Saturday, November 14, 2009

Speech

I know, I know, I neglect my blog. I need to get back into this, because it's good for me.

At Noah's 18 month appointment, I mentioned to the pediatrician that Noah was really only using 3 words (Mama, Daddy, and NO). The books all say 18 month-olds should have 8-10 words, but the pediatrician felt Noah (who has always hit milestones WAY early) should have closer to 25 words, and he suggested we get him evaluated through the regional center. I knew then that Noah would probably catch up on his own, but the evaluation and therapy are free, and that's an awfully good price for peace of mind.

So we went through the process, and Noah was diagnosed with a 50% speech delay, and we started taking him to speech therapy once a week. By the time we started therapy he was already saying 10-ish words, but in the last few weeks he has really taken off. I don't think it actually has anything to do with the "therapy" (which consists of a very nice lady playing with him for an hour and enunciating like crazy). I think he just didn't want to talk until he got it right. We're not there yet, but here's what we have:
  • Amma (Mama)
  • Addy (Daddy)
  • A-bye (Bye-bye)
  • NO!
  • Yeah
  • Eh-pahle (Yes, please)
  • Leeees (please!)
  • Taaajuuu (Thank you)
  • Dyyycheen (Diaper change)
  • Poop
  • Toot*
  • Og (dog)
  • Cow
  • Moo
  • Itty! or Eee-ta! (kitty)
  • Ball
  • Car
  • Ruck (truck)
  • Tree**
  • Br (bird)
  • Coh (cold)
  • Ot (hot)
  • Toes
  • Owie
  • Uh-oh
  • Mo (more)
  • Jooos (juice)
  • Baba (bottle)
*Noah has started telling us when he's poopy and needs a change by grabbing his butt and shrieking "Poop! Dyyycheen!" Freaking. Adorable. The other day he farted - forcefully - then ran over to me and said "Dycheen?" I told him, "No, I don't think you're poopy. You just tooted, dude." He pondered this for a minute, looked up at me and asked, "I toot?" "Yep, you tooted." His eyes lit up, and for the next hour he ran around the kitchen, chanting "Toot! Toot! Toot!" Definitely a boy.

**We were in Target the other day, and when we passed by the Christmas tree section Noah FREAKED OUT and pointed and kicked and said "TREE!! TREE!!! TREE!!!" and he cried when we left the area. I've been thinking about it... I think I'd freak out too if I didn't know what Christmas was and I walked into I store I'm very familiar with and suddenly ran into an elevated sparkly indoor forest. Just wait till we set up the tree IN OUR HOUSE, kid. The world will never cease to amaze.

My favorite thing these days is the "counting" and "spelling". Whenever the kid passes me his magna-doodle or a crayon, I always write his name and say the letters "N-O-A-H". He started saying it with me, and now he'll just spontaneously say "ehhh, aaaaah, ayyy, unh!" Not even close to the actual letter, but with perfect inflection. Love it. And if you start counting, "One..." he'll usually chime in with "oooo, eeee", which just melts my heart. Love this kid.

And here's my current favorite picture-- on the slide at Hillcrest Park. The amount of static electricity on that playground is astounding!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poll #2

So, since you’ve all been so helpful with the email thing, I have another little poll for you all—one with much bigger implications.

I’m hating life right now. I hate leaving to go to work. I hate that my job isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be. I hate that I put so much energy and effort into work that I come home too tired to appreciate my family. Noah has a speech delay (more on that later), and I hate feeling like that’s my fault, or that I could have done something about that if I had more time/energy. I hate that we have to take vacation days to get a day off together. But most of all, I hate not having a plan. Change is required.

This is where you all come in, because I can’t decide the best course of action. I’ve kind of narrowed it down to three options.
  1. Quit. Soon. Like, November-ish.
    Leaving my job would be the quick fix. It would keep me home, relax me, and be fantastic change. But it would also mean a drastic change in our financial situation, and we’d definitely be living in the red for a while. In short, it’s the ultimate goal, but it’s probably not smart to jump in so quickly.

  2. Quit, eventually. Like, next year-ish.
    What would be most prudent would be to stick it out at work until we’re ready for baby #2, take advantage of the fantastic maternity leave benefits, and then… not return to work. That gives us time to ease into a new financial lifestyle, and really makes the most sense. But it requires another year (at least) of work crappiness until we get there… and at that point I will have missed most of Noah’s toddler years at home. Is that really worth it? I can’t decide.

  3. Stick it out, for the long haul.
    However much I complain, I DO love my job. I love the history, I love the heritage, I love the people, I even like the work. Things are just really out of whack right now, and there’s no opportunity for advancement in the immediate advancement due to the economy. It’s a huge de-motivator for me, but if I knew I was in it long-term, I could stick it out and be happy. Plus, big things are coming, and I’d love to be there for the new openings. I like the idea of having a career. But it means giving up on staying home—and that would be a tough one.

Like I said before, I want it all. Help!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Poll

Okay, after at least 12 years, I'm ditching my Hotmail email account. I've hated Hotmail for a long time, but I keep it around because it's the address everyone knows. I'm hopping on the gmail bandwagon.

I could just be "current Hotmail account name" at gmaildotcom. But the whole point is to get something new... maybe something NOT tied to a nickname I was given at 14. Something I could put at the top of a resume without feeling ashamed. But, unfortunately, myfirstname.lastname at gmaildotcom is taken, and so are all the logical combinations of it. (This is the first time I have ever resented my fantastic married name. MyfirstnameMaidenname, of course, is available.)

So I need your help:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All of it

I've started about a thousand blog posts in my head recently. I committed about a hundred of them to draft, in one form or another-- iPhone note, bullet points at a boring meeting, a Post-it, and even an Outlook draft. None of them are worth posting.

What I want to write about right now is this internal conflict I've been feeling for the last six months or so. On the one hand, my life is wonderful. On the other hand, there are Things I want for myself and my family that I want to attain so badly it makes my brain hurt. In the middle are Things of Great Suckitude that have been plaguing me since layoffs in March.

I haven't blogged about any of this because
  1. My life is really wonderful
  2. I don't want to sound like a whiner, because my life is wonderful
  3. I'm not 100% certain of my blog audience and the last thing you want is to say something you'll regret... and end up dooced.
  4. It's really selfish (and so typically American) to want more and more and more, without ever appreciating what you really have.
  5. I'm not sure my desires are realistic or attainable, so I've been trying to surgically remove them from my brain. I have failed.
So, here goes:

I want a job that I love, that I care about, that makes me feel like I'm making a difference in people's lives. I have this job, or at least I used to... lately I feel so unmotivated that I'm finding myself-- for the first time ever-- really dreading going to work each day. I know it's only temporary, that it will all come full circle in just a few years. But that doesn't make tomorrow any easier.

I want to stay at home with Noah. We're closer to that point now than I ever thought we could be, but not close enough to make it a reality. I love my days off with the Boy. He's funny and engaging and I find enjoyment in little things like making pico de gallo from scratch and scrubbing the cabinets with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I get to the end of my "weekend" and think, I could get used to this.

So, in short, I want to work and I want to enjoy it, and I want to stay home and love it. I want the impossible. I want it so bad my bones ache. Like an itch you can't scratch, this is a desire that can't be attained, and I have no idea what to do about it.

And then there's the guilt. Because, let's face it, I already have it all. A house we can afford, a husband I love, a kid so cute he can light up entire cities, a job with a fantastic company anyone would be proud to work for. Isn't it unbelievably selfish to want more?

And then I think, Well, I don't want it for me, exactly. I want it for Noah. I want Noah to say that his mom was always there to pick him up from school, that she made fantastic dinners and thought up the best games for him to play. And for me, if I have to work, shouldn't I love it? Is that so much to ask? I want that for Noah, too-- if I have to work, I want him to be able to say that his Wonderful Uncle Vincent taught him about Batman and Star Trek while his mom worked at the best playground a parent can provide for her child, and that she came home happy and fulfilled, with enough energy left over to make dinner and play games.

A couple months ago, I made a deal with myself: Stick it out through November. If Things still Suck after Thanksgiving, I can quit my job (saving me from a super-sucky Christmas). We'll make it work financially. What would be more prudent would be to stick it out until we're ready for Kid the Second, so as to utilize the fantastic maternity leave options offered by my company and the great state of California. But we're nowhere near that point now, and while the last 18 months have indeed flown by, if I were to measure that in 10-hour shifts my head would explode.

I don't have a good conclusion for this post. Which is the other reason why I haven't written it-- how on earth do you end a post about your own selfishness? It's so arrogant to think I can pull up to the drive-thru of life, and when asked for my order, answer: Hi, I'd like it All, please? That's right, everything on the menu. Now, preferably. Thanks bunches! and then expect to be directed to the pick-up window, bypassing any form of payment.

So anyway, that's where I've been. That's where I'm at. Cute toddler post coming soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The difference between men and women

When I go to the cupboard for my morning cereal and discover that we're out of clean spoons, I
  1. Check to see if the dishwasher is clean (it is)
  2. Check cupboards for plastic spoons (we have plenty)
  3. Wash a spoon and use it.
Presented with the same situation yesterday, Ben ate his Cheerios with an extra-large serving spoon. Today, he ate Frosted Mini-Wheats with a gravy spoon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Whirlwind

A couple quick photos from the last couple weeks:

We got this really cool sandbox/water table thing that Noah had a blast with before June gloom set in. In hindsight, it's not the most brilliantly designed thing... the whole half water/ half sand table is going to quickly become the table filled with wet sand. Whatever. It's still cool.

Noah loves keys... he especially loves THROWING them. Particularly in Target. But you better pick them up and give them back to him, or screaming will ensue. And better your keys than your wallet. I'm just saying.

But I had no idea he knew what the keys were actually for...


And every now and then Noah throws me these silly little faces... and I can see exactly what he's going to look like when he grows up. He's a little snotty in this picture (literally, not figuratively... although... well, no, he's just snotty), and this is before his botched overpriced haircut (see how his hair is IN his ears?), but I love it anyway. Look at that kid! Can you believe that this:

was a full year ago?! Time flies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lessons in Parenting

Micha was here last week, and as we were chatting on the couch, Noah picked something up off the floor (a crayon? a ball-point pen? a found Cheerio? I don't remember) and proceeded to put it in his mouth. Micha, good honorary aunt that she is, started to reach for Noah to take the object away. I interjected with the first thing that popped in my head: "Meh, it's probably non-toxic." Then I made a joke about how many times a day I think that to myself.

I'm trying to pinpoint the moment when I stopped worrying (and caring) about Germ Exposure. Maybe it was when Noah became mobile and I realized that the only way to keep the kid from putting EVERYTHING in his mouth would be to stand at his side constantly-- and I really didn't/don't have that kind of energy (and who wants that kind of mother?). Or maybe it was way back when he started sucking on his own toes. Really, the only way to keep anything out of this kid's mouth would have been to sew elizabethan collars into all of his onesies. (Which, come to think of it, could be one of the inaugural items at Amanda's Baby Emporium. We'll keep it next to the Baby Ambien.)

So anyway. I'm eating leftover chow mein for breakfast (cold - yum!), and Noah just trotted over (no, really, he trots), patted me on the arm, opened his mouth wide like a baby bird and said, "Uah!" (which means either "I would like a bite, please", "May I have some, Mommy?", or "ME! FOOD! NOW!" You be the judge.). I gave him a noodle, and while trying to extricate it from my fork, he dropped it on the floor. I reached down to get it, but I swear, this kid's floor-to-mouth reflex is FAST. Fast like a frog's tongue to a dragonfly. As Noah walked away with half a noodle hanging out of his mouth I thought, "Meh, it's non-toxic." And turned back to my blog.

I am an excellent mother.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Speaking of our litigious society

Noah's crib has been recalled.

Before you get all up in a tizzy, you should know that it seems like 50% of the baby products out there get recalled (especially cribs and mattresses), so this news was hardly shocking to me. Apparently, if you kick hard enough, your baby COULD weaken the wooden slats of the crib. And those slats COULD break. Which COULD pose a hazard to your baby. *eye roll* And we COULD all be hit by a devastating tsunami tomorrow. Better shrink-wrap the laptop! Anyway.

The question is, what to do?

Here's how it works. You fill out a form with your crib information and the company sends you a "recall kit" (done). The recall kit includes an "acknowledgment form" in which I promise not to sell or give away my recalled crib. Then I take apart the crib, send the company the bolts and screws, and ONE OR TWO WEEKS LATER, I get a voucher to go to Babies R Us and buy a new crib. There's no mention of where my child is supposed to sleep for one or two weeks while his disassembled crib litters his bedroom.

Option 1: Go for it. The kid can sleep in his playpen for two weeks. I wasn't going to want to re-use this crib anyway, since Noah gnawed it to pieces while cutting some teeth. Hooray for new (free!) stuff.

Option 2: Go for it... in a few months. Wait until I think Noah's done destroying this crib, get the new one, use it. Gently.

Option 3: Go for it, but don't use the new crib. Keep it neatly boxed in the garage for some future child (mine or a friend's or someone on eBay's - who knows?). Go to Ikea and get Noah a cheap boring standard crib or a really cool big kid bed (it flips over!).

Option 4: Do nothing. Too much work.

Help!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A vacation!

We just got back from our week-long vacation in Cancun. We've been saving up Ben's frequent flyer miles, so we flew first-class for free; and we used Ben's hotel points to stay at the Westin Resort for 7 nights for $150. Hooray for super-cheap vacations!

I had big plans to post several times during the week, but internet access was 150 pesos a day (more than $10), and we just weren't in the room enough to pay that much. I ducked into two internet cafes during the week ($2 for the first 20 minutes), and each time I realized that I am wholly, completely, irrevocably addicted to the internet. It's an issue I'm sure I should address... someday.

But anyway. Getting to Cancun was really hectic. The couple weeks leading up to our vacation were stressful and busy and exhausting, and when we finally arrived it was hot and sticky and confusing, and by the time we got to our room I was wondering why we even bothered. Then I stepped out onto our balcony and saw this:


And I knew it was worth it.

We arrived in Mexico on Saturday, and the swine flu travel advisory was issued on either Sunday or Monday. We were completely disconnected from the world - no newspaper, no internet, and we didn't even turn on the TV until Tuesday evening. Which is, of course, when the hysteria started. But we decided to stay and finish our vacation. There were no reported cases of the virus in the state of Quintana Roo until today, and I'm just not a worrier by nature. I'm worried about the state of tourism in Mexico now, though - especially for Becky and Matt's sake, since their jobs are based on tourism - because Cancun was a ghost town by the time we left on Saturday.

There are a lot of things you can do in Mexico that you can't do in America. A lot of them are simply because Mexico does not share the overly litigious culture that results in warning labels on socks and liability waivers on every street corner. As a result, we were able to do things with Noah that just wouldn't happen in the States:

Like getting a kiss from a parrot:
Holding exotic lizards

Posing with a passing crocodile in its habitat

Getting in the pen to feed the deer
Allowing wild monkeys to eat off a stroller tray
That was all at the Crococun Zoo - which is less a zoo and more an interactive animal tour. It was so cool! Noah got to touch all the animals, and he had a blast.

We also went to Xel-Ha, which was super-expensive but SO worth it. I would have gone back a second day if we had time. They had baby-sized life jackets, and we were able to take Noah out in the water while we took turns snorkeling with Becky, Matt, and Riley. Most of my pictures from Xel-Ha are crappy (I bought a waterproof disposable camera. It lived up to its name, but the pictures turned out horribly), but I love this one:

I could go on and on. It was such a relaxing week. Noah was a fantastic traveler - even on the plane rides. It was great to see Becky! We weren't together all week, but we did get a little sister time. It was a really, really nice vacation. We ate GREAT food, had AMAZING margaritas, did a little shopping, did a LOT of swimming... and actually managed to not get sunburned!

My two favorite pictures:
Noah trying to give me some sand:

The turquoise ocean at our hotel:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Hi. I'm still here. It's been a crappy month.

Layoffs happened last week at my work, and it was very VERY stressful. I'm still employed, but I lost a co-worker of three years, and my boss (who I LOVE) has been "reassigned" (demoted) and moved to another area. We didn't know until Friday whether we were "safe" or not, and my BlackBerry was practically smoking with the number of emails and messages I was getting from friends - "I'm being called to conference room X", "So-and-so is getting walked out", "Manager X is demoted", "It's been a pleasure working with you". I hope I never have to face another week like that ever again. Ever. Again.

And now the real stress begins - will I like my new boss and co-worker? Will my workload be impacted? Will my days off or hours change? How much is my life about to suck?

Ugh. Let's talk about something else.

A couple weeks ago I was going to write about my ridiculous obsession with finding a new stroller for our vacation to Cancun next month. Not that I don't like my current stroller, but it's really big and bulky and it weighs almost 30 pounds - not conducive to international travel. Like having a Cadillac when you need a Civic. And we could have purchased a cheap-o umbrella stroller, but I'm way too tall to push them comfortably. And (as always) I wanted it all - huge canopy, breathable fabrics, cup holders, gigantic basket for storage, and a compact fold - and I wanted it to be light as a feather.

So an obsession was born. No joke - I had an Excel spreadsheet put together, rating the different features of each stroller and noting the amazon dot com review for each. I probably did 20 hours of research - I am now a stroller expert. I liked this one, but for the price, it seemed cheaply made. We almost got this one, but the storage was tiny, it had a crappy canopy, and there was no tray for Noah. I finally decided on the Baby Jogger City Mini (I felt justified in spending the extra money since I now definitely have a job). It has the coolest fold I've ever seen. So instead of getting the Civic, we spent the extra bucks for the Beetle. How very like me. :)

That's what I was going to write about. But now our decisions are much more complex.

Ben's company did not win the contract they were bidding on, and so he was given his layoff notice last week. (Like I said, it's been a crappy month.) But, before you feel too sorry for him - Ben has THREE job offers on the table, all of them offering him a raise. But he has until Tuesday to make his decision, and each of the companies would provide drastically different working environments and futures.

Company A - Ben's current company. There aren't any positions in LA, but he's been offered a position in San Diego at a 5% raise. It's a leadership position, which is what he really wants for the future, but it's a CRAPPY commute, at least three days a week. Plus, Company A already offered him a fantastic severance package, and it's hard to pass that up! BUT, Company A has a great corporate culture - one that directly inspired the theme for Noah's room. It's hard to leave that behind. And working where I do, no one appreciates the importance of that better than me.

Company B - the winners of the contract. Basically, Ben would get to keep his current job (at a 5% increase), but would just work at a different company. However, this company has a completely different culture. Instead of building things, they're a consulting firm, run by "partners". Currently, Ben reports to an AF Captain. How's that for a change? And he'd have to wear a tie every day. But, these people REALLY want him, and I have already asked him to name his price - it sounds like they'll do almost anything to get him.

Company C - I think Ben likes this company better. They're offering him a different job, but still in LA. We won't know what the offer is until tomorrow, but it's probably going to be the highest pay. But, it doesn't offer the immediate career advancement of Company A. But, it's closer to home. And he'd get a raise AND Company A's severance package. But he'd really piss off Company B, who he'd still have to work with regularly.

But, but, but. Ben's been droning on and on all week about each company's 401k/pension/retirement plans (often while I was short-circuiting my BlackBerry getting news from my own job), and it matters, but I'm not factoring it into this decision as much. After all, at 31, you don't join a company for the retirement package. And you wouldn't stay at a job you hated just because they contribute more to your 401k.

So that's where we are. Each day brings a new decision. Some frivolous, some life-changing... each of them more exhausting than the next. Is this what adulthood is all about? I must have missed the memo.

If you made it to the end of this, you deserve some Cute. So, here you go: this is from our trip to Big Bear over Ben's birthday (I guess the whole month wasn't so bad). Noah's first snow!