Posted on Wed, Apr. 3rd (2013) at 10:23pm
A couple of weeks ago, I reached a really dark place. Part of the darkness was feeling inadequate about how dark I felt. I was watching the people around me go through problems around parents with horrible illnessess (seriously, more than one of these), and I was feeling utterly depressed because, when you really boiled it down, I was having trouble making friends at work. It didn't make me feel less dark. But then a couple of things happened. (SERIOUSLY, WHY TF CAN I NO LONGER GET ENTER TO WORK ON LJ????) (oooh! carriage returns work in Firefox!)
- I talked to another person on my team
- I talked to my doctor.
When I talked to the other person on my team and found out that they were completely miserable too, it helped me shift my thinking. I'd been trying and failing to connect with my team, and I'd viewed it entirely as a personal failing. When I found out that there was broad misery on my team, I realized it was just a problem, and I can solve problems. That was incredibly helpful, but I also talked to my doctor, and after multiple bouts of tears, she gave me the lowest possible dose of antidepressants. Honestly, although I am not in any way glad that the rest of my team is miserable, I'm grateful to have found out what was going on, because it gave me something tangible to solve. I realized that everyone in the team is new, and we're running into (I think) 4 things:
In general, in any of these situations, you'd fall back on the sense of community you have with your team to pull you through, but 4. we're all new, so we have no sense of community, and we're having trouble building one because we're seated all over the freaking building. So. I decided there was nothing I could do about the first three things, but I could help build the sense of community. So I scheduled a morale event. And I've started potluck happy hours. Maybe I'll start lunchtime walks next. But having "build a sense of community" turn into a problem to be solved instead of a personal failure to connect has been HUGE.
- Incredibly competent people in new roles who are scrambling to come up to speed and falling back on insecure behaviors while they do
- people who are in a steady role but who have a manager in a new role who is coming up to speed and falling back on insecure behaviors
- people in a stable role with a stable manager who are asked to convert to all new processes for getting things done (agile).
On the Dr front, honestly, I *do* think the prescription is helping. There has been a day or two where I straight up forgot to take the tiny pill, and I've been climbing stairs thinking, "Wow, my muscles feel so sluggish. Am I coming down with something?" before realizing what I forgot, but I really feel like I was on the rational end of all of this (as such things go). I was able to go to the doctor and say, "Here are the crazy reactions I'm having to things at work. It's not normal. Please help." But I really think that the one co-worker who came into my office and listened to me and then related their own misery was HUGE in terms of kicking me into a constructive frame of mind. I'll never be grateful that that person was miserable, but I'm profoundly grateful that their misery helped change my perspective.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 4th (2012) at 9:10pm
Our last day in Austin, we ate at Kerbey Lane on our way out of town. I squee'd over gluten free gingerbread pancakes (SO GOOD), and HRH had Bacon Pesto Chicken. I only had one taste, but it was so good, it became clear that we'd have to make up our own version. Here's what we did:
4 thick cut slices of peppered bacon
2 large chicken breasts
2 T basil pesto (we used Cucina Fresca brand)
4 slices of fresh mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Wrap the chicken breasts in the bacon and place in glass baking dish
- Bake the chicken for 30 min and remove from oven
- Cover the tops of the chicken breasts with the cheese slices. Cover the cheese slices with the pesto.
- Put the baking dish back in the oven for 15 minutes.
I'm not sure it's as transcendently yummy as the Kerbey Lane version, but it took almost no time to assemble and was really really good.
Posted on Mon, Sep. 10th (2012) at 9:02pm
I used to (and I suppose I still do) have a friend named Richard who challenged my worldview on a regular basis. It was my favorite thing about him, really. One night a couple of years ago, he and HRH and I were out drinking beers, and I made some disparaging remark about someone, probably about them not being very smart. Richard shook his head and said, "You say that like you know what's important, but you've written this guy off because he's not smart enough. You don't know. He could have superpowers. He could have x-ray vision, and you'd never know, because you've dismissed him for being stupid." I think he was just tweaking me, but it made me think about things nonetheless.
Recently, I seem to have forgotten that lesson, because I think I've been considerably more judge-y than is strictly speaking necessary. I mean, just tonight, I was flipping through pictures of Jessica Simpson and feeling vaguely superior since she had her baby a month and a half before me. She's someone that I'd honestly sort of dismissed (despite the fact that I find shoes that I really like that turn out to be Jessica Simpson brand with disturbing frequency), and that was the point of view that I was looking at her pictured from when I noticed that one of the captions said, "Jessica Simpson runs errands in New York on Nov. 30, 2012."
"She looks a lot better there," I thought. Then I thought, "Wait a minute... must be a typo."
Then I clicked to the next picture. The caption was, "Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson head to lunch in Los Angeles on Dec. 27, 2012."
"HOLY CRAP!!!" I thought. "Richard was right! Jess can TIME TRAVEL!!"
I totally underestimated her.
Also, future Jess has really pulled it together from a weight loss point of view.
Also, the Mayans were wrong.
Posted on Sun, Sep. 2nd (2012) at 11:00pm
The Noodle Boy has the ability to do some truly startling things from time to time. He'll be just sort of hanging out when an event of such volume will emerge from the general vicinity of his diaper that people who are in the room with him will jump. We were 2/3 of the way to Leavenworth on an unplanned outing when just such an event occurred. Then it occurred again. And again. HRH and the iBoo were inside on a quest for a restroom. I was startled.
When I hauled the Noodle around to the back to address the situation, I was confident that I had a change of clothes for him in my bag. When I got them out, I saw that they were the wrong size, but I held them up and saw that they were still about the right length. Then I realized that his knees were pulled up to his chest, and my confidence waned. 15 minutes later, I was left with a (previously full) mostly empty bag of wipes and a clean baby who was wearing only a diaper and had no prospects for wearing anything more any time soon. We traveled on to Leavenworth where I had some hopes of finding some overpriced baby lederhosen and perhaps a dirndl for the iBoo. I found neither. What I did find was a t-shirt (that was apparently designed by Jon Bon Jovi) with a design vaguely reminiscent of a yakuza tattoo and some matching pants in a "specialty children's clothes" boutique in the tourist trap section of Leavenworth. The iBoo went in with me to supervise the fashion selections for her baby brother. I was planning on picking up something for her as well, but she didn't seem interested in anything, although I saw a bright red tutu with matching fairy wings, wand, and headband that I thought would be good for Halloween. It became clear that I'd misinterpreted the situation when she threatened to pee all over her dress in order to secure the same treatment as the Noodle. I mean, to be fair, from her point of view, he was getting, for all intents and purposes, a present as a reward for having shat all over himself. I just wanted to get out of there, and I'm mildly ashamed that we now own the tutu. I feel somewhat vindicated, though, by the fact that I've told her that she can't have the ExtortionTutu until Halloween.
It was seriously the world's most expensive diaper, but at least I have the basis of her Halloween costume now, and the Bon Jovi tshirt is pretty cool.
Children are such a blessing.
Posted on Sun, Aug. 26th (2012) at 10:12pm
This last week was supposed to be my first back at work, and it sort of was. I was thinking that it'd all go well. The Boy was regularly sleeping from about 10:00pm til about 6:00am. I thought I was the luckiest working mom in the world. On Saturday, he woke up with a stuffy nose. On Sunday, it was 102 degree fever and a trip to Children's Hospital.
I learned something, though. I knew that they freak out more about fevers in babies under 2 months old, and I knew it was something to do with the development of the immune system, but I didn't know much beyond that. It turns out that the blood-brain barrier (the thing that keeps your brain from getting infections) isn't really complete until 2 months, so any bacterial infection the baby picks up could turn (quickly) into meningitis. Whoa. And if there's bacteria and no meninnngitis, the other big possibility is early appendicitis. In any case, there was no bacteria, so they did a viral PCR test, and I got to tell the doctor about how Kary Mullis invented PCR (and won the Nobel prize) because he wanted to mass produce Elvis DNA for sale to tourists.
It turned out to be a "parainfluenza" virus, which is what they were hoping for. In those of us who ae over 2 months old, a parainfluenza virus would appear to result in a couple of days of a sore throat, during which time we try to sort out whether it's allergies or are we actually coming down with something. Then one joint goes seriously out of whack, for me it was my shoulder / neck, for HRH it was his knee. Then there's about 24 hours of every joint in your body hurting something fierce with a 99 degree fever. Then you're on the mend. For people under 2 months, it would seem to result in about 4 days of 102 degree fever. The Boy was not happy.
My day of every joint in my body hurting started Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, I was trying to describe the complete depth of my misery from the evening before. "Yesterday, I just felt...." I grappled for words.
"Grumpy," the iBoo muttered.
"That wasn't exactly what I was planning to say," I replied drily.
The iBoo gave me wide, innocent eyes. "I was just saying that to myself," she said.
"Yes, well you said it to yourself with your outside voice," HRH quipped.
"I can say it to myself inside my head," she replied, "like this. Watch me." She then proceeded to show me a facial exression that could only represent muttering "Grumpy" inside her head. I could see the thought bubble over her head, just as if someone had drawn a little balloon and written "GRUMPY" in it. I've been assured that this means that there's little doubt that she's my daughter. I don't think I ever did get to milk any sympathy out of my misery.
So my first week back at work was really more of a half week. We'll see how next week turns out.
Posted on Sun, Aug. 19th (2012) at 5:06pm
I had a plan. That plan involved browning some Italian sausage, dumping it into a jar of pasta sauce, and pouring it over Tinkyada spaghetti. It wasn't an elaborate plan, but it was mine. This simple plan was, however, stymied by a complete lack of Tinkyada in my pantry. I regrouped. What I did have was Wai Wai rice stick, which is my ersatz angel hair pasta, but it needed something lighter than pasta sauce. Here's what I did:
2 "chunks" of Wai Wai rice stick
1 pound of Iserno's chicken Italian sausage
~1 tablespoon of minced garlic (from a jar)
~1 tablespoon of olive oil
~1/4 cup of cheap white wine
1 can of diced tomato with garlic and onion (undrained)
1-2 pinches of Mediterranean sea salt
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
So, on the topic of Mediterranean sea salt, this is the stuff you can get in a tub at Whole foods, but as far as I can tell, it's just herbes de Provence + sea salt. I put it in a grinder and use it on practically everything. I call it "crazy salt", because it's crazy good. Especially on popcorn.
1. Put some water on to boil, since you aren't going to want to eat raw rice stick.
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic.
3. When the garlic starts to get brown, dump in the Italian sausage
4. Break up the sausage plank and stir it around until it's all nice and browned. This is where I sprinkled it with Crazy Salt.
5. Use the cheap white wine to deglaze the pan
6. Dump your can of tomatoes into the skillet and adjust the temperature so it's simmering.
7. When the water gets to (mostly) boiling, drop the rice stick in for 4 minutes.
8. Drain the rice stick and dump it into a big bowl with the contents of the skillet. Combine thoroughly and serve, garnishing with more cheese if you're into that sort of thing.
When the rice stick came out of the pot, I thought, "Oh dear God, I've gone WAY overboard with the noodles. Did they, like, breed in there?" It turned out, though, that the mass of noodles combined with the "sauce" to make a nice, not too heavily flavored dish. HRH and I had it for dinner. Then I had it for lunch the next day. Then HRH and I had it for dinner that night. I loved it, and even though HRH isn't as big of a pasta fan as I am, he ate it twice, which is more than can be said for a lot of dishes.
Posted on Mon, Aug. 6th (2012) at 11:15am
iBoo: What's that on your shirt?
Me: Von Crankenstein.
iBoo: Who made that for you?
Me: My friend Dylan.
Me: Because he's my friend.
iBoo: Why is he your friend?
Me: Because we were roommates in college.
iBoo: Why were you roommates?
Me: Because we couldn't afford to live on our own.
iBoo: Why couldn't you afford to live on your own?
Me: Because we were students.
iBoo: Why were you sutdents?
Me: So we could get an education and learn to make something of ourselves.
iBoo: Why you want to make something of yourself?
Me: So I could grow up and have you.
Posted on Sun, Jul. 8th (2012) at 6:44pm
You probably know that part of what's been distracting me is the MASSIVE kitcehn remodel that we did that involved destroying effectively half our house and putting it back together again. The scope:
1. Extend kitchen into "dining nook"
2. Vault ceilings in original kitchen to match the rest of the downstairs
3. Raise the floor in the sunken living room to match the rest of the level.
4. Replace all cabinets/countertops
5. Re-frame / replace fireplace
6. Re-floor entire area with oak hardwood
Items 1-6 were managed by Kitchen Plus
. Going into it, we had all sorts of people giving us all sorts of thinly veiled advice in the form of horror stories (or vice versa). Things like, "Wow, deciding on all of those little detains will be incredibly stressful." Things like, "Remember, it'll cost twice as much and take twice as long as they tell you." Things like, "Wow, many marriages don't survive projects of this scale, and you're pregnant, too!" I told them all, "Kitchen Plus guarantees their estimate. It's maybe a little more than the initial estimate of other contractors, but it's solid." I told them, "They have a very detailed plan that they don't start executing on until they have all the materials on hand." I told them, "They guarantee their schedule, and if they run over, they pay us." All of the people who'd done major remodel projects before smiled indulgently at my naivete as we embarked on this journey (except the Beemans, who'd used Kitchen Plus before).
Now at the end, I can tell you that what we paid was exactly what they quoted us. I can tell you that they predicted when they would finish a massive scale project to within an hour of their actual completion time. I can tell you that each day, we knew exactly what they were planning to do and could see the progress they'd made at the end of the day. I can tell you that destroying half of our house and rebuilding it took them only about 6 weeks. I can tell you that we only had one minor issue post-construction, and they came out and took acre of it within a day of us contacting them. I can tell you that everyone who's seen the kitchen now that it's done have been very impressed with the work that they did (including people with construction background). I can tell you that my marriage survived intact, because although it is inherently stressful to have half of your house destroyed, it was not stressful to have Kitchen Plus do it.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, you should not expect that they will give you a quote and there will be no other expenses associated with the project. You should expect that you'll spend up to an additional 25% on top of what they quote you for the following things that are explicitly not included in the quote:
- Kitchen faucet
- New appliances
- New fireplace
- Moving / Storage for all of the stuff you have to move out of the renovated areas
- Stuff you wanted but forgot to specify in the initial plan
And lest you think that category number 6 is the one that'd balloon, for us that category turned out to be about $1000, and it consisted of 1. we asked them to fabricate a hearth out of the same material as our countertops and 2. we asked them to fabricate pull-out shelves for our pantry. The rest of the quote was very complete.
If you have renovation needs in the Seattle area, I definitely recommend Kitchen Plus
Posted on Sun, Jul. 8th (2012) at 1:36pm
The newborn is, as you might expect, nursing, and the 3 year old has, also as you might expect, questions. Yesterday, she asked me to do something with her while I was feeding her baby brother. I said that I couldn't, and she asked, "Why you have to feed my baby brother and Daddy can't? Is it because you hace those things and he doesn't?" She points to my chest.
"Yes," I said.
"So..." she said, pondering things for a moment, "...only mommies have those things and daddies don't?"
"Yes," I said.
She pondered for another moment. Then she pulled up her dress. "But," she said, pointing to a nipple, "I have these things and I'm not a mommy."
"You're a girl," I said, "and because you're a girl, those will get bigger when you get older."
"Oh," she said, lowering her dress. Then a thought occurred to her and she pulled her dress back up again. "Then mine can be down here with yours?" she asked, pointing to approximately the bottom of her ribcage.
"Well," said HRH, "at least you can take comfort in the fact that she didn't point as low as her navel, so you've got that going for you."
Our laughter did not set well with the iBoo, who still insists that the entire incident is NOT FUNNY.
Posted on Wed, Jul. 4th (2012) at 10:16pm
If you're following along on Facebook, you'll probably have gathered that the new little one has arrived.
Some of you may even know that he's been called Rowan Pete Walker Denny. If you know this, then you may wonder how that came to pass... It's actually pretty similar to how his sister came to be Named.
See, with Ivy, we found out that we were pregnant with her on Christmas Eve. I knew I wanted the name Noël in there for my grandfather, and Ivy was a name I just liked, plus it was seasonally appropriate. So Ivy
Noël it was.
With Rowan, I wanted to continue the botanical theme for the first name, but the spelling I favored was Roan. HRH was worried that the spelling would result in him being called "rone" all the time, so I was willing to fall back to the botanical spelling. Also, the first translation of "rowan" is "little redhead," and when he was born, the nurses said, "Oh wow, who has red hair? We don't get meny redheads through here..." I decided that that was a sign that the name choice was a good one. Also, it occurred to me today that we sort of decisively established that we were pregnant on Halloween, and I'd joked that we should figure out a Halloween appropriate name, and one of the uses of rowan in folklore is warding off malevolent magics, so apparently we chose a Halloween-appropriate name in spite of the fact that the aspiration to do so was a joke. Pete is the name of a particularly beloved great aunt of HRH's, so we continue the gender bending middle name. Walker was sort of a last minute addition that was contributed by HRH's team, who asserted that he should try to convince me that he wanted to name our kid after Walker, Texas Ranger. He mentioned this to the iBoo, and she spent the next several months telling everyone she knew that "My baby brother's name is Walker." So it's a joke suggested by HRH's team, but it's included as the iBoo's contribution to the naming process.
So there you go, tiny baby, large name. Eventually he'll grow into it. In the meantime, he seems enamored of his sister, and vice versa. We let her hold him when he should by all accounts have been hungry and fussy, and he just totally relaxed and stared at her. Here's hoping we maintain some element of that in the future.