and then again...

In lieu of the bus, and thanks to an early morning meeting, I had pre-planned to drop Caroline off at camp early this rmorning. She had the honor of being the first camper on camp this morning. Even though there was no line up, I could tell, this was a well oiled machine. Lines painted on the asphalt, counselors gathered to collect the kids from the cars and walk them to the lodge. She was skeptical, but with a hug from me and a playful tush swat I watched her walk away with a friendly counselor who get this - KNEW HER! on sight. Talk about reassuring.

I made it home in time to take my 8AM call. I should technically be there in person, but yeah, it's a long story and that just isn't going to happen anymore. So I took the call from the house, got kicked off for the medical director to call in, only to have a colleague call me on my cell phone from her cell phone forcing me to strain to hear the meeting. For 40 minutes. Until I suggested during a pause in the neverending banter that perhaps since the medical director had released the line, I could save us both some minutes. ahem.

I organized myself, made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich, grabbed a handful of cherries and a Coke and headed off to Watertown. BTW, that peanut butter and honey sandwich is something I have been craving since we watched a Rock Center with Brian Williams story about Romney and his "body man" last week. I had never had one before and WOW! My meeting in Watertown ran longer than expected and wouldn't you know that my other meeting was in Medford and had to be scheduled for afternoon because the patient was expectng the nurse that morning. Except that OH YEAH, the nurse bailed because her schedule got too busy and I could have gone there first and worked my way back down. Nothing annoys me more than these outlier visits, particularly when the bus from camp arrives at the designated lot at roughly 4:15, though it could arrive as soon as 4:07. I bolted from Medford at 3pm, encountered a huge traffic situation before I even caught sight of the Zakim, exited at the last minute to Storrow Drive, crossing myself in the process and begging the big guy to get me to the Pike. I flew, I felt victorious. Storrow to Pike, Pike to 95. Red lights. The whole way. I had given myself an hour plus and there was no way I was going to make it. There was no way I was going to make it. I begged the big guy some more, but I think I had already used my divine intervention quota for the day. I pounded on the steering wheel. I screamed. I mean, I literally screamed. And then. I cried. Tears welled in my eyes and I gave into the only plausible solution. I had to call camp immediately, it was just now 4pm, the kids were on the bus on their way and my iPhone traffic map showed red the rest of the way to my exit. I would never make it, this was a reality, and I had to act fast. No one would be there to get her and if I continued driving to try to make it, they would hold the bus only a few minutes for me before sending it on to the next stop, a stop I just happened to be near.

The camp acted quickly, efficiently, communicating to me immediately right then and there the exact location of the stop I needed to get to. I could hear them radioing the bus counselors to hold her on the bus. I hung up and cried some more because my little girl was going to lose it when they told her she would need to stay on the bus, that mommy wasn't there. I had failed her. I had failed her on day FOUR!

I made my way to the stop, waited an eternity, and saw her SMILING face leap off the bus.

"Mommy, can we do it this way everyday?"

No, Caroline, no we CANNOT.

and then

Day two brought swimming, a whole wardrobe change just because, pizza making, soccer playing, and her first "warm and fuzzy." What's a warm and fuzzy you ask? It's little pom pom, with feet and glasses and a streamer with the camp name that campers achieve for being brave, trying something new, being a good friend etc. They said, "if your child comes home with a warm and fuzzy, you can be sure it was a very special day for them." Caroline reported she got her for being good and being friendly and helping a friend who was sad. I'm proud.

It's been a bit of a struggle still to get the details and steve is struggling more than I am about knowing, or actually not knowing, how her day has been. It's good prep for school. There won't be a daily sheet about what she learned, how she behaved, if she ate lunch. I'm supposed to get a call from the division leader this week about how things are going. It is reassuring to know that if it wasnt swell, we would have heard by now.

I think we would have heard.

There is a lot of jealously right now. Connor didn't have a name tag to wear this week, or camp stories to share, he didn't go swimming, and he won't go fishing today. The kids were wrestling a bit last night and he bit her, on her face, and left her with a red mark just under her eye. He went immediately go bed, but I took note. I need to be better about asking what he learned today, how many paper airplanes he flew, who sat next to him at lunch.

This morning we stepped back beyond day one. There were not only tears, but also loud painful sobs. "this is the hard part!" The bus counselor took her hand and her backpack and I watched her drive away again, tear stained face and all. I jumped when my phone rang ten minutes later. It was camp and my heart sank. "it's camp calling to let you know that Caroline is already smiling and dancing."

To show just how much this new routine is affecting me too, I submit a short ditty we'll call "connor's choice." We left beloved g'raffe at school yesterday, just plum forgot him. I put tiger in his place this morning, just in case the giraffe was not in his school cubby. You should have seen Connor holding tiger so he could see out the car window when we got to school, showing him all the rooms, telling him which one was his cubby. There was g'raffe, left alone in his cubby, and Connor had to choose which friend would stay the day. He chose tiger and a little bit of me died because g'raffe has always been with us. He was caroline's before he was connor's and I just cannot handle another kid milestone moment this week.

teasing out the details

Day one ended the way it began, with tears on the bus. I waited in line to collect her and just as I got to the front of the line, they were bringing her down teary-eyed. She leapt into my arms and I gave her a reassuring "it's ok, day one is hard." She was calm by the time we got to the car and gave a quiet, "yeah," when I asked if she wanted to go back the next day.

We slowly, and I mean slowly, teased out the details of her day. "how were the counselors?" "good, I don't remember their names, but one had hair that went like this." okay. sigh.

The day seems to have gone like this.

Cabin to unpack the largest backpack ever carried by a five year old (I have a better plan for next Monday when she will need to do the big schlep again)
Removal of swimsuit because of the storms
Yoga (!!)
Lunch ("I ate it all!)
Story time ("I used the turtle towel")
Playground (I think they must have a teepee setup, but she is calling it an igloo)

In there somewhere were two snacks; apple with pretzels and OREOS, which she just loves.

She learned the "awesome song" and kept trying to spell it out, A-W-E-S-O-M-E, all night. I kissed her goodnight, pushed her curls off her forehead, and there it was "A-W-E-S-O-M-E."

Not a tear this morning, she is psyched to swim, thrilled to be cooking this afternoon. We are adjusting to another new normal on many fronts, but somehow getting it done. I can't wait to hear what today brings, but I'm hoping I'll have to do a bit less teasing to get some details.

the one about the first day of camp

We prepped, we tried no less than three backpacks, we dutifully labeled everything, we packed a lunch of her choosing, we braided hair into a side pony, and we took the obligatory "first day of" photo. She clapped as the car started, she teased her brother that he wasn't going, she whined at every red light on the way, and she raced back to the car from dropping Connor off at school. I read her the day's schedule, I reminded her that even if it rained there would be things to do, I assured her I would be there to pick her up this afternoon, I took a deep breath, I teared up when she exclaimed, "it was my day of school, and now it is my first day of camp, and I am so excited!" We parked, embraced Evan, waved to Abby, and then she got shy. First refusing to be in the first day of camp photo with friends and then, when the bus pulled in, she let go of all the anxiety she had been holding onto for five months and cried into my shoulder. Her friends raced to comfort her, hold her hand and she pushed them away. I walked with her in line line, holding her hand, Pointing out that the bus counselor's name was Ariel and wondering aloud if she knew Merida! I backed away as she got closer, heard her give her name loud and clear, and watched her climb up and onto the bus that would deliver ever so safely to camp in the middle of a lightening storm. I stood in the pouring rain, umbrellaless, watching her cry and shake her head no at me, all the while urging her on with a big smile and two thumbs pointed up towards the sky, hoping beyond hope that the bus would pull away soon and this part would all be over. She's on her way. It's raining. I fought every muscle in my body not to follow that bus all the way there. The summer's begun for her, a whole new chapter. I'm not sure what kind of girl I will pick up this afternoon, but it's a milestone nonetheless.

a little freakout is necessary

The interwebs are abuzz with end of the school year photos and posts; "how far we've come," chapters closing, new beginnings. I've been editing this little by little for weeks and briefly considering scrapping it because really Internet, do we need another sappy story about going to kindergarten? We probably don't, but I do. This here blog is my own little family history and graduating from pre-k, that needs to be documented. Yes, graduating from pre-k, camp, kindergarten. Big kid stuff. Lest anyone think I am coping remarkably well with the pending change and the upside down that will be our life next week, here is evidence to the contrary.

When Caroline got her kindergarten assignment, I ripped it open revealing a name of a person I had not yet met who would be charged with creating my daughter's first big kid school experience. I then drove it ceremoniously to school and let her open it again, telling her (since she cannot read) what it said. We now have a name for the elusive and mysterious "kindergarten teacher." I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to talk about her in reality and not just hypothetical. Last week, I sat with other parents at "partnering with parents" at Camp. I took notes, I compared kid stats (ages, towns) with parents seated around me, and I introduced myself to the transportation coordinator and apologized in advance for all the changes I will surely be making. I've been so impressed all along, but this one session really solidified my good feelings about my choice. Today, Caroline had "Transition Day" at her elementary school to meet her class and teacher. Of course they planned this for noontime because what could be MORE inconvenient? She did remarkably well, setting aside any concerns I had about the transition. My shy Caroline smiled, said hello to her teacher, and stated her whole name loudly and clearly. We met a few friends and she left on such a high that I cannot help but be over the moon excited for her. She graduates from Pre-K Wednesday and on Monday she will get on a bus for the first day of Camp.

Caroline is growing up and I cannot stop it or even slow it down. It's been happening all along, but suddenly, it feels like it is all going so very fast and poof, she's a girl.

They say it goes fast and you listen, but cannot possibly understand what they mean. Logically, you know it will go fast, but when they are so little and needing so much of you, you feel at times like it couldn't possibly go any slower. I have a five year old who just recently started taking an interest in dressing herself. All of you who have self dressers already, wow! You have my admiration and my sympathy. She seems to have an opinion about just about everything. She imparts her knowledge in great heaping spoonfuls and in the next moment cannot recall a single thing she did at school today. She loves her brother fiercely, with all her being, but loves to remind him that she is the bigger kid and he won't be joining her at camp. She pushes my buttons and I swear the neighborhood must think I am doing horrific things to my children.  She sits in time out on her bed and screams as if someone is plucking her fingernails off She follows directions, but seems to always be the first one in line when I ask them to line up in the morning to head downstairs. (That "line up" command is the best thing I ever found to cut the chaos and they obey immediately, amazingly, thank you school!)

Gone is my baby who sat quietly banging a wooden spoon to pan. She has left behind a gorgeous creature with striking brown eyes and lashes that go to infinity. Gone is the little girl who sucked her thumb, enter the youngest singer songwriter in history. My once cautious shy hide behind-er is now a big girl who holds my hand and giggles when people say hello to her. I can't recall the last time I got a request for "show," mostly because she can operate the Netflix app on the iPad better than anyone in the house who is capable of actually paying the service bill.

Kindergarten. I know. I am so flipping excited for her, but feeling so conflicted myself. I'm sure this is how all parents feel. I know I am not the first mom to go through this, nor the last, but this is the only time my first baby will ever leave preschool behind. I am not expecting it to be any easier when her brother turns five, god no! One thing at a time!! Geez. I want to cheer her on and hold her close. I am filled with hope and despair. I can only dream of who she will become and this first step, this first great step, makes me so proud. We got here! She made it! As soon as I smile, I tear up, sad that these simple years under our careful watchful eye and tender hearts are ending, the cruel unfair world awaits her. I have hope that I have instilled in her the knowledge and trust that mommy will always be there, no matter what, no item too small or silly, to hold her close, to listen, or just be there. No matter what. Even if she chooses to move to California or join a circus. If she allows me to celebrate her triumphs, or cares what I have to to say when things aren't so rosy, that's enough for me. I hope she knows someday that being her mother is my absolute privilege and honor. Go get that world Caroline. Take it by the unicorn horn and lead it the way you want to go, knowing mommy and daddy are always there just behind the corner waiting to share whatever small piece of it you are willing to grant. Dream big. Be brave. Stay the course. Be kind. You have all the tools, now go make it happen, just the way YOU want.

Father's Day

I asked and asked and asked some more, but steve would not commit to a Father's Day plan. When I saw a tweet earlier this week linking to with a list of fun things to do in and around the city, I sprung into action and quickly secured tickets to the Father's Day Lunch Cruise on the Spirit of Boston. Steve was game, it was downtown, the weather looked good, the menu seemed adult and kid friendly, there would be balloons and ice cream.

It was a total win, unless you count the nearly 10 minutes an exhausted Connor (an hour late on his nap) spent clawing at my face and pulling my hair. OR the little girl slipping and cracking her head open during the mass exodus. It was our collective worst nightmare, aside from a kid falling overboard, of course. Little girls in long flowy dresses with slippery fancy shoes walking down steep steps. She was ok. She did leave by ambulance, but I think it was most likely just for stitches. Just stitches. gulp.

I think we might have ourselves a little tradition here. It was spendy, but so worth it. We lucked out with a window table and the kids stuffed warm rolls into their bellies pointing out the sights in the harbor. Connor loved Castle Island so much he insisted we take a photo in front of it and not the skyline as planned. Caroline refused to get off the dance floor and even got Daddy to shake it for a few minutes. The balloons were intense, the kids decorated ties with fabric markers (Caroline wrote "Love you caroline" with no parental prompting whatsoever) and it just felt very special. Good memories. Happy Day. Tired kids. Napping Daddy.

"if I'm sweating, I'm still alive"

Ask and you shall receive.

I ran to my playlist again last night for the first time (thanks to the rainy weather this week) since Sunday. I still love it and I think now having run a race to these songs, I love it even more. It was the best mile and a half run I have had to date. We did a "family walk" before I ran solo with the kids and it was getting too late to run more than about 15 minutes. The kids always end up riding in the stroller when we go on these walks, which is fine. Last night Caroline walked the entire time, pushing her baby stroller, over a mile. Connor took my hand when we started and said, "I run with you Mama" and he did. He toddler ran along in front of us and I can't help but feel that "Mama's race" inspired that.

"if you are sweating, you are still alive"

I'm Shipping Up to Boston - from The Departed Soundtrack, Dropkick Murphys
Clocks - Coldplay
Hey, Soul Sister - Train
Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
Callin' Baton Rouge - Garth Brooks, Double Live Version
Rock and Roll (Part 2) - Gary Glitter
Without You - Keith Urban
Lose Yourself - Eminem
American Saturday Night - Brad Paisley
Chariots of Fire - from the motion picture soundtrack
Whatever it is - Zac Brown Band
Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall
The Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
Staying Alive - Wyclef Jean
Dream On - Aerosmith

The first song was a really good choice, the instrumental start really got me going, despite the misty rain. Clocks is the song that Seve and I were introduced to at our wedding, so I knew it would make me think of our family and propel me forward after the initial adrenaline rush of the start. Caroline used to sing Soul Sister to Connor when he was a baby. Dog Days are Over, worked for about half the song, when it got to the slower part I think I skipped the rest because I just needed something with a more consistent beat. Garth, love Garth, really moved me along. I only listened to about half of Rock and Roll Part 2, but it was ok. The beginning always gets me moving and the beat is a good one to run to with my stride. Keith Urban makes me think of Steve and I thought of them around the corner up ahead where I thought they would be at Centre and Bellevue. Eminem came on as I hit the stretch I expected to see Steve and the kids on and I was PUMPED up. When I didn't see them I thought I truly had lost myself in the moment. Brad Paisley, I love this song, it's just upbeat and fun. I finished to Chariots of Fire. I didn't plan it that way, I really thought I would have fast forwarded more and gotten to Dream On, but I think futuristically I might move Dream on to where Rock and Rock Part II is because that was where I needed the help.

The songs I didn't get to...

Whatever It Is makes me think of Auntie Colleen and Hokie because it is featured in their wedding video, but I also run really well to it. It isn't the fastest song, but the beat works for me. Suddenly I See I personally interpret as realizing after Caroline was born that this was all I really wanted to be, her mom. Gaga, please, no explanation necessary, especially this song. Wyclef, I just like it, I know every word and it reminds me of college.

I hope this might give you a couple more songs to consider including OR that if not these, you might consider not just putting in fast songs, but meaningful songs that have personal meaning and will help to remind you who is waiting for ou at the finish. I know that helped me.

so, I ran a 5K

it's true.

Perhaps you know that I have twice locked myself out of the house "going for a run." I tweeted that the world was trying to tell me something and that something, was that I am not meant to run. I never really understood running. I mean, why would anyone get dressed to run to absolutely nowhere? The few times I did try to get on the running train, it just annoyed me. I was sweaty and I couldn't breathe and it was terrible, WHY WOULD PEOPLE DO THIS?

I don't really have a whole lot of time for exercise, especially in the winter. I absolutely HATE being cold. I love making rich amazing winter stews and comfort food. I do not love what they did to my scale this year, the highest numbers I have ever seen. I just wasn't feeling very fit. In fact, I questioned how this was possible. I blamed the Whole Foods salad bar. I blamed my pants for shrinking in the dryer. I hypothesized in my head that my amazing mostly greens lunch was making me large. I blamed eating lunch at all.

I am not a big midday eater. Until recently, I would search the car for a granola bar or a bag of almonds for lunch. I realized that I was coming home famished without any energy to take on the night with the kids and I was snippy and ugh. So I started eating a good lunch. I felt great, more energized, more tolerant... but the pounds kept going up on my scale and the pile of illfitting clothes kept growing.

So about a month ago, Steve mentioned to Uncle Marc that I had randomly started to run at night after dinner. Something had to be done and I wasn't finding time to hit the gym. He was not exactly enjoying handling the kids solo during the insane time between meal and bed, but he was doing it. Uncle Marc sent me a link to a 5K he was running and I immediately sumbitted my information and paid the fee. I knew it was the only thing that would keep me motivated and you know what, it did. I'm pretty sure it wasn't that I wanted to hit a certain time, but that I didn't want to embarass myself and not finish the race. I ran while we were in South Carolina, I ran at the beach that really hot Memorial Day weekend. I fit in a run a few nights a week and I kept improving my distance and my time. The scale started to move just a tiny bit, but the clothes, I could wear some of them again. I bought an adorable running skirt with ruffles, more motivation. I found a hot pink visor to hold back the sweat from my eyes and make sure my family could spot me. I ran. I ran. I ran.

This past Sunday, I lined up with Uncle Marc, Amy and Courtney in the 8 minute mile group and listened to Rene Rancourt sing the National Anthem, penned in with 2000 other people, all running to nowhere. The gun went off and we started moving and I hit the play button on my phone. Off I went, in the misty rain, no turning back now, with the biggest smile on my face. Courtney had recommended the faster group to give myself some room and she was right, but man, it felt terrible to have everyone running by me for the first mile. I stopped for water at the top of a hill because wow, it was a HILL (nearly choking between gasps), and then once again to stretch my side because I realized I had been so tense in my upper body from the anxiety of doing this that my shoulders were practically touching my ears. My "if you are sweating, you are still alive playlist" was full of awesomeness and as I rounded the turn for the downhill (thank you jesus) finish, "Chariots of Fire" (HA!) was playing in my ears. I spotted my family, cut off several people, and didn't care, just to get to them. I grabbed Caroline's hand and took her with me, her screaming all the way, and we crossed that finish line together. I hadn't planned on celebrating my finish with a sobbing screaming girl, but that's how it was. "I couldn't have finished this race without you!" I told her. It was true. Just knowing Steve and the kids were there at the end, cheering me on, waiting for me to finish, that's what got me to that line. It felt good, I felt great, and there was free beer. I finished in 31:46. I'm pretty proud of myself. As Steve said, I couldn't even run one mile a month ago and I never truly ran more than three until the actual race.

I'm already planning my next race. I'm not sure if I will ever run the marathon I have on my life list, but for now, 5K is good enough for me. It means I am out there, being good to my body, making it work, and though I am not always a fan of doing it, I absolutely feel so much better after I am done... especially when both kids fetch me water and comment on how sweaty I am.

(please note adorable ruffled skirt)