Friday, January 30, 2009


It happens more often than I'd like that I sit down here, and open this window, and nothing comes out.

It's not that I have nothing to say, it's just that I've said it before. The kids are adorable and clever; my job is utterly devoid of personal satisfaction or any sense of accomplishment; my house is cluttered and it's making me crazy; I continue to be shocked and dismayed by my body's betrayals despite my years of abuse and the warnings of generations; my social life is either nonexistent or so hectic I wish it was nonexistent.

All of which makes my life sound rather on the bleak side, adorable and clever kids notwithstanding.

...It occurs to me that maybe I'm on the downward spiral for another bout of PMS. The last one hit right after Christmas, so the timing works out. (Yes, I have an appointment to talk to my doctor about this. I've had down spells before, but this monthly dump into The Land Of Worm-Eating Depression for most of a week is intolerable. And I suspect my family and friends aren't enjoying it all that much, either.)

Okay, an effort to brighten things up: Adorable and clever kid time!

So far, I've been entirely wrong in all my estimates for Alex. He rolled over later than I thought, he crawled later than I thought, he started walking later than I thought... it is any wonder that I'm wrong about him talking, too? Given his babbling, I thought for certain that he'd be talking earlier than Penny did -- and there's still a little time for that, since she didn't talk until 15 months, but I'm not seeing it right now.

Which is not to say he doesn't understand anything. There are definitely a few words he's got down pat. If you say, "Alex, where's Mommy?" he'll twist around to find me. He usually will look for "Daddy," too. If you prompt him to find "Hippo," he'll toddle over to wherever he left Hippo, and pick it up.

And "book." Alex loves his books, and he definitely knows the word. Last night, he was sitting on my lap and he pointed at the book shelf and made some noise. "Yes, those are books," I said encouragingly. "It's just about time for a bedtime book. You want to get a book, Alex? Go get a book and bring it to Mommy?"

And damned if he didn't slide off my lap, wobble across the room, pick up a board book, and wobble back to me to put the book firmly in my hands.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I had book club last night. Several people couldn't make it, so there were only five of us, but we had a good time anyway.

Then I got home, took a shower, and sat down to finish reading a chapter I'd started earlier in the day, and before I knew it, it was after midnight.

So when the alarm went off this morning, it was extra-painful. Penny and Alex did their part by sleeping in until 6:30. Eventually, I dragged myself upright, did my stretches for my knee, and got dressed. I took over getting Alex dressed for Matt so he could go get a shower, and headed downstairs.

Alex was in a wonderful mood this morning -- he didn't fuss when I had to put him down, contentedly toddling along after me, or wandering off on his own cognizance, which was a nice change of pace. I got everyone's lunches out, took my medicine, made sure Penny had her shoes on, and sat down on the couch to check my email.

Alex toddled over to me with a book. I'm all about encouraging books, so I picked him up and started to read to him.


"What is it?"

"I'm still hungry. Can I have something else?"

"Um... Sure. How about a piece of cheese?"


"Can you get it yourself? I'm reading to Alex."


A few minutes later, Matt came downstairs, and Alex crawled across the couch to him. Penny was only just finishing up her cheese, and I glanced up at the clock.

Dammit, it was already 7:23. I like to start chivvying everyone into their coats at 7:20, and Penny still needed to get her shot and put her backpack together.

Have you ever noticed that when you're running late, all the other cars on the road are being particularly leisurely? We even got behind one car that apparently didn't like the look of the traffic light, or something, as we sat through an entire rotation of the signals. Grr!

Somehow, I managed to make up enough lost time that we got to Penny's school before the bell rang, which got my day back on track, but I still feel harried and rushed, which is frustrating.

It doesn't help that we've got six software apps in three deliveries between today and Tuesday, along with all the attendant documentation, and naturally, most of it is still being worked on. Just once, I'd like to have a delivery that didn't involve an enormous last-minute rush.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


My boss stopped into my office yesterday to tell me that he's planning on about three proposals in the next six weeks, so I should brace to be called on for technical editing.

And that he ended up in the hospital last week (he has a heart condition) and his doctor has told him in no uncertain terms that if he doesn't want longer and more frequent hospital stays, then he needs to stop making excuses about why he can't get any exercise and just do it.

Which was by way of telling me that he's going to be working on delegating more, and that I should expect to be taking work home with me.

I think he seriously underestimates the amount of thumb-twiddling time I have at work, but I suppose we'll see. In any case, it sounds like I'm going to need to cull my bookmarks and feeds again, for my own sanity, because I'm going to have less time to keep up with them.

I did a mini-purge a few weeks ago. I realized that there were a number of feeds that, when I saw they'd updated, I winced and whined and put off reading them -- and seriously, why would I keep something around that doesn't make me happy? Because one out of every twenty posts was useful or amusing? Not good enough. Buh-bye.

If my boss's prediction of additional effort is correct (sometimes his predictions fall through, so we'll see) then I'm attacking the next set of feeds: The ones that I only skim. BoingBoing is full of weird and wondrous things, but I only actually read maybe one in ten posts. There are comics that I only find funny once in a while, or that post not only comics but long rambling messages from the author that I'm largely uninterested in. The gaming blogs are occasionally helpful, but mostly just detritus that I sort through. All of which is fine if I have time on my hands, but if I don't... I don't want to see it.

I barely have enough space to breathe right now. If my schedule gets more crowded, then something will have to drop out to make space for it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Karen got Matt a Whatnot for Christmas. Or, more precisely, a Whatnot kit. Which, given Matt's adoration of the Muppets, was a fabulous idea, and I'm still kicking myself that it wasn't my idea.

Anyway, Matt wasted little time in building his Whatnot and placing the order, and it arrived yesterday.

Penny wanted to know what his name was, and Matt said he hadn't picked one yet. Though Braz had commented on his resemblance to Dr. Brown in the Back To the Future movies.

"He looks like a doctor, or maybe a professor," I said. And so it wasn't long before I'd started calling him Professor Whatnot. Though that's only a temporary moniker, until Matt decides on something more permanent.

Alex was curious about Professor Whatnot, but mostly just wanted to play with the drawstring from his bag. Penny was fascinated, though, and wanted to have endless conversations.

"I had a juice box," she told the Professor.

"Oh, really?" the Professor wheezed. "I almost invented the juice box."


Also, Penny's toy horse apparently mistook Professor Whatnot's nose for a carrot and got very excited and chased him around a bit.

All in all: two thumbs up!

Monday, January 26, 2009


Nice, quiet weekend, with nothing in particular on the schedule. We ran errands and played with the kids and generally relaxed.

Alex tried on Penny's hat. He looked pretty suave for a while, but it kept falling down and engulfing his entire head.

Penny decided, after six months of just looking at it, that she was ready to try riding her bike. The seat was too low and the tires underinflated, but she managed to ride it all the way up to her school and back!

(We played on the playground for a while before heading back, of course.)

I walked with her, and was pleased to note that my knee didn't give me too much trouble along the way, but the next day it hurt so bad I could barely stand up, nevermind walk. Sigh. So much for my tentative plan to start walking once a week or so.

We went to Chick-fil-A for dinner, and that went pretty well. Penny got to play on the playground some while Alex was finishing up his dinner, and we even left before Alex got fussy!

Sunday was bath night, of course. Penny got hers first, but Alex crawled up the stairs after her -- well, after the water, I think. He loves reaching over the side of the tub to splash and play with the bubbles.

All in all -- the kids were cute and (mostly) good, the activities were fun, and we got our turns sleeping in: I call it a win!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Balancing Act

Matt got a chance to chat with Penny's endocrinologist yesterday, which we don't often get to do -- he usually calls while we're at work, and leaves a message suggesting changes to her insulin ratios or basal rate without really explaining his thinking.

But this time, Matt was home when he called, so Matt got a little insight into things, which was helpful.

For instance -- this past weekend was my dad's birthday, and Penny completely carbo-loaded. She had a baked potato and a hunk of garlic bread and ice cream and baked apples with brown sugar, and by the time I'd added it all up, it was over 100 grams of carbohydrates for the meal, more than twice her usual load of carbs, and I gave her a shot with more than twice her usual dose of insulin.

And then that night, she had a frightening low (41), and remained on the low side all night, and then spent the next day floating a little on the high side. I assumed I'd miscalculated (or incorrectly estimated) and given her too much insulin, and that the highs were a remnant of the juice we'd given her to combat the low. But it turns out that's not quite accurate.

The doctor explained to Matt that with really huge meals, it takes the body longer to process the carbs than it does to use up the insulin -- so the insulin to balance 100g of carbs hit and was all used up within about 3 hours, even though only maybe 50-60g of the carbs had made it into her blood by that point. So we had to give her more carbs to keep her from dropping too low, and because her body was already processing carbs as fast as it could, it just took a while for them to absorb -- which is why she hung a little low all night, but then popped up the next day.

The thing to do, the doctor told us, if (when) she has another massive carb load like this, is to deliver a smaller initial dose than the math suggests (probably capping off at about 150% her usual dose), and then to just be aware that she's likely to run high for about the next twenty-four hours, and to stay on top of that with corrective doses.

Which is, finally, a rational explanation for what they told us in the hospital they called the "pizza effect" -- where diabetics eat certain foods and then run high for a day or more afterward. The specific problem foods vary from person to person, though they tend to be foods high in both carbs and fat (like, say, pizza) are the most common culprits, because the fat slows the absorption of the carbs and stretches it out over a longer period.

It's been said before, and I'll say it again: I have no idea how less intelligent people manage this. Because it's not even a matter of being able to operate this moderately complicated formula for figuring out her dosages -- we actually need to understand a whole host of other variables and take them into account on the fly. We've long since abandoned the neat rounding scheme they gave us at the hospital, and started making judgment calls about whether to round up or down based on whether she's had extra exercise, or a particularly heavy meal, or has been in a bad mood, or even just a gut feeling that she could use a little more or a little less at any given time.

The doctor also lowered Penny's bedtime slow-acting insulin dose; she's been waking up on the lower end of her range, and he wants to see her morning numbers in the 100-120 range, rather than 80-100. I appreciate him telling us the goal in addition to just giving us the change. If we know what the goal is, then we can apply our own not-inconsiderable brains to the problem, instead of just blindly shuffling along behind the solution. Because he's the doctor, and he knows far more than we do about exactly how this disease and its treatments work -- but we're the parents who have to try to teach Penny how to manage the tightrope act, and it helps to know where the rope is, how high up it is, and how much tension it's under.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Say Again?

When I went in for my allergy shots on Tuesday, they'd gotten in my fresh serums, so it was time for a vial test. That's where they inject a very tiny amount of the serum just barely under the surface of the skin, wait ten minutes, and then measure the size of the welt that forms, to ensure the serum isn't too strong.

I get three different serums. Two of them are on "maintenance," which means I get the same dosage, once a week. The third is still building up to maintenance, which means I get a slightly larger dose each time I go in, and I need to go in twice a week for it. And when they order me a fresh vial of serum, they order it in a more concentrated form and start over with tiny doses, working their way up. Slow building of tolerance, yadda yadda yadda.

After my ten minutes, the serum that's been on maintenance had a small welt, the other one on maintenance had a medium-to-large welt but passed inspection, and the building serum... was enormous and still growing.

"Well, that counts as your shot for the week," the nurse said, frowning at my arm. "Given this reaction, you need to wait seven days before we do another round."

Which means I don't have to go in for an allergy shot today or tomorrow. And I only need to go to the gym one more time this week.

Which means, in effect, that I have a "free" lunch break today or tomorrow. I don't have to drive to the other side of Williamsburg to do something about my health. I don't have to postpone a gym trip to after dinner so I can meet Matt for lunch. (I'm not meeting Matt for lunch anyway, because Penny's school is on half-days for the rest of the week.) A whole hour, for myself! I'm giddy with the possibilities.

(And just imagine -- once that last serum goes on maintenance, I'll only have to get my shots once a week, and I'll have a free lunch break every week!)

Color Me...

So Elizabeth posted her results of this color quiz, and I'm a sucker for online quizzes -- mostly because they're funny. So I followed the link and read Elizabeth's results, and found something rather more in-depth than most quizzes get to. And also, a pretty dead-on peg of Elizabeth's personality, from what I could tell.

So out of curiosity, I took the quiz myself.

ColorQuiz.comLiz took the free personality test!

"Over-imaginative and given to fantasy or day-dream..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Eerily accurate.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Late Start

Alex had a doctor's appointment this morning at 9, to make sure his ear infections had cleared up and, assuming they had, get his 12-month vaccinations.

Luckily, Matt's office was undergoing some work this morning and everyone was warned not to come in until at least 8:30, so he was available to take her to school. Otherwise, I'd have been lugging Alex along for that dropoff.

Alex was fine while we were in the house, fine in the car, fine walking up to the doctor's office, fine in the elevator... and then we got into the doctor's office and he acquired a sadditude. (It's like an attitude, but sad.) Horrible mother that I was, I put him down! Twice!

He calmed down a little after he'd been weighed and his temperature taken, mostly by dint of bribery -- I held him and fed him pieces of cracker and banana. He wasn't too keen on the doctor examining him, but didn't bust out The Lip. (Also: brushing cracker crumbs off of clothes is apparently the funniest thing to happen so far today. Whenever I stopped, he'd twist around and brush me off, just to keep it going.)

And then it was time for the vaccinations, and that was very sadmaking, indeed. But he'd mostly cooled off by the time we got to the elevator, and was calm and cool by the time we were in the car, and by the time we got to daycare, he was so happy to be there and oh look! toys! and... Mom? Who's Mom? We don't know anyone with that name.

So I'm at work an hour and a half late, which isn't too big a deal since I worked an extra hour Monday. I'm trying to decide if I bust out some alternate exercise today (lift weights at my desk, or walk around the circle) instead of going to the gym, to cut my lunch break short, or work through and go to the gym after dinner. We'll see how I feel about it when lunch rolls around, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

White Stuff

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Aaaa! Execute FLAILEX maneuver! AAAAAH! THE SKY IS FALLING!

I swear, three flakes of snow and the entire eastern half of the state shuts down. The snow hasn't even started falling yet, and every school district south of us has declared it a snow day.

Well, I'm sure it's for the best. I mean, we are supposed to get three whole inches.

For pity's sake...

When I got Penny to school today, the principal came out to tell me that the school nurse was out for the day and did I want to come in and do her shots and such, or would it be okay if the designated backup took over Penny's care. (The designated backup is the mother of the school's other diabetic student, who just so happens to work at the school, so I felt pretty confident about turning it over to her for the day -- she promised to call me with updates or if she had any questions.)

"Penny, this is Mrs. D., she's going to be doing your shot today, okay?"

"Yeah, I know." Penny was supremely uninterested in this detail, and turned back to watching the clock.

The principal chuckled. "She's probably hoping for snow." Apparently, the office had already fielded over a hundred phone calls about whether they were open today. The principal actually rolled her eyes as she gestured toward the parking lot. "Look outside! There's nothing there!"

In real news, I'm pretty excited for the inauguration today. My boss's daughter's best friend got tickets to actually attend, and he told me she was there at 7:30 this morning, and the stadium was already a complete madhouse.

Matt's got the TiVO set to record it -- we don't mind skipping most of the festivities, but we'd like to see Obama's first speech as President.

President Obama. I get chills just thinking about it. In a good way.

About a year ago, someone said something to me about him, and I said, "A black man with a name only a letter off from Osama? In this country? I would love to see it happen, but I wouldn't bet on it."

I've never been so happy to be wrong in all my life. I'm sure I'm destined for disappointment -- he's a politician, after all, and there's only so much even the President can do -- but right now it feels like the beginning of a relationship when everything is sparkly and perfect.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I very much like my boss. He has great stories about his Army Ranger days, he's got a snarky sense of humor, he loathes the corporate bureaucracy, we fall into the same general political spectrum (so blue we're nearly invisible), and he seems to legitimately care about everyone in the office.

Every so often, he'll stick his head into my office and say, "How're you doing?"

And I'll say something along the line of, "I'm working on thus-and-so and gearing up for Project X."

Then he'll sigh -- that almost parental sort of, "Don't you understand yet?" sigh -- and say, "No, how are you doing?"

And I'll offer up some anecdote from home: Alex is teething, or Penny's latest surprise mental leap, or... something. There's a better than even chance that it'll remind him of a story of his own, and we'll chat for four or five minutes, and he'll head on his way.

I've learned that he hates grits. With an abiding passion. (I eat them for breakfast almost every morning.) He cannot restrain a shudder whenever he sees me with my bowl, and I usually respond with some wise-ass comment. Naturally, there's a funny story to go with it that he tells whenever someone else observes the exchange.

He also -- and this cannot amuse me enough -- is utterly fascinated by the contents of my iPod.

Because I have a small private office, I don't bother with earphones -- I have a small set of minijack speakers on my desk, so if you come into my office, you'll hear whatever I'm listening to. And I've got about 90% of my music collection on my iPod, and I'm prone to just putting the whole thing on "random," unless I'm in the mood for a specific playlist.

So one time my boss poked his head into my office to ask some question, did a double-take, and stared at my speakers. "What. Is that?" he demanded.

"Um..." I picked up the iPod and checked the screen. "Islamic prayer chanting."

"Wha-? Seriously?"

"Yeah. It's mood music for when I'm writing."

"Islamic prayer chants are mood music."

"Well, depending on what I'm writing. Yes."

"I thought I had wide-ranging music tastes, but wow."

"Oh, I have all kinds of stuff. Come back in an hour and it'll probably be traditional Chinese throat-singing."

He gave me a Look, and left.

But the next day he came back. "What is it today?"

"KMFDM. German industrial techno."

"You know, I thought I had wide-ranging musical tastes, because I'll listen to rock and pop. Do you have any... what was it that was so popular a few years back... Gregorian chants?"

"You know, I don't think I do, but I really should."

He walked away, shaking his head and laughing.

I don't think of myself as having that huge a collection of music (especially compared to, say, KT's), but it is pretty eclectic, I'll give it that. I've got Abba and ZZ Top; I've got bellydancing music and filk; oldies and classic rock and bubblegum pop; jazz and blues and folk and swing; soundtracks from Broadway and movies and anime; rap and metal and punk and country. I have classical music, and techno remixes of classical music. Traditional music samples from the Middle East and Africa and China and South America.

If I have to admit it, I kind of live for the moment when my boss is in here chatting and Beethoven slides into Britney Spears. The look on his face will be priceless.


So: Good weekend, if busy.

Penny had a fantastic time helping me make popcorn balls Friday evening, and people seemed to enjoy them at the Mismas party.

Popcorn Balls

The Mismas party was fun. I got to meet a few new people, and we had good food and Alex didn't completely obsess over the stairs, so I actually got to chat. So all in all, success!

Picture shamelessly stolen from Jeremy

Then we had Jess over to spend the night, and that was actually quite fun. The girls kept each other entertained, for the most part, and they were actually very well-behaved, and they both slept until well past 6:30. They were both kind of ticked with us when KT and Kevin showed up Sunday to take Jess home.

Morning Excitement

I don't know how long it took Jess to get over being ticked, but Penny got over it fairly quickly when she was reminded that we were going to my parents' for dinner to celebrate my dad's birthday. Dad's favorite dessert is apple pie, but between Penny's carb count and my diet, I decided to make an apple crumble instead, to serve over the ice cream my parents were already planning on. That went over quite well; I'm looking forward to making it again, with some possible tweaks.

For ME?

And Alex has finally started to figure out that walking is something worth doing -- it's not his primary mode of locomotion yet, but it's definitely getting there.

So, yeah. Good weekend.

Today is MLK, Jr. Day (or, in the South, Lee-Jackson-King Day: don't think I'm not aware of that bit of irony) which means that Matt has the day off from work and both school and daycare are closed. I'm at work, though. We get 9 holidays a year, but some of the smaller holidays (like today, and Columbus Day, etc) got canceled in favor of three "floating" holidays, to be assigned individually by each employee. It works out in everyone's favor -- the company gets its offices open and productive three extra days a year, and the employees get to use those holidays for their own convenience, to extend vacations or take personally significant days (like, say, their birthday or anniversary).

Which is not to say I didn't grumble a little while I was getting dressed this morning. I stayed up last night until almost midnight to finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (I hit the climax at about 9:30, so of course I had to keep going from there!) I might end up at the coffee pot when my breakfast tea is done.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Warrior

This weekend promises to be exhausting, but fun.

Tonight, I'm making popcorn balls to take to the Miss-mas party tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the Miss-mas party. (I need to wrap my present for that at some point, too.) That should be entertaining, though I'm mildly apprehensive about how Alex will react, as there will be lots of people there he doesn't know. But we'll get to meet an internet friend for the first time, and I'm looking forward to that!

After the party, KT and Kevin will be dropping Jess off at our place for a sleepover -- two in two weeks, whoo!

Sunday morning, I need to get to the grocery store early so that I can come back and make a dessert for my dad's birthday party that evening. (His favorite is apple pie, but that has oodles of calories and carbs. I found a recipe for apple crumble that isn't too bad, though.)

And then, of course, we'll go over to my folks' for the birthday party.

(I was going to have to run out Saturday to get Dad a birthday present, but Matt helped me find one for him last night, so that's taken care of -- whew!)

So, lots of fun... but I might drag into work on Monday feeling grateful for the chance to sit still for a few hours!

Tweet, Tweet

I've started posting my daily to-do goals on twitter each morning. Not everything on my to-do list, which is absurdly long and grows faster than I can keep up, but the list of things that I really have to get done that day and, if there's room left over, the other tasks that I reasonably think I can get done for the day.

It's a useful addendum to the full list, because the full list is rarely less than two pages long (and often up to three) and can be kind of overwhelming. And it doesn't include appointments and meetings, which I do put in the twitter list. So gathering the day's tasks together for twitter forces me to consider exactly how much time I've got to work with, and how long I expect each task to take. It makes me prioritize the tasks on my list and address things on an as-needed basis.

Interestingly, with the day's list in front of me, I'm more productive, mostly because I don't get overwhelmed by the "everything" list and end up doing nothing. I allow myself breaks: Finish this task (or this part of a task) and then I can spend ten minutes skimming my RSS feeds.

It probably makes for boring reading for my twitter followers, but that seems to be the order of the day for twitter, really -- I have friends who tweet flylady tasks, workout progress, waking and sleeping habits, and every leg of every trip (including seat assignments). Twitter seems to be as much for personal reference as it is for communication. It's a peculiar little tool.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grudge Match

This morning, Penny wanted to wear a short-sleeved dress to school, and I told her she could, but she'd have to wear a long-sleeved shirt with it. And tights for her legs.

"But I'll get all sweaty!" she protested.

"It's cold outside, and you need to wear something on your arms and your legs," I said.

She got mad and stamped her foot at me. I sent her to her room. She slammed the door.

I went back to getting dressed. I was in the closet getting my shoes when Penny came back in. "My brain made me mad and stamp my foot," she said, all sweetness and light, "but you're right. I can wear a long-sleeve shirt under my dress."

So I got her favorite pink short-sleeved dress out of the closet and helped her pick out a long-sleeved pink shirt to wear under it. She threw her arms around me. "I love you, Mother!" (She calls me "Mother" when she's feeling a bit silly.)

"I love you too, Daughter," I responded, and that was that. Penny doesn't hold grudges the way I do.

When I was in the 8th grade, a couple of kids in my chemistry class tried to convince me that a friend of theirs wanted to be my boyfriend. Since he'd never said a single word to me before, I got a bonus to my Disbelieve Roll, and I told them that he would have to ask me himself. They left, whispering and giggling, and I congratulated myself on having dodged that bullet.

But they outsmarted me -- they went back to their friend and told him that I was interested in him. His "oh, yecch!" response was loud enough to turn every head in the class. You'd think my ire would settle on his troublemaking friends, but he was the one I loathed from that moment on. I still remember his name: Arty Shell.

Ten years later, I discovered that he worked at my bank. He had no idea who I was, even after I mentioned that we'd been in school together. I laughed it off and didn't expand any further, but... I'd like to say I've forgiven and forgotten, but I'm not sure I ever really will. It was one of the defining moments of my life. I can't tell you how much sleep I lost -- for years afterward -- trying to figure out what I could have done or said differently to have avoided that embarrassment.

My brain is all over the place this morning.

Alex is finally starting to accept that he's going to have to walk eventually -- he'll take four or five steps at a time now, before sitting down and crawling again.

Ms. Gwen told me this morning that he gets a lot of practice at daycare, too. Apparently Alex and Claudia (the girl in his class who's closest to him in age) have a sort of chasing and giggling game that they play a lot, where Claudia will walk over to Alex (she started walking months ago) and laugh at him, and he'll laugh back, and she'll walk away and he'll try to chase her.

"It's amazing how motivated a boy can be when he's chasing a girl, isn't it?" I laughed.

I had a really nice evening, last night. Usually, after dinner, I clean up the dishes and the kitchen and pack lunches for the next day while Matt keeps an eye on the kids, and by the time I'm done (often well before I'm done) it's time for Alex to go to bed. Last night, he offered to clean up so I could play with Alex a little.

And we had a great time. We petted the cat, and he crawled through the tunnel a few times, and we played peekaboo around the side of the tunnel, and we played with his toys. I discovered that if I made kissy noises, he'd lean into me to get the kiss, which was adorable beyond words. He laughed the way babies, do, with his whole mouth -- with his whole being, and it filled me with joy just to watch him. I couldn't stop giving him hugs and kisses, and he loved every second of it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crazy Sock Day

Happy Crazy Sock Day!

Or so Penny proclaimed it, this morning, when she came into our room with one lavender sock and one pale teal sock on her feet.

Weirdly, both socks matched the pants she was wearing, so I let it go. What the heck!

She was a little disappointed that I gave Alex matching socks, but told her it was because he likes to pull them off -- matching socks will make it easier for his teachers to figure out whose they are.

She also tried to talk Matt into joining her on Crazy Sock Day, but as Matt's sock drawer is full of 100% identical socks (barring, I think, two pairs of black socks that he keeps for weddings and the like) he couldn't really help her out.

Also, a tiny announcement. A revelation: I've been on Weight Watchers, more or less in secret, for the last three months. As of this morning, I've officially lost 10% of my starting weight, which was my first major goal, and the point at which I'd decided I would stop trying to keep it a secret.

I've cluttered my journal with my diet-moanings before, and I hate reading through those entries, so I'm not going to do it this time. I'll mention occasional triumphs, probably, but I plan to keep the bitching and moaning and other diet discussion over on the blog that I started for that purpose. If you like reading that sort of thing, it's here, and if you don't, then by all means, just stay over here for the usual everyday stuff.

Monday, January 12, 2009


What's the worse sin: being a quitter, or being a liar?

What's the bigger lie: a blatant mask, or skillful makeup?

I just deleted about an hour's worth of writing, here, because it couldn't say what I need it to say, not while operating within the boundaries of sanity.

I'm feeling more than a little fragile today, and I rather suspect it's pushing me toward being Dramatic. And however honest that Drama would feel if I let it out, I would probably just be embarrassed when the bleeding stopped.

This is still pretty Dramatic, I know. But at least it's a blatant mask, and not a diplomatic vagueness. I'm still pondering the first question.

Maybe later, when the pendulum swings again, I'll put on my makeup and tell you about Penny's first sleepover at our house and give you a progress report on Alex's walking.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I forgot to mention this when it happened, but as I have little else to talk about today...

We haven't actually eaten out in a restaurant, as a family, for the better part of a year. We tried, several times, when Alex was little and inclined to just lounge in his carseat and sleep a lot, and even then, he usually woke up just as the entrees were being served -- and as soon as he woke up, he was not content to just be held or passed back and forth while we ate. It made for a miserable dining experience, and so we mostly gave it up and switched to takeout, as being more flexible and less stressful for everyone involved.

Last weekend, however, I decided I was tired of takeout, and seeing as how Alex is a year old and sitting happily at the dinner table in his high chair for most of dinner, I thought we'd chance actually going out.

We went early, so we wouldn't risk having to wait for a table, and the kids were mostly really good. Penny happily colored her kids' menu, and Alex happily ate a crayon until I realized what he was doing and replaced it with some cheerios. Alex was even more delighted when our food arrived and I let him have most of the mushrooms off my steak. (I'm not a big fan of mushrooms, but apparently Alex is.)

The only snag hit when it was time to give Penny her shot. She was wearing a long-sleeved dress, so the only way to bare suitable shot-giving skin was going to involve exposing rather more of her than was suitable for the middle of a crowded restaurant. So I decided to take her back to the bathroom to do it. Alex does not handle me walking away from him with anything like aplomb, and he started screaming and crying, and was inconsolable until I got back. So I guess next time we need to plan ahead and make sure Penny's wearing something that makes it easy to bare an arm or a bit of stomach at the table.

But otherwise -- whoo! We can go out again!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Matt took Alex for his one-year-old checkup yesterday.

He's at the 50th percentile for weight, and the 50th percentile for height, and the 45th percentile for head size. All in all, thoroughly average.

He also has a head cold, complete with double ear infections. Whether this is the same ear infections he had before Christmas, or a resurgence, or a completely new set, we're not sure, but the doctor prescribed some seriously bacterial-ass-kicking antibiotics for him, just to make sure to stamp on it until it's dead, this time. And some cough syrup, to help him sleep better. He can't get his immunization shots while he's sick, though, so we have another appointment to bring him back in a couple of weeks for that.

Otherwise, she inquired into his diet (he eats a pretty wide variety of foods, we've made the switch from formula to whole milk, he's adamantly uninterested in moving from a bottle to a sippy cup, though he'll tolerate the cup if we take the valve out so he doesn't have to put any effort into it), his talking progress (babbling up a storm, sometimes even with something like purpose, obviously understands a few words like Mommy and Daddy and banana), and his walking progress (he's starting to take four or five unsupported steps at a time, but if he notices anyone watching him, he'll sit down right away). She pronounced him perfect and beautiful (as she always does) and sent them on their way.


I was standing outside the car, waiting for Penny to collect her crap and get out (she gets testy if I try to do anything for her, even just opening the door, so I usually let her do it in her own time, unless we're running late). Behind me was a larger car engaged in a similar disgorgement of students.

"Penny!" I turned to look, and a girl about Penny's age was climbing out of the back of the minivan. Penny hadn't even opened her door yet, so she hadn't heard the hail.

I needn't have feared, though. Penny finished fishing her backpack up off the floor, and glanced out the window, and her face lit up like Christmas. "Ashley!" she exclaimed, and scrambled to gather her kit and throw off the clinging seatbelt loop and open her door.

The girls clasped hands as soon as Penny's feet hit the asphalt. Ashley blissfully ignored her mother's instructions about walking to the sidewalk and then going down to the crosswalk as she and Penny began babbling to each other. I gave Ashley's mother one of those, "It's okay, I'll handle it," smiles and gently herded the two of them toward the sidewalk, and coaxed Ashley to actually walk on it instead of in the street beside it.

Penny turned to me as we entered the crosswalk. "I told Ashley that I would be her friend forever," she announced proudly.

"That's fantastic, sweetie," I said. "It's good to have friends." I'm glad she's finally really warming up to some of the other kindergartners. At the beginning of the year, she was rebuffing all advances and stoutly swearing she had no friends.

"Yeah," Penny agreed, "because otherwise I might be lonely!"

"If you're lonely and you're sitting on a bench," Ashley put in, "then someone will come over and say, 'Do you want to be my friend?' and you'll say 'Yes,' and then you won't be lonely anymore!" (Spoken like a true introvert.)

Penny refused my suggestion that I leave early and let her wait for the bell with just Ashley, but she didn't let go of Ashley's hand while they waited. When the bell rang and we slipped around the corner into the kindergarten hall, Penny gave me a one-armed hug, and a kiss, and then held up her free hand for her "special" kiss, and then carefully switched hands with Ashley before allowing me to kiss her other hand.

I watched them walk down the hall together, the best of friends, and I smiled.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Funny how quickly things can get shoved into perspective.

I was feeling mildly irritated: Alex seems to have a cold or a sinus infection, and it's raining out. Penny dragged her feet on leaving the house and then had trouble getting her seatbelt fastened, so we wound up behind a school bus on our way to take Alex to daycare. And then we had to wait for a train crossing, featuring one of those insanely long trains with three engines and like four or five hundred cars. Alex pulled a sock off in the car, and I couldn't find it (though I did find a sock he'd pulled off a couple of weeks ago). The father of one of Penny's best friends at the daycare wanted to stop and talk to me -- in the rain -- about a possible sleepover for the girls this weekend. The same no-passing road that we'd been behind the school bus on the way to daycare had a guy on the way back who didn't want to go faster than twenty. And about the time we got to Penny's school (late, of course), the rain decided to increase its intensity. And leaving the school, I wound up behind someone who apparently had never turned out of a parking lot before in their life, because they wouldn't pull forward far enough to actually see the oncoming traffic. It took them -- no joke -- three minutes of sitting there to feel comfortable enough to pull out onto the street. And then they gave me a dirty look when I passed them. The hell?

As I approached my turn, I saw a low, very dark cloud hanging over the street, and made a face: a specially-heavy bit of rain just to complicate matters?

But no, it wasn't. It wasn't a cloud at all. It was smoke. Lots of it, thick and billowing and black. Something was burning. Who burns leaves on a rainy morning like this? I wondered, and then I saw the flashing lights.

Three houses down one of the side streets, I caught just a glimpse as I went by of a house in flames. I didn't see many details, but it looked like the entire house was gutted. The flames were a huge orange sheet across the front of the house, reaching half a story higher than the roof.

When we first moved into our house, almost ten years ago, that was my biggest fear. The Mutant Worrybrain wasted endless cycles, every time we left, on the possibility that we would return to a smoldering ruin. I used to crane my neck to check the sky, and I looked diligently between the houses on the adjacent street to make sure it was still standing. I fretted when one of those houses put up a fence that made it harder for me to see our place.

It was 8:21. Were the residents of the house on their way to work and school, blissfully unaware of what waits them this evening? Or had they been home? Trapped in their beds by that malevolent orange and black?

From the top of the overpass, as I circled around, I could see the flashing lights, and the orange again, through the trees. At the light, I had to wait longer than usual because of a parade of additional police and fire and ambulance vehicles.

I wasn't irritated any more, though.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Muddle

I hate Mondays.

I get to work at 8:30, and have half an hour to get myself organized and eat breakfast before I have a meeting at 9, which usually adds several things to my to-do plate.

Then I have another hour to try to finish getting organized before having a meeting at 11, which more often than not runs over an hour.

Then I'm going to the gym, and coming back and bolting down my lunch so I can try to do something more or less productive with my afternoon, which doesn't happen very often. (Alternately, I can bolt down my lunch and then head out to get my allergy shot. Either way, it's a solid hour or more down the tubes. Maybe when I go to the gym I should take my lunch with me and eat in the car on the way back.)

I spend every Monday feeling like I'm not accomplishing anything. Getting a semi-coherent blog post up is kind of a toss-up, and finishing anything more involved than an email is pretty much out of the question. Which is weird, because in theory, I have several solid hours to work in the afternoons, but the pattern of the morning seems to set the tone for the whole rest of my day, and it just falls apart. Maybe that's something for me to work on, since it's pretty much the only part of the schedule that's under my control.

Of course today, because the holidays messed up Matt's office's meeting schedule, I'll need to pick Penny up after school and either bring her back here and hope I can squeeze a little work in between answering her constant stream of questions, or give up and go home, and either way, I really can't count on being able to work on my productivity.

Bleh. I just want a nap.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a happy new year -- wild parties with champagne, or a quiet warm evening at home, or anything in between, as long as it makes you happy. And I hope you didn't have a hangover yesterday. Or at least, not too much of one.

We went yesterday to my parents' house to have our family Christmas celebration with them and my brother and his wife.

It was nice. Very low-key. We enjoyed watching Penny open her presents (Alex opened one or two of his, but the rest are waiting for our next visit) and we talked, and we ate good food, and we played with the kids. Nothing crazy.

I do need to slightly revise one of my new year's resolutions: one of my Christmas presents from Matt is six months' rent on a storage unit, starting at the beginning of February. So I'll need to have at least a few boxes ready to go into storage by the end of this month.

Not that I'm complaining, mind. It gives me some incentive to get my behind in gear on that project.

My other gift, which hasn't arrived yet, is a set of shelves for the kitchen. I'm eagerly planning for those, too: The top shelf will be for my cookbooks and the few wineglasses that survived the crash. The bottom shelf will be for storing the soda and juice that currently line the wall. The middle shelves are still sort of up in the air -- I have lots of ideas (tupperware, ziploc/trash bags, medium-use appliances, the flour/sugar cannisters, pantry items, ...) -- I'm just not sure yet what will turn out to be the best arrangement. Any way it works out, I'll be happy to clear off some working space on the counters!

Now I'm at work for what is probably one of the slowest working days of the year. (Second only to the day after Christmas, when there were only four people here. But one of them wasn't me.)

I'm not complaining about that, either. I've got a ton of paperwork to catch up on, and my office is ready for its annual tidying, too -- I need to pack up old files and toss out stuff I don't need anymore and make space for the coming year's files. Having a slow day will help me make a dent in those chores.

Though I won't be getting too much done until about 9. Penny's with me until my dad can make it up to pick her up and take her back home, and as much as I love her, she's not very good at staying quiet and letting me work. (She just finished making herself some reindeer antlers, and now she's playing with my Dress-Me David magnets.)

And I'll be leaving a bit early, so I can pick up Alex from daycare. Normally, that's Matt's job, but we took the rocket seats out of our cars this weekend and replaced them with Penny's old forward-facing carseats, and then we discovered that the seat we put into Matt's car is missing a critical piece of the buckle.

So we need to buy a new carseat for Matt's car, and in the meantime (until this weekend, probably), I'm on Alex-transport duty.

I'll leave you with a Penny anecdote.

"Mom, I want someone to fall in love."

"...Fall in love with who?"

"With me!"

"Well, I love you, a lot!"

"No, Mom! I want a boy to fall in love with me. A prince!"

"Oh. Well, someday, I'm sure someone will fall in love with you, sweetie."

"I want someone to fall in love today."