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.