Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cameron's first Christmas in pictorial

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Her royal whiny pants

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cameron: nine months old

Dear Cameron,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Introducing finger foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Adventures in home improvement: the master bedroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mémére and Papa come to visit

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

The battle over Christmas decorations

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

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

So, what do you think? Ugly or awesome?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watch out, Charlie, here comes Cameron!

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

Poor Charlie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The great staycation experiment

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Video fun

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

Cameron and Mommy make up a new game.

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

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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All I got was this lousy education

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It would be easier if she took a feed bag

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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