Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cara Bambina - Busy Weekends

Cara bambina,

We have had some very busy weekends lately, and you've been handling them like a champ! Last weekend, we drove down to your Grandma and Grandpa's (your dad's parents') Friday night, and you did really well in the car. This was mostly because we left only an hour before your bedtime, and you were able to handle an hour and fall asleep (thanks to a bottle given while in your carseat). You transferred right into the Pack and Play Grandma had set up, and we couldn't have been happier, especially because it was 1:45 in the morning! You slept until after 6:00 the next morning, and that was such a relief.

On Saturday, you played happily in the morning, eat a good breakfast and even went down pretty well for a nap. I was again surprised about how well you transferred into the Pack and Play. I was expecting it to be a nightmare, using the Pack and Play, since the last couple of times you tried to nap in one at your aunt's (my sister's) house you would not sleep in it. But lo and behold, you did great in the Pack and Play! Was it because this mattress was extra soft? Was it because of the way we transferred you? Was it because of the new PJs or the stuffed animals or the blanket? Oh, how I wish you could tell us so we could repeat everywhere else!

After a surprisingly long nap, you, Grandma and I went out for lunch and shopping. Again, you were so good. You get antsy and want to run around, but you are a toddler, so of course you do! The only tough thing was that you wouldn't sleep in the car from the restaurant to the first store (about a 20 minute drive) or from the first store to the mall (a 30 minute drive) or in the mall (even though I tried the front-facing baby carrier, which you've slept in before). You were exhausted, but would not sleep at those perfect opportunities. Instead, after running all around the last store, you fall asleep on the way back to the house. This was only a 15 minute ride, and it was pretty late and close to dinner time.

I had already given up the idea of an afternoon nap and been planning to just put you to bed early. But you were out like a light. I brought you in the house, and you slept through it even though I didn't try to be quiet. In fact, I tried to wake you once we got in the house, but you just flopped against my shoulder and would not wake. So I put you in the Pack and Play and you slept for another 30 minutes! You had a late-ish dinner, bath and bedtime, but you did go to sleep eventually. You did not sleep through the night that night, and in fact we had a tough night. But once again you were a sweet girl in the morning, because apparently you don't need a good night's sleep to be in a good mood, unlike your parents. You had a reasonable morning nap on Sunday, and after playing for a few more hours with family, your daddy and I got ready to get on the road.

We planned it perfectly. You were obviously really tired and ready for a nap. So we left at 3:30, tucked you in comfy clothes into the carseat, and gave you a bottle as we started out. But you didn't want the bottle, and you didn't want to sleep and you DID NOT want to be restrained in the carseat. This is a known issue, but we couldn't leave any later on a Sunday. Your daddy and I simply can't get home so late and go to sleep at 2:00 AM or later on a night when we have to work the next morning. But it was VERY ROUGH to spent 2.5 hours with you crying, screaming, fussing and generally carrying on while I had a headache verging on a migraine. We tried everything, but nothing would do. The only good thing is that it wasn't non-stop screaming. I wanted nothing more than to hold you and rock you and let you out, but we just couldn't. You were great at the stop we made for dinner, and after that you had a decent nap, but it was not easy to get to that point. And the next person who says to me "But babies usually love car rides" is going to get slapped!

This weekend is the wedding of your Godfather, your daddy's best friend. Today, we had the rehearsal and rehearsal lunch. You were simply wonderful! You actually slept most of the hour-long ride up! It was naptime, and you were so tired that you really did just sleep! You were only a little squirmy while I strolled you through Baltimore to the pier for the rehearsal. Once at the pier, you got to run around on the grassy field where the wedding will be (it's such a fantastic spot for a wedding). And run you did! Luckily, one of daddy's friends's wife helped watch you so I could take the occasional picture of daddy and your Godfather and his friends. She has a two year old, so she knew exactly what to do. And she's always fun for me to hang out with and chat with, so while her husband and your daddy are doing wedding stuff, I'll get to hang out with her tomorrow.

At the restaurant, you filled up on bread and applesauce and did not eat any of the meal I ordered for you. But that's okay, because you were happy. And then, you were extra squirmy. But you did really well overall, and I let you run around another dining room which was empty. We had a lot of fun the whole day, running around and tickling and laughing and showing off your animal noises to everyone around. In fact, we did so much, that you were exhausted on the stroller ride back to the car. Once in the car, you promptly fell asleep and slept the whole way back to our house, which is just a dream come true for your parents.

Tomorrow, you will be at your Grandma's all day. This will be her last time really watching you for a long stretch, so you really need to be good. While she's out running some errands, you must also be good for your aunt who is going to be watching you for a couple of hours. I think she's bringing your niece, so you'll have one last day of playing with her before the nanny starts at our house, watching just you. Daddy and I will be gone all day long, and we will miss you very much. But this is an important day for our good friends, and we are so excited for them.

Next weekend is also going to be crazy busy, with Mother's Day brunch, your cousins' (twins) birthday party, helping your uncle and aunt (my brother and his wife) pack and move and baking with your oldest cousin. The weekend after that, we have a lunch and shopping to do for our upcoming vacation trip. The weekend after that, we are going to the zoo to meet a bunch of really fun mommies, daddies and kids! And the weekend after that, we're going to the beach! I told you our weekends are super busy lately. It would really help us all out if you would sleep through the night regularly again. Pretty please?

Ti amo tutti,
Mama

Friday, May 2, 2008

DC Area Meet Up Updates!

The plan for the DC Area Meet Up so far is for moms, kids, hubbies and whoever else wants to tag along to meet up at the National Zoo on May 24th. Next on the list of things to figure out is the where and when to meet at the zoo.

I suggest we meet just outside of the National Zoo Store in the Visitors Center. As you can see on the map (all the way on the left of the map), it is between the main entrance from Conneticut (where Metro-ers will be coming in from) and the entrance from Lot A (a good place to park, although it fills up quickly). This puts us at the top of the hill, although it is far from the Mane Restaurant at the bottom of the hill.

I understand we are all going to have to juggle different schedules and nap times, so I doubt everyone is going to be able to meet together right from the start. Also, with the different ages of kids, I want us to be able to have a few hours at the zoo but not over do it for the younger ones. I suggest we meet up at 11:00 (even though this might mean a missed nap for my poor little Pumpkin--see what I give up for the group?).

I will also plan to wear something that will hopefully be recognizable. I'm thinking my pink Redskins hat, but you'll have to look down since I'm only 5'2". Oh, also I was thinking we could be really cheesy and wear name tags with our online names and our real names, if we are sharing them. There are a bunch of us, so name tags would really help us know who everyone else is and help new arrivals look around and say, "I see that group of people and kids with name tags and the short girl with long hair wearing a pink Redskins hat! That must be them!"

Also, if we plan a lunch break at say 12:30 to 1:30, other people could come look for our group in the Mane Restaurant.

Finally, here is the list of people I think are coming:
-Becoming Mommy
-liz
-DC Ranger
-Sharina
-Anonymous (who was it that posted Anonymous on the original DC Area Meet Up post?)
-meggiemoo
-wealhtheow
-hedra
-Colleen of Wine Please
-Lawyer Student Hot Mama of Law school sucks - and so do lawyers

I wasn't sure if Slim and chaser could make the 24th... can you guys?

So, please respond with any feedback on the following items:
1. Is the meet up spot in the zoo okay?
2. Are the times for meeting and lunch good?
3. Is the plan for my pink hat and name tags okay?
4. Is my list of people wrong (i.e., are you coming/not coming but I don't have you listed/have you listed?)

I'm so excited about this!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Our New Childcare Situation

As I mentioned before, we are changing our childcare situation. My mom has been watching my daughter and my sister's daughter in the mornings (a babysitter comes in the afternoon), but Mom needs a break and requested that we find something else. My sister's daughter will start at a great-sounding daycare in mid-June. Londo and I, however, have not had time to find the right daycare* for the Pumpkin, so we needed to figure out what to do for now.

I'm happy to say, we've figure it out. We asked our babysitter to be a full-time nanny through the summer. We offered what we thought we might possibly be able to afford as a salaried rate. She countered with another amount, and we agreed. We can't exactly afford this, but Londo and I decided that it is worth dipping into our savings to have her for the summer.

We are going ahead for a few reasons. First, the babysitter is so great with our daughter, and we think that the Pumpkin would really benefit from some one-on-one care from the babysitter. Also, this gives Londo and I time to look into daycares that we could start in the fall. In addition, my mom needs a change as soon as possible, and this was the quickest solution we could come up with. It also will be such a relief to be able to just leave from the house without juggling baby and bags, and for Londo to just come home to baby already here, and this convenience is especially great after the rough nights and mornings we've been having around these parts and how late that has been making me to work and therefore back home.

So, that's the plan. The nanny will start 8:00 AM on Monday at our house, since my mom asked for a change as soon as possible. My sister was able to get the babysitter/nanny's mother (who has also watched both our girls and my brother's twins and is also fantastic) to take over the afternoons at my mom's until my niece starts at daycare. We will continue to look into daycares. My mom has offered to fill in if the nanny can't make it, as in if she is sick or something. So it seems to have all worked out.

But it's been tricky for two main reasons. It's not easy to be in a business agreement with family. We all get along really well, and everyone wants to do things amiably, but that is sometimes tricky to work out. Fortunately, we all worked together and figured out how to make this change happen without putting anyone out. The second reason it's been tricky is because trying to afford the full-time nanny means huge lifestyle changes for Londo and me. We are cutting out any and all extras, rearranging schedules and plans, clipping coupons and doing many other small to large changes that I'm sure I'll be writing about as time goes on. We really liked the financial planner, and I'm excited that we will be working with her. I'm sure she'll help us figure out other ways to find the money.

We believe making these changes will be worth it for the Pumpkin, and for my mom who has been watching two kids under two for almost a year and my niece for the year prior to that! Most of all, we are so thankful to my mom for her wonderful (and free) care of our daughter during this time in her life.

*While I loved the Montessori school, they cannot take her until she's is 2. She is 13.5 months now.

Rockabye Rocks!

Over the past few months, I've read a few non-fiction books and memoirs. I generally enjoy memoirs because I like hearing about people's experiences. However, I have been a bit disappointed lately in many of the memoirs. Just because a person has an interesting story to tell, does not mean that they are good writers who can tell the story well.

Rockabye: From Wild to Child, by Rebecca Woolf, does not have this problem. Rebecca's blog Girl's Gone Child was one of the first mommybloggers I started reading. Because of her exceptional writing in addition to her interesting experiences, I never left her site. If you haven't discovered her yet, I suggest going to her site and buying her book. They are both worth it.

Rockabye is Rebecca's story of her unplanned pregnancy, subsequent marriage, and her transition into motherhood. While her story is perhaps in almost every way different from mine, I found myself related in so many ways to what she went through and the thoughts and feelings she had while going through these transitions. Even the areas that I could not relate to directly were told so well that I could understand and even embrace her decisions and feelings. That is a remarkable talent in a storyteller.

Rebecca's writing is simply amazing. I was maybe 10 pages into the book when I looked up at my husband and said, "Now THAT is how you write a book!"* Her rich writing is full of details that draw you in and make her world your world. I'm incredibly impressed by her ability to introspectively view her own life, feelings and emotions and express her deep analyses and conclusions. Even if you have no interest in what it is like to be a new mother, suddenly thrust into parenthood and marriage, her writing is so beautiful that this book would be a joy to read.

I happen to love the topic of parenthood, and I loved reading about Rebecca's struggles and joys. Being a new mom or dad is tough in so many ways, and Rebecca captured many of those ways that I believe are pretty universal, as well as some that are more unique. What she shared was not a day-by-day account of her son's growth, it was not four-page chapter sound bites with trite snippets of life or thoughts. It was the deep reflection of what went on in her head through pregnancy and the first few years of her son's life. She also showed how having a child is worth all the rough times and how the love you experience is greater than anything you knew before.

For those of you who wonder how I make time to read, try reading this book and you'll see how quickly you get sucked in and make time for it.

For other reviews, check out The Parent Bloggers Network's post on the book.

*This was in reference to the previous memoir I read right before this book which had an interesting story, but I found to be poorly written in many ways. Of course Londo got to hear all my grips about the previous book.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Working in "The Basement"

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but recently my project team moved into a new office location. We are in an older building, and we are sitting in cubicles in the basement. Not quite the same as the brand new building, with the fifth floor window offices that we were working in. Not quite.

My company has been trying to make the best of the situation for us, but they can't really do anything about the lack of any windows, the crappy florescent lighting that leaves me with a headache at the end of every day, the lack of any privacy due to the open cubicles (I get to hear the person to my right make personal phone calls and to my left clip his nails). But they've beefed up the kitchen area and are providing snack food and sodas to be delivered--although I don't really eat the snacks and I don't drink sodas. There is Starbucks coffee and Deer Park water. And I actually don't mind cubes too much, as I've worked in them on and off through the years.

But guess what we discovered yesterday? A MOUSE!!! From what I hear, where there is one mouse, there are more. The exterminator came this morning, and after talking with him, he is willing to use only snap traps. He was going to use glue traps, but I've heard and read that not only are they inhumane, but they can be unsanitary. Plus, I don't really want to be working with a mouse is dying on one of those. Not exactly good working environment, you know?

So, that's what I get to deal with at work, while on an average of 5.5 hours of sleep (don't ask). Luckily, my migraine had gone away. My headache is back (thanks, florescent lights!), but it's not (yet) a migraine.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Question of the Week - Pimp Your House

I know I haven't been around in a while. We went to the inlaws this weekend, which went pretty well, except for the 5-6 hour car trip each way with a little girl who HATES the car. Oh, and the migraine I've had on and off all weekend. That's fun with a screaming kid in the car. Real fun.

On the bright side, I have been relaxing by watching decorating shows and reading decorating books and magazines. I'm so ready to start organizing and cleaning and hanging and rearranging. As soon as I have any free time (what's that again?) and don't have a headache, I'll get right on that spring cleaning.

I did catch the end of an episode of Cribs, in which I got to see Jewel's house. GORGEOUS! And last week, one of the radio shows asked each other a good question that I'm stealing for this week's question.

Question of the Week:
What Crib-like feature would you want for your house?

I was thinking of a fantabulous, fantasy pool or maybe a macked-out kitchen, but then I realized I would want a really amazing library. Maybe even a library wing! I'm talking a two-stories high, large, open room, with a balcony that lined the second level and ladders that go up to the top shelves on each level. With comfy chairs nestled together in front of windows and a large fireplace, soft, deep rugs and lots of lamps and maybe a beautiful chandelier. A room that is light and airy, but with a dark, intellectual decor. The books would all be grouped in genre and then alphabetical, and they would all be logged in a program on the computer. There would be a work table as well as a couple desks with computers.

That is my idea of heaven in a house. How about you?