Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Spy

What/who do you spy in this picture?! 
That's right!  Tomas curled up in the aftermath of M's play things one night.  I think he was exhausted from a day of playing protective guard dog over her. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The next Iron Chef

M was starting to show interest in "cooking" and everything that has to do with the kitchen a few months ago and I've been dying to get her a kitchen set. I was going to wait until Christmas to get her one, but with her interest and a casual visit to a store that had a half dozen Stage 2 kitchen sets on display we both caved.  She was in love with them from the minute she saw them.  When she saw the first kitchen she pointed and said, "Este! este! este!" (This! This! This!) and wriggled out of my arms and ran to it.  (Have I mentioned that M has two speeds?!  Stop- to eat, watch Barney, or sleep only- and run.)  Even without the fake food and pots and pans she was in love, so we picked one out and brought it home. 

That night after she had gone to bed, A.R. spent an hour putting it together and then I put on all the stickers and it sat in our kitchen overnight waiting for her the next morning.  As a side note: A.R. is no longer allowed to sticker kid toys...he messed up putting them on M's Dora ATV and she has since ripped half of the stickers off of it!  Kid does not miss a thing.  The next morning when we brought her downstairs she spotted her new kitchen in an instant and wriggled out of my arms and ran to it with the hugest smile on her face.  It was like a little ray of sunshine was shining down on it from the heavens highlighting it in all it's glory.

M loves it and definitely has some room to grow into it as she can't quite reach the microwave yet and was only just able to reach the cupboards in the last week and only on tippy toes.  M "cooks" for us everyday usually when I'm cooking our dinner and she'll bring you samples to try.  It is so adorable when she walks up stirring an imaginary concoction in her pot and offers you a taste.  The kitchen also came with a play phone and she regularly gets phone calls for us and hands her phone off to us to chat on. :)  I can say that I've found plastic play food upstairs in our bathroom (her kitchen is downstairs in our kitchen), in her diaper bag, in my purse, under the couch, in the dogs' dishes and water bowl, and in her toy box so far.  She takes this cooking thing seriously and really surrounds herself with food. ;)  Watching her play with her kitchen set reminds me of my favorite Strawberry Shortcake kitchen set (that really smelled like strawberries!) from when I was little.  I just hope M is lucky enough to get an Easy Bake Oven which I was never lucky enough to own...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I have to say that I absolutely LOVED this book!  It was set back in Biblical times and is supposed to be the story of Dinah from the Book of Genesis Chapter 34.  The story is from Dinah's perspective and depicts the life of women in that era.  I found it completely fascinating how the author protrayed what biblical times were like for women in Dinah's era.  Some of her writing is based off research of events that really happened in that era, but the rest is pure fabrication and I find her thoughts and details entrancing.  After reading this novel, I believe I will now dabble around and read more historical fiction novels.

Dinah is the only surviving daughter of Jacob and Leah in the Old Testament times.  This story is of her life from birth to death.  I found myself laughing and crying with her and I could easily relate to her character.  Perhaps it's because the author depicted her as a fellow Piscean?!  I love the details Anita provided in the story and reading about life where men had more than one wife (and it was acceptable) was interesting.

Even A.R. commented on how I just couldn't put the book down throughout the last half of it.  I had a few super late nights up reading this one which, to me, is a sign of a good book.  Here is a link to Anita's website with more details and FAQs on this novel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

4th of July 2011

I know this post is late in the game by over a week, but life is busy these days with a toddler on the loose and gorgeous summer days to revel in.  I wanted to wish all of my readers a very happy (belated) Independence Day.  I hope you all enjoyed the cookouts, swimming, family time, an extra day off of work- if you were so lucky, and I hope you took a moment to remember what Independence Day is really all about even if you aren't a history buff (um, ME!). 
This 4th of July I took time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy my family...my husband, my daughter, and our two fur babies.  It was nice to slow down and enjoy our time together.  On Saturday, we drove up to Massachusetts to visit my ailing Grandmother.  A visit from her Great Granddaughter gave her renewed energy and a huge smile on her face (but, I'm still worried about her alone up there) and we stocked her fridge with frozen meals and goodies until my mom gets here in a couple weeks for her surgery.
On Monday, we watched fireworks in the one local town that actually had fireworks on 4th of July with some of my in-laws and it was the perfect ending to a great long weekend.  As an aside, can you explain to me why more towns don't do their fireworks on the actual holiday?  For instance, Hartford didn't have their fireworks until the weekend after the 4th on July 9th!  They did the same thing the year before and the 4th fell on an actual weekend day.  A little birdy told me it was due to budgeting and having to pay holiday pay and OT to the on duty police and fire fighters, but I'm not buying it.  Let's celebrate our country's independence on the actual holiday just like we did when we were kids.  Who cares if it costs a little extra or our little ones are a bit crabby from the late night the next day.  Isn't it part of what summer is?!  I'll even throw out that it's tradition...Fireworks ON 4th of July.
Alas, I will close this post by sharing some extra pictures of our 4th of July weekend...enjoy!
With cousin Julian- 6 mo older than she is

I know...out of focus- I need a tri-pod

A day in the life...

I think most of you know that I had a hard time coming back to work after M was born.  I had always envisioned myself as the hardcore working mother with an amazing balance between home and work life.  Then, I looked into my daughter's face for the first time and my world (and dreams) changed.  I always think of the movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton for some reason when I look back at my maternity leave and how I felt having to come back to work and leave my daughter behind.  I hated the thought of it with a passion.  Dropping her off with my parents-in-law for the day would leave me in tears on the short drive to work from their house or sobbing in bed at night because I didn't want to have to do it all again the next day.  I knew M was in excellent care, but I couldn't help but feel that the excellent care should come from me or A.R not my in-laws who have already raised four boys of their own.
Luckily, my company is large with lots of excellent employee benefits and allows its employees to do flexible schedules (whether you're a mom or dad, injured, sick, or just trying to save on fuel costs by not having to commute everyday).  I wasn't sure if my boss would go for it, but I filled out a proposal and hoped for the best.  I was stunned when she approved it and we did a trial run.  In the earlier days I did a compressed and slightly reduced work week where I had Wednesdays off and worked 4 days for a total of 36 hours, but with having to break for pumping my boss didn't feel like I was getting the hours in.  I was devastated thinking that she'd take the opportunity away from me, but she made a suggestion and I asked for some time to crunch numbers, speak with A.R., and make a decision.  Well, the numbers crunched nicely, A.R. was 110% supportive, and we decided to go for it.  I feel so blessed to have this oppurtunity and I appreciate the added balance it gives my work and home life.  I now work a 4-day work week and have every Wednesday off.  I get an extra day home with my girl and a chance to get out of the house and do adult things and interact with my coworkers.  I lost pay and vacation time doing the reduced schedule, but whenever I look into M's sweet face as she smiles sleepily and pads around upstairs in her footed jammies with hair all askew, it is beyond worth it.
Deep down now that I've had a taste of that one extra day at home, I crave more.  I hope one day to cut back another day, but it won't be anytime in the near future (unless I get the big ole pink slip due to outsourcing- more to come on that!).  I still feel a twinge of guilt thinking of the student loans I'm paying for a Bachelor's in Accounting and an MBA knowing that I would rather be home than utilizing my degrees, but the time will come when my kid(s) are grown and I no longer need to be home with them and alas they will be put to great use.  So, back to the point of this post...what do I do on my day home with Miss M?!  Here is a typical day: 

7:15/7:30 M wakes up and I sing her "Good Morning" song as I change her diaper and then nurse her

8:00-8:45 We start some laundry, she "helps" me of course, and I usually do one cleaning item on my chore list whether it's cleaning the toilets, vacuuming one floor, or dusting the upstairs/downstairs

9:00 breakfast!

9:30 play time with M mixed with more chores for me.  I usually make a game out of them or we go for a walk/run if it's nice out.  I've also treated her to watching me do Jillian Michael's 30DS in this time slot.  She thinks I'm a giant dork.

10:45 snack time!

11/11:30 M goes down for a nap while Mommy does things she can't do easily with M awake like shower, computer work, mopping, cleaning with heavy chemicals.  Sometimes if I'm super exhausted I try to sleep at least a half hour while she's asleep, but it is rare these days.

12:30-1:30 M wakes up somewhere in this time frame depending on the day and as soon as she's up we have lunch

2:00-4/4:30 Errands begin.  They can include going to the vet, doctor appointments, grocery store, Target, bank, library, play dates, walk/run, play time, snack time, etc.

5:00 Start dinner

6:30 Papi comes home and we eat dinner!

8:15/30 Bedtime routine begins.  We call it triple "B". Bath. Boob. Bed. ;)  Now we add in teeth brushing and we've implemented a brief (3 books- or she'd do it all night) story time if A.R. puts her to sleep.  Once she's weaned we'll do books every night to switch the second "B" in triple "B" to Book instead of Boob. :)
As you can see my day "off" isn't really a day of relaxation. I barely ever get to nap when she does anymore and she is constantly on the go.  Chasing a toddler who has two speeds (stop and run!) is a great workout!  I've attached some pictures of a recent trip to walk/jog the Farmington Heritage Trail when I was home with her on a Wednesday.  The trail is a great change of scenery for us and gets us out of the house on nice days.  It's only about 10-15 minutes from our home and is an old railway that was converted into a biking/walking trail

She was chilling as I did all the work walk/jogging!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Run, Mama! Run!

This post is so very, very late but it's better late than never, right?!  A month ago I ran in my first 5k with my older brother in Boston, MA.  Running in a 5k was an item that both my brother and I had on our bucket lists to complete and what a better way to do it (and remain motivated) than to run for charity.  We named our little team of two the Bucket Listers and set about fundraising for the HIV/AIDS Action Committe of Boston.  I'm very proud to say that we both finished the 5k in just under 45 minutes (my time was 44:45) and raised $440 to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Registered and ready to run
The race was run along the Charles River in Boston with beautiful scenery and gorgeous weather.  We were also fortunate that there were no hills to contest on the race route! :P  My brother made the trip to Boston from sunny Florida and brought his boyfriend along with him.  It was so great to finally meet him and discover that he is absolutely perfect for my brother.  They are such a cute couple and both look so happy together.
Almost to the finish line...
A.R. got to bond with my brother's boyfriend while we ran the race (they were our cheerleaders along with Miss M) and said that he was such a nice guy.  M loved watching as the racers finished and cheered and clapped them along.  There were about 700 racers on race day and the winner finished in just under 17 minutes (EEK!), so she had a lot of cheering to do before her Uncle and I made it to the finish line.
We finished!
After the race we all hung out for the health fair that the walk was hosting and got great samples from various companies that sell prodcuts at local Whole Food stores.  Then, we stuck around for some of the entertainment after the walkers finished their walk before calling it a day and heading out to Fanuel Hall for a late lunch at Cheer's.
My brother's bf, me, big bro
Both my brother and I have "the bug" now and are itching to do another race.  He lives in prime 5k country down in Florida, so he could do one almost every weekend if he wanted to.  I'm going to look to do another one the end of August here in Connecticut and maybe a third one in October??!!  Running in the race and finishing was such a high.  Now, I want to do it again to improve on my time and better my own fitness level.  I hope to use 5ks as a motivation to keep my new gym routine up.  Maybe someday I'll be able to try a 10k...HA!