Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cameron's first Christmas in pictorial

Cameron demonstrates her new face that she puts on when we try to give her jarred food. While Mommy and Daddy made a grown up dinner (including using our wedding china for the first time!) Cameron had turkey and cheddar cheese. Yum!
Cameron isn't exactly enamored of her Christmas dress although she does love the doll that Grammy gave her.
Cameron gets kisses from Callie who is visiting us for 10 days. Callie and Charlie love to play with each other. I am not happy with the amount of mud now ground into my carpet. That's what steam cleaners are for!
Cameron models her Christmas Eve outfit from Grammy. Per my family's tradition we let her open one present on Christmas Eve. She much preferred eating the wrapping paper!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Her royal whiny pants

DH and I have had a nice, quiet holiday season. We hosted some neighbors on Christmas Eve and went over to another neighbor's house for appetizers and wine on Christmas. We've also enjoyed a lot of quality time with Cameron which would have been a lot nicer except for one thing. She whines. Constantly.

If we are out and about then she is distracted by everything going on around her. But get Miss Cameron home and she starts whining. She has also decided that Mommy is the be all and end all. Not exactly fun for me! I can't figure out if she is trying to get to some new developmental place or if she is just going through a needy phase. Cameron is still commando crawling and has started standing a lot more (with our help) but doesn't seem to want to or need to make the leap to full on crawling or tentative steps.

We've been giving her a lot of finger foods but lately she has decided that she doesn't want to supplement with any jarred food. And of course she prefers the Cheerios and goldfish crackers to any other kind of food. If she's whining I can usually shut her up for a couple of minutes with some snacks.

She whines when she's crawling across the floor. She whines when I'm holding her. She whines when she's in her Pack 'N Play (we finally broke down and broke it out to help corral her). She whines as she's being rocked. Is it any wonder that I'm looking forward to work tomorrow?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cameron: nine months old

Dear Cameron,

For most people today means Christmas Eve. But for me and Daddy today means you are already nine months old. That means you have spent just as much time outside of the womb as in it. And this month has been a bit more challenging than months past. Just so I can point out to you in the future how loving and patient a mother I am let me list the current challenges for you:

Refusing to take any kind of medicine. I say this lovingly but "you, dummy!" The infant medicine couldn't taste any more like candy. And it makes you feel better!

Commando crawling all over the house. Your crawling is very cute since you still can't bring yourself up on your hands and knees. I love how you screech and pant as you crawl even the shortest distances. And lately you have brought your food bag or a toy with you while crawling. There's mama's little multi-tasker! Too bad you also seem to target all plugs and Charlie's water bowl as final destinations.

Eating has also been more challenging for us. Your doctor told us that you would start refusing your bottle and jarred baby food for lack of interest. Apparently you were listening as she said that because the very next day you started blowing raspberries as we approached you with any kind of food.

On the plus side you have started to clap. I can only assume that you picked up that skill in daycare because Daddy and I aren't big clappers. Somehow clapping is now accompanied by pulling Mommy's hair. Hard. I'm not sure if it's because my hair is irresistibly soft or because it's there but it's your "go to" action while eating your bottle.

You've learned that reaching your hands up when Mommy walks by melts my heart and I immediately pick you up. You little con artist!

2009 has been absolutely wonderful because you joined our lives. I have no doubt that 2010 will be just as good. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the most wonderful daughter we could ask for. We can't wait to see what you do next!


Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Introducing finger foods

When we took Cameron to the doctor's on Friday we were told that she is ready for finger foods. And that we need to push the sippy cup so that we can start to phase out bottles in a couple of months.

Our doctor also informed us that Cameron will probably start fighting us on bottles and jarred baby food because they will be "boring" for her. Apparently Cameron was listening in because that very night she adamantly refused to eat her jarred food and drank only half of her bottle. It continued in this vein throughout the weekend. We made a grocery trip on Sunday to stock up on toddler-type finger foods because it's not like we had any in the house. Veggies, fruits, deli meats and cheese later we realized that the entire grocery trip was just to get her food.

With her lunch I started giving her pieces of the foods we bought. Per usual she really only played with the food. If it's not a puff, Cheerio or cracker it's like she doesn't understand she's supposed to pick it up and put it in her mouth. And forget about putting it in her mouth for her. Cameron's lips clamp shut and she frantically shakes her head from side to side. She also does this when I'm trying to teach her to sip out of her sippy cup. After one particularly bad meal I looked at DH in despair and said, "Perhaps daycare can help?" He readily agreed.

Daycare basically taught Cameron how to eat jarred baby food. It's not that we weren't capable of doing it (well, the jury is still out on that) it's that they have Cameron for two meals a day 5 times a week. And they've trained babies how to eat many, many more times than us novices. So yesterday I brought a sippy cup to her room and asked them to start giving it to her with mealtimes. Last night? She picked up the cup and put it in her mouth twice unassisted. Damn. They are like the baby whisperers. Cameron still doesn't really "drink" out of the cup but she's much farther along after only one day with them.

I can also select off the toddler menu things for Cameron to try with her breakfast and lunch. The school still supplements with jarred food to make sure she gets her nutrients and that was what I was doing as well over the weekend. Up first today? Pineapple, pears and broccoli. Yummy.

Some might call DH and I lazy or bad parents for outsourcing the teaching of solid foods. I argue that we are still supplementing her education at night and on the weekends. I can't decide if I am particularly proud or embarrassed about my approach to teaching Cameron how to eat. So what do you think? Am I just riding the wave of the outsourcing future or am I giving away too much control?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Adventures in home improvement: the master bedroom

Our staycation was a huge success and will definitely be repeated in the future. With Cameron in daycare it gave DH and me time to get lots of things done around the house, including re-designing, re-painting and re-decorating the master bedroom. DH is very meticulous about the work he does on the house. So the first thing is to remove everything from the room. And I do mean everything. All the hardware came off and even the ceiling fan blades.

DH surveys the room to make sure he hasn't missed removing anything.
We ended up getting 5 paint samples and decided to go with the same dark blue from the accent wall in the library and a light blue/gray. I can't say enough about how much I like getting paint samples. A color looks completely different on the walls than the paint chip.

Like with the nursery all woodwork had to be sanded and repainted. Given the two closet doors, the bathroom door, the hallway door and the two windows that was a lot of woodwork. You can see from the open hall door that DH did not paint the outside of the doors. Otherwise he would have had to repaint all of the doors in the hallway. We'll save that for another project :-)

Continuing with the meticulous theme DH painted the ceiling. Yes, he is that dedicated. Making things a bit easier was the fact that crown moulding would be put up so DH didn't have to cut in the walls along the ceiling. We've done crown moulding in one other room in the house: the half bath. And the level of frustration we experienced trying to get the edges to fit was something we've swore to never repeat. Instead we decided to go with corner pieces. Here you can see the interior corner piece on the left and the exterior corner piece on the right. It made DH's job much easier to make the cuts correctly.

A trip to Lowe's and we had replacement hardware for the doors, hinges, windows and sconce. The original hardware (and I do mean original since it was probably the same hardware as when the house was built) had a brassy color that wasn't going to work for the blue/gray theme we had going.

Neither one of us are particularly enamored with headboards so DH came up with the idea of creating a faux headboard out of paint and trim. As you can see we used the darker blue on the interior of the frame to make it standout from the rest of the walls. the painting was a stellar purchase from Home Goods. If you need large pieces of artwork or mirrors to round out a room I can't say enough about Home Goods' selection and price. I got this huge picture including the frame for $60!

Up next for us? Hopefully the master bath that needs a complete gut. But that is one tax return and another long vacation in the future. So, what do you all think about the master bedroom?

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'll miss you Snap and Go....

As a part of our staycation we decided it would be a lot of fun to drive 25 miles to Babies 'R Us and drop hundreds of dollars on 2 car seats and a stroller. We purchased two Evenflo Symphony car seats. Right now they are rear facing but forward facing they go up to 65 pounds. DH managed to install it with a minimum amount of swearing so I think that speaks highly for ease of installation.

For a stroller I focused on lightness and maneuverability. We ended up selecting the Graco MetroLite.

Now that the two car seats are installed I am facing the fact that strapping Cameron into her car seat and lugging her to the car is a thing of the past. Given her weight, that isn't a bad thing. However, I also need to unbuckle her and buckle her into her stroller if we run errands together. That is going to be annoying. Especially in bad weather.

I'll write more about likes and dislikes of the car seats and stroller once we've had a chance to test them out more fully. Meanwhile, Cameron had her 9 month doctor's appointment today. She is 28 3/4 inches long (75%) and 18 pounds, 10 ounces (60%). Her doctor talked with us about incorporating many more finger foods and starting to wean her off baby solid foods and bottles. When her doctor told us that in two months we should start phasing out bottles I looked at DH and said, "No! I'm not ready for that!"

Instead of the ease of bottles and jarred baby food I now need to really think about what Cameron eats and start introducing new foods. Plus it means she's growing up. Sniff. I am so not ready for this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mémére and Papa come to visit

We aren't heading up North for the holiday's so DH's parents made a trip down to see us. We had an absolute blast putting up Christmas decorations and spending lots of quality time. DH and his father put up crown moulding in the master bedroom (a whole Adventures in Home Improvement post to come) while his mother and I made Christmas cookies. Mémére and Papa even babysat for us on Monday night so DH and I could have date night. I put aside my Type A personality enough to leave before bedtime - first time I've done that!

Cameron isn't quite sure what to think about the Christmas tree. She hasn't become enamored of it yet which is a good thing!
Cameron gets to play with her Papa.
Cameron enjoys lots of kisses from her Mémére.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The battle over Christmas decorations

For the past 4 years DH has grumbled about one particular Christmas decoration. He complains when I talk excitedly about putting it up and turning the light on every day. When DH goes around the house to turn the window candles on he somehow always manages to miss this decoration. I almost gleefully come behind him and make sure it is turned on.

You'd think given DH's mile wide practical streak that the Christmas decoration in question is some kind of hideous, singing exuberance that represents all things wrong with Christmas. But no, instead it is a hand made ceramic Christmas tree. My great-grandmother made 4 of them and I have been blessed with getting one of them for my house.

So, what do you think? Ugly or awesome?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watch out, Charlie, here comes Cameron!

First Charlie didn't understand why Mommy was getting so fat. Although he did love taking lots of naps with me on the weekends. Then Charlie was confused when we brought home a teeny tiny person who only seemed to cry and eat all day. Not to mention taking all of Mommy's and Daddy's attention. And now? Well now Cameron is absolutely obsessed with Charlie and would like nothing better than to follow him around doing her pseudo crawling.

Poor Charlie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The great staycation experiment

Next week DH and I are taking a week off of work and staying home. It is the first time in our entire relationship that we are taking a vacation and not getting in a car or on an airplane to go some place. I am beyond excited!

Don't tell Cameron but I'm especially happy that she will be daycare for most (if not all) of the week. I've mentioned before that our two week vacation in Maine wasn't exactly relaxing for me since I was still on Mommy duty 24x7. And our weekends aren't the errand running days of pre-baby. I feel very much behind on personal things because I'm "trapped" at home for several hours a day due to Cameron's napping schedule. The napping schedule is sacrosanct so I make every effort to be home on time which means I have at most 3 hours to run errands with her and then squeeze in a few more during her naps (if DH is project-free and on Daddy duty).

Of course now DH and I have a list a mile long of things that we plan on getting done during our staycation. Part of me is happy and hopeful that the list can be completed. The other part of me also wishes for a couple of lazy days where I actually get to sleep in and wake up and not have to be Mommy right away. I thought when I started this post that I would feel guilty about being excited to have a break from both work and Cameron but there's nothing there. I guess even my mommy guilt is ready for a vacation!

Has anyone else taken a staycation? Were you able to get lots of things done or was there laziness too?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Video fun

I know I've said this before but I feel like Cameron is at that perfect infant age. She sleeps and eats well, loves to play with toys and isn't too mobile. So DH and I have been having a blast playing with our little munchkin. Here are a few videos from the past week or so.

Cameron and Mommy make up a new game.

The Tower of Daddy scared Cameron originally but now she loves it as readers predicted!

Cameron started "dancing" the other day. Too cute!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All I got was this lousy education

DH was in a bad mood last night. This is extraordinarily unusual for him and can usually be tied back to a specific source. Money. Or rather the amount of money that seems to be gushing out of our checking account at an alarming rate.

This past weekend I opened a letter from the State of Virginia Tax Department asking me to file taxes for 2009. I showed it to DH and laughed because we haven't lived in Virginia for more than two years. North Carolina and the Federal Government get enough of my hard earned money, thank-you-very-much.

We ain't laughing no more. Yes, that sentence did require a double negative to convey my annoyance. Turns out that when we filed taxes for 2006 we neglected to file a state income tax for me. Why? Because I did my internship for BigFinance in North Carolina and properly filed my NC state taxes. Both of us totally spaced on the fact that because I lived in Virginia for that year even though I made zero dollars in the state and paid out tens of thousands of dollars in tuition I still owned them money. The best part? Despite rock bottom interest rates we have been charged 42% in interest. Thank you, Virginia! I'm especially thrilled because even though my husband worked in the state during my tenure at UVA I somehow didn't qualify for in state tuition. But you better believe they will also charge me for income I didn't even earn in their state!

I'm hoping we can work some magic with the numbers and get the total down a bit. Isn't it lovely that this occurred right around the holidays? So, has anyone else had run ins with state or federal tax returns? Do I have any hope of getting some of that interest dismissed or is this a suck it up kind of situation?

Update: DH just told me that we now owe zero to the lovely State of Virginia. Woot! Apparently they credit us for what we paid to North Carolina which ended up being more than twice what we would have paid to Virginia.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It would be easier if she took a feed bag

For the past couple of months Cameron and I have been in a pretty good groove with her feeding schedule. It was far from perfect but it seemed to work in getting her to nap twice a day for 2 hours and sleep through the night. So really, what more can I ask for?

But of course Cameron doesn't just come from me. No, no. She also has a wide streak of her father in her. DH and I are diametrically opposed when it comes to food and eating. Me? Never met a carb I didn't like. I would rather cut off my arm than miss breakfast. I require breakfast, lunch AND dinner or I become a crazed, grumpy woman. DH on the other hand can sometimes go from breakfast to dinner skipping lunch entirely. When I poke him about what he had for lunch that day I get the following responses:
  • "I was too busy to eat." Um, I would make myself un-busy just to eat. Otherwise I would be distracted by the constant grumbling of my tummy.
  • "I wasn't hungry." Freak.
  • "I forgot." Seriously? Who forgets to eat?
For many months I had an unhealthy fascination with the amount of food going into Cameron's system. I limited my stressing when I was breastfeeding because it's not like I really knew how many ounces she was eating. But when I moved to primarily pumping and then formula feeding I felt my Type A personality rear its ugly head. Despite this Cameron and I got into a groove where she would eat most of her bottle and I would count up the number of ounces she ate over the course of the day and not-so-silently seethe if she dropped below 20 ounces.

Flash forward to this week at day care. Cameron has decided that she doesn't want to eat at least 1/2 of two of her bottles most likely because they were too close together. So last night I made the executive decision that we are changing up her feeding schedule dramatically. Instead of 5 bottles at 5 ounces we are now moving to 4 bottles of six ounces.

Cameron has consistently eaten 6 ounces for her first bottle of the day so 6 ounces appears to be doable as a bottle size. Her new schedule (fingers crossed!) will be:
  • 6:45 AM - 6 ounces
  • 8 AM - solids
  • 9 AM - nap
  • 11:00 AM - 6 ounces
  • 12 PM - solids
  • 2 PM - nap
  • 3 PM - 6 ounces
  • 5 PM - nap (she really only needs this during daycare days because she doesn't nap well there)
  • 6 PM - 6 ounces
  • 6:30 - solids?
My biggest issue with the new schedule will be on the weekends. Cameron usually naps 2 - 4 PM which would screw things up. The other general problem will be fitting in the last solids of the day.

What I really like about this new schedule is that it gets us out of the habit of a bottle at bedtime. Now DH and I can create a new bedtime routine with books instead of bottles. Yay for reading! Anyone else able to swing four 6 ounce bottles with two 2 hour naps? When can I stop stressing about food with Cameron? Or is this just the start of a years long battle?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making a list, checking it...crap, where did I put that list?

Is everyone else as shocked as I am that it's December already? Where the heck did November go? I guess I bagged it up with the dead leaves. But don't you worry, there are plenty more dead leaves still left to be raked into piles and stuffed into bags. Because nothing says December down South like raking leaves.

A couple of months ago DH and I decided we weren't going home for the holidays. I'll pause for your gasps of shock and disdain. Yes, we decided to deprive our child of her first Christmas with her extended family after a 1400 mile trip up North. And it has been the most relaxing and refreshing decision we've made in a very long time. In the past we've scrambled to get everything done a week before Christmas, pile in the car and make the LONG drive up to Massachusetts. Plus we end up taking two weeks off of work and not feeling like we had any kind of vacation. So this year we decided to bag it all and have our very own first family Christmas.

I'm especially excited because this will be the first time we've put up our very own Christmas tree! Yes, we are that pathetic couple that has glommed on to our families' decorated houses since 2002 as a way to fill the void of Christmas decorations. Sure I put up a few things here and there but a stocking and string of lights isn't very impressive. So for the first time in our 7 year relationship DH and I will get to decorate our very own Christmas tree.

Because we haven't done much in the way of local holiday cheer there are lots of things I need to buy. If only I had planned 11 months in advance I could have purchased all my holiday decorations at 60% off. With that in mind I am going to try and limit what I buy and try to stock up after the new year. But at a minimum we need:
  • A tree
  • Tree skirt & stand
  • Colored lights
  • Ornaments (to augment a small stash I already had)
  • Garlands
  • Stockings

Now if only I could get this motivate for family Christmas presents. Normally by now I have at least an idea of what to get people. But between work and Cameron I've got nada. Thank goodness for the Internet...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Her Royal Poopy Pants

It's been a banner week in our household. Cameron ran a fever on Tuesday so she had to stay home from school on Wednesday. She wasn't sick or anything. I think it was just a result of teething and the fever didn't reappear. I am very much looking forward to her return to school on Monday because over the past 5 days Cameron has blown out 14 diapers. Yes, you read that correctly. 14. How do I know? The number of outfits I've had to change her into. I've done laundry for her twice and still ended up with some stained onesies.

The problem is that she now sits up all the time and is crawling. So the poop has no place to go but up the back. It doesn't matter how tight I tie the diaper. I considered moving her up in diaper size but she is too small for the weight range of the next size. I have been relegated to many sniff tests throughout the day. Usually there is a pattern to her pooping but she manages to sneak a few in during the day that I've missed. The best was Saturday when I had to give her a bath because poop ended up all the way to her shoulders. Fun times.

I know many parents stress because their children don't poop that often. I have the opposite problem. Cameron is pooping 4-5 times a day. I don't think anything is wrong with her. Far from it. But at this rate I will run out of unstained onesies! Not to mention the amount of laundry I've had to do. So, has anyone else conquered this problem? And my apologies for anyone who is offended for this post about poop. What can I say? I'm a mom!

The smile of a baby who just pooped.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cameron's first Thanksgiving

For the past few years DH and I have eschewed Thanksgiving. We live far enough away that it didn't make sense for us to travel home for the holiday. Especially with Christmas just around the corner. So I was thrilled when Amanda invited us over for her Orphan Thanksgiving. 10 friends came together to eat lots of food, drink more than was necessary and have a wonderful time.

I am thankful for wonderful family and friends to spend the holidays with. We are laying low this weekend and avoiding the holiday crowds. But I can't wait to start decorating for Christmas!
Cameron and Holden play together after dinner.
Bread in the shape of a turkey. Awesome!
Yummy food.
The dinner table is set for 10.
Cameron chases Charlie around.
Cameron decides Charlie's toy is hers.
Proof of Cameron's new ability: crawling. Sorta.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cameron: eight months old

Dear Cameron,

Today you are eight months old. This past month has been wonderful for all of us. You are such a happy baby that it is a pleasure to be around you. We look forward to the precious hours in the evening when we can cuddle and play.

This month you have learned to sit up on your own for extended periods of time. You have also started crawling.

Your two bottom teeth are being joined by the top two. It was a lot harder this time around with interrupted sleep and crying but they have finally popped through. You love your solid food and will sit happily in your high chair munching on puffs while Mommy and Daddy get dinner ready. Your success rate at getting the food into your mouth is increasing every day. I don't think Charlie likes that because it means less snacks for him!

The weekends are so much fun for us. You love your Saturday swimming lessons and can already put your face in the water. It also helps tucker you out which gives Mommy a nice 2 or 2 1/2 hour break for your afternoon nap. I am more than happy to keep that going for as long as possible!

You laugh all the time but especially for Daddy and Charlie. We can't wait to see what you will do next!

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, November 23, 2009

Damn you, Wheel of Time!

To say that I am an avid reader is putting it mildly. My husband is a bit in awe of the number of books I've read. And re-read. I primarily read books in the Fantasy genre. Usually what that means is an author writes anywhere from 3 to 15 books in a series. And if I'm hooked then I wait eagerly for each new title in the series. Sometimes I wait for years. And I am not exaggerating.

One of my favorite series is Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. There are currently 12 books in the series: 11 and one prequel. I've read them all many times. Each book is about 600 pages so they aren't short reads. I've probably spent months of my life reading the words that Robert Jordan has written. Then three years ago he died. Yup, he died and the series hadn't been finished. However, he died of a terminal disease so he put plans in place for another author to take over the final book in the series.

Every few months over the course of the past three years I've checked in to see when the final book was coming out. I found out yesterday that it was published in late October. I was outraged. "I could have read the book weeks ago!" I told my husband. "How could I not know?" Internet fail! So while Cameron took her afternoon nap I rushed over to B&N to pick up the book. While waiting in line I read the dust jacket. The opening paragraph announced grandly that the last book is so epic that it has been split into three books. I almost starting laughing hysterically.

Argh!!!!!! So I've been laboring under the wrong assumption that the series would be concluded with this last volume. Damn you, publishers who are milking a dead man's last book! Looks like I have another 3 years before the series will actually be finished. Sigh. Good thing I can go back and re-read the other 12. That should keep me busy for a few weeks at least :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teething and other challenges

Poor Cameron has been teething for the past few days. Her upper gums are swollen but no signs of teeth poking through yet so it appears as though we are in for a bit of a rough ride for the next week or so. With her bottom two teeth we saw little signs of fussiness or pain. This time around Cameron has woken up crying several times.

It would probably be less painful all around if Cameron was willing to take medication. But Cameron has decided that she doesn't want to take anything. Not motrin, not Tylenol, nothing. She clamps her mouth shut and shakes her head violently while slapping our hands away. Good times. I've tried given it to her in a multitude of ways but she doesn't want it. Anyone else have this problem?

The other challenge for us has been around eating solid food. It usually crops up during dinner. Cameron will whack her hands against the tray and many times manages to hit the spoon and coat herself and us with food. If we're lucky she will eat about a 1/4 of the jar before we give up and spend the next ten minutes cleaning up. Apparently she doesn't engage in this behavior at day care. She saves it up for us. Thanks, Cameron! Again, looking for validation and help with this issue. So please let me know if you've encountered it and managed it successfully.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The new normal

I think of myself as a very habitual person. I get up around the same time every day (yes, I do miss the pre-baby weekend snooze fests), have a consistent morning and evening routine and generally know what is going to happen at any given point during the day. And I like it that way. Consistency is my friend. So you can imagine that I had some trepidation about how a baby was going to change everything. Good news! Yes, my life changed but it quickly settled into a new routine that has changed slightly as Cameron has grown.
  • Sleeping through the night. While sometimes it feels like just yesterday I was up 2-3 times a night to feed Cameron it's actually been a good stretch of time that she has been sleeping 11-12 hours a night. Pure bliss. The only problem? I'm completely used to it and I jealously guard my sleep. Does Cameron have a cold? Crap! Now she might wake up which means either DH or I are up. Teething? Looks like it's time for some Tylenol. Yes, I am not afraid to provide OTC drugs if that means I get to sleep uninterrupted.
  • Errands are short and sweet. No longer can I run out for hours on end to do errands or get a manicure on the weekend. Now it is a matter of fitting tasks in between naps for external errands and during naps for home maintenance. I have found myself ordering clothes online because I don't have time to browse through the mall looking for that perfect outfit. I guess I'll have to leverage the Internet for my Christmas purchases too.
  • I shop for Cameron, not me. Even last weekend when I went out because I needed a new work outfit for the 3 days of meetings I have this week I ended up buying a couple of things for Cameron, not me. It's just so much easier to find stuff for her! And infant girl clothing is so cute, isn't it?

  • Evenings are family time. I have about 30 minutes to myself when I arrive home from work assuming Cameron takes a third nap and DH is still working. Usually I spend the time doing lots of different things but sometimes I completely veg out. Once 5:30 rolls around, however, it is all about Cameron until she goes to bed at 7 PM. Then DH and I have dinner and watch something on TV. If we are adventurous we might watch a movie. Yes, we really are that exciting!

At almost 8 months in, things are good and pretty easy. So, what do I have to look forward to as Cameron starts becoming more mobile and she gets older? How have you adjusted the the new normal?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who needs to win the lottery when you can just die instead?

It's official. DH and I are insured. Apparently if either of us dies while engaging in a felony all bets are off but they didn't say anything about murdering the other person. Bwah ha ha ha ha. Of course if I kill DH, who will rake all of the leaves? I'm better off waiting until the Spring.

The whole process to get term life insurance was kind of a pain in the ass. Sure, we could have gone through an Internet site and spent less time but DH wanted to start with MetLife who is our current P&C and Home Insurance provider. MetLife referred us to an independent firm in Charlotte a few miles from our house. DH placed the initial call, got some numbers and we went down to meet with the financial advisor. "Financial advisor?" you might be asking. Yes, which is probably why the process took far longer than it should have.

DH told me that the guy he spoke with was young so I wasn't surprised when a young man came out to greet us when we arrived. By the way, this was a Friday so I was attired in jeans and a sweatshirt. Hey, I enjoy working from home on Fridays so there was no way I was going to dress up to spend far too much money for a "just in case" situation. After we settled into the conference room an older man entered and introduced himself as Bill. He was the "big guns" and the person we ended up dealing with for the rest of the process. We never saw the young man again. He made such an impression I can't even remember his name.

Would you be shocked if I told you I finally had to cut our meeting short after 90 minutes because I had a conference call I needed to be on? Yes, apparently it takes 90 minutes to convince Bill that no, we really do just want term life insurance. No, we aren't interested in learning more about the financial advice and products you offer. Let's just see how this goes first (and by the way, not great so far!). No, just term life insurance. We aren't interested in Whole Life or Universal Life right now. OK, it's been an hour. Can we go ahead an put some numbers up now?

DH loves that I tend to be the more assertive person in these meetings. As someone who sits on hours of meetings every day I try not to beat around the bush. Give me the information, identify the follow up and move on. Bill finally took some information from us and plugged it into the MetLife online tool. It was a complete waste of time because he generated the same numbers that DH got over the phone from Young Man. Basically what it boiled down to was the numbers depend on our test results and smoker status. I quit smoking two years ago but DH was more like 18 months so he was falling under the "less than 2 years" category.

Upon the recommendation from Bill we decided to request quotes from two providers. Part of the application process required that Bill and Young Man verbally ask us questions and write down our responses. I'm not really sure why that was required but insurance is still one of those laggards related to technology and process improvement. I would think at this point that there would be some kind of universal application that could be sent to dozens of firms at one time. But I guess there are enough differences in what firms look for in order to calculate their rates that every application must be completed separately. 30 minutes later we escaped and scheduled an appointment for a nurse to come and take blood and urine samples. Wow, that woman was efficient! She was at our house for maybe 20 minutes and had just as much paperwork to fill out as Bill.

Two weeks later we had received our reports back from the two providers. Everything looked good numbers-wise. DH's cholesterol levels were much better than anticipated which was a nice surprise. We trekked back into Bill's office to receive the final numbers and figure out next steps. The numbers actually looked really good from one provider and were about 20% higher for the other. Not surprisingly DH's rates were much higher than mine. Apparently women are cheaper to insure because we live longer. Because we are just going with term we decided to go with the cheaper option. Bill then started talking about annual vs. monthly payments. He told us, "I know that there isn't a big savings but..." I interrupted him, "Well, amortized over the lifetime of the loan it is quite substantial." That kind of shut him up and he didn't try to push us any more on other products. I love it when I can pull out my MBA knowledge. I rarely get to use the financial aspects of my degree in my daily work life.

DH is going in today to drop off the check and we will have completed one of life's major milestones: getting life insurance. How did your experience compare to ours? Did you just get term insurance or did you mix it with other products?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mid-season reviews of TV shows

DVR is ruining my TV watching ability. I have 5 episodes of Fringe and 2 of Grey's Anatomy still to watch. But I have managed to stay up with a bunch of new shows and also some returning ones (Thank you, Hulu! Curses to all the networks who won't air their episodes on it!). So here are my thoughts about returning and new TV shows now that we are in the midst of November sweeps.

In terms of Grey's Anatomy, DH and I had an epiphany about why it's been so hard to watch the episodes. After Mercy merged with Seattle Grace and we were introduced to the new characters I turned to DH and said, "All of these new characters are assholes." His response, "All of the characters are assholes now." And that hit the nail on the head. Why do we want to watch these people when they are so self absorbed and mean to each other? If I wanted to do that I'd watch Private Practice. Tee hee hee hee. Fortunately we just watched the Derrick-gets-his-mojo-back episode and it was probably one of the best episodes in a very long time, including last season. So I have hope again although I don't miss Izzy at all so I'm not looking forward to her return.

Modern Family has consistently been one of the best shows we now watch. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments and the gay couple is totally disfunctionally awesome. If you don't watch it yet you should add it to your DVR list. Other good comedies that I've been able to keep up with via Hulu are Community, 30 Rock and Cougar Town. Yes, I did say Cougar Town. I know, I'm just as surprised as you! Creatively 30 Rock is a bit down for me this season. I feel like they are really stretching with some of the over the top jokes. Best line of last week though was Kenneth: "That's about as useful as a mom's college degree." Awesome.

Glee continues to perform well with the musical numbers and the amazing Jane Lynch. The biggest problem for me is the Quinn pregnancy storyline. And I hate, hate that Will's wife is going to take the baby (supposedly). It just doesn't work for me. I'd prefer the show if it was focused more on general teen problems and didn't go so early to the teen pregnancy.

FlashForward is definitely one of the better serial dramas. Not sure I buy into the premise that they can change their future but I guess it will be born out over the season. They just need to keep up their momentum. This past week's episode was a little weak for me. DH and I have been taping V but we are waiting to watch it when his parents come to visit. Apparently his mom was a fan of the original. So, no review of that show from me although I'm hearing that it will be yanked after 5 episodes not to return until after the Winter Olympics. Not a good sign.

House has really lost it's mojo for me. I still like Dr. House but I hate the Cameron/Chase storyline. Who knew I'd be on board with the new team after I bitched so much when they broke up the band? I guess the suckittude that is Chase and Cameron made me change my mind. I never thought I'd say this but, "Come back, Thirteen!"

I started watching White Collar on Hulu when I was bored one day. It's pretty cute and I am happy that Tiffany Thiessen is working again. And the main character is very, very good looking. I showed him to DH yesterday while he was watching football. "That guy is annoyingly handsome," he told me. And oh so yummy to look at.

The Good Wife has settled in to a nice groove. Not much movement on the larger, overarching storyline but I'm OK with that. The characters are pretty well drawn and it's nice to have another female driven drama on the air. But one that isn't too slap-stick (yes, Desperate Housewives, I'm looking at you!).

How about the rest of you? Any shows you are watching that have taken a downturn in creativity? Any new shows that I should be adding to my list?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Batten down the hatches: Cameron starts crawling

Despite being struck down by another (!) cold, Cameron decided on Friday night that she was ready to start crawling. It is still kind of "commando-like" in the sense that she isn't up on all fours but she moving a lot more purposely now than ever before. I attempted to get a video of it but it's like she knew I had the camera ready to go and would stop crawling and start rolling around instead. Clever little girl.

DH and I haven't started baby proofing the house yet but we need to get moving on it. Cameron's first stops in her trek across the room including whacking her head on the coffee table leg and trying to eat my power cord. I think we are going to remove the coffee table temporarily and bring in something smaller and padded. I picked somthing up at Target but I wish it was a foot longer. Then I could still keep my computer on it while eating. Yes, DH and I eat at the coffee table. It's a habit we haven't had to break yet with Cameron's current evening schedule.

Cameron is sitting on the couch. She still hasn't quite grasped how to sit for extended periods of time. I would have preferred she work on that skill before crawling but I get no say in the matter.
Cameron prefers to grab her own toys out of her little toy bin.
Charlie is already apprehensive about Cameron starting to crawl. Sorry, buddy, but she will definitely go for you first!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the market for a stroller and car seat

Yesterday was a Bank holiday which was perfect because Cameron's school had a teacher's workshop day so it was closed. DH and I took Cameron to the doctor's office for a quick check up and H1N1 vaccination. I scheduled her an appointment last week because she has been battling a cold for several weeks and I was concerned about the wheezing I heard, especially when she first woke up. We have a humidifier running but it didn't seem to help. Isn't it totally typically that of course Cameron sounds much better and all her symptoms stopped just before we went to the doctor's? We went anyway because I had called the day before and asked if they FINALLY had any H1N1 flu shots in and they did.

As we walked back to the room I asked the nurse if Cameron could get her H1N1 first vaccination while we were there. I couldn't schedule for it because technically it was a "sick" appointment. The nurse replied, "We have some but not for her age group." Immediately I questioned her, "What do you mean? What age group is getting the shots?" She avoided answering and directed me to talk to the doctor when we saw him. I have to admit I stewed a little. Cameron is only seven and half months old and in day care full time. How can she not be in one of the age groups that the practice was prioritizing. Fortunately the doctor was excited that we wanted to vaccinate Cameron and he ordered the shot for us. Apparently there were only 5 doses left so I guess it's a good thing we had an 8:30 AM appointment! Now I have to schedule her booster shot but I figure there should be less supply issues in a month.

Cameron is up to 18 pounds, 9 ounces. Not sure what % that puts her in but she is trucking right along with her growth. And getting VERY heavy to lug in her Graco SnugRide car seat. What does that mean for us? Time to start researching new car seats and strollers. I would love to hear recommendations from readers for both. In the car seat arena we are looking for a convertible and something that isn't too expensive since we have to get two car seats for day care pick up / drop off purposes. For a stroller I am looking for something fairly light and easy to open and close. Other than that I just need it to recline enough so that Cameron can nap if we happen to be on the go. I know many of you have been down this path before so any and all advice is welcome!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Taking out the trash

Yesterday saw a new shift at my office. No more individual waste baskets at our desks. And it is extremely annoying. Sitting on my desk right now are the remains of my breakfast because I'm already procrastinating getting up and walking the 50 feet to the centralized trash repository. And you have no idea how many times I've gone to throw something into my trash only to realize after I've thrown it down that the trash isn't there!

BigFinance leases my office space so I can't even blame my own company. No, instead it is the facility management that came up with this plan that will supposedly save about 70K in expenses across the country in total for the next 3 years. So doing this for my office saves them like $100 a year. Thanks, guys! Here's the method behind the madness. First of all if the janitorial staff doesn't have to empty individual trashes it takes them less time to clean. OK, I buy that. The second piece to the change is to start having our office space cleaned during the day rather than after work hours. Yes, that does include vacuuming. The reasoning? It will save money because now when people go home for the day there is no one in the building and the lights go off earlier. So not only is it saving electricity money it is also more "green." Don't you just love how they threw that one in? Plus apparently this allows us to get to know the cleaning staff better and communicate our specific cleaning needs. Yeah. That's going to happen.

So far I don't mind the day cleaning. What I do mind is not having my own trash can. I would be more than willing to empty my own trash into a central repository. Now I don't even have that option as they have donated all trash cans to some homeless shelter. I wonder what that place is going to do with hundreds of trash cans?

Has anyone else had any changes like this at work? First it was not providing paper cups or plastic utensils. Now it's trash cans. People have compensated in the past by bringing personal items into work to replace those originally provided. I wonder if I should do that here or if they will keep removing my trash can every night. Could get expensive...

Monday, November 9, 2009

First swim lesson

This past weekend saw wonderful weather. What did that mean? DH made me rake. After about 30 minutes I was ready to stop. Guess a 30 Day Rake would be just as good as a 30 Day Shred!

Before the raking commenced we took an hour out of our Saturday and went to the pool for Cameron's first swim lesson. There were 3 other kids in the class and I was very impressed to see another seven month old getting fully submerged for a count of three. Because it was Cameron's first lesson she didn't go under water. Instead we focused on linking "Ready, set" followed by a deep breath with the idea of submersion. And for the babies farther along you could see them take a deep breath and close their eyes before they went under water. Very cool!

DH took photos and I apologize for the quality. He was in the "viewing room" which had a big plexiglass window so he couldn't use the flash. I had my own cheering section comprised of DH but we were far outnumbered by the other families there. Two of the other babies there had grandparents in addition to parents. And they had been taking lessons for weeks. I guess I'm just a little jealous since our families live so far away.

When we got home Cameron took her second two hour nap. Yes, my baby has been consistently taking 2 two hour naps every day on the weekend. Woo hoo! Of course that just meant I had to spend more time outside raking. Curses!
Cameron prefers to chew on the fish that blows bubbles rather than learn how to blow them herself.
Just like in Hilton Head Cameron loved the water.
Floating around in a "motor boat." Cameron was a slippery little bugger and kept trying to twist her body around which would cause her to fall through the hole.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Photos

First off let me wish my wonderful grandmother, Mimi, a very happy birthday. I would tell you her age but she would kick my butt!

This week has been challenging for me work-wise. Lots of issues with my projects and lots of waiting around for other people to get their jobs done. So it has been absolutely wonderful to spend an hour or two with Cameron before she goes down for bed.

Cameron is now sitting up for a few minutes at a time. She still isn't quite steady on her own so I have piled two boppies behind her for extra support.
What I love the most about this picture is that it highlights the double chin. My little chunk monster!
Like her daddy, Cameron is not a fan of peas.
Here is a video DH took while feeding Cameron. You will see two distinct favorite actions: the head shake and the raspberry.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is it too early to start saying no?

Cameron has learned a new trick. She likes to shake her head back and forth to basically tell DH and I "no". Or the infant equivalent of F-U-. I can only imagine that she picked up this skill in daycare.

When does Cameron break out the head shake? Usually while eating. No more solid food? Head shake. No more bottle? Head shake. Medicine to help with teething or coughing? Head shake. And the medicine tastes good! Weirdo. Cameron also likes to purse her lips together tightly while engaging what is sometimes a full body twist and shout.

Every time she starts the head shake and lip clench I mutter, "You are so stubborn! Just like your father." And it's true. He's very stubborn.

Cameron also likes to bat her hands around frantically if she isn't happy with us (see above with food or medicine administration). DH has started putting his hands down over hers and saying "No" in a very firm voice. I originally protested because hey, Cameron is only 7 months old. That's too young to be telling her no, right? But then I thought, "Crap, she's only 5 months away from being a year old! Maybe it's isn't too early?!?"

So I pose the question to you, when did you start consistently telling your children no? Any tricks and tips for handling infants in particular? And when did your children start telling you no? Is Cameron particularly precocious with her head shaking?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Packing away some infant must haves

Now that Cameron is seven months old I have been reviewing items that can be moved into storage. I say moved rather than sold or given away because I'm not quite ready to put that closed sign on my uterus.

First to get packed up was all my maternity clothes. Yes, I do miss those comfy pants. There is something to be said for waist bands that went over your entire belly, pregnant or not! That was immediately followed by Cameron's infant and 0-3 month clothing. Then I was at a standstill and instead of getting rid of things I found myself adding to them: more clothes, more toys, more bottles, and more furniture masquerading as toys (I'm looking at you, exersaucer!).

After that lull in the 3-6 month range I reevaluated the items still strewn around my house and made executive decisions to pack a few things up that I didn't think Cameron needed any more. First to go? The swing. Ever since I unswaddled Cameron I created a new process of putting her down for naps and bedtime. Nothing fancy but it involved rocking her for a few minutes and putting her down awake in her crib. We primarily used the swing to get Cameron to fall asleep or stay asleep. After three weeks of not using the swing once and glaring at it for taking up so much room in my library I asked DH to take it down and move it to the attic.

The next item to get packed up (although it is still waiting transfer to the attic) is the playmat. Cameron LOVED this toy for the first 5+ months of her life. But once she started rolling she wanted wide open spaces. I removed all the hanging toys and she still plays with those but the playmat has been decommissioned from use.

Also awaiting transfer (but need to clean out a closet first) is the Pack 'N Play. We had it up in the library full time but were only using it for changing Cameron's diapers. Now I just take her upstairs or change her on the floor in the TV. Much easier and removes another bulky item from my library. Next to go will probably be the boppies. I have two of them and they were a requirement while I breastfed Cameron. But now that she is exclusively formula they turned more into brightly colored and patterned cushions. For now we still use them, primarily to prop up Cameron while she is learning to sit up on her own. But once she masters that skill to the attic they will go!

How about the rest of you? What were some of the first things (aside from clothes) you either got rid of or moved into storage? And send good thoughts my way...it's rare to have a basement in Charlotte and I am already feeling the lack!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Climbing the corporate ladder while juggling a family

I came across a great article in the NY Times Magazine on the Obama's marriage. Click here for the full text. The reporter asked, "...how any couple can have a truly equal partnership when one member is president?

The president deflected but his wife responded, "Clearly Barack’s career decisions are leading us. They’re not mine; that’s obvious. I’m married to the president of the United States. I don’t have another job, and it would be problematic in this role. So that — you can’t even measure that."

The past two moves that our family has made have been for my career. First we moved from Boston to Charlottesville for my MBA program and then to Charlotte to work for BigFinance. I am fortunate that DH is able to work from home and it hasn't limited him from advancing in his career. In some ways I think he is happy to work from home - it's a lot less stress with the morning/evening juggle and there is time to get a couple of things done around the house if needed (defrost meat for dinner, throw in a load of laundry, etc.). In other ways it is harder because he doesn't get out much and probably ends up working longer hours. I also feel a bit guilty because I have to commute to work which cuts out about 2 hours of my day that I could be online doing work. I get home from picking Cameron up at daycare see DH working away and think, "I should really turn on my computer and get back to the grind." But I just check the Blackberry for anything urgent and turn on my 30 Day Shred. Hey, if I'm healthier then BigFinance gets more work out of me, right?

DH and I are pretty equal when it comes to balancing our work and personal life. I probably take up more on the childcare front but he does a lot more around the house (yard work, maintenance). We split cooking, laundry, grocery shopping and outsource cleaning. I do more errands but that's because I like to get out of the house and spend money :-) I know that many couples find themselves more split on personal vs. work juggle. Oftentimes it is the men who get their careers prioritized and women who end up with the bulk of the personal juggle. I'm sure that if we had changes on the career-front (DH gets a big raise but requires more travel, I get a promotion) then things will have to change. DH always jokes that if I can make enough money he'll be a stay at home dad. The only problem? He thinks that means he can golf every day! He claims that Cameron can just hang out in the golf cart. Sure.

The biggest challenge for us in my climb up the corporate ladder has been living away from family and friends. But given the cost of living in Charlotte right now (and the fact that we bought our house in 2007 - ouch!) it is hard for us to see moving back to Boston. How about the rest of you? Have you made sacrifices for your spouses' career or vice versa? Do you think that one partner has to make sacrifices for the other in order to make raising a family work?

By the way, November is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I can't commit that I will post every day (oops, already missed November 1st!) but I will try to be more frequent than in recent weeks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Daylight savings success

I haven't decided yet if Fall Back is going to be easier than Spring Forward for Cameron. I know when I was a kid I used to love Daylight Savings in the Fall. Simply put, it allowed me to gain an extra hour of sleep. That made getting to Sunday School a lot easier. Conversely, I hated Spring Forward. Loosing and extra hour of sleep? It took me days to get my equilibrium back. For babies I think that the opposite would be true. Fall Back is harder because they wake up and have to deal with grumpy parents who keep saying, "You know it's only 5 AM, right?" Spring Forward just means parents either have to wake their kids up earlier to keep the same timing or deal with a "later" morning. I guess I'll know for sure in 5 months when it's time to turn the clocks ahead.

Cameron did wonderfully this weekend. I've still been getting up far too early (5 AM) to get her a bottle but she falls right back asleep until 7ish. So on Sunday after her 4 AM bottle I managed to stretch her to 6:30 AM (mentally considering it to be 7:30 AM). Cameron's bed time was a bit earlier than usual but no more than 15 minutes. And to top it all off, she had 2 two hour naps each day over the weekend. Isn't that awesome!?! I love nap consolidation. Of course I kept thinking she would wake up so I wasn't nearly as productive around the house as I could have been. But now that we know, DH is already planning to buy a second rake so I can help him next weekend. I hate raking leaves. It just seems so futile. Especially because only 25% of the leaves are down. Can't we be "that" house that waits until all of the leaves are down and then rake?

In other news Cameron continues to battle a cold. I'm starting to get concerned because it has been weeks and she doesn't seem that much better. She coughs infrequently and has some wheezing in her lungs and a slight runny nose. No fever and she seems to sleep fine at night. Am I crazy? Should I go ahead and bring her in? Figures that our co-pay just went up from $20 to $35. Stupid health insurance.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Halloween

We dressed Cameron up for school yesterday because they were doing a parade at 10 AM. But Cameron decided she wanted to poop all over it an hour before the parade. Coincidence or future Halloween hater? DH and I are not big on Halloween, except the candy, of course. We both hate dressing up. But for some reason I can't wait to put Cameron in adorable costumes! Thank you to Mommy, Esq. for providing the costume.

Catching Cameron mid-sneeze
Yes, I am adorable!