Sunday, September 19, 2010

Frank's Turn

The house is almost quiet right now. I left the TV on in the bedroom because I wasn't expecting inspiration. It's a little after midnight, and I have been awake (except a 2-ish hour nap) since around 2am. I need to go to bed. For my sanity. For Olivia. And I'm so very tired but I can't.

In my adultlife (read: after college), I have been hospitalized 5 times: once for the birth of my daughter, 3 times via ER visits for my colon, and once for the surgery trying to fix my colon. Olivia has been hospitalized once for her surgery but has spent quite a large percentage of her young 17 months in hospitals and around doctors. Both my parents worked in a hospital, so in some ways I am immune to the distaste others have for the experience. Or numb. Or desensitized.

And Frank? No surgeries. His last trip to the ER was in 2003, shortly before we met when his face unfortunately met up with a fist it didn't like. He's the hand-holder. The question-asker. The rememberer.

Until this morning. Until 2am. Until he passed out in the bathroom, probably from waking up suddenly on the couch, grabbing the monitor, and quickly jogging upstairs (he'll thank me for not talking about the drool). Until he fell so loudly I woke up shouting thinking the baby had fallen out of her crib (I'll leave out "again"). Until I barged into the bathroom after realizing the baby was fine. Until I found him non-responsive on the bathroom floor, head cradled between the tiled wall and the ceramic (porcelain? heavy non-plastic, non-porous material?) side of the tub. Until I couldn't rouse him or move him (and I think I lost a little breath in that moment). Until I yelled in the hopes that someone would appear to help or inspire or instruct me on what to do (no one did, it's not like the movies). Until he woke up about 90 seconds later while I was running around the house looking for my missing purse (it was hidden under a jacket, hanging on the bannister) with my cell phones (damn the choice of bypassing the landline) or even my lost glasses (located on the bed, folded neatly, where I apparently set them before falling asleep) so I could see (blind without those damn glasses) the numbers on the phone: 9-1-1 (no need now that he was moving). Until he, disoriented and groggy, refused to believe that he fell or hit his head (the bump would prove him wrong). Until I called his parents to come sit with the baby so I could drive him to the ER. Until the long 20 minute ride to BMH. Until the ER check-in and repeating the tale to every nurse, every resident, every staff member who asked. Until he was given a battery of tests that came back normal. Until he was admitted to the hospital for observation and to rule out scary things like a stroke, seizures, or heart problems (they did or will). Until then.

So now it's Frank's turn. And we wait for the "all clear" light. And the warnings to not do this or not do that. And the scripts for outpatient testing and follow-ups. It will happen; we are not concerned. It's different being on this side. Feeling unscheduled separation.

And until then, the house is almost quiet right now. And I'm so very tired.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conclusion: POST PARTY

And when we got home, Olivia had so much energy, we had to have ANOTHER dance party in our living room. I've never seen her twirl in so many circles.

video

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Part 2: DANCE PARTY!

If I could add audio to this blog post I would. Although, I'd be torn between the famous musical prelude to 2001: A Space Odyssey and the sweet sounds of DJ Lance Rock's footsteps in the opening scene of Yo Gabba Gabba! Perhaps a combo? Because the Yo Gabba Gabba Live! There's a Party in My City Tour was awwwwwwesooooooommmme!

There's something not-at-all magical about overpriced tickets to a children's concert, but I will say this, WE had a blast. While Olivia certainly enjoyed herself (as seen below, waiting in anticipation of the fantasticness to come), Frank and I had more fun. Even better, we happened to sit in front of one uber-excited mom and her sons. That made the show all the more memorable.

The tour did a nice job incorporating all the favorite aspects of the tv version. Liv danced her diapered tush off, but really, did you expect any different from a mini-me?

video

And when she couldn't stand anymore, Frank or I held her in our laps so she could sway while simultaneously giving her feet a rest. So, it's a good thing the coordinators made us buy her a seat, huh?! Hey kids! That's sarcasm!

Steel Train was the guest on the "Super Music Friends Show," and sang some rockin' song that I cannot remember. I was a little bummed that The Roots didn't make an appearance, but the Emmy's were that evening, so I guess they get a pass. Ben Franklin did the dancey dance... I think his memory is going in his older age but it was cute. And then there was....

BIZ MARKIE!

He did his usual, Biz' Beat of the Day. Olivia now tries to do the beat of the day, which I am trying desperately to catch on film. It's adorable. Side note: the parents were totally far more enthusiastic for Biz than the kids. You can see them above rushing the stage. He was letting kids come up on stage to do the beat in the mic but if you look closely, you won't see many kids... Just making an observation.

And then it was over. Just like that. We bought the CD, so Liv rocked out the whole ride home. Biz' Beat included.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 2 (or Lookin' Good, Feelin' Good)

Day 1, Sunday: I woke up weighing less than yesterday so I quick jumped on the Wii Fit to make it official - .7 lbs lost. Vindication! Spent just shy of 2 hours doing yard work -- ahh the joys of homeownership! However, this doozy of a structureless workout burned over 500 calories (and probably about $45 at Home Depot...), and I followed it up with a fabulous treadmill stint that hit 2.5 miles running at a 12 minute pace. I sped it up for the last .2 miles and still felt good. I just may be able to pull this off!

Day 2, Labor Day Monday: I thought about doing core conditioning exercises today. Thought. This was immediately followed by a tilapia & avocado taco, crab legs, and lots of cookies. I do, however, decide to run the upcoming 5K Frank and I signed up to walk. It will be the longest distance I've run since Broad Street... oh, and it's Saturday.

Day 3, Tuesday: First day back to work. Frank helps me drop a hysterical Olivia off at daycare. I tear up because she screams "Mommy," while reaching out for me. I spend 2 hours coaxing two 2nd graders into their classroom but am glad to be back at work. After work, I hit the gym for a fantastic workout. I spend 30 minutes on the eliptical at high intensity and top it off with a 2.25 mile run. Wanting a challenge, I warm up for a mile then run 2 quarter mile interval sprints with quarter mile recovery in between. I extend the 2nd recovery and cool down for another .25 miles. I feel like a runner again.

Day 4, Wednesday: Frank has class so I do core conditioning exercises while watching Man v. Food. Nothing says work that flab off like watching a grown man stuff his mouth with fried food in order to win a prize.

Day 5, Thursday: I don't want to run too hard before the 5K on Saturday so I again warm up with the eliptical at a high intensity before running 1.65 miles (odd, yes, but my weekly total will be even) on the treadmill. I am happy to say that my easy pace was bumped up to 5.2 mph. I'm completely unstoppable (cue Rocky music).

Day 6, Friday: After experiencing multiple mishaps which include leaving the house with tea-spotted pants... I give myself a pass. Plus, I'm so exhausted from waking up at 5:30am for work that I fall asleep by 10:30pm.

Day 7, Saturday: I'm down 1.5 pounds according to my official Wii Fit weigh-in which puts me about 2 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and about 13 pounds from my pre-pre-pregnancy weight (aka, my goal). I am so psyched for the morning's run that I secretly hope I will be the only person in my age bracket, thus, winning a medal. My dream seems plausible when all of about 50 people line up at the starting line. It is, unfortunately, quickly dashed when my unhurried pace lands me at the back of the pack... of one. I keep pace with the kids running the fun run, something I enjoy. Overheard:

Kid 1: This is hard!
Kid 2: I know! I'm pooped!
The little boy in first for the fun run passes me and finishes (but I wasn't far behind him!). The course winds through a residential area here in town, which means it had plenty of slopes and a good hill here and there. I run fast enough to know that I couldn't talk except to thank the volunteers along the course. I keep a good pace and finish right where I want to be [for training purposes, of course]. I'm not sure what my official time was, but I crossed the finish line in about 33:20 - much slower than my PR but about a 10:40 pace. I'm very happy with myself because 3.1 miles, as I said above, is the longest distance I've run since Broad St. My knee felt good, and my body felt better. Because we walked to the race, I ended up running/walking about 5 miles before 9:30am.
Weekly running total: 9.5
Self-Esteem: Wonder Woman has nothing on me!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quiet Time

This moment sponsored by Mom Mom and Aunt Gina who donated the lovely, Liv-sized chair... that matched our furniture (hand-to-God, we did not special-order this).

Olivia finally has a place to sit like a big girl... and climb over... and stand on... and be bouncy on... and be the first thing that lead to a time-out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba, The Pre-Party!

MUNO! He's tall and friendly! FOOFA! She's pink and happy!

Figured it out yet? I've mentioned it before - Liv's love of the NickJr. TV show, Yo Gabba Gabba! She knows all the character's names, sings the theme song, recognizes and dances to the others songs. There's not an episode we haven't seen or DVRed. She had a birthday party centering around this theme. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Have you solved the mystery of where I might possibly be going with this?

The next three posts (this one included) will be a 3-part homage to the Yo Gabba Gabba Live! There's a Party in My City Tour. And, might I add, the expensive, all kids over the age of 1 need a ticket, tour. Olivia, when you are old enough to read this, do know that Mommy and Daddy love you very much and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and I'm sure you can't even remember that we didn't buy groceries that week...

The Pre-Party, as I'm calling it, occurred a couple of weeks before the tour and involved Muno and Foofa making an appearance at the Please Touch Museum (seriously, get a membership so I can stop talking about how fantastic that place is). Frank and I figured this would be a test run helping us determine if taking her to the show was really a good idea. Let's be honest, not many 16 month olds can sit through a live show.

Mobbed doesn't even explain the main atrium of the PTM. I stood there with Liv and Mom Mom questioning, really questioning, my decision-making abilities. Then, we saw Muno in all his cardboard cut-out glory. Had I a better camera, I may have had more pictures of Olivia and the joy she exuded standing next to him. Unfortunately, most of the shots taken by my low-tech behemoth were blurry because who in their right mind tries to ask a 16 month old to stand still during a dance party with her heroes. Oh, right, me.

Luckily my camera has a video mode. Girl's got mad skills.

video


And then, they appeared. In my mind, it occurred in slow motion. Although, in actuality, that might not be far from the truth, considering their "handlers" had to push through what felt like thousands (or hundreds) of small children, not-so-small children, and their not-at-all small but equally as excited adults. This was Olivia's face (thank you, Camera Gods, for getting the focus right).

Foofa. She really is pink and happy, folks. Totally true. Believe me, I've seen it.

After the dance party madness, we stood in line for a photo op with the Pink Goddess herself. While in line, I maaaay have prepped Olivia on what to expect. However, she did answer the questions on her own without me feeding her lines. Scouts honor.

video

Olivia meets her idol. Mommy unsuccessfully hides her excitement at being in the presence of greatness.


It was at that point that Frank and I knew we had to figure out a way to scrape up the money for tickets (sell the cats? the car?). Check back frequently for parts 2 and 3 or Dance Party and Post-Party as I refer to them.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Week 1 Report (or Hope Springs Eternal)

So this past week, I decided to start "training" for the Philly Half-Mary... now for some runners, this would involve long runs, tempo runs, fartleks (swear to God, that's a real thing, non-runners). For me, it meant boosting my mileage and running self-esteem. It worked; I'm still hopelessly optimistic of accomplishing my goal. Here's the lowdown on how it all went.

Day 1, Sunday: Hit the gym first thing instead of church. I pray while I workout. Pray = 1 part marinating on whether to really run the half-mary and 1 part get me through the workout. It is, afterall, Sunday. I spend 30 minutes warming up my knee on the bike (the one where your feet are in front of your hips, not directly under) before hitting the treadmill. I do an easy mile at a 12 minute pace. My knee feels great. I'm clearly an amazing runner and can do anything. The half-mary will be easy-peasy. I decide to top off this killer workout with some knee strengthening and abwork. Jillian Michaels has nothing on me.

Day 2, Monday: We visit preschool, and Olivia does fine until I leave to go talk to one of the directors. She spends the next 45 minutes crying hysterically and is blotchy and heaving when I walk back in. I am crushed but repeat my new mantra: It won't be like this for long. Frank works and has class, and even though he gets home earlier than expected, I decide the best way to proceed is to take the day off. After all, even professionals take a day off, right? And after this morning...

Day 3, Tuesday: Tuesdays will end up being one of my running nights when I head back to work after Labor Day, so I'm planning on hitting the gym when Frank gets home. God apparently feels I've done something wrong and has punished me with crippling stomach pains (thank you, GI system of an 80 year old). Olivia spends the day watching TV so Mommy can rest on the couch. No zoo. No gym. And Olivia starts daycare tomorrow for the morning to help her adjust more smoothly. I'm miserable.

Day 4, Wednesday: Wake up feeling physically better but mentally anxious for Liv's morning at daycare. Drop her off. She is crying mercilessly and attempting to become some sort of appendage jutting out of my torso. I leave quickly knowing in my heart that this is best and head straight for the gym. Not only will the workout get my mind off Liv's tears, but there is zero reception in the fitness center forcing me to move-on. As a result I bike for 30 minutes before running 2 miles on the treadmill. My body feels great in the moment, and since I'm coming back tomorrow, I skip the abs and weights. I feel confident that I will be ready for the half-marathon. I go home and ice the knee. Hours later, it starts throbbing. I eventually take some ibuprofen and consider rethinking my goal to running at least 10 miles of the 13.1 and walking the rest. Totally feasible and achieveable. Totally.

Day 5, Thursday: Same as yesterday regarding daycare. I'm an awful Mom. The image of my daughter screaming and reaching for me as I exit the room are seared into my brain. I do 30 minutes on the bike where your feet are under your hips (the ones used in any spin class). I now see why people take spinning class and rank this machine above the eliptical. In a heat of the moment decision, I actually try to lift my butt of the seat (which is how every spinning class is portrayed on the big screen so it must be the way to go!). My butt gets a half-inch off the surface and immediately betrays me by sitting back down. If it could talk, it would say, "Get a grip, warrior princess, I ain't no fool." I follow it up with strength training and abs. I'm the strongest mom in the world. Tomorrow I'm gonna convince my friend, Amy, to run the half-marathon with me so that our daughters will one-day be inspired by our feat.

Day 6, Friday: I set my alarm to wake me up by 5am so I can hit the gym or pavement before Frank has to go to work. The alarm goes off. It's snooze button central in our bedroom. I decide that no one should wake up to work out at 5:30am the Friday before Labor Day. I'll work out later... or tomorrow. I see Amy at Gymboree class, and she's on-board for the race. We agree to meet for monthly long runs. I'm flying high on her momentum and sign up while Liv is sleeping. I'm now 100% committed. Frank gets home early from work, allowing me to squeeze in a quick neighborhood run. It turns out, our town name includes the word "Hill" because of the terrain. And Hurricane Earl is headed north, so the sun is back! My face feels like its on fire and my thighs hurt in ways that can't be good. BUT my knee feels fine! A tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel. I run for 21:45, which according to Map My Run is 1.66 miles. Not bad for the 2nd outside run that I've done in months and the first hilly run, too! Olivia is so excited to see me as I walk [uphill] to our front door that I realize if she's at the finish line, I'll know I've done something incredible. This thought is quickly dashed when she begins crying because I'm too sweaty to pick her up. The three of us head inside before the neighborhood thinks I'm neglecting my child.

Day 7, Saturday: Wake up late which along with many other wonderful life moments prohibits me from getting to the gym. I decide God is clearly insisting I take a day off and eat cake -- well, maybe the cake was stress eating but if God didn't want me to eat cake, why on earth would he have created double chocolate layer cake decorated with white chocolate shavings??? I'm not a rocket scientist but it's indulgences like this that may have caused my weight loss to plateau. So I decide to spend 45 minutes gardening, which according to my blackberry app, FatSecret, burns 221 calories. I ride the momentum and do some core strengthening exercises while watching Degrassi. Week one done. I may or may not be screwed. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hip Baby Blues No More!

We had quite a week last week! Olivia celebrated being cast-free for one year on August 26, 2010. For any new readers, Olivia was diagnosed with bilateral developmental dysplasia of the hip when she was 5 days old. It was so severe, doctors had to correct it with open-reduction surgery, culminating in a spica cast(s). It's hard to remember what that life was like, so here she was on her 4 month birthday in spica cast #2 (always happy!).



Well, I couldn't let the day go by unnoticed (or un-celebrated!), so we headed off to the Please Touch Museum to see OLIVIA! in person.



My Olivia was thrilled, despite the [second] picture that appears otherwise. I, on the other-hand, need some modeling tips.



And to put it all in perspective, one year to the date, we had her re-eval with the county we now live in to determine elegibility for continued physical therapy [which she had qualified for last fall in our previous county of residence]. Olivia was a bright shining star and excelled in all areas, including motor skills. There was 0% delay (which was no surprise to us, having watched her move around all summer). I'm including a July video where she tried to imitate gymnastics (televised) to emphasize how far she's come.


video

So that's it. We feel tremendous gratitude to Miss Janet, her PT, Dr. B. (her pediatric orthopedic surgeon), and all the nurses and staff at Nemour's (DuPont location), as well as the countless family and friends that prayed for her and supported us. I don't want to count my chickens but it looks like this chapter in the book of Olivia, mine, not Ian Falconer's, is complete. Period.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Blink

You may have missed it, but I changed the title of the blog from "And Baby Makes Three" to "And Baby Makes Chaos." I felt this better suited our lives, especially as Olivia, the toddler -- strike that -- the toddler with an attitude, grows. And since, I'm the only one writing, I figured I should be more explicit about the viewpoint. Frank's funny but let's not give him credit for the fine blog posts that keep you coming back. ;-)

Ciao.

13.1 Miles in 79 Days!

I've been thinking a lot about the Philadelphia Half-Marathon lately. After running Broad Street, I had my sights set on the Philadelphia Distance Run, a race much discussed in the running community due to its ease (for non-runners, read: flat course), but due to circumstances this race has alluded me the past 4 years... wedding, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, and this year: my left knee.

Problems started during my pregnancy - I experienced a great deal of pain using my left knee, mostly going up and down stairs and getting off the floor. Well, I figured a 70 pound weight gain will do that and just assumed it would get better as I lost weight. This was the same thought that I carried with me while training for Broad Street. As the May race grew near and the pain became more problematic with long runs and hills, I thought, "S*#@! This isn't getting better!" Concerned about completing Broad Street, I met with my physician, had an x-ray... then, an MRI... then met with a sports doc who specializes in running injuries (ok, so that appointment was after I had successfully completed 10 miles in 2:02 on a hot May day in Philadelphia). The good news: there were no tears, sprains, or other problems that would keep me from Broad Street. There was, however, a knee cap that was rubbing on bone and a super fancy Latin diagnosis. Oh, and the obligatory, "You really shouldn't run the race," followed by a prescription for physical therapy.

The physical therapy helped me really understand how weak my left leg (not my dominant) muscles were. I spent a good month not running and simply focusing on building up the muscles and ligaments that were left seriously weakened by my pregnancy (and did I mention the fat that came with it?). By the end of PT I was bounding up stairs and practically leaping from a floor-sit! But running still hurt like a SOB. My dreams of actually completing the Philadelphia Distance Run (now, the Philly Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon) were fading off into the proverbial sunset.

Seeing my dismay... or more like, hearing my complaints, the knee doc recommended a series of protein-shots injected into my knee to help build up the cushioning around the knee cap. Despite my intense and paralyzing fear of needles & shots, I sucked it up, got insurance approval, and went once a week for FIVE weeks. SIDE NOTE: ask for a skin numbing spray, something I didn't know about until the doc happened to use it at week 4.

SUCCESS! After week 4, I really noticed the difference. I'm still taking precautions and strengthening the muscles, but I am finally back on my feet. But I digress...

I've certainly missed the window of opportunity to finish the Distance Run (which even if I could pull off 13.1 miles right now, registration is closed). I decided instead to go back to my roots and run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon! This was my first long, "official," run way back in 2006 when a colleague encouraged me to give it a shot. I've been running distances ever since (minus that brief 15 month hiatus called child-bearing).

So I have about 12 weeks to train my body and brain to run 13.1 miles (again). And with my most recent 2 mile jog being my longest run since Broad Street, I have quite the feat ahead of me. Oh, and did I mention, I have only run outside once since then?

No matter! I can do this! I will do this! I have to do this - I've already registered (sickly trumpet sound effect: mwah wah). So if you're game, bored, or curious, check back frequently for updates. Join me at the starting line. Or cheer me on, near or far. Either way, mark the date: November 21st, 2010.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Insider Information

Our wild and crazy summer is coming to a close, and if you've spoken with me recently, you'll know that we spent A LOT of time at The Philadelphia Zoo and The Please Touch Museum. We have memberships to both, and I cannot tout these enough. Olivia and I (and whomever else we can drag along with us) have thoroughly enjoyed exploring all that these places have to offer.

I thought I'd take some time to show off some of our excursions as well as give some visiting tips:

The Zoo
Location: 34th St & Girard Ave

Traveling by car? Take the back roads! Getting to the zoo from I-76 is always congested on beautiful days, so consider alternative directions. If you are coming from the western suburbs (in other words, you are traveling toward the city on 76 East), get off at Montgomery Dr, make the right off the exit and then a left onto Belmont. You can follow signs at this point, but Belmont intersects with Girard. Make a left on Girard and the zoo will be on the right.

Traveling by car on a weekday or in the winter? Warning: You cannot take this route during the weekends from April through October due to the closure of Martin Luther King Dr (aka West River Dr). Take an even faster route! Get off at Montgomery from I-76 no matter what direction. If you were headed west (coming from the city), then take a right off the exit ramp. If you were headed east (toward the city), then take a left off the exit ramp. Then, take a right on Martin Luther King Dr (aka West River Dr). Make a right at Sweetbriar Dr (it should be the next light). Make a left at the stop sign and VOILA! The next intersection is 34th and Girard Ave -- so easy!

Come early... or late! We've found that the best time to visit the zoo is either right when it opens at 9:30am or about 1 - 2 hours before it closes. Why? The animals are fed just before the zoo opens and right when it closes (unless otherwise noted in the daily schedule), so they are generally active, moving, and, most importantly, easily seen! Also, it's easiest to park at these times of day. Even more flexible? Go on a weekday! The only crowds we hit Monday through Friday are school groups and other moms. Very worth it!

Parking -- The best lot to park in is the Tiger Lot, which is located on 34th St. The lot is immediately located next to the entrance of the zoo, but many people get lured by the lot on Girard Ave and all the cars turning here. If you are arriving very early or late, bypass the Girard Ave lots and make the right onto 34th. Or if you take my super-simple, weekday or winter directions, just go straight after making the left at the stop sign! The Tiger Lot is just past the zoo entrance on the right.

Check out the events schedule on the website and see if there is anything special going on! For instance, we just enjoyed the Rock 'N' Roar Concert with Two of a Kind. Every other Tuesday throughout the summer, the zoo is hosting kid-friendly musicians on the Impala Lawn at 11am. Olivia had a blast running around and dancing to the music. Other upcoming events: Extended hours for pajama wearing, more kid-friendly rockin' and members-only early entry.

Got infants or children in strollers? All exhibits are wheelchair/stroller accessible! So, if all you see are stairs, look around. There will be a ramp or elevator located nearby; this includes the PECO Primate Reserve -- look for the elevator to the Mezzanine level for even better primate viewing. The only exhibit which does not allow strollers is the McNeil Avian Center because for the short 5 minute walk-through, you actually walk with - or under - the birds! Leave the stroller at the door and enjoy pointing out each feathered-friend. Olivia really loved being so close to the birds, which surprised me; she even let out a "Wow!" the first time we entered. And stay for the show -- there is a short, 14 minute animated, 4D show about migration and conservation. I was amazed at how much Olivia enjoyed it at 15 months old!

Lastly -- if you live in the area, get a membership! Each visit can get costly with $12 for parking (as of August 2010), and tickets for everyone over the age of 2. Not to mention it's tough to see everything in one trip! A membership allows us to pick up and go on a moment's notice without caring about the cost or worrying about how much time we have. And with a toddler, that's huge!


Olivia and her friend Matthew check out some primates

The Please Touch Museum
Location: 4231 Avenue of the Republic
GPS address (from the website): 4231 North Concourse Drive

Traveling by car? It's super easy to get to PTM! Take the Montgomery Dr exit off I-76 and get yourself to Belmont Ave. In other words, turn right if traveling toward the city or left if traveling away from the city [on I-76], and then, make a left onto Belmont Ave. The Avenue of the Republic is the first left once you are on Belmont. The PTM is the beautiful building on the left.

Parking costs $8 (as of August 2010); the lot is very safe. Occassionally you can find a spot on the street for free, but tourist beware -- you should only park on the same block as the museum is located. Use safety, caution and good judgement when parking on the street.

Flexible in your arrival time? The best time to visit is on perfectly sunny days because everyone else is outside! Other than that, the same holds true as the zoo - come early or late. There are less crowds first and last thing of the day. This is vital information if you have a toddler who won't stand up to the hustle and bustle. Also, every Thursday in August [2010], the PTM is open until 8pm.

Leave your strollers in the car! Unless you have a very small infant, then keep the stroller away. They can be cumbersome in the museum where the point is to allows kids to be hands-on. Use a carrier if your bambino is not yet walking, which will also enable him to more easily see the exhibits and other children playing.

Check the website for special events. For example, the new Playhouse Theater Show "Gram Adele" can only be seen Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Some other fun events are limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is your tot a fan of Sprout (PBS Kids)? There will be a Sprout Host visiting the museum August 26th and September 23rd [2010] in the morning. They also celebrate different children's author's birthdays, so do your homework and see if there are any upcoming events sure to please your child.

And you guessed it! Get a membership if you live in the area! This one was a no-brainer for us. Olivia loved the PTM, and this summer, we've gone at least once a week. Even more than the zoo, trips to PTM can get costly because tickets start for children over the age of 1! A family of 3 plus parking costs around $50 and basic membership starts at around $150 [as of August 2010], so if you think you'll be back, go the distance and pay for the membership!

Olivia enjoys splashing in the duck pond with Daddy


Humoring Mommy for a pose with the Goose... yes, I now know it's a Swan

Playing the piano - a recent and now favorite discovery

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Priorities

In my early to mid-twenties, I sat with my best girlfriends and created a "30 Before 30" list of things I wanted to achieve before turning 30. It was full of short and long-term goals, some crazy and lofty, others benign and mundane. I can happily say that most of the items on the list were crossed off before the big three-oh. Lose weight and keep it off. Check. Travel to Ireland. Check. Run a 5K -- ha ha, quadruple check! Go to the grand opening of a supermarket - wait, what?

Ok, so that last item wasn't on the official list. But sure enough, today I found myself excited to be at the grocery recently built close to home with a large organic section! Olivia and I roamed the aisles, oohing and aaahing over the product selection and delighting in the free samples. When I left and called my husband to gloat, I had an epiphany. Did I really just become giddy over this? So I reflected. I started keeping a running tally of things that I've done that would never, ever have made that list. Or any list. Not even a Bucket List.

For instance, I recently wore - to a night out with my best girlfriends nonetheless (same ones noted above in case anyone is keeping tabs) - a pair of pants that became marred by strawberries. In a flash, out came the Tide-To-Go pen and whoosh, gone went the red blotch. Former Me would have gone home, sprayed the spot with Shout, and dumped the pants in the washbin. New Me set them aside on a dresser, too lazy and tired to even fold them... and then wore them again. I am ashamed to admit that I wore those pants TWICE MORE! In fact, on one excursion, some spots of blood rubbed off from Liv's scraped knee during a Mommy's-kisses-make-it-better moment (thank you again, Tide-To-Go). And I wore them again! I continued wearing them after chalk marks and dirty footprints (another snuggle moment), until finally, while shopping at Target, I realized the pants needed to be washed. Desperately.

Which brings up another did-I-really-just-do-that moment! I took my 16 month old daughter to Target... at 8:30pm. She blissfully ran around the toy section while I, laden with a box of Pampers, organic cookies, and two more sippy cups, followed behind praying that she would lose steam and go to bed without screaming. How? How did I get to this point? How did I become one of those moms? The ones that take their kids out shopping at bizarre hours; the ones you look at and silently think, "My kid will be in bed by 9pm on a weeknight!" Well, I'll tell you! You become her when your child decides she is anything but tired between the hours of 7pm and 9pm, and when you go to lay her down, she screams bloody murder, but your windows are open because for the first time in what feels like forever, it isn't 100 degrees and you don't have to run the air conditioning, so everyone in your new neighborhood can hear her tears piercing the residential nighttime quiet. That's how. That's why you take your alert toddler to run around the large aisles and expend energy trying to get a large ball from a tightly packed rack. And that's why you stop caring if your pants are clean. Apparently God also had a message for me because my arms were too full to splurge on the new Jennifer Weiner book. Sigh. But success! She fell asleep sans misery.

And did I mention that I haven't had a hair cut or color in over 3 months? Somewhere my 21 year old self is hiding her head in shame, silently screaming. Poor thing.

Good thing the 30 year old me told her to shut up and deal with it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So Big!

Liv turned 15 months old the day we decided to move EVERYTHING from the "rental property" (as we began dubbing it) to our brand-new-to-us, first home. That being said, there aren't any good pictures, although the picture posted yesterday was taken on July 11th.

The difference between her now and 3 months ago is astonishing! She's walking all over, on the verge of running. She still keeps her hands up for balance, so her run is really a trot. She moves over, around, through, and under obstacles, which can be hilarious. And, as Miss K, her old daycare teacher put it, she is determined! When my Livie Lu sets her mind to something, there is absolutely no stopping her! Case in point: our recent visit to the Please Touch Museum when Olivia discovered the grocery store. She had it in her mind to put all the cans on the shelf in her cart, which she mostly did. However, on each shelf, located behind plexiglass, is the Model Can which is a way for kids and parents to know where to put each item once you're done. Well, Miss Thang started crying when she realized she couldn't get to the Model Cans... Mommy has a long row to hoe with this tiny tot! I'm posting the video (sans meltdown), which was taken 2 days shy of 15 months. Enjoy!


video

At 15 months, Olivia...
weighs 20 lbs. 12 oz. (although I don't think the measurement was accurate)
is 31 1/4 inches long
wears size 4 diapers
wears 12 months & 18 months clothing (especially if she needs to wear pants!)
eats food (no more baby food!) - favorites are 'nanas, hard-boiled eggs, & yogurt
feeds herself with a spoon... with about 50% accuracy
drinks water and soymilk from a sippy cup (we are graduating to a no-handles sippy cup tomorrow)
plays independently with toys
loves books and balls
loves Yo Gabba Gabba & Elmo
gives high 5s
blows kisses
says hi and bye on her own and when asked
pretends to eat play food, make pretends phone calls & waltzes around with purses on each arm
can touch/show her head, hair, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and belly!)
says either by independently asking for or labelng somewhere between 40 and 50 words
most common words: 'nana, Melmo, book, ball, Mommy, Dada, 'nack, wawa, shoe, coocuh (cookie), kack kack (quack quack), roar
counts 1-2, followed by a whole lot of rhythmic babble!
reads books by pointing at the pictures and saying something (real or babble)
will point to large letters and intentionally babble... which sounds a lot like one-two (lol)
understands at least twice that number & follows many 2 step directions
follows routine directions, simple or complex
sings songs with recognizable tones, rhythm & hand motions (loves Row Row!)
can give animal sounds for a cat, dog, lion, monkey, bear, duck, cow, and sheep

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Movin Van

Moving with a 15 month old is much harder than originally imagined... New "product(s) of the moment:" snack traps and label makers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Skinny News

In all our recent hubub, I forgot to declare: I AM LESS THAN 10 POUNDS AWAY FROM MY PRE-PREGNANCY WEIGHT!

Whew. That felt gooood. Still another 10 after that until my goal weight, but so far, I've dropped 30 pounds in exactly one year and about 50 pounds since the night I went into labor (yes, I'm *counting* the 10 pounds lost when the child exited my body... it's mine, earned by 10 hours of labor.).

Congratulate me when you see me. Or don't. Cause I'm so skinny.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manolo Blahniks

With the Livster utilizing her new walking feet, I recognized the need to head to a local children's shoe store to size her feet. Poor kid -- to say she was wearing too-small shoes is being generous. The wonderful ladies sized her up (a size 4!) and put her in some very comfortable Robeez mini-shoes. As you can see, they are tres adorable. Unfortunately, they are already worn in the picture because I kept forgetting to take a shot, and by the time I remembered, she'd had them for about 5 days. In child-land, this is the equivalent of eternity, so I was uber lucky they hadn't been completely demolished in the regular playyard trips the young toddlers room takes.

Anyway, I am of sound, mind, and body and am fully aware that name-brand shoes can be bought online for less HOWEVER I found it incredibly important to have someone well-versed in baby shoes sizing her. Now I have a point of comparison and am already shopping for better deals.

And it turns out, we have quite the shoe diva on our hands! Before we even had ownership of the pretty silver sparklies, Livie was refusing to wear her cheapie Target faux mary janes in simple pink fabric. She would pick up the, only slightly bigger, Children's Place pink faux suede mary janes and wave them at me, then promptly sit on the floor. Post-Robeez possession, and on a number of occassions, she has come downstairs and "demanded" her shoes be put on. While Frank and I slowly trudge along behind her, she walks to her shoes, picks them up, says a quick one syllable sound (often "doos" or "da!") and then throws them at us. On a good day, she carries them to some [probably far-off considering the state of the house right now] clear spot on the floor where she sits down and says/makes the same sound/motion. Recently, she has done this with her on-deck shoes (ones that are slightly too big right now)... while wearing the current Robeez. When we ignore her, she follows us around, waving the future fashion statement until we comment.

Frank has already predicted a closet brimming with the latest must-haves. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out how a love of shoes is hereditary and crossing my fingers that DSW will satiate her pinings!
(Also her 14 month birthday!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Awwww Moment

Frank and I are in awe of Olivia on a regular basis. During a recent trip to Staples that ended up taking 20 minutes longer than expected, we decided it was high time to buy our tot some Crayolas. We went for the big-width-perfect-for-tiny-fingers-pack-of-eight crayons. You know - the ones everyone had in Kindergarten circa 1985. Those crayons. We even let her pick out the oversized coloring book (note to fellow parents: Staples had these giant coloring books with pages that were inserted all easel-like. You could take out a page or shuffle them at will without damaging the other pages. This did, however, work against us when Olivia figured out how to remove pages on her own...). She chose the delightful Toy Story 3 book after a few minutes of our shaking, wiggling, and dancing the items in front of her. I took this delayed response, at the moment, as a bad sign: clearly my child had better things to do than color. In fact, I could almost hear her baby sarcasm in my head: Really, Mom? I use markers and paint at school, and this is what you bring to the table?

But we stayed the course. And it really was quite magical. Not in the fairies and pixie dust or abra cadabra way. Or even the Harry Potter at Hogwarts modern day magical. Nope, just your run of the mill, inspiring, stop and smell the roses, magical moment that a parent has with a child holding her first (oh, alright, probably second), fresh-out-of-the-box Crayola crayon.


That kind of magical.

And yes, the picture is still on our fridge.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Product of the Moment


Do I even need to explain this? This product was made by God and handed over to Moms as a huge thank you for all you do. Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Archived

Found these and thought they were cute enough to share. The first is a picture of Olivia after she cough-sprayed some carrots. The latter is her first time in the Jumparoo! Tres cute!




Monday, June 7, 2010

Toddlin'

So Frank and I have decided that Olivia is now, officially, a TODDLER! She spent the entire weekend walking everywhere.

We find this especially awesome considering that tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of her surgery.

Enjoy!

video

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Silent Prayers

Recently Frank went out of town for a work trip, and Olivia decided to wake up an hour earlier than normal.

That day was brought to me by the letter C and the number 0.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paella

I actually love paella but never knew how to make and figured it would take forever. Then, I found this seemingly easy recipe in the Dec 2009 issue of Parents Magazine. The most expensive thing about it is the turmeric, but it's worth it! And, you may, like me, discover a new spice for stews and rice. Frank's verdict: That's restaurant good! Enjoy!
Speedy Healthy Paella
Serves: 4
2 links chicken sausage (about 6 oz)
1 TBSP canola oil
1 red pepper
1 sm. onion
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
pinch salt
8 oz. cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp
1 (8.8 oz) pkg cooked instant brown rice OR 1 1/2 C cooked
1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
1. Cut sausage in half length-wise and slice into pieces. Heat canola oil in a large skllet on medium-high and cook sausage until browned (about 2 minutes).
2. Chop the red pepper and the onion and add to pan with turmeric and a few shakes of salt. Cook, uncovered, until tender, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in rice, broth, and shrimp. Cook for about 2 minutes more to heat through.
Per Serving:
268 calories
9 g fat
2 g sat fat
381 mg sodium
22 g carbs
2 g fiber
22 g protein
3 mg iron
28 mg calcium

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stepping Stones

Today, on her daily school report, Olivia's teacher wrote, "Olivia enjoyed playing outside and even stood up to take a few steps on her own."

My heart tingled. :-)

Belated Birthday!

I figured I'd finally post pictures of Olivia's very first birthday. We were blessed to be surrounded by family and friends as well as to have a gorgeous day. Olivia enjoyed everyone's company and was the ham that we know she can be. And to everyone who attended or sent a gift, we appreciate all of it... our thank yous are just a little behind. I wonder how much longer I can use our new house as an excuse?

We decided to make the birthday party a Yo Gabba Gabba! theme because Olivia LOVES the show. She lights up when DJ Lance Rock walks out in the opening scene, and lately, when she dances, she dances just like they do on the show. Single? No kids? Haven't a clue? Honestly, check it out. Frank and I find the show hilarious, and the little known bands they showcase are pretty awesome, too. I could go on and on, but if you're ever bored, catch it on ONDemand or NickJr.

Does your child love Yo Gabba Gabba! as much as ours? Thinking of planning a shindig, too? Well, it was far easier than you'd think, especially with the help of the Gabba Friends website. I'm going to post specifics about the cakes I made in a later post, but this website inspired everything.

The balloons:






The cakes:










At first, Olivia didn't know what to make of the cake. She stared at it and wouldn't touch the thing. When we tried to put it in her hand, she shook it off! She did NOT want to get dirty. But once we put a bite in her mouth... look out, world! Olivia LOVES cake! Although, you still wouldn't know it from the pictures...








Showing off a present:


And tuckered out from a long day of partying:



At 1 year old, Olivia [could]:
weighs 20.7 lbs.
is 30 1/4 ins. long
says cat, dog, hi, bye, mom, dad and uh oh (sometimes Pop Pop & baby)
crawls all over
stands up by pulling on something
cruises (walks holding onto furniture or hands)
stands on her on for about 3 - 5 seconds
throws balls, even to others (or Monty the cat)
points to things and says "Dat!" or "Dat?" (want and what?)
claps on her own and when told to
dances to music
does easy shape sorter pieces
gives hi-5s
LOVES Monty the cat and will play with him and try to pet him
wears size 3 diapers
wears clothing sizes from 6 mos (onesies or tops) all the way up to 18 mos (pants)
eats 7 jars of baby food every day!
feeds herself puffs and teething cookies
puts her arms up for SO BIG!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Vote for Livie!

Soooo I entered Olivia in the Parents Magazine Cover Kid Contest. She is pretty cute after all. The judges ultimately choose 10 kids to go to NYC for a photoshoot, BUT one of those spots is a Readers' Choice. Each week, parents.com showcases photos voted most liked by viewers, and of these, a weekly Readers' Choice Fave is crowned. Then, at the end of the contest, those weekly winners are pooled together for a ginormous vote-off on who gets the Readers' Choice Finalist spot.


Whew. Where'm I goin' with this?


Olivia is in the weekly Readers' Choice most liked RIGHT NOW! So go vote for her! We have until June 6th to make our lovely lady a child star. WARNING: the voting process has two parts to make sure all votes are legit! Once you hit "vote for me," you also have to fill out a short quoted phrase before the vote is submitted. This is done to make sure people like me don't set up some computer program that just votes for my kid all day.


So go! What are you doin'?!?! Vote for by clicking here. Vote often!


Vogue.








Meal Plan for Two

We've been doing our best to meal plan lately as a way to save money in between grocery shopping and watch our caloric intake. Well, okay, the latter is mostly for me. We've stumbled across some delicious recipes that I cut out of magazines. I thought I'd share them here. Enjoy!
Grilled Tilapia & Avocado Tostada
(a perfect early summer dish!)
Serves: 4

4 flour tortillas
3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. tilapia filets
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1 heart of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced crosswise
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C cilantro leaves
4 red radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 lime, quartered into wedges

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high.
2. Brush tortillas with 1 TBSP oil. Grill, flipping once or twice, until crisp (about 2 mins).
3. Brush tilapia on both sides with 1 TBSP oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
4. Grill, flip once, until cooked through (about 8 minutes). Let rest 4 minutes and pull into chunks with fork.
5. Place each tortilla on a plate. Scatter on onion, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and radishes. Lay tilapia on top. Fan avocado over tilapia and sprinkle with remaining salt and oil. Serve with lime.

Per Serving:
380 calories
19 g fat
3.5 g sat fat
55 mg cholesterol
660 mg sodium
31 g carb
5 g fiber
26 g protein
Squash Gnocchi Soup
(courtesy Parents, March 2009)

1 pkg. (12 oz) cubed butternut squash
1 pkg. (16 oz) gnocchi
2 1/2 C fat free reduced sodium chicken stock
1/4 C fat free evaporated milk**
thyme sprigs (optional)

**you can substitute tinned coconut milk for a dairy-free recipe

1. Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add squash, then reduce heat the medium-low and look for 25 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring occassionally. (I found I had to keep the heat higher and cook it for longer because our stove is old.
2. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Then, puree in a food processor or blender.
3. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to directions; drain.
4. Sti gnocchi and milk into squash puree and heat through. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

We found it helpful to add salt, pepper, etc. to season the soup, but it made a nice meal with the Caprese mini-sandwiches (below).
Serves: 4

Per Serving:
151 calories
0 g fat
335 mg sodium
32 g carb
3 g fiber
6 g protein
1 mg iron
96 mg calcium


Caprese Mini-Sandwiches
(from Pampered Chef Season's Best, Spring/Summer 2006)

4 flat pita bread rounds
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning mix
1/4 C (1 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 - 3 balls (about 8 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 lg plum tomatoes, sliced
1/2C lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 toasted walnuts, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBSP light balsamic salad dressing
4 C mixed baby salad greens or spinach leaves

1. Toast walnuts by spreading over the bottom of a microwave safe dish. (I used a small stone) Microwave on high 2 - 3 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted, stirring after each 30-second interval.
2. Allow walnuts to cool completely before finely chopping with the basil.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pita rounds on a baking stone; drizzl with oil, spreading evenly. Sprinkle evenly with seasoning mix. Coarsely grate Parmesan cheese over pita rounds (or just use grated cheese). Bake 8 -10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven.
4. Meanwhile, slice mozzarella cheese and tomatoes; set aside. For pesto, place basil and walnuts together and finely chop using a food processor or handheld chopper. Combine the basil mixture, pressed garlic and salt in a mixing bowl; mix well.
5. Turn over pita rounds on baking stone; drizzle with dressing, spreading evenly to edges. Cut each round into 6 wedges (sic).** Remove half of the pita wedges to cutting board. Top each wedge with a small amount of the greens. Place one slice of mozzarella cheese over green; top with pesto and one slice of toato. Top with remaining pit wedges, cheese side up, forming 12 mini-sandwiches (sic).** Secure with sandwich picks, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves: 12 (sic)**

**I found it easier to quarter the pita wedges (shown below), which would make 8 sandwiches/servings.

Per Serving (when making 8):
225 calories
12 g fat
5.25 g sat fat
22.5 mg cholesterol
240 mg sodium
19.5 g carbs
3 g fiber
10.5 g protein


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