Holiday Eating

Today we had Morgan and Erik over for a Passover/Easter feast. Morgan made saucy chicken and chopped liver, and I made fruit kugel and Passover brownies and roasted asparagus. (The asparagus was an afterthought when I realized we didn't have any vegetables.) We also had Easter eggs with the brownies for dessert.

The recipes for Morgan's saucy chicken and my kugel both came out of the yellow book and they both turned out really well. The Passover brownies were made from my mother-in-law's recipe. They didn't turn out so well because they didn't cook through; I didn't realize until this morning when I tried to turn them out of the pan. I glued the whole mess together with Glossy Chocolate Frosting made from a recipe in my old Betty Crocker book, and it worked really well. I thought the whole meal turned out great, considering all the recipes we used were new to us.

We all ate and ate until we couldn't move, and then squeezed in a little more, and now I'm so tired. It was good; I love holiday food.


I had a meltdown yesterday. I was trying to play on the computer and Del wanted me to hold her, but I knew if I did she'd try and mess with the keyboard and grab things and generally be a pain in the ass. So I gave her some toys to play with, but she wasn't interested. Then I gave her some objects which, while not technically toys and therefore more interesting than actual toys, are still pretty safe; I gave her a yellow translucent set square from an old math set. I gave her a red glass dreidel I bought in Venice. I gave her a rolly drafting ruler. I gave her the very best of my random desk drawer crap, and she still wasn't interested. I begged and pleaded with her to just sit down and play for a few minutes, but she just hung onto my leg and cried to be picked up.

Finally I lost it. I yelled, "Would you just shut up!", and picked up the keyboard and banged it on the desk, which made a very satisfying and very loud noise, and scared the crap out of her and made her really cry ("I'll give you something to cry about!") and then I didn't even have the decency to feel bad. Instead I got up and stormed around the house cleaning up, because the mess which I had unsuccessfully being trying to clean up all day was playing on my nerves. Delphine crawled around after me, sobbing miserably.

After a couple of minutes I had cleaned up the worst of the mess and relieved some frustration, and I gathered the poor weeping bundle into my arms and we cuddled and nursed in the rocking chair and I apologized for scaring her and for getting angry, and I told her I love her.

And of course all I achieved in the end was teaching her that when Mummy sits at the computer Very Bad Things happen and it is Scary, and you should always cry when Mummy sits at the computer, just in case. Still, I taught myself that getting angry at a baby is not only useless, it is often actually counter-productive.

I have attachment parented myself into a corner. I've always held Delphine a lot, because she is happier being held than not. I don't know if that's standard baby behaviour, or if it's my fault for not somehow teaching her to play by herself. Indeed, she does play by herself sometimes, and I might be overstating the amount of time she needs to be held. And maybe soon enough she won't want to be held at all, and I will wonder what I was complaining about. But for right now, it seems like she is always in my arms. I hold her when I do housework, I hold her when I cook (if it's safe), I hold her when she naps. She's eleven months old! I need my arms back! I love it when Blake comes home and takes her so that I can be free to cook and wash dishes without her clinging to my legs. (Cooking and washing dishes is my Fun Me Time! Fuck!)

And at the same time I feel like such a loser for complaining about my terribly difficult life when my friend Debbie back home is holding down three paying jobs at the same time as bringing up her son. When I know there are single Moms out there who would love my problems. I feel like such a asshole for not being able to handle a baby as sweet and calm as Delphine without losing my temper.

This problem is exacerbated by a concurrent but largely unrelated crisis of confidence I'm having about my life in general. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself, and I'm pretty displeased with myself so far. I make lots of jokes about being a slacker and an underacheiver, but underneath I really believe I should do something useful with my time on this earth. It's true that being a good mother is important work, but I don't believe that it is enough of a contribution to the world; it's a good start, but one should give more if one has more to give, which I do.

I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't done more. I'm disappointed that I only have a lousy three-year degree. I fear that I will get to be thirty-five or forty and realize my life is half over and I still haven't done anything useful or valuable. I'm pissed off that I have this big meaty brain and I don't have anything to show for it, no job, no shiny post-grad degree, nothing except a small child with a big meaty brain of her own. I fear that I really am lazy and stupid, like I call myself all the time.

I still don't know what I should do when I grow up, but I'm starting to suspect that I have already grown up and the time to do anything is running short.

Arthur Itis

I'm not updating much, am I? I started to wonder if I should have a journal (or weblog) at all. I can't be attracting much traffic with my infrequent updates and rather dull life. But on the other hand it's nice to have a place to write things out when I need to think about them, and to keep track of my life to look back on later. A sensible person would keep a private journal, but I've never been able to maintain a journal just for myself. Even though I know hardly anyone reads this, I like the idea that anyone can. Plus sometimes people find me through Google and I have something useful for them, which is nice.

We went to the doctor on Tuesday because Delphine has had a cold, and on Sunday we noticed a rash on her torso. She had a shitty day yesterday, crying and miserable all day, but last night she slept like an angel. By the time we went to the doctor this morning the rash was all but invisible and I looked like a crazy neurotic mom. The doc said that rashes like that are pretty typical symptoms of a viral infection. She checked Del's glands, lungs and ears and she looks generally okay, although she said to look out for an ear infection in about a week.

While I was there I asked about being checked for rheumatoid arthritis. I said I'd heard that if it's treated early enough they can prevent it from getting worse, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to treat it early. (Trying, as usual, not to sound like a hypochondriac -- I feel stupid complaining about arthritis at 28 years old.) The doctor doesn't think it's rheumatoid because it's only in my hips. She thinks it's osteo-; I think it might be rheumatoid because it started when I was in high school, it went away when I was pregnant and came back with a vengeance after Delphine was born, and because that's what my mother calls her arthritis. Actually, now that I think about it I didn't tell her the first thing, and the last thing is perhaps not so useful. Anyway, she ordered a blood test to check for rheumatoid factors (which will also apparently detect syphilis -- good to know) so I duly went to have my blood taken and soon we'll know either way.

Not Much Excitement

There isn't much going on with Delphine lately. She's been busy having colds lately, and that seems to have put a damper on her development. She's still cruising, not walking, and babbling, not talking. She is still very mild-mannered and observant and generally a pleasure to be around, except when she's miserable about being sick.

We have been reading to her a lot. I read a book called Babies Need Books by Dorothy Butler which I can't recommend enough. Butler is passionate about books, and she makes a very strong argument as to why and how babies should be exposed to books at a very young age.

I had given up on the book thing when Delphine was about eight months old because she didn't seem interested in reading, more in pulling the books apart and eating them. The Butler book convinced me to try again, with more patience, and it seems to have worked. One of the things Butler says is that babies always go through a stage of demolishing books when they're first exposed to them, whether that be at six months or three years. You just have to forge through it until they learn that the content of the books is more interesting than the flavour of them.

So I tried again, picking a few of the books Butler recommends, and it's really working. Reading is now the main activity we do together (since Delphine doesn't really play with anything yet) and Del seems to enjoy it. She looks at the pages and turns them, sometimes even at the appropriate time, if it's a book she knows well, like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. She does all the activities in Pat The Bunny except sniffing the flowers, and I can't say I blame her about that.

One of the things which made reading easier is that I stopped being such a stickler about how we read together. I used to think that she had to be in my lap, but now I'll read to her while she's sitting apart from me and playing with something else. It helps that I can read upside down, so I can point the book at her and read the text from above.

I'm really enjoying all the great books out there. The Butler book helped me get a feel for what makes a good baby book, and each week we go to the library and I'm able to find half-a-dozen books which fit the bill. I really like Mr Grumpy's Outing by John Burningham, and Peepo! by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, the Mog books, Brown Bear... there are a million of them. I just got Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, a Dr Suess book (although not by Dr Suess) which is hilarious. Except the text says "monkey" and the pictures are chimps. Sigh. I'll have to clear that up with her when she gets older.

That's all. Go read Mimi Smartypants and Dooce.

Two-thousand Calories

A while ago I said I was going to cut down to 2000 calories a day, but I've been having a hard time doing so. It seems so lame, when you consider that there are so many people on 1200 and 1600 cpd diets, that I can't even cut down to a still-excessive 2000 cpd. The difference for me is that when you're on a diet, you know it's a temporary thing, that even if you can't have the cookie or the chocolate today, one day when you're not on the diet anymore you'll be able to. Since my diet isn't a temporary change, I am reluctant to give things up because I know it's forever.

My ultimate goal is to eat an average of 1800 calories per day. You need to take in about 1600 calories per day to get all the nutrients you need; that's 1600 calories of real food, leafy vegetables and whole grains and lean meat and fruit. At 1800 calories a day that only leaves 200 calories free for "fun" food. That's less than a chocolate bar. That's just two cookies. I'm sure there are plenty of people in this world who live without having fun food every day, but I'm not sure I want to be one of them.

This resistance to giving up treats is what has made it so hard to break the 2000 calorie barrier. I've been hovering around 2050 for the last few days, but yesterday I decided if I can be under 2000 every day this week, I will reward myself with some tacky makeup or something on the weekend.

I have a couple of strategies I'm working on. One is to have a big breakfast with lots of protein and fruit, to keep me going without hunger until lunchtime. Then theoretically I'll be able to have a smallish lunch.

Another strategy is to keep digestive cookies in the house. It sounds counter-intuitive to diet by keeping cookies in the house, but digestives are pretty low calorie*, and a couple of them plus a cup of tea are enough to satisfy my desire for a treat in the afternoon. If I don't have them around, I'm likely to go to Starbucks and get a 200 calorie mocha and a 500 calorie scone. I think of them as a pressure valve.

[*Actually digestives are still pretty high calorie -- around 75 calories each. I think next time I will buy social tea biscuits or something, which are only around 22 calories each. That way I can have six of them!]

Anyway, having said that, I weighed myself at the doctor's office this morning and I have lost another 5 lbs to bring me down to 190, with a BMI of 30.7. That's only 0.7... um.... BMI units? away from being merely "overweight", not "obese". How exciting!

I'm curious to see if I plateau at 185, since I have never been able to diet down past 185. I think that might be my adult low, actually. (I don't know what I weighed in high school, although I do know I was wearing size 36 Levi 501s. I should go try on a pair and see if I fit into them.)

I've lost a total of 42 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I don't feel 42 lbs smaller, and I don't think I look it. I get the odd comment, but not the barrage of compliments that you'd hope for when you've lost almost 20% of yourself. Part of the problem is that I haven't bought many new clothes, so I'm still wearing my 230 lb wardrobe; my look now is "baggy". And of course there's the fact that for so long I've been so militantly happy to be fat that most of my friends know better than to say "You've lost weight!" as a compliment. Still, it would be nice to know that my shrinkage is perceptible to others.

I read an article by a woman, my height, who described herself as plump and unattractive. Then she said she needed to lose 20 lbs to feel desirable -- she was 155 lbs and wanted to be 135. Twenty pounds is the difference between unattractive and desirable, and I've lost twice that! Before, I felt like me, and now, I feel like me. I guess it's good that I don't invest my weight with so much meaning, but the flip side of that coin is that when I lose weight I don't get the big irrational ego boost. Humph.

No More Text!

The idea of IDEs not being forced to rely on text files has been popping up in several of the weblogs I read. While I think Alan has part of the reason correct (there's a lot of infrastructure dedicated to dealing with text files), I don't think he has it all. There are definately some major advantages to putting things in plain text files, which seem to be being ignored For instance, my company has moved from a binary resource format to a text-based resource format precisely because of the advantages it brings. (Well, okay, we never went with the binary format, but that's because the people making the decision saw the problems it had at previous places.) Those advantages being:
  • No tool/vendor lock-in.
  • Easier to fix when something goes wrong.
  • Easier to see the differences when something changes.
I suppose these benefits could also be had by using a standardized text-based (or xml-based) representation of the image for loading and saving, along with smarter tools for editing, but I'm not sure that making the tools smarter is such a good idea in the first place. Should my source code control system really be forced to know about my programming language? What if I change languages?

Living the life I live

We've made a couple of decisions in the last few days which sit well with me. Little things, but little things which will amount to big improvements in my life.

First we decided not to renovate the kitchen. We were going to do a pretty sizeable reno, knocking out a wall, changing cabinet doors, new countertops and backsplash, and a new paint job. I would have looked really great, but it was largely cosmetic and would have been in the neighbourhood of $10 000, probably more if you factor in the inevitable delays and fuckups. That's a lot of money for a would-be-nice reno.

We decided to keep the money (most of it coming from my stock options) and put it into paying down our mortgage. That way we'll be able to use it later when we buy a house, which will probably be in much more dire need of renovating than our ten-year-old condo.

Second we decided to set up an "office" for me, with the Windows box and my Palm cradle and the printer all set up and the filing cabinet nearby. This means I'll be able to go back to using my Palm for appointments (because I only use it when I can use the Palm Desktop) and I'll be able to print stuff out and manage the household that much easier. Right now it's a bit chaotic, with Windows on a laptop which drifts about the house, my Palm cradle not hooked up to anything, and the printer just barely working in a corner. It's a pain in the ass.

Finally, I've been doing lots of little spring cleaning things, getting rid of or putting away stuff which doesn't apply any more. Stuff like my music stand, which I used when I was taking voice lessons. I finally folded it up and put it away, which means that I've accepted that I won't be taking voice lessons again for a while, and also that I won't have to clean around it. I've put away our funky fruit stand because we have nowhere to keep it; it was on top of a bookcase but up there we never noticed it so the fruit just rotted. Now I don't have to worry about where to put it. I'm going to put away our wine glasses, which will free up another two feet of book shelves, and I won't have to dust them, nor do I have to think about how we're not really the kind of people who need wine glasses.

It's about getting my physical surroundings in line with the life I actually live, getting rid of things which aren't relevant any more, and making more space, physical and mental, for the things which are.


Not much to say, I just feel like being heard and I've been away from the Suspects for so long it would be weird to just step back in and start talking about myself. Isn't that what blogs are for?

It's a partly cloudy day, and I feel my mood rise and fall precisely with the appearance and disappearance of the sun. Delphine is in the middle of a long nap, and I should be doing housework but I'm catching up on Mimi Smartypants and Dooce instead. Morgan's coming over tomorrow afternoon to babysit while I houseclean, so that has given me license to slack off and play with the baby instead of trying to clean. Which is good because Delphine has a cold and she's needy and cranky and really doesn't want to have to hang desperately onto my pants leg as I try and wash dishes.

I'm coming down with a cold, too, probably the same one. It's only mild as yet, just a scratchy throat. Hopefully I'll lick it quickly and pass the antibodies onto Del so we aren't sick for too long.

28 Year Checkup

I went to the doctor today for my annual physical. I always enjoy physicals because I'm generally healthy, and when else do I get to spend forty five minutes talking with someone all about me! me! me!?

Everything's good; she gave me the go-ahead to work on another baby, which is great if academic since I'm still amenorrheic due to nursing. Apparently most women start ovulating while they are still nursing. Also the average age difference between children when birth control is not used is 22 to 28 months, and pregnancies started before that are more likely to miscarry, although they're not sure why. Interesting facts which all basically mean we will let nature take its course, and also that I will start taking folic acid now so I'm all ready to go whenever my body is.

I also talked a bit about the arthritis that's developing in my hips. There's not a whole lot they can do about that, which is a bit of a pisser. She said if there's a lot of pain, or I'm anticipating some activity which will cause pain (like tennis, she said. That'll be the day.) I could take a prophylactic ibuprofen to inhibit the inflammation which causes more joint damage. Also, losing weight is a great idea, she said.

And hooray, I'm down to 195 lbs! I haven't seen this side of 200 lbs lo these many years. (I'm also down to a size 18, another numeric milestone.) I'm quite pleased that I'm still losing even though I've been sitting at 2100 calories per day for quite a while now. The doctor suggested I should go down to around 1800 calories a day, so I've changed my goal in Fitday to 2000 cpd, and I'll work my way down.

The challenge is going to be eating properly; I have a tendency to skip real food in order to save calories for treats like pastries and ice cream. Such a bad idea. I'm going to try watching my food groups, making sure I get 5 to 10 fruit and veg, 6 to 12 grain, etc etc. I have to be in good nutritional shape to make another beautiful healthy baby. I think it will be easier now that spring is coming; fruit and salads always seem more palatable in warm weather. In winter I just want large piles of meat and potatoes.

Rewriting Progect.

In my copious free time, I've started helping Rick Price rewrite the internals of Progect (a project management application for the Palm) in a more object-oriented manner. It's an interesting task, getting to redesign an application with a well defined set of features, and I'm glad to be able to help, even the little that I can. As the project progesses, and as I get the free time, I'll add more of my thoughts on the topic to this category, so that we will have a record of what the decisions and thought processess were that went in to the new design.