Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The first day back from a vacation, even a short one, is not just like a Monday. It's Monday ++. I've been in the office for over an hour as I type this, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down at my desk.

So I'm going to cheat a bit. Instead of writing a journal entry, I'm going to paste in the notes I took while I was there, and then splice in some photos where they seem appropriate. Sorry for being lame. Tomorrow, maybe I'll have time to write something.

Friday, 3:00pm
Fairly quick trip... Thank goodness, since Army guy on plane took the center armrest and then some, and someone near us was flatulent. On the ground by noon, in the car by 1, and in the hotel by 2. (Hotel would've been faster, but there was roadwork on 14th Street that made traffic insane. Note to self: don't take 14th unless you have to... And this is a mostly grid city, so you don't have to.)

Went out looking for food -- hotel minibar has predictably redonkulous prices. Found a mall/food court as close as next door with a wide variety of options. Also turned out, once I was inside, to connect directly to the hotel. Good to know tomorrow when I head out in search of coffee and something to tide me over until late breakfast. For now, since my food so far had been a large coffee and a small cookie on the plane, I got Chinese food. Intended it to be lunch and a snack later, to tide me over to dinner (dinner reservations are for 6:30, so I'll be shocked if we eat before 7:30) but the whole thing disappeared. Luckily, the mall also has a convenience store. After looking at the minibar's prices, 7-11 prices seem quite reasonable. Only $1 for a candy bar, instead of $5? Sure!

It's 3ish now, so I'm trying to decide whether to go visit Grandmom or just stay put and rest a little.

I ended up not going to see Grandmom today. I stayed in the hotel and read, then I changed into nicer clothes and decided to walk down to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. I waffled over that for a while, but it was only 8 blocks. I figured, what the heck. It turned out to be a fantastic decision, because on the way back, I wound up taking a bunch of pictures of Atlanta at night that I hope will turn out to be really cool.

The rehearsal dinner wasn't nearly as boring as I was expecting it to be -- saved largely by the fact that a lot of the groomsmen were very friendly and outgoing. I wound up sitting with Meghan and her fiance, and one of the groomsmen and his girlfriend, and the flower girl and her father. It was a nice group, actually, well-suited for conversation all around (though I think the flower girl was quite bored -- almost made me with I'd brought Penny, if not Alex). The three guys were all geeks, so they talked tech a lot. Meghan's fiance and the girlfriend are both originally from the same country (South Africa), and the girlfriend is studying to be a teacher.

The food was wonderful, speeches were made, and I got to see all the cousins and their respective Significant Others. (Even Craig, who doesn't much like to even admit that he likes girls, had a girlfriend along!)

I checked my phone about halfway through, and found voicemail from Sam -- it turns out I was wrong and she and John ARE in town for the wedding, though they were too tired from the drive to come to the rehearsal dinner. But I'll see them at the family breakfast tomorrow, and afterward, the three of us are planning to go visit with Grandmom. I'll bring along the iPad so I can show her pictures. After that, I told them they're welcome to hang out with me here at the hotel. It puts a bit of a crimp in my plan to lounge and read and/or write, but honestly, by the time we've done a late breakfast, and then gone out to visit Grandmom, and then come back, I expect there will only be a couple of hours left until we have to head out for the wedding, anyway. So that's the plan for tomorrow. Maybe I'll do some writing in the morning, before I head over to Bill and Sharon's.

Saturday, 8:00am
The bed was comfy, but unfamiliar, so I was awake at 5:30, dammit. At least I got to lounge around in bed and read. I got up around 7 or so and got dressed, then went down to the mall in search of coffee -- I remember seeing a Starbuck's when I was wandering yesterday.

The mall was technically open, but almost none of the shops in it were. As near as I can tell, the mall exists mostly to service the office buildings on the floors above it, so a lot of the shops don't even open on the weekends at all -- including the bagel place I'd been thinking about for breakfast tomorrow. Oh, well... The Starbuck's was only accessible if I left the mall and wandered around the block on the outside, as near as I could tell. Feeling lazy, I stopped at the only other open place that I could see, which was the Greek gyro place. They were advertising breakfast combos, but since I'm going to Bill & Sharon's at 10 for a family breakfast (call it brunch, since I doubt we'll eat before 11) I didn't get anything. I really just wanted a coffee to counteract the lack of sleep and to tide me over until then, and also to break a $20 so I'd have a few ones to tip the valet when I get my car. Greek coffee does not fool around, though. It took 4 packs of Splenda and 2 creamers to make it palatable, but I'm awake now!

Great good gods, where do I even begin?

So around 9:40, I left the room to head over to Bill and Sharon's. Which turned out to be a bit too early, as I pulled into their driveway at 9:48. And then I realized there were probably quite a few cars on their way and I wasn't sure I wanted my car to be trapped in their very steep driveway, so I pulled back out and parked around the corner. I was still a bit early, but there were already plenty of people there, so I didn't feel too bad about it. Sam was there, but John wasn't -- he'd forgotten the battery for his camera, so turned around and headed back to their hotel, 1/2 hour away. (Oy...) If he'd thought to check with me first, I'd have loaned him my spare. Oh, well, live and learn.

Eventually, John got back and he and Sam and I started talking about their niece's wedding in July and their big vacation trip. Eventually, at around 11, Bill came over, holding a phone, and gestured for us to join him in a slightly quieter corner of the house. It turned out that the hospital, which had told him that probably on Monday or Tuesday they'd release Grandmom to the geriatric ward for further observation, had decided that she's ready to go back to her nursing home. Today.

So it's 11am. We haven't had "breakfast" yet. Bill has to be at the church at 3. And the hospital wants him to come and discharge Grandmom. Aheh. Eventually, we decided that John and Sam and I would go over to the hospital with Bill and take her back to her nursing home, and then the three of us "kids" would stay with Grandmom for a bit so that Bill can bolt for the church. The hospital promised to have her ready to discharge by noon. We chivvied everyone into eating "breakfast", finally, around 11:30, and then departed for the hospital sometime after 12.

We got to the hospital, and amazingly, the discharge paperwork was actually all done and ready for Bill's signatures. But Grandmom wasn't dressed yet, because the orderlies were blowing off the nurse, or something. So I went in and helped her out.

I expect the low point of this trip is going to be having to help put a diaper on my grandmother.

Or maybe it's the bit how, when I walked into the room and cheerfully announced, "Hi, Grandmom! It's Liz! How are you feeling?" she just looked at me blankly.

At one point, while I was trying to button her shirt for her, she pressed her fingers to her temples. I asked if her head hurt, and she responded that she was just frustrated. I'm not sure I've ever seen her admit to that much weakness before.

But finally, she was pretty much ready to go. By the time she was dressed, she had worked out who I was, and was even smiling slightly from time to time. Her smile got big when John and Sam came in, which was nice to see. She took hold of my hand and didn't let go for a good fifteen minutes.

And then we hung around for another half hour while the nurse and Bill attempted to locate Grandmom's shoes and earrings. Which they didn't. No surprise there. At least I had my iPad with me, and all the pictures of the kids. I'm not sure she really understood who Penny and Alex were, but it didn't matter; I picked all the cutest pictures out for her, and she enjoyed their adorableness and enthusiasm.

Eventually, sometime after 2, we got her back to her apartment at the nursing home. Bill still had to go home and change for the wedding and then get to the church by 3, so he rushed off, and left us to entertain Grandmom for a while. Sam played the piano for a while, and then we sat and talked to her. (Mostly John and Sam told her about their trip. I don't think she understood most of it, but it didn't really matter; she was thrilled to just have us near her.) After about twenty minutes, she started looking droopy. "Grandmom, are you feeling tired?" I asked. "A little," she admitted. "Want to take a little nap?" I suggested. "No, I'm enjoying talking with you all." Well, fair enough.

But she was still exhausted. I slipped out to the nurse's station and asked them to send someone in to put her to bed in five minutes or so. By the time the girl came in to help her to bed, she'd forgotten about our conversation and was ready to be talked into it. So we gave her hugs and kisses and promised to come back soon, and went back to the hotel.

(After some talk, and some further consultation of our maps, we decided that the best thing to do would be to leave John and Sam's car where it was, parked for free in a residential neighborhood, and for us all to carpool in my rental. That way, I'd have some help with the navigation, and we'd only have one car's worth of parking to pay for.)

Back at the hotel, we ducked out to the mini-mall for coffee and snacks (since we hadn't had lunch and we expected dinner to be fairly late) and then sat around my room chatting for half an hour or so until it was time to change clothes for the wedding. I changed in the bathroom while they changed in the main room, and off we went. Eventually, we found the church (we drove past it once, but spotted it in time, so just had to turn around and go back) and were in our seats with time to spare.

The wedding was very beautiful and touching, and then we made our way over to the park for the reception. (They had handouts with directions at the church, which I thought was very nice and helpful.) The park had golf carts employed to take us from the park's parking garage over to the building where the reception was (which was good, because it would've been a heck of a walk, especially in heels). The reception itself was quite nice -- drinks and appetizers and then several buffet stations with very good food, and the usual too-loud dance music and cake cutting and... etc. A fairly standard reception, really.

Not knowing too many other people there, and not being inclined to dance, and being tired from the day's running around, John and Sam and I mustered ourselves to leave around 9. (We actually left around 9:30, after we'd hunted down David and Alexis and Bill and Sharon to congratulate them and say goodbye.) The parking garage was less than half a mile from where John and Sam had left their car, so I drove them over there and we said our farewells, as well, and parted ways to head back to our respective hotels. I got back to my room just a smidge before 10, kicked off my heels, checked Twitter, and then called home.

What a day. I hope tomorrow is somewhat calmer. I'm at the hotel for pretty much the whole morning, heading over to Bill and Sharon's again around 11:30 for a "pulled pork" brunch. (Starting time given as 11:30; I'm guessing we'll eat closer to 1.) That's apparently going to be a MUCH bigger gathering than today's breakfast -- some 40 people, at last count (probably most of those who were at the rehearsal dinner).

Depending on how late that runs, I'll try to go visit Grandmom in the afternoon, and then I expect I'm on my own for dinner and the rest of the evening. I'm not sure what I'll do -- depends on how tired I am, I guess.

Sure hope I manage to sleep better tonight, though.

Sunday, 6:30pm
Managed to sleep until after 6 this morning, though not much.

Went over to Bill and Sharon's at 11:30, and didn't leave until around 3:30. Ate way too much, surprise, surprise.

After I left Bill and Sharon's, I went over to the nursing home to visit with Grandmom. I had to wake her up, but she seemed much better today. She recognized me quickly, didn't repeat herself too much, and generally seemed much more lively than yesterday. (Relatively speaking, of course. As lively as you might expect of a woman of nearly 90 recovering from a heart attack, anyway.) I stayed a good half-hour, and then the nurses came in to ask if she wanted to eat in her room or go downstairs for dinner, and much to my surprise, she opted to go down. So I waited while they got her into the wheelchair, and walked with them down to the dining room before saying my goodbyes. She thanked me many times for coming to see her, which made me wish I could do so more often.

Every time I leave her, I'm afraid it will be the last time. But at the same time, I have trouble staying for more than half an hour or so.

I should figure out something for dinner. I'm not remotely hungry - WAY too much food at brunch - but if I don't eat at least a little something, I'll regret it later, I expect. My original plan had been to go wander the streets of Midtown and see what appealed to me, maybe take some photos as I go. But right now, nothing sounds appealing, and I'd rather read than wander. (Thus does my homebody personality assert itself in basic laziness.) Maybe I'll give the hotel's fancy restaurant a go, and just have some soup.
 That's the end of my notes. but I did not wimp out on dinner. I lingered in the hotel until after seven, then decided I needed to eat something, and that it wasn't very likely that I would get home and wish I'd spent more time in the hotel room, whereas I would certainly wish I'd spent more time looking around. So I levered myself out of the hotel, camera in hand. I took a lot of nice early-evening pictures as I wandered around, and finally stopped at a sandwich shop and had half a sandwich and some lovely tomato bisque soup, along with herbed lemonade, which was different and really neat. (It had mint and star anise and I want to say some rosemary in it.) By then, it was deep twilight, so I walked slowly back to the hotel, taking pictures of stuff. It was actually a really nice evening, and I'm glad I did it.

The next morning, I woke (unwilling, having been unaware that the hotel staff had set and turned on the alarm clock for me) to a gorgeous sunrise. Apparently, Atlanta wants me to come back.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Nothing ever goes quite as planned.

The plan: Fly to Atlanta tomorrow. Pick up my rental car and check in at the hotel. Go to the rehearsal dinner. Saturday's schedule has a family breakfast in the late morning, and my cousin's wedding in the evening. Sunday there's a family brunch. During the downtime between events, try to relax a little, maybe do a little writing.

But yesterday my grandmother had a "medium-grade" heart attack. (Whatever "medium-grade" means.) She's pushing ninety, and her health has been frail for a couple of years now. (Since about the time Alex was born, it's been clear to me that her continuing to live is largely an act of will on her part. As soon as she decides she's done... she will be.) She was actually taking a turn for the better -- about a month or so ago, she started eating more and gaining weight and had even begun some physical therapy. Thank goodness, because without that she might not have survived this attack. But this surely will have done some damage -- exactly how much is yet to be determined.

I don't know what the state of her health is right now. "Resting peacefully and in no pain" is certainly better than the alternative, but doesn't tell me when or even whether the doctor expects her to leave the hospital. (And I have to take the "resting peacefully" part with a grain of salt. She doesn't know why she's in the hospital -- she's been told, but because of her dementia, can't remember it -- and she doesn't even necessarily understand that she's in a hospital at all. I'm sure she's demanding to go home every five minutes.) Even if she bounces back quickly (which seems unlikely), she's certainly not going to be able to go to the wedding. What will that do to my aunt and uncle's plans for the weekend? I have no idea.

I feel bad for my cousin and his fiancée, who have to be wondering if this is going to mar their wedding.

I'm pretty sure it means I'll be spending more, rather than less, time with the family. Most likely at the hospital, since that's where she'll be.

It also means that I might as well throw half the plans away. The wedding will still be taking place, I have no doubt, but everything else just got a lot shakier. Guess I'll be winging it this weekend, and bracing for the worst.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The New Blogspam

Yesterday, for the second time, I got a most peculiar email.

It was from a shopping site (or more precisely, from a network of shopping sites), and it was offering me a chance to run a contest on my blog for their merchandise. The first email I received was from a different site network, and was offering to pay me to review for them.

Both website networks being advertised appear to be genuine. (No, I didn't click on any email links. I'm not entirely lacking in brain.) On the other hand, they didn't say which of my several sites they "loved the look and feel" of.

But none of them make sense, anyway. None of them are high-traffic blogs. I have maybe twenty readers, here, most of whom are real-life friends. I have a few more readers over on the weight-loss blog, mostly via KT's patronage. (She, unlike me, is excellent at the whole "community participation" thing. I'm not nearly as introverted as I used to be, but some habits still linger. Even when I'm genuinely trying to participate, I kind of suck at it.) My writing blog doesn't see a lot of traffic, either.

I do occasionally comment on some high-popularity blogs. Very occasionally.  So I guess a robot somewhere snagged my link from those comments and threw me into a database and now I'm getting form letters. Which amuses me.

It's honestly tempting to write back and tell them I'd love to host a contest for my readers. I mean, with my low number of readers, it gives you guys a pretty solid chance at whatever the giveaway is, right?

On the other hand, if I do anything in the way of advertising or "monetizing" my blog, I could eventually run into this problem. So I suspect I'll just hang out here on my non-money-making blogs, continuing to ramble about whatever happens to pop into my head at the moment -- grousing about work and diabetes care and the trials and tribulations of parenting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So Matt took Penny to Busch Gardens with KT and Kevin and Jess, and the five of them had a great time, it sounds like. Hurray!

I went home around 1 to let the A/C repair guys in, and they spent just long enough trying to figure out the apparently byzantine wiring on the old motor that I felt justified in not going back to work once they were gone. I picked Alex up, and we had a lovely evening, actually. We played, and he was feeling cuddly and affectionate and silly, and then we ate, and then we played some more and read books. It was a nice evening.

This morning, on our way out of the neighborhood, I was sighing at myself over my talent for deciding to wear heeled sandals on the days it's raining, when I spotted this:

"Penny, look!"

"It's a rainbow! Alex, look at the rainbow!"

"I see it! Mommy, look!"

It's not a "double rainbow all the way", but even this fragment was enough to put a smile on our faces.

I hope you have a rainbow day.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Matt and Penny are taking the day off today to go to Busch Gardens. Penny's excited right out of her head; she's been dying to go back to Busch Gardens since last year, and we just haven't made the time for it until now.

Since they're home this morning anyway, and since I'll be picking Alex up this afternoon, Matt offered to take Alex to daycare for me. So I got to work at about 7:30 this morning. I haven't done this regularly since Penny started school and I had to start dropping her off at 8:15. I was wondering if it would feel different, but quite honestly, it feels pretty good. Even though I don't particularly like being up early in the morning, I've always been more productive then. Not getting to work until 8:30 drags on me, even though I've been doing it for two years.

(Alas, I've got about nine more years of it before Alex gets to middle school and I can start planning on moving my mornings back again.)

Not that I actually expect today to be terribly productive, early start notwithstanding; the blower motor on our air conditioning went out over the weekend, and the repair guy is supposed to call sometime today and let me know when he's on his way over to fix it. Which means I'll need to a) stay close to my phone, and b) go home when he calls.

Yes, that is the second time our A/C has broken down this summer. And about the umpteenth since we moved in. I'm starting to wonder if we ought to just replace the whole damn unit (except that would be a whole order of magnitude more expensive than these piecemeal repairs).

Oh, well. It'll be a short week for me, anyway, since I'm taking Friday off to fly down to Atlanta for my cousin's wedding and visit with family. There are activities planned for the whole weekend, too -- the rehearsal dinner Friday evening, a family breakfast on Saturday morning and the wedding itself that evening, of course, and then a "day after" brunch on Sunday. Guess it's good I hadn't planned to fly home until Monday!

I anticipate spending a significant percentage of the next few days trying to figure out how to pack all my stuff for the weekend into the smallest possible carryon bag.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blogged Out

Hooboy. After yesterday's blogging extravaganza (a post each here, here, and here, and four posts plus comment/discussion participation here) I'm feeling pretty blogged out today.

The LiveJournal thing was fun, though. I got some interesting responses to my discussion question, and posted some never-before-seen excerpts from the book, and even wrote a flash fiction based on word prompts they provided. (I wrote it in about forty minutes. While Alex was watching Sesame Street, even. I'm rather proud of myself for that.)

Today, it's back to the grind. We've got a software delivery to slap together, and I need to get it done by 3 so I can take Penny for her annual checkup with her regular doctor (as opposed to the quarterly checkup with her endocrinologist). I need to remind them to do a hearing baseline, because the last time they tried that, she didn't quite understand what she was supposed to do.

...Yep. That's about all I've got in me this morning. Time for coffee.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Run Run Run

Why do these emergency/last-minute software deliveries happen when I'm trying to spend most of my week working from home? I have to go into the office tomorrow to burn a couple of CDs and print labels for them. Which will take all of about half an hour, but it can't be done from home, and it has to be done by someone in my department, and it makes more sense for me to drive in than the woman who lives forty-five minutes away.

Oh, well.

I'm busy today, or at least I'll be busy tonight. I'm "hosting" the day over at the Torquere Social list on LiveJournal (come and play!), which involves my posting excerpts, posing questions for general discussion in the comments, holding a contest/drawing for someone to win a copy of my book, and asking the participants to give me some prompt words for a "flash-fic" (quick and short story).

Which is really quite fun, and I'm looking forward to it -- except that it's possible that I shouldn't have signed on to write flash fiction on the same evening as my book club meeting. I may end up being up late tonight. Aheh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

From Home

Working from home today, whoo-hoo! I love it when we have slow weeks. Sort of. Except for the whole, "if we don't get work soon I'm going to be out of a job" vibe.

At least I do have some work I can do today. It's tedious and obnoxious, but it'll keep me occupied.

I had an hour-long talk yesterday with my official boss (as opposed to the manager in charge of my office, who is my day-to-day boss but does not actually approve my timecards or determine my raises). Mostly we were setting out my performance goals for the year (which we should have done months ago, in theory) and getting my mid-year evaluation done. (That part went well, since we were building the goals around what I'd already accomplished, aheh.)

But he had some good ideas in there, including a notion for a project that would make progress for me on several fronts. Which is good. I don't go into the boring minutae (you're welcome), but it's a project I'm actually kind of looking forward to doing, as opposed to the usual administrivia crap.

Not much else is going on that I haven't already talked about... It looks like this is going to be a slow week all the way around. Thank goodness; I need a break!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Other Half

I posted about Penny's birthday party (with pictures) yesterday, just in case the IS dragons were still up to their tricks today (and it looks like they are, so yay for planning ahead).

The rest of the weekend was pretty awesome, too. My book was released sometime Saturday while I was at Penny's party. (If you read via RSS you may have missed seeing the new link on the sidebar, in which case here, have a link!) I posted it to my writing blog and to Facebook as well, and I've received several very nice comments. The publisher doesn't provide any sort of sales numbers, so I won't know how many I've sold until they pay me, but apparently it's at least three! A co-worker is taking me out to lunch today to celebrate.

Both tomorrow and Wednesday, I'm doing publicity stunts -- Tuesday I'll be in the Q&A hotseat on the publisher's mailing list, and Wednesday I'm "hosting" their livejournal community. That one will probably have a contest to win a free copy of the book and possibly my writing some flash fiction based on participant-provided keywords, so feel free to drop by and heckle!

Sunday, Vicki came over and we drove up to Richmond (actually, just past Richmond) to the Apple Store so I could buy my iPad. It was nice to have someone along for the drive (which had insane/stupid traffic yet again -- WTF, people? Is it really necessary for both lanes to slow down to 30 every time there's an exit ramp?) and to share in my geeky joy.

Apparently, I screwed up, though, because she was about five minutes from buying herself an iPad as well when I interrupted her mesmerized play to tell her I was going to go look at accessories. (She's going to New York in a few weeks, though, and told me she's made a point of planning to go to the Apple Stores there, as well, so I decided that she was saving that big/fun purchase for her trip to the mothership store.)

After I'd bought that (and a new Mac Mini for our kids'/guest computer) we made our way to the food court to have some lunch. I did really well with lunch, too -- fruit and soup! -- and then we had to pass the Godiva store on our way out of the mall. Oh no!

Then for dinner, we had taco salad and homemade guacamole -- we'd gotten about a pound of tomatillos with our CSA box last week, so I was looking for ways to use them up. (I still am, really, as the guac only used up about a quarter of them. Suggestions/recipes welcome!) The guacamole turned out really good, though -- I was basically using this recipe, only without the hot stuff, and I finally figured out my idea ratio of mashed avocado to diced to get just the right texture. Even Penny went back for seconds! It made a lot, though. I need to pick up some chips or something to eat with the leftovers!

Back to work today, though it looks like it's going to be a slow week. Brace yourselves to hear lots of bouncing about the iPad, I guess! (So far: two big thumbs up, though I'm still trying to find a good document editor that isn't too expensive. It doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles, but I do want to be able to do some basic formatting, like italics and centering, and I need to be able to edit multiple files, and I need to be able to transfer the files back to my hard drive somehow -- email would be acceptable. I tried a couple of free apps that promised to link to Google Documents, but both of them horked on me when I actually tried to download and access files. I'm now pondering Apple's own Pages app, which is $10. It doesn't connect to Google Documents, but I'm fairly certain I can trust it not to hork on me.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In The End...

Friday evening was miserable. I cut my finger, the mom of one of Penny's friends called to let us know the friend was sick and might not make it to Penny's party, there was a spate of very last-minute changes requested for my book, the cat crapped on the carpet, and Alex was clingy and feverish. Among other things.

Saturday morning, Alex was acting fine, but definitely felt feverish. Low-grade, but it was looking like he wouldn't be able to go to Penny's birthday party -- and by extension, neither would Matt.

But! The friend's mom called to let us know the friend was feeling better and would attend, and Alex's fever broke during his nap, so we had the full complement of kids at Penny's party. And it was an awesome party. The kids ran and played, and so did some of the adults. Even Alex, who could have been freaked out by all the noise and/or bored by not being the center of attention, seemed to have a fantastic time. He even tried his hand at skee ball! (Okay, he could only roll the ball about 3 feet, so he and I "took turns", where he would roll the ball halfway up the ramp, and then when it came back down, I would actually throw it up into the rings. But he had fun, so who cares, right?)

The party was over at six, but we stayed on after most of the guests had gone home, just because Penny and Alex were both having fun, and why would we interrupt that? By the time we cashed out, Penny had 1000 tickets (between her games and the tickets that friends had donated), and the manager gave us an extra 500 tickets to make up for some doodad she was supposed to have received that they were out of. So she got to collect 1500 tickets' worth of cheap plastic crap. I enjoyed myself immensely just watching her agonize over the choices.

The only fly in the ointment was that my camera battery died just after she blew out the candles on her cake. So I have no pictures of the kids playing, or Penny in the "ticket blaster", or most of the adult guests, or of Penny opening her presents, dangitall. But some of the pictures I did get were fun!

We had a fantastic time. I know Chuck-E-Cheese gets disparaged as being the ripoff home of cheap plastic crap and nasty overpriced pizza, but honestly, honestly...? The pizza's not too bad, and the cheap plastic crap is pretty much incidental to the fun of playing the games, so who cares? Penny's birthday party cost us less than $300 (including the cake and extra pizzas and drinks for the grownups and extra game tokens for the kids) and everyone had a blast. It's a winner in my book!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday: Check!

Penny had what appeared to be a fantastic birthday.

She got tons of presents -- at least half of which were dragon-themed, since pretty much everyone got the word that she's All About the dragons right now. (My little girl... I'm so proud...) She was very enthusiastic about everything, though, even the stuff that wasn't dragons, like the Glo Doodle from Vicki and the adorable box that Elizabeth made for her.

She spent yesterday in a glow of excitement, reading new books and making homes for new toys. She wore a necklace from my parents all day yesterday; today she's wearing a new outfit from her Aunt Rachael. A couple of relatives sent her cards containing cash, and Matt's dad sent her a gift card for Wal-Mart -- a big one -- so sometime soon I'll get to take her on a shopping spree.

And there are more gifts to come: Karen promised a package was on the way, there's her birthday party Sunday, and I can't imagine that the other uncles and aunts or Matt's mom are going to let the day go unremarked.

(She's going to have a lot of thank you cards to write. I might make her do three or four every day until they're done, mean parent that I am.)

Also, I made some of her favorite foods for dinner (roasted chicken legs, mashed potatoes, and peas) and of course there were cupcakes for dessert.

(I would have some pictures, but apparently my office is working on blocking both Flickr and Blogger. Right now, I can get to both sites, but most of the images are broken. I can post a blog entry, but not load the actual pages to see the results. It's... kind of weird. I expect by the time it's done, though, I'll be having to switch to email posting, though. Stupid IS dragons.)

So, all in all, I think she had a wonderful day. Yay!

Edit: And now Flickr and Blogger access are sort of mostly back. Kind of. Anyway, I'm going to link a picture while I can.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oh, and...

Check out the "back" of my book over on my writing journal!


Seven years ago today...

Happy birthday, my beautiful girl.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Counting Down

Three days until Saturday! Three days! Three! Tres. Trois. Drei. Tre. 3!

Penny's party is going to rock. I got an email from one of the moms yesterday, so there's one more friend who will be attending, and only two I haven't heard from, yet. (Of course, I found out this morning that Penny's friend at daycare/camp still hasn't taken her invitation HOME. Argh.)

I'm picking up the cake that morning, and I've got awesome stuff for the goodie bags (at least, I think it's awesome -- I kind of hope at least one kid can't make it, so I can have a leftover bag).

I've got my coupons lined up -- Penny gets 20 free game tokens for it being her birthday, plus each kid gets (I think) 25 tokens, and I've got another pair of coupons that gets us an additional 100 tokens for $15 -- they're going to get lots of play tokens, is what I'm saying, here.

There will be pizza and cake and lots of screaming and excitement, and I'm really quite jazzed for the whole thing!

Oh, yeah, and my book will be released that day, too. *totally fake nonchalance*

Here's today's countdown post!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Okay, so I've pretty much talked myself into buying an iPad.

I was going to buy one while we were in Chicago, actually. We met our friend Rachel for lunch, and Matt teased me with the information that there was an Apple Store in the same shopping center. We considered stopping in after lunch to "Oooh" and "Ahhh" at the pretty shinies, and he may have thought I was joking, but I had every intention of buying an iPad right then and there. A planned impulse buy, if you will.

Unfortunately, by the time lunch was over, the kids were both tired and cranky and we decided they would not have the patience necessary to follow us around while we indulged in an extended geek-out, so we did not go to the Apple Store.

I thought about making an iPad my next diet reward, because my next diet goal is technically my last diet goal, the point at which I will switch from dieting to maintaining. And that's a big deal, and deserves a big reward, right? Except... it's sort of a moving target. I'm fairly happy with the weight I am now. Most of my lingering dissatisfactions have more to do with the excess stretched-out skin (which dieting won't fix) and my overall proportions (which dieting won't fix).

I'm still actively dieting right now, because I'd kind of like to drop another three or four pounds to get to the next roundish number -- but I admit I'm not putting a lot of effort into it. I've been pretty much floating for the last couple of months, and the telling bit is that I'm not all that concerned about it. I'm okay with where I am, even if the charts tell me I should lose another fifteen pounds.

So rather than reaching some foreordained "goal" and throwing myself a big party before flipping the switch from "lose" to "maintain", apparently I'm more doing a slow melt into maintenance mode. Which is possibly healthier in the long run, but it makes it hard to decide at what point I have earned a big diet reward, like an iPad.

Then I thought about making an iPad my reward for getting my book published. I mean, publication has been a dream of mine for many, many years. But let's be honest: my book is not going to make enough money to pay for an iPad. Even the lowest-end one, without any accessories. And isn't seeing my name in print its own reward, anyway? (And since it's an e-book, does it really count as publication?) I'm waffling, here... so maybe it's not quite big enough to count?

And then I was thinking about my trip to Atlanta that's in a couple of weeks. I'm going for my cousin's wedding, but while I'm excited that I'll get to see that side of my family again, we're not exactly close. And while I'm sure their friends are wonderful people -- again, not close. I'm not going to be hanging out with them constantly over the weekend. So I've been pondering what to do with my spare time while I'm there. I'll have a few hours Friday afternoon, and most of Saturday (the wedding is at 5, so I'm on my own until 3 or 3:30 before I have to head back to the hotel to change), and most of the day Sunday.

I'm considering going back to the zoo or the aquarium, so I can actually pause to look at the things that interest me instead of being pulled along at top speed by the kid(s). I might look up some attraction I've never been to before -- possibly even something not very kid-friendly that I might not otherwise get to see.

I briefly considered staying in my hotel room and taking advantage of being free of the distractions of family to get some writing done. And then I thought, "Nah, I'm already going to be lugging my camera with me and trying to travel carry-on only; I don't want to drag the laptop, too." And then a quiet little voice in the waaaaaay back of my head said, "You know, if you had an iPad, it would be a lot easier to write on the road..."

"No, no, no," I told myself.

"And you could load it up with pictures to show Grandmom and the rest of the family. You know Grandmom loves pictures."


"And it would make it easier to read e-books at the gym."

"I'm not sure--"

"You know you want it."

So... long story short: What with all those excuses and rationalizations combined, I've pretty well talked myself into it. I'm still waffling slightly over whether to shell out the extra $130 for 3G capability. (If I can't get a wireless connection, what will I want to do over 3G on the iPad that I couldn't do on my phone? How do I know when I haven't yet quite worked out exactly where the iPad will fit into my daily life?)

I was waffling over whether to order it online or make a trip to one of our (semi-) local Apple Stores (they're both about an hour away). But the online store says "Ships in 7-10 business days" which means it might well not arrive in time for my trip. So I need to figure out when to do that.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Penny's sleepover Friday went very well. I took Penny over and explained everything to the mom, and then Matt went over to deliver her shot for dinner and again for the cake, and the host mom called us at about 10:30 to give us the pre-bed report, which was fine. I went over in the morning to do Penny's breakfast shot, and then we picked her up at 10. It was a lot of back and forth for us, but she had a blast, which was the point: letting her do as much as possible of the things that other kids get to do.

Like stay up all night, which she swears she did. (I'm not sure I believe that, but for certain she was still awake at 12:30.) She also swore she wasn't tired when we got home, but because I'm a Mean Mom (TM), I made her lay down after lunch anyway, and she wound up taking a three-hour nap -- and it would have been longer, except we woke her up so she would be able to go to bed at bedtime.

Sunday afternoon, we took the kids to see Despicable Me, which I've been wanting to see since I saw the first trailer. It's a PG movie, though, and Penny still prefers her movies squarely in the G realm, so I'd been hesitating. But Matt looked up the ratings explanation and we didn't find anything in there too horrible, so we decided to chance it. I whetted Penny's appetite by showing her the trailers online (she reacts to things better if they're at least somewhat familiar), and off we went.

Everyone got popcorn, and Alex settled in on my lap, and... miracle of wonders -- no one asked to leave the theater for the whole show! Alex got a bit bored about twenty minutes from the end of the movie, but let me soothe him back into watching (reason #47 why Movie Tavern is better than Regal Cinemas: the freestanding chairs rock and swivel). Penny didn't have to go to the bathroom. Wahoo!

By the time we got home, though, Penny wasn't feeling too well. She had a blood sugar crash (apparently I'd guessed a bit wrong on how much popcorn she had) and by the time I got dinner on the table, she swore she wasn't hungry. I hadn't thought she'd had that much popcorn, but she spent the whole evening dragging around complaining of feeling too full, so... I don't know. This morning, I found she'd got up during the night and dragged her trash can over by the bed because she was worried she might throw up. She said she was feeling somewhat better this morning, but she still wasn't hungry, so... we'll see, I guess.

This week... This week! There will be excitement! Penny's birthday is Thursday, and Saturday is her birthday party. Also on Saturday, my book will be released! So you can look forward to me posting about that a lot, both here and on my writing blog. (I'm considering holding a contest on the writing blog, in fact, for a free copy of the story -- what do you think?)

It's gonna be a good week!

Friday, August 6, 2010


Many, many awesome things happened yesterday.

1) I've been craving Panera's Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad, so I made arrangements to meet Matt for lunch, and he brought Elizabeth and Vicki-the-Birthday-Girl with him. We had a fun and lovely lunch.

2) After we'd eaten, I decided to go shopping, since I was in New Town anyway. I stopped in at Bath and Body Works, where freaking everything I like was on sale. And where they still haven't canceled my favorite scent. And where they were showcasing the new autumn lines, which are going to be awesome.

3) After I'd spent a ridiculous amount of money at Bath and Body Works, I stopped in at the Victoria's Secret, on a whim. My new dress really needs a black t-back bra, and I hadn't found one at Target that was in my size. I haven't actually been in a Victoria's Secret store since... I dunno. College, maybe? A long damn time, anyway. But I figured it was worth a shot.
3a) Vicky's does carry black t-back bras. Which is kind of a Duh. Even Target had carried the style I wanted, just not the size. But...
3b) ...Vicky's actually carries bras in my size! A little bit bigger than my size, in fact...
3c) ...because it turns out my size, at Vicky's (bra sizes range a lot by style and manufacturer) is a 36D. (ish. Maybe 36 DD for some styles.) Hang on, maybe that got lost in parentheses: I'm in a freaking 36D. Okay, perspective? When I graduated from high school, I was in a 36C.
3d) Entirely unlooked-for: the 36D black t-back bra I tried on was possibly the most comfortable bra I've put on in the last five years. Seriously. It was awesome. I don't think I've ever put on a bra and thought, "Boy, I wish I could wear this every day!"

All of #3 put together means that, someday soon, I can actually wear pretty and comfortable bras! I wanted to get one in every color they had right then and there. I restrained myself, though. Because firstly, it wasn't a cheap bra. And secondly, a t-back isn't what I need on a day-to-day basis anyway. But boy howdy will I be going back soon to try on some other styles.

4) Matt told me that Alex's teacher requested that next week, we send in several changes of clothes and (drum roll, please) some real underwear for him, because he's managed to use the potty and stay dry all day for pretty much the entire week! So they'd like to try to transition him into big-boy undies. I'm surprised (he goes to the potty willingly enough at home, but only if we ask him to, and he refuses to poo anywhere but in his diaper) but I'm perfectly willing to let him make that leap at school first and then work on transitioning him at home later.

Is that... off in the distance, there... is that the end of the diaper tunnel?

5) On their arrival home from school, both kids were in fantastic moods. And they stayed that way. Alex didn't even complain when I turned the TV off early so we could go. Which leads to...

6) Having dinner with Adin and her kids in their new apartment, which is all of maybe a mile and a half from our house. At which Alex played with Henry (or at least Henry's toys), and Penny played with Ripley (which is great, because Penny is a full two or two and a half years older than Ripley, so there's a big gap in abilities and maturity that I completely understand Penny is not always feeling patient enough to bridge -- but last night, she was fantastic) so that Adin and I got to talk and sometimes even got whole complete sentences out of our mouths before a child would interrupt us!

7) We left Adin's just as a storm opened up on Williamsburg. We ended up dashing through the rain, and I was cursing having left my car windows cracked, but the rain sucked all the heat out of the air, at least temporarily, and it was kind of fun to get so wet on the short run from the car to the house.

8) The kids' excellent moods continued on into the evening. Penny grumbled slightly about having to take a shower, but did not make me repeat myself. Alex cheerfully climbed the stairs and got himself undressed for bed and did not try to argue with me about whether it was actually bedtime.

Overall... One Awesome Day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yet Again

I'm working from home again, today and tomorrow. Hopefully, I will not get called into the office on short notice again.

At least I have a good amount of work to keep me busy. Two documents to review -- heavy process buggers, which means I'm not just editing, but also doing much more intensive process verifications; and some database updates to do; and a massive spreadsheet corporate requirements to put together and start reviewing.

I'll be meeting Matt for lunch (and possibly some friends -- Happy Birthday, Vicki!) and if the rain holds off, I might take a short break to wander around with my camera some. There's a plant blooming a few blocks over that I've wanted to photograph every time I've seen it for the last three years.

I took Penny to the store last night so we could get a present for the birthday party she's attending tomorrow (and a sleeping bag, since it's a slumber party). While we were there, I thought I'd pick up a bra to wear with my dress -- but apparently it is Not Possible for me to find a black t-back bra in my size. (Seriously. I would like my boobs to shrink by a cup size. Just one! Is that too much to ask? I've lost 4 band sizes, but only half a cup size. Which is not nearly as sexy as it sounds.)

So, um... Yeah, kind of mentally scattered this morning. But at least I'm comfy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, the bloodwork from Penny's quarterly checkup with her endocrinologist came back, and her thyroid levels have fallen below the approved threshold. So she'll be starting on a dose of synthyroid (or whatever the generic is called -- I don't object to using generic drugs, but I could wish the names weren't so impossible). It's a relatively small, once-a-day dose, and although the instructions always say it needs to be taken on an empty stomach, the doctor said it would be fine if she took it at breakfast.

It's disappointing, to say the least. There wasn't much doubt that she would develop hypothyroidism eventually -- it's got a strong genetic component, and it seems like half my family has it: me, my dad, my grandmother, my uncle... And though diabetes doesn't cause it, the two diseases seem to be linked. That's why they've been monitoring her levels so closely, and we've been watching them drop steadily over the last year... but we were hoping it would hold off longer.

On the plus side, I'm glad that we've caught it before it presented any outward symptoms. And at least treatment is both cheap and easy. (In the fifteen years since my diagnosis, I've never had to pay more than $8 for a month's worth of pills, which is practically nothing, especially compared to the cost of her diabetes supplies.) And it's a pretty forgiving condition -- accidentally missing a day's treatment won't cause problems, either short-term or long-term. Heck, I once lost my pills on a trip, and went more than a week without, and didn't have any ill effects.

So it could be a lot worse.

But damn, you'd think the poor kid could catch a break.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Insanely busy for the rest of the month.

Most of it with fun stuff, mind, so I'm not complaining. I'm just quietly going insane.

Dinners and lunches and birthdays (several with parties!) and book clubs and weddings and games and days of fun and entertainment and book publicity activities and like that.

And writing! I had an epiphany about a submission call I'd been ignoring and a story that didn't want to get off the ground, and I did a solid 2000 words on it yesterday. (Though half of that might get chopped. It's supposed to be a shortish story and the one scene might have to be sacrificed for the space.) At any rate, I think I'll have a usable story by the end of this week, and something to submit in time for the deadline.

Work is conversely and correspondingly slow. The new contracts are not rolling in like the waves, so I'm stretching out a process mapping activity and hoping I can make it last most of the month. I anticipate working from home a couple of days this week, just because coming in to the office is all but pointless.

So tonight we're having dinner with my mom (we didn't see her over the weekend because she got sick). She wants to go to the Backfin, which we haven't been to in ages, so that should be fun. Mmmm, Backfin cornbread...