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!

Wednesday, August 18

Yet Another Nanny Creation...

It's been awhile since we've had one of these worthy of a pic and post.

This one put a smile on my face and I had to share.

Blue sundress, pink striped legwarmers, and pink sandals! I would totally look into the closet and pair these items together.

For My Fellow Paper Lovers

I love stationery. Moreover, I appreciate the time people put into selecting thank you notes, invitations, birthday cards, announcements, and holiday cards. In this day of email, spam, junk email, and text messages, a postage stamped piece of stationery is among my favorite things to receive. It's  like a little unexpected surprise gift in your mailbox.

One thing using real paper requires that e-vites, e-cards, and email do not is lots of planning ahead to allow for production and mailing time as well as a considerable investment in a large quantity of stamps.  I suppose that could be the reason many people give up and go the cheaper, faster electronic route these days.

So when I heard about Paperless Post, a eco-friendly, cost-effective way to still send a fabulous stationery statement electronically I immediately signed myself up. The site is still in its beta phase but what a wonderful idea! In my opinion certain events and messages should remain on paper but what a lovely alternative!

Tuesday, August 17

Happy Birthday to Zooooo!

In Celebration of O's big UNO...

...we went to The Maryland Zoo today. One day she'll catch on that the zoo is less than 5 minutes from home and we always pass it on the way to church---and I'm sure I will dread that day.
But today--everything was new and "Oh wow, baybeeee" and F-U-N.

From her stroller she seem uninterested and unimpressed at first, but when we pulled her out and let her walk about,  the whole zoo came alive to and suddenly she got it.  She started to do the motions she learned from one of her favorite bedtime books associated with the various animals.
Olivia enjoyed some ice cream, and had an all around good time with Cousin T and Charm City Grandma, Daddy, Mama, and the nanny too!

We didn't leave without a family picture. I can't explain why I am smiling so hard other than I may be subconsciously trying to overcompensate in order to make Olivia smile too?! I'm pretty sure I was yelling "cheeeeeese!"

Oh, well. Other than me--I love this picture. And I just realized that we're all wearing navy.

Happy First Birthday Olivia!

Dear Olivia,

One year ago today, you decided to make your entrance--6 days early, but somehow right on time.
Your parents were so excited about meeting you that your mama kept doubting that she was actually in labor, and your daddy couldn't decide what to wear! As evidenced by this video--you didn't give a hoot.

You made us cry the day we met you, but you have kept us laughing ever since. SUCH a happy, easy baby. May your toddler years be just the same!

Your one-year stats today were:
  • Height: 30.25 inches (between 75-90th percentile)
  • Weight: 22 lbs 10 oz. (between 50-75th percentile)
  • Head Circumference 46.4 cm (50th percentile)
You're walking. Correction--you're running! You have 4 teeth! You love other kids--sometimes too much. You say "thank you" and are learning "please" but you think your mama is saying "cheese" for a picture. You know some of your toys by name and can retrieve them. You love putting on your purse on your shoulder then cheering. We get hugs and kisses but you don't hesitate to push us away when you've had enough--usually after two. You love to give hi-fives. Our latest nickname for you is "Gov" as in the Governor, because let's face it--you're the boss, we drive you around in an SUV, speak on your behalf, and arrange your schedule. At first it was hard to suppress the laughter during one of your our sassy mumblings/back talking, and tantrums--it's getting easier though. You betta watch it, Gov!

You were born during prime time and that may be why you're always ready to perform. The Wendy Williams theme song remains your favorite song and when you hear it you can't contain the happy feet. For the last 8 months, if we have a bad day all we have to do is play the song and watch you go at it--best medicine ever.
We love you so much and can't wait to see how much you enjoy your first birthday party this weekend!



Monday, August 16

Fun Weekend!

O wore me out and wore herself out this weekend. I was dog tired after chasing her little tail around a friend's lovely purse and jewelry party. The only two things that stopped Olivia in her tracks were:

1. Doggie Kisses (IN her mouth). It turns out my friend's two yorkies loves the kids and my kid certainly loved them.

2. Delivering baby kisses to her Washingtonian pal, her beltway bestie...Madelyn!

But she literally went overboard!

Maddy cried (as well she should have) and we ended up having to peel Olivia off.
The Olivia did offer her traumatized friend her pacifier. What's funny about this pic is that it revealed that Olivia offered her paci in a sly, down low kinda way like, "Shh! Don't cry girl, you're gonna get me in trouble! Just take the pacifier!"

For the rest of the party, Maddy put her two arms out in front of her to protect herself every time Olivia came near. Smart girl.

I spent the whole party chasing O and trying to keep her from tearing down displays and generally tearing the place up. I don't think I had a full, uninterrupted conversation with anyone with full eye contact the entire time. PLEASE let this be a phase and please let Charm City Daddy be home to take care of her next time. Never again.

Saturday, August 14

Let's Catch Up

Here's what's going down in our little corner of Charm City...

First, I am happy to announce that I have a fellow dill pickle lover.  I've never been more proud.

O gave us a preview of how potentially helpful she could be around the house one day. I couldn't deter her from the mop, so I gave up and showed her how to use it.

We rocked full out afro puffs for the first time this week.

O store-tested the IKEA bed I picked out for her new room. She liked it. Now if I could just get her to lay or sit on it. I'm so afraid that the toddler bed switch (when it arrives down the road) will be the first glitch in our perfect record of sleep and sleep training.  We've been so blessed in that department. Praying and positive thinking only!

Party planning is coming along and after last week's post about my lack of craftiness, I broke out the sewing machine this week. With the help of my mom I actually MADE something for O's birthday party (to be revealed later--and don't get your hopes up).  As seen here, Olivia is an "unbeatable" shopping partner.
"Hey mom,  tell that creepy lady to stop staring. I am not actually for sale."
After hearing the stories from Nanny Julia about how Olivia loves her twice-weekly library visits, I had to see it for myself. It was my favorite 30 minutes of this week.

And last but not least, the birthday goodie bags are complete and sorted by the varying ages and genders of the little party attendees.

Glad to be done with this anxiety-inducing task---now I've got to muster the courage for the other thing that's been giving me heartburn---the thought of making the birthday cupcakes! Ah! I'm not going to wimp out and order some delicious designer ones though. I'm going to power through! After all this is the stuff that moms are made of.  Riiight?

Thursday, August 5

Never Happened.

Remember those pillows I set out to make? Well to that idea I say a big fat HA! Never happened.

Remember that toddler/tween room I am planning? Since the chair purchase, NADA.

Remember that sewing machine my mom left for me? Hasn't budged. 

Does that stop me from lying to myself about what new projects I want to accomplish around the house? HECK NO!

And now Prudent Baby's bed roll is my latest infatuation and lie to myself, but I suppose I have sometime before Olivia will need one of these to take naps somewhere other than home. I am warning you now, don't EVEN click through to the link or you will want to do it too. Soooo cute!

Now that I think about it, the last sewing project that actually I completed (other than a button here or hem there) were pillows for my college apartment. And btw, I still use them. They are sitting on the built-in benches in our basement. Pitiful.

Sunday, August 1

O-no! The Fro!

Miss Olivia after the Friday night hair washing...Can you say TIIIIIGHT AFRO?!!?!!
This is her repeating after me saying.... "Afroooooo"
Working with that thick stuff the next morning is always tug-o-war of pleading, whining, and bribing. A couple months ago I contemplated writing a how-to post on working with nappy difficult baby hair. I started taking the pictures of supplies, distractions needed but gave up after I realized O was not in hair modeling mood that day.

She was not having it. Plus the picture taking was prolonging the agony for her.

It usually takes me 30 minutes to go from fro to any braided hairstyle. Most times I just give O quick little braided plats for the air drying and that helps transition to neater, easier-to-manage braiding the next morning.

I still haven't mastered my corn rows enough for what I call "baby speed." I can't yet execute that kind of braiding with good quality at a fast speed. My mother-in-law does a good job in the corn row department. We visited CT last weekend and O sported my favorite MIL corn row style while there.
This hairstyle makes you realize how much hair she has for a mere 11 months. In this picture I'm holding our friend's three month old baby girl, Sifani. Olivia loves to squeeze and poke poor little babies. This was the first time I saw her get a little jealous and wanted me to ultimately hold her too when she realized I wouldn't let her touch the baby. She does better with older kids. This lucky guy, Kaelon, Sifani's big bro, got a big kiss from O. He was not thrilled.

She wants to do everything the big kids do. She stares and studies and then jumps right in.
And just because...more pics of the O-fro on the go. She is walking everywhere now. In 8 days she has gone from both hands up in the air in the "touchdown" position while walking to then putting her arms out in front of her like a mummy to their current position straight out at her sides. Today, she gave her fist kids' offering in church b/c she could walk down the aisle.