Friday, October 31, 2008


Happy Hallowe'en from our little Boo-Boy!

(That little grin is sweeter than any candy... Couldn't you just eat him up?)

I spent most of yesterday chaperoning a field trip with Penny's class. There were a lot of chaperons, so I only had to keep track of Penny and one other little girl.

We went into the pumpkin patch to pick a small pumpkin, and then we went on a "haunted" hay ride (there's only so scary a ride can be in full sunlight, though the kids had fun shrieking in pretended terror) and then into the corn maze.

Penny and Lexi

After that, we went to a nearby park to eat lunch and have a scavenger hunt. It was too cold and windy to eat outside, really -- everyone was shivering and either not eating or scarfing their food down as fast as possible. It was a relief to get up and move around to look for leaves and pine cones. Penny and her friend both filled their pockets with acorns.

Then we went back to the school, and I went home and spent an hour or so relaxing and playing Warcraft. Just before Penny was due to get out of school, I changed clothes and went to the gym, and then (since the gym is about 3/4 of the way to Alex's daycare anyway) I picked Alex up so Matt wouldn't have to make the drive.

It was a nice day off, though it would have been better if it had been a Friday.

Tonight, I'll head home and fix dinner ASAP so we can get to the trick-or-treating. It's my turn to escort her around this year, and I'm quite looking forward to it, even though it's going to be pretty damn chilly.

Alex will be coming with us in his pea-pod outfit (assuming I can rig up a way to fasten him into the stroller) but probably only for a few houses -- I don't think he's going to have the patience or the aplomb to do more than that.

There will be pictures, of course. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mental- I Mean, Dental

Late post today, because as soon as Penny and I dropped Alex off at school, we went to the dentist.

Highlights of this trip:

- There were more kids in the kids' waiting area today than I've ever seen there. It seems 8am appointments are very popular.

- One boy of about six got called back, and his mom said, "He's a new diabetic - is the fluoride treatment going to affect his sugar?" After the boy had followed the hygienist, I spoke to her, pointed out Penny, and we chatted a bit. He's honeymooning, so constantly in danger of lows, but adapting well -- he not only does his own sticks, but shots as well. I reassured her that it does get better, or at least that you get used to it.

- When the hygienist called Penny back, out of curiosity, I stayed in my seat. Penny didn't ask me to come with her. She followed the hygienist to the x-ray station and then to the cleaning area without a whimper. I could hear her chatting cheerfully the whole time about this and that. When another hygienist came for me before Penny was done, I went into her station to tell her that I was going back for my own teeth, and that when she was done, someone would bring her back to me (as she'd requested earlier).

- My hygienist messed up something on her computer. When my cleaning/checkup was finished, I fixed it for her. I am now a hero.

- Neither Penny nor I had any cavities. Both of us need to brush and floss a little more regularly.

I got up to wash my lunch dishes and discovered my boss and one other manager showing a couple of policemen around the building. Ten minutes later, my boss sent an email to everyone at the facility:

If you hit 9-1-1 by accident when dialing out, please stay on the line and answer the operator and let them know it was a mistake. Otherwise, the James City County Police automatically send out two cars to the Center to check out the call.

Let that be a lesson to you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Want It When?

So this new contract we got wants its own separate Configuration Management Plan. Okay, fine.

My boss wants me to write it -- to take our usual blanket CMP and pretty it up for this contract in particular. Okay, fine. When's it due?

Well, that's the question.

Usually, a government Statement of Work includes due-dates based on the date the contract was awarded. "CA+30 days" -- like that. Unless specified otherwise, we generally interpret "days" as "business days" rather than "calendar days". So the guy who's rounding up the initial spate of documents told me it's due November 11. Okay, fine.

This morning, I got to work to find a flurry of emails. The manager sent out his calculated due dates so some other folks could double-check him, and what he put in the email was Calendar Days. Which means that either he typed "calendar" when he meant to type "working", or else his calculation was based on a wrong assumption, and the CMP would in fact be due on October 30. Ulp.

And then I was talking with another manager while I was getting my coffee, and he muddied the waters further: Our award date is six days later than originally assumed, so maybe the CMP is due on November 5. But the SoW actually says the CMP is due thirty days after, not the Contract Award date, but our receipt of the Notice To Proceed. (Which is something the government sends you when they've agreed to a contract and want you to start working even though the legal paperwork is still tied up in the contracts department.) Which we didn't get for this contract.

So I have no idea when this document is due. Might be in two days, might be in a week, might be in two weeks. And why am I writing a CMP, anyway, when we have an entire Configuration Management staff?

Probably because, when faced with an unknown due date (possibly as little as two days from now) and a 30-40 page document to throw together, my boss can count on me to say: Okay, fine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

That Much Closer

Our JDRF Team, "In For A Penny..." raised a total of $851.74, bringing Penny that much closer to a cure.

(This and other pictures on my flickr account - click the picture!)

The weather wasn't the best, but it only drizzled, and had stopped by the time the actual walk started.

It was longer than the 1 mile promised -- they didn't tell us how long the path was, but it was at least 2 miles, and I think closer to 3. My knee was killing me, and Penny came close to working up a blister on her foot.

But Alex was awesome -- he spent the walk sitting calmly in his stroller chewing on a stuffed frog -- and Penny only whined a little, and I cried to see how many people were there, and when I thought about how much just the three of us had raised.

When I think about how far diabetes management has come in the last twenty years, I have to believe an actual cure will exist in Penny's lifetime, and possibly even in mine.

Thank you, to everyone who contributed -- in money or in emotional support. It means more to us than you could know.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Despite my fretting, we got the shirts I ordered for the JDRF walk yesterday. Yay! Matt and Penny and my mom and I will be doing the walk with matching t-shirts. (They are blue and say, "In For A Penny..." which is our team name, and "JDRF Walk For A Cure - Oct 2008".)

So far, we have raised more than $650 -- I'll post the final official total on Monday, along with pictures from the walk. (If you were going to donate and have been putting it off... today's pretty much the last day to do so, since the walk is tomorrow.)

Naturally, tomorrow is supposed to be cold and rainy, but I'm hoping the walk won't be canceled or rescheduled. (Not least because I already have plans for next weekend that I really don't want to rearrange again.)

In other news, I'm tired. Big shock, I know. Penny woke up at 5:05 with a bad dream, and Alex started talking just as I got her back to bed. I might need some real coffee this morning instead of decaf.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Writing

I haven't written much of anything this week. Why?

Because I started reading, and I got sucked in, and I enjoyed it so much I continued on to read everything else I could find by the same author.

Hardly unusual for me. Barely even worth a mention, except for who the author is.


I got sucked into my own writing. I started out looking for details on something KT and I had written in Circle in the Sand. (Specifically, if you're curious, I couldn't remember if I'd described one minor character as tall or short. He's going to play a slightly more significant role in the bit I'm writing now, and I don't want to be inconsistent.) But once I'd started reading, I kind of... kept going.

(Which is not to say that it doesn't need work, because the first half is moderately horrible -- I spent a lot of time wanting to smack every single major character upside the head for acting like an emo teenager -- and there are a few plot holes, but the writing... the writing is actually quite good.)

And then I went on to read two novella-length pieces I did that were set in a world KT invented. They were world-building exercises and character pieces. I was trying to get a handle on her world's magic system, and the various races who inhabited it, and exploring the motivations of some of the background characters. Human Aspect was so good that I was literally shocked. When I finished it, I couldn't move for almost five minutes. Feylin's Forge stretched on longer than it should have, but if I cut it off at the natural stopping point, then I'd lose one of the most fantastic battle scenes I've ever written. (Which is not saying much, admittedly, because msot of my fight scenes are horrible.) It's also, coincidentally, one of the few pieces I've written without a single sex or romance scene, primarily because someone (Karen, maybe?) wondered if I was capable of writing anything without dragging sex into it. (I sort of cheated and made the main female character about thirteen years old, and the main male character already in love with someone else, offstage.)

I wondered if it was KT's touch that made the difference, and I dug out two more novella-length pieces I'd written for my own world. I wrote those entirely by myself, and they still sucked me in. There's a major plothole in Willow Bough, and there's a relationship development that I rushed, that ought to be dragged out over several chapters, and the ending doesn't quite satisfy, somehow. But I had forgotten some of the details that, on re-reading, took my breath away. Tangled Web was a little confusing in places -- I need to make it clearer exactly how the bad guy manipulated things at the beginning -- but I still liked it.

Today, I might attempt to read a more recent piece, but I'm not sure. One Heart, One Mind is semi-scifi rather than fantasy, and I'm not sure the world's rules quite hang together, and I remember the plot being a bit... rushed. But I remember thinking that Willow Bough was really quite awful and weak, so maybe I should give it a try.

It's too bad that my best stuff is novella-length, because the market for that is pretty much nil.

(On consideration, I seem to have a yen for characters with particularly violent and abusive childhoods. I'd hate to have my stuff psychoanalyzed.)

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good with myself today. Let's hope it lasts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I swear, for a Wednesday, today feels awfully like a Monday.

Alex's fourth tooth is cutting, and he had a restless night. I never had to get up to soothe him, but he woke up several times to whine a little and then go back to sleep.

I went to bed just before midnight, and Alex woke up for good at 5:30. He didn't get fussy, but he crawled around his bed and jabbered loudly until I elbowed Matt out of bed at six.

I'd forgotten to get tonight's crock-pot dinner set up last night, so I had to throw it all together this morning while letting Alex crawl around the kitchen and dining room and hoping he didn't eat something off the floor while I was chopping vegetables.

I couldn't find the blanket that we use in lieu of a coat for Alex. (I did find it after we'd gotten to daycare. It was draped over someone else's baby seat.)

We were halfway out the door when Penny realized that her folder wasn't in her backpack, so I had to go back and dig through the crap on the dining table to find it.

I couldn't remember if Penny's field trip form was due today or tomorrow, but I couldn't find it in any case. Nor had her teacher ever answered my question about who to make the check out to. (I walked her down to class this morning to talk to the teacher and get a new form. I filled it out and wrote the check on the spot.)

There was a bad accident just as we were leaving the residential area that meant I couldn't turn the way I needed to turn to take Alex to school. I wound up going the other way instead, and taking the interstate all the way around to get to his daycare.

When Penny and I got to school, someone mentioned that tomorrow was picture day -- and I have no idea where that form is, either. (I picked up a new form from the front office on my way out, but it means I really need to remember to write that check tonight.)

I was all the way to work before I realized that I'd forgotten my gym clothes. I'll have to either take an extra 15-20 minutes off to go home to get it, or do another evening workout tonight. Which option I pick probably depends on how the rest of the morning goes. But damn, do I need it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Today, Matt is participating in the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Penny's school.

D.O.G.S. stands for Dads Of Good Students, and it's a program by which fathers of students volunteer for a day at the school. The idea is to show the kids positive male role models, especially at the elementary school level, where there aren't many male staff members. (Penny's school has two male staff, which is up from last year's one, and both of them are teachers who rarely interact with kids outside their own classrooms.)

So Matt will be helping to direct the kids as they unload the busses this morning, and then he'll spend some time volunteering in Penny's class and in a couple of the other kindergarten classes, acting as chaperone in the cafeteria, etc.

He's volunteering twice this year; today, and again in March.

We didn't tell Penny about it in advance, so she was thrilled when I brought her into the school lobby and she saw him waiting for her. She gets to wear a special sticker that says "Good Student" on it, and the two of them will get to appear on the morning announcements together.

I'm looking forward to hearing all about it, tonight.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Mondays really suck for trying to get a journal entry written. I barely have time to log into my computer before I get sucked into an endless series of meetings, and by the time it's all done and I've done the things that are not optional, I've completely forgotten about what used to be my morning routine.


Oh, well, this weekend's excitement was Jess's birthday party.

The Three Musketeers

Dinosaur Cake

More pictures over at my flickr account, including Greg cowering in fear and Alex's first introduction to icing.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I've wanted to be a writer since I was about twelve. The first short story I wrote was called "Bangle Hills Manor," and it was a horror story.

Well, it was meant to be. I never finished it. Mostly, I started writing it because I thought "Bangle Hills" sounded really cool, and I wanted to describe this ring of hills that sparkled with dew in the mornings, and I liked the idea of a very un-sparkly old house perched on one of the hills like a broken and tarnished watch on a tennis bracelet.

I wasn't quite determined enough to work at it as hard as it had to be worked at, though. I wrote mostly for myself or the amusement of my friends. I never tried to be published, because I've never felt I had anything polished enough to be worth publishing. And also because I don't think I'd be able to avoid taking rejections personally. (I take that back: I had several poems published in my high school literary magazine. Given that I was co-editor-in-chief of the magazine, however, and that we accepted around 90% of submissions, I don't think it counts.)

So now I'm not a professional writer. I'm a QA manager, which involves an awful lot of reading and technical editing, and occasionally some dry Dilbertian writing, and I'm very lucky that my job allows enough slack time for me to occasionally pursue my hobby of writing.

Which makes this all the more amusing:

Yesterday, my boss stuck his head into my office. "I told [manager guy outside our office] that he could borrow you for some proposal help next week, if he needs you."

"Okay." I'm not a big fan of proposal work, but a charge number is a charge number.

He started to walk away and paused, turned around. "If I haven't said it before, you're worth your weight in gold when it comes to technical writing and editing."

That was nice. It's not the kind of writing I enjoy, but it's good to know that I'm good at it.

And this morning, one of our PMs came into my office.

"Hi, Liz."

"Hi, Heather. What's up?" I like Heather. She's smart and funny and nice and has kids close to my kids' ages.

She collapsed in my spare chair and pretended to weep. "I haven't written a paper in twenty years!"

"What are you writing a paper for?"

"This RABIT task. They want... well, it's basically a white paper on how we're going to do it, and the system requirements, and..." She went on for a while about the paper requirements, and ended up with, "...and the draft is due today and I only have five pages and it's crap and can you fix it for me?"

Which was also pretty gratifying, to know I'm the "go-to guy" in my office for good, fast writing/editing.

Which is why I didn't post earlier this morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I've got a pile of things to do today.

I've got a 50-page document that I need to consolidate comments on and re-write.

I've got a three-inch-thick pile of mail (no really, I got out a ruler) to open and sort and otherwise attend to.

I should try to wedge myself into my boss's schedule for fifteen minutes to talk about the next step on my six-sigma project.

While I'm at it, I should try to get him to make a decision on the other project I'm (technically) doing, but stalled on about a month ago.

I should go to the gym. (I keep trying to increase the difficulty level on the bike, but every time I do, my knee aches for the next several days. Stupid knee.)

I need to update my database and write my bi-monthly status report.

I need to do my meal-planning for next week.

I need to put some stuff on my wishlist that I want but can't get since I'm in a No-Buy Zone.

I'd like to finish writing the chapter I started yesterday.

Sometime soon (but not necessarily today) I need to get some new hand-weights, and re-work my office exercise routine a little

Last night I made a variation on tequila-lime chicken. I cubed some chicken breast and marinated it for the day in a mixture of good tequila left over from my trip to Cancun, soy sauce, lime juice, and olive oil. Then I threw all of it in a skillet and cooked the chicken, and when the chicken was done I added a can of diced tomatoes, a can of kidney beans, and two cups of frozen corn, and seasoned it all with a dash of onion powder and two dashes of chili powder. (No salt, since there was plenty of sodium in the soy sauce.) Simmered it all until the juice was nice and thick, portioned it out onto plates, and gave each a sprinkle of sharp cheddar and a few dollops of sour cream.

(Actually, I didn't use sour cream. I used plain, fat-free greek-style yogurt, which is exactly the right consistency, and closer in flavor to real sour cream than even low-fat sour cream. Someone suggested it to me a while back, and when I noticed our grocery store had it, I thought I'd give it a try. Color me impressed! Now I have to go back to the store to get some more so I can put it on the chili I'm making tomorrow.)

Anyway, Penny is pretty picky about all-in-one meals, and she's particularly picky about sauces on her chicken, but she ate all this without so much as a curled lip of "do I really hafta?". And it's healthy (excepting perhaps the tequila and the cheese, but it's not like either was excessive) and it was wonderfully filling. It goes on THE LIST! (Hrm. Guess that means I need some more quality tequila...)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I almost forgot again.

Why is it so much harder to remember to load up Blogger and post than it was to get out my templates and hand-build all the prev/next links?

Anyway, what's going on?

I just came back from getting my allergy shots. Actually, I didn't. Today was a "vial test", wherein they test a new batch of serum to make sure that it was made correctly and won't make my head explode, or something. Vial test is sort of like getting micro-shots, and then instead of getting to leave, I have to stick around for ten more minutes so they can see how big the welts are.

Stupidly, they hurt more than the regular shots. And now my fingers are itching and I'm wondering if it's related, or if it's just one of those psychosomatic things.

Penny has a bit of a cough right now -- one of those scratchy-throat, thick coughs that mean fall is in the air. She's perfectly fine otherwise, but spent most of the morning commute trying to convince me that she should stay home anyway, since she's obviously "sick".

Finally, I said, "Penny, sweetheart, if you're so sick you can't go to school, then you have to spend the whole day in your bed."

That ended that.

Alex was not too keen on being dropped off this morning, for lo! his beloved Ms. Gwen was not in the infant room yet. O woe! Despair!

"Oh, so sad!" I said, and walked away. Staying was not going to help.

Penny followed me out the door in a royal snit. "Mom," she huffed, "Alex doesn't like that!"

It's cute when she's overprotective like that. You should see how irritable it makes her when we try to feed him something he doesn't like.

I can't figure out if it's that he doesn't want to be with anyone except Ms. Gwen, or if he specifically doesn't like the early morning toddler teacher (whose name I still haven't caught), who covers for Ms. Gwen when she's not there.

Either way, he's got about six months to get over it before he gets advanced to the toddler side of the room.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Looking like a crazy day at work, especially since Matt's car is in the shop (whee!) so I have to leave early to get everyone picked up, so I'm just going to toss out this anecdote (someone else's, not mine) from this morning's manager meeting, and maybe later I'll have time to talk about the weekend.

We had a friend stay with us this weekend, and he said, "This is a nice house, but being out in the country like this, it's a little creepy." And my [15-year-old] daughter said, "Yeah, and there's a Republican across the street!"


Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Observation

It's been a long time -- at least a decade -- since I've been close to major relationship drama.

Without attempting to explain or pass judgment on any of the parties involved, I just want to make this observation: The internet age has really had a negative effect on the whole process.

I mean... "She stopped following my Twitter account," just doesn't pack the pathos of "She burned all my letters."

Thursday, October 9, 2008


See the thing is, I started seeing a therapist a while back because the stress of never having any time to myself was getting to me, and I was hoping for some coping mechanisms.

We made some progress early on.

And then it stopped. I spent three sessions in a row locked up, saying, "The kids are fine, work is fine, Matt's fine, the marriage is fine, the family's fine, the social life is fine, the schedule is tight but I'm coping." And then I'd leave and wonder, if everything was so fine, if I was coping so well, why was I in therapy?

Yesterday, when I walked into her office, I'd intended to say that. I'd meant to say, "Look, I need to figure out why I can't trust you enough to tell you what I'm really thinking, because otherwise I'm wasting money and, worse, time."

I didn't say that. But I managed to avoid pretending that everything was fine.

I talked about the things I'm doing that are helping, and the things I should do but can't seem to, for whatever reason. I admitted to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, resentful, and inadequate. I cried a lot.

Some of it was cathartic -- it felt better, just to be able to say it. The rest of it... I don't know that any progress was made, but at least I put it out on the table. I didn't say everything I should have, maybe, but it's a start.

And then I went to the gym and worked off some of the lingering feelings of uck. I had to spend vacation time to do it, but I needed some time to put my "everything's fine and how are you?" mask back on before I went back to work.

I decided I need to renew my commitment to eating healthier. Better for me, better for Matt and Penny (and Alex, once he stops eating out of jars). Nothing terribly drastic -- more vegetables and fruits, less junk food. I spent the afternoon poking around online and looking for recipes. I'm questioning my decision to serve fish once a week, because I just don't like it unless I pile cheese or cream-based sauces on it to disguise the flavor, which sort of defeats the purpose. Need to replace it with more chicken or vegetarian meals, though. Weekly Hot Dog Night might go away, if I can find something just as quick and easy (less than 5 minutes total prep/cook time is hard to beat!) to replace it with that Penny's willing to eat. I'm pondering strategies for avoiding the snack bar at work, which is my particular Achilles heel.

And then today, showing up at work filled with optimism and commitment... there are doughnuts in the kitchen.

And not just any doughnuts. Chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes. My very favorite doughnuts in all the world.

I am a priestess of Murphy, and my god blesses me. Often.

(And now that I've spent over an hour writing this and deleting things and rewriting them and deleting them again, I'm desperately hoping the doughnuts are all gone. Oh, look. Time to go get my allergy shot!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Day to Day

So we watched the debate between McCain and Obama last night. It wasn't quite as laughable as the Biden/Palin debate. I haven't bothered to look at the analyses yet this morning, but it looked to me like Obama came out ahead. Of course, I'm biased, but I really felt like Obama gave the superior showing. I did catch him a couple of times talking around questions instead of answering them directly, but only one of them actually irritated me. Whereas, I swear, every time someone asked McCain a question with "this or that" choice answers, he tried to come down on both sides of the fence.

I admit to being distracted for the first twenty minutes of the debate, though, because I couldn't figure out who he reminded me of, and there was a very forceful "I've seen this before" reaction, especially when he smiled. Finally, it hit me:

McCain is Vizzini.

Which is pretty appropriate, all things considered. "I've hired you to help me start a war. It's a prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition."

I'm feeling a bit off-kilter today. I didn't sleep well. I've got a therapy appointment this morning and I need to figure out why I can't seem to trust her, because otherwise I'm just throwing time and money down a hole. I desperately need to get to the gym -- I haven't gone since last Friday, and I'm getting antsy about it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Checking It Twice

Our Christmas plans have been made, plane tickets purchased and rental car reserved. So now I can start putting together my annual lists!

I'm a list-maker, no question about it. Even moreso since I became a parent and discovered that about a third of my brain had liquefied and dribbled out my ear -- I have to write everything down, now, or it simply gets lost. If I tell you I'm going to do something and you don't see me write it down, then you've got about a 25% chance that it's gone. I maintain -- I'm not exaggerating, here -- five separate calendars. Six, if you count the wall calendar at home where I occasionally jot things.

Christmas, with its busy schedules and multitude of activities, is a prime list target. It doesn't just get a list, but an entire spreadsheet.

The first tab is Schedule: Are the kids' schools having holiday events? What days are schools closed? When are we doing the Moon Cookie party? When are we having various get-togethers, and where? Are we combining Matt's birthday with Thanksgiving or having a separate party? And what the hell are we doing about Alex's birthday, situated as it is only two days before Christmas? And anything else that might need to be worked around: Doctor appointments, book club, Matt's D&D game...

I use the schedule to back into my shopping: If we need to ship gifts at least a week before Christmas, then I need to have the gifts at least 10 days before Christmas. If any of them are going to be ordered, I need to place my orders about 10 days before that. Which means we need to decide what we're ordering in about the first week of December. (Give or take; we trust some places more than others to deliver quickly.)

Then there's the Gift tab, where we track who's getting gifts from us, and what the gifts are. I'm such a dork, I also track the status of each gift, so I can see what still needs to be ordered or purchased, wrapped, and delivered. (I'm thinking that this year, we may have stuff for Matt's family shipped directly to his mom, and then we'll buy some wrapping paper and wrap it all once we're up there, rather than have to re-ship it all one way or another.)

The Gift tab also lists everyone we want to send cards to, and keeps their addresses. I thought about formatting the address bit so I could print it out on label stock, but then decided against it. I always roll my eyes just a little bit when I receive a card with a machine-printed address. I am, however, pondering a printed family newsletter for the first time ever. I got several of them last year, and while I don't care for the "bragsheet" variety, I really enjoyed the conversational ups-and-downs ones. We'll see.

And finally, there's the Packing tab. Last year, it was a list of things to pack, separately, for Penny and I so that we'd be ready when I went into labor. (Naturally, I went into labor ten days early, as we were putting Penny to bed, so that bit of careful planning kind of went out the window.) This year, it's things we need to remember to pack to take with us to Chicago. I'm putting everything I can think of on it (I'm a completist) but it's mostly so I can plan things like, how many glucose test strips will Penny need while we're there? and how many diapers should we count on to get Alex from our doorstep to Jill's?

Why yes. Yes, I am a freak.

But you knew that already.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Monday

Here's hoping today is better than last Monday.

It started off better, at least. Penny forgot her med-alert bracelet at home, and we wound up running a bit late and stuck behind a school bus for a couple of miles, but those are both relatively minor hiccups.

And on the plus side of the sheet, the weather is lovely and fall-ish, and Penny objected not at all when I said goodbye at the lobby end of the hallway instead of walking her all the way down to her classroom. And I had quite a lovely weekend.

Saturday I met up with KT and we went to the Newport News Park Fall Festival, which is a big collection of mostly kitsch crafts and fair food, and we wandered around and looked at things and admired some and mocked others and even bought a few, and we had cinnamon-roasted almonds and limeade and fresh-made kettle corn. I got some new earrings that I won't be able to wear until next year (I'm eschewing necklaces and dangly earrings until Alex stops grabbing at them) and some scrapbooking stuff.

After that, we went back to my parents' house (where we'd met up to leave her car) and Matt and the kids were there (my parents having hinted that they'd like a visit from the grandkids) so we hung out and chatted and played with the baby for a while.

My dad managed to scare Penny to tears just by stomping and using a deep voice, so KT re-thought the plan of taking the girls on a Hallowe'en hay ride -- though she's still pretty keen on the notion of having Penny over for a sleepover with Jess, and I'm okay with the idea, myself. We don't even have the big diabetes-care hurdle to jump over, since she did most of it herself back when she was pregnant with Jess. We just need to give her a worksheet with the ranges and computations to fill in. (We'll probably comp the one we use for the school, though one of these days I want to get around to making an index-card-sized version that I can print out and stick in her kit.)

Anyway, we headed home around 5, had Subway for dinner (I need to remember to take a Pepcid AC before having a Spicy Italian from now on) and generally kicked back and enjoyed the evening.

Sunday was pretty much the usual -- groceries and laundry and playing with the kids. I spent most of the day sitting on the floor, it seemed (my back is killing me today) but I did manage to squeeze in about an hour and a half of uninterrupted reading while Alex took his afternoon nap, and that was very refreshing. (I got about halfway through the book club book for this month -- Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer -- and then I finished it instead of playing WoW after the kids went to bed. I can see why the series has such a strong following; it's very... charming, for lack of a better word. It wasn't deep or intellectual -- I did read the whole fairly thick book in about three hours -- but I'm already looking forward to reading the rest. I can't imagine the movie will adequately capture the charm, though, so I'm not sold on that.)

Anyway, it's been a long time since I really let myself sink into a book and lose time like that, and it was wonderful.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poly Ticks

Matt and I watched the last half-hour of the vice-presidential debate last night. Here's my take-aways:

* Palin said, "My kids is public school participants." Matt and I were so floored at this failure of elementary grammar that we actually paused the TiVo and rewound it to make sure we'd heard that correctly. I mean, seriously? Basic subject-verb agreement? I knew they were ragging on Obama for actually letting people know he was educated, but isn't this just a bit reactionary? Next thing you know, she'll be saying things like, "It needs done."

Edit: The two transcripts of the debate I found online pulled this as, "My kids as public school participants." Which is not quite as egregious, but still doesn't make a lot of sense. My point stands.

* Oh, and Palin's "shout out" to her brother's elementary school class? Utterly lacked class.

* I was disappointed, if not surprised, that Biden wouldn't stand up for gay marriage. Which is not to say that I wasn't amused by how flustered Palin got when she tried to tell us how tolerant she was. Am I the only one who got the impression that she was trying to convince us she was tolerant on the issue because she knows some people who disagree with her?

* Palin can't pronounce "nuclear" correctly, either. I swear, I'm so tired of hearing "nucular" that if I had been a fence-sitter, that alone would have decided me. (And you thought picking a candidate based on a single issue was rash!)

* Palin's talking-points were not only repetitious, but she never even rephrased them, so they came across as recited from memory rather than presented from conviction. I know candidates going into a debate are coached and drilled in advance, but there were at least three times that I heard her use phrases and statements so similar, so close together, that I had to look up to see if Matt had rewound the TiVo again.

* I was impressed that both candidates refrained from mud-slinging and cheap shots... right up until Palin dragged Biden's dead wife into it. I was impressed with his response, too -- whether calculated and coached or not, it was beautiful -- cool and gracious with just the faintest undertones of disgust that she would stoop so low and remembered grief.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


First off: Matt and the kids and I are going to be doing a fundraiser walk with the JDRF on October 25, so we're looking for sponsors! If you'd like to contribute in any amount, go to, and thank you.

This morning, tired of the two pairs of pants I have that I can wear to work, I dug deep in the drawer and stubbornly tried on a bunch of pairs of pants that I was pretty sure didn't fit.

My findings?

I own six pairs of pants that are suitable for work in fall weather. One of them is a size 3X, one of them a 20/22, two size 18, and two size 22.

Would you like to guess which ones fit? I'll even give you a hint: The 3X and 20/22s are the ones I've been wearing to work since Labor Day came along and I put my capris away. (Though the 3X is a little on the roomy side, and if I managed to lose about 10 pounds, I'd have to chuck them.)

One of the 18s wouldn't go on at all. Fair enough.

One of the 22s wouldn't zip.

The other 22s I got on okay, but they turned into sausage casings when I sat down. I suppose I could wear them in a pinch, but it wouldn't be comfortable.

The other pair of 18s... I'm wearing today.

This is what's wrong with women's clothing, dammit. Why can I wear an 18 one day but need a 24 the next? It's not water retention. It's not that I had a snack the night before. It's not the weather. I tried these pants on in the space of about 5 minutes. What size am I? Apparently, anywhere between an 18 and a 24, depending on the precise manufacturer and cut. This is why I can't buy pants online -- by the time I figure out what size I am, I've paid half a fortune in shipping costs. And then the season changes and the stores stop carrying whatever line I just figured out.

(Shirt sizing is just as wonked, but since I prefer my shirts a little loose and long so they hang down to cover my belly and butt, which are not only big but weirdly shaped, I just buy on the larger end of the range. Occasionally, I give up on a shirt as "too big" -- but it doesn't happen often.)

And I still only have three pairs of pants that I can reasonably wear to work. And my sole pair of jeans (not counted as part of the three, but pretty soon here I'm going to have to stop wearing shorts on the weekend) smells like a skunk nested in them, despite multiple washings and vinegar rinses. I only have two work bras (though I just ordered two more; keep your fingers crossed for me).

I think I'm going to have to sacrifice a vacation day and go clothes shopping. This thrills me even less than the vacation day I sacrificed to clean the house and purge the kids' toys, but there it is. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Could We Start Again, Please?

Looks like I forgot to post yesterday. Oops. Sorry about that, but I don't know what I'd have said anyway.

Today isn't getting the best start ever.

We had some massive thunderstorms roll through between 1 and about 1:45 last night. Normally, I roll over and go back to sleep -- I actually quite like thunderstorms -- but last night I was so positive that one or both kids would wake up and be scared that I was mostly awake for the whole thing. And then, having been awake for so long, I couldn't get back to sleep until nearly 3. So, of course, Penny had a nightmare around 3:45 and came in to ask for snuggling.

(It's weird, the things we find comforting. I snuggled with Penny for a bit, and she still wasn't ready to go back to sleep, but then I did a glucose check, and she relaxed and burrowed happily back under her covers.)

And then this morning, she dropped her glucose meter into her milk. Sigh. I rinsed it out until it stopped draining cloudy water, but I have no idea if it'll work again once it dries, or if residual gunk will foul up the readings... If we have to replace it (I'm giving it about a 50% chance) that's about $50. Not disastrous, but we still didn't need it. Plus now we've got to remember to haul her working meter up and down the stairs with us.

On top of which, she's been having occasional potty accidents the last week or so. We're pretty sure it's just part of the adjustment period for kindergarten (and luckily, she hasn't had any actually at school or at night) but it's still kind of frustrating.

And the remodeling going on at work seems to involve a large amount of drilling today. I've been at work for about 45 minutes, and I already have a headache.

So, yeah, I'd really like to go home and go back to bed for a few hours, and then start today over...