Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So if I'm going to go this long without posting, I shouldn't do it after writing all about my terrible parenting moments, should I? We're all still alive and unscathed, I swear.

We had a busy, social weekend. Our barony had a small, mellow event on Saturday, with no site fee and a potluck for feast. It was remarkably similar to a church picnic, except with heavy fighting and hobby horse races instead of volleyball. We went and hung out, and enjoyed the fact that with all of the other children there, we barely had to pay attention to ours. There were several older kids happy to carry Alec around as much as he would tolerate. I got more knitting done than I have in the past six months. K won a prize for coming in first among the little kids in the hobby horse races. A good time was had by all.

I'm rather proud of the fact that I started working on the childrens' garb a whole TWO nights before the event, which is a model of early preparedness by the standards of these things (in my years of SCA and cosplay, I've discovered the great uniting factor is that it isn't the night before a convention/event if you aren't frantically sewing). And I managed to do it without spending any money. I pulled out an old SCA peasant blouse I didn't like and cut it down into a dress for K, and Alec got a tunic that started life as a pillowcase. Someone at the event gave us some baby garb too, so he's pretty well set for a while.

Then last night, we went and hung out at the baron and baroness's house for the evening. We were theoretically there to play music, but somehow never got around to it and wound up watching Big Bang Theory and Iron Chef America while discussing all of the tv shows and books we have in common instead, as the children chased each other around shrieking. We haven't had an evening like that since pretty much since we left Indiana, and it felt really good.

If things continue going this way in our social life, I suspect my goal of getting back to the Midwest will be revised to simply getting the hell out of the city.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Well, the anniversary party at work yesterday went off fine. I had to take two overtired children with me because B was working (K was up late the night before, Alec had only napped for half an hour that morning), but they did surprisingly well until the inevitable meltdown, which K was kind enough to hold off until 3, when the party ended.

Working while taking care of small children wasn't too bad. It worked mostly because we have a new library science student volunteering, so I sat behind the desk holding Alec and told her what to do while she did all of the physical work that I couldn't do one-handed. Still, I have to assume that the tiredness and distraction was what led to my two most stellar parenting moments of the day:

1. I finally figured out how to adjust the labyrinth of straps on the baby carrier I bought a while ago and had quite a bit of success using it to wear Alec on my back. However, I had not anticipated that his habit of leaning way over to the side when walking onto the elevator, resulting in an unfortunate head-bonking incident. And I may or may not have knocked it a bit more trying to take him off my back so I could comfort him. All with a large audience, of course. Sigh. Sometimes you go out in public and feel like the very model of ideal parenting. And then most of the time you find yourself worried people are about two minutes away from calling CPS.

2. I took some of the balloons we had for party decorations for K when we left, since what else were we going to do with them? And I put Alec on my back, put K in the stroller because she was in no shape to walk, and very carefully watching our clearances, got on the elevator and left to go to the car. We got to the car. I shoved our bags and the balloons in. I worked on getting Alec off of my back without dropping him on his head. Then I realized how hot it was in the car and opened all of the doors to let it cool off.

I didn't realize what I had done until I had everyone finally in the car and strapped in and K asked, "Where are my balloons?" Oh shit. Cue heartbroken wailing from an already overwrought child. And I just could not contemplate getting everyone back out to go back in. But as I was driving past the museum, I realized there were balloons on the outside, so I stopped the car, hopped out and stole those suckers.

As I was walking back to the car with the balloons, a man approached me and I braced myself for being yelled at either for taking balloons or leaving my children in the car within my sight with the windows down and the engine off for a whole minute. But he actually just had a question about the museum. So I guess I'm safe from CPS for another day despite my best efforts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Behold my complete lack of focus tonight

We're having a party for our 100th anniversary at work this weekend. It should be quite the shindig - live music, refreshments and a velocipede. After all, no party is complete without a velocipede, is it?

Mind you, we wanted a barbershop quartet, and a clown who could do face painting and balloon animals. But our Friends have recently gone from merely refusing to pay for anything over $25 that they haven't approved to not even paying for the things they had voted to pay for. After they were already purchased, natch. So it was a no-go on the barbershop quartet, and the clown, and the only reason we have the velocipede is that we got an outside donation for half of the money and we're paying the other half out of petty cash. It's a shame - for $500 we could have something really kickass and the Friends could easily have made the money back from refreshment sales and other fundraising at the event. But they've worked themselves into a state of cranky paralysis where they can't agree on anything long enough to do anything useful. There have been a number of times recently (most recently when someone who's been in the group for years and has known me for over 2 years had to ask me my name, and then asked me to explain the work I was doing as if it never occurred to her that the books don't magically appear on the shelves courtesy of the paraprofessional fairies) that I have pondered how much of a factor dementia is in our dealings with some of most difficult members.

But! It should still be a great party. I got to go into the books from the original collection that are in storage to make a display. As it turns out, there are many, many Victorian novels that have remained in well-deserved obscurity for very good reason. For every Vanity Fair, there are 20 of things like "Erma's Engagement."

I also went through the circulating collection and was able to pull out a number of hundred year old books to put into a display that we'll actually let people touch, along with the 1913 Encyclopedia Britannica. And most exciting, we got a big donation last Friday that included some fantastic old children's books. There were some hundred year old school books, and two of the original Bobbsey Twins books from 1904, the original ones where they were 4 and 8 and didn't solve mysteries. So right next to the original library ledger, we'll have some gorgeous old children's books for people to look at too.

We're going to have people in costume and we blew up a couple pictures of people in Victorian outfits and cut out their faces so people can have their pictures taken. It will still be kickass, just working around the Friends.


I think there is a special circle of Parenting Hell where you find yourself humming the electronic music played by your childrens' toys.


You know, one of the things I've liked most about Glee is how well they've done the disabled characters for the most part. They're real people, who don't either unrealistically ignore their disabilities or sit around all day meditating on their tragic lives. They live their lives and their disabilities make life harder to greater or lesser degrees, but mostly they get along with what they have as if they were actually real people or something, not just disabilities.

Which is why it's all the more irritating to see them trot out a quadriplegic to be both pitied and inspirational in this week's episode. It's like we suddenly walked into an episode of Seventh Heaven. I know, he talked about all the things he found in his life that he could do without being able to move, but he was still mostly a disability lying in a bed, there for our Inspiration. This is the same version of disability we've seen ad nauseum on tv, where the disabled person pops up to teach an Important Lesson, because of course the purpose of the disabled is to 1) inspire us all with their saintly suffering, and 2) allow us normal people to prove how great we can be by treating the defective just like they're normal. It's condescending and demeaning. Which is par for the course of how people with visible disabilities get treated in real life, but surely the benefit of scripted television is the writers have time to stop and think before they trot out the thoughtless stupidity?

And I know this isn't a subtle show, but couldn't they have dialed it back a little and just hit us with a Message baseball bat, not two by four?

And for the record, it's really pretty common for people with spinal cord injuries to still have some movement and feeling below the level of their injury. It's called an incomplete injury, versus a complete, which involves severe injury to the spinal cord and results in the complete loss of movement and feeling that people seem to think is what comes along with paralysis. But the likelihood that someone would get hit hard enough to cause a complete injury in high school football? Pretty darn low, even given it was a freak accident. My mother is a C4, which is what the quadriplegic character was, and she has some use of her right hand and enough use of her legs to walk a bit with a walker and to stand enough to make it a lot easier to transfer her from her wheelchair. And from what I saw when she was in the rehab hospital, that's not that uncommon. She was luckier than many, but even the horrifying diving accidents often had at least a bit of hand movement, enough to drive a chair with their hands (and can I just say, after five months visiting a rehab hospital every day, I am never, ever, ever diving into any body of water ever again, no matter how clear it looks).


Since looking this over, this is kind of a complainy post, I will leave on an amusing quote.

From a recent episode of Phineas and Ferb, the main villain was listening to Tom Sawyer on tape, translated into Evil: "Tom's dislike of Aunt Polly was only rivaled by his hatred of puppies."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Alec slept for approximately fifteen minutes this evening, which then gave him a second wind that let him play for another two hours. He worked his way through the room, shrieking with happiness, like a tiny little drunk at closing time staggering around declaring his love for everyone.

We finally gave him a snack in case Mr.. Hollowleg Growth-Spurt was hungry again and he went back out very quickly after that. I'm glad he's out for the night, but I didn't really mind him being up late because my goodness, that is one cute child.


One of the nice things about joining SCA is that it plays into my existing hobbies so well, particularly sewing. It has, however, thrown a gigantic wrench in my sewing plans. I had been planning to make K a couple sundresses and at least one new princess dress in time for her birthday, and have been experimenting with converting t-shirts into rompers for Alec. I'm also trying a couple different ideas for carriers for Alec that won't break our backs in an effort to avoid spending the money on an Ergo.

Now, however, we're planning to go to a local event on May 22. Which means garb. Alec has none, and while K's cloak will be passable, pride will not allow me to let her go wearing any of her current decidedly non-period princess dresses. B has very rudimentary garb, but really needs something better. Most of my garb from college still fits, and once I stop breastfeeding, I think virtually all of it will. Not bad for thirteen years and two babies later.

So first priority, I think, is K. While she has some dresses that wouldn't get us kicked out of the event and Alec has nothing, he's also young enough that we could get away without putting him in anything at all, or I could go out and buy him a plain shirt a couple sizes too large and call it a tunic. But I really want K to be in something relatively authentic. I found some pretty embroidered pink cotton that would make a nice surcote, and it won't be hard to dig up some plain fabric for a gown to go underneath. For Alec, I would eventually like to knit him some hose, but for now, I'll make him a peasant shirt and put it over dark pants.

For B, I was looking at a long gown he wore several years ago for a cosplay sketch we did at Acen and realized that if I just cut it off at mid-thigh, it would make an acceptable tunic. Not hugely authentic, but good enough for less than three weeks' prep time. I would love to make myself something new, since I'm a much better seamstress than I was when I was making my garb ten years ago and none of it is stellar in its accuracy, but I'm pretty low on the priority list for the immediate future.

Well! I seem to have very effectively filled up the next couple months of crafting and then some. I foresee a lot of thread in my future. This should be fun.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


When I started college, it took me a while to find my groove socially. I spent most of my time with my suitemates, with whom I got along to greater or lesser degrees (sometime remind me to tell some of the tales of the woman who was forever after known to my friends as THE Amanda because she was so infamous). But who I was really looking for was the geeks. There wasn't a gaming or science fiction society on campus, so there didn't seem to be any ready-made groups for tracking down geeks. Aside for an incident of making a bit of a fool of myself trying to make friends with a likely-looking person and instead managing to give him the impression I was romantically interested (I wasn't), I went through my freshman year without really connecting.

Then my sophomore year, someone I had started to make friends with said she wanted to go to an SCA meeting. I had seen ads for their dance practices the previous year but didn't think much about them. But I thought this time that it sounded interesting, so I went along. And immediately it became clear that this was where the geeks were hiding. I had found My People. Anyone who knows anything about the SCA would immediately think "Duh," but remember, this was pre-Web days, and that sort of information wasn't as easy to come by. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I often wonder how different my freshman year would have been if I just gone to a dance practice. As it is. I met both my husband and my best friend through that SCA group, so I can't complain much.

Fast forward thirteen years, when we move to Philadelphia and abruptly leap from a very active social life to almost total social isolation. There I was, alone with a toddler all day for the first time in six months, completely alone in a new city. And then my father died! It was SUCH a happy time, I can't even tell you. Anyway, we looked at a lot of possibilities for meeting people, but the combination of weird work schedules and having a small child made everything seem impossible. Or we would do things like go to a gaming group, only to discover that they only played board games and actively looked down on roleplayers, the people we were actually looking for. I wanted to meet other parents, but didn't want to just sign up for a random playgroup because I really wanted to find someone I more things in common with than just children. I wanted to find geek parents.

In three years, things have improved but I certainly wouldn't call us social butterflies. More like social three-toed sloths, possibly with bad breath. And then, last Saturday, we went to a newcomer's event held by our local SCA. I think you can see where this is going, can't you? There they were. People with the same interests we have, who also have small children. K happily tore around with other kids while we sat and enjoyed geeky conversations, and got a possible in with a roleplaying group. Sunday, we went to a regularly-scheduled archery practice at the Baron and Baroness' house. They have an almost three-year-old and were delighted to find that B plays recorder and I sing. We're probably going to get together for dinner soon. From socially adrift to Bam! Instant social life, in two days.

We keep looking at each other and wondering why we didn't do this three years ago. There were a bunch of reasons - things like dancing and fencing were on nights we couldn't go, we weren't sure what to do with K because we didn't know if there would be other kids around, all of the activities were on the other side of the city, the newcomer events were always on days we couldn't go... And of course, the fact that my father died and I felt massively ill for most of my pregnancy did a lot to make it hard to put myself out there for large chunks of the past couple years. But last weekend, we could go, and a bunch of activities have moved closer to our side of the city, and we decided that we would go anyway even if we couldn't fence or dance. And I'm so glad we did.