Back to School 2014

5th Grade and 1st Grade, here we come!

Mary Clare is seven!

Miss Manners Camp 2014

While big sister was away at Camp Tonawandah for three weeks, baby sister had fun at our local YMCA Miss Manners Camp for a week.  Each day she looked forward to dressing up, dancing and learning how to be a proper lady.

On the last day of camp, Mary Clare asked to put her new skills to the test at Yogi Bear.  Our lunch date was a smashing success.  (Notice her pinky?)

Camp Tonawandah

McCanless headed to Hendersonville, NC for summer camp this year.  Camp Tonawandah is where Aunt Liz attended camp and Mimi and Bapa spent several summers as counselors.  Mel loves the area and has looked forward to the day we would send McCanless.  (Three weeks is a long time for mommy, so I had to build myself up to it!!)  McCanless didn’t know anyone at camp and was counting down the days.  I am so very proud of her and thrilled that she loves overnight camp!

Pick Up Day!!

Happy 5K Graduation, Mary Clare!





This morning as I chatted with a few mommy friends in the halls of THA,  I whipped out a video I just so happened to record yesterday afternoon.  It was only fitting as we had been chatting about sassy mouths and ugly words.

Just before I recorded the video, I had taken the girls to the local book store to purchase a book.  I made it clear before going into the store that we would each buy one book.    We walked into Burry’s and immediately saw my sister, Kacy, also shopping.  (Don’t you just love small towns.)  MC ran to the back of the store to the children’s section, McCanless wandered to the youth area and I chatted with Kacy for a bit.  What happened in the next 20 minutes could definitely go down as one of those “mommy moments” that you would love to erase from history (or least from memory.)

Screaming at the top of her lungs, “I HATE YOU!”  “I WISH YOU WERE IN PRISON!”  (Yeah, not sure where that came from…) “I WISH YOU WOULD DIE!” echoing throughout the store, all aimed at me.  Mary Clare was letting me know exactly how she felt,  simply for my refusal to buy her a doll hair brush.

I smiled, ignoring the mini tornado in front of me,  and placed our books on the counter to make our purchases.  What made it all worse was the fact that the two sweet ladies behind the counter were friends of ours.  One, a neighbor and one, a family friend since I was a child.  They both had that wide-eyed “deer in headlights” look about them as they watched Mary Clare.

We finally  made it  to the car, at which point I realized she had completely lost it-with no going back.  So, I did what every 2014 mother does, I used my cell to video the whole debacle.

I’ll spare you the video, but I’m keeping that little jewel for when she’s older and her own daughter is driving her nuts.

Over the years, I’ve tried to blog about their awards, funny comments, sweet surprises and also those “not-so-great” moments. (I’m no perfect mother by any stretch of the imagination and I should probably blog about those moments more often to spare my girls future disasters in their own mothering days.)  More importantly, however, I wish to provide them with a history of losses before accomplishments, of bad days leading up to good days.  Those, I feel, are all moments that mold us.

As I watched my baby, my heart,  scream, struggle to breathe  and hate me in that moment, I wanted so badly to cave, to give her exactly what she wanted, to please her.  I knew that her anger was temporary and that the lesson that she was learning was so much more important than making her happy in that very moment.

It dawned on me.  Saying “no” now is easy in comparison.  I know that as my girls get older, these times will only increase.  I’ll watch them hurt, disappointed and make many mistakes.

Last night as she lay curled up around me in her little bed,  I read the pink princess book that I actually purchased for her at Burry’s yesterday.   She leaned in, kissed me and told me it was her favorite book ever.

I think I finally allowed myself to know that her disappointment was okay and not in vain.   I hate allowing my babies to cry.  I hate disappointing them.

I’m sure she’ll cry over much more than a doll hair brush and I know I’ll say, “no” again, and again and again.  I’ll question my actions, she’ll hate me again, and I’ll accept her hugs at the end of the day.  Always.

I hope she knows this now and forever.


Academic and Athletic Awards Ceremony 2014

4th grade Student Government Representative, Duke TIP, Class Leadership Award, All A’s, Perfect Attendance, Art Show Award,  Published Author, Literary Meet Participant…Not too shabby, McCanless!  We are so proud of you!!

Elementary Basketball Team and Cheerleading Participant

A pink and purple sail boat “crafted by” Mary Clare.

Sisters.  Ipads.  Texting.

This girl keeps me on my toes.


Child’s explanation of how he/she solved the problem:

“i am smrt”

Mary Clare

So, to explain:  Mary Clare likes sparkling grape juice.

The Four Squares

So, I’ll admit, a class assignment has brought me to the blog tonight.  (Thankfully, we are crazy busy living “normal” life these days.)

Mary Clare has a clothesline timeline to complete.  With only four small squares to document and illustrate her life, I turned to the best (only) journal I have,

You know me.  I could write an entire book on all that she is and has achieved complete with dramatic-mom vision-details and lengthy anecdotes.

We have four little squares.

The assignment asks for four major milestones.  A sentence to be written about each with her age at the top.  Simple enough, I thought.

Until I actually thought.

Milestones.  Wow, does she ever have them.

Everyday I struggle with wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, “She’s different, you know!  She has accomplished more than most can or ever will in a lifetime!”

Sure, she’s having difficulty with reading, potty training and focus.  She has fine motor “issues” and gross motor “issues” and still has her paci.  Trust me, I’ve learned so much about patience with others who just don’t get it.  I bite my tongue.   I hold my opinions.  I smile and know that I’m probably the only person who will ever get it.  She’s my Mary Clare and like every other mother out there, I’ll go down defending and fighting for her til the bitter end.

She’s at an age where she’d rather not mention her surgeries.  Maybe she’ll grow out of it, maybe not.  Either way will be her way and I’ll respect that.

As we brainstormed her first square, I suggested she draw a picture of herself as a baby with her little half heart.  She could write, “I was born on June 27, 2007 and had heart surgery at 5 days old.”

I promise, I try REALLY hard to keep out of projects and school work.  I do.

What she did next is no surprise to me.  She did as only Mary Clare will and told me to back off.  It’s her project.

She would prefer to write about going to school with her cousin Reese.  Receiving her Barbie Dream house, playing with neighborhood friends at the pool last summer and taking her crown to school for show and tell last week.  Those are her 4 timeline ideas and that’s what we’ll go with.

My crafty mom heart just broke a tiny bit.

As she colorfully illustrated her lifeline, her way, I scrolled through the blog, my heart ached.  She has been intubated, paralyzed, sedated, on heart lung bypass and that was at only one week old.   She has endured surgeries, seizures, enough medication to make a grown man sleep and yet, she is held at the same standards at all other “normal” six-year-olds.  And you know what?  She does it.

I’d love to complete the 4 squares for her and plaster them on billboards.

1-I saw her beating, stitched, pieced-together heart in the flesh at 6 days old when her chest was kept open 24 hours for swelling.

2-I held her arms down while she screamed as three 1 inch tubes were pulled from her chest after each of her three open heart surgeries.

3-I held her blue body in my arms while she seized for the longest 10 minutes of my life.

4-I have watched her run and gasp for air as she struggled to keep up with her friends at 80% oxygen levels.  (Try running around your house three times holding your breath.  That’s what that feels like.)

But those are my squares.  Those are milestones for me.  Thankfully, she doesn’t remember any of those.  So, as profound as those memories are for me,  they do not define her.  Ironically, they are more about me.

So, crowns, and friends, Barbies and Reese it is.  I love my little Rock Star and all of her own little sassy, glittery milestones.