Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Day

Today was my last day in the office and Charlie's last day of daycare. Up until 3:30 pm, it was a fairly uneventful day.

Since I was going into the office, I got up at daybreak, showered and got everything ready. Charlie woke up and I got him ready and I dropped him off at daycare. That's kind of how things roll on days I haven't worked from home. Quite tiring. I thought to myself, No more of this crap!

I went into the office, did some work and my VP was nice enough to take me to lunch. To one of my favorite restaurants. In his brand new Volvo convertible. OK, so that was kind of eventful.

At 3:30 daycare called and said Charlie had been coughing in a hack-like fashion for several hours and it was getting worse. I cancelled out of my 4 pm meeting, which the organizer was quite nice about considering I'm not willing to ever meet with him again after today, and went to pick up Charlie for the last time from his school.

Saying bye to everyone at daycare was kind of tough - especially the teachers in the infant room. They have been so caring and supportive in the last 14 months. Everyone hugged me and had been hugging on Charlie all day. He, in return, coughed on them, but also blew kisses and cheerfully waved good bye to everyone. Probably seemed like any other day to him.

Between Charlie being sick and the fire drill they were about to have, there wasn't much time to say good-bye. I suppose that was kind of a blessing. After a few minutes, it's hard to know what more to say. I can only thank them so much. I think I might write them each a note. Is that weird?

So we left and I tried not to think how weird it all was as we drove to the pediatrician's office. Which was so crowded we had to park in a different parking lot. Back to school time, which means shots and children screaming and panicked looks from Charlie. We had to wait an hour to be seen.

When we finally got back to an examination room, I only kept Charlie in there for a few minutes. I let him out to wander and play with some toys they have in a sitting area. By then his breathing was very labored and one of the more experienced nurses noticed it. We were seen a few minutes after that.

It turned out to be a pretty bad asthma attack. We did a breathing treatment and they tried to check his blood oxygen level, but he wouldn't let them. We tried to wait for him to calm down and try again, but after he got really upset, there was no turning back. He freaked at the mere sight of the doctor.

The doctor also wanted to check his ears for infection, to see if the last one went away. This poor child is cursed with very waxy ears and the doctor didn't want to clean them out while he was having trouble breathing. They did this other type of test where they send a vibration through the ear and it detects whether the ear drum moves. If it does, that means there's air behind it (good). If it doesn't, there is fluid (bad). Fortunately, that test was all clear.

At 6:30 we left the doctor's office and I had to think of something quick for him for dinner. I'm kind of ashamed to admit this, but I got him some fried shrimp and coleslaw from Long John Silver. I knew he'd love it. So.... yeah.

Charlie got to bed OK but I'm supposed to wake him up every 4 hours tonight for additional breathing treatments. I'll be honest, I haven't messed with this in the past when it's been recommended because he has seemed fine when we finally put him down and sleep seemed more important.

Tonight is different, though, and I'm going to go ahead and do it, at 11pm, 3am and 7am. His breathing is still so labored and it's scaring me. If the next breathing treatment at 11pm doesn't help at all I think I'm going to take him to the ER for some liquid steroids. He's asleep now, but still coughing a lot. Not a good sign.

In short, it's going to be a long night. Which shouldn't be a big deal, right, because I stay home now. Except I somehow need to squeeze in some work tomorrow on this new part time schedule. I am feeling quite Debbie Downer about that arrangement tonight. Burnout rearing its ugly head I suppose.

Anyways, today was a big day. But all the reasons it was big suddenly seem small compared to my baby who is having a hard time breathing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back from NYC!

I'll have to post some more photos later when I get them from my mom and sister, but we had an awesome weekend in New York! I do have a camera, but gave up trying to take pictures halfway through the weekend because baby wrangling was about all I could handle. Fortunately, Megan and my Mom took a bunch - some pretty funny ones too!

Charlie had so much fun and is exhausted. He actually slept through airport security yesterday at LGA. He stayed up late both nights but got up right on time and only napped a little. I will admit, a couple of times during the weekend I was questioning bringing him because things got pretty challenging. But his grandparents and aunts are soooo good with him, there is no way he couldn't come. And everyone helped out with him, especially my parents.

Can I just say Brad got us the Hook Up at Le Parker Meridien this weekend. They gave us this big suite on the 38th floor and my parents got a Junior Suite. It's like they knew we needed the extra space for a crib and a divider so Charlie couldn't see us in the other part of the room. He stayed in our room Friday night and my parent's room Saturday. And the birthday girl got a lovely Central Park view from her room.

The hotel itself was SWEET, right next to the park and all the swank shopping. Not that the swank shopping was what we were looking for - the purchases for the weekend included some H&M and an I heart NYC t-shirt Aunt Megan bought Charlie on the street. Have to get a picture of him in it - so cute.

We walked in the park both days, which Charlie loves for its many dogs, musicians, ducks and slides. And we were just removed enough from the crazy crowds of Times Square, which frankly stresses me out. The weather was perfect - even chilly on Saturday morning. I don't remember the last time I would describe myself as chilly outside of an office building.
Also exciting, sort of: A bunch of U.S. Open players, coaches, etc. were staying at our hotel. I was hoping to see one of the few I would recognize, but didn't. I immediately texted Clare and wished she could have been there, though we wouldn't have seen her the rest of the weekend. She'd be getting photos and talking to every player she could locate!

My mom had the only major player sighting of the weekend (we think) - she saw Gael Monfils in the elevator with a huge tennis bag and asked him if he was going to the tennis tournament. He told her yes, actually he is playing in the tournament. Makes sense seeing as he's huge and was carrying about 20 rackets in his bag.

We took Charlie to FAO Schwarz on Saturday morning with my Dad and it will probably be the last time we go there without him really wanting to buy something. He carried around a bouncy ball for a lot of the visit, but dropped it when he saw this:
The giant piano. For $750K it could be ours. The kid next to Charlie was very unsure of what to do so Charlie gave him a lesson in Breaking It Down. It took quite a bit of convincing to get him to leave.

We also had a wonderful dinner on Friday night that my parents took us out to at a nearby restaurant, Vice Versa. It was perfect homemade pasta and we had some really delicious wine. You just don't realize how crappy the pasta is you eat the rest of the time until you have the real stuff. It was so good.

One strange thing - Vice Versa has NO high chairs. I realize I live in a toddler bubble, but really - not a one?? Both the host and our waitress gave us a tired 'Oh Crap' look when we walked in and got seated. Charlie did pretty well, but both my mom and Brad took him outside to walk around for a bit during dinner. He loved his pasta and ice cream - ate every bite. So much so that he gave everyone, including one of the servers a kiss on the way out.

Saturday night was Meredith's party at her friends' apartment building downtown. It was a really nice building, apparently Chase Crawford from Gossip Girl lives there! Didn't see him, though. The food my mom ordered was awesome and was all delivered without a hitch. Lots of drinks (eek) and dancing and fun. It was a really great party and Meredith seemed so happy. Her friends are all so sweet. They made her a DVD slideshow and scrapbook for her birthday and she got all choked up.

Charlie did pretty well at the party but this is a NYC apartment, so lots of people in a small space. He handled it OK at first and then melted. Brad was finishing up his fantasy football draft at the hotel, but my dad helped me with Charlie out in the hall where he ran around and left a giant trail of cupcake crumbs all around the floor. By the time he calmed down the party moved to the rooftop where there was more space.

Once we got up there, Charlie was a holy terror. Running all over the place tipping over the outdoor tables, climbing on anything he could find, going through the beer cooler. Brad was there by then and we were both going crazy!

As it got later, my parents so nicely took Charlie back to our hotel to play and go to bed. It was a such a treat to get to stay out with my sisters as late as I wanted. Something I definitely used to take for granted. Stayed out a little too late and drank just a little too much. I am now in the era of the 2 day hangover. Ouch! Brad went back earlier - obviously much smarter then me.

The next morning my parents took Charlie to breakfast and Brad and I got to sleep in and have breakfast on our own. Which we of course spent talking about Charlie. The conversation when we woke up went a little something like this:

Brad: Morning baby

Kara: I need greasy food immediately

I found this grease in the form of huevos rancheros. Which was really more of a spicy frittata on top of a cheese quesadilla. But hey, whatever.

We met up with my parents for another stroll around Central Park, then a nap, shower and it was time to go. I felt sad going to the airport. It was so much fun and we've been looking forward to it for so long. It was like the day after Christmas as a kid.

Flights coming and going were miraculously on time. The car service we used was pretty good and cheap. Charlie did pretty well on the plane and went to bed early last night. Poor Brad had to get up this AM at 5:15 and get on another plane. We have lots going on this week to keep us busy around here, but that's another post.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Mush from my brain I can't find a blog post home for:

We read the book Doggies, by Sandra Boynton, almost every night before bed. Zoe typically lays on the floor in the nursery while we read. When I get to the 7th or 8th page of barking in the book, Zoe has started to contribute. The first night she did a soft howl. The next couple of nights she's made poodle talking noises. Pretty soon I should be able to let her take over for me at reading time. Charlie will be thrilled.

New Charlie words from the past couple of weeks include Peas (please), puppies and book. We cannot, however, get him to say fan. He points at ceiling fans all the time and says DOH. or DUH. Something like that. No amount of coaching will change this to FAN. He can say two syllable words, but will not say fan. Perhaps in a year or so, he can explain what he was holding out for.

Just got Charlie's new shoes in the mail tonight. I think it was more exciting then getting my own shoes in the mail. I got him some little tan Pediped sneakers and they are soooo cute! The web site doesn't do them justice. I just love that brand. I checked out See Kai Run again too but all their non-sandals have kind of a bowling shoe feel to them. Couldn't do it.

You'll all be relieved to know that I no longer look like the undead in the olive green dress I bought for my sister's birthday party. Stinks being pale, but yay for tan in a can.

We're going against the grain and getting rid of cable. A couple of times last week when Brad was home we tried to find something to watch. After scanning 300 plus stations and finding nothing of interest, we decided to pull the plug. I will officially be Very Boring to talk to very soon. I am, however, getting my own Netflix account so I can watch something other then old episodes of Lost and Dexter.

Have you heard of a Brazilian Blowout? Or the Keratin hair smoothing treatment? Well, some of you do because you're the ones who told me about it. I realize I live under a rock, but I just heard about it (or actually listened about it) and I'm so intrigued.

You go get this treatment and then your hair looks smooth and straight and perfect - no flat ironing. My hair is so course since having Charlie (thanks kid) and pretty much always looks like crap. Leave it to me to start craving expensive hair treatments once I quit my job. I'm on the hunt for a maybe not quite as good home version. Anyone know?

Brad has taught me this really neat online shopping tip that I must share. You can google whatever store you are shopping at and + 'coupons' or 'free shipping'. There are these web sites that keep coupon codes posted that you can use and then click a button to let the site operators know if the code still works.

I got free shipping from Hanna Andersson and Pedipeds and 15% off my order on JC Penney. I get regular emails from all these sites and never received these codes. They were random codes, too - the one for Pedipeds was 'totsnob'. The site http://www.retailmenot.com/ has a lot of them.

Friends, my Words With Friends app on my phone is being a big sensitive jerk the past 2 days. I must have hurt its feelings. Hopefully we can kiss and make up soon. Sorry for the slow response times.

That's it! ..... I think.

Schedule Changes

I've been trying to figure out what our days are going to look like next week after my "last day."

That phrase is in quotes because I'm now going to be technically working after the 31st. They haven't hired a replacement for me yet so I've agreed to work part time, from home, when I can squeeze it in, so they have a little extra help. It is temporary until they hire.

I'm not even going to tell you how many hours a week I'm going to attempt to do this with no child care. It would be your final confirmation that I'm insane. And I like to keep people guessing.

I'm not going to lie, I'm apprehensive about it. I was hoping for a reprieve from trying to be Wonder Woman all the time, yet I've managed to end up in another crazy situation. I'd be an idiot to turn it down, though. When someone offers to not only cater to your needs, but pay you for it, you don't say no.

And it is only temporary. That's what I keep reminding myself. If it ends up being longer term or too stressful or both then it will be decision time again. Because that's what I've been missing in my life the past 2 years - major decisions all piled up on top of each other.

Anyways, I've been looking at all these different options of things to do during the day and I can definitely see how easy it would be to get over scheduled. There is so much to do! Story hours, gym classes, swimming lessons, Mother's Morning Out, Stroller Strides, play groups. And that's just the scheduled stuff.... that he's old enough for.

Charlie's got a lot of energy, so I want to have plenty to keep him busy. On the flip side, I don't want to be so busy I can't even run to Target if we need to. Or meet up with some friends. Or just hang out at home because it's pouring rain and we're tired. Something tells me these days are going to go by a lot faster then I think.

I got out the calendar and tried to figure out when we would fit different things in. It got so complicated that I chucked the calendar on the kitchen table and there it sits. Perhaps procrastination will make our decisions for us.

Exercising more regularly is high on the priority list so I'm definitely going to give Stroller Strides a try. In fact, I've already emailed them about a try out class. I'm kind of excited about it! My friend Karen loves it and has met some really nice moms in her classes. My main concern is that Charlie will get restless during the class. He's probably going to want to get out of his stroller and do each station with me. Baby resistance bands anyone?

Mother's Morning Out is also high on the priority list as it will be one of just a few breaks I will get during the week. I was kind of concerned we'd be too late to get in anywhere, but one church near us starts late - in October - so is just now doing registration. Another told me they would know if they have any open spots next week. I think one morning a week would be nice for him. It's 2.5-3 hours. Each parent pitches in once per session to help the teacher.

I'm not terribly picky about where we do MMO, just a nice program with nice people who do craft projects where Charlie can throw shredded paper around and bang on a tambourine at music time. I think it's going to be a whole different ball game for next fall, though, for actual preschool. A ball game with applications and waiting lists and such. It's amazing to me, especially in a town this size. But I don't make the rules.

I'm also signing Brad and Charlie up for a Romp n' Roll class on Saturday mornings. That will give me a chance to have a break and - in the interim - catch up on work. Ugh, I hate even typing that. On a Saturday! That's just wrong! Anyways, I think it will be good for them to get some one on one time. And me to get some alone time. :)

Other then that I just have a few projects on my list that I'd like to tackle. First up is getting a bunch of Charlie's old clothes to the consignment shop. Like most babies, I'm sure, he has a ton of stuff where he grew so fast, the clothes were barely worn. Many, many things from before he switched to solid foods... and after solids came along and went everywhere... well, let's just say I have a lot of great dust rags.

So anyways, that's kind of what we're going to have going on in the next couple of months - trying to figure out what to do with ourselves and hammering out a schedule. Also, attempting to not have a nervous breakdown from my part time work! It's going to be interesting. But never, ever, boring.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Spooner Goings On

Brad always coincidentally chooses the best weeks to stay at home. Or my subconscious realizes he's staying home and alerts the rest of me that I can safely get sick now. That stinkin' virus from last weekend still has me feeling a little crummy, but I'm mostly recovered.

It's been awesome having Brad around and helping with Charlie, who ended up getting another ear infection and very high fever this week. Poor thing - this is the 3rd round of antibiotics in just over a month. Can't seem to kick this infection.

Seeing as this is the third round of very strong antibiotics, I asked about tubes during our visit at the pediatrician. From what I hear (pun intended - hardy har) they are just little infection-preventing miracles.

The doctor looked surprised I asked about them, though, which confuses me. You'd think I'd asked if we could just chop off his ears to prevent further infection. He said we could discuss if this round of medicine didn't work.

Not sure if it's the medicine, the ear infection or possibly having caught my virus, but Charlie has been sleeping like a machine this week. A 5.5 hour nap when he stayed home Thursday and long periods at night. I type this at 9:15 on a Saturday morning because Charlie is still asleep. Crazy.

This weekend we are staying pretty low key, doing some yard work, trying to win the battle against weeds in our driveway. Last night we grilled out and watched some more episodes of Lost. I think we're almost done with Season 2. Tonight we have a babysitter. Wooohooo!

Also this weekend: my sister-in-law Clare heads off to UVA to start her freshman year! She's a budding interior designer and has all sorts of cute plans with her roommate for her dorm room. She promised me some pictures to post on here when it's all finished. Dorm room design has been the hot topic on some of the design blogs I read for almost a month. The ultimate challenge!

I'm finishing up my last full week of work this week. After this week I have 2 days and then I'm donezo. Well, mostly donezo. It looks like I'm going to stay on to do some part time work from home as I can squeeze it in, but we are still hammering out the details. It will be whatever I can fit in when Charlie is asleep that doesn't push me over the edge, stress-wise. It's just temporary, until they hire someone to replace me.

Next weekend we head to New York City for my sister Meredith's 30th birthday party. My parents and my sister Megan/fiance Bruce are all flying in. Brad wiped out his Starwood rewards account to get us all hotel rooms in the same hotel, including Meredith as a treat for her birthday. It will be fun to all be able to stay together and the hotel is beautiful - Le Parker Meridien. Do I have a sweet husband, or what??

The birthday bash is Saturday night at a rooftop pool where some of Meredith's friends live. We'll all be chic New Yorkers for the evening. WHAT am I going to wear?? I bought this cute dress on clearance from JCPenney of all places but it arrived and the olive green color makes me look kind of corpse-ish. I mean I know vampire pale is all fashionable and in, but it is NOT pretty in this instance. I'm going to see if some spray tan can rectify the situation.

We have other HUGE news to celebrate while we're there. Meredith's boyfriend Lucas sold his book! He is about to be a published author! Here's the announcement:

"Lucas Klauss's debut WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE, a story of boy (from an apocalypse-obsessed, atheist family) meets girl (daughter of a missionary, church-goer) and all the complications that ensue, to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, by Kate McKean at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency."

Pretty awesome, huh? The genre is young adult fiction, which has really been my favorite lately. I love how creative the stories are and I am very anxious to read his book in particular. I'll post on here when it is released so we can all go buy it! Meredith has read it and said it was awesome. Apparently, his agent and publisher agree!

Lucas also writes humor for adults. He doesn't keep up his blog anymore, but he's got 4 years worth of absolutely hilarious posts here: www.lucasklauss.com. You should check it out.

Anyways, it's going to be a great trip. Charlie's 2nd to NYC. Well, 3rd if you count in utero. This time he's old enough to take to Central Park and do some things. And Megan hasn't been to NYC since she was little, so it's mostly brand new to her. We're all really looking forward to it.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Welcome Baby Mallory!

Check out the hair on this beautiful baby:
Isn't she gorgeous?? A full head of auburn hair. In the picture captions, this baby's mother said I pay good money for this kind of color!! Isn't that always the case.

Our good friends Brent and Melissa had their long awaited baby girl on July 30. That was also Melissa's due date, which makes her about the only person I know to have the baby on the due date naturally! That's a lucky mama!

We can't wait to meet this little girl. Oh yeah, and I guess it would be cool to see her parents too. I'm all impatient now and don't want to wait until Christmas time. Road trip anyone? Charlie? Poodles?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I scream U scream

Well, after all my great plans to do stuff and get out on a date this past weekend, I ended up sick. Some kind of sore throat type thingy. I was dragging on Saturday and Sunday - pretty pathetic. We managed to make it out to dinner on Saturday to the Tavern, this place we like that's close to our house. I've figured out how to rig dinner so we can actually eat and maybe talk some, while Charlie is occupied. This has been challenging in the past because he is always into something, throwing something, breaking something, eating crayons.... you name it.

The trick is, we order his food and something for him to drink as soon as we sit down. Bonus points if we manage to squeeze in our drink order too. While Charlie is messing with his kiddie drink, lid and straw, but before he figures out how to dump it on himself and cries because he's wet, we figure out what we want to eat and order. Then it's about 10 minutes of entertaining him before his food arrives. That brings about 10 minutes of peace - enough time for our food to arrive. When it gets there, we order him a cup of vanilla ice cream. That ice cream keeps him entertained for a solid 20 minutes. I mean, he works to get every last drop of the ice cream in his mouth. He doesn't care whether we even stuck around until the end. It's not until he dumps the cup on the ground or flings it across the table that dinner is officially over.

That was also about the extent of the excitement for our weekend. We did some other things I won't bore you with. Like watch a bunch of Lost, Season 2. Go to the grocery store. Get excited about $22 worth of coupons. Ya know, lame stuff.

Also lame: we managed to pull weeds in our driveway, which is composed of gravel. And 80% covered by weeds. NEVER. Never will I own another house with a grave driveway. I thought it was like a charming Virginia thing when we bought the house. Now I realize it's a cheap cop-out by the builder.

Anyways, I thought, even though I'm not feeling great, no big deal to stand or sit still and pull weeds, right? I've now decided all you need to do is state your intention to pull weeds and half the muscles in your body will feel sore. Oh misery. And I didn't even stay out that long - Brad sent me back in to lay down after a little while. Some days I dream of a zero lot line or townhouse. Yard work is for the birds. Where can I get (and afford) a view that I don't actually have to exert any effort for? That's what I want to know.

So that was our weekend. But yay! Brad is in town this week! Working from home, which is so nice. It's just nice having him around. To talk to and commiserate with. To keep Charlie from imminent danger while I do the last 2 minutes worth of things I need to do before leaving the house for work.

Charlie started today full time in his new classroom. The teacher said sadly when I was dropping him off, "I guess Charlie is just here for a couple of weeks, huh?'. Alas. Yes. He had his now-typical separation anxiety fit when I left. I am already very tired of them and they upset me. However, it sounds like he had a good day. Here is the note on his status report:

Charlie had an excellent day! Today he was very excited to get his turn sliding the bus back and forth on our book at circle time. When asking Charlie if he could say "bus", he gave me a very long Charlie answer. Was very cute! Before you know it we'll understand everything he says. =) Sentences may just come easy for him.

Charlie does have a lot to say. He speaks in these long sentences and then expects an answer. I presume he thinks everyone knows just what he's saying.

I had my farewell happy hour for work tonight. Since Brad is in town this week, he picked Charlie up and did the night time routine. It was nice being able to stay and talk and even order nachos (!) before heading home. It was really fun. I felt like a real grown up person.

Sounds like the weather at home was kind of stormy while I was gone, though. Brad said Charlie was pretty grouchy without me here. He got fussy when they played, didn't want his dinner, got upset during his bath and was just in an all-round bad mood.

When I got home I went in to peek at him and he was actually awake and sitting up in his crib. I was so excited to go scoop him up and he was giggly and snugly with me. He wanted a little more milk and we played and looked at books for a little while and then he went back down to sleep. I think we both felt better afterwards.

No on to the rest of our week. How many days 'til Friday again?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spooner Goings On

It's been an interesting little week over here, as weeks go. Charlie's forehead bruise from Sunday has turned into a partial black eye. I need to get a close up picture. It's kinda funny!

Tomorrow is his last day in the infant room after spending half days in his new room all week. Sniff. It's kind of sad for all of us I think. He's not a baby anymore. Double sniff. The teachers in the new room are nuts about him, though - and it seems to be mutual. Plus, can't discount his happy reunion with BFF Freddie.

They said he's transitioned really well. He's even napped on the mats with the other kids - I am shocked. Like every other parent before me.

Also, apparently a lot of the kids cry when they see the infant teachers from afar during their transition. But Charlie saw his favorite teacher, Miss Debbie, through the window today while he was getting his diaper changed and waved and laughed and blew her kisses. She told me "when that happens, that's when we know [dramatic pause] they aren't babies anymore."

Unfortunately, the separation anxiety right now is at its worst of his entire life. It is so painful to go through each morning, even when I know he's going to stop crying the minute he can't see me anymore. It's just such a pained, desperate cry.

Since I'm going to be home with him more you'd think this would be a non-issue. But I do hope to have at least a little time to myself! A mother's day out, the YMCA kids play room - you know, just short periods of time. But these are new places and new people. Coupled with this phase. Like I can't already find a ton of excuses to not work out.

Wednesday afternoon I took off work and picked up Charlie for Olivia's birthday party. It was at a gym and all the kids played so hard. I know Charlie crashed early and hard that night. I love that. The sweet non-sound of an exhausted, sleeping baby. Since I was baby-wrangling on my own that day, I have no pictures, which kind of stinks.

The party favors were foil balloons and they are about the most exciting toy Charlie has ever had. He has had a blast with it - and this morning even said the word Balloon!

Brad comes home tomorrow and is home all of next week. I'm making some plans to see some friends and Monday I have a farewell happy hour with my coworkers. A happy hour I don't have to rush from to pick up Charlie! I can stay and talk with everyone - all knowing that Brad is gaining all sorts of perspective by flying solo on the night time routine!

No plans this weekend, though we're going to try and get a sitter for Saturday night and get out for a date. Not sure to where or what - need to look into that.

Also: as a follow up to my book request a few posts ago: I ordered Toddler 411. It just arrived today.

I also ended up searching Amazon for some other toddler books that have high user reviews and then reserved them at the library. I figured I could check them out and decide if I needed to own them. Strangely, the library system here doesn't carry Toddler 411.

Toddler books seems to fall in distinct categories - behavioral/discipline, activities and health/development. So sadly, no one stop shopping. But I'm going to piece some things together and see where I end up.

The books that were available for check out first:
  • The Secret Lives of Toddlers: A Parent's Guide to the Wonderful, Terrible, Fascinating Behavior of Children Ages 1 to 3. By Jana Murphy.
  • The Everything Toddler Activities Book. By Joni Levine, M.Ed.
  • The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everyday. By Meg Cox.
Have only flipped through them, so not sure yet if they are worth the trees they're made of.

I think that's all. Ok, maybe interesting was a stretch.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something new to freak out about: Plastics edition

When we were in Dallas my mom had some cute plates for Charlie's meals. They were colorful plastic, in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head. He seemed to enjoy eating off of them.

When we got back home I thought maybe I'd order him some plates of his own, realizing he would be moving from his high chair to a booster seat at the table. While I have no problem dumping chicken nuggets and ketchup on his high chair tray, I'd rather not do the same on the kitchen table.

I found some adorable plates on Amazon by a company called French Bull. They are melamine, like outdoor dishes. Right before I hit my favorite yellow button on Amazon's web site, I googled 'is melamine safe for kids'.

Lots of scary results. It reminded me of when I used to google things when I was pregnant. Scary! Bad news! I'm for sure going to keel over in 10 or fewer minutes because I've eaten off all varieties of plastic in my lifetime!

Fortunately, my hormones aren't pregnancy-wacky, so I didn't panic. For long. But there is some seriously scary stuff out there about plastics in general and melamine specifically. Apparently, melamine has been found in both U.S. manufactured dog food and baby formula made in China. Both resulted in many deaths.

These cases involved melamine added directly to a product though, as opposed to mixing it with formaldehyde to make a resin and pretty dishes! Yeah, formaldehyde. This is sounding worse and worse, isn't it?

Anyways, after spending way more time then anyone ever should before buying something on Amazon, this post was probably my favorite. Its Science for Dummies approach explained that melamine resin used in plates is very different then just adding the chemical to pet food or baby formula. If used *properly* it *shouldn't* be cause for concern.

As with every other plastic we use in daily life, it is a stable material so long as we don't apply too much heat, making the composition change and leach dangerous things into the food it is in contact with. This heat could come from your oven, microwave or dishwasher. The last two being the most likely because seriously, who puts plastic in the oven?

This would apply to any plastic container in your kitchen. I didn't realize that this was a no-no for even tupperware. Apparently, plastic containers are marked if you can heat them up. Otherwise they aren't safe to even stick in the microwave or wash on a hot cycle in the dishwasher.

So, if you don't do those things, you *should* be fine. Comforting isn't it? I hate to overreact about dumb stuff, but it's given me pause. Especially considering how often I reheat food in tupperware containers. Plus, anything that involves the word "leaching" is unsettling.

There are some alternative materials to plastics that are safer. And of course they have cult followings. And cringe-worthy price tags.

Like stainless steel. For your little army boot camp baby.

Or plates made out of rice husks. Which are a very unappetizing shade of brown.

Bamboo perhaps?

I try to be reasonable about these sorts of things and not overreact. To keep a balanced point of view. You know, right after I get everyone I know all worked up about it. That's how I have a fighting chance at looking like the SANE one!

So I'll probably go ahead and order the dishes I want and just not nuke them. I should probably be using the low heat setting on the dishwasher to save energy anyways.

However, now I'm going to be eying all the plastic in my kitchen with the same stink eye I give my non-stick cookware. But that's a post for another day.

I do have to say, I never realized before I had a kid that I'm trying to protect from Everything Dangerous in the Whole World what a toxic world it is that we live in. Kind of really very sad if you ask me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Party Weekend

Boy did the term 'party weekend' used to have a different meaning. The funny thing is, I'm still exhausted! Really too exhausted to say anything witty in this post. Just wanted to post some pics, though several of these are Facebook repeats, so please forgive.

Saturday we went to my friend Karen's 2 year old's birthday party at Monkey Joe's, which is this indoor playground with lots of bounce houses. They have a couple of little ones for the 3 and under set and Charlie had a great time and got really worn out. He even went down the big slide with Daddy. He was scared at the top and thought it was hilarious at the end.
Charlie was all decked out in a new outfit from Nana from Janie and Jack, which is having a great end of summer right now. I think Janie and Jack in the DFW area must have better stores because I never find good sale stuff at ours here. It's so tiny! Some people are scoring some finds though - daycare this morning looked like a Janie and Jack fashion show.
Nana is getting a tad out of control with all her Charlie shopping lately! I understand the temptation, though. Much like shoe shopping, shopping for a toddler is fun because everything in the designated size pretty much fits.

After playing for a while we had pizza and cake and Charlie amazed everyone with his cake eating skills. It was a Ukrops bakery cake - his favorite! Don't even try to feed Charlie cake - he will take the knife and fork and feed himself, thank you very much. He was so sticky by the time we took him home. But very worn out and went to bed early - that was a very nice gift from our hosts - thank you!
Sunday we went down the street to our friends Kathryn and Ben's house for a pool party. Our former next door neighbors/good friends, Jason, Kristen and Olivia, are in town for a few weeks from London. They represent my international blog readership now that Cookie has moved back from Switzerland. :) This is their last trip to the states before baby brother arrives in early November!

I made some Bob Armstrong dip from our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin/Dallas (Matt's) for the party. Guacamole, taco meat and queso with sour cream and pico de gallo on top. It was good but the recipe makes so much! They serve this stuff in little cups at the restaurant and here I am carrying in a 9x13 pan of it for 6 adults and 3 kids! We made a respectable dent in it.

Charlie actually loved the dip - Brad filled some smaller bowls of it with chips to put around the pool for people to eat and Charlie kept stealing them and sticking his face in to eat! That first picture in this post is him with a bowl of chips and dip at the miniature picnic table by the pool.

For all his enthusiasm to jump in the pool when we were in McKinney, Charlie was pretty low key about getting in the water yesterday. He took some time to just chill while the rest of us swimmed and talked:

We were having such a great time, we didn't want to go! We just kept finding more things to talk about - don't you love dinners like that? It was so fun. We all ate way too much and then had brownies on top of it. Can't wait for them to get back from London so we can do this all the time! Fortunately, we have a couple more get togethers planned for their trip.

Eventually I knew Charlie had reached his tired limit, though - right before we left he fell and hit his little forehead on a step. He screamed like crazy for a while - I admit, I was kinda panicked! But my two friends with older kids were there, acting like this was just toddler business as usual, so that calmed me down some. I need to toughen up - nobody said surviving toddler injuries was easy - especially for the parents!

Charlie finally started to calm down after Ben gave him a sucker he swiped from little Ben's room - who was none too happy when he found out! We had 2 upset kids there for a while. I will need to have a nice selection of suckers for Ben to choose from the next time he comes over.

That sucker is now stuck on the head of Charlie's little teddy bear that is in his crib. He refused to let me pry it from his little fist at bed time so I just let him have it. Charlie's forehead has about an 1.5 inch mark on it, which is painful to look at but doesn't seem to bother him at all. It's covered by his hair so I only faced minimal questioning at daycare about it.

Anyways, very fun weekend for us! Here's a little self portrait of Charlie and me. Make that a no-makeup, pool hair self portrait. Charlie was cooperative and didn't even try to steal the camera from me!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Toddler Food that Stinks

I managed to buy some nasty new food for Charlie to try. Complete and total misses. I must tell you about them because you can not possibly spend your hard earned money on this stuff.

Dr. Praeger's Fishies. I should have known better then to buy these because real pieces of fish do not cut well into fish shaped pieces. I'm reminded of the McDonald's chicken nugget, which is neither chicken, nor nugget. However, lumps of mushy breadcrumbs DO cut well into fish shaped pieces and that's what these are. YUCK.

Cluckphrey's Chick-a-roos. Again, I should have known better - the product name is so obnoxious! It's like the name is trying to disguise the fact this isn't real food. I actually thought this was real chicken, just baked, not fried. Well, it's not, these are vegan "nuggets" that have to put in quotes on the box. There is all manner of processed soy product up in these. The aftertaste is breathtaking. And I don't mean shirtless picture of Rob Pattinson breathtaking.

Back to Nature Macaroni and White Cheddar cheese. So gummy and nasty. Bleck. I usually get another brand, I can't remember the name, but grabbed this on the fly. That kind of thing can get you kicked off of Top Chef.

The moral of the story here is don't ask your husband to go with you to the grocery store when he hates going and rushes you. You end up buying food that is fish shaped or required by law to be put into quotation marks. Or, worst of all, bad mac n' cheese!

After I made both of these, Charlie got pizza for a replacement dinner. Otherwise I would have received a stern lecture and "serious face":
Tonight, though, I just nuked the first leftovers I could lay my hands on because I was scared the power was going to go out from these awful storms we were having. Charlie ended up eating quite a bit of ground turkey today as a result. And the power didn't go out, thank goodness!

Oh, and speaking of turkey, I've decided to go cold turkey on the bottles after I start staying home. New routine and all. So sick of those Dr. Brown's bottles and their 400 parts requiring accurate assembly or else they leak. See ya Dr. Brown, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Hmmmm, this post is just going in all sorts of directions now. What next? Anyone watch the new Say Yes to the Dress in Atlanta? I guess TLC didn't learn anything from Bravo because just like with the Housewives, Atlanta is not as fun as New York. I think this is mainly the fault of the people who work there, who are a little lacking in the personality department.

I went and read their bios online and the store manager is quoted as saying her favorite brides are those with a lot of money because they can try on a lot more dresses in the store. Nice. I guess at least she's honest if completely devoid of tact and charm.

The salespeople also use the term 'jack her up' in the oddest way there. I mean, when I've heard that term used before it's meant getting in a fight or beating someone up. So... violence. In the Atlanta store it's used when they put a bride trying on a dress in a veil, with her hair up and jewelry on. Every time they say "I'm going to jack her up" I just burst out laughing.

Well, I better go make a grocery list or something. Good news honey! Another trip to the store this weekend! Yay!

Intellectually Speaking

I have a stupid question.

I am obviously not one of those people who likes to say "there are no stupid questions." Mostly because I think I ask plenty of them!

Anyhoo. So we all know that babies have developmental phases and as they grow different things they like to do different things and play in different ways.

For instance: tiny babies love black and white patterns and then they get a little older and like pushing buttons to make music play. A short time later they like touch and feel books and then they move on to puzzles, magnets, riding toys, etc.

In another respect, there are developmental phases like asserting control, wanting to make choices, establishing independence.

I really DO have a question, I promise: How do you know at what ages all of these things typically occur? Is there a book or a blog or did I miss some user manual they handed out at the hospital? Where is it written down that "Hey, at the age of 2 they'll love stickers, want to be more independent and go ahead and give potty training a try"?

I admit, I should have been asking this question a lot earlier. I've kind of been a tad lazy because I knew I would find these things out from Charlie's daycare. They've been so helpful to a rookie mom like me. It's been comforting to hear when things are normal, the other kids do it too or some activity Charlie particularly loved that day. In just a few weeks I will be need to figure all this out on my own. So that's kind of scary.

Now, don't get me wrong - I am not trying to create a baby Einstein here or put in place some action plan for admittance into Harvard. Last night I found some books on Amazon that were definitely not what I was looking for and had titles along the lines of Neuroscience for Dummies: How to Multiply Your Child's Intelligence if You are Smart Enough to Understand Our Book.

I'm reminded of that scene in Baby Boom where Diane Keaton takes her newly adopted daughter to the sandbox and the other mothers there bring her up to speed on how she should be educating her 2 year old. They refer her to 'The Center' where one woman sent her son who could barely speak and by the end of the week he was reciting The Raven! Next thing you know, Diane Keaton is at 'The Center' showing the baby giant flash cards with Whoopi Goldberg and shrimp sushi on them.

That's a bit off topic, but that's what I'm not trying to do. Plus I really love that movie Baby Boom.

Anyways, I just want to know what's going on in Charlie's little head and what kinds of things he would find interesting. Maybe even anticipate what we have coming.

I would hate to be so clueless that I show up at a play group and Charlie goes crazy over some activity or toy and the other mothers look at me in surprise, sort of like, you really don't have those for him?? Our kids have been loving those for 6 months!

Kind of like how I was way too late with getting Charlie a bumbo chair. Once I got it, he loved it - but could only use it for a few weeks before he was too big. Mommy didn't catch on quick enough to something he would have enjoyed.

I also don't want to be that mom thinking to herself Why is Charlie being so difficult lately? And find out at a later date that it was a totally natural phase and I should have been responding to it in a perfectly logical but non-obvious way.

Because let's face it: I've already been the mom that showed up at the 12 month doctor appointment saying Oh really? We should have been getting him off bottles for the past couple months?

I've also already been the mom that kept sending cereal and purees to school with Charlie long after the other kids his age were working on more solid food - for no other reason then I didn't realize it was time to switch.

Nothing like a good 'Duh' moment.

I guess I get so busy in the minutia that I don't always back up and take a look at the big picture. In this case, the big picture is the gradual flow of phases that comprise growing up. And like just about every other analytical thinker of my generation, I want information I can break down and understand. Directions, checklists, a flow chart. You know, the typical tools leveraged by a visual learner who likes to over think things. No big thing!

So someone please tell me: where do I get this? Where are we reading about this kind of stuff? What to Expect if You have Time to Read This Book? MomsWhoHaveitTogether.blogspot.com? Help!

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Things

Even though Charlie is leaving daycare in about a month, his teachers decided to go ahead and transition him into the next room up, since that is where all his friends are. Specifically, it's where BFF Freddie is. The reactions Charlie and Freddie have when they see each other are so strong it makes me a little sad their visits will be infrequent soon. I haven't worked up the guts yet to email his mom with the news. Arg.

Anyways, they told me this morning that Charlie was going to spend some time in the other room today to see how he'd adjust. So I took him over there and he walked in like he owned the place. He was excited to see Freddie and a couple of the other kids, to check out all the different toys they have over there and to try out the toddler sized arm chairs and sofa. After talking to the teachers some, I waved bye and left.

Apparently it all went well until nap time. I had a feeling Charlie wasn't going to do too well sleeping on a mat with so many distractions around him. Since he talks non-stop, he did that from the mat. And then talking turned to happy screaming. Which turned to unhappy screaming. Finally they brought him back over to the infant room because he was making it impossible for the other children to nap. That's my boy!

After Charlie was taken back to the other room Freddie got upset. So upset that they let him skip the rest of his nap and go over to the infant room to play with Charlie. He stayed the whole afternoon and went back just in time for his mom to pick him up. BFFs reunited. So sweet. Never mind the part where my child destroyed nap time for 6 to 8 children today.

In addition to the changes at daycare, we're seeing a lot of changes in Charlie at home. His vocabulary continues to explode - it's like he watches everything trying to figure out what to call it.

New words include yuck, shoe, bobo (our dog), mop, bubbles, bath and hi. I forget the others, I'll have to have Brad remind me. There is also a lot of blabber that I'm sure means something, I just can't figure it out yet.

Strangely, Charlie hasn't said 'fan' yet. He loves ceiling fans and watches them all the time, but when he points to them he says DOH. Like a Homer Simpson style doh! I can't not for the life of me figure that one out.

In other developments, Charlie also loves to let out a deep satisfied sigh whenever he drinks something (ahhhhhh) and make Mmmmmm noises when he eats. Both of those are compliments of Nana.

What's inside the kitchen cabinets no longer holds Charlie's interest - he wants what's on top of the counters. And he's just tall enough to reach them, which is pretty scary. Sometimes, though, it's just really funny. Like when we were in Texas my dad put down the can opener after using it and turned around. When he turned back around to grab the can opener again, it was gone. There was Charlie, on the other side of the living room, walking away with the can opener!

I do, however, have to be very careful where I put knives and breakables on the counter. Charlie is fascinated by the knives, probably because I've reacted so strongly when he's gotten close to them in the past. When I hold him in the kitchen, he inevitably reaches for the knife block. He's also starting to notice the pots on their burners and reaching for those. I'm trying to keep my reaction in check, though, when he gravitates towards the range, so he won't find them too appealing.

Riding in his stroller or in a shopping cart is no longer acceptable - he wants to walk everywhere. Unfortunately that means going all over the place and pretty much ignoring us as we try and herd him down the correct aisles and towards checkout. I do enjoy him walking more, though - he's getting so heavy and my back is still messed up from being pregnant.

It's going to be interesting keeping him busy once I'm home with him full time, that is for sure. I'm sure Charlie will tell me all about my performance, though, and whether it's meeting his high expectations!

Lazy Sunday Cooking

I love lazy Sunday afternoons. Our whole weekend was pretty much a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was cooler and overcast this weekend, perfect napping weather. And that was pretty much all Charlie did - sleep. He slept late both mornings and took 4 hour naps both days. It was incredible. I actually didn't know what to do with myself part of the time. My life is so pointless when not running interference between Charlie and the most dangerous things in the room!

When Charlie naps in the afternoon, I love to hole up in the kitchen and cook. This is especially enjoyable in the fall and winter when it's cooler out - just feels so cozy to be inside cooking. Our kitchen looks out over the backyard, which is wooded and very peaceful. The backyard actually talked me into buying this house when the banged up floors, brass fixtures and Pink Everywhere were screaming at me to move on. I saw the view out the back and thought, OK this is doable.

I love to cook but typically don't have much free time or energy to devote to it anymore. However, I've been making time because we've been trying to eat at home more and at restaurants less, both from a calorie and cost perspective. I've got to have quick things to make, though, so lately I've been on the hunt for those 30 minutes or less type recipes. Feels kind of lame, as I used to love a nice long recipe where I could learn something new, but I have found a few winners and recipes worth repeating out of the quick recipes.

I found a copy of the cookbook version of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine at Homegoods and have been using that a lot. It's broken up by season, which I love, because I've been trying to focus on cooking in-season food. Martha also has a handy iPhone app, which sends out a daily recipe and has a search function for her other recipes, including the ones in the book. Nice for when you get to the store and can't remember what to get.

I've also been using a site called No Takeout, which has sent out some really yummy recipes. There's a daily email subscription and an online archive of previous recipes available. All recipes take 30 minutes or less of prep time and even suggest a wine to pair with the dinner. I mean, you don't have to tell me twice to pair wine with dinner. They also follow the "Meatless Mondays" approach to eating, where you skip meat one day a week. I like that.

Cooking Light and Real Simple magazines also send out free daily emails focused on quick, simple dinners. As my friend Cookie once said, the Cooking Light recipes are awesome if you just add a little bit more butter and cheese. So true! I find the recipes from both these sites to be on the bland side, but every once in a while they have a good one. Just have your salt, butter, cheese, red pepper, etc. ready to kick them up.

For a while I was trying to find toddler-friendly recipe web sites and books but found that, for the most part, they are barely modified versions of normal recipes. The reviews on Amazon were pretty harsh for just about all of the books I found. I've since ditched that approach and just feed Charlie what we're having, making it plain or less spicy for him since his developing palate seems more delicate. He's loved Martha's turkey meatballs with pasta and turkey sloppy joes so far.

If any of you have any other cookbook/web site suggestions for quick cooking, I'd love to hear about them. Always looking for new ideas!

Another problem I'd love to find a solution for: I find summer cooking to be very boring. I love all the produce out there, but it's too hot out to have the stove or oven on and we grill a lot, which gets boring. During the week when Brad is gone I eat things that don't require cooking. It's very unexciting to me. What to do?

The cooler weather this weekend - and by cool I mean 80! - got me daydreaming of cool, crisp fall weather and my favorite things to cook: bean soup, ham biscuits, apple crisp, beef stew, chili, ginger cookies, pumpkin everything. Ahhhh summer, go away.