6.29.2008

I Can Count

I just now did the math and realized that our second flight on Tuesday
is 5 hours long. I have a ton of stuff packed, toys, stickers, coloring
books, crayons and books but now I'm wondering if that will be enough to
entertain her for 5 hours. In a row.

We'll have ample snacks, too. Andrea is our official pre-flight snack
packer so I know we'll have plenty of entertaining crackers on hand.
But all of a sudden it's seeming like it's going to be a very long day.

6.27.2008

Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes

I took Val to the park tonight. It was just her and one little boy, he
was about 3. Val played nicely with a truck that someone donated to the
park, she was making macaroni and cheese out of sand in it when the
little boy came running out of nowhere, swiped the toy and threw it into
the sand pit.

I followed him and asked politely for him to get it then give it back to
Val. He ignored me, then took off towards his parents. I followed,
repeating my polite requests so hios parents could hear until they took
notice.

They were a lot less polite with him than I was. It seemed like he
wasn't used to needing to apologize (I didn't ask him for an apology, I
just wanted Val to get the toy back) so he Freaked. Out. Screaming and
carrying on until the dad spanked him.

Eventually he stood and cried but handed Val the toy back. Val was too
stunned by the wailing child before her to say thank you but the truck
came back to her in the end.

I'm not interested in parenting other people's kids, no, not at all.
But I am keenly aware of the example I'm setting for Val. What matters
to me is that she know it's okay, it's necessary to stand up for
yourself and that her moms are always going to back her up, even when
she's not agressive enough or quick enough to know what happened.

Because one day, some kid will swipe a toy from her, kick her for no
reason or just be rude without cause and I want nothing more than for
her to have the confidence and persistance to say 'excuse me, I was
playing with that. Please give it back now.'

Not a few moments later, we drove through the pharmacy to pick up
Andrea's newest round of antibiotics. While I'm waiting, a car pulls up
next to us. It's got 3 kids in the back including a 3ish year old boy.
I am so stunned at this that I stared, stared, stared because what I saw
was that little kid standing up, walking around in the car. No car
seat, not even a seatbelt.

Call me goodie twoshoes but I called the cops. There's a lot of carseat
mayhem that I'll ignore but a completely unrestrained kid who is not
much older than Val? Sorry, peeps but the po-po is going to pay you a
visit.

6.26.2008

We've come a long way in less than 2 years


Bumbo seat, very tasty!
Originally uploaded by liz2d2
Don't you agree?

6.21.2008

Not Automagic

When we got Andrea's fine car, we got a lease so she could get all the
bells and whistles she wanted without costing us a bazillion dollars.
It totally made sense at the time.

A while back we realized that her lease was ending so we looked up what
we'd need to pay it off and also what the car was worth. They were the
same, so perfect! We'll just buy the car and be done!

And then. Gas went up to five fucking dollars a gallon and the value of
her car dropped in half. Add in the more than a few extra miles we've
driven the car and it puts us in kind of a pickle.

At this point we stated to think it might be smart to give the car back
and buy a new, cheaper car. We spent this last week looking and once
again I am reminded of something: car salesmen are chumps.

Andrea didn't know that 'let's sit down' is car salesman chump-speak for
'suh-weet! I'm gonna sell a car!' So when she sat down with the
salesguy today, I walked back into that world where the manager struts
out and does the whole song and dance then gets all fucking offended
when I say we need to go home and talk. I guess most people just sit
down and shell out tens of thousands of dollars without doing any
homework. But I sure as shit don't.

We walked away, of course. We're in no rush, even if good old Ahmad the
sales manager with the cheap cologne said the same thing over and over
again. Apparently if I say 'let's work on the bottom line price' that
indicated Ahmad that we were ready to buy.

Sure dude. And the piece of paper with your made-up numbers is a
contract.

I also love how these guys try to tell me that interest rates don't
matter, how they wave away my questions like each question I'm asking
isn't directly related to another dollar that I'd be spending.

Who knows what we'll do next. We're at home, talking about it, despite
Ahmad's disappointment that we're not driving that new Jeep right now.

6.17.2008

Food Blog
AmFam wrote this post about Mr. A's proposed food blog. Go read it now, I'll wait.

In case you didn't read it, the jist of it is that no matter where they go to eat, he has to rush home due to intestinal issues. This got me to thinking about my own culinary experiences, which largely mirror Mr. A's. So now, when that happens, I just tell Andrea, we gotta go, Food Blog! and we're outta there, rushing home to deal with my 'issues'.

6.15.2008

Memory lane


Empirial gardens at Suzhou
Originally uploaded by liz2d2
Just felt like going back to those cold, interesting, smoggy days in China...

6.13.2008

Last time we went to the pediatrician, I almost had a shouting match with her. Granted, it wasn't our 'main' ped, it was the new doc to the practice. She's an older doc and apparently not well-read on modern carseats (though she knew the newest guidelines around heart murmurs and dental work so silly me, I thought she knew about carseats too). So when I said that Val would be rear-facing for quite a while yet she promptly told me to flip her seat around since seats 'can't hold a kid over 20 lbs rear-facing.'

Yo, doc. The middle ages called. They want their carseats back.

Today's convertible carseats rear-face to at least 30 lbs (save this god-awful thing by Combi that nobody should spend good money on). There's a reason for this and it's easy.

Rear-facing is safer. Period. Kids in Sweden rear-face up until they're 5 or so and you know what? They have almost no child fatalities in car accidents. How about that.

So I was shocked and pissed to hear Dr. Dark Ages tell me that I should absolutely flip Val around even though at the time she weighed just 1 lb over the minimum. Thanks for the crap advice but hell no, lady, we won't be listening to you.

Rather than just bailing on the practice, I called months in advance to get an appointment with the Real Doctor and today, I came prepared. I had a stack of handouts about extended rear-facing and what do you know, she listened to everything I had to say and thanked me for the info. I really do think she'll read it all and pass it along to other parents.

My work here is done. For now.

Here are those links again: Car-Safety.org - Why Rear-Facing is Safest
CPS Safety article - Rear-facing - Unmatched Safety
About.com - Rear-Facing Car Seat Rules - Why You Should Consider Extended Rear-Facing
Rear-facing crash test, compare this to:
Forward-facing crash test and you'll see why it makes total sense to leave your kids rear-facing as long as possible.
Longer video about why this is important

Val weighed in at 25 pounds with clothes on so she's got 8 more pounds to go before she rides forward-facing. FYI, it's how much a kid weighs fully clothed that's the measure for car seat weight. Why? Because that's the amount of weight the seat will need to restrain in a crash. Unless your kid rides naked.

I had no idea about any of this until Val was turning one and weighed less than that magical 20 lb MINIMUM for forward-facing. Then I started checking out our options and I saw two videos on YouTube showing how carseats work. Rear-facing seats absorb the impact. Kids in forward-facing seats absorb that impact with their neck and shoulders.

Seat? Your kid's neck. You decide. For us it's a no-brainer. I'll let our seats do the work. When people give me shit about it, saying Val should be turned I have but one answer, a very firm 'It's Just Safer.' Doesn't everyone want what's safest for their kids?

Or is it better to let junior see out the window?

Anyway, I'm pleased as hell that Real Doctor was so receptive even if I did have to give her the AAP's carseat guideline (something she should've had herself in the first place).

Tune in next time as I share with you all the benefits of extended harnessing. Listen as I laugh maniacally at the notion of Val ever riding in a booster seat. If you want to read ahead on that, go to

www.kyledavidmiller.org.

Other future plans include spending part of my sabbatical next year getting certified as a carseat tech so I can wave a fancypants laminated card around when I talk about these things.

6.10.2008

No, I Don't Watch Ellen

Yesterday I took Val to a different branch of our gymnastics place.
We've found ourselves with extra time after school so I thought I'd give
running around and jumping some more a try. In theory, we should get a
discount because it's the same company but holy shit they were confused
by this so for now, I paid full price.

I know, I paid too much.

Anyhoo, Val did really well. She did more of the moves than she's ever
done, log rolling, dinosaur kicking, forward and backward-rolling her
way through the class. Afterwards, I went to pay and fill out forms.

At this point, Val is quite cranky so I'm trying to get it taken care of
quickly (see: I know, I paid too much) so I can get the hell out of
there. I fill out Val's emergency form, which has a line for emergency
contact. I put Andrea's name, and write mother for the relationship.
Lest the chippie behind the desk think that somehow this makes me not
Val's mom, I say, we're a two-mom family so don't be confused when you
see her emergency contact.

My. God. This inspired the chippie in ways I'd not imagined possible or
remotely necessary. Wow! She has a friend who has two moms!

Great, I say, how much do I owe? Undeterred, the chippie keeps going on
and on about how many gay friends she has, how it's no big deal to her,
blah blah.

Meanwhile, Val is getting more and more crabby and I just want to pay
and get the hell out of there. But no. Ms. I'm Gay Friendly just kept
going, despite my polite non-reponses and in the face of my increasingly
upset toddler.

Finally, I pay too much and take Val to the bathroom, thinking we're
finally done with the chippie.

But no. We walk by the desk and she's at it again, telling me how nice
it is that we landed at this sports place, how nice that we feel
comfortable here. Honey, it's not church. It's a business and in the
end, many businesses are glad to take money from pretty much everyone,
even heathens like us.

I murmur and try to get Val out the door as the chippie blathers on.
But no. She wants to know if we saw Ellen the other day. Um, no.
Because you see, BEING GAY DOES NOT DEFINE EVERY ASPECT OF MY FUCKING
LIFE so in fact we seek out the same kind of interesting tv that
everyone else does. I don't drive a gay car, my house is not queer,
though all fixed, our dogs are not genderque.er, we're just people.
We're just a family.

So shut up and let me leave.

Because in the end I think most people want to get on with their daily
lives. No, obviously I'm not keen to get a lot of shit from strangers
about my exciting alternate lifestyle, but even though we're a two-mom
family, that doesn't mean I want to spend an extra 10 minutes hearing
nothing but well-intentioned gay-friendly babble when my child is
melting down.

Some friends of mine were talking about how best to interact with trans
folk that you may meet in the course of your day. Say you figure out
that the person is trans, chances are that person is so not looking for
you to say 'omg! You're trans! I love trans people!'

No, chances are people who are going about their daily lives just want
the same kind of quiet recognition that you'd give anyone else. A
polite smile, a hi, how are you, that's it.

Yes, obviously I shouldn't have said anything to that woman at all. But
if she starts in again I will politely say 'thanks for sharing but we
really need to get home.'

And yes, I paid too much.

6.09.2008

Proof that she uses chopsticks

Like you needed it but I love the picture anyway. Enjoy!

How Does This Work?

All you married people out there, I need some advice. Yes, it looks very much like that Andrea and I will be getting hitched, though my dreams of being hugely pregnant for this event have obviously been dashed, thus removing a myriad of potential jokes about having a shotgun wedding. Though of course given that we have Val already, there's plenty of opportunity to talk about the cart going before the horse and that sort of thing. I guess you could also add those about why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, though.

Anyhoo. So we're planning to do this. Not sure where or when. I'd imagined a classy little affair at city hall but it turns out that city hall only (which is actually the county) does weddings between 10 am - 3:40 pm, Tuesday-Friday. Not exactly convenient if you have a day job and no plans to be whisked away on a honeymoon immediately afterwards.

So we're looking at other options, all of which will be small because well, big=lots of cash and that's not an option for us right now, probably not ever because as you know, I'm cheap.

In the meantime, I've resolved to change my name. Not just my last name, but my first. At long fucking last I will just be Liz. You cannot possibly fathom the peace I feel at testing out my new name 'Liz T..!'

I realized that since I'll be going for that change, I may as well ditch my middle name as well, though if my parents found out it would no doubt upset them. But hey, I don't particularly like it, I never tell anyone what it is because I don't like it so why not ditch it with the impending name change?

My confirmation name is Marta, yes, after my Grandma. So I'm thinking I'll become Liz Marta D... T. Just like Val. Good times, no?

From what I can tell, if you just change your name without getting married, this costs you $320. But if you're married, you can apparently just wave your marriage license around places like the DMV and get new things issued in your new name. FOR FREE!

Of course I like the free option but what I want to know is, besides the risk of running into some asshole at the DMV who feels the need to comment/hold back changing things because of their own personal views of gay marriage, along with changing my last name for free, can I throw in the other changes as well? Or am I stuck paying $320 for the priveledge of being known as Liz on All Documents Related to Me?

I also read something about getting a new birth certificate issued with your new name. I'm not too keen on this, since many years ago when I was born, then adopted, I got a new one issued at that time. I kinda feel like 1 abandoned birth certificate is enough for one lifetime. Plus, um, it's not like I'm being reborn though I guess you could argue in a manner of speaking I would be...

So, what say you? Can I become Liz T on my marriage license? Do I need a new birth certificate to complete this change?

And can you believe that I'm talking about any of this like it's going to happen????

And Now For Something Completely Different

I offer you the 50 best pun stores, courtesy of Bubbles, who is now of the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy!

6.07.2008

Fitting Room Fiesta, And Getting A Gallon Of Assvice

After all these months of trying to get pregnant, arriving at this point
where we're taking some time off is easier than I would've thought.
It's just nice to focus on Val, to even focus on each other for a
while. Like we're taking a step back and looking at all the things that
combine to make us want another child. Eventually. Maybe long after
this crazyass bloating, a gift from Cl.omid, goes away and my normal bra
size returns for a while.

Though today I had a real party bra shopping with Val.
Val: those are yours boobies!
Me: yes, they are. (Tries to turn away but with the mirror and the
stroller, I was doomed. And desperate for new bras since suddenly my
old ones were cutting off circulation. I suspect this is due in part to
the extra hormones that I've been subjected to the last few months.)
Val: you made milk from yours boobies. For me!
Me: (ignoring the woman in the next fitting room's chuckles) yes,
honey, I did.
Val: why?
Me: (please, child, do not get me started lest you feel guilty for all
that effort and though it was a hurculean effort I hope and pray she
never once feels guilty. That effort was my choice, and a fantastic one
at that.) Because it's healthier.

At this point, she went back to eating her churro and I was free to
resume the trying on of bras with toddler in tow.

Did you know that la.ne bry.ant sells bras with inflatable padding in
them? Does this store not know that it caters to full-figured ladies?

And speaking of that place, did you know that they really have fantastic
underwear? There's my assvice to you bigger-boned gals.

In fertility awareness news, I had a spectacular, rapid-fire meeting
with a co-worker yesterday, I got handed a rather large serving of
well-intended assvice/innapropriate comments that included this:

Co-worker: why do you want another kid anyway (CW has but one child
herself)
Me: (sighing and rolling my eyes on the inside) because there's an empty
chair at my table.
CW: then just take that chair away!
Me: (again with the sighing and rolling of eyes, this time out loud)
THAT WAS A METAPHOR!

Other suggestions were equally special. I'd list them all but
re-reading this would only irritate me. So instead, just close your
eyes and picture all (and I mean ALL) of the possible ways 2 women could
make a baby together. Then picture yourself coming up with all those
ways and suggesting them to a rather out lesbian who already has
(conceived and birthed) a child with her female partner. You might end
up looking a little silly, even if your intentions are good.

This particular person needs to know about our efforts because they've
taken me away from the office quite a bit and she's someone who needs to
keep track of my schedule to some degree. Were there any way to have
not shared this little nugget of information with her, I would've held
back.

But hey, maybe I just gave you three a list of what not to say. Like so
many situations, a simple 'I'm sorry to hear that, what can I do to
support you?' is, and remains, a perfectly fantastic answer.

This concludes today's installment of What's Wrong With My Junk?

6.04.2008

Val's getting to be That Age where people find it reasonable to ask if we're Thinking About Having Another.  Perhaps because Val is oh so very excellent that it seems natural that we'd want another child just like her, or perhaps because now that she's past that adorable baby phase, we'd want to return to that phase sometime soon, giving up our largely-uninterruped sleep and augmenting the joys of our 99% potty-trained child with a wee child who doesn't sleep much and who blows through diapers at a ridiculously fast rate. 
 
Until now, I didn't have a good answer for this question because 1. I find it kind of rude/personal (note: I find virtually all questions of a personal nature rude/too personal to be asked of aquaintences so this could be just me.) and 2. because we have indeed thinking very very fucking hard about this question since late last year when on a whim we headed up to San Francisco, to once again grace the Hallowed Halls of Sperm Distribution and just see what happens.
 
What's happened so far is 8 cycles of nothing and about $10,000 (that is the correct amount of zeros) spent, er, wasted, in what's becoming a very fruitless effort.
 
Considering that it took us 3 cycles to conceive Val, this makes no goddamn sense to me.  And every. single. failure. breaks my heart all over again.  Each time is a whole different set of pain, it's hard to explain but it sucks, it just fucking sucks.
 
At this point, you may be thinking 'well, you have Val, and she's quite swell.  Just be happy you have her.'  And I assure you, we are very very much happy, no, thrilled to have Val.  But (and there's always a but) there's this empty seat at our table that needs to be filled, there's room in our hearts for two kids and goddamn it, we'd like to use up every inch of that room on two kids.  I see Val playing by herself at home and I think, yes, this is fine, just fine, but it'd be even nicer if she had someone else to play with and be irritated by.
 
Plus, I'm always looking for an excuse to buy another carseat.
 
You may also be thinking of your friends, or friends who also struggled with this and eventually had some cathartic moment that allowed them to 'relax' and poof! They got pregant.
 
Those stories are really nice, especially if your sex life regularly involves sperm.  But, um, ours doesn't so that sort of leaves us with charting, temping, ultrasounds, oral medications and really painful shots in the ass.  And as you can imagine, it's really hard to relax when you're on an exam table, tilted backwards, holding on so you don't slide off backwards for an ultrasound because your ovaries, which at one time in the not-so-distant past worked overtime to help create a little girl who is just fucking amazing, well, those ovaries no longer seem to be up to the job.  Add in the fact that our sperm donor has long stopped donating, that we own/have wasted much of what's left already and the pressure just adds up. 
 
If we didn't have Val already, we'd likely have switched to a different donor.  But I'm so not wanting to do that.
 
I do not see how it's possible to have that happen and be able to 'just relax'.
 
We've been trying for so long that Val now has a bit of a ritual at the sperm bank.  She ransacks the drawers, removing a giant swab (think of a q-tip on steriods) then after we're done runs around this open area outside the bathrooms waving the swab like it's a baton.  She also likes to point out 'Mommy's parts!' which is a real hoot for all of us.  Add to that the fact that my innards seem to have moved around since Val -- did you know this routinely happens after you have a kid?  Maybe you wouldn't, unless you need to have a tiny catheter threaded up your junk in order to make a baby.  Because if that's how you have to try, you might find yourself in the company of a well-meaning nurse practitioner with limited social skills who Cannot Find The Right Spot To Save Her Life and eventually feels the need to admonish me for being so difficult.  We ended that attempt by her asking Andrea if she wanted to admire the 'cute cervix.'  Pretty fucking swell, considering that 'cute cervix' was mine and I was already in pain from the many minutes of poking and prodding I'd had to endure to get to that point.  No, I said, please, just remove that speculum now, if you don't mind.
 
One amazing thing that's happened during all of this is that Andrea's company got bought by the Evil Empire.  And you know what?  The Evil Empire has fucking kickass insurance.  So much so that THEY COVER THE PURCHASE OF FROZEN SPERM.  Nobody does this.  75% of the money we've spent has been on that shit and here comes EE with their amazing insurance, insurance considers frozen sperm a 'supply.'  Thank the Jesus for this.  It also covers a shitload of infertility services, including IVF, another thing that nobody seems to cover.
 
So, given that this magic new insurance has arrived in our lives and given that attempt #8 was a bust, we're taking some time off.  Later this year, we'll hit the House Of Infertility Treatment at the Giant University up the road, we'll use our amazing insurance to cover whatever they have in store for my womanly parts and, God willing, we will, at some point have another child.
 
But for the moment, we're taking a break and trying to pay down the bigass bill we've run up so far.  And yes, crying a lot. 
 
I won't be posting when our next efforts resume.  Last time around it was way too hard to have people asking me how it was going, the final straw was when our goalie asked if I'd been 'inseeeminated.'  I'm hoping to avoid all such questions now so vagueness is the best protection against that.
 
I had so hoped to post this along with a cute little annoucement about how Val's going to be a Big Sister next year but that's just not in the cards.  Instead I'll tell you that this post was brought to you by Tampax, Advil and Kleenex.
 
 

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6.03.2008

Civic Duty

I got called for jury duty (heh, I said doodie) this week. This means
checking a website to see when to report, if you're going to need to.
Yesterday I didn't have to go but today I did. I dreaded it on so many
levels:

-having to pawn off my work, possibly, for a week or more

-having to interact with a very broad sampling of the General Public for
a week or more

-having to figure out childcare on one or more Fridays

-the thought of having to send Val to preschool for another day per week
when in a lot of ways, she's just not settling in too well

But none of those things are compelling enough to get me out of my civic
duty. So I braced myself, ready for whatever may come.

The thing I didn't think to check until today was my company's policy on
jury duty. Turns out I'd only get paid for the first 2 weeks of a
trial, then I'd need to take PTO, after that, if the trial's still
going, I'd have to take a leave of absence. Unpaid.

So today, I sit in a very hot room with my fellow prospective jurors
listening to a voice over a loudspeaker tell us where to park and where
the restrooms were, after we'd parked and all walked past the
restrooms. Eventually the voice told us all to head upstairs to a
courtroom. We'd been assigned to a courtroom. Woo.

At this point, I'm ready. Bring it on. I'll see what the courtroom
adventure brings.

A clerk calls everyone's name. During this process, no less than three
people answered to names that were not their own (um, don't you know
your own name??). Finally the judge comes in and informs us that even
though we're in a civil courthouse, we're being considered for a
criminal case.

On a trial that's expected to take about two months.

Two months! Who has that kind of time? And more importantly for me, I
knew I'd only be paid for about 2 weeks of that 2 months. That seemed
like it would qualify for hardship but I wasn't sure if the judge would
agree. Though surely the man must have a mortgage too?

The people not asking for hardship exclusions were given a survey to
complete, then they were to return on Thursday with those surveys. The
rest of us were booted into the hallway and called back in 1 by 1 to
plead our cases.

I watched about half of my fellow excemption requesters come out with
surveys in their hands, meaning their requests were denied. I started
trying to figure out how we'd get by if I didn't get a paycheck for 6
weeks but finally it was my turn.

I stepped up to that microphone like a pro, waited for the judge to
address me, then answered the questions. It took about 30 seconds for
the judge to ask the other folks in the room if they had any objections
to my being excused.

They didn't. I was free to go. Woo hoo!

I wouldn't have minded serving but I would have minded blowing our
savings to cover 6 weeks with no pay. Maybe next time I'll get to grace
those vinyl chairs for a trial.

6.02.2008

This Will Break Your Heart

Me: Val, did you cry at school today?
Her: Yes.
Me: How come?
Her: Because I was waiting for my mommy.

Sigh.