Monday, December 31, 2007

Stupid Alarm

Athena had some issues sleeping last night. Consequently, so did Chris and I.

Actually, I can't be sure it was all Athena. I think I noticed Chris come back to bed at least once last night, and I have no idea if that was to take care of Marcus or Athena... I never heard either one of them cry.

But shortly after he came in, Athena pattered in all smiley and expectant. It was 4am and she was intending to crawl into bed with Daddy. I led her back to her room instead.

She was obviously tired, but awake, nonetheless, so I tried to get her to relax. I thought she was drifting off, so I exited, only to be pulled back in her room 15 minutes by her wails and moans.

She dropped off very quickly this second time, and I came back to bed. I was seriously into my REM sleep when the stupid alarm went off. It was hard work to rouse myself completely and get out of bed, but I managed to accomplish it in a half hour or so, knowing that if I waited much longer than that, I'd be seriously late to work.

It wasn't until I got into the shower that I realized I have to start my day at another library today, and don't really need to be there until 8:15, which means I probably could have waited another half hour (beyond when I actually got up) to get out of bed.

Stupid alarm.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

So This is Christmas

Well, the house is returning to normal now. We still have a kickass gingerbread house downstairs (thanks to a marvelous kit from Target and my darling husband and daughter who put it together). We are also now one Game System richer since my mother bought Chris an X-Box 360. My condition for the new system was that we have games for the kids too. Currently, Chris is downstairs teaching Athena to play Viva Pinata. I'll go observe that in a moment, once I know MC MC is truly asleep.

We had a wonderful day yesterday, and we also took advantage of today. Both Chris and I were off work and the daycare was open. So we did what any good parents would do, and we shuffled them off to school. Call us evil, if you wish, but let's face it... routines are good for kids... so why break the routine? It allowed us to nap, go see Sweeney Todd, and even play a little Lego Star Wars on the aforementioned game console. Then we got the little man some stylin' new shoes and went to Five Guys for burgers.

I can't believe my five-day weekend is already over. It seemed to be gone in a flash. However, I think I can handle two days at work. Then two days off. Then one day at work. Then another day off. Not bad, really.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas From the Toddler!

When I came in from work Tuesday night, Chris informed me that Athena helped him wrap my Christmas present. She also wrote her name on the card with minimal help from her. We agreed that she obviously is a supergenius, and we patted ourselves on the back and retired for the evening.

Cut to next morning, when we are getting ready for school/work. As we get downstairs, Athena runs to the tree, flipping the switch on the way to turn it on.

ATHENA: Mommy! You have a present under the tree!
MOMMY: Really? Cool. I can't wait until Christmas so I can open it.
ATHENA: You want to see it Mommy?
MOMMY: I can see it, honey. You need to leave it under the tree.
ATHENA: It's sparkly books!
DADDY: Oh, no you DI'INT!
MOMMY: *laughing* She did!
DADDY: But we had an understanding!

Fortunately, I'm not sure what "sparkly books" actually entails. So now I'm even more intrigued. But I did enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Through a Child's Eye

Being a working mom, and a generally lazy person, I don't decorate for holidays much. I do know that as the kids get older, I will need to do more for most holidays because I am tasked with providing them glorious childhood memories and family traditions that will all come across to others as blatant neuroses when they are adults. But for now, I'm still a bit set in my non-decorating ways because of the "lazy" bit. It seems like a lot of effort to put out a whole bunch of crap (even if it is pretty or cute) just for me and Chris, and about six other close family members on Christmas Day. And the kids weren't really old enough to be concerned with it.

In previous years, we have used our annual holiday party as a reason/motivation to adorn the interior of the house with baubles and trinkets and trees. We have 50 friends over, and therefore the return on investment for that decorating time increases. This year, however, for several reasons, we have postponed our holiday party until January, thus eliminating any urgency in the decorating.

I have barely started my Christmas shopping this year, which is also odd for me, but is completely related to the same factors... my work schedule, my kids' schedule, and my inherent laziness. I will be shopping Tuesday morning before I go into work, and I will be shopping Friday when I am off for the time I will be putting in on Saturday. This has me pretty stressed out, coupled with the fact that our bank account is once again empty and we have once again, despite my efforts to the contrary, re-acquired some credit card debt.

I also cook the Christmas meal for my immediate family and, with any luck, my mom and my inlaws. I'd even love it if we threw a friend or two into the mix. Although I really enjoy the cooking, it is also stressful and can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, this year I have Dream Dinners, and so most of the work is done already.

All that to say that my vision of Christmas now is not really one of pure joy. But I do believe that is changing. Athena has discovered Christmas completely and wishes to immerse herself in it. Over a week ago, Chris and I were chastised from the back seat of the mom-mobile as we drove into our neighborhood:

"When are we getting our Christmas tree?"
"Soon, honey. Why?"
"Everyone in the other houses has their Christmas tree already."

Lovely. I didn't have the heart to tell her that hell would freeze over before either her father or I will be getting up on a ladder to adorn our house with little twinkly lights, which is what she was really observing. But we did assure her that a tree was forthcoming.

Chris pulled our tree out this weekend. Several years ago after a particularly bad "Christmas Light Incident" (or CLI), I purchased a pre-lit tree. I never have owned (as an adult) a real tree, as they make me physically ill, and my black thumb would render a live tree dead within about two days anyway. With Chris' allergies, it would probably kill him... so we have a fake tree.

And now we have a fake tree with lights.

And we love it.

Yeah, verily. Amen.

Fortunately for us, Athena seemed pleased as well. As Chris struggled to get the thing pieced together, Athena helpfully pointed out the "A" tag and the "B" tag. Clearly, having a fake tree is strengthening my daughter's engineering skills. We are such good parents to have a fake tree for her. Let us give ourselves a pat on the back.

Once we got the tree up, several things called us away from it. I was baking a pie, Marcus was filling his diaper with shocking ferocity, and we were making a genuine effort to clean the downstairs portion of our house in our constant effort to actually present guests with a house that does not look like the Town of Apex should come immediately and board it up. Athena, however, used this opportunity to practice her new big word: ornaments.

"I want to put the ormaments on the tree!"
"Or NA ments, dear."
"That's what I said! Or Ma ments!"
*Sigh* "We'll do it in a minute. Let's wait for... (fill in the blank with various activities) to be done and we'll all do it together."

Finally, after several episodes of Backyardigans and with Chris and Marcus upstairs doing laundry, I gave in and said that we could start and I'm sure dad and the little guy would be down soon to help. (Mind you, there are few things Chris finds more tortuous that decorating a Christmas tree).

I don't have very many fragile ornaments. I do have a few, all with some sort of sentimental significance, but for the most part, all of my ornaments are pretty sturdy. This is an example of ornament Darwinism. I only keep items with some personal value to them, and over the years, I have dropped many. Our cats have destroyed even more. So I am left with a fair number of sturdy ornaments and one or two really lucky delicate ones. I wasn't sure how my little preschooler would handle these ornaments, but I also have a pretty good detatchment from "stuff" and I'm willing to sacrifice one or two more delicate ornaments for the sake of letting her develop her self-esteem and fine-motor skills.

I'm pleased to say that my concerns were unfounded. After timidly only handing me a few ornaments to hang on the tree because she "couldn't," she found my Disney ornaments and began choosing ornaments that she had to hang herself because I clearly couldn't do it right. Soon, she was dashing from the box to the tree, placing ornaments and gently hanging them all over. This left all the delicate ones for me, with the exception of a working bell, which Athena felt had to rest low on the tree so she could ring it at every opportunity. Which she does. You would be amazed at how many opportunities present themselves. But I digress...

(The ringing! Make it stop!!!)

Suddenly, decorating the tree was fun again. I hate that Chris missed it, because he might have actually enjoyed it a little. Athena was diligent in her efforts to get all ornaments on the tree. We discovered one was broken and one had no hook, so those stayed off the tree. For hours after, she would ask about the ornament with no hook and the Minnie Mouse with a broken leg, and I would have to assure her that I will (A) find a hook for the former and (B)find the crazy glue for the latter.

Last night, she noticed that we have no star on the tree. I don't own a star for many reasons. I had a homemade angel treetopper my mother made in the late seventies or perhaps early eighties from aluminum and quilled paper, but that was either destroyed or is lost in one of the boxes in the garage. I haven't had it since before Chris and I married if I remember correctly. I have been using a bird that I've had since I was a little girl that has little wires attached to the feet and can be fastened at the top of the tree. I like it for lots of reasons, but mostly because it's something I remember from when I was young.

So when Athena asked about our star (or lack thereof), I immediately decided that she and I will find a star together... after Christmas when they are on sale, of course.

Some traditions are better than others, and waiting to buy Christmas stuff until AFTER Christmas is definitely one of the better traditions.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Magic of Holiday Television

Chris tells me that Athena saw Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the first time last night while I was at work. She loved it. Personally, I'm surprised Chris sat through it without having seizures... but he makes amazing sacrifices of his own personal tastes for his children every day.

Presently, she is enthralled by Santa Claus is Coming to Town. You know... the one with Fred Astaire? And it was almost scary to see the transformation. She switched from frantic toddler to silent tv zombie within two of the opening number's notes. Astonishing.

Of course, she's pissed off about the commercials. Thanks to Disney Channel and Noggin, she is not used to her program being interrupted by annoying people selling her stuff. So while a commercial is on, she fidgets and frets, and then the show resumes and she settles into contented silence. Freaky mind control, that tv.

Anyway, I've been looking forward to this for several years now. Athena has been too young to actually pay attention to these classics of the holidays in past years. But now, she is just as thrilled by them as I was. This is what having kids is all about... sharing those traditions and ... wait a minute... have you seen these shows lately? They are kind of bad! I mean, that stop motion that seemed so cool... it's almost creepy. Eyes bug out. Mouths form really bizarre expressions....

Well, at least she's enjoying it. Don't think I can sit and watch with her though. I'll get nightmares. *shudder*

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Not To Wear; or, a Fashion Intervention

I have no sense of style. It's not that I don't long to be stylish. Although perhaps I could honestly say that I'm not really "INto" fashion. I can't read those Cosmo-esque magazines about how to simplify your morning beauty routine, or how best to pluck your eyebrows. I refuse to do the latter (who came UP with that idea, anyway?) and as to the former... my morning routine is as follows:

Towel Dry
Brush Teeth
Comb wet hair
Get Dressed

After that, chaos ensues and we shuffle the kids off to school. Really, CAN you simplify that morning routine? There's nothing there I feel comfortable skipping.

All that said, I also am tired of being frumpy and old. I'm neither of those things inside, and I'm tired of it not being apparent from the outside. Worse than that, I am starting to resemble that librarian stereotype that I detest so much. So I decided to start addressing my wardrobe, a few pieces at a time. At first, I was doing this by going to Target and trying to find some things that were hipper... cooler... not knit shirts from 1992 (the bulk of my former wardrobe).

And I did find a few things.

And after one washing, nothing fit right anymore... assuming it really fit right to begin with, which is questionable. And therein lies the problem. I am not a fit model. Everything is short on me, or I can't possibly squeeze into it. Because apparently, if you are short, you have really long legs for some reason, and if you are tall (like me) you have stubby little legs. Consequently, a size 16 will not fit over my thigh, but will be long enough, but an 18 hangs off my waist and stops at my mid-ankle area. So attractive.

When I was in New York, I was talking to my sister (who IS a fashionista) about these problems and mentioned how much I wish designers would design for "healthy" women. She took me to Eileen Fisher.

My mom bought me a pair of pants there. My sister bought me a sweater, and I bought myself a tunic that was on sale. I wore them to work at various times after that, and I ALWAYS got compliments on them. Every time I wore them. One person I work with actually told me I should wear the tunic every day. Well! That's addicting, ain't it?!

So I mentioned to my sister and my mom that I was going to start investing in REALLY nice clothes, a piece at a time. I can't AFFORD to dress designer, but apparently I can't afford not to. Either I spend $15 on a shirt I can only wear three times before it tugs around my chest, or I spend $80 for one that will last forever.

So I resolved to buy only things that are well-made, comfortable, and designed to fit. Tailored even. And in ten years, I should have a whole new wardrobe and won't look like a frump. In response, my mom and sister... both so elated that I was suddenly showing a sliver of concern about my looks... staged an intervention while we were in San Francisco. We returned to Eileen Fisher where mom bought me a new wardrobe. Then we moved on to Cole Haan, where my sister bought me two pairs of shoes (black and brown... since they were so "reasonably priced.") I felt like Stacy and Clinton were just going to pop out of the wordwork and throw out everything in my closet. (My sister DID make me promise to get rid of the jeans that I was wearing that day. Believe it or not, they were too short.)

The result is, I now have no excuse. We had most of the stuff shipped back except for the jeans (which I bought myself) and the shoes. Everything arrived today in one box (13 pounds of clothes) and I've got it all in the closet. My "New Me" project officially started today, when I wore the sweater I bought back in August, along with the new jeans and the new shoes. Sure enough, I wasn't in the building more than ten minutes when the sweater scored a compliment from a coworker. Just after lunch, the jeans got one. The JEANS!

Watch out, world... here comes Yummy Mummy Librarian!

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Family Tradition

On my side of the family, we normally only go to the hospital when we are on vacation. Linda had her appendix out on Christmas day when she was 11. I had the worst UTI in my life while in Canada on tour with my theater group (socialized medicine is awesome) and Linda's husband spent a great deal of time in Moroccan hospitals when they took a long adventure holiday there.

So now Athena joins the fold. If you want all the details in a minute-by-minute account, you can read his blog (if you have the password). But the long and the short of it is this:

Took Athena to the hospital today (day after Thanksgiving) in Santa Rosa, California because of a fever and frequent vomiting. Expected them to give her some pain medicine for her headache, replenish her fluids, and provide an antibiotic for general purposes.

We did get all of the above eventually, but we also had blood drawn, a cat scan, and finally a spinal tap. We were there all day. This is not exactly how I planned our stay in Sonoma.

However, this experience was actually very good overall. Athena got to rest without being pestered by her brother. We discovered some of the best customer service I've ever seen in a hospital setting. And I was reminded of just how beautiful, smart, and wonderful my daughter is. She handled the whole ordeal amazingly well... and I'm not the only one saying that. The staff commented on it as well. She was so charming that the person who was charged with drawing her blood couldn't do it... she stalled until the IV person arrived and had her do it.

Do I want to live this day again? Nope. But Athena is on her way to getting better, she already feels MUCH perkier, and I got to spend a whole day with my sister. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Halloween At Our House

I've pretty much decided that I will be making movies instead of scrapbooks from here on out. Far less time consuming and easier to mass-distribute. I do hope you enjoy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Moving Pictures

I very much enjoyed seeing Jessey's video of her male munchkin.

Not to be outdone, Jessey, I see your cute video of the boy:

And I raise you one. Please enjoy the "What's That" game, courtesy of Mr. Man (not to mention the Aiden tribe):

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Getting in the Spooky Spirit

Tonight is the annual Ezzell family Halloween party, so we are going. First chance for the kids to try out their costumes and all. And I think this year I'll pull out the old "Ancient Noble" toga and stole a friend made me several years ago for a LARP (Live Action Role Play -- if you don't know, don't ask. I know that doesn't work well in the military, but it works well here). This will be the first year in probably 5 that I have worn a costume. I'm pretty excited about it.

Anyhoo, I need to purchase a rope to tie the thing (I think I borrowed one last time) and I may need to buy some sort of white shorts or skirt or something, as apparently when I first wore it at 27, the slits at the side of the thing didn't end at the tippy top of my leg. Either that, or I didn't care... I also saw some bad wigs at the costume shop the other day, so I may splurge on one to give myself long, curly hair tonight.

Athena is stoked to be going as Belle tonight. She briefly changed her mind early in the week and thought she would be Cinderella. I nixed that quickly. The main problem at the moment is that I can't find her freaking Belle shoes. Sleeping Beauty: check. Cinderella: check. Ariel: check. Belle: MIA. Of course. May go to Toys R Us and see what they have today. Does it piss me off that I might have to buy her ANOTHER pair of dress up shoes. Yup. Will I do it to avoid the temper tantrum that is sure to come if she doesn't have shoes to match her dress? Youuuuuuuu betcha!

I offered Chris my dad's old lab coat so he could be a mad scientist, but he muttered something about being a hockey player... which is no more original than the mad scientist, so it will do. Marcus should be the star of the show, as I purchased him a fancy Captain Hook costume at the Disney Store. It's way more than I would normally spend, but since he wears exclusively hand-me-downs (thanks to Aiden and my boss' two sons), I figured I could dig a little deeper for this one. We'll have to get a hook at Toys R Us as well. I didn't feel that the $5 the Disney Store wanted for it was really my best deal. They also had a great hat (feather and all) for $12.50. I skipped it as well (despite the *cough* rock-bottom dollar-store price) since Marcus rarely keeps a hat on his head for more than ten seconds.

We also have to make a "spooky snack." I just did a Google search that netted MANY good ideas. However, I've elected to take the easy way out an make deviled eggs. Cop out, I know, but at least the word "devil" is there. The devil is still pretty spooky, yes?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Someone's Idea of a Cruel Joke

One of those projects that has been sitting on my desk... sort of since July... is actually laughable. It's laughable in that it has taken me so long to finish it; laughable in that I'm even doing it; laughable in that I've been asked to do it. But I was called upon, and I shall carry out my promise.

The project? Birthday cakes.

Ah, yes... the age-old office debate of how to handle the birthdays of our fellow employees. Apparently, the staff at my library, despite how amazingly nice and considerate they all are, have been having trouble coming up with a system that works for all. So I mentioned to someone this summer while we were closed that we had a very smooth, easy way to handle it at my old library, and next thing you know... POOF! I'm the birthday fairy.

The irony here is that there isn't a person in the building (or probably reading this blog... except maybe for Amy and certainly Chris) who is as "T" (per Myers-Briggs) as I am. "T: for Thinking" as opposed to "F: for Feeling." Those of you familiar with the test know that this does not mean that I am merely a Vulcan, ruled completely by logic, but generally, I tend to squelch my personal emotions for logic when the situation arises. This gives me the ability to "not care" when, for instance, an organization is reorganized, as long as I see the sense in what is happening. "Oh, sure, combining two identical jobs into one to save money... makes sense. Sucks for Joe, I suppose, but it makes sense."

See? I have some feeling in there... a little emotion. "Sucks for Joe." I recognize (usually) when someone's feelings are hurt, but that is only because I have spent over a decade of self-improvement getting to that point. I am, in fact, a nice person. But at work, I am, predominantly, all about work.

And here I am, trying to figure out how to be sure that those who wish to have their birthday trumpeted are duly heralded and those who don't are permitted to fade away to anonymity on their natal day.

And if you think this is easy... you have not done it. I actually produced a list in August, only to find out that there was a whole set of staff I had not included (long story) and now I am redoing. Fortunately, one of my colleagues who is particularly strong in the "F" category stepped in to help me out and deal with the ugly conversation where we apologize for not including people in the birthday cake rotation. I am VERY grateful. I would have handled it like, "Uh, hey. I heard through the grapevine that you want a cake. That true? Cool."

And you wonder how I'm a manager? Same reason my "F" colleague is. Because when it comes down to it, I care about my staff, and I get the job done... unfortunately not always in that order. But now we all know why I am kind of self-conscious about my skills, no matter how often they are touted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One Ring To Rule Them All

Life is full of weird little coincidences. The least of which is how Jessey's life and my life often intersect (while remaining completely different). This time, we are both amazed by the language of our little ones...

Marcus is still only barely saying a word at a time, with the notable exception of his favorite question "What's that?" Athena is (no big surprise here) orating constantly, not really giving Marcus a chance to say, "Boo." He, instead, is practicing hitting her head so hard it lands in Cleveland. A useful skill, true, but not one I really feel he needs to perfected in place of his language skills. Especially since they changed the NHL rules and goons don't get the ice time they once did. Now the only money for that is in organized crime and wrestling.

So... here's the really weird bit. A month ago, I listened to a lecture on CD on Fantasy literature, which of course was about half devoted to Tolkein. This professor is an expert in middle English, so he discussed Tolkein's language a LOT and read a great deal of the Elvish stuff (which, if you don't know, is really a pretty complete language considering one dude made it up all on his lonesome).

Anyway, although I never listened to this lecture with Athena in the car... she has begun speaking Elvish. She is uttering what appear to be complete sentences with nouns, verbs, and objects... often using consistent sounds that make it sound like she really is speaking another language. Many of the fricatives and blends seem consistent with the Elvish I was listening to. It's freaky. And she thinks it's awesome.

So now I have a son who has a promising future helping people swim with the fishes, and a daughter who seems destined to wear prosthetic ears and attend Sci Fi conventions.

My job here is done.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Mom-Mobile

Well, I have indeed entered into the world of soccer moms. After jamming ourselves into the SUV for a couple of recent roadtrips, and then after getting a taste of traveling in a minivan courtesy of Chris' mom... I took the plunge. I refer to this as my "accidental purchase" of a car.

Basically, I have been looking at minivans for a few years now... eyeing what my friends have and checking prices. I've been looking at the Sienna and the Odyssey because that's what everyone has, and recently Kathryn informed me that the Quest would earn me cool points, so I started looking at that. My dad bought a Town and Country years ago and that bad boy is still running... I guess almost 15 years now. But Chrysler has its issues currently, and the cost has been prohibitive, so I had crossed it off the list, even though their stow-n-go seats seemed awesome. And I do feel better buying American...

Then, on Monday, I was actually at the gym and Chrysler had an ad up for the 2008 model with the swivel-n-go seats. I had just been thinking how great it would be if minivans could stretch back to their "party-van" predecesors and do something like that and VOILA! So, on Tuesday morning before I went in to work, I went to look at the thing. I really wanted to see if the seats were really all that easy to swivel, or if it took a small army to do it. (That is the big drawback of Dad's minivan... taking the seats out requires super-human strength.)

Well, sure enough, the swivel part is super-easy, the van has tons of storage, and the price was better than I thought. Very comparable to competitors. So, after much pressure from the floor manager, I bought one. I didn't wake up Tuesday thinking "Today, I shall buy a minivan!" But lo and behold, that is what happened.

I do miss my VUE a bit already. She was a good car and was still running well. But now car trips will be SO much better. Of course, we don't have another one planned for several weeks (the one last weekend was cancelled due to my lovely stomach bug, which is only just now clearing up). But that's fine, since it's going to take me about two weeks to get through the manual and figure out how to set my presets on the radio.

Speaking of radio, this car came with a year of Sirius radio and TV for "free." Today, when I took the kids to school, I pulled up a kids station on the radio (commercial-free). This was a glorious thing... as I realized that I no longer have to listen to the SAME FIVE CDs over and over again. Variety makes me REALLY happy. Then, when the kids were gone, I switched over to an audio bookin the CD player. But on my way across town for a meeting later this afternoon, I discovered the station of show tunes. Yay.

Tonight, on the way back from swimming, Athena (who had just discovered the tv's in the ceiling) wanted to watch "her shows." I didn't have a DVD with me -- I'm trying not to encourage the kids to ask for tv for short trips -- but I thought that I'd give the tv a try. We get three stations... Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network. None of those are really geared to preschoolers at 7pm, but she watched a little Hannah Montana and then something on Cartoon Network that I hope wasn't too horrible.

All-in-all, I love the car. It has lots of features that make me refer to it as "the space ship," but I don't think it will take me long to master them. There is an issue with the passenger side sliding door, which I'll have them look at on Friday when I take it in for a final check. Hopefully they can also show me how to set the radio stations. Then, I'll be free to offer rides to any takers (keeping in mind that the gas mileage sucks... of course). *sigh*

Friday, October 05, 2007

Something Different

Well, I'm still sick. I'm not AS sick... but I had to come home early today. Made it through yesterday with little issue, but today, not so much. This is the most sick time I've taken at once with the exception of my maternity leave.

However, I refuse to continue to talk about my illness. Therefore, I will update you on goings on around here.

Hockey season has started. We lost our first game. As usual. Five years in a row now. That's impressive.

Athena is in Round Three of swim classes. This time, her teacher is a boy. She doesn't seem quite so comfortable with a boy teacher. She didn't even want to go to her second class. Hopefully, when Chris takes her next week, it won't be a problem. After this round, she will be asked if she wants to try something new (dance, music, ice skating) and we'll see what she says.

Disney - The November Trip is planned and I only have one more dinner reservation to make. As many times as I have been there, there are STILL restaurants I haven't tried. And there will still be some once we return from this trip. The place is amazing.

My sister has been emailing me pictures of vacation homes in Sonoma since we will be heading West for Thanksgiving this year, and she cannot accomodate my mom plus our growing brood in her one-bedroom condo. So we're renting a house in Wine Country. All the houses she sent have pools. Heated pools. Fine by me, but we'll have to keep an eye on our water babies... The houses are beautiful, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing her and her husband. Athena is looking forward to getting on an airplane. Marcus hasn't expressed an opinion.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Still Sick

When I went to Urgent Care yesterday, it was the first step in admitting I had a problem. What had simply been inconvenient was now painful, and I began to worry about the state of my gall bladder. My mother had stones removed at age 38, and although I'm not there yet, I couldn't help but worry.

They gave me something for the pain and something else for nausea. When I discovered that I would really have to do the drug route in order to become functional again, I decided to not go in to work today. I hate taking sick time, but I do it when absolutely necessary. I "worked" all through last week while sick, and although I did accomplish a little, I decided that although my task list is long, if I can get better, I could do much more in much less time and under much more comfortable circumstances.

So, I'm sleeping, reading, and folding laundry. I'm about to go attempt to eat. Tonight is the start of Athena's third round of swim lessons and Chris is in Fayetteville for training all this week. He's coming home each night, but it's a solid hour of a commute, so I'll be doing the kid duty tonight.

Only fair, since I've been of no use to him or the kids for the last seven days...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bombs and Back Ends

This has been a bad week for me sort of all around.

On Sunday morning, I came down with the stomach virus that sent my kids home the previous Friday. This would have been okay, except the day before, while I was at work, Chris managed to sprain his ankle really badly, so neither of us were really capable of taking care of the kids. However, Chris was very kind and allowed me to sleep for a couple of hours in the morning anyway, before I headed into work. Even though I know I should, I often don't take sick time when I need it, because I hate to let people down. Plus I have three large projects due at the end of next week, and several smaller things along the way, and I'm pretty far behind at the moment. I suspect I will be taking some sick time this week, anyway, however... but more on that later.

So the stomach virus clung to me all week. Monday was a half-day for me at work, so I went to BJ's at noon to get some groceries, then went home and collapsed. Chris even picked up the kids at daycare so I wouldn't have to go back out again, despite his now black and blue right foot. The sleep helped, but not really enough. I did go to my craft night, as I had not had an incident all afternoon, and I got through it. But I was really uncomfortable and had a hard time concentrating. I left much earlier than I suspect I would have had all been well.

Tuesday night I had to work, so I had the morning off. My plan was to fold the laundry (still in baskets from Sunday), then pay bills, and collapse until I had to be at work at noon. Those were my plans until at 8:30 I remembered that BEFORE I got sick, I made plans to get my car tuned up at ... YIPES ... 8:30. So I tore over to the dealership with a book and a small cross stitch project and hunkered down in front of Regis and Kelly for an hour.

Fortunately, my car needed little more than an oil change (although the next check-up is at 90,000, which is a hugely expensive service) and I was on my way back home. I got to sleep for about an hour, then headed into work.

I actually did get a little done on my projects, but Tuesday night was quite busy because all our afternoon volunteers had been unable to come in. Therefore, we were still processing the books that came through the courier until about 8pm. (Normally that's done around 5pm). So not a lot accomplished in my "librarian" work, but lots in my "clerical" work. Fortunately, I enjoy clerical work a lot, so the evening went by quickly and I was able to get through it again without incident.

Wednesday, I had a pretty big meeting in the afternoon, and all morning I was quite ill at work. I almost went home, but I had two appointments that morning, and each one was spaced just right that they showed up before I could cancel on them. It was just as well, because I knocked two more things out of my to-do list. Of course, I added about 10, but I'm trying not to think about that. I then went to the meeting, despite my illness, because I felt it was important. And it was. Although perhaps sleeping off the rest of this virus would have been more beneficial.

Thursday morning, I go in feeling significantly (although not completely) better. I have realized by now that the main thing that is continuing to upset my stomach is the soda I sip on all day. A little soda with a meal is okay, but that in-between stuff was tearing my stomach up. So I cut back on soda for the rest of the week, which meant awesome caffeine-deprivation headaches. WOOT!

Anway, Thursday meant all morning in a meeting. A productive one, but again, not productive regarding my now enormous to-do list and my looming deadlines... only a week away suddenly. After the meeting, I carefully eat some lunch, then I hit my desk to settle in to work. (Bonus: on Wednesday, we got all new chairs in the building... a late step in the renovation project. I got a fantastic chair that adjusts every which way and is very comfortable. I even like the fabric covering the chair. Awesome.)

Anyway, I'm plowing away at my task list, feeling like I might just get something accomplished, when one of my staff members tells me there is a bomb threat in the men's bathroom. He takes me there, and sure enough, written in large letters on our recently scrubbed tile walls is a pretty scary threat. The rest of the afternoon involves police, evacuations, building sweeps, and making arrangements for security for the rest of the week into the weekend. I was exhausted.

Thursday night, my neighbor was expecting me for a Southern Living Home Show. I bought a gift for a friend, came home, and got quite sick. Again. The tail end of the virus seems to just create large amounts of gas that simply build in your abdomen until you look like a blueberry person... without the blue. I was miserable. Chris was none too pleased either.

I finally managed to return to my normal size and lie down. End Thursday.

Friday arrived, and I swore there would be work accomplished. And there was. But I had to leave early to hit the family tea party at the daycare. Despite the fact that Marcus pretty much ignored me and played with daddy only, I served as a surrogate to Megan (Aiden's sister) since her parents couldn't make it at all. We smilled and giggled and played with a ball and she didn't even spit up on me. Things are looking up.

After the tea, Kathryn and I plus one other librarian from the system piled in my car to head to Greensboro for the premiere of The Hollywood Librarian. We made good time to the big city, so I took my friends past my old home... the little house that I love so much and still rib Chris for making me sell it. They agreed that it was adorable.

What follows is a bit of a comedy of errors in which I searched for a restaurant despite knowing exactly where it was (long story) and I got rear-ended by a car full of young men who were actually young enough to be my children, assuming I'd had a teen pregnancy. I was making a left onto a sidestreet where I could park and walk to said restaurant, when suddenly I was tagged in the rear right side of the bumper. The driver was really nice and knew that his life was pretty much over, insurance-wise, but he agreed to let me call the cops. I felt bad doing it to him, but I was out of town, and didn't need the hassle of tracking him down and getting him to pay for a new bumper. Besides, he admitted that he probably couldn't afford the bumper, as the last time I replaced it (last year), it was about $1K. So now, I can add dealing with an insurance claim to my enormous list.

The movie was quite good, but we didn't get out until 10pm, and the drive back is over an hour. By the time I dropped off my companions and tucked myself in, it was midnight. I barely even mumbled to Chris, despite not having seen him much all week, because I was so tired.

Now you are up to date. And now I must begin to get shit done. If I don't accomplish something today, I may actually have a heart attack... at the very least, an ulcer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Poop Happens

It has finally happened. I have had it up to HERE with poop. Lately, it seems everything in our house revolves around the vile stuff. Poop has never been my favorite subject to begin with, and here I am, BLOGGING about it.

New Cat: poop in the litter box.
Older Toddler: potty training (training is the operative word here)
Younger Toddler: NOT potty training... just pooping
Training Potty: Chamber pot in which someone poops and someone else has to clean it up
Bad Diapering: Poop everywhere from clothing to car seat
Fancy Scandinavian Diaper Pail: Improperly installed bags that don't receive poop properly
Apple Juice: Soft messy poop
Cheese Sandwiches: Big hard poop
Artificial Coloring in Foods: Multicolored poop

I HATE POOP! Make it stop!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Cat, New Season, New Round of Planning

You may have heard that we have a new cat. I'd love to post pictures, but honestly, we haven't taken any yet. And with my laptop still out of commission, I've been avoiding downloading any pictures (including our recent trip to the beach) because I'd really like to keep all photos together... blah blah blah.

Anyhoo, Hermione, our new cat, is a grey tabby with hints of orange in her. Athena has a little trouble remembering "Hermione" so she just calls her "the black cat." Of course, this is inaccurate as well, but I'll let YOU tell her that, k? The cat is about two years old and one of her previous owners had her declawed, which means she doesn't go outside, which means we are once again cleaning out a litter box. (Hector long ago determined that the great outdoors was a far better local for doing his business, which is really nice.)

Today is the first pre-season game for the Hurricanes. Hockey is back, and I'm pretty excited. Chris got his uber-boss' tickets (four tickets, center ice behind the penalty boxes) so the whole family can go. (We only buy two tickets for the season). Chris gave our tickets to someone else, who gave his to someone else... so eventually someone got totally free tickets, which would make me feel good except ALL the tickets were free today. The only advantage of being season ticket holders today was we didn't have to stand in line for ours.

Anyway, I'm going to try to sneak my camera in to capture all the fun. The game is at 3pm, which means we'll have to wake Marcus from his nap in order to get there in time, but hopefully he won't be too out of sorts. We're going to try to put him down a little early.

Finally, I've begun planning for the next two trips to Disney. I know I seem obsessed, but this is really sort of background stuff that can pass through my head at any moment. I don't spend a lot of time strictly planning Disney trips, really. I swear.

The only reason I'm planning two trips is the next one is in November, when Chris and I are using our final free ticket to take a little 8th wedding anniversary trip. We're only there for three days, and most of our plans involve EPCOT and MGM Studios, since those have a lot of attractions the kids aren't at all interested in. We're also going to try to hit a water park if the weather allows.

The second trip is the one in October 2008. It looks like Aiden and his family are going to stay with us this time. We are also being joined by another family we've never traveled with, although they will not be staying with us (THAT would be crowded) but may stay in the same resort. Regardless, it's always an adventure, traveling with people you have never traveled with before. I'm not too worried though. My biggest concern is planning something that Aiden's family (who hasn't been to Disney recently, and never with the kids) will enjoy without wearing them out. The third family (the one not staying with us) has been to Disney as often as me, so no worries there.

And just so no one worries that we never go anywhere but Disney World, I'm planning a couple of other trips too... pending our financial well-being. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

An Old Flame

My sister called from San Fran tonight around five pm (my time).

Sis: I have a small-world moment for you. Are you sitting?
Me: Yes, I am
Sis: So I have a friend who is the editor of a tech magazine that is, as of today, defunct.
Me: Sucks for him
Sis: Yes, well, I IM'd him today to see when he was free for me to buy him a drink to celebrate his new job that starts Monday.
Me: Yay for him!
Sis: Indeed. So he says, "Well, I'm free, but I will have a friend with me. Is that okay?" "Sure," says I. (okay, I'm paraphrasing). Then he says, "And he's from North Carolina, so you will have something to talk about."
Me: *wondering who the hell from my sister's sordid past this could be*
Sis: THEN he says, "He's from Greensboro." So I say, "So am I!" And of course he says "You probably don't know him." (Because let's face it, San Fran folks are smart... they hear this all the time... OH, You're from San Fran! You must know..." But I digress.) Then he said, "Do you know anyone named (name omitted to protect the innocent)."
Me: Oh my GAWD! (And now I go all Valley Girl... we won't continue the dialog here).

Anyway, my sister explained to the guy that her sister dated him... so he IM's name omitted and asks "Did you ever date someone named Elizabeth MaidenNameOmitted?" And of course HE IM's back that he did.

So now we know that he is, in fact, name omitted. We shall call him "Bill" for the rest of this post. This is partially because his name is, in fact, Bill, but "Bill" is a safe, anonymous name to use because, all tol'd, I dated five of them... four of them consecutively. For those of you in the know... I am referring to Bill the Third.

Anyway, this is all terribly interesting to me for several reasons. The first is that Bill and I only dated for about two weeks between the time we went on our first date and when he left to go to England for a summer study abroad thing. And predictably (well, it's predictable NOW that I'm 36 and know these things happen, anyway), he met the love of his life on this trip, and came home, called me right away, and dumped me... only to want to be friends and introduce me to his new love at a party that everyone we know was attending. Ah, to be 18 again...

So the point is (indeed, there is a point), I'm totally surprised that he even remembered me. Two weeks is, after all, a pretty insignificant amount of your life in the end. So I had one of those little victory moments when you discover you are, despite being dumped quite unceremoniously, memorable over the long haul. (although to his credit, he felt kind of bad about it). It feels good to be memorable. Remember, this was close to twenty years ago (GAH! I'm OLD!)

It's also interesting because totally randomly and for no apparent reason, I happened to think about him just the other day. Haven't thought about him for years, probably, but he suddenly popped into my head as I was driving home from work less than two weeks ago. Weird!

So my sister asked her friend where Bill now resides. Turns out he lives in NYC. I was just there three weeks ago. About one week BEFORE he just popped into my head. Turns out he works for a major newspaper. (Yes, believe it or not, I actually know some writers who are pretty good. Unfortunately, it doesn't help me at all).

As my sister relays this information to me, I realize she is actually IMing her friend as we are speaking, so I ask the question we ALL really want to know.

"So, is he married to LoveOfHisLifeFromEnglandTripWhoHeTotallyDumpedMeFor?"

Since she is more diplomatic than I am, she asks, "Is he married."


Well... how about that! So all that heartbreak (and I really was smitten with this particular Bill... far more so than Bill the First or Bill the Second... not as much as Bill the Fourth or Bill the Fifth, though) was for nothing. Turns out she wasn't "all that and a peanut butter sandwich" after all.

AND... perhaps he's happy. Perhaps he's divorced. Perhaps he's gay. Perhaps he has a job for a really great newspaper. I honestly felt that I truly ended up at the better end of the whole thing.

I may have put on fifty pounds. I may not live in the Big Apple with my Sex and the City girlfriends. But I have a wonderful husband and the two most amazing kids... and I'm not even being full of crap here. I really feel this way. Not even an inkling of wistfulness or "what if."

And that really surprises me. Just because I remember how I felt at the time... and I thought I'd never be the same. And at the time I had no idea it was just one of those life-building moments I had to have in order to become an adult.

Of course, my sister IS having drinks with them tonight and will get me the whole scoop... Hey... I'm not immune to curiosity!

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I don't mind admitting I stole this from Berni. :-)

Try it yourself:

Getting Around To It

The thing about life is, I can never quite seem to get around to it. I've always got "something better to do." And lately, I really feel that I am playing catch up.

After a summer with the library closed, I thought that by the time we moved back in (around mid-July), I would have all my evaluations written (I have to write five, which is more than I have had to write since I worked at Dialog... and there I had to write ten, interspersed through the year... no more than one per month). I also thought I would have all my collection development projects done (I got 1.3 of them done and I only had two, really, not including the weeding I wanted to do, which I did precisely 1/1000 of). And then, on top of that, I expected that my to-do list would be minimal and manageable so I could focus on the craziness that comes with reopening (this month, we think we checked in about 25-30% more than we normally do in August since everyone saved up all their books all summer and dumped them on us).

So I still had to help with the general craziness of the month, AND I had to write four evaluations (at least I got one done over the summer) AND I had to do .7 of a collection development project (which I still have to do) AND my to-do list is growing exponentially while I basically try to keep my head above water.

Fortunately, this past week, I completed my evals and I can now focus on whittling down the to-do list. It's going to be slow, but at least now there is light at the end of the tunnel. The month has been so stressful that several people have commented on my "orneryness" and several others have avoided me altogether. But hopefully they will come back, now that I've returned from the dark side. I did have a little relapse last night when my husband, who has finally become motivated (as I have) to keep the house clean, reminded me how to do the dishes last night. Needless to say, whether his intentions were good or not, I was so mad I couldn't see straight.

I still have been working on organizing the house, and we're hoping to ask Chris' mom to watch the kids for a few hours this weekend so we can go through the bajillion toys they have and dispose of some and organize the rest. We also have to paint new numbers on our mailbox (should have done it years ago) and lower Marcus' crib. I did manage to get our new toy bin assembled on my day off on Friday in between trips to BJs and the grocery store, AND I managed to change our return filters, which -- judging from the amount of dust on them -- had not been done in at least six months. Added that to my to-do list for next month so we don't go so long this next time.

So, hey! I guess this means I HAVE accomplished something. Yay!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


When someone is pregnant, they typically experience a surge sometime during their last trimester to majorly clean and organize the house in preparation of the impending chaos. Experts call it "nesting." I never experienced this. Sure, I had a desire to have a clean, neat environment in which to raise my progeny, but not the energy to put forth the effort.

Apparently, my nesting instinct strikes, oh... about 18 months AFTER the birth of my SECOND child. I am as NOT pregnant as they come, but recently, I have begun to completely clean and organize the house. Not just little spurts as in the past, but I actually have a plan for every room, and intend to do it all before the winter.

I believe the motivation came from conversations with my husband about moving. We've been talking about the little things we wish our house had and how we might want to look elsewhere to find them. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that we really do have a great house, and we can do a lot more with what we have. There is plenty of space in this house that is just used ineffectively, and I am going to change that. Both kids have huge walk-in closets that are currenty filled with stuff they don't need. And the stuff they DO need is spread all over the house. We have a HUGE storage closet upstairs that is only about half-organized, and could really house most of the stuff in the kids' closets. We have shelves that are just covered with piles of stuff rather than organized in any reasonable way. We have a huge desk with junk crammed in and on it, rendering it (and the stuff it contains) useless.

My concern is that this won't last. I'll get part-way through the house and just give up. I think part of my stamina is coming from the fact that my job is very sit-down lately. Lots of writing and meeting. So I have an outlet for the physical activity of cleaning. But once I'm back to more running around the library, I have to keep the energy up. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I've done most of the dining room, most of the master bedroom, completely done my closet, and I've done a good part of the kitchen. I'm off this weekend, so I hope to make a lot more headway then. The best part is that both Chris and I are finding it soothing and relaxing to have such a clean space, and we've started getting on the kids about leaving their stuff around. Let's see if we can really change our ways completely and get the house organized AND keep it that way. Wish us luck!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taking a Bite Out of the Big Apple

First, let me apologize for my long absence. I feel horrible about it, and I suspect I lost many of you. But my computer died and I've been writing a lot at work, so it has kind of kept me from blogging.

However, I'm still here, and I still plan to blog. And at the moment, I plan to blog about my recent trip to NYC.

I left on Friday. My flight was delayed a few hours, which is at the very least irritating. We didn't take off until close to 7pm, and there were so many things I could have done between 1:45 and 6 if I hadn't been sitting at RDU. *sigh*

Fortunately, both my mom and I are very stubborn, so we pushed our reservation at Bar Americain (Bobby Flay's place) to 10pm and we went despite the late hour. He did not disappoint... I had duck, mom had salmon, and we both had the deep dish chocolate cream pie, which was delicious, although it's not what you would expect. It was sort of a pudding, covered with a cream, covered with a chocolate cookie.

My sister was supposed to arrive from San Fran around 1am. However, her flight got canceled, so she moved to another flight that arrived at 8am the next morning. We were staying at the Sheraton Towers, which is close enough to Times Square that you can get there easily, but not so close that you see neon lights through your window all night long. Mom and I went to one of those diners that employed wanna-be Broadway stars, who treat you to karaoke-like performances while you eat. They were all great and mom loved it. Food was pretty much crap, but we wrote it off to the good entertainment.

Once Linda arrived, we headed down to SoHo for shopping and lunch. I treated myself at Eileen Fisher, as I feel it is important to support any designer who designs clothes for ALL sizes, from petite to 3X. Plus, she was having a sale, so I got a couple of REALLY nice, well-made items at Limited prices. Woot! We also went into a French purse boutique, Cleo & Patek. They had great stuff, and they were also on sale, so again, I got a French designer purse for Dooney & Burke prices. Score.

We ate at a French bistro (Croque Monsieur... yum). Then we headed back to the hotel. Mom wanted to rest, and Linda and I headed back out for my appointment for a fitting. NYC is THE place to be fitted for bras. And I am so freaking tired of being uncomfortable. So I vowed to splurge. I chose to go to Ripplu, which is a Japanese owned establishment, and despite the fact that all the clerks were stick thin, typical Japanese build, they did, indeed have all sizes on hand.

No surprise to me, I measured two sizes larger than what I've been wearing. Between that and the higher quality garments I purchased, I can't believe what a difference it made. Only drawback... the new bra set off the security gate at Laguardia. I've noted this for future air travel plans.

We also stopped into the new Mac store on 5th. It was cool, but crowded. So we just went in, looked at the iPhone (I hadn't seen one yet) and left.

Saturday night, we ate at an Italian restaurant that I didn't feel lived up to its Zagat rating. Then we saw Curtains with David Hyde Pierce. It was enjoyable, but clearly won't go on past the original cast. Much of the humor relies on the star power of those carrying it out.

Sunday, we rented a car and headed out to the house my mother was basically raised in. When my uncle died two years ago, mom sold the house to a very nice family who said they wanted to fix it up and live in it forever. True to their word, they let us come by and visit, and the place is looking great. They've redone a lot of floors and ceilings, plus two of the four bathrooms. It was great to see it being taken care of after years of neglect by my uncle. And it's especially nice that they are keeping the house and fixing up rather than flipping it... or worse, tearing it down.

In the afternoon, we headed back into the city and prepared for dinner. We ate at a highly rated Greek place that specialized in seafood, and it was glorious. We then headed over to Times Square to catch the 7pm curtain of Spamalot, which also did not disappoint. I considered buying Athena a rabbit puppet (complete with big teeth), but it was actually pretty scary. I also considered the catapult toy (complete with cow), but it was $35. So no goodies from Spamalot for my kids this time.

The flight back Monday was uneventful, and now I'm back into full swing at work. There you have it! Hopefully I can post again without another three-week hiatus.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Well, this was a good day.

This morning, I discovered a package from Jessey. Gifties from Crochet Funtime! Athena got a pretty pink purse, and I got a crocheted soap holder/loofah! Sweeeeeeeeet. Pics are forthcoming. Athena loved her purse so much she insisted on taking it to school, and then I left it in her cubby when I picked her up tonight. Oops.

Then I only worked a half-day at work. I work this coming Saturday, so I have the comp time during the week. I went to the gym, then the bank, and then I cross-stitched for two hours. Of course, I work on such large projects that two hours hardly seems to make a dent... but progress was made... I'm sure of it.

Then, as I went to get the kids, my mom called and invited me to go with her to New York for a three-day weekend in two weeks! My sister has to be there on business, and my mom has some legal issues to resolve, so we're all going. Unfortunately, it's the weekend that we are taking the kids up to Virginia. So I asked Chris if he minded that I bow out of that trip. I assume he will still take the kids up... but I'll go to NY instead.

No idea what we'll do while we're there. My sister is making all the arrangements I think. Regardless, it will be a good time. Too bad it wasn't timed better so I could have been there when Alaskan Amy is....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On Illness

We are just completing medication for the third bout of pink eye this summer. Marcus has it this time. I think each of us has had it twice now... in basically three circuits.

And then there's the stomach issues that plagued most of us last night, and it plagued me well into today. And it's back tonight, just when I thought it was gone.

And we're opening a library on Saturday.

Just shoot me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Chris has already posted his account of this on his blog, but I wanted to bring it to you from my perspective, because it really was terribly cute and funny.

This morning, Chris' mobile rang at 4:30. I saw him set the alarm for 4am the night before, so I assumed it was the alarm going off. So when he started talking, I assumed he was talking to me. He said "Oh my God, it's 4:30!" and I said, "Yeah, so? What's wrong with that?" Then he said, "I'll be right there!" I was about to say "You ARE right here!" but then the morning haze drifted away from my brain and I realized he was on the phone with his coworker, who was waiting for him at the airport.

He took off, and I couldn't get back to sleep. I was worried that he missed his flight. I was stressed about work. And I had a nasty cough. At 5:15, I ran myself a bath to calm the cough. The warm water did the trick, and I was in bed and asleep by 5:45... only to have the alarm rudely awaken me at 6:15... right in the middle of a dream. So, I hit the off button and went instantly back to sleep.

Fortunately, Athena has a built-in alarm and she frequently awakens at 6:30 on the dot. This morning, she did not disappoint. She tottered in and announced "Wake up time!" So I obliged and got in the shower.

I was almost done... I was shaving my legs, when suddenly Athena bursts in and says "Daddy is on the phone! It's Daddy!!" I glance up and see she has the phone... which is nothing unusual. She often picks it up and pretends to talk to whoever she thinks of at that moment... frequently grandma.

So I said, "That's nice honey," and resumed my work when suddenly I hear Chris' voice. I look again, and see the red speaker-phone light is on. I opened the shower door and said, "Chris?! Is that you?!"


"Did she answer the phone?! Did you answer the phone, honey?"

"It would appear so," Chris said. Athena just nodded proudly.

So cool.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Random Musings

I feel I should post as I haven't done so for a while. However, I only have little dribs and drabs to report. So once again, here is your catch-all blog for the day...

- Just heard from an old friend who I haven't talked to in well over a year. She has been wonderful about sending me cards and notes, and I haven't replied to a single dang one of them. I knew she had a baby, and her baby is totally cute, and I have totally neglected spoiling her child. I will rectify this soon.

- This week at daycare is "Wacky Wobbler Week." They divide the one-year-olds into the "Wobblers" (12-18 months) and "Toddlers" (18-24 months). Marcus is now almost 16 months and is still quite the wobbler (although the bow-leggedness is gradually getting better, thank goodness). Anyway, today was "Wacky Hair Day," so I turned Chris loose with some hair gel and a willing blondie boy, and we got a mohawked punk rock Marcus. Pics are still stored in the camera, but I'll share soon. Tomorrow is PJ day. I'm thinking we'll just take pictures each morning and post them all together. Thursday is sort of a "general zanyness" day, so I bought him a t-shirt at Target that says "I'm with handsome," and it has an arrow pointing up at his face. Love it.

- I've been stitching quite a lot lately. I'm currently working on a piece by my favorite designer called "The Storyteller." It's a dragon listening to a prince tell a story. The colors will compliment the newly painted accent wall in my office, so I really want to finish it. I still have a ways to go, though. Not likely to be done this year. I'll get sick of it and put it down for a while before I finish, only to resume it several months later.

- Speaking of my newly painted office, they finished the renovations on my library on Friday, and the movers arrived at 7:30 this morning to start bringing all the stuff back in from the trailers in the parking lot. We knew the shelving was dirty, but we had no idea HOW dirty until we saw it with all the fresh paint and carpet. It's totally gross. And now when they DO clean it, they'll get all that dust and yuck all over our new carpet. *sigh* We reopen on July 21, which is also the day the final Harry Potter book comes out. Crowds should be significant.

- Athena can not have any accidents in the near future that would send her to the hospital. This is because she is covered with so many bumps, bruises and scratches that I would most certainly be detained. And I am fairly confident that if someone asked her "Does Mommy hit you?" she'd say, "yes" because she knows it's what they want to hear. Ugh. Chris informed me she has a black eye today (I was at my stitching circle from 6-9 and therefore never saw the kids tonight), which is probably from her walking into a door that I was opening for her at the gym yesterday. Perfect, eh? "Athena, how did you get that black eye?" "I walked into a door." Yeah, right kid.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Flying Solo

Chris is out of town, rendering me single once again. Oddly, I do better with the kids when Chris isn't around. I think when he's here, I rely on him too much, so my temper with the kids is shorter. That may not make sense to you... and it doesn't really make sense to me... but it's what seems to happen.

Chris left last night before dinner, so the Gundlach's helped me feed, wear out, bathe, and then load the kids into the car. When we got home, getting them to sleep was really not a problem.

Tonight, I picked them up at daycare and Kathryn (who is also down a husband and a child) joined us all at Char-Grill. They just opened one near her house. For those not from the Triangle area, Char-Grill is an institution here. It's been around forever, and their business model is a bit irritating to me. Basically, you have no contact with a human being until you actually pick up your food. This is because you order by filling out a confusing menu/ticket, then depositing it in a slot big enough to JUST fit the ticket. Behind the glass, a cook picks it up, makes it, and then they call you by number to come pay for your food. I just don't trust it.

I haven't eaten there for a while, and couldn't remember the difference between a "hamburger steak' and a "char-burger." Of course, the menu/ticket contains no descriptions... nor does the menu hanging on the glass. So I ordered hot dogs all around. Unfortunately, I forgot their hotdogs are of the pink (i.e. non-food) variety. Ew. Marcus, however, was the only one smart enough to toss his to the ground immediately and eat fries and goldfish crackers only.

Kathryn had to make a hasty exit home because Char-Grill not only doesn't want to actually talk to you, but they apparently don't want you to have babies with you either, as exemplified by the lack of changing facilities in the restroom. So I enjoyed the rest of my dinner trying to extract conversation from Athena while catching various bits of food that Marcus tossed at me.

We headed to the gym after our healthy supper so Athena could attend her last swim lesson of the session. First, I stopped by the manager's office to complain about various things from the lack of toilet paper in the women's locker room to the fact that when they cancel our swim class because of lightning, it is apparently too difficult for their staff to call the FOUR people registered for the class to let them know they need not come. He just smiled and nodded and essentially thanked me for sharing my thoughts. Ah... great customer service... how I miss thee.

Next stop, kid's care center. Nothing like picking up your youngest child from 9 hours in day care, only to dump him in another care facility while you go ensure your eldest doesn't drown. Needless to say, he was unimpressed and generally displeased... but because he is an angel, he waited it out. AND he charmed the entire staff in the room so they all carried him around and played with him the whole time... spoiling him rotten. That charmer.

Anyhoo... Athena kicked ass in her swim class. She's come a long way, and I am going to try to enroll her in the next level up for the next round of classes. I want to keep up the momentum.

When we got home, Marcus collapsed. It was 8:45, after all, which is WAY later than his normal 8pm lights out. Athena, on the other hand, who should have been exhausted from an hour total in the pool, was wired. It took a change of clothes (from nightgown to t-shirt), a trip to the potty, a brief lie-down with her, the extermination of two monsters and a "bad shadow" (one by trash can, two by sink) and a call to her father to get her to settle down.

When we called Chris, I just put the phone to her ear and let her talk. She almost started crying, and said "I just want you to come hooooooooooome!" Chris about lost it. I actually teared up.

But Chris, being ever-industrious, knew just the way to talk her into waiting until Sunday to see him.

"I'll bring you a present, Athena!"

She beamed. (Good thing we don't spoil her, eh?)

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Modern Librarian

Okay, I'm sorry to be geeking out on video lately, but this documentary was premiered at ALA last week, and it looks fabulous. Maybe it's just me... but it's short... give it a look and see if it grabs you too...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Just a Little Freaked Out At the Moment...

I have just completed EVERYTHING that was on my to-do list for today at work. AND I spent two hours working on end-of-year evaluations (our Fiscal Year ends June 30).

Everything on my list has a little check mark beside it and it's only 4pm.


This has never happened. There is always some straggler (or ten). Just... Wow.

(P.S. Video from Day Three is coming soon. I have it down to 103 MB, but YouTube thinks that it should only be 100. Sadly, it means sacrificing more of the bellydancer. Sorry, guys.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Here We Go Again!

Most of the bags are packed. Only toiletries and snacks remain (plus a few miscellaneous items of clothing for the kids). Marcus has developed a nasty cough, so I will try to get him a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning. Our flight leaves at 12:15. I am hoping that I don't have to ask Grandma to keep him at home here at the last minute. Part of the trip I'm most looking forward to is tomorrow at EPCOT... just him and me. And of course he'll be getting his first haircut this week too.

If it's only a cough, I'll Benadryl him up, then be sure he gets to bed early tomorrow night. We aren't planning to push the kids too terribly hard on this trip anyway, so hopefully he can push through it. He's a tough guy.

Of course, last time we went to Disney, he ended up in the hospital. Hmmmmmmmm...

Regardless, we'll be out of touch for a few days, since Disney charges $10 per day for internet connection. (Anything for a buck). However, hopefully you will be rewarded for your wait with several little movies... one for each day in the parks. We'll see how it turns out.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Laundry Purgatory

Today, I am packing for Disney and working my way through Laundry Purgatory. I thought I'd seize the opportunity since Chris is working this afternoon. Laundry is normally his job, but he tends to stick to the "must do's" rather than feeling that all of it is really needed. Therefore, we have an impressive backlog in the laundry room I like to refer to as Laundry Purgatory. I'm sure it happens in all homes, but it happens to an extreme degree in ours.

You know... all those blankets, comforter covers, area rugs, delicates... all those things you don't want to wash or feel you don't have to because there isn't an immediate need for that particular thing. In our house, this usually amounts to the area rug in the guest bathroom, the off-season comforters, and some of my clothes. One year, the comforter cover I removed in the spring didn't get washed until I took the lightweight cover off in the fall and realized I had nothing to recover the comforter with.

Don't get me wrong here... this is not a post knocking Chris for not getting to this stuff. I am just as capable of doing it, and I don't ever get to it. So today, I'm getting to it. Chris caught up on most of the laundry earlier this week, so with any luck, Purgatory will be empty by the end of the day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Many Buckles Were Swashed

Wow. I wonder how Johnny Depp felt when he saw his nose blown up to 20 feet tall on the big screen. My vote for best scene ever.

Anyway, Chris and I enjoyed the latest Pirates movie tonight. Loved the ride references too. Sitting in that dark theater hearing "Dead. Men. Tell. No. Taaaaaaaaaaales" made me feel like I was on the ride. Astounding. Athena doesn't want to see the Pirates because "They will bite you!" So Chris and I may have to switch off on that one. Unless Marcus and I make it over to Magic Kingdom on Wednesday before Chris and Athena arrive.

Anyway, I really expected to not like this movie at all, since it's the third in a series, and those are rarely very good. But I was pleasantly surprised. And it's a long movie too... so that's an extra compliment. It takes a lot for me to sit all the way through anything over two hours.

We considered getting ice cream afterwards, but ended up just going and getting the kids. A short date, I suppose, but we had fun.

Oh, and they showed a preview for Ratatouille. We are SO there. Opens my birthday weekend. Woot!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our First Lesson Went Swimmingly!

Athena had her first swim lesson tonight. She has a series of 8 over the next four weeks... every Tuesday and Thursday night. Well, really it will be seven, because she'll miss next Thursday when we are at Disney. No harm done. We'll be in the pool at the resort every afternoon, so she'll get plenty of practice.

I was terribly nervous about this class. I worried that she would be shy, and she wouldn't be willing to get in the pool without one of us in there with her. I worried she'd boss/push around the other kids. And I worried that I just blew $100 for nothing, since they don't really give refunds at The World's Most Expensive Gym (TM). (They will credit my "activities" account... but no money back... and no make up classes either. Scrooges.)

Indeed, when the teacher (Heather) gathered us together to start the class, Athena clutched my leg and asked me if I was going in with her. I said no, and tried to distract her by pointing out the other kids in the class (except Patrick, who was crying and begging his father to take him home). I worried that we were going the way of Patrick, until Heather said, "So who wants to play in the pool with me?!" Athena flew off my leg so quickly I was glad I wasn't wearing a skirt.

PLOP into the pool she went... and all was right with the world. And once again, I see what I'm paying for in this luxury gym we joined... FOUR kids in the class. FOUR. That's it. Lots of individual attention (especially since Patrick never really joined in until the end). Athena did everything she was told, and only got distracted twice... well, twice in a major way.

The best part... she didn't throw a fit when we left. She was cold and she was ready to go. It helped that we got there about 15 minutes early so she could splash around for a bit. It also helped that the class ends at 8, so by the time we got home, it was bedtime.

So today... a success. Chris will take her on Thursday while I make Dream Dinners. Hopefully that will go just as well!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Video at Last!

You may remember my lofty goal to produce a video per day at Disney and try to post them almost nightly. I suppose you at least know how that turned out. We completed exactly zero videos, and there were days we didn't even really take pictures. Plus, our camera broke mid-trip.

The repair to the camera is pretty simple, so we will have it repaired eventually, but part of the curse that goes with having such a great camera (two lenses... one for video, one for photos... all in one camera) is that is is a bit bulky and cumbersome.

Now that still cameras have come such a long way, and memory sticks have grown exponentially in storage space, we are simplifying... and we think we may only use the old repaired video camera when we want a REALLY good quality video. In the meantime, my mom got me a Sony Cyber-Shot for my birthday. Plus a 2G memory stick. The camera is super light and VERY quick on the shutter, which means we get good pics, even when are children are moving at 90mph.

See for yourself! I made a movie tonight from the pictures and video I captured in Roanoke this weekend! Let me know what you think of the quality. And maybe we'll do a movie per night for trip number two!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Victoria & Alberts

I promised long ago to post about our experience at Central Florida's only four-diamond restaurant... and so now I deliver.

Victoria & Alberts is in the Grand Floridian, a deluxe resort on the monorail. It is small, adults only, and is prix fixe, with a few exceptions. Your seven-course meal is expertly prepared and served formally by up to as many waitstaff as you have guests at the table. I felt VERY pampered and at times I felt like we were the only ones in the restaurant.

When we arrived, we approached the closed doors to the restaurant and before we knew it, they burst open and a maitre d' asked, "You must be the Smith party?" I supposed they study the names of the guests and sizes of the party and they make a guess. We were a party of six, which is unusual... many parties were two or four... so I guess we did stand out a bit.

Anyway, we are seated and presented with personalized, keep-sake menus. Of course, you would expect to keep them as they had your name on them, and what good would that do THEM? Anyhoo... keeping the menu means I can tell you not only what we ate, but what we DIDN'T eat as well. Pretty nifty, eh?

I also ordered a flight of wine to accompany the meal. Disney employs several world-class sommaliers, so why not let them pick the wines. I'll share those with you as well.

So... we begin.

Amuse Bouche
We were presented a taste of a lobster pastry, and with it, a small cup of lobster bisque. Both were delicious, but I had to call forth all my super mind control powers to keep myself from licking the bottom of my cup. This was accompanied by the Heidsieck Monopole "Blue Top" Brut Champagne NV. I'm not a fan of the bubbly, but this was fine.

First Course
Seared Colorado Buffalo Tenderloin, Braised Fennel, Radishes and Satsuma Tangerine Vinaigrette
Dungeness and King Crab with Spring Asparagus and Calvisius Caviar
Iranian Osetra Caviar with Traditional Garnish ($125 for a half oz. or $250 for one oz.)
Okay... first I need to clarify... the price of the whole meal is $115 per person. Each course offered one choice with a surcharge, should you wish to "take advantage" of it. So the prices above for the caviar... they are IN ADDITION to the cost of the meal.
Needless to say, this was not our night to enjoy caviar. I had the Buffalo. Chris can post about his choices, if he wishes to... I can't remember them all. (Oh, and if you find yourself reaching for a food dictionary while reading this menu, you are not alone... we consider ourselves foodies, and we don't know what several of these items are...)
So, the Buffalo... medium rare, tender, and delicious. I have only had buffalo once before, and it was overcooked and tough, tough, TOUGH. This was tender, easy to chew, and lovely. It was paired with a Cantina Del Taburno Falanghina, Campania 2005.
Second Course
Long Island Duck with Roasted Chiogga Beets and Turnip Kraut
New Zealand Elk with Elephant Garlic Spaetzle and Veal Sweetbreads
Pan Roasted Foie Gras and Fuji Apple Tart with Mostarda di Cremona $15 (with an optional wine offering that was $140 for a 3 oz. pour. It was French.)
Now, when I ordered, I had not yet tried the Buffalo, so if I had known how lovely it would be, I might have tried the Elk. Again, I was thinking "game = tough." Plus, I generally Just Say No to sweetbreads. And since the meal was expensive enough (thank you very much), I stayed away from surcharges. Duck it is.
Again, I am not normally a fan of the water fowl. But this was fabulous. Very steak-y... tasty. Served with Dr. Zenzen Apollo-Falter Spatburgunder, Rheinhessen 2005. I also tried Derek's Elk, and would have been equally happy had I selected it instead.
Third Course
Ivory King Salmon with Mustard Greens, Sauce Soubise and Ramp Pesto
Yellow Fin Tuna Tempura with Hijiki Salad and Carrot-Ginger Coulis
Seared Wild Turbot with Toasted Capers and Meyer Lemon $25
Me no likey Tuna. Me LOVEY Salmon. Easy choice. Exquisite, this. Love when I can get me the real thing when it comes to salmon. Served with Pere & Fils Christian Moreau Chablis 2004.
Fourth Course (Main)
Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Belly with Florida Corn and Cherry Jus
Poulet Rouge with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Truffled Egg
Prosciutto-Wrapped Lamb with Potato Gnocchi and Sherry Vinaigrette
Australian "Kobe" Beef Tenderloin with Cauliflower Puree $30
Japaneses "Kobe" Strip Loin with Oxtail Jus $80
Now, this was tougher. I don't mix meat and fruit, so the first choice was out. I love chicken and wild mushrooms, but in the end, the lamb won. (Lamb usually always wins with me, but when you toss gnocchi into the deal, how can I say no?). Jeff did stray into the "surcharge" territory on this and got the Australian Kobe Beef. Most people at the table tried it... and it was described as "melts in your mouth." I stuck with my lamb though. I figured if I had his, he would get to have some of mine. And I wasn't sharing.
The lamb was served with Cesari "Mara" Vino Di Ripasso Valpolicella 2004. (My Italian is good enough that I think this roughly translates as "table wine" but it was good, so I'm not going to gripe about it.)
The fifth course was a port or a gelato. No contest... ice cream always gets the nod.
Finally, the desserts:
Pyramid of Tanzanie Dark Chocolate Mousse
Berry Gateau with Mango Yogurt Pannacotta
Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle
Caramelized Banana Gateau
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Grand Marnier Souffle
So... let's see how well you know me! What did I pick!? (Sophie can't guess... I told her already!)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Murphy - June 23, 1992 - June 4, 2007

Born on a hot summer day in High Point, North Carolina, to a rat terrier mommy, Comet, on the property of a breeder, Murphy came into her person's life in early September, 1992. Her person had recently graduated from college, and was living with her parents as she searched for the right job. Even though Murphy was in a pet store, and her person vowed to never get an animal from a pet store... she came home with her. Her person was also, until seeing Murphy, strictly a cat person. But that's how good she was... she changed people.

Her puppyhood lasted more than two years. She was known among her person's friends as "the perpetual motion machine." She was trained by a professional K-9 trainer, but despite everyone's best efforts, she refused to become 100% house broken... all through her near 15 years.

Despite being quite a handful, her person made her promise to never die. Which is why her person had to make a really difficult decision this weekend. Murphy saw her person through many a terrible relationship, her father's death, her wedding, and the birth of two children. But Murphy was growing old, and her body was shutting down. She had developed Cushing's Disease, and at the time of her death, there wasn't a single vital organ in her body that was still working at better than 50%.

Her person hopes that the decision she made was the right one, and wishes that today's events finally ended the pain, suffering, and general malaise Murphy has been experiencing for more than two years. Murph the Immortal, may you rest in peace. You are loved, treasured, and missed already.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Conjunctivitus 4 - Carans 0

As of this morning, we all have The Evil Eye of Pink. Chris was the last to get it. We're hoping we didn't spread it to the Austins this weekend. Lesson Learned: I am stubborn as hell. Okay, well, I knew that... but anyway.

Marcus must have had it last week. I thought it was just an especially bad cold... and I won't go into explaining WHY I thought that... as it involves colors of various body fluids, and you may be eating your breakfast while you read this.

Anyway, we DID start giving him the drops on Friday, just to ensure that if he DID have it (and I didn't think he did), he wouldn't spread it to Elise. However, he must have had it at some point though, because Athena and I woke up with it yesterday, and Chris got it this morning.

Fortunately, we can all use the same medicine... although we need two bottles for the four of us. And since it's new (that is... not generic yet), it's a mere $50 a bottle after insurance. !!! Marcus' pediatrician was nice enough to give me a $40 rebate coupon for one of them, which I am preparing to send off as I type this. (I'm just that good).

The cute side of this... Athena came to work with me for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. She had a glorious time spinning on a chair in the conference room and getting "fizzy." (Dizzy). She also found a stash of stickers I had and decorated herself, me, and various items in the office. And she also ate a half a bag of Skittles (my attempt to ensure she remain quiet and well-behaved).

She actually did REALLY well all day. No one was more surprised than me. Four weeks ago, she was really tempermental, moody, and drastically unpredictable. But about a week ago, she turned into a docile-ish, polite, reasonable-er young lady. It's really wonderful. It gives me hope that Disney Part II will go MUCH better than Part I did.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

I haven't posted in a while because honestly, I'm not sure where to start. Once you fall out of the practice, it's hard to pick a new starting point. So... I sum up:

Work: My library is currently closed. We are renovating (carpet and paint, plus a few extra items for effect... commonly referred to as "bling"). This means several things...
  1. I am a nomad. I do have a temporary office in our administration building, which is on Poole Road... all the way across town for you non-Raleigh-ites. It's a long drive. Plus I'm sharing an office that wasn't intended to be shared, and therefore I am on the wrong side of the desk. This means that unless I want bruised on my knee caps, I have to sit like a gutter whore, with my legs basically straddling my chair. Very professional.
  2. I am doing a lot of planning. This would normally be great, but unfortunately, the planning is preventing me from doing a lot of ... well ... doing.
  3. I am the schedule goddess. I volunteered (for reasons too numerous to recount here) to do the master schedule for our staff while we are closed. I have assigned them to other branches in order to help cover and also to take some time to plan, etc. 24 people total. Covering at least ten branches. This has the potential for major disaster. Fortunately, it actually has gone quite well, and I believe the staff actually believes I am good at something, which is enough for me! But it is a big headache, as things shift and people get sick and people forget where they are supposed to be... etc. However, I'm not complaining... it could be a lot worse. We could be closed for a year. That would suck.
  4. I get to do things I don't normally get to do. For instance, today I spent a great deal linking Russian and Chinese books into our catalog. It was really kind of fun. Of course, I speak nary a word of either language, but it was fun to look at the cover and try to guess the call number before peeking inside to see if I got it right. (And to think, I only got 20% on that Nerd test.)

Athena: She's big. She's bad. She's talking in complete sentences and is saying the best stuff. If you tell her she is beautiful, she blushes and says "Thank yeeeeeuw." And when she saw the crabs that Brian caught at the beach this weekend, she told me all about the "bad crabs." In fact, I was surprised that she was in no way disturbed by the fact that the crabs were clicking and snapping at her one minute, and were boiling in a pot of water the next. "We're going to EAT the mean crabs, Mommy!" Just between you and me... she scares me a little.

Marcus: He's sick. It's breaking my heart. I just want him to get better. He's so happy and fun. He is walking now, but only just. Kathryn described his gait thusly, "He walks like he's been riding a horse all day." Sadly, she speaks the truth. But it's totally cute.

Sister: She's in town. My cosmopolitan sister, an executive for a large international PR firm, is here all week to hang with the neice and nephew. Well, almost all week... she got called away to Chicago tonight, and won't be back until tomorrow after dinner. But I'll take what I can get. San Fran is a long way away, and we are lucky to see her once a year. I miss her terribly. This year, we will get to see her twice, though... as we are planning to go to the Sonoma Valley for Thanksgiving (her SF apartment is WAY too small for our little clan). I'm going to get sibling overdose. Hurrah!

Home: We were at Bald Head Island with the Austins this weekend. I love visiting with them. And Sophie is really inspiring. She is so organized and neat... and it's so natural to her that it makes me believe that I might also be that organized one day. I came home and immediately cleaned up the kitchen. And it has become my official sanctuary. It is the first room that will be kept neat and organized, and I will build upon that. Check back with me on that in two months. Well, maybe two weeks is better.

Travel: This summer is wacky crazy re: travel. We went to Disney three weeks ago (in case you forgot). This past weekend, Bald Head Island. Next weekend we're home since Linda is in town. Weekend after, we are visiting some of Chris' family in Roanoke, VA. Weekend after that, we are hoping to go to Richmond for Chris' neice's first birthday par-tay. Weekend after THAT, Disney, Part Two... the freebie edition. The weekend after that is my birthday, but we'll probably just stick around here to recover. Then Chris is fairly certain he will go to Ohio the weekend after that for Origins. Then the library reopens and Harry Potter (Book Seven) is released. (Just imagine, my kids will grow up knowing what happens to Harry... so weird). Then sometime in August or September, we will go to Hilton Head for a long weekend since Athena loved the beach so much this time.

I'm worn out just from typing all that up. Sheesh.

So there is the recap. Hope you all stuck with me. I really will make more of an effort (when I'm not organizing my house, that is).