Monday, March 29, 2010

Blast from the Past

My very first best friend, Timmy (now 'Tim' because he's all grown up and stuff), found this old postcard I sent him in some childhood things he was going through.

Yes, I used to spend time in the glamorous 'International City' of El Paso, playing in the dirt. Me and dirt. I can already hear the howls of laughter from my friends.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beautiful Baby

Our close friends Lakshmy and Mike had their baby boy while we were in St. John. His name is Akash Michael Mahon and we all call him Kash. Except Brad - he's been referring to him as K-Money. Newborn high fives all around.

How sweet is this baby?? He was a pretty good sized baby, 9lbs, 5oz and seemed more then happy to camp out in mommy's tummy for as long as possible. After a lot of persuasion, though, he's finally here and we can't wait to meet him!!

Isn't he precious?? I want to eat his cheeks.... nom nom. Hopefully here in a few weeks I can get up to DC and see him in person! I'm just going to eat him up. I mean, wouldn't you??

Charlie's First Haircut

Yesterday we got up and went to Einstein's Bagels with Charlie for a nice breakfast. We had a great time. Charlie ate some blueberry bagel and had some of our orange juice. He was talkative and it was really fun.
We then took Charlie to Pigtails & Crewcuts, a children's hair cutting place in Gayton Place, for his first haircut. We asked for the First Haircut package, which includes a plastic bag with locks of his hair along with a photo in this paper frame. We had about a 10 minute wait. Charlie had a great time playing at the train table while we waited.
They called Charlie's name and we put him in the little car they have the kids sit in while they get their hair cut. About 30 seconds later, this happened:
Charlie kept jerking his head when the stylist tried to cut his hair and she, of course, had to be very careful with the scissors. Using the clippers on the back of his head was completely out of the question. Finally, she told us there was nothing else she could do.

The result was one extremely bad haircut. I cringe every time I look at it

While all this was going on, a young guy from behind the counter, who really didn't have time for all this nonsense, came and snapped one digital photo for the frame. He printed it, put it in the frame and gave it to me. It was blurry, crooked and the stylist was partially blocking Charlie in it.

The First Haircut package at Pigtails and Crewcuts is $21.95. Even though the whole thing was less then 10 minutes and the haircut was awful, Brad (probably on auto-pilot with a screaming kid next to him) tipped the stylist 20%. He is now referring to Charlie's First Haircut as The Twenty Seven Dollar Experience.

I wish I'd just gotten the regular haircut for $16 and taken my own picture and just picked up a lock of the hair off the floor. That I could have stomached for a bad hair cut. I really think that place should have stools where the parents can hold the kids in their laps if sitting in the car is upsetting - but that's your only option.

If you live in Richmond, I have heard from a friend the Midlothian location is better. Her son was a few months older then Charlie when he got his first hair cut there and it turned out really well. They were pleased. Maybe when Charlie is older we could try that location.

I've got to figure something else out for Charlie's hair - it's so uneven and choppy. For some reason she cut bangs straight across his forehead instead of letting them sweep to the side a little, so you wouldn't have been able to tell how uneven they are. I wish she'd asked me how I wanted it cut, but she didn't.

I might see if Brad's stylist, Simone, can clip it while Charlie sits in my lap or Brad's lap. Or see if my stylist at Hair Theatre would be willing to do it - she has a son a year older then Charlie. She knows.

In any case, the Easter pictures this year are going to be... memorable!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Food

I got the big eyes from the pediatrician Tuesday after I told him how much milk I have been giving Charlie since he got off formula last month. I get those big eyes whenever I'm doing something wrong. So like, frequently.

Anyways, Charlie had been drinking as much milk as he did formula - about 28-30 ounces a day. He would drink that much and eat about a meal and a half a day. What can I say - this kid's an eater.

I was told no more then 20 ounces a day of milk - preferable 18 or less. Also to start using cups instead of bottles and that should cut down on how much milk he drinks. I just can't cut the morning and night time bottles yet - that is our snuggle time and it just won't work with a sippy cup. Or a cup with a straw, which Charlie thinks is awesome but mostly because he can spray liquid everywhere and that's fun. For one of us.

I'm still working on finding different things to cook for Charlie that he will actually eat, even if it's reheated the next day at daycare. That second part is key - he rejects reheated food most of the time. My role is basically transitioning into short order cook.

I usually try to cook something that both of us can eat for dinner so I've been looking for things I like too. And I make my best effort to sneak in fruits and veggies into it. I've found a lot of prepared foods have almost no fiber or iron in them. No fiber sure does make for some interesting diapers (in both their creation and changing), I'll tell you that. I also read iron deficiency is common in toddlers.

So for my fellow mama friends, here are some new things I recently discovered that Charlie likes to eat and I am halfway willing to eat - mostly because I'm too lazy to cook two meals:
  • Seapoint Farms Dora the Explorer Edamame packets - the edamame is already shelled. I love these for a snack.
  • Red Mill high fiber pancake mix with chopped bananas and blueberries thrown in
  • Organic applesauce with chopped blackberries
  • R.W. Knudson Organic low sugar Sensible Sippers in mixed berry. Something about the dark blue berry puree in these makes me feel like they are healthy.
  • Putney frozen pasta - these are really pretty good for frozen pasta. Charlie inhaled them.
  • Annie's Bunny Grahams - oh so very delicious. I eat more of these then he does.
  • Scrambled eggs - I usually put diced bell peppers or asparagus in there. Mushrooms were an epic fail.
  • Steamed broccoli. He loves it. LOVES. My mom figured it out last week and he keeps eating it. I don't even have to put cheese on top!
  • I tried to put cheese and broccoli in canned crescent rolls and bake them. He ate them hot out of the oven and then turned up his nose the next day at daycare. Snob.
  • Sweet potatoes or butternut squash roasted in the oven with a little butter and brown sugar.
  • He loves Total Cinnamon Crunch cereal dry out of the box he has grabbed from the island cabinet where I keep the cereal. The poodles generally get in on the fun. One bite for them, one bite for Charlie.
  • Dried green beans
  • Orzo pasta with marinara, peas and corn thrown in
  • Boca fake chicken nuggets. Again these may only be freshly cooked. We can not abide by reheated "chicken".
If you have any other ideas, please email or post, as I am always looking for new ideas for him. This means you Suzie. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Year Doctor Appointment

We arrived at Charlie's doctor appointment 14 minutes late today. That is significant because they make you reschedule if you are 15 minutes late. The receptionist made a crack about just making it under the wire. What do you say to that? It's not intentional, we're just living right! It supports my theory that being late after having a kid is all relative.

Anyways, the reason we were 14 minutes is that Charlie was in a deep sleep when I got to daycare. Because he got shorted on his nap, he was fairly nightmare-ish at the doctor's office. Screaming in protest when he had to be weighed, measured, have the nurse hold him while I talk to the doctor... don't even get me started on the dramatics that ensued for his THREE vaccinations and drawing of blood. 50 long minutes.

Here are the stats -

Weight: almost 23 pounds - 50th percentile
Height: 31 inches - 75th percentile
Head Circumference: 18 7/8 inches - 90th percentile

Charlie got the Hep B, chicken pox and the dreaded MMR vaccinations. For some reason I thought the MMR was at 18 months, so that was an unpleasant surprise. We'd already decided he would get that vaccine so there wasn't really any issue but it makes me nervous. I feel like I'm just waiting and watching to make sure it's ok.

They also drew blood to make sure he's not anemic and to test for lead. Apparently if you live in our zip code then your kid gets tested for lead. Lots of old houses I guess. I think they call if something is wrong so no news is good news.

Developmentally he's right on track, babbling, hand clapping, cruising, etc. We're supposed to start cutting back on bottles in favor of more solid food and sippy cups. Not sure how that's going to go over because Charlie loves to snuggle up for a bottle. I'm also kind of sad to see that phase out because it means he's not a baby! But those Dr. Brown's bottles sure are a pain in the behind with all the different parts. So that's glass half full of me, right?

Anyways, that's about it. We came home, played, he inhaled a bunch of dinner and is sleeping fine. No fever. Next appointment at 15 months.

Monday, March 22, 2010

St. John

As much as I keep trying to trick myself into thinking we're still there, we have come home from St. John. I'm pretty sure the only reason we came back was Charlie, because we spent considerable time during the trip discussing what our 'paradise jobs' would be so we could move there. You know, things like dive instructor, massage therapist, bartender. Unfortunately, where we landed is that neither of us is qualified to live in paradise and actually make enough money to enjoy it.

That's the thing about paradise - it's expensive! Everyone wants a piece of it. We used points for the hotel and Brad just about fell over when he saw what the standard rate was on our room. So save your points if you want to go! There are only a few hotels on St. John and the Westin was very nice, resorty, great pool, calm beach. Impressive gym, less then impressive spa, lots of activities.

Since it was Spring Break there were tons of families at the resort. We watched a lot of other couples wrangle their very small children at restaurants and on the tour we went on. We wondered, could we come back another time with Charlie? I think maybe we could! Every time a child cried out I whipped around looking for him. I missed him so much the entire time and just wished he was there to take in the pool or to the playground. I think Brad missed him too - we talked about him frequently.

While the resort was great, we didn't really spend a lot of time there awake. But believe me - we slept. When we arrived we were so very tired after Charlie being up at 2am the night before and an early flight. Actually, what am I saying? I have been tired since my third trimester. After some drinks and dinner we went to bed and slept 12 hours that first night. Heaven on a stick.

St. John is great because it's small and pretty easy to get around. There are taxis that go just about everywhere and charge you published rates so you don't get ripped off. We'd take them from the resort to dinner, to different bays for snorkeling, to go shop in town - the town of Cruz Bay, which is the only place anything is happening on this fairly sleepy island.

We did manage to find one remote spot, Leinster Bay, that had hardly any people there - we mostly had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, when we were ready to leave, we walked out to the parking lot and it was EMPTY. No taxis to get us back to the hotel. We ended up having to walk to a nearby campground and wait for the taxi that comes every evening at 6:30 to take people to Cruz Bay for dinner.

It was a long walk, lots of time to talk, which we rarely have. It was hot and mostly uphill so we discussed what our first, second and third drinks were going to be at dinner that night. When we got there, the camp had a general store where Brad managed to find Blue Moon AND an orange to go in it. He didn't seem quite as put out with our situation after that.

The campground we went to was actually an 'eco-resort', which I thought was pretty cool. Maho Bay Camps was the name, since I think some of you might want to check it out. Brad said it was a little granola for him but seemed impressed they considered Blue Moon enough of a necessity to keep in their little store.

We went scuba diving once during the trip and decided it wasn't worth it to do any more. Since we had not been diving since we went to Turks & Caicos a few years ago, we started with a refresher dive. It was pretty shallow (30 to 35 feet) and fairly mediocre - though we did see our first shark! A whopping 3 foot reef shark. He was hiding under a ledge, praying all the annoying tourists would go home soon.

When we were back up on the boat afterwards I asked where they typically go for good diving. The dive master told me that was about as deep as you go in St. John and pretty typical of what you'll see. Umm, ok, way to sell it to me. Apparently all the good wall diving is over at St. Croix, which I have heard (but can't verify) is the least desirable of our 3 U.S. Virgin Islands to actually stay on.

At that point we decided to not do any 2 tank dives, to snorkel instead and do an excursion to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths and snorkel the caves at Treasure Island. All the pictures in the slideshow with the really big rocks - that's the Baths.
You walk through these huge rock formations (above) over to Devil's Bay, which is breathtakingly beautiful. It was a yellow flag day though, so too rough to really swim in. This shot was taken in between violent swells. Run in, pose for semi-seductive picture, run out. Also a shot of the bay below.
The snorkeling was excellent everywhere we went. Well, besides the bay where the Westin is, which is better for docking your boat. Your boat you can't afford because you are now working your paradise job instead of your real career. Anyways. We went to Trunk Bay when we visited St. Thomas a few years ago so we decided to try the others. Honeymoon Beach near Caneel Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Leinster Bay. Pictures are in that order:
We saw lots of neat stuff snorkeling, including a beautiful stingray that we watched for several minutes. Lots of beautiful fish, some strange looking lobsters and all sorts of coral. It was kind of like being a fish at times, there were so many surrounding us. I kept my eyes peeled for turtles, but no go. Leinster Bay is even a turtle egg nesting ground but nada. We saw huge sea turtles in Turks & Caicos and I had hoped for a repeat performance. Someone let the turtle community know that, k??

The only spot we missed out on that I wish we could have hit is Salt Pond, which is supposed to be awesome snorkeling. It is close to Coral Bay, which has a couple of fun places to go to eat/drink. You really need to rent a Jeep to get there. I don't even want to think about how stranded we would have been if we'd made it there instead of Leinster Bay. That's OK - next time.

Overall, I think the food is a bit better in St. Thomas then St. John. In neither location do you want to look at the prices, which are ridiculous. Brad and I both remembered the food in St. Thomas being incredible, It was mostly just OK in St. John. We had a couple really nice dinners in Cruz Bay - Asolare and Waterfront Bistro. Asolare was hands down the best - it has a hill top view of the bay and is very quaint, with stone walls and arches.

We had this nutty waitress who told us during dinner she was taking an online class on how to be a psychic. She said she thought she was getting pretty good at it and something interesting was about to happen to us. I must have scoffed because she bet me an after dinner drink that one of the fellow customers would come sing at our table randomly. I took the bet and spent the next 20 minutes watching everyone every closely. I even questioned the assistant server's motives when she delivered our dinner.

Sure enough, this youngish guy waltzes over and starts singing opera. He was the busboy, on his night off. After he finished the tables next to us just stared at us. One lady asked how I made that happen. Even though I lost the bet, I did get an after dinner drink and sent the busboy one as well. That kind of talent and busing tables in order to live in paradise. I guess that's his paradise job. Kinda sucks if you ask me.

Brad was obsessed with 2 things while we were there: Iguanas and T-shirts. We couldn't walk anywhere without him pointing out the closest iguana or a t-shirt he needed to buy. Needed. Because he doesn't have enough t-shirts he says. I think his t-shirt drawer would disagree, but that is not a battle worth fighting. So here's a shot of Brad with an iguana, right before he bought a t-shirt.

Charlie had a great week while we were gone with my mom and my dad was even able to come for a few days. They played and went all sorts of places and he got a new tooth and tried some new foods. It was such a relief knowing he was in good hands while we were gone - made it easier to relax. I called every day though! He spent the last night in Williamsburg with Brad's family and that's where we picked him up. We were so excited to see each other! It still hasn't worn off.

Overall, we had a very nice, relaxing (for us), fun time. We aren't really two people who can sit around all day, so we're pretty compatible travel partners. I don't think I really appreciated how badly we needed that break together until we got back. As my neighbor told me, trips like this after you have kids are how you remember why you liked each other in the first place. And it's so true!

It was an excellent recharge, especially considering how much Brad is gone for work. In fact, he had to turn around and leave Sunday morning to go back to work. It was like being splashed in the face with cold water that our vacation is actually over. I haven't been able to get the message through to my stomach, though, who would still like just as much vacation food please.

I hope next year we can get away again together. Until then I'll just have to look at the pictures. And perfect my rum punch recipe. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Paradise in 3 1/2 Minutes

We're back from Saint John and since I love a good photo slideshow, here you go! It was an incredible trip and I'll have to write more about it soon.

There's music for this one too! Vampire Weekend.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What a week

And I mean that in a bad way.

My normal week is pretty stressful. Brad travels and so I juggle Charlie, work, etc. on my own each week. There is not a lot of room for error and it takes very little to throw my week into a tailspin. Like an unexpected virus with overnight ramifications coming to visit.

I should really look on the bright side - at least it was not a stomach virus so there's nothing to, ahem, clean up. And fortunately I didn't catch it too, which would have made it harder to care for him. But poor Charlie just has the worst drainage and coughing. Add his asthma in the mix and he was pretty sick Tuesday night. And awake, screaming, extremely unhappy until the Tylenol kicked in. Neither of us got much sleep.

The next day, Charlie napped to address his lack of sleep. I took a different approach and just wrote a bunch of work emails that didn't make any sense. And ate waaaay too many girl scout cookies.

We went to the pediatrician on Wednesday morning to get him checked out. I always know that if I start feeling too full of myself or think for a moment that I'm actually taking care of this child properly, I can visit my pediatrician to be cut back down to size. Check your self confidence at the door please. Maybe I should have taken the doctor some girl scout cookies. Maybe that's why she was so hard on me.

I left with my list of things I am doing wrong/inadequately after a couple of lectures and being threatened that my son will be in the ER if the nebulizer mask separates from his face for even a moment! Be warned bad mother! Because of the lack of sleep from the night before I also left in tears. Charlie needed to get home for a nap so I didn't even have time to swing through the drive thru for a 'someone was mean to me' milkshake!

Anyways, I've been trying to catch up with work ever since and Charlie is still sick. Fortunately M-I-L Sue drove in from Williamsburg to watch Charlie today so I could get to work for a while. The fever appears to be gone and we're (I'm) going to play it by ear in the morning. I have SO. MUCH. work to do tomorrow. And I'd really rather just lay down and close my eyes. I'm not even picky as to where. Anywhere will do! Can I power nap in the car? Possibly.

There is relief on the horizon, though. My mom gets here Saturday to take care of Charlie and Brad and I leave for St. John on Sunday morning. Woohoo! I will not believe it until I am sitting on the plane. I think I'm scared to get my hopes up. I haven't packed a thing. Or doused myself in spray tanner. I am so pale, I glow.

I can't tell you how badly we need this break. I think my post-birth adrenalin has finally given out because my life is exhausting me lately. Brad and I are working on some options to make things easier with him gone so much - especially given all these inevitable illnesses, etc. that make the week so much more hectic when you're flying solo.

Our recent attempt to have babysitters come a couple of times a week after bed time has pretty much failed. While it's nice to get out, it just pushes the rest of my 'get ready for tomorrow' routine until later and I get less sleep. The week I had the babysitters come 2 nights I was exhausted. After a full day of work and taking care of Charlie I need to relax and take care of everything when he goes down for the night. And running to Target and the mall does not constitute relaxation. So that's kind of the challenge I'm working through lately.

On vacation we plan to do a whole lot of nothing soaked in rum punch. I'm taking the book The Help and am going to finally finish the Time Traveler's Wife. Also going to try to scuba dive while we're down there. I lost my certification card a long time ago when my wallet was stolen and never replaced it. We need a refresher course anyways because it's been so long since we went diving - I'm just hopeful they'll take my temp card if we schlep all our stuff down there. Oh well, it's paradise so everything will turn out just as it should, right? Or am I confusing it with heaven? I visualize them looking so similar!

Well I'd stay and talk longer but I have a nightly routine to get to. Sigh.

Monday, March 8, 2010

1 Year of Charlie

Chair pictures used to be so easy. They were polite, quiet affairs, where I'd squeak a toy to make Charlie smile and then snap a picture. Now, they are mayhem. Mayhem that has to span over 2 nights so I have enough decent pictures to post. I have approximately 5 seconds from the time I deposit Charlie in the chair to make him laugh and snap a picture. Then chaos ensues.

Exhibit A, Chaos:
Charlie is what is known as a 'high energy' child. I have learned from conversations with parents of other 'high energy' children that the appropriate reaction to this information is a healthy amount of fear. Since I have very little basis for comparison, and Charlie is not yet walking, my fear has its limits. Ignorance is like that.

I get lots of notes at daycare on Charlie's daily report about how much energy he has. He doesn't nap much and goes all day. The teachers describe it to me with wonderment. Brad is always telling me they tell all the parents the same compliments (so-and-so loves music! so-and-so is very smart and enjoys being read to, etc.) but I'm not sure 'your child can play for 8 hours with no rest' is really much of a compliment. They practically say 'good luck' and pat me on the back right before the weekend starts.

I think Charlie is going to be walking soon. Brad says he is kind of dreading it since Charlie will be even harder to keep up with. However, I'm looking forward to it since I'm the one who carries him around most of the time. 23 pounds of squirming baby is not kind to your back. Plus I think it will be fun to take him places where he can run around and play. He is a 'high energy' child after all.

Back in early January I watched Charlie pull up on our leather ottoman and start taking steps to the side. He also practices in his crib when he wakes up in the morning and from naps. I wonder if he will wait until he is good and mad we left him and went on vacation next week and then walk. Fortunately my mom has promised not to tell us if that happens and just act really amazed when he walks immediately upon our return!

We're working on some words and I think there are a few sounds that mean something. Obviously da-da-da-da-da has meaning, however we use that on more occasions then when Daddy is around. When I ask who the baby is or talk about 'the baby' I generally get a deeee-deee in return. Like baby with a D. There's some mama type sounds. Some Baaaah sounds that I think mean Bath. And the dogs get a very loud and pointed DAH! when they come around. This is usually accompanied with some finger pointing.

Charlie still has the same 7 teeth he's had since October. Since that is perfectly adequate for getting through all the solid food he wants to get through, it's almost like there's really no point in growing any more teeth. Reminds me of his crawl - he was pretty quick with his military crawl so there wasn't much point in crawling on his knees. He was pulling up and standing before he bothered messing with a knee crawl. It's all function over form with Charlie.

We just transitioned Charlie from formula to whole milk and I can't tell if he likes it or not. He ate the first few bottles fine and rejected the last few, but that may be because he's sick. We're trying some soy milk for a few days. I'm sure we will settle on whichever produces the least amount of gas in his little tummy.

Moving to milk does seem to leave him hungrier for more solid foods, which I can only guess is by design. I've been trying all sorts of different foods with him and some are hits but most are misses. I think it takes several times of trying things before a child gets used to them so I'm not discouraged. I'll just keep plugging away.

So far the drinkable yogurt, pancakes and grilled cheese are probably his favorites (besides cupcakes, ahem) but he'll eat pasta with marinara, butternut squash, dried green beans and rice pretty happily. He just discovered granola bars this morning and that seemed to be a hit. I can tell food and Charlie are just going to go together like peas and carrots!

Charlie's wearing 12 to 18 month clothing and it seems like he's not growing out of things nearly as fast. We're about to take him to get his first haircut, as all that fine blond hair is getting a bit unruly. It's so fine that when he wakes up in the morning it's usually bent in all sorts of funky directions. There are also a couple of cowlicks in there. Brad suggested growing it out long this past weekend. I couldn't tell if he was kidding. It really doesn't matter.

For the past few months Charlie has enjoyed being read to but it was only recently that he seemed to want to sit still for more then one or two books. He likes to reach out and turn the pages. Good thing I have most of his books memorized because his timing is a tad off. I put a book in his crib with him and when he wakes up in the morning or after a nap he will look at it while talking to himself and flip through the pages. It's very sweet to watch through the crack in the door.

Charlie got a bunch of new toys for his birthday and still loves anything that is loud. He's very into putting small objects into larger objects. Hitting things together remains a favorite past time. If a toy is worthy of playing with it better make noises, sing songs or sound really satisfying when it hits the floor or another object.

Health-wise we still have gas issues with him. He *hates* being on his back. Diaper changing is a timed speed event in this house. Improve your best time or pay the price. Lately I've just been trying to dress him sitting up.

Still having periodic chest colds like all kids do. They tend to be worse for him because of his asthma but having the nebulizer at home helps. It feels like we are at the pediatrician every week for some reason or another. Do all parents feel like that? Do you quit going as frequently with the 2nd kid because you already know what they're going to say?

Anyways, this post has been so delayed - and not just because I'm low on free time. How do you encapsulate the first year of your baby's life in a blog post? Very easy to procrastinate on that one because it's such a daunting task. I finally decided that would be too much to take one so I'm treating this as any other update - with plenty of mundane details about things just about every baby Charlie's age does!

I could try to get poetic about what Charlie and the past year have meant to me but I found out by reading old posts that it's all already written down. That was really the point of the blog to begin with - to document my memories of watching the most important thing I've ever done grow. This past year has shown me higher highs and lower lows then I've known before in my life. However, I think when you have that is when you know you're really living.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Year of Charlie in 5 minutes

I keep sitting down to write my One Year of Charlie but I'm finding his first birthday to be more bittersweet then I was prepared for. I'm having a hard time writing it.

For the time being, I've compiled some photos** that show the first year of his life. I even added music so be sure to listen! When Charlie was tiny and had lots of gas and needed to be walked around frequently, I would play this song, which is part of an iTunes mix I put together called Charlie Sleep. Kind of a soundtrack to holding my baby.

So without further ado, here is a year of Charlie, who is my simple love.

**apologies for the sophomoric effort; this is my first time using iMovie.