you're it

My super sister-in-law Auntie C from Moments Pass Slow just tagged my little nut behind. I actually think this may be my first tag since I started this blogging thing. I'm not sure if that is sad or amazing or what, but nonetheless. TAGGED. See also - what a cute photo for her very own tagged post.Thanks Auntie C.

The Deets:

Go to the 8th folder in which you store your photos
Select the 8th photo
Post it to your blog and tell the story behind it.
After following the above instructions, you are ‘supposed’ to tag 8 other bloggers.

The Photo:























The Story:

Caroline's Third Birthday. A hastily organized event when her brother was just two weeks old. Note the "One Cute Birthday Girl" shirt her mother purchased in the event that the new addition arrived on her actual birthday, a fluke not far from possible when her day is 2/4 and his due date was 1/24 and especially so when she was born a week late and I felt fairly certain he would follow suit. Did you follow all that? Was that information EVEN necessary? So here she is, our 3 year old celebrating her birthday and enjoying one of her gifts. It's a Fisher Price Digital Camera (Nana and Granda were the "gift givers") and it takes pretty darn good photos that we can download to her very own Picasa site. One of my life goals is to start a blog with her photos because no joke, she takes some really good photos. She sets them up beautifully, she tells her subjects "one more!" In this shot she is looking at the view screen at one of her first ever digital images. In this family of camera fanatics one of the least surprising professions she could choose would be photographer.

Tagged:

My amazing hopefully soon to be ex neighbor =) Ann of The Grady Chronicles

The outspoken mama extraordinaire Aimee of Momma's Junebugs

My suddenly famous friend since "I do" and amazing photographer Brenna of Suburban Snapshots

Childhood neighbor and reconnection in adulthood Beth of Ted Beth Kate and Teddy

The warm and welcoming six degrees of separation Amanda of The Littlest Lobans

Social Work Guru and partner in crime Marybeth of City Girl Meets Country Boy x 2

Another "friend" since "I Do" and the mom I turn to for advice Terri of Tales of a Part Time Everything

Six degrees of separation, ex Bostonian, living with the in-laws inspiration Emily of Great Expectations

reading readiness

For those checking in on the o.f.f.e.r – yeah, still deep in the negotiation phase. A full 22 hours after our counter offer we still hadn’t heard and suddenly at 9pm the phone is ringing fast and furious. Somehow we always seem to be on the waiting end for the overnight, which royally sucks. Stay tuned – I guess?

Caroline enjoyed an extra long bedtime tonight, “reading” stories from memory. She laughed, she said phrases like “raspberry sorbet” and I wondered does she even know what raspberry sorbet is? Point is, we are seeing signs of pre-reading around here and though she is still completely uninterested in learning letters or numbers (though I suspect she knows more than she actually lets on) she is fully engaged in her “reading.” If she knows the book she’ll recite it aloud to George and if she doesn’t she makes it up as she goes. She sets herself up in a comfy chair with her suddenly cherished blanket, a baby doll, and a stack of books. Most parents’ hair stands up on their arms when they realize “the silence.” Nine out of ten times when I call out to the other room she answers back, “I’m just reading.” It’s pretty amazing and we’re reading longer and longer stories these days, exploring new places in the library like the fairy tale bookcase centered on Hans Christian Anderson. She had NEVER before heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and wow, does she ever love it. Can you imagine NEVER having heard Goldilocks before?? Each new book we take home from the library is like a gift to her. She hates giving them back, so much that Pinkalicious found its way into her very own collection. She knows most of the words now and I cannot wait until she can flip it open and "read" every word aloud to me.

Making brownies for uncle marc and kelly

scary fish

You know that saying, “do one thing everyday that scares you.” Yeah. Some days I don’t have to LOOK far to find something terrifying.

Example 1:

I was on the phone with Steve, Connor perched on my lap as I inhaled my lunch, and suddenly the rumbling below signaled one thing: diaper blowout. I joked that there was something in my lap that needed some serious attention, but when I hung up and actually looked down (isn’t that the worst feeling, the ominous, how bad is this going to be look?) it was bad. Let’s just leave it at we BOTH had to change our clothes. COMPLETELY.


This kind of blow out would have had me paralyzed three years and one kid ago. I wouldn’t have known what to do. I literally could not have moved because where do you go? what do you even DO? Years later and one little blowout king later, I calmly drew a bath, placed my baby bellydown on a towel and got it all cleaned up. Tear free. Anxiety attack free.

I got the laundry running (because time is of the essence in these stain situations) while Connor rubbed his eyes signaling an imminent nap window. I got him down and was feeling pretty good about myself. I called Steve back, jokingly reminded him that even on his worst day it in no way involves another person's bodily fluids and sat down at the computer. 


Example 2:

ding – my phone signaled a new email; subject: "offer."

We aren’t letting this fish go people. WHATEVER IT TAKES.

shoulder weight

This afternoon we took a little car trip. With a completed application and fee in hand we meandered over to the grocery for hot dog buns and made our way back to the center of town to drop off that application. We parked across the street and opened the door to Caroline's new school; the one she will go two half days a week in the fall, or two full days if I find a job, and perhaps more if I need more days and they happen to be available. (Isn't that amazing!!) There is no full month deposit. They are committed to being as flexible as possible and upon hearing that, I told the director I could kiss her. and I meant it. It's a great little center, smallish class size, a warm friendly atmosphere, a place she will thrive. Her teacher is Miss Kristen and she is sweet as cherry pie. They have a flexible summer program she can attend for the two weeks prior to start of school to acclimate. We can drop by any ol' time we want over the summer to get her more comfortable. Today we opted out of ice pops because she was feeling a bit shy. If we go to full days she needs a sleeping bag. A sleeping bag!!! Both Auntie k and Auntie C went to this very same program; the world comes full circle. I cannot emphasize how relieved I feel about all this. Sure, now that I have done this I will find a full time job and suddenly we'll be in the market for 3 more days of care. I keep telling Steve, just one crazy year, that's all we have to get through. One.crazy. year. We should be so lucky. My shoulders feel lighter. There is a skip in my step.

My girl, my Caro, in preschool. I'm so excited for her.

Beachbound

view from the backseat

In the middle of all the gloom a small miracle has been happening. Connor is hating the car a teeny tiny bit less. I can actually put him into the car for 10 or 20 minutes at a time when he is wide awake, right after a meal even, and he can C.O.P.E. period. He isn't great, he's far from a car lover, but the wild, frantic, car hate is subsiding...a teeny tiny bit.

On our way back from the library this afternoon I witnessed an amazing thing. Connor looked over at Caroline in the backseat and laughed. He laughed the heartiest most genuine baby laugh I have ever heard. It felt so wonderful to see him happy in the car and not only that, but to see them happy together. They stared at each other the whole ride home - the whole 7 minutes. It was the first time in the car that I was able to imagine how rides will be in the future - the two of them gabbing about this or that, laughing about something silly that happened, or windblown, exhausted, smelling like the sea from a perfect beach day, smiling in their happy sleep.

We have a ride to the beach today and I may regret ever saying he is getting better, but today I had a glimpse and the future feels sweet.

Milestone: We have a sitter

Sure, there is a general lack of sleep happening around these parts, but let's not gloss over the good stuff.

Connor is sitting up, unsupported, of his OWN accord, for full minuteS at a time.I know that this sitting up biz is partly to blame for all the recent sleeplessness. He wants to be up, practicing, showing off. To watch him, sitting there like a big boy, playing with his toes like they are the most magnificent things he has ever seen - well, it almost forgives all the hoopla he has been causing. It's quite impressive actually since we rarely allow him to bend at the waist due to the reflux. Some time sitting up or lying on his back are sure to cause a spitting episode or an all out reflux attack. I'm confident he would have been doing this sooner if I wasn't always discouraging the bending at the waist action. Connor has some CORE strength and tries so hard to get himself from lying back to sitting up. He can't really roll over yet, another thing we haven't been able to work on thanks to the reflux, but he is sitting up.

This was at my parents' house this past weekend. My father sent it to me via iPhone while my mother and I were out. Look how generally unimpressed he is with himself, like it's NO BIG DEAL people, I do this ALL THE TIME.

sleep, elusive sleep

I woke up this morning for the day around 6am, with a gassy baby squirming in my tired arms. I took a nap yesterday afternoon at 5pm and then went to bed for the day before 6:30, before dinner, before Kiki's amazing smelled so good chicken lasagna dinner. I fed Connor, plucked my contacts out of my eyes, rinsed my face with cold water and fell into bed. My head pounded to the point of nausea and I lay there wondering if this was just exhaustion or if it was something more because this just could not be normal. Then again, it isn't normal so to speak for a 5 month old to wake up three times a night to snack and it is even more irregular I am sure for him to have nights that have you prancing to his room, binky in hand, every hour. That's right. I said binky. Connor would NEVER take one before and recently we discovered that not only would he take it, but it calmed him and he could magically keep it in his mouth now. So we've embraced the binky for sad moments, for helping get to sleep, and I really don't want to hear anything about it - read - I am a desperate woman. a desperate and exhausted woman.

You cannot do this on your own. Without the support from Steve and the fam I could not have gotten those hours of sleep in before he woke up at 11 to eat again. I need to prioritize my sleep because this is the second week I have had one of these "I am so exhausted I cannot function" headaches and they just need to go away. It's a hard choice because I don't want to give up the two hours I have with Steve at night once the kids are down, even if we are just watching tv. I just HAVE to though because these rough nights might not be going anywhere anytime soon.

Connor, please get it together. There is nothing in this world besides you or your sister that could get me up in a flash in the middle of the night, but haven't you heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder?

chunky jumper thighs, sprinkler ballerina & our king for the day

tiny scissors

You can tell when Caroline has been practicing her cutting skills. The tell tale tiny scraps of paper surround the base of her chair, a pile of thin strips and triangular corners. Since we cracked the binding on that “Let’s Cut With Paper” book she is constantly asking to cut another page. It is astounding really to watch her follow the line whether it is straight or squiggly. It floored me the first time I watched her turn the paper to follow the line on its perpendicular path. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It has taken her cutting to a whole new level!


When she colors that coloring page has no chance of ending up on the fridge because once she is done with the crayons she gets out her scissors and chop, chop, chop- it’s smithereens. Last week on a rainy afternoon we got out the old magazines and searched for blue things, then red things, and then just things she liked. She cut them out – sometimes in half – and we glued them down to big pieces of paper. I cannot tell you how much she loved this. Seek and Find, Cutting, AND Gluing?!?!?

Whenever I see her cut something I chuckle to myself remembering the day Connor was born. Auntie k relayed to us that she had a whole conversation with Caroline that day about things she would do with her new baby brother. It was the usual things most older siblings would think of; playing, teaching, and then she added, “and I will cut him with my tiny scissors.” She hasn’t and hopefully I don’t need to add a yet to that statement. In the meantime, we’re busy sweeping up from her new obsession.

What keeps me going

because something HAS to give

I have not slept in six months, probably closer to seven and it is leading me to brink of insanity. Connor's reflux issues plague us continually and we walk on eggshells wondering what kind of day he is going to have. Will it be a good day? Will he nap for more than twenty minutes at a time? Will tonight be the night, the amazing night, that he sleeps more than three hours overnight? I came to the internet seeking answers to questions that I know won't magically be corrected by the powers of google. My searches there have led me to mothers' anonymous pleads for help! I imagine they were feeling the same way I am now and the answers they get on the most part involve being reprimanded by various "Doctors" that it is their own fault the baby isn't sleeping because they haven't got a solid bedtime routine, or they haven't been proactive in teaching him to put himself to sleep yet, or that they are somehow to blame. On behalf of all those mothers, eff you doctor schmoe. I did nothing to create this situation besides give birth to an amazing little boy who has a life plagued with gassiness and reflux.

We are at a crossroads here. Our sleep methods are being challenged by a boy quickly outgrowing the "sleeping elevated" plans we put in place months ago when we first started dealing with this. He has been sleeping in a Moses basket that he now touches end to end when fully extended and we know that time is running out, so I've been trying to break him of the basket, but very, very reluctantly. He is still elevated thanks to a wedge and a blanket UNDER the wedge, but I'm sure that is partly to blame for the last two nights of terrible sleep. At least on Wednesday night he woke up happy. Last night he was up for the second time at 1:30 after eating at 11 and he was quite the opposite; gassy, unhappy, and despite all my best efforts I ended up waking him for the day with a dose of antacid at 5 am. This terrible gassy unhappiness went on and on all through the night and I'm pretty sure it is the result of peaches too late in the day combined with sleeping too reclined with me. I'd kill for a solid FOUR hours of sleep right now. Unfortunately now that it is morning and I could go back to bed I am too fired up to do so and I'm one of those people who can't nap anyway.

I don't really have a plan. I've noticed he's been a little worse since we started solids; more gassy, less dirty diapers. Despite the fact that he clearly is enjoying eating - he cannot get that spoon into his mouth fast enough - I am pulling back on them in case it might improve things SOMEHOW. Who knows - the direction and velocity of the wind on any given day might also be to blame, but I haven't found a way to correct those yet. I'll let you know if and when I do.

It pains me to look back on this blog and see that Caroline was such a different sleeper. We didn't know how lucky we were. It makes me batshit bonkers to listen to other people's whining about their baby who GASP "woke up at 4am last night and zzzzzzzz." 4am would be a miracle. 4 am would mean that you weren't up at 11 and 2 and 4. It would mean that you could have slept for several hours on end, perhaps even two complete sleep cycles!

Today was the second sunrise I have seen in as many days. The light filled the house slowly and in my arms I held my engaging, wonderful, perfect to me son. Today I begged him to please just settle down so mommy could sit for the love of God, but in an hour or two when I hit a second wind, it will all be a distant memory... until tonight when I panic at bedtime wondering what the night holds for me and the evening handwringing begins.

It's not his fault, but it isn't mine either and I would appreciate it very much if google wouldn't suggest that I am somehow to blame for this very sad state of affairs.

sequestered

I found myself up at 4 am this morning with a wide awake singing son. His happy noises were so loud that I worried they would wake his sister, so we took the party downstairs where he played on his activity mat for what felt like an eternity. I tried topping him off with a snack begging him as he ate to "sleeeeeeep." As we sat there afterward, me half asleep and Connor half awake, I considered how lucky we have been that he has gone right back to sleep for us and that we have rarely had an overnight that involves a sad baby. Sure, we still have a baby that wakes up three times, but unhappy he is not. I thought about his babydom; how quickly it is passing by, how alert he has become, how needy he used to be, and how there are times when he stands jumping on my lap that I imagine I might put him down on the floor and he will toddle away.

In Connor's early babydom our bedroom was my retreat. I spent most days upstairs with him, nestled next to me on the Boppy or in my arms. I brought all the day's activities to him; the computer, phones, lunch, snacks, magazines. It was our little sanctuary. When Caroline was home I further subjected her to this sequestered state, dragging toys and books from her room into ours, letting her drink juice on our bedding, leave a trail of goldfish crumbs in the sheets, and she watched many, many shows and movies. I know that part of the reason I did that was because it contained the chaos, another part was because it helped me keep the house "show ready" (and isn't that funny to say now since it is still sitting on the market), but mostly I think it was because I was so overwhelmed at what was happening in our little world that keeping my little family together in that bedroom quelled my anxiety somehow. I could sit there with them, eat yogurt, drink gallons of water, and feel like I was in control.  I could put them together on our bed and pack the linen closet, or wipe the dust off the flat surfaces of the room for the 50th time. It was warmer up there too, so I could keep the heat lower in the house, keeping us all a bit more comfortable. I was a mama bear tending her cubs, but I wasn't really tending to myself very well.

Since we've been back in MA, life hasn't been like that. We might be sharing intimate space with two generous adoring grandparents, but we are living life more fully, taking it all in with giant gulps, and I'm braver, oh so much braver, about getting them out. Even if out is CVS or the Post Office. It's wonderful to know that the lockdown period is behind me. Our world still feels completely off kilter, but we are coping, we are getting there, and we have great hopes for what lies ahead. The unknown LOOMS, but we'll never be sequestered again.

school

It's a question mark right now. I wish it wasn't. I wish that our move up here had resulted in the perfect job just landing on my lap not just because it would be awesome for me and for Steve and our budget, but also because it would be great for Caroline. I know she misses her friends, her teachers, the "projects," and having that special place outside of the house that is just for her.

When I was inches away from that job a month ago we fast forwarded our daycare search, we made some decisions, we worked out a plan. It seemed ideal, but we all know that the job wasn't, so I asked the school to keep us penciled in for fall and they promised to let me know if the preschool spots started filling up so we could make some hard decisions.

I got that hard call on Friday. That school has two spots left for Caroline. So now what? With everything so up in the air we aren't sure what to do. We don't know where we will be living, where or if I might be working, and committing to anything seems completely crazy and yet - it's preschool and she deserves this opportunity. So we are reconsidering all day care/preschool situations and our brains are becoming mush because WHERE? WHEN? 1/2 days? Full days?

Nothing is ever easy.

Today my way of dealing with this was to make approximately 6 dozen peanut butter cookies that are so crispy and light. I enjoyed them with an oversized scoop of that amazing "Five" Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Coping strategy - epic delicious failure.

Favorite place

Uncle bubba

My name is Connor and I prefer to sleep with my mommy

Though he is sleeping just fine here and I'm obviously not next to
him. Note the free arms - do you now see my swaddle confusion? He's
cute though.

Feet

Admist the chaos

Sick day

We haven't really had one since we moved, but this one is pretty intense. She's puked at least six times (though none as bad as the first one) since 9:45. She's been in the tub once and that is her fourth shirt and third pair of pants. We are not quite getting the puke bowl thing. My Poor Bubba. Now how to deal with the wee one amongst all this???

fruits that begin with the letter "p"

We got the go ahead from Dr. Rachel to start Connor on some oatmeal at his four month visit. I was a bit hesitant, but ever so hopeful that it would help with his thrice nightly wake ups. Mommy would give her pinky toe to sleep until 3am. He did reasonably well with the oatmeal and once he stopped spitting it out and actually eating it, we moved him up to twice a day meals from a spoon. Over the weekend I decided that he was doing well enough with the cereal and we could move onto Dr. Rachel's next step; fruits that start with the letter "p." Pears, peaches, plums and prunes.

I made a batch of pears and all the baby food knowledge I gained in 2007 came back to me immediately. So I chopped, steamed, pureed, put them in ice cube trays and froze them up. He looked skeptically at the baby spoon when I presented the pears to him the first time, but after just one bite he was swallowing with wreckless abandon. Surely he was thrilled with the sweetness of those bartlett pears. Wait until he gets a load of the amazing swoon worthy goodness of the peaches I whipped up tonight.

Mommy blew bedtime

Last meal 4:30, asleep on daddy at 6:30... Tried to tank him up and
now I'm missing fnl. Live and learn!

not a twirler

I'm currently experiencing one of those rare two kid quiet times. Connor is asleep and Caroline is upstairs in her room resting. I'm feeling like I should be laying down too, but if there one thing I don't do well it is napping. I would be jarred awake by someone OR we would all sleep the afternoon away and neither of those options really works.

Yesterday Caroline and I made these and she loved it because she got to "drive the mixer." It was good to change it up and try a new recipe with her, but she wasn't very patient with my recipe reading. Things seem to go smoother when I am working from a recipe we both know well. She knows what to expect next and I can stay one step ahead of her. I'm just about to enjoy one (or two) of these Ina delights.

Connor was entertained by Kiki while we attended to emptying and entire jar of peanut butter into the Kitchen Aid. He is absolutely loving his bouncer right now. We put him in for dinner and can get through most of the meal before he starts to get annoyed. His wide smile is at its most bright when he is jumping up and down. It's hysterical to watch, particularly because Caroline didn't exactly love it. She was more of a twirler and I have video of her sitting there more interested in the cat than the opportunity to bounce.Connor jumps highest when his sister is nearby.

Here's a pretty good representation of me trying to balance the two - chatting with Caroline, keeping an eye on Connor, her being very involved in getting me a blanket while Connor bounces gleefully in the background. It's a pretty good metaphor for life right now - focused, chaotic, and wonderful.



generations

There is something resembling a routine beginning in the evenings. After successfully eating her dinner Caroline watches a bit of Nick Jr. before she launches into an all out independent bedtime. She refuses all assistance in teeth brushing, last potty break, and pj wearing. I often find her with her leg sticking out of the waistband of her undies in the morning, but whatever. There is usually at the very least mild resistance and then she settles into her bed, surrounded by animal friends and baby dolls, U2 Rockabye Baby playing in the background. When she falls asleep is anyone's guess, but it is usually without incident. 

Connor on the other hand is still sorting out the business of bedtime. Some nights he wants to have his last meal of the day at 6pm and others at 7pm. He gets his second dose of Zantac, spends some time being bounced (sometimes Mommy does a few sets of lunges), and eventually his body weight settled on my shoulder. Sometimes I am feeling ambitious and move him into the living room rocking chair for a break. Sometimes it is clear that he won't settle down that way and I don't dare relocate to the rocking chair until his eyes are closed and I hear a breathy sigh.  On the nights he is somewhat awake I have noticed some interesting behavior. We are seated in front of a large picture window, with the whole world out there to stare at. He without a doubt immediately dismisses that window and directs his full attention to a photo on an end table. It is a photo of Kiki's parents, just married, exiting Gate of Heaven Catholic Church in Southie, flanked on both sides by their mothers. Four generations back, lives full of promise, full wide smiles. Connor stares at this photo, first framed for our wedding in a silver frame and more recently outfitted in gold for Colleen and Hokie.

When I first noticed he was looking at this photo, I smiled too. It's a great photo. I myself love looking at it. I notice something new every time I sit there; the way he's holding his gloves in his hand, the bride's bouquet, the people in the background. I know that part of the reason he looks is that it is obviously a black and white photo and yes, babies do love black and white. As time goes by and I spend more time looking with him at this photo, an eerie thing has been happening. He stares so intently, so fully, that is hard not to imagine that the photo is smiling back at my baby boy. I forget momentarily why they are really smiling and it is like they are beaming with pride at their great grandson, delighted in his handsome smile, near laughing at his silly baby talk, amazed at the sturdiness of his legs.

Kiki thinks maybe her mother is helping me put the baby down.
I think she might be right.

Holiday Weekend in Photos