Trick or Treat!



Happy Halloween from Caroline who is mascarading this year as a member of the obviously underaged Chinese Olympic Gymnastics Team! Here she is modeling her direct from China courtesy of Papa outfit along with all her gymnast accessories: a headband to keep her hair out of her face during the floor routine, the Gold Medal, and the "I won a medal" bouquet.

We've already had a very full day! We negotiated over the costume for nearly 30 minutes and headed over to school for the Halloween Parade. Sara and Michelle were so kind to include us even though it is a day that we are not usually at school. She did well in the parade, holding hands with her friend Juliana. She didn't even see me until I called her name a few times. It was very sweet, though amid the sea of adorable animals and cartoon characters that need no explanation, there was my dollface in her only funny to parents, though really pretty costume. Then we raced to the grocery store for a few items and off to the Senior Center where we paraded around with a few other local children. Since we were SO CLOSE we stopped to visit Ethan quickly and say Happy Halloween. She's in dream land - completely slept through a necessary diaper change and I am preparing for a homemade pizza tonight and some Pan Fried Onion Dip for the tailgate tommorrow.

Spoke to my Dad and he reports that he has some pain today, but is feeling pretty good. He sounds like himself. Keep it up Dad! You are doing great!!

Some more of our day so far. I have lots more photos, but don't want to post anyone's child without their permission. Steve wanted me to let you know that the second smaller photo is actually a link to a video.



From Caroline Month 21B



If you haven't entered the Pay It Forward Contest, get cracking the contest ends today and the winners will be announced early next week!!! Trust me when I say it is WORTH the comment!

Have a spooktacular day!

The Day the Music Died

The majority of my early education was in the classroom. I have specific, though fleeting, memories of sitting in 6th grade Science toiling away on a “science notebook” with carefully crafted colored pencil illustrations on the process of photosynthesis. I also remember that the Middle School was undergoing extreme renovations while I sat in class and there were often contractors and painters toiling away in a different way while I copied my assignments from my textbook. On a regular day the topic of the Atomic Bomb somehow came up, who knows how, and I raised my hand tentatively. At that time I was a very quiet student, thankfully (or unfortunately) my high school experience forced me to stop hiding behind others and speak my mind. I asked my teacher, “didn’t the heat of the explosion cause shadows of people to be left on the walls?” She denied this, looked at me quizzically and then the contractor or the painter (whoever he was) suddenly defended me. “She’s right, the shadows were left on the walls.”

I learned that little tidbit from my Dad over one of his infamous Breakfast Lectures. He covered a variety of topics, many of which might seem inappropriate for kids, but my father never saw anything as off limits. So we heard about the Atomic Bomb. We discussed Hitler. He encouraged us to question organized religion, especially after I came home from CCD and thanked him for being such a great Foster Father. He sent me armed to take on a Music Teacher who had been giving me grief – “ask her what a hemidemisemiquaver is?” She had no idea – it’s a 1/64th note. Another morning topic – “American Pie.” You know Don McLean’s American Pie – we all know all the words to the epic. “Daddy what’s a levy?” became a discussion about theories and analysis pointing to Vietnam, Buddy Holly and “the day the music died.”

Whenever I hear that song I am instantly eating cookie cutter shaped pancakes off a white plate on an orange place mat with hidden OJ stains. I am listening to my Dad tell me about the world. “American Pie” is my Dad to me and yesterday I got to share it with Caroline. It came on Sirius while I was en route to pick her up and I paused the song to play it for her when we got in the car to drive home. I explained to my nearly 21 month-old daughter that this was an important song about music and culture in the 60’s and that it was an important song to her Mommy and her Granda. She asked me to stop singing. I didn’t listen. I am waiting for the tune to come from her lips anytime now.

Coincidentally, another Kerry shares this same song with her Dad also known to us as Papa. It’s great to have something like that – and to share it with Caroline makes me smile to think of the great discussions we might someday have over a hot breakfast. Sometimes things are funny. On a day I was thinking of my father constantly, here was our song.

Dad’s recovering well at home with some serious pain management. I spoke to Nurse Nana early yesterday afternoon and while they needed to do a bit more than they anticipated, the doctor said it went well. Last night I phoned the patient on his land line and he was just about able to move his fingers a bit and preparing for an onslaught of pain. Steve had a similar surgery between HS and College and he said Day 2 is the worst pain he has ever experienced in his life. Thinking of you today Dad…

Also thinking of Tasha and Tony who are celebrating their

FOURTH wedding anniversary today.
She was a beautiful bride and is now
an even more beautiful Mom.

A Tale of Two Daddies

Sorry for the short time frame on that video in yesterday's post, but there is a certain part that we don't want to publicize too much to the world at large. =)

It was girl's night Tuesday while Steve hopped on up to Foxboro for a Town Hall meeting (for his employer) and a customer appreciation event at Gillette Stadium. He even got to "meet" Wes Welker (S felt he was less than personable). A customer did a slightly dubious deed by asking Steve when they were just a few feet from the player to have one of his two items signed; there was a one item per person rule. Steve did the right thing and agreed, but gave up his opportunity for an autograph of his own. Thankfully a higher up saw what had transpired and he sent Steve to the Pro Shop to get something for Welker to sign afterwards, but what a slick move by this guy right??? Greedy. Greedy. Greedy.

Steve had "Pat the Patriot" sign a card for Caroline and even had the patience to ask two of the Patriettes (the hot 19 year-old cheerleaders) to sign under their photos for Caroline too. The sacrifices Steve makes for his family.

So it was just Mom and ear infected toddler last night. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Ever since Keeks and Steve came down on Saturday evening we noticed that Caroline was a bit off. She had fought her afternoon nap, but we weren't sure if it was just because of the strange surroundings (we were enjoying an afternoon with Paul, Erica, and little Zach) or something else. I bit the bullet and took her in for an ear check on Monday and LO AND BEHOLD... wouldn't you know it. ANOTHER ear infection. More antibiotics. Another one to list to the docs at Children's when we go for our follow-up early December. Poor kid.

I had planned on making something with Caroline for dinner in honor of Mommy and Caro night, but her patience was not where it needed to be so we cooked up some spinach ravioli instead. She enjoyed sprinkling on some Parmesan shavings. Every car that drove by, every bump outside was "Daddy!" except that it wasn't. She kept calling for him, wondering where he was. After dinner was consumed and cleaned up and her lunch was put together she started bringing me movie after movie after movie. So we watched Ratatouille (bits and pieces) until bedtime, all snuggled up on the couch together. She had a nice tub (called for Steve when she was ready to get out) and went right down for me around 8:15 after "The Night Before Christmas," and only 10 minutes before her Daddy got home.

On those rare occasions when Steve can't be home we make the best of our time together by doing things we might not ordinarily do on a random Tuesday night. I have been waiting for those once in awhile solo parenting nights to become an opportunity and not a frantic, crazed, S.O.S. and finally it is turning that way. We covered ourselves in blankets, had a special treat, watched a movie. We more than survived. We enjoyed our night, but did we ever miss Daddy.

Please think good thoughts today for my Daddy/Granda, who as I type this is most likely in surgery for an injury he received in a car accident in February(!!!). It will be a long road to recovery, but when I spoke to him last night he was in excellent spirits, really looking forward to moving ahead, and with that great attitude I have no doubts that he will get through this wonderfully. While you are thinking those good thoughts, please add another that he tees off this spring pain-free.

Some Housekeeping

"Kerri, what gives? Why is there a month 21B?"

That would be because we officially switched over to our shiny new laptop! Kudos to Papa for the sweet deal. Since there is already a month 21 and we aren't using that computer anymore, I had to create a second one. Updated photos will be placed into the B folder until we complete our market research for the purchase of an external hard drive. I know, I know.

{EDITED}

Third Item of Interest: Santa

I have been pushing the big bearded guy in the red suit this year already. When the Radio City commercials come on I flip out screaming and pointing, "SANTA!!!" We picked up a small part of Steve's holiday gift yesterday afternoon and walked by a Hallmark store already decking the halls in OCTOBER PEOPLE?!?!? There were two huge Santa posters in the window - one in a leather biker jacket - talk about confusing for a toddler! We spent some time pointing to Santa on our way to our destination and again on our way out. Just as we approached the door my little girl looked up at me and pointed back, "Sah-ta?" I thought about saying no, but seriously, she asked for SANTA! So back we went where she paraded me through the store looking at all the Santa related merch already on display. We continued this at home by flipping through "The Night Before Christmas" complete with yells of "SAH-TA!" at each page where the big guy makes an appearance. I think my excitement for Christmas this year rivals that of my own childhood. Caroline won't "get it" completely, but the spirit of Christmas is already coursing through our home's veins... we suspect the cries of "SAH-TA" will be replaced with real tearful cries for the extra special lap sit at the McFam Annual Holiday Shin Dig with Bim mascarading as St. Nick, but until then... "SAH-TA!"

Lastly, Pay It Forward

Get your comments in. There are just 4 days remaining in the Pay It Forward Contest. For those feeling less creative in hosting a contest of your own, please just enter! In the spirit of all this giving we can work something out!

Official Pay It Forward Contest Details!



In keeping with Pay It Forward traditions, BEHOLD, my box courtesy of Cass. Opening this box was like opening up a box from an old friend, a very generous and thoughtful friend. She themed it "My Favorite Things." In case you can't see from the photo or cannot read her note: ultra fine sharpies (LOVE!), Tootsie Pops (how many licks?), cocoa with biscotti (why have I never tried that before???), comfy socks (um, hi Cass, how is it you knew that I have arctic feet?), fancy napkins (squee!!!), the smell of Fall (which is simmering in a pot as I type this), yummy soap and lotion (that I am apparently to greedy to share with the rest of my family who won't possibly appreciate its goodness), and ecosafe sponges (the answer to my Paper Towel Dilemma!!!). This box rocks and she has set a new standard in Pay It Forward Prizes!!! Thanks, Cass!

With that, I am happy to announce the McCashew Pay It Forward Contest begins today and will end this Friday – October 31st. Entering is easy; just comment on this post with an answer to the following question:

“My best Halloween disguise was….”

Three random winners will each receive a McCashew Goodie Box.

What’s stopping you – enter now – win a great prize – and spread the kindness.

Pay it Forward Part I

All the answers to the questions you didn't know you had...

What is a Pay it Forward Contest?

We live in a plugged-in fast-paced world. We fight strangers for parking spots. We admonish those who dare to go through the 10 items or less with 12 items. We might not even know our neighbors last name. (I am guilty of this!) We are all mostly good people though aren't we? A Pay It Forward Contest is just what you think it is. It is a chance to be pay kindness forward to a potential perfect stranger.

How does it work?

These contests have been happening on blogs for quite some time. I recently entered my one and only at Cass Just Curious and what do you know? I won!!! She hosted a contest on her blog and selected three random commenters as winners. She sent all three winners amazing boxes, which I will post photos of with the official Pay It Forward Entry Post. Now as the winner of her contest, I need to do my duty and pay it forward. So stay tuned for the green light! The three winners of my contest will also be expected to pay it forward and on and on and on.

What if I don't have a blog?

No problem! If you have a blog it is easy to host your own pay it forward, drawing three random commenters to be winners. If you don't, just get back in touch with me and ask me to draw more random winners for you. Ta Da!

What will I win?

That is the best part. You won't know until you receive it in the mail, but I am cooking up quite a gift box.

STAY TUNED. The McFam's Pay It Forward Contest is COMING SOON!

Still sucking

Their baaaaccckkk!

Just as I was beginning to question my overwhelming disdain and resentment, I pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon and in a very Seinfeld “Newman” way whispered, “sucktaculars.” Sure, they don’t say hello. True, we do listen to them argue and swear at each other on their porch in their pajamas. Absolutely, the little one is a Trouble maker (note the capital T). It all just seemed a little less suck though over the summer. If you recall there was afterall an alert from their side of the street that our toddler had ran into the street. AND YET.

It is Fall and the leaves have begun to let go of the branches and collect on their tree belt. There they sit until the winds carry them over to our side of street where they pile against the curb and roll over the lawn in droves. Last night I arrived home to what easily could have been three leaf bags of leaves scattered across the yard, but mostly pushed into a pile against the curb. I gazed across at the small pile accumulating under the sucktotrees that had not yet been pushed by the wind over to our property. I was seething, Ursuala-like. Yes, I have been watching too much Little Mermaid.

We had dinner. It was getting dark and yet I felt I had to go out to do some clean up. Leaving Caroline in Steve’s care (he tried to stop me, told me not to waste my time, assured me he would mulch them soon) I went to take care of just the enormous pile in the street. Dad, exactly where does this cleaning compulsion originate??? While shoveling arm load after arm load into 2 leaf bags I began imagining scenarios in which I could toss a rake at them or how I might attach a package of leaf bags to their front door. Just then our other neighbor pulled over with her daughter and said that her husband was going to “address the situation,” but only with our support. UM YEAH!!! Though I highly doubt he will need any support from Steve. I am quite happy that we find ourselves to be mostly on his good side.

She shared that last fall while we were away at football games her husband would blow all the leaves back over to their side of the road and wet them with the hose. Once he even took all of the ones from his property and the front of ours and blew them onto their CAR. I am not sure how he plans to address it this year since those methods seem a little well, how can I say it nicely?

So here we are, back where we started. There was no improved 2.0 version for the sucktaculars, just temporary amnesia. The one silver lining with all the leaves is that Caroline has discovered them and loves to run through them. She might actually have the patience to put up with yard clean up this year. I am looking forward to her first leaf jumps, which judging by the number of leaves that still need to fall from those Sucktotrees, will make a pretty nice pile for her. Last year we worked with a single rake. THIS YEAR, thanks to my parents, we will be blowing and sucking with our new toy and that will make it much much easier and LOUDER. The sucktaculars might not be able to talk loudly on their phone from the porch while they oversee our leaf cleanup efforts. Darn.

Sleeping Suspicions

We are all having trouble getting up in the morning. These dark fall mornings are deadly when mixed with tired parents armed with a snooze button. I barely made it past 10pm last night and that was with great effort.

Caroline has not been loving her bath lately. Ever since she came home from school on Thursday with a rash requiring huge dollops of Triple Paste, it’s been a cry fest. I convinced her to sit down on Monday night, but only after offering her the watering can and pouring some “BUBBLES!!!” into the tub. Last night there was similar convincing tactics until I tried heartily to remove the playground sand from behind her ears. She decided that her bath was over and swung her leg over the side in a sad attempt to escape.

The rash is gone, but the fear remains. My poor Bubba.

I have growing concerns about keeping her warm at night. Don’t all parents? She goes down with a onesie and a feetie sleeper, but cannot keep a blanket on. This makes me wonder where exactly along the time continuum we develop the ability and preference to sleep on a pillow, with a blanket tucked just so, feeling comfy under its weight and warmth. Along these same lines, when exactly do we just stop moving every which way in our sleep and no longer spin in circles while we dream? My “everything in its place” girl is destined to, like her mother, retuck the sheets before jumping under the covers. (Today at drop off I watched her wipe her crumbs, push in her chair, and toss the napkin away before I raced to work already 10 minutes late – see above re the snooze button.) I am not even necessarily saying I want her to sleep this way – I am just wondering if anyone has any theories about how this switch is made because it seems really strange to me that babies and adults sleep so differently.

Weekend recovery

It was a whirlwind weekend and I know the McFam is still recovering. Thanks be to everything, the seal did not give us an encore Saturday night, which we were all thankful for. Caroline’s cough persists, but relative to Friday she is much improved. So we’ve got that going for us.

Kiki and Papa completed their tailgate prep (nothing short of amazing! and I mean both the prep and the results!) for the BC/VT game that night and we waited for my parents and then Betsy (our amazing sitter courtesy of Kelly) to arrive. I am pretty proud of myself for surrendering any lingering guilty parent stuff to the wind. I will admit that I had a few moments of “should we leave her?” but instead I decided to call Betsy and give her the scoop. I laid it out, said I would not be offended if she was not up to sitting for a croupy toddler and her answer of “I would still come even if she were throwing up” made me wish we had one of those things from Star Trek and we could just beam her down to CT once a month. How about reimbursement for miles??? Thank you, Betsy. I didn’t want to tell her that Caroline was sick/had been sick while we all raced out the door, locking it behind us, abandoning her with our sick kid. Talk about feeling trapped. So I was feeling better after that call and the heads up never hurts.

We really enjoyed our evening. People were of course looking for our little sweetie and as the night wore on I started making up answers like, “oh, she’s in the car!” It was STRANGE to be at a football game minus one family member. I worried about how she was doing at home, but we didn’t call, not even once and Betsy greeted us at the door with smiles and tales of good behavior and an easy bedtime with not one croup. I am actually hoping that there are future opportunities for her to sit with Caroline because she really was so wonderful.

The game, well, by now you all know how it turned out don’t you??? DON’T YOU!?!?! BC beat VT, thus stealing a national ranking away from the Hokies. We saw and met lots of Hokies - and get this, STOKIES (spouses of Hokies) - at the tailgate and all were gracious and kind. They take their football, well, they take it very seriously.

Sunday we lazed about with all the grandparents and auntie k. Steve and I were afforded the amazing luxury of sleeping in until 9:30!!! I needed it after my 11-3am croup shift on Friday. What a treat that was! I have no idea how I would have functioned without those 2 hours!

There was a holiday photo shoot. Our little spotlight lover enjoyed all the flashes and cheering. We think there are a few holiday card worthy shots in the bunch, including some lovely ones auntie took as we were getting ready to leave of our little trio. We spent a couple hours celebrating the Arnold twins’ first birthday before hitting the road. The boys were adorable with their faces covered in chocolate cake. Carly set up a whole pumpkin decorating area with stickers for the kids and you know who just about lost her mind when she saw that. Her little pumpkin is sitting on her table in the kitchen and she keeps rearranging the stickers each time she sits for a snack.

We all know the sox lost. It was sad, but people seem to be moving on in our house. Those seventh game seats for the Series would have been nice though for Steve and his Dad. Another year boys.

Caroline and I got up and out super fast Monday morning. We did the week’s shopping ($65!!! GO ME!) and raced to a walk-in weekly Toddler group at the library. Arrival at Big Y at 9:34. In car with receipt and toddler at 9:55. Racing out of breath into the library at 10:12. The other families had been entertaining their kids, carefully decorating fall leaf nametags. This Mom literally grabbed a leaf, scrawled CAROLINE, and ran. I am so glad we made it. She had a blast singing songs, clapping, jumping, and dancing. I got to watch her play with the rest of the group post class. It isn’t often that I get that opportunity (watching her playing with kids she doesn’t know) and she did really well sharing. It takes her a minute to assess the situation from the outside, but once she surveyed the land she made herself at home in a corner of the Lego table. Before we left, she and two other little girls were working together on a communal masterpiece.

I warned them today at school about Caroline’s croup. She woke up at 11:30 last night and needed a back rub to get back to sleep. She woke up again at 5:45 and I mentally shouted “NO WAY” and listened as she called for me three times before rolling over and falling back asleep until after 7:30. Now I can only think, “please not the ears.” It was a rush this morning. Between the late nights sox games, the night of croup, and the Pats last night, this family is zonked.

I got an amazing package in the mail on Thursday. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Perhaps you enjoy getting packages full of treats in the mail? Perhaps you would like to receive one from the McCashews? Perhaps then you should keep your eyes peeled for details of my own Pay It Forward Contest. Due to technical difficulties I have been having trouble getting a photo of the fabulous contents of my box from Cass' contest uploaded, which both made my mouth water and my dry hands leap for joy. What’s a pay it forward contest you ask??? Stay tuned.

Our daughter the seal, Part II

Much like the Godfather Part II, this sequel did not quite meet the high expectations of the audience. Caroline went down without any issue last night before 8:30, post drive to MA. An hour into my own slumber at 11:30 I woke up, with absolutely not a clue where I was. Why was I on this side of the bed and why was the door over there, and where were the stairs and oh yeah, I am not home. I awoke to those familiar and heart chilling barks, mixed in this time with cries of "Mommy." I got her right outside into the night air, but the barking persisted and I remembered last fall (in October coincidentally and scaryily enough the very same weekend!) when the steamy shower seemed to work. So it was back inside and upstairs to the shower and before I knew it we were sitting in a steamy room. By the time her breathing became less labored and the barking subsided she was wide awake. This nervous mother wanted to make sure that breathing stayed that way so into bed with her parents she went and she was up. and up. and up. Until just after 3am. We're off to find a cool mist humidifier. Like the Godfather Part II, there surely will be a Part III (perhaps even in 2009 the third weekend in October), though we are hoping it will be as robust and long lasting as this sequel was - that is to say, manageable.

Committable

Me that is. Today is so busy, so frantic, so insane. I have a caregiver seminar tonight at 5:45. I am calling it a sandwich supper for sandwiched caregivers (caring for both aging family members and their own children/teens). I literally ran around picking things up for over 2 hours this afternoon; stuff for the meal, dessert, a crafty activity to entertain the attendees children. Now that I type that it doesn't seem that bad, but it was crazy out there when I went out - lunchtime. That was DUMB of me, but it had to happen then so I could get back to work and finish up the rest of my work before I start setting up for this dinner.

Good times.

Caroline was a little off last night, really warm (circa her father) and exhausted before 8pm. In the span of a week we have gone from desperate to not go to bed until 9:30 to conked out before 8. I will call it a cumulative effect of sleep deprivation from Monday to now and call it a day.

I was stymied this morning when I went to retrieve a load of laundry that had dried whilst we slept and found it damp. There is not much worse in the laundry arena. I had hoped to fold and organize those clothes so we could pack Caroline up tonight when I get home from my little seminar, but clearly that isn't happening.

Oh, yes, we are a family on the move again, or as our neighbor once asked, FBI agents who are never ever home. This weekend is the BC/VT game, also known as the night Colleen and Greg break up... every year, but it's planned and expected and there is no name calling or crying. Well, maybe there is, but Greg always recovers nicely. =) (sorry Greg, as a non-eagle I really shouldn't get involved, but seriously, how can I NOT say ANYTHING. Besides, it is easier to say it here than to your face. Nah!) My parents are also going to be in attendance and the forecast is calling for arctic temps at the nationally televised night game. Keeps your eyes peeled for cashews if you happen to be watching. Steve is about ready to pee his pants because he heard a rumor that Matty Ice might be returning to his alma mater to have his number retired. He is very excited. Caroline will be a very well recommended sitter for the afternoon/evening, but she will have FOUR grandparents vying for her attention on Sunday morning. She is so lucky! Later that day we'll be partaking in pizza and presents for the Arnold boys who are turning ONE. Where did that year go, seriously???

It's a big weekend, there is a lot to do to prepare; packing, produce shopping, present picking, and pumpkin whoopie baking. I love fall.

"YUCK!!"

Last night we were all sitting together on the couch and Caroline suddenly started saying "yuck." I looked down and saw her pointing at Steve's feet! Then she started pushing them away and I just about lost my mushroom risotto. I was laughing so hard. I probably shouldn't have, but I egged her on because it was just too funny. I think Steve at first thought I had just spontaneously taught her "yuck," but in reality we've been saying "yuck" for quite some time. I say it when she reaches into piles of dirt, when she spreads the contents of her yogurt spoon on her placemat and swirls it around with her fingers, and when she sucks the bath water off the washcloth during tub time. She learned all by herself to apply "yuck" to his feet.

This morning on our way to school she was pointing her finger at Abby and saying "No, No, Shhhhhh!" When she disciplines her dolls I play close attention. Do I see myself in her disciplining tactics or could this perhaps be representative of school's methods? We obviously say "No" to her, but I hate to see her yelling at Abby. The parrot not only imitates words, but also actions. As much as she can imitate me swiffering or cooking, she can imitate me disciplining. I feel secure in our methods - we are consistent, not overly harsh (though c'mon what parent hasn't lost themselves a bit when they see them reaching for the stove or pulling the cats tail?), and fair. I don't think Caroline's methods with Abby were too harsh this morning, she quieted her baby down, covered her up in a blanket and gave her a big "mwah." That made me feel better. Perhaps Abby was into something dangerous and her mommy needed to be firm, but also reassuring. =)

What is with the weather? Two days in a row I have had to redress Caroline after seeing the weather forecast. It was supposed to be 76 down here today and then poof this morning it is suddenly doing to be barely 70. What gives Bob Maxon?? I trusted you!

McSomethings Take The Big Apple

Our home computer is currently mid hiccup and as we work out those issues I have been utterly LOST without email and Internet. I literally raced downstairs on Monday to get a recipe from my email account so I could do the shopping and make dinner. I can’t even upload the photos from our trip to NYC… well, that’s not entirely true… I COULD… but I don’t want to risk it. I actually welcomed the online time that my workday would bring. Sad.

Though Monday was technically a holiday, only one of us had the day off which made it seem just like any other Monday. Before I get into yesterday and this week, let’s do a LONG recap of the weekend shall we? I could try to be succinct, but seriously how often do I report on something like a weekend in the city? If there was ever a time to give myself permission to be detailed…

My parents came down on Saturday morning to enjoy the company of the shortest human member of our family while we caught a train to NYC. Nana and Granda even posted photos their time with Caroline, you can view it through my Picasa link. Those will be the only photos you see for the near future, so please, ration wisely. =) We got Caroline organized, reiterated the schedule, but really they know the drill and if they weren’t sure, Caroline is so independent now that she can show Nana where her pjs are or ask for juice when she wants it. No sweat. Steve made us a to go lunch (smartie!) for the ride into the city and we were off before noon.

1:30ish arrival at Grand Central, we headed towards the Subway Shuttle…old Metro Card EXPIRED. UGH. finagling/cursing and finally off to Times Square.

shortly before 2pm we come up for air from below ground and Steve miraculously remembers where the Marriott Marquis is guiding us effortlessly to the relocated TKTS booth… line already forming… over an hour to wait… realize the TKTS booth is cash only, I sprint to BOA… meet 4 “cute” girls from Brigham Young interning in DC enjoying a girl’s weekend in the city… one is a red sox fan and tries to pick up my husband; “whose pitching tonight?” and we talk celeb gossip with another…

3pm. TKTS line moving and we are pushed in front of booth… I have the cash in hand and the shows we want to see fresh in my mind. All My Sons is sold out, we opt for comedy with Spamalot and score 17th row orchestra seats, dead center, but not without a near panic attack and an argument with the couple (whose ethnicity I keep to myself) standing behind us. Not long after we had positioned ourselves for a window the woman behind me began pushing me and when I did not move an inch (thank you 30 Day Shred) she melded her body into mine so that not one square inch of my entire rear side was not mushed up against her. I only wish I were exaggerating. I finally turned to her and said, “could you please not push me, you are making me uncomfortable.” “others moved in from the sides, you should PUSH that woman.” “NO, I am sorry, I am not pushing!” So the minutes ticked by while the woman at the front made her SLOW purchase after leaving the line because she did not have cash. The next woman had been seated just ahead of me in line and she and her 2 friends took FOREVER; asking if a show was good, who was in it, was is depressing? The whole time I was screaming in my head for them to hurry please while the woman behind me continued her full on press assault. Steve calmed her husband, “they are all together” FINALLY our turn, husband of back side assaulter lost his marbles and screamed at Steve that he thought “you were all together!” Steve said, “No, they are all together, CALM DOWN.” “NO YOU CALM DOWN!” I am waiting for the man to get our “two very nice seats middle orchestra for Spamalot” and I turn to him, “it’s a half price theatre ticket, seriously!?!?” Finally with tickets in hand we move away from the window, but in time to hear that our two friends are going to see Gypsy. I was shaking, literally unable to calm down, and we walked the entire way to our hotel on the Upper East Side. It was a really nice walk, but it was several blocks before I was composed enough to enjoy it.

We stayed at Hotel 57 (57th and Lexington) a stone’s throw from Bloomingdale’s and some really nice shopping. After our long walk and our TKTS adventure we dropped our bags in the room, checked out our AMAZING view of the Chrysler Building and headed down for drinks in the hotel bar. They had the windows open and our drinks (I had a coconut mojito) hit the spot, though Steve was less than impressed that on a Saturday FULL of college football the tvs were spotlighting European Soccer. We witnessed the most appalling gaggle of French women seated across from us who ordered without making eye contact, handing glassware that they deemed unacceptable back to waitstaff, even talking badly of their waitress after she stopped to check on them. I twittered like a mad woman, we made a point to thank our lovely waitress profusely, as if our thanks could somehow make up for the rudeness of these terrible women. When our drinks had done their jobs of mellowing us for a nice evening ahead we sprinted back to our 16th floor room to rewardrobe and coif and were out the door hailing a cab at 5:30.

5:30 – Cab we hail takes us for tourist fools as he drives us to East 52nd when we request 52nd between 6th and 7th. We hop out and walk the two blocks to dinner. DINNER! I spent the entire meal savoring bite after bite, “ummmmmmmm” ing to no end and forcing Steve to try another bite because OH MY GOD THIS PORK! We went to Bar Americain and it was one of the top 5 meals I have ever eaten, no make that top 3. It was amazing from the get go, starting with the breadbasket, which included these little corn bread breadsticks that I would have arm wrestled Steve for, but it was our anniversary so I let him have the other one without a fight. We had a grilled pizza app of gruyere cheese, double roasted bacon and caramelized onions. Steve had the steak special, Philadelphia style with melted provolone and caramelized onions. I ordered the rack of pork with apple chutney, creamed corn, and sour cream mash. It was STELLAR. The creamed corn had that southwestern Bobby Flay zing and whoever thought I would have been licking my plate to get every morsel of CREAMED CORN!?!? The woman next to us was hemming and hahhing so much over her dessert that I asked her what she ordered and we enjoyed the caramel whiskey ├ęclairs as well. YUM. The funniest moment – the man next to us juggled his water glass accidentally and I ended up wearing some of it. The celeb moment – the makeup artist – creative director – of the Loreal Paris Make Up Room on Project Runway was there. It was great from start to finish. {Edited to add: It was SO good that I actually said out loud, "this is so much better than sushi." Our initial plans were bringing us to the show by way of Nobu and while I am sure that sushi would have been amazing, it had NOTHING on this meal, NOTHING and that my friends is saying something.}

The show was HYSTERICAL and made me think many times of my college roommate Natalie’s spouse, particularly at the Knights of Ni and shrubbery section. Laugh out loud funny and yes, Clay was there, though his love child was not. We did look. AND what do you know – Gypsy was playing across the street. No sighting of back assaulters again, but wouldn’t THAT have been funny.

Post show- Irish Pub (Emmett O’Lunney’s 50th and Broadway)- where we bellied up to the bar to watch the Sox game and drink YUENGLING. Oh Ling, how I love you. We left in the 10th with a bar bill of just 30.00 for over 3 hours of drinks and chicken fingers. Gotta love NYC with those buy backs. Sorry Boston bartenders, but I think NYC wins.

Sunday we planned to find a little diner to have breakfast, but COULD NOT FIND ONE?!?!?! I know. It sounds insane and even impossible, but we ended up walking through Rockefeller Center (where we enjoyed a pre breakfast funnel cake!) and at the very same diner we ate at with Colleen and Caroline at in July. The waitstaff was still singing and ours (Vanessa) did an amazing cover of Defying Gravity from Wicked. It made me a little teary – sap that I am. There is just something about watching people trying to make it singing their guts out while they pour sodas and shlep tips. I hope she makes it.

Post challah French toast, we jetted full circle to the Times Square Subway Shuttle back to Grand Central where we caught the 12:07 homeward bound.

It was a wonderful weekend, a happy celebration, and while we missed the bubba lou she had an absolute blast with her grandparents. THANKS so much to them for making it so easy for us to go and do this.

As for this week. Two nights in a row now we’ve had tough bedtimes with squirming and on and off crying lasting from 8-9 and a wake up call at the bright old hour of 6am, which by the way, AIN’T so bright lately. This morning I threw up the blinds and explained that we don’t get up before the sun does. What gives Caroline???

Yesterday I did not shower. I did not take the nap I should have since I seem to fighting a cold. Instead during her 2.5 hour nap I chopped vegetables and made two amazing dinners that I will eat for the rest of the week. Steve is still on his boiled chicken (Blech!) kick, though I did convince him to try my non-meat pasta primavera last night instead. It was delish, so fresh, so good for you, and even Caroline liked it despite the 22 cherry tomatoes and entire banana she ate in the hour preceding dinner. She helped mix all the veggies into the pasta and even doled the servings out onto plates. SO CUTE! Tonight I get to heat up the mushroom risotto, which is so yummy I had to force myself not to eat a second lunch. I did share with Caroline who had a small helping post nap along with some fruit and she seemed to enjoy it. So yeah for not having to cook all week. I think I can make a habit of this one-day cooking thing, so long as my spouse keeps up with chicken habit.

Posting will be limited, but I will try. Photos coming soon we hope!

Time skips

I overuse time flies, so instead today time will skip because skipping is happy and youthful and man, on a gorgeous day like today (which reminds me SO much of our wedding day) a girl's got to skip.

Its fun to look back over these four years and shake our heads at how far we have come, how much things have changed, and how much they have stayed the same. We never would have imagined living anywhere but Boston, we never could have been prepared to love anyone as much as we love our Caro, and yet what we thought we knew then, that this was the right someone, still rings true even more so today than it did October 10, 2004. Marriage isn't always easy, sure sometimes it even takes work & GASP patience, but those tougher moments are far and few between and seem to bring a deeper appreciation for each other.

Two years ago, we were expecting Caroline in February and celebrated in New Hampshire. I popped that weekend and still drank wine with dinner daring the diners to gawk.

Last year Caroline had arrived, she was 8 months old, and we spent our evening at home, drinking wine, catching up on months old DVR's programs. For us at that time, an evening spent together like that was such a treat. We were just coming back to a typical life with a baby who slept through the night and went to bed without too much fanfare.

Happy Anniversary to my Steve. I care more for you now than I was capable of then. I never would have thought that possible, but I do.

While we are talking anniversaries - Happy 32nd to our anniversary twins Kiki and Steve. Since we got married in the same church it's great to imagine our ceremonies linked across time. When I picture Steve and I standing at that altar, there you are too. Enjoy your special day! Thinking of you both.

From the Fashion Week Tents to Caroline's Crib

Morning came early and though Caroline has been amusing herself with undressing poor Abby in the time between wake up and diaper change lately, it was just not to be today. Steve needed to be up and out around 7:30, which thankfully forced me to get my sorry butt out of bed before 6:45. When I walked by the monitor on my dresser she was already sitting up and I could see her turn her head to the sounds of movement from our room. Steve had to go start the morning get ready business just after I closed the bathroom door. He called just as I was about to start the shower so I too could see what had transpired overnight.

Somehow our dear daughter had managed to get one arm out of her sleeper sleeve, zipper and button still intact. Steve asked her if she was trying a new “one shoulder style.” Our Caroline, very fashion forward these days. I have no clue how she managed to get that arm out while all zipped up.

I won’t be able to spend a whole lot of time with my family this evening. I am heading to a local high school around dinnertime to set up shop at a College Fair where I will represent my alma mater. I got an email about this late in the summer and thought, “sure, why not?” I could at least poke around the local events and see if there were any that were truly close to home and required a minimum commitment. (Let’s not kid ourselves that I have oodles of time to volunteer- HA!) I think good ol’ NU is onto something here and maybe other schools are doing this too? What better way to promote your programs than with a local satisfied alum? All the handouts, information cards, and even the banner/tablecloth were sent to me in the mail with a prepaid shipping envelope to send the important things back to Boston. I read the information over last night and I have to admit I am looking forward to it. I even unearthed a 2001 Beanpot momento from the Fleet to hold my treats.

All this means that I wanted to make this morning a little more than cold cereal and fruit. So a la Neil, I made pancakes with Caroline and she gobbled them up with syrup and her fork. While we were stirring the batter she spied those Schoolhouse Cookies on the counter and asked for one. Normally cookies in the morning don’t fly with me, but since she was hungry and we were still full minutes from cooked cakes - there were cookies. This prompted the first ever completely unprompted thank you and that made me beam with pride.

Steve will be solo tonight for both dinner and bedtime. I cleared the dishwasher, washed all the morning dishes by hand, and hopefully left him with a clean slate from which to begin his solo task. They will be more than fine, but I will miss them.

It’s Thriday! Tomorrow Caroline and I are going to meet Zachary, Erica and Paul’s little boy. Later there might be a special dinner, some wine, and some nostalgia while we look back over the four years of our married life – time goes so fast.

The Vacuum that was Tuesday meant I neglected you - I am sorry.

My Tuesday slipped away from me almost like the hours just got sucked up into a vacuum or something. WHOOSH- it was 4:30 and I was still talking to one of my bereavement group members. I hate it when that happens, but since Tuesday is my least favorite day of the week, I was more than okay with it. You know what makes Tuesdays the most challenging day? Getting up. When did the sun stop coming up in the morning and when did it get so cold? How can I flip a switch in my head to get up already when I have spent Friday – Sunday snuggling in bed for 20 minutes with my curly headed toddler?

Tuesdays – ick.

We had a lovely little weekend despite the dramatic difference between what we envisioned and what actually occurred. First there was illness and then hours spent searching the internets for a way to actually watch the BC game at home. The silver lining is that despite feeling like the whole thing blew up in our face, Steve enjoyed the game at a local watering hole with Ethans’s Dad. Afterwards we all enjoyed Ethan and his entourage over bowls of chili. Without a weekend at home we wouldn’t have been able to get to know them a bit better! We were tickled when Tom and Ann stopped by for a quick visit. Did you read yet? They are having a BOY!!! Let's all promise never to share with Caroline that Steve's response to the news was "everyone else has a boy," foot stomping and pouty face were implied.

With so much time spent traveling home for football games, these weekends are a rarity and while the vision didn’t match reality, we were glad to have some unplanned down time to recoup and get ready for a November full of football games. Recoup = spend Sunday over a large pot of homemade sauce. YUM. I’d post that recipe, but it isn’t mine to share.

This one isn’t mine to share persay, but since you can find it on foodtv please make and enjoy! I am having the leftovers tonight. I have been craving this one for a long time. As much as I love summer and grilling, nothing compares to the heartier fall/winter meals.

Last week I whined about Caroline not eating and lately she is an eating machine, scooping spoonful after spoonful of penne with that homemade sauce into her gullet, asking for more. The weekend was a big feeding frenzy and I officially am throwing in the towel. She will eat and she will not eat and they will all even themselves out... And scene.

Last night I made Brown Butter Porcini Ravioli and she took several bites of my meal and ignored her own macaroni and cheese. Clearly she’s moving upward and onward away from the failsafe Mac and Cheese. She snuck bites of the fresh ravioli uncooked while I waited for the water to boil. Since her father is eating mostly chicken this week (his idea not mine) I sprung for the mushroom ravioli and I am happy to report that it is possible that the mushroom lovers outnumber the haters 2-1. YES! Victory!!

What’s a post without a Caro anecdote? Abby continues to be A #1 around the house. She needs her best friend to share her bed at night (she even covers her up with a blanket nicely) and they take walks around the house all the time. She feeds her milk from her toy bottles and straps her into the now closed up highchair for meals. (she also strips her buck naked, but that is another story) Abby Abby Abby. We have gotten into a habit of bringing Abby to school with us and in an effort to keep the goodbyes easy in the morning we have begun a new routine where we say goodbye to Abby at the car, give her a kiss (“MAW”) and sit her in Caroline’s seat where she sits all day. I literally drive around with a doll in the carseat lovingly covered in a warm blanket. When we exit the double doors and into the late afternoon air each day Caroline has one thing and one thing only on her mind. Abby. She starts saying her name as soon as we get outside and when we get to the car window she laughs when she sees her sitting there waiting for her. She remembers! It cracks me up.

We’ve also noticed that she is listening ALL THE TIME. While we talk to one another she will occasionally interject a repeat of something we have said that she knows and we look at each other and give ourselves mental notes that are still some lingering things we might need to remove from our everyday speech. Ahem.

"umm ma"

The latest obsession in our house and there are MANY, but the most recent one is "umm ma." What is that you ask? "Umm ma" is Caroline's word for ice cream. I already know what you are thinking - "Caroline loves ice cream, wow, how exciting, don't all kids love ice cream?" and if you said that - you would be in a word - WRONG.

Not all kids love ice cream! Brett. My mother used to have to beg him to eat it and for years he would only eat one kind; pistachio. This was our "code word" which really ate me up because I hated it and for years I held onto that loathing until I grew up and tried it. It turns out, I really love pistachio. He also hated pizza. I know. I know. My POOR Mother! Her son lived on rolls, WATER, Eggo Waffles, and Hot Dogs. My father used to look at him across the table when we were all having pizza and ask him, "what's gonna happen when you take a girl out on a date and you go for pizza?" his answer "order a hot dog."

Caroline loves the idea of ice cream and more specifically, the idea of feeding it to me. She races to the freezer and strains her face all up while pulling on the handle saying, "umm ma." We sit down together at her little table and she scoops bite after bite of a hoodsie into my mouth. She occasionally takes a lick, but I think the cool factor is too much for her to contend with now. She'd much rather stuff my face, which I have to add she does in a sweet and also neat fashion.

Dear 30 Day Shred, I know that Hoodsies are not exactly the best snack I could be eating, but sitting quietly with my daughter while being fed spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream is just too important to pass up.

NEWSFLASH: "Novel seat results in consumption of protein!"

While at the health fair yesterday I got a peek at a helicopter testing. My first inclination was to flip open my phone and send off a photo to my brother. If there is anyone who could appreciate that photo, it would be Brett. Sadly no cameras were allowed and my contraband cell phone camera could have been removed from my person and my person might not have had an enjoyable afternoon. So, sorry Brett, no photo, but it was pretty amazing.

The health fair was as exciting as a health fair can get, but I did manage to offer some support to several caregivers that I might otherwise never have made contact with, so there’s that. On the work front, today is the service for my client who recently passed away. I want to pay my respects to his lovely daughter. The Police have already contacted me and it is likely that my records and an official statement will be requested for their investigation. I am still angered by this and though many kind people (especially Steve and my mother, though shockingly NOT my supervisor who took this opportunity to share with me her own experience of working in protective services – ahem) have assured me that I did all the right things, that I made the referral, that I need not feel guilty, I am. I am hopeful that after a chance to see his daughter face to face and offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences that I will be able to free myself from some of this.

Enough of that.

Steve and I are in the midst of finalizing the details of our Columbus Day weekend anniversary plans. Four years?! We are going to take the train into the city, catch a show, have an amazing dinner, eat late night cheesecake, sleep past 6:30, and enjoy a lingering breakfast. Don’t worry, Caroline won’t be fending for herself! She’ll be enjoying a night at home with Nana and Granda who graciously agreed to travel to us to spend the night. They are tickled and I think maybe even more excited than we are. So we’re all looking forward to it, Caroline included. We haven’t told Reese yet, but I am sure she will approve.

I attached the hook on chair to the dining room table last night. We had brought it with us to the Cape with great success and with dinner not including much eating lately for any of us between food throwing, tears, and time outs – why not try a new novel seat right? Caroline willingly and quickly stuffed 4 chicken nuggets into her tummy before declaring she was “all done.” I think we’ll take that. What about veggies you ask? HA! Fruit even? HA! Let’s all just be happy about the nuggets for now – I call that success. This morning she walked over to her high chair and when I suggested she could sit at the table her answer was and excited “Ya” and an almost empty bowl of Rice Krispies. Little Red Hook On Chair – you are my hero – at least for this week.

Today is Day 4 of the Shred. We noticed less fatigue last night, but it still left us sweaty, out of breath, and pooped. My energy is up, I feel a bit sore but it’s that good kind of sore. Steve has a cold, which is a rarity for him, and he STILL pushed through. This morning he sounded terrible and when I suggested that perhaps we might need to take the night off I was rebuffed. Dedication? I’ll say! Steve, you are kind of my hero with this Shred goal we have. I have been so impressed with your gung ho attitude and commitment. It makes it that much easier to get my sneaks on each night and whether you know it or not, you're pushing me to get lower on my push ups, to keep jumping when my calves are screaming, and to curse Jillian. It wouldn't be the same if I didn't get that fist bump at the end of those 20 minutes. Thanks.

Items of _____

I am literally shoving spoonfuls of Thick and Creamy Strawberry Yoplait down my gullet as I type this. I am en route to a health fair in town and will be there the rest of the day, so you will just have to do without a lengthy update today. I am just as sad about it as you are.

Item of note - Caroline's skin is supremely sensitive as of late. If you touch her neck she gets all red and splotchy immediately. A headband scraped along her cheeks to achieve perfect placement results in a big red line of irritation. What gives sensitive skin?

Item of victory - After two timeouts mid dinner for food throwing, Caroline stood next to me at the counter and ate spinach ravioli until I ran out. We think we are officially moving from the high chair to the booster. It will hopefully make a difference.

Item of cuteness - Trying to manage the time between walk and tub in a way that did not include Neh-mo, ahh-rel, or the latest Belle brought me to play pretend let's give hugs and kisses with her stuffed animals. It was so ridiculously sweet!

Item of bossiness - Steve sent Caroline to get me for our walk post dinner clean up. So she sassed right into the kitchen and yelled "Momma! Walk!"

I love my sassy, bossy, cute, non-eater with surpremely sensitive skin.