Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not much time to type tonight - I have promised K a new winter coat, and I've been busy copying the pattern and then cutting it out. This is reminding me why I like working on things that don't need patterns, because after two evenings of tedious work, I'm just about ready to start cutting the cloth. Developing a pattern is fun. This is just tiresome.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Almost forgot to post

When I thought about our Thanksgiving weekend this year, I realized with a bit of distress that the only day B and I would have off together was Thanksgiving itself. I couldn't see a way around it though, unless I wanted to beg the other librarian to take Sunday for me.

However, apparently in the category of "Careful what you wish for," there was another way. I woke up last night about 4 am, feeling sick. I wasn't sure I was going to throw up until I got up to go to the bathroom and smelled the chicken carcass in the crockpot converting into stock. That did it. And once morning arrived, I called in sick to work. On Saturdays and Sundays, it's just the museum worker and the librarian, and for safety reasons we can't open without two workers, making it difficult to call in sick. But Fridays, thank goodness, our manager is working as well, so while I could have dragged myself in to shed viruses all over our visitors, I stayed home instead and made up for some of the sleep I missed last night.

Not my first choice of ways to get a day off, but at least it was a relaxing one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

to everyone in the US.

I am full of pie and happy to be home with my wonderful family. I hope everyone has had a day equally as good. And now for a little Thanksgiving entertainment:

Alec at five months

If I had to choose a word to describe this age, it would be "handsy." The desire to explore and manipulate objects has intersected with new manual dexterity to create a baby from whom nothing within arms' reach is safe. He pulls down the toys dangling over his bouncy seat until he can cram them in his mouth and pulls the toys on his play arch down from their hooks. Then he examines them with thorough scientific interest before cramming them firmly in his mouth.

His gross motor skills are slowly but surely coming along. He can roll over, but he doesn't like it much. But he still manages to wiggle around quite a lot. He can sit for short periods when propped from behind by a Boppy, and I suspect he's about a month from sitting on his own.

If I could use two words, the other one would be "wet." The drool, it threatens to submerge the house. The fountains of spitup are slowly but surely drying up, but it doesn't matter because we still have to change his shirts two or three times a day. One wickedly sharp tooth has poked through, and another is gouging its way up, bringing on a waterfall of saliva. We're waiting on solids until six months, but this morning B noticed that Alec was watching him very intently as he ate. He may well decide that he's ready for real food before we do. He has that spiffy new tooth to try out, after all.

All in all, he's a big, happy baby bursting with vitality. I wouldn't necessarily call him a mellow baby, since he has quite the high pitched shriek available when life is less than optimal, but he's a very happy baby. And we're very happy to have him.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I am trying very hard not to be sulky and despondent over the fact that we can't go home for Christmas this year. We thought B had two (2) vacation days and that we could scrabble around for two more, but instead he has zero (0). Once January comes around, he'll have all of his vacation for the year available to him so we can go then, but it's not the same.

I keep trying to force some perspective by remembering that I grew up 1000 miles away from my relatives and we basically never spent Thanksgiving with relatives and only saw relatives at Christmas every other year at best, so it was often just the four of us. On the other hand, we were never in the position of leaving a widowed disabled elderly mother alone on Christmas by not travelling for the holiday.

Sigh. We'll survive, of course, and we'll figure out our own holiday traditions with our nuclear family. It's mostly that we're not terribly happy here, so not being able to leave is harder than it would be otherwise. And it really chafes that we wouldn't be having this problem if B had been allowed to use more than five days of sick time for paid paternity leave. And this is the point I think of the blowhard who was haranguing us at work a few weeks ago who claimed that city workers have more time off than they actually do working and want to punch him in the face all over again.*

For Thanksgiving, Thursday is the only day we actually both have off all weekend. I contemplated cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner with only two adults and a preschooler to eat it. Last year, I was far too sick to face raw poultry, so we went out and it was lovely. I ate about three bites, but that gave us just about as many leftovers as B wanted. And there were no dishes afterwards. So this year, I think we'll be going out for dinner, and cooking pies. K can have fun helping cook pies, and I don't mind lots of leftovers when it comes to pie. So pie. I also bought some pumpkin waffle mix at Trader Joe's, and bought a waffle iron to make them with, so we'll have a nice breakfast too. And pie.

*Wanted to punch him in the face, that is, not actually punched him in the face. I did, however, at that point politely as I possibly could ask him to shut his squawkhole. I had sat through the racism, and the brilliant ideas for solving the city's financial problems, but he was starting to tread on some very sore areas.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Right now, Alec is sitting on my lap, carefully manipulating my fingers to scientifically determine the best way to stick them in his mouth and chomp on them. He's like a very intellectual piranha. Only cuter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's not really in the spirit of NaBloPoMo to announce every night that I'm insanely tired and don't have the energy to write a real post, is it? I suppose not.

I am insanely tired. I had an extremely unproductive day at work, mostly because I was the level of tired where I knew I would spend the day making boneheaded mistakes that would make anything I did a wash. Instead, I showed my co-worker K's baby pictures. I bet you're really impressed with our work ethic now, aren't you?

And then I got home and helped make K a house out of a large box by cutting holes for windows and a door that opened and shut. K moved into it with Cattie the Cat and Boy the Pink French Poodle. Then she told me that special species of joke known as the Four-year-old's Knock Knock joke:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Na na.
Na na who?
Na na moo!
(cue hysterical laughter)

It doesn't happen as much as you might think, but sometimes you have exactly the sort of evening you imagined you would when you first thought about wanting children.


On the continuing Facebook games front, I have now earned nearly half a million dollars in Mafia Wars solely by not playing it at all. I log in periodically to send gifts back to people who send me gifts, and out of curiosity over how much cash I have now. I put all but 900 dollars in the bank last night, and currently I have $30,000. I'm also pretty close to going up another level. I would try to figure out how to really quit this game, but I'm so fascinated by how far I can go in the game just by getting attacked by other people that I can't turn away. I certainly never expected how much fun this game could be once I stopped playing.

Meanwhile, I tried Fishville and Cafe World yesterday. Eh. I played Fishville for a couple hours and spent it wondering when the game got interesting. Cafe World had more variety and challenge, but it has a rat on a treadmill aspect that I'm finding stressful. Games I play for fun shouldn't be stressful. I think I might try My Zoo next. Or maybe try doing something actually productive in the real world, but that's just crazy talk.

A lazy post


PB211949 PB211950





Saturday, November 21, 2009


I missed yesterday for no better reason than I got busy with children and chores and general tiredness. And today, I'm tired and grumpy and feeling overwhelmed by the tidal wave of crap that washes over our house constantly. So no real post tonight either.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glee night is the happiest night of the week

A Wednesday evening motley:

* I'm not often given to bragging about great shopping finds. But I have to share the incredible Ebay score I made last week: a Best Ever Baby Jacket, two bodysuits, a pair of pants and a pair of baby shoes, all Hanna Andersson, for $30. I would have been happy just to get the jacket for $30, even used. I love Hanna Andersson clothes - they're adorable and have good gender-neutral options, they wear like iron and are designed to fit for a long time. K was able to wear a size 70 bodysuit for two winters, which is remarkable for a child under two. The only problem is that when they go on sale, they're only twice as much as I can afford (and they often sell for a lot on Ebay, so you can't even count on that). I splurged one year and got K a Best Ever jacket new on sale, and it actually turned out to be worth it because she wore it for two winters and it still fits well enough to wear now until I can sew her new winter coat. It breaks my heart that they don't make them larger than size 90, or I would just buy her a new one.

* Sonya has a bald patch around her neck from her collar, and I was scritching her this week when I saw a flea marching across it. Ack! And once I saw that, I realized that all of the cats were scratching.

All of the cats have had a dose of flea medicine, and this weekend will see the great Linen Cleaning of aught nine. All of the beds need to be stripped and laundered in hot water. I'm not sure what we're going to do with the stuffed animals. Then the carpet cleaning will start. And throughout it all, I will resist the urge to give myself a flea dip, because every time I see the cats I start to itch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's odd, the things you learn about yourself by playing Facebook games. Right around the time Alec was born, a couple friends were sending me blandishments to join their various games. I ignored them all because I needed a new time suck like a suppurating gut wound (well, actually I had one of those already, and I can say I really didn't need it) and sadly, I didn't have the brain power.

But recently, I got another invitation, sat on it for a couple days, and on a whim starting playing Mafia Wars. I went along for a while, doing jobs and working my way up the ladder. And then, I started getting attacked by other players. It was never a big deal, although occasionally I would losing a huge amount of money just as I was trying to earn enough for something. But I also gained money that way, so it evened out. I tried putting most of my points into defense and offense for a while and continuing with the game.

But here's the thing: I would make my husband a happy man indeed if I liked playing games more. The reason I don't isn't so much that I'm a sore loser (well, I am a bit, but as long as I don't get absolutely skunked, I'm usually okay with losing), but I hate getting attacked or having people working against me. I take it personally, even when it couldn't be more impersonal, like random Facebook strangers.

After a few days of this, I decided that there's nothing I like that's inherent in Mafia Wars that I couldn't get in other games and quite a few things I didn't like, so I sold off everything that cost money to maintain, banked most of my money and went off to Farmville, where everyone is nice to each other.

The interesting part is that since I'm still technically a player in Mafia Wars, I'm still getting attacked, which means that I'll periodically log back in to discover that I've earned money and experience without doing anything. I left my account with about $10,000; my high was $150,000 and currently there's about $60,000. Recently, Facebook helpfully informed me that I had lost $272,000 in one day. I'm awfully busy for someone who isn't doing anything.

It's occurred to me that I might like playing games with B more if we played something cooperative. That would certainly thrill him. Meanwhile, I'm happily harvesting away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Speaking of difficult conversations

Last night, I was driving home with K and saw a black and white cat running under a car. I pulled over and went to look, to discover it wasn't Olwen. But then I had to explain to K what I was doing and why. She seemed to understand, but she's asked about it several times since then, trying to process it. I'm not sure how well she remembers Olwen, since tonight she came into the living room when all three cats were in it and said, "There's the cat!" So I explained again it was a different cat and we went on with our evening, but it's clear this is a disturbing concept for her.

On the cute side, after never really caring about naming her stuffed animals, K has suddenly decided they all need names. So far we have Blackie, the brown and white horse, Boy, the pink french poodle and Clifford the Big Yellow Lab. We also have Clifford the Big Red Dog, so I'm not sure how we're supposed to tell them apart.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Social connections

I haven't had time to sit down with the camera yet, so no pictures. The baptism went off far better than we deserved, given that I had to wake Alec up ten minutes into a nap to change him into his gown during the sermon. He was good as gold and smiled beatifically at everyone. He really is the most extraordinarily social child. Well, extraordinarily social for a child of mine.

I joined the church as well. I'm glad to finally get my membership transferred from a church in Indiana that I haven't attended in three years, and I really feel connected to this church. In most of the churches I've attended, I've done all right the first couple weeks when we're new, but once people get used to us and stop paying attention, I never quite know how to make that further connection. But here, I manage to find people to talk to every week and feel like it won't take much time at all to actually make real friends. We made a great connection with the minister last week when she came to our house to discuss the baptism. We talked about that for 15 minutes and about everything else for an hour and a half (with periodic "Okay, now we should really talk about the baptism now..."). It was a good sign when she looked at our book shelves and asked "So who's the Dorothy Sayers fan?" That would be both of us, although I came to her earlier thanks to my mother (and I discovered looking at the shelves that I have three copies of Gaudy Night for no reason I can think of. I mean, I love the book, but not so much that I feel the need to have three copies open at once for serial reading). As it turns out, we have a lot of authors in common.

My uncle came out from Connecticut and my mother and her aide got here Thursday night and are leaving tomorrow morning. I wish my mother could stay longer, but she has to consider her aide's schedule as well. It was good to see them, and I'm looking forward to seeing them at Christmas. After some initial panic, it's starting to look like it will work to go home for Christmas, which makes me very glad.

A very full day

It's been a long, long day with lots of family, so this is it for the day. Baptism tomorrow, and hopefully pictures.

We're watching The Opposite of Sex for the first time in several years. I had forgotten just how incredibly eeeevil Dedee is.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Difficult questions

"Grammie can't walk."

"No, she can't. That's why she uses a wheelchair."

"Oh. Really?"

"Yes. And her hands don't work very well either, which is why she has Lisa to take care of her."

"Oh." Pause for thought. "Lisa made me eggs."


I've been wondering for a long time how old K would be when she would start to see that my mother is different from her other grandmother, and different from most people. I guess the answer is four. We had the above conversation yesterday when I was telling her that my mother and her aide were arriving today. Several months ago, she drew a picture of my mother and included her wheelchair, but I wasn't sure if she realized what the wheelchair meant or if it was just something she saw as part of my mother.

We haven't gotten to why Grammie can't walk yet, and I'm not inclined to offer the information until she asks, hopefully not for a couple years. I'm not eager to introduce the idea that driving in a car can be very dangerous and leave you permanently injured. At her age, it could completely roll across her back, like when she asked what a building was today and I said, "It's a funeral home," which she shrugged off without a thought. Or it could result in terror of the car until she's old enough to be able to put fears and dangers in more perspective.

Was I ready for the conversation about what a funeral home is for? Kind of. I've actually been trying to introduce death a little bit, though I'm not going to push it until she starts asking questions on her own. But another thing I've been waiting for is when she starts asking why she has one grandfather she can spend time with and another that she only sees in pictures. When we look at pictures, I always point my father out to her and tell her who he is, but while she knows him, she hasn't asked yet about where he is.

I know a lot of parents get nervous about the idea of the sex talk, but it never bothered me. I brought a couple books home when I got pregnant, and have used diaper changes as an opportunity for basic anatomy lessons. Right now, it's just anatomy. It's definitely nothing compared to some of the conversations I know we'll be having over the next few years about some of the other facts of life, and death.

Ma vie en rose

This started out as a comment on someone else's post on boys and gender issues, but it's getting long enough that I'm making it a post instead.

I've found the gender issues for both of my children have been remarkably interrelated, which shouldn't be surprising since gender politics are interrelated. With Alec, I've confronted new issues that I haven't before with K, because it's more accepted for girls to transcend gender barriers. This, of course, is because boy stuff = good and girl stuff = bad, so it's more accepted for girls to do boy stuff than it is for boys to do girl stuff.

At the tender age of four months, the biggest area this has come up for with Alec is with clothing. When I was pregnant, K wanted to buy Baby Brother an outfit every time we passed baby clothes, and I was often happy to oblige. But I found myself steering her away from the frilly dresses she was attracted to, once biting down the words "Boys don't wear dresses" right before they came out of my mouth. Part of my motivation with this was that we already had plenty of baby girl clothes, so if I was going to spend money, I'd rather do it on more boy-oriented stuff. But the other part was the same thing that made me initially set aside the hand-me-down baby clothes from K that were pink or had flowers. It wasn't even so much my not wanting to see my son in pink as I was afraid of having to defend putting him in pink when we were out in public.

However, one night I was looking at a pink flowered nightgown that was of the type I liked best (snaps up the front), and decided that 1) it was stupid not to use perfectly good clothes because society has arbitrarily decided they're not for girls, 2) why do I care what random strangers think about how I dress my children, and 3), if I'm willing to buy dinosaurs for K, I should be willing to put Alec in pink. So now I do. I haven't put him in any dresses and I don't think I will, but so far the adorable pink sleeper with the bunny on it has failed to cause his penis to fall off. I'm still a little shy of putting him in anything too girly to go out, mostly because I'm pathologically conflict-averse and just don't want to deal with nose old ladies with rigid gender expectations.

This Sunday, Alec will be wearing the christening gown my grandfather wore in 1906. In fact, he wore dresses until he was three years old. I suspect he also wore pink since it was considered a boy's color in those days. He was still manly enough to father two children.

As Alec gets older, there will certainly be more clothes issues - would I let him wear a dress in public? Will I let him have long hair (given that his father has long hair, almost certainly). The issue again will not be as much what I'm comfortable with as trying to negotiate his desires with what the rest of the world thinks. The nosy old ladies will turn into his peers, and I'll have to decide how to help him balance expressing his true self with peer acceptance. But that will be true whether he wants to wear a dress or not.

But I'll also butt up against things that are more my issues, that I'm already dealing with K - as a feminist, what sort of toys do I allow my children to play with? And as usual, it's the girl toys that come up suspect. Out of the entire world of boy toys, military toys are the only ones that give me pause, and I haven't come to a real decision about that. But with girl toys, there are tons of things that bother me. Cooking and housework toys are fine, since I don't even considered those gendered toys as every adult needs to know how to feed themselves and keep up basic household hygiene. Baby doll play is about nurturing, which again I consider applicable to both sexes. Dollhouses are a miniature version of household play. All fine for both of my children.

But then we get to princesses, which I've already discussed. And Barbie. I'm more leery but consider both of those more or less inocuous if we approach them the right way. But then there's hair dressing toys, or play makeup kits, or fashion design software.

There are age issues with those things as well, but I don't want to get into that here. Let's say right now they're being considered for a hypothetical ten-year-old, and the makeup won't be worn in public.

When I ask myself, why is it okay for my child to pretend to cook or take care of babies the way she will when she's an adult, but not pretend to style hair or put together pretty outfits the way she will when she's an adult, the only answer I can come up with is that unlike housework or child care, those are things women do that haven't become acceptable for heteresexual men to do as well. Women are judged by how they look in a way that men just aren't, and knowing how to put yourself together well is an important skill for a woman who wants to be professionally successful. I often wish I had had more opportuntities to learn that sort of thing when I was younger. But because this is something that only women do, it's of course seen as superficial and worthless. But just try climbing the corporate ladder with no makeup on. So I wouldn't buy any of those things for my preschool daughter, but when she's older, well, why not? Do they truly have inherently less social worth than playing paintball? And if my son shows interest in these things, I can't in fairness deny then to him any more than I would refuse to buy my daughter a skateboard.

It's astonishing how far down the internalized sexism goes when you start interrogating it. And no wonder this got too long for just a comment. I just keep trying to remind myself the conclusion I came to when I started wondering why I didn't want to buy K pink: the only thing wrong with the color pink (besides not especially complimenting her complexion) is that it's the code color for girl that everything meant for girls is required to be coated in. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, therefore there's nothing wrong with pink as long as it's balanced with all of the other colors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have any number of things I would like to write about, from the excellent meeting we had with our minister today to my new parenting plan to my conflicted feelings about how Glee is handling disability. But instead, we've had two horrible nights of no sleep. I'm not sure which was worse - the night when both children were awake for three hours or last night when Alec slept perhaps two hours between 2 and 8 am. He's in the middle of the 19 week developmental spurt AND cutting his first tooth, so I suppose we should be grateful he sleeps at all. I'm working on three hours of sleep here, so I'm not even going to try to string words together in a functional way. Instead I shall go collapse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Last week, K and I went to the fabric store to choose a fabric for a new winter coat I'm going to sew her. K initially said she wanted a puppy coat (a coat with puppies on it, I'm assuming, not a coat made out of puppies a la Cruella Deville), but when we found a princess print, she was instantly sold. Two yards, on sale, done and done.

However, in the intervening time it's taken for the pattern to arrive, she has been carrying the fabric around the house, sleeping with it and wrapping her stuffed animals up in it. And now she is absolutely refusing to turn it over to me to be turned into a coat.

It's actually about the right size to put on her bed as a blanket (although that would involve her not dragging it around the house), and for ten dollars, I can afford to let her use it as a security blanket and just go get some more fabric for a coat. But the question now is, do I get more princess fabric? Or go for a puppy coat? Or I could get a dinosaur print. What I'm sure of is that I'm not going to let K pick it, unless I want her to spend all winter roasting under an ever-growing pile of fleece blankets while simulataneously freezing from a lack of a coat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Long week

It's going to be a long, strange week. Both and K are going to be home on Wednesday because of Veteran's Day (after being off for the election last week and Columbus Day two weeks before that. Because apparently people on the East Coast don't believe in sending their children to school in the fall. I think I can count on one hand the number of full weeks of school K has had so far. Yeesh). The plan is to use that day to clean, because my mother and brother (and , who is taking the opportunity to come see her sister as well) are coming to town for Alec's baptism this weekend.

My aunt and uncle are considering coming out from Connecticut as well. My mother has found the antique family christening dress. Somehow, this baptism is turning into a Production, which isn't like us. I mean, my mother is coming out for the baptism, but also because it's a good excuse to see her grandchildren. My brother is coming because it's a good opportunity to hitch a ride to come see us. My aunt and uncle are coming to see my mother and meet the baby. And yet there are going to be five guests from three different states in the pew on Sunday morning, which makes this baptism feel like a much bigger deal than we're inclined to make it. It shouldn't be a surprise at this point for me to say that the idea of conspicuousness makes me squirm, should it? Of course, if that's the case I shouldn't arrange events where I have to stand up on my hind feet in front of an entire congregation and say things. But there are many worse things in the world than having enough relatives willing to travel to visit you that you'll make a small crowd at church. It should be a fun weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.

So of course, this is the PERFECT time for and I to get sick. He has a lousy cold, I have something a bit more ineffable, involving lots of pressure in my sinuses and ears, a coy little cough, lots of fatigue and an entertaining dizziness when I stand up, but no nose drippiness (yet). The only thing that would make this better would be for Alec to get the cold and then wake up Sunday morning screaming from an ear infection. However, we're both still functioning and the kids aren't sick yet. With luck, we'll both be better in enough time to clean the house.

And it's not the flu. We continue to avoid the flu, and I am most grateful for that.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


* We have a cloth book that crackles and has rubbery bits attached that Alec just loves. He sits and flips through the pages, waves it around, then crams it in his mouth. The only problem is that after about ten minutes, he starts to get overstimulated, but he can't figure out how to just let go of it. So he sits and cries, the book clutched in his hand, crackling away. I usually have to go pick him up and forcibly pry it out of his hand and comfort him. Poor little overstimulated brain. In case you were wondering, babies aren't very smart.

* I am feeling Very Clever at the moment. One thing I really dislike about our house is the lack of closet space. Currently, all of my hanging clothes are in the closet in Alec's room because he certainly doesn't have any clothes that need to hang. But it's inconvenient and annoying to have to go to a different room to get dressed for work, so I started thinking a small wardrobe would be just the thing. The rub there is that even a cheap one from Ikea is more than I'm willing to spend, particularly for something that would wind up being particle board.

So instead, I decided to make my own wardrobe. I bought a Gorm shelving unit, with only the top and bottom shelf. The I got an Antonius clothes rail and screwed it to the underside of the top shelf. Et voila, the $25 wardrobe, and it's even real wood. It works perfectly to hold the clothes I use the most and is small enough to fit easily in a corner of our bedroom. At some point when I'm feeling ambitious, I'll probably paint it and make a curtain, but right now it's fine just the way it is.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not the best way to convince me

"I want to go the bookstore."

"No, we should go home. You're getting cranky."



I spent the evening doing this and that - going to BJ's to replenish our frozen foods (to replace what I bought just two weeks ago, including $15 of organic chicken *sob*), searching high and low for the baby undershirts I bought for K to wear under her bodysuits to prevent me from having to turn up the thermostat and her from turning into a babysicle so we can now keep Alec from turning into a side of frozen baby, making a fruitless trip to Target to try to buy baby undershirts only to find that they don't have any smaller than 2T (am I really the only person who doesn't want to put a short sleeve bodysuit under a long sleeve bodysuit to prevent having to spend all day snapping? Or do other people profligately heat their houses so they're actually warm? ) and finally finding the undershirts.

And then it was after midnight and I had missed a day of NaBloPoMo for colossally dull and trivial reasons, and then tried to make up for it with a tremendous, barely understandable run-on sentence. Well, I haven't been to bed yet, so I suppose I can say it's technically still Friday. And I'm not being graded on this, thank goodness.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The miracle of refrigeration

We went out yesterday morning* and accomplished buying a new refrigerator in very little time. It wasn't that hard - we got the cheapest one Sears had that was large enough to accommodate a decent amount of food and also had a freezer. That didn't require much looking. We were lucky enough to have hit upon a 20 percent off sale, so we have a slightly better cheap refrigerator than we would have otherwise, but it's your basic Kenmore low end model.

However, now that it's sitting in our kitchen, it's gorgeous. It's so clean, and it has functioning shelves and drawers that don't fall out when you pull them just slightly too hard. There's a shelf in the freezer, which is the sort of thing you don't think about needing until you don't have it. And of course, it cools and freezes when it should cool and freeze.

We went out tonight and spent less than I thought we might to fill it with grocery basics. Even so, it feels very empty. A broken refrigerator has the same sort of cleansing effect as a fire or catastrophic pipe bursting. It forces you to get rid of all of the suspect things that had been hanging around the back, not quite spoiled but not appealing enough to eat, and the hopelessly freezer-burned food at the back of the freezer that had been hiding under the food that gets eaten often enough to get regularly rotated.

*Requiring that I cancel a dentist appointment, since we wouldn't have any time to do it otherwise until tomorrow, and that seemed like a long time to go without the ability to refrigerate breastmilk. This is par for the course, since I seem to have contracted some sort of dental curse since moving here that prevents me from going to the dentist.

I had my first dentist appointment since 2006 last week. And it's not like I was being negligent and avoiding the dentist for three years. I have no real excuses for 2007, except that we moved to a new city and my father died, and there's nothing like the knowledge that you need non-urgent dental work to make a trip to the dentist seem less than appealing. But we finally got it together enough to make an appointment in May 2008. And that week, we all woke up with pinkeye. It took a little while to reschedule, and by the time that appointment came around, I was pregnant and throwing up every time I brushed my teeth. So I rescheduled for the second trimester, since surely I wouldn't be throwing up by that point. And then I woke up that morning with stomach flu. At that point, I threw up my hands and made an appointment for when I wasn't pregnant any more... which then got rescheduled by the dentist's office. That appointment was last week, and I was very very late to it because I had to take K to the doctor. But at that point, I was going to fight my way through all the minions of Hell if it meant not having to reschedule again.

Miraculously, despite it being three years and my having terrible teeth, I only had one cavity. They agreed with previous dentists that I could use a couple more crowns, but they didn't seem at all in a hurry to schedule. So I scheduled an appointment for this week to fill the cavity and the dance begins again. So far, I have a message on my answering machine from the dentist moving my (rescheduled) appointment up ten minutes. We shall see how much more that moves by the time this ends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stockholm syndrome

I suppose it shouldn't come as too much as a surprise, given that I owned several Muppet movies and albums long before I had children, but today I found myself switching to a cd of Backyardigans in the car when the radio got too depressing. And there were no children in the car.

What can I say? A great deal of it was because that was what was in the cd player and I didn't feel like going through the contortions of getting a different disc. But part of it is that, um, I actually like the music. I can guarantee that if the disc had been that wretched Sesame Street album where Elmo sings the Macarena, I would have gladly listened to all six hours of Shoah first. But the Backyardigans use a large variety of musical styles and the lyrics are genuinely clever and funny. I can't say I like the show enough to watch it on my own the way I do the Muppets, but I'm always happy when K wants to watch it because it's cute and funny and while they may periodically learn Valuable Lessons, it's generally free of the painfully obvious morality plays that plagues much of chldren's television programming.

Having watched quite a variety of children's programming in the past couple years, I've found there are two main kinds. The first is the painfully earnest sort that is aimed at children and only at children, which consists of the things that the writers think children find interesting. They're the ones that hold children in unholy thrall while their parents fantasize about opening a vein to get sweet relief. This includes things like Barney, Caillou, Ni Hao Kai Lan (speaking of excruciating morality plays) and Dragon Tales. Dora. Diego. The list goes on and on.

On the other end of the spectrum is shows that while they're intended for children and usually take pains to be developmentally appropriate, the writers are clearly writing the things they find interesting and funny. This is what made the Muppets brilliant, as well as Sesame Street (this is still the case, except for Elmo's World, which careens right back into category 1). These are the shows where you realize you don't mind so much if you get the songs stuck in your head. This is sadly a much shorter list.

Somewhere in the middle is a lot of shows that you find yourself enjoying a little despite yourself, because they're clearly not meant for you, but they're a little funny and the writing is decent. Blue Clues and Wonder Pets fall here (I'm always kind of conflicted about Wonder Pets. The music worms its repetitive way into your head and burrows there like a Ceti eel and a lot of the plot points can be spotted a mile off, but there's a demented sort of humor running underneath and Ming Ming is amusingly snarky for a duckling with an annoying speech impediment).

And then of course there are the shows where the writers have clearly done too many drugs, like Yo Gabba Gabba and Wow Wow Wubbzy. Watching them is kind of like having a fever dream and makes them impossible to categorize, since adults tend to either love or hate them.

A corollary to this is music groups: just like it's not hard to tell the difference between writers writing things they think children will like and writing things that they like, there is a painful difference between a band consisting of people who came together out of a genuine passion for writing and performing music for children, and people cast by executives out to make a buck in the lucrative children's music field. I think of this every time I look into despairing eyes of the Fresh Beat Band attempting to act like it's cool and fun to sing about bananas (why do I allow this on my television? Nick sticks it in front of their On Demand programs and I'm not always alert enough to fast forward).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shouldn't you catch it?

Yesterday, our refrigerator started making a worrying hum, all the more worrying since Spiderman villain Hum Dinger was nowhere in the vicinity. And today, I opened it up and realized that despite the fact that I could hear the motor, I couldn't feel any cold air. Up in the freezer, none of our blue ice had frozen and things were steadily defrosting. Ack. Our refrigerator had stopped running.

Normally, this would be where renting would come in handy, but while I normally like our landlord, one of his drawbacks is that he doesn't provide a refrigerator. It's worth it because we're living in a very nice neighborhood for a lot less than you would expect, but our current refrigerator is the one that the previous tenants left behind. It's, er, not exactly a huge shock as to why. It's ancient, has a tiny freezer, is missing several shelves, and generally gives the air of an appliance ready to float down the River Styx at a moment's notice. And lo! It's gone on its final journey.

The problem with refrigerators is that it's one of the only appliances you can't live without for any amount of time. If the stove broke, we could use the microwave. If the washer or dryer broke, we could go to a laundromat and use the clothesline, or even use the bathtub. Heck, even if the furnace went out we could shiver in front of a space heater for a couple days. But nothing will refrigerate food except, well, a refrigerator. And as much as I hate to lose an entire refrigerator and freezer full of food (really hate, since I just made a trip to BJ's last week to fill the freezer), it's the breastmilk I'm producing that makes it vital to have refrigeration. And, of course, I've finally just reached a point where I've pulled ahead a bit of demand and have a bit of a surplus.

Sigh. When we started hearing the hum yesterday, we started responding to listings on Craigslist. But none of the leads have panned out, so I think tomorrow morning we're just going to have to suck it up and go to Sears, who is at least offering free delivery and will haul away the wretched husk of our old refrigerator. This wasn't what I wanted to spend money on right before Christmas, but we can more or less afford it. And I have to admit, I will look forward to a refrigerator that doesn't have an empty pizza box replacing one of the shelves.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alec at four months


Guess who's teething?

Our gigantic baby, that's who. He was 26 inches and 17 pounds, 3 ounces at his well baby visit today. I expect our health insurance to cancel his coverage any minute now. He's in the 90th percentile for height, weight and head circumference, making him a very well-proportioned baby. And you can really see it - he has a decent amount of chub, but he's not at all fat, just big. He's firmly into 9 month clothes now that all of his wrists and ankles are sticking out of 6 month clothes and we can't snap any of them under his crotch without endangering our future grandchildren.

In physical developments, he has started rolling over. And like magic, the boy who never wanted to play on the floor is suddenly thrilled to be under his activity arch. He's even happy to be on his stomach for quite a while. He isn't making any forward movement when he squirms around on the floor, but he will often wind up 90 or 180 degrees away from where he started by rolling around. He's become much more interested in holding and examining objects, and he frequently becomes frustrated when he's under his activity arch because he can't hold the dangling toys and hold them the way he wants to.

Socially, he's the most incredible flirt. It's not just that he will smile at anyone who looks at or talks to him. He will also deliberately catch the eye of people passing him and give them a coy, come-hither smile.

He has started laughing, in response to being tickled, to many of the things K does, and to being sung nonsense. Honestly, I'm not sure why I bother to remember lyrics to songs when the thing he finds most hysterical is my chanting:

A dee-dee-dee,
A dee-dee-dee,
A dee-dee-dee-dee dee-dee-dee!
[vigorously move baby's arms about in various semaphore positions]

Not exactly poetry for the ages. But who could resist making this face smile?


Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaBloPoMo day 1

After failing NaBloPoMo spectacularly last year, I'm trying again to try and get back into more regular posting mode. So here goes:

I drove off to work yesterday with our virgin pumpkins in the back of the car, so sadly, B's Halloween afternoon activity of pumpkin carving with K was cancelled. But despite the early fly in the ointment, Halloween went off pretty well. After I got home, we dressed the children and took them back to my museum with a cute dinosaur:


and a princess (who was torn between dinosaur and princess until the costume was purchased)(and yes, that's a Disney princess dress on the child who has an entire trunk full of handmade princess dresses. But small children don't quite understand the frugal principle of wearing something you already own for Halloween instead of getting a new costume, and she certainly wears those dresses enough that we'll get our money's worth out of this one too):

After Halloween2

Since we're a big mansion that can look spooky in the dark, we decorate for Halloween every year and open up for the local trick or treaters. K and Alec were met with gratifying acclaim by my co-workers and the (female, middle-aged) volunteers. Then we went back home and B took K out around the neighborhood while I answered the door.

They came back when K's bucket was full and she kept giving it to B to carry between houses. They had only covered a quarter of our street, which brings home to me how much more dense this neighborhood is than the typical suburban subdivision I grew up in. All of the houses on our block are duplexes, and are long and narrow, so the narrowest side of the house faces the street. That makes for a lot of houses packed onto a street.

The trick or treating had pretty much ended for the night by 8, in time for the baseball game to start, and we poured our tired, sugared up princess into bed for the night.