noideadog: (monkey!)
The day before we got on the plane to Miami, where we are now, Elizabeth started pulling her ears.

This has happened twice before and twice we've had this conversation with a doctor:

"The ear's a little infected, but it may clear up on its own. Come back in two days."
"In two days we'll be on a plane."
"We'd better not risk it. Antibiotics."

But this time two molars have just appeared, with another on the way, and that would make anyone pull on their ears, wouldn't it? It must be the molars, we said.

It wasn't the molars. So here we are on the morning of day three of our five day trip to Miami, planning a visit to a doctor. I grab an appointment with the nearest pediatrician on the map at zocdoc.com, just a couple of miles away, and Joel rents a car and a car seat to take us there. But actually, when I look closer, I realise that the address doesn't match the map. Same street address; different city. We're booked a doctor in Homestead, a city fifty minutes to the south-west, beside the Everglades. That works: we'll go to the doctor, then see some alligators.

Joel texts from the car rental place asking me to pack a bath towel and my heart sinks, because I know what that means: the car seat is the Terrible Bolt Upright Baby Hating Car Seat, a model we've had in rental cars before. With a sufficiently fluffy towel, you can make it recline a few degrees, but not enough to sleep in. These things are also hell to install. After a lot of practice and some YouTube videos, Joel can usually do them in fifteen minutes.

Skip forward and we're finally in the car and we're late. The traffic got worse: the 50 minute drive is now 65 minutes and we didn't have any to spare. I pick up the phone to tell the doctor we're late and, as I find the number, Elizabeth abruptly throws up breakfast berries, yoghurt, tomato soup and something gelatinous I don't recognise. There's a lot of it. We're on the motorway.

I mop up what I can. I pet her hair. I get through to the doctor. No, they can't postpone the appointment by 20 minutes and actually the doctor is leaving now, 17 minutes before we're even supposed to be there. Can we come tomorrow instead? No we can not.

E would really like to sleep now and the TBUBHCS prevents that, so I set my arm up as a headrest and futz with Zocdoc on my phone with the other hand. No morning appointments, but I accept a nearby 3pm, then call the doctor's office (still one-handed: phone under my chin as I fumble in my bag for a pencil) to see if they have anything earlier. Nope, actually the doctor has left early today. Well.

We abandon Zocdoc and park outside a pharmacy where Joel starts cold-calling pediatrians in the area and I go look for wet wipes and a plastic bag and scrape the rest of the vomit off the car seat and the baby. Joel is having the kind of painful conversation that you always do with doctors' offices (repetition, clarification, polite incredulity), but he eventually finds an office that will see us in half an hour. Elizabeth chucks again.

Half an hour later. I'm in a small but very crowded waiting room, filling out paperwork ("Does the patient drink coffee?" "Not... directly?") while Joel is in the car attempting to hose down the baby. He changes her too, but the nappies are in my bag, so he uses one designed for swimming in. That's important later on. That's a gun that goes off in a later act.

Joel goes off to buy a car seat that reclines and isn't covered with vomit. Almost everyone in the waiting room is speaking Spanish. We read My Many Colored Days five times. We read Oh The Thinks You Can Think six times. Elizabeth's name is called and I shuffle through the door, walking cautiously because I left the hotel without my belt this morning and for the entire day I've been preoccupied with making sure my trousers don't fall down. The administrator asks some questions and types some information about us. She doesn't ask my demographic; I see her choose "non-Hispanic". True.

Another hour. I find a place to dispose of the bag of vomit I've been carrying around. (What, you think I left that in the car?).

Joel returns with a Kiss Me I'm Irish shirt in toddler size. E finds some babies to play with. At first I try to police whose hands go in whose mouths -- we're in a doctors office -- but it's futile. She catches whatever she catches and shares whatever she shares. She also falls and raises a welt on her forehead and I hope the doctor doesn't think I beat her.

The doctor comes in. Elizabeth, sitting on my lap, pees effusively. The swim-diaper doesn't even try. I am now wearing vomit and urine. Today is going well.

The doctor diagnoses infections in both ears. Antibiotics, see our own doctor in a week, don't fly. Luckily we have train tickets home.

It's now 5pm. I've eaten one croissant, one cappuccino and a piece of cheese that I stole from the child. I am splashed in vomit and liberally soaked in pee, my trousers are falling down, the small child on my hip is bellowing and I don't think we're going to the Everglades today. At least Joel has installed the better car seat.

First stop: Walmart for shorts and t-shirt. I change in the car on the way to the second stop: food. I'm hungry enough and the options are limited enough that I declare that Joel can pick any crappy chain place and I won't be obnoxious about it. He doesn't believe me and turns in to a Burger King to prove the point. Ok, I won't deny that I wince. Starbucks provides a protein plate: egg, cheese, peanut butter and fruit, and I don't need to order anything when Joel stops at Wendy's for a chicken sandwich.

An hour later. Almost home. Do we miss the exit for Miami and need to take a circuitous route? Of course we do! Is the kid screaming the entire way? Not quite: she stops when I read to her. We read My Many Colored Days another four times. She's been saying "duck" at the page with the blue bird, and over the four readthroughs she adds a convincing "horse" and "fish". The rate at which she picks up vocabulary right now is unbelievable. I should probably stop swearing around her soon.

South Beach! It takes a couple of pharmacies before we find one with a pharmacist and I join a long queue of people waiting to fill prescriptions. The woman in front of me is on the phone loudly bemoaning the morals of people who cut in line to ask the pharmacist a quick question and then stay ten minutes. The man behind me is not on the phone so he loudly tells me about it instead. The woman who is at the front of the queue pretends not to hear and stolidly continues her conversation with the pharmacist.

The prescription will take 40 minutes. We drive to a fancy hippy organic smoothie and sandwich shop and I run in to get us fancy hippy organic sandwiches. On the way back we take a wrong turn and accidentally get on the bridge back to Miami. I find this impossibly hilarious.

Back to the pharmacy. They've got the antibiotics but the nausea drug the doctor prescribed doesn't exist. They've faxed for clarification. It's 8:30pm. We'll do without the anti-nausea drug. The pharmacist says that flat 7up will do the same thing anyway. I always thought that was an Irish thing, like whiskey for toothache and poitin for everything.

Hotel, oh thank god. Milk and drugs into the kid. Sandwiches into everyone else. Joel and E are asleep before they're fully horizontal. I open a beer and tell the internet about my day.
noideadog: (natural dancer)

Baby in being a person shocker. Today e was a full member of the household twice. Our Sunday mornings predictably involve two lattes and two quiches from Smith Canteen. This morning we got three quiches. She doesn't get a latte yet.

This evening Joel put up coat cooks: his coat, my coat, e’s coat, all hanging in a row.

Maybe this is why today we realised that we’re going to need a dining table that sits three people. She’ll graduate from a high chair at some point.

It turns out that babies are people. Or at least they turn into people at some point. It’s very strange and I like it.

noideadog: (coffee)
Baby update. Baby steps

It's not the first step, but it's a first step. I have a bunch of six second videos of her looking like she's going to walk and then sitting down, diving for a handhold, or smoothly turning it into a crawl. Come on, Fizzbuzz, you can do this.

She's talking all the time now. Every day we get a few moments where she says "nana" to a banana, "god" to a dog, "turta" to her turtle, or "boo" when uncovering the bear in the peekaboo book. "Did that happen?", we ask. "Was that a coincidence?" Unclear. Either way, her babbling sounds like English now and she has a lot to say.

Her little paws are getting good at manipulating objects. She puts things into other things and gets really excited when they fit neatly together. She waves at people all the time too. She's ridiculously social. My parents took care of her for all the time we were in Zurich and got very used to saying "No, sorry, we don't speak any German" to people she waved and smiled at. She has zero stranger-danger and currently would go home with anyone. This is kind of alarming. Joel and I are still all stranger-danger all the time, so we don't know where this gregarious small person came from.

She thinks books are great. She thinks phones and things shaped like phones are amazing. This is because bad parenting. She's cheerful of disposition and it's very easy to make her smile, but it's hard to make her laugh. You can do it, but you'll work for it.

She likes soup and ramen and cheese and crab and crackers and corn and fish and sometimes egg, if you get her in the right mood, and enchiladas and chile rellenos within reason. We've mostly managed to avoid sugar so far, though we'll see how long we can keep that going. We'd like her to not be a picky eater, but a bunch of people have told us that no matter how epicurean your one year old, a two year old will suddenly refuse to eat anything other than pasta and cheese, and you can't do much about it. I hope it's not true.

We still haven't officially shortened Elizabeth, but sometimes she's Liz and sometimes she's Fizz, and daycare calls her Lizzy, which I like. She's Baba and Babacakes and Caca Baba and Baba Milis and Elizabeth J Reilly Votaw the Third even though she's not really the third anything.

She is so great. I can't even really communicate how much fun she is, and she gets even better every day. She's a reasonable dinner companion now. I can go to a restaurant with her, just the two of us, and we can sort of hang out and have a good time. She's relaxed and curious while travelling: you can tell that airports try her patience, but she's less grumpy than we are. I can't wait until we can talk properly. We're going to do some cool stuff together.

A year of pictures is at hhttp://whereistanya.smugmug.com/Family/.
noideadog: (coffee)

Yeah, it looks like a five year old made it. I don't make a lot of pies. Tastes reasonable enough though.

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying cooking. It's not really something I've had much interest in before, but recently I get definite satisfaction from combining ingredients and making something dinnerly. Joel and I have a home-cooking rating scale: inedible, edible, successful, triumph. Triumphs are rare (one moussaka, one dal, neither reproducibly), but I've had plenty of successes recently: pasta with pesto, fishes on beds of various vegetables, bean burritos. We take it in turns to cook for a week. It's currently Joel's week, and he produced a successful salad nicoise yesterday.

 

We joined a local CSA this summer, so every Thursday we get a basket of vegetables and have to figure out what to do with them. Scallions, carrots, radishes and bok choi: sounds like a stir fry to me. Summer squash: fry it up and put on top of leftover pasta. Kohlrabi: the internet suggests fritters? Several types of lettuce: several types of salads and sandwiches! It's a challenge to use it all up, and the composter is eating more chard and kale than I'd like, but it's kind of fun to have this weekly Iron Chef competition. (If you know what we should do with little turnips, do let me know.)

 

The containers on the deck are starting to produce as well right now, and yesterday it was such a pleasure to go outside, grab a handful of basil and a tomato, still warm from the sun, and turn them into a sandwich using a slab of mozzarella for the bread. Summer food is the best food and life is good.

noideadog: (coffee)

The three types of tomatoes, the marigolds, the basil, the raspberries (not pictured) and even the jalapeños have loved the recent rain and are flourishing. The zucchinis... we won't talk about.

We had a gardener come in this week -- such decadence! -- to take a wise look at the back yard and give us a quote. "I could mow that lawn for you", she said. "We don't have a... oh, you mean the  weeds?" "There's enough wild grass and clover in there that if I brought in my little electric mower it would become a lawn" "Take my money!"

 

So we're maybe going to have a lawn like grown up people, except it'll be a lawn that's not quite convinced it is one, which is of course the kind of grown up people we are too. (Mortgage, baby, whatever. But grass that's all the same height... that's an adult lifestyle right there!)

 

The gardener lady is going to do a bunch of other things, like removing some of the excess soil that mudslides out of the flowerbeds every time it rains, getting the ivy under control, planting out our tragic apple trees, and mulching... whatever it is that one mulches.

 

"And I can trim back that wisteria for you" "... ?" " That's this one on the back wall." "Oh, I like that one! It planted itself last year." It turns out that gardeners are great. I wish I'd hired her years ago.

noideadog: (coffee)
Elizabeth, E, Seamus, EJ, LJ, Kidface, Eliza, SpaceFrog, Lizabiz, Liz, Fizz, Spud, Piglet, Bald Cat, Grumpkin, Poppyseed. Our many-named baby is six months old! It's been the nicest time and the most exhausting and the most terrifying and the most fun. I guess everyone says things like this, because getting a kid comes with useful brain damage that makes any road-not-taken comparisons very suspect, but I'm so glad we did this. So glad! Is it objectively better? It _feels_ like it is, but it's impossible for me to tell.

At six months old she looks less like a bewildered baby and more like a small kid. She talks a lot, using words that sound like a language we don't know. She laughs. Oh my god it's so good. I hoist her up into the air on my knees and she grips my fingers and makes these big capital-D smiles and laughs like this is the funniest thing that ever happened. She laughs at stupid faces, at nonsense words, at falling over. Sometimes she laughs just because someone else is laughing. How does she know to do that? I don't know!

She can't crawl, but she has invented a ridiculous mode of perambulation where you push your face into the ground, brace your legs to make an arch, then flop. It hasn't occurred to her to use her arms for any part of this operation; the face does the heavy lifting. It works: she no longer stays where she's put. I have woken to find her looming over me, jaws wide, two tiny razor-sharp teeth glinting in the moonlight, gigantic baby bobble head moving jerkily around as she searches for something to chew on. It's a little unsettling at 4am.

She likes the baby in the mirror. She's just discovered how great it is to kick the water in the bath. She thinks peas are amazing and carrots are weird. She loves the bright pictures in The Snowy Day, but is also fairly attentive when I want to read Dr Seuss. When she thinks really hard, she looks cross, but isn't, just like Joel does when he's thinking really hard. I like to watch her contemplate things. I wonder about what she decides.

People in work say "How's the baby?" and I can feel myself light up as I think of a hundred things I want to enthuse about. I say "She's amazing :-D" and "She just did this new thing, let me tell you!", and honestly, I do know that other people's babies are not intrinsically interesting, and I try to rate-limit myself, but, dudes, she's so cool. I really enjoy having her. She's a great baby.

Here's a bunch of pictures.
Elizabeth 4-6 months.

Elizabeth, May 19, 2013
noideadog: (coffee)
Some livejournal folks are blogging what they had for dinner, and today I will Participate in a Meme. Here's my dinner, in blogular format:

So, Joel asked "What do you want from seamlessweb?" and I said "No! I shall eat something from our fridge just like an adult would". This is not a normal response for me, and maybe I regretted it a bit as he ordered great Chinese food from Tofu in Park Slope and I extracted half a mozzarella and a bag of wilted basil and no Kerrygold because we put it all on the garlic bread on Thursday (and, seriously, that was three quarters of a block of Kerrygold and the garlic bread was an appetiser for a dish that was made mostly out of cheese. How are we still alive?). And I said "huh" and "well" and checked two or three more times to make sure that nothing else in this quite full fridge could be converted into food, but vermouth and apple sauce and old carrots do not a dinner make, even when you have two kinds of every condiment that has ever been sold.

So I went over to the bakery on the corner and I said "Hey, I have a mozzarella and I need bread to put it on" (because after five years living here I still don't know what any kind of bread is called, and this is my survival strategy: I lay out the problem and let them solve it) and the bakery lady said "You need an Italian" and she sold me a soft and crusty white loaf that felt pretty fresh even though it was 8pm. Also, the bakery was still open at 8pm because this is the city that never sleeps (until 9pm), and that's a thing I love about living here.

I took that home and sliced up a lot of the mozzarella and salted and peppered the holy hell out of it, and washed the basil and put it on top, and dug around in the pantry to see if we had any sardines and we did. The pantry is really a converted coat closet, but we have airs. I fried up the sardines in the olive oil they were canned in, which has the side-effect of making the entire house smell vibrantly like sardines, and to be clear I don't just mean the apartment, I mean the upstairs neighbours are probably like "did we buy the world's least likely air freshener? What were we thinking" and if you think sardines are amazing, then that's delightful, and if you hold the exact opposite opinion, well, you're Joel and I'm lucky to not have been divorced yet.

25% of the sardines found their way into the cats, as was laid out in the ancient covenant, and I poured the rest on top of the mozzarella and wrapped the bread around it, lamenting the Kerrygold we didn't have, and ate it in about 45 seconds while paying the co-op's water bill online.

I occasionally have classy dinners, but today was not a classy dinner day.
noideadog: (monkey!)
ORIGIN 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Princes_of_Serendip

Accidents and sagacity, my friends! I am thoroughly delighted by this etymology :-D
noideadog: (bike)
The non-baby-related excitement in my life is that I bought a new bike. It's a Novara Transfer, a "european-style" bike, the dude in the shop said, which I think means that it's the kind of bike you enjoy if you like trundling around the city on a nice sunny day and not if you like to weave in and out of traffic at forty miles an hour while wearing lycra. Since I'm firmly in the first camp, I think I'm going to love it. It's the kind of bike that should have a basket, and ideally the basket will have a baguette sticking out of it, but a bag of bagels and a travel mug of coffee probably works too.

It arrives next weekend. I can't wait.

Here's a review: http://open.salon.com/blog/familyonbikes/2011/05/08/rei_novara_transfer_a_review
noideadog: (monkey!)
Our baby's a month old! At this time on December 7th, my water had broken while I was coding[1] and I was wondering whether I'd have time to submit a half-working version of the project before we had to go to the hospital. Nope! At midnight the contractions started and eight hours later we had a little Gollum lookalike of our very own, all covered in birth-goop and yelling the place down.

A month already. Without unusual events or notable weekends to demarcate time, it doesn't feel like weeks are passing. We feed and clean the baby. We do small recreational things that don't take a lot of brain power. We go out for breakfast. We marvel at how much we adore this small person and discuss minute changes in her abilities. I pump milk. Joel does laundry. He introduces her to Dave Brubeck ("Listen for the change in time signature here"). I take her for walks around the neighbourhood and tell her about being a New Yorker ("Don't make unnecessary eye contact, but it's always ok to compliment people's dogs"). We've figured out a pretty good schedule which gives both of us some time off. It'll get much harder once work and real life come back into play, but for now it's fantastic to just watch her booting up.

Babies don't change that much in the first month and at the same time the difference is remarkable. She's growing rapidly, which is a relief. She no longer feels fragile. She reacts to sounds and she now sometimes looks at things and can track slow-moving objects. She grips my finger while I'm feeding her and makes me feel like the best person in the world. She sprawls out on her belly on Joel's chest, arms and legs hugged around him, and falls into her most contented sleep. Humans are her favourite furniture.

She searches her surroundings for sources of milk, mouth open to the air like a baby bird. I hold her upright to make her burp and she flails a little sticky, milky face against my collarbone in case I'm hiding a spare nipple there. She doesn't cry yet, but she makes furious frustrated animal sounds when we're slow about feeding her. She has feeding frenzies. We call her Captain Sharky.

We swaddle her in a sheet and it looks like a toga and she throws one arm above her head (about an inch above her head: she has stubby arms) and we make impassioned speeches to the Roman senate on her behalf ("Friends, Romans, fellow babies. How long must we wait for the milk we have been promised?"). Music makes her calm. She likes voices. I've discovered that I like reading out loud (it's likely correlated with a love for the sound of one's own voice) and she and I read classics like The Great Railway Bazaar and Happy Pig Day.

It's _lovely_. I like it so much. Part of me can't wait for major developmental milestones -- all of the smiling and gurgling and moving around -- but mostly I don't want this time to end. Real life can back off for another few weeks.

If you like baby pictures, here's an album of the first month in chronological order:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Elizabeth First Month


[1] Approximate next thoughts: "oh god, the new sofa!... oh, come on, I _just_ figured out how to write this, can't it wait half an hour?... I should call the doctor".
noideadog: (natural dancer)
Last night I read kidface her first book, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. It's a beautiful story about a little girl going out at night with her dad to look for owls. The writing perfectly evokes the stillness of a snowy night and the companionable silence between two people who understand each other, and the pictures are gorgeous too: it won the Caldecott medal for children's book art in 1988. It's a delight to read out loud. It may also be nice to listen to, but Elizabeth's opinions on it are hard to interpret. She mostly stayed awake.

The other first for yesterday evening was our first time giving her a sponge bath. Afterwards I wrapped her up in her towel-with-a-hood (grr.. it has trains on it, so the label describes it as "boy towel"; how the hell can a towel be gendered?) and put her to bed, whereupon she explosively crapped, chucked milk down her front and into her neck folds, and then peed over any parts of her that she'd inadvertently missed. She was clean for two whole minutes. Because we are ridiculously enchanted by everything this kid does, it was more endearing than anything else, but I bet that changes over time :-)

Today I achieved the ambitious two-part goal I'd set for myself: 1) I wore clothes that weren't pyjamas. 2) I left the house. We're definitely making progress! Tomorrow I'd like to do those things again and also brush my teeth before 5pm, but this may be trying for too much.

It's surprisingly easy to be contented with this lifestyle. I mean, not forever -- I hope we'll get some structure soon and that I'll do non-baby things again -- but there's something nice about having a single, well-defined goal and working towards it. I'm enjoying getting to know this excellent small person.
noideadog: (monkey!)
Well, we made a baby and she is fantastic. Elizabeth James Votaw was born at 08:28 on Saturday, December 8th, 2012 and came home to Brooklyn on Monday evening. I've been waiting for ten uninterrupted minutes to write about her here, but it's looking like she'll be in college before that happens, so I'll link to the gplus post I wrote during the last uninterrupted ten minutes and leave it at that for now :-)

elizabeth

PS: parenthood is terrifying and also the happiest thing ever.
noideadog: (meerkat)
We have no hospital! As I mentioned before, NYU flooded and they moved us to Mount Sinai. That filled up, so we moved again to Downtown. And now Downtown is overcrowded, so we're getting bumped again. Our doctor says that the Manhattan hospitals are not exactly throwing their doors open to refugees, and we may end up somewhere in Brooklyn. That would suck terribly for the NJ patients, but it might be ok for us. The other way around would be less ok: my kid is not getting born in Jersey. (Sorry, Jersey.)

It's funny that I spent so much time comparing hospital philosophies and facilities at the start -- I picked our doctor based on her connection to NYU Langone, not the other way around -- and at this point we'll be happy if we don't have to present ourselves to A&E at grubby LICH.
noideadog: (coffee)
Fifteen more hours of on call and then I'm on maternity leave! I waver between finding this ridiculous and feeling that it's actually about time: on one hand, I'm still chipper and energetic most of the time and The Company could get another couple of weeks' work out of me; on the other, I'd prefer to spend these days walking a lot and taking naps instead of sitting in an office chair and defending my belly on the subway at rush hour. On the other other hand, I have to go find food for myself now? What do people eat when they don't have five Google cafeterias and a coffee bar catering to their every whole-food-organic culinary notion? Do I know how to cook anything that isn't breakfast? I don't have the right life skills for a staycation.

This part of Brooklyn is baby-oriented enough to be able to support a new pregnancy mailing list every month. December2012babies is full of activity right now, with a few early babies, a lot of anxiety and tons of exhausted teachers and hairdressers and other doers of real jobs who'll be working right up until their due dates and even afterwards. I'm staying quiet: I can't really admit that "Yeah, we get four weeks off in advance, but I was really enjoying my project so I only took three", can I? Poor teachers, especially. I can't imagine.

Anyway, on call ends at 1am and the kid can come when she wants after that... though we do have Billy Connolly tickets for Thursday, so no rush.

Of course we're likely still weeks away, but things are definitely shifting around in there and every day brings new and exciting phenomena. I can mostly tie my own shoelaces again! Sometimes I snore while awake! It's a time of great indignity. Strange biology too: at 2am I was losing at Go against my phone and wondering whether this new kind of intermittent twitchy back pain that had arrived was going to develop into something interesting. Spoiler: it didn't and my secondary on call didn't get a late night "tag, you're it!" phone call. So a regular Sunday morning it is.
noideadog: (shutup)
What a cranky and difficult day. Nothing was good today and everything went wrong and there was no obvious reason for any of it. Joel says "It's because you didn't light box yesterday" and I say "No, it's because every goddamn thing is stupid." I'm medicating with Bach, a purring cat and a lot of pillows. (Joel: "the Pillow Of The Month Club called; they wondered if you meant to take out that third subscription.". Oh, Joel's on a roll today.)

Today was a day of technological failure, hanging browsers, crashing IM clients, wedged phones, laggy infrastructure, upgrades that didn't and -- really, this seemed a bit unnecessary -- an adjustable desk that chose today to stop adjusting. Seriously, desk? You too? That said, the fax I needed to send this evening went out on the first attempt, so maybe this was some sort of technological karma: you need to build up a lot of broken crap to balance out a fax machine that does what you want it to do.

But even the reason for the fax was annoying! Our baby-delivering hospital, the sleek, modern NYU Langone, got flooded in the storm, and we've been bumped to the less salubrious NY Downtown. Right, lots of people had actually bad storm outcomes and we're going to not whine about it (apart from right now, when I'm absolutely going to whine about it, but then it'll be out of my system I promise), but it does seem to be a step down in terms of facilities and attitude. It'll be more 'hospitally', I think. Well, we'll know more when we take a tour, but for now the most visible impact is that we change from sending off crisp downloadable pdfs to badly photocopied faxes. I filled out the labour and delivery admission form today and was bemused to note that after the blurry lines for "Name", "Address", "Date of birth", "Race" and "Gender" (which, in itself, is an interesting question to see on a maternity form), the next question was "Mother". What? Whose? I added a cover sheet to the fax, like it was 1994 or something, and included my email address for any followup questions.
noideadog: (monkey!)
Oh, dudes, I'm having such a nice long weekend. Thanksgiving is a great holiday. No stress, no obligations, just eating too much, taking naps, doing things that are fun, and appreciating all that is good in your life. Those are things I like! Usually we've gone to Joel's family in Las Cruces or Seattle, but this year we can't stray so far from home, so we've had to entertain ourselves. Which we did: Joel made enchiladas and I made biscuits (in the American definition of the word, which means 'scones that you don't have to count as dessert'), and that was about as energetic as it got on Thursday.

I'm trying to streamline the biscuit recipe so I can make them for breakfast on Sunday mornings without (a) taking more than ten minutes of prep time or (b) covering myself and the kitchen in flour. The ideal workflow here is that Joel goes out to get the coffees, I have biscuits in the oven by the time he gets back, and he makes Julia Child-style omelettes while I set the table. And then we do a Thursday NY Times crossword while eating eggs wrapped in biscuits. I won't deny that I have simple needs, but this seems to me like the best of all possible Sunday mornings. After three practice runs, and having to eat 12 biscuits each (in the name of science), I think we've got it all figured out.

On Wednesday, Tiarnan and I went to see Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway. It was great fun -- it's much funnier and louder than I expected and the rhyming is far more entertainingly ridiculous -- and it was a while afterwards before my brain stopped trying to squeeze everything into iambic pentameter. Which reminds me of this.

The other excitement from Wednesday evening was coming home to find the last step of our renovation done and the house pretty much free from chaos: the contractors had called in during the day and installed our ceiling fans. Woohoo! They'd left their ladders and tools though, and I was standing under the speedily spinning fans and wondering about that when I noticed the note that said "ceiling fans are missing screws". So that could have ended hilariously, but it didn't.

It's nice to be almost finished. The insulation works and, between the excellent paint job and the new furniture, this looks like a room that adult humans live in. Putting the pictures back up will make that even more true and so will getting some curtains but, even without those things, the change is remarkable and makes me happy. I've been frustrated by our lack of house-progress over the last three years. It's reassuring to prove that we can make things happen when we try. [ House pictures, if you care for such things].
noideadog: (natural dancer)
We had our childbirth class today. The nurse got us to practice Lamaze breathing exercises and made sure we understood that everything we'd learned from tv was wrong. "If you breathe like they do on soap operas, you'll just be dizzy. We're going to do long slow breaths, with short breaths for the peaks. Do they work? No, of course they don't work! They're just to distract you." I appreciated the honesty.

We talked through all of the ways things could progress and watched as a (largish) plastic doll made its way through a (smallish) plastic pelvis in several unlikely ways. Nobody fainted, but we were all a bit quiet and thoughtful by the end of the day. I mean, I guess I already knew most of this stuff, but I knew it in the interesting theoretical way that you can know things that are on the internet. It's different when the things are supposed to apply to you in some way. And in the next six to eight weeks, most likely. Surely not.

The hospital instructions form doesn't have a checkbox for "all of the drugs please, and also a martini and whatever you're having yourself", but I think they've left room to write it in.

The other thing that's going on right now is that we're insulating the icebox that is our living room. Last months' bathroom renovation was my first ever big house project, and this is my second, and I'm noticeably more comfortable with the process this time around. I'd hire these contractors again. Well, I should wait until it's all done before I pat myself too firmly on the back, but so far I have high hopes... and, of course, much less money than I started with.

Painting is the next thing. I had no good ideas, but people on gplus made good suggestions and we have five kinds of light grey paint to start splodging on walls tomorrow.

So, childbirth, insulation and light grey walls. Are these the riveting topics I expected to be talking about at age thirty four and three quarters? Would you like to hear about how we're changing health insurance providers at work too? Aw, I might be feeling a bit wistful for what I was doing this time last year, because I ended up spending hours on art.com looking at pictures of train stations. Don't you just want to go whereever this lady is going?

I got a print of her, and one of this, and they'll keep me going until it's time to travel again.
noideadog: (chimney rabbit)
They caught the raccoon. I guess Julie's squirrel guys came out yesterday, because we got a mail today inviting us to take a look at it before the trappers took it away to (they claim) release it somewhere on Long Island. I'm a little skeptical about this, but it makes me happy to believe that it will have a new life somewhere rural. Where, as someone commented at breakfast, it'll be all culture-shocked by how shops close early, people vote Republican, and there's nowhere to get good espresso. Sorry for the exile, raccoon. (Or sorry for how you just became a hat. Either way.)

The obvious question here is this: are we sure it's the same raccoon? Do they travel in families? We're being paranoid and keeping the cat door locked up for the next few nights.

I'll have more in my life than raccoons soon, I promise. Bear with me.
noideadog: (chimney rabbit)
Raccoon update: it turns out that Julie, our upstairs neighbour, has already hired a trapper to come out next week and deal with "unusually heavy squirrels" stomping around in her ceiling. Raccoon's days may be numbered.

I feel like we're not living perfectly in harmony with nature here. Since we moved in here three years ago, we've had:

* the aforementioned goddamn raccoon

* squirrels. They haven't come into our apartment, but they prance around the garden, kill our plants and terrorise Julie on the top floor. Trappers/roof repair is a regular line item in our co-op's budget. This year we think we've found the hole they use and have been engaging in complex and boring negotiations with our neighbours to fix it or let us on to their roof to do it ourselves. They've finally agreed.

* pigeons. These don't bother us at all, but the upstairs apartments have a running battle with pigeon poop on their windowsills and we have half-assed conversations at yearly intervals about whether we should, like, maybe do something about it? Mostly we don't.

* mice. Some of the other apartments mentioned them, but we didn't see any until we got Alex. He brings us one from time to time, usually dead, but sometimes still wriggling. I tell him he's a good cat when they're already dead, but honestly it would be ok if he left them outside.

* moths. Hey, the previous owner left these nice lacy curtains. We should keep them and use the fabric for something. [time passes]. Ok, bad idea! BAD IDEA!

* termites, maybe. The last time an apartment in here was sold, the surveyor told us there were termites in the boiler room and would we like to hire him (at an unusually good rate!) to remove them. The co-op voted that we would. I still think we got scammed.

* mosquitos. God, they're vicious. The garden was a wilderness when we moved in, and it took months before we'd found all of the pots of manky standing water that the previous owner had apparently set up for mosquito sexy times. It's been better since that first year, but they still get pretty thick in late summer, especially when the figs are falling on the ground and making a little pats of sugar on the ground.

* ants. One invasion in 2010, but we put down some kind of deterrent and they've stayed out since then. There's still a colony in the garden, which is great because ants are great (so long as they stay outside).

* fleas. Oy, that was a rough first summer. We quickly learned about monthly applications of Frontline for outdoor cats in hot weather and it's been fine since then.

* one tick, found dead. I guess the Frontline works.

We've so far been spared rats, roaches, and (fingers crossed, knock on wood, light a candle) bedbugs.

To balance that out, we get tons of little garden birds (mostly sparrows and cardinals), butterflies and bees, and one morning I met an opossum walking down the street, which was pretty cool. And we get fireflies, some years. Fireflies make up for an awful lot.

Joel's folks get skunks, black widow spiders, scorpions, gophers, ground squirrels and rattlesnakes, so I do realise that we get off lightly up here in the soft Northeast :-)
noideadog: (chimney rabbit)
Tanya: "Wauuuughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!"
Joel (from downstairs): "Are you ok?"
Tanya: "THERE'S A RACCOON IN OUR KITCHEN!!!"

Ok, I've now seen a raccoon. It was ENORMOUS and it had NO FEAR WHATSOEVER. Like, I ran at it to make it leave, and it DIDN'T. It turned around and faced me down, and then it left on its own terms. And Joel locked up the cat door just in time for it to change its mind and try to come back in again. When that didn't work, it walked over to the window and started clawing at the window screen with its little hands. We shone a firesword (this is a ridiculously bright flashlight) at it and it wasn't deterred at all; it came back to the cat door and tried hard to break through and get back in. And then -- this is the bit where I just about lost my shit -- it climbed up the fire escape ladder as nimbly as a monkey, presumably to try the windows of the apartment upstairs.

Did I mention that it was enormous? And fearless in a way that animals mostly aren't? We're mildly concerned about rabies and will be keeping the cats in for a while. And we've barricaded and taped closed the cat door, because a little plastic lock is not keeping that thing out.

The other best bit? It wasn't like it had just come in the door: when I met it, it was on its way up the stairs from the bedroom. It must have walked right past where I was coding in the living room, gone through the kitchen, detoured in the bathroom to chew on the toilet paper, then headed downstairs to see what Joel was up to. MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME, RACCOON. DON'T MIND US.

Oh, it's back. It's trying to get in. I'm actually kind of freaked out now.

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February 2014

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