Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Future student

I don't think I'll have to worry about Ava's school readiness. Not only is she already sitting flipping through books with a knowing look as if she's assessing the narrative arc and plot development (Ava on Pat the Bunny: nice!), her vocabulary is growing almost daily and she's starting to be bored with some of the shorter books in her collection.

She also loves this backpack my parents bought her when she was literally about 14 months old. She had barely started walking and would bop around the house with it on.
Note the scary-ish happy monster on the back. Yes, that is a matching coin purse.
I hope she loves school as much as I did. I loved it so much, I once ran six blocks, crying, chasing a school bus I'd missed. Only to catch it, out of breathe and sweaty and discover... it wasn't my bus. I trudged back home, dejected and had my dad call the late bus for pickup.

Needless to say, I was not a kid who my parents had to harangue to get going in the morning. In fact, since I was bussed to the other side of the city for many of my school years, including a two hour public bus ride from middle school on, part of my morning routine was to wake my parents up for work before I went to catch the bus and to let them know I was leaving. Fun times.
I don't know what Ava's school years will look like but I hope she has this same smile on her face when she heads off to school in less than 4 years.

Mom's night out

After a busy day at work, it's Mom's night out. Bookstore, reading by Heather Armstrong and a slice of quiche w/bacon and gruyere. An awesome trifecta! Always nice to hear from a mom who acknowledges some of the downside (in her case, many downsides) to mothering an infant. So I'm live-blogging this.

Having never been to this bookstore before, I came a bit early from my board meeting to get some food and roam the aisles. Because I don't care where it is, if you put me in a bookstore or library anywhere in the world, I'm at home. 

After roaming a bit, I bellied up to a table with my laptop, quiche and a beverage to people-watch. Within a few minutes, I'm 98.3% sure I'm the only person here w/any melanin. Not even someone with a slight tan! Interesting. But then, it IS Seattle in March. Oh, I stand corrected: there's an Indian couple... aaand they're leaving. Make that 100% sure.

This place is packed! I was able to snag a chair but many folks are standing in the back. See that distant figure with the lovely pregnant glow in the image below? Yep: Heather. She's quite funny and she talks like she writes, or vice versus. Either way, lots of laughs already.

Okay, logging out to immerse myself in the hilarity.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The more things change...

I've been home sick, laid up with coughing jags, nose blowing and a general feeling of miserable-ness. The older I get, the less frequently I get colds but when they do hit, they pack a punch. The one bright spot this week has been the extended time hanging out with Ava. She is a fun kid! She walks around "talking" about things in the room, brings me books to read to her, tells me when she wants more or no more of food, and generally is a happy little camper whenever she gets to spend time with me. 
Taking this time prone on the couch to organize some digital photos on the laptop warming my stomach, I found these pictures: one with me holding 3-day old Ava fresh from the hospital, and one from last week. Note the similarities: mom, content/napping baby, laptop. Amazing how much has changed and how much consistency there is in these snapshots of our lives 18 months apart. This is still Ava's favorite spot in the whole world. And mine. :-) 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Editing on iPhone: This is news?

The New York Times reports that iPhone users will get cut, copy and paste ability at long last this summer after a software upgrade. Uh, I've had this feature for at least 9 years since my first Handspring/Palm PDA in 2000. What's next? MMS (multimedia messaging service)? Oh, still doesn't have that either except through 3rd party work arounds? Remind me again why this device is worth camping out for?

Granted, I have had my share of days drooling over, scrimping and saving to get the lastest sparkly tech tool (Previous: Treo line from Palm. Latest? Nokia e71. Review: Nokia E71 Is a Legit iPhone Killer — We’re Serious This Time) and having a child has forced me to curtail my early-adopter tendencies in favor of less sparkly, non-sexy items like college funds and medical insurance co-payments. Still, call me a heretic, but me in the Apple store is like Elton John at Hooters: I don't feel anything for the iPhone. My mouth is not agape and it's definitely drool-free.

Now for all my cheerleading of Palm, I can admit it's not perfect either. In fact, with the Palm Pre announcement little more than rumors and blurry web shots last fall, I had to ditch my trusty Treo 680 after an incurable resetting glitch. But I passed my 650 along to my smartphone newbie mom and still keep the 680 for archival and nostalgia reasons.

I stuck with Handspring/Palm for nearly a decade because it captured all the tools and applications I needed in one handy, albeit slightly thick, package: phone, calendar, web access, laptop tethering using the PDA's unlimited data plan, SMS, MMS, MP3, camera, web radio, cut, copy and paste from every program to every program, QWERTY keyboard, and Microsoft word document creation and editing. It also grates cheese and can be used to flavor soup base. Kidding. But it was a workhorse for me and although I love having wi-fi now, I miss many of its innate charms, including the touchscreen.

Reading about the iPhone cut, copy, paste excitement (I'm still: "Uh, okay.") reminded me that content creation tools were a major part of the Palm's appeal - ones I feared I'd lost completely when I switched to the Nokia e71. It does most of what I need, but its cut, copy, paste function is a bit limited compared to the Treo line, forcing odd workarounds, like having to forward then cancel messages to make them editable for copying text (say a Fedex tracking number), then pasting the number into the browser for tracking a package online.

On the Treo, I could used the touchscreen to copy a line of text in a web page to e-mail to a friend, easily copy and paste a web address (this has become more important with the advent of Twitter and TinyURLs), or highlight and copy a name or number to paste into a contact. These things can be done on the Nokia, but it's awkward, not intuitive, and requires multiple steps.

That said, the e71's wi-fi and ability to run multiple applications at once and hardly make a dent in the crazy-long battery life are huge improvements over the Treo. But even here, I miss the ability to charge the PDA through the USB synch cable. Treo could, Nokia can't.

I know that everyone's "perfect" device is subjective and a personal decision, like deciding what constitutes the "perfect jean." For now, the Nokia has most of what I want in one sleek, speedy package.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ava update: sleep trouble, spray cream and smiles

Life is grand with our nearly 1 1/2 year old. New words are coming along weekly, including wow, what?, nice, mice, up, yay!, doggie, and my personal favorite: book. 

We did have a rough week sleep-wise with Ava, possibly due to molars coming in and the transition from two naps per day down to one. The upshot has been lots of tossing, turning and waking up for no apparent reason throughout the night. Well, for her and me. J. can somehow snore through a writhing toddler next to his head. Grrr. It's no picnic for her and it's particularly hard on me since I've always been a light sleeper and have trouble staying asleep even under the best conditions. There have been several nights with less than five hours sleep for me, making the whole working mom thing more like the walking dead.

One thing that has helped Ava during the half days she spends with my mom is having a little bed/couch to call her own so that she can get some solid naps when she does go down. We finally snagged one for our place this week to try to transition her to her own bed. 

She loves having a piece of furniture just her size that she can open and close on her own. And now that she's bigger (about 23 pounds) having one at our house like the one at my parents' means some consistency and it means that J.'s Great Aunt who lives with us no longer has to hold her while she naps when she's visiting with her, although I think she loves holding Ava as much as Ava loves being held. 
Although it's branded with the kid Diego from the Dora the Explorer program, it's less annoying to me than the ones slathered with disproportionately shaped and non-diverse princess characters.  And of course, it's NOT PINK.

In other news, I had the pleasure of introducing Ava to spray whipped cream this week. Suffice to say, it will henceforth be known as Toddler Crack at our house.

Seattle: most wired, but digital divide danger still looms

Seattle made Forbes' list of most wired cities for 2009. Article and list here. Back in 2007, when I was puffily pregnant and still had what I realize in retrospect was a RIDICULOUS amount of free time to sit in tea shops like the one in the picture and read and write, I wrote an article that appeared in the National Urban League's Urban Influence magazine about the digital divide in communities of color. 
A year and a half later, Seattle's Forbes ranking notwithstanding, the digital divide I wrote about still exists for some communities. This article highlights some of the efforts underway to bridge the gap by building and improving information and communication technology infrastructure.

Another local organization, the Technology Access Foundation, is also working to narrow the digital divide by preparing underserved children of color for higher education and professional success through their rigorous and relevant K-12 curriculum, which has a technology focus. It sounds a little wonky but the organization's leaders and staff are amazing, committed and down to earth, the curriculum is top notch and the kids in the program, like the one I mentored who is now a poised, successful college student, make my heart swell every time I see them because they are such shining embodiments of what's possible for every kid if given the right education, support and encouragement. 

Want to help? Their annual leadership breakfast is coming up in a couple weeks. It’s guaranteed to leave you inspired and saying, “These kids are awesome. How can I help?”

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday date night

At Portalis in Ballard for end of the (crazy) week wind down with hubby over seared sturgeon with caviar and creme fraiche on a potato latke. Aaah. Saturday, here I come.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sleeping beauty

Seeing this little face dozing peacefully almost makes up for the lack of sleep I got all night as she fretted, tossed and turned. She was a little warm but not feverish and just couldn't stay asleep until I draped her along my torso like I did when she first came home. One of those rare, frustrating toddler nights that harkened back to the up-all-night-with-a-baby period.