August 31, 2006

Library Loot

All that reading this summer really paid off. Both girls won raffle prizes (books, of course!), and between those and the "book bucks" we spent on used picture books, we came home with quite a bag full of goodies. Not wanting to limit ourselves to books, Emily also came home with a cheap toy tambourine ("Hey, little tambourine girl, play a song for me...") and Laura selected a hot pink smiley-face bubble necklace, and a shiny purple bead necklace. I don't remember ordering a girly-girl (this is the same child who allows us to put her in shorts only because there's usually a dress on top), but it appears that's what got sent. Too late to exchange her now!

Truth be told, we'd read just as much without the library's incentive program. It is nice, though, to have tangible rewards (for me, just as much as the children--who did all that reading TO them?? I'm always happy to have new and new-to-us books in the house; that's MY reward!). And today when we were explaining why Daddy has to go off to work in the mornings, we even used the "book bucks" system to explain how, just like the library rewards us for reading, Daddy's work gives him money for working. (and that's how we get food, and clothes, and toys). I'm not at all sure that the basic microeconomics lesson sunk in (it's early days yet!), but we felt awfully smug about using prior knowledge to teach with. It's obviously time for the school year to start, so our children can escape from all these teachers in their house!

Speaking of which, I may soon be back at work in a limited way. There's always a chance that some dark horse candidate who's better suited to the job than I am will apply, so I shan't count my chickens. But I have filed my application to be Matt's assistant coach this year. The more I think about it, the more eager I am to be back in the game. I miss speech, and I miss high school kids. (And as Matt pointed out, it's high time we started indoctrinating the girls. It's never too early to start looking for interp. pieces, after all.... ;-) ) Anyway, I wouldn't, of course, be able to go to all the tournaments (can you imagine taking two girls in diapers to a three-day speech tournament, including staying at a [strange] hotel, keeping them awake from 5 AM until 10 or 11 PM, expecting them to be quiet and well-behaved that whole time? Without illegal drugs? Me, neither.) But we might manage a one-day-er here and there--shorter days, shorter drives, no hotels. And I do plan to do a lot of the after school practices, which is the other half of what Matt really needs an assistant for. Wish us luck! (either in having the job work out, or in it not and having that be a good thing.)

August 25, 2006

My name is Supermommy

...and I am tired. I realize I have nothing on actual single parents, but two weeks of doing literally all the lifting around here has left me pretty exhausted. Matt also suffered some extra complications from his surgery (he's gonna be just fine, though), so I've been doing all the incidentals, even those that don't involve much/any lifting. School starts next week for Matt, and I hope to settle into a more regular schedule for the days without Daddy around to distract us. :-)

I have found this very soothing. It sounds to me like many meetings I have gone to.

Matt is, as most of us know, a highly-strung fellow. If we were dogs, I would be a sheep dog (hard working when on duty, but otherwise not waking up unless something needs to be saved); Matt would be a French poodle.

So, he's always worried when he hears noises in the house, especially at night. He was upstairs in his office last night, when I came up from the basement. Not thinking I'd be done with Emily so soon (I was putting her down for the night), he thought I might be an Intruder. So he grabbed the first weapon that came to hand, and descended the stairs to confront me.

Imagine my terror when he showed me the weapon he was planning to brandish in defence of hearth and home: a plastic stapler. Not even a full-sized one, either, but the kind that's about the length of a grown-up man's hand. I hefted it; it wouldn't even have added much weight to a swinging fist.

Matt pointed out, though, that you could inflict some "bad puncture wounds" with it.

So, would-be burglars, beware! Matt has a stapler, and he's not afraid to use it! Now, if you'll just hold still while he lines it up correctly...

August 17, 2006

English Teacher Irritant

Life's tough when you spend your time correcting other people's grammar and usage mistakes. It makes you really notice things that are wrong around you, like this sign we saw on the way home from the beach.

On the up side, since we had to stop near it to feed Emily anyway, we did get a good three miles' worth of chuckles out of it. Most of the speculation centered on where the wheels and steering column would be attached, and trying to picture the whole ensemble on the road. A final guffaw arrived with the questioning of their agenda. It's probably a vast locksmith conspiracy.

Life Lately

Laura did just fine with the second Robyn; she had to back and fill for a moment to verify that this was not "the J.J. Robin", but soon settled in to her usual mauling routine. In discussing it with Robyn, we decided that the reason it's so cool to be accepted by a picky child (or, for that matter, an animal) is because it's so honest. You know the child/pet isn't trying to sell you something, or even just being polite. And that is what makes it an honor: it's just a genuine recognition of something cool about YOU.

Emily and I both had doctor appointments Thursday; I finally made the switch so I have the same doc the girls do. I am already pleased; among other things, I have a referral to a specialist and an ultrasound scheduled to check up on something (else) that's been bothering me (I didn't ask for either; I just laid out all my niggling complaints and let the doc decide what was worth following up on.) I've also got an eye appointment next week; adding to my lack of blogging lately is that my eyes have lately taken a severe turn south; sitting at the screen for just a few minutes gives me a headache. Wah. Hopefully that'll be fixable. Oh, and for those keeping score, Emily was a bit short (in the 50%) but weighed in the 90% range. Doc predicts that means she was about to have a growth spurt (judging by the clothes I just had to file away, it is already occurring!)

Friday we went to the beach again. It was, again, a wonderful day. The weather was a little cooler, though that just meant it was comfortable to keep our hats on, and we had quite an adventure. A big group of people was near us, with lots of cool sandcastle toys and buckets and things, and Laura was irresistably drawn close to the toys. Matt encouraged her to come back to our "camp" and our own (boring but workable) toys. Not long after, an emissary arrived from the toy camp, offering to have Laura come over and play. I went, too (Emily stayed behind to nap on Matt for a while), and eventually one of the moms of the group came over to strike up a conversation. Turns out that half of the group were also from our town, joined by a sibling and her family from Idaho (mom, dad, and six kids.) Both sisters homeschooled, so I had an educational conversation about the perils and pitfalls thereof; having had a few homeschooled kids arrive in my classes, I didn't feel too out of my depth. And it is, after all, all teaching. Anyway, it was wonderful of them to share their goodies, and we stayed until it was time to leave for dinner.

We dined in Depoe Bay, at Gracie's Sea Hag, and I'm still drooling. The clam chowder was the best I've ever had (in reading their web page, I see now that it's world famous, but Friday it was just a big surprise). The clams weren't chewy, but were terrifically tender, and there was quite a lot of bacony and buttery goodness as well. The entree was heavenly (even without the hollandaise sauce, which, sadly, having lemon in it, is not allowed), too (salmon stuffed with crab and shrimp.) It was a bit above our normal "$$" rating, but as I said at the time, it was certainly worth it. Yum!

Matt had some outpatient surgery on Monday, and he's fine, but he can't lift anything over 10 pounds. That pretty much eliminates everybody here except Fiona, the smallest cat. So I've been getting quite the workout with solo changing, dressing, bathing, and general lifting duties for both girls (did I mention that only 10% of 1-year olds weigh more than Emily???) Driving, too, though that's just as well since school will be starting soon and I'd like to keep up our weekly library visits even without Matt along.

Tuesday we celebrated our anniversary. We've decided that the traditional lists are wrong; anniversaries number 7 and 8 should clearly offer pain medication as gifts. (Last year at this time, I was struggling with my nasty incision, leftover from the C-section....) Here's hoping for more great years, and, umm, painless celebrations!

Wednesday, Emily gave us our present a day late: she staggered a few steps, forgetting to hold on to anything. She has repeated the feat several times today, though still prefers the speed and security of crawling. It is the End of an Era.

August 9, 2006

Two Robi(y)ns in a Row

Yesterday we had a wonderful time with friends; J.J. and Robin were in the area, helping Laura (the Older) and Eric move back to Oregon. Since we haven't seen Laura much since she moved to the other coast, it was great to reconnect (and of course we always like seeing J.J. and Robin; and it was fun to get to know Eric a little better.) We bravely took our children to a public place for lunch, and nobody died.

I must say, I'm grateful to all our currently child-less friends who are still willing to hang out with us (and The Children). It's a challenge, not least because of the 80% rule: at any given time, only about 80% of a parent's brain is focused on the task/conversation/idea at hand. The other 20% is devoted to making sure that the children are not terrorizing people, are staying where they're supposed to be, are eating what they're supposed to (and nothing else), etc., etc. It's also hard because way more than 20% of one's eye contact must, of necessity, go towards the children; for visual people like us, that can seem to show a lack of attentiveness. But we are listening, honest. I know I've gotten good at simultaneously listening to an adult and saying, sotto voce, "Sit DOWN." Motherhood: the origin of all multi-tasking! (Another irritating factor, for me at least, is the lack of quality sleep. I manage to get eight hours in any one twenty-four hours period, but it's not the same as contiguous hours, and I am a little fuzzy...okay, a LOT fuzzy around the edges because of that. At least I hope it's that; the other option is that I'm the first person in my family to get dementia--and at such an early age, too!)

Laura (the Younger) seems to have formed a strong attachment to Robin, who good-naturedly suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous toddler love. Since they've only met a few times, I figure Robin must have some good mojo going for her, and we're currently in contract talks to market it. ;-)

We got to see pictures of J.J. and Robin's cruise to Alaska (my personal favorites were the glaciers dropping into the sea). As a side note, if you're planning to visit, always bring pictures for me. I've never understood the whole, "Oh, yawn, so-and-so is threatening to do a slide show from their vacation." I like that stuff, and besides, I file away information from it to see if I ever want to go where they've gone. Living vicariously has always been fun for me, possibly because I have hermit-ish tendencies. Anyway, bring on the pics, and don't be shy!

In order to thoroughly confuse Laura (the Younger), we're expecting to have dinner with Robyn tonight (I think she'll be fine, actually; she's seemed to be okay with more than one person having the same name.). Laura also seemed to have attached herself to Robyn the last time they were together. (Coincidence? Hard to tell. I have already apologized for naming Emily "Emily," in case the name has something to do with it. ;-) Of course, name statistics being what they are, Laura will probably meet around 100 Emilys by the time she's six.)

August 8, 2006

Remember the Milk

I think I'm in love. I've just found Remember the Milk, and I heartily recommend it. It is a web-based to-do list keeper, complete with RSS feeds for your lists, email reminders, and programmers who actually support (and communicate) with their users.

It may not work for everyone, but it suits me to a 'T'. Just so you know my biases, I'm not really that organized....that is, I like to be organized but it does not come naturally to me, especially when I'm in creative mode (you should see my desk at the end of a teaching lesson...or, God forbid, teaching day! I also often say [and it's true] that I'm organized, but not tidy; a key distinction.) I think partly because of that, I prefer to-do lists to just a calendar. While I of course keep track of appointments and such on a calendar, I don't schedule everything that needs doing ("8:30: Dust mantel"); perhaps I should, but I don't. I'm much more likely to glance at my lists and say, "It's 8:30. What do I feel like doing that's on my list? Or what needs to be done before 8:45?" If you work that way, too, RTM may be just what you've been longing for. It allows you to enter events with times and dates, so it can double as a calendar, but it's really set up for the inveterate list-maker.

Palm Desktop was the last program I really loved (rendered useless by iPod software...I've been somewhat adrift ever since, which is one reason I've neglected everybody's birthdays!), and iCal has tried to take its place, but this program beats them both all hollow as far as I'm concerned.

August 6, 2006

Birthday Pics are Up

It was a fun time. Here at last are the pictures:
the Party itself and the People
the required Cake Smash (delayed by request of the Birthday Girl until the next day. Hey, why not prolong the festivities?)

August 1, 2006

Our latest obsession

Matt's gotten me hooked on posting on the local paper's forums. There
are so many racist, bigoted, education-hating intolerants out there
that it's just hard to resist smacking them around a little in debate.
So part of me feels the urge to at least counteract and challenge the
weird stuff that gets spewed. Worse, I seem to be making a difference
in some of their minds. That just makes me want to do it
more....sigh. So I'm sorry I've been neglecting you.

Brief update: Got the chimney liner in yesterday; had Emily's big
family birthday bash today. Pictures up soon.