Thursday, June 21, 2012


So, this being the first week that Penny was out of school, we took the kids to Busch Gardens last night.

The logistics could have been better, because Matt's car was in the shop, and he had to be home by 8:30 for a work thing, but we made it work. We ate dinner there, rode a few rides, and then came home. It's exactly why we paid for the year-long pass, honestly -- no pressure to do it all or see everything, the ability to go when the crowds are thinner and ride a couple of rides and then just mosey on home.

We got Alex on the skyride, and after we'd had some dinner, we got him on the Catapult -- which he got excited enough about to ride second time! After that, we took them on the carousel, and then we spent fifteen minutes or so at the Land of Dragons before we took the skyride back toward the entrance and headed home.

Next week, we've promised to take him to the Sesame Street area. Note to self: bring swimsuits and towels (or at least a change of clothes) so the kids can play in the water area.

As a side note, you know how you feed a diabetic when you're at an amusement park? TURKEY LEGS. OM NOM NOM.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Blog posts are about to get spotty. I'm working two different proposals and dealing with Life.

We had a pretty good weekend, though our Father's Day dinner with my parents got canceled because my mom came down with a case of pinkeye.

But Matt seemed to like the presents I got him, and we had a nice, quiet day at home.

And I got my new computer, and got my files all transferred and worked through some idiot issues and am pretty much up and running!

And now I need to be in a meeting.

Sorry, guys...

Friday, June 15, 2012


I have Penny with me at work this morning, because our school district, in their infinite wisdom, ended school on a Thursday, and the daycare summer camp doesn't start up until Monday.

She's already created a little hidey-hole for herself by wedging into a corner by the bookshelf and propping her blanket up as a doorway.

It's gonna be a long morning.


On the plus side, we all went up to Busch Gardens yesterday and met up with KT and Kevin and Jess and Jeff and Leslie (who I hadn't realized were in town, much less at Busch Gardens) for a couple of hours, and that turned out to be lots of fun. I haven't seen Jeff or Leslie since last year's Summer Bash, I don't think.

Alex pouted a bit when we went to the Land of Dragons instead of Sesame Street, but it didn't take him long to get into the swing of it.

(That's Alex in the front, and Penny and Jess as twin dragonettes inside the egg.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

All About the Girl

There's nothing worth talking about in my life right now, but that's okay, because I have Penny anecdotes to share!

First up, a series of email exchanges from earlier this week:
From: Penny
To: Mom
Subject: AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: June 11
Help! A boy named [redacted] likes me like a girlfriend! I don't even like him!

From: Mom
To: Penny
Subject: Re: AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: June 12
That will happen, because you're pretty and smart and fun to be with. You don't have to be his girlfriend. Just be sure to be nice when you tell him you don't want to be his girlfriend, so you don't hurt his feelings too much.

From: Penny
To: Mom
Subject: Thats better
Date: June 12
Mom he dosen't have a crush on me anymore.  :o Whew
...So it begins. Matt didn't buy that enormous sword on our wall any too soon, I guess.

I asked her about it later, and apparently the boy is changing the object of his crush on a near-daily basis between Penny and a few of her friends that she hangs out with at school. My suspicion is that he's just waiting for one of them to cave and agree to be his girlfriend. Whatever that means in the third grade. But that doesn't mean I don't have to take it seriously when I talk to her about it. I can remember having a crush on a boy in the 2nd or 3rd grade and trying to talk to my parents about it, and they basically laughed at me -- not trying to be mean, and I understand why, now... but at the time, it was a little hurtful and very unhelpful.

(Oh, and for the various friends who might see her in real life -- don't mention the episode to her. She finds the whole thing very embarrassing, and I'm probably a bad parent for having shared it.)

And just this morning, I had an email from a friend whose child spends a lot of time with Penny, who knew I'd be amused (name obscured to protect the, er, guilty, but otherwise this is a strict copy/paste):
Child said she was annoying Penny on purpose (which she admitted she shouldn't do)
Penny said, "stop that or I'm going to have to say the H word!"
Child said "what's the H word?"
Penny: "heck"

a little later Child started annoying Penny again on purpose.
Penny: "stop that or I'm going to have to use the S word!"
Child "what's the S word?"
Penny "stupid"

a little while later Child was annoying Penny again on purpose.
Penny: "stop that or I'm going to have to use the F word!"
Child: "what's the F word?"
Penny: "fuck"
Well, she is her father's daughter. Um, and mine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Nothing like getting to work at 8:22 and discovering that I'm expected to sit in a meeting that starts at 8:30 and runs to 10:30, and then there's another meeting that starts at 11.

Compared to some managers, I have it light with regard to meetings, I know, but it's still too many for my taste.

Guess there won't be much of a journal entry from me today...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quiet Weekend

I like a quiet weekend, but it doesn't give me much to blog about.

We hung out with the Hegemony, as usual, Friday night. Babysat for them on Saturday so they could go see Prometheus. Spent Sunday mostly at home, running errands, dorking on our computers, and reading.

Penny and I got haircuts Saturday morning. (Nothing exciting; just trims and I got my color refreshed -- it's about two steps redder this time around, and I'm still trying to decide if I like it.)

I tried a new recipe for Sunday's dinner -- bacon-wrapped hamburger patties -- that was very well-received by the whole family. I hereby formally and publicly kowtow to KT for linking me to this list, because I've been completely bored with everything in my usual repertoire, and it's hard to come by meals that a) are mostly healthy; b) everyone in the family is willing to eat; and c) can be prepared in a reasonable amount of time. That list is meal-planning gold.


After spending all last week feeling proud of myself for actually getting up when the alarm went off and going downstairs and exercising, I managed to twist my knee Saturday night. How, you ask? By performing the stupidly simple task of bending over from a sitting position to try to pick something up off the floor. Which is even more embarrassing than the time I ended up on crutches after a game of Frisbee -- at least that was an activity. And of course it was the good knee, not the one that's been sort of mildly dodgy for months.

All day Sunday, it twinged every time I straightened it -- you know, like you do when you stand up or walk? -- despite my popping Aleve like candy.

This morning when I woke up, I gingerly straightened my leg, waiting for the pain, and there was none. Oh, awesome, I thought. I guess it just needed some good rest. Maybe I can do some exercise after all. I got up (still no pain!) and went into the bathroom, pondering which of my 15-minute routines would stress the knee least (because I'm not dumb)... and when I sat on the toilet, my knee all but shrieked in protest. Yesterday it was straightening that was bad; today, apparently bending is verboten.

So no exercise for me and my knee this morning. Dammit.

(I swear, between my knees and my back, I'm about to say, "Fuck it, I'm just destined to be fat," and go out and buy a bunch of mumus so I can stop freaking out whenever I outgrow another pair of pants.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pirate Exploration

A while back (a long while back) I think I mentioned that Penny'd written a report for school in which she had to pick one of four explorers to travel with and write a little story about it, and that her report was so well-received that it was shared with all the other third-grade classes, who clapped and cheered when she was done reading it.

Of course I've been dying to see the story, but I guess they had it on the wall or something at school, because I was waiting and waiting and waiting. It finally came home yesterday, though, and so obviously I'm going to share it with you! (Faithfully transcribed, which means the grammar and spelling mistakes are hers. The link is mine, though.)

Me Exploring with Newport 

I picked up my bag. First of all I was going to sail with the clever pirate Christopher Newport! First I got on the ship. I realized I had on a red headband, a gleaming gold sword, fancy black boots, and great clothes! Next I found out that I was lucky. I got to help Captain Newport! I had the fun job. But a few times I had to risk my life fighting parahnas, sharks, and a giant squid. Don't worry my sword sliced through as easy as cuting wood with a chainsaw! Then we landed in present day Jamestown we also reached the fall line of the James River! I easily made friends with the other pirates. We also danced and played pirate games. Suddenly we got thrown overboard! It was a hurricane. The pirates tried to swim but they were to weak. But I did not give up! I dragged them to shore. They were quite knocked out. When they woke up we found tresure! Last we sailed back home. Finally I felt wonderful. I became a pirate member.

Penny Brooks, Feb. 1, 2012

That's my girl. My girl, the pirate explorer.

My girl, the writer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Most mornings, I put both kids in the car and drive up to Alex's daycare to drop him off, then turn around and come back to drop Penny off at her school. The whole process takes 45 or 50 minutes, with most of that time being spent in the car.

On the way up to daycare, the kids usually play together, with intermittent interruptions from me to threaten death, dismemberment, and loss of toys if they don't remember to use their Inside Voices.

On the way back, it's just me and Penny in the car, and you'd think it would be a good mother/daughter bonding time, except it doesn't work out that way. She usually asks for my phone so she can check on her dragons, and then all the energy that she'd had on the drive up just dissipates. She just sits and stares out the window. And I'm not at my most chipper in the mornings, either, so I don't work too hard to try to engage her.

Maybe I should, though, because we had this conversation this morning, more or less out of nowhere:

"Everyone at school says that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are just our parents."

A topic fraught with traps, and I haven't even had coffee yet. "Hm. Well, what do you think?"

"I'm not sure... But just in case, I'm going to keep acting like they're real."

"Just in case?" I wonder if some friend of hers has passed on a family rule along the lines of, if you don't believe in Santa, he doesn't bring you any presents.

"Yeah. I don't want Alex to find out. He might be like, 'Aw, man...' and then it wouldn't be fun for him."

Oh. Oh. And just like that, tears fill my eyes.

There are times when I wonder what the hell I think I'm doing as a parent. Times when the whole thing overwhelms me and leaves me nearly breathless with fear and the certainty that I'm doing something -- everything -- wrong.

But then, once in a while, I'm blinded by these flashes of brilliance, where one or the other or both of them together show me these fantastic qualities. They're happy. They're incredibly smart. They're enthusiastic and energetic. They're more than just a bit geeky. They're funny (if not always intentionally). They're kind and loving and loyal, and occasionally (like this morning) even thoughtful.

In short, they're becoming the sort of people I love to spend time with.

Could any parent ask for more?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

That Kind of Day

After a quick review of my email, it looks like it's going to be the kind of day where I spend it all working on a couple of different projects, for two different proposals, neither of which I have any idea how to do.

Which may contribute to it being the kind of day where I feel the need to stop at the ABC store on my way home.


Last night, just as I was about to go to bed, I glanced at the top of the entertainment center, where Alex has been leaving his new Captain America figure... and it wasn't there. I looked around on the floor... in the play room... No Cap.

"Did Alex bring Captain America back inside after he went out?" I asked.

I went out to see if he'd maybe left it on the porch or driveway.

"I'm counting it as gone," Matt said.

Half an hour later, unable to sleep, I got a flashlight and went back out. I walked down the street to the house where Alex's neighborhood friend lives, to see if he'd maybe left it in their yard. I walked all the way around their house, checking out the toys in the yard and the deck of their porch... No Cap.

This morning, when Alex got up, I had him put on his shoes. "Where'd you go yesterday with your Captain America?"

He led me by the hand along the edge of the street to his friend's house. "He wasn't home. But the car was there!"

"Did you maybe put Captain America down to knock on the door?"

"I knocked with Captain America!" Of course he did. Silly me.

"And then what?"

"I came home!"

"You didn't play with anyone else?"


Positive that he'd put the toy down somewhere, equally positive that some other kid had found it, I sighed and turned us homeward. Maybe later I could canvass the neighborhood kids and see if any of them had it. "Well, let's look around inside again. Do you remember where you went when you came in?"

Alex frowned and went into the play room, which I'd already searched. Slowly, he walked over to the computer desk, which I'd already looked at. Then he pushed aside the computer chair to look at the window... where Captain America was lying on the window sill.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adventures in Moving Pictures

Saturday, I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman with Adin.

She really badly wanted to see it; I was mildly interested because the trailer looked pretty, but mostly was in it just for the fun of it.

My expectations were largely met -- there were some bothersome holes in the way they crafted the story (the geography was particularly confusing, and whatever rules encompassed the queen's magic, and they raised a significant issue about the magic mirror that they never came back to... but OMG gorgeous). The eye candy was worthy (when the movie was over, Adin looked at me and said, "I get it now. Chris Hemsworth? I get it.") and even if it wasn't the best directing or acting ever, I sure hope the costume and makeup and effects people get some awards somewhere, because dayum. The evil queen's wedding gown, for petesake!

But... okay, spoiler warning...

The part of the movie that kept me on the edge of my seat was trying to figure out how they were going to resolve the romantic triangle between Snow White and the Huntsman and the prince. They built up this relationship between Snow White and the huntsman, and then the prince shows up, and for a while, I was expecting her to regretfully turn him away. But then she kissed the prince? But then she was dead and it was actually the huntsman's kiss that revived her, so did that mean...? At one point I whispered to Adin, "Bet they kill off Prince William to clear the way." But then the climactic big battle scene hit, and I thought sure the huntsman was going to die saving either her or the prince... but he didn't, either. And then we're at the end and Snow White is being crowned queen and there's Prince William in the audience... and the huntsman watching from the back... and then the credits roll.

Whhuh? All that and you're not even going to tell us which guy she picks? But...!

I sulked for a minute, and then realized that left me free to imagine whatever scenario I liked. Up to and including one in which she kept both of them. Because? Yum.


"Dammit," said Braz, "I wish I could get HBO just for one day, so we can see the Game of Thrones finale without having to wait."

It only took him a day to talk himself into it, so last night, after I'd kissed Penny good night, I drove over to their place and settled on the couch to watch it.

It was good. Not, I think, quite as good as the previous episode, but there was plenty there to enjoy. And it ended in the middle of a scene, with a hell of a cliffhanger (and for Braz and I, who've read the books and know how the scene ends, maddeningly short of a critical moment).

Better than the episode itself, though, was watching it with friends. There's something that may need to continue.

But now I have to wait most of a year for the next season. Argh.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Filling Up

Hey, it's June!

The year is nearly half done. In two weeks, Penny will be done with the 3rd grade, and the week after that, Alex will be officially four and a half. In ten weeks, Penny will be a 9-year-old, and a couple of days after that, the whole family will be going to Cancun for our vacation.

Our summer weekends are already starting to fill up. Heck, my fall weekends are starting to fill up, as I just tentatively reserved myself a couple of days to go to the Roanoke Pride event again in September.


Last night, Alex was hanging over the arm of the chair and he said, "Hey, Mom, the yellow phone is down there."

I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought he was asking me to retrieve some toy for him. "Fine, get out of the way so I can reach--" And then I saw it.

Not some random toy. My old iPhone, dubbed "the yellow phone" because the DecalGirl sticker on it is predominantly yellow. Which had been lost months ago. I'd torn up the house looking for it -- under all the living room furniture, under the couch cushions, every toy box in the playroom, even in the kids' rooms. Gone. I swear to god, I'd looked under the end table, but there it was, one corner poking out.


A few hours with the recharge cable, and it was as good as new. Alex joyfully watched all his favorite They Might Be Giants videos on it this morning on the way to daycare.


I have decided that it's going to be a good weekend.

Let all who would thwart me tremble in fear.