Saturday, May 31, 2008


We all have sore throats, so we've been eating a lot of soup lately (to the point that one of the counter people at Panera knows me by name). Dinner tonight was Pho, a Vietnamese beef soup and it was a definite hit.

I used the recipe here (I highly recommend this blog, btw - it has tons of great crockpot recipes), with a few modifications. The biggest one is that I omitted the fish sauce because the beef I got at Trader Joe's was marinating in a sauce for Korean bulgogi. I looked at the ingredients and none of them conflicted with the flavor profile of pho, so I decided to give it a try. I omitted the anise because I don't like it and used ginger powder instead of fresh ginger because that's what I had. I added approximately two cups of fresh bean sprouts at the very end of cooking, so they would be warm and somewhat cooked, but not stewed and gross.

As it turned out, the bulgogi marinade was a fantastic gamble. The long slow cooking in the crockpot made the beef tender and delicious and the entire meal was just divine.

I threw up my hands in despair a while ago and decided that I just wasn't meant for Southeast Asian cooking, Thai in particular. I can never get ingredients as good as they have in restaurants, and they're often not quite right, like having to use Italian basil instead of Thai. I have to buy a bunch of large bottles of stuff that I don't use often enough to use them up before they go bad, which means it doesn't wind up being cheaper to cook that sort of thing at home, so I might as well just go to a restaurant where it's cooked by an expert. But pho is going to become part of my regular repertoire, so maybe I can conquer some of the cuisine of Southeast Asia after all.

(Ack! Internet service is extremely bipolar tonight, so I doubt I'm going to get all of my comments in.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Random blather

When I got up this morning, my eyes were the paaaalest shade of pink. What you would call "Maiden's blush" if you saw it on a paint chip. I stared at myself in the mirror for a long time, then decided to go to work and resolved to wash my hands a lot.

It was more or less the right decision. I'm still pretty tired and not feeling great, but I still managed to get some stuff done and they really needed me since all of the museum staff was in a workshop all morning. One good thing I discovered is that our Uberboss is preparing the budget for the next fiscal year, which will have money for the children's collection in it. Yippee! Soon we may have science books written within the past decade, if you'll allow me to let my dreams get big for a moment.

So did I mention we managed to see Iron Man while we were in Michigan? We really liked it, although it seemed like without Robert Downey Jr's charisma, it would have been a somewhat boring superhero movie with really great computer graphics. The measure of how good the computer graphics were is that I didn't even think about them until after someone else mentioned them later. There was never a moment during the action when I caught something unnatural looking and thought, "Hmm, computery." They were so good that they blended seamlessly with the rest of the action, which is really a huge accomplishment. The best success in cgi is when it goes completely unnoticed.

Fortunately, RD Jr was just delicious, and refreshingly had chemistry with his romantic foil (although I suspect he could have chemistry with a ceramic plate), so it wasn't boring, and good enough that I'm looking forward to the sequel they were so clearly building up to.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

House of plague

Quoth the doctor: "Sounds like pinkeye to me."

She didn't want to see us, which I find a bit... iffy (although I'm already documented on not being well-pleased with the doctor, so par for the course, I guess). But we have eye drops now, which is about as much as she can do for us unless it gets worse. B already looks a bit better, so hopefully we're on the right track.

I have to say, there are a lot worse illnesses to have than a mild to moderate case of pinkeye. B feels pretty good, but he's off work for the rest of the week, without argument. Apparently if you call up work and say you have pinkeye, they don't want you or your incredibly contagious germs within a 50 yard radius. So! He was on vacation for two weeks, came back for one day and is now out sick for the rest of the week. Employee of the year, here we come!

In any case, while my eyes aren't really bothering me, I still feel pretty flattened by this cold, so I'm grateful to know that he's going to be home tomorrow again. Our alternating work schedules don't give us many days to just lazily hang out together at home, so it was kind of nice.

So! Are you tired of my whining about being sick yet?

We've been trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our summer in terms of more travel. K and I are flying out to Colorado in July for a cousin's wedding. My mother and brother are going as well, although they're driving. In what I can only imagine was a moment of COMPLETE INSANITY, my mother had been planning to have K and me fly to Michigan and drive to Colorado with them. But I was able to convince her that it might be a tad more pleasant for everyone involved for us to just fly straight to Denver instead of shoehorning me and my restless, potty-training three-year-old into the incredibly uncomfortable backseat of her van next to my brother. I suppose it could have been a nostalgic recreation of all of those childhood trips to Colorado in the backseat together, in the non-airconditioned car with only a radio, sibling antagonism and all the wheat in Nebraska passing by for entertainment. It's memories like that which make me bless the day we bought our portable dvd player.

We had been thinking about another trip to Michigan in August, but hadn't decided anything until we discovered today that a good college friend had the good sense to plan his wedding for exactly when we were thinking of going. Yay! So that settles that. I've actually been investigating if the train might be a viable option for that trip. It would be a long poke, but it would still be shorter than driving and we wouldn't have to do the work of driving or sit still the entire time. And with gas prices, it might not be any more expensive.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What's the Internet for if not unqualified medical advice?

So do you know if it's possible to get pinkeye without actually developing red eyes? Last week, K had massive eye boogers, which made me look at her suspiciously more or less constantly, but her eyes never looked red and irritated, which I'm given to understand is the defining feature of pinkeye/conjunctivitis in addition to discharge (and we were 700 miles away from our doctor), so I decided to wait and see and she finally got better on her own.

Now, however, B has been wiping away the eye boogers for the past two days and when I picked him up from work, he looked like he had spent the day toking up. Even after resting his eyes for a couple hours, he's still demonically red-eyed. And the last time I looked in the mirror, my eyes are getting bloodshot and are starting to feel sticky and gritty.

Obviously, we'll go to the doctor tomorrow if things haven't improved, but I'm curious if anyone with experience with pinkeye/conjunctivitis has any opinions.


Welcome to everyone stopping by from NaComLeavMo! I meant to put this up yesterday but apparently could only find the energy to whine instead. :p Looking at my info page, it seems a bit spare on relevant information, so here's a brief primer on my life for people who don't want to have to read the archives (if you do want to read the archives, there are five years' worth at my Livejournal):

* I live in Philadelphia with my husband B and our nearly 3-year-old daughter K. We moved here from Indiana (B and I were both raised in Michigan), and we miss the Midwest. We moved here for the pragmatic reason of needing a job rather than any deep desire for living in a big East Coast city, and it doesn't really feel like home yet.

* B and I are both librarians. B works for the Free Library of Philadelphia and I work part-time for a tiny library attached to a museum with many out-of-date books and not enough funding. And yes, we own a lot of books.

* As the title says, we're both quite geeky. We like science fiction, fantasy and anime (Japanese animation), both in books, tv shows and movies. Shows we like include Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and Torchwood.

* I do a lot of knitting and sewing. I have a small business on Ebay selling costumes based on the anime show Naruto.

* B's parents live in northern Michigan in a gorgeous house in the woods. His father is a nature artist. He has a sister who lives in Boston.

* My mother lives in Southwest Michigan. She has been quadriplegic since a car accident six years ago. My father died last summer of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. As you can imagine, I've found it challenging dealing with grief of slowly losing my father and having to take care of my parents before I had the opportunity to have children.

* I have a brother who lives in Champaign, Illinois, along with several of our close friends. We both went to grad school in Champaign, so we developed some good friendships there. These are who I'm talking abour when I refer to the Champaign crowd.

* I have PCOS, for which I've been taking metformin for the past six years. We conceived K with the help of Clomid - I was having regular cycles but only ovulating occasionally. We're going to start trying to conceive again soon and I've been neurotically tracking my cycles or lack thereof and wondering what degree of intervention we'll need this time.

So welcome to one of my corners of the Web. I'm enjoying all of your comments so far!

Monday, May 26, 2008


So apparently we've decided to celebrate Memorial Day by feeling like death warmed over. B and I are balls of snotty, sinusy misery and spent the day alternating taking care of K so the other could sleep. K spent the day sporting a drippy nose and a bad attitude.

I'm pretty sure this is a piquant mixture of con crud and the cold that K had last weekend. Poor K, as a matter of fact, never had the chance to get over that cold before the cold we brought back from the con hit her last night. B and I, in turn, have K's old cold, or possibly the con crud, or possibly both. B is drippier, which argues for con crud, whereas I'm more sinusy. I don't know if K's last cold featured lots of sinus pain since her major visible symptom was lots of eye boogers (which I don't currently have), but her general attitude and the way she perked up when we gave her Tylenol argues that direction. Of course, it's possible a truck snuck into our bedroom last night and hit us, driving over us a few times for good measure.

Regardless of our individual disease vectors, I'm incredibly grateful B was home today. I'm not sure how I would have handled bedtime without him, given that I passed out from 5 to 8 this evening. I know we're supposed to spend today feeling grateful for our fallen war dead and the sacrifices they made - is it appropriate to feel grateful to them that I wasn't left alone to struggle with a sick toddler and my own illness all day?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quick finished object

One of the things we accomplished by stopping in Columbus on the way out, besides spending time with my best bosom friend Sarah, was that I was finally able to give her the wedding present I finished last October, and that means I can finally share a picture of it:

Raven blanket

It's not blocked yet in the picture, but the designs still come through well. The central raven design and Celtic wavy bits around the edges are from a book called Enchanted Knitting: Charted Motifs for Hand and Machine Knitting, a book of gorgeous knitting charts of pictures to put in any sort of knitting project you like. They're intended to be machine knitted, but they're not really that bad once you actually get into the project. I designed the blanket to go around them more or less on the fly. To get it to be large enough, I cheated a bit by using thick yarn and big needles, so it's very thick and warm. It's meant to keep a couple warm as they cuddle together on a cold night and I hope it serves its purpose through years of happiness.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


We arrived home last night around 8. We all slept horribly last night (between the cat and the child, there was nearly a double homicide at 5am in my bedroom) and we all have a cold in various stages of progression.

But we had a wonderful time. The convention went very well - our department is consistently one of the smoothest-running of the con and we all have fun working together, the food was pretty good and I actually got a decent amount of sleep, which I have discovered makes a huge difference in my ability to cope four hours into a work shift.*

After the con, we drove back to Michigan with my brother and a good friend in tow, to reunite with our no doubt grandparent-spoiled child and work on getting whatever we wanted out of my mother's house before it goes on the market. It is to my eternal regret that I wasn't able to get pictures of some of the better treasures from the basement Box of Horrifying Toys, such as the kangaroo puppet with half of its face rotted away and the doll that I think was a Christmas tree ornament, with its head pulled away from its neck and hanging disturbingly low to one side. An ornament for Jack Skellington's Christmas tree, maybe.

On the non-horrifying end, I pulled out my old large doll cradle (large enough to put a human baby in) and trunk full of doll clothes for K. I engaged in a ruthless washing machine Darwinism on the clothes by sending them through the washer and dryer and surprisingly, pretty much all of them made the cut. I discovered an astounding number of unmatched doll booties and socks - not a single pair in the bunch. K has adapted to this without blinking - currently her doll is wearing one white bootie and one blue bootie on its feet, and is doing her best to put a larger bootie on its head as a hat.

Eventually, we packed up a stupendous amount of stuff in our car and drove home, stopping in Champaign and Lafayette on the way. It was so good to see our friends. I miss them dreadfully.

I am astonishingly tired, so I will end this here so I can chase K to bed and collapse.

*Since it occurs to me that no one reading this blog would have been reading since I last did Acen in 2005, a quick translation: we have worked as staff at Anime Central, an anime convention in Chicago, for several years. We normally work in the video rooms, where hot and cold running anime is on tap 24 hours a day during the con, doing stuff like checking badges, changing dvds and making sure nobody steals the dvd players. If this doesn't sound like much fun, the draw is that several of our good friends run the video department, so we get to have fun hanging out with them while we work. Plus we get to watch lots of anime as well as get into the convention for free.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Midwestward ho!

So did I mention we were going to be travelling this week? I meant to leave a more formal "We will be on the road and away from the Internet for the next two weeks" message up last Saturday, but I was too preoccupied with freaking out over our slowly dissolving carseat.

So yes, we're no longer on the East Coast, but instead back in the Land of Corn. At Acen as a matter of fact. We've fallen into the old familiar Video room groove, which makes it feel like I never took a two-year maternity leave from working here. Lots of work, not enough sleep, lots of anime, all while surrounded by hordes of exotically dressed anime geeks.* The main difference is that when we went over to the dealers' room, we spent most of our time looking for presents for K instead of things for ourselves.**

K is apparently doing pretty well without us, being thoroughly entertained by all three of her grandparants. I have enjoyed my first nights away from her in her life, but I'll be happy to see her tomorrow. She's been behaving pretty well this trip, despite or perhaps because of the frequent stops. We only went as far as Columbus last Sunday, and stayed until Tuesday to visit with as well as B's cousin and her 10 month old. Then we had lunch in Yellow Springs with B's uncle, dinner in Indianapolis with more college friends and were at my mother's in Michigan by 11 on Tuesday. It's almost restful to be here despite, since we get to stay for a whole three and a half days before we have to drive anywhere again.

Must go - due back on shift soon.

*When we arrived Thursday afternoon, we sat in the atrium before dinner, amusing ourselves by watching the crowd slowly turn from businesspeople in suits to people lugging swords, catgirl ears and Mountain Dew, obviously here for an anime convention.

**There's a tragic lack of Miyazaki things this year, which is annoying because K is a huge fan of Kiki's Delivery Service.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Our current carseat (Graco Comfortsport) has what's called EPS safety foam, which essentially means it's lined with what looks like styrofoam. Tonight, in preparation for our trip tomorrow, I was cleaning out the car and decided to shake the disgusting layer of toddler debris out of the carseat. Taking off the cover, I discovered that a large section of the foam had cracked and then COMPLETELY BROKEN OFF.

Um, not exactly safety foam now, is it?

This is not a "don't buy the Graco Comfortsport" message. I don't know that this is a problem specific to them. I don't even know that our carseat is unsafe now, although I'm buying a new one first thing tomorrow morning anyway because I don't have time to find out before we leave to drive 500 miles. I'm just telling this story as a way to urge you to periodically give your carseats a good going over to make sure that pieces aren't about to fall off. It's never good to be surprised by these things.

Monday, May 5, 2008

To balance out the complaining in the last post

K's new word for rabbit, which I will be very very sorry to see go:


K's new word for baby rabbit, AKA the killing blow of cuteness:


Work notes, plus sleep despair

* I created a science fiction section in the library on Friday. Our adult fiction collection consists largely of romances, manly thrillers, cat mysteries and James Michener, so it always shocks me when I go dowsing through there and suddenly come up with a Star Trek novel or the complete Foundation series. And if it surprises me to find science fiction, I'm sure our patrons don't know it's there either, so it seemed worthwhile to pull it out and bring it blinking into the light for everyone to see.

This might have stayed a laudable yet unmet goal since one thing I don't lack for at work is projects, but then we got a huge donation of sci fi and fantasy. It was also largely two authors (Piers Anthony and Terry Brooks, not exactly my first choice, but beggars and all...), so adding them to our pretty tightly packed stacks would have been a nightmare of reshelving. Instead, I used it as an excuse to mine our stacks for science fiction and set them up on an empty set of shelves. Some of the gems included all of the Star Trek readers by James Blish (favorites of my childhood) and some particularly groovy Lando Calrissian novels from the early 80s.

I got a start on cataloging the new books, although I'm not sure if I'm going to add all of the Piers Anthony. It's fantastic that they gave us the entire Apprentice Adept series and the early Xanth books are cool, but there's also a glut of late Xanth books, from after it turned into a skeevy children's series with rather disturbing dirty old man tittering over the underwear of young girls. I am a staunch advocate of free speech and as a librarian strive to always serve the information needs of my patrons without judgment. This means I have cataloged any number of books that I didn't like or even found utterly antithetical to my beliefs. But I'm not sure if I can bring myself to catalog a book called The Color of Her Panties. I'm just not sure I have it in me.

* I briefly had thoughts of taking my mother's 1988 Britannica home with me to donate to the library, but then I discovered that we in fact already have an Encylopedia Britannica. From 1988. Something of a lateral move. So much for beefing up the reference section through family charity.

But yesterday, I reaped the benefits of nepotism when B called me up to let me know he was withdrawing a three-year-old World Book, which is now free for the taking by any other city agency. Like mine, just to pull an example out of thin air. An encyclopedia for the children's section! From this century even! Well, we do have the Charlie Brown Encyclopedia, but it, um, lacks in intellectual rigor.

* It's after midnight. K is STILL awake. I don't know what the hell is wrong with her these days. Either she falls asleep late and sleeps through the night, or she falls asleep at a reasonable hour and then wakes up for a couple hours in the middle of the night. I would think that it was a sign she needed to give up her nap, but it hasn't worked so far. I tried several times to skip her nap only to have her fall asleep on top of me at 5 after a major meltdown. She skipped her nap a couple times last week and fell asleep right at 8, only to wake up at midnight and stay awake until 3. Tonight, it's like someone slipped her speed. We've alternated between letting her play quietly and taking turns going in to try and get her to fall asleep. I almost had her down a couple times, but those eyes will. not. stay. closed.

Okay, she's finally asleep. At 12:30 in the fricking AM. We've tried helping her fall asleep, which doesn't usually work until it's late at night. We've tried letting her play in her room until she's ready to go to sleep, which usually lets her keep herself awake. We've tried melatonin. Short of clubbing her over the head, I don't know what to do any more.

Friday, May 2, 2008


After no small amount of effort, I managed to assemble the paperwork for K's preschool application and got it in the mail in time. It wasn't a hard application, per se, just long and a bit eccentric. The only things K really needs to qualify for preschool is to 1) be three by the time school starts, and 2) live in Philadelphia (check and check! Whether or not she gets in is an issue of space, and preference is given to older children), so there was only so much paperwork to fill out relevant to those issues. But government paperwork can never be simple, so they had to hit me with some mildly bizarre social development and nutrition questionnaires. On the nutrition questionnaire, for instance, they were asking how often we fed K various kinds of foods. But the lists were a bit odd; one was "Green vegetables, carrots, broccoli" for instance. Um, isn't broccoli a green vegetable? Why did pasta and tortillas get put in one question but bread in a different one? Like I said, slightly bizarre.

The social development questionnaire stymied me for a while. They wanted to know when K passed certain milestones, except the milestones they chose were very difficult to pin down. Like "Understands language." Do you mean when she first began to understand simple words, or when it became clear that her receptive language had expanded to the point that she understood a lot of what we said to her? Or the really hard one, "Feeds and dresses self." First of all, those are two completely different milestones, accomplished at wildly different ages. Babies can often start feeding themselves finger foods by 8 or 9 months, while many children can't still can't completely dress themselves without help by the time they're three. Second, what you mean by feeds self? The first time she was able to rake a piece of food into her mouth? When the majority of her meals were self-fed finger foods? When she started using a spoon?

Gah. I hope the preschool itself will be worth the hassle. I'm quailing a bit at the thought of my baby starting full-day school, but at the same time, this is a golden opportunity for a large chunk of free child care. I passed on the opportunity to apply for three part-time jobs this spring because when I crunched the numbers, I would have wound up working 30-35 hours a week to take home $300 a month after paying for daycare. That's just not worth it. I'm sick of being caught in the trap of needing two incomes but not being able to afford working outside of the house. I'm so burned out on Ebay, but nothing else makes money without having to pay for daycare. Maybe we could actually get ahead a bit financially if we can get K into a free preschool.