Monday, September 29, 2008


I used to have two metal shelves on the wall in the kitchen. They held ten wine glasses of various origin, a pewter wine goblet with a glass bowl, and two glass candlesticks with candles from our wedding service. I also had a fruit basket hanging from one of the shelves, which I knew wasn't the ideal place for it, but it worked well enough that I kept forgetting to go to the store and get a chain so I could suspend the basket from the ceiling and still reach it.

Notice that I said, "used to have."

Penny tried to get a banana out of the fruit basket yesterday at lunch, and it didn't occur to her to take the whole bunch out of the basket before yanking the one she wanted off. The basket jerked the shelf off the wall, and apparently as it fell, it knocked the other shelf off the wall, too.

Three wine glasses somehow managed to survive the fall. Everything else... got smashed to bits. Penny, too panicked to heed me when I told her not to move, ran across the broken glass -- in her bare feet -- to get to me. Miraculously, she did not get cut.

Seven wine glasses, a goblet, and two candlesticks makes for a very impressive mess, I must say.

And since Alex likes to play in the kitchen, I wound up going out to the grocery store to pick up a swiffer, because I didn't trust the broom to have gotten all the little bits up.

So Matt and I pretty much spent the rest of the day being mildly ticked at Penny.

But on the plus side, I've been meaning to get a set of shelves for the kitchen and not getting around to it for a year, now. Now I have incentive, I guess.


Friday, September 26, 2008


I dropped Alex off at daycare this morning, and Ms. Gwen, the morning teacher/caregiver, told me that lately Alex will fall asleep in his crib, but only stay asleep for about half an hour or forty minutes, and then he'll wake up, and the only way they've managed to get him back to sleep is to make a little bed for him in the padded "play pit" with stuffed animals and such.

He is totally playing them.

Still, it's pretty cute -- Ms. Gwen gave me a picture:

s'eepin bebe

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Warcraft jabber, here... I just finished the initial series of Death Knight quests, and... Ya gotta try this!

Even if you don't plan to ever play the death knight once you've gotten past the initial storyline, you should at least experience that much. You do feel kind of shoehorned into everything -- you don't get a any choices for your quests, and you don't get the option to just skip them. They really all have to be done, or you can't progress.

Lich King

But accept that, for the duration. It only lasts 3 levels, and they make it easy for you. I finished the series in three sessions of 1.5 hours, and I was taking my time to do things like read the random books lying around, okay? The XP rewards are freaking huge, the gear rewards are nothing short of amazing (you leave the story entirely clad in blues). They want you to be level 58 or so when you finish, and they make it easy for you. Only a couple of the quests even made me sweat, I only died twice (and once was because I got confused and went the wrong way). It's easy.

So accept the shoehorning for the sake of enjoying the story. Take it slowly. Read the random books lying around, listen to the scripted bits.

Appreciate the fact that the world changes around you. After you've razed the village and slaughtered its inhabitants, guess what? It shows up as razed. It stays that way. You don't wander by on another quest an hour later and see everything back to normal. And those guys who are still on the first quest? They don't see you, and you don't see them. It's the next logical extension of how the world changes when you're dead and you can only see other dead toons and the world around you looks slightly different... only now you can only see other toons who are on the same stage of the story as you, and the world around you looks very different.

And those of you who know me well may find this interesting. This:
...wasn't even the best part.

Fat and Fit

Alex's 9-month checkup was yesterday, as I mentioned.

He's fine and fit and fat (though no fatter than he should be) -- at a smidge over 28" tall and a smidge under 21 pounds, he places at precisely 50% for both height and weight. (Give or take a few percentage points due to squirming during measurement and the proximity of his last meal.)

He now outweighs the cat.

Though the infosheet that came home suggested that he should be getting enough solid food to be down to 3-4 bottles a day, and he's getting more like 5-6 (though that's down from 6-7 just a month ago). Might be time to cut back on the number of bottles we're sending to daycare, have them replace it with juice or water. (I tried him on some diluted juice the other day when he was still hungry after his bottle, and that was a Big Two Thumbs Up!)

I think we're doing okay at home -- he only gets one bottle in the morning, and that'll probably be the last one to disappear from his menu. But I might try stepping up the finger-food program a bit and making sure he gets little pieces of whatever we're having for dinner to gum on, instead of trying to feed him before we eat and then just giving him a few pieces of banana to play with. (Also, to get some more finger-food snacks for the weekends, like cheerios.)

And it's time to start pushing the sippy cups, too, especially if I want him using them instead of bottles for the Christmas trip to Chicago. I'm trying to remember to put the "wings" on his morning bottles, and today I gave him a sippy cup with some juice in it. He managed to get it to his mouth, but then chewed on it instead of sucking. He'll figure it out soon enough.

I'm not obsessing about this, though. I know it looks like it, but that's just because the checkup spiked my awareness and pondering. Alex is obviously doing just fine - he's growing (I realized this morning that I need to purge and reevaluate his stock of clothing again), he's exploring his world, he's learning to navigate and communicate, he loves to play, he recognizes his family and friends (and warms up to new friends fairly easily), he's healthy as the proverbial horse, and he sleeps well (if not on precisely the schedule I'd prefer).

I don't really worry about Alex. (Well, not in the long run. There's obviously still the immediate worries, like keeping him out of the cat's food or the fact that he's really determined to follow Penny up the stairs.) Alex, I get the distinct impression, will get wherever it is that Alex wants to go.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When Things Work

I got to work this morning and started a pot of decaf, then sat down at my computer to read my email.

As I was reading, Outlook popped up a reminder window for me: Alex's 9-month checkup is at 9:30.

Crap. I had completely forgotten about this, even though I remember noticing it when I was going over my calendar Monday morning. Crap crap crap.

But I'd set the reminder to pop up a full hour before the appointment, so I was able to call Matt and he said he'd pick Alex up and take him to the appointment, so all is well.

Good thing I set up that pop-up, though.

I'm slowly trying to push Penny toward a certain level of independence when it comes to school. Her first couple of weeks, I took her to class, prompted her through the morning routine, and gave her hugs and kisses just before she sat at her desk. Then I started standing by the door while she went through the routine, prompting her only if she forgot something, but still waiting to give her hugs and kisses.

This week, I'm doing hugs and kisses at the door as soon as we arrive, without waiting for her to do the routine. It didn't go so well Monday, and I wound up waiting through about half the routine, but yesterday and today she's accepted it without question.

Next week or the week after, I'll wait with her in the lobby until it's time for her to go back to her room, then give her hugs and kisses before she walks down the hall.

Once she's comfortable with that, I'll bring her into the lobby and give her hugs and kisses and let her wait the few minutes for the bell to ring with her friends.

Beyond that... I'm not sure. We usually arrive before the crosswalk monitors are out, so I don't know if I'm comfortable letting her out in the parking lot to walk up to the school by herself. That might be the limit of her independence for this year. We'll see, I guess.

Matt and Penny went to a birthday party for Braz and Emma last night, so it was just Alex and me for the evening. After he ate dinner, I gave him his bath, and since there was no one else waiting to eat, I got to sit back and let him play in the water for a while.

Oh my lord, did he have fun. He smacked the water with a cup, and he splashed with his hands, and he flirted with his reflection in the plumbing cap. He tried to rub his face on the water (this is something he does with blankets and especially soft toys) and was confused but not upset when this turned out to be a bad idea. When he leaned over to put his face in the water, I nearly panicked and picked him up, but I decided he needed to experience it himself. I was ready to pick him up if he didn't sit back up on his own, of course, but he did. A minute later, he tried it again, but much more tentatively, and this time instead of dunking his whole face in the water, he pulled back and sat up after only getting his chin and the tip of his nose wet. Learning in action! It made me glad I'd restrained myself and let him experiment.

I only got him out of the tub when he got insistent about trying to stand up. It was fun, and I wished I'd had my camera with me. He was so excited about getting to play in the bath that he was even happy to play on the kitchen floor for most of the time it took me to make lunches (though I did take the precaution of putting a large box over the cat's food and water to keep him out of that). When I put him to bed, he stayed awake for longer than usual -- not fussing, but cheerfully talking to his toys and his blanket.

Learning: It does a baby good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WoW beta

Hah! Got my WoW beta screenshots uploaded this morning in spite of Alex's fussing. (I'm not going into lots of detail, but if low-level quest spoilers are a problem for you, you might want to move on now.)

Try as I might, I could not get a screenshot that showed everything I wanted it to of this vantage point. To the left is the rolling tundra, with herds of grazing rhinos. To the right is a beach covered with ruins and wrecked ships. Over it all is the aurora borealis. The walrus-looking dude that I'm talking to is called a Tuskar, and he wants me to go down to the beach and kill the guys who destroyed his village. ...Um, dude, there's nothing but crabs down there.

Or maybe not. Once you actually get to the beach, your vision goes all wobbly and you can see all the Humanoid hostile mobs. They're pretty tough, but no match for me and Tinkerbelle. When you kill them, they turn into vaguely man-shaped plops of seaweed. (I couldn't get a decent screenshot of that.)

The tundra is covered with herds of rhino. Occasionally, the Horde zeppelin flies past.

Here's my Death Knight, having a friendly chat with the Lich King. As I recall, he said something like, "Go forth and lay waste to all who would oppose us: torture their warriors, desecrate their priests, and slaughter their common citizens. When they have fallen screaming under your blade, drink the blood from their empty skulls and feed the rotting carcasses to your ghouls." And I said, "You got it, boss." (He doesn't really have wings. There's a ghost/valkyrie thing behind him, but I noticed that if I stood in just the right spot, it looked like he has wings, and I thought it was cool.)
Lich King

This one is for Karen, really. Look! New fish! (Why yes, for those of you who were wondering... I did tame a Corehound, and I did name it Tinkerbelle. I cannot tell you how many whispers I've had to compliment me on that name.)


(While I am in the kitchen, cleaning up after yet another meal that Penny has declared too yucky to eat...)

"Mommy, I'm making a surprise for you and Daddy."

"That's very nice of you, sweetie."

"Do you know why I'm making a surprise?"

"No, why?"

"Because you make chicken nuggets on Tuesdays, and I like them so much!"

Apparently, she is a budding psychiatrist.

(This morning, at 5:40 am...)

"Mommy, I want to get up."

"It's still sleepy-time, Penny. Go back to bed."

"But the long hand is on the twelve and the short hand is on the six."

"No, it isn't."

"It is in my room!"

"... Let's go see." Sure enough, her clock is set to 6. "Penny, did you move it?"


Maybe she'll be a lawyer, instead.

The first sound that Penny deliberately copied and repeated back to us was a monkey noise. "Oo-oo-ah-ah!" Surprisingly, she learned that from me, not Matt.

Alex, on the other hand, has copied his first sound from my father, who taught him to say, "Uh-oh!"

I think Alex isn't going for a profession so much as an archetype: Trickster.

Monday, September 22, 2008


So Jill was here this weekend, and a good time was had by all. Especially Penny, I expect.

She handled the division of Jill's attention between her and Alex with surprising grace. She did maneuver for extra attention, of course (she's a 5-year-old, not a saint) but she managed to do it without an excess of whining or bad behavior. Mostly, she would sidle up and play with both Jill and Alex for a bit, and then say, "Grandma, would you like to come upstairs and play in my room?"

Penny and Jill

Jill obliged her a few times, since she'd gotten her quota of time with Alex while Penny was next door playing with Ray.

And Alex, of course, is still too young to understand when he's been ditched. He was a little uncertain about Jill at first, but he warmed up to her pretty quickly. (He's a sucker for being tickled.)

Alex and Jill

I'd known Jill would be excited by Alex's advances -- he was only 5 weeks old when she saw him last, after all -- but the thing that I hadn't really considered until she got here was the change in Penny.

The last time Jill was here was the weekend Penny was diagnosed with diabetes. She'd been listless and unable to muster enthusiasm even for her beloved Grandma Jill, even for making cookies with Grandma Jill (which was the activity I'd tried to tempt her with). Even after we'd gotten her to the hospital and she started improving, she will still pretty sick, and was nowhere near a normal energy level.

So seven months later, with Penny back to normal and full of life and verve, with the boundless energy and nonstop chatter -- it must have been a wonderful contrast for Jill.

I finally found the time last night to really immerse myself in the WoW beta -- I'd picked up an "exotic" pet for my hunter over the weekend and had fun running it around, but last night I made a Death Knight, which is the new class they're introducing.

I'd have screenshots for you, but Alex was being a fusspot this morning, so I didn't get a chance to upload any. But holy crap is it amazing.

I have some suggestions for improving the first few quests so you get a better feel for what your abilities are, but you can tell they've lavished a lot of attention on this - the whole starting area is scattered with incidental details (like readable books) that really lend to the atmosphere.

And they waste no time in letting you know that you're amongst the bad guys. The first thing I was told to do, after leaving the citadel, was to slaughter hapless peasants. And they really are hapless -- unless you use the ability that forces your target to fight for a few seconds, they just quiver in fear and beg while you strike them down.

(I have to say, it made filling out the quest surveys a little weird. "How fun was this quest - Not at all; A little fun; Pretty fun; or A lot of fun?" Er... is "immersive enough to make me feel uncomfortable" an option? In case you're wondering, I rated it "a lot of fun" on the theory that the point of the quest, from a game/storyline perspective, was to make me feel uncomfortable, and it had accomplished that quite well. But like I said, it felt kind of weird.)

So I spent an hour and a half last night slaughtering innocents, stealing their livestock for my own fell purposes, turning them into ghouls, and dueling with my fellow death knights. The duel quest had an interesting twist - the quest requires you to win 5 duels against other death knights, but for those of us who suck at PvP, there are NPC death knights who fight with game AI. I did accept the player duels offered to me, but I uniformly lost those -- not having a mouse is a big handicap in PvP. I did better than I expected to, though, generally getting my opponents down to the 5% mark.

And I'll probably do it again tonight. Mua-ha-ha.

Friday, September 19, 2008

So I've been writing again, lately.

The bad news is that I'm not writing anything new. I'm re-doing a piece that KT and I did several years ago, with an eye to polishing it up and finishing it.

But I'm calling it writing instead of editing because the part I started with is being completely rewritten. It's meant to read as if it was a personal diary, and it just didn't have that feel, for me, so I'm trying to see if I can get it there without losing the character's "voice".

The cool part is that it's a fun challenge - the character is writing in a language that he speaks fairly well, but is only now learning how to read. He's going from a character-based system (e.g., kanji) to an alphabet-based one, which has to be really strange for him, and I'm trying to show it by throwing in spelling errors (but not grammatical ones, because as I said, he speaks the language well) and having them slowly disappear as he learns the rules. But at the same time, I need to have those errors not be so egregious that it's completely unreadable (which is tough, because he likes to use big words), and I have to make them be pretty much entirely gone by the time we get to the part of the chapter with the heavy action, because if the reader has to stop and figure out what he's saying, then it will ruin the flow and the mood.

So yeah, a fun challenge, and I've written somewhere over 2000 words this week, which feels really, really good.

So my mother-in-law is coming for a visit this weekend. It's a short one -- she's flying in today and then leaving again Sunday. Despite Penny's pleading, she's staying at a hotel instead of sleeping on the air mattress. ("Grandma does not want to sleep on the floor, sweetie," I said. "It's not the floor, it's the mattress!" Penny protested.)

For the first time, I'm not completely stressed about how the house looks. We cleaned off all the detritus on the dining table last night, but otherwise the house is not too bad.

(If I needed a reason to keep doing the nightly clean-up, there it is.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No wacky dreams last night. Though Alex did still wake up at 4:30 and need a fresh diaper, and then I had trouble getting back to sleep, so I'm not altogether at my best this morning.

(I know, I know - like that's different from any other morning.)

Penny seems to be making social gains at school. She told me last night that she played super powers with two or three other kids (most of whose names she still can't - or won't - remember). And this morning as we were waiting in the lobby, Liam came up and said hello to her, and Penny wandered off to chat with him without a qualm, and when it was time to go to class, the two of them went together, me trailing behind calling, "Don't run! Don't run! Don't run!" (The teachers and aides standing in the hallway all gave me that sympathetic, "We appreciate you trying even though we all know it's useless" half-smile.)

So that's a good thing.

In contrast to the rest of the morning, in which I discovered that Penny's pears are starting to go brown and bad; the Roomba's battery has ceased to hold a charge; Alex broke my necklace while trying to cling to me when I put him down at daycare, then set up a wail when I walked away that made the other babies follow suit; and Penny got to class and discovered her ring was missing.

Here's hoping things will turn around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


It wasn't the most restful of nights last night.

For a change, Penny didn't wake up to complain of bad dreams or being unable to sleep, but Alex started making noise around 3:30, and since he's had a diaper rash for the last couple of days, I got up to change his diaper so he'd stay clean and dry. Luckily, he went back to sleep after only a few token protests.

Added to that were the dreams.

In the first, I was someone else, a poverty-stricken man with a wife and kids, being accosted by a gangster to whom I owed money and was unable to pay. It was bad enough when I thought he was going to double the already exorbitant interest rate, but then he indicated that he'd given up on my being able to pay and he was simply going to make an example of me... I woke up in a cold sweat.

The hell was that about? We're pretty stable financially right now; money is always a concern (especially with the latest economic shenanigans) but it's not a major issue for us. (Heck, the financial burden just eased, what with Penny leaving daycare for public school.)

Maybe it's not money at all. Maybe it's about time, and the way that I don't, that I can't have enough time for all the things I want to do. Still, it was a pretty severe dream, especially since I'd just gotten around to thinking I might have made a certain peace with my schedule. So maybe that's not it, either. What debts or deficits do I have that are approaching danger levels? I don't know.

And then there was the dream, close to morning, that -- for no reason I could tell -- Matt bonked me on the head with a... I'm not sure what it was, except that it was filthy, and it left a smear of shit in my hair. No, I don't mean "shit" as in "random stuff," I mean "shit" as in "poop."

The smell was palpable, even in the dream, and I was somewhere that I couldn't just go wash it out, I had to carry on with my day and pretend that I didn't have a glop of excrement on my head.

I don't know what my subconscious was trying to tell me about there, either. Do I feel like Matt is dumping too much on me? Not that I'm aware of. (Okay, I admit to a touch of resentment if he fires up WoW while I'm cooking and cleaning and making lunches, but he doesn't do that very often -- he's usually chasing Alex around, keeping him from eating used kleenex and catfood while I'm doing the evening chores.)

Maybe it wasn't really Matt in the dream, but that he was a stand-in symbol for the whole parenting gig. Maybe I'm resenting all the extra work that goes with that. Which wouldn't really surprise me. It's no secret that I don't deal as well with babies as with older kids. As much as I love Alex, I look forward to his walking, to feeding himself, to talking, to being out of diapers.

I don't know if that's ringing true, either, though.

Maybe they don't mean anything. Maybe I just got a bad chicken nugget.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beta Max

Guess what I did last night...

Stormwind Harbor

Yep, I finally got logged into the Wrath of the Lich King beta. Of course, I spent most of my two hours trying to fix things like resetting my key bindings, figuring out what they'd done with the mounts, and dealing with horrendous lag. (And submitting bug reports. Graphics were glitchy, half my character's special abilities were borked, my mana didn't regenerate, and I found typos in some of the scripted text.)

Still, it was very pretty.

Sunset Flight

And I did eventually find my way over to the new play area. I did a couple of "go talk to the guy" quests, and one "kill X creatures" quest, but the new play area was so horribly mobbed that the lag made any kind of playing simply impossible. My computer locked up at one point, and by the time I'd rebooted and gotten back into the game, it was getting late, so all I really had time to do was hop the boat back to a less obnoxiously-crowded zone.

But the new zone looks pretty cool, and even the "talk to a guy" quests were obviously laying groundwork for some really interesting storylines.

Northrend Harbor

I'm looking forward to playing around some more soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Everything In Its Time

On the way in to school with Penny this morning:

"Mommy, do you want me to be sixteen?"

"Well... not right now. But when it's time for you to be sixteen, I do."

"Do you want me to be twenty?"

"When it's time for you to be twenty, I hope you'll be the best twenty you can."

"What's the best twenty?"

"Well, smart, and using your brain to think about things, and good and nice... Though really, that stuff is good all the time, isn't it?"

"Not all the time!"

"Sure it is. It's good to be smart and to use your brain to think, and-"

"Not all the time!"

"When is it not good?"

"When you're asleep."

"...Okay. I guess you're right."

"Yeah. When you're asleep, your brain should rest."

Weekend Stuff

Another fairly calm weekend. We packed the kids up and took them down to my parents' for a few hours on Saturday. Penny and Alex both had loads of fun, and my folks had a good time, too.

We spent Sunday not doing much of anything - the usual chores, of course, but otherwise just hanging around the house.

I finally got around to watching Phantom of the Opera, which I've had sitting around forever. (Mini-review: All in all, it was okay. It might've been more moving if I'd been able to watch it all at once, instead of in increments throughout the day. But maybe not. I found the bad lip-syncing terribly distracting and I did not like the contrived back-story they came up with for the Phantom. He didn't need it. But at least the singing was good, and the changes they made to the score mostly made sense, in the interest of keeping the movie less than three hours long. And the costumes and sets were amazing.)

It looks like my dad is going to be coming over every Thursday to pick Penny up - it's easier for him to do that than trying to keep track of whether it's Matt's meeting week. Matt will probably still come home in the afternoons, he says, but at least Dad being there will help keep Penny occupied and out of Matt's hair while he tries to work.

I decided to go for it with the Lich King beta; I signed up yesterday and got my character transferred and started downloading the files. Of course, there's patches to consider as well, so I'm not sure when I'll actually be able to play. Maybe tonight. We'll see. I'll be sure to go over it occasionally.

And that's about it. This week looks relatively tame, so far, until Friday, when Matt's mom is coming to town for the weekend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sex, Drugs, and...

We got a notice that our county was slightly changing their "Family Life" curriculum, and inviting parents to a meeting at the school to see the changes and review the material for our children's classes.

("Family Life" is what they call the lessons relating to sex, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other such touchy topics.)

We didn't care so much about the change -- we hadn't known what it was before, after all -- but we were interested in finding out what they'd be teaching our five-year-old about sex and drugs, so Matt went to the meeting last night. I expected him to be gone about an hour, maybe a bit more.

He was home half an hour later.

"There were maybe twenty-five parents there," he told me, "and a few kids."

"That's all?"

"Last year, they had maybe five," he said. "They had to go make extra copies of the handouts."

Which just boggles my mind. I mean, I absolutely support these initiatives, but that doesn't mean I don't want to know what they're telling her!

It turns out that in kindergarten and first grade, they only have one class a year, and its focus is on how to respond to child molestation. Not that the handout used that phrase -- which I actually appreciated, because the handout gave us a feel for the language they'll be using with the kids. How to tell the difference between "good" touching and "bad" touching, and what to do about it. Important stuff, and I didn't see anything in their description that I disagreed with or thought was too far over Penny's head.

There were a list of supporting activities for the classroom at the bottom of the sheet, though, and one of them both intrigued and amused me. The first two activities referenced a book and a movie based on the book, with a title that I can't remember but that my brain wants to fill in with Our Bodies, Ourselves which definitely isn't it. Anyway, the second one said, "The teacher may read [book title] to the class, except pages 14-27, which will not be read."

...I really want to know what's on pages 14-27, now! (Matt asked to see the book during the meeting, and was told that they don't have it and it won't be used -- one of the other supporting activities will be.)

Second and third graders will also have only one lesson, but a different one -- possibly drug avoidance -- and then fourth and fifth graders get two lessons, one of which is the "Okay, all the boys are going to go to Mr. Smith's room, and the girls are all coming over here..." Puberty-Is-Upon-Us lecture. Matt said the guidance counselor seemed to have trouble using sex-related words during the meeting, so he really wished he could be there for these lessons, just to watch her stammer through them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wow. I mean, WoW.

So, I uh.

I got invited to the Warcraft expansion beta. Which is exciting!

But here's the thing: I signed up on a whim, and now I'm not entirely sure I want to do it. I don't have a lot of play time, for one thing, and I don't know how useful a beta tester would be if she's only playing a couple of hours a week.

(On the other hand, who knows? I don't know how many ultra-casual players they have in the beta, so it's a viewpoint worth considering.)

Still, I don't know if I want to have it spoiled for me. I mean, I'm enjoying reading about it on the news sites, but I don't know if I want to copy my one high-level character (who's still wearing some greens, for petesake) to the beta realm and run her around testing out quests and pets and talent builds and achievements, only to have to do it all over again when the expansion actually appears.

(On the other hand... OMG the awesome pets! Moths! And rhinos, for petesake! Sooooo wanna try those out!!!)

So I'm... thinking about it. Pondering. Considering. Combobulating.


Oops. I could have sworn I did a post yesterday, but... I guess not. Getting to work early must have discombobulated me or something.

Not that there's much to report, right now. Penny's doing better than I expected with kindergarten, and she loves doing the worksheets and working on her writing (which is good, because that's what Matt's doing with her in the afternoons to keep her busy while he works).

Her sugars seem to have settled down a lot, too -- she's been in-range or close to it pretty much all this week. So I guess we're chalking last week up to the stress of starting school with its new routines and strange people. She had an appointment with her endocrinologist yesterday, and her A1C was 7.6, down from 8.2 in June, which is fantastic, really.

Alex is Mr. Anxiety Mommy-Don't-Leave-Me at home -- if I walk into another room, he follows me just as fast as his chubby little legs can crawl -- but when I drop him off at school, he's all smiles and, "Mom? Mom who?" So that's good. He may still develop separation anxiety at some point, but it's not now.

Of course, the infant "class" at daycare currently consists of two boys and five girls, not counting the teachers. I like to make jokes about dropping Alex off to hang with his girlfriends. (Unfortunately, that means that if he winds up wearing someone's spare bib, it's going to be pink and say something about being a princess. I guess if he turns out to be gay, we can blame it on daycare sending him confusing gender signals.)

(That was a joke. ...It'll be my fault for not getting around to taking down the feminine curtains that are in his room, of course.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I had an hour yesterday with nothing in particular to work on, and I thought I'd get my photo album all caught up, since the last time I updated it was at the end of July, and we're now into September.

Except that, apparently, I uploaded oodles of pictures to Flickr, but didn't copy any of them to my thumb drive. Getting the pictures back from Flickr was pretty much out of the question because my 'net connection is just absurdly slow in the afternoons (stupid corporate network; I can actually feel the enormous chunk when the west coast gets to work and logs in right around lunchtime for me).

So I... didn't do much of anything. I used to have dozens of little projects to work on when I had time, but now I can't remember what they were. Theoretically, I have a writing project I could be working on, but I can't seem to pull the pieces together in my head, and until I work out a decent actual plot, it's just a character exercise. (I do awesome character exercises -- I really do! -- but it doesn't really hold a reader for long if nothing is happening.)

I didn't even really surf around -- cf. two paragraphs up and the slow network.

I need to come up with some projects.

Having Penny take a snack at mid-morning seems to have done the trick! Her sugars were in range every time we checked her for the whole rest of the day, whoo!

(I'm looking at her chart from the last week right now, because I need to fax it in later, and we're burning through test strips like water -- she gets 5 shots a day, but we're checking her glucose level 6-10 times a day. We need to a) order more, and b) make sure we've got enough refills to get to December before her endo appointment tomorrow.)

Alex is doing great. As much as he's Mama's Boy at home, when we get him to daycare, he's all about getting down in the play area and babbling at his girlfriends (when I drop him off in the morning, there's always 2 or 3 little girl babies, and no other boys, and he's always so happy to see them!)

I made a crockpot recipe yesterday that turned out really well, so I think it's a keeper -- pork roast with onions. I'd meant to make potatoes with it, too, but forgot to put them in the pot, so we didn't have potatoes. I put some strawberries on the plates to fill up the empty space that the potatoes would have filled, and it might have been even better that way.

Penny even ate it, which is a bonus - she's a little picky when it comes to meats. There's a dish that we'll be eating again!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hannah Banana

Hurricane? What hurricane?

We didn't have a big storm. We didn't have a lot of wind. We had a rainy day. Once or twice, the rain came down fairly heavily, but it didn't last long. We never lost power. The neighborhood roads had a thin coating of downed brown leaves and pine needles on Sunday, but the winds hadn't been strong enough to pull green off the trees.

Most everyplace was closed, though, in anticipation, so I put off going to the Y until Sunday, and we logged into the library's website to renew our library books instead of taking them back. (Maybe we'll take them back in two weeks, when Jill is visiting. Not only can she help keep an eye on the kids while Matt and I are browsing the shelves, but I expect Penny would love picking out books for Jill to read to her.)

So it was a pretty relaxed weekend. We spent a lot of time at home. Penny's sugars magically leveled out, which lends some credence to the "stress high" theory.

Alex crawled all over the house, either chasing after me (he was Mama's Boy all weekend) or trying to get to the cat's food and water, which has some kind of weird fascination for him. He's pulling to standing with barely an effort now, so I expect it won't be too long before he figures out that if he moves his feet while he's holding on to the couch, he can get from one side to the other.

We also tried him on some Actual Food this weekend - small pieces of banana. They were a Big Hit, and he shrieked with fury when they were all gone. It was fun watching him try to pick them up, though; his manual dexterity isn't all that great, and banana bits are kind of slippery. He'd try to pick one up, and it would squirt away from him. Doggedly, he'd try again -- our boy is nothing if not persistent. He chased one piece all over his tray, up his arm, and down his leg.

He's so much more verbal than Penny was at this stage, I'm tempted to think he'll be an early talker. His most-used baby phrases are "ma ma ma ma" and something that sounds like "qua quo." On one hand, it seemed like he said "ma ma ma ma" most often says it when I was holding him or he was crawling toward me -- but then, he was crawling toward me or in my lap pretty much all freaking weekend, so it's probably a bit of a stretch to think that it actually has anything to do with me.

(It also amuses me to wonder if he's so verbal because, unlike Penny, he's had no ear infections or other problems to interfere with his hearing; or if it's got more to do with the fact that Alex has Penny -- who never shuts up -- for an example and role model.)

We're trying something new for Penny this week -- sending her to school with a snack to have around mid-morning, hopefully to stave off the lows that have been hammering her before lunch every day. It's a tiny, "no-shot" snack -- just two cheese crackers, today -- but that 8g of carbs should give her blood sugar a boost and keep her body from going into starvation panic mode, which is mostly what we expect is causing the lows. The human body is a weird and wonderful thing.

I was going to say that it looks like it's going to be a mildly crazy week, but it's not really that bad. Penny has an endo checkup on Wednesday that Matt will be taking her to, and I've got a couple of random appointments in addition to my allergy shots and such, but it should all work out okay. I'll even be able to fit one or two of my exercise sessions in during the day, so most of my evenings will be more normal and relaxed than last week, when it seemed I was running around like a headless chicken.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Corporate Humbug

Just got this email from my company's Human Resources. (Various identifiers removed.)

Be Mindful of Year-End Spending

With the holidays approaching, we want to remind you to continue to be mindful of spending, especially when considering year-end recognition events, as well as holiday celebrations.

While we encourage these occasions that positively impact employee morale, Procedure [blah] (enclosed) [sic - it wasn't actually enclosed] states that event planning should reflect sound judgment, moderation and a commitment to minimize the appearance of extravagance, despite financial resources that may be more readily available within particular business groups.

Please note that [Procedure Blah] provides guidance on things to consider when planning this type of celebration to ensure a sense of fairness across the sector and avoid any appearance of impropriety. If questions of "appropriateness" surface regarding elements of recognition or holiday event planning, please contact your group HR business leader for guidance.

Thank you for your continued commitment and support.

...Wow. HR has really outdone themselves with this one! A reminder that we need to start planning the annual winter office "party" combined with an admonishment not to do anything that might actually be fun!


Set Anecdote

I almost forgot the funniest bit of the whole pump set thing.

This morning, while dropping Alex off at daycare, Penny was excitedly
telling everyone she knew about it, which led to this exchange:

"Mommy, show Ms. Melissa your sticker!"

"Honey, it's on my tummy. I'd have to lift up my dress, and I don't
really want everyone to see my panties."

"...Mommy, you should wear a shirt."

A Hole in the Bucket

So I took Penny to CHKD last night for a class on insulin pumps.

They recommend one of four different pumps -- they all work pretty much the same way, and the difference between the four brands is a question of what's going to fit your lifestyle the best, and which bells and whistles mean the most.

At the class, we got to actually put our hands on the devices, punch in a bolus (obviously the pumps weren't attached to anyone or filled with insulin, but we could see how it worked), scroll through the menus, feel the weight of them, test the doohickey for applying the set... It was crowded (there were probably a dozen families there, and because of renovations to the usual teaching room, we were in a smaller conference room) but it was all interesting.

Penny was having none of it. All the technical talk was boring, and she DIDN'T. WANT. A. PUMP.

No one could get her to articulate a reason. I got her to actually hold one of the sample pumps, but when we tried to get her to push buttons, she shoved it nervously back into the sales rep's hands as if she thought it was going to jump up and give her a shot.

She wasn't interested, and nothing we could say changed her mind. "I just want to keep getting my shots," she said, over and over, being as patient as she could muster with these Dumb Adults who obviously were not listening.

So, fine, she's not interested, and she doesn't want it, and she's not ready for it. We'll keep asking her about it, I guess, and maybe in six months or a year or so, she'll be ready to try it. That's fine; the technology can only improve, and maybe by the time she's ready for it, there will be more combination pump/continuous glucose monitors (one of the units we looked at last night was CGM capable, though the CGM piece is sold separately and requires more hurdle-jumping with the insurance companies) and more bells and whistles to tempt her.

Finally, in a last-ditch effort to convince her to at least consider it, I offered to let the nurse put a set in me. I'd have done this anyway, if she'd wanted a pump -- if I'm going to be sticking things in my child, I'd like to at least have an idea for what it feels like, if only so I know how much whining is real and how much is for show.

Penny was all for this. "I'll hold your hand," she told me, very seriously. I admit to being a little nervous at first -- let's not lie; the needles are pretty long and (since they're threading a tiny piece of tubing) somewhat thicker than the itty bitty baby needles on Penny's shots. But they go in at an angle, rather than straight, and that made quite a difference, weirdly -- it actually hurt less than one of Penny's insulin needles. No, really. The nurse slid it in and I got the tiniest of pinches, and she pulled the backing off the tape and patted it into place, and then she pulled the needle out, and then patted the other half of tape into place, and that was it. Took all of about 10 seconds.

(The tubing for the pump then clips into the plastic grommet, and the pump itself goes in your pocket or clips to your belt or whatever. Most of the devices also have a remote control, so if you wanted to keep your pump completely hidden under a loose shirt or a skirt, you'd never even have to take it out to dose yourself. Which is good to know, because Penny loves wearing dresses, and while I'd figured out some hacks for letting her wear a pump with a dress, I couldn't quite figure out how to do dosing without showing off her Hello Kitty underwear to the world.)

So I'm wearing this for a few days (you change them at least every 3 days on the pump) to see what it feels like.

So far: It doesn't feel like much of anything. No random pinching or twinging, and certainly no pain. I did have a moment when I went to the bathroom this morning, when I leaned over to reach for the toilet paper and my boob scraped against the plastic grommet. It didn't hurt; it was just startling, because I'd forgotten about the set being there. And even that could be avoided by putting it in a different location, like my side or my hip. (And obviously, Penny won't have to worry about boobs at all for at least another five years or so.)

So anyway, I'm still enthusiastic about the idea of a pump. I think it could really help Penny's sugar control, and fewer shots is a bonus, and would make so many things easier. We'll keep pushing the idea, and maybe eventually she'll come around.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Penny's sugars were fine last night and this morning, and she ate a normal-sized breakfast, and I gave her her shot, and took her to school.

And after yesterday's fantastic drop-off, today she was clingy and a little whiny, and while she didn't start crying, I did have to more or less pry her off my neck. I wondered why.

I hadn't been at work for a whole half-hour before the school nurse called to tell me that Penny had complained of feeling low (she always goes for "low", since it carries the possibility of an extra snack) and the glucose test came back at over freaking 400.

Seriously? It's like the breakfast shot was just water. It's exactly like that, in fact -- the math confirms it (assuming that 25g of carbs is equivalent to about 150 points of BG).

I told the nurse to wait until about 9:30 just to be sure that the insulin in her system gets processed, and then test her again, and do a correction.

The insulin cartridge is supposed to be swapped out this weekend -- they lose effectiveness after about 4 weeks -- but I'm wondering if perhaps the current cartridge didn't decide to crap out early on us. It would explain why she's been so crazy high the last few days.

Of course, if the insulin isn't working, then the correction at 9:30 or so won't do any good, either. We'll see, I guess. If she's still running crazy high and not coming down by 10:30, I'll run home and get a fresh cartridge to try.

And either way, I'll swap the cartridge out at snacktime today. 'Cause this is just ridiculous. She'd been doing so well, the last couple of weeks.

And tonight, after she finishes her snack, I'm taking her down to Norfolk for a class on insulin pumps. (Penny still insists that she does not want a pump, that she wants to keep taking her shots. I've told her that she doesn't have to get a pump if she doesn't want one, but that we're just going to go to the class to learn about them anyway, in case she changes her mind.)

That class runs from 5:30 - 8:30. They'll feed us, at least, but I suspect Penny is going to be really bored with it by the time it's done. And since we're driving back from Norfolk, I doubt we'll be home much before 10. Whee...

Today isn't going to go into my book as one of my favorite days ever, I'm pretty sure.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Backing Up

So: Kindergarten went very well. Penny's blood sugar was pretty low at lunch, but that wasn't unexpected. We'll figure out how to deal with it over time. She had pizza and chocolate milk for lunch, and was pleased as punch. The really telling bit is that this morning, I had not a single tear, whine, or request to stay home - she chattered happily all morning and didn't even look apprehensive when I kissed her goodbye and left her in her classroom! Whoo!

She did, unfortunately, run high all afternoon, last night, and into today. I suspect the pizza is at fault, so we may have to go back to packing a lunch for her. Dangit. I like the freedom of the school lunch. But at least she'll eat sandwiches now, so it's just another unit to add to the usual assembly line of lunches for Matt and I.

And in the kindergarten excitement yesterday, I forgot to talk about the long weekend!

It was a nice one. I'd been so frustrated about not getting to exercise that Matt got up at 8:30 (even though it was his "sleep-in" day) so I could go to the gym. (Alex had woken me up at 5; my joke for the rest of the day was, "Would you believe me if I said I got up at 5 and went to the gym?") Jokes aside, I appreciated it. I felt so much better after I got in my half-hour of biking! (Seriously. I keep thinking about trying to find one for the house so I could work out without having to factor in transportation time or childcare, but I'm afraid to find out how much it would cost.)

Just about the time I was back from that and changed clothes, my parents came over and took Penny and I shopping; they got her some clothes for school and a few school supplies and let her pick out a toy. After that, I took them out to lunch for Mom's birthday. It was nice to get to sit and talk with them without the kids interfering.

Sunday we went over to their house for a communal birthday party - Sam, Penny, Mom, and John's! There were two cakes -- a pineapple upside-down cake, which is Sam's absolute favorite, and a strawberry angelfood cake which had been "iced" with Cool Whip flavored with raspberries. (Penny bragged about having helped me make the pineapple cake, but since it had no icing, she was not interested in actually eating any. Which worked out fine, because angelfood cake and Cool Whip is much lower in carbs.) I took pictures, but haven't been able to post them yet. I'd meant to get to it this morning, but the mornings are pretty crazy.

Monday, we stayed home and relaxed all day. Whahoo! KT's 7th Sea game had a combat session, and Matt was awesome again and wrangled the kids while I was bashing heads. (And I did bash heads. I always like it when I manage to be effective in a game.)

Anyway, that was the weekend, and I think, despite all my fretting about it, that I'm going to settle into the new schedule okay. I just have to accept that it's like jello salad - you don't know how all the bits are going to fit until it starts to set up.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day Of School

Today was the day. We've been talking up kindergarten for weeks, and the day finally arrived.

We managed it with only a little whining, and no tears from either of us!

I woke Penny up at 6:15 this morning. "Time to get up and get dressed, sweetie."

"Mom! It's not even morning yet!"

She picked out a new dress and socks and got dressed, and came downstairs to have breakfast. She ate while Alex chased the cat (did I mention he's crawling?) from the living room through the dining room all the way to the kitchen, then got sidetracked trying to get into the cat's food. I distracted him with the rest of his morning bottle. Penny finished breakfast, then put on her shoes while she was watching Dora. (She's getting pretty good with the first step of shoe-tying!)

I wanted to leave at 7:15, which gave us a full hour to get both kids to school - more than I thought I needed, but I'd rather be early than late on the first day! I got got the kids and stuff out to the car, then realized I'd forgotten Penny's backpack, so I went back in for it. While I was getting it, I realized I'd also forgotten her nametag, so I fished that out, too. Whew!

When we got to daycare, Penny wanted to show all the teachers there her nametag and tell them how she was going to kindergarten now and they weren't going to see her anymore, and they were all dutifully impressed.

Penny remained pretty excited while we drove back to the elementary school. We wound up being a good 15 minutes early, but given the number of cars already there, I don't feel too bad about it. We parked across the street, then went into the clinic to give the nurse some stuff she needed. Then we went back out to the office and I asked the secretary who to make the check out to for lunches.

It was still not quite 8:15, so Penny and I went out into the lobby area, where they hold early kids until the bell. It was incredibly crowded -- kids and parents, both -- and Penny got a little nervous about it, the way she does in big crowds of strangers. She did NOT, however, cry or cling, and she did not ask to go home. She just held my hand a little tighter, and a couple of times she said, "Mommy, I want to go see Mrs. Duffey now!" I'm counting it as a victory.

Eventually, they decided that the number of people in the lobby was creating safety hazards, so they were going to let us head to classrooms early. So I led her back to the room, and she found her name at one of the tables. Everyone had a coloring-book page with a cat on it, and there were crayons on the table, so I helped her take off her backpack and she sat down to start coloring, and I prodded her and the little girl sitting across from her into introducing each other. ("What's your name, honey?" "Lexi." "That's a great name. Why don't you tell Lexi your name, sweetie?" "I'm Penny." "Great! I'm sure you are going to be great friends.")

I gave Penny's diabetes kit to Mrs. Duffey, and talked to her about making sure someone watched what Penny ate, in case she didn't eat all her lunch, so Mrs. Philipoom could do a correct dosage after lunch, and she had me write it down for the aide, just to make sure she didn't forget to tell her in all the hustle and bustle of the first day. So I wrote a quick note, and gave Penny another hug and a kiss, and took her picture one more time, and said, "See you after school, sweetie!"

I headed for the door, and heard, "Mommy!!"

I looked back. "What is it, sweetie?"

"I'm bored."

"...Well, finish coloring your kitty, hon, and then I'm sure Mrs. Duffey will have something else for you to do." And then I left.

There were a GAJILLION people parked outside the school by the time I left at 8:20. It was a madhouse. I felt even more justified in trying to get there a bit early. I'll happily wait with her out front until we can go back to the classroom at 8:15 if I have to, but showing up after 8:15 is just going to be asking for trouble.

Anyway, I drove around the block and headed in to work, and got here at 8:30 on the dot. Getting to work an hour and a half later than usual is going to take some getting used to -- I spent half an hour feeling rushed and panicky before I managed to just take a deep breath and start organizing my day. My journal entries are certainly going to start going up somewhat later in the day.

It finally occurred to me that there is no way to have a set schedule for getting my allergy shots and exercising in every week. It just can't happen -- there are too many variables each week. So instead of even trying, I think I'm just going to have to work those things into my schedule individually each week, based on whatever that week's requirements are. So some weeks, I'll manage to get everything in during the day at lunchtime, and some weeks, I'm going to have to do my exercising at night and over the weekend. And it will be okay.