Friday, May 28, 2010

Technology and I go together like red wine and peanut butter or EPIC. FAIL.

I admit it, I've been a slacker missing the last two spin cycles the first of which I was too stressed to do a post about stress (file that one under 'I' for Irony) and this week's on proms (those photos will stay safety buried for another year).  But when Jen from Sprite's Keeper offered up technology as the topic this week, well my friends, this I can speak to.  But only using small words for reasons which shall soon become clear.

Oh where to start?  How about with the mind-boggling 4 remotes needed to watch a DVD.  Remote #1:  DirecTV remote.  Remote #2:  TV remote.  Remote #3:  VCR remote.  Remote #4:  DVD player remote.  And now the process:  Turn on TV with Remote #2, change to Channel 3 with Remote #1.  Turn on VCR with Remote #3 (because CLEARLY you should run your DVD player THROUGH the VCR) then finally turn on DVD player with remote #4.  Oh, and volume can only be controlled using Remote #2.  The wiring system was...impressive.  This also explains why when in college I DID NOT disconnect the TV/VCR wiring before leaving for the semester.  Though in all fairness, I did not come up with this system - it's all Dyl's fault.  I just couldn't figure out how to fix it.  And yes, we had very detailed instructions on how to use the TV for all babysitters who looked at us aghast when we handed them 4 remotes and an instruction booklet.  Have fun!  Though we recently upgraded to a LCD TV AND Blu-Ray player requiring only 3 remotes.  How's that for progress?

Then we have my ancient iPod that Dyl got me for my birthday 4 years ago? ish? Even after getting a new computer and finally (!) downloading iTunes (this would be LAST FEBRUARY), I still cannot transfer the songs that I bought on iTunes to said iPod.  And when I say ancient, I mean ancient: 500MB.  I am clearly one of the early adopters that will pay $600 for a phone that makes my coffee.

Speaking of coffee, I'm on my third cup this morning and I have a 12-pack of Diet Coke under my desk.  I'm just sayin'.

Last year (or was it the year before that?  Hm. I'm not sure) I got a new phone.  That! Even! Took! Pictures!  And 2 years later figured out how to send the pictures from said phone to my email address so as to share the blurry action shots of careening 2 year-olds to everyone.

Luckily I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to computers but I have been stumped by the fun buttons.  I wants them.  Blogger says I cannot has them.  But YOU has them.  Please, tell me the secret because Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V is not my friend right now.  And, what the sam hill is a hash-tag?  Can it be smoked?  Braised? Sauteed in butter?

Ah, it's finally lunchtime.  Good thing that I can at least work the microwave.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where I make up for my absence with a lot of filler....

Hi-dee-ho sports fans!  Its been quite the boring couple of weeks around here recently.  I worked.  A lot (just ask Dyl).  And will be working most likely until I keel over or the nice men in the white coats come to rescue me.  But you don't want to hear about that!  You are here for my riveting descriptions of my oh-so-glamorous-life and I will not disappoint you.  So onward we merrily slog!

First off, I bought a dress.  Well, my mom helped me buy the dress because I, in the huge, ginormous rush of FITTING INTO A SIZE SIX OMG WHICH HAS NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE missed the first digit on the price tag of said dress.  And there were multiple digits.  Three of them!  Had I seen said first digit, I would NOT have fallen into deep and abiding love with the dress but merely lovingly consigned it to the 'way the hell out of my league but boy did I feel pretty damn awesome for a minute' return bin.  I am not the best shopper in the world.  CLEARLY.  And then we had pizza, beer, milkshakes and pedicures though not in that order.  But I have a dress for a fancy party next weekend and pretty toes so all is right with the world now.

Noah is now 9 months old.  Can you believe it?  This time last year I was already exerting a gravitational pull on objects around me and that was BEFORE the real summer weather started.  I'm sure that I was an absolute joy to live with.  He  And possibly a vampire because hello fangs!  His favorite toy in the whole world is the cat who exhibits an inordinate amount of patience but gives off a very obvious 'WTF DUDE?  I'M 12 FREAKING YEARS OLD' vibe as the babe crawls/lunges after her like a deranged howler monkey. (OK, that metaphor was used by someone else first but I can't remember who so if it is you, please don't go Patton Oswalt on me cuz I tried.)

Today I experienced culinary nirvana:  New York Cheesecake and pancakes.  Together, all warm and gooey and my god did that imagery get away from me.  With a side of eggs, bacon, and hash browns natch.  Where did I stumble across such a delicacy?  If you guessed 'IHOP' then *high five* and *bitchslap* for not taking me with you when you went in the first place.  Unfortunately the occasion for our IHOP adventure was not a happy one....

My friend Stacey's last day is tomorrow and it's not of her own volition.  If you need a Chemist/Supervisor/All Around Awesome Person, you should totes hire her.  She'll work for an unlimited supply of Diet Pepsi Max and iTunes gift cards.  Bonuses in the form of Edward Cullen are always welcome. 

In my quest for power and glory* (or a better job - whichever comes first), I came across a masters program in Quality Assurance that is 1) completely on line and 2) not ridiculously expensive.  Now I just have to convince Stacey to do this with me so we could drink study together then at the end have rockin' graduation party.  Because I need someone in my face to get me to do stuff otherwise I'd spend all my time on twitter and facebook and I need to justify my laptop purchase somehow.  What do you mean my rich uncle isn't real?  He's not going to give me actual money?  Well, nekrab.**

* Bonus points if you can correctly identify the movie from which it was swiped.  And you totally need to get a life
** Even more bonus points if you know where this one came from
***Super extra bonus points for getting the voice right

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I can't decide if I'm angry or sad

I had hoped that this day would never come.  I had hoped that Noelle could have avoided the pain and hurt that comes from 'friends' using their not nice ways. But my daughter lost a piece of her innocence this morning.  At school.  At the hands of a friend she has been with since she was 12 weeks old, a friend that she adores.  Her heart broke today and so did mine.

Dylan took her to school this morning and part of the routine is that when we get into her classroom, she goes to the potty.  She was finishing up in the bathroom this morning when her friend and another little boy came into the bathroom and called her a 'peeper'. Or something.  Noelle is a VERY sensitive child and immediately broke down in tears.  I don't believe that it was because of the word but because of the intent.  And the intent was to cause a reaction, maybe even to hurt.  But she understood enough that it wasn't nice and it wasn't say 'hi'.  Dyl immediately took charge of the situation telling the boys that it wasn't a nice thing to say, that it hurt Noelle's feelings and to go play somewhere else.  He also told the teacher about the incident and was assured that it would be dealt with.  I really love this teacher so I have no doubt that it will be.

Yes, they are kids and yes, they are testing limits and their new found power over words but therein lies the rub.  I'm not an educator or a sociologist but I kind of think that this is how bullying gets started.  The little ones are given a free pass on using words to hurt since they 'don't really know what they are doing'.  So they learn that there are no repercussions beyond a 'time-out' (if they are caught/reported) and more importantly, they learn that words have the ability to wield power over others.  In this case, power over feelings and friendship, which could very easily lead to bullying and the horrible things that have been reported recently.

I really don't want to see this happen to this little boy; he is such an energetic and sweet child and Noelle adores him but this isn't the first instance of him using words to test limits - a few weeks ago he called Dyl a 'diaper'.  Which, admittedly, is kind of funny but on a deeper level disturbing.  And I will have no problem addressing this with his parents (who are also lovely people) should it continue.  Though I will squash my knee-jerk mama bear instincts and have the discussion in conjunction with the teachers who can speak to the behavior.

And you better believe that if I ever hear of Noelle saying things to hurt another child that she will be leading the most austere existence possible for a long (to a preschooler) time.  If there is one thing that I don't mess around with, it's bullying.

I mean, really, who would want to hurt this fairy princess?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recession vs. Biological Clock Smackdown!

So you find yourself mired in the deepest recession since the Great Depression.  What should you do?  (Hint:  not getting knocked up is a good place to start.)  What's that?  You already are?  Well fear not my good friends for I am here to shepherd you through this (even more) frightening time with the fruits of my own experiences since apparently the ticking of the ol' biological clock TKOs common sense Every. Damn. Time.  (Full Disclosure:  I snark but our baby was very much wanted so we were prepared to do whatever was necessary to fulfill our family dream.)

Step One:  Breastfeed.  No, it isn't 'free' especially if you are working so you'll need a good pump, milk storage containers, nursing pads etc. but when you figure the cost of those supplies versus the cost of a giant container of formula (which for us with our daughter lasted only a week and ran $37), the monthly savings averaged $112.  Health Bonus:  Since you are more focused on what you put into your body, you'll tend to consume less soda and alcohol.  At least that is what has happened with me substituting a ridiculous amount of water for said soda.  You'll feel better and keep more money in your wallet.  Score!

Step Two:  Make your own baby food.  Most likely you have a food processor.  It is your friend.  Use it.  All I needed to purchase were the whole foods or frozen fruits/veggies and a couple of ice cube trays.  For example, cooking and pureeing two medium sweet potatoes filled an entire ice cube tray. Figure that the sweet potatoes cost around $1.67 and the ice cube trays (if you had to buy them) went around $1.50  Each tray holds 16 ice cubes so each serving of sweet potatoes costs 20 cents.  Compare that with the upwards of 50 cents you'll pay per jar of commercial stuff and the savings add up quick.  Bonus:  by buying more fresh and frozen fruits and veggies for your baby, you'll inevitably start serving more to the rest of the family setting strong eating habits in place for years to come. 

Step Three:  Reuse as much as possible.  Since we didn't find out the sex of our first child, all of our baby gear was gender neutral.  The nursery was light blue and the onesies/sleepers were as unisex as we could find them.  So when our son was born this past August, we were able to reuse all of our baby gear from Noelle's infancy and just update the nursery with a new border and crib sheet set.  We kept the nursery furniture in the nursery and bought new furniture for Noelle's room which was significantly less expensive then nursery furniture.

Step Four:  Hand me downs are your friend.  We were able to get all of Noah's clothes from what my nephews had outgrown.  Of course, he is as big as his twin cousins now so the flow of clothes has trickled to a stop but for the newborn stages, it was wonderful.  You can also visit consignment shops for clothes which require clothes to be stain-free and not 'worn' for less than half the price of new clothes.  Which they will outgrow in a matter of weeks.

Step Five:  Child care.  We were very fortunate that my MIL had retired and we were able to hire her to watch Noah saving us 2/3 of the cost of an Infant tuition.  We did opt to keep Noelle in school as she had moved to the preschool class and the benefit to her far outweighed the actual cost of her full time tuition.  Though we may drop her back to only 3 days a week which could be another $150/month saved.  However, we were prepared to shift work schedules or drop to a single income if need be.  Because these guys?  Are totally worth it.

I could do more to cut costs:  cloth diaper, grow own veggies, etc. but there are only so many hours in the day.  Also, I 'm pretty sure that Grandma would balk at the whole 'cloth-diaper' thing.  It absolutely sucks to have to do a cost analysis before having a child.  And many won't have the advantages that I have so this is in no way a knock on anyone.  It's just what has worked for us.  I hope that you can take away something useful from my experience and head over to Sprite's Keeper for more spins on saving money!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ghost of Conferences Past

Last night was my parent-teacher conference with Noelle's teachers.  It didn't start off particularly auspiciously as we began almost half an hour late but that ended up being due to a miscommunication on the start time.  But first, a little background is in order.

Noelle transitioned to the 3 year old class last December, the week before her birthday.  Our first conference was in mid-January and was...less than encouraging.  She didn't participate in circle time.  She didn't run around on the playground.  She didn't interact much with her classmates, preferring to play by herself.  She didn't want to play with her friends, some of whom she had been with since she was 12 weeks old.  She had always been a reserved child, not wanting to give or receive affection to or from anyone but Dyl and I.  And I worried about this.  A lot.  Who wants to be around a person who needs that much personal space?  This is in direct contrast to my niece who is just the most open and bubbly person ever.  And is the exact same age. Of course people are going to gravitate to her; she rewarded their attention with smiles, hugs and cuddles whereas Noelle would remain firmly attached to my leg as if grafted there.  I get that, I understood that and I stressed about that.  For a long time.  But slowly, slowly, Noelle became more accepting of attention and affection until she is just as open with family as her cousin. So this development was surprising and I had asked for a follow-up conference when lo and behold, the scheduled ones were back. 

And this time...a complete 180.  Her teachers had nothing but glowing and positive things to say about her and her progress.  She is a super-active participant in circle time.  She constructs amazingly complex play scenarios with her best friend.  She is sensitive to other children's feelings and is a 'nurturer'.  She is a leader and a great sharer.  She talks all the time and loves running around with her friends on the playground.  She is a drama queen the blame for which goes squarely on Dyl's shoulders.  She knows all of her letters, numbers, shapes and colors.  Numbers in English and Spanish to 25 and most colors in Spanish too.  Note:  we are not Hispanic.  She recognizes all of her letters, upper and lower case where the 'threshold' for 3 year olds is...2. 

I am so proud of her progress!  All of this and potty trained in the span of 3 months.  She is funny and silly.  She sings and dances.  She loves hats, dress-up and her little brother.  She's a beautiful little girl who still loves cuddling on my lap first thing in the morning. She is an absolute joy and nothing makes me happier than other people getting to see what I've known all along.  She is my Noellebear.  She is my princess.  And she is so very loved.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dude, I'm tired

It's only Tuesday and I'm exhausted.  My eyes feel gritty and limbs feel heavy.  Plus it's raining and gloomy out which only serves to make me even more tired.  So this will be a lovely drive home this evening after the parent-teacher conference at Noelle's school.  Did you know that you have parent-teacher conferences in preschool?  It's true!  We even had one when she was only 6 MONTHS OLD.  That was fun:  well, your child drools and flaps around like a deranged baby duck but she sits so nicely and is very cuddly.  I'm...still not quite sure what the point was.  How, as a parent, do you ask any questions around child development when her biggest accomplishment to date has been not spitting baby food back at you? 

*Comes back from tangent*

Right, I'm tired.  And here's why:  I haven't had a weekend off since Easter.  I have worked every Saturday since mid-February (and a couple of Sundays as well) with the exception of two of them.  After working a full week.  And caring for a preschooler and infant.  Don't get me wrong, Dyl has been amazing through all of this but getting up at 4 am to be at work by 6 gets real old real fast.  I end up missing seeing the kids wake up on the weekends, no chance at big cuddles in our bed.  No relaxing in the family room drinking coffee and sharing the paper while they watch cartoons.  I miss it.  I'm missing it.  Soon we'll have Scouts and practices and stuff eating up our lazing time and I'm actually angry about being away from my family.  No job is worth it.  Except when it is.  When it has to be.  I so want to be like Cartman:  Screw you guys, I'm going home. 

I'm also getting maudlin and at bit weepy which so doesn't fit with my Alpha-Bitch rep here at work so:  Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts: With a side of 'Rants'

Since it's Tuesday, you know what that means!  Even more randomness than usual around here.  We've got a lot to cover so let's get right to it:

On kids really ARE watching you
Two Christmases ago we got Noelle a play kitchen with pots, pans, a blender, plates, spoons, etc.  This past year we got her some new food to go with the kitchen.  Six months later she is finally starting to play with it.  Which entails putting certain select foods in a 'dutch oven', stirring them with a spoon and then force-feeding me, Dylan and Noah 'lunch' or sometimes 'dinner'.  Force-feeding in terms of her grabbing our chins, yanking our mouths open and shoving the spoon in there.  Except for Noah who is just starting to get the hang of this spoon-food connection so he willingly opens his mouth.  And is very confused when there isn't anything on it but continues to open his mouth when he sees the spoon in the hope that someday something might appear on it.  For the record, we have never modeled this behavior for her so I'm not entirely sure where she picked it up but it's funny.  When she does it to Dyl that is.  It's what she serves that makes me cringe:  french fries, waffles, broccoli and a 'bowl of 'sketti'.  Care to guess what we have for dinner in our house a lot?  I think that I need expand our menu and FAST.

Suze Orman isn't the only one getting her financial house in order
Dyl and I are celebrating another accomplishment.  We've paid off two credit cards completely and have made great inroads on the last one so we are planning to have everything paid off by the end of the year.  This?  Is awesome!  I'm so proud of us!  No snark, just a big ol' YAY US!

You take the good, you take the bad
Since last August when Noah was born, I've dropped 60 pounds.  An entire grade-schooler.  And yes, half of that was pregnancy weight but still, 30 pounds on top of all the baby weight.  I'm pretty damn pleased with myself if I may be so bold.  How could there possibly be any downside to this?  Well, there is a downside though 'backside' might be more accurate.  As in mine is disappearing into 'Flatassland'.  When you are worried about your pants being literally on the ground at work, this is cause for concern.  And let's be honest here, baggy pants do not look good on anyone.  I'm looking at you MC Hammer!  So, why don't I buy some new pants.  That fit?  Well I would but see above RE:  CREDIT CARDS PAID OFF!

Secret, secret, I've got a secret
I've been harboring a secret celebrity crush for many years now on David Boreanz of 'Buffy' and 'Angel' (And also 'Bones' I guess but I don't watch that show )fame which has come to an abrupt crashing end    For now, my dear, sweet, Angel has been revealed to be no better than, oh, Tiger Woods or Jesse James.  Yes, he has been cheating on his wife of 9 years with many women apparently.  One of them even linked to Woods.  Seriously, what do these famous guys do?  Get together in their Famous Manly Club and swap fame-whores phone numbers?  Do they NOT THINK THAT THIS WILL GET OUT?  Why for the love of all that is holy can they not just KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?  Or not get married in the first place? just done.  With them all.  Fie, a pox on you!

Hello Captain Obvious!
I've just noticed/discovered that the blogspot template does in fact have a spell check button.  I'm going to pretend that this is a new and exciting thing so please do not ruin my carefully crafted illusion if it turns out that I'm just a raging idiot.

The hubs and I are going to the midnight showing of 'Iron Man 2' on Thursday.  My MIL is taking the kids so WE HAZ A DATE. 

And now for something completely different
I've been toying with the idea of a weekly column thingy dedicated to the glorious decade of excess known as the the 1980s.  Also:  the decade I grew up in.  Good idea/bad idea/don't really care.  I might do it, I might not.  But *I* think that it would be fun.  And embarrassing as oh yes, pictures will be shared.  My hair.  That is all that you need know right now.

That's it for Baltimore, Maryland, head on over to Keely the Unmom for even more random fixes!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spin Cycle - The Mother's Day Edition

This week's Spin Cycle assignment is all about teh mammas.  And how we celebrate/acknowledge Mother's Day so make sure that you head over to Sprite's Keeper after this to read all about how others celebrate Mother's Day.  So here we go, it's time to spin!

I've been a mom for 4 years now so I guess this makes my fourth Mother's Day.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mommy.  It's the best thing in the world as far as I'm concerned.  But Mother's Day doesn't really feel about me.  In my family, the emphasis has always been on the grandmothers and to a lesser extent my mom.  But this year will be different, a definitive paradigm change.

My grandmother died 6 weeks ago.  This will be the first Mother's Day that she won't be around.  And this makes my mom the 'matriarch' as it were.  It is...difficult because we were all so close to my grandma.  She was the center of the family so her being gone has knocked the world off of it's axis; at least for the short term.  Growing up the tradition was to all go to church together then off to grandma's house for the festivities.  Which mostly consisted of eating but it was a relaxing afternoon with my mom doing the cooking when my sisters and I were younger and us taking on more of the cooking responsibilities once we got older.  And could be trusted to not burn the house down using the oven.  Over the years the location shifted to my parents' house and we do all the cooking now.  And it drives my mom bonkers not being 'allowed' in the kitchen to help.  Breakfasts in bed, brunches, etc. were not our thing and my mom rarely eats it seems.  It was all about just being together.

My all-time favorite Mother's Day was in 2006 when my middle sister and I both announced our first pregnancies to our mom.  The cheers and the tears made it such a special day for everyone.  Tears of relief for my sister who had struggled with infertility and cheers for the first grandchildren who ended up being born just a week apart and are the best of friends.

This year we've all moved up one level on the hierarchy; my sisters and I are now firmly in the middle tier after having spend the past 30-plus years as the cellar-dwellers.  Mother's Day won't be about me for many years to come and you know what?  I'm okay with it.  My mom deserves to have her years, nay, decades in the spotlight.  She is such a terrific woman, so smart, so loving, so giving and I can't think of anyone who deserves to be feted as much as she does.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  You are the best and I love you so very much!