official

He stands more than sits. He propels himself around furniture while we fret over the sharp corners. He throws himself off of things, onto to things, relishing the newness of it all. He walks more than crawls. He walks. Aside from feeling pretty crappy the last week, our boy is a walker. In days he'll be running. In a flash he'll be jumping, sliding, catching, swimming, making me fret every second of every single solitary day. It's amazing and terrifying and we are so proud of him. All of us, including his biggest fan, big sister Caroline.

peek a boo

Too cute not to post. 

The Magic of Christmas Morning

when you get the one thing you want most in the world

Sickmas Flip

The Night Before Xmas French Toast had been poured, the older one snug in her bed, the stockings were filled and under the tree, and a wee little elf was smiling at me. In my arms was a baby so warm and so sad, my Christmas wish for him to be better just wasn't being heard.



Sickmas Eve

Lo there was sickness. It was an incubus of plague. I heard from other parents that they had it far worse; the narovirus filling their holiday stockings with puke and poop and wouldn't you much prefer coal? I know we were spared far worse, but several days after the incubus of plague we are still getting back to normal.

Connor wasn't himself last Tuesday. I dropped him at school and warned the teachers that something was up. He spent three plus hours sleeping and then wanted to sit in his crib and watch the goings on from behind bars. He spiked a fever that night and spent the next day charming his grandparents down the street for the day while Steve and I tried to finish out the week.

His fever wouldn't go away, he was pulling on his ears, so we booked the last appointment of the night at the pedi; 7:45pm. I'll jog your memory here, it was snowing. The wind was howling. People were in a panic because they hadn't finished their shopping and SNOW!!!! Two baby's firsts that night; baby's first double ear infection and baby's first antibiotic. It was a sleepless night.

Connor was in bed with me by 11:00 and up more than down all the way until 6:00. Steve was off thank god and I somehow pulled myself together to get both Caroline and myself out and to work/school. Connor gave Steve the hardest parenting day of his life. His many texts included, "he won't sleep. I am putting him in his crib for 10 minutes so I can shower." Another terrible night.

A day off that included some family snuggle time in Mommy and Daddy's bed, three of four wearing nothing more than a robe. Mass. Tired Connor won't sleep. Our incubus of plague visits two houses before retiring for the evening, except not really. He was up 8 times in an hour and Mommy was on the brink of braving the Christmas Eve streets to bring him to the ER because the screams were so awful and so pained that I was sure he was missing a finger nail. Eventually I hypothesized that the one thing bringing him peace, the pacifier, was actually bringing not relief but incensing my poor boy who could not breathe through his nose. When I got him to sleep and removed the sacred paci, he slept for longer stretches of about 20 minutes until 7:30. He and I were were so sick we considered not heading West to my parents, but we made it, incubus of plague and all. I'm glad we did, but we spared the extendeds the introduction to the incubus. We're hopeful no one else gets to experience this bronchitis disaster of a mess as a direct result of contact with us.

It's been a trying time. You know that it has been particularly hard when you welcome the snow day not to relax or get things in order, but to get a teeny smidge better before heading back to work. He's fever free for two days and almost through his amoxicillin. I'd give anything to be done with my Mucinex.

Love

I love this ride. I love that I live here. I'm loving my job which takes me through here often. I love that we have family closeby to snuggle our poor feverish Connor. I love that my job is flexible enough for me to get out early for him. En route to a family amid flurries coping with too much for Xmas.

in one week

Christmas will be over. All the gifts will be opened. The kids will be playing with that extra special NEW TOY twinkle in their eyes. The wrapping will be gathered together for trash pickup. We all will have consumed approximately TOO many cookies. The holiday will be over. Hard to believe isn't it??

I tried to show restraint this year with my holiday shopping for the kids, focusing more on needs than wants, but what's Christmas without a little excess? There won't be any stairs to shield Caroline's view from her Christmasmorningpalooza and I wonder if we will be dragging ourselves with closed eyes toward the tree when she opens her bedroom door and realizes that "HE CAME!!" If we thought she got it last year I have no idea what this year will be like because this year - SHE GETS IT. I need to remember to take photos, to take video, to take a moment to sit with my husband and watch her rip through paper and shriek in excitement over everything. I think her father might be pretty excited about what Santa is bringing him too, but we'll have to wait and see.

Hope you're getting through those last minute holiday tasks. I'm trying hard to keep in mind that as hectic as this time of year is, it will be over and gone too quickly. We're over here trying to relish some holiday magic.

Photographic proof

Lap: sat on
Carols: sung
Extra Santa hug: smiled

Date night with daddy

(and uncle marc) bc vs pc

as promised

can't wait to see it on her wedding slideshow in a few decades.


another new tradition

Steve and I took Caroline to Spaghetti with Santa on Wednesday night. We left Connor at home in the capable hands of his grandparents and pushed through the whipping rain storm to eat pasta with the big guy in the red suit. It is a sweet idea that benefits our town's school music program and for $21 plus a few more for the all important Santa photo, raffle tickets, and cookies - it was a festive way to spend an evening with Caroline. We waited in line to get into the pasta portion of the event, only to decide that it would be better to forgo prime seat choice for a photo with Santa right off the bat. We signed in, chose a digital photo that we'll of course post here, and then WHAM, she saw him. She didn't run away, cower or hide her face... until I made the move to put her up on his lap and then she lost it. Poor Santa. I hate making them hold her hostage for the photo, but we did it. I held her hand and told her it would be ok and click click she was done. We ate our pasta, we listened to the student musicians, the chorus, and put in for some sweet raffle prizes.  The all important misery shot will be posted as soon as they forward it. Can't wait to see that one - oy. We're four for four in Santa fails.

She did collect a candy cane when Santa walked the room saying hello to everyone and since he had a treat in his hand, that little run in went surprisingly well. Photographic proof below. Please note the proper wooden spoon for the hoodsie! What happened to those???







looking glass

some highlights:









"Can we go back tomorrow Mommy?"

To which I replied, "well, no, but we can go next year and the year after and every year until you are 100." The Nutcracker was a sweet (har har) success! There was a tiny worry the night before about the Mouse King, but we assured her that he was pretend. She shared this with Granda when he asked her about him, "He's pretend" she told him matter of factly, not showing her fear.

She adored the unique to Boston dancing Bear in the party scene the most. She clapped her hands when everyone else clapped. She looked at me during the snow scene, "those are snowflakes." She pointed and spoke a bit to loud during the party scene, "there's Clara!"

For a girl who grew up dancing all those roles herself in our regional company's production, including Clara I might add (had to), there was something extra magical about taking my daughter to see this show. I glanced at her during the Second Act nestled between Nana and Kiki and I couldn't help the smile that appeared nor the glassy eyes that accompanied it. My little girl, watching the show that made me love dancing. My mother who spent hours of her life she will never get back waiting for me outside the rehearsal studio.

She spent her morning ride to daycare the next morning pouring over the program - "this is the Mouse King" "this is Clara!" and she couldn't wait to show Miss Melissa her t-shirt from Kiki with the Sugar Plum Fairy in a perfect arabesque.

File:Arabesque bio.jpg

It was a beautiful production and for a girl whose been in more performances than she has actually watched as an audience member it was hard not to imagine the costumes, the make up, the jitters, the post performance flowers, the joy that was being a child in The Nutcracker. I'd happily sit outside a rehearsal studio for hours for her to have that same gift.

At the end of the show during the Finale Kiki leaned in to say, "maybe the Mouse King will come back," the reply came quickly with a fierceness to it that is so perfectly Caroline, "No he is NOT!"

I doubt we have a future Mouse King, but perhaps a little polichinelle, or an angel, or even a little Clara. Special thanks to the ladies who were able to spend the afternoon with us enjoying a spectacular show with a special little lady. Let's do it again next year, and the year after and until we are 100.

what you've missed

Remember all that tough talk about how things were going to be amazing over here, yeah, I'll bet you feel pretty cheated don't you?  All that TIME I thought I was going to have - yeah, not so much when you fill a week off work with painting and organizing and doing all the things you haven't had time to do in three months. I am also still in the awkward orientation phase at my new job. I don't sit through the organization wide orientation until the week after next. I'm hoping to get my preceptor training finished this week. That's the wonderful dual visits with the person orienting me listening and judging my every word and every missed opportunity to explore my patient's experience deeper. They don't currently have a social worker in the location I am to be placed and the heat and pressure is on to get going already and trust me, I just want to launch. I certainly have a lot to learn, but so far, it is everything I remember it to be. Sure, the documentation is a bit stressful, but the work, the work is amazing.

I've been thinking about this space a lot. Each time Caroline says something that makes my heart burst into a million pieces or makes me laugh out loud, I think FACEBOOK, TWITTER, BLOG but I am either racing to work or trying to just enjoy the kids before bedtime. So you've missed out on Caroline seeing the sign for the Spaghetti with Santa event tomorrow night (that we are going to by the way!) and declaring, "Look, Santa with Meatballs!" You've also missed her explaining that she calls Connor "pizza boy" because she wants to eat him all up. You missed the boy's insane pre-walking antics which seriously are beyond terrifying. Tonight for fun he thought it would be awesome to climb up onto the first step, hold on the railing and smile his biggest smile all while his mother fretted and said, "Connor, no, NO Con!" I'm going to have my hands full aren't I?

Life has been SO wonderful these past couple weeks. I'm home in time to enjoy the kids, I don't feel like I am missing out. I'm meeting patients, or at least learning HOW to meet patients. I've been able to watch the kids play together and we have seen a huge transformation in Caroline's behavior thanks in part to the Responsibility Chart, part to Peter the Elf on the Shelf and part to her learning how to better manage the emotions and frustration of her brother's new found independence. She's purposely sharing, giving Connor toys to play with instead of just taking away what she doesn't want him to touch. I still open the top cabinet of her kitchen each night to find all the items she deemed "off limits" to him each day, but she has blossomed into an amazing big sister. I chuckle listening to her self talk about "circle time" for her fictional students, telling them that "today we have pots and pans out," warning them that they have "five more minutes before mats." It's endearing, it's sweet, it's amazing the progress we've made. In just two weeks time she has twice gotten all her smiles on her chart twice per week earning her a sweet little prize. Tonight however, without a nap, she earned just a single smile. Small setbacks. When we ask her at the end of the day if she "showed respect" or "stopped whining" she will say yes and no appropriately. Such a big girl. "Mommy, that car is just like Daddy's!" "Mommy can we go to school by Kiki's house?" "Momma, those animals are pretend" she tells me each morning as we pass the Nativity scene set up on the neighboring town's green.

And Con. He wants so badly to be like his sister. He watches her with wide eyes, picking up whatever she was just playing with a moment before, emulating her movements as best he can at 10 months old. I've witnessed him pulling himself up to the table where her coloring book sits open, eyeing it with purpose. I laughed as he stood at the easel banging a crayon against the paper, before helping him draw his first scribble. He's taken a few tentative steps to the waiting arms of an adoring fan, but he'd still prefer to do his wierd Curious George crawl (as coined by Miss Nancy at school). It's faster. The best news of all and UNIVERSE if you jinx me I will seriously come after you because after over a year of sleepless nights, Connor is finally FINALLY sleeping like a baby. I don't know if it his impeccable strict bedtime regimen or the sleep sack we nestled him in this week, but he has made TREMENDOUS progress. He's been waking up at 4 or 5 and settling back to sleep with us for the hour or two left in the night, which honest to GOD is such an improvement. It's not the best situation we know, but I swore he would eventually get it and last night he woke up for the very first time at 5:45AM. 5:45 AM. I say it again. He SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT, for only the third time in his short life.

I've got a Nutcracker post coming, but for now. There is your catch up. We're eagerly anticipating this amazing holiday season - with a complete family, in the house we will celebrate all our holidays, with new traditions and roots that seem well, firmly rooted.

Nutcracker Jitters

We are going to The Nutcracker tomorrow. There is lots of excitement and we got the DVD from Netflix for a refresher today. Suddenly at bedtime, "Mommy I need to bring my slippers to The Nutcracker." Why honey? "so I can throw it at the Mouse King." sigh. It might be a tough scene and I am hopeful we make it past it and to Act II. I know she will love it. I know she will, but I am still a tiny bit nervous about the all important battle scene. I cannot wait to share this with her.

the boy is nearly walking

Nearly! We put this in front of him today and OFF HE WENT, so proud, smiling chipmunk cheek to chipmunk cheek... and then he didn't know how to slow down... the clock is ticking - he's going to be a walker ANY MOMENT.



Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thankful for so so many things this year, too many to list really. This morning I am most thankful for matching flannel pjs, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the exuberance, recklessness, pure innocence of childhood.  It will never be better than it is now.




treacherous

That's what he is. He is into everything and anything and in particular the things he should NOT be into. I spent a solid five minutes with my curious boy tonight and a tin of cooking utensils. He kept pulling them all out, I kept putting them back in, and at one point I put them in WHILE he was removing wooden spoon after wooden spoon. He will not be deterred. If he gets it in his head that he is going to pull himself to standing at the play kitchen sink, he is going to pull himself up to standing at the kitchen sink. He's smart. He's figured out that when we tries to open a cabinet he can't stand directly in front of it, but rather to the side. We pulled out a bath mirror that sticks to the tile and after seeing me stick it up just once he went to town to stick it to the wall himself. I'll pull a shape from the "learning home" and he is right there grabbing it out of my hand and trying to plug it back into its spot.

Last night he took his first scary steps at Auntie Colleen's house. He knows it is easier to crawl (with his strange one leg to side move), but when we convinced him to stand up, strong and steady, he didn't just leap towards me, he stepped forward and fell hard on his knees. He did it. It's only a matter of time before he decides to put his mind to this new task with the same stubbornness and fortitude we see him apply to so many other things in his world. Steps. Ten months old and stepping.

week

I've been keeping busy this week. I said "see ya!" to the hospital last Friday and now, nearly a week later, I have been busy at home. I finally tackled those boxes, you know, the ones that... linger. What is IN those boxes anyway???

I put away the little piles of "stuff that has no home." I tackled the three bathrooms. I pulled out the vacuum. I washed the kitchen floor. I scrubbed the kitchen sink. I hung pictures on the walls. We needed this week. I had no idea we were still living in such an in between until I saw the house through the eyes of someone who had TIME. I barely stopped to eat lunch and even if my brain was all, "GET A COKE!" I kept going and going.

I've eaten the most wonderful turkey sandwiches all week with ranch dressing, cucumbers, and Flat Out bread. Have you had this Flat Out yet? You should. You REALLY should.

I just updated McCasa. More to come over there tomorrow with some updated kitchen photos. You WANT to see the update!

I was on the phone with the Association of Social Work Boards yesterday and I am OFFICIAL; LCSW REINSTATED! I notified my new employer and I could start as early as Monday, though they are unsure if they want me to start during a holiday week.

Tomorrow - getting some lights fixed on the car and baking PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES.

peter

Steve made it back from North Carolina after bedtime last night. The three of us who remained up here made it through without him, thanks to help from the aunties, Kiki and Papa.
Caroline just loves her new “playground.” She runs full speed at her swing and flies on her belly, “wwwwweeeeee!” It’s a move that’s left her landing on her head a few times, but oh to be 3 again! She sails down the slide on her knees, her belly, her tush – flying off the bottom a ball of giggles. Connor is happy to swing gently in his swing, the wind blowing his little tuft of hair, belly laughs aplenty if you pretend to let him “kick” you. We had so much fun outside on Saturday thanks to the mild weather. Pink noses and rosy cheeks – were the cheeks from the air or from smiling so big for so long? It’s hard to know.
I tried hard this weekend to give the kids as much of my individual attention as possible. Special Nutcracker cards with Caroline while Connor slept. Time with Connor while Caroline helped Auntie C and Hokie prepare for a get together. Things between the kids have been hot and cold lately. Connor always wants to be playing with his big sister OR with things that she considers hers. It seems like we are dealing with a bit of a delayed reaction to his arrival. She will be playing nicely with him one moment and the next she is holding him by his legs to prevent him from moving or touching something she doesn’t feel like sharing. I’ve discovered the farm fridge moved to the top half and out of his reach. I’ve watched her in utter frustration clapping her hands harshly at him or swatting him on top of his head. We’re having trouble coping with Connor’s newly found mobility and increased curiosity.
I stood not five feet away from her while she held him still by his legs. I asked her to please not touch her brother, “let him go.” “Ok, big boy.” PUSH. Flat onto his face, while Maggie simpsoning a paci and oh the screams. From me, my poor boy, and his frustrated sister. I got her into her room onto to discover he was bleeding from the mouth. Another kid with a torn frenum. I stopped the bleeding, Caroline said she was sorry, but the behavior was just out of control. She had actually slapped and bit me the night before, something she has never done before resulting in a 6:30 bedtime. I drew a figurative line in the sand and told her we were flipping the page, moving on, with new and improved behavior and don’t even think I was not taking full advantage of the season and playing the scary, “SANTA IS WATCHING” card.
We welcomed Peter, our Elf on a Shelf, yesterday and he made his first successful round trip to the North Pole and back last night to report on all the things and unfortunate behavior he saw yesterday. We also finally picked up the Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart – something that has been sitting in my Amazon cart for MONTHS – and picked our responsibilities out. She’ll get a prize for getting all her smiles in one day, but I’m not sure that is even attainable? I put a couple easy ones in there that she already does to encourage her to keep working hard. They are practically guaranteed smiles – “get ready for bed,” “say please and thank you,” and “put your toys away.” The hard ones are going to be “stop whining,” “show respect,” “keep your hands to yourself,” and “share.” I’m hoping Peter and her chart will help get her back on course. I’ve been trying to focus more the positives I see than the negatives – spotting the far and few between instances of good sharing, catching her being a good sister, praising her for the little things.
Steve’s back and that is sure to help. She always has trouble when he is away. After Connor went to sleep we read Peter’s story again together in a new living room chair, snuggled up with her blanket. I ran my fingers through her curls. I told her that I knew how hard it was to be a big sister. I was afterall Uncle Bubba’s big sister and that was a scream because she did not get that AT ALL. I told her that Daddy knew too because Auntie K and Auntie C were his little sisters! “NOOOO!” She couldn’t BELIEVE it. I tried to relate to her from our shared experience, even though I don’t remember being three. I layed in bed with her and told her that someday when Connor gets bigger they are going to be such good friends, that he’ll be able to play with her, that she might even want to play with HIS toys. I reminded her that having a brother is special gift and even though it is hard right now, it is going to get better and better, and she fell asleep sweetly and I closed my eyes and caught myself two songs later still laying beside her.

the beginning

It’s about to get interesting again. Not that I think it has been completely uninteresting around this place for a couple months or anything, but man, it’s going to be so much better. It’s hard to come up with a post at the end of a day when you arrive home just in time for a dinner that you feel guilty you haven’t prepared, to see an adorable baby already rubbing his tired eyes, to find an off the wall preschooler either giddy or an emotional wreck, to feel like you have aged 5 days instead of 1, to feel dread about the next day. Today is my last day of work at the hospital. TODAY IS MY LAST DAY OF WORK AT THE HOSPITAL. There are certainly people I will miss, but this was just not a good decision from day one. When you know on day one that the fit is wrong, you can be pretty sure that it is wrong. On a positive note, this position pushed me to take on my fear of the LCSW exam and because of my missteps I am now taking corrective action with my professional life. I’ve got a little time off between gigs thanks to the state being slow with getting my licensure paperwork to me. I’m sure I’ll get the house more settled and get some things out of the way during this time that I have been putting off. Perhaps I will be able to stop buying health and beauty items from Stop and Shop and get back to Target runs. Maybe I’ll hang all the artwork. Perhaps I’ll finally organize our bathroom. Maybe I’ll do the Christmas shopping. It is a much needed break I’ll tell you and in some ways this time is exactly what I need to recenter, decompress and move forward – stronger and better than before – with more posts – more laughs – just MORE.


Steve’s been a gem, taking on such enormous responsibility during the week with the kids and dinner and housework. It was good for us to experience this, but we are all so much better when mama has a more flexible life.

Our living room furniture was delivered this morning! There is a swing set being installed in the backyard! I spent four hours raking leaves yesterday afternoon – WHY? Because I am an idiot, an idiot who can barely walk today. Steve is away in NC for the BC/Duke game this weekend! We have a portrait party with Anelise on Sunday! Prepare yourselves, I’m back! Back here, back on twitter, just BACK to being me again.

concepts

She says things now that bring me pause. She says things that make me do a double take because when did my baby become such a big girl?


I’ve been flipping through the Toys R’ Us Toy Book with her trying to help her decide what she will write on her first ever list (!!) to Santa this year. She gets the concept of “wanting” something, pointing to things she likes, sometimes circling them in crayon. One night this weekend before bed we were flipping through again and she asked me “can we buy this?” So we have moved on from wanting to buying. I questioned her further, “what money will we use to buy it?” “Daddy’s money!” I cracked up, but I was oddly proud. She gets the concept, want, buy, money – we’ll work on letting her know that it isn’t JUST Daddy’s money.

Caroline’s a teacher. She sits on her rocking chair, holds a book in her lap and announces “it is time for circle, please come and sit down.” When she decides it is nap time, she places each baby and each stuffed animal face down on a “mat,” covers them with a blanket, rubs their backs. If one of them wakes up early she quietly reminds them “quiet, our friends are still sleeping.” The concept of pretend has been there for quite some time, but she only recently starting vocalizing it as such. “Mommy, let’s pretend…” I love pretend. Her imagination is rich and deep and I enjoy watching her creating this little world around herself.

She calls Connor Pizza Boy and I cannot for the life of me figure this one out. She’ll lean into him and say “Hiiii, pizza boy.” I don’t think there is a reason, but I’ll categorize the nickname as a positive thing – she likes him enough to give him one.

We finally made it to the playground at the school a stone’s throw away yesterday. It was the first time she had been there and she leaped out of her seat and ran like a crazed hopped up on sugar maniac towards the slide. The Caroline I once knew would have been skittish, she would have approached it slowly, she would have been totally thrown that there was another little boy there. She wanted to know his name, she wanted him to play with her, to chase her. She waited for him at the top of the slide so they could go down together, side by side, this total stranger and my girl. She had so much fun and when the sun started to go down and it was time to leave she asked to push the stroller instead of riding in it. I looked down at her with her goofy grin, the smattering of teeny freckles across her nose, the flushed cheeks of my big girl. My heart relaxed when she asked to hop into the stroller. She’s still my baby girl, if just for a while more.

it won't break us

It's been a week. Today I actually considered pushing my chair back from the computer and walking away forever. No goodbye, no see ya, just walking away, getting my coat, badging out and throwing the badge in the garbage on my way out the door. As the day wore on it became more and more apparent that this job was so NOT right and I am anxiously awaiting the new job on the horizon. I start on the 15th. We finally managed to get mail today, thanks to Kiki for getting to the post office to help figure the mess out. That's what happens when a senior and a junior share a house for 7 months. In that mail was a package with new employee hire information - detailing lots of things, some good - three weeks vacation and cell phone reimbursement, some ehh - one major and one minor holiday per year and one weekend per month. I'll take it. I'll take the freedom, the flexibility, the amazing privilege of being with families during a truly challenging time. I'm back in hospice. I'm going to be in two weeks of orirentation. By Christmas I'll be flexing my social work muscles. I'll be up to speed. I'll have figured out the documentation system. I'll have it down. Best Christmas present.

Tomorrow Steve and I are hitting the road to shop for lots of things for the house; toilet guts, lightbulbs, a twin blanket, rugs, living room furniture. You would think that the prospect of spending money would have me giddy because let's face it, I don't always have the full support of my partner in the spending department. Instead, I'm feeling a little bit of dread - so much money, such a big decision, and let's not forget that we don't exactly agree on things like this. We'll get there and I know it will be wonderful, but our styles and shopping styles are so very different. It will be good to reconnect with Steve. No kids for a few hours, what will we talk about? Probably the kids. I'm hopeful we can push past some of the tough stuff that's been happening the last few weeks. It's been a period of transition and it's been stressful on us as a couple, pushing us past our limits, straining the balance. A morning with a planned itinerary and a hit list of items to find is just what we need to regain some of the stuff we lost the last few weeks. It's exciting to get this place settled, but I know we will all be better when things have a place and the place feels more like home with less echo and more warmth.


I'm hoping to do a McCasa post this weekend too. You'll get your first glimpse of how we've been living, how far we've come and how far we have to go. It's exciting and truthfully, if a non-sleeping ball of sweet baby goodness did not break us, selecting a savings account friendly sofa certainly won't.

full circle

I took the train into the city this morning. It was the easiest way to get to Bunker Hill Community College to take that darn LCSW exam. I had taken it there 5 years ago, back when we were living in Natick, back when CT was ahead of us and not behind. Commuter to Orange to Community College. I was there by 10:30 with a noon time start time for the exam. I hooked myself up with a computer in the library, reviewed some more of the amazing flashcards I found on flashcard exchange. Kids these days, they have it sooo easy! I ate lunch, I watched the clock. I took a deep breath. I sat in the exam room for over 3 hours, checking, rechecking, flagging and unflagging 170 questions. My heart was beating through my chest when I hit submit and was subjected to the survey "ease of registration" "testing environment" before it finally, FINALLY, told me I had passed. I had passed, oh my freaking god, life could go on. I had not given my notice to have to grovel for my job back because I had failed, NO, I had passed! My printout reported that I had not just passed, I nailed that test - 137 of 150 scored questions correct. BETTER than five years ago - because I have been doing this for 5 years now. I walked outside into the crisp of fall and saw the Zakim Bridge, right there to the left, where a blank piece of sky had been 5 years ago. Things have changed, things have stayed the same, things have come around the carousel and this time - this time - it feels even better.

this and that

With the move and that darn social work exam I haven't had much time for taking NOR uploading of photos. I finally had some time tonight and in the words of auntie k - there are a few "framers" in the bunch.

10/30 - Boston College shocks Clemson Uni









and Halloween of course - "Buzz Buzz Lightyear to the rescue" and her friend The Alien were a hit with the new neighbors. With Auntie K's help we made the rounds and we highly recommend a Halloween move - it made it easy to meet everyone!






sweet

A pre-dawn wake up call from the littlest one made for groggy beginnings. We somehow convinced both kids to stay in bed with us until almost 6:30 and then it was a flurry of bottle prep and cold pop tart eating in front of the end of Imagination Movers. With Connor fed I elected myself the breakfast fetcher, tossed on some yoga pants, a sweatshirt, pulled my hair back into a lackluster pony and hit the road. I went back roads toward Dunkies and instead pulled into the charming bagel shop, ordered up two egg sandwiches and two hot drinks. The place was bustling at 7:15. Fathers and husbands balancing bags of bagels with coffee carriers. A little family with kids still in pjs, loveys in hand, pranced in. The were sweet, they were happy, they looked just like us. I did my own balancing act at the car door, looking around as I got in, wondering if this was really home, if this was really my life. All those months of living in the same town and it has never felt quite like this, because this was permanent, this was real. That little yuppie lilly white family just like us... yeah, screw diversity. Being here never felt so right. I meandered on my way, on my quest to find the quicker back way, wondering these things aloud and in my head, is this really my life? I slowed for a turkey to cross the road and then watched a deer bound across the road ahead, scanning the brush for it's partner. A deer is never alone is it? I slowed to crawl as I passed by her and her friend, they watched me quivering, unsure, and I smiled at their pure white tails as they gazelle leaped away toward some other backyard and hopefully out of harms way. I turned into our neighborhood just a stone's throw from the deer crossing, passed by the houses of the new neighbors' bells we'll ring tonight and pulled into our driveway - our never felt so right home.

etched

We went grocery shopping, just her and I, to fill a cart with things that would be in the cupboards of our new house. That first trip, the one that you aren’t sure what you have at home, the one where you need to buy jarred minced garlic and ketchup, it’s exciting – it’s expensive – it’s lonnngg. Halfway through the store my little scanner helper asked when we were going to the new house. I made the error in telling her that the groceries we were buying were going to the new house, that WE were going to the new house, that WE were going to stay the night in the new house and live there forever and ever and ever. My little helper went from scanner queen to “are we done yet, Mommy?”


We drove the back roads to the house, around twisty 20 mph curves and hills, and arrived there just us two. Steve had gone back to his parents to load the car up again to overflowing. My parents were on their way. Connor was sleeping at Kiki’s.

She bolted through the garage and up the stairs. The house smelled of new paint and a turning page. It smelled like promise and hope and sugared cookies. I got down on my knees in front of her, looked into her brilliant chocolate eyes, held her hands tightly and told her we were home. This was her home. It was all hers. It would always be there for her, just like I would. I told her to go and see her room, her own wonderful “Robin’s Nest” colored room.

I have a photo of her racing down the hall in my mind, I have the sound of her excited squeal of preschool joy etched on my heart. I have the wet memory of that solitary tear that rolled down my cheek and onto the wooden floor at my feet.

measure


Kerry got this sign for me this past Mother's Day. Could there be a more perfect statement to describe how we feel about the ""official" move tomorrow. I didn't know in May exactly where it might hang someday, but I knew it would be close to here. I never would have imagined it would be right around the corner, but it is, a white split level house a four minute ride away. This sign will find a new home somewhere where we can see it everyday and be reminded of its truth - to count among our many blessings that we are here. Home.

It's been a ride, feeling longer and windier at some times than others. There were some real lows when the house fell through, when there were no showings at the house, when it felt like we were caught in some neverending inbetween. Never once over the past 7 months did we feel that we had outworn our welcome. Not once did we feel that we had better sell or find a house soon because things never got even a tiny bit icy. Sure, we forced a lot of reality tv on Steve's parents, but we found joy in our evenings spent with them in their family room talking about the house in CT, countless potential houses to purchase, the kids, potential jobs, life.

If we had known in March that it would have taken this long to get ourselves out of one house and into another, I would do it all again so long as we could have still had the gracious offer of sharing Steve's parents' home for all these months. We never could have done it long distance and all of the other countless options we could have come up with cope through the transition just would not have created the positive day to day we were so fortunate to experience. There were always extra hands, someone to step in when we needed it. Getting used to life without all that help is going to be hard, but that is not the only thing we will miss.

Modern Family is funnier with four watchers than two. Having someone agree that my husband texts with Marc an obscene amount felt gratifying. I enjoyed having more than just one other adult to cook for, even if it did hit the sleds when I went back to work. I actually kept a list of "things I learned while living with my mother-in-law." I briefly considering putting that list in place of this post, but I don't think learning how to properly set the table can compete with the actual experience of sharing this space with two amazing, adoring, always ready to go above and beyond role models for life, love and parenthood.

Thanks for all the talks, for all the support, the positivity, the love for our babies, and for being right that it WOULD happen, that it WOULD all work itself out. We're planning a special dinner for them, but how can you ever thank anyone properly for this? I suspect they might feel properly "thanked" when I note that I would do the same for one or both of my children, that keeping family together not just in spirit but in geography is paramount, that 7 months is but a sliver of time in a lifetime, and that those 7 months while at time challenging are a gift in disguise, an opportunity.

Kiki has everything she needs in her kitchen to make a gourmet meal or a perfect batch of funfetti cupcakes. Everything save one small thing. I didn't buy the cadillac because I know she doesn't need it. She measures with her eye; a dash of this, a smidge of that. She puts together a meal sans recipe and tweaks it over time. I hope she'll consider it a part of her kitchen, if only just a reminder that while we could measure the time we spent here together, it would be impossible to quantify the memories, the joys, the enlightenment of this most special and cherished time together.

Eagles!

A beautiful day for football