Friday, July 29, 2011

Morning commute

I would estimate that approximately 99% of the world's population loathes their drive to and from work each day. In fact, I'm willing to bet that just about everyone who has to drive to work every morning tries to forget the experience as quickly as possible. After all, who wants to dwell on how much time they spend in their car on any given workday? Does anyone ever get to work and actually want to tell their coworkers about the experience? Perhaps only if they saw a 15-car pileup on the interstate and there was visible carnage on the roadway.

My morning commute now has two versions - the long and short versions. The short version is where I drive eight miles and make three turns to arrive in the Blackbaud parking lot. The long version consists of countless turns, twenty more miles, crossing two bridges and dropping Alli off at daycare. It's a rather boring trip, but it changes things up a bit a few days a week.

Well, this morning's long version was quite the exception for me. As I was on my way to drop Alli off at daycare, I crossed the first bridge as normal when something caught my attention out the side of my eye. I saw something spray up into the air and make a ripple in the otherwise placid water. I turned my head just in time to catch a dolphin breaching in the middle of the Wando river.

Other than the employees at Sea World, how many people can say that they saw a live dolphin on their way to work? I'm willing to bet not very many. And it didn't just come up once, it came up for air multiple times - enough that I could see its dorsal fin each time. Now I know that some of you might be concerned that I took my eyes off the road for a moment with my infant in the car, but this was worth it.

As soon as I dropped Alli off at daycare, I immediately texted Mommy B to tell her about my morning sighting. Naturally, she was quite surprised - and a little jealous. But, just as her previous post mentioned, that's the lifestyle we've come to embrace living in Charleston. You just never know when you're going to see a dolphin swim past you at the beach, an Egret fly over the highway or an alligator eat your golf ball. Each day could be an adventure when you live in paradise... you just have to slow down and take a look around every once in a while.

I live for the weekends...

Being a nurse for over 4 and 1/2 years now has gotten me pretty immune to what a "weekend" really consists of. When I first graduated, I was working day/night rotations. Let me tell you, those are awful. Basically, you could be working three 12 hour day shifts in a row, have a few days off, work three 12 hour night shifts in a row, a few days off, then back to day shifts. It was so draining mentally and physically, and needless to say, I never saw Eric. After being on that unit for awhile, my seniority as a nurse there made it to where I could work straight day shifts. Although that was wonderful as well, I still worked every third weekend, holidays, etc. We've been down here five years and I've still yet to be able to go home at Christmas because I've been working on or around the holiday every year.

As nurses, we all know this going into the profession, especially working in a hospital setting... obviously the hospital can't close it's doors on weekends or holidays like most other professions. After we had Alli, I knew that going back to the set weekends, the holidays, etc. was going to be much too difficult. I love my family (a lot), and cherish the time I get to spend with them. Yes, working 3 days a week is great, but it's not so great when I'm off a random Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and have to work Saturday and Sunday when Dad-E is off. It means nothing to me to have those three days off during the week if I can't spend it with him. Sure, we could probably even make it work so we wouldn't have to put Alli in daycare if I chose to work every weekend, but we'd never see each other! Taking this new Meduflex RN position meant that I can choose when I want to work, only have to work one weekend shift a month (so, one random Sunday a month sure is better than an entire weekend!), and one major/one minor holiday. We get cancelled so often too that the holidays are more than likely going to be just a formality of signing up for it, not actually working it. The getting cancelled thing has been a real downer lately, but I'm working hard to get oriented in the adult hospital as well so my chances of getting cancelled will decrease dramatically. I absolutely love getting to spend time with Alli and Eric (and Scarlett too of course!) as a family, not just seeing each other in passing while one of us is off to work. Sure, we could be making a lot more money if I worked weekends, or night shifts... but we could also both be making a lot more money if we lived somewhere other than Charleston...

But, do you get to go to the beach every weekend?

The lifestyle is worth it. We had to make that choice five years ago when we moved down here... knowing we could make more money elsewhere, but choosing the lifestyle over the money. So, here's where we have to live it up, not be so caught up on money issues, and cherish the weekends and time together. Not having a set weekend to work means we can have visitors whenever too, and I can just change my schedule around that. Last weekend was Dallas, Tiffany and Izabella, this weekend is Gena, Rob, Anneliese & Wallace.

We live for the weekends... especially when we're at the beach and can say, "It's not vacation. It's just the weekend."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nine Month Stats

Nine months and all I can say is... whew. I'm pooped. =) I know it will only get "worse" when she's walking all over, but, she's literally into everything these days. She isn't content with just crawling around exploring things anymore.. she has to pull up on things all the time now. We are truly loving every moment of it though. Dad-E and I just discussed the other day how much fun she is now. We are really seeing her personality come through, and we know we're in for it when she can start talking and let us know how she really feels about the things we do or say to her.

The Stats:
Weight: 18 lbs (36th percentile)
Length: 28 1/2 inches (82nd percentile)
Head: 16 3/4 inches (13th percentile)

Once again, the tall and slender comments were made by the doctor... but I guess you never can tell for sure at this age. She is growing and growing, and all looks great health wise.

Diaper Size: We're using up our last package of 2's, she still fits, but we'll be busting out the size 3's after this pack runs out
Clothing Size: 6-9 month outfits, 9-12 month sleepers (especially for length!)
Shoe Size: 2 (Although she really doesn't wear shoes or socks)
Food: Similac bottles, three meals, puffs, mum-mum's... we're still yet to find anything she won't eat
Naps: About an hour and a half in the AM and an hour in the afternoon
Sleep: Asleep for the night by 7:30pm and up about 6:15 now (we're getting lucky with her sleeping in a little!!)
Teeth: Six. (Four across the top, two on the bottom)
Sounds: Dada, baba, mama, babbles and squeals, "clucking" (clicking/snapping noises with her tongue), sticks her tongue out and makes noises like that, and I think she's actually associating dada and mama with Dad-E and I
Play: Pulling up on everything, crawling and "turbo" crawling as we like to call it when she sees something she really wants, you can hear her coming with her hands smacking on the ground so fast, tickling/giggling, still loves the dog toys more than her own, loves making loud noises by hitting things together, "shaking" it with anything she can hold and shake in the air, climbing the stairs, dancing, clapping, and starting to wave "bye-bye"
New buddies: Izabella, cousin Max!, and today she just met Simon Lowe too =)

9 months in, 9 months out...

Our little girl is 9 months old today! I can hardly believe it. I know we say that every month, but time just seems to truly be flying at this point. A friend asked me which seemed longer, the 9 months I was pregnant, or these past 9 months... hands down it would be the 9 months of pregnancy! Not only was I over nine months pregnant since Alli didn't want to join us on her actual due date and came 4 days late, the anticipation of finding out if she was a boy or girl made it seem like it was even longer!! I cannot tell you how thrilled I was (and still am!) that we waited until that moment to find out her gender. The anticipation and build up was all worth it... seeing Eric's face and hearing him say, "it's a girl!!" is a moment I'll never, ever forget.

On the flip side, these past 9 months have absolutely flown by. I hardly remember her as a tiny infant who just laid there or slept on us all the time... we cherish the snuggly moments we get nowadays, since they are so few and far between.

 From a snuggly little infant snoozing on her dad... to an active, curious 9 month old... don't blink, they grow up in an instant...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oh yes, there will be football

It's official Followers, there will be a 2011 NFL season after all. Consistent perusers of This Space may recall this post regarding the NFL Lockout and what it could mean for this year's season. I'm not going to go into all the details about who gets what, because quite frankly trying to make sense of all the jewelry rattling makes me need to go lie down in a cool place. Let's just say the Players and Owners met each other halfway and got a deal worked out. The details are just that - details. The bottom line is what the bottom line has always been - everybody gets paid.

I was still hoping that there wouldn't be a season this year - for a couple reasons:
1) Because the Cincinnati Bengals need more time to get their sh... act together. Do everyone in the southern half of Ohio a favor and upgrade your "Personnel Department" to the level of every other 21st-century professional football team. Hire a General Manager, hire real scouts, stop signing felons to the roster and stop letting the owner stick his nose into things he knows nothing about - namely, football. Don't get me wrong, Mike Brown is an excellent business man - what other company do you know that has produced such a terrible product for 20 years and continues to be in business? Seriously, show of hands. Hands down, Billy Bob.

And B) I was hoping the owners would get to take one in the shorts for once. Let them feel a few pangs of reality when they aren't making six figures each paycheck. "I'm sorry Jerry Jones, but your credit card has been declined due to insufficient funds." See what happens to the spoiled rotten brats then...

Another thing I'm worried about actually having a "season" this year... the quality of play. I have a sneaky suspicion that there are going to be a lot more injuries this year because players are not going to be in the same physical shape they typically are in. Being a former ball player, I'm well aware of the intense training it requires to be the condition that it takes to play this game for an extended period of time. It's not like golf where you can just go play 18 without pulling your back out when you haven't touched a set of clubs in 9 months. This sport mandates that you be in peak physical condition - not just so you can outperform the other guy, but so you don't get your neck snapped in half coming over the middle when your QB hangs you out to dry.

And of course, more injuries means the backups will be playing more... thus the decrease in the quality of play. Another show of hands - who can name Tom Brady's backup? Aaron Rodger's clipboard holder? When was the last time Payton Manning sat out a few snaps? And that's just the Quarterback position. I won't even talk about the higher-impact positions like Running Back or Cornerback. Not sure how deep your team's Secondary is, but better sign a few more to the practice squad, just in case.

All in all, I'm still a football junkie and will watch as much of it as Alli will let me... but I'm glad this whole "situation" is resolved and we can move on. I'll be honest, I was getting tired of hearing about how one side wasn't getting the millions and millions they wanted and thought they deserved. I think I should get paid more than what I do... but then again some people could just argue that I'm rattling my jewelry as well. I'd use some ten-dollar words to explain why, but I can't afford them.

Our house is a death trap

I'm sure that's a phrase that every parent has uttered once their child becomes mobile. And Mommy B and I realized that it couldn't be more true now that Alli is all over the place. We used to spend our days entertaining her by dangling toys over her (back when she was just a lil blob) then plopping her down on her mat to play with her toys (when she could finally sit up on her own). Now, we spend our time making sure she doesn't fall over after she pulls herself up on something dangerous. It has become quite the task because she is still a little uneasy standing up. I'll give you a couple examples...

When I was growing up, my father owned his own glass business. As a result, our house was filled with custom-made glass tables, shelves, showers and mirrors. When Mommy B and I moved south, my parents offered to give us some of these items to begin furnishing our new house. Currently, we have two small all-glass end tables on either end of our couch. They are about 20 inches tall, which is a perfect height for Alli to grab and pull herself up. They also have pretty sharp edges (they are glass, duh) - which makes it a real safety hazard to lil Ru's face since the table top is about nose-high on her.

As beautiful and unique as they are, I have a feeling they could be getting stored away until Alli has steadied herself on those legs of hers. After all, when her daddy was about 6, he had a forehead-first confrontation with a similar glass table while wrestling with an uncle. The conflict cut Dad-E's parent's anniversary date short so they could take him to the ER to get stitches. Needless to say I don't want Alli to be stuck with the same scar I have.

Next, we have our hardwood floors. Our entire first floor is completely hardwood, except for the area rug we have in the living room. Even though we love having hardwood floors, it is much harder to land on than carpet. And since Alli is still trying to get her sea legs, any impact with the hard floor could spell disaster. My biggest fear is that she'll fall face-first and that she's not strong enough yet to stop herself - which could result in another one of Dad-E's injuries as a child... a chipped tooth. Of course, the fact that she already has six teeth in only compounds this fear. However, I'm not about to carpet the entire first floor so that Alli has something softer to land on.

We also have our staircase. The obvious solution to the stair issue is a baby gate - which we have already. I didn't get to install it this weekend, but I have a feeling I'll need to very soon. Come to find out, you really need two baby gates for a staircase in order for them to be effective - one for the top and one for the bottom. After all, what good is a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs when we're playing in her room on the second floor and she decides to take off? And vice versa.

I'm sure I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Now, I'm not about to dress Alli in bubble-wrap every day to make sure she doesn't hurt herself - but there could be some things getting put away around the house until she can walk around on her own.

She's in that awkward stage right now where she wants to pull herself up and walk around, but just can't put it all together yet. She went through the same phase right before she started crawling, so I know that walking is right around the corner. That's literally all she does now - just crawls around the house, looking for the next thing to pull herself up on. She has the strength to stand for as long as she wants, but many times she forgets that she still has to hold on to something and we have to grab her before she hits the hard floor. I just know that once she starts standing and walking on her own, we'll have to go through another phase of baby-proofing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cartoon of the Week

Every day when we pick up Alli from daycare, she's got a daily report sheet that says what she ate, when she napped, and how often/when they changed her diaper. We are always shocked to see how often she poops when she's there... it's like she saves it up for them. How sweet is she, saving mommy and daddy from cleaning up her poop! She must realize how much we pay a week for her to go there, so she's trying to help us get our money's worth. =) As bad as some people talk about daycare, I am one person who is totally happy that my child goes. Of course I would love to be able to stay home with her all the time, but that's not possible. So instead, she has her friends at school, Cora, Scarlett, Lana, Arianna, John Warren, just to name a few, and she truly loves seeing them and playing with them. She is definitely getting to the big separation anxiety phase, so the crying when we leave her has gotten pretty bad (and sad for us!)... but I know she has such a good time while she's there. So, here's to Ms. Velma, Ms. Norma & Ms. Denver... thanks for putting up with all of Alli's crap (literally!) =)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stair climber

No, I did not get Mommy B a new piece of exercise equipment... that's what I'm calling Alli after her latest endeavor. Add another moniker to her already lengthy list of nicknames. In preparation for our house guests this weekend, I brought some cleaning supplies down to our half-bathroom on the first floor. Alli was such a good lil' helper... pulling herself up so she could peer over the toilet bowl to make sure I did a good job. Don't worry - I sanitized her afterwards too.

Once I had finished up, I placed the toilet brush on the first landing on our staircase. There are only two stairs before this landing, but I thought putting everything there would get them out of her reach temporarily. Wrong. She immediately headed for the staircase and pulled herself up so she was standing at the bottom of the stairs. I turned around to find her pulling herself up to the first stair with her arms and lifting her legs up to slide them onto the first step. And just like that, she was kneeling on the first stair with her hands on the next step, reaching for the toilet brush.

I thought to myself, "No way that just happened... had to be luck or something." So I stood there another few seconds, only to witness Alli pull herself up to the landing and lift her legs onto the second step. At this point, she could reach the toilet brush and she had accomplished her mission. Still thinking that this was just a fluke, I grabbed her off the landing and went to get my phone to record this event. I placed her back at the bottom of the steps and hit the record button.

And off she went... marching her way right up the stairs. She slid back once or twice, but only enough to place her feet on the stair below and push herself up again. I kept having to move the toilet brush up the stairs more and more to keep her motivated. And sure enough, she made it all the way up the stairs (navigating two turns, mind you) with almost no assistance. I take that back, I didn't help her at all - I just placed my hand behind her butt to prevent her from tummy-sliding all the way back down the stairs.

I simply couldn't believe it - it seems like just yesterday she was Army-crawling around the floor. Then a couple days went by and she's turbo-crawling around the entire first floor. Then I blink and she's climbing the stairs? Who said that was allowed? In all honesty, I shouldn't be surprised... I skipped crawling and started walking at 8 1/2 months. I bet my parents were pretty surprised about that! I should've known that she'd take after me and hit the ground running, so to speak.

Looks like I know what I'm doing tomorrow - blowing the 9 months of dust off the baby gate we have and installing it at the bottom of the stairs. I'm sure the dog will love another obstacle in her already baby-consumed world. And to think that we've never even tried to expose her to the stairs (for obvious reasons) up until now... she figured it out all on her own. Regardless, nice work Alli girl - daddy is proud of you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can opener

Now that Alli has 6 (yes, six) teeth in, she's found out that they are really handy for lots of different things. They used to just cause her pain as they made their way to the surface of her gums, but now she realizes that these sharp little things are actually quite useful. She now uses them to devour everything under the sun... baby food, Gerber lil' crunchies, pickles, celery sticks, Mum mums, mashed potatoes, pretzels, sliced bread and bananas. Keep in mind she's only 8 months old.

But, by far her favorite things to eat are the Gerber Puffs. They come in a variety of flavors, and once again, we've yet to find something she doesn't like... sweet potato, strawberry apple, peach and banana. It doesn't matter to her, she eats anything we put in front of her.

In the previous couple of months, we would pour out some puffs for her to munch on then put the cap back on the container and give it to her to hold and to play with. Eventually she figured out that shaking the container was much more fun than just holding onto it. It was so cute watching her shake it all around and listening to the sound of the puffs moving around inside.

However, Alli has found out that her new teeth also double as a can opener. Just last week, she figured out how to hold the puffs container up to her mouth and use her teeth to pry back the plastic cap and pop it off. Of course, this gives her full access to reach into the container and grab as many puffs as she wants... or to just dump the whole thing out onto the floor. Mommy B even got the entire act on film today - the instant she handed Alli the container, she proceeded to put it directly to her mouth and pry off the cap. It is quite a sight to see, even though we're trying to teach her not to attempt to eat every single puff in the container in a single sitting.

Here's our little can opener at work:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alli meets Max!

This past week, Eric's family came down for a vacation on the beach. We are very fortunate to live at the beach, so it was a type of "stay-cation" for us... we took a few days off and headed out to stay at the beach house with all of them for part of the week. (We're fortunate enough to live at the beach, but not actually on the beach... ha!) Anyway, Eric's older brother, sister-in-law and nephew all came from Oklahoma for the trip too. To say they were exhausted and tired of driving was an understatement, 16 hrs of driving from Oklahoma to Ohio, stayed there for less than 2 days, then 12 hrs of driving from Ohio to Charleston. What a trip, and what a trooper lil 6 month old Max was through it all. To say the trip didn't quite meet every one's expectations is probably an understatement, but what matters is the babies got to meet each other, and we got to see some family we don't get to see that often. I'll let Eric (the pro at writing good blog posts) take care of more details about the week if he'd like... although work will probably be hectic for him for awhile catching up with all he's missed. For now, I'll just leave you all with some pictures of the babies together.

We also got some professional shots of them together... there's 311 pictures to go through, so I'll try to find my favorites and post them too. Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My new (to me) car!

After the significant hail damage done to my car back in Ohio, we got a decent amount of money from the insurance company and had to decide if it was worth paying to get fixed, or if we should just bite the bullet and get a new one. I've been looking and wanting a newer car for a little while now, and I guess that event just pushed me along in the process. I had found one I really liked right before we drove to Ohio, and we were going to stop at the dealership on our road trip home and check it out. However, the day before we left, I got a notice from the dealership that it was sold. Oh well, wasn't meant to be. While we were in Cincinnati, we went to a dealership and test drove one while we were home, and really loved the way it drove, and knew exactly what features we wanted included. We went back to SC and continued our search. I had a really bad experience with the Honda dealership here in Charleston, so I continued searching for everything I wanted on my own. About a week ago, I got an email from the dealership up in Inman, SC that had the previous car I had really liked but sold before we could see it, telling me they had gotten another just like it, same color and everything. It turns out, this car had everything we wanted. 2007 Honda Pilot EX-L. It was the exact color I wanted, leather interior, DVD player, sunroof, etc. So, Saturday morning, Eric drove the 3 and 1/2 hrs, wheeled and dealed, and drove the 3 and 1/2 hrs back in my new car!! I am in love with it, and finding more and more things I love about it all the time.

Cartoon of the Week

Why is it that you always feel like you need a vacation after your "vacation" is over? When we took vacation days/time off to drive back to Ohio, it was quite an adventure, and quite exhausting. Now, Eric's family came down for a week, we took off some time to "relax" and spend time with them... and here we are, Sunday night, and literally exhausted again. When will our next real "vacation" come along where it's not tiring and exhausting? I guess it'll be after Alli's a little older and not so demanding... (is that ever going to be the case??)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Keeping us busy

Alli's new favorite thing to do is pull up and stand up, on everything, all the time. She will crawl toward something (or someone), and just pull up until she's in a standing position, and stand there and dance/wiggle, or stand there and try to take a few steps. We used to just let her sit over in her "play area" in the living room by herself to keep herself occupied... but now, we look over and see her and she's pulled up on her toys, reaching around to play with another one. I'm sure there's going to be some falls (and some tears!), but it's all part of learning and growing.

All I know for sure is that I used to say I can't wait until she can move around! Now, I definitely miss her sitting here in her bumbo, looking cute as ever, but not able to move around too much. Each phase has it's positives and negatives, that's for sure!

Oh and here's some great pictures of some of Alli's teeth... she looks more like a toddler with all these teeth than an 8 month old!

Always love a good deal!

Yesterday I got a Babies 'R Us coupon in my email, one of those "one day only 20% off anything in the store type deals". It usually says it excludes car seats, but this one didn't. So, I figured it'd be a good time to go purchase at least one of Alli's big girl car seats while I could get a pretty good deal.

We picked this Graco one (had great reviews from friends at work and we liked the gray and tan colors):

I really wanted a Britax car seat, but of course, theirs are not included on the 20% off coupon, so, we got this one for now for one of our cars. It's going to be different than just having the infant carrier that you could purchase two bases and just transfer the carrier from one car to another. These are a little more permanent and can't exactly move easily from one car to another, so we'll most likely be purchasing another one sometime later. She still fits into her infant carrier decently right now, so we'll wait a little while and look around some more to see what other types are good ones. We definitely have to find out if this one fits in Eric's car, and if not, what type/style will, since he's got such a small car.

But, here's how my deal went down... (so exciting!). The original price was $159.99. 20% off coupon brought it down to $127.99. I still had $25 worth of Babies 'R Us coupons from our baby shower (yes, can you believe we still had some left over?!), then Eric had $75 of gift cards he got for his birthday from my mom and Blackbaud for being a great employee =), so we put those toward it too... and our final price for her new car seat = $39.88! We were pumped.

Now, to get Dad-E to install it so we can try it out... 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cartoon of the Week

Poor dogs... I can't imagine how truly loud and abnoxious and frustrating fireworks must be for them! They have no idea why all the popping and noises are going off, and why no one is doing anything to stop it. Thankfully, when we got home from our night out celebrating the holiday, our house was still intact. Good ol' Scarlett. Our faithful and loving companion. Now, if she would only calm down and stay still when Alli tries to crawl near her, we'd have a perfect dog. 

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July (a day late!) We brought in the 4th with Alli's 6th tooth popping through... she now has 4 across the top and 2 on the bottom! When she smiles and laughs at us now, it's more like seeing a toddler already than an eight month old.

For the 4th holiday, we celebrated with my mom and her friend Susan being in town! We spent the day at the beach on Sullivan's Island. Alli has been to the beach several times now, but not since she's been mobile. she had SO much fun. She crawled all through the sand, played with it (and made a mess), and splashed in the ocean. She even crawled toward the waves... it was adorable.

After we all got home, tired Ru took a late nap while we all got ready. That evening, we headed over to a friends house, they shot off fireworks and we had some great food and beverages. We brought the pack'n'play with us and set up Alli in their office room, closed the door,  turned on the sleep sheep, and she slept right through the celebration. It was a great time for all though, even though we had to wake Alli to take her back home, then wake her up again to take her out of her car seat and put her back to bed in her own crib... I think she did pretty well considering all the action for the day.

And, since we're using this as kind of a documentary of the news/events as well as milestones and events in Alli's life, I think it's proper to discuss the Casey Anthony trial. Casey Anthony was accused of killing her 2 year old daughter Caylee. Caylee's skeletal remains were discovered December 11, 2008, six months after she was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony. Her mother, Casey Anthony, decided not to report her daughter missing, and was indicted on charges of felony murder, though she continued to maintain her innocence throughout her trial. Today, after less than 11 hours of jury deliberation, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter, but guilty of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Many are stunned by this verdict... all I know is it's such a sad case whenever a child dies, and hopefully justice will be found for her some day.