Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Color me unsurprised!

Went to the doctor today to get a blood draw to prove to the school that I'm pregnant. The interview went something like this:

Young woman: Date of your last cycle?
Me: January 2nd
YW: Deliberate or accidental pregnancy?
Me: Oh, deliberate.
YW: Any birth control used?
Me: (Wondering) Why would she ask that if I just mentioned this was deliberate? (Out loud) None.
YW: You realize that your cycle isn't late yet, don't you?
Me: Actually, it is.
YW: But it can't be if your last one was 1/2!
Me: Strangely enough, it can be.
YW: (Disbelievingly) And you took a home pregnancy test? And it was positive?
Me: Oh yes.
YW: But...? (She clearly thinks I'm insane. How can I possibly know that I'm pregnant if my period, according to the "standard" cycle of 28 days has not passed? How can I possibly know what I'm talking about? I'm not a Trained Professional, as she is!)
Me: You're going to have to trust me on this. I'm late. And I'm pregnant.
YW: (Baffled) OK, follow me and we'll get your blood drawn.
Me: (Disturbed and silent) Blood? Whatever happened to pee in a cup? Eek! Oh well. This is the beginning of a long series of pokings and proddings for this pregnancy. Better get used to it!

Much later that day, they called to tell me...Taaah daaah! that I'm pregnant!

Wow! Such a relief! (Drip, drip, drip goes the sarcasm.)

The woman on the phone clearly had the voice of a Professional Therapist. Sweet and mellow. I could tell that she was glad I was one of the few that wanted to hear a positive outcome.

And I didn't even get psychotically angry at the Young Woman for not believing me! Must be the Grape-Nuts.

And then I passed out for 3 hours. The exhaustion! It's sucking entire days away!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's a blob!

See? No bigger than .05 inches and certainly not a baby. However, I want it to be a baby. Let's give it a few months.

Your baby this coming week:

Implantation is complete. Your future baby has now reached beneath the lining of your uterus and growth is rapid. Your baby is now called an embryo. The embryo is still about 0.05 inches (1.25mm) long. It is deeply embedded in your uterus.

It is now possible to identify the fold of skin that will become your baby's head. A heart forming plate has developed and the central nervous system, muscles and bone are in the early stages of development. Your baby's heart has started beating. The brain, spine and beginnings of the nervous system are forming.

By the end of this month, your baby will resemble a tiny tadpole, barely the size of a grain of rice. A distinct organization, however, is becoming visible. There is a stripe down the back of the embryo which is curling over to form a groove which will seal up to form the neural tube. This will turn into the spinal cord and brain. The top of the tube is flattening out and expanding to form the front part of the brain.

The placenta, which will provide nourishment to your developing baby later in your pregnancy, is not yet formed. Right now your baby is nourished from you via hundreds of tiny "roots" that cover the amniotic sac. The nourishment is channeled from you to your baby from these roots through a stalk that will become the umbilical cord. The placenta will begin its development this week. It will form in the site that the fertilized egg attached to the lining of your uterus at the time of implantation. A bulge is developing where your baby's heart will be and the blood vessels are growing into place.

I'm making someone else's central nervous system over here (and to think that I never thought I was crafty!). What are you doing right now?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Interview

Because I know you have questions!

Q: How did this happen? Well...I mean...I know how this happens, but how did this happen? It was taking so long!
A: Well, when two people love each other...Oh wait, you said you were up on that part....How this happened was when I was talking to my kid sister Cindy, she mentioned the Fertility Friend website, where they have all manner of information that will help you conceive. Charting, basal body temperatures, cervical mucus (You're squicked out now, aren't you?), that sort of thing. It involved being incredibly anal about taking my temperature and charting it for 2.5 months and then discovering the reason why we've never gotten pregnant sooner was because we kept missing the 4 day window of fertility by four days! So once we were hip to when our actual window of opportunity was - POW!

Q: How far along are you?
A: Two weeks.

Q: That's crazy! How can you be so certain?!
A: See the chart. Click on it to see the details. Where it says Implantation dip? Ayup. The green line at the end? Positive pregnancy test. Whee!

Q: You're telling us awfully early, aren't you?
A: Yeah, I am. The first time around, Eric wouldn't let me tell anyone for three months! Imagine my surprise when I asked him how long I had to wait this time and he just shrugged and said he left it up to me! See how blase we already are with the second child?!

Q: What if anything...goes wrong?
A: Well then, I'll write about it here and we'll try again. I'm pretty blase about that, too, at the moment. I'm sure I'll change my tune if anything does go wrong, but right now I'm thinking positive thoughts.

Q: Why? Why a second kid? If you're so crazy with just Caitlin, what were you thinking?!
A: This is a tough one. There are a bunch of different reasons to have a kid which are all outnumbered by the reasons not to have another kid!
  1. Yes, we are currently financially challenged, but we have the majority of the things we'd need for a 2nd kid, so the expense won't be all that much higher.
  2. I'm home full time, so that part of things will be easier (on Eric!) this time.
  3. Caitlin really really really really wants a sibling. No we're not just doing it for her!
  4. Every time I thought I was pregnant but wasn't, I was really upset so I guess I actually did want another!
  5. We have a lot more love to throw around than on just one child.
  6. Hubris alert: More people like us should be having kids!
  7. We finally have the hang of this parenting thing....Mostly!
  8. We got tired of so much sleep. Really, it's over-rated.

Q: How can I help?
A: If you decide you want to ask something similar to the following questions: "What were you thinking?!" or "Are you insane?!", be certain to smiiiiiiile when you do so and get ready to run. Depending on my mood, of course.

Q: When are you due?
A: Early October.

Q: Do you think it's a boy or a girl?
A: Not certain! The tsunami dream makes me think it's a boy, but that may have more to do with fear of any new child making our lives crazy. I haven't had any dreams yet of little curly headed boys or dark eyed girls yet, so I'm feeling fairly sex-guessing neutral right now.

Q: Do you want a boy more or a girl more?
A: Actually, I'd be happy either way, although I'd prefer to not have both! No twins! Aieee! I've slept at Val's house and wow! I'm hoping for a singleton! While it would be kind of cool to have one of each, if we have a second girl, I've got gear! And practice! Girls rock!

Q: How did Caitlin react when you told her?
A: She had the best possible reaction I could have imagined: she did this silent little dance with an expression of joy on her face, her eyes closed tight. I almost bawled right there, my heart squeezed so hard. So yeah, she's thrilled! She's going to be a great big sister!

Q: Any weird cravings yet?
A: No, not yet, although I am eating Grape-Nuts again. I was feeling really sick and exhausted last Monday, and thinking about what Misty had gone through, I thought I'd try eating something that was chock full of iron. Since I hate Cream of Wheat, I went with Grape-Nuts because I am a texture eater. Must have crunchy! It seems to have done the trick. I am, however, eating bananas, which I normally don't eat since I don't like the...texture. They have to be just past green but not too yellow. Firm! Grape-Nuts: 90% RDA for iron. Take that, Cream of Wheat!

Q: Have any morning sickness?
A: Nope! Grape-Nuts also appears to be a preventative. Didn't have any nausea last time either. I know, I know - you hate me!

Q: Natural childbirth this time?
A: No. Hell no! Nuh-uh! No to the F-ing Way, dude! Last time, I had an emergency c-section since I never dilated past 1 cm. I endured labor for about 24 hours, felt it for all but 6 of those hours until I finally asked (Begged) for an epidural. After being "checked" (HAH!) about 4 times and being told I was still at 1 cm, I couldn't take the pain anymore. I already have the scar. I've already felt labor pains. I'm certain that I'm not missing out.

Q: how many more kids are you going to have?
A: This is it. The last one. Two. Replacements.

Q: What about that 3rd kid waiting up in heaven for you?
A: One could also ask, what about that 4th, 7th, 9th or 16th kid, too. It's not gonna happen. Sorry mom! That's what population control is all about!

Q: Hey! I'm a [3rd] [4th] [9th] child! Are you saying I shouldn't have been born?!
A: When did this blog become about you?

Q: Got any names picked out yet?
A: Nope! Instead, as Dan astutely guessed, I'm looking for your input - but with a twist! What names should we avoid? What names are so over-popular that we should stay away from or so ordinary that they just won't work for a Hatchet Child? Names we can't use for boys include all of those of my nephews: Daniel, James, Max, Tyler, Axl, Hawke.
Note: if your name comes up, don't be offended. See the response to the question above for the reason why.

Well, that's all of the most popular questions I can think of so far. Time to go eat something!

Friday, January 26, 2007


How do you know when you're pregnant?

Is it morning sickness? Is it weird food cravings? Is it exhaustion? Or is it when faced with a petty bureaucrat, you completely flip out and discuss rending them limb from limb while snarling and gnashing your teeth?

For me it was the latter.

As mentioned previously, I'm going back to school to take music lessons for the insurance. I wanted to take piano, but it looks like Continuing Ed students don't rate. Instead I will be taking Beginning Guitar. Of course, this now means that I must purchase a guitar (sigh!).

Just so you know, I was able to register for School online and register for classes online, but when it came to registering for insurance online...noooooooo! So there I was, in the last two weeks, attempting to register for I had followed all of the other directions: logged in here, set this up; logged in there, set that up. Clicked on the button, it appeared to do what I wanted and then went about my merry way.

When a confirmation email didn't show up the next day I thought it was a problem with how I'd entered the information, so I went back and did it again. Made sure I dotted all my i's and crossed my t's. No error message, no pop-up windows, no blaring sirens alerting me to my folly. Then I waited a few extra days, thinking Well, they're busy processing everyone over there. These things take time. Then I went online again yesterday and saw the news item that said the insurance registration window was closed. As of Wednesday. I freaked out.

How can it be closed without telling me if I'm insured or not?!

I called the number listed and asked them what was going on. They then said that I'd have to talk to the manager. I said that would be lovely and left a message about how I did this and then that and didn't get insured, please help. I received a call back that was immediately confrontational:

Petty Bureaucrat: (defensively) Prove where our documentation told you that you could sign up online! You're not allowed to as Cont. Ed.! It's only available for full time students!
Hatchet: (distraught) I did not say that the documentation said I could sign up online. I thought I could, since I'd done everything else online. I followed the links to this here website and did what it asked. It didn't tell me I couldn't.
PB: (angry and patronizing) It says in big letters that you can't on the site. (Note: It doesn't. I'm not that clueless!) You can't do it. You're not a regular student.
H: (pissed) I didn't see anything that told me I couldn't do it. Perhaps there was something that said that, but when I did thus and so, it let me and didn't give me any error messages...
PB: (angry) You aren't allowed to! You have to come on site, in person, and sign up for insurance! Where did it say you could do so online?!
H: (incensed, but trying to get a grip) Look, that's not the point. The point is that I did thus and so and didn't get an error message and didn't get an email and all I want --
PB: (angry at my stupidity) It doesn't work that way! You can't use it!
H: (taking a deep breath and putting away ex-project manager shredding technique 803) I get it. I get it. Clearly, I missed something. What I need to know is --
PB: (still angry at my stupidity) You have to do it in person and the window is closed!
H: (gnashing of teeth) Can I get insurance even though I'm one day late or --
PB: (continued anger in the face of my clear ineptitude) You have to come down, in person, and sign up for it. But you'll have to pay the full student fees! Most Cont. Ed. people hear about that and don't want to pay the fees and skip insurance entirely.
H: (hanging on to nerves by cracking and peeling fingernails) How much are the fees?
PB: (indignantly) They are this much.
H: (calmly with gritted teeth) That's fine. Where do I need to go?
PB: (haughtily) This location.
H: (gritted teeth) Thank you.

I set the phone gently back into its cradle and then roared at Eric, who listened to my half of the exchange with ever widening eyes.

Look, as an ex-IT project manager, it's clear to me that there was both user error and design error here. All it would have taken would have been maybe 20 lines of code to either
a) check to see if my registration allowed me to get insurance online (and then gave me a pop-up window or a nicely worded email that would have told me to get my butt to campus) or
b) just set it up so that it allows non-full time students to enroll for insurance online. Novel concept, eh?! WHY?! would they want to do it two separate ways? What the hell do they gain by making all non-full time students go on campus to sign up for insurance? Traffic congestion?!

Enraged! I got in the shower and tried to calm down. Envisioned many more angry conversations with PB. And PB's boss. Didn't calm down. Enraged! I got in the car with Eric, snarling and gnashing my teeth as we drove to campus. Didn't calm down. Enraged! I questioned whether this whole thing was worth doing anyway?!, to which Eric responded, Yes. Calming down slightly I determined that if PB was what stood between me and thousands of dollars of out of pocket expense for pregnancy related issues, that it behooved me to get the insurance first and sort out his poor customer relationship skills later. Simmering! I went in, signed the paper work, quietly thanked the pale young woman that looked at me askance (I suspect she had heard about my phone conversation with PB!), crossed the hall and paid the umpty ump dollars for insurance and Full Student Fees!, thanked that person and left.

Psychotic anger begins to bubble up again.

I snarl at Eric: I want chocolate! And a pregnancy test! And tea and pastries! Snarrrrrl! We zip off to accomplish these tasks. First to the store, then to the shop for lunch (with pastries, dammit!). I continued to playfully (with bite!) snarl at Eric who was really hoping food would soothe the savage breast. Food good. Waitress very very nice. Snarling slows down and stops. Tea is yummy. Ooh! Chocolate croissants?! Yay! Mollified, we returned home, where I processed to mark my territory to determine whether the psychotic anger was me being pregnant or me being psychotic.


Even so, here are my issues with this whole exchange:
  1. I couldn't possibly be the only person this has ever happened to.
  2. Why wouldn't they want all students to register for insurance online?
  3. WHY isn't there an error message or email?
  4. How about just a short sentence in the small window where it said CLICK HERE FOR INSURANCE that said, "But not you (list), suckers!"
  5. This was not the way for the School to handle a client contact. It shouldn't have been that hard for him to consider that I was (perhaps) an idiot and to calmly suggest that I come down and register in person, regardless of what I tried to do and why. I wanted to give them money. Schools like money. This was not good customer service.
  6. I'm not a teenager any more for some PB to shove around! What the hell?!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Today was the day.

The day of test results.

Noooo! Not the Pee On a Stick kind (The things you can find on the internet!)! The Caitlin Testing kind!

So we had the sit down with the principal, the special testing teacher and Caitlin's teacher. Oh, fun times, indeed! Not knowing what to expect, I felt I needed to prepare for a battle. As I applied makeup I thought: War Paint. I checked in with Kate. We armed ourselves with pencil and pad of paper for note taking. Eric suggested that I not start off in an adversarial manner. What?! Me? After our fabulous start down this road?


Well...OK. Maybe. Just a wee bit.

Then they took the wind right out of my sails by saying the things I actually expected to hear: she tested very well on the non-verbal Naglieri and Raven tests, but when it got to the CogAT, she was easily distracted and didn't want to work. They felt that she would have done better if she could have focused more on the work, but that they are certain if she were to test on it again in a year that her scores on that part will be much higher.

Apparently you have to make the 95% in order to be considered Talented and Gifted in Colorado. Caitlin is brilliant for a kindergartener.

Oh, but wait! She would have been considered TAG if she'd taken that test as a 2nd grader. Ooooh!

"Well, DUH! I'm soooo surprised!" you say sarcastically to the computer monitor. Patience, Grasshopper! We had to wait for the school to sign off on it officially.

Now what?

Now we come up with goals as a family and with her teacher. We have a look over the district website for cool things we can do to stretch her mind and we walk that fine line between pushing and slacking and advocating for our child.

For the fretful among you, think about this: if she were talented physically (gymnastics, swimming, etc.) or musically (piano, singing, etc.) would you want us to bench her until her peers caught up with her or would you want her to put those talents to use and to keep her learning new things? Because that's the way that I translate the fretting I get from people when we start talking about TAG stuff. Everyone is concerned that parents of TAG kids are pushing them too hard and that they won't give the kid a chance to just "be a kid". That we won't pay attention to her socialization. That there is a dread fear that we're flash carding her personality out of existence.

Trust me. Trust us as parents. Trust in Caitlin.

Besides, flash cards? That's work!

She's a small sponge and we're working to fill her with knowledge that she wants. Being smart is something to be proud of, not fearful of. This is not a competition. No one has to worry that someone else in the world loses out because Caitlin has been labeled TAG.

We want to keep her happy and not bored and disruptive in class. We want her to enjoy school. She's going to be in it for the next 16 years, at least! This assumes she doesn't skip grades, either. As for skipping grades? Who knows! We'll find out when we get there. We're not planning on over scheduling her but we will sign her up for fun classes - we're thinking music lessons, voice lessons and/or sports. She's got a lot of talent and needs some extra-curriculars to direct that talent.

The school doesn't have a "pull out" program: where they take the TAG to special classes. They don't have a dedicated TAG teacher. They have Individual Learning Plans for each child - a compromise between the lack of funding the schools receive and the need to teach everyone a little differently. So we're going to have to be right in there, slinging learning opportunities around.

And so we will.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

About Domino

Originally emailed 8/13/05:

If ONLY my grumpy 15 year old cat would play with Kaboom, our 8 month old. But NOOoooOOOO, he has no interest he says and that Kaboom can go take a flying leap into the neighbor's yard. The neighbor with the dogs, that is.

Tired of listening to the fighting, yelling, hissing and screaming, as well as being mangled in the middle of the night as Pixel leaps onto the bed and GOUGES trenches out of my legs, we gave in.

Yes, we bought another kitten.

His name is Domino. Originally it was Josh, but who are we to stick to normal human names?! He's 4 months old and feisty! He was very playful at the local shelter so we figured he should be able to hold his own against Kaboom. Who really just desperately wants to play, but Pixel doesn't. Pixel figures he is too dignified (Hah!) to play with bratty baby cats. So we figured, in order to keep the peace in the house that we should get a friend for Kaboom. Highest on the list was someone young, but not too young and PLAYFUL.

Hungry too. This guy is VORACIOUS! And snuggly. He makes Kaboom look HUGE! Of course, Kaboom is now at 10 lbs, so he kinda IS huge. Perhaps getting someone to chase around will help slim him down. It's clear that he's sucked down way too many kitty kibbles as well as large snatches of Pixel food. So far, the introduction is going very well. Kaboom has pretty much ignored Pixel since the kitten came into the house. He has tried desperately to play with Domino and succeeds for a little while until the kitten starts to feel overwhelmed by Kaboom's need to play. Then Domino hisses like a tiny asp.

Pixel pretty much ignores the new kitten, unless he meets up with him face to face unexpectedly. Then there's hissing from Pixel and the kitten runs away. Pixel then runs in the opposite direction. He's such a big scaredy cat!

Anyway, the experiment in Introducing New Kitten As Playmate seems to be a success!

Size comparison (not in focus - darn those moving objects!).
Note: I was coming up empty on what to write and ran across this email. Domino's a whole lot bigger now!
He'll be two this May. And he's still snuggly and is excellent friends with Kaboom. Who is also bigger now.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Apocalypse dreamin'

I had a really bad dream tonight. So bad, that I'm wide awake and can't sleep anymore. So bad that I had to make myself fully wake up to get away from it.

Not so bad that while it was happening I didn't know it wasn't real and started my whole horrible bad dream breathing sequence. The crazy loud breathing, sitting up straight in bed, heart racing at 100 mph. In order to get it out of my head, I'm going to share it with you.

You're welcome!

The three of us - Eric, Caitlin and I - are somewhere. Not home. Vegas? Beach? Island? Somewhere distinctly not here. We start out inside a building and we're trying to leave but we keep on One Last Thing-ing and I can feel myself getting more and more anxious.

Note: Just so you know, any dream where we are all actually ourselves is usually a bad sign in my dreams. Good dreams don't have both C and E, it might be one or the other or good dreams will star me, but I won't be the me that I know and usually C & E aren't in it. Can't swashbuckle with a husband and kid, you know!

We clearly have to leave here and are in a hurry. There's the usual whining, I think, but there's nothing memorable about it in the dream. We get in the car, but it's not my car. There are no seatbelts for Eric and I. Caitlin is strapped into it in some way. Is Eric standing? Is it see-through?

Not Safe! Not safe! The back of my brain is screaming at me.

We're trying to get away, but where to? From what? Why are there no other people around? Suddenly, we're separated from Caitlin. I think there are more people around. My brain backfills my reality. We're farther down the...beach? Space. Something. I'm yelling at her to hang on and I'm trying to wrap my hands around something. (I suspect I was winding my hands into the bedsheets at this point.) Something to hold on to, to stay near her, but I haven't got a seatbelt. I haven't got anything to secure myself to and can't see the thing I'm trying to secure myself from.

Suddenly my view is from a long way away, not immediate first person view and I see the tsunami coming. It's gut clenching. Big. Bigger than anything. God. Overwhelming. It's going to take everything. We're going to die.

I'm screaming like a mad woman, yet I know at this point that I'm sleeping. That there is no wave and that I'm OK, but the images won't stop. We're no longer near Caitlin. I can see her just for a moment and then she is swept away and shoved towards our position by a million tons of water. I'm desperate for her to remember how to swim. That something from all of those lessons will have stuck. That I will see a small head pop up out of the water and that she'll be OK.

I can't bear it anymore. I can't stand it. I can't face the logical resolution to seeing Caitlin swept away and knowing that the wave is coming for Eric and I next. Bad enough to lose her. The worst of my nightmares, but to also see him taken as well? I need to wake up before I start weeping/screaming.

I will myself to Wake The Fuck UP! It's just a dream. You know it's just a dream! Stop it!

I can feel my own hands gripping my chest and the blankets. I hear my breathing get louder and faster, but I don't want to wake Eric up, so I try to calm myself down. I think I need to eat something when I wake up. Should I have cereal? Is that the cat? I want to pet the cat. Am I awake yet? What time is it?

I'm up. I'm shaky, but I'm up. Must get dream out of my head before I shake Eric awake for reassurance or go clutching at the sleeping Caitlin out of fear. The cats don't know anything about my dream, but they're glad I'm awake. This means they can eat early this morning. Yay! They pad down the hall in front of me on tiny, silent kitty feet. They keep looking over their shoulders to make sure I get their drift. Food! Food, right? This way! Come on!


Nothing like a little terror with your morning, is there? Nothing like a little take my child away/kill my child/fear of drowning/death dream! Yay!


Boy is Eric going to be confused when he sees the sticky note on his computer that says:

I love you.
Please don't die.
Yes, it was a VERY bad dream.

So how was your night? What's your worst nightmare?

Friday, January 19, 2007


This just in...

Today was Caitlin's turn at presenting her material for "Shining Star". Last Friday she was given a large, yellow construction paper star that she was supposed to write/draw on and discuss the following things:

Me: A picture of Caitlin, right in the middle.

My family: dad, me, mom (taped on photo of the 3 of us from Max's b-day - taken by Linda. Thanks Linda!)

My favorite food: spagety and maet balls, samin
My favorite thing to do: read books
My favorite color: pink, blue, black, prple, brown, orange
  • Of note: She crossed off the extra ones when I complained that she was just copying others and that she's never previously mentioned liking those colors. Now I'm thinking I should have just left it alone, but at the same time it points out, yet again, the amount of conformity that goes on in kindergarten. I sat in on a couple other Shining Star presentations and noted that the girls all seem to write down all the colors of the rainbow and then the other kids follow suit. Same for food. Amazing how often "spaghetti and meatballs" shows up and may or may not be true. Caitlin, actually, doesn't like it. This time I just mentioned salmon in passing (which she's cruh-AAAzy about) and she added on "samin" in pink crayon.
A funny thing that happened to me: I went back word on my sled.
  • Of note: During our sledding trial, we spun around backwards on the sled. Much fun!
Parents are invited to come and observe the presentation and generally stick around for lunch. At lunchtime, kids with parents sit in the special tables right in the middle of the room and are only allowed to choose one friend to sit with them, in addition to their parents.

Caitlin chose The Angry Young Man.

To say that we were stunned would be putting it mildly. As Eric mentioned, kids don't tend to hold grudges for very long and their alliances are mercurial. Who knows why she chose him, but she did, so we all sat together and had a nice little lunch. I've watched what the teachers have been doing and it appears to be working. Caitlin hasn't come home complaining about him at all for a few weeks now. Winter break seemed to also have helped the situation. I've observed the teachers all paying close attention to him, sitting next to him during "mat time", or whatever they call the organized sitting together on the floor periods. Whenever they leave the room, he is in front, holding the teacher's hand. Clearly this has the physical effect of knowing where he is at all times and knowing that he's not whacking little Jane/Johnny, but it also has the benefit of direct attention, of which he really appears to be in need. Sitting at table with us, he was fine - he was nice to Caitlin and everything.

So! There you have it. My shining star is winning the hearts of the masses: during the Q&A period of her presentation, she took Sebastien's question (Of course!), and is making friends with the AYM. Wow.

She's some kid!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Waiting for Spring

You know, when the winter solstice came, I thought about doing a post, but it's really hard to feel the Return of the Sun when you wake up and it's still DARK out. When you just know, in your animal brain, that you really should just go back to sleep until it's actually dawn.

But no! I didn't write that post. So instead, here's the remixed version with some Depth of Winter Whining.

It's Thursday and yet...there's no snow storm! How can this be? Oh, wait - never fear - looks like it's just been moved out to Saturday for this week. OK then, back to winter. Well, except that the temperature has been in the single digits I guess we never escaped it.

Have I mentioned my torrid love affair with books? Only rivaled by my passionate love of gardening, which is thwarted by my decided lack of funds. However, this is rectified by my "discovery" of the local library and their assortment of books that they are willing to loan you. For free! I know! Novel concept! I avoided the library for years because as a kid it was something like a 20 block walk (In NYC there's no mileage, you count everything by blocks.) to the library which meant that it was inevitable that I would be late in returning them. There are only so many 10 cent late fees a kid (and her folks) can handle before they discover that they're better off just not going and instead borrowing everyone else's books. Fast forward to my seriously flush years and you'll see the results on my shelves: I have my very own gardening reference section.

I bought the Encyclopedia of Gardening and the matching A-Z of Garden Plants as well just because I could (and I sure didn't get them at discount prices, either! Eek!). I've learned and forgotten more Latin plant names than any non-professional should ever know and I've taught my mom (whom I thought was knowlegable about all things green and growing) a thing or two about the plants in her yard, way up in Canada. Today and you'll see me poring over the 5 books I took out from the library: The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer, the Theme Gardens book, The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom (I really need my own copy of this book) and a couple others on container and water gardening. I'm so frantic for plants and color and sun and warmth that I can't actually focus on reading just one of them from cover to cover and am instead jumping around and distracted by beautiful, color drenched photos.

However, I am gladdened by the thought of what's going to come up in my garden this coming year. Considering the sheer amount of work I put into it last fall, with the beginnings of a massive remodel, it should really be something to behold. Well...either this year or next year. Either way - I've got flowers coming! The hard part is waiting and not continually comparing myself (and disparaging my own work) to the gardens of a) professionals and b) mature gardens. Mine is very nice and will get nicer over time as it a) matures and b) I get more of a gardening clue.

Here's a picture of the front garden in July:

I added dozens and dozens (Hundreds? Not unlikely!) more plants by the end of summer and completely changed the plants along side the stairs and removed the Shrub of Doom. I also completely tore up the backyard and put in another whole bunch of plants.

Here it is in early September.

The backyard is too horrible to show you Before pictures of it. I'll photograph it in the spring and then go from there.

Maybe this year I'll finish work on the side yard. You know, the part that I tore up and ran out of steam/time/warm weather to finish? Yeah, that project!

Exciting item of note: I'm going to start hundreds and hundreds more plants from seeds this spring as well as taking cuttings like mad of many other plants and then (Hopefully!) sell them. Like for real. At the Farmer's Market. For money. With Heather. I'm starting a new career and it's going to involve plants. It's gonna be great! Lots of planning involved. Must work on that during the dark winter.

So what are you doing while you wait for Spring?

Eric says....

"You know, I like playing Warcraft as it's a pretty fun game. But that's all it is, a game. I don't know why some people obsess over it, call it addictive, etc.
I mean, I can take it or leave it, I could stop playing any.... WHAT!!! the world server is down! I'm half a bar from 40! AIEEEEE!!!!!!


Now you know we're in trouble!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Muscle Fatigue

You'd have thought I'd be used to this by now. I'd have thought after 5.5 years of parenting and 14 years of being with Eric (you heard me!) that I'd have toughened up or something.


My face hurts.

From grinning from ear to ear.

Apparently I don't smile enough.

We went sledding right before the last snowstorm (only a few inches, we're not buried again), right after a bunch of it finally started melting. There were even patches of muddy earth visible on the slope we were about to hurl ourselves down. It was - dare I say it? - warm out. This is usually an indicator that things are about to get really frickin' cold soon (Negative OH MY GOD! I'm not going out there! degrees) in another day. But there we were, finally in possession of Caitlin's new sled from Pop-Pop and Nana-Sue that got massively delayed by the previous two storms.

There we were, facing what seemed to be a Very Steep Hill. Caitlin was all bundled up and wearing a helmet. Eric and I were bundled up and internally fretting: is that hill Too Steep? Are we Insane? Who gets to go down first? Do I really want to walk up the Very Steep Hill?

We started off with one of us going down with her for a couple of runs. We might only have done one run apiece when she announced she was ready to do it on her own. We let her go and she went hurtling off into space, zipped down the hill, somehow managed to spin around backwards while sliding downhill and came safely to a stop at the bottom. Man, that thing can fly! It was awesome! I went down with her squealing and shrieking and we spun around backwards and slipped down the hill. I have no idea why she and I kept spinning around, I tried to stop the spin but when it instead felt like we were about to flip over, I let the spin happen. It was scary/fun to suddenly look back up the hill at Eric and wave.

We were soaked before very long. Caitlin flipped over once or twice and into the mud at least once which she thoroughly disliked. Eric and I even squeezed onto the Flexible Flyer together once and went whipping downhill.

I laughed so hard my face and ribs ached.

Sledding: it's what's for dinner!

Exhausted, we trudged back up the hill and went home for a hot bath and warm food.

Life is good!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

News of the weird

Got really long arms? Rescue a dolphin.

Would I kid you about such a thing? Surely not!

Guaranteed to make you crazy

Go to and tell me how many you get right.

I got 13/20 before I started going buggy. Dan gave me a hint for one, before I begged for the rest. I'll give you the answers in the comments, later today.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Random thought for the day

People that live in strawbale houses should never fight fire with fire.


OK, that aphorism just went up in smoke, didn't it?


I'll stop now.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Are people inherently good or bad?

A long winded reply to Misty's musing has sparked all manner of response in me.

So now you get to suffer for it! Bwahahahaaa!

Well now that's a whole series of serious questions (Misty asked). Are people either inherently good or evil?

I think people are neutral and their actions define them. The path to hell and all that is, after all, paved with good intentions. So even if your intentions are good ones and you still manage to kill people directly (not, for example 5th party down) through your actions, I'd call you evil. For instance, the doctors that wanted to study syphilis and let it run rampant in black men MAY have had good intentions but their practice was EVIL. Thus, to me, they were evil men. Surely there was some other way of figuring syphilis out.

However it becomes a slippery slope very quickly because there's ALWAYS going to be someone further up the Angelic Chain that can point to their years in the Peace Corps that beats your local social activism, or my composting beats your recycling, etc. So you probably need to ask yourself whether you are contributing to the positive or the negative with your CONSCIOUS choices.

Shop at Walmart? Can you shop anywhere else? Then do so. Can't afford to? Then you should work to make the world a better place in some other way. Conscious choice. Could you recycle/compost but you don't because it's "too much trouble"? Something to think about then. "Too much trouble" doesn't cut it with me. Things that are worthwhile to do are going to take extra effort.

Having children is a perfect example. It's "easy" to just let them run rampant and a helluva lotta work to actually socialize them: please, thank you, eating with utensils, using napkins, excuse me, not running out and shooting the place up, etc. It is "easier" to not even bother, but a good human being is WORTH the extra effort. Just as taking care of our ONLY planet is WORTH the extra effort (of composting/recycling/eating organic/shopping at "blue" places/reducing our impact on the planet).

We only have the one planet. No one has yet PROVED there is a god/goddess and that there is any life other than this one. We need to stop kidding ourselves that there's some sort of better "other world" and that this one is disposable.

I can't help but think (call me naive, I know), that if everyone tried to be a better person every day and did their little bit to make the world a better place that it would become a better place. Don't cut people off in traffic. Compliment a complete stranger (It can make their whole day!). Help out in soup kitchens. Rescue animals. Whatever floats your boat. Just DO something! Stop being selfish. Empathize.

Not everyone is as lucky as you.

As rich as you.

Grew up as well as you.

Was/is as loved as you were/are.

Pay your taxes!


Don't begrudge the school systems the money they need to improve/educate the children in your neighborhood even if you are never going to have children. The work those teachers do will have life-long effects. Helping others helps you, even if you don't realize it. Those same children will one day grow up and will probably be part of the service industry you rely on every day: waitresses, janitors, snow plow operators!, teachers, surgeons, nurses, cashiers, data entry personnel. If their choices are severely limited, where do you think they're going to turn to find a way out of their personal hell? Don't give me that "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" bullshit! Were you ever born a poor minority from the inner city whose parents were dead/absent/hopped up on drugs? Probably not.

If you're reading this we can probably assume a few things about you:
  1. You're probably reading this on your own computer
  2. In your own apartment/home
  3. Fed, clothed and gainfully employed (or have access to $ to pay bills)
  4. Learned to read from a teacher somewhere, somewhen.
Call it enlightened self-interest if you will, but taking care of the people around you, even the least of them that you may never meet benefits you and society in the long.

Oh and YES some people will take advantage of the system. Some people always do and always will, but that is no reason to punish everyone. Those people, we would say, are inherently bad.

But you, you have choices to make, every single day to be a better person and to make the world around you a better place. Choose something you love and expand on it. Feed wild birds. Plant a garden. Donate food to neighbors or shelters. Volunteer.

Everything you do, every act you make is inherently political and can be made for the greater good or solely for your own interest. Find the balance.

I know I'm trying to!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hatchet instructions

Had a weird phone conversation today with someone I used to work with and have determined this: I am not good on the phone. I do not "chit chat".

Now, if you're my friend and you want to talk - to really have a conversation - I'm all over it. I'm involved and active and interested. If you call up and chit chit, taking many minutes to expound upon the weather, I'm calling that chit chat and will probably itch to get off the phone. Unless the weather is crazy like tornadoes or mud slides or blizzards.

I'd also like to point out that my not being good on the phone extends to calling people on a regular basis. I don't even call my mother on a regular basis (and I love my mom), so if you're a friend of mine, you'll need to accept the fact that while I do love you, I won't be calling you any more frequently than I call my mom. That it doesn't mean that anything is wrong, or that I'm mad at you or anything like that. It just means I just don't call people regularly because of Item the First. I don't like to chit chat.

Related to the concept that Not Calling does not equal Does Not Care, is the concept of Greeting Cards. I don't send Greeting Cards. The Greeting Card Industry has spent a great deal of time and money on advertising to convince you that cards are necessary for every single event, significant or otherwise, that occurs in the human life. Hell, they made up Secretary's Day and massively cashed in on Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, etc.! To do what? Sell cards. So in general, I don't send or buy cards for people. Xmas cards I make on my own, so it doesn't involve third parties (other than Michael's). So for your birthday/anniversary/new job I won't remember to send you a card. I, personally, don't expect anyone to remember my birthday other than my mom and Eric, so that leaves you off the hook, too!

This is how it usually works: I will remember that your birthday is coming up a week ahead of time and will make a mental note to myself that I should call you. Then, the day before, I remember again. The day of your birthday, I've probably remembered that I should call you while I'm in the shower, but this tends to be an inappropriate time to call most people, so I'll wait until later. Next thing you know, the day has been spent on whatever it is that I do throughout it and all thoughts of your birthday (or other significant event) have been blown out of my brain (by tantrums, most likely). The end of the day rolls around and I'll suddenly remember that it's your special day while I'm brushing my teeth at 11:30 pm. This leads me to forehead smacking and recognizing that it's not a good time to call you, especially if you are in a different timezone than I am. This is why I call you the very next day for a sheepish and silly conversation.

And yes, I do have your birthday on my calendar!

On playing The I'm Fine Game: If you have a problem with me, you're going to have to come straight out and tell me. This is something I've learned from Eric and from reading Your Erroneous Zones. It's all about not accepting guilt from other people. Eric cracked me up when we were first dating, when he told me of ex-girlfriends that would tell him "I'm Fine", when clearly they were not and he would take them at face value. The idea was that if they were going to lie just so that they could feel emotionally wounded was not going to ruffle his feathers any. To this day, I don't play that game. If I have a problem with Eric, I may tell him "I'm mad at you.", but then I will think on it until I come to the full understanding of what exactly it is that I am mad about and then we'll talk about it. So if you're mad at me, you're going to have to spell it out, otherwise I'm not going to know or pursue you in a paranoid frenzy that I've wronged you somehow.

I mean, if you're mad at me and you can't verbalize why, how am I supposed to do any better?

On Collecting Stamps: I don't Collect Stamps, or try not to at any rate. What do I mean by this?

It was an expression I learned in a Project Management course when working for The Man (back when projects I managed involved more than just my immediate family) . Emotional stamp collecting was when, for example, someone would do something to irritate you and instead of broaching the subject and getting the issue out into the air and resolved, you'd let it slide. And be irritated. Several such things would occur, you would begin to seethe until one day, you'd finally have had enough and then you cash in your page (or even book!) of stamps (ala Green Stamps). Then: POW! You explode all over the person for a single final infraction which in no way deserved that level of anger. The other person is left confused, defensive and angry.

Finally, don't hit me. I don't care if you think you're being funny or cute or whatever. Don't hit me. I don't like it. I don't do it to you. You don't get to do it to me and then depend on my social skills to keep me from hitting you back. This is not how grown ups who respect one another treat each other with respect.

Capite? Buon.


Global Warming and Us

Here we are, "enjoying" our third blizzard in as many weeks. To say this is unusual for this area of Colorado is an understatement. The fact that my parents, up in Canada are having a warm, only slightly rainy winter is another example. Crested Butte, CO is currently experiencing less snow than Denver.


Climate change isn't something that's happening in some vague, far off time frame. It is happening right now, right here and wherever you are as well.

If you haven't already seen the movie An Inconvenient Truth, I highly recommend you do so. Then visit and see if there's anything that you can do to help stop Global Warming. It might be too late, or it might not. Which side do you want to choose? The side that tried or the side that denied?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A New Year! Yippee!

Starting off with a bang around here, we trundled the grumpy Caitlin off to school again. Toothbrush trauma, lost hair brush lament, too small sock complaints and hurried cereal eating aside, it was a fabulous start to the new year! Hooray!


Who am I kidding? I want my four year old back! Who is this child that argues constantly? This can't be normal development in a 5 year old girl, can it? I'm stuck with a teenager already?! AIEEEEE!

I'm dyin' ovah heah! I'm dyin'!

I'm going back to bed. Wake me when she's moved out, will you? Argh!

The full list goes something like this (because you might recognize it):
  1. Argues with absolutely everything you say.
    • Parental request: "Please go brush your teeth."
    • Teeth grinding response: "I don't want to!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

  2. Corrects you when you're off by the slightest amount.
    • Parental request: "Please clean up your bowl."
    • Teeth grinding response: "Plate!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

  3. Cannot handle teasing.
    • Parental comment: "You're so silly!"
    • Teeth grinding response: "I am not! Don't say that about me!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

  4. Is extremely literal.
    • Parental comment: "I want to fly like a bird!" Mad arm flapping ensues.
    • Teeth grinding response: "You can't! You're not a bird! You're not!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

  5. Insists she is right about everything.
    • Parental comment: Anything. Anything at all.
    • Teeth grinding response: "No it's not! It's [something else entirely]!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

  6. The Whining.
    • Parental request: Anything. Anything at all.
    • Teeth grinding response: "Whiiiiiiiine!"
    • Parental response: "Argh!"

And how is your day?
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