Tag Archives: Kids

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:

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.

News From the Lump.

I’m not sure why I’ve been staying away from the blog lately.  I’ve been busy at work, and have been working on a couple of writing projects, but probably the biggest thing keeping me off WordPress.com has been the spring weather.

Unfocused Girl and I went out on Saturday and bought her a new bike.  She had outgrown — in more ways that one — the pink and white, ribbon-festooned bike she started on.  She only started being able to ride without training wheels at the end of last summer, and then only shakily.  Apparently the problem was the bike, because once we got her badass new blue BMX bike (with free decals of fists clutching swords) home she was off and riding with hardly a wobble.  Junior followed her up and down the block on his Spider-Man bike (still with training wheels, but he’s already talking about getting rid of them).  I spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoons outside cheering them on and taking pictures.

But I have been doing some writing and will try to post about it tonight or tomorrow, and maybe kick out a podcast post this week.

Hope you’re enjoying the spring weather, too.

Friday. Finally.

This has been an exhausting week, and I will be delighted to put a bullet in it, roll the body into a shallow grave, kick some dirt and leaves onto it and leave it behind in the woods. But first I’ll spit on it.

Perhaps I exaggerate, just a bit.  After all, nothing bad happened. I got a boatload of work done, I continue to be not laid off, my paychecks continue to clear, everyone close to me is healthy.

And yet, so much of the last five days I’ve felt like I’ve had a finger stuck in an electrical outlet, with the current constantly running through my system, jangling my nerves and toasting my noggin. I think by the end of today, though, I’m going to be able to pull my finger out of that socket, at least for a little while, and breathe.

I think it turned around a little last night. I had to leave work early for the conference with Junior’s teacher (which went extremely well; my goofball boy has really started to bloom, academically speaking, in the last three months, like a switch flipped on), and then we all went out for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant we’d never tried before. Everyone got something special:  Unfocused Girl and I had the osso bucco, the Siren had some kind of fancy pasta dish (I was too intent on the lamb to notice what, but it was tossed at the table in a big bowl of parmesan), and Junior had (as usual) pizza, but it was a special handmade pizza. Then we went home, put the kids to bed, and I spent an hour finishing a project I’ve spent the last two weeks on and finally getting it to the client.  I’ve got a lot to do today, but I think I’m going to get most of it done, with a minimum of pain (HAH!), and get out of the office at a reasonable time (double HAH!), maybe. I see a glass of wine in my future. Maybe a bottle.

No actual writing so far. A little outlining, and re-reading parts of Meet the Larssons to determine which scenes are salvageable, and which just need to go. No writing this week (or last, or the one before that), but I’m starting to see how to get back into the rewrite.

If I can pull together 15 minutes over the weekend, though, I may try banging out the start to a short story on Write or Die, just to keep those muscles from atrophying completely.  Hat tip to Amy for the link, and to Dr. Wicked for the creation.

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.

Winter Sunday Stats #5: Surviving the Big Freeze.

It’s 8 degrees here as I start this post at a few minutes before 9, but my Dashboard weather widget says it’s going to get to 19 today.  When it breaks 20, I’m going streaking.

In the house, of course.  While everyone else is at church.  You think I’m crazy?

Junior just woke up singing “Hosty the Ho-Man,” his own version of “Frosty the Snow Man” but starting every word with the letter H.  Now it’s “Dosty the Dough-Man,” which may be more age-appropriate.

Yesterday I took the kids to the best child’s birthday party ever, for one of the girls in Unfocused Girl’s class.  The Green Eyed Siren was still sick, running what seems to be her 453rd straight day of fever, so she stayed home to rest (and post on her new blog).  Why was it the best birthday party ever?  First, the whole family was invited, which meant that Junior didn’t have to stay home and be miserable.  Second, the party started at a production of Dr. Doolittle — the girl’s parents had bought out a section of the theater — which, given our kids’ current obsession with animals, was a guaranteed hit and even kept Junior in his seat.  Finally, after the play, we all (50+ people) adjourned to girl’s parents’ lovely Italian restaurant for a full buffet dinner, including an open bar.

Let me repeat that:  a child’s birthday party, with calamari, pumpkin ravioli, and an open bar.  There were chicken nuggets and french fries, too, so even Junior had something he was willing to eat.  Not that he did, much.

I didn’t get to make much use of the bar myself because I had to drive, although if I’d realized we were going to be there for close to three hours I’d have allowed myself a glass or two of wine early on.  The only downside to the party was the length; it was a little rough on Junior, since there was no place to run around.  All in all, though, they had a great time, and I was generally able to relax.

Because the Siren felt so crummy, we had to cancel on an old college friend and her daughter.  The last time we saw them, the daughter was an infant; now they’re here for her college interview.   Instead, we watched The Librarian:  Return to King Solomon’s Mines, from the best (and only) adventure movie series where a liberal arts geek (22 university degrees!) is the hero.  The kids loved it, because it’s an Indiana Jones knock off with less gore.  It’s the second in the series — we have the third on our DVR as well, and may watch that later in the weekend.

On Writing: I haven’t gotten much done on Meet the Larssons since I posted on Thursday night.  I’m still on page 142, but there are three handwritten pages attached to it now.  I will finish rewriting this chapter eventually, but it’s a rough one.  I’m pulling out a major turning point in the original story, and instead building up later conflicts with some foreshadowing (which is what I’m in the middle of) and a dinner date that was canceled in the first draft but is going to proceed in the rewrite.  Not having gone out for a romantic dinner with the Siren in a very long time, I’m afraid that writing that scene will tax my (already limited) creativity.

I haven’t worked on “Jamie’s Story” at all this week, because I’m trying to make more headway on Meet the Larssons.  I expect to go back to it in a week or two, once I’ve gotten through this chapter.  Same with Project Hometown — I need to get back some momentum on MTL.

I am especially glad to have joined my novelists’ support discussion group this week, because the Absolute Write forums have been down for days.  I don’t spend a lot of time on the forums, but it’s the only online forum where I have spent any time at all, and I notice the lack (as have other AW bloggers, like Amy, who found the explanation — the host is having server problems, but it appears to be taking longer than expected to fix).  I got a full week’s fix of writing conversation on Monday; unfortunately, we only meet once a month.

On Running: Definitely a better week.  I got in two mid-week runs, plus a trip to the gym to lift with a 10 minute run at the end of the workout, and a Taekwondo class with both kids.  Today, I cut my run a little short, but kept the speed respectable (by my recent standards, anyway):  5.0 miles in 40:23, an 8:05 m/m pace.  The office is closed tomorrow, so I should be able to squeeze in a run tomorrow too, if I get up at a reasonable hour.  All in all, I’m moving past my slothful November and December and I’m happy with my progress.  If I can get my weekly mileage up to 20 miles per week, I’ll be even happier.  What would really make me happy would be to run outside, but it’s just too damn cold even for the winter running gear I have.  I’ll run outside at 20 degrees, but that’s about my limit.

On the iPod: I finally finished Scott Sigler‘s podiobook Earthcore, which was excellent.  In the Q&A after the last episode, he says he’s working on a sequel; this was several years ago, so I’m going to track that down next.  During my run today, I listened to I Should Be Writing #108 (interview with Grammar Girl); Grammar Girl #148 (writing your first novel) and #149 (top five pet peeves of 2008); and Writing Excuses, Season Two, Episode 14 (Writing Habits).  I had never heard of Grammar Girl before listening to Mur’s interview, so a hat tip to Mur for pointing me in her direction.  GG has a short weekly podcast, and the couple of episodes I’ve listened to so far were fun and a lot less sleep-inducing than Ms. Haggarty’s English class sophomore year of high school.

Now we’re off to The Diner for lunch:  omelettes for the Siren and me, soup and possibly a cheeseburger for Unfocused Girl, and chicken nuggets and french fries (no lettuce, no barbecue sauce, nothing on the plate other than the nuggets and fries and especially nothing green touching the beige food, please!) for Junior.  And coffee.  Lots more coffee.

Finishing Off 2008. Good Riddance.

Projects undertaken in the Unfocused household in the waning days of 2008:

  • I made a shield for Unfocused Girl’s impromptu Athena costume, using a cardboard cake circle and duct tape.
  • Mrs. Unfocused hung Unfocused Girls’ giant paper mache sea creatures from the ceiling of the kids’ room.
  • I started a new short story, because I need a break from outlining Project Hometown and I wasn’t at my desk to work on the revisions of Meet the Larssons.
  • Mrs. Unfocused made a quickie Bolt birthday cake for Junior.  No pictures — I’ll post photos of the more elaborate one she’ll make for his birthday party in a couple of weeks.
  • We learned to play two of the games the kids got from Santa:  Clue, Jr., and the Scooby-Doo Haunted House 3D board game.
  • I started teaching Unfocused Girl how to play chess.
  • I made Junior cry by capturing one of his pieces when he demanded that I teach him chess, too.

We don’t have any particular plans for tonight — we’ll probably watch a movie with the kids, stage a fake countdown around 9pm, go outside and make some noise, then put them to bed and go back downstairs to have some champagne.  Or some more champagne.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and here’s hoping 2009 is a better year overall than 2008 has been.

Stalking Santa.

NORAD tracks Santa. We love this.

She’s Got A Future In Hollywood.

Unfocused Girl drew this in the car on the way home from New York Thanksgiving weekend. It may be my favorite of all of her drawings this year, even if it’s a little shaky from the stop-and-go traffic going into Pennsylvania.  The movie industry is all about remakes and sequels, so I think she could go far with this concept:

ZORRO VS. THE VAMPIRE!

ccf16122008_00001

VAMPIRE:  I vant to suck your blood!

ZORRO: I leave you with this, senor.

WHIP CRACKS:  BAM BAM BAM!  A bloody Z appears on the chest of the vampire.

ZORRO:  For not even I can give you all my blood.  That would give my life to evil.  This is the price you pay when you kill innocent people.

We’ll write up the treatment over winter break and start shopping it to agents and production companies.  Are Affleck and Damon still doing Project Greenlight?  And more importantly, will she give me an executive producer credit?

Fall Sunday Stats #8: Long Weekend.

Miles run driven: 1610, round trip.  After a great Thanksgiving dinner with old friends, we spent most of Thanksgiving weekend in Brooklyn, in my old neighborhood.  Park Slope was on a gentrifying, yuppifying trend when I left in 1987, and it has continued on the same path since, which means it has MUCH better restaurants than when I left.

I am proud to say that even though the yuppie sports bar (which my little group of juvenile delinquents always called “The Fern Bar” in a tone that was positively dripping with disdain) is still open and was only a block from the apartment we rented, we didn’t eat there.  I remember swearing an oath in blood with several of my friends that we would never give The Fern Bar our custom, once we were 21 and old enough to get in.  I kept my part of the bargain.

Instead, I showed the kids the house I grew up in (from the outside), the pizza place I used to go to, and various places I used to hang out.  The kids put up with my blathering on about my childhood with good grace; they were just happy to see their grandpa and try a few new things.

Much to my daughter’s chagrin, she and Junior liked New York pizza a lot — perhaps even better than Chicago pizza, which caused me to laugh maniacally in the middle of the Smiling Pizzeria.  They liked the park and the little local bookstore with the feline-in-residence.  And the place that sold Smurfs back in the day now has entire walls covered with Thomas the Tank Engine products (I did find one Smurf on a shelf of unboxed figurines for sale; I think it was Sultry Smurf, but I’m not sure.  Mainly, they liked the big park.

On the last day before we left, we went into Manhattan to meet my mother; before we went uptown to the Museum of Natural History, the Mrs. suggested we take the kids to Forbidden Planet, the science fiction/comic book store where I used to blow all my free cash.  I didn’t argue, and Junior and I had a great time; Unfocused Girl was less impressed, although she ended up with some good stuff, including a Thor graphic novel (and since Junior can’t read, all the comics that he asks for end up inuring to her benefit, too).

I think they liked seeing where I grew up, even though they didn’t like the crowds and I rambled on a bit long a few times.  Probably the thing I said that caused the most consternation was my description of stickball, which we used to play in the street, since they know that if I caught them playing anything in the street, they would be in serious trouble.

How about the writing? I have finished my edits of “Jimmies,” and expect to submit it this week.  I plan to start revisions of Meet the Larssons, but I have (surprise) to go out of town for work for several days this week and may not get much done until the weekend.  Blah.