Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Take my daughter to work day

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Case in point: my daycare situation. We've cobbled together a pretty good patchwork of family members to care for Ava while either me or J. are working. But a couple weeks ago, it all fell through and Ava ended up at work with me for the afternoon.
It was an impromptu celebration of Take My Daughter To Work Day, although I think they ("they" meaning faceless hordes who do stuff that can't be verified) changed it to Take My CHILD To Work Day because apparently some parent of a boy felt they were being left out of the chance to see how women, on average, still make 70-cents to the dollar most men make for the same work. But I'm digressing.

Taking MY daughter to work was great except for the having to work part. Typing, sitting in meetings and thinking about work things are not so easy with a 4 month old vying for your attention. Shocker.

Fortunately, she loves seeing new people and was quite content to hang out with some of my co-workers while I finished a meeting. Once again, the sisterhood of women came through in a pinch. Oh, the blessings that surround me.

But I'd be lying if I said I've got this work/life thing figured out. I feel as if I'm keeping all the balls in the air, but not doing any of them well. I'd like to drop all volunteer activities that require evening meetings, but I can't bring myself to. Here's why I'd like to: if I can't at least run home before an evening meeting, I miss out on seeing Ava awake for the day, which is just not acceptable to me.

So she's tagged along a couple times to meetings. Not professional, I know, even though she's been a perfect, quiet little angel both times. But I figure hey: I'm a work-outside-the-home mom of a 4 1/2 month old: they (faceless hordes again) can deal with it or suck it. Did I mention I've become a bit more brusque? I re-prioritized what I can fit into my life and niceties solely for the benefit of others was just edged out on the list by shaving my legs periodically and anything involving sleep.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention: the whole sleep thing is not going well. I'm running on fumes, so is the baby most days, and she's not getting good naps or sleep, so no one's getting rest. Aargh. On the bright side, when she is awake and not desperate for sleep, she's the happiest baby around. Me too, now that I think about it. We'll get it figured out eventually. We're only 4+ months in after all. There's no where to go but up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Crime time in Canada

At long last, Ava's passport came a couple weeks ago and it's super cool. It's the new, fancy one with the electronic (don't call it Big Brother) stripe in it. So it seemed fitting that on the weekend before the Marting Luther King Jr. holiday, we hit the road for Canada, thus celebrating a freedom of movement and travel that was unprecedented for African Americans in King's lifetime.

I sometimes wonder how Ava's generation will view issues of race and the convoluted history of people of color in the U.S. Will it be irrelevant and her interest level much like mine in paleolithic era civilizations? Which is to say, cursory at best? Let's hope she's all, "Racism? Oh yeah, I read about that in History class. Hard to believe how backward people used to be. That's so 20 years ago."

Sidebar: what's an Emelkay Holiday and why is it worthy of shrill commercials advertising "some of the best prices of the year?" That's what one local commercial sounded like: "COME ON DOWN TO MATTRESS TOWN!!!!* THIS EMELKAY WEEKEND WE HAVE HUGE SAVINGS STOREWIDE!!! DEEP, DEEP DISCOUNTS ON THE MOST POPULAR BRANDS!!!

*not an actual store. I just made that up for effect. But there was a real store with a similarly ridiculous commercial for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. And they were VERY insistent, hence the caps.

Yeah, co-opting a national holiday celebrating the accomplishments of a noted civil and human rights pioneer who was assassinated for his beliefs is an appropriate way to get your January sales numbers up. What's next? The Benazir Bhutto half-yearly sale? Some retailers have no shame.

Anywho, we got a late start but wanted to have dinner at our favorite place up there, Gotham Restaurant. So I Googled it on my phone to get a phone number (forgetting that it's already in my address book. Duh.) and up pops this page alleging that "Two bodies lie dead" in front of Gotham less 17 hours earlier!! WTH?!

Since I was unfamiliar with the site, I called the restaurant to verify and get a reservation. I halfway expected to hear a recording or maybe even a somber voice, cracking with emotion on the other end of the line. Instead, a perky Canadian took my reservation for dinner and when I asked about the shooting, she said curtly, "Yes, we had a police action last evening. Will you be needing anything else? I have guests here waiting." Uh, no. Perhaps it was just an arrest of some sort that happened to go down in front of the restaurant, I thought.

We arrived around 9 p.m. and had a lovely dinner in a plush booth with Ava, who was in a fine mood, despite the late hour. We checked in to a hotel that was chintzier than it looked online, so we checked out and found another. By this point, with the clock striking 11pm, Ava's (understandable) meltdown ensued. But we soon settled in for her first hotel stay ever and some much needed rest.

The next day, we got to see the awesome view from our 14th floor room...
Me and Ava, a vision in pink.
We're looking hard for clothes in other colors as she outgrows the ones she has.

and we bundled up against the sunny but 28 degree temperatures to head to a nearby restaurant for brunch and people watching.
J. and a pensive looking Ava in the sun. She needs baby sunglasses as cool as her dad's

Later, as we pushed a stroller down Robson, we realized that all the newspaper boxes were filled with banner headlines that read: "Two Shot and Killed Outside Gotham" and "Shooting outside steak house kills 2." The shooting literally happened right where we pulled up for the valet! Some local crime figure was shot to death by hitmen as he exited his car to go into the restaurant for an engagement dinner "as his horrified fiance looked on" said one paper.

Criminy! What kind of childhood memories are we creating? Ava in 2017: "Remember that time you took me to that restaurant where they'd had a gang hit like hours earlier? Good times. Good times."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No wonder sleep deprivation is used as torture

We've had a really tough time getting Ava to fall asleep this week. And when she goes, it's either really late, or we have to keep holding her after she nods off or she'll wake up. Aaack. I got about 12 hours sleep total in three days.

So last night I tried the method I keep reading and hearing about: bedtime routine. I know: groundbreaking. But since the health department frowns on sacrificing farm animals to ancient Egyptian gods in urban areas, I'm game for almost anything at this point if it will do the trick.

When Ava started acting sleepy around 8pm (rubbing eyes, getting fussy), I gave her a bath, a lotion massage, a swaddle, a sleepy time song and a feeding. She was out in less than 5 minutes! Crazy. But then I guess if someone gave me a hot bath, a massage and a hot meal in bed, I'd be drooling in no time too. She did wake up a couple hours later, but it didn't take long to put her back down. I was so giddy with the sudden availability of evening time I promptly frittered it away online and poking around my e-mail. I blame the sleep deprivation for me not thinking straight.
So far, the method worked again tonight, even after I took her to a volunteer organization meeting I had that was supposed to go until 9pm. Yuck. Since I leave so early in the morning for work, I've come to loath evening meetings because they cut into the time I have to spend with her while she's awake. I leave while she's sleeping and if I go straight home after work, I may get an hour and a half or two tops with her while she's alert. Heavy sigh.

In case there's any doubt, this working mom thing blows sometimes. But times like the picture below (Mom and daughter hair clip night! Yay!) offset the other times somewhat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

High end shopping

I was out running errands one day and came across this sign in a store
window. As you might suspect, I wasn't in a high end shopping mecca.

One question you have to ask is who are the poor schmucks suffering with "off the rack" gold teeth instead of custom ones?

Also, given my MBA, I'm stumped as to whether I'd characterize this business niche as ridiculous or brilliant or ridiculously brilliant. You decide.

Regardless, I wonder if they have gift cards. If so, don't you hope I draw your name next year for Christmas? Fo' shizzle.

Moblogged from my Treo

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Treat for the bag lover in your life

Do you carry a purse or know someone who does? Since that's everyone, unless you're a monk reading this in a monastery in some remote local, check this out. There's a cool tool for hanging a purse on a table when you're out and about.

If you're thinking, "Solution in search of a problem," think again. Every woman who carries a purse at some point ends up at a bar or restaurant without a good place to put her purse, other than on or under her chair (easy to forget, dirty and makes your bag a theft target) or in her lap (cumbersome, increases potential of spilling on purse and prevents leg crossing).
This handy bag hook is the perfect alternative. And apparently, this type of device has been around for decades! Posters on other sites say their grandmothers and moms used one when they were young. So what's old is new again and we get to benefit.

The purse hook comes in several sparkly and vintage-look finishes, is useful and lightweight. It rotates to lie flat for storage, so you can just throw it in your purse in the complimentary velveteen drawstring pouch and go. Here's mine in action. Love it!

They can be found online by Googling handbag hook, but lover of instant gratification that I am, I got mine at a neat new handbag store in downtown Seattle called Clutch. Their bags are from luxurious brands and though many are affordable, most are out of my current handbag price range, what with the bambino to put through college and all.
But I love to go drool over their latest finds and steam up the window while salivating from the sidewalk. They carry several styles of hooks. A purse hook at a handbag store? It makes so much sense it's genius! Happy hooking!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Jazzing up snail mail with Black Heritage and other stamps

Despite my love of almost all things technology-related (spam and e-mails spreading urban legends being notable exceptions) I write a lot of letters, thank you cards and other missives that require the use of the US Postal Service (USPS).
So as a frequent stamp buyer, I was excited to note in the lobby of a local post office a poster for new stamps in the Black Heritage Commemorative Stamp series. These highlight African American achievers and achievements. Despite the urban legend spam that gets resurrected every few months, these are not being discontinued. There's even a sidebar on the USPS page that refutes the legend, saying, "The fact is that the Black Heritage stamp series is one of our most popular. We have no plans whatsoever to discontinue it." Yay!

According to the stamp poster I saw, there's a new series highlighting Black Scientists. Lovely! No, I don't have any particular affinity for science. I'm just glad there's something out there celebrating Black culture that doesn't feature Chingy, T-Pain, Lil' Wayne, Beyoncé or some other entertainment figure. Though I do like Beyoncé and have been known to hum along to a Chingy hook when I'm alone in the car.
So why the science stamp excitement? Because it shows Black achievers in a mainstream and academically rigorous context. For people who don't actually know many (or any) Black people, or who don't live in close proximity to any, or who only see those from a particular socio-economic group, pop culture is their only exposure to African Americans. And pop culture mainly spews imagery that highlights a very limited number of Black people as achievers. Usually it includes those in sports or entertainment, and mainly those of the grill wearing, bling encrusted, hip swaying, or sport playing type. Nothing specifally against any of those per se (okay, I'm anti "grills." These are your teeth people!), but it's a very limited and distorted view of Black people.

Unfortunately, I couldn't buy one of these stamps to show my love because the postal worker informed me they weren't out yet, even though the poster says "available in January." Apparently it should read "late January" or "January-ish" or "Maybe in time for February. That's Black History month anyway, right?" I will refrain from inserting a CP-time crack here.

So I got pretty flowered stamps and colorful Kwanza stamps instead. But there's an even better option out there for jazzing up mailings: personalized stamps. You can put your own picture on real postage stamps. How cool is that?! For info on any of these, try the links below. I haven't used any of them, but Zazzle seems to have the most stamp sizes and text options to choose from. Happy mailing!

Black Heritage Stamps