Sunday, October 25, 2009

Books for Baby

When Carter was a baby, we read to him obsessively. I have a vivid memory of him at two weeks old, curled up between Ace and I in bed, reading Dr. Seuss' ABC's. Ace and I marveled at how attentive he was and concluded that certainly our newborn was a genius! (you know, typical new parent stuff!). I was hooked on reading to him. Its no wonder that at the age of 1, Carter could tell us the names of all the animals and their sounds (except giraffes, they don't make any sounds), and the colors. By 18 months, we were having conversations with him! Albeit simplistic. He could already sing the ABC song! Perhaps it was just his natural aptitude, or perhaps it was the endless hours of reading we did together. Who knows!

So, of course, I would do the same thing with Bennett, right?? Sadly, no. I haven't. I read to him here and there, and I know his Lolo reads to him during the day. But, I haven't invested the same level of commitment in reading to him as I did Carter. And I swore I wouldn't burden him with second-child syndrome... There just never seemed to be enough time in the day once I had two kiddos to nurture. And Bennett just never seemed to love reading the way Carter did. So, I slacked. Yes, what an awful confession.

So, Bennett is nearly 18 months old. The only words he says are "light" and "Ace." Granted, he was a very-early preemie, with chronic lung disease to boot, so speech delays are to be expected. Yet, I can't shake this sick feeling that part of that is my fault. Perhaps, if I had been reading to him every single night all this time, he wouldn't be delayed? I recently learned that the bulk of speech development doesn't start until 18 months, when they begin to learn up to 10 new words a day - I still have time to redeem myself as a mother! So, I've re-committed.

For the past month, I've been reading at least one book to Bennett every single day. I've discovered that he does indeed LOVE books. Now, when I go to the library, I excitedly scour the shelves looking for titles that will rapture him! Recently, I've discovered two books that Bennett particularly loves, and decided I must share them with you all!

The first is Pots and Pans by Patricia Hubbell. Its a sing-songy book about a little boy who makes music in the kitchen. Bennett signs "more" everytime we finish the book!
The second favorite is All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler. The book goes through the various body parts of baby, and I kiss each part on Bennett when the books proclaims "Who loves baby's eyes? Me! I do!" Bennett squeals with delight. And toddlers looooove identifying body parts. (Although, Bennett points to his cheeks still when we ask him where his eyes are...)

You should also check out Oprah's Reading List for Babies (she has lists for all ages!) for ideas too! Reading, and the love thereof, is afterall, one of the best gifts we can give our children!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I WILL

You know me. I'm stuck on the proverbial hamster wheel. Not just with my career, which is endlessly sucking hours out of my day that I don't even have. But, with everything. Every week I start off believing THIS week, I will do it right. I will keep my life in order. I will enforce routines. But it never happens. I swear, once upon a time, I really did have my life together. I dunno what happened. Oh yeah, I had another baby (and I want another one too, like, really bad). But, I refuse to surrender defeat and conclude that those days are gone for good. So, yep, each Sunday night, I sit here and write out my game plan for getting my act together.

This week I WILL...

...get up when my alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. No matter how sleepy (or, lazy) I feel or cold the house is. Or, how much sleep I got the night before.

...work out each and every morning. Again, no matter how lazy I feel. I mean, sleepy.

...leave the house on time, no matter what dilatory tactics Carter pulls.

...focus at work and make every minute count, resulting in less work I have to bring home with me and more billable hours.

...eat healthy, whole foods. I will NOT cave into that evil little demon inside my head that says "but you NEED that Coke because you need the caffeine jolt."

..."eat the frog" and conquer my most-loathed task first thing in the day.

...not sit down at night to "relax" until my home to-do's are scratched off, and I've spent 15 minutes doing general pick up around the house.

...fold AND put away the laundry on the same day I wash and dry it. As opposed to leaving it in piles around the house for the entire week like I usually do.

Yes, I WILL do these things. You'll hold me accountable, won't you?

But if I don't, please don't judge me too harshly because I never have a problem with plastering my babies with kisses, and cuddling with them and soaking them up and breathing them in. And those "to do's" mean so much more in the long run, right??? But I digress, because I'm determined. I WILL regain control.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Silver Lining

My husband forwarded me this feel-good article about finding ten good things from this sucky economy. The list included things such as "you'll find the true meaning of happiness," and "you'll learn to appreciate yourself for things beyond your earning capacity." Well, I dunno about you, but this stuff doesn't make me feel any better. We all know someone who is struggling right now. We all have friends and family who've been laid off. Perhpaps some of them have had to declare bankruptcy or foreclose on their house. I doubt to them these "fluff" reasons cited in the article are much of a consolation.

So, I came up with my own list of 10 REAL good things that have come from the crappy economy:

1. People won't look down on you ask much as before for foreclosing on your house or declaring bankruptcy. Its in vogue. In a few years, people will simply see it as a causualty of the the recession.

2. Creditors are too swamped to really pursue you. Or at least as fast as they used to.

3. Companies are writing off debt left and right and are willing to settle balances much lower than what you owe because they know if you file bankruptcy, they are SOL. And even if they sue you and get a judgment, chances are you have nothing to pay them with.

4. It gives you a chance to hone your entreprenurial skills.

5. There will be a baby boom because sex is the best free entertainment - which will help later on down the road to fill the void the 1950s baby boomers leave, and fuel the economy for the next generation. (Hey, someone needs to keep paying into social security, right?)

6. Its ok that your credit score took a hit - the credit markets are so tight right now that no one with less than an 800 will get a loan.

7. All the useless gawdy gold jewelry you've hung on to over the years is now worth a lot! (Because gold increases in value when the dollar is weak).

8. Shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, Craigs List, e-bay and bartering is good for the environment - reuse and recycle baby!

9. There will soon be a lot fewer ugly, crappy American-made cars littering our roadways.

10. There is only one direction to go from here - UP!

Disclaimer: The above is intended for entertainment and satire only. Please do not construe this as financial and/or legal advice, nor a predictor of any future outcome. Its only intended purpose is to get a laugh, or at least a smile.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Uh Oh...

video

So, the video speaks for itself. The crib mattress has already been lowered. Major brownie points to Ace for lowering it on his own initiative!

He's 17 months old, so I guess this isn't abnormal, but I'm not ready! I was actually thinking about maybe going to a toddler bed. We kept Carter in the crib until he was 2.5. So, we'll probably keep him in there.

*Sigh* They grow up too fast....


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Focus

Its really quite simple. So simple in fact that I feel a bit silly even posting it. But, its something that I needed to hear, so I figured maybe some of you do too?

The number one impediment to my productivity and success is - lack of focus.

Adult-onset ADD? Perhaps. I speculate that its more properly diagnosed as declining self-discipline. And why not? There are zillions of things these days to steal moments of our attention away. We live in a fast-paced world that is over-immersed in information. I have found that this makes it more and more difficult to train my brain to focus at the task at hand. Hello, Ritalin??

But naw, I don't need medication. I need to buckle down, grit my teeth and focus. Set my course and not deviate until I have reached my planned destination.

Who knows...perhaps if I can focus long enough to complete the tasks that need to be completed, it will get done more quickly so that I have more play time left at the end of the day!

So, dear friends. I know its Wednesday, and it feels unnatural to start anything in the middle of the week. But, starting tomorrow morning, join me in this little experiment and really truly focus and concentrate on your tasks and see how much more productive you really are!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Executive Decision

Being that it is now six days into the the month of October and we still do not have a book selection for this month, I'm taking charge and declaring that our Book Club selection will be...


[insert drum roll]

This book came highly recommended to me, and it was on the National Bestseller list! Its supposed to be a bit "spooky" so I thought it would be fabulously festive reading for the month of October! Our discussion post will be on Friday, November 6th!

I received a lot of interest when I posted my idea for the Book Club, so I really hope more people can participate this month!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Me! Monday

I'm a huge fan of MckMama and her blog My Charming Kids! She never ceases to amaze me with her unending ability to post interesting, creative, and funny content. Plus, her kids are just too darn cute, and her photography is amazing. I feel compelled to apologize that I'm not nearly as entertaining as she is, but thank you for following me anyway.

Every Monday on her blog, MckMama has an interactive post where she tells us all about the embarrassing, funny, human things she... does (ahem...not) do during the week. In turn, readers post their "not me" stories on their own blogs, and link to hers. I've never played along. But, today it just sounded fun!

So, this week, I did not polish off Carter's 1/2 full (yes, I'm an optimist) tub of rainbow sherbert. Nope, I would never do that to a small child! Nor did I feed Bennett chocolate covered raisins for breakfast yesterday. Never!

Of course, I did not deliberately leave three loads of unfolded children's laundry out in the open with the hope that my father-in-law-turned-nanny would take pity on me and fold it for me. (He did).

I most definitely did not spend the majority of my weekend lounging around listening to a riveting book on cd while playing solitaire on my iPhone while Bennett was asleep, rather than tackling my mile-long To Do list on this auspicious 1-child weekend I was blessed with. Come on, you know me, I would never do that!

This morning, I did not let Bennett fuss himself to sleep when I accidentally woke him up at 5:30 by covering him up with a blanket before heading downstairs to get my work-out on. That would just be mean. And selfish not to skip my workout and rock him back to sleep.

Nope, not me. I wouldn't do any of that.

How about YOU?? What did you not do?? Play along, I LOVE reading these!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Great Diaper Dilemma

Recently, I read about the horrors that "regular" disposible bleached diapers can wreak on your baby's skin and endocrine system. So, I got this wild hair thinking I HAD to go cloth. I think cloth dipes are really cute, but I cringe at the logistics of it, and had never really condsidered it prior. I mean, changing a dirty diaper is unpleasant enough, I can't imagine adding more steps to the process. Plus, all that laundry... Like I need more laundry.

I thought that I was all settled on my decision to cloth diaper. I was drawn to the one-size BumGenius diapers, since I would only have to buy one set to last us through to potty training. But even then, when I calculated the initial cost out-lay to buy the supplies to start cloth diapering, it was still rather substantial. In comparison to my estimated cost to continue using disposible diapers, I would only save maybe $300 over the next year and a half (assuming Bennett potty trains by age 3). But what if I spent all that money on diapers and I didn't like it?? It just didn't work out? Plus, my husband wasn't completely sold on the idea.

Then, a friend tipped me off to a GREAT deal!!!
She buys the Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Diapers from Amazon.com. When you subscribe for regular delivery (options for 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months...), you get 15% off. The price for 140 size 3 dipes, delivered, is only $37.39! This is about the same price I paid for my beloved Pampers Cruisers at Target with a coupon. But now, its regularly delivered! No more diaper-roulette for me, waiting to see how long I can go between rushing to Target late at night when our last diaper is consumed. Plus, I really like the diapers! They fit well, absorb well, and are really soft!

Since I'm not one to keep great deals to myself, I had to share! Maybe I'll try cloth-diapering with the next babe, but for now, I'm satisfied with this health alternative!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Club Discussion: The Lovely Bones


Welcome one and all to our very first monthly Book Club Discussion Post! I hope you've all had time to finish this month's selection so we get lots of participation!

My brain reserves are low at the moment, so I stole/borrowed/whatever some discussion questions from www.readinggroupguides.com. So sue me.

Let the fun begin!!!!

First, give your general opinions/impressions about the book, then attack any of the following prompts as you may or may not desire!

1. In Susie's Heaven, she is surrounded by things that bring her peace. What would your Heaven be like? Is it surprising that in Susie's inward, personal version of the hereafter there is no God or larger being that presides?

2. Why does the author include details about Mr. Harvey's childhood and his memories of his mother? By giving him a human side, does Sebold get us closer to understanding his motivation? Sebold explained in an interview about the novel that murderers "are not animals but men," and that is what makes them so frightening. Do you agree?

3. Discuss the way in which guilt manifests itself in the various characters - Jack, Abigail, Lindsay, Mr. Harvey, Len Fenerman.

4. "Pushing on the inbetween" is how Susie describes her efforts to connect with those she has left behind on Earth. Have you ever felt as though someone was trying to communicate with you from "the inbetween"?

5. Does Buckley really see Susie, or does he make up a version of his sister as a way of understanding, and not being too emotionally damaged by, her death? How do you explain tragedy to a child? Do you think Susie's parents do a good job of helping Buckley comprehend the loss of his sister?

6. Can Abigail's choice to leave her family be justified?

7. Why does Abigail leave her dead daughter's photo outside the Chicago Airport on her way back to her family? Did this bother you?

8. Susie observes that "The living deserve attention, too." She watches her sister, Lindsay, being neglected as those around her focus all their attention on grieving for Susie. Jack refuses to allow Buckley to use Susie's clothes in his garden. When is it time to let go?

9. In The Lovely Bones, adult relationships (Abigail and Jack, Ray's parents) are dysfunctional and troubled, whereas the young relationships (Lindsay and Samuel, Ray and Susie, Ray and Ruth) all seem to have depth, maturity, and potential. What is the author saying about young love? About the trials and tribulations of married life?

10. Is Jack Salmon allowing himself to be swallowed up by his grief? Is there a point where he should have let go? How does his grief process affect his family? Is there something admirable about holding on so tightly to Susie's memory and not denying his profound sadness?

11. Alice Sebold seems to be saying that out of tragedy comes healing. Susie's family fractures and comes back together, a town learns to find strength in each other. Do you agree that good can come of great trauma?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Peeing on Sticks

Ok, I'll be the first to admit - I like peeing on sticks. I estimate that I've probably peed on approximately 100 pregnancy tests in my lifetime between the 20 collective months I've spent trying to get pregnant and my normal state of pregnancy paranoia when I'm not trying to get pregnant. When I was trying to conceive, I'd buy the dip strip tests in bulk. Some cycles, I'd test crazy early like 7 days past ovulation (when the egg usually is just starting to think about implanting), knowing full well that the likelihood of a line staring back at me to be nil. When I did get a positive test, I'd test daily (er...multiple times daily) for at least the first week, just to make sure it was real!

But whatever. There is just something about the anticipation! The feeling like you can't breathe, and your hands shaking, breaking out in a sweat, and trying to think of something, anything!, else to pass the time, but not being able to think about anything else at all! Now, I wouldn't call it fun, but its definitely exciting. I'll probably pee on another 100 sticks in my lifetime too.

But, here is one stick I'm not so sure we should be patronizing...

No, your eyes do not deceive you. First Response now purports to have a pee stick that will actually tell you if you are fertile or not. Seriously?? Supposedly, it detects the level of Follicle Stimulating Horomone (FSH) present in your urine on day 3 of your cycle. If the level of FSH is high, that may be an indication that your reserve of eggs is low in quantity or quality. Apparently, the darker the line, the higher your FSH levels. Again, seriously?? How is that for scientific?

In my opinion, there are a multitude of problems with this product. First off, low ovarian reserve doesn't necessarily mean you are infertile. I have known several women who have gotten pregnant on their own despite having low ovarian reserve. I can just envision these poor women staring at the dark lines on this test and sobbing their eyes out at the belief that their chances of conceiving are gone - based on a home test!

Second, there are many other conditions that can cause infertility, so a negative test may give women a false sense of confidence, raising their hopes when they may have other issues that need medical attention. Or perhaps delay a woman from seeing advice if she has difficulty conceiving.

This is something a woman should find out from her doctor. A medical professional equipped to scientifically interpret the precise results of an FSH test, who will also run a multitude of other tests as well, and explain to the woman exactly what this means. This is not a situation where self help is a good idea.

Oh, and I should mention that a 2-pack is approximately $25.00. Anything to make a buck, right??