Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Crappity weather, crappity mood.

Hate my job, hate my house, hate my writing, hate my body. Don't hate my family, but I spent the whole morning snapping at them for minor infractions, so they might hate me a little bit right now.

I want crisp blue skies, and for 2/3 of the crap in the house to disappear, and while I'm wishing for impossible things, I want another 10% of my body mass to magically go away. I want a full month's leave of absence from my job, and then I want a new job that isn't the job I'm doing now. Ideally, I'd feel like I'm actually helping someone instead of just doing busywork, and even more ideally, it would be something I can do without having to go back to school, because I don't have time in my schedule for night classes right now. I'd like a story idea to actually stay in my head once I have it, long enough for me to write it. I'd like to be able to set aside two hours every day to write without feeling like I'm neglecting my family.

I want two weeks all to myself. With a fat budget, so I can stay in a big city somewhere -- New York or Chicago or Atlanta or even some place I've never been -- and explore the streets for hours. I'm not even sure it matters if I speak the language. I just want to be brave and do things I've never done and then have the time and environment to absorb and process it.

I wonder sometimes what I'd be like if I hadn't been so timid in high school and college. I don't just mean self-conscious or insecure, because that's all teenagers, really. But I let opportunities slide by because I was afraid they might be uncomfortable. Opportunities for relationships, opportunities for travel, opportunities for expanding who and what I was.

And now I'm a fraud, with a dead-end job with a family and a mortgage and it's like I just woke up and realized that the world is out there, waiting for me with open arms, and I want it, I want it so badly but there are people who rely on me now, and I love them too much to shortchange them.

Or is that another excuse? Another rationalization for being lazy and timid? I don't know. How can I know?

I'm sorry. I've been very whiny lately. I don't know if it's the time of year, or the stress, or the weather, or a pre-menopausal hormone shift, or what. Female equivalent of the mid-life crisis?

How do I know? I think that's the worst part of it all: not knowing if any of it is real.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It's a grey, sleepy day. Fall rain -- the kind that curls up on you like a cat and settles in for days. The kind that makes you sleepy. Or sleepier. Whichever.

It does, however, lend something to the smell of my coffee and the cinnamon and ginger in my oatmeal. It makes my nice warm breakfast feel cozier.

And I'm wearing my new grey skirt -- bias-cut and very flattering, and I got out my adorable black ankle boots that I've missed wearing all summer. And I'm wearing sparkly socks and some new (well, inherited) fun jewelry, and I put my hair up to show off the awesome-but-subtle earrings and accentuate my glasses. Yeah, I'm totally rocking the sexy intellectual look today.

Also as a bonus, today is neither a gym day nor an allergy shot day, which means that I can stay at work straight through lunch and go home a bit early. Whoo! Which works out well, because it's also back-to-school night for Penny's school, and she and Matt (it's his turn to go, this year) will need to eat dinner early.

Another thumbs-up: I got some good writing work done last night. I didn't write all that much -- maybe 500 words or so -- but then I managed to jot down the scenes I think will finish out the story, which gives me a framework to build on. I hope. (I have not been good with the sticking-to-a-project thing, lately.)

So there we are. Hoping for a good day, despite the rain.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yay for weekends.

We went out to dinner with Braz and Adin and company Friday, for Braz's birthday. Saturday morning, we went over to Braz's again to hang out, because the kids had been so dejected that they weren't getting any real playtime Friday night. After lunch, as we started herding kids toward cars so Alex could get his nap, the offer was made that Penny could stay and play with Ripley while Alex napped. Which was brilliant. So Penny and I got to hang out with them for a few extra hours. Sunday we stayed home all day, aside from the grocery shopping and me taking Alex to get his hair cut (which was a good month overdue -- the shorter hair makes him look younger again and sticks straight up all over, but at least it's not in his eyes anymore). Penny played with Ray and the girl who lives a few houses down from us pretty much all day. Oh, and I took her to Target because she had three whole dollars burning a hole in her pocket and wanted to spend it.

So that was my weekend. I slept in Saturday, and Penny even let me sleep a little extra on Sunday, but I'm still feeling weirdly drained and exhausted. I wonder if it's psychological rather than physiological -- that whole, "I'm stressed and I hate my job" thing. Not much to be done about it at the moment, alas.

This week in brief: Today, Matt is one of the WatchDOGS at Penny's school. I've got book club on Wednesday. Saturday afternoon, Penny's going to Ripley's birthday party (Alex is invited, but given the timing, may sleep through it) and that evening I'm babysitting for Braz and Adin so they can go to a grown-up party. And the next day, they're babysitting for us so Matt and I can go to the Newport News Park Fall Festival without the kids in tow -- really looking forward to that. I love the Festival, but doing with the kids last year was just a nightmare.

And tonight or tomorrow, I need to go back to the grocery store, because I somehow forgot about ten things that I need for this week's meals. Oops.

It's almost the end of September already. Wow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time Out

The weekend approacheth. Thank all the gods and little pink toasters.

We don't have any major plans for it, either. For which also, I thank a wide assortment of deities and whimsical household appliances.

This week has dragged. And I mean dragged. I had Monday off, and I still spent Wednesday evening and Thursday feeling like I'd been stuck in this week for months. I've felt exhausted nearly every moment I've been awake, and it's just fueling my loathing for my job. It was all I could do yesterday not to scrawl "I QUIT" on the walls in Sharpie and walk out the door.

I need a break.

But Matt's monthly D&D game is tomorrow night, which means tomorrow morning is my turn to sleep in. I'm looking forward to it enormously. And then I shall spend the rest of the day trying to do relaxing or fun things. Ditto for Sunday, aside from that being my turn to get up with the kids.

And hope to hell that manages to recover a little of my mental reserves.

But just in case, someone might want to hide the Sharpies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

All In The Timing

So Penny asked if we could have a Hallowe'en party, and I'm considering it. Hallowe'en is on a Sunday this year, so you'd think the night before would be the perfect time for a party, but that's the day Matt is talking about going up to DC to see someone speak and might not be back until fairly late. So I have decisions to make:

- Have the party just for Penny and her friends, or try to make it an all-ages party and invite adult friends as well?
- Have it early afternoon on Hallowe'en (which might be awkward for people with their own holiday preparations to attend to), early afternoon on the 30th (which would mean I'm hosting solo for sure), or late afternoon/evening on the 30th (which would mean I'm at least decorating and possibly hosting solo).

The guest list sort of dictates how much energy I'd put into the decorations and food and how wide a variety of activities I'd need to come up with for the kiddies.

Well, tell me, Local Friends: would you like to attend a Hallowe'en party? And if so, when would be better?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Don't know if I'm burned out or coming down with something or what, but I just cannot seem to generate any energy or enthusiasm, for anything.

I haven't really had much enthusiasm for my work for years, if I have to be honest, but it's really reaching new lows just lately. Having to sweat over the office not having any work to do hasn't helped any.

I sat down to write last night and made myself work for about an hour, but it was a chore, not a joy, and I only wrote a few hundred words. And at that, I wrote myself into a corner where the characters aren't going to be able to go where I need to steer them. So most of it's going to get deleted the next time I sit down to write.

Went to bed and crashed hard, and was really hoping to re-energize my system, but I had to get up at 12:30 and spend fifteen minutes or so dealing with an earache. Fifteen minutes isn't all that long, but it screwed up my sleep cycle. (On the plus side, I had a dream this morning that I think helps with my approach to the characters not going where they're supposed to. The dream itself won't do me any good, but it seems to have made a couple of synapses fire that needed to.)

Of course, it's been a week since I've made it to the gym, so it's possible that some of this lethargy is my body ramping down my metabolism. (Stupid body.) I'm going back today, so maybe that will help.

But really, what I feel like I'd like to do is crawl into a hole and not come out for about a week.

Maybe two.

In the meantime, I've all but promised Penny that she can have a Hallowe'en party, so I need to start organizing that, and figure out when we'll do our trip to Pumpkinville for carving and baking pumpkins, and just... stuff.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


So, I'm back.

I did wind up speaking at the service; I adapted the eulogy I'd posted here, extracting about three paragraphs and revising them to stand alone. Quite a few other people spoke as well; my grandmom was one of those ladies of effortless elegance and grace who seems to touch everyone she meets. There was lots of weeping.

I wasn't entirely happy with the sermon that was delivered, but if you follow me on Twitter, you already know how I felt about that (this is why I keep my Twitter account private). If you missed it, feel free to email me and ask, but be prepared for a certain amount of ranting.

I was also pretty bemused by the couple who hung around at my uncle's house until after 10pm... They were neither family nor particularly close friends. Even my aunt, who is a brilliant hostess who loves entertaining, was trying to send "GO HOME NOW" signals to them, cleaning up and putting things away and fiddling with the lights, all of which they roundly ignored. I'm sure all of you are much smarter and more considerate than that, but just in case it needs to be said: If you're at a gathering with a strong family focus (funeral, wedding, christening, etc.) and you are not a member of the family, then you should not be the last one out the door unless you have specifically been asked to stay later. In which case you should be making yourself useful and not just sitting around talking. Oy.

Sleep was a bit of an issue -- miscommunication/lack of organization promised one bed to both me and my aunt's brother, and since I'm the younger generation, I'm the one who slept on the couch. We were up until well past midnight both Friday and Saturday nights, and I was up pretty early both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I threw back a lot of coffee, and I'm still feeling tired today.

There were a few other not-fun awkward moments, such as having to go through Grandmom's furniture and stuff in my uncle's garage and try to pick out what of it I want to keep. And later, trying to sort through Grandmom's jewelry and divide it up among us ladies. But I'm content; no one else wanted the desk that I've loved since I was about seven years old (though it will need to be repaired before I can use it), so though I got a few other things, I would have let someone else take them if they'd been wanted. I also got some nice jewelry (some of which I'm keeping in trust for Penny). And I brought home a whole bag of costume jewelry that no one wanted for Penny and Alex to play with.

I had a good time talking with John and Sam and my parents -- it's not often I get the chance to really talk with any of them much, anymore, especially without the kids around to interrupt every third word. And I got to see the pictures from my cousin's honeymoon, which were lovely.

But all in all, I was glad to get home Sunday afternoon, and I'm glad I won't be traveling for the rest of this year. I'm all burnt out on travel for a while.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When I thought I was writing a eulogy for my Grandmother to be read aloud at her memorial, rather than a life summary to be printed and handed out, this is what I came up with. It's a first draft, so still a little rough, but I liked it just enough to want to share it with at least someone. And hey, here on the blog, I don't have to worry about having to stop to cry.


A little over a week ago, I hung up the phone and looked at my husband with the beginnings of panic in my eyes. "They want me to write a eulogy," I told him.

Matt said, "I don't know any good eulogy jokes, but I bet we can find some online."

Telling jokes may be taking it a bit too far, but I don't want this to be maudlin, either, and I have to believe that Grandmom would have felt the same way. She had a wonderful sense of humor, and she knew how to live in the moment and to make the best of any particular situation. Because that's the kind of woman that she was.

Now, this is the part of the eulogy where I'm supposed to talk about her life. But how could I possibly summarize a life as amazing as hers? She was a small-town girl who secretly married a dashing older man, then followed him around the world! (Is my propensity for writing schlock romance showing, there, a bit?)

The slightly embarrassing truth is that I don't actually know very much about her. Here's what I know: She was born Wilma Clarice Evans on March 11, 1920, the youngest of eight siblings. She was 19 years old when she married my grandfather, Ellis, who was in the Air Force. She traveled with him all over the world, living in Germany, England, and Japan as well as multiple U.S. locations. After Grandad's retirement from the Air Force, they continued to travel often to destinations in Mexico, South America, Europe, and Asia. For a woman of her background and generation, she was not only well-traveled, but remarkably well-educated, holding not only a Bachelor's degree but also a Master's of Education from the College of William and Mary. She was a teacher and guidance counselor for many years, and she was very active in the community as well, volunteering time and effort to help those less fortunate than herself, and enjoying many activities within her church. Her favorite hobbies included music, reading and playing bridge, and she especially loved playing the piano. She raised two sons, rejoiced in five grandchildren, and was even able to hold two great-grandchildren.

It seems a pathetic summary for what must have been a remarkable ninety years of life. But Grandmom didn't talk much about herself, at least not to me. When I was with her, what she wanted to talk about was me. She always made me feel like I was precious and unique and overflowing with amazing potential. I'm sure my dad and uncle could talk about the force of her personality when she was younger -- how she could quiet a classroom full of teenage boys without ever raising her voice, and how strict a disciplinarian she was -- but that's not how I knew her. When she met me for the first time, she became A Grandmother, and she took to that role with all the considerable energy she had to spare.

I don't know what her approach to parenting was. But I do know that, as A Grandmother, it was not only her privilege, not just her right, but her God-given duty to spoil her grandchildren rotten. But she did far more than that. She did something for us that I wouldn't fully understand until I had my own children: She believed in us. Whatever dreams I nurtured, she knew would come true. Whatever star I reached for, she did everything in her power to lift me a little higher so I could grasp it. And she did it unstintingly, and unfailingly. Because that's the kind of woman that she was.

When I was five years old, I watched some musical program on TV with her and was captivated by the elegance of the pianist's fingers as they danced over the keys, and I told her I wished I could play the piano like that. I think it was the very next day that she began to harangue my parents to get me piano lessons.

And yet, no matter how much she gave, she never asked for a return of any sort. She pressed for those piano lessons, admittedly, from her own love of music and her hope that love would be echoed in me. She saw me as the next Mozart, or at least the next Duke Ellington. ...I wasn't. I never developed the ear she had for music, and I wasn't very interested in working for it. Eventually, I gave it up. Not only did Grandmom never say a word, but she never let me see even a hint of disappointment.

At various other points in my life, I wanted to be such improbable things as an airplane pilot, a mathematician, and a writer. Grandmom encouraged every one of these, sometimes with enthusiasm that exceeded my own. She celebrated even my most trivial of successes, and took my ever-changing interests in stride. She understood, even when I didn't, that the journey was far more important than the destination. She never demanded that I pick a thing and stick to it. She never seemed to want a return on her investments. She asked nothing more of me than that I be happy, and to save her a seat in my cheering section. Because that's the kind of woman that she was.

I could pile on complimentary adjectives for an hour. The few that leap most readily to mind are: Strong. Graceful. Forthright. Loving. Beautiful. Smart. Cheerful. Generous. Shrewd. Kind. Adventurous. Fun. and Gracious. I could even pull out a few slightly less flattering words that no one who knew her would dare to deny, like "determined" and "stubborn."

Grandmom was all these things, and so much more. She was a teacher and a mother, a wife and a friend, a mentor and a haven. No mere words could do her justice, and it's time I stopped trying.

I didn't take my husband up on his offer to research eulogy jokes for me, but I hope that we'll always remember Grandmom with a smile, or even a chuckle. I'm sure that she would have preferred us to remember her with more affection than dejection, and more whimsy than woe. Grandmom would not want us to feel blue too long over her passing. After all, her favorite color was lavender. Because that's the kind of woman that she was.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wild Blue

The Charity Blitz stories finally got posted last night around 10:30. They must have been having some hellacious database problems. (These are the trials of being a tiny company: you don't really have the wherewithal to support a really robust web system, so your webmonkey has to do everything by hand.) Anyway, my story is out, and if you like those kinds of stories and/or would like to support the charity to the utmost, let me call your attention to the package, which gets you all 28 stories at a more than 15% discount! (And now I shall shut up and take my shilling back to the writing blog. Thank you for your patience.)


No blog entry tomorrow, as I'll be up early (probably 5:45ish, which is not even half an hour earlier than usual, but any time before 6am automatically sucks as a wake-up time) to get dressed and pack my jammies and toothbrush and head down to the airport to catch an 8am flight back to Atlanta for Grandmom's memorial Saturday. (This will be my fourth trip to Atlanta in less than a year. I'm beginning to feel sort of proprietary about the place.)

I've still got an "assigned at boarding" seat assignment, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me and I'm desperately hoping it doesn't mean "we're hoping for some cancellations". (But I'm pretty sure it does.) Here's hoping I get that flight, as the next one doesn't leave until after noon, which is a long time to be cooling my heels in an airport. Especially the Newport News airport, which is tiny and has most of its shopping kiosks on the wrong side of the security gate.

I expect a slightly stressy/tense, depressing family gathering. I wonder if I could convince John and Sam and the cousins to go out dancing or something in the evenings. ...Yeah, it's probably kind of tasteless to suggest it. Note to self: download some reading material. At least I finally bit the bullet and bought Pages for my iPad, so I have a doc-capable (at least in theory) word processor available if I find time to do some writing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Published, Take 2!

I have another story out, which means I'm a multiply published author. Whoo-hoo! Check out the blurb and an excerpt over at my writing journal! (Despite the warning that LJ insists on, both are perfectly SFW, having no graphic images and no action described steamier than a kiss. I do not make the same promise for the publisher's website, however.)

This one is a short story, and it's part of the "Healing Hearts" charity blitz - all of my royalties and a matching amount from the publisher will go to Doctors Without Borders. The story is less than $2 -- check it out and help a worthy cause!

Note: As of about 2:45pm, they're still loading the page. If you click on the "charity blitz" link, you'll see a random selection of about 12 of the 28 stories available, but none of the links will work. If you click on the "story" link above or any of the books on the blitz page, you'll get a "This product was not found" message. I've been assured they're working on it hard, and everything should be functional soon!

Edit: 10:15pm - The stories are finally posted! Links above should be working correctly now!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Down the Tubes

I swear, I don't know where my time goes. Or more precisely, I'm afraid I do know where it's going, and I don't much like the answer.

I get to work, I get my coffee, I check emails, and suddenly - poof! - it's time for the 10:00 meeting. I go to the meeting, I do a little work, I check Twitter, and - poof! - it's time to hit the gym. I get back from the gym, I eat lunch and check my RSS feed, then I work on a little project and - poof! - it's 3:30 and my day is mostly gone. I barely had time to touch the work that was supposed to be my primary focus for yesterday.

I think today I'm going to try using some timers to help keep my focus. At least until I'm caught back up. It's not a perfect system, but it at least warns me when I accidentally get sucked into something that I thought would only take a few minutes. Especially when that something is productive to neither my professional nor personal life. Over an hour frittered away on making a promotional flyer for my publications? Probably okay (provided I ever actually print the damn things out and take them somewhere that people might see them). But over an hour spent on my RSS feed? Not so much. I need to learn to let the RSS feed slide and let it be the thing I turn to when I only have a couple of minutes to kill. When I've got a spare hour, I should be doing something productive with it.

So for today: timers. Forty-five minutes (minimum) of work, and then fifteen minutes (maximum) of frittering. Hopefully it will help me get back on track.

Monday, September 13, 2010


So it turns out that I'm not expected to write Grandmom's eulogy; what my uncle asked and my dad initially misunderstood is that they want me to write her obituary. Which is actually a much easier task, especially since I won't have to try to read it aloud.

I kind of like the draft eulogy I wrote, though, so I might save that and post it here the day of the memorial. We'll see.


We had a really good weekend.

Saturday morning, I took Penny shopping for some school clothes, and also so I could find something appropriate to wear to Grandmom's memorial service. Poor Penny dragged along while I tried on about two-thirds of the black dressed J. C. Penney's had to offer, I think. (I finally gave up on dresses entirely and bought a very pretty long grey skirt and a black shirt to wear with it. I waffled for a while over whether the grey was appropriate, but they didn't have it in black and I was really running out of options.) Penny was so patient and good, I bought her a cute fluffy sequin-y skirt and some silly-bands as a reward.

Saturday evening, we met Braz and Ripley and Henry for dinner (Adin was at work, so Braz was babysitting her kids) and ate on the deck of a local Mexican place. All four kids were really well-behaved (you know, with allowances for age and personal quirks) and we had a great time. Then we went back to our place where the kids played until Adin arrived. We got all the kids laid down to rest, and then the four of us... played D&D.

Wow, was that fun.

Seriously. Wonderfully. Adin did fantastically well -- she's never gamed before, but aside from a lack of familiarity with the terminology ("What's a THAC0?") and the tools ("Which one is the twenty-sider?") you'd never have known it. She jumped right into the role-playing part of it with both feet. Pretty much literally. ("I'm going to jump out of the tree onto the goblin's back. What do I roll for that?")

Mind, we're playing old-school. Our cleric doesn't have any spells yet and my character only has 3 hit points and Adin's only has 2. I wound up unconscious after the second round of the goblin fight and I'm pretty sure Braz fudged two of every three rolls he made for the rest of the fight to keep Matt's and Adin's characters alive...

But it was still awesome, and we'd have played a lot later if Adin hadn't been up at 5am to go to work that morning. As it was, we packed it in around 11, and they carried Adin's kids off home.

Sunday was dreary and rainy all day, but after Alex's nap, we took the kids down to my parents' to talk over some logistics for the memorial and travel and such, and we all had dinner together -- I had two enormous eggplants from our CSA delivery last week, so I made a pasta bake sort of thing with them that turned out quite good.

I think my parents really appreciated getting to see the kids and their unrestrained enthusiasm and silliness after the last few days of dealing with old people and death and sadness. So I'm glad we did that. It was definitely the right thing to do.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing Advice

I talked to Dad again last night. Grandmom's memorial service will be a week from tomorrow, down in Atlanta. I'm going for certain, though Matt and I are still talking about whether he and the kids will come as well. There's a lot of pros and cons to juggle, there -- emotional support and family togetherness and Matt's desire to pay his respects vs. the kids' likely boredom and lack of understanding/investment and the additional cost and hassle. They'd certainly be distracting, which could be both good and bad.

They've also asked me if I would write a eulogy. I have no idea what to say, honestly. Matt and I had this conversation about it:

"Why me?"

"It's because you're the writer of the family."

"Well, yeah, I know. But I write trashy romances."

"You should probably leave the sweaty man-love out of this one."

"No? You don't think my family would appreciate that?"

"In fact, you should probably leave all the sweaty love out of it."

"No sex in the eulogy. Check. Thanks for the advice, babe."

He's always looking out for me like that.

Additional item to put on the to-do list: buy a black dress. I wonder if I can get away with the dress I wore to the weddings this summer, if I put a black sweater on it. That feels kind of nasty and cheap, though. Well, I promised Penny I'd take her clothes shopping this weekend anyway; I'll see what I can find.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Progress Reports

"So," I said to Penny at dinner last night, "tell me all about school! Did you do anything fun?"

"The only fun thing we did was recess," she said, glumly. "And the monster rules. And coloring in the monster. And resource. And reading, of course."

Gosh. What a bummer of a day. Aheh.


"I'm going to write tonight," I told Matt.

"Okay," he said.

I didn't, actually. But I copied an old unfinished project into a new file and read through it and made edits, and so now I'm all prepared to continue working on it. I'm trying not to plan it out too far in advance, because that seems to kill my projects. So maybe we'll just see where it goes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


My parents made it down to Atlanta on Tuesday, and have spent some time with my Grandmom. The email I got from Dad yesterday said she managed to wake up for five or ten minutes while they were there Tuesday evening, and while she was awake they managed to spoon-feed her a little bit of water and maybe a spoonful of a liquid nutrition supplement -- which was all she'd had that day in the way of food and water. So I don't think she's going to last too much longer.

I really appreciate everyone who sent kind words yesterday (and over the weekend) via various media. It's sad, but it's not a tragedy, even at a personal level. She's not being cut off in the prime of life. She doesn't appear to be in any pain or even discomfort. I was able to see her just a couple of weeks ago, and she knew who I was and I got to hug and kiss her and tell her that I love her, so I won't feel like I failed to say goodbye. Most importantly, it's been several years since she's been the Grandmom that I grew up with and cherished so fiercely (she was, beyond a doubt, my favorite grandparent, just as I was the -- unspoken, but unmistakable -- favorite grandchild). So I'm feeling a little sad for her end, and it's making me a bit scatterbrained and distracted, but I'm mostly getting on with life -- the bad and the good.


I just got word, literally as I was starting this next section, that Grandmom died last night. The nursing home called my uncle and my dad this morning, and Dad called me just now, at 9:45.

I don't know if I'll be going down there, or when. Dad promised to call me back when they, themselves, know more.

Goodbye, Grandmom. I'll miss you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Home Again

Well, that was a roller-coaster of a weekend.

Friday afternoon, I got word that my grandmother had been sent back to the hospital with oxygen deprivation issues; that evening, it turned out that she'd had another, much larger heart attack (though whether the oxygen issues were a cause or an effect, we don't know).

Saturday was a fairly quiet day, and then that afternoon we went over to my parents' for a birthday dinner (covering Sam's, Penny's, Mom's, and John's birthdays). We talked a little about Grandmom, of course: she was stable, but the doctors were recommending hospice care, which means they don't expect her to live another six months.

I started to ask about funeral plans, and basically got cut off: there won't be a funeral or memorial service. Grandmom doesn't have any friends in Georgia, so the only mourners there are the family. There are only a small handful of her old friends left in Texas, too. So there will probably be a family gathering at some point, and there will probably be some personal visits when her ashes are taken back to Texas to be interred with Grandad's. But no real service, and no dates are fixed.

Anyway, that whole conversation only took about half an hour, and the rest of the evening was great. The kids were well-behaved, and everyone had a good time.

Sunday evening was an insane. We met some friends and friends-of-friends for dinner at a medium-posh restaurant. I was a little concerned about the kids' behavior, but they were amazing, actually. I ate wonderful food and talked to friendly people and generally had a fantastic time. When we got home, there was a message on the phone from Dad, so I called back and learned that Grandmom had only been awake for about five minutes total all day Saturday, and hadn't woken up Sunday at all. Dad and Mom were making plans to drive down to Atlanta to await the end and the inevitable paperwork. Well... hell. And when I hung up and sat down at the computer, still processing that, I found I'd received a really wonderful and complimentary comment post on my writing blog. (My first fan mail from someone I didn't already know!) And then Penny's blood sugars were insane (whoo, french fries and other rich, carby foods!) and between that and all the other emotional rubber-banding, I kind of fell apart. Poor Matt.

Monday, we took the kids to the Virginia Living Museum. It was the last day of their dinosaur exhibit, and we thought the kids would enjoy that. Alas, the exhibit was... slightly lame, being all animatronic dinosaurs and not real skeletons, and they kind of frightened Alex. But he was very enthusiastic about much of the rest of the museum. He had a real obsession with turtles going, in fact. Penny was thrilled about every little thing, so I don't think our trip was wasted, even if the dinosaur exhibit wasn't everything we were hoping.

Of course, Alex requires a mid-day nap, so we had to leave before we'd looked at half of what was there to see. We got about two miles down the road and then turned back to get Penny's kit that she'd left behind (we really need to find a way to make it a hands-free bag for these trips), but luckily it was right where we'd left it. So we picked up lunch and dropped by my parents' to eat, and pick up Matt's cell phone that he'd left there on Saturday.

That evening, we had Braz and Adin and Adin's kids over for dinner, and that went really well, actually. We grilled brats and hot dogs and chicken, and ate watermelon and veggies and chips and baked beans. The kids all played together -- even Alex and Henry -- so the adults actually got to talk to each other, which was awesome. The few descents into pouting or whining passed quickly (there's a joke in there somewhere about it being the grownups and not the kids, but I can't quite get there from here.)

After they left, as we were getting Penny ready for bed, Matt and I noticed some goo in the corner of Penny's eye. Which was all red from her rubbing at it. Dammitall... Sure enough, the next morning her eye was swollen and all but crusted shut from goo. No first day of school for Penny! I took her to work with me for a bit, and then took her to the doctor. Conjunctivitis (pink-eye), whee!

But it was mostly better this morning (whatever those drops were the doctor gave us worked fast) so she's in school today. She was insanely excited as I dropped her off in her classroom and snapped a quick picture. I'm working from home today, though, just in case her eye gets worse again and they decide she needs to come home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I've got Penny with me at work this morning. A bit before 9, we'll head over to her school so we can sit down with the nurse and her new teacher and have our annual 504 Plan update, and then at 9:30 is the official start to the school's Open House, so Penny can find her classroom and maybe find out who some of her classmates will be.

There was going to be an end-of-summer party at the daycare tonight, but they canceled it due to the approach of Hurricane Earl. (The hurricane isn't expected to come ashore here, but we'll catch a lot of wind and rain as it brushes by.) Which means I need to figure out what we're having for dinner tonight, as I'd been counting on eating there.

Tomorrow, daycare is closed, so Matt and I will be splitting the day to stay home with the kids. (Unless the hurricane edges are worse than expected, in which case we'll all stay home.) And then Saturday we'll have dinner at my parents' to do all the summer birthdays at once (that would be Sam's and Penny's and Mom's and John's).

Shockingly, we don't have any plans for Sunday or Monday. Yet. I'm sure some will crop up. (If nothing else, this is the last weekend for the VA Living Museum's dinosaur exhibit, which might be fun.)

School starts back up for Penny on Tuesday, which means I'm back to a slightly later schedule for work.

But for right now, Penny's at my office with me, making pictures on printer paper with stickers and highlighters, and begging to come back here after the school Open House instead of taking her to daycare. It's actually sort of tempting. There isn't a lot of work to be done today, so she wouldn't be interrupting me much. Well, we'll see.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little Notes

Too sleepy this morning to do more than make a bunch of little notes.

1) My publisher, Torquere Press, is celebrating its 7th anniversary this month. There are contests and prizes galore, including a scavenger hunt, discounts and specials, drawings for daily gift certificates and weekly gift baskets, and the chance to win a Nook! For more information, check out their contest website. (Contest page is safe for work. I make no promises about the scavenger hunt sites.)

2) Speaking of my publisher, I've actually seen a couple of reviews for my book, here and there. I won't spaz about it here, but I'll probably start collecting them over on the writing blog, so check over there at some point if you're curious.

3) We're up to Penny's last week of summer vacation. She's actually pretty eager for school to start, which is a nice change from last year, even if most of her enthusiasm is motivated by social rather than scholastic concerns. The Open House where kids can find their rooms and meet their teachers will be tomorrow, and at some point (probably tomorrow as well) we'll have the annual meeting to go over her medical plan and talk to the teacher about it.

4) Daycare is closed Friday for a staff day. It's possible to work from home with Penny there, but once you add Alex to the mix, not so much. So Matt and I will be splitting the day. Between the back-to-school stuff and this, I'm missing quite a lot of work this week. It might possibly be a good thing that we don't actually have that much work to do.

5) Had a checkup with the allergy office yesterday, and they declared I was ready to pull back to getting my shots every other week instead of weekly! Six months of that, and then six months at every 3 weeks, and then six months at every 4 weeks, and then I'll be done. Eighteen more months. It's the light at the end of the tunnel.

6) I really, really really want to take a nap. I wonder if anyone would notice if I just crawled under my desk for a couple of hours...