Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A fascinating turn of events

So! Remember when I wrote about the city of Philadelphia attempting to make up a billion dollar budget shortfall by making huge cuts to city departments, including closing 11 libraries and laying off 110 staff? Matters have taken a fascinating turn:

Neighborhoods losing their libraries were understandably upset, and some filed a lawsuit to prevent the library closings. Today, a judge granted the injunction to prevent the library closings on the quite reasonable grounds that the mayor neglected the little detail of the law requiring city council approval for closing city facilities. The mayor is a bit of a high-handed moron.

But here's where it gets fascinating: the reason libraries were being closed was that there was no way to cut the library budget without cutting staff (since staffing makes up 85% of the budget), and staffing is already thin enough that losing any more positions meant that not all libraries could be adequately staffed. But the layoffs have already happened. People are leaving their jobs this week. And even if they somehow rehired all of the laid off people, they had managed to get the number fired down to 59 by reducing the rest of the positions through attrition - people retiring, quitting or transferring.

I truly don't know what they're going to do. There has been a truly moronic plan floating around for all of the libraries in the city to be open three days a week, which sounds like a nightmare of confusion for both patrons and staff. But how are they going to keep the libraries open without enough people to run them? And if they start hiring, where is the money going to come from?

The money issue is the sticker, and the reason that while I don't like the idea of closing libraries, particularly when we thought it could be affecting us badly, I couldn't see an alternative. The city really is short on money and cuts are being made across the board. Even the mayor is taking a pay cut. I can't point to any place they could take the money from, and as valuable as I think libraries are, I think police and sanitation are pretty important too. It sucks to lose your closest library, but the ones closed were the smallest ones and no person in the city will live more than two miles from a library branch.

All I know is that whatever happens, the next few weeks are going to be highly interesting.

All over except for the coughing

We seem to be recovering from our Very Microbial Christmas. K's earache responded to decongestants and painkillers and she's down to the drippy nose. My cold is mostly coughing up gunk and occasional noseblowing. My stomach seems to have finally settled down, although my appetite has yet to come back.

I have set the lofty goal of not throwing up again for the rest of the year. I'm hoping two days isn't too ambitious, is it? One of these days, I need to start actually putting on weight instead of losing it, after all. I don't think that it's quite normal for pants to fit better at 15 weeks than they did pre-pregnancy. Sigh. I admit, I'm a huge wuss when it comes to stomach ailments. Despite having reflux, I'm not used to having a sensitive stomach or throwing up very much. I almost never experience digestive ailments of any kind, which makes the effects of pregnancy on the alimentary canal a bit of a rude shock, especially since this didn't happen last time.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

A very Messy Kweznuz

We had a mostly lovely Christmas Eve, only marred by K puking twice. But although she was clearly sick, she still had plenty of energy to play with her grandparents. We spent the day baking and listening to Christmas music, while I reveled in finally being able to enjoy cooking again.

Christmas morning was lovely as well. I had made cinnamon rolls, which we enjoyed while opening presents. K got a lot of books and absolutely loved her castle. It was clear she was getting a cold, but was feeling far too much Christmas spirit to let it slow her down.

Christmas afternoon I took a long nap, which was a tad surprising since I rarely nap unless I'm very sick or in my first or last trimester. But I was a bit sleep deprived, so I didn't think much of it. Until I started to help prepare the fondue for dinner and it became very clear that food was the last thing I wanted. Sigh. Apparently what K got me for Christmas was the stomach flu.

Boxing Day, I slept and slept and slept some more. B had to work, so I was incredibly thankful to have his parents here. Unfortunately, his father was starting to come down with it as well, and his mother was feeling it by the end of the afternoon as well, although she heroically held on until B got home to go collapse.

Thankfully, they avoided the puking and seemed to mostly get better after a day and night of sleep. They're up and about today. I'm still tired and took two naps today, but I'm keeping food down. I'm also getting K's cold. And K, aka Patient Zero, who managed to completely avoid the desperate need for sleep the flu gave the rest of us, woke up from her nap this afternoon with an earache. Aargh.

I don't know why B's parents don't visit more often, since we clearly show them such a good time when they're here.

One positive note to end the post with: I had to work yesterday, so last night I drank a Sprite to settle my stomach and settled down on the couch with my laptop on my abdomen. Soon after, underneath the computer I could feel a persistent tap-tap-tapping. The sort of tapping one might feel from a 14-week fetus hopped up on sugar. Well hello, Aethelryth. I'm glad you could make yourself known for the holidays.

(Oh yes! We also managed to watch the latest Doctor Who Christmas special and the new Wallace and Gromit last night - great fun all around)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

-Our travel mojo remains intact - the grandparents have landed! We were really worried that B's parents wouldn't be able to get out of Michigan, but they made it today with fairly smooth sailing. I'm so glad. It would have been a bleak Christmas with just the three of us, and K will be much happier with grandparents to play with for the next five days.

-I have one more hour of work tonight and then I'm off for the next two days, a fact that makes me a bit delirious with joy. If you think that sounds like the online job and I are not always two hearts beating as one in glorious beauteous harmony, you would perhaps be right. Although it's not really the job itself as the combination of two jobs knocking me down and putting their feet on my neck. Having both a weekday and weekend job leaves very little room for getting any real time off. It occurs to me occasionally that I'm working too much to make so little money. We've been discussing what will happen when the baby comes, and I'm starting to suspect it will involve quitting the more lucrative job.

-We've been watching our traditional Christmas movies tonight. First Love Actually, which I love completely out of proportion to the amount it makes sense. And it always gets me at the end - it's such a schmaltzy, sappy ending and I have tears in my eyes every freaking time I watch it. Apparently Richard Curtis decided to ooze sap like an incontinent pine tree when he made this movie, but damn, the man can write.

Next up is Muppet Christmas Carol. I was heartbroken to discover last week that my copy was to scratched to play all of the way through (it's only two years old and we only watch it once a year - there's just no excuse), but I've tracked down another copy so hopefully I'll get my fix of Gonzo as Charles Dickens. It's amusing to realize tha until Patrick Stewart's Christmas Carol came out, the Muppet version had the distinction of being the most accurate to the book of the various movie adaptations I'd seen, notwithstanding the dual Marleys and narration by Rat and Weirdo.

Back to the salt mines now, so I can go to bed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Home for the holidays

We got home from Michigan last night, after a very wet but thankfully uneventful drive. We were worried about ice, but on both ends of the trip we managed to luck out and miss it. We didn't even realize that we had missed ice storms on the way out until we were driving through the mountains and realized the trees were all caked with ice, although the roads were dry by that point. The drive home had a lot of driving rain, but I'll take that over freezing rain any day. K was an absolute champ and entertained herself in a model-child sort of way for most of the trip.

We had a wonderful time in Michigan. The nice part about not being there on Christmas Day is that there was nothing stopping us from opening presents the first day we were there, which gave all of us plenty of entertainment for the rest of the trip. Apparently my mother decided she wanted to indulge this year, which I certainly don't object to. I got several books that I wanted, a new winter jacket and a dvd of The Princess Bride, which I've been wanting for years.

K made out like a bandit, getting a Melissa and Doug pizza, a dinosaur stamp set, Fisher Price Little People farm AND a trip to the Build-a-Bear workshop, where she became the proud owner of a fierce looking dinosaur with a sparkly blue shirt and skirt (I think it says everything about what kind of girl K is that she went straight for the dinosaur, but with the addition of a mini-dinosaur, she's been playing Mommy and Baby with them ever since). Part of me feels like it was a bit too much, but my mother doesn't see K much and pretty much restricts the gift-showering to birthdays and Christmas, so it's not like we're drowning in toys from her. They're nice toys that will get played with for years by both children, so if it makes her happy to be generous, I'm fine with that. Besides, we're basically only giving her one big gift this year (wooden castle bought at an outrageous discount last spring and heroically kept in the garage until now, with cute little wooden figures and even some furniture that Melissa and Doug read my mind about and released just in time for Christmas), so it's nice for her to get some more smaller things for variety's sake.

We decided to get my mother a webcam so she can see her grandchildren on a regular basis. And then she gave us a webcam, as well as my brother. Great minds think alike, apparently. This left us with two surplus webcams, but it shouldn't be a problem for us to videoconference now. And my brother getting a webcam as well means we can implement our cunning plan to start gaming regularly with Champaign crowd via webcam. Useful all around.

Can I just digress for a minute to say how much I love Amazon's wishlist function? I have a tendency to see something I would like in July, forget to write it down and then have it completely drop out of my head along with the 12 other gift ideas I had during the year when it comes to telling people what I want for my birthday or Christmas. But with the wishlist, I can quickly add it and then just direct people there for their gift-giving pleasure. It's wonderful for K as well. Instead of having to create a list to give to the various far-flung relatives, I just direct them to her wishlist, and best of all, I can tell when someone has bought something for her so I know not to recommend it to someone else.

Anyway, apart from the consumerism, we had a good time. We didn't do a lot except enjoy each other's company, but that was good enough. And then we left before things started to feel too cramped. I don't begrudge my mother moving to a condo, but I occasionally wish she had gone for a three bedroom. When all of us are visiting, there isn't really any place to retreat to once K has gone to sleep and ye olde condo starts to feel a bit crowded after three days, especially when you're cramming five introverts in together.

It was a good visit but I'm glad to be home again, especially since we need to prepare to have Christmas in our own home for the very first time. We put up the tree tonight, finally getting to use the various ornaments we've been collecting over the years. It took approximately 15 minutes of unsupervised tree-sniffing for the cats to knock it over. The first time. It is now barricaded by two chairs preventing it from falling over until we can wire it properly. Possibly with string made from cat gut.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


K woke up with a fever Sunday, but ate reasonably well with nothing coming back up. After a two hour nap, she woke up at a normal temperature and spent the rest of the day fairly cheerfully, so I don't think the bug even lasted 24 hours. She was more than well enough to send to daycare Monday, thank goodness.

As for me, I'm left wondering if there's a specific deity in charge of applying the smackdown to people with the hubris to state publicly that their morning sickness is easing up and spending an entire day thinking, "You know, I don't feel too bad." Because I'd love to know specifically who I can thank for the coughing fit Sunday night that made me lose my entire dinner.

We had the nuchal translucency scan* on Tuesday, and everything went very well. It seems like Aethelryth is taking after its big sister when it comes to cooperating with ultrasounds - its head was jammed into the side of my uterus, making it very hard to see the edges clearly so we could get measurements. The doctor tried jiggling my belly several times to encourage Aethelryth to move a bit, but it just sat there calmly, practicing its bicycle kicks and waving its hands. We did get the measurements we needed and everything looked fine, but I'm not sure how well this bodes for finding the sex at the next ultrasound at 19 weeks. K, after all, was so far head down in my pelvis at twenty weeks that we had to go back the next week to get a proper look at her brain (this of course being the child who later turned transverse and spent 10 weeks jamming her head in my solar plexus). The first week, she was too wiggly to see the pertinent bits and the next, she had both feet, her elbow and the umbilical cord all in the way. Clearly I don't produce children who are cooperative with ultrasounds.

In any case, it was lovely to see Aethelryth again and see how it had more than doubled size in three weeks, growing from a little gummy bear to something remarkably baby shaped with a recognizable profile and limbs waving about as it practiced its calisthenics.

We are leaving Saturday to spend most of a week in Michigan with my mother for an early Christmas. I think I'm a little bit in denial about this, given how often I forget that it's THIS weekend we're leaving. I keep thinking it would nice to finally decorate the house for Christmas, then I remember that this will merely be an invitation for the cats to dismantle them and lose half of our meager Christmas decoration collection under the furniture. It's bad enough that they were stealing wise men out of the cloth nativity my mother gave K last year. I don't want to find a spit and cat-hair covered baby Jesus behind the entertainment center next July.

*Between 11 and 13 weeks, a number of genetic disorders and neural tube defects will cause a swelling at the back of the neck, so the combination of an ultrasound with blood tests at that stage provides a non-invasive way to see if there are any problems that might warrant further testing. As a point of irritation: it's explained as a test for Down Syndrome, because that's one of the most common genetic defects that allows a number of babies to survive, so it's what most people have heard of. But it tests for a great deal more than that, and I rarely see that brought up when people discuss the ethics of the test.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mostly good

1. B isn't on the layoff list!
We are so very relieved. And while I hadn't been letting myself think too much about it, it's so, so nice to realize that instead of taking a pay cut in January, he'll be getting his scheduled raise. Oh, that extra $200 a month will make a difference.

2. I didn't get the cold and the rest of the household seems pretty much over it.

3. Unfortunately, after falling asleep uncharacteristically easily, K woke up puking tonight. Poor pukey baby. There goes our lucky streak with puke - K has only thrown up once before tonight since she aged past the spit-up stage, and it turned out to be a pretty minor illness. She's gone back to sleep, and I hope this turns out to be a minor 24-hour bug as well. I'm also hoping it doesn't get passed on, since the last thing I need is a virus making me puke when my hormones are doing that just fine on their own.

4. Although while I'm definitely still having my rocky moments and brushing my teeth is fraught with danger, it feels like the morning sickness is starting to ease up a bit. I'm finding myself thinking about individual foods and how good they might taste. My stomach is still highly unpredictable though, leading to days like Monday when I ate an Italian sub and a grapefruit with no problem, but I had to give up on the potato soup only 1/4 of the way through because it was making me so ill.

5. The open house at work went very well. We got over 600 people, the same number as last year, but unlike last year when it seems like 500 of them showed up in the same hour, we got a steady stream of people throughout the day, which made for a much more relaxing pace. Perhaps the best part was that we had enough volunteers to make setup and breakdown very easy and quick. I may have various kvetchy things to say about the Friends, but the annual Christmas Bazaar is one area where they prove their worth.

6. And now I get to collapse and recover from a tiring week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


This week did not start out well. Sunday brought the news that B's cousin delivered a full term, stillborn baby girl on Saturday night. I'm so incredibly sad for them.

B has a bad cold and K is getting it. As the immune-suppressed member of the household being sapped by a parasite, I am almost certainly getting it next. Probably just in time for the weekend, when we have a big open house at work that I can't possibly skip and will have me on my feet for six hours.

This Friday, we find out whether B is on the layoff list. He can choose to be demoted instead of losing his job so we're not looking at unemployment, but going backward in pay is bad enough.

All in all, something pretty damn spectacular is going to have to happen to pull this week out of the crapper, and it's only Tuesday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Yesterday, I thought long and hard about the amount of leftovers that would result from cooking even a minimal Thanksgiving dinner, given that it would be eaten by one adult with a normal appetite, one adult with absolutely no appetite and a preschooler. And then I thought briefly about dealing with raw turkey, and once I was done controlling my heaving stomach, I decided we should go out. So we went to a movie yesterday afternoon and then out to a restaurant serving a very nice Thanksgiving dinner. We had fun and we were together as a family, which makes it a good holiday in my book. We still have an uncooked turkey breast in our refrigerator, but if worst comes to worst, we can put it in the freezer to wait for Christmas.

Sadly, the father of the friend who was going to spend the weekend wound up in the hospital yesterday, so while they spent the night last night, she had to leave today to drive back to Detroit. Sigh. The amount of time we got to spend together was lovely and I'm glad we had that much.

My benchmark for the worst Thanksgiving ever was the year I spent in England, where I had a normal full day of classes and then went home to a lonely plate of stirfry. Which I dropped on the kitchen floor, breaking one of my two plates. I couldn't even get together with any of my American friends because they were all various Thanksgiving dinners organized for them by the various advisors assigned to us by the university, but the person who was in charge of the Thanksgiving dinner I was getting wasn't able to do it on Thanksgiving year.

This year, while not necessarily our absolute best, wasn't nearly that bad. I missed our family and friends, but I'm grateful that we still have them, that my mother is relatively healthy and independent and that we'll be seeing them next month. I'm always grateful for my husband and daughter, and this year for my inch-long passenger making me so sick. I'm so, so grateful that with the number of jobs being lost, B will not be losing his, even if he has to go down a grade. I hope all of you were able to spend your holiday with people you love.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sick note

It should be abundantly clear by now that I've given up on NaBloPoMo. It's a shame since I've done so well the past two years, but my body just isn't cooperating.

I'm trying very hard not to be an annoying pregnant woman whining I'm siiiiiiick and I'm tiiiiiired, but I am, and that's about all I have to say these days. Or at least it would be if I could get enough energy in the evening to even contemplate typing. So until further notice, you can chalk up spotty posting to my feeling like five-day-old roadkill in August, okay?

In other news, I know this isn't a very novel or original observation, but the Jekyll and Hyde nature of three-year-olds astonishes me sometimes. How can the child who cuddled in bed with me last night watching Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, insisting that we both eat carrots (because the bunnies were, of course), be the same child who half an hour later was very clearly and deliberately doing everything she possibly could to make me angry as I tried to get her ready for bed? She had that glint in her eye that said that not only was she doing this deliberately, she knew I knew she was doing it deliberately and she liked it that way. And then her head starting spinning around and she started spewing pea soup. And here I had been thinking just this week that after a rocky start, 3 hasn't been that bad.

I'm really looking forward to the coming week. I have two days off from the online job and don't have to work at the museum until Sunday. B normally works evenings Mondays and Wednesdays, but he has tomorrow off because he's working Saturday (the only fly in the ointment) and the library will be closing at 5 on Wednesday. And my best friend from college and her husband are coming to visit for the weekend starting Thursday night! This should be fun all around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Signs of the season

Every day, there are more signs of the upcoming holiday season. Walking outside into biting cold and seeing bare trees. Thanksgiving foods all over the supermarket. Christmas decorations taking over the stores. But I was getting groceries at Trader Joe's the other night and saw perhaps the most magical sign of the season:

Candy Cane Joe Joe's are back. Is there anything better a pregnant woman could hear?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


So I did something else on my birthday a month ago that I haven't been talking about. I took a pregnancy test. And it was positive.

I've been keeping quiet any place public because of the general anxiety of early pregnancy - it was a shock to me that it happened at all without any more chemical help than metformin, and I had a hard time believing that there was anything there at all, let alone something that would last.

But I had an ultrasound this afternoon, which revealed:

One (1) gestational sac, containing one (1) blob-like embryo measuring approximately 9 weeks, with a teensy little blinking heartbeat at 167 bpm. All exactly as it should be.

I know far too many people who've had a good first ultrasound only to have it all go to hell later on in the pregnancy to feel truly secure. But I feel much more confident now that I know there's something in there doing what it should.

Confident enough to start talking about it publicly and introduce K to the idea that she will be getting a baby sibling for her birthday. She was intrigued at the thought of a baby coming to live with us and fascinated by the ultrasound pictures, until her dinner arrived and then the pepperoni on her pizza took precedence. Priorities, after all.

I would scan the pictures, but they're truly just little blobs, with only one where you can maybe distinguish some proto-limbs. I was a bit disappointed to have an abdominal instead of a transvaginal ultrasound this time - the far better picture quality from K's first ultrasound more than made up for the personal violation. But I'm going back in three weeks for the nuchal translucency screen, so I'll get much better pictures then.

How am I feeling these days? Really, really tired and very sick. I'm not actually throwing up a lot, but I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I'm really looking forward to the second trimester.

So now I let out a sigh of relief, and go back to languishing on the couch thinking very hard about not throwing up.

On a final note, I know several of the people reading this are still struggling with infertility and I'm sorrier than I can say that you haven't had as much luck as I have. I won't be hurt if you decide you can't keep reading.

Monday, November 17, 2008


On a whim today, I decided to Google a high school friend. She has a pretty distinct last name, so I figured there was a pretty good chance of finding her.

But you know the newish feature on Google where when you start typing they give you a drop down box with common searches like yours? As I started typing her name, it came up. With "obituary" after it. Oh dear.

And it turns out she died six weeks ago. Nothing I found said how - the closest I got was "suddenly." She was getting her master's degree in counseling at a local seminary and the descriptions people gave of her sounded a lot like she was in high school.

I'm not hugely upset by this - we haven't spoken in fifteen years, since high school graduation. We were very good friends in elementary school, but starting drifting apart in junior high and were mostly casual friends in high school. I'm very saddened for her father and brother - her mother died of kidney cancer several years ago and this new sudden loss can't be easy on them. I suppose mostly I'm feeling a little sad and a bit more existential angst about someone my age that I knew being suddenly dead.

Friday, November 14, 2008


There are two things that tend to bug me when I read blogs. The first is people condemning out of hand something they haven't actually read or watched, from whim, prejudice or not wanting to take part in anything too popular.

Now I don't mean say, you don't want to watch a Jackie Chan movie because you haven't liked the martial arts films you've seen in the past. In that case, you've tried martial arts movies, and it's entirely reasonable that you wouldn't want to see something that falls in that category. However, if you happen to like martial arts movies but have never seen a Jackie Chan movie, I might find your proclaiming the suckiness of Jackie Chan and all of his works kind of annoying.

The second thing that irritates me is people explaining at length why they aren't going to take part in the latest thing, with the not too subtle subtext of "unlike the rest of you sheep." I mean, this October, I didn't feel the need to write about how I wasn't going to observe the Jewish holidays because Judaism as a religion just doesn't speak to me. So if you don't want to read the latest Harry Potter book, watch Dr Horrible or celebrate Valentine's Day, just don't do it. And don't ruin the fun of those of us who are.

Again, there are certainly exceptions. If you're such a Harry Potter fan that you wrote your doctoral dissertation on the first six books, it's certainly noteworthy that you wouldn't read the seventh. And if you want to take part in whatever event or holiday is coming up and can't, you're certainly justified in complaining about it.

I'm explaining all of this by way of leading up to saying that I haven't read the Twilight series, probably won't and probably won't see the movie either. But I'm only sharing this because I find the story of why somewhat amusing:

I had asked B about the series since he had read the first book, and while he didn't find it very good, he was being a bit more judicious than most in saying why. He had started by saying that Meyer has a different conception of vampires, and as he said what it was, I was thinking that I don't have a problem with different ideas of vampires. Just as long as she doesn't conceive them to be, say, sparkly fairies, I have a pretty open mind-

-just as B was saying, "And vampires sparkle when they're in the sunlight."

So yes, while it's no doubt hypocritical, I don't think I'm going to be partaking in Twilight, except maybe to see how bad it is. Because really, actually sparkly fairies?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 13

So it's just about That Time in the NaBloPoMo drivel when I start talking about tv again. Our viewing patterns for the new season have pretty much shaken out by now. While it was aggravating that our DVR up and died a few weeks ago, it was instructive to get a new one and have to re-program it. There were several programs that simply haven't made it on the new machine, because we haven't missed them.

Shows I like quite a lot:


The Office/30 Rock: well, they're new to me. I starting watching both of these hysterically funny series this summer and was almost immediately hooked. I'm not sure why I wasn't watching them before, except that maybe the tv schedules never lined up well.

Chuck, House, Daily Show, Colbert Report, Iron Chef America, Ace of Cakes, Ugly Betty

Shows I like well enough:

True Blood: I'm a big fan of the books, so I was really looking forward to this. I think they got Sookie just right, along with her relationship with Bill. I like how they changed Tara, which made her much more interesting and filled a necessary role - someone for Sookie to talk too since they can't convey all of her thoughts by voiceover. I'm not nearly as fond of the Jason storyline. He just wasn't that dumb in the books and it's squirmingly uncomfortable to watch him be so idiotically self-destructive. I also feel like the tone is a bit off from the books. The Alan Ball/HBO gratuitous sex gives it all a bit more of an Anita Blake vibe than is really necessary. But I keep watching.

Merlin: Eh. I watch it every week and like it well enough, but it's not blowing my hair back. It's nice to see Anthony Stewart Head again on a regular basis.

Heroes: At the beginning of the season, I was almost ready to give up on this show completely, but they manage to introduce just enough interesting new plot twists to hold on to me and get me somewhat interested again. But they had better pull it into the present and keep it there soon - all of this time-hopping is getting annoying and gratuitous.

Shows I tried and gave up on:

Fringe: I really wanted to like this. I've watched pretty much everything J.J. Abrams has put on tv, from Felicity to Alias. And I really like the scientist and how he relates to his son. But the stories haven't been compelling me, and after every single week featured 1) at least one scene of gratuitous, horrific grossness and 2) unnecessary torture, I just couldn't watch any more. The stories and character interaction just aren't good enough to make up for that.

Crusoe: I should probably try it again once the series is finished, but while we recorded the first couple episodes, I just wasn't paying attention and it never made it on the new DVR.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Missed a day

for no better reason than I was really tired last night and fell asleep really early yesterday.

We're home from Boston now. It was a lovely visit and would have been even better a couple days longer. We all like having grandparents around - fortunately, they're coming for Christmas next month. For future travel reference, taking 287 north of NYC to the Tappanzee instead of the George Washington Bridge is definitely the way to go. I still find it a little odd to make it through five states in less than 6 hours. I'm just not used to these fun-sized states we have here out East.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Even briefer

Lots of relatives today. K was every mother's dream at dinner, sitting nicely and eating with a fork. If only we had relatives around all the time so she would stay that charming.

Aquarium tomorrow, lunch at Faneuil Hall. Dinner at B's sister's.

Am very tired and will go thud now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quickie post

We made it to Boston after a long poke. We're comfortably ensconsed at B's aunt and uncle's house in Brookline. After eight hours in the car and the excitement of grandparents, K is unwilling to settle down to sleep. Quel surprise.

More relatives tomorrow. Further updates as events warrant.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The day after

Now that B has been able to speak to his union, it seems the situation isn't quite so dire. It is extremely unlikely that he could be laid off, because if he makes it onto the layoff list, he can choose to take a demotion instead. Which stills really sucks, but not as much as unemployment.

How likely is he to end up on the layoff list? We dunno. He's one of the most junior supervisors, but they may decide to concentrate on lower level employees. Plenty of people have been hired since he was, so there may be enough that he'll be protected. The equation in deciding is apparently job performance score combined with seniority in some sort of arcane mystic formula and he has a good performance score, so that should help too. We shall see. We'll find out by December 8.

How is my job affected, since the museum is also city-funded? Well, on the plus side we're funded by a trust fund that's not affected by budget cutbacks. On the negative side, our fund makes its money by investing interest in the stock market, so you can imagine how well that's going. Currently, our everyday operations will go on as normal, but some of the special projects we had planned have been put off. And we'll have to rely a lot more on the Friends for help buying things, which will be SUCH a joy, dealing with the complications that come with trying to get money out of them without a gigantic production.


We are headed to Boston this weekend. B's parents are visiting his sister, so we're going up to see all of them, along with various bonus aunts, uncles and cousins.

I think K is a bit confused about which grandparents she's seeing, based on the fact that she keeps talking about the aide my mother travels with. Plus she keeps talking about airplanes, so she may think we're going to LaGuardia again, the way we did last month to meet with my mother on her layover. Which we most certainly won't unless we've displeased several very vengeful gods.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sucky day

So remember back when I talked about how B's library was trying to save money by cancelling Saturday hours, and they were, then they weren't, then they were, then the mayor declared they weren't?

Well, we didn't know how good we had it then. The mayor announced a number of cost-cutting measures today which included closing 11 library branches, which will result in layoffs of 110 people.

B's library isn't closing. But it's not as simple as the people whose branches are closing losing their jobs. Layoffs are determined by seniority, so it's the most recent hires that are going first.

Now there are people who were hired after B, and 40 of the positions will be eliminated by attrition from people who were leaving anyway. Hopefully, the fact that he's at supervisor level will help give him another layer of seniority. However, there's also a possibility that if there are too many other supervisors with more seniority than him, he'll lose his position and be kicked back down to regular librarian. Fortunately, if this happens, it will happen in January when he's due to step up a grade in pay, so we would only be losing $200 a month in income instead of $400. Only.

Even if he's not affected, this bodes very ill for contract negotiations next June.

We don't know how this will shake out yet, but it certainly is definite that B's resume is going out tout suite. If he does get laid off, at least I have a stable income this time from a job I can do from anywhere. And my mother hasn't sold her house yet, so I could probably convince her to let us rent it from her. But argh. This is spectacularly bad timing. We've been wanting to move back to the Midwest, but not like this.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brief trivia

Making it just before midnight.

I realized a few days ago that while it's very convenient that so many books get released for the Christmas shopping season right before my birthday, I now have a new stack of books to read when I still have a few books from this summer that I haven't read yet. It wasn't a reflection on the quality of the books, but probably more on my state of mind for most of the summer.

Anyway, I'm finally reading The Sharing Knife: Passage. I feel like such a bad Bujold fan for leaving it for so long, especially since I'm enjoying it so much.

But did anyone else have "The Farmers and the Cowboys Should Be Friends" running through their heads while reading it?*

*B's response: "No, but I will now." Hee hee.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I walked the five-minute walk down to my polling place this afternoon, ran the gauntlet of supporters of local politicians brandishing flyers and went in to discover only two people ahead of me. They were both done voting by the time my name was found and I signed, so I was able to go in, vote a straight ticket and on the ballot measures and be out again in 2 minutes. Easy peasy.

Now we wait.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My plan for keeping my sanity over the next 24 hours

(I don't normally bring up politics given my mixed audience. But tonight I feel the need to help my people)
Like many liberals on election night eve, I've been letting myself feel cautiously hopeful about the polls, but too caught up in learned helplessness that the last 8 years have instilled in me to feel remotely calm about it. After all, just because even Karl Rove is predicting an Obama win is no reason to get all crazy and optimistic, now is it?

So in an effort to help preserve my fingernails, here are places I'm going to help maintain calm and sanity:

John Scalzi's Democratic poll watching kit:

Stop Worrying About Obama Losing Already

Good or bad, news is always easier to take with a good dose of snark. And while you're at it, turn away from the network pundits so you can watch them being made fun of by the Daily Show/Colbert Report election special at 10pm Eastern.

I can't believe there's anyone reading this that hasn't heard of fivethirtyeight.com, but there's no better place to go for a reality check when the mainstream press feels the need to manufacture news by reporting poll "tightening." Plus he says mean things about the Drudge Report, which is always good.

Of course, this time tomorrow night, you'll probably find me having worn out the refresh button on my browser as I try to convince the cats they want to let me squeeze them for comfort.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I do not plan to lose NaBloPoMo on day 2

Which is the only reason I'm posting. I feel like I've been scraped up off the sidewalk. I slept late this morning, barely made it through taking care of K this afternoon while B was at work, then took an hour and a half nap after he got home. Because I was, you know, so tired from all of that lying on the couch.

Sigh. Something guaranteed to make you feel like a terrible parent is your child begging you to go play outside and having to try to convince them to stay inside and watch tv. It was a beautiful day, but I just couldn't hack even sitting in a chair and I can guarantee K would have wanted more active interaction than that. I compromised by bringing her small slide in from the backyard, which was a huge hit. It's too big to take up permanent residence in the rec room, but it's definitely good to have for an occasional treat. If we manage to clean up a bit in our storage area downstairs, we could keep it there so we can drag it in to the play area more easily.

It's times like these that I really dislike city living. If we were still in any of the houses we lived in Indiana, I could have sent K out to play on her own in the fenced backyard while keeping an eye on her from the window. Here, our backyard is approximately 2 feet square and borders the alley which has cars driving down it on a regular basis. We have a larger front yard, which isn't fenced and is on a pretty busy street.

Okay, that's enough whining for tonight. Aren't you glad you have 28 more days of this?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaBloPoMo day 1

And I am feeling quite braindead.

It's entirely possible that my brains have been entirely replaced by mucus, most of which has taken up residence in my right ear. I've spent most of the day with the sensation of being permanently underwater. It would have been charming if that were because I had magically woken up in Atlantis and had spent the day drinking tea out of clam shells with mermaids and braiding strings of pearls in my hair while gossiping merrily about that hothead Neptune. Instead, I've spent the day achy and half-deaf.

Surprisingly, K and I had a pretty pleasant day. I will cop to way too much tv in the morning when I was still stunned by the post-wakeup mucus accumulation - I had been holding the line firm at two episodes of Blues Clues, but then she asked for Shaun the Sheep and was so happy to entertain herself in front of the computer with a bag of microwave popcorn that I didn't have the energy to try to introduce any other activities. But then we went out to the bookstore after lunch and shared trains nicely with the other kids at the train table and then left cheerfully so we could go home and nap well and happily draw pictures and blow bubbles while waiting for dinner to come.

And now I've reached the limits of my limited, mucus-constrained creativity. More tomorrow, when hopefully I will have cute dinosaur pictures and will have found yet more ways to use the word mucus in one post.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The weekly epistle

It has been a long week.

K gave me a cold which isn't so bad on its own, but combined with physical issues is knocking me flat. I woke up today and thought about how I was up quite late finishing work last night, and would have to work until 4 at the museum today, then go home and work another four hours, and then spend all weekend doing solo childcare while B works. Then I took a sick day from the online job. I made it through the day at the museum more or less and was so, so thankful to be able to come home and collapse with no more work in sight.

It helped that it was deader than a nuclear crater. We had three visitors the entire day, and two of them were members of the Friends. This would be because everyone else in the area was downtown at the parade for the Phillies along with over a million other people. It was sort of unreal, the every other part of the city was deserted. B's library had barely any people, his student workers had been in school with only 5 or 8 people in their classes. My boss said that her daughter's teachers were tacitly encouraging them to skip school to go to the parade, saying things like "If you're sick tomorrow, you can hand this work in on Monday."

I sent a very cute dinosaur to preschool this morning (didn't manage to get any pictures, but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get her back into her costume again to get pictures). I was a little amazed that she's been so definite for the past month about her costume. She said dinosaur when I asked her a month ago, she still said dinosaur when I asked her two weeks later and suggested some other costumes, she was even steadfast in a choosing a dinosaur costume last week when I took her to the store*, passing up several princess outfits that she admired, but didn't even think about taking. I was perfectly fine with her being a dinosaur (heck, I downright encourage it), I've just heard too many horror stories about kids her age being all enthusiastic about a costume only to decide after it's been bought or made that they want to be something completely different, so I was trying to cover my bases by giving her ample opportunity to change her mind. But clearly my daughter isn't the fickle sort. This doesn't really surprise me.

I think she ate her weight in sugar today. She was exhausted coming home from daycare and already had a bag of candy from there, so we decided not to try going around to houses this year, a decision cemented when we discovered the bag of candy a nice neighbor left on our porch.** She was enthusiastic about handing out candy briefly, then fell down in a meltdown of sugar, exhaustion and excitement. Hopefully she's now sleeping off the diabetic coma.

Believe it or not, this is an improvement over last year when it was raining, K had a cold and she refused to put on her costume, even just for a few pictures. I'm sure next year she'll have more stamina and be able to make it through the day and still have energy to go out to some houses.

*I originally intended to make her costume by getting a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants and modifying them, but for some reason, it was impossible to find green sweats in toddler sizes. And as it turns out, if you wait until the week before Halloween, there's still a pretty good selection of costumes and you can get a fairly nice one for less than $10. Something to keep in mind if your child wants to be something that can be easily found off the rack.

**I just opened the bag and wow, it's some primo stuff. Reese's Pieces and Junior Mints and not a cheapo brand like Smarties or Dum Dums in sight. Gosh, you rule, Mike from Next Door! And now I feel it is my duty as a good parent to prevent K from eating yet more sugar by making sure it's unavailable to her. It's my Duty.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Random coal mine

My goodness, I was unmotivated at work today. I was horribly sleepy* and didn't want to contemplate the gigantic stack of books that I needed to finish cataloging. The problem with children's books is that you can work and work and work to catalog all 200 billion of them, only to produce a stack approximately three inches high. It's very dispiriting, particularly when there's another foot-high stack of the anorexic little buggers lying in wait for you.

Fortunately, work obliged my malaise by being very quiet for the first three hours. I used the fact that I won't have a chance to take down the Halloween decorations and put up Thanksgiving decorations next weekend as an excuse to print out a bunch of decorations and sat down to spend the day cutting out autumn leaves and turkeys while reading an entertaining children's book (Thursday's Child by Noel Streatfeild). Then the Stamp Club arrived and life got busier.

We now have a stamp club that meets in the library once a month. They're... pretty much exactly what you would imagine what people who belong to a stamp club would be like. Their newsletter from last month started out, "Stamp collectors aren't just a bunch of nerds" and then went on to attempt to compare themselves to Indiana Jones. Ooookay then. If you say so, dearheart. Although I'm not buying the Indiana Jones comparison unless you're actually fighting your way through 500 miles of Amazon and ruthless cannibals to find stamps at the center of temples in the heart of the jungle, not stamp shows in your local high school auditorium.** Personally, if I were them I would just let my nerd flag fly.

*partly due to Physical Issues, partly due to poor K's dire rear which required a 5:30am diaper change after her smell entered our room six feet before she did and then nearly physically shoved us out of bed when she crawled in. Yeesh. I really wish she were 100% potty trained (I would classify her at 75% at the moment), but after the third horrific diaper last night, I was awfully glad it was all going in diapers rather than... well, anywhere other than the toilet is too appalling to contemplate.

**Although I suppose that is a fairly accurate description of high school.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's my birthday too, yeah

Well, technically by now, _yesterday_ was my birthday. But in any case, I'm another year older.

It was a lowkey day, courtesy of my job which yet again decided to shut the server down early for maintenance so I had to scramble to get my hours in before that happened, spiced up with the fact that the server went down last night so I had part of yesterday's hours to get in as well as today's. Thus, my birthday evening consisted of Chinese delivery brought into me by my husband as I sat in our bedroom most of the evening trying to get my work done (and mostly succeeding, until the server ground to a halt yet again and I gave it up as hopeless).

But I did get to go out to lunch with B and K made me a very nice birthday card with a remarkably recognizable drawing of a pumpkin (her artwork fascinates me sometimes - we've reached the age of representative art, but instead of the typical blobby stick figures, she draws things like dinosaurs, mountains and cats. It's a fascinating window into what goes on in her mind). I have a nice stack of new books to read and have gotten a couple exciting packages in the mail (a big thanks to my brother and the Champaign crowd for the Amazon package - your choices were perfect!). We're also going to New York City tomorrow.

Admittedly, it would be more of a treat if we weren't going to spend most of our time at LaGuardia Airport. My mother has been on a cruise going down the coast from Canada into New England and their final docking is at New York where they'll catch a plane back home. Since she has about 8 hours between docking and her flight leaving and it's only about 100 miles to New York, we're taking the opportunity to go spend a little time with her. My uncle is driving in from Connecticut as well, so it will be nice to see him. Hopefully we'll be able to get out of the airport, since LaGuardia isn't a terribly prepossessing place, but it will be good to see her either way.

And if tomorrow in New York isn't sufficiently festive, I have been promised a cake on Sunday. I may demand cake anyway, because when is it bad to have cake?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The ol' switcheroo

Several times tonight, Luna has come up on the couch and rubbed herself lovingly against my feet. I'm not allowed to move enough to reach down and pet her with my hand, mind you, but it's still active seeking out of affection, so I'll take it. I just wish she didn't feel the need to lovingly nibble my toes. Eep!


It all started last weekend with the computer. I decided it was finally time to upgrade our antivirus software (AVG free) on our older desktop, since the version it had was no longer being updated (we rarely use this computer). Only I was getting more and more frustrated with the fact that AVG has gone from generously offering up their free version to hiding it in the electronic version of a locked cabinet in a basement of a closed municipal building with a sign on it saying "Keep Out - Dangerous Tiger!"

In a fit of pique, I decided to try out Avast, another free antivirus software that is rated equally well with AVG in terms of protection. And I can't say there are huge advantages to Avast in terms of interface or useability (although it gets 1000 points for not having AVG's stupendously annoying linkscanner, which scans every link or your results when you do a web search). But I'm incredibly happy with the tone of their website, which puts the free version right there on their front page and says straight out that they're happy to provide it in the name of creating herd immunity on the Web to keep virus infections down. I like this attitude so much I installed it on my laptop as well.

Then I decided that while I was at it, I was very tired of Spybot and its refusal to let me turn it off until I explicitly want it, instead of letting it sit there hogging memory and hyperventilating and wringing its hands when I do such dangerous things as switch logins on the computer. So I switched to Ad-Aware, which has a service for sitting in my system tray and annoying me, but I have to explicitly turn it on. Much better. As an unforeseen bonus, my laptop is now running about three times faster with the new software.

Not content to stop with the computers, we then decided to kick Veriz0n out of our lives completely and called C0mcast to switch our phone to them. Months of conveniently "forgetting" to give us all of the discounts they had promised us, twelve layers of obfuscation when we tried to call to correct the bill and the last straw, our phone line going down twice in the past three months, giving us a total of 10 days without phone service which they still charged us for anyway, had built up to the point that we were ready to try a different evil for a while. Not to mention the fact that adding phone service would add only five dollars to what we're paying for Internet as opposed to the fifty we pay for phone from Veriz0n. And we can keep our phone number. It's something of a no-brainer, really.

As our final coup-de-grace, we spent Monday's holiday switching K's bedroom with the guest room. When we first moved in, I had been planning to do most of my sewing in the guest room, so I needed a room large enough to still have enough floor space to cut fabric and house the futon. So of the three bedrooms, we took the largest, the next largest became the guest room and we stuck K in the glorified closet. It wasn't a big deal, really. She does most of her playing in the rec room downstairs, and the main reason we got her a toddler bed was her room in the last house was also tiny. In fact, pretty much every bedroom she's ever had has been tiny now that I think about it. Then again, she's pretty small too.

However, I've wound up doing most of my sewing in the basement, while the guestroom became the Pit From Which No Junk Returns. It didn't seem particularly fair to K to have her in such a small room while a larger one went almost entirely unused except when we force open the door to chuck in more mail. An added bonus of rearranging has been that we've been forced to deal with a lot of the crap and finally finish the organizing we should have done when moved in ten months ago. Yes, I know you now stand in awe of our efficiency and timeliness.

It was definitely a good move. Bedtime with all three of us in her bedroom no longer requires a degree in Tetris to move around the room, and there can be more than three toys on the floor without all available floor space being covered. K loves anything new, so she's delighted both with the room and the cheapest bookcase Ikea offers that we got for toy storage.

I think that's probably enough changes for one week. Tune in next week when we decide to change our names, paint the cats green and convert to Hare Krishna.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


With the start of October, we were expecting B's library to start Saturday hours again after stopping for the summer. On the downside, his Saturday hours make my work schedule much more complicated and can create entire weekends where we're both working and we barely see each other. But on the plus side, they give B periodic days off during the week that now that we have regular daycare, we can use to do wild, radical things like go to movies. (GASP! I KNOW! Will our wild bohemian ways never cease?)

So we had our schedules all hammered out for October and we were ready. Then the mayor told all city agencies to find a way to cut money, and one way the library decided to do it was by cancelling Saturday hours for a bunch of libraries. Including B's. Then a week later, he a got a call saying his library was opening on Saturday after all. An hour later, another call cancelling them again. Then Wednesday, the mayor declared that he hadn't want any of the cost-saving measures implemented, he just wanted them proposed so he could sit and contemplate them. So once again, Saturday hours were back on.

B did in fact work today, so I'm cautiously assuming that this final change is going to last more than a few hours. Or maybe every Saturday the library will become Schrodinger's library, impossible to know if it's open or closed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I can hear the bells

Last Sunday at work was unexpectedly exciting in all the ways you wouldn't want it to be. Normally when I arrive at work, the museum worker has already arrived and unlocked everything. Not so on Sunday. One of the first things I noticed is that for the first time, the place was locked up tighter than a drum, which meant I needed to go through and disarm the alarms, something I've never done on my own before. Particularly since the absolute first, impossible to miss thing I had noticed is that one of the basement alarms was going off before I even opened the door. Eep.

I couldn't see any obvious reason for it to be going off, like fire erupting from the roof or a gentleman cat burglar making his elegant way through the galleries, perhaps stopping in the library to steal an elegant book of classic poetry to contemplate while he made off with our stuffed alligator. What made the alarm quite puzzling is that I discovered that it wasn't even armed, which meant it shouldn't have been going off at all. Even more puzzling was when I turned it off, then it started again five minutes later, and then when I turned it off, the other basement alarm started going off. And then fifteen minutes later the upstairs alarm went off.

That's how I spent the next merry hour, turning off alarms whack-a-mole style while frantically calling the alarm company who didn't have a clue. They weren't even receiving alarms from us on their end. Eventually the museum worker got his car started and showed up, and then my boss showed up, and we figured out it was all because of a phone line that had gone down. It was nervewracking but ultimately no big deal.

But if I had to chose a way to spend my first hour spent alone in the museum ever? It would definitely not involve LOUD CLANGING ALARMS randomly going off every ten minutes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My only comment on tonight's debate

At around 10:15, somewhere around the 15th "nukular" and the 45 millionth "You betcha," I handed my bottle of Coke to B and said, "Please take this. I'm about to throw it at the tv."

And I was 95 percent serious.

That woman gives me a migraine.

On the plus side, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Joe Biden.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kinder, kuche, kitten



Preschool is going quite well. K is adjusting well and having a great time. She's getting more social and is slowly adjusting to the increased structure. One of the things I really like this place is that while it has a small academic portion to the day (basic introduction to letters and numbers), if K isn't interested, she's allowed to wander away and do what she wants. While I don't think preschoolers should be doing any academic work (research shows that children that age have more important developmental tasks and while children who went to academic preschools do better the first few years of school, by about fourth grade the children who went to play-based preschools surpass them), as long as K gets to opt out if she isn't interested, I'm happy enough. This was the least academic place we could find - one place I considered briefly was listing specific academic goals for three-year-olds including being able to drill letters and numbers at a certain speed. In comparison, half an hour of talking about what things start with "d" and having them practice tracing letters seems pretty benign. K is mostly interested in coloring in her notebook and wandering over to the baby/toddler section of the room. Fine by me.

The thing she isn't doing is napping, which results in picking up a very tired munchkin every afternoon. She usually falls asleep in the car and I let her sleep for about 15 minutes so she will hopefully be able to stay (crankily) awake through dinner and still fall asleep at a decent hour. Which she usually does like a ton of bricks. Preschool is exhausting.



and Lily

They've progressed from spending 90 percent of their time hiding under the couches to spending most of their time out in the open, playing, prancing about looking cute, attempting to steal any food we're foolish enough to leave unattended for three seconds and trying to get Sonya to like them. Sonya will let them rub up against her and will even deign to cuddle and groom with them, but she's still not too sure about the young whippersnappers. They're also giving her some much-needed exercise. It's so nice to hear the sound of galloping cats with the evening crazies thundering across the floor above us.

They tend to flee from us if we come walking towards them, but they've been more and more willing to cuddle and be petted. I often have kittens on the bed when I go to bed these days, and even if they get spooked if I make an untoward move, they always come back. I predict in another month, we're going to have very sweet lap kitties.

I don't actually have anything kitchen-related to say, so a new discovery instead:

One of the great things about B's job is that he gets first crack at the books donated for the used book sale, and there's someone in the neighborhood who's a member of Scifi book club. The upshot of this is that he recently came home with their compilation of the first three books of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series and I'm in love.

If you think about it, it's pretty much a slam dunk for me. Three things I love are: Jane Austen, Master and Commander, and fantasies that take place in Regency England that's mostly like our world but with magic added in. And here they are, all neatly tied together in one book. I really should be pinned under Neal Stephenson's latest 500 pound anvil since I have it out from the library, but I just couldn't put Temeraire aside.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I spent about six hours on Monday with a phantom pregnancy. I wasn't merely tired but sleepy (tired is common for me but sleepy isn't), my chest hurt, I was queasy and of the two dates I might have ovulated last month, I was a day late getting my period by the earlier date. The last time I felt like that was three years ago, when I was busy wondering if I had gotten mono again when I finally realized: "Hey genius, maybe since you've been taking fertility drugs you might be pregnant." And I was. This time, I very firmly told myself that it's not surprising for me to be sleepy given how little sleep I've been getting lately, my chest usually hurts when my period is due, really extreme sleep deprivation can make me feel queasy, and Kreskin couldn't figure out what the heck was going on with my cycle last month. Still, I found myself trying to decide how long I would wait to test and surreptitiously poking my boobs to see how sore they were. I spent quite a bit of the day carrying the secret possibility around. And then I went to the bathroom and- Oh. Definitely not pregnant then. I had been ambivalent about even trying this month since the timing was bad - we wouldn't be able to go to Acen next year and my due date would have intersected badly with the end of the fiscal year. But it's funny how much I didn't care about any of that when I thought it might have happened. Ah well. On to next month.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dangling threads

It occurs to me that I announced over a week ago that we might be getting kittens and then left everyone hanging. To give you the answer to the question that no doubt has been haunting you night and day for the past week: introducing Luna and Lily (nee Venus) [insert adorable pictures here if only I could find the dratted USB cable for our camera].

Yes, the names are from Harry Potter. We didn't like the name Venus but liked Luna well enough, and Luna immediately made us think Harry Potter.

They're a pretty skittish pair, but definitely warming up. Lily is very playful and I've been able to woo her with the always irresistable toy-on-a-string-on-a-stick. She's gone from hiding under the couch to coming very close to touching me, and she's a sucker for a good tummy scritch. I've noticed that she seems to want to be in the same room with us most of the time even if she won't get close.

Luna is still spending much of her time in hiding. If you can corner her, she'll let you pet her for a long time, but that's if she'll let you near her. Once she warms up to us, I think she's going to be a cuddler.

They're both very tolerant of K, which is largely why we took them. She's been pretty gentle, but she still gets in their faces and rubs them the wrong way - literally. Sonya isn't thrilled with the new additions, but she's never tried to attack them and I've caught her licking them in the past couple days, so they're clearly making friends.


Two days of preschool down and it appears to be quite a success. K is having a lot of fun and is usually having fun playing outside when I come to get her. She hasn't been napping while she's there, so while on the one hand, we have to work to keep her from taking a long evening nap, on the plus side, she's been passed out in bed by 8 for the past two nights. Preschool is definitely tiring.

Meanwhile, I'm already feeling better rested than I have in weeks, now that I'm not trying to work 14 hours a day.

So two thumbs up for preschool so far!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekly update

Another insane week down. I didn't finish working before 2am any night this week, courtesy of the Half-hour Nap Wonder. Parenting hasn't been very easy this week. Part of it is the joy that is Three, but I have to admit I'm part of it too. When I'm exhausted and impatient, barking orders and yelling, it shouldn't surprise me too much that K doesn't react well. I wouldn't want to be near me either. But we found a new daycare and she starts Monday! It's a center this time, so chances are good that it won't close in a month. It's got a good preschool program, full of art projects and cooking and playing outside and stories and music, with a well-stocked playroom and large playground. It's in the basement of a church that has a nice tree-filled yard which added a great deal to its appeal. A lot of the places we looked at were storefronts on busy streets, and if they had outdoor play areas they were usually a few sad plastic toys on an asphalt surface with no shade and only a chain link fence separating them from the sidewalks full of broken glass and syringes. It's nice to be able to find someplace near our house, yet not part of the blighted urban landscape. It was hard to get K to leave when we visited - she had gotten right down to business and was building a fort out of large cardboard blocks with another little girl. She is incredibly ready for preschool. And I am so incredibly ready to work in peace, not to mention be able to go shopping or get a haircut without a three-year-old whining in the back seat. And have time again to knit, or blog, or even leave comments occasionally, all things that have fallen by the wayside lately because I have no time, and if I do have time, I'm just so damn tired. Yay preschool!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Summer reading

I got a wee bit behind on my book reporting. By about three months. But in the spirit of better late than never:

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
The latest in the Southern Vampire series, a series I like to sum up by saying that it has all of the good parts of Anita Blake without all of the porn, stomach-churning graphic violence and ridiculous powering up of the main character. This was a transitional book, wrapping up several storylines and putting the pieces in place for new ones. It was a little odd to read since it had three separate climaxes/big battles, but it was still a fairly enjoyable read. I'm glad to see that the author is clearly moving towards a romance she's been hinting about since the first book but never acted upon. I've read a bunch of Harris's other series, and I know she's perfectly willing to let characters be attracted to each other but not get together, but I strongly suspect this one is actually going to happen in the next book or two.

Fearless Fourteen
Lean Mean Thirteen
Four to Score
Hot Six
Plum Loving
Plum Lucky
by Janet Evanovich
So I got on an Evanovich bug. I read the newest one, and after that I had the bug. They're funny, breezy books that are good for when you're tired or don't have a lot of time to concentrate. Perfect travel reading. I've read them before, but it's been more fun reading them this time around because now that we live in Philadelphia, a lot of the local Trenton references are a lot clearer to me. I can picture the houses she describes perfectly.

The Cat Who Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
The first book in the extremely long-running The Cat Who... series. It was amusing and I'll probably read more at some point. It's the sort of light read I can pick up and put down at work, which is useful.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
Not a light read at all. Back in the early 90s, there was a series of modern retellings of fairy tales by various fantasy authors that my brother and I loved. Tam Lin was by far our favorite of the group, but Jane Yolen's retelling of Briar Rose through the lens of the Holocaust was another one that I found myself going back to multiple times. This book is another Holocaust story, the story of a modern teenage girl who opens the door for Elijah at Passover and finds herself transported back to Poland in 1943, about to be transported to a work camp. It's a powerful, searing story, graphic enough that I'm not sure how often I want to read it. But an excellent read.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
One of the many childhood favorites I've rediscovered at work, which I read in an afternoon where I should probably have been more productive at work.

When you are engulfed in flames by David Sedaris
I've been a fan of David Sedaris since Naked. I think my favorite of his books is Me Talk Pretty One Day - one of the drawbacks of his periodically appearing on NPR is that I had heard 3/4 of the stories from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim before it came out, which lowered my enjoyment compared to his other books. But I had barely heard any of Flames, so I was coming to it fresh and liked it quite a bit. He seemed to focus on himself and his relationship with his boyfriend a lot more in this book than previous books, where he talked a lot more about his family. It gave him some fresh stories to tell, which was nice.

Shanghai Tunnel by Sharan Newman
Sharan Newman is one of my favorite mystery writers. Her previous series was a long running series of mysteries taking place in medieval France. She manages to combine good writing and characters with a high degree of historical accuracy - she's not afraid to show dirt or unattractive attitudes. One thing I admire about her characters is that she manages to make them relatively open-minded, yet still clearly products of their time-period - the main character has a cousin who is Jewish, and while she loves and accepts him, she still wants him to convert. This book is the start of a new series taking place in 1870s Oregon. The main character is the daughter of missionaries who spent most of her life in China, but has recently moved to the United States on the behest of her wealthy trader husband, who then died before they could be reunited. Over the course of the book, she finds out how much of her wealth is based on traffic in things she doesn't approve of (opium, slaves), and her efforts to try and exert some control with the company's partners result in hijinks, so to speak. A good mystery and once again Newman does a great job of portraying historical attitudes in a complex and realistic way.

by Holly Black
These books, along with Tithe, the first in the series, are must-reads for fans of the urban fantasy/modern people discovering fairies living among us genre. Tithe in particular has a twist I haven't seen in other urban fantasies which makes it stand out. These books are YA and the main characters are teenagers, but these books are more than gritty enough for adults. They're the books I want to use to pelt people who insist that YA books are shallow and unworthy of adult attention.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

We seem to be weathering our first hurricane with relative ease. When you're 50 miles inland, you just get a bunch of rain and some wind. No need for battening the hatches. Still, it's the closest we've ever been to a hurricane and the novelty is exciting. We can be all blase about tornadoes since we've dealt with them all of our lives (blase here meaning "Don't sweat it if it's just a tornado watch" not "Let's go take a five-mile hike under those heavy clouds starting to funnel!"). It still kind of blows my mind that there hasn't been so much as a tornado watch since we moved here. But hurricanes are an entirely new kind of natural disaster for us. So far, I would describe the experience as "damp."

It's been five months since Olwen disappeared, and we've decided it's time to think about another cat. I think that Sonya will be happier with another cat around (once she warms up to the evil intruder invading her territory). For us, it will be nice to be able to spread the feline love around a bit, since Sonya has been extremely attached to me since she came back. Plus, kitten! Do we need a better reason than that?

A woman who volunteers at the museum put up a flyer advertising kittens about a month ago, which made me perk up like a prairie dog. I didn't think it was a good idea to get a new cat right before we left town for a week, so I waited until last week to call her and we're going to see the two remaining kittens tomorrow. They're about five months old, which is a bit older than I'd like since I love the mega-adorable prancing baby stage so much, but with a three-year-old in the house, a slightly bigger kitten may be a good idea.

We're considering taking both kittens so we won't have to split up a sibling pair. I can see pros and cons to the idea. I'm sure they'll be happier if we don't split them up, and cats are small enough that it's not hard to make room for an extra. On the con side, I'm a little afraid that it will be harder to get them to bond with Sonya if they come as a pair that can gang up on her, and one of the reasons that we found a new home for Bunter is that I was finding it hard to give enough attention to three cats.

But Bunter also didn't get along well with K or the other cats, so hopefully three cats will be easier if none of them have his personality issues. Basically, we're going to wait and see what they're like tomorrow - if one of them doesn't cotton to K or it seems like they're independent enough to separate easily, we'll probably take one. But if they're both child-friendly, it will be awfully tempting to take them both. Because kittens!

Kittens! Eeee!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Still alive


Well, I spent every day of last week taking care of K all day and working all evening. Then I worked Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure I've ever been so grateful for Labor Day, where we can celebrate ironically by doing very little.

Sadly, I think I lost any benefit I got from it by getting sick this evening. On the way home from dinner, no less. I've always had a horror of the idea of throwing up in the car for some reason, which I've never done until today. As it turns out, if you're lucky you'll be driving slowly enough that you can stop and lean out of the car to christen the pavement instead. There was a little...splatter that got on the door, but at least it wasn't on anything cloth and B heriocally cleaned it up when we got home. Bleah.

Tomorrow, we start calling daycare centers. We need one so very badly.

I have about twelve more topical posts running through my head. And one of these days I'd like to write something that sounds cheerful and not tired and whiny. But not today, apparently.

Monday, August 25, 2008


We are home. I was reunited with B and K on Friday. I missed them both, although K has been such a gigantic, stick in your throat PILL ever since that I'm not entirely sure why I missed her any more.

We had a good time at the wedding Saturday, then hit the road and spent the night in Ohio. We got up this morning, heroically refrained from strapping K to the roof of the car (oh trust me, after the night we had it was a serious consideration) and made it back to Philadelphia by the grace of God and generous lashings of Blues Clues to keep The Beast in check.

Am very tired. And I have to work all week without any daycare. *sob* Am going to go collapse.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On the road again

So apparently I'm gunning for Most Sucktastic Blogger of the Year award. In my defense, I was really busy trying to work extra hours last week, so my computer time has all been work time. And then we drove to Michigan.

I'm not sure I even talked much about this trip, but it was a combination of wanting to celebrate my mother's 70th birthday, wanting to get up to B's parents' place to get our wilderness fix and being able to attend a college friend's wedding. This was all planned before I got a second job, however. So I decided that rather than take time off after only a month on the job, I would just continue to work this week. What's the good of telecommuting if you can't commute yourself around? Unfortunately, B's parents only have dialup, and since one thing I'm evaluated on is speed, I shudder to think of what my statistics would look like if I tried to work up there, at the "click on a link, get up to make a cup of tea, go get a book to read" speed of download. But my mother has broadband, so I sent B and K up north for three days while I'm staying with my mother and working.

Oh goodness, even working, it's been glorious. No bedtime wrestling matches, no planning my day around nap time and bedtime. Going to bed knowing that I get to sleep through the night. I've taken two solo vacations with K now, so I've been due for some child-free time. I'm sorry not to have the opportunity to go north, but it's worth it to have the time off.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


One of the best purchases I made before we went to Colorado was this toy: the Princess Elise Magnetic Dress-Up Set

It's basically like a dress-up paper doll, only made out of wood with pieces that stay on with magnets. It's been a huge hit, with the added bonus that it's tough enough to stand up a three-year-old's love, which paper wouldn't. It kept K occupied for hours of car and plane time, and it's still a favorite now that we're at home. The only thing I can say against it is that toys with lots of small parts aren't great to bring on airplanes, where you have to contort yourself like a yogi master on acid to pick things up from under the seats (dear airlines, have you ever considered putting a lip on your trays, or even just a tacky surface, unlike the current coating that you seem to have right now, which causes any placed on it to instantly slip like a dog on roller skates on an ice rink?). I think it helped kick-start K's priness phase, but princesses aren't a big deal to me. We just read books like The Paperbag Princess and The Princess Knight and got her a little princess figure that has a horse she can ride around just as well as a knight. Princesses don't have to be all pink ballgowns and helplessness. And since we have a toy castle waiting in the garage for Christmas, I'm just as happy that she's developed an interest in that sort of thing (I have to admit, while I was pretty sure she would like a castle, it was one of those purchases that was as much for my inner ten-year-old as it was for her).

So the princess thing isn't what has my feminist ire up. What got it up was when I decided to see what other magnetic dress-up dolls Melissa and Doug had to offer. And they are:

* a ballerina with various ballet outfits
* a girl with various girly outfits
* two girls with, you guessed it, various girly outfits
* a boy, who can dress up as a police officer, a super hero, a knight, fireman, a construction worker or a pirate


Surely I don't need to point out the problem here. Apparently girls just dress up in pretty clothes while boys do active things and work in important professions. Really? In this day and age toy companies still send these messages?

Well, okay, I've seen plenty of examples of toy companies sending those messages. But I expect better from Melissa and Doug. I really like their toys; they're creative and well-made, non-plastic and yet affordable. And I guess that although making creative wooden toys gives the impression that the makers are progressive, apparently they aren't. Poking around their store, it's not hard to notice other things, like the fact that all of the pictures of children with products are gender-coded, with boys playing with trains and girls with dollhouses, or that of their puppets, the only one that breaks gender barriers is a female surgeon. The other female puppets are a ballerina, princess, cheerleader and cowgirl, while the male puppets are things like policemen and pirates. Gag.

This is really annoying, because I'd like to get K another magnetic doll, but all of the choices suck. I suppose I could get the boy doll and just give K the outfits to put on her princess, but I'm not sure I want to support this with my money. I'll probably still buy other Melissa and Doug products because they're so good, but I'm damned if I'm going to buy any products so nakedly sexist.

And speaking of sexist, I have a secondary rant for Target. Alert readers may remember that we had been contemplating building K a play kitchen. But I added up what it would cost, and then discovered that it wouldn't be any cheaper or a better quality than the wooden play kitchen Target sells. And now I'm glad we got it when we did, because I went into Target last week and discovered it had been redesigned. It wasn't significantly different in shape - they had replaced the mini-refrigerator with open shelves and changed the fixtures a bit - but they had changed the color from light blue to pink and white. Great! Way to take a toy that appeals to all children and send the message that only girls cook. Oh! And better yet, the box our kitchen in had a boy and girl on it, and now the box has two girls on it. Feh.

(As an aside to Target, it's becoming increasingly clear to me that you're trying to muscle in on the Melissa and Doug/Plan Toys-type market. I base this partially on the fact that I walked down an aisle today that I thought had M and D toys until I looked closer and realized they were Circo brand. I'm all for you making cheap wooden play food available - the magnetic peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a lunchbox we got has been a big hit; ditto the wooden sandwich. But I bought them because they were 1) a reasonable quality and 2) around five bucks (the pb and j was on clearance; I probably would have paid up to $10 for it). The stuff I saw today was crappy and $15. I'm not going to pay $15 for three lousy pieces of cutting fruit with a banana that's almost square when I can get a cutting food box from Melissa and Doug with eight pieces of food for $20. Or four entire crates of food from M and D for the same price. People will buy crappy stuff if it's cheap, or pay more money for better stuff. But they won't pay more money for crap. Last time I checked, the way big box stores got into a new market was by undercutting the competition, not by producing crappier products for the same price)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This has got to be some sort of record

In a couple of weeks, we are about to be without daycare again.

This time, the provider got offered a job she couldn't refuse with her old employer, and she wasn't making enough money with child care, so it wasn't much of a choice. I will give her credit for at least giving us some lead time on this - we have until the end of the month - unlike the others who more or less shoved us onto the curb without warning.

I'm choosing to see this as a blessing in disguise. For one thing, I think I will just tell her that next week will be our last week and then we won't have to pay for the week we're gone on vacation. But I had also been having some buyer's remorse, thinking that maybe we should have tried to get K in a more preschool-like environment. At the time, I just wanted someplace, but I think it would have paid to look around a little at some centers instead of home-based daycares. So this is a chance to find a preschool of some sort.

But still, this is the THIRD daycare in a YEAR. All I want to do is pay people money to watch my child. Is that really so unreasonable?

Sigh. At least K wasn't there long enough to get attached.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The next step

I called to renew some prescriptions the other day and discovered something interesting: my primary care physician is no longer with that practice. It would have been awfully nice to be told that the gatekeeper of our health care was no longer available, but on the whole, this is good news. Remember how I was uncertain about her competence? I've been feeling like I need to go back to the doctor again to talk about my PCOS meds, and I was avoiding it because I didn't want to deal with her, even long enough to say "I want to be referred to an endocrinologist."

So we need to call up our insurance and figure out who our doctor is, but once that happens, hopefully it will be someone with half a clue. Ever since switching to the extended release version of metformin last year, my weight has been slowly creeping up and now I'm starting to get some more PCOS symptoms back, even after upping my meds. Aargh. I'm hoping just switching back to regular metformin will fix this.

One particularly unwelcome symptom is increasingly funky cycles. I've had two relatively normal (probably) ovulatory cycles and one weird-ass (probably) ovulatory cycle. But now I'm on what is shaping up to be a weird-ass non-ovulatory cycle, dammit.

So I'm hoping that the new doctor will have half a clue. But if they don't, I'm going to demand a referral to an endocrinologist. As I was thinking this, it occurred to me that the most efficient thing to do is go to a reproductive endocrinologist. After all, they would probably be the best at treating syndromes that cause infertility like PCOS, and if these funky cycles continue for a few more months, I'm going to end up at one anyway. It just seems like a monumental step. We haven't been making a huge effort towards conception yet - we've been waiting for B's union to agree on a new contract with the city so we don't wind up pregnant and on strike, as well as taking a couple months to see what my cycles do. And my ob prescribed the clomid that got me pregnant last time, so I've never been to an RE. For some reason, the idea makes me nervous.

I suppose a lot of the problem is that I would just like the problem to be that I need to change my meds, and that will fix everything and let me accomplish pregnancy on my own for once. Because regardless of whether or not I get pregnant, I've had over five years largely symptom-free and I'd like to go back to that. Controlling PCOS isn't just an infertility issue, it's a whole-body health issue.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy anniversary to us!

It is our 8th wedding anniversary today. Eight years, which seems like no time at all and forever at the same time. Some of the years absolutely sucked, but it was never because of us.

B took the day off today and I'm still involuntarily on vacation (this server outage at work has moved from "pleasant unexpected mini-vacation" to "my paycheck is going to take a big hit, dagnabbit"), so we shipped the kid to daycare and hit the movies.

We saw Mamma Mia, a choice originally made because I was afraid that Dark Knight would give me nightmares if I saw it on the big screen and I wasn't sure Mummy 3 was worth the money to see in the theatre. But it turned out to be absolutely the right choice: lots and lots of fun and an enjoyable romantic flick perfect for an anniversary. If you like musicals and ABBA, it's worth seeing.

The thing that struck me about it while I was watching was how remarkably body positive it was. While there were certainly a decent share of nubile young things and hardbodies dancing around the screen, the real stars of the show were three women in their mid-50s, dancing and celebrating their sexuality without a single hint from the movie that this might somehow be ridiculous. Meryl Streep is always magnificent, but it has to be admitted that she's not Hollywood's female ideal anymore. Middle-age spread has set in and there are definitely plenty of wrinkles there. But watching her dance around like she's 20, it's easy to see why she could still have three men chasing her. Of her friends, one has had work done, but she isn't either lauded or condemned for it - she has an entire beach of young men pursuing for her, but again, the idea of that is considered entirely natural. Even the shortest and frumpiest of the trio who is normally relegated to comic-relief sidekick status, is allowed to be sexy and desirable.

In an industry where the normal procedure is to hire actresses in their mid-30s to play mothers to a 20-year-old and 45 is considered the most ancient of old age, it's just so refreshing to see a movie cast women who are frankly a little old for the characters, since my impression from the movie is that the main character was quite young (early 20s?) when she got pregnant with her daughter, now 20.

The movie itself? The frothiest bit of fluff that ever flirted with a wisp of plot. No substance there at all. But it's a musical based on ABBA music, after all. Any sort of plot would just sink like a lead weight among the clouds of bubbles that are the music. But the casting spoke volumes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


It's been a long week. If I had been smart, I would have taken the Monday after getting home to my vacation time, so I wouldn't have to jump right into taking care of K all day _and_ having to get four hours of work in immediately after getting back from vacation. But apparently I'm not that smart.

As a result, I've been working for the past twelve days straight and I was getting pretty strung out. But luck struck Thursday night when the website I use to do all of my work turned up its toes and died. So instead of working at the museum all day on Friday and then going home to work another four hours, I got to go home and do nothing at all, with the blessing of my bosses. Oh what bliss. And we had a nice lazy day today with a forecast for another lazy day tomorrow. I plan to become one with the couch and perhaps melt a bit.


Three is definitely a trying age. But it's also excessively cute, as K's verbal skills are finally to the point that she can really let us in on the things she's thinking. Tonight at dinner, for example, I was informed that there was a cat living in her apple. Apparently the inside of her mind is a deeply weird place.

And oh, the cute phrases, which slay me on a regular basis. There's bunnyhop for rabbits and dino-roars for dinosaurs (accompanied by a roar, of course). Recently pigtails were christened pony ears. In case the etymology is a bit murky, I had asked her if she wanted a pony tail, and she said no, she wanted pony ears. If you think about it, it's actually a much better name than pigtails, given that pigs don't generally have more than one tail unless they live next to Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.


Wednesday was the Anniversary, one year since my father died. I suppose it was good that it was a busy day, which meant I didn't even remember what day it was until noon. I felt out of sorts and frazzled, but I didn't have time to let myself wallow. I called my mother that evening and she had had a busy day as well. We had a good talk about our theologies of misfortune (short version: neither of us is fond of the "it's all God's plan" approach).

He is missed, and he will always be missed. But we're slowly rebuilding our family life around the hole. We laid him to rest in a place that he loved, and if he can't be with us, I'm glad his new home is as beautiful and peaceful as this.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hey, look at that - it's been a week since I posted last. A very very long, tiring week, mostly spent in front of the computer. I think in a week or so we'll have our new schedule down and get our groove back, but this past week has kicked my butt. I think the two main factors were 1) the early-morning meeting I had to get up for on Wednesday, which added an hour of work to my day and thereby required me to add an hour of work to the evening instead, and 2), the lack of daycare on Friday combined with K's 20 minute nap, which meant I had to do all four hours Friday night, keeping me up a lot later than I wanted to be given that I had to be at work early the next morning. It wasn't helped by K pulling her famous "wake up as I'm going to bed far too late and keeping me awake for the next two hours, keeping me up until it's technically morning to some people" trick.

If parsing that sentence is making your eyes cross and giving you seasickenss, let me sum up: I'm busy, and oh so tired. But it's probably going to get better next week as we work out the new schedule.


I hesitate to say this, but I think we're finally making real progress in the potty arena with K. For most of the last week, if K has been bare-bottomed, she will of her own volition go over to the potty to pee (there was even a memorable moment last week when she took her diaper off so she could use the potty). She's not perfect yet, as our damp floor can attest, but we were 3 for 4 yesterday. We're going hardcore at the moment, with no diapers on at home except at nap and bedtime. I'm hoping with another week of consistent progress, I'll feel confident enough to try taking her out of the house in training pants.

Does anyone have any advice on making the transition to using the toilet outside the house? Reason? Bribery? Trickery? Do a voodoo ritual? Or just steel my nerves to do it and bring extra pants?

Monday, July 21, 2008


K and I arrived home to the hot soup of Philadelphia yesterday evening, tired but happy to be home. The trip was fun, if emotional at times and I'm happy we went. But merciful heavens, I'm tired. Daycare tomorrow can't come soon enough. I'm working Saturday and Sunday at the museum next weekend, so my next day off where I'm not either working or doing solo childcare doesn't come until nearly two weeks from now. *weeps*

I suppose the best way to sum up the trip is by category:

We lived in Boulder for six months when I was five and my father was on sabbatical. At the time, I was hugely impressed that we could see the mountains from our house, which I didn't quite realize that everyone else in Boulder could do as well.

And really, it hasn't changed. You can bop around Boulder, seeing the landscape that's a bit dry but pretty similar to the Midwest, until you turn your head to the right and: whoa, mountains. It's simply gorgeous out there. We drove into Rocky Moutain National Park the first day, and while mountain driving of the hair-pin curve, roads on sheer cliffs which don't necesarily have barriers type freaks me right out, you can't argue with the view. Short of sticking your thumb in front of the lens, you just can't take a bad picture out there.

Boulder itself is a lovely little city, the epitome of the best a university town has to offer. I would love to live there if not for the high cost of living.


My father's brother lives in Boulder, along with his son and grandson. We also have a great-aunt and cousins living in Fort Collins (the wife and descendants of my grandfather's brother). We got to see quite a lot of my uncle, which was lovely, and a bit of my cousin and his son, who is 13. I haven't seen him since he was about six, but he was a very sweet little boy and has stayed a sweet teenager so far. K absolutely worshipped him and he paid a lot of attention to her.

We only got to see the great-aunt and more distant cousins at the wedding, which meant we didn't get to spend much time talking to them. That was a shame - my father always said they were his favorite relatives, and I can see why. They're just about the nicest people in the world. Kind, welcoming and they're all things like social workers and kindergarten teachers. My Great Uncle David clearly had the right idea when he married Great Aunt Doris, because they had some fantastic kids together.

At the wedding, I was watching people and asked my brother if he had ever wondered what it was like to grow up actually knowing your relatives well. We grew up 1000 miles from one set of relatives and 1500 from the other, and all of our cousins were significantly older than we were. I think that's why we tend to forget how much we fit in with my father's family. We've spent more time with my mother's family, but when we spend time with the Atkinson side, it suddenly becomes clear where our sense of humor comes from, as well as our geekery.


We wound up spreading Dad's ashes in Boulder Creek, standing on a bridge and sprinkling them into the fast-flowing water below (and narrowly avoiding someone floating by). He spent part of his boyhood in Boulder and it's a place he loved, so it feels like an appropriate place. It was sad, especially coming so close to the one-year anniversary of his death, but it was good for us to pass that milestone.

It was odd spending time with my uncle. He looks and sounds very much like my father did, and they have many of the same mannerisms. I didn't realize how much it was hitting me until we went to a Panera for dinner and when my uncle came by with his food, I was momentarily shocked that he had so successfully navigated the menu and ordered his food. The ability to read menus was something that Dad lost fairly early on, and it became automatic for me to step in to help him in restaurants. I guess old instincts die hard.

Solo parenting

Well, I spent the week with my child virtually glued to my side (including sharing a bed) and I mostly didn't gnaw my foot off. She did pretty well on the plane and in the category of small mercies, she didn't wake up at 6am every morning despite the time change. One nice thing about her getting older is that I could ask my mother's aide to watch her for short periods without much guilt, since once she's dressed and has a clean diaper, she doesn't need much active supervision beyond preventing her from playing with knives. I also discovered how nice it is to have other people around, since K really enjoyed going into my mother's room to hang out. It makes the idea of a multigenerational house seem pretty good.

It was a good trip, but I'm awfully glad to be home.