Monday, August 31, 2009

We'll miss you, Grandpa

I have been extremely fortunate in growing up as I got to spend many wonderful summers and weekends with my grandparents. My first experience in a boat, baiting a hook and wading in the ocean was all courtesy of my wonderful grandfather, Grandpa. Sadly he passed away last night but I will remember him for his dry sense of humor, work ethic and pride in his family.

When does vacation become that magical time I remember so fondly?

Despite the title of my last post, my two week vacation wasn't exactly everything I imagined it would be. Why? Because about 80% of my waking time was still spent being a mom. Now, don't get me wrong. I love that I was able to spend oodles of time with little Cameron. But every day was a bit of a grind in making sure she was fed (still having some breastfeeding stresses) and napped and in a good mood. Have I mentioned lately I'm not cut out to be a stay at home mom?

I think part of the problem is that Cameron is still so young. At only 5 months and still nursing she is much more dependent on me than my husband. Is it sad that I'm already looking forward to our next long vacation next summer when she will be 14 months old and I can nudge DH out of bed to handle her and get some precious, precious sleep? Even when we were alone at the wedding I still had to get up around 6 AM to pump. Sigh.

The other big challenge to being a mom on vacation is that no longer can I be spontaneous. One day we went to a family friend's house and I was able to get Cameron to nap there so I got to spend more than 1-2 hours in a spot other than our house. Jumping in the boat to take a cruise? Not unless Cameron has just woken up from a nap and been fed. Otherwise I will just stress when she starts getting tired and fussing. I've discovered that her crying is like nails down a chalkboard. I'd rather be a bit more housebound than deal with that. Oh, you want to go shopping? Well, is it at a mall or some other location that accommodates a carriage and place to change her? No? Well, then it looks like I'm out.

So, please, please, please tell me that vacation gets easier as they get older!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A wonderful, relaxing vacation

I landed in Charlotte just a couple of hours ago and already feel behind. Isn't that always the way? It's like I'm being punished for taking a two week vacation! While my 300+ work emails download I wanted to share a couple of snapshots from our trip. More to come throughout the week...

Ned screeches his heart out at Charlie. I have a feeling he will be asking for his very own puppy as soon as he learns how to talk.
Cameron chills on the Boppy while her cousins zip around her.
I get a little cuddle time in with Penny and Ned.
Cameron lounges while taking a boat ride. She loved it!
DH and I had a weekend away while Grammy and Bumpa watched Cameron. It was our first weekend without her and I did surprisingly well. Need I even say that there was a lot of alcohol involved?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cameron: Five months old

Dear Cameron,

Right now you are napping while we spend a wonderful two weeks in Maine on vacation. This month you met your cousins, your paternal grandparents and charmed everyone. Of course! Mommy and Daddy even had a weekend away from you but you were in good hands with Grammy. I think Charlie missed us more than you did!

This month you have discovered your feet and will spend long periods with them in your hands. You are thisclose to rolling over but your daddy and I are in no hurry to have you start becoming more mobile. We love how much you are laughing now. We never know what will set you off but it makes us laugh right along with you.

This month you toyed with sleeping through the night but are back to a middle of the night feeding. It was nice while it lasted! You are slowly learning to nap better at school but it's still a work in progress. Twice you have had rice cereal and the jury is still out on whether you want to keep eating it.
While in Maine you went on your first boat ride and got to splash in a kiddie pool and a hot tub. Both were so warm you probably thought it was just another bath.
Daddy and I love seeing your smiles when you wake up from a nap. We can't wait to see what you will do next!

Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oops! Who knew water could do that?

Duh. I could. I had a slight accident with the digital camera today while splashing in a kiddie pool with Cameron. Need I write that it involved water? The camera wasn't submerged but it did get wet so it is hanging out in a plastic bag with some rice. If anyone else knows of other tricks and tips, please send them my way!

If the rice doesn't work we might need to place an emergency order for another digital camer. I am really liking our camera so I would want to get the same one. Even with the (gulp!) $250 price tag. I just hope either it dries out or we can get a new one before we head out for a wedding on Friday morning. Please send your driest thoughts out to our camera!

In the meantime DH is spending some quality time with some of his old friends. They coincidentally rented a house about 3 miles from my parents' house in Maine. We brought Cameron over for some oohing and aahing earlier and now DH is back to get some drink on. Ah, I vaguely remember those days!

More pictures (I hope!) to come in a few days.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New state, new adventure for Cameron

Cameron and I had a decent trip to Massachusetts. She slept through the entire flight except for the first ten minutes or so. Our biggest challenge? A diaper blowout and no changing table in the airplane bathroom. She ended up flying in just a diaper, ensconced in the Moby wrap. Fortunately these flight attendants didn't tell me I had to take her out when we were landing. I feel like every airplane bathroom should have one of those Koala changing stations. Or something similar. It's not like I can change her in my lap! Anyone else have similar experiences while flying?

DH and his dad (henceforth to be called Papa) picked us up at the airport. Cameron got to spend a couple of hours with her cousins and serenaded them with a complete and utter meltdown. I've never see DH so frantic! I was pumping and he brought her in wailing at the top of her lungs. A big bottle and some TLC from her mommy and she was out for a nice long nap. She is struggling a bit to get used to the heat. Yes, Charlotte is hotter but we have air conditioning everywhere. Tomorrow we drive up to Maine were we settle in for the remainder of the vacation. I'm looking forward to unpacking!

I feel like all in all we packed pretty light! Ha ha ha ha ha.Three Sweeney generations
Cameron spends some time with her cousins. I can't believe she will be as old as them one day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The green monster strikes

Yesterday DH and I went together to pick up Cameron from school. She was chillin' on a Boppy when we arrived and was all smiles when we greeted her. While DH puttered around pulling her stuff together and putting her in the car seat I chatted with her teacher who was changing one of the other babies. Miss Tanya commented on the poop smell not being from her current charge so I picked up one of the other babies for a sniff test. Cameron saw me and immediately started crying. She often cries a bit when I pick her up from school if I walk away and she can't see me. She is usually tired at this point and ready for a final nap. But I was in her line of sight, as was DH. The only explanation we could come up with was that she was jealous. Cameron did not want her mommy holding another baby. Cute, but I'm sure it could get old quickly.

Speaking of always needing her mommy...Cameron has decided that I am the only person she will take her bedtime bottle from. DH has been a trooper but she will cry and fuss while he gives it to her. He'll put her down, walk away and then come back. It usually takes him several tries and even then she won't finish the bottle. I end up having to go back in (bad form I know!) and get her to drink the rest. I would normally not bother but Cameron is more likely to wake up in the middle of the night if she doesn't drink all her bottle. She better snap out of it because Mommy wants to enjoy her vacation too! Plus my mom will be watching her for two nights while DH and I attend a wedding.

Any advice on how to get Cameron to take her nighttime bottle from someone other than me without all the hooting and hollering?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, I'd like the kitchen sink with that

DH and I are in the throws of planning for our packing. Yes, not even planning for our vacation but planning the packing itself. We are overwhelmed with the sheer amount! of! stuff! that one small child requires. Over the course of the last two weeks I would mention an item I'm sure we can't live without for Cameron and DH would dutifully write it down. That has resulted in a 3 page list of Cameron stuff that needs to be organized and packed in time for DH's 5 AM departure on Saturday. Fortunately Cameron is young enough that we really just need a few essentials in terms of toys. The bouncer and play mat are a must. And hopefully we can borrow some stuff from Mommy, Esq.

We have decided (and really it's more like I convinced DH) that it's probably better he drives straight through to Massachusetts with the dog and all! the! stuff! while Cameron and I follow a day later via a plane. I feel for DH as he will be lonely and tired with the drive. I told him he can call and talk to me for as long as he needs during the drive. I'm hopeful that there will at least be an interesting baseball game on satellite radio to help him pass the time. And there better be no traffic! Unlike our last trip to visit family.

This vacation is planned to be a lot more relaxing than our normal two week vacation around the holidays. Usually when we come up to Massachusetts in the winter it's a whirlwind of activity, craziness and little relaxation. This time we will spend a couple nights with DH's parents and then the bulk of the time at my parent's house in Maine with a wedding in Bar Harbor thrown in for good measure. My parents bought the house on Lake Sebago at the end of 2004 and that was about 6 months before DH and I move to Charlottesville while I attended Darden. So we haven't had a chance to really enjoy the water and general relaxed atmosphere in Maine. Now if only work will cooperate with my relaxation plans...

Wish us luck over the next two days as we sort through the list and figure out what we really do need and what is just the craziness of first time parents. And let me know what must have items you brought with you while traveling with an infant.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cameron's cuteness isn't limited to just pictures

I finally caved and started posting videos through YouTube. Blogspot was taking more than 12 hours to post a 1 minute clip. Ridiculous! Here are a couple of cute videos to brighten your Wednesday and get you over the "hump."

We've done rice cereal one more time since this video and Cameron managed to eat a tiny bit more than the first time.

This video demonstrates Cameron's new skill: manic laughter. It's so adorable! She goes crazy when her Daddy plays with her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Does your mother know you talk like that?

Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with my old boss (now my boss's boss) for the first time since I was out on maternity leave. I wanted to prime the pump for the upcoming bonus discussions that are sure to start taking place any day. I reminded BigBoss that he didn't come through with a raise or much of a bonus this past year despite being promised an increase when I first came on board over a year ago. Sure, times are tough. I get that. BigFinance has had some troubles but I wanted to make my case now rather than in the meeting when I find out I'm getting shit again. But I'm not holding my breath. By the way, did I feel at all guilty about asking for more money while just back from a 3 month paid leave? Hell, no! To [mis]quote Donna Summer, "[I] work hard for [my] money."

While I was chatting with him I mentioned a few problems I've been having on my project. And this is when I realized I am still a long time away from the corner office. BigBoss picked up the phone and had a 2 minute profanity laden conversation with a peer and cleared up one of my issues. I have never heard so many f-bombs and other 4 letter words in a genial conversation. Yes, they were very friendly with each other amongst the profanities. Now don't get me wrong. I swear plenty but tend to regulate myself at work to the occasional "shit" or "damn." I was awed. And frankly a little intimidated. Is this what senior level conversations are all about? If so, I'm not sure I can hack it. I mentioned the chat with a colleague and he commented, "Yeah, they are really informal at that level, aren't they?" Informal. Yes, that's a good way to put it.

Regardless, I look forward to the day when I wield the power. Mwah ha ha ha ha. I'll just do it with a little less swearing. How about the rest of you? Have you had any eye opening experiences as you interact with more senior executives?

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm OK with keeping her at this stage forever

When we took Cameron in for her four month doctor's appointment her pediatrician commented on how much fun the 4-9 month stage is. Think of all the pluses it has going for it: start sleeping through the night, nap consolidation, longer alert periods, no teething (yet), and still not mobile. Throw in lots of smiles and laughter and you have for one fun infant.

This weekend was the first we experienced the consolidation of naps. And it made a huge difference in how I was able to spend my day. We are leaving for a vacation next weekend so I had lots and lots of errands to get done while DH took care of some much needed yard work. Cameron has started taking a 2 - 2 1/2 hour morning nap, a 15 minute snooze in her carriage while running errands and a 3+ hour nap in the afternoon. Amazing! Of course I have no hope that she will replicate it at school. Sigh.

She has coupled this with refusing to nurse except for morning and occasional evenings. I was sweating it in the beginning but quickly tired of fighting to latch her on. So now she gets bottles and I pump while I can. This gives me added flexibility of a bottle on the go and for DH to pitch in more with feedings. Liberating! This bodes very well for our two (!) week vacation.

I realize I have been remiss in posting some Cameron pictures so enjoy!

Cameron sports a mini mohawk after her bath.
Cameron is so close to rolling over!
Cameron loves it when Daddy plays with her.
Look at those big beautiful blue eyes. She can thank her Daddy for those.
About a dozen toys but Cameron would prefer to play with her Taggies onesie.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Addicted to Hulu

DH loves to watch baseball. He might be OK watching something else if his beloved Yankees aren't scheduled but otherwise, the TV is his for the night. I could go up to his office and watch TV but there's no DVR and I can no longer watch commercials. Yes, in the 6+ years since I received a TiVo I hardly ever watch "live" TV.

So during the summer and all the baseball watching, I decided to check out Now when DH starts watching baseball I do my own thing and power up I love it! I love when they give you the option of watching the longer commercial for no commercials during the program (duh, easy choice) or to pick amongst three different commercial options. Very, very smart advertising strategy. And I actually do watch the commercials since they are usually 15 or 30 seconds and then right back to the show. I love when I find a show that I've been meaning to check out and I can "dip my toe" into the water. I love all the old shows they have although some of those have not held up well.

Since I started watching Hulu I have seen the last few episodes of Scrubs, all of John Doe, a couple of Doogie Howser, MD (wow, those are dated!), dabbled in a variety of other shows and discovered 30 Rock. When I asked for TV suggestions before heading out on maternity leave quite a few of you recommended 30 Rock. I have avoided the program because I was afraid it was too much in the vein of The Office and rife with embarrassing moments humor. I hate that. Plus I also discovered that watching shows via DVDs isn't for me. I need to tape them and have the urgency to watch them as my % available decreases. Otherwise it just won't happen.

Anyway, back to 30 Rock. I freaking love it! I've been skipping around because Hulu doesn't show a lot of episodes or all of them in order. But ever time they have one up I haven't seen before I am very excited. I love everything about the show. Alec Baldwin is a genius. And the writing is very sharp. Question, what do the letters TNS (is that right?) stand for before "The Tracy Morgan Show" on all the signs? I can't figure it out and have only seen episodes from Season 3 so far.

If you all are interested in my other recommendations for comedies here are the ones I've enjoyed. Comedy is probably the hardest genre in TV shows. So few are truly enjoyable (Yes, Everybody Loves Raymond, I'm looking at you):
  • Friends - yes, along with the rest of America. But even now if I see an episode I will still laugh out loud. Pretty good for a show that has been off the air for years.
  • Scrubs - I stopped watching this show when it was airing new episodes but I enjoyed catching up on the last season via Hulu. And if there's nothing else on I will watch some episodes on Comedy Central.
  • How I Met Your Mother - it's a-wait for it-mazing. I have never laughed louder or longer than at the Bob Barker and Slapsgiving episodes.
Have you tried Hulu? What do you think? Game changing in how we view entertainment? I think so. I've even heard they are getting higher ad rates than prime time shows. What other comedies do you like? I'm tempted to check out The Big Bang Theory but it's not offered on Hulu. Curses!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And so we say goodbye to a very unique judge

I won't have Paula Abdul to kick around any more in my American Idol recaps. Apparently she was never asked to renegotiate her contract. The producers decided to go with the younger, hipper and arguably more talented and hard to pronounce Kara DioGuardi.

I know for sure that 4 judges didn't work last season. There wasn't enough time for them to make comments and I didn't like that I had to wait so long to hear what Simon said. But I'm not sure the producers are making the right choice. Paula has always been viewed as the "nice" and "supportive" judge. Not to mention the fact that I usually got a break in recapping the shows when she started nattering on and on.

What do the rest of you think? Is this an improvement? Will you miss the odd sexual tension between Simon and Paula? Will Paula ever learn that unique needs no other modifier? Will Paula have a nervous breakdown now that she isn't a judge or does this mean we can expect a new season of "Hey, Paula"?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Losing the battle of the bottle

This weekend was a bit of a turning point for me in feeding Cameron. DH and I went together to drop off Cameron at school on Friday morning. I work from home most Fridays and it's a nice ritual for us to go together. Plus I wouldn't get to interact with her main teacher unless I had at least one drop off. Miss Tanya works 6 AM - 3 PM shift and I usually do pick up.

I really wanted to talk with Miss Tanya (these Southerners LOVE their "Miss" and "Mister" in front of first names!) because I have become very concerned with Cameron's napping. Or rather I should say her lack of napping. One day I picked her up and she had only slept 50 minutes. 50 minutes! This is from a girl who naps 5 hours a day on the weekend! Grrrr. Anyway, Miss Tanya assured me that they were trying to put Cameron down and swaddled her and rocked her but she just won't sleep. Apparently she will lie in her crib for some "quiet time" but 50% of the time she won't fall asleep. I guess I'll worry about it more if she stops napping for me.

I was also assured that she never cries except when she has been reaching the end of her 4 ounce bottle. It was like a dagger to the heart, people! I have been starving my child. OK, dramatics over. So I have upped her bottles to 5 ounces (3 bottles total at school). And she has been drinking every single drop. What does that mean for me? That she is much less interested in the boob.

Weekdays are fine because I just nurse her twice: wake up and evening. She's always had a final bottle before bed and I'm not messing with that because for 6 nights now she's slept through the night. Damn, I probably shouldn't have written that in case Cameron reads this blog. I pump 3x times and get about 12-13 ounces total. Doing the math I need 19 ounces for school and final bottle leaving me with -6. I have plenty of stored milk that I'm leveraging but that will probably be gone by the time she is six months old.

The bigger problem is that on the weekends Cameron doesn't want to nurse exclusively. She wants the bottle. It gives her more and she works less to get it. And really, who can blame her? I can probably get in an extra nursing session but she'll still want bottles. So it becomes the worst of both worlds. I (or DH) have to give Cameron a bottle and then pump. Basically I'll be doing twice as much work. Is this sustainable? Hell, no. I am considering dropping all pumping once she hits 6 months and nursing 2x and supplementing with formula. But we'll see. Maybe I'll be a glutton for punishment and continue. Plus despite being able to provide only breast milk for 6 months I will still feel like a failure for not making it to a year. I swear this is why women should have a year of maternity leave. It is so damn hard to make breastfeeding work if you work full time. And if WHO and other organizations recommend a year then we really need a year of maternity leave. OK, getting off my soap box.

A couple of questions for my readers. How do I introduce formula? Is it better to mix it with breast milk or just give an entire bottle of it? DH thinks Cameron won't like the taste of formula because she has only ever had breast milk. Is that possible? Will the mixing help with that?

Monday, August 3, 2009

A fun weekend

DH and I had some friends visit this past weekend. They were our first couple friends in Charlotte who we met while I was interning at BigFinance. We moved here and they moved away to DC less than a month later. And then they moved to NYC. And then to Germany. We were beginning to feel insulted. Did they really need to cross an ocean to get away? But common sense (and a desire to watch sports while drinking American beer) prevailed and they are back in the US temporarily settled in DC again. DH and I put the full court press on for them to move back to Charlotte. We cued up the cute baby and everything.

Time will tell if we were successful. In the interim we ate too much, drank a bit more than was good for us and slept too little. Good thing Cameron likes to nap on the weekends! It did remind me that I'm a mother and I was usually in bed before 11 PM - a big difference from their last visit just before I found out I was pregnant. It was nice to have an extra set of hands but I think Janusz managed to go the whole weekend without holding Cameron. We'll get him to change a diaper the next time!

A rare picture of me and my little one.
Cameron was extra cute while snuggling with Stacy. Yes, her name is Stacy and at times it can be confusing. Stacy indulged me talking non-stop about how awesome Cameron is while our husbands talked baseball. A good division of labors.
It wasn't only a visit for me and DH. Charlie also got to play with one of his best friends, Satchmo. We are convinced they are gay lovers. There was a lot of humping and licking.

All in all it was a great weekend. Move back to Charlotte, Stacy and Janusz, so we can do it more often!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to annoy me

Do you really want to know what annoys me? Are you looking for ways to piss me off and get me ranting and raving? Then read on....
  1. Slow drivers. Especially slow drivers in the left lane who drive next to a car in the right lane and won't speed up. Yes, apparently God made you the arbiter of the speed limit. Please make me tow the line and travel at exactly 40 miles per hour as I am heading to work.
  2. People who don't flush the toilet. Is it just me? 50% of the time when I walk into a public restroom stall I have to back out because some woman before me couldn't be bothered to flush the handle. Or better yet, it's an automatic flush but she doesn't look to make sure it actually worked. Technology doesn't work all the time, ladies! Do another woman a favor and make sure that your business makes it all the way down the drain.
  3. Putting me on loudspeaker for a one-on-one phone meeting. I know you have a headset. Or at the very least a handset. You can't be bothered to pick it up and plug it in just because you are sitting pretty in your cushy office? Instead you want to make me listen to every ambient noise that echoes through your speaker phone? Gee thanks. How did I get so lucky?
  4. Do you see me struggling with my stroller? No, no. You go first and let me hold the door for you while I try to maneuver this carriage through a heavy door.
  5. Oh, I didn't realize that because you are dropping your child off at daycare you can use the handicap spot. Apparently walking two extra feet from the open parking spot next to it is just too much for you to bear. And while you are at it, go right ahead and take up both of the handicap spots. It's not like anyone else could need them, right?

That's just my top 5. How about the rest of you? What annoys you enough to mentally or verbally spout off at people?