he was just as confused as we were

The doctor we met with this afternoon for our NST and bp check seemed perplexed as to why exactly we were there for an NST. Baby sounded good, though he did sleep through the first 15 minutes of the test necessitating some juice. My bp was excellent 116/74. While he wouldn't give me the go ahead to go back to work, he did downgrade my visit on Wednesday to just a bp check. We rescheduled it for early in the morning and assuming all goes as planned, we're going to be heading up to watch Auntie C and Hokie get hitched later that day. I hear that there might be a certain bride sending demanding messages to the unborn Macadamia via brain wave to "STAY PUT!"

Whatever changed this week is a huge blessing. Watch for my "how to beat early preeclampsia symptoms" bestseller coming out later this year. There must be some special guardian angels watching out for us, ensuring this baby made it to term, and that all three and 3/4 of us gets to see this amazing wedding with our own eyes and not just in pictures.

We are hopeful. We are overly prepared for a baby who seems to be quite comfortable in his little baby cave. We are PACKING to go to Boston and planning a day together just the grown ups tomorrow that includes a movie... in a theatre... without a toddler.

I'll keep the updates coming, but we are hoping they will be pretty boring, with the exception of the wedding recap of course.

Santa's visit was a hit

Caroline and Steve are already playing Wii baseball and she's completed several beautiful works of art on her new easel. In fact, she was so excited about the new easel and all that brand new paint with its fancy brushes that we were hard pressed to convince her to open anything else at all! Santa knew better than to bring too much more than that very special easel because she wanted nothing more than to slap on her new art smock - luckily Santa had told Mommy which box that was in - and get to PAINTING. She ate her breakfast in the living room STARING at the glorious easel and I cannot imagine how we are going to convince her to leave the house this morning to make the trip up to my parents' house.

This morning was by far the best Christmas yet. She woke up knowing full well that Santa had come overnight and we waited at the top of the stairs (per Steve's family tradition) for Daddy to check and see if he had in fact made a stop at her house. She raced forward from the steps directly for her easel and the pure joy on her face made my own heart race. Don't worry, I checked my pressure on her new doctor kit pressure cuff. What a wonderful morning. What a treat to be here.

A few shots of the morning and our daughter's insane hairdo.

Christmas Morning 2009

Santa stopped by already

Cookies and chocolate milk

We thought we had her sold on a cold beer, but at the last moment she opted for chocolate milk instead. We comprimised by serving it in a Sam Adams brewery tour tasting glass.

We tracked the big guy via NORAD - she loved it so much she THANKED Steve for showing it to her - and she practically leapt into the tub. Fell asleep during "twas the night before Christmas" just after 7PM like the nice list caliber girl she is.

so so happy to be home for this...

Ballerina

From Tasha, Tony, and tj

She loves this so much... "So pretty" "can I hold her hand?" "Tasha picked it!"

Tasha is right- every little girl needs this.

HOME

We are HOME. HOME. HOME.

I sat on the monitor for about 30 minutes watching our son's heartbeat with widening eyes as some of my contractions hit the 100 mark - yikes. I was only feeling a tightening and he was reacting pretty well to the contractions so the doc was pleased with the results of the NST. My pressure was 118/84 which is astounding. Granted I had just spent 30 minutes immobile on my left side, but STILL. She checked me as well and there is NO progress to report on that TMI front - which YAY! I am cleared to travel to western MA to spend Christmas Day with my family and I have orders to remain at home, doing what I am doing - which is NOTHING. Assuming all goes well, I will here with my little family to wake up on Christmas morning and watch the magic of Santa's visit to our home.

35 weeks and two

Steve will be chauffeuring me to my appointment this afternoon for a Non-Stress Test, BP check and protein urinalysis. Fun times. He’ll get to hear his son’s heart chugging away on the monitor and I will remain as calm as I possibly can knowing full well that my homebound freedom can be taken away at any moment. My BP continues to creep up. I have yet to take it this morning, knowing that I am better off waiting until breakfast settles and the water I’ve drank is into my system.

Each day when I shower the soap grazes the spots on my arms where the IV tape and the various other needle stick bandages were. The tiny pinhole from my IV is fading, but present. That tape is a menace and though each time I get out of the shower fully intending on baby oiling them away, I choose to leave them instead. They remind me where I was more than a week ago. They remind me how far we’ve come since then, more than a full week of gestation and ok, while I admit I should just wash the tape marks off my arms – gross – they are like badges of courage in some kooky way, reminders of what can be if I am not careful in another.

There is nothing left to do but wait. Steve continues to manage the house, taking care of dinner prep, dinner clean up, toddler lunch creation, bath time, the bazillion trips to her room when she claims she is tired and ready for bed, but really just wants to play. He fetches me glass after glass of water, sits with me while I take my blood pressure, reassures me even with a kind glance that things are going to be ok. He asks questions throughout the day, maintaining our connection even when he isn’t here; “how’s he doing?” “how’s the bp?” “did you nap?” I feel unprepared for labor and yet I know that with him by my side I have nothing to worry about. He reminds me that we’re already halfway to adding another week, the elusive week 36. I don’t know how people can do this without a supportive spouse like Steve. I know he’ll tell me later that he doesn’t feel like he is doing all that much, that the kudos aren’t deserved, but remind him please that they are.

We’re bringing along the hospital bags and the camera to the appointment, hoping that Murphy’s Law prevails and the prepared parents to be will be sent home to sit on their butts and wait some more.

35 and one day

Am I crawling the walls with boredom? Not yet. I’m keeping as busy as I can and seem to be coming up with a bit of a daily schedule that seems to be working for me. I set myself up with a list of doable tasks each morning to complete during the day. Today’s highlights; uploading three great CDs from Auntie k to the iPod, pulling together some extras for Caroline should she need to be elsewhere, and drinking more water.

The mere mention of Steve’s accident last Thursday’s drives my blood pressure to the sky. The guy who hit him and at the time not only admitted it was 100% his fault has now suddenly changed his tune; denying there was a third car involved that took off (despite his ugly racist “must be an illegal immigrant” statement) and claiming that Steve swerved into HIS lane and not that he tried to swerve to avoid Steve, who was completely STOPPED directly in front of him. Merry Christmas you evil conniving asshat.

Steve brought the car in for repair this morning. Why not take advantage of the fact that we can function 100% with a single car for the immediate future? So I insisted on driving the 2 miles to pick him up from the repair location and I have to tell you I felt like I was breaking the law! I felt nervous and exhilarated to be in the world; “so this is what the world looks like.” I capitalized on my out of the house adventure by stopping at CVS to pick up the new mommy supplies I didn’t want to have to send Steve out to purchase. He remembered where the witch hazel pads were from last time because he “felt extremely uncomfortable in the aisle.” Poor guy. I am glad I have spared his dignity this time around, though he did have to be with me in line holding an armload of “what is going on with that woman?” supplies. And you know what happened? This older lady with a cart cut us off at the end of one aisle and pushed her religious thank you cards and candy ahead of us in line without even a thought. I stepped aside to look for an extra care coupon in my purse while Steve maintained our spot in line and another woman tied to step ahead of him. Only his “excuse me” forced her to vacate her implied spot in line prompting me to turn to him and ask, “where ARE we?” I suppose I just didn’t look the part of a woman who isn’t supposed to be out of the house, which I’ll take as a compliment.

Baby Mac has been more squirmy, less “kicky” since yesterday afternoon, but my kick counts continue to exceed the 3 in 30 or 6 in 60 guidelines. We'll call this evidence of weight gain. When I get nervous about movement I chug some water, eat a piece of chocolate, and lay on my left side and there he is. Just what I need; another reason to eat chocolate. My pressure continues to creep up a bit each day, but I’m maintaining a pretty consistent measurement overall and have no other concerning symptoms. So it appears with this information that I will be seeing the doctor tomorrow at the office for another Non-Stress Test.

35 weeks


I was a special treat to see in my "Your Pregnancy: 35 weeks" email this morning that most of little Macadamia's physical development is complete and that he'll spend the majority of the time left in utero gaining weight.

We had a lovely time up in MA this weekend with Steve's family. It simply would not have been the holidays without the McFam Holiday Extravaganza. Knowing that I might not have a true Christmas with my family, it was nice to be surrounded by family in a festive atmosphere. I have my amazing in-laws to thank for the opportunity to be there. They drove down to CT, supported me through my doctor's appointment, and drove two additional passengers back to MA all in less than 8 hours. I feel incredibly fortunate. I was tremendously well-cared for. Caroline was loved, entertained, bathed and spoiled like every nearly three year should be at this time of year. She squealed with delight at every package and was as gracious as someone her age could possibly be. She even got to sit on Santa's lap when he made his annual appearance, bringing her package from the lap sit over to me to open. "Santa brought me blocks! I get to take them home." The magic of Christmas is alive in my little girls gleaming wide eyes.

There were a couple low moments of course - but those came because as much as I truly understand that intellectually I cannot do anything but bide my time and take it easy, emotionally I am all over the place; concerned for my son, worried about Steve, thinking about a NICU stay, nursing, and everything else you would expect a hormonal pregnant woman to worry about.

the update

Long story as short as I can make it...

... bp still elevated, but better overall than it was on Tuesday when I was discharged
... baby sounds wonderful
... no protein in the sample
... Dr. feels that we are on a course for an earlier than planned arrival, though no one knows exactly when that will be - only Mother Nature can answer that one
... He is hoping that we can keep Macadamia on the inside for two more weeks, bringing us to 36 weeks and full term
... He thinks that it will happen quickly, that my symptoms will advance and they will bring me in to deliver, though the method of delivery is to be determined
... We got the go ahead to travel this weekend to attend the McFam Holiday Party and are currently up in MA, thanks to the extra efforts of my amazing in-laws
... Steve would like to know when this elusive day will be so he can preplan
... Caroline's first answer to the question what would you like for Christmas was "a baby brother." Her and her Christmas wishes.

We are fine. We are safe. We are being cautious. We don't have any answers and it doesn't look like we will. We're just taking it day by day, moment by moment and hoping for the best possible outcome.

Thanks for the voicemails, the texts, the tweets, the thoughts, the prayers...

keeping the freak out in check

I'm waiting until my breakfast settles and the three glasses of water have a chance to do their magic before I take my first pressure of the day, but I am not expecting it to be ideal. Between the anxiety of my 10:30 appointment to figure out our next step(s), Steve's out of state travel plans today, and you know the car sitting in front of the house with damage to the front and rear thanks to the jerk who rear ended my husband last night - yeah - I've got a nice full plate of FREAK OUT going on.

My little girl is home with me here now, keeping me calm, boldly reminding me why the heck I need to calm down already and get a nice even pressure now and at the doctor. I'm being careful not to really mention the doctor to her since that was how we first discussed Kitty being sick. Kitty never came home, so I want to be sure that she does not connect the two together. Speaking of kitty, man, this week would have been so much better with her little warm purring self at my side. I know she would not have left me, that she would have snuggled right up to me and calmed me down. Kitty always knew.

I packed two bags; one to go home to MA and one to go to the hospital. I picked out an adorable newborn sized outfit, Red Sox socks and hat, a onesie, a blanket.

News to come. Hopefully excellent news.

at home: the day before the next visit

There's a slightly ominous feel in the air today. It's Thursday. I've successfully made it at home so far, but I cannot help but already feel the rug being pulled out from under me a bit when I think about my appointment tomorrow morning. I'll have a non-stress test (back on the monitors), a bp check, and I am sure they will be asking for a sample to check the protein situation. I've been spending a great deal of time at home attached to my blood pressure cuff, desensitizing myself to the ripping velcro sound and trying to find some strategy that will allow me to relax while my arm is constricted. So far I've tried singing a holiday carol in my head, imagining my sweet little girl's face (DISASTER! All I did was think that I might not see it first thing in the morning!), and really Steve's good ol' "in through the nose, out through the mouth zoning out" method is the best one. I've been able to acheive pretty good pressures this way and I am hoping that will continue today. Never one to do the bare minimum, my required 4 pressures a day topped out near 10 measurements yesterday. I figure they'll average out better and hopefully I'll look like an overacheiver and not completely paranoid.

I suppose it is also good news that I was back to my nightly up at 4 staring at the ceiling schedule. It means I am well-rested again and after the night of sleep I had (if you can even call it that) in the active labor side of the floor, that is a very good thing. The only downside is that I was up...for 90 minutes...thinking. What if they don't let me go home? What if they do? What about the cookie dough I made over the weekend to bake and decorate with Caroline on Monday? Is it still good? Should I just call it a total wash and forget about how much fun the holiday cookie decorating would have been? and what about the pizza dough in the fridge since Sunday? Can we have pizza tonight? Mental list started for Target and BJ run. List of tiny tasks to do today started to be spread out throughout the day; packing Caroline and myself up for the weekend. Officially packing up that Hospital Bag. Selecting a newborn sized outfit to put in said bag.

Did I mention I may have named our son yesterday? I was sitting there counting little kicks - supposed to get three every 30 or 6 every hour. Four minutes into counting I usually have all three kicks I need making my handy iPhone tally counter pretty useless. He's an active little guy and it would be completely obvious to me if his movement decreased, but yet I keep my kickcounts, being as compliant with the rules put upon me to remain at home as I possibly can be. In the afternoon after lunch (caprese salad and soup) he kicked me something fierce and I jumped, looked down at the little elbow or foot sticking out of my side and said to the baby inside, "buddy, you really need a name!" I thought on it, there was some hesitation to push forward and actually pick one of our beloved three over the rest, but when Steve got home I surprised him with the news that I had picked my choice for this baby's name. "ok." I think he is stunned that I made up my mind.

NOW - just because we have named you little one, don't get any ideas that this means we desperately want to meet you or anything. Stay put. Grow nice and strong. Keep those kicks coming and don't do anything to freak your mother out too much.

at home: day 2

Base camp has been relocated downstairs today (trial run!) and my first blood pressure of the day was excellent, which makes me happy considering I tried to play a minimal role (pigtail procurement) in operation "get the toddler out the door."It is definitely throwing Caroline that I am home, but not doing the things I normally do. There were a couple minor meltdowns and one half of a chocolate Santa ingested before she and Steve made their way out the door. It is harder than I thought to not sweep her up into my arms comfort her.

The best part of my entire day yesterday was hearing a little voice come in the front door and start climbing the stairs towards me - "Mommy, Mommy, flowers!" She and Steve had indeed brought home some cheery flowers for the bedroom and that hug and snuggle were perhaps the best ones I've ever gotten from my daughter. Before she climbed under the blankets with me she checked to be sure that the "boo boo" on my hand where my IV had been was all gone. We camped out upstairs, had a picnic dinner on the bed, and Steve took care of absolutely everything.

I'm up. I'm showered. I might be ready for a nap.

quarantined

I’ve been set free from the “Special Care Maternity” ward at least temporarily under strict rules to relax, do nothing, drink lots of fluid and take my blood pressure at least 4 times a day.


I slipped on the ice (MY FAULT!) on Sunday afternoon and thought nothing of it because I had landed squarely on my behind and caught myself with my elbow, which also happened to be supporting Caroline. Ouch. I felt fine, baby was moving fine, no bleeding or cramping. When Steve looked at me seriously a bit later in the afternoon and asked me if the baby was moving, I figured a call to the OB was in order JUST to be sure. Of course the OB was erring on the side of caution and suggested that he might want us to stop in for a very quick monitoring session on our way home. I called him back hours later when were on the road and his mind was made up – we needed to stop in “quickly.” So we did.


Everything looked great, baby looked wonderful. The nurses kept telling Steve I’d be out within 15 minutes. I texted the fam – I was going home. UNTIL he wanted to see a bit more movement – which really wasn’t going to happen considering it was now 7pm and the pregnant lady had not had dinner yet. I made this fact known to everyone several times, and as I started to feel uncomfortable my blood pressure started going up and up and then my body started contracting. I got an IV, they admitted me -- and then they found protein in my urine and it was at least a 24-hour sentence for me to collect every single drop of pee for testing. I started that at 11pm Sunday – I stopped Monday night at 11pm. In between I drank and drank and drank some more. I sat and sat and sat. They moved me from the Labor side of the floor yesterday afternoon and while I was ecstatic to be freed from the 24-hour monitoring and my new best friend, Mr. IV Pole, I was not impressed to see that this room was designed for someone to be there for awhile if you catch my drift. There was lots of storage and a fridge and if I hadn’t lost it yet – this pushed me over the edge.


Steve brought me a pad of paper, knowing my OCD tendencies. I started making crazy lists for him of where to find all the baby stuff. “Car Seat and bases – attic, to the left behind the chimney.” He looked at me a little cock-eyed until I asked him if he knew where the car seat was and he had no idea. So I made lists. I began to come around to the idea that this might be my home for awhile and I’m not going to lie; there were tears, an abundance of them – which do NOTHING to help you when you want to keep your blood pressure low by the way. Trust me.


I was woken at 5:30 to hop on the monitor for an hour and while the baby looked and sounded great – my “uterus was still irritated” showing some spikes that concerned the nurse, but not the doctor. It was the theme of my visit – the fun of watching each new nurse’s horrified face as she took my pressure for the first time. This nurse ambitiously forced more fluids and I got very sad that the news coming from the doctor this morning would not be what I really wanted to hear, all the while trying to reason with myself that I had to keep myself and the baby safe at whatever the cost. By the time shift change happened and I ordered breakfast I was teary-eyed again relaying the last 48 hours to my new nurse who quickly grabbed the doctor on call to come talk to me. He decided to send me home, but with strict rules to not do anything, to drink lots of fluids, to take my blood pressure and alert them if it went above a certain range, and to watch for various signs of distress. So, I’m keeping a kickcount and sitting in bed surrounded by snacks, two phones, a blood pressure cuff, a blanket, this laptop, and a pitcher of water lovingly left by the hero of the entire week – my husband.


Steve handled Caroline during the three hour events of Sunday night, following her down the hallways and keeping her entertained. He stayed home from work on Monday to entertain her, to be available for me should I need him, and while he was “working from home” he did the laundry, he cleaned, he emptied the dishwasher. He did all the things he thought I would do at home and he did them without me asking him too.When they stopped to see me last night my daughter clung like a koala to her father, scared of her own mother. She eventually warmed up to me, sitting in bed with me.


“Mommy, I scary of you, but not anymore. I forgive you.”


Watching them leave after I practically pushed them out the door at 5:30 because I knew what would await him if her majesty’s dinner was delayed was the most heart wrenching part of my day. I closed the door and rubbed my eyes with harsh paper tissues.


Steve continued to be amazing getting her dinner, getting her to bed, handling a tub, reading stories and waking up this morning to do it all on his own again. Until I called to tell him “come get me.” It was so much more than just his actions as father and sole care provider though. He kept a steady head. He supported me. He was in constant communication. He reminded me to breathe and to stay calm and he let me know that they missed me, but wanted me to be safe. He did exactly what needed to be done and he continues to be such an amazing, supportive, wonderful husband that I still wonder HOW in the world I was so lucky to find him.


I am here at home for now – sequestered to the bedroom – but home and the weight on my heart has literally been lifted. I get to snuggle with my family, our daughter between us tonight. I get to spend a few more precious moments just us three before her brother arrives. I get to be present in her daily life even if I am not able to completely participate in it. School is going to help us with extra days until the baby arrives (though at this point we only need one Monday thanks to the holidays). Kiki is going to come down on Friday to help us negotiate a potential bump in the road when Steve will be away and I will need to get to the doctor for a blood pressure check. AND he would want me to make it known that he was going to cancel said business appointment, but I am forcing him against his will to follow it through.


One thing we did learn: we may not have family down here, but there are some pretty amazing people in our life that were and continue to be willing to do anything and everything to help us. We thankfully didn’t need to act on those kind offers, but was it ever spirit lifting to know that as alone as we felt, we weren’t. To say that helped my blood pressure tenfold would not be enough. The emails, the messages, the texts - they all helped. We feel so supported and cannot thank everyone enough! We are so lucky and so blessed in so many ways.


Baby Macadamia will likely arrive earlier than we thought he would, but we’ve got one heck of a story to tell him about how he came to be and I’m just going to do everything I can to cook him as long as possible.


Our little man – who still STILL has no name.

Santa dropped something off early

Mr. Claus spent less than 20 minutes to put Caroline's new easel
together. It is exactly what we wanted, though isn't that a little
backward? She is going to LOSE HER MIND!!!!

empty canvas

The weekend looms before us like a fresh canvas and I stand right beside it, brushes in hand ready to dig in and make a beautiful mess of it. We are home this weekend. We are home and…

… we’re kicking off Friday with The Valentines and the Lobans tackling gingerbread houses with the kids, see also: SQUEAL!!
… paint supplies are being tallied to complete the trim in Mac’s room nearly three years later
… presents that sit naked absolutely freezing their behinds’ off will soon be wrapped up with warm holiday spirit
… we get to see the pocklocks and see little lyla’s real honest to goodness pigtails with our own eyes, in person, in REAL LIFE
… there are nearly four cardiac incident inducing pounds of butter on hand for holiday baking and I plan on using every last stick before the weekend is done

The weekend. Our last weekend home together just us three until the man in the red suit climbs into our tiny chimney and goes through the heat unit into the basement (jeez, Steve, we need a house with a fireplace for several reasons!) to deliver “Red Blocks” to an ecstatic Caroline. He’ll enjoy "cookies & milk" (she didn't go for our suggestion of a cold Sam Adams) himself before bringing the "hot dogs" Caroline wants to leave out for the reindeer back to his sleigh. Hot dogs. You simply cannot make this stuff up.

choking back the worry

I had some trouble clipping the tags on Macadamia’s tiny baby wardrobe earlier this week. I am 33 weeks pregnant. My pregnancy has been relatively easy. All signs point to this baby being healthy and his squirmy kicks tell me he is strong and yet… I still worry. Having done this once before, I know that the worry I feel for him now will never go away. I know that I will worry about him from the moment he is placed in my arms, when I leave him at daycare, when I put him to sleep in his crib, and pretty much all day everyday for the next 60 years or so. The worry I am feeling now is a different kind of worry, it is the superstitious please let everything be ok and let my baby wear these clothes someday kind of worry.

I was reluctant to wash and organize Caroline’s clothing last time too. I looked back at the archives and I didn’t clip the tags on her onesies and feetie delights until after Christmas when I had a little scare and the doctor told me they wouldn’t stop labor at that point. Nothing gets a newbie parent’s butt into gear like telling them that they could have a baby that instant. We all know things didn’t exactly work out that way, but we were plenty prepared when Caroline did finally arrive. I think this time around there is just so much more on my mind; Christmas magic to create for a Santa obsessed toddler and that amazing wedding in the beginning of the year. I’ve got baby prep on my mind; finishing the trim in the nursery, pulling things down from the attic and getting the things up from the basement, figuring out where to store the bottles since the cabinets are overflowing with plastic sippy cups, and other various and ridiculous tasks. I am also preparing for the second annual sugar cookie decoration extravaganza. (Special thanks to BIGY for having their buy one butter, get two free sale last week, just in time!) So yeah, things are crazy busy, but I just can’t shake the superstitious worry.

I washed all those tiny outfits. I dug through a huge pile of yellow, green, white and this time blue to find the matching monkey pants for the monkey shirts. I organized them by size and type and put them away in his drawers and the whole time I kept eyeing a silver cross sitting on his dresser with a prayer for expectant parents that asks to keep this baby safe from harm.

Please keep this baby safe from harm.

My memory is flooded with snippets of last time; the high blood pressure that wouldn't go away, entire days spent lying on my left side after Caroline's birth, willing myself to breathe slowly and deeply each time the nurse came to check my pressure hoping I could in some way alter the outcome of her measurement and get the go ahead to take my baby home. Let's not even talk about the mental list I have for the afterbirth experience filled with items from the first aid aisle and the biggest box of nursing pads I can find. It's too early to already be concerned about all this - but last time I didn't really have a clue - this time I un/fortunately do. All this weighs heavy on my mind, but nothing so much as my concern for my boy.

The only thing worse than having to sort, wash, fold, and organize all that clothing would be if I had to take them out of the drawers without putting them on his adorable little boy body. Everytime I walk by Mac’s room I reach for my belly, say a silent prayer and choke that worry back as hard as I possibly can to remain positive, to feel secure, to wait with hope.

"I hold the mommy?"

When I turned around from hanging up the coats tonight I found Caroline holding and petting the "Baby Jeez" from the nativity. She put him back carefully and said "I hold the mommy?" ABORT! ABORT! Do not let toddler hold the extremely fragile and beautiful Mary!!! Instead of telling her no, I explained that these are very special people who are very very breakable and that she can only touch them when Mommy or Daddy is with her. She just needs to ask. We'll see if that makes a difference. After this shot she asked me to help her put the mommy back so she could hold the daddy. At least she asked.

if I don't laugh, I'll cry

You know you might have some issues to work through when you are plotting your way back to daycare on your way to work. The wintry mix spread over the landscape down here is nothing short of YUCK. The snow turned to rain and now there are huge “I’m unsure if I should attempt to drive through that” puddles dotting my route back. I opted not to wash my hair today (why bother?) and wisely pulled on a pair of jeans for work (I defy anyone at work to utter a word about my choice). I got myself out early to clean off the car and shovel the steps and walkway clear of the mushy slushiness that had gathered there spelling imminent disaster later when it will become a sheet of ice. Steve had early meetings with the bosses so I shooed his offers to do the work away – it was more annoying than taxing. A half a bowl of oatmeal, one potty sit, and one poop in a diaper later - Caroline and I were sitting downstairs with the Today Show watching the late starts and closing notices roll by. I breathed a sigh of relief when I did not see our center.


We are having a real problem with listening lately and I am at my wit’s end because she will literally not listen to me unless I raise my voice or snatch her up as she tries to race by me kicking and lashing out and that just really stinks. It makes me feel crappy, it makes her upset and nobody is happy. No matter how many warnings I give her that we are going to put on our coat soon, in a few minutes, in one minute, she still races away from me or drops to the ground in despair when I announce to her that all the minutes have expired. I know this is typical nearly three behavior, but seriously, L-I-S-T-E-N. She knows the drill, she knows that after breakfast we put on our coat and get in the car, and yet somehow it is shocking to her that she might have to leave whatever it is she is doing to go to school. The good news, if there is good news, is that somewhere between me putting her into timeout and counting to ten (which I did aloud today as I flushed that vicious poop) she announces that she is sorry and is ready to listen. Of course she says it with her head down, her eyebrows furrowed in regret, her little voice barely audible and I wonder for just a moment if I have become a monster demanding too much from such a little girl. I sit her on my lap, I hug her body close to mine, she inserts that left thumb and rubs my belly and we talk about how important it is to listen. I tell her that I know she wants to be a good girl and it is like it never happened. She’s suddenly pulling on boots and asking for her hat and even smiling, but I can’t move on that quickly and I pick apart the entire interaction seeking out ways I could have been better, calmer, more effective.

Three is going to be awesome.

wasn't it just the weekend?

Though it is already Tuesday and last weekend already feels like it was months ago instead of days, let’s first dish about the McFam’s weekend. We pulled into Nana and Granda’s driveway Saturday morning to drop our precious cargo off for the day/night. We got a bit of a late start thanks in part to the single worst night of sleep yet – up from 3:30 – 5:30 – and then a very strange thing happened. In my dream I was in my parent’s backyard picking flowers when a little voice suddenly said, “HELLO!” I looked up and there was a child wearing black pants and black hooded sweatshirt. “Hello” I said back. My eyes flew open and I could hear muffled music being played from Caroline’s room. I’m just going to continue believing that she woke up at 6, turned her music on and yelled hello because it makes me feel better.

Steve and I were on the road toward Eastern MA before 11:30. Caroline had caught the vibe early on that we weren’t staying with her and asked Steve several times where he was going. When we did say our goodbyes she was headed outside to play with Nana and Granda and barely wanted hugs and kisses. Nice to leave her happy, but not even a tear!?

By 4pm we were headed into Boston College for Meghan and George’s wedding and the rain had turned into snow. The couple was all smiles, Auntie C looked gorgeous as a bridesmaid and we asked the ring bearer’s father sitting directly behind us for any helpful hints. Directly following the mass we headed into the city for the reception and that was when I made the evening’s fatal errors. I did not immediately reach for an appetizer plate and hit the cheese and fruit. I did not accept the first offer of a beverage from my husband. By the time I decided that the cheese sounded like a good idea, I had been chatting away for so long that there was now a lengthy line and I am so not the girl who plays the preggo card to cut the line. I sent Steve off to fetch me a soda and ultimately ended up meeting him in line because the world was starting to spin a bit and while I know the world does spin, I am not usually keenly aware of this fact. A helpful person pointed to a table with chairs and while I initially declined to sit (what is up with me?! Martyr much??) I eventually ducked my head and raced for that chair because the spinning was getting worse and the coke had not yet done its magic to restore my blood sugar. Steve of course panicked when I was suddenly vanished, but as I continue to tell him, I just needed to take care of myself. Finding him, alerting him that I wasn’t feeling so well would have taken time and energy that I didn’t have. Attentive spouse that he is he kept seeking reassurance that I was doing ok the rest of the evening. I felt very well taken care of. Momentary blip and Dear Body, MESSAGE RECEIVED. I will be hunting down snacks immediately at Auntie C and Hokie’s wedding. I happen to already know what they are and I will have to lie to the baby that the cocktail hour has not yet begun or suffer the wrath of his knees, feet and elbows, as I am sure he will begin insistently kicking me for a bite of the deliciousness. In 25 days!


We danced, we ate, we laughed – a lot. It was such a nice kick off to the holidays and the McFam wedding blitz.


This one is just so them. I love it.


Special thanks of course go to Nana and Granda for entertaining and loving our little girl while we were away. From what we heard she was well behaved, charming, and a delight.

Steve’s got his boss and the VP in for the week, so I’m on morning/afternoon/ and questionable have not been determined yet evening solo parenting duties. We got off to a rocky start this morning when a certain stubborn toddler evaded my every attempt to get her moving towards the door. It was playful on her part, but annoying from my perspective and when the morning ends with a sad face and tears on the step while your mother forcibly buttons you into your coat (all while you clutch your morning toast wrapped in a paper towel) it just isn’t a nice way to begin your week at school. We got back on track in the car singing Jingle Bells, but as I told Steve she so knows that I am not fast enough to wrangle her anymore, that I just don’t have the energy to corral her into her coat quickly, and she is totally taking advantage. Her only real punishment for driving me to the brink of insanity and leaving 20 minutes late was not being allowed to turn off the tree – you would have thought I told her I was cutting one of her fingers off and forcing her to choose the finger.

I’m hoping that the rest of the week goes a bit smoother once she gets back into the school rhythm. She had her own agenda this morning full of feeding her baby cereal, putting her down for a nap, and coloring. AND while we are talking about school. I happened to be present when another little girl came in this morning and announced loud and clear, “SPACE!” to Jordan. It isn’t just our kid, though I’m happy ours seems to have gotten over the intrusiveness for the most part. She was happily chowing on her fruit bar when I left, which is what happens when your witch of a mother tosses your perfectly wrapped toast into the trash after it is thrown across the room as retribution for the unjust act of having ones coat buttoned.

Folded

what you cannot see

Is the mass of blue beneath this pile of things to wash for baby
brother.

injectable under 3

I need to preface this by saying that I am immensely grateful and incredibly fortunate to have arranged for my daughter to have two doses of the oink vaccine. I know that there are many families out there searching for local vaccine availability and sweating out where/when/how to get it. I know this and yet, what happened to us last night still seems inexcusable.

On October 29th I set a reminder on my phone, made a note in my work calendar, forced my brain to remember that Caroline would need a second dose of the vaccine in four weeks. I knew it would be a challenge because it would mean scheduling it during the week of Thanksgiving, but through some miracle (ok, my iPhone reminder) I set up an appointment for last night at 5:15 here in town. Caroline had gotten her first dose at the pediatrician, but the communication I was receiving from them about availability did not seem promising, especially when I knew we could easily secure the appointment through town if I called as soon as the clinic scheduling opened for her date. I had a seamless experience getting my own vaccine there earlier this fall, why should this be any different right?

Here’s how it went:

Kerri leaves work to pick up Caroline at 4:30
Into the car and on the road to appointment at 4:55
Accident off the highway slows us down, but we still walk in the front door of the community center at 5:18
Check-in and wait until 5:25
Fill out paperwork and get cleared to move to what could only be described as a corral at 5:30
Caroline watches Shrek (the Health Department’s solitary accommodation for kids) while I stare at the woman bringing people back waiting and waiting and waiting some more for her to announce the vaccine type we were there for.

At some point I made nice with another young mother of a two year old sitting nearby and together we approached the woman asking if they were not giving out an injectable this evening suitable for our daughters. We had arrived together and had been sitting there for 30 minutes and she had yet to call for a child under 3 of any kind. What they did have plenty of was intranasal any age, intranasal over 10, and injectable over 3. I know this because I heard it being announced through a bullhorn over and over. Her response to our inquiry was that they only had one nurse who was willing to do the injectables for the little ones. ONE. Which just begs the question – “what has she been doing for the last 30 minutes?” At that point a father in the back of the corral with an infant on his lap looked over and said, “how much longer is this going to take, I’ve been here for over an hour” and that nice mom and I locked eyes as if to say, there is no way in hell that we are going to be here for an hour.

It was after 6, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and that mom and I just continued to stare and glare. We watched as they handed out meaningless numbers to people only to take those who had just filled out paperwork ahead of people who had been waiting for longer than we had. What was the point of making an appointment? It was so poorly organized and coordinated that I began to worry a bit. Some people were angry, others were panicking, the clinic ended at 7 and there was no end in sight. Things were taking an ugly turn and that woman was just completely incapable of managing the crowd or her duties.

They finally took us back if only to make the uncomfortable glaring and huffing stop and the nurses in the back had NO patients. One of them actually said, “let them wait” in response to an inquiry if they could send a few back to them. I looked over and said, “this is the only nurse here willing to vaccinate my child? Really?” They had no reply. In my head I continued on about how she had missed her dinner, how this icky process had been drawn out way longer than it needed to be, how I thought nurses were tougher than this. We left with a forced thank you, no sticker and the most boring band aid in the history of the world.

Caroline was brave, so brave that she called Steve on the way home and spoke to him over the speakerphone all by herself. She barely let me dial him up before demanding the phone. “Daddy, I brave. We coming to get you, ok, I talk to you later, ok?” She rattled on for a few moments more about her cheese sandwich at school and the shot and promptly hung up on him.

You know what didn’t suck? Coming home to a tray of amazing French toast prepared by Steve. He took her right upstairs to get her out of her wet clothes because as a special super bonus she had wet through her diaper due to our extended stay at the community center. I felt so badly for her, especially because she had announced to me each time she was going and that she needed a potty and there was literally nothing I could do. He set up a dry and much happier Caroline at the table with a plate of syrupy goodness while I changed and took a deep breath. I have quite a partner. I think his foresight with last night’s dinner actually makes up for him never cleaning the toilet, that is how amazing it was.


In happier news, we’ve been doing the looney tunes advent calendar since December first and it is already quite a hit. Here's some shots of the calendar, day one holiday chocolate, and day two Nemo ornament (thanks Nana! she loved it and put it right onto the tree!)





seems it agrees with me

Packed away in my bag here at work is a piece of paper labeled “Pre-Admission Questionnaire.” It made my sullen post turkey trip on the scale blues fade away into virtual insignificance. I held it for a moment before ushering it out of my sight and into my bag where I hoped it would freak me out a teensy bit less. Those three pounds I gained since my last appointment two weeks ago seem like small potatoes when compared with that form and the discussion I had with the doctor about how things are starting to change, what to expect as time goes on, and oh the fact that the next time he sees me I will be an inch bigger. AN INCH. I gently touched his arm and said, “I have to fit into a bridesmaid dress in four weeks.” He smiled and asked me if it had an elastic waist. So yeah, those Crunch Bells I was so excited about yesterday? They need to be put AWAY. My doctor and I are happy with the weight gain so far, so long as it comes from turkey and vegetables and not ice cream. A nice member of my bereavement group told me yesterday that pregnancy agreed with me. I am not sure if he was saying I was a train wreck before or that I seem pretty content with my basketball belly. Either way, I am good that it appears to the outside world that it agrees with me.

I am also realizing that I am getting deep into nesting mode, which for me means folding and refolding tiny onesies, arranging and rearranging the nursery and my curious talent of finding the most meaningless cleaning tasks known to man. Last time I remember wanting to attack the corner of the kitchen with a toothbrush. I didn’t actually DO IT, but I thought about it. A lot. This time my first ridiculous nesting behavior was emptying and organizing the flatware drawer. I know what you have pictured in your head, a mess of a drawer with knives mixed in with forks and the INSANITY. No. It was all where it needed to be, it just didn’t "look" neat. Caroline has been using the teaspoons and dessert forks lately and they seem to get mixed in with the regular sized stuff which for some reason set me off on a ten minute trip down Nesting Lane yesterday morning. I had to close it quickly before my eyes drifted a bit too far to the right to see the true honest to goodness disaster that is the gadget area of the flatware drawer. Don’t think I am forgetting about it. Oh no, I am sure there will be another morning that I will drop everything to line up the can opener and the wine keys.

The kicker of course is that the other grown up in the house did not even notice the miracle in the flatware drawer. Did not even notice. Lest Steve taunt and tease, let's all remember that his nesting with Caroline involved the purchase of a home.

entering the dreaded December timewarp

After being off since noon last Wednesday (though mentally checked out since Tuesday) Steve and I sat together on the couch Sunday night and agreed that it felt like we had been on vacation for weeks. I am sure that the weekend home – 48 full hours – did wonders for that feeling. Caroline thoroughly enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with both sets of grandparents, as well as her aunties and her two uncles; Bubba and Hokie. Our travel was so easy it felt criminal. The turkeys and sides left us beyond full. It was a wonderful, relaxing, and very happy holiday.

I spent the majority of the weekend (and most of my "workday" Wednesday) plotting my holiday shopping gameplan via iPhone Notes, iPhone checklist, mental checklist, secure online shopping cart. We are officially one amazon order away from being completely FINISHED. Except for each other and stocking stuffers for Caroline and... is it ever really DONE? By the time Monday Night Football rolled around I had placed several orders, including our adorable holiday cards. That purchase made me so happy I did a little jig after hitting "confirm order." It was an embarassing pregnant woman jig, but a jig nonetheless and wow - holy hell - it's gonna be January tomorrow!!

How did the rest of our weekend fair?

There was a minor incident during “quiet time” on Saturday afternoon. Shortly after I had shooed Steve out of the house to go to the gym assuring him that Caroline would sleep, I crept upstairs to see what she was up to. I discovered a shirtless child playing with her tub toys holding an empty container of Curious George Bubbles in one hand. “I sorry I spill.” Head down, pouting, showing true remorse. Stripping her bed proved to be more of a workout than this pregnant woman was prepared for, especially when it involved keeping Caroline from rolling around on the inviting pile of soapy blankets on the floor. We talked about how it was an accident and I assured her that Mommy wasn’t mad at her. We talked about how tub toys are for the tub and promptly tossed out the bubble container with its tiny bit of remaining soap. She continued to apologize for this for the rest of the day, which broke my heart because it wasn’t that big a deal, but warmed my soul that she knew she had been doing something naughty without me having to reprimand her in any meaningful way. She’s been doing that lately; going to time out, coming back with an apology. The bubbles were our fault. Parents of toddlers take note. Though your tiny bathroom has no storage, do not think you can just store things like this in your toddler’s room. They will find them and they will spill them everywhere. Also – the decision to get a quilt and not a comforter – definitely CORRECT. Washed, dried, no worse for the wear.

On Sunday we scoped out a Christmas tree and picked the very first one we saw. They said they sold out on Friday and that this tree had just been cut that very morning. You can’t get much fresher unless you cut it yourself and we weren’t up to that challenge. I just started the decoration process last night and I am actually contemplating leaving the ornaments in the boxes this year. After the lights and the ribbon I felt like I had ran 10 miles. I needed to sit down. Steve offered to help me, but I am much too much of a control freak to bear witness to his version of stringing up the lights. The tree, while it does seem to matter more to him now that we have Caroline, doesn’t really delight him in a meaningful way. I could sit there with a mug of cocoa in the darkness, holiday disco tunes in the background, and just stare at it.

Caroline helped me put up the nativity with its extremely fragile OHMYGODDONTTOUCH pieces and has become smitten with one specific breakable Santa from our collection. She’s got the holiday spirit and for the first time helped put the angel on the top of the tree. I always loved that; getting hoisted up to the ceiling to place the crowning glory on top. She couldn't quite reach, but it was so beautiful to watch her and Steve do that. I am such a holiday SAP! Tonight we’ll continue the insane tradition of the advent calendar created last year. It took way too long to put it up after a faulty curtain rod crashed to the floor, but I know it will be worth it when she comes home from school today and opens up Bag number 1. I am grateful for the excuse to have holiday candy around and at the ready. Those Crunch Holiday Bells that jumped into my cart at Target won’t just eat themselves you know!

sunday

Played amongst trees her size, wrote and sent a letter to the big guy, and found a new use for holiday stockings.

Check

Quiet time turned nap - check
Contents of file drawer emptied - check
Underwear and sock drawer "organized" - check
Placement of stool to climb back into bed- check
Pants removed- check

tricky, tricky

I think Steve and I surprised ourselves with how little effort and stress it took to organize for Thanksgiving this year. Granted, we aren’t doing the cooking or entertaining, but we’ve come a long way from 2007 when a couple nights away make my brow sweaty and kept me up late night thinking about what must bring items I must be forgetting. More evidence of our family of three well-oiled machine prowess. Of course I say that and we will have undoubtedly forgotten something of massive importance… and there it is… my toothbrush. Regardless of toothbrushes, not only did we pack up quickly and and organize efficiently, but I also had time to make a double batch of Ina's Pan Fried Onion Dip and prepare Caroline mashed potatoes for her classroom’s “Thanksgiving Feast.” I had to cut myself off from sampling both. It was harder than I thought.

Steve came up with a plan to end all plans; a single car. This eliminates the whole “I’ll meet you at home at” equation and was a cleverly disguised way to ensure my timeliness this morning and afternoon. I couldn’t linger over breakfast. I can’t send just one more email before I check out of the office. He’ll be picking me up at 11:45 with lunch in hand, maybe his plan wasn’t so nefarious after all? We’ll speed off to daycare together to retrieve our very own little stuffed turkey and head up north for the holiday.

I'm having trouble keeping track of the babies in Caroline's classroom. There used to be a Mason, but now there is a Braden and Braden is a big boy. He is only 8 weeks old and built like a linebacker. When I got back into the car with Steve this morning I told him there was a new baby and he was quite large for his age. "That's how this one is going to be! He's going to be an offensive lineman for BC!" Oh, really?

We’ve got so much to be thankful for this year.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday.

the absence of all motivation

Some of us are still recovering from the last Boston College tailgate/game of the year this past Saturday. Special thank yous to the wonderful people who took on the clingy toddler holding duties for me throughout the morning, afternoon, and early evening. My back literally was incapable of snuggling the “hold me, hold me” little girl this time. Hard to imagine that this was the last game we’ll attend as a family of three. Hey look, it's Kiki and Papa - the Season Ticket Holders of the MONTH!


I was surprised on Monday morning to find a toddler who wanted to just sit and be as much as I did. She splayed herself across my lap while we read a book on the couch and I eventually just put my head back and ran my fingers through her curls for what felt like way too long. It took a monstrous level of motivation to get us up and out to the grocery store – but the promise of frozen turkey selection assistance seemed to help move things along a tiny bit. BigY handed out turkey coins earlier this month for 10.00 off a fresh or frozen turkey and when I told Steve his eyes pooled over with visions of gravy, mashed potatoes and dark meat. He’s keen on Thanksgiving. So I picked up what I hope is a doable size frozen bird for the freezer downstairs and scheduled a turkey dinner the weekend after Auntie C and Hokie’s wedding. YOU might be in Hawaii, but we’ll be eating turkey, assuming all goes well – I’ve never made a turkey before?

Caroline NEVER sleeps on days we have her at home. She gets some quiet time in her room and that seems to do the trick, but yesterday she asked to go to her bed to nap. I had to gently wake her after 90 minutes and she didn’t actually really wake up until she passed the two-hour mark. This spelled certain disaster for bedtime especially since the nap did not end until 3:30. I knew if I tried to nap myself that I would have been completely out and then utterly useless for the rest of the day, so I busied myself tidying, bleaching tiny onesies that seemed a bit yellow, stripping crib bedding, writing a list of things to do before we jet out for the holiday and showering. Please note the placement of my own cleanliness on my level of priorities; pathetic! Steve called just after my quick body cleanse and noted that I was out of breath, slurring my words even. Apparently getting yourself clean and fully dressed again takes a lot out of you when you are 31 weeks pregnant.

I wanted to sit, but sitting was just as uncomfortable as moving yesterday. Baby Mac had positioned himself in such a way that no matter what I did to try to find some relief, I just found myself sighing deeply. I had Steve touch what I can only describe as the “belly shelf” (the space between my chest and my belly) so he could feel the amazingly annoying position his son had gotten himself into and I think his bulging eyes said it all. I’ve clearly been fooling myself that I haven’t been all that pregnant because suddenly out of nowhere I am one big pregnancy complaint; my back, my feet, my hips, my lungs! Every time I open my mouth to whine, I think about how much we wanted this, how incredibly fortunate I am to even have these complaints. That seems to shut me up for awhile, until I have a terrible night of sleep. It’s never a good thing when your first statement of the morning is “that was the worst night’s sleep I have had in months and I’m going to try very hard not to take it out on you.” I’ve learned a few things in the past five years, but so has my husband. When he sensed a struggle to get the child out of her pajamas this morning he pulled himself from bed to help me dress her.

I didn’t laugh when my 31-week Babycenter email started with “having trouble sleeping?” Ok, I did, but it was of the sarcastic I hate you variety. This week Macadamia is about 3.5 pounds (four navel oranges!) and over 16 inches long. He is fattening up now as his body starts accumulating fat and he can turn his head from side to side now. Even after a tough night with little sleep and a sore lower back, I am reassured by his constant moving. Though it at times is all a bit too much (for the love of GOD, relax!), I smile each time he reminds me he is there.

and just because... some photos of Caroline from last week that made us laugh. She was playing catch with Steve and everytime he threw her the ball she was closing her eyes. So it wasn't so much a game of catch really, but it was silly fun. I can't help but laugh at the second shot. She is such a playful, vocal, smiling delight... who loves her Daddy.

interlaced

On my way to get Caroline yesterday afternoon my Sirius chirped at me that one of the songs I had stored into the memory was playing, so I hopped over to find out what it was. Dirty Water by the Standells. I sang along (OF COURSE!) and as I got closer to daycare I decided to rewind the tune, pause it, leave it running and play it for my daughter post pick-up. I wasn’t sure if it would go over at all, but when it ended a little voice from the backseat said “again.” We’ve got her hooked! Yes, baby the Charles River is not for swimming, but we certainly do love Boston.

After another Dirty Water go around I moved over to the “Holly” station that I discovered earlier this week. There are already at least two stations on Sirius with round the clock holiday music and nothing could make me happier. I asked her as I switched the channel if she wanted to listen to Christmas music and suddenly she went on a multi sentence rave about SANTA.

“Caroline wants to see him! I want to sit on his lap. I write him a letter. Doggie (meaning she will draw him a doggie). He will love it.”

He will love it.

So I pressed on. “What are you going to ask for in your letter?” “Presents.” “What kind of presents?” “baby”

We’re not sure if she wants her real live baby brother to arrive packaged neatly under the tree on Christmas morning or if she just wants a new baby doll, but either way it isn’t happening. We have a whole master plan that involves the Bitty Baby for her birthday, which will nearly coincide with the arrival of her baby brother. So perhaps Santa needs to just bring along plenty of baby doll accessories for her to continue caring so lovingly for the babies she already has? I am feeling conflicted about this, but I know that the best decision is to have her special new baby arrive when the real one does.

I was overwhelmed with love for my daughter last night. As challenging as she can be at times, as headstrong and fiery as her moods may sway, she is so amazing. I am still the preferred parent which still really stinks for Steve and more often these days for me as I simply cannot always do the things she wants me to do. Simple things like carrying her down the stairs or dressing her after a tub. I’ve been thinking about my preferred status a lot lately and while we continue to address it and find ways to get around the mommycentricness of it all, I often wonder how it came to be this way. How has she become so closely bonded to me?

Last night at bedtime I volunteered to do the putting to bed business, mostly because the new room is still so new and creating a stress free bedtime experience seems paramount to switching off duties right now. I sang her Twinkle and she asked me to repeat a story I made up the other night to help get her sleepy. A story she asks for by name; “princess caroline.” A story that she goads me into repeating at least once leading Steve to call me a sucker. A story about her big girl room with a big girl bed and a big girl chair and pretty curtains and a pretty nightlight. After tucking her in and hearing NOTHING over the monitor for nearly an hour, she was suddenly chattering away to George. So at 9pm I went back upstairs and snuggled her in. It’s a slippery slope, but I lay down with her for a few minutes, stroked her curls, sang to her again. She asked for “belly” and put her hand gently on my stomach, interlacing her fingers into mine with her other hand, looking deep into my eyes and soul, not breaking my gaze. Her brother kicked her hand with GUSTO and I smiled at their through the skin connection. I wondered then, how did this happen? How does this child love me as much as I love her? How does she know how to make my heart soar and break it all at once? I know it won’t always be like this, but that tiny moment, those few minutes we spent there are minutes I know I will reference years in the future in a mental reel of most precious moments. Interlacing fingers. Connected gaze. Sweet solitude. Little girl and Mommy.

caro and the bookshelf

That cut/bruise just millimeters from our daughter’s beautiful brown eye seems to be more of the skinned/burned variety today than the bruise we thought it would be yesterday. It was evident that she had gotten lots of TLC from the staff at school over her injury when she showed it to me with a huge pout and told me “I hit my head on the bookshelf.”

This morning over breakfast I applied Aquafor and styled Caro’s hair into adorable piggies. The curls just don’t cut it at school. They can’t quite manage them if a nap is involved and if Katie isn’t there in the afternoon I pick up a complete ragamuffin with an absolute nightmare of a hairdo that screams neglected. She looked at me as she scooped up another spoonful of oatmeal and said, “I don’t want to go to school.” I asked her how come. “I don’t want to see Jordan.”

Steve was still upstairs and I didn’t want to make him dread the drop off anymore than he already does when Jordan is there, so I kept it to myself. Instead I reminded Caroline that Ryan (who apparently has the same reaction to Jordan when he arrives in the morning per Steve), Sean, Bailey and all her other friends would be there too.

Before too long she had a cinnamon pop tart (breakfast 2 of 3) toasted and wrapped in a paper towel for the car ride. When Steve went out to put the bags into the car she leaped from her seat and ran to the door for her coat, greeting him when he came back snapped into her coat, wearing a big smile and a ready to go attitude.

The ebbs and flows of being almost 3.

bruiser

"fell off a truck and hit her face on the bookshelf" or so says the incident report from school. Add the drippy nose (thanks little ryan of boogery nosedom) and a pre 6am wake up and wow, we're feeling pretty awesome today.

to here

from here


moving up

There were as expected a few sad moments this weekend.

...when I realized we didn’t have to keep the door to the basement open for the cat anymore.

...when Caroline asked to see photos of Reese and asked us which one we liked best.

...when Steve and I simultaneously cringed seeing the cat in the beautiful illustrations in “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and Caroline said “My Reese, I love her.”

I have actually found her far and few between questions about kitty to be comforting, a reminder that she is still on our minds and in our hearts. Since Caroline frequently references her little friend Hannah from school who left months ago for a home daycare, I don’t doubt that we’ll be fielding these questions for some time, but I do not dread them. It’s been odd not having a heat whore pushing her way against my body and not feeling a heavy lump by my feet at night. I gazed into Caroline’s new room this morning, at the sunlight streaming through the windows, and couldn’t help but think that Reese would have spent a lot of time in Caroline’s new big girl room. Perhaps she would have left my feet for smaller ones that don’t yet reach the foot of the bed. So I am sad for what will never be for them, but so satisfied with the life she was given.

We had an unprecedented number of visitors this weekend, which was such a mental help. Marc and Kelly spent Saturday afternoon with us watching the BC/Virginia game over wings. I don’t think the boys knew quite what to do with themselves since they didn’t need to text their gripes and celebrations. Caroline warmed up to them quickly and when they left Sunday morning to head back to Boston she was missing them fiercely, needing reassurance that we would see them next weekend at the “Red Sox game.”

Marc and Kelly’s departure almost overlapped Kiki and Papa’s arrival with the big girl bed and furniture. She immediately took Papa upstairs to see her new room and it all came together in what felt like an instant. Poof, a sweet little girl’s room. Did she like it? She leaped up into the bed, covered herself with a blanket, and had herself a little quiet time. She was too excited to sleep, but she did grab a nap on Papa later in the afternoon after a delicious lobster roll lunch and koi pond fish feeding.

Her excitement had not worn off at bedtime either. She wanted to skip books completely and go straight to bed - absolutely unheard of at 7:30. One problem, she wasn’t tired yet. Her new room is three times the size of the nursery and she had some trouble settling down to sleep, nervously whining a bit. Steve lay down with her for a few moments to reassure her and she slept all night, not one peep.

Last night with no nap during the day she literally fell into bed only to wake up in the middle of Gossip Girl with the terrible croupy cough. It took us a bit of time to calm her down, but when I took her out into the night air wrapped in a blanket to sit on the steps she settled, breathed deeply and eventually said she was ready to go back to bed. I was prepared for a rough night, but she slept right through, with just a twinge of that cough remaining this morning.

The cutest story from our big girl room extravaganza happened on Sunday night. We walked upstairs and I took her into the nursery asking her who was going to sleep there now. A bit of conversation later she came up with this nugget that she’s been repeating every time we happen to be in Macadamia’s nursery to raise or lower the shade. (Despite the fact that there is no reason to raise and lower the shade, it just feels ODD to not do it everynight and every morning.)

“Bye bye bed, I too big for you now, I sorry."

Not a baby anymore

Big girl making big girl puzzles and sleeping in a big girl bed.

the girl who is getting us through

Reese left us shortly before 4pm on Thursday afternoon. She was comfortable and calm. I was with her for quite a long time before and after and I know we absolutely did the right thing. I wanted to ensure that Reese knew she had not done anything wrong, that she was a good girl. There have been only a handful of questions from caro, but we're handling them as they come, giving her only the information she asks for. At her age that is all she needs. We're trying to not speak in the abstract. It's hard to be overcome with sadness when this little girl makes us so happy, but there is a definite void in the house and in all our hearts today.

3pm, but I'm already bawling

That's when I go to the vet to visit with little Reese and say the words that no pet owner ever wants to say. I've got to call it enough and how can it possibly ever be enough? I am trying to be realistic, to listen to my gut, to imagine the week she has had and how it cannot possibly go on and on like this indefinitely. The vet seems to think that she seems to want to get better, she's got a fighting spirit, but she won't eat. The only alternative is a feeding tube and I am not willing to do that. Without the feeding tube she won't eat and since I feel so strongly, what is it all for?


Thanks for all the kind words, the emails, the @mccashew messages. It's going to be a very rough afternoon and I am so thankful that my husband will be home tonight, that I won't feel so all alone in the house. We, our family, will never be the same. Baby Mac will never get to meet her royal highness. Caroline won't mimic us yelling at the cat to stop pulling up the carpet already! Kitty won't say "rawr!" anymore, but she will live on in all our hearts, our memories and in the background of countless photos. It's appropriate that she is in so many because in her life she was always standing back from the action, taking it all in, waiting for a warm lap to open up, for me to tap my chest and tell her "it's ok, cmon up."

It's ok Reese, go on up.
Mother's Day, 2007



"I did it!"

As steve said, one bad thing happens, one good thing happens. The
world goes on, it is so wierd.

Kitty is not doing well at all and I've made the executive decision to
make a decision tomorrow late morning. I am preparing myself for the
worst case scenario. We are sad and I'm exhausted from worry and
tears. My poor kitty.

In the meantime someone pooped on the potty at school today, was quite
proud of herself and celebrated with a twizzler.

What a world.

not kitty prison

She seems happy to see me.

my brother reese

We came home from Auntie C’s lovely wedding shower and bachelorette celebration to discover a cat who willingly accepted pets and high pitched “hi Reese!” greetings from Caroline.

Something was very wrong.

She looked thin and when I picked her up I was alarmed that she felt like half of herself. She was lethargic, but still sidling up to any available warm body, purring away. I did some investigating around the house and deduced that she had probably not eaten all weekend and it did not appear that she had drank any water either. The cat typically gorges in our absence, draining her self-feeder and completely emptying her water bowl.

Something was very wrong.

A call to a local vet got us an appointment yesterday morning, which meant that the toddler would need to accompany me. As we sat on the steps pulling on her sneakers I explained to her that Reese was not feeling well. “I kiss her and make her better Mommy.” I told her that this kind of not feeling well involved the kitty doctor. “Reese get a sticker?” We rushed through grocery shopping and she assisted me in putting everything away knowing that she was going to help me put Reese in her “special box” to visit the vet.

Reese showed spunk by hissing and batting the side of her carrier when an immense but friendly St. Bernard sniffed in her direction. This was a good sign I thought. Her yellow inner ears and eyes were not and immediately my heart sunk – liver. The vet wanted to keep her – hospitalize her – to do some testing and while I love my cat, I am not the kind of pet owner who is going to blow the holiday budget getting her cat on IV fluids and a catheter. They brought in an estimate for her “hospitalization” and I hate to admit that I was torn, but I was. A call to Steve and a decision that we owed her at least this day to find out what was wrong, to see if it might just be an easy to clear up infection or something terrible she would never recover from. I did not expect Caroline to react so badly to leaving her there. Tears streamed down her face the entire ride home, “Reese, Reese, Reese.” How could she possibly understand and yet, how could she not?

The vet followed up with me during bedtime last night, explaining that she was doing just ok, but that she was much more alert than she should be given her liver levels – all of which were “markedly high.” One was 10.1 when the normal range is between 0 and 0.9. My poor Reese. I’ll be calling back later this morning to see if things changed overnight, but as the vet said, her recovery is up to her and whether or not she’s got the fighting spirit to power through this. A small fortune in, what is another day of IV fluids and monitoring? I suspect we will know one way or the other today which way this is going, but in the meantime there is a very sad little girl in my house asking constantly for “my brother Reese,” telling me “I want my Reese,” asking me when we can go get her, “when can she come home and we can pet her?” I don’t have answers for these questions, but boy are they ever helping me get through with a stoic face.

Steve’s away this week so I am facing this on my own, though he has been incredibly supportive to even allow the billion-dollar hospitalization of a cat he has often jokingly willed dead. She is an enormous pain in our ass in so many ways; a total heat whore, a horrid cat pee machine, a constantly underfoot menace. She is also a part of our family and without her at home the house feels not quite right. Something very important is missing. When Steve is away she is my shadow, trailing me through the house, sleeping beside me, reassuring me that the house is safe and all is well. I am off all day tomorrow for Veteran’s Day and serendipitously this is most likely the day she will either be on her way home or that I will need to say goodbye. Steve won’t be here to help me make any decisions or even to say his goodbyes if things go south, but in many ways this is exactly the way it should be. My roommates and I got Reese my senior year of college for mice. She was the only cat in the Greater Boston area to be found during the great September First Boston Move. She was spunky even then, having developed a rep with the staff for scratching and biting – “she’ll be an under the bed cat, you’ll never see her.” It could not have been further from the truth. She never left my side during the most traumatic/dramatic break up of my life. She moved with me to my first real apartment post college, into Steve’s life when we moved together to Cleveland Circle, out to the burbs, to CT, to our first house. She watched my belly grow, avoided the constant chirping of a newborn, and is now that toddler’s treasured pet… even if she avoids her most of the time.

She just can’t leave, not like this.

the big guy and the "baby jeez"

Halloween brought carved pumpkins, orange lights, spooky tombstones, and marked the beginning of the blow up lawn decoration season with pumpkins topped by cats and witches. When we went to get Caroline’s H1N1 vaccine we chided her into putting on her coat by telling her we were going out looking for pumpkins. Daddy did go out of his way to swing by some of the houses we knew would have them up and lit, but she was pretty upset that our pumpkin trip had turned into a trip to the doctor.

Each school night I turn down a street off my regular route just to go by the one house I know will always have their blow up pumpkin’s air pumping. With Halloween gone, so were all the pumpkins and did I have a sad little girl on my hands earlier this week when I told her that Halloween was over and the pumpkins were G-O-N-E. I had a hunch that the “special house” (as we have started calling it) would already be primed for Thanksgiving and they certainly did not disappoint. So family with the first blow up turkey in town – the car that stops in front of your house every night around 5:10 means you no harm, we’re just yelling “gobble, gobble” and laughing that the silly turkey is wearing a hat.

Of course with the onset of lawn turkeys comes the beginning of the Christmas insanity. On Disney this morning she was asking for “More Christmas” after watching a Disney “music video” (????) for an upcoming holiday special. More Christmas. I can barely wrap my head around the fact that it is November and the fact that not one calendar in my house has been flipped is testament to this fact. Another fact, we’ve already shifted into holiday mode with list writing and budget planning. With the exception of some stocking stuffers and her big item – we’re done shopping for Caroline. We’re getting pretty friendly with our UPS driver. I think it’s going to be a pretty exciting holiday season for Caroline. We can explain Santa to her and try to come up with a connection between him and the “baby Jeez.”

Now, if you ask Caroline if Santa is going to come to her house she will go ashen and shake her head no. Somehow it got into her head that he is coming to take her away… like another like girl I know who 30 years ago thought Peter Rabbit was up to the very same trick. The apple, it does not fall far.

girls night

A special treat- Tinkerbell snuggling just the girls post pancake supper

the one he calls the root of all evil

The little girl at school who annoys Caroline with her complete lack of personal space boundaries is the only remaining piece of the school drop off sadness. Most mornings I still get texts from Steve about how the tiny menace has now moved on from merely touching Caroline’s foot to completely encircling HIS arm in an awkward embrace while he tries to settle Caroline in. Sometimes she gets the hint and follows another child away, millimeters from his face, but most days she is all up in Caro’s biz and we are not sure how to proceed. The teachers continue to try to redirect, but her mere presence seems to set our daughter off.

I handled drop off this morning to make things easier for Steve who was commuting quite far to another regional office. I distracted her on the ride in with silly songs, discussion about her favorite Miss Katie, and questioning her recent declaration that one of the teachers had been sick and had to go to the doctor. She clung to me when we got to her classroom door, glanced around, and finally allowed me to put her down to take off her coat. “Jordan?” I had breathed a sigh of relief the moment we walked in. Jordan was nowhere to be found. “Nope, Jordan’s not here” and off she went practically skipping to the table to enjoy her third breakfast of the morning, happy as a freaking clam.

Steve was right. This little girl is a big issue. I am on the verge of asking her daycare for a huge favor; to step back our days from three to two during my leave. We decided long ago that we wanted to maintain as much of Caroline’s schedule as possible, while also taking into consideration that I will not be working and have absolutely no benefits for my leave. The one-day step back seems reasonable and we think they will agree since they will theoretically be gaining another paying infant come late April. So we’re feeling a bit trapped here. I don’t want to make a big stink and finger point at a two-year-old right before I ask them to help us out and make an exception, but we also cannot stand that this tiny person is causing Caroline so much anxiety.

We could ask them to move her to another room, but that doesn’t seem fair to Caroline. With so much change this fall and so much change on the horizon, I cannot imagine her starting over in a new room. We cannot exactly ask them to relocate Jordan either, though honestly we’d really like to. We want school to remain her little place to escape all the craziness of home when February rolls around. Part of me is hopeful that they might agree to the two day step down and somehow not have the space for her to return to her classroom for the third day when we add it back into her schedule come April. Perhaps they will just transition her to the preschool room at that point instead of splitting her days between rooms?

In happier news, I went through the three Macadamia name options with Caroline in the car this morning as part of Operation Distract and she can say all of them very clearly. One in particular was annunciated in such a cute way that I almost called Steve on the spot to tell him that we could stop the debate. Hearing her say it in that sweet way everyday to her baby brother would be so adorable. At this point, we’re still deadlocked.

Last time around I detailed all of Caroline’s fetal development milestones here on McCashew, something I have yet to do with Mac. He is measuring over 14 inches now and weighing in well over two pounds, like a head of cabbage. He’s blinking and has eyelashes that surely reach the moon like his father and sister’s. Babycenter made me smile with a reminder to put my feet up and relax until they also told me that I will likely gain an additional 11 pounds this trimester. That would put me right about where I was last time with Caroline in the weight gain department, which isn’t all together bad. I’m trying to stay healthy, eat right, be active – that’s the most important thing– not the number on the scale. Steve’s started doing some extra workouts at home after bedtime and I really should be taking advantage of that time to do more than check facebook or catch up on my twitterstream. Have you seen him lately? You might not recognize him he’s looking so svelte. We’ll be quite a spectacle at the wedding.

my little outline

This past Saturday was Caroline’s third Halloween and though I feared an all out participation refusal in even the most benign way, she willingly pulled on her cowgirl boots, stuck her Sheriff badge onto her flannel shirt, and at times even wore her hat. She’s quite a cattle hustler now.



We were lucky enough to have a brief trick or treat at Sean, Courtney & Dan’s house pre football game. I was sad that she might not have a chance to ring a doorbell and even if she didn’t really know she was missing out, I did. Thanks guys for being available!! Dan dressed up early too so we could see him in his ridiculously cute pumpkin attire. It’s really terrible that this kid is so unhappy.



The cowgirl morphed into a princess overnight and by the time Auntie C and Hokie arrived to Papa and Kiki’s house on Sunday carrying their amazing wedding invitations, she was dancing around in her flower girl dress and shoes. Their wedding is in 60 days! 6-0! Final preparations are underway and we’ll be heading up to the Boston area this weekend NOT for a football game, but for their wedding shower and Colleen’s Bachelorette. I can’t say anything more or risk ruining the surprise, but it is going to be wonderful.

Caroline and I had such a nice relaxing day together yesterday. The little diva got to do exactly what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. I even spoiled her by treating her to a movie in mommy and daddy’s bed. She loves those. She nestled right into me, forming her little body into a Mommy outline, turning around a few times during Tinkerbell to ask me where baby brother was. She’s looking for him in my belly now, lifting my shirt to take a peak. I grabbed a quick snooze during the movie. I’m more tired during the day now that I am regularly seeing 4 o’clock am on the clock. A normal person rolls over, glances at the clock and settles back into a deep sleep. A pregnant woman who just entered her third trimester (!!) rolls over, is instantly wide awake and spends the next 90 or so minutes staring at the ceiling willing herself back to sleep. I keep thinking it’s too soon for this, but I don’t think it is. I've actually gotten a lot of "mental work" completed thanks to this middle of the night wake up; figuring out the logistics of my task for the bachelorette, mentally arranging Caroline's big girl room furniture, coming up with holiday gift ideas. At least I am finding a way to make the time useful, but I'd really rather not know the answers to these questions.