Thursday, February 25, 2010

Answering the Hard Questions

Whooo - some of you northerners didn't like yesterday's post about our "Blizzard." But don't worry. I'll be suffering through the summer when it's 100+ here in Austin for days on end and you're out having nice summer evening barbecues and such.

On another note - I'm answering hard questions from my girls over at Deep South Moms Blog. Take a look.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blizzard 2010 - Austin style

I know everyone in the north has had to deal with months of bitter cold, horrible winter storms, and snowfall that's being measured in feet rather than inches, but we've had it bad down here in Austin, too.

Take this week - Sunday was sunny and 85 degrees. We had to turn on the air conditioning in the car on the way home from Cirque du Soleil. And then yesterday - it snowed. It was practically a blizzard. Some schools in Austin closed early, and others opened late this morning. There was a run on marshmallows and hot chocolate at the stores. It was chaos!

All for a whopping half inch of snow.

I mean, you can hardly see across the street for all the snow coming down.

It was so deep that Campbell could barely walk in it.

And we nearly lost Elizabeth in a snowdrift.

Ella and Lily and the neighbors were able to build a giant snowman with all the snow in the yard.
The snow lingered for hours after the sun came up this morning. You can't even imagine the mess on the roadways. Thank goodness TXDoT sent out sand trucks.
We'll be talking about the Blizzard of '10 for years to come.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Ballerina Basher

Lily's birthday was a few weeks ago, and we had a roller skating party for her. The kids all had a grand time, and I was impressed with how well they did on skates. For some, it was their first time on wheels.

Ella was ready to skate first, but she decided to wait for company before hitting the rink. She was a little unsteady at the start but improved greatly at the end of the hour of skating.

B's mom and aunt decided to put skates on Elizabeth. They got the smallest pair the place had and laced them up. Elizabeth had a blast and did two laps around the rink. By the end of her first lap, she was getting frustrated with her grandmother and aunt for holding her hands because she wanted to take off all by herself. She's showing a streak of stubborn independence that's worrying me a bit.


When a friend heard about the skating party, she started coming up with Roller Derby names for Lily. Her suggestions were Lightning Lil and Ballerina Bomber. I said I liked Ballerina Basher better because it sounds a bit more violent. I can just picture Lily out on the derby track - pink tights, a tutu, a black helmet with a skull and crossbones.
The roller rink had a poster advertising a junior Roller Derby team. Perhaps I should sign Lily up. She's already got a good name for it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

B*tox report

It's been two weeks since I had my B*tox injections, and they seemed to have worked. There have been two days when I could tell I was having a migraine - I had the weird visual disturbances, nausea, tingling in the back of my neck - but I couldn't feel the usual migraine pain. I was able to get past yucky side effects by taking some advil and drinking half a Coke.

Hallelujah.

As for the visible signs that I've had B*tox - you can't tell unless you know where to look. I can't furrow my brow anymore, which means I can't give the kids my patented stern look. B laughs at me every time catches me trying. Apparently I make a funny scrunched up face when I do it.

I know I said I'd do before-and-after pictures, but I just can't bear to put my goofy face out there for public ridicule.

My doctor said the effects of the injections should last for about three months, which means I'll be ready for another set right before the summer. The miserably hot weather here always makes my migraines more frequent and more severe, so the possibility of spending a summer without pain makes me not dread the coming months quite as much.

I'll just need to remind myself of the benefits of the injections while I'm lying there waiting to have the needles jabbed in my head again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My favorite day

This past Sunday was one of my favorite days of the year. For the 4th year in a row, the Austin Marathon came right down our street, and we hosted our annual race party. I know that being so excited about having a race come down my street makes me a huge running geek, and I'm fine with that.

When I ran my first marathon, way back when, I loved that the race wound through neighborhoods and that people sat out in their front yards to cheer. I thought it would be the coolest thing ever to live on a race route, but I always figured I'd have to move. I mean, who would ever think to bring a major race down our little block?

Then four years ago, in September, I started noticing large packs of runners coming down my street. So I looked up the marathon course and was thrilled to see that it included our block. Since then, we've opened our house up on marathon day to anyone who wants to hang out and cheer.

This Sunday's party was another great one. The weather was perfect for spectating, and the runners seemed to appreciate our music and noise. One runner claimed I saved his life by giving him salt to dip his orange slice in, and another gave me a sweaty hug after I let her use our bathroom. Plus I got to hang out with friends and neighbors and cheer for other friends who were actually running.

It was a wonderful way to spend the morning.

Our block is closed to traffic starting at 6:00am, and the kids love that they can play in the street without worrying - at least until the runners come through. Campbell had a great time joining the big kids in drawing chalk pictures in the street for the runners.

Some of the leaders. We were out there from the first runner until the last walker. Campbell and I even waved to all the trucks that followed the last walker, picking up cones and signs and porta-potties.

Just some of the teeming masses. We had racers coming past the house for more than four hours.
Each year race organizers tweak the course in a few places. And each year I keep my fingers crossed that none of their tweaks involve my street. I love marathon day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Day Too Many

This weekend I had my first post published over at Deep South Moms Blog. It's all about how being left at home for six days with two kids is so easy compared to life with four kids. And really, just having Campbell and Elizabeth at home has been much easier.

They don't seem to make the same level of mess that the big girls do, and they're content to play with blocks and trains rather than drag out every piece of arts and crafts supplies we own. I did laundry for the three of us Saturday afternoon, and I had it all washed, folded and put away within two hours. Amazing. I even managed to host our 4th Annual Marathon Watching Party on Sunday AND have the house completely cleaned up afterwards without a hitch.

Just when I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and how I was managing, karma bit me on the butt.

Elizabeth woke up Saturday night with a fever of 101.8. I gave her some motrin and she went back to sleep and slept all night without a problem. She was fine all morning on Sunday during the marathon party, even taking a two-hour nap despite the noise and commotion. But then Sunday afternoon, the wheels came off. Her fever returned, and when she wasn't sleeping, she was in my lap whimpering. Sunday night was awful - she slept in 45-minute increments, waking up just enough to whimper in her crib until I patted her.

I took her to the doctor yesterday morning, and he diagnosed a respiratory virus, which means there's nothing we can do to treat it but push fluids, use a humidifier and give her motrin when her fever spikes. I had hope she'd take a long morning nap after the doctor's appointment so that I could sleep too. But no such luck. She only slept for 45 minutes and then spent the rest of the day wanting me to hold her. I so desperately needed back-up yesterday afternoon. If B had been home, I could have taken a nap and left him to deal with the sick baby.

B and the girls get home late this afternoon. And while I'm dreading the mountain of laundry, noise and commotion they'll be bringing with them, I can't wait to have another adult in the house.

Plus, I've missed them all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Texas girls visit the snow

video

B and the big girls are in Washington, DC right now. They flew in on Thursday, managing to miss all the snow-related travel problems until they got to the airport in DC and had to take a cab to the hotel because the Metro was shut down.

They're there for USA Climbing Nationals, for which Ella qualified a few weeks ago. She climbed yesterday and placed 26th out of 30 climbers in the 11 and under division. B said she climbed very well, but that she was too short to reach a lot of the holds. But she kept on trying, even after taking a few falls. Ella was a bit disappointed after she climbed, but as soon as B said she could play in the snow, she perked right up.

The snow is definitely the high point of their trip. They've never seen anything other than a light dusting. So to go someplace where the accumulation is being measured in feet, is a dream come true for them. The first night they were there, B called me while he was standing outside with them. I could hear the shrieks of joy in the background as they pelted each other, and daddy, with snow balls.

B tried to talk them into going to the Air and Space Museum Friday afternoon, but all they wanted to do was sled down a hill by the hotel over and over and over and over again. Once they were soaked to the skin, B dragged them inside for a warm shower to thaw out, only to have them beg to go back out again.

Today the girls have agreed to go to museums, but only because B promised them that they'd be at the National Mall with its miles of snow.

They get home Tuesday, and there is more snow forecast for tomorrow. They may get a chance to see what a real snow storm looks like, rather than the little flurries we get here.

Even though Ella didn't get to advance to the next round in climbing, she and Lily have had a trip to remember. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Law of Averages

Yesterday morning Campbell got stuck while trying to put his footie jammies back on. He came to me for help, and when I pointed out that his sleeve was inside out, he said, "Oh, it's inside out. You a genius, momom."

I nearly died laughing.

But then I realized that I've hit an interesting stage in my life. Campbell thinks I'm brilliant, but the girls, Ella in particular, have hit the age where they think I'm an idiot.

Maybe I average out to mediocre.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rejection

Three weeks ago, Wendi forwarded me a listing for a job that, on the surface, seemed like a dream come true. It was a position for a copyeditor/writer at an independent publishing house here in Austin. I have wanted to work at a publishing house for, like, forever.

I immediately spit polished my resume and picked a writing sample and sent them off with my fingers crossed. A week later, when I still hadn't heard back, I sent an e-mail to confirm that they had received my application. I got an almost immediate response with an editing test attached.

In the meantime, my neighbor had done some research on the company and told me that it was a vanity press shop and warned me away. While there are some excellent writers who go the vanity press route, the majority of the clients are those who have money to spend and the delusion belief that they have penned the next great American novel/mystery/biography/memoir/Oprah's pick.

But I plugged along, because I figured being an editor at a vanity press would still be good job experience. If I could manage delusional writers there, I could handle anything anyone threw at me.

But then I looked at the writing sample. It was AWFUL. My third-grade daughter writes better than whoever put this piece together. If it was pulled from the text of an actual manuscript and an example of what I would be doing in this job, I had vastly underestimated what the job entailed.

The only thing that would have salvaged the piece would have been to delete it and start from scratch, but I knew that wasn't what they were looking for. So I focused on fixing the punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors and then offered some suggestions for rewriting in a few places. I sent it off and hoped for the best.

Yesterday I received an e-mail thanking me for my application and telling me that they had received applications from many qualified applicants and that the job had been filled.

I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I'm not sure I wanted a job holding the hands of writers who produced dreck like the writing sample I received. And I really have no idea how I thought I would manage a full-time job at this point in my life. Finding day care for Campbell and Elizabeth would probably have eaten up every bit of my salary. Plus, after seven years of working from home, setting my own hours and sitting at the computer in my jammies, I don't know how I would handle normal 9-5 hours.

On the other hand, my professional ego is a bit bruised. If I may toot my own horn, I'm a damn good copyeditor. What's more, I enjoy doing it. I love catching errors in punctuation and grammar. I have a whole shelf of copyediting, grammar and style books. I have my own copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. I'm also a better-than-average writer. If I'm not good enough for this job, then who is?

So here I am, licking my wounds and continuing on with the freelance work I have, grateful to at least have a job. But rejection sucks.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Truant!

Saturday's mail brought a mortifying delivery - a letter from the school district informing us that we are in danger of having a truancy complaint filed against us because Lily had three unexcused absences. I opened the notice and stood there stunned. I had to re-read it several times before I could even process what it said. And then I died of embarrassment right there in the living room.

It's all my fault that we got this letter, and I know it. I'm the one who forgot to send notes in to school after Lily's absences. I'd remember that I needed to do it, but somewhere between remembering and actually writing the notes, I'd get distracted and nothing would happen.

Once I got over my embarrassment (which comes back every time B teases me about my truant child), I started railing against the system that threatens the parents of elementary school students with truancy complaints.

Lily gets dropped at the school door every morning by me or one of the other parents in our carpool group, so it's not like I'm sending her out the door and she's deciding to cut. We take education seriously in our house, so if I let either of the girls stay home, it's because of illness, not because I'm letting them play hooky. I really am a responsible parent, except when it comes to writing excuse notes.

So this morning I went in to school and talked to the attendance lady about the letter, and she let me write excuse notes for the three absences in question. She said she's not sure if there is a time limit on excuses, but that she would enter the notes in the system and see what happened.

Once I finished pleading my case and telling the attendance lady what a good mom I am, I had to inform her that Ella and Lily will be missing two days of school for their upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Which blew my arguments for being a good mom who makes her kids go to school right out of the water.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Holy Hell! That hurt

This morning I went for my long awaited Botox injections. I had been wavering in my decision over the past few months, but then I suffered through several weeks where I had a pretty much continuous migraine for days on end. So I sucked it up and called the doctor's office. And then I called them again, and again, and again, because they'd never call me back. Finally they scheduled me for today.

Wendi Aarons went with me for moral support - or out of pure curiosity, I'm not sure which - and I was glad she was there. I was so anxious ahead of time that it was good to have someone to chat with. Plus, she kept Elizabeth busy with her iPhone while I was talking to the doctor.

Bottom line, the injections HURT, like the doctor was sticking a knife in my forehead. Fortunately, I only had to have four injections. If I had needed more, I might have gotten off the table and walked out. The severe pain was short-lived, but my forehead does still sting where the doctor did the injections.

The doctor said that I probably won't see much in terms of a Nicole Kidman-esque forehead because of where she did the injections, which is a relief. I don't want to look frozen.

I've taken a bunch of before pictures, and I'll post them along with some after shots as soon as the red lumps on my forehead go away.

The best part of my morning, though, was getting to have coffee afterwards with Wendi and Jennifer of These Are Days.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The high point of my day

Last week, while at Target, I wandered into the laundry aisle to grab some dryer sheets, which I had been out of for two weeks. Instead, I bought this bar that sticks on the inside of the dryer and lasts for about two months (although, at the rate I do laundry, it will probably only last a week).

When I got home, I sprinted into the garage and stuck it in the dryer and thought, "I can't wait to do laundry and see if this works!"

And then I went in my closet and cried into a box of chocolate.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Seven

Today is Lily's 7th birthday, and she is so excited about it that her head might just pop. Normally, I have to drag her out of bed by the toes on school days, but today she just about levitated herself into the living room while singing, "Today's my birthday! Today's my birthday!"

Her teacher told me that Lily made this announcement yesterday in class: "Tomorrow's my birthday. You can all make me birthday cards!" The girl loves being the center of attention.

We're having a family dinner tonight with fancy cupcakes, and then she's having a roller skating party on Saturday. She's been counting down the days to her party for the past four weeks, complaining that time is moving too slowly.



Lily was so calm and quiet as a baby. She liked nothing more than sitting in her seat and taking it all in. It turns out she was studying everything that was going on and learning from it. Now, she chatters non-stop and manages to infuriate her siblings at an alarming rate. She can be wildly enthusiastic about the entire world and devastatingly heartbroken about the entire world all in about five minutes. She's been twirling and dancing since she could walk, and her Saturday ballet classes are the highlight of her week. She's my animal lover, wanting to mother every animal she meets. She's also the snuggliest of my babies, always happy to climb into my lap for watching movies and reading stories.
Happy birthday Lily-bear. May seven be as wonderful as six was.

Monday, February 01, 2010

One of those days

By 2:00 Saturday afternoon, I had called it quits for the day and gone back to bed.

The day had started well enough. I made it down to the Trail for part of a run with the group. I couldn't keep up with their pace, so after about a mile and a half I turned off to do my own thing. It was a solid run at a good pace with some hills thrown in for fun. I went home feeling pleased with myself and the world in general, especially after a long, hot shower to thaw out from running in the cold.

I managed to get an hour's nap in while Elizabeth slept and the big three were with my mother-in-law.

But then things started going wrong.

My mother-in-law was supposed to have Ella home by 1:00 for a science fair work session, but she was late. I'm phobic about being late, so when they pulled in at 1:15, I grabbed Ella and threw her in the car. And promptly backed into my neighbor's car.

She has parked her car in the street across from our driveway forever. B and I have joked about how it was only a matter of time before one of us hit her car. I just wish it hadn't been me.

I pulled over and went to their door to fess up to what I'd done. The boy-neighbor probably thinks I'm the biggest doofus ever. I was so flustered I could barely get a complete sentence out. I tried to explain that I was running late and asked if I could bring over my insurance information when I got home. He laughed and said it was fine given that he knew where I lived. I let out a nervous giggle at that.

Before I dropped Ella off at her work session, I had to stop at the neighborhood store to pick up some of her supplies. As we were dashing through the aisles, I turned around quickly and smacked Ella square in the nose. She reeled back with her hands across her face; I wanted to cry.

I dropped Ella off at her science fair project partner's house and drove very carefully back home, afraid that something else would go wrong, because bad things always happen in threes.

When I got to the house, I wrote down all my insurance information and headed across the street. The girl-neighbor, who owns the car I hit, came out front as I walked over. I showed her the ding on the car I caused and handed over my info. She, the wonderful person she is, said that she wasn't going to file a claim because the car already has dings and dents on it, adding that she's only driving it until she can afford a new one. I wanted to hug her, but I don't know her very well, and I was afraid she'd think I was odder than she already did.

So I skulked home and climbed into bed before anything else could go wrong for the day.