Tuesday, August 28, 2007


It seems that since having children, every Labor Day weekend is
accompanied by illness or infirmity of some sort. I guess it has to do
with the start of school, when all those children get together and share
all of the germs they've acquired on their summer vacations. Those
children then bring their sickness home to their smaller siblings, who
bring them to daycare and pass them to my children, who, kind souls that
they are, directly transfer them to me (generally through sucked-on
fingers inserted directly into my mouth). Aren't babies and toddlers

Trystan is sick. He was running a slight fever the end of the day
yesterday, and had one vomiting episode as I picked him up from daycare
(all over me). I freaked out the entire ride home, as the last time he
vomited he ended up in the hospital with surgery. So far it seems that
this is not the same. Trystan was clingy and sleepy and clearly feeling
sick all night, but not to his stomach. He only nursed once in the
evening (out of his normal 2-3 times), but then wanted to eat every 2
hours or so overnight. By 3am or so, he just came and slept in our
bed--much nicer on me than attempting to sleep in the rocking chair in
his room. He had Tylenol before bed, but continued to run a fever
overnight. Unmedicated, it was 101 this morning. My husband is staying
home with him for the day, and taking him to the doctor. I think she'll
conclude that it's just a virus. I hope she'll conclude that it's just
a virus.

The poor kiddo must be feeling awful. A head full of drainage, crampy
stomach/intestines, slightly sore throat, headache, aches all over...no
wonder he was so clingy. I would be too. In fact, if I had a
comfortable chest to curl up on for a nap right now, I would take
it--those are the symptoms that I'm starting to feel. Lucky me. Maybe,
however, this will run its course through the family and be gone before
the weekend, so we can enjoy a visit from my mom and a couple of my

Monday, August 20, 2007


I've been a little slow at posting lately. There's not really a lot
happening, but there will be more in the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow we have a consultation with Trystan's surgeon, and will
hopefully have a date for his next surgery shortly after. Trystan seems
to have bounced back fine from his bowel obstruction a month ago, and I
think he's re-gained all of his weight. We thought he was over 14
pounds before he got sick, but then weighed in at 12lbs 14oz a week
after his surgery. Our not-very-exact bathroom scale has weighed him in
at 15 pounds on two separate occaisions over the weekend, so he's at
least in the ballpark. I am hoping that the surgery will be scheduled
soon-we have at least 6 weeks to wait after this one before the "last"
one to repair the imperforate anus. I'm starting to really look forward
to poopy diapers!

Speaking of poopy diapers, Charlotte's potty training took a giant leap
forward over the last month. It seemed to really help her when I went
back to work, and she and Trystan were both going to daycare together.
We're now counting accidents by the week instead of by the day. She
hasn't had a true poopy accident in several weeks now (there have been a
couple of close calls that involved a change of pants, but that's it).
Well, not exactly true-she had one at the pool a week and a half ago.
Luckily, she was wearing a swim diaper at the time, so we didn't cause
any major disturbance to the other swimmers (yucky, though). She has
rarely wet the bed for the last 6 months or so-maybe 1-2 times a month.
I still have a disposable pull-up in the diaper bag for an emergency,
but we also travel with a clean pair of undies, and haven't needed it.

Now that she's essentially potty trained, she will be able to move up to
the 3-year old room after her birthday this week. She turns 3 on
Friday! Our baby girl is looking and acting more and more like a kid
and less and less like a baby every day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Career Paths

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my career—past, present, and future. I took a little over three months off after Trystan was born, and had made arrangements with my managers at work to return 3 days a week. So far this is a good schedule to follow, giving me the mental challenges and adult interaction at work, the bonding time with my kids, and a sprinkling of flexibility in my week to run errands or go to doctor appointments or wait for repairmen without feeling so harassed all the time.

On my first day back at work, I was told that I needed to update my personal development plan. This is something that my company uses to supposedly help us employees define our career goals and communicate those with our managers. This is separate from the set of goals that we are rated on at the end of the year to help determine raises and promotions. The first time I went through this process, I was told that this plan was just for my own use and that it was quite acceptable and almost encouraged that we put non-job related items down. Now, the focus seems to have shifted to my career goals specific to this employer—the instructions are full of phrases about “supporting business objectives”.

I have hated these types of questions all of my life. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is a question that most people really don’t want an honest answer to. At least not from me. Or maybe they do, but it won’t necessarily help my “career” any. A good honest answer from me is “I’m not sure that I really care to stay in this field forever, but it’s got good benefits and pay, so I’m content to stay until I find a better option.” What they want is a response showing that you’re somehow going to morph yourself into a star player—some high-performing management type, or super-expert. Honestly, I don’t have the drive, the time, or the energy to do either of those. So, the best thing I can come up with is to consider working on a master’s degree.

I have, honestly, considered working on a master’s in computer science. I considered it seriously when I was first graduating from college, but the promise of an actual paycheck won out (along with the ability to own a vehicle of some sort, and have more than $5 left after paying rent and utilities every month). I thought again a year or two later of working on a masters in the evenings, but my work hours made that impossible. Now I work for a company that values higher education, and actually pays for tuition, even for degrees that aren’t specifically job related.

At this point, I have to make a confession. For many years now, I have been fascinated with food and cooking. I'm a FoodTV addict. I read cookbooks for fun. I remember watching The Frugal Gourmet on PBS when I was like 9 years old, and being disappointed that we couldn't make any of the recipes at our house. I've worked some food-service type jobs--nothing particularly high-end. In fact, they've been all minimum-wage fast-food and cafeteria type jobs in high school and early college. There are many parts of the food service industry that I really didn't care for (standing in front of a fryer for hours on end, for example). Still, all that "experience" did not turn me off of the industry. Then, around the time Charlotte was born, I found out that there was an actual culinary school opening in St. Louis. At the time, it was inconceivable for me to pay for daycare *and* tuition at the same time, all to change to a career with bad hours (can you say weekends?) and less pay than I could make in software.

My new employer pays tuition, even for schooling that isn't job related.....I now work part time, and our finances are handling that ok so far.....See where this is all going? But there's a catch. There's always a catch. Tuition reimbursement is only for employees working 40 hours a week (I think it actually read 39.2 or some silly number...). With that restriction, even a career-focused advanced engineering degree just isn't going to happen, at least until the kids are in like, college.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Trystan has two new games. As of the 27th of July, he can roll over in
both directions (front to back, and back to front). Until that Thursday
morning, he was able to get about 80% of the way from his back to his
front, and had preferred to sleep on his side that way for a week or
two. About 30 seconds after figuring out how to get both his shoulders
and his hips both moving the same direction to land on his tummy, he
pushed up on his arms and rolled himself right back. He's been a little
slow to repeat the performance until this weekend. Now he's not just
rolling, but chaining the rolls to really move around the room. Last
night I actually had to latch the gate at the top of our stairs because
he kept rolling towards the door to my bedroom while I was folding
clothes, and yesterday afternoon he managed to grab his blanket and roll
and get wrapped up in it, requiring a rescue (he has not quite figured
out to let go of objects).

His second game is to wait until he is undressed, then reach down and
grab at his ostomy bag and pull. The things are adhered to his skin,
some days better than others. He has succeeded once in completely
pulling it off, making a mess of himself with its contents in the
process. I know it's a game because he reaches down and grabs and then
gives me the biggest grin-I then try to tell him not to pull, and remove
his hand from the bag. And then he grabs again, until I get clothes or
at least a blanket covering him. When we're changing the bag, he also
likes to reach down and feel what's going on, usually getting his own
mess or some of the adhesive all over his hand in the process. I can't
wait until we're done with these things for good (still 2 or 3 months
more if all goes well from here).

I've also come to realize that the fact that I'm "home with the kids" on
Thursdays and Fridays doesn't really mean that I'm physically located in
my home. Friday after breakfast, Charlotte asked me where we were
going. I tried to tell her that we weren't going anywhere for the day,
and I don't think she believed me. Most days we're going to doctor
appointments, to the library for story hour, or going somewhere with
friends (the zoo, the Magic House, the play areas at the mall, an
occaisional movie). As it turns out, we did go somewhere-we met my
husband for lunch at McDonalds, and Charlotte got to spend half an hour
or so climbing on the indoor gerbil tube set, until a roaring lion
scared her off of it (a lion who looked a lot like a 8 year old boy to
me, but she was done anyway).

I did get my tires replaced last week. Sams' Club had the best prices
by far of all that I called-almost half of what everyone else wanted. I
almost had them replace all 4 tires, but realized that I only have 38000
miles on my car, so the other two could probably wait another 10k or so.
I still need to take my car for an estimate on my rear bumper. I
managed to hit a parked car while backing out of my own garage-not just
any parked car, but the car of a friend who had come over to watch my
kids for a few minutes while I ran an errand. After playing phone tag
with my insurance for a couple of days, her car has been fixed up and
paid for. I just haven't had time to take my own for its estimate. If
the estimate is at all close to my deductible ($500), then I'll probably
pay for my own repairs myself (ouch ouch ouch, but better than risking
jumps in my insurance). All in all, it's an expensive couple of weeks,
carwise. I made my last payment on my car this month too-I had been
looking forward to at least a couple of months off from car bill$, but I
was apparently not so fortunate.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Yesterday I got a flat tire. An exceedingly flat tire. I got in my car
and started driving my normal route home, actually annoyed with myself
for not hopping on the highway--My husband was picking up the kids to
give me a few extra minutes to finish dinner for our weekly D&D group,
and I forgot and started driving towards daycare first. Good thing,
because it sounded like I was dragging a piece of metal behind my car,
and my backseat seemed to be a little low. When I pulled into a parking
lot, I could see that one of my rear tires was so flat that I was
basically driving on the rim, cutting a groove into the puddle rubber.
I weighed my choices at that point, and opted to just fill the tire with
air and hope I made it home before it completely flattened out again--it
was 95+ degrees on the blacktop of that parking lot, my trunk was full
of stroller, and I had serious doubts about my ability to loosen the
bolts (or nuts?) on the tire in order to put on the spare by myself.
When I got home, my husband changed it to my spare (with Charlotte's
"help") while I tried to quickly throw dinner in the oven (spinach
manicotti..mostly prepped the night before, but needing the final oven
bake), clean up (yeah, right), and nurse the baby before everyone
arrived for gaming. Lacking actual superpowers, I provided a late
dinner in an overly messy kitchen, but with a well-fed baby (what can I
say, he cries louder than our friends do when hungry....). This morning
I drove myself to work with the donut on. I'm off tomorrow-I'll have to
fix it then, or maybe tonight.

My work today was hosting a "wellness screening" where I could get my
cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, BMI/body fat %, etc checked. The
net result was that everything they checked fell into "normal" ranges,
except my HDL level. That's the "good cholesterol" and mine is low
(higher is better). I didn't mention to the nurses that I was
breastfeeding, which might help explain how a diet full of chocolate
(and pretty much any other food item that catches my fancy) could
possibly result in low LDL cholesterol levels *and* low HDL levels. I
wonder if Trystan is sucking all the fat right out of my bloodstream.
Most of the advice for increasing your HDL levels also says that it will
lower your LDL level-something I don't really have to be so concerned
about. In fact, maybe the reason I feel like eating so much chocolate
all the time is my body's way of telling me that I need the fat. The
suggestions for raising HDL's include eating "good fats" like canola oil
(the only kind I use for baking--well, the only *liquid* fat I use for
baking--I'm a fan of real butter), olive oil (which I use for most
everything non-sweet), and peanuts, and adding soluble fiber (oatmeal,
granola, whole grains-I already eat a lot of this), and aerobic exercise
(which I definitely don't get enough of lately). I had to fast before
the screening, I was starving by then (all of 9am...I'm a wimp. A
hungry wimp), and it was held in the cafeteria. I was very tempted to
swing through the line and pickup a donut or pastry on my way back to my
cube--but the page full of numbers helped remind me about the lowfat
yogurt with strawberries and granola I had waiting for me downstairs.
If only they made the things with canola oil instead of shortening....