Friday, April 28, 2006


We are cranky today. And lucky for you, I feel so cranky that I'm letting the kids watch TV while I tell you all about it. Some reasons forthwith:

1. The preceding post. I'm slogging through it all, but the limitations imposed by single parenting this week have dulled my mental acuity and spriteliness levels. Not that I'm ever particularly spritely when it comes to work, but I've been relying on more diet caffeinated soda than usual to keep my energy levels from completely flagging. So, great, the precancerous cells are gathering force as we speak.

2. Single parenting this week. It hasn't been too bad, actually, but at this point I'm definitely eager for my spouse to return from his trip to Germany. And so are the kids. Sean's mournful tone on the phone to Jeff yesterday just about broke my heart: "I really, really miss you, Daddy. Are you coming home tonight?"

3. Ants. I hate them. I know it's probably inappropriate for me to marshall such strong emotions for an insect, but if I see one more ant marching merrily across my counter I … well, I guess I'll just squash it and wait for the next one. Even the kids are getting a little annoyed. "Ants, get out of my house!" Allie told one yesterday. And now they are crawling up the backsplash and behind the cabinets. Looks like I'll be removing the cabinet contents today.

4. Apparently the strep bacteria that had caused Allie's scarlet fever is a particularly feisty sort, one that thumbs its figurative nose at pink amoxicillin. Yes, the scarlet fever rash is back. Looks like a trip to the doctor's, and a fiercer antibiotic, is also in order today.

5. Back to work issues. Now, this will interest perhaps two entire readers (hi, Isabella and Jen), so feel free to skip this item if you could care less about reference styles. Say you have the chance of creating a reference style for a medical journal. You could simply coopt the standard one, which looks more or less like this:

Smith JS. The greatest medical discovery ever, we mean it. J Silly Med. 2005;163:897-899.

It's simple, unambiguous, and, most important, as I've already mentioned, standard.

Or, you could create a strange social science/medical hybrid style that looks like this:

Smith, J.S., Jones, Q.T., and Stipe, M. THIS is greatest medical discovery ever, forget about that first one. J. Silly. Med. 163, 900, 2005.

Of course you'd pick the former, right? Yes, because you are sensible. But for reasons unknown, a project I'm working on uses the latter style. I don't know why it annoys me so. Perhaps because I have to insert all those stupid periods and boldface the volume number over and over again. Don't you envy my glamorous job?

Whew! Feels so much better getting all that off my chest. You, perhaps, may not feel the same way having read this. Thanks for indulging me. And now I have to go talk to the plumber, who has, I kid you not, come to fix the sink.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Slipping Under


Two forces are colliding this week: Jeff's away for the whole week, and I appear to have disabled the portion of my brain that would permit a "No, my plate's full" response when it comes to freelance projects.

Time for some armchair psychological analysis: You think that my eager-beaver approach to freelancing, sanity and sleep be damned, has anything to do with insecurity over having relinquished my full-time paycheck just over a year ago?

Nah, me neither.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Marching In

It's spring, and that means that Casa Mimilou has once again thrown open its doors to welcome its annual visitors.

The ants, they are back.

Okay, I stretched the truth a bit with that "welcome" reference. And as for the point of entry, it sure isn't the doors. We actually have no idea where the ants are gaining entrance. We do know, however, their favorite hangout spot: OUR KITCHEN COUNTERS.

(Insert full-body shudder.)

The exterminator has been out twice and has yet to staunch the flow. A third service call is forthcoming.

In the meantime, the junior critter control patrol is out in full swing. Their preferred method of intimidation is to squat down on the floor (oh, yes, the ants are there, too), put their faces thisclose to the invaders, and shout "BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Not the most successful approach, granted, but it sure is funny to observe.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few more ants to squash.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Slightly Belated Blogging Biennial

Without my even paying any heed, this blog turned two years old a few days ago. As I tend to do with important dates for actual people, I plum forgot about this second blogiversary.

Come to think of it, I forgot about the first one, too.

It's hard to imagine not blogging -- it's become such an ingrained part of my life. I've never successfully kept a journal for more than a few months, and I'm a little pleased with myself that I've been able to chronicle parts of my life and my kids' lives so consistently.

Before I started blogging I felt that my head was going to explode with all the unexpressed thoughts flailing about. I don't feel that way any longer, and I have the blog to thank.

Most important to me, though, is the amazing set of readers who brighten my day, every day. Your support and your friendship mean the world to me. I didn't realize the community I'd been lacking until I found this one. So, even though I moan more or less continuously about my own feelings of inadequacy, please know that things would be really morose in my house if I were just on my own!

Onward and upward, and other uplifting closing sentiments...

Monday, April 17, 2006


I actually don't have much to report about Easter. We dyed eggs on Saturday, we had a short indoor egg hunt (short because the Easter bunny is a cheapskate who decided to just use last year's plastic eggs, even though she could find only seven of them), Sean and I went to church, and we all went to my sister's house for Easter dinner.

(Allie is doing much better. She has no symptoms now other than the rash, which is resolving slowly, and apparently after a few doses of the antibiotic she is no longer infectious.)

At my sister's the discovery that I buy cage-free eggs further solidified my position as the family's resident liberal loony. If only I had true crunchy credibility to live up to that reputation -- instead of my usual half-hearted attempts at social responsibility! If nothing else, those brown eggs sure looked really cool after their dye bath…

My family has a grand total of one holiday tradition -- at Easter, we play a game with the dyed eggs called Uppers. It's a game my grandparents played, but I'm not sure of its actual derivation. It goes something like this: Two people square off at a time. One person holds an egg in his or her hand, leaving only a small opening. The other person attempts to crack the first person's egg by tapping it. Each person takes turns being the tapper and tappee (yes, I just made those words up). The person whose egg cracks on both ends first is out of the game, and the winner proceeds to the next person, and so on. I love this game, silly as it sounds. And I'm not just saying that because I totally won this year.

I especially love the idea of passing on a tradition to my kids. It's not quite the same as it was when my grandparents were alive (they were quite competitive and yielded about a centimeter of egg surface when it was their egg being tapped), but I look forward to it every year. I hope Sean and Allie will, too. (For some photos, click here.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

We're All about Coordinating Colors around Here

My fellow fashionistas, you know how important it is for an ensemble to match in one way or another, right? Even if, say, you find that the currently in vogue complementary colors are a wee bit garish (not pointing any fingers, designers, but the turquoise and brown combo springs to mind).

Well, for Allie's navy blue, white polka dot Easter dress, we seem to have inadvertently stumbled upon a lovely complementary background color: pink, as in the bumpy rash of scarlet fever.

The doctor took one look at Allie and said she was 99% sure that the culture would come back positive for strep. If only all diagnoses were so easy! So, antibiotics have commenced, and Allie is actually acting only a little sick. She's also developed this adorable throaty voice -- I've been calling her Kathleen Turner.

Whether she'll even be donning her Easter dress for church and dinner at my sister's remains to be seen.

Gotta run -- the patient is crying!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Gust of Warm Air

Might warm weather be just what I need to lift the deep funk I've been in for a few months now? Or is that too much to ask of the climate?

Let's just say that the recent glorious weather has improved my mood a bit. And that I have firmly concluded that as much as I am in thrall of the fantastic socialist life lived by the Scandinavians, their weather would kill me.

Anyway, this week's mood leavening has been brought to you by warm weather plus two nice outdoor outings with the kids. Earlier this week my mom and I took the kids to a local-ish farm, where they paid barely cursory attention to the animals. When there are big tractor tires set in a pile of sand to climb on, living creatures, even cute newborn ones (the piglets! oh the adorable piglets!) take a back seat.

This was all I had planned to do, and that alone would have been a fun little trip. Then I overheard a few other people talking about an Easter egg hayride that would be departing in about 15 minutes. Can I admit to you all that the prospect of changing my plans to go on this hayride unsettled me? (See the preceding personality DNA map for the miniscule real estate taken up by "spontaneity".) Fifteen minutes? Why, normally I need to plan something like this days in advance. Fortunately I snapped myself to attention and hustled the kids over to the tractor and wagons. I'm so glad I did -- they had a great time on the bumpy, lurching tractor ride and on the "hunt". Quotation marks seems appropriate because the eggs were dumped in highly visible color-coded piles for even the blindest of bats to find. No matter; Sean and Allie reveled in their egg finds.

Post-hayride came the inevitable Peter Rabbit/Easter Bunny visit. Sean wouldn't go up to Mr. Rabbit at all, and Allie acceded only with the proviso that I hold her. And my oh my, the death grip with which she held me in return! Apparently a giant human-shaped, voiceless bunny is a bit scary. Can't imagine why…

Today we met several parents and kids from Sean's preschool at a playground. (School is closed this week.) I had thought it would be just the one mom and boy with whom we've had playdates this year. Turns out there were six of us! I felt like, I don't know, part of a community or something. Someday I really should write about how isolated my neighborhood makes me feel. But at the playground today, I thought, "Oh! So this is what it's like to be at a park where people actually 1) go and 2) talk to each other!" We all agreed that we need to have meet-ups like this more frequently, especially once school is over for the year.

Oh! (Smacks forehead.) Jeff's dad is home from the hospital; he'll be closely monitored for several months to ensure that another clot doesn't form. Jeff informs me that his dad is already blithely disregarding doctors' orders about slowly resuming normal activities, though, so we all must keep our fingers crossed.

Here's to warmth and its healing prowess.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Since I've Never Met a Personality Test I Could Resist

My Personal DNA

You can mouse over the image to find out what each block represents. More detailed info here. This was kind of fun! And pretty accurate. Thanks to Marie for the link.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Updates, but I'm Running Low on Coherence So Bear with Me

Update from the health front: Jeff's dad is doing okay; he's still in the hospital, but the anticoagulant treatment seems to have stabilized the situation. His kidneys also have returned to normal function. Still no overarching diagnosis, but at least he's out of immediate danger. He's been in good spirits each time I've talked to him on the phone. He can be rather, umm, prickly, but he's always quite stoic about whatever health problem befalls him. One characteristic comment from the other day: "Oh, I'm doing great. It's just my body that's falling apart."

I think Jeff's mom is glad to have Jeff and his brother there with her after a week of tending to everything essentially by herself. Jeff's sister still lives at home, but since she's taking this scare pretty hard I don't know how much my mother-in-law has wanted to share the burden with her. (Some background to clarify, by the way: Jeff and his brother are in their mid-thirties; their two sisters are 19 and 22. Same parents, in case you were wondering. Until about 1992, the whole family lived in New Jersey. Then Jeff's dad was transferred to Pittsburgh; parents and sisters moved, Jeff and his brother stayed here. Extensive interstate travel ensued, leading one of my father-in-law's doctors to hypothesize that his blood clot arose from those long stretches of driving-induced inactivity. Hogwash, says another of his doctors. So much for medical consensus.)

Anyway! Switching gears now...

Sean's kiddie party was on Saturday. We went to an indoor playground that Sean loves. It was, and I am not being sarcastic, tons o' fun. Even for me, once I got over an extreme bout of ridiculous melancholy over the high "nay" count among invitees. Only four kids were able to come, a much smaller party than I had envisioned. Among my many melodramatic thoughts was "how unfair that Sean has gotten stuck with a parent who is such a loser that she can't even find children to attend his party". Oh, it was like junior high inside my brain, you should have been there. Once I found my way back to adulthood, I accepted the situation with at least a smidge of grace. And Sean had a blast, which is all that matters.

Thanks for all the kind words about Jeff's dad and about my sad state of blog affairs. I really appreciate it. You guys are terrific!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Let's Play a Game...

Called "Watch the blog whither and die." Already in progress, or so it might appear to the casual observer.

Sorry most of my recent posts consist of one excuse or another for my lack of real posting. Last week's illness caused a miniature avalanche of work this week; all my non-kid time has been spent squinting at the computer and kicking myself for taking on editing projects that involve SGML coding.

And overriding all my standard petty complaints is the fact that Jeff's father is in the hospital. He went in because of kidney problems, found out that his previously diagnosed pneumonia had worsened, and today was told he has a blood clot in his lung. Yeah. Bad news. He's now on an IV blood thinner, which we are hoping was started promptly enough to prevent, well, worse news. Jeff is probably going to drive out tomorrow to see him (his parents live 300+ miles away).

I hope to catch up with everyone soon -- thanks for continuing to check in!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Where Is That Green Grass, Exactly?

A phone conversation with my sister, whose kids are not so young anymore:

Her: It was so nice yesterday! It was the kind of day that made me wish I had young kids of my own to play with outside. Instead I just went for a walk by myself.

Me: Yeah. And I was wishing I could go for a walk by myself.

Perhaps a body swap is in order; just a temporary one, though, since I'm not ready to skip straight ahead to helping a son choose a tux for a prom or waiting to hear about whether another will be granted an interview for the police academy....