Saturday, July 29, 2006

There's only so much Elmo a sane adult can stand in a day

Charlotte got sick again this week. Thursday night she threw up. A lot. She basically made it through the day at school, but her teachers were about to call us at 4:45 when we arrived to pick her up. She did manage to sleep through the night without incident, and I stayed home with her on Friday. Her stomach stayed settled yesterday, though she didn't eat much and pretty much wanted to stay in my lap on the couch all day, until she went down for a 4 hour nap after a small lunch of leftover steak. We watched way too much Elmo. Well, 1 epsiode of Sesame Street, 1 of Between the Lions, the whole movie of finding Nemo, and the start of an Elmo music DVD before I left. I also got in Finding Neverland while she was napping. Hey, I did laundry too...

My husband got home from work around 5, and there was a group of people from my office who were going out for drinks and/or dinner at 6, so we traded baby duty and I went out (conversation! with someone other than Elmo!). As it turns out, the happy hour got turned into a sort of surprise birthday celebration for one of my coworkers, which I hadn't heard about since I wasn't at work during the day. There were several people there who were friends of his, so I guess it mixed the group up a bit more than we would have been otherwise. I ended up talking to the coworkers' girlfriend's friend (I think that's right) quite a bit--she reminded me a lot of my older sister.

I left the group about 8 and got home in plenty of time for bedtime. Charlotte hadn't eaten much for dinner, but some friends had braved potential illness to bring their son up for a playdate, so she was happy and tired. My husband and I tried to go to bed early, but I'd had a lot of caffeine at dinner (for me, any caffeine is a lot) and didn't fall asleep well. 4:30 came way too soon.

My husband's marathon training group was running 12 miles this morning and wanted to beat the heat by starting at 5:30--hah! It was already 80ish and humid by then. We loaded up the 3 of us, the jogging stroller, and the bike at the insanely early hour of 5am to get to Forest Park to meet the rest of the group. I only biked one lap around (5-6 miles or so), and then rested until the runners finished their first lap. I took Charlotte to the playground, along with one of the runners who's nursing a hurt leg/shin/foot(?--I forget which) and her son, and tried to convince Charlotte to play for a while. She's still low on energy and mostly wanted to swing and munch Cheerios till it was time to go. We got home at about 9:30 (well, home and unloaded), and she crashed for a (rare) morning nap, as did my husband. That leaves me showered, dressed, tired, and with free time on the computer. Lucky you!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


For the last week or so, my husband and I have been carpooling every day to work. Both of our cars suffered hail damage back in February, and I finally got around to scheduling an appointment to have mine fixed. Lucky me, they want my car for 2 or maybe 3 weeks to fix several thousand $'s worth of damage. Had I gotten things arrange soon enough in the summer, I could have had use of my inlaw's car while they were on an extended vacation to Europe, but I procrastinated too long.

I have to say that things could be a lot worse. We work fairly close together, so it's not like one of us has to drive across town every day. We are both dropping Charlotte at daycare, which is probably causing more separation anxiety for her--she seems a tad worse about being left when we're both there. Then I drop my husband at his office and drive the 7-minute stretch to mine--probably about 2-4 miles. In the evenings we reverse the procedure, and aren't putting too many more miles on the car than my husband would in a normal week.

The biggest issue for me is timing. I'm used to heading out the door to arrive at my office around 8. Lately we're lucky if the 3 of us are in the car and moving by 8. My hours at work are somewhat flexible, so I generally put in 8.5-9 hours most days, and then leave a little early on Fridays or the last day of the pay period. But since I'm not arriving at work till closer to 8:45, and we have to pick Charlotte up by 6, I'm barely squeezing an 8 hour day in (with lunch at my desk) in time to turn around and leave. That means no bonus time for me--I usually take my precious 2 or 3 hour block and go shopping (by myself! where I can meander without distraction!) or go home and sew or get an early workout in or something.

In all of this, I'm still getting up at my normal time, so I end up doing more of the morning getting-ready routine with Charlotte that is normally husband's job, while he sleeps in to his normal time (some days almost an hour after I get up). And, I'm short on alone time. And then there was yesterday when I gave my husband fair warning of what time I was coming to pick him up, and ended up sitting in the car for an extra 20-25 minutes because he was in a conversation that he chose not to leave right away. Best of all, once my car is done, my husband's will need repairs. His estimate was half of mine, so I would hope his car wouldn't take as long to complete.

On the upside, we're saving nearly $500 in car rental fees (maybe more). I just hope that the savings seems worthwhile once we're back to a 2-car family again.

Monday, July 24, 2006


It seems that our neighborhood now has power again. Our house never lost it, but several friends' houses did. Thursday and Friday we had friends staying in our assortment of guest beds. Friday night the count was 11 people (including myself, my husband, and Charlotte). Though I realize that airmattresses, sofa beds, and pack-n-plays are not the most comfortable, we at least had air conditioning, lights, and cooking equipment to offer.

Saturday morning my husband and 2 of our guests went for a run. We brought Charlotte in her jogging stroller and me and my bike. The idea was that they would run one lap with the stroller while I biked about 2, and then I'd entertain Charlotte while they finished unencumbered. However, I made an extra small trip to drop off water for them, which took longer than I thought. Then, I had trouble finding the right path. The paths are in a giant circle, with an inner loop and an outer loop, so it shouldn't have been that bad. But, I managed to miss the first split for the outer path twice, and had to backtrack to finally find the car--at this point the guys had already started on their second lap with Charlotte in tow. I'll try harder next week!

After the morning exercised, the group of us stopped by the grocery store and brought home a ton of food for breakfast/brunch. We made blueberry buttermilk pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, cantaloupe, juice and coffee for 11. It was all very good, and we were all very stuffed. By about 1pm, the power came back on in our neighborhood, so folks helped us clean up and headed home to straighten up and get groceries.

We had fun with all the company. Yes, it made the house rather full, but it lasted a short enough time that no one got on each other's nerves (that I know of), and everyone had things to do and kids to play with. It is nice to have the peace and quiet back though :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

House Party

As our house resides in the half of our neighborhood that did not lose power in this week's big blackout, we seem to be hosting a house party of sorts. My SIL and BIL "broke in" yesterday while we were at work to hang out and enjoy the A/C. After work, 2 families from our neighborhod came up for dinner and ended up staying hte night to avoid the heat in their own houses. It seems there is a possibility for a third family to come over tonight, as they will be running with my husband and one of our other houseguests on Saturday morning very early in training for a marathon.

We were a bit disorganized last night about assigning rooms and beds to our friends, and getting an air mattress inflated. The pump for the airmattress was not charged and does not run off the power cord (what a pain), so we tried a combination of my tire air compressor (rigged up with part of a cooler to plug it into the wall), a hand-pump that came with one of my exercise balls, and good old fashioned lung power. Eventually, we got the thing inflated. We actually had a whole full sized bed not in use, but it is in the guest room where one of the families was staying and their youngest was already asleep when the second family decided that their house was too hot. With the possibility of a third family, we will probably rearrange a little furniture tonight, and be able to accomodate everyone. We have a lot of beds in our house.

Dinner last night and arranging sleeping was a bit chaotic, but not bad otherwise. We've hosted my entire immediate family (2 parents + 4 sisters + 1-2 assorted significant others) several times in the past. Thank goodness for 3.5 bathrooms and a slightly larger water tank!!!

In anycase, everyone is hoping for the power to come back so that we can all be comfortable in our own beds. If not, house party at our place! :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mother Nature's Fury

The weather yesterday was fun. The day started at about 85 degrees--yes, that was the cool temperature early in the morning. After work, the car's thermometer read 110 degrees--this is on a blacktop parking lot with no shade or anything to break the heat. After driving for a couple of minutes, the temperature cooled to 102.

After work, the 3 of us joined my inlaws (MIL, FIL, SIL, BIL) for dinner at Yen Ching in Richmond Heights. At 6:30, it was still over 100 degrees. While we were eating, the power started flickering, and I assumed that the city was having brownouts from all the power consumption of all the air conditioners. Apparently not. Right as we were finishing, the power went out completely. The restaurant has no windows, but luckily they have enough emergency lights that it was merely dim and not black. We paid in cash and headed out to our cars to find that the temperature had dropped 30 degrees, there was a very strong wind, and it was starting to rain. And the sky was black.

We said quick goodbyes and hopped into cars before the deluge started. We drove home through strong wind, lightening, and driving rain. Of course, by the time we reached our subdivision, there was not a trace of the rain (the clouds, lightening, and wind-yes, water-no). As we were pulling into our driveway, friends called us to warn us that the neighborhood was without power--except that we could see our front porch lights on. Apparently 2/3 of the neighborhood was without power, but we are in the lucky 1/3.

I was finishing my conversation as I walked into the kitchen, and saw to my horror that our brand new patio table was not on the deck where we left it. Looking outside, we spotted it on the ground a full story below the deck, upside down, and missing 2 legs. We just bought the set over the 4th of July. The umbrella was also on the ground, no longer in the table, and apparently unharmed. The wierd part is that the umbrella had been screwed to a heavy stand, and the stand was still on the deck. It had not been open, but the wind must have been enough to pick up the table and umbrella, clear the deck railing, and separate the two items before dropping them on the ground. Oddly enough, the old plastic patio table hadn't blown away, and none of the flower pots on our front porch had budged (usually they go flying down the hill in storms).

We kept our power through the night, so our should may be pleasantly cool this afternoon. We may be hosting some friends whose houses are probably roasting in the 100 degree weather. I guess we have to inspect the siding and roof when we get a chance as well--if the winds could move a 6-foot long metal table, who knows what they would do to asphalt shingles. Then again, maybe the damage was limited to the table. What a wierd storm.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Busy Weekend

We had a rather busy weekend. Saturday we were out the door at 5:45 so that my husband could run 9 miles with the friends he's training with in Forest Park. He had Charlotte in the jogging stroller, and I rode about the same distance (maybe closer to 7.5-8) on my bike. I was done a good 45 minutes sooner than the group or runners, so I wandered over to the visitor's center for a pit stop and to browse the tourism pamphlets. I still had time to ride back to the cars, read a bit, eat a granola bar I brought for a snack, and relax a little bit more. A. and L. also bring their 1.5 year old in the jogging stroller for the morning runs, so next week I think we'll try to arrange for the runners to meet me halfway through their route and leave the kids. I can get a full ride in (I'm not training for a 26 mile ride or anything), and then play with munchkins while they finish (and they can finish the race without the extra effort to push the strollers, which might be nice as their routes get longer).

We got home and figured out that M. had left his cell phone at the park, so I showered while he drove back to retrieve it from a nice walker. My mom stopped through town on her way home from a vacation near Branson, so we got to see her, my sisters Ally and Katie, and their dog Buddy for 45 minutes or so.

Charlotte was invited to her first kids' birthday party in the afternoon, for our friend's son Connor, who turned 6. The party was pirate themed, complete with eye patches and pirate bandanas for all the kids heads, and a really cool (and tasty) pirate ship cake. The older kids went on a treasure hunt in the back yard (Charlotte insisted on swinging on the swingset), and had plenty of playtime inside, plus cake and chips (Charlotte refused cake and ice cream but got her fill of junkfood by raiding the Cheetos). I hung out with the other parents, keeping half an eye on the kids, and talking.

By this point, M. had left for the airport to retrieve his parents, sister, and BIL from a vacation to Scottland. They came back to our house, and Charlotte and I joined them for a very greasy dinner at Fudruckers (burgers and fries...the perfect end to a day of cheetos and chocolate). That was Saturday.

Sunday morning, I took Charlotte to the zoo with friends, including one who was in from out of town so her 6-yo could attend Connor's party. We arrived around 8:30 (it was already over 90 degrees), and left by 10:30 for church. The last stop had been to buy popsicles for the kids, and Charlie had red sticky juice all over her outfit--I hadn't thought to pack clean clothes to change into. So we stopped in the restroom on the way out of the zoo and I rinsed her top off in the sink, hitching her skirt up over her chest so she looked somewhat dressed for the walk to the car (she was in a stroller, so it would be hard to tell anyway). Her top was almost dry after the short drive to church (it was 95+ and sunny).

She was in high spirits thoughout mass, barely giving me a chance to sit and cool down after spending the morning in the heat. We all (including my inlaws) went to Chevy's for mexican afterwards, and then home for Charlotte to take a (too-short) nap. For dinner, we went back to our freinds house and had take-out chinese and let the kids exhaust the rest of their energy before bed.

We still had a lot of cleaning to do last night, since our cleaning lady comes today (she will scrub, but can't do the organizing and straightening like we can). Yikes, what a weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

5th anniversary

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last weekend. We really didn't do that much. We went out to a so-so restaurant for dinner, and then to a Fantasy Shop. No, not *that* kind of fantasy--this shop sells comic books, board games, and Dungeons and Dragons books and miniatures. Yes, we're geeks that play D&D. And it's a lot of fun. So there. It was heavenly to have a while to browse the store and thumb through books without having to watch Charlotte or entertain her. We picked up a couple of books--the Players Handbook II and Spell Compendium that were just released, and an expansion set for Carcasonne. Then we stopped by Starbucks before heading home to retrieve the halfling from her friend Gavin's house. The whole date lasted maybe 2-2.5 hours, but it was fun.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


One of my favorite comics in the newspaper is Frazz. The central character is well-read, thoughtful, a mentor to kids, athletic, and appears to have a nice ongoing friendship/romance with a school teacher. He's also the school janitor. I think this guy's job is what drew me into the comic in the first place--it is a contradiction to the rest of the personality and intelligence of the comic strip, but one that makes for some very funny situations. I am not intending to demean school janitors here--to be honest I haven't known any personally, though I can recall seeing grizzly men with greasy hair and coveralls pushing trash cans through the hallway--not the image you otherwise get of Frazz.

What I can't help but wonder is why someone like the character in the comic strip is portrayed would be the janitor and not one of the teachers. He doesn't appear to be paying his way through school or any other circumstance that would make a smart guy "settle" for a blue-collar job. So my best guess is that he enjoys it. He sometimes helps the kids do silly things, like sitting on blocks of ice to go down the slide, and frequently has to clean up after their pranks. He has interesting philisophical discussions with the kids and his school teacher girlfriend that are designed to make the reader think or smile. I guess life's not so bad for a janitor.

Strange as it sounds to my own ears, the Sunday Comics have made me stop and take a good look at my own career. No, I have no interest in Janitorial Engineering. I don't really dislike my job most of the time. Neither do I really look forward to going lately. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm just not excited to be here. I don't know if there's a different career or different job that would be any better. So for now I guess I sit back, keep thinking, and try not to be envious of a comic strip.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Skills I wish I didn't have

As the years pass, we all aquire knowledge about a lot of different things. Some of it continues to be useful in daily life: how to walk, your friends' and family members' birthdays, how to file your taxes and renew your license plates, how to ride a bicicyle. There are a lot of skills that we learn that become obsolete as our life leads us down different paths: why sucking your thumb is comforting, the location of the girls bathroom in the elementary school, social pecking orders in high school. These things are shoved to the back corners of the warehouse in our heads to collect dust and cobwebs. Occaisionally, we pull one of these old memories out, dust it off, and then smirk about how far we've progressed.

The progress of piece of knowledge from active duty to a peaceful retirement can be gradual as its usefulness dwindles. It can happen abruptly when you move or graduate and leave a part of your life behind. And sometimes, you can try your best to cover it up and force it into an early retirement. That way you can start fresh and pretend total ignorance about things that you would really rather *not* know.

Most of the skills I have tried to get rid of are work related: the ingredient list for many of the sandwiches on the Arby's menu, how to pop movie theater popcorn, Crystal Reports. I'm afraid if I admit too much knowledge to some of these things, that someone will force me to do them again. I have decided to add Rational Robot to my list--for those of you non-geeks this is a tool for writing automated tests for software. You write scripts that launch other computer applications, run them automatically, and verify that everything is working ok. It's really really really really really boring. It's also one of those stupid skills that once you're proficient at, everyone asks you to do it ("I hear you're good at xyz--I have a project for you"). Never mind that it drives you batty, and that you feel like a trained monkey would be just as good (and wouldn't be as easily lured to surf the internet and write about it's boredom in a blog).

Lacking a trained monkey, I should probably return to my desk, and continue honing a skill that I will never ever admit to knowing (if only my manager and team leads didn't already know....)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Age and experience

I had a funny conversation with a co-worker yesterday, call him M. He's in his late 20's, maybe 27 or 28--a little younger than I am, but not by much. I've learned through previous conversations that he's single and living the single life to its fullest--recently backpacked around Europe and I recall a conversation about a "bus party" where a bunch of folks hired a bus to take them barhopping for a night.

Anyway, we were nuking our lunches and talking about our holiday weekends, and the conversation turned to where we went to college. He attended Purdue, and I mentioned that several people I went to high school with also did, but couldn't recall off the top of my head anyone who would have been in computer science. M replied, "Oh, I don't know if I would know them, I graduated quite a few years ago." "How many is quite a few?", I asked, wondering if he was some sort of boy genius who'd gone to college straight from elementary school or something. "I graduated in 2000". I had to giggle at that--I myself graduated from college in 1998. "Really?", he said, "I thought you were a lot younger than that!".

I know I look young, and I suppose it's flattering to be told you look like you're barely legal to drink instead of pushing 30 with a kid. I am young for my years of work experience--I was barely legal to drink when I graduated from college 8 years ago. But still... Right now I don't know whether to be grateful for my youthful looks, or annoyed that people I work with think that I'm much younger/newer/less-experienced than I am at my job.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

Our family has been enjoying a long weekend for the 4th. I would like to claim that we've been sitting around resting, but that is far from the truth. I frequently lament that I'd like to have time to sit around and do nothing, but in reality there are always so many things I want to do that I don't give myself enough time. Oh well, we generally have a lot of fun.

Friday night after work, the three of us went to the zoo for a couple of hours, and then went out to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant. Charlotte guzzled two bowls of sizzling rice soup and two potstickers, but wasn't a big fan of our spicier entrees.

Saturday morning my husband went for a run on Grant's Trail in south St. Louis with the other folks he's training with. Unfortunately, he left his MP3 player sitting on the side of the path when he stopped to stretch, so Charlotte and I drove back down with him to look for it. We packed my bike and the jogging stroller, and I got a 7-8 mile bike ride out of the excursion, while Charlotte took her daddy for a walk on the trail and they looked in vain for the player. After her nap, we took her to the pool in our neighborhood, and then went down to a friend's house where M. was helping install a ceiling fan. Charlotte spent a lot of energy running in circles and squealing with her little friend Gavin before we headed home for bed.

Sunday morning we skipped church and hung around the house a bit. We tried taking Charlotte to the park, but it was already over 90 degrees and our trip was short. By Sunday afternoon, we were noticing that our little baby was cooperating nicely about using the toilet, and had managed to find one of her swim diapers and put it on herself (over her clothes of course). We made a trip to Target in hopes of finding some kind of step-in or pull-up diapers that she could wear some of the time. We had a package of "First Steps" by Pampers from a couple of months ago that are built like swim diapers with the stretchy sides instead of the adhesive tapes, and came in a size small enough that they sort of fit her (she's wearing the 12-18 month sized clothes and size 3 diapers still). Unfortunately, we had run out of those, and Target doesn't seem to carry them--their potty-training pull-up diapers are 1) expensive and 2) huge (the smallest size was "2T-3T"). Sunday night brought more squealing/running time with Gavin as the guys finished the ceiling fan.

Monday we took Charlotte to daycare so that we could run some errands. After we dropped her off, my husband and I headed to Creve Coeur Park so he could run and I could bike around the lake. I made 2 laps, so another 7-8 mile bike ride, which took slightly longer than M.'s single lap running. We hit Dennys' for breakfast afterwards and then home for showers. M.'s parents' mini van is currently visiting our curb while they vacation, so we took advantage of the cargo space and drove to Sam's club to buy ourselves a gift--a new set of patio furniture to replace the white(gray and black spotted) plastic set we've been using. The afternoon was spent assembling the chairs and table (out in the heat--95 and humid!), and then doing a little grocery shopping for a bbq today. We originally planned to go to a festival and see fireworks last night, but decided it was too hot. We grilled salmon and ate outside on our new patio table instead.

This morning M.'s running a 5K with some friends. He left before I woke up for a 7am start time. It's 9:30 and I've been up for 3 hours. Charlotte and I have had breakfast, watched a little TV, got her dressed. We walked down to the park and she climbed and slid and ran. She's now eating a snack (shredded cheese--her choice) and watching Monsters, Inc (bad Mommy--letting her watch so much TV). I need a shower and to start cutting meat and veggies for grilling, but instead, I'm talking to you. Speaking of which, if you know me and know where I live, you're invited to a bbq at 3pm at our house. Happy 4th of July!