out. She said “no” as soon as I mentioned broccoli. We’ll keep trying. Her appetite lately has been astounding. She eats entire helpings and asks for “mo.” The other 120 minutes before her bath were spent whining, clinging to my leg, asking to be picked up/put down, all the while with that terrible I’m not really crying crying. So she went to bed early last night and at around 9 the ringing in my ears stopped.

All was forgiven during tooth brushing when she spotted a break out on my chin and declared, “boo boo” touching my face gently and scrunching hers all up in sympathy. I figure I will return the favor in about 12 years.

Last year we had a terrible night and my eyelid (the same one as a few weeks ago!) had swollen overnight. It was also when I could finally announce the Albenny engagement. I cannot believe that their wedding is this May?!?

penguins and mice

The Today Show is running another ends of the Earth type special this week. The crew are in Australia, Belize (seriously Colleen, I hope you knew this and DVR’d!!), Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Iceland. On Monday morning Caroline and I snuggled in bed watching Meredith in Australia witness the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. Do you think she loved it? Um, yes, of course she loved it. She started moving in bed, shaking her body back and forth. Thanks to the magic of DVR we were able to rewind and play the penguin parade again and again and well, again. By the time Steve came back from his shower she was out of bed and walking around like a penguin….

Kind of like this…

From Caroline Month 22

Forget Disney Steve, let’s do the Penguin Parade instead! It is only 12 bucks – after a 14 plus hour flight from LA to Sydney and a 90-minute flight to Melbourne. I mention Disney because we were considering going. I say were because we have more or less decided against it right now. If you say you haven’t seen that new ad on TV where the Mom opens her purse and a Mickey Ear balloon shoots out, you haven’t been watching TV. “Stay 4 nights get 3 nights free!” We thought, “too good to be true.” So to quiet our “wow, that’s amazing” commentary we went online and low and behold it is indeed NOT too good to be true. Our family of three could travel to Disney for an entire week including airfare for just about 1000clams and Disney would be so excited to have us there that they would also grant us a 200 dollar gift card to spend while we play at the parks. It was hard to say no to this. Very hard. If it was "buy 2 nights get 2 free" we would have booked and I would already be singing Bippity Boppity Boo, but 7 nights is 8 days and that is a very VERY long time to vacation with a toddler. Then there is the whole “she won’t remember it” thing, which is true and the riding space mountain solo thing which doesn’t sound nearly as fun as riding with Steve (and Caroline too!). There is indeed tons to do down in Orlando that is toddler friendly – character breakfasts, Sea World - but I think we are taking a pass this time around. We’re making plans for a couple days at Sesame Place in the spring instead, BUT MAN, what a deal. If you have older kids or if you are a kid at heart – seriously go and book it – it is NOT too good to be true!!!

texting for content

There are days when I stare at the blinking cursor on Blogger and sigh deeply that I either have too much to say and not enough time to type OR that I cannot think of anything remotely interesting to say. November really pushes those creative juices. I actually sent myself a text last night because lately my biggest blog blunder is not remembering the cutest or funniest things and focusing on the daily grind. Aren’t writers supposed to keep a notebook for ideas? Should bloggers do the same? Do they?

So this week you’ll be treated to a few particularly cute Caroline-isms courtesy of my text message.

“Yeah, Ok.”

This is the new Caroline Catchphrase. An example. Yesterday we were making hot chocolate together. I was showing her how to stir it SLOWLY, reminding her to be careful because it is HOT, convincing her to try a marshmallow and put one in her mug.

“Caroline, don’t you want to put one of these yummy marshmallows in your mug?”
“yeah, ok!”


“Hey Caroline before we play with the blocks, let’s pick up our crayons.”
“yeah, ok!”

With just over a month until Santa (!!!) comes it is difficult to fight the urge to switch out some of her older amusements for new and much more developmentally appropriate ones. I have retired most of the “baby toys” to a box in the attic in preparation for puzzles and new Little People sets. That is NOT to say that she is lacking in the toddler amusement area, oh no, I think she is just ready for more a few more challenging playthings.

Operation Advent Calendar is nearing completion. I have the burns on my fingertips from the glue gun to illustrate my progress. I thought I was so slick getting all my holiday shopping for Caroline done early… until I decided that she MUST have an advent calendar. It seemed like a nice little tradition to start, but it has become quite a big deal. Now that I am neck deep, I wonder about the let down after December 24th when there are no more daily treats. Will she understand that this was something JUST for Christmas? Won’t she have enough to distract her from the missing daily surprise?

The actual supplies were very inexpensive and I am hopeful I can use the “calendar” I made this year for at least a few more years. It is the contents that I missed the mark on. I hadn't initially considered that the goodies for each day were going to cost a minimum of 24 clams. Thanks be to Target for the $1 bin. I really had fun shopping for those little daily prizes which are incredibly varied (both by price and category); hello kitty band aids (free – we already own them just keep them hidden from her), Cars stickers (dollar bin at Target), big girl Ariel underwear (in case of urinary epiphany), Nemo coloring book, a school bus book in the shape of an actual school bus complete with wheels. I also picked up candy canes, which I figure she can either eat or hang on the tree, and Steve is supposed to be responsible for getting a couple other edible treats for a handful of days.

Oh the tree! We are participating in the Loban Christmas Tree Extravaganza the first weekend in December. I am so excited, but also a bit concerned about the tree this year. We have a curious toddler who will adore hanging ornaments from branches and potentially pulling them off. She will need close supervision from then until New Years to be sure that the tree doesn’t topple on top of her. Yikes! Last year she supervised the tree decoration, but knowing her the way I do the second the box top is off the dusty Rubbermaid marked “XMAS” she is going to be off and running, most likely away, with the most precious of ornaments. It will be exciting and fun and perhaps we will create a new holiday tradition; “Ornament Freeze Tag” while we try to catch her and pry those clothespin reindeer out of her hands. Wow. This is sounding less awesome the more I think about it. My visions of cocoa and carols and sitting together with the lights out admiring our decorated handiwork are quickly vanishing.

Steve isn’t really into the whole deck the halls thing and his participation is minimal. I, on the other hand, look forward to it, pine for the smell of holiday tree, and get nostalgic about each and every ornament I free from its basement hideaway. I am hopeful that in Caroline I will gain a partner in crime for holiday decoration. Steve asked me the other day if I was going to string cranberries and popcorn with Caroline and when I said no HE was disappointed. Perhaps the holiday spirit will catch everyone in our house this year after all, and hopefully none of it will fall on top of anyone.

and in keeping with my November theme: I heart these videos. These are from the JUST crawling collection and they make me teary for my once upon a time baby. Look at her sweet face in the second one and that little voice...and then look at the kitchen - thank god we did the upgrade Steve!


According to the pediatrician there is still a bit of fluid in Caroline's ears, but at this time with our follow-up appointment at Children's looming just three short weeks away we aren't going to treat this fluid with more antibiotics. With the combo of those dang eye teeth still making their entrance into the world and a really drippy nose, he felt that any irritability could not be blamed soley on ears. SO - no antibiotics but from my discussion with him he thinks that if we did move forward with tubes it might make for a much easier winter for Caroline AND her parents. We're going to wait and see what they say up in Boston, but he suspects we will be getting a green light for the procedure. So stay tuned for that exciting update. har har.

We did manage to get to the grocery store, our appointment AND the library toddler group this morning. I forgot our shopping list at home and had to wing it which meant a couple off the list purchases including turkey stickers for Miss Sticker herself. I had been aiming for a really light shopping week, but with few snacks present in the house, a juice sale, and a jelly roll meatloaf this weekend per request - our light week was in actuality a bit like a regular ol' week.

Caroline and I had some yogurt at her little table and shared an apple watching the end of a Pooh movie playing on Disney before her eyes got sleepy and she went upstairs with Abby for her nap. I feel like I have a million things to do around here today, so instead of procrastinating here I suppose I should roll up my sleeves and clean the tub. Fall has been fast and FURIOUS with the perpetual pack on Friday come back Sunday football routine and this house shows it. I almost don't know where to begin. Steve would say it is fine, but it is cluttered with remnants of this and that just about everywhere I turn. I know that the tub alone will not make me feel as if I have corrected the balance, but it is a start and I need a start right about now before I lose my mind.

I suspect my cheeks will still hurt tomorrow

We're recovering from a really enjoyable Saturday spent with friends. Steve and I needed to take Motrin before bed because our cheeks and heads hurt from the non-stop laugh fest. My personal fav of the night - Jim Breuer. I've been calling Steve a ferret all day. =)

Extra special thanks to the amazing auntie k for taking over the Caro duties in our absence. Not only was she brave enough to take on the Mall Playspace, but she also splurged on dinner out and NOT Mickey Ds - CHEESECAKE FACTORY. What a lucky little girl! We owe you one k. It was such a full fun afternoon and evening and it was all made possible by you!

We've got our ear follow-up on Monday at 9:30 followed by the flu shot. I suspect we'll be relaxing at home most of the day after that appointment.

No time for small talk - I'm busy packing up my "FWI" bag full of amusements for Caroline day with Auntie k.

Last year I offered not one, but TWO posts. First I marveled at Caroline's blossoming independence and then later I announced that Auntie K was going to be tackling the most amazing feat ever - the Boston Marathon.

I hope today brings everyone lots of laughs and if not, then I will do my part to laugh for those who can't at tonight's show.

Sharing Wisdom Kiki Style

After Caroline's 2.5 hour nap - thank you Caroline - we gathered ourselves up for a quick run to Big Y for weekend provisions and Chili must haves (tortilla chips, sour cream). I had to pick up a prescription that was supposed to have been called in mid morning, so we dashed into CVS on our way home. It was that annoying drizzle rain and Caroline declared "wet!" I love it. We waited for our prescription, which annoyingly had not been filled yet and I couldn't help overhearing a discussion at the "consultation counter."

"So use this and then Nystatin how often?"
"And the Balmex?"
"There has to be something else you can do - she's bleeding!"

Sound familiar? It does to me. I was standing not 3 feet from this mother grasping an arm load of diaper creams, Aveeno oatmeal bath, sensitive wipes and my heart broke for her. When the pharmacist walked away, presumably to fill the Nystatin I made eye contact and said "have you tried Triple Paste?" Thankfully I received many recommendations for this Miracle in a jar when we were in similar dire straits last spring.

"No, what's Triple Paste?"
"My daughter gets ear infections and the antibiotics affect her (no way to put it lightly) bowels, which gives her a diaper rash, and then if it gets really bad a yeast infection."
"That is exactly what happened? What do you do?"
"Oh, it's awful! We had the hardest time getting rid of it. It hurt so badly that she couldn't sit in the tub."
"She's bleeding!"
"She was too - it makes you cry too doesn't it?"
"Oh it's terrible!"
"She was raw from front to back"
"Same here, where is that paste?"

I say I offered this Kiki style because somehow Steve managed to marry a girl that enjoys starting conversations with random strangers and sharing her battle scars as much as her mother-in-law. I hope that this woman and her baby get some relief soon. I suggested she slather in as thick as possible overnight and promised she'd see results soon.

I never did get that prescription, they offered to check the voicemail, but clearly with Caroline in tow we weren't going to manage that wait. Maybe we were supposed to be waiting around to help this poor family get rid of the evil yeast infection?

Remind me why I do this again?

I know we all hate non-Caroline posts, but this one just has to be written. I am working with a family whose only son lives in Italy. He is doing what he can to ensure they are cared for from abroad and if you want my opinion (and who doesn't?!) he is doing an amazing job. I was asked to attend a meeting this morning between his father and a respresentative of a state program which may be able to offer some additional help. This meeting was one of the most difficult one in my short career. My presence was startling and apparently an imposition for the case manager sent to complete the assessment and she proceeded to project her anger and aggression towards me onto this poor memory impaired 92 year-old man. She asked him questions rapid fire, dismissed his attempts to engage her, and when he responded that the current President of the United States was Carter she quickly replied, "NO!" I had tears brimming for most of the interview and though I had never met him, it was me who reassured him, offered a smile and my hand. When she finally left he was tearful, asking us if he was in some kind of trouble. He said he felt like a criminal, that he had done something wrong. It was unbearable to witness and I did my best to assure him that she would never be back after he said "she scares me." I don't understand how people like this woman get involved in social services. I did what she should have done and explained that she was here to determine his eligibility for a program to get him some more help at home. There were many lost opportunities in her interview and I capitalized on one at the end of my visit to help him understand why she had been asking him questions. He told her he was an avid photographer. This interview, I explained, was an attempt to capture a snapshot of his life to determine what his needs are. I felt so incredibly bad for him, this wonderful sweet man who still refers to his wife with advanced dementia as his bride. He offered but one piece of advice: Don't get old.

A year ago I wrote about how I shouldn't take a nap. That hasn't changed. I am the world's worst napper. I am grumpy and out of it for the rest of the day. Uncle Hokie how do you do those 5 minute power naps? Without reading ahead I coincidentally planned the same meal (crockpot chili) for tonight, but I think it will be leftover lasagna tonight and chili tomorrow since in my rush to get to an early morning meeting I neglected to toss it together. I love her little onesie in that shot. She definitely still is a selective listener.

Caroline is prepping for an overnight with Auntie k while her parents go to Comics Come Home. So excited about it - almost as exciting is the opportunity to spend the afternoon with some very missed friends over beers and burgers.

Day 12 of 30

I picked Caroline up yesterday afternoon with an amazing properly blown out hairdo. She was waiting with her coat on. Her little friend Julianna got to work on her zipper and refused help twice before letting me assist her. It was the cutest thing and Caroline seemed to love all the attention her little friend was giving.

Later as I unpacked her lunch bag from school I discovered a little surprise and I gasped. Sara and Michelle had put copies of some photos they had taken of Caroline in her bag for me to discover. It was surreal to look at my daughter in photos that had been taken not by me, a friend, or a family member, but by these wonderful ladies. They are literally little snapshots into the life she has without us; eating lunch, holding hands with Hannah after a manicure session, posing with Julianna wearing face paint kitten whiskers. Her life, without me. She's smiling and so I do too.

Last year we weren't feeling too well, but I love looking back at all these cute outfits. They are all packed in old diaper boxes stacked in the attic. Look at her hair here, did she even have any???

Day 11 of 30 - Today was all about Moi

Posting for the sake of posting without much content because I am off to pick up the little miss. My day was filled with advent calendar supply shopping (boy, that project is sounding intense isn't it??), salon self spoiling, clearance rack browsing, laundry loading, and lasagna noshing. It's been a nice day. Wish things could have worked out to have had this day yesterday and had my parents here today, but there is always next time!

In 2007 I was able to recognize that we sort of got this whole parenting gig. It was sinking in that not only were we getting through, but that we were actually capable and sometimes even excelling at caring for our baby. That's an amazing feeling. Last year we were also hard at work on our holiday cards, but this time around the sun we are already done with that holiday to do. They arrived on our doorstep just before dinner yesterday and I think they came out exactly as we had hoped. Looking at last year's card it is hard to imagine that our family has come so far. Another card to tuck away and save to recall another amazing year with our silly and sometimes bossy sweetheart.

Day 10 of 30 and still stuck on those dang turkeys

Big thanks to Auntie C and Uncle Hokie (now known only as Hokie) for spending the afternoon and evening with Caroline on Saturday while her parents enjoyed the BC win over ND. Not only did they give up their Saturday night, but also their game tickets! That is dedication to their niece. From what we heard she had a fabulous time, except for her bath, and went to sleep without a hitch. We can't thank them enough!!!

We hit the road in search of the newest obsession - turkeys - on Sunday afternoon. Caroline slept for just 45 minutes - EEK! - and then it was all I could do to entertain her for over an hour from the front seat. Books were dismissed, toys batted away. Caroline wanted one thing and one thing only; turkeys. Not real turkeys, oh no, those blown up lawn ornament turkeys and now she even says her own version of gobble, gobble when she spies one. It sounds more like double u double u.

We made it all the way through the library music hour this morning! There were a few moments early on when I thought we were crashing and burning as she began rifling through my bag for "fishies" and then "joosh." We played for a bit afterward before heading out to pick up some supplies for an advent calendar I saw in Wondertime's December issue. Once it is done I will post the results. I am going to let Caroline help me make them because they involve stickers!

Caroline is sleeping, I am getting ready to assemble a lasagna, clean the house, and take a shower. After her nap we are making a fistful of snowman sugar cookies that we scooped up on sale at Big Y this week. I will do my best to save one for Steve, but no promises.

Last year I was finally able to announce that Tasha and Tony would be welcoming a new family member in the spring. TJ is now sitting up, dressing as a dragon for Halloween, wearing reindeer antlers, and delighting his Mom and Dad.

Day 9 of 30

It was nine month stats a year ago. She looks so tiny in her little bathing suit.

We'll undoubtedly be heading home at some point today and getting organized for the week. My week is a bit altered and for once it's a good thing. While I will need to work a few extra hours in here and there to make up the time, I am officially off in observance of Veteran's Day on Tuesday. Those keeping score - that's 5 days off in a row. Caroline has school on Tuesday and mysterious forces somehow arranged for my next salon appointment to also occur on Tuesday. I'm planning on dropping her at school, getting some things done around the house (perhaps an hour or two of work) & indulging in some me time. Caroline will be at home early afternoon after we do something together - I just got an ice cold tip that Baskin Robbins is Buy One Get One on Tuesdays.

Seems like we're always in Boston

Like last year, we are in Boston, but for a game this time. The Holy War (Notre Dame/BC) is on the adult members of the McFamily's itinerary. Caroline will be hanging at home with Auntie C and Uncle Hokie, unless it is raining steadily. If that happens I might just have to ask them to babysit me too. I think we are looking forward to Caroline having this special time with her Aunt and Nearly Uncle almost as much as they are.

365 days ago Caroline was crawling over to me in the kitchen asking to be picked up. Today she drags her "helpah chair" over so she can roll up her sleeves and get in on the cooking action.

and the winners are...

Last year seems far less interesting than PRIZES!!!

I used an internet "RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR" and am happy to announce the three winners of the Pay It Forward Contest:

Terri from the Beanie Board of Part Time Days aka Raggedy Ann

Matt's Mom Liz a onetime Stetson West resident, Auntie Em watching, vegetarian turned meat eater aka Football Player

Rylan's Mom and expecting DOS Aimee aka Monica Lewinsky

Ladies, these packages won't send themselves without your mailing addresses, so please email your info so they can magically appear on your doorstep!

I enjoyed laughing out loud at your responses! You people are certainly creative!

My best costume: A Playboy Bunny. In elementary school (Maybe 4th grade?) I could not decide what to be. I hemmed, I hawed. I gave my parents grief in the costume shop. So my father, yes Dad it was you, suggested I be a Playboy Bunny and when I seemed interested and excited about it (what's that?!?!) off I went with all my Playboy Bunny accesories. I had a black leotard, fishnets, a bunny tail and ears, and oh yeah a stuffed undergarment. I carried a cocktail tray with two glasses glued to it and I wore a silver mask to hide behind. I was the talk of the school Halloween Party. Little did I realize that the stares and open jaws were probably not in awe of my creative one of a kind get up. Seriously, Mom and Dad... great costume... about 10 years too early, but a great costume. I wish I had remembered to get a photo from you to scan in and post here.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone who played!!!

Oh and last year we were also on the tail end of some antibiotics that turned into a "nasty" rash which brought us to the pedi at 8pm. Let's hope tonight is completely uneventful.