girls night

Last Friday, after a very long week, Steve swooped in and saved the day by taking Connor to his two year physical when I got stuck at work. It was a terrible, no good, very bad week that tested us all and I was glad to kiss it goodbye and smack it on the behind.

The boys went straight from shots and a blood lead level test (seriously, vials and vials of blood from a two year old fingertip?!) to meet Uncle Marc for a BC Hockey game. I heard that the boy sat transfixed on Uncle Marc's lap (he felt betrayed by Daddy afterall) and even refused to meet the eyes of adoring older ladies because THE GAME, THE PUCK, THE HOCKEY! I heard this, but I was busy with my own evening. Some quick thinking earlier in the week when we shared with them the plans led me to plan a "girls night." It was more to brace her for the sadness I worried she would have when she realized she was not included in Daddy's plans.

So when I arrived at school to pick her up and reminded her we were headed out for girls night, she was stoked and her teacher's excitement that her Mommy was the best Mommy for doing something so special only widened her smile.

Never does your five year old truly look, sound, and act like a five year old girl more than when you are with her one on one splitting fries and dancing along with the background music. The conversation was limited, but she was more chatty than usual. She housed her mac and cheese. I even lived dangerously and told the waitress not to put her meal in ahead of mine. We had nothing but time. It was like a dining vacation. Just us girls was not only novel, it was dare I say, relaxing.

We went shopping after dinner for some spring updates and she had her first stint in a dressing room, making kissy faces at her half naked bod in the mirror. I thoughtfully indulged her with bermudas, skorts, and tees while keeping to the budget.

Since she was planning the evening, she had grand plans to watch a movie in our bed at home. Instead she promptly fell asleep in the car. I could hear her snoring over the radio. I carried her upstairs at only 7:30 and as I stripped off her sweater and sneakers she half awoke, "MOVIE!" So we made our way to Mommy's bed and bought Winnie the Pooh for $2.99 (LOVE YOU FIOS MOVIE NIGHT!). We got popcorn seeds in the sheets. I found one the other day and smiled.

Post movie, well past her bedtime, but not being helped any by the post shopping bonanza snooze, we snuggled together. Mommy and daughter, not a little girl anymore, nose to nose. We giggled. We sang silly songs. Thoughts, opinions (cherry is way better than grape), and questions that will only get harder with time. Do this more often I said then. It is worth doing. It means something, so much more than just dinner and a movie and the girls.

most frequenty

played with:

- dollhouse with additional little people accessories, barbie, fairies, calico critters, my little pnies, and princesses (it gets crowded in there)
- Melissa and Doug Felt Sandwiches (I suggest you specify no ketchup on your pb and j)
- Curious George Tea Set, Plates, Cups, and Bowls
- Baby Nursery
- The box Steve's skates came in which is referred to as "the suitcase"
- Anything to make a fort with (complete with two year old Godzilla who loses interest in building and stages a full scale takeover)
- Matchbox Cars ("I line them up!")


- "You're my best friend."
- "Happy Birthday to Car-o-ine"
- whatever his sister just said
- play hockey, on the ground"
- "snack?"
- "my cup?"
- "we go downstairs?"
- "iPad?"


- yogurt
- dried mango
- cheese puffs
- orange flavored dried cranberries
- brown sugar and cinammon pop tarts
- cinnamon raisin bagels with cream cheese


- "ABC"
- "Party Rock Anthem"
- "Just the Way You Are"
- something she makes up
- "elemenohpee"

Lessons Learned in The Car

The ride with the kids home from school is full of many things; screaming, whining, grousing, laughter, tears, requests, and sometimes quiet conversation. Topics range from attempts at "what I did at school today" all the way to "why mommy cannot retrieve a dropped anything from the floor of the backseat while driving." (My long winded exasperated explanation included Mommy getting into an accident and the police man asking why she took her attention from the road. Caroline's reaction was a complete breakdown that "Mommy would go to jail.") It doesn't help that we drive by a prison where "the bad people live."

Sometimes there are interactive demonstrations in which Caroline seeks a teachback of sorts. She taught me how to say apple in sign language one afternoon. "First you make a hook..." she began. "Now you do it, make your hook Mommy."

Connor looked up at the sky as I plunked him into his carseat on afternoon. It was dusk and he told me, "I see da' moon." He sees a lot out his window now and any place that catches his eye becomes "I want to go 'dere." Gillette Stadium. A shed. A post office. A large tree. A rural cemetary.

I also receive an education on driving from the back seat. They announce "Red!" "Green!" in a round of echo that begins with Caroline and is immediately repeated by Connor. Stop Signs get a rousing, "OCTAGON!" and "Oc-ah-gahn!" They also have opinions about other drivers on the road. "Go Car, Go!" (that's me.) "That car is not being kind, right Mommy?" There are endless Mommy and Daddy driving comparisons of course. "Wow Mommy, we got here way faster than Daddy does!" "How come you don't wear sunglasses like Daddy?" "Mommy, I'm HOT!"  or my personal favorite "Daddy never blows the warm air."

Caroline asks for Disney music. Connor requests any music. They bop along, sing along if they know the words, request endless replays of "she'll be coming round the mountain."

Mostly, my attempts to uncover the gems of their day are largely ignored. My ride home with them is most certainly the sparkling center of my day, even if there are tears and whining and requests for snacks and oh, for the love of GAWD, we are almost home. These little creatures judging my speed and use of turn signal are all mine. The night looms ahead of us, like a new day with that moon Connor is so good at spotting rising like a sun on a new day.

out of nowhere

Sometimes, an etch it on your heart memory pops out of thin air. We had one of those special spontaneous Sunday nights this week. An out of nowhere, for no reason fire. A dinner of ribeyes, planned, purchased and prepared to perfection by Steve. A fancy tablecloth spread over the coffee table. Red IKEA chairs pulled up for the shorties. 80's rock on Pandora. Dancing Caroline. Hockey playing Connor. All the time in the world to just sit and be. Sunday.

A cuddly Caroline wrapped up in my lap with a blanket bearing her name. Surveying newly hung photos of herself on the wall. Recognition that they are from before, in Connecticut, and out of nowhere; Reese. "I miss Reese. She was the best kitty. She died. I wish she could come home." We've never really talked about Reese in that context, yet here we were. I never said the word, died, yet there we were. The tears pooled in my hand cradling her face.

American Pie comes across Pandora (changed from 80's rock when I could take it no more) and I tell her this is Papa's song and Granda's song and Auntie K's song and it could be her song too. I sang it start to finish, barely audible I'm sure, and that little girl fell asleep on my lap, there in front of the dying fire, enveloped in love and bearing the sadness of a loss she was too young to recall or understand.

This Week in Video: "Day 5: Caroline's Fifth Birthday, The Big Top Benefit with Jenny the Juggler"

Caroline's Fifth Birthday was a very big deal. I blame Pinterest. Once I see something with my very own eyes and think, "I could so do that," it simply has to be done. I'm not one to pin and run. No, no, no. I pin and feel completely obligated to produce results. Thanks to Auntie Colleen for the pre-party footage, which also serves as a pretty nice review of things we have accomplished in McCasa thus far.

& after everyone had made a treat bag for the dogs at the shelter, and filled their bellies with pizza (except for Caroline who asked me just before cake for a "teeny, tiny slice of pizza") Jenny the Juggler arrived! & all was well & all were throroughly entertained. There was juggling (of course), magic, a sweet bunny to maul, balloon "rocket mice" for everyone, & face painting. If there hadn't been actual cake, she would have been the icing, but she was pretty darn wonderful & we were so lucky to have had someone as special as Jenny. See for yourself, she is pretty amazing. Want to see more? Jenny The Juggler

This Week in Video. Day 3: "Because I know."

Picture it. McCasa. Christmas Eve Night. Pre-Bedtime antics. Excitement bubbling over and a little brother unwilling to accept that St. Nick might come to his house.

This Week in Video. "Day 2: Frozen at School, Flashy at Home"

This was Caroline's Holiday Concert at Preschool. You can't find her in that crowd of adorable singing children? She is very easy to spot. See over there, on the right hand side, in the front. See the ONE kid NOT dancing, nor singing, nor looking pleased at all to be there. Yup. That's Caroline.

The concert at school was two days prior to this video. In the interim, she spontaneously serenaded Uncle Marc and Kelly's family with "Jingle Bell Rock." This was before Kiki and Papa's Pre McFamily Holiday Party on Christmas Eve. We have no idea either.

This week in video. "Day 1: From This, To This"

I always have PLENTY to say, some might even say TOO MUCH to chat on about. I'm dedicating this week to some sights and sounds around here. There is LOTS to see.

From This in December:

To This in January:

a complete handful

As of today, Caroline will for the first time utilize her thumb to visually represent her age. Today our baby turns five years old. This is the point in writing this that I read and re-read that line over and over, staring at it blankly. Go ahead, you can do it to, I'll wait. I'm patient like that.

Yesterday, on the morning of her last day of being four years old, I snuggled with her in bed a bit longer than is advisable for a Friday morning. This later required "breakfast in the car" and resulted in a very sticky strawberry nurti grain bar covered brother, but it was worth it. I stared at her profile, tracing her button nose and lips against the window shade behind her. I inhaled the smell of her curls. I pulled her body close and the T Rex she had received the night before from uncle bubba roared making us both jump and explode into a chorus of giggles. We played a rousing game of "poke sleeping daddy" and when I couldn't wait another moment because good lord were the little einsteins almost to the point of rescuing the princess puppet already? I reluctantly pulled myself away from her and to the shower.

It's been a long week for various reasons both professional and personal. Steve's been trying to talk serious work stuff and I have been all, "hold on, I'm cutting these pennant flags." He's been all "what's a pennant flag?" and I've been all, "why don't you follow me on pinterest?"

Caroline's fifth birthday exploded into an epic event, involving nearly all her friends from school, short people belonging to our friends, and adoring family. There was entertainment, decor, a charitable theme, and two birthday cakes because BJ's wont do white whipped frosting on a full sheet cake. Last night I started to wonder what to include in this post and it occurred to me that perhaps maybe all this party planning was a way for me to cope with my utter denial that I have a five year old. Just maybe.

When I heard her whine from her bed this morning, instead of waiting for her to come to pattering into our room, heft her stuffed friends who slept with her up onto the bed, and then hoist her body up and between Steve and I, I jumped out of bed and went to get her myself. I had been up since six worrying about the party anyway. She jumped into my arms, locked eyes with me, the pregnant pause, and then, "FIVE!" She beamed sunshine from her soul, from the deepness of her curly hair covered eyes to the grip of her legs around my waist. We lay in bed us three for a few minutes and then I got up and retrieved her brother who immediately said, "Caro-ine Birthday!"

She had the most amazing time at her birthday, surrounded by her school friends and most of her extended family. There were nametags, doggie treat bags, popcorn, ringmaster mustaches on sticks, clown noses, a silly juggling clown of course, a real live bunny, face paint, balloons, and ice cream. Steve and I feel like we pulled off a birthday miracle!

I watched her soak in applause as the special helper to our entertainment with a smile on her face. Just a year ago she would have needed one of us to sit beside her, shield her from the attention, and the cheers. No, this year our Caroline sat on the sofa, piled between friends, legs crossed. Friends.

When everyone sang "Happy Birthday," I had to hold back tears. Our big girl, kindergarten bound, all the faces of the kids we have come to know, her first not introduced by mom and dad friends, singing to her in unison. It was just so overwhelmingly wonderful.

Before I put her to bed we had to wipe off the painted rainbow and heart from her face. The tears rolled down her face and she didn't have to tell me that it wasn't because of the paint. We both didn't want this day to end.  She cried on my shoulder and when she faced the mirror to brush her teeth, the sight of her freshly cleansed cheeks made her look away.

I took her to bed and decided this was the night I would tell her about the day she was born. I told her how much we loved her before we met her. I whined to her about her impossibly late arrival.  I marveled at how beautiful she was when she was born. I told her I had loved her the instant I met her with all of my being and everyday since, and that for the rest of eternity she would be always be my most favorite girl.

You know you love your babies the moment you meet you, you love them more and more each day. & then one day, you can talk with them, joke with them, tell them about the day they were born and they understand that you are telling them more than details, that you are pouring out your soul and they will reach up and wipe away your own grown up tear. The snuggle you have at bedtime with a five year old girl is very different than the snuggle you have with a one, two, three, or four year old girl. It's every bit as special, but so much more. I could tell in that snuggle tonight that we may be oil and water at times, but she and I will always be a team. You and I Caroline, we will have some tough times I know, you will do things and I will do things and we will slam doors and give each other the cold shoulder, but at the end of the day, let's always have that goodnight moment where everything is as it should be.

Happy birthday big girl. You amaze me and make me a better  me.

the one about the night I realized they would always be ok

A few nights ago we started the bedtime routine and I casually picked Connor up from the playroom floor for his tub and headed for the stairs. As is usually the case, he interpreted this as me ripping him viciously from his usual activity of an hour straight hockey extravaganza. (last night he impressed uncle bubba with an across the room snapshot with such speed and accuracy that it led his to ask, "where will he be playing in college?") Since the kids don't take tubs together anymore, we usually divide and conquer simultaneously. This means I take the little one and Steve lounges on the bed reading twitter while Caroline belts out the little mermaid (or more frequently made up songs that surprisingly make sense). please note, I still do this all the time. In the car yesterday, "gotta call the son, he's not very fun, I gotta call her son."

On this particular night, we were awaiting a kiki and papa drop by regarding the big top curtains. (curtains are amazing btw! She took my simple red and white ikea semi sheers that I had thought we could "maybe do something with" and turned them into something so fab. The true focal point of the room!) So I put Connor to bed and Caroline listened for them at the door.

Caro and Con are true hybrids of Steve and I, perfect little mixes of our quirky traits and expressions. Caro: hot bod, sweaty sleeper a la daddy. Con: ice cold feet when we unzip his sleeper even with socks on courtesy of mom. Caro shares my ability to fall asleep the instant her head hits the pillow. Connor could sit up for hours, quietly, just not ready to sleep.

So on this night, long after Connor was put to bed, his sister prepared herself for sleep and Steve walked by connor's door with a sleepy Caroline only to hear him still wide awake singing "abc." Adorable, but this was a full hour after he had been sung to, snuggled, kissed, and put down.

Here is where I have to note that we totally unplugged the monitor downstairs. We keep it on in our room overnight, but otherwise, what we don't hear doesn't seem to be hurting anyone. Steve has much better hearing than I do and at some point went up to check on them and Connor was whining. Caroline from the other room, in her own bed, "it's ok bud, you're going to be ok." from her own bed.

We celebrated and gave air high fives. Our kid stays in her bed! Sure, she shuffles still asleep into our room to hop into bed with us and demands, "tv," but we never hear the patter of feet who should be attached to a sleeping person roaming around up there.

Greater than that though is the comfort it brings me to know that the genuine love between these two is real and meaningful. They may fight over trucks and we may have to break up wrestling matches begun by one of them falling on top of the one ball the other one wants. They might resent each other's birthdays (a certain two year old is certain he is still the birthday boy). They are siblings with rivalries and disagreements and yet, they are so full of love for one another. Connor awoke this morning and I watched him leaning over the side of the crib, "caro-ine!" and she yelled back "Connor!" They continued on like that for several minutes, until I gave her permission to race in there with me to get him. When he is napping on the weekend, she at first enjoys the silence, but after a short time we find ourselves answering "when will Connor be awake?" We have finally reached the point where Connor will sit still to read a book (obsessed with Jan brett's "the mitten" right now) and I can put one of them on each leg and we can all yell "badger!" together. They are a team and even when I cannot be there, I know they will always have each other. These two could not be more different most times; whirling high sticking hockey crazy menace and quiet dollhouse role player and yet, in the quiet moments they sit together to build a fortress, color, make a puzzle, or flip through books it is clear that they are very much the same in that they more than anything else, enjoy having each other. Our dynamic duo.