Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Snotty Nose = Surgery Postponed

Josie's stint removal and kidney imaging surgery that was scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) has been postponed two weeks due to her snotty nose and recent fever. They have to give her anaesthesia for the procedure and they were worried that with all the boogies and the coughing that her breathing might be compromised. I'm not a big fan of compromised breathing - it should be avoided at all costs seeing how essential breathing is to things that I value - such as STAYING ALIVE.

So you'll have to wait until March 11th to find out how the JB's kidney is.

While I am sending out the love...

After getting all teary-eyed over how much I love my friend Tiffany, I starting thinking that I really ought to also post at least a brief shout out to my San Diego buddies. Mitch and I have a group of very close friends in San Diego that we like to mooch off of and hang out with on a regular basis. These are people that are basically like our extended family. People we can go visit when we are happy or sad, or tired of southern California traffic or tired of our kids. However we are, they take us in, feed us, let us use their towels and spread our crap all over their houses, and generally make us feel happy to be alive and among friends.

A couple of weeks ago I had a work trip to San Diego so in a typical fashion, on extremely short notice, we bundled up our family of four including two extremely loud toddlers and showed up on our friend's Allie and Tom's doorstep. Not only did they take us in and feed us and tolerate all of our faults (which are numerous) but in typical fashion Allie arranged for us to get together with all of our other friends, let me borrow her car and Tom let me eat his breakfast bars and use up lots of solar-powered electricity. I've known Allie for an eternity and the fact that she still actually likes me (at least I think that she does...) just goes to show that the universe is a kind, generous, and forgiving place.

In that same trip we managed to eat lots of delicious food, make total messes, and then immediately disappear from Allie and Tom's house, Rob and Becca's house, and Caitlin and Tim's house. I hope they will all come to Ventura soon and inflict the same on us - except I hope they will stay longer.

We did recently have a wonderful visit from Becca, Rob, Ava and Max thanks to Elise's wonderful community organizing skills. And while it was fabulous to see them, as always, I must say that they didn't leave a speck of mess behind in our house - in fact I think Becca actually did not only any dishes they got dirty but some that had been sitting in our sink for several weeks...

So anyway, any San Diegans out there that are reading this, we love you guys and we hope you'll come visit soon.

Appreciation of the Tiffster

So I write in this blog every so often, as you may have noticed. I like writing here. It is definitely a self-indulgent exercise but I also like to think that it is informative for those few people my world who live far away but want to keep tabs on the haps at the Brigham-Allen household. For the toothsome hand-crafted essays there is Mitch's blog. But for the day to day schlock (when I'm up for it), Boomvang is the place.

But what I really wanted to take a moment to write about here is my friend Tiffany. Tiffany is one of my best friends, ever. She is the kind of person who really listens when you talk to her and gives you her advice in a kind and gentle way even if she knows you won't like it. She always remembers your birthday and calls you even if you haven't called her in years. She remembers the quirky stuff about a person like that they don't particularly like most cooked vegetables. And she has lots of wonderful quirky traits of her own like she has a very strict anti-dry skin regimen and she loves all things small and furry (especially cats) and she is always reading some nutty book that she heard a review of on NPR (like the essays by all the super old people - the hundred year old people) and she can never get enough of Law and Order. Those aren't really the essential elements of Tiffany, just a grab bag of things that come to mind at this instant. The bottom line is that she, like so many of my friends who tolerate what a crap friend I often am (I am a cancerian, if you don't like the claws and the hard exterior than BACK OFF!!), is a truly wonderful individual.

And, back to where I started, with the blog, one of the many things about her that is truly wonderful is that she not only reads my blog, but she frequently posts comments so that I know that she is out there and has read my post and has something to say about it. And they don't have to be pithy thoughts, though they often are, sometimes it is just an "awesome" about a silly post about my little goose.

Anyway, Tiffany kicks ass and I can't wait to go visit her and Jason in two weeks. I apologize for the serious Tiffany picture. I can't find any of the fun, doing other things pictures of Tiffany on my computer...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stuck in a ...

Stuck in an old tire bin (that's what my friend Sarah and I used to think the CCR lyrics were instead of stuck in Lodi again - who knew what Lodi was??). No, just stuck in a bit of a rut. I've always disliked rut-generating things such as off-road motorbikes, ATVs, and even mountain bikes (maybe it was that time drunks wielding shotguns drove through a fence on their ATVs and ran over my field experiments...). Anyway my dislike of ruts extends to not only the physical but also the metaphorical.

While ruts in the real world and the psychological world may be a fact of every day existence (they are for me anyway), once I realize I'm in one (acknowledging is the first step), I like to make a plan of action for extricating myself. A psychological digging out and laying down of the logs so to speak.

I've been in a bit of a rut recently - able to hang with the girls, produce at least some worthwhile items at work, and not injure myself or anyone else but not able to take it to the next level by actually exercising, cleaning the bathroom or working my way through the pile of laundry. This weekend I resolved to break on through to the other side with this ambitious plan:
Fri AM - jogging with the girls
Sat AM - yoga at the Y
Sun AM - jogging with the girls
sometime - clean the bathroom

I managed to go running, go to yoga, and the clean the bathroom but not make the second day of running (I begged off with a sore throat). I say three out of four ain't bad. I am feeling a bit better. Physical exercise is always good and I'm seriously digging the second day achy muscles from the yoga. I did have an idiot moment at yoga where I couldn't find my yoga mat and refused to borrow one from the Y (because I was too embarassed) and I got to overcome the unpleasantness of the hard floor in order to achieve inner peace (so I've got that going for me).

So out of this rut and hopefully smooth traveling for a bit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What do you eat?

I'm not up for changing my current lifestyle but recent readings/events have made me wonder if I am one of the few adults on earth who's diet consists primarily of tofu dogs, veggie burgers, frozen pizza, pasta, and burrittos. Are there other adults who are not 20 year old vegetarian males who eat like us?

I'm not complaining. I don't have the energy, inclination, or skill to whip up gourmet meals. In fact, I don't have the energy to whip up a damn thing. Mitch does all the cooking. We do eat a lot of fruits and some vegetables and the girls seem to be growing. So it can't be all bad.

Drop me a line if you are an adult who eats like us or know of anyone else who does.

The Goose and the Mullet

Last weekend on a rainy Friday we went to check out our local thrift stores for some various and sundry household and child items. After our shopping was done we went to Subway for lunch.

Lucy and I were sitting at a table letting our pants dry while Mitch and Josie ordered our sandwiches. While we were waiting this middle-aged couple came in. The guy had a pretty spectacular mullet and the long part went quite a ways down his back. Lucy saw him and said,

"Wow, he has beautiful hair."

I guess a new mullet aficionado is born every day.

Instant Gratification

I think instant gratification is too easily maligned. Wanting good things to happen quickly isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just because I need all craft/home improvement/self-improvement projects to be completed within 24-78 hours of instigation doesn't mean I am a bad person. It also doesn't mean I'm not willing to work hard over long periods for some things (I have a freaking phd and if that doesn't involve a lot of drudgery for long periods of time, I don't know what does. I am also a professional weed killer and native plant restorer - another task that takes a long f*ing time so cut me a little slack here).

Anyway what I really want to talk briefly about here are Mitch and my half-baked plans to extend our deck and build a small (10 ft x 10 ft) playhouse / guest room in our back yard. While I am very excited about this idea, I can already tell you that although I am sure that the project will end well, it will involve an unlimited amount of pain, annoyance, frustration and no small degree of marital strife. If we could buy, build, and decorate the thing over a weekend while simultaneously taking our kids to the park, the zoo, and the beach and not missing a single nap - then you would have a project to my liking.

What will really happen is that we will agonize about it for months, finally get started and then it will take like a billion years to get done (3- 6 months). During which time lots of our family time will get eaten up, the backyard will be strewn with nails and other foreign objects thus taking it out of circulation for the girls, and Mitch and I will have conversations like this:

Christy: "Are you sure we can't just put the walls together with duct tape? It would go a lot faster than all these nails and wood screws and I'm sure it would hold up just fine."
Mitch: "No. It must be built to these construction standards that I put together from the web, advice from experts, and 50 books that I checked out from the library on constructing small play houses. Following my specifications it will take ten years to build but will withstand a 6.8 earthquake, a flood, a fire, and the second coming."

Later that same month:

Christy: "This goddamn thing still isn't done? I can not be personally responsible for both the girls for a single second more. I know you take care of them by yourself all day everyday but I am not cut out for this. Let's just light what we have on fire and forget about the playhouse all together."

Later that same year:

Mitch: "Are you sure I have to construct an L-shaped patio in the middle of our playhouse so that we don't have to dig up this patch of grass you planted five years ago? Can't we just pave over the grass? Making this modification is making the building a thousand times more complex..."

But when it is all said and done, I am sure whatever "we" (read Mitch) build will be really freaking awesome and will be much better for our guests than either sleeping on the floor in the girls room or cuddling up on the couch with Katafanga.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I am grateful for the little people and my big person on Valentines Day

I am one of those people, those people who bad mouth valentines day and never get it together to go out for a romantic dinner or what have you. But I must say that this valentines day I am feeling very appreciative of all my peoples everywhere. I am definitely a flawed human being who suffers from such faults as not being as nice to people as I should be, getting crabby with my kids, saying crap and jesus with sufficient frequency that Lucy now says crap and jesus, eating too much chocolate, not running enough, the list goes on and on. But having a whole wide variety, panoply, smorgasborg of friends of all different shapes, sizes, and meanings definitely helps me get by.

Having kids has really made me appreciate all the different kinds of relationships that help support a flawed individual like myself. Before kids I was kind of a one person, one dog kind of person. I knew a lot of people and got along with a lot of people (although there have always been those relationships of mutual disregard...) but was really only close with three, four, maybe five people. But now that graduate school is over and many (not all, but many) of my "people" have moved far away, I find myself sustained both by these long distance relationships (you know who you are) but also by a whole spectrum of other friendships.

So this valentines day, while I am thankful for my main man mitch, and my two crazy girls who I love LOVE LOVE, I am also thankful for my families (genetic and through marriage), and my people people, and my park friends, and my work friends, and my preschool friends. It takes a village not just to raise a child but also to sustain us flawed individuals. So happy valentines day.

P.S. i was inspired to write about valentines day by Jessica's post and tiffany's constant championing of this crappy ass holiday

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Third Rail of the Brigham-Allen Relationship

Maybe therapy is the only answer. But I can't see spending big bucks on a therapist for me during today's economy and while we still don't have a college fund for either of the girls. Yes, the emotional third rail of our marriage has once again reared its ugly head and it is (drum roll please)... not money (we're both saver - types), not nookie, but yes, dogs. Yes, the "I want a dog" bug is back. Perhaps some of you may recall the 8000 annoying, tedious posts that I wrote about six months ago going on and on about dogs.

I must say that dog ownership has never been a big togetherness point for Mitch and I. Yes, he was a big supporter of my dog miya who I had when we met. And yes he was a great dad to Cleo and took excellent care of her and pretty much managed her cancer treatment single-handedly. But my obsession with dogs and somewhat neurotic need to always have a pet dog has thrown a monkey wrench into our relationship more than once.

There was the limping pound dog incident of 1998 (summary - two weeks sleeping on the couch because of dog fights - eventual re-homing) and now, most recently, the jeb foster dog debacle. The stress of the jeb situation and the tension/fights that inspired were enough to put me off dogs for a while. I was hoping that "not now" feeling about dog ownership would last a good long time.

But now it is back. The "where is my furry friend" feeling. Cats just don't cut it. I think I'm probably lacking some key human relationship gene/behavior/coping strategy and instead channel that energy into dogs.

Anyway Mitch is still strongly in the "are you insane? our kids are very little. we already don't sleep through the night. we already have piles of clean and dirty laundry in our living room. what about this situation says "let's introduce a needy, shedding, potentially biting NEW organism into this mix," camp. Yes, I can see how his viewpoint may be the one derived from the rational realm. But what can I say, that still doesn't erase the "my dog wherefore art thou" feeling...

Welcome Two Ariels and Six King Tritons

I've been waiting to write this post until I was sure they would survive but now that our second batch of goldfish has made it through more than a month of duplex living I would like to announce the arrival of our newest pets.

I had this idea to give Josie and Lucy two goldfish for Christmas this year. I had this vision of them getting up on Christmas morning to a aquarium with their new fish in it. Unfortunately this turned out to be almost impossible logistically since we were staying in a rental house on the beach for Christmas. I didn't want to move the whole aquarium back and forth and stress out the fish. So instead we decided to give the girls the fish as a present for surviving the whole hospital ordeal. Thus in the second week of January we went to the pet store with Grandma Jo and picked out two goldfish, one gold and one black, from the feeder fish tank. Lucy was pretty psyched as was Josie and Lucy named the fish Ariel and King Triton (little mermaid anyone?).

Unfortunately the first King Triton and Ariel did not do well. I'm not sure what happened (out dated water conditioner, something weird in the aquarium gravel left over from my previous goldfish five years ago, some ick from the feeder fish tank which did have a few dead fish floating around in it...). Both of the fish perished in less than 24 hours. I was pretty bummed out and felt guilty but Lucy took it pretty well in stride. She did become convinced that all future pet fish would die in short order...

Anyway we gave it a second try. I stayed up late triple washing and then boiling all the gravel and then quadruple rinsing everything. Then the next day we all went to another pet store and picked out another three feeder goldfish and six neon tetras. Lucy kept asking if the fish were going to die for the first week and a half but now she sees that they have staying power. One of the neon tetras did kick the bucket during the first week but everyone else is doing great. We've been through one partial water change and about 1.5 months of living in the Brigham-Allen household. The girls are way into them and like to stand on stools and watch them swim around. Just a week ago Kathmandu finally discovered the fish and now she too enjoys watching them swim around. She likes to sit on the edge of the couch and watch them.

Of course Lucy stuck with the King Triton and Ariel names so the two gold colored fish are both Ariel and the one grey goldfish and the five remaining neon tetras are all King Tritons. Now that we have the aquarium environment under control, I think the next phase might be to get some snails like Tyler has.

Mahh Ming!!!

In an unfortunate turn of events, Lucy likes to copy Josie. This results in some pretty annoying behaviors (it is funny when your 1.5 year old puts fake food in her mouth. When your 3.5 year old does it, it's just kind of gross). One of the unexpected outcomes of this pattern is the formation of our own special language. With Lucy copying Josie and Josie struggling to communicate, we have generated some of our own Allenisms. Here is a short list

mah ming - bath time (it doesn't even sound that close...)
bopple - apple
eeeese - cheese
oooose - juice
oooe - shoe (you can see how it can get confusing around here - do you want a shoe or something to drink?)
o ert - yogurt (I thought she was saying "over there" for a long time - that really made her mad...)
and of course, Bert - lentils and rice

Meanwhile Lucy now uses words like random and actually in appropriate ways in long sentences but is still a bit confused by the transition between today and tomorrow (she prefers to just use the generic, "this day").

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy to have a job, but what is it that I do again?

It is beautiful where I work. You should come see it! A green island in the sea of so.cal.

With the recent economic conditions and the latest jobless report (600,000 more unemployed in January), I am feeling pretty darn happy to have a job, let alone one that I don't dread going to every morning and that actually pays a living wage. Despite that general job satisfaction, I have been suffering some job related angst recently.

Due to a series of side projects, acting assignments, and overly enthusiastic volunteering escapades, my job/career/time at work has recently lost focus. A single day might contain a consultation on weed killing, advising one or two graduate students about study design, writing an outreach plan, drafting a timeline for implementing the design of the new gillette ranch visitor center exhibits, and talking to a french guy about 900 kids singing songs about trees. I frequently find myself wondering, "what is it that I do again? And beyond that, what is it that I want to do / might be trained to do / might have a future in/?"

Can I get a job as a person within the national park service who has no supervisor (no offense to my current supervisor but who really wants a supervisor anyway?), gets to meddle whereever they want, and is generally called in for a short-time period to get shit done? You can call me the fixer...

Bring On the Dog Paddle

Week old news flash - with the aid of a newly purchased (but slightly used - from the thrift store of course) floaty swimsuit, Lucy can now dog paddle. We've been taking the girls to the swimming pool at the YMCA most Sundays. Lucy loves it but mainly hangs out on the entry ramp jumping up and down and splashing. Josie spends her time jumping into the pool from the side, getting shoved back and forth through the water between Mitch and I.

Last Sunday Lucy had a major breakthrough when she started, all on her own, dog paddling!! By the end of our hour long swim session she dog paddled all the way across the pool by herself (with only a few rest breaks clinging to the side of the pool).

You go girl.