Friday, October 29, 2010

Waiting Game

I'm down to the dregs of the cold, which is to say a little bit of a sniffle and an occasional cough. Which is good, because we've got a busy few days ahead of us.

Fall Festival tonight, errands and Art Day tomorrow morning, visiting friends tomorrow afternoon, and of course all the excitement of Hallowe'en on Sunday.

Which I think I already talked about in my last post, so I apologize for the repetition.

I know my posting here has been kind of sporadic. I expect it will continue to be for a while.

I'm playing a waiting game right now at work. Two documents I'm working for next week need new screenshots. (One of them just needs two screenshots; the other needs about sixteen of them, because the author stole a chapter from another product's installation guide on how to install Windows Server 2008, which is fine -- except that this particular product doesn't use Server 2008, it uses Server 2005. So while the actual instructions don't vary much between the two, all the pictures are wrong.)

I did all my paperwork yesterday. Well, all of it that I could do. There's a few documents that I need to scan to PDF, but our copier/printer/scanner is broken, so that task is on hold until the repair guy can get out here. So now I'm just waiting on those screenshots, really.

I need to swing by the bank today and get my passport out of the safe deposit box. Not for any exciting reason, though, alas. My company is issuing everyone a new smartcard badge, only being the company that it is, it's doing it in the most ridiculously byzantine manner possible. So in order to get my new badge, I've got an appointment for next Wednesday to drive to a location about 45 minutes away (at least I don't have to go all the way up to one of the NoVA offices, I guess) and present not one, not two, but three forms of identification: my old badge, my driver's license, and either a passport or official birth certificate. (There are some other options, but those are the prime candidates.) Which, I have to say, is simply absurd. Turning in the old badge makes sense. Showing my driver's license even makes sense, if they want to make sure I'm me.

But seriously? Passport/birth certificate? WTF? Who do you think you're fooling, here? This badge is not going to gain me access to secure locations or classified data, here. It's a key to the building (where secure data is required to be kept under lock and key) and a login for my encrypted laptop. Oooo, a mis-issued badge could get the Bad Guys access to the company intranet, where they could be just as stymied as me by the completely labyrinthine corporate sites!

And seriously? You're making everyone in our office drive an hour and a half, round-trip, for what should be a 15-minute photo-and-printing job? We write software to issue smartcards for the military, stupid company, we know how it's done. We know how excessively complicated you're making it, and we know how stupid it is that one guy can't pack up the camera and a card printer and come up here to our office and get 90% of us in one day.

God, I hate bureaucracy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shaping Up

The weekend is shaping up to be busy, already.

Friday evening, I think Matt and I are splitting up to take the kids to separate Fall Festival events at various locations.

Saturday, Matt is leaving bright and early (really. like, at 6am) to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity in DC with Braz. I'll get up slightly later with the kids, watch some TV, eat breakfast, and then take Penny down to my brother's for an "art lesson" with him. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with Alex in the meantime -- maybe we'll just go visit my folks for an hour or so. I'm not sure exactly when Matt will get home, but the rally ends at 3, so I don't expect to see him until 7 or 8 at the earliest. Later if they stop to do something crazy like, say, eat.

Sunday, of course, is Hallowe'en, and I expect Penny to be in full crazy mode all day. Which will either be enormous fun or hugely irritating. Maybe I should come up with a craft/project/activity for the afternoon to reduce the crazymaking potential.

Somewhere in there, we'll need to carve our pumpkins.

And watch Nightmare Before Christmas.

And eat some candy.

Of course.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


What I'd hoped was an allergy attack appears to be an honest-to-god cold. I should've been suspicious when I got sniffly; my allergies usually live in my ears, not in my nose.

The good news is that the sore throat from the post-nasal drip is pretty much gone. The bad news is that it's been replaced with that bricks-for-sinuses leadhead sensation and a persistent, if mild, headache.

I took some Tylenol Cold & Sinus before bed last night. One of these days, I'll remember that nothing really works on my colds and that, whether it's listed as "daytime" or "nighttime", it's going to make me groggy but not allow me to get any real rest. Bleh.

And at 4:30, Penny woke up with a coughing attack and kept both Matt and I awake for a good while.

So when the alarm went off at 6... I rolled over and groaned and fumbled for a kleenex so I could breathe, and then decided that I can excuse myself from the morning workouts when I'm feeling miserable and sick.

If I didn't have documents to cover, I'd have thought seriously about staying home and going back to bed today. As it is, I've got six documents sitting in the hopper. Two of them have to be delivered tomorrow, one goes next Monday (but is huge, and there are three others that will be going with it that I haven't received yet) and the other three are advance prepwork for a massive software delivery in a couple of weeks. I'll also find out today whether one of our customers is going to want an unfinished software delivery tomorrow (...yeah, really. I told the manager that if they do that to me, then someone owes me a drink) so that could be a big scramble, too.

That's not even considering the paperwork that's stacking up and waiting for me to have time to get to it.

On the plus side, the ugly documents that were originally on the schedule for Friday have been pushed down a couple of weeks, so if I get through Wednesday's deliveries intact and the deliveries for Monday are in reasonable shape, maybe I can work from home or even take a couple of extra hours off on Thursday or Friday.

Monday, October 25, 2010


It was a really good weekend -- we enjoyed visiting with Rachael and Rimas and their adorable little girl. I took many cute pictures while we were at Pumpkinville -- check out my Flickr account to see!

I'd link them straight here, but blah blah blah insane amounts of work and also blah blah blah IS dragons not letting me see Flickr myself.

It was a good weekend, though, just the right amount of Stuff To Do balanced with quiet evenings. On the other hand, I had this work situation looming over me like the sword of Damocles the whole time, so I never really quite managed to relax. Every time I started to, I remembered this crap situation waiting for me, lurking just out of the corner of my eye, like a spiderweb I'm trying to ignore.

And to make matters even more fun, my allergies hit with a vengeance yesterday -- I spent the whole day with a post-nasal-drip sore throat. I'm drugged up today, but still sniffly and sore.

It's going to be a completely crap few weeks. I apologize now if my blog posts are extra-short, whiny and/or even entirely absent.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I bought this Hallowe'en Shrinky Dink kit for Penny, on a whim. I fondly remembered Shrinky Dinks from when I was a kid and thought she might enjoy it. (I mentioned it to Matt, who said he'd never heard of it. I was shocked -- I thought every child of the 70s had Shrinky Dinks!)

They're just as fun as I remember. For an hour or so, Penny colored and I cut, punched, baked, and assembled little plastic Hallowe'en decorations. We peered in the oven to watch and marvel as the plastic sheets curled and shriveled and re-formed at a quarter their original size. Then Penny hung them on the little decorative tree, and we were both as pleased as punch with the results; only one of the two dozen or so pieces got stuck to itself and refused to flatten.

I saved the scraps that were big enough that we might be able to do something with them, so maybe later we'll try some freehand pictures and see how those go.

I'm definitely getting more of these. And I might even share some of it with Penny.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Time is a funny thing. It compresses oddly. Things stack.

The document person at my office is leaving for another job. Tomorrow is her last day. As near as I can tell, the job posting for her replacement still isn't posted.

Which means I'm looking at doing all the documentation for my office for at least the next month. And picking up a lot of the slack for another month or so beyond that, as the new person gets settled in and trained.

And I won't say my days were already full, because they weren't, but time is a funny thing, and the times when I was busy before? Those are the same times that the document person was busy, which means that I'll be spending the next few months swinging between insanely busy and dead bored. Oh, goodie.

Penny's school is having its Fall Festival tomorrow night. We won't be going, because Matt's sister and her family are coming in to visit us for the weekend. We're not sure what the plans are with them, entirely, though. I thought a trip to Pumpkinville could be fun, or maybe the Virginia Living Museum's Hallowe'en events. They said something at one point about taking the kids so Matt and I could get away, too, though I don't know if that's still in the cards or not -- it sounds nice, but with such a short visit, I don't know if there will be time.

Penny begged me this morning to take her to the middle school's Fall Festival instead, which is next Friday... and lines up exactly with Alex's daycare's Fall Festival, which I'd assumed we would be going to. (Matt and I may split up and take the kids to the separate festivals, since I suspect there will be little at the middle school festival to interest Alex, and similarly not much at the daycare to hold Penny's attention.)

Note to self: plan a quick-and-easy dinner for next Friday that we can eat as soon as everyone gets home.

Also next weekend, Matt's going up to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity, and then of course there's Hallowe'en the next day...

Breathing? Completely optional, at this point.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I'm wearing my purple today for the GLBT Spirit Day in memory of the teens who were hounded and bullied literally to death, and in support of kids everywhere who have been taught that it's wrong to be what they are.

I have said it before and I will say it again: what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business, and thinking it's yucky is not sufficient excuse for banning it altogether. We're adults, for pity's sake: if someone offers you something you don't want, say "no thanks" and move on with your life. It's a rule that applies equally to vegetables, media, and sex. Say no (politely, if you were raised right!) and move on.

Nor is religion a valid reason to ban anything in a country founded on religious tolerance; by all means follow whatever rules your deity of choice has laid on you, but those rules have no place in civil law.

In the meantime, my publisher's LiveJournal community is celebrating the ruling against the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. That's a fight that's far from over, and some are worried that the ruling will end up being a step in the wrong direction, but for now, we're enjoying it.

In other news... Alex has stopped referring to my back-scratcher as a "back'n scratch'n stick" which makes me slightly sad, because "back'n scratch'n stick was just adorable. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze him right where he is. Two-year-olds are supposed to be difficult and horrendous, but Alex is sweet and adorable and wonderful most of the time, and when he's not, there's usually a pretty clear reason for it. I love this age, and I'll miss it when it's gone. How much longer is the word "adorable" going to be my go-to adjective for him? How much longer is he going to run pell-mell into my arms the first time he sees me each morning and evening, or dissolve into a giggle fit when I'm tucking him into bed at night?

Memories to be treasured. He'll be a three-year-old in just two months.

Which is not to say I'm not looking forward to seeing what the future brings for him, and not just because the end of diapers and naps will make planning our afternoons so much easier. Penny gets more complex and interesting with every passing day. Sometimes when we're talking, I forget that she's only seven, her thoughts can be so clear and straightforward. In the last few weeks I've had fascinating conversations with her about acting and theater, about death, about God and religion and faith vs. proof, about college and growing up, and (just to bring it all full circle) about gay marriage. (She brought that up on her own, not me.)

And they're only going to get smarter and cooler and more interesting as they grow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Into the Breach

Back to work, yippee-ki-yi-ay.

Or something like that.

We had a very nice weekend, actually. Went down to Chesapeake for Jess's birthday party on Saturday, and Alex even woke up in time that he and I were there for the start of the movie! Of course, popcorn and ice cream gave him a case of the wiggles, on top of it being a 3-D movie that he couldn't keep the glasses on for, so he and I left the theater about halfway through the movie and ended up riding the mall's escalator up and down about forty-seven times before I convinced him to decamp to the food court so I could get some dinner. He even willingly ran over to the play area while I ate, and I enjoyed watching him run off all that ice cream and sugar.

Then we went over to KT and Kevin's, and Penny resumed playing with Jess while the grownups chatted. Eventually, Matt took Alex home, and I got to stay and chat until we finally pried Penny and Jess apart around 9, so Penny didn't go to bed until well after 10. I promised the girls we'd plan a sleepover for some point in the next month or so, so I guess I'd better check my calendar for November.

Sunday afternoon, we took the kids over to visit my parents, which was really nice. My dad hasn't seen the kids for a month or so, what with all the travel he's been doing, so he really enjoyed himself. We stayed for dinner and set the kids up with a movie so we could talk, and generally had a very nice evening.

So I ought to be rested and ready to tackle the week.

Yah, not so much with the "ready" for much of anything, to be honest. What's on the list this week?

- Farewell luncheon for my minion today.
- Two different code peer reviews.
- Big ol' stack o' paperwork.
- I'm about 1/3 of the way through a proofread that's due the middle of next week.
- Eight docs for work to be reviewed and processed and delivered, more than half of which are fairly large.
- Software for work to be processed and delivered.
- Need to work out a schedule to balance my downtime at home a little.
- Matt's sister and her husband and their kid are coming to visit this weekend.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Matt's company picnic was mostly fun. Somehow we'd gotten the wrong address and started out wrong, but once we got there, things were in full swing. Braz and Adin and their collection of kids arrived just as we did, so the kids had a grand time running around together, right up until Penny got her leg hurt (a bruise and a scrape, but one of those really bad surface scrapes where even the air makes it sting, poor kid).

But once she calmed down, the rest of the evening was actually quite fun. We ate a metric ton of food, and cheered Braz on in the pie-eating contest (in which he took first place) and sang karaoke (well, I didn't, but I'd meant to -- we just didn't have time) and then cheered on Matt and Braz in the three-legged race (in which they took first place). By then, Alex was starting to crack under the pressure of tiredness, so we packed up the kids and headed home, got them to bed, and then sat up until 11 or so chatting with Karen.

I'm not sure about today, though. I'm obscenely, draggingly exhausted, despite a pretty reasonable night's rest. I didn't get a shower last night, so I feel vaguely grungy. Alex suddenly decided about two blocks from school that he didn't want to go, and instead of his usual cheerful hug-and-kiss-and-bye-Mom! he cried when I picked him up out of the car and clung and cried when I took him inside and wept some more when I put him down with his teachers. "I don't want to go to school!" he sobbed.

"Why, baby? Is there someone mean to you?" Head shake no. "Is there something yucky?" Head shake no. "...You just miss Mommy and Daddy?" Nod.

Sigh. I tried to reassure him, and then walked away, because staying was just making it worse. I know he'll calm down and be fine within half an hour, but I really have no idea what sparked this off, and I hope it's just that last night's festivities wore him out and he was still tired, and not an honest-to-god phase that I'm going to have to deal with for weeks, because I hate having to walk away from a crying kid.

So today has plenty of room for improvement, already. Whee.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blogger Down

Hrm, it appears that Blogger is down this morning, but such is my ingrained morning routine that I can't really conceive of starting a day at work without writing a blog post. Email posting it is, and I apologize if the formatting is completely out of whack or it takes forever to get posted.

I wound up adapting a persimmon applesauce recipe and serving it over my chicken. The apples mushed, but the persimmons held together, so if I was actually making applesauce, I'd have to puree it, I think. The kids liked the persimmons but didn't like the applesauce part -- I think I put in a smidge too much lemon juice for their tastes. (I like very sour applesauce. I tried to go easy on it for them, but I guess next time I'll just use the cider and leave out the lemon juice until I've sorted out their portion.) Anyway, it was a qualified success, so now I know what I can do with the rest of the persimmons, if Matt doesn't eat them. (They went well with the apples, but I still don't like them raw. They taste just a little too much like cantaloupe.)

Sleep score: I had a spider dream last night (yes, thank you, subconscious, for that fascinating insight) that woke me up on a shriek (sorry about that, Matt) around 3am, and then Penny had a nightmare at 5:45, which was just close enough to morning that I couldn't get all the way back to sleep. Decaf just might not do it, today.

Stuff on my plate right now:
- Matt gently nudged me to get a crowbar and pry the built-up mail out of my slot in our desk, so I've got... *gets a ruler* ...a three-inch-tall stack of mail to sort through.
- Three code reviews to do paperwork for at work.
- Three new projects to do contract start-up paperwork for at work.
- A novel to edit for my publisher. (Not one that I wrote. This is that editing job I mentioned a while back.)
- At least three stories of varying length and complexity (not so) politely waiting their turns to be written.
- A stack of publicity leaflets I need to take to the post office to be sent to my publisher so they can take them to cons.
- Penny wants me to finish putting up the Hallowe'en decorations. The ones we've got now are apparently not scary enough for her.
- Need to print directions to Matt's office picnic. That's tonight, so I really ought to move that item higher up on the priority list.
- I haven't done a post over on my writing blog for quite a while, so I should really get around to that soon.
- Need to take Penny shopping to get a birthday present for Jess. Though Jess's party is late enough on Saturday that we can go get the present Saturday morning.

At least I don't have any obligations for lunchtime today -- no gym, no allergy shot. I might do that run to the post office, but that's not too much of a hardship, since they've got a nice automated kiosk right in the front. And they're across the street from Trader Joe's, so I might swing by there and see if they've got any good apples. I've been on a real apples-and-cheese kick lately. Or if I stay at the office, I can leave early! Mmmm, leaving early...

And as mentioned, Matt's company picnic is tonight, which will either be fun or miserable, depending almost entirely on the weather. But at least if the weather is crap, we can stick around for an hour or so and then head home and kibbitz with Karen, who's coming along with us for the evening. So I'm looking forward to that. If only I didn't have to go to work tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


So, rather than another boring complaint about lack of sleep/lack of time/hating my job, I'm begging for help.

Our CSA box included about a pound of persimmons last week, and I want to do something with them before they start to go bad.

I don't really like persimmons raw and by themselves, so I thought I'd cook up something with them, but all the recipes I'm finding either a) make desserts, and/or b) need at least 2 pounds of the dang things. Seriously? Every other fruit in the universe has been used to make chicken and pork glazes or sauces; surely persimmons can be used that way, too!

I'm looking for something that will use between 1/2 to 1 pound of the dang things, which doesn't call for too much added sugar or starch. Unfortunately, I really don't know much about them: do they stew? Do they bake? Can I substitute them for apples? Would they mix with apples?

Help me out here, internets!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Keeping Score

So I went to the dentist yesterday for my tooth.

Bad: I'd actually chipped the tooth itself, not a filling. (-10)

Good: It was a relatively clean chip, with no cracks running deeper into the tooth, so it only required a simple filling to fix. (+5)

Bad: They couldn't fix it right away. (-3)

Good: But they could see me later the same day. (+2)

Good: The timing of the second appointment made it mostly pointless for me to go back to the office, but left just enough wiggle room for me to go to the gym. (+7)

Bad: Novocaine = inability to drink or eat without dribbling, plus also the weirdest looking smile ever, and it didn't wear off completely until nearly bedtime. (-5)

Good: The dentist and assistant rocking out to what they could hear leaking out through my iPhone's headphones. (I had it turned up pretty loud so I could hear it over the drill.) (+5)

Bad: When I met the dentist for the first time (my regular dentist was booked, so I'd agreed to see one of the others, a new guy), my first thought was, "Holy crap, what are you, twelve?" Which thought was immediately followed by, "Oh shit, I think that means I'm officially old." (GAME OVER)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chip Off the Ol'...

I had some popcorn last night. And as usual, I got a bit of shell caught between some teeth. No biggie; it's a known hazard of popcorn.

So I got out the floss to try to clear it out. Only it didn't work. I couldn't even get the floss into the space, much less use it to pry out the popcorn. So I resorted to a toothpick, which eventually pried the popcorn free...

Along with a bit of what I assume is the filling from that tooth. At least, I hope it's the filling, because otherwise it's a bit of tooth. Apparently, I'm getting old.

This morning, while I was fixing Penny's breakfast, another little chip worked free.

And I'm pretty sure this is the tooth that I was told would need a crown when it came time to replace the filling.

Imagine my delight. Dental work: it's not just painful, it's expensive, too!

The dentist can't see me until Monday. The tooth doesn't hurt, at least not yet, so that's something, anyway.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Yep, I'm tired. Penny had a bad dream around 3:30 and wanted me to come tuck her back into bed. She woke me up by tickling my neck, of all things.

Life is chugging right along, though, as usual. We've got something happening every weekend for the rest of the month: a D&D game, a birthday party, a family visit, and then Hallowe'en. Plus I expect this weekend I'll make a run to the storage unit for my fall decorations box and Penny can help me decorate the house, and somewhere in there we need to squeeze in a trip to Pumpkinville (possibly something we can do with the visiting family).

Alex has had two full days at daycare without needing a diaper change! He's less vigilant at home (especially when there is TV to be watched and dinner to be eaten) but I'm okay with taking it slowly. If he can get into the habit at school, during the day, then eventually it will spill over to home as well. In the meantime, he's inordinately cute about it, every time he goes to the potty and pulls down his pants to show me that there's still a picture on his pullup!

I realized last night that I haven't so much as uncapped my camera since the beginning of September. I've taken a few quick snaps on my iPhone, but no real photography. I need to do something about that. Especially with fall in the air and Hallowe'en on its way. That's prime photography, right there. Maybe I'll take a half-day from work or something, sometime, and wander around with my camera.

Of course, I also haven't touched my scrapbook stuff in months, either. I need to get caught up, or else pack it up. Or possibly get caught up and then pack it up. I'm not sure.

I'm too sleepy to be terribly coherent. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Yep, made it back into WoW last night. It was surprising how much I'd forgotten. And man-oh-man have a lot of things changed.

But that was actually a sort of good thing. I'd decided back before I quit that I should probably get a mouse and completely retrain my movement. Which would be near-impossible with two-plus years of muscle memory fresh and backing it. It's a little easier now that it's not so fresh. (Though still not easy. I keep reaching for the arrow keys.) And I'm still using the mouse for camera control but not movement.

Not that it matters much, as I'll never have the time to be a raider, even if I were to acquire the gear and skills. I'm very definitely a casual player.

Another blessing-in-disguise: All my add-ons are out of date. Which is actually great, because the WoW interface has incorporated a lot of the things I'd had add-ons for in the first place. And a lot of them were pointless cruft. So getting to start over from scratch on that will be a bit of a hassle, but should definitely be an improvement once it's done.

I wound up logging into my old main just to chat with people -- mostly Matt and Karen, though the raiding folk managed to squeak out a hello before they got sucked into whatever it was they were doing. I didn't actually play her, though. I honestly have no idea what half her buttons even DO anymore -- I'll have to take her back to a low-level zone to remember how to play her. After I fix her talent tree, that is. So to get my actual play fix, I created a new character. That character's on another server, though, so I can check in on Rachel from time to time.

I'm still going to need to work out some kind of schedule. Matt was telling me that he reserves Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays to do at least one thing that is not WoW -- that is, he can play, but only after he does something else first, which is a reasonable idea, except that both Tuesdays and Thursdays are TV nights for us right now. Which means if I copy his schedule, I'm still not finding time to do anything productive. So I think for me, TV nights are definitely WoW nights, and I need to reserve a night or two to definitely not be WoW nights, or I'll never make my editing deadlines.

Don't know if I'd mentioned this: a few months back, my publisher put out a call for editors, and I threw my name in the hat. They sent me a few pages as a test sample, and I marked it up like crazy and sent it back. I didn't hear anything for quite a while, so I sort of assumed that my lack of editing experience showed somewhere: I missed something important, or I was too picky, or something, and they'd settled on someone else. But last week, they contacted me to let me know they wanted to bring me aboard as an editor/proofreader, and was I still interested?

Well, heck yes! Not sure how much will fit in with everything else going in my life, so I asked them to start me off slow, with a novel or two and a couple of short stories a month, and if I have time for more, I'll let them know. It's not going to pay enough to let me quit my day job, but it'll help feed my gadget habit, and it's also a little something for the resumé.

I'm weirdly excited about it. I like editing fiction. I have a sneaking suspicion it's one reason I have so much trouble finishing my stories, in fact: I just keep re-editing them. There's always something I can do to make it better.

Anyway, between that and the WoW, I guess I won't be able to complain for a good while about being bored, eh?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So. Even though I quit playing World of Warcraft a while back, I still follow a couple of sites (mostly because they make me laugh). So I knew the Cataclysm expansion was in beta. And I'd been planning on playing it. What I hadn't gotten around to deciding was whether to start back up before the expansion, to re-learn the game and re-train my muscle memory and such, or just wait for the expansion to come out first.

Well, Blizzard made their official announcement recently: Cataclysm will be released in two months, on December 7.

And I started to ponder the decision. Before, or after? Before, or after?

I think what decided me, really, was the world events. Burning Crusade (the 1st expansion) had a few world events that led into it (though I didn't participate much, being a brand-new player at the time). The 2nd expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, had a lot of stuff that happened in-game before it was released, and it was a lot of fun, even just to watch.

And here's a dumb thing that's going to sound like an exceptionally lame rationalization, but it's kind of true anyway: I wrote better when I was playing the game. I was near to tearing my hair out about the amount of my time it sucked up and the general lack of writing time it left me, but when I did write, I wrote. I don't know how that works. Maybe just that the game was enough of a stress-reliever from real life that I stopped blocking myself? I don't know.

But I guess I'll be finding out if it still works, because last night I fired up the Downloader and had it start retrieving patches. And this morning, I created a Battle.Net account and merged my old WoW account into it, and downloaded the authenticator app for my iPhone. And Matt sent me a Scroll of Resurrection.

So tonight or tomorrow, I guess, I'll be back in the game. I'll have to figure out how to avoid dumping all my spare time down the rabbit hole, and I'm still waffling between dusting off my old characters or starting a brand new one. Those of you who play, tell me what server you're on these days and who your current main is, so I can say hi when I get there.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rainy Date

Nice weekend. Saturday we met up with Braz and Adin at the park for Ripley's birthday party. The kids had grand fun running all over, despite a few minor spills. Then we went over to Ruby Tuesday's for an early dinner (thank goodness, because 4 adults and 6 kids is a bit hectic).

And then I went over to Adin's to babysit their four so Braz and Adin could go to a party. That provided some moments of hysterical silliness.

Funny thing #1: Ripley and Sarah announced that they were going to put on a puppet show "for the grownups."

"Grownups?" I said. "Is there more than one?"

"Well," Emma said casually, "I am almost to double digits."

Funny thing #2: After I got the girls put to bed, I started to set up a little station at the dining table so I could do some writing. Just as I was getting set up, Ripley came out. "I need some water," she said. "I want a cup of water with five ice cubes."

I remembered this as one of Ripley's Things, so I wasn't going to question it. But she continued anyway. "If you do," she said, as enticingly as possible, "I'll give you this pumpkin sticker!"

Funny thing #3: After telling me they expected to be back around 11, and after my assuring them that I'd be fine and they could stay out as late as they wanted if they'd just send a text message so I wouldn't worry... Braz and Adin were home barely past 10. There might have been some gentle mocking on my part, there.

Sunday was turn about babysitting: Matt and I dropped Penny and Alex off at Braz's to play and we went down to the Newport News Park Fall Festival. The weather was not as nice as we had been hoping -- it was, in fact, alternately drizzly and rainy all day. But I got to look at cute crafts (and nearly bought a bunch) and I did buy a dried-bean soup mix that sounded tasty, and we picked up a handful of freebie DIY crafts for Penny. Then we watched a short magic show (the magician had a monkey!) and ate a lot of unhealthy fair food. Mmm, fair food.

I really liked the whole trading babysitting thing. It's not often that Matt and I get time together without the kids, and hardly ever on the weekends. We definitely must do more of this.

If the weather had been nicer, we could've stayed a lot longer, but as it was, I think we got back to Braz's just in time, because Alex was starting to crumple from lack of nap. We got them home, put Alex down to rest and sent Penny next door to play with Ray, and then Matt started the laundry while I ran to the grocery store.

Braz and Adin and Adin's kids came over for dinner, and that worked pretty well, too. We had grilled cheese and tomato soup, which was supposed to be a concession to the picky eater. But apparently she doesn't eat grilled cheese, either, so next time I'll just go with my first impulse, which was chili. If she's going to turn her nose up at it anyway, it might as well be something everyone else can really get into.

So now it's back to work for the week. I'm already off on the wrong foot, having sloshed grounds into the coffee bucket, realized it's status report week (which is full of annoying administrivia for me to do), and also realized that I'm going to be taking meeting minutes for the managers' meeting this morning, which I also hate to do. But at least I remembered to bring a book for the gym!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Anecdotes and Shameless Plugging

The tip of my nose is red.

And painful. It feels like I am either about to sprout the world's most humongous zit, or I somehow bruised a tiny spot just at the tip of my nose. I have no idea which it is -- it's been like this for several days, so if it was a zit, I'd think it would have popped up by now, and if it was a bruise, I'd think it would be getting better.

But in the meantime, I look like the caricature of a drunkard, with my red-tipped nose.


As Matt said, we appear to be raising something of a brutal realist of a child. He got to look through Penny's writing journal at Back-to-School night, in which the kids answer questions and draw pictures. One question posed was, "What will you be like when you are 100 years old?" Penny's response: "When I am 100 years old, I will be dead and rotten."

Well then.


Alex has latched onto Penny's favorite game of pretending to be a family of ___, filling in the blank with whatever she's currently thinking about. Family of dragons, cats, horses, dinosaurs, lions, ghosts, whatever. Then we all have to say what kind of ___ we are. "I'm a white kitten." "I'm a blue dragon that breathes ice." "I'm a triceratops." Like that. Just lately, it's been vampires on Penny's mind.

The other day, riding in the car, Alex said, apropos of nothing: "We be a family of vampires?"

"Sure, kiddo, we can be a family of vampires."

"I'm a T-rex vampire!"

...Well. I guess he wins, then.


Last night, Penny was reading a book from the library. "Mom? Is this guy a prince?" She held up the book to show me the classic actor-with-skull Hamlet pose.

"Um, kind of," I said. "It's a play about a prince."

"Why is he holding a skull?"

"It's a very famous scene from a very famous play."

"Do you know it?"

"Yep. I've read it four times, and seen it performed a lot."

"What's it about?"

...How would you try to summarize Hamlet for a 7-year-old? Like much great literature, it's got a shocking amount of sex and violence. I did, in fact, do my best to lay out the basic plot (using our own family to illustrate the ick factor of suddenly discovering that your uncle has become your stepfather), and not leaving out that Hamlet pretends to go mad, then actually (possibly, depending on your interpretation) goes mad, definitely drives Ophelia mad and to suicide, and that by the end of the play, pretty much everyone is dead.

(...tying into her new mild morbid streak and the previous anecdote about her, I suppose.)

Then we looked at what was actually in her book. The picture was of one of the characters' grandfathers, who had been an actor. So I tried to explain to her about how, because it's such a complicated and difficult part to play, a lot of actors want to play Hamlet, because if they do a good job, it's a big achievement for them. So by having a picture in her book of this guy's grandfather as Hamlet, they were showing us that he was actually a really good actor.

Penny constantly surprises me with how smart she is. I was really impressed at how much she seemed to understand of what I was telling her, though of course, I doubt she got it all. When she'd finished reading her book, she looked up at me and said, "Mom? When can I see Hamlet?"

Ah, sex and violence sings its siren song, even to the 7-year-old set. I told her we'd talk about it again when she was in high school.


I discovered last night, quite by accident, that my ebook Of One Mind has been released to online distributors and is now available at Amazon.Com, AllRomance ebooks, Coffee Time Romance, and probably other distributors that I don't know about. (It's even on sale at Coffee Time -- if you haven't yet, you can pick it up there for only $2.99!)

I know several friends have picked it up (even one or two who have no intention of actually reading it, just to be supportive, which is definitely above and beyond the call of duty!) but I have one smallish request for those of you who did read it... Pretty please take ten seconds to click through and rate the book? Or even take two minutes and write a quick customer review? By all means be anonymous and honest if you didn't like it, but people are more likely to pick up a book on a whim if they see that other people have also done so. I'd really appreciate it!

And if I haven't said it before: to everyone who bought my book, thank you so much for your support. It really means a lot to me!