Tag Archives: Unfocused Girl

Happy Birthday to My Unfocused Girl!

Oh, God, she’s 10, and all I can think about is soon she’s going to be 14. I’m taking deep breaths.

Some pictures of my tough, determined, brilliant, serious, silly, buttkicking not-so-little girl from the past year:

First day with the bo staff in traditional weapons class.

Getting her high green belt in taekwondo.

Rock climbing in the Dells on Father's Day.

Getting ready to boogie board at the beach.

 

At the Renaissance Faire.

School picnic at the beginning of 4th grade.

In full Ravenclaw gear, as we were leaving to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Happy birthday, honey. I’m sure it will be a terrific year.

Not NaNoWriMo, Day 13: 3,331 Words and Messing With Computers.

Depending on how you measure it, my Not NaNoWriMo has so far been either a complete failure or a raging success.  It’s been a failure by the standards of  NaNoWriMo, certainly: in 12 days, I’ve written almost exactly the number of words needed to be on track for day 2.

Good thing for me that I’m not holding myself to that standard. My goal is to write at least 300 words each day, and although I haven’t been able to write every day, I’m averaging pretty close to that amount and have written more days than not.  My other goal is to get 10,000 words by the end of November, and while I’m not perfectly on track for it I’m not far off, either. I’m definitely feeling more in touch with the story and characters than I’ve been in a long while, and I’m starting to be more comfortable just sitting down and pounding the keys regardless of whether I “feel like it,” whatever that means.

I should qualify that to say pounding the keys or tapping the screen, because I’ve probably written a third of my output this month on my iPhone, using WriteRoom, a great little plain text app that syncs easily with Scrivener. I bought a cheap flexible bluetooth keyboard to use with the phone instead of schlepping my MacBook on the train, but several keys stopped working within a couple of days, so I’ve been typing directly onto the touch screen. It’s less painful than I would have thought, although I type enough emails that way that I should have been more willing to try it sooner.

I’m limiting my word count goal because I’ve got a number of things going on at the office that make doing a full NaNo project impossible this month, and also because I have other projects I didn’t want to put off.

One thing I’m working on is learning more about the hardware and software we have in the house, which I use every day without much thought.  Every three years, the firm where I work gives us new computers and will sell us our old ones for a minimal price.  I’ve now been there long enough to go through two of these upgrade cycles; in 2007, I bought my old office Thinkpad X40 for $1, and a couple of weeks ago, I bought my old Thinkpad X61 for $47 (there was still a month or so of warranty left on it).

The X40 had always been a slow machine, and even with a clean install of Windows XP and running just a handful of non-Microsoft apps (Firefox and OpenOffice, mostly), it was still painful to use, but it was the only Windows machine we had in the house and I think it’s a good idea to have at least one machine other than my current office computer that runs the world’s dominant OS.

Once I brought home the X61, though, I was free to do whatever I liked with the older laptop. So last weekend, I installed the Linux-based Ubuntu Desktop operating system on it.  I’d never done anything like that on a PC, and in the space of an afternoon learned more about the computer than I have in years.

It ran better on Ubuntu, but it was still slow, so I ordered more RAM last weekend and this afternoon while the Siren and Junior were out for his best friend’s birthday party, Unfocused Girl and I had a wonderful time opening it up and adding 1GB of RAM to the 512MB of RAM already in it.  She was very excited about it and wanted to know what our next project would be.  I gave her a couple of choices, so in a couple of minutes we’re going to jailbreak my old iPhone 3G.  Pretty entry-level stuff, but we’re enjoying ourselves.

Not the Only One Enjoying the New Piano.

Unfocused Girl hasn’t started lessons yet, but she’s starting to learn to read music and plunk out some of her favorite melodies, including this rendition of “Davy Crockett”:

Summer’s End.

Labor Day always feels so bittersweet, because it means the end of summer  but also the start of a new year. The official calendar, not to mention The Firm’s fiscal calendar, may start on January 1, but everybody knows the real start of the year is the first Monday in September.

Junior started kindergarten a week and a half ago. It’s hard to believe how much he stretched out so much over the summer; rides he was too short to go on in June were no problem when we went back to the boardwalk at the beach in August.  He’s hugely excited to be one of the big kids in his three-year mixed classroom, and he seems to be taking learning much more seriously than he has in the past.

Unfocused Girl starts third grade in the morning and is raring to go. There are only 11 kids in her homeroom this year, and only four of them (including UG) are girls, but she’s already friends with one of them so I expect it will be all right. I hope.

I spent a lot of my summer thinking about, worrying about, and finally working on The Chapter. I didn’t make any progress on my current novel-at-a-standstill, Project Hometown, or any other fiction project. I did, however, have several good ideas for other novels or short stories, which I managed to capture either in Evernote (my new outboard brain) or my Moleskine notebook.  When I found myself at loose ends this weekend, between the completion of The Chapter and canceling most of our plans for the weekend because Unfocused Girl had a fever, I was able to pick up one of the short story ideas and start right in on it. Writing fiction again felt a little like pulling on your favorite sweater on the first cool day of fall and finding that it doesn’t fit quite the same way it did the previous winter; it takes a couple of hours to get used to it and for it to stretch a little, but pretty soon it’s just as comfortable as it ever was.  I’m 1,537 words into “It Takes a Village,” the story I started Saturday afternoon, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Project Hometown once I finish the first draft.

I knocked out a pleasant 10 mile run yesterday in 1:31:49, too. The Chicago Half Marathon is next Sunday, and while I’m hoping for a finish around 1:45, I’m not expecting much. I plan to run just to enjoy it, and treat it like a training run for the races I’m running in October.

I’m feeling optimistic, just like at the start of a new school year. I wish I had a new Trapper Keeper as cool as Unfocused Girl’s, though:

IMG_1246

A Little Sibling Rivalry Can Be Healthy.

Our son doesn’t eat much in the way of what the rest of us call “food.”  He drinks milk, and eats pizza, pasta, string cheese, apples, grapes, occasional bananas, strawberries, and chicken nuggets.  I think that may be it.  His only source of non-dairy protein comes from Tyson chicken nuggets.

Considering he’s five and a half, this is getting old.  We cut him a little more slack than we gave Unfocused Girl, because of his food allergies — he needs to be comfortable saying “no” to food that might put him in the hospital — but enough is enough.  We’ve been pushing him harder lately, and tonight at dinner, we told him he had to buckle down and eat some chicken that didn’t come in a breaded nugget the size of a fifty-cent piece and the shape of a Shmoo.

He fussed, he complained, he even started to fake cry a little, until Unfocused Girl said, “I bet you can’t finish your chicken before I finish mine.”  BAM!  The race was on, he ate every bite, smiling and trash talking her, and she even let him win.

Time to raise the Girl’s allowance.

Where Do I Start?

It’s been what, nine days since I’ve posted? I’ve missed two Winter Sunday Stats in a row, and except for the birthday post for Unfocused Girl, nothing at all since Feb. 22.

I’m not going to make it all up tonight, but I’ll try to post a few times this week, at least briefly.  Things have gotten very busy at work, with some planned and unplanned travel, and other stuff happening at home, and I’m getting over a nasty cold, all of which means I haven’t had much time or energy to write or run much, or even read other people’s blogs. Sorry for the silence. I’m going to be jammed for another couple of weeks, but I’ll try to be a little less absent from the blogosphere.

I intended to post Unfocused Girl’s menu from our dinner on her 8th birthday but didn’t get around to it.  Here it is:

  • 2 Shirley Temples
  • 1/2 order of escargots
  • marrow bones
  • 1/2 order of mussels cooked in beer
  • steak frites
  • one scoop of French vanilla ice cream

UG didn’t eat much of the marrow bones, but I think they were overcooked. I had to move pretty quickly to get my half of the mussels.  She was also a little full by the time her steak arrived, so she had the rest of it for lunch the next day. We had a wonderful evening; she’s a very nice dinner companion.  We brought home an entree and dessert for the Siren; she needed something, since she had spent the evening with Junior at a birthday party at Pump It Up, with about a million hyper little boys.

I won an award, which is always nice.  Thanks to Mike at Everything Under the Sun for the Proximidade Award:

Proximidade Award

“This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes of self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

In my next post, I’ll update on the writing. It will be brief, by necessity. I will also name the eight people I’m giving the award to, so if you think you deserve it, you have 24 hours to get me your bribes or clever comments.

Happy Birthday, Unfocused Girl!

Hey there. It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t really had time to touch base, or sleep much, or anything.  But I’m still here, as you can see from the Twitter feed on the sidebar.

Today is our beautiful, brilliant daughter’s 8th birthday. I can’t believe how big she’s gotten, and how mature she getting. She is also a genuinely nice, gentle person.

Except on Saturday mornings, when we train, along with Junior, to be the FIGHTING UNFOCUSEDS.  Time to get ready for Family Taekwondo, the one hour a week when she gets no greater pleasure than from punching and kicking me, or taking me down to the mat.