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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tesla Week One

The first week of work has come and gone, and I have several take-aways.

There is so much to do and so much for me to learn. Both of these things are good. I love that I'm out of my comfort zone and learning about something totally foreign to me.(Amperage and voltage and connectors and CAN networks!)

I got to ride in Elon's roadster at orientation. It was zippy. The team has a Model S with test software in it that one of the team takes home over the weekend. Once I get training, I'll get to do that too.

I still know way more than the average bear when it comes to how IT systems interlink. They're using a lot of familiar systems and some I wish we'd been running instead of what we had chosen. In general, I approve of their IT choices. They're doing a great job of linking everything through their AD so that you have one login to get you everywhere.

I don't so much have a desk, office, cube or anything like that. I have a table. I don't have a drawer (yet). They're working on getting me that. It's an open-plan office, so there's zero privacy. I have to check the guy behind me so that I don't roll back directly into his chair when I get up.

The guy behind me is a treat. Marv is an older gent. He rolled back my first day and said, "There's no place to eat around here, so I just get in my car and drive. Makes me feel like I'm doing something real to get out of the office for a bit. It's good." Another day he started talking about how folks don't say goodbye when they leave for the day. This was disappointing to him, a lack of good manners. I said that sometimes folks sneak off because they don't want to interrupt your flow at the end of the day when you're trying to finish up. He said that was a good point. I make sure to say goodbye when I'm leaving. He got caught dozing off at his desk on Thursday. It was a classic five-minute cat nap. When called on it by his boss, he wasn't cowed. He said, "Sometimes the brain gets full and you've just got to shut down and restart like a computer." I have to say that just made me respect him more. He's confident, and customer focused, and does what he needs to do to get things done, even if it doesn't necessarily look good. I know I've had those days of droop where five minutes closing my eyes makes the difference of two more hours of torture and drowsiness versus two hours of productivity.

Another adventure is the food problem. There are no restaurants nearby and Tesla provides coffee, soda, and carbs. If you want cereal or pretzels, you're covered. Otherwise, you need to bring food or buy from a food truck (one per day, with little visibility to the menu before you walk up to the truck), or buy from Eat Club by 10:30 a.m. That's a far cry from the half dozen eateries within a 5-10 minute walk at Stanford. I miss my chicken taco and side of pinto beans.

The biggest challenge for me is the a/c. I miss my window that opens to let in the day's weather. Here, the a/c duct looms above us and seems to blow more and more forcefully as the day wears on. It blows on the left side of my head and dries out my left eye, leaving me wondering why I'm getting a headache until I put my hand up to block the breeze. Then I remember. I brought in a long, heavy cardigan to wear over my outfit daily. When the guys around me are complaining about how cold it is, I know it's not just that I'm being wimpy.

Right now, I'm trying to link some orphaned symptoms to causes in the troubleshooting database and to fill out some additional information about those symptoms. It's a fun puzzle to tease apart. There are 8000 articles in the system right now and I'm sort of wishing I could print them all out and take them to a white board wall and build a big map. Instead, it's going to me and a spreadsheet and the system graphs trying to get it all to knit together. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

28 Months

I'm no longer employed by Stanford University. That's weird. It's really hard to let go of all the stuff that's been in my head for so long. I still care about things getting done, but I'm not allowed to care about them anymore formally. I did manage to get things handed off mostly gracefully and I finished up several things effectively so that Jo-Ann never has to pick them up, so that's awesome. The one thing I put off too long was getting my items off AFS, so I don't have copies of a lot of the e-learning items I developed, some of which went back to creating PeopleSoft walkthroughs using Dreamweaver and anchor tags on images to simulate clicking through a procedure. These were created before there were tools like Capitvate or Viewlet Builder or Articulate Storyline. I don't miss those days, but I do wish I had a copy. I ran into a problem with the computers at work - my Mac being persnickety about tokens and my Windows machine having connectivity issues, so I decided to do it when I got home since I'd have til midnight, but it'd been a very long week and I dozed off after getting Athena to bed, then ran into problems using the computers here. We had it figured out by about 1 a.m., but that was too late. All of the systems did their job well and flushed me away promptly at midnight. Now I need to see if someone can sponsor me for a day to make a copy. Or, I can let it go.

Stanford threw me a lovely going away party. It's always nice to find out that the folks I value the most feel much the same about me. I'm just really going to miss the people I worked with. Stanford is chock full of people who are smart and get stuff done, both at work and outside of what they get paid for. They're my people through and through.

Anyway, I had a lovely week off where I had four days with Athena at school to take care of all the stuff that I can't usually get to. I cleaned out my closet, the hall closet, Athena's closet, the laundry room closet, did the four-month backlog of ironing, took clothes to the tailor for hems, took shoes to the shoe repair, and also managed to get a pedicure. I also confirmed that I really don't have time for this normally. There are still things I very much wanted to get done - cleaning out our back room, emptying the living room shelves and organizing them properly, cleaning out the pantry and bathroom closets, shopping for new hiking boots (since my current ones are too tight, post-pregnancy), and so on. But still, it felt really good to get a huge swath of stuff taken care of and to feel for just a moment that things were under control enough to go to work on Tuesday with confidence and security about how things were situated at home.

But then, I went to pick up Athena at daycare on Thursday while Erik picked up his car from the body shop and I got rear-ended. So now I have to deal with getting my car fixed.

And then, Athena went to school Tuesday morning and before I'd walked into my orientation for Tesla, her school called and said they suspected hand-foot-and-mouth disease and she needed to be picked up immediately and taken to the doctor. That's when I kind of lost it.

See, when I left Stanford, I had over 600 hours of sick leave on the books, plus 180 hours of vacation. The vacation I got paid out for, but the sick leave just goes poof! That alone was a huge limiter in deciding to take the job. I asked if perhaps I could have a few days leave on the books to start so that I could take care of just this sort of emergency. I'd heard that this was a reasonable thing to ask for in negotiations for a new job. The answer was that Tesla didn't do that and weren't going to start that precedent with me. Great. Okay, so, that leaves me hanging for the first several months (well, year really) til I have enough accrued that I could take a day here or there to take care of Athena. I figured if I could at least make it til summer, it'd be okay once Erik finished teaching as he has the summer off. Then maybe we could actually stand to go back east as planned for Christmas without destroying all of my leave (since Tesla offers 15 days PTO accrual per year, with no separation for sick leave versus vacation). Well, that didn't happen.

Instead, I walked in for my first day of work, said I had to go pick up my daughter, and left to make an appointment at Kaiser. She did indeed have HFM disease and would need to be out of school all week. I contacted my recruiter and told him I couldn't start til next Monday. So here I am, unpaid, not starting work when I planned, and looking up at that glass ceiling thinking that yes, motherhood and career truly are incompatible unless you're making enough to have 24/7 nanny care at your beck and call. (Hello Marissa Mayer. Must be nice.) We'll get through this, and I'll just file it under reason number #127 why I never wanted to have kids. It's a good thing she's so darned adorable. I love her to pieces, and I'm glad she's here, and I chose this path, but damn, it is a choice full of consequences. I sincerely hope that my manager (and his bosses) are as understanding as they sound in the emails they've exchanged this week and that I haven't just started off on the wrong foot entirely.

Also, my health insurance for Stanford runs out on Saturday night. My health coverage for Tesla starts Monday, June 2nd now. After the past week, I'm staying home on Sunday, not lifting anything heavy, and probably going to skip eating anything I might choke on. Let's not tempt fate, m'kay?

But, speaking of adorable, Athena is adorable. She has picked up the phrase, "You have to wait." I think there is a lot of waiting to have a turn at school. I'm fairly certain that by 3, she'll be passing the marshmallow test with flying colors. Also, to our amazement, she likes stickers now. Like, really loves them. It developed over the past month. They went from being awful sticky things to being something she wanted on her hand, her shirt, her knee, etc. I think part of it may be from Clementine's injury where she had a band-aid on her face.

Okay, so that brings us to the single-biggest news-item of the month. Just ask Athena. She will tell you, "Clemmy fell down in the tan bark. She got an owie. I had to give her a hug. And a kiss. Her mommy came and got her. She got a band-aid. I got a cookie monster band-aid too." We have heard this story so many times over the past month that it's hard to believe it was just a month ago. Also, she's burying the headline. The owie was a splinter that was bigger than a toothpick jammed in Clemmy's cheek. Seriously. I dare not post pictures lest friends faint at their computers, but feel free to ask if you want to know. It's just amazing. Her mom posted a photo on Facebook at the doctor before they pulled it out and gave her a couple of stitches and a band-aid. The amazing part is that a week later, all that was left was a faint red mark. Gotta love those long telomeres of youth! Clemmy and Athena are back to running around like lunatics at school like nothing ever happened.

We went to Yosemite to visit John and Becky and Penelope. I got a hand-me-down pack from the Stanford Parent-Net list and Athena LOVED it. I wanted to test her out in it at home before we went hiking to be sure she'd fit and be comfortable and what not.
She loved it!
The next morning we almost couldn't get her out the door to school. She wanted to "go up high" right now. Suggestions that we'd do that once we got to Yosemite were not acceptable. But, we did go to Yosemite, and hiked around the valley, and she went up high and loved it. She also loved playing with Penelope in her pack as well.

For Erik's birthday, we used PNO at Action Day to let us have a games party with all the little fiddly pieces. Athena watched Frozen for the first time. She's now totally down with full-length movies.

The next day we headed to Penelope and Alexander's first birthday party in SF. It was a blustery day, but Athena was ready to rampage through the playground. Save for the moment of singing and cupcakes, one of us was on duty in the playground with her the rest of the time.

For Mother's Day, we shared dim sum with the Lendvays and Christyn and Brian, then headed out to the park to tire out the kids. It worked like a charm! They rampaged like maniacs for a couple of hours. Then we headed home and walked over to an open house on Layton. It was a gorgeous remodel at the end of a court. The realtor had roses for Mother's Day so she let Athena give me one. Then we headed home and she settled in for a nice long nap.
You're never too young to stop and smell the roses.

On the 17th, we had Clemmy over for the day while her moms went to a work event. We learned once and for all that two two-year-olds is more fun that one. They played til they were exhausted. Then Athena said, "Clemmy's tired. We should have a rest." And they did. Athena insisted that Clemmy use her crib, and they both crashed for nearly 3 hours. Then they got up and had yogurt together and just generally spent the whole darned day giggling. It was awesome.

The next day, we went with Brian and Christyn for a morning hike at Castle Rock. Athena crashed out cold at 2 p.m., allowing us to have a lovely, leisurely lunch of steak, cous cous spinach salad, and sugar snap peas tossed with olive oil and lemon pepper. Yum! We'd just climbed into the hot tub when Athena woke up, so she joined us and all was right in the world.

The following weekend, Kelly and Cole took Athena while I had my birthday party. They had a blast. Nicole sent us a couple of videos as evidence. She had her very first sleepover, and that seemed to go well til both girls woke up at 4 a.m. and started chattering. They split them up into two rooms and everyone got a bit more sleep. Unfortunately, Athena was likely already contagious with her HFM then, so we were unsurprised with Clemmy came down sick today.

Meanwhile, my party was delightful. We emptied the living room of furniture, throwing it all onto the patio, creating a swank and comfy social space lit with tiki torches and paper lanterns. Inside, Brian and Erik hooked up the stereo speakers and we tried out the room for dancing. The verdict is that it's the best space I've ever had for dancing at home. It's more than large enough for any kind of Irish, great for five or six couples doing swing, perfect for at least six couples waltzing, and could probably fit more easily, but we didn't have enough critical mass. Also, removing all the furniture took less than a half hour, and with five people on the task, took about 10 minutes to put back, so yes, we will do this again. Oh yes. Soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

27 Months

Yeah, so we kind of skipped 26 months there. Sorry about that y'all. I'll do my best to get it all in here, but suffice to say, things have been more than usually busy and stressful, and I felt like things were in such a state of flux that I never felt like writing it down. Look - a cute picture of Athena!
Some days, the cute makes it nigh impossible to get to work.
But, this past week, the biggest change to come to my life in a long time, short of having a child, has arrived. I am going to be changing jobs on May 27th and leaving Stanford. On February 13th, Stanford announced a reorganization. This moved all of the projects I was working on from IT Services to Administrative Systems. All of the technical staff working on those projects also moved. The support services staff stayed behind like some sort of bizarre computing Rapture. There was a big math problem for me there. If I was paid by projects, and my project dollars left and went to an organization that previously laid me off with the expressed perspective that client support was not their responsibility, then how exactly was I going to continue to have a job going forward? Hrm...

So, I contacted some friends about working for their companies and applied for a few jobs within Stanford. Tesla got my resume and called me the next day and scheduled a phone interview immediately following the holiday weekend. The gig sounded interesting so away we went. We started through a series of interviews. I figured that in the interim, I'd find out if I was getting laid off or not and how my job was going to change.

Fast forward through 2 months of anxiety, clandestine job interviews, and upheaval at work. I'm still not sure whether or not I would've gotten laid off at Stanford. I don't think so. Jim did some heroic work to position our group to support the three central IT organizations at Stanford - ITS, AS, and ISO. I think he may have made it work, but it's still not settled, which is a problem, because I had a job offer with a clear path forward, and no clue how things were going to work at Stanford after the dust settled.

So, off I go to the first totally new job in 13 years! I'll be tackling turning a wiki of service solutions into a professional product that can be used by Tesla service technicians around the world. It sounds like a great puzzle to solve - finding duplicates, filling in gaps, and professionalizing the language and presentation. It's going to be a big adventure!

Meanwhile, in the further adventures of life with a 2 year old, we've got one heck of a stinkin' cute kid. Her very latest thing is singing the song "Slippery Fish." Here's an example of the song.

Last week, this led to a moment of silliness where she was asking Erik for a video, and Erik texted me at dinner with friends asking what she was on about. I had no idea. Something about a great white shark. No clue. But two of the women there with me had 3 year olds, so I asked the collective and blammo, Slippery Fish. Sure enough, that was the thing. They proceeded to do all the gestures. Then they explained that in their home versions, Cthulu and a kraken also get involved. Do you ever have one of those moments where you realize you know all the right people? Yeah. Of course, when I tried that on Athena, she informed me that that is not how it goes. When I persisted, she covered my mouth with her hand.

Athena learned this song at school, where I suspect she hears a lot of songs. She also became an enormous fan of "Let it Go" unbeknownst to me until one morning when we're listening to an interview of the couple who got the Oscar for the music. They played a clip of the song, and she immediately said, "It's Elsa's song!" And then I knew about that. I downloaded the song to my "Athena's Favorites" playlist and there have been many days of singing "Let it Go!" repeatedly at the top of our lungs on the way to school.

We had an exciting moment last week where we got a notification of a Code Blue lockdown at her school. The director didn't have much more information, but when one of the other local schools decided to evacuate, they let us know that EH was in voluntary evacuation as well. Meanwhile they were keeping the kids locked safely indoors. I decided that I was going to get there to pick up Athena early. I arrived and Athena said, "Oh, it's Mommy! Mommy, it's circle time! Come sit." She was not giving up her time with the books. This is a girl after my heart. We sat through one story and I thought maybe we'd get moving after that, but they pulled out the next book and she said, "Oh, I like this story. One more?" I said okay. Five stories later, most of the kids were starting to get bored and wander off. Athena was still rapt, but they said, "Okay, story time is over." I thanked her teachers for letting us stay and shuffled her out the door. This also managed to explain one of the greatest mysteries I'd had around the house. At bedtime, in her darkened bedroom, Athena had turned to me and said, "The wolf is coming." What I didn't realize, and couldn't figure out, was that this was not some strange subliminal Dr. Who reference, but was the name of a story at school. Gotta say, late at night, it's darned creepy when your kid says that to you with deepest sincerity. (We've got a used copy on order via Amazon.)

So you're getting the idea that Athena loves books, right? Here's her doing her rendition of "The Pigeon Has Feelings Too."
I think this was the third time that night. Her favorite right now is Dragons Love Tacos. She's almost got it all memorized too.

She also loves music. She sung us her words for the French song "Alouette" this month. It goes, "All wet-ah, jumping in the water. All wet-ah, gonna swim and play." That works! One of her favorites on YouTube is the series from SuperSimpleSongs that involve the owl and the star. She started with Twinkle Twinkle, which promo'd Little Snowflake, and finally led us to hunt for more. The "bear song" is her favorite now and I realized this was going to be a thing really fast, so I memorized it one afternoon so that I could sing it for her at bedtime. This also led to a new tradition. In the video, the mama bear remembers their day together. Now we sing the song, then talk about all the things that happened today, then sing the song again before drifting off to sleep. It's kind of a magical way to close the day.

In other "my kid is so awesome" news, Athena is crazy polite. We were in the car and I sneezed and she said, "Bless you mommy!" And I said, "Thank you Athena." And she replied, "You're welcome." I swear she gets this from school. I love Early Horizons.

Also, she likes to floss.
I have got find a way to get this to my hygienist.
 March is of course home to my second-favorite annual holiday (after Halloween): St. Patrick's Day. Oh yes, the one day of the year when the rest of the world gives a care about Irish dance. On Friday at work, Stanford Ceili did a demo for the Staffers party and I dragged coworkers into the act. On Saturday night, we went to the Stanford Ceili on campus with Athena.
Leaning out is fun!
She wanted nothing to do with mommy and daddy dancing together, but was more okay with us dancing with her. On Monday, I snuck away to Sam and Monica's Parlor Ceili and danced like a maniac. It was awesome, sweaty, joyful, and just what I needed. It felt like home.

Because we are unable to control ourselves, we also went to Disneyland last month. Athena got to meet Mickey Mouse at his house and fell in love with the carousel.

Family at Disneyland
She asked for a hug.
Carousel joy!

I spent two hours with her Saturday morning on the carousel at DCA, getting off, running around to get back in line, then getting on again. Meanwhile, Erik got to go on California Screamin' as much as he wanted. This had the somewhat unexpected effect of teaching her about waiting in line and taking turns. The third morning, we went to Dumbo and she said, "I have to wait my turn." I concurred. Then she said, "I want a purple elephant." And so she got it, after waiting her turn.
First time on Dumbo.

Flying Dumbo
On Saturday, after we left the carousel and she promptly passed out in her stroller. We sent half the group onto Soarin' Over California and retired to the Carthay Circle Lounge for cocktails.
Heck yeah!
Yes, we could wheel the stroller right in. A double pear martini and a Manhattan and one sleeping toddler in a swank bar makes for two very happy parents. Athena also loved playing in ToonTown. I sent Erik and the crew to hit some rides and hung out with her in Goofy's Garden. The first two times she climbed up the boxes, she asked for help. Then she did it again herself. And again. And again. And again. For an hour.

Another unexpectedly fun time is with her in line for the Jungle Cruise. The line moves really fast since each boat holds 30 folks. We put her at the front of the group and let her play, then catch us up, then play, then catch us up. It was 30 minutes of jumping, giggling, running, happy toddler with a ton of bemused looks from those around us, and a lot of "She's so cute!" comments.

Also, we learned that she knows how to say, "Cheese!" when someone is taking a photo of you. Erik caught me reacting to that revelation:
Before she yelled, "Cheese!"

After "Cheese!"
 She had a really nice time all in all. It was a little tough sharing a room with 6 adults and 2 kids, so we won't opt for that again, but we did opt to convert to an annual pass. Also, Athena got red mouse ears with her name embroidered on the back. Wearing that with a red Minnie Mouse dress at Disneyland makes all the other folks around you melt.

Here are a few more Disney moments.

Spinning the marble with Daddy.

Also, our little bug is a brave little trouper. She had a splinter in her finger and we stopped into first aid to get it out. She let me hold her hand while Erik poked and pulled. At one point, she pulled her hand away and Erik said, "Do you need a break?" She said, "Yeah." Then waited less than a minute and gave him her hand back. We were amazed. No screaming. No tears. Just a princess band-aid at the end which she wore very proudly.

Don't get me wrong, she's still a toddler, full of tantrum on occasion. On Saturday at lunch time she ended up up under the table having it out. I waited til she was done and then asked if she wanted any more chicken. I'd walked past another mom standing next to her toddler thrashing on the ground near Grizzly Rapids. I said, "Two?" She said, "Yep." And I said, "Yep, mine did that yesterday." Thing is, you can try to get them to stop, and it really just prolongs the whole drama. If you just wait it out, it last ten minutes and it totally blows over. Just let the storm rage, and before long, she'll figure out it's not getting her anything.

We also started working on potty training. I had the somewhat genius idea that if Clementine and Athena had a weekend of it together, maybe they'd peer-pressure each other. Well that worked! But damn, potty training is a mystery. Athena had all the mechanics, but it wasn't until I showed her that I was "making water" that she ever peed in the potty. That little detail had thoroughly escaped her. After two days, we felt like it was good enough and reliable enough to send her to school. But 3 days of undies at school, and 2 wet/poopy pairs a day, and we backed off a bit. She'd never successfully pooped in the potty. That bit still escaped her. And frankly, it happens infrequently enough that it's hard to train on. It's not like liquids where if I want her to practice more, I just offer her milk. Nope. She's got to figure this one all on her own. I mean, my showing her that part has not necessarily improved success. Instead, she seems to be pooping less often. So, we backed up to pull-ups. She gets them down in time to pee most of the time when she's with us, and about 50% of the time at school where it's awfully distracting. She has now pooped in the potty once and we made an enormous fanfare about that, including TWO Hershey's kisses. Since we knew she liked them, we made that her potty reward, as stickers are often still offensive rather than pleasing. (They're sticky.) Clementine was standardized on M&Ms, so Kisses worked. The pleasure she takes in peeling a Hershey's Kiss is something I hope she retains for many years. It is the most deliberate, intensive work I've ever seen someone do for a bite of chocolate. This whole experience has also solidified the word "chocolate" in her vocabulary. 

Lunch break!

Timer goes off and two girls race to the potties!
Okay, so we've also been watching Cosmos. It's been a joy to watch with Athena. I know she's not getting half of it, but she loves watching it, and if even just a tiny bit is seeping in, I'll call it a win. Last night we were watching it with Christyn and Brian, and they joked, "Lovely to spend time in church with you." It is though, very much like church, where we bask in the wonder and mystery of science, learning about the light spectrum and black holes and tardigrades and evolution and the five great extinctions.
Watching Cosmos
Not all TV is bad.
For Easter, we got some ham, boiled some eggs, and had friends over for brunch. Kev and Rachel snuck into our yard the night before and left a trail of chocolate bunny footprints leading to a basket of goodies for Athena.


Athena was all over it, especially when she realized that the golden foil wrapped bunny was made of chocolate. We had a lovely brunch with egg-spinach-onion-ham scrambles with Irish cheddar and blueberry coffee cake, then headed out to the park where Athena met a little girl named Alia who really wanted to hang out and play. We made "cupcakes" out of sand and had a grand time.


We went to a reading of "William Shakespeare's Star Wars." Want to know how to entertain a bunch of lit geeks and sci-fi geeks? Yeah, that's a good start. Add yummy roast pork and smoked chicken, broccoli salad, and various tarts and pies and cakes and a lot of wine, and a rousingly good evening was had by all. Erik spent the evening as Han Solo to my Princess Leia. I think my favorite bit was the treatment of the added Jabba scene. Just genius.

I also taught two Continuing Studies classes at Stanford on Mastering iOS 7. This was such an unexpected joy. Instead of the usual crowd who turns up for my free presentations, I had a room full of professionals who were willing to pay a hefty fee to be there. They were so engaged and eager, it was utterly revitalizing. Luckily, I get to keep that as a side gig going forward as it takes just one Saturday per quarter. Also, Erik is talking to them about having an evening class on chemistry for non-scientists, mostly revolving around one of our favorite books, "The Disappearing Spoon." Stanford will be with me at least a little bit going forward.

Well, that brings us mostly up to date. As I'm about to lose all of my vacation time and sick leave, I've been thinking about what are the things I never make time for and should. One is a makeover, and it was offered on the Staffers list for free, so I scheduled it for noon last Friday, disappeared for an hour and came back prettier, having purchased a foundation that actually looks right on my skin. Yay!
All dolled up for work and an evening of toddler-wrangling.
Good night y'all.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

25 Months

The monthly post continues! Yeah, no one talks about their kid in months after two years. You say, "She's two." and they all nod with sympathy and comprehension. And whoa Nellie is she two! Her independent streak grew 3 sizes on her birthday and she's had totally 2 year old melt downs about some very little things. Erik put her boot on. She wanted to do it. She bursts into tears, rips it off, and puts in back on. She is struggling to get out of her jacket, so I hold the sleeve and it slides off. She bursts into tears, throws the coat on the ground, and then puts it on and proceeds to take it off again. "I do it!" is her constant refrain. On the plus side, you can totally reason with her and make deals. Today I offered that she could have more milk if she ate some fruit first. One pouch of fruit and she was back to asking for milk. We often get her to do things like get in the car by making promises about where we're going. Very often, things like, "Let's go see Connor." or "We're going to Lorelei's house." mean the difference between a huge battle and an, "Oh okay" as she settles into her car seat.

Also, they posted great pics of her birthday in the Ladybug room at school.

Thumbs up!

So excited!!!

Make a wish!

She transitioned to Dolphin Room at daycare the Monday after her birthday and has been thriving there. There are so many more kids in her class, but they still keep to a 1:8 or 1:9 ratio. 1:12 is mandated by the state at that age, so this is way way under the limits, but I absolutely cannot imagine one adult wrangling 12 two-year-olds. It's a recipe for chaos. So we're happy they're on their own limits and she's loving it. There's a bigger outdoor play space and plenty to climb on. Every day we arrive and Clementine stops whatever she's doing, runs over, and the girls hug each other. I'm so very glad they found each other. It makes every day better. She also loves the garbage truck that pulls up at the park twice a week. Big trucks pull up and all the kids run over and press themselves against the fence to get a good look. Athena exclaims, "Big truck!" whenever we pass one on the road too.

We had an unexpected, but fabulous Super Bowl party. Rachel got sick, so the party had to move and we were good candidates to host. I never pictured myself as a Super Bowl party host, but it worked out great! There was bean dip and hot wings, thus making it official as far as I can tell. We laughed at the good commercials, groaned at the fumbles, and generally had a perfectly lovely time. Athena went down for a nap just as the party started and let me spend the next 3 hours as hostess instead of mommy.

I started a diet in January and I've been hitting the gym most days at work. I'm down about 8 pounds since I started, bringing me just under the mark for "obese" according to the BMI chart. So far, not much difference in how I look, but even making that minor, mostly meaningless milestone sure feels better. My jeans are looser so that's good. I'm taking a mini-break this weekend from the diet while Karen and Rich are visiting, but plan to dive back in next week. Honestly, after 2 months of being good, a little break is a good thing.

But yes, Karen and Rich are here from Massachusetts. Yay! I slept in this morning, lounged, and slowly rose from bed. Once dressed and ready to face the day, I headed down the hall and saw Athena and Karen playing in her room.

Athena pulled out a stuffed toy and said, "It's sticky." meaning it had a tag/sticker on it still. I offered to help and she handed it to me. When I went to remove the tag, she said, "No no, Meme do it." Erik has lost patience with how many times Mommy has to do it, so I texted him almost immediately to tell him it was my turn. Meme rates higher than Mommy this morning.

We headed to the Children's Discovery Museum this morning. I took Athena about a year ago and she was really just a tad two young for it then. Now she had a blast in the water play space and in the under 4's room.
Pouring sand.
My mom came down last weekend and we had a lovely leisurely afternoon while Athena had a very long nap, then went out to Aqui for dinner where Athena tore into Daddy's dinner and ate a whole piece of chicken. Athena is still picky, but when things look like food she wants, she's on it these days. We came home  and showed my mom how different Sesame Street is these days - muuuuch longer segments, very different characters, and Mr. Noodle is just weird. Then we played til far too late. The next day, we went over to Fred and Malaya's house for waffles and fun and came home in time for another big nap. My mom headed home to get ready for the week, but when Athena got up, her first question was, "Where's Grandma?" She's lucky to have four active, loving grandparents in her life, plus two great-grandparents! My grandmother made a box of ginger snaps that she sent down with my mom. I treated myself to a few, but Athena thought they were great. She and Erik polished them off on Friday night.

Mmm... gingersnap.

Thank you Grandma!
Over President's Day weekend, we went to DunDraCon. This year we had adjoining rooms with Wendy and Jeff and hired Sarah to babysit for the games on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the shuffler didn't put Erik and I into a game together, but we both got to play both sessions, which was great. My Sunday game ended before his, meaning I came back to the room and stole away with Athena to the pool. She swam about a hundred laps in their glorious, very heated pool, holding onto a pink pool noodle shared by the other kids in the pool (Thanks Savannah!). DDC is awesome because the San Ramon Marriott is a great hotel with fabulous staff and it's walking distance from Target, Whole Foods, Pasta Pomodoro, Baja Fresh and more, meaning you're never forced to eat overpriced, mediocre hotel food. Instead, the hotel food is reasonably priced ($4 for a tasty breakfast burrito, $2 for a cup of coffee with free refills) and the staff really seem to look forward to the con every year. The local Peet's was offering a D20 if you were wearing your con badge. Roll a 14 or better for a buck off your drink, or a free drink if you roll a 20. Seriously, it makes it all just magical.
Plus, where else will mother/daughter Federation uniforms get such high praise?
We headed to the Schluntz's place for our usual post-con-bacon-fest. It was also wonderful, and I ducked out to get a haircut for an hour and came back to find Athena happily playing with dice while Sean and Erik took Logan through his first game of Settlers of Cataan. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Athena!

Yep, it's true. We made it two whole years!

The phrase of the week is "Oh my goodness!" and "Oh my gosh!" She says both as a general exclamation all the time. It's absurdly adorable. Something falls to the floor? "Oh my goodness!" Something tips over? Oh my goodness!" Wet pants? "Oh my gosh!" Super cute, really.

When I got to daycare today, there was a "Happy Birthday Athena" banner in her classroom. She sat right down with her friends, kissed me goodbye, and dove into her day. I brought cupcakes for everyone, Athena-style: no frosting. Sure, all the other kids will be disappointed, but Athena will love every bite without having to work around the wet or the sticky of frosting.
The cupcake was irresistible the night before.
We're headed to Aqui for dinner with friends after work. This is probably our last low-impact birthday for her, so a reprise of last year's party sounded lovely. Last year this meant her first steps. We'll see if we get anything exciting tonight. She helped me mix up some gingerbread cupcakes for anyone who didn't want Aqui's flourless chocolate cake (Karen! Rachel!). She loves to help cook - counting out ingredients and stirring things. She stands on a chair in the kitchen, it's back turned toward the counter. Life is good.

A quick check in her room this morning put Athena between 33 and 34 inches tall. She's growing like a weed, up four or five inches since 18 months.

She's just started watching a bit of Sesame Street this month. She dearly loves Elmo. On nights where she's running low on steam, we'll sit down for half an episode. Boy has it changed since I was a kid! It's not bad, just so very different. I miss counting to twelve. I miss the Yep Yep aliens. Oh, but one thing has NOT changed: Maria. She's still there, and damn she is looking good for a woman in her 60s! Like WOW! There she is in a square-necked top, and I say, "She's been on this show forever. She's got to be in her 60s." and Erik says, "That doesn't look likely." Sure enough, it's true. Clean living on Sesame Street for the win!

Athena still loves singing songs. There's the Sesame Street alphabet, and Charlie Hope, and lots of good stuff from Pandora's Toddler Radio. She's decided she likes to Move it Move it! One night we were headed to meet up with friends for dinner, so Erik caught this video.

It's been a lovely leisurely month. We spent Christyn's birthday weekend with them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Athena loved the fish and octopus and such, but really loved the jellyfish. The only challenge was that she didn't like being in the dark even if the exhibits were lighted.
Watching fishies with Daddy
We made it out to Friday Night Waltz once this month for Richard's night of Ginger and Fred lessons and movie theme music. It was a blast. We learned a nice foxtrot combination and got to dance to some favorite music with a whole lot of our friends. It was the busiest I'd seen FNW in a while. 
Silly tango is always fun.
I started a diet when I got back to work. It's working... slowly. Three pounds down with three weeks effort. I'm hitting the gym at least 3 days a week, which would be deadly dull, save for the use of an iPad to watch an episode from something I'm years behind on. First up: Warehouse 13, season 4. It's good goofy fun, and lasts 42 minutes long, which makes for a nice stretch on the elliptical. Getting to catch up on tv is an absolutely fabulous incentive for exercise! So, I figure I'll be working on that for the next six months or so. Maybe if I'm very very lucky (and diligent!) I'll get to my goal weight before my 40th birthday. I reckon by then, I'll at least be fitting back into a lot of my favorite clothes, and that seems an awfully worthy goal before that little milestone.

Clementine's family is moving to a nice duplex this weekend, so we took Clem Saturday morning so that they could pack, then dropped both girls off for Parents Night Out at school in the afternoon. Remembering the experience of toddler vs. packing, we were really happy to help. We spent the morning up at the park with a lot of time on the swings, then watching the swim meet for a bit and finally ended up reading a few books at the library before heading home for lunch. Athena's new favorite food is fish sticks, so we made up a batch. Clementine was dubious, but Athena will eat 4-6 at a sitting. 

We had a ladies clothing swap on Sunday and I'm wearing a lovely new-to-me purple dress today that fits perfectly. I took the leftovers to Savers, and then headed inside to use my 20% coupon. I found Athena a perfect purple Columbia jacket. She LOVES it. Her favorite things right now is anything purple. This means keeping track of our purple plate, purple bowl, and purple cup is a critical daily task. Food simply cannot be served on the orange plate! The only thing better than a purple outfit is one with pockets. A pair of pockets on the front of something makes it the best thing ever. 

Last Thursday, Wendy was in town for a business conference. We got to have dinner with her, which was a treat. Unfortunately, it was the third time in the last 2 weeks that Athena has gone all day without a nap. We're so not ready for that! And she really isn't either. She transforms from a happy, gregarious toddler to a super-crankypants. Oy. She did it again on Saturday, so we shuttled her off to PNO early and let Clementine have a nice nap. Then we shuttled Clementine over and went to Susanne's Twelfth Night reading at CKP's house. I drew Sir Toby Belch from the hat and had a lovely time being a drunken fool all night. We picked up Athena at 9, and she was still up. So, predictably, she crashed out hard and slept til 9:30 in the morning. She's taking after my sleep patterns for sure - unable or unwilling to sleep with there's something interesting going on, and sleeping late to make up for it. I can live with that. I know a lot of other parents who really wish that was an option. 

Erik's mom bought plane tickets to come back in a month. Can't wait! Athena loves calling Grandpa and Meme on Skype. She will cheerfully play in front of them for at least a half hour, feeding Meme tea through the screen and offering her food and showing her how well she rides her rocking horse. Hopefully it will be pouring down rain when she arrives so that Athena can show off her ladybug rain coat, boots, and umbrella!