amycooper: (Default)
2017-09-16 07:20 pm

(no subject)

Finn had a birthday party today. Finn wanted science experiments, so I led 8 6-7 year olds in making a volcano, making oil-water glitter bottles, making slime (also with glitter) doing the coke + mentos thing, and exploding a plastic bag (using vinegar and baking soda). It went surprisinlg well. The kids all got lab goggles ($10 for 10 on amazon and they were the real deal) and got to take home the slime and oil-water bottles instead of traditional handouts.

I am exhausted!

We picked a puffball to eat yesterday and had it breaded and fried. I am using some of the remains in stuffed patty pan squash tonight (yes, I am actually cooking for once!)
amycooper: (Default)
2017-09-03 07:35 am

(no subject)

 So at work everyone got a bonus in our last paycheck.  We hadn't seen raises in a long time and saw our benefits slashed (including no retirement contributions) so it wasn't much compared to that, but it was something at least.  Full time got $600 and part time got $300 if they worked a 1,000 hours in the previous year.  When they came, our part time guy received nothing.  Now, 1,000 hours over a year comes out to just over 19 hours a week.  He works 28 hours a week.  So I called HR.  Keep in mind this is right after talking to a librarian whose office is next to mine.

I told them Part Timer didn't receive a bonus.  They said he didn't qualify-he didn't have enough hours.  I explained the hours he worked for us and asked if they could show me what showed them he didn't qualify.  She said the report they ran was on another person's desk and that she was out for lunch.  I asked her to let that person know I wanted to talk to her about this after she came back from lunch.

Directly after that, two other things landed on my desk that required me to talk to the Dean, sooner more than later.  So I hurried off to her office to find she had some time to chat.  I included the Part Timer's bonus while I was there.  She called HR and it was immediately discovered that yes he did qualify, was somehow skipped and they'll put the bonus in his next check.

All good, right?

Not exactly.

I received a message shortly afterwards from the HR director to meet with her.  I came and she said that my previous phone call to the other HR person was rude and bullying-out of line and unprofessional.  I started to defend myself but she was like: no, it was and you must email her an apology.  She was unwilling to listen to my side.  I quickly realized that I would get no where defending myself so did as asked.  But I was really confused how anyone could get that impression.  I've been bullied and worked in a library were it was commonplace.  I strive very much to never be that person.  I asked the librarian next to my office and she agreed that my tone or language never went there.

But on the way home I
 remember that I was warned early on in my career to be careful with HR-that the director has been known to retaliate from slights perceived and otherwise.  The previous administration was largely like that and the HR director is one of the last hold outs.  I guess by going to the Dean/VP of administration I went over her head and that's a slight.

I'm just...I've worked a 50+ hour week last week.  I've worked weekends and evenings.  Hell, I'm going in today from 2-10.  I'm unsure, with the craziness of the start of the semester, when I'll get to take that time off.  And then I get that at the end of the week.

I've been ambivalent at best about staying here this last year.  I guess this just really proves I've got to go.  I'm just not sure what I want to do next, you know?  I'm pretty sure I don't want to work at a big academic library again, though I know there will be some openings at really big nearby institution.  I just got my public librarian certificate so that's an option.  We also own 10.5 acres of land zoned agricultural/residential and my husband and I had already talked about starting a market garden.  That would be quite the jump, but if I can make it work we'd be able to cut down on daycare costs a little (I'd still send Amelia in while she's young, but she'd be able to stop much, much sooner).  My husband's new job pays a lot more than his old one though, so that'll cushion us if I did it.

I just don't know what to do next.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-30 10:11 am

(no subject)

My husband, the kids, and I took part of an event that brought new Americans out fishing, taught them to fish, and gave them all fishing poles and gear to keep. They were all Somali and fishing and eating fish is big in their culture, but they haven't used poles before. It was a fun event and I feel like I got as much out of it as they did (and I didn't even fish!) Everyone was having so much fun they needed to call them in three times for lunch!

The older guys were familar with fish but the boy obviously never got a chance and were hesitant to touch the fish. Everyone was a bit weirded out by putting worms on a hook. But many, many fish were caught. :D
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-29 10:34 am

Rocky Start to the Semester

So we lost two clerks over the summer.  So we interviewed and filled both positions.  One started yesterday, the other will Saturday.  They're the late night/weekend hours.  Then one of our librarians resigned for a higher paying job in Maryland a week before the semester started.  She also worked night/Sunday shifts.  So now I'm working nights and training the new night time clerk.  Another librarian and I have split the weekends.  Furthermore, the semester started and meetings are being scheduled so I have to also come in normal hours.  Plus a large accreditation self-study landed on my desk right before the semester started.  And I had my yearly review and I...


I've decided I'm taking a me vacation later September.  My husband gets away every three months or so for a weekend, often at his friend's camp or to do something or another.  And he's been telling me I should for years and while I
 don't disagree, I really don't have a thing I want to do.  In fact, I'm too tired/overworked to want to do a thing.  

But I've made the bold new decision to do a mini-getaway for myself where I
 won't be doing a damn thing except read. I think I'll get a B&B a 30-45 minutes away from home and bring a couple of books and some comf pajamas and read and eat a nice dinner.  Maybe get a massage, maybe.  That's it.

Cuz I need it.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-29 09:56 am

(no subject)

 I had meant to post this sooner, but it's been a crazy busy week.  Rab-Rab,Finn's stuffed bunny, had her babies.  Finn was beyond thrilled and carried them around everywhere (with Rab-Rab of course) for days.  He had this slow dawning awe when he found them, it was so cute.  I'm going to miss the days when he believe these kinds of things. 

We were under a tornado warning when he found them, so we were a bit too busy assuring everyone was safe and didn't get any pictures.  And we had to quickly rush him off (with his handful of stuffed bunnies) so we didn't have as much time to linger over the whole thing, but on the brightside, it took his mind off of the tornado warning.  (We had a number of funnel clouds spotted on radar but no touchdowns so everything was just fine, if a bit nerve-wracking.  Given personal experience, we do not take tornadoes lightly in my family.)
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-19 08:46 pm

I have successfully convinced my son his stuffed rabbit is pregnant

It was easy.  I never said she was, I just mentioned a couple of days ago that she felt a little heavier.  Finnegan, who is a bit bummed that we're not having any more babies, decide that he thought Rab-Rab was as well.  Rab-Rab, I should explain, is the stuffed animal he always sleeps with and, until he started school, brought with him everywhere.  (Rab still sometimes joins him at the summer program he's in.)  Anyway, Finn decided Rab must be pregnant.

On Tuesday the three really small plush bunnies I ordered in the mail should be arriving, in case you're wondering about the due date.

Finn will be turning seven soon and the days in which he'd believe this kind of thing are quickly diminishing. 
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-18 08:29 pm

(no subject)

 You know, as I do this whole clean and purge thing, decluttering, whatever, I'm coming to a bit of a realization.  I really don't feel like I belong in this house.  

First off, I'm the only clean one.  I grew up in a family of obsessive cleaners.  I'm not anywhere to their level, but I prefer things much less cluttered.  My husband grew up in a family of hoarders.  Really honest to God hoarders.  So...shit's everywhere and he doesn't see it, but I do.  Half finished house projects from three years ago?  Material's still in the hallway.  He has a fit if I try cleaning up any of his stuff too, because he remembers where he puts everything and gets upset if it moved.  Finn's only six, but he's pretty much the same.  He has a fit if I throw away his old tooth brushes.

I don't have space for me.  This has gotten a slight better after I had a melt down over this a year ago.  But my husband has the garage and the basement as workshops.  He cooks, so the kitchen's his zone (I've even been kicked out).  He has a desk by the stairs, which I will give him is not very private.  I've got...nothing.  I have no place to store things for my hobbies or my garden stuff. My computer was, until the meltdown, in the hallway.  Now it's in the office/storage with totes of Christmas stuff and his paintball stuff (which takes up a whole corner) and the kid's storage clothes and pieces of furniture.  It doesn't feel like my space, though it is more private than his desk.

But, and I think this might be the biggest factor, I have had little say in what comes into this house in terms of furniture and whatnot.  My husband's kinda cheap and keeps accepting whatever second hand, hand-me-downs offered.  There's a good number that comes from his family ("this has been in my family since the 30s!")  There's a number of chairs that could desparately use refinishing (and a few that he found at the dump that he actually refinished).  There's actually way more chairs than we actually need.  A couple are broken but he plans on fixing them eventually.  Even the one I'm sitting on right now is part of that group (and as uncomfortable as all hell.)  We have a couple of pieces from the previous house (that were left there when we moved in and took with us).  A used couch from some friends.  A pair of unmatching side tables for the bed that a friend picked up at a garage sale and gave to us so I guess their ours for life now.  Don't get me wrong, a couple of pieces are nice; the dining room table from his mom, the glider our friend refinished; I just kind of wish I got more say in what we have and the ability to make at least a couple decisions on getting rid of stuff (which my husband HATES to do).  

Even are garden is planned largely by my husband.  Or rather, I do plan what we plant in where, but he insists we just keep tilling what was once a lawn with thick heavy sod and plant directly in and we're always losing to the grass.  I think we should have raised beds.  In fact, his friends, his father, and my father have argued for raised beds.  Everyone with gardening experience has said raised beds (and he didn't grow up gardening, I did).  But, here we are with plants growing out of a years growth of new lawn because all those roots just don't die when you till.  Ideally I'd love to do something more like a potager's garden, but that's never going to happen.  
amycooper: (Default)
2017-08-14 09:44 am

(no subject)

 I'm just...I'm just so disgusted with things right now.  With Trump's handling of North Korea.  With the violence in Virginia.  

amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-27 10:34 am

The Power of Pink

The library has a stash of tools. We have purchased these tools with our own funds to do the various smaller projects that come up in the library.  Over time, whenever maintenance has come to the library to do projects, they've found our tools, used our tools, and failed to return our tools.  About six months ago we needed something (a screwdriver, a hammer, I forget what) just to discover we had barely anything left.

We needed to buy more tools, but loathed to buy more just to have it disappear on us again.  That's when one of the librarians came up with a brilliant idea: buy the pinkest of pink toolbox cases.  And we did.  Everything is that shockingly bubble gum pink.  Not only do we think this might repel our male staffed maintenance crews, but if they do take something, it'll be easy to identify.  "Anyone see a pink hammer?  If so, please send it back to the library."

In six months we have yet to lose a thing.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-20 09:00 am

And since I'm posting again...


When the Gospel of Minimalism Collides With Daily Life

Some of you of you might remember my great ongoing downsizing/minimizing project.  And while I do think minimizing has value, it only does to a point.  Just like having too much stuff and buying just to buy is one extreme in the wrong direction, I feel like a lot of the minimizing blogs out there take it to the other, equally impractical or even harmful extreme.

"Throw out all your pens and keep only one!"  Yeah, but that's really wasteful and assumes you're in the financial situation that you could go out and buy yourself one pen every time you run out of ink. 

"Get rid of all your kid's toys!  They're have more fun playing with wooden spoons and thinks you have around the house." Trust me, they won't.  Plus randomly throwing away all a kid's possessions is more than a little traumatic (and you can explain minimalism all you want, from the kid's pov it's random).

Like most things, it's a balance.  Amelia had a birthday party recently (can you believe she's 2?) and got a shitload of toys.  This was followed by me donating a large bag full of toys she seldom or never plays with anymore.  I need to do the same for Finn soon (especially with his birthday coming up).  In general we do own too many things and I do want to downsize what we own, but to a sane level.  Because the truth is, this is awfully hard to live in:

amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-20 08:53 am

Oh! Also...

I have received my public librarian certificate!  I'm not certain yet if that's what I'd like to go into, but it does open up options.  Pay is stagnant at my new job, benefits aren't anything special and, more importantly, they've been making zero contributions to retirement for a year now and it was low before that.

I like the people here.  It's a pleasant, fairly flexible place to work.  They bill themselves, correctly, as child friendly.  But I've been feeling kinda stagnant here.  My indecision continues about staying or going but I'm trying to keep options open.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-20 08:45 am

(no subject)

 I went on vacation, well more like staycation, with my mom a week ago.  It was fun, frustrating, exhausting and pretty much everything else that comes out of vacation with my mother.  She came up with my niece and two nephews and the kids all had a blast.  She rented a house by the lake and Finn abandoned us for the week to sleep over with his cousins.  My mom had us on the go from bright and early in the morning till well into the evening.  It think were all still recovering.

The Boy (aka my husband, not my son) started his new job three weeks back and it's working out very well for him.  They don't pay or have benefits kick in until you've been working there for 40 days, so we're riding on my pay and savings until then and on my benefits alone as well, but after that, his job's benefits are better than either mine or his previous job and he'll get paid more so that's good.  We are in a position we can absorb the wait time, but I wonder about those that couldn't.  I mean, we certainly could not earlier in our careers.

My garden's growing.  I might be able to harvest peas, but haven't really had much chance to get out there in the last couple of days.  The person that opens the library has been out, so I've been coming in early, then getting the kids fed and driving them to track in the evening.  Tomorrow I'm taking a half day to take my son to the eye doctor's so I'm hoping to get a chance to go out there soon

amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-05 07:00 pm

(no subject)

My husband started his new job today. It seemed to go well! I'm hoping this works out well for him. Twice he had changed jobs to follow me and both times found himself in place that made him pretty unhappy. He deserves a place that'll make him haply (as much as work can).

Finn and Amelia are sick. Ish. I think they'll both be well enough to go to daycare/summer program tomorrow. They both have sore throats and Finn had a fever last night. They are both doing better this evening and actually ate dinner (solid food as opposed to the endless juice pops they had today).

I've had a lot of angst over my hair lately. I finally found a cut (with bangs!) that I like and I'm getting highlights put in Friday.

We have black raspberries in our yard. The garden is slowly growing. The broccoli is doing especially well.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-07-03 03:41 pm

That was an adventure

 Saturday we attempted to go to my baby brother's high school graduation party.  Note the word "attempted."

At 8:30am we piled the kids in the car and waved goodbye to our house.  It was raining pretty hard, but we drove out of it and had an easy drive...until about 2.5-3 hours later when the car suddenly lost all power and transmission in the middle of driving down a major highway.

Fortunately we managed to coast to the side without anyone crashing into us.  My husband couldn't get it to start and we ended up having to get a tow.  The tow truck got us off the highway and plopped us off in a nearby town.  My mother didn't live far from where we were, so she drove up with the intent to pick up the kids and I while my husband looked it over and got another tow (it was a major state highway so the insurance couldn't get a tow for us, only special state contractors could do it.  The insurance would pay to tow it home or to a mechanic close to home).  

After munching on some really su
b-quality food, my husband was able to start the car.  Now we were on our way back home...but slowly and avoiding any major highways.

So, the back roads home.  We ended up taking frequent stops,a first partly due to the kids, who had now spent a loooong amount of time in the car and because my husband thought it was electrical and if the car got hot enough it would do it again.  At one point the car smoked a bit, but it was probably because someone flicked a cigarette at it.  At least, my husband couldn't find the cause and the car was still running fine at that point.

Then the storms came.  Yup, we got a massive rain storm that dumped 2-3 inches of rain in about an hour.  With a few fairly impressive storms that came before it.  For the big storm we stopped in advanced to get dinner and sit it out.  Yes, dinner.  We had been driving that long.

When we got back on the road, there was flooding in spots, people's driveways were washed out into the road, a few roads were closed.  

When we finally made it home, it was 5:30pm.  We drove from 8:30am to 5:30pm and never got to see my brother or the rest of my family.  Our basement had an inch of water in it and half our driveway was washed out and around our house.  The pond still looks like it's full of chocolate milk and the creek flooded over our bridge and over part of our backyard.

But, I'm thankful: we made it home, no one smashed into us, our house weathered the storm well, none of our dumbass ducks floated off. 
amycooper: (Default)
2017-06-22 12:59 pm

(no subject)

 So one of the things I learned through 23 and Me is that I've got a condition that is kind of a little like Sickle Cell anemia except it isn't Sickle Cell anemia.  It's in the same class and within the same cluster of genes.  It effects the shape of my red blood cells.  It is largely asymptomatic, however and is likely to never really do anything other than impart a partial immunity to malaria so I'm counting that as a win.

I bought myself Zinnas for my desk at work.  They are very cheerful.  I could use the cheer because I've been feeling very insecure lately for no apparent reason.  I also bought myself chocolates. :)

For the first time in some time I've been able to get some reading done!  I'm reading American Nations, which is about how the U.S. is really formed out of eleven very distinct cultures with differing backgrounds and societal norms.  It is both interesting to read a not sugar-coated history of the founding of our nation and to see how those differences persist and inform our country's politics and culture wars today.  It is also nice to finally be reading something for myself.  :D

The garden is coming along.  We still have so much work to do, but we're getting there.

amycooper: (Default)
2017-06-13 10:03 pm

Amelia's 2!

Today's Amelia's birthday. As a present she got her toddler bed and Minnie Mouse bedding. Finn gave her sand toys and she and Finn got a sandbox earlier this week.

Anyway, I nust checked to see how she was doing on her first night in a "big girl bed."


I think the big girl bit wrnt straight to her head. She had taken her diaper off and put it "away" in the draw where I store the clean diapers. I opened the door to find her in the bed with her little nake tush in the air.

Thankfully she hadn't peed yet.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-06-08 09:00 am

23 and Me Results


This had both some things I predicted and some surprises.  I knew I had some strong Irish, English, and Italian ancestry.  My Grandma's side is half Croatian so that wasn't a surprise plus my Great Grandmother's German (though looking through the report it's likely she wasn't 100% ethnically German and just didn't know it...she never did know her father so that's not a shock.) 

Now, I suspected that I had some non-European ancestry in me I just didn't know from where.  Well, it looks like I have a little African (north and east).  Finnish and Iberian were a complete surprise.  Pretty neat.

There's another more detailed report that gives you a more detailed breakdown that adds trace amounts of the Middle East and West African to the mix.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-06-05 09:25 am

In other news...

My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary last Friday.  I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that I am old enough to be married to someone for that long!  We hired a babysitter and went out to eat, which was great.  I rarely get that kind of alone time with him nowadays, with work and the kids.  It was nice.  We had Thai since it was what we ate on our almost first date.

The garden is slowly getting planted.  We have a quarter acre and around here you can't trust there to be no frost until around June 1st.  Then it's a made rush to get everything in!  So far we've planted: sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, beans, peas, potatoes, arugula, and asparagus.  We also have the garlic that we planted in the fall.  We also have a large container herb garden planted.  We still have much to plant, but we're getting there...if only it would stop raining long enough for us to plant.  I have a small flower garden too.  Many of those plants are bulbs or perennials, but I planeted some other things including giant sunflowers (which I look forward to snacking on).  I want to plant more of those.  I also need to plant my calendula flowers (for beauty and tea) and buy some annuals.  I was thinking this for the border: 

They're miniature snapdragons from here.

In other news, the apple trees are doing well.  It looks like we should have a decent crop this year.  The grapes and wild raspberries are all loaded. :)

EBSCO vendors have been by and have been abnormally aggressive in their sales pitch, uncomfortably so in fact.  Just a warning to all you other librarians out there.  The two that swung by included one of the VPs so I thought that was the reason but my husband saw them a day later, without the VP, and they were still obnoxious.  Would you believe that their VP started lecturing me on how to get more money from my administration?  Unbelievable.  I've gotten several follow up calls.  They're only making me want to call up Proquest. :p

amycooper: (Default)
2017-06-05 08:57 am

(no subject)

 I had an odd "click" this morning about my father.  One that makes it a bit easier to make sense of him really.  

My father has always complained about his brother (my uncle) being gay by saying "He's handsome.  There were always a lot of girls at school that had crushes on him.  He could have had any of them.  I don't know why he went for men."  My dad literally could not understand why he preferred men when he had numerous women available to him.  It literally did not make sense to him.

My dad has also spent 20-30 years trying to get me to like Metallica.  Actively trying to get me to like Metallica.  When I was a kid and a teenager, he'd play it in the car during long rides (which we did often, as my parents are divorced and he'd drive us the hour ride back and forth every other week).  He still tells me Metallica is good and I should be listening to them.

Similarly, my whole life my father has been trying to make me like steak, particularly London Broil. (I will eat steak cooked a few select ways, but never liked it as just a slab of meat.  Stir-fried okay, but London Broil, yuck.)  He doesn't understand why I don't like it.  It's so good!

I know it sounds silly that it's only clicking now, but I think my father's completely incapable of understanding his tastes are subjective.  Everything has a right and wrong in his world, including what food's good, what music's good, what kind of sexual partners are preferred.  Then if I say I don't like Metallica, then clearly that makes me wrong, as wrong as I would be if I were to say 4+4=5.

Given that...other things start to fall into place with my father.  Like he has trouble understanding and empathizing with the limitations of others, particularly if he doesn't share those limitations.  My dumbass brother's still a dumbass, but it's becoming increasingly obvious he's got some mental health issues (possibly bipolar) and he has fibomalyasa.  My workaholic dad doesn't understand why he can't just buckle down, work 14 hour days, 6 days a week like my dad does and pull himself up by his boot straps.  The fact that he's currently holding down two part-time jobs and roughly holding his own steady, if improvished, existence at the moment is, to my father, more or less the same as him sitting around the house all day doing nothing but accepting handouts.  My father pretty much expects the same workaholic standards from every man (including one that he employees...he does own his own business).  You must understand that my own 9-5 type desk job isn't actual work.  He expects women to stay home and take care of the family...because that's how it works.  And while certainly there's more than a little sexism in that (and how he stresses that the father's the head of the household) in part it's because his world view is clearly right thus everything else must be wrong.

I'm not sure how that changes anything with my interactions with him, but it's certainly put things in more context.
amycooper: (Default)
2017-05-30 11:31 am

(no subject)

So let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there were two brothers living in NJ, fresh off the boat from Italy.  They met and fell in love with two first generation Italian-American sisters with whom they married.  The two couples moved into a duplex.  The resulting children were raised more or less by all four parents in the semi-chaotic Italian speaking quasi-duel households.  And for many years everyone was very happy.

Over time the children grew up and moved out, starting families of their own.  Then, one Christmas morning one of the brothers climbed the three steps of his nephew's family's house, rang the doorbell and dropped dead of a heart attack.  Then there were three.

Several more years passed.  The children of the original two couples began to enter adulthood.  The wife of the surviving brother began to feel some pain and discomfort but waited several months before going to the doctor.  When she finally did, it was too late.  He released her to go back home and die in the comfort of her own family.  During her last two weeks, she continuously made vague remarks against her husband to her sister and the children.

One month after her death, her husband remarried.

The affair and swift remarriage polarized the family.  The remaining sister hated her brother-in-law for his infidelity and refused to see or speak to him.  Moreover, she insisted no one else do as well.  Most of the family, scandalized, followed her lead, but there were still a few that were not willing to cut off the old man.  One of these few was a man named Vincent, who did not wish to disown his father, despite what he did to his mother.  So most of the rest of the family cut him out as well as his wife and children.

For decades this continued, long after the adulter, his new wife, and even the remaining sister had passed away.

Vincent is my grandfather.  

Recently my brother, D, stopped at the farmstand of  my grandfather's cousin.  Just because he was in the neighborhood and he felt why not buy some produce and see an arm of the family that I've never met?  My grandfather's cousin's son was there and the two struck up a conversation.  He told him how our grandfather was, that is, that he had Parkinson's and his heart wasn't so good and that he was turning 80.

A couple days later, my grandfather called him and talked with him for the first time in forty years.

Then, his brother called as well.

Then they called again on my grandfather's birthday.  There is no other present he could have gotten that could have compared to that.

My brother D marveled that to our mother this rift in the family was healing.  And she pointed out that he had been refusing to talk to our brother M for nearly five years and had done the same to me in the past six months.  And she pointed out that as wonderful as it is that they were talking again, our grandfather and his cousins and brother would never get those forty years back.  And she pointed out that not all family members lived for the reunion and that you just never know how long you have.

This weekend we celebrated my grandfather's birthday.  My brother and his wife both reached out and chatted with both my and our brother.  They let the kids play with each other and with their aunts and uncles.  They held my brother M's new baby and chatted pleasantly with his girlfriend.

Perhaps there is no present that could have beat a phone call from his cousins and brother, but to my grandfather, that was a close second.