Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mail Call

Bills, the occasional thank-you note, a parcel with PR mailbox doesn't get that much action.

But this week a package from a new address made it's way inside. The sender? Hannah's daycare.

Yes, it's official. The big day is now less than a month away and we now have all of the information we need to send Hannah off into the world of little people.

With a huge lump in my throat, I opened the package to find a schedule for the year, payment information ($7 a day, yay!) and a school handbook. What to bring on the first day (diapers, an art smock, a change of clothes...), rules and regulations (from pickup to birthday party invitations), I am officially the mother of a daycare child.

But it really doesn't feel like daycare. This CPE is highly recommended and is labelled a school rather than a daycare. With kids up to the age of 4, a trilingual curriculum is taught with a gym and huge park. It makes sending her off in a few weeks seem easier.

And another mom pointed out an interesting observation. Hannah has been exposed to "strangers" since January when I started working part time. So while she may be in a new environment she has experience being left without me. So the one who really needs to adapt is me. But I'd definitely rather to be the one to undergo the emotional change rather than her. It'll be hard but worth it. Education, socialization and a full income source to help contribute to her future years of schooling.

So in our few weeks left together (almost) 24/7, I will soak in the moments and hopefully look back on the 18 months of Hannah heaven knowing that I was so lucky to extend my time with her.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

This week I had two very different customer service experiences:

The Bad: On June 10 I ordered a baby blanket as a gift from Totsy. Each weekend I waited to see if my package had arrived in the country. Nothing. Almost two months have passed and no blanket in sight. My order says that deliveries can take 15-20 business days so I emailed customer service. No answer. Again. No answer.

So I logged onto facebook and put a comment on their page. Alas, an answer! Of course, when everyone can see my complaint. I forwarded my order number and was told:

Thank you for contacting us about your order. We are sorry to inform you that your order did not appear on our sales report. Due to a recent problem found, many orders are not being recorded on our sales reports. We are currently working on this problem and creating a new website. Once again we apologize for the inconvenience.

A reasonable response except for the fact that my American Express card was charged on June 10th for the blanket. No answer to my email. So now I am calling the credit card company to dispute the charges.

Not happy. Totsy has some great stuff on their site but I will never be shopping from them again, and will not be recommending them to others.

The Good: Two weeks ago I had a girls' spa day in celebration of our summer birthdays. We went to the Izba Spa in the Crystal Hotel. We both had manicures and pedicures. I gave the new shade of light grey by OPI a try. The manicurist said it wasn't looking right and put on a third coat of polish. Well, before even leaving the salon, my nails started to bubble and the manicure looked terrible.

Really disappointing especially for such a nice spa with expensive prices.

So the next day I called the spa to politely complain. They explained that my manicurist was new and that she should have never applied a third coat. Without even seeing the outcome, they invited me to come for a complimentary manicure and now I am typing away with a lovely shade of lavendar.

Very impressed. Totally would recommend them and go there again.

Customer service is everything. I'm not one of those people that goes out to pick a fight but when service is good it deserves to be applauded. And when it sucks then I'll be the first to let you know!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What if...

Life throws tons of "what ifs" at us.

What if it rains?
What if someone is wearing the same dress as me at the wedding?
What if I miss the final episode of the Bachelorette?

Yes, there are many trivial what ifs in life.

But on Monday morning I had a more serious what if. A mom kind of what if.

At a summer BBQ party on Sunday night, Hannah ran by me, playing with her friends, when I noticed a bump on the back of her head. In the midst of an adult conversation I made nothing of it and continued on, reminding myself to take a closer look at it later.

Monday morning rolls around and I again notice the bump. My daughter is one all for bumps and bruises. In fact, the entire month of May she was sporting an egg-sized bruise smack in the middle of her forehead (because she went smack into her aunt's door twice in the same spot).
But on further examination this bump had no bruise and was in a location that is not easy to bang.

So the what ifs started. What if its a cyst? What if its a tumour? What if its cancer?

Whoa there mommy, breathe.

But then when grandma took a closer look and appeared to be concerned I immediately called our pediatrician. Out of town until August 2nd, we called the fill-in and had an appointment that afternoon. All morning at the office, the what ifs rolled through my head.

So when 2:15 finally rolled around I was relieved to be able to soon know what this bump was all about.

And phew, was I ever relieved.

Who knew that a mosquito bite or scratch can cause a child's lymph nodes to swell so much that they can stay inflamed for over a month? Wouldn't this have been a great fact to be taught in prenatal class? I think so.

With a sigh of relief we left the doctor's office but the whole ordeal got me thinking.

In many previous posts I have written about how blessed I feel to have had an easy pregnancy, smooth labour and healthy little girl. But you never know when something can go wrong. You never know when a what if will become something real.

But I guess like anything in life the what ifs are left to be discovered. What I know for sure is that Monday's experience was a real eye opener for me. Not how if you let your imagination get the best of you, it will. But how much I love Hannah. Yes, I am her mom and have been for the past 16 months but how many opportunities do you really have to just think about your love and how you have never had such a love in your life like the love for a child?

Unfortunately sometimes it takes a what if to realize what love really is.

On that note (feeling a bit like I've crossed the Carrie Bradshaw line) I'll leave you with this:

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vacation Redux

Why does vacation have to always pass by in a flash? Back to reality tomorrow - back to work, back to the grocery store, back to the routine. And in exactly on month Hannah will be starting her first day of school - yikes! Makes me want to back track 16.5 months to when this journey began. Ok, maybe not go back in time but just freeze frame where we are today.

So where are we? As I write this we're in Jeffersonville, VT, making the trip homeward. We had a great 3 days in Rockport with beautiful weather all around. Two beaches, two Targets, lots of sand, a poop in the indoor pool at the hotel and a ride home that took an accidental detour to Maine (leaving the States in one day count at 4).

Hannah's behaviour didn't improve terribly. Like I said in a previous post, partly to blame on 4 new teeth, a break in the routine and many hours in the car. But the minute we returned to Stowe she was her usual old self with just a little extra steam to burn. I think the go go go vacation mentality had her wound up. Major lesson learned: bring the stroller everywhere. Otherwise she runs around while a caged animal set loose and falls are inevitable. After an exhausting trip to Target and the amazing Nordstrom Off the Rack (2 new pairs of shoes for Hannah under $30), and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory where we both ate alone while the other walked her around the restaurant, we caved. We rented a stroller in the attached mall. But not just any stroller...

For 45 minutes Hannah joined the North Shore Mall security patrol. A break for mom and dad with lots of beep, beep, beeping from the team's newest member.

Another potential vacation flaw: food. Our hotel served a very nice continental breakfast and we had a fridge and microwave in our room but restaurant food for a 16 month old is pretty limited. Hannah is used to 3 meals a day consisting of 3-4 food groups each plus 2 snacks. This vacation's menu primarily consisted of: chicken fingers, grilled cheese, French fries, milk and watermelon. Not the healthiest of foods, also probably a contributing factor to the blimp in her good behaviour chart.

Back to Stowe for 3 days we settled into a good sleeping, eating and playing routine which will hopefully put us back on track for a regular week.

So after all is said and done would I do it again? Definitely! Already looking forward to a week long trip to Rockport next summer, and with the lessons learned from this adventure, it can only get better. Even if we're toting a potty in tow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Devil's Debut

Yesterday we made the 3.5 hour drive (took us 5) to Rockport, Massachusetts. One stop at Circle K for a map and a bathroom break, a hearty American lunch at Boston Market (mashed potatoes anyone?) and we finally arrived at our destination.

After weeks of searching for a reasonably priced hotel suite we were very pleasantly surprised with our room at the Rockport Inn and Suites. Modern, clean and spacious. The only problem we foresaw was the bathroom being next to Hannah's pack n play for a late night trip. Quite minor really.

Hannah and her dad took a dip in the indoor pool which ended prematurely with an unexpected delivery in her swimming diaper (note to mom: always pack an extra). We then changed and took the short yet scenic walk to downtown Rockport. Happy in her stroller to take in the sights, sounds and sea, Hannah was content.

And then the devil made her debut.

Blame it on a dinner that took too long or a day spent in the car or two new teeth coming in, but my husband and I both looked at each other questioning whether this was in fact our child.

The biting was back, hair pulling, throwing things on the restaurant floor...we were embarrassed for the first time ever by our daughter's behaviour. And like all good parents what did we do to allow us to enjoy our fresh from-the-sea dinner? That's right....we gave her French fries. Yes, she has had them before, in moderation. But we let her chow down on a basket full for a few minutes of peace.

Both perplexed, once she was quietly in bed, we plopped into our own bed after an exhausting day.

She is a sweet kid. A well mannered kid. But a kid who took two naps in the car, ate meals in foreign places and had a bit too much of her car seat. So, yes, early this morning I have forgotten about the dreaded dinner and look forward to a day at the beach with my sweet little angel.

Ok, so now I'm pushing it...anything but the devil will do just fine!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not-so Terrible Twos

Sorry for that last empty post...learning how to blog from the iPad :)

Rainy weather has been keeping us out of the pool so we headed to the Essex Outlets today to take a first stab at Hannah's fall wardrobe.

First to Carter's, where we were slightly disappointed. Yes, we filled up a bag but it's contents mostly included basics: leggings, long sleeve tees, a pair of tights and a pair of PJs. Oh, and a great Melissa and Doug toy for a gift. We got 20% off our purchase which mostly included sale items..but I usual go a little overboard and today that wasn't the case.

Maybe we have outgrown the bold prints and graphic tees? I think so.

So over to Oshkosh where we were pleasantly surprised by a selection of more "mature" fashions. Leggings with lace trim, ruffle skirts and striped tunics. Only problem. Most of the styles start at 2T. We walked away with a pair of khakis (with gathered bottoms) and a super cute purple knit hat, but if Hannah were just a little bigger I would have had a field day.

So whats an almost 17 month old to do? No, a wardrobe wasn't built in a day...maybe this fall we'll be discovering some new destinations to add to our shopping list.

The hunt on the list Target.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Human Sponge

More, moo, thank you...these are just a few of Hannah's newest words. It seems like her vocabulary is growing daily, as she picks up words everywhere. But not only that, she is starting to make associations between words, their meanings and their photos.

Two examples: after attending a music class at Ben & Jerry's she took home a cup of strawberry ice cream. As she was eating it for dessert, she kept saying what I thought was more, when in fact, she was saying moo for the cows on the cup. What a smarty pants!

Then we were playing on a chair near the window and she kept saying woof. I couldn't figure out why until I saw the SPCA sticker with a photo of a dog and cat. I must have a genius daughter!

I must admit that she has been getting some help from the very device that I write this post on...the iPad. We have added a bunch of Hannah friendly apps (for long car rides). Mostly flash cards, these $0.99 little miracles are keeping her entertained while teaching her at the same time.

And since she is such a sponge, the time has finally come for mommy and daddy to clean out our mouths and cut out the swearing, otherwise, we will have a little dirty sponge on our hands.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Closet full of Nothing

The day has finally arrived.

When I open Hannah's closet which used to be brimming with piles of clothing to wear throughout her first year, it is empty. Yes, all of our summer-wear is hanging neatly but when I look into her storage cubes, which use to house clothes by month, it is bare.

Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating a bit. There is a Minnie Mouse sweatshirt, 2 polos, one pair of white linen pants (what was I thinking?), and some pink pants.

That's it. C'est tous.

So while fall is still a couple of months away I think its time to get into back to school shopping mode so that my little girl can dress to impress on her first day of daycare.

Up until now she has been wearing clothes that were gifts, purchased for a great deal at Tommy Hilfiger (where I used to work and got a great discount and was privy to sample sales) or mommy finds at our favourite shops: Carter's, H&M and Joe Fresh.

But now I've got carte blanche. Yes, I do think she has a certain style. Not too girly, a little edgy but still feminine. Yes...I am talking about a 16 month old. But as a few of my friends have said, she has a style similar to her mom's (what a coincidence).

And judging by this picture she will soon know how to flaunt it...

So, where do I begin? Well, with a vacation to the States next week I am sure we will be stocking up at Target and Carter's. But I think most of it will be done online.

Probably within the hours of 11:00am and 11:10am on any given weekday morning. You read it right, I am slightly obsessed with flash sales.

Here are a few of my favourites that I am hoping will help stock her wardrobe:
And the newest addition to the kid-friendly list: Zulily

(If you need invitations to any of these sites, I'd be happy to refer you, just send me a note)

Yes, I have been known to order the wrong size from time to time but I have a good feeling about this fall.

Ready, set, shop!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mommy Bites

Biting. One of the most feared behaviours of parents throughout the world.

A reality in my home.

Yes, Hannah bites. But she only bites me (and occasionally her dad). Slight sigh of relief that I don't have to worry about her sinking her pearly whites into friends and babies.

But...ouch! And I have the bruises to prove it.

At first, I thought her bites were want-to-be kisses. And then I realized she knew how to kiss. So why the need to take a chunk out of mom?

I did some online research and have been using the following technique: "No biting, mommy likes kisses." Surprisingly, it has been working. Except one time which turned into a time out.

In the dark. In the bathroom. With the door closed. That lasted about 10 seconds until she broke into tears. But I think the lesson was learned.

So while the problem hasn't gone away, it has gotten better. And I have learned that I am more bitable when lying on the ground or on the couch. So I try to keep myself upright and hope that Hannah will soon become an upstanding, non-biting little girl.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sitting on Shoes

A few weeks ago I posted about my shopping adventure gone wrong and the three pairs of shoes that don't fit Hannah.

No bites so I thought I might lure you in with some photos.

Each pair is size 6-12 months and I am selling them for $20 CDN a pair.

Check out the Rileyroos sizing chart to see if your little girl will fit.

Black Mary Janes
Quinn Loafers
Pink Mary Janes

Blurry Eyed and Bushy Tailed

One hour.

That is the total amount of time that Hannah napped this weekend.

30 minutes on Saturday. 30 minutes on Sunday.

One nap just isn't working for us.

We kept her up the entire morning, being sure to do stimulating activities around her usual 10:30am nap time. And though we could see the fatigue in her eyes we pushed on to the noon hour when we knew she was completely exhausted. Of course, she fell asleep right away. But the minute the clock struck the 30-minute mark she was up.

My husband patiently let her cry for upwards of 40 minutes hoping she would fall back asleep, but it never happened.

Both Saturday and Sunday, she was a bit of a zombie come 4pm. And we put her to bed both nights at 7pm. Not fun.

An overtired baby is an unhappy baby. So why push her when she is perfectly happy having two naps a day? If she was refusing a nap, I'd say we have a problem but it seems as though she needs and, more importantly, WANTS those two naps a day.

I went back to the book that got us napping in the first place. Happy Child Healthy Sleep Habits and it seems as though at 18 months 77% of children take only one nap a day. So who is to say that we don't fit into that 23% of children who need more frequent naps, especially in the case of our cat napper?

And going totally against what I said on Friday, maybe seeing all of the other kids take longer naps at daycare will inspire her to sleep longer. Now that we know she can make it from 7:30-noon, we can rest assured that she won't be a nightmare for her new teachers.

All that to say, we have 7 weeks until daycare starts. As most of you moms know, expect the unexpected. Who knows what will happen in that time? But what I know for now is that my sleepy little sweetheart needs to catch up on some sleep and she'll stay a double napper, at least for now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Drum Roll Please...

I am so happy to announce the winner of Midnight Mom's first ever giveaway.

The lucky winner of a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores is: Lisa

Lisa, please be in touch with me by email so that I can get your coordinates to have your prize sent to you.

You can email me at lauren dot cracower at gmail dot com.

And for all of my new and old followers, stay tuned because there will be another giveaway just days away!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cutting down

In the past week, I have been getting surprised reactions when I tell other moms that Hannah is still taking two naps a day.

Yesterday, she turned 16 months old. So, ya, I guess I am stretching it. But by 10:30am she starts to slow down and she is asleep within minutes. Granted the nap usually only lasts about 30 minutes...

So tomorrow is the big day. One nap Saturday. We will give it a try. That is, try to keep her up until noon and hope that she can break the 30-minute cycle.

In all honesty, I do enjoy the two naps. Albeit short, they give me a chance, twice a day, to catch up on emails and get some quick work done. The temptation to not be on my iphone all morning until my 12 o'clock break seems like a stretch. But I guess it will be an adjustment for the two of us.

But an adjustment that needs to be made seeing as she is going to daycare in less than 2 months. And better for me to break her in than 3 new teachers who she is just getting acquainted with.

Wish me luck. Hopefully I'll have a positive update come Monday morning.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Giving Back to my Readers

I am so happy to announce Midnight Mom's first ever giveaway.

All current readers will be entered in the draw. If you are not a current follower, you have until this Friday July 10, 2010 at 5pm to sign up and automatically be entered to win.

So what's at stake?

One lucky reader will win a $40USD gift certificate to use on any 's 200+ websites. CSN offers every product imaginable: from baby gear to home furnishings to cookware. I especially love their All Modern website!

Just in time for summer, this giveaway can get you almost anything you need to make the most of the warm weather and to have some fun in the sun!

Good luck!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Catching up on Zzzs

After last week's napping hiatus turned into 30 minute nap + crying combos, Hannah is catching up on her sleep.

In fact, she is still sleeping now at 8:37 am.

This weekend in Vermont, she slept until 9am both mornings. No complaints here. That was the longest I have slept in since her arrival almost 16 months ago.

I figured the late mornings were due to late nights and an action packed weekend of fun in the pool and stream. So is this morning just an extension of the weekend fun? Or do we have a new schedule with noon-time naps to look forward to.

How will we ever be at daycare at 8:30am come September? We're usually finishing up with breakfast around that time. Guess it means earlier to bed, and less time to spend together in the evenings post-work.

Well, we have a few months to worry about that I guess. In the meantime, guess I should be enjoying these late sleep-ins to catch up on my own sleep.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Counting down to Vacation!

Kayak, Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz...after searching every travel search engine imaginable I think I may have found the perfect vacation spot.

Perfect except for the fact that it might mean not being able to vacation with friends, as we are available Monday-Sunday and they can only hit the road on Thursday, with the flocks of other summer tourists.

That aside, all searches pointed in the direction of Rockport Inn & Suites. This year-old hotel is located in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, a town I know well as it was the site of my summer holidays as a kid.

This hotel has all of my must-haves crossed off of the list:
Suite - a 2 bedroom suite featuring a master upstairs with cathedral ceilings
In-room fridge/microwave
Clean, simple bedspreads
Pet friendly
Pool (albeit indoors)
Proximity to the beach

And some added bonuses including:
Right outside the front door is a trolley to downtown Rockport
Situated in a super cute town, with yummy lobster
Just a short drive to Boston, which if it happens to rain (but hopefully it won't) features an amazing Children's Museum

The hotel was a tad bit pricier than we wanted to spend (coming in at $200US/night) but it includes breakfast each morning and free wireless internet.

And best of all, after weeks of searching, I can put the search engines to rest and look forward to a vacation, and a hotel that seems to have everything we've been looking for.

Now, where is the closest Target?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh Canada!

Happy Canada Day!

The first day of July is upon us but this summer's weather seems to be a bit more reminiscent of spring. One minute its raining, the next its sunny.

So hoping to find some warmer skies, we're planning a family vacation.

Possible destinations: Lake Placid, Cape Cod, Maine, Gloucester.

Anywhere that is a quick drive away and that has beach side accommodations. Seems like an easy task, right? Wrong! I've been crawling into bed late each night after trying to find a great deal online but with little luck.

The challenge? Finding a hotel that offers pet-friendly suites for under $200. Three tough factors in there:
1. A separate area where Hannah can sleep (so we don't have to tiptoe around past 8pm)
2. A place that Winston our dog can enjoy too, he loves the water
3. A reasonably priced vacation

But judging a hotel by its bedspreads won't get me too far on a tight budget.

So I ask you for any suggestions.

And if you're feeling a bit shy to comment, here's a little teaser that might encourage you to help me out. Next week I'll be featuring a special giveaway. The first of hopefully many more freebies for my loyal readers. Stay tuned for the details.