Never ending coughing up a lung cough, but gorgeous dewey skin

That blasted cough won’t go away and woke us all up this morning at 5:30. Thankfully Caroline was able to roll around, play with her animals, and in general entertain herself for another hour because there was simply no way either of us were game for an early morning. Leave cough – GO AWAY!

As Caroline is getting older I am running out of excuses to sleep in a bit in the morning too. For awhile now I’ve been pushing my wake up time back further and further because I am many things, but I am not a morning person. (Once I am up I am up, but it’s the GETTING up that is so challenging.) I need to bite the a.m. bullet and alter our morning routine so I am up, showered, and with dry hair before Steve gets her up and dressed. AND just in time for fall when the sun rises later and waking up in complete darkness makes me slowly lose my mind. I will just need to tell myself that spending more time with her downstairs where she can read and play with her dolls while I have more time to make my lunch and eat breakfast really is a good thing afterall. More time spent having fun in the mornings, albeit in the dark, and less time redirecting her upstairs where pretty much everything shouts "danger! danger!"

The End.

We all have our little getting ready morning rituals don’t we. Wake up, brush teeth, slap water on face in an attempt to force eyes to an accommodating openness for contacts, curse eyes when contacts won’t go in on the first try, hop into the shower. In the shower – shampoo, rinse, and apply conditioner, body soap, face wash, rinse face and hair. Post shower – towel dry that hair, spin it on top of head turban style, robe, deodorant, apply facial toner. Everyday, the same routine, and we all have one.

Caroline has started observing mine and is clearly getting it.

- Tip toe stands to reach used cotton ball from facial toner which she then rubs on her nose, her cheeks, her neck (gross, but endearing no?)
- Stands on cedar chest behind me to brush my hair while I dry it, hopping down to retrieve an elastic which she doesn’t know how to use (and interestingly enough refuses to allow me to use on her)
- Comes back from the bathroom with a tiny baby powder I use to powder shoes I wear without socks. Sits down and mocks shaking powder into shoe and then shaking shoe to move it around and down into the toe (only does this with our collective favorite black flats, if we are the same size all my shoes are goners!)
- Begs to have blush also applied to her cheek (even will say cheese to expose those apples)
- Rinses her toothbrush and taps it on the sink (“tap, tap, tap”)
- Watches me move the gate from the stairs, revealing white paint that somehow got on the gate a long time ago has been transferred to the wall, I wipe it away, then she does… every morning (and then she practically leaps into my arms, which is sometimes sadly our first morning hug and holds onto me with the fierceness that reminds me that as much as I love and adore her, she feels the same way)

If nothing else I read the above as an excellent way for her to develop a tried and true skin care regimen, excellent blow drying skills, and proper shoe to outfit pairing. Though for that last one, she really needs to ask her Dad because I am not such a superstar in that area.

Videos as promised

Snapping Green Beans for Dinner - my favorite part is the "Mommmmmmyyyy" at the end when she spots the animal crackers on the counter.



Stunt Climber - Don't worry, Steve was right there, just a mere 8 inches away.

Sounds like somebody has a case of the Tuesdays

I think Tuesdays are just hard.

We have noticed that on Tuesday afternoons Caroline is needy, at times inconsolable, and not hungry. Yesterday was no exception. She was happy all the way home, smiling when we walked into the house, fine with going upstairs so I could take off my working mom uni even. Suddenly and without reason she was teary, reaching her arms up to me to be held, and completely beside herself. My working theory is that Tuesday, being her first day of school for the week, is a bit challenging for her emotionally as she is fresh off of 4 days with us and suddenly thrust back into her noisy school environment. I think the day takes a toll on her and makes her exhausted.

When I picked her up she was standing alone staring at a pair of white flip-flops, thumb in mouth, looking a bit lost or confused. She ran for me and then after about a second of snuggles - she was halfway out the door. Michelle said she had a great day; ate well, slept well, played well.

So what gives Caroline? Is this just Mom guilt?

Every Tuesday brings out her most challenging side and it feels as if nothing either of us do can soothe her, until suddenly she looks over and smiles and the rest of the night is cake… a nice little walk, some playtime, and a toddler falling asleep about 5 pages into The Cat in The Hat.

We caught her Monday night in the middle of a daredevil maneuver. We were all sitting in the back room coloring and she ran off towards the kitchen. I was waiting for her to return with a bag of Goldfish, nodding her head, and smiling a la “C’mon, you know you want to give these to me to snack on right before bed!” Instead we heard a rustling and upon closer inspection discovered her sitting in her high chair attempting to buckle herself in. I took her down and we watched as she climbed right back up! Needless to say we plan on keeping that tray in place now and I did warn them at school that we might have a stunt double on our hands.

Move over Nemo!

The McFamily managed to have a pretty wonderful end of the summer weekend at home despite some sniffles, a rather yucky sounding cough, and unforeseen traffic issues.

Friday afternoon I noticed Caroline had a runny nose and said a silent prayer to the Wellness Gods that she would be healthy enough to enjoy our planned Day of Fun up in Mystic on Saturday. She was a bit irritable and trust me, I can totally understand why because now the adults in our house are also suffering a bit from a scratchy throat, that terrible cough, and clogged noses. Yay!

Steve: “how can you be sick? It’s summer?”
Kerri: “I kiss your sick daughter on the lips!” (mmmmm mucous!)

Sniffles and a cough weren’t keeping us from our plans! We loaded up on snacks, amusements, and sunscreen and hit the road in time for the smallest member of the fam’s nap. Nap she did. Though only for an hour as we hit stop and go traffic in no less than 3 spots a few miles each en route. Oh how I hate you I-95.

Our hour-long trip was significantly longer than planned and we didn’t actually arrive at the Aquarium until after 1PM. I kept telling Steve that when we got there and she absolutely lost her mind with excitement he would forget all about the traffic and the delays. When we finally got in and walked by the Beluga Whale exhibit, I could see that he might not have forgotten the ride, but he granted the highway forgiveness because MAN, does our daughter LOVE fish.

We took her right inside to the big 360 tank and Caroline proceeded to scream with excitement, laughing, pointing, jumping. We got some cute shots of her standing at the tank, with her hands up against the glass. All that is missing the audio, but you can just imagine a shrieking excited 18 month-old.

We saw the Beluga Whale, the Sea Lions, The Penguins, and the Seal Rescue Program & Steve pet a stingray. We questioned her ability to sit through a sea lion show or an animal feeding amongst a big crowd in the heat, so we passed on that for this visit. Next time or at Sea World in a few years!

We packed her up and drove just around the bend to Mystic Seaport. I think Steve and I both agree that Caroline was just too young for this. Think Sturbridge Village meets the Ocean. Very cute, very educational, very much for an older child. Caroline did LOVE the wooden ship playscapes, though we exchanged a few confused looks as another toddler repeatedly told Caroline No and hit her hand. And SCENE! It was lovely to walk by the water and see the harbor, but after just a one-hour nap, it was all we could do to keep her in the stroller and not screaming. She was pooped and understandably so!

Thanks to our trusty GPS we were able to meander our way towards Mystic center and the home of Mystic Pizza. What a cute little town! Lots of Bed & Breakfasts, shops, pubs! Steve pulled over for a slice of that famous pizza, me giving him the stink eye that he was not only leaving me in the car solo with the unhappy overtired toddler, but also parked illegally. He came back to the car with the “two slice minimum” box of za and after we got moving again and I had a bite of this little “slice of heaven” I wanted to take that stink eye back and cram it up my own behind. Yum does not suffice! It was the perfect ending to a really enjoyable family day!

Yesterday Nana, Granda, and Uncle Brett came down to visit. We snacked on Ina’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip (sure to become a staple) and planned our upcoming Cape/Islands 4-day Extravaganza! I think we may have more on our list of things to do than there are days, but it is sure to be a great time. The boys hit the driving range and the girls shopped before we all met up back at home for pizza stone pizzas and berry salad. Any family dinner with my parents and brother is not complete without a peppercini eating contest. These used to be strictly between my Dad and I, but Brett has apparently been training and now I have some serious competition. I only managed three because the two of them were pulling so far ahead of me that I could not possibly win – so I saved my taste buds for another battle sure to take place at the Cape in a few weeks. Both Brett and my father managed to eat 8. EIGHT! I love the peppercini eating competition and I foresee a trip back to the News in Edgartown for Round II – surely to be following by Round III, Round IV, and Round V. Winner take all. We need a trophy or something! Should the competition be total rounds won or cumulative peppercini? (SEE POLL!!!)

Yesterday was a bit of a rough morning. Her royal sickness and royal sickness’ mum did a bit of shopping. I totally caved and bought paper towels for the first time in two weeks. I don’t think our house is ready to go paper towel free yet, but we will get there. I declared a minimum usage policy until another strategy toward Operation Paper Towel Free can be developed. Operation Paper Towel Free is not only a good idea, but also a way for me to combat Excessive Use of Ziploc Guilt and Disposable Diaper Shame. Ugh. We’ll get there…

My little sous chef Caroline helped with dinner and she did an amazing job putting together our Shepherd's Pie , if by amazing job you mean licking the mashed potato spoon. I love my little apron wearing helper.

Videos forthcoming!

Mystic here we come!

The poll is closed and I thank all you voters for clicking your choice. It wouldn't be any fun at all if I didn't honor your selection, so it appears we are Mystic bound on Saturday! The drive shouldn't be all that bad and we'll have a lot of options once we get there with little miss loves Nemo. Not sure how we are going to get around nap time, perhaps that's when Mommy and Daddy will linger over dessert at lunch or get some window shopping in? Should be fun!

Thanks for helping us make this decision - we are all very much looking forward to Saturday!!!

RIP Big Tree

We came home yesterday afternoon to a brand new front yard. Our neighbor Ann had given me the heads up, but Steve had no idea that the big tree on the planting strip was being taken down. We had put in a request for our tree to be reviewed by the Tree Warden. (Did you even know that there was such a thing as a Tree Warden?) The roots of the tree are beginning to move the sidewalk, breaking up the curb, and overtaking our tree belt. This Spring the electric company came in and trimmed the branches and pretty much chopped the entire middle section of the tree out, leaving two huge branches to be supported by just the trunk. We thought for sure that some of that tree was coming down during the big storm we had, but it didn’t and now it is GONE!

The Town did not leave a note of any kind, instead we have three nice reminders of our old tree – big holes from huge branches that the crew just let fall. Thanks! I put in a work order for them to be filled in for us, but I think we are better off getting some soil and doing it ourselves. For now there is potting mix in them to be sure that Caroline or the mailperson won't fall into one accidentally. YIKES!

So yay for more light, yay for less fall cleanup, but boo to the holey front yard that our other neighbor said is the best he has ever seen it. (He also said that the back is looking good and you can hardly tell where the pool was anymore. Um, hi scary stalker neighbor guy, though we really do appreciate the compliment.) I’d love to plant a smaller tree, but no one can plant there except the Town and I highly doubt they will ever get to it.

Sarah shared a funny story with me yesterday when I picked Caroline up from school. She said that Sonny/Hannah has been kind of feisty lately and had pushed Caroline down. Hannah got put in time out and Caroline growled at her. You know, the “what does a bear say?” growl. Yeah, that one. I’ll be thankful that she didn’t push her back, but growling???

Also - let's keep the votes coming - we need to make our weekend plans!

Snippets

“She was so happy today. She just kept running back and forth with that scrunched up smile. So happy.” That was the description of how Caroline’s day was yesterday given by her afternoon daycare caregiver.

Caroline and I set out for our evening after dinner walk, Daddy mowed the lawn and needed the break. I opened the stroller and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. “No.” Laughter reflected off the house from across the road at the Sucktacular house where Mrs. Sucktacular sat on her porch, talking on the phone, waving to my daughter. She can’t say hello to me, but can wave to my daughter? I will be grateful that she waves at all, but man, what a weirdo!

I strapped her in with my usual, “one, two” when I put her arms through, but heard a little voice say “two” along with me.

Caroline got a little splash happy in her bath last night, thoroughly soaking me; mascara running down my cheek. I said “please stop,” held her hands, said “no.” The splashing continued and I eventually splashed her back a bit and told her it was not nice to splash, which only upset her. How can you teach empathy?

This morning we awoke to cooler than average temps and I realized I had laid out shorts for school. Just before we bolted out the door to head to school and work I changed her into some khaki pants and she helped as usual, “step, step.” Her shoes would not fit thought the pant legs, so we had to remove them, and when I went to put them back on she stepped into them almost on her own, pushing her little heels in, so proud of herself.

We were headed to the door bags in hand when I saw the mess of books in the family room someone had created while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes. I asked her, “Should we clean up our books before we go to school?” Off she ran pointing at the pile and we worked together to put them back on the shelf. I left one book on the floor that doesn’t quite fit on the shelf and when I turned back, there was my daughter big book in hand, grunting to heft it onto the shelf. When she was satisfied, off we went towards the excitement of a new day.

I miss her immensely while I am working. I often wonder what she is doing, if she misses me at all. Seeing her so independent, so involved in her world, and how much she understands puts me at ease. She knows that at the end of her fabulous day I will be there to hug and kiss her & take her home.

Life Lessons through Flip Flops

It was a wonderful weekend filled with special girl time, sandy beach play, requests to go back into the ocean AGAIN with Papa, and sharing special news with friends (it isn’t MY news to share). A thousand thank yous are not enough to the Aunties, Kiki and Papa who chased after, minded, and kept my busy daughter safe and happy. It allowed me the ability to breathe deeply and appreciate the best beach weekend of the summer. Save for Sunday morning when I returned from a walk turned full on sprint with an unhappy toddler and announced that I needed her to be away from me and now. Of course all was forgiven, what could she ever apologize for – she’s 18 months old – but I am sure we woke more than one neighbor up as I, the non-runner, raced behind her thinking more than once that I wasn’t going to make it back. Ahh, my spirited Caroline. She also adamantly refused a nap later that afternoon after 3 consecutive 5:30 AM wake ups, which tested both our stubborn wills. I won, eventually. Nothing was keeping me from the beach and as I said, “it was personal.” For the sake of our ride home later that night and my day with her on Monday, I fully admit to being rigid. All I will say of our ride home is that we were entertained by an extremely happy passenger until about 10:30pm. I can’t say for sure when she fell asleep because we had to make a pit stop at Steve’s office to pick up my car. Her reaction when her mother sprinted from the car was to raise her hands and say “uh oh.” So Caroline.

We were so fortunate to get to spend it with you guys. THANKS!!!!

Sadly, life marches on and brings heartbreaking news even on the sunniest of summer days. Yesterday marks the passing of a very special woman, close to this McFamily’s soul. Patti had a presence about her that made you instantly at ease, as if she had known you forever and you were already great friends. She and Kiki’s was a lifetime friendship, a special sisterhood. She gifted special earrings to Caroline not long after her arrival here on Earth, before her ears were even pierced, long before a “sensible parent” would allow them to be worn by a toddler. We took out Caroline’s piercing studs a few weeks ago and in their place from that day since these special earrings have been with us. Strangers stop me to comment on them. I tell them that they were a special gift from an amazing woman. I hope that my own daughter will someday echo Patti’s own spirit of living and that she might help carry on Patti's important message and vision to her own generation.


These lovely earrings were meant to be enjoyed, adored & loved, not to be kept safely in a box. Flip flops make for an awful good metaphor for life; at least Patti's way of living. I realize and accept that they truly might be lost someday, but until then just like Patti would have wanted, they will be enjoyed. We could all learn a lesson from this most remarkable, kind, thoughtful woman – live, love, laugh – create special moments – make people feel special - spread your personal message far and wide - and take pleasure in every moment.

Please, go now and educate yourself on ovarian cancer. It would mean so much to Patti if you did.

2nd Annual TOGAS

First, I suppose I need to make note of the changes you may have noticed. I moved the long lineup of photos and the 101 list to a new area of the sidebar called “McCashew Extras.” I have been noticing that while the links to the Picasa photos work, the cover shots of many were sporadically not working. I hate seeing a little red x where my beautiful daughter’s face should be, so I rectified that. So just in case I am not the only one who likes to periodically scroll through just those cover shots from birth to present, rest assured they have safely been moved to a new, better and less distracting location. As for the 101 list, it’s long, it’s very long. I am hoping that by moving it to this new place I will remember to check it more often to plan ways to complete those tasks.

We spent the majority of our evening last night packing things up for Steve’s 2nd Annual TOGAS Golf Weekend. He has really been looking forward to it and is fired up to get up to MA early enough tonight so that he can rest up for what I am sure will be a great weekend for these boys. Caroline and I are lucky enough to get an opportunity to bask in the end of summer sun at the beach with Kiki and Papa. The Aunties and Uncle Hokie are purported to be making an appearance as well. Some of the ladies that match the boys on the golf weekend will be coming down on Saturday for a little beachside luncheon and hopefully some great weather. Caroline and I are very much looking forward to catching up with the girls!

I think after several beach trips I have finally learned how to properly pack up Caroline for a weekend at the beach; multiple swimsuits, extra swim diapers, after swim apparel, lots of play clothes, things in case it gets cold and pjs. Try as I might to leave the cute dresses and outfits, I couldn’t resist bringing a few just in case, but I know she won’t likely wear them. She’s going to be too busy asking her Papa to take her into the water again.

I can’t end this post without acknowledging that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my roommate Robert Pirelli’s death in Iraq.

En route to a Sox game recently with Jesse and Amy, I had a few moments to visit the new Veteran’s Memorial at Northeastern. I found Rob’s smooth silver plaque, in the shape of a dog tag, right there at eye level. It brought me great peace to see that his memory will remain a part of campus, the place where we shared many laughs and created our college memories, still as vivid in my mind as they were back in 2001. Thinking of Robby and his family.

I spy a Firefly

This morning it was all Mommy all the time. From the moment Caroline was placed at the top of the steps and the gate was closed behind her, she wanted me to talk to her, hold her, adore her. As much I wanted to drop my hairbrush and mascara to dote on my sweetness, today is actually Wednesday and I am required to be at work. Sure, I don’t HAVE to wear mascara or have my hair done nicely, but it is part of my professional uniform, so Little Miss Needs Love needed to wait.

Steve did his very best to comfort her while I finished getting ready, but you can only do so much while your daughter pushes you away and extends her arms to the only adult currently unable to hold her. While mornings like these can be stressful, I try to take a moment to revel in her affection. It won’t be forever that only Mommy will do.

Last night we scratched a really important thing off the 101 list (down at the bottom of this page). We caught fireflies together. It might seem pretty insignificant, but to me, this was a very special moment. I have vivid meaningful memories of chasing fireflies at dusk in my own backyard. In fact, chasing these slow bugs reminds me of the summer vacations of my young life when time was slow, responsibilities few, and the goal of each day was to have fun (and also beat our neighbors at a game of pitch which we did exactly every single day of every summer. I had the best partner ever in my brother). I cleaned out a little plastic container that once held Belgian Chocolates (not nearly as good as peanut butter cups!), removed the paper labels for visibility, and left it by the front door waiting for the right night to properly introduce my daughter to summer.

We went to the town concert last night on the green and Caroline was cranky and exhausted. When we arrived home it was after 7:30 and dusk was settling in. I seized this most perfect opportunity, took her by the hand, and we waited in the front yard for the fireflies to make their appearance. It wasn’t long before we spotted one and had him corralled into my makeshift firefly jar. Caroline studied it, pointed at it, listened to me explain that fireflies are special, that we only see them on perfect summer nights, and that if we are lucky enough to catch one we also need to respect it and release it. The first one wouldn’t fly out of the container, so I lightly blew on it and off it went. We caught a second one that came flashing by and when we released this one my daughter blew gently into the container and watched as the firefly flew off and into a neighboring yard.

Seems so simple. Seems silly even, but to me it was perfect. I see many years of firefly catching ahead of my daughter and I hope that summer nights lit up by slow moving bugs will come to remind her of the lazy perfect summer days of her childhood too.

holding tight

I get called on occasionally to team up with colleagues and get families through terrible times. This morning I got a call from one asking me for advice and assistance. The husband of a couple known to us who has been coping with the wife’s dementia for quite some time called in that his wife seemed to have deteriorated following a trip to New Hampshire to visit friends. Without getting into all the details – he needed to get her out of the house and to the doctor. While my colleague spoke to him on the phone, I traveled over there in person “to assist him in getting her to the hospital” which in my world means calling an ambulance if he doesn’t follow through.

My drive took me to what I consider the prettiest part of our little town and to an immaculately maintained Cape. What was happening on the inside did not quite match the picture perfect exterior. The house was well kept and tidy, the unrest was more emotional than aesthetics. I assisted this charming gentleman in getting shoes on his wife. She seemed anxious and I rested my hand on her knee, explaining who I was, that I was here to help her, and that though I knew that she must be nervous everything would was going to be ok. I reinforced what her husband had likely already told her; that she was going to the hospital so her doctor could evaluate her, that she might not be able to come home today, and that this was to keep her safe. As her husband helped her to standing, I looked him in the eye to reinforce his role as advocate. “If they tell you to take her home…” “I say no. No way.” I encouraged him to be strong, to stand up for his needs, to be honest about the night he had with her, and validated his amazing role – “you’ve done so well.”

As they drove away I looked out my window at the beautiful sunny summer day that had unfolded while I was in my office. I drove down meandering roads, past Cape after Cape, and rolled my windows down to breathe in the salty summer seabreeze. I parked at the seawall and exited my car, my hair whipping in the wind, the sun beating down on my face and I dialed my phone. I shared what had happened, said I was heading back to the office and added, “I hope this never happens to us.”

This line of work gets me to thinking about time, family, and love and when I find myself face to face with the reality of getting old, forgetting, feeling isolated and alone with your own family – I think of Steve and I hold tight the closeness we have today – in this moment – because you never can really know what tomorrow will hold.

Super Mega Vision

Let’s say just a bit more about the pedi appointment shall we?

I was handed a “M-CHAT” form to complete while we waited for the doctor to come in. It was a series of yes and no questions about things that Caroline is or isn’t doing.

“My child enjoys being bounced on a knee or swung.” Yes
“My child stares or wanders aimlessly” No
“My child enjoys interacting with other children” Yes

This was clearly an autism-screening tool, which I deliberately took my time completing. When the doc arrived she asked me, “So, what did the social worker think of the screening?” I was glad she remembered I was a social worker and we chatted about Caroline’s answers. No signs of autism. While that feels great for now, am I the only one who feels like autism is quite literally constantly looming overhead? All we can do as parents is stay vigilant in our constant assessment of our children.

So after our brave girl took her Tetanus and Polio with just a pouty face her Daddy arrived home with some fun animal stickers as a prize for her courage. All night she was walking around with elephants and frogs stuck to her back. We made a big production out of the sticker reward, explaining that Caroline had been fearless and we were so proud of her. I cannot really believe we are at the stage in her life where we can explain this to her and she will “get it!”



The doc also encouraged me to seize the potty. She asked if we had a potty and I told her all about how interested she seems to be in it. So we will continue to be extra encouraging on the potty front. The doc cautioned that all the wanting to please Mommy and helping might come to a halt when she reaches 2 and enters a defiant "no, no, no" stage. She will go to her cubby and pull out a diaper occasionally when she is dirty. Other times if you ask her if she needs a new diaper she will say yes, race for the cubby, and you will discover a perfectly clean and dry diaper. We're gonna keep working on it.


We had chicken parm with shells last night for dinner and since my daughter was sporting a white top, she dined in her diaper. Caroline wasn’t all that hungry, which is typical for her post immunization. She was WILD during the dinner clean up! She raced from her high chair to the trash repeatedly and I finally followed her to see what she was up to. Seems that our daughter has discovered her imagination or has insane mega vision. She was scooping handfuls of “something” from her chair and depositing it, whatever it was, into the trash. Back and forth, back and forth. I just kept thanking her for doing such a good job, you know me, I always encourage cleaning up organizing activities.


While I put her lunch box together, Steve sat with her on the floor and she began spinning, laughing, and saying “wheeeeee!” It was like that spinning video all over again. This girl was in a very good mood, but still wearing just her diaper. Steve asked her, “Are you naked?” and she instantly covered her chest with both hands. We looked at each other – alarmed and stunned. So he asked her again and again she cupped her hands over her chest. Where did this come from? Is she supposed to be aware of nakedness at this point?

Stats

23.1 lbs - up two pounds since her 15 month appointment in May

32.5 inches - grown nearly two inches since May


Two shots today, which she took like a champ. Not a single tear was shed.


Blogbecue in Review

Yesterday we were so happy to be invited to the first of what we hope will be many blogferences. Ethan and his parents graciously hosted at their house where we had a yummy "linner" and enjoyed a sunny mild Saturday with Sammy V and Chase along with their entourages. These blog get togethers are a funny thing because though I had only met Sammy's fam once and had never officially met Ethan's, I feel as if I know them courtesy of their blogs. I can almost hear it now...

Random future person (perhaps a classmate of theirs at a prestigious college where all the children have been awarded FULL SCHOLARSHIPS! woo hoo!!): So Caroline, how do you know Sammy and Ethan?
Caroline of the future: Oh, the blog.
Random future person: bewildered silence

If it's even possible, these babies are cuter in person. Ethan shared many delicious smiles and Sammy was quite the talker. Chase, Ethan's cousin visiting from points north is at the reach and grab stage which I loved so much with Caroline. We missed the C3s and Rylan, especially when we unleashed our toddler and she was terrifyingly out of control for all but perhaps 10 minutes of the entire afternoon.

You never know what Caroline you are going to get. This was post nap wild Caroline who loves to run outside and since there was not one dog, but TWO - she was in absolute heaven petting them and chasing after them with their toys. Steve and I tag teamed it, but wow, was she exhausting. The silver lining was that she was pooped and in bed before 8. Let's just pretend that I didn't wake up at 4AM to hear her singing the ABC song to herself for about 30 minutes before she settled back down. I watched her from bed laying down on her back, kicking her feet, singing, wide awake.

So back to my own personal Tasmanian devil. I was sad that I was not able to really sit and chit chat IN PERSON, but mostly I am sorry that Caroline may have slightly terrified the new parents about toddlerdom. Caroline is in that awkward age where she wants to be completely independent, but she still needs constant supervision. Sure she can climb the stairs, but there is still a possibility that she might trip getting up or fall backwards. She knows how to follow directions and not to go near the dog's water bowl, but she goes over just to see how far she can push you. It's that weird place where you want to let her run, but you also know that you need to be watching her. You want to for example, let her explore under the table, but you still don't think it's the best idea. We were constantly picking our battles and when you're trying to pick battles with an audience, well, that is always challenging. There were mini-tantrums all afternoon about many, many things and her little pig tails underneath her sun hat looked more like little horns at the end of the day, which really seemed pretty appropriate.

I had no idea what to bring to amuse her because - you never know what Caroline you are going to get. Today is a totally different day and today she might have been quite happy sitting on a blanket reading books or coloring. I could have brought an enormous bag of all sorts of amusements, but none would have been as interesting as the Simpsons dominoes that Ethan's mom so wonderfully allowed her to play with that finally got her to sit down for more than 5 minutes. Thank you!

All that being said, she's a toddler and hey, yesterday was pretty representative of what this age is all about. I don't want to leave out that she was sweet to Chase and shared her very dangerous dominoes (it was the right spirit!). She ate at the table with us unrestrained. She climbed onto chairs to read sporadically. She sat on the cooler and said "beep, beep." She sat for whole moments at a time with Ethan's mom. She smiled and laughed and she really did have a great day!

So - in review - the blogbecue was great fun, exhausting for the McFam, and while we certainly hope we can do it again - we hope that perhaps Caroline's other personality - the one we got to spend the morning with today, who sat and read books for close to an hour, who went to her cubby and pulled out a new diaper when she needed one, who helped us clean up and just sat with me under her blanket - might attend the next one. Otherwise we might need to bring Baby Benadryl or something to knock her out.

It really was so nice to see you all in person and if we didn't scare you too much - let's try to plan another one!

An "unconfirmed" tornado

A quick note is necessary to ensure that last night's storm doesn't get lost in the weekend review! We had the scariest storm here yesterday at around 6pm. The clouds moved in, the wind started whipping through the trees, and I peered outside to a green sky that sent shivers down my spine. I might have slept through a tornado as a baby, but I recall in great detail my father's account of the one that went through our backyard and the sky in his story was also green. I tried to remain calm, but wasn't really successful, and turned on the weather to hear the beeping of a severe storm watch and then a tornado watch and then the hail started pelting the house and we grabbed Caroline, flashlights, a candle, and our dinner plates and headed to the basement. We lost power shortly thereafter and the hail got bigger and the wind whipped harder and I said a quiet prayer for my family to be safe. I just kept thinking that if this tornado actually did arrive we would have no warning. We peeked upstairs a few times and saw the Sucktaculars tree down across a side street and puddles of rain forming on the wood floor beneath our front windows . The rain was roaring down fiercely from the North. We noticed the leaves flying in an eerie circular pattern. It thankfully did not last too long and we were able to survey the damage and thank God that our big tree out front withstood the storm. Others were not so lucky and we went on a little trip around our part of town that revealed downed wires, trees blocking entire streets, trees that narowly missed houses, flooding so deep that people had their kayaks out and ready to roll. Our little part of town got the worst of this storm. A visitor to my neighbor this afternoon had come from just a few blocks away and there was nothing like what we had around her. We are so very lucky.

1 & 1/2 Trips Around the Sun

Month Milestone

My daughter quietly turned 18 months old this week. I didn’t post about it because I can’t seem to get it together to take her 18-month photo to start the new Picasa album, as if the Picasa album update is essential to me noting a significant month milestone?

A year and half. My daughter is halfway through her second trip around the sun. I’ve been watching her more closely the last couple nights at dinner, taking mental notes on the things she can do in hopes that at this Monday’s pedi appointment I won’t appear to know exactly nothing about my daughter and her development. Sure, she can stack two blocks, use a toddler fork or spoon like a pro to shovel enormous bites of fruit cocktail or shepherd’s pie into her mouth, spin in a circle, color/scribble, give hugs on demand (kisses too with sound effects if she’s in the mood), and she’s even saying lots of words on a regular basis. I just adore that first morning “Hi!” This time I feel equipped to answer the barrage of questions.

I’ve got questions too! The only meat Caroline eats is chicken nuggets and hidden ground turkey in things like shepherd’s pie or tacos. Try as I might to offer her meat in its natural form, she is either unwilling to try it or chews on it for what feels like hours before spitting it out. So Meat? Can I just try some peanut butter already? Also, that little dry patch of skin on her head – is that something we ought to be more concerned about? And the ears. I just made the follow up appointment at Children’s in December. I suppose we should talk about those ears again too. The cold season will be creeping up on us sooner rather than later. I have to say that I am shocked that we didn’t have an ear infection with this latest cold that won’t seem to completely release her from its grip. While we didn’t end up dealing with an infection, Caroline did learn how to blow her nose into a Kleenex. (SCORE!) I hope they will take a quick looksey in those ears just for the heck of it – you never know with Little Miss Stealth Ear Infection.

I am sad that the doc won't likely ask about other stuff though, like can she spin? Can she dance? What's her favorite toy? Favorite book? What does her hair look like blowing in the wind? Does she like to smush sand castles? Is she into shoes? What about hats? What does she sleep with at night? Does she nod her head in reply to every question posed to her? What about her smile - does it make your heart leap? These questions all seem infinitely more important to me than height weight percentages, block stacking and utensil usage.

She says "weeee" when she spins. She bounces her little tush and stamps her feet and we call that dancing. It is the best dancing I have ever seen. Her favorite toys are her dollies and a pink stuffed bear that she has to bring to school each day. Unless you count books, which would mean 100 First Animals would be her favorite, followed closely by The Napping House - loves to find the kitty on each page. How can you describe her hair blowing in the beach air - you can't - but I will never forget what it looks like. Does she like to smush castles - no - she LOVES to. She's very much into footwear often requesting a change of shoes just because. She's constantly trying to wear my shoes and she likes to pick out my shoes for me in the morning. Hats too. Lately she won't leave the house without her sun bonnet and this morning we had a bit of a disagreement when she wanted her hat and I wanted to restrain her curls in a clip. She says "hatt." At night she sleeps with a Nemo, a bunny that plays twinkle twinkle, a bear Steve brought back from a business trip, and a giraffe lovey. Most mornings she kicks them all out of her crib in the time it takes us to rouse from sleep to retrieve her. You could ask her if the sky was green and she would smile and nod enthusiastically. I know - her agreeable nature will not last forever. "No" is quickly becoming an oft used word. And yes, her smile makes me smile with my whole body. Those are the things I will remember about my 18 month-old Caroline. Those are the things about now that I would like to deep freeze and defrost in 50 years.

Rocking Mr. Meat and Potatoes World

I announced at dinner last night that I would like to eat less meat. Mr. Meat and Potatoes did not exactly take this statement well, that is to say he took it very seriously. He immediately thought I was suggesting that I become a vegetarian (and by I, he thought I meant we) which at this time I do not intend to do. I merely suggested that I (not the rest of the house!) would like to eat less meat. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy it; I like a juicy steak as much as the next guy. I just don’t see the need to have it every night of the week. Since my pregnancy, chicken is difficult to look at raw or cooked and meat just hasn’t been my favorite thing in the world. To Steve, this just feels like yet another “out of nowhere” change that I am making in my life, and he is partly right. I say, if you aren’t enjoying something make it better. (actually I don't say that, but I am saying it now!) So in order to make myself feel better about the food I am eating and with Steve being so compromising, we agreed to one non-meat meal a week. I am not talking about tofu, think eggplant parm or pasta with veggies or black bean burgers. Heck, while we’re changing our menu – let’s add a fish in too. We hardly ever eat it because it is so expensive, but one night splitting a filet of white fish would do us (and our bodies) a world of good. If I could only find a way to motivate myself to work out on T, W, Th I would be on my way to a much healthier lifestyle.

Caroline I am sure will be very on board with the non-meat meal since it would be a night she wouldn’t be offered something she ends up spitting out and we all know she loves non-meaty options. Don’t worry Steve, I am not out to turn your precious daughter from omnivore to herbivore, we’ll keep sneaking that turkey in somehow! Just saying though, she loves her some eggplant parm!

Staycation? Vacation?

I can’t believe I am referencing my own tweet – but there really is a calypso band here today and I really do feel simultaneously in need of a grand tropical vacation and instantly rejuvenated. Quite a metaphor for the current pickle I find myself in. Daring to break out and do something amazing, yet so comfortable and aware of how good I have it that a "staycation" doesn’t sound so bad. Is there really time for vacation later? A “staycation” does sound so comfy and lovely and “balancey" doesn't it?

I am using an awkward metaphor to talk about my current work situation. I am hesitant to even write about it here because while I don’t believe my own little corner of the Internet is known to everyone in my life, I can’t be absolutely sure. So for now – I hate to do it readers, but you’ll just have to wait to hear the rest of the story when the future reveals itself, particularly since I myself am not sure how it will all play out.

That should explain my inability to put together a lighthearted post about my amazing daughter. There’s just way too much seriousness in my life right now. I do feel better baring a smidgen of my secret self and briefly opening the curtain a bit into our life. I wish I could poll you all (and don’t think I didn’t consider it!), but what I have come to learn in my 30 years finally is that it is okay for me to make a decision. I can actually decide what kind of sandwich or soft drink I would like to ingest! Without the threat of being “WRONG!” So this decision is mine, with the best interests of my family taking center stage of course. I am not getting all swept up in the “For Me” movement, but thinking that there may be an alternative to our current situation that after deep consideration is mutually beneficial to all parties residing in my house, except Reese. It’s the short end of the stick all the time for her. Sorry, Reese.

So closing the curtain back up – let’s instead talk about Tuesday evening. After two nights of 8pm bedtimes that lasted well past 9 filled with tears, a toddler requesting “up, up, up” ad nauseum from her crib, and me fearing that all our efforts to teach our sweetness to get to sleep solo were being threatened, we achieved an 8:00 bedtime… and watched a movie… and were still in bed by 10:30… and I got to watch my DVR’d Project Runway in prep for tonight’s episode.

{By far the best part of this show is listening to Steve snicker as he falls asleep listening to Blayne say he wants to just “get all dolled up and go dancing.” The B.E.S.T.}

How did we achieve this miraculous feat?? We shoveled dinner down our throats and headed over to “National Night Out,” an anti crime and safety event. Not only was Caroline entertained for nearly an hour, but she also tuckered herself out by running all over, chasing a little train ride, seeing old friends, and playing with the balloon we tied to her shorts. When we arrived home it was right into the tub, cuddly reading time, and bingo bango – our daughter is back on schedule. We all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Beach Bums

It is Tuesday and by now I am sure you either wholeheartedly accept my typically lengthy weekend recaps or ignore them completely waiting for juicier details of our life later in the week. You can skim, I don’t mind.

Friday

We hit the road for the beach just after 4pm, armed with Cliff bars, two cups of milk, and many amusements. Caroline did magnificently, though as has become protocol, I was a bit woozy from the constant turning around to amuse the toddler. Caroline was so so good in the car and did not sleep a wink, which was the plan. Kiki and Papa had prepared a lovely dinner for us and welcomed us warmly. Caroline hit the hay a bit late, but was no worse for the wear – meaning she did not exactly sleep in.

Saturday

It was a strange day at the beach. The air was hot and humid one moment and then cool with a foggy mist the next. We all sat out on the beach until thunder rumbled in the distance in the early afternoon. Caroline had an absolute blast playing on the beach, smooshing pail castles, and begging Papa to take her back into the water. Kiki found this and it has been amazing to have. Though we typically start out the beach day in swimsuit and shirt, we typically end up in swimmie diaper and this shirt, which is so fabulously easy. Auntie k even came down for the day! We were left to our own shopping devices when Kiki and Papa traveled north into Boston to check out a wedding venue with Auntie C and Uncle Hokie. Traffic on Route 3? An accident? No problem for us! We went back roads and found our way to Derby Street after just one quick stop for directions.

Poor Auntie k got to see Shopper Caroline in action. She handles stores fine if she is in her stroller, with a snack and amusements. Unleash her stroller free and you find yourself suddenly chasing around a little girl who is not racing about aimlessly, but legitimately shopping the racks. Try to restrain her at that point – woe! I thought about returning to the car for the stroller, but knew that getting her restrained at that point would have been a futile battle. The shoppers met back up with Kiki and Papa for dinner and after one of us had a nice little (and very necessary) catnap on the ride back. Caroline did amazingly well considering the more than hour wait for a table at dinner and did she eat? What didn’t she eat??? It was a late night for her, but Papa got her to settle down to sleep.

So where was Steve all this time? At the Sox game sitting in the Monster seats with Sean, Marc, and Booty. Perhaps you saw him?? Youkilis hit a homer in the first inning that went right to them! Yup!!! What happened to the ball? No, he doesn’t have it. Did he give it away? HA HA – no. It hit his hand, bounced off, and went behind them to the row behind them. He thinks that if he had ducked they would have gotten it. So sad, but he had a great time!

Sunday

Steve was back at the beach before 9 AM – which was astounding considering I had not planned on seeing or hearing from him before noon. The fog burned off and it was another picture perfect beach day. Caroline couldn’t be kept from the beach and we packed up while she enjoyed more time with Papa in the surf. We usually capitalize on a nap for the ride back and leave around 11:30 –12:00, but she was having so much fun with Papa and her second cousins that she was showing no signs of tiredness. We eventually called it a day at nearly 1 – rinsing off the sunscreen and sand in the outdoor shower, giving her some lunch, and saying our goodbyes. Caroline was asleep before we even crossed the bridge out of town and she slept until nearly 4:30. How do you think our night went on Sunday? – yeah, about that well. You play, you pay. While it did mean a bedtime struggle, spending those extra two hours with family was priceless and totally worth every pleading “time to go night, night.” We had a bit of a late night last night too – but we will get her back on track in time. Sometimes it is just worth it. Creating those memories and times seem far more important than keeping her on schedule.

The Dictator of Coloring Etiquette

I can’t post this without including some cute little Caroline story. Last night, while I was cleaning the dinner dishes, Steve was coloring with Caroline in the family room. Suddenly, “nooo!” She didn’t want Daddy to color there, or with that color. Our little dictator wanted to control his every coloring move. That’s Caroline. As soon as he would say, “ok, do you want Daddy to color with this crayon?” “Yeah!” So long as she feels she is the one calling the coloring shots, all is well.

We were down in the basement switching the laundry over and she wanted to climb into old standby – the swing. We thought, what the heck, and seeing her in the swing that once made her look so tiny brought alarming realization at just how big our little girl really is. We’ve come so far.