Friday, July 30, 2010

July can suck it

So. I had a bizarre urge to look up my father's obituary tonight, and then realized the reason was that it's the third anniversary of his death. Four days ago on July 26th, I was talking to my mother and realized it was the eighth anniversary of her accident, which ironically was also the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both of my grandmothers died in July.

If it weren't for the fact that several people I love were born in July, I would happily abolish the month entirely. As it is, I'm happier than I can say that there's only one more day to go.
So I don't think I mentioned before that when I got sick, after the first couple days of fever and achiness, it morphed into a truly impressive hacking cough, the sort that would normally require a three pack a day habit for thirty years while working in a coal mine by day and asbestos removal at night. I lived with it for a few days, then decided when I realized that if I sat quietly I could hear my lungs crackling that perhaps I should take this one to the doctor. As it turns out, I have a lovely case of walking pneumonia. Groovy.

Pneumonia always sounds so drastic, doesn't it? Too many 19th century novels, no doubt. I suspect literature would have lost quite a lot if we could have tossed all of those tragic heroines a Z-pack 150 years ago. I mean, I've been functioning for the past two weeks. Not really well, but everyone's clean and well-fed, just not quite as well-nurtured by me instead of the tv as they might be. I will say that I don't feel so bad any more about my complete failure since we got home to live up to any of my ideals about providing lots of activities and an organized schedule. Now I feel accomplished for maintaining regular feedings and hygiene.

Anyway, after liberal applications of azithromycin, codeine and an inhaler, I'm starting to feel better. Which is good, because I started working my normal schedule at the online job this week. I'm slipping back into the old routine without much effort, although I'm actually hoping to improve on the old routine a bit. I had been in a bad habit of squandering my child-free time before and then being up late at night doing the actual work. I had high hopes of spending my first child-free day today doing just that, until I remembered that they had generously assigned us two more training exercises on top of our regular work, due today, so that's how my afternoon was spent and here I am, yet again, up obscenely late at night with another hour of work to go.

But let's ignore the obscenely late part of that last sentence and focus on the child-free! I managed to find a nice mother-daughter pair looking to start babysitting and willing to take both kids for a quite reasonable price. And they will happily pick K up from school once she starts, so the problem of what to do with her on Fridays when I'm working at the museum until 4 is resolved. I'm a little leery of the fact that they're just starting out and don't have any other kids, and just the fact that our record with home daycares and daycares found off of Craigslist is so very bad, but I'm so giddy with the idea of daycare again that I just don't care. As long as they last through the summer, that will be fine and I'll figure something else out. And if they do work out for the long haul, I'll be very happy, since I think right now, a home daycare is better for Alec. They're willing to do cloth diapers and to rock our finicky baby to sleep, so right now it's all good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh, I don't want to whine any more. But any description of the past week will wind up sounding like it. So let's just say that spending Tuesday and Wednesday:

-being sick
-taking care of two sick kids (thankfully, they shook it off very quickly)
-attempting to simultaneously do mandatory online training sessions for an hour and a half each day and keep said fractious children occupied while was at work
-doing homework every evening

wasn't my most fun two days ever and leave it at that. But I made it through training, with two sessions next week, thankfully on days B is home (well, since it's training for a job I've already done quite well for a year, it was more like Farmville time while listening in case something important got said), and passed the tests, so I anticipate I'll be starting work next week. Yay?


In happy news, we have a new stove! This is especially happy because unlike the refrigerator last fall, our landlord paid for this one. See, back in the Pleistocene, when the first owner of our old stove used it to cook up a nice greasy mammoth haunch and it dripped all over the bottom of the oven, they didn't bother to clean it up. And this set the pattern for every single disgusting person who has used it since. I could live with a discolored stove, and an oven that apparently used a dart board to decide what temperature it was going to heat to, but having to take the batteries out of every smoke detector on that floor every time we baked something was more than a tad annoying, not to mention flirting with fiery death.

The new stove is nice and shiny, although nothing fancy - it pretty much heats food using fire, without so much as a self-cleaning cycle or a timer. Someday when my ship comes in, I'll have an oven with a proof setting for bread dough.

I keep thinking there are more things I want to write about, but they keep vanishing once I open the computer, replaced by really boring things like how big the floor downstairs suddenly was once I got all of the toys off of it. I'll spare you any similar truly riveting insights.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I really meant for this week to be the week that I started posting more again. Instead I got a fever. Sigh. It wasn't until I went to sleep at 8pm Friday night, then woke up aching and feverish the next morning that I came to the brilliant deduction that the crushing tiredness of the past couple days was from getting sick. And then I got up and dragged myself to work. The B went to work Sunday while I attempted to do as much parenting prone as possible. It's times like these that I really really wish we had family nearby. I wouldn't dream of asking a relative to do fulltime daycare (at least not for free), but someone to dump the kids on for the afternoon when we're sick? What a wonderful thought.

I've been in a pattern of feeling okayish after taking ibuprofen, which brings the fever down, then feeling rotten as the fever goes back up, but I think this evening I'm finally fever-free. And thank goodness, because while B stayed home from work today (I had the night from hell last night, thanks to our lovely children), he can't keep staying home.


Anyway, to get off the self-pity portion of the post, we've been watching The Next Food Network Star lately. This is the third season I've watched and the first one where I've really felt invested in who won.

One of the problems I've always had with the show is that it's constructed in a way to find someone with a wide range of skills, which prejudices it towards a certain type of generalized, bland chef, often someone who's just like someone already on the network. If I could point to one area I think Food Network is really lacking (well, besides, you know, actual cooking shows), is a lack of shows from different non-European ethnicities since they stopped showing the original Iron Chef. The closest they come is various Southern cooking shows and Southwestern cooking as done by a white guy. As much as I love Alton Brown, I would love to, say, learn about Asian cooking from an actual Asian.

So two years ago, I was rooting for the Indian chef, whose downfall was being given fish, something she had never cooked before. Now she really didn't seem like real winner material and she could have handled that challenge with a lot more grace, but it didn't seem like a good way to get a good balance of shows to choose new people based on Iron Chef-style challenges. Last year, it was the Korean chef I was interested in, and it seemed for quite a while like she could go the distance, mostly because she had a background in general catering. But she showed enough personality flaws that I couldn't truly disagree when she washed out.

This year, though, Aarti looks like she could really go the distance. She seems to have just the right combination of the ability to cook and a great personality. I'm just hoping after the bad week she had this week that she manages to pull it together and doesn't lose confidence, because hers is the first show that I would actually like to watch.


File under "Awkward conversations with your five-year-old":

K has been really interested in family relationships this summer, and has been verifying with us multiple times that her grandparents are our parents. So I suppose it shouldn't have come as a surprise when she asked me for the first time where my father was. I've told her about him before, and even said that he was dead, but she's never been very interested in what that meant. Until this time. I think it went fairly well as a first conversation, but not as well as it might have because I surprised myself by choking up, something I haven't done in a long, long time.

But the awkward conversation that really surprised me this week was when she asked me what my medications were for. I didn't have a problem explaining the medication for the rapid heartbeat, and even managed a decent explanation of Metformin. But for the life of me I couldn't come up with a child-appropriate explanation of antidepressants without making it sound like there's a magic happy pill for when you're sad, and that's not really the message I want to pass on about either antidepressants or dealing with unhappiness. Hopefully I can avoid the conversation for another couple years until she's capable of a bit of nuance.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I ramble way too much when I'm tired

Four days home, and I keep wishing we were back in Michigan. It was a great trip all around. We drove out through Columbus and spent the night with my friend Sarah and her husband, then went on through Lafayette and had dinner with friends there (we drove past our old house and discovered it was for sale, at a price reduced 18000 from where they had started. Their upper price was what we had priced it at in 2005, before the bubble burst. And we sold it for 10000 less than that. Their new price is less than what we bought the house for when it was a foreclosed house being sold by HUD and needed major work. Goodness, I'm glad we sold it when we did). Then up to my mother's, for a long weekend that happily coincided with a local anime convention that my brother and the Champaign crew always go to. So we got to see at least some of the people we didn't get to see at Christmas, albeit not nearly long enough.

And then up for a glorious week at B's parents, where the only drawback is the lack of fast Internet. Everything else was great - lovely weather, gorgeous scenery, happy hours spent on beautiful beaches, free babysitting. Okay, mentioning the last one seems crass, and I think it goes without saying that we're there to see his parents and would be happy to see them even if there were no babysitting at all. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't spent nearly so much time visiting my mother. But it's been a long, long year with no outside childcare and only having one day off together every other weekend. So being able to relax a little and actually leave the house without children occasionally made it a much better vacation.

As a bonus, B's aunt and uncle and cousins were visiting as well, so we had some enjoyable family meals, and K discovered the joy of playing with older cousins, who were 10 and 13 and absolutely wonderful with her. And it's nice to be able to go someplace to visit with people and not have to worry about entertaining at least one child. There wasn't much chance of prying Alec from my side much. He could be distracted periodically by other people and be taken into a different room, but if I was there, he usually wanted me. However, the presence of other people did give him lots of people to flirt with, so that made him happy and easily entertained. It almost compensated for his learning how to climb stairs.

And then, it was sadly time to come home, far too soon. Back to 100 degree heat and caring for discombobulated children with no help, accomplished by spending far, far too much time in the car. The last hour of the trip was spent with both children sobbing to get out of the car, with K saying over and over again, "I want to go home," to which I could only think "I'm right there with you, kid." I'm so very tired that I was actually dozing off at work today.


Apropos of the whole being tired and overwhelmed issue, I've come to two decisions. The first is that we really need to be making more money*, since we're doing okay for everyday expenses but don't really have enough to weather emergencies. So I've e-mailed my former online job and am in their reserve pool for the next time a job opens, which is expected to happen within the month.

I wasn't enjoying my job very much by the time I left it, but I'm trying to remind myself that I was 9 months pregnant at that point and literally struggling to keep my eyes open by 9pm. There are a lot of jobs I would rather have, but needs must, and part time jobs that pay well enough to pay for daycare and have money left over are a rare beast.

The second decision, not coincidentally, is we're searching for childcare. For one thing, I can't work Fridays this summer unless I have childcare, and since is working a bunch of Sundays downtown, we could go a full 8 weeks without having a day off together if I can't work some Fridays (if I work every Saturday and every other Sunday, and he works the Sundays I don't...yikes. I'm collapsing in nervous exhaustion just thinking about it). But if I'm working 20 hours a week again besides my library job, I'll really need some childcare. I'm a little torn about how to approach it. I've been e-mailing someone with a home daycare who seemed promising that I found through Craigslist, but then she suddenly got a bit weird and I haven't gotten a response to the e-mail I sent five days ago. This is bringing back to me what horrific luck we've had with home daycares since we moved here, and that as childcare finding agencies go, Craigslist is a bit of a back alley operation.

The other option is a center, and we definitely had a lot more luck once we went that route with K. Unfortunately, that center just went out of business. But while I think a center would be great for K, it's not as ideal for a baby/young toddler, and Alec is the one would be staying there into the fall after K goes back to school. The other issue is that everyone is full up with older kids for the summer, so it may be difficult to find someplace in July. I should have made this decision back in April or May.

*The infuriating thing is that we should be making more money, if not for our rat bastard mayor. 's contract ran out over a year ago, so he's currently working under the terms of his old contract until a new one is negotiated (which isn't happening any time soon, since no one really wants to be negotiating their contract during a financial crisis). Standard for pretty much all city employees is that they step up in pay grade every year they work for their first five years, but the mayor is claiming that because they're working without a contract, they don't have to give raises. This is patently absurd, and arbitration has already found in favor of the firefighters over this issue, so once this goes to arbitration for our union, it will almost certainly be found in our favor. However, this was initially supposed to get decided in early May and has been progressively pushed off by the city's attorney until July 20. So who knows when it will happen at this point, while we build up a tidy sum that the city owes us.

While this is plenty of reason to be infuriated, it's all the worse because this is so incredibly typical of how this mayor operates, declaring that what he wants is how it's going to be, without bothering with little details like whether it's legal or not. The hospital next to the park my library is in wanted to lease some park land, and it was building up to a big legal battle until the mayor came into office and declared that it was simply going to happen, and at a nice discount for the hospital. However, once it got to court, it turned out that Pennsylvania has a law forbidding the sale of parkland that's being actively used, which ours most certainly is. He tried to close several library branches, only to have it turn out that the mayor doesn't have the power to close city facilities without city council approval. During the snow emergencies this winter, he tried to make city employees either use their vacation days for the days off they got when city facilities were shut down, or attempt to go into work, a move that was thankfully shut down mighty quick by the unions. People like this are the best reason for unions. Solidarity forever, baby.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


We just got back from a week and a half in Michigan. We had a wonderful time, and are oh so very glad to be out of the car. Although going from temperatures in the 60s and 70s to a high of 99 tomorrow (!!!) is enough to make me tempted to get right back in the car and go back, even though both children spent the last 45 minutes of the trip crying inconsolably out of sheer car exhaustion.

I have lots and lots of news, both small and bigger. But I'm going to do the smarter thing and go imitate my children, who are passed out in their respective beds. More on the morrow.