Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Snuffle

My allergies have been hitting hard for the last couple of days. Despite the drugs, I'm sniffly and my throat is sore and my hearing is haphazard at best. Yay, spring.

But the weather promises to be absolutely beautiful and perfect for the next four or five days, carrying us straight through Easter, so that's a bonus.

And my schedule is surprisingly quiet today, as well, which gives me some vague hope that I might be able to buckle down and do some writing.

Though it doesn't bode well for my writing that I'm apparently too scatterbrained this morning to pull together a blog entry.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No Good

The software delivery got done with half an hour to spare, then I picked Penny up and took her down to our Congressman's office for the JDRF meeting. Luckily, the organizer had scrounged up a few more families to attend, so it wasn't just me. There were, in fact, three diabetic teenagers and a parent or two apiece, a couple of older women (who were either diabetic or had diabetic children not with them), and a diabetic woman with two small children. We talked to Representative Wittman about why we'd like him to support bill HR 3668 and its renewal for the Special Diabetes Program funding (I gave him a printout of this page from the JDRF website, which summarizes its advantages for families living with diabetes). He was political (which is to say he at least appeared to be listening, and when he talked, he leaned on buzzwords like "cost" and "savings" until we flat-out told him that cost was actually not our highest priority, but then he managed to adapt) but that wasn't entirely unexpected. He promised to read over the bill and let us know whether he'd support it within the next couple of days. I'll be interested to see what he says.

While we were waiting, one of the teenagers came over to talk to Penny and they seemed to really hit it off, so after the meeting I asked if she ever babysat, and she said she does, so I got her phone number -- it'd be good to have some options for when my family isn't available!

Of course, leaving early to attend that meeting means I missed going to the gym yesterday. And then I went to Rock Band last night, which was lots of fun, except that it means I missed my shower. And also, I ate a ridiculous amount of junk food while I was there. And this morning, I was just getting ready to do my usual morning workout when a) the cat peed on the rug and I had to clean it up, and then b) Penny did her blood sugar check and was low, so I had to get breakfast for her right away, and I didn't get that workout in, either. So I'm feeling kind of bloated and sluggish and totally not looking forward to my weekly weigh-in tomorrow.

Then I got to work this morning to discover my laptop was spontaneously rebooting itself, over and over. I did eventually undock it, shut it completely down, let it rest, and then re-dock and reboot it, and it came up, but the whole thing has made me vaguely nervous. I do believe I'll be working off the LAN for the next day or so, just in case. (I save everything important to the LAN anyway, but it's slow, so I tend to work off my hard drive and then copy stuff out to the LAN periodically.)

I'm trying to decide how to handle yesterday's missed gym session. Just write it off as a "life happens" event, or rearrange the week's usual appointments and sessions so I still get in my 3 visits? In light of last night's junk food orgy, I should probably rearrange to get my 3 visits in, but I'm feeling lethargic... Which is a pretty good reason to kick myself in the behind and get to the gym, I guess. And Wednesday night is Book Club...  Yeah, I should make an effort to get that gym session in.

And my allergies are acting up because I forgot to take my meds yesterday. I am an idiot. It is spring, and every plant within a 100-mile radius of me is enthusiastically pollinating. Do not forget to take the damn meds, idiot.

It's going to get better from here, right?

Monday, March 29, 2010


Have to make this super-fast, as today is going to be crazy, even if the rest of the week promises to be kind of slow.

Pretty good weekend, my mom and I took Penny shopping for Easter clothes and she bought the most beautiful dress that I can't wait to take pictures of her in. It'll also be nice for the two weddings we're attending this summer, so that's a bonus.

Today I've got a software delivery to manage, the usual Monday meetings, and I'm leaving early to go to a meeting with my Congressman to ask him to support legislation which provides funding for diabetes research. And I got an email last night from the woman organizing the meeting telling me that it was already going to be a smallish meeting, with only three families attending... and both of the other two families have dropped out. So unless they find someone else today, it's just me! Whee!

So I've got a lot to do this morning, and I need to get on with it. More later, hopefully.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I had a couple of ideas for sequels to Of One Mind, the story I sold to Torquere Press. (Or, more precisely, additional stories set in the same world, since they were both standalone plots rather than true sequels.) So I started working on the one that intrigued me the most, and just to tie it to the first story, I decided to center it on a couple of characters I'd mentioned (but not actually introduced).

I had the plot all sketched out. I agonized over the ending, trying to choose between the conventional-but-unrealistic happy ending and the one that made for a better story. I knew who was going to do what, and when. I knew what the twist was going to be, and I knew what the hook was. I'd started writing a few key scenes. But as a whole, the story just... wasn't coming together. So I put it aside for a while.

I worked on my plot for the Scum game, and made some great progress that will let me tie off a couple of old dangling threads. So I'm getting practically giddy as KT's plot comes to its conclusion, both because I've been looking forward to that climax for a long time now, and because I'm excited to introduce the new plot. (And KT will finally get to play in a game instead of running all of them.)

Thanks to a conversation I had with KT about writing, I thought about rewriting Willow Bough to sell it to Torquere as well -- it's even novel-length, which could get me my first actual print book! But on re-reading it, I don't think I can quite make it match Torquere's niche, which is fairly narrow. It might do for one of their subsidiary presses, though -- I'm reserving the question for my editor, when we finally get down to business, to see what she thinks. On the plus side, its plot isn't nearly as horrible as I remembered it being. There are some things I want to rework (I introduce characters that don't serve any purpose, I introduce a few plot threads that are never tied off, the romance is completely all wrong and should be a friendship instead, the ending doesn't make sense, and if I'm going to try to sell it to one of the Torquere lines, it needs more sex. Which is not something I would have ever thought to say about Willow Bough.)

And then last night, I finally realized why the Mind sequel wasn't gelling: the characters I'd chosen for it were rebelling. They're not ready for the spotlight. They have names and they have destinies, but they don't have personalities yet. And the more I think about my other plot idea for that world, the more intrigued I am by it. It hadn't caught me because I hadn't met the characters I wanted to use for it yet, but last night I considered using one of One Mind's secondary characters. I asked him if he was interested, had him audition it. It could work. I started headworking a few scenes.

And then the other main character... woke up. Enough to tell me his name, anyway, and let me see a few glimpses of his personality.

Enough to give me a few notions.

For the first time in weeks, I think I might be bracing to write.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Penny woke up with her sugars nearly 300 this morning, even though they'd been just perfect last night. Which means a) she's getting up and eating in the middle of the night without us noticing (not likely); b) she was really, really stressed and angry at us for making her put a skirt on over her leggings (one day, she will learn to tell the difference between leggings and pants) (but this isn't likely, either); c) she's about to get hit with strep throat or some other variety of infection (unfortunately fairly likely); or d) one of another six bajillion factors that we don't know to account for (also unfortunately fairly likely).

So I guess we'll be on the lookout for illness this weekend and keeping our fingers crossed.

Other things on the list for this weekend: Penny's swim lesson, Matt's D&D game, and Easter basket shopping (both for the kids and for the adults -- Matt and I having discussed the matter and decided that we would make baskets for each other).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Someone, way, way, waaaaay up the chain of command in my company took a good idea (make sure that project QA staff doesn't feel constrained to fudge their audits and reviews to always turn in good results) and performed some idiot extrapolation (project QA staff should not actually report to the project manager, but to a separate line manager).

I know how they got there, and there's a certain logic to it, but it's wrong. Changing the reporting line doesn't help if the separate line manager isn't in the same physical location as the QA staff and will still have to be relying on the project manager for performance reviews. In fact, it makes things worse, because now the QA staff has to report to two different managers, one of whom has an excellent understanding of the company's overarching QA goals, and one of which has an excellent understanding of the specific project's needs. Anyone want to guess how often those two things actually line up?

To make matters even more exciting, when they changed my manager from my local boss to the remote manager up in NoVA, they didn't give us enough warning to take care of the staff that reports to me. Those people aren't actually QA (because I'm both QA and CM for my office -- and I'd venture a guess that only maybe 25% of QA managers out there are really and truly full-time QA; most of us get stuck with a lot of additional tasks that don't necessarily fall under the QA heading) but because the system is built on direct-line reporting, my three subordinates all got moved out of this office's chain of command.

Which screwed up the office's funding (there's an overhead bucket that is directly tied to the number of people working for the project manager, and suddenly it lost 4 people when it should have lost only 1) and subsequently screwed up a lot of other things. A promotion that had been entered in the system and approved mysteriously disappeared, etc.

The solution to this, which we enacted yesterday, was to move those people out from under my management and into someone else's chain of command. I'll still do most of the management, but someone else will be in charge of doing the paperwork.

As much as I won't miss the paperwork, this is not actually all that great for me, because now my company record shows that I had a staff of 2-3 for several years, and now I don't have a staff at all -- which means when it comes time for me to seek my next raise or promotion, my supervisor -- who, recall, doesn't actually work at my physical location and therefore has no real reason to know that I'm still acting as manager for these folks -- won't see that I've done anything to warrant it. While the project manager, who sees me nearly every day and knows exactly how much work I do, has pretty much no say at all in my compensation, aside from delivering glowing informal reviews to my NoVA supervisor and hoping that they're not assumed to be hyperbole.

I get that this system is supposed to keep the project manager from putting negative pressure on me to do my job in a dishonest way. But the system doesn't actually protect me from that, and at the same time insulates my supervisor from any rewards the project manager might feel I was due.

At least I don't have to do the paperwork anymore.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Churning is what my brain is doing. Mostly, to no effect. I'm hoping that, like churning milk into butter, it's one of those long processes where you don't see any change for a long time, and then all of a sudden - poof! - butter suddenly rises to the top.

In the meantime, all I have is froth. I have half-a-dozen half-written scenes for one story. I have another story that I'm trying to figure out how to rewrite without completely wrecking its essential structure. I have several books that I'm actively reading, and a huge stack waiting. I have reading/editing that I've promised for KT.

I need to go shopping pretty soon to get Easter stuff for the kids. And sooner or later I need a bathing suit for this summer.

Today I have a chiropractic adjustment and allergy shots to get, two meetings to attend, five documents to review, and some paperwork to do.

But really, all I want to do is go back to bed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

All About Me

Sort of unintentionally, it ended up being an "all about me" weekend.

I ended up taking Friday off from work, sort of out of the blue. I looked up at one point on Thursday afternoon, came to the realization that I had no deliverables going out Friday, nor meetings scheduled, and since I've spent most of the last two weeks (and to be honest, more than I'd like of the last two months) twiddling my thumbs and looking for busywork to justify my employment, I decided to just take the day off.

Naturally, as soon as I made that decision, I got a meeting scheduled, but it was going to be a short call-in anyway, so I did that from home. So I spent Friday morning writing, then I called in for my meeting, then I went to the gym. When I got home, I ate lunch and piddled around a little, and started some scrapbooking. I picked Penny up from school, and we walked over to the 7-11 and got Slurpees, and then when we got home, I did some more scrapbooking.

Saturday was my "delayed Christmas" day with KT and Kevin. After lunch, Penny and I drove down to their place and hung out for a bit, then we drove over to Portsmouth, and took the ferry over to Waterside, which was a bit of a treat for the girls. From there we walked over to Nauticus to see the Real Pirates exhibit. That was really fascinating, made all the better by some re-enactors and the gorgeous displays. Penny was fascinated by the story of John -- an 8-year-old who ran away from home to turn pirate. It was made all the better by knowing that it was mostly real, not a wild and exaggerated story.

My only complaint was that if I'd known they weren't going to allow any photography inside the exhibit, I wouldn't have lugged my camera along, but oh well. At least I got cute pictures of the girls on the ferry, and some of the Norfolk mermaids.

The weather couldn't possibly have been any finer -- it was in the mid-70s, with a light breeze, honestly just a perfect spring day.

When we got back to KT and Kevin's, it was time for dinner. Kevin ordered pizza for himself and the girls, and KT and I walked over to a restaurant near them called Passion. It was a fairly fancy place, and they had fantastic food. KT and I both went a bit overboard, but if we post gains this week, it will have been so worth it. And it was wonderful just to sit and talk with her -- we don't really get time to do that much anymore.

So we sat and talked for quite a while, then walked back to their place (I should've taken my jacket along -- the temperature dropped quite a bit once the sun went down) and I collected Penny and headed home. We didn't get back until nearly and hour past Penny's usual bedtime.

Sunday was mostly the usual stuff in the morning, but then after lunch I met Vicki to see Alice in Wonderland. I thought it was fun, though it had some weird gaps and holes in it. The story set me up to expect some plot twists that never actually occurred, and whoever decided that the Mad Hatter would seem madder if he changed his voice and accent every sentence or so should have told Johnny Depp not to use his Cap'n Jack voice, because that was sort of jarring. And Vicki and I agreed that we were glad we didn't see it in 3-D, because that probably would have made us a bit seasick, with all the whooshing around it did. All in all, it's not a movie I want to buy, but I didn't feel like I'd wasted my money going to see it, so... call it 6/10?

Back to work today, of course, and nothing in particular on the calendar for this week. Though my chat with KT did make me consider some other writing directions to take, so at least there's something to think about working on when I'm stuck with nothing to do.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Talking In My Sleep

I spent half the night last night dreaming that I was trying to figure out how to set my dad up with a Weight Watcher's style program without actually having him join Weight Watchers. My big stumbling block was trying to figure out how many points he should start out with -- I know how many I have, but I'm pretty sure men have an additional complement of points just because they are men, and I couldn't figure out what that was or how to calculate it. And for some reason, in the dream, I couldn't find the information online or ask KT and Kevin.

Seriously. Half the damn night, I spent on this.

The night before last, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to do some other fairly minor task that, in the dream, simply wouldn't happen.

I think I'm trying to tell myself something, here. I'm making mountains out of molehills, perhaps. Or making simple things complicated. Or focusing too much on tiny mundane tasks and failing to provide any real challenges.

Which is hardly news. But I guess it's time to do something about it, eh?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Alex is still adjusting to the whole Daylight Savings crapola. He's used to waking up and having a little time to himself in the mornings before Matt goes in to get him dressed for the day. But he's only shifted his sleep schedule by about half an hour, so he's not getting as much time in the mornings as he's used to. Which leads to him being cranky and moody in the mornings.

Which leads to mornings like this, where he seemed fine in the car, but when we got to daycare and hung up his jacket, he backed into me and refused every suggestion I made that he go play, or greet the teacher, or go see his girlfriends. And when I gave up and told him I was going, he started crying.

I'm sure he'll be fine, and he was probably over it and playing with blocks or something before Penny and I pulled out of the parking lot. But I hate that kind of morning. I was sort of resigned to them, with Penny, my delicate flower of a firstborn who cried at being dropped off well into kindergarten and, as near as I can tell, is still horrified by the idea that she's expected to get her own place to live when she's grown up. But Alex is usually so cool and collected about his morning dropoff.

He needs to hurry up and get adjusted to the time change so he can go back to being his usual sanguine self.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I had hoped that giving up Facebook for Lent would spur me to some kind of increased productivity. More work on the scrapbook, or more writing, or something.

But apparently it's not as easy as that. I think I've done all of two and a half scrapbook pages in the last month. And I haven't written as much as I'd like, either -- mostly just a few snippets, really.

I'm not frittering my time away on Facebook, but I'm frittering it away nonetheless. I'm reading instead of writing. I'm watching TV. I'm playing on Neopets and PopCap and my iPhone. I'm not even speaking up on the forums I'd been getting sort of active in.

And when I do force myself to open up a document and try to write... it doesn't want to come. The stuff I force out has barely any meat, and no connective tissue at all. And certainly no beating heart. The scrapbook pages are dull and uninspired.

I'm trying to figure out if I need to bull through this block, or stop trying for a little while and take a break. Creativity begets creativity, usually, but am I trying too hard and merely feeding my sense of discouragement? Should I step back and work on the Scum plot I was thinking about, and hope that leads to something bigger and better? Focus on taking pictures instead of mounting them for a while?

I wish I could take a retreat. Spend a week -- or better yet, a month -- living entirely by myself, somewhere with no internet access at all, with a computer that doesn't have any games installed on it. I'd take all my scrapbooking stuff and pictures for the last six months (which is about how far behind I am). I'd take my camera gear. No books, aside from a dictionary and a thesaurus. No phone. No email. No TV. Just me, and my creative tools, and the tattered, ragged shell of my muse.

It does not sound relaxing. It does not sound like fun. But it does sound like a small slice of heaven.

Alas, I don't have a spare month. I need to figure out how to revive and rejuvenate my muse in the environment I've got.

And I need to figure out why I feel like I'm running out of time.

Monday, March 15, 2010


The concert was awesome.

Jen and Brian came over for dinner, so the kids were pretty well acclimated to them by the time Matt and I left at 6:30 (Alex, watching the last of Sesame Street, barely blinked when we hugged him goodbye). We picked Elizabeth up, and headed up to Richmond. We got to the venue at about 7:30 and found Braz and Vicki, who'd staked out a pretty good spot for us on the floor, and we chatted while we waited for the show to start.

I was pretty punchy and happy. Matt and I realized, in the car on the way up, that we hadn't been out for an evening together without the kids since before Alex was born. It felt awesome.

Jonathan Coulton came on at 8, and played for about half an hour. I wish it'd been longer! He said something about coming back to the area on his own tour, though, which would be awesome. He didn't do my favorite songs ("Code Monkey" and "Mandelbrot Set"), but at least I knew all the songs he did play, and he made them lots of fun. He wrapped it up with "Re: Your Brains," which was hysterical, since he got the audience to participate on the zombie chorus. Matt and Braz, of course, had way too much fun with that.

Then the house lights came back up while they finished setting up, and we bounced and danced to the background music and generally had a good time until about 9, when They Might Be Giants came on. They did a seven-song opener before starting in on the Flood album (it being a Flood tour) and then they got down to business by doing Flood... backwards.

There were sock puppets. And confetti. Lots and lots of confetti. The confetti got so thick -- and refused to completely settle -- that they actually got distracted and flubbed "Lucky Ball and Chain." Twice. After the second time, they gave up and moved on to the next (or rather, previous) song.

Once they'd finished Flood, they came back for two more encores. We danced and jumped and sang along and cheered and screamed the whole time. I stepped on a guy, and when I turned around to apologize, he gave me a huge grin and a double thumbs-up.

The show finally ended around 11:15. I'd been worried about my feet -- they usually start hurting quite a lot after only an hour or so -- but by the time the show was over, they were achey, but still ready to dance. My back and legs and hips were more sore, but not horribly so. I was almost as thrilled by that as the show itself.

We got home around 12:30 or so, chatted with Jen and Brian a bit and were reassured that the kids had been good -- Penny, in fact, had both insisted on doing her homework reading and monitored her own bedtime. We got to bed around 1.

Friday morning we got up, got the kids dressed and taken to school, and then crawled back into bed for a couple of hours. We met Vicki and Elizabeth for lunch, then went home and were vegetables until it was time to pick Penny up from school. Vicki came over for dinner, and that was fun, too.

The weekend itself was calmer, and spent mostly at home. We went out for dinner Saturday, and of course Penny had pizza, so we spent some time chasing her blood sugars around, and her mood and behavior varied right along with it. She and Ray wound up getting in trouble for throwing things at the house (I have no idea, honestly, what prompted that) and at some point she lost her med-alert bracelet, which... grr. So she's stuck in the "emergency" velcro one until it turns up or I order another plate. But on the other hand, Matt took her to the library, and she came home with twenty-two books! I'm so glad she's finally gotten hooked on reading!

Alex, likewise, vacillated between feeling "delicate" and breaking down sobbing over absolutely nothing, and being the cutest, silliest, cuddliest little boy in the history of forever. Maybe there was something in the air.

So all in all, two thumbs up for the extended weekend! Yay, social activity and relaxation!

This is promising to be a fairly social week for me, actually. I'm considering taking a turn at Rock Band Night tonight, and then Saturday I'm going down to visit KT and Kevin and Jess to see the Pirate exhibit at Nauticus with them. And Sunday, Vicki and I are going to see Alice in Wonderland together, since most of our other friends don't seem to be interested.

Let the fun commence! Or continue! Something!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Whoo, long weekend for me! And I'm hoping it will be an awesome one.

I'm planning to cut out of work a bit early today, if the schedule will allow it (and so far, it looks good). Tonight, of course, is the JoCo/TMBG concert, which we're going to with Elizabeth and Braz and Vicki, and which I'm quite looking forward to. A lot. I mean, a lot. No, more than that. Yeah. (Two hours of dancing, give or take. Maybe I'll skip going to the gym tomorrow.)

Tomorrow, Matt and I are both taking the day off from work, primarily so we can catch a nap, since we anticipate being up pretty late tonight. But a day off is always good. Even if you don't do anything exciting with it. And who knows? We might try to do something exciting with it! Meet people for lunch or something, anyway. (I don't know how many of our fellow concert attendees are also taking the day off.)

Also tomorrow, Vicki's coming over for dinner. Which is actually Penny's fault -- looking at the week's menu on the fridge, she noticed that we're going to have chili for dinner tomorrow, and remembered that Vicki likes chili, and asked if we could invite Vicki over. Yay for social life!

We don't have any specific plans for the real weekend, but I really want to visit my parents -- yesterday I officially signed my contract with Torquere Press for the story they're going to publish. And after debating with myself for a while over whether to share this news, I decided I don't really care that my story is the literary equivalent of a Twinkie (i.e., a guilty pleasure utterly lacking in any real value) -- published is published, dangit, and I want to celebrate!

(For my readers who like Twinkies -- I don't know when it will be available. The contract stipulates that they'll post it within 1 year of the contract signing date, and while I expect it will happen much sooner than that, they've still got to run it through their editing and formatting department, and I don't know how long that will take. You can bet I'll post a link here when it goes up for sale.)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clothing Considerations

Ug. I made a poor fashion choice this morning. I'm wearing a black sweater over a tank top, which looks fine, but it's kind of an itchy sweater, and it's making me crazy. Especially since I had a vial test for my allergy meds yesterday, which means I've got three extremely itchy little bumps on my arms anyway. And since what I've got under the sweater is a tank, I can't just take it off and pretend that the undershirt was it for the day.

Bleh. Well, if it's still driving me crazy when I head out for the gym, I may swing by the house and change.

In the meantime, I'm getting mentally itchy for the concert tomorrow. I'm planning on taking a half-day tomorrow, assuming the week's deliverables are done in time. Not that there's much to do to prepare for the concert, but it makes a good excuse, eh?

I'd been considering dressing up for the concert (well, "up" as in "fun clothes I couldn't wear to work", not "up" as in "formal") but Matt told me yesterday that the venue is a no-seats, standing-audience-only place, so I'll be wanting to wear a) comfortable shoes and b) clothes I can sit on the floor in. So much for stripey tights, a flirty skirt, and heeled boots! Guess it'll be sneakers, jeans, and a snarky/geeky tee.

It's not been the best week for clothes in our house all around, anyway -- despite the reminder that came home from school Monday, Matt and I completely forgot about Tuesday being picture day, so we let Penny go to school wearing her slightly ratty Batman tee. Oh, well. At least her hair was combed. I hope they found someone to put in front of her for the class picture.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


My task for today is to get our taxes done.


Yeah, I know, I've been putting it off. There's just so many more appealing things to do with my free time, you know? Read. Dork around on the computer. Play with the kids. Go to the gym. Clean the house. Get a root canal.

Matt started to use one of the online services, but that was even more of a headache, because it demanded details that we didn't have (and that the paper forms don't actually require).

There has got to be an easier way to do this.

Monday, March 8, 2010


All in all, not a bad weekend.

Penny started up her swimming lessons again, Saturday morning. Matt took her along on that so he could get in some swimming, as well, so I stayed home with Alex. We actually had a great time. He wanted to play with blocks, so I took him into the green room (which is pretty much the kids' play room) and got out the blocks for him. We built a tower, and then he very meticulously put all the blocks back into their box. And then he had me get out his puzzles for him.

He completed each of his four wooden puzzles by turns, and though he got frustrated with pieces that didn't fit once or twice, I sat on my hands and encouraged him to try again -- and he nodded and said "Okay," and then figured it out. I was startled, surprised, and proud -- Penny never cared much for puzzles, so I have no idea whether this is advanced or right on target for his age. But when he was done with each, he had me put the puzzles back in the rack, and when he'd plowed through the whole rack, he "helped" me put the rack back on the shelf. I'm loving this "clean up" thing he's going through!

Then he got out several other toys, played with them briefly, and then put them back. I played "with" him some, mostly just trying to keep him engaged, but mostly just watched him and marveled. I don't often get to watch him play when Penny's not around, and she's so prone to do things for him that it sometimes takes me by surprise when I see how much he can do on his own.

Saturday afternoon, I took Penny to a birthday party. She ran around with her friends, shrieking and giggling. She was much more daring than usual, though it kind of bit her on the ass -- she jumped from the top of a bouncy slide and despite landing on another air-cushion area, must have hit wrong, because she hurt her foot. (I checked to make sure it wasn't broken or strained, then sent her limping off again, and within ten minutes, she was racing around like before.)

The third time she detoured by my chair to ask how long it was until the food, I had her check her blood sugars, and of course she was low, so I stuffed some Smarties in her and sent her off again. When they assembled the kids for the food, she re-checked and was back up in range. She leaped happily onto pizza and ice cream cake, though I restricted her to just one slice of pizza. Maybe I shouldn't have, though -- most of the other kids sucked down two or even three slices. (She was still complaining of hunger when we got home -- with which I sympathized, because I'd only had one slice of pizza, too -- so I let her eat a whole plate full of veggies with dip.)

Apparently I'd grossly overestimated the carbs (or underestimated the effects of an hour of running and jumping) because she was low again that night. And weirdly, the usual post-pizza effects of a day's worth of high blood sugars didn't emerge on Sunday. So maybe keeping her to one slice was the right choice, hunger pangs or not.

I spent most of Sunday reading -- I've spent most of the last couple of months slowly working my way through Lois Bujold's Vorkosigan saga as night-table books, which means I read a chapter or two when I'm supervising the kids' baths, another page or so during Penny's bedtime routine, and maybe a chapter or so before I go to bed. But the closer I got to my favorite book of the series (A Civil Campaign), the more and faster I was reading. I finally got to Campaign Sunday. I thought I'd finish it before I went to bed, but Matt was watching the Oscars, and it captured my attention just enough that I didn't want to walk away from it entirely. So despite staying up until midnight, I'm still two chapters from the end. Ah, well.

(I don't really have any comments on the Oscars. I'd only seen two and a half of the, what, two dozen movies? I was mostly enjoying the silly jokes, even if most of them were delivered a bit woodenly, and making comments about the clothes and the people. I completely distracted Matt from one of the presentations, I think, by pointing out how one of the presenters was keeping her shoulders hunched and her arms firmly at her sides to avoid having her boobs pop out of her dress.)

This week should be good. Looks like just enough work to keep us moving without making things crazy. Or interfering with my plan to take Friday (and possibly part of Thursday) off for the concert. Time to start getting excited about that!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Crazy Sugars

At 10 last night, when by all rights Penny shouldn't have any insulin left over from dinner left in her system, her blood sugar check was 140. Which is just about right. Plenty of room for wiggles in either direction.

This morning at breakfast, she was at 80. Which is technically in range, though the very bottom of it. Which means she somehow dropped 60 points overnight. Which is, if nothing else, a great illustration of exactly why her doctor is keeping her night range higher than her daytime range. If she'd been at 80 when we went to bed last night, we might have woken this morning to a scramble for the Glucagon, a call to the emergency room, or... worse.

She's been waking up on the low end of her range (or even actually and officially low) for most of the last week. Matt and I need to look over her chart and consider adjusting either her Lantus doseage (if she seems to be running on the low side a lot all day) or her dinner ratio (if this is only happening overnight). Our "orders" from the doctor allow us to adjust her meal ratios at our own discretion, within a certain range, though if it looks like it's going to be a Lantus shift, we'll probably fax that in for the doctor to confirm.

Of course, I don't think lows are likely to be much of a problem for the weekend. Today is Friday, and Penny drank all her milk at lunch all week, so she's allowed a chocolate milk with her lunch today. And tomorrow is a birthday party for one of her classmates, with cake and pizza -- which virtually guarantees that she'll run high for the next 24 hours.

At least she'll have fun. And I may try to collect some more parents' phone numbers, so we can try to invite more of her school friends to her birthday party this summer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Gotta be fast today; I have a doctor's appointment that I need to leave for in about twenty minutes, and I haven't had my coffee yet, let alone breakfast.

Penny's class is having a "game show" this afternoon -- a quiz show where they will show off their knowledge of "famous people." (It being school, the famous people in question include such luminaries of the celebrity world as George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, Ben Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln.) I plan to pop over to the school to sit in the "studio audience", but given Penny's performance in the car this morning while she was going over her fact sheet, I rather expect she's about to get a hard lesson in the need for practice and review.

It should be amusing, anyway. Penny's teacher honestly has them (or at least her) convinced that they're having this game show because the teacher got a call from a friend of hers who works in Hollywood. Heh.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Slush Pile

Okay, seriously, it's March. Time for the snow to stop.

We've got an inch of accumulation this morning. Most of it is slush. It's a good thing the temperatures aren't actually going to dip below freezing, or the roads would be in danger of becoming extremely dangerous instead of merely messy.

So Karen stayed with us last night. KT and Kevin and Jess brought her up, and Vicki came, too, so she could finally meet Karen, and I made dinner for everyone and we had a lovely time sitting around chatting. And we didn't stay up too terribly late, because Karen had to catch a train this morning at 6:30, so we all turned in around 10:30 or so.

Of course, the school called us at 5:05 to let us know that school is closed today. So I've been more or less awake since then. But it made it (a little) easier to roll out of bed when my alarm went off at 5:30. I put on a bathrobe and my polka-dot boots and drove Karen to the train station, then got home just about the time I usually get up and start my exercises, so I did that, and the rest of the morning proceeded mostly normally, though since Penny isn't at school today, I got to work twenty minutes or so early.

Now the early rising is catching up on me, and I'm about to yawn my face off. Maybe it's a good thing that I've started to swing back toward coffee as my morning beverage of choice, eh? At least it's shaping up to be a slow day at work.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time Off For Good Behavior

Sometimes it feels like I take a lot of time off from work. And looking at our upcoming plans, I don't think that's changing anytime soon.

Karen's in town, just for today. She came down to bring her old car to KT and Kevin, and today they're bringing her up to our place, and everyone's invited to stay for dinner. We invited Vicki, too, so she and Karen can finally meet in person. Karen's staying with us tonight so we can drop her off at the train station at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning. I'm taking the afternoon off so I can hit the grocery store and hang out with everyone for a while.

Thursday morning, I have a doctor's appointment in the morning, and I'm also taking probably about an hour off in the afternoon to attend a show at Penny's school.

Next week, Matt and I are going to a concert Thursday night, and since I anticipate we'll be out late, I'm taking Friday off, so I can catch a nap and relax. I'm also pondering taking a half-day the day of the concert, just to really get into a party mood.

The first full week of April is Penny's Spring Break, and we're taking advantage of it to make a family trip down to Atlanta to visit my grandmother and do some sightseeing. (It's looking like I'll have to do some work while I'm there, as well, but I'm currently hoping it won't take more than an hour or so a day, while Alex is napping anyway.)

In July, we're taking our family trip to Chicago. Matt's talking about taking a longer trip than I can swing and driving, both to avoid the airports and so he and the kids can visit his family on a more leisurely schedule than we usually have. We're still working out the logistics of that trip, but I'll probably be taking about a week off, anyway.

I have a cousin getting married in August, so we'll all be heading back to Atlanta for that. That'll be a shorter trip, though -- maybe two days off from work, bracketing a weekend.

That's as far ahead as we've planned. There will surely be smaller things that pop up in the meantime -- illnesses (mine or the kids') and school holidays and such. There will be appointments to keep. The summer bash isn't planned yet (I'm hoping it won't conflict too much with our trip to Chicago.) We haven't even thought about the holidays, yet.

It's a good thing I keep a detailed spreadsheet at work that tracks my vacation time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Award Winning

My brother just recently completed his Master's degree in art, and he's slowly starting to feel his way toward progress as an artist as well as a teacher. He submitted two of his works to a local competition, the Artists Who Teach exhibition, and was excited that both of them were accepted. So of course I wanted to go to the exhibition's opening reception this weekend.

It was an honor for John's work to have been selected, and I think he was hoping for one of the Honorable Mentions or Awards of Merit, so that he could have that to add to his resume and portfolio.

He was up against some pretty stiff competition. According to the program, there were 102 works of art by 64 artists -- out of which 13 would win awards. A lot of the pieces at the show were just fantastic, really beautiful and full of emotion and feeling. There were even a few that I gave some serious thought to purchasing.

John didn't get an Honorable Mention or an Award of Merit.

He got third place.

Third place. The very first juried exhibition he's ever entered, and he walked away with third place and a cash prize!

That's my little brother, the award-winning artist.

(I've said that about forty bajillion times since the awards were presented, and I'm not tired of it yet!)

Needless to say, the whole family was thrilled all to pieces, and we're enormously proud.