dancerjodi: (Geek)
Brian and I had decided to split the weekend up for BCC this year. He had a weekend pass and went alone on Saturday, and we went as a family on Sunday (Mina is still young enough to be free). We bought our passes but both 'trooped' in an official capacity for the 501st. The SW groups had a trash compactor w/ Dianoga setup and an action figure packaging backdrop for photos. It was nice to see something new, and the crowd seemed excited about it.

It is so much fun to enter this fantasy world for a day and see the creativity that abounds our nerd community. It is amazing to watch Mina growing up in this, and see the wonder in her eyes and also the comfort she has with these characters. She commented about how some people didn't have great quality costumes (!) and that a friend of ours was in a Boba Fett costume, but usually is dressed like Judge Dredd (!).

The crowds were crazy like last year (maybe bigger) but they seemed to have a bigger handle on the lines getting in and around. We did pay for a photo-op with John Barrowman, and though the line and photo went smoothly, the printing of the photos did not. We lucked out getting ours around 5:00 after a 2:00 shoot, but many people left Sunday with no photo. It wasn't the convention's fault, but the company managing that process. It would be nice to see this move somewhere bigger - the Boston Convention Center, maybe?

The next con is Granitecon in NH in mid-September, which we always look forward to. Brian and I plan to do an overnight without Mina pending babysitting for RI Comicon on 11/1.

Preschool

Jul. 18th, 2014 10:58 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Our plan all along was to put Mina into the Playschool that is at her current center (they enroll kids infant through kindergarden). They may not be the "best" and surely aren't exclusive at all, but it has been a good fit for her. They have become an extended family of sorts for us and have been flexible with her/our needs.

She's just been early for a lot of things: walking, talking, complex talking. She moved into the toddler room early and though the Preschool room is on paper intended for age 3, they are starting the process of doing her readiness assessment for the preschool now, with the assumed plan of her starting there in September (she turns 3 in late January). They would go through their assessment, review all of the results with us, we'd go back and forth and if all were in agreement we'd fill out a lot of paperwork and she'd start in that room. The director of the center said that they have concerns about her getting bored with the activities/lack of structure in the toddler room. She appears older than all of the kids in there, both in size and verbal ability. She isn't mature enough to handle the preschool structure now, but they don't want to hold her back.

I was kind of blindsided by all of this when I picked her up this week, but it makes sense. Brian and I don't want to rush these early years (thinking too far ahead), but we also want to be prepared.

He and I both have had experiences in schools where we were ahead of what the other kids were doing, and bored. We don't want her to be in that position. When I was born we lived in Wellesley, and we moved to Waltham over winter break when I was in 3rd grade. They wanted us in Catholic school, but they wouldn't admit us mid-year, so I went to the local public school for a 1/2 year. My math and reading abilities were so advanced, that I would leave my class and have private lessons with the librarian (who was also a special ed teacher I think). I remember feeling singled out and awkward about this, and I was even bullied a bit by a couple of kids for it (the followed me home one day taunting me, drilling me on multiplication tables). When I moved to St. Pat's the next year it wasn't much different. In 4th grade I left the class to have math and english with the 5th graders. In 5th grade they were sick of this 'inconvenience' and had me stay with my own class, re-reading the same general english/reading text that I had already read in Wellesley, in 3rd grade! I finished there and did HS at Waltham Public (where I think I actually did thrive, despite being pushed back a bit for 5 years).

Brian was that smart kid in classes where he was bored in the Everett system. They kind of left him to his own devices, and he did a lot of his own pleasure reading. He wanted to be with his friends rather than 'the nerds', and coasted through the general college level courses in a school that almost lost accreditation while he was there. But I digress.

Who knows what kind of things she'll excel in, and where she'll find challenges. Brian has had a lot of concentration issues to deal with. I'm great at multitasking but have a very hard time with memorization and standardized testing (as a result). Plus, she is her own kid.

Brian texted me that one of Mina's friends in the school is going to be leaving. His parents aren't happy with the quality of education in the Preschool, given 'lack of structure'. We'll miss them! They are neighbors of us and have had philosophical similarities to us. I want to give it a chance, but there is this fear in the back of my head that we may need to find a plan B. I have simiar worries about the local kindergarden. I want to support our local neighborhood public school. On paper it is pretty bad, but on paper there is a lot to contend with given the high % of kids that enter who aren't english speaking. As such, lots of resources have been put into that school. Parents I've talked with have been quite happy with it.

Oh the challenges of being responsible for someone's development! I want her to be happy and interested and learn things along the way. I think that in the end, most kids end up at the same place, just at a different pace. I've done find despite my early issues (as has Brian). Who the hell knows.

Random

Jul. 16th, 2014 10:24 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
We've been battling hand foot and mouth in our house again with Mina (a virus spread easily around young kids, with symptoms of painful mouth sores and body blisters most commonly on hands and feet. Not fun! She was back at school yesterday and is starting to eat more solid foods again, which is a nice perk. It is also an amazing feeling knowing how much just a hug from you can change a kid's world. This is the second time she's had it (once before as a crawling baby). This time was much harder, as she was walking (on foot blisters) and was acutely aware that her mouth hurt and it was hard to eat. Once you have it you are immune, but there are different varieties. It is a character building experience, to be sure.

This humidity is surely oppressive. As much as we can we are doing the local spray park or beach thing. We had a wonderful time at Salem Willows last weekend. I never went there as a kid (we always went up to Hampton Beach), but I can see us spending lots of time as a family.

Con season is ramping up. We are trying to negotiate that schedule around babysitting and also an October wedding. I can't believe we are already planning for the fall.

Our next big trip is planned for next spring (SW Celebration/Disney CA) but we have a long weekend trip in the White Mountains scheduled with my parents (sharing a 2 bedroom cottage) over Labor Day. We had pondered a trip to NYC with Mina to catch the Marvel/Shield exhibit, but the cost and her presumed quick interest in it along with busy fall is pushing me in the 'no' direction.

I haven't taken any dance classes or worked out much at all since the studio has been out. I've enjoyed just going with the flow on my Tuesday and Thursday nights off. I've dabbled with sewing and I've been cleaning up/donating some things hanging around the house. I watched the documentary "The Bus" last night via itunes while cutting out pattern pieces. Great movie! We had a white VW bus when I was young and I loved the thing! A lot of neat perspectives about the vehicle that I wasn't aware of. Though I love city life, there is a teeny piece of me that really admires and is curious about the bohemian life, so I'm fascinated with all things hippie (though I'm really not one at all).

I was invited to dance for a music video for a local rock group! Details are still TBD, but we should have rehearsal Saturday and film Sunday morning. Just crazy. I can share later when I have something worth sharing.

I think more and more about my car and its high mileage and feel less and less confident about it. I'm due to bring it back in for a tuneup and tie rod ends (I did brakes, some other dead part I'm forgetting and an oil change in early June). It has almost 120k miles on it, and is a 2008 Impala. I own it outright and the body is in great shape. It got a rebuilt transmission put in soon after Mina was born. It would be nice to keep it going for a while, but the frugal nature in me battles the mom who doesn't want to get stuck on the side of the road with her kid. I'm pondering moving the next time to some kind of AWD/Hatch vehicle which would be a HUGE change for me. The impalas are just not as safe or efficient as some other things out there. We shall see. In the meantime, once I get a break from paying for repairs (which have pretty much cost what a car payment would each month) we'll put about $400 extra into Brian's truck payment each month, so that our budget is used to the potential of another car payment.

Random

Jul. 2nd, 2014 02:16 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Pride was fun. Mina actually slept through some of it in the stroller, walking down the street with hoards of fabulous people cheering at us and booming music from behind us. Go figure!

We've been to Hampton Beach twice this season so far, and Mina is loving it. Including on my birthday. We had a nice dinner that night at Legal Seafood (Lobster). Next year I'll be 40, and I'm considering staying up at the beach for a long weekend or something to celebrate. We shall see.

It's been fun going to friend's cookouts and being out later at night (concernts on the common started last night). The slower summer pace is a good one right now. Work has just been crazy. I'm dreaming of our vacation in August in the White Mountains (3 days/4 nights) with my parents. We may go to NYC in the fall. And then next April is SW Celebration in CA (with Mina this time).

I haven't managed to do much exercise since dance has been out, but the break is OK by me with this heat and humidity. Brian got a fitbit and I'm on the fence in getting one to join him in the peer pressure.
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Here's some photos of our planted stuff:
Dogwood tree https://www.flickr.com/photos/tk7602/14012966029/
The new bed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tk7602/14012978678/
The old bed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tk7602/14176499136/

We bought our Dogwood Tree from Weston Nurseries out in Hopkington, due to having a $25 credit there for joining MA Horticultural Society last year. The drive out and trying to balance a tired/hot/hungry kid made it perhaps not so worth the cost. Live and learn. It was a great place, but since Hopkington or Chelmsford aren't super convenient to us, I'm not sure how often (or if ever) we would go. Still, nice place and good advice and a cute tree.

The veggie and herb plants came from the Waltham Community Farm plant sale. Brian snapped this picture of Mina while I was shopping for plants https://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/14199666474/. It is just gorgeous, and is my current favorite of her.

There are some plants I received for Mother's Day that are going into our front yard. I'm still trying to fill that space in, gradually. I want to get some kind of bunny figures to put around our dogwood as a memorial for Batty and Praline (they are buried under there now, their ashes mixed in with our soil and compost). I want to plant some sunflowers somewhere in memory of gram. I have a couple of azalea bushes to plant in her memory too (bought online from White Flower Farm to use the $25 credit I had to there via MA Horticultural). The bed of wildflowers I planted aren't doing anything. The seeds were old and I was iffy about our success there. I want to get some more seeds to throw down and see what happens.

I'd also like to get a zen temple statue (we have a Buddha and rock stack). Maybe some of those glass garden balls. Some solar glow lights. I am having a blast making this yard our own finally, and playing with Mina in it. This weekend we replace some broken/old fencing. We were going to have our old stump ground out, but there is one chunk of it positioned perfectly to be a little seat. We may end up keeping it and turning it into a fairy garden for Mina. Fun fun!

I bought this book for her at Dancer's Image Newton recently and she is loving it, quoting it https://www.flickr.com/photos/tk7602/14013006060/. Hearing a 2 year old say "Bojangles, Bojangles" or "Rap a tap tap, think of that" is adorable.

Free Comic Book Day pictures:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/14013163327/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/14013089959/

I hate to say that it took me almost 39 years to get myself to the Kennedy Library, even though I spent 3 years in Grad School at Umass Boston and could have gone for free. I took our recent houseguests from CA. Here are the pics that I took there https://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/sets/72157644288095238/. I had no clue about the JFK/Superman comic, or that there was a piece of the Berlin Wall there (there is another in Boston outdoors somewhere near the Museum of Science that you can see if you do a Duck Tour). I also love his direct nature in the space race memo.

Car

May. 15th, 2014 09:55 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
My car is at around 115k miles. I replaced the transmission at around 97k miles (thankfully under warranty). The transmission is starting to act odd again like it did before (it did it for a while before it totally crapped out). The alignment is constantly off despite best efforts to realign/balance. It isn't the most efficient or safest thing out there. But I own it.

I don't want to be put in a "oh crap I need a new car" position. I'm trying to do some research and make a plan for the next thing.

I like the size/feel/trunk of my car. I'm a 70s hot rod girl at heart, and the impala is the best modern option to get near that. But it isn't efficient. I love the huge trunk, but Brian has a truck, so do I really need that much space?

I've debating the hybrid options but the cars that are big don't have that much more efficiency. I'm kind of curious about the Prius V, but there is the cost of that, the drastic change of moving from a kind of slick/cool car to a WAGON. And then adjusting to a car payment.

Maybe I should just start saving more to purchase something, should the time come and let it go. Hrm. Thoughts?
dancerjodi: (Geek)
I went to the Boston Flower Show today with Tember. Getting there at 10 when they opened was a very smart idea. Crowds! Did some Mother's Day shopping and got some inspiration for my own yard.

Things I'd like to remember:

As a member of http://www.masshort.org I got a free pass. And a sticker to wear around. And a pin. And a free, very pretty floral calendar. Join them!

Gorgeous seed packets with artistic packaging http://www.seedlibrary.org

Amazing olives, olive oil http://www.lakoniagreekproducts.com

Places I want to go/join:
http://heritagemuseumsandgardens.org
http://www.towerhillbg.org
Lots of fun stuff in this map http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/agritourism_farms.htm

Plant something in MA on 5/15 http://www.plantsomethingma.org was giving away little cups with soil and a seed. We'll see if we can grow in the kitchen window without the cats eating it. Sugar Snap Pea!

Potential cool stuff for our home:
http://www.artisaniron.com
Need to do more research on http://creativestonesystems.com and it's environmental impact/durability, but it may be a lower/cost and faster way to fix up our front stairs (assuming we wouldn't get ice damage down the line) and our back patio area.

Tazo tea was giving out samples and $1 off a box of tea coupons.

I'm not in the market for any different beauty products, but this https://us.nyrorganic.com/shop/corp/ was a nice sounding company/line. It is a UK company, but sold by consultants ala Avon. The woman at the table was very nice and not sleazy slimy sales at all. If I passed a https://www.nealsyardremedies.com store while in the UK I would probably go in and possibly buy something there.

Fluid

Mar. 4th, 2014 01:36 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Yes, I am officially done with the winter. I don't want to look at snow and ice anymore. I'm starting to think of what we'll do with our freshly-cleared yard this year, and am excited to share it with Mina.

An old steam radiator in one of our bedrooms (Brian's collectables room) has been leaking for a while, but lately the leaks have gotten quite bad. We went out on Saturday morning for plumbing supplies at Home Depot and the plan was to try and get it fixed, and to cut out the section of damaged wood floor around it. There was so much water damage and mold under the floor, that 3/4 of the flooring had to be removed, so at that rate, it all went out. Thankfully our junk guy was free to come pick it all up from the curb that day, as the city wouldn't take it. Under the cheap Ikea "wood" were 3 layers of vinyl, over presumably the original hardwood. Why oh why did some former owner start covering the hardwood?! Given how messy that tile is and how not-level the floor is, the easiest/cleanest way to make it nice again is wall to wall. It is getting installed on Thursday, and in the meantime most of Brian's collectibles are in our bedroom, which is not fun.

Brian noticed last weekend that our dishwasher was leaking. I'm hoping we can find a DIY solution to get it to stop with the water. He and I need to talk about the floor. It is also Ikea wood (why oh why would you do this in a kitchen former homeowners?!). It may be time to finally tile, the prospect of which is challenging with a 2 year old. My dad came out and tiled a tiny bit of the kitchen a while ago, in our back hallway. The litterbox lives there, and the cats were peeing (by accident) out of the box and it was soaking into the floor underneath. Dad cut out the smell/rot and put some cheap but nice looking 1' ceramic tiles down with a threshold to divide it from the kitchen. I think it may be time to extend the work, but it was not something we were planning on doing.

Thankfully, our tax refund was nice and has arrived. We're using it to pay for our NYC trip, and some should pay for these repairs.

I'm wondering if I want to try and drag my butt to the gym at work on off-dance class days (Wed and Fri) or if I'd be better off getting up earlier and working out at home. I have an hour for lunch and the walk to and from the gym next-door, plus shower time only allows a 1/2 hour workout. The setting there isn't too inspiring. I'm excited about clear sidewalks coming so that we can spend more time walking around our hood again.

Mina has been lots of fun and lots of challenge lately. She's doing what she should be at this age, pushing boundaries and figuring out how things in her life work. I'm just amazed each day at her language and her retention, and her logic. I'm gushy over how much of a snuggle bug she is. I'm proud of how much she loves to create art and "read" books, and sing and dance. So hard, but so much fun.

We went to the New England Aquarium on Sunday, all excited to share the touch tank and the penguins and sea lions and just wonder of it all with her. It was a learning experience for Brian and I, to be sure. We were kind of snapping at each other in trying to get together and get out of the house. I didn't think we were "fighting" so clearly, but Mina told us to kiss each other (and make up) while we were driving into the city. We told her we loved each other and loved her and that we were OK, and just let the conversation go. We did have fun at the aquarium, but the $ (2 adult tickets and painful parking - but we didn't want to allow for the time that taking the T would mean) was an ouch. Mina liked the touch tank, and kept playing with a lever on one of those penny squish machines. She didn't care too much about the central tank at all. She was amused by the penguins for about 5 seconds. She liked being face to face (on the other side of glass) with a sea lion, though Brian and I felt like kind of bad parents, because the reason the sea lion was just sitting there was because he (or she) was going to town, humping a pillow thing. Mostly though, Mina just wanted to run around the museum, and have us chase her. I tell you, chasing a fast 2 year old in a place with a huge central obstacle and tons of people (roadblocks) was tough, even with 2 of us. We didn't have this issue at the Boston Children's Museum. The Acton Discovery Museum is much smaller/interactive and you're kind of on top of the kid in each room. This was scary though. I don't think we'll be returning until she's old enough that she's not running away from us like that (also, she'll have more patience for the T).

Live and learn. I feel like we have our stuff together for the most part, as well as can be expected. You have good days and bad days. But by the end of Sunday, I felt like the worst parent and worst wife ever, and just wanted to crawl into bed and cry. I was able to pull it together and get through the bedtime routine with her, and just try and enjoy the time. It did take me longer to get her to bed than we aim for (out of her room by 8), but I was feeling better by that point. It was a perfect example of why having Mondays off right now is so perfect for us. Who cares if the regular nighttime cleanup/packing/planning routine doesn't get done, because I'm home on Monday to try and catch up. Which I did.

Blah blah. This post is a lot of boring, mundane stuff, but that's the majority of life, right? Through it we had lots of hugs and kisses and laughs, which is the best I could say about a weekend.

Schtuff

Feb. 28th, 2014 02:39 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
It has been a nutso week at work. Lots of things to do. An early-morning meeting each day. Busy is good though. I read some article in the Children's Hospital Blog by an MD about how her messy house was a sign of her rich life. I'm trying to focus on doing more of the important and fun stuff and less of the anal retentive productive stuff, particularly this week.

We managed to have 2 dance classes this week, with no snow cancellations! I'm excited to start learning our next Ballet routine to The Stranger (Billy Joel, but this version is from the Movin' Out Broadway Cast Soundtrack). It will be a fun one with a lot of jazz mixed in with the ballet. The classroom was cold and we were all tight/creaky through a lot of the lesson, despite our regular warmups. I'm looking forward to warmer days and walking outside again.

Mina has been waking up around 5:00 AM. She did this in the fall and did this last spring too. She self-regulates so that when it comes time for daylight savings, she's already adjusted to the new normal. 5:00 AM is really early for her, but when we spring ahead she'll be waking at 6 again. We were so excited last fall for her to be sleeping in until 7, but then we fell back and she was sleeping at 6 again. It just fascinates me. We do have 'light block' curtains in her room with other curtains over them, but still the room isn't totally dark, thus impacting all of this.

I have a pattern and some muslin for the next costume. I managed to cut out the paper pieces from the pattern sheets last Friday. Brian and I had the day off while Mina was at daycare to see The Lego Movie (what fun), we sold off our baby carrier to the Belmont Kid's resale place, and had some time to work on costume stuff at home before picking up Mina. I think Free Comic Book Day is our goal for the Dredd stuff.

Taxes were filed and our refund has come through. It will pay for our anniversary trip to NYC. Babysitting with Auntie is confirmed, train tix are purchased, hotel is reserved and we have our tickets to see Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and The Angry Inch on Broadway. Oh my goodness, I can't wait! I miss NYC. We haven't been since Maker Faire in the fall of 2012, when I was pregnant with Mina. We will arrive late on Friday night and have all of Saturday to do whatever, with our show being at 10 on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we hop a train back to MA. I cannot believe we've been married for 15 years now (together for 19 years). It is just nuts. On the one hand I feel like it was yesterday and on the other, it was a billion years ago. I'd like to plan some kind of family trips for us over the summer and in the fall, all things we could drive to. Maybe we'll actually tackle car camping with Mina this year?

But taxes reminds me of finances. Our spending in the fall/December was a bit crazy with the holidays and just pure laziness. I took a critical look at January and was horrified. We made some efforts to reign things in this month and though we spent more in some areas (our electrical bill was high due to heating our den, and we spent more than we should on food) we did a lot better. March is another month! The challenge is trying to balance the busy life of 2 parents working full-time with the desire to have fresh/good/local/organic/whatever food. We need to work out the right balance for us. It is an ongoing issue. In the back of my head I know I want to work out some kind of saving plan to eventually replace my car. My plan is to keep driving it, because it is paid for, but you never know when a deal-breaking repair will be required. It's at around 110k miles and already has a replacement transmission (which thankfully went when it was still on warranty, though that is no longer the case). I think about what kind of vehicle I'd want to buy, when the time comes. I still miss my 79' Monte Carlo.

I've been having fun finding new music on the Emerson radio station lately. I'm really craving a live show but nothing has come up that's fit in the schedule and seemed worth staying up so late (see former comment about 5 AM wakeup times and a crazy work schedule). Least of all, we'll be out the night before the Southie St. Pat's parade for the annual gathering of the nerds at Flat Top Johnny's. Neither of us are doing the parade this year. We're just done with supporting that organization and its anti-gay stance.

Have a great weekend peeps! Other than dinner with a friend tomorrow and our CSA pickup on Sunday, we have a nice open schedule. Just awesome!

Spring?

Feb. 19th, 2014 09:21 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
We indeed had last night's tap class moved, at least until tonight. Aside from the fact that the studio owner does not like driving in the snow, there just isn't anywhere to park (relying on municipal lots) with there is a lot of snow around or the city is digging out after a snow emergency (and apartment-dweller folks with on street parking need to move to said municipal lots). Brian and I 'traded' our nights with Mina, and I put her to bed so that he could do some building/geeking. I'll have tap tonight, and ballet tomorrow, and then will put her to bed on Friday.

Thankfully the planets are aligned and the two of us will both have Friday off from work while Mina is at daycare. Those days are so nice and long and heavenly. Usually we drop her at school, go out for breakfast somewhere, and then catch a movie. We tend to get some practical stuff done, and some personal stuff that's just easier without worrying about a 2 year old. Maybe I'll get some sewing done on the Chief Judge costume!

I'd like to get more skilled at pattern alterations, but that's only going to happen with experience. I have such a hard time settling into sewing without a huge chunk of uninterrupted time. I can pick up a book or knitting or whatever and do a little here and there, but with sewing, I just need to get myself out of that mindset. Or I'm going to continue to not do a lot of it.

My boss is on vacation this week, so it is a nice chill, productive, clean-up kind of time here. I really do love how motivated she is as the new person to set up a good system for things and get long-standing issues taken care of. It is inspiring and intimidating at the same time, which is probably the best kind of job one could have!

Random practical kid stuff: We've decided that we are going to sell our baby/toddler carrier and our schmancy stroller (Bugaboo Bee) to the local resale shop in Belmont, come the nicer weather. We have another rugged umbrella stroller that we can use, and it is rare that Mina is content to actually sit in a stroller nowadays. She is big enough (both height and weight) that she can only be carried on my back (Brian just won't use the carrier any more) and she is too weasely to want to do that. If she is tired she'll fall asleep in it, but she's too tall to comfortably sleep that way without flopping all over the place. We still do have a Kelty hiking pack for her, that she fits in and is way more supportive (albeit it is a bit more bulky for us to carry around, but it does double as a seat). All of this stuff is just further evidence of her not being a baby anymore, and being a kid. It is bittersweet. I loved being a babywearer, and I'm sad that this period is over. She likes us to carry/hold her in front now, but just with arms. I've pondered getting a less structured-type carrier, but I think that's only me wanting to make her a baby again. So strange. I love talking with her and playing with her and seeing her grow. I love snuggling with her in her twin-sized bed, but then I remember when she was teeny tiny and could curl up against my chest and nurse in my bed. Such a wild trip.

Most of all, I'm just sick of this snow and excited about sharing the spring and all of the nice weather that it brings with her. Maybe that is why strollers and carriers are on my mind!

Random

Feb. 18th, 2014 10:32 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
We had a nice, long, chill weekend. It was fun to spend a lot of time together, the three of us.

Carlos joined us for dinner and hanging out one night. Mina decided she wanted to climb into the kitchen cabinet that we store our tupperware in, and in she went with some toy superheroes and a flashlight, where she proceeded to talk to us for 2 or so minutes. Her language and memory just astounds me! It surely makes helping her out with her toddler frustrations a bit easier when she is able to express what's going on in her head. Most of the time. She did have a freakout last night because the cup of water we had near her bed was gross. She kept saying "I want my water" "No, I don't want my water", until Brian brought up a new fresh/clean cup of it that she sucked down. Doh! We can't all be perfect.

We were able to get out for a date afternoon and saw Robocop. I liked it much better than the original, actually, having more of an emotional element in it (that question of what makes the man a man). Mina had a blast playing with Katie and Aislynn and we were home to get her to bed. Love the bed-time snuggles.

Brian has been working with a bunch of friends on a huge group Judge Dredd movie project (the most recent movie versions). He and I were talking about how I could join in the fun, since he's making Mina a kid-version of a judge costume. She'll be a helmet-less Judge Anderson, of course. :) Brian mentioned the Chief Judge character and her costume from the movie was very stylish. So I'll be working on that. I got a pattern and some muslin to try and work out the jacket, and I'll use purchased leggings, some of my own black boots, and Brian is going to make the little greeblie/medal things for the jacket. Nevermind that the actress was a black woman with short/buzzed hair! It is a neat look.
http://www.propstore.com/product/dredd/chief-judge-rakie-ayola-complete-costume-badges-053/

I think I'm finally on the other side of this cold/sinus infection thing. Yesterday was the first day in a couple of weeks that I didn't need to take a painkiller for the head-pounding.

Snow again today! Our ballet class last week was cancelled, so time will tell if I have tap tonight.

Random

Feb. 14th, 2014 01:12 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
On Tuesday I went to see my PCP and got drugs for a sinus infection. I have sinus/allergy issues often, but rarely this kind of infection. I'm still in pain and relying on ibuprophen, despite starting antibiotics on Tuesday. I'm also taking Sudafed (the real behind the counter stuff) and using my neti. I would like to feel normal again.

Brian's birthday was Tuesday, but we celebrated over dinner on Monday with my parents. Mina and I gave him a couple of books: one on being a Batman fan that he'd had on his Amazon list and one on building robots with your kid. I got him an Avenger's Valentine's day card and some schmancy chocolate with ginger at Whole Foods for today. We don't tend to do much on Valentine's Day, but I like some kind of small, meaningful token.

On Sunday we have a friend sitting for us in the afternoon so that he can see the Robocop remake for his bday. We haven't been out for a date since we saw The Hobbit in mid-December. We have a night next month that my sister will watch her so that we can hang with friends before the St. Patty's parade. We are hoping to coordinate with her for a weekend in April to go away for our 15th wedding anniversary to NYC. 15 years! Just nuts.

I'm sick of my health or snow interrupting my dance classes. I want to get back into the swing of things. It was a lot of fun seeing Dance Theater at Waltham High last Friday. It was surely inspiring to get moving again.

Work is busy. The new bosslady is good at getting things done, which is good for keeping us all motivated in helping her get things done.

I'm just exhausted, probably a combination of this sinus infection plus busy workdays plus depressing weather plus 5 AM kid wake-ups.

Random

Feb. 4th, 2014 02:04 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
We've been fighting some kind of cold or something since last Friday. I finally made it out today to work, not having a temp. I hope we are on the other side of it now.

Work stuff is good! Our new bosslady is keeping us moving and trying to get things done or cleaned up. She has put some more structure into what we are doing which is a kick in the butt I know at least I know I could have used.

Dance is dancey. We have finished our first ballet routine (to Train's 'Calling on Angels'). We need to find some kind of low-cost option for a costume that would work for adults of various sizes. I've found shirts with wing-like sleeves on various websites that are pretty reasonably priced, but they tend to run small. I've found neat things on bellydance sites (choli tops with big flowy sleeves) that are $50. We're stuck with something in the $20ish dollar range. There is always the DIY option too. Any costume or dance folks have any ideas? We need something we could wear with dance pants and a top; just something to give us some wings and some bling (that will work for a ballet/lyrical/jazz type dance). Our next routine will be to Billy Joel's 'Stranger'. It is one that was done at our studio years ago, but I didn't actually do that one (I danced to 'She's Got a Way' in that show), so it will be new to me. It was a fun routine. Our show will be the first weekend of June on a Friday (rehearsal the Thursday before). There isn't any predictability to our performance schedule since our venue has been moving around a bit. It looks like for now, we are going to try and stay at the Emerson Umbrella.

I cannot believe it is February! Brian's birthday is next week, so we'll have a sitter that Saturday to go out to celebrate (he wants to see RoboCop).

We haven't trooped an event with the 501st/Rebel Legion in quite a while. There just hasn't been anything we've been interested in doing. I miss it, but don't want to troop unless it is something I'm really excited about. I'm sad that Boston Comicon is no longer in April (now in August in its new venue). There is a big chunk of no-con time for us in the area. Templecon is next weekend, but there won't be an official 501/RL presence there. I think it is just cost-prohibitive for us to go as patrons. Plus, Brian will be geeking with friends all day Sunday, and there are probably lots of other fun ways to spend family time together on the one day we'll have together over the weekend.
dancerjodi: (Geek)
"Farming is a challenging business – but what isn’t today?? We ALL have good days and bad, stresses and triumphs; changes and challenges. However, several recent conversations with other livestock farmers in our area leave us concerned for the future of livestock farming in the northeast. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s many thousands of small and medium sized dairy farms were purchased and developed, still others simply sold the cattle and made hay or ran heavy equipment or chopped timber and sold firewood to make a living. It seemed as if corporate Ag, home of the super dairy, was going to be the future. These are the farms with a 1500 to 10,000 cows in three or four HUGE barns where the cattle move from feeding to milk parlor to rest in eight hour chunks of time so that they are actually milked three times a day; not twice. They produce tens of thousands of gallons of milk each day and the marginal cost in miniscule – especially compared to the single farmer who can milk 75 to 100 cows per day.

The resurgence of the local food movement seemingly reversed the downward trajectory of farming and the existence of small farms in New England. Many people began to really develop an understanding of how food is grown; the connection to farms and farmers became important as did supporting local food systems. In early 2000’s the CSA became a popular model allowing farmers and consumers to by-pass the big corporations and all the associated poor animal care, high marketing costs and ridiculous requirements. However, those of us immersed in farming often fail to see the challenges of perpetuating our lifestyle in today’s economic, legal and political climate.

Two years the Zimmermans went out of business. One day they closed shop and a few months later they held an auction. They were livestock truckers based in Leyden, MA who served all of New England for over 40 years. The business was founded by the father and carried on by two sons; they had three pot-belly trucks (large tractor trailers for moving a large number of animals) and a slew of smaller trailers. Increasing operating costs, insurance costs (significantly!) ever-expanding regulations, and decreasing revenue ultimately forced a painful decision. However, they were part of the fabric that wove small and medium farmers together all over both MA and all of New England. Animals and farm news traveled together on the Zimmermans trucks and they often knew generations of the same farm family for years. This kind of connection is NOT found on Facebook; it is born over a cup of coffee next to the kitchen woodstove after unloading a group of new cattle or a slew of swine. The loss of the Zimmermans was far more than simply having to find a new way to move animals or the purchase of a new livestock trailer – it was the connection of farmers to one another in ways that are NOT based in technology but rather in the conversations that sometimes spanned decades.

During January, there was a conclave of farmers in the local farm store one day. All of us are on the north side of middle age and all were lamenting winter and its effects on our livestock (but not of course ourselves!). We were comparing and contrasting the challenges secure in the knowledge that we understood three am flashlights, heating pads that are warm on one side and frozen on the other as we try desperately to save a lamb or kid or piglet that was born on the wrong side of the day in the wrong month –and always between midnight and five am.

A local goat farmer, who at 62 milks 226 goats by himself every day, noted that people are always asking why he doesn’t get some help. Simultaneously, we all hooted and laughed at the concept!! Help – in JANUARY! Who besides us (probably all certifiably insane) would voluntarily shovel poop, clean milk equipment in the 10 below weather and move animals?? A (cow) dairy farmer noted that his barn cats have more skill in the milk parlor than anyone who has tried to help him. Another man noted that he can sometimes get his son and his son’s friends to help cut and stack hay – but then they just want to go play video games. Still another farmer noted that he tried to hire a neighbor to burn brush, but that even offering $10 and hour to stand at the fire pit was too much work for the neighbor. The collective opinion of this conversation that there is a single person under the age of 45 who is raising livestock in our area and no one going into the business. According to the USDA Statistics – the local farm store conversation was correct: In 1945 the average age of a farmer was 39; in 1974 it was 45 By 2012 the average farmer is 57 years old.

Joel Salatin wrote a great article for Acres Magazine this month about the challenges of farm apprentices. Essentially he said it is not about anything other than trying to support the future of farming – apprentices offer little, cost a lot and have few skill sets for the first month or two. By the third month (of a five to six month commitment) the farmer should be breaking even (at a pay of $100 per week)- however, there is nothing to be gained, but a hope that the farmer is supporting others going into the business. He correctly noted there is a serious commitment in having apprentices on the farm and too many famers expect to have help moving forward, when a goal needs to be NOT to move backward too much each day. He said to expect to have EVERY aspect of your life questioned including how you vote, discipline your children and where and why you go to church. From a farming perspective, the article was spot-on; but from a sustainability perspective, it is very concerning.

The barriers to entry for livestock farming are significant (and that does not seem like a strong enough word). The cost of land, infrastructure, livestock and equipment is high. The knowledge base required to raise multiple species is extensive and the simple physical work hours are long – no nights or weekends off –animals need to be fed and watered seven days a week; 365 days a year. As we reflect this winter over our collective farm and business plan, Rich and I were struck by the conversation and are starting to think about long term sustainability in our planning. In January I “celebrated” my two year cancer-versary (I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in January of 2012- but feel great and am medically stable) and Rich has increasing pain in his hips from years of building, climbing and lifting. We are simply a part of an industry sustainability challenge.

We don’t have any epiphany or great solutions. Our children have all been raised on the farm but at this point none seem poised to step in and take over. Over the years, Rich and I have watched many people become interested in (and even passionate about) local foods, local farms and sustainable food systems. The vast majority have worked for a year or two at a vegetable farm and then moved into supporting roles, often in an office or at least clean environment. The daily, dirty, physical labor – the work that seems so foreign to so many – remains shockingly unappealing.

As your farm and farmers, we just want to put this out there – we know that you are not at the local farm feed store, but as supporters of local farming, it is a critical conversation – and one that transcends industries. Small software companies actually often strive to be bought by larger companies; small accounting firms, law firms and other professional services are often purchased by larger companies – farming is no different. How can we support and maintain small family farms??"

Iron

Jan. 30th, 2014 01:16 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
On Monday I took Mina to her 2 year Pediatric appointment. She is big both height and weight-wise, but she is following along her percentile happily (she's actually dropped weight, proportionally). She's talking like crazy, very expressive, and we've gotten a hold for the most part on her sensitive skin issues. Colds/infections are less frequent.

She did have bloodwork, and it turns out she is slightly anemic! I'm right on the cusp: never diagnosed with it, but am always right there. So it doesn't surprise me. We could surely get more greens in our life. We do eat a good deal of good-quality (CSA) grass-fed beef, but that is a teeny portion of our diet. And the girl loves her dairy. Too much of that can contribute to anemia.

The Pedi suggested we give her 1/2 of a Flinstones Complete with Iron each day. Looking at the ingrediants, oh boy the crap that is in there! Not to mention sugar.

A coworker suggested checking out Whole Foods, and they do have some dye/crap free alternatives, but none with enough iron. 1/2 a Flinstones has 9mg of iron. The basic natural kid's vitamin with any iron has either 2 or 5.5 mgs. They did point out an iron-supplement, capsules with liquid in them, safe for kids. They are 20 mg, so we'd need to break open and take out around half of the liquid for her. Too much iron in a young kid can be very dangerous.

In an ideal world our diet would make up for all of this, but despite best efforts, we fall short.

I'm going to poke online a bit for another alternative. Any tips? A coworker did mention that perhaps the crap in the Flinstones would be a better alternative to anemia, and that we all took them as kids.

Have any of you parents dealt with this? Thanks in advance!

Related, her bloodwork for lead came back <3 this year, well under accepted limits. It was <1 last year, but now that she's into more stuff, it makes sense that it would be elevated.

Now the act of holding her so that they could actually take that blood: not fun at all. They went for a vein, and I had to hold her while she screamed and watched them take quite a bit of it. Thankfully, we aren't due back for a routine appointment now, for another year! Just crazy.

Green

Jan. 24th, 2014 08:36 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Over the years I've tried to take steps to be more 'green', less wasteful, more conscious of chemicals and how I consume things. Having a kid and being responsible for all of the 'stuff' she is exposed to makes it yet more important.

I struggle with the cost, convenience and 'green' issues related to things related to Mina. For the most part we gave her organic baby food, and the cleaner of those options. If you actually read the ingredients on the Gerber organics, you'll see a lot of crap in it that isn't food (or added sugar). This came at great expense, but we had the luxury of doing it. We made our own sometimes (as much as cooking and mashing a potato is making your own). But we are both working, and have things to do. There is the formula of time/money/talent to consider.

Convenience and cost really are the big factors. The $10 cotton PJs at Old Navy that come in lots of cute styles and fit her perfectly are such a sticking point. Fit her well. Soft/good for her skin. Cheap. Easily accessible. But Old Navy = Gap companies = questionable labor practices. I can't bring myself to spend $30 on organic PJs online, that take a while to arrive at our front steps, that may or may not fit her, and if they do, she'll only wear for a short time. On one level I'm OK with this - you make an educated decision and do what works for you. But Old Navy! We have tried to find good-quality stuff in hand me downs from friends or at thrift stores, and have succeeded for the most part with the exception of the PJs. That counts for something, right?

I've had similar struggles with her bed. I'd like her to have the schmancy, 'green' mattress like Brian and I do. But she is a kid, that is going to do lots of gross things to that mattress reliably for years. There are covers and all, but really? We ended up getting one cheap at a local shop that sells a good traditional product. We'll splurge on the natural latex when she's older. Convenience, cost, practicality. It is a mattress on the floor, and we've been playing around with options for a simple frame. Low to the ground, something we can put a rail on. There is the convenient/cheap/easy route (Ikea) which is quite disposeable and made with questionable materials. The next level is more work/time (Craigslist). A local wood furniture store has a simple wood-platform style one which isn't crazy costly, so we may go with that. Her mattress is sliding all over on the floor so she ends up between the bed and the wall OR rolls out and across the floor.

We are learning that parenting is all about the balance. Sometimes having some kind of fruit is more important than having local/organic/fresh fruit. Sometimes, you gotta buy the processed pears in water in a plastic-sealed cup so that you have something in the morning when life has dictated that you can't get to the grocery store for something perishable. Sometimes you just gotta order a pizza.

We all experienced this kind of stuff and 'we all came out fine'. Only time will tell what health/societal impacts have come from our quick/easy/instant lifestyles. Folks didn't know 50 years ago what cigarettes would do to them. I wonder, what did I do to my kid now that will be something seen as just terrible years from now? I think the most important thing I've gained as a parent in myself, is the ability to just chill a bit and let those kinds of thoughts go, just to get through the day sometimes. There is always an argument on one side or the other. You could make yourself crazy trying to be "perfect".

Anyway, this rambling brought to you by a cold, quiet Friday morning at work. Have a wonderful weekend, peeps.

Two!

Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:40 pm
dancerjodi: (Geek)
Mina is now officially two! Her actual birthday was on Friday, and I was actually off of work to have an allergy test (I'm allergic to a particular mold and to grass, so I was told not to have any live plants in my house, including Xmas wreaths or trees) so I was home early to pick her up from daycare. We met Brian at the house and went out for dinner at On the Border Burlington. She likes that kind of food and the sounds/sights there would appeal to her social nature. After dinner we went to the Barnes and Noble down the street to get our free cupcake (I was e-mailed a coupon for her birthday since we're in their kid's club). Who knew that the big kid's area upstairs near the toys had some cushy chairs, a lego table and a train table? She had a blast running around, picking things up and putting them down, and playing with other kids around the tables.

We actually had her party for family and close friends at our house on Sunday. It was a smaller scale than last year (less extended family) but still crazy. There were 10 kids and 1 active teenager, running around the house. Most kids and some adults dressed up (Superhero theme!) and Brian suited up in his Dr. Doom costume for a brief villian appearance. The superkids prevailed, of course! I think we had a nice balance of fun/creative 'stuff' (decorations, favors, foods) that were all very much pro-Mina without being crazy, over the top or stress-inducing (or pinterest worthy). We bought cupcakes at BJs this year rather than ordering frouffy bakery ones, and we made a simple trifle with store-bought stuff (lady fingers, fruit, cool whip) that went over very well. We made lots of use of empty cardboard boxes and superhero duct tape (I can't even remember where we found that tape, but we put it to good use). I made felt capes for the kids (no sew) and the goodie bags were all from post Back to School Target Sale stuff, all things that Mina would love (paper, crayons, stickers, tattoos and a lollipop). Photos are here http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/sets/72157640034473406/with/12085915943/

We had weeded out a lot of old toys that she didn't care much for anymore in prep for Xmas and Birthday gifts, and it was fun to see her excited about the new stuff, and fun to find a place for things. I think this is a magical time where she's actively interested/engaged in toys and games, but not yet old enough to ask for them specifically. She may ask if we are out at a store for something while it is in front of her, but we are able to easily distract her and she moves on and doesn't remember it later. It is so fun to see her developing her own interests and seeing her interact with folks on her own. She really is a kid and less a baby. It is just wild!

We continue to go back and forth on the sleeping situation. The twin mattress is awesome, since we can fit on it with her. The lack of a frame, not so much. The mattress moves and her toys (and her) fall into the crack along the wall. I did buy a body pillow to put on the wall side of the mattress, and that is working to prevent this (also: super cushy/comfy!). Now our problem is that she falls out the other side, albeit only a short distance and onto a cushy rug, onto the floor. It does wake her up sometimes though. We are probably going to suck it up and get a low platform-style Ikea bed for her this weekend that we can put a rail on. Something low to the ground, more structured, but that we can lay in with her. When she is older and has an opinion we may opt for a nicer mattress/boxspring (something more natural/costly) and a nicer wood frame, but for now, the cheap mattress/cheap bed will be it.

Her MO lately with sleeping is to go to sleep generally OK, wake at 1 or 3 am, and settle down only if one of us stays with her. If we settle her and leave she will wake again soon after, and we'll just end up back in the room again, so we just stay with her. She has no interest in coming into our bed anymore. The snuggle time is really nice, though sleeping through the whole night would also be nice. We went a big stretch where miraculously we were doing that, but it has been a while. She tends to be up for the day around 6, regardless of how the night goes (there are rare mornings where she will sleep to a glorious 7 AM!). Brian usually takes her downstairs and snuggles on the couch with a blanket, some milk and some kid's tv while I shower. Then she and I have some snuggle or play time so Brian can shower, and then I head to work. On the weekends we usually all come down and bum around in PJs for a bit, eating some fruit before a full breakfast, and then eventually get into showers, etc. It is not that my life isn't busy, but I surely love this kid-mandated slower pace compared to our pre-Mina life. Snuggle and PJ time and bowls of fruit, there really isn't a better way to start the day. :)
dancerjodi: (Geek)
It was announced today that all Isis Parenting stores are closing suddenly today. So sad!

Brian and I purchased quite a bit of things from Isis both before and after Mina was born. I took a pumping class there and did many of their free webinars. I brought Mina to the International Latch On event to try and break a world record of the most women breastfeeding simultaneously. I rented a hospital-grade pump from them, and met with a lactation consultant right before I went back to work to deal with supply/lazy eating issues.

Now that Mina is 2 and it has been over a year since she stopped nursing, they aren't so important with day to day stuff for us. Though, I still think of them in those early, sensitive, serious days. It is like an old family member dying.

Such a great service, and such great loss to families in the Boston area and beyond. :(
dancerjodi: (Geek)
I hate the new (well, not so new) FLICKR setup, but it is what it is.

We had a runner installed on our stairs/landing. We bought a nice thick 100% wool remnant and had enough left over to do an 'installed runner' of sorts in our hallway too. We went with Mal Elfman's on Moody Street, Waltham. Very happy with them!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/11949262606/

Nephew Colin celebrates his birthday today (my sister's middle kid) - he's 5 now. Space is at a premium in her apartment but they always love playing with Mina's toy kitchen at our house, so I made them a toy kitchen in a box. I purchased the kitchen stickers from a very neat place http://www.stickerskinz.com/. The box was from our attic, it was filled with some new and some thrifted kid kitchen stuff.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/11948851384/

We've been busy prepping for Mina's bday party. It is small (close family and family-like friends). I've had fun putting together favors for the kids: bags with art supplies (Mina is a budding artist), most of which I bought for super cheap with the post-back to school sale at Target. Brian found a Batman ice-cube tray, and decided he wanted to make chocolates. I made some very simple capes for the kids out of felt and stick-on velcro. No sewing required.
Cape bag: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/11948389325/
Favor box: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/11948819564/
Cape pattern: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/how-to-make-a-superhero-cape-by-lara-from-howdoesshe/
Chocolates: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dancerjodi/11948795424/

I miss sewing/knitting and that general kind of creative thing, but have no energy for that at the end of the day. My 'free time' is often dance classes twice a week. I'm missing doing creative stuff. Also missing more regular exercise. I need to get this back into my life again! It is silly how much fun I've had with just simple party prep stuff.

A new week

Jan. 14th, 2014 09:09 am
dancerjodi: (Geek)
We had a fun weekend. We managed to cook/eat more at home which is a good thing. We had our trip to DHR (Brian's haircut), rearranged Mina's room back to how it was before (she wasn't sleeping well and putting things back helped). We saw the fam on Sunday night for dinner and celebrating Colin's bday.

Mina was miserable yesterday - slept poorly the night before and woke up with a fever. She was glued to me all day and didn't want to eat. The Pedi ruled out anything requiring drugs, and she is home one more day today with Brian, already feeling better. It kills me that she seems to have the bronchial issues I had as a kid, although hers are frequent, are much, much better in severity (I slept in a croup tent quite often).

I cannot believe she will be 2 on Friday! She has all of the personality of a 2 year old, which is both fun and challenging.

Our tap class was cancelled last week, but I did make it back to ballet. Oh boy, did that short holiday break set me back. I need to get regular exercise in addition to dance class. Walking, hiking, workout videos. Whatever.

Having a boss is exciting, and she will do a good job kicking us all in the butt and getting more strategically oriented, I think.

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