Friday, December 30, 2005

The Rewards of Librarianship

I could never be a doctor. Despite my apparent fascination with bodily functions, I really don't like them very much, and do not at all want to be involved of the bodily functions of anyone outside my very immediate family. However, I do like the idea of helping people. So I became a librarian.

In fact, as an aside, there was a rather funny moment just before we boarded our cruise ship back in November. As you know, we were traveling with two of my friends from college, who happen to be married, and who also happen to both be doctors. Now Chris and I have sailed with Disney before, but this couple had not. So when we got to the Port, we were ushered to a special line for repeat cruisers, and they had to stand in the long line with all the rest of the plebes. I waved to them as we were being checked in WAY ahead of them (okay... only maybe by about 8 people), and said gleefully, "YOU may save lives, but WE have sailed before... who gets the better deal HERE?!"

Anyway, today, I completed my most difficult reference transaction to date. (This does not count the horribly rude and grumpy lawyers I used to have to grovel in the presence of when I worked for Dialog. Their questions weren't hard, anyway... they were just difficult people). And the best part is, I didn't do it alone. I collaborated with a complete stranger in Allen County, Indiana. Basically, a guy called me yesterday and he wanted a book on repairing golf carts. Oddly, I found we had NOTHING on the subject. So after concluding from Internet searches that the only way to obtain one from the manufacturer was to whip out the plastic, I turned to libraries outside of my system.

I searched WorldCat and found what I thought might be the particular manual the man wanted (although the model numbers were not quite matching up). I also learned that there is only ONE library in the WORLD that has any of this company's manuals. I don't know if someone in Allen County died and left his whole Golf Cart Repair Manual collection to the library, or what. But they have them, and they are catalogued for the whole world to see.

I spoke with the NICEST librarian in the world, and she graciously pulled several of these manuals for me, presumably out of storage. Because the model numbers were not really matching what our patron said he had, she scoured the books for a 9-pin connector or something, which was the major characteristic of the engine he seemed to be having problems with. (Not only am I not technical or electrically inclined, but I'm also suffering pregnancy brain, so I can't believe I was able to effectively even communicate with this very smart and capable librarian about connector pins).

Anyway, short story long, the gentleman came into the library, got his library card (he had never had one in his life) and compared a wiring diagram she faxed to us with his own notes about the cart he was repairing. Lo and behold, she had sent exactly what he needed and he left completely thrilled with how his property tax dollars were being spent. Let's hope he writes to the newspaper to tell them about it. In the meantime, I'm having a chocolate chip cookie (or six) to reward myself for a job well done. I suppose I should send a cookie to Allen County too, eh?

And Now... Your Blood

I've been feeling a bit crappy over the last couple of weeks. Not "crapulent," which in our house means that you can't really drag your butt out of bed you feel so bad, but just slightly crappy. I had a headache for three days the weekend before Christmas, which was alarming, but not totally weird since I can only take Tylenol while pregnant and my headaches are often more worthy of four Advil. So the Tylenol would kind of take the edge off for a few hours, but the headache was still there.

Then yesterday morning, I was shelving some books at work. Not super-strenuous, but lots of bending and standing up in order to deal with the bottom shelves. About a half hour into it, I had to sit down because I was so dizzy. And when I finished the complete task, it took me about 10 minutes of sitting and breathing funny to really start feeling like myself again. I attributed it to the healthy Bojangles breakfast I had indulged in, and left it at that. Well, okay, I'm also out of shape (unless "Schmoo" is considered a shape), 34 years-old and 6 1/2 months pregnant. That might also have entered into the formula. Regardless, all logical explanations and I just forgot about it.

Later that day, my doctor's office called. "You are slightly anemic" the voice on the other end of the line said. "Only slightly... we aim for a number between 11 and 14, and you are a 10." (First time I've been called a 10, and suddenly it's a bad thing!) Now, one would normally take comfort in discovering this. After all, it completely explains my overall physical crappiness and can be easily fixed by taking some iron. Problem is, I can't take iron. I mean, I CAN, if I don't mind the surprising (and I'll just leave it at that) trips to the bathroom and the horrible stomach cramps. And quite honestly, the baby wiggling around in my abdomen is enough stomach weirdness for now.

After Athena was born, I also avoided taking my iron (same reasons), but then I was able to substitute a natural supplement that "does the same thing." However, taking herbs when you are nursing is quite different from taking them when you are pregnant, so I'm a little uneasy popping those in my mouth. So what to do?!

A coworker summed up my solution very well... "I would take this as an excuse to eat steak." So tonight, we are having steak. I'm going to try to up my red meat intake over the next week, and then when I return to the doctor on Friday, they will take my blood again (oh, joy) and see where we stand. Perhaps, with any luck, I can crank the old iron up to 11. But in case I don't, I'll take my little bottle of I-X supplement and let them look over the ingredient list to see if it's okay for pregnancy. One of the things I love about my practice is they have no problem with alternative medicine and they actually have some experience with it. I'm no hippie, but when it's a choice between stomach cramps or some other way to get iron back in my blood, I'm looking for the other options.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Who Knew?!

Your Hair Should Be Orange
Expressive, deep, and one of a kind.You pull off "weird" well - hardly anyone notices.


My husband is very good about complimenting me when he thinks I look good and not saying anything if I don't. (Remember the maternity swimsuit ordeal?) Every now and then, he will give me "a look" that lets me know I currently look like a float from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, but it is rare. (Honestly, it's rare that I look THAT bad, as horrible as my fashion sense is).

So it wasn't a surprise when Chris complimented my new maternity outfits that my sister bought me for Christmas. After all, that's why I asked her for them... what I have been wearing is positively dowdy. And it wasn't surprising that he said nothing today as I wore pajama bottoms and a HUGE knit shirt all day. Of course, he couldn't really comment because he was The Grey Avenger today. We were scraping the bottom of the laundry barrel, and all he could manage to put together was a grey t-shirt and grey sweats. We were clearly a couple that was not leaving the house.

But imagine my surprise tonight when I threw on an old Victoria's Secret pajama set (not from their sexy collections... rather from their "comfortable" collections) and Chris immediately raised an eyebrow and said " Nice!" I chuckled, because I initially thought he was kidding... but then I realized he was totally serious. It's just a white cotton tshirt and tap shorts. I never wear it because it's so old... but I still have it because it's comfortable and good for those nights when we are scraping the bottom of the laundry barrel. But I suppose I will wear it more often now. Go figure. Makes me think I need to dig out some other things from my closet that I never wear, just in case I actually look good in them!

Kitchen Confidential

I am a kitchen poser. After years and years of really wanting to be a true expert in the kitchen (at least at the amateur level), I am finally coming to terms with this.

Right away, I know there are those out there who will argue that I'm a good cook. My mother is one. But then, she has to say that... it's part of being a mother. My mother-in-law is another, but I think she also has a bit of the "mother" condition. I also have many friends who praise my cooking... I have very good friends... we've already established this.

Understand that I am not saying I am a bad cook, not by any stretch. I'm actually able to produce many tasty meals from scratch, and I can even bake passably. I've never made a loaf of bread that resembles "dwarf bread" of the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. I've even made some cakes that people thought were downright tasty. And the cookies I just made tonight, although they are a little softer than I thought they were going to be, are downright heavenly. But then, there is chocolate in them, and really... how can you go wrong with chocolate cookies?

Still, I am learning with every passing kitchen experience that I am really a far better souschef, or sometimes even a prep cook. A souschef, for those who don't know, is the second in command in a professional kitchen. The prep cook is basically the lackey who does all the chopping, sifting, sorting, and general preparation work before the evening even begins. Whenever I am in the kitchen with any of my friends who cook, I immediately fall into this role, even if I'm the one who planned the entire menu.

When Sophie helps me for my Holiday Party each year, I end up gathering ingredients, then passing them to her along with the recipe to make the magic happen. When I cook with Cathy... well, that's just a bad example, because as long as pronouncing French cooking terms isn't part of the job description, Cathy could actually serve as the Executive Chef, if not the Chef de Cuisine in many a neighborhood restaurant. (If all these terms are making you curious, check out the kitchen heirarchy.) And then this weekend, even with my own sister, I fell immediately into the role of hunter and gatherer rather than chef.

Granted, some of this comes from the fact that this was my kitchen, and therefore I'm the one who knows where everything is. But still, the reason I still consider myself a poser lies in the little things that happen around me when I'm in a kitchen. For example:

1) Burns - I know this happens to everyone, but it happens to me in the stupidest way. I burn my hand on the oven rack as I'm placing a tray on it. I place a pan that was broiling in the oven on the counter, remove the oven mitt, and then casually grab the handle to move the pan elsewhere. I dump the wrong thing into a pot of boiling water and immediately reach in to pull it out. Folks, this is the sort of activity that most people with an IQ between 80 and 100 would still not do. And I do it regluarly.

2) Recipe Surprise - I read through the recipes ahead of time maybe 40% of the time. This alone makes me a disaster in the kitchen. But I ALWAYS read the ingredient list. And yet, almost every other time I cook, something suddenly appears on the list that completely mystifies me. Perhaps I forgot to buy it (lemons were the culprit this week), or perhaps I never even noticed it. Or perhaps it was something I was supposed to make ahead of time that I completely forgot to make. This happened once when I was making lemon cheesecake that called for lemon curd. It's not exactly something you can run to the corner store and buy, nor is it something you can "whip up" really quick. Needless to say, I made a plain cheesecake with a bit of a lemony taste thanks to some lemon zest. At least I did buy the lemons that time.

3) Recipe Dyslexia - I have been known to skip a step and then go back to it without realizing what I've done. Needless to say, this often requires completely starting over or, more likely, giving up.

4) Bad Timing - I know this is hard for many cooks... timing. It takes a lot of experience and skill to bring out all items at the same time and have them warm and fresh. This is especially difficult if you only have one oven. But I am often so far off that we have been known to eat two hours late... or we may eat the potatoes after the dessert course.

Oddly enough, even with all these little issues, I still love cooking, and I will continue to love it. It's wildly therapeutic, which few who have really watched me cook can believe because of all the cursing and banging of pots that I do while in the kitchen. I wonder how I can continue to love it so. But I wonder even more if I can every graduate from poser and become a real cook!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Very Full Day Off

Today was the first of four days off for the holidays, and I am stoked. I actually feel a little weird having so much time off without actually cutting into vacation time. Tomorrow, I will be in a pretty intense mode of cooking, cleaning, and finishing up the Christmas shopping (I have yet to purchase a gift for my own mother. How pitiful is that?!)

Today was no less busy, although it was full of much more fun things. My sister flew in from San Francisco VERY late last night (truthfully, she actually arrived very early this morning). She and her husband stayed in a hotel, and I really wasn't sure exactly what time to expect them. So we slept in until 7:30, when Athena woke up. I headed downstairs to check the instructions for my glucose screening. This is a test that looks for gestational diabetes. I had a doctor's appt. this morning at 9:15, and I had to drink this disgusting flat orangeade an hour before my appt. It turns out that I also was suppose to eat a balanced breakfast (one or two eggs, toast, and milk). So... I quickly whipped up some scrambled eggs and wolfed them down so I could drink the nasty sugar thing on time. Then I tossed Athena in the car with some little fruit chews (which she loves) and we headed to daycare.

At the doctor, they almost forgot to draw my blood, but I reminded them. God knows I didn't want to drink ANOTHER one of those drinks. I don't remember it tasting so bad when I was pregnant with Athena. But it was gross this time.

The actualy appointment went well. He Who Must Not Be Named has a nice normal heartbeat and seems to be on track as far as growth. Now I switch from monthly appointments to every other week. This means I'm entering my third trimester! I can't believe how quickly this pregnancy is zipping by. Whatever will I blog about after the baby is born?!

So I got home just a little after 10am. I sat down to rest, hoping to maybe get a little nap before Linda arrived. But alas, no sooner had I plopped down but the phone rang. It was the daycare director telling us that Athena had thrown up twice, and therefore we needed to pick her up and bring her home. Chris was still in his pajamas (dammit) so I headed back out to Cary to collect her.

When I arrived, she looked perfectly fine. I'm guessing that the sugary fruit snacks combined with the graham crackers they gave her at school may have just been a little rough on her tummy. She also has a head cold, and the drainage may also be upsetting her stomach. Regardless of how healthy she looked, two vomits earns you a ticket home. Period. No exceptions. She was happy to see me, though, and when I asked if she wanted to go home, she said yes... so at least she wasn't disappointed to be leaving her friends behind.

Just as I pulled into the driveway, Linda called to say they were about to leave the hotel. We made arrangements for her to pick up lunch on the way, and we settled in with Athena to wait. She was playful and showed no signs of the earlier tummy troubles.

We had a Chick Fil-A picnic in the kitchen, and then Athena headed up for her nap. Linda and I trundled off to the shops and Chris and Ron stayed behind to mind the baby. We wanted to get something in particular for mom, and then I had asked Santa for some nice (meaning "real designers... not Target") maternity clothes. It's bad enough your tummy is the size of a watermelon... you might as well get to look good. And all the stuff I've purchased to date is ill-fitting and low quality. Linda wanted to take me shopping to have me try stuff on, and ended up buying me WAY more than I expected. So for the next three months, I may actually be somewhat fashionable. I believe the folks I work with are going to go into shock.

We came home and I unwrapped the gift Cathy sent me. She sent me the Deluxe Librarian Action Figure (which I had been wanting, but never would have purchased myself) and several homemade cookies. I've sampled the chocolate ones, and they are to die for. Then we relaxed with Athena and watched most of A Bug's Life.

Next we all squashed into Chris' car and headed to the Canes/Panthers game. Athena behaved well as always, and we won, despite playing one of the worst periods I have EVER seen us play (and that is really saying something).

When we got home, we discovered that somehow my tiny dog had reached all the way up onto the highest part of our counter (my daughter can't even reach it, and she is close to three feet tall) and managed to pull down one of the four bags of cookies that Cathy sent. I'm heartbroken, because now I don't even know what they were, not to mention I didn't get to eat one. The other three packages were untouched (except for the chocolate ones that Chris and I had already partaken of) so all was not lost. But it is frustrating to be feeding your dog expensive medicine and buying her premium prescription food to make her live longer, only to have her devour 6 or 8 cookies which clearly do not meet her dietary requirements. *sigh*

Anyway, all is cleaned up now and Athena is in bed. It's great to have my sister home, and although she leaves tomorrow to stay with my mom, I'll be glad to see her again Christmas day. As the final presents are wrapped and my meal-planning comes together, I am starting to remember why I like Christmas so much. All the busy running around leading up to the holiday just makes it that much easier to relax when it's here.

Well, that, and Santa Claus is coming to our house tomorrow night! Yippee!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Overdue Thanks

Anyone who has known me for more than a year knows that I am absolutely horrid when it comes to Thank You notes. Hopefully, those same people know that it is NOT because I am not thankful, but rather, I am just irresponsible. So as I gave Athena her bath tonight, it occurred to me just how much stuff we have received from our wonderful friends and family that we use every day. And so I would like to take this post to thank as many of you as I can think of. (The hazard of a post like this is I will forget someone, but I have to take that chance. If I don't mention something you gave us, just ask me... I can tell you at least one story about it, I'm sure).

These are in no particular order. Please consider this my official thanks, not only for these gifts, but for any gifts you have given us over the last two years. Honestly, we couldn't have given Athena such a comfortable start without them. (And for those of you who are about to deliver or have friends who are about to deliver, keep these gifts in mind when you are registering or shopping!)

Petunia Picklebottom Diaper Bag - This was one of the first gifts we received. My sister sent it to me for Christmas when I was pregnant. It's MUCH nicer than anything I would have purchased for myself and it's absolutely gorgeous. Best of all, it's red and black -- the colors of MY Carolina Hurricanes. We take it to every hockey game, and MANY other events. We do have a couple of other bags of varying sizes, but this one is by far my favorite.

Bassett Crib - My mother bought this for us. It's an absolutely lovely piece of furniture and will convert to a double bed when He Who Must Not Be Named graduates from the crib. Obviously, we use this every night.

Changing Table from Pottery Barn Kids - I vowed I wouldn't buy anything at this store, as it is all lovely, but WAY out of my price range. However, after looking everywhere for a changing table that didn't look like crap and wasn't a dresser, this was the only one I liked. Chris' dad bought it for us. And my aching back thanks him every time I use it. Athena's too big for it now, but we still put her up there. Diaper changing is bad enough without also having to break your back to do it.

Little Moon nursery lamp - I registered for this completely on a whim, because I thought every nursery needed a lamp. Now I KNOW that every nursery needs a lamp. It puts out very little light (I think it's a 30 watt bulb) and the bulb is inside a plastic moon, so it glows when you turn it on. It allows us to enter her bedroom and see our way around without completely blinding/waking Athena. Staci sent this to us all the way from Washington, and I think of her every time I flip it on.

Baby Blankets - All of the blankets we received have been well-used. However, two stand out as the clear favorites. The dark purple blanket was given to us by Athena's Uncle Dave and Aunt Shelley. It was handmade by a friend of Shelley's in Virginia, I think, and it is INCREDIBLY soft and fluffy. The yarn is dyed in layers, so the blanket actually is varying shades of purple. We took this one on the cruise with us and there were two evening events we attended where we took it with us. Both nights, several people stopped to comment on what a fantastic blanket it is, and Athena agrees. The other blanket is also handmade and is a light purple. Chris' mom made it from a very soft wool she found in England. This is the blanket Athena takes to daycare each week for naptime. It's a very lightweight blanket, but is still cozy and warm. Both are the blankets Athena is drawn to when she is allowed to choose.

Baby Mozart DVD - Brian and Sophie gave this to us for Christmas when I was still pregnant. Even from about 3 months, this DVD would calm Athena almost immediately. Since then, we have purchased an entire library of the things. They are like candy for babies. She still loves them.

Step and Play Piano - Chris' sister Nicky bought this for Athena when she was still little more than a lump in my arms. She began playing with it at about five months of age, and she still loves to go over and stomp on the keys. It converted easily from a walker-type toy to a play center.

Bath cups - Kim R. gave me these at my baby shower. They were an item I registered for because I was told I would appreciate having them instead of using glasses/cups from the kitchen. They go EVERYWHERE with us. They've been to Virginia, Bald Head Island, Austin, San Francisco, and most recently, the Caribbean. We even move them between bathrooms, as Athena also likes to use them in the shower. I use them to wash her hair, and she loves to play with them. I would have never guessed such a basic gift would get so much use.

Bathtub play mat - Chris' sister Lisa sent this to Athena for her birthday. It has little waterproof pieces that she can take out and move around and tuck back into the little pockets. She adores this mat. And now that she says some words, she can identify the bird and the bee and the flowers on the mat.

"The patchwork dress" - Unfortunately, kids grow out of clothes. We have had MANY outfits that we just love, but this dress was my favorite. She wore it for the last time for Pirate Night on the cruise. I loved it because it snapped all the way up the back. It was so easy to get her in and out of it and she looked unforgivably cute in it. This was a gift from Chris' uncle Rick and his girlfriend Judy (who we call Aunt Judy just because it's easier.) :-) They gave it to us just before I delivered, and although it was an 18 month size, she was able to wear it from about her first birthday through to November.

So that hits the highlights. We received hundreds of things... literally, so I don't intend to bore you with stories about all of them (I could do it... trust me). But like I said, if you wonder about something you gave us... just ask me. :-)

And once again, thanks. We have the best friends and family in the world. Happy Holidays to all of you. :-)

Oh my GOD, it's GREEN!

Remember I told you that they provided the kids with green cookies at daycare yesterday after the little holiday pageant? Well, there was enough green food coloring in those bad boys to paint the turf in the Astrodome. And the weirdest part? The whole class was pooping green poop today. We're not talking "greenish." We're talking St. Patrick's Day green. You have to see it to believe it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Joy of Parenting

Athena was in a holiday show today at her daycare. She was also in it last year, but at six-months old, all she did was appear on a "sleigh" (stroller built for six) with little reindeer antlers on her head. Was it cute? Absolutely. Did it satisfy her star-struck mother. Absolutely not.

So this year, they told us Athena's class would be singing. Now, considering Athena's vocabulary--although impressive--is quite limited, I was looking forward to seeing how she would approach singing with her classmates. Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, they opted for the far more realistic plan of dressing the tots as snowmen and parading them out onto the stage. And this would have been great for yours truly... however, Athena immediately burst into tears once on stage.

I did not jump up to comfort her... I let her have her say. And sure enough... once the applause started, she was delighted to be on stage. She smiled... she looked around... and if the precedent had been set at any time in her life, I'm sure she would have taken a bow. They had a little paper hat on her, a little red scarf, and a snowman cutout was tied around her neck and hanging down her front. We took pictures, but I have misplaced the USB cord, so I shall have to post them later.

After their stellar performance, the toddlers went back to their classroom for milk and cookies. Green cookies, to be precise. Athena enjoyed one and a half of them, giving her teeth a nice green tint. We hung out in her classroom for a little while and then we asked Kathryn, John, and Aiden to join us for dinner. Kathryn works at a different branch of the library, and her son Aiden is almost exactly three months older than Athena. By a fortunate coincidence, we chose the same daycare. So we have gotten them together for several playdates, and we thought it would be fun if we all went out to dinner.

It was fun. We kept the two kids at opposite ends of the table just to keep their minds on food. After dinner, they ran around outside just a little bit, and then we went our separate ways. But not before Athena gave Aiden a big smooch. This is the first time I've seen my daughter kiss another child, and it was terribly cute.

So overall, I would sum up today's events as delightful. This is the reason people become parents... the joy of watching your little girl play, discover, and make friends.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

You Need to Respect My Mad Media Skillz, Yo!

Want to know the easiest way to piss off a librarian? Ask her where she got her Library degree, and then when she tells you, say... "I can't BELIEVE you need a MASTER'S degree to be a LIBRARIAN!!! What did you learn in grad school? Did they make you memorize the Dewey Decimal System?!" This will piss her off partially because it's just plain insulting to insinuate that someone's profession is so mindless that it shouldn't require an advanced degree, but it's mostly irksome because that is EXACTLY what EVERYONE says when a librarian tells them they have a master's degree. Assuming that the person asking isn't also a librarian.

And just so you know, we do not memorize the Dewey Decimal System in grad school. You can really do that easily in a couple of months on the Reference Desk at any library using the blasted system. However, we do learn to use the Dewey and the Library of Congress Subject Headings. And if you ever do wonder why we have advanced degrees, take a look at those volumes one day. Should answer all your questions. (For example: Looking for a cookbook? You should use "Cookery" in the subject line. Those librarians... they really are dorks at heart.)

Now, having told you how essential my Master's Degree is, and after clarifying how exasperating it is when people think it must be the easiest degree in the world, let me tell you what the easiest degree in the world is... An Education Degree. You've all suspected it, I know. But it's true. And before all you card-carrying Education majors get all huffy, you should know that in addition to my Master's Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I also hold a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary English Education.

To get this first degree, I went to the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (class of '92. Go Heels!) Now, before Chris composes all kinds of insulting comments about UNC, let me again stress that I did have some difficult classes, and some generally tough semesters. I'm lucky I got out of American History post 1876 with my GPA in tact, and I DIDN'T get out of Marine Science with it in tact. One semester (Fall of Junior Year, I believe), I had to write 23 papers. That's more than one per week, folks. And I would have had to do another 15 had I not dropped that French Composition class like it was a live cockroach. However, I have to admit that once in a while I got a nice slide course. Introduction to Media was just such a course.

At least, I THINK that's what the class was called. It was in the spring of 91, and as far as I can tell, they no longer require the class. I checked the current course list. But when I was an undergrad, it was a required three-hour class.

So what IS this Media class that was so important and time-consuming I deserved three-hours credit for it? I am SO glad you asked. In it, I learned to do everything any teacher in any classroom in America was expected to know in order to effectively incorporate modern media into her classroom. I learned to thread a film projector. I learned to load and run a slide projector. I mastered the ever-tricky overhead projector. I learned to create a document in a word processing program (I believe it was Word. An EARLY incarnation. And incidentally, MY document received an A+ and was used by the grad assistant teaching the class to demonstrate excellent use of layout, margins, and white space. Nyah!) And most importantly, I learned to make a bulletin board.

Now, you may laugh at how absurd this is. And it was, indeed, absurd. And I haven't even mentioned that one of my assignments was to "evaluate" the educational classic "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego," which took up HOURS of my time in the computer lab testing the game and judging its merits as a classroom tool. (My God, that was the coolest little game, wasn't it?!) But this absurdity gets even absurder (as an English Education major, I have the right to make intentional grammatical errors for humorous effect, by the way)... I took this class AGAIN in grad school.

Now, I need to step in and say that in grad school, the class was NOT required and was only worth an hour of credit. It was only really recommended for those who intended to be school media specialists. I did not intend to be one, but it was 1996, and this class was the only one that promised to expose me to the fine art of Power Point, so I took it. Media had come a long way, but I once again learned all the things I did in undergrad, but just added in a video camera and Power Point. Funny how I had to do MORE for this class, but only got one hour credit. But I digress...

Anyway, I am proud to say that over the past three days, I have put my mad Media skillz to good use. I produced a bulletin board to market our newest, "hottest" titles in the library. And it's a damn fine bulletin board, if I do say so myself. I cut paper. I laminated. I chose a nifty border. I incorporated unoriginal clip art. It's a work of art, I tell you. And I owe it all to those four hours of credit at UNC and UNCG. Thank GOD I got my degree. I couldn't have done it without those hours of training that formed the base of my knowledge of colored butcher paper and laminating film. I'm sure my father rests peacefully in his grave knowing that the money he spent on my college education is going to good use.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Christmas... er... Holiday... Quiz

You Are Dancer

Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.

Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.

Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vocabulary Lesson

I was going to begin this post with a little apology that this is yet another story of the cuteness that is my daughter. But then I thought... the blog is called Mommy Librarian. So either I talk about being a Mommy, or I pontificate on the merits of the Dewey Decimal System. So instead, I invite you to enjoy a post that is NOT about my librarian life, and instead, you may revel in stories of the cutest baby in the whole wide world (TM).

So tonight, I'd like to share with you Athena's growing vocabulary. I do this partially because I am curious as to how many words she is actually regularly using. And rather than a typical alphabetical list, these appear in the order of frequency (as accurately as I can)... listing the words she uses most, first. When there is nothing important of note to say about a particular word or group of words, I've just listed them together so you won't be scrolling for infinity.

More - She says this when she is hungry... which often seems to be all the time. It is usually accompanied by the ASL sign, which she learned in day care. So yes, it means "more" but it also means, "feed me you evil keeper of the pantry door!" And if necessary, she will bodily drag us into the kitchen. Sometimes it takes us a while to catch on.

Juice - This is any liquid refreshment -- juice, milk, water, beer, wine, liquor... you name it. If it's in a glass, it's juice to her. In fact, it's a constant battle to convince her that mouthwash and cooking oil are not actually in the "juice" family.

Apple - Describes any fruit... rarely actually an apple.

Done, Shoes, Socks, Ball, Hi, Bye, Eyes, Nose, Daddy, Mommy

Elmo - This kid loves Elmo. This is a recent development, but we are now watching Elmo in Grouchland almost nightly. Looking for Christmas gift ideas? Give us OTHER Sesame Street DVDs. Please, God, give us something different.

Baboo - Translates as "balloon." Shiny balloons, small balloons, cheap balloons, expensive balloons... she loves them all.

Bath, Doggie, Kitty

Poop - She has said this a few times, usually just before or after she has... well... pooped.

Pizza, Potty, Door, Head, Hair, Hat, Teeth, Ear, Down

Neena - This is how Athena says her own name. It's horribly cute.

So that's about 29 words. We may have missed a few, but this gives you a good idea of where she is. Chris tells me she formed a complete sentence this past weekend... "Want more." Sure, we can argue whether or not this is a complete sentence, but there is an implied subject and a verb... which I believe qualifies it.

Needless to say, we are really geeking out over hearing her vocabulary expand. I think she will really be nattering on by the time her brother arrives. And with her talking all the time, "He Who Must Not Be Named" will be talking by the time he's 6 months old!

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm such a follower

Okay, Brian and Sophie are "frappin," so I am too!

Add your pushpin to the Mommy Librarian map! We'll see where all my friends live!

Isn't it nifty?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Post-Party Update

Well, I never posted an update on how the party went, partially because Chris had such a detailed post about it. However, just so you know... it was fun as always. Not as many people (although 14 kids... which is certainly a record) and not as many gifts in the exchange (20 this year as compared to the 34 last year), but still fun.

Chris and Brian (Sophie's husband) turned out to be the real heros of the day. Chris and Brian put their heads together and between the two of them (I understand Chris came up with the idea and Brian made it happen), we now have a gate at the top of our stairs. They had to go to two different baby stores (twice... long story), but they had it up and working before guests arrived.

Brian also made time to do what had to be the nastiest job of the day, which was cleaning out the cooler from last year. Chris and I had a little misunderstanding last year after our party. I asked him if he emptied out the cooler and he said "Yes." The misunderstanding happened when I thought he was actually listening to the question and giving an honest answer, and he was thinking, "I don't know what she just asked because I was watching football, but if I say 'yes' I bet I won't have to do anything else." So a couple of weeks later when I went to move the cooler from the back porch to the garage, I noticed it was awfully heavy. Lo and Behold, inside were two beers and a few gallons of water! Oh, and some nasty mold/mildew stuff. So I emptied it and left it to dry... and never really got back to it. Brian bravely donned the yellow rubber gloves this year, and armed with Tilex, a sponge, and the water hose, he scrubbed that bad boy clean. Oddly, Brian also made sure the cooler was empty and wiped out before they left the next day. Guess he didn't want to get stuck with THAT job ever again. :-)

Chris got the tree up, and with Athena's instant fascination with it, we have opted for a "Lights Only" tree this year. We'll do ornaments again next year, when Athena is older and The Nameless One is still not really reaching for stuff... well, we hope.

Sophie and I did cook a few things. She had more energy than I, but we both rested often and Sophie actually nodded off on the couch at about 10:30 when most of the guests had left. I'm looking forward to cooking more next year, although with three kids underfoot most of the day, I wonder how productive we'll be. Life is just chugging forward, isn't it?!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What Are the Odds?

I watch very little television. What I DO watch tends to be for kids (for Athena) or something somewhat educational (history, discovery, etc.) And on Sundays, I have a sort of tradition of folding laundry and watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It's one of the few shows on that I find regularly good and worthwhile. And, of course, it always makes me cry. Which I hate to do. Cry at television shows or movies, that is. Not cry in general.

So tonight, I had actually already folded the laundry and I was downstairs heating up a snack. Chris came down to watch his DVRed episodes of Lost, so I asked if he minded if I just catch the opening of Extreme Makeover while my snack finished heating so I wouldn't miss any of the back story. He happily agreed and settled down to watch with me.

Well, I didn't prepare for this episode by going online to see what the family's hardship was. I don't like to do that anyway because I feel the show is better if I just watch it. This week, a widower and his three daughters (ages 6, 2.5 and maybe 8 months... if that old) asked for help. Turns out his wife died ON MOTHER'S DAY, no less, from a heart problem that was related to the strain of pregnancy and delivery.

Now, this is the SECOND time I have done this to my husband. When I was about seven months pregnant with Athena, I dragged him to see Jersey Girl. Not having kept up with reviews, etc., I had no idea that the whole premise of the movie was that the mother dies just after delivering her first child because of a brain aneurism... again, linked to the strain of delivery. In this show, it was apparently several days (perhaps weeks) after the child was born, and this man's wife went to bed and within an hour, died in her sleep. He went to wake her, having no idea something was wrong, and she was gone.

My poor husband was clearly moved by this, and who wouldn't be? Here I am, 34 years old, six months pregnant with my second child, and constantly complaining of my aching back and how tired I am and how much of a strain this pregnancy seems to be putting on my body compared to the last one. Now, I have no idea how often women die secondary to labor and delivery, and I'm sure the numbers are relatively low, but holy crap! How terribly frightening is that to see something, especially in this case a true story, JUST BEFORE you are about to embark on that joyous journey called childbirth?! Yipes.

Sure, it scares me a bit, but honestly, I'm not really worried about it happening to me. However, if I were Chris, I would simply be beside myself. He watched the whole show with me. And he said that it was worse this time (as opposed to Jersey Girl) because he actually has a child now... and he can see better what it would be like. I think this time was also worse (certainly for me) because it wasn't J-Lo dying on a big screen while we were eating popcorn. This was a real woman with three beautiful children. It's a lot harder to put that from your mind.

So as little television as I see (I don't even watch every episode of Extreme Makeover), I managed to catch the most relevant and heart wrenching episode I could and I somehow did it on a night when Chris actually sat down to watch with me. We certainly thought and talked a lot about how fortunate we are. And he told me that if I did die soon after delivery, he would kick my ass. He would do it, too. So I think I'll stick around.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pre-Party Stress

I debated on whether or not to post tonight, since I know the 6th Annual Holiday Party will go swimmingly and if I don't tell you what I'm thinking right now, then you will think I've been cool as a cucumber the whole time. However, a blog is all about honesty, so I will be honest about the pre-party stress. But I do understand, deep down, that it will all be fine. You believe me, right?

Seven years ago, before I met my husband, my friend Cathy and I used to have dinner parties all the time. We always got nervous that something would go wrong, but nothing every really did. I learned that I really enjoyed entertaining (and eating Cathy's cooking), but when I moved to Raleigh, my circle of friends diminished, and soon, I found that my six parties a year had dwindled to two, and then to one.

Now, the holiday party is really the only true party I have each year. Sure, folks come to dinner from time to time, and perhaps there will be a casual get-together for this or that, but this party has become the true focus of my efforts. And since it the only one, and my circle of friends is growing again, there are often a LOT of people there. This year, we are expecting about 55 people. And this year, 14 of those are children age 8 and under. Just shoot me.

The party normally involves preparing 15 or more munchie-type things, plus an "evil Santa" gift exchange. In years past, I begin planning in October and would cook every night for the week before the party. I did it all myself. Chris would help clean the house a little, but really, it was all me.

Two years ago, I agreed to let Sophie help me in the kitchen. Before that, I insisted that no one could help... partially because I wanted everyone at the party to ENJOY the party, and partially (and this is way more honest than I like to be in a public forum) because I missed Cathy and felt kind of like I'd be replacing her. Took me three years to get past that, and still I hope that one year she will actually make the drive down to make the dastardly duo whole again, if only for the one night (although she has to make room for Sophie now.)

And Cathy, that is not a gratuitous plea to make you feel guilty. Although if it worked... so be it. :-)

This year, since both Sophie and I are expecting babies in the early Spring, we sensibly decided that we would let folks bring appetizers this year. It goes against my credo of "don't do anything... just come enjoy the party" but I also know that my pregnant lard-butt cannot possibly stay upright all day and hope to be able to move at all by 7pm when the first guests arrive.

Tomorrow will be a day of cleaning, cooking, trying to find a baby gate for the top of our stairs, and wrapping gifts. Then the guests arrive, and we should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors. The children are going to have party space upstairs, and the big people will be downstairs with wine, beer, and whatever yummy goodness Sophie and I manage to make, plus what people bring.

So here I sit, stressing about how much I have to do, and yet I'm doing none of it. And I am oddly at peace. After six years, I've learned that the party will just work itself out... we'll get it all done, and we'll have a rocking good time. Stress? What stress?

As soon as I recover, I will post pics and hopefully news of what a smashing success it was.