Wednesday, September 30, 2009


At any given time, with work and the kids and Penny's diabetes and Alex's encroaching Two-ness and the diet and the working out and everything, my stress factor generally floats around a 4. (It's a scale of 1-10.)

Last night, I could feel PMS setting in. Stress factor: 6.

I've got a contract shutting down at work today, which means that I've got to put together a final delivery package -- and naturally the project manager has changed their mind multiple times on a) exactly when we're delivering it (it was originally going to be two weeks ago) and b) exactly what it's going to contain. Today is the drop-dead date, but as far as I know, they were still making changes to the software when I went home last night. Stress factor: 7.

We're also working on a major proposal at work. I hate working proposals at the best of times, but on top of contract closeouts, it's making me crazy. Luckily, I'm (so far) only in charge of getting peoples' resumes together. So far, one person has sent me an excellent resume, to which I made minor grammatical changes. One person sent me a sloppy resume that took me an hour to edit. Two people sent me one-paragraph career summaries instead of the two pages I asked for, and I had to send them back and ask for more. One person didn't even try -- he wrote back and said, "My resume from the last proposal is around on the LAN somewhere." And the other two people haven't responded at all. I've also been helping out one of the other people on the proposal team, which is great, except now the proposal coordinator (a person from corporate who has actually moved into our office for the duration) is getting us confused and sending stuff to me that is really meant for her. Stress factor: 6.

And yesterday I had to lay the smackdown on the Beast project manager and the local supporting manager because they were trying to poach my people for Beast tasks that -- between the contract close-out and the proposal on top of their other everyday work -- they don't have time for. Seriously, if there's an emergency with the person who usually does those tasks, of course we'll do our best to pitch in, but if they're just overloaded... Well, tough titties. So are we. Granted, this kind of protective snarling is my job as a manager, but I don't usually have to get quite as forceful as I did yesterday. And I suspect it's going to come with consequences for me, so I'm waiting for that shoe to drop. Stress factor: 5.

On the plus side, I did get to the gym last night, finally. Stress factor: -1.

Adding that all up... Yeah, I'm kind of overloaded. The effing daycare manager noticed that I was looking a little strained around the edges this morning. Possibly because I spent half my night with stress nightmares. I dreamed about the contract delivery package today. I dreamed that my big toe got moldy and fell off. I dreamed about the contract delivery package some more. I dreamed about emails that slid off the screen and wrapped around my skin and couldn't come off.

So I'm going to go get myself a big mug of coffee, and fix my breakfast, and then I'm going to go bang my head against the wall of spikes that is this delivery package.

And when I fill in my Weight Watchers plan for today, I think I might save myself a few extra points, so that tonight after the kids are in bed, I can have a couple of Drinks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I should be asleep, but I sat up to write this instead:

Hello menses my old friend
I'm feeling like a freak again
Because a feeling softly lurking
Left its seeds while I was surfing
And the delusions that were planted in my brain
Still remain
In the logic of PMS

(To the tune of Sounds of Silence, if you didn't place it.)

Hey, it beats the usual whining, right?


My schedule today looks like a finely crafted orchestration. No, seriously, check it out:

  • 11:00-12:30: Weekly meeting #1 for the Beast project. I'll have to leave it early, though, because...

  • 11:45-12:30: Chiropractor appointment. Luckily, my chiropractor is usually on-time and quick, because getting back to work at 12:30 gives me half an hour to eat lunch, check email, and do any piled-up work before...

  • 1:00-2:00: All-hands meeting. Nothing to worry about, a "state of the union" sort of deal. But it'll eat up every bit of that hour, and I'll have to sprint back to my desk for...

  • 2:00-3:00: Division-level meeting for QA and MA personnel. I'd assume this is going to be a snoozefest conference call during which I can catch up on other things, except the division is in the midst of a lot of reorg upheaval, so I expect I'll have to actually pay attention while they tell me what the new policies and standards are going to be. After that...

  • The 3-4 meeting that was on my schedule for today got moved, so I actually get an hour and a half break to do some work before...

  • 4:45: Need to leave work to pick Alex up from daycare, because Matt will be taking Penny to her swim lesson. I'll get home with Alex around...

  • 5:30: Get dinner started so that we can eat as soon as Matt and Penny get home, around 5:45. (Thank goodness for Leftovers Night.) We usually eat at around 6:15, but tonight is...

  • 6:30: Back-to-school night for Penny's school. Matt's going to this, and he'll need to walk out the door no later than 6:15. (If the weather's good, he might decide to just walk over -- it wouldn't take much longer than driving and trying to find a parking space.) While he's gone, I might get 15 minutes to check my email and twitter, and then I'll clean dinner dishes, make lunches for tomorrow, and...

  • 7:30-7:45: Put Alex in PJs, read him a book, and put him to bed. Which segues neatly into...

  • 7:45-8:15: Penny's cleanup/prep for bed/storytime. I expect Matt will get home somewhere in here. Normally, I'd take a shower after this, before we tuck her into bed at 8:30, but since my schedule doesn't have a space in it big enough for me to go to the gym, and thanks to some craptacular traffic, I missed going to the gym yesterday, too...

  • 8:30-10:00: Go to the gym. (45 minutes of driving, 45 minutes of working out.) When I get back...

  • 10:00-11:00: Take a shower, put on my PJs, and collapse on the couch to have a soda, check emails and twitter, and finally go to bed.

I admit it's not as tightly scheduled as it could be -- I have nothing before 11, and then I actually have a space big enough to eat lunch, and another one in the afternoon to get some work done.

But I have to say, it's a pretty impressively-packed day.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Sleepy. Didn't want to crawl out of my nice cozy nest this morning.

It was an okay weekend. Got to visit with my parents on Saturday, and that was nice. We went out to eat with them for dinner, and that was nice, too.

Matt took Penny to an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, but her biggest excitement was reserved for the glow stick she was given.

Sunday, we went to the grocery store and did the laundry, and I took a few more boxes of stuff to the thrift store. (Now we are out of boxes. I need to get some bags or something upstairs to pile old clothes in, because I'm only a few weeks away from having to purge my long-sleeved stuff.)

Matt took Penny to the library and the Cube while Alex took what turned out to be a 3-hour nap.

I'm not too thrilled to be back at work today, but I'm at least tentatively hopeful that it will not be another whole week of Mondays. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Week Of Mondays

KT has been saying all week that it's been a week of Mondays, over and over.

I pretty much have to agree.

Nothing really disastrous, but stack upon stack of niggling, picky, pointy little irritants.

I worked from home yesterday in an effort to get out from under, and it was a productive day, except that one job showed up that was bigger than I'd expected, and another job that I'd been waiting on didn't show up until the last minute, so I had to do a half-assed job at it to get it out in time, and I never did get to the one low-priority but potentially useful task that I'd been hoping working from home would let me get to. Like that.

And I'd wanted to write last night, but I couldn't settle into it. You'd think it would be easy to decide whether my mood leaned more toward writing dark horror or romantic fluff, but it really wasn't. I think -- on reflection -- that it was that I wasn't quite irritable enough to really enjoy the horror, but I was too tightly wound to relax into the fluff.

And then Matt's glasses broke, and since he's all but blind without them, that killed what little bit of concentration I'd managed to scrape together. I ended up doing some more clean-up and organization, moving files off my thumb drive and into my online repositories. It didn't feel as productive as actually writing would have, but it was better than nothing.

This weekend seriously needs to hit the Reset button on the week, though. I'm tired of Mondays.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Penny nudged my elbow about two seconds after the alarm went off this morning. "Mom! It's six! Time to get up!"

Oy. How long had she been awake, waiting?

It showed in her mood, too. She asked me whether it was warm or cold today, and got excessively grumpy with my, "about the same as yesterday" response. Then she burst into tears in the car when she realized she'd forgotten the hat she wanted to wear and I told her we weren't going back for it. If it wasn't a school day, I'd be predicting a nap after lunch. As it is, if she can't manage to pull it together this evening, she may be going to be early.

It's a foggy morning, and everything feels muffled and sleepy. Even Alex spent the whole ride to daycare quietly chewing on his blanket instead of offering up commentary on everything he sees.

I'd say it looks like a slow day at work, but the last time I said that, I was inundated with tasks. So I'll just say that my to-do list is not especially urgent, at the moment. Maybe I'll try to swing a work-from-home day tomorrow. Those are always, weirdly, both productive and relaxing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm here, and that's about all I can say for today.

Didn't want to get out of bed. Two of the four size M shirts I bought last week don't fit, even though I really could've sworn I tried them on in the store. Alex pitched a couple of fits just to see what he could get away with. Penny was in a whiny, clingy "no-school" mood. The enormous effing spiderweb that's blocking a quarter of the path up to the office door is still there, and was occupied this morning by its enormous effing spider, which made it necessary for me to go around the long way. The file my boss promised to send me before he went home last night is, of course, not yet in my possession. And the corporate network dragons finally found and blocked Mibbit, so I don't even have irc chat to look forward to.

Nothing too horrible, just lots of meh.

At least I've still got twitter.

And we had fun after dinner last night playing frisbee.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Calm Weekend

Quiet, calm, relaxing weekend.

We took the kids to the park for an hour or so on Saturday, just to get them out of the house for a while. I left the camera at home, and even left my phone and purse in the car. Not having anything to lug around with me made it much less of a pain to chase Alex all over, I must admit. I want a camera built into my head that I can control with subvocal commands, though, because he was so freaking cute on the swings and going down the slide.

After the park, we took the kids to La Tolteca for dinner -- thanks to various events, we haven't actually had a dinner out in quite a while, so that was nice, too. Alex got bored and squirmy before we were done, but all in all was pretty cool.

Sunday was even quieter. Aside from the grocery store run, we didn't leave the house at all. Alex read (well, had read to him) a gajillion books, and Penny played with Play-doh and various other crafts, and helped me assemble the soup we had for dinner.

I have to say that the new organization of the toys is working out pretty well -- after Penny cleans up at night, when I do my inspection, I do still sometimes find things that she's missed and forgotten to put away, but so far I haven't found anything put away in the wrong place.

Better still, Alex seems to be picking up the notion of putting things away -- he usually puts things more or less back where he got them if we ask him to. Yesterday, he was playing in the kitchen while Penny and I were making the soup, pulling tupperware containers out of their cabinet and bringing them to me. After he brought me about three, I said, "You're such a helper! Can you put them away now, please?"

And he said, "'Way! P'ease!" and nodded his torso (you'd think the kid's neck didn't work if he didn't tip his head back so eagerly to be tickled) and picked up a container. I'd have been happy if he'd just chucked it into the cabinet, really -- but he carefully stacked it on the other bowls against the side that were the same size! And then did the same thing with the other pieces. (No, I know better than to think it'll last very long, but I'm treasuring it while it lasts!)

Alex had a couple of episodes over the weekend where he decided he coveted some toy Penny was playing with and went into fits of screaming, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" Penny's amazingly patient with Alex -- she usually asks him for things rather than snatching them, and if he asks nicely for something she's got, she almost always surrenders it without complaint. (We do step in if he fixates on something she's actively playing with and is reluctant to give up. But she indulges him more often than not. We lavishly praise good sharing habits from either kid in a hope of encouraging them. So far, it seems to be working.) But we let Penny know that we'd rather she not give in to the Greedy Greebles. She tried her best to hint him along: "Alex, can you say please? Say please, Alex? Please?" but he just kept hollering, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" and dissolving into tears. Those episodes were swiftly followed with rest times, and I suspect tiredness was their main trigger. Still, I think we can see the shape of Two on the horizon.

Overall, I give the weekend a B+. Nothing thrilling or exciting, but lots of good, solid, everyday fun. Now, to hope for a calm, productive week.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Well, here it is Friday. It's been a pretty good week, in general. (Except at work, where three separate managers are dumping last-minute requests on my department, and then acting all shocked when I tell them that they're going to have to pay my staff overtime if they want on-time delivery. I'm proud of my people and the regularity with which they work miracles, but it drives me crazy that the other managers take them for granted like this. Unfortunately, there really isn't a good way to fix the problem.)

So, no partial day off for me today. Waaah. Oh, well. Maybe I can arrange to take a day in October sometime.

And the weekend beckons!

Most surprisingly, we have nothing planned for this weekend, or the next several weekends to come. (Though the first weekend of October is the Fall Festival, so we might go to that.) So I'm not really sure what we'll do with the weekend.

Which, honestly, is not a bad way to be coming at it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Working Vacation

I should have taken "before" and "after" pictures, I swear.

Matt and I spent Tuesday morning cleaning up the playroom. We sorted toys, threw out a bunch, set aside a bunch more to donate to the thrift store, and put everything into bins and baskets. I tackled the kids' stuff in the living room, too -- mostly Alex's tub o' toys and their bookshelf, which was a hideous mess.

Both kids seemed completely thrilled by the changes when they got home. Alex gleefully pulled a dozen toys off his shelves that he had forgotten he had to show them to me, and (I swear) worked his way straight through his entire collection of board books, reacquainting himself with old favorites and happily discovering new ones.

Penny was vocal in her appreciation of the change, and how neat and organized everything was. She's not even whining (so far) that we're making her put things back in their organized spots rather than just any-old-place when she cleans up. And for at least the next week or so, I'm doing inspections after her nightly clean-up, to make sure things are going where they belong. (I'm not penalizing her for putting things in the wrong places, for the time being, just having her correct it.) She's even getting involved, to a small extent -- she protested our having put her Batarangs in the dress-up box (even though that's where her Batman costume stuff is). Honestly, I don't care how her stuff is organized, as long as it stays organized and not in a huge jumble on the floor, so Matt helped her move all the Batarangs to their own separate bin, which is now the Batarang bin. Or possibly the Batman Gadgets bin, or something of that sort. Matt is intending to make labels for all the bins, but we didn't have batteries to fit the label maker he bought.

Then on Wednesday morning, we tackled the kids' rooms. Penny's room yielded a lot of stuff to go into storage or the thrift store, because her closet had been stuffed with stuff belonging to Matt and I (old magazines, my old stereo system, etc.) that we just hadn't gotten around to ditching yet, and a big box of old-favorite baby toys I'd been saving for Alex that are now pretty much superfluous, as he has more than enough of his own things. With the closet cleared out, we made it the new home for her stuffed animals that are too big to fit on shelves. (They're still in a big pile on the floor, but at least the pile is behind closed doors.)

Alex's room produced a lot of junk, too, but we didn't tackle his closet quite as hard, because he doesn't really need closet space just yet. Since he doesn't have free run of the stairs yet, all his toys are downstairs anyway, so Matt and I are happy to continue using his closet for our random junk. We'll figure out what to do with that clutter in another two or three years, when he's old enough to actually need his closet for his stuff. So the change in his room wasn't nearly as dramatic.

In both rooms, we sorted through all their clothes and packed up the things that are too small, and threw away things that are stained beyond use. I found out this past weekend that the thrift store is accepting kids' stuff again (they have to ship it up to their home office for lead testing, but at least they'll take it) so we gleefully dumped several boxes of outgrown clothes and more toys than we could shake a stick at on them.

We cleaned off the banister and the bookshelf in the upstairs hall, too -- being flat surfaces, they've both collected quite a detritus of stuff that doesn't belong there. We got the banister cleared off, but I was kind of running out of steam by the time we got to the bookshelf. There's still a bunch of old magazines there that should probably be sorted and most of them dumped into the recycling bin, when I get a chance. And some books that I don't need or want anymore and can take to the used bookstore.

Amazingly, that only took us up to lunchtime. So we knocked off cleaning at that point. We took a load of garbage to my office's dumpster (our own was already full to overflowing), took two boxes of books to the used bookstore (and picked up a handful of Ramona and Junie B. books for Penny) then went to Panera for lunch. After lunch, I dragged Matt with me to the Old Navy store to see if they had any fall stuff out. We were there entirely too long (but I came away with five shirts with long or three-quarter-length sleeves, so I have a minimum wardrobe for the fall), so we stopped at the bank to cash some checks, but didn't have time for me to get my allergy shots before heading back to pick Penny up from school.

So instead, after we got Penny, we relaxed around the house for a bit and then I took her with me to get my shots and pick Alex up from daycare, so Matt could get an hour of peace and calm.

So it was anything but a quiet day and a half off, but we got a lot done, and the house looks so much better, it's just incredible.

Now, we just need to make time to tackle our crap!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I had, actually, a really fantastic weekend.

Saturday, as I'd mentioned, I volunteered a few hours for the JDRF "Hope Floats" fundraiser at the Fresh Market. I had expected it to be somewhat hectic, which it was. I hadn't expected it to be fun, though.

One of my fellow volunteers worked for the Fresh Market; the other was the father of a diabetic. Both of them had brought their kids and friends, so there were six or so preteens hanging around the whole time I was there. They had far more energy than anyone else, but they were great kids. They begged for drinks and hot dogs, but didn't whine about being bored or having to put in this time as volunteers. They squabbled with each other over whose turn it was to get to make the floats, were more or less polite to adults, and they helped out with a will when things got busy. They were also unfailingly funny, even if sometimes unintentionally.

The dad had a sharp, sarcastic sense of humor that I enjoyed, and when Matt brought the kids up for a visit, he tried to talk Penny into some interest in an insulin pump. (No success, but I appreciate his trying.)

Though I have to say that my favorite donor was the man who walked up, dropped a check for $25 into our donations jar, then harassed the kids to make sure they put extra ice cream and plenty of root beer in his float. He was a hoot.

I was scheduled for two hours, and actually stayed for three. Surprisingly, my feet didn't give me any trouble -- they ached when I was done, but not horribly, and they were fine after I was able to sit for a while. My hips and back are still a little sore today from all the standing, though.

That night was our monthly D&D game with Jen and Brian and Braz, and that was lots of fun, too. We had tacos for dinner beforehand, and snacked on chips and salsa while we gamed. (Okay, my weigh-in this Wednesday might not be all that much fun...)

Sunday, mostly, we just sat around and relaxed. I did run a box of books out to the storage unit, and a couple of boxes of my old, too-big clothes up to the thrift store. (And learned that the thrift store is accepting childrens' things again -- they have to send them up to HQ to be tested for lead, but at least they have testing in place now! So now I can clean out the several boxes of outgrown kids' clothes from the storage unit, whoo!)

But other than that? Sat around the house on my behind and tried to imagine getting caught up on sleep.

This week will be slightly hectic -- lots of weird stuff going on at work, including an assortment of "this is going to go out soon but we won't be able to tell you exactly when until the day before" deliveries. And Matt's taking the week off from work, so I'm trying to fit in a day and a half to take off with him and help him organize the kids' junk a little. (That's not all he's doing with his vacation, but that's my top priority for the time I'm taking off.) Depending on how those last-minute deliveries fall, it currently looks like I'm taking tomorrow morning, and all day Wednesday. We'll see if it actually happens that way, but if it does, there may not be entries from me for a couple of days.

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kids Are Weird.

"Mommy, look!"

"Yes, I see."

"No, on your windshield!"

"Yes, I see it."

"No, there, on your windshield!"

"Yes, a bug, I see it."

"What kind of bug is it?"

"A dead one."

"But what kind?"

"I don't know."

"Maybe it's a fly."

"It's not a fly."

"Maybe a fly squished it."

"Unlikely, but sure, whatever."

"Maybe it's a mosquito."

"Um, maybe."

(Time passes...)

"Say bye-bye, bug!"

"Mom, no!"

"...Hon, it was raining. I had to turn on the wipers."

"But you wiped off the bug!"

"I had to see the road, Penny."

"But I liked that bug! It was cute!"

"...Life is like that sometimes, hon."

"You made me want to cry."

(Time passes...)

"Why did you have to wipe off the bug?"

"Because it was raining and I need to be able to see the road when I'm driving. I'm sorry it wiped off the bug, too, but that happens when things are outside the car -- they get wiped away, or blown away, or washed away. If you want to keep things, you need to keep them inside."

"Look! It's still there, on the wipers!"

"Huh. So it is."

"Quick! Put it in my pocket so I can keep it safe!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sign Me Up!

For what are probably obvious reasons, I've gotten on the local JDRF chapter's mailing list. I'm still rather waffling about whether to do the walk again this fall -- there's not a lot of enthusiasm in the house for either the fundraising or the walking portions of it.

But they're holding another fundraiser this weekend, selling hot dogs and cookies and root beer floats outside the Fresh Markets (in Williamsburg and on the Southside!) and they emailed my yesterday to see if I would volunteer to take a shift. They're only two-hour shifts, so I signed up for one on Saturday afternoon. I'm actually quite looking forward to it. I might take Penny with me, if she wants to go, and when my shift is done, I'm right there at the Fresh Market and can pick up the stuff I need for the tacos we're having for dinner that night. Good planning, me!

Anyway, if you're local to Williamsburg, come on by the Fresh Market between 1 and 3 on Saturday, have a float or a 'dog, and say hi!

I'm sort of hoping the chapter organizer will be there. I'd love to talk to her about not just organizing fundraisers, but also support activities, on our side of the Peninsula. A play-date at Newport News Park for families with diabetic kids. A database of potential babysitters who are trained in the nuances of diabetic care. That kind of thing. The chapter has some of this stuff on the Southside (which is a denser citypack, and also where the children's hospital is) but it's almost impossible to get to from -- say -- Williamsburg.

I'm also thinking of signing up for their mentoring program, or at least finding out what's involved in being a mentor. The first couple of weeks were a nightmare, and I would have loved to have been able to just talk to someone else who'd been through it, who could talk me through some of the panic and answer some of my zillions of questions and show me that life would ever attain some semblance of normality. And I think being able to help someone else who's struggling with that adjustment might feel more "worthy", to me, than simply raising money.

Just a few thoughts for my morning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Short and Sweet

Okay, I have no idea what the hell is chewing up so much of my network's bandwidth, but it's taking me like fifteen minutes just to load up blogger. (At a guess, it's the mandatory "upgrade" to Internet Explorer 7 that everyone has put off until the last possible minute, which means my connection will be all but worthless until the day after tomorrow.) So I'm going to email this entry in, and I apologize if it gets formatted weird or something, until I can actually get in to fix it.

And work just jumped up in my face and waved a bunch of red flags around, so even this is going to be short and sweet.

Penny had a great first day in first grade.  She came home with a bunch of forms for us to fill out (of course) and told Matt, "You have homework! And I won't do the special cheer until you finish it!" Matt saved a few lines of the "homework" for me to do so we could both witness the "special cheer", which took her a few minutes to remember and went, "Rock! Paper! Scissors! Youuuuuu. ROCK!" (With appropriate hand motions, of course.) It was very cute.

She did insist on my walking her to class today, but didn't try to cling once we got there. I figure I'll probably walk her back for the first week, then start making my farewells at the front lobby. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Saturday, we went to John and Sam's house to celebrate John's birthday, and Mom's, and a friend of John's whose birthday is also in September. Sam's parents and her sister Kim and Kim's husband were there, too, since Sam's parents had come to town last weekend for John's art exhibition. It was crowded, but it worked out pretty well, and we had a great time. There was cake, and lots of noise, and playing outside with the neighbor's dog, and lots of good food.

And then came my Weekend Of Fun. (That was sarcasm.)

It started, as these things often do, with the internet.

"Huhn," Matt said Sunday morning, scrolling through his usual slurry of newsfeeds. "The Snow Leopard upgrade disc is actually the whole thing. It says in this article that it'll work to upgrade any prior OS, or even on a completely blank disk."

"Huhn," I said. "So, can I borrow your Snow Leopard disk, please?"

One reboot later, I was looking at the install screen and clicking on choices. English, yes. American English, yes. The hard drive, yes. Yes, yes, yes... Go! It started installing, and I walked away to fix Penny's lunch.

A bit later, Matt came into the kitchen. "It says there's some problems and needs to run the repair," he said.

Eh, bad sectors happen. "Go ahead and tell it to go," I said.

A few minutes later, Matt came back into the kitchen. "It, um, didn't work," he said.

Well, dang. No Snow Leopard for me, I guess. I went out to look at the computer. There was an awful lot of text detailing the problems, and some of it was in red. "Irreparable. Please back up your hard drive as soon as possible, then reformat and re-install."

Well, crap.

"I've got a copy of DiskWarrior," Matt said. I let him run it while I finished my lunch and gave Penny her shot.

It didn't work, either, though it generated even more text. Words like "disk malfunction" and "will most likely worsen" jumped out at me. I started cussing and whining at my twitter followers.

Just out of curiosity, I attempted a reboot without a CD in the drive anyway. The computer churned for four or five minutes, then turned itself off. I ran DiskWarrior again, and got the same result. Interestingly, though the text suggested a hardware malfunction, when I ran the hardware diagnostics, I got an all-clear.

Okay. First step: backup my stuff. Luckily, all the stuff that would kill me to lose (like my writing and my very favorite pictures) is all in online repositories like Google Sites and Flickr, but I still have a buncha gigs of music and a buncha gigs of movies and a buncha gigs of less-beloved pictures that I would be pretty pissed to lose. Matt had a spare hard drive I could use (he's going to upgrade his main hard drive with it eventually) but not an enclosure to fit it to let it function as an external drive.

Braz has a whole bunch of empty enclosures, though, so he volunteered to loan me one. We packed up the kids and went over to Braz's, and spent a couple of hours hanging out and playing Rock Band, which was fun and helped de-stress me a bit. I took a cute picture with my iPhone of Alex playing drums.

Then we went home, and I hooked up the hard drive to my computer, and after some wiggling (the USB cable didn't want to stay plugged in) started backing up my stuff, starting with the essentials.

USB is slow. I didn't finish backing everything up until Monday morning. My plan had been to wait until the backup was complete, then wait until Alex was down for a nap, and call Apple to make sure I'm still covered with the warranty plan and if they'd set me up to ship the computer back to them for repairs. In the meantime, I got set up to do my computing on our guest computer, figuring that I'd be without the laptop for at least four or five days.

But once the backup had finished, I figured I wasn't losing anything if I played around with it myself. After all, everything was backed up. Why not reformat and reinstall?

So I did, and -- somewhat to my surprise -- it worked. Then I remembered that I still have a firewire cable left over from when I had a firewire iPod, and putting my backed-up files back on the hard drive went much faster. And I spent the rest of Monday fiddling around with it and getting all my applications and settings back where I wanted them. (Including one frustrating problem with iPhoto that finally resolved into not having copied all the actual pictures over that I thought I had, even though the thumbnails were still there. You'd think there would be a cue in the program to tell you when a picture is missing! It would have saved me a few hours of hair-pulling.)

Anyway, it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise -- it cleared my hard drive of a lot of cruft programs that I haven't used in years and years, and got me a nice chunk of hard drive space back.

Now, whether I still have a mechanical failure that's going to cause my hard drive to continue to degrade over the next however long, I'm not sure, so I'll probably be investing in a nice big external hard drive in the near future to use to back everything up.

So that was my Labor Day, pretty much. Whee.

But this morning was Penny's first day of first grade, and that was much happier. Yay! She didn't seem nervous at all, mostly just excited. She found her way to the classroom without any trouble, and after she'd gotten settled at her desk and I'd taken a couple of pictures, gave me hugs and kisses (but didn't try to drag it out, like she sometimes does) and set to work on her first first-grade assignment.

That's my girl.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Beach Day

Whoops; I never did get around to posting anything yesterday.

But my day off was really very good. Penny and I took Alex to school, then went home to eat breakfast and get ready for our day. It was a little chilly to go swimming, but when I offered to take her somewhere else instead, Penny insisted that she wanted to go to the beach.

So we did. Yorktown Beach is situated right at the point where the York River opens up into the Chesapeake Bay -- by no means is it an ocean beach, but the water is salty and it's a really pretty spot. And there was enough wind yesterday for there to be some small waves (which as far as Penny was concerned were big waves). She absolutely loved it.

We walked along the beach and let the water swirl around our ankles. Penny got hypnotized by the water and nearly lost her balance a couple of times, but eventually she got the hang of it. She picked up bits of seashell, and poked dubiously at the seaweed. She made footprints and gasped with awe when the waves washed them away, and then did it again. She dug her toes into the sand and giggled when the water pushed more sand on them. She spotted my footsteps and tried to walk in them. She threw bits of rock and shell and handfuls of sand into the waves.

As if the cool air and strong breeze hadn't been enough to dissuade me from swimming, we found three jellyfish bodies washed up on the shore in the space of about ten minutes. And I saw several in the water, though at least they were individuals and not a swarm.

Did you know that dead jellyfish can't sting you? I talked Penny into touching one of the washed-up bodies so she could see exactly why they're called jellyfish. (Though more than jelly, they feel like those gel window-clings.) Once she got over the initial ick-factor, she because entranced by them. One of the ones we found was huge -- easily eight or ten inches in diameter, and too heavy for the little waves to wash away. Penny kept coming back to it, and after about an hour was referring to it as "my jellyfish friend". When the waves began to get too close (the tide was coming in) she actually dragged it a little further away from them to "rescue" it. She picked up a smaller jellyfish and put it in a bucket to take home "so Daddy can see a jellyfish!" and found a few little broken-off pieces that she had enormous fun playing with. (They stick to stuff like those window gels, too.)

She waded in up to her knees (clinging tightly to my hand -- we both got splashed nearly up to our waists) and retreated to dryer sand for other fun. She made a sand angel (which is just like a snow angel, but not as cold) and buried her arm in the sand and marveled at how hard it was to lift it straight back out. She buried her feet and ankles, and then various of my limbs, as well.

We ate a picnic lunch and watched the boats on the river, including a trio of Coast Guard vessels (and one helicopter), and a gorgeous 3-mast ship -- the Yorktown Alliance -- practicing maneuvers for some show or other.

We were there for two, maybe two and a half hours, and if we'd been able to swim, it probably would have gone longer. Though it's possible that two hours was just long enough, since I came home with a faint burn on my chest and neck and one arm. (I spent most of the morning facing north, I guess -- the other arm doesn't even have a tan line. And my legs are still as white as paper. Stupid legs.)

After we left the beach, we dropped by my folks' place to visit with my mom (Dad wasn't home) for a while, and then we went back home. Penny watched some TV and worked on an art project while I sorted the gajillion pictures I'd taken.

All in all, it was a fantastic, relaxing day, and I'm glad I finally did it. Next summer, I'll try to remember to do it earlier, when we might actually be able to get in the water.

And then yesterday morning, her school had its Open House so students could meet their teachers and find their classrooms (which is why I didn't get to work in time to post all this yesterday). And before that, we had the annual meeting to review and renew her medical plan and to fill her teacher in on what she needs to know.

Penny was surprisingly excited about everything. She took to her new teacher right away, and was excited about all the stuff she saw in the classroom, and thrilled to recognize a few names of other students. For a kid who's been clingy in the extreme and terrified of even tiny changes to her surroundings, it's nice to see her finally showing some enthusiasm. So hopefully our first-day-of-school dropoff will go well, next week.

Our plans for the long weekend are pretty simple. Saturday we're going over to John and Sam's to celebrate birthdays (John's and Mom's and a friend of John and Sam's). And that's pretty much it for plans. I'm sure we'll get out of the house each day (Alex, like Penny before him, does better if he get a Trip every day, though he's a little calmer about it than Penny was) but probably just running errands and such.

And then Tuesday is back to school!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mother of the Year

The highlight of my morning? Cussing in front of half-a-dozen toddlers. Not the F-bomb, at least, but a nice shrapnel spray of dammit.

I won't say it was entirely without cause. On top of the sore throat I'm nursing for the second day in a row and the late start we got (which I admit was entirely my fault), I'm wearing heels today, and I had Alex in one arm, and was precariously clinging to a double-pack of diapers, and Penny -- who'd been helping me carry the extra-large package of wipes -- frantically said they were slipping out of her grasp just as we reached the daycare door, so I took them from her and now I'm trying to balance 25 pounds of boy plus probably ten pounds of slippery plastic packages that are bigger than the boy and punch the door code into the lock and Alex is leaning and wiggling because he wants to put , and everything is collapsing just as I get the door open and my foot wedged in it, and that's the moment that Penny decided to turn around and start a conversation with a friend of hers in the parking lot.

So I burst out with, "Penny, get in here, dammit!" just as the daycare director was coming out of the two-year-old room, which is right by the front door.

Nice one, Liz.

And I get to wrap this up quickly, because I've just been informed that one of my people spent all yesterday twiddling her thumbs and is bidding fair to spend the rest of the week at it, too.

Are we sure today isn't Monday?