Eating, Shredding, and Hand Wringing

Caroline appears to be living on air and cinnamon schoolhouse cookies from Traders. She did not eat well all weekend long and even her beloved breakfast has been compromised, but by what? Teeth are the most likely culprit. Dinners have become challenging and while she is at the very least drinking her milk (and ordering us to drink along with her) it is hard to sit down together for dinner and have her pushing her food away from her after two bites and I am being generous saying she eats two bites! Even the standbys are getting shunned. I know this is a common issue with toddlers, but man alive, I worry that those already too big jeans are going to just shimmy down her body if she doesn’t pick it up in the eating department. Now snacks, they are a different issue altogether. She would snack all day long on bits of this and that. We warned them this morning at school and they said she eats all day long, so perhaps it is the sitting down for a meal that she is opposed to? My current plan of attack is to send her with lots of healthy options and know that she is eating at school.

Note I said we warned them. Yup, Steve made a special guest appearance at drop off today. He and two of his colleagues had to catch a train into the city for a meeting. So I drove Steve to the train and I will go and pick him up at the station this afternoon. Based on the emails I got this morning he wasn’t a big fan of a commute into the city.

My arms hurt. My legs burn when I walk down stairs. We “officially” started the 30-Day Shred last night. Now it suddenly occurs to me that this might have been a better plan for say May with swimsuit season staring me in the face. Instead I choose the season of sweaters and forgiving layering to shred my bod. This isn't about vanity, it is purely for fitness. I just want to see some definition, hopefully some improvements in my abs, and FEEL healthy. Jillian is a beast. As Steve and I entered circuit 3 of 3 I was actually looking forward to sure to be killer last 60 seconds of abs so I could lie down. It was an amazing 20-minute work out and it is terrifying to think we will subject ourselves to her evil ways each night for the next 30 days, but I am willing to give her a month to change our lives. We figured that doing this together will keep us honest and also provide an outlet for frustration and encouragement. Twenty minutes people. I’ll update our progress this month but I promise without the “come look at my awesome body!” photos a la Sundry.

A work note – a case I submitted to the Department of Social Services – Protective Services just exploded. The subject of the investigation passed away last night and the circumstances are suspicious. I made the referral in early August and Protective Services had not been able to speak to the subject or get into his home as of two weeks ago. I am incredibly sad, incredibly frustrated, and feeling incredibly guilty that there was nothing more I could do. The system is flawed.

Sunday

Sunday highlights because I know if I wait until Monday or Tuesday they might be banished from my memory.

Steve arrived home just before nap time and I think it is safe to say that this was the highlight of Caroline's day. All morning she kept asking for Daddy, "calling" him on the phone, pointing to the door and saying "Daddy?" I think she rested better knowing that all was well in her little world; Daddy had returned.

Caroline and Reese had some real quality time, complete with Caroline laying on Reese's back and kissing her. I wouldn't say the feeling is mutual, but Reese is tolerating her much more these days.

We built Caroline's first fort this afternoon. Didn't we all do this when we were kids? I loved making forts with couch cushions and afghans. In a moment of brilliance we moved her Learning Home into the corner created between the couches and now the door serves as a door to her secret corner. I stashed her books in a basket inside and I think she will be happy as a HUM clam hiding out over there. It was too tempting NOT to make it into a fort and so one Northeastern blanket later us girls were happily sitting in the corner in our fort with Caroline attempting to echo my "no boys allowed."

McBossy herself orders us to drink with her. No Marc and Uncle Hokie, not shots of Jager. She says "joosh" and points to each of our glasses at dinner and we all drink together. This is an amazing way of getting her to drink more milk, but seriously - BOSSY!!!

While we were cleaning up dinner Caroline put on her fridge DJ and at the end of the song it says "all right." There must have been an echo because poof, "all right!"

We're getting into "mine" lately and tonight during her bath I got all sad when she pushed my hand away from the watering can and said "MINE!" with a devilish grin. She responded to my pouts first with laughter and then by handing me the toy. I gave it back to her and thanked her for sharing.

While I hesitate to type this out - I think we got the bedtime separation anxiety thing figured out. I explain the whole thing many times to her, reassure her, put her and Abby down just the way she likes to be snuggled up in her crib, sing one song, say goodnight, and walk out. The trick seems to be leaving the door open until she falls asleep. I can't blame her, I hate sleeping with the door closed. Do people really close their bedroom doors? Even if no one else is home?

We had a fun day, I ain't Lion

Had a great time at a local Children's Museum today with Ethan and Amanda . The weather held out long enough for us to enjoy some bubbles outside, for Caroline to get "chased" by a puppet lion, and for the kids to utterly exhaust themselves. Caroline had a ball playing in the water area and racing about brushing huge teeth, climbing stairs, playing with fruit, watching golf balls fly through machines. There were soaking wet khakis, multiple Purell sessions, and not a single meltdown! I kept her awake for the ride back home with snacks, but she conked out en route to the house in about 3 seconds. The absolute icing on the cake for me was getting to talk to Amanda without constantly having to race after a toddler. It's funny how easy it is to spend time with someone you've only met once when they have a blog you are able to stalk. =) Ethan was his adorable self, so interested in all the people and goings on. He really is the most well tempered baby! He was wearing sporty denim and I had to hold myself back from not lifting his little jeans up to bite his adorable baby thighs. Edible that Ethan - edible.

We miss Steve. Caroline keeps looking for Daddy, calling for him throughout the house, pretending to call him on the phone. Tonight we called him and interrupted boys nights so Caroline could say "night, night." I don't think Steve feels it was an interruption, it was the first time she's said it and she said it to him.

The girls made lasagna, ate Hoodsie cups (she fed me! and said yum after every bite the way I do when I am trying to get her to like something), snuggled, played with Abby, and by bedtime she was so pooped from all the fun of her exciting Saturday that she closed her eyes the instant I put her down (and Abby was at her side).

So thanks Amanda and Ethan for a really great afternoon. It won't be long before Ethan gets his own water smock and the two of them are racing all over running away from that scary lion!

At your service Auntie C

This one is for you... and the masses too, but mostly for you...

A symphony of whining

It's been a whine fest this morning, thankfully when we arrived at the Mall play area I realized I am not in the minority as it seemed ALL the children were whiny. Just as sure as someone with a bum knee can tell rain is heading in, I now have a storm alert of my very own. There was whining because she wanted to watch "neh-mo" when we were already watching "ah-rel." Then whining because I wanted to put her shoes on. Even more whining because she was whining. Thank god I had the clarity to get us out of the house early and up to the play place. It was packed, she had fun, and she rode her first electronic 50 cent ride - a "tuck." It was very cute.

We made a pit stop at Trader's... hit up TJs for some onesies which they did not have and instead found a couple books to put away for December... plowed through the onesie selection at Macy's and disdainfully accepted that all they had in her size were plain white... and flew around the pink pj rack at Children's Place to find 3, any 3, feetie pjs size 24 months. We also picked up 2 emergency ponchos for Steve at Bed Bath and Beyond for the BC game tomorrow, which looks like it is going to be quite wet. There has already been a ridiculous phone call about what to wear a la 8th grade.

Caroline and I are hunkering down the rest of the day. I have some sour cream so we might bake some cookies and I already have her painting book on the table ready to go. Wish me an afternoon of minimal whining and fun with my little girl who incidentally is wearing overalls for the first time today. They make her look so tall!

Caro want a cracker?

So those of you who followed along while I twittered jury duty already know this, but I had jury duty yesterday and while I was impaneled (is that even the right term?) for most of the day for a civil case, I ultimately ended up being excused thanks to my stay at home mom status two days a week and a position that pays me hourly. I read most of Mary Karr’s “The Liar’s Club” and got a little sunburn from sitting outside at lunch in the sun.

The lawyer who was interviewing me during the selection process got really flustered when I told them I was at home with no child care options on Mondays and Fridays and even made his frustrations known by saying, “This would have been helpful to have known this morning.” Um, yeah buddy, I KNOW! Believe you me, if I could have told you earlier I would have, but there was no place on the silly questionnaire for me to list that I am paid hourly and work part-time and have a 19-month old daughter. I held my tongue, but SERIOUSLY? Is he kidding? What attitude.

For those who know me personally you know I was sweating bullets as I waited my turn to be questioned. Thank God the book is a good read, it kept me distracted from all the horrible memories I have of my 3-month stint as a grand juror in MA in 2001. Good times… I was thinking up every out I had and not because I don’t believe in the trial by jury system or because I feel that I am somehow above serving, but because I think that I have fulfilled my lifetime’s civic duty with my time on that Grand Jury and I will go toe to toe with anyone who feels otherwise. That experience is why I chose a busy, big daycare center with no walls and lots of cameras. There are things in my own life that I cannot recall in the kind of excruciating detail I carry around of testimony about several home invasions, brutal attacks of women, and a decapitation tossed in for good measure. I’ll just leave it at that.

So I was off doing my civic duty yesterday and when I was finally released I picked up my daughter early from day care and we had ourselves a nice little afternoon taking Abby for a walk, watching Ariel, and cooking up some chop suey for dinner.

Michelle and I were talking this morning about Caroline’s anal tendencies. Between the two of us, Caroline doesn’t have a chance at being anything but a neat freak. She also said that the girls (Caroline, Hannah/Sonny & Julianna) spend all day bossing each other around, but act like sisters never leaving each other’s sides. She is quite a bossy girl with all her directions; sit, up, ‘dis, mine. She even bosses the cat; “Dowww.” Michelle also said that Caroline is talking more than her little friends and seems to be in the middle of a huge language explosion, which I honestly have to agree with. Caroline turned part parrot overnight and we are having a blast giggling at the silly things she is saying.

Fall meals and steals

The weekend feels like months not days ago.

We’ve got the afternoon drive to MA mastered at this point. I literally pack a huge LL Bean tote full of just about every book we own and some other amusements, hop into the back seat with her, and serve as her personal play assistant for the 2 hour ride. We’re considering the portable DVD player, but in the meantime, she is perfectly content to "read" books the whole ride – provided that she reads them each ONLY ONCE of course. Even if she hasn’t “read it” if she has even seen the cover it is dismissed. If we could somehow work it out that she could dig through the bag herself and retrieve books and toys I could sit up front and not be green from car sickness when we arrive at our destination. Maybe I need to work on some system of smaller totes? It would be a disaster back there and I would have to let go of my orderliness to make it happen. Not sure if I can! (and we wonder where Caroline's neat freakness comes from?)

We were up and out at 9:30 to head to Chestnut Hill for three hours of pregame tailgating. (Yes, Steve was PSYCHED.) We got to see the Eagle walk and she was slightly terrified of the band, but did manage to pull off a couple high fives from the players. Caroline did well, pushing Abby around in the doll stroller, which I was so excited about. She loved it! In fact, she continues to push her baby around at home and now often points to the door and says “walk.” She’s such a good mommy making sure Abby takes her walk and gets some fresh air. The Eagles pulled off the win so all was well in the world. If we had not needed to take a couple shade breaks Caroline would have been content to sit and watch the entire game. She spent most of the game enjoying time with Linda and "Kiki's brother."

We had a scary slip and fall on Saturday night while visiting local friends. Caroline slipped on a stool and hit her head on the fireplace. It sounds worse than it was, though for a few minutes she was totally losing it and I was certain she was bleeding internally. In reality she’s fine, not even a bruise, but she didn’t sleep well at all that night; restless, junky, and completely sweaty. She had a fever on Sunday morning and wasn’t quite herself. We gave her Motrin and she took a nice long nap for the ENTIRE ride home. That hasn’t happened since she was a baby. We called the pedi and made an appointment for Monday just in case.

She went to bed Sunday night (medicated with Motrin) at about 8pm only to wake up about an hour later sweaty and wide awake. The sleep protocol is out the window when she is under the weather, so we let her sit with us, consoled her, snuggled and when we tried to put her back to bed it was an all out fight. Steve had to be up super early and I ordered him to bed, sitting with her in the living room in the darkness singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider on repeat until I finally saw that telltale eye rub. I put her back to bed and watched her on the monitor where she whimpered for a few minutes before finally falling asleep. The last thing I remember is dropping my glasses from my hand onto the floor at about 12:45. It was a long night and at our appointment the pedi declared that it might just be a little bug.

She slept through fine last night and knock on wood that sickness is behind us now.

We had a great day together yesterday, aside from our 5 minute pedi appointment that we waited an hour for! I put together the first crock-pot meal of the season - Five Bean Chili - while Caroline napped. When she woke up, we rearranged the family room a bit making room for the ever growing collection of books and toys before mixing up a batch of cornbread mini muffins. She helped from start to finish and was so involved in the task that when Steve came home she wouldn’t even say hi to him!

It’s official – I have accepted the transition of seasons from summer to fall. Our evening walk was chillier than usual with the absence of the summer sun. The leaves have started changing. The kids are playing outside less and less. I can’t wait to pick apples (when!?!?!) and make an apple pie with my daughter. A sign of fall is warm feetie pjs, so on Friday we picked up a few pair. When I walked into the store they were "Buy One, Get One 50% Off" and when I went to check out the signs were gone. I convinced them to give them to me for the sale price and felt pretty awesome about the deal I was able to get on them.

A couple cutisms:

We’ve got a parrot. I asked her if she wanted to help me cook yesterday and she ran to the chair she always stands on. I said “is this your helper chair?” “Heppa cha”

Open = “Uppy” and lately she wants everything “uppy”

Milk = Mooo

When reading she asks "this" and points at each object, animal, person she does not know ad nauesum. So sweet. I suspect though that this will soon be replaced with the all time parent fav "why?"

Caroline loves, disciplines, and bosses Abby. Between the blanket, the bottle, the new stroller, and a makeshift basket I turned into the perfect baby bed yesterday it’s “Sit” “No, No” “Shhhhh” “Mwah” all day long.

Strawberry Walked Into A Bar

It’s Thriday and this morning when I dropped Caroline off I whispered in her ear that tomorrow she was mine mine mine, all mine. Then I removed Abby from her hands replacing her with a Trader Joe “Strawberry Walked into a Bar” and her milk cup like a magician ripping a tablecloth out from beneath a beautifully set table and poof, there was no meltdown, just a sticky fingered kiss blower waving goodbye to me.

I tucked Abby into Caroline’s car seat (along with her special blanket of course) and I can already hear her exclaims of “Abby! Abby! Mwah,mwah” and wow does that make me smile and want to get out of here.

It’s been a busy Thriday. I ran a program today, went to the “company picnic,” averted my eyes from the Public Works guys who might be responsible for those gashes in my lawn forcing myself to hold my tongue, took some challenging calls, and talked wedding with Colleen for the better part of the afternoon on gchat. All in a days work my friend.

The weather looks gorgeous for Friday and the weekend. We are gearing up for another tailgate and I intend on locating that doll stroller to bring with us. Don’t worry Keeks, it shouldn’t take up too much room!!! I hope!!! Let’s all say a silent prayer for the Eagles to find the endzone more than UCF and that Baldwin will somehow be absent from the tailgating festivities this week.

Also - there is a new link at McCashew Extras to the left. A lovely beanie posted this on our messageboard today and with her permission I linked it. It's worth reading & saving.

Abby

Let’s chat for a moment about Abby

Caroline is borderline obsessed with Abby. She’s enjoyed playing with all her dolls since she could sit up. I’ve cataloged here how she shhs them, snuggles them, covers them in kisses, but her affection for Abby rivals my own affection for Caroline.

Since just before our Cape trip she has wanted Abby to go everywhere with her. We sit her in the grocery cart (at our BJS she even gets strapped in since there are two seats!). She snuggles on car rides long and short, often serving dual functions as both friend and pillow. They sleep side by side in the crib often with Caro’s arm draped protectively across her chest. Monday night Abby even came for a walk in the stroller, with her blanket of course. See Abby also has necessary accessories and attempts to separate her from these items leads to disaster. Abby needs her bottle (she’s quite hungry) and her blanket (a flannel swaddler from way back when) at all times. Caroline struggles to carry all these items around the house with her.

Last night I wondered HOW we would ever get a tub in when Abby is clearly not bath proof. Caroline thought differently yesterday morning when right next to me she raised the toilet seat (I know, I should have a toilet lock, I know.) and splashed little Abby’s feet in the water. Um, Gross.

Steve looked at me last night and said, “is this ok? It’s like she is obsessed with it!” I told him that I think it is quite normal for children her age to develop an attachment to an object like Abby. Some babies have blankies or binkies. Our baby has an Abby (and her cadre of accessories).

Last night she went to be just as 90210 was starting. We did our book, song, and bedtime routine. She was quite awake as I sat on the stairs, watching her legs kick in the air. When I saw her sit up after sitting there for several minutes, I walked over, told her to lay down, that it was time to go to sleep and I would see her in the morning. She lay awake blinking at the ceiling for a bit longer and then silence; the evenness of sleep breathing. Later when we went upstairs, she had not moved and there was not a sound until after 7 this morning.

Steve went down to get her while I was showering and asked her if she wanted to get up. Her answer was “no” and she lay back down. So he covered her up and went back upstairs. For five minutes. As if that was not strange enough after he got her dressed, she and Abby joined him for some Today Show in bed before she officially got up for the day. Post shower, wearing my robe and my towel turban my presence was requested at her side in bed. Do you honestly think I could resist that? It was like Friday morning. All three of us hunkered together as time ticked away, watching the grim news of the world via the Today Show. My daughter slept straight on through the night last night, all is well in our own little world. We left for school/work way late, but with rested smiles on our faces and somehow minus one hat wearing blond yarned doll named Abby.

I see major possibilities for Tailgate entertainment via Abby.

So – does your toddler or older kid have a transitional object they adore? What is it? When did they start loving it? Is separation from the object a serious issue?

Officially accepting the end of summer

We're back!

The photos have been uploaded and we are rejuvenated from our nice long weekend at the Cape. I should say we WERE rested, but I will get to that later. The house we rented was great; well stocked with paper goods and amenities we thought we were going to have to purchase ourselves, plenty of room, and minutes from the beach, downtown, restaurants, and the Island Queen. We spent Thursday acclimating, taking a stroll at the beach, and enjoying each other’s company. Round I of the peppercini contest commenced after lunch. My father easily snared the win, getting out front early. Friday was the nicest day of the weekend and we packed up for the Vineyard ferry bright and early. We spent our day exploring Edgartown, breathing in that “a million miles away from it all” feeling, and noshing at the News. They did NOT have peppercinis and Round II was postponed. What a bummer! We sampled fudge, the boys ate ice cream, we browsed in every Black Dog store, we shopped Vineyard Backwater, and we had many laughs. Caroline had a fit when we tried on a long sleeve t at the Black Dog & she was down for the count napping all through lunch. We caught a late dinner on Friday night at BBC and Cindy schooled us all in “65.” I do not believe for a second that she never wins. You shouldn’t either. The boys golfed on Saturday and Caroline enjoyed the playground located just around the corner from the house. Her tush was soaked from the wet slide, but she didn’t care. Once the boys returned we had Round II and I took an early lead. I convinced my father to concede, but Brett was not so easily swayed. 22 peppers later we were deadlocked with one enormous pepper we nicknamed Mongo remaining on the plate. The unofficial rules were that we could not take more out until every pepper from the plate was consumed. I won’t cry about it – but there was some questionable eating happening across the table. We agreed to tie. I don’t doubt that if one of us had consumed Mongo we would have kept on eating until every last pepper in that jar was gone. It’s a scary thought. We never got to do Round III because Brett left Saturday night, but I suspect we will have more competitions with the remaining peppers in the future. We ate an obscene amount of peppers. OBSCENE! Neil was the only one to officially claim a win so I suppose that makes him the winner. Congrats to the Cape Peppercini Contest Champ! In celebration of our last night together we cooked up lobsters and steak tips for a surf & turf dinner. The weather Sunday was icky and with a long drive ahead of us, we all bailed out before 11AM. The trip took 5 hours with a stop off at the beach to return Papa’s borrowed car and lunch. Caroline conked before we even hit the main road, but it only lasted until the Pike when she woke up screaming from what we suspect was teeth. We pulled off to give her some ibuprofen, but by then it was too late. It made for a long ride home.

Rested and rejuvenated we unpacked and settled Caroline in for a nice night’s rest. Until midnight. We are apparently back to the night waking. She slept solid at the Cape, never waking up once. I thought this might be because the pain of her ear infection was subsiding after a few doses of antibiotics. I never would have imagined that after 4 solid nights sleep she would wake up again, but there I was by her bedside asking her to lay down, rubbing her back, singing her a song. I sat outside her door and caught myself falling asleep, my body mere moments from careening forward. Not such a good thing when you are sitting on stairs. It was the same thing last night – 11:30 – whining from her bed, just wanting someone to sit with her while she fell back asleep. I did the first 20 minutes, Steve did the second and this morning neither of us could pull ourselves up and out of bed. Something has got to give, that or we need to hit the hay a bit earlier.

Caroline and I ran some errands yesterday. I told Steve that this time of year I never feel like a day off is completely ours. Mondays I am putting things back together from a weekend away and Fridays I am packing us up to leave again. There is a constant state of chaos in the house and it becomes a lot for an organized loony like me to take in. So while my lovely slept upstairs, I prepared a new meal – Baked Stuffed Zucchini – and pre-cooked the meats for tonight’s Jambalaya. I also cleaned the floors, the bathroom, and put away a metric ton of books that had been displaced during morning playtime. I did not catch a shower yesterdat, but I felt so much better about the state of the house.

Abby took her first bath Monday afternoon. She’s been getting an awful lot of attention lately from Caroline and she really needed a tub. So we put her in a pillowcase and Caroline watched her go into her dolly tubby. There really is nothing more adorable than having your daughter race to the laundry area to check on her baby. When she was finally deemed dry enough Caroline covered her with kisses, saying her name over and over, and I realized that I have quite a little mother on my hands. At times when we ask her where Mommy is she points to herself and I am beginning to suspect that she fully believes that she is Abby’s mommy. I suppose in many ways she is. She feeds her, wraps her in a blanket, kisses her, diapers her, snuggles with her, sleeps with her. Sounds a lot like being a mommy to me. Our little mother.

So the McFam is back! We had a wonderful time, shared a lot of laughs with Neil the sherpa, ate one heck of a lot of peppercinis, got Steve to play cards two nights in a row during Sox games, and made some really special memories. It now officially feels like Summer is over.

Preparing for Peppercinis

Our bags are packed, the mail has been held, and we are excitedly watching the forecast for the weekend that somehow as time goes on keeps getting better and better. Earlier this week my weekend away spirits were dashed when I spied those terrible clouds with rain decorating each of our days away on the extended forecast. Not everyday will be rain free, but it looks like it will be warmer and less wet than we initially thought, so yay for that!

This time of year is a bit more challenging to pack for. We (I use this term loosely to include the sane women in our family who do actually believe in coats and umbrellas) need shorts, pants, t shirts, sweaters, a light coat, flip flops. That kooky New England fall weather has us perplexed and while it means bringing along double what I thought I would need to, as usual I would rather bring too much then find myself once again collecting the Razzie Mother of the Year Award for neglecting to think of my child’s warmth. She will be absurdly adorable whatever the weather tosses us, that I can assure you!

That absurdly adorable child is STILL sick. In fact, I absolutely cannot recall a time recently that she has not been sick. I honestly believe looking back over this blog that she has had this lingering goopy nose and terrible cough for going on three weeks. WEEKS! We have been playing the usual game of “worth the copay or not?” At first I said yes, then no, then yes, and no and finally this morning after hearing about two sad little girls up in MA who also have ear infections, I am saying yes again. The pedi’s office informed me that they like to see anyone who has had a cough for more than 4 days. Whoops. I made an appointment for this afternoon because the thought of taking off for a weekend getaway and suddenly needing to find a walk-in clinic sounds less than appealing.

So in addition to the last minute running around I have to do, I also need to negotiate an early pick-up, a pedi visit which I hope will take less than my “lunch” hour, and then I will need to entertain Caroline here at work for the last bit of my workday before we head home and into our weekend.

Caroline slept great last night. We took in all the advice that was offered and it really seemed to work out. We removed the little animal collection from Caroline’s crib and let her choose which item she wanted to take to bed with her – no surprise there that she chose her little baby doll. We read books with the baby, snuggled together with the baby, and I listened to another mom who has been there with the separation anxiety and explained each step of the bedtime routine to her. “We’re reading 3 books, then going upstairs, and I will sing you two songs before I wait outside your door.” “We’re reading 2 more books…” I sat outside her room with the door open, not making any eye contact and she fell asleep – partly from exhaustion and partly from a well laid out plan I hope.

We’ll be sticking with it – and we hope that over the weekend there aren’t many more nights like Monday. I’ve got to be rested to win that peppercini eating contest! Brett and my father picked up a BJs size jar of petite peppercini and we will be following the poll – 4 rounds – most rounds won wins. You can look forward to not only the results of the contest, but also many photos of a relaxing trip to the Cape/Islands. It will be Caroline’s first time over to the Vineyard and we are excited to share it with her, if only for a day. I suspect she will be appropriately Black Dog and Backwater outfitted on the return ferry trip.

and then there was sleep

Morning brings some perspective, but also heightened confusion. It’s obviously a contact lens free day for me today and my overall appearance is a bit disheveled… thrown together hastily. Caroline slept until about 7:15 after she finally conked out just after 4am. My last trip into her bedroom involved me saying, “Lay down,” covering her with her blanket, and rubbing her back for a millisecond. Of course, while I watched her back rise and fall with the sure signs of a content sleep over the monitor, my own eyes would not stay closed and I thought I was done for. I lulled the cat to my side and pressed my ear into her neck where I could hear her happy to be invited purr which did help get me sleepy until my mind drifted to the ever growing list of things I want to do, have to do, or need to organize for our trip to the Cape this weekend with my family.

Just when we think we have this gig mastered or at least achieved some predictable patterns…

I am up in the air about the pediatrician. She is snuffly, coughing, teething. She was not inconsolable or even interested in being held. The one time I did pick her up to calm her after her initial wake up call resulted in her pointing to her bed and squirming from my arms. She wanted to go to bed. She just didn’t want me to leave.

Where did this sudden Mommy attachment come from? On one hand this does show me that together we have developed a healthy Mommy –baby attachment. My googling last night helped me find some books I would like to read with her (The Goodbye Book - Judith Voirst, The Kissing Hand – Audrey Penn) and it did make me feel better to read that most babies/toddlers experience at least one period of separation anxiety as part of normal development. So Caroline’s new anxiety is within the range of normal, occurring during the second half of her second year and supposedly will likely drop off as her language skills improve. We’ll just have to ride this one out… and get to bed a lot earlier.

I neglected my weekend recap with all these goings on.

As I am sure you are ALL aware, the Boston College first home football game was this past Saturday and if you think there was anywhere else in the world that this McFamily would be you are clinically insane. The forecast looked dreary – thanks to Hanna – leaving me wondering if Caroline and I would even venture out the front door. In monsoon conditions we would be staying at Steve’s parents watching Nemo on repeat. In drippy annoyingly sprinkling conditions we would attend the tailgate and skirt towards drier ground back at the McFam homestead for the game. The weather report seemed to change continuously and ultimately landed on hot, humid, and grey. We actually had hot, humid and blazing sun. Too hot for Caroline, but she did make it through a quarter and a half in her seat, amusing herself putting on and taking off a water bottle top while clapping along with the crowd. We spent the majority of our time in the attached Conte Forum, where we met up with Kiki (and Auntie C for a short time). Caroline refused all snacks, water, and even ice cream. We went back to the stands just in time to watch the Eagles last ditch effort to recover… they didn’t. It was a bit of a long night after Caroline took a much needed and deserved nap in the car on the way home, but she made it through her second home opener with flying colors. She’s a trouper that Caroline.

The highlight/lowlight of the day was seeing Baldwin the Eagles mascot. We wanted to capture a family photo with him, but as soon as he looked at Caroline it was all over. Her face changed and she sobbed, terrified (!) into her Daddy’s shoulder. We saw him again in the stadium as we made our way to Conte and again, the tears and FEAR. I think any pipe dream of taking her to Disney anytime soon is gone.

Elusive Sleep

Yup, the post time down there isn't wrong. It is nearly 4 am right now and I am getting that deja vu feeling of being up around the clock with a very tiny baby. My Caroline was up at 5 am on the dot Monday morning leaving me exhausted and confused. I don't know about you, but I can't really argue with a child at that hour. Caroline is old enough now that so long as she isn't in distress she will lay down if you ask her to. She nodded off just long enough for me to barely fall asleep again and we were up for the day with Noggin blaring (or did it just feel that way to my desperate to sleep eyes and ears?) at 5:30.

She has been sick for a month. That lingering cough and runny nose still allude rhyme or reason. She has at least one new tooth coming in that is giving her a bit of trouble. She has been pointing to her ear and saying ow. During the waking hours, at least the normal waking hours for the rest of the world, her mood has been great, normal, happy. One minute I think - teeth. She's ok. The next I think respiratory infection, ear infection, teething to boot. There is no guidebook to get me through.

Tonight, or should we just say this morning, she woke us standing in her crib calling out at 2:30. That was after we struggled to get her to sleep even with the use of ol' standby; Motrin. I thought I could ward off the painful teething, but at this point I don't even know what woke her. She handled me poking around in her mouth without a peep, tugging on her ear without so much as a grimace, and basically it all seems to boil down to her not wanting me to leave her room. My independent girl is suddenly afraid of being alone? Each time I left her room last night she seemed to panic and as soon as I returned she was able to lay down, get comfy, and eventually she fell asleep - without my presence.

I got up at 2:30 and then again at 2:45. At that point I just went and sat with her, my head against her window, eyes drooping, saying shhhhhh over and over. When I returned to our room at 3:00 and she cried again, but since she wasn't in distress, did not appear to be in pain, and kept smiling at me I ignored it. It is now nearly 4 and both Caroline and I appear to be wide awake at this point. While my eyes are open and I wonder if I could even fall back asleep at this point, the nauseous feeling in my belly tells me that I am dead tired. At last look Caroline was sitting with her back to the crib wall, pulling her shirt over her head. Before that she was jumping up and down. Before that she was playing with her little giraffe. She's in fine spirits and clearly as awake as I am. Every now and then I walk in, tell her to lay down, cover her up, pat her back and walk out again.

Where's Steve? I ordered him to sleep too. I don't see why both of us need to suffer - at least not tonight.

I always find myself saying that nature tricks us. Nature makes us forget about all that sleep we lost with our infants, all those nights we were the alternating walking dead. Nature, I am so on to you. This little reminder has been loud and clear and the thought of sleep being this elusive again absolutely terrifies.

I am not sure that she would even sleep if I did bring her upstairs, but at this point, it feels like a lost cause. I foresee late night/early morning googling on toddler sleep, upper respiratory infections, and separation anxiety in my immediate future - mixed with a healthy dose of "lay down" calm and comfort sessions. I am sticking to my guns, she's staying put. She can be as stubborn as she wants to staying awake for whatever reason she is, but I am twice as stubborn and those crib walls are keeping her firmly planted there come hell, high water, or daybreak.

I'll take that worst Mom award now.

In my worst mom acceptance speech I would have many people to thank; Caroline of course for putting up with all my faults and still loving me intensely, the elderly park volunteers who stayed with me keeping me calm and allowed me to borrow their cellphone, and of course the local Fire Department for coming so quicky and being so wonderful.

We've had an exciting day and it is only 2pm. We ran an errand and headed to a newer park in town that we hadn't tried out yet. I suspected that post play I might have a car sleeper on my hands and so I wanted to change her diaper before we even left the car. I got out my supplies and put them on the passenger seat while simultaneously handing my daughter the car keys to lessen the screaming, "DAH! DAH!" oh yes, she saw the park too and she wanted OUT of that car. I jumped out and ran around the other side to free her and click. She had locked herself in.

I stood there frozen, forcibly smiling at my toddler, watching her holding the keys pushing buttons, but not the unlock button. She popped the trunk. She locked the doors again and again. She tossed the keys.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO" It was in my head, but I literally slid down the car in desperation. My phone, my wallet, my DAUGHTER were in the car. I miraculously located three older gentlemen who were doing some volunteer gardening. They let me borrow their phone, we called 911, they stayed with me and kept me from completely breaking down.

Did I mention it was hot or that I had parked in the sun?

The fire engine arrived within 10 minutes, sirens blaring, and they had her out in record time. I had to sign a waiver about damage to the car, but honestly, if I had been wearing heels I would have broken the window if I could have. They got her out and assured me that this happens more often than I thought. I don't know if they were serious or if they were just being kind, but either way I am indebted to them for handling it so well and being so sweet to her afterwards.

We waved goodbye. We thanked them. I hugged my sweaty daughter a bit closer. We played on the playground. Caroline made some new friends. We have a new rule about car keys.

We're fine. It was scary. We are shaken, but ok. I hope this PSA might save another family from a similar scary situation. If you ever do find yourself there, call 911. It took moments.

Baby Dear

Way back in the winter when I was searching high and low for airplane amusements, I flipped through the bookrack at TJ Maxx and saw a Little Golden Book Treasury. I flipped through it quickly; “The Pokey Little Puppy,” “The Color Kittens,” “Baby Dear.” My hands stopped and my breath slowed and I didn’t even have to turn to page to picture each beautiful illustration. I had loved this book as a child, devoured it, read it over and over by the light of my nightlight surrounded by a protective circle of stuffed animals as I listened while reading for my parents’ telltale footsteps on the stairs. (They warned me it was bad for my eyes, but I heeded no warning.)

I am always stunned by how some things, quirky and strange, can bring you right back to another time and place. This book does that for me. This little book is about a new baby coming home and how a girl turned big sister has both a new baby sister and a “baby dear” all her own to take care of. She moves about her day following her mother’s lead, mimicking all her care and love with her new doll. I had to buy the book. I swore I would bring it with us for the flight – it held several stories worth of reading, surely a worthwhile pack. It wasn’t. At that stage Caroline wouldn’t have tolerated all that text and so few pictures and deemed too heavy, it stayed at home on my bureau.

Only recently did it make its way downstairs to Caroline’s ever expanding bookshelf and there it has been loved many times over. Imagine my happiness that my own little girl loves to read “Baby Dear” over and over and over. It is one of a select few books that I can end and begin again without her even moving a muscle. Sharing this book with her could only be better if I had been able to share my original book with her. (Mom Dad is it possible we might still have this somewhere hidden away – and what about Dick and Jane???)

I suspect that we will be keeping her video monitor in her room for a long time coming. I am sensing a growing circle of animal protectors gathering round a night light for late story telling. I see Mr. Toad and Friends, Little Bear, an entire two part children’s literature anthology that I recently took ownership of that had been my company through many of those nights. I foresee a stealth stair listener capable of jumping into bed as quickly as I used to in an attempt (was it in vain?) to go undetected as "still awake." That's where the monitor comes in, but I don't think I will stop her every time because I also see a little girl immersed in reading, with an imagination so vibrant that her mind paints prettier pictures than those on the pages, a raven-haired early reader. It makes me smile. It’s a little me, only she’s just now on the brink of it all, and I am so excited for her.

Baby Dear

Bedtime Hypothesis

Thriday has arrived yet again and the ladies of the house greeted the day with a shared bagel and cantaloupe. I finally had the wherewithal to put together my sandwich last night when I made up her lunch. I was able to sit with her for breakfast this morning and not simply shovel Cheerios down my gullet between lunch making, breakfast clean up, dishwasher emptying, and other evil morning tasks. It was refreshing, refreshing enough for me to do it more often. She hid behind her hands and smiled at me with her whole self and when her bagel proved to be a bit too chewy and I made her cinnamon toast instead, she shared it with me. She’d hand me a piece, I’d bite off a tiny bit, and deposit the rest in her mouth – piranha style chomping with giggles of course.

“Ah dawn” “Dooowwwwwwn” “eeeeeeessse”

and with that we were off to work.

The freshness ceased yesterday, even though Wednesdays are the only day she and Sonny/Hannah have in common. All reports indicated that she was behaved and her regular good girl self.

I finally caught up with my parents last night and chatted for a bit with my mother about Caroline’s very fresh day and the potty. She said that I was potty trained early and that I was probably training at about this time. Since my little lady appears to be taking after me in quite a few areas, it was good to hear, makes me feel a little better about taking these momentous steps. My mother loves that Caroline is my little shadow; apparently I too emulated my Mommy. She just loves helping and all the praise that goes with it. Even in the midst of a total tearful breakdown I can hand her a cloth and spray some Antibacterial Spray and she is suddenly smiling. She wipes the dishwasher, her table, her chair, and the stove. Her favorite cleaning tools are the Swiffer, the vacuum (which you absolutely must let her push), and the Swiffer duster. If her bib falls off mid meal she tries to put it back on and when she’s finished she takes it and puts it into the handy dandy bib bag I made in the kitchen. (I should post the details of that – it’s ingenious and easy and I don’t know how I lived without it!) She takes such excellent care of all her babies; feeding them from the bottle, patting their backs, shhing, kissing them – although she also bites them, throws them on the ground with all her might and smothers them with blankets. Before we consider bringing another baby into this house, I think we need to clarify exactly what a good mommy does to take care of her babies.

I’ve been allowing Caroline to brush my teeth when we brush hers before bed. She brushes the front teeth as I say “cheese” and then inevitably she says “ahhh” to get me to open my mouth before sticking the toothbrush directly to the back of my throat gagging me. This is apparently HYSTERICAL. Where did she learn the “ahhh?” am I doing in without realizing it?

(SPEAKING OF TEETH – she is getting her fourth bottom tooth and a bottom molar!)

One more thing worth noting from this week is that we seem to have entered new territory in the falling asleep department. We’ve had pretty much the same bedtime routine since she was a baby; bath, books, bed. After the last book is read, we turn out the light and snuggle for a few minutes. Sometimes I make up a silly song about her day or simply tell her what a great day tomorrow will be. Lately she sort of indicates that she is ready to head to her room by repositioning herself and moving away from me. Steve kisses her on the forehead and I put her to bed, with little fanfare and usually a short soft backrub and kiss. It seems like this entire week she has been up for an hour or more past this, standing up in her crib, tossing every stuffed creature out, and eventually howling. We are firmly planted in the “settle yourself down” camp at this point, but as the clock approaches 9pm and she’s been in bed since before 8, we can’t help but wonder what gives? So when I do eventually collapse beneath the pressure of continued cries from upstairs I find a little girl who WANTS to lay down, who DOESN’T want to snuggle, who generally just needs to be calmed down a few moments at which time she points to her crib, reaching for her blanket. If I leave then, as I have in the past, the cries continue. So I have a hypothesis that this is a new separation anxiety thing. Last night I just went back in, rubbed her back, touched her hair gently, told her that it was ok to go to bed, that I would see her in the morning. I stayed for perhaps all of three minutes, but it seemed that those three minutes of reassurance, coupled with exhaustion, lulled her to a sense of safety that brought sleep quickly. Is this common? Are other toddlers who have never been wary of nighttime separation suddenly and without reason doing this?

Fresh Hands

I did some diaper research yesterday and after feeling quite dizzy comparing packages with cool strips and training diapers and Easy Ups vs. Pull Ups I turned to the message board beanies. With their advice in hand, I headed into school at pick-up ready to buy whatever Michelle recommended. She thinks that for now we should just stick with what we are doing. For one, it’s cheaper (I am all for cheaper!) and also Caroline’s not quite ready yet. I can go along with that plan. When she starts to get it a bit more, we will make the switch.

My diaper questions were soon overshadowed by Michelle’s details of Caroline “fresh” day. Apparently, my little lovely had “fresh hands” as she pushed both babies and another child and sat in time out twice. TWICE! This is not Caroline, so perhaps it was an off day, but I certainly don’t like to hear that she has been pushing other kids, especially the barely sitting up babies! My fresh girl answered Michelle’s “are you going to be a good girl tomorrow?” with a head shaking no and a devilish grin. Michelle thinks that she might be picking this up from Hannah/Sonny who lately has become very pushy with the other children; Caroline included. I say there really is no excuse and I trust them to follow through with appropriate punishment to curtail this freshness.

We usually head right for the tub after our evening walk, but lately Caroline’s been having a bit of trouble settling down at 8 when I put her down. So we quietly played until about 7:30 bringing passengers to tropical destinations with the pink airplane, matching up shapes in the sorter, and finally her playing Mommy first to her pink bear and then to me. She got a little blanket out and pointed to the floor “down.” What’s an exhausted Mommy to do but lay down on the floor? Caroline covered me up, pat my back and shhh’d me. I wonder where she learned that?

the end of summer, the beginning of a new era

And just like that summer comes to an end.

I washed Caroline’s little green swimsuit and swim shirt yesterday and couldn’t help but feel more than a little sad that it is unlikely she will wear them again this year. We do have our long weekend on the Cape in two weeks, but I suspect that a beach trip then is more likely to include a wardrobe of comfy play pants and a fleece.

We spent the last long weekend of the summer almost exactly as we started , minus the train ride. Caroline and Papa spent hours playing in the water, there were beach walks, a seaside nap, and castle smushing. There were multiple “swish, swish” sightings and many mini peanut butter cups. It was a relaxing end to an all too fast summer.

We headed home on Sunday night, just as we had on Memorial Day weekend, but not before our daughter made two deposits in her potty! We have had a potty for some time now, but until lately it has been a novel thing to sit on, with some appropriate wiping action. I have been hesitant to go gangbusters because I just can’t imagine that she is ready, but I also don’t want to let the time limited window of interest AND enthusiasm close. So we took an adorable travel potty home over the weekend and caught the tail end of the liquid variety on Saturday and on Sunday just before we packed up Auntie k had the pleasure of assisting her with the other variety and showering her with praise.

So – it appears that potty training is on! (ALREADY?!?!) We spent Monday at home asking her if she had to go as often as we remembered and Steve jetted off with her upstairs when we suspected something was going on and she answered, “do you have to go potty?” with a “yeah!” 100% in the potty! There was a really sad moment later in the day when we asked her if she had to go and she said no, but quickly changed her answer to yes. We missed it and when she saw that the diaper deposit had been made in the diaper and not in her potty, she cried pointing at the diaper. There was reassurance and praise, but it broke my heart to see her sad about this. I worry that we might move too fast and I question her ability to determine the wet factor since these days the diapers are so wonderfully absorbent. So long as she is interested and engaged in learning we will support her adventure into pottydom! The pediatrician told us to go for it as soon as she showed signs of readiness, and she demonstrates many of these.

I found it strange that Pampers has a website and online community devoted to potty training. Isn’t their whole business built around diapers? Keeping kids in diapers means more change in their pocket right? I soon realized that there is a whole other kind of business to tap into – potty training fams need potty training tools like Easy Ups with genius “Feel and Learn” cool strip technology and a place to read both expert and parental advice seems pretty phenom too.

I’ve got our Flex Benefits Card in my pocket and at lunch today I am jetting over to BJs to pick up a box of Easy Ups. Based on family and babycenter’s advice, we’ll keep using the real diapers for naps and overnights, but the Easy Ups for regular daily use. I am going to work on teaching her the difference between wet and dry and we'll just taking it one step at a time. I am all for pulling diapers on and off in place of the wrangling with one leg holding her down method I have been using more and more lately. I think we both would prefer that actually.

I had to the share the big potty news from the weekend, but don’t count on this being all potty talk all the time. There’s lots more going on – like

…If you sing “Sweet Caroline” she goes “Bum, Bum, Bum” – NO JOKE!! According to Sara and Michelle she didn’t pick it up there! If not there, WHERE???

…When she wants you to sit with her to read a book, she taps the spot next to her and says “Sit!” We’re working on adding “please.”

We also purchased a shiny new camera this weekend (yay!) after a little solo breakfast at the beach, so look forward to exciting new photos with video located right there in the link to Picasa. Ohh – Ahh!