Thursday, February 28, 2013

the future

Jon and I have been discussing more and more what our future will look like. His educational/career goals are to attend John Carroll University for his Master's degree and a [to be determined] school for his Ph.D. I'm not sure which schools he's considering for his Ph.D, but I know many of the major cities. His top schools at the moment are near or in Chicago, Toronto, Princeton, Dayton and Washington, D.C.

Have I mentioned that we have had the following moves since 2007?

Jon
Ohio > Arizona
Arizona > Chicago (apartment #1)
Chicago (#1) > Chicago (apartment #2)
Chicago (apartment #2) > Danielle's apartment (#2; stuff only)
Jon from Chicago > his parent's in Ohio
Parents > Married apartment #1

Danielle
Parent's in Ohio > Chicago Dorm
Dorm > Chicago (apartment #1)
Chicago (apartment #1) > Chicago (apartment #2)
Chicago (apartment #2) > Parent's in Ohio

Both
North Royalton (married apartment #1) > Fairlawn  (married apartment #2)
Fairlawn  (married apartment #2) > House

In case you're counting, that's 12 moves in about 6 years. *breaks into a cold sweat at the prospect of moving again any time soon* That being said, there are no Ph.D. programs in our area so if he does follow that track a move is imminent. I'm torn because I love the idea of exploring a new city, but at the same time all of our family is here. If we move I'd also need to find a new job which would be a challenge that I'm not necessarily ready for and I really do love my company. The good news is a Ph.D.-related move is at least 3-4 years away, and there are a lot of contingencies involved. I don't necessarily enjoy the unknown given my obsession for planning. However, a wise friend told me that there are so many knowns in my life right now it's good to have some uncertainty. I think she's right, but I also think I'm going to have a panic attack if/when we decide to take the plunge and sell our house, find a new one, etc. Hold me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

down with the sickness

Per the status quo, all 3 of us are yet again down for the count. I had been hoping that we were out of the woods with the turn of the weather around the corner but alas, team flip has never been very lucky with regard to our health.

In other news, I've been temporarily moved at work (again) to the front of the office where there are predominantly cubes. I'm focused on 1 project only the rest of the quarter so it was decided that it made more sense for me to be out by the development team so we don't have to walk back and forth all day. My new view includes a window looking out towards a section of the parking lot where geese congregate. Yesterday one goose walked right up to the window and was looking in like a little creep. Before I could snap a picture, my coworker scared it away. Easily the highlight of my day. Easily amused.
New view with window where said goose was creepin
We got our tax refund yesterday. We've already spent about 30% of it on replacing 3 windows upstairs (2 in Elden's room, 1 in ours) that have fogged up. One of Elden's windows actually has about 2 inches of standing water in it. We are putting half of the refund in savings as an 'emergency fund' (we literally have no savings at the moment--used all of it up to put 20% down on our house) and the remaining is going out the door to that preventative termite treatment that we still haven't done, a shed (right now all of our lawn and garden tools are chilling in our sun porch) and, if we have any money left, a whole house fan. We're also contemplating taking out a super small home equity loan to replace our front door and work on the downstairs half bath that I still perpetually avoid because it terrifies me. Have to talk to the bank to get more information on that, though. In Elden news, we can add zucchini to the list of beloved foods. The more we talked about his favorites (avocado, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, cucumber and zucchini) the more I think he might just love the color green. That being said, he recently tried yogurt on toast and that was a HUGE hit:

Friday, February 22, 2013

twenty-nine

At 29 weeks, Elden weighs 18.25 pounds and is still in the process of cutting 4 or so upper teeth. He's been cracking up about random things and has started babbling words like "dada" (although I'm not sure he's figured out what that means just yet). Baby-led weaning is on a brief hiatus as he isn't very interested in foods. We continue to introduce them but the teething seems to be making him miserable so he's not interested in much else. He's taken to delaying his evening nap as long as possible and within 2-3 minutes of me taking him to his room he rests his head on my shoulder and dozes off. That boy knows just how to slay me!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

cuddled

Well, it took 4 days but I caught Jon's flu. I was out of commission from Monday to Tuesday night.  I can't remember the last time I felt that terrible.

This morning at 4 am, a certain little guy awoke. I figured he was 1) hungry (because I was dehydrated from vomfest 2k13 so he probably didn't get much milk from me right before bed, 2) sick with the flu or potentially an ear infection, 3) teething, or 4) all of the above.

I went in and nursed him (around the same time Marsala decided to jump on the flu-train and yakked on our carpet) and laid him back down but he was still very angry which ultimately segued into tossing and turning and whimpering. Oh, my heart. Those whimpers. I finally decided to go in and just hold him because this is very out of character for him so I figured something must be amiss.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes or so, I held, bounced, rocked, and swayed my little guy. He would move between cuddly (head on my shoulder, me melting) to fussy to playful (grabbing wildly at the rocking chair cushion with both hands). Finally around 5:30 he let me lay him down next to me in our bed and drifted off to sleep. His internal alarm clock rang at 6 on the nose, he nursed, we changed him, etc. We took his temp, no fever, so we're pretty certain it's not an ear infection. He's still cutting several top teeth so we gave him some acetaminophen and he dozed off for a good hour. I'm not ruling the flu out just yet as neither Jon nor I had fevers during ours.

All I know is there's no greater feeling than knowing your mere presence is enough to calm your otherwise unhappy little human. I hope I always remember the way his little shoulders relaxed a few minutes after I began holding him and the way he placed his left hand on my right cheek when he finally let me lay him down. I've never felt so wanted or needed in my entire life and it was very humbling.

*This is my 500th post on YNP. I can't believe I've written so many mundane things about my life in one space, but I am so glad I have it all documented so that one day I can reread some of them and wonder what the heck I was thinking relive so many important memories so vividly.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

deals

Teething & a cold has made for a cranky little man who has fought us tooth and nail to avoid his naps. While Jon was at work today I decided to take Elden to the local mall to save my sanity and hopefully tire him out. Naturally, I headed towards the President's Day sales in the kiddo stores. I walked out of Children's Place and Crazy 8 with a handful of stuff for less than $20 total.
I got him a few tanks for the summer, 2 winter hats that will fit him wonderfully next winter ($1/each), a baseball cap, sandals, and my personal fave: 
Sunglasses that look somewhat like his daddy's frames! More importantly, someone fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept for an hour and a half--a time that's been unheard of around these parts lately. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

sandwichaholic

YOU GUYS. Right now, I'm doing this:
Why such merriment, you ask? I like to think I would give Heathcliff Huxtable a run for his money when it comes to his love for sandwiches. As in, if it was a real thing, I would also experience this (at 0:54):
Disclaimer: I'm not talking about the How I Met Your Mother variety of sandwiches.


If asked to rank my favorite non-people/salvation things, the order would be something along the lines of:
1. Sleep
2. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
3. A habitable planet that supports things like, you know, breathing

About #2: I had my first Potbelly sandwich in Chicago at 19. Thus began a very complicated romantic relationship. Let's just say that if people could marry sandwiches, Jon would have been concerned. I once dropped my leftover Potbelly on my kitchen floor when I was taking it out of the oven. I literally cried. Then I ate it anyway. Then we moved back home and the closest Potbelly was 2-2.5 hours south in Columbus. I made more than a couple treks down that way to seek out my former flame. When I flew to New Orleans for that conference last April I jumped at the flight that had a connection in Midway because I knew there was a Potbelly in the airport. I ordered a "big" at 6:45 am. The guy asked if it was for lunch. I said yes. Then I scarfed it down at my gate. Then they opened one in downtown Cleveland and another in Beachwood and I did a happy dance until I realized they still were terribly inconvenient for us to get to. Fastforward to tonight. A few (great!) friends posted a picture of their new car to Facebook:
I very quickly realized this location is right by my work, literally 5 minutes away. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature Potbelly sign, one that's so near! 
I immediately commented on the picture to confirm the location and inquire if my eyes were deceiving me. This was a very serious matter, though, so I quickly navigated to Potbelly's website and found this:
And that, my friends, is why I'm doing the Carlton.

Friday, February 15, 2013

twenty-eight

As you can tell by the red/watery/swollen eyes, Elden is fighting yet another cold. Meanwhile, Jon is fighting a nasty flu strain that kept him both of us up pretty much all night. We're praying Elden doesn't catch it and are ensuring Jon stays as far away from him as possible but with how fast it came on we know Elden was exposed to it. Baby-led weaning is still going very well. His favorites seem to be sweet potato, avocado, and green beans. More importantly, every time we put his tray down in front of him he gets so excited and immediately starts grabbing at whatever he can so he is clearly into the whole 'trying new foods' thing. He's getting a little better about sitting up on his own but isn't in any hurry to master it. He can Houdini out of just about any pair of shoes I put on him (exhibit A, left foot). He's still attempting to cut 2-4 top teeth which has not been very fun, but he is otherwise a happy munchkin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

pina coladas

We saw the specialist about Elden's head shape yesterday and have great news: he doesn't need a helmet! The lopsidedness is only about 3mm different from one side to the other and she said they don't start helmeting until the difference is about 1.5cm. So that's a big blessing, especially for our pocketbooks!

Since the appointment was at 2 down in Akron (I work in Cleveland), I didn't head back into work. This is another one of the perks of working for my company: flex time. The bigger blessing is the fact that with all of those nights and weekends I've been putting in I've already more than made up those few hours I missed so I didn't have that looming over my head. Speaking of work, I've gotten a bit neurotic. I'm currently the main test engineer for all of our product lines, so when I have deadlines upon deadlines I cannot afford for a test to get jacked up. Case in point:
That would be 4 sensors, 1 thermocouple, 4 computers, and 6 "TEST IN PROGRESS" signs. Hey, neurosis! 
Following the appointment, I ran and got gas and, upon realizing someone fell asleep in the back, continued on to get an oil change that was needed about 3000 miles ago. I was so happy to finally knock that off my list and still have some extra time with Elden once he woke up and we got home. At one point I ran into the kitchen for something and when I came back out this is how I found him:
I started cracking up and he got a huge grin on his face, as if he knew what he had done was silly. Once Jon got home from school, he busted out the uber romanticism and changed the lightbulb above our garage door that has been burned out since we moved in last May, along with the one in the garage door motor so that we actually have lights turn on automatically as we open/close it, and changed our windshield wiper blades that he bought a few weeks back. Is it weird that things like that make me feel so loved??

Stream of consciousness change: the other night after we put little down, Jon and I got to work on some virgin pina coladas I've been craving. And before you ask, I'm not pregnant. I just happen to like virgin blended beverages because they're much sweeter and smoothie-esque. We have a little bit of a sweet tooth problem at casa de flip. We keep saying we need to eat better but totally drop the ball on actually doing so. Once I stop breastfeeding we're going to go back on Weight Watchers because it helped us to really eat healthy and control our portions, not because we want to lose weight. But for now, I will drink as many pina coladas as I can possibly muster.
cream of coconut+pineapple juice+dash of cream+ice
We aren't having any big 'to do' for Valentine's this year, as is our tradition due to finances. Instead, we're going to put off dinner until after we put Elden to bed and cook bacon-wrapped filets, green beans, and potatoes. Or we'll probably end up cooking at our normal dinner time (5) and fall asleep on the couch to whatever's on after Big Bang Theory. I'm telling you. We're 24/25 going on 72.

Monday, February 11, 2013

valentine

We love Elden's daycare. The teachers from the older classes often go visit the babies/our boy on their breaks so I wanted to make all the teachers something for Valentine's Day. A few weeks back my mom and sister made strawberry shortcake cupcakes that were heavenly! This was not a hard decision. I also wanted to make something extra special for his actual teachers. I found these adorable metal buckets in the Dollar Spot at Target, along with Valentine's-themed cellophane baggies. I opted for chocolate covered Oreos with a little Sweethearts accent.

I headed over to my mom's yesterday and we all set to work. I was so happy with the final products:
My mom and sister pretty much handled this while I tended to a cranky, teething boy. Thanks you two!
To make the Oreos, I used a double boiler and mixed chocolate chips with melting chocolate. I used one fork to move the Oreos around and then a second to slide it off the fork onto wax paper. I then topped with a sweetheart and some sprinkles.
I then set each sheet outside to harden up. Once cooled, I put them in the cellophane baggies into the metal tins. Finally, I topped off each gift with a "thumb-body loves you" card. Thanks, Pinterest!
Jon's taking the cupcakes tomorrow and the tins on Wednesday. I hope his teachers know how much our guy loves them and how grateful we are for them!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

twenty-seven

Teeth! They're everywhere! A new one has just begun to poke through his upper gums and it appears like one, but possibly up to three, are not far behind. We also put him back in his Johnny Jump-Up for the first time in a while last night and he LOVED it--he even bounced a few times! As of his 6-month well visit, he was 27.7" long (75-90%), 44 cm head circumference (50-75%), and 18.25 pounds (50-75%). He usually naps 2-3 times per day for generally no more than 45 minutes at a time, but he does sleep through the night from 7:45-6. Elden is still figuring out how to get from belly to back again but his hand/eye coordination is pretty impressive and he is really into baby-led weaning. Not to mention his belly laughs... those get me every time. We also saw a shyer side of him for the first time the other day which was a surprise to us because up until this week he never had an issue around people he wasn't used to seeing once per week (basically, us and daycare). I'm curious to see if he's going to end up being super shy like his dad or an extrovert like his mom!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

snip

The more hair that breaks and falls out and the more Elden grabs ferociously at my not-so-luscious locks, the urge to just chop my hair off grows stronger.

I blame Kim for planting the idea in my head. ;)

Another fueling factor is the fact that I haven't gotten my hurrs did since right after Elden was born. *Insert this sound here*

I scoured the interwebs (for all of 5 minutes) and found the following extremely similar styles that I seem to be gravitating towards:
{Image Source}
{Image Source}
{Image Source}
{Image Source}
Things to consider: 
  • With my face shape I know I couldn't pull off a pixie-type cut. 
  • I have very fine hair, but a whole lot of it
  • I think bangs are SUPER cute... except I usually hate having any hair in my face so I pin them back when I do have them
  • Because my hair is fine/there's a ton of it, it lacks volume greatly
I think my favorite styles are 2 and 3 above. I'm going to see if I can get an appointment this Saturday before Jon goes into work. Which hair cut do you recommend (even if it's not pictured above)?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

the case for paid maternity leave

For the longest time, I identified myself as a Republican.

As I've gotten a bit older, I find my views shifting. I definitely qualify myself as more of an independent these days.

I am no longer against gay marriage (I plan on writing a whole post discussing this soon), but I am pro-life. This becomes murky for me in the cases of rape, incest, maternal health, etc. I think our healthcare system needs to be improved, but I'm not quite sure what that should look like and how much the government should be involved in it. I have no real opinion on gun control, I believe women should receive equal pay as men, and I think the U.S. should get its troops out of most of the countries we're currently in (places like Japan, Germany, Australia, the UK).

One of the biggest things that has turned me off about the Republican party, though, is their obvious hypocrisy. Although, in their defense, I suppose all politicians are at least somewhat hypocritical.

Paid maternity leave: the U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid maternity leave [1]. When I had Elden, I did not receive any compensation while I took my 6 weeks of maternity leave. I used 2 weeks of vacation time to get some money, but we went a month on Jon's income alone, which was less than $800. That coupled with the delivery expenses (even with my decent insurance, it cost us somewhere on the order of $2500-$3000 to have him) has actually left us with some lingering debt towards delivering him. For a party that places such an emphasis on family values, Republicans sure do overlook one of the critical parts of creating a family: the cost/ability to even have children. Insurance coverage, or lack thereof, of fertility treatments is an entirely different problem that I'll save discussing for another time.

As a family that relies on my income to merely survive (we would be at extreme poverty levels on Jon's income alone), the lack of paid maternity leave really hurt us. I'm not suggesting that the government subsidize maternity leave, but if they feel like getting all up in the healthcare insurance industry's bizznass I think they should consider forcing (creating?) some short-term disability-type benefits. For instance, my employer currently does not offer short-term disability. I've looked for it independently, but it seems as though any insurance company that sells to individuals explicitly excludes maternity leave, and even then, I was only able to find two companies that even sell policies at the individual level. I've heard the argument that everything has a price and it would affect consumers in other ways.

However, this is already affecting the taxpayer. States that had no paid maternity leave saw nearly 25% of new moms receiving an average of $749 in public assistance in the year post-birth. States with paid leave saw 10% of new moms receiving an average of $358 in that year [2]. Monetary issues aside, studies have shown that maternal and children's health benefit in the long-term when paid maternity leave is offered because it encourages breastfeeding (which has shown decreased breast cancer risk in mothers to stronger immune systems in babies, to name a few) [3]. When babies are not breastfed, studies have also shown that there is a delay in childhood immunization administration, financial hardship, and postpartum depression [3]. Finally, paid leave has been shown to improve the odds of women returning to work [3].

For a country that is so concerned about its declining birth rate [4], you'd think this issue would be more on the forefront. Paid maternity leave improves birth rates, dubbed 'familism' [5]. And don't even get me started on childcare expenses for working parents. Jon and I have discussed what it would look like to add #2 to our family and even if we sent both kids to daycare part-time (less than 25 hours/week), it would cost us at least $13,312 per annum at our present, surprisingly affordable daycare provider. This number exceeds $20,000 per year if both had to go full-time. That's pretty ridiculous, people. Our current combined income is modest--we are somewhere in the middle of the 15% tax bracket for 2012--and when you throw in student loan repayments (just mine; not sure what we'll do when Jon's out of deferment if he can't get a job that pays more than minimum wage) of approximately $500/month and daycare expenses to keep us above the 10% bracket, we don't even break even every month. The way the system works now is we either work and contribute to society via tax dollars while seriously struggling to make ends meet due to lack of maternity leave and staggering daycare expenses, or we forego working to avoid the daycare expense and therefore rely on public assistance to put food on our table. If that's not a broken system then I don't know what is.

I'm hoping that as the current Congress moves towards 'aging out' of politics, younger politicians with a better societal worldview will see the benefit of enacting some sort of a paid maternity leave policy. In the meantime, please consider signing the Working Mother petition for paid parental maternity leave here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

hey homie

I've been nominated for a Homies blogging award. If you like this little space, would you consider voting for me?

To do so:
1. Go  to http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/best-family-kids-blog-the-homies-2013-183536
2. You need to have an account... all you need to do is provide an email, display name, and password
3. Scroll down until you see 'young, not powerless'
4. Click to vote

Voting ends February 8th :)

more teeth

Elden has been grouchier than normal the past 5 days and nights have been rougher than usual with him crying when we put him down for the night and waking up about once every hour/crying after. Following the second night of this, we went in around 11 and gave him a smaller dose of baby acetaminophen, wondering if teething might be the cause. The next night we avoided it because we didn't see or feel any new teeth poking through and obviously didn't want to medicate him for no reason. By 11 pm he slept the rest of the night without much fuss so we weren't sure what was causing it. The fourth night we ended up going in to give him a dose of the acetaminophen after consistent wake-ups. It did the trick, just like the second night. We figured teething must be the cause because he got his first two teeth right around 4 months (normal age is 6-8 months) and the top central incisors normally come in around 8-10 months, so we were right on track if he stayed 2 months ahead with the teeth.

The ultimate confirmation for us came yesterday when daycare suggested he might be teething. We figured they're basically baby experts so before bed last night we gave him the dose of painkiller. He slept, well, like a baby the rest of the night. Also, where the heck did that saying originate? It's been my experience that most babies don't sleep. Deception!

This morning when we changed his diaper Jon noticed his front left upper central incisor just beneath his gums. Not certain if the right one is a bit further behind that one but gosh we hope so because having his first 2 teeth pop through at the same time certainly made teething less miserable! Teething also explains why he was such a little rabbit last night and ferociously munching down on his roasted carrot:
Also, we are in dire need of a no-spill sippy cup. We have a few of the toddler-age variety so in the meantime we have to give him bottles (prune juice in this case). Any recommendations for good no-spill sippies?
Today we're sending some cucumber sticks to daycare with him to help alleviate some of the teething pain (the cold helps and so does the soothing-type property of cucs). Just like with his bottom teeth, we only want to give (one dose of) acetaminophen at night and none during the day because he seems to manage okay during the day. Also, his daycare told us we could send cereal in for him so I think we need to let them know he's on the baby-led weaning train. I'm hoping they're not terrified of the prospect. We gave him a cucumber stick last night to make sure he could manage it okay (seen in the above picture, half devoured) and he did fine so I feel better about letting his school give him some.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

six months old

We started baby-led weaning again today. To say it was a roaring success would be an understatement:
We also found a few button-down shirts at the thrift store which called for his bow tie and a cardigan:
I seriously can't believe he's half a year old. All I want to do is squeeze him!

Friday, February 1, 2013

twenty-six

At almost 6 months old (noooooooooooooo), Elden is SUCH a happy kid. The days of colic are nothing more than a haunting memory. He seems to alternate between side and tummy sleeping at night and definitely prefers his left side (like his ma!). He is starting to sit up unassisted here and there. Elden giggles a lot more and loves touching everything he sees. We are starting baby-led weaning again this weekend and since he has been showing us his 'chewing' lately we think he's actually ready for it this time around. Happy half-birthday little man! We love you to the moon and back.