misc, working mother

Well, that was a trip. Three days that turned into four, a funeral, a barbecue, lots of thoughts of fathers, dead and alive, an unexpected car repair, and a baby who is awesome and demanding and adorable.

We are home, we have pizza, all the living things are alive if not totally content, and the Pook is wearing clean jammies and a cloth diaper and sucking on her fingers and talking to Iron Man.

I’m wiped out. I said, as I parked the car, “can I be done now, and collapse? Oh, no, I can’t, because I HAVE TO GO TO WORK TOMORROW.”

SUNY Potsdam, you’re on notice: I’ll be there. But I make no promises about my seriousness, my efficacy, or my ability to process language.

misc, The Tiniest Capen

Malcolm was adorable in his desire for attention this morning. We both sat on the bed, talking to each other, petting him, saying that he really is the perfect dog. Of course, this evening, now, as Justin is out running some errands, he’s pacing the house and whining, sad that Justin is gone. Alas, the life of a dog is hard. He seems to have forgotten that he and J played in the new fluffy snow today, or that we had lean-and-pet time when I got home, or that he got eggs with probiotic powder for his evening snack, or even that he gets a damn evening snack… no, he’s just going to lie in front of the kitchen door that leads to the garage and look sad and occasionally whine. This is what we call “living in the moment.” He’ll have a new moment to live in, soon enough. I just gave him a bite of cheese. Nice Dubliner, no less. Now he’s whining again. Find a new moment, Malcolm. He’ll come back, I promise.

Last night I declared that we needed to stop eating crap food and sugary treats, and that our food should consist of actual food, regardless of how tired I am. Then I made dinner and it was great: mashed sweet potato, sauteed yellow pepper and snap peas, and a beef rib steak, boned and trimmed. I, um, also cooked everything with butter. BUTTER IS FOOD, dammit. Tonight we’re having meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas, because that’s what we had the stuff for in the house. One of Justin’s errands is to get groceries, and I noted “you can add green vegetables to the list if you’re tired of frozen peas.” We’re trying. Trying is good enough.

I have reached the part of pregnant where it’s not sitting, it’s not standing, it’s not lying down… none of those is the problem. It’s transitioning between them. That’s when my pelvis and lower abs start to scream. And walking is pretty achey and limpy, too. Walk more when you’re pregnant, my ass.  YOU try it, in this body. My tension and trigger point headache issues have resurfaced in the last week, as well, as my shoulders continue to destabilize. I keep stretching, and trying to manage my posture, but it’s not always easy, or effective.

Work is proceeding; I’m nearly finished with all the major projects I want to get done before my leave begins. I’m very optimistic that I can get it done. I’ve set the start of my leave for February 17th, and my goal is to be done with the work projects by the 12th. We’ll see, we’ll see.

I was talking to a guy at work today, who was reminiscing about how excited he was when his wife was at this stage of pregnancy last year. I mentioned as we were discussing the latter part of pregnancy that I’m 38; he was startled, and said, “I didn’t realize that!” Then, apparently thinking that sounded rude, though I wasn’t offended, he clarified “I’m 39!” and all I could think was that I didn’t realize that, either. So I wonder if my ability to judge peoples’ ages is diminishing, or if I just think that people who are “my age” look younger than we really are?

We’re going to take the tree down today. What? It’s only February 5. I don’t know why you’re looking at me funny. Besides, I’m stupidly pregnant and Justin was sick for nearly 3 weeks straight in January. We’ve been distracted. And it’s still pretty. And it’s still winter out there, so we’re still celebrating it. Not to mention that the predicted 2″ of snow for today turned out to be something like 6″, so to hell with convention, our tree’s still up.

In short, life’s good. We’re going to have a baby very very soon, and my dog is still whining.

We’re good.

dreamstuff, food, misc, The Tiniest Capen

I woke up at 6:30, having had terrible, vivid, and aggressive dreams about teeth and Dorothy and housekeeping and ugh don’t try to make sense of pregnancy dreams. And then I had some grand round ligament pains, so I gave up on sleeping and finished my book instead. Eventually, the dog woke up and noticed I was awake, and climbed up on the bed with me and cuddled in between me and Justin. When I woke Justin around 9:30, Mal decided it was pee time. PEE TIME NOW. Yes, dogface, I get it, but I need pants and shoes first, so be patient. He has this great calmly bouncy thing he does where he’s super excited to GO GO NOW LETS GO, but he’s never aggressive or noisy about it. So, after finding pants and shoes and a collar and leash, off we went and I took Malcolm for his walk this morning. How nice is it to have a reason to just go outside and walk the yard for 10 minutes? Walking with this big bouncy gentle giant makes me wish we had land. I’d have gone further and longer if there was more than a yard and a softball field to choose from.

Justin requested that I make french toast, so, clearly, I did. I never turn down an easy and earnest request. But, as usual, I made it by eye. 3 eggs, some milk, some cinnamon, a splash of almond extract, and the rest of the loaf of bread on the counter. I wondered, as I always do, if this is the time I’d mess it up somehow. (Nope.) Laid out a slab of bacon on racks in a baking sheet, and turned the oven on. By the time the french toast was done, we had perfect bacon. While we ate, him in a lake of maple syrup, and me with cinnamon sugar on one half and cherry preserves on the other, I said, “I want to make Swedish pancakes soon, too. I have my dad’s recipe somewhere.” He smiled, said ok, then, “I don’t actually know what you’re talking about.” Having grown up in the Rockford area, home of Swedes and Italians, my mind boggled for a moment. I guess I know what’s on our agenda next time we visit the family.

Later, I was telling a few brief Aunt Hilda stories (RIP, Hilda Ricci Borri) and I called her a force of nature. Again, he smiled at me and said, “you had strong female role models? You?” And I laughed. You think? They were an amazing bunch of women, the Ricci sisters. They taught us how to be family, and so much more.

And so my little family is enjoying a lovely lazy Saturday, complete with French toast and maybe a nap on the couch. Life’s grand.


misc, The Tiniest Capen

And lo, the cycle of business travel begins again. This week it’s Albany for a SUNY Council of Library Directors meeting. Next week, nothing, but the week after it’s Niagara Falls for the New York Library Association conference. After that in early October comes another SCLD meeting downstate, then after that in mid-October back to Albany for a statewide library infrastructure meeting about information resources for NY libraries. And then in early November it’s Charleston, SC for the Charleston Conference. Then I’m done until after I have a baby, except for the meetings that are directly job-related that will inevitably pop up unexpectedly. My job requires surprising amounts of mileage. At least only one of them requires flying.

But for now, here I am in another Hilton Garden Inn. They’re nice hotels, if boring. This one looks precisely like the one in Salt Lake City, which is a little eerie, but I figure they were remodeled at precisely the same time. At least you know what they’re selling? And it’s super-conveniently basically across the street from SUNY Albany, where my meeting is. Which is good, because man, do I hate Albany. Always have, and haven’t found my reason not to, yet. Every now and then I wonder if sometime in my future there’s some role in Albany at SUNY administration, and then I think, “Except it’s in Albany.” Which is sort of a deal-killer for that particular musing.

And so I’m sprawled on a pile of pillows on a queen-sized bed with no cheerful bearded man next to me, no fluffy cat snoring next to me, and all sorts of ambient noise that isn’t my ambient noise pushing at my head. The refrigerator, the AC, the noise from the hall, the noise from outside… I can tune out the noise of traffic at home, but here… it’s all weird.

Also, pregnant. I had to figure out what to pack for this trip — I’m just here for a 5 hour meeting tomorrow, with other library directors who form an executive board with me, and usually I know what to wear for that, but nothing fits. I went through my closet today and put away all my clean laundry, and pulled out all the pants and skirts that don’t fit anymore. Pulled out all the tight shirts not made of stretchy fabric. Pulled out all the dresses that don’t have give or wraps to them. Seriously cut the list down, and reduces my options. I’m not used to having reduced options. Of all the challenges I’ve ever had in my professional life, not having something to wear has never been one of them. So that was interesting.

As was driving four hours to Albany. I had an audiobook, and the Toyota with its AC and good cruise control, and snacks, but man, it was hard. I wanted a nap about six times. I ate Starburst instead. (Hey, baby: learn to like candy.) I’m also having an interesting collection of random but normal 2nd trimester pains, so those are distracting and vaguely annoying while driving. I mean, there’s not a thing I can do about them, but when I’m driving I can do even less. Anyway. I got here. I have a dress and boots in a suitcase. I’m across the street from where I’m going. This bed is pretty comfy. I’ll be home for bedtime tomorrow. I’ll be in my office on Thursday. And I’ll do it all again in 2 weeks.


#mightyifitkillsme, misc

So, today: Part 1 was Qi Gong and hip openers. Lots of intensive wide-stance bent-knee thigh exercises. The stretches at the end, though, those feel like magic. I should remember those. I don’t bend as low as they do in the video, but I’m getting much, much closer. Full sets on everything. Go me.  Second half was the chair thing, which makes me sort of sad/glad I was never a ballet dancer. Hold onto the back of a chair in front of you. Start with your feet in second position, lift your heels off the floor, and, now… bend your knees until your hips reach your heels. Now lift your right leg until it’s as close to parallel with the ground as you can get it. Lower. Lift. Lower. Now bend the other knee while you do it. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

So that happened. I did as much as I could, which was most of it, but there is no way in hell my foot is going to come up to hip height with a straight knee, at this point. Maybe someday. I did all the reps, just… with very little height.  It was a good workout, that’s for sure. As I stood at the counter blending up my banana-protein powder smoothie, I could feel my legs trembling. Just standing there. Huh. This is me, I guess. Just a new me.

Justin and I were talking yesterday, and he observed that right now I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in the years he’s known me. He’s right. I’m also in the least pain. In the last few months, my right ankle is a bit of a disaster after this summer’s knife fight, and my right shoulder is still not 100% and may never be, but I’m having fewer headaches, fewer shoulder problems, fewer joint issues in general. That’s amazing, and my painkiller/muscle relaxer intake is down by about 75%. I’ll take it, even if it does make me sweaty and irritable for 20 minutes each day.

I also observed while we were talking that it’s entirely probable that I had exercise-induced asthma (diagnosed by my doctor 2 years ago) for my entire life. I hated sprinting as a kid, because I couldn’t breathe. I loathed running days and Presidential fitness tests because they were hard and I couldn’t breathe. I avoided team sports because most of them involved running (I liked volleyball). The outdoor things I enjoyed — swimming, playing outside, skiing, bike riding — are not heavy cardio exercises that would push my lung capacity (or, not the way I did ’em). And since I sort of openly hated team sports and organized play, nobody pushed me to do those things, and who knows. Maybe this was happening all along but I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain it. I just “hated exercise.”

Then 2 years ago I was at the gym on campus, on the elliptical machine, pushing myself to burn and sweat (because omg getting fat and this is not okay), and I realized my breath was whistling out of my windpipe. Literally whistling. I called it a night, bundled up to go home, and when I hit the 10 degree air outside, I nearly panicked, because the breathing got worse. I called for a doctor appointment. My doctor (of 9 years) listened to my lungs, and I told him my story, and then also the story of the time I went to get allergy tested and they did a lung volume test and the nurse kept telling me to blow harder because I wasn’t getting enough volume into the machine and I kept saying, “That’s all I can do”… And he gave me a prophylactic Albuterol inhaler. “Exercise induced asthma.” I’m fine the rest of the time, just when I do vigorous sudden activity, my lungs freak out. Hiking, running, aerobics, yep, not surprised that’s when it happens. Use it 20 minutes before you start, and the symptoms won’t appear.

It works. If I forget to use it? Whistling.

So. The things I’m learning. Justin said, “You just never did anything that was hard before”, and exercise was hard, so I never really noticed the asthma. Rather than being insulted, I just know he’s right. I’ve always avoided doing things that are hard. It’s just part of my pathology.

Part I’m getting rid of.

insert emoticon here, misc

Why do I straighten my hair, when it freaks so many people out? Because it’s nice to have it lie flat, where I put it, and not be strangely frizzy, fluffy, or otherwise untidy. I have this feeling like no matter how nicely I dress or groom myself, my curling hair is this independent actor communicating strange things with my audience from behind my line of sight.

#mightyifitkillsme, misc

Wrote a long professional blog post about work-life balance. Most days I feel like I have it… some days not. Today I wonder when I’m going to find/make time to hang out with my friends, knit the baby gifts I have on the needles, write my Christmas thank you notes and mail photos to my grandmother, finish Justin’s slippers and hat, deal with the Life Checklist thing I discovered recently, sort and pay the medical bills, and on, and on, and on…

Ah, well. So be it. I’ll go home after work, make broiled salmon and steamed veggies with wild rice for dinner, and go do more of Workout Hell. If we decide to watch tv together, I’ll also work on knitting projects. If we don’t, I’ll tackle some paperwork. It all comes out in the end.

But it does feel like an awfully heavy weight, sometimes, to manage the details of making it come out.

In other news, the last two days of Week 2 of Workout Hell were hard hard hard. I didn’t write about Day 6, because it generally sucked and I promptly went upstairs and got back in bed: I felt uncoordinated, had no energy, and was confused and frustrated and tired. That might have been me more than the routine, but I’m not so sure. Day 7 was better; less swinging body movement, so I felt like less of an idiot, more yoga-based strength poses. I was able to do all the things, and only gave up in the first half of the day on the last half of the last sets, dropping from 8 to 4, which is progress from the first time I did this segment in Week 1. The second half of the program was the Curl section, doing tons of ab work. Harder than hell, and I followed Modification Girl the whole way, because I just don’t have the core strength not to. Today is the start of another week of Strength, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m interested to see how long it takes before I can do all the sets, full counts, no modifications, on the upper body sections. I’d like to have a functional upper body!

Also, these are my favorite boots, not counting my $400 Son of Sandlar larp boots:

Someday I’ll take a picture of the Son of Sandlar boots, but for now, have an image of my battered, fire-melted $50 Target knockoffs of classic Frye harness boots.


I opened the basement door, took a few steps down, and thought, “Wait. Is that water?”

My initial assumption was that the dehumidifier had blown its hose, and was dehumidifiying into a floor puddle instead of the drain. Nope. When I got down there I splashed into a full inch of water before I could hit the lights, and nearly wiped out on the rubber floor mat which not surprisingly was floating on the water, thus making the water look not as deep as it was and the mat look usable. Yipes.

So I flipped a light on… and everything I could see was wet. Nary a dry floor in sight.

By the time I left for work, Justin was replacing the sump pump with help from the landlord’s shop assistant, and we had moved anything that could be further damaged off the floor. Fortunately for us, Justin’s smart: there was very little on the floor to be damaged, even though we have a ton of stuff down there. The shelves he built have a 3-4 inch clearance off the floor, so not much was sitting wet. Wet rubber floor mats. Wet yoga mat. A few wet cardboard boxes. Mostly, though… just wet floor and wet floor coverings and wet feet on furniture.

In a small and kind little miracle, the air compressor and bandsaw were both sitting in the one dry spot in the occupied portion of the basement, for which I am eternally grateful. I would have had a sad, sad man in my house if that had happened otherwise.

And I would have been a sad, sad woman if Justin hadn’t been a part of my life for this one. Everything I value is in plastic tubs, and is on shelves, or pallets, because he thought that was the smart thing to do and helped me do it. I called for his help and he was there, functional, and ready to solve it. He stayed calm, and we joked and laughed about what we could as we sloshed around. And I trust him to make our life work right, even though I needed to put on a dress and heels and get to work.

My life is in good hands.

And it’s only an inch of water. When it dries out we run the washing machine and make sure it works, and the treadmill, and we deal with the fallout on either of those when it comes. For now, I just feel lucky.


We have our Novitas staff retreat this weekend, and it’ll be somewhere between 12 and 15 people, ranging from early 20s to early 40s. Some couples, some folks without their partners. We’re going to sit around and geek out about our game and our club and our world, and then we’re going to have a party, and then we’re going to do more work for the club and the game. And in there, we need to eat. Somehow I volunteered to bring pulled pork and shredded beef, because it’s an easy way to make meat for a crowd, and it crockpots.

And so here I am, with probably 7 pounds of shredded meat, worrying that it’s not going to be enough food. So I posted to our staff forum asking other people to bring sides, buns, etc.

Through it all, there’s a part of my brain thinking, “What the hell are you obsessing about?” while the other part of my brain screams “if there’s not enough food it’s an insult and a poor reflection on your hospitality!”

Except I’m not the hostess. I’m just a part of the group. But they’re my friends! And we show love by feeding people!

I’m blaming Italian Grandmother Syndrome.

Brett, Melissa, Jenica, and Grandma Florence