Friday, January 30, 2009

AI Season 8 Auditions: NYC and Puerto Rico

Ryan claims that West Side Story is the inspiration for the NYC and Puerto Rico combination. I think it will be suckiness. Let's see who's right...

Does Puerto Rico even qualify as a potential stream for American Idol? They aren't a state, don't vote and don't pay taxes. Ryan clarifies that it is a US Territory. Hmmm, does that mean they get all the benefits and none of the crap of being Americans? Someone please clarify.

Anyone else distracted by the boat bobbing up and down in the window behind the judges? At some points during the show it disappeared and also had people climbing over it. Can you tell it's going to be a boring episode if I am focused on such a detail?

In NYC first up is an overly confident immigrant who quit her job because she "just knew" she was going to Hollywood. Needless to say, she's terrible and won't take no for an answer. Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell try to smooth things over for her to get her job back. It works which is really more than she could have asked for.

We move over to San Juan for Jorge. The accent is throwing me but I am going to say gay and dorky are two good descriptors. He sings some Latin song that make it hard for me to tell if he's really good or just faking it. He switches to English and is still pretty good. He is put through to Hollywood.

Still in San Juan we join up with Jessica who forgets how old she is. She is not Latina and won a contest to be there. She brought some family and friends with her who seemed to be having a better time drinking than holding signs. Jessica funds her lifestyle with contests. That's some dedication. Good thing she has it because she is not going to Hollywood despite her begging and pleading. Somehow the judges telling her she sucks turns around in her mind to "I wasn't being myself." Got to love delusional people!

Montage of delusional contestants.

In NY we meet Melinda (22) who has a "message" for humanity. And that message is best communicated while dancing naked in her room. Or letting her girls swing free. Enjoy it while you can, they won't stay perky forever! DH kept hoping a boob would fall out of her neon pink dress. I think she's already embarrassed herself enough. She sings Feeling Good and is actually pretty good. But with the personal insight she provided in this audition tape she either won't make it past Hollywood Week or be knocked out very early once America starts voting. We don't like the crazy shit.

Jackie (NYC) is the obligatory rocker chick. I get a raspy Janice Joplin vibe from her speaking voice. Unfortunately she doesn't have any kind of singing voice and just talks her way through a Jason Mraz song. Simon calls her shit out and asks her to sing another song with some real melody. It is much better than the first and the judges are digging it. Simon almost gets brained by the light blocking glass but continues on like the professional he is.

In San Juan there is much less talent. Montage of terrible singers and rejections from the judges.

Montage of "energetic" singers from both NYC and Puerto Rico. Followed by "comedic" performances including the "Crazy Rocker" in San Juan. He comes out as an iPod and Simon is immediately disgusted. Need I even say that he's terrible? I think the majority of these auditions so far have been a waste of our precious TV time. Nick Mitchell was Crazy Rocker's NYC counterpart. And was just as effective. But twice as gay. He did get a good shot off about Simon and Ryan's relationship. The judges are entertained by him (except Simon) and somehow he makes it through. DH rolls his eyes in disgust and claims that Kara is ruining the show.

Montage of good singers including a couple that kiss in front of their golden tickets. I give that relationship one day at Hollywood Week.

Montage of bad singers.

Monique (16) from San Juan brings her 9 year old brother with her and for some reason appears to actually like the kid. Shouldn't she resent him for taking all of her parents' attention away from her? The judges are charmed by Christopher and let Monique warble through two songs. She's pretty good but far from great. She gets a pass through to Hollywood with the admonishment to pick better songs and be less cabaret.

The last NYC contestant auditioned last year. I vaguely remember her as one of the rocker chicks. She cursed a lot in her exit interview. Apparently now she has found Buddhism and works the waiting room like she's royalty. Why do freaks think that a brief appearance on AI means they are famous? The judges remember her and Simon looks suspicious. As well he should, she's just as terrible as last year. DH and I place bets on whether she will snap when she is told no. Simon called it horrendous and she flips them off for old time's sake.

The last San Juan contestant is Patricia who picks Whitney Houston to audition yet. She has a generically good gospel singer voice. I question whether she can sing quietly as well as loudly. Simon didn't think it was good and a terrible song choice. Simon gives her another chance and she signs some song in Spanish that is a bit better. Randy says yes, Paula says no (shockingly!) but she makes it through.

And so ends our auditions. 9 are through from Puerto Rico and 26 from NYC. That brings us up to 149 who will be joining us next week in Hollywood. Prepare yourselves for the drama, the tears, the back stabbing. This is American Idol.

SJ out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AI Season 8 Auditions: Salt Lake City

Shout out to Natalie for reminding us that we get 3 nights of auditions this week and are on to Hollywood Week next week. Phew. I am definitely done with auditions.

Welcome to the capital of Mormons. I'm sure Helen could give you a whole sermon on the coolness of "sister-wives" but I don't watch Big Love and I think it's creepy. I don't know much about Mormons aside from the occasional knock on my door. Yes, I understand that "officially" monogamous marriages are endorsed. But there is a reason Mitt Romney had to keep justifying himself to America when he was running for President.

Salt Lake City is apparently the home of High School Musical 1-3. Is it sad that Paula is the one who knew that? And why didn't I? It looked more like Arizona to me. Paula is confident in the talent here. Randy Jackson didn't know what state it was in and I question whether he is eating enough to sustain himself. He's looking particularly svelte this season.

Up first: David Osmond, son of one of the original Osmonds. Like Donny and Marie, Alan Osmond decided a huge family was the way to go. Kind of sad that both David and Alan have MS. I wonder who is going to win? The blind guy or the MS guy...we need a Family Guy or South Park episode on that immediately. David sings a Christian Rock song (of course) and does a decent job. Apparently every male singer this season feels as though lots of runs and trills is the way to go. The judges give him a lot of constructive criticism which of course means he's in.

Next we are treated to a Gothic freak, Tara Matthews, who has decided that pouring her size 20 body into a corset and fishnets is a good way to go. She also has ESP so she should have known that coming in to audition would only earn her the ridicule of the judges and the audience.

Montage of really bad singers.

Chris and his friend, Greg the Rabbit, bring in some Simon love to Chris' audition. Kara rightly calls it weird. She was prepped for what auditions are like, wasn't she? After letting him sing two songs Chris is dismissed. But Greg gets a hug from Simon. In my opinion that makes it all worthwhile. I love you Simon!

Montage of rejections contrasted with the "niceness" of the potential contestants. I yawn, loudly. Ryan tries to stir up trouble by telling the waiting room to stick to their guns when the judges say no.

Single mom, Frankie Jordan (24) auditions. She does has an unusual tone that is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. I like her and think she could easily pass through Hollywood Week. The judges are unanimous. Stay off the drugs, Frankie!

Megan Corkery is also a single mom. She tells us her sob story of her divorce (not surprising considering she is 23) and I am completely distracted by her arm tattoo. I get an old fashioned vibe from her voice as well and think she has some "chops." She could use some vocal coaching but could go pretty far. The judges are unanimous on her as well.

The judges have been using "different" a lot to justify their selections during these auditions. A word of warning. That was the focus of their search the year that Fantasia Barrino won. And we've all seen how that worked out.

Montage of contestants accepted through to Hollywood set to a David Cook song. Earn those royalties while you can!

Austin is 17 and the Senior Class President. This is a kid who has had everything handed to him on a platter. Is this is "adversity" that he can write about on college applications? He sings a Train song and is mediocre in the garage band way. He obviously doesn't have any training because he doesn't pull out the runs and trills so common in musical theater students. Simon let's him sing his second song and it's a little better than the first but not much. The judges are bowled over by his "aw shucks" charm and let him through. Looks like he needs to find something else for his essays. I predict Hollywood Week will break him.

Montage of crying rejects. Montage of bad singers.

Odd girl from Hawaii who moved from that tropical paradise to Utah so that she could get noticed. Utah? WTH? Only if she wants to get noticed to be some guy's fourth wife. Her parents must be crazy too. She is very tall which put me in mind of Jordan Sparks (Randy agreed). I am shocked by her good audition. I really thought they were going for the crazy edit. She is through to Hollywood.

Speaking of crazy. Our last contestant of the night is "free spirit" Rose (17) and her obligatory sob story. Why does AI do this every time? Can't we go out on a high note? Why does it always have to be death or illness or poverty? Jeesh. So we are prepped that she won't be a weird one but an actual contender. Simon loves her look immediately. Rose does a great job with a Carol King song. She does have some minor pitch problems but that could be easily coached. Needless to say, she is through to Hollywood.

Montage of golden ticket holders.

All told, 13 moved on to next week. That brings the grand total up to 114. Tomorrow night is NYC and Puerto Rico. Odd combination which makes me think it's going to be a train wreck. Perhaps they have plumbed the depths of NYC one too many times?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AI Season 8 Auditions: Jacksonville

Hopefully this American Idol recap is just as good and snarky as my previous posts. DH is flying back from Boston so I am watching this solo. That means I'm missing my sounding board for all my eye rolls and comments.

Even though I am still full from dinner I am all settled in with a bowl of ice cream and my handy remote. Commercials are no one's friend. Let the games begin.

We open with some old shots of Randy Jackson from his Journey days to introduce us to Jacksonville. Little known fact but I've been there. And it probably comes as no surprise that it was a boring visit. I am not expecting big things from Jacksonville. Once in the audition room I see that Simon is sitting on the camera left of the table and Randy on the right, opposite of their normal positions. It really threw me off. Apparently I need consistency in my reality shows along with my regular life.

Our first contestant is proud of comparisons with Season 1's Justin Guarini. Really? I think 2 people watched from Kelly to Justin (yes, Natalie, you were one) so I wouldn't be particularly proud. He decides to sing Marvin Gaye and he's actually pretty good. But the package is all wrong with the clothes and hair and vocal trills and hiccups. He is let through to Hollywood and hopefully goes to find a stylist, stat.

Sharon brought her cute dog with her. Of course the judges love the dog and I think she had a mediocre voice. But she's cute so Simon and Randy let her through immediately. Paula caved and said yes so it appears as though Sharon will be around next week. For a day or so at least...I kind of like how disgusted Kara is with the sheer maleness of Randy and Simon in some of their selections.

2 down and 2 in. Weird. I don't think that's happened before. That means the crazy should be ramped up next. The next girl wasn't completely crazy but had a terrible voice so she was out. Then was a cute African America girl with an over abundance of confidence for a nasally tone. Simon's comment: "Great smile but the voice is terrible." He then chastised her mother for encouraging the singing. He should have that conversation with every family member or friend of a rejected auditioner.

Miss Florida Latina USA belted out some Whitney Houston and I was fairly impressed. I was expecting her to be terrible. Wearing a tiara and sash does not typically result in a good audition. Simon was spot on with his comment that there was something off about this girl. Then she and Paula had a weird tete-a-tete and the judges passed her through to Hollywood. I feel like we are in Bizarro world tonight. What is up with this show?

Darren Darnell showed some dance moves before his audition that make me sure he was going to be terrible in front of the judges. He did not disappoint with his Boyz II Men rendition and his crying jags. Moving on we see a montage of disappointed hopefuls.

Last up on Day One was a girl who compared herself to Mariah Carey and suffers from some kind of spazziness. Somehow she managed to have Randy sit on Kara's lap and Paula on Simon's. But that was the total amount of entertainment once she opened her mouth to start singing. So the last audition of the day was a bust.

A total of 9 tickets were passed out. 94 total and counting.

We are promised heading into Day 2 that the talent will be much better. It can't be much worse. Randy and Simon are back in their regular seats and all is right in American Idol land. We meet a 16 year old Jasmine who comes with her mom and four sisters. And damn, they are some good looking women! She busts out some Fergie and totally nails it. I would be surprised if she doesn't do well in Hollywood. We'll see her next week and probably in the Top 20.

George, a Physics major, scares me immediately with his Grizzly beard. He is also shorter than Ryan which I didn't know was possible. I'm sure you will be shocked to hear that he was terrible.

Annmarie is 24 and loves Kara. Her adoration appears genuine and she has a great voice. Simon does nail it that she is lacking in confidence and he sends her out to find some and come back for a second chance. I am a bit annoyed at this ploy as she will obviously make it through with her talent. She throws on a little make up and takes off a jacket to show off her body. She sings a song I love ("Bubbly") and I am very excited about her. I like her modesty - it's a refreshing change from the hubris of all other contestants. The judges pass her through as well they should.

TK is back for a second year. He looks familiar but I don't really remember him from last year. He sings "Imagine" which he doesn't do as well as David A. did last season. But he does a nice job and has a good tone to his voice. Simon nixes him but the other three put him through to Hollywood.

Michael freaks out when he is told that he can't audition with his guitar. He stares at it during his audition so there is some kind of weird dependency there. I'm thinking a nice therapist can really help. He doesn't help himself with a terrible song selection. He is practically begging the judges for a shot and was correctly denied.

Another 7 for 16 total come out of Jacksonville. At 101 golden tickets we head to Salt Lake City tomorrow. The home of David Archuleta's enduring sweetness. I am bored with auditions now and ready for Hollywood Week. I know that Puerto Rico is still to come which means we have another whole week of this audition mess. I will give AI some editing credit with showing more talent than crazies this year. But the claim was the talent was so good they had to show more. Um, I'm not seeing that. Perhaps showcase a few more of the stellar performers? How about the rest of you? Are you still enjoying auditions or are you ready to get the show on the road?

SJ out.

Random Tuesday thoughts

Did you all hear about the octuplets born in California yesterday? Now, as a multiple myself, I can't really judge the family but let me try anyway. It is extremely unlikely that fertility treatments were not involved in this situation. By continuing with a pregnancy that has 8 fetuses (yes, one was a surprise but even 7 is very dangerous), the family has guaranteed that one or more of the children will have serious health issues over most of their lives. Weights ranged from 1 pound 8 ounces up to 3 pounds 4 ounces. I have to wonder at the quality of life for those children. However, with that said, I do love to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8 (twins and sextuplets) and think that their family is functional, loving and healthy. So who knows?

President Obama is in the process of redefining democracy in America. He built a huge database of voters when campaigning for president and plans to leverage that as he rolls out his initiatives. Needless to say, the Senate and House have come out against this as they don't want phone calls, emails and letters from their constituents over the next 4+ years. But I believe as the Internet has proliferated America, it has changed the way we consume information. I am a much better informed voter today than even 5 years ago thanks to real time news dissemination. So why not weigh in on more of the legislation that is being proposed? Does this mean our future could result in direct voting on issues rather than a representative government? Depends on whether we can employ real time voting or if people have the desire to be that involved in government at all levels.

Layoffs, layoffs and more layoffs. Like many of you, the last "recession" I lived through was during the Internet bubble collapse in 2000 and 2001. But at the time I was living in Boston with two roommates, had a decent job at SmallResearch and was close to family. So basically I didn't have any of the pressures I have now being pregnant, a home owner and major income contributor. I feel as though I add significant value to BigFinance with the work I perform but I am nowhere close to the level needed to understand what hiring/firing decisions are being made. This is definitely a scary time. I just have to keep reminding myself that our parents lived through quite a few of these cycles and everything worked out.

I am still inspired by the heroic actions of Captain "Sully" Sullenberger to put Flight 1549 down in the Hudson safely. I have devoured every piece of news on him and the situation. Usually when I first hear "heroic" news, I am immediately suspicious. How altruistic really were the actions? I think I watch too much TV with its twists and turns. It has warped my brain. But I never felt that way about Flight 1549. I understand why Sully couldn't talk to the press immediately after the accident (regulations and all) but I never felt like he would be anything other than a hero. What would really turn my stomach is if the passengers come out as money grubbing a**holes. It was an accident, and fortunately not a tragic one. It's not like they ended up on a remote island for 180 days and escaped death and destruction. Wait, wrong show...

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Things About Me

Mommy, Esq. and BostonDish both tagged me on Facebook for this meme but I thought I would post it on my blog to share since my blog is linked to my Facebook page. For those of you who know me well or have even been reading my blog regularly, many of these won't be surprises. But I hope to throw a few unexpected nuggets in too!
  1. I am a picky eater. And I hate it. Here's hoping the baby takes after DH!
  2. I would love to write a fantasy novel but I'm lazy and prefer reading other people's works and appreciating/critiquing them.
  3. Shhhh. Don't tell DH but I don't mind cleaning. I just need to be motivated and preferably have NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on in the background.
  4. Shopping is boring if I go by myself.
  5. I love living in the South and don't miss the snow at all.
  6. I love that we were able to buy a house but worry we bought at the peak of the market.
  7. I want to create a totally awesome landscape in our yard. Think fountains and waterfalls. If only it didn't require lots of time, money and back breaking work.
  8. I miss family and friends in Massachusetts, especially with the little one on the way.
  9. My middle name is Williams. I hated it when I was a kid but now I think it's pretty cool to have a family name as a middle name.
  10. My sisters are my best friends (I never thought I'd say that during the high school years!).
  11. I couldn't have moved to Charlottesville for B-School or Charlotte for a job without the support and encouragement of my dear husband.
  12. I don't believe in soul mates but I believe DH is a perfect fit for me (and vice versa I hope!).
  13. I like my job but don't love it. I'm not sure I need to love my job to feel fulfilled.
  14. I wish I was an expert in one thing.
  15. I worry unnecessarily about things.
  16. I dream about winning the lottery but never play it.
  17. I work for BigFinance but DH handles our money. Good thing he does because that means we save lots of money.
  18. I don't miss smoking at all. 10 months, no problem.
  19. I don't really like watching movies. Especially re-watching them. But I re-read books constantly.
  20. I think my dog is the best-est dog in the whole wide world. He really is our first "baby."
  21. I could take multiple naps in one day and still sleep through the night.
  22. I am a day dreamer.
  23. I hate to exercise. Seriously hate.
  24. I am worried about labor, delivery and everything that comes after.
  25. I am excited beyond words to meet our little girl.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


As of today I officially have 9 weeks to go until my due date. And I'm totally bored. Yup, I am struggling to come up with doing something fun and interesting this weekend. Anyone have ideas? At this point they don't even have to be good!

I'd love to go baby stuff shopping but my mom is throwing me a baby shower in 3 weeks so I should really wait until after then. The nursery is almost done, we cleaned the house last weekend and I'm saving a couple of really good books until closer to delivery. There's always the 40 hours or so of TV I've got on my DVR but shockingly it is not appealing.

I am trying to enjoy the last 9 weekends (give or take) without a baby to obsess about. So for those of you who are already parents, what do you recommend I indulge in for the next few weekends?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday updates

Thanks to everyone who has been visiting my blog this week. I won't be offended if you only stop by for the AI recaps but I will still be commenting on life in general so if you come by during one of those posts, suck it up!

I had my 30 week doctor's appointment earlier this week. Because the practice has 6 doctors and it's whoever is on call who delivers the baby, I have been meeting with more than just my primary OB/GYN. The doctor I met with this week, Dr. Considerate, was totally awesome. I am now hoping he will be delivering me. Although, as he even said, the doctor only spends like 10 minutes with you in the delivery room unless something goes wrong.

Dr. Considerate told me that the entire practice has a 38% C-section rate. That seemed extremely high to me (even with the trend towards scheduling and early delivery) but it is right in line with NC stats. My preference is for vaginal delivery but obviously I don't have control over that. DH and I have our childbirth class next weekend so I'll be sure and post more thoughts after that.

I am measuring at 31 weeks which puts me right at my estimated due date of 3/28. DH would love it if I go that weekend because he's scheduled his two fantasy baseball drafts the weekend before. Me? I'll probably want this baby to be out well before then! Plus, I'd prefer to not have the baby sharing my birthday (April 6). I already share it with A. and Mommy, Esq. That's enough. I've gained just around 20 pounds which I'm pretty happy with at this point. I think that the stomach flu helped last week since I gained less than a pound in two weeks. There's that silver lining...

In other news, NC unemployment rate is up over 8% right now compared to 5% from a year ago. Charlotte is in a hot spot with the financial industry challenges. Despite some bad news earlier this week I am still feeling confident in BigFinance and that my role will not be eliminated. I even invested in some stock this week. Not much but if the price rebounds it will be a very nice return. Why do I mention this? Well, given we are expanding our family very shortly, financial considerations are very much top of mind. DH and I feel squeezed even though we are crazy conservative with savings and retirement and spending. Of course he would say I'm not very conservative with spending but I haven't been shopping in months (aside from Xmas presents)!

This has been a crazy busy week and I'm looking forward to a nice, lazy weekend. I hope you all are too! Just 9 more weekends (potentially) of kid-free enjoyment for me and DH.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AI Season 8 Auditions: Louisville

Te begin with, Paula looked fabulous in her blue top and coiffed hair during day one. Then she went slutty in day two auditions. That's about right for her.

I was able to take notes during these auditions so comments about contestants are in order of appearance.

First up was Tiffany. As Alicia Silverstone would say, she was a total Monet. But while I thought she got extremely ugly in her close up, her creepy daddy didn't think so! Good thing she had a back up plan. Although I doubt college will really result in any kind of career for her.

AI then threw us a bone with Joanna. Interestingly (or perhaps not) she went to LA when she was 16 and had a record deal with ANR. I'm going to guess she is the one who blew it, but Kara seemed to know/like her. DH and I both thought she was good but not fantastic. Of course AI could have clipped the "worst" section to show us in order to keep more in reserve. I can see the producers being tricky like that. She is also a total crier which means we'll see a lot of her during Hollywood Week.

Our next crazy is Mark Mudd. His story about the name Mudd is actually pretty accurate. At least according to my in depth knowledge from the last National Treasure move. With his bad teeth and Deliverance accent this guy was very creepy. He almost died 5 times, including two car wrecks. Any guesses for drinking and driving???

Another "good" contestant was Brent Keith Smith. His career was listed as traveling musician but he wasn't very good, IMO. Of course he has the "vibe" and "look" so he's through to Hollywood. As DH said after, "they are letting some shitty people through to Hollywood this year." He causes continuing conflict between Kara and Simon. Simon is loving pushing Kara's buttons.

The next guy, "Dueling Piano Player" kind of looks like a poor man's Justin Timberlake. Or "retarded" according to DH. Interesting voice but kind of "meh" in terms of talent. Simon compared him to Elliot Yamin (remember those teeth?!?) and he's through to Hollywood.

Ross, The Super Nerd: this is the type of person I went to college with. Think I'm kidding? Take a walk on the Carnegie Mellon campus and check it out for yourself. I know you will be shocked by this, but Ross? He wasn't very good. I give him major props for drinking out of Paula's water cup.

21 year-old stay-at-home mom. Really? Must be nice to have your ass supported like that. She has a very interesting voice for a tiny white girl. I assume her mom will be taking care of her daughter while she's in Hollywood Week.

Aaron - the "I'm so pumped" guy. Personally I find that to be annoying. His voice was equally annoying. The crazy thing is I think he would have been pretty good if he wasn't shouting the whole thing. No golden ticket for that crazy.

Another potentially good contestant was Rebecca who decided a single fingerless purple glove was the way to go for a fashion accessory. Very cute but no voice. Kind of a shame because before she opened her mouth I thought she would be good. The look on her face when Kara asked her if she was there as a joke was priceless.

Quick montage of really good people. Why couldn't we have seen more than that?!?

Aaaand, here comes the "sob" story. Apparently she was raised in poverty by a single mother. Doesn't this girl understand it will not beat the blind guy? When she said she was going to sing her own song I groaned. That never works out well and she was being portrayed as good in the editing. Turns out the song was cute and the judges loved her. She might be a contender for Top 10 but it's so hard to tell with the little snippets we get to see.

19 Hollywood bound contestants made it through from Louisville. Grand total? 85 on the road to Hollywood.

Frankly, not showing stellar auditions is making me not look forward to the rest of the season. My advice to AI is to show the great in order to get the audience excited. Because now? Not so excited. I can't imagine a better Top 10 than last year. I predict a mediocre Taylor Hicks type winner at this rate.

Next week, the auditions continue. I am hoping it's only one more week but I have a feeling there are two more before Hollywood Week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AI Season 8 Auditions: San Francisco

There was a reason Ryan Seacrest could only come up with Katherine McPhee and William Hung as standouts from past San Francisco auditions. The talent? It does suck. But despite that, 12 forged on to Hollywood to join the 54 already through (27 for each other city). That brings us to 66 total. Considering I didn't see a single person who should make it past Hollywood, we can cross these 12 off our top 36 list now.

So William Hung represented the freaks who are only interested in air time. At least he was sweet. Some of these freaks were terrible. Katherine McPhee represents the "almost" quotient. Does that mean one of the Top 10 this year will also start in a Playboy bunny movie as a pregnant sorority girl? You decide.

A couple of standouts:
  • Girl who was trying out for Miss America. She was just weird which was a shame because if she wasn't she would be pretty and have a real voice. I don't disagree with the judges decision to let her through, she can sing. But that laugh. God, it's terrible! And she is very American (accent-wise) but when she says her full name she's all about the trills and rolling r's. Needless to say, that's how she sings too. If she is a representative of Puerto Rico then I am not surprised that they had terrible auditions there (so I heard).
  • Guy with the two cute kids. His name is Jesus, of course. There is something entirely right about that. And the guy is 29. How is that possible? Isn't 28 the cut off? Whatever. Jesus was not very good at singing (will God smite me for saying that?). Simon was dead on when he said he won't make it in Hollywood. But of course, he played the "look at my cute kids" card and got Paula, Kara and Randy to cave. Suckers. I don't plan on seeing anything of him during the clips from Hollywood week except for maybe a crying shot. Why do the judges give people like this hope? It's just cruel. I told DH that it would have been even cooler if he hadn't made it through and then had to explain to his kids that sometimes you don't get everything you want in life just because you want it. Life lesson, kids.
  • Guy who takes care of his mother who has a "seizure disorder". He can't ever leave her? What kind of disorder is that? Don't they have medicare people who can come by and help him out so he can get out of the house sometime? Regardless, this guy is angling for a sob story and there is no way he is going to beat the blind guy. All the rest of the contestants should just pack up their sob stories and shove them. He wins.
  • Adam from Wicked. I'm sure Natalie love him just for his association with that musical. He definitely has a stellar voice. But you know he is taking his last shot at American Idol (age is 26) because he never got a real recording contract while working in musical theatre over the past 8 years. I am holding out some hope he's not gay but kissing Paula's hand destroyed it.
  • Crazy: everyone else. In particular is Akilah who got 10 minutes of screen time for her crazy. Why did Paula and Kara coddle her? Was it her strong grasp of anatomy that intimidated them? Oddly I had hope she could sing but the Internet can't teach you how to pronounce words or be a better singer. That takes talent and true learning.

So ultimately this was a terrible audition day. It was kind of a waste of an hour. How about showing us some real talent for a change? I also didn't really like seeing Kara and Simon sniping at each other. I do like that she has an opinion. But she is new and needs to settle down. I'm kind of liking her but will hold my breath for true love until Top 10. Regardless I assume she has to offer better comments than Paula's inane mutterings. DH is not liking Kara because, "Simon is the man". Yup, that's my husband!

The daycare saga continues

DH and I have been cruising around Charlotte looking for that perfect daycare for our daughter. We are at T minus 5 months for starting daycare (assuming L&D is a little early for me). Now I wish we had started the search 6 months ago! Of course she wasn't even a twinkle at that point but I swear, that's what our daycare search has taught us. Have you started trying to get pregnant? Then put your name on a list now! Seriously, it's crazy.

We've toured 3 places so far and will probably tour 2 more depending on whether the facilities offer infant care or not. Our first appointment was the one. I just knew that we would love the facility and want to have our daughter there. First of all, location-wise it is perfect. Even if my next role at BigFinance puts me back in uptown rather than the suburbs it is still on the way to the daycare. And it's on the way to/from my current workplace and less than 2 miles from our house. Perfect!

It is a church run facility and for some reason, DH and I have been very much drawn to those. Not because we are particularly religious. Heck, no! The last religious ceremony I was at was 2 1/2 years ago at my wedding. It's more of the philosophy and the fact that it is not a chain. This particularly place (let's call it KidsChurch) has an awesome facility and a 4:1 ratio for infants. They have kids all the way up through elementary school so we could potentially keep our daughter there for many years. It's definitely the most expensive but it rated 5 stars according to NC (the best) so you get what you pay for. Wait list? One year :-( But the admin thought that would be cut down considerably in May once they go through the wait list to confirm placement. Plus some folks would probably be pulling kids out because of layoffs in the region.

The other facility we really liked is also church run (let's call it LittleChuch) is a bit farther away (closer to my current workplace) but is definitely doable. It only goes through pre-K but still plenty of time. Also 5 stars and the teachers seem really great. It's a bit less expensive than KidsChurch but not by much. Wait list? Potential start in August. Interestingly we toured the facility with another couple. It kind of made me competitive. Shocking, I know. But I was ready to whip out the checkbook just to get in ahead of them.

The last place was a chain facility (ChainCare). It is the farthest away but has immediate openings. No surprise considering it is a 4 star facility and offers a 5:1 ratio for infant care. The facility was fine and I liked the director but it definitely felt more "clinical" to me than the other two places. The director said she is hoping for a 5 star rating this Spring and will ask for funding for an additional teacher for infant care if she achieves it. But I can't really hold my breath for that to occur.

DH and I have decided we will put our names on the wait list for LittleChuch and KidsChurch. We have to wait until tomorrow because we got a few inches of snow last night/this morning so the city is shut down. We still need to check out a few other places before we decide if we want to put the little one in ChainCare for a couple of months before we can get in to one of our "final" choices. Is this what's it's going to be like for private school? No wonder people go crazy in NYC with this stuff.

I told DH that I have a feeling everything will work out and we'll get in to KidsChurch with no wait. For some reason I am the most optimistic person throughout this pregnancy. Nothing can phase me. Of course we'll see how that pans out when I have my bonus discussion. Optimism can quickly become pessimism when dealing with money issues...

Shout out to LauraC for her help with my NC childcare question on Friday. The admin was just confused as we suspected!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week 30: Pregnancy rears its head

Last night was awful. Either it is a resurgence of my illness from earlier in the week or pregnancy has finally reared its ugly head. Probably a combination of both. I haven't eaten anything since last night and I still have heartburn. How is that possible?

And poor DH was woken up every 10 minutes as I shifted position trying to find a spot that was comfortable. I did not succeed. I ended up surrounded by something like 20 pillows trying to get pressure off the belly. Is this what I have to look forward to for the next 10 weeks???

According to my weekly newsletter, the little one is now the size of a cabbage, weighing about 3 pounds. Whoever writes the newsletter must love cabbages because I think there have been several other references to that particular vegetable. It's kind of scary to think that when I was born I was only 3 pounds 2 ounces! And Mommy, Esq. was even smaller. In a way it makes me feel more comfortable. I know I survived being born over two months early so my baby will get that much stronger and healthier. And then she can be wicked smart, make lots of money and let her mom retire :-)

DH and I have another daycare appointment tomorrow so I'll be sure and post an update next week about our challenges in securing the best care for our baby. Aside from that, I'm settling in for a good day of football and DH is making homemade chicken soup. What gender role reversal? Here's to an all PA Super Bowl - go Steelers and Eagles!

Friday, January 16, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Auditions: Phoenix and Kansas City

The long lines.
The screaming fans.
The people with talent.
The people with crazy.

This is American Idol.

Ah, you've got to love auditions week. A few weeks ago I heard that AI was making some changes to their format. Everyone knows about the new judge, Kara. I'm still on the fence about her, but more on that later. The other changes I heard about were that more "good" auditions would be shown instead of bad and Hollywood week would result in a top 36 instead of top 24. Now last year I only started blogging at the top 24 but my fans (well, really fan - Hi Natalie!) have requested I start earlier. I can't promise next day recaps like I had last year because so much more happens during auditions and Hollywood week. But I should be back on that schedule by the top 24 at least.

I don't think that AI has been showing that much more in the way of good auditions. OK auditions, yes, but not necessarily good. There are maybe 4 or 5 people I've seen so far that I think "have the chops" to make it to the live sound stage. Yes, I am predicting that "chops" will be the word of the season.

The thing about American Idol that kills me every audition season is that so many people think it is going to change their lives. Really? Really, people? One person makes it a season. One. Odds are it ain't gonna be you. I doubt Sanjaya is making much money off his voice these days. And he even made it to the Top 10. I still don't understand how that happened...

That's the thing about American Idol that makes it so great. It is so very American. Yeah, I know there are many other countries that have it but let's focus on our country first. I've already mentioned the delusions. Americans are also willing to prostitute themselves (no, I'm not just talking about bikini girl) to get on TV. Of course the guy with the weird outfit singing to a banana is going to make it on TV. He and you both know he's pure comedy gold. Americans are also delusional. There really are people who think they have stellar voices. Um, OK. Just because your mom thinks you are good doesn't mean you are. And what's up with those family and friends who just know a person is going to make it? Reality isn't just a TV genre. The best are the people who think just because they have worked "so hard" they deserve a shot at Hollywood week. Puh-lease. If you really worked hard you'd be a welder instead of a kid who lives with his mom. Snap!

The first stop on the AI audition tour was sunny and hot Phoenix AZ. Did you know that this city is rapidly becoming the retirement capital of the US? Move aside, Florida! The baby boomers have no interest in living in the swamp with their parents. They prefer 100 degree dry heat. Ryan Seacrest opens the show with a montage from last season. Is it totally wrong that I recognized every single person show in those clips? No, I'm not obsessed.

AI decided to "reward" the audience with a first audition that was awful. I am immediately disappointed. Then we see the girl who will be DH's favorite if she make it to the top 12: Emily Wynne-Hughes. Rocker extraordinaire. I made fun of Carly for her tatts, I am not afraid to make fun of hers. She sings Barracuda and is quite good. Totally willing to dump her bandmates (and apparently they are pretty popular in LA so they will hate here) which is a good sign. Hollywood or bust!

Then we see a rocker wannabe. Dude is terrible and thinks just because he dresses all Axel he'll make it to Hollywood. Simon is quick to correct his assumption. He is quickly followed by one of those, "I can't believe he's only 16" vocal freaks that probably sings the lead in every high school musical. Simon loves him of course. And he immediately fades away in my mind. We'll see if he reappears after Hollywood week. I doubt it.

A couple more freaks come through (why do their families encourage them!?!) and Kara is showing her nice side. She hasn't been broken yet by the machine that is American Idol. Just wait until her favorites bite the dust during Hollywood week. How quickly things change! Don't get your hopes up on any contestant, new judge. They will all disappoint you some time or another.

The judges put through another cute, 16 year old (Arianna Afsar) and keep the hope alive that this time a David Archuleta will win. They then see the obligatory Kara D. fan that must be introduced just so the audience knows how awesome she is. I'm still on the fence, AI, don't push it! She seems normal at first but the pink cowboy hat and book of songs is a dead give away. Fortunately Kara is not swayed by her fan and she is denied. Not denied is another 16 year old named Stevie who seems pretty cool. She does sing the most overdone wedding song ever ("At Last") but she does it well.

Apparently this is the young/old season because the next contestant let through is a 27 year old who makes his living on an oil rig. Very cool. Interestingly I think it was the same oil rig that was featured on "America's Toughest Jobs". DH made me watch it, I swear. I feel kind of bad for this guy because he's not good enough to make it. He's just not. But his hopes are now up that he can quit his "fifth most dangerous job" and provide for his family.

And then we leave that sweet man to see the horror that is bikini girl. This is when I start to think I might like Kara. Now, I am not going to deny that this girl is hot. Although her body is a lot more hot than her face, IMO. But did she deserve a pass to Hollywood with her mediocre voice? No. But that's what happens when you give Simon the deciding vote. Kara is appalled and I applaud her attitude. Kara shows her how the song should be done and gets attitude in return. Now Kara can sing! Don't worry, the chickie will crash in Hollywood once she's wearing clothes and Simon doesn't remember her.

Also through is a girl who sings, "Let's Hear It For The Boy." As soon as she said she was going to sing that song I knew Brianna was in. I fricking love that song. Yes, I spent hours singing along to the soundtrack of Footloose. What girl born in the 1970s hasn't???

Some random girl who tries to adopt other people's families is through as is the scary effeminate boy who is also creepy but has a good voice. Then we see a smart contestant. OMG. A smartie! Of course Simon does not like that but this kid is so cute. His name is Alex and he sang in a closet until mold forced him out. What an engaging story. He could totally use that on his college essay. He totally riffs with Simon but not in that annoying "I'm trying to one up you" kind of way. He is through as he should be and I'm tentatively putting him on my list.

The last contestant is the ratings grabbing blind guy. And I have to say, he is totally inspiring. Obviously his parents did an excellent job raising him. Yes, now that I'm pregnant I'm all about praising the parents. He is totally through and I would be surprised if he doesn't survive Hollywood week too. No way he'll win the whole thing but America loves a sob story.

I'm exhausted, people. OK, on to Kansas City. This will be shorter as I'm only mentioning the people I really like or really hated.

Casey Carlson. Smoking hot, great voice. Totally in the Top 10. She's already being written about on TMZ. Always a good sign.

Guy who's wife died. I was totally prepared to roll my eyes at this one. Remember how they milked the dead dad last season? But it was his wife, y'all. It was touching. And he has a really nice set of pipes. I see him surviving Hollywood week. He kind of looks like Robert Downey, Jr., don't you think?

Girl who sang the song Simon wrote. He writes songs? Is there nothing this man can't do? Of course she was going to make it through, footprints or footsteps notwithstanding.

Guy with fedora. But he will be dropped early because is pretty high school musical.

Girl who takes care of her 93 year old grandmother. Adorable!

The dorky Anoop "Noop Dawg" who is a graduate student at UNC. He wrote his thesis on BBQ. What is cooler than that? Very nice voice but could use a makeover.

Asa who sang Michael Jackson and did it well even though it is so hard to sing Michael Jackson.

Girl with husband and three kids who's apartment was destroyed by a tornado. At least she wasn't all, "I deserve this because my life sucks." She wasn't as good as the judges thought, IMO, but I think they were worn down by the suckiness of the other contestants.

Sleeping girl who used God as her vengeance. Really sleeping girl? Perhaps you should have practiced instead of sleeping. God will get you now!

Guy who had two cheerleaders. Plus he was totally cabaret. I hate when girls let themselves be used like that. Especially by gay guys.

Jason Castro's brother. Dude was not that good. He's only through because of his whole, "I only started singing 21 days ago BS." And he's very odd looking.

The guy who had a dream about Simon and basically bullied his way into Hollywood. Simon told the other judges they were "duped" and they totally were. Of course he let bikini girl through so he's not really one to talk.

That was exhausting, people. I'm not sure I can do this again next week, but you never know! Now that I'm feeling back to normal I could have the energy for note taking. What did you all think about the auditions. Any particular standouts for you?

I would ask you to reflect on the following: have we ever seen a winner come out of audition footage that airs during audition weeks? I don't think so.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The illness from hell

Sorry I've been so quiet for the last few days. I know many of you have been expecting my initial thoughts on American Idol. I promise to post them this weekend once I'm fully recovered from my stomach bug. Yes, I am currently suffering from a stomach bug that has knocked me for a loop. I'm tempted to blame Janusz for giving it to me since he stayed over for a few days recovering from "bad sushi" but his lasted for 4 days and I'm starting to feel better at 36 hours into the illness.

It has been so long since I was this sick I think I need to go all the way back to when my grandmother tried to poison the entire family for a comparative incident. Yes, that's right. Mimi attempted to pull a Lucrezia Borgia and do away with her entire family. OK, I'll be honest. It wasn't deliberate. It was an archaic oven that was actually 50+ degrees cooler than what the temperature gauge said. Mmmm, all that bacteria cooking away in the turkey! It was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner followed by a fight for the use of the two bathrooms. Yes, this story is still told fondly at basically every family event. Even if Mimi isn't there.

DH has been wonderful as I recover from this sickness. Of course I've made his job easier by sleeping basically the entire time. I was up from 1 AM until 7 AM running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. It settled down to about once every 30 minutes and I managed to sleep until 6:30 PM when I roused myself for about an hour to have some toast and head back to bed. The dog was in heaven since it meant he got to sleep in the bed with me all day. We don't normally let him do that (although I swear he does when we leave the house) so he thought yesterday was the best day ever while I thought I was dying. The best part was having to wake him up because he was snoring so loud I couldn't sleep!

The only good thing was that I felt the baby moving a lot like she was telling me, "It sucks to be you but I'm floating along in here fine!"

In other news, DH and I are back to the drawing board on baby names. The one we picked moved way up the list of 2008 most popular baby names. I'd prefer to pick a name where my daughter isn't one of 5 in her class, you know? So feel free to pass along suggestions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Adventures in Home Improvement: The Library

When DH and I moved into our house we starting making a list of everything we wanted to change about the place. The former home owners had done a good job with a few things (installed hardwood floors on the second floor, removed the wallpaper and popcorn ceilings) but the house was lacking in design aesthetic.

The biggest room in the house is the front room which would usually be designated as the formal living room. The only problem is that we don't exactly entertain frequently so dressing up a room that we would never use wasn't an economical use of our time or money. That's what the dining room was for :-)

As I have mentioned previously, I am a big reader. We knew we needed more storage for the massive amounts of books I currently have and plan to have. What can I say, if you are an avid reader of fantasy books the series can be very numerous. We also knew that eventually we would start a family so additional storage for that would be ideal as well as a room that could be versatile. The result? Our library.

The first step was paint. I picked out two colors: True Blue for the accent wall/built ins and Loft from Ralph Lauren. Here's a tip: name brands really do cost more. But for the darker colors, it is important to have high quality paint. I'm very happy with the colors I chose. DH, of course, did the painting.

We got an excellent recommendation for a contractor who built 17 feet of built ins for us out of red oak. It took him about 2 weeks because he was working on a few other jobs as well. It's the first time I've seen DH with total tool envy. DH also peaked in periodically to shoot the shit with Adam and picked up a few tricks of the trade that helped him immensely when he was rebuilding the nursery closet built ins.

The built ins at 75% complete

The trickiest part of the whole project was staining. DH decided that to save money, he was going to stain the wood and poly it himself. I was skeptical. But we got one quote that was for $2200 just to stain the built ins. That was more than we spent to build them (including materials)! So DH spent several weeks staining the wood. The problem? Apparently the wood filler used to cover the nail holes does not accept stain, regardless of what the directions say. So we had beautiful built ins with lots of light colored spots. It did not look good.

We managed to get another quote that was much more reasonable for someone to come in, sand down all the hard work DH did and re-stain it along with a couple of coats of poly. I think the revised quote was $600. Needless to say, the previous painter was trying to rip us off, no?

Built ins, complete. The left side is a cabinet, the middle a desk and the far right are drawers for additional storage.

Once the built ins were complete, it was time to get decorating. I searched for weeks for the perfect accessories and furniture. In fact, it may have been months! The most important piece of furniture was the chaise I knew needed to be included. I wanted a two armed chaise for reading. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a two armed chaise? And I live in NC, the furniture capital of the country! I finally found a floor model from a furniture outlet. I wasn't thrilled with the pattern (green with light blue dots) but figured I can always get it re-upholstered. Turns out I just integrated it with other things and I think it works. DH was very happy to save that money :-)

The chaise that I now have some issues getting in and out of because of the burgeoning belly.

I always knew I wanted to integrate my college and MBA chairs (thanks for the graduation presents Mom and Dad!) into the room with a "library table". Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a round pedestal table that isn't dining room table size!?! It was a beast, to say the least. DH and I were using up some left over gift cards from Crate and Barrel when we saw the perfect table. It was the final missing piece of furniture. When I work from home I find myself working from this table. It will be great once the baby gets older and wants to color, etc. Now if only the high gloss of the table was forgiving for children's play...

Library table and college chairs. We also put up our diplomas around the room to give it the additional "library" feel. I still have to get my Darden diploma framed but it's gigantic so it can wait.

My mom stopped by during the several months it took to finish up the room and helped me buy knickknacks and style the bookshelves. Thanks, Mom!

Another shot of the library from the doorway. This one of only three rooms in the house with curtains. Sad, but true. Why are curtains always the last to get put up?

I hope you all like the adventures in home improvement. If you do, let me know and I'll post more. DH and I love improving our first home together. Well, I love designing and he is great at doing. Perfect combination!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New food addictions

I wouldn't call these food cravings, per se, but I have discovered some new foods recently that have gone on my "must" list. I am a notoriously picky eater so any time I like a new food or food product it's a pleasant surprise.
  • Vitamin Water - DH picked up a few of these for our trip up North over the holidays. I love them! My favorites are lemonade and kiwi strawberry. I would seriously have them every day if they didn't cost around $1 each. I am often bored by just drinking water. DH can go through 8+ glass a day, but not me. I need a little something to punch it up. Going the juice route is just extra calories. With Vitamin Water the flavor to water quotient is perfect and I'm getting vitamins and no calories. Perfect!

  • Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers - I clipped a coupon for these a few months ago but my grocery store only started carrying them recently. If you are having trouble finding them check the pasta/rice aisle or the soup aisle. They are a little extra work than a typical microwavable meal but totally worth it. Somehow Healthy Choice figured out how to get al dente pasta out of a microwave. My favorite is the zesty marinara. Now, they are a little pricey ($3) but the perfect amount of food when combined with a salad. Talk about a nice healthy lunch!

  • Naan - from the grocery store, no less! I have to admit this one is kind of a cheat. I have always loved naan but only get it when we infrequently go out for Indian food. But when we were up North I discovered International Fabulous Flats™ Tandoori Naan in my mom's grocery store. No need to have a special oven or spend hours making your own dough (not that I would), just pop in the oven with some olive oil for a few minutes and it tastes almost exactly like what you get in the restaurant. Now if only they carried it at my grocery store...the website claims that Harris Teeter does but I haven't seen it yet. DH and I make Indian food all the time. Just cut up some chicken and add the premade Tandoori or Curry sauces found in the international aisle. We usually add chickpeas for a little extra veggies.

DH and I are trying to add to our regular mix of dinners as well. So if anyone has recommendations, please let me know. We are much more chicken people than other types of meat so chicken recipes in particular are welcome.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Updates

Thanks to everyone who commented on my daycare search. DH and I do plan on going to the facilities during the week so we can meet the staff and get a better feel for how the kids are cared for. I have a feeling we will end up with one place initially and then switch to a "preferred" location in a few months. Here's hoping that a bunch of vacancies come up right around June!

This week at work was definitely challenging. It was hard for me to get my head back in the game (is it sad that I think of the High School Musical song as I type that?). Coming off of two weeks vacation and knowing that I'm in my last trimester makes me feel like now it's just a waiting game. I have to snap out of it because I still have 11 weeks to go!

It has also been surprisingly warm in Charlotte over the past few weeks. Temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s which makes me feel like Spring is just around the corner. I have to keep reminding myself that it's only January...

This weekend is going to be errand weekend. DH and I have lots of little things to get done. I would also like to clean the house but it's not that bad yet so we'll see if that happens. I should take advantage of the fact that I can still bend over now, though. After seeing Mommy, Esq. during her last trimester I'm not sure how long that will last! I'm waiting for the "cleaning nesting mode" to kick in that I've read about on some of the pregnancy message boards. One woman said she started cleaning at 1 AM and couldn't stop until 4:30! I'm lucky if I can motivate myself to head to the bathroom during that time. I'm much more of an organizer and picker-upper than a cleaner.

I hope you all have a great weekend and I'm sure I'll post again before Monday. Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The daycare saga begins

While DH and I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, we did make a list of things that need to happen before the baby comes. We'd love to refinance the mortgage given the low interest rates. I'm also looking into consolidating my private student loans. But I doubt anyone can beat the current rate I have of 2.5% (although it is variable).

The most important thing on the list is to secure daycare for our baby. Since BigFinance has a generous maternity leave policy (12 weeks paid!) we are looking for a daycare with openings at the end of June or early July (depending on how quickly she wants to joins us). One of the biggest factors will be location. Right now I work south of Charlotte in a "remote" office but I am in a rotational program so in 6 months I could end up back uptown. So we need to find a place close to home to avoid having to switch while she is still an infant. Also, that way I won't be responsible for pick up and drop off every time. DH would probably do morning drop off since I get to work by 7:30 and I would do pick up.

We can't do a nanny (not just because of expense) as DH works from home and that would be very awkward. I am also anti home daycare at this point. I worry about putting the baby in a place where it is a mixture of ages. I'd prefer a facility that has dedicated infant care. Once she's a toddler I'd feel more comfortable.

A. emailed me her daycare spreadsheet which I used as a starting point in my search. I then spent 3 hours on Google maps looking for all daycare facilities close to our zip code. I went up to page 80 on the results so I was feeling good with my list. I found 5 that I thought were contenders and started making the calls.

Two of them (the ones I liked the most from the web search) had 18 month waiting lists! Gah. We'll probably put our names on the lists because they are great, location-wise and are very highly rated. Is it wrong that I think impending layoffs in Charlotte could result in a lot of daycare openings? I'm totally going to hell...not good considering these two places are associated with churches.

Another one that looked promising has a 5:1 teacher to infant ratio. Um, I don't think so! As a triplet I have no idea how my mom handled the three of us. Adding two more to the mix makes me picture my baby crying in her crib for 15-20 minutes before she gets some comfort. No way.

That leaves us with two KinderCare facilities which are not in the best locations. I drive by the facilities quite a bit and they look pretty run down. I haven't called them yet in the hopes that I will find more options. DH is working with SmallResearch's Employee Assistance Program to get a list of more options. They will even call the facilities which is great.

For those of you who have been down the daycare path, how did you find it? Are there specific questions that DH and I should be asking when we go visit? Feel free to heap advice on these first time parents!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A trip to the dentist

A. told me that she ended up with something like 8 cavities after Finn was born. Having really great teeth and only one cavity in my past, I am determined that this will not happen to me. So I scheduled an appointment with BigDentist, a place I've been to probably 3 or 4 times in the last year and a half.

I already have a grudge against BigDentist because it always seems like they want me to pay out of pocket for some service that I really don't need. Now, I do pay for the stuff I can't live without. Exhibit A (that's for you Mommy, Esq!) is my mouth guard purchased the summer of 2007 for a cost of $400. I am a nighttime teeth clencher and it was starting to cause deep grooves in my teeth. Best money I ever spent! I can't sleep without it more (totally sexy, no?) and it cured me of headaches I didn't even know I had. Until I started using it I didn't realize I was waking up with a slight headache every day. Crazy.

What kills me is when someone at BigDentist tells me I need to pay $60 for a special bacteria treatment because of some stupid thing that could, potentially, down the road result in a cavity. I brush twice a day and floss religiously. I'm probably better than 90% of the patients they see and they still want me to pay for stuff not covered by insurance. I realize they have to make a living but come on! They get money at least twice a year from my dental insurance. And they totally play the fear factor. When I refused an optional treatment they wrote it up in my records and made me sign it. How crazy is that?!?

I had already been considering a switch but for right now they have all my records and I can't get new films for obvious reasons. So I figured one last trip and then I'd find a new dentist after the baby arrives. Hopefully one where there are weekend hours or at least appointments that can be scheduled earlier than 10 AM or later than 4 PM. Dentistry is such a scam. Even my OB has better hours!

BigDentist cancelled my first appointment because their hygienist was out sick. OK. Fine. Although it is BigDentist, shouldn't there be other people to do the work? So I rescheduled for a Friday morning during my vacation. I arrived about 10 minutes early which is standard for me. I was told that no one could see me and they called me to cancel my appointment. Needless to say, I was not happy and I threw a hissy fit.

Me: You already cancelled on me once and now that I'm here you want to do it again? No. That is unacceptable.
Receptionist: According to my records we left two messages for you.
Me: Obviously you didn't because I'm here. And I got the messages the last time you cancelled on me.
Receptionist: Our records said we did.
Me: I am not getting into an argument about this.
Receptionist: We don't have a hygienist here and never do on Fridays
Me (thinking): What the f&%ck? Why did you schedule me then?
Me: Who is in today?
Receptionist: Our dentist is here.
Me: Ask her to do it.
Receptionist: Can I send you to another location and have someone there do it.
Me: No. I'm here already. I expect to be seen.
Receptionist: I'll see what I can do.

The result? Success! The dentist bitched a bit about doing it (nicely since she is a senior partner and I'm a patient) but she cleaned my teeth and made sure I had no cavities developing. Her demeanor has almost changed my mind about switching practices. Of course, whenever I go I deal mostly with the receptionists and hygienists and only see a dentist for 5 minutes. So I'll probably still switch for my next check up.

Anyone else have issues with their dentist? I feel like I'm particularly cursed because my childhood dentist was not very good either. Our affectionate nickname for him was Dr. Death. It's hard to find reviews online for dentists because there are so many of them. Feel free to pass along any advice about finding a good dentist. I suppose I should try and find one that also has a pediatric dentist on hand...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Movie reviews

I would certainly prefer to have another two weeks off from work but am feeling fairly renewed after having a low key 5 days before starting work again. Plus I've officially reached the third trimester now that I'm 28 weeks preggers. Woo hoo! Although can they really be called trimesters any more considering pregnancies are actually 40 weeks? Does that mean the first trimester is longer? Why are these the things that keep me up at night?

DH and I had a friend in town this weekend (Hi Janusz!) which was nice, especially for DH. He does love his guy friend time. We played a few games of Monopoly (old school version) and DH did terribly. It doesn't help that Janusz and I landed on Free Parking about 8 times each. I think DH got it once. That hurts.

Because the final stretch of the vacation was so relaxing, I had a chance to catch up on a couple of movies I've been meaning to see: Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Iron Man. Both were very good, although very different. DH and I love How I Met Your Mother and think that Marshall (Jason Segel) is the best character on the show. So when I heard that Sarah Marshall was coming out, I knew I'd have to rent it. The opening scene with full frontal nudity was awesome. What a way to have a break up! I love Kristen Bell so it was great to see her in a leading movie role. Now why can't Rob Thomas drop everything and make a Veronica Mars movie? The best part of the movie was that the relationship wasn't totally one sided. Sarah wasn't just the terrible dumper and Peter the entirely sympathetic dumpee. And the supporting actors and characters were a riot. I definitely recommend you add this movie to your NetFlix list.

Iron Man was a good solid action movie. Robert Downey, Jr. was a very good choice as the hero although it was a waste of Gwyneth Paltrow's talents. I liked Tony Stark the best as a playboy. When he started being all altruistic it wasn't as much fun. The action sequences were well done but I have the same complaint I always do when I watch action movies. It is really necessary to have a 15 minute action sequence? After 5 minutes of punches being thrown and things exploding, I get it! Perhaps I am just getting old and can't take the loudness of those scenes. Another movie to add to your queue...

DH and I are not very big movie people primarily because our tastes are wildly divergent. He likes movies like Blood Diamond and I would prefer films like 27 Dresses. I think it's because I watch so many more serial TV shows that require an investment in brain power (Fringe, CSI, etc.) and I don't need that in movies too. I also hate how long movies have gotten. What happened to the 90 minute movie? That's a perfect chunk of time. Now I am lucky to find a film that is less than two hours long. Who has the time, energy or patience for that? Although, I will say if a film is done well, time doesn't matter as much (see The Good Shepherd or Forrest Gump).

Any light hearted movie recommendations for me to stock up on when I go out for maternity leave? Or if you have any deep movies that DH should watch, feel free to pass those title along.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A whirlwind trip to Massachusetts

Even though DH and I were up on Massachusetts for more than a week, it felt as though the trip was really quick. That's not to say I am not happy to be back home! I feel as though my real vacation can now start :-)

DH and I drove back on Tuesday and of course, ran into traffic about 30 miles from Charlotte. Traffic for NO REASON, mind you. Just dumb ass drivers. Until then we only had to deal with dumb ass drivers who didn't realize they were holding up a line of traffic. We were on 81 for most of the trip which is a 2 lane highway. Here's a hint, people: if you are in the left lane and there is NO ONE in front of you for a few miles but a line of cars 30 deep behind you, get in the right lane!! You are holding up traffic. Jeesh.

Over the trip, I indulged in lots of Christmas cookies and won every card game. Overall, it was a good Christmas, if a little hectic. Grammy gave DH and me new bedding, pillows and lamps for our master bedroom. DH also got several framed Yankee Sports Illustrated pictures. So I guess we'll have to remodel our bedroom and his office sooner rather than later. I am the best wife ever because I don't mind him turning his office into the new Yankee stadium. Despite many Red Sox outfits for our baby girl, I have a feeling his enthusiasm for the Yankees will result in one more Yankee fan...

I had a chance to visit Mommy, Esq. a few times and see Natalie, Helen and Amy. We haven't made too many friends in Charlotte yet (thanks Stacy and Janusz for moving to Germany!) so it was great to have lots of girl talk.

Practice makes perfect!

Natalie and Amy dote on Ned

DH and I were apparently so exhausted from our trip that for the past two nights we have been sleeping for 12 hours. Of course the dog loved that. He was a nervous wreck for most of the trip. Not only does he not like change, my mom has a cat. They left each other alone for the most part but Charlie did try to get a few bites in as did the cat.

Charlie thinks if he ignores the cat, she will go away.

Charlie saw lobsters for the first time ever. He wasn't very impressed.

The long drive has decided us that for my baby shower in February, I will be flying. No way I can do 24+ hours in the car over a 96 hour period.

It has been a great 2008 and I know 2009 will also be wonderful. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Best wished for 2009!!