Monday, January 28, 2008

Weekend Travels

By the time my husband had Charlotte bundled into her carseat Friday evening, I already missed her. It was not the first time we had been separated, but it was the first time she had gone somewhere and left me at home. There have been a handful of times when I've stayed the night elsewhere--mostly hospital stays since Trystan was born, plus one 2-day business trip when she was about 10 months old. But otherwise, I've always been there to kiss her goodnight.

My husband's parents are moving from their home of the last 30+ years in Iowa. They're moving here, well, to the Metro East, right next to my sister-in-law. They've been up north for the last couple of weeks packing the rest of their house up and preparing for their final trip down. My husband and his sister decided to surprise them with a going-away party. They arranged the whole thing by phone and email, breaking into my mother-in-law's computer to find addresses and phone numbers, and consipiring with their friends to bring them to the community theater where their whole family has spent countless hours over the last 30 years, volunteering and acting in plays.

When the planning began, I had just finished my enrollment paperwork to take a class in fiction writing at Wash U this semester. My class meets on Saturdays, at the same time the party was being planned for. So I had an unfortunate choice to make: skip class, which I was really really looking forward to and which could potentially impact my grade and therefore my company's willingness to pay for it (Wash U tuition is not cheap), or skip the party. Trystan and I stayed home, and I hired a babysitter during class time on Saturday.

Our house is really quiet without Charlotte. Even Trystan's constant fussing as his body got used to his new laxative regimine (the initial prescribed dosage was a bit high, based on the sheer volume of poopy diapers we got on Saturday), and his new-found use of spoken words (I'm pretty sure he now says "book", "bottle", "mine" and "hi" in their correct context), were not a subsitute for the constant chatter of a 3-year old. I had the TV on a lot.

My husband and Charlotte left on their 5+ hour drive after dinner on Friday, and she had a portable DVD player, snacks, drink, and a legion of blown mommy kisses to keep her happy on the trip. I slept with my cell phone on and the house phone right next to my bed all night, and reminded myself every few minutes that she was perfectly safe, and there was nothing for me to worry about.

Trystan declined to take an afternoon nap on Saturday, so we pretty much stayed home. I was sure that the moment I put him in the car, he would fall asleep, and then not sleep for very long. I proved myself right by finally setting out for the grocery store. He was out by the time we reached the subdivision entrance, so I drove around a little and went home. The little stinker woke up as I was putting him in his bed.

Sunday, I resigned to deal with a lack of good quality napping in favor of my sanity. We went to Target. We went to the Y, where Trystan played in the nursery while I worked out (his first visit second time exercising in public since before Charlotte was born). After lunch, he surprised me with a long afternoon nap, and then we went grocery shopping.

Shortly before bedtime, my husband and Charlotte got home. She had spent the weekend swimming at the hotel, stuffing herself with cake and munchies at the party, and impressing everyone with her good behavior. Sunday she developed an upset stomach, and had the presence of mind to get to a bathroom to throw up. She made it through the car trip without having to use her loaner bucket. Trystan was ecstatic to see her (more than his father, much to my husband's chagrin)--he laughed and squealed and hugged her and gave her his "I want that" pat on her head (the gesture he normally reserves for his high chair tray as he requests more of whatever food he's just run out of). Charlotte ate a light snack of toast, asked for only two very short books, and fell fast asleep. She's better today--still feeling off, but eating and at daycare.

Maybe it's just me, or the amount of time I spent in the company of a true baby, or maybe it's being sick, but she seems more grown up than she did three days ago.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

She's back home at last!

My mixer is home again, and functional once more. I wrote before about how I broke the thing, and my intent to fix it. Apparently, there are either not many people who can break a Kitchenaid Stand mixer, or don't bother to repair them if they do. Given my ordeal, I can understand why.

We started out by looking up parts online and I found a description of what was essentially the same problem--the motor's running, but the beater's not spinning. They listed a part that was probably to blame--something called a "worm gear". Nowhere could I find directions on how to actually disassemble the mixer to view the gear in question. My husband tried, and could remove just about everything, except for the metal cover that hides all of the motor parts. I had no luck either. Short of a blow torch or a can opener, we were going to have to rely on a knowledgeable source for help.

I tried searching the phone book for mixer repairs in the St. Louis area. My search returned many appliance repair places, but they seemed to advertise fixing large items like washers and dryers. I supposed I could have called them all to see if they did stand mixers, but I didn't.

Next, I tried Sears. Their website offers that they fix a wide variety of appliances and tools (from fridges to weedwackers), and they sell Kitchenaid stand mixer replacement parts on the web. I brought my mixer to the local store, which used to have an appliance repair center right next to it (it's gone, but they still accept items for repair inside the store). The worker I talked to 1) wasn't sure what the thing was at first, and 2) couldn't figure out how to enter the info into the computer to even accept it for repair. He told me to call their 1-800 number. So I did, right there in front of him (hey, that mixer is heavy and I wasn't about to haul it back and forth to the car if I didn't have to). The phone worker assured me that they did repair mixers, and worked some sort of data entry magic, which he then explained to the local guy (via my cell phone), and I left after paying my $30 deposit.

About a week later, I got an automated call saying that my mixer was repaired and to come pick it up. I arrived at the store, and the lady who brought it out to me (nicely packaged in what looked like a sewing machine box), told me that they do not repair mixers, despite what the guy on the phone had told me. She thinks maybe they used to. She also wasn't going to refund my $30 deposit. It was called "non-refundable", but I argued that I would happily have left the money if the attempted and failed to repair the mixer. To accept my money, spend a week shipping the mixer around the country, and then decide that they're not going to even crack it open, is just not right. Luckily, she eventually agreed with me. I did get to keep the box and all of the nice cushioning material.

Finally, I found a place through the web in Kansas City who repairs the dumb things. For $70, they would do most repairs and ship it back to you. So, after about $90 (I had to pay to ship it to them) and a month of road trips, my mixer is now back home and functional once more. The whole process was annoying, but in the end it cost about 1/3 of a new one.

Oh, and if you knew that Charlotte had gone to Iowa with her daddy for a surprise party for his parents, and thought this post would be about her trip and safe return, sorry to disappoint. I"m sure I'll get to that next. She is back also, though, safe and sound (except for a bit of a stomach bug...for some reason travelling to Iowa seems to make her sick to her stomach!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A couple of questions

I'm labelling this post as a "vent", but it's more my sarcastic view of the world today.

What is the purpose of the fixed door on a sliding glass door? If you want a huge window, why not just have a huge window there, why a door? I guess I can see that having a door that slides side to side instead of opening on hinges is useful--it would open even if there is 3-feet of snow pressed up against it from the outside. I just have never figured out why that second pane of glass is there, and doesn't slide or do anything except attract fingerprints and waste heating/cooling energy.

Why haven't any automakers marketed a hybrid mini-van yet? There are hybrid SUV's for goodness sake. I really don't care for a SUV, and although some people seem to think SUV's are more of a status symbol, I just dont' get it. I guess I haven't checked, but maybe the makers of the hybrid SUV's don't have a minivan that's worth buying, so they're hoping to grab a little of their marketshare? I don't know.

Why is it that when I go to Walgreens to have a prescription filled, it takes them 30-45 minutes to slap a sticker on a bottle and ring me up? 5, maybe 10 I could understand to provide time to verify inventory, check info on the computer, etc. But when there are like 2 non-employees in the entire store, and at least 3 people working in the pharmacy, whose prescriptions are they so busy with?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Addition and Subtraction

Trystan is feeling much better. His throwing up last week was attributed to an excess of snot, upsetting his tummy, with a small dose of carsickness to boot. It's wonderful to realize that he is sometimes just sick, just like any other child. I'm afraid, though, that it will still be a while before a large spitup or a full-scale puking episode doesn't make me panic and start counting poopy diapers, examining his belly for swelling, and listening intently for any sign of his passing gas.

This weekend, we figured out that Trystan's cold and stomach upset had another, complicating factor that had not anticipated. Some of his nausea was probably caused by or aided by excessive drool from teething. Charlotte was 13 or 14 months before she cut her first tooth, as was I. My mother-in-law couldn't remember my husband's exact age, but she remembered him being later as well. Trystan has decided to shun tradition by beginning at the tender age of 10 months. Also, unlike his sister who got her top two teeth first, he is starting with one on top and one on bottom, both at the same time.

Friday, Trystan had a visit to a urologist for a follow up on the state of his kidneys. At birth, we were told that he had one larger kidney, and one much smaller kidney, but after a variety of tests in teh NICU, that they seemed to be functioning fine. They still are, apparently. Well, one still is. His larger kidney is basically his only functioning one, the smaller one is continuing to get smaller (or perhaps just now grow). Luckily, people can live quite healthy lives with a single functioning kidney, and Trystan has not had any evidence of urninary tract or kidney infections so far. We were given a full pardon from the urologist--we do not need any routine follow ups with him. Hooray!

Tomorrow, we have Trystan's post-op follow up with his surgeon. I am not sure, but I am hoping that we may get a similar decision from him. I am not aware of any more information that they need to give us, instructions that we haven't already heard, or more follow up that Trysan would need. It would be lovely to cut down the number of doctors on our contact list to two--the pediatrician and the cardiologist.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Yesterday I was tired and grumpy, and wishing for a day off. I didn't sleep well the night before, having had too much caffeine before bed and waking up with a hungry baby overnight. Work was kind of boring--I had lots of small tasks and none of them were particularly interesting or challenging. Tuesdays Charlotte has dance class at 5:30 in the evening, and neither the time nor the day are convenient. My husband plays in a a wallyball league at that time, so it falls to me to pick the kids up from daycare, get Charlotte dressed, get her a snack, and be ready to dance at 5:30. That's a stretch for me, as I have to leave work by 4:30, which means I have to be in and ready to work by 8 or 8:30, assuming I plan to eat lunch at my desk, earlier if I don't (yeah, right, like I ever go out to lunch...). That doesn't sound so early, except that I'm already up as early as I can drag myself out of bed in the morning (around 6:30), and after showering, feeding the baby, getting kids dressed (with help, but still), packing bags, I usually have to pack my breakfast and eat that at my desk at work also, and I'm still lucky to leave the house by 8am.

Today, I'm getting my day off. To be exact, I am not at work and I am not home with two kids. I am home with one kid, who is sick. Trystan woke up coughing this morning, and coughed so hard he was gagging. He then threw up his breastmilk the first two times I attempted to let him nurse, and threw up several more times in between coughing. He has been constipated, which is a really bad thing for a kid with his medical history, and so I was planning to call a pediatrician this morning to ask about baby-safe laxatives or stool softeners anyway. The throwing up is worrisome with his history of bowel obstruction, so I've called both my pediatrician and the surgeon's office for direction on where I'm taking him today.

A little before 9, Trystan demanded to nurse again, so I gritted my teeth and let him, bracing for the spew. Much to my surprise, he has kept it down so far (a whole 30 minutes), and is sleeping. He has an 11am appointment with the ped, and I'm watching TV, blogging, and doing laundry. Blech.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Baby Jesus Chronicles

December 17, 2007:
Jesus is Born, as proclaimed by Charlotte the Herald

December 25, 2007:
The family sings Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus. He also has his first ride in a sling made out of a beach-y sarong bought by my sister on a research trip to Panama.

January 10, 2008:
"I put baby Jesus in a cage. The cage doesn't have a floor."

January 12, 2008:
Baby Jesus is laid to rest for the evening in a doll-sized cradle at the foot of Charlotte's bed, wrapped in a swaddling Winnie the Pooh pillowcase.

January 13, 2008:
Baby Jesus is not allowed to go to church. He must, instead, wait naked on the floor of the car.

January 14, 2008:
Baby Jesus is now inside the pillowcase, the opening neatly rolled shut.

I don't know that I'm brave enough to publish this post without explanation. Amusing though it might be to see if I get any strange or negative feedback, I'm really more interested in sharing some of the exploits of our 3-year old.

Baby Jesus, if you haven't already guessed, is a plastic baby doll that Charlotte got for her 2nd birthday, and who has only recently acquired a name. "He" looks anatomically female, and would actually wet a diaper should someone "feed" him through the hole in his mouth, a feature that we haven't shared with our daughter yet. He has one or two outfits that actually fit, but is frequently naked as Charlotte isn't quite dextrous enough yet to maneuver those arms and legs into the right spots. He is usually swaddled in a blanket. Any blanket.

Charlotte and Trystan were "helping" me with laundry last week, with Trystan attempting to use an empty laundry basket for pull-up practice. After tipping it over on himself several times (with and without Charlotte's help) I finally turned the thing upside down for stability. Charlotte, of course, saw the overturned basket for the same thing that every little kid sees it as--a cage. Lacking a zoo animal, she put her baby doll in it, leaving it there until the next day where I found it when getting ready to do more laundry. Her quote was remarkably easy to understand, if not comprehend (my husband didn't think he heard her right, until he saw it for himself...).

I have been considering moving several of Charlotte's larger doll furniture pieces to her room semi-permanently. That might give her inspiration for play activities that don't involve tormenting her brother when we're all upstairs, and would save floor space in our family and basement play rooms, which are getting overrun by toys lately. I started with the little cradle the other night, as an experiment. She is so far happy to have the baby bed in her room. The pillowcase was the quickest thing I could lay my hands on when Charlotte requested that her baby have a blanket for bedtime (this was like her 8th request before she could fall asleep...after tooth brushing, books, snuggles, water, kisses, etc). I didn't expect her to use it as a means of transportation for the doll later. Then again, I don't expect a lot of the things that she says and does lately. That's just part of the fun of parenthood, I guess.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reading List update

My first reading list follow-up.

The book I couldn't remember was Captive of my Desires by Johanna Lindsay. It was enjoyable, which sort of surprised me. I read a lot of her books back around high school, and while some were good, I think she was spitting some out too fast and they got a little formulaic, and a lot predictable. This one wasn't bad--it revisited some of the characters from some of her previous books, a set that I actually remembered when I started reading this one. Besides, it was free :) My mom had a large box full of books that she was done with and I grabbed a handful to bring home after Christmas. I would have taken all of them, but we were stuffed to the ceiling already with luggage and Christmas gifts.

I also finished Good in Bed. It was funny, like Jennifer Weiner's other books. Her characters usually fall into some predictable patterns (I'm guessing an autobiographical influence here), and this one wasn't much different. But, it was actually a chick-lit-styled murder mystery, and was definitely a fun read.

I'm now on The Kite Runner. I know there's a movie of it coming out, but my chances of seeing that are about nill until it hits cable. Alas. My hubby's not much into movies (he will agree to some of hte bigger ones, typically with enough action or sci fi/fantasy, or at least enough badgering from me), and I doubt it's appropriate for Charlotte. I do hear there's a new Veggie Tales movie opening today, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my husband might actually agree to accompany me and the kids that one.

My list of books to be read (in order of their piles on my bookshelf...roughly based on book dimensions):

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susana Clarke
Eldest (sequel to Eragon and who's author I don't remember and can't see from here)
Wizards' Daughter by Catherine Coulter (it's a romance, not a sci fi, in case you were curious)
Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts
A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett,
After the Fire by Belva Plain
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (see, Scott, I haven't forgotton!)
El Reino del Dragon De Oro and El Bosque de Los Pigmeos by Isabel Allende (must finish Ciudad de las Bestias first...see my previous post)
The Children of Hurin JRR Tolkein. I'm 1/3 of the way through. It will end up on the top of the stack again at some point and I'll just finish it.
The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
4 more Nora Roberts paperbacks that I can't read from here (from Mom's stash)
Everlating by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Another random romance paperback whose spine I can't read, but I know I bought for a quarter at the library used book table recently.

That ought to last me at least a couple of days, right? :) Actually, the taller, thinner paperbacks will probably get read the fastest (not the fat historical romances, but the fancier looking ones) because they fit in my pump bag and I will read them in the mother's room at work. That's about the only part of having to pump breastmilk that I will miss after Trystan can have regular milk at daycare--the reading breaks!

4/25/08: Ok, so this is a massivley belated update, which no one will ever read. But I have a correction: It was Goodnight Nobody, not Good in Bed. Same author, different book. Good in Bed was definitely not a murder mystery (though I enjoyed it when I read it several years ago)! Back to my regularly scheduled rambling

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What are you reading?

I have no idea how many books I've read in my lifetime. Hundreds, maybe thousands? Who knows. I probably have over a hundred sitting on bookshelves at home, all but a small pile of them finished (the rest are in the queue). No, I retract that. My husband has a good number as well, and there are plenty of his that are not in my list of books to read. We have overlapping taste in fiction, but his taste in Sci-Fi/Fantasy is sometimes a little (or a lot) darker than mine. I may get to them in time, though.

I am going to attempt to track for the year what all I'm reading. I've not done this since probably middle school when the recommended book lists were always full of things that I'd finished in elementary school, while I was raiding my mom's bookshelves, hiding some of the off-limits ones under my bed or in desk drawers so she didn't know I was reading them (sorry Mom!). Anyway, it ought to be interesting at the end of the year to review what all I've read. Children's books do not count (though some of the Spanish-language ones I read fall into the juvenile category..but they don't have pictures!). Cookbooks also will not count (though some of mine are more general non-fiction than just recipes--I'll make a judgement call if one like that comes up!).

I will read just about genre of fiction, with only a few exceptions of authors or books that I am not interested enough to finish. I'm not such a big fan of nonfiction, unless it covers something that I'm really interested in. Otherwise it feels like writing a reasearch paper. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain was a great read--one of the few non-fiction books I've truly enjoyed.

Here's the start of my list for 2008:

Recently Finished:
World Without End by Ken Follet.

In Progress:
  • Goodnight Nobody, by Jennifer Weiner

  • Ciudad de las Bestias (City of the Beasts) by Isabel Allende--this one is temporarily halted as my copy is defective. A chunk of pages in the middle has been replaced by a duplicate of later pages. I.e. the pages go 1..79 to 279..3xx back the end (repeating the 279... section). Must remember to call/write the publisher and see if they're willing to send me the missing section or something.

  • Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkein. I've stopped on this one for now, can't get into it.

I will have to list my upcoming ones later--I can only remember 2 or 3 of my pile!

Suggestions and comments are welcome

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dust bunnies

I have listed my first ever (two first ever) auctions on Ebay. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. More ambivalence than anything else.

I'm not attempting to make a career out of this or anything silly, just clean out some closets. I have nearly 6 years worth of a sewing magazine called Burda sitting in my office/sewing room/blackhole that I am hoping to find a good home for. The magazine is really neat--published in Germany (they print it in a bunch of languages, mine are in English), it's a fashion magazine that includes the patterns for dozens of items featured in the magazine. The clothes are always a bit fashion forward and the pictures are georgous, and the magazine is full of neat articles on travel and various people in the fashion industry (not necessarily the ones we'd hear about on our side of the pond either). A subscription costs something like $60 a year, but each magazne has 30-50 different sewing patterns in it.

I loved reading these things every month when they would come, but only attempted a small handfull of items from them. Mostly they were full of beautiful designs that were horribly impractical for my lifestyle--lots and lots of tailored jackets and trousers and dressy separates that would have looked comical in several of my jobsites (which are generally full of frumpy men in jeans or ancient khaki pants, one of them where we all wore shorts and sandals).

Anyway, enough of the sales pitch. I do still like to sew, but have found precious little time for it since Charlotte was born (in fact, my last magazine is dated 5/04..3 months before she was born). It doesn't help that sewing machines make noise, and my sewing area shares a wall with her headboard, so basically I can't sew whenever she's asleep. There's no time in the day when she's awake that I can find more than about 30 seconds to do something childfree, and inviting small children to "help" in a hobby that involves tiny pins, needles, rotary cutters, tissue paper, and scissors is, shall we say, unadvisable. My sewing tables are currently the landing zone for whatever junk has been tossed in the office to be put away "later".

Long story short (too late!), I'm attempting to clean up my junk. I tossed my 10 year old dressmaker dummy (formed to my body out of duct tape, and displaying a waistline and bust that I won't see again in quite the same proportion without surgery) into this week's trash. I sorted all my magazines, and have listed '98 and '04 (both partial years...I only have 5 months of each) on Ebay. I hope they sell. I'm not expecting a positive return on my investment, but if I make $5 on each batch, I'll be ecstatic. I will list the other years once I see how this goes. I have a rickety chest of drawers crammed full of fabric that is going next--I intend to ask at daycare if they want any of it for crafts, otherwise I'll load the large pieces up and head them for goodwill (if they chuck it, I'll never know).

If anyone is crafty and wants any of this stuff, it's yours. I am certainly not getting rid of my machines or anything like that, just fabric and magazines that are collecting dust and reminding me of projects I never made.

For the curious, here are the links to my two auctions:

1998 Burda World of Fashion

2004 Burda World of Fashion

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Next 20 Years

I'm 30. Yes, I've been 30 for 9.5 months now, so it really shouldn't surprise anyone, especially not me. But most of the last 9.5 months have been spent worrying about other (much smaller) people, most especially Trystan, who sent me to the hospital on my 30th birthday with false labor (actually, real labor that sort of stalled out).

I have a few New Year's resolutions, but they're pretty predictable, and a lot boring. But, I realize lately that most of my bigger life goals have already come to pass: graduate college, career, house, marriage, kids. Now I need to come up with a few more things for my life's to-do list.

Here are a few things I would like accomplish by the time I turn 50:

  • Get another college degree. I'm not sure in what yet. The easy choice here would be a Masters in Computer Science. Other options I've kicked around: Culinary school, art, maybe writing (that's the newest addition to the list).

  • Learn another language well enough to read a book or newspaper un-translated. Verbal conversations are optional :) I started French once in college, but had no time to follow up. I had some trouble because I kept mixing up the French and Spanish, and I wasn't impressed with the teacher.

  • Get my eyes fixed. Contacts suck. Glasses are annoying. Both are expensive, and rather dangerous to do without. Maybe this year or next...

  • Do some genealogical research. Some of my relatives have done a bit, and maybe one of these days I will attempt to track down what they have, but I'd especially like to learn more about my paternal grandfather's family.

  • Travel more. I haven't ever spent much time outside of the Midwest, and my list of things to see is extensive:
    • Latin America, all of it. Ok, that's silly. Just most of it. I loved visiting Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. I'd love to see Machu Picchu, and any other ancient ruins I could get to.

    • Italy-at least Rome and Venice

    • France, at least Paris

    • Spain, basically all of it

    • UK, Ireland: London, Wales (my maiden name is Welsh, we think), Loch Ness, Stonehenge, Dublin, castles, more castles, more castles

    • US:
      • The northeast, any part. Except for about 36 hours in Boston for a job interview, I've not been closer than DC.

      • The giant sequoias

      • The Grand Canyon

      • The Pacific Ocean. I spent 2 or 3 days in Los Angelos interviewing at USC my senior year of high school, but I only saw the campus and the airport.

I will attempt to revisit this list at some point. It's a pretty tall order as it stands, given that we also have two children to raise to quasi-adulthood and send off to college over the next 20 years. Perhaps I should add "win the lottery" and "hire a staff" to the list.