Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer TV reviews

With the advent of all these new cable channels it has started a trend that I like a lot: Summer TV programming. Basically it means we have new TV year round. Woo hoo! Here are the shows currently on my DVR. Let me know if you love 'em, hate 'em or have other suggestions.
  • Drop Dead Diva - I have a soft spot for this show. I think that the actress does a great job of channeling a model in a plus sized lawyers body. The best parts (IMO) are the cases. Sometimes the personal life plot lines are a little lame. Like Bravo, Lifetime replays shows a lot so you don't have to worry about recording conflicts.
  • The Gates - I checked this show out for the first time last night and I'm not sure I'm going to keep recording it. Another vampire/werewolf drama? Boring. Some of the characters are engaging but they are in the minority. I have a feeling this show won't stick around long anyway.
  • Scoundrels - Really, TV? Is Virginia Madsen is old enough to have a son who graduated law school? I think not. But I like her. It also features Sloan from Grey's Anatomy doing her ditzy best. This is a maybe show for me. My DVR forgot to record it this week and I found that I didn't really care. So I'm on the fence with keeping this as a Season Pass.
  • Royal Pains - This is a cute show and I love the interaction between the two brothers. But the patient story lines are kind of lame and the show doesn't appear to know where it's going this season. Maybe it will get better.
  • White Collar - Fun fact: the start of this show went to Carnegie Mellon and graduated a year after me. Damn, if he was that hot in school I'm mad I didn't know him in real life!! How can you not love a show that has Tiffani Theissen in it? I rest my case.
  • Top Chef - need I say more?
  • Doctor Who - I have to get my SciFi fix in there somewhere, right? I'm not in love with the new Doctor yet but he's growing on me. I do really like his new sidekick but why did they have to erase her fiancee? Lame-O.
  • Leverage - DH and I love this show. Good plots (although the "solution" is a bit ridiculous at times) and engaging actors. I'm saving up some episodes since we've been trying to get through our 8 remaining Fringe episodes. But then it's full steam ahead on this show. I hear that this past week had a Parker-centric episode. I'm already excited to see it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Toddler discipline

Cameron has a new skill that I'm not fond of: hitting. I'm assuming she picked it up in daycare but for all I know hitting, like biting, is an inherent toddler skill.

We were in the splash area at the JCC and Cameron picked up two buckets that another child had abandoned. The kid, older and of course bigger, saw Cameron take them. He marched over, dropped the toys he was playing with and grabbed the two buckets. His name, by the way, was Adlai according to the buckets. Cameron was not happy to have her toys taken away. Usually she just cries and comes to me for comfort. This time she decided that running after Adlai and starting to push him was the best way to deal with the situation. Being a smart mommy, I figured out what she was going to do before it happened so I swooped in and picked her up before she could tackle the kid.

This redirected Cameron to lash out at me instead. She attempted to hit me with both hands. I held her hands saying, "No hitting" and attempted to redirect her. The hitting has become a pattern with her. If she is frustrated or tired or just doesn't get her way she will lash out. It usually happens once or twice a day. But that is once or twice too often for me. Mostly because I am the one holding her or trying to redirect her which means I bear the brunt of her anger/frustration. I think she's too young at 15 months for time outs but let me poll my readers: what will you/have you done to correct this kind of behavior in your toddlers?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary

June is a very busy anniversary season for my family. Grandparents, parents (both sets), aunts, uncles, siblings, the list goes on and on. Yesterday I wished my grandparents a happy 60th anniversary and realized that mine was the next day. Oops! I called DH and asked him if he remembered. Nope. Phew. At least I wasn't alone. Our gift to each other this year is to refinance the house. Yes, a very romantic 4th anniversary, I know.

Four years ago I was stressing about the weather. For days before the wedding I scanned weather reports and consulted the Farmer's Almanac. It was one of the rainiest summers in Massachusetts in decades. For basically the months of May and June it rained almost every single day. Talk about stressing a bride out when she's planning on an outdoor ceremony!

Finally I threw my stress to the wind and said, "whatever happens, happens." And guess what? It poured. But not until after we were married in the gardens and had all of the formal group shots taken. So it worked out perfectly.

We were married at the Harding Allen Estate which is in Barre, MA. Basically in the middle of nowhere! DH and I were living in Charlotte while I interned at BigFinance. Because I was in my first year of business school (aka Boot Camp as it's know at Darden) DH basically planned the whole wedding with my mother. By the end they were exchanging phone calls multiple times a day. I also discovered why people take a honeymoon right after the wedding. We were married on a Sunday. We took Friday and Monday off and were back at work on that Tuesday. I was exhausted all week! But we made up for it with a 2 week honeymoon in Hawaii during the winter break.

My dad gives the best toasts. Seriously, he's really good at it. The theme for his toast to us was welcoming DH into the family despite the fact that he is a Yankees fan. Dad even managed to put a Yankee hat on but also required DH to put on a Red Sox one. After all, fair is fair.

Our first dance was to "A Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James. It was a painful process to pick a nice, short song. Neither of us are dancers and didn't take dance lessons. It was seriously the longest 3 minutes of my life. But we struggled through it just fine.

Happy anniversary to a wonderful husband and father! Here's hoping we live long enough to make it to our 60th wedding anniversary...only 56 years to go!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Holding pattern

I have been extremely remiss about posting lately. A major reason why is that I can no longer access any blog sites at work. I have been attempting to email myself posts but I haven't really felt inspired lately. The reason? I feel like we are in a bit of holding pattern.

We are waiting to hear back about a new daycare for Cameron. I think we'll get in but we won't know for another few weeks. Another upcoming event is our big family vacation/family reunion. T-minus 4 weeks and I am super psyched! Work is going well but I have to get a lot done before vacation as we have a big 7/9 deadline. Thinking about what to pack coupled with trying to enjoy the summer has resulted in far fewer blog posts.

Another big event on our horizon is closing our refinance on the house. The closing happens Friday and I am a bit nervous about it. On one hand we are reducing our interest rate by 1.5 points which is awesome. One the other hand we are going down to a 15 year mortgage. Eek! Needless to say this will increase our monthly payments but given the drop in value in our house we need to start building equity or we'll never be able to sell in the future.

Interest rates have been super low and it looks like they will stay that way for quite some time. Anyone else toying with the idea of refinancing? And can anyone else commiserate with buying a house at the peak of the market? And yes, I do count my blessings that we can afford our house and both (knock on wood) have stable employment. It just would have been nice to have timed the market a bit better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The truth about toddlers

There has been a post going around comparing toddlers to teenagers. There are definitely similarities, particularly the destructive nature of both age groups. At least when you tell a teenager to stop doing something you are assured they understand what you are saying. They may not do it but they can comprehend what you're saying. Despite Cameron's advancements in understanding language we are lucky to have a 30% chance that she understands what we're saying and another 5% chance that she'll do what we ask.

Cameron is learning to walk backwards pretty well. A new trick is spinning in a circle while there is music playing. Two or three turns and she's pretty dizzy. It's a riot! When DH and I are sitting on the ground Cameron likes to walk over and turn around about 3 paces from where we are sitting and sit down thinking that she will land in our laps. So she's not so good at judging distances yet.

In terms of vocabulary we haven't heard new words. But we do have the fun experience of hearing her shriek with laughter. It's a little piercing and can quickly deteriorate into whining but it makes us laugh every time.

Cameron "reads" the newspaper. It really meant she went through the entire recycling bag and pulled out every single piece of paper.
We have entered the stage of book obsession. I actually have to hide her books sometimes to get Cameron to play with other toys! If we're lucky she'll let us read 1/2 of a book before pulling it away and demanding a different book.
Cameron is somewhat shy but now that we've been going to the splash park for a few weeks she is finally getting a handle on the fact that it is more fun to play in the water than next to it.
Cameron definitely doesn't like to get water in her eyes but she's learning to close them. Good progress!
Toddlers are also like teenagers in that they like to steal things. Most of the kids don't mind if Cameron picks up a toy lying on the ground. Sometimes they grab it away from her and then we get the nice new sound we are starting to dread: the screech/whine.

Toddlers have OCD tendencies. Cameron is absolutely obsessed with these galoshes. They are far too big for her but every time we leave the door to the mud room open she zips in to pull out her boots.
Cameron insists on immediately sitting down, removing whatever shoes she is currently wearing and whining until DH or I put the galoshes on her.
What are the odds that she'll actually want to use these when they fit and it's raining outside? Yeah, I wouldn't take those odds either.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A sign from above?

DH is traveling this week. Well, not all week. He left yesterday and will be back tonight. Regardless I am single parenting and actually kind of looking forward to taking Cameron with me to my Weight Watcher’s weigh in tonight. I just love showing her off!

About two weeks ago we learned that the Assistant Director at Cameron’s daycare was leaving. I really liked Miss Kris and was sad to see her leave. Apparently she got an offer for a standalone center (not a chain) a few miles away where she had the opportunity to move up to the Director position in a few months. A new Assistant Director was brought in and I just don’t get the same warm fuzzies from her. Case in point: when I picked up Cameron yesterday I noticed she had scrapes over her eye, down her cheek and on her arm and leg. In reading the accident report Cameron had tripped and fallen on the concrete in the outside yard. I expect accidents especially because Cameron is technically still learning how to walk. What I also expect in the case of a pretty bad injury is a phone call informing me of it.

The past few times that Cameron has been injured I haven’t received a phone call, nor has DH. Those were much less serious injuries so I didn’t make a stink out of them. But the daycare policy is that an accident must be reported via phone (even if it’s a message) to the parents. I confronted (yes, that’s the appropriate level of prissiness I had) the new Assistant Director after I picked up Cameron. She kept saying, “I know I signed the report.” My response, “Yes, I see your signature here but that doesn’t explain why you didn’t pick up the phone and call me.” I never really got an apology which is what I was looking for although she did say that they would be sure and call in the future.

So fine, I’m annoyed. After getting Cameron in her car seat I checked her daily report. Attached to the report was an announcement from the director that she was leaving at the end of the month. She assured us that with the Assistant Director things would be fine until a new Director was found. I’m sure you can imagine my response to that statement after what happened with Cameron. I’m also annoyed because Miss Kris was looking for a Director position so why wouldn’t she have just been offered the role? Then I would feel better about the situation.

I ran into another parent outside and was talking about when her daughter would move up to Cameron’s Waddler room. The parent told me that she was pulling her daughter out of the daycare at the end of the month. I didn’t put my nosey neighbor hat on so I’m not sure why exactly they are leaving. But it got me thinking that this could be a sign that it’s time to step up doing whatever we need to in order to find a new daycare for Cameron. I’ve been toying with joining the KidsChurch for my #1 choice because that would give us an edge. But at #16 on the waitlist it is unlikely we could move Cameron any time soon. There are only 8 spots in her age group and they are currently full.

Another option is the daycare (they call it pre-school) at the JCC we joined. It is about $150 more per month and has a funky structure where there is a school year and then the “summer” weeks are called camp. Regardless it is full time care and not in the opposite direction of work like our current daycare. Plus they would pick up at the local schools so long term it could make more sense. I have a call in and plan on taking a tour with DH if they have openings. Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Patting myself on the back

As of this week I have lost 15.4 pounds. Not too shabby. My goal is to have lose 20 pounds by our family reunion/vacation. I still have 5 weeks to go so I'm optimistic. I've been doing Weight Watchers for 10 weeks and am trying to be diligent about tracking my points. The flex points come in handy over the weekends or occasional lunch out and I love that I can track everything on my iPhone WW app. I'm not sure what my ultimate goal is for weight loss. I don't think I'll get down to the 115 range that correlates with my height but I'd like to be a size 8 or 10. That way I can shop in any store and be assured of finding my size.

Probably the biggest thing I've learned in this second go around with WW is portion control. I did WW about two years ago prior to getting pregnant. I lost about 15 pounds then and of course packed them back on plus some throughout the pregnancy. I certainly didn't restrain myself with portion control while pregnant! The days of stuffing myself are over. One thing about WW is that it is really a lifetime program. It isn't really a diet because it is more about teaching you how to eat properly. A skill that I will have to use for the rest of my life. My current struggle is that I still think of it like a "diet" with the implication that I can go back to usual (well, not all the way!) and I need to readjust my mindset. I hope I'll get there soon!

I have also started exercising. I loath exercising. I really, really do. But I've started swimming with our membership in the JCC and it doesn't really feel like exercise to me. I managed to get in laps Friday, Saturday and today which is great. One of the things I like about swimming is that it is just me with my thoughts. No music, TV or other distractions. You'd think I would have a lot more blog posts as a result but alas I usually go the mundane route and think about work or the list of chores piling up. The JCC has daycare so I can bring Cameron with me if DH has work to do around the house. There is a wide age range in the kids using the babysitting room and Cameron loves interacting with the older kids. She was so happy there she didn't want to leave today.

Along with the weight reduction I finally broke down and went to Macy's to spend far too much money on a new bra. And I love it! Embarrassingly I have been wearing my nursing bras for the past 15 months even though I stopped pumping when Cameron was 6 months old. My sister asked me to borrow them so it motivated me to hit the mall. Two different women recommended the same bra when I mentioned I needed to get a new one: Wacoal. Macy's only had one in my size (damn you DDs!) so I plan on picking up another one online. I much prefer shopping online anyway and will just get the same style in a different color. I swear that my "girls" have never looked perkier. This bra really does lift and separate. Sure $60 is a little steep but a boob lift would be even more. At least that's what I told DH. He's just happy that my cup size didn't go down. Men.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It takes a village and lots of water

As I’ve written about a few times now we have been having a lot of fun with the community center since the pool and splash park opened two weeks ago. I thought I would share some of my observations about this place which is a Jewish community center.

Needless to say, there isn’t a lot of cultural diversity I’ve seen so far. A sprinkling of Asians, Indians and African Americans. Otherwise it’s about as white bread as it gets. Not everyone is Jewish either but I would estimate at least 50% are. That ratio does not represent Charlotte at all so I’m happy that Cameron’s daycare classroom is much more diversified!

People are very nice, especially the moms and dads with little ones. The thing that bothers DH and I are when parents blatantly don’t pay attention while their kids run wild. DH took Cameron by himself last week and there was an older kid pushing her (literally) around. No parent on hand to curb his behavior. And frankly that’s unacceptable from my perspective. There is no reason a older kid should be aggressive with a toddler. The three of us were in the pool the next day and this red haired kid (probably 6 or 7) took his weighted ring and threw it directly at Cameron, hitting her on the back while I was holding her. And it wasn’t even like I was in a deep part of the pool. We were sitting on the steps! I immediately called out to him, “You should apologize for throwing that.” His mother was standing right next to him chatting away with a friend. The kid ducked behind his mom and just looked at me. I spoke again, “You can’t be doing things like that. It’s not nice.” DH hates confrontation so he kept telling me to drop it. I’m still annoyed at myself for not going up to the mother and saying something. Sure Cameron was fine but the brat should be disciplined. It takes a village, and all that. I realize that a lot of people don’t like confrontation or saying something when a situation arises but I go all momma bear-like when it involves Cameron. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? How did you handle it? What if it was your kid who acted poorly? Would you want to know?

I much prefer the splash area to the pool area because it is gated and I can let Cameron wander around rather than having to track her and keep her from falling into the pool. Of course DH is so protective he follows Cameron around in the splash area too but I think that’s sweet. I usually pull out a book and let her wander as long as she is in sight. I don’t like when she spends all her time on the hot patio area especially because there are chairs she likes to climb up on and can get her feet and arms stuck easily in the plastic slats. We usually bring toys with us (permanent marker isn’t actually permanent for labeling plastic!) but of course our toys aren’t as much fun as other kids’ toys. Most parents and kids are cool with a toddler picking up a discarded toys but sometimes fights break out. Cameron of course doesn’t fight but other kids will come and snatch their toys out of her hands. I wish that Cameron would interact more with the water itself but I also understand it can be a little scary given the force of it. There are sections where the water has less pressure but Cameron either hasn’t figured out or doesn’t want to play with filling up and emptying out buckets like all the other kids. As I’ve said before, she is one of the youngest I’ve seen so I’m not too worried about it. It would just be nice to be able to read more than a page at a time before she comes over and bugs me! Assuming good weather this weekend I’ll try to capture more cute pictures of Cameron. I have a new bathing suit I’m dying to try out on her.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The list

DH is keeping a list. No, it's not of my sterling qualities. But I'm sure he has that somewhere. Instead he's keeping a list documenting the number of chipmunks he's killed. Yup, my husband is a proud animal killer.

We have a big infestation of chipmunks in our neighborhood. Many of our neighbors have complained about the holes, the tunnels and the dying plants that result from having multiple nests of chipmunks running around.

DH decided to take things into his own hands and researched how to get rid of chipmunks. Suggestions ranged from shotguns to explosives to poison. I put my foot down on live ammo and poison could kill other animals like birds. So instead DH discovered an effective solution that only required purchasing one item.

The solution requires a 3 gallon bucket, 1.5 gallons of water, a piece of wood and sun flower seeds. Here are the steps:
  1. Fill the bucket with water
  2. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top
  3. Put the piece of wood up to the lip of the bucket (as a ramp)
  4. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on the ramp
  5. Wait
  6. Fish out dead chipmunks and repeat

DH set it up in the backyard first and managed to get 7 of the critters. Today he moved it to the front yard and has fished out two more dead chipmunks. Cruel? Perhaps. But DH is taking childish glee in counting the number of dead animals. Of course I let him deal with disposal. It's better for everyone that way.

Given how little success we've had with getting rid of ant infestations (stupid sugar ants that find every nook and cranny), the dead chipmunks do give a sense of satisfaction. Personally I don't mind them. But if it makes DH feel like a hunter without the gun or orange vest, I'm all for it. Has anyone else had successes or failures in battling pests?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Photo Fun!

We had another great weekend which included a nice Mommy's day out for me going to lunch and seeing Wicked. If the show ever comes to your area I highly recommend it!

Now that we've joined the local community center we are determined to make the most of our monthly fee. I'm able to swim laps with Cameron in their daycare and then we hit the pool/splash park. Cameron appears to have regressed in swimming. She didn't close off (holding her breath and closing her eyes) like normal. I think that the chaos of the pool doesn't help either.

Cameron likes the splash park but spends more time hanging out by herself on the sidelines than running through the sprays. Put her in a chair and give her a bucket of water and she's happy as a clam!
Cameron literally sits on the sidelines. I was so hot I picked her up and ran with her through the water. I figured if I was hot she must be too!
Cameron likes to walk circles around the main splash equipment. DH is ever vigilant and tracks her constantly.
While DH may look drunk in this photo he's not. Doesn't Cameron look so cute in her top? It was one of the rare times she let me put her hair in a ponytail.
I bought Cameron this dress and after she started to walk around in it all I could think was how short it is! Trust me, Cameron won't be wearing stuff this short until after she's out of the house.
Cameron loves her Daddy!
Lately Cameron has been obsessed with bringing her blankie with her everywhere. And of course, she loves her binky! I'm toying with the idea of getting rid of them but given the fact that both DH and I were finger suckers I'd rather break her of the pacifier habit than have it take years to stop sucking her fingers. What? I think I was 7, that's not too bad....right?!?

Friday, June 4, 2010

I can read good

After dropping Cameron off at daycare this morning I heard a sponsorship announcement on NPR for an organization committed to teaching children to read by the end of third grade. I attempted to Google this organization but couldn't remember the name so I failed. Regardless, it got me thinking about the standards for reading today in schools.

When my sisters and I were in first grade we were put in a remedial reading class. The reason? At 6 years old we couldn't read fluently and as such were "behind the curve." We were physically as well but I'll save the Special Gym story for another time. In my day (jeesh, I sound old!) kids were expected to start elementary school knowing how to read. Today? Not so much. Despite an emphasis on reading early and often to babies and toddlers most school systems don't expect fluent reading and writing until the third grade.

Because reading is so important to me I want Cameron to be able to read at an early age. My expectations are not unrealistic (I hope). I would like her to know how to read before she starts first grade. We actually made a breakthrough a few weeks ago. No, I did not run out and buy the Your Baby Can Read system that has infomercials on early in the morning. Personally I think it's a scam. But I digress. Our breakthrough is that Cameron has finally learned to sit on our laps while we read to her. Before Cameron would have the attention span of one or two pages. Then she would grab the book and throw it to the floor. Or, when we weren't reading a board book, she would try to rip the pages in half.

It's been a nice change to sit with her on the floor or the couch or her rocking chair while reading the same book over and over again. Her current favorite is Sesame Street's "Everybody Dance!" The book is short and rhymes. Plus it is a board book and each page has a 1/2 page that can be flipped back and forth to show the characters "dancing." I think I had to read that book 3 times last night before Cameron pointed to bed.

For parents with older children what have you done to help progress the reading learning process? And any recommendations for books you think Cameron would enjoy? Or more importantly, books that won't annoy the crap out of me and DH when we have to read them again and again and again?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

Not being able to access my blog and by extension, all of the blogs I read regularly, at work has really thrown me for a loop. Yes, I have an iPhone so I can go on my Google reader and access them that way but have you ever tried to type a blog post on an iPhone? It’s a laborious process and not one that I plan on doing regularly. Instead I will try to come up with witty posts during the work day, email them to myself and post them at night when I get home. Except for one thing: my personal computer has shit the bed. It’s only 5 years old so I’m a little annoyed. It’s a combination of the fan not working and a battery that only lasts 8 minutes. Which means even if I’m plugged into power my computer shuts itself down (stupid fan) every couple of minutes. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t even boot it up entirely before it shuts down. So I’m in the market for a new, basic laptop. I basically read email, edit photos, blog and watch Hulu on my personal computer. A MacBook is too expensive and a NetBook is too small for watching online TV. Any suggestions from my readers for a not too expensive laptop?

We had a wonderful weekend with far too much booze, much socializing and plenty of fun with Cameron. I would have blogged about it but see above. We have joined a local community center that has an awesome splash park for the little ones. You would have thought that it would be prime picture time and you would be right except for one thing. Both times we went I forgot my camera. Oops! I promise pictures after we go again (weather permitting) this weekend. Cameron has been very tentative about going up to the spraying water and interacting with the other kids. She’s definitely one of the younger ones but it also highlights a personality trait DH and I have commented on in her. She is very much an observer at first. Cameron needs to stay with me or DH, sitting on our laps for a few minutes in a new situation before she’ll start exploring. Sometimes she sticks to our side like glue for an entire situation. With all the noise, water and kids running around the splash park I have no doubt it will take more trips before she is comfortable. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about next steps in education and child care for Cameron. First of all, my morning commute sucks. It takes me 45-60 minutes to handle drop off, fight traffic and be at work by 8 AM. Pick up in the evening traffic would be worse and I run the risk of having meetings that run up to 5 PM so we have to stick with me doing the drop offs and DH doing the pickups.

The other concern that I have is about the educational program at her school. Cameron’s daycare uses the High Reach Learning program which is a nice philosophy but doesn’t include formal music, language (foreign) and art programs. But wait, you might be thinking, Cameron is only 14 months old. True, but before I blink she’ll be 2 and ready for pre-school. The other daycares we are STILL on the wait list for have special teachers for the areas I listed not to mention my top choice has an indoor gymnasium and the kids get physical activity regardless of the weather. The problem is that there are really only two daycares with the programs I like right in our area. My commute would be even worse if we settled on something outside our neighborhood area. Sigh. DH says he loves Cameron’s current school and I think it was great as an infant and waddler. But now that she is getting closer to “school" age I want more for her in terms of education and enrichment. And I’m willing to pay for it. Has anyone else struggled with this?