Archive for October, 2014

monstersmile
Mommy’s Little Monster!
monster dance
Monster Dance!
monster hair whisps
I love those hair wisps Daddy is putting her monster “shoes” on her, which is why she is distracted.

I’m sure the time will come when she tires of “photo time”, but it doesn’t seem appear like that time will be any time soon, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

October 28, 2014

Maternity Silhouettes

In just two days I will be term, which means we’re rapidly coming to an end of the maternity photography window. Lack of free time and energy kept me away from my camera this time around, so I have fewer maternity photos, and definitely less variety. On the other hand, I’ve gotten much better with my camera. It takes me less practice shots to get some nice ones.

I really enjoyed doing silhouettes this time around, which is interesting given I was less pleased with my overall figure.

ziggysilhouette

ziggysilhouette2
Cloned out the blinds in this one.

Paying close attention to posture really helps with these. Slouching, even just a tad, made the photo look frumpy. I even started stretching as much as possible to elongate my torso and smooth out some of the *aheam* less baby related bumps.

ziggysilhouette3
A near duplicate of last week’s photo, but with less of a clubbed hand holding the remote.

The other thing I learned to pay close attention to was my metering. If I did matrix metering the camera would select the most well rounded exposure where the view out the window wasn’t getting blown out. Alas that meant I was very dark, and most of the detail, especially the detail in my face, was lost. Of course the goal is to photograph myself and my baby bump, not the traffic behind me. I started with spot exposure and increased it as necessary. (See, I am learning! Last time I just strived for over exposure, this time I didn’t sacrifice depth of field to do it!)

I wanted to do a photo like this. It strikes me as the photographic equivalent of a bump cast. Alas, I do not have barn doors lighting. I thought I could kludge together a solution using the spotlight trick. My thinking was to create a large differential in light between two rooms, then open the door just a crack to let a sliver of light spill out. So far no luck. Turns out professional photographers tend to buy expensive gear for a reason.

October 23, 2014

36/36?

36weekbump

Last pregnancy I wrote a blog post about reaching the 35/35 point – 35 weeks down, 35 days to go until the due date. If we were counting until Nicki’s arrival it would have been more like 36/36 for me. I had my today 36 week check up and my OB confirmed my suspicion: while anything can happen, the two pregnancies are not entirely independent events. I’m likely to go late again. It might be another 36/36.

Here are my thoughts for being mostly through a second pregnancy:

I know each pregnancy is different, but I am constantly surprised at the ways in which each pregnancy differs. I expected different cravings. Last time I couldn’t stand apples, this time I love them. I’ve also been more sensitive to food in general. Black beans were the coolest thing since sliced bread, pinto beans made me ill. It doesn’t matter how they were cooked, I couldn’t stand pinto beans. Wierd no? I was also prepared for different in utero personalities. Ziggy is still more of a roller than a kicker.

One of the big surprises was in how different my sleep would be. Last time I loved my boppy pregnancy pillow. I can’t remember when I started using it, but I used it every night throughout the third trimester at least. This time I haven’t had a comfortable night with it yet! I’ve tried a few times, and each time the boppy’s been thrown to the floor after just a few hours later. I sleep much better without it.

Although both pregnancies I still want to sleep on my back. It’s been hard to train myself not to.

I have no belly button! Kindda. I *think* it can still be classified as an innie, but it’s getting close. If I stretch the skin around my belly button a little it looks like a small “popped” button. I keep wondering if this means my belly button will actually pop soon. It never did with my first pregnancy. It did flatten out last time, but I think not until much closer to my due date. It does still remind me of soft spot in fruit, though.

In other changes, as of 34 weeks I barely fit into my pre pregnancy jeans, and these days not at all. I might if I was carrying higher, but I can no longer button my pants. At least I can still wear my wedding rings. It’s one of those things that doesn’t actually matter, but makes me happy.

Infant car seats are a lot easier with modern cars. Ain’t LATCH systems great?

I have been a busy little bee preparing the house for Ziggy’s arrival, and with an eye to our move this coming spring / summer. There are a few things that just aren’t working out and I’m looking to fix.

Fans

The first is our fans. Before Nicki was born Domingo and I wanted to get a fan to help circulate the air. We stumbled upon the Vodnado which seemed awesome. It was specially designed to circulate the air by directing an air funnel at the wall and having it disperse throughout the room. As a result, the air gets circulated evenly and you don’t need to be sitting right in front of the fan to feel it’s effects. We wanted to reduce the chances of SIDs, but not chill the baby, so it seemed perfect. Additionally it was a heavy duty fan with a five year warranty. We got one for the master bedroom and were so happy with it we purchased two more for the other bedrooms.

Within a year the fan in Nicki’s nursery went kablooey. It was our fault. We kept the fan on the dresser with the humidifier. The fan had apparently sucked in enough moisture over the past months to rust. We had no idea until the motor gave out and set off the fire alarm, in Nicki’s room, at eleven o’clock at night. That’s when we learned that babies can apparently sleep through fire alarms. She woke up just as we had managed to get that dang thing turned off. We replaced the fan and moved the humidifier.

The fan in the master bedroom started going a few months later. It used to make an even hum as it ran all night. Now it sounds like too much dust has collected in the motor, and it made an uneven sound as the motor started to struggle. We swapped out the bedroom fan for the office fan. Another year later, the same problem is occurring.

The fans do an excellent job at circulating the air, I’m just not eager to have to replace them every year. Thankfully we still have on fan we can use when Ziggy arrives to help reduce the SIDs risk, but I’d really like a more permanent solution. I like my circulated air.

I’m seriously considering one of those dyson fans. I am not sure if they will live longer, but they are quieter and safer for small kids since they’re bladeless.

A High Chair/Booster

Last year I posted about how I grew to dislike our high chair. We replaced the high chair with a booster seat in February, which was easier to clean but not perfect. Food manages to collect between the booster and the chair. The chair actually looks pretty gross now, despite repeated cleanings.

Thankfully the dinning room set was already slated to be demolished before we moved. I managed to break a chair when assembling it the first day it arrived. A few days later my mom was visiting and broke a rung on a second chair. That was six years ago. Ever since then it’s been held together with a combination of wood glue and masking tape. It’s now also scratched to hell.

When we move I’m thinking about getting a high chair like they have in restaurants – those that resemble a single block of wood that can be cleaned with a wash cloth. Why are high chairs and boosters always so difficult to clean?

October 13, 2014

Lighting Solutions

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Nicki had her first nightmare recently. At least we assumed that’s what it was. She woke up in the middle of the night and, while not distressed, insisted we not leave her side. Domingo (who is the best dad ever in my ever so slightly biased opinion) very graciously stayed with her until she fell asleep again. The next night she cried hysterically whenever we tried to leave the room. An hour after she was supposed to be asleep, I offered to leave the door open and the bathroom light on. That finally did it.

Leaving the door open with the bathroom light on just wasn’t a viable long term option. Not when you’re in a small apartment. That means no laundry, no dishes, no anything that causes noises after the little one goes to sleep. It was time to get a proper night light, and stat!

We ended up selecting Philip’s HUE Living Colors Minnie & Mickey Mouse. What I liked about HUE:

  • It’s a LED, which means it doesn’t burn hot. If Nicki decides to play with it in the middle of the night I don’t worry that she’ll burn herself.
  • It sits on a desk. A night light that plugs directly into an outlet might be too tempting for a toddler whose no longer contained in a crib to play with.
  • She’s already infatuated with HUE. And probably more important, she’s experienced with HUE. She’s used to requesting colors and us being able to change them immediately. She loves it, and we thought she’d love to have one of her own, even if it didn’t work out as a night light.

Alas, even with rush shipping we were still at least one night time away from using the HUE mickey mouse light. For a stop gap I sent Domingo to Target to pick up a tap light. (Seriously, best dad ever.) Tap lights are battery powered LEDs, so they also have the benefit of being cool and unlikely to encourage playing with outlets. You tap them to turn them on, hence the name. Since Tap lights are meant to be more lighting solutions for areas where plugging in a lamp is infesable, Domingo really wasn’t sure which ones would function well as night lights. He ended up getting one of each kind target had, figuring we’d find use for them.

And did we ever! You know how I keep complaining about the lack of light by the washer and dryer?

taplight
Problem Solved!

I am so annoyed at myself that I didn’t think of this sooner. A $5 tap light solved the problem I’ve been having for over a year.

We also put one by the flashlights and by the batteries. Where I grew up we’d lose power at least once a year. If it wasn’t thunderstorms it was snow storms. We’ve had enough power outages to know the time when you’re most likely to notice your flash light needs new batteries is right after you lose power and need your flash light. Having a tap light near your flashlights/batteries adds one extra layer of redundancy.

Alas, both tap lights and HUE ended up being too bright for a night light as is. But they are low powered LEDs. That means I can restrict the light without fear of what ever they’re confined in getting too hot as to be a fire hazard. My choice? An empty diaper box.

huenightlight
I know, I know. I’m cheap. Next time I have an order to make on Amazon, I’ll get a fabric box.

The light stays mostly confined to the box, and isn’t so over overpoweringly bright as to keep Nicki up. She loves the new night light. When I plugged it in the first time I got an enthusiastic “Thank you, Mommy!” It seems to be working. So far, she hasn’t seemed afraid to go to bed.

October 7, 2014

Perfect Timing

Our initial plan (as much as these things can be planned) was to space out Nicki and Ziggy between 30 to 36 months which would have put Ziggy’s due date between January and June 2015. Then one evening while I was giving Nicki a bath I just suddenly felt so ready to have another child. Domingo and I decided the timing was right. A few weeks later Ziggy was in the making with a due date just a month and a half earlier than our initial time frame. Since then the timing has just felt so perfect. We couldn’t have planned things any better.

* There is a possibility (depending on when Ziggy comes) that between holidays, company issued paternity leave, and vacation time Domingo will be able to take off the full month of December to stay home with us. How wonderful will that be? Christmas time is our favorite time of the year, and we could get the whole month to spend together as a family of four.

* California allows for pregnancy related disability to start a four weeks before the due date. For me that means a bit before Halloween. I will be able to go to Nicki’s preschool Halloween party. That might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been racked with guilt over my absence at the Mother’s day party. All us moms were invited for a special lunch. Out of Nicki’s class of 12 only one mom didn’t go: me. I was too new in my job, and too short of vacation days to get away. Her school posted photos on facebook. Every child was sitting in his or her mom’s lap for story time. Every child except mine, who was sitting by herself in the middle of the rug. Worse.Mom.Ever. She didn’t seem bothered by the fact that I wasn’t there, and I’m sure at this point it’s been long forgotten mother’s day just like I’m sure she won’t remember the Halloween party by this time next month. But I will remember.

* There’s a tax advantage to having a baby late in the year vs early. That’s because the dependency deduction and child tax credit are not prorated on the birth of the child. (Not that I advocate trying to plan your child around when it’s most cost effective, but if it happens to work out – hey, who am I to argue?)

* Speaking of financial benefits, we can take advantage of black friday sales to stock up on any extras we need for Ziggy. We plan to have most of the necessities purchased before she arrives, but there are some things that are hard to predict. Will Ziggy like being swaddled? Nicki didn’t. Which swaddle blankets will Ziggy prefer? We can take advantage of seasonal sales to help fill any gaps we might have.

* In the cool anecdotes column, if Ziggy comes as late as Nicki came, Ziggy and Nicki will be one day more apart than my sister and I!

October 4, 2014

Disenchanted with Hallmark

I’ve been a bit disappointing with Hallmark as of late. In the beginning of the year there was the issue with my keepsake ornament club (KOC) membership not being activated for over a month after I signed up (and I still have not received my reward points by the way…). The less forgivable issue, however, is the quality of the ornaments.

grandfatherclock
The one ornament I am happy with

I purchased 5 including the two from joining the KOC, 2 from the July premiere and 1 from the October premiere. Exactly one came in pristine condition – Santa’s grandfather clock. The paint job is misaligned on the sprinkles of Mice Cream Sundae, and one of the tails looks like it may fall off. Both Present Packing Penguins and Baby’s first Christmas have small but noticeable scratches. And Happy Little Elf’s gundrop is missing sprinkles on the front.

Domingo thinks I’m being too picky, that you get what you pay for. Maybe, maybe, I agree with Happy Little Elf which is only a $8 ornament. Baby’s First Christmas and Present Packing Penguins are $20 and $18, respectively! When I was picking up Happy Little Elf today the cashier asked if I had inspected the ornament yet. Um no. It seemed wrong to take it out of the box before paying for it. It is a collectible after all, or at least is marketed as such. Don’t collectibles lose value as soon as their removed from the packaging? Apparently the store accepts no refunds or substitutions even if the ornament is sold broken!

The frustrating thing about this is that it’s the first year I’ve ever had issue with the quality of the ornaments. In the past five years I’ve only had two issues with ornaments, neither of which was Hallmark’s fault. I purchased Snow Fort Fun off of ebay which came with a scratch becaused by an ornament hook that was still attached to it. (So much for mint-in-box.) I also purchased Santa’s Magic Sleigh from amazon which came broken in two. It too was reported as new, never been open, but the break was clearly the kind of break that would happen if someone pulled the ornament off the tree by grabbing the sleigh, not something that could happen naturally.

So now I’m disenchanted with Hallmark. The initially driver behind my desire to collect ornaments was to have a tree with personality – one that reflected both Domingo and I. We now have more ornaments than tree. So maybe next year I start looking at other brands. Maybe (hopefully?) this year was just a fluke.