Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How did this happen?

Campbell turned five on Saturday. It seemed like just yesterday we brought this little guy home from the hospital.


And now I have this big guy.


Time moves entirely too quickly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Dream Job

Since posting last week that I’m looking to up my work hours, either with a full-time job or full-time freelancing, I’ve had several wise friends suggest that I sit down and think about what kind of job I really want and then work for that job.

Of course, this has be within reason. My real dream job of being Neil Patrick Harris’s super-secret girlfriend is never going to happen. (sob) And my daily hope that I’ll open the mail to find a large check from a long-lost, fabulously wealthy relative probably isn’t going to happen either.

So what do I really want to do?

I want to be an editor. I love reading other people's words and helping make them better. I live for finding errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation – it’s like a constant treasure quest. I read The New Yorker each week and learn from their editing style. I read Strunk & White at least once a year, just for fun.

So I’ve decided I want to set up shop as an editorial consultant, offering my services to freelance writers, academics, bloggers (ahem), companies that don’t want to hire a full-time editor – pretty much anyone who wants help making their writing more polished and professional.

My concern, though, is whether enough companies and writers place enough value on editorial services. So many people call themselves writers, and have great ideas to get out there, yet haven’t got the first idea of proper punctuation or grammar. I cringe every time I see someone write “her and I.”

Has today’s language become so informal, so texting based, that no one even notices improper grammar? I hope not.

I know this won’t be an overnight career change for me, and I’ll keep on with my regular writing gigs in the meantime, but I’m going to work on getting the word out. I’ll be posting on Craig’s list and on UT’s job boards. I’ll be spreading the word among my freelance writer friends and folks who run their own consulting shops. Basically, I’m going to go against my basic nature and become an outgoing, glad-handing self promoter.

So if you want some help making your writing better, or know of someone who does – like another writer or consultant – please pass my name along. References and rates available upon request.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My little angel

Last Saturday, Lily auditioned for the Ballet Austin production of “The Nutcracker” for the very first time. She has been looking forward to this ever since I took her to see the show as an almost-four-year-old. She’s kept going through all her creative movement, pre-ballet and, now, ballet 1 classes with the goal of making it into the cast. This is a big, professional production, complete with live music by the Austin Symphony

The auditions were an exercise in controlled chaos – 85 girls in purple leotards with their hair in buns milled around the big studio talking and giggling, while nervous moms, dads and grandparents hovered on the periphery.

Parents were absolutely NOT allowed into the theater during the audition, and during that time, the ballet school’s director came in to tell us about the process. She explained that there are four rotating casts of angels, and our packets will have all of our performance dates.

She also made it very clear that parents are absolutely NOT allowed backstage before, during or after performances. There will be a drop-off lane outside the Long Center, and we will pull up and push our kids out the door. Ballet Austin staff will escort them inside and chaperone for the rest of the time they’re there. Many moms, myself included, did a little cheer at not having to hang around through every performance. And even better, we don’t have to find a parking place. But there were more than a few moms who looked very concerned at the idea of leaving their girls. I wonder if their parents will let them participate.

The casting lists were posted today, precisely at noon, on the door of Ballet Austin. They warned us many times not to call or e-mail to ask about casting. The only ways to find out were to check the cast list on the door or wait for the cast package to arrive in the mail.

I headed down there at 12:30, hoping to avoid the crush. I checked the list very carefully and was relieved to see Lily’s name on it.


To be honest, there wasn’t much doubt about whether she’d make it. The program director said that they had four rotating casts of 15-22 angels, so there was plenty of room for everyone auditioning. And Lily’s teacher said that the girls knew all the steps that the director would be asking of them. She said that the audition was mostly to make sure the girls could follow directions and not act crazy while standing around waiting.

Even knowing that . . . when I got back in the car, I burst into tears, so relieved that she had made the cast. I guess I was more worried than I realized. When I called my mother to tell her, I got all choked up again. Sheesh.

When Lily got home from school, I showed her the picture of her name on the cast list, and she screamed and did a happy dance from one end of the house to the other. She is beyond thrilled. All of her years of dance class finally have a tangible payoff.

I can’t wait to sit in the audience and see my baby girl on stage. I’ll probably start crying all over again. And I’m just fine with that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Polishing up my resume

I am seriously considering returning to work full time or upping my freelance hours to equal full time work. There are a lot of reasons why, including the fact that I’m getting closer and closer to having no kids in the house for most of the day.

My dream job is as a proofreader at a publishing house. I dream of reading all day, looking for mistakes in texts. But then again, I am a nerd.

It’s been more than a decade since I’ve had to actually look for a job, and I’m not even sure where to start. Yesterday I began with putting the word out to friends and former co-workers and freelance clients that I was open for business. I spent this morning updating my LinkedIn profile.

Ideally, I’d like to find something that would allow me to put my researching, writing and editing skills to good use. I have experience writing for a text book publisher, writing continuing education modules for medical professionals, and writing for government agencies. I’ve done everything from chatty newsletters to dry legal briefs to letters to angry constituents.

I’m an excellent copyeditor. I live for grammar and punctuation. I even have a whole shelf of style and grammar guides that I refer to on a regular basis. Don’t even get me started on the whole Oxford comma debate.

Research was often my downfall in college and grad school. I’d get so wrapped up in resources that I’d run out of time to actually write. Getting paid to sit and learn new things is a great way to spend the day.

So, I’m looking. If you know of anyone who needs to hire a writer/researcher/editor, either full time or freelance, let me know. I’ll knit you a pair of socks if I get the job.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The boy ain’t right, part 427

Thursday afternoon, B had to work, so I was stuck dragging the whole crew along to Ella’s climbing practice. I bribed them with dinner from P. Terry’s if they behaved, and it turns out, my kids will do just about anything for P. Terry’s.

When we finished dinner, the little three and I went back to the gym to hang out while Ella finished climbing. I had fun chit-chatting with some of the other parents. Things were good.

Then Campbell announced that he needed to go to the bathroom. For the first time ever, I told him he could go in the men’s room all by himself. After a few minutes, I noticed he hadn’t come back, so I sent Lily to investigate.

She came back immediately and told me she could hear Campbell crying in the bathroom. My heart sank. All I could think was that the first time I let him go to the bathroom by himself, a child molester walked in.

One of the dads volunteered to go in after Campbell, but when they didn’t come right back out, I barged in to investigate.

I found Campbell standing at the sink, shirt tucked into his backwards underpants, which were pulled up to his ribs, sobbing hysterically while the poor dad tried to wipe off all the tears.

Me: Campbell, what happened????

Campbell: I locked myself in the locker.

Me: (trying not to laugh) But why would you do that?

Campbell: I wanted to see if I could fit. And I did. But I couldn’t get out.

Other dad: I couldn’t tell which locker the crying was coming from so I had to open all of them to find him.

When I called B to tell him about the incident, he roared and said, “That is the perfect illustration of the difference between boys and girls. A girl might climb in a locker, but she’s not going to lock herself in.”

At bedtime I asked Campbell what he’d learned that afternoon. I was pleased that his answer was, “Not to lock myself in lockers.”

But that doesn’t mean I’m betting he won’t ever do it again.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

For Sale–Cheap

One almost three year old

  • Curly hair
  • Green eyes
  • Incredibly long eye lashes
  • Dimple in her right cheek
  • 28 pounds
  • Fully fluent in English
  • Knows her ABCs
  • Can count to 14
  • Knows how to take pictures with an iPhone
  • Loves to snuggle
  • Loves to sing and dance
  • Very good at drawing people who look like turtles
  • Favorite words are “I don’t want to”
  • Has a mean right hook
  • Has incredible grip strength, especially on hair
  • Can chuck a sippy cup record distances
  • Skilled in throwing tantrums
  • Very demanding
  • Extremely bossy
  • Likes to lie on the floor at Target
  • Refuses to be potty trained


Any takers? Please? I’d even be willing to pay someone to take her.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

He’ll kill me for posting this

But it is so worth it.

Last night, as I was pulling off Campbell’s shorts and underpants to put on a pull-up (he stays dry nine nights out of ten, but that tenth is a doozy), he covered his crotch with his hands and wouldn’t move them for me. When I asked why, he said, “I don’t want god to see my p*nis.”

I was stumped and ended up gasping trying not to laugh. Those who know me, know I am not at all a god-fearing, church-going person, and aside from sending my kids to a very liberal Methodist preschool, religion doesn’t play a role in our family. So I have no idea where this whole “god is going to see me” stuff is coming from.

After a minute or two, I collected myself enough to be able to tell Campbell that there are billions of p*nises in the world, and god has too much to do to look at his.

That seemed to make him happy.

In the meantime, Elizabeth was bouncing around the room chanting, “goddammit, goddammit, goddammit.”

I’ve one kid who believes god is watching him all the time, and one who loves using his name in vain.

Yeah, I’m going to hell.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Seventeen Years

Today marks the seventeenth anniversary of my moving to Austin. I had actually been here already, visiting for two weeks, but it was Labor Day weekend that I made the official move.

At 4:00 Friday evening, B and I attached a trailer to the car and headed eastward. We drove through the night, which was miserable, and rolled into Gainesville at about 3:00 in the afternoon. B and I got all my stuff out of the storage facility, and then spent the night at my former roommate’s apartment.

Sunday morning we got an early start and made it to New Orleans early enough in the afternoon to be able to have some fun. We slept in a little on Monday before getting back in the dreaded car. Finally, we made it to Austin in the early evening and unloaded everything.

Seventeen years, and I’ve never questioned my choice to just pick up everything, drop out of grad school, and move here. At the time I had been coaching swimming at UF, but I’d let my contract expire and had declined the chance to be the head age group coach. Despite applying for several other coaching jobs, I had no other prospects lined up, so my plan was to move to Atlanta and live with my parents.

So after visiting Austin for two weeks and falling in love with the city, I figured it was time to make a leap of faith. I had money saved up and no other responsibilities. If I was going to do something completely unplanned and unexpected, this was the time.

I did temp work to start off, and volunteered as a coach for the local swim team. It wasn’t easy going, especially as I watched my savings dwindle, but things eventually worked out for the best.

Everything good in my life – my husband, our kids, our friends, my work – comes from my decision to move here. It’s been a great 17 years, and I look forward to many, many more.