peanut butter cups, parties, petite croissants, piece meal renovation, and pipe dreams

There's lots to catch up on...

It's been a really nice weekend. The whole McCashew family is snoozing away. I can't nap and besides, even if I could, I had an entire mug of coffee this morning and now I remember why I can't drink it - I am so revved up and just not right! Lesson learned... I guess every now and again you need a reminder. I will just be thankful that I am not caffeine dependent because seriously my mind is racing faster than I can type. I was reading aloud from the seventeenth month of the What to Expect Toddler edition and I could feel my heart whirring and my speech was fast and furious - ugh - it's just no good for me to drink coffee. Please don't allow me coffee - remind me that I hate feeling this way - k?

Caroline and I spent some nice Mommy/Daughter time together on Friday checking out the playground at the beach in town and had it not been drizzling we would have stayed all day. She loved the slide and when it was starting to rain I had to pull her away to find cover. We stocked up on snacks for the 3rd and made Daddy a nice dinner. Steve and I drank Bud Limes and caught up on our Netflix. We love nights like that. Of course you know we ate 1/2 a container of mini peanut butter cups.

Marc traveled down from MA to visit with the C3s and the McCashews on Saturday. The kids slept like they had never slept for their naps and we got a bit of a late start to our trip to Rylan's second birthday party. I dropped the boys a local townie bar before we changed the carseat to the C3 mobile. It's a college bar, so I was really surprised to hear later that they were actually the youngest ones there! Rylan's party was so adorable; Elmo was everywhere, there was so much for the kids to do, and Aimee did an amazing job coordinating everything for such a big crowd. She is Super Mom! Rylan has some really nice friends too and everyone was so nice since Caroline and I hadn't met most of the guests before. We even met a family who lives here in town and their son is two days younger than Caroline. I hope we can meet up sometime! We had such a great time seeing the whole Dos Santos family (we hadn't met Pete yet) and meeting the Valentine Family (Sammy is the most precious baby girl!). Don't worry Chris, you'll get to meet the other Dads at the Blog BBQ in August.

Christina and I met back up with the Dads for a bit and then the boys stayed out for "boys night" while the Moms retired home for baths and bedtime with the kiddies. Steve didn't get home until after 11 and I had to play gatekeeper because he left his key at home. I suppose I could have just left the door unlocked, but something about being alone with the baby and an unlocked door just didn't sit right with me.

This morning we started out with Croissant French Toast at Chateau McCashew and even the kids enjoyed some grapes, french toast and SYRUP. It was so nice to see Marc! and C3s, we definitely need to make a point of seeing more of each other. Christian is so smart, incredible sweet, and such an amazing little boy. Caroline could learn an awful lot from him... like say not kicking poor little Penelope at Rylan's party. I ache for the day when Caroline will be self-sufficient on car rides like Christian is and I will no longer arrive at our destination feeling a bit green from constant amusement from the front to back seat. Soon I hope!

I am supposed to be doing laundry now - but I can't seem to motivate. I even posted a twitter that I was packing to force myself to, but I just can't seem to get going. Maybe after naptime. Maybe after dinner.

We never posted the official before and afters of the kitchen. It doesn't feel quite finished yet. We still have the molding/baseboards and the fridge to go. We decided not to put the old fridge back because we really did a number of the door casings getting it out. We were so careful! I know the people coming to install the new one and haul away the old one won't be nearly as careful as we were. So instead of taking the doors off, squeezing it through, me hyperventilating that we are destroying even more of the casings, we opted to live large with the fridge in the dining room for awhile. Just a few more days and we'll be one step closer to feeling finished... how long until we start plotting the next improvement you ask? a long long time. This is likely the last BIG home improvement project we will take on in this house... unless you count my pipe dream of expanding the upstairs bath to a more reasonable size. (I can almost feel our bank account aching from the pressure of that renovation!) How would we do that you ask? Oh simple, we would take out the closet in the second bedroom, install a new one on the far side of the room, close off the linen closet from hallway and open it into the new bathroom, move the tub against the back wall and relocate the vanity and make it a double (ohhh ahh!). Presto - glorious new bathroom, double the size. Crazy? yes. But we only have one bathroom, so why not MAXIMIZE? =) Bursting my own bubble...

Here's the before and after... now I am off to work off some of this awful caffeine...


Easy/Squash

For those who know us, we find this one highly HIGHLY entertaining, except for the part where I encourage her to throw things by laughing at her (I honestly couldn't help myself)




The next Julia Child - loves her some salt - this one is admittedly way too long, but squash making can't really be confided to under 60 seconds

Word of the Day: Frenum

There was an incident at school yesterday.

I got call towards the end of the day from Sara, which always makes me hold my breath. I found myself saying, “yeah?” over and over while she detailed what I was sure would be a terrible accident resulting in a trip to the ER AND BY GOD she would be accompanying me because HELLO single Mom for the night!!

Caroline and Hannah were playing in a doll sized pack n’ play. Apparently they had been playing in it all morning climbing in and out and at times sitting in it together. Caroline went to climb out at one point (CORRECTION - SHE WAS REACHING OUTSIDE THE PACK N PLAY FOR AN OBJECT) and fell face forward onto the carpet. She bruised her lip and tore (just a slight tear I assure you) her frenum. It’s that little piece of tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums. (Medical terminology courtesy of Kiki.) She was bleeding from the tear, but some TLC and some ice pops helped tremendously and by the time I got there at 4:15 she was playing happily.

Clearly there will be no more climbing in and out of the doll pack n’ play. Doesn’t that go without saying though? I am disappointed that she got hurt doing something so obviously silly and also a bit dangerous, but am relieved that she is ok, save for the Shiloh Jolie-Pitt upper lip she is sporting today. We’ll just call her "Shi" and call it a day.

We didn’t end up going out to dinner because I wanted to get as many Popsicles in contact with that tender lip and frenum as possible before bedtime. We did get take out Eggplant Parm because a. no cooking and b. Daddy isn’t a fan. Caroline sure is though! She loved it and ate just as much of it as I did. Daddy better adjust his tastes because I am sure we will be having it again, sorry Steve.

We went for a nice walk with our neighbor Ann before Caroline settled right down to sleep for me at just about 8, allowing me to get up and close and personal with at least two servings of mini peanut butter cups.
We missed Daddy, but he’s already back in CT and we can’t wait to see him tonight!

Secret Veggie Lover

At pick-up yesterday I nearly tripped over my daughter as I entered her classroom. Caroline was playing right next to the door with a baby doll. She was holding the baby doll on her lap feeding her from a little baby bottle. I kneeled down beside her and asked if she was feeding the baby and her reply was vigorous nodding. I asked her if she could hug the baby and she hugged her up to her head moving her body back and forth. I asked her to kiss the baby and she held the doll to her lips and went “mmmmmah.” God, I love her.

New things that amaze us this week:

"Caroline open your mouth" - opens mouth
"Put this in the wash please" - pjs from bathroom floor get moved quickly to the laundry bin - my own personal laundry fairy - Sundry take notice!
"Put on some music so we can dance" - goes to Fridge Farm and plays "Skip To My Lou"
"Where's your knee" - helped by the fact that she has that boo boo on her knee which apparently she points at all the live long day
Wants to wash Mommy's arms during bathtime, repeatedly points to and hold hand open for baby wash to be poured into her palm
After handwashing knows to dry her hands on a towel and then wants to hang it back up and in the bath removed washcloth from hanging place to wipe face and then hung it back up
Blows into a tissue (thanks to watching me cruise right through about 2000 nose blows this week)
"Roarrrrs" when she sees a photo of a bear in a book or when she sees the bear puppet with her arms up over her head - the cutest growl going
Helps in the kitchen with putting dishes away, bringing her plate from her table to the sink, putting peapods into a bowl while Mommy cuts chicken, mixing the stir-fry
The best is that if she is freaking out about getting something from the fridge you can ALMOST always redirect her to close it IF you ask her to "please help me close the door?!" which I am eternally grateful for and also realize will cease working approximately tomorrow.

Steve is in Albany today and will be there overnight coming back tomorrow at some point. So it is just the girls tonight and I am trying to think of something fun or silly for us to do post school pick-up. We didn’t really do a full grocery shop this week because we were without the stove still on Monday night and Steve was going to be gone and the fridge is still in the dining room and could this explanation be any longer. So I don't really have lots of easy dinner options for myself tonight and frankly, I am sort of not into cooking for both of us tonight. I realized last night when I was packing Caroline’s lunch for today that she doesn’t have any little gladwares of lovingly prepared veggies in the fridge. I felt a twinge of guilt that I was counting her spinach and ricotta ravioli as her veggie, but then I sighed and LET IT GO. She won’t eat them for me anymore, not even her beloved sweet potatoes. I am pretty sure she eats them at school because various caregivers are always telling me that they cannot believe how much she eats. I think by the time dinner rolls around she is so pooped she isn’t interested in eating much, especially not a vegetable. Or perhaps she is a secret veggie lover and just delights in my exasperation when I try again and again to tempt her with green beans and peas & carrots. I have some new recipes I want to try, but part of me just can't put in all that effort if she will just pooh pooh the results. Last night I made a really yummy chicken stir-fry with a pretty mild sauce and she took bites of everything; peppers, peapods, mushrooms, chicken… and then she promptly spit them out. She even wiped her tongue off at one point. I get it kid. You don’t want it. She did go cookoo for the plain brown rice we prepared on the side, and by cookoo I mean using her spoon to shove mouthful after mouthful of rice down her gullet. She is becoming quite a utensil pro which is awesome.

So this is me, letting it go. Someday she will love broccoli, until then I will keep offering them, making googly eyes when I try them falling all over myself with HOW GOOD THEY ARE, and then breathe nice even deep breaths while I sweep up pieces of pepper, mushroom, and chicken from the dining room floor. Maybe we do need a dog afterall?

nothing is safe

What do all of these things have in common?

A deep desire for a Portable DVD player. A cold. New pants. A skinned knee. A locked door. Respect for the Sucktaculars. A new route to the laundry machine. Pride.

...things the McFamily gained this weekend

We met up with the C3 Family on Friday night for dinner and when they heard we were headed to Philly for the weekend they kindly offered their portable DVD player for the ride. So nice of them and Caroline certainly did love it, so much so that we are actively looking for one of our very own. She just didn’t use it on our way to meet TJ.

I woke up with a cold on Saturday morning. We had been watching Caroline who was sniffly and drippy all week and felt assured that she was either no longer sick or that it was just teething. That all changed when I woke up all scratchy with a clogged nose. I called Tasha and laid out the sad abysmal situation and she and Tony opted to understandably postpone the visit. So SO incredibly BUMMED about missing out on chance numero dos to meet Mr. TJ, but we have discussed another date in hopes that we can still arrange a healthier meeting. FOILED AGAIN!!!

Since we were already dressed and packed up for the day & our kitchen was unusable, not to mention that the tile man would be ripping the dreaded and perpetually stained flooring up to install the new tile, we made alternate plans to get the heck out of dodge. Sick or not, home was not the place to be this weekend. Both our stove and fridge still occupy the dining room. (The fridge will be in permanent residence there until July 8th when the brandy new fridge is delivered and they haul away the piece o’crap that is our current cooling unit. Yes, it is that bad. It is more terrible than the 20-year-old version we have in our basement.)

I called my mother at 8:30 thinking for sure that I would be waking her, but she was up for both the call and an impromptu visit. We bee lined it to our neighborhood diner and enjoyed a little French toast breakfast before hitting the road to points North. Nana and Granda were delighted to spend some Q-T with Caroline and put out a lovely impromptu lunch for us to enjoy. Nana and I even braved the heat to take Caroline for a walk, where she fell fast asleep.

We knew we would be eating out for dinner since the kitchen at home was not an option. Feeling adventurous we headed to some outlets on the other side of CT, just about an hour ride from my hometown. We scored some steals including some new pants for me, flips for Caroline, and sadly Colleen – a Nike golf shirt for Steve. Thanks to the GPS we were able to locate a Friendlys up the street for dinner. Caroline she mowed her dinner, my fries, all of her applesauce (solo with the spoon by the way and EFFECTIVELY!), and then delighted in her very first ice cream sundae; a Cone Head in honor of her Uncle Brett who used to order them with extra Reeses on the bottom even when he was way older than 12. To say that she loved it is an understatement. I love that wide eyed “WOW this is delish where has this been all my life look” that kids make when they try something wonderful like ice cream and hot fudge sauce. She was a MESS, but since we had packed for the trip to Philly I had PJs to change her into and she actually fell asleep in the car with about 10 minutes to go paving the way for a nice smooth car to crib transition.

Sunday we tried to get a few things done around the house and keep Caroline occupied while not getting into too much trouble. We made a trip to Home Depot. We mulched. We trimmed hedges. Caroline is fast. Too fast. She was outside with me playing with the hose while I cleaned out the area around the central air unit and I swear on everything that I lost sight of her for less than 10 seconds and she was gone. Mrs. Sucktacular waved frantically to Steve while a bewildered Kerri looked up and around the side yard for a suddenly missing toddler who had found her little merry way to the STREET. Seriously. There are no words (or excuses!) for this. So thanks Sucktaculars version 2.0; less suckage, more neighborliness.

Somewhere along the way our fearless toddler who careens herself places at top speed at all times fell and scraped her little knee. She has scraped them before, but this one was really bad requiring Neosporin and band-aids. Not much we can do in this department though, she’s going to run, she’s going to fall. Short of keeping her in a bubble the only thing I can really do is invest in some Hello Kitty band-aids.

Once all our outdoor manual labor was complete and we were effectively drenched in sweat, the laundry was deemed too icky to let sit and I relived our laundry room days of yesteryear and brought the basket from the front door, through the garage, and down the basement stairs. While I was out changing a load over, Steve was getting our dinner ready. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a dazed toddler standing just outside the front door clutching onto the railing. Yup, we’ve got a door opener. Seriously. Two huge lessons for us in one day – we get it - she needs constant supervision. CONSTANT. I guess I need to come to grips with the fact that there is no getting ahead of her now. She had never opened the front door before! She has been trying to put the key in the lock, but never pulled the door handle. The alert has been raised from orange to red… nothing is safe.

We had our LAST (halleluiah!) picnic style meal in the living room on Caroline’s Ikea table last night. I highly recommend Big Y’s Fish and Chips dinners – so delicious– and Caro loved the tartar sauce. Steve calls her “The Condiment Queen.”

and finally…

Please join me in congratulating Uncle Brett on his new position! He has been promoted to Behavior Detection Officer(BDO).

Incredible Brett – we are so so PROUD of you!!!!

Grady knew!

In case you might be looking for something exciting to follow...

The Grady Chronicles

Our neighbors (whom we absolutely adore) are expecting their first baby in February 2009!
Tomorrow I promise a heart pounding post about babyproofing Phase II, a weekend recap, and perhaps some photos of an almost complete kitchen! We've been living with the fridge in the dining room picnic style since Friday. Good times...

Have you been following Aimee’s Project Say over on Rylan’s blog? It all started with John Mayer and his song Say. After reading her entries about wanting to reach out to the people in her past that she apparently has a lot to say to, I could only think about her project when I heard the song. Later I began thinking about the people in my own life I would campaign all my “sayness” to. I had a few people in mind; one I wanted to apologize to, one who wronged me so so long ago that I never even think about it anymore, and one whose sudden departure from my life perplexes me to this day. Aimee shared that she had written her “Say letters,” but hadn’t yet been able to actually send them off into the universe. I am sharing this to inspire you Aimee, my own “Say” inspiration, to SEND THEM…

I sent my first letter to a friend from graduate school, the details of what happened are not important, but we stopped being friends suddenly, heart wrenchingly. We didn’t speak again from that moment nearly four years ago (wow!) until I sent off my letter… and she wrote back, and I wrote back to her. I am still waiting for her to write back, but I am not sure if she will and really, she might not. I am ok with that. It wasn’t about rehashing, it wasn’t about finding answers, it was communicating to her that I never understood what happened and that it was never my intention to end our relationship. It was about letting her know that I have truly forgiven and forgotten and wished her well in her life, her marriage, her work. My long ago friend is expecting her first baby, a daughter, in August. The sense of peace I feel in knowing that she is well, that she is about to be a mother, that there is no more unresolved tension and sadness, well it is palpable.

My constant advisor Tasha asked me how it felt.

“I know! I don't know where we go if anywhere and I didn't write to her to restart our relationship... This was more of a hey, remember that thing, well, let's just move past it - not on with life because we clearly did that, but past it seems different doesn't it?

I am feeling great about it! There is such an amazing sense of freedom, not closure. Closure was sort of what we had before and how can you ever really truly close the door on friendship? You can't! So yeah, I'm feeling free of all that leftover toxic crap, sort of like I just had on a really amazing pore refining mask for the last 4 years that sort of gets dry and prevents you from opening your mouth or blinking and that these letters just rinsed it all off and WOW my pores feel awesome --- how's that?"

Aimee, send them… It feels AMAZING!

I want her to stay

When I picked Caroline up from school yesterday afternoon, her little friend Damien was picking up toys and putting them in their bins. I complimented him on what a good job he had done and he informed me that he wasn’t done yet (another reason I bow before the day care teachers – PICKING UP!!!) He was trying to tell me something which I couldn’t really understand and when I looked to the teacher for help, she was not even sure what he was saying. She did tell me that it was his last day in Caroline’s room because he was graduating to pre-school. I listened closer and he said, “I read to Caroline.” I thanked him for reading to her and asked him if he wanted to give her a hug goodbye, which he executed with such cuteness that it got ohhs and ahhs from passing parents and teachers.

D: “I want her to stay!”

K: “If she stays here will you take her home with you?”

D: “NO!”

K: “She’d have to stay her all by herself all night?”

D: Nods.

K: “Don’t you think she would be lonely?”

D: Nods.

K: “Then I guess I will have to take her home with me.”

D: “OK” Waves goodbye and walks away.

Seriously so sweet, but what would I have done if he said he WOULD take her home?

Have I mentioned yet that we are cautiously optimistic that we will be traveling to Philly this weekend to meet TJ!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome Zachary!

An early morning email message came across the wires today announcing the arrival of Zachary! Paul and Erica, whom we met in Boca, who moved to CT (just down the ROAD!) around the same time as we did and are amazing wonderful people are now amazing wonderful parents!

Zachary Paul arrived via c-section at 6:15 and tipped the scales at 7 lbs. 12 oz. Tell me, is this not an amazing moment sent via blackberry?


CONGRATULATIONS PAUL & ERICA!!!

The ears are A-OK. My intuitive daughter Caroline must have clued into my nervous laughter as I explained to the pediatrician that she had been pulling on the ears and had a bit of a cold because she reached her right hand up and yanked just before the exam. God bless her! This made me feel a tad less crazy to bring her in, but nonetheless, we are ear infection and fluid free. Chalk this one up to plain old teething. Added bonus; a week’s worth of commuting in just one day! Woo hoo! At $4.30 a gallon it was good times!

Drop off
Commute to work
Pick Up
To the Doc
Drop Off
Commute to work
Pick up
Drive Home

After all that driving the only logical thing to do was to have tacos for dinner (enjoyed by ALL- she especially enjoyed the refried beans!) and then check out a concert on the green just down the street from our house. We enjoyed some beautiful summer weather on our family blanket (Thanks Colleen!). The music was show tunes by the Community Band and while they weren’t the best I ever heard, they weren’t the worst either. Caroline danced to West Side Story, if you can categorize squatting halfway and bouncing dancing. I have some cute photos I will post of her clapping and doing her own little baby boogie.

The concert totally tuckered her out. She didn’t even need a single story, just a snuggle, a kiss on the forehead and wish for “sweet baby dreams.”

Steve made it through the entire Celtics game, which will surprise no one I am sure. I opted to fall asleep in the third quarter when the Celtics were running away with it because honest to God I was so tired that I felt like I had been drinking all night. We had not had a single glass of anything, just a fistful each of those perfect little peanut butter cups. I think it will early to bed for the whole McFam tonight. Am I the only one thankful that these 9PM starts are OVER?

I would imagine that Uncle Hokie, the biggest C’s fan I know, is a very happy but tired guy today!

Cursing the weather gods

There were scary storms forecasted for our area yesterday afternoon, but they just didn’t seem to be happening, so after Caroline woke up from her long afternoon’s nap we had a quick snack and hopped into the car. We were lucky enough to hang with an about to be a new mommy any minute Erica at a really amazing playground down the street from her house. We pushed her on the swings as long as her toddler attention span would allow and then negotiated the playset together; me walking her up a ramp, Erica coaxing her through a tube and across a footbridge, me holding her on the slide, Erica catching her on the bottom. Later I realized that Erica had been somehow climbing a very steep step to get to the footbridge and tube and I cannot imagine how she was able to do that given the fully developed baby in her belly! She is really trying to kick start her labor – her official due date is July 1. We had such a nice little play session with her, but it was muggy and not the best conditions for a toddler or an expectant Mom to be out in, so we headed home. Thanks Erica! We are really looking forward to spending more time with you and your new baby boy at that park again!

As we drove up the Merritt the skies changed from sunny to grey and the wind came up out of nowhere, but still no storm.

We ate dinner and watched the trees rustle in the wind and enjoyed the cool breeze from the windows, but yet still not a storm in sight.

We played in the tub, got dressed in our Ariel jimmies, brushed our teeth, read three books and got drowsy enough for bedtime all before 7:15, and of course the storm made its appearance and it was raging mad.

It was violent, loud, with pelting rain that fell directly onto her roof (there’s no attic over her room). We sat downstairs watching the storm, sure we would lose power (we didn’t) with me cursing the weather guards shaking my weather.com following fist at the sky muttering “you were supposed to be here at four! Four!!!!”

Of course it woke Caroline from her not too deep sleep, her and the entire neighborhood of little ones I am sure. I took her downstairs with us and we snuggled in her blanket. She held onto my fingers with all her might as the thunder pounded and the lightening lit up the sky.

She was wiped, but awake and it took several attempts to get her back to sleep, but eventually after a sad standing crying bout in her crib, she zonked in Steve’s arms almost as soon as he scooped her up.

We had wake ups calls at midnight, 2, 4:30, and then our official good morning at 5:30. Each time she was able to soothe herself back to sleep without us getting up, but Steve retrieved her at 5:30 and she was wide awake and rearing to go. The entire family was dressed, fed and watching the Today show before 7:30.

I made an appointment for an ear check this morning just to be sure because she’s been sneezy and drippy for the past couple days and pulling on her ears a little. Where there is a drippy nose, an ear infection is sure to be lurking. We’ve been on the fence about making an appointment for a few days. Her teeth are still taking their time coming through and she has been eating and sleeping well, with the exception of last night, so I don’t really expect her to have an ear infection, but you just never know with Caroline. Better safe than sorry.

Of course I also have my support group to facilitate this afternoon, so I had to make an appointment for this morning. That means I need to pick her up at 10:30, go to the appointment here near my office, drive her back to school, drive back to work. Not the most convenient plan, but necessary for our peace of mind

It was the beady little eyes that did it for her

More from the zoo...

As I sat with Steve at the end of the day, after bedtime, with Tiger playing the 18th hole one back from the leader (I called his shot going in by the way - never ever doubt Tiger) I couldn't help but smile thinking about the terrific day we had.

After seeing the live bunnies at the zoo and saying "look at the bunnies" more than was socially appropriate, Caro can now identify the bunny in her books when we ask her "where's the bunny?" For those keeping track that is four animals we can identify, more to come I am sure.

The peacock. Can we talk some more about the peacock? We saw it as we walked up the hill towards the carousel, feathers spread beautifully, and looking so majestic. I pointed wildly with such excitement, but my daughter just couldn't join in my elation. She clung to me, sucked her thumb like a madwoman, and was at first just unsure, then a la Sundry's son Riley - suspicious, and then when I attempted to put her feet to the ground crouching beside her she cowered into me holding onto my leg. She was downright petrified of that peacock and when it did sqwauk she really did race into my arms, flinging her arms around my neck, whimpering and crying real honest to goodness tears.

I was both surprised and delighted. Surprise came from her reaction which I never in a thousand years could have anticipated. Delight was from the fact that this moment may have been the first when she was really truly frightened of something and found safety in my arms. Sure, she's been nervous and asks to be picked up, but this was somehow different and it felt so amazing to be able to offer safety and reassurance to my baby girl. I wondered to myself what exactly I would do if that peacock suddenly charged at us, but laughed it off until later when another mom stopped by us with her ten month old and the peacock started making some scary purring noise which made us look at each other and book the heck out of "Peacock Place."

Happy Daddy's Day

King for the Day Steve is celebrating Father's Day just the way he wants; sleeping in, enjoying a delish breakfast (eggs beat by Caroline), opening gifts of both the homemade and electronic variety, going to the Beardsley Zoo (where Dads got in free today!), and then settling in to watch the Sox, Tiger, AND the Celtics.

We got up and out to the Zoo first thing this morning! While it was quite muggy out, we arrived home just before the sky opened up. So the good news is that we weren't caught in the storm. The bad news is that it is probably 10 degrees cooler out there now which would have been much more pleasant for strolling through the exhibits!

Caroline had a great time overall!

Loved: The wolf, the bear, the tigers, the turkey, the bunnies, the Bird Show
Was Terrified of: The Peacock (as in seriously grabbing onto us and crying when it made a noise), the alligator sculpture, the cow

{Edited for clarification}
She did muster up enough courage to allow a bird to take her donation from her hand post live bird show. The bird placed her dollar into a collection bucket and she said "uh oh," which we think is just perfectly Caroline.

Here's a couple shots of our fun mid morning!
Happy Father's Day to all!



Where's Uncle Hokie?

Uncle Hokie would be Auntie C's fiance' Greg, who very early in Caroline's life was given the moniker by Auntie K and it has totally stuck, even more so than we thought Cash would. I am unsure how he even feels about this nickname.

Recently we received in the mail two shutterfly photo books I created for Caroline with all the people in her life that love her; aunts, grands, great grands, friends like Ryan. She has been flipping through it, mostly pointing to Steve and saying Dada, or pointing at me and saying Dada.

Yesterday on our way home from school she was flipping through and I was asking her "Where's Kiki?" "Where's Granda?" "Where's Uncle Hokie?" BANG - she flipped right to the all Auntie C and Uncle Hokie page and pointed him out looking up at me from her carseat from some praise.

I called Colleen and Kiki to share the story and while we will have to keep at it practicing everyone else's name and pointing them out - it does seem that "the little minx" (Steve calls her this all the time)has quite an affinity for her soon to be real life Uncle Greg.

Related Note: At Kiki's urging I am going to contact Shutterfly because what a great idea this book is! More parents, especially those that see family less frequently as we do, should be keen to this!

Superglued to her seat

You know how much we are loving our little Red IKEA Caroline sized table. Apparently there is a new reason to love it even more.

We keep noticing that when we sit her down at her table, either by plopping her in the seat and pushing it in or convincing her with a snack, her princess cup, or toys that she stays put. In fact, she will sometimes look at us with a very whiney face and half stand looking at us, pleading us to please release her from her seat. It isn’t as if she cannot get down herself, quite the contrary.

Steve quickly suggested that perhaps this was a learned behavior from school. So I asked Sara at drop off one morning about the table rules while Caroline mowed her second breakfast of the day. She shared that yes, they try to keep the kids sitting down at the table while they eat. I wanted to kiss her.

Thanks be the school, my child will sit in a chair without straps, without argument, and in her own little whining language will ask me if she may be excused.

Checking her serial number...

I don't know how you stay at home Moms are doing it in this heat. I am a bit gun shy about spending too much time outside after "the dehydration." Monday, my day off, I was in a panic about how to keep cool and keep us entertained, because spending more than 8 hours staring at each other at home was not feeling like fun for either of us.

We went to Target to exchange an improperly sized shirt (hanger size - 18 months, actual size 2T). We were there around 10AM, well before the heat of the day and the parking lot was already packed. I was clearly not the only Mom who said, "ohhh Target, browsing and air conditioning." We didn't last too long. We didn't really have anything to buy and I know I am not the only one who can easily come with a $50 cartful when free to roam Target's aisles of bargains. We stopped at the library on our way home, but the parking lot was so full I couldn't even find a spot, so I bagged it and immediately began to fear for my sanity.

On our way home, Caroline was already rubbing her eyes and yawning and it was just past 11AM. I stalled her with a snack and some books before she settled in for her nap. I thought we might go back out, but the thought of roasting in the car en route to whatever crowded air conditioned place we might find and then roasting again on the way back just didn't seem like any fun at all. We did go play with the hose outside for a bit, but even the hose was squirting nothing but hot water.

We colored. We swaddled and fed the baby dolls. We built block towers. We had many snacks and many cups of water and juice. One of us changed our outfit secondary to a blowout and then the other one did a load of laundry. We deposited diaper contents into the potty many times over. We swiffered the entire house. We danced. We played with the Staples Easy Button. We got incredibly sick of each other.

Yesterday did reveal some cute things though. Caroline figured out which drawer has all the snacks and how to open it. So she now reaches in, grabs the cookie bag, closes the drawer and brings them to us. She will even go sit at her table and wait for you to get one out for her. Very cute, except that now we find ourselves constantly saying "no cookies right now. All done."

After a successful swiffer session we did a high five and I said "yay" and a little echo said "yay" back. My heart melted. I still cannot capture Caroline picking up the phone and saying "hi daddy," but she does it all the time now. AND the nodding, oh that is my favorite. She opens her eyes really wide and nods her head up and and down. She'll bring a book over and we'll ask her "do you want Mommy to read that with you?" Nodding. She'll be clearly done with dinner, "are you all done?" Nodding while handing plate to grown up. She'll even nod when you are doing something she wants you to do, like get her a cookie for instance. She'll sit there at her table nodding away while you wrestle with the ziploc.

It was nice to spend so much time just with her, not running errands, not playing in the park, not going for a walk, but just being in her presence. By 3pm though, we were clearly "all done" with trying to amuse ourselves in the house and I began to clock watch for that mythical time when Daddy would be home to rescue me from the non-stop cookie requests, the begging to go outside to the inferno that was our completely unshaded backyard, the hitting & disciplining, the banging on fridge for more juice. She collapsed finally mercifully in my arms for a cat nap just before 5. It was dangerous, it should have been avoided at all costs, but I was too wiped to fight it. She ate like a champ; mac and cheese with her spork. She didn't love her bath, I think I may have made it a bit too cool, and when books had been read and it was bedtime she looked up at me and laughed out loud. She wretched in our arms, moaned, sniffled, and fought bedtime with every ounce of herself. We instantly thought, "oh no, ear infection." The jury is still out, but she has been eating well, drinking ok, and sleeping fine once she gets there, so it doesn't seem like ears, maybe just teeth still?

It was nearly 9:30 before she fell asleep, with her legs extended out through the crib bars, but I wasn't going in there to tempt fate. The alarm sounded from her room at 5:30 this morning when she woke us all. I gated the stairs, fetched a cup of milk, and attempted to get my eyes to focus on the TV for the forecast of yet another day of intense heat. Are the schools closing early everywhere else?

Remember those pictures you voted on?

They are up in the contest gallery. I located one quite by accident on page 2oo and something ludicrous! I remembered that I submitted on the very first day so I took a stab in the dark that I would be near the end. Lots and lots and lots of entries. Even if we don't make the cut for the finals (and how could we honestly, look at all these great photos!) it is fun to be included up there for all to see.

File this under how to waste half a day at work - there are enough photos to keep you busy browsing for weeks and more and more are being added each day...so it's not too late shutterbugs! A panel of judges will select just 120 for consideration by online voters later this month.

Once I found one photo, I was able to see all three entries (I tossed in one extra that I took post blog vote) and I bumped them up to lucky number 13 views so I could locate them again...

EDITED: (the view counters were reset, but I was able to locate them again using the same principle of looking at the end)

http://www.ashtonsd60.com/gallery.aspx#/?category=all&sort=latest&page=582&image=35
http://www.ashtonsd60.com/gallery.aspx#/?category=all&sort=latest&page=582&image=36
http://www.ashtonsd60.com/gallery.aspx#/?category=all&sort=latest&page=582&image=3277

Sans Steve

Steve has had a very hectic week and was actually away for “a corporate event” aka golf this week, which necessitated an overnight away from home. I actually encouraged him to just ask about booking a hotel because otherwise it meant driving up to MA two days in row and that is just silly. For the record, he DID offer, he always does.His absence is always felt and recognized not just by me, but also by Caroline and of course “Titty.”

I used to fear those rare nights away because it meant that I would feel utterly useless; flailing about the house with the use of only one arm, attempting to bathe and burp solo, and convince a baby that it was indeed “time to go night night, time to go to bed, time to close your eyes, time to rest your head.” I don’t necessarily welcome Mommy Only parenting nights now, but I do feel more confident. I can simultaneously prepare both the next day’s lunch and tonight’s dinner all while entertaining my toddler. I sit down and eat a decent meal from start to finish and she does the same. We slurp a Popsicle together while watching the Be Our Guest song from Beauty and the Beast (note: did not go over nearly as well as the Lion King because HELLO TALKING CLOCKS & CANDLESTICKS??). She brings book after book and I read them all before the announcement that it is time for her tub and we retire to the upper regions of the house for a look at weather.com, to pick outfit out for the following day, and fill the bathtub. Seamless. Without incident. Pleasant. These are all words I could use to describe these our night sans Steve.

I could also say lonesome, quiet, confusing (as in what channel are any of the shows on, I just don’t know!!!!! HELP ME!!!). Caroline fell asleep almost as soon as her bath was over and I was left to clean up the remaining evidence of the two hours we spent together; her stuffed bunny lying in the middle of the living room, a sand shovel by the door, her blanket hung from the back of a dining room chair. It was quiet and I relived our little “girls night.” I thought of how she gripped onto me when I was rinsing a dish and asked her for a kiss and she kissed me, well sort of anyway, and there was no one to share it with. She never did that before. I remembered texting twitter because she nodded yes when I asked her if she wanted more because I was so proud of her, but again, no one real to say “our child is brilliant!” with. I dressed her for bed unable to make her laugh the same way Daddy does. I smiled remembering her face when I held up the phone for her to “talk to Daddy” and she appeared so startled that she looked at it with big doe eyes before leaning her head into the receiver and saying “hiii daadaa.” (For the record, I DID prompt her on that one.)

After my baby had long been asleep and I was already 1.5 episodes into “Windsor Castle, A Royal Year” on public television (yes, seriously Steve, that is what I watched in your absence – well that and Top Chef) I looked around, looked down at my stretched out but icy feet and missed my husband. It’s just no fun when he isn’t around, even if it does mean PBS and Top Chef and all the mini peanut butter cups I can eat.

Round and round we go.

We are still trying to sort through exactly what happened yesterday and last night and the best answer I can come up with is that teething combined with 100 degree temps had a nasty effect on poor Caroline. She is still getting those molars and eye teeth and it has been quite unpleasant for her. In the morning she was noticeably warm, but had no temp so we chalked it up to teething and went on our merry way.

We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with Sammy Abair and family who were spending some time at Jesse’s mother’s house not too far from us. We finally got to meet the handsome flirt in person and what a charmer!

Since we were so close to my parent’s house we made plans to meet them for dinner locally. Just as we were preparing to go, Caroline was suddenly burning up, red faced, unhappy and hot hot hot. She was not interested in water or juice so after a quick dose of ibuprofen and with some effort I coaxed her to sleep. Those twenty minutes or so in the car resting did her a world of good, so off we went to meet up with Nana and Granda. She was herself again, imitating Nana’s sounds and faces, shoveling ravioli down her gullet, but still not at all interested in her liquids. We stopped on the way to the restaurant and got some pedialyte because I was concerned she was not hydrated and was refusing to drink.

At 10:30 when I opened her door to check on her, she was awake, she wouldn’t tolerate the temperature taking, but the premature reading was over 100. She was burning up and yes, her room was sufficiently cool. More ibuprofen and cuddles, but no sleep. She was up rearing to go and any mention of “night night” “beddy bye” “sleep” sent her into hysterics. We went downstairs and chewed on frozen bread. We watched Noggin – this is why they must now be on 24 hours a day for which I say HOORAH. We snuggled under a blanket with her wearing only her diaper. Mommy and Daddy had droopy tired eyes, but Caroline was rearing to go; laughing, shrieking, bouncing up and down. You’ve never seen such an exhausted, feverish, happy kid!

Shortly after 1:00 AM I finally convinced her through lullaby after mind numbing lullaby that it was indeed a good idea to sleep. We haven’t had a night like this in some time, but they creep up on you, reminding you that just in case you thought you had it all figured out, that you have no idea and absolutely no control.

I lay in bed, wide awake, Steve falling off to sleep beside me feeling so terrible that my baby had suddenly and unexplainably had such a fever and such a bad night. WebMD was calling, but I was too tired to investigate. My Mom Diagnosis is something heat or hydration related. Though she had been in the pool most of the afternoon, she had still been sitting outside in the heat not drinking anything.

Nights like these remind of the endless walking and bouncing and taking turns for 10 minutes we did during the period of time we refer to around these parts as “The Newborn Coma.” Suddenly I was not just feeling badly, but also feeling fearful. If we ever do grow our family, forget about getting through labor, how would we ever get through the Coma again? How would Caroline cope with the waking and crying of a new sister or brother? Suddenly – thinking about another baby (NOT THAT WE ARE SERIOUSLY THINKING - LET'S JUST GET THAT OUT THERE!) became even scarier than thinking about a first baby. Suddenly – one only child baby didn't seem all that bad.

Until you wake up the next day and that same crying, feverish, refusing to sleep baby is now refreshed and cool to the touch and drinking cup after cup of milk, water, AND pedialyte, playing outside with the hose in the shade looking so deliciously adorable in her pleated pink shirt that your ovary suddenly bursts and you cannot imagine NOT having another baby.

Curse you NATURE.

In other somewhat related news… Steve allowed me the privilege of sleeping in this morning probably as my door prize for successfully tricking her into sleep. As repayment for his courtesy, I mowed the lawn for him. it is an amazing workout, maybe even the best workout I have had in a full year. Lest you think this might be something I would do again, perhaps on Father’s Day, let me warn you, it is also SO NOT WORTH IT! Don’t be duped!!! Sweat was dripping into my eyes (which STINGS!), I sweat through my shirt, and my hands are sore and callused. My body is still recovering hours later. I could use another nap, but I am off to the grocery to fill the family fridge for the week while my pleated skirt wearing first born hopefully sleeps off any remaining pieces of what we will henceforth refer to as "the dehydration."

Rereading that paragraph sort of brings it all into perspective. We were such newbies then during those late night bounce and sing sessions, too many in a night could bring me to the brink of tears making me think more than once, "what did I do to my life?" I laugh at the old Steve and Kerri, who were trying desperately to hold it together perfectly, to not make one single mistake. Last night we not only fed our daughter in the middle of the night, we also turned on the tv for her and those are both regarded as "not such a good idea" by the parenting public. Last June I would have never imagined us doing that, but we did what we needed to do to calm her down, soothe her gums, cool her off, and keep her quiet because we know that once all those things are done she is more likely to reluctantly drift off to sleep. This morning was such a gift. It has been ages since I have woken up on my own - to roll over and look at the clock and not the video monitor. Old Steve and Kerri were always respectful, but I think we have reached new heights. He knows I can't nap during the day, he knows he can. He knew I would make the space in the day for him to snooze (which he is in the middle of now). I knew he didn't want to particularly mow the lawn today. I knew he wouldn't want me to. I knew it needed to be done. This is how we show each other we care. It isn't always chocolates and roses.

Big girls can make up their own minds

I think I need to remember that sometimes I don’t necessarily dictate bedtime to my daughter. Sometimes Kerri, it isn’t really up to you when your baby girl wants to go to bed. I know those statements read funny and you are wondering if this is maybe a rant about a little girl in Red Sox pajamas refusing to go to sleep and me saying, “whatever kiddo, want some mini peanut butter cups?” But it’s not.

I tried reading three books the other night at bedtime and Caroline was having none of it. She slammed shut the book of Baby Faces. She tossed the Belly Button Book just as I got to the good part about Belly Button Beach. She crunched my fingers between the covers of The Lorax. Thinking that I was in for a short routine of bouncing, singing, shhing, and you guessed it- tush thumping I rolled my eyes and tried to cradle her into me. The back arching, thrashing, “no, mommy, no” looks did not come. Instead she snuggled close, closed her eyes, and inserted her thumb.

File this under DUH. Maybe your daughter is exhausted from a busy day of tunnel crawling and kitty chasing. Maybe she can actually decide when she is tired all by herself. Just maybe she is growing up.

Less than six degrees of separation

A random email arrived in my inbox yesterday asking about a potential Boston College connection found via digital photo. “Why, yes” I answered not recognizing the emailer’s name. Long story made incredibly short…

She lives in same town as we do and recently signed up for a local Mom’s group. That is how she stumbled upon the photo of our family at Alumni Stadium. We joked about our little Eaglets and come to find out she and Steve graduated the same year! (I KNOW!!!) I shared that I had thought she had been referring to a photo from our albums here at McCashew and not the other Mom Group site. That led to the big reveal that I have a blog – and she said she had a blog and this is what I discovered…

She knows Sammy Valentine (In real life!)– who I found through Rylan – who I found through C3 Family – who ALSO has a spouse that graduated from Boston College the same exact year

Did you follow that? Apparently all roads lead to BC??

She and her husband, who live down the street practically, just welcomed a handsome and completely edible son Ethan… you can read more about the Littlest Loban Ethan here.

Howdy Neighbor!

The Next Food Network Star is...

Suddenly overnight there is a mommy’s little helper living in my house. I have detailed here often how Caroline is at times my shadow, particularly in the morning when I ask her over and over to “help Mommy dry her hair.” We noticed recently that when we are making dinner she really wants to watch. Sometimes she stands supervised on her chair next to the counter and watches dinner unfold. Other times we simply hold her in our arms while the other chops, mixes, flips, or sautés. The highchair only goes so far because she wants to be intimately involved in the watching and helping. These methods work when we are a family of three, but not so much on Mommy & Caroline solo days.

Noting how often she copies things that I do these days I set off on Cooking 101. About 20 seconds in, I wished that I had set up the video camera to capture her culinary efforts because it is impossible that she could have been any cuter. I sliced up zucchini and summer squash and then set out a cookie sheet, some olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and two spoons on the new Caroline sized table. I took a few slices of veggies and put them on the sheet and she went to town placing them one after another all clustered up in the tiny corner nearest her. I oiled them lightly and then poured some salt into the palm of my hand. I showed her how to sprinkle the salt between her fingers. I ground the pepper and let her shake the grinder at the end. She raced off towards the cutlery drawer, but when I told her that I already had a spoon and held it up for her to see, she came dashing back and helped me mix it all up. Bingo Bango, Caroline the chef…

I am planning on indulging and encouraging her culinary impulses, though now that she has helped she ALWAYS wants to help and it gets pretty messy. She really seems to enjoy it, even if the results of her efforts are not wholeheartedly acceptable for dinner. The most amazing thing about what must read like boring dinner prep to the rest of the world is that I was doing this with my daughter, not for her, but together. She watched me, she imitated me, she made her own dinner. Truly a first.

Water obsessed, except for when she isn't

At school, it is the kid-sized sinks. At home, it is the bathtub & the kitchen sink. Outside with friends, it is the water table. At the beach, it is her direction for Poppa to please fill this adorable watering can for the upteenth time. Caroline loves water.

I took her outside to set up the sprinklers to feed our more brown than green lawn. She was enamored with them, pointing at the water spraying, reaching out to touch the mist. I looked across the driveway at the car which I am quite sure was last washed in 2006 and thought; she would love to help wash the car. Fatal parenting assumption.

I took her inside to fetch the bucket, the sponge, the spray nozzle and as soon as I started filling the bucket instead of leaning in close to inspect the bucket filling she raced away in the opposite direction, up the front steps and started banging on the door to go in. That might not sound so bad, but this is the same child who is constantly non-stop banging on the other side of the door to get outside. It is all outside, all the time, lately.

She wanted nothing to do with the washing. The spraying terrified her. What did she like? Playing in the dirty puddle created by the rinsing. Nice.

Chalk this one up to a common parenting error; “My child will absolutely love this!” They rarely love what we think they will do they?

Extended Weekend

I think the most depressing thing about Tuesday is that I have to recap all the fun we had on the weekend. Even though it is already Tuesday and we are seemingly almost halfway through the week, the weekend feels like it is forever away. Part of this I know has to do with my weekly Tuesday To Do List at work with approximately 30 items, but an even bigger part is that when we have a really great weekend, especially one at home, we are so sad that it is over.

So what did the McFamily do this past weekend? We went to MA of course!

Saturday morning, under threat of thunderstorms and violent wind, we traveled north to spend some time with friends. We took in the Sam Adams brewery tour, sampled exactly 21 oz (including one that was kind of "hammy"), enjoyed hot dogs and hummus, and sipped perfectly poured Guinness Stouts at the Brendan Behan Pub.

Where was Caroline? She was flirting with her Uncle Hokie, banging on the fridge in the midst of what we were told was an alarming food binge, taking a bath courtesy of Auntie K and Poppa, and being loved loved loved by Kiki and Auntie C.

Caroline had a great day and her parents were stoked to be able to talk to friends without minding a nosy toddler, though conversation inevitably spilled over to various kid related discussions not limited to ovulation, epidurals, diaper costs, and baby room décor. With another set of newbie parents, it was unavoidable. This is what is happening in our life… I can’t talk shop so much, but I can engage in a discussion about the joys of wholesale diaper prices. I did manage to listen in on some Lost speculation (we have it all "dvr’d" since Caroline was born, maybe we can catch up over the summer?) and chat about the Democratic Primary process all while putting out fires about a certain someone’s gross inability to register to vote for unwarranted and frankly silly reasons. (N’yah!)

Sunday was gorgeous and we shook our heads because once again we were leaving on the best day of the weekend. Steve suddenly realized that he needed to be back up to the Boston area the following day for a two-hour meeting and before we knew it we were headed to Kohl’s to find pants and shoes suitable for work. With purchases in tow – none for me and I even managed to fight the desire to purchase an adorable Carter’s sunsuit with strawberries for Caro – we were able to enjoy a walk on the beach, some great playtime in the sand, a quick summer storm, and a dinner with family (that includes you Mrs. Mac!) on the deck overlooking the ocean. What a day! What a treat! Can we plan more Monday morning Boston area meetings for Steve?

On Monday Kiki drove Caroline and I up to Framingham to meet Steve, but not before we made a pit stop at TJs for a case of wine each and some amazing candy. I am beyond addicted to the mini peanut butter cups (serving size 27 pieces, I kid you not!) and I think I may be dashing back soon to pick up my own supply of milk chocolate coconut delights.

A chunk of the mid day was driving home, but then Caroline and I were able to enjoy the afternoon together; playing outside, washing my car (more on that later!), setting up the sprinklers to feed our parched lawn, and saying “Hi, Kitty.” Yup. She says it. Amazing.

Baby's Best Friend

Caroline got some quality time with her favorite 4 legged animal on Earth, Grady, tonight. Our neighbors graciously hosted a little evening hang out at their place and we all had a great time, but Caroline was over the moon from start until almost finish (there was a general sense of being way past done and super tired at the end of our visit). Grady is our neighbor's fantastical yellow lab and he was so gentle and good with her. She wanted to throw his tennis ball for him to retrieve, pet him, and just be close to him. Unlike the cat, he didn't run away when she approached which must have thrilled her to no end; an furry friend for her to adore! It was so so sweet to see her playing with him, especially since she spends a good part of the week meandering over to their front lawn to wave hello to him from the driveway.

Caroline may or may not have also spent some time digging in their yard with her pail and shovel. Whoops. She was mystified by their fire pit and despite my insistence that it was "hot," which she echoed "haawt," she inched ever closer before settling into my lap for a brief moment. We left when she started to officially lose it and though we contemplated sleeping her in her playclothes, she was awake and alert so into her new Ariel PJ's she went. I am happy to report that after an evening of fun she fell asleep within moments of landing in her crib and we haven't heard a peep since.

As a side note we made the most amazing italian panini sandwiches tonight - recipe follows...

Italian Panini Sandwiches, Cooking Light

1 French Bread, sliced in half lengthwise and hollowed to 1/2 inch on each side
3 oz thin prosciutto
1 cup fresh mozzarella, sliced thin or shredded
2 plum tomaties, sliced thin OR thin slices of roasted red peppers
2 TBL chopped fresh basil
4 TBL mayo

Slice and hallow Bread
Spread 2 TBL mayo on each half of bread
Sprinkle basil on bottom half of bread only
Layer 1/2 cup cheese
Layer proscuitto
Layer tomatoes OR peppers
Layer remaining cheese

Put bread together, slice into 4 pieces

Grill in grill pan with weight about 3 minutes each side OR in Panini for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted

Delish, fresh, and perfect for a summer night with a cold beer and a fresh salad