Monday, April 28, 2008

Trip planning

It has suddenly snuck up on me that we're leaving on a long road trip in TWO WEEKS. And how have we prepared so far? We've bought an 18 pack of Horizon vanilla milk boxes that are vacuum sealed so they'll be safe in the car. Clearly this is the sort of strategic planning and ruthless efficiency that let the pioneers of old settle the west. Of course, we don't have the option of tethering a cow to the back of the car in case we need milk during the journey like they did, so the milk boxes were definitely a good purchase. But I don't think milk alone, organic or not, will carry us through 750 miles, so we should get on the stick (although milk will likely be cheaper than gas if the current trends continue).

So: renew AAA membership, get oil changed, attempt to find the perfect algorithm for packing as little as possible so we have plenty of room to carry stuff from my mother's house home yet enough to keep K thoroughly entertained and occupied while we're driving (and not just the portable dvd player), attempt to find inflatable travel bed for K that doesn't have a Disney character on it, try not to go slowly mad on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, etc. We can get food for Acen once we're in Michigan. Yay Acen! I'm giddy with anticipation. I'm sure that most parents don't spend the first nights away from their child in nearly three years working at an anime convention while sharing a hotel room with two other people, but it's going to be fun for us, albeit in a slightly masochistic kind of way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I've made four - no, five t-shirt dresses for K now. We now have dinosaurs, froggies, dragonflies, whales and a lovely little flowered number with yellow eyelet fabric. They're such a satisfying little project. Half an hour of work for a great looking little outfit, if I do say so myself. It helps that K is an extremely gratifying person to sew for. I don't think I've made anything for her yet that she hasn't loved and immediately tried to put on. K and I went to the fabric store yesterday to get yet more fabric and she could barely contain her glee as the fabric she helped choose was cut and slid across the counter towards her.

I'm feeling particularly happy about the latest dress, ladybugs:

It started life as a lace-trimmed henley from The Children's Place, with ladybug fabric from Joann's. The pieces de resistance were the cute little ladybug buttons I found to replace the originals. I think this one is definitely my favorite so far.

Next up: doggie dress! Another dino dress! Butterfly dress! And work out a pattern for shorts so K can wear all of these dresses without flashing everyone and their brother on the playground.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monkey on my back

I think I have come to the conclusion that at the moment, one of my body's reactions to depression is to crave sugar. For most of the past year, I've been struggling with the easy availability of Wawa's donut case and cappuccino machine, replete with chai and Cinnamon Delight cappuccino. This has never in my life been a problem before (I'm typically more of a salty than a sweet craver), but I've never had a year quite this bad either.

But with the advent of spring, I've been feeling better. Time marches on and starts to heal wounds, our social life is starting to come to life a bit and the return of sunlight is almost always good for what ails you. And so I felt the siren call of Wawa less and less, until a couple weeks ago I got a donut and coffee before work, only to discover that I didn't particularly want either. I finished the donut but it took me most of the day. And I drank a third of the coffee and then poured it out and filled the cup with water instead. Since then, I've practically been a culinary monk when it comes to eating healthy.

Until today, when our daycare situation turned sordid as I discovered that my daycare provider has been lying to me in a rather underhanded way (not that any lying is really aboveboard, I admit, but this was a sort of two-facedness that seems particularly egregious). I don't want to hash out the details right now, because mostly I feel like crawling in a hole over the entire situation. Mostly I mention this because I find it notable that along with the sting of betrayal came the almost immediate siren song of fat-laden sugar.

I gave in, just for tonight. But my waistline doesn't thank me for this particular coping mechanism, so tomorrow we will start to try to unravel the daycare mess and I will attempt to find a better way to drown my sorrows.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yes we can!

We just got back from an Obama rally tonight! It was a pain and a half going downtown and we kept K up horribly past her bedtime (which made the force-10 meltdown over wanting a cup of water when she already had two strawcups of water in her bedroom pretty much inevitable) we decided that it might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a future president speak, and listening to Obama is well worth the trouble. Sadly, we couldn't see him because we didn't get there nearly early enough, but our position was probably more pleasant than being up close, since we weren't crowded and had grass to sit on. We went away duly inspired and with shiny Obama buttons and t-shirts.

Of course, we discovered this week that if we were still living in Lafayette, we could have gone to hear him speak there. What's the good of moving to a large city in a swing state if our previously completely neglected state is going to become a political hotbed?

As you may be able to surmise, we've been an Obama household for a while. I'd been leaning towards him for a long time, and it was cemented when Edwards dropped out of the race. What really converted me, I think, is reading about his ability to reach across the aisle and create consensus. And after 8 years of hearing the English language mangled beyond recognition, I'm more than ready to have a talented speaker in the White House again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wandering around on my own little cloud

Thanks to the magic of Taxcut online, electronic filing and direct deposit, I had my taxes filed and return in my bank account by the end of February. Not to come over all superior or anything; I was highly motivated by the thought of getting our decently sized return as soon as possible.*

I relate this more as a way of explaining why I was so oblivious as to why when I went to the post office at 5 this afternoon there were earnest peace activists handing me pamphlets on how much of my tax dollar goes to war and the line into the post office was out the door. I was preoccupied with scribbling out customs forms, so it took a few minutes and overhearing conversations of several surly people in line before it finally dawned on me. Oh right. April 15. Tax day. That would be why the line in the post office was like a long winding queue leading directly through the depths of Hell.

I'm sure my stunning in-depth knowledge of current events impresses you no end.

Other than my mail-related cluelessness, life is fairly boring at the moment. I'm actually not minding the lack of daycare too much, although that will change if K has to spend many more days at work with me. We went to storytime today, something we havne't been able to do in quite a while because it seems like every storytime in the area is on Tuesday, a daycare day. I'm not even minding that K is clearly starting a new developmental spurt, signified by the horrifying lack of sleep and temperamental behavior. We spent 45 minutes yesterday locked in a battle of wills over picking up the mess she made, cycling between her attempting to ignore me, outright refusal and screaming meltdown.** And yet I still wasn't fed up with her.

I'm not sure what the source of the unexpected deep well of patience and zen is, but I'm not arguing.

*And thanks to direct deposit and a relatively low social security number, we're going to have our tax rebate in the bank by May 9. I love the information age.

**I have to confess, it's hard to maintain the proper stern demeanor when she plants those little feet, puts her hands on her hips and glowers at me with an audible growl of frustration. I don't think giggling does much to help my authority though, so I (mostly) resist.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tonight's dinner

Artichoke pasta

12 oz quartered artichoke hearts, frozen or from a can, drained
2 Tbsp olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 oz chicken or vegetarian chicken substitute (roughly one chicken breast) cut into strips (this is entirely optional - I wouldn't have added it but B often needs a concentrated protein source to really feel full)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Bunch of kalamata olives, sliced
2 Tbsp basil pesto
8 oz pasta

Start water boiling for pasta and add pasta when it's boiling. While that's happening, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic. If you chicken is raw, add it as well and saute until chicken is cooked and garlic is brown. Add the artichoke hearts and olives (and chicken if precooked), saute for 3-4 more minutes (possibly less, since I was starting with frozen artichoke hearts. Take off heat, stir in pesto and crumbled feta. Serve over pasta (I used Trader Joe's artichoke tortelloni, which was a divine combination).
It looks like Friday nights are going to belong to the Sci Fi channel for the next couple months. New Battlestar Galactica, the new season of Dr. Who, and tonight's premiere of the Sarah Jane Chronicles. Oh my, it was fun in a completely and thoroughly cheesy way.

Actually, my main reaction can be summed up as: Hello 80s! From the multilayered outfit accompanied by a long string of beads worn by the main teen heroine to the alien computer console that looked like it was dug out of BBC props deep storage from the era when everything was held together with gum and bits of string to the wholesome plucky teens saving the day, it took me straight back to watching PBS in 1985 or so. Although with generally better production values, thank goodness - these days, sketchy and unconvincing cgi is the equivalent of yesterday's foam rubber aliens, but even poorly rendered cgi usually looks better than the styrofoam BBC monsters of yesteryear.

Although did anyone else want to start singing about Slurm as they were watching?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Not exactly a gentleman burglar

I staged a daring daylight raid on the Friends' booksale room at work today. It felt deliciously dangerous, although the danger involved in taking a couple books out of two large boxes brought in by a senile woman who would likely never see them again was admittedly pretty small.

I had helped the head of the Friends bring in books from her car for the booksale room when I spotted two Series of Unfortunate Events books that we don't have in the library (not hard, since we only had three), a Dear America book and Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs and Full-Front Snogging. Which is to say, four very popular children's/YA books in great condition that we don't have in the library, about to be sold for 25-75 cents.

Later that day, I listened to the Friend's head tell my manager that how well the booksale room is doing, selling lots of children's books. Last weekend, they made $45. Which don't get me wrong, is incredibly good for a used book sale of that type. But it's at that point my head exploded. Because $45 is about what it would cost to buy those books I saw for the library, and I don't like to even think how many books they had to sell to get that $45. So I decided it was time to do a little liberation in the name of greater efficiency. Just call me a Gilbreth guerilla. I waited until she left, took the keys and went down to the booksale room and took the damn books, and cataloged them within an inch of their lives. And I'll probably do it again, dammit.*

It's really not such a hard concept, is it? That new, clean books are more appealing that 40-year-old crumbling books and are therefore much more likely to attract people who want to check them out? Apparently one of the ways the booksale room is doing so well is by getting rid of old, lousy books. Well, guess what? I'd like to do that in the library too, except I need something to replace them with. So you might understand then why I had to count to ten a couple times when a few weeks ago the head of the Friends said to me that she felt all donated books should go to the booksale room since the library already has plenty of books. Um, yes. We do. Plenty of crumbling, 40 year old books and a children's non-fiction section that would have been an excellent educational resource for children in 1970.

She's an elderly woman and going senile, so I'm not inclined to start picking fights with her. But it gets hard not to snap a bit when every time she comes in, she looks over the donated books in queue to be cataloged and asks speculatively if they're being added to the library. Stay away from my books, old woman. I have book tape and I'm not afraid to use it.

* I'm actually going to get a budget for adding to the children's section soon, so the book turf wars will hopefully get better at that point. But that's soon in Park Commission time, which is to say I'll be lucky if it happens before the next geologic era comes around.

Monday, April 7, 2008

State of the uterus, cycle 2

It's time for another "Good News, Bad News:" *

Good news : I'm pretty sure I ovulated this month (although I didn't last month).
Bad news : it happened on day 24, which is way late. Normal would be more like day 14-16

Good news : My cycle this month was 31 days, which is well-nigh normal (down from 35 days last month).
Bad news : That means there were only 7 days between ovulation and my period starting, which, well, ack. Even if I had gotten pregnant, it almost certainly wouldn't have stuck. **

So. Where I seem to stand at the moment is that things are improving, but things are clearly still awry with ye olde hormones. After much wrangling, I got my doctor to increase my metformin dose,*** so hopefully that has helped with the normalization and as I spend more time on it, will help things improve further.

An supplementary theory is that this is my hormones normalizing after the iud removal and it's just taking a few cycles to crank up to normal. The problem with that is that my previous experience with hormonal birth control is that going off of it has a carryover effect for several months where my cycles are more normal, then start to get weird as my naturally screwed up hormonal state asserts itself. So coming off of it so badly this time isn't reassuring.

More wait and see, I suppose. Hopefully cycle 3 will show more improvement. And I'm starting to think about how soon I should to call the ob/gyn and ask for a referral to someone who specializes in infertility. She had said six months, which would technically be May. I think I may wait for June or July, since that would be six full cycles, not just six months since the iud was removed.

*With apologies to Animaniacs

**Quick primer for those unacquainted with ins and outs of the female cycle: it takes several days for the egg to meander its way down to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. Fertilization actually happens in the fallopian tubes, and the fertilized egg then hopefully enters the uterus and implants in the lining of the uterus, which is when pregnancy happens. But if there's not enough time between ovulation and period, the fertilized egg enters the uterus and surprise! Either doesn't have a lining to implant in or doesn't have time to implant properly before getting swept out to sea, so to speak. This is called a short luteal phase.

*** And this is the last time I go to my gp for anything for PCOS - I'll either call my ob/gyn or ask for a referral to an endocrinologist. First, she insisted on blood tests, but tested only one hormone which is typically found at normal levels in women with PCOS. But as it turned out, there wasn't much point to that, because when I pointed this out and told her the tests she should have done, she said that even if we did them, she didn't want to increase my metformin because she was afraid it would lower my (currently normal) blood sugar. And then she said that PCOS doesn't cause weight gain.

That sound you hear would be my jaw hitting the floor. Weight gain is one of the biggest features of PCOS, to the point that thin women with PCOS have trouble getting diagnosed. It's number three on the symptom list, behind not ovulating and polycystic ovaries. And the worry about lowering my blood sugar is just moronic because metformin doesn't cause low blood sugar unless you're diabetic, which I'm definitely not.

I finally pointed out that I've been on a higher dose before and didn't have a problem and she suggested we try it for six months. But yeesh. Not going back to her for anything more complicated than hay fever or an ingrown toenail.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

March Books

Aunt Dimity and the Duke
Aunt Dimity Digs In
Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday
by Nancy Atherton

There are about twelve billion of these books, all very amusing and gentle. It's nice to read a mystery series that doesn't involve murders. I like mysteries, but it can strain credulity to have the protagonist encounter murders wherever they go without developing a nervous complex after the twelfth book or so, at least if they're not a police detective.

Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy-Tacy Go Downtown
by Maud Hart Lovelace

One thing I like about my library is the number of classics from my childhood I've rediscovered. I loved the Betsy-Tacy series as a child, but hadn't realized that the series went beyond Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. As it turns out, the series goes all the way up through her marriage and my library has the lot (except Betsy-Tacy-Tib, which I should remedy at some point). They're a fun series of books, which like the Harry Potter books have the nice trick of having the writing style grow up with the main character.

The Field Guide
The Seeing Stone
Lucinda's Secret (The Spiderwick Chronicles)
by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
We saw Spiderwick in the theatre recently (capsule review: pretty good!), so I needed to re-read the books. Taken together, all five books make up a rather short children's novel, so it's not surprising I blew through the first three in the last two days of the month. I haven't read these since they came out in 2003/4 and I'm a little surprised at how little I remembered of the plot. But I enjoyed refreshing my memory, and I'm planning to get the next series out of the library soon.

Well! Apparently the secret to reading a lot of books in a month is to read children's books. If only all my monthly book lists were this long.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sometimes toddlers are exhausting for unexpected reasons

No time for exercise? Here's a great phrase to get your heart pumping at a nicely aerobic rate:

"I can't find the other 11 eggs."


It appears that I forgot to latch the gate when I left K's room after saying good night tonight. We first realized this when we heard her walking around upstairs. I don't know why hearing that doesn't have us immediately running up the stairs, given our experiences in this area. But we're both sick, so our reaction time is off.

So B went upstairs, then quickly called me up for help. K met me at the top of the stairs, wearing only a diaper. From the smell, that was a good thing because she had clearly pooped. And then B showed me the previously untouched egg carton with one lonely egg sitting in it. We both burst out laughing, because really, what else can you do in a situation like that?

Not since the day last fall when K came out of her bedroom sans diaper with poop on her hands have I felt more apprehensive about having to go look for a mess. There wasn't anything obvious in the kitchen or dining room, so I went back to her bedroom. Thankfully, the eggs were sitting in a cluster on a cushion on her floor. There was one on the floor that was cracked but unbroken, but that was the extent of the mess.

There was the collateral damage to clean up. The poopy diaper, of course. It appears the reason she took her jammies off is she managed to get the top off of her straw cup of water, which meant new jammies and a new sheet for her bed. Removal of the two tubs of Play-doh that she had somehow managed to get her hands on, which has a frightening potential for caking most of the room with a mess that could only be cleaned up with hours of scraping. Chalk that up as another disaster avoided.

K is back in bed, the gate safely latched. And B has installed the refrigerator lock that I had bought after the last disaster but not gotten on because we had finally gotten a gate up that she couldn't get around. Ha.


After 5 1/2 years living in thoroughly red Indiana, it is an extremely novel experience living in a state where our votes could very well tip the balance in the Democratic primary race, especially since we had assumed that our primary would hardly matter at all. In 2004, nobody in the national race cared about us or bothered to campaign in our state. We were either a sure thing or a lost cause, and certainly not worth courting. Do I sound bitter? Well, it made for a very quiet election season and I didn't miss the political robo-calls. But it would have been nice if our party had at least pretended to care about us a little.

But this year, not only does our state matter, we're exactly the demographic they want. B answered a phone survey for Quinnipiac University last night, which means his opinion will be part of the closely followed polls released next week. I'm sure in a week or two I'll be utterly sick of the thick carpet-bomb of political ads and incessant pleading phone calls (I'm already screening the phone pretty closely), but right now, it's kind of nice to be wanted.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Our new glasses came today! Finally, my eyesight in my left eye is as good as the sight in my right eye again. When they tested me with my previous pair of glasses, the line of letters I could read with my left eye was two lines above what I could read with my right. No wonder things have been looking odd and blurry.

One of the hazards of really bad eyesight is that it's really hard to choose new frames. There you are, already half blind from your horribly dilated pupils, and somehow you're supposed to judge how a pair of frames look without your glasses on. I spend a lot of time squinting into the mirror from three inches away, which is generally a great way to make nothing look good. So the moment of truth with new glasses is always a moment of high-stakes gambling, because then I get to see what they actually look like. Verdict this time? Pretty good! They're different enough from what I've had before that it's going to take a little while to get used to them, but I like them. Change is good. And I have sunglasses again! Whee!

And since we were in the vicinity of the bookstore anyway, we had to stop in and get a book that came out this week. I think more than anything else, the way you can tell that we're now parents is that while we've been able to patiently wait a while to get the latest book by our favorite authors, waiting for birthdays or Christmas or at least until the Science Fiction Book Club edition is available, and often just getting things out of the library that we would have previously bought, we absolutely had to go get the new Mo Willems Pigeon book as soon as possible.

I'm happy to report that it's wonderful. Cute, funny and a significant enough departure from the previous pigeon books that it doesn't feel like he's repeating himself. I highly recommend it to all Pigeon fans.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Daycare fandango

Forgive the gap in posting. The house is sharing a rotten cold. Our little disease vector had a snotty nose for a day and a half, and now her father and I are about to buy stock in Kleenex.


Sigh. Today brought a reprise of last fall's late unlamented daycare problems. Apparently my daycare provider's neighbor has been going postal over people parking in his driveway to drop their kids off; today, he came over screaming and called the police. Since she's opening a daycare center in two weeks, our provider decided that it was best just not to have kids at the house. I can't say I disagree, since I certainly don't want my small child around someone so clearly unhinged. But that gives us a two-week gap of no daycare.

Fortunately, it's not too bad. At least last fall taught us how to deal with not having daycare when I'm working. I can take K to work this week and B should be able to move his day off next week to Friday. It's a sucky arrangement, since we wind up not having a single day off together when we arrange weekends that way, but it will get us through. I can only imagine how hard this sort of thing is for people without flexible schedules and understanding bosses, where family survival truly relies on two incomes. As it is, I think the person most put out by this is going to be K, who will be missing two weeks of social time. I'll have to try to take her to one of the many story times we can never go to because they're all on Tuesday, which is a daycare day.

It's amazing, the difference in reaction I feel to similar events, based on how I feel about the daycare provider. Our previous provider had: cancelled several days on us for "family emergencies" which got hard not to interpret as "I want a long weekend," didn't make any effort to get K to nap, reacted so negatively to the only bad day K had that I started to wonder if she had ever met a two-year-old even though she had four children, and gave us a vague excuse for why daycare was being cancelled for the next week and then disappeared off of the face of the Earth. Our current provider: only cancelled the day she had a terrible case of the flu, regularly gets K to nap, took it entirely in stride the day K had a bad day and gave me a full explanation for closing, complete with many apologies and promised to give me frequent updates on the progress of getting the daycare center licensed by the state (the last hurdle preventing it from opening immediately). And since we actually went over there for an openhouse last weekend (K is going to love it there - we stayed for an hour and she fought leaving), I'm pretty sure that the center isn't just a castle in the sky and this provider won't simply vanish into the ether.


In other news, I despise Verizon. I know Comcast is just as evil, but I'm about ready for a different brand of evil, one that gives me Internet fast enough that I don't have to regularly refresh pages to get them to load because they timed out before they could load. And even if it costs a bit more, charging the same amount every single month and not conveniently "forgetting" to apply promised discounts would be a huge improvement too. Telecommunications companies, feh.