Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Free Book!

Click here to view this photo book larger

I'm a sucker for free stuff... So when my friend, Stacy, told me she had a free 8 x 8 Shutterfly soft cover book offer that she wasn't going to use (not sure how she gets all these free Shutterfly offers, since she NEVER actually buys anything!), I jumped on it. Here's the end result, which puts into book form the photo shoot pictures I'm clearly very proud of from February.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Ivie's Attention Span

Ivie asked to feed Macie her bottle a few weeks ago. She remained focused for, well, not very long...

video

Friday, April 24, 2009

Macie's Room

Well, folks, it's time for me to take off the bumper in Macie's crib, because she's starting to try to grab onto it to stand up. I thought that before I remove the bumper, I should get some pictures of her room, since it's only been "finished" for about a week now. Which incidentally coincides with my parents' trip out here, since they took care of the final touches by hanging the shelf and the frames above the windows that I've been meaning to work on since, well, September.

So here's her room! Minus the crib-sized lap pad that generally lines the floor in front of the glider to catch the spit up (that's the understatement of the year) that still sneaks out on occasion after morning nursing sessions. We think it's the perfect haven for our sweet baby.

Show-and-Tell, Round 22: My Little Pony, "Rainbow"

Nina and Papa took Ivie shopping for her birthday when they were here with the girls last week. One of Ivie's gifts was this My Little Pony doll with multi-colored hair. Hence the name "Rainbow."

You know it's a good gift when she demands to take it to bed with her, which she did for nap the day they got it and has several times since.

You'll note in the picture that Rainbow is pictured with one of the many ducks from Ivie's bathroom. Ivie INTENDED for them both to go to Show-and-Tell today. But, since they're not related and are clearly different items, they didn't meet my "rule" for multiple show-and-tell items. So I put the kibosh on that idea. Not that I was tough mom or anything... Both Rainbow and the duck came in the car with us, and by the time we got to school after her 3-year doctor check-up, she'd forgotten about it and I was able to put Rainbow in her hands and hurry her into the building without a second glance back at duck, whom I'd stuck on the side of the car seat.

Thanks for Rainbow, Nina and Papa! Wish you could be here tomorrow for Ivie's birthday party. I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures to share so it will feel like you were here with us...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cancun

Before Dale and I left on our trip last week, I wanted to be SURE I didn't have another pump incident (which I've documented in two previous blogs, Travel Day and Again? Really?). So on Tuesday morning, I pulled out the battery pack, installed fresh batteries, plugged it into the pump, turned the knob, and... Nothing. What in the WORLD is going on with this thing? Can you say, D-U-D? All four batteries were brand new!

In my frantic despair to figure out what the heck was going on before leaving for the airport, I made a discovery that resolved for me every single issue I'd previously had with the pump. The battery pack is double-sided. Takes four batteries on each side. Apparently when I've been playing with batteries, I've only been filling the battery slots on one side. No wonder it didn't work...

So, after putting batteries in all eight slots, the pump worked, and we headed to Cancun. After, that is, a tearful departure from dropping the kids off at school. At least I managed to wait to start crying until Ivie was safely in her class, satisfied with the explanation that Mommy and Daddy were going on a "trip," and that Nina and Papa would be there to pick her and Macie up after school that day.

The flights (through Atlanta) were both uneventful and basically on-time. We arrived in Cancun shortly after 2p on Tuesday. Too bad our checked bags decided to hang out overnight in Atlanta and not make the second leg of the trip with us (despite an hour-long layover, which, in my opinion, should have been plenty of time for the airline folks to make the plane switch). I think the bags must have heard of the fun to be had in Buckhead. Or maybe the airline folks were thinking ahead to the fun THEY intended to have in Buckhead that evening...

Anyway, so I'm not one of those smart people that packs a day's worth of clothes (or a swimsuit when heading on a beach vacation) in the carry-on luggage. So all we had were the clothes on our backs until 2p the next day. Thank goodness we were at an all-inclusive resort. At least we could waste time eating, right?

Once our luggage arrived, though, the trip was amazing. Not many stories to tell, really, since the majority of our time was spent relaxing by the pool and on the beach with friends from Dale's company. But I do have a few pictures and a short video of our two outings off of the resort. The first was a "Jungle Tour", which involved Wave Runners and snorkeling. And the second (and probably the highlight of the trip), was a once-in-a-lifetime (mostly because of the cost!) swim with two female dolphins. One's name was Star. The other one's name I can't remember, as it was something very long and very Spanish. Both were pregnant and due in 2 months (dolphins have a 12-month gestation period). Their calves, when born, would weigh about 24 pounds! So not only were they carrying them around in their bellies, but they also had to spend an hour playing with us, hoisting us in the air, and letting us go for a "ride" on their fins. Already practicing to be multi-tasking mothers!

You'll note on the video, when the dolphins are propelling me through the water, I decided NOT to pose as Superman. Note to other ladies who might wish to do this swim with the dolphins someday. Wear a one-piece bathing suit, so you don't have to worry about your bottoms flying off! Because I'm pretty sure they would have, had I not been holding on to them for dear life.

Back in North Carolina, on the home front, Ivie and Macie were in great hands with Nina and Papa, who flew out to spend the week with them. I was a bit nervous about leaving Macie for the first time, as evidenced by the 15-page instruction document (complete with descriptive pictures) I spent a full week writing and editing... Thankfully, my mom is as anal and organized as I am (where do you think I got it from?!?), so she didn't mind the detail. In fact, she said she read through it several times and referenced it often during the week. Thanks for making me feel better about being a control freak, Mom!

It was very strange not seeing my mom and dad on either end of our trip (they arrived after we'd taken the girls to school on Tuesday, and their flight left for home before we returned on Sunday night), but we talked fairly often (can't wait to see THAT cell phone bill!), and they said each time what a joy the girls were.

Despite the great fun on the trip, I must say that I will always remember the look on Ivie's face when we walked into the house Sunday night. Her back was to us, so I made some noise to get her attention. Hearing the noise, she glanced our way, and then did a complete double-take when she saw it was us. She spent the next 5 minutes going back and forth between us giving us bear hugs. And Macie? As I held her, she stared at me for minutes straight. Not even blinking. It was almost like she thought that if she closed her eyes, even for a second, I would disappear again.

Don't worry, Mac. We're not going anywhere for a while. I missed my girls so much, but had a wonderfully relaxing trip with Daddy.



video

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

Dale and I have discovered that it's really great to have something to hold over Ivie's head to encourage her to take a nap. Yesterday, post-nap, she had a birthday party to go to for a little boy in her class. Today, it was the promise of a visit from Peter Cottontail ("hoppin' down the bunny trail").

Our Easter Egg Hunt was housed in the front lawn of our neighbors, the Devers, for 2 reasons, really. First, their little girl, Emerson, was obviously joining Ivie for the festivities. And secondly, and most importantly, the grass in our yard is way too long right now. Dale intends to cut it tomorrow, but we were afraid that even the ADULTS wouldn't be able to find all the eggs if we hid them in our yard today!

Following the hunt, Ivie helped Daddy open all the eggs and take out the candy. She even managed to convince him to let her have a piece or two. Okay, who are we kidding? She had quite a bit. It's Easter, right?!? Second only to Halloween when it comes to sugar rushes... We brushed her teeth for an extra 2 minutes before bed to compensate.

For the rest of the evening, Ivie went around the house calling out "Happy Easter!!" over and over to whomever she could get to listen. Including Macie. We think the candy turned her sweet, even if just for an afternoon...

Here are some picture collages from our fun. One for Ivie, one for Macie, and one of some group shots. Happy Easter, everyone!





Tucking Macie In

I've blogged before about our nightly ritual of Ivie and Daddy coming in to give Macie and me good night kisses before going into Ivie's room to read books. Generally, I'm in the middle of nursing Mac, and she's very near sleep, so when Ivie opens the door to come in, I immediately make my "shhhhhh" face to make sure she stays quiet.

Ivie's got her routine down pat. She comes to my left side and gives Macie a kiss on her head. Then she walks around to my right side to give ME a night-night kiss. Finally, without fail, she heads to Macie's closet door. Because on that door each night hangs Macie's bath towel to dry. She grabs the towel off the door, brings it over to us, and gently lays it on Macie. Puts the towel right up to her chin and makes sure that she's entirely snuggled in.

What a sweet moment between sisters. It makes my heart smile.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mommy's Job

Someday, when the girls ask me what I do/did for a living, I'll be able to tell them that at least one person in the world thought it was important enough to highlight one day in the New York Times! Here's an article that was written yesterday by Bill Rhoden, also of the Sports Reporters on ESPN, about NCAA compliance officers.

One disclaimer before you read the article (which I've linked and copied below)... I can assure you that during my nearly-hour-long conversation with Mr. Rhoden, I, AT NO POINT, referred to myself as "the unsung MVP" of the department! Just so that's clear...

University Compliance Officers: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Published: April 10, 2009

Earlier this week, the University of North Carolina completed an impressive run to the Division I men’s basketball national championship. Wayne Ellington was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four, but the unsung M.V.P. for the Tar Heels’ athletics department was a 5-foot-8 mother of two who never took a shot.

Amy Herman was back in Chapel Hill with her 7-month-old and 3-year-old daughters. As the university’s director of compliance, Herman speaks to coaches every other day. She sees the players each month when they pick up scholarship checks. “I’ve actually got to the point where I’ve got a decent relationship with each of them, so I totally felt that I was a part of it,” she said.

At a time when the bar for committing major violations seems lower than ever, Herman and her associates across the country walk a fine line. They are paid by their athletic department, but their overriding responsibility is to protect the university’s interests.

In a highly scrutinized world of big-time intercollegiate athletics, where one violation of the rules can embarrass a university and cause head coaches to lose their jobs and players their eligibility, compliance officers have become an athletics department’s most important employee. Also the most resented. Theirs is a cordial but often contentious relationship.

“There will always be that inherent tension; really, it’s probably better that way for the protection of the institution,” Herman said. “If that tension were to go away, I think you would have trouble.”

The role of the compliance officer became a heightened source of interest last month during the West Region of the N.C.A.A. tournament, when Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun was being grilled about accusations of recruiting violations. Specifically, whether a former UConn student-manager who became a professional sports agent was functioning as a representative of the university during the recruitment of Nate Miles.

Calhoun wondered how he was expected to be familiar with the entire N.C.A.A. manual. “Do you think every N.C.A.A. investigator knows what’s in every one of those 508 pages?” he asked. The manual is 427 pages long.

Herman said: “We don’t expect them to know all the rules because we don’t know all the rules, and we deal with it on a daily basis. What we expect of them is that they know enough of the rules to know when to ask. If they have a question about something or if something raises even a tiny red flag, that they know to pick up the phone and make the call to us.”

Nicole Green, the assistant athletic director at Memphis, tells coaches that they should ask before they act.

“When in doubt, let us figure it out,” Green said.

Last week, the Kentucky men’s coach, John Calipari, set up a meeting with a high school senior who had signed with Kentucky. “I had to ask, could I meet Daniel Orton, who had signed already, at the school,” he said. “They told me: ‘No. You have to meet him away from the school.’ So I had to go off campus.

“If I would have met him at the school, it’s a secondary violation and I would have had to turn it in and it would have been crazy. People would have said, There he goes, that’s what we thought.”

Every N.C.A.A. coach is required to take an annual recruiting certification exam, and cannot recruit off campus until they pass the test.

The second part of the UConn investigation revolves around N.C.A.A. rules that limit how often a coach can call a recruit.

Judy Van Horn, the associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Michigan, wants to abolish rules about phone calls she feels are unenforceable. “If you have a coach who is intent on cheating, all they have to do is not give you all the phone numbers,” said Van Horn, who is also president of the National Association for Athletics Compliance.

Van Horn’s idea is to put the power into the hands of the student-athletes. Athletes who are inundated by calls or have coaches contacting them from universities they are not interested in attending would be able to go to the N.C.A.A.’s online eligibility center and pull up a list and click on those programs with which they no longer wanted to be associated. An e-mail message would be sent to compliance officers at those universities and the coaches would be told to stop calling. If the calls continued, the recruit could report it to the N.C.A.A.

Such a process would empower the recruit and free the compliance officer. Van Horn said, “I don’t have to worry about whether a coach gives me all the phone numbers or whether there is a disposable phone or whether my coaches are disadvantaged because they are following the rules and I know these coaches out there are not.”

The coaches’ eternal quest for the great player and the competitive edge continues — under the sharp eye of the compliance officers. For all the talk of being on the same team, the compliance director’s primary responsibility is the university’s best interests.

Seasons may end, but the N.C.A.A.’s internecine game of cops and robbers never will.

Dying Easter Eggs

I bought an egg dying/decorating kit last year for Easter, but then determined that Ivie was a bit too young to fully enjoy it. So I stored it with the decorations, and we pulled it out this morning. Here are some pictures of the fun we had! It took all I had to get Ivie to leave the eggs on the counter afterward, though. She wanted to carry them around with her everywhere!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Show-and-Tell, Round 21: Animal Bowling

For Christmas, 2007, Marty and Sheila Heesch (friends of ours from Hickory, NC) gave Ivie an adorable animal bowling game. There are 6 animals in the set, so we made her choose two to take to Show-and-Tell. She chose the "moo cow" and the "horsey".

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Maybe...?

Maybe she's got a tooth coming in. Maybe it's a growth spurt. Maybe her ear infection is still bothering her. Maybe she's not getting enough to eat during the day. Maybe she needs to sleep on her belly (but can't quite roll over on her own while sleeping). Maybe she's gotten used to a middle-of-the-night feeding. Maybe she just loves seeing her Mommy's smile (and sharing one of her own) in the wee hours of the night.

Could be any one of these. Or a combination.

Whatever it is, Macie's not sleeping through the night any more. All of a sudden. So random. And so frustrating.

I don't believe in cursing. But I must say that a few expletives slipped out last night on the multiple trips to her room between 2:57a (when she first started crying) and 4:47a (the last time I looked at the clock after listening to her cry for 15 straight minutes before finally going to sleep). Dale was amused by this (the cursing, not the fact that we were awake for 2 hours). I was not.

None of this would bother me nearly as much if I didn't know that, in exactly 10 days, I won't be there to nurse and snuggle Macie through these night-time awakenings. Nope. In 10 days, Dale and I will be in Cancun. And I was really hoping that by the time this trip rolled around, Mac would be soundly sleeping through the night without the help of a late-night snack. For her sake and for Nina and Papa's!

Maybe the last few nights have been a fluke. And by the time Nina and Papa arrive, Mac will be back to the champion sleeper we thought we had a month ago.

Maybe.

Friday, April 3, 2009

March, 2009 in Pictures

Although most of you probably get my email picture updates each month, I thought it would be nice to recap each month in pictures as we go... So from here on out, I'll pick my favorite pictures from the month to share here on the blog.

Show-and-Tell, Round 20: Big Bird

Remember the Xylophone Show-and-Tell? At that same community yard sale (I was looking for jeans and failed miserably, if you remember), Ivie found a Big Bird stuffed animal. It just so happened that Big Bird's first home was with Jenna and Adam Maloy, whose mom, Susan, is a co-worker of mine in compliance at UNC.

"Bird" (as Ivie calls him) used to talk, as evidenced by the battery mechanism in his belly. But he's showing his age now (Jenna is in kindergarten!), and has gone mute. But that hasn't kept Ivie from granting him an exclusive perch in her room - he gets to sit happily on the shelving unit in the headboard of Ivie's bed.

Show-and-Tell, Round 19: Mulan and Ariel

Sticking with the Disney Princess theme, Ivie went with Mulan and Ariel (The Little Mermaid) last week for Show-and-Tell.


I'm obviously way behind in posting, since it's Friday and I'm just now getting to LAST week's Show-and-Tell. It's been Final Four Hotel Central in my office this past week (GO HEELS!), which means that I've had to catch up on my normal workload at home in the evenings. But everyone should be headed to Detroit today (fighting storms on both ends), so my Final Four work should be finished. Hope to catch up on blogging this weekend!