Tag Archives: Family

Trying Times.

I was reminded a few weeks ago by Jeanne that I haven’t posted in a while. Of course, I hadn’t posted for a while before then, so what else is new?

The current excuse is that I’m on trial on the West Coast. That is to say, I am trying a case on the West Coast, as an attorney, not as a defendant. We started three weeks ago, took a two week break (long story) and are starting back up again tomorrow. The forecast calls for me to be out here for the entire month of June. It’s going to be a grueling month, unless something changes. Something can always change — things change all the time in this business (like any other), but not always for the better.

A little travel every couple of weeks — like a day or two — adds spice to the same-old same-old; day after interminable day in the office makes me want to hurl myself onto sharp objects. But week after week, coming home only on weekends, if then? Been there, done that, the first year the Siren and I were married. It wasn’t, to be blunt, any fun. I get twitchy without her after all these years, and while Skype video calls make being away from the kids slightly less unbearable, the time difference makes it hard to connect before their bedtime. We are less than 25 pages from the end of The Hobbit, with Bilbo, the dwarves, the wood elves, and the men of Lake-Town about to plunge into the Battle of the Five Armies along with the goblins, orcs, wolves, and eagles (sounds like more than five, doesn’t it?), and we probably won’t be able to finish it until Saturday. I have a copy on the Kindle app for my iph0ne, so I can read it to them over Skype, but it’s complicated to set up in their room and time it correctly, and I have only managed it once in the last several weeks.

We’ve also had some personal/family issues. At the top of the list, my stepmother of 35 years died last week, just 5 weeks after her cancer diagnosis. I’m not going to go into detail here — wrong forum, wrong time — but let’s just say that I’ve been doing a fair amount of compartmentalizing.

Not only do I not have the mental energy to work on my novel, but I’m not even going on F2ceb00k during the week until this is over. That’s just how little free mental RAM I’ve got.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been working on this case for 4 years now, and we’re finally reaching the denouement — I’m glad to be able to see it to the end. But I’d sure as hell rather be at home.

Advertisements

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.

So Much For That.

I just wrote a long, rambling post that WordPress.com ate when I hit Save Draft, a good reminder that I should compose these posts elsewhere and just paste them into the New Post window here at WordPress. I don’t have the energy to re-write it, and frankly, you’re better off without it. Here are the highlights:

– Politics: Mayor-elect Emanuel good. Recently-appointed incumbent alderman running for his first election bad, because he is the 5th consecutive member of his family to serve as alderman in this ward, a seat they’ve held for 80 years. He could raise the frakking dead and I’d vote against him. Although he’d probably still win, what with all the dead voters supporting him and his “raise the dead platform” – this is still Chicago. Since he can’t raise the dead — so far as we know — that’s purely hypothetical, but he’ll probably still win. In Chicago, reform only goes so far, but political dynasties go on for-freaking-ever.

– Health: The Boy has strep for the second time in a month. He threw up in the bathroom sink in the middle of washing up for bed, which was extra special. The Siren and I both have slight fevers and my throat is sore. Question for the reader: if the Siren and I wake up in the morning with full blown strep, who will help Unfocused Girl with her Inventors’ Fair project tomorrow?

(It’s a trick question. I don’t care how sick I am, I’m going to help her finish the Inventor’s Fair project – it’s too cool not to. If you’re lucky, I’ll post pictures. If you’re really lucky, I’ll post video.)

– Unfocused Girl’s birthday: My first-born child turns 10 on Monday. Whatever it was I wrote probably didn’t amount to much more than this, only with fewer sweeping violins. I’ll post something specific on Monday.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m completely wiped out, so I’m just going to post this fast and then look at LOLcats until I can drag myself upstairs.

Tanned, Rested, and Ready to Collapse.

I don’t tan, actually. I burn and peel, then repeat, which is why I use SPF 50 or greater sunscreen when I plan to be outside for any extended activity, and usually use an SPF 20 aftershave in the morning.

We’re just back from two weeks at the Delaware shore, my favorite part of the year. We drove, as usual, an 813-mile car trip each way, that is so much a part of the tradition that the kids almost never complain. We put them to the test on the trip home this year, though. We (mostly the Siren) installed new kitchen cabinets in the beach house we share with my aunt and uncle, and the last parts of that project interfered with our packing and cleaning enough that we couldn’t leave on Saturday as planned, and had to do the entire drive home on Sunday – 16.5 hours, including pit stops. This would have been bad enough if we didn’t stay up until 1am Saturday night packing and if we had gotten out before 10:30 Sunday morning because finishing up the cleaning and then loading the bikes and car top carrier took longer than expected.

We got home at 2am, got to bed about 45 minutes later, and my cell phone rang at 8. I’ve been staring at the computer ever since, completely fried. I guess I’ll put some clothes on and start unloading the car.

It was a great trip — we went hiking and biking in the nearby state park, letterboxing, spent days just hanging out on the beach, ate at some of our favorite restaurants and discovered new ones, and I even got a little writing done. I’ll post a few pictures later this week, but for now, here’s one of the Boy creating an elaborate Wikki Stix (warning – page has annoying loud automatic sound player) system for his Batman H@ppy Me@l toy to swing from:

One other thing – for those of you who don’t get the significance of the length of the drive, here’s They Might Be Giants to explain it to you. We listen to this song at the start of each leg of the drive:

Happy Mother’s Day to the Green-Eyed Siren and the Unfocused Mom.

My wife, the lovely and talented Green-Eyed Siren, is one of the most creative people I know, and our children have received so much of her spark. Unfocused Girl had a big solo during the Mother’s Day children’s choir performance at their church this morning, and she clearly inherited the Siren’s voice and her picked up the seriousness with which the Siren approaches a performance. Junior is a ham in front of the camera and is exceptionally good for his age at building this with his hands.  Neither of them could have gotten those talents from me, but more important than the genetic transmission of some innate ability is that she’s teaching them how to use those talents, both by teaching them directly and by example. They’re also pretty nice people, which I have to believe has something to do with the person they spend the most time with. So happy Mother’s Day, Siren, you’ve earned it, through hours and hours of driving the kids to and from school, the gallons of chicken barley stew you’ve made for Unfocused Girl’s lunch, the dozens of different things you’ve made in attempts to get Junior to eat something recognizable as food, not to mention two C-sections, thousands of diaper changes, potty training, midnight vomiting, and Junior screaming in your left ear for hours on end. The one thing I can tell you is that the kids know how lucky they are, and so do I.

And happy Mother’s Day to my own mother. I know I was a smartass and probably not always the easiest kid to deal with, but the Siren thinks you did a pretty good job and I certainly never had any complaints. One specific thing I can point to that you and Dad did right — so I guess you’ll have to share the credit on this — is that after your divorce, however tense things got between you, and I assume there were times when they did, I never really knew about it. Maybe once in a long while I picked up on a tone of voice from one of you that seemed off, but that was it, and hardly that. Neither of you ever spoke ill of the other in front of me, and I don’t remember witnessing any significant arguments. As far as I know, you always treated each other respectfully and, most of the time, seemed genuinely friendly. I’ve seen a lot worse, especially since I graduated law school, and I know how lucky I was. Thank you.

NaNoWriMo Day 29, 50,570 Words and Post-NaNoWrimo Victory Update.

The first thing I did this morning was 15 minutes of Write or Die Desktop Edition, and quickly knocked out 448 words for the novel.  I added a sentence here or there later in the morning, for a total of 535 more words for the novel.  Since I WON NANOWRIMO YESTERDAY, the pressure is off, and I had a bunch of other things I wanted/needed to do today.  Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that occupied my time today besides working on my novel:

  • Ran 6.39 miles very slowly (1:04:04).  It was my first run since Nov. 17, and my longest since Oct. 25. I lost a lot of speed (and muscle) in the month spent in front of the computer every waking moment, and it will take a little while to get it back.
  • Read a little of the Sunday New York Times for the first time in mumble mumble.
  • Worked. I’ve got a lot going on at the office (and out of town) between now and Christmas.
  • Went to lunch with the Siren and the kids at the diner for the first time in weeks.
  • Played Sorry with the kids while the Siren went to the supermarket to buy more butter, flour, and sugar for NaCoBakMo.
  • Went to the supermarket after the Sorry game to pick up the dishwasher detergent that the Siren forgot so she could focus on baking cookies.
  • Worked some more.
  • Listened to Christmas music. The Hanukkah music comes later, closer to the holiday itself, because there isn’t as much of it that I like.
  • Ate some cookies before dinner.
  • Listened to the first episode of The Cinnamon Bear with the family during dinner.
  • Ate some more cookies for dessert.
  • Got the kids to bed.
  • Worked more.
  • Had one last cookie.
  • Paid our property taxes.
  • Told the kids to go back to bed.

As much as I enjoyed NaNoWriMo, and I did, it’s good to be able to do a few other things, too.

IMPORTANT: You may have noticed my references to NaCoBakMo and eating cookies, lots of delicious cookies.  The love of my life, the Green-Eyed Siren, has started the first ever National Cookie Baking Month to raise money for our neighborhood anti-hunger charity, the Irving Park Community Food Pantry.  You can read about Day 1 here, and Day 2 here.  She’s baking cookies every day from now through Christmas Eve, and will send a batch to everyone who donates $25 to the IPCFP before then and emails her the receipt. Please participate so that I don’t end up eating all of these cookies myself.  To encourage you further (although if you’ve ever tasted the Siren’s cooking, you would need no further incentive), we’ll match the first $500 in donations.  Get off my blog and over to hers to read the details and see pictures of the delectable dainties as she makes them.

FINALLY, I leave you with The NaNoWriMo Song, because it’s awesome:

The Sporty Family on Vacation

So after putting in pretty much full days of work Monday through Wednesday and a solid half day on Thursday, the important brief for work got filed Thursday night (thanks to an associate who was back at the office) and the vacation began in earnest. I ended up begging for – and getting – an extension on the chapter I’m writing for a treatise, which I will regret later but am very grateful for now.
We had a full day at the beach yesterday, then a quick trip to Funland last night, all in all a pretty great day except for Junior refusing to eat at dinner. I gave him an ultimatum a couple of weeks ago about not getting special food at dinner, so now he has to eat the same dinner as the rest of us. Last night that didn’t go so well, and he essentially skipped dinner. Today, he ate much much better.

Some of that was due to the 10.5 mile bike ride we did this afternoon, mostly on a wonderful gravel trail, between the towns of Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, through farmland, forest, and salt marsh on an old railroad right of way. The trail itself is pretty new, only completed in the last year or two, I think, and since the kids are only just now old enough to really enjoy it, the timing of its construction worked out well for us.

We had the kids on Trail-a-Bikes, which attach to an adult bike to create a tandem with a second seat suitable for a child. We rented one for Junior originally, but after a couple of shorter rides it was obvious that Unfocused Girl would burn out trying to keep up with us on a longer ride, so we rented one for her, too. They work pretty well, but keeping your balance when the kid in back wobbles from side to side takes some getting used to.

It was a nice, long ride, and wore everybody out. I figure if we do a couple more of them in the next week, we might actually be a sporty family, not just crab-cake eating, beer-drinking pretenders (although I did buy matching Dogfish Head Beer hats for me and the kids at the brewpub the other night).

The Sporty Family (f/k/a the Unfocused Family) kids after our triumphant return from the big bike ride, and Junior displaying his impressive collection of scabs, bruises, bug bites, and mysterious owies: