A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Vey ist mir--boring litany of woes

The Week From Hell continues.

So far, this week has featured:

  • The city deciding this week was the best week to block off all the routes to the babysitter's house, so that it took me 30 minutes to get past one single intersection (four trains plus four lanes cut down to two on two intersecting streets).
  • Every possible thing going wrong that could at work--like this morning, when I couldn't sign onto either of the databases that I'm working on, which took an hour's worth of fiddling around before finding the problem.
  • People ignoring the sign on my office door that, translated from the niceness, meant "GO AWAY", to come in and ask me questions that other people could have answered.
  • A horde of tradesmen grumping and kvetching about having to learn to use a new system.
  • People demanding my attendance at meetings which I don't have time for this week.
  • Beautiful torrents of rain that fell at our office, with only a trace falling at our house.
  • Being able to see my brother, SIL, niece and nephew--who I haven't seen for two years--for all of a day out of the seven days they're in the state visiting family.

All of which resulted in:

  • Me getting furious at OmegaDad because he's known for months now that this week is Hell Week, but he still went out in the field for three days, leaving me to play Single Mom in the midst of all this.
  • Me shouting at poor OmegaDotter Wednesday night.
  • Me feeling guilty.
  • Me giving OmegaDad the cold shoulder on the phone Thursday.
  • Me breaking down in tears on the phone at OmegaDad today.
  • Me weeping on OmegaDad's shoulder when I got home tonight.

The silver lining to all of this is that it's just work stress that will be over with Very Soon Now. There is a definite End in sight; unlike home stresses that I've encountered previously, where it seemed to stretch out forever with no relief. There are people who are dealing with some very serious issues in life right now, and when I read their posts, I slap myself upside the head and try to remember that it could be much worse.

OmegaGranny, in a very motherly fashion, huffed at my workplace via email, asking why they expected so much of me when everyone knows that even Micro$oft can't meet deadlines! The difference being, Micro$oft won't come to a grinding halt if Office and Vista don't make their deadlines, whereas my department will, because the new financial system--going up this weekend--doesn't include this component.

Ah, well. In a few days the crunch will be done, and in a few weeks, this will all be over with. At which point, I will take a week off and sleep late every day, pad around the house in my sweats and t-shirts, and go hiking with my Dawg.

posted by Kate @ 6/30/2006 06:17:00 PM   2 comments

R.I.P. Jim Baen
Most of my readers won't give a hoot, but a few may be SF readers. Jim Baen passed away yesterday, the result of a major stroke. He was 63 years old. He spearheaded Galaxy magazine for a while, then Tor Books, then became the founding father of Baen Books. A great number of the books on my shelves are Baen Books. David Drake's memorial tells his story.
posted by Kate @ 6/29/2006 07:36:00 PM   0 comments

We da peepul
Can you pass the U.S. citizenship test? Here's a sample quiz from MSNBC, taken from the Real Thing. I got 95%; the one I missed had a question about what INS form you use to request citizenship. Which, in my opinion, is pretty silly--that's not a citizenship question, it's a bureacracy question which could change at any time...Now, ask me about INS forms for international adoption--Hah!
posted by Kate @ 6/29/2006 06:58:00 AM   6 comments

The owl and the pussycat went to sea...
...In a beautiful, flag-draped boat. OmegaDad has joked, ever since we moved to Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods, that we were not complying with the HDEW bylaws, covenants and conventions. Oh, we have a dawg--that's required. But we had no canoe on the porch and no decrepit Volkswagen bus parked by the side of the house. (There is a rumor that one of the houses here actually has a VW bus buried in its yard, serving as a septic tank.) OmegaDad is a River Person. He was long before he met me; his most treasured memories of adolescence and early adulthood are of canoes and friends on the water, his deepest and most romantical of friendships were based on river cameraderie. Flowing water is a necessity to his life, and a life without rivers is--well, not worth living, to him. He has wisted after a canoe for years. He has cruised yard sales and perused the Sunday paper. We've missed a few by only minutes, or by lack of dollars in the bank account. He would search eBay for Daggers and Old Towns and find great deals--in, say, Pittsburgh. Or Orlando. Lately, however, he discovered that you could search on eBay by "closest location". Last week, he beckoned me into the office. "Come see this! You've got to see this boat! It is the coolest thing!" he said. Yeah, yeah, I thought. "No, really! Search on 'Betsy Ross canoe'," he said. So I sat down, keyed the phrase in, and saw this canoe. Wooden canoe. Draped in waving flag bunting. Bid so far: $199. Location: One mile from my office, one mile from his office. The story was that the owners had worked with SolarMan, a guy deep into promoting solar energy, on a variety of high school and college solar-powered boat competitions. They had, for the high school level, built 70 or so plywood canoes, and set the kids loose on them. When the competition was done, they had a canoe leftover. This was the canoe. We drove over the next afternoon to check out the canoe. The people were great. The stories were grand. They had begun the canoe in August 2001...then 9/11 happened, and the wife had this extra flag bunting fabric in the house, and they decided to lacquer the boat with the fabric and finish it off, and named it the SS Betsy Ross. It was beautiful. We left. OmegaDad said to me, as he performed a U-turn and headed back down the street, "I want that boat!" He wheedled. He begged. He asked me for a highest price. So he waited until there were 30 seconds left on the auction, posted his highest bid, and... We now have the SS Betsy Ross. Now if only the forest service would re-open the forest, so we can take it out for a test paddle.
posted by Kate @ 6/27/2006 11:02:00 PM   4 comments

Goin' down the rabbit hole
This week is going to be (already is) hellish. The crescendo of events at work is rushing upon us; FY ends on Friday and I have to have the inventory system up and moved from its current abode by Monday. I need to snag a comics character, with its hair all on end, eyes popping, mouth wide open in a great big: "AAGGGHHHHHHH!!!!" I would grab Charlie Brown, but I fear the copyright empire would be onto me in a flat second, so you'll have to use your imaginations. A long way to say real postings might be scarce for the next week. So far today, the kitten has peed upon OmegaDad and Dotter and left a large brown spot on the white (har, don't ever do that!) carpet in the bedroom...OmegaDotter, flinging her kid-sized sleeping bag around to cuddle in, spilled her breakfast ramen all over herself and the table...what's next??? "AAAGGGHHHHHH!!!!"
posted by Kate @ 6/27/2006 07:13:00 AM   0 comments

In which our heroine writhes with envy
"Envy shoots at others and wounds itself" - Old English proverb. So this week is the first round of adoption referrals from China since the Omegas got the Bad Word. People are posting referrals on blogs, on Rumor Queen, and elsewhere. Those of you who have gone through the infertility wringer know how I'm feeling--it's just like that feeling you would get when Yet Another Person announced a pregnancy. It's a whole new facet of the "It's not FAIR!!" world. Oh, don't get me wrong--I'm happy, thrilled for those who have received their referrals. But whereas, pre-OmegaDotter, referrals were exciting harbingers of things to come for us, and post-OmegaDotter, referrals were a misty-eyed, sentimental reminder of what it was like (plus a harbinger of things to come)...now...now it's provoking a lot of miserable and whiny "why me?" emotions. I feel like a sour old maid with pursed up lemon-lips. Wah, wah, wah.
posted by Kate @ 6/26/2006 03:12:00 PM   4 comments

I gotta scratch that itch!
Git yet minds out of the gutter! I'm not talking sex, here, I'm talking something more basic and important! I Gallop On has a cute video featuring her scratching her Percheron Toby, hitting the Sweet Spot...the horse gives every evidence of equine ecstasy, with quivering lips and rolling eyes. As I was watching it, I realized that every mammal I've known has that special spot that needs scratching, and when you hit it, they are Yours For Life. Dogs have their spot right on the top of the rump. I will, occasionally, give the Dawg a good butt scratching. He drools when I do this. Then, when I stop, he will follow me around for fifteen minutes, butting me with his head, mutely demanding more. When I meet dogs owned by acquaintances, after doing the requisite hand-to-nose sniff-and-greet, I attack their rumps, and get the same response. The (as yet unnamed, still) kitten has not quite grown up enough to be a slave to the under-the-chin scratch maneuver, which sends most cats I've known into kitty conniptions, cross-eyed, head-diving, and purring in overdrive. Women...now, women's favorite scratching spot, from my experience, is around the bra strap. A guy who can give a good back scratching around the bra strap is a Keeper. When OmegaDad deigns to use his arthritic fingers on my bra strap itch, I loll my head and beg for more! MORE! MORE! Aside from the well-known crotch shifting maneuver that guys do without thinking of it, OmegaDad's favorite thing in the scratching realm is to back up against a door jamb and scratch his back against it. He claims that he learned this from his adolescent FFA experience with cows who would back up against fence posts to hit their itchy spot, so I know cows have a Sweet Spot as well. The dotter has matured into needing scratching, too--the itch usually appears when I am in the midst of the very girly-girl production of Doing Her Fingernails. Right when she's got fresh polish on. So now, in the middle of very delicate fingernail work, I get interrupted by demands that I scratch her nose, or her chin, or an ear. It's like the itch is held at bay by her knowledge that she can scratch at any time, but when she's held helpless by wet fingernail polish, it leaps to the fore, demanding attention. Yes, yes, there are other itches that need scratching. But there's something deeply satisfying about having someone you know and love attack that itchy spot and Get It.
posted by Kate @ 6/25/2006 10:23:00 AM   2 comments

On to weightier subjects...
The Omega ladies have a Butt Dilemma. They obviously need to either learn to sew or get a tailor on retainer. OmegaDotter has a tiny hiney. She keeps growing up, but not out. She has these long legs (very cute legs, if a proud mama may say so) that officially fit a size 4. Unfortunately, most size 4s--even the ones with the neat-o keen-o adjustable doohickey tabs--are too big around the waistline. This was forcefully drawn to OmegaMom's attention on the day that she tossed some jeans at the dotter, who dutifully put them on, then toddled off to daycare, only to find, upon arrival, that the jeans--even when the aforementioned neat-o keen-o adjustable doohickey tabs were cinched to the max--were falling off OmegaDotter's tiny hiney, like the gangsta pants that teenage boys love to wear. OmegaMom's personal butt problem is of a different kind. Actually, perhaps it is a waist problem, instead. Think of all those Victorian women who went to great lengths to get nicely protruding, rounded bustles to accentuate their tiny (corset-drawn) waistlines. Now think of a 2006 woman, slightly overweight, who has always had a nice waistline, and whose excess weight all goes to a rounded butt (and thighs and hips). So, for many styles of pants, OmegaMom must purchase a size that accomodates the butt, thighs and hips. The problem here is that these sizes typically have a waistline that accommodates a waist that is a few inches wider around than OmegaMom's. Ah, to live in Victorian times! (Leave aside the inconvenient fact that one just didn't wear pants, God forbid.) The end result is that OmegaMom has to wear pants with a gapping waist, pants with belts cinched tight with bunched up fabric around the waist, or elastic waist pants. Some elastic-waist pants are okay; the flowing, semi-hippy style works well. But when you're buying jeans...well, the thought of elastic-waist jeans just makes me want to weep. Elastic-waist jeans are for matrons; OmegaMom is happily forever 32 in her dreams, and buying elastic-waist jeans would crush that dream. The solution, of course, for both Omega females, is custom-made jeans. The phrase "custom-made jeans" boggles me. So does the price. (The other solution, of course, is for OmegaMom to tone up and lose weight. But it doesn't seem likely that OmegaDotter is going to somehow pudge up a bit, since the fidget factor isn't likely to go away anytime soon.) Decisions, decisions.
Fire update: As wildfires go, this is being a Good Fire. It's growing very slowly every day, the firefighters--while not containing it the way they'd like--are doing a good job, winds have been fairly calm, and the fire itself is sticking to underbrush and tree trunks, rather than crowning. So long as the winds stay light, all is well. The fire is now about 3,250 acres and is being held at the highway, so no structures have burned.
posted by Kate @ 6/23/2006 10:39:00 PM   4 comments

Good enough
There are times OmegaMom sits paralyzed, wondering just how badly she is screwing up OmegaDotter. Did I shout too loud? Was I mean? Am I ignoring her? Am I lavishing too much attention on her? Should I stop making her take "just one bite of everything"? Should I start making her "clean her plate"? Did I scare her by slamming the door? Should she have an earlier bedtime? Would it be better to dose her up with cold medicine so she doesn't snore at night? Am I giving her too much medicine? Are we too strict? Are we strict enough? I have a temper that flares fast and sudden, then dies down and disappears as quickly as it comes. There are times when the dotter is dawdling so...very...slowly...getting...dressed...in...the...morning that I just grit my teeth and shriek through them, then yank her nightshirt off over her head and her t-shirt on instead, all the while lecturing her about how she knows what the routine is every morning, and why does she have to dawdle and yadda yadda yadda. I'm sure what gets through are two things: mommy's grumpy and "Waaa wa-wah wahhhhhh," just like in the Charlie Brown movies. And then I feel guilty and miserable, and am sure I'm screwing her up. But then I read about someone who cuts off her newly adopted child's ear because he's not saying his prayers in English. Or I read the story of A Child Called "It", whose mother went nuts one year and ever afterwards made him the scapegoat for all her moods, beating him, tying him naked in the basement in the winter, refusing to let him eat. Or I read stories about babies whose parents leave them in their pee-soaked and poop-filled diapers day after day, so that their little bottoms are not just suffering from diaper rash, but raw and festering wounds that take weeks to heal. Parents who put their cigarettes out in their toddler's fleshy skin because "I just don't like boys." Men who rape babies and have the gall to say, "She wanted it. She was sexin' on me!". And it just appalls me. Flabbergasts me. How, I wonder. How could someone--? How could you--? Then there are the parents who don't actively abuse their children, but passively neglect them. No reading in bed. No dress-up. No games. No playing. Kids who show up at their first kindergarten class and don't know their colors or their shapes or how to sing or how to blow bubbles or that it's okay to have fun (but do know how to dress themselves...). And it makes me wonder--why? Why have children, then? Or stories that I hear from friends, of parents who regularly told them they were shit, worthless, useless, stupid, ugly. And I am amazed that they have come through that with any sort of feeling that they are good and worthwhile human beings. When I hear or read these stories, my grumpy, "Dotter! If you do not get your foot off the book right now, I am going to stop reading to you, close the book, turn off the lights, and we are going to go to sleep!" seems caring. My "Dotter, you have to clear your plate and placemat and napkin off the dinner table" seems as if we are just taking the time to ensure that she learns a few family graces. My horror at these stories sets me apart (I hope!) from the "No more wire hangers!" Mommy Dearest that I am sometimes fearful of becoming. Oh, I am no saint, far from it; as I said, I lose my temper and storm and rage and flounce around and slam doors--providing a horrid example for the Dotter. But I will treasure every time she pouts and tells me or OmegaDad, "You're not my friend!" because it means she trusts us enough to know she can say something like that, rather than cowering in her room in fear of...yet another beating, yet another burn, yet another night of being told you're too worthless to be fed. Love for your child shows up in a myriad ways: Putting extra bandaids on, reading stories, piling in a sleepy heap on the sofa and watching movies, making sure they take their vitamins, even in something so mundane and obvious as changing diapers or cleaning up the vomit when they're sick. My dotter may not have a cushy preschool leading to a cushy private grammar school leading to a prestigious high school leading to an Ivy League university...but she has parents who care enough to chase her with Tickle Fingers and play horsie and teach her to ride a bicycle. And that's Good Enough.
posted by Kate @ 6/22/2006 04:28:00 PM   15 comments

The mommy wars
I don't know how I missed this one back in December. The gist: Linda Hirshman, a retired distinguished prof at Brandeis University, was researching a book about "marriage after feminism". She wanted to know why the 40% increase in women attending high-powered college tracks didn't translate into 40% of women in high-powered positions in corporate America and politics. She selected a group of women who popped their marriage announcements in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times back in 1996, called them up and interviewed them, wanting to know what they had done--how high in the hallowed halls of corporate America had they gotten? She talked to women who were, at the time of the announcement, "a vice president of client communication, a gastroenterologist, a lawyer, an editor, and a marketing executive". Much to her surprise and dismay, she discovered that 85% of those who had babies were staying home. So, she wrote this article (in preparation for a book coming out) that excoriated the women of today for abandoning feminist principles. They are selling out. They see "choice" where Hirshman sees a parade of females ignoring equality in the family. She sounds a call out to women to demand equality in housekeeping roles. She says women should ditch liberal arts degrees for degrees that make money. She says women should ditch idealism (as in doing pro bono law work) and aim for realism (as in doing international business law). She says you should either marry lower in class (a hubby who makes less can stay home) or marry for someone who is committed to gender equality in the home. To top it all off, she says to not have more than one kid. In any case, her writing seemed to see women staying at home as a betrayal of feminist ideals (oops. Idealism. That's gotta go, y'know!). I see class differences. Really, truly: she was looking at the elite. The elite marry the elite. Elite equals money. Money equals being able to stay home. Pure and simple. If you live in a household where both halves of the couple have to work to make life more than an ongoing race to hold onto your current paycheck, you don't have the luxury of staying home. Okay, I know there are hordes of females out there who will howl at that one, arguing ferociously that if you want to stay home, you can make sacrifices to follow that path. But living paycheck-to-paycheck is stressful and misery-making--any family that lives that way knows that is A Truth. If one member of the couple can make enough so that there's no strain, no worry, then it makes staying home easier, and staying home becomes a social cachet. Lindsay staying home to take care of the kids equals Lindsay and her husband make enough money for her to stay home with the kids. Apparently, this article by Hirshman roused the digital lynch mob. Why? Well, the main reason is, rather than simply presenting her arguments as I distilled them above--not taking aim in any way at any one person's choice, but simply leaving the "what's better for society and feminism" part out there, she dissed the task of taking care of kids, by saying words to the effect of "the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings." After months, she responds with this Washington Post Op-Ed piece, titled "Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-At-Home Moms", in which she further disses women who stay at home, and huffs about how judgmentalism is needed to Save Feminism. She sneers about how the mommy bloggers are all about wiping butts. She claims that the stay-at-homers are all a result of conservative evangelical Christianity. And then she puts her fingers in her ears and says, "La la la, I'm not listening!" (She says she stopped reading the blogs.) I can see how being the focal point of a digital lynch mob is icky. I've seen the swoops and swirls of special interest groups aimed at a target, and it's not nice, even when I agree with the mob. But as a mommy blogger who happens to work, who has written about vomit and poop and stuff like that, I do think that the old adage distills my advice to Hirshman: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Yes, the instinct, when attacked, is to attack back. But, shit, if you're going to slam people who are raising the next generation (that would be more females who could rise to the top) by claiming it's just scut work and women who abandon the Important World of Corporate America for the Diaper Genie are not worthy of the investment in high-powered college programs, you'd better be prepared for the heat. In any event...I was raised by a mother who was an editor of an international business magazine and a father who (mostly) stayed at home, running various high-tech businesses. I like the fact that women raised today know they have a choice (much excoriated by feminists like Hirshman). I'd rather women had that choice than we replaced the expectation that women would stay home with the kids (stultifying enough so that the fifties were filled with women who retreated into alcohol and Valium) with the expectation that women would never stay home with the kids. I'm glad that I could just march on into a computer science college degree program without having to fight with the college Powers That Be to even be allowed to do so, because I am, honest to dog, just plain lazy and conflict-averse, and that would have stopped me dead in my tracks. And I will raise my daughter in the knowledge that she can follow any career she wants to, with the exception of the presidency, or no career at all. Because that's what the legacy of feminism is, to me.
posted by Kate @ 6/21/2006 07:27:00 PM   2 comments

The real world is different than the "road" world. In the "road" world, Extremely Trendy Southwest Tourist Town is 40 minutes away from here. We either drive out to the end of the rim, then plunge down Way Cool Creek Canyon for miles of twisty, turny switchbacks, then drive the bottom of the canyon to the town, or we take the highway, which goes a different direction, paralleling (parallelling? neither looks correct...) the aforementioned canyon, then slowly curve downwards off the rim, then take the state highway back west towards ETSTT. Both ways make it seem a long distance away. In reality, though, if one looks at topo maps, ETSTT is about 20 miles away. The fire that is burning in Way Cool Creek Canyon is 12 miles away. The next community down the highway from us is only six miles from the fire, and there are pictures that people have posted of the fire at night as viewed from their community which make its nearness frighteningly obvious. The fire is smaller than the first estimates; as always, when the mapping folks sit down with their digitizers and the perimeter marks on the fire, it ends up being fewer acres than originally estimated. So, Sunday night they downgraded it to 1,000 acres, and by this morning it was 1,500 acres. We'll see how big it is tomorrow... Now it's officially down in the canyon floor. Canyons are interesting things when it comes to fire--a big fire creates its own weather, its own winds, and a canyon acts like a chimney, channeling the wind--and the fire--upwards, up the canyon. Last year, when we had the enormous rains, the canyon acted as a funnel downwards, and we were graced with pictures of RVs floating in water, having been swept from their camping pads by the onrush of water that collected from miles around on top of the rim, then went spilling in a torrent downstream. Way Cool Creek Canyon is, as I call it, just way cool. It's lush with greenery. The water runs year-round, a rarity in these climes. There are campgrounds, and hiking trails, and a state park with natural water slides. OmegaDad goes fishing there for rainbow trout, and if he's lucky, he can try for a brown trout or two (the native fish). It's a mecca for recreation in these parts; people drive up from Big City every weekend, crowding the road with wall-to-wall vehicles. Surrounding the creek are forest lands. But the land right on the creek is ferociously guarded private property, except for certain areas. When people moved into the southwest, places with year-round water were coveted areas to homestead, and when these regions joined the United States, people who owned the land next to water insisted on having the rights deeded to them. In the years since, the national forests were created, with the borders coming right up to the private property. And since then, wilderness areas have been created out of those forest lands. What we have now are inholdings of private property--some tiny ancient vacation homes, some grand new abodes--in this lush, green canyon, surrounded by red rock of extreme beauty, and pinyon-juniper forest that eases into ponderosa pine forest at the proper elevation (which is different depending on which direction the slopes of the canyon face--southern faces get more sun, so the ponderosas start higher up on those slopes). And all of it is dry, dry, dry. OmegaDad got to hear his first real use of the Emergency Broadcasting System this afternoon, when the fire finally reached the canyon floor, and the firefighters finally called a mandatory evacuation and shut off the powerlines traversing the canyon. Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods has been mentioned more times on the news lately than it has in the past decade; we have an official Emergency Preparedness Advisory, due to the smoke. All of that aside, we here are protected by 12 miles of forest plus an interstate highway between us and the fire. But, still. Still, I called the Omega's insurance broker this afternoon. For years, I've been asking Mr. Oh-So-Nice, who owns the brokerage, whether our insurance was for replacement value. He kept waving his hands vaguely and reassuring me that it was. This time I spoke to someone else, and asked specifically, "Does our insurance coverage cover full CURRENT replacement value?" Well, no, it didn't. So, after she checked to be sure there wasn't a hold on upping coverage for homes in Hippy Dippy Enclave due to the fire, I increased it. A mere $50 per year increased our coverage 60%. I did a quick google on insurance coverage replacement value, and ran across a bunch of articles estimating that most people are under-insured by at least 22%. Doesn't sound like a lot, but think about having to replace your home. Much better to find out before the fact, than when you are dealing with trying to rebuild. Really, though, it's 12 miles away, the hummingbirds are humming, the neighbors are hammering away on new tiles on their roof, and all is well.
posted by Kate @ 6/20/2006 06:24:00 PM   3 comments

More miscellany
I hate fire season, Part III: Another weekend day, another fire, down by Extremely Trendy Southwest Tourist Town. This one is already 3000 acres, according to the Forest Service. Very close to that town, but just to the north, and the wind is blowing it north-northeast...right over the ridges and into Way Cool Creek Canyon. Way Cool Creek Canyon Road is closed, and 500 homes have been evacuated. As the area is an official wilderness area, it has not been thinned. I was at work, and saw the plume around 1:30 (it started at 1:00-ish), did my triangulation, and said to myself, okay, that's down in the direction of Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave, but it looks further away. Hopefully, they'll squash it before it gets established in the canyon. The firefolk are being very pro-active and jumping hard on fires near towns (like they did with our coulda-been-much-worse fire this week).
While I was slaving away at work (pity me! pity me!), OmegaDad took the dotter to... Trumpet fanfare! The rodeo! Yes, the dotter got to see big-haired rodeo queens, lots of people with big hats and western boots, and horses bucking riders off. She also got to sit on a bull:
Do NOT ask me about her being barefoot on that bull. I didn't notice it until just now. She brought home an inflatable pink unicorn, and was generally extremely excited.
The kitten is a doll. He's very very lovey. He talks a lot, too; but, then, I'm the kind of person who talks back to kittens a lot and encourages it. The first pic has my hand to give context on his size; the second one is blurry, and he looks mean only because he was actually just waking up.
Currently his name is "Wooly Booly". Um. Look, it has to do with the '60s CD compilation we've been playing. It's better than "Henry", which was dotter's first plan. I like A@Jac's "Alpha" idea, but Wooly Booly seems to be sticking for now.
Edited to add: Omigosh, how could I forget?! OmegaDotter has her first loose tooth!
posted by Kate @ 6/18/2006 08:39:00 PM   3 comments

Break a leg! (cont.)
So there we were, all outfitted. We piled into the gummint pickup truck and headed out of Small Mountain Town at 7 a.m., on through the Rez, on past the Vermillion Cliffs, through Jacobs Lake, into Kanab, and down from there. The drive to Kanab is 210 miles, and takes about 4.5 hours. The drive from Kanab to Whitmore Canyon is (more or less) 90 miles, and takes about 5 hours. The first half of that drive, to the Mt. Trumbull schoolhouse, takes one hour; it's a nice, wide, flat dirt road. When I first came out West when OmegaGranny and Gramps moved out this way, such dirt roads were scary and I took them very cautiously. Now, like anyone who lives in the area and is used to them, they seem like veritable highways to me. From the Mt. Trumbull schoolhouse to the Whitmore Canyon overlook...well, the further you go, the worst the road is. It's quite do-able up to the Bar 10 Ranch--after all, ranchers need good roads, and the Bar 10 is where river rafting trips begin and end. Bar 10 has a landing strip, so the majority of the folks who put in and take out there don't go overland; they simply fly to Las Vegas, a half-hour trip. The road from the Bar 10 Ranch to the overlook...ack. The road is just plain wretched. Your kidneys suffer horribly. That drive is an adventure all on its own. But then you get to the end of the road, at the point where Whitmore Canyon joins the Grand Canyon. You are about 700 feet above the river. There is No. One. There. The silence is so deep that it's noisy; your ears ring constantly because, being a child of civilization, your mind and ears are constantly expecting input. The only audio input you get there, though, is the wind. The slight sound of the river from 700 feet below you. Hawks calling overhead. It is, in the most basic sense of the word, "awesome". We put up the tent, we cooked and ate dinner, and snuggled up in the sleeping bag, with plans to get an early start. We were planning to go down, come back up at lunchtime, and go back down again. In June, at 700 feet above the river in the Grand Canyon, it gets hot. Early. As soon as the sun comes up and hits the tent, you start baking. We were up and making breakfast at 6:30. OmegaDad loaded up his field gear and his forms (oh, yes, forms). I took some of the stuff, we filled our water bottles, got our hats, and headed over to the trail down. Seven hundred feet down is no big deal; we were looking forward to the water at the bottom. The first half of the trail was switchbacks and we took it carefully and cautiously. Then we came to a plateau-y area where there were no switchbacks, about halfway down. Walking along, chatting, talking, looking around... There was a pebble in the trail. I tripped. My ankle twisted. I heard two very distinct snaps. I screamed. I knew I had broken something. Hard to explain why--it didn't hurt (yet). But those snaps. Um. Mr. OmegaMom came running. "Are you okay? What's wrong? Did you sprain your ankle? Can you put your weight on it?" I leaned on the leg in question, and it immediately buckled underneath me. I screamed again. Well, shit. Let's see: middle of June. Hot summer day. Water bottles for the morning. Halfway down a 700-foot trail, with switchbacks up above us. Switchbacks beneath us down to the river. One 37-year-old woman with Something broken. This was a Bad Scene. And all very ironic--Remember, the whole idea had been that I was there in case something happened to him! We conferred and confabulated. The sun arced higher. It was getting hotter. Mr. OmegaMom manuevered me into the shade of a large boulder and loaded me down with oranges. Then he made a very large SOS sign out of yellow gummint forms held down by rocks. Then we heard the helicopters. Ahah! River trip exchange! Mr. OmegaMom danced and waved and hollered. A helicopter swooped overhead in a circle. Relief! No. The helicopter flew down to the river. I was in tears. We waited. We could hear the river rafters calls echoing softly around us. Another helicopter circled around. Mr. OmegaMom danced and waved and hollered. The helicopter flew off to the Bar 10. It got hotter. I ate oranges, sweated, and dealt with the shock wearing off. Then, finally, another copter came along; this one had the friendly green and white stripes of the National Park Service. It circled. It got lower. Mr. OmegaMom ran over towards where it looked like it was going to land. I--stupid thing--got up and started hobbling (yes, the leg could be used, with the help of a SharpShooter). The copter landed, rangers piled out and headed toward me and I was immediately admonished to not be stupid and try to walk. Ahh, sweet relief! They bundled the leg up into a splint, they saddle-carried me to the copter, they settled me in, they conferred with Mr. OmegaMom. He couldn't come--there was this truckload of gummint equipment at the top of the trail that needed to get back to the office. They told him his SOS was the most creative use of gummint forms they had ever seen. I had my camera, and shock was still with me (that's why the previous entry's photo has me smiling and looking pretty relaxed and cool). Then we lifted off.
We flew down the canyon.
We turned south and headed over the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

Damn, that was an awesome flight! We landed in Grand Canyon Village a half hour later. The shock was all worn off by then, and by the time we got to the medical center, I was crying for painkillers.
posted by Kate @ 6/17/2006 09:22:00 AM   5 comments

We interrupt the broken leg story (again)...
Some people get told, when they want to adopt, "Why don't you just get a cat?" Some people, when they get told that they can't adopt, just get a cat. I have a five-week-old bundle of fur (finally) settled onto my lap, purring. He was, only a minute ago, up on my shoulder, mewing imperiously, and purring. He is now trying to attack my typing fingers. And purring. The dotter is enchanted. So enchanted that we had to set a timer and tell her she had to leave the kitten alone for a while. Anyone want to name a kitten? Now he is back up on my shoulder and smushing his face into mine. And purring. The story will continue this evening, I reeellly, truuuuly promise!
posted by Kate @ 6/16/2006 06:50:00 PM   4 comments

My light morning reading
Not that most of my regular readers will be interested, but Johnny might be. A peek into why Microsoft's Vista operating system will NOT meet its August 2006 release date. Har. What a surprise. Dudes, it sounds like almost any new software product being touted by almost anyone: too many managers who won't take a realistic done date from the programmers, too many features being added helter-skelter, and too many changes as the project continues. MiniMicrosoft predicted this months ago.
posted by Kate @ 6/16/2006 07:18:00 AM   6 comments

Break a leg!
See those nice long sleek exercised legs up above? Those were mine, once upon a time. Sigh. Nowadays, my legs are pudgy. They have lots of cellulite. I hadn't realized just how much they had deteriorated until OmegaGranny sent me a scan of this, along with four others, and suggested I blog about them. It just so happens that this is an anniversary of sorts, related to that pic, soooo... Eleven years ago, OmegaDad got a job that entailed 10 days in the field, six days off, exploring Lake Mead National Monument and Grand Canyon National Park. While it was exciting and fun for us that he had this Awesome! Job! getting paid to go out camping and hiking and river rafting, the first time he went out after we were moved, I spent the first few days crying. We had been joined at the hip for two years at that point, and I missed my Mr. OmegaMom fix most severely. The six days off, though, were faboo--we would go out camping and exploring and he still had time to relax after the field work, clean all his clothes, gear up for the next field stint, and romance me. Ahhhhh. It was, actually, quite a sweet setup. Most of the time, those 10 days he would be with another field worker. But there came a time when he was going out in the field alone, ten years ago. Being a worrier, I worried. What if he fell off a cliff? What if more than two of his tires blew out while he was out driving on malpais, dreadful backroads made of volcanic rock that rip your tires to shreds? (They always kept two extra tires with them when they traveled, and two jerry cans of gasoline.) At the time, we were living in a small town, and the jobs were few and far between. I was unemployed. He was traveling alone. Why not sign up as a volunteer and go out in the field with him, thus calming my fears of vultures flying above a dessicated dead body at the bottom of a cliff? So he arranged things and I signed up as an Official Earth Team Volunteer. This means I got a mug. But it also meant I could go out with him in an official capacity; I couldn't be with him otherwise. The first trip out, we spent scouting out some new areas for him to do his fieldwork. We drove here and there across the Arizona Strip, an amazingly empty spot of land that has a population density--still--of about 1 person per square mile. We saw approximately one other car each day the entire week we were there. The result of the sparse population is that when you encounter another car on the road, rather than just driving to each side and passing on, you stop the car. You get out. You chit-chat. It's very impolite to not stop, and people will remember your vehicle and talk about you when they run into each other on their trips to more densely populated areas (1-10 people per square mile). We camped at Paws Pocket, an area of lovely layered sandstone, with red penstemon blooming, awesome views, and hawks flying overhead. We showered in the middle of the day out in the middle of a broad expanse, realizing only after we were happily spraying each other with the Sun Showers heated on the hood of the car that a helicopter was flying overhead. Oh, well. We spent the night at the Mt. Dellenbaugh fire station one night, then drove out on Twin Point and sat on the edge of the canyon with no guardrails, no high-heeled touristas, no park signage, just an endless expanse of canyons in a 180-degree arc. We tried the road to Kelly Point, but it is a real killer, and my kidneys weren't up to it. When we returned, we agreed it was a great plan, and we should do it again, especially since he was about to go to Whitmore Canyon and Parashant Canyon, very remote areas. We would camp at the top of the foot trail down to the Colorado River and then the next morning head down the 700-foot drop, where he would do some of his fieldwork. Tomorrow: Two snaps!
posted by Kate @ 6/15/2006 06:19:00 PM   0 comments

Smoke? None. I am on my hands and knees thanking the Forest Service and the local city fathers for their hard work in thinning stuff. I am thanking the Kozmik All that the fire didn't start at, say, 9 in the morning yesterday, instead of 4 in the afternoon. I'm thanking the Kozmik All that the temperature is down, there are clouds in the sky, and the humidity is up.
OmegaDotter informed me in the car on the way to daycare that if you eat Rice Krispies Treats and yogurt together, you will explode.
The Love of OmegaDotter's Life, C., gave her a bracelet this morning. Just ran right up to her and said, "Here, OmegaDotter, this is for you!" Awwww. Like horses, C. has been high on her life's priorities for about two years now.
I unsubscribed from a bunch of Chinese adoption lists on Yahoo this morning. Too many nice folks posting waiting children pleas ("This beautiful little boy's file is due to go back to China this week! Won't you give him a chance?!"). I'm in a somewhat bitter, angry mood about it all now; I see those postings and want to pout and stomp my feet and shout, "Dammit! They're turning back Really Nice People like us, that's why those files are being sent back!" Anyway, right now being on those lists for me is like hanging around a pregnancy group when you've hit the "I'm never going to get pregnant" wall, just a big reminder about how all this stuff is no longer under our control. This could be a Good Thing, because I need to curtail the internet usage severely; it's been getting out of hand lately. Work is coming to a crescendo for the end of fiscal year, so I'll be working late and needing to concentrate, not cruise groups and dilly dally with buddies. (Or not as much.)
posted by Kate @ 6/15/2006 08:22:00 AM   1 comments

Did I say I hate fire season??? Updated
I hate fire season. Big-ass fire to the west of town. We can see trees crowning from our parking lot here at work. Winds gusting up to 47 mph at 3 p.m. There was no fire there an hour ago. Way to the north and west of our house, but...it looks like a bad one.
We may have dodged a bullet here. I've been admiring how nicely they've thinned the forest to the west of town and down south of town. They did an awesome job, obviously. So far, they say it's only about 200 acres. It's a bloody freaking miracle. The way it was corking along at 5 p.m. scared the snot out of me, and not just me, a bunch of other folk who were standing there watching it. The newsies say there was no crowning, which is a crock of shit; we saw crowning big time as it topped a ridge--trees blasting into flame as we watched. But I think the wind shifted, and it ducked below that ridge and (thankfully) stopped crowning. Crowning wildfires are a Bad Thing--that's the sort of behavior that causes rapid wildfire spread. Power's out where OmegaDad's office is, and to the west; the fire burned a substation to the ground. We (so far) are SO FUCKING LUCKY. That thing, with the wind behind it, was aimed like a blowtorch down Old State Route, straight into town. Of course, I do have buds who live in one area which was evacuated, and I know a trailer park (I think this was OmegaBro's old trailer park where he lived when he was getting his fuddy duddy here) was evacuated as well. We'll see what tomorrow holds.
I hate fires with a passion. Hate, hate, HATE fires. They scare me and make me panicky. (Obviously.) And when a forest fire is only 2 miles away, pouring gouts of black puffy smoke into the sky...::shudder:: The forest thinning projects have been a political hot potato, with lots of folks trying to stop them--don't log old-growth trees, don't do this, don't do that. I have to say that the thinning projects around here have been exceptionally well-managed (in my very inexpert opinion). Yes, the area looks shredded to hellandgone the year the thinning is done, the ground trampled, the remaining trees looking somewhat forelorn, but an area OmegaDad and I regularly drive through was thinned last year and this year looks lovely. It has gone from hundreds of trees per acre crowded together in what are known as "dog-hair thickets" (because they look spindly and thin and tall with very few branches and all bunched up like weeds) to something like 10 trees per acre. Much more open, much healthier (in this lackadaisical gardener's opinion), and a lot of space for wildflowers to grow. Perhaps all the enviro-lawsuits helped get thinning to this point. Yay! But the forests around here are scary dry, with lots of dead trees due to bark beetles and drought, and crowded like an overgrown row of lettuce in a vegetable garden. Perhaps, rather than suing, they could work with the forest service and other gummint agencies to follow this type of project management? The forests directly around Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Wood haven't been thinned yet, but there are plans to start this year or the next. My heart may be sad to see some old friends go, but, frankly, a lot of those old friends are going already. My head says, "GO FOR IT!" And my superstitious side casts an eye heavenward and asks the Kozmik All for a few years of "normal" rain.
posted by Kate @ 6/14/2006 05:01:00 PM   2 comments

To tell the truth
Thanks for all the cyberhugs via the comments and via email, folks; they are greatly appreciated here at the OmegaHomestead. The one good thing about having this Huge Deadline approaching swiftly is that work is quite intense right now, keeping OmegaMom from breaking into a weepy mess at the office (quite unprofessional, dontcha know). For those wondering if they had missed any explanation--no, you haven't. I've been mum on the issue, because it's not mine to talk about, it's Mr. OmegaMom's, and I don't feel right blabbing about it without his express permission. Suffice it to say that there was this Issue leading to an Event which happened a year and a half ago (medical-ish), which type of Issue and Event China is not looking too kindly on these days. More details may or may not be forthcoming, depending on the dude's approval. In any event (har), this Issue and Event are not something I can lie about on a homestudy, nor can we ask a medico to lie about under oath (which is what the notary would be notarizing, some blather about "true to the best of my knowledge" on the part of the medico). For another thing, it was excruciating to live through, on both sides, and working our way past it is very important to our current lives and our marriage and how we regard life in general. I know there are plenty of people out there who do lie on their homestudies. In general, while I try not to judge folks, this is something that I have a problem with. Yes, potential adoptive parents are being asked to relinquish control of their lives to other people. Yes, potential adoptive parents have to go through a lot of scrutiny that biological parents don't have to put up with. Yes, it's invasive. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's a big ol' pain in the ass. But maybe...just maybe...if homestudies are conducted honestly and openly, with potential adoptive parents who are willing to expose all their not-so-pretty backstories, and social workers who are willing to make the effort to deal with those backstories...just maybe we'd hear fewer stories like this and like this. The folks at the CCAA are trying their best to protect children that they are sending off to a totally different country, to be raised by people who are supposed to be (relatively) good parents. They're not saints, no, but they're trying to do their best by the children they have entrusted to their care. The same with (good) adoption agencies and government adoption ministries around the world. The majority of the people who work at these institutions are acting in loco parentis, and are simply trying to find a way to select decent people to take care of children who don't have parents of their own, or whose parents turned out to not be good at taking care of children. Think of it this way: if you had to decide on someone to take care of your children for the rest of their childhoods, just how much reassurance would you want that the people you are entrusting them to are Good People, who will do their best by the children, raise them with love and care and treat them right? I know that when Mr. OmegaMom and I had to think about who we would name as guardians for OmegaDotter--before we had any inkling of what she was like--we thought long and hard about it. We wanted a couple of a reasonable age--which ruled out our parents. We wanted a couple who had ideals and outlooks that were similar to ours--which ruled out many loved relatives who were the "right" age. The decision of guardians was, in fact, one of the most difficult parts of putting our dossier together. We took it as a duty, an obligation, a responsibility, to determine who we thought would raise our child the way we would want her to be raised. The long and the short of it is that, while I'm sad, while it hurts, while it even makes me angry that our own judgment of the circumstances is being passed over because of statistical outcomes...these people had to make a judgment, and we lost out. Period. We have other avenues to pursue, and we will, once we decide which way to go. We know that the local adoption authorities were willing to give us a whirl, so that's a possibility. And there are other countries out there that might be willing to take us on, warts and all. Y'see, we are not entitled to someone else's child. We have to demonstrate to a judge here where we live that we would make good parents. We have to have that judge's approval before we can pass a homestudy. Yeah, we might hit a social worker on a bad day. Or our homestudy judge might be suffering from a gout attack the day our homestudy comes before his/her desk. Or the #@%!& USCIS may decide we're not the cat's pajamas. And we could swear by all that's holy that we're Good Folks and would be Good Parents and, gee, we deserve to have a child! But in general, all these folks along the way have to have some set of standards by which to judge, and usually they do their best to follow those standards (rather than being affected by a bad day, or a gout attack, or just general USCIS contrariness). Fried eggs, three sperm, and "Gee, golly, we're nice folks!" just isn't enough to adopt.
posted by Kate @ 6/13/2006 10:28:00 PM   8 comments

A door closes
So. DotterSecunda will not be Chinese. We were informed today that due to the sturm und drang a year and a half ago, China will not let us adopt for a few more years (unspecified amount of time). Oh, there are other options. We'll find something, I'm sure. But right now, even though we knew intellectually that this was a distinct possibility given the current tightening of requirements to adopt from China, it's tough. It's very different to think something is a possibility, and to be bluntly told, "Nope, sorry, no can do."
posted by Kate @ 6/13/2006 02:52:00 PM   11 comments

Green kitties
"Mommy, I'm hungry!" "Well, let's see. You can have some string cheese, some yogurt, or some carrot sticks." Dotter stands there with a puzzled look on her face. Finally, she asks: "Green kitties? Why should I eat green kitties??" We had great fun eating "green kitties" (string cheese) this afternoon.
OmegaDad couldn't resist the "Great Hits of the '60s" collection at Sam's. OmegaDotter was okay with it, because it began with the Mamas and the Papas singing "Monday, Monday". But then "MacArthur Park" started. The instrumental lead-in prompted dotter to say, "This sounds sad." We replied, in chorus, "It's sad. Someone left the cake out in the rain!" She listened to the words. "Someone left the cake out in the rain??" she asked, amazed. "And it took so long to bake it! And he doesn't know if he can make that recipe again!" explained OmegaDad. "He left the cake out in the dark? In the rain?" "Yes, Dotter, in the dark, in the rain," I said. "That's sad." The song kept playing, we kept talking. Five minutes later, she said, "Is that cake still out in the rain?! This is taking too long!"
Before her bath, while we were waiting for OmegaDad, the dotter and I played on the futon. The dotter had been drinking yogurt drink. We played at her breathing YOGURT BREATH! on me, and me being knocked out by the YOGURT BREATH! Even with the drama of OmegaDad bringing her home from shopping because she wasn't behaving (which precipitated great misery), it was a Good Day.
posted by Kate @ 6/11/2006 08:25:00 PM   1 comments

Security blanket
Recently, the issue of privacy and blogs has come to the forefront of OmegaMom's (simple) mind. First, there was a spate of posts on The Big Chinese Adoption List relating to the question of whether one should have a public blog chronicling the adoption journey. The "erm, um..." responses come from people who discussed such things as (a) the persistence of internet postings in terms of posts coming back to bite someone on the butt years later; (b) the question of privacy for the children, and, when they're older, how will they feel about details of their lives being posted on the internet; (c) the question of being "out there" with details of one's own private life (such as, "hey, when you travel to China, people will know your house is vacant for two weeks!", or "why do I need to know about my sister's husband's sperm count?"). Solutions tossed out were fourfold: have a password-protected blog for friends and family only; have a private email list a la YahooGroups; don't do any such thing; or let it all hang out. As I said recently, when discussing one blogger's encounter with a real-life coworker who didn't like her blog, I don't publish names (which I've been rather lax on recently in terms of OmegaDotter, and plan to do a leetle clean-up here and there), strive to cloak real place names, but don't really worry too terribly much if folks who read regularly figure out where we are 'cause we're so stodgy and quiet that it's not likely anyone will decide that we're good cyber-stalking candidates. And if anyone does figure out where we are, down to knocking on the door while we're off getting DotterSecunda (whereever she may be), they're welcome to deal with the Dawg, who is ferociously territorial and hates males of any species trespassing on the property. As one person posted to the list, identity theft is a much greater worry, and it's much easier to do than trolling people's blogs--all that's needed is a USB drive and easy access to a friend's computer at the bank or a credit card company (eek!). I do regularly do a Google search on my real name and variations. I get two hits from my last employment, in 14 pages of other hits for people with my name, and that's it. I also Google on "OmegaMom"; when I first started blogging, the majority of the hits were for an IBM program dubbed OmegaMom...now, my blogging identity has far surpassed IBM. Take that, Big Blue! But I have run across some interesting articles of late related to Googling people and how blogging can provide a wealth of information about people. First off, there's a NYTimes article about how some new graduates and people seeking to change employment are running up against more tech-savvy recruiters who Google prospective employees and interns. The gist: keep the dirt off your blog; if you want to publish rollicking reviews of your nightly revels, complete with pics, it's a good idea to put a gateway on your blog. Then there's this interesting article on how the Pentagon is mining blogsites for info on people. The researchers did an analysis of blogs and posts that scientists had done, trying to figure out if there were more conflicts of interest in peer reviews than previously thought. New data formats for tagging information on blogs and in articles are seen by the defense researchers as fodder for datamining and gathering portfolios on people to be coupled with other data, such as spending patterns. The Pentagon needs to get together with grocery store companies (and Amazon and other such companies) that keep tabs on what preferred customers prefer to purchase. Yet another article, about the inherent risks of people's curiosity coupled with portable data devices such as USB drives, makes something well-known to security folk very obvious: the hardest part of a computer system to secure is the people attached to that system. Passwords are written down. Passwords are passed around. People will attach "found" data devices to their computers because they're just curious as to what they've found. And so it goes. My take: Every step, every advance that makes it easier for people to interact will make it also easier for recruiters and hackers and thieves to get more information about you. I don't know what one can do, except, as one cousin of mine did, avoid technology altogether. (He spent many years without a bank account, cashing his paycheck immediately, paying all his bills with cash or money orders, and striving to keep a low profile, just on general principles. He has since become a bureaucrat working for the gummint, and the gummint frowns on people wanting paychecks these days--it's much cheaper to do direct deposit. They also insist on people getting email addresses and being easy to contact [and, therefore, easy to trace]. *Poof* goes K.'s low profile.) For me, I figure so long as I keep my real name out of the Google searches, I'm a happy camper.
posted by Kate @ 6/10/2006 05:07:00 PM   1 comments

New fodder
A few new blogs have found their way onto OmegaMom's own private blogroll. (No, they haven't shown up here yet, 'cause I'm a lazy blogger. Shame, shame!) They just leaped on, without a By Yer Leave, because they were interesting to me. Pushy blogs. Y'see, Bloglines has this nifty thing, a "Subscribe to this blog via Bloglines" bookmark, which makes it easy to snag a new blog. And then all I have to do is cruise to my Bloglines feed, and any time someone has updated their blog, Bloglines flags it, and either gives me a partial feed (the subject line and a paragraph) or a full feed (the whole damned kit and caboodle). This makes it dangerously simple for a lazy blogreader like myself to get sucked up into Yet Another Blog. I have far too many blogs on my blogroll. Luckily, a lot of them are sporadic posters, so I don't get bogged down by blogs. Too much. Some choice ones: I Gallop On. OmegaGranny passed this one on to me. I am sunk, snagged, caught. Kimberly is into horses, y'see, which feeds my research and investigation of the horsie scene for the Dotter. She is also located in (ahhhhh!) Northern New Mexico, so it feeds my longing for UNNM (Ultimately Northern New Mexico, pronounced "Unnum"). She posts very fun homemade videos of life on a small ranch, set to country tunes. (I need to introduce the Dotter to some of those videos; she'll love them!) Then there are two blogs by Dr. G., Adoptive Parenting and Put It On Your Therapy List. Dr. G. is a clinical psychologist who therapizes "at-risk" children. It may not be your cup of tea, but she's pretty down-to-earth, and if you're an adoptive parent, her Adoptive Parenting blog is interesting. Homesick Home is written by an American woman married to a Japanese man; she lived in Japan with him for many years, raising their kids, and now they've moved to the States. She writes about the perils of switching kids from one country to another, and how to deal with bilingualism, and parenting differences, and more. Last, but not least, is Mommy With an Attitude, who I discovered by doing a Google blogsearch on "chicken dance", hoping to find a picture of That Creature. Enjoy. Pa-Pa Richard and Grandma Sharon are in town, so we're doing family stuff and being tourons this weekend. Then it's back to the world of financial interfaces and ramping up for the Big New Fiscal Year Transition (two large system switches for our department, oh goodie). I hope my stomach survives the next few weeks...
posted by Kate @ 6/08/2006 09:09:00 PM   3 comments

Momma Star has tagged me. I'll do anything to not have to think up a blog topic and to stop thinking about how to do a return on a one-time-purchase in our facilities management system... One body part you'd like to change? Toes. Gotta be toes. I can't stand my toes. They're stubby and pudgy and funky looking. Describe your ideal Saturday. I get to sleep in late. When I wake up, everyone's gone. I get to wash clothes in peace. I get to vacuum house in peace. I get to read if I want. I get to potter on the computer if I want. I can take a long, hot bath without anyone banging on the door asking me questions. Maybe watch a movie on DVD that I haven't seen yet. What have you got for leftovers in your fridge? Don't look! Don't open the door! Stop! It'll escape! No! Stop! AGGGHHHHH!!!!!! You get to travel back in time for one day. Is this in my personal life or in the history of humanity? Personal life: Go back and purchase that condominium I was looking at in my mid-20s. Humanity? Hmm. I think I'd like to go back and spend a day with Queen Elizabeth I, see what she was really like. Or Eleanor of Aquitaine. Or Boadicea. If you had one hour with the President, what would you say to him? Grrrr. And then, "Can you please order the USCIS to extend the approval period for I171Hs to two years?" And then, GRRRR. One body part you'd never change? My nose. It's cute. I have actually had strangers compliment me on my nose. Yes, that is correct: total strangers have stopped me and told me "Y'know? You have a cute nose!" Oh, it's only happened twice, but still--I ask you: Would you ever consider stopping someone on the street and telling them how cute a particular body part is? I wouldn't. Your most favorite thing about motherhood? Watching a small child develop into a Little Person, complete with Little Person quirks and likes and dislikes. It is wicked cool. Ultra-violet rays or tan-in-a-bottle? Non-PC here: UV rays all the way. Why? Because it means I'm outdoors. It means I'm doing something--like hiking in the woods, or swimming at the pool, or at a picnic, or taking in the fair. You have an unlimited expense account; what three things do you purchase first? A large (40-acre-plus) wooded lot hereabouts. A custom-designed log home to put on it. A week at a very expensive spa for me starting some time in mid-July. Your least favorite thing about motherhood? The way my dotter seems to have uncanny psychic powers that pinpoint every single button of mine she can push. It's 10:00 p.m., do you know where your children are? Hopefully in bed. If the dotter is not in bed and asleep by 10 p.m., we're going to have a long night of it. As for who to tag. Who to choose, who to choose? Howzabout Kate, at All Hail Suburbia; Mrs. Figby at Letters From the Zoo; and, now that she has a blog, OmegaGranny.
posted by Kate @ 6/08/2006 12:32:00 PM   3 comments

Pennies from heaven
Last night, to distract the dotter from OmegaDad's frequent forays into the outback (the OmegaGarden), I haphazardly grabbed a section of newspaper, flung it onto the living room floor, then grabbed the penny pot. Then gasped, held it tighter, and groaned as I heaved the 10-ton cheaper-by-the-dozen vase from the florist over to the newspaper and turned it on its side, spilling out the cornucopia of coins. (The Cleaning of the Cars this weekend yielded an unexpected bonus: a boatload of change which had filled our penny pot to overflowing. It was heavy.) I charged OmegaDotter with sorting out the pennies while I sorted out the bigger coinage. I was done with the sortage of quarters, dimes and nickels before she had barely touched the pennies. For those who have no experience with four-year-olds, the lure of shiny new pennies may have no resonance. But for the Dotter, only the best, shiniest pennies counted. All the others could remain behind in the huge heap, part of the madding crowd, as she crowed over her shiny pennies and carefully arranged them into tiny towers, then tilted them over, then counted them up again. While she was cherishing her pennies, she chattered on a variety of conversational topics. What was to the fore, however, was Mr. Incredible. "Mr. Incredible's very strong, Mama. Did you know that?" "Mmm-hmm," I said, grabbing more quarters. "He can lift up trees!" "No kidding!" I said, moving on to dimes. "Some of the trees are this big!" And she spread her arms wide, indicating a truly humongous tree, to a four-year-old. "Wow! That's huge!" I began rummaging for nickels. "Yeah! He's very strong. Is he stronger than you, mommy?" "Oh, I'm sure he is." I poured out some more coins. "Hmm. Is he stronger than daddy?" "Well, he probably is, dear." "When I grow up, do you think I can be an Incredible?" I peer at my tiny dotter, with her tiny hiney and slender waist. "Hmmm. I don't really think so, dear." "Oh. Well, when I'm grown up, can I become a...a...a..." "A Super? Well, we think you're pretty Super just the way you are." Stoke that self-esteem, dontcha know? "Maybe I'll be able to pick up trees when I'm a grown-up!" she chirped hopefully. When I packed up the various stacks of coins into separate zippies, she insisted on having another zippy just for her shiny pennies. Then there was the discussion about where to keep her special pennies. The conversation continued all through dinner. Lively, laughing, chitter-chatter that invited us to respond. It was a real dialogue--she'd ask questions, we'd respond, she'd follow up. After dinner, as Dotter was doing her pre-bathtime bathroom duty, OmegaDad angled an eyebrow at me, and said, "Boy! She was most charming tonight! I wonder if we can bottle it?" I thought longingly of having this joyous child at our dinnertable every night, and sighed. "We'd make a fortune!" he continued. "I'm not selling it, dammit!" I said. "We're going to keep it all for ourselves!" This did not go over well with OmegaDad, who was already fermenting marketing ideas and copyright tradenames for the bottled elixir. I'm told that girlchildren start toning down the whininess and tantums around five. That it then lasts until they are around 11 or 12. Maybe we were getting a glimpse of our next six years with the dotter? All I can say is that, my poor story-telling abilities aside, it was a charmed night. Nary a whine in sight, no grumpiness, no snotty back-talk; it was a joy and a delight to be with the dotter, and I was sorry to watch her fall asleep after I had read her about Angelina and the Butterfly. She and I have been out bikeriding, and she can now bike at a ferocious pace, passing me as I pedal leisurely down the street. She's beginning to let me help her float on her back at the pool, and pull her here and there by her arms with her head up. Her body is lengthening. She's letting me comb her hair without the Drama. She's learning more and more about horsies than I ever knew. It's a joy and a wonder to watch her blossom and grow.
posted by Kate @ 6/07/2006 05:33:00 PM   0 comments

Chicken dance
I love my mothers-in-law. Truly. Both of them. They're lovely ladies, in their absolutely different ways. But MIL #1 has earned an undying hairy eyeball from me, because of the critter at the top of this post. (The pic is, by the way, cribbed from someone else, whose blog is now defunct. Boohoo! It seemed like it might be a good blog. Update! Check out Mommy With An Attitude! She just moved to a new URL. Not only is she a good source for dancing chicken pictures, she's funny!) Y'see, this...this...thing arrived at Eastertime in the midst of a box of goodies for the dotter. This...this...evil creation will crow like a rooster, play the Chicken Dance, and dance around like a little Golem, a rickety mechanical critter that lurches from one side to the other, with its beak vibrating as it crows (loudly), "C'mon, dance with me!" OmegaDotter thinks it's hilarious. Shortly after it arrived, it was sequestered, hidden away surreptitiously by the Omega Parental Units, who were united in a desperate need to STOP THE MADNESS after OmegaDotter squeezed its paw (?) for the umpteenth time. It has resurfaced. Kind of like that eBay auction that was trying to get rid of the Evil Doll? You hide it away, and it slyly sneaks back out, beady little red eyes gleaming in the darkness as you enter the living room in the middle of the night? Okay, I exaggerate a bit. No beady red eyes. Just a determined dotter, who located it in a heap of toys Soon To Be Distributed To Needy Children, pulled it out, and has been squeezing its damned paw over and over again to get it to dance. She brought it in to the office this evening as I was staring at the computer, wondering what on earth I was going to blog about. She placed it on my knee. She squeezed its paw. It crowed and began to dance. Then it urged all within a 50-mile radius (i.e., loudly), "C'mon, dance with me!" And OmegaDotter began to bounce from foot to foot, bobbing her head in time to the music, grinning like a maniac, and demanded that I dance with her. Too cute. Just too cute. Now, there's a special level of Dante's Hells reserved for people who purchase loud, obnoxious, plastic, battery-operated toys of any sort for the children of other people. This I believe. If there's anything to this God business, and God is just, people who buy such toys will be condemned to spending an eternity with a few choice obnoxious plastic critters that urge, beseech, and implore whoever is listening to "Dance with me!" or "Let's play!" or crank out a tinny rendition of "Three Blind Mice" until the batteries start to die, and the perky "Let's play!" degenerates into "Leeeeeeettttt'sssssss pllllllaaaaaaa...." in a freaky, slurgy, battery-dying kind of way. And then, if God is good, the batteries will be Magically Recharged and the cycle will begin again. But every once in a while, even cranky OmegaMom gets sucked into the vortex. It doesn't happen very often. Mark your calendars.
posted by Kate @ 6/06/2006 05:07:00 PM   5 comments

Bloggers block
A relaxing weekend of sun and fun--I got our summer membership in the outdoor pool in town--means that my mind is blank. OmegaDad got ambitious and has cleaned both cars; I got ambitious and weeded various flowerbeds; the dotter and I have started our summer routine of swimming and then going out for ice cream afterwards. The news hasn't prompted anything...cruising Technorati's "Best of..." links hasn't spiked any commentary...The most emotion I can muster right now is my deep contempt for "My Little Pony: The End of Flutter Valley", which is playing on the tube and causing me to grit my teeth. BORing. Sorry! Anyone have any requests? Any ideas?
posted by Kate @ 6/04/2006 07:14:00 PM   4 comments

Indulge a proud mama
OmegaDad was taking a shower. I was getting OmegaDotter dressed and ready to head out to town for her Saturday morning daddy-dotter time. She wanted to write a list, like Daddy had. She named the items, I spelled them, she wrote them down. This is her list:
Aw, man. Now, ask me if she can read it? Naw. But, still.
posted by Kate @ 6/03/2006 08:23:00 AM   4 comments

And so it starts
OmegaMom's triangulation ability is awesome, when it relates to smoke plumes vis-a-vis the Omega homestead. Her distance recognition ability is lacking, though. Fire season started with a whiz-bang yesterday; a fire started in someone's backyard down by Trendy Southwest Tourist Town, was 100 acres by 5 p.m., and was variously reported as 1,500 acres, 2,000 acres, and 2,500 acres by this morning, depending on which news source you listened to. It's quite rare for a fire to grow that quickly overnight; it makes one realize just how dry everything really is this year. Yesterday afternoon, shortly before leaving Small Mountain University, I popped outside the building for a smoke (dreadful habit, yes, I know). Walking over to the work trucks, looking for a nice comfy truck bumper to laze on, I saw a plume of smoke in the sky. Hmm, says I, that looks like it is in the direction of Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave. When I drove home, every twist and turn of the highway made it clear that, yes, it was definitely in the direction of HDFE; by the time I reached the highway exit, though, it was clear that it was a little bit south. So, I did what every resident of Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave does when s/he wants the real scoop on what's happening where: I stopped into the HDFE "Country Store" (source of endless numbers of old kids' videos) and asked where the fire was. "Oh, it's down by Trendy Southwest Tourist Town--something like Sam's Road..." TSTT is about 40 miles directly south of us. That means it was a big honker of a smoke plume. During my bike ride with OmegaDotter (she made it all the way to the end of the pavement, down a loooong hill, woohoo! And back up again! And she kept up with me!), when I looked south, I could tell that the fire was just booming along; the plume was getting bigger and bigger, and the top had flattened out. It was reflecting the slowly setting sun, so it was a lovely rosy-red color. This morning, I investigated the Big City newspaper website, and got the 2,000 acres figure. The local Forest Service website yielded a 1,500-acre estimate. The local news station yielded a 2,500-acre estimate. The local news station also yielded a video clip that featured a nice young thing playing with fancy 3D graphics tilting and whirling to show the canyon-y terrain. It also featured the nice young thing saying, "...fire officials are concerned that, if the fire continues to grow up Sam's Canyon, it will threaten Hill Park and Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave, and eventually, Small Mountain University Town." Whoa, Nellie! HDFE was actually mentioned in the news! A small jolt of adrenaline raced through my system before I recalled the fact that the fire, while due south of HDFE, is 40 miles away. It would take a mighty big fire to make it up the rim from where it is now up to our little homestead. I cursed nice young thing and all other Big City newscasters under my breath; these folks haven't got a clue about distances or spatial relationships--they hear the fire person talking about dangers, they haul out their map, they see names on the map and call out, "What about Hill Park?" "What about Hippy Dippy Forest Enclave?" "What about (gasp!) Small Mountain University Town?!" And the fire-fighters' media liaison (yes, they have such things), cornered, has to say, "Well, yes, there is a small possibility if this and if that..." Which, of course, translates in media-speak into "imminent danger", which sounds a lot more sexy than "there is a small possibility..." This afternoon, there's no plume of smoke hovering ominously on the horizon, just lots of monsoon stormclouds. Leaving work early, I decided to motor on down the highway to the Scenic Overlook (none of the other pullouts after that are scenic, oh, no) to see what I could see. Nothing. Nada. Well, okay, one small plume of smoke emerging from the red rock country...a lot of smoky haze...growing cumulus clouds all over the place. So, even though the various websites are saying 0% containment, it looks like everyone dodged a bullet here. Score so far: 1 primary residence destroyed 1 partially-damaged residence 1 guest houses/shops destroyed 3 outbuildings destroyed Damn, I hate fire season.
posted by Kate @ 6/02/2006 03:40:00 PM   0 comments

Dream a little dream
I had a dream that I was stalking a blogger. Well, to me, it wasn't stalking. Y'see, I found her website, and some pictures on her website. Two of the pictures made it very clear that she currently lived in the building where I went to elementary school. This is it: Anyway, I just had to meet her, to tell her how excited I was that she lived there, and did she know that was a school at one time?? So I crashed her wedding. There she was, very tall and blonde and elegant, trying to get married (though there weren't any wedding guests), in a huge ballroom with black and white checkerboard marble tiles. I was following her around everywhere she went, she was trying desperately to get away from me, and the more she withdrew, the more I pursued. I was a real pest. Excuse me while I blush in humiliation for my dream self. I woke up, humiliated. Then I had a dream where I went to visit one of the local FCC families with OmegaDotter. The dotter, alas, was being rambunctious. The hostess (also tall, blonde, and elegant) was being gracious but distant. Dotter had to go potty; hostess directed us to "a place where she'll be more comfortable", which was a child's potty seat perched in front of a big glass window which gave a beautiful view of the river/lake that the house was perched over. Above the potty chair was a series of hand-drawn educational posters for the hostess's daughter. Really good hand-drawn educational posters. One of them was a step-by-step of how to go potty with illustrations. "Mary lifts the lids up", "Mary takes her undies down", etc. I felt inadequate. After all, OmegaDotter doesn't have hand-made educational posters on construction paper dotting the walls of our house. Then, other people from FCC started arriving. They'd nod at me, pass me and OmegaDotter by, head into the living room and start chit-chatting with the hostess. After this had happened three or four times, I noticed a (beautifully hand-written) invitation to an FCC meeting. Which I hadn't heard of. I felt unloved and inadequate. Why didn't I get one of those hand-crafted invitations? I woke up, feeling inadequate. Think my dreams are trying to tell me something?? It's related to work, I'm sure. I've got a huge project that is coming to a crescendo this month, and it's mine, all mine. Oh, goody. Monday night, I went to bed, turned off the lights, waited for OmegaDad to come to bed, and started doing lists in my head. The lists got longer and longer, more and more things I have to accomplish to get everything to funnel down into a nice, neat package by the end of the fiscal year. I got panicky. The lists wouldn't stop. I was afraid I would forget something. The only thing to do was to get up, boot OmegaDad from the computer, and start typing up the lists. An hour of typing, the lists were all "on paper" and winging their way to my work email, and I stumbled off to bed. And promptly went to sleep, to dream about chasing poor, innocent bloggers and crash FCC parties I wasn't invited to. Bleah. Wake me up when it's July 5th, wouldja?
posted by Kate @ 6/01/2006 05:19:00 PM   0 comments

About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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