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12/29/2012 - Merry Christmas!
WHOOOSH, and there went Thanksgiving and Xmas.
I'm feeling quite behind this year.  I have gotten lazier and lazier over the course of this pregnancy. (and if 1 and 1/2 babies is hard... oh boy.)  ;-)

While Sean had NO idea it was going to be Christmas, he LOVED Christmas day.  He couldn't take much of a nap because all his new toys were down stairs!  Tim and I learned a few things about how to do a "kid Christmas" this year (it is good you get the 'practice' years to start out). 

(1) You need to have toys that are ready-to-play coming out of the box, anything that requires assembly will be ignored until it is put together.  (So THAT is why the parents stay up all night putting together bikes/toys on xmas eve!!) 

(2) PACKAGING MATERIAL IS EVIL.  When stuff is shipped, unless they use the awesome amazon air-bags, or giant crumpled paper, packaging material gets *everywhere*.  Even the Styrofoam gets stepped on and tracked all over the house - let alone peanuts and shredded newspaper.  *ga*

(3) Xmas should be shared! We got to Skype with Tim's parents while we opened presents, and they got to see Sean be confused, and happy with opening up lots of toys.  One of the Grandmas at work said she was on the other end of the Skype line Christmas day with her ~5 year old grandson.  He would say 'GG, GG - wait right there (he actually calls her "G-G")  he would go and grab stuff and show her what Santa got him. 

Yeah Christmas!  Maybe next year we can actually be with some family :-)

Other Random Baby updates: (that I wrote awhile ago and never posted)
Sean started making a 'strained' silly-face, I think the origin is him straining to squish food in his hands - but it turned into a 'silly face' where he flexes his neck, pulls his mouth open and bugs his eyes out.  For some reason he KNOWS he is being silly, he also knows when you are doing it and will copy you.  This turns into making silly faces at each other and everyone (especially Sean) laughing hysterically.

How awesome is it that I have a joker baby?  He also enjoys silly-faces when smashing his face into a window, that started with Tim, Sean and the clear shower door between them. 

Physical update: looks like he is getting in another tooth (Tim was up all night with him).  He can climb up on the couch and chairs AND he has figured out he can push a chair around, climb on it, and reach any surface in the kitchen. 


I have to use the back burners on the oven for awhile :-/


11/27/2012 - Saving
It is the end of the year! Time to think about $ again...
Hunting for tax savings always seems like a good start to saving, but are there better ways or combinations?  Do you aggressively pay off your mortgage? Do you put as much into an IRA or 401k as you can?  Maybe stocks are a good idea right now?  I think I need to test these ideas in Quicken.

Aggressively paying off a mortgage:
pro: less interest to the bank, and then you have that big check cleaned off our monthly expenses earlier in your life.
con: the tax write off for interest is a sweat deal - plus you can refinance at low rates to pay very little in interest.

Maxing out your 401k and an IRA:  We put up to the company-match into our 401k plans at the moment (seems like the obvious thing)  but do you max it out?
pro: more tax deductions!  would be interesting to see how these compare to mortgage interest rates...
con: your money is hard to reach for a long time!

Build a portfolio:
pro: pretty high liquidity, long-term better returns than a bank (usually)
con: higher risk, and no tax write offs (that I know of).

What else am I missing?  Me thinks we need a financial adviser.


Baby update:
Pregnancy #2: braxton hicks contractions are starting to suck.  I had them all the time with #1, but they never HURT.  What am I doing different this time?!

Sean: Is that talking? I can't tell...  It is kind of like his first steps. They were more him showing he knew he needed to lift his legs to walk, but he didn't have any balance.  He is doing a good job babbling, and I hear the first syllable of several words that seem to make sense (Dog, up, mama, dada, bowl).  Lots of hand gestures and pointing going on too, but nothing is very consistent.  He is SO cute when he sits down surrounded by baby books going through them and babbling away - must be exactly what we sound like to him!

Babies are VECTORS!  Our friend Vicki has two kids with strep this week, and we were super nervous that Sean would get it for Thanksgiving (we avoided it luckily).  Awhile back I read some news article that was an immunization test - allllll the 1st graders in Japan were immunized for the flu, and that year they saw a big drop in the number of deaths from the flu in old folks homes.  Tellin ya', those kids just spread everything to everyone!  (wish I could find the link for this...)

Over Thanksgiving Sean got to visit Granddad, Anne and Anne's Mom Sara (who is 100) - plus the Luchinni's Sara and Scott.  We had a lot of really good food, and Sean did really good during the drives out and back.  Still - those drives are exhausting!

Now - onto Xmas shopping!  (I mean... saving, saving... )


11/17/2012 - 'blue' my mind

long time... I felt inspired this weekend.  Blog time!

This 'blue' my mind the other day:

The quick summary:  looking at historical texts, as a rule of thumb, the farther you go back the fewer colors are mentioned.  The general progression goes: white/black, red, yellow, green, blue (almost always last).  They can attribute this to two things: (1) natural colors/groupings seen in the world (2) colors we are able to reproduce. 

The thing that surprised me the most was a tribe out in the middle of nowhere was show 11 squares of green, and one bright bright blue one.  They were asked to say which square was different - and they COULDN'T DO IT!  The theory is that for colors that we see all around us in nature we tend to group, so even though we are seeing the same thing, we perceive it differently. 

This got Tim & I talking... It seems like the exact same pattern you hear about with learning language.  Asian cultures have a hard time telling the difference between 'L' and 'R', and they have a bunch of sounds we can't distinguish between.  It just amazes me what Sean has to lean to be able to interact with the world - he sees *every* color, hears *every* sound, (gets *every* cold).  He has to take everything and build patterns and groups just to figure out what is going on, no wonder humans are so good at pattern recognition!  

And the random NPR bit that made me love my parents this week...
In Japan, they focus on how hard a student works to achieve, not necessarily how 'smart' they are.  They push everyone to work really hard, which is probably why their students are surpassing the rest of the world in academics.  In the US, we tend to believe if you are smart, you don't need to try to do well - if you are dumb, everything is going to be too hard, so why bother?

So I would like to thank my parents for pushing me to try :-)

On the flip side - the Japanese work very hard to achieve the *same thing*, and their teachers are worried about their students becoming robots with no creativity.  Since this is something the US does well - both cultures have something to learn from each other.

Baby updates:
Pregnancy #2: I always seem to forget I'm pregnant when I'm at work, but I get tired pretty fast playing with Sean now!  Also, when I hold Sean I weigh as much as I did at the end of my pregnancy with Sean. 
Me + #1 == Me + #2 + Sean
*whew* I was big!

He walks, and he signs 'all done' and 'bye bye' (sometimes) and babbles constantly.  Mostly he is being ridiculously cute & eating... oohhhhh the constant eating.  It takes me significantly longer to prep his lunch than mine in the mornings. 

He transitioned into to the 'first steps' room several weeks ago, and at first he was so exhausted when he got home he had a hard time staying awake for dinner.  We have a bit more of a routine for the evenings now, so  he lasts until 7 or 730 most nights.  The move seems great though, he gets to go outside several times a day and play on very baby-safe playground equipment (and still comes home with lots of bruises - part of growing up!)
On weekends we have started to take him to one of two playgrounds near our house.  He figured out the slide the first time we went and goes face first, head-long down them.  We always wait at the bottom to make sure he doesn't take a tumble.  It is amazing to see their little minds make connections, and start all that pattern development ;-)

Tim taught him a cute thing on Thursday: running in circles.  It just makes me giggle, such a cute baby!


Well Sean got his first cold on his first day of school (second week in Jan) :-(  It is frustrating because he got 'better' but the cough never went away, and now it sounds like it is getting worse.  *my poor baby* Tim is off to the doctors office for a second time to see if there is anything we can do for him now, or just wait and see.


Back to work!  After several weeks of just me and the munchkin I'm back among the adults!  It is great to go into work and know so many of the women are just like me - they love their child more than anything; but they have to be out in the working world to keep their sanity :-)  It is a 'stutter start' for me, with no planned child care this month Tim and I are alternating staying home with Sean. 

With him not being mobile yet it is still pretty easy to get SOME work done.  He alternates playing on his 'play mat' with toys hanging down from bendy arches; and a fun tummy time Tim discovered.  So Sean hates normal tummy time on his play mat, but he loves being wedged on the couch on a bunch of pillows.  Must be the view, he can SEE what is happening.  He is getting some great back and neck exercise, and even a little arm action in there.  

He has been learning to grab, and you can tell he wants to put everything in his mouth as soon as he has even a weak grasp on it.  He has also learned to flail on his play mat and all the toys make lots of noise when he (randomly) hits them.  He doesn't quite have the arm aim yet to reach and grab yet. 

Other random Sean updates - he has been sleeping through the night since 9 weeks!!  The doctor told me to let him cry it out to see if he could.  It took ONE NIGHT of training (when he woke up once, and I rubbed his back until he fell asleep) and he hasn't woken up since.  He was also in the upper upper 90s in his weight/length/head size, I have one large baby :-D 


After four weeks of help from parents, Tim and I are on our own. Our poor parents - I did not let them do fun tourist things, with the one exception of veterans day.  There was a cute parade in downtown Wakefield that we walked to.  Jill (and I, sort of) planted tulips & iris bulbs, then we had a big Decker/Smith family tea party at the end of her stay.  When my parents arrived we cleaned up the yard, went shopping, and stripped wallpaper in the kitchen and repainted - all done with an infant around.  I'm tired just thinking about all of it!


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