Monday, December 27

The Money Shot

Ahh...this brings me joy as a parent. Olivia's first Santa encounter...

We arrived during the morning hours, but Santa appears to know it's gonna be a long day. We were his second crier in a row. LOL.

Even funnier...she said "Cheeese" to the cameras through the tears and even told Santa "Chay Choo" for the free coloring book he handed her as she departed.

I ended up sitting next to Santa to calm her down a bit--but her expression of fear remained the same.

Ahh gotta love it. We have done our job as parents.

Wednesday, December 8

The Christmas Photo: Outakes

Getting a good Christmas card photo this year was even more difficult than last year.

Perhaps we should have hired a professional photographer rather than Charm City Grandma who cannot operate my SLR, and squeezing it all in 5 minutes before dashing to a Christmas Party and a Ravens game.

At any rate---I just HAVE to share an outake that cracked me up when I saw it.

"Mommy, does this mean I'm on the naughty list?"

Pictured above: A tired, fed up papa, a threatening mama (mid-threat), and a child in headlights being scolded for not sitting perfectly still and smiling on cue. Good times.

Maybe we'll try again with another photo shoot later....maybe not. Maybe I'll just use this one. Either way, you have to stop and laugh sometimes.

Olivia's Night Out

Last night, our little family (along with Charm City Grandma and my little bro) attended a benefit for the  Carson Scholars Fund

Quick side note: CSF is one of our favorite charitable organizations that we support whenever we can, and Dr. Carson and his wife Candy (and their whole family for that matter) are the kindest, smartest, most inspirational people you will ever meet.

The event was a consignment sale  and fashion show for which Olivia made her modeling debut and I  made my maternity modeling debut. Olivia loved being the center of attention and stressing me out.

I wish I could say Olivia clearing her throat on stage for attention while other models were being featured was the highlight of the night, but it wasn't.What was the highlight? My mom's reaction to winning this coat for a $20 raffle ticket.
I wish we could have videotaped it. She was in disbelief that she actually won and made Dr. Carson repeat the raffle ticket numbers over and over again.

Character Building

There is no doubt in my mind that the following picture will be used to humiliate and humble Olivia in the future---most likely at her wedding slide show as was the case for me. 

Olivia is just getting a good hair brushing by Charm City Grandma here, but my historic humility photo was my mama hot combing my hair at age 8--probably with this same expression on her face.

Also observe the face. When and where do children learn to use this sad face?
Cracks me up every time and I just mimic her and make it back. With the hat and all, my younger brother says O looks like Fat Albert's Mushmouth character in that photo.
Hilarious and I tend to agree. "Hey, hey, hey!"

Currently Craving: Sweet Tea

Although caffeine-intake is forbidden and/or limited for the most part in pregnancy, I could never make it an entire 9 months without my sweet tea.

Whole Foods sells a delicious decaf sweet tea, but sometimes, some days there is no suitable substitute. Today is one of those days.

I also recommend these sweet teas too, Turkey Hill and Gold Peak which are found in your refrigerated grocery aisles. Mmm.

I Jinxed It.

Just a week ago, I blogged about our new nanny who had been with us for about 4 weeks at that point. Just 5 days later we fired her.

I think my blogging jinxed it.

I waited to blog about our her until that point to see how things would transition, but Olivia never warmed up to her--her bad attitude with us only got increasingly worse (i.e. teeth sucking, laughter, eye rolling to weekly feedback about her techniques). French-attitude? Perhaps.

We tried to find middle ground to her very structured technique and our parenting style but it got to the point where (even with short-goodbyes or distractions) Olivia was terrified to stay with her (and see us leave) which has never been the case before and the nanny would get upset when we actually tried to console and comfort our own child. I kept thinking, who is the parent/employer here?

Our feeling  was that Olivia should have warmed up to a presumably good nanny (that lived with us) by 5 weeks. This was not the case, so we had to listen to our instincts and our child.

It's too bad, but her reaction to our news that we were giving her 2-weeks notice only reaffirms that we made the right decision. She packed up and moved out of the house at that very moment, bumping her belongings down the stairs from our third floor where she stayed and making noise right up until her 12 midnight departure. We told her she was welcome to stay with us until she found another family--as we will not be seeking another live-in, but nope. She wanted to go out with a bang--yet another indication of her stubborn ways.

Luckily we're close to the holidays, and I will have an extended break to take care of Olivia thanks to my job. We hope to start the New Year with a new live-out nanny. But until then--it's part-time help from Charm City Grandma (thanks mom!) and good ole trusty Charm City Daddy!

Wednesday, December 1

Currently Craving: Buffalo Wings

Oooh, I love me some buffalo wings and particularly during pregnancy. It mostly hits me in the first trimester--but I feel a comeback binge coming on. I have been known to order them for carryout at lunchtime at work. Yep, that's bad...but hey at least I go boneless in my business attire--although I prefer bone-in.

I like them very saucy, slightly spicy, with ranch dressing and celery, and I prefer the more tender, meaty wingette part of the wing not the mini drumstick.

Guess who else shares my love for buffalo wings? Olivia! I gave her one after she kept begging thinking after she tastes how spicy it is that she wouldn't want it. Well, she cleaned the bone and asked for another.

Tuesday, November 30

Mini Scarf & Hat Set

After combing through stores for a toddler-sized hat and scarf set for Olivia, I went to back to good ole trusty Etsy for an excellent selection of affordable handknit crafts.

In less than 3 days this little set arrived at my door.

And of course, I made Olivia model.

Oh and see the naked Christmas tree? Charm City Daddy surprised me by putting it up before I got home from work. Made my day.

Currently Craving: Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnuts

Today is the last day that these amazing, crackish doughnuts will be available.

Krispy Kreme only makes them for a limited time each year for the month of October and November.

I am not even a sweets person but I have eaten more of these over the course of the last 2 months than I care to share with you lovely readers. Take my word for it. I like them a LOT. For example, it's hard for me to drive past a Royal Farms knowing that they sell these bad boys in there. For their big season finale,  I got two half dozen boxes from Sam's Club this weekend. Yep, $6 well spent.

Oooh and if you really want a them with a cup of decaf coffee with vanilla latte creamer.

The New Nanny

She's from Paris, France  but she's lived in the U.S. for 3 years on a student visa and is fluent in English. We were lucky to scoop her up from a DC family with three young girls (age 6, 3, 1) that she had been with for the last 3 years but the family is moving to the Midwest.

In contrast to Olivia's last nanny who was really Olivia's 3rd grandma, she is very strict and structured and it is all paying off.  Olivia is thriving from the challenge and finally learning Baby Can Read! She's more polite and oh so happy to see me come home and tell the nanny "bye bye."

The only thing is, I don't think Olivia has caught on that the nanny actually lives with us---on the third floor. We went with a live-in nanny, yet again for the pending arrival of baby #2.  It is was just so nice and so convenient to have someone around in the first few weeks, and it helped me sneak away to the gym quite often too. Speaking of gym postpartum, my silly sister told me she went to the gym 4 days postpartum but didn't really do anything. OMG. Good thing our mom is there to talk to sense into her.  I think she realized that those narcotics (for contracting uterus pain- OUCH!) and postpartum girdles give you a false sense of security.

Back to the nanny--since this is now our 3rd nanny in a little over a year, here's what we've learned about what works for us:

1. Older, experienced nanny for the early stages (newborn - 9 months)
2. Younger, energetic, structured nanny for 10 months/walking and older
3.  Live-In works if you set guidelines on work hours, food (mini-fridge), cleanliness, curfews, car access, can give them a private area of the house.
4.  Live-Out works if they have reliable transportation and have some schedule flexibility.
5. Agencies: are helpful for screening, but can add costly overhead and excessive fees/wages--use referrals from friends, or nannies looking to exit their existing au pair/nanny agency.
6. Schedules, contracts, and detailed directions are a good thing. They give you both something to consult to be consistent.
7. You can never be clear enough about expectations and it will require some tweaking on a weekly basis at first, so plan to recap at week's end good or bad.
8. Finally even the best laid plans will change with your baby's needs so be flexible.

Monday, November 29

Chirren and Chittlins

First of all Thanksgiving was fantastic. However, I took ZERO pictures. Sorry. I'm disappointed too.
But hey, here's a random recent pic of Olivia asking for "more muck peeease!" aka more milk, please.

Back to Thanksgiving--I am pooped just thinking about it. At this time I would like to "shout out" to all of the folks who spent lots of time on their feet preparing their Thanksgiving dinner for their families. I have done it only once before, but this was the first time as a preggo, and I had to stop a couple of times and pull up a stool and eat a snack just to make it through. I spent three hours alone at the kitchen sink cleaning Chitterlings on Wednesday night. Yes, you read that correctly. Chittlins people! My dad, bro and I are BIG fans. I season them with so much vinegar, lemon juice and hot sauce, and onion, you can barely taste them--but that's how I like 'em. When all of those spices combine enough to make your eyes weak (and mouth water) over the bowl.  Ahh--the family delicacy comes but once (sometimes twice) a year--Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Charm City Daddy, O and I celebrated Thanksgiving with my dad, younger brother, and my mother-in-law came down with a little 5 year-old cousin to play with Olivia. With the exception of my dad's fried turkey, my little brother and I split the cooking responsibilities (WHOAH) and we ate at my parents' house while mom was in the Windy City tending to my sister and her new arrival, Camille Arielle! The "peanut" finally arrived on Tuesday, November 23rd at 6 lbs 3 oz.!

All in all, it was a wonderful 5-day weekend filled with some light holiday shopping and lots of family time with Olivia including a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  

Monday, November 22

15 Month Stats

Taking a "bubbies!" aka bubbles aka bath.

Here's Olivia's 15-month stats:
  • Height: 32.5 inches (90-95th percentile)
  • Weight: 24 lbs 7 ounces (50-75th percentile)
  • Head Circumference: 47.1 cm (75-90th percentile)
We're hot off a doctor's visit and feeling mighty good! Why? Our pediatrician was very impressed with Olivia's verbal skills! Olivia was her usual talkative self in the doctor's office too, carrying on a full conversation with her doctor and even asking her a few jibberish/real word questions of her own.

She uses some two word sentences and finds it hilarious when I actually respond the way she wants me to b/c I understand her. My favorite phrases so far...

"I gottit" if she drops something that she doesn't want anyone else to pick up--like trying to help me sweep with the dust pan. Sometimes she interchanges it with "I diddit" or "I do it."

"I ruv vue." We all know what that means. Melts you down to a puddle.

Last night, Charm City Daddy told her to run back from the front door and give Granddad a kiss before we left. She ran into the kitchen where my dad was and said "Mmmwah" in the air and ran out back of the room. Hilarious.

And there's nothing better than a baby that tells you it's bedtime or naptime when she is tired. She chants it like I always have as I carry her up the stairs to her bedroom (daddy chants too). To address my anxiety about messing up our perfect bedtime routine, the doctor suggested that we not change her to a toddler bed until after the new baby is ready to come out of the bassinett and into the crib at about 8 weeks old.  This way she said i don't lose any unnecessary sleep in case there are issues with the transition. By then Olivia will be 21-22 months old. I hope that works.

Speaking of new baby..this boy is doing somersaults in my tummy!

AND...we are STILL waiting for my niece to arrive! Sorry sis! We just hope she doesn't arrive on Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 17


That's all I could think of to describe this post.

Good lawd, I'm tired and a lot is going on, but as you can see above--we're all doing our best to hold it together. I could only imagine if I were amidst grad school right now as I had planned.

Last weekend I co-hosted a baby shower for a dear friend. I must admit it was a lot to take on while pregnant and balancing a busy time at work and the needs of a 15- month old (and husband), but it was FUN nonetheless--AND Charm City Daddy was a big help--and scored BIG husband points.

Olivia's development and transition into toddlerhood continues to amaze me. What happened to my baby? She's so grown up. She has full conversations with us now, although we usually can only understand the first and/or last word in the phrase she says. Example...

Me: Olivia, are you ready for some breakfast?

Olivia: Eat? Eat? ah nah doli sheh sheh Nana?  (*Translation: Yes, can I eat a banana?)

Questions are answered with questions.  Commands such as "No Olivia, don't touch!" are repeated back to us "Nonononononono" while she backs away or most times (keeps doing the forbidden thing).

And most recently this week scolding gets a dramatic facial reaction with her head tossed back and her hands to cover her face while fake crying. This did not go over well at dinner out last night. We looked like those parents.

We still have a hard time holding back laughter at some of her antics. Like last night, Olivia was in the middle of begging for a sip of my water, when the waitress stopped by just to drop off appetizer plates and Olivia stopped mid-whine, turned around and said perfectly and politely, "Thank You!" to the waitress and then turned around to continue begging to me.  THAT was funny.

Overall her behavior is much improved over the direction it was heading for a while. We changed nannies recently for a number of reasons but mostly for O's need for structure and intentional teaching. More on the new nanny and that transition over the past 3 weeks later.

Meanwhile...I will tell you that the new nanny is Parisian and has a great sense of style and can braid O's hair (jackpot!). So now I come home to a mini-catwalk cutie.

I love the boots (a gift from mother-in-law), but they are already too small at size 5. We can't event zip them all the way up O's fat little calves. Last weekend we took O to Stride Rite kids shoe outlet where she attempted to pull every single box of shoes within her reach off of the shelves and I spent as much time chasing her and putting boxes back as I did searching for her size, and Charm City Daddy was yelling at me, "Babe, hurry up and let's get her OUT of here!" we found out she is a size 6 shoe! Is that not HUGE for a 15-month old?! I just find it baffling.

She takes after her mama, I guess. Big teeth. Big feet.

Speaking of big. I'm feeling big at just 21 weeks.  My baby belly is officially "beyond the boobs" and I'm find myself more stiff and uncomfortable than the first go-round of pregnancy with Olivia.  This pic was taken Oct. 24 (nearly 4 weeks ago) but you get the idea of my size--especially with those hypnotic stripes. Nice.

More to come on the new nanny, my new niece (coming soon this week, I HOPE),  Thanksgiving, and my toddler bed transition anxiety.

And CONGRATS to my Miss America pageant "pow" Madonna on the arrival of her new son Jack Ryan! Yeah!

Wednesday, November 3

On Motherhood...

I don't know if it's pregnancy or the experience of already being a mom, but these days I can hardly stand to hear people sentimentally talk about their mothers without  crying my eyes out.

And boy, did Alphamom Chris Jordan get it right on her "16 Things I Have Learned About Being a Mother" post on Oct. 20th. I haven't even experienced some of the instances on the list--but the entire thing really resonates with me. Among my favorites on the post:

5: The healing power of a hug. Hugs rank right up there with baked goods.

7: You have an infinite reserve of patience. Yes, you will be tested. Yes, there will be times when you think you are right at that edge of your sanity. But then your kids will push right over to the other side and you realize, with surprised joy, that you have not strangled them nor has your head popped right off. And at that moment, you should feel proud.

12: Don’t wait for your house to be perfect to entertain. As long as you have children it never will be.

14: Cheerios. When your children are small you are required to carry around a container of them. Always. I am not sure if any kids actually eat the Cheerios. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT!

15: Smile.

Tuesday, November 2

Halloween Weekend

It was weekend chocked full of excitement to exhaust entertain our little energetic toddler!

We kicked off Halloween weekend early on Friday by letting Olivia wear part of her BumbleBee costume out and about--since it's essentially a fleece jacket.  Since the nanny often takes here to the library or local bookstore for story hours (explaining Olivia's favorite thing to do BOOKS! BOOKS!MOMMY!), Charm City Daddy and I were sent this picture message in the middle of our workday.

I was just impressed she stood still--as was the nanny.

Then on Saturday morning we took Olivia to her first live show, Disney on Ice--Toy Story 3. While I went to Disney on Ice-The Little Mermaid as a kid, Charm City Daddy had never seen one of these particular children's ice shows before and was impressed with the performers' "athleticism."  Remembering in my previous experience (age 9 ?) that I always wanted a lighted wand during the show but had to settle for the souvenir cup,  I insisted that Olivia get a wand. Mistake! She commenced to beating us and those around us in the head with it until we finally had  to distract her to confiscate it. When we left at intermission she was returned her beloved magical wand.
Turn your head: pic won't save rotated...weird.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Charm City Grandma and Grandad's house to participate in their neighborhood's annual parade. We rounded out the rear of parade so Olivia could chase the dogs also participating. :) Here we are looking tired already. Post parade we all took a nap.

Olivia's cousin was also a bee for Halloween so she gladly strong-armed Olivia for a photo op.

After the parade, my dad got the Big Loser (least amount of votes) award in his neighborhood Chili Cookoff for his chicken chili. Haha! I think he knew it wasn't his best batch as he kept trying to force Fritos on those of us who ate it. It's tradition to sign your name to a recipe book that is passed around to each year's losers and leave a comment. His comical response was "Free loaders! See what you get next year!"

Sunday, was church (one day we'll get to enjoy the sermon in peace again), then serious grocery shopping, then while Charm City Daddy entertained his friends, I attended the Miss Maryland USA pageant with a friend--no glam this time--just mom jeans and my boots. Yes mom, I was the only former Miss Maryland not in cocktail attire-- but I was also the only preggo one.

Here's to a low-key, relaxing week and weekend ahead.

Friday, October 22

Thursday, October 21

It's a Boy!

Olivia's getting a little brother. It's a boy!

I tell yah---there is something to that Lunar Calendar for predicting gender. We are two-for-two.

How blessed are we? This takes off considerable pressure for baby number three---as I know would have been the case for Charm City Daddy. Ahem--let's be real.

Now, if we could just agree on a name. All in good time.

A healthy pregnancy is our number one priority right now. The name will come.

I felt pretty.

For a moment in time, last weekend, I stepped out of my mom uniform (sweats/leggings/jeans), and I felt pretty.

I was invited to sing the national anthem for a pageant in DC on Saturday and Charm City Grandma agreed to babysit Olivia since Charm City Daddy was out of town.  In order to get to DC on time Saturday I had to escape the city on Friday night before the big Baltimore marathon (aka Under Armour Running Festival) which runs all day Saturday and holds every city resident hostage for the day because of the street closures. It's great fun to watch though and Charm City Daddy ran it a couple of times when we were dating. Anyway...

The pageant was FABULOUS but more important--it was for a great cause, breast cancer.

I hardly ever agree to do pageant stuff much any more so it was also the first time in years that I've been all dolled up by make-up, hair, and wardrobe pros.  It was a complete transformation too. I mean I showed up in mom jeans, a flannel shirt soiled with nasty little finger prints, stains, snot and whatever else that gets wiped on me during the course of the day.

When the hair and make-up artists asked me what kind of look I wanted, I replied "Dramatic! Over the top! I never get to do this kind of stuff anymore." And you know what? I'm so glad I did! It was FUN to play dress up for a few hours and I felt good....pregnant but goooood. This is the iphone pic I sent to Charm City Daddy after the makeover.

The fabulous Robin Fleming of La Casa Hermosa (she's in the background there) loaned me a beautiful, flowing, classic gown that accommodated my baby bump.
Current queen: requisite hand on hip. Former queen: requisite hand on baby gut.

Charm City Daddy flew in that night and met me back at grandma's house where Olivia was already sleeping, so we decided to stay at grandma's another night. As soon as he saw me, he begged me to "take that makeup off!" Apparently he loved the picture, but not the up close and personal. Typical. Fantasy over.

Friday, October 15

Why One Is FUN!

I can't get over how much F-U-N Olivia is right now. The language, the facial expressions, the inflections in her voice, the overall development is just so entertaining.

-The false satisfaction of teaching her that any pretty brown supermodel in the fashion magazines is "mommy" (although it backfires when she points to Michelle Obama on TV and says "mommy, mommy!"
-Grunting to lift her leg (and making a strained face) to climb onto the couch or up the ladder to the slide
-Singing her heart out and dancing when she hears music.
-Captivated and frozen for a full one-hour stretch of Princess and the Frog
-She understands what we are saying and can verbalize back (and we understand it most of the time)
-Animals are identified by the sound they make, woof-woof =dog,  caw!caw!= bird, etc.
-Babbling then sighing and clearly saying "Ohhhh shit" while looking out the window in the car ride.

....and so much more.

Well-Heeled Desire

Dear Tory Burch Booties,

I. love. you. Not more than God and my family--but yeah, for a petty material thing---you're up there, friend. And to your creator---TB, why must you always come up with your BEST stuff when I'm preggo and I'm forced to find ways to cram myself into your wonderful fashions? (sigh) These booties are no exception! Just stop it, would you? Get OUT of my head and into my closet!

I know you are well-meaning, bootie. Just look at you. You should be illegal, because I always get in trouble with your kind. First, I buy you, and then I get grand illusions that I can wear you running through airports and grocery stores because I love and want to wear you so much--but let's face--we have nowhere to go together, bootie.  This mama needs to get more of a social life, so we can spend more time together. I'm going to work on that--and you sit tight---maybe even go on sale in the meantime. Hey Bootie! If you go on sale soon, I promise to wear you around the house cleaning and maybe even to the hospital to deliver my second child---okay, okay maybe that's a stretch. But hey--at least we had this little moment.

With Admiration,

Charm City Mama

Thursday, October 14

How the Second Pregnancy is Different than the First

This topic is at the forefront of every new mom's mind and by far, the most asked question of second-time moms. I even googled the topic myself, when I found out I was expecting number two.

Obviously the answer is different for every woman considering her age, previous pregnancy, occupation, age of first child, genetics, health & diet, fitness, worldview, fate, luck, GOD! You get my point.

Here's my experience in the order of what's most notably different this time around:
  1. GROUCHIER. I've been called "cranky" and snappy--and that's just at the office. My husband has also fallen victim. Last time I was accused of smiling all the time. I must work on this.
  2. Mind-blowing migraines. Holy cow, a few sent me to bed early in the first trimester.
  3. Chronic Fatigue. Not just first trimester fatigue this time--its week 16 and I'm still tired. I love sleep. I get evil about at bedtime too.
  4. Ferocious, bottomless pit first trimester appetite, but back to normal second trimester.
  5. At 16 weeks, zero weight gain to date. Before, I was up 5 lbs at least by now and I started off a tad slimmer this time.
  6. Tummy popped out faster--at 14 weeks--BAM there it was--and yes my navel is once again an "outtie."
  7. Less diligent about the tummy butter and belly lubrication--a tad risky considering #5. Last time I exfoliated every other day and lathered on the oils and butters twice a day. This time, I skip a day or sometimes just use regular lotion.
  8. Less diligent with prenatal vitamins. I've skipped at least a day or two every now and then.
  9. Less concerned with preparing nursery and baby gear--but that could change when we find out gender. Also I have not picked up a single pregnancy book. I'm most interested in balancing two kids under age two, so I've read some parenting articles. Most offer common sense.
  10. Cravings: still love pickles, vinegar, fresh cucumbers, etc--not addicted to smoked turkey sausage and mustard in a roll every morning for breakfast like the first pregnancy although I did eat spaghetti one recent morning.
  11. Last but not least, I now and offered and take SIPS of Charm City Daddy's  wine with less guilt thanks to this recent study---which published just in time for a nice sip of Cabernet to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary last week. Too bad I'll be knocked up for my 30th birthday in February too!
Most noticeably different is how poorly I am keeping track of my weeks and how quickly time is flying. My older sister is pregnant with number two as well (as you may remember from our beach pic). She is due in 3-4 weeks and she said things are flying by for her too! 

In fact my doctor chuckled on Tuesday when I asked her how far along am I, again?

Halloween Costume Update

After much internet searching (and let's face it my search stops there, I am not one to go shopping all over town), we have settled upon a Halloween costume for Olivia. She's is going to be what she calls a "Bzzzzzz" Bumble bee!

Thanks to Old Navy, this warm, cozy, and well-made outfit has arrived and only costs $10! See how easy that decision was to abandon the cheap banana and the lion costume? TEN BUCKS! We're all lined up for the neighborhood kiddie costume parade too. Should be fun.

First Halloween costume? Check! Now how do I deal with candy?

Monday, October 4

New Obsession: Baby Gap

Mamas of the world,when it comes to dressing your little one--do you feel styling-impaired? I do. I always feel like I'm dressing poor Olivia so basic and sometimes a tad boyish.

I was so relieved when I heard Katherine Heigl mention in a TV interview last week that she struggled with styling her daughter in cute outfits and how she heavily relies on which puts the looks together for you. And THAT, my friends, is how I landed at babyGap on Saturday.

babyGap: Bleecker Collection "SoHo Style"
babyGap: Sun Valley "Warm & Fuzzy"
Who knew baby Gap was so cute? I didn't.  LOVE that Bleecker Collection.

I set foot in there exactly once when Olivia was 2 months old with a gift card  and nearly died from sticker shock. I couldn't see past $30 for a hooded romper! As Chris Rock used to say "Good Lawd!"

Armed with another babyGap gift card, this time the entire family Daddy, baby, and I went to babyGap this weekend to grab a few much needed cool weather essentials for Olivia.  Whoah, it was a zoo in there! There was a big sale going on--everything was on sale--and with coupons too.

I couldn't even benefit from having the baby with me to size things on her b/c Daddy had to keep her happy and busy moving around the store, while I shopped in hurried frenzy. Can we talk about that for a second? I'm so terrible at shopping with others, because I always feel like I'm holding them up and I can't concentrate on what I am supposed to be focused on.  That was the case on Saturday too. I was mess. I had picked out some cute stuff online but couldn't find it and was second guessing my selections and the sizing and couldn't picture the outfits the way they were perfectly styled online. UGH, the pressure! But we survived. And I managed some cute outfits for Olivia. She still needs shoes! Maybe these homegrown shoes which come highly recommended by our pediatrician.

Btw, I hardly ever go to the mall. Ever.  I hate the crowds and it's a full time job to keep up with all of the coupons. I realized this little factoid about babyGap though----things were on sale in the store that weren't marked down or on sale online. Gasp! They almost GOT me.

Sunday, October 3

Pumpkin Pickin'

We had a gorgeous weekend after hurricane force wind and rain last week.  Olivia and I met up with a friend at a nearby farm for pumpkin pickin', hay mazes, corn husk tee pees, hay rides, and farm animals!

Turns out those pumpkin vines are tricky and trip up little walking toddlers quite often. When Olivia finally found one she could pick up (dramatically grunting of course--where does she get this?), I asked her,  "what is that? what you got there?" Her response...."Nana!" Of course. EVERYTHING consumable is a banana and there is no convincing her otherwise.

Trouble deciding which "nana" to keep.

Tuesday, September 28

I'm Pregnant with Baby #2!

Come April there will be a yet another baby in Charm City. We're pregnant!

Olivia is going to be a big sister, a 19 month-old- big sister.   I'm measuring about 12 weeks along now and the scan above is from the first trimester screening where it appears that baby #2 has the same nose as Olivia. Cute!

During the appt Charm City Daddy begged the sonographer to please show him between the baby's legs. After she informed him that the male/female parts had not yet formed to determine gender, she showed him what appeared to be a "larger than girly nub." CCD kept his promise not to buy any boy gear but he's not hesitated to tell anyone who will listen--"there's a nub! we saw a nub!" Poor baby #2.

Monday, September 20

The First Halloween Costume?

Although Charm City Daddy isn't big on celebrating Halloween, he is the first to run to the door to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters.  Go figure. I don't know what this will mean for Miss Olivia when she catches on, but I suspect he will give in and be the one that escorts her around the neighborhood.

This is the first year I can really dress Olivia up in a fun costume that she may get a tad excited about if we can keep it comfortable. Last year I dressed up my little butterball and she just helped me distribute candy to the other kiddies until she got too fussy about being up past her bedtime and I finally put her to bed.

Here's an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at keeping your 10-week old up too late.
Note: kicked off pumpkin slipper. Poor sleepy baby.
This year, I want dress up Olivia as either her favorite thing in the world, BANANA! or favorite thing to do ROOAAR! like a Lion.  Lion costumes are adorable and look relatively comfortable--even for a little walker like Olivia.

But the bananas costumes are so very very sad, cheap, and uncomfortable looking. Don't you feel sorry for this child? I do.

First of all, I hope that is indeed a girl wearing those gold ballet flats. Second, "her" arms are out at her sides like "what mom? what do you want from me?" (*Sing it Adam Lambert!*)  I couldn't agree more with you more kid. This just seems cruel.

What do you think? What will your little ones be for Halloween?

Monday, September 6

Miss Personality

Although it has been 12 months in the making, it's safe to say that Olivia's personality is clearly established. The conclusion: Charm City Daddy and I have created a monster.

With that said, we have officially entered one of my favorite ages/phases of development.

At this point the little girl has clear favorites and preferences.  I would say her two favorite things in this world (other than her mama, of course) are bananas "Nanna!" and her toothbrush.

The love affair with bananas started as a breakfast routine and now is an all day, everyday request. She gets supplemented with banana puffs, and gerber banana cookies, otherwise we would easily need a banana tree in our backyard to fulfill her 2 bunch a week habit. In fact, daddy ran to the store this morning to get more bananas b/c that damn warehouse mouse on Disney had a banana and that was all it took. "Nanna, nanna, nanna!"

Daddy also made the mistake of giving her ice cream today--and she threw a FIT when I had to physically remove her from the room (kicking and screaming) to keep her from begging for more (although I can't blame her it was sooo good).  We gave her some "Nanna" yogurt instead.

Other things she LOVES: sleep (a champion napper. a 3-hour and a 2-hour nap today, for example) the Eric Carle board books, specifically Brown Bear  and Head to Toe.  I must admit I was one of those skeptics about those books but I was all wrong. Many thanks to our friends who knew better than us. 

You can find her cheering herself on around the house, whether she is successfully putting her purse over her shoulder, closing doors, stacking rings, or sorting shape. You just hear a random "Yaaay" from a distant room and you know she figured something out. Here she is organizing daddy's shoes with her purse in tow.

Funny but true story, along with the delight of closing doors comes the danger of closing little fingers in doors. Last week Olivia closed her little fingers in her bedroom door as she was closing it, but managed to wedge her fingers out while crying wailing and still motioning a clap saying "yaaaaay" in full fledged tears. Funniest moment of the week by far.  And in this phase it's only getting better. 

Monday, August 30

Just Like That.

And just like that...I started my grad school program last Thursday and by the end of my first class I decided this wasn't the program for me. Just like that.

What does this have to do with being Charm City Mama, you ask? Well you become a new parent, balance career and home and then decide to throw grad school in the mix within the first year of your balancing act and see how confident you feel. I've told myself that any time invested in school (away from my family) has to be totally worth it to me (financially and personally). I've decided it's the right thing to do for my career. It's a good example for my family, although Charm City Daddy has enough degrees for both of us.I want it and there is no time like the present.

If you didn't know, I work at a university. I love it, btw. One thing working at a university and in academia does, it either gives you or further exacerbates a thirst for knowledge. That combined with a free tuition perk is a fantastic combination. AND in most cases your studies aren't limited to your home institution. You have a choice of any program offered in a system of universities.

Because I was willing to take a few calculated risks, I have been given some incredible, early career opportunities in the poltical arena that have accelerated my career path. Now with my position in higher education,  I consider myself in the development phase of my career where I need to hone my skills.

Like most working professionals, my graduate program needs and expectations are pretty specific and practical. "Show me how to do/think x, y, z, thanks bye." Unfortunately after further inspection of the graduate program in which I was recently admitted I realized it would be too broad and too theoretical to be beneficial to my immediate career needs. It really hit home when each of the students in my class began to do their introductions in my first class. Many had not yet started their career or were making a career shift. Neither apply to me.

Luckily there are several top-notch options for my area of interest in the DC area---political, strategic, crisis communications. Even better, I've found two that are fully online and/or can be combined with an MBA track.

So, just like that, all hope is not lost. Now back to the application process!

Sunday, August 29

The First Birthday Party

It has actually taken me one week to fully rest and recover to even be able to do this recap. Yowzah.

Although my wonderful mama (Charm City Grandma) is a champ and started helping me get ready for the party several weeks in advance, we were both overwhelmed and exhausted the day before and the day of the party. The next thing we knew people started showing up and we hadn't set up the food, tables, and we were still in our work clothes. In about 30 minutes, with the help of a few of my good friends that arrived early (I have the BEST friends), the place set up and we did our quick changes into decent attire. Here's the main spread in the dining room...

Pictured: My homemade cupcakes, pig-in-the blankets, DIY tissue poms (leopard), and a hot dog/hamburger spread.

I was still running around most of the time making sure the essentials were out, so the pictures are lacking with hardly any close ups--sorry about that. I was the crazy first-time, first birthday mom trying to do it all and telling myself you have to put in the hard work for at least one of your kid's parties with all of the homemade mom touches. It is your rightful baptism as a mom. I told myself this, so that I won't feel guilty about taking the easy road next time.  You know like taking the kids to the zoo or Chuck E. Cheese and you let the staff do all the work---yeah---like that. But my fondest childhood birthday memories were the ones at home that my mom organized and I can't help wanting to do the same for my family.

I also found a very reasonable petting zoo for a steal! I am so proud. The animals were a hit and the operators were professional and very permissive with the children. I highly recommend if you live in the area. We had goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and bunnies.

I am also proud of the adorable felt animal party hats my mom and I found at Michael's craft store on clearance for $2.99! The hats were appreciated by adults and kids alike.

Are you looking for what I promised to reveal that I actually sewed myself? Well, I ended up just assisting (cut, pinned and partially sewed) my mom in the construction of a table runner which cannot be seen in any photo. Except for the one close up I took of my imperfectly perfect cupcakes. Look for the green jungle looking runnner! 

Also here's another DIY tissue pom I made..zebra!

Also the tablecloths for the the outdoor tables were made by good old Charm City Grandma. We hope to use them for years to come as my mom made a a similar set of tablecloths with cloth napkins for my older sister when we were kids and they appeared at all of our birthday parties.

We sang happy birthday twice b/c daddy was lingering around the house and I realized this and had to stop everyone mid-song and wait for daddy to come into the room to witness the magic/confusion of Olivia enjoying hearing everyone in the room sing her name. 

And finally, what the first birthday is all about...eating the cake! Olivia wasted no time at all and devoured half of a giant cupcake I made before daddy confiscated it. 

So we started here...

Then daddy tried to keep it from getting too out of hand...

But it didn't take long before it got to here (complete with icing in hair).
Olivia actually had to take a nap that extended through the first hour of the party b/c of all of the excitement of visiting cousins and people setting up before the party.

For me it was a power-packed three hours. One thing I've learned about myself as a hostess, I'm terrible at delegating tasks b/c I want to retain all control until the last-minute when I give up caring or finally realize there are many things that others can and want to help with. I never get to socialize as much as I would like when I host parties and I am going to make a better effort to do less during my parties so I can enjoy myself more. Charm City Daddy always enjoys himself. Other than that--I wouldn't change a thing. Yay! So glad we survived! Happy Birthday Olivia!