Wednesday, December 29, 2010


There are moments of unexpected perfection that, if you don't take time to slow down and look for, you may miss.


It is the morning after Christmas. You could plunge back into the chaotic-ness of the everyday. Or you could sit with a cup of coffee and see this.

A cardinal, happily considering his breakfast.

Or his friend, some sort of woodpecker, taking his turn at the bird feeder.

If you left your post of relaxation and contemplation, you would miss these little guys who show up and search for what's fallen, uneaten and undiscovered.

Within moments, it seems, it's all over. Whether the birds are satiated or frightened by the appearance of a cat in their general vicinity is unclear. What is clear is that there isn't a feathered beast to be seen anywhere.

And to think it could be missed so easily and so quickly. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Baking

Decorating cookies is more fun with friends, and I'll tell you why. First of all, you can get away with making one double batch of cookies and end up with multiple kinds of cookies since all participants contribute cookies. Second of all, it's just more fun because there is lots of laughing and chatting, both for kids and adults.

And, in my case, I get help from someone much more talented than I am. Here Erin is showing the girls how to carefully pipe the frosting on, as opposed to how I usually just slap it on.

See? Far prettier than anything I am able to do.

Forgotten Caroline didn't really get to decorate. Instead she walked around whining. To get her to be quiet the other kids kept sneaking her cookies. I think Caroline ate 6,720,000 sugar cookies this afternoon.

And speaking of sneaking sugar . . .

I am pretty sure Gus ate about eight pounds of icing. 

I think he would rather have had nine pounds.

Somehow, the cookies got frosted, and I think the kids did a really good job. Don't you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ornament Tour

Every year, going through Christmas ornaments and decorations is akin to strolling down Memory Lane.

That darling clay pig? Made for my mom by her cousin in Vermont when she was first married and on her own. It, along with its clay brethren, have hung on every childhood Christmas tree I ever had (not shown is also a duck among various other things, some of which now reside on Quantum Void's Christmas tree)).

Oh, this crystal unicorn. Every time I look at it I'm back in my childhood living room, staring at it longingly as it twinkled away ever so beautifully. I think I wanted to take it off the tree and play with it and pretend it was real. I think maybe I may have done that a time or two.

Miraculously, the unicorn survived. I now hear the same tenor of angst and desperation that my mother's voice must have contained when my children get too close to it.

The silver angel. This is the defining Christmas tree ornament of my childhood. It was sent to me upon my birth from a great-aunt on my mom's side and whenever we decorated my childhood tree I always had to do it near the end of decorating. The rational was saving it for the end would guarantee it would be on the outside, in one of the best spots, but I also think it was to amp up the anticipation of getting to the "good" ornaments (we all were forced to put up the ones no one thought were any fun, like balls, first).

Even though it was always my ornament, it hung on Mom and Bob's tree even after I was married and had my own tree. I always sort of hinted that maybe it was time for Mom to hand it over already, but I think she liked having those reminders of her kids around her, so I never pushed it. 

Almost every ornament on our tree has some story associated with it. It's no wonder putting up our Christmas tree is one of my favorite days of the year. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

An explanation of what happened to Caroline.

A lot of you saw this pathetically sad and ridiculously cute picture of Caroline on Facebook last night. You know, the one where she has a big white gauze pad loosely taped across her face that is, incidentally, covered in dried blood and boogers. The one with her standing in an exam room with a purple hospital gown?

Yeah, this one.

Look, I went for a lot of years with kids that never needed much more than a kiss and a Band-Aid to cure their little mishaps, but these little girls? What's up with all the stitches? I blame Joe. No, no; I know these things happen and you're shaking your head and saying, "But Cate, that's not fair! Kids have accidents!"

Hear me out.

Besides my two c-sections, I have never needed stitches in my life. As a kid I climbed trees. I played in an old dairy barn with lots of glass and nails and other laceration inducing devices lying about. And believe me, I fell. I cut myself. But I never had a cut deep enough or wide enough to require stitches. Joe, however, has needed stitches one hundred fifty kajillion times. At least. So, clearly, Elisabeth and Caroline have their dad's propensity to break their skin open. The evidence seems pretty conclusive, no?

Please continue to dwell on Joe's thin skin for a moment, will you? That will help you ignore my culpability in last night's ER visit. Thanks.

So, last night I was grabbing one quick thing from our attic. One quick thing! Yes, I knew I was taking a gamble. Yes, I knew Caroline was upstairs with me as I pulled down the attic stairs. I glanced at her, absorbed in one of the bedrooms with a stack of toys, and thought, wrongly, I could make it up and down before she noticed the attic ladder was down. I did not know Ellie was coming upstairs. Those attic stairs are a magnet for Ellie; upon arriving upstairs she immediately started climbing them. Caroline saw her sister and followed. She never made it past the third or fourth stair; I heard the girls and started back down. Too late; Ellie started climbing down and pushed past stepped over Caroline. Caroline fell. I saw it all happen as if it were in slow motion, trapped on the attic stairs, just a few feet away from my little baby.

I still don't know what she hit. She fell a couple of feet, maximum, onto carpet. I still don't think she scraped her head on the stairs. There was nothing on the floor.

Yet still, fall she did, and the total damage? A lot of tears, a fair amount of blood, two internal stitches and seven-- yes, seven!-- regular stitches.

She stopped crying just a few minutes after the injury. She was smiling, babbling and laughing for the entire twenty minute drive to Children's Hospital. She was entertained with all attention she received while waiting for her mending. She screamed bloody murder, however, during the stitching despite the topical application of some sort of numbing agent and a mild sedative. After she was happy and silly once again.

Still, though, I feel wretched. I know it was an accident but still. . . something about seeing the blood, the tears, the needle. . . I won't soon forgive myself. On the good side though, I won't dash up into the attic when the stairs are down anymore either. I accept a few days of guilt; I deserve it and it will make it easier on me to let it go when I forgive myself, which I know I will.

How much you want to bet that Caroline forever grumbles about the inevitable scar that she will work at covering for the rest of her life? *sigh*