Friday, December 30, 2011

We're out for a walk. JP is asleep. We were just passed by one of those original Toyota hybrids, you know, the blue ones that look like the old Corollas. "Rory's here!" I thought. #toomuchgilmoregirls

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Death Comes to Pemberley

I haven't been to the movies in ages... I've been looking for those "mommy and me" dates at a local theater, but haven't had any success. Now that JP is a little older, maybe he could handle a movie (the Muppets might be fun for him). The last movie I watched was "Bridesmaids" on demand, at home. I think the last movie I saw (unfortunately) in the theater was "Avatar." Yikes.

There are a couple of movies I want to see right now - maybe I need to arrange for a babysitter so Patrick and I can have a date night. One of them is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I read those books, and even though after awhile I found myself sort of sickened and grossed out by the violence and repulsive events that took place in them (and disappointed by how badly they were either written or translated... no offense but Steig Larsson was not a great writer), I think what kept me reading was how obviously made for the movies they were. Even though I thought they were clunky and gross, I was able to see the story unfold... just like a movie.

When I found out that Daniel Craig had been cast in the movie, I thought - not who I imagined, but still, perfect (I can't even remember who I thought would be good, so they obviously chose the perfect actor).

Anyway, I was reading the NY Times review of the movie, and this paragraph jumped out at me.
It must be said that Mr. Fincher and the screenwriter, Steven Zaillian, manage to hold on to the vivid and passionate essence of the book while remaining true enough to its busy plot to prevent literal-minded readers from rioting. (There are a few significant changes, but these show only how arbitrary some of Larsson’s narrative contrivances were in the first place.)
Usually when I see a movie adapted from a beloved book, my first reaction is Oh, God, what are they going to change (read: ruin)? It's like casting skinny-ass Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett: wrong in every way. Her version of Eliza Bennett will never, ever satisfy me (Eliza has weight to her! No, I don't mean she's FAT, I mean, she's not some wispy girl in a dirty petticoat. She has stature, confidence, a sense of humor. I know Eliza Bennett almost as well as I know my own sister, and Keira Knightly, sweetie, YOU are no Eliza Bennett!). But everything I've seen about these movies indicates that they might've even made the story make more sense. Better, maybe. I'd like to find out.

Speaking of Jane Austen, there's a new book by P.D. James (who I've missed, somehow) called "Death Comes to Pemberley," and unlike the HORRIBLE "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" book (which I read, and hated, and no, it's not because I don't think anyone should mess with Jane Austen, it's just that I think if you're going to mess with Jane Austen, you should do it WELL), this one looks seriously good.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More

How is it that IT people take normal words and then assign foreign (bizarre!) concepts to them? No wonder I'm confused. I was just asked the following:

Q. Is your machine static?
A. Why would I know that?

Q. Do you know who manages your machine?
A. Again: why would I know that?

Q. Is it a brick?
A. If by "brick," do you mean is it a piece of pretty but useless technology, then no. Or if you mean, is it a rectangular piece of ceramic material, then also: no. Or, if you mean, a brick like the girl in the Ben Folds song "Brick" (and I'm drowning slowly...), then, maybe. Because this whole thing has become a pain in my butt.

Question: Who owns the destination host?

A: How the hell should I know?

(Actually, of course I know who owns the destination host. This is one of the easy questions.)

Oh, man! I am trapped in form hell! I have to fill out a form from our IT group (or, I should say, from some dude from some section with a name only another IT person could understand, in our IT group)... I have to fill out this form because of a new program we're implementing in January, which requires technical things to occur.

So this program was finally installed on my computer (and that in itself was interesting, but I will tell you that I did it myself, with minimal assistance from any IT person! Yay for me, right?), but of course we have now hit this snag, which someone (me? I don't think so!) should've known about before. The things I need to do could actually also be done by using a secure website, however, doing it that way is more complicated than doing it through the little program (program!) on my computer. Believe me, you do not want this process to be any more complicated than it already is. I want it to work. The way it is supposed to work. I want to start using the program (program!) before I forget all the stuff I was trained to do!

Only, in order for my computer to share information with their computers, I have to bypass... stuff. It requires our IT group to open some ports, man.

Apparently opening ports is akin to letting the wolves in, because they seem to be verrrrrrry reluctant to do it.

Anyway, the IT guy who was helping me from the organization who owns the program (see? I told you I know who that is) told me exactly what to ask for, which I did, in an email, however, our IT guy requires me to fill out his form, which asks for all the same information I already gave him, just... on this form. And I really don't know what the hell I am doing.

Listen to this (from the IT guy who was helping me from the organization who owns the Program):

"If you find this to be too difficult to do [is he making a joke?], you can always manually upload and download from the website using HTTPS, which is on port --- for xxx.xxx.xx.xxx (https://.....). You can also use a third party software to move data using FTP over SSH using port xx and we can install an SSH key if you have one to get into your account."

This is the EASY solution? Third party software? What?

Anyway, I just called our IT guy, who has been emailing me all morning ("all morning" = twice) but wouldn't you know it, he's away from his desk now, so I get to stew for a while and contemplate why IT and the rest of us can never seem to communicate. Look, I sometimes know what I'm doing when it comes to this tech type stuff, but this is way beyond my, as they say, "ken." It's like I asked for a bandaid and they're telling me I need to request major surgery on parts of my body I'd never heard of.

Anyway, I'd better go. I have to figure out what type of servers they are (where?) and if they're Windows or Linux. Why would I know that? Did I get a tour? This is frustrating. And what the hell does FQDN stand for?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Powered by... sugar

I drove most of the way to work behind a gray 1980s-era Toyota Corolla. I can't find a picture of it (in all honesty, I only looked for about 30 seconds) but it was some sort of hatchback, or maybe they made a wagon, I don't know (from behind, all cars with that squared off shape look hatchback-y). The thing was labeled "1.8 power." I don't know what that means (I'm sure it refers to the engine... capacity?) but "1.8 power" doesn't really sound that impressive. Would 2.0 power be better? 1.8... couldn't handle that extra .2, huh. Maybe then the thing would've shaken itself to pieces. I rode in a couple of those Corollas in the 80s, and I remember even then they were kind of... rattly.

I thought about that for quite awhile as we poked our way down the 710. Maybe I should've learned a trade and been an auto mechanic; then these things wouldn't be such mysteries to me. My brother is a bus mechanic, motorized bike builder, motorcycle afficionado; this stuff could be in my blood, who knows? I might've been a good auto mechanic...

I couldn't see the driver's face but from my vantage point (behind him; daydreamy), I convinced myself that he looked a bit like Mr. Zarna, the 10th grade Spanish teacher who never quite sold me on pronouncing V's like B's. I wonder what happened to that guy, with his weird combover and ratty black blazer? I'm sure giving me (one of the few actual Mexicans in his class; I think he was from Spain) a D was the highlight of his teaching career. I've talked about this before, but I just never got over the feeling that I sounded stupid when I spoke Spanish; that a lot of the time I was circling around backwards to describe another word, that my brain could only move in one direction. And my lack of accent made me a target, I think, too. It was kind of like when the flute choir tries to "swing," but less successful (because the flute choir practices and I never did). 

Anyway, after awhile, a baby blue Toyota Camry (with the A and the Y missing), probably late 1990s, cut in between us, and my little trip back in time was cut short. That particular model of car (all Camry's actually, and I say this as an owner of a 2004 Honda Accord, a very similar vehicle) inspires zero imagination, so I turned up my iPod and concentrated on getting to work more or less on time.  

Thankfully yesterday's oil tanker explosion on the 60 hasn't yet impacted my commute; I got to work faster than usual, even, and going home last night was pretty easy, too. I feel for all the people (like a few of my friends at work) who will be stuck. We'll have to wait and see how long it takes to get home tonight.

Anyway, when I got to work, one of my co-workers brought in pan dulce for everyone, so I just learned something more practical than anything we ever learned from Mr. Zarna: I was informed me that the type of pan dulce I usually enjoy is called concha (actually, I think I knew that). Also there's that one that looks like a pig, called puerquito. So cute!

I've never had "Pan de Muerto" - is that the kind you
give to the people you don't like?
So here I go, starting my day fueled by sugar and half a cherry Pepsi leftover from yesterday. I'm kind of 1.8 powered myself, now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Update on the ticket thing, with visual aids


 Original post, here. 


This ticket is not up to my exacting standards.
Note the hand cut edges--!
The hair, well, that's as good as it gets.
 
2008's tickets were classy, dignified.
Thought was given to color and spacing.






















I can't find any tickets for 2009. Was there a party? Did I make the tickets? Did that year just evaporate completely?

2010's tickets were fun and bold.
They kept changing the name of the event on me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why does this bug me so much?

For three years, I made the holiday party flyer and tickets (I'm not on the party committee, but my boss is, and she asked me to do it; I would pretty much do anything for this woman, who is retiring next year, a fact about which I do not want to think) for our holiday party. I was happy to do it, it was fun.

This year for whatever reason (I think maybe I'm too busy? Or maybe because I didn't go to last year's party, when I was 11 months pregnant and big as a house?) they didn't ask me to do it. That's fine. The flyer has already come out and that thing makes it look like our party is going to be held in Hell's Basement (it's all red flowing into orange, and very fireplace-y). BUT the woman who's doing it this year just asked me for my "template" for the tickets.

Um, there's no template - there are just the completed cards (and the drafts I made). From my own head. Using my own wits and power of invention, and Microsoft Word (you don't need a fancy program!). My own not-so-carefully acquired sense of design and style. My own nit-picky attention to detail! And you know what? It bugs me! They're not fancy tickets, but they're mine. And, if they weren't good enough, then why ask for my "template"?

So I sent her a PDF (let her figure the spacing, the fonts I used out herself, right? Get your own unoffensive clipart, baby!). I'm expecting, any minute, to get a call from her.

Look, I know that somewhere along the line, I probably signed some paper that said that anything I created on the job was the property of... the job. I get it. But if you want my style without me, well, tough cookies, my friend, tough cookies.

Next time I'm getting a copyright. I can do that, can't I?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Petty

My co-worker has started going on an extended bathroom break about 10 minutes before its time for me to pump. I just noticed this yesterday. She has already complained to my boss about an accommodation that was made for me because I was having a hard time getting to work at 7 (little babies want to eat when they want to eat, and traffic, like time, waits for no one). It's not really an accommodation, we just changed my schedule. But this person thinks that everyone is my boss's favorite, except her.

Anyway, I think she thinks that the time I spend pumping is "goofing off" time, and maybe it kind of is, thanks to my iPhone, but to me, it's also serious stuff, making tomorrow's breakfast, lunch and afternoon bottles for big baby Exton.

Speaking of pumping, my AM output continues to be amazing. Ex will have at least 5 ounces, possibly 6, for one feeding tomorrow. The afternoon output goes down a little, but I'm always amazed at my body's ability to make this "liquid gold"!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I love the New Yorker

Next April I'm planning on finally getting an iPad (it's a long story why I'm waiting for April; long, but not very interesting, which is why I'm not going to tell you), and one of the things I'm excited about is renewing my subscription to The New Yorker magazine.

I just love the writing.

Here's a wonderful example:
She crouched in front of the enclosure. “Hey, you!” she said, beckoning to one of the animals. She reached through the barbed wire and stroked one of its ears. Boggs opened the gate, and Bloomfield—wearing flip-flops, turned-up railroad pants, a black T-shirt, and aviator sunglasses—charged in. It was sweltering. The pigs stunk. Bloomfield stood in the middle of a cloud of dust. She could have been at a cocktail party.
This paragraph is from a profile on a woman named April Bloomfield, an English chef making a name for herself in New York. You can read the whole thing here.

(There was actually a paragraph I enjoyed even more but now I can't find it. Still, this one is great, isn't it? Makes me want a pair of aviator sunglasses. It also makes me want to go to New York and eat.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Update on my mom

For those of you who are interested, here's an update on my mom: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ketacasarez

Update on me

My eczema is totally out of control this year. I don't understand it. Not even when I was a kid, did I have it this bad. I'm totally itchy, everywhere. My skin is red and dry and, thanks to the itchiness, even bruised a little (especially on my legs). I thought maybe I had something called PUPPPS (it's some kind of crazy pregnancy-related skin issue that I didn't have while I was pregnant, but some people, at least according to the Internet, get it afterwards too), but I saw my doctor yesterday, and he's convinced it's "just" eczema. I've had little flare ups before but never this bad. It's affecting my sleep, and Patrick's too (the baby is just fine). My doctor gave me some good advice, and new stuff to try, so hopefully this will clear up soon, because it's actually making me depressed a little. It's hard to feel like myself when I'm all red and itchy (and tired).

Also... on Saturday, my mom was admitted to the hospital. Her last few rounds of chemotherapy have been really hard on her. She's been pretty sick. It's hard because she's been through so much. I keep telling her to "be strong," "fight it" and all that, but I think she's tired of my "pep talks." Her white blood cell count is really low, and she's weak because she's had a lot of diarrhea for a long time (over a week, I think), so she's in a protected room (I just mean, no sick people, lots of hand washing required) - the baby can't visit her, which sucks. I know she wants to see him. We stopped by on Sunday night but it was pretty late - we'd spent the day with my in-laws, and my mom was tired, so it was a short visit.

Anyway, that's going on. Last year, it was my dad in the hospital at Thanksgiving. Thankfully, he's doing a lot better. I hope my mom is able to come home soon too.

I don't have a big ending to this post, though I did want to mention that this morning, at around 4:30, the baby woke me up. I fed him a little, and then tried to get him to go back to sleep. He was stretching and tossing and turning, and I couldn't tell what he needed to back to sleep. I picked him up and held him but he was wiggly, so I let him lie down again. He was on my right side, and I was facing him. He climbed up onto my stomach and draped himself over me for a few minutes, and I thought, huh, that's an interesting sleeping position. I let him be. Then he slid down and wiggled his way under my arm - he was pretty much in the same position he's in when I feed him in bed, but he wasn't hungry. He put his little arm around me and snuggled me very, very tightly, and then he fell asleep.

Let me just say that getting out of bed for work was no fun at all this morning.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Note to self:

Must avoid becoming this type of mom.

OK, so see, "being non-judgemental" was already on my to-do list. Score! This mom is messed up.

Hmmm. I wonder what the "Facebook" of JP's time will be? And will there be jetpacks for everyone by then?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful

It's almost Thanksgiving! I am, as usual, really looking forward to it. I think I've mentioned that it's my favorite holiday? Why, you ask?

Dude. Because of the food, of course. This year will be extra fun, because it's JP's first Thanksgiving, and I cannot wait to let the little guy test drive some of my favorite foods.

I'm a little confused about letting him have mashed potatoes, though. Since of course we make them with lots of butter and milk, and he's still under the 12 month mark, I'm not sure about letting him have some. Maybe I'll just reserve a little for him when they start getting made, without the milk. Or maybe I'll bring along some breastmilk and make him his own. Is that weird? I think it's OK for him to have a little butter, no? I mean, let the guy live a little, right? I'm also thinking about how to get him to try a little turkey. Maybe I'll do the whole leg thing (where you clear off most of the big pieces of meat and let baby just hold it and chomp on it like a caveman). My dad will get a kick of that.

Speaking of food and living a little - I went to Weight Watchers this week as usual, and the topic was (of course) surviving the holidays. I've been doing pretty good on WW so far, but I'm telling you, I'm not going to count points on Thanksgiving. I want to eat, and I want to eat everything my brother and I (we're doing all the cooking) make. This year he agreed to stuff the turkey with my favorite stuffing recipe, and come on. What's better than stuffing? I ask you!

Anyway, I wanted to talk about being thankful. I have a friend on FB (okay, okay, I have many friends on FB; but one particular friend!...) and every day she's been posting what she's thankful for. I could do a daily list, but for now I'm going to stick with this one:

I am very thankful for:
  1. My sweet, happy, healthy, wiggly, adorable little baby. He is truly the light of my life.
  2. My husband, who has always been a good guy, but as a father, has blossomed as a man. Can men blossom? I don't know, but he is a wonderful daddy to our sweet, happy... (see above), and the best partner and friend I've ever had. He makes me smile, laugh, and put away his laundry. Wait, that last one wasn't supposed to be on there...
  3. My job. As much as I complain about the commute, the hours, and my insane/amusing/annoying co-workers, I know how lucky I am to not only have a job at all, but one that provides me with a retirement plan, benefits, and opportunities. I don't get to be as creative as I would like, I'm away from my baby more than I like, I have to dress up once in awhile, but I know that I've kind of got it made.
  4. My family. My mom's still undergoing chemotherapy and has some issues, but she is fighting cancer and enjoying her grandson. My dad's health seems to have evened out a little, and the rest of my family is healthy and around. I am so happy that JP will get to know his grandmas and my dad, his grandfather. I only wish Patrick's dad was here to see my little family. I suspect that JP's aunts and uncles are going to spoil him rotten come Christmas time. My comment on this is, pace yourselves. You have many more Christmases to come!
  5. My home, which we were finally able to put a little money into. The outside "remodel" is complete, and actually looks like a place I am proud of, that I feel reflects our taste and looks nice. Someday we'll get the inside to look less like your (slightly crazy) grandma's house (and one day I'll have a new bathroom...) but for now, it's a fine place to live.
  6. My friends. You know who you are. Thank you for being there for me.
  7. My neighbors. I am so lucky to live somewhere I feel safe, around people I trust and enjoy. Except for the pothead kids: you, not so much.
Anyway, it's not a very imaginative list, but there you go.

I hope that your Thanksgiving (a week away!) is full of warm memories and sweet family.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trying to understand the world, and today, mostly failing

Last night I couldn't sleep. While I was laying there in bed, even though the story is over a week old, I finally read a few articles about the sexual molestation scandal at Penn State. I knew it was horrible, but some of the details are really making me sick, primarily, that the main guy, Jerry Sandusky, isn't in jail. It is beyond disgusting what he did, and equally beyond disgusting that no one did anything. I posted some pretty hot (in terms of my anger, and language) stuff on Facebook yesterday, and I apologize to anyone who hasn't heard me (or read me) using the F word before (if you were shocked by it).

I wrote, "Why the hell isn't that POS ["piece of shit"] Sandusky guy in jail? I hate this story."

I also said that I "wish all kinds of bad shit on that man and anyone else who did nothing to help those little boys." I said that I hope someone finds him and "kicks his ass. A hundred times. A thousand times." I am not a violent person. But little kids were violated while a bunch of stupid, weak-ass men stood around, apparently out of fear for their jobs that are just about a GAME, and did nothing about it. To be in thrall to an institution that's basically, I guess, about making money for the school (win games, get money) and to allow that or some kind of misguided loyalty to prevent you from doing the right thing: it's so shameful.

It is unfathomable to me that a bunch of adults knew that little kids were being victimized -- knew it, saw it!, talked about it amongst themselves -- and didn't do anything. Somebody, when I asked how a stupid football program could have so much power in a college, said, "well, they don't have anything else." That's insane. It's maniacal. It's so wrong. It's crazy to me that a game is so important, or that the people involved could get away with such despicable actions because of some made up status they held (I say made up because it's just football! It's a stupid game! Seriously, I don't care how important to you football is: IT'S JUST FOOTBALL).

My subsequent updates on FB ran along the lines of, "they should de-fund the football program and give the money to the orchestra, the math club." They could build a health clinic, a playground, a fucking parking lot! I think I also said that the team should be pelted with rotten fruit next time they take the field. I know that the kids on the team today had nothing to do with what happened, and my rotten fruit comment wasn't really serious, but the students who rioted when that coach guy* was fired, I mean, come on! That they didn't fire McQueary as well (the one who saw that slimebag Sandusky hurting a little boy) is totally baffling to me.

It just makes me so sad. And angry. I just don't get it. How people can be so blind to suffering, so heartless? The New York Times has posted (at least) two articles that draw a comparison to the Catholic Church's sex scandal, and it's a nice hypothesis, I guess. But football, and salvation don't compare. It's equally bad either way, in any environment. And if the people involved had been working toward some less-lofty goal (say, fried chicken distribution!) would it make a difference? Would their righteousness be less ridiculous? Or more? "We are putting out the best fried chicken in the WORLD! It blinded us to the right thing! It shielded us from moral duty!" It doesn't matter. It's a tragedy wherever it happens, and it's a tragedy when people turn a blind eye.

It makes me feel so helpless. Such a huge story (the real story, what happened to those boys, or even who they were) is being ignored. I don't mean, more details, because that feels like more victimization, I mean, how this affected them, who they are now. I'm almost afraid to look for that story because I don't want to hear the rest of it anymore.



*I didn't know Joe Paterno's name before this. I wish I still didn't.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where I've been

So it's been a while since I've posted anything on a regular basis. Boy, gone are the days of the daily posts, huh.

Here's a quick rundown, in no particular order:
  • The little guy had his nine month birthday a couple of weeks ago. NINE MONTHS. He's now been out as long as he was in. Time moves too darn fast.
  • He's getting his belly off the floor when he crawls now. He just started doing that out of the blue on Sunday afternoon. Craziness.
  • He's pulling himself up in his crib, pack and play, and on ANYTHING ELSE HE CAN FIND. That includes the couch, the dining table, the dining table chairs, his high chair, the bookshelves, his toy box, the headboard of the bed, the bathtub... this kid wants desperately to be vertical. I am not emotionally prepared to be the mother of a walking baby. I'm just not. Where'd my little tiny baby go?
  • We had some landscaping done last week. We hired a landscape architect named Andy De Young, who Patrick found on Angie's List. He was awesome. So nice, 100% professional and incredibly knowledgeable. He's an artist. He came to our house and talked to us for awhile, then he went into the yard armed with some graph paper, ordinary black pens, and his imagination, and came up with something gorgeous, simple, and totally us. And easy to maintain! Then he recommended another guy to come do all the plants for us, and yesterday they finished. Our plain, boring, squared off yards are now beautifully and professionally planted, and in 3 months when everything fills in will look even more pretty. I can't wait. Andy also designated a space behind the garage for a "vegetable garden." I think I'll wait until JP is big enough to help me out back there and then I can be all, "Here's a watermelon! The BABY grew it!" The design also included space for a bench next to the driveway (my request). I wanted someplace to put my shopping bags when I come back from the store. And to sit and watch the neighborhood with the baby. We got the bench last night. I love it. I can't wait to play out in the backyard with the baby.
  • My mom started chemo again a few months ago and had a bad reaction. She got pretty sick. So now her oncologist is recommending a new treatment... and we'll just have to wait and see how that goes. She's pretty tired of feeling bad. I hope things go better.
  • My stupid allergies continue to plague me. All the times I complained about sneezing and having watery eyes? If I could've only known that one day I would have red, itchy skin, too! I would be grateful for just sneezing. I'm now taking Allegra twice a day, but my doctor can't give me anything more powerful until I finish breastfeeding. It sucks! I hate being red and itchy!
  • At JP's 9 month checkup, his pediatrician seemed surprised that I'm still breastfeeding. And since then, several people (the lady at the lactation center where I went to pick up a new nursing bra, various friends and family) have expressed surprise, too. I'm so proud I made it this long! It's not easy, but then: it's totally doable. Does that make sense? I love doing it... and I'm not ready to stop... but one day I would love my body to belong to me again, too. I'm not in a rush; I'm just telling you.
Oh, and this happened:

My new short hair!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just an average Thursday.

I'm having a kind of fun, busy day at work.

I was printing something and ran out of paper. I stood up, said to no one in particular, "I need some paper," walked over to the... refrigerator, opened the door, and stood there, wondering where the paper was.

I think I'm just all excited because... I'm going to flute choir tonight!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Live blogging my Teleflora Customer Service Experience

This is in regards to yesterday's post about my boss's flower arrangement, ordered through Teleflora, which looked nothing like the flowers we ordered.

I placed this call at about 11:13, and I've been on hold now for about 5 minutes. I was told (by the recorded message) that my call would be answered within 2-3 minutes.

They're playing very nice piano music in the background, but this dude keeps cutting in and telling me about their "wonderful products" and "exceptional quality." Not this time, buddy.

11:19... Still on hold.

11:20... Someone picked up. Told her my story. Back on hold.

11:22... She said that because I emailed them, someone from the email department had already refunded me the money as I requested and that I should receive an email from them. Since I haven't received any email, she said she would do it, and she said it takes 2-3 days for the refund to go through. She also said that the florist who prepared my order mixed up the cards. So someone got our pretty arrangment, and we got the shitty one. OK, I can see that happening. It's not very professional, but mistakes happen.

11:27... My co-workers seem satisfied with the outcome. My boss was always happy with the flowers (she likes those colors, and loves daisies), but I was just really disappointed that they weren't as lovely as she is.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Warning: Teleflora SUCKS

I ordered flowers (at the suggestion of another co-worker) from Teleflora for my boss for Bosses Day. I am very, very disappointed in how that transaction has played out.

From me, to them, via email:
The flowers my boss received do not look anything like what I ordered, nor are they comparable or worth what I paid. They are not even the same color scheme. I believe I should get a refund of at least $30 on this order. My boss said they were "pretty" and they were but I am incredibly disappointed. I will NEVER EVER order from you again. I would call but I am at work and I don't want my boss to hear me complaining about her gift. Someone should contact me via email or by phone soon to fix this situation.
What I ordered:
This arrangement is called "Zen Artistry."





















What I received:
This arrangement is not Zen in any way.





















Yes, they have a disclaimer when you order that if the exact arrangment isn't available they'll send something else but this is a joke. I think someone ripped these off a table from the local IHOP. I'm so mad - what a rip off. The other arrangement was not cheap, and this orange and yellow monstrosity (it was much smaller than it appears in this photo) a) isn't anything I ever would've have chosen and b) is not the work of a skilled florist. I could've put that bunch of Home Depot flowers together, for much, much less money.

Sprout Organic Baby Food by Tyler Florence

Patrick picked this food up for JP the other day. He'd read about it, and the reviews were amazing - people were saying stuff about how the food was so good, they would eat the leftovers if their baby couldn't finish it.

We tried it, and yep, JP was into it. He liked it. He liked it a lot. I liked it too (my only complaint is that the package is a little hard to handle neatly). On Saturday, I was about halfway through a container of Summer Squash, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Parmesan (which he was loving), when my brain suddenly turned on. Parmesan. Parmesan. Parmesan is cheese. Cheese from cow's milk. Cow's milk was on that list of foods I was given by a nutrition that shouldn't be given to babies before they turn 12 months old.

So. I took the food away and substituted something else (and let me tell you, JP was not happy about that), and I called the toll-free number on the package.

Not to complain: I should've checked the label before feeding it to him, so this one was on me (bad mommy!) but to question. I told them how much my baby enjoys the food but that I was concerned about the presence of a cow's milk product in a food marketed to infants, who, I thought, were not supposed to have cow's milk.

I didn't expect to, but this morning I received a call back from a woman named Sherry from the company. She explained to me that because the cow's milk in the cheese has been cooked, that the hard-to-digest enzymes have been eliminated, and that it's OK to give it to babies at this stage.

That phone call accomplished two things:

  1. It relieved my mind. I thought I'd totally messed up by giving him cheese.
  2. It made me want to tell everybody to go pick up some Sprout Organic Baby Food for your baby. They'll love it, and you will too.

http://www.sproutbabyfood.com/

From an interview in the Guadian with Haruki Murakami:

"...I have some feeling that I have to live, I have to live very strong. Because I don't want to spend years of my life… it should be the very purpose, life. Because I survived, I have obligations to give fully..."
I like this quote very much. My interpretation is that he's saying that the meaning of life is to live. And that living requires us to be strong. Or maybe I'm reading into it, because my mom's oncologist, while telling her that he was going to be adjusting her treatment (chemotherapy kicked her butt this time), also told her to "live her life." We all keep saying that, jokingly, to her (because he's not a very touchy-feely guy, it felt a little weird coming from him), but I like that advice.

I wonder if Siri would be able to come up with that one? I also wondered if Steve Jobs included any "easter eggs" (I'm sure there's a cooler, more tech-savvy name for these by now; I'm no Apple junkie) in any of the products he was working on before he died?

You can read the whole interview/article with Murakami if you click on the title of this post.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The maintenance required light came on last night on our way home from visiting my mom and dad in Culver City; it might (hopefully) just be that I missed my oil change 1,000 miles ago. I'd planned on taking it back to EZ Lube in CC but I forgot to do it yesterday! Anyway, JP was awake at 6 AM so I thought we'd try going to the dealer early. Guess who fell asleep in the car on the way over?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can Apple save the U.S. Post Office?

Will Apple be able to save the U.S. Post Office with their Cards app? I don't know, but this looks pretty damn cool. I heard that some people are having trouble downloading the new IOS5 so maybe I'll try to upgrade in the middle of the night when I'm up with the baby... 

I can't wait to send photos to my mom and dad, or Pat's mom, of the baby! They'll love it!*

*I wrote these words before I noticed them on the Apple website, I SWEAR.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Better late than never: Best of 2010

When I decided it was time to finally sit down and figure out which of these posts constituted the "best of" 2010, a little voice inside my head said, "Isn't it kind of obnoxious to label your own writing as good?" I told that little voice, "True, but if I don't do it, who will?"

Since the little voice has (thankfully) chosen to remain silent on that point, here they are, only 10 months late, the best posts of 2010 from Maturity is a bitter disappointment and I Can't Stand [Meeting] You. I'll try to not include any of the posts where I recount for your amusement/annoyance the contents of my stupid dreams. Enjoy.

1. "He's gotta ticket to ride"
Maybe if Karen Carpenter had focused on a life of crime instead of whatever she was seeing in the mirror, God's big band in the sky might be missing (another) drummer.

2. "Dancing with the stars, or whoever"
I took a lecture-y tone with Little Miss Bristol Palin, and advised her to "see a Broadway show." Man I love Dancing with the Stars. It brings out the school-marm in me.

3. "Ay caramba, dude!"
Come with me back in time to a moment before I had the baby, when apparently my biggest worry was... my home's lack of storage space.

3A. "Stuff. Stuff!"
If you found item no. 3 interesting, here's a variation on the same theme. We still have no storage but the little baby we got instead doesn't seem to mind. Yet.

4. "Yesterday (no, not the Paul McCartney tune"
Another post where I wrote about the baby, and a nice big jumble of other, unrelated topics, including classical music, my (not very inspiring) choice of reading materials, and the hipsters who staff the Apple store (any Apple store). Also, is "hipster" still the word to use when describing people who are (mostly) younger than you who have interesting hair? And what's up with those weird beards? I saw another one just the other day on some kid walking out of one of the many churches in my neighborhood. Let me be 100% crystal clear: that kind of beard (this website calls it a "chin curtain") looks good on NOBODY.

5. "We know where we're going"
A short post (and I don't get why I used that title, either, except that I guess I was listening to the Talking Heads), pre-baby, where I spent a delicious 10 hours in bed, something that right now sounds so decadent and wonderful that I can't even conceive of it. Oh, and kitty picture! And now this "summary" is longer than the actual post. Included here because the idea of all that sleep has me a little giddy.

6. Untitled
On June 4th, Patrick's band Suffering Luna played a gig at a gross place called the Smell. I "live blogged" it (i.e., I sent text messages from my iPhone to my blog), and some of them were pretty funny. Unfortunately, as I sent each message one at a time and I didn't take the time to post them all in one entry with a title (like a normal person), I'm having a hard time linking to them, now. Does any of that make sense? Anyway, the next day, I wrote a post that explained what had happened. If you click here and then go back to "older posts" you will see what I did, there. Go ahead, try it.

7. "I have an inexplicable need to write titles that are longer than they need to be"
By writing a lot of seemingly random words, it appears that I can control LA Radio. Or, LA Radio is way more predictable than it needs to be. That's probably it, huh. Also: slow dancing - how can I make that happen?

8. "High finance in action"*
I took all my change to my local Ralph's and poured it into the Coinstar machine. Comedy ensued. Oh, not really, but it's kind of a funny post. I won't lie: "kind of" but not "very".

*Using that title makes it sound as if I was high. I was not. I swear.

The following posts are from my Stewart Copeland blog, which, if you think I've been neglecting this blog, must be seeming like it's, wait, I started that sentence without planning the ending and now I'm screwed, aren't I. Anyway, here are the best posts from 2010 in my "I Can't Stand [Meeting] You" blog, which is mostly weird-ass letters to, who else? Stewart Copeland. Read it, and tell me I'm weird. I love that.

9. "Dear Stewart"
[Note: almost all the entries in the Stewart Copeland blog are titled "Dear Stewart," but I was careful to link the right posts to the words "Dear Stewart". Don't think about that too hard, your brain will literally explode.]

I wrote a lot of words to a famous man who probably doesn't remember meeting me, about my mom's chemotherapy, People magazine, the theatre I work/ed at, and an invitation come see the show. It's actually (I think) a sweet little letter.

10. "Dear Stewart"
This is just like a letter you might write, say, from camp or something. And I called world-renowned drummer/composer/filmmaker all-around awesome guy Stewart Copeland "man" like he was my buddy, somebody I ditched 5th period world history with or something. Hey, man! What's up?

11. "Dear Stewart and Dufmanno"
Dufmanno is one of my favorite readers, of which there are probably three. She inspired a pretty funny post, if I do say so myself. Which I do. Say so.

12. "Dear Sting"
I took a time out from all the letters to Stewart to write to his band mate, Sting, where I lectured him about his lack of "fun" and "creativity," but the joke's on me, 'cause that guy has like a home in every country. He can take his lack of fun to the bank and they'll hand over bags of money, every single time.

12A. Another letter to Sting
Apparently Sting bothers me. Read it, here.

13. "Dear Stewart"
There aren't many words in this letter, but the ones that are there are sweet. I like when I, in a move exactly opposite to my normal operating procedure, use fewer words than usual. It leaves a lot unsaid (obviously) and context (and content) get lost but then I get to go back almost a year later and read some random thing I wrote like this and I wonder where my head was at. Not exactly knowing is kind of cool sometimes.

So, that's all. Enjoy, or don't: it's up to you.

Standing up

I guess I haven't been doing a good job of keeping this thing updated whenever the baby does something new or posting photos... I think I'm going to blame Facebook for taking away some of my focus.

Instead of posting the following there, though, I thought about it (all weekend) and decided to wait until today to use this space for the following exciting news:

Lo and behold, my little baby boy can PULL HIMSELF UP.

On Friday, I put him in his crib so that I could go to the bathroom. This is what we (mostly) use the crib for, since he sleeps with us (or at bedtime, I put him down to sleep in his crib for an hour or two so I can watch TV or read or whatever, then I bring him to bed with me). Sometimes he'll take a nap in there, too. He has a few toys (mostly stuffed animals) to play with and his room and his crib are closer to the bathroom than the Pack & Play, which is out in the living room. Generally he's happy enough in there for a few minutes. He'll wait for you longer in the Pack & Play, which is in the (livelier) living room and has more interesting toys in it.

Anyway, this time I heard him fussing in his room while I was in the bathroom, so I hurried up to get out there and see what he was doing.

What he was doing was standing up. In his crib. Holding onto the side.

My little crawler (still has his tummy on the ground, army-man style) has decided that he wants to stand.

After that, it was all he wanted to do. I held him up while we played on the floor (he loves the Busy Zoo my friend Missy gave us, and standing up to play with it is a million times more fun that sitting down!). I held him up while I sat on the couch and he apparently got a kick out of just standing there, because there literally was nothing else going on except his own slight bouncing motion. Oh, OK, I might've been singing to him, too ("Daddy's gonna take us to the zooooo tomorrow, zoooo tomorrow, zooo tomorrow, daddy's gonna take us to the zooooo tomorrow..."). We've been listening to Pandora on the TV (very cool thing), set to a children's station, and for the most part, I actually really enjoy a lot of the children's music, which is mostly silly. I do silly quite well, it seems. The channel we chose also plays Disney songs (I wanna walk like you, talk like you...!) and oldies (JP loves when Mommy sings with "La Bamba." I love making up the words. Does anybody know the words to La Bamba?). It's fun. He's started giggling a little when something funny happens in the room (as opposed to just when I'm kissing or tickling him), and man, that little laugh is so precious. He takes a lot of serious photos (and my friends in the swimming class usually just see him big-eyed and a little awestruck) but my baby can laugh.

On Thursday, I spoke to his Daycare teacher, and she warned me that he would be getting more adventurous (they have a little ball pit in his room, and apparently he launched himself out of it). She was right. (She also said that "he picks up things very quickly," which of course made me very proud of my little man.)

I'm trying not to be an overly protective, nervous mom (Patrick lets him have too much water in the bathtub! But when I say something, he says, YOU take him swimming in a 30,000 gallon pool! My response ["OK, but we're not talking about what I do!"] didn't go over well, so now I just stay in the living room and let them play). I think that's going to have to be a learned behavior, because my natural inclinations appear to include fretting. Anyway, I'm working on it, I'm working on it.

My mom thinks he'll walk by the time he's 1.
That freaks me out a little!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Win Friends, influence people, and annoy them as little as possible (I'm looking at you, Tiger Woods!).

I love this (below, from a NY Times review of the e-book version of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," a book I've never read but now almost want to - in the original; a hard copy version please, thank you!):
The following sentence, which appears on Page 80, is so inept that it may actually be an ancient curse and to read it more than three times aloud is to summon the cannibal undead: “Today’s biggest enemy of lasting influence is the sector of both personal and corporate musing that concerns itself with the art of creating impressions without consulting the science of need ascertainment.”
You can read the whole review (which also includes a discussion of the updated "Emily Post's Etiquette") here. Personally, when I'm looking for advice, I turn to "Dear Prudence," "Ask Amy" (not as annoying in print as she is on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell me") and Carolyn Hax, and for etiquette, the Social Q's section in the New York Times. Emily Post has never really done it for me. Oh, and I also like the Ethicist in the New York Times, though I did sort of prefer Randy Cohen to the anonymous female writer they have now.

This message will not only post on my blog, but will be posted to Twitter, and therefore, to Facebook. Hope it doesn't annoy you too much! :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trapped on the freeway.

At least I'm not alone. There's like, a million other cars sitting here, going nowhere, doing exactly the same thing I am. Oh, okay, maybe nobody else is listening to Xanadu. 
I refused to believe it. My heart wants what it wants,
and that includes an open freeway.

Monday, October 3, 2011

..."Husky Anderson Cooper..."

Saw a guy, like a husky Anderson Cooper, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, no shoes, riding a skateboard, walking his dog. I wish my Monday was so carefree.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More thoughts on parking lots than the topic deserves

I want some designer to put the "park" in parking lot, to make them a safer place for pedestrians.

More trees, walkways, better lighting.

Why does everyone act like that's impossible, or insane, or too much to ask? This weekend I walked with the baby to my Weight Watcher's meeting. It's 1.5 miles from my house, and a pretty nice walk, most of the way (except for the Intersection of Death, which we'll discuss another time). We mostly walked through residential streets, and then we had to walk through the K-Mart/Lowe's parking lot. There's also a Denny's, Verizon store, Starbucks, and Carl's Jr. in that parking lot. It's a huge, gigantic parking lot, with enough spaces for 10 more stores. There will never, ever, ever be a day when every single one of those spaces is filled with a car; there aren't that many people in the entire city of Long Beach who want to shop at K-Mart (I have never seen more than 10 people at once in there).

Not only are there a ton of extra spaces, the spaces they do have are all laid out weird. There are strange little cul de sacs and short lanes and no stop signs and spaces that aren't near any store - it makes no sense.

There's lots of room. They could have sidewalks, more trees, better lighting, bigger spaces for biggeer cars (I do not believe in compact spaces! Not because I don't believe in compact cars, but because there's always going to be some jerk who parks his Suburban in a compact spot and throws the whole thing off for everybody. If all spaces were the same size, everybody could park anywhere, regardless of the size of their vehicle).

So I had to push the stroller through the parking lot, basically "in the street" because there's no walkway for pedestrians. Sure, nobody was really there at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, but I didn't exactly feel safe. Nobody ever seems to think about what happens once you park your car, so pedestrians aren't even considered when parking lots are designed. But I think, if a store has a well-designed lot, and clearly takes my safety into consideration, then wouldn't I be more willing to shop there? Yes.

Anyway, I realize that there are more important problems in the world, and that probably parking lot design isn't #1 on anybody's list, but it seems like such a simple thing. It would be so easy. Someone should advocate for this. Maybe that someone will be me.

Maybe. I'll think about it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review for mommies: Citadel Outlets

Yesterday I packed up the baby and set off for the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, California. Unlike other outlets in southern California, this one is easy to get to and not too far from pretty much anywhere in Los Angeles.

Before we left, I checked out their website to see if they had any information about accommodations for nursing mothers. Sure, I could've just headed over there and plopped on a bench outside the shops and fed the baby... but I don't really nurse in public like that anymore. For one thing, JP is much too wiggly - for my own comfort I prefer to cover up when out in the open, and he will not tolerate the cover anymore. I can pull my shirt around to cover myself but getting started is the moment of truth. And, he's also taken to stopping and starting several times during one feeding - it's too revealing.

So I clicked on the "contact us" link and sent an email asking if they had a "family or mother's area" for nursing a baby. I was very surprised: I got a response from someone in about an hour, stating that they do have such an area, called the Mother's Lounge.

I think this might be a new feature, because when I got there, a woman was photographing it. She was very polite and didn't bother me, so I just sat down and did what I needed to do. The room is right inside the ladies' restroom, and beautifully lit and decorated. There are several couches upholstered in a very soft fabric, a couple of chairs, and a little play area for older kids. There's nice lighting, and pretty pictures on the wall, and mirrors, and soft fabrics everywhere.
Before I fed the baby, we stopped off in one of the "family" restrooms so I could change his diaper. Again, beautifully done - big, clean room for just us (there are six of them, I think); we didn't have to share. There's one regular toilet, and a little one for the kiddies. Next to the sink is a changing table covered with a nice fuzzy fabric. My only criticism is that they installed the paper towel dispenser (automatic) right over the changing pad, right at baby's level. On the one hand, this gave JP something to do instead of squirming while I changed his diaper, on the other hand, wow that's a lot of wasted paper towels (I used most of the ones he caused to dispense when I washed my hands later). And my other criticism: they have two outlets, also at baby level, in the changing area. Why couldn't these two things have been placed higher up, away from inquisitive little hands? Otherwise, the family restroom worked out great for us.

So after feeding JP and using the restroom, we kept shopping. It's been awhile since I've been to the Citadel, and the Gap and Banana Republic used to be the only stores I cared about. This time I went to the Gap (but not Banana... I'm too fat still to want to buy anything from there anytime soon) and spent most of my time in the baby section (got him the CUTEST long-sleeved onesie with an old boom box on it... Patrick will love it), among other things. I did also get a pair of pants and a top for me, but this shopping trip was really about the baby. We received so many clothes for him as gifts but now we're starting to run out. And he needs warmer shirts and another little zip up jacket, and pants... I had fun shopping for him.

The Citadel has a good selection of baby stores: we went to Carter's, Gymboree, Osh Kosh B'Gosh... it was a fun day. We had lunch at Panda Express (but after I got my food there I wished I had tried the Mediterranean restaurant they have, called Lamajoon), and then I went back to the Mother's Lounge to feed JP again before the ride home. This time there was a woman feeding her 11-day old baby (so tiny!), and a couple of ladies just resting their feet.

We got a lot of stuff and had a fun day. To be honest, I think I'd rather go to the Citadel from now on, rather than the regular mall.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Someone has a case of the Mondays and it ain't me.

I send out all the wellness-related emails to my department. When we're running a program (like "Biggest Loser") that the whole county is participating in, those are sent out by me, too. There are approximately 2-3 emails a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but never more than 4. I also write the bi-monthly "Wellness Newsletter," which includes a quiz, with prizes to the winners. This is in addition to any prizes that are available to participants in the programs run by our healthcare providers. So not only are we giving good information related to wellness, there are opportunities to win prizes (the prizes that I give out are modest, like pens, or lunch boxes. I have some cool Kaiser-donated baseball caps, too. The other prizes are better, like Subway gift cards, bicycles, and even an iPad). Where's the bad in all this? There isn't any.

This morning I got the following message in my in-box.

To: Irene P.
From:
Subject: sick


Sick and tired of all the e mails when tring to do my job

With the blessing of my supervisor, I sent the following response:
 
Good morning, [Mr/Ms Anti-Proofreading],


Which emails are you referring to? If you are referring to Wellness Program emails, which are sent on my behalf via ------, please be aware that all messages are sent with the knowledge of the Department’s Wellness Manager, Xxx Xxxxx. These messages are sent out in accordance with the County’s wellness programs. Participation in wellness programs is voluntary. You are always free to delete any messages you consider excessive; however, you should understand that if you do so, you will be missing out on important information related to your health and wellness, as well as opportunities to win prizes.

 If you have any other questions or comments regarding the wellness programs, you or your supervisor may contact Xxx Xxxxx at (213) 837-5309.

My supervisor thought my response was too nice; then I asked if I could Cc the person's Division Manager, the HR Manager (my supervisor's boss), and our Division Manager (my supervisor's boss's boss). Who's too nice now?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stay on target!

So, hey, I'd been talking about this with some friends of mine (don't worry, you shall remain nameless) for awhile now, and on Sunday, I got up and took the baby with me to... a Weight Watchers meeting.

I first did WW about 10 years ago, when I got my first County job. After I don't know how many years (I usually say "15" but how can that be accurate? Am I that old?) of working in retail, after one year having a desk job, I gained 20 pounds. All that running around (and fooling around, god retail was fun) at the bookstores (and parking a mile from work) had apparently kept me trim, in spite of the crazy eating habits I had in my late teens and early 20s (when I worked at Crown Books in the 90s, I used to have for lunch, depending on which city I was in: Backstop Pizza, a diet coke and Reese's peanut butter cups, or a grilled cheese sandwich from Ships if I was in Culver City; a hot dog from Malibu Mutt, a giant iced blended mocha from Coffee Bean, or - if I was really lucky, Patrick would bring me a sandwich from Bay Cities when I was in Malibu. When I worked at Rizzoli in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, my meals were even worse! Let's just say ice cream played heavily in my decision-making). When I hit 30 and started working in an office, where people love to eat, I was helpless. My bosses at the time were both stress-inducing and lovers of food, and we would go to lunch, where we usually had incredibly fattening food, all the time. Now my office is full of incredibly generous people who love to bring food to share (donuts, pastries, etc.). So yeah, hello 20 pounds!

So 10 years ago, I realized that I had gained so I sucked it up and joined Weight Watchers. I needed help making healthier decisions, and I had a couple of friends (again: they-who-shall-not-be-named!) doing it, so it was fun and easier than I thought. Losing 20 pounds was pretty easy back then, though over time I did gain about half of it back.

Then I had a baby, and here I am, back at that highest number ever, not too happy about it. Maybe I could be more complacent about it except for the weekly swimming lessons I've been taking with JP. Getting into a swimsuit for the first time did not make me a happy camper (buying two pretty new swimsuits in a bigger size helped, though). I knew I had to do something, but for six months I put it off because I'm breastfeeding, and yes, I used that as an excuse even though it's really not. "I'm eating for the baby!" stopped sounding legitimate quite some time ago. So, after learning that a couple of other friends were doing it again, I decided it was time for me too.

I started Sunday, so this is my second day at work, tracking. They've changed the program a little but it's pretty simple. Yesterday my co-workers had a going away party for a guy who is transferring to another department, and though the food looked good (and I could've looked up the points plus amounts of all the items they had), I had planned out my lunch ahead of time and decided I'd better stick with it. My Subway sandwich, with just a little tweaking, works just fine for me (it makes it so much easier that WW has made all fruits and vegetables "0" points foods!). Later they had cheesecake, which was tempting until I actually saw it (a flat little cheesecake with tired looking fruit on top? No thanks!).

Tomorrow will be challenging, because it's someone's birthday, and we're going to a Mexican restaurant I've never been to. I was looking at the menu and my WW Pocket guide a few minutes ago, trying to figure out what I will eat. It all looks yummy, but I think maybe a couple chicken tacos and some black beans might work out, or maybe veggie fajitas and a chicken quesadilla... I don't know yet. I have options, though, so that feels good.
Is it weird that when I read the words "stay on target,"
I hear the voice of that dude from Star Wars?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swimming

This is a long story. I suggest you skim.

Swimming!

Last Saturday, I suited JP up in his swim diaper and Hawiaan-looking Izod swim trunks (bought on eBay!), squeezed myself into my bathing suit, and signed us up for an 8-week baby and me swimming class. Patrick has a friend at work who told us about it. She has a 15 month old baby and they've already done it once.

It was a weird morning - we had to get out of the house by 8 a.m. to register for the class, and while we were getting up and getting dressed, there was quite a bit of thunder. While walking to the car it started to rain, then it poured, and on the way to the pool, there was lightning and thunder too. It's only a 15 minute drive to the pool (during which the baby was fascinated by all the noises outside), and by the time we got there, the rain had stopped.

I put JP in the Ergo Baby carrier and we waited in line with all the other moms, there to sign their kids up for swim lessons or Jr Lifeguards or whatever. There was one woman in front of me with her mom, and a little girl. Man, that grandma was harsh. The woman and her mom were Hispanic, and the little girl, probably around 6 or 7, had sort of frizzy hair, pulled back into a ponytail. The hair around her face was kind of falling out of the elastic band, and it was a little messy. She looked like every other 6 year old, though, and it wasn't a big deal. Also, wasn't she about to go swimming? So who cares what her hair looked like? Grandma kept messing with her, even though the little girl asked her to leave her hair alone. Then, the little girl was standing by a big rack they had in the lobby, with all these local newspapers and magazines in it. I guess she put her foot on the bottom of it, and Grandma told her, "Don't climb on there! That thing could fall on you and cut your head open."

Okay, maybe it could. A cut-open head would be a very bad thing, and avoiding it by whatever means possible seems like a good idea to me, too. Fine. But the warning didn't suit the crime. I didn't see any indication that the little girl had plans on climbing on the rack. She was just placing her foot on the lowest rung. I don't know these people, maybe the little girl is accident prone... or maybe that grandma was just mean. I kept watching that lady and the little girl, and the way the mom didn't really do or say anything, even though the little girl got quieter and quieter (she had been talking animatedly to her mom about swimming when I first saw them) the longer we waited.

Anyway, when they finally opened the office, and it was our turn to sign up, I still hadn't seen Patrick's friend, but there were still 7 spots left in the class. The line was pretty short, but slow. When I was leaving, I saw her at the end of the line with her son, B. I didn't know for sure if it was her but she somehow recognized me. We made plans to meet up later.

I took JP home for a quick feeding (the class was supposed to start at 11, and by the time we registered, it was 9:15), and then at 10:30 we headed back. I had no idea how it was going to work, with the clothes and changing, and afterwards, getting wet and everything. I took the baby into the ladies' locker room, and set him down, surrounded by my diaper bag and a big towel, on the counter where the girls probably dry their hair, and took off the romper I'd dressed him in over his trunks. He wasn't as wiggly as he usually is (he was more interested in looking at himself in the mirror), and then I kept one hand on him and took off my own clothes, which were over my swimsuit. I need to bring a bigger bag next time, because cramming all that stuff in the diaper bag meant I couldn't reach anything I wanted easily. It wasn't ideal - but other than bringing him in in his car seat, there's no good way to do it that I could see.

Then I ignored the "shower before entering pool" sign and went out to the pool.

It's a giant, indoor pool. In fact, there might even be 2: I have no idea. Patrick's friend was already out there, with her little boy. She is skinnier than I am, and he is bigger than JP. The pool's website says the water is between 80-85 degrees. Maybe it is, but it sure felt colder. We got used to it fairly quickly, though.

The girl teaching the class was the same girl who registered us - she has a fruity name (literally fruity, I'm not being insulting). At the registration office, I thought she was kind of unprofessional but in the pool she was sweet. She was very young (in her early 20s), but she had a daughter of her own, maybe 3 or 4 years old, who was in the pool with her and who demonstrated for us. There were about 9 or 10 of us, some moms, some dads. JP wasn't the littlest - there was a little baby girl with her daddy who was probably 6 months. There was a two year old little girl who could totally swim - the mom kept throwing her in the water and she would splash across the pool. Patrick's friend and her baby kept close by - I was clearly nervous, I guess. B really seemed to like the water: he was very vocal, and splashed a lot.

We got started just by walking around the pool with our babies, letting them splash and touch the water. I had JP in a pretty tight grip. He was cool - he was looking around very intently (it was noisy in there! Besides us, there was a group of Jr Lifeguards in the other pool). Not super excited, but not freaked out, either. He went along with it all and didn't cry. I showed him how to kick his legs and he splashed the water a little. I kept his face high and he (of course!) never went under. After awhile, the teacher had us all get in a circle in the water, and we sang a couple of songs (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and The Wheels on the Bus), and then she had us place the babies sitting on the edge of the pool, and we sang another little song (I forget the words) and on 1, 2, 3, we jumped them in the water. Again, he didn't get too excited. I was probably annoying the other moms and dads because I sounded excited: "Kick your legs, JP! Whee!!" Still, it was fun. It's only a half hour class but I'm so out of shape and fat, that when we got out, my legs were tired. So I guess it's good exercise for me, too.

The Jr Lifeguards got out around the same time we did. Patrick's friend was faster than I was getting into the changing room, and she was able to rinse off at a shower before the Jr Lifeguards. I was too slow, and I guess they all decided to wash their hair. I didn't want to wait around forever, so I got JP changed out of his wet trunks and swim diaper in the same place I'd gotten him ready. I hadn't even brought dry clothes (bra, panties) for myself, so I just pulled my clothes on over my wet bathing suit. My brother had come to watch the swimming, so I met him outside the pool. He followed us home, and watched TV while I rinsed JP and myself off in the shower. Then we went to lunch!

We go back again this Saturday. I ordered a bigger bathing suit for myself on Saturday night at Lands End (actually, I ordered two - one is a "tankini." It's my first 2 piece in about 35 years, so we'll see how that works out. It's all cute and ruffly: not me at all!). I had orignally planned on wearing a pair of shorts over my bathing suit but the pool rules don't allow any non-swim clothing. I ended up breaking the rules anyway by wearing a sports bra under my suit - I didn't want to flash anybody. I hope the new suits (or just one of them at least) arrive soon, and that they work better. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I hope JP gets used to it and acts like he's having more fun next time. We'll see.

Here's a screen shot from the video Dan took:

Poor quality photo hides my large ass, right?



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Me and my annoying sign

The funky little break room that I use for pumping at work (NOT a designated lactation room... some departments have them; my department actually does have one... but not at this work location. I can't drive 27 miles round trip to use it four times a day) is also used by other employees for naps and whatnot (crap, I hate the word "whatnot," I can't believe I used it here!). When I can't get in this room, I can sometimes use a little private lunchroom in the office next door, but I prefer the funky break room (funky break! Hit it!) because it's next to the bathroom and I can wash my hands more easily. Also, the lock on the door to the lunch room is wonky, and it worries me that somebody might try to open the door ("Hey! What's wrong with this door... Oops! Hello there!"), even though I have permission to go in there, and the guy's secretary sees me every time I come around, so you'd think she would prevent anyone from barging in on me... but you never know, do you.

The funky break room has a sign on the door that you can flip back and forth between "occupied" and "unoccupied." Clearly this sign is there so that people on the outside can know if there's somebody IN THERE. Using it seems like common sense, right? Well, lately people have been not flipping the sign to "occupied," but I don't feel bad about that - if I walk in on your nap because you were too lazy/distracted/tired to flip the sign, hey, that's your own fault, sorry. HOWEVER, if the sign is flipped to "occupied" AND THERE'S NOBODY IN THERE, then I start to get annoyed, especially when this happens more than once a day. It's a big ol' waste of time.

It means that I have been knocking on the door when people are actually in there, which I'm sure is annoying to them... but if everybody just used the sign correctly there would be no question, right? It seems so obvious. And tedious.

I put this sign up this morning (on the inside of the room). I haven't been in there since; I'll keep you posted if it's been defaced or if anyone has written anything snarky on it. I'm not sure my co-workers are up to it, to be honest with you. If they can't be bothered to flip a little sign, whipping out a pen to write something in response seems like asking too much.

Or else I will knock the door down on yo ass!
Gray hairs, puffy red face included for free. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The incredible case of the mystery ingredient: ragweed.

After I had Exton and started breastfeeding him, the first six weeks or so were pretty brutal. We got lots of help from the Kaiser lactation consultants but I struggled. Somebody recently said to me, "Dude, it seems like you've had a lot of difficulty." Well, yeah. That comment made me think about what I'm doing, and how and why I'm doing it, but I'm not going to talk about that today. The point is, it was hard but I continued. It was important to me so I didn't give up.
This has not exactly been my approach to most things in the past. Still, I never (obviously) had a baby before, either, so I have a feeling lots of changes like this will occur in the future. Anyway, at the very beginning, it was recommended to me by the lactation consultant I saw at Kaiser that I start taking two supplements: one called More Milk Special Blend, and fenugreek. More Milk Special Blend is just what it says - a formulation of different herbs that are meant to stimulate milk production. Fenugreek is a single herb (it's also in More Milk Special Blend).

At around the six or seven week point, I was pretty stressed. I had a lot of pain and just couldn't get the baby to latch right when it was just me and him (at the Kaiser lactation office, he did it like a pro, but at home we were a mess). He wasn't scrawny and his pediatrician was OK with his weight but I was worried he wasn't getting enough to eat. And oh man, the pain. I kept reading "if it hurts something isn't right" but I didn't know what else I was supposed to do about it. I watched videos and called the La Leche League. I used the nipple cream*. I read my Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book. I emailed Dr. Newman (and "he" responded!). I kept trying. At the advice of a friend, I met with a private lactation consultant (her name was Ellen Steinberg, and she is amazing. I highly recommend her) and she got me all straightened out... but then right after meeting with her, there was the episode of the Stupid Abscess, and though we were now latching perfectly, I had another thing to deal with. The Stupid Abscess made me angry and I'm so glad that's over.

Anyway, all that to say is, through all of this, like a good girl, I continued taking fenugreek and More Milk Special Blend.

For the last three weeks or so, I've had a pretty bad rash all over my body. It's been sort of coming and going, but then on Saturday, it decided to hit my face. It's a red rash kind of like a faint sunburn, but itchy, and slightly raised. Even my eyebrows were itchy. After avoiding it (even though I was told it was safe to take), on Saturday night I finally took a Benadryl so I could get some sleep - so Patrick could get some sleep (I kept asking him to rub my back).

Then I started thinking about this rash, and how I've actually had problems with my skin for longer than 3 weeks: this has been ongoing since Ex's birth. I've just been dealing with it because I've had skin issues (eczema) and allergies my whole life -  at first it didn't feel much different from that. But the face thing bothered me. It felt elevated. There was something else going on other than my usual allergies, or post-partum hormone weirdness.

What were the things that changed? Well, I had a baby. Other than that... OH - what about these herbal supplements? It seems so obvious, doesn't it? Well, what can I say? I'm slow.

Yesterday morning I called up the company that I get my More Milk Special Blend from (Motherlove), and to my surprise, a real person answered ("Hello, Motherlove!"). I wasn't expecting to get someone on the phone that quickly, and that one little thing impressed me so much. I talked to Judith, and she listened to me about my rash. Then we started talking about the ingredients in More Milk Special Blend. Well, one of them is blessed thistle. She identified blessed thistle as a member of the ragweed family.

Well, hey, you know what? I'm allergic to ragweed. And here I've been ingesting it, four times a day, for close to 7 months. No wonder I have a rash. No wonder I have the worst rash I've ever had!**

Judith and I decided that it would be OK for me to discontinue the More Milk Special Blend. I'm going to just take Goat's Rue (one of the ingredients in More Milk Special Blend; "the magic ingredient," as I've heard it called). I'm going to continue taking fenugreek, too. I was worried about quitting both because I have read that if you take these supplements and then stop suddenly, you can see a decrease in milk supply, and I really don't want to risk that.

I had a previously scheduled appointment with the dermatologist (to follow up on another issue I've been having), and I discussed with her my blessed thistle theory. She thought it sounded plausible, and agreed that stopping the More Milk Special Blend would probably clear up my rash in a couple days. God, I hope so.

* People with eczema are advised not to use lanolin products on the skin, as this can cause an outbreak. I just found this out yesterday from my dermatologist.

** The rash doesn't look as bad as you might think it does, from my description. But being itchy and red is no fun, especially when it's your face. Believe me. It kind of sucks. I mean, I'm already feeling fat, my hair is jacked up because the hair that fell out when Ex was three months old is now growing in, and all that baby hair around my hairline makes me look like a little monkey with a mullet; it's not a nice feeling. I can't really do anything about my hair (though I could about feeling fat!) so if I can help my skin out, I'll do it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

¡Despierta!

I'm so tired my co-workers had to show me how to operate the hot water knob on the water cooler for my oatmeal this morning.

And apparently I will read any story in the LA Times accompanied by a photograph of a kitty.

Example 1
Example 2

Or giant rodents. ¡├ôrale, capybara!*

I'm no beaver, fool!
Here's a quote from the story (which I actually read last week but have still been thinking about; is that weird? No, that's not weird. Seriously. Is it weird?):
The rodents — which can grow to the size of a large dog — aren't dangerous, "just weird-looking," [Fish and Game spokesman Andrew] Hughan said.
Weird looking! Speak for yourself, Andy!

*I never say "Órale" in real life, but I think I might try using it today. It seems to go perfectly with "capybara." "Capybara" makes me want to speak Spanish! (My parents never taught me any slang!)