Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Still Here

It's been a while, I know. I've been trying (and failing miserably) to get a number of things done, so blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I've had a couple jobs so far, the hurry-up-and-wait ordeal as well as what turned out to be a semi-interesting expulsion hearing. I admit that for a moment I didn't know what that was even though the word was right in front of my eyes. It's a hearing held at a school before expelling a student.

I can't get into details, obviously, but I will say I was quite concerned because the family of the child involved chose to proceed without hiring an attorney. Clients who represent themselves are generally nightmares to report, and I was suspecting my transcript to look like alphabet soup as a result. I was pleasantly surprised. Once the three adults accompanying the child decided on who'd be spokesperson, they did a fantastic job. They asked solid, coherent questions and pleaded the child's case well.

This week then took a turn for the worse. My uncle passed away on Thursday morning. His viewing is tonight and funeral is tomorrow.

Uncle B's health has been declining for some time, but his loss is still shocking. He was an extremely smart and funny man and one of those people you blindly assumed would live forever despite increasing frailty. My cousins and their children are heartbroken, and I wish there were more I could do for them.

I doubt I'll have much to add over the next week, so bear with me. Kryptonite's baptism is next Sunday, and I have a mountain of work to do. Take care of yourselves until then.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just for Hallie

Sorry, Hallie, but immediately after thinking, "Holy #&@%!!!" I thought of you. Your feelings on arachnids are well known in these here Blogger parts.

I spotted this little gem on the wall of my front porch. By the time I went inside for the camera and a ruler, it scuttled into the corner by the step.

I wondered whether I should squash it out of existence. I seriously considered doing so, even though my cardinal rule for such "wildlife" is that it's allowed to exist as long as it isn't where I eat or sleep.

But, see, look at it. It's not just any spider, it's one of those streamlined, super-speedy models, the kind that, if it's in your house, you mustn't lose sight of or you'll never sleep again.

And, yep, it's huge.

There was only one other thing that kept me from slapping it with my shoe, and I'm not sure a simple shoe slap would have been enough.

The crunch.

Hon's method for avoiding crunch during bug mashing is to let out a long, loud yell during which the shoe comes down. That's fine for a quick kill on the wall or the floor, but Mr. Spider tucked himself into a corner. There's no easy way to kill a bug in a corner, especially one this big. If I were actually lucky enough to hit it without getting crawled on, it's clear that by the time I would have finished him off with screaming and slapping, a posse of police cars would have converged on my driveway.

I let it go.

Maybe he's on his way to Maine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Yesterday was CRA-ZY. My first post-Kryptonite job turned out to be a day of Workers’ Compensation hearings.

Comp hearings can be a blessing or a curse depending upon your view of things. Sometimes the day is a full docket of hearings with statements on the record and testimony, and that means transcript pages out the wazoo. Sometimes it’s a short docket and you’re done by noon. It really varies from day to day.

Normally I prefer the “full docket” days, because there’s some decent money to be made for my labors.

This day, however, is not normal. All I want is to get back to the sitter and pick up Kryptonite. I missed her terribly (and pride myself on making only ONE phone call to check up on her with the sitter).

As an added not-the-norm bonus, the in-laws are enjoying a years-overdue, two-week-long visit with House Fairy’s sister. Not only does this mean that we’re caring for their kitties, but they’re clearly unavailable to meet the school bus this afternoon. A short-docket day is definitely the way to go. The last time I worked for this particular judge, it was a short-docket day. I count my blessings because this judge is also a very nice, easygoing man to work with.

In order to be on time, though, my morning has to run damned-near perfectly. My window is small. I only have an hour and fifteen minutes between the kids boarding the bus and the first hearing.

I awoke at 6:00-ish and follow The Oracle into the shower as he exits. Afterward, I make everyone’s lunches. So far, so good. Kryptonite slumbers as I crash around in the bedroom.

Precious Daughter and Mighty B. are positively wonderful for me in the morning. They get up without too much prodding, dress for school, eat, and brush their teeth in plenty of time. I make sure their lunches contain nice desserts. Kryptonite awakens a few minutes before they go outside to meet the bus. I normally go outside to wait with them, but Kryptonite wants breakfast. I have a major-league aversion to breastfeeding in public, something for which my neighbors are probably quite thankful. Knucklehead gets to go out and bark at the squirrels while the kids wait for the bus. Finally, they're on their way.


This weekend, I rented a hospital-grade pump in hopes of avoiding Kryptonite’s eventual switch to formula at a mere three months of age. (Three months yesterday, in fact!) I think only two or three males read this blog, but that’s enough to keep me from getting graphic. I’ll only go as far as saying I was too stressed for the blasted pump to bring forth much of anything worthwhile, and I ended up packing the “in case of emergency” can of Enfamil powder into the diaper bag. Damn.

I wasted too much time fighting my losing emotional battle with the pump and didn’t leave the house until 8:10. I’m due at the hearings in a half hour. Thankfully, I don’t have to go far to reach the sitter. The hearing location is fairly close, too, but the route is heavy with traffic. I realize mid-route that I forgot to feed the dog.

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to linger at the sitter’s, because it meant not having the time to get last-minute clingy with Kryptonite. Pissing off a judge is never a good thing. He may be a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean I want to be the one wrecking his schedule. I kiss Kryptonite’s smooshy, fat cheeks and hit the road.

I walk into the judicial center with only ten minutes to spare. I am fervently praying for a short docket.

It is not a short docket. It is a full docket running from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Drat. The Oracle and I discussed this possibility the night before, so I call to let him know he needs to leave work early to meet the kids’ bus. I console myself with the knowledge that I’ll have lots of work to turn in.

Our first hearing begins fifteen minutes late. I’m bracing myself for a long, six- or seven-hour day.

Lo! By 10:15, the judge has cleared up five cases. I have an hour’s wait for the next hearing, so I piddle around with a scoping job from another reporter until the 11:15 hearing starts.

Five minutes later the 11:15 hearing is finished, and the next two on the docket begin at 1:00. I’ve got over an hour to kill, but I’m sad that it isn’t quite enough to visit Kryptonite. I drive around for a place I like and eat lunch in the car. It’s a smidge too chilly to take a nice walk because I forgot to grab a jacket when I left the house. (I knew I forgot something! I always do!) I’m not wearing walk-friendly shoes anyway.

I return, restart my equipment and I wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

The judge steps out into the hall to talk with one of the claimants. It turns out her hearing was canceled, but somehow she didn’t get the message.

Two of the five parties scheduled for the next hearing enter the room. It turns out that their hearing has been canceled and rescheduled for July. They and the judge enjoyed a lengthy discussion, none of which was on the record.

My next two hearings are due to start at 2:30. They're both cleared within ten minutes. I haven’t written twenty pages’ worth of work all day. If we'd finished five minutes earlier, The Oracle could have returned to work, but he has already boarded his train.

This is the worst kind of job, an all-day docket with little on record; in other words, it’s a big (insert expletive)-ing waste of my time.

The Oracle tells me his train is running late. I call the school so they don't let the kids board the bus and ride to an empty house. The Oracle gets the older kids from the school and I run to the sitter. We pull into the driveway within two minutes of each other. It's 3:25.

At 3:35, Precious Daughter must be at the dance studio with her recital costumes for picture day. The Oracle knows nothing of what to do with her hair. I take her and her paraphernalia to the studio. I forgot her makeup. Kryptonite comes with me because she's hungry. She doesn't like Enfamil and didn't eat much. Bless her sweet self, she napped at the studio the whole time.

We finish at the studio by 4:45, but the kids have their "gym show" at school that evening and must arrive by 6:15. It's take-out from Arby's for dinner. I feed Kryptonite and we rush off to school.

The show ran from 7:00 to 9:00. We arrive home only to discover that one of the cats yarked all over our bed.


Off I go to the in-laws to feed their cats. I hadn't had a chance to go all day. The Oracle showers the kids and gets them ready for bed. Mighty B. is asleep in The Oracle's lap when I get home, and Precious Daughter is in bed but still awake.

Getting them to school this morning sucked.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Precious and Holy

Last Saturday, Precious Daughter celebrated her First Holy Communion. She's been gearing up for the day for quite a while with studies at her school as well as practicing songs and such. She's been singing them so much I was just about sick of them, so much so that I was asking her not to sing. Mean, I know, but she was singing everywhere, including my in-laws', the supermarket, Mighty B.'s tee-ball games, and the like. She practiced taking Communion with every small bit of finger food on hand: pretzels, potato chips, Froot Loops.

Can you guess? Religion is her favorite subject.

Getting the dress just about sent me into seizures. Are we dressing little girls or grown-up lady brides? My initial surfing yielded sites with horrid prices and equally overblown, over-ruffled dresses, dresses with long trains dragging behind them, I kid you not! How is a kid supposed to file into church without getting her train stomped by the kid behind?

I found a terrific shop online, The Catholic Children's Company. Their large selection of dresses were reasonably priced, and many of them were American made. I was a meanie mom, picking three or four dresses from which Precious Daughter could choose. More than that and we'd never have a decision. She's her mother's daughter when it comes to decision making.

She selected a lovely veil, but it was backordered. She picked another and it was discontinued. After going a few rounds with this, I asked what they had left, and none of it suited Precious Daughter. She didn't want a tiara or anything crown-like. No bows in the back, either. She wanted a wreath of flowers, because it's May and she wanted to wear flowers for Mary because "Mary likes flowers." I ended up making the veil.

A few days after placing my order, including a phone call to make sure the dress we wanted was available in Precious Daughter's size, customer service phoned and told me the dress we selected was backordered. Ack!!! Customer service was extremely helpful in assisting me with another selection and getting it into the mail quickly so we'd have it in time.

Added 5/14/09 - I reread this, and I feel that I should mention that my woes with backorderd items were self-inflicted. This is what I get for ordering these things a mere three weeks prior to the sacrament. I should have ordered them much earlier, because I knew full well that most Catholic churches celebrate First Holy Communion in May. Catholic Children's Company took it all in stride and kissed my procrastinating hiney way more than they should have. They weren't at all concerned that Precious Daughter's replacement dress cost ten dollars more than what we'd originally ordered. They sent the replacement and didn't bill the ten bucks.

Saturday morning, I dragged Precious Daughter out of bed, got her fed and dressed and off to the hairdresser for an 8:15 appointment. Our hairdresser gave Precious Daughter all the curls her poker-straight hair could want, and Precious Daugther was pleased as punch. Caked with as much hair spray as environmental regulations would allow, we left the shop praying that her curls would survive the humidity. (Please feel free to tell me how nice the veil is. Pinning lace to tulle is like trying to pin shadows together.)

"Pleased as punch." What an odd phrase. How can punch be pleased? Or does this phrase refer to Judy's fellow puppet?

I was disorganized as usual, but we all managed to get to the church on time. Mighty B. had the nerve to spike a fever, so instead of sitting in the seats reserved for The Oracle and me, I sat in the back with him and gave my seat to Hon. I could see enough from the back of the church, and I suspect that I'll see it many times over when the DVD arrives.

After the mass, Precious Daughter had enough of picture taking. Look! Her curls are already sagging. She was itchy and uncomfortable, so we let her change clothes before heading off to one of her favorite Italian restaurants for lunch. Along with the five of us, we celebrated with Hon & Pop, Aunt V. & Uncle R, and Aunt J. and Uncle B.

On Sunday morning, she had to dress up again for the 9:00 a.m. mass. The Monsignor sort of dedicates this mass to First Communicants, and the first-grade mothers organize a party for them in the hall in the church basement. The first-grade parents also spent Saturday morning roaming the hall beneath the church taking random pictures of the kids which they printed and put on display Sunday. The First Communicants could take the pictures of themselves home. Next year, Mighty B. will be in first grade, so I'll get to do this for next year's second-grade class.

Later in the day I took the kids to a local playground in the afternoon to fly kites. I wish I'd brought the camera!

Today was the school's May Procession. Thankfully, she didn't have to arrive at the school, dressed in her First Communion attire, until 1:00. She awoke complaining of a headache and congestion, but she still wanted to go. I fixed her hair, got her dressed, and off we went.

By the time the kids filed into the church, Precious Daughter looked thoroughly miserable, but thankfully you can't quite see it in this photo.

And, wouldn't you know, at 4;00 this afternoon I was given my first returning-to-work assignment. The baby-sitter says she doesn't mind taking a sick kid, but Precious Daughter's symptoms are getting more pronounced. I want to stay home, but I feel like a heel canceling my first assignment.

I called the doc and dragged her over. The kid had a fever, sore throat, headache. She's staying home anyway, and my assignment has been given to someone else. Ah, well. This is what happens when you have children.

(For those that read this post prior to 7:22 a.m. on 5/12, please accept my apology for the weird spacing and odd writing. I erroneously hit "publish" instead of "save as draft.")

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fledglings! And an Update

Last week, our baby bunnies moved out and are now on their own. I'd read online that they're weaned after only two short weeks, so I guess we stumbled upon their nest only a few days before they were ready to leave home. Precious Daughter was disappointed. The Oracle had taken Mighty B. out, so I figured I'd take her outside and let her see the rabbits up close. Instead, we got a good look at an unoccupied little grass-lined hole. Ah well.

Yesterday, Precious Daughter is singing and dancing in the front yard. I'm changing Kryptonite when Precious Daughter lets out a mighty strange yipyawp and I hear her come in.

She tells me she stepped on a bird. Oh, crap.

My first thought is that some territorial blue jay smacked into the front window and was laying on the front porch, stunned. She's all freaked out, and I ask her where the bird is. It turns out that the bird is somewhere in the grass.

We carefully walk around the lawn and find a baby robin. The robin doesn't look smooshed or injured, thank God. Maybe she just brushed it with her sneaker. I don't know. I do know that if the bird is injured internally, Precious Daughter won't know about it if I can help it, because her worrisome nature is such that she'll carry that guilt to the grave.

I also see that there are two very agitated robins chirping their heads off in the evergreen tree. As I'm peering up into the branches, Precious Daughter yells excitedly that she's found a second baby bird. Uh-oh. It looks like someone's nest got blown apart in the recent winds.

I look up in the tree for a nest, and I don't see one. Either it got destroyed or it's too high. It doesn't matter how they ended up on the ground. It's clear that putting the birdies back in the nest isn't an option, so I place another call to the wildlife rescue that had proven so helpful with the bunnies.

The end result is a very silly-looking arrangement. I've tied a basket in the tree as high as I could reach without tipping over the ladder and placed the babies inside. Wildlife Lady said that robins are good mothers, and she'll feed the babies if she feels safe reaching them.

In my head I've dubbed the babies "Flatman" (the one PD thought she hurt) and "Bobbin" (because he was bobbing in the grass, trying to move). The parents have been back and forth to the basket fairly frequently, and I'm relieved.

This morning, I spotted the baby I named Bobbin perched on the edge of the basket, looking scared and a little peevish. I'm wondering if he's hungry, and I call Wildlife Lady again. She said the bird is getting ready to fly. I don't know how he could since he's covered with pinfeathers, but what do I know?

I am concerned that I haven't seen Flatman. I can see he's still in the basket, but I don't hear any peeping or see anything moving.

I want to get pictures of them anyway, but rather than freak out the parents with another ladder escapade, I'll blindly aim the camera into the basket and let it see what's there. I hope Flatman is just dawdling behind Robin, and I'll get to see him perched on the basket edge too. I'm basing that hope on the notion that the parent birds would probably push the dead baby out of the "nest" and I'd find it at the base of the tree. What do you think?

Edited to add: I finally took some pictures. I didn't get too close to the basket for an "inside" shot of Flatman because Mama Bird was having a hissyfit. I'm also afraid of scaring Bobbin off his perch, because I'd have to practically put the camera into the basket for the shot. I have to think about this. I stood beneath the basket for the following shot. The others were taken from the patio.

I wonder if he could really fly with these mangy-looking feathers. "Mo-om!? What's taking so long? I'm hunnnngryyyyy!"

The following is with very little "zoom" on the camera. Mama Robin is in the lower right field of the picture on the patch of grass between the edge of the street and the forever-dead dirt track worn by Knucklehead's attempts to chase cars without getting zapped. Trace your eye up the trunk to find the basket. If you're interested in knowing, this tree is dying. It's loaded with bare spots and dead branches. I'm bummed. Where are the bats going to live?

"Hi, Mom!!! What tookya so long?"

"Sorry, kiddo, I would have been here sooner but that freaky human is watching us."

*** Update *** Flatman seems to be dead. I stood on a stepstool and took blind aim with the camera. Flatman is just laying there in the bottom. Damnit. I hope being back off the ground and with his sibling at least made him feel a little bit safe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Facing the Inevitable

I don't want to do it.

I don't. No. No. No.

You can't make me. No!!!

Unfortunately, with things as they are, I have to return to work.

Tomorrow, Kryptonite and I are set to meet a possible baby-sitter. She seems fairly nice so far, but the thought of leaving my precious, pudgy baby with a stranger while I go off and work is a horrid concept for me.

When Precious Daughter and Mighty B. were infants, I was blessed with the assistance of DEB. DEB took excellent care of Precious Daughter while I worked part-time, and she took care of both kids while I had classes on the same nights The Oracle had to work. When the House Fairy retired and I started working, they watched both kids for us as needed.

When DEB had her stroke, the firm I worked for scheduled my hours to match the school day, which was a huge blessing. Once DEB was settled in rehab and later at home, House Fairy met the school bus and took them back to his house if I couldn't get home in time.

Really, I wouldn't know what to do without them.

Kryptonite is different. I'm not sure whether DEB has the wherewithal to handle an infant. House Fairy is of that generation that is thoroughly uncomfortable handling someone so small. Really, he's happier once they're talking and toilet trained. I understand that completely. Even with Kryptonite I get a bit stressed when she's fussy and I can't figure out why. I'm very, very grateful that House Fairy will still watch Precious Daughter and Mighty B. during summer vacation.

But, oh, I don't want to entrust Kryptonite to a stranger!!!