kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
I am so glad this whole one-day-off-at-a-time thing is nearly over.

It's been kinda cool to have a random day off, mid-week, to do interesting things.

But OMG it is not easy to squeeze into one day all the grocery shopping, meal prep, work clothes laundry, etc.

Yesterday I:
Went grocery shopping
Took KB to the playground
Organized a surprise party
Did laundry
Attended a surprise party
Helped Crystal move while KB napped
Made dinner, etc.
Helped Crystal move after getting KB down for the night
Actually hung out with my wife for an hour
Slept for...6.5 hours. And now back to work. Sigh.

On Thursday, I get to see Bridget on my day off! That will be cool. And I am working such a long day today (10 a.m. to 9 p.m. or so) that I'll get to leave really early Friday, which is good because Kelsea and Brii will be arriving around 2 p.m.

And then I will have Sunday AND Monday off. Ahhhh.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Remember how, like six weeks ago, I was really worried because Katie Beth wasn't talking much?

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Yesterday she brought Sandy one of her favorite books, a truly terrible book called "Moo Bah La la la."

Sandy: "The cow says -"
KB: Moooooo.
Sandy: !!! "The sheep says..."
KB: Baaaah
Sandy: "Three singing piggies say..."
KB, with great delight: LA LA LA LA LA LA!!!

She knows the whole book. The dogs say rrrrrr (ruff), the bigger dogs say bah wah wah (bow wow wow), the horse says neigh.

She can't say quack but she's got the rest down. (She refuses to say oink, by the way - she supports the singing piggies in their insistence to say la la la instead of oink.)

She's also started singing "Deck The Halls." (We have a bunch of books of Christmas carols.)
She brings us the book and sings faaaa la la la la la la la la la laaaaaa completely off key and time.

And today she learned how to slide down a slide.

It's like she's suddenly developing in leaps and bounds!

Tomorrow I have the day off, and we're driving to Lysa's house to play all day. Hopefully it won't rain and we can go to the playground.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
KB is nearly 16 months old now. It's funny to look back and think I was worried because she was only saying 4 words. I have now officially lost count of how many words she can say, and she keeps surprising me with new words.
(I was faithfully keeping count until maybe a week ago...then it was just like "oh and this? and this?)
I think actually she's been talking all along...we just couldn't understand her. For example, she's been saying "Ah DA!" for months. We used to say it was her favorite sound. Seriously. Since like nine months old. She would sing it while doing things she loved: Ah da, ah da, ah da. We would talk back to her: ah da? ah da!

Now she says it a leeetle more clearly....and it's Ah DOOOO!


"I do."

Well, isn't that a surprise. As she grabs the spoon/toy/diaper/whatever out of my hands...

This weekend I learned that she could say "bath." (Well, "baf.") We walk into the hotel, me pushing a trolley stacked with stuff, her riding in the carrier. She sees the pool and starts shouting. Baf! Baf! Baf! Pointing. Twisting her body. We get into the hotel room, which has a sliding glass door overlooking the pool, and she runs over to it, banging on the glass. Now she's chanting. Baf! Baf! Baf! I ignore her, trying to unpack the trolley so I can get the pack and play set up for her nap. So she comes over to me, shouting baf!

"Yes, I know. After nap."

She drags me into the bathroom, points to the tub. "Baf!"

Me: "Yes, I know what you meant, you just can't have it yet."


Me: Yeah. I thought you'd feel that way.

What other words does she know and just hasn't said yet?

The "bath" was a huge hit. She would've been happy to stay in it every waking second. We swam once Friday, twice Saturday and once Sunday. We stayed in Friday until she was shivering so hard her mouth was quivering. She still screamed like she was being tortured when I carried her out.

It was literally all she wanted to do. Whenever we were not swimming, eating or sleeping, she would go on "walks" with people and take them directly to the pool. Over and over. And then point at it and try to entreat them to take her swimming.

We brought her monkey (a back pack stuffed animal with a long tail that her chaperone can hold on to) and she loved it. She loves her monkey and sleeps with him (the tail detaches) and she insists on having him buckled on to her. It makes it much easier to keep her from walking off while you stop to talk to someone for a minute. (She still walks off but at least you know when the tail starts to leave your hand.)

The convention was somewhat exhausting...nothing was childproof, not even the hotel room (filled with cupcakes in boxes). So I had to watch her every single second she was awake. I couldn't even leave her while she was in her high chair, because the only chair in the room was too wide for the straps and I was afraid if she moved the whole high chair would fall off. So I couldn't, say, put her in the chair with some Cheerios and then go mix up her yogurt and applesauce or cut up some fruit.

Needless to say it was tiring. But she had a great time. She was NOT a fan of sleeping and one night it took us more than TWO HOURS to get her to fall asleep for the night. I'm telling you, when we got home and I was able to put her right down, it was such a relief.

Hopefully it will get easier.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Today for the first time, KB called Sandy "ma"!!!
Sandy had a headache, so I was trying to get KB changed and dressed and get ready for work and all while Sandy buried herself under pillows. KB finally abandoned me, walked over to Sandy and patted the blankets, calling, "Ma? Ma? Ma!" Very clearly as a word, not babbling. Later, when we were downstairs after breakfast, she walked into the kitchen, pointed upstairs and said, "Ma!"

She's also started saying milk ("mih") and making the sound for kissing ("mwah!") and she might be trying to say dragon. (There's a dragon attached to her pacifier. She called it drah this morning.)

So at this point, in order, we have:
all done

Not a lot. And she keeps bringing us the baby signs book and asking us to teach her more signs. It's like she's saying, "This talking is hard! Teach me the other way of communicating!"
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Sandy has spent the last week going in when KB wakes up. We first explained to her that Mommy's milk has to sleep and won't see her in the night. (Lest you think otherwise, she cried and totally indicated she understood exactly what we were saying.)

And she immediately stopped waking up 3 times a night and is waking just once. And she went from being awake for 90 minutes with me to going back to sleep in less than 30 minutes with her. But she is insisting on a bottle...less and less each night though. Hopefully we will get her back to sleeping through the night soon!

She did sleep through the night Saturday and Sunday, but then she got her MMR vaccine Monday and had a lot of trouble getting to sleep Monday night and woke up at 6 a.m. (and Sandy got her back to sleep). Then she slept until 9:30 a.m.!

So hopefully the vaccine was to blame and she'll sleep through the night soon.

On her talking...Dr. Yan was concerned but said "I don't want to be harsh and say she's delayed." He notes that her comprehension is great, she can follow two-step commands, she can identify like everything on earth, she makes eye contact, she tries to communicate. Apparently if her comprehension was not good, that would be a worrying reason for her not talking. But since it is, he says she just needs more time to figure out how to make the right sounds.

So he wants to wait and see if she can say 10 words -- however poorly -- in three months when she's 18 months old. He said 5 words at 15 months is within the normal variation for children (the very edge of it, with the variation being 5 to 20 words).

Right now she can say up, all done (but usually signs it instead because it's just incomprehensible since she often babbles ah duh), cuh (cat) guh (dog), app-mm (apple). But three of those words came in the last couple weeks, so maybe she's on the brink.

She's definitely trying. She hands me silverware when we unload the dishwasher and yesterday I asked her to say each word. She tried to say "knife." (nie nie nie). I tried to get her to say bath when she wanted a bath. KB: bah bah bah...(pointing at bathtub) bah! Last night I gave her a little bit of ice cream and she signed more more more so I said more? Can you say more? She signed it. I waved the spoon enticingly and said, SAY more. KB: ma!

But they don't count until she says them regularly on her own, without copying us.

Other than that, she's great. Still in the 93rd percentile for height. She's 32.25 inches now. (up from 30.5 three months ago) and 21 pounds, which is 1 lb 4 ounces up and exactly on the weight gain line she's supposed to be on, for pretty much the first time. Dr. Yan was thrilled.

She helped me with all the garbage last night (by following me and watching me and carrying a cardboard box to the recycling). She tried to scoop the kitty litter when she saw me do it. (I probably should not have let her see me do that.) She even carried grandma's recycling bin back to her room from the back porch after I dumped it. She stood at the glass door and watched me happily as I carried out each bag. She was seriously delighted to be "helping." It was so much fun.

She empties the entire dishwasher now, too. Even the plates. I put her in the chair so she can reach the upper level. And she usually helps me clean up the whole playroom every night. I hand her toys and tell her which bin to put them in and she does it. Occasionally now I can even say, "Put all those balls in the ball bin" and she'll put them all in the right bin. Usually we have to do it one at a time. "Put that ball in the ball bin...Put that other ball in the ball bin...look! another ball! Where does that go?"

The books, now...the books she just cannot put away. Because she invariably sees one (or three) that she needs to read, right now. I have this problem too so I am sympathetic.

In other news...Sandy made two new awesome show cakes and people LOVED them. Robyn came with us to learn the ropes because she offered to help Sandy with an evening show this spring. Thank goodness she was there, because we got slammed! Sandy ended up with 14 scheduled consultations (though, sadly, somehow someone got through with a wedding date Sandy can't do -- usually we catch those and tell them we're booked, but somehow this one got through, so really only 13 consultations since Sandy had to cancel that one). And then another person emailed her, so that's 14 total.

This show is the biggest of the year for Sandy and she usually gets 7-10 consultations. So this was huge. I'm sure it was a reaction to the new cakes.

There was another cake artist there but she did demo cakes with silk flowers. Just silk flowers, draped along one side. It was really uninspiring. And her samples tasted terrible...dry cake, very crisco-y frosting. We agreed two of the samples had good buttercream, but OMG in comparison to Sandy? No contest.

Sadly, Sandy can't do a show coming up this month that is an actual tasting contest. I want her to do it sooooo badly! She would win, I'm sure she would. But it's the same weekend as TotalCon. So she'd have to leave Saturday night, go home and bake all night, then run the show alone. She decided in the end it wasn't worth it. I am so bummed.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Somehow I've let KB get into a habit of nursing every single freaking time she wakes up in the night. It started when she was sick, and somehow it's just stuck.

So I spent the last three nights trying to lull her to sleep without nursing. This was a total disaster and we have both been awake for upwards of 3 hours in the middle of the night each night.

So starting tonight, Sandy is going to go in when KB wakes up, and give her bottles if she insists she's hungry.

I know she's not actually hungry.

But on the breastfeeding forum, it's suggested as a technique to break the habit of nursing to sleep.

She'll be 15 months old tomorrow! Way too old for this. So she's gonna get bottles, and the mommies on the forum say their kids gave up after about 2 days and started going back to sleep on their own if they weren't going to get to nurse.

I have to admit, I have made this worse by feeling guilty...I see her so little some days, I feel like the least I can do is be there when she wants me at night.

But we both need to sleep. Today I have had four hours and 45 minutes of sleep and I have to work for 13 hours. Plus driving an hour each way.

On the plus side, this means I can work a shorter day later in the week. But right now I feel so tired that literally it feels tiring to type this.

Yes. Even my fingers are tired.

She is getting to be more and more fun and her vocabulary is suddenly expanding. Three weeks ago, all she could say was up. Now she can say dog (guh - sometimes duh guh), apple (app-mm) and cat (cuh). And, of course, all done (her second word) but it's still nearly impossible to tell the difference between ah dun and ah dah (which is what she says all the time).

So that's five words, plus a couple signs (all done, more, hungry).

Jury is still out on whether she says mama. She can point to us if we ask her where mam is and where mommy is, and she knows which of us is which. But she doesn't say mommy and she doesn't usually say mama. But if we aren't paying attention to her at dinner (you know, talking to each other, WHAT ARE WE THINKING) and don't notice when ah dah becomes ah DUN, suddenly she will start shrieking mamamamamamamamama! Is she calling us? Unknown. She also does not do this at any positive time, such as: "Hello mama! So nice to see you!" So I don't think we're counting it yet.

I've been kind of freaked out about her talking, because I thought kids were supposed to say 15 words by 15 months. But then I read other things that said 5 words or signs (so, by that standard, she's at 7). And then I read another thing that said if kids were not talking much, but are using signs fluidly and clearly for specific communication, they consider that to be an indication that the child is naturally a "late talker" rather than developmentally delayed. Certainly her sign language is very clear and specific. The tongue tie is apparently also known for delaying speech. But we got that fixed at six months! Seems unlikely it could cause problems now, right?

And of course I'm still worried about the elevated lead reading from last fall. It was brief and not very high but still...

Anyhow, I was worried but in the last three weeks she's picked up three words so clearly we're on the upswing. I'm going to ask her pediatrician when we see him for her 15-month appointment on Monday. But if nothing else, nobody can say she hasn't been totally immersed in constant language. And I do mean constant. :)

And goodness knows she KNOWS lots of words. I couldn't believe it, when she started identifying things as I asked her about them in her books.

It's funny the things she gets wrong, though. She refuses to believe that the donkey is not a goat. She has interpretive dance arguments with me about it. She makes it very clear that donkey is NOT right. Sometimes she'll even say guh guh guh to try to correct me.

And now she is demanding interesting things...like climbing into the bathtub to demand a bath. She can't quite get into the tub alone but she tries, and puts her toys in there, and does interpretive dances to show us what she wants. If I put her in there but I don't turn the water on, she points to it and babbles urgently at me. She even knows what turns the water on. She tries to turn the faucets on herself. Luckily she's not strong enough. Soon I will have to keep the bathroom door closed to keep her from going in there, climbing in and turning on the water!
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
I was reminded yesterday of a story from one of Sandy's cake students. When they were looking at daycares for their infant daughter (who is now about 14, my god!) their deciding question was, "And how do you read to the babies?" The daycare they chose was the only one that didn't say something along the lines of, "They're babies! We don't read to babies!"

The winning daycare explained that every day, each baby got one-on-one reading time, with the same book as all the other babies, so really they heard the book many times a day.

That sounded pretty good to us before we had a baby. Now - I asked Sandy yesterday - could you imagine Katie Beth getting only ONE book a day?!

Now, at 14 months I suppose she's not quite a baby anymore, but she was turning pages before she was 2 months old so I know books have been big all along. We generally read her 10 books a day - all her choice -- and usually one of those books is read over, and over, and over. Every book has to be read at least twice, and sometimes 10 times or more, until we hide it when she's not looking.

Obviously every baby is different. Her favorite things are books and going outside. (And, of course, putting anything in and out, and dancing to music.) Actually dancing to music might edge out going outside right now. It's cold outside so she has to bundle up, which takes more than five seconds and therefore is not to be borne. Dancing happens every morning while Momma gets dressed. And does not require any special clothes. And I'm sure every daycare does reading and dancing and going outside and playing. But I'm glad KB gets to bring her mommies books every day and get them read to her, rather than waiting for the one book of the day!

Which also reminds me - when A was in preschool, at one of the freakin' best preschools in the area - possibly THE best, but maybe Montessori has it beat - they also read one book a day. I know this because each week, the star of the week got to have her special person do the daily reading, and I was instructed to bring just one book. I negotiated for two because one was very short. Later in the day they did do stuff related to writing and learning letters, so there was literacy education, but not BOOKS.

What do I know? I'm not a teacher and A sure did learn her letters and sounds and all. But one book a day seems crazy to me.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
CPS rang our doorbell yesterday.
Child Protective Services.
There on an investigation for a "possible abuse or neglect complaint."
The guy introduced himself, asked who we were, seemed confused when we said we weren't foster parents, and then looked at KB and said he was here about "another foster child, not her."

We were like, oh she is OURS, not a foster child.

So, what was the complaint?

That Sandy had taken a picture of A naked in A's bedroom.

We had to laugh. Why would anyone want a photo of a 4-year-old? So in any case, we told him neither of us took naked photos of A or E. And the guy told us that even if we had, it wouldn't be wrong.

"Parents take naked photos of their children all the time," he said.

Really? Of 4-year-olds? I mean, MAYBE, if KB was doing something super cute, and happened to be naked at age 4...or was in the bath...but we don't take naked photos of her even now. There's a sort of naked-baby cuteness that goes away. Or maybe that's just us.

Anyway, the investigator went on to say that he didn't even know why they took the report, because there's no alleged wrongdoing. And that A would be interviewed at DSS and then he would be back, in a few weeks.

And then he left.

Sandy and I looked at each other and said: Worst decision of our LIVES.

As a side note - remember when the kids were disclosing all sorts of terrible physical abuse from their family? And we faithfully reported it all, and DSS never interviewed the kids about it? We asked our foster agency about that and the homefinder said in an aggravated tone, "Oh, they don't do interviews for PAST abuse! Only for NEW abuse! I know we covered that in class!" And I said no, in class you said they are interviewed whenever they disclose anything, no matter when it happened. I took notes.

So apparently I was right. Sometimes, anyway.

We have no idea where this is coming from, but I called our foster agency and it turns out A & E are not with that agency anymore. We'd gotten calls recently from a Saratoga County CVS saying that A's prescriptions were ready, so it's pretty clear they've moved to a new foster home. Or at least she has - I'm not sure if E is out of the psychiatric facility.

So Sandy's theory is the new foster parents are brand new, like us, and reporting anything they hear, like we did.

My theory is that the kids are about to be released for adoption -- they've been in foster care more than 2 years now -- and their grandmother is trying to make trouble, or at least stop us from adopting A, since she knows we once wanted to.

Or, possibly, the grandmother was hoping CPS would show up on this spurious complaint and see something terrible that would get KB taken away. She probably can't conceive of a family that could take care of a child well enough that, on a surprise visit, the child would be supervised and cared-for.

Who knows. Of course, our foster agency hasn't called us back.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
W had a fun New Year's Eve, though not a fun Dec. 30. KB stayed up til midnight, screaming if we did anything but let her play. Rocking, singing, nursing, feeding, leaving her in the crib...epic meltdowns. I even let her cry for 15 minutes but she was just completely losing it so I gave up on that.

She finally fell asleep around midnight and woke up screaming twice in the night. So by morning we were exhausted and when she napped at last on NYE, we napped too. This led to us not getting ready for the party until she woke up, and so we ended up arriving late to the party we were co-hosting...oh well.

Anyhow KB had a lovely evening playing with the other kids and refused to sleep. REFUSED. So she stayed up til midnight which seems crazy, but I do have to say she was not cranky or misbehaving...even when she got so tired at about 12:30 a.m. that she started crawling. She was like the energizer bunny. Must...keep...moving...

She watched Wayne & Scott's dance and she was stunned by it. Mouth open the whole time. Wayne pretended to be a little kid waking up on Christmas to find a huge present, which he opened to reveal...Scott the dancing puppy! KB was like, OMG, there was a person in the box! And now they're dancing! WOW!

She got a bunch of presents too - books and clothes. She loved the books. Jane made her a book with a zipper, and a bear that comes out of a sleeping bag, and two racing cars that actually move...it's really cool.

But I am lame because we didn't get home and in bed til 1:45 a.m. and KB woke up three times and I had to leave early for work. Ugh. Tired whine moan.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Two hours left to kill today. NO ONE IS CALLING ME BACK.

Come on, people, it's not even New Year's Eve yet. It's Dec. 30!

I have tomorrow off, which I'm totally psyched about. Sadly, Sandy's big Christmas present is STILL delayed. Sigh. I guess the best I can hope for now is that it arrives tomorrow. But I don't think it will.

I need to decide my resolutions for the new year.

Some ideas...

Resolution #1: Set up a system of ebaying old baby things. We have set aside a baby of sentimental/second baby items. We do not need the rest. We need to not only sell the rest, but set up a system whereby the money is funneled to her college savings and/or buying stuff for when we aren't gifted her entire wardrobe! (I should add here that we have bags of clothes through 3T, I think. Maybe not "whole wardrobe" bags but still. BAGS.)

Resolution #2: Actually hold a garage sale so that next winter I can actually park in my garage and not spend a freaking hour scraping ice off my car. ARGH.

Resolution #3: Fix up the sailboat and sell it to buy kayaks.

Sandy says these sound more like "to-dos" and not resolutions. I say she can label her resolutions any way she likes, and so can I. :)
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Alice is going through what I can only describe as a spell of irrationality right now...it's terrible to watch and very difficult to manage.

A week ago she said she'd lost half her things in the move - because she told us to store all her kitchen stuff since she never cooks anymore. So we brought up all her boxes and she lovingly spent hours putting it all in her desk. This made her very happy and we were like, wow! Maybe this will help!

When she moved in, she was so ill that I think she didn't have the strength to look through the boxes. They were piled on her bed and everywhere for ages because she kept intending to look through them. I remember unpacking them for her (hard to forget moving someone in at 37 weeks pregnant) and she was finally like, just take these boxes away. So we had four or five boxes in the basement, which apparently is half her stuff.

Anyhow, she was happy, so yay, right? Except then last night she was mad because I told her dinner was ready. She was on the phone and she felt me telling her was the equivalent of forcing her to get off the phone and thus she was being treated like a little kid and she hates me and I'm always mean to her. Seriously. So then she says, "I'd move out but you're still keeping half my things from me."

We assured her we'd brought up every box. No, she says, she's sure there's more. We sat down like rational people and tried to figure it out. Had she given something away that she was now missing? What about the boxes of yard sale stuff, could she mean that?

She started insisting we were keeping her prisoner, and said we were worse than the "Nazi Gestapo." It was at this point that I realized this is not rational.

So...yeah. The neurological exam we scheduled isn't until Dec. 21, and the first counseling session isn't until the beginning of January.

She went through two cases of wine last month. I think the case is 9 liters, so that's 0.6 liters a day. That's nearly one normal bottle of wine a day.

Excess alcohol use can mimic Alzheimer's, I've learned. But also, angry outbursts and irrationality are common symptoms of dementia.

I guess maybe I'm hoping it's alcohol?

kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Bleargh. I have a cold. Sandy has a cold. Baby is sick. And she's refusing the cow milk.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights she woke up again and again. Last night she slept from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., wouldn't go back to sleep after I nursed her but was willing to sleep with us, and slept til 9 a.m. Poor sick miserable baby.

She was also refusing to eat. We think her throat hurts. But Sandy made chili for dinner and she loved the beans. And she ate a lot of cheerios for breakfast. So...that's something. The day before she ate about four carrots and nothing else for dinner.

Tomorrow is Halloween! KB has gotten to the point where she doesn't mind her costume. She even wore the head for a few minutes.

Ugh. There's nothing like a miserable cold. This is going to be a good weekend, though. I've decided on my breaking-the-rules NaNo project, and I might go to the kick-off party tomorrow night. Or I might not, midnight is really late.

Then on Sunday night, Sandy and I are going to watch the 2-hour kickoff of Librarians. And on Monday we shockingly have NO PLANS. Wow. We might decorate for Christmas or something!
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
2.5 pumping days left!
Then I'll be able to do my work without trying desperately to schedule interviews, meetings and breaking news around pumping - or worry when there isn't time to do more than one pumping - or work for hours with my breasts aching until finally I have time to pump - or leak like crazy while trying to, let's say, make bacon before a convention...

A friend of a friend was like, "I'm still pumping and my son is 16 months old. I think cow milk is good for cow babies."

Even Sandy said she liked the idea of breastmilk better than cow milk! And I was like, ONE YEAR. I am not a cow as of Oct. 27. She's getting cow milk. Sorry not sorry.

It will be so much easier to go buy milk at the store than to pump it in my non-free-time. In fact, considering that it takes roughly 5 minutes to get to the store, and one could easily buy a gallon of milk and return home in 30 minutes, and that's 128 ounces, while it takes me an hour plus to pump 10 ounces of milk (and then additional time to clean the pump parts every day), I think we can all agree that buying milk is about six million times cheaper than me pumping.

I can't wait. It'll be great. Here's hoping she takes to the milk right away.

She also seems to be done with nursing when she wakes up in the morning, now, which is great except that I can't cut out daytime pumping AND the morning nursing at the same time. Oh well. Three days. Then I can cut back on day pumping - next week I plan to only pump a little to alleviate pain. Once I can go all day without pumping, we'll deal with the morning thing.

At least I think that's how to do it. It's remarkable how there's tons of info online on how to keep breastfeeding and basically none on stopping. When I get a minute, I'm going to call Rebecca, since she's the only one I know who has actually done the pump-while-working thing. Also Sandy's friend who sent me all the pumping shirts, but it's a little more awkward to ask her.

In other news, I have 110 oz. to donate. I want to put aside 40 oz more. My parents have most of that milk in their deep freezer. I need to take a blood test to prove I don't have god knows what so I can donate. In my copious spare time. I think the plan is to do that Monday, after our family photos. We're doing professional photos for Katie Beth's first birthday.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
This weekend I am going to a 90th birthday party after work, conveniently 10 minutes from the office. On Sunday, we're driving down to NJ to see Lysa. This is great except nobody but us was willing to drive, and Tisha said she had to bring her daughter (14-year-old Fiona) because her daughter wants to spend more time with her. But that means we have one person too many for the minivan, so we are stuck driving BOTH our cars. Ugh.

The attendees: Sandy, Jane, Julie, Jacki, Tisha, Robyn, Fiona. So there would be enough room with just the minivan if KB and I stayed home and believe me I've thought about it. Driving two hours to and from work every day doesn't make me eager to spend 4 hours driving on my day off, and with all those days of not seeing KB, I'd really like to see her.

On the plus side, KB will love playing with Quentin (Lysa's 3-year-old) and his train set. (Probably the trains more than the human, but you never know.) And we'll mostly drive through her nap times.

On Monday, I am picking up a cat for Alice, which is also inconveniently about 40 minutes away. And then I'm going to see "The Martian" with Amanda.

I see a lot of driving in my future.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
So many things to look forward to seeing.

Katie Beth's first experience with cake. And with candles! But mainly I cannot wait to see what she does when we put a whole little cake right in front of her.

Katie Beth experiencing snow. I hope she likes it.

Presents! All wrapped in that delicious paper. She was given a present early (on Sunday) in a gift bag and she could not figure it out...I tried showing her the head of the little dragon in the bag and she tried shaking the bag instead and the head vanished and she cried. Let's hope Christmas is happier. If not, we plan to unwrap everything for her and put it in a box so she can pull out toys one by one.

In other news, we may be getting a second cat. I know, right?! A 12-year-old cat. But the cat is allegedly friendly, and Alice really wants a cat she could actually pet. And so does Katie Beth. And at least it's an older cat, right?
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
It's Primary Night. In recent years at the Gaz, elections of any sort were best described as Anxiety Night. Management was on edge, micromanaging and freaking out and generally acting as if their staff hadn't been covering elections for years. The general manager would stay and go over the chart, as if no one else could do it but her. And in the hours before the results come in, she would go over and over the chart, as if it was something she could avoid messing up by memorizing it outright.

It used to be we would each fill out our portion of the chart (my guys got these numbers of votes, this guy is the winner), and an editor would look it over. There were never, in 12 years, any errors. Until it became Anxiety Night, the only late-night discussion was whether a race was too close to call.

Now I'm at the PS. The general manager left at his normal time. His office door, by the way, is left wide open every night. Whereas at the Gaz, that door was always locked when she left. I always thought that was a little odd - hers is the only office with a door so locking it just seemed sort of...distrusting. I guess I can't really argue with it, but I must say the change here creates a very different atmosphere.

Anyway, it's very calm and quiet here tonight. Everyone is calmly and competently doing their work. I haven't seen a single bit of anxiety.

It is just SO NICE.

This is totally worth the hour drive.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Highlights from dragoncon (in chronological order):

Friday -
The musical puppet show of "Star Wars" - The songs were fantastic and hilarious. He did what he said was the first third of the movie - but it got to where they rescued Leia. Anyway he has the scripts for the next two parts and we're sooo hoping he comes back!

Jadzia Dax - Well. I learned that Terry Farrell's character was killed off because the producer (Berman) offered her a "take it or leave it" contract - no negotiations - and she refused. So he killed Dax off. I don't know how to feel about this. She wouldn't tell us anything about the contract except to say, "As a woman and an actress, I couldn't take it." I have heard rumors that women were paid much less than men were on Star Trek. On the other hand, Farrell left her next job because she was unhappy with the contract she was offered during contract renewals.

Wheel of Time dinner - since they canceled our track and the fantasy literature track director won't schedule any WoT book discussions, we held an off-site event. More than 50 people came. It was fun.

Tom Smith - his first concert was infused with so much more energy and happiness - we were delighted. He was hospitalized during a convention about eight months ago and he's gotten so much healthier since then.

We were going to stay for another filk artist but bagged it to see Laura & Josh instead.

Saturday -

We watched part of the parade on DragonCon TV - which was really entertaining and way better than fighting the crowd (and the heat)!

Genetics and Harry Potter: This was one of the best fan panels I've ever attended. A biology professor from Duke used HP books, movies and JKR interviews to figure out how the magic gene works and why squibs happen. (Spoiler: We're all squibs!)

Georgia Philharmonic Orchestra: It started with the conductor coming out in a Jon Luc Picard costume. Then a speaker with a voice like John Earl Jones gave us clues for each song. They played the TV theme song for all the Star Trek shows, the opening music for Star Wars, the Harry Potter movies soundtrack, and a bunch of others.

Her Royal Majesty's Boasting Contest: A story telling contest. I got third place! And Sandy and I totally agreed my story was the best. However, the judges kept calling one guy's name, and he didn't show up. They started speculating on what could've kept him, telling us about him, telling stories about him, etc. as they waited between contestants. Then, at the very end, they called on this drunk guy who had passed on his first turn to speak. He was told: now or never, so he staggered to the mic, started a disjointed story, and ended with, "But it didn't matter because I'm Mike!" And ripped off a fake nose, beard, and other stuff - half his face- to reveal himself. He's a professional makeup artist and friends with the judges and none of them recognized him. He got second place. First place was a guy who stole all our stories and squished them into one funny, if incoherent, tale. It was really fun.

Sunday -

The only WoT panel! A mash - WoT and Harry Potter. But I love both, so it was a lot of fun. The only annoying thing was that one of the people running it had never read WoT.

Starship Smackdown - SO AWESOME. 12 starships, in brackets like basketball, chosen by the audience. Three judges (scifi authors) who, with the help of the audience, decided which starship would win in each one-on-one battle. I really pushed for a shadow ship from B5, and in round 2 the shadow ship had to fight the Borg. The verdict: the shadow ship assimilated the Borg ship, took it over and used it for the rest of the fights. The shadow-Borg ship won the whole thing.
...it's the sort of thing where you just have to be there.

How I would have written The Force Awakens: Yet another awesome fan panel. Four great Star Wars authors - including Timothy Zahn! - who have no involvement or knowledge of the movie, discussed what story they would tell. It was so cool.

Tom Smith: His final concert was the best I've seen of his in YEARS. The final two songs were "A Frog and His Boy" and then "Talk Like A Pirate Day." Nuff said.

We had to head out before panels started Monday. But we went to a late-night party Sunday night, which was a lot of fun - I'd forgotten something at the Westin so I had to go back, and everyone else was there, so we stayed - but then we got to bed really really late which made the next day really hard. Ah well. It was a fantastic weekend.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
I never post about good things, apparently. Hah, I'm too busy enjoying them!

Macbeth was really well staged, with great acting (Lady Macbeth was amazing, as were the witched), and the coloratura in Candide was INCREDIBLE. Candide was funny, but I didn't think it really hung together as a story. It helped that we went to the stage talk before the show, at which they explained that Voltaire wrote Candide to try to prove wrong those who said life was "God's will" and thus "everything would work out."

Still, it was worth it just for the singing.

We had $20 semi-obstructed view seats. For Macbeth, we were in box seats and that was great! Not really obstructed at all. We were in different seats for Candide, much more obstructed of the far left - and due to bad staging, most of the big action was on the far left. Still, the singing was worth it and then some.

In between, we had three hours, in which we wandered the beautiful grounds, ate a lovely dinner (after harassing the chef) and played a new game: a Trivial Pursuit card game in which you can steal people's cards.

We had to harass the chef because Glimmerglass offers this thing where you can order gournmet dinners but you have to order at least 24 hours in advance. So Sandy ordered two days ahead, and even called the chef. All was in order. She paid in advance. When she went to get our meals...they weren't there. The idiot kid running the table just shrugged and said she'd comp us and give us a veggie platter with hummus.

That might've been fine if we had not essentially skipped breakfast and lunch, trying to get everything ready for babysitting and get to Macbeth on time. We were starving and had already, in fact, eaten our own homemade hummus and vegetable platter while I pumped in the car.

So I asked them to find a way to make it right, and the girl started crying and just dialed the chef's number and handed me the phone. He was surprisingly belligerent ("Well, I'd have to cook it for you now") but when we explained we had until 8 p.m. (the start of Candide) he said he'd get us our meal. And indeed, it arrived less than an hour later. It was OK - but cold. We learned the "concessions stand" serves real, cooked to order, actual dinners - salmon and such. So next time we'll order from there.

But it was just a sort of strange quirk in our lovely dinner. Trivial Pursuit totally occupied us until the meal arrived. It's a new version, so there are questions based on actual recent events, so I had a chance! I won one game (and none since).

Then, after working Sunday on very little sleep (we got home at 12:30 a.m.), we surprised Alice on Monday by taking her to Mystic, CT. She's been wanting to go but she gets so anxious about any trip that she gets worked up and can't sleep and then she gets sick. So this time, I packed her (and everyone else) secretly while Sandy distracted her in the living room. We told her we were dropping my car off at the mechanic and then I'd ride with them to her dr's appointment, and then we'd take her out to lunch.

After the dr appointment, we drove for about 45 minutes before she asked where we were going. She was delighted! And had a great time.

She rested in the hotel once we got there, while KB and I went swimming in the pool. (KB is still clinging desperately to us while near water - I have no idea where this sudden fear came from!) Then we all went out to dinner, an amazingly delicious meal that was surprisingly inexpensive. We were seated next to a huge salad bar, and KB was so delighted by watching all the people that she often forgot to eat.

Alice shared her "heart of the rib eye" steak and it was the best steak I have ever eaten. Sandy shared her scallops with Alice, and they agreed those were incredible too. I had a steak, and it was a pretty good steak - but nothing like Alice's!

On Tuesday, we went to the beach. We got rather lost, but after a tour through a "private property no trespassing" beautiful community on the ocean, we finally found our way to a legal beach. Since Alice is a senior, we got in for just $10! Rather than $20. We parked in handicap parking, right next to the entrance...which was a hill, maybe 20 yards, in sand. Our plan was to basically carry Alice, pushing her walker, and stage lawn chairs every 10 feet or so for her to sit and rest. But as I was setting this up, Sandy saw a huge dune buggy-like wheelchair at the first aid tent! So we borrowed one and easily pushed Alice all the way into the beach.

She had said sadly that she would never put her feet in the surf again because she couldn't possibly make it that far. Well, we pushed her right down to the surf. It was perfect.

I carried KB into the ocean but she was not impressed by the sound of the big waves. Then we played in the sand, but I think the sand was too hot for her. I tried getting her to play on the wet sand, but she was still unimpressed. After about an hour she relaxed and seemed to be having a little bit better of a time.

Then we left and got lunch while she slept and drove to the aquarium, about 20 min. away. They gave Alice an electric scooter for the day (we discovered Sunday night that her battery was dead - not uncharged, DEAD). We had thought we were going to push her in a regular wheelchair, so the scooter was great news. They were all out of regular wheelchairs, they said. Was an electric scooter OK. GOD YES.

KB loved the aquarium - the beluga whales, the penguins, the sea lion show, the big fish...all of it. She was so excited that she only slept for about 30 minutes. We were RIGHT NEXT to a sea lion during the show, too. She was so excited.

And then it was hot and we were tired so we headed home. Oh! And we got into the aquarium for free! A nice woman had two extra free passes and gave them to me.

KB slept allll the way home, for 3.5 hours. And then was happily awake until 12:45 a.m. Groan.
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
Hey. LJ will only let me see the previous 50 entries on my friends feed now. WTF?
kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
So, this rather awful thing happened, but I didn't know about it til afterward and...let me start over.

I have this friend from high school, whom I lost touch with many many years ago. Then Facebook brought us back together but it turned out she had grown up to be a nut job. Who hated gay people. I slowly persuaded her to see otherwise, mainly by ignoring her but not unfriending her, and firmly but politely arguing with her whenever she said anything to me.

So she's finally come around, these last couple years. And then this weekend she was in town to cheer on her friend's child, who was graduating from high school. She wanted to stop by and say hello for an hour. Also she wanted to borrow a tent because she was going camping and her tent (which she had ordered) had not arrived in time.

So I loaned her a tent and her 10-year-old daughter and I played with KB while she chatted with Sandy, who was working on chocolates. Then she left. And when she left, Sandy told me that this nut job who was now gone with my tent had described a group of McDonald's workers (who happened to be black and had not given her food quickly enough) as "having never gotten past the plantation laziness."

In my house, she said this.

Sandy said she was so stunned she didn't respond. Apparently, Becks saw her reaction and launched into a long tale of asking forgiveness by attending a worship service at a black church. (WTF? What does that do?)

Now, if I'd heard her say it I would have confronted her on it at once. But now she's gone - off camping somewhere, planning to drop the tent back here after we leave for the reunion. I don't have her phone number and she has no wifi access while camping. So I guess I have to wait a couple weeks and then...Facebook Message her to call her out on it?

Which is awkward. But I REALLY can't let it stand. I don't even know where to begin. Plantation laziness?!?! How could anyone believe a slave was "lazy" when they were tortured while being forced to work harder than ANY of us, in our modern plush lives, ever have had to work. Even the most labor-intensive job in the US today is not nearly as hard, not to mention the mental anguish. Sure, I'll bet most slaves tried to sneak away at some point...but that would be better described as "sensibly trying to avoid torture."

Gah. I suppose it would be better to try to educate her about slavery than to tell her she is disgusting and should never come near me again, but the latter is strongly tempting.

And she has my tent! A racist person is sleeping in my tent.

Also, I loaned another tent to Mike and...he let his son (who is SIX) pee in it.


Clearly the moral here is to never loan a tent to anyone.

On the plus side, we went camping in our new bigger tent and it was awesome. Great tent, good size, fit our queen mattress and the pack'n'play with ample room for luggage. It stayed totally dry during the torrential rainstorm. Mike admired it greatly. Hopefully he did not pee in it.

I mean really...W.T.F?!?! Racism and pee, it's been a distressing weekend.


kkatowll: (Default)

January 2017

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