The Little Red Chair

I've said before that during dinner prep I often pull out one of the dining room chairs with the side arm rests for Caroline's sous chef duties; playing with a spoon in the sink or breaking green beans in half and putting them into a bowl. Yesterday after dinner she pulled her own little chair over to the counter and stood on the seat all by herself. Now, while I am loving that she wants to be involved and that she can generalize that her chair and the dining room chairs are both chairs, I am not so impressed with the complete safety hazard this presents. I moved her chair beneath my work space in an attempt to make it a smidge safer, but really, I'm not trying to kid anyone, I know it isn't a good idea. Since I started it, I will have to figure a way around it.

As I was washing the mornings dishes and drying them (who wants to empty the clean dishwasher in the morning? not me!), Caroline pulled her little red chair over to the counter and stood up on it to get a better view of what was happening. She handed me the fork to dry and opened the child locked drawer as much as the little child lock allowed to pull out a roll of scotch tape. When I had put the dishes in a neat dry pile, I said "all done" and we did a little high five to thank her for her help. She pulled the drawer open its 2 inches and deposited the tape right where she had found it, hopped down off the chair and began pushing it all over the house. I took that time to put our lunches into our respective bags, turn off the lights, look around the cluttered dining room and sigh, and then announced, "ok, time to go to school!" She took off with her chair through the living room, past the dining room table, and into the kitchen where she deposited it perfectly in place under its matching red table.

I followed her to the door shaking my head at this little perfectionist I have created and was met with a pointing frantic little miss asking for her "hat." She pulled it on herself and even tried to do the velcro solo before she began reaching for the door handle to head off on her day.

Is the perfectionist behavior a girl thing? or am I destined for a preschooler who has to have her crayons put away in the box according to the colors of the rainbow and have her sheets tucked just so before she can settle into sleep? Not that I ever did/do those things! I secretly love my perfectionista who enjoys putting things away, throwing things in the trash (though I wish she wouldn't remove her drawings from the fridge, crumple them, and toss them!), lining up her baby dolls, putting her new princess board books back into the packaging they came in "just so," and who this morning after finding an old bag of veggie potato sticks promptly ate the remains and then threw the ziploc away all by herself.

For any working mom (part, full, or otherwise) the best part of the entire day is the Daily Daycare Pickup. Pulling into that parking lot used to inspire anxiety. Had she eaten well? Did she sleep? Had she been sad? Now, I pull up that winding road and push pause on the Sirius and a big smile erupts on my face. I know that once I use that long ago memorized code to open school's door I will be met with children's drawings hanging from the ceiling, the buzz of playtime, the daily trash sitting neatly outside each classroom ready to be taken away. I know that when I reach the fifth door on my right I will have a moment to watch her. I love that moment, the one before she realizes that I am there. Watching her interacting with Giani or Ryan or sitting on the floor with a book or in the arms of one of the afternoon caregivers, it makes me see how much she enjoys her days. And, juusttt when I begin to think, wow, she has so much fun here and what does that mean for me she turns and catches sight of me and races to find her cup.

Yesterday at pick-up she couldn't find it right away so she stood in the center of the room and did the "I don't know" gesture with her hands. When she did find it sitting on a nearby table she raced over to the cubbies, pulled down her bag, placed it inside, looked up at me and said "up." I knealt down and felt her hands tighten around my neck and I covered her in kisses.

"So, did she have a good day?"

The answer is almost always yes, but despite that, she still misses me and no matter how much fun she was having, she always gets her cup and moves to the door to head home for our favorite time of the day together; greeting Daddy at the door. "Hi, daddy."

Drop it for the DVD

We’ve discovered something that might be dangerous. It’s not a reachable oven knob – though we are about to just remove them altogether when we aren’t cooking. (I think the knob gurads would be as interesting or MORE than the actual knobs.) It’s not even a sharp corner of a table or a precarious little corner perfect for hiding in, but too hard to get out of without hitting your head. We, or should I say Caroline, discovered Nemo.

We try to limit Caroline’s TV watching to early mornings when no one can fathom being awake enough yet to entertain a toddler, small snippets of Noggin, or 15 minutes of a DVD. It’s no secret that Caroline has a thing for fish, so not long ago I started putting in Finding Nemo instead of The Lion King (don’t worry – he’ll make a triumphant return someday!) and WHAM! She’s hooked.

Somehow we have narrowly escaped the clutches of the Disney Princesses, though I am sure that in a few short months she will be clamoring for Belle or Ariel or Snow White. I’ll have no one to blame for that but myself, I just can't help but fuel the Disney Fire! We don’t yet own Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or The Little Mermaid (I know!! I know!!), but what kind of mother to my own personal princess would I be if we missed the time between available and "in the vault?" I hate "the vault" time limited pressure. At twenty bucks a pop, these princess movies are awfully pricey. I have shown restraint thus far mainly because she's not been all that interested in Belle.

Yesterday when we replenished our diapers and wipes for the month at BJs, I found a Disney Princess collection of 4 little board books – Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast. I reluctantly cracked Cinderella thinking it would be “Cinderella Makes A Friend” and was shocked to read a 10-page synopsis of the actual REAL HONEST TO GOODNESS story of Cinderella! For 8.99 I couldn’t pass it up. I thought about putting it away until Christmas, but thought this little set might make way for interest in those classic beauties for Christmas when she will be recieving a few things we picked up a local Disney Store closing sale.

At this point I would venture to guess that The Little Mermaid will be top dog Disney Princess because of the whole underwater theme, which brings me BACK to the point of this long entry that was supposed to be about Nemo. She could be mid spin, mid bite, or mid tantrum and with even just a whispered mention of Nemo, Caroline drops everything, including her bad attitude, and races into the family room. She knows which cabinet the case is in, though lately we just leave it in the player and she freaks the heck out until you tell her to go sit and watch. She loves this movie and will watch completely engrossed – reacting with the “I don’t know” gesture appropriately – thumb in mouth - for about 10 – 15 minutes and then she’s off to other things. I could use this time for me, but I never do, we always watch together all snuggled up and I really cherish that quiet time with Caroline. I ask her questions - explain that Dory is blue - Marlin is orange - and ask her to parrot words back to me. We love the sea turtles best, dude. Totally.

Weekend Weeview

Auntie C stopped for an overnight visit en route to a wedding not too far from us the following day. We were so happy to have her here in time for dinner and she was such a help with Caroline both over margaritas and at bedtime. We got some top secret details about her and Uncle Hokie's wedding plans (seriously - I'd love to tell you all about it - but I'd have to break your emailing fingers and/or sew your lips shut. Not her rule, mine. Don't you people want to be SURPRISED?!?!). We don't get tons of visitors down here, so we were so happy to have her and we are pretty sure Caroline was too.

Saturday we were up and out by 8:45 to head up to the beach. We hit some traffic and didn't arrive until about 12:15, but managed to thank Kiki and Papa profusely (thanks again by the way!!) before we jetted back out on the road bound for Boston. We met up with also baby free Jesse and Amy at their place before the four of us caught the T into Boston for the Sox/Yanks nightmare. You'd think that given an opportunity to be sans baby and toddler we would welcome a chance to talk about many other things happening in our life, but oh no. We spent the entire pre-game chatting about Sam and Caroline. Then Amy and I spent MOST of the game talking about Sam and Caroline. We took a collective break from the babytalk post game when we randomly ran into Tony and Booty at "WHO's" of all places. It was so nice to spend some real quality time with them, they are special people to us, and someday in the not so distant future we'd like to actually share a city again so we might have an opportunity to spend more days and nights like this.

We were considering staying over in the Boston area, but opted not to when we heard that our snuffly girl was having trouble getting to sleep and wasn't feeling all too well - though happily playing - at 10pm. So we headed back to the beach and when we arrived she was snoring quietly from her pack n play. Caroline's parents were wiped from an exciting "adult day out" and were fast asleep in no time. Our sick girl sadly had other plans. She woke up crying and coughing at an unknown hour and though she fell right back to sleep in my arms, woke up crying after each attempt to put her back into the pack n play. So with swollen eyes, I tucked her into bed between Steve and I and waited for her breathing to even so I could maneuver her back to her sleeping place and get back to sleep myself. Thankfully our little sickie slept in until nearly 7:30, which was definitely sleeping in for Steve and I as well.

Knowing our poor girl was under the weather, we needed an all family non-nap assault to ensure that we might spend at least part of the ride with a slumbering cherub. A mom can only spend so much time turned around trying to convince her toddler that she really does want to play with that same toy again. We rolled away from the beach at 11:45 after many thank yous to Kiki, Papa, and Auntie k. A call into 511 revealed a tractor trailer accident on 395 in Webster, just next door to 84 - our planned route home. THEN Auntie C, en route back from her wedding phoned in a traffic report from the Merritt. A tree had fallen completely across the southbound side of the Merritt, falling onto a car, and traffic was piling up fast. She estimated it would be hours before things would be cleaned up. So Steve and I hastily chose to take 95 South the entire way home, a decision we deeply regretted but today, I don't think any option would have been particularly awesome. We had two near misses in Rhode Island - a pick-up cut in front of us moving from the fast to the middle lane, nearly clipping our front end - and a mini van merged onto the highway and into our lane without even a glance over his shoulder. Steve laid on the horn hard in both cases and I had fun waving goodbye to the mini van when he exited a few exits up. I won't share with you what his lovely gesture was back to me. I wish it was was simple as the bird. I love doing that. He knew we were so angry at him and I just smiled and waved enthusiastically. It makes me laugh everytime I do it.

We hit major traffic at the Rhode Island/CT border. A major lightening and thunder storm with whipping winds moved overhead and while it was slow going, we got through the storm but the traffic lingered. It lingered past the 395 merge and finally opened up a bit at exit 70, only to show up again and again in pockets the rest of the way to McCashew town. As we crept ever closer to home we did a little high five; we had gotten through it - we were almost there. Suddenly the smell of burning rubber, a terrible noise from behind and we were pulled over with a blown out rear tire. I guess we were a bit preemptive with that high five. We thankfully managed to safely move off the highway - an exit was just 1/2 a mile ahead and it was one we were familiar with. We pulled into a parking lot and examined the tire. It looked easy enough, something we could probably take care of in just 15 mintutes, but once Steve got the car jacked up those hub cap nuts would not buldge. So we called AAA - thanks again to Kiki and Steve for that gem! Our guy arrived about 45 minutes later at the tail end of another amazing rain storm. He struggled to remove the nuts from the tire and said that he didn't think we could have done it with our Honda issued tire iron. We drove back roads home, thanked God that we were all safe considering the tire blow out could not only have happened far far away, but also could have caused us to lose control of the car. Caroline was a trooper putting up with all this while her nose dripped constantly. We all kissed the threshold at just after 5pm when we were finally home safe and sound.

I try not to be superstitious, but those two near misses earlier in our ride had me on my toes. I was searching for that third thing so I could feel like we had gotten the rule of threes out of the way, but that was not to be.

I get to walk into a tire place tomorrow with Caroline and watch them wring their hands in excitement that a lady has arrived for them to try to pull one over. Too bad for them I have all the info I need and the lingo to match. Oh, I will be asking them about valves and balance and warranties. They won't know what hit them.

Just one more low point to share. I lost both my cool and some expletives at an area mall "family lounge." It was near where we had pulled off and I raced over to use the facilities, toting Caroline with me to get her out of the car. The storm was moving in and I only had time to grab my purse and a diaper, not her shoes. We found "the lounge," a finely appointed mommy mecca with changing "basins," baby wipes, a lounge area to gather, a bank of changing rooms, and a generous restroom with both child and adult toilets. I had been in there just once before. We found the door to the restroom shut and knocked lightly, listening for a voice within. A woman behind me asked if anyone was in there as she pushed passed me to knock on it herself. No one answered and she opened the door, calling for her whining 4 year-oldish daughter across the room to follow her. My mouth opened to protest, but she was already closing the door on my face. I tried to make the best of it, changing Caroline first, while crossing my legs in an attempt to ward off the overwhelming gottta go gotta go gotta go go go feeling. She emerged full minutes later with her daughter's shorts and underwear in her hand calling for her husband to come over. As he rolled their stroller into the room I finally spoke up and said, "how long are you planning on being in there" as in HI, lady you cut with a BABY not a four year old here, can you help me out ??! Weren't you EVER a mother to a baby? Her reply was "when we're done." I lost it. I don't regret saying what I said, but I do regret that there were a couple kids standing in the ever growing line behind me. I had some choice words for a family who clearly needed a changing room post accident (of which there were plenty) and not a restroom. She told me I had a filthy mouth and I told her she was thoughtless and classless. I wish I had been able to express my distress without the choice vocab, but seriously - it was pouring out, I had no umbrella, I was about to wet myself, my child had no shoes, and I had been not only cut in line but then dismissed. I had enough. I ended up having to go to the regular restroom and apply much "strategery" to keep Caroline's hands and feet from touching anything while I let go of the longest piddle of my adult life. Those people waiting for that restroom, they were all still there when I walked by again. I think I smelled some more choice words in the air.

a funny thing happened in the tub

Steve was disappointed in my word list and pointed out that I missed hot (hotttt), fishy (fissy), and no (yes, we have arrived at no). I am a lousy reporter and should not be allowed to share with the pediatrician all the things Caroline is doing. Whenever someone says, “how many words does she have?” I am suddenly speechless and left struggling, “well she sort of says this and that and oh there’s this one and how many is that?” So I am just going to say that we are working with maybe 10 solid words, a few that only we can translate, and many random speech attempts. Michelle shared with me this morning that Caroline will say “shel,” (her nickname) very quietly and yet HELLO – I am Momma, Mommy, Ma, could you please perty please address me in some way? The only time I ever hear ma sounds at all are when I am out of the room and she is calling for me and I am unsure if saying ma in distress really counts.

A funny thing happened last night in the bathtub.

Caroline has been laying down kicking her feet near the end of the tub, when I have let the water out and she is trying to get as low as she can to continue playing. Mid kick she placed her chin down into the water. It shocked her a bit, but she looked up at me, grinned, and did it again. She blew bubbles mistakenly and I started taking water up to my lips to blow bubbles too and before we knew it she had her face in the water blowing bubbles. So funny. A future Olympic swimmer? Who knows? Based on her most recent interests we could forecast many things; a librarian, a hairstylist, a demolition derby driver, a mountain climber, a zoo keeper, or an organizational guru.

Speaking of little miss organized, we once again had all the squirty bath toys all over the bedroom floor this morning. I gathered up the whale, sea gull (I always squeeze it and say “mine mine mine” and if anyone gets where this is from I will officially not feel crazy), and hippo, but we couldn’t find the alligator. So Steve asked, “Caro, where’s the alligator?” She sauntered right over to the still needs to be cleansed of all dangerous items bathroom drawer. Steve asked her not to open the drawer, but poof, what did she have in her hand? Mr. Alligator.

Caroline also helped me select my shoes this morning and while they do look cute with my outfit, I could have done with a full back today in this ridiculous weather. I keep forgetting that the Jetta locks all the doors once you are moving and I got absolutely soaked when I jumped out of the car during a torrential downpour to race to school’s door. I had thought I was being all smart unstrapping her from the front seat, gathering her bag together on her lap, but when the back door wouldn’t open and I was pushing buttons while cursing the heavens feeling my shirt soak through completely in the back, I realized I was not nearly as stealth as I thought I was. That’ll show me. 90 minutes later the bottoms of my pants and my socks are still damp and let’s not even discuss hair. We need the rain, but there is some crazy flooding already happening over near school which could make for an interesting pick up this afternoon.

TGITh.

Caroline want a cracker?

Caroline napped for over two hours for Sara and Michelle yesterday at school. I was instantly jealous and relieved. Thanks Be. She scooted right in the classroom door this morning and got to requesting breakfast number 2. Where is she putting all this food?

She noshed on quartered grapes while I prepared two scrambled eggs this morning, one of which had my name on it I might add. While we waited for those to cool down on a plate, I tossed my bag lunch together (also taking out Steve’s condiments and yogurt – aren’t I helpful!) which seemed to entertain her. She has really been fighting the high chair lately and I think its days are sadly numbered. She would much prefer to sit at her little table or sit in a grown up chair. We have a wonderful little hook on chair that I think I might try down the road because it will give her the feeling of sitting at the table with us like a big girl while still confining her. It is all about the caging. Anywho – back to those eggs.

Caroline enjoyed not half BUT ALL of the eggs this morning. I peppered them with a smidge of salt and she literally could not get enough of them. Oh what about my breakfast? How thoughtful of you for wondering – a handful of grapes and some oj. Better luck next time. I am going to have to start arm-wrestling my daughter for seconds on breakfast apparently.

Of course now that I have written of Caroline’s love for slightly seasoned scrambled eggs I will be the one with egg on my face later this week when they are outright refused and probably in fact thrown in my face. Hardy har har.

There is a massive amount of development happening in our house right now. Caroline has turned into a parrot overnight. She is trying very hard to repeat after us.

Mommy: “Can you say______?”
Caroline: “some sounds that might be almost reminiscent of the word"

Here are some examples, which I think are just adorable.

Up – Up-ah
Cup – Tup
Down – Dowwww
Love ya – varied reply - but tries!
All done – All done (mastered!)
Kitty – still titty
Hi – Hiiiii – lilting
Open – opah
Please – eese
Thank You – for the most part unintelligible, but an attempt nonetheless!
Reese – eeeeeesssseeeee

Yesterday and again this morning she gathered up her bath toys from under the sink and brought them into our bedroom to play with. Yesterday she gathered them all up when we asked her to pick up her toys and brought them back into the bathroom placing them neatly on their shelf. That’s my girl. This morning she did the same, collecting and putting back. The surprise was that when Steve pulled back the shower curtain, there lay the upside down drain stopper covering the drain just so, ready for him to take his bath.

Caroline’s understanding of the world around her is growing by leaps and bounds – though I am very happy to report that her world is also neat and orderly.

Sour Cream Cookies

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat eggs and sugar
Cream butter
Add Vanilla
Add remaining ingredients

Drop onto greased cookie sheets
375 for 8 minutes

Time outs lead to cookies?

Can I devote some time to sharing the absolute cuteness that is TJ? Tasha and Tony’s son TJ is so sweet, with an easygoing temperament, and contagiously smiley eyes. We had such a nice brunch with them at Tasha’s parents’ home in Western MA on Sunday. Caroline entertained all by retreating to “TJ’s” room repeatedly to bring out many stuffed creatures and spinning. We even caught her singing a song eerily similar to the Alphabet Song. There were definitely some honest to goodness letters in there, she had the tune right, but attempts to recreate this have been less than successful. It was so wonderful to see Tasha and her family. They are clearly doing an amazing job as parents and seem so comfortable and confident in their new roles. Hoping we can plan another meeting of the fams in the fall!

Yesterday Caroline and I met up with Marybeth and her baby girl Julia. I could not get over how many similarities there were feature wise to her older sister Emma! Such a doll face, so happy & so in love with her Mommy. Mary looks great and it had been way way too long since we had caught up. Catching up can be challenging when you’ve got a baby and a toddler in tow, but we managed just fine. I particularly loved her Emma stories about how she likes to be a “girl” wearing ponytails & how she announced to a party after some one on one discipline that she was “embarrassing.” HA! Sassy, just like Mary! Though the husbands will be less than thrilled, the outlets we met at are practically smack dab between our homes and we foresee future catching up trips there. SO GOOD to see Mary and very much looking forward to our holiday outlet shopping!

I tucked a cranky mctiredson into her carseat for the ride home and she instead proceeded to drink her entire cup of water and giggle the whole hour home doing patty cake and dancing to silly music. We did not pass go, we did not collect 200.00, we went right up to her bedroom, snuggled, spoke quietly, BUT she just smiled up at me with wide-open eyes. She silently agreed to some quiet time in her crib, but as I heard from the office she was nowhere near sleeping. After about 30 minutes her quiet play went from giggles and sing songy gibberish to whining and then tears and after a decent amount of that - I retrieved her. It was too hot to be outside and too far into a non-napping afternoon to chance an outing. We watched a bit of a movie (ended in disaster when she raced over to the DVD player and started pushing random buttons), we played with blocks (disaster stuck again when I attempted to assist her in building a tower), we made Duplo helicopters (melt down when whirly copter piece would not stay in place), we hid out in an old diaper box (until she went to get in and fell into the side), and then she began to test my patience. There was hitting, head butting, and my own personal favorite – the digging of the nails into my soft mid section. Despite what felt like constant redirection, explanations of how this hurt Mommy, and ignoring her dramatic overtired fits of throwing herself on the floor - she was getting on my very last nerve. It took just one more stomach grab with a devilish grin for me to firmly place her on the second step for a one-minute time out, which honestly we both needed.

I explained that she was hurting Mommy, that this was not appropriate behavior and she would sit here for one minute. She shocked me by actually sitting still, she didn’t move, though she did start smiling at me and trying to get my attention about 30 seconds in. In that minute as I watched the stove timer tick down I was able to take a deep breath and come up with a new plan to distract her.

We made from scratch cookies! After a meltdown over an apron being placed on her body (oh the humanity!) which I thought she would have loved (and I ultimately won that battle by the way) she was standing on a chair wrist deep in cookie dough. We made Sour Cream Cookies – a recipe that my mother often made for me when I was her age. They are soft, mild, and make just enough to keep a toddlers attention. Caroline helped me pour in the ingredients, watched me mix them up, declined to hold the mixer, and then pretended to plop spoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets. I let her lick the beaters. I explained that these were the cookies we had made and I captured her first bite on film. Cookies and clean up took up about 45 minutes. Steve wasn’t due home for an hour and half. One more stomach skin ripping grab resulted in an all on assault on those blasted nails which she has been super resistant to and the complete injustice of nail clipping sent her into a sleep inducing tailspin --- at 5:15. Of course.

We woke her about 20 minutes later with some grapes and it was an early easy bedtime last night. Good thing too since I felt just about ready for bed myself.
Thank God for those cookies.

Also -

Happy SECOND ANNIVERSARY to McCashew! I can't believe that two years ago I typed my first entry about how we were having a cashew, complete with photo of belly pointing and all. So much has changed in those two years and I never would have imagined that this blog would still exist or that it would become such an important part of my daily life. I am fast at work created a hard copy version of the blog - a snazzy one with a hard cover and photos - it would be nice to have each year of Caroline's life chronicled somewhere that isn't at the mercy of Google's servers. Second anniversary is cotton - so sorry Steve - I think I am giving myself permission to find something adorable in cotton in celebration of this momentous occasion.

Billy

This entire weekend has been amazing, tiring, but amazing nonetheless.

Let's devote this post entirely to things Billy related because for many reasons I could write about this for weeks. After my epic post on Thursday I will attempt to tell our epic tale in snippets. I'd hate to lose anymore of you than I already have with all the rambling. Though I did pick up quite a few hints via comment and email about furnishings. THANKS!

There I go already - diving off course -

First and foremost the biggest thank you in the world to Nana and Granda for not only coming down on Friday to watch Caroline, but for organizing their work schedules to leave early to do so. We heard they had a great night with their granddaughter, that she was out cold before the show even officially started and that they would love to do it again. We absolutely could not have gone to the show without this kind of support from our family and we are extremely grateful. It was nice to share part of Saturday with them on the playground with Caroline, chasing monster-sized wasps, putting baking soda remedies on a hornet sting, trying a local hot dog, and reminiscing about our amazing (and alarmingly long) night out.

Billy was the best we've ever seen him. He didn't actually begin until about 9 pm & Steve and I were both struck by the sheer size of Shea which felt so much bigger than Fenway and so saddened that they would tear something with so much history down. I'm skipping way ahead here...

... Had 8 tickets when we entered the limo at 4:30 PM
... Had 4 tickets at 5:00 PM - we still haven't found the other 4
... Tom called into a branch location of his employer and we were miraculously able to make a pit stop to print 4 more - god bless you e-ticket option!
... Lots of traffic = lots of opportunity for pre-gaming which = many people needing the facilities as soon as we arrived at Shea
... Steve popped open a fresh adult beverage just before exiting the car and seeing the BC tailgate style partying happening just 5 feet away behind a chain link fence was inspired to hold onto that Bud Light. He went to the trunk to grab a few more for those whose bladders could not take another single second and was id'd... then asked to follow the nice park ranger... then passed off to a supervisor... then fined 25.00 for his open container. This could have been much much MUCH worse - fine could have been as high as 100 and even marked as a criminal offense with a mandatory court appearance, but he "liked Steve's attitude." No I am not making that up. Best part of this part of the story is that the ranger all but said he ticketed Steve for his Sox hat. Good thing he skipped the Pedroia T shirt. Catastrophe averted and a pretty funny story to share.
... With no post concert meeting point discussion we scattered to our seats and Steve realized he left his phone in the limo. Not only did he feel naked, but he also was completely sure that we were going to be abandoned in Queens.
... Billy started with Miami 2017 and as his shows go by the mid way point it was an all out sing along, everyone standing/swaying, and singing along. This was helped along by these additional elements:

Tony Bennett singing New York State of Mind
Garth Brooks singing Shameless
A group of soldiers, NYPD, and NYFD singing the chorus of Goodnight Saigon, which brought me to the brink of hyperventilating the tears were flowing so fast and so hard, thinking of Rob, the War in Iraq, this concert, those soldiers, 911. It was just too intense.
Roger Daltrey from the Who with My Generation
Steven Tyler belting out Walk This Way
and
Sir Paul McCartney himself just arrived from London bringing Shea back to 1964 with Saw Her Standing There. The place was electric all night, but when he came out the place was shaking, it was easy to imagine Beatlemania and even my 30 year old self was jumping and screaming and holding onto Steve to be sure I didn't fall over the bar I was practically hopping over
Billy closed out with Piano Man, fans started vacating quickly, but flew back to the seats in droves filling in every available space in the aisles and exits for Paul McCartney's curtain call, "Let It Be." There were two older women standing kitty corner to us, clutching onto each other, their husbands behind them, all with tears in their eyes. It was an amazing moment; as it began, so shall it end...

Nothing can take away from this night, nothing, not even what happened next.

No we didn't get stranded as Mr. Pessimist forecasted, in fact the opposite happened. Without any prior discussion we all descended on the spot where we were last together. Within five minutes of exiting the stadium we were all present and accounted for. Without a single cell phone call!!! We weren't going to be stranded afterall! or were we?

Our limo never arrived to pick us up. You know the one with Steve's phone in it? That's all I will say about the phone because really it had been discussed ad nauseum. ahem. They sent another car to get us, but never sent it until we called for pick up and we waiting 2 hours for its arrival as the parking lots emptied, as the police drove through kicking the tailgaters out. We finally blessedly arrived home at 3am and you know our wake up call comes at 6 so you do the math. We're still recovering from the sleep deprivation.

Even with the snags - it was the BEST night and extra special thanks must go out to Tom& Ann, Aron & Julie (CONGRATS you two on the engagement, I am so glad I didn't say anything to spoil the big surprise!!!!) without whom we would have completely missed out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Tom and I had a nice chat about how we will tell our grandkids we were at this show and is that ever true. For me, nothing will ever touch this concert. It was such a ride, such an experience, such an honor to be there.

More on Caroline's weekend coming - I am sure by now you are sick of hearing about us!

Confused ramblings

And just like that another week winds down. It must be something about summer because I don’t recall my weeks going by quite this fast in the wintertime.

My mind is like one big jumble and lucky ol’ you gets to attempt to somehow turn the mess in my head into a legible translation. I’ve got lots going on up there; the two online shopping bags that sit waiting for me to “checkout”, finding a bench and side table for the new living room set up, Caroline’s diaper rash, preparing the house for an overnight stay by my parents, elation that I will FINALLY get to meet TJ this weekend up in MA, and you know freaking the heck out about seeing Billy Joel’s Last Play at Shea this Friday night, Oh did I forget to mention that???

Those darn shopping bags… My face needs that Keihl’s order soon and I do have free shipping so I just need to head that screen over to checkout and be done with it already. I really only do it twice a year and though Steve protests that I should just get some cleanser and moisturizer at CVS, he does not realize I would probably spend MORE getting the more moderately priced items more often than my luxurious gentle foaming face wash every 6 months. The Gap order is a bit more frivolous, but still kind of necessary because it includes some staples I need to replenish for my new grown up working Mommy wardrobe (think neutral tanks and long sleeve Ts for “layering” – what is that exactly?? How does one know what to layer with what?). I really made an effort this week to look polished and yet still a bit sassy each day – INCLUDING MONDAY. Today I am wearing a shirt I purchased back at the beginning of the summer season (It's MAGENTA with cute puffy capped sleeves)and had yet to wear. My issue is that I find something cute and then have trouble getting it acclimated into my everyday wardrobe. What to pair it with? When to wear it? I think I inherited another weird quirk from my mother – I keep the tags on new items just like she does even though I know that between purchase to tag clippage there is zero chance I will return it. (Love you MOM!!!) Steve asked me why I purchase something and then don’t wear it for months. I cannot answer this question. Please tell me I am not alone?

Don’t start thinking that I have turned into a shopping maven overnight! (why do I really worry about what the internet thinks?) I think this new “look I actually care about my appearance!” leaf just needs to be addressed somehow here, as part of the FOR ME movement I spoke about on Tuesday. Perhaps you don’t really care what I am buying, what I am hemming and hawing over, that I am completely utterly lost in creating a “style” for myself? What is a style anyway??? At thirty I have decided that enough is enough, though I could get away with the Ts and flips, I just don’t want to anymore. I see middle aged women with their kids out and about and I think - YOU COULD DO BETTER THAN THAT - and then I pan down and see my barely polished toes sticking out of flips beneath stubbly legs bearing the same shorts I wore to paint in over the weekend. Gulp.

Onto the home improvement… I am on the hunt for a cute little bench, preferably one with storage within or via basket beneath, though a settee is really my ideal. There is a perfect place for it between the windows that would really "connect the seating," which is how I got the go ahead to even dream about it from Steve. I am thinking either leather or a funky surprising pattern of some kind. Two ottomans with storage would do just fine too. That means I have just added another dimension to that project because previously I just wanted a table there for the lamp. So I am officially on the hunt for a kick a$$ “bench,” an eclectic skinny side table, and an interesting mirror or piece of art for the empty wall. Help?

*disclaimer* I ha ha ha do NOT intend on purchasing said bench or ottoman at either of these wonderful stores, but this will give you an idea about what we have in mind. It's always fun to look!

Ottoman (They also make a two ottoman fused looking bench) Ottoman style bench
Leather bench
Cushioned bench
Heck - let's just add in the settee too (in coastal striple!)

I was greeted with looks of despair from the non-regular child care providers yesterday at pick up. Seems that something Caroline ate did not sit well with her, hmmm perhaps tacos weren’t a good idea afterall?, and she had many many dirty diapers all the live long day. You know what that means right? A sore red diaper area. She literally was trying to climb off the table during changes and the girls explaining this to me seemed so genuinely concerned for her. We were alarmed at bedtime when we finally laid eyes on "the area," but nothing that a little (read a LOT!) of Triple Paste can’t tackle right? We slathered it on nice and thick and this morning there was quite a reduction in redness. Cross your fingers that we are on the path to relieve on that front.

The parental visit is feeling somewhat like a papal visit, what with all the preparations we are making; clean sheets/towels, a dust free clutter free Neil approved abode, new movies from Netflix for their watching enjoyment, snacks in the snack drawer, beer in the fridge. Ok, so this doesn’t sound like a papal visit at all, but the preparations come from the excitement of having them down with us overnight to enjoy Caroline. My parents are leaving early Friday afternoon to babysit Caroline while we go down to NYC. I think saying they are excited goes without saying and any compulsion I felt to write a list of where things are or how the bedtime routine goes were quickly put to rest when my mother reminded me that Caroline could help her find the pajamas, which really I am sure she meant as, we will be fine. And I know that they will be.

On Sunday we are driving up to Western MA to meet his cuteness TJ!!! Tasha and Tony are up for the weekend and while I am sure they will be overwhelmed and inundated with many admirers, they made time for us to sneak in a brunch with them on Sunday. FINALLY!!!! Cross your “be well” fingers for us that the fam’s health continues as is and we are able to meet him in person this weekend. So so looking forward to the visit!!!

AND – what better way to end the week than a Friday night out sans baby with friends down to NYC in a limo to watch BILLY JOEL’S LAST (REALLY!) PLAY AT SHEA!?!?!?!?

Here is the amazing set list
from Wednesday night’s show!

And here is the NY TIMES review of the performance!!

If John Mayer, Tony Bennet, Don Henley and John Mellencamp were there on Wednesday, please tell me who will be there on Friday because I need to know so I don’t stop breathing on the spot during the show!

This will be my third time seeing him (once with Elton – unreal and there are rumors HE WILL BE THERE!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!, and once solo at the Fleet with Marc and Kelly – it was our first official Kelly meeting and it was abundantly clear to us that they were both absolutely smitten) and though I have seen him before, those performances only intensify my excitement because – BILLY JOEL!!

This will be the last musical performance at Shea before they tear it down. For those not in the NYC know (like I am?) the Beatles were the first to perform there, which makes Steve think that maybe just m-a-y-b-e a Beatle or two might stop by. Ahhhhhhhh! This only gets me thinking that we need to get a game set up between now and the playoffs because otherwise Caroline won’t make it to Shea herself and then HOW oh HOW would I ever cross that off my 101 list?????

Have a great weekend! I might have to post a mini recap pre Tuesday to avoid crashing blogger with what is sure to be a looooonnnnnnngggggg wordy review.

For the inquiring minds...

Living Room Redo

FOR ME, FOR US ALL

It was another wonderful weekend for the McFamily, full of painting, relaxing, and fun at the beach. Caroline and I started the weekend off right with a visit to our town beach on Friday with our neighbor Ann. She enjoyed wading in the water, filling her little bucket with sand, chasing the birds, and was sound asleep in her carseat before we even pulled out of the beach parking lot for her nap. I spent her naptime doing some very serious cleaning & working out.

I feel like I have reached a place where I can no longer fool myself that I can’t do things because I have a baby. "How could I ever organize the linen closet??? I have a baby!" "How could I file the nearly 4-inch pile of bills??? I have a baby!" Caroline is clearly independent enough now to entertain herself while I vacuum or mop the floor. When she sleeps I know I can count on at least two full hours of uninterrupted time in which to scrub the tub, tidy entire rooms from top to bottom, complete full loads of laundry, or as was the case yesterday - rearrange an entire room of furniture. Yup, it’s back, my terrible/fabulous habit of completely rearranging a room because I suddenly feel compelled to do so.

I’ve been frustrated for awhile now that our front living room is not “usable.” The shape of the room and the furniture did not allow for a very cozy space. We essentially walk through this room and never ever sit in it. We initially decided that it should be as open as possible and instead we ended up with a vast waste of space. I mean, we were just walking through right? We spent many a night bouncing Caroline to sleep in that room. I used to walk the entire length of the room and back and back again while singing silly made up lullabies, glancing out the window at lightening bugs, and feeling the weight of my daughter become heavier in my arms. That phase of life is over, most nights, so it was time to “adultify” that living room. So I took it upon myself to reconfigure the space solo. (I'll take photos!) Of course now I need to find a cute side table for a lamp, finally decide on curtains, and keep my eyes peeled for an interesting wall mirror. It’s a work in progress and I am so pleased with it, Steve is still on the fence. I always do these things while he is gone so he can’t stop me. Part of me thinks that I like to see his face when he walks in all “what did you do?” like. I thought I was out of the “Ker, I hate it” woods thanks to my wonderful neighbor Ann giving my reconfiguration the go ahead. Thanks Ann.

Changing that room was about making it cozier, more livable, but it was also to do something that I have wanted to do for awhile FOR ME. This is a new thing I am trying. Steve says I get my hair done every 8 weeks and that is supposed to be FOR ME, but I think he isn’t understanding what FOR ME means.

As a Mom, I feel like I am constantly putting myself second or third in the house, poor Reese never gets to be first. =) Until recently I would dress Caroline adorably and toss on the same flip flops, shorts & T. I would shop for her, but feel uninterested in finding myself something cute to wear to work. I would buy her delish looking fruits and veggies, but neglect our diets. I would spend her nap showering and organizing her for daycare or for our family's dinner. I decided that really needed to be changed. I decided that putting some priority on myself in no way takes away from her or from Steve.

So I have begun a deep clean of the house because it will make me feel better about the way we are living. If I spend less time managing the house, I can spend more time enjoying dark chocolate and honey roasted peanuts over the Home Run Derby with Steve. It isn’t all happening at once and it is not entirely cleaning related, some of it just needs to be better organized or decluttered. Ok, all of it needs to be decluttered, but I am working towards a more well oiled like machine of a house than one that hiccups constantly on misplaced flip flops, Red Sox hats, a million little lists, and junk mail.

Along that same vein I have been carefully adding to my everyday wardrobe and working out more regularly. I actually forced my way through an exhausting 45-minute elliptical session on Friday. I needed motivation and Food Network was not giving me any. Out of the depths of my subconscious came this battle cry that I thought was initially just in my head, but it wasn’t, it was being said quite loudly and it drove my legs to keep going, my heart to keep beating. “Do this for YOU. FOR YOU!”

So I’m going with it. I am working out FOR ME. Not to be a better wife or mother, but FOR ME. I am cleaning and organizing and rearranging FOR ME. Not because it needs to be done (even though it does, but cmon, I’ve been ignoring it for the most part for going on 18 months now!), but because it will make me happier to live in that space. I am simplifying my life, our life, FOR ALL OF US and it feels so good.

In other completely unrelated but needs to shared newsy news --- Moms living in close proximity to a Once Upon A Child had better get there ASAP. I scored some major deals there yesterday for Caroline's Summer of 2009 wardrobe. They are running a 10 for $10 promotion on all their spring and summer stuff. ANY TEN SPRING or SUMMER ITEMS!!! Go NOW!!!

Did someone say VIDEO?

"Show me your teeth" check out those chompers and the use of the spoon



"Rollllllllllll it"


Reading with Uncle Hokie - look how content she is with him =)


Reading in the special chair & "who knows!?" she says auntie, just never on video, we'll get there k and C!


Spinning, Screeching Happy Girl with body part identification fun - the nakedness is because she took decided she was done with the pretty dress she had on that day

Ponies and Piggies, but not on a farm

Michelle has been putting Caroline's hair into a Pebbles-esque ponytail at school. It is adorably tilted to the side and only a couple inches long, but so sweet. Yesterday at pick-up, where I was greeted and hugged and then ignored(!), Caroline was sporting not one, but TWO adorable little piggytails. We took photos that I haven’t gotten around to uploading. I tried to recreate the piggies this morning, but she will have NONE of it. I thought I had a real shot while she was very involved in blueberry muffins eating and she still shook her head and whined as if me pulling her hair together actually hurt. Honestly!

I reluctantly admitted to Michelle that after several failed attempts at ponies and piggies my husband declared that I must ask her for a tutorial asap. Another teacher in an adjoining classroom said that she thinks 90% of the kids won’t let their parents do their hair at home, but will tolerate the teachers doing it at school for them. What gives Caro? I can’t be shuttling you into school on Mondays and Fridays (not to mention WEEKENDS!) to complete your look! Any advice? Perhaps Christian will come and help me out??

I promised a potty update. Don’t be expecting to read about miracles like actual usage just yet, but we did purchase this on Monday because she has been very interested in the grown up version at home and even tries to take her clothes off when she is in the bathroom. So we are embracing it, baby steps right? Caroline definitely gets what it is because she was very excited to climb the stairs and go show it to Daddy when he came home from work on Monday. She keeps standing up to look inside and then sits back down when she doesn’t find anything. HA! Yesterday when she was sitting she asked me for a piece of tissue, which I indulged even though the TP is on the list of untouchable items. She floored me by wiping and then handing it back to me. WHAT?!?! So this blog has clearly moved in a new direction – I once thrilled you with unnecessary breastfeeding information and you can look forward to potty talk. Cleary we’ve just begun and we have no real expectations at this time. I don’t see a plate of M&Ms on the counter just yet. By the way, is that gross to anyone but me? "Here have an snack that has been sitting out in the dirtiest germiest room in the house as a reward for your excellent effort." I think stickers sound AWESOME!

I have quite a few little videos to upload as well of things like Patty Cake and Caroline spinning in a circle screeching with excitement. Those can speak for themselves.

So back to business – ponies and piggies – please share your secret method!

The McHighlights

The thought of updating an entire week’s worth of Caroline makes my head hurt. Lord knows I could have updated this everyday while we were gone, but sometimes a vacation means a vacation from blogging too. I think I could do a single post each day about a different part of our trip and still have material for next week. Again, the head hurting.

Instead of a long arduous update post or many on the same topic, enjoy these hopefully brief enough snippets of our vacah at the perfect beach that will not be named to protect its perfection.

Travel:
Rating – B- (mostly due to weather and my car sickness from entertaining a toddler in the back seat) with an absolute A+ for effort by all involved parties

~ Through an unbelievable storm en route Tuesday night, trucks flying by, following the breakdown lane line on the right to stay on the road, people pulled over everywhere, but we persevered – there was a beach we wanted to be at and like the post office, nothing was stopping us.
~ Sleepy baby on the way home until traffic at 84. We stopped for $1 Sweet Teas and I got in the back to entertain. There was not a single toy, book, or googly eyed face in the reserves when we pulled off 15.
~ We didn’t get our act together enough pre-trip to purchase a portable DVD, but the Travel Doodle Pro for under 10 bucks was M-A-G-N-I-F-C-E-N-T. I was worried that I would constantly be reaching back to erase the screen, but erasing turned out to be the most fun part for her – that and putting the pen in and out of the holder. Best travel purchase to date. The other big hit of the trip was a $1 bin Target flap book on animals. Loved it enough that I was able to resurrect it a few times before outright refusal.

Sleeping:
Rating – A

~ Caroline is the champion of the on the beach nap. PERIOD.
~ Only hiccup here was the 3rd. The lethal combination of bright amazing fireworks & bonfires and the seemingly never ending booms of pyrotechnics being launched from the beach resulted in an inability to settle down to sleep. She crashed in my arms several times only to jerk awake with the next boom. I walked her around the neighborhood for about an hour in the sling and eventually she calmed enough and the fireworks slowed to a more manageable level so she was able to drift off. She did love the fireworks though, and the bonfires too. It was amazing to watch her react and clap for the best fireworks we’ve seen in years.
Pops Fireworks = yawn in comparison

McMilestones:

~ There was a verbal explosion last week! Her speech was a bit of her own language and a bit real honest to goodness words, but she is trying desperately and successfully to communicate. Caroline’s little voice melts me.
~ New words: Auntie, Open, Up, More, Papi, Tweet Tweet (as in what does the birdie say?)
~ Identification of objects and animals in books also increased tenfold!

Unnamed glorious beach:
~ Loved it. What else could describe her affinity more than her ability to point to the beach on command from a page of other landscapes?
~ She loved playing in the sand, smushing Papa’s castles, throwing rocks - though her favorite part of the beach seemed to be the water. She wanted to be in it all the time and lucky us there was a tidal pool everyday for her to play in! She chased birds and made her adorable “I don’t know” hand motion when they flew away. (see Month 18 photo)
~ Papa at one point said “we got her” which I took to mean, her had her hand and she was safe, but he meant that we, the beach lovers that we are, got another one to share it with. She is my daughter after all!

The highlight of the week was obviously spending such great quality time with the rest of the McFamily and her favorite friend - Uncle Hokie, who after teaching her how to spin in a circle declared himself "Head Babysitter" on Saturday night when we went out to dinner with the McShinos. (Tosca, absolutely delish from beginning to end and the company wasn’t too bad either!) It is incredibly rewarding as parents to have two families adore our daughter as much as both of our families do. Watching my little girl interact with Kiki, Papa. The Aunties, and Uncle Hokie made me see Caroline in new and delightful ways, which is in and of itself a very special gift. I truly enjoy sharing her with the people that love her, encourage her, and smother her with affection.

There are loads of photos – I think they can speak better than my words for the amazing time we had. I need to offer an extra special thank you to the entire McFamily for being their wonderful selves.

Did I mention that we entered the 18th month while we were away? 18. My little girl sits on a potty chair now and flushes the toilet. More on that tomorrow.

Sleeper hit of the trip – TK. I heart her in an odd way and while I understand she won’t come out to play all that time (it wouldn’t be nearly as fun if she was always around giving the pirate eye and demanding lazy man lobster) I hope we see her again later this summer. Please Uncle Hokie – can’t be more than just once a year?

McBeach Toddler

As of 11 o’clock last night, we are packed and ready to go.

Monday morning I sat down on the couch with my notepad and started writing my usual last minute list of things to do and pack. Caroline sat down next to me and wanted a piece of paper and my pen, so I tore her off a sheet and handed her a crayon. I started writing out my list and then noticed that a little girl sitting next to me was writing her own list, peeking at mine, and returning to her own scribbles. So cute, but also a bit creepy that at nearly 17 months old she wants to write lists like Mommy. She is very much into mimicking things now and in particular things that Mommy does. She still won’t say Momma or Mommy unless she is upset or frustrated, but she does point to me when I say “can you say Momma?” I’ll take it.

Yesterday she started saying “up.” She gestured to me to pick her up by holding her arms over her head and squeezing her fingers together and so I did, but I said “you want to come up? Say up” and she did, clear as day, with emphasis on the PAH at the end. HA!

We ran some errands and hit the playground before her nap, and then I washed the floors, packed myself, and organized for the trip. We hit the playground and the water table in the afternoon, but it was just too darn hot to be outside.

So we are ready. Steve will follow my list (imagine! a list?!?) and pack the car when he gets home from work this afternoon and then he’ll make a cameo appearance at school to pick up our little lovely so that when I get home I can shimmy into comfier travel duds and we can hit the road. Caroline will be wearing her pjs just in case she might happen to fall asleep on the way, but thanks to Target she’s got three new $1 flap books (States, Colors, and Animals) and a travel magna doodle to keep her occupado in the back seat for what I expect will be whole minutes at a time!

The difference in a year is astounding. Last year at this time we were struggling to feed a perpetually hungry Caroline, packing involved a lot more than cute outfit selection, books, and a sinful amount of snacks, and tears were being shed about starting daycare on July 10th (I cannot get over that we’ll have been at daycare for a whole year next week!?! They can’t either and they can even recall the tearful sad goodbye). Even more jaw dropping crazy are these photos and my absolute disbelief that Caroline was ever this size.

Steve remarked last night after chit chatting with the neighbors I accosted awhile back that he cannot recall Caroline being a tiny little baby like their daughter Madeline, that it just sort of feels like she has always been this size. It seems like lightyears ago doesn't it? (Coincidentally - Ann I wish you had come over to meet them!!)

So we are off to points north, to that very special beach, where this year instead of long naps by the sea and passing around a snuggly baby, we expect sand castle building, water fetching, rock skipping, sand eating, and lots and lots of chasing.

I cannot wait.