Can't even hint

Because what a night. Up at 9, 12:07, 1:00, and now since 3:30. I give. Uncle. You win Connor. Devil my soul is yours, just please send sleep.

just when it was starting to get fun

My kids amaze me. Caroline with her memory, her neverending stories, her zest for life and energy. Connor with his goober smiles, the squeals of just learning how to laugh laughter, the look of complete astonishment at every new thing presented to him. I don't want to say too much secondary to the say it outloud and it is no longer true phenomenon. Things are slowly, ever so slowly improving.

Our car ride to the beach this morning was full on Friday Cape traffic. As little as a week ago I would have fully panicked to find myself in stop and go traffic. Today my daughter woke her brother with the chorus to Hey, Soul Sister and instead of mortal dread I played it louder, we opened the windows, we sang along and the baby, well he smiled right along all the way to the merge at Derby Street. We still had a ways to go when the traffic finally broke and he ran out of patience. Panic was replaced by a pass it along game of amusements from Mommy's bag.  Adorable monkey toy from Mommy, to Caro, to Con. He was losing it a bit when we finally drove over the bridge to the beach, but we all had smiles on our faces.

Isn't it always the way. Just when things start to get easier, just when you get into a groove things completely change. We're counting down days until my stay at home mom stint ends and while I am sad that I will miss these silly little moments with my sweeties, I know that it will be ok. Caroline will thrive, Connor will adjust, the time we DO have together will be all the more important. I'm proud of what we've accomplished in these six months together; potty training, reflux management, manners, taking a bottle... but it was just starting to get fun.

When

Did she get so big?

Neil



Photo credit to his cousin Lauren. I cannot get over how much Connor looks like his grandfather in this photo, minus the face mutilation via pointy baby nails. The sideways smile, the eyebrows. It's really like my grandmother plucked him from the heavens because he reminded her of my father so much.

breaking the cycle

We are once again in the grip of the carseat trap. When Connor first started his Zantac we placed him gently in his carseat for bed. I diligently alternated a rolled up pilfered hospital issue swaddle blanket behind his shoulders to avoid any head flattening. It wasn't ideal, but it allowed us all to sleep in increments of time greater than say 15 minutes which is where we were. His age was still measured in weeks. His tiny body still slumpy in the seat. As he started to overcome the reflux, or more likely as he reached a proper dosage, we switched him from the carseat to a Moses basket propped up on a thick folded blanket and a crib wedge. Last month it became obvious that he was outgrowing that basket and I panicked. I full on panicked because HOW WOULD HE SLEEP WITHOUT IT??? I removed the basket set-up piecemeal and finally settled him into sleeping with just the wedge swaddled. Since we took away his beloved swaddle he has actually once again been sleeping a few hours (or a smidge more) at a whack. The cost of this was his sweet face which he destroys with nails I dutifully file each day.

Over the last few weeks the reflux returned and he no longer could tolerate sleeping on his back. We brought back the carseat on Thursday night and he slept just like he had been. I was fine with it because "whatever lets everyone rest," but it is clear that in just a few weeks time he will need to sleep on his back all day long and we need to ditch the carseat sleeping stat.

Monday was such an amazing sleep day that I had to go and RUIN it. Yesterday with Prilosec onboard, a drug he likes so much he swallows and gags it all back up, was my first try at carseat free sleeping. It was such an epic FAIL that I immediately ran for the car seat and wouldn't you know it, he slept. I kept trying him without it, but at a certain point you throw in the towel. Today I tried again. Morning nap was a joke, he finally got down and woke up less than 10 minutes later. He is currently down with us watching "the meatball movie" in a pack n play seat free and I am literally holding my breath, clicking the keyboard keys as lightly as possible.

Have we created a sleep situation we cannot rectify? What do other reflux moms do to get their older babies sleeping in a more normal way? I want to be able to put him down drowsy and help him learn to soothe himself to sleep, but with all the reflux issues that's been near impossible. Is this even something I should be trying to achieve or should I just accept that he requires a bit more?

Curious Caroline

I checked off an item from that new 101 list this morning.

Behold, Caroline's photo blog. There were a ridiculous 257 photos on her photo card and I will admit that I did delete the ones clearly taken under her blankets at bedtime, duplicates of things like the rug, and the ones that were too fuzzy to even discern the subject. She enjoyed looking at them with me in Picasa for about 15 minutes and I lost her at "blog." "What blog mean?" Caroline picked this template and the photos to include for her first post.

My goal is to download from her camera more often and post some of her work here. We think she captures some great images. She often puts great thought into her shots, setting up her library book on her lap just so to get the castle, ordering her subjects to "get together!" and shouting, "one more!"

She loves this camera, a gift from Nana and Granda for her 3rd birthday. We've already replaced the batteries twice and now that I have downloaded all her shots, she's got plenty of room to shoot away.

Curious Caroline

We have entered a new stage

The box wonderment stage. He is smitten with this crest box. It's the
little things.

lay your head on my shoulder

There are milestones that mothers mentally check off in their heads ensuring that their child is "on target." Then there are milestones that mothers wait for that aren't listed in What to Expect The First Year. They aren't written about on those babycenter monthly email blasts. In fact, Moms don't even really talk about some of the most precious firsts.

Connor has always been a "huggy" baby. He likes to grab onto your neck, nuzzle in deeply, leave a wet stain from his baby drool on your shoulder and take a fistful of hair from your ponytail with him when he surfaces for air. It's cute. It lets me know that he knows it is me. I look forward to it each and every morning.

He has started laying his head on grown up shoulders. At first we thought it was just when he was tired, but it seems to be more of a contented little way for him to say, "I am so comfortable here with you." It isn't just with Mom and Dad. Yesterday he met one of Steve high school hockey buddies for the first time and BAM! within a few minutes that little head was up against Paul's shoulder as he furiously "Maggie Simpsoned" his bink.

This morning as we prepared to leave the house as I packed up the diaper bag at a dizzying speed he did it again. It made me pause. I looked down at him and his big going to be brown for sure eyes looked up at me and he buried his little face into my shirt and I had absolutely no choice but to kiss that little baby hair covered head all over. It is these firsts, these quiet ones that I look forward to most. It is a certainty that he will crawl, that he will pull to stand, that he will feed himself a cheerio. It is not yet known how many more of these sweet endearing behaviors he will come up with and I want to relish each and every one of them.

You wait for these moments, for the signs that they are really people, not just squirmy feed me, burp me, bounce me beings requiring constant intervention. We're seeing the light at the end of the very long tunnel. He's eating more cereal, balanced carefully with non-binding fruits. He's sleeping longer bouts during the day. He's the world's newest Prilosec fan. We're picking up the rx this afternoon and I am hoping it makes an enormous difference in his life. I want more of these little firsts, more cute contented behavior, less jiggle/sway.

the rest of the story... and it's a long one

It's been house, job, house here lately. Caroline is somewhat hesitant when the move is brought up, voicing her concerns via cherished object. "and my big puppy will come to the new house, and my Katie, and my kitchen, and my stool will come to the new house, Mommy?" The list goes on and on and at some point in our discussion I either think to myself, "this kid has way too much stuff" or I change the subject because I can sense her growing anxiety. She has been quite happy with our current living arrangement and I've had to carefully explain to her that in time our belongings will get loaded into a big truck and drive down the street a few minutes to her new house. She has said she does not want to leave. My girl, she hates change.

To combat this a bit we are planning our move carefully, to provide her with a nice smooth transition, one that is more celebration and fanfare than exploding carefully labeled UHaul boxes stacked in her room. Clearly priority number one is getting the kids rooms and the lower level play area together. I think once she sees it she'll be fine, thrilled even, but until she lays eyes herself on the finished product she's allowed to be cautious about her enthusiasm. Lucky for her, Kiki and Papa still want to keep her for occasional overnights. I know it will help ease her into our new life.

I say all this without having even completed the inspection on the house, but I am feeling so positive about the whole thing that I won't let me mind go to the terrible things that inspectors can uncover. So we'll see. While we wait for that (scheduled for next Saturday) I'll keep gently bringing it up in conversation.

As for the boy. Oh Connor. He is going down that same old familiar terrible path again. His reflux is coming back and ringing loud warning bells along the way. We've been here before, we recognize the signs now. At his six month appointment on Thursday he weighed 17 lbs 10 oz and 27 inches long, "a great weight for a reflux baby!" He was declared "strong." I worry that his reflux is putting him behind because he still isn't rolling over regularly, but he is sitting up on the early side of the milestone. She feels that in time he will catch right up because of his amazing strength. I had a list of complaints regarding his reflux returning to emphasize the low notes and get some new medication going. Instead I reluctantly agreed to give him cereal again first because she felt that fruits alone, full of acid fruits, might be making his reflux worse. I deferred to her judgment and agreed to revisit the cereals that had pained him so just a few weeks prior and low and behold he is tolerating them much better now. He is still however showing signs of reflux and we have returned to the ol' car seat for bed ritual which really, I don't personally care if he sleeps 4 hours at a pop in it, but he NEEDS to be better managed because in just  three short weeks he will be at daycare and I am pretty sure they aren't onboard with sleeping him that way. We've stopped swaddling him at night with varied success at the cost of his beautiful face which he now rips up nightly with his nails no matter how often I file the pointy corners. He occasionally requires Maalox in the middle of the night and I am just so done with this getting up multiple times a night gig that I am willing to do anything to get my hands on some baby Prilosec. I am no longer feeding him each time he wakes up and we've been able to push his middle of the night meals back to the 4 hour mark or more, which is a miracle. What is not a miracle is him going back to sleep for 30 minutes or not at all after a feeding. It requires more intervention on my part than I am physically capable of at 2 or 3 in the morning. My mind quickly fast forwards to the end of August and I wonder how I will balance my night job with my day job.

Speaking of my day job. I've done a lot of soul searching. I've done a lot of thinking in the shower about returning to work. I've thought about the pump and how it might or might not be entirely possible to pump enough milk for him due to the nature of my position. I bit the bullet and decided to partially wean Connor in order to make the whole transition easier for us both. Not being able to pump on a regular schedule would create a milk shortage, which would stress me out, which would lead to an even larger milk shortage, which might lead me to ultimately wean him a bit anyway and so if that is the outcome we are looking at the alternative of preparing him and myself ahead of time is the best method of attack. We'll have our routines set before I get back and the stress I have been feeling, at least related to this, will be managed. That doesn't mean that Connor and I did not cry a little bit together during that first dropped feeding of Similac. Not giving it up entirely lets me feel more in control and ultimately, if it makes his transition to school a tiny bit easier than it is worth all the liquid gold I could ever produce for him.

There's more to come, but right now, I've got a baby to prepare a bottle for.

we've lost our damn minds

Free at last from our mortgage in CT one would think we would rest on our laurels, at least momentarily. One would think. No, not us. Steve and Kerri must just feel better when we have a mortgage payment because as of this morning we have an accepted offer on a new home, not too far from where we are staying now, and it's going to be amazing. See also INSANE.

August 14: Pack the house
August 20th: Close on house
August 23: Start work, kids start school
September 9: Close on new house

NEW HOUSE. It's 3 beds, 2.5 baths, with a beautifully finished lower level and a sprawling park like backyard. In time it needs a new kitchen and updates to the main level baths. It needs a little love, but the bones are strong and wonderful and OH MY GOD! We have a house.

Here she is.

Offer

We saw a house again tonight that we previously walked through via Open House on Sunday. Today we cannot imagine why we hesitated. SURE, it needs a new kitchen. SURE, the bathrooms are original. It's a great house. It's a great house for our family. It has two fireplaces for those S'Mores and a great family room for that cheesy family game night. We're pining away and putting in an offer in the morning. HOLD ME!!!!

SIGNED

I am happy to share that we reviewed, signed, and sent back the purchase and sale agreement! It was hardly the celebration it should have been because we went practically from Steve's office signing and initialing to a house that we might be interested in purchasing. Just the thought of purchasing something else after all we have been through makes me want to throw up, but you never know. We liked the house, not enough to put an offer on the spot, but enough to keep considering it. I worry that the driveway might be too steep, which I know, silly BUT I worry about the kids playing in a driveway that we might not actually be able to drive up in the winter. Caroline was walking down it solo and I worried she might roll end over end into the street and honestly - I don't think I was being that crazy. As we debated on through the night we started to think that another house, one we saw this weekend and discounted because of kitchen and bathroom reno work, might actually be a really good fit. We're seeing it tomorrow afternoon. I have a feeling. I might still throw up if we put in an offer, but I can see us being there for the near future. I can almost smell our first fire. I'm holding myself back from racing out to get the s'more ingredients.

slipping through my fingers

Caroline asked for music tonight after dinner and ice pops. This request has transformed from us agreeing and getting up and turning on the music and finding something she deems acceptable to a simple nod, "ok." She can turn it on herself and she launches into an accompanying dance that ranges from fist pumping to feet pointing to gentle swaying and spinning. Tonight she came running over as Abba came flowing from the MP3 player. It was the song my father chose to dance with me for our father daughter dance. I watched her savoring each spin, each frantic preschool movement, each eye twinkle. Her lashes had suddenly grown a full inch it seemed, my baby, growing up, time slipping through my fingers. Her little madras shorts, her green polo shirt, the curly pig tails. My baby's tan legs, the same shade as my own. Life comes full circle doesn't it?

I accepted a full time position at a community hospital this morning after negotiating one heck of a deal for childcare. We are waiting with butterflies in our stomachs (and some burgers and dogs) to hear about the signed purchase and sale on the CT house. Just like so many people predicted; it all seems to happen at once. Life is once again catapulting forward at lightening speed.

We're here at the beach creating memories to sip slowly years from now as we flip through the photos in our minds. Today we went to the Aquarium and Caroline's excitement more than made up for the crazy admission prices. Penguins, sharks, jelly fish and a shocking affection for the baby anaconda. She could have spent all day perched in one of the windows of the Ocean Tank. Connor slept through most of the adventure, though we did get to see the look of wonderment and confusion as he came to in front of a large tank of coral reef dwellers. "Dori!!!!"

Beach tomorrow. More memories. These babies won't be slipping through my fingers just yet.

Partied too hard

Passed out on the floor mid crayon. Ahhh, vacation.

Mischievious little hat wearing imp

and wait until you see the third

There was always a simple understated understanding that we would always be. A belief that I would see bonfires and meet 50 first cousins at the family holiday party even as we sat up late night sharing those important all night discussions where you learn everything about this amazing new person you cannot believe you finally found.


When I told Steve I loved the beach he couldn’t wait to take me to his family’s seaside home. For someone who loves the beach, I hardly got there. I was without a car and living in the city. I was still in college. I knew I felt some amazing connection to the ocean, but I rarely got to experience that first deep breath of salty air that comes with arriving at the beach. When it came time to leave I was always the one who had to go back down to the shore for one more look, one more deep breath. He made arrangements to take me to the house, then located just down the street from the current beach house, for my birthday the year we started dating. In the history of all my birthdays there have been just a handful of sunny days and this was a day like no other. It was hot, sunny, bright and beautiful and my new boyfriend took me to the most sacred place he knew – his beach.

That was April.

He tried to explain the insanity of the third of July to me that night. The bonfires, the fireworks, that the beach would be full of spectators, that there would coolers full at 6pm and empty by midnight, that there was to be epic game of A-Hole that would forever change my game.  I smiled. I nodded. I couldn’t imagine that this pristine, quiet beach would be transformed in such a way for just one night. We had started dating in March. It was April. He was sure I would be there in July. I was sure I would be too and not because of the beach, but because from the moment I walked into the Parrish CafĂ© that night in March and I saw those blue-eyes watch me walk through the door and completely take me in - I knew I had found him. I was there that July. I was still there the following year. I was absolutely there when he proposed in the misty rain, amid the dunes, beyond half-built bonfires.

July 3rd has been exceptionally good to us. It was the first major thing from his life, from his family’s life, that he shared with me and he did it with his whole self. He couldn’t wait to indoctrinate me and teach me he did! I might actually look forward to July 3rd more than he does now.

Each year is different. The view has changed in recent years. The attendees vary year to year. We’re getting older and the card games seem to have settled down a bit. The fireworks keep getting more and more impressive. Our fire is STILL the first one lit on the entire beach. The meal never disappoints. These days I experience the fireworks through my daughter’s eyes and I chuckle watching my infant son jump at the booms. I wonder how many we will have together there on that deck overlooking the ocean.

There has been tremendous change in our life since that first April when the third of July was just an event I heard about and had yet to experience. One thing remains the same. I can look over the crowd of onlookers and catch my husband’s eye and he will smile, come over, ask me if I need a beer, tell me that I should have one even if I don’t really want one. We’ll still wake up in the morning together and say it was the best year yet. It always is. 

My daughter loves the beach. Her brother is sure to follow suit. That isn’t from him or from me, but surely from the collective history we have together, there, at the most special beach, where we announce wonderful things, where we return lobster shells to the sea, where we are most connected to tradition and family and to each other.

We’re so lucky to be spending next week there creating new memories, relishing in old traditions, waking up to the sounds of the surf. We’ve got grand plans and plans to do nothing and everything in between.

Pop Maker Delight

We recently cranked out a few ice pops using the ZOKU quick pop maker.

I’m documenting the fun here because it is was AWESOME and no this isn’t a paid product review. Special thanks go out to Granda and Nana for this fancy and fun way to keep cool in this terrible heat. They found it for Caroline when it was time for her to be a  big girl and say adios to diapers. You could say Caroline was excited about making pops, but that would be a GROSS understatement. All day, “and then we make ICE POPS!” “Mommy we do quiet time and then make popsicles? PLEEEASE????” “I’m gonna make ICE POPS!”

and how soul crushingly sweet was it when she looked at me and said, "Mommy, maybe we can make one to bring to Nana to make her feel better." Nana recently suffered an injury that has her out of commission for 4 weeks. We're hoping these photos help cheer her up.




Freeze Pop Maker for at least 10 hours - ours was chilled for over 24.


Specialized tools. Sticks, drip covers, and removal tool




Flavors


Patience - note the ingredients for tonite's meal on the counter - Apricot Boneless Chicken Thighs


Ready to pour




To the fill line




Midway


Waiting


9 minutes




Special removal tool. Soooo easy!


Sample




Double fisting




A lady and her pop



We definitely enjoyed this. It was SUPER EASY and I am thawing it out to clean it so we can get it back into the freezer tonight for more pops tomorrow. Even the baby enjoyed a taste of the lemonade flavored pop. I thought he would stop lunging for it when the icy cold hit his lips, but I was WAY wrong. He cried when I took it away!!! Lemonade pop at six months is totally legit right? It was a slam dunk. Thanks Nana and Granda! We can't wait to make some for you!

nail biting

The heat has kept us indoors this week.

Earlier this week I declared “Movie Afternoon” and Caroline settled in during her regular rest time to enjoy some “Buzz, Buzz Lightyear… to the rescue.” I had just gotten the movie going and the demands for “POPCORN!!!” began.

Yesterday I had a job interview on the South Shore so the kids spent the greater part of the afternoon totally bogarting Kiki and Papa’s vacation at the beach. I returned to find my daughter jumping waves with Papa in the ocean, her wet hair curling up into tight ringlets, and my son happily ensconced in Kiki’s arms downing a bottle without complaint. You know I had to join in the fun and I may have dove through a few waves myself before we headed home to test the return ride in full on rush hour traffic. You know what? It wasn’t bad, in fact both the ride and the interview went well. Really well.

I’m anticipating an offer after a bonus session with the HR recruiter about benefits and circling dates on a calendar of organization wide “general orientation” dates. I’m just not sure that the salary is going to be enough and when I say that I mean I am not sure that the salary is going to exceed the cost of full time daycare for two by enough for me to justify the hours spent in the car and time away from my babies. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I wonder to myself and out loud if there is a price that would be enough. I wonder if we might be better off with me staying home until we get one of these adorable creatures into kindergarten. I wonder what message I am sending to Caroline if I throw in the towel and say UNCLE because it feels an awful lot like that. I apply to jobs daily, so many that I have lost track of which ones I have applied to already. It's hard not hearing anything back, wondering if my resume or my cover letter is holding me back. While I know that eventually that entire salary wouldn’t be handed over via “tuition check” to whatever daycare arrangement we pull out of our sleeve, I am still completely confused about what to do. We crunched numbers last night and I have a rock bottom number I need to reach before I can even give this opportunity any real consideration. It seems reasonable given the helpful advice a fellow social worker gave about salaries in the area for my field. So yeah. We’ll see. Insert nail biting and fretting. At this point I am a champ at both these tasks. 

Then my mind starts racing and thinking about all the novenas I need to say in the next few days to get us a positive inspection and keep these buyers on track to sign the P+S next week. When my mind goes there I start envisioning HOW I could even move out of the house in CT after JUST starting a new job and ahhh! I can’t let myself imagine moving out of this current situation without any accrued vacation time and all the CHANGE. CHANGE. CHANGE.

It’s all good stuff. It will all reveal itself to me in time. It will all be ok.

In the meantime, there is a sweet six-month old that seems to FINALLY be tolerating his solids appropriately. I nixed cereal completely (screw you cereal!) and watered his pears down to practically pear flavored water. I followed his meal with a shot of liquid antacid and he seems to be no worse for the wear. In fact, he’s sleeping moses basket free wrapped tightly in his blue star blanket upstairs. One step at a time and time just keeps flying by…

One year later

Last year we announced he was coming... Happily enjoying his first
third of July...

screech

My handsome boy. My sweet and sometimes odd little man. Though I have known you your entire lifetime Connor, I feel like I am still just getting to know you. We have entered the phase of your life where you have a specific expression or action for just about everything.

The wide eyed stare from the bouncer that shouts – “SMILE AT ME!” and if the grown-up complies their reward is the widest sunshiney grin that starts in your eyes and takes over your entire beautiful face.

The pouty lip and sudden squawk that signals an imminent break down.

The fisted eye rub and nose nuzzle to warn me you are getting sleepy.

The way you literally wrap your arms around my neck and burrow your head into my shoulder when you are such a happy boy almost to say, “yay, you! I love you!”

Your eyebrows! With your Dad and I contributing equal parts DNA I’d say you could have en entire conversation with your eyebrows. We’re both pretty expressive eyebrowers.

The odd little maneuver you do with your thumb joint that is just part of quirky little you that reminds me you are your own little person because Caroline never did that weird thing when she was a baby.

The way you focus on a new object or sound and explore it with such gusto that I feel like the world is not enough for your itch to discover.

Your jumping. You and that doorway jumper are as close to friends as a boy and an inanimate object can be. Your sister never really cared for it, but you would jump all day if you had an attention span greater than a goldfish.

The noises. Let’s talk about the noises because you are shouting up a storm, discovering new consonants and practicing them loudly. You shriek in happiness and joy and howl in despair and sorrow. While I much prefer you happy, there’s a feisty air to even your saddest cry that reminds me you will someday be strong enough and big enough to fend for yourself.

Time is flying by. A year ago this week we told the world you were coming and here you are; jumping, cooing, smiling, stealing the heart of everyone who meets you.

If all goes well, you’ll celebrate your first holiday season in your new home. A home that will be filled to overflowing with you and your sister’s laughter, good memories, and a metric ton of home baked goods stirred and sampled by you both. Sure, your Dad and I want to move to a new address. Sure, Kiki and Papa would like some of the quiet solitude back in their day to day. More than any other reason, I want this new address for you and Caro. I want you to have a place of your own, a room to destroy, a garage to store your someday matching Coupes (cuz I can’t see your sister sharing hers right now, at least not willingly), a place where we can all beg and plead your father to have a fire and make smores and have cheesy family game night and eat pizza on Friday nights. A place where your father and I can go to bed, but not fall asleep waiting to hear your footsteps creak up the stairs. A place where you can bring your own family back to have dinner with us someday. A place you and Caro deserve because you are good kids, amazing kids, kids that we love more than anything else in the whole world – more than ourselves and as much as each other. I’m crossing my fingers for it Connor and if I could teach you to do it with me I would. Until then, keep screeching, it’s an awesome distraction.