Caroline "reads" Pinkalicious

This is from our summer vacation at the beach on the deck, right before Caroline's bedtime. She loves this book and I love the way she puts some drama into the story - "mommy, please take me home."

the post in which I refuse to discuss sleep

Connor is pulling up on everything which is both incredible and incredibly terrifying. He needs very little help, just the support of a grown up hand, a couch arm, a coffee table leg and he is standing up reaching out to knock something off a table or grab for something off limits. He cannot be trusted alone for a second. He is going to need the pack n play to contain his limitless curiosity or he is bound to get into trouble.

He is still very much a baby. Connor loves to be snuggled, but these days he'll happily be put down on the floor to play with an exciting new object like oh, I don't know an Annie's Mac and Cheese box. For a few minutes anyway. He loves his bink, but he's more excited to take it out and put it back in over and over again. He still needs it to fall asleep, but he spits it out after a few minutes. At the same time I look at his ever changing face and see the little boy he will become. I see him understanding his world, I hear him babbling in the back seat, and I watch him as we walk upstairs each night for his big boy bath and it is so obvious that he knows where he is going and what we will be doing and he CANNOT contain his excitement.

Sleep. Yeah. Let's put it this way, I don't want to write about it. Okay. Everyone get that? Good. Still up, still sharing a bed part of the night, but dreams - guys, I totally forgot how nice it was to dream... until I started dreaming about work. 

Con's first t ride

With auntie c and hokie on the green line to Fenway

measuring the passage of time

When we packed up CT I labored over my closet and dresser. It was February and summer felt like light years away. I thought we would be wherever we were going to be before tanks and tees and surely before swim suits. I was wrong.

I opened the closet in Connor's room this morning, where I keep my things separate from steve's suits, and realized I have changed out my last season of clothing in this house. This house we have shared for six months with Kiki and Papa. This house where our daughter begs for thirty-year-old sesame street sheets that snuggled her father's slumber. This house where Connor's bouncer relocated the trash. This house where we grew together and not separately from steve's family. This house that will be so hard to leave in less than thirty days.

I measure the passing of time here in the usage of things. Another bottle of shampoo. A new bar of soap. Laundry detergent. Olive oil. Baking supplies. Would we be here for another pound of sugar? Would I need another deodorant? Would the kids need more bath wash?

We have been at Kiki and papas for five bars of soap, three bottles of shampoo, two conditioners, three contact solutions, two tubes of toothpaste, three pounds of sugar, six pounds of butter.

I have changed my clothes from winter post maternity wear, to spring, to summer and fall. The next time I pull out the sweaters we will be in the new house. A whole year of seasons will have passed. The world will have made it most of the way around the sun.

I have measured the passage of time and it has felt so short and so long all at once. I think it feels that way when you are on a journey. You want to stop and enjoy, but you also just want to get to your destination. It's been the trip of a lifetime and the best part is - it's just beginning.

did I forget to tell you more?

In less than a month, on October 15th, we take are hoping all goes as planned and we will have a set of keys to this house. I haven't said much about this wonderful house since our crazy offer was actually accepted by the seller. We are still slightly in shock that it will be ours.

We already have a list of house projects:
- paint in the bedrooms
- wallpaper to remove
- cabinets to paint
- a chimney that needs work
- a new retaining wall along the driveway
- and on and on

Steve and I aren't normally the DIY type. We have opposing home improvement personalities; I want to read the labels, plan plan plan and he wants to dive in and get it done... yesterday. We do watch HGTV religiously on the weekend mornings, so often that Caroline knows that what she is watching with Daddy is "home improvement." We have grand plans, we have big dreams, we have energy, we have two little constant distractions, we have the rest of our lives to perfect this house. We're not planning a move in 5, 10, or 15 years. We're planning on making this our forever house, the one we'll sell someday to another new young family just starting out.

I know I haven't been posting as often, what with the hospital insanity I have found myself in. I'm planning another branch of this site, McCasa , to chronicle it all. The slate is blank and we want to be able to look back at every improvement large and small.

After all this time. After all we have been through. It just doesn't seem real yet, but it is, it will be, and we are looking forward to next chapter.

What compels a three year old to do this at bedtime?

hasta medela

Apparently there are more than a few things different this time around. Connor stopped accepting breastmilk via Dr. Brown a couple weeks ago. Each day he was coming home with one extra bottle and it was always a big 6 oz bottle of breastmilk. Miss Jen reported to Steve that they were having trouble getting him to drink it and I realized one day I had been sending the same 6 oz to school for 3 days.

When I started work I carried my telltale "nursing mom" pump bag back and forth on the shuttle each day. I located the Lactation Clinic at the Hospital, made nice with the lactation consultants, the nurses at the desk where they kept the extra key, the reception area ladies who manned the all important door to Labor and Delivery.

I had wanted to pump twice a day, at 10 and 2. In the insanity of my training it twice became once at 2pm. I was coming home to pump at 6 or to hope he was hungry enough for me feed. Most days things were too frantic and I was too exhausted to pump when I came home.

In light of his sudden refusal at school I quit the once a day pump at work. I was struggling to get to the clinic during the day frantically fitting it in between lunch and a stressful afternoon of more paper pushing and medical documentation. My sessions were great at the clinic, often yielding close to 7 oz, but awful when I couldn't make use of their space due to my schedule. I asked myself what I was doing this for all to have him refuse it at school and send it back and forth for days on end. In the back of my mind I wondered if it was not warmed enough for him or if it was because he missed me and ultimately instead of stressing over all this and more, I happily left it at "he eats with me, we'll just keep that."

So my pump is sitting alone up in our bedroom waiting for me to clean and sanitize and put away, likely forever or until it is gifted down to some lucky mom - to - be. Connor and I still have our time together overnight, and trust me there is still plenty of that, but during the day - he's Mr. Similac and doing splendid.I'm feeling a bit conflicted over the whole thing, but ultimately what's it all for if he can't/won't even use it? I'd rather travel light than stress over that session. I can't believe I am the same person who at this age with Caroline petitioned my insurance company with an RX for the Medela. Different baby, different time, different all around. 

pulling and pushing

I feel like I've been gone from here for months and not just the weekend and a couple days. In that time our little family's puzzle has connected a few more pieces together.

Connor looked up at me from the floor piteously post tub late last week and erupted into "mamamamamama"s. My working Mom's grinch heart grew three sizes that instant and even though I suspected it was not connected to me, but merely a new little vocalization, it didn't matter. Connor could say mama. The following day he mama'd me directly. Everyday since then when he wants me I wait a moment longer to hear that angel chorus of mamamama and my heart immediately bursts into a million pieces. Despite being away from me 40 hours each week, there is still just one singular me in his life. Phew.

Not only has he advanced his vocab, but Connor is on the brink of crawling. A note home from Miss Jen this week, "Connor continues on his quest to become mobile." He's moving himself in circles, pushing himself backward while on his back or belly, but he can't quite seem to get the concept of crawling... yet. Pulling up. Yes, he's pulling up. He's trying to climb tables and on top of the fisher price piano. He's determined. He's strong. He's that much closer to being a wrecking ball of crawling fury. Just in time to move out of Kiki and Papa's house because while I had a little girl who would sit and dump a basket of toys out to play for whole minutes at a time, there is nothing about Con that suggests he'll play quietly, politely, or sit in one place for more that 25 seconds.

Caroline's been having a little shyness at school. A little social anxiety perhaps. She's quiet, reserved, clingy at drop off. She comes home screaming, using her voice at top volume after using her tiny mouse voice throughout the day. Each morning right when we reach the neighboring town's high school she announces from the back seat that her tummy hurts. At first this caused great alarm, but I've come to understand that she gets butterflies in her tummy anticipating her school day. She hasn't been a great eater since school began. Her note from school each day reads "lunch: very little." By the time I get home she's eaten MOST of her lunch box. Turns out her father did the exact same thing when he went off to kindergarten, eating not a single morsel at school and wolfing it down as soon as he arrived home. Caroline is making friends, slowly, though I hear she a force to be reckoned with on the playground. Her father spots her by her curly hair bouncing across the bridge to the slide.

Last night she serenaded the whole family during dinner. She announced a potty run and suddenly busted out "Puff the Magic Dragon, wived by the sea, and fwolicked in the autu mist in a land call hanalee." Over and over. Hearing her, singing, happily, something she had learned at school brought me great pause and a moment of near tears. It reminded me of something, something I couldn't quite put my finger on.... she was like Boo from Monsters Inc, singing in the bathroom of the Scarers locker room. Pigtails and all. Turns out Puff is a "transition song" at school that breaks up Circle Time and leads into the first activity of the day. She must really like the first activity of the day. My little boo. You should have seen Caro today, wearing khaki pants and a grown up girl shirt. My big girl, who goes to school, who is overcoming overwhelming shyness slowly and at her own pace, but listening... always listening.

Time to Study

I weaseled my way out of work today and felt guilty GUILTY G.U.I.L.T.Y. I made my way up to the other side of 95 and as I drove I thought hard about what I was doing. Did I really just leave my job early for a "go see" at another job? Had I lost my damn mind? I tried to keep positive. I pushed away thoughts of "it won't be enough money," "it won't be enough hours," and "it won't matter anyway, I don't have my license."

I walked in right on time and started talking hospice again. I started remembering WHY I got into this sick profession in the first place. I easily came up with examples of working with families, supporting patients, and making a difference. A real difference. We hashed out hours. I handed off my reference information. We even talked cashola. I was brazen.  

I need to take the gosh darn social work exam. I've put the study guide on hold at the library. I have to send in my paperwork to get approval to set my exam date. She's going to get back to me on salary. The territory I would be responsible for would be right in my backyard. I would be I-N-S-A-N-E to not go for it. The way we left it: they won't jump on anyone else for the position and I have to keep in very close touch about the status of my license.

Her parting question: "What do you want to bring to your patients and their families?"

My answer came without a second of hesitation: "Hope. Hope doesn't have to be a cure or everlasting life. Hope comes in all forms and I would like to be the one to open the door to hope."

I can't bring much of that in my current position, but I do have hope that I can work this all out - one way or another.

"You're an MSW?"

cue red embarrassing hot cheeks.

Each and every time it comes out at the new workplace that I have my MSW this is precisely the reaction I get. A colleague proudly stood next to the person training me last week, put her arm over her shoulder, and announced to me that so and so had her Bachelor's in Psychology. My reply was, "me too! and my Master's in Social Work from BC." The reaction, stunned silence.

I'm not usually one to toot my own horn and I am the last one to be snobby about having an advanced degree, but early indications reveal that I am the most highly educated person in my little cohort. When the social workers in my department learn that I am one of them in disguise they all flip the heck out. It's disturbing in a way to me and while I sit here searching for a reason to leave this job in the dust and never ever look back, my degree lights up behind me like a neon sign in the darkness. I'm no better than anyone else in my position, in fact, I am the least experienced in the role, the low man, but I can't help but feel this isn't panning out --- quite yet --- or not at all.

I'm adjusting. I'm adapting. I'm so busy most days I could cry. Yesterday I felt so overwhelmed with my work load that I had no answer for my colleagues' "what can we do to help?" THAT is overwhelmed. Today, I got ahead. I plowed through my work. I organized. I reorganized. I checked and double checked. I documented. I documented. I documented. Mondays will suck. Fridays will make me weep. The biggest issue I am dealing with now is that I am supposed to be working with patients and families. I'm not. I'm taking direction from my team members. I'm pushing paper.

I am sitting here chatting with Steve while I write this and I just nailed it: I left the perfect job behind to move to CT and I left the perfect situation to move home.

I have an interview on Thursday afternoon. It's for a 24 hour position that I've already held once before. I'm feeling conflicted about sticking it out, working through all of this, and throwing in the towel. I'm not a quitter, but this is a. not what I thought it was going to be b. one heck of a commute c. maybe not the right thing to justify being away from my kids for 11 hours a day.


It's hard being away from this space for so long. The good news is that while I am away I am lost in reality. When I am not pushing paper at the hospital, I am soaking in the goodness of the ever changing landscape of my kids.

Tonight Connor was showing off, pulling himself to standing on his own to get a better angle on the Fisher Price piano. Yesterday he was pulling himself up onto my lap and then rolling over onto his back to get a better look at me. He's vocalizing like a crazy man, "baaa baaa!" I spent time holding him by the shore over the long weekend, gazing at the remains of Earl, his wide eyes taking it all in.

Caroline loved the first BC game of the year. We spent approximately an hour of the tailgate waiting in line to get a BC painted on her cheek while the 25 children in front of us had their faces painted in maroon and gold or for whatever reason a shark. She napped briefly with Papa, but otherwise she was sitting with Kelly clapping and cheering and keeping a watchful eye on Baldwin. That Baldwin, he's tricky. While waiting in the gigunda line for face paint, I tried saving her space while she went the line next door for the bounce house. Wouldn't you know that Mr. Mascot Baldwin chose exactly that moment to walk in and he of course positioned himself BETWEEN us making it impossible for her retreat to the safety on my arms. Wonderful.

We all sat on the deck Sunday evening, listening to the waves, enjoying one last meal together at the beach. We started going around asking Caroline what everyone's "REAL" name was and she obliged. She insisted I was just "Mommy" and when prompted with "Daddy says hey,..." her reply was "Soul Sister."

Oh the laugh tears that resulted from that one.

how many days until May?

It was the very best summer. It's not quite over yet,but in so many ways it already feels that way. I had so much time at our special beach this summer, more than I have ever had before. I have double the freckles I had in May. The kids rested in the ocean breeze. Caroline not only allowed herself to be partially submerged in the sea, but begged to "swim," even bragged about swimming. Her curls Shirley Templed themselves in the salty air. Connor discovered sand and decided he isn't quite ready to be a sand lover. They took walks together in a new stroller for two, side by side. My babies, each other's best friend.

There were many lobster feasts. There were late night conversations over red wine and pickle juice. I tucked my daughter into a bedroom she was overwhelmingly happy to share with Auntie k. I kept a light on in the hallway so I could see my son in one of his MANY overnight wake ups. We ate countless Hummies for breakfast. We watched Friday Night Lights SILENTLY - no small undertaking in this family. We alternately cheered for the Sox and threw our arms up in disgust. We searched for big rocks to keep the sun tent steady, we cleared rocks to have a sandy place to sit.

Every time we leave the beach, Caroline cries. She hates to leave. She loves it that much. When we go to the playground I remind her, "When it's time to go" and she reluctantly answers, "it's time to go." When we leave the beach I remind her, "The best part of the beach is that" and she says, "we always get to go back." She always asks me when that will be and I always have an answer. After next week it won't be so soon that she will be going back. My try at comfort will be for naught because summer must end. She must learn this. She must understand and yet, I don't want it to end either. The summer of our life together - the one that I spent with them hand in hand, day in and day out, must come to an end.

I think I will tell her to close her eyes and think of the beach, to really feel it. What does she hear? What does she see? What does she feel?

Can she hear the crashing waves? the barking of the neighbor's dog? the screams of the kids in the surf?

Can she see the endless sea from the deck? the table full of lobster butter droplets?

Can she feel the icy ocean water as she jumps waves with her Papa? the feel of the air in her face on the porch swing? the flick of the sea grass against her legs as she walks down to the steps to her most favorite place?

She's a beach bum Papa, you got her.

I'm thanking god we have BC Football to distract her.