Monday, January 31, 2011

My pacifier addiction

I will admit it. I am a pacifier addict. My daughter is 22 months old and I am very happy that she still has her pacifier.
A lot of the topics on my birth boards recently involves breaking the pacifier habit or starting potty training. Those are two things that I plan on waiting substantially longer to tackle. In fact, for potty training I just plan on letting daycare take the lead, but that's a whole other post.

In terms of the pacifier DH and I actively encouraged Cameron's obsession when she was an infant. In fact, we only unswaddled Cameron and did cry it out (CIO) at around 6 months because she started waking herself up at night needed the soothing pacifier.

Both DH and I were finger suckers until far too old to admit. So that is one plus to having Cameron still addicted to the pacifier. It's a lot easier to break the pacifier habit than the finger sucking one. But that is really just an excuse. The real reason I like the pacifier is the peace and quiet it gives us.
We only let Cameron have the pacifier in her crib or the car. Or if she is struck down simultaneously with strep and hand/foot/mouth disease she gets it whenever the hell she wants. But having the pacifier in the crib gives us an extra half hour in the morning of peace. Or a longish car ride is passed listening to music rather than the whinings of a toddler.

So that's my dirty little secret: I am a mom who fully supports the pacifier and doesn't plan to take it away until I have to (aka am mommy guilted into it). What's your dirty parenting secret?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You must be superwoman, right?

I think most of you are regular readers of my blog but for anyone stopping by for a visit (Hi!) you should know that I am a full time work out of home wife and mother. What does that mean exactly? It means that weight loss and exercise were never really priorities for me until I decided to make them priorities. Incorporating weight loss and exercise into your daily and weekly routine is hard.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about what made this go around with weight loss successful (almost at 50 pounds lost!) and wanted to share my thoughts for anyone interested in getting started with your own weight loss and exercise routine. Please note that I went from a person who never exercised or really tried to lose weight/keep it off to regularly watching what I eat and exercising. So I hope this is helpful for people starting at ground zero like I was.

I’m sure won’t surprise you to know that money plays a role in weight loss. Is it possible to not spend any more money and lose weight? Sure! But it helps to have flexibility in your budget. Here are some things that are now in mine:
  • Weight Watchers monthly pass. It is $39.95 per month and includes access to their eTools. I go to the meetings because in person accountability is a key success factor for me. What can I say, I crave validation which is probably why I blog. So please leave a comment! I track my PointsPlus on my iPhone which is great because I have it with me always. I typically look up point values before I eat something so I’m making an informed decision. I should be achieving Lifetime status soon at WW (fingers crossed!) so that monthly fee will be reduced to just the eTool access. I also submitted a request to my insurance last year and got $150 reimbursed. So be sure and check your insurance plan!
  • iPhone/apps are another great way to get and stay motivated with working out. I have been downloading great songs to add to my workout list. Plus, I recently started the Couch to 5K program and yes, there’s an app for that! Next up on the technology front will probably be a heart rate monitor and pedometer. Recommendations on specific brands are welcome.
  • Gym. I joined a gym in May of last year primarily because they had a kick ass outdoor pool/splash park area that I knew Cameron would love. It gradually morphed into an individual membership for me. I get to use their equipment and take their group classes (my personal favorite right now is spinning). Plus they have daycare (more on that below).
  • Personal trainer. My parents generously gifted me with 4 one hour personal training sessions for Christmas. I have had 3 sessions so far and absolutely love it. My PT pushes me way harder than I would on my own. Plus she is creating total body workouts for me that I can use on my own. I won’t be having weekly PT sessions once I’m done (sniff) but I plan on working at least monthly session into our budget. It will keep me on track with weight lifting and force me to do more than just cardio.
  • Cleaning service. What is the most precious thing that working parents need? Time. We got a cleaning service when I returned to work and it has absolutely freed up several hours on the weekend from cleaning. True, my house might be a little dirtier in between sessions but a bi-weekly cleaning service saves me from having to think about cleaning on a regular basis.
  • Prepared meals. I do buy WW and other prepared meals. It is great for “go to” meals when you don’t want to think about what to make or eat for dinner. I’m also less likely to eat something unhealthy when I can pop a meal in the microwave. We don’t do family dinners with Cameron yet so at least twice a week I have a frozen meal for dinner and DH makes himself a pizza.
Childcare is a critical component to making enough time in your schedule to exercise. For me, the daycare at the gym has been invaluable. It costs about $2.50 an hour (if you buy hours in bulk) and Cameron loves playing with the toys there. It’s also a great break for DH. I typically use the gym daycare on Sunday mornings. I joined a Jewish Community Center so unfortunately they are not open on Saturday mornings. Once my PT sessions are done, I plan on hitting the gym on Saturdays during Cameron’s nap. Another good source of childcare? DH, of course! He handles bedtime alone on Thursday nights while I’m at my WW meeting. Plus he usually has a glass of wine waiting for me when I get home. I’m trying to figure out a new routine for getting my Couch to 5K sessions in. Today was the first time I hit the gym right after work. I typically do drop off in the mornings and DH gets Cameron in the evenings. My work schedule (more on that below) allows me to leave work early enough to get a 30-45 minute workout in and still be back to greet Cameron when she gets home from school.

I am fortunate to have a flexible work environment. I work from home every Friday which allows me to get a workout in during my lunch hour. I typically get into the office around 7:30 AM and work until 4/4:30 PM depending on my meeting schedule. I also rarely travel for work which allows me to keep a consistent schedule. I love that BigFinance is so flexible and it’s one of the reasons I plan on staying with the company long term. True, my Blackberry blew up at 5:30 PM tonight but that is a rare occurrence.

So those are my tricks and tips for how to keep on track and motivated for weight loss and exercise. What helpful hints do you have?

Note: I am not paid endorsements for my views (I wish!). This is the second in a series of posts about my journey with weight loss and exercise. You can find the first post in this series here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New toddler, new tricks

I realize I haven't written a lot lately about Cameron's development. Our focus on illness and juggling work with travel woes has left me little time to reflect on her advancements. Just 2 months away from the age of 2, Cameron is already developing signs of the "Terrible Twos". Willful, defiant, constant mood swings...basically a preview into what we can expect when she is a teenager.

But along with the emotional ups and downs, Cameron has advanced quite a bit with her verbal, social, cognitive and physical development. She has well over 100 (we've lost count) words and is putting together 2 and 3 word sentences regularly. She engages in imaginative play with her tea set and taking care of her "babies". Cameron can kind of jump although she doesn't really get much clearance. She still can't walk up or down stairs without a lot of help from me or DH but we'll get there soon.

Cameron is getting good at saying "Please" and "Thank you." Needless to say, please was an easy one because we wouldn't give her what she wanted unless she said it. Thank you was a bit harder and she often says thank you to us when she is handing us something. It's very cute though. She has yet to master sharing and was quite the queen bee when we hosted a play date last weekend. Cameron regularly employs the word "mine" in when playing.

We have been using 1-2-3 Magic with time outs for the past two months. Cameron seems to like going into time out so I'm not sure it is having the proper effect. She does say, "No" when we ask her if she wants to go into time out so at least the punishment concept has sunk in.

We've been working with Cameron on her colors but the only ones she's consistent with is Yellow and Green. She can kind of count from 1-10 with some help. She can definitely say her ABCs as evidenced in the video proof below.

I know that development evens out for kids in the 3-4 year time frame. But I plan on pushing hard to get Cameron moved into the Twos room at daycare as soon as she turns 2. Given how long it took us to get her moved up the last time, I better start the process now!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm starting with the woman in the mirror

Almost 10 months ago I started a journey. I didn’t know it was a journey at the time but recently something clicked in my mind and I realized that what I’ve been experiencing has truly been a transformative process. This is the first in a series I plan to write about my journey with losing weight, starting to exercise regularly and perhaps most importantly, how I began to re-discover myself at the age of 33.

I never really remember being “thin”. I see pictures of myself as a kid with stick-like legs and arms but don’t have memories about how I felt at that stage. Which is as it should be. Childhood should not be about weight or self-perception. It should be about playing and laughing and crying and using your imagination. But like so many girls, that all changed for me in adolescence when I started getting breasts. That one thing changed everything for me, body-wise. Along with two mounds on my chest I started gaining weight everywhere. I assume it is related to hormones but I am not a doctor so I won’t speculate too much. It doesn’t help that I was not an active kid. I tried swimming and horseback riding but nothing clicked for me to engage in sports competitively. Instead I would prefer to curl up with a book in bed, childhood dog lying next to me. Stacey the Slug was a common family reference.

Weight continued to be a struggle through high school. And then, bam!, I arrived at college and everything changed. I’m not sure if it was the crappy food, starting smoking, copious amounts of beer, or (most likely) the enforced walking regimen to traverse the campus but the weight poured off and I lost 15-20 pounds and was suddenly a size 6. I discovered fraternity parties and boys. It was a lot of fun and I even managed to get a good education out of the process. I’m sure my parents were thrilled that their money wasn’t wasted. But the weight loss was not conscious and as such was never going to last.

Post-college I got a good job, moved in with roommates and continued to enjoy myself. The weight slowly started to creep on with lunch and dinners out frequently and drank plenty of wine. Exercise was something that other people did at the company gym. At the ripe old age of 25 I met DH. Like me, he was a smoker and enjoyed food and alcohol. Unlike me, he has basically been the same weight his entire life. We moved into together and I started planning my move to graduate school. A good relationship = packing on the pounds. DH proposed a few months before we moved to Charlottesville. A stressful first year at school coupled with wedding planning meant I lost no weight and probably put on a few more pounds. I did not actively try to lose weight for my wedding. DH loved me, I didn’t think my body was that bad and the wedding dress was already ordered in the appropriate size.

Flash forward to trying to get pregnant in Charlotte. January 2008 I went to the doctor to discuss before we started trying and to get a prescription for Chantix. He suggested that along with quitting smoking I should lose 15-20 pounds before getting pregnant. I joined Weight Watchers*, lost the weight in about 4 months and got pregnant immediately after we started trying. In 2008 Weight Watchers was a diet program for me. I had a goal – lose enough weight that when I got pregnant I wouldn’t be completely enormous. There was nothing I changed about my lifestyle and as soon as I got pregnant eating well went completely out of the window.

I gave myself a year to lose the baby weight but never really did anything about it. So at the end of March 2010 I re-joined Weight Watchers. At first I treated the program the same way…as a diet program. How did things change? Check back in next week for the second in this series. And please share your own struggles and realizations about weight and exercise in the comments section of my blog.

*I am not sponsored by Weight Watchers and am merely a satisfied customer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

By request

So many of you asked for pictures after Cameron's hair had dried, who am I to say no? I have to warn you, they look exactly like the wet ones except for one thing. Cameron let me put a barrette in her hair. Woo hoo! I ran out today and stocked up on them with the hope it will become a regular occurrence.

If you look closely in this picture, you can see the bruise on Cameron's right eye. She got it trying to chase after me when I dropped her off at the gym daycare. What did I do? Kept walking out the door. Hey, I had a spinning class to make!

I took Cameron to the gym again today and as we were walking through the halls to the car she got so many compliments on her little exercise outfit. It's never too early to start good habits! Maybe Cameron will be more athletic than me and DH. Or at least look like she is.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The first cut is always the deepest

I would be a terrible wife if I didn't post a picture that DH took this morning before I dive into the real topic of this blog post. I was in my bathroom (hall bathroom vs. master bath that has a tiny shower stall and hence unusable for me) and DH ran past the door mumbling something about 9 beers. Or so I thought. It turns out he was brushing his teeth and was really saying "There are 9 deer in the yard!" Picture proof of a few of them below.

Today I hosted a play date for our working moms play group. It was the first time in a while so I made a fruit salad and had buffalo chicken salad and pita pockets to accompany them. The kids got Pirate's Booty. Don't you want to join my group just for that yummy food?
While at the play date I told the other moms that I was planning to cut Cameron's hair. The other two moms there have sons so they have been dealing with hair cutting for quite some time. I told them I was going to try it myself and they both had as well, before admitting defeat and heading to a kid's haircut place.

Much like my sister A., I have had it with the long hair. Tangles were becoming far too common, as were food getting caught in it. Not to mention Cameron has not allowed me to put barrettes in her hair for over 8 months. Tiny top ponytails were about all I could get her to wear and 99% of the time she pulled them out at daycare.

Here is a picture of Cameron (before). As my great-grandmother would say, "You have such a pretty face so get that hair out of it!"
Below are the piles of hair that resulted from Cameron's first hair cut. I did it although DH volunteered. Yes, I'll admit it, the haircut is a bit shorter than I was planning but I think it turned out rather well. I will miss the curls but knew they were transient.
So what do you think? A success or should I just bide my time until it grows out and have a professional tackle it the next time?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This superman may not fly but he does tea parties

2011 continues to suck it. I can't believe it isn't even the middle of January yet. As I am sure you are aware, the Southeast was struck with a combination of snow and ice starting on Monday. Coincidentally I was also in Charlottesville when it hit and the shut down of the Charlotte airport necessitated in two extra nights there.

My flight to Charlotte on Monday was one of only two that wasn't cancelled. I kept checking my phone for the status update during my interviews of intern candidates at Darden. All was on time. Happily I returned my rental car and headed through security. 2 hours later it was official. No flights in or out of Charlotte. I informed DH and booked a hotel.

Needless to say, any amount of snow results in a shut down of everything in Charlotte. So while I was interviewing students, DH was stuck at home juggling a toddler and work. Like so many other transplants, DH and I have no family in the area. Which means if we end up in a situation without childcare, we have to juggle our calendars. In the past, I typically work from home and we trade off based on meeting schedules. Unfortunately we both have jobs that require a lot of meetings and conference calls and just keeping work things to evenings wasn't an option.

DH persevered and we both planned that my 5:25 AM flight on Tuesday would bring me home to help out. But an automated phone call in the middle of the night pushed back my flight to 9 AM (at least I didn't have to wake up at 4 AM!). While waiting at the airport it was pushed again to 2 PM. Right at 2 we were told that Charlotte was shut down and re-booked again for the next day. Thank goodness I was in a small regional airport. If I had to deal with that craziness at Atlanta I would have broken down crying several times. Customer service at Charlottesville was excellent.

My Tuesday delay meant poor DH had to endure another non-daycare day with Cameron. And he did an awesome job. Every time I called Cameron was laughing and chatting away in the background. He was definitely tired and stressed but helped keep my spirits up as I whiled away far too many hours in a hotel room and airport lobby. DH definitely got the short end of the stick on this particular parenting challenge. Especially since Cameron is obsessed with her new tea set and insisted on several tea parties an hour. DH is now a pro at clinking "cheers" and dipping his cookie into the "tea."

OK, I've bitched enough about 2011 although post is coming about the early advent of terrible twos. Time for photos! Just a couple since sickness and mouth sores have kept the camera from coming out a lot. But enough to keep the grandparents and great-grandparents happy, I hope!

Despite it being her "time out" chair, Cameron still likes chilling there.
DH is pushing the Yankees paraphernalia.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011: No place to go but up

I consider myself a pretty optimistic person. I usually just anticipate that things will work out and I've rarely been disappointed. True, a planner by nature and type A personality helps guide things down the right path. But just 6 days into 2011 and I'm ready for it to be 2012.

Poor Cameron. And frankly, poor me and DH. She has barely eaten since Saturday and we're lucky if she goes 5 minutes without crying. Daycare worked with us on Tuesday and Wednesday so we were able to work normal hours. Thursday was a whole different story.

I started to suspect on Wednesday that there might be more going on with Cameron than just a sore on her lip. The not eating coupled with uncharacteristic constant crying and fussiness was just too much. I blocked off my Thursday afternoon and busted my butt at work in the morning in case we got the dreaded call. And it came at 10:45 AM. The teacher told me that Cameron suddenly had sores all over her mouth, inside and out. I had amused myself by Googling hand foot and mouth disease last night so I pretty much knew that was what she had.

But who am I to deny myself the 4th doctor's co-pay since we got back from the holidays? I made a doctor's appointment hoping for some advice on pain management and getting her to eat. And also, her breath stinks. I'm mean it's kind of close to gagging terrible. 6 days with negligible amounts of food was making me emotionally overwrought. Poor Cameron wants to eat but every time she put something in her mouth she would start crying. And don't get me started on trying soft, cold, bland foods. I went to the grocery store twice to stock up on food and she has refused everything. Heck, she refused ice cream!

Needless to say, the doctor diagnosed it as the coxsackie virus and gave us a codeine prescription to help with sleeping/pain. We haven't filled it yet because I am allergic to codeine and the last thing I want is for Cameron to break out in a rash on top of this stupid virus. He warned me that this is a 5-7 day type virus and told me that her bad breath would resolve when the virus does. I'm not sure I can wait that long! Interestingly, the doctor seems to think that Cameron's strep was a total coincidence. So I have hope that this virus started Saturday/Sunday and she'll be ready for daycare again on Monday. DH is hoping so too because I'm traveling to Darden on Sunday for a recruiting trip. As of tomorrow I will be done one sick day and it's only the first week of January. Good thing I can use my sick days for Cameron.

Please send us good thoughts and prayers for quick healing. If you saw Cameron's mouth you would think she has leprosy. I tried to find a picture example online but everything I saw was nothing compared to what she has. If she let's me take a picture of her mouth tomorrow (unlikely) I'll post it for you sickos who want to see it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Overcoming a traumatic experience

Cameron was traumatized this weekend. No, it wasn’t breaking a femur or anything crazy like that. She just got sick and it touched off a traumatic experience that I need help from my readers to overcome.

On Friday Cameron woke up fussy and with a fever. I obeyed my mommy instincts and took her to the sick clinic when it opened, promptly at 8:30 AM. I love that her pediatric office does sick clinics! A 5 minute wait and we were lucky enough to be called back to meet with our regular pediatrician who was on duty. I explained that we had been around family who suffered from things like strep throat and bronchitis. Given we were going into a holiday weekend I wanted to get Cameron’s ears checked and have a test done for strep. Our doctor expressed skepticism that a not-even 2 year old could have strep but agreed to my request. The test wasn’t pleasant and DH was gagging in sympathy with Cameron. 10 minutes later we had our diagnosis: strep. The doctor was amazed and DH and I were thankful that we caught it early. We thought that after 3 days on antibiotics and pain meds Cameron would be well enough for daycare today. Sounds like a great plan, right? Oh, how wrong we were.

It started out OK. Aside from a phase in the 6-9 month stage Cameron has always taken her meds easily. I mean, they taste like candy so it shouldn’t be a problem! But for some reason the antibiotics didn’t kick in right away so I can only assume Cameron’s throat started hurting more and more. She took her meds no problem on Friday. Saturday I had to resort to bribing:
  • Yes, you can have your paci downstairs but only if you take your medicine first.
  • Yes, you can have your blankie downstairs but only if you take your medicine first.
You get the idea. Saturday night, however she refused everything. And, as you know, you can’t miss a dose of antibiotics. So DH and I rolled up our sleeves and forced Cameron to take the medicine, much as we did when she was younger: on her back, arms under our legs, head immobile, and squirt the medicine under the tongue to get her to swallow. It worked perfectly when she was a baby. Now she got so upset and cried so hard that she ended up aspirating and throwing up the medicine all over the floor, her blankie and lovie. (Side note: this is where “extras” come in handy for things like blankies and lovies. There was no time to do laundry before bed but Cameron never noticed a difference.)

Sunday morning found me in tears. Not just because of Cameron but also because I (as it turned out after 3 hours in the Minute Clinic waiting room) was suffering from a sinus infection. How the hell does DH avoid illnesses in our house?!? He must have a pact with the devil. We packed Cameron up and headed to the Sunday sick clinic hours at her pediatrician. This time we weren’t so lucky and it took us 90 minutes to get called back. After being gently lectured by an older male doctor about how to get Cameron to take her medicine (GRRRR…don’t you think we tried everything?) he acquiesced to a penicillin shot.

We were forced to give Cameron ibuprofen last night because she was still running a fever and couldn’t sleep. Same traumatic experience although she managed to keep most of the medicine down. Today we realize that she also has an open sore on her lip which is interfering with her ability to eat. What would make it better? Yup, medicine. We've been somewhat successful sneaking in Baby Orajel but other medicines are still a no-go. So, internet friends, help a parent out. How the heck to I overcome this over the next few days/weeks? How can I get Cameron back to taking medicine easily? Or have we scarred her for life?

PS - I do plan on bringing her to daycare tomorrow assuming we can push her some drugs first. It would do her good to get back into a routine after 4 days away and she isn't running a fever or contagious. It is DH's first day back after a 2 week vacation so I can't ask him to take another day off so I'll be working from home just in case we get the dreaded daycare keeps your fingers crossed for us!