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!