plans

Leave it to me to spend part of our last day here on the Vineyard typing away, but it's better than watching the NFL draft which need I point out might be a mute point with all the negotiations going on? 'Nough said.

We've had a simply wonderful time relaxing, taking in the sights (and the Royal Wedding, which I was way more excited about than Steve), and eating as if someone told us these were our last meals on Earth and we better make them count. We checked out the sights up-island Thursday when a dense fog stretched out over the cliffs of Aquinnah and the only way we knew that the ocean was out there somewhere was the sound of the surf in the distance. The wind whipped so hard that I was afraid to go out on a rock jetty in Menemsha to shoot some photos for fear I would be blown off the edge. We took many many photos of buoys - they were everywhere - and we thought about our little nephew (still cooking!) who next year this time will be aware of his world and probably saying "Hokie" already.

We repeated our tour again today with clear skies sun and wearing shorts. We were astonished at the difference between the views, the sounds, the experience of the island. We explored this place more deeply and with a more mature curiousity than we ever have before. In the days of "weeks on the Vineyard" past we scoped bars, cheap eats, happy hours, live music. Our trips were mostly trinagulated to OB, Edgartown, South Beach and Katama. We sometimes took a ride up towards Aquinnah to snag a photo of those clay cliffs, but we didn't poke around much unless it was searching for that blue coffee can to pay our respects to Belushi in Chilmark along the way.

We made our way to Lobsterville Beach and decided it would a perfect place to let children play; a quiet, surfless, serene place with such limited parking that I cannot imagine how we could ever get there in time to snag a spot. We fell in love with Lucy Vincent Beach with its rough surf, scattered rocks and cliffs. I was only slightly paranoid that we were going to get stuck on the beach between rocks as the surf flew in fast during a high tide surge. Ok, I was freaked, but I loved it and I want to go back! I want to go back.

We experienced a different kind of Vineyard this time. It felt like our island. It wasn't uncommon for us to drive for miles without seeing a single car on the road. We were sometimes the only patrons at restaurants, the only ones poking around the Black Dog in search of t-shirts. We were amazed with the frenzy of activity happening here to get things ready for the high season. Construction, landscaping, cleaning, painting... it was a busy place with limited things open, but an energy, a buzz. I will never again take for granted those pristine white picket fences that line the Edgartown streets. I was a little put off when the number of visitors seemed to quadruple as Friday rolled in and we saw more people strolling the streets and more cars on the roads. The good weather forecast had brought more people like us and I didn't want to share.

It has always been a special place to Steve and I. We always felt a certain draw to this island that takes too long to get to and can be a challenge to deal with at high season or in bad weather. We like it here. We want to share it with the kids. We want to introduce them to it, give them a tradition that is just ours, create in them a spark to ignite a lifelong flame of affection for this place, provide them with the opportunity to experience that so close and yet so far away peace. It's doable. We're planning it for summer 2012.

It won't be like this trip. I won't read nearly an entire book in two days. We won't spend hours lazing just the two of us, but that's ok. Sometimes sharing something you love is just as wonderful... if not better.

Tenacious Caroline

This morning we were talking about skating on the way to school and I asked Caroline if she would like to go skating again this weekend. Thanks to school vacation there are no official Learn to Skate lessons for at least 2 weeks and that just feels like too long for a girl just starting to get the concept. She replied that she would and went on to tell me the following:

"I was walking all by myself and I knew that if I fell down I could get myself up because I knew I could do it. I knew I could do it in my brain."

She knew she could do it with her brain. She knew she could do it.

She's come a long way since her first lesson when she couldn't even stand up on her own, let alone "walk" on the ice. We watched her from behind the glass along the boards of the rink and I knew that Steve was feeling the same way I was, "did we agree to this too early?" "did we set her up for failure?" and the biggie, "will she stick with it?"

She came off the ice on lesson 1 after just 20 minutes, still smiling, but not able to hold herself up for any great length of time. We wondered if she would keep trying.

I missed the second lesson due to a rare weekend work requirement. I missed seeing my tenacious Caroline beat the snot out of her skating lesson. By all accounts it started rough, but by the end she was not only standing on her own, but walking along the ice by herself with her instructor right behind, just in case. There's a video of her doing it all by herself because she knew she could do it, she just didn't give up. She kept trying.

Never ever give up sweet girl. Life lesson conquered. If you put your brain to it, there is nothing you cannot accomplish. Can you say proud?

the one in which I eat crow

I destroyed our stroller. I was not paying enough attention as I backed the car out of the garage and I caught the handle somehow. I dragged it along with me until it reached the back of the garage where it stopped and I continued to move. I crunched a wheel. I didn't hear anything, in fact I thought I had just simply dragged it, until upon closer inspection this weekend it was painfully clear that I had crunched that wheel in a way that not even my engineer brother in law could fix.

I was sick about it, so mad at myself. I tried to repair it; needle nose pliers, hammer, tears.

I started trolling through craiglist in search of a sad replacement because I had destroyed the stroller and wouldn't you know that the boy, he loves that stroller.

This morning I phoned Peg Perego's spare parts department and asked if they might have a front wheel set available to purchase. Sharon absolutely saved me and said that they did in fact have a wheel set for our model and she could send it right out. I gulped waiting for her to tell me how much this new wheel would cost and when she said 21.95 including shipping I nearly cried.

Wow, you're thinking, this girl loves her stroller! Yes, I do love our stroller. It has served us well these last four years and even though we now have two children I have no plans to replace it. Caroline is in the very precarious "ready to walk all the time, but still tires easily and would rather be pushed" zone. We have developed a couple other options for family walks; mainly that Step 2 push car that she has been loving since I brought it home from the baby sale a few weeks ago. 12 bucks people, 12 bucks!!

It wasn't so much that we might have to replace our stroller, it was that I did something dumb that would require us to replace the stroller. It wasn't so much that I felt bad about doing something foolish, it was that my husband had not taken even one terrible jab at me for being so foolish. He had not made me feel bad about it for even one second and I knew that if the tables had been turned I would have been tsk tsking him for weeks. We would have been 85 sitting on the porch sipping ice tea laced with Metamucil and I would be all "dude, remember that time you totally rolled over the stroller! HA! That was awesome!" Instead my husband told me to stop trolling craigslist and pick something new, he told me not to settle, he told me to spend money to replace it. He told me to spend money! Do you know Steve? Do you know how much he hates to spend money??? The only person I know who likes to spend money less than Steve is Uncle Marc!

I told Sharon at Peg Perego about the whole thing and I told her that my husband had been so understanding and supportive and she said, "wow, he is really racking up the brownie points isn't he?" And you know what? He did. He totally did. He didn't make me feel bad and while I was super excited to only have to spend 21.95 to replace the wheel, I was more excited to tell him because he had been so awesome about the whole terrible thing.

I've tasted crow. I was wrong and you know what, that tsk tsking I tend to do, I don't think I'm going to do that anymore. That crow taste is going to linger for awhile.

little white lies or something more?

It's never good when you have your back turned for a split second (perhaps seeing which home in Maui the couple on Househunters chose) and your attention is jerked back to reality by a screaming red faced toddler and one guilty looking older sister. You didn't see what happened, so you are relying solely on the older one's retelling of the tale and it stinks like Friday's Fish Dinner.

"What happened?!?!"
"He hit his head."
"Where"
"On this" pointing to a door located far from the spot the tearful toddler now occupies.
"Caroline, Mommy will not be mad at you, just tell me what happened, I have to know what happened to make sure he is ok!"
"He hit his head"
"On what?"
"I don't know."
and on and on, no story ever adds up and she just gets deeper and deeper into her lie

"Mommy will never be mad at you for telling the truth, please just tell me what happened, did you hit him with that toy?" The toy involves a flexible plastic stick to launch spinning things into the air that she received in her goodie bag at a recent birthday party. Great idea for a four year old, but probably a bad choice for a 15 month old.

"Yes."

But I already told her I wouldn't be mad and ugh.

In just a few minutes time there was a thin line puffing up on the side of poor Connor's head that reached from hairline to nearly his precious beauitful eye. TRIPLE UGH!

I didn't see what happened, it was Maui afterall! So I don't know if they were fighting over it, if she whacked him, if he tried to rip it from her grasp and even without knowing how it happened, I just had to turn my attention to him. The story and even the truth didn't matter at that moment. Not even Maui mattered. He seemed fine, annoyed as ever with my attempts at putting an ice pack on the puffy line, but that sad puffy line.

I just don't know how this lying has gotten so out of control. I emphasize that I just want the truth. I have always kept my word and not been angry when the truth finally comes out - even if she is in the wrong. I tell her how proud I am of her when she does tell the truth. It isn't even just the big stuff that she lies about, she'll lie about just about ANYTHING these days. I just don't know how to get her out of this little white lie habit. Any ideas??

sounds of silence

On that walk I was talking about?

I strapped Connor into his stoller and asked him, "ready to go?" He nodded. The kid NODDED his head. Sounds simple, right? Except it wasn't. Since his ears finally cleared for the first time since NOVEMBER, he is responding to things in new ways, in ways he never did. He is hearing things we are pretty sure he wasn't hearing clearly before.

We tried three classes of antiobiotics. We had multiple ear checks. We endured many daycare colds. We sat through not one, but two doses of an injectable antiobiotic in a last ditch effort to FINALLY clear those ears. It worked, but I have an initial consult with an ENT at Children's set up for May.

Of course we've all been stricken with the evil last cold of the season and boy is it a doozy! I was out of commision for most of last week, in bed early and taking naps in the afternoon. Caroline has double ear infections and I have a hunch we are once again going to need to get Connor some of his very own antibiotics. If she has infected ears, it is probable that he does as well. That's just how we nuts roll.

November until March with fluid in his ears. Four months with the Charlie Brown adult voices around him all day. Four months living underwater. Four quiet months.

Since that last injection, he has piped up vocally. He tries new sounds. I hear sudden outbursts of "WOW!" from the other room. He comes tearing around corners making crazy noises and it makes me so happy and yet so sad. All this time that poor Connor missed in developing his language skills.

Tonight he ate like a champ and when I asked him if he wanted a "pop" he answered back, "pop."
That nod, it wasn't just a nod. It represents his leap into language made possible by clear ears that we hope to have back again soon.

seconds

When you have more than one baby finding the all important one on one time is challenging if not impossible. I try very hard to find little things Caroline and I can do "just the girls." Last weekend we planted some seeds into tiny planters; basil, sunflowers, parsley, tomatoes. Connor "helped" us pack the dirt on top of the little seeds, but ever since the great planting the tasks of watering, remembering to put them in the sun, and not forgetting them outside at night have fallen squarely on the ladies' shoulders. Let's face it MINE, but she helps. I try to find some special time each day to read with her. Sometimes she is into it and other times she wants less than nothing to do with it. We started reading Stuart Little when I put her to bed and she really seems to like that.

With Connor I find it more difficult to come up with this one on one time. That's mainly because he literally does not slow down. The kid has more energy than I could ever hope to have. He will occasionlly land in my lap to "read" a book, but mostly he wants a short check in for reassurance that mama is still there and he is off to clock his head into the media cabinet or bounce off a kitchen cabinet while not looking where he is going. Both of those things happen on a pretty regular basis and he constantly has a bruise somewhere on his head, usually with a torn up face from his sharp never smooth nails. He has a deathwish and I am preparing for an endless number of copays for his many MANY emergency room visits.

On Friday we fed the kids early and planned to order in for ourselves after things calmed down considerably in the house. Caroline settled in to watch a video and Connor was running around like a maniac. Steve was watching the Sox seal the win against the Yankees. We put on coats and I took Connor solo for a little walk. We saw a dog and he freaked; waving, cooing, straining in the stroller restraints to watch him after he was long behind us. Everyone here seems to have that invisible fence so we see a lot of dogs outside which is great when you have a Connor. I chatted with him, we waved at cars, other walkers, more dogs... until we came upon the first of two bunnies. Bunny was just hanging out in someone's yard, chewing on some grass, giving us the "oh crap they see" me stare. His eyes widened, he pointed and waved. I looked at him and said, "is this how bunnies eat?" and moved my nose like the bunny and he laughed. He laughed and I looked at him aware that these solo moments with Connor are so slim and that I have missed so much.

Could I ever really give him the attention and time I gave Caroline? Even with the best of intentions, I have not been able to. Connor would stroll from here to Mexico with me so long as we brought along his silky edged blanket, a binky, and take and toss Disney Princess cup. (He prefers them, so what?) We'll need to make plans to do this more often; one on one with the kids. Walks like this present an opportunity for one on one time for Steve and Caroline at home or if I take her, time for the boys to play together at home.

I try to be as present as I can, but with the two of them vying for my limited attention, it just isn't possible. It's hard not to feel like Connor has been short changed in some way, to not feel that pang of guilt. It hits deep and I worry that in my efforts to ensure that Caroline adjusts well to having a brother I may have somehow neglected to consider Connor as needing a bit more from me than she does in that regard. She's older, she's more acclimated to our family life, while he is still trying to figure out where he fits in and he needs me to show him.

He's been hitting, acting out. I think this would go a long way in working on some of that. A little more attention from mom, a little more time just us, some chances to hang alone with Dad, just them. It's important. It's worth doing. We need to do it more often.

Big boy!

He has abandoned his high chair- send reinforcements! He keeps trying to climb into the regular chairs. At least the booster is safer, but oh how I will miss the high chair. Another thing to bring to the attic. Each time we thought he wanted to get out, he would cry to get back in. Connor just loved sitting beside his big sister and Caroline actually asked to move to the other side of the table to be near him. Watching them side by side - yeah - that pretty much made my Friday night. That and the break and bakes I tossed into the oven.

Negotiations

I really refuse to argue with the kids about food. We hit a stretch for a bit when the kids were constantly sick that we were pretty much making "nuggets and smiles" on demand for Caroline each night. She isn't into spices so much and if anything has a hint of well doneness by way of char of any kind, even grill marks, she will not touch it. She doesn't want her food to touch other foods and oh, the pickiness.

We don't argue about food. I don't force bites, I don't punish for not eating. I'm just not that kind of parent. I don't want meal time to be a battle of wills and to be perfectly honest, I would like to enjoy a meal for even fivev full minutes without refilling  a cup, cutting more meat, collecting a fork off the floor, or listening to someone whine about the plate I have lovingly prepared for her.

I picked up this book last week at BJ's. I immediately launched us into slow cooker overload. Since I purchased it we have made three of the meals and they have all been amazing. (Huli Huli Chicken, Sausage Lasagna (OMG!), and tonight we did Barbecued Drumsticks. I felt like a super star. Tonight is TUESDAY. This meal was so easy to prep, so easy to complete and it looked like I had slaved away creating supper. The youngest member of the McFam could not get enough. He dove right into his chicken, ate baked beans off his spoon, and tore into his cornbread muffin. This meal was SO kid friendly and yet there sat his sister, ignoring her plate.

We use clear language. We emphasize choice. We reinforce that choosing not to eat dinner means there will be no snacks, no extra drinks. "THIS IS DINNER." Inevitably Caroline starts whining or crying and that is completely opposite the peaceful family dinner we had in mind. This leads to bargaining and negotiations that we do not want to have. She knows that the whining will usually get her to a "if you eat this portion, you can get your smile/popsicle" and boy, does that girl know how to work it. I wouldn't willingly stuff my pie hole either if I knew I could complain and get a lighter option.

Steve and I agree. We are NOT negotiating about food, but you almost cannot help yourself when she starts the whining train up because it seems like she wants to eat, but the plate is too overwhelming. I am careful about portioning out non-overwhelming amounts. I ask her opinion about how she wants it served. We let her choose her plate and her beverage of choice. You might say, just give her the nuggets, but most nights we draw battle lines over those stupid nuggets too. Tonight we drew a new line. You don't have to eat, but you also cannot whine about that choice. So off to her room she went, mouth half full of that tender juicy barbecued drumstick.

There were no snacks. No mention of them actually, not a single request.

On nights when she is hungry, Caroline is careful to announce loudly, "look, you're not asking me to eat!" Those nights are increasing in frequency overall, but I am done negotiating dinner. It's time we practice what we preach. I'm looking forward to sitting and chewing a meal in one sitting.

Dining!

There have been some photo updates over at McCasa.

Dining Room Afters

Just tonight Steve decided to rip down all the wallpaper in the main bathroom AT BATH AND BEDTIME. SO, There is more to come!