Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I spoke too soon. Alex relapsed last night, so this morning I'm home with him. Matt will take both kids this afternoon, since Penny has a half-day.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Uck

They say that the first year or so that a kid is in daycare or school -- the first year that they're regularly and frequently exposed to the germs of others -- is the sickest year in a kid's life.

It makes sense, and it was certainly true for Penny; she seemed to always be sick as a baby, but by the time she was two or so, the illnesses had tapered off to the more reasonable three or four times a year. This past year, she hasn't really been sick at all. (I know, because I've been dreading having to deal with managing her blood sugar along with an illness -- since being sick typically spikes blood sugar while trashing appetite.)

If the axiom holds true for Alex, then I suppose I can expect him to get sick again somewhere around the third grade, because in his eleven months of life (nine of which have been spent going to daycare) I can probably count the number of times he's been really sick on one hand.

I say "probably" because I'm not altogether sure: even when Alex does get sick, it doesn't usually affect him very much, or last very long. His colds are fever-less, just a couple of days of runny nose and diminished appetite. We've taken him to the doctor two or three times to have them check his ears (Penny never gave us any signs of an ear infection until it had backed up into her eyes, so we leap for the pediatrician as soon as Alex so much as touches his ears) but they've all turned out to be false alarms. The few fevers he has had have been mostly low-grade, and identifiably attached to things like vaccinations or teething.

The boy is healthy as a horse, is what I'm saying, here. He's going to grow up to be one of those guys who doesn't quite know how to be sympathetic for sick people, because he never gets sick, himself.

But alas, he did finally succumb, as all eventually must, to the Uck.

Penny had the Uck, off and on, for about three months. I'm hoping Alex's mutant superhero immune system has adapted to it in the last three days, because once he brought it home, the entire family succumbed.

Saturday, Alex was sick.

Sunday, he was improving (no really: As. A. Horse.) but by mid-afternoon, I was starting to feel under the weather, and when I tried to make dinner, I fairly quickly realized that I was down for the count. I had Matt take over to get himself and Penny fed, and spent the rest of the evening in bed, shivering despite being under two blankets.

By the time Matt was putting Penny to bed Sunday night, he was starting to feel the edges of it, himself.

At about 4 Monday morning, Alex threw up again. No school for Alex! I took Penny to school, but they called us at 10:30 to say she'd thrown up her morning snack, so I went back and picked her up.

So we were the Family of Sick. Penny spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon sitting on the couch with one of my big plastic mixing bowls close at hand. (Her blood sugar, at least, was almost weirdly well-behaved.) Matt and I spent the day dashing for the bathroom and changing Alex on the floor in the living room so we wouldn't have to climb the stairs on our wobbly legs. We put Alex down for more naps than usual, since we didn't really have the energy to jolly him out of fussiness, and Matt -- who never naps -- laid down nearly every time Alex did.

We were feeling a little better by dinnertime. Penny was hungry, and we made her nurse two pieces of toast a a cup of diluted Gatorade over the course of about an hour and a half, but she kept it all down, and then felt good enough to want to take a bath. After her bath, she came downstairs, climbed into my lap, and said, "What are we having for dinner?" (We already HAD dinner, I told her, though I let her have some more watered-down Gatorade and a sugar-free Jello.)

Matt and I also had toast for dinner, and we let Alex graduate from pedialyte to formula just before bed.

Everyone made it through the night without any incidents, and Penny and Alex had recovered their appetites for breakfast. So we took them to school, and Matt and I are at work today. Matt's legs were a little wobbly when he first got up, and I can't say I'm at 100% either. Maybe more like 80%. We'll see how the day goes. Keep your fingers crossed for us. I hate the Uck.

Friday, November 21, 2008

They're threatening snow for the area this morning. It's already snowed in some surrounding areas, though I haven't heard of it sticking anywhere.

I wonder what they'll do, though, if they decide to close schools early? How do they notify parents? It's not something I ever thought about as a kid, because my mom worked for a school, and if we were off, she usually was, too.

I'm tired this morning. Penny was up at 1 and again at 4 with bad dreams, and Alex started making noise around 5:15 -- he eventually went back to sleep until 6, but I woke up for it anyway. And Matt was so dog-tired that he didn't hear his alarm go off, and I had to elbow him into consciousness to turn it off.

Not sure what's going on this weekend. Matt has to work Saturday (good thing I didn't make any plans) but we're not sure for how long. So I might take the kids down to visit my folks after Alex's morning nap, if Matt's stuck at work that long.

And Karen's birthday is Sunday. Hrm. I might be taking the kids to the post office to mail her present. If I can find a box it'll fit in. Hm. Your present might be late, Karen. Sorry about that.

And at some point, I need to go to the bank so I can cash my birthday checks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Definitely Thursday

Earlier this week, my dad called to tell me that my Uncle John and Aunt Laura were coming to town for a short visit, arriving Thursday and leaving Saturday, and he knew it was a tight schedule, but if we could swing by, that would be great.

I informed Matt, and we made plans to take the kids down to visit on Friday evening.

Yesterday, Dad called and told me that while my mom had correctly remembered the "Thursday" and the "two-day visit", she'd put the Thursday at the wrong end of things, and they'd arrived Tuesday evening and were leaving Thursday.


Matt and I flailexed for a bit, rearranged our mental junk, and went down last night instead.

Alex was a little cranky from spending somewhat over an hour straight strapped into his carseat (he fell asleep on the way home from daycare, so he didn't get a break before being bundled back out to the car for the drive down to my folks') and then a little freaked out by all the large, strange people. He cheered up after an hour of clinging to Matt and I, though.

Penny was adorable, showing off for them and conscripting Laura to play with her, and it was nice to see them, since we completely missed them last year.

But it meant that both kids got to bed late, and I didn't get out of the shower until nearly 9, so I didn't bother to log into WoW except to check some mail.

Note to self - I seriously need to take a couple of evenings off from WoW anyway and get my dang scrapbook caught up, because it's stuck back in May. Oops.

Anyway, whether it was the insane madness and running back and forth that was work yesterday, or the sudden jolt to my evening, or what, I'm feeling completely exhausted today. I can't stop yawning, and all I want to do is crawl into a corner and hibernate.

Unfortunately, I need to get on the phone and try to convince Computer Services that no, really, I do need write permissions for the LAN. Whee.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kid Update

Skipped right over yesterday, didn't I? Oops. It's just been so crazy, and I've got so much freaking work to do (and 90% of it is administrivia, argh!) that I dove right in when I got to work yesterday, surfaced long enough to go get my allergy shots and eat lunch, and then spent the afternoon drowning again.

Not much to talk about, anyway, aside from bitching about work. Let's see...

Alex is letting me wear earrings and necklaces again, which is nice. Also, he's cut a fifth tooth, and a sixth is certainly on the way in the very near future. After a three month break between the first and second sets, I was expecting more than two weeks between the second and third. Guess he's making up for lost time, or something.

I need to remember to start giving him a sippy cup with dinner, and trying (while accepting the futility of it) to train him not to bang it or wave it around too much.

Penny's endocrinologist, after weeks of letting her float along at the very top end of her range, has suddenly decided to get aggressive about her night and morning numbers, so he's upped her dose of long-acting insulin, and increased her insulin-to-carb ratio for breakfast. It worked; she was 112 at 10 last night, and 90 this morning at breakfast, which is fantastic. I'm mildly worried about how it'll affect her around lunchtime, since she has a tendency to run low there, but she's already getting a mid-morning snack; if we need to increase the carbs on that (especially, say, on PE day), we can.

And we're going to be signing her up for swimming lessons at the Y -- the next class session starts right before Christmas. (I need to get precise dates and find out if it'll be a problem if she misses the class where we're in Chicago.) The lowest level class they offer isn't even technically a swimming class -- it's water safety, and it's mostly about getting kids comfortable with being in the water. I figure we'll start her there, because she's only been in a pool a handful of times in her life, and there's no real hurry. At six weeks a session, I'm pretty sure we can get her through at least three levels before summer hits.

I think that's it, really. Admire and envy my exciting life!

Monday, November 17, 2008


So on Thursday, I found out that we're laying some people off in my office. Three, to be precise. (Well, one of them isn't technically laid off; he's on "furlough," which is to say, he's on leave without pay until the contract we're counting on to keep him paid actually comes through, which should be in about a month. It's up to him if he wants to look for work elsewhere.)

Anyway, one of the people who's being laid off is our Configuration Management manager. CM is a support position, like QA. It's a gross oversimplification, but if you're not in the industry, then the summary is that QA makes sure that what we create is built correctly and error-free, while CM makes sure that what we deliver is identified and controlled, so that if two people out in the wide world have, say, Widget v1.04, then their copies of Widget v1.04 are identical. There's a lot more to it than that (including internal, pre-delivery code control, for instance), but that's the upshot. Keep in mind that we deliver, on average, 40-50 versioned items every month, some of them on as little as four hours' notice, so this isn't trivial.

Anyone feel like guessing who they've decided can cover the CM manager's duties once she's gone?

Why, yes, that's right! Me!


Okay, anyone who's been reading me for any length of time will have gotten the sense that being QA manager doesn't exactly fill my days. I'd give it between 60 and 75% of my time, depending on what's going on in any given week. And CM isn't really a full-time thing, either -- maybe 70-80%. (The reason we've had the two full-time positions all along is because of that four-hours' notice thing -- we need both positions on-staff and present at all times.)

Anyway, even though both positions have some spare time built in, they still add up to quite a bit more than 100%. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that; the usual answer would be "delegate more" -- but I'm going to have a staff of a whopping 2.5 people, and the 2 have already indicated that they're really not interested in expanding their current roles, and while the half (part-time) is interested in working on the management side of things, she's... part-time, which makes it difficult to assign potentially time-sensitive tasks to her.

Urg. I'll figure it out eventually, I'm sure, but I'm sort of looking at having to do a certain amount of unpaid overtime for the rest of the year.

And to make it all that much shinier, I was pondering all this Friday morning while I was taking the kids to school, and I got Alex dropped off, and on the way back to Penny's school, I rather suddenly started hearing a loud whap-whap-whap noise coming from my right-front tire well. I pulled over, praying that a stray branch had gotten stuck in the wheel, but no such luck.

The good news is that it wasn't a flat tire, but it wasn't that far from one: the rubber had started to peel off the tire. I had a strip about a quarter-inch wide peeling off the edge. It was holding air for the moment, though, so I whap-whap-whaped on down the road and got Penny to school (people walking on the side of the road turned around to stare when I was still a block away), then limped it on home and called Triple-A to send a tow-truck to put the spare on for me.

Normally, I'd relish the excuse and opportunity to skip out of work for a day, but I have a lot of stuff to learn and only about two weeks to learn it. I'd been hoping to get started on that.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


Just lately, Penny's started bringing a sketchpad and a bag of crayons in the car with her in the mornings.

I'm happy to encourage this. Drawing is an excellent outlet for internal stress and confusion, and it's excellent practice for hand-eye coordination, and it helps teach careful observation. And, of course, it's wonderful exercise for the imagination.

Also, I love it because she never just draws a picture. She narrates stories while she's at it, and I love listening to her.

This morning, Penny drew herself and Ray at the park, and then she drew Alex. He had mittens and boots. And crazy hair! And then he had really crazy hair! And then he had a parachute backpack, because he was going to go for a ride in a hot-air balloon, and he needed to be safe. And then he had special safe mittens and boots and a shirt and a hat.

New piece of paper! An ocean. With a dandelion and a poppy floating in it. And a whale came out of the ocean! (But don't worry, it didn't eat the flowers. It just swam by them.) And it made water come out of the hole on its head. A lot of water! And then up in the sky... A bat! The bat has a magic purse that her father gave her. The magic purse had some yucky water in it, so she poured it out. And there's Alex in his hot-air balloon!

New piece of paper! Penny and Ray again, at the park. On a really big slide! A rainbow slide! And look, there's Alex on the ground, because his hot-air balloon ride is all done. (He landed on the slide and jumped down, apparently.) And he has a really big smile because he had a fun time on his ride.

That series got us all the way to Alex's daycare and back to Penny's school this morning, and since it was especially charming, I thought I'd share.

It was cooler (at least to me) than the new iris scanner we have to operate the door at work, which is what I was going to talk about.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


So for the first time, I can say I'm a published writer.

Not paid, mind, but published. 365 Tomorrows is a webzine that specializes in short (500 words or less) science fiction.

Today, they've published my story, "The Dovecote". (Some of you may have seen an earlier incarnation before. It took me a lot of work to pare it down to 500 words.)

I'm so excited, I'm about to burst.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


On my way back from the gym tonight, I got sucked into this imaginary conversation that completely killed whatever endorphin high I'd managed to scrounge up and totally trashed my mood. (Yeah, I have Issues.)

Anyway, when I got home and WoW was down, I decided I'd let Kevil finish this little song he started writing over a year ago that was still feeling too rough around the edges to share.

And now, having finished it, I will share. Those of you who know Kevil, however, may find yourselves a bit... surprised. It doesn't mix well with the rest of his oeuvre.

Did I ask you if you'd love me?
Did I invite you in my heart?
Did I sigh of tender feelings,
Or pray we'd never part?

My heart is hid in stone and glass
that your tears won't melt away.
I warned you not to love me
I said I wouldn't stay.

Did I ask you if you'd love me?
Did I hope that you might care?
Did I lay roses at your feet,
Or twine them in your hair?

Did I ever feign devotion?
Did I tell you pretty lies?
Did I suggest I wanted more from you
than the warmth between your thighs?

Did I ask you if you'd love me?
Did you think I could be won?
Did I ever give you tender hope?
Try to understand: we're done.

Together We Stand

Every once in a while, I'll end up reading a website that, when I'm finished, it seems almost disrespectful to do something so simple as click on a button and dismiss it.

This is one of those sites.

Thanks for pointing me at it, Karen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

So yep, yesterday was my birthday.

Mmm, cake!

It was nice. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful, and I had sweet, thoughtful gifts from Matt and my mother-in-law. (My parents are saving the "official" birthday for the end of the month, to combine it with Matt's, but I had a card and a little silly present from them, too, so I'd know they hadn't forgotten.)

Matt gave me a replacement exercise ball (I don't use it to exercise, but it's a comfy seat when I'm keeping an eye on Alex in the playroom, and I was surprisingly disappointed when my old one got punctured beyond repair) and a new digital photo frame to replace the one Jill gave us a couple of years ago that stopped working.

And Jill sent a Hallowe'en-themed photo frame (I have to find out where she buys her frames, because they're always adorable) and some new mittens (for our trip up, she said) and a very pretty new shirt. Yay, presents!

Also, Matt got me a coconut creme cake. YUM. You Weight Watchers people really, really don't want to know. The nutrition facts printed on it tried to tell me that a serving was 1/18th of the cake. Okay, now I've been working really hard lately on portion control, but seriously? How do you even measure that? Let alone slice it without the cake crumbling into nonexistence? I re-figured for 1/8 (for Matt and I) and 1/16 (for Penny), figuring those for easier to eyeball and cut -- not to mention actually satisfying portions.

And yes, Alex enjoyed the cake, too.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I've mentioned I'm going to a therapist, right? It started because stress was getting to me; I decided I had to do something after I was driving home one night and for a few seconds, seriously considered turning around and leaving.

I debate endlessly with myself about whether it's worth my time and money, though. I have trouble opening up to the therapist, in part because I have a sneaking suspicion that she thinks I'd be fine if I'd just lose a hundred pounds or so. I can't say my weight isn't an issue, but I don't think it's The Issue and I wish we could get through just one session without it coming up. But mostly I don't open up to her because it just doesn't come naturally to me.

That's probably a surprise to certain friends of mine who have been dragged deep into the land of TMI with me, but that's the key: friends. I don't talk to people I don't know well about my private life, much less my problems in my private life. And there are some things I don't care to talk about at all, even with friends.

Which doesn't do me much good when it comes to therapy.

Nevertheless, whenever I have managed to pry open my mouth, I've usually felt better for it, and sometimes she manages to come up with some insight that's really helped. So I'm working at it.

I felt good about yesterday's session. I was going to talk about some resentment issues I've got going. And it came down to the fact that people that I thought should take something seriously and personally just don't feel about it the way I thought they would, and that's life, and I need to just get over it.

But it wasn't cathartic to admit to feeling resentment, and she didn't have any suggestions for me. She threw up an anecdote of her own, but it didn't help.

So I'm still stuck with the feelings, and I'll eventually work through it on my own, or just let it fade away, or whatever. Life sucks, wear a helmet.

And I'm back to wondering if I should just cancel my next appointment and go back to muddling through on my own.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yesterday was a Monday, even though it was a Wednesday.

I couldn't seem to work on anything for more than a few minutes at a time before something else would interrupt me.

Part of it is my own fault, I admit -- some of the interruptions were things like chat or the rss feed or twitter, and I confess I wasn't feeling terribly invested in the work I was trying to get done, so it was easy to interrupt.

But even the stuff I was invested in kept getting jostled. KT sent me her NaNoWriMo stuff to read, and even though she's only done two and a half chapters so far, and even though I'm a very fast reader (not the fastest reader I know, but in the top five) it took me two whole hours to get through it, just because of all the interruptions.

Maybe today will go a little smoother. We'll see.

Tomorrow promises to be slightly crazy, though. We've got half a dozen documents and two software packages going out, Alexis is going to be in town so I'm meeting her for lunch, I need to leave work in time to pick Penny up from school, pack her things (not forgetting both kinds of insulin, please!), and drive her down to KT's for a sleepover (dropping Alex off with my mom on the way) and then Matt and I are going to take advantage of childlessness to go out to dinner together. Whew!

Yeah, it should be fun (huge stack of deliveries notwithstanding), but it'll be hectic. Wish us luck. And not-horrible traffic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A guy I know posted a link to this on Twitter:

(Click to see it full-size; it's definitely worth a look.)

Except that I am such a complete NERD that after briefly appreciating its grand Statement, I found myself fascinated with studying the evolution of hair styles and clothing.


Watching the polls come in last night was unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

In previous years, Matt and I would sit in front of the TV -- flipping between CNN and Comedy Central -- and watch the results come in. We'd refresh the various websites during the commercials, and (for pretty much all our married life) drink and curse a lot.

Last night was similar in some ways: We had the TV on (CNN early, then Comedy Central from about 8:30 until 11 or so, and then back to CNN) and we were refreshing our various websites (I had a tab for CNN and a tab for Google News; Matt had four or five sites going, I think).

But Matt was also on Instant Messenger, and we were both on Twitter. Occasionally one of us would read aloud something that had been said by someone we knew the other didn't follow. And it didn't feel like the two of us were sitting alone, clutching our hands and holding our breath. It felt like a community, clutching our hands and holding our breath. A community that prayed for the best, a community that cursed and celebrated. A community that reached all over the country.

When Virginia was finally called, I saw it first on Twitter from someone I follow who lives in California. It was several minutes later that Google News showed it, and almost ten minutes more before CNN posted it -- and in the meantime, I'd seen three or four other twitters confirming it from various sources.

It was amazing.

I couldn't stop holding my breath until I'd seen McCain's concession speech, and after that, I couldn't do anything but wait to see Obama's speech. I only got five hours of sleep last night, but it was worth it. I went to bed filled with hope and optimism.

Could I have asked for a better birthday present?

(Well, yes. I could ask for all those stupid damn "marriage definition" initiatives to have failed, as well. But on the bright side, many of those races came in closer than I would have expected them to -- at least it's moving in the right direction. It'll take time, but we'll get there in the end.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


By the way, if you haven't already voted, then when you do go -- say a kind word to the people who are working the polls -- the line directors and the ID checkers and the ballot-distributors and all the others.

They are volunteers. They had to be at the polls at 4 this morning to set up, and they cannot leave the premises at all until all their district's votes have been tallied -- possibly not until midnight or later. Not even for meals -- they had to pack their breakfast, lunch, and dinner and bring it in.

I know all that because my parents are among them this year. (One of the guys I work with lives in the neighborhood next to my parents', and he came in this morning to tell me he saw my dad, who seemed to be having a great time. My dad has become a political activist in the last year or so -- he even let his chosen Representative candidate and his aides stay at their house. As a pollster, however, he's required to keep his political opinions to himself.)

So when you go to vote, tell those pollsters "thank you" for giving up their day for democracy.

Happily Allied

I voted!

Penny's school is closed today for Election Day, so Matt is staying home with her. He agreed that they would take Alex to school, so I got to duck out of the house at ten minutes to seven so I could dash over to our voting place.

I wound up having to park a good two blocks from the school -- I couldn't even see it from where I parked. But I was in line (outside the school door and nearly to the far edge of the building) by just a smidge after seven, and being given a "sample" ballot by a "helpful" Republican.

My district only had three things to vote on: President, Senator, and Representative. No additional initiatives or proposals. So the line moved pretty fast. By 7:10, I was inside the building and out of the rain. The line moved through the lobby, down an adjacent hallway, and then all the way back up the same hallway before turning a corner into the cafeteria where the actual voting booths were. At 7:30 almost precisely, I fed my ballot to the machine and walked out. I was at work by 7:45.

Yay, me.

(The title of the blog post is a quote that goes something like, "In this, by coincidence, my duty and my pleasure are happily allied." But I can't for the life of me find it, or anything similar to it, on Google, and I'm beginning to wonder if I imagined it. If this rings a bell with you, too, please please post a comment and tell me what it's from before I go mad.)

Monday, November 3, 2008


Alex's peapod costume didn't fit.

I got his legs in the bottom of the bunting, and his arm through one sleeve, and when I went to get his other arm into the other sleeve, the shoulder of the costume on that side only came up as high as his armpit.

"Well, maybe you can bend your knees," I told him. "We're not going to be out long." I bent his knees, but before I could even readdress the sleeve, I could see that, with bent knees, there was no way the costume would zip up.

Thank goodness I'd picked up the festive-but-not-a-costume outfit for him to wear to school; he just stayed in that for our prowl around the neighborhood.

Ready to Roll!

Penny wanted to go with Ray, of course, so we met up with him and his mom and headed off down the street. We only did about two blocks, though, before Ray decided he was done and wanted to head home. I thought Penny would want to continue after Ray went home, but she decided she'd rather play with him. (Ray's family tradition -- his dad brings a bunch of glow-in-the-dark stuff and they play outside in the dark. He always brings enough for Penny, too.)

Two Knights

Which worked out pretty well, since it was about time to get Alex to bed. I left Matt to keep an eye on Penny while handing out candy, and went inside. Matt ran out of candy at 7, even though he'd been "limiting" his handouts to three pieces per kid. (Next year: four bags of candy.)

Alex was tired, but didn't want to sleep; he was still squawking and talking when, at 7:30, Matt came in to tell me that Penny wanted to do some more trick-or-treating. So he took her down another couple of blocks while I got my shower.

All in all, it was a good Hallowe'en. Penny had lots of fun and collected a huge stash of candy (and I have to say, the quality seems to have come up from last year, too).

Saturday we went down to the Turnitsas for Game Day. Matt settled into some colonization game while I got Penny a plate of fruit and cheese and settled her in front of a Teen Titans DVD with the four-year-old son of one of the other gamers, and wrangled Alex, who was a little tentative about all the new faces.

When Penny had finished her snack, I dug out her kit to give her a shot, and realized there weren't any needles in it. Well... shit. Matt handed me his cards and drove home for them.

Half an hour later, just as I was starting to get a feel for the rules of the game, Alex got fussy and I decided to fix him a bottle. I got out the diaper bag and the containers of formula I'd carefully packed and... I'd forgotten to pack a bottle for him to use.

Firing on all cylinders, I was, Saturday.

Luckily, Alex managed to make do with bits of fruit and cheese until we got him home, though the dinner pizza didn't arrive until nearly his bedtime, and he was pretty fussy the whole time we were eating. We jumped ship immediately after we'd eaten.

And Matt remembered on the way home that it was clock-changing night. Oy.

So we spent Sunday recovering from the rest of the weekend and feeling slightly zombie-ish, since of course both kids were up at 5.