Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quest For the Hotness: Mile Marker Three

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! And here we are at Mile Marker Three.

So, at first glance, it would seem that the quest is a total failure. Today, I weighed in at 206. My goal for this day was 190. But I'm not discouraged. Here's why...

I haven't been watching my food intake. At all. I've been eating and drinking what I please. I am trying not to eat when I'm not hungry, and I've been doing a little portion control... but only a little. For the most part, I've been eating like a normal person. With a little stress eating thrown in... particularly during that whole "decision week."

The reason I've lost weight at all (on the 7th I was 208) is my slavish devotion to the gym. Ever since July 5, I have been to the gym every other day, with only two exceptions. Both times I made exceptions, it was because I simply couldn't get there on that day... no matter how I rearranged my schedule. Once we were completely out of town.

So each visit to the gym means 30 minutes on the treadmill and almost always at least a little time on the machines. Unfortunately, my piercing (yes... it's mine) means I had to eliminate crunches from my workout until mid-October when it is considered completely healed. I had gotten up to 100. So, my piercing still rests on a slightly flabby belly. But if I can keep this up, and maybe even do better with food, that won't be an issue for too long.

Historically, I've always lost my belly fat first, but I think after two children it won't be so easy. Another reason I'm not discouraged is that several people have said that it looks like I've lost weight. And that's really what matters, right?

So damn the torpedos, man! Full speed ahead!

Monday, July 28, 2008

For Those Who Thought Libraries Were Boring...

Okay, okay... laugh all you want at the Wizard Rock concept. But take a minute to look at this. For anyone who worries that kids don't think reading and libraries are cool, this will prove you wrong. For anyone that thinks that there is nothing more awesome than seeing a bunch of people jumping around having a good time without any controlled or illegal substances... you will love this. Personally, I just think it's neato.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Of Bats and Big Decisions

Today was a big day.

First, I got a haircut. It's cute. Too bad it will never look this good again, since my hairdresser won't come do my hair every morning. I sure wish I had a hairdresser at my beck and call. That'd be sweet.

Anyway, then I went home and sent an email to decline the job offer. Yep, I turned down lots of money to continue on as a public servant. And I feel good about that.

Ten minutes after I sent the email, I got a call from work. A bat had flown into the library. Yes, a bat. (My theory is movie promotion, but what do I know?) Animal Control and the police were there, but they really wanted to talk to a manager. There wasn't one to be found. Could I come in early?

Abso-freaking-lutely I can. You don't get bat extermination in the corporate world. They can't deal with the elevators.

Is this a sign?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

After years of staying in contact with my former employer (from my pre-blogging days), something I never REALLY thought would happen has happened. In quite a whirlwind move, I have been offered a job. Technically, it's my old job... or a piece of it, plus a new job... well... new to me. These have been mushed together to match my skill set really nicely.

Some history: My old job was in corporate America, but working in the field of Library Science... namely large computer databases. We're talking REALLY large. More than 14 terabytes of information, and a lot of it really expensive stuff. Patents, trademarks, drug pipelines, market research, blah, blah, blah.

I was really good at my first job there, so in a year, they promoted me. But they couldn't replace the old me... so I was essentially doing two jobs. Then, I was doing that so well, they promoted me again. But guess what! They couldn't replace me... so I was doing three jobs. After a year of this, I cried uncle and up and left. I was eight months pregnant at the time, and I just couldn't keep doing that. That's when I came to the public library.

I've been here for four years now. It has it's ups and downs, but I do like it. So now, I have to decide.

My old company offered me a lot of money. Around 20K more a year -- more if the bonuses come through. Serious money. Think of all the debt we could clear...

It's also a 9-5 job. No weekends. No nights. With the exception of when there are tight deadlines. And it's possible that would happen frequently, knowing some of their clients.

I'd also be giving up the cushy government benefits. Health care at both jobs lines up for the most part... but the biggie is retirement. The state is going to give me a pension PLUS pay my health care when I retire, assuming I stick it out another 26 years. Corporate America won't do that. In fact, government won't even do that anymore. If I leave and come back... those health care benefits go away.

So... money now? Or money later? Risk corporate ups and downs in a bad economy? Or stay with a government job? Work a regular schedule or continue to work some nights and weekends? Both jobs offer intellectual stimulation, but the library work offers more physical activity... which I might not alway like, but I certainly need.

I have until tomorrow to decide.

Chris and I spent more than an hour last night debating the right thing to do and came to no solid conclusion.

Tonight, I believe Mr. Jack Daniels and I will have to work this out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Mysterious Belly

Oh, my! Look at what someone did today! Who could this belly belong to?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yucky Cavities

Athena had to have three cavities filled today. Yeah, yeah... bad parents... blah blah blah. For the record, the dentist said that it was clear the cavities were caused in part by weak enamel, which is not bad parenting, but bad genetics. Related, but not the same.

We had to be there at 7am, which in and of itself, sucked. But she was excited to be headed out on an adventure, mainly because she had no idea what was in store. (Muahahahahahaaaaaaa)

They gave her a cocktail that helped her relax (made her drunk as a skunk) and then they kicked us out of the operating area. We heard the screams from the novacaine shots (mommy isn't cool with those either, so I was on her side), and then she was fairly quiet for the rest.

She was pretty doped up and was seeing double on our way home. It was, I am a little ashamed to admit, quite amusing. She also had a couple of freakouts... mainly caused by the drugs. My favorite was as she was leaving the office, when she became hysterical because the "goody bag" they gave her was not COMPLETELY full of toys and crap. That was awesome. Warmed the cockles of my heart with her selflessness, that did.

Within a couple of hours, she was back to her normal self. Chris spent the whole day with her, and she apparently ate constantly. Mostly crap too, which should be great for further cavity development. Fortunately, the ordeal is over for now. Let's hope she's willing to go back for her normal cleaning in September. They say she won't remember much of the morning. Here's hoping!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Have a Place Where Dreams Are Born...

I have a place where dreams are born
Where time is never planned
It's not on any chart
You must find it with your heart
Never, Never Land

When I was 7, my father basically forced me to watch My Fair Lady on television with him. I say forced, because he basically said, "Just try it for a bit, honey. See if you like it." Within two minutes, I was glued to the screen. I then proceeded to listen to the soundtrack over and over for a year.

Did I get sick of it? No. But what happened a year later that made me stop listening? I saw Sandy Duncan play Peter Pan on Broadway. My first Broadway show. She flew right over my head. And at that point, the Peter Pan soundtrack never left my turntable. It became my standard homework background music for most of elementary school. Even in fifth grade, when one of my babysitters introduced me to pop music (mom and dad weren't hip like that), I still had those show tunes in rotation. It began a whole lifestyle for me... one that I pretty much put aside when I got married.

Today, I took Athena (and Chris) to see this show that started it all for me. Athena has been to the theater once before, when we were fortunate enough to be given tickets for the touring company of The Lion King. She did really well, which was an extra shock because it was an 8pm show. However, the pageantry of that show alone is enough to engage her, and when you add the African beat and harmony, you really can't fall asleep or complain.

Before we left for the theater, I prepped her with all the theater etiquette I could. She wanted to bring her "Jingle Bear" toy, which I refused to allow since he ... well... jingles. She wore a new dress (not as dressy as I would have liked, but it's my fault for timing the distribution of the new stuff so badly). Grandma came at 11:30 to look after Marcus and we piled in the car to head downtown.

We picked up Aiden and Kathryn on the way and had lunch downtown. We ended up getting to the theater way too early, but it was fine. Both kids were enthralled, although Athena, the skeptic herself, noted right away that 1) Peter Pan was a girl and 2) she was "flying on a string." *sigh* I guess she didn't get her mother's ability to suspend disbelief.

Anyway, the kids were well behaved AND Athena didn't even have an accident. All day. I am about 80 times more excited about that than her sitting through the show. Which was very well done and enjoyable. It was good to get back to the theater. Chris even enjoyed it.

Although I'm guessing that had as much to do with Tiger Lily's smokin' hot body than with the rest of the show...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quest For the Hotness: Mile Marker Two

I forgot to weigh in on Monday, Amy's birthday, so I did it on Tuesday. Didn't really matter, since the holiday weekend was filled with Bratwurst, tortilla chips, and stress-eating. My goal for this day was 200. I weighed in at 208, which is three pounds heavier than my LAST goal weight. So... time to rededicate.

Starting Saturday, I've been to the gym faithfully every other day. I should have no trouble going again Friday, but Sunday will be a bit of a challenge, as we have a pretty full day planned. Still, if I miss Sunday and have to put it off until Monday, that won't be so bad. Once every third day is still better than never. But, I'm really trying to force myself into the every-other-day habit... no slacking. Otherwise, I'll just slack completely.

My next mile marker is July 31, Harry Potter's birthday. My goal for that day is 190. I sincerely doubt I'll be able to knock off 18 pounds by the end of the month... I'm not sure that would be super healthy, but if I can get down below 200 I'd sure be happy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rain Can't Stop the Wrock

First, for all of you out-of-touch people out there who have not heard, there is a music craze sweeping the nation. Fans mostly consist of 11-15 year-old girls, but as the New Kids on the Block can tell you, that is an excellent fan base to have.

It's called "Wizard Rock" or "Wrock" for short, and it basically started with a couple of brothers writing Harry Potter-inspired music and playing it for their friends. They are now known as Harry and the Potters, and they are quite popular indeed, recently playing a show at the famous Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill as part of their national tour.

Down the road from Harry and the Potters, two other brothers (okay, half-brothers technically) started up a kind of parody band as the arch-nemesis to their buddies' band, calling themselves, naturally, Draco and the Malfoys. And thus began the huge explosion of Wrock bands all over the country.

My library was fortunate enough to host four of the top Wrock bands in the country this weekend as a stop on their summer tour, including the aforementioned Draco and the Malfoys. Lindsey Dunn, a mighty fine Young Adult Librarian I am fortunate enough to have on my staff, contacted the band more than two years ago and asked them to make a stop here on their next tour. They emailed back and said they would love to play here, and they would be in touch.

Long story short, they emailed about four months ago and said, "Hey! We can be there on July 6th between a show in Virginia and a show in Atlanta." Despite the fact that the date was on a holiday weekend and smack in the middle of Lindsey's vacation, she said, in essence, "Bring it." And bring it they did.

Their tour includes themselves, plus Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills, The Whomping Willows, and The Remus Lupins. So Lindsey kicked into high gear to ensure this was the best program in our library's history. She got a sponsor to pay for them to be here. She got on the phone to find out how if we could get special permits to allow more people in our building for a special event. We couldn't. So she found out how we could get a stage set up outside and somehow convinced the musicians that early July in North Carolina "really isn't so bad."

After lots more coordination with other county departments, the plan was set and the big day arrived. Due to her careful planning and the assistance of several other staff members, every detail was thought out and accounted for. And that was a really good thing when, at 6:15 pm, about an hour and a quarter into the show, one of North Carolina's world famous lightning storms descended upon us.

For safety reasons, the band could not simply play through the storm. Electrocuting people in our parking lot is generally frowned upon by upper management, and no one wanted to clean it up, besides. So we started letting people into the building while the band tried to figure out what they would do. Getting their equipment inside was out of the question. We had given out rain tickets for the first people who arrived... up to the number we are allowed in the main part of the building. As I expected, many people simply chose to pack up and go. At our highest count outside, we had about 250 people watching the bands. We only had room for 130 inside, once you also factored in our staff and sponsor's staff. But we do have a few side rooms that gave us a little more space, so we put people in those two rooms, explaining that they were there as shelter, and they may not be able to see the rest of the show from there.

As it turned out, once everyone was out of the parking lot, only a little more than half of the people with tickets were in the main room, which gave us enough leeway to empty out our side rooms. Our sponsors seemed to be less than happy that we had to constantly be counting bodies and were possibly going to turn people away, but laws is laws, folks, and the two sheriffs deputies there were not about to cut me any slack on this one.

In what I feel was remarkable time, we were back up and running again by 7pm. The sponsor has his own little Wrock band, and they entertained the crowd while our headliners moved in what they called a "Violent Femmes" array of equipment... a bass and amp, two acoustics, and a snare drum. No mics. The Whomping Willows finished out their set, which Mother Nature had so rudely (and dramatically) interrupted, and we proceeded with a very "unplugged" session. In fact, Draco and the Malfoys really got into it by tossing out their playlist and taking requests only.

One of my biggest concerns was that the crowd would simply trash the library, having been granted practically free reign to do so. But instead, as the picture below attests, they actually sat down in a more orderly fashion than any storytime group we've ever had in the library.

They sang along, danced when prompted, but only in a very polite, orderly fashion, and when the concert was over (and MAN it was surprisingly good!), they hung out for only 15 or 20 minutes to buy merch and have the band sign stuff. In fact, the hardest folks to push out the door were the musicians. They are a totally awesome, friendly group of guys, and they were acting like they were going to hang out all night. Fortunately, this gave us a chance to get this picture:

Eventually, they did head out to the pavillion to break down their stuff. As they were doing so, they told us, with what I feel was sincere honesty, that this was the most fun concert they had yet to play. The chaos, the unpredictability, and the REALLY fantastic audience made it work for them. And me. Don't tell, but I've been listening to some of their stuff now. shhhhhhhhhh

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Wall-E Meets My Kids

So I went to see Wall-E on my birthday with about eight of North Carolina's biggest Disney Geeks. I loved the movie and enjoyed the conversation afterward that verged on geeky, but was really more along the lines of pure appreciation. My only disappointment was the realization that my kids would most likely NOT like Wall-E, so I wouldn't be getting to enjoy it with them.

The themes in Wall-E are a bit too grown-up for a four- and two-year-old to really get. And although the lack of dialogue makes the movie more accessible and VERY beautiful, I was sure it simply would not capture the attention of my frenetic offspring.

As this past week went by, my friends began sharing their experiences with taking their children to see it... some my kids' ages, some a bit older. All advised me against taking the terrible twosome. I mean, they barely sat through Kung-Fu Panda, and that was full of action and silliness. Wall-E is far more subdued and ... I'll say it again ... beautiful, and the soundtrack is mostly that of Hello, Dolly! This is a great thing for ME... bringing together my Disney Geek and my Musical Theater Geek... but not necessarily a great thing for the kiddos.

So today, while I was in the shower, Chris asked Athena if she'd like to see Wall-E. Why yes, she declared. She would love that. So I shrugged. I mean... best case... I'd get to see the movie again. Worst case, I could run the kids around the lobby while Chris enjoyed the movie. So, I looked up movie times and off we went.

We armed ourselves with a large popcorn and cups for sharing. Both kids got lemonade. We figured that would hold them until at least half-way through the movie. But guess what!

They. Loved. It.

Both kids were engaged with the movie almost all the way through. Marcus wasn't as engaged, but he sat relatively still through about 90% of it... maybe 95%. Athena asked questions as the story progressed and was clearly VERY concerned for Wall-E's health and well-being.

This is terribly exciting to me. Perhaps it won't be true for every movie, but they have progressively gotten better and better about sitting still and watching the flick in question. The more we take them, the better it is. And with all the movies that are made for kids now, we are never really short on choices.

Well, except the trailer they showed the most interest in was that freaking Chihuahua movie. *sigh*

Ai, Chihuahua indeed.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Quiet Evening

Chris has decided to take Athena camping tonight. By camping, I mean he took the tent and a sleeping bag and headed to the park with a couple of buddies and their kids. He says he took an air mattress, but I see the air mattress is still here, so I think what he actually took is a thin mat that does accept a little air, intended for campers who rough it far more regularly that we do and who actually carry their gear on their back.

He also refused my offer to take the van instead of the ION, so I sure hope it doesn't rain. But Athena is stoked for S'Mores, and right now the forecast looks agreeable.

This means Young MC and I are home. He tottered off to bed at 8pm, so I've had a very peaceful, easy-going evening. I have a good book to read for my book club and I'm thinking of lighting a few candles and meditating in the tub for a bit. Chris has only been home from Origins for a few days, and already he's out all night again. It's a little odd after years of him never going anywhere... he's had two business trips, one long solo vacation, and now this camping trip away. I thought it would be hard to get used to, but actually, it's kind of nice. Since I have taken so many trips without him, which my Introverted self needs so badly, it's nice that he gets to enjoy a bit of that as well.

Tomorrow, we clean up the house to where our friends won't balk too badly, and then have a little cookout. I have to plan a menu. Probably Brats and burgers. Maybe some baked beans. Some sort of dessert... maybe cheesecake if I can get up early enough to get it done. Good times. Happy Birthday, America.