It was a confusing weekend for Caroline. Our arrival at the beach sparked a mile wide smile, but the excitement vanished as we walked up the steps and down the walkway to spot our first glimpse of our favorite beach this year. We haven’t been to the beach since the early fall and the look on her face read clearly, “Why is that water so angry?”

She didn’t want to be put down at all inside and insisted on a guided tour of the house by Mommy. She seemed to “get it” a bit more when we went upstairs, but that only led to more confusion. Where was Kiki? Where was Papa? After some pizza and snuggling, it was off to bed in a room that must have seemed completely foreign to Caroline.

Saturday morning brought back some of her beach memories. She spotted the beach out the window and immediately started calling for Papa. He is without fail the one who gets her out to the beach first thing in the morning and it is difficult to discern which one of them is having more fun. A man walked by taking an early morning stroll on the sand and suddenly her calls for Papa became frantic, “Papa, come back!” It is going to be one heck of an awesome summer and being up there only makes us nostalgic for Massachusetts and builds that "let's move back here" feeling.

To make matters more confusing she was smothered with love and affection from Nana and Granda, visiting with us for the weekend and helping me score big at the consignment sale. She actually called my father Papa a few times, but since we have been home she has been looking at the photos from the weekend screaming “Granda.” We had a great time visiting with my parents, introducing Granda to the deliciously dangerous Dark and Stormy, eating lobster pie at the local watering hole, and sharing delirious soul lifting laughter with our moody two year old.

My parents recollection of my second year is of course the picture of perfection; never talking back, always obedient, sleeping from 7pm to 9am. Caroline may not be sleeping in or listening all the time, but I think we can all agree that she is amazing. We’ll keep her, 5:45 am wake up call and all.

There are over a hundred new photos up. These are my favorites along with this adorable video (the last shot is actually a video) Steve took on Saturday morning when I headed out for the sale. Speaking of, you can look for the deets on our amazing consignment score over at McDeals and $teals.

bathtime battle lines drawn

Checking in very briefly today to share a bit about last night's terrible bath experience. We have worked tirelessly to create a fun and engaging atmosphere for Caroline's bathtime. New distractions were purchased, all are utilized each and every time and the word "hair" has only been uttered a smattering of times. In all cases there was no hair present, just the realization that " I totally forgot I was having way too much fun with these bubbles to even remember that I hate the tub and use hair as an excuse. Oops. umm, oh yeah, HAIR!"

Things came to a head last night. These toddlers, they get you coming and going. We've been caught in this place - is there a real fear we need to address or is this something we can brush off with distraction or worse is this her realizing she is in control of bathtime. Steve and I took bathtime back last night.

No sooner than she was ankle deep in the warm inviting sudsy tub did Caroline start howling that she was all done ordering us to "take me out!" Steve looked over and we simultaneously declared an end to this nonsense. Allie Curley warned us that she was testing us. Thanks Allie, it gave us permission to declare bathtime as a necessity and not a choice. We took control.

"You have a choice. You can enjoy your tub and play with your toys or you can cry and be miserable. You need to take a bath. You make the choice."

I kept repeating myself, washing her, trying not to react. Steve took the helm with towel and dressing duties while I cleaned up the bathroom and tried to take a breather. Sobbing, tears, and general acting out all through the hair drying. We brought her baby over to put her to bed with the rest of the bath toys and when I tried to help her put the baby's diaper on, she tossed the doll away from her, striking the all too familiar head on the floor crying routine.

I took her in my arms, kissed her forehead, told her that if she wanted to act like a baby she would be treated as one and put her directly to bed without a book or a song and even without a sweet dreams. I tossed the covers over her, closed the door and within 10 minutes there was sweet silence in the house.

I know this is normal, but even more important than that, I know that taking the bath back firmly is what had to be done. Steve and I, we make a pretty good tag team.

real piggies

Caroline decided that she didn't want to nap at school yesterday. Her mood throughout the evening made her fatigue quite obvious. She walked herself over to time out several times to calm down. She went to bed about thirty minutes early but was up until almost nine alternating between playing and whining in her crib. This morning at just after 6AM I was awoken by calls of "mommy!" at an impossible to ignore volume. The level of neediness intensified with each eye squeezing silent prayer that she would settle back down. So I've been up since 6, though I did somehow convince her to come lie in bed with me to snuggle for a bit and we lasted this way cartoon free until about 6:30.

Three separate people stopped Steve at drop off this morning to tell him that they cannot believe how much Caroline has grown recently. There is evidence of this sudden growth spurt all around us. She expertly spoons Rice Krispies into her mouth, pushing the strays that stuck on her top lip in with the back of her hand. When I get out of bed in the morning she hands me either my slipper socks or my hooded zip up because she knows I am not going anywhere until my continued warmth is assured. At night it is a challenge to read her a book, she just wants to "read" them to us. Her pig tails now resemble honest to goodness little girl pig tails not just odd antenna sticking out of her head in a "well, at least I tried" kind of way. She can pull out a favorite amusement that used to require our assistance to open. She even recently turned her back on the mouse movie "tooey" and now insists on the Lion (Lion King). We still skip the terrible still makes me cry at age 30 scene in the canyon, but my mind races to determine when we might be able to take her NYC to see the live show on Broadway. For me it isn't when will she appreciate it enough, I think it would be worth any amount of money to share that with her. No, it's nothing rational, just that I am just not ready to handle an upset toddler when Mufasa dies. Caroline really is getting big.

This weekend I am seeking out size 2T (2T!!!) clothing for my little girl at the consignment sale I talked up over on McDeals and $teals. Last night I took out the box of clothes that holds all the items I have thus far gathered for the summer and took inventory of the nine dresses I have already purchased. I don't think I am allowed to buy dresses. My mother will be meeting me at the sale and together with my "what we need" list in hand or on iPhone we will hopefully find all that she needs and probably more. I feel fortunate to have my seasoned sales shopper mother by my side this weekend. Is it terrible to admit that my box holds so few things for fall and winter of next year that I nearly had a mini panic attack imagining that in a few weeks the box of "next seasons" will be nearly empty?

hair today, gone tomorrow

Caroline has been handing me hair she finds around the house. Hair from the blanket. Hair from her pants. Hair from my shirt. We have a cat. I have longish hair. Heck, she herself has longish hair. No matter how often I clean, now matter how spotless the house is, she is going to find it. My new approach when she finds are errant hair is to make light of it and throw it away acting as if it is the smallest no nonsense thing. So far that seems to be working. I know, I know, but what about the bath????

Saturday night bathnight went so swimmingly well that Auntie k may have thought that we made the whole thing up. Sure Mommy did have to once again pony up with the two-piece for bathtime, but as soon as I convinced her to come play with me she had such a great time. She blew bubbles with the George bubble bath, gave her baby a good scrub down, and even colored on the wall with the bath crayons, but really the bubbles were the stars. She did not want to get out. Let me say it again for emphasis. She did not want to get out.

Last night we decided she smelled just enough to warrant a tub and she went up the stairs willingly and without incident. She playfully leapt into Steve’s arms, something she hasn’t really enjoyed since the bath issues began. It is adorable. Steve sits on the steps just outside her door and she scampers over to some very specific space in her room where she steadies herself, says “GO!” and races across the room and off the step into his arms. I skipped the bathing suit, bubbles seemed to be enough motivation. We washed her baby, washed her, blew lots of bubbles and things seemed to be going so unbelievably well until suddenly she remembered the hair and freaked. It was almost as if she had completely forgotten about the whole issue and had this kind of “hey, wait a minute, I hate baths” moment. So out she came and the lesson we learned is that short and sweet is better than happens only through tears.

I do think that she is giving me a hair complex at this point. Whenever I find one, whether she is there or not, I am so quick to remove and hide them from her that I am becoming a bit hair phobic myself. Can phobias such as this be spread and if so does it mean that I also will be lavished with attention and bubbles every 3 days???

agent p

Caroline is back at school today with a verbal warning to Sara and Michelle about the recent issues we have been experiencing related to her “plumbing.” It’s the nicest way I can say it.

Steve and I realized early Saturday morning that something was not quite right with Caroline. She wasn’t hungry, not even for fishies during errands, and I knew it was time for raisins and juice and to cut out the dairy, which was of course the only thing she was interested in eating. Agent P did not make his very regular appearance. Sunday brought googling and time spent on WebMD where we were faced with revisiting the dulcolax episode or finding another way around the situation. I ventured out solo to investigate options and came home with watermelon flavored saline laxative tabs. I also purchased the Dulcolax, but we might as well put that under glass with a “for emergency use only” sign etched in. I fibbed and told her it was a vitamin and she liked it so much she asked for “more, please.” She got a second one after her nap and it worked miracles, but I cannot imagine how the diaper contents actually came from her body. It was bad. I held her telling her “sorry, honey” and our little parrot parroted it right back to me, which only made the whole situation even sadder. I’d like to report that this is all behind us, but I can’t do that. Yesterday yielded only wet diapers and “I didn’t”s when questioned about the whereabouts of Agent P.

Agent P aside, we had a lovely weekend. Caroline and I spent the morning with Erica and Zach on Friday. I cannot imagine that all the spring babies are turning one in a matter of weeks! After our errands on Saturday Auntie k drove down for a special overnight visit that absolutely made Caroline’s weekend. She woke up from her nap on Sunday afternoon asking “where Auntie go?” Mommy and Caro hit up the library on Monday which she told Steve all about when he got home, “sing songs!”

I realized this morning that this weekend was our last one at home for quite some time. We have lots of exciting things happening, many wonderful celebrations. Spring will slide into Summer and time will start moving fast and furious. We will be at the beach before we know it – or at least I tell myself this to keep from going insane when faced with yet another teasing artic day. While the weather makes up its mind, I will focus on locating Agent P and demanding some regularity.

lazy sunday

"I love you kitty"

we're not just parents, we're bath enthusiasts

Combine a mommy who is far from ready to be wearing a two-piece, a bath baby doll, Curious George bubbles, and a bee shaped bubble blower and you have a very successful tub! Our hair-fearing girl did not mention it even once. Not. Even. Once.

There were happy smiles and high-pitched excited voices as we stripped her down in her bedroom trying desperately to mask the anxiety I am certain both Steve and I were feeling. We knew the onus was on us to sell her on the bath and you have never seen two parents more excited to participate in bathtime.

Caroline was a bit hesitant to hop in, but happily tossed the baby into the water headfirst. She allowed me to place her earplugs with no fussing, but scrunched up to Steve when he suggested she might get in to help her baby get clean. Mommy arrived moments later in her bathing suit and I made a big deal about how excited I was to get in the tub, how warm it was and how fun the bubbles were. No sooner than I was sitting down, Caroline practically jumped in with me and though it did take some coaxing and Daddy blowing special bubbles she eventually sat down. We cleaned her baby’s head with soap and a washcloth and she was borderline having fun, until it came time to wash her hair. Her reaction to the water pouring over her head (which has never previously bothered her one tiny bit) makes me think that perhaps the water in the eyes portion of the bath is part of the problem. I already have solutions lined up for that issue, but let’s focus on the fact that we got through a short bath.

As soon as that soap was in her hair she was asking to be all done and we rinsed her as quickly as we could to get her out, with smiles and laughter filling the air. I was unprepared for her to be so attached to the baby so quickly. She was greatly distressed that the baby was still in the water with Mommy and Mommy was equally distressed that the only way to squeeze the water out of the doll resembled the doll using the bath as a potty. That is something I would like to avoid her taking note of if possible. I hastily tugged a hand towel from the door to become the doll’s towel and she clung on to her all through getting dressed, getting her hair blown dry, and while I sat there running the hairdryer back and forth between her and her baby I began to think oh, crap. How am I ever going to take this doll from her so she can remain the bath toy/bait? For people who know her, you know there is nothing she loves more than putting someone to sleep and so we put her baby to sleep, facedown of course, in the bath toy basket and she kissed her goodnight before trotting off towards the stairs.

She decided she would read to us and shocked Steve by knowing the first few pages of Goodnight Moon. It was as if the terrible bath episode had never happened. She was just like always; teasing Steve by pretending she wants him to take her upstairs only to leap back onto my chest, asking me to sing “do, re, me,” and smiling the biggest smile when I told her that she would get to see her Granda tonight for a special dinner.

The battle is far from over, but we’ve certainly made up some ground against the wicked hair.

Speaking of Granda, he is solo while my mother enjoys a vacation with her girlfriends in Florida. We are meeting him "in the middle" tonight for that dinner at PF Changs and yes, I made a reservation this time.

less bath, more soap

Let’s put the hair panic on the back burner for today. Not to worry; I am sure that after our planned bath tonight there will be plenty to talk about tomorrow. Mommy and Caro took a trip to Target last night in search of fun bath time activities and came home with bubbles, Curious George bubble bath, a bubble blower, bath crayons and because I couldn’t resist, a bath appropriate baby doll. She is already quite taken with the baby, stopping in the hallway this morning to point it out and jumping up and down with excitement that she was allowed to play with it in bed while I got dressed. Baby is apparently a girl and her name is Baby Dear. Tonight I’ll hop into a swimsuit for a bubble bath with Caroline and little Baby Dear.

How about we talk about my little parrot instead? Having Steve back has reminded me that as much as my toddler is talking a LOT these days, most of what she says still needs to be filtered through an interpreter to make sense. I don’t want to diminish her amazing speech because it really has taken off at an alarming rate since her tubes in January. I got the “I’m not sure I believe you look” from the pediatrician when she asked for an example of a phrase Caroline is saying. (“No Kitty, get down.”) Good thing I kept it to myself that she spontaneously ABC’s and 123’s up to 10. I often find her reading a book, a greeting card, or even a catalog to herself aloud. Granted the words are gobblety gook with an occasional identifier she sees on the page like “skir” (squirrel) tossed in, but wow! My daughter the reader! I am literally busting at the seams at the thought of real honest to goodness chapter books because… CHAPTER BOOKS!!! She’s no Wito, that’s for sure, but she is definitely amazing us with her knowledge of the world around her and her ability to express herself using words more often than whines.

When I pick her up from school each day we seem to have the same conversation.

“you went potty???”
“Yeah!!!! Wash hands. Soap!!!”

Everyday. Now I should explain that she sits on the potty with the rest of the group I refer to as the Potty Posse – those old enough in her room to be working on potty training. Potty time is the posse sitting together on the tiny adorable kid sized real toilets in the bathroom giggling together, but still sitting on a potty nonetheless. Without a doubt she is more excited about the hand washing and in particular the use of soap than anything potty related. Try as I might to fit in praise and high fives for the potty sitting, she skirts right past potty to soap in a flash before I can even raise my hand or utter anything prideful. Caroline, lover of all things clean and tidy.

tears for fears

Caroline and I had a delightful weekend visiting with Tasha and her family, experiencing an amazing children’s museum for kids aged seven and under, and catching up with TJ. I was quite thankful that Caroline decided to sleep in on Sunday, though it did mean we weren’t up in time to make it to little Julia’s first birthday bash. As the morning went on it was clear that Caroline really needed a day at home. We played outside, we went for a lovely walk, and snuggled with the Mouse.

On Friday morning as I was trying to get us both ready for the ride to Philly, Caroline got my shower ready for me by spraying the “magic no hair spray.” She decided she was coming in with me and threw her still pj’d leg over the edge of the tub to climb in with me. Fresh and clean we both headed south and I said a silent thank you that a shower with me that morning freed us from even considering a bath before bed that night. We skipped Saturday too as we were traveling back home in the evening hours. Sunday brought promise as she willingly stepped in and sat down to play in her tub. I was able to get her completely washed up and rinsed before she started shouting “Hair!!!” and clinging to me saying “out, please!” Again the reassurance and validation, the cuddles and many “it’s ok, Mommy is here. You are okay.”

With Daddy home on Monday night we launched back into our old routine and the second the tub was mentioned she shrank down to the floor panic stricken “no, hair.”

Tears for Fears. Shout. Shout.

We got her washed up, but she was completely unimpressed with our attempts to comfort her. Later when I tried to talk with her about what was wrong she could not and would not verbalize it. The hair issue has grown to now include the step stool in the bathroom. If she picks up a stray hair on her feetie pjs it goes with her onto the stool and you can imagine how well that goes over. So now she refuses to stand on the stool as well. Awesome.

Yesterday morning I did a crazy whole house thorough vacuum, complete with attachment use, spanning every room and surface of the house. Despite my very best efforts, I realize I will continue to shed hair and I feel like I am fighting a losing battle. The bathroom is a tough place to manage the hair shedding. We are desperately trying to get a handle on this. After speaking with her teachers at school and many other parents we have a new plan to tackle this before it spreads any further.

I've been researching handheld vacuums. Any recs? We just need something simple for the bathroom tile and the the upstairs landing. And by simple I mean affordable.

We are working on creating novel bath experiences; bubble blowing, bath crayons, new tub toys, mirrors. Any personal favs?

Tonight we will start a new bedtime routine with a quick washcloth wash up, tooth brushing in the kitchen, books, and then bed. I will move the stool down to the kitchen later this week to try to reacclimate her to it in a new situation. It makes me nervous to change the routine seeing as how we have been doing the same thing for more than a year. How will she respond? It will be ok. It has to be ok.

Tub 2x/week. With a couple days between tub experiences she handled it better, so we’ll do it less often, with hopefully a better reaction. I hope it will become a treat, something she will look forward to. Thanks to the parents who have let me know that it is ok and actually better for their skin to limit the bathing in the winter. It really helped to hear that.

One of my coworkers suggested that I get a doll and let her be "aggressive towards it" cutting its hair to show her it doesn't hurt. Um, WAhhhh? Seriously, you have a master's in counseling? Seriously?? Teach a two year old to be aggressive towards a doll? Cut its hair? Seriously??

"reduce, reuse, re-diculous"

I surely must have shared at some point that our neighbors don’t recycle? I only discovered this by asking him one Thursday night as we dragged the barrels to the curb if it was “Recycle Night.” His retort was a feisty “oh we don’t do that expletive.” Mine was an emphatic “you don’t recycle???” Mrs. Sucktacular was obviously outside, as one would have to be when they see two neighbors close enough to perhaps maybe share dialogue. You can only observe so much from inside. She chuckled (and possibly snorted) loudly from across the street. I bored holes into the back of her head as she turned to catch up to her cat – which they only let outside supervised, standing over it in the yard like an impatient dog owner waiting for their pooch to “go already.”

This statement has stayed with me. Recycling has become a really important part of the McCashews day to day. We keep a big bin right in the kitchen for all the recyclables and even Steve is getting better about using it. He can always be counted on for soda cans and beer bottles, but lately I have noticed that he will rinse a soup can for me or put a yogurt cup in there. There was a time that we did not have a recycling pick-up and during that time I am very ashamed to share that we did not recycle at all. Not a pop can, not a beer bottle, not a thing. It was “too hard.” With a biweekly pick-up we now recycle milk bottles, toothbrushes, magazines (and trust me we get plenty), little tiny yogurt cups, condiment containers from take-out. I even started separating the deposit recycling from the regular recycling because it always makes me feel strange to have the can man come by and rustle through my stash. Neighborling from next door of the non-recycling variety once came to my door to inform me that a man had taken things from my trash. That was when I told her about recycling and she told me her father said it was the devil’s work. (I AM kidding, but it is not so far fetched.)

I really like recycling. I know it is a strange thing to like, but I really enjoy it. It makes me feel good. I know I am late on this and some of you reading are saying, "HELLO, I stopped using paper towels ten years ago and I collect rain water for garden use." Allow me to be a little late to the eco party. Better late than never.

I especially like that my daughter knows what things go into the garbage and what things go into the bin. I really enjoy when she helps me sort it for the pick-up and wants her own cloth to wipe the sticky soda scum. I look forward to her being able to raise her hand in science class when the teacher asks whose family recycles. Yet, I still question whether or not I would keep up at this pace if the service did not literally drive itself by my door. At this point, I would have to hope that it has become such a part of our daily life that I would actually drive it in, sort through it all painstakingly myself if need be, and I would bring my daughter along for the ride to see the piles and piles of recycled items not taking up spaces in landfills. I hope I would.

I look next door and think that our recycling is not even coming close to making up for the four full bins of trash that Neighbor Loon puts out each week. That makes me sad, like we can’t get ahead. I am on an eco-kick – aren’t we all these days? I think it is part fear, part regret, and part hope.

I fear for the future if we don’t make changes.
I regret that it has taken until now for me to take it seriously coupled with the guilt that accompanies using disposable diapers which is both heavy and deep.
I have hope that these small changes will lead to bigger changes and that by setting this precedent for Caroline, I might alter the next generation’s viewpoint.

With spring in the air I am already writing a new to do list; fixing that scary falling down fence, repairing that pipe that burst, and expanding last year's container garden. This year I have other plans too. I want to start a compost pile. Lord knows with the toddler there are plenty of table scraps going to waste. I would also like to add a very small vegetable garden to our yard. Caroline would enjoy tending it, trampling it and possibly even eating from it. Small steps. I cannot wait to hear what looney toons neighbor has to say about all this, but I am sure both I and Mrs. Suck will get an earful.


While Steve is off gallivanting with Marc and Company in New Orleans, Caroline and I are taking advantage of the weekend to visit Tasha and her family in Philly. I am a terrible keeper in toucher – just the absolute worst – but I suppose admitting this in no way excuses my ineptness in this area. To our credit, we have been working at seeing more of one another. The kids have thrown a wrench or two in along the way, but if anything I think TJ and Caroline have increased our commitment to seeing one another. I want desperately for my daughter to love Tasha, to flirt outlandishly with Tony, and to be a sweet friend to little TJ. Our visit won’t be nearly long enough to equal the space I always reserve in my heart for her, but we have that wonderful relationship that always seems to pick up immediately where it last let off. The ease of these visits stems from the speed at which we are able to fall into fits of laughter reminiscing about days gone by and dishing about the latest celebrity gossip.

This visit marks the first that we will be able to engage in kid-friendly activities together and Tasha did not miss a beat in organizing some spectacularness. On the docket; a stroller walk, cookie baking, sushi, and a really amazing children’s museum. Truth be told, I cannot wait to smush her little boy’s cheeks and just snuggle him. He will be one in a matter of weeks. ONE! Tasha and Tony are simply amazing parents and it will be such a treat to see them in action. I am most looking forward to our usual couple of cocktails which always result in engaging, sometimes serious, but usually silly conversation.

I wish we could see each other more than the handful of times a year we are able to schedule. I know it won’t get any easier as time goes by. The kids will get older. There will be soccer games and other enrichment activities to work around. The distance between us will not mysteriously shrink (though I would be quite content to live in the same town and meet for lunch at least once a week). Our lives will continue to become more rushed and chaotic. Time will slip by faster and faster. The girl I met in 1992 has become the woman, the wife, the mother and the friend that I still adore in 2009.

I wrote this for Tasha as part of her 30th birthday present from her mother. I hope she won’t mind me sharing it here. I am so, so looking forward to the next 24+hours.

Tasha Haiku

Light of love and life

Friend, sister, mother, fighter

Dancer through life spins

It’s been years since we shared snarky secretisms between us and snickered behind our hands writing long notes in code only we could understand. It’s been years since I greeted you each morning with a smile and hug. It’s been years since I watched as the most magnificent bride walked down the aisle to an adoring partner. It’s been months since you welcomed your sweet baby boy into the fold of your life and we started a new sacred bond of shared motherhood. It’s been weeks since I saw your smiling eyes and felt your spirit next to me. It’s been days since I looked up at the clouds and wondered if you were out for a walk on this fine day with your son. It’s been hours since I smiled at your email reply. It’s been moments since I thought of you, always in my heart, always with me, urging me on, reminding me how strong I am, and smiled at the very thought of your presence in my life.

Happy 30th birthday to the bravest, most spirited, generous, soul sister

Love, Kerri

"where's Caroline???"

Caroline has found a new use for her kitchen. There is a small space next to the wall that is just the right size for a toddler hide out. She slides herself back there and attempts to open the cabinets of her kitchen so that they completely seal her into the little hiding nook. I often help her get both the upper and lower cabinets into perfect hiding position. Thus begins a frequent and favorite pastime, “Where’s Caroline?” I often go so far as to search the real cabinet adjacent to her spot, calling her name, wondering aloud “where that little girl could possibly be?” The game NEVER gets old.

Toddlers love to hide, but why do they think we really don’t know where they are? As I go through my script calling her name, scratching my head, I am often thinking, “really? Really? You don’t think I know where you are? I JUST helped you get back there two seconds ago? When you got your finger stuck between the cabinets, I am the one who just moments before this kissed your boo boo, all while you were already standing back there.” When we were visiting with Sean and Courtney recently she hid behind a plant, snickering and grinning from ear to ear while we all pretended not to know where she was. Seriously? A plant?

When does the if I can see you, you can see me lightbulb go off?

It isn’t that I don’t like playing this game. I do. It often affords me time to prepare or clean up from dinner, but HOW is this game fun for her?? I’ll have to remember to link back to this post when we move onto more sophisticated hide and seek and my refrain changes to “how the heck did you fit in here?” Didn’t every kid try to hide in the dryer at least once?

your hair update

Though I would not call the bath tonight a resounding success, it was much better. We prepped her by dancing like mad women and then snuggling to Lullabye. She raced up the stairs and into the bathroom before we could even catch up to her. She was completely fine throughout the disrobing and pj picking out process. At the first mention of the tub she caved in on herself and smushed up against Steve's shoulder. Mommy announced that there was "no hair allowed!" and Caroline even joined in "no hair allow!" We sprayed some "anti hair spray" into the tub (thanks for that suggestion C3s!) and she even let us put in her plugs. As soon as the water started she got increasingly nervous despite hair hiding bubbles (thanks for that one Emily V). We convinced her to put some toys into the tub, but that was where she drew the virtual line. We placed her into the bath upset, crying, clinging for dear life. I stood over her rubbing her back reassuring her that it would be ok, but she would not let me go. So long as I was holding onto her she was ok, so I suggested that I get into the tub too. I have no idea where that came from, but it worked. I sat there on the side of the tub with my feet in the water and as soon as I was "in there" with her she was fine. She even played for a few moments before she suddenly realized she had been duped. It was long enough to get her clean and when it was all over and she was safely in Steve's arms, completely tear free, we high-fived and praised her amazing bravery. "I brave!" The praise continued all through getting dressed and when she ended up back in the powder room for tooth brushing she wanted to peek in the shower for the hair, but only for a second. She seemed satisfied that all was well and I high-fived her again, covering her neck with kisses.

A small victory, but we'll take it.

Here are some photos (Auntie's, Steve's and mine) and a really amazing video of our recent trip to Portland. It was amazing. If you get the chance or a family member moves out there for 3 months - make the time to go.


From Portland

it wasn't a monster that scared her

Just like any other work day, I scurried from desk to car to pick up Caroline from school. She greeted me happily at the little half door, her hair pulled back into a cute side ponytail. She and Julianna gathered her coat and bag together while their teacher passed along the grave news; there had been no nap. My eyes widened, my jaw slackened, and I swallowed my gut reaction in exchange for “oh, no.”

Nevermind I thought to myself, just get her home and fed. My mind raced with reasons WHY she might have skipped it, pausing briefly on “she’s giving it up” before pushing that crazy thought out of my head in favor of relishing her excitement in seeing Daddy at home.

“Caroline, are you excited to see Daddy?”
“Is he going to be home when we get there?”
“No, not yet.” (but he was!!)

Joy of joys Daddy was home and I was able to change my clothes and get dinner ready while he entertained her. She had missed him, but she was exhausted.

At seven we moved the party upstairs for bathtime after she had nearly fallen asleep to Shrek. That was when she got very upset. A brief recent history of bathtime…

Saturday – Caroline is startled and panicked to discover a hair (belonging to me no doubt) floating in her bath water. Hysteria commenced, immediate removal from tub, washing hair in sink is necessary. Sorry Aunties.

Sunday – Very unhappy about it. Daddy thought the water was too cold (but we know better now).

Monday – Solo Mom unable to convince her to climb in, practically crawling soaking wet into my arms. I tried to make it nice and steamy to combat the phlegm factor from Sunday night and I thought perhaps the water was too warm for her (but we know better now).

Tuesday – Screaming, crying, awful. I finally with Steve’s help got her sitting in the tub, washed her hair, rinsed her. I rubbed her back while trying to calm her, reassuring her that she was ok. The calmer my tone, the more even her breathing, but she was still begging "uppy!"

We got her up and out pretty quickly and into Steve’s waiting arms. I knew what this was about and I decided to bust out the social work skillz. Steve got her into her onesie and I knelt on the floor in front of her at eye level to talk about what was bothering her. Happy day, there is two way communication nowadays and without prompting she was able to tell me that what had scared her was “hair.” Now, I have longish hair. I lose it at an alarming rate in the shower. Despite my best clean gene efforts, finding a hair in the tub is not a rarity. So we are going to need to nip this one in the bud asap. I validated Caroline’s concerns about the hair by telling her that I was sure it had really scared her. I tried to assure her that there won’t be anymore hair in the tub. I suggested that tonight I would help her go on “Hair Patrol” to be absolutely certain that there are no evil rogue hairs waiting to float in her bath water and reminded her that Mommy will be right there with her. She was calm after that, but I know better than to think that I solved this crisis in one short intervention.

The end of this story is crazy. We got her all zipped up into her pjs and I convinced her to sit with me to dry her hair. Mid hair dry – with the blower right next to her ear – she was OUT. Out for the night. Done.

So parents – how exactly can I help her move past this bizarre fear?

"Lizzz Lemmmon!"

Thanks to the cool mist humidifier the girls got a full night’s sleep. There was some yucky coughing around ten, which got me off the phone with Steve and up to bed in preparation for what could have been another long night. No sooner than I closed my eyes did I open them to the morning sun shining through the curtains. So Sleep Gods, I owe you one for the fairy dust.

“My soup!” With Steve away for much of the week I planned a few simple meals that hopefully won’t result in lots of leftovers. Last night I brought back last week’s popular grilled cheese with chowder and the little one was even more excited about it this time than last. She ate three servings, slurping, leaned over the bowl, saying “My Soup!” the whole dinner. Too bad that soup season is kind of ending now that spring is almost here, but what a good quick go to meal for her.

The photos are trickling down to us from the weekend. Seems like Caroline thinks she was the Belle of Auntie C’s ball. There was a nice dinner and evening while Auntie C was visiting from Portland and by all accounts she delighted in the guests and festivities. Nearly every person at the house told us how good Caroline was, how sweet she was, how much fun she had. It was a complete departure from the previous week’s behavior that made us want to pull our hair out and left her in a perpetual rotation with time out. The ebbs and flows of toddlerdom. This week an absolute peach, next week a soury lemon. Good thing I love lemons.

send fairy dust

We had a lovely little weekend despite the Northeastern loss to BC on Saturday night. Steve and I don’t do so well with the cheering for opposing team thing. We did get to spend some time with the Albennys and old friends Gwen & Dave AND of course spend a little QT with Auntie C (and Hokie) in town for the weekend from Portland. She'll be home before we know it! We finally got to meet Little Danny too who is just perfect, so sweet and content.

Caroline got to bed with very little issue last night allowing Steve ample time to pack himself for couple days away on business. All was well until about 1:30AM when we were awoken not by crying, but that terrible tell tale croupy cough. I scooped my little seal up into my arms and we headed directly for the shower where she breathed in steamy air for as long as we both could stand it/when her hair turned into one big steam induced curl. She was warm, too warm, but refused to strip down to her onesie. Further investigation revealed a low grade fever of 100.3. Motrin, some cuddles, and then Noggin. She snuggled in our bed, watching Little Bear, coughing every now and then. She seemed settled, but I drew the line at 4:30 when her body seemed to finally be cool to the touch, her mood improved, and the cough vanished. Our get well snuggle fest had become playtime and the adults in the room (particularly the one who needed to be awake and on the road in less than 2 hours) has had more than enough. So off to her crib she went with a kiss and hug and just a few short crying minutes later all was quiet in the house.

She slept until about 8:30 this morning, which I was incredibly thankful for, and you wouldn’t know that she was sick and up most of the night last night by how she has been today.Crazy how that happens isn't it?

Just when we think we have this parenting thing licked. The bigger issue is that it is now after 1pm and she is still awake talking with Abby and George in her crib far, far away from a nap. The biggest issue is that I am solo tonight and the later the nap is pushed out the worse I fear my evening will be. Sleep Gods, please send sleep inducing fairy dust.

Young and old alike take note

Keeks has just discovered something amazing. Searching for more space
for a large item in your fridge??? Simply remove a drawer and TADA!!

sometimes the good girls don't get lollipops

Caroline was seated on the counter when I picked her up earlier this week. Her eyes were sparkling and she was enjoying a lollipop. She smiled the biggest red toothed sticky faced grin. Just below her on the floor little Julianna was playing.

"Oh, you must have been a good girl today, you have a treat!"
Realizing that little Julianna did not have a treat...
"I am sure Julianna was a good girl today too..."
Raising eyebrows and pleading with the afternoon caregiver to please help me out of this one...

Caroline went right on laughing hysterically about her good fortune to have a lollipop while the caregiver, whose name is I swear Salamie, explained that they are not allowed to give little Julianna treats. Apparently her grandmother comes down to the center at snack time and over lunch to supervise Julianna's eating because she doesn't want her to gain weight.

Julianna is 2 and a half. Julianna is adorable. Julianna is NOT fat. Julianna's grandmother had better hope we never run into one another.


I am happy to report that things have settled down quite a bit on the home front, with the exception of this fabulous cold that seems to finally have caught up to my tired body. Emergen-C and Zicam be damned, this time nothing could fortify against the non-stop drippy nose. I slept most of the night Wednesday with a tissue hanging from my right nostril because every time I fell asleep without it, I woke almost immediately to sniff in the terrible gookiness. It was gross to the nth degree, but unfortunately necessary.

Caroline charmed me this morning asking for “bunnies.” Keeks, she loves those little bunnies. Steve checked emails at the breakfast table while the girls finished their cereal and smiled at the cute way she has of taking a heaping spoonful of cereal, judging that there is too much, knocking a few bunnies off and successfully negotiating the entire spoon into her mouth. We both had a “our kid is totally MENSA” moment last night during her reward for being such a good girl after school AND at dinner. We watched Ratatouille before bed. She loves the “Mouse Movie.” This is the part where I pretend you are also a Disney expert and you will nod your head furiously and then react with a forehead smack at her brilliance. When the rats expose the colony at the granny’s house and they all start making a run for it, Caroline yelled “book! book!” because she KNEW that little Remy had to race back into the house for the “Anyone Can Cook” book. I know, she’s totally going to skip third grade right?!?

Let’s go back to dinner. In the interest of getting well this week’s meals are of the comfort variety. Last night was grilled cheese with clam chowder. Delish. Caroline dipped her sandwich into her chowder and gobbled two helpings right up asking for “more soup!” I delight in watching her try new things, seeing her trying to copy what we do, nodding at us with wide eyes searching for approval.

Dinner tonight is halushki. We have NEVER had it before but looked up a simple recipe after seeing it on a Pittsburgh episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It is coincidentally the show that Sean and Steve envisioned creating, minus the alcohol. Here is the recipe. It looks easy and it is sure to satisfy both the cold and the Eastern European part of me.

1 med head of cabbage, sliced
1 onion, diced
½ stick of butter
1 8oz pkg broad egg noodles

Cook and drain the noodles
Boil the cabbage for 6 minutes
Brown the onion in the butter

Add the Cabbage and Noodles to the OnionsS/P to taste

No longer accepting bids

Parental guilt settles in fast and it settles deep doesn't it? One minute you can't imagine going home with your two-year-old to experience another night that slowly drives you insane. The next you feel pangs of regret that you spread her bad behavior so viciously around the web.

As Beth said, "welcome to the terrible twos," except my daughter doesn't/hasn't acted like this before. Sure, we have an occasional outburst, a head on the floor pouting session or two, but the non-stop whining that makes me feel like covering my ears and say "lalalalalalala" to block out the sound of the nails on chalkboard whining? Yeah. We haven't really had that.

So instead of leaving that post up at the top, let's just turn the figurative page on this, ok? I am far too proud to delete it; it's there, it's history, it's part of raising a toddler, and deleting it won't make the experience of last night go away. Right now I am headed out the door to pick my precious one up from school. I am not experiencing dread, not really anticipation, just a hope that tonight will be better than last night. Isn't that all that any of us can wish for? a better day than the last?

Daughter for sale, one crying and whining little daughter for sale

Spring is upon us, but last night when my head hit the pillow I raised my arms in celebration lost in thoughts about next fall. I entered a little contest on a website I frequent. The prize? A fancy battery operated HEATED Polartec fleece vest. I never thought the day would come that I would thank BC Football, but I think I am officially indebted. My comment about using this in the "wicked" cold at the games won me the vest. Next fall, I’ll be roasty toasty at even the frigid post Thanksgiving game! WooHoo! I will now try not to think of how amazing this vest would have been at the Bowl Game in Nashville.

Caroline. Seriously where is my daughter? My sweet, responsive, happy to oblige little girl? Since we arrived home there has been near constant tears, frumpy unhappy scowls when we ask her to do/or not to do just about anything, and a general sense of unhappiness. She even put herself into time out last night for the first time. We typically bring her over to her step, sit her down and tell her she is in timeout. Last night when I was ready to poke my eyes out with a toothpick as she reacted to yet another injustice, I commanded her to go to timeout and off she went, whining the whole way. She spent some of her day in time out yesterday at school too, which was unusual enough to be reported at the end of the day. Her crime – not listening and sassing. As we exited the building she refused to hold my hand, collapsing into a heap at the door causing an embarrassing traffic jam of parents and kids. I had to pull her up and into my arms where she squirmed and screamed bloody murder all the way to the car. In the car there was no movie as she had hoped there would be and that caused an all out sob fest. Sounds a lot like Alexander's No Good Very Bad Day doesn't it? I turned on the car, raised the volume to drown her out and took a deep breath. I spent the majority of the ride home calmly validating her sadness about the movie, reminding her that we need to hold hands for safety in the parking lot. At home there was more of the same, the details aren’t important, just understand this – I was ready to ship her off to wherever it is she came from in exchange for my real baby. It wasn’t all bad, there were a couple shining moments of affection and contentment, but even the absolute delight in rediscovering her kitchen and shopping cart gave way to the tears.

Time away from us may have caused some resentment or she may still be transitioning from days in MA to home, but SERIOUSLY, enough. This gig is NOT easy.

The Essence of OR

It’s challenging to attempt to capture the soul of the Pacific Northwest in a few paragraphs, but I am a girl who likes a challenge. We arrived in the evening, so our first glimpse of Portland was the bright skyline framed by the steel of the five bridges. We couldn’t see it very well that night, but the homes surrounding downtown Portland are built into the mountain, reminiscent of San Francisco.

I was struck by how NICE everyone was; their greetings were casual AND sincere. This tendency towards friendliness often slowed things down to a pace that my Bostonian spouse found hmmm, troubling? It was easy to see looking around the city why people were so nice; mild temps, a view of Mt. Hood’s snow-capped peak, hiking trails and the coast just a hop, skip away. It’s a good life out there.

Our trip to the wineries revealed more than just some tremendous Pinot grapes. The hustle bustle of the busy road gave way with just one turn to a sprawling view of green hills and valleys with majestic mountains in the distance. Driving the Columbia River Highway was simply astonishing. The views were sprawling, the winds fierce (enough that when we reached Vista House at Crown Point I begged Steve to stay in the car), and the waterfalls inspiring. Steve and I stood below Latourell Falls (less than half the height of Multnomah, but amazing nonetheless). The experience of being that close (we weren’t ALL that close, but CLOSE enough if you ask me!) and feeling the mist was the invigorating stuff that “happy to be alive!” is made of. Both that falls experience and the sight of Multonmah Falls with its impressing height and postcard perfect image will remain in my mind as a highlight of life. It was that incredible.

The sites, the smells, the pulse of Oregon is unlike anything I have or will likely experience again. Without Auntie C’s bravery to spend some time working out there we might not ever have seen these wonderful things, experienced this place, or gotten to spend that time with her one on one, which really was the best part. She’s amazing that Auntie C; smart, silly, sassy, with a bright future ahead of her. Thanks for this once in a lifetime C.

Of course the weekend away crossed paths with a late winter storm that threatened our departure from Portland back to the Boston area. The flight got off the ground without issue and landed on a darn near clear runway under falling snow in Boston ahead of schedule. I need one martyr moment at the mention of the flight; I am a Goddess among women to have taken the middle seat on both flights. Note to self for future cross country flights in rows of 3 – secure an aisle and window and hope that some poor sap doesn’t take the middle leaving you elbow room and the space to spread yourselves across the entire row. That way you won’t spit nails out of your eyes when your spouse complains that he is uncomfortable while you attempt in vain to claim back the space the very nice gentleman to the right is extending over the armrest he hoarded for the entire flight. He was writing gourmet recipes on his Macbook, things like "Chicken Liver Mousse" which led me to refer to him as "Emeril" in my head as I cursed his big coat and elbow invading 11E. Martyrdom over.

Kiki, Papa, and Auntie k reported that our little girl was a charmer, a good listener, a parrot & a good girl. We were thrilled to share her, but so happy to wake up to her voice calling “mommy” this morning. Until we realized it was before 6:30.

Back to grind.


Pit stop for more washer fluid. Caro's watching ratatoullie for the
second time on her snazzy DVD player. Home in ten.

Eleventy giilion emails

No sooner did we land when the email parade began. Lots for Steve
catch up on. A fine landing in BOS, despite the snow covered runway.
Cannot wait to see the bubba.

On the road again

Headed home. Hopefully as scheduled. Be well pacific northwest. Or as
the lady said this am at the coffee shop, have a righteous day!

Game time

So happy to be here. Enjoying the game and a root beer float!

Multnomah falls

So amazing...