Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm the writer

When people ask me what I do, I usually say that I'm a mother of four but that I also do some freelance writing. And I usually feel like an imposter when I claim to be a writer because it's not my primary occupation.

On Friday I had a work meeting where I met with some new clients about an upcoming project. When I walked into the meeting, my project manager introduced me around to the other folks in the room, and one of the women jumped out of her chair, shook my hand, and said, "You're the writer!"

She said it like she was impressed that I was a writer and like she actually valued what I was bringing to the table.

I spent the whole meeting feeling a foot taller and the rest of the day like a real writer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hey look

I've been updating my other blog. Somehow I've been finding time to get lots of reading done lately.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I'm extra cranky

I took this picture at 7:00 pm. We've had more than 60 days so far this summer with triple-digit heat.
Summer is never going to end.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Running, or lack thereof

Over in my little bio blurb, I list myself as a runner, but I haven't been writing about my running because I haven't been doing nearly enough of it. I don't feel like I can even call myself a runner these days.

After Elizabeth was born, I vowed to get back into shape during the winter so that I'd be able to just maintain in the heat of the summer. That resolution fell by the wayside pretty quickly. As did my goal of getting back into shape during the spring. And trying to start back to running during the summer is so miserable.

And now, here I am, 10 1/2 months after Elizabeth's birth, and I'm still not back in running shape. I've had lots of false starts and a few stretches where I've come close to feeling like a runner again. But something always seems to happen - I get sick, one of the kids gets sick, we go on a trip, Elizabeth goes on a non-sleeping jag - lather, rinse, repeat.

Since I needed something to get me motivated, I rounded up a team for the Zilker Relays, which is next Friday. Now, with team honor on the line, I really have to get my act together. No more excuses.

So far having the race as a motivating factor is working; I'm becoming more determined to get out there and run. I ran before sunrise on Monday, and today I forced myself out for a short run at 9:45 after I had gotten Elizabeth down for a nap.

I'm ready to call myself a runner again - almost.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reaching for the stars

As I discovered during our stay in Atlanta, Elizabeth doesn't sleep well away from home. She starts out well enough, but as the nights go on, she sleeps less and less. This was especially true at the beach. Our last night there was the worst night I've ever had with her - ever.

She slept well enough from 7-10, but then she woke up at 10 and refused to go back to sleep. I tried everything I could think of - letting her noodle around and play, nursing her, giving her a bottle of water in her crib, letting her cry - and nothing worked.

Finally, at 1am, out of sheer desperation, I took her down to the beach for a walk.

I grew up in Sarasota, FL, home of the famous Siesta Key, and I took lots of night time walks on the beach. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy walking on the beach at night. The roar of the surf is so calming, and the foam on the waves is luminescent. The only sign of the horizon are the lights on the ships lying at anchor. And the stars were just amazing; it was dark enough that I could actually see the Milky Way.

At one point, Elizabeth started stretching her little arm out as far as she could and opening and closing her hand. It took me a minute to figure out what she was doing - she was reaching for the stars. It was that one little gesture that saved what had been a terrible night.

After walking for 20 minutes, I took Elizabeth back inside and put her in bed. She jabbered and laughed in her crib before finally falling asleep with a smile on her face. I hope she was dreaming about catching the stars.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Scenes from the beach

Here are a few random pictures from our week at the beach.

Lily loved riding the waves. She'd scream with delight every time she caught a good one, whether it was in the tube or on a boogie board.

The kids played a wild game of capture the flag one night after dinner. There were accusations of cheating and lots of laughing and running around. They all trooped up covered in sand, exhausted and happy at the end of the evening.

Ella and the other big kids spent hours digging this hole. Unfortunately, someone came along and filled it in shortly after we took this picture. The kids came up with a grand scheme to dig a new hole and then take shifts throughout the night to watch for anyone trying to fill it in. The next day, however, they forgot all about their plans while playing.

Elizabeth loved sitting right on the edge of the water where the waves could just get to her. She'd let out great big belly laughs every time a wave rolled in. She also ate more sand than I care to think about.

Campbell has great beach hair. His curls get even wilder with the salt and humidity.

B and the other dads cooked up a mess of fish one night for dinner. B's contribution was bacon-wrapped shrimp kabobs on the grill. They were a huge hit.

Fortunately, Unfortunately, there aren't any pictures of me. As usual, I was the one holding the camera.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Da Beets!

We're at "da beets," as Campbell calls it, and a great time is being had by all, thank the baby jeebus.

We're sharing a big house on right on the dunes of S. Padre Island with four other families. It's our sixth summer staying here, and it's the best trip yet.

Last night was wonderful. The weather was perfect, and all the dads worked together to cook up a mess of shrimp and fish on the grill. All the grown-ups ate seafood and chatted while the kids gobbled hot dogs. Once the kids finished their dinner, they headed down to the beach to play some very complicated game that seemed to mostly involve lots of screaming and running around.

Eventually the dads sauntered down, beers in hand, to supervise the kids on a walk down the beach. By the time they returned, most of the kids had transitioned from walking in the waves to full-on swimming and were soaked to the skin. Campbell, with B's help, had shucked all his clothes and gone skinny dipping.

Everyone trooped up to the house and showered outside, which the giggly 8-year-olds thought was just about the best thing ever.

My big three were so tuckered out from the day of fun that they were asleep almost instantly, putting an end to Ella's plan to stay up all night with one of her co-conspirators, who had also fallen asleep.

After the kids were abed, some of the adults chatted while the others played poker on the back deck. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

To the beach we go

I'm mostly packed, and B has started loading the car for tomorrow's trip to the beach. I'm making lists of the few little things that need to be done before we walk out - re-set the AC controls, take out the trash, run the dishwasher, leave a key for the housesitter, etc.

Usually, when we go on a trip, I'm the most organized packer. I make lists of what needs to be taken and carefully make piles of clothes and socks and underpants for the kids. This trip, however, I'm not doing that. My give-a-damn got up and went, and I don't care whether the kids have enough underwear. The house we're staying in has a washer and dryer; if the kids need clean clothes, I can run a load of wash.

My goal is to get everything and everyone in the car with as little stress as possible, and so far things are going well - mostly because the big three aren't here. They're spending the night at B's dad's house, which means they're not underfoot while B and I are packing and loading the car.

With any luck this year's trip will be better than last year's. Campbell's a whole year older and has turned into a water baby. Keep your fingers crossed that he actually likes the beach and the sand.

See you in a week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I feel safe at home

Several years ago, mom had some freak injury that required a trip to the ER. While she was there, the nurse said, "I need to ask you - do you feel safe at home?"

Mom, without realizing what the nurse was actually asking said, "Well, we don't have a dog. We do have an alarm system, but we haven't used it in ages. But, yes, I feel safe at home." When mom saw the perplexed look on the nurse's face, she realized that the nurse was really checking to see if perhaps the injury was the result of domestic abuse. Mom's off-the-cuff answer seemed to satisfy the nurse that mom really was safe.

I bring this up because I half expected someone to ask me a similar question while I was at the ER with Elizabeth on Monday, especially after being treated to sharing a waiting room with a woman having a LOUD phone conversation about how furious she was that she was going to have to deal with Child Protective Services AGAIN about her son's injuries.

Why was I worried someone would question me?

Because I have a huge, ugly bruise on my right cheek as a result of our trip to our lake place on Sunday. While I was holding Campbell and attempting to step down on to the big raft tied to our dock, I lost my balance and stumbled a bit. As I fell, Lily popped out of the water onto the raft, and our heads collided. My cheek hit the back of Lily's head. She barely even noticed the collision. I, however, felt like my head had exploded; I truly saw stars.

My first thought, after making sure I didn't drop Campbell in the lake, was that I had broken my cheekbone - that's how much it hurt. I sat on the raft, stunned, for a few minutes before having B switch places with me and float with Campbell.

The bruise has been getting worse and changing colors by the day. And the spot is still tender to the touch - it even hurts to wash my face. And it's absolutely noticeable.


I've taken to wearing make-up on a daily basis in an attempt to hide it, but that probably makes people more suspicious.

Fortunately, the people who know us well, know that I am safe at home. And if anyone doubts me, I have witnesses to the accident.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yet another ER visit

I have had it with trips to the ER. Since November of 2007, I've been to the ER for the following reasons:

  1. Campbell's head injury.
  2. B's broken heel.
  3. Campbell's possible ingestion of pills.
  4. B's second heart episode.
  5. Campbell's penis incident.

Last night I added trip #6 to the list.

Elizabeth doesn't crawl; she does this funny little crab-like scuttle, and she is surprisingly fast at it. As I was getting dinner ready, she scuttled over to the oven, which was on, and managed to pry open the broiler drawer. She started screaming like I've never heard her scream. I swooped her up and immediately put her hands under running water. Despite the cool water, blisters started forming on her fingers immediately.

I called my pediatrician's office, and the receptionist put me right through to the nurse. I'm glad they know me well there, because I was barely able to form coherent sentences. The nurse told me that since the burns were on Elizabeth's hands and forming blisters we needed to go to the ER.

After I interrupted B's business call to tell him what was going on, I headed out with Elizabeth, who still hadn't stopped screaming. She was so frantic that she refused to nurse.

Elizabeth screamed the whole way to the hospital, which is about 15 minutes from the house, and the whole time I was checking in. She calmed down a bit while watching the fish in the big aquarium, but each calm period only last about 5 minutes.

It took us two hours to see the doctor, and Elizabeth cried most of the time we were waiting. The child-life specialists who work the ER brought Elizabeth toys, and those distracted her for a few minutes at a time. I also resorted to letting her play in the water in the sink.

The doctor looked at Elizabeth's hands and said that everything was fine - the burns aren't deep tissue, so unless infection sets in, no further treatment is needed. He didn't put any bandages on, saying that the blisters are nature's bandages. He did tell me to put neosporin on the burns, but I'm not sure how to do that given that Elizabeth sucks on her hands when she's not scuttling around.

The poor thing passed out as soon as I put her in the car and slept the whole way home. She had a rough night, waking up every time the motrin wore off, but she woke up this morning like nothing had ever happened. She's even scuttling around with showing any signs that the burns are hurting her.

I was a wreck when I got home, though. If I hadn't been on the verge of a migraine, I would have been next door, bumming wine from my neighbor.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth doesn't seem to have learned from last night's trauma. When I set her loose today, she bee-lined for the kitchen and the oven. She's the third baby we've had in this house, but the first who has shown any interest in the oven. I'm going to have to find some sort of latching mechanism to keep her out of it.

I've informed all family members that I'm done with visits to the ER. The next time anyone gets hurt, he or she is responsible for finding a ride to the hospital.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I have entered my annual August Doldrums, and I am in a horrible funk. The heat and bickering kids and have I mentioned THE HEAT, have dragged me down.

Even though this is my 15th summer in Texas, I still have not adjusted to the heat. This summer's been a particularly tough one given that the triple-digit temperatures started back in June and haven't stopped. We've had something like 43 days over 100 degrees. I long for cool temperatures and rainy days.

I truly believe that I suffer from a summer version of Seasonal Affective Disorder. But unlike those who suffer from it in the winter, I can't order a special lamp to help.

My kids seem impervious to the heat, begging for trips to the pool and the park. But the very idea of getting everyone into swim suits and coated in sunscreen and then loaded into a broiling car just exhausts me. So we stay at home, and the girls fight with each other.

So if you don't hear from me much in the next few weeks, it's because I'm hibernating in my dark, air conditioned house, waiting for winter.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

He takes after his father

As a young kid, B would give his mother heart failure doing crazy things on the diving board at their neighborhood pool, so she signed him for the diving team to give him a constructive place to do all his tricks. He dove competitively through high school and then dove for The University of Texas, where he was a member of two NCAA National Championship teams, and the U.S. National Team. When his diving career ended, he coached age-group diving for a few years here in Austin.

I think Campbell will be following in his dad's footsteps.

And for the record, the wall behind Campbell used to be covered with the cute alphabet cards, but the kids pulled them all off and used them like frisbees. So I had to put them out of reach. Sigh.