Thursday, April 30, 2009

Going it alone

Before anything else, let me say how thrilled I am that I have a new niece and Cameron a new girl cousin! They will only be a month apart in age and hopefully will be really good friends. Congrats to A., M. and Finn!

I am a single parent this week while DH is traveling. We have Cameron on a really good sleep schedule right now so it hasn't been too painful. My biggest complaint is not having adult conversation. DH works from home so I can talk with him quite a bit throughout the day. Of course most of my comments to him are like the following:
  • She had a huge blowout today!
  • We just had a really good feeding.
  • She is being a fusspot right now.
  • Can you hold her for a minute?

Really stimulating conversation, right? I also miss DH during the witching hours (usually 5 PM to 7 PM) and as an extra set of hands for diaper changes. Come home soon, honey!

In the meantime I have been running errands each day just to get out of the house. I also have to do some cleaning since we are hosting a play date on Saturday. There will be a whole post on the play date this weekend and I really need to write about my inability to let dust and dog hair go. I picked up Weissbluth's book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Cameron has been really good with sleeping but I need to prepare myself for the inevitable changes to come.

I have also noticed that Cameron's eyes are lightening. They are turning a true blue. Can anyone tell me if that means she will have blue eyes? I know eyes can change for up to a year but if they are already lightening does that indicate blue will be the final color?

Here are some pictures of Cameron for your enjoyment.

Daddy is in charge of bath time and Cameron really likes it now!

Isn't this the cutest towel ever? Grammy got it for Cameron because our nickname for our dog Charlie is "chicken."

This is Cameron being drunk on milk. I actually tried to look presentable before we headed out to a play date.

Isn't Cameron's new outfit adorable?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AI Season 8: Top 5 perform the Rat Pack

And here we are at our Top 5. I am predicting even before watching the show that Matt Giraud will be the next person kicked off.

Tonight are standards from the Rat Pack and I have a feeling tonight will be really, really good. If you want some predictions about what people will be singing what, check out Jordan's blog.

For some reason Jamie Foxx is selected as this week's mentor. Apparently he is classically trained and has a top selling R&B album. I had no idea. I still think he's an arrogant jerk, but let's see if he gives any good advice.

Up first is Kris Allen who could be in the finals. He's just so darn cute! He picks "The Way You Look Tonight" and I melt a little. I love that song. Jamie Foxx seems impressed with his vocals. Kris decides to sing it straight in the beginning rather than play with the arrangement. He does a nice job of showcasing his range and smooth voice but it's kind of a boring performance. It picks up a little at the end and I kind of wish it stayed in the slower arrangement for the whole song. I would be shocked if he goes home given his ginormous fan base. Randy called it his best performance to date. Kara said Kris set a technical standard. Paula slobbered over him and Simon pulled us back to reality by calling it a little bit "wet."

The last girl in the competition is up next. Who could have predicted that Allison would be the final woman standing? Not I. Which is why the Top 36 performances was such crap. No more of this Group A, B and C and only one performance before the Top 12 are selected. Allison looks lovely and celebrated her 17th birthday so Randy can stop with the "she's only 16" BS. She selects "Someone To Watch Over Me" and I think it's a great song choice for her voice. Jamie tells her to "feel her family" while singing and I roll my eyes. I absolutely love Allison's performance and think that it is her best in terms of a vocal performance. Randy called it the bomb, Kara thinks she will sail through to the next round, Paula called her alluring and tender and actually made a lot of sense. Simon thought it was a great performance but isn't sure that Allison believes she can win. I can't disagree.

Matt Giraud is up and you know he is shitting himself with how much he loves this week's theme. He pulls out the lame hat and I wish Anoop was sitting there instead. He decides on "My Funny Valentine" and I have to give him props since it's a challenging song. Jamie tells him to change the key. The beginning starts off a little rough for me; it seems pitched too low for him. He really picks up stride with the second verse but it's still not a wow performance for me. Randy said it was a little pitchy (agreed), Kara didn't think he was the "leader of the pack" or emotionally connected to the song. Paula loved what he did (natch) and Simon disagrees with Randy. Color me shocked. I still think he's going home, regardless of what Simon said.

Danny Gokey gets the fourth spot and decides on "Come Rain or Come Shine." Jamie Foxx gets "all up in his grill" and I loose whatever little respect I have for the man. Danny definitely puts a blue-sy spin on the song and it sounds really good. He is another contender for the finals with Adam. Is anyone thinking Adam won't be in the finals at this point? Danny gives a really energetic performance and the crowd eats it up. Randy thinks he could have an album of songs like what he just sang. Kara said he had Rat Pack swagger and Paula called it stellar. Simon said Danny proved a point. He wasn't clear on what point but I have to assume it was that he belongs in the finals.

Adam picks "Feeling Good" and is wearing a totally awesome white suit. Ever with the theatrics, he starts on the stairs under a white spotlight. He pulls out the gay for this song and it is completely perfect. There is a reason he got the money spot this week (not that he probably doesn't deserve it every week). This kid is making it whether he wins AI or not. He proves my point by singing a long note that must last at least a minute. Absolutely his best performance yet and probably the best of the entire competition. No joke. Randy said it was a little Broadway but in the zone. Kara calls it a whole bunch of acronyms. Paula decides he makes her feel good. Better than the drugs she's on? Simon recognizes that Adam wants to win and loved the entrance.

So, who's out? I'm still sticking with Matt Giraud but Allison could be in trouble too. What do you think?

SJ out.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The daycare saga continues

Now that I am a month into my maternity leave I decided to check in on the 3 places we have identified as childcare options for Cameron. I am now feeling particularly depressed and am looking for a little cheering up.

Our #1 choice, KidsChurch has us 25 out on the wait list. 25! We put our name on the wait list in early January and were told it was a year wait. But we were assured that it would really be much less because so many infants on the list would "age out" and we should be able to get one of the 8 spots way before a year. Apparently not since we are 25 back and there are only 8 spots. It's a great facility and absolutely perfect in terms of location so needless to say, I am very disappointed. I also haven't clarified what happens when Cameron ages out of infant into the 9+ month group. Do we have to start all over again on the wait list or are we grandfathered in? I assume the latter but need to verify.

Our second choice, LittleChurch is 99% sure they can't get us in for my return to work but may have an opening in August.

So that leaves our third selection, ChainCare. Now, don't get me wrong, we like this facility. We particularly like the director but she isn't the one running the actual class. They are still 4 stars but should be certified 5 stars by the time Cameron starts. And they have an opening for her when we need one. I did ask the director for references and should be hearing from a couple of parents this week. I hope that alleviates my concern of their 5:1 infant to caregiver ratio. The director did say she should get another infant caregiver once they have achieved their 5 star rating but it is dependent on whether their HQ approves it or not.

If we like ChainCare then we may just leave Cameron in there until a place opens up in KidsChurch rather than hop her over to LittleChurch first. But that also depends on my work situation. If I get a new role before Cameron gets a spot in KidsChurch that requires me to work uptown then ChainCare is going to be a disaster for me. It's completely in the opposite direction. Yes, I know I should cross that bridge if/when we come to it but it has been that kind of day!

So, can other parents reassure me with their own daycare sagas that ended up working out well? Am I a terrible person for hoping the economic woes mean 18 of those 25 people ahead of us on the wait list can't do take their spot at KidsChurch?

And for those who demand it, here are a couple of Cameron photos. Enjoy!

Watching the Yankees/Red Sox games with Daddy. He is pushing for Cameron to be a Yankee fan but after the last two games, I predict another member of Red Sox Nation. Her first set of scrubs? A surgeon to follow in her grandfather's footsteps? Nah, no need to start the pressure this young. I'll wait until first grade...
She doesn't look happy in this picture but isn't the outfit adorable?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A visit from the great-grandparents

I was very fortunate growing up to know my great-grandmother (affectionately called Nana D.) very well. She passed away while I was in college but I still have lots of fond memories of vacations at Cape Cod, outings in Boston and being sung to. My mother even saved a children's book inscribed from Nana D. to me and gave it to me at my baby shower for Cameron. So I was thrilled when my grandparents told me they planned a little trip to Charlotte to visit us.

We had a wonderful 24 hours (they were in and out!). Cameron had her first restaurant trip when we went to lunch at the Cheese Cake Factory. She hung out in her car seat and ended up falling asleep. Perfect! The weather has been hot in Charlotte so we grilled out and played some cards before it was time for bed. Need I say that I won at cards? I didn't think so!

Hopefully we will get to see Mimi and Papa this summer while we are in Maine for vacation. I look forward to many visits so that Cameron can know her great-grandparents well. It helps that we live only a 10 hour drive from their home in Florida. Considering we drive up to Boston (14+ hours) that's not very far :-)

Mimi doting on her namesake, Cameron Patricia.

Papa getting his only chance to hold Cameron since Mimi hogged her the whole time!

Mimi even insisted on feeding Cameron her bottle which was fine by her mommy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cameron: already one month old!

Dear Cameron,

I can't believe it has already been a month since you came into our lives. It has been an amazing, crazy, stressful and wonderful experience. You are a very happy baby and are content to hang out in your bouncer while I'm surfing the web or catching up on old episodes of ER or West Wing.

I love how you smile at me and stare directly in my eyes after you finish a feeding. Yes, I know it's just gas but it feels like a smile to me! You also purse your lips when you are done and let me know that you are good for playtime or another nap. If you are fussy then a pacifier is just the thing you need to calm down. I have a feeling it will be a few years before you give that up! But if a pacifier isn't handy then you are happy to chow down on your fingers. You get that from both Mommy and Daddy. I shudder to think at how high your orthodontist bills will be...

You surprised us by picking up a schedule right away and letting Mommy and Daddy get enough sleep to be fairly chipper during the day. Even though it is hard for Mommy to get up at 2 AM for your middle of the night feeding it is quiet time for us to spend together and that makes it precious. You are a mini Houdini with how you can get your arms out of swaddling. Even Grammy had to admit defeat on that one!

You make us laugh by peeing all over us while we change your diaper. It also taught me to put a fresh diaper underneath the old one before changing you. You aren't thrilled with bath time but tolerate it and only squawk a little bit. When we take you for walks you keep your eyes wide open to take in everything.
I have never been a patient person but you have taught me that patience is the key to success in being a good mommy. I have surprised myself with the depths of patience I have for you and everything you do. Thank goodness or I would be making Daddy's life miserable!

We are thrilled to have your in our lives and can't wait for the rest of the journey.

Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AI Season 8: Top 7 (again) perform disco

According to Seacrest, Idol history was made last week with the judges' save of Matt Girard. But two will be going home this week meaning we will have our top 5 next week. I predict prior to the performances that Lil and Matt will be gone. Let's get started and see how the performances are this week!

Lil is up first and she picks "I'm Every Woman" which is not too surprising. Is there any big voice song she hasn't picked yet? Per usual she also decides to sing the song straight and not change it up with some R&B flair. I think that last season with David Cook's success with arrangements has really raised the bar. Lil can't surpass it and doesn't even come close even with her big pipes. Despite her energetic performance (or perhaps because of it) parts of the song felt screechy to me. Let's see what the judges think. Randy trotted his "what kind of artist are you?" comment out. Kara likes the song selection but wasn't wowed. Paula tries to sell us the "she's sick" excuse but agrees with Kara. Simon thinks that Lil looks sad and she talks back again. He tells her that she's going home and I agree.

Next is Kris Allen and he decides to bring out his guitar. I am surprised by his song selection, "She Works Hard For The Money" by Donna Summer. He smartly slows the song song and makes it sound contemporary and really good. I have a feeling the judges are going to salivate over his performance. Kara thinks the risk Kris took with the arrangement really paid off. Paula compares it to Santana and I completely agree. I notice that Simon is wearing an undershirt as his shirt and it kind of creeps me out. He thinks it was a fantastic performance and Randy agrees. I kind of like that the judges got in additional digs at Lil with their praise of Kris. Just the kind of snark I enjoy.

Danny selects "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. DH thinks it is a great song for Danny's voice. I don't think he emotionally connects with the song like most of his previous performances but he still does an excellent job. I mean, it's not like the song lends itself to emotion like most of his other song selections. What's great about Danny is he doesn't have a great range but he uses his voice to it's utmost and it sounds great, every time. Randy thinks he really worked it. Kara was worried but thinks he is an incredible vocalist. Paula thinks he showed vocal brilliance and has a sexy voice. Simon agrees with the other judges but didn't think the performance had star power.

Allison goes with Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" and also decides to change the arrangement. She starts off slow and then throws in some rock arrangement. It really works for her and for me. Allison is totally going to be the last girl standing in this competition. Randy thought the arrangement was a little over indulgent but Allison is a great singer. Kara completely agreed with Randy. Paula babbled. Simon called it a brilliant performance. I love when he agrees with me.

Adam Lambert does not get the money spot despite my prediction. He also goes with the "straight" appearance this week. The one thing that really bugs me about Adam is I think he's always performing. He never seems natural to me in his interviews or "off the cuff" comments. But there is no denying he is the one to beat this season. Adam does "If I Can't Have You" from Saturday Night Fever. He really slows the song down and does all kinds of vocal acrobatics. The camera pans to Paula at one point and I swear she is crying. Randy thinks Adam is ready to make his album. Kara calls him inspiring and Paula has a visceral response to his performance. I'm impressed she used that word correctly. Simon loved everything about the performance.

Matt Giraud goes with the classic Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" and I immediately wince. There are very few people who can pull off this song (see Adam) and Matt isn't one of those. DH comments that he's thinking of infant CPR during the performance. This song is what they recommend you think about while performing CPR. Ironic, no? Matt does a good job but the performance is a little manic for me. With all the other performances tonight and Anoop in the money spot Matt is going home this week. Randy doesn't like the song choice but thinks Matt is talented. Kara called it a solid performance. Paula uses a bowling metaphor that didn't work for me. Simon completely panned the performance and called it desperate. Agreed.

Up last is Anoop and he also selects a Donna Summer song, "Dim All The Lights." I am immediately thrown but the 'stache he is growing. Who on earth told him that was a good idea? I mean, I know that the disco era involved a lot of facial hair but does it need to be recreated here? I think not. He does a good job but I am not wowed. Randy didn't love the arrangement but loves the talent of the Top 7. Kara thinks it was a good song choice and a great performance. Paula compliments his pink shirt and facial hair. Considering she is often on "Worst Dress" lists I will disregard her fashion comment. Simon disagreed with the other judges and called the performance mediocre.

So, who is out? I'm still sticking with Lil and Matt but Anoop is in danger too. There's your bottom three.

SJ out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Playtime begins for little Cameron

Now that Cameron is 4 weeks old (as of today!) she has been a lot more alert after her feedings. Usually she is content to hang out in her bouncer and look at the light. But how stimulating can a light really be for a baby? I'm trying to raise a genius here so real playtime must commence!

What's wrong with staring at the light?

Cameron loves to clutch her hands while eating. It's hard to tell from this picture but she has pretty big hands for a little girl. You know what that means...big gloves.

That light is sooo mesmerizing. And doesn't she look cute in her little hoodie?

Cameron likes to hang out in her Boppy on her play mat. Her favorite is the monkey but that's probably because it's the only one she can grab.

A very cute video of DH doing some dancing with Cameron. She is our singular sensation!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finding the right breast pump

For almost a month now I have been using a hospital grade rental breast pump. Specifically the Medela Symphony 2.0 breast pump. And it has been wonderful. I only pump 3 times a day but will be pumping more when I return to work. Which, by the way, is creeping up far too quickly! It takes me about 15 minutes (really 10 but I try to eek out more) to pump 3-5 ounces depending on how much she feeds beforehand.

The rental is about $70 a month so it doesn't make economic sense for me to keep it since I plan to breastfeed for a year. With that in mind I have decided to purchase a breast pump of my own. The one recommended by my hospital is the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump. I like that it has two distinct modes, let-down and expression, because that is what the Symphony does as well. I heard it is noisier than the Symphony but hopefully it isn't that much louder.

Before I run out and spend almost $300, I was wondering if I should be considering any other breast pumps? Keep in mind that I have been spoiled by a hospital grade pump so far so I will be very picky!

One other issue I will comment on in this breastfeeding post is that I am still using a nipple shield. Yes, it is my crutch and I just can't let it go! Cameron has a bad habit of tucking her bottom lip in while feeding which doesn't allow for a very good latch without the shield. I can nurse her for a couple of minutes without it and then we both get frustrated and on the shield goes. Any advice from other breastfeeding moms who have encountered this? Is waiting until she's a bit older a bad thing?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Growing a green thumb, one spring at a time

DH and I have been attempting to spruce up our "curb appeal" since we moved into our house two years ago. The former home owners focused on the inside of the house (stripping wallpaper, installing hardwood floors, etc.) but neglected the exterior of the home. We have about a half acre so there is a lot that can be and needs to be done. The front of the house is very different from the back. We've done a bit more in the front so this post will focus on that. I will attempt to include the names of all plantings for any other gardeners in the southeast.

The Home Depot Expo was going out of business in Charlotte so I picked up two containers for less than $40 each for the front door. My mom planted the annuals in here and they all take lots of sun. The plants are Red Fountain Grass, Purple Queen, Petunias and Blue Lobelia.

My main goal in selecting plants for the front yard is to find plants that bloom primarily in the spring and summer. I haven't focused yet on adding autumn color but I'm sure that will come in time. I also tend to select perennials for their lower maintenance. My mother is a big believer in adding pops of color through annuals and I will do that as well once the perennials are more established. The biggest challenge is that a significant portion of our yard has clay soil. For anyone who hasn't had to deal with clay soil, you are very lucky. The only way to get rid of it is slowly amend it with peat moss and compost as plantings are placed. Even then more plants die than they should because of the thickness of the clay. I lost about 12 perennials last year because of it. And FYI, Home Depot does not always refund your money. So keep that in mind!

This bed is to the left of our driveway and because it is a raised bed it is a great spot for plantings. The back border features bearded irises. They are actually irises that my mom gave me that she got from her grandmother. Pretty cool, no? A few bloomed last year but it usually takes until the second year for them to bloom. I've seen yellow and purple blooms so far. There are some marigolds tucked in along with creeping jenny, echinacea flowers, a blooming bush and some other bulbs. The back bushes are rhododendrons and they flowered amazingly this year. We actually got a lot of rain this winter which explains why the blooms were so great.

This small area is to the right of the house and gets a lot of sun. As a result it has some liriope (make sure and cut that almost all the way back every February), balloon flowers and a clematis. We are particularly excited about the clematis because it will grow up the bird house and can be 4 feet high and wide.
The first project we did was to line the end of the big bed in the front yard with stones. It really helped add definition to the space and keep the mulch from running off (it's a small hill) during rain storms. It was a huge project for us and took an entire weekend in 80+ degree weather. I sweat my ass off but it was a great bonding experience for me and DH. Except when we kept running into old tree roots. Very big old tree roots. Thank goodness for the reciprocating saw!

There is a Japenese maple in the center of the bed. Also featured is an eldeberry bush and some liriope around the edges. Last year I planted some dianthus which is still doing well and primrose which is really starting to spread. New spreading plantings this season include creeping jenny (in the back) and creeping phlox.

This last area is just to the right of the big bed and we planted some guara in the back and tickseed in the front. I'm a bit worried that this area may not get enough sun for these plants so I'll have to keep an eye on them and move them if needed.

What other plants should I be considering? We also get a ton of shade in the backyard so suggestions about shade plants are also welcome.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mommy group to the rescue

Ever since DH and I have moved to Charlotte we have found it difficult to make friends. We had a really great set (hi Janusz and Stacy!) but they abandoned us to move to Germany. Boo! Part of the problem is that DH works from home and I work with mostly men and usually with remote team members. So I decided while pregnant that I would make every effort to meet other new moms and hopefully strike up some friendships.

I did some searching online and came across a group, The New Moms of South Charlotte. I went to my first meet and greet today and it was wonderful. A little stressful making the timing work with Cameron's schedule but well worth the effort. I am hoping to do another event next week - a play date for infants. And since infants don't do anything, it's more of a play date for moms. The biggest challenge in joining the group is that a big majority of the moms are stay-at-home which means a lot of the play dates are during the week days. Obviously that isn't a problem now but it will be when I'm back at work. Good thing I have another couple of months to meet moms and establish some friendships! Who knew that making friends could be this much work? It was so easy when I was in college or just starting my career. But now that I'm saddled with DH and Cameron (just kidding!) it makes things harder. Does anyone else find that the older we get the harder it is to make new friends?

In other news I took Cameron for another (!) weight check yesterday. She is now at 7 pounds, 12 ounces and above her birth weight. She gained 9 ounces in 8 days. And I am now officially relieved and will not be stressing about her feedings any more. Yeah, right. Let me tell you, some of the babies I met today were huge compared to Cameron. Granted, she was the youngest at only 3 weeks but I saw one kid that was 6 months old and looked like he was at least a year. I'm glad I have some time to work up my weak arm muscles as Cameron gradually gains weight.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judges' "super power" to the rescue?

I was a little surprised to see Anoop in the bottom three last night although I guess Kris Allen is just too damn cute to be at risk. Hey, it's the girl tweens voting, not me! Joining Anoop were Matt Girard (again) and Lil Rounds. Once Anoop was declared safe I assume Matt would be going home. And he would have, if not for the super power awarded to the judges this season. Personally I think they just delayed the inevitable and Matt will be one of the double elimination next week, but I could be wrong. I also think it's kind of a waste of the veto because does anyone really think Matt will win the whole thing? Didn't think so.

If I interpret Ryan's remarks correctly then the judges only have one more week to use their super power. Unless it is Adam (and possibly Allison) on the chopping block, I doubt they will use it again.

Last night also highlighted that four judges are just too many for the TV format. Because of Kara's blathering (Randy too but he's original recipe so he can stay) the show keeps running long. So Tuesday's performances only allowed for two judges to comment at a time. At different points during the results show judges piped up to disagree with the comments from the performance critiques. I hope that the producers only signed a one year contract with Kara.

So, do you think that the judges (and by judges I really mean Simon) made the right decision keeping Matt? Will he be cut next week? I predict that next week's theme, disco, will have Adam Lambert back in the money spot. Any takers on that bet?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

AI Season 8: Top 7 perform music from the movies

Is it just me or is Quentin Tarantino a scary dude? How the heck was he selected for the mentor for this week's theme? He must have a movie coming out, right? I fast forward through commercials so I miss that kind of stuff. I totally forgot he was a guest judge in Season 3. I don't remember him adding any real value but I barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning...

Ryan introduces the judges and DH thinks Paula Abdul looks hot tonight. I wonder if the lack of sleep with a new baby has made him crazy. Now that Scott is gone the contestants can freely walk the stage without worry about being bumped by the blind guy.

Allison Iraheta picks "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" which is probably a good song selection for her. Plus it's a really popular song which helps. She starts out slow and reminds me of what a good voice she has. That doesn't last long and Allison really belts out another couple of verses. She did a really good job and I think she will be safe this week. Paula thinks Allison is authentic and has special sauce. Simon said Allison is the girls' only hope in this competition. If Lil picks a good song this week he might eat those words.

Anoop is up next and decides on the epic, "Everything I Do I Do It For You." Remember when Kevin Costner was awesome? Those were the pre-WaterWorld days. Quentin thinks he should rough it up but isn't that copying Bryan Adams? Anoop should stick to his pure voice and ignore Quentin. I worry that the performance could be karaoke but it's actually quite lovely and Anoop does a fabulous job. He is really in the zone, as Randy comments. Kara thinks that he really stood out and it was one of his best performances. I really like that only 2 judges are giving feedback. It makes my job easier.

Adam Lambert selects, "Born To Be Wild" from Easy Rider. Quentin calls him the real deal. DH was worried about him this week until the first note left Adam's lips. I am surprised he didn't get the money spot but I guess he can't get it every week... Adam is definitely in a league of his own. My only question at this point is what kind of album he would make and when he's going to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. Paula gives him a standing ovation, natch. She also breaks out a fortune cookie and tells him he dances in the path of greatness. Simon thought it was a vocally incredible performance but a little Rocky Horror-esq.

Matt Girard also thinks Bryan Adams is the man and picks a song from the Johnny Depp classic, Don Juan DeMarco, "Have You Every Really Loved A Woman." I agree with Jordan that Footloose would have been a better choice. Matt isn't doing himself any favors with his 1920s type outfit but he hides it a little behind the piano. Another really good performance tonight although the occasional forays into his falsetto didn't work for me. So far this is the strongest Top 7 I've seen. Randy liked the beginning but thought the song went off the rails at the bridge. Kara babbles on and on and on and I decide that she is dead to me. At least Paula is kooky so it is fun to recap her. Kara is just a know it all and kind of annoying. Regardless Matt could be in trouble based on the critiques from the judges.

Danny Gokey is missing his glasses while interviewing with Ryan. WTF? The glasses are his thing and I think he has more pairs that Sally Jessie Rafael. I hope he hasn't gotten corrupted by the stylists. Although if he went the Lasik route I can't blame him. I did it myself about 7 year ago. Best decision I every made. Down with contacts! Danny picks, "Endless Love" and DH whistles in response. Per usually Danny puts a lot of emotion into the performance, not surprising given his widower status and the lyrics of the song. I thought it was going to be hokey but Danny's raspy voice really pulled it off. Paula agrees with me about the timbre of his voice. Simon was disappointed with the traditional version of the song but can't fault the singing itself.

Kris Allen is up next (yay! Lil gets the money spot!) and picks "Falling Slowly" from the movie Once. Huh? Never heard of either. I do a quick Google search at 9:30 PM and the first link of the page is a YouTube video of Kris' performance. Jeesh! Talk about the lightening speed of the internet. It's a ballad so Kris does well but it's a little boring for me. Randy doesn't think that the performance really caught on and it was pitchy. Kara thought it was one of his best moments. Kris could also be in trouble.

Finally Lil pulls out a great dress rehearsal performance and gets the last spot of the night (aka the "money spot"). Let's see how her live performance goes, shall we? She decides on Bette Middler's "The Rose" which is an awesome song and very tough to top Bette. Lil starts out very traditionally but after the first verse goes a little gospel with it. It's definitely one of her better performances but I am far from wowed by it. Paula doesn't really offer any criticism and just says that the road is long. Simon visibly rolls his eyes. He also tells Lil that she continues to pick the wrong song for her voice. I agree with Simon and think that Lil needs to focus on R&B. Lil also decides to talk back to Simon and I hate that shit. Paula defends her of course and DH and I roll our eyes out of our head. Even though I have Lil going to the final 2 I am OK with her being done. I much prefer the other 6 contestants.

So, who is out? Matt and Kris are in trouble but I think that even the money spot won't save Lil this week.

Don't forget to file your taxes!

SJ out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The importance of schedules

When I was in business school I took a class on Leadership. The professor did a session on habits and their importance in our lives. Did you know that 99% of what we do on a daily basis is habitual? I definitely agree with that statistic, at least in my own life, and find that it only strengthened when I was pregnant. I rarely varied from my routine including wake up and sleeping times. This put me in very good stead once I became a mother. I mocked Mommy, Esq. a little bit about her adherence to a schedule but now that I'm in her position I mock no longer. I do try to change things up by taking her out on errands or while doing work in the yard but I don't screw with her feeding schedule.

It's been over a week now with a consistent schedule and I love it. Sometimes I feel a little too tied to the clock but that's also because I'm exclusively breastfeeding so all feedings are on me, so to speak. Cameron eats every 3 hours during the day starting at 6:30 AM and has her last feeding at around 8 PM (filling her up again so soon after her 6:30 PM feeding keeps her nice and happy). She's usually asleep by 9 PM and goes until 2 AM for her middle of the night feeding. I often times have to wake her up during the day to have her eat on the three hour schedule but I think it keeps her happy and adhering to a single wake up during the night.

Am I jinxing myself by writing about this schedule? I hope not. What should I expect as Cameron continues to grow? Will I be able to space out feedings to 4 hours at a time?

I'm on my own this week (well, DH does work at home so it's not quite that bad) as my mom left this morning. She was a huge help with cooking and gardening and talking and singing to Cameron. Grammy has inspired me to start reading to Cameron. Also on the list is tummy time. The last part of her umbilical cord came off last week and she's been having regular baths. Plus she's already lifting her head up so it's definitely time to start. I will be sure and post lots of pictures of her outrage at being on her belly. At least that was how Mommy, Esq's kids reacted...

Our happy family on Easter Sunday 2009
A beautiful day in Charlotte

Charlie is starting to be protective of Cameron

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shake your booty

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

No wait, that's Star Wars.

Eons ago Neanderthals walked the earth...

Nope, not quite right.

I've got it! An indeterminate time ago (because she would kill me if I said an exact year) my mother was born. The eldest of 4 children she took on the role of older sister and eldest daughter with aplomb. And it served her well when she went on to become a mother of 4 children, including a set of triplets.

Grammy is a very cool mother and grandmother. She enjoys her Chardonnay a little too much, wins at poker even though she still doesn't know the rankings of the hands, and brags when she is done with her Christmas shopping in August. And of course she is the best-est mommy in the whole wide world. Are you sure you can't stay for another month, Mom?!? Happy birthday!

Look at all my chips!

Dancing at my wedding to "Stacy's Mom Has Got It Goin' On" natch.

A doting grandmother

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is Grammy the baby whisperer?

My mom has been visiting since Monday and it has been wonderful. She is very low key and aside from not wanting to watch ER and other procedural shows with me (I've been watching a lot of TV while breastfeeding) she is up for anything.

Hard to believe she is a grandmother of 4 (almost 5), isn't it?

We actually ran some errands with Cameron yesterday. I got some nursing bras and a couple of tops and picked up a few books from Barnes and Noble. Then we met with the lactation consultant again. Cameron still isn't at her birth weight but she is getting over 2 ounces from me at a feeding so she's gained 9 ounces in 8 days. Not too shabby! Plus the LC converted the grams from the hospital records and they say Cameron was 7 pounds 6 ounces, not 10 as originally indicated so she's just an ounce away right now. Either way, she's gaining weight but they do want me to come in for another weight check next week. So that's 4 appointments (counting the LC) in 3 weeks. Good times :-)

I'm not sure if it's Grammy's influence or the hand of god but Cameron has only been waking up for one feeding for the past two nights. On the flip side, she hasn't been falling asleep until about 10 PM (with the help of the swing) but she's usually done eating by 8:30 (including about one ounce supplement). She sleeps for 3 hours after her 6:00 AM feeding so I would prefer she's up then and sleeping after her 8:00 PM feeding. But I guess that will come in time. Not that I'm complaining about only one night feeding! DH fed her last night so I could sleep and I woke up at 6:00 AM with my boobs about to explode. I've been pumping before bed but with Cameron skipping the 12:00 AM feeding and DH feeding her at 2 or 3 AM I'm leaking everywhere. If she keeps up with this one time a night feeding I may have to suck it up and feed her and let DH sleep. But we'll see - I do like my sleep! I have been able to set aside about 8 ounces a day of additional milk which is awesome and will really help once Cameron is in daycare. Of course now we're running out of freezer space so Grammy is buying us a freezer chest for additional storage. Any recommendations?

Look at how wide awake I am!
I'm also looking for any advice on getting Cameron to sleep earlier in the evening. But I don't want to mess with the one feeding a night. Should I just wait it out and see how her schedule adjusts? Should I be forcing her to stay up after her 6 AM feeding? Right now she just conks back out and I go back to sleep myself until 9 after pumping. Her most wide awake time is early afternoon and evening.

Baby aerobics with Grammy.Watching baseball (the Yankees of course) with Daddy and Charlie.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

AI Season 8: Top 8 perform songs from the year they were born

As Jordan says, this episode of American Idol makes me feel very old. It doesn't help that I just celebrated a birthday. No, I'm not advertising which year. Every season for as long as I have been watching there has been an episode where the contestants sing a song from the year they were born. And every year, we creep closer to the millennium. This year Allison Iraheta clocks in at 1992. 1992! Sigh. Do you all also realize that this decade is almost over? What decade are we calling it? The 0s? Will the next decade be the teens? Inquiring minds want to know.

Ryan introduces the judges (rather than the phantom voice that has been the norm this season) and shows us very cute baby pictures.

Up first is Danny Gokey (1980) singing "Stand By Me" which should be a good song for him. He starts the song out slow and mixes things up with the arrangement. I do prefer when he busts out with a higher energy performance. Randy questions the arrangement as does Kara but they both think he did a great job. Paula thinks Danny set the bar high and Simon said the beginning was good, middle was lazy and end was terrific.

Kris Allen joins Randy on stage and looks just a cute as always. I did think he would not be sticking around for long but he is proving me very wrong with some great performances. Kris was born in 1985 and wanted to be a taxi cab driver when he was little. He picks "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" and I scratch my head at his selection. It's a great song but not exactly his style. Immediately I think the arrangement is weird as is his position off the stage surrounded by adoring fans. Kara likes that Kris picked an up tempo song but it felt like homework rather than effortless (I'm paraphrasing because she natters on). Paula thinks he was heartfelt and made the song unique. Simon called it indulgent, boring and forgettable. Randy agrees with Simon.

Lil Rounds was born in 1984 and it turns out that Lil is her real name, not a nickname. She picks Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" (excellent call, Jordan) and I worry for her again. She is channeling Tina Turner in her outfit and svelte haircut but the vocals aren't quite up to par. Tina Turner has such a distinctive voice it can be hard to avoid karaoke comparisons. Paula compliments Lil's outfit but doesn't think she made the song her own. Simon called it second rate and copy cat. Randy agrees with Simon and Paula. Kara thinks that her lower range isn't good and Lil isn't an artist yet.

Anoop Desai decides a lime green preppy sweater is the way to go. I shouldn't comment since I love lime green and just got a sweater from my grandmother (Hi Mimi!) for my birthday. But I'm not performing on American Idol either. Randy calls Anoop on his attitude from last week and Anoop basically apologizes. He was born in 1986 and selects "True Colors." I think this could be a good move for him. Anoop smartly keeps the song simple and pure and does an excellent job. Randy congratulates Anoop on the UNC win (go Tarheels!) and says it was a really nice vocal. Kara said Anoop controlled the song. Paula said he showed his "true colors" (groan). Simon called him a yo-yo and that this week was a good performance.

30 minutes in and we are halfway home. I love when we get performance shows down to one hour!

Scott McIntyre is up next and was born in 1985. He wanted to be a train conductor but as DH said, you really need to see in order to have that career work. Good thing he has music as a back up. He sings "The Search Is Over" by Survivor and plays the guitar. I say, "He plays the guitar?" DH responds, "Well, he holds it." Scott does his typical mediocre job with a few particularly sour notes. If he stays and Lil goes home I'll be pissed. DH predicts Christian Rock albums in his future. When will Simon go off on him???? Kara said the performance was mixed. Paula gave him credit for not using his piano crutch. Simon thinks Scott should go back to the piano and that the song was horrible. Randy called it OK. It is time for Scott to go.

Allison Iraheta was born in 1992. Damn I'm old. She decides on Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" and I love this song! DH is happy that she slowed it down for a change and I agree. She does a really nice job but the performance is boring compared to her usual style. Paula thinks Allison gave her heart to the song. Simon thought it was very good but that Allison needs to be a bit more likable. Randy compares Allison to Kelly Clarkson. Kara calls her talented.

Matt Girard is up next and he was also born in 1985. Even as a child he had huge ears. He decides on Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover." Always a risk to pick a Stevie song. Matt does a good job and it's not too karaoke. What is less successful are the pants he's wearing. Very unflattering. Randy called it one of the best of the night, Kara said it was incredible, Paula gave it a standing ovation and Simon said well done. I love when the judges run out of time and give pithy comments.

Thank goodness I tape Fringe and had Adam Lambert's performance. He was born in 1982 and has always loved to dress up. I think the Phantom of the Opera costume gave away his sexual orientation early, don't you? He picks "Mad World" by Tears for Fears. Do I even need to say that in the money spot he blows it out of the water? The coolest part is that he kept it slow the whole time and used his falsetto. Simon gives him a standing ovation. Has that ever happened before?

So, what will happen this week? Lil is in trouble but I really hope Scott is the one going home.

SJ out.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

I had DH give Cameron a bottle last night (Kristin's suggestion) so I got more than 3 hours of sleep in a row. It was wonderful! I also napped during her morning nap so I am feeling more human today than I have since the c-section. I think this will be our new schedule.

Cameron and Mommy got some quality time in the morning while everyone else was sleeping.

A happy mommy also makes for a happy baby. Cameron has been really alert today and we had her hang out on the porch with us for a couple hours. Plus, the weather is so wonderful in Charlotte we took our first walk. I wish our neighborhood was a little bigger because we are bordered by a really busy road and have to cut through a neighbor's driveway to get to a larger neighborhood. It only takes about 15 minutes to walk up and back through our street. But that was plenty of time for Cameron. And Charlie was very excited too! I might try walking Cameron in the Moby wrap tomorrow.

I'm ready for my first walk!

What a beautiful Saturday for a walk!
Mommy and Cameron were tuckered out after the walk.
That nap looked so good that Mommy, Esq. had to try it out too!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Family visit to see Cameron

My brother Andrew arrived on Wednesday afternoon and my sister Kristin (aka Mommy, Esq.) came in bright and early this morning. It's nice to have family in town since it's usually just me and DH. I am especially happy because Kristin went through this (with twins) less than 8 months ago so her memory is fresh and she has lots of advice.

We had our first outing to Target with Cameron. She slept the whole time even while I was picking out a cute new onesie for her. It kind of wiped me out (coupled with the feedings every 2-3 hours) so I am just posting some more adorable pictures of my baby girl.

Doesn't Uncle Andrew look like a natural?

I think Mommy, Esq. wants another one!

Cameron all dressed up for her first trip to Target.

DH made a wonderful dinner and we actually ate in the dining room for the second time in 2 years!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lessons in breastfeeding - part 2

I figured I would warn any of you not interested in reading about breastfeeding with the title of the post. Considerate of me, no?

Yesterday Cameron and I went to the pediatricians' office to meet with a lactation consultant. One of the things I really like about the practice we now go to is that they have a dedicated lactation consultant and I can see her as often as I want for just a co-pay.

The best part about the visit was that the consultant (Jan Ellen) weighed Cameron before, during and after the feedings so I could see how much intake she was actually getting. It turns out she is getting just under 2 ounces which is great. Jan Ellen also helped me to tweak the positioning of Cameron to make it more comfortable for both of us. And she was very non-judgemental and supportive of my use of a nipple shield. I do plan on weaning off of that soon but it's really helping with a quick latch.

As a result of the session I have been exclusively breastfeeding during the day and supplementing with some pumped milk at night. The extra milk at night has helped keep Cameron sleeping longer which is great for me and DH! Last night she slept from 8 PM to 9 AM with only 3 wake ups for feeding. That means DH and I got about 7 hours of sleep. How great is that? Not that I expect it to be that way every night but it was very, very nice. I'm pumping every other feeding to keep my supply up and am still managing to save and store some.

Now I need to get the trick of breastfeeding without hanging out everywhere :-) My brother, Andrew, is coming to visit today for a couple of nights and I doubt he wants to see his sister's boobs every couple of hours. Perhaps I'm better off just feeding Cameron in her nursery although if I run out of trashy magazines, that could get boring fast.

I promise more cute Cameron pictures tomorrow and perhaps a family photo now that we will have someone here to take pictures for us.

AI Season 8: Top 9 perform a popular iTunes song

American Idol has decided to bless us with less filler this week and shortened the program to an hour and 25 minutes. This new mother is very happy...

No surprise that Michael Sarver was out last week. What was a surprise was that Megan Joy wasn't in the bottom 3 but Matt Giraud was. We also saw Simon crush Michael's dreams of a save with his quick "no." I wonder if the "save" will be used at all this season considering the judges need to be unanimous.

Apparently Danny Gokey's grandfather died this week. It is interesting that aside from the audition phase we haven't heard anything about his dead wife. But with a dead grandfather in the mix I wonder if we will hear anything about it this week.

Ryan brings the Idols on his syndicated Top 40 show because of the theme of "Most Popular Downloads." This allows the Idols to basically pick whatever they want which means half of them will pick a terrible song.

Anoop is up first singing, "Caught Up" by Usher and promises us stage presence in his interview. I get nervous. I much prefer his ballads to an up tempo song. I do not know this song and think Anoop is a bit of a mess. DH comments on the incongruity of an Indian guy singing hip hop. Prejudiced? Perhaps but also a little true. Randy thinks Anoop picked up the swagger but that it wasn't a good song choice. Kara said he played it safe. Paula liked his playful side. Simon said it was a complete and utter mess. I love it when Simon agrees with me.

Megan Joy picks "Turn Your Lights Down Low" by Bob Marley and sung by Lauren Hill. She admits that last week was rough but promises a much better performance this week. She does not deliver. DH comments that Megan sounds like she is trying to have a reggae accent or something. I just don't think she is very good. Kara is disappointed, Paula wants her to perform stripped down version, Simon thinks it was an indulgent performance and Randy said it was like watching paint dry. Does this mean that Megan is done for? Please?!?

Danny is going to sing Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts The Most" which is an interesting song selection for him. No mention of dead relatives in his interview. Oh, I totally know this song and really like it! The first verse was a little rushed but other than that it was a very powerful performance. Danny put a lot of emotion into it and I'm surprised he wasn't awarded the money spot. Paula (who is looking a little old in her flat banged hair style) says it was a performance she would listen to again and again. Simon said it was Danny's best performance to date and clapped for him. Randy thinks he brought it and Kara felt he connected with the audience.

Allison Iraheta has very pink hair and decided to play the guitar to "Don't Speak" by No Doubt. DH gasps a little and thinks it will either be great or terrible. Allison is looking very punk and cool with her hair and dress. I approve. What I don't approve of is that she sings the song straight which doesn't really work with her rock voice. I wish she had done a more rock interpretation of it. The guitar was also kind of useless. Randy thinks she was a little ahead of the beat and hates what she is wearing. Kara thought the ensemble felt forced but that she had a good performance. Paula compliments Allison for bring out her axe and it just sounds funny to hear her use that slang term. Simon also hates her outfit. I guess my taste doesn't align with theirs.

Scott McIntyre picks Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" and will only be accompanied by his piano. I am hating the leather jacket and think it make him look like he's trying too hard. Of course he can't see himself so he has to rely on others for fashion advice. It's one of his better performances but it is just nice, not great. Kara thinks Scott made some smart decisions and likes his new look. Really? Paula is proud of him and it has nothing to do with his "challenge." Simon admits it is his best performance by a mile and compares his hair cut to Ryan Seacrest.

Matt Giraud is hoping to not be in the bottom three this week. He picks the ubiquitous "You Found Me" by The Fray. I think DH and I heard this song a million times on our drive up to Massachusetts last year. It starts out a little rough and like Matt is a beat or two ahead of the music. It wasn't a great performance for me perhaps because it was too much like the original. Paula starts out the critique and basically agrees with me. Simon thinks Matt should be happy that they don't like him this week. Randy agrees that it was rough and Kara thinks he's a talented guy and hopes he's OK. He could be in trouble this week.

Lil Rounds really struggled with her song selection and picks Celine Dion's "I Surrender." Doing Celine is like doing Mariah or Whitney. Never a good idea. She's wearing a frumpy prom dress and has her hair flattened down. It is not a good look for her. Why did she not pick a R&B song? This is terrible. The girl can sing, however. Randy starts the commentary and we see David Spade in the background spit out his gum and stick it to his seat. Crazy. Randy didn't like the song choice, Kara was also surprised but it was effortless, Paula and Simon also hated the song. I think Lil will be OK but I wish she would do better at her song selections.

Adam picks Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and still has that Grease-like pompadour. Not a good look for him. Adam does a great job, per usual, and I can see DH's foot tapping along. This kid has some serious stage presence. Paula almost falls out of her dress she loves it so much. Simon thinks it was very original and a good departure from the other performances. Randy thinks Adam is in the star zone. Kara loves him.

Kris Allen gets the money spot and selects "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Whithers which is going to be challenging because of how awesome the original is. He couples that challenge with accompanying himself on the piano. Is he growing a mustache? Looks like it. Wow. Kris does a phenomenal job with his performance. Definitely the best of the night. Randy called it creative and cool. Kara said "Three words: that was artistry" and I scratch my head. Paula thinks it could be the first cut of his album. Simon said Kris brought a lot of confidence and had a great arrangement.

So who is going home? I want it to be Megan but it will probably be Matt Giraud or Anoop. Overall I was expecting to be wowed but only Danny Gokey and Kris Allen really did that for me. Perhaps it is better when there is a more limited theme which forces song selections. What do you think?

SJ out.