Monday, June 30, 2008

That's not a word!

One of my many language-related pet peeves is the random and senseless creation of new words. The English language is filled with wonderful words, there is no need to make up new ones. But it's happening all over the place. An example?

Irregardless - it's not a word. You mean regardless. My father-in-law uses it all the time, and I scold him every time I hear him. It's been 14 years, and I haven't gotten through to him yet.

And don't even get me started on making verbs out of nouns. Impact is a noun, and sometimes an adjective, but not a verb. Something can have an impact, but you cannot impact something. Use affect instead.

I take this pretty seriously and have been known to yell at back at the radio during NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." My kids are used to my rantings. But my husband did think I was having a heart attack the day I heard Jodie Foster, who graduated from an Ivy League college, talk in an interview about the "impactfullness" of a movie.

Yesterday I almost crashed the car when I saw a new made-up word. I was driving north on Lamar after taking the girls to see "Wall-E" when I passed by a construction site. The sign on the construction fence read, "Architected by Such-and-such Company." I did a triple take, not sure I'd read the sign correctly, but I had.

I called my sister, who works for an architectural/design firm in Los Angeles to see if "architected" is an accepted term in her world. She assured me that it isn't, but she did say that she's going to put it on all of her work from now on - "Architected by Keeffer." She was at the office when I called her, and one of her co-workers overheard her say that and cracked up.

I need to drive by the place again and take a picture, just to prove what I saw. And then I may just send an e-mail to the company to scold them for their mis-use of the language.

Then again, maybe I need to get a life.

Updated: I got a picture!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One of THOSE mornings

This morning was the monthly runners' breakfast. Each month, someone from our rather large, very informal, running group takes a turn having everyone over for a potluck breakfast. We hosted back in February on the morning of the Marathon.

This event has grown through the years. Ten years ago, when the first few of us started running together, we'd do a long run on Saturday morning and then go for breakfast at a restaurant up the hill from the trail where we run. We'd do it pretty much every Saturday morning. But then our group started growing - adding more and more people - to the point where the restaurant would make us wait forever before seating all 15 of us. So we started trying out different restaurants, with varying success.

After a few years, we all started having kids, and finding a place to eat became even harder. We needed someplace that could handle the crowd AND that didn't mind hordes of small children AND that had a playground. The breakfasts also switched to monthly events because everyone's schedule got so busy.

So the idea of having breakfast once a month at someone's house was born. I usually look forward to these events. It's a nice chance for everyone to catch up, and all the kids play well together. And since I'm not running these days, it's the only chance I have to see some of these folks.

This morning's was hard, though. The family who hosted have a pool, which sounded perfect given how hot it's been lately. But it really didn't go well for me. Ella, who is a fish, was just fine, entertaining the littler kids with her flips off the diving board. Lily, who has finally figured out how to swim, was skittish because there wasn't really a shallow end, and she couldn't touch. So she mostly just wanted to cling to me for the first hour or so. Campbell had no interest in getting the pool with me - he just wanted to climb up and down the steps, over and over and over again. I had to sit right there near him in case he got bumped off the steps or got a wild hair and decided to try going to the third step, which would have put him in over his head.

As a result, I didn't really get to visit with anyone, especially not after Campbell decided he'd rather run around the yard. I had to sit where I could at least keep an eye on him. I ended up not really being able to sit near the other adults. Plus I couldn't hang out to help Lily with her swimming. She got very short-changed by me this morning.

I'm sure I looked fine and in control the whole time. One friend, who is expecting number 2, told me it was good to see how calmly I handled three kids because it gave her hope that she would be able to deal with two. I just smiled. I didn't tell her that I was beyond frustrated, feeling like I hadn't done a good job with any of the kids during the morning.

I drove home feeling awful about myself and my parenting and worrying about how I'm going to handle events like that when there's a fourth kid to drag along. I worry that I'll never be able to do things with friends and their kids again because I simply don't have enough arms to go around.

Fortunately, Ella and Lily had fun despite my frustration, and I need to remember that's really what matters. When we got home they told B all about the party and the big squirt guns and the diving board. Lily proudly told B about how she had gone underwater by herself and had swum a little on her own.

Even though I didn't have much fun, the girls did, and that's the most important thing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I lost at Scrabble

Ordinarily, I wouldn't mention losing at a game, mostly because I'm fiercely competitive and HATE to lose. And I'm not very gracious when I win either.

But Wednesday, I lost at Scrabble to two almost second-graders.

Ella had spotted our old Scrabble game in the top of my closet and had been begging me to get it down and teach her to play. Wednesday morning I got out the game and taught her and her friend M, who was here for a playdate, how to play.

In defense of my loss, I tried to only play words that they'd know. I decided not to spell squamous or hypotenuse. And since their spelling skills aren't quite up with their reading levels, I had to help the girls with their words. I helped M use her q and Ella use her j.

But it turns out I did too good a job at helping them, because they both beat me. Ella, who is taking after me in her competitiveness, decided it wasn't so bad to have M win the game because I lost. She gloated to B later that day about how she had beaten me.

I think it's time for a rematch, and this time, I'm not going to show any mercy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Worry wart

I'm a worrier. It's what I do best. I have been known to worry about things to the point of becoming ill. When I was 23, I worried about life so much that I was anorexic and on the verge of ulcers. Once my therapist asked me what I would do if he "waved a magic wand and made everything I worry about disappear." My answer was, "I'd worry about not having things to worry about." I think he almost gave up on me at that point.

I'm better now, thanks to some good anti-anxiety medications, but that doesn't mean I'm worry free.

Right now, I'm worried about Campbell's lack of words. Friends who have boys reassure me that he's completely normal, but I'm not convinced. Part of the problem is that he has two extremely talkative older sisters, and I keep comparing his progress to theirs at the same age.

Ella jabbered nonstop as a baby and started saying words right around her first birthday. By the time she was two, she was speaking in complete sentences. Lily was a silent baby, watching and absorbing everything that went on around her. Then, right about her second birthday, a switch flipped, and we haven't been able to get her to stop talking since.

Campbell jabbers all the time. He is obviously telling us very important things, complete with hand gestures - especially when he's telling on his sisters - but there aren't any actual words. He had a few words back at Christmas time - thank you, shoes, juice - but those have disappeared. He'll say mama and dada when requested, but he doesn't use those names when he wants us.

Now all he has is exclamations, that he mostly uses appropriately - uh-oh, yay, wow - and one noun - ball. He says more a lot, but it can mean more milk, more food, more mama.

My worrying level hasn't been helped by my current writing project. I'm working on a continuing education module for nurses who do physical assessment exams on children. All the reference materials I have include long sections on developmental milestones for various ages. All of the lists for 18-14 month olds say that Campbell should have a vocabulary of 10-20 words and that he should be saying mama and dada.

I'm not worried at all about Campbell's physical development - he can run, climb steps, jump with both feet off the ground, and do somersaults. Nor am I worried about his mental development. He's got excellent problem-solving skills, which actually makes me a bit nervous because he always seems to be working out how to get himself into trouble. He follows directions pretty well, and when I ask him to bring me things like one of his toys or his shoes, he does it. He can point to body parts when asked, so I know he knows what things are.

He just won't talk. And that worries me. So please, dear readers who have boys, reassure me that Campbell is ok, that some day he will talk and we'll be able to understand him.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's a . . .


Sorry folks (mom), we didn't find out. I had my 20-week ultrasound today, which means I'm officially halfway there. Unfortunately, the second half is the longest one.

Anyway - the baby looks great, and I'm on track for an early November delivery. We'll be setting the date for my c-section at my next appointment. It's very strange to me that I'll know so far in advance the baby's birth date.

We took Ella with us to the ultrasound, and she had a grand time. The baby was in constant motion and had the hiccups, which Ella thought was very funny. However, we didn't get a good picture of baby's face - just its leg. It looks like a good, strong running leg.

Monday, June 23, 2008


The girls, well mostly just Ella, have decided that it's time to teach Campbell about babies so that he'll be ready when New Baby arrives. Ella came out the other morning with Blue Borrowed Baby (twin sister to Pink Borrowed Baby and cousin to Psycho Baby) all wrapped up in a blanket. She got Campbell to sit down in the little rocker and handed him the doll. He actually held the doll carefully and gave her gentle, as gentle as he is likely to be, pats. We all praised him to the skies for being such a good big brother and for being so gentle. He put up with it all for about two minutes before dumping the doll on the floor and standing up in the rocker to jump off it.

The next day Ella was wheeling Blue Borrowed Baby around in the doll cradle and pretending to feed her a bottle. Campbell got interested and started playing along. But then he decided he'd rather drink the milk instead of giving it to the doll. He got a little frustrated when no milk actually came out and hurled the bottle across the room.

Bottom line? I don't think we'll be able to trust Campbell alone with his new sibling any time soon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Knitting progress

I'm doing pretty well on sticking to my summer resolutions, and as a result I'm feeling a bit less harried. E-mail is still my downfall - I'm checking it far more often than I should, but I'm not answering work-related e-mails except during my work hours, which I view as progress.

Because I'm making myself slow down, I've found more time to knit. I finally finished the stripey socks I started for Lily back in March when I flew to New York for my grandmother's memorial service. I had finished the first sock pretty quickly, but the second had languished on the needles. Lily would cast longing looks at my knitting bag on a regular basis and ask when her socks would be finished. I finished the second sock after she had gone to bed, so I left them out where she would find them as soon as she got up in the morning. She was so thrilled that she had to model them for me.

My mother sent me this Flat Feet yarn a few weeks ago, and I've been desperate to start knitting on it. You knit the yarn by just unraveling it as you go. The colors are hand-painted, so no two swatches are the same, and you don't know what your socks are going to look like until you knit them. I started knitting on this as soon as I finished Lily's socks even though Ella is technically next in line for stripey socks. When I told her I was knitting socks for myself, she asked, "Hey! Why do you get to cut in line?" I told her that the knitter always has the right to cut in line and if she wanted socks she should learn to knit them. She didn't like that answer.

I absolutely lurv how the colors are coming out in the socks. I refer to them as my sherbert socks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dude, that was some good sh*t

Wednesday afternoon my head exploded with a migraine. As soon as B got home, I took my usual vicodin for the pain, which did exactly nothing. Then I started throwing up. Figuring I'd thrown up the vicodin I'd already taken, I took another. Again, no relief from the pain, which at that point was all the way up to 11.

I was up most of the night in misery, taking another vicodin at midnight, which just kept me awake. Campbell added insult to injury by waking up four times in the night.

The last time I was at the OB's office, the nurse practitioner said that if I got a migraine that didn't respond to the vicodin to give them a call about getting some fierosol (sp). I was hesitant to do so because I know it has caffeine in it, and I don't do well with meds that have caffeine - excedin migraine makes me throw up. But yesterday I was desperate. I called and talked to a nurse, who checked with the doc and then called in a prescription for me.

Fortunately, B was home, so as soon as I got home from the pharmacy, I was able to take the stuff. My sister had warned me that it would knock me out, and boy was she right. I took the pill at 2:00, and the next thing I knew it was almost 6:00. The pain was still really bad, but the sleep definitely helped me. I ate a slice of pizza, took another pill and went back to bed. Next thing I knew, it was 5:30 am and Campbell was crying for his morning milk.

My migraine is mostly gone, but I am more than a little wiped out. I could probably crawl back into bed and sleep for the rest of the day without having to take any more meds. Instead, I'm trying to put the house back together and planning a trip to the grocery store.

But I am comforted in the fact that I now have a pain pill that I can take even though I'm pregnant and that will knock me out, if nothing else.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picture Wednesday

Campbell is learning things from his sisters that I'm not sure I'm ready for him to learn just yet. Ella was at least two before she started doing headstands on the sofa. He's only 21 months. He can also do somersaults across my bed without a problem. Well, almost without a problem - the other day he somersaulted himself off the end of the bed and landed on the floor on his bottom. Fortunately, he was more scared than hurt.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dresser woes

This may seem like a small complaint, but it's been grating on me.

My daughters have shared the same dresser for the past four years. The dresser has always been organized the same way. Each girl has a drawer for shirts, a drawer for shorts/pants/skirts, and a drawer for jammies/sweaters. Despite this constant organization, their dresser seems to be a mystery to them.

Now that they both pick out their own clothes in the morning, I'm likely to hear one complain that she doesn't have any shirts. I'll go in and pull open a completely full shirt drawer. The girl's response will be, "Oh, I was looking in the wrong drawer." We'll repeat this process many times a week as they hunt for missing clothing that's right where it belongs.

It's getting worse now that I am teaching them to put away their own clothes. I'll hand each girl a stack and tell her which drawer it goes in - shirts, shorts/pants/skirt, or jammies (no sweaters this time of year). The girls will head off to their room and come back a bit later for the next load.

The next day I'll go in to put away a few straggling items or to retrieve something only to discover that they have both crammed all of their clean clothes into one drawer, ruining all my folding efforts.

I've given them several lessons in the past weeks on what goes where, but it hasn't sunk in yet. I went to help Lily find a night shirt last night only to discover that all her jammies were in her shirt drawer.

Sigh. The lessons will have to continue.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Three hours

That's how long it took for Ella to complain this morning that she was bored. Granted, one hour was spent watching cartoons on PBS, and half an hour was spent having her hair trimmed on the front porch, so really, it only took her 90 minutes to get bored.

Last week was her first full week of summer break, and she spent every morning at rock climbing camp, so she didn't have much down time. Today, however, reality set in once Lily headed off to preschool, which runs through the summer - hallelujah! Campbell just isn't as entertaining to play with as her sister is.

After Ella told me she was bored for the fourth time, I sent her to her room. On her first day of summer break, shortly after she asked me, "Is this what you do all day?" I told her that every time she told me she was bored or asked me what she could do, I would tell her to clean her room. So now she phrases the question in different ways, like, "What can I do that's fun and that's not cleaning my room or sweeping the garage?"

This week is especially hard for her because her best buddies are all otherwise occupied. One is in Canada on vacation and the other is in art camp, which is like pouring salt in her wounds - she's upset I didn't sign her up for art camp, too.

I suppose I am going to have to break down and add one more camp in somewhere so that she and I can both survive the summer. She has two more weeks of rock climbing camp, but they aren't until July, which leaves three looonnnggg weeks of being bored with mom.

At least she might be gaining a new appreciation for what it is I do all day. Maybe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

You'd think I would know better

Subtitle: Good thing he's so dang cute

(Warning, this story contains references to poop)

Last night I decided to put Campbell in bed in one of his sister's big t-shirts and his diaper. It's been staying in the 80s long after sunset, and even though we do have air conditioning, the girls have been kicking off all their covers at night. I figured Campbell was probably too warm in his "summer weight" footie pjs. Besides, he just looked cute enough to eat running around in a t-shirt that came down to his ankles.

I was working in my office about an hour after I put Campbell in bed when I heard his usual pre-sleep chattering turn into crying, which is not normal for him. So I went in to check on what was wrong. As soon as I opened the door, the smell hit me, and I knew exactly what had happened. I turned on the light to confirm my fears - the little bugger had pooped and then stripped off his diaper. I guess I should be glad he didn't do it in the other order.

Fortunately, he hadn't decided to play in or paint with the poop, so the damage was minimal. I pulled him out of the crib, stripped off the nasty shirt, and got him cleaned up. Then I zipped him into his footie pjs, not caring if he was too warm. Campbell figured he'd been given a reprieve from bedtime and ran out of his room.

The girls, who had been threatened with cancellation of this afternoon's swim with their uncle if they got out of bed again, both hung over the ends of their beds and tried to lure Campbell into their room. They thought this was BIG fun.

Once I changed out Campbell's sheet, I tracked him down. I found him sitting in the dark kitchen, hoping I wouldn't see him. Instead, I popped him back in his crib with a fresh cup of water. He screamed bloody murder for a few minutes out of sheer temper. I think he thought he was up for the night. Fortunately, he fell asleep a few minutes later. The girls, however, spent a while longer giggling about the events.

I just felt stupid. He's my third child. I should have known something like that would happen. Perhaps I'll be smarter with the fourth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer slow down

I've been feeling way too frazzled lately, like I'm being pulled in 30 directions at the same time. My body has been sending me messages that I can no longer ignore. I firmly believe that stress leads to weakened immune systems and then to illness. So I'm taking my first ear infection since childhood and the ginormous cold sore on my lip as big old signs that something in my life needs to give before I fall apart completely.

So here are my resolutions:

Set regular working hours. One of the bad parts of being a freelancer is that work is always here waiting for me. I tend to try to cram work in wherever I can, frequently while I have three kids running around making noise. I get frustrated with them for distracting me, and they get frustrated with me for not paying attention to them. As a result, I don't get much done. So from here on out, I'm setting two regular work times during the day - while Campbell naps in the morning and after the kids go to bed. I know there will probably be some crunch times when I need to break this resolve, but I'm going to stick to it on a daily basis whenever possible.

Ignore my e-mail. I'm fairly compulsive about answering e-mail. When I hear the chime go off, I sprint to my computer to see what message is waiting. Often, it's work related, and I feel the need to take care of the issue immediately, which means I'm working all the time. So now I've turned off the announcement chime, and I'll be shutting down outlook during my non-work hours to remove all temptation to peek. So if you're used to getting an immediate response from me, you'll have to be patient from now on. I'll get to you, I promise.

Knit more. When I'm knitting, I'm less likely to pop up and do random things like check e-mail or switch out laundry or clean the kitchen again. Knitting is about the only thing I do that forces me to sit still.

Enjoy the time I have with my kids. I need to stop viewing their interuptions in my day as a distraction and a nuisance. While I do have a paying job, I need to remember that they are my first and most important job. They are the reason I'm here all day - not work, not laundry, not vacuuming.

These resolutions all tie back in with setting work hours. I think that really is the key to slowing down and enjoying things more. I need to pry myself away from the computer and my work and remember to enjoy the good times while I can. Before I know it, the summer will be over, the girls will be in school all day, Campbell will be at preschool, and I'll miss them when they're gone.

One last resolution -

No more volunteer gigs. Danskin is over with, and I don't have any volunteer hours on the calendar for the next few months, other than working in Lily's class twice a month. I've told all my friends about this resolution, and they've all promised to remind me of it if they hear me start to waver.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Darn you, electric company

I've been doing laundry non-stop since Saturday night when we first discovered the lice on the girls. Each time that I've found new lice, I've had to start the laundry process all over again, taking freshly cleaned sheets and pillow cases back off the beds. I've also been putting all the comforters and pillows in the dryer on high for 40 minutes in hopes of killing the little suckers.

I've spent so much time doing lice-related laundry that I have fallen behind on regular laundry, and we're all running out of socks and underpants.

I was hoping that today would be the day to catch up. My housekeeper comes every other Tuesday, and today was her Tuesday. When she's here, she does all the towels and bed linens and then re-makes all the beds. Now that I think we have the lice situation under control (knock on wood), the beds can be re-made safely.

Today was my day to work at Lily's preschool, so I spent the whole morning looking forward to coming home to laundered sheets and freshly made beds. And the ability to get started on washing clothes.

No such luck.

The transformer on the power line across the street blew at some point this morning, and we lost power at the house for about 2 hours. This meant the housekeeper couldn't finish doing the laundry and she couldn't vacuum our bedroom, the only room in the house with carpet.

So instead of coming home to neatly made beds, I came home to a washer filled with half-washed sheets and a dryer full of damp towels.

Someone at City of Austin Energy owes me a few loads of laundry.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lice, day three

After doing a lice treatment Saturday night, and another one last night, I had hoped that we'd be done with the little suckers today. When I combed out Ella's hair last night, I found a few nits, but no live lice. B combed Lily's hair and found a few live lice, but when I checked her head after he finished, I didn't see any sign that she'd ever had lice.

However, I made her stay home from preschool today just in case. I let Ella go to her first day of rock climbing camp since she had been bug-free. Lily spent the morning moping around because she didn't get to do anything fun like Ella did. Instead, she had to go to the grocery store with me and take a nap because she stayed up too late last night because of having her hair combed out.

After Ella got home and I told her that she was going to a friend's house while I went to a doctor's appointment to follow up on my ear infection, I checked the girls' hair again. Unfortunately, I found a live bug on Ella's head, which prompted much wailing when I told her it meant she couldn't go to her friend's house after all. Lily's head, on the other hand, was still spotless. B, as it turns out, is really good at combing lice and nits out of hair. I'll be happy to rent him out for the right price.

When I got home from the doctor's appointment, I had a message from a good friend, whose child is also in Ella's class, that her son also had lice. This further confirmed my theory that the critters came from Ella's school, not Lily's.

My friend recommended using cetaphil to treat the lice, which I like better than using a chemical bath for the third day in a row. She even sent over a spare bottle of cetaphil that she had bought at Costco after her kids had lice the last time. She and I then commiserated on how much laundry we'll be doing all night tonight. I'll be re-washing all the sheets I'd already washed. Sigh. I can't get caught up on regular laundry because of all the lice-related washings.

After dinner, I parked the girls in front of the TV and started in with the cetaphil. They weren't as cooperative as they have been the past two nights. I think they're getting as tired of the treatments as I am. They've now had their hair blow-dried into pretty stiff 1960s-esque hairdos and are headed to bed. We'll be getting up extra early tomorrow to rinse their hair with vinegar and wash out all the cetaphil.

If I see any more lice after this, I may just shave all their hair off.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bugs, bugs and more bugs

Last night, at about 7:30, Lily climbed into my lap and complained that her head itched. She still has problems with cradle cap (at age does it stop being cradle cap and start being dandruf?). I started absent-mindedly combing through her hair looking for problem spots when I saw what was really causing the itching - lice.

This is our first go-round with lice. I'd be more mortified than I already am if it weren't for the fact that we have two sets of good friends who have already dealt with lice. And the fact that the kids of the countess on "The Real Housewives of the Big Apple" picked up lice at their fancy Swiss summer camp.

I immediately went to the drug store and bought two family packs of lice treatment and went home and started in on the girls. Lily seemed to think it was all a grand adventure, saying that the special chemical-filled conditioner smelled good. Ella, on the other hand, pretty much whined and complained the whole time the stuff was in her hair.

After I rinsed them off, B and I sat them on the living room floor with extra lights around us for the fun of using the little tiny combs on them. I was prepared for an hour of whining and crying, but they were both amazingly good. I think the dual bribes of a big bowl of B's famous popcorn and "Shrek 3" had something to do with their cooperation.

More than an hour later, we finished the combing and then checked each other for lice. Fortunately, neither of us seems to be infested, but that didn't stop my head from itching all night. Campbell was already asleep last night when the discovery was made, so I checked him today. He seems to be clear, too. Phew.

Now I'm washing every sheet and towel in the house, and all stuffed animals that sleep in bed with the girls are sealed in giant zip-lock bags. Tomorrow they'll bake in the sun and 96 degree heat to kill all the little suckers.

I've been checking the girls' heads all day today, and I haven't seen anymore bugs. But I am going to give their hair a good rinse in vinegar, which, according to the Internets, is good for getting rid of the last, hard to find, nits.

Keep your fingers crossed that this is a one-time happening. And if you have any secrets for treating lice, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Danskin, Year 10

This weekend is the Austin Danskin Triathlon. The Danskin Women's Triathlon Series is a series of triathlons held in eight cities around the country each summer. This is Austin's 14th or 15th year to hold the event, and we have one of the larger races in the country with just over 3,000 women participating.

I've been working on the race as a committee member since 1999, and four years ago I got hired on as paid local staff, which meant I took on a lot more responsibility. For the past three years, I've been threatening to make that year's race my last, but this year I really think I mean it. A full decade of working on the race is a nice amount, a good round number. Plus, by the time the race rolls around next year, I'll have four kids. I think I'll have enough on my hands.

The first two days of Danskin weekend are traditionally the hardest, physically. This year, however, I don't have much to do today - which is when National comes in and does their thing in terms of banners and signage. I ran some stuff out to the Expo this morning, and I'm leaving in a few minutes for Costco to buy 1000 each of granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and small bags of cookies. I'm not sure my car will hold everything.

Yesterday I was out at the race site just putting out fires and supervising the workers who were putting up bike racks and fencing and scaffolding. I spent a lot of time driving a golf cart around checking on things, taking it as easy as possible, given my "delicate condition." Even though I didn't do much physical labor, I enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle that goes on out there. There's an air of determined productivity that I thrive on.

The highlight of the day was getting to drive Sally Edwards, who is a bit of a legend in the Danskin world, to her hotel. She is just the nicest person and so much fun to talk to. She asked if Austin was still weird, and I don't think I had her convinced until I explained what the Republic of Texas Bike Rally, which is happening at the Expo Center next weekend, was. I think she decided that having 40,000 bikers show up for a weekend qualified as weird.

It's amazing to me to think of how much the Austin Danskin race has changed in the 10 years I've been working on it. When I started, the race was out on Lake Travis at Camp Chautaqua, which is a now-closed private park next to Pace Bend Park. The site was so small that we could only fit about 800 participants. There were no good areas for spectators, and parking was terrible. We also only spent one day setting up the race site.

Now we have more than 3,000 participants and an equal number of spectators. Parking is a breeze. We also spend two full days building the venue, and breaking down the site takes a lot longer.

Back in the day, all the work was done by volunteers - putting up bike racks, setting up scaffolding, hanging banners, tearing it all back down again, picking up all the trash. Now we have paid laborers out there doing the grunt work, which makes life so much easier for everyone involved.

So tomorrow, I'll be up at 4:30 am and headed out to Decker Lake for the big event. Every year I cry a few times from the sheer energy and joy of the event. It is inspiring to see so many women, of all shapes, sizes and abilities, out there doing something so positive and healthy. Many of them have never done anything like it in their lives, and it truly is a life-changing event for them. I'm proud that I get to do a little bit to make that happen.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Picture Wednesday

I know Picture Wednesday doesn't have the same alliteration as Wordless Wednesday, but I can never manage the wordless part.

Here's Ella today, as she headed off for her last day of First Grade. She's wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt despite the predicted 100 degree weather because they're having a spelling bee in class today, and she wanted to dress just like the kids did in the movie Akeelah and the Bee. Ella is all about spelling bees these days.
I did make her take a change of cooler clothes for after the bee.

Lily came outside and wanted in on the picture action, too. Like her parents, Lily loves to lounge in her bathrobe.
And just for contrast, here's Ella on the first day of First Grade. She doesn't look much different in the pictures, but I see a world of difference in her from the beginning of school.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Summer is here

And it's a little early. Yesterday's high was around 100 degrees, depending on which local news report you believe. It was a record-breaker any way you looked at it. The temperatures are a good 10 degrees higher than normal for early June, which doesn't bode well for the summer ahead. Sigh.

I HATE summers in Austin. Even though this is my 14th summer here (I can't believe I've lived here that long), I still haven't adapted to the heat and humidity. By the time August rolls around, the tempteratures will stay in the high 90s long after the sun sets.

So I'm stocking up on my outdoor time now, while I can. Last night, after the kids were in bed, I sat on the front porch and enjoyed the relatively balmy 80 degree weather. I listened to a podcast on my iPod and just watched the world go by, ignoring the laundry and paying work that were waiting inside.

This morning, I was early for an appointment, so I stopped at a hip coffee joint on South Congress Avenue and drank some iced tea while I checked e-mail and caught up on the headlines. The weather was perfect, but I could tell it wouldn't last long. By the time I walked to Ella's school to meet her for lunch, I was regretting my decision to not drive.

I am not looking forward to this weekend. The weather forcast is the same - hot, humid, no rain in sight. This weekend is the Danskin Triathlon, and I'm working on the race for the 10th year, and probably last, year. I've told the race director that I can only be at the site on Friday for the site build and Sunday for the actual race, but I'll probably still end up out there on Saturday for some reason or another. At least the site is at Decker Lake, so I can jump in the water to cool off if I need. But on race day we're going to have the racers drop like flies in the final hours. Some of the women are out there for three or more hours, and it will be HOT by then. I plan to spend as much time as I can in the medical tent in front of one of the cooling fans.

For the rest of the summer, I'll either be hiding inside and letting the kids vegetate in front of the TV or floating in our neighborhood pool. Anything to escape the heat.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Take Your Time

It's OK, really, I didn't have anything better to do than wait for roadside assistance to send a tow truck to my house.

Several hours ago I went out to look in my trusty and beloved car (said without a trace of sarcasm) for something. My automatic door unlocker-thingy didn't work, which I initially thought was due to the thingy's having a dead battery. I used the actual key to unlock the doors and noticed an odd ticking noise. So I tried to start the car. Nothing happened - not even a clickety-clickety of the car trying to start.

So my neighbor came over and tried to jump it for me. We let his car run while attached to mine for at least five minutes, and mine still didn't start. The neigbhors have offered me use of one of their cars (the husband rode his bike to work today), which I will take them up on.

However, before I go anywhere I have to wait for the tow truck to arrive. Hyundai offers free roadside assistance, and they are kindly sending a tow. But since I'm not stuck on the side of the road somewhere, I'm apparently a low-priority case. I've had two automated calls from roadside telling me that that the tow truck will be here in an hour and no sooner.

This puts a major hitch in my day. I have to drive down to RunTex to pick up shirts for the Danskin race committee. Then I have to deliver those shirts and two boxes of volunteer shirts to a t-shirt printing place that is in so far-south Austin that it might as well be San Antonio. I was hoping to make the trek south long before afternoon traffic starts, but it looks like I might not be so lucky. I'm trying to figure out how I can ditch at least one of the children while I run this errand.

And I'm not even going to think about what is going to happen to my schedule tomorrow if my car is still in the shop. I have a sitter coming so that I can go to meetings and run errands. I may have to cancel if I can't get around.

This is honestly the first problem I've ever had with my rolley-mobile. I love my little Hyundai. It runs like a top, at least it did until today, and does everything I ask of it. This is in sharp contrast to B's BMW, which seems to have constant problems and to always be in the shop. Last month alone, he took it in for a new transmission, which would have cost us $7,000 had the car not been under warranty, and for a broken rear window. Just goes to show that expensive cars aren't always better.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here waiting, waiting, waiting.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reading update

One of the good things about being so sick recently is that I've had a lot of time to read, mostly because I've spent so much time in bed.

I just updated my reading blog - Plenty More Books Inside - with the books I've finished in the past month or so. I do have two that I'm still working my way through - one is a biography of Edith Wharton, the other is a bio of Einstein. They are both pretty dense, so it may be a while before I finish them. Plus I keep getting distracted by other books and by articles in The New Yorker.

All the reading has taken away from my knitting time, which is bad. I have a half finished pair of socks for Lily that I've been working on since March.