Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

A quiet day for us, followed by packing for the trip to Michigan tomorrow. We are only halfway through our Christmas season and it has been quite good so far.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm constantly amazed at how James has grown from an easy and laidback baby to an easy and laidback toddler. The common wisdom is that easy babies become hellish toddlers, but so far I've braced myself at every age that was difficult with his siblings for trouble that never came.

I'm sure at some completely inocuous age like 6 he'll turn into a complete demonseed just to mess with us, but in the meantime, he's such a pleasant toddler. He doesn't even tantrum much. He does some, of course, but mostly when he's thwarted or he can't get across what he wants to us, he hangs head and slumps his shoulders in despair, exactly like this:

Then when you figure it out and give him what he wants, he dances with joy exactly like this:

It makes it very hard to say no to him. Tantrums I can ignore, but despair is much more heartrending, especially since his dance of joy is so fricking cute.

Of course, realizing my child is essentially channeling Peanuts characters makes me a little sorry that I never thought to a second boy Rerun.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Black Stallion meets Frankenstein

I made a decent amount of progress at work today on my project of getting all of the children's collection in the computer catalog. My goodness, I never realized quite how many Black Stallion books there are though. The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns, The Black Stallion Revolts, Son of Black Stallion, The Black Stallion and Satan, The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt, The Black Stallion Meets the Three Stooges... it just goes on endlessly and we seem to have all of them. And here I thought there were a lot of Oz books, but apparently L. Frank Baum didn't know beans about churning books out compared to Walter Farley.

Friday, November 14, 2014


James is going through the sherpa stage of toddlerhood, where he must carry his most precious possessions with him at all times, his stubby little arms overflowing, until bedtime comes and they go into the crib with him. Which items are precious to him vary at any given moment, which is why we realized recently that he has been sleeping elevated a good six inches above his mattress, cushioned by stuffed animals, baby dolls, books and most memorably last night, a doll stroller.

We have taken to calling him Smaug.

All proper dragons sleep on their treasure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today was an unusual treat - B had the day off for Veteran's Day, but all of the kids still had school.  So we celebrated by going to see Big Hero 6.

We had been planning to save it for Thanksgiving since it's something we can take the entire family to, but after what happened when we went to see the last Muppet movie (all of our children lost their tiny little minds in their own special way), we decided that since we actually wanted to see it, we would treat ourselves to a viewing which didn't include chasing a two-year-old.  Also, Alec has been getting scared really easily lately, so we thought it would be prudent to pre-screen it and now that I've seen it, I'm not sure he can handle it.

In any case, we loved it.  There was the exquisite animation, of course.  But it also managed that tricky balance of humor some much more serious emotions.  How we handle grief could be seen as the predominant theme, and they did a decent, thoughtful job of it.  Plus some really cool action sequences.  Definitely stay through the credits for the stinger at the end - it's highly worth it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lost weekend

So!  As it turns out, codeine packs quite a punch.  I've spent the past couple evenings essentially passed out due to cough syrup.  Surprising, because I'm not usually that sensitive to drowsy-making things.  I guess my decision not to take any cough syrup during the day was a good one, both for my productivity at work and being able to stay awake to prevent the children from burning the house down.

On the plus side, the theory that stopping the cough will help the irritation calm down seems to be panning out.  I've been regular with the inhaler as well, and while it's not gone completely, I'm coughing a lot less, and it no longer feels like an elephant is standing on my chest - more like a small pony.  Progress!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bits and bobs

* I finally gave in and took my cough to the doctor today.  My lungs are clear, so she thinks it's a post-viral cough, where being sick has irritated my respiratory tract and some asthma as well.  So I have an inhaler and codeine to hopefully evict my guest that has long overstayed its welcome.

* I turned 40 on the 17th.  When I think about starting another decade, I keep remembering that ten years ago when I turned 30, I was 6 weeks pregnant with Katherine.  It's fascinating to see how dramatically different our life is ten years and three children later.

Meanwhile, I'm choosing to ignore any thoughts of my looming mortality, no matter how many grey streaks my hair seems to be developing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In lieu of discussing the utterly depressing election, a more worthwhile conversation

While watching Arrow just now, I made a comment that I think sums up the state of death in comics/comic-related franchises pretty well:

"I would not have believed [$character] was actually dead unless I had seen a flashback of her cradling his severed head."*

Yep, that's it.  Still more than I want to say about the national election.  I am pleased that our horrid governor was voted out of office.  Maybe the new governor will restore some of the 250 MILLION DOLLARS Corbett cut from the Philadelphia schools.  But when it comes to our national government, I would rather talk about comic books.

*Which of course always brings to mind the fantastic line from the superb movie Soapdish: "How can I write dialogue for him?  He doesn't have a fucking head!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fashion plate

Guess who's been choosing his own outfits lately?


This particular masterpiece of fashion is a shirt with bugs and pants with monkeys on surfboards (actually a pair of 4t pyjama pants, but why let that stop him from realizing his artistic vision?), but I think it's the blue argyle socks that tip it over into true awesomeness.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cough cough cough

We seem to have been blessed with the eternal household cold early this year.  Coughing is the soundtrack of the house right now.  I've been coughing for three weeks now, which is honestly starting to get a bit boring, because I can't do much physical if I want to be able to breathe at the end of it.  It's not so bad, I suppose, as long as I don't move, or talk. Or lie down.  At work, I've been very tempted to put out a sign labeling myself as a living history exhibit of an authentic Victorian Consumptive.

I suppose I would have to stop using the computer if I wanted to preserve the illusion of historical accuracy though.  And maybe grab a red marker from the children's section to put some bloodstains on a handkerchief.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


  (It's November. Am I doing this?  I guess I am)

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We passed an uneventful and sugar-fueled Halloween.  We avoided all sorts of potential drama:

Alec, for instance, was perfectly happy to go off to school in his firefighter costume when I told him that he couldn't wear his chosen monkey costume because he couldn't go to the bathroom in it easily enough.

James was thrilled to wear the dinosaur costume that his brother and sister had worn before him because it was his turn to be the right size for it.  He's started to be very opinionated about what he wears lately, so he could have refused to put it on, but thankfully, he actually likes stomping around pretending to be a dinosaur.  I left him with the costume while I went to get a fresh diaper and by the time I came back, he had managed to get one arm through a sleeve and his other arm through a leg and couldn't wait to finish putting it on.

Katherine didn't want to wear any makeup on her face even though the Monster High character she was dressed as has blue skin, which was good because apparently Target the day before Halloween isn't the right place to find costume makeup and I didn't have the energy to go any place else.

I don't know when my children decided to be so flexible and easy, but it certainly made for a nice day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

School notes


James's first day of preschool was three weeks ago.  The first week went pretty much how I expected: he cried when I left and when I went to pick him up, I saw him through the window acting upset and holding his backpack, clearly signalling that he felt it was time to go home, so would someone kindly summon his mother, if you please?  The next day, I had to carry him in because he recognized where we were going and he started crying before I left.  But he was happy when I picked him up.

The next week?  He happily ran in and left me without a second thought.  Clearly I don't rate nearly as highly as a sand table.  He was playing quite happily when I picked him up as well.  That's how it's been ever since.  Today, he blew me a kiss from the sand table as I left.

I'm pleased, of course, but a bit stunned that he adjusted so quickly since he's always been my koala baby.  And maybe a little melancholy at my baby growing up.  *sniff*


My other babies are doing well in big kid school.  We went to Back to School night this week and I was once again blown away by all of the emphasis on social/emotional learning and developing compassion, and what they're doing to promote them.

I was even more blown away when I went to Katherine's classroom and discovered all of the writing she's been doing.  Writing was such a huge source of drama last year.  She would rather refuse (loudly) to do something than try and fail, so last year featured a lot of loud refusal when it came to writing.  But this year?  For whatever reason, she's willing to try.  Her teacher transcribes what she says and she winds up copying about half of it, which solves the one of the big issues, which is being scared to misspell things.  There was even a pretty cogent three paragraph essay.

Alec, meanwhile, is having a great time.  It took a couple weeks for him to get with the program and stay on task, but he's doing just fine now.  I was a little worried after his bad year in preschool last year that he might not be ready for kindergarten, but one thing we've never had any problem with is getting him to use a computer, and since their academic work is done on the computer, he's perfectly happy to sit down and do his schoolwork.

I'm not sure who told me my babies they could grow up and leave me to go to school, but they're doing it anyway.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Hey look, I blinked and the summer is gone.  The older kids had a fantastic time at camp.  We took our annual two-week summer trip to Michigan, spending time with both of our families and seeing friends in Indiana and Ohio on the way.

And now it's time for school again.  Katherine was not entirely resigned to starting school again:


Alec, on the other hand was entirely ready to rock kindergarten:


The dress code was changed this year from navy blue polo and khaki bottoms to any color collared shirt and long pants or skirt.*  It is, however, entirely silent on the subject of monkey hats.

*which I didn't find out about until after I ordered 15 navy blue polo shirts and 6 pairs of khaki pants.  Sigh.  Fortunately, you can return website orders from Target to the store, so I returned 75 percent of them and bought some other colors, which makes Katherine very very happy.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


A conversation with a five-year-old:

B: Put your shoes on.

Alec: They're sandals, not shoes

B: Yes, they're sandals, Mr. Precision

Alec: No Daddy, it's Alec


A cautionary tale:

They tell you that the Internet is dangerous for kids.  That you should carefully monitor where they go, especially sites like Youtube.  But the thing no one tells you is that the real danger of Youtube is that your child may watch cooking shows and then be inspired to do things like combine flour and water into a reasonable facsimile of a pie dough and then make a pie with grass filing and pretty impressive lattice crust - all on the floor of her bedroom.  Or you may wake up to find she's been inspired to get out the powdered sugar, butter and food coloring so she can experiment with making frosting.

Although I will give her credit that she did a decent job of cleaning up after the frosting.  And the most damnable part is what a good job she does on these experiments.  If they were disasters, it would discourage her from doing it again.  But no, she made a pretty good frosting, put it in plastic bags and piped it onto cookies for her brothers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


We are having a very nice, relaxing summer. Back when it was time for B to put in requests for Sundays for the summer, I realized that 1) we had both just gotten raises and 2) he has lots of time off banked already. So since the reason for him to work Sundays is to either get overtime pay or comp time, we decided to treat ourselves to a summer off. The branch libraries are closed on Saturdays in the summer, so except for an obligatory Saturday at the regional library (which still has Saturday hours), he has no weekend hours this summer. I still have them, of course, but we've still managed at least one weekend day off together for the past month except last weekend. Lovely.

The older kids are having a great time at camp. Katherine has reunited with her camp friends and Alec is learning how to swim. If they could only stop bringing viruses home, life would be great (I have been trying to mail a package for the past 2 1/2 weeks, and no kidding, every single day I thought I might be able to make it to the post office another kid would get sick). When they're not running fevers, though, they're having a great summer. See?

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike

Monday, June 30, 2014



Last Monday, Alec turned five. He also started his first day at Big Kid camp, attending day camp with Katherine for the first time, five days a week. In the past month, he has also had his last day of preschool ever, because he starts kindergarten in the fall. My little boy is getting so big!

Very big, actually. He's 45 inches tall and 43 pounds, which is the 90th percentile for height and 75th for weight. He's always been a very solid kid, and he's starting to thin out and get a bit more willowy.

Currently, he loves Legoes and playing Lego-related computer games. He can spend hours playing with Play-doh. He has started enacting elaborate conversations between toy figures (or the other day, puzzle pieces). He's starting to read short words and do basic addition. I predict great things for him next year in kindergarten.


Sunday, June 29, 2014



Last Saturday, Katherine turned nine years old. That's just one year away from double digits. I started getting body hair at nine. I'm so very not ready to contemplate puberty yet.

Currently, she's 53 inches tall and 60 pounds - long and skinny. I have a strong feeling that she's due for a growth spurt upwards any day now. She's solidly in Big Kid territory these days, and starting to show hints of the young woman she's going to become.

She still happily plays involved games with toys and plans out elaborate projects. She's a Minecraft aficionado. She loves sewing, crafts, science and cooking. The confluence of those things have resulted in her being banned from using flour unsupervised (a choice quote from the last incident: "But I didn't use it in my room!" It can be a bit exhausting trying to keep up with a child who has always had a talent for enacting projects that I had no idea I needed to forbid, but I so admire her creativity and ingenuity.

I can't believe we're going to have a fourth grader next year. Our Big Girl.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

It was a day

It was... not a great parenting day. More like the kind of day that makes you wonder if Medea had the right idea. But it was pretty amusing when Alec was wailing as I carried him into preschool that he didn't want to go to this school because "It has too many windows!"

He's in a phase lately where if he doesn't like something but can't verbal why, he grabs onto the first trait he can see. Recently, he was insisting he didn't like the Spiderman shirt I bought him because "It's too stripy and fluffy."


Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike

Excuse note

So Thursday night, I stayed up obscenely late finishing Katherine's dress. Then after I finally made it to bed, that special sensor that babies and small children possess that lets them know that since their parents are choosing to go without sleep tripped in James and he decided to join me.

Friday, I was foggy and tired all day, and the gnome inhabiting my sinuses had babies and they all tried to burrow out through my forehead with their adorable little pickaxes. Since then, there have been several nights where 2 AM has been prime toddler party time. Last night, Katherine got in on the act and I had the pair of them in bed with me, completely failing to sleep.

Which is all to say that I've been very very very very more than just a little bit tired, not to mention not feeling great. I DID manage to exercise several nights - 25 minutes Sunday, rearranging and vacuuming Katherine's bedroom on Monday, 30 minutes on Tuesday. But I haven't been managing to write, since the place in my brain where the words are is mostly a dull tired hum at the moment. Not to mention the fact that I keep falling asleep on the couch every evening.

Today, I walked around Costco, which seems sufficiently exercising, and I made myself sit down at the keyboard early enough to dredge some dried up words out of the corn stubble of my brain. All of the children went to bed at a reasonable hour, so hopefully they'll let me sleep as well and I can get back on track with this whole writing and exercising thing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I'm making Katherine a dress with the solar system appliqued on it, and in a foolhardy moment, told her that I might be able to finish it in time for her to wear to school on Friday when she has a no-uniform day. Thus I have no time to type. I'll post a picture when I'm done though, because such an absurd amount of work needs to be shared.

Exercise: Some sort of malicious gnome decided to climb into my sinuses and is attempted to dig his way back out with a pickaxe so I'm not at my best. 20 minutes on the exercise bike tonight. Nothing formal last night, but I made two trips to Target and went to the grocery store, which adds up to approximately two and a half Bataan Death Marches worth of walking.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chicken gyros

I recently discovered the most wonderfully easy dinner - chicken gyros. I know the word "gyros" conjures up the image of specialized equipment and meat on a spit, but the magic of chicken is that you don't need any of that.

Boneless chicken in an amount suitable to feed the number of people you want to feed
ditto flatbread
tzatziki sauce
feta cheese

Throw a couple pounds of boneless chicken in the crockpot with some olive oil and greek seasoning (the seasoning I use is McCormick Greek Seasoning, which I bought in the grocery store. If you can't find anything like that, there are about twelve million recipes for greek seasoning mixes available for the Googling). Cook on high for two hours or low for four hours. Cut the chicken into slices.

Warm up some flatbread or pita to make it more flexible by putting in it a hot skillet for a couple minutes or wrapping it in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for a minute or so. I've taken to using our Foreman grill, which lets me do several at once. Cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers into slices and finely slice some onion. Crumble of some feta cheese if you're of a mind to. Put some tzatziki sauce (Trader Joes makes an excellent tzatziki, but I've seen it in most supermarkets. And ooh, Trader Joes Greek Yogurt dip is fantastic on this too) on the flatbread, pile on the chicken, vegetables and cheese and eat, reveling in the knowledge that you've provided a hot meal with about five minutes of prep time. I've served this three times in the past three weeks and so far nobody has started pelting me with pitas when I announce we're having it yet again.


Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike - I was sick today, so I feel pretty damn heroic doing that much

Monday, May 19, 2014

Signs of progress

As I've said several times in the past, it's always been difficult to know how well Katherine reads. Her school has been extraordinarily patient with her performance anxiety when it comes to reading and writing (the writing issue has led to us to decide to have her formally tested for learning disabilities), and she's definitely made a significant amount of progress this year. She actually admits that she can read a bit now, for instance. She's even been occasionally willing to read out loud in class.

But the biggest sign of progress yet came this evening. She wants to have a sleepover, and I've told her she can't do that until she can go to sleep without one of us sitting with her (she was the lucky inheritor of my childhood fear of the dark). Tonight, she decided to try going to sleep on her own, and she decided to try reading to help herself fall asleep.

Reading for pleasure and falling asleep on her own. Our big girl.


Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shameless bragging

This evening, I was making Alec take a few bites of dinner before being excused. He had taken three bites, and I asked him to take two more, then asked him if he had taken three bites and then took two more, how many would he have taken? He took a bite, then said, "Five."

He was evaluated for a speech delay earlier this year and the evaluation report came back reporting fairly limited math skills for his age. I'm thinking they were a bit off on that.


At James's two-year appointment, he weighed in at 24 pounds, 3 ounces. That's no weight gain at all from his previous doctor's appointment six weeks earlier (when we took him in after he had been throwing up for two weeks straight, so you would think once the vomiting stopped, he would put some weight back on). And it's around the 5th percentile for weight, when he's over 50th percentile for height. This is somewhat worrisome.

Now mind you, I don't think he's ever managed to crack the 35 percentile for weight, but a drop in weight gain curve from the 30th to 5th percentile is still not something you want to see. It could be quite likely he just takes after his father, who was six feet tall and 140 pounds when we met, and could be legitimately accused of being able to disappear by turning sideways. But meanwhile, we're working hard on getting more fattening foods into him.

I had thought we were doing pretty well on that front. But as it turns out, while we were giving him lots of fat and protein, closer attention to what he actually eats revealed that our toddler is attempting to turn himself into an herbivore. All of the nice fattening cheese or sunflower butter sandwiches in the world won't matter if he plows his way through a plate of apple slices first.

It seems silly to complain that my child likes fruits and vegetables too much, but he really does need fat and protein to grow properly too. I didn't realize the extent of the problem until the other day when he threw a cheese stick on the ground and came over to me to beg for lettuce.

Good lord child, that's just weird.

Anyway, I'm giving him less plant matter so he can't fill up on that and making a bigger effort to get him to drink milk. I haven't pushed cow's milk much because he's not incredibly fond of it and if he doesn't drink enough liquid, he comes to me to make up for it. I've partially solved that by adding hot chocolate powder to his morning milk, which both make it more appealing and adds calories. I've started giving him cheese sticks as a default snack and putting cream cheese on his morning toast. And there's always direct injections of lard. We'll fatten up our little piggy yet.


Exercise: twenty minutes on exercise bike, 11000 steps per pedometer (thank you James, for deciding to do laps around the bookstore this evening)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

3/4 asleep blogging

Alec to B as we were dropping him off at work yesterday:
"Bye Daddy! We miss you! Happy Mother's Day!"

He brought home two Mother's Day presents for me, about which he is absurdly proud. In one of them, he describes me as being 100 pounds and taller than a crayon. He's not technically wrong about my height, mind you, but it does give me the mental image of him seeing me as being extremely short and squat.

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike, and I feel downright heroic because I was three quarters asleep on the couch before I remembered I needed to exercise and yet I still hauled myself up and did it.

More on a roll of positive

* After nearly seven years on the job, I was informed out of the blue last week that I'm getting a raise! It's the first for all of the museum workers in ten years. It's still an absurdly low pay rate for someone with a master's degree, mind you but they will no longer have to give us a raise if Obama is able to get the minimum wage raised as high as he wants. I won't hear about the scandalously low average pay of fast food workers and think I'd like to get paid that much. And it will be an extra hundred dollars a month, which will definitely help.

* School ends in a month, and I'm extremely happy that both Katherine and Alec will be going to the same day camp this year. They'll have a great time, of course. Katherine will get to reunite with her summertime friends and Alec will learn how to swim, but mostly I'm just selfishly enjoying the fact that they'll both be out of the house five days a week and that I'll only have one place to drop off and pickup.

B's aunt has been paying for camp, and every year I tell myself not to count on it, that it's a huge amount of money and we're incredibly grateful for what she's already given us. This year, when we got the camp materials, we discussed sending Alec to Katherine's camp instead of his preschool's summer program since it would make life easier and because we thought Alec and his preschool need a break from each other (it hasn't been a great year in preschool for Alec, but that's another post). But that added another couple thousand dollars to the cost and I was hesitant to suggest it. Then B called his aunt and she said, "I was thinking that it should be time for camp materials to arrive, and maybe you'd like Alec to attend the same camp as Katherine this year," before we even said anything. So that was easy.

B's uncle ran a summer camp for many years, and I can't think of a better way to honor his memory than to send his great nieces and nephews to camp. I'm just grateful we get to benefit from that.

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike (and the only that got me on it tonight was not wanting to punk out on the second day. See, it's working!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The (buns of) steel annversary

Two days ago was the eleventh anniversary of this blog (started on Livejournal). Once upon a time, believe it or not, I regularly posted every other day.

I never meant to not so much drift as gallop away from blogging, and I keep trying to find my way back. It occurred to me recently that when I first started, I used blogging partially as a way to be publicly accountable for my personal goals - exercise, productivity, healthy eating and cooking. I don't feel up to keeping track of all of those things at once, but I desperately need to start exercising again, so keeping track of exercise here dovetails nicely into wanting to blog more in general.

Supposedly it takes 30 days to form a habit. My particular habit is dropping habits even when I've been at them for a while, but it's still worth a try to do this for 30 days to see if I can either successfully restart exercise or blogging. I've managed to exercise four out of the past five days, so that may be the one that sticks, but we shall see.

So here it goes:

Exercise: 25 minutes exercise bike

Monday, May 12, 2014

The cat came back the very next day

Last Monday night, Luna was acting weird. In the past, she's come onto my bed and loudly demanded attention at bedtime, but it's usually in the winter (and I usually wind up kicking her out so her incessant meowing doesn't wake the baby). But despite it being a warm night, she was all up in my face, demanding attention. The next day, both she and Lily seemed out of sorts. I kept finding them places that I don't normally see them during the day, like they didn't quite know what they should do with themselves. And that's when I put it together that 1) I hadn't seen Sonya all day and 2) I had found the patio door open a bit last night, but didn't have time to go check the yard for escaped cats because I was putting the boys to bed.

Oh no. Not again. Since she disappeared for a month five years ago, we've been so, so careful to keep her inside. But with not only our own children but neighbor children running in and out of the house, it gets hard to be certain that every door is closed as tightly as it should be (particularly since James figured out how to open the patio door and waltz out unsupervised into the backyard. Aiee!). And now she's much older and been getting skinny lately, so she doesn't have that layer of fat to help her survive without food for a while.

Fortunately, the difference between this house and the house she escaped from before is that while that house had a heavily-trafficked alley in back, this house has a nice yard that borders about 7 other unfenced yards, creating a nice large semi-wild area for a cat to explore safely without having to wander further afield. So last night, we turned the porch lights on to try to attract her and hoped for the best. Sure enough, as I was putting Katherine to sleep, I heard meowing and ran outside to the front of the house just in time to see a cat vanish under the car. I looked underneath and lo! There was an unhappy Sonya who was thrilled to come to me and go back inside. She then spent the rest of the evening cuddling with us and remarking her territory, since she had been gone an entire day and therefore had to reestablish herself in the cat hierarchy. She also had to collect a large number of small stuffed animals to leave on the landing of the stairs for some obscure cat reason.

Oh, what a relief. She just turned 13, and I'm becoming acutely aware of the fact that she probably doesn't have too many years left. But I'm not ready to lose our Sonya yet.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy-making things

* Last month, B's union voted to approve their first contract since 2009. A good contract, even, with none of the nonsense like unlimited furlough days that had made them understandably balk before.

So B is getting a raise, and has raises guaranteed for two more years. Yippee! I had almost forgotten what it's like to have our income go up.

* We got to go see a movie in the theatre last month. And it was rated higher than PG! Captain America, to be specific. Good golly, that was a great movie. And B and I both have Friday off, so we could conceivably abandon our children at the baby warehouse and go see another movie. The mind boggles.

* That the elderly man who came into my library last weekend and told us he needed to drink a lot of water because of a medical procedure did not then actually tell us about said medical procedure. Because last year, he came in and started telling us the world's most boring and convoluted story about slipping on the ice. I had managed to mostly tune him out despite the fact that his indoor voice is only slightly quieter than a jet engine, when suddenly I heard "And then they stuck a needle in my male organ!" Then he went on to say he didn't know why they would stick a needle in his penis and since he was in a Catholic hospital, maybe it was because he's not Catholic?

That... certainly gives a hair-raising impression of Catholic hospitals, no? Of course, the last two times I've been in a Catholic hospital, they stuck a needle in my spine (maybe because I don't have a penis?), but since they then proceeded to slice open my abdomen while I was awake and remove a baby, I was really pretty grateful for the needle in the spine. Who knows what they would have done to me if I were Catholic.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Today, my baby turned two. It doesn't seem possible, but with all he's doing these days, he's clearly not our tiny baby any more. He just started walking downstairs holding onto the railing, and figured out how to open the patio door so he can run out into the backyard, a paradise from which he feels he is far too often barred.

Happy birthday James. If your third year is half as delightful as your first two were, we will be very lucky indeed.


Friday, March 28, 2014

The care and feeding of young geeks

(It has occurred to me that one of the downsides of not posting much is that four of my last five posts have involved vomit. At least until the last two weeks, our winter hasn't actually featured much puking, so I'll attempt to rein back the discussion of it to be in proportion to actual amounts in our everyday life)

(Although guess what I did Tuesday night. Sigh)

One good thing that came out of the massive amounts of school Katherine has missed due to weather is that I tried to convince her to watch Star Wars. To my great surprise, she agreed. To my even greater surprise, she loved it, mainlining A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back the first day and champing at the bit to watch Return of the Jedi the next (I'm sure it helps that I told her there were living teddy bears in that movie)(I'm not sure I will ever forgive myself for selling my Ewok village playset at a garage sale now).*

The way I convinced her was through Angry Birds, which the older kids and I started playing last fall (which makes me all hip and up to the moment for like, 2010 or so). We had worked our way to Angry Birds Star Wars, and Katherine was begging me to get Angry Birds Star Wars II. So I finally said I would if she actually watched Star Wars, and she said okay. It was a spur of the moment whim on my part, mostly as a way of putting her off a little because I try to avoid putting new games on the tablet too often. Even when they're free, I would rather the kids not get accustomed to a constant stream of novelty and have to actually spend some time playing through the games they ask for before getting a new one.

So we watched Star Wars. And she loved it. I came home from work last Sunday and discovered she had asked to watch it again. She's never been much of a science fiction kid (well, except for Wall-E), but clearly this is a hit. I wish I could think of more PG science fiction to show her. This trend needs to be encouraged.

*We had been pondering since before we actually had children in what order we would show them the Star Wars movies. I finally came down on the original trilogy first because they aren't remotely old enough to handle Revenge of the Sith. And because the original trilogy is actually good, of course.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I am getting very tired of vomit

We had another puketastic weekend - this time, Katherine threw up once and was sick all of Saturday, B felt sick but never threw up, and James has been throwing up multiple times a day since Friday night.

He's been throwing up for two weeks now, and it's hard not to worry. We took him to the doctor today, which I wouldn't normally do for what's almost certainly a virus, but two weeks calls for further investigation. And the diagnosis was... probably a virus. Or I suspect two viruses back to back. But the doctor did say he looked well-hydrated, so we just need to wait it out. It's just hard to see our skinny baby lose weight. He was 22 pounds, 8 ounces at his 18 month appointment, which is the 8th percentile for weight. Today, he was 24 pounds, 6 ounces, which is a net gain of less than two pounds in five months. That's not really adequate weight gain for a toddler. I'm going to have to concentrate on calorie-loading for him once he's consistently keeping food down, whenever that blessed day may come. And meanwhile, we will continue to do massive amounts of laundry.


Katherine hid the fact that she had thrown up from us on Saturday, and spent the day protesting that she was fine! Absolutely fine! Despite spending the day basically lying prone and motionless and not eating at all. The reason was that she was desperate to go to a local nature center.

So I took her the next day. It was actually the right day to go because we got there right before a program was right about to start. It was supposed to be for members only, but they let us attend if we promised to consider joining. So we got to meet the new animals of the nature center - an opossum, two rats, two snakes, a bearded dragon and a turkey vulture (we didn't actually get to meet him since he was far too shy of humans to do programs yet, but we met his cute stuffed stand-in). We got to pet them all, then the children made toys for the rats and opossum. The environmental educator gave a very entertaining program, so we'll definitely have to try to go back. I think we'll join as well. There are certainly larger places to go in Philadelphia, but this place is very close to us and doesn't require driving across three quarters of our egregiously large city. And as an employee of a small museum, I know how much more difference every single membership makes.


And, as always, an observance of the holiday:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not a method I actually recommend

I discovered the secret to an easy Daylight Saving Time transition: stay up most of the night with puking children! The next day, everyone will be so exhausted that they have no problem falling asleep when their bodies think it's an hour early.

In other news, after three night of nocturnal vomit in the past week, I'm not a fan of this particular stomach bug.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


We were so close. After a week with four snow, the next week with two snow days and for the killing blow, the next week starting with a holiday and a teacher's inservice day, Katherine was finally going to have a full week of school. And then she got sick, and so much for that.

Yes, yes, I know she used to be home all the time. But we had a routine based on that then. Children off their routine are not a pretty sight, and when you mix it with being housebound by the weather for days on end, starts to get grisly. Children start pinging off of walls like heated molecules and household civilization crumbles into decay. By the second week, I was practically sprinting out the door to work when the weekend came.

And now there's six to twelve inches forecast for Monday. Sigh.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


I had all these plans to write about cheerful substanceless things this month, like tv. But instead, my mother went back into the hospital two weeks ago and I had to go back to Michigan.

When I got the call on a Monday, her aide had good reason to believe it could be near the end. She had just finished the antibiotics from her last bout of pneumonia and was having symptoms that suggested it had come galloping back. She also had a hemoglobin of 5, when you want it to be at least 11. She was grey, confused and had easily agreed to go to the ER, which she had been fighting hard all week. I didn't quite get the impression that I was rushing to her deathbed, but it clearly wasn't good.

By the time I got there on Thursday, she was doing much better. By Saturday, she had gotten a transfusion, the infection was under control and the doctor said that most of her problems were actually her congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension acting up and they were responding well to medications. She got home last Tuesday.

I, meanwhile, got to figure out how to get home on a day that the latest polar vortex was dumping 13 inches of snow on my fair snow-plow impaired city. After an hour on hold with United while meanwhile seeing online that my best choice was to pay $1000 to switch my flight to 5am on Thursday, I decided, "I have a rental car. I'm going to drive." And so I did. I had James with me, but thank goodness he's an excellent little traveller (a terrible sickroom visitor, but a great traveller). We spent the night in Columbus and by Wednesday, the snow had stopped and was cleared on major roads by the time we got home Wednesday night. There was a point I was convinced that the Pennsylvania Turnpike was actually some eternal road stretching through purgatory, but we made it home in the end.

So it's all good again for the moment. I'm experiencing some major emotional whiplash though. I've been prepared for it to be the end twice in the past six weeks. You can't be constantly ready for something terrible without starting to lose it after a while. Life is too busy to fall apart though, so I'm just trucking on.

Monday, January 6, 2014

And a wet New Year

* Today started with a bang, or more precisely, something of a wet blort as James decided to throw up in our bed at 6am. This followed Katherine throwing up last night, Alec throwing up the night before and B and I experiencing it lower down the digestive tract last Thursday.

It's a mild virus, thank goodness, and I hope to goodness this means that we're done with it. Katherine was supposed to go back to school last Thursday, but we didn't feel up to driving her. Then Friday was a snow day. She's been making noises about maybe still being sick tomorrow, but after two full weeks of full family togetherness, I'm ready to carry her the entire ten miles to school on my back tomorrow if need be.

* I talked to my mother last Friday and she sounded a bit better. Her chest tube is out, which I can imagine would make anyone feel better. She wasn't leaping up and kicking her heels by any means (she in fact has been using a lift again to transfer between bed and her chair because she can't stand any more), but she sounded more like herself, which is encouraging.

* So we had a whole two inches of snow on Friday, which had ended by 6am. By 8, a bright sun shone over the snow that anyone half trying could have cleared in time for a two-hour school delay. But no, another snow day. The insane cold currently in the Midwest is supposed to hit us Tuesday, and if Alec misses another day of preschool after the number he missed to sickness and snow days last December, I may start typing repetitively about all work and no play, and possibly size up axes for their door-opening capabilities.

I am not up for another winter like the one we had 2009/2010, I tell you what. To be honest, I rather like not having Michigan winters here. The whole get an occasional snowfall which melts in the next couple days is pretty convenient when you have small children. Although I don't mind Michigan winters either. When they're in Michigan, that is, where they have adequate plows, know how to drive in the snow and don't panic and close the schools over every half inch of snow. This whole being perpetually snowed and/or iced in the way we have since the middle of December is getting old.