Tag Archives: Claire

Climbing Indoors, Candy corn, and Claire

When I say climbing, I don’t mean the kind you do with a dynamic kernmantle rope (ahem, Brian has a lot of gear in the garage).   I mean the kind you do on a regular basis up the stairs and in the case of my children, on their new indoor playground.  Case  and Claire are blessed with enormously generous grandparents who shower them with toys and clothes constantly (to say they really do not want for anything would be a gross understatement)[we are so lucky -believe me I know!].  One set of grandparents the kids happen to live with and so the outpouring of love (or some might even venture to say ‘spoiling’) is done on a daily basis.  The latest toy/awesome gross motor tool that now graces my in-law’s back porch (turned playroom/workout room) is a giant, outdoor jungle gym.  They found it on craigslist and actually happened to know the sellers from the YMCA (obviously) and bought it.  The thing needed a major cleaning so Lee and I spent half a day taking it apart and giving it a thorough scrubbing  (I mean, like lots of elbow grease and spiders).  We then spent another half a day figuring out how to put the damn thing back together (exaggerating (a little)).   Side note: I wish we had video of the two of us using a rubber mallet trying to slam this massive playset together – cue expletives.

We finally did get it together again and the kids are all over it. And, although it’s frowned upon at school (for safety reasons), we encourage Case and Claire to go up the slide.  Like walking up a steep hill, it strengthens the muscles in your quadriceps (which are very weak on Case) and because the incline on this slide is really steep, he needs to pull with his arms to get all the way up.  It has a tunnel which we have to bribe Case to go through as his weak hip flexors make it difficult for him to pull his legs up into it and then putting all the weight on his arms to get out is equally challenging.

Perhaps you’ve already guessed what we’re using as a bribery tool… I can’t help but buy a bag when its staring right at me at the checkout line in Target and the kids can’t help but want it (Brian too).   Terrible thing, this holiday we call Halloween!  But using  small pieces of candy is incredibly motivating for Case and so I vow to myself to brush his teeth a little longer each night if he makes it through the tunnel two more times or up the stairs without as much fuss. Side note: We also use candy corn as a reward for going on the potty (I refer to it as peepee candy – appealing, eh?).  We put it in the zipper closure ziplocs and make Case open and pull “one” out or we also have an old bouillon cube container with a screw on lid that we make Case hold and unscrew (this is still pretty challenging).

You may notice in the photos that Case has things around his ankles. Although it could be some sort of odd fashion statement (not sure what the statement would be), they’re actually just 1lb weights which we’ve been putting on him when he’s around the house to help strengthen his legs while he does every day activities.  He’s getting around much better in them and I’m thinking of upping the weight to 1.5/2 lbs. Case minds them a little but doesn’t have the fine motor aptitude yet to undo the rather strong velcro  and pull them off his heels so he’ll endure it until he masters that skill (and I’ll be proud when he does!).

Finally, I had to share a few recent photos of Claire in honor of her first birthday.

The photo where she’s holding the landline phone perfectly captures the ever-present ‘tude that this girl has ALREADY.  We are in for it, I’m afraid!  The other photos are of her newest trick which is to play peekaboo with her hands over her eyes.  She showed off all her new tricks at the doctor’s office (labeling body parts to the head, shoulders knees and toes song and repeating almost all the words Case knows!) on Wednesday for her well-baby to which her smitten doctor echoed me in saying, “Uh oh, Brian is in for it with this one!”.  She is certainly a spitfire, but every time I begin to think how can I parent two totally different children I remind myself that she is the perfect prescription for Case.  He’s got a little sister who won’t take no for answer and who is going to stick up for her brother tooth and nail.  Not to mention that Case now goes up the slide willingly because Claire does it first.  In our house, a little competition is definitely a good thing!

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As many of you already know, I am not very shy when it comes to talking about anything involving bowels and their movements; my own and those belonging to my family/close friends (even sometimes acquaintances). And, because I laughed out loud (by myself) after today’s experience, I figured for those of you equally comfortable talking about poop (and dealing with it too – which is most moms, I’d venture to guess) well, you might find it funny too. Disclaimer: I am about to regale you all with story about poop – if that’s not something you can stomach (or frankly don’t want to!), stop reading as I do get a little graphic with my descriptions.

This tale is not about my own poop. Rather, it’s about the poop of my two sick bambinos. Last night was a bit of horror in that no one really got any quality sleep due to congestion, coughing (both Case and Claire) and diarrhea (on Claire’s part), so, like a good YMCA childcare user, I sacrificed my workout this morning for the better of everyone’s children and kept the kiddos at home. However, by 9:30 am, we were antsy, so I decided to take another trip to Blue Bird Gap Farm with the kids (we had just been there last night!). This is my new favorite spot to venture to, by the way, as its small enough to see a lot without having to trek too far to each section, but big enough to make if feel like its a special trip (oh and it’s FREE).

We were having a grand-old-time gawking at the noisy ducks and turkeys, feeding the goats and two lively alpacas (which Case kept referring to as ‘Elmos’ – not sure why!?) and reaching our hands over the fence (and then being hoisted by moi) to pet the horses and cows, when I realized that we were approaching the witching moment – the moment where the pleasant, idyllic morning turns into frenzied-must-get-home-to-feed-them-lunch-before-they-turn-into-crazy-people (also the exact moment that I curse myself for not restocking my diaper bag chock full of snacks to postpone inevitable ‘hanger’ (hunger and anger together – something we experience a lot in our house). But we hadn’t yet made it to the perfectly Case and Claire-sized-playground where I had planned to work play with Case on some stairs and try and squeeze in the morning PT (and let Claire do her thing). So I quickly herded the cats kids over to the playground and excitedly spoke of what fun it would be to climb up those stairs and slide down that slide (four or five times in row).

The two began climbing and Claire made it to the top first where I hurriedly ran over to make sure she was, in fact, going to go down the slide in a manner which didn’t involve her landing on her head (and good thing because she was preparing slidetakeoff in what I like to refer to (for Case) as “Superman style” (head first on belly)). [Side note: Sometimes we force him to go down that way so that when he gets to the bottom he has to use his arms and core to get himself off (arms are very weak and core the same).] I quickly repositioned her to go feet first on belly (I don’t have a fun name for that mode of slidetransport) and in the time it took me to do that, Case still hadn’t yet made it to the top. When I went back to coax him up the rest of the way I smelled why. Now, as another sidenote, we are doing VERY well potty-training (if I keep on top of it, which I’ve gotten accustomed to doing) and Case rarely poops anywhere but the toilet. Not today, people, not today. And this was not just any old poop. It was sick poop. The worst kind of smell, so terrible it makes me a little gaggy just thinking about it (and that’s saying nothing of it’s runny (yet sticky?) consistency). Ok, I’m getting a little graphic even for me. Anyway, it was bad. Luckily, I had had the presence of mind to bring the stroller with me, therefore I strapped Claire in and marched (well, he waddled) to the… we’ll call them facilities. Now mind you, this farm has no admission (it’s free, remember!) – it’s part of the Hampton Parks and Recreation commission, so while it is a really great local outing destination it does lack in the arena of amenities/facilities. The bathroom was not only very small, it was very hot and without any air conditioning. So, picture this: we’re now hangry, poop-covered (well, Case anyway), and hot. And, as I’m beginning to pull down his pants I realize that we are being swarmed by flies and I think, duh, we’re on a farm, of course there are flies swarming – I might as well be cleaning up manure in here. Anywho, I get Case out of his poop-covered shorts and undies and into an alternate pair (I always have one extra change for each of them – one extra change, that’s it. Keep that mind.) and then I promptly toss his soiled stuff in the ziploc that his change of clothes was in (handy dandy). I realize half-way through clean up that Claire is crying (not only because she’s hot and hangry) but because she too is being swarmed by flies because she too has done the deed in her own pants, well diaper. Thankfully, it was in a diaper.

So I get Case finished, plop him in the stroller (he considers this a treat) and then move on to what seemed like a whiz – a regular old diaper change – sans diarrhea, just a little turd (or I believe as I referred to it while chatting with them – a turdlet, “Ooo, thank goodness, Claire’s only got a turdlet!” (or something like that)).

Finally we finish and I wash everyone’s hands (again taking turns strapping them in the stroller to do so) in order to get off both poop and any extra animal saliva I inevitably missed after we’d fed our friends. The kids are relieved to be out of the bathroom and excited to head back to the playground, I decide (stupidly) that we’ll do one more trip up the stairs and down the slide and then we’ll skid addle. This time, Claire heads to slide (she often prefers – like many climbers do – to go up the slide and down the stairs) and Case heads to the stairs. I’m watching both and am relieved when I see both reach the top at the same time. Now to get Case down the slide and Claire perhaps to follow and we’ll leave. Nope. I smell it again. I check my hands thinking, how could I have possibly missed poop on my hands (I washed them three times!) and then I glance at poor Case. His eyes say, “Really sorry, Mom,” but his body is headed for the seated position to get down that slide (once and for all!). I grab him before he has the opportunity to sit in his mess and think to myself – I really should always bring two changes of clothes. I strap Claire back in the stroller while I try to make sure Case doesn’t sit in his mess and this time, I head straight for the car. Lucky for Case my new yoga mat was in the trunk so I pop open the trunk and lay it out. Claire is now crying in a fit of hanger so I attempt to divert her attention with her water bottle while I hoist Case into the trunk and as I’m doing that I realize this poop (poop number 2) has not been contained by his undies and shorts. Oh no. It is now down his legs and pooling in his little Keens. I gag. I’m usually pretty good, but this was just nasty. The poop smell coupled with Claire’s now screaming just about sent me over the edge until I realized this will be funny when I share it with others and you will laugh after its all over so suck-it-up-sista. Which I did.

Lucky for me, I had an old pull-up in the diaper bag so Case got to go home pantsless (and shoesless for that matter) but not before he stuck his hand onto his poop-ridden leg and wiped it on my new mat (my brand new mat!). Luckily the movement of the car lulled the two into a state of diarhea induced exhaustion (but not sleep, so naps were not compromised!) that is until I smelled the smell again as I was pulling into the driveway and realized Case had gone once more. The diaper did a much better job of containing than his other bottoms but not quite good enough so his carseat cover needed to be washed (little did I know I’d just be able pop it into the load I’d be doing later containing his poop-soiled bedsheets after his nap!) Thankfully, Brian was home when we arrived (again poop-covered) and was able to scoop up Case while I quickly got Claire something to eat and after one of the quickest lunches ever eaten, both kids went down for naps. Sweet relief cause I was pooped (pun intended).

In the event of your own pooptastrophe, repeat over and over in your head :

Someone will think this is funny.

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The Happiness Advantage

Lately I’ve found myself thinking like a glass-is-half-empty-kind-of-girl and that doesn’t really jive with my normally sunny disposition.

After all, friends (and my husband) are always telling me how much they miss my laugh (me too!).

Brian sent me the this link to a podcast: The Happy Secret to Better Work  a few days ago and not only did I laugh out loud while watching it (Shawn Anchor has some pretty good comedic timing for a Harvard guy!) but I found myself thinking about it afterwards and making yet another  fake-lent-resolution to practice at least one of his steps in creating lasting positive change.  Those steps are:

1.  Three gratitudes – At the end of the day writing down at least three things for which you’re grateful

2.  Journaling – spending time writing to yourself daily

3.  Exercise –  of the physical kind – enough to work up a sweat and feel like you’ve accomplished something

4. Meditation – having more than a moment when you’re disconnected (from everything!)

5.  Random acts of kindness – even if it’s writing a coworker an email on a job well done

The key to practicing these exercises is to do them every day for at least 21 days (you know, however long ‘they’ve’ found it takes to form a habit).  So my goal from this post forward is continue practicing the  physical exercise step (perhaps making it even more regular with doing something active EVERY day) but also adding another step (i.e. gratitudes, or random acts of kindness) to the mix.

As soon as this Shawn Anchor spoke of the random acts of kindness I immediately  thought of my good friend, Lea, who practices many of the steps already.

She’s been known to swing by my house (when we lived close (big sad face!)) and bring me a Starbucks (grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip (ahem, there’s a reason my husband is concerned Claire might be high maintenance)) and a new pair of earrings, or I’d come out to my car from grocery shopping and there’d be a note on it saying she’d been at the bank and seen my car and just wanted to say hi or constantly paying for our big girl’s nights out (and not just me, but for all the girlfriends) and yes she’s got the bucks to do it, but she’s no millionaire and it’s that kind of random kindness that seems to give her her happiness advantage, but also makes the people around her happier too.

And I’d say, one of the biggest things I struggle with with my kids every day is trying to stay positive so that they’re positive.  If you’re a mom, you get it.  When I’m frustrated that Case is taking an inordinate amount of time to get out of his bed or get down the stairs, he senses my frustration and lack of patience and it makes it more difficult for him (not only is it hard to do that stuff but now Mom’s frustrated that I’m taking too long and I don’t want to do it anymore so I’m going to sit down and cry (I assume is what’s going on in his head)).

But I know that even if he were a normally developing kid I’d get frustrated with him (he is in his terrible twos!) and my lack of patience/frustration would have the same affect.  Both he and Claire are so attuned to my mood that it’s imperative I give myself the skills to not get so frustrated because at the end of the day I’m not the only one that’s affected by my unhappiness.  And especially for Case,  I believe when he feels like he’s got a momma who’s (more times than not) positively motivating him,  it really makes a difference is his progress.  For a kid who’s not self-motivating (yet!), my positive energy goes a long way.

So in order to ensure I keep this gig up (of being a positive force and source of motivation), I’m going to start writing down three things I’m grateful for each day (even if one of those things is my  grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip) as well as practicing one random act of kindness (just like my friend, Lea) and emails to coworkers, as Shawn suggests, won’t do here as Case doesn’t check his email too frequently and Claire doesn’t even have a smart phone, pfff.

I’ll keep you posted.  Literally.

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One more photo

I had to share this one last (auto setting) photo of Case at Bluebird Gap Farm (a free ‘zoo’) in Hampton, VA, just a few minutes from Brian’s parents house.   Brian and I  took Case and Claire there a couple of weekends ago (when it was actually really cold here in Virginia not like now when it’s 80 and sunny!).

You get what you pay for I guess (as the place wasn’t all that impressive, note I did not include a link to their website), but we did get to show Case a REAL cow, and sheep, and llama (not that we’re quizzing him on identification of llamas and their sounds these days, but the others we are) and so it was nice to be able to show him that those ‘things’ that we’re painstakingly making him identify over and over again in his books and puzzles actually do exist in real life.

He got a kick out of the goats especially and in the photo below he’s just been nibbled by the sheep behind him.




[Look at the happiness on his face in that photo.  If I could bottle up the joy he exudes I definitely would (mostly so I could give it back to myself when we’ve had a hard day or we’re practicing going up the stairs for the upteenth time!).]


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My birthday present and a trip to the ER

As a birthday present to ‘me’, Brian did the research and bought us a new camera.  The kind where the lens’ cost more than the actual camera itself.  The fancy kind.  He bought a Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D with a really big hunkin’ lens.

We have been spoiled by our resident  (‘amateur’) photographer, Erin, my sister-in-law, who dubiously photographs all of us with her own fancy camera every time we see her for holidays or visits.   But we decided, especially after a particularly memorable trip to the swings, that we’d like to be able to capture those moments beautifully too (the ones in between visits with Erin!) and however handy the iPhone is and however remarkable the camera is, it’s really got nothing on our fancy one (although the fact that I would never refer to my iPhone as ‘hunkin’ makes it a tad bit easier to always have around, besides the fact that it’s like an extra limb and IS always around).

And you’d think that a post about getting a new camera would be filled with lots of lovely photos of all those most recent beautiful moments.  Well, below are a few but I’ve taken them by purely relying on all of this camera’s fancy Auto setttings that make it pretty much impossible to take a terrible photo, while I try to make the time to watch the dozens of video tutorials my husband has loaded onto my iPhone, iPad, and computer (he says, so if you have any spare moments you can just pull them up and watch them – ahem, he really does NOT understand what I consider ‘free’ time).

Case at Long's ParkCase looking through tunnel at Long's ParkClaire in her activity thingy at Mor Mor's HouseClaire with Mor Mor at Gigi'sCase with GigiCase scared on mowerCase tickled on mower with DaddyClaire with momma at Bluebird Gap Farm

But, in his defense, I do want to learn about all of this cool new toy’s capabilities – because it has LOTS, and I can’t seem to find my way with just the 230 page manual (that I’ve been reading in my ‘free’ time).  Mostly because I really love looking back at them and knowing now that I’ll be able to capture the real joy (and fear) on Case’s face as he races around on the riding lawn-mower with his Papa or his Daddy, or capture Claire’s ear to ear grin and practically hear her belly laugh when her Aunt Erin throws her in the air, or see the love in the eyes of my Mom and Grandmother as they spend some rare quality time with their grandchildren/great-grandchildren. Being able to more accurately (and beautifully) capture all those moments makes watching those damn (dry) video tutorials worth it.

In the meantime, I’ll share some more dramatic photos that weren’t taken with the new camera.   Because when you’re headed to the ER holding an ice pack to a screaming two year old’s head so he doesn’t bleed everywhere, you’re not really thinking about grabbing that big ass new camera.  You’re mostly thinking,”self, please don’t pass out”.

Case with Momma at the ERCase with stitches (right after - note the sweat from being restrained!)Case the party boy in the ER waiting room (yeah, I'm pretty sure he's over his fall)

Case (inevitably) fell on Monday night and split his head open.  He didn’t trip over anything (just his own feet, as per usual) and didn’t get his hands out in time (as per usual) and hit the the sharp part of the TV speaker on the floor (all of this right before bath time).  So after a whirlwind trip to the ER with me and Papa (Omi stayed home with Claire and Aunt Erin)he was back at home in bed by midnight with four stitches.

As you can imagine, Case gets a little worked up around anyone looking even remotely medical (especially after our big stay in the hospital in January and emergency ear tube surgery) so having company (in Papa) to help distract/restrain Case was really REALLY nice.   In general, Case was a good sport (saying hi to any and all of his fellow ER mates) and now he’s got his first of probably many scars!  Let’s hope his hairline doesn’t take after his father’s and we might be able to cover it for a while.

‘Til something else dramatic happens, or I get my act together and start actually planning my blog posts – may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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I’m back, finally.

As my first post back since 28 April 2011 (um, wow, it’s really been awhile… how does that happen?!) I figured I’d post a few photos (easy transition, right?) to update all of you on our newest member of the family (using the word ‘new’ loosely here, people, because she’s 4 1/2 months old).

Making her blog debut, I introduce you to Claire Ainsley, born 2 October 2011 after a short (and natural!) labor.  She weighed just 5 lbs 12 oz and is now up to 15 lbs 5 oz.  She is in the 90th percentile for weight and 80th for height (so let’s just say she’s a little on the husky side…and leave it at that).

As her great grandmother put it (after spending a few weeks with us), Claire will never be second in line.  She is her mother’s daughter, both a fighter and highly emotional (the second trait being one of Brian’s least favorite in me) and she is a bright-eyed, chatty, young thing.  She rolled over for the first time yesterday (from front to back) which stunned me as Case didn’t do that until he was 8 months old.  She continues to amaze me every day both in the ways she’s different from Case and, of course, the ways she is the same (a post to come on that later). I could go on and on about her already but let me just stop and let some photos do the talking:






And it’s true what they say – the relationship you have with your first born is unique and always will be but the relationship you have with your little girl is also equally unique and I am in awe of the love I have for her and how it differs (every slightly) from the love I have for my son.  If being a parent has taught me anything (and it’s taught me, and continues to teach me a lot) it’s that a parent’s love is truly limitless. How is it possible I can love anything else as much as I love Case ?  Well it’s possible,  and Claire’s it.

So, welcome Claire and welcome back Caitlin (I often refer to myself in the third person these days so it’s not weird that I’m doing it on here, “mommy’s going to go to the potty”, “mommy’s running upstairs for the 14th time because she forgot a diaper, wipes, your shoes, Claire’s shoes, my shoes”, etc.) to the wonderful world of blogging.

I was inspired to return by a new friend named Nicole who I met through Case’s Early Intervention playgroup.  Turns out she’s not only a momma to some pretty adorable and special twin girls, but she’s a prolific blogger to boot (and she lives down the road – we both drive 40 minutes to this playgroup so it’s really a treat to meet someone just a few miles away!)  She offered up just the right amount of motivation I needed to sit down and get a blog post out (it also really helps that both kids are napping at the same time!)

So, thank you Nicole from http://www.momentsthatdefinelife.com/ (please check out her blog, I just spent the last half hour perusing her inspiring writing  – you will not be disappointed).

It’s good to be back.

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