Monday, June 28, 2010

Breakfast with Charlie

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Charlie at the Fountains

We went up to Stony Point for dinner at Champps (why does it have 2 p's??) Friday night. Afterwards we walked down to the fountains where a lot of kids like to play. I thought Charlie would be scared and we'd leave after a few minutes. Instead he loved it!

By the way, if we aren't related, this may seems like a very long 2.5 minutes to you. No hard feelings if you bail, ok??

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Stuff Going On

I just have not known what to blog about lately. In fact, I barely know what to blog about tonight because I am so tired. Brad gets up at 5am on Mondays and I usually get up too, start getting ready for the day. I don't even have to finish writing this post to know it will be neither witty nor interesting. Blah blah blah sleepy tired snore.

So what's been going on with us?

We're going to Dallas next week for 2 weeks to visit my family - and give my mom (Nana) lots of time with 'her Charlie'! Luckily I can work out of our Plano office so being there doesn't require taking vacation time. I feel guilty leaving the dogs, though.

Since Brad is currently in Dallas for work, there may even be a date night or two in store for us. And my sister Megan and her fiance Bruce are having an engagement party while we're there and we're going to do some wedding gown and bridesmaid dress shopping. Fun!

So an airline flight with a 16 month old.... yeah. When I booked the flights I didn't give it too much thought, other then Charlie needs his own seat because I'm flying alone with him. He is 24 pounds and so squirmy, there is just no way we could make it in the same seat for 3 hours.

About a week ago I started thinking through the logistics. Baby, stroller, stuff, heavy car seat - all lugged by moi through the airport. And then visualizing trying to get the car seat on the plane, installed, while keeping a hold of Charlie, my purse, the diaper bag, etc. Eeek.

I found this thing called a CARES harness strap that is approved by the FAA for kids on flights in place of a car seat. Rented it on eBay actually since it's a bit pricey when I don't know whether Charlie will hate it or not. You attach the straps to the seat and then snap the child in - kind of like a car seat without the seat.

I have no idea if this is a good idea or if Charlie will scream bloody murder for the entire flight. Stay tuned! It's sufficiently worrisome that Brad has now offered to wait until mid-week to leave for Dallas for work so he can fly with us. He hasn't seen the coach cabin in quite some time, so he'll be slumming it!

I think for back up we may get a portable DVD player to try and distract Charlie on the flight in case he gets fidgety. He'll be in the window seat and unable to grab the flight attendant's rear end like he did in December. How boring! As a last resort, I plan to keep my credit card in my back pocket in case I need an emergency glass of wine. Liquid sanity.

Until we leave on the trip next week we are just going through our normal routine - with one exception: playing hooky from work on Thursday afternoon to go see Eclipse with Karen! Not sure how crowded an early afternoon show will be the day after it's opening but I'm trying to think of our fellow viewers not as screaming teenyboppers, but fellow hot guy enthusiasts!

As for Charlie updates, he added a new word - Bye Bye! Actually it sounds more like Buh-bye, like we all said to each other 10 years ago. He's also started pointing out body parts - ears, nose, foot, belly, tongue. He giggles afterwards because he's pretty sure he's hilarious.

Charlie's other new trick is climbing on top of things - furniture, tables, our ottoman. I picked him up at daycare today and the teachers told me he scared them to death by climbing up on the rocking chair and standing up! This child has no fear. This mother has no shortage of ice packs and band-aids. I'm going to need them.

OK time for sleep now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day/My Birthday

Have you ever heard the saying "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans"? Or is it just me who's watched entirely too many Woody Allen movies?

That's kind of how Father's Day and my birthday went down around here. I had such lofty aspirations of picturesque family fun. However, the day ended with Brad telling me he realized turning 34 probably did not make my list of top 10 birthdays. That was kind of sweet. Other then walking into the day with fairly unrealistic expectations, I just hadn't given it a second thought!

The morning started off with Brad announcing he needed to go to the doctor because he was pretty certain he was sick. Sure enough, bronchitis. Prescriptions for a Z pack and an inhaler. So he was out for the count and any plans for the day that included leaving the house were out of the question.

Side note: Later in the day, when I called my dad to wish him a happy father's day he asked "who gets bronchitis in June?" Ummm Bradford! And probably one day Charlie. They share the same asthma/allergies/lungcrap.

But - did I mention that morning there were also Sister Schubert's cinnamon rolls? And coffee we bought from our favorite coffee shop in Silver Spring the weekend before? Little things... focus on the little things.

A few hours later Aunt Flo showed up in a mighty tirade, determined that I pay attention to no gifts but hers. That was fun with a sick husband and rambunctious (boisterous!) toddler. Oh and many apologies if that's TMI, but it was an integral part of the day.

When Brad got back from the doctor, I had some fun opening gifts from my family. They always know what to get me. It was hard not ripping open the boxes as soon as they arrived in the mail.

Also fun: giving Brad his Father's Day gift that Charlie lovingly picked out at Tommy Bahama and paid for with his saved-up allowance. Ok, yeah, that last part's a lie. But presents are fun and we had a good time opening them.

To help him cope with an unfair Father's day illness, Brad needed to spend the rest of the day watching the World Cup. By the end of it, if someone had handed me a vuvuzela, I probably would have broken the television with it. That sound! So grating!

Side note: Am I the only one for whom this might as well be the very first World Cup to occur ever? I don't recall it ever happening before but now it's like everyone is obsessed with it.

I had already decided I would make dinner that night and settled on this incredible Tagliatelle Bolognese recipe in one of my Italian cookbooks. It's really more of a cold weather dish, but I wanted something authentic to go with the wine we brought home from Italy 2 years ago.

It was... OK. Didn't taste as great as I remembered. I may have just been so sick of smelling it cook (takes about 3 hours of simmering) that it was destined for mediocrity.

I also made a little appetizer of toast rounds with prosciutto, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar. They would have been awesome if Zoe hadn't eaten them when we turned away for 15 seconds.

Dessert was non-existent since I didn't realize homemade ice cream takes about 15 hours to make when you account for all the freezing that has to go on of the machine, the ingredients and then the final product. Consider that a word of warning to all of you planning picturesque family ice cream events this summer.

The wine, however, did not disappoint. So. Good. A highlight of the day. If I'd been thinking of it, and there was an actual way to do it, I could have just stuck a candle in that!

We watched Avatar that evening, which I've been wanting to see. Correction: we watched Avatar after I gave Brad a very scary look when he tried to turn the TV from the World Cup to the U.S. Open. Sharing Father's Day with your wife's birthday kind of stinks like that. Anyways, the movie was good. It was like watching an on-screen version of my very weirdest pregnancy dreams.

So that was kind of our day. There was also some laundry and Brad got packed for the next week out of town. Made some phone calls. Wrangled a rather grouchy Charlie. Tried to take some pictures...

As part of my unrealistic expectations, the wannabe amateur photographer/mommy blogger in me was hoping for some heartwarming shots of father and son on Father's Day.

Instead I got a bunch of photos that look sorta like this:
A blurry hissy fit. Charlie was just not in the mood for photos. His Dad is #1 but also very heartless and uncaring for taking things away from Charlie that he wants like sharp objects and household toxins. Now we must cry and be uncooperative whenever Mommy picks up the camera. Bad parents. Bad.

After rolling with the punches all day, I laid in bed that night thinking about it all and then just felt so grateful that my biggest worries are so trivial. Everyone is healthy, we were all together, we had a nice day. I'm fortunate my biggest frustration was my dog eating my much anticipated appetizer. The blog isn't named Bad Poodles for nothing.

It is the other 364 days a year that make up what is special in your life. It's awesome to have a day like your birthday to sit there and dwell on it, but real life is going to do what it's going to do. Some ups and some downs. The day was great reminder to just go with the flow and enjoy what comes - something I wouldn't necessarily write down as a strength of mine. I have to work at that kind of thing.

Most of all - Happy belated Father's Day to an amazing dad to our little boy. :) Sorry you had to share your day with bronchitis, aunt flo and very little of the U.S. Open. We'll make it up to you next year!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Failing at Photography... Again

This post is like a sequel to my fessing up last fall that I had no professional photos of Charlie and never sent out a baby announcement. BAD MOMMY.

Since then we have had a professional photo taken.... if you consider a picture with Santa 'professional'. Oh! Or the one taken when Charlie screamed his way through his first haircut! TWO professional photos. I'm sure the teenagers responsible for those photos would be flattered to be referred to as professionals.

So anyways, yesterday at daycare drop off they told me they needed a family photo from me for this 'family tree' they have up on the wall. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I went and looked in iPhoto and the last family shot we have in there was... it kind of hurts to admit this... Christmas.

That's right. No family photo for Charlie's first birthday. Or Easter or our trip to Pinehurst. Nada. Nothing. Not even a bad photo.

Why hello Guilt! Good to see you again! How is the list of ways I am failing my child coming along??

Seriously, doesn't it seem like mommy photography is some serious business? There are such nice cameras available and the photos on a lot of blogs are near-professional quality. I have this little camera that seems to take nothing but blurry photos. BAD MOMMY.

So back to my dilemma. After coming to terms with the limitations of my iPhoto album, I started pilfering my friends' online albums. I came up with a couple of lovely family photo options (i.e. photos that have the 3 of us in the same frame), compliments of Leslie and Lakshmy:
The sound you hear is Brad gasping that I would post such a bad photo of him on the blog. But I look pretty bad too.

So yeah, decisions, decisions. Is it better to have a family photo where you can't see the parents or the baby is looking away?

Either, because who cares, it's getting slapped up on a paper tree at daycare?

Exactly. I'm going to go with that.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Charlottesville

Charlottesville is so cute. Have you been? If not, you really should go. It's just an hour west of Richmond, where Virginia starts to get hilly as you get closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town is so quaint and pretty.

We went and walked around the downtown shopping area and there were so many cute shops, restaurants and antique stores. I could just keep using the word cute and it still wouldn't adequately describe all the cuteness. I want to go back to do my Christmas shopping later this year.
After we got tired of walking around in the heat, we headed over to this South African pub, Shebeen, that was showing the World Cup. I'd never had South African food and Brad wanted to watch the 2pm game and have a beer.

Now I have to visit South Africa because the food was SO good! I had a really good South African wine, too - a Neil Ellis Sincerely 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. And it was sincere. Which is good because I hate disingenuous wine.

We had this spicy chicken and some lamb samosas. Think almost like jerk chicken like spices on everything and then mango chutney served with it. Spicy and tropical. Even Charlie's chicken tenders were pretty tasty.

They seated us in front of this giant television showing the game. There was one commercial with these dancing African animals that Charlie loved. Starts off with some monkeys, then giraffes and elephants - mesmerizing. He watched a little of the soccer, ate his chicken and then wanted out of his chair. He spent the rest of the time walking around the pub meeting everyone, making sure all were aware that he is Charlie and he can walk and has lots to say.

We drove home and all attempted to nap but the lowest common denominator decided napping was not on his agenda. What else is new.

It was a nice day. Nice to get out and do something different. The heat really zapped us, though. Even if you don't do much in it, you're just so tired after being out in it, you know? The rest of the evening we were pretty much slugs.

It's going to be another scorcher today, so there's going to be a lot more staying indoors and we may even attempt some homemade ice cream if we can figure out the machine. That's a big IF when I'm is involved.

What We've Been Up To

Brad's been working from home this week, which is why I haven't blogged since Monday. It's the first time he's been able to work from home since February. I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to have him around during the week.

We've cooked dinner each night, played with Charlie and watched DVD's of Lost and Dexter from Netflix. It's been so nice, though it makes me a little sad, wishing it could be like this more often. It's not meant to be right now, though, so I'm trying not to think about it like that too much.

Charlie's been having a bit of a vocabulary explosion recently. Out of the blue he started saying Uh Oh! in the car on the way to DC last weekend. Apple and ball soon followed. With Brad home this week he's been saying Daddy almost constantly. There's some hybrid between Yes and This, when he wants you to read a certain book or play with a certain toy. Seems like there have been a few others, but I'm blanking right now.

They started 'summer camp' at daycare this week and it sounds so fun, I wish I could go! Tuesday the ice cream truck came and Charlie had an ice cream sandwich, which he loved. Wednesday they played in the water for Splash Day and Thursday they did a bunch of things outdoors. A beekeeper came and talked to each classroom about what he does. The note on the sheet said Charlie was 'quite boisterous' while the beekeeper was talking. Friday they had a bounce house, but Charlie missed it because we were at the pediatrician.

Yeah, so, in less fun, boisterous news, Charlie big toe has gotten infected. This would be the toe he dropped the bottle on last weekend. It isn't too bad, but he did have to go on antibiotics and has to soak his foot twice a day for 20 minutes. There is no way we could get Charlie to just put his foot in some water so we put all of Charlie in the tub for a long bath. He's going to have some dry skin by the time this heals up.

Since Brad has been in town, we aren't walking into the weekend totally behind with 50 things to do so we're actually going to do something fun today. After Charlie gets up from his nap we are going to drive out to Charlottesville to check things out. I've never been, even after living here more then 3 years. It's only about an hour away.

We're going to check out the UVA campus, walk around the downtown area and probably grab some dinner somewhere casual. It's supposed to be very hot today, so we're going to play it by ear.

There are a lot of places I'd love to check out that aren't too far from our house. I've kind of made a resolution to myself to be a tourist in our own area more often. It is kind of pathetic how few notable places we have visited in 3 1/2 years. I think we've gotten a rut.

Tomorrow for my birthday/Father's Day we will probably keep it low key, especially since Brad will fly out again early Monday morning. My in-laws got me a comfort food cookbook for my birthday and I think I may make the Shepard's pie (one of Brad's favs) or the beef short ribs with polenta - something hearty like that. It's definitely a special occasion cookbook. Lotso butter, red meat, etc. in there.

We have an incredible bottle of wine we brought during our Italy trip that I think we're finally going to open, given the dual special occasion. The Casanoval di Neri Brunello. It was a splurge after visiting a wine bar in Montalcino. My goal is to cook something that will make the wine taste incredible. Brent and Melissa - we will be thinking of you when we open it!

Happy weekend everyone!

SATC2

I finally saw the new Sex and the City movie. You know, that movie you saw and talked about with your friends at least a month ago? Takes a bit longer to make it to the movies when you live on central standard insanity time.

I went with my friend Karen after our sweet husbands took baby duty. We got a huge thing of buttered popcorn and two 47 ounce 'Medium' diet cokes. If you're going to do it up, do it up right.

This movie is really for people who loved the show and is all about clothes and flash. It was pretty fun to watch, especially with a friend who also loved the TV series. Karen pointed out that the movie felt like several episodes strung together. I think she's right.

**What I write below has what I hesitate to call spoilers in it. Spoilers are for movies with an actual plot.

When the TV show started, all of the women were struggling. They struggled with jobs, with men, with their aging bodies, with money. They were relatable. Well, sort of.

Now they have achieved success, married rich men, come to live in huge, unaffordable dwellings and make comments like 'what do mothers without full time help do?'.

The writers can go ahead and throw out some high fives because I think they achieved their mission - I spent the whole movie wishing I lived in this alternate reality! In addition to the fabulous clothes and shoes, everything just works out so dang perfectly.
  • You can kiss another man and 2 days later your husband buys you a giant rare diamond
  • This husband is a stockbroker who is completely unaffected by the terrible market and can still buy a gigantic apartment to fill with custom furniture and drapes
  • You can eat out or bring in take out every single night and never break 110 lbs.
  • As a stay at home mom, you wear vintage cream-colored Valentino to bake cupcakes in with your daughters until your full-time nanny arrives to help out.
  • You stay at home because your husband must be the world's most successful divorce attorney, while still managing to spend lots of QT with the fam!
  • You are a one-person PR shop, so logically work in a huge glass office overlooking Times Square. I guess MTV has cancelled TRL and rented out the excess space.
  • Your neuroses and self-obsession are mistaken for charm and originality by the men in your life. It's not that you're a headcase! You are just not like any other woman!
A couple of things that disappointed me? That Aiden would stoop to kissing Carrie when part of what made him so hard to let go of was his strong character. He was supposed to be the good guy.

And Charlotte (my former favorite character) was so annoying. It reminded me of what the writers did with Monica in the middle of Friends - they take the quirks in her personality and make them her defining characteristics. Somehow, after having drinks with Miranda, she turned her back into her normal self.

Also, I have to say, Carrie is the most annoying wife. The man worked hard all day, let him watch some TV and eat some take out noodles. Her constant need to be the center of attention would be very tiring to be married to. Heck, it was tiring to watch. And here she was supposed to be the most low-key of the four.

The outfits were the absolute best, though. We spent the movie trying to decide what our most and least favorites were. It was exciting every time they had a costume change. It's for shallow reasons such as this that you go to bad movies.

Which is exactly why we are already making plans to go see Eclipse when it comes out. Instead of gawking at designer outfits, we'll be gawking at hot, shirtless men. And you know I'll be blogging about that!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Boy Named Kash

Do you think these two are going to cause some trouble one day? Their first picture together and I'm already pretty sure I don't ever want to lend them my car keys. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what trouble looks like. And I didn't even realize it until I downloaded the pictures.

Aren't their outfits cute? Lakshmy and I picked them out on Saturday at Kohls when we were shopping. I love shopping for Charlie. Things in the designated size always fit and look good. Very much unlike shopping for myself. These may not be the last matching outfits they wear... best to take advantage of it while we can....

We had loads of fun meeting Kash this weekend. He is SO SWEET. Watching everything with the most beautiful brown eyes you've ever seen. Sweet baby noises and smells (most of them good :) ) and tiny hands and feet. Kind of made me want another immediately.

Aaaand kind of made me not want another immediately. Having 2 very small kids in the same house was a bit of a handful - and there were 4 of us on duty. One of them was almost always awake and in need of something.

Unsure of his surroundings, Charlie woke up at 5:45 am Saturday morning and was ready to be up for the day. Kash of course is on a typical 3 month old's schedule; he will wake and sleep as he pleases... And the rest of the time, please walk me around the house. But he is sleeping very well for a 3 month old - several hours at night and some naps during the day.

Anyways, we were all awake by 7am Saturday and Brad and Mike agreed that before kids they would never be awake at that hour on Saturday if a tee time wasn't involved... or they were shooting something.

This weekend was about strong coffee, some cocktails, really good food, rotating baby naps and 4 rather bleary eyed parents making conversation and running zone defense on Charlie. That kid was everywhere and into everything. He did a lot of walking.... and a lot of pulling things down...

Saturday night he finally found Aunt Lucky and Uncle Mike's wine rack and managed to pull a nice heavy bottle of champagne on his big toe. Poor kid - his toe is still purple. I have a feeling we have lots of bruises in our future because of his inquisitiveness. And Lakshmy and Mike got a good preview of what Kash will most likely go after once he's mobile.

Between being tired, unsure of his surroundings and his bruised toe, there was a lot of loud crying from Charlie. Kash did a great job of mostly sleeping through it, even though some of the screams had to have woken the dead. It's hard because Charlie isn't old enough to understand when he needs to be quiet. I'm not sure he even understands the concept of quiet.

While Kash napped, Charlie managed to recruit a very devoted follower - Bogey the cocker spaniel. Between the attention and the steady supply of dropped pretzels, Bogey was certain this was a human worth paying attention to. There was a lot of love. Charlie's got a thing for dogs, and doesn't let the fact he's seducing them with dropped food take away from his perception of mutual admiration.
When Kash was awake he was just so good. He would sit in his vibrating chair or lay on his play mat and just give the sweetest little smiles. He is just figuring out how to smile and is ramping up for full-on heart melting. I know he had mine with just the slightest little grin.

At one point on Saturday afternoon, Charlie was crawling all around doing his typical loud baby banter and all of the sudden Kash starts making noises and trying to talk from his perch on Lakshmy's lap! It was PRECIOUS! He had to be included and had things to tell us. I think he also wanted Charlie to pay attention to him. I rushed to get my flip camera but naturally couldn't get it in time. Wish I could glue that thing to my hand so it's always at the ready.

Kash studied Charlie a lot when he was awake - he reminds me of Charlie at that age in that way. Content to watch right now but anxious to join in. When they are both walking we are only going to be able to visit if it happens in a padded cell where they can't get at anything. Two very curious boys.

It was an awesome weekend getting to meet such a beautiful, precious baby boy. I can't wait to see him again. Oh. And his parents too! Ha! Yes, Lakshmy who reminds me so much of myself after having a baby... cleaning the house and cooking breakfast for house guests, even though nobody expects it because you just had a baby. But that's what you DO. That's what being type A is all about. Clean floors and a killer quiche. Thanks for having us Mahons!
Kash with his beautiful mother -
And a parting shot of Charlie with a TGI Fridays frozen quesadilla roll stuffed in his mouth for continued enjoyment -

Thursday, June 10, 2010

15 Month Update

We had Charlie's 15 month well visit this morning and it went really well. Nothing of concern and developmentally he is right on track.

He was extremely suspicious of being checked out, but tolerated having the stethoscope on his back and chest. Then he screamed his little head off when he had to be held down so she could look in his eyes, ears and throat. Then got cheerful again up until his shots, when he screamed again. He was pooped by the time we left and screamed when Freddie tried to take his toy at daycare. Hopefully the ravioli I packed him for lunch will cheer him up.

Here are the stats:

Height: 31.5 inches (55th percentile)
Weight: 23 lbs, 10z (35th percentile)

He dropped in both percentiles, which the doctor said is normal when the kiddos start to walk. I was a little surprised, though, considering how much Charlie eats. I mean that kid can pack it away. He also drinks a lot of milk. But hey, I guess that's what he needs to keep moving all the time.

I asked about the bottles and she said to try and get him down to 1 in the evening. Arg, I am still trying to get him from 4 to 3. I think I'm going to cut out his bottle when he first gets up and see how that goes over. He seems anxious to eat real food in the morning anyways.

I asked about his walking because he seems to be a little flat footed. She said all babies are flat footed until they are about 3 and not to worry about it.

We also talked about his dry skin and the little bumps he has on his upper arms and legs. I had the same thing as a baby, so I think it's genetic. She recommended a certain type of Eucerin lotion that I'm going to try on him. It's not anything alarming, though.

He got two vaccinations and our next appointment is at 18 months. Then we don't have another checkup until 2 years. Amazing. There were some tiny babies there for their checkups and I was remembering how often we used to go. I was a bit wistful, I'm not going to lie. But I get to hold tiny baby Kash tomorrow, so that will be fun!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eat This, Not That

Pretty soon I should be able to rename this blog 'Paranoid Poodles' if I keep posting on alarming topics. A few days ago I shattered your belief system by informing you that only 37 of 500 sunscreens are any good. Today, I rock your world and your grocery list with information on pesticides.

I can't really take credit for this info; I am merely Sanjay Gupta's puppet. He's been doing a series on Toxic America and even though it's kind of sensationalist, I think it's interesting.

Just like the sunscreen guide, this study was conducted by the Environmental Working Group. I feel like I need to send them some money or something. Bang up job EWG!

They have released a list of particularly dirty produce that contains a lot of pesticides - 47-69 per serving. If you buy organic for these items, you will cut your pesticide consumption by 80%.

On the flip side, there is some produce that contains little to no pesticides, whether or not they are organic. If you buy organic for these items, you are a crazy spendthrift.

So here they are, and I did not come up with these cheesy titles -

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Domestic blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Spinach, kale and collard greens
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Imported grapes
  • Lettuce
I would venture to guess that Sanjay (or the EWG Interns) threw Spinach, kale and collards in the same bullet so he (they) would have exactly 12 items and a snazzier title.

Let's guess how many non-organic versions of these I currently have in my kitchen?? 5. I guess I'll be dumping it out along with my Baby Banana Boat sunscreen.

  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweet onions
Most of these items you don't eat the exterior or they have a tougher skin, so I kind of get why they're safer. Asparagus is a head scratcher, though.

There's some other interesting information on the site about the study and pesticides. Like how they can't really be washed off and are linked to ADD in kids and cancer. Don't read it before you go to bed or you won't sleep a wink.

So there you go - no more blindly shopping for organic food and unintentionally stuffing your offspring with toxic chemicals. Did I mention my birthday is coming up?

Walking Amongst Rowdy Poodles

It's tough to walk when the dogs are playing, but Charlie can do it!

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Happy Birthday!!


Today is my husband Brad's birthday! Unfortunately he is in Dallas for work, per usual, so we can't be with him today. And we miss him! It's like Charlie knows it's a special day for Daddy - he's been saying 'daddy' up a storm the past couple of days.

Since Brad is in Dallas, he got to celebrate last night with my family that lives there - my parents, my sister Megan and future brother-in-law Bruce. Sounds like they had a lot of fun at dinner.

Anyways, missing him like crazy, but I'm looking forward to celebrating this weekend in DC along with Charlie and our close friends, the Mahons.

Here's a little known fact: Brad was actually born on his mom's birthday. Pretty neat, huh?

So Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law, Hope, as well! Shown here with her husband Phil and a very sleepy Charlie.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hot Weekend

Richmond got the memo; it is definitely summer. So hot this weekend, like walking in a sauna when you go outside. How many days until Fall?

We went to the Richmond Greek Festival yesterday afternoon, but it was so hot we decided to just pick up some food and go home to eat. Charlie ate a bunch of it - he especially liked the yahni, which are string beans simmered in tomatoes and herbs. Not be confused with the Grammy-nominated new age musician.

Today we're contemplating going over to Broad Appetit, which is a food festival downtown that features all local restaurants. For its size, Richmond has a very respectable local food scene. It's going to be another scorcher, though and hot food in hot weather just sounds so unappealing. We may opt for the mall and gym instead.

I did go out yesterday and buy a tube of the California Baby sunscreen.... and just about fell over at the register when they rang it up. $19.99!! For this tiny tube! I must not be the only person reading this stuff about sunscreens because it was the last tube our Babies R Us had. Plenty of Baby Banana Boat though!

To keep Charlie busy we've been taking him out to play with his water table and sand box table. Eventually he gets bored, though, and heads down the deck stairs to find some dirt to play in. The dirt trumps all other toys. He's also been walking around more, though it's slow going. We're trying to cut down the bottles to 2 a day and yesterday we were successful.
This week is Brad's birthday! He's going to celebrate by working long hours. Sadly, I'm not kidding. He's been working a lot lately. Sounds like he may be able to work from home the following week though, which will be awesome. We can be like normal people for a week!

Next weekend we're heading up to DC to meet our good friends Lakshmy and Mike's new baby, Kash. We'll have to get some birthday celebrating in then. Hoping to make it to the Quarry House on Friday. It's down the street from our old house and we used to go a lot when we lived there. It's so magically delicious.

I'm so excited to meet the new baby. The four of us may be collectively insane to have these two babies in the same house, but have decided to just stock up on wine and find out the hard way! It's going to be fun. And hopefully not as hot....

It's a bit of a sad commentary on our weekend when I actually have more to say about next weekend! Just trying to recover from our exhausting weeks I suppose. Hope wherever you are, you are staying cool and relaxing! Happy Weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunscreen

I find the most fascinating things on Twitter. Do you tweet? If not, you should - if for no other reason then to follow some of the news services. Huffington Post, CNN, Anderson Cooper and the Washington Post all have awesome and informative news tweets.

Anyways, while trolling Twitter last night, I ran across an article about sunscreens and the chemicals in them. Some sunscreens have so many chemicals in them they are considered toxic - especially when applied on small children.

On the flip side, some sunscreens are so weak, they don't provide much UVA protection. That would definitely give you a false sense of security out in the sun, slathered up in sunscreen, while not being protected from UVA rays, which are very damaging.

The really infuriating part was reading that the least toxic chemical sunscreens are only available in Europe. The FDA has been sitting on their approval for years. The FDA has also never finalized sunscreen regulations, meaning companies can basically sell whatever garbage they can come up with and market it with whatever claims they want to. Ridiculous.

I'm something of a sunscreen freak. I'm pale, have lots of moles and have had several bad burns in my lifetime. I'm very, very careful now. I don't tan, stay under the shade when I'm outside, wear lots of sunscreen and get evaluated by a dermatologist annually. I'm very careful with Charlie, as well. I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that he is extremely pale. I'd strongly prefer our sunscreen not kill us, though.

The article also posted a link to the Environmental Working Group, which has has just released it's 4th annual Sunscreen Guide, listing the best and worst sunscreens. They evaluate each brand for how much protection they offer from UVA and UVB rays and what chemicals are used to provide that protection.

Unfortunately the guide doesn't tell you why certain chemicals or bad. You'll have to google certain ingredients listed on the brand you are looking at to determine what health risks they pose. But it's a good starting point. They rate sunscreens on a 1 to 10 scale. 1 being safest and best protection and 10 being full of toxic chemicals and not offering much protection.

I was sad to see the Banana Boat Baby sunscreen I've been using on Charlie is pretty toxic and doesn't protect at all against UVA rays. In fact, it was the first one listed in the Sunscreen Hall of Shame, which contains several major baby sunscreen brands. It smells nice and is well priced but out it goes. The dry touch Neutrogena sunscreen I like didn't score well either. Sad.

Out of the brands on their Best Sunscreens list, I have only really seen one of them in the store - California Baby. However, I haven't looked that hard, so the others may be widely available too. I remember thinking the California Baby products were kind of expensive. After reading the sunscreen guide, though, the cost is feeling much more worth it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

15 Months of Charlie

I blinked and 3 months went by. I'm definitely starting to understand why people say that it goes by so quickly. It seems that not a day goes by without some kind of reminder that Charlie is not a baby anymore. Over the weekend we realized we no longer need the bottle warmer on the counter. Today daycare sent home all the drool bibs they had tucked away. Little things, but I wish they'd slow down! Maybe take a break for a while!

It's not all weepiness over him growing up, though. Watching his personality develop is so incredible. He's got such strong preferences about things lately and talks constantly. Of course, we have no idea what he's saying - but it's very earnest and sentence-like babbling.

As for the preferences, well, hell hath no fury like Charlie when he doesn't get something he wants. They tell me at daycare that he's very sensitive, but I actually think it's more getting upset when he doesn't get what he want. It's awfully cute though, this little pouty cry.

Mostly, though, it's just fun watching him discover things and understand when we talk to him and play together. He's just so fascinated by everything and talks to himself while inspecting whatever it is he's checking out. He loves to look out the front windows and door - that's why I have so many pictures of him there. When Brad mows the lawn, Charlie is glued to the window watching him. It doesn't hurt that Brad waves each time he passes by!

Charlie can turn any situation into an excuse to break it down and dance. The slightest excerpt of a song from a battery operated toy and Charlie will be bouncing up and down or swinging his arms from side to side. And he'd like you to join him... oh and keep the music going, will you?

Charlie is very into books now - he wants the same collection read over and over again. I can recite them all backwards while half asleep. I actually find this a bit surprising since he wasn't all that interested in hearing a story a few months ago.

Now when I begin a book he has this little smile on his face like hearing the familiar words just makes him feel so content. He'll let out a little giggle at the end of a story and that's how I know it's one of his favorites. Then I usually get the book flung back at me with a shriek that means 'read it again!'

Charlie has a fascination with technical gadgets, probably because of his parents. He'll pick up a remote control (even his toy one) and point it at the TV to try and make something happen. He loves cell phones and laptops. He has toy versions but the real kind are so much more appealing, don't you think? Glad he's not old enough yet to be asking for a real one of anything yet.

Charlie's relationship with the poodles continues to improve.... in Charlie's mind at least. Now that he's faster moving around, he can crawl over and startle one of the poodles from a nap. They love that. Such an awesome way to wake up from a dream where they almost have the squirrel. They do love Charlie for all the food he drops. Today he shared a bunch of chips with Zoe. One in his mouth, one handed over to her.

I know they say (you know, 'they') kids don't play with each other or really interact until they are older then this but I'm not sure I agree. Charlie definitely has some friends at daycare he gets very excited to see. His best friend is Freddie - they are partners in crime. One can just look at the other and they burst out laughing.

Of course, Charlie the screamer isn't always so fun to be friends with. Whenever you take something away from Charlie that he wants, he gives a piercing scream. Freddie found this out the hard way and when Charlie screamed, Freddie burst into tears! Charlie was so confused by Freddie crying that HE burst into tears! They went from playing together to crying together in about 10 seconds. I don't think the teachers knew what to do with them that day!

The biggest development since 12 months.... the walking.... :)
Please excuse the blurry shots. My camera can't seem to handle movement, which is a tad frustrating with a kid who moves constantly. Our good picture % has dropped substantially! In fact, I have so few decent ones for this post because he moves around so much - I can't even get a few shots of his face! The out takes are all the back of his head or him moving away! No sense in posting those. And forget the chair pics - he's off the chair in no time. Still trying, though.

Charlie gets up and walks occasionally but he doesn't seem to go after it like he did crawling. He knows he can still get around pretty well so is taking his time getting the walking up and running. Or maybe I'm picking him up too much.

Or maybe he knows once he walks he has to leave the infant room at daycare, where he loves his teachers. Actually that may be more me then him. I'm going to have some separation anxiety when that happens. They've been so supportive. Yet another sign he's not a baby - no more infant room.

I never did figure out if we're supposed to go in for a 15 month doctor appointment. I guess I better call today and find out! I would love to know what his height/weight are up to. I can say for weight - heavy!

Shopping has gotten a tad difficult because Charlie is on the borderline between 12-18 and 18 to 24 month clothes. He's long enough where he needs the bigger size, but they swim on him width-wise. I don't let that stop me though. I love shopping for Charlie! Little boy clothes and shoes are so cute - I have the best time finding him things.

The constant activity takes a lot of food - and Charlie loves to eat. He has gotten a bit pickier and won't eat veggies like he used to. His favorite foods are yogurt, applesauce, kiwi, grilled cheese, pizza, pasta, cheese, pretzels and muffins. Occasionally we let him have chicken nuggets - since they're fried I try not to do that too often. But he loves them. Anything fried really. Calamari and french fries too!

As for sleeping, he's still not a great napper but pretty good at night. He'll usually take a 1.5-2 hour nap at daycare. At home he's transitioning from 1 nap to 2, which can get frustrating. Some days he'll take 2 short naps. Other days he'll take one long one in the morning and then nothing the rest of the day. By bed time he is so grouchy.

At night he'll sleep 11 to 12 hours. Sometimes he'll wake up in the night and talk to himself for a while. I leave a book and stuffed animal in the crib to keep him company. Typically, I'll wake up and hear him and eventually he'll just fall back asleep. I think he likes sleeping at night - just not during the day! He just snuggles down in those blankets and falls asleep on his tummy - sometimes still gripping his toothbrush. He loves to brush his teeth!

He hasn't been sick much at all the past 3 months. Just recently he's had some asthma related to allergies, but nothing serious. I'm so happy cold and flu season is over. And that his immune system is finally built up enough that we aren't at the doctor's office very week. It's wonderful to see him so healthy and feeling good lately.

That's all I can think of for now, but I'm sure tomorrow I'll remember a bunch I missed that I need to get written down for posterity's sake. Next update - 18 months! Wow. That sounds sooooo grown up!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend


This post is really an excuse to post pictures. Because our weekend was mostly pretty boring! Actually it was filled with what we don't get very much of - time together. With a husband/dad on the road most of the week, it is nice to get weekends like this where we get a lot of time together.

Brad and I got out to eat alone Saturday night since we had a babysitter. We went to a cuban place that had decent food but horrible mojitos. Then we went over to an Irish pub and sat on the patio. Bachelorette party count: 5

Sunday we had our now-ex neighbors over for fajitas. It was our last hoo-rah with them for quite a while - they are all packed up and moved out. Hopefully we can make it over to London to visit them some time.

I actually got sick on Monday, though I could feel it coming on Sunday. The doc in a box told me it was a stomach virus. I'm still not feeling great. Not sure what is up with me.

Charlie wasn't feeling great either, but it was different. He has allergies and then got a cough. We had to give him breathing treatments all weekend.

It's horrible, but we are now using TV as a distraction so he doesn't scream and fight the breathing treatment. One show in particular - Yo Gabba Gabba. Brad and I are both pretty creeped out while it's on; the characters are just odd. But Charlie finds it mesmerizing.

Yeah. So that's about all I have to say for our 3 day weekend!

Window Dressing

I'm ready to talk about it now. Mainly because I just got a packet in the mail from Williams & Sherrill about how incredibly right they are about how the curtains were produced and billed and that I still owe them money.

And I just feel so ticked off about the whole thing and taken advantage of, but lesson learned about working with their decorators - especially the new one who isn't really sure what she's doing. It's a shame, too, because I really liked her style.

The owner is all up to speed on what happened and couldn't so much as pick up the phone to call me (though I was welcome to come in and wait for him to have time to see me) so my goal (and this will be tough, because I really do love what is in the store) is to avoid giving them any business at all.

OK. So. Here's how not to run a fabric store:

I wanted some curtains for our dining and living rooms - the more formal rooms that are cordoned off from baby and puppy shenanigans by a baby gate and some doors. Williams & Sherrill is this quite large, somewhat swanky fabric/wallpaper/furniture/design store here in Richmond. They make sure to let you know when you go in that you need them a heck of a lot more then they need you. It's that kinda place.

They have a fabric sale every February. In January I called and asked for some help from one of the decorators to select fabrics and order some curtains. In other words: help me spend money in your store Williams & Sherrill.

They gave me a designer who I thought had some great ideas. She helped me pick some things out. My only complaint was that every visit with her was sooooo loooooong. And had to be in person. Brad kept saying, you have to go AGAIN?? Mainly because that meant leaving him alone for hours on end with a teething baby.

I had to go in once to meet her, another time to show her swatches and pictures, another time to 'finalize' the order, another time to pay and again to pick everything up. Fortunately, I used their in-house curtain installer guy or I would have had to make four more visits to return things and pick up replacements. And they wanted me to come in again to discuss all the problems with the order.

Up until the end, though, I was fairly happy and positive about it all. So happy that I actually went back for another appointment I set up with this designer to talk about buying some furniture during their furniture sale. But she stood me up. I sat in the lobby waiting while she met with another client and ignored the announcement that she had a client waiting.

Later she leaves me a voicemail that if I want to meet with her I should let her know what time. Um, we set up the time together two days ago when I was there to pay for my curtains. Nice.

Anyways, the curtains come in and I pick them up and pay the balance. The curtain installer comes a couple of weeks later and while he's there we both start realizing how messed up the order was.

I won't bore you with the details but things had to go back, be reordered, etc. Will be a few more weeks and another couple of work at home days so I can meet the installer again. Oh, and there are 4 roman shades instead of 2.

All of these things were mistakes on their end. And I was fine with it when I found out - I was still rolling with it. That was until I called to let them know. Even though they (the designer, the person who approves orders and the seamstress) messed up, all they have to say when I call is that I now owe [$$$] for labor on the shades and when am I going to pay. They magically discovered they never charged me for labor while trying to determine how four got made instead of two.

And they are all about getting their money now. I've taken several calls about coming in to pay, when am I coming, do I want to talk to the manager, etc. Um, you guys screwed up and I'm busy and my order isn't even here and installed correctly. Not really my top priority right now to kill more of my weekend time getting this sorted out. Now I'm getting packets in the mail. If someone knocks on my door this week it will probably be a collections agent. Not really. I hope.

I can't get an answer to any of my questions on the order as I try and sift through these confusing invoices. There's just this magical amount that they say I owe, even though I've paid everything I got an estimate for. I feel ripped off and like this is yet another mistake, just one that involves my money this time. They aren't budging though - or answering my questions.

In addition to the money, the whole thing has been one big hassle since January. I value my time and will pay extra not to have it wasted. In this case, I paid extra and it continues to be wasted. I work full time and take care of Charlie by myself during the week. My 2 weekend days are my only days to spend with my little family. That time is precious so I don't give it up lightly.

At the end of the day, if I knew what a black hole of time suckage these curtains were going to become I probably would have put them off or ordered pre-made or something. I can safely say that these will be the only custom ordered curtains to ever hang in my house. And the last items from Williams & Sherrill. The whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth about that store, decorators and curtains. Just a big headache.

So there you go. Middle class white girl curtain drama. Mad consumer trying to achieve justice through blogging.

Aaaaaaand now I'm over it. Blogging is so therapeutic!

Hope it was worth the wait Kirsti!