Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yum yum

The official readiness signs for solid food:
- sits mostly unsupported
- 5-6 months old at least
- leans towards spoon with open mouth

The Alice readiness signs for solid food:
- grabs spoon as it approaches
- crams spoon into mouth
- squeals and waves arms, getting cereal on back of head
- crams spoon into mouth again
- gives spoon up begrudgingly
- hollers when spoon is not being refilled fast enough
- refuses to let anyone else control the entry of spoon into mouth

After six months of only breastmilk, I can't believe her enthusiasm for food. My little baby is growing up!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time is just flying on by...

February 7, 2010:

October 31, 2010:

Yes, life is still moving at a difference pace nowadays! Reduced speed it is.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bad parking is apparently a criminal offense.

This morning I dropped my baby off at daycare so I could go to my therapy appointment at 11. (Don't worry, just getting some help working through some normal new-mom transition stuff.) The last time I parked in that building it cost me something stupid like $12 for the 1.5 hours I was there, so I was determined this time to find a spot on the street.

Once I reached the neighborhood I saw an open spot on the other side of the street, but I figured I might be able to get something a little closer. Not being successful at that, I drove around the block and back to the open spot.

The people right in front of that spot were parked at a terrible angle with their head in and the tail of the SUV pointing out a bit into the middle of the road. As you know, this presents a challenge when you're trying to parallel park. The truck had a local food and hunger charity's bumper sticker on it and there was a guy streetside unloading some food into a milk crate. I pondered if this was the charity's location as I pulled forward and back, forward and back, trying to get my station wagon closer to the curb.

I thought to myself, this guy must think I'm an idiot. After all, when I see someone totally botching a parallel park job, I roll my eyes. No one in Seattle can park properly, as far as I'm concerned... and now I'm turning into one of them.

I figured I pretty much got a handle on it and was about to put the car in park when I heard "PUT YOUR HANDS UP! PUT YOUR HANDS UP! GET ON THE GROUND!"

Running towards the SUV on all side were about a dozen of Seattle's Finest, guns drawn. And when I say guns, I include extremely large weapons, not just handguns. About four black police undercover SUVs with their lights blinking pulled up to surround my car and his.

So of course... my hands are up! I know they aren't after me, but I'm still sitting there, with my foot on the brake and my hands in the air, the Top 40 station blaring away on my radio, watching cops and what I can now see are SWAT team members put this guy in cuffs. This guy who's probably in his early 20's and who I had assumed was doing food bank work.

Once the young guy is in custody, a couple of the cops approach the driver's side door of the SUV and take a woman out of there. Of course, with whatever garbage I had going on the radio going I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I could see she was upset. She cries, "what's going on? That's my grandson!" and then she briefly stumbles, as if losing consciousness from the shock of it all, into the arms of the police officer standing next to her. They take her over to the sidewalk and sit her down, and some investigator starts to question her.

"Do we have transport for him?" I hear from somewhere around me. The guns are put away at this point.

You should know that the entire time this is going on, I am debating whether to put the car in park. I keep thinking that it can't be safe to have a car with an automatic transmission in drive while a take-down is occurring and I'm surrounded by weaponry, but I know that I shouldn't put my hands down... because I'm surrounded by weaponry.

Finally some cop approaches my door and says, "it's OK, you can come out now" and one tries to open my door... which is locked, because of the auto-lock feature. I unlock it for him and just sit there in a daze as he opens the door. "Put the car in park," he instructs, and I do, and then he takes me and walks several steps back from my car, which is still running.

"Do you know this guy?" he asks. "Uh, no," I answer. "So you're just parking here randomly?" "Uh huh," I say, and then I laugh, because it's so ridiculous. Then he looks into my backseat and sees my carseat. "You don't have a baby in there, do you?!?" "No, are you kidding? I'd be crying if my baby were with me."

He told me I was OK to go. Of course, I had to go back to my car, turn it off, get my purse, and then go purchase parking and come back and stick it up on my car. I wondered if I should have moved my car but I didn't see the point.

I wasn't really scared by the whole thing so much as I was shocked. Seeing all the guns were pretty scary. I wonder now if any of them were trained on me, just in case I was an accomplice or something.

The other thing I realized as I headed back up the block to my appointment is that all of those police officers were sitting around waiting to do their sting, and they had to WAIT because I was spending several minutes trying to fix my terrible parking job. It's not clear to my why they came at the exact moment they did... I assume they didn't want me to get out of my car first... but I'm just imagining the chatter on the radio about this. "Uh oh, some lady is trying to park there... this is taking forever!"

Once in the waiting room of the therapist's office I happened upon a newspaper story of a homeless guy who just got four rounds in the chest and died when some cop saw him "standing on a corner with a knife." Apparently the guy was deaf in one ear and was well known enough in the neighborhood as a kind of harmless drunk. The knife he was holding was a three-inch whittling instrument. Of course the story is all very vague about how it could have happened, but at that point I really felt spooked.

Naturally I related all of this to my therapist. He was appropriately empathetic and then told me that there is a wet house in that neighborhood, meaning a shelter for addicts who aren't sober. He agrees with that concept but thinks that it attracts a bad element. I then went on to tell him that I hoped it wasn't just a drug crime they were taking this guy down for. Surely it doesn't take a SWAT team to take down a nonviolent criminal.

Then I started wondering what exactly this kid had done, the one out with his grandma unloading food. Though I'm sure it was something detestable, I couldn't help but feel bad for him, wondering how it had come to pass that he was a suspect being stalked by a dozen police officers, guns drawn, just waiting for him to make the wrong move.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nothing is ever free.

It just so happens that my employer is located in the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle, an area that is exploding right now with the new location of Amazon headquarters, a Tesla dealership, a bunch of biomed companies, a Microsoft outpost, and some other stuff.

With new office space comes new local businesses. Which is great. I am 100% pro local business.

Last Thursday there was a "trade show" in the neighborhood. I put this in quotes because it wasn't really a trade show, it was more like an open house. A coworker convinced me to go because they were serving a large assortment of free food, and handing out bags of swag. Of course, most of that stuff is just garbage anyways (for example, the flyswatter-- guys, there are basically no flies in Seattle!) but sometimes you get something good like a reusable grocery bag.

You trade this free swag for your name and email address, which is fine with me.

I stopped by one booth for our local "wellness center," which is a combination pilates studio, chiropractice, naturopathy clinic, and massage therapy location. They had a Plinko game and with my first disc I won a "free chiropractic assessment and adjustment."

I was kind of excited about this. My daughter is nearly 4 months old and I've been nursing her somewhere on the order of 10-12 times a day (although less now, since I'm back at work). Though nursing in public is legal in basically every state, it's pretty common and embraced in the Seattle area, so I wasn't always at home propped up with boppy pillows and in an upright posture like I was supposed to be. For example, yesterday I nursed in the front seat of my (parked) car before we went into Ikea, on Friday I nursed on the ground at a park after my walk, and just about every day I prop her up and nurse while I'm hunched over on my laptop. 2-3 times a night I also sit with one leg up on an easy chair and fall asleep.

(The dangers of falling asleep in a chair while nursing in the middle of the night is a post for another day. Perhaps some parents will understand the strange phenomenon of "losing" hours in the middle of the night from passing out in a chair.)

The grand result of this is that my lower and upper back are sore and stiff and for the first time ever last week I got a tension headache that started in my neck, which also is becoming stiff.

This morning I had my appointment. I dropped my daughter off at daycare on my day off (yay, best mom ever) and drove over.

In the waiting room I filled out 6 pages of paperwork with my medical history and watched other patients come in and drape themselves across what appeared to be pilates machines and lie there before their appointment times with various body parts hanging in slings. It was all a little strange. With some hesitation I hand them my health insurance card as well, knowing that I would refuse any service that would bill to them. After all, this is a free appointment, and because my insurer is an HMO and my employer, I'm not in the practice of pretending like billing them for services is actually "free."

I go in and speak with the chiropractor, he re-asks all the questions about my pain, makes me attempt to touch my toes (which I unfortunately cannot), bend backwards, bend sideways, twist, etc. All in front of a full length mirror, which is great for the ol' postpartum self esteem. Then he makes me lie down and presses here and there, asking me where I feel pain.

After all this he has his assessment: my lower back, upper back, and neck probably all have problems.

So, right. That was why I was there, after all.

Then he hits me with the kicker: in order to continue, he has to X-ray these three locations. Because they have already (conveniently) checked up on my insurance coverage for me (did I give them permission to do that? I guess I did), they know that my insurance doesn't cover it. X-rays are $60 a pop.

I'm standing there looking at the guy. A bit confused, I clarify, "so you want me to get $180 worth of X-rays before you can do any adjustments?"

"Well, yes," he says.

I tell him I'm going to have to refuse at this time and then I make a hasty exit while he announces to the receptionist, not quietly, that I'm going to "look at my other options and let them know." Glad to know that the people lying around slung up world's oddest waiting room are privy to that information.

In the car on the way to the grocery store I get a bit angry about this. I'm a skeptic and I don't go in for this woo stuff, and chiropractice really is part of that movement. There's evidence to show that it helps with some low back pain, but there is not evidence to show that it helps with, among other things it claims to, sinus problems, kidney trouble, cancer, headaches, joint pain, vision problems, dizziness... or basically anything else. This all was passing through my mind as I was looking over a diagram in the waiting room that was connecting the vertebrae to all the other body parts and body systems. It's all unsubstantiated woo, and there I was supporting it. It made me feel uneasy.

In addition, I gave them an opportunity to find out if they can bill my insurance for the privilege of irradiating me three times. As it is I already have to fight with my dentist's office over whether they REALLY need to take X-rays every.single.year. Frankly there are too many people close to me with cancer right now for me to want to jump at the opportunity to subject myself to more radiation. Especially in my lower back, which is the area that contains all my reproductive organs.

In summary, I'm going to have to trust my gut about things. The thing about chiropractice that I knew going in was that no matter what they were going to do to me that day, it would be recommended that I keep coming back over and over. After all, it's not in their benefit to actually fix anything, because they need to be able to squeeze me and my insurance for that next dollar. I had just hoped that they would maybe doing something today that would make me feel a little better, but they didn't feel any obligation to go that far. Which perhaps they shouldn't, because after all, I wasn't paying them anything.

Furthermore, I don't need to get myself in a situation where someone's trying to convince me of a bunch of hooey that's not evidence-based, just like I wouldn't go somewhere and have someone tell me the color of my aura, the balance of my chakra, the direction of my body's energy flow, or the type of scented oil I have to keep at my front door to bring money into my life.

For now, I'm going to have to help my back by not hunching over all the time, and exercising again. If that doesn't work, I'm going to have to pursue what the research says will actually help me, and then go and spend money to get that treatment fair and square.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Big day of fail.

Woke up at 5:30am after a fitful sleep. Husband took me to the airport for a big exciting business trip to... wait for it... the other side of the state.

Got myself into the world's slowest security line. I left the corporate laptop at security, a move that could have lost me my job had I been unable to retrieve it. Luckily they still had it when I went waddling back there... naturally I had traveled through half the airport at that point. By the time I made it back to the gate I had round ligament pain (maybe?) and no time to eat my breakfast.

Sat next to a guy on our comically tiny commuter plane who also had wide hips and we spent the flight trying to squirm away from each other. He pretended he wasn't too annoyed that I wanted to read the paper, I pretended I didn't notice he was annoyed.

I went to Spokane because I am interviewing people for a temporary position. One interview canceled while I was in the air, saying she was only interested in permanent positions. (Naturally this didn't occur to her until I had already spoken to her twice and it was the day of her interview). The other interview didn't bother to show up and didn't answer the phone or email. Kind of embarrassed myself with the gal at the security desk by coming out to tell her that in fact no one was coming.

I had one other phone interview scheduled which, mercifully, went fine, so I think I at least have a hire for the position. However, I flew across the state to do a phone interview. Hey, good stewardship of company resources, that's me!

Bored myself at Wal-Mart until I realized I was going to be too late to take an earlier flight.

I drove a PT Cruiser that has a turning radius that's so bad it's noticeable when you're trying to make a simple right turn. (Apparently a well-known downside of this car that even the true believers complain about.) There are no gas stations convenient to the airport. I think that's due to some sort of collusion with the rental companies to pay their $14 fee so you don't have to refill the tank if you drive less than 75 miles.

Took another tiny plane home-- at least I got a row to myself. Couldn't accept the proferred free beer from probably the world's last airline that offers free booze-- at that point I could have used one.

Tom picked me up at the airport. Together we sat for 15 minutes at a bridge waiting for a boat to come through.

If my fish gets burned for dinner I'm asking for a refund of my entire day.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I had forgotten that the point of a blog is to, you know, actually write something every once in a while.

When I last posted I had a secret that I wasn't yet sharing with general society: I was pregnant. And in fact, I still am! Nearly 24 weeks now. This is the biggest thing that has happened to me this year, single-handedly destoying my (already pathetic) wardrobe, my social life, and my ability to play soccer.

Now, I'm a long-torsoed person (a.k.a. my legs are short), 5'7", so just a bit taller than the average gal, and started out a bit big to begin with. This means that the journey to look pregnant-not-fat has been a long one that I'm not entirely convinced I'm over the hump yet. Over the bump, maybe? For example, I took a ride on the always-pleasant King County Metro 28 bus to Fremont the other day and despite looming my belly over the sitting passengers in the Old/Gimp section and giving the worst stink-eye I could muster, I was not offered a seat. In fact, someone vacated a seat about 2 stops after I got on and it was quickly snatched up by a guy I had waited at the bus stop with. Granted, he spent his time there holding a full-volume conversation into his Bluetooth and I was wearing a large T-shirt, but still.

What I've found is that when most people reach 24 weeks of pregnancy they already have a lot of things figured out, for example, they know what crib to buy and their nursery already has a theme. I don't know any of this yet because I'm horribly indecisive, my husband is worse, and the baby simply isn't cooperating.

I went and got my Big Ultrasound two days before Christmas with the goal of creating the Best Christmas Present for Grandparents Ever: the Big Reveal about the baby's gender. I dragged my husband along to the ultrasound and we had a comprehensive look at baby's parts for over an hour, none of which elucidated the appropriate genitalia. Word on the street is that if you can't tell it's probably a girl, which is the assumption I have now. Unfortunately I can't yet bring myself to go to one of those private places and pay for an ultrasound (my Cadillac Health Care Plan spoiled me, you see). I get to find out next month, maybe, because I talked my doc into doing one at her office. If that fails, forget it, I will be one of Those People and just go to one of those for-profit ultrasound clinics that represent a vast misuse of medical resources. So sue me.

I've been trying and failing not to be jealous about people who are weeks behind me, gestationally, and already know whether they're having a boy or girl. I should really be tempering myself because I realize full well that some people have a hard time conceiving and everything appears healthy and gosh, compared to Haiti, life is really good, but still.

I'm going to have to work on posting at least once a week. In the meantime I have to share what I did to one of my creepier-looking ultrasound pics. All ultrasound pics are creepy, but this one was right up there.

And because I have no reverence for the Miracle of Life at all, I did this to it. Space Cadet in training, due to arrive in May.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is why some people aren't cat people.

When people find out that I have a cat, and ask me about the cat, I come right out and tell them that she is a mean, evil little thing who hates most everyone and will probably hate them too. But it's not personal or anything.

There are two things that happen at this point. People who hate cats will nod and accept this as proof of what they've been saying all along about cats. They might even put in a plug for their dog preference. People who like cats or even a few souls who adore living creatures in general will consider my cat a challenge they can overcome with their charms.

I love these people. They are so sweet, but so misguided.

An average misanthropic feline, which is a not inconsiderable number of them, will simply avoid people altogether. These are the famous cats that their owners "never see" but who seem to consume their food after everyone goes to bed. They hide in upstairs bedrooms when people come over. They get on top of tall cabinets and stare down, ignoring all the "here kitty kitty." The braver among this set might come out long enough to grab the treat you bribed them with before disappearing again. This is not abnormal cat behavior. It's annoying though, which is why there are people who don't like cats.

However, even a cat that doesn't like most people usually still likes some people, and there is a set of standard behaviors that cats may respond to. You sit (preferably in the living area where their owner normally is), you reach out your hand to them, you talk softly, you're patient, and if you're one of the few people around, even a shy cat will come out to investigate and might come by to deposit his scent on your hand or your purse. Cat people treat this as a victory, a reflection that they "know cats." Fair enough.

My cat is not like this. It's not just that she doesn't like people. She actively, aggressively, and vengefully hates people. Basically everyone in the world but me.

My cat has appeared out of nowhere in the middle of a social event we're holding to hiss at people. Just to hiss! No other apparent reason. And heaven help the poor person who tries to stick out a hand towards her. She scratches. Two parties ago she scratched me while I was trying to calm her down, and I was her third victim that night. I will never make that mistake again. I still have the scars.

If I'm petting her and she's tired of it, she'll bite me. Same for my husband, who is about the only other person in the world she tolerates. Doesn't just walk away, bites. Believe me I have tried to look for the signs that she'll do this. I've even tried stopping the petting before she gets tired of it. But inevitably she will nudge me for more attention until the exact moment she hates it and can bite me.

She likes to get my husband out of bed in the morning under the guise of needing breakfast. However, he will not be able to feed her and go back to bed, like one could even with dogs. She will harass the hell out my husband by poking him in the armpits. She developed this skill since my husband and I have lived together, since I'm a heavy sleeper and never used to wake up for her. She learned, late in life, the fine art of morning harassment.

If you have cats you might have seen them grabbing things with their front legs and kicking them with their back legs. If you replace that object in your mind with a bunny rabbit you realize that this is the act of eviscerating-- yes, literally tearing the guts out of the animal the cat has hunted down. Besides toys, my cat like to eviscerate pillows, our box spring, our couch, the chairs around our dining tables, boxes of tissues, and our feet when they are under the covers.

I could go on.

In light of all this you'd hope that a cat this, well, unpleasant, would at least have the decency to do the job cats were domesticated to do: kill pests. My husband and I love everything about our townhouse except the spiders, which I've decided are unavoidable considering all the trees around our house (and it's easier to say this than realize that our house might actually be infested with spiders, yay.) Periodically a spider will find its way on to the floor, at which point the cat will make it her best friend.

Yes, really. There is nothing in the world that our cat will treat with more gentleness and respect than a spider. She will sit and watch spiders all day. Occasionally she will reach out and give them a tender poke, as much encouragement as anything else. This floors my husband and I every time. We beg and plead for her to step on it, pounce on it, kill it deader than dead! At least to prove she has some shred of moxie that isn't simply for hating people. Alas, it's not to be. All spiders in our house die at the hands of people or of natural causes like old age or heart disease.

We've decided she does it out of spite, which would be just like her, so we've made a pact to act like it's OK that she buddies up to the local arachnids just to see if it will make her kill one just to rebel against us. We'll let you know how it goes.