Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Bash

It was a good, if somewhat tiring, weekend.

Saturday was the Summer Bash. A lot of the people we invited couldn't make it, and it turned out to probably be just as well, because we barely fit everyone in the house as it was.

The kids (Penny, Jess, and Ray) played in the pool and then made a small wreck of the green room -- but they more or less confined themselves to the green room, Penny's room, and the deck, leaving the grownups free to sit and chat without being interrupted every three words, which was really nice.

Alex was on his very best behavior -- he napped for the first hour or more of the party, then woke up happy and cute and sociable; he didn't get overloaded and cranky until fairly close to his usual bedtime anyway, and then went to bed with relatively little fuss. Just about all that could be asked of a six-month-old!

Of course I have pictures!


All four kids!

More pics over at flickr, of course.

We spent Sunday recovering and doing the usual chores. Karen came over after dinner, so we got to chat with her some more before she headed back home.

Of course, Penny started leaking goop from her eyes that evening, so she's going to the doctor today to make sure it isn't pinkeye and/or get a prescription to deal with it. ...Assuming she isn't on a field trip. I'll have to call and check up on that.

It's a short work week, of course, with the 4th on Friday. And half my office is taking Thursday and/or Monday off to extend the holiday to a 4-day weekend, so things are pretty quiet.

Despite being halfway through my run of antibiotics, I've still got fluid in my left ear and can't hear anything on that side. If it doesn't clear up soon, I may make an appointment with an ENT specialist. Though someone suggested that my persistent cough might be caused by (or at least worsened by) the smoke in the air from the peat fire in North Carolina -- if that's the case, then I'm probably stuck with both the cough and the lack of hearing for the next month. Whee.

At any rate, I've decided I don't want to wait for the ear to clear up to go back to swimming; I really missed it last week. So I'm going back tonight, and sometime this week I'll find some time to go looking for earplugs to protect my ears once I'm done with the antibiotics.

At least, that's the plan. If Penny's doctor holds us up too late, I might just go straight home afterwards, and I can't really go swimming with her in tow.

Guess it's going to be a play-it-by-ear afternoon...

Friday, June 27, 2008


Every so often, I consider giving up my job to become a teacher.

I enjoy teaching. I tutored for extra cash in college; I assistant-taught in grad school; I taught math at a business college before I landed my first programming gig.

I like building the lessons, I like coming up with new ways to explain and illustrate ideas, I like being in front of the class explaining and answering questions. I like that it sometimes forces me to consider my topic from unusual angles. Grading is tedious, but even that is scattered with occasional rewards. ("Parallelozoid" was the surprise gem of my grad school days.)

It's been my fallback plan for more than five years, if I were to lose my job -- there's always a shortage of qualified math and science teachers, and I have a master's degree. It wouldn't be too hard to get picked up by one of the local school systems with a qualification conditional. (That is, they'd hire me on condition that I meet the qualification requirements within a certain timeframe.) This isn't speculation; I actually looked into it at one point when I was particularly unhappy with my job.

It would, of course, cut my salary cleanly in half, and that's pretty much the only reason I haven't already done it. We could manage if that's what happened, but we'd have to budget a lot tighter, and some of our luxuries that we've grown used to would probably disappear.

So I was really thrilled last year when I got tapped to teach a process course for my company. Not just to the people in my office, but across the business unit. The slides I was given to teach from were pretty horrible, and I enjoyed the struggle to get them into shape. I liked teaching the class, and the feedback forms, when they eventually made their way to me, had some very nice comments and excellent suggestions.

Of course, having taught the course once, I am now apparently the go-to girl for it. When the training schedule came out in March, I was right there on it. It's extra work, but I was still happy.

I spent yesterday completely re-working the slides. From scratch. I pulled a few individual slides from the original presentation, and used it for reference so I wouldn't forget anything critical, but the experience of teaching from those slides showed me that they'd been beyond reform. I really like the new slide deck I've come up with; it's half as long and -- I think -- explains the core concepts much more clearly. It's less cluttered -- I'm doing less reading and more explaining, but it's all there in the notes section, for people who need to come back to it later. The biggest suggestions I got from last year's course were to involve the class participants more, and to provide more examples, and I think I did that.

In short, I've been having a blast. The class itself is next week, and I can't wait. Most of the trainers look on these courses as a chore, a necessary interruption of their "real" work, but for me, this is fun. The company doesn't have a dedicated teaching staff (our training staff concerns itself with scheduling, administration, and upkeep of the online training hooha), or I'd request a transfer. Too bad. At least I'll have this to look forward to every year.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


So yesterday was Alex's six-month checkup. He is fine and fit and fat, being just a smidge over 26 inches tall (though height/length measurements are a bit suspect until they can stand on their own) and solidly eighteen and a half pounds.

(Another pound or so and I'm going to not be able to carry him in the baby seat without using both hands.)

He got one oral vaccination (which apparently is very tasty; he was giving the nurse his best "more food now" baby bird face). And he didn't cry at all for the first shot -- he just startled and blinked. The second and third, alas, apparently hurt more. But he calmed down fairly quickly, and yay for assorted nasty diseases he won't have to worry about, eh?

I was walking down the hall at work and I saw Becky in Matt's (not my Matt, another Matt) office and she waved and smiled and I returned both as I continued on my way. I got about four steps further and then turned around and went back.

"Tonight is Book Club night, isn't it?"


"Wow. I keep thinking today is Tuesday, for some reason."

Matt piped up, "Hey, yeah, me too!"

"And it's weird," I said, "because I spent all day Monday thinking it was Tuesday, too."

Matt said, "I did, too! How weird is that!"

"That is weird... Well, apparently, this is Tuesday Week."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Me meme

I love memes, I love about-you surveys, and I love photos. How could this not be perfect, then?

(Especially since I need to leave in 10 minutes to take Alex to the doctor for his 6-month checkup...)

First, the rules:

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search.

2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image.

3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:

1. What is your first name?

2. What is your favorite food right now?

3. What high school did you go to?

4. What is your favorite color?

5. Who is your celebrity crush?

6. What is your favorite drink?

7. What is your dream vacation?

8. What is your favorite dessert?

9. What do you want to be when you grow up?

10. What do you love most in life?

11. What is one word that describes you?

12. What is your flickr name?

And now, the results:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Glory and hallelujah, both kids managed to sleep last night from the time we put them to bed until almost 6 this morning. Now, if they could just keep doing that...

Ray (the kid next door) has been gone for a week and a half, on vacation with his mom, who is a high school teacher and therefore gets things like spring break. Penny has asked nearly every day they were gone if she could play with Ray and when was he coming back?

Sunday evening, just after dinner, the doorbell rang, and there was Ray.

He came bearing gifts. He brought Penny a sparkly pinwheel with Spider-Man on it, and a toy trumpet. I'm not sure of the provenance of the pinwheel, but Ray's mom told me that she'd taken him to a fair and he won two trumpets, and immediately announced that he was going to give the second one to Penny.

Could that be any sweeter?

Yesterday, as I was writing my blog entry and chatting on the interoffice IM with Alexis, I got a call from Penny's teacher. "Um, we have kind of a problem. I was getting ready to do Penny's BG before breakfast, and we don't have the stick thing. It's not in the bag."

Somehow, I'd managed to restock the bag with extra lancet cartridges, but missed the fact that the lancet itself was still sitting on the dining room table. And my weekly meeting was going to start in ten minutes. And even if I skipped the meeting, it would be half an hour before I could get up there. "Okay, um... just dose her for breakfast as usual and don't worry about the correction factor, and I'll make sure you have the lancet in time for lunch."

As I sat in the meeting and pondered the best way to get the lancet to school and then get to my lunchtime appointment, it occurred to me that one of my errands for this week was to return the breast pump to the hospital -- which naturally has to be done by appointment between 9 and 3, making it totally inconvenient to do on the way to the Y or to pick up the kids. As soon as the meeting was done, I called the HME office. Much to my surprise (because I usually have to leave a message) the lady picked up.

So I managed to turn that "oops, I fucked up" panic errand into a way to avoid having to take off time on Thursday (which was the last day I could return the pump without being charged for another month's rent).


A girl in Penny's class at school told Penny recently that superheroes were for boys.

When Penny told me that, I was filled with indignation. "You can tell Miss Prissypants that if she wants to miss out on half the fun things in the world just because they aren't pink and bubbly, then that's fine for her, but there's more to you than lipstick and sparkly eyeshadow."

No, I didn't really say that, at least not in those words. But I wanted to. I love the way that Penny doesn't see anything remotely unusual or amusing in crossing Batman with My Little Pony, or wearing her Superman pyjamas with sequined Hello Kitty sandals. I know that our society will eventually force her to recognize the gender divide, but I want to stave it off as long as possible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Assorted Stuff

I make no promises about coherence today.

Penny and Alex slept until 6:30 this morning. :-D

...Of course, that's probably because Alex spent from 3 to 4:30 whining and crying, and Penny got up three or four times with minor crises. ("I had a bad dream..." and a nose bleed and "I can't sleep." and...) :-(

Before that, I had an earache for half an hour or so, and then it finally drained a bit, which was even more painful. Once it stopped, it felt much better, but I probably lost an hour's sleep there. :-/

Yeah, I think the cold has grown to include a sinus infection -- one eye is all red and weepy, but it's not puffy or crusty enough to be pink-eye. And my left ear has so much fluid behind the eardrum that I'm almost completely deaf on that side. I always have trouble hearing when I'm not paying attention, but right now even if I am listening, I'm having problems. >:(

At least the decongestant is working. I decided since I'm down to nursing Alex only twice a day, and not pumping at all, that the "drying up" effect that decongestants have wouldn't really be a problem (and, in fact, something of a boon). :-)

But I think I'll probably have to skip my swimming this afternoon. Putting my sinus infection in the water to share with others is just rude. :-(

I'm going to miss it, though. The tight schedule fit is problematic, but I like the swimming, and I'm seeing obvious improvement already. Friday evening, I managed 7 laps. :-)

(When I told Matt, he misheard me as having managed 7 naps. Wow... How awesome would that be?)

We had biscuit pizzas for dinner last night, and as I went to wipe down the stoneware baking sheet, I realized that the bits of loose cheese that had fallen directly on the sheet weren't burnt; they were just browned and nicely crisp. So instead of washing the sheet, I experimented with making cheese crisps, and they turned out amazingly good. And since one "serving" of cheese makes about 8 crisps and has only 1g of carbs, they'll make a good treat for Penny from time to time. (Unfortunately, I don't think they'll keep for more than a day or so without getting chewy and stale.) :-)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

100 Things

I am fascinated by the 100 Thing Challenge.

I don't know if I could do it, but I love the idea. I'd have to think about it in stages: Could I get down to 100 items of clothing? Probably; I had less than 50 in my maternity wardrobe, though by the end I was pretty damn sick of re-wearing the same clothes all the time.

Some stuff wouldn't be hard. I could probably get down to maybe 25 books pretty easily; I've already started trimming down my collection to make room for Matt's, and I don't re-read books nearly as often as I used to. I'd have no problem at all dumping every CD I own -- if something happened and I lost my entire music library, there's no way I'd spend all that time ripping all those CDs again anyway. Our 300-DVD cabinet is slam full, but most of the movies are Matt's, a healthy chunk are Penny's, and I'm fairly sure I could cut "my" movies down to 10 or so pretty easily.

Some stuff would be more difficult. How do I count scrapbooking gear? How do pictures waiting for an album count? How many sheets of paper count as a "thing"? What about scraps? Stickers, pages, cutting tools...

What about all the random kitchen and dining stuff that is technically "family stuff" but that Matt would pretty firmly label as "Liz's" -- like the zester and the chopper, or even all the china and silver that I inherited from my grandmothers?

And most difficult of all -- how would I get the rest of the family to play along?

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm back to "raspy" this morning, thank goodness.

Unfortunately, the muck in my throat has turned into a persistent itch that's making me cough more or less constantly. Didn't I just get over this like a month ago?

I put Alex down for a few minutes yesterday so I could work on lunches while Matt was giving Penny her bath. He was okay for a bit, and then fussed up. I picked him up and calmed him down, then set him down somewhere else. That didn't even last a minute. I talked to him, but was up to my elbows in soapy water, so I figured on just letting him fuss for a bit.

Matt finished with Penny, though, and came down to help out. "This is why boys get taught not to cry," he laughed as he picked Alex up. "Otherwise they'd just cry at everything!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I lost my voice yesterday afternoon.

Well, it's not completely gone, but it might as well be. I don't talk a lot at work, most days, so I'm not sure when it moved beyond simply "raspy," but by the time Matt and the kids got home, I sounded like a pubescent frog. With another frog in its throat. While trying to gargle. And run a marathon.

And that's when there's a sound at all. It's been cutting out for short periods where all I can do is whisper.

The good news is that it's not as bad as it sounds. (If it were that bad, I'd be checking into a hospital right now.) It's mostly just a little bit sore, and kind of thick-feeling. It's worse during the night, but still not horrible.

So the fact that I feel mostly okay meant that I could enjoy Penny's reaction to the sound of my half-gone voice.

"Mommy, why do you sound like that?" she asked, as we were sitting down to dinner.

"BecAUse I'm sICk."

"Does your throat still hurt?"

"YeAh, a LITtlE."

She cast me a sympathetic look across the dining table. "I know," she said, in exactly the tone I reserve for soothing pains that I can't do anything to help. "I know it hurts, I know..." This is more or less what I say, too. She was actually crooning. "You'll feel better soon. I know it's bad, I know. It'll be okay."

If we hadn't been sitting around the dinner table, I think she might've tried to rock me or stroke my hair. I wanted to laugh, because it was so damned adorable, but she probably would've taken it the wrong way.

She went on to suggest that I'd go see a doctor and that the doctor would help me get better. (I didn't try to contradict this -- it's a cold, I'm already doing everything that the doctor would suggest anyway.) The show of empathy was sweet, though.

(Burgeoning empathy did not, however, stop her from picking out one of her longer storybooks for me to read at bedtime. It's a good thing my throat doesn't actually hurt that much...)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Matt: "Go get in jammies, punkin, and then you can pick out books for me and Mommy."

Penny: "Game."

Matt: "Book."

Penny: "Game."

Matt: "Book."

Penny: "Game."

Matt: "Bed."

Penny: "Book."

Ups and Downs

Up: I'm pretty sure now that this isn't strep throat.
Down: I'm also pretty sure that it's not allergies.

Up: I tried a Pilates class yesterday and found it's not too hard on my knee.
Down: My whole torso aches this morning. Especially my arms.

Up: The Pilates class is Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime and is conveniently close to my office, so it fits into my schedule with only a little squeeze.
Down: Lunchtime is also when I try to plan doctor's appointments and other non-office daytime activities. Next week, I've already got four days (including Tuesday and Thursday) scheduled.

Up: Penny was cheerful and even-tempered in the car on the way to school this morning, which was a nice surprise since she was kind of surly all morning up to that point.
Down: She amused herself for a while by drawing on her window with a crayon. When she told me she'd drawn a fountain on the window, I thought she meant with her finger.

Up: Alex would rather be on the floor and rolling than in his exersaucer. I'd swear he's this close to crawling!
Down: He's this close to crawling! (Also, he apparently likes to roll toward danger. I had him in the kitchen last night and he kept rolling toward the oven.)

Up: I actually get to go home after work and relax today (aside from starting dinner and making lunches).
Down: ...I'm pretty sure there isn't a downside to that one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Photo Album Update

The photo album has been updated, for those of you who like pictures.
I had a sore throat yesterday. It was pretty bad when I woke up, but faded to a bare irritation once I was vertical and moving around, so I guessed (hoped) that it was just allergies, and went ahead to the Y for my swim.

(I may not have mentioned that before: I joined the YMCA last week so I could go swimming, which is about the only exercise that my dysfunctional lower limbs will tolerate. I'm considering tacking the kids onto my membership so that on the weekends, I can drop Alex off in the daycare room and take Penny into the kiddie section of the pool and try to teach her how to swim. If they'd had any weekend swim lesson sessions still open, that would've clinched the deal, but they didn't. I'm sure those classes filled up back in April.)

Anyway, by the time I got home, the sore throat was getting worse again. I looked at it last night, and the back of my throat looks red and raw, but doesn't seem to have those telltale white spots that would indicate strep. So I decided I'd give it two or three more days to see what happened. If it starts getting worse (or I see those stupid white spots) I'll call the doctor. If it's not significantly better by Thursday morning, I'll call the doctor anyway, because the last three times I had strep, it pretended to be allergies for several days until a weekend arrived, and then smacked me with the pain so bad I could barely stand to breathe.

But it seems better already today, so hopefully it's just allergies, and I'll be back to normal in a few days.

I'm not entirely certain how long the swimming will last. It fits into my schedule, but it does so tightly -- last night, I left work and went straight to the Y, changed clothes and swam for just a smidge over 20 minutes, then showered and changed and went straight home. Matt and the kids had just gotten home; I went straight into the kitchen and started working on bottles and lunches and dinner and I didn't sit down at all until dinner was served, and then I got right back up and had to clean up the dinner dishes and finish making lunches. (I'm afraid I got a little snippy at Matt about it. It's not that he doesn't help out, but after dinner he wanders into the living room to watch TV or get on the computer unless I specifically give him tasks to do, and I end up clearing the table, putting away the leftovers, loading the dishwasher, washing dishes, and finishing lunches myself. Most of the time I let it go, because he also mows the lawn and does at least 90% of the laundry and changes the cat litter and takes out the trash, but sometimes I feel a little grumpy about it. Maybe we should sit down and make a chore chart for the whole house so I have something to look at to remind myself that however put-upon I feel, things are actually pretty evenly divided.)

Ahem. Pardon the aside. It's possible that I have some Issues.

Where was I going with all that...? Oh, yes. The swimming. I don't know if it will last too long, but I'm resolved to give it at least a month. And I'm going to attempt one or two lunchtime classes at the yoga studio where I took my prenatal yoga classes, but that might have to wait for my knee to heal, since I'm not supposed to do any squatting or other positions that put stress on the knee.

And even if all this goes perfectly, I'll have to figure out something else come September, when Penny starts school and our schedules rearrange.

I've been obsessed with my schedule lately. I can't seem to stop it -- I'm drawing charts, shading in appointments and trying to calculate how long various activities take. I do it over and over. I'm not sure why. Am I trying to figure out how to optimize my day so I can squeeze in something else? Or am I just trying to rationalize my whining?

Monday, June 16, 2008

No Sleep For Joo!

I keep thinking, Ah, when the kids get older and can self-entertain better, I'll be able to get more sleep... if nothing else, it'll be easier to grab a nap on weekend afternoons.

Apparently... not.


The weekend was, all in all, fairly good. We made up a Chore Chart for Penny -- she gets to put a sticker on it every day that she remembers to do her chores, which right now consist of listening to parents and teachers, behaving nicely, and clearing her dishes and trash from the table after meals. (I have this intention, when she turns 5, of adding a 5-minute clean-up period to the end of each day, and participating in that will be part of her chores as well.)

Daycare has been telling us for weeks now that Alex is rolling over, but he hasn't been inclined to demonstrate at home. Until this weekend, when he suddenly turned into a miniature (and sideways) dervish. He can roll back-to-tummy or tummy-to-back, and doesn't seem to prefer one direction over another. He spent a good forty-five minutes Saturday rolling around on the living room floor, scooting from one toy to another and having the time of his life.

I swear at one point, he rolled onto his stomach and very nearly managed to skootch himself up onto hands and knees. I expect he'll be crawling before Penny's birthday.

We went to my parents' for dinner last night to celebrate Father's Day, and since Alex was the Baby Of No Sleep, Mom and John passed him back and forth so Matt and I could eat. Alex was completely fascinated by John's beard -- I think it's the only beard in his little world, come to think of it, since Matt and my dad go clean-shaven and the one male caretaker at daycare only has a mustache.

Of course, from fascination with the beard, it was only one short step to...

Yeah, Alex is that "puts everything in his mouth" baby. And we do mean everything.

Penny wasn't, so much. I can't say she never mouthed things, but we didn't really expect everything to go in her mouth. So this is kind of new for us. And funny, I admit.

Alex also "talks" more than Penny did, and is much more active about reaching and grasping for things. I'm curious to see how different they are as they grow up.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Alex is on the living room floor, rolling from toy to toy (he figured rolling out all at once, it seems, a few days ago, and has achieved semi-mobility). He looks at me every so often, but mostly is content to chew on his toys or his toes. (He's so close to crawling, already... Another month, maybe. Six weeks, tops.)

Penny is in the dining room, playing with play-doh and a my-little-pony knockoff toy at the table and singing a song she's inventing as she sings it. It has no tune to speak of and even less rhythm, but she's happy.

I'm sitting at my computer reading comics and keeping one eye on Alex and one ear on Penny, and otherwise not interfering with them. Matt is taking a shower.

It's been a quiet, cheerful, contented morning for us (even if that morning started before 6).

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Okay, this is an advertisement for a car, but it's still weirdly fun. I've gone four times and haven't stumped it yet.

Crave Reader


Alex has a cold or something. I guess. It doesn't really seem to manifest most of the time, but for the last three or four mornings, he's woken up at 4:30 sharp, coughed for ten minutes or so, and then gone back to sleep for half an hour or an hour. He usually wakes back up cheerful and happy, though this morning he woke up wailing and couldn't be consoled until I got him downstairs.

(When he is weaned, I am so spending a morning in bed. Going back to bed for a nap after being up for two or three hours just doesn't have the same effect as being able to elbow your spouse, say, "It's your turn," and then roll over and go back to sleep. I adore my children, I really do, but some mornings I would kill to be able to sleep until six.)

Matt took Penny yesterday to get her registered for kindergarten. He assembled all the assorted paperwork that they'd told me we'd need (birth certificate and social security card, physical record from the doctor's office including updated vaccinations, not one but two proofs of residency), collected Penny from daycare, and took her to the school.

Where he was promptly handed a half-inch-thick stack of forms. "Will you be filling those out here, or coming back with them later?"

"...Later, I guess."

Among the forms was a Computer Use Policy that Penny had to sign. They start 'em young, these days, getting used to skimming past incomprehensible legal and/or technical babble and scrawling your name at the end with the vaguely uneasy hope that whoever gave it to you knows what they're doing. (What would they have done, I wonder, if she hadn't learned how to write her name yet? As it was, apparently it gave Penny a thrill to write her name in tiny letters, and this morning she was practicing to see how small she could get it. She fit one rendition in the white space of the UPC code on one of her comic books.)

Eventually, Matt finished filling out the forms ("...and as I've written four hundred and ninety-two times, now, the mother's daytime phone number is...") and took her back up to the school to turn them all in. He didn't say if they let her look around or anything, and they probably didn't have much time to tour, anyway, since it was getting on toward the time they needed to go pick Alex up from daycare. (Penny did find two things in the parking lot that filled her with excitement: a feather as long as my forearm, and a painted pawprint for the school mascot. So that's a positive start.)

Now we have nothing of importance to do about school until August, when we have two sessions to attend -- a skills assessment session so they know where to place her, and a meet-and-greet with the kindergarten teachers. Both of these, naturally, are placed awkwardly in the early/mid morning, so as to maximize the amount of vacation time they'll burn.

There will be a meeting probably immediately before school starts with the nurse and whichever teacher she gets so we can review the whole diabetes thing with them, but that isn't scheduled yet.

And that's it. Though probably sometime after her birthday, Penny will get her indoctrination to the back-to-school shopping experience, which is something that filled me with glee straight through college.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review: Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson.

I usually like Gibson's stuff. Like most cyberpunk writers, he's got a major hardon for last-minute deus-ex-machina plot resolutions (though the king of those is Neal Stephenson -- when he's got a plot) but in this one the deus was at least introduced before he got around to the ex machina part of it, so it didn't feel nearly as out of left field.

On the other hand, it annoys me if I can't make sense of a title, and aside from the fact that the main plot revolved around identifying and tracing a digital watermark, I didn't really get any kind of "pattern recognition" resonance out of the book. Oh, sure, I could pull an English major-ish stunt and locate a bunch of examples of pattern recognition in the story, but they didn't resonate as significant.

What's more, I was expecting Gibson to build a pattern for the reader to recognize, and if he did, I completely missed it. Though my pattern recognition skills aren't the sharpest, and I'll admit to having read the book in two to three page spurts, which isn't the best way to sort and process data for patterns, so maybe there's something there after all.

Aside from that disappointment, though, it was a pretty good book. Nothing I'm going to feel compelled to re-read anytime soon (and in another few years, it'll feel hopelessly dated) but I'm not sorry I read it. It had some interesting concepts and a few fun tropes, Gibson is always excellent about characterizations.

All in all, for a book I picked up from the used bookstore, I'm pretty sure I got my money's worth. I give it two thumbs up... but one of them belongs to the Michelin Man.


Penny "graduated" from preschool yesterday.

Pomp and Circumstance

It was a cute ceremony -- the 3-year-old class sang a couple of songs, and then they marched the pre-K class in to "Pomp and Circumstance." (Penny freaked out slightly and ran out again to go to the bathroom.) Her teacher, Ms. Kathy, gave a little speech -- she was so overwhelmed that she could only get it out a few words at a time. Penny came back in, sans cap, and joined her class to sing a couple of songs. They got their "diplomas" and then everyone adjourned to the pre-K classroom for a party.


Of course, Penny had to do a finger-stick test before she could have chips and cake, so we got her kit. Given a fresh audience, she lost all shyness and immediately dropped into lecture mode, demonstrating everything matter-of-factly for the gathered parents. (There's a video of that -- and more pictures -- over on flickr.

Today, Matt is picking her up after lunch to get her registered for kindergarten. He may or may not take her back to school afterward, depending on how long it takes.

Insert "my baby's all grown up" whimpering here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Schedule Joy

Yesterday, as something to do during the weekly manager's meeting, I started to chart out my days. Weekdays only, because the weekends are too sporadic to map. It wasn't fancy -- a grid with day going down and times going across. No space for writing, so I just shaded in all the times that I've got something happening. Travel time, work, cooking, eating, cleaning up, preparing lunches for the next day, getting the kids put to bed, nursing Alex... Shaded it all in.

What I discovered is that my time is very nearly as squashed as I feel like it is. I have 30-45 minutes after work on Mondays and Wednesdays, and an hour on Fridays. (I usually use it to check my email.) Most nights I have about an hour and a half between my shower and when it's time to nurse Alex,though some nights, especially the kids' bath nights, some of that is likely to get eaten up by having to finish the making-lunches chores. I usually spend that hour and a half playing WoW.

...That's it. That's all the time I get for myself. I don't even get a lunch break at work, because I work through lunch in order to get that time after work three days a week, and to offset all the doctor's appointments.

And yet, I'm still considering joining the local YMCA so I can swim for exercise. Mostly because I'm tired of feeling like shit every minute of every day, and the only way past that is to start using my body, make the muscles remember how to move, make the blood remember how to flow, make the heart remember how to beat -- but the only way I can do that without further damaging my knee, hip, or feet (I swear I need to replace the whole lower half of my body) is with swimming. I've tried and tried to come up with another option, and I just can't. Even slow strolling -- which is not aerobic exercise by any stretch -- hurts my knee and leaves my feet screaming for mercy.

So swimming it is. Luckily, the Y is only 10-15 minutes away, and it's new and shiny and pretty and it looks like the swimming pool doesn't usually get too crowded -- when I went to check it out yesterday, I was told that it was crazy-busy, and there were still three swim lanes open.

I'll need to hope I can squeeze into my swimsuit, or else figure out where to get a new one (everyone knows fat chicks don't swim!). And then I guess I'll experiment with squashing a swim into the more open afternoons, or else skip a couple of nights of WoW to swim after Penny's in bed.

Matt has been sort of uncharacteristically unenthusiastic, and I haven't figured out why. Too much time he'd be left with the kids solo? Expecting additional schedule crunch to dump more work on him or make me flip out entirely? Suspicious because the Y is technically a Christian institution? Other stress simply draining his energy for anything else? Whatever. This is something I want to try to do.

Today is Penny's daycare "graduation" ceremony. Expect lots of pictures sometime this afternoon or evening.

Monday, June 9, 2008


It was a fairly good weekend.

I went down to KT's on Saturday for our monthly visit. We made some sushi for lunch and ate with Jess and Kevin, then the two of us went to see the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens Mermaid

I'm not sure how much KT enjoyed it, since I spent most of our time there either bitching about the heat, or limping slowly along the paths trying not to let on that I was feeling dizzy and nauseous. When she'd suggested the gardens, the weather had been mildly overwarm but certainly bearable; this weekend, just for us, it skyrocketed up into triple digits. Half the plants were literally cooking, leaves and petals withering into seared brown around the edges.

So we didn't do the whole park. But we started with the garden we wanted to see the most -- the rose garden -- and despite the quietly frying flowers, we managed to find a lot of impressive beauty. (We wandered about making "back to Alanis" jokes and trying to figure out who would have which flowers. If none of the previous sentence makes sense to you, it's an in-joke based on some gaming and writing we collaborated on.)

Kevil's Rose

Across the river from the rose garden I could see a lot of interesting-looking statues, so we went in search of it. It took longer to get to than it should have -- we had to backtrack to a bridge and then follow a long and winding path around -- but once we got there, the statues were really quite interesting. Apparently they're going to be part of an exhibit on African sculpture that opens in a couple of weeks.


After that, we sat in the lobby for a while to cool off, then went to look at the Japanese garden. That was very nice, too. There was a spot just on one side of the water that we agreed needed a bench or some chairs, because it was the perfect place to just sit and take it all in.

Japanese Garden

(Many more pictures over on my flickr account.)

When I came home, Matt was outside, watching Penny and Ray play in Ray's pool. Alex was asleep, so I went inside (ah, air conditioning!) to wait for him to wake up. While I'd been gone, Matt had taken the kids to the library, where Penny got a free (to keep) book for being an up-and-coming kindergartener, and she found four more books to bring home to read.

Sunday was that peculiar mix of rushed and relaxed that seems to happen to us a lot. Matt mowed the lawn and did the laundry; I did the grocery shopping and went down to Sam's Club for more shopping, and cleaned up the kitchen. And between those, I tried to get some sleep. Every time I went upstairs, it seemed, I'd sit down on the bed with the intention of finishing a chapter in my book, and then wake up an hour later.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Bear with me, here.

So several weeks ago, I saw this post in my RSS feed and fell over laughing and I hit the Share button and added the comment, "I'd love to find the whole thing!" (I use Google Reader, and you should, too. Sharing and being able to tack on notes is awesome. Okay, you need a google/gmail account first, but doesn't everyone already have one, if only for junk mail?)

And then tonight, my RSS feed offered up this post, which when I curiously clicked on the button, led here.

Just as I thought: Hilarious beyond measure.


Who was I kidding, toy store or ice cream? Of course Penny got both!

She was pretty good for the blood draw -- the draw itself was no fun, as she cried and screamed, but she didn't try to jerk away from the nurse, and she calmed down pretty fast afterward. So I took her to Toys R Us and she picked out a toy cell phone with a Batman theme. (It's a pretty awful little toy; it doesn't even have individual number buttons -- just one big button shaped like a keypad -- but Penny thrills when its random-noise generator comes up with one of the Batman voice clips instead of a phone noise.)

I might've also picked up the 12" Batman/Superman set, as long as I was there, for her birthday. Or maybe graduation. We'll see.

On the way to the register, I spotted a cooler with ice cream bars and such in it, and I thought that would be much more convenient than taking her over to Chik-fil-A for ice cream. I guess I figured we'd sit on a bench at the front of the store to eat it, and then go.

Except they didn't have any benches at the front of the store. Or on the sidewalk outside the store. No benches, anywhere. So instead we wound up standing on the little grassy endcap in the parking lot so she could eat her ice cream. In the 95-degree heat. Thank the gods I had a pack of wipes in my car.

(I have to say, there's nothing like filling a syringe in the midst of a busy parking lot to get people to stare.)

I made turkey wraps for dinner last night, and once again, Penny decided she didn't like them. I can't even say she didn't give them a fair try; she ate almost a quarter of hers before she gave up and unrolled it to eat the insides out.

So much for that attempt at an easy and healthy meal option. And now I have a half-dozen or so wrap tortillas in my fridge. Guess I'll be having wraps instead of sandwiches for lunch for a while.

Alex was up at 4:30 this morning. He's been slowly inching his wake-up time back, but this wasn't going to fly. I changed his diaper (tactic #1 has been a dirty diaper) and put him back to bed.

He screamed for ten minutes, and then Matt went in and soothed him into a doze. That lasted until a smidge past five. I thought about getting up -- I usually consider it a fair wake-up after 5am -- but he'd just gotten back to sleep, and the thought of wrangling the tiredfuss for two hours made me tired and fussy. So I went in and rubbed his tummy until he cooled down and fell back to sleep.

That lasted until well after Penny and Matt and I were up -- I picked him up out of the crib around 6:30, I guess.

I need a coffee IV today.

These are possibly the most horrible band-aids I've ever had in my life. As soon as you put them on, the edges peel back and start collecting dirt, which is pretty ubiquitous behavior for any brand of adhesive bandage, but when you give up and pull these off, they leave a scrim of glue on your skin that a) immediately turns black and b) refuses to be cleaned off by any method short of chopping off the offending limb.

Maybe they'd work better on a relatively flat patch of skin like my arm or my leg, but wrapped around my thumb, they're a nightmare.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Penny has discovered the mountain of fun that is Candy Land. We played three games last night, and the last one threatened to run on for an hour until I sneakily started hiding the "jump" cards every time they turned up.

It's an obsessively boring game if you have a mental capacity exceeding the average eight-year-old, but Penny is in love, and her enthusiasm is fun to watch. She was a bit of a sore winner at first, but once she'd lost a few games, her winning behavior improved.

She also exhibits shades of her roleplayer heritage. "Oh, no, I'm stuck! Help!" or "Ooh, I get a cookie! Yum yum yum!" or "Oh, no, it's the scary guy! I need to run fast!" or "Hi, Mommy! Let's share this square!" (The little plastic gingerbread man markers are a family, you see.)

I'm leaving work early today to pick Penny up and take her down to the CHKD satellite in Newport News so they can do a blood draw. She knows it's coming, and she's not enthusiastic, but I told her they weren't going to tape it down and leave it -- they'll get the blood and then take it out and we'll leave.

What I did not tell her yet is that I'm planning to take her for a treat afterwards. Exactly what treat, I'm not sure yet. Maybe I'll take her somewhere for ice cream, or else we'll go to Toys R Us and see if we can find a new Batman toy for her.

Alex woke up around 4:45 this morning. He didn't get fussy until 5:15, but I've still been awake for a long time already this morning.

But on the plus side, my knee is actually starting to feel somewhat better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Yesterday was pretty hectic. Dropped Matt's car off at the dealership, took the kids to school, took Matt to work, did work, went to the orthopedist for my knee, went back to work, picked Matt up, picked the kids up, dropped Matt off to pick up his car, went home, got Penny set up with Dora and Alex with some cereal and pears, and headed back up to the daycare for a Q&A on the change of company.

The orthopedist doesn't think my knee problem is bursitis; he thinks it's a cartilage growth and warned that it will probably take a while to resolve. So I got a cortisone shot and was told to come back in a month, whee. So I'm walking around with a cane today. Amusingly, I discovered last night that putting weight on my leg didn't bother it nearly as much as trying to bend it. So as long as I kept my leg perfectly straight, it was fine. So I'm lurching around like Igor.

The orthopedist was very friendly and enthusiastic. It was nice, though for just one second at the end, I thought he was going to kiss my cheek. (Not intimately, just in that semi-European-greeting way, but it was still a bit disconcerting.)

I feel better for having gone to the daycare Q&A session. We'd been told that the new company (Childcare Network) was going to continue supporting Penny's diabetes care, but I'd rather gotten the impression that it was because they were obligated to do so. Last night I talked to the woman who's taking over as director, and the regional director, and did not remotely get the impression that their attitude was obligatory. The regional director had two diabetic students at her school when she was a school director, so she's done it before, and the new director not only wants to get a backup in place for Penny's teacher, but to eventually have 4-5 people on-site who are trained. So I felt a lot better about that, and I don't think I'll have any qualms about keeping Alex with Childcare Network when Penny starts school (though we'll probably switch to the other location).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Get What You Need

I had this post all planned out, last night. It was going to be an eloquent homage to the schedule of the modern mom, humorous and yet poignant. It probably would've won awards and made me semi-famous and snared me a blogging gig that would let me quit my job and stay home blogging and playing WoW all day.

But then the Suppurating Black Hole Of Doom that was today's probable (lack of) schedule sort of dried up and blew away like a dandelion seed to save its frustrations for another day, and I was left with a schedule that was merely agonizingly busy instead of one requiring that the first item on my day's to-do list be to kidnap Stephen Hawking and Neal Stephenson and lock them in a room together until they produce either a fully-functional time machine or a cloning device.

And I'm leaving in fifteen minutes for an appointment with an orthopedist to try to get my knee fixed. I am trying to not be pessimistic about this, but finding it difficult.

So in brief, the weekend: Mostly good, barring the bit where I tried to cut my thumb off. Penny went to a birthday party on Saturday and had great fun. Matt got Penny's inflatable swimming pool out on Sunday, though it wasn't quite warm enough for anyone but her to really enjoy it. Alex either had a brief cold or a fairly strong teething reaction, and we kept him home from school Monday, but he was clear-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, so off to school he went.

There were many dark omens and near-disasters hovering over Penny's checkup with the endocrinologist yesterday (let's just say it's a good thing Matt and I built in a LOT of extra travel time), but it worked out. Her A1C was 8.2, which the doctor says is great for her age (they prefer little kids to run a bit high). He wants us to begin thinking about putting her on a pump, for greater control, but it's not going to be a short road. It starts with Matt or I attending a class about pumps, which they only hold once a month, on Thursday evenings, which isn't the most inconvenient they could be, but darned close. And when I tried to tell Penny about it, she kind of freaked out at the idea. Also, I'm going to have to take her down to the Oyster Point office for bloodwork on Thursday, which I'm not looking forward to. (It would've been yesterday, but we had promised her that she wasn't going to get an IV or a shot at the hospital, and the doctor was willing to back our promise. Which went a long way toward my liking him, even though I wish they'd told us what to expect in advance.)