Friday, December 31, 2010

Show me the mommy!

Really this should be show me the auntie (pronounced auhn-tee!) because I spent some time showing Ned how to use my iPhone. I figured since he is incapacitated there was no time like the present to start playing with Apple products.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Trip: Part 2

On Christmas morning we left Springfield for our pilgrimage to Andover to see my side of the family. I had hoped to be on the road by 7 AM (yeah, right) but we left at 8:15. Because of that we missed the opening of stocking presents (just for the little kids) and somehow I forgot my camera. So all of the pictures below are courtesy of my dad's kick ass SLR camera.

A couple of items of note. Cameron entered her pickiest eating phase EVER on this trip. I think she subsisted entirely on crackers and milk. Every time my mom put a new food in front of Cameron I would warn her, "Cameron won't eat that." But she would push it and Cameron would have the biggest melt downs. Sigh. I'm very glad we are back home so at least we have our fall back foods and a modicum of nutrition.

We also missed a white Christmas in Charlotte. Who would have thought that Charlotte would have a white Christmas? Fortunately the Boston area got 18 inches of snow on the 26th. I took Cameron out on the deck because she really wanted to go outside. As soon as we were out she insisted I carry her (of course) and she kept saying, "it's hot, it's hot." What she meant was that it was cold. So DH and I had fun teaching her the difference between hot and cold. Now everything is cold but we're getting there!

Cameron came over to her grandparent's house in her pjs. She got to open her stocking presents while all the cousins played around her. So that really meant DH and I opened her presents and she played with the toys strewn about the room.
Cameron got these cool sunglasses and actually wore them for a minute before abandoning them for another toy.
Here Cameron opens really cool spill proof (yeah, we'll see about that!) paint from Melissa and Doug that her Grammy and Bumpa gave her. We ended up shipping all of the presents back to Charlotte and they should arrive today which means Christmas all over again!
Here is a shot of the entire family opening presents. What do you don't see is the mound of presents under the tree. Grammy and Bumpa were very generous with their grandkids.
I was hoping that the group mentality would kick in for mealtimes. Unfortunately Cameron insisted on eating practically nothing. But she did eat her Happy Meal when we got McD's during the blizzard.
We had a family photo session on Sunday. Need I say that it was chaotic? There were many meltdowns, nose picking and I don't think the photographer got a single shot of the entire family smiling at the camera. Fortunately he said he can do some face switching so we should get at least one good picture out of the bunch. The best part was my sister Kristin attempting to put Ned into time out during the session and bribing her kids with Altoids to behave. Classic.

All in all, a good trip up to see family and friends. But I think we will be sticking to our plan of an every other year trip during the holidays. It was fun but exhausting!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Trip: Part 1

I know I have been remiss in posting. I deliberately did not bring my personal computer with us on our Christmaspalooza because I was hoping to enjoy a little down time with my Kindle. Despite a cold, about 50 family members and juggling a toddler, down time was in fact achieved. Amazing, no?

We arrived at DH's parents' house in Springfield, MA on Wednesday, December 22nd. The flight with Cameron was fine except I used my entire bag of tricks which included $10 worth of iPhone apps for her. The problem with the toddler apps I've come across is that they are repetitive (numbers, letters, animals, etc.). So if anyone can point me to better apps for the 2+ age range, I would appreciate it. Funny aside...on Christmas Eve we had 6 people in the same room on different devices (iTouch, iPad, iPhone) all playing Angry Bird. I thought my mother-in-law was going to keel over by none of us interacting in the same room. The wave of the future? Perhaps. We did play Trivial Pursuit all together later that night so all was not lost.

Cameron got some cool clothes, books and of course toys on Christmas Eve. Her favorite was the Santa present from us: an Elmo doll. Just the basic plush, cuddly one. She has it in her crib as I type this. Below are photos from our visit with my in-laws. Tomorrow I'll post pictures from the rest of the trip to my family's house.

Cameron hangs out with her daddy the morning after we arrive.
Memere lets Cameron adorn herself with ornaments.
If she isn't careful, Cameron's face will freeze that way!
Cameron hangs out with her cousins. She was a little overwhelmed at first but quickly grew to love them. She was particularly enamored of Ryan (or Ry-Ry as she called him).
They walked around the house holding hands...too cute!
The cousins pose for their picture on the stairs.
Memere Gabby with two of her great-granddaughters.
Cameron poses for a picture with Ryan. Isn't her dress adorable? Unfortunately it was also long and a 2T so she took a couple of headers into door frames until we finally put her in pjs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Early Christmas Present: Kindle Review

I have mentioned many times on this blog that I am a voracious reader. Primarily Fantasy novels (typically series) but also historical romances, some murder mysteries (JD Robb) and the occasional contemporary book. I buy many books in hard cover and have already filled our 14 foot bookshelf in the 2 years since we had it built. Needless to say, it is an expensive hobby but worth it for me because I often re-read books, especially if a new one in the series just came out. No, I haven’t tackled the 13 previous Robert Jordan books when the 14th one came out because even I have a breaking point! But I will probably read the whole series again when the last (supposedly) book comes out next year (supposedly). However, I digress.

I’ve been toying with getting a Kindle for a while. The biggest sticking point for me is that many of my fantasy books do not come out on the eReader until several months after the hard cover has been published. Why? I have no freaking idea. I mean, the publishing company already has it formatted in Word or some other application, right? So how hard can it be to just published as an eBook? I started hinting to my husband that maybe a Kindle would be a good idea for my birthday which is in April. We were supposed to be finished with our Christmas shopping for each other. See what I did there? Drop hints about a birthday present right around Christmas? Yes, I’m devious.

Because we are traveling for the holidays, DH and I decided to do a small gift exchange this weekend. He pushed for it and I caved. What did he get me for Christmas? A Kindle! I’m convinced DH insisted on gifts early just so that I wouldn’t pack tons of books for our trip and force us to pay even more for checked luggage. He got me the 3G version and I’ve spent the past two days playing with it, downloading free samples, searching for my favorite authors and purchasing one book. Yes, just one…for now.

Let me start my review by saying I love my Kindle already. But a lot of what I am going to write here will seem negative. I’d love to have you weigh in if you have an eReader.

The Kindle is super easy to use. I was able to download a sample from a book without even looking at the directions. But as an iPhone user, I kept sliding my finger along the screen to get to the different areas of the page. Yes, Apple has corrupted me and I now expect every device to be interactive with a touch screen. I’m sure that is a future enhancement to the Kindle but it does take longer to navigate without it. The keys for typing are also pretty small and they are low and round which makes it a bit more difficult to type. Amazon would have been better served to copy Blackberry’s keyboard format (yes, I have a Blackberry for work too).

The screen is very easy to read and you can adjust the type font and size quickly. I have kept mine on the factory settings. Why mess with a good thing? That might change if I start downloading periodicals or magazines. I do wish the screen had a backlight for situations where the lighting is less than optimal. But something has to be sacrificed for the amazing battery power. I read for 2 hours last night and didn’t even make a dent in the batter power indicator. Another big plus is how light and small it is. I can easily tuck it in my purse and pull it out to read at any moment. Pure bliss for me.

Here are the really big negatives for me. First of all, is there some reason that most of the books cost the same as their in-store counterparts? The book I purchased was $7.99, the exact same I would pay (without my B&N discount card) in a store. It doesn’t take an MBA grad to know that that is fishy. No shipping, no paper, no binding…where exactly are my savings from buying this eBook? Is it the publishers being greedy or Amazon? Yes, I know that hard covers are typically less ($13.99 vs. $24.99) but I expect to see that same savings for paperback editions too! I don’t begrudge a slightly higher margin for publishers but charging the same as in-store makes me feel ripped off. I’m going to spend a lot more time on Amazon’s site to find books that are more affordable. I’ll provide an update to this review if I am successful.

The second big negative is one I’ve mentioned above. Most of my favorite books are not available as eBooks. Raymond Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Anne Bishop, David Eddings, etc. Only their most recent books are available in the Kindle store. I am aware that makes the most financial sense for Amazon and publishers but many of these books aren’t available at all in stores. So why not just convert them into eBooks and start generating more revenue? This might force me to branch out and read more contemporary books. I’m not opposed to that but I wish the Kindle store would offer more of the books I like.

There are lots of other features on Kindle that I don’t see myself using any time soon: comments on passages or articles that get posted to Facebook, note taking, etc. But for more tech-savvy users, I’m sure they are wonderful features. I'm also not sure that I really needed a 3G Kindle. We have wireless at home and it's available in many other locations. But I'm sure I will appreciate the convenience when I really need it. So, what do the rest of you think about the Kindle or other eReaders? Do any of you have the same complaints I do about eBook costs?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Show me the mommy: weight loss update

This week, not only am I playing along with Laura's "Show Me The Mommy" December contest, I thought I would also provide a weight loss update. Here is my last update from October.

It's hard to believe that at the end of March I joined Weight Watchers with the hope that I would lose weight. Scratch that. It wasn't hope, it was an expectation and a willingness to do the program right so that I would be healthier, for me, for DH and for Cameron. It's been almost 9 months and as of my last weigh in, I am down just over 45 pounds. Yup, as my sister Allison would say I've lost an entire child. What would you say, second grader?

I'm toying with the idea of losing another 5 pounds because 50 seems like such a nice round number, don't you think? But technically I just have about 2 pounds to go to hit my personal goal and achieve lifetime member status. I still plan on attended the weekly meetings because they really keep me motivated and on track. Wish me luck going into the holidays! I hope to maintain and not gain but I'm not crazy enough to think that I'll lose weight while up in Massachusetts for the holidays. I'm already looking forward to crabbies (family appetizer) and homemade Christmas cookies and I refuse to not indulge myself.

It's sad that I got myself to the point that I need to lose this much weight. But if you had asked me at the start of this journey if I would make it this far I don't think I would have been confident. So it's nice to be on the other end of things wrapping up my weight loss experience. I still have to work on adding/maintaining exercise. It's fallen by the wayside with my illnesses of the past 3 weeks and I don't see much exercise in the next week and a half while traveling. Hopefully the new year will re-motivate me. Or I can do what my friend, Natalie, does and have people give me encouragement via Facebook to get my butt to the gym.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Excuse me while I whine

I’m sick. Again. While it’s not the soul sucking experience that was strep throat from two weeks ago the constant sneezing and blowing of my nose has resulted in a distinctly Rudolph-like appearance. Just in time for the holidays, right? It is compounded by a cold snap that keeps me from feeling warm more than a few hours a day (when I’m snuggled in bed with the furnace of a dog next to me). I’m trying to figure out why exactly it is that I’ve been getting sick so often. I’m in the best health of my life and at age 33 I figure I’ve been exposed to a lot of germs up this point which should have strengthened my immune system. Apparently germs from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia differ from North Carolina ones.

Cameron has been sick frequently but she seems to shake it off and/or ignore it successfully. Is it because she is young and oblivious to how she should be feeling? Is the fact that I’m middle aged (really, is 33 middle aged? Kind of a scary thought) and feel the aches and pains so much more? I’m liberally dosing myself with drugs and still feeling miserable.

Interesting, DH has yet to catch any of these bugs. I have a couple of theories about how he has avoided illness so far this winter. He works at home so he avoids the work germs that I come into contact with regularly. DH avoids errand running like it’s the plague. Yes, he will go grocery shopping and to Home Depot. Most other errands fall to me which I don’t mind because it gets me and Cameron out of the house. I’m also more willing to let Cameron stick her fingers in my mouth and feed me food than DH is. Cameron’s latest obsession is to force feed me and DH her snacks and she won’t take no for an answer. The best is when she puts in her mouth first and then forces it into mine. Lovely picture, isn’t it? Finally, I have a theory, corroborated by my friend, the Internet, that men just generally get sick less than women. This study confirms that men get sick less but whine about it more. I think DH would disagree with the last part of that hypothesis. I am woman…hear me complain.

Would you agree that women get sick more often than men? How has your winter been faring when it comes to illness?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Static cling

What a week, my internet friends. I had my 2011 strategy planning sessions for two days, two work dinner events, a possible UTI for Cameron (negative fortunately), had Cameron sent home from daycare for a fever and I’m still recovering from my strep throat from last week which has meant a 9 PM bedtime and little time in the evenings for blogging. DH has been a champ, stepping up to handle the UTI doctor’s appointment and staying home with Cameron for most of the day yesterday. I ducked out of my planning session early to take the afternoon shift. Keep your fingers crossed for us that Cameron doesn’t get sick for the rest of the year. I’m more than out of sick time (we don’t really track it at BigFinance) and we have our big travel for the holidays. In the meantime, enjoy the effects of cold, dry weather and thin, fine hair.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What gets me through my week.... experiencing things like this.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Toddler development and ongoing challenges

I know I’ve been bad at blogging lately filling the void with a lot of picture posts and not much content. But now that I’m back on my feet post-strep throat fiasco I thought it was time for a sharing of our current Cameron challenges. At 20 months old we are still struggling with hitting and biting. She is very good about not hitting and biting other kids. Mommy? Not so much. If DH or I deny her anything it’s a wide open mouth going for the chomp on an arm or a leg. Heck, sometimes even a boob! We’ve tried 1-2-3 with timeouts, yelling, ignoring, you name it, we’ve tried it. Except hitting or biting back of course. I’m just going to keep hoping this is a phase. It is a phase right? Just a long one?
Cameron and we are still addicted to the pacifier and I have no plans to remove it anytime soon. DH and I were both finger suckers. And I find that when Cameron doesn’t have her pacifier she sticks her hands in her mouth. We are trying to limit pacifier time to right before bed and only in the car and in the crib. Unfortunately that fell completely by the wayside during Thanksgiving (4 days of whining was enough to give plenty of lollypops and pacifiers) and my illness/DH’s travel. I feel some guilt for still having the reliance on the pacifier but I figure how many college students bring a pacifier with them to campus? Right? The problem is that Cameron now says “paci” and asks for it constantly. She’ll usually put a “please” after it which totally melts my heart. DH and I are trying to stand firm on limiting the paci time so please send us good thoughts.
Cameron still sleeps great for the most part. Usually she only cries when she has had a nightmare or is sick. Our biggest challenge in the sleep area has been keeping her warm enough. We bought a big fleece blanket to put in her crib and have done away with the sleep sacks. Cameron isn’t a big climber (watch me jinx us) so I’m not too worried about her climbing out of her crib. We have her in fleece footsie PJs and she won’t keep the blanket over her. Her feet are a little cold in the morning so perhaps I need to bite the bullet and order new fleece sleep sacks? Would it be a safety issue to use our little space heater?
Our biggest challenge by far has been eating. Cameron will usually eat whatever daycare serves but with us? No way, no how. We seriously serve the same meal every night for her. Fish sticks or chicken nuggets, some kind of potato (usually tots), green beans (occasionally carrots) and fruit. Sometimes she is gracious and will eat Annie O’s but only the plain O’s, nothing else. I think part of the problem is that she eats before us. But I don’t see that changing any time soon as she goes to bed by 7 PM. When I was sick I gave her pasta and had some with her but she wanted nothing to do with it. Should I just go ahead and serve her something and attempt to not worry when she eats nothing? Will she wake up hungry in the middle of the night? Or start waking up at 5:30 AM instead of 6:30? What is a parent to do??? Yes, I have food issues so nothing stresses me out more than not having Cameron eat.
DH and I guesstimate that Cameron knows as many as 100 words. It’s a very rough guesstimate. She says words back to us very clearly and now says Mommy and Daddy instead of Mama and Dada. Our problem is when Cameron initiates a conversation with us. 75% of the time we have no idea what she is saying. At this age they just don’t enunciate very clearly so most of the words sound the same. I’ve been trying the old, “Show me what you want” trick but Cameron usually just looks at me like I’m an idiot and just repeats herself. We’ll get there, I know, and when we do I’ll be lamenting the fact that I ever complained about not understanding her.
Finally TV watching and toilet training are non-existent at this point. What I wouldn’t give for Cameron to be interested in some TV for even five minutes at a time!! She has zero interest in it which makes it hard to get her dinner ready or small chores completed. Every time I try to duck into the kitchen there she is tugging on my pant leg whining, “Up, up”. Sometimes Mommy needs 5 minutes of alone time! That used to be bathroom time but we are attempted to indoctrinate Cameron into the wonders of toilets so she visits the bathroom with me. Not that it’s resulted in success. This weekend she said, “diaper” and DH checked it but it was fine. Two minutes later she said “diaper” again and there was poop! We were all excited at this signal and started running her to the potty whenever she said diaper. Biggest waste of time ever. If there was even one pee success I’d keep going but the taking off the diaper, trying to get her to sit still and then getting her dressed again is taking too much time and effort. So potty training won’t really get started until well after she turns two.
Parent’s of other toddlers, what else are you struggling with at this age?