Monday, August 31, 2009

Pimp My Virus

I've been thinking for a while now that I should dress up this here blog. You know, pick out a jazzy new layout -something snappy and cougarette-ish - that might wake things up around here and inspire me. In fact, I was pretty determined to accomplish this very task over the past few days. Since I was kicking around the house anyway, and spending a disproportionate amount of that time sitting at the computer, bouncing back and forth between "work" activity and "leisure" activity...why not make a selection and give it a whirl?

So I spent some time perusing. There's a lot of very weird choices out there. One or two templates kinda sorta caught my eye, but nothing has really wowed me so far. After several days of looking, I pushed the project aside again to spend some time with the Tornadoes, and with Boyfriend, over the weekend, only to find myself a bit weepy and blue once Boyfriend headed back to his own crib on Sunday night. I needed something to do. So I perused some more.

Right in the middle of my perusal, my computer decided it was time for a nap.

Then it woke up and told me it was infected. Many, many failed reboot attempts later, I had to agree with it.

It was not a good night.

So my laptop is now at the laptop hospital, being tended to by the Geek Squad, who gave me a recovery prognosis of five to seven days. Harumph.

And my blog looks the same as always. Double Harumph.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Farewell, Sweet Summer, We Hardly Knew Ye

My mother is on her away to my house right now, and I have no idea why. It could entirely be a simple parental visit - which I hope it is - but those don't happen very often. Something else usually has to be stirring for her to make the trek out here to the woods on a Saturday morning.

These woods, by the way, are already starting to close in on me. Summer has drawn to a wet, cold end, and it's only four short days now until that yellow bus comes flying down the road at seven in the morning. I think I am supposed to feel sad about this. I guess I do feel a little bit sad about it. I have done my best to cram as much family activity as possible into the summer months and to savor the Tornadoes as they are at this moment in time. I do feel a twinge of something blue about them each starting yet another new grade. All this growing up business I am seeing really does conjure up a mixed bag of emotions. True all of that, yes, and yet the thing that I am feeling the most over the past few days? A bit claustrophobic.

The fact of the matter is that a big, fat, monotonous hamster wheel is looming over my head right now. And I am not ready for it. In a practical sense I guess I am ready, but mentally I'm screaming a little bit in my head. Because once that school bus comes flying by, and the homework starts, and the gymnastics practice schedule kicks off, and the birthday parties start lining up, it's Bye Bye, breezy world with your convenient restaurants and fun things to do and Hello, cluttered house in the woods. Hello, cooking dinner every night. Hello, inflexible routine. Hello, collapsing in the laundry pile at nine o'clock at night. Ugh, I am already exhausted.

So these are the kinds of things rattling around in my head today, as I sit here waiting for my mother to arrive. And I am telling you, blogosphere, because these are things that I cannot tell my mother, or at least if I tell her I cannot expect that she will understand. Because I didn't grow up this way. Did you? My parents were not slaves to my extra curricular life, or my social calendar. And yet every parent that I know is staring down the same barrel of hands-on parenting insanity right now. And every one that I have spoken to this week has made it a point to mention that their own parents did not put themselves through this. Did they start handing out crazy pills in the maternity ward or something? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I forgot to mention that last night I somehow got roped into allowing both of the Tornadoes to have sleepover guests, and that those guests are still here. I think there is a game of hide and seek going on at the moment. That's my guess as to why my closet door has opened and closed about four billion times while I wrote this, anyway. I wonder, if I joined in and volunteered to hide, could I pay them not to seek me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, it IS Wednesday

When I first started this blog, I had hoped to incorporate an occasional book review into the mix. I'm quite bookish, you know.

I'm also quite sporadic with my attention to the blogosphere...but I didn't really have to spell that out for you, did I? I feel like I am forever - and I mean every single time I sit down to actually write something here, and to peruse other people's blogs - trying to renew my commitment to blogging, and writing in general, and even to networking within the blogosphere to maybe possibly draw a few more readers my way. Seriously. I want to write more often. I just so often run out of minutes in the day, until the very tippity tip end of it, at which point I just want my book and a soft pillow. Because I'm bookish. You know?

So I read quite a lot, and I write not nearly enough, and I'll be damned if I can ever figure out a way to even those two facets of my life out while also juggling all the balls that represent the other ninety-five percent of my life. I think that's a pretty accurate number, but I was never very good at math. I was always more...well, I've made my point about that. Anyway, by the time I get around to writing something new, about a bazillion writeable moments have come and gone. And I find myself caught in a kind of mad frenzy, desperate to grab one or two of those moments and hurl them under my fingers onto the keyboard before they disappear from memory, and turn them into something readable. Sometimes it works. But I never get around to those book reviews.

So we're not going to call this next paragraph a "book review" exactly. It's more of a call to action of sorts. The action I am calling you to is reading a book. And the book is The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. If you are a woman, or a writer, or both, go read this book. If you have ever had a friend, or a group of friends, go read it. There are a hundred reasons why you should go read this book. What I'm saying is just pick one, and then go read it.

I'm not skilled at reviewing books, and I fear if I try to summarize the story or explain how exactly it affected me I am going to give it all away and you won't go read it on your own. All I can say is that I have not felt such a powerful sense of renewal to both my passion for writing and to my beloved friends in quite some time. But maybe that's just me. You'll have to see for yourselves. But that's only going to happen if you proceed immediately to your favorite book vendor, buy this book, and READ IT.

And then come back here and tell me what you thought, because I'd like to know if I'm getting overwrought in my advancing years. Plus, I may have written something new. I feel that's a good possibility. Really.

Now go!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Final Countdown

So we are down to the nubs of summer break - 1.5 weeks to go. As I have exhausted all known forms of available summer camp, just a wee bit short of the start of the school year, it looks like I'll be fielding the remainder of their time off personally while I attempt to "work from home".

"Working from home" was conceptually an option with my former employer, but it was kind of a joke. It's actually only a back-up possibility anyway, since I kind of need to be out in civilization in order to really do my job in a way that actually pays the bills. But it's a nice alternative if there's a snow day or someone is sick. Fortunately, my new employer does not require me to also be telepathic about whether tomorrow will bring a snow day or a sick child. Working at home under the former regime meant lugging a laptop and accompanying paraphernalia home the night before (provided I remembered to do that part), and then disconnecting my wireless router, rendering my personal computer useless, so I could plug the work computer directly in, which meant I could only "work" while sitting on my bed next to the modem kept under my nightstand, and you try dealing with cooped up children home from school for the day while parking yourself in bed in front of the slowest running computer ever.

Gee, I guess that really bothered me.

Anyway, my new employer actually realizes that we are in the 21st century, and makes it possible for me to work on my own computer through my own wireless router, and also to freely move about the cabin. See? I just did some work. Oops, where did I go? Just did a little more work. So. Much. Better.

So today the Tornadoes have friends over to play. It's working out swimmingly so far. They all decided to ride bikes up to The Rock - just a big ol' funny-shaped rock where they like to play house, deeming its various nooks and crannies as different rooms - and leaving me with some quiet time for now. I will use this quiet time to contemplate how I will fill the remaining nubs of summer break with them. Hmm.

School shopping? So very done, as evidenced by the bulging backpacks at the front door, full of more supplies than any child could possibly need. We have filled in what clothing gaps there were to fill in. I have repeatedly warned Sixth Grader not to be surprised if her new teacher accidentally calls her "Aeropostale" for the first month of school, since it appears that she will be advertising for them on a daily basis.

Swimming? Sounds like a great idea, but can't do it, due to the fact that Fourth Grader's eyebrow is currently glued shut. There was this birthday party, see, and Fourth Grader had an unfortunate encounter with a cabinet corner, thus splitting her head open directly on the right eyebrow. One not-so-quick Saturday afternoon trip to Urgent Care later, where my charming little girl "fitted out", as she will tell you herself, about the idea of getting a couple of stitches, resulted in the very patient Urgent Care doctor deciding to glue her wound shut instead. But no swimming for at least five days. Splendid.

We may be able to manage an amusement park trip, but I think it's mostly going to be a week at home. So I can maybe, you know. Work. From home. And possibly write a little bit, which I am really missing and wish that I could find the time to do again.

Alas, it appears the young ladies are returning from The Rock. I have promised dogs and burgers today, so I am off to woman the grill.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cell Phones and Saxophones

Yes, yes, I know. I've been back from Virginia for four days, and I'm just posting about it now. Actually? If I were to post about our trip to Virginia, it would read something like this:

It was really. Really. Hot.
We swam a lot.
And slept late every day. The end.

Here's a few more details: The drive, though long, was quite pleasant. Colonial Williamsburg is kind of a tourist trap. There are about a million pancake houses in the state of Virginia, but not a decent cup of coffee in sight. In fact, there didn't appear to be any coffee whatsoever, which might explain why I was able to sleep late every single day. Third Grader is tall enough for rollercoasters but refuses to ride one. ...Yep, that about covers it.

As lovely as vacation was - and, truly, it was lovely - a strange transformation overcame the Tornadoes on the twelve hour drive home. Somewhere around the halfway mark, the conversation turned from "What other snacks are left to eat?" to "When do we go back to school?" And from that point on, they talked incessantly about school. With excitement and vigor, they prattled on about how much they liked their new teachers, how many books they were going to read this year, what they might learn in math, and who they would sit with at lunch. It was like a spaceship came down and swapped out my summer lovin' girls for a couple of school loving pod people.

So my roundabout explanation for why it took me four days to get around to posting is that I have pretty much been in this twilight zone of school preparation since we got back, despite the fact that there are three full weeks of summer break left. We have sorted, straightened, handed down, or discarded our school wardrobes. We have completed all necessary shopping. At this very moment there are two fully loaded backpacks parked by the front door. And just a few hours ago, I caught Third Grader taking math tests on the Internet. For fun.

Two little tasks were left over at the end of the weekend. Third Grader - okay, it's time to suck it up: FOURTH Grader - has her heart set on playing the saxophone in band this year, which means a trip to the music store to establish the dreaded rental agreement. She would like me to not put this off too much longer. I believe she intends to teach herself how to play the damn thing before the first day of school. The other leftover task we completed tonight, for Fifth - okay, then, SIXTH Grader: the girl got a cell phone.

Oh, the controversy. I know. But there are many, many strings attached to this acquisition. Grades. Attitude. Full and spontaneous access to all call logs and text messages, granted without question to me at any time that I choose. The girl is so excited to have her phone, it's unreal.

So that's my story. And now I have to go pry a shiny phone out of a little girl's hands so she can go to sleep.