Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toddler Lessons and Defiance

Jenny, much like Rescue Pack, has got my back

For those of you who have up-and-coming toddlers, I figured I’d share some of the day-to-day things that Jellybean and I are doing lately. For those of you who have older toddlers, I would respectfully like to ask for advice on dealing with the ‘I’m a stubborn toddler learning that what I want to do and what my mom wants me to do are sometimes two different things, so I’m going to take my sweet bippy time when she asks me to do something’ phase.

The first thing that Jenny is doing more of is ‘chores’. Also called, ‘helping around the house’, ‘earning her keep’, or ‘making everything take 8 million times as long to accomplish’. The upside to this is that it often distracts her from making a new, high-pitched whining noise that has developed recently; she LOVES to help. Also, she usually claps for herself when she’s done, which is hilarious. And I guess it’s teaching her some valuable skills or life lessons or something, whatever. The downside, as mentioned, is that I’m usually tired and grumpy and just want to get. Stuff. DONE., and having a little helper results in either a few extra steps, a few extra minutes, or a whole lot more patience (or more commonly, all three).

Here’s what she really likes to do, in order of preference;

- Put the little soap tab thingie in the little door in the dishwasher. If you buy the stuff that pours, and you’re going to have a toddler around any time soon, switch now. This is her very favoritest thing in the whole world, and it makes her feel like a total big shot. One caveat – she did eat one or two in the beginning, and I still have to keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not pocketing one as a snack to barf up later. But it’s very cute, she gets it out after carefully selecting the exact perfect one, sets it in a very particular position in its little home, closes the little door, and then closes the big dishwasher door. And then claps for herself while spinning in a circle screaming ‘Yah yah yah!’
- Put wet laundry into the dryer. This is a good one because she use to be a little afraid of the washer and dryer, so it’s nice that they all get along now. I especially like to have her help with her stuff since, hey, might as well get her use to it before she goes off to college. She’s good with any little items, like socks or her shirts or washcloths, and she’s very funny about making sure everything is nicely tucked in there.
- Close doors. Just make sure to remind them to WATCH YOUR FINGERS!!!! Otherwise this isn’t as much fun.
- Get the mail. It’s nice to get outside and get some fresh air, even briefly, and I hoist her up to the mailbox and let her pull it out and drop it all over the ground. Then we go back inside and sort it, and read through the catalogs and talk about stuff. I feel like it helps with language exposure (how else would she learn the word ‘gauchos’?), and it’s a nice quiet bonding activity when she first gets home before I start dinner. I read something that taking a few minutes like this helps avoid the screaming and meltdowns when the food prep starts, and it does seem to work sometimes.
- Clean up toys. I need to be better about this, mostly so that I can help her learn to pick her crap up but also because then I won’t sigh so much when I look at how messy my house is. I bought two huge tubs with rope handles at BJ’s, $7 for both, and toys get pitched in there. It’s easier and way less time-consuming than the prettier and more organized little colored-buckets-shelf thing. She’s also really good about putting away her crayons, but not so much the fridge magnets all over the kitchen floor.

Ok, now the advice time.
Here’s my issue – I don’t want to be a counter. You know what I mean; the person who says, ‘If you don’t blah blah blah (clean up your toys/come put on your shoes/stop putting that candy cane in your nose/get out of the bathtub this freaking second) by the count of three, I’m going to count to three all over again and then still won’t do anything’. Counters make me crazy. Admittedly, there are some people who count who then actually do something, but they are few and far between. I vowed I would never be a counter, but it’s REALLY hard not to do! So there’s Jenny, la la la la la, looking over her shoulder at me and smiling as I sit getting madder by the second with a clean diaper in my outstretched hands waiting for her to meander over to me like a docile little lamb. She sings to herself, and plays with her toys, and wanders around some more, and I simmer. The first time I ask nicely, with a ‘please’. The second time there’s no please. The third time I use her full name and my angry voice, and then I have to go get her. I’m not interested in spanking, so what else is there to do to make this a ‘significant emotional event’ so that she learns she should listen to her mother? My mum says that even asking three times is too much for a toddler, that she should get one chance and then I should give her a little swat on the hand or something. Ugh. Yes, I’m happy that she’s independent and this is an important milestone, yippee. I don’t want her to jump in fear when she hears my voice, and I don’t want her to respond like a trained animal. I just want her to get her pudgy butt moving when I need her to. So what can I do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like OMG WHEN IS CHRISTMAS?!!!!!

Man, has it been forever or what? Blog? Huh? Where?

I’m not going to make any promises about writing more since my product has recently begun barfing all over the place and doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon, but I felt like I needed to come and post and share and all that good stuff. I also posted two items I wrote a few weeks ago but never got around to posting because, for some reason, I have been hesitant to post. Why? Who knows what goes through the mind of a crazy woman stressed out beyond belief about work and working herself into a mess over Christmas.

I recently did another drive to Canada, which always gives me a good 20 hours (times two) alone with my thoughts. No, not really alone, since Jelly is in the backseat, but since the invention of the ‘Car DVD Player’, aka ‘OMG BABY CRACK’, I might as well be on my own for that drive. Jelly is such a freaking good traveler. She didn’t even poo in the car at all, waited til we got to the hotel or our destinations. Which was good, because at one horrible point I changed her on the floor in the middle of the dining area in a Wendy’s. With the exception of some seriously bad weather (as in, 'Well, despite the fact we are currently stalled across four lanes of traffic, at least we didn't go over that snowy cliff), the drive was fine.

Jenny was VERY happy to be home but has a new little habit that shows the trip got to her. Now every time she leaves a room she has to say good-bye to each and every thing in it, as though she will never see it ever again. It's a little heart-wrenching, except that it really is EVERY SINGLE THING. Like, 'buh-bah, tee' (for 'good-bye, Christmas tree, I've known you such a short time but I dearly love you and will miss you with every ounce of my being and OMG IT'S MORNING AND YOU'RE STILL HERE THAT IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!'). So it's making me a little nutty and I've had to add 10 minutes to the pre-nap and bedtime routine so that the coffee table and front door get the attention they deserve.

We are doing our best to get ready for the impending holiday season (oh, wait, it's here? whaa?), and managed to get lights up and bows on the porch columns and Jellybean picked out a nice tree.

Look at me, I'm walkin' in mah boots, I'm such a busy baby.

I am so far behind on baking and cleaning. My bedroom floor is not so much 'carpeted' as 'strewn with clean and dirty laundry in equal measure'. Isn't that one of the days of Christmas? I am trying to get together last-minute gifts for all my service friends who never get presents any more in this crazy day and age, like the garbage men/recycling guys (Starbucks and homemade cookie baskets), my lawn guy (Wal-Mart gift certificate), mail man (homemade fudge), plus I think I might give a random annonymous gift certificate to one of my nearby neighbors who lives in this tiny little singlewide trailer with two kids. I got a little Christmas bonus this year so am trying to spread it around, since so many people are so much harder up than me. Also, I don't want my good money karma to swing around; it's to the point of ridiculous now. Two months ago I was selling stuff on Craigslist to pay my electric bill, and last week I found $40 that someone left in an ATM (for the record, I called my bank and they said there was nothing they could do about it and I should keep it but thanks for my honesty - I feel bad for that person).

Jellybean met Santa, and decided she preferred him from a distance. Fair enough. I gave up when I realized I was bribing her with candy to sit on a stranger's lap, and that was just not cool. I can't argue with her instincts, he was a little weird (ie, 'stoned').

So we're just plodding along, adjusting to her new daycare provider (which means sobbing twice/daily for Jelly and a super crappy drive twice/daily in traffic for me, who has not had to sit in commuter traffic for like almost 4 years) and doing the bare minimum so we don't end up on 'Hoarders'. Eh, we're (mostly) clean and healthy and happy, what more can we ask for?

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

I'm paying attention to the presentation, I swear

**Please note: This post is a few weeks old

Have you ever had a dream that was really super-realistic, and you woke up and thought, ‘Man, that was a really realistic dream!’, and then a unicorn ran past or you suddenly were swimming in chocolate syrup, and THEN you woke up? That’s how this whole past month has felt like. It’s hard to explain, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I’ve slept in like 15 different places in the past few weeks, and have been constantly packing/unpacking/repacking, and there’s been this super-weird mix of work/personal (parents visiting while I went on a work trip, bookend visit with parents on another work trip, etc.). I just looked around the room (me and 14 guys, where are all these women in the workplace I’ve heard about?) and thought, ‘Where the heck am I? Where’s Jenny?’. It’s very disconcerting. Last night I slept in a swank downtown Toronto hotel, ate dinner out and did some shopping. Tonight I’ll have a roast with my parents and baby, and sleep in the bed I had in high school. Tomorrow I’ll be in a small-town hotel in Pennsylvania, exhausted after a day of driving. Then I’ll be back at home, in my own bed, prepping for a busy work week and Jenny’s first day at a new daycare and trying to find time to get a Christmas tree and decorations up.

I don’t know if it’s just me and my incredible lack of focus, but I find it hard to pay attention to what’s at-hand at times like this. There are so many other things to be thinking about; remember to get the GPS out of the bag in the trunk of my car, which is back at the hotel in the parking garage on level B3. Don’t forget to do Jenny’s laundry and include bathing suits in a small bag for the pool at the hotel when we’re on the way home. And, uh, shave my damn legs this time. Get some of those scrumptious little marshmallow strawberries that for whatever reason are only found in Ontario. Send my edits for the upcoming product release notes, due hours ago, when I have internet access again tonight. Follow up with the Engineering team on what’s been dropped from the release, and what our revised beta plan is. Reschedule my dentist appointment. Make sure I have our passports. Confirm the babysitter for the show Dre and I are attending next week. Get to the bank. Will need groceries as soon as I’m home. Check the tires before I get on the road. Arghhhhhh. I hate that I get ahead of myself sometimes and can’t just be in the moment. Especially since I should really, REALLY be paying attention to this meeting. Which is SO. BORING.

I’m getting lots of grief about not spending Christmas in Canada with my family, and part of me is incredibly disappointed that I won’t get to see my niece and nephew, and hang out with my sisters. But a part of me is still excited that it will be just me and Jenny, and that we’ll get a good night’s sleep, and not have the stress of travel or the chaos of relatives. I feel like I haven’t seen her in forever, and it’s only been four days. The good news is, she’s had a LOT of fun with the grandparents; they got a little bit of snow and built a snowman with her, and put up their tree which made her LOSE HER MIND, and she’s eaten better and slept better there than at home in months. The bad news is, she won’t get to see them again for six months. SIX MONTHS. Well, 5 ½. But still. Thankfully she’s got a great Ta and Aunt Jen and lots of other people who love her in Raleigh. But they’re not Uncle Dancey, whom she’s grown VERY attached to, and who makes her positively howl with laughter.

So the next few weeks will be very work-busy, and Christmas-busy, and I’m already looking forward to some long weekends at the end of the month. And the best thing about this flurry of travel is that I’m wicked excited to settle back into my boring ol’ routine of weeknight Tivo ‘n Snacking and weekend Errands and Lunch With Ta/Playdates with the CSMs. Normalcy – mmmmmmmm.

Oh, and of course Jellybean was A TOTAL ROCKSTAR in the car. That kid is so freaking great.

The iPhone Review

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post that was neither baby-related, nor me whining on and on about my life in general and hardly saying anything about my baby at all. I try not to bore everyone who is only here for Jellybean details with miscellaneous other stuff, like how I’m excited I fit into a smaller size jeans recently (*edit – Uh, not so much anymore, after a visit from my parents and real non-Cheerios meals and then a week in Toronto on an expense account and a different awesome Thai restaurant every night) and how much I’ve secretly loved not having the nanny here anymore. However, I have a new love in my life and am just so darn happy that I had to share.

Before you get too excited, remember I titled this post ‘The iPhone Review’, not ‘OMG I FINALLY MET A DUDE’. I’ve been a Nokia girl for a very long time (even had the crazy 3650 with the circular key pad), and my N75 recently drifted off while I gently cradled it. Or, more accurately, the stupid power/lock/settings button broke a spring or a pin or something, and since that was pretty necessary to the general day-to-day functioning of the phone, I decided it was time to move on. Random strangers on the street have been peer-pressuring me for quite some time about the sly little i-device. Knowing my love of all things geek-y and make-life-easier-y, more than one person suggested I join the cult. Despite the fact that I tend to be an early adopter of some things, as far as cellular devices go I’m usually slow and steady. I’ve been doing lots of reading and news-watching of the iPhone for quite some time; I watched friends pay first-car amounts for early models, observed hackers jailbreaking (and consequently bricking) more than once, and was quietly jealous of a few really cool apps.

What made me decide to finally go for it? I was looking at buying a Garmin, and was fretting I wouldn’t have it before my next Canada roadtrip. Garmins are expensive. The iPhone has GPS. I saw how many awesome kids’ apps there were, and our gal Jelly loves her some cell phone. I got sick and tired of not being able to check email or movie times or anything browser-necessary. And I should be getting some Christmas money here soon, so I figured why not.

First, I gotta say it’s really, really awesome. Like, really. Just alone, on its own, with no downloaded/purchased apps, it’s a great piece of technology. Pretty, fast, functional. I still prefer a phone that feels like a phone, but this is no phone. It’s a space-aged communication device, and there are some things you just let go of when you have so many other things making up for it. Granted, there are some irritating ‘why can’t it do that?’ types of issues, that pop up when I least expect it. You get so use to performing certain tasks and finger taps that you come to a screeching halt when you can’t save a pdf attachment from your email, or copy/paste it somewhere else (I was trying to insert the upcoming local Christmas parade route into my Calendar reminder, obviously quite critical). And the camera is pretty crappy. But as far as what you CAN do – pretty sweet.

I’ve tried very hard to not go overboard with downloading apps, and have thus far been fairly successful (on this, our 1-month anniversary, only $22.70 spent thus far!). I find it interesting how little overlap I have among friends. It’s very telling about how personalized each phone becomes, which I think is the biggest draw of having one. I tried to keep the majority of the applications in the under-a-dollar category, if not free, and there have only been two that have fallen outside of that; an RPG I couldn’t live without because I’m a big dork, and Jamie Oliver’s cooking app (because I would pay any amount of money for anything he does, because he’s bloody brilliant and totally smoking hot). I’ve also tried to keep them organized, and are so far broken down into the following categories; Main Page (use frequently, like Phone and Email and Messaging etc.), Jenny (games and stupidity like ‘shake the phone and it will sound like a choo-choo and your kid will go freaking bonkers even though it was free and you paid all kinds of money for other stupid apps that she hates’), Games (stupidity for me, like Cow Bell), Functions (for travel, for shopping, for cooking etc.), and Tools (Flashlight, Calculator, Lighter). I’ve only had the phone one week so haven’t had a chance to get out and use a lot of the stuff yet, but I figure starting with next week’s business trip I’ll use the heck out of them and come back and do another review. (*edit – As I mentioned, I’ve had it a few months now, so have revised my top favorite apps based on some actual road-testing)

So far, based on what I’ve downloaded (and I’ve already uninstalled a few items), here are my Top 10 personal favorite apps:

• FastContacts
• Maps (great as a simple local GPS; I decided I didn't like having my GPS and the iDevice in one unit, and The Ta sold me her Garmin for a steal)
• PackingPro
• Choo Choo
• Baby Piano
• Monkey Ball
• Grocery Gadget
• Yelp/AroundMe (I still haven't decided which one I like more; each one can yield different, extremely handy results. So for now I'm keeping both and we'll see how it goes)
• Alarm Clock
• Voice Memo/Dragon Dictation (still playing with these, but like that they're free and I can grab the phone and do a quick, 'Note to self')

I don’t like news, so there aren’t any news apps, although I’ve been told there are lots of great ones. I tried out TripIt and liked it, but didn't love it - I think there should have been more it could do as far as links and flight delays and stuff like that. I'll keep an eye on it. Leave me a comment if you want more details about any of these or how to find the exact versions. If you're my cousin reading this and your name is 'Jen', don't be horrified by this list. They are the things I use all the time that make life easier, I still have plenty of other crap on it.