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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

So the good news is that I passed the test and am officially on the job! (86 percent, even with three instances of pages that didn't load for me, so I didn't get credit for them).

The better news is that we found new daycare for K, so she will shortly be out of my hair again.

However, while she went on Tuesday, the provider had previous engagements today and tomorrow, so we're not going to start on the regular schedule (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) until two weeks from now, after we get back from Colorado. But I've been working for two days, and will be working tomorrow. And I'm working both Saturday and Sunday at the museum. And then working from home again on Monday, also with no daycare. And somewhere in there I have to find time to pack, because we're leaving for the airport at 7 AM on Tuesday, where I will then spend five days parenting solo in a strange city.

So if the writing here is scarce, it's because I'm caught between being busy and getting in some anticipatory hyperventilating over next week. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to going to Colorado again. I'm just tired, and the thought of the next week and a half makes me want to take a five-year nap.

More notes from the front when I have two seconds to rub together.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I hate telecommunications companies

We went to Ikea Saturday night, and when we got home, I rushed over to the computer to see if the season 4 finale of Doctor Who had made it up onto the Internet. It had, and had been up long enough that there was a nice large pool of people seeding. Score! I fired up Azureus, sure that we would have the episode within the hour.

However, I hadn't counted on Veriz0n. We would get going at a good clip, only to have everything grind to a halt for a couple minutes as our Internet access blinked off and on. We've had this problem ever since we moved. We've had technicians out on multiple occasions, and the best we've managed is to only have the Internet go out during thunderstorms. Except it was barely sprinkling Saturday night, so even the dubious logic of an electrical storm couldn't explain away our problems. Veriz0n is evil, there's an explanation for you. They've also been overcharging us since we moved, and the combination of paying more money for spotty service is driving us insane.

FIVE hours later, we finally had it, and watched eagerly. Spoilers for season 4 finale of Doctor Who (highlight to reveal): I enjoyed it the same way I've enjoyed all of the season finales of Doctor Who: by turning off my mind and enjoying the spectacle. It was fun to see all of the former companions coming together, and it will be entertaining to see how they manage to bring the Daleks back (oh come on, you don't think they'd get rid of them permanently, do you?). Getting rid of Donna in such a permanent, senseless way really made me sad though. It was great to have a companion who could really stand up to the Doctor, and Catherine Tate had an incredible comedic chemistry with David Tennant. While this season has certainly had its suicidally depressing moments, Catherine Tate's comedic chops have provided a wonderful leavening, and bring out the best in David Tennant.

With my new job, which requires me to perform at a minimum speed, Internet blinking in and out is completely unacceptable. So we're finally allowing ourselves into the sinister clutches of C0mcast. After all, 7 more dollars a month is more than worth reliable service, isn't it? But here's the wrinkle: it's more like 20 more dollars a month if you don't subscribe to cable as well, because apparently they don't want to lure Internet customers away from Veriz0n. We would do it, but we signed a contract with our satellite company and we would pay a substantial penalty to cancel early. We're stuck between the competing evils of telecommunications companies. I finally decided that the extra money for the cable modem was (barely) less than the penalty we would pay for cancelling the satellite, so we're going the obscenely expensive cable modem route as the cheapest of our overpriced options. I'm chalking it up to a business expense, since the money I make working will more than make up for the extra expense.

Of course, I have to make it through training first. I'm about to start the test that will determine whether I get to actually have the job, and I'm feeling slightly panicky because I royally frakked up my last assignment. All will not be lost if I don't pass since apparently I can do some extra training and try to qualify again, but I would still appreciate good thoughts as I start out.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

It was overcast and rainy here in the Birthplace of America, and we have a toddler who demands a reasonable bedtime, so no fireworks for us. In fact, we did very little at all today, except enjoy the novel experience of all of us being home for the entire day.

So in lieu of fireworks, let's celebrate with weirdness instead:

K made me play it for her about 8 times in a row. Clearly we're raising her right.

Blueberry vanilla ricotta muffins (low glycemic)

1 cup multigrain baking mix
1/2 tsp baking powder (or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 large eggs
4 T butter, melted
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 T vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (or 1 large apple, chopped finely or grated and 1 tsp cinnamon for apple cinnamon muffins)

Preheat over to 350

Mix flour, baking powder, milk powder, whey protein powder and flaxseed meal in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together agave nectar, eggs, butter, ricotta and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together. Stir in blueberries. Spoon batter into muffin tin and bake in 350 degree over for 20-25 minutes (check often since flax meal likes to brown quickly).

So far, these seem to be great muffins if you need to watch your blood sugar. Flaxseed meal is essentially all fiber, but can be used to replace quite a lot of flour in a recipe. The milk, protein powder, eggs and ricotta combine together for a nice amount of protein to keep blood sugar in check. Agave nectar is some sort of unholy concoction that has freakishly little affect on the blood sugar. And I can't think of a better use for the lovely fresh blueberries I picked up the other day (except perhaps for shoveling them into my mouth like a bear coming out of hibernation). In total, a large muffin has 15 grams of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein. Not bad at all for a baked good.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Still here

I never mean to go so long between posting. I usually just get caught up in the mundanity and busyness of existence. In this case, I've been dealing with some last Ebay orders, going through training for the new job and fretting about same training, which seems to take up more time than the training itself. This fretting isn't necessarily justified; my actually starting this job does depend on my performing well enough on the final assignment, but my performance on my homework so far indicates that I shouldn't have a problem with that. I just tend to panic a little when I suddenly experience being judged on my performance if it hasn't happened for a while.

So I'm attempting to chill, while still putting the necessary amount of work in. And I think I'm just feeling a bit quiet at the moment. I don't have a great history with the month of July, between my mother's car accident and my father's death. I'm not lying on the couch mired in the deepest depths of despondency, but it contributes to my feeling the need to retreat, my main defense mechanism in times of stress. I'm just curled up in my little mousehole, Shy Sheldon stuck in my shell, waiting for this month to be over.

In completely unrelated news, I lightly bopped K over the head with some plastic flowers tonight. She looked indignant and said, while rubbing her head, "Stop hitting my head." Only in her three-year-old pronunciation, it came out "Stop hittin' mah haid."

My child speaks lolcat. I'm not sure what to think about this.