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.