Archive for January, 2013

  • Healing and Chatting

    Date: 2013.01.29 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Sarah | Response: 14

    The three members of our family have been passing a nasty cough/cold around for almost two months now, which has lead to me either playing nurse, or laying in bed fighting through my own misery.  And while this has lead to an increase of watching Downton Abbey on my iPad and reading in bed, it has kept me away from blogging.

    This overwhelming sickness has not, however, inhibited my little girl from growing at a pace that continues to surprise and overwhelm me. In addition to adeptly climbing in and out of her crib (but luckily only during play time), she’s also taken to copying Mark and I, navigating the iPad better than I could ever hope to, and saying all kinds of things. The flashcard app is one of her favorites, allowing her to identify things like zebras, giraffes and sharks.

    Here’s a short video before I left for work this morning.

    And yes, she would really prefer me to not put anything in her hair ever, but hats of every size and shape are just fine.

    So there you have it, we’re surviving and growing and healing. We have friends coming in town this weekend from Austin, and I plan on taking Sarah to her very first Mardi Gras parade on Sunday – the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux complete with ponies dressed as bumble bees and kitties in their own decorated floats. The perfect parade for her first, don’t you think?

  • Squirrel Hunting

    Date: 2013.01.16 | Category: Home, Mark, Weirdness | Response: 14

    We get like five mornings/evenings below freezing in Louisiana. Two of those have happened this past week.  One of those nights we were in our living room, when we heard an awful scratching sound coming from the top corner of the room. Mark went outside and made sure that we didn’t have a low hanging tree branch – nothing. The scratching continued and we figured a critter had taken shelter in our home. Eventually the scratching stopped though and I forgot about it… until last night.

    As Mark and I both finished with a late night of work, we crawled into bed around 11, ready to for some much needed shut eye.

    We laid down, listening to the light pattering of sleet hitting the roof, when suddenly we heard the familiar SCRATCH SCRATCH coming from the general direction of our closet. Mark and I looked at each other.

    “No way that’s a tree branch, huh?” I said.

    Mark replied, “No that’s definitely a squirrel. I hope he’s not digging his way through the sheetrock.”

    At which point I had visions of the following:

    • The squirrel bursting through the sheetrock as if propelled by a spring and landing on the bed.

    • The squirrel busting through the sheetrock and then quietly climbing up the bed and me waking up with him sitting on my chest.

    • The squirrel bursting through the sheetrock followed by a contingent of two barking dogs and two angry cats, tearing up my house and waking up Sarah.

    Our first option was to try to scare the squirrel away. This involved Mark shouting and banging on walls, Leela barking and me throwing my boots at the ceiling of my closet. All of these things stopped the noise just long enough for us to settle back in bed and hear the scratching start all over again.

    The scratching was loud though and the thought of waking up with that critter on my chest was enough to entice us to take the next step.

    Mark has been working on replacing the eves of our house, so there is an open spot by our fireplace. We can see it from our backdoor, so he stationed me there with a flashlight to watch while he crawled into the attic in an attempt to flush the squirrel out.

    Now, I could see the spot by the fireplace from inside the house, but it was killing my back to look at that angle. I opened the door to get a better look, but it was sleeting and the thought of there being no barrier between me and a scared squirrel flying out of a hole was enough to make me stretch and bare it.

    While I was waiting, I suddenly heard Mark’s murmured voice up in the attic, words coming in quick succession. I kept waiting and peering, but no squirrel. So I went to the attic opening to find out what was going on.

    In my mind, I just knew we were about to have one of two Clark Griswold situations happen: Mark was either going to fall through the attic and have his legs sticking through our ceiling, or the squirrel was going to come flying out of our recently packed away Christmas tree and land on his face.

    As Mark and I hollered back and forth through the attic door, I found out that he had spied our furry little friend, but the squirrel freaked and ran out of the attic back into a remote corner, into the eves of our house… in the exact opposite direction we thought he was coming in through.  But, he hadn’t reappeared, so we both gave up and went back to bed.

    The good news is that the scratching stopped after that. The bad news is that we obviously have another hole in our roof somewhere and a squirrel who knows how to make good use of it.

    Much to the credit of our southern friends, I’ve had a couple offer up their squirrel traps for our use (yes, people here obviously keep them stocked in their homes), but despite being the well bred southern girl that I am and the fear of that squirrel breaking into my bedroom in the middle of the night, I don’t want to kill him. He just wants a warm place to sleep after all. I’m just going to hope the sight of Mark ambling after him in the attic in the middle of the night was enough to scare him away permanently.

  • Saying No

    Date: 2013.01.11 | Category: Me, Sarah, Work | Response: 15

    I can’t help it, I’m a bit of a people pleaser. Maybe it’s the Libra in me trying to find balance, or maybe I just don’t like people to be angry, especially at me. But, both in my line of work and at home, I’ve had to learn to say no.

    We have an overfull issue of the magazine this month. Too many articles, not enough space. While that’s technically a good problem to have, after all not enough is the real problem, it means I had to tell people their stuff wasn’t going to make the cut this month. I base it on a number of things including whether or not the material is time sensitive, importance relative to other articles, reader popularity and, sometimes, the writer’s own busy schedule. And I always try to be fair.

    Even with that, I find myself up against writers who are not happy by my decisions.  They think their item is more important than everybody else’s. And when I first started this job, I was more of a pushover on that sort of thing. But, I’ve finally learned that I have to be firm and let them know that I have the final decision on that and not them. A firm and decisive “no” is sometimes the only thing that works.  And even then I feel their wrath, but at least I’ve set the bar.

    At home I’ve also had to learn the firm and decisive “no,” but with a frustrated almost two-year-old. And while the stubbornness in some of these angry writers is mirrored in Sarah, the difference is that I love her with all my heart and I have a stake in the person she becomes.

    Sarah had developed a nasty habit of eating until she was full and then hurling the plate, usually still with food on it, across the room. Not only would food fly everywhere, but it would make a horrible noise and she would burst out laughing. After several half-hearted “no’s,” I had to make a stand. The next time it happened, I grabbed the throwing hand and popped it and said, “NO!” Now the pop was light and didn’t hurt her, but it got her attention. The look she gave me was one of pure betrayal and it cut straight to my heart. It killed me, but I held firm. And guess what? No more plate throwing.

    We’ve waged some more battles over dumping and cleaning up crayons and other toys, but we’ve won those too, mostly by not giving in and lasting longer than her despite the temper tantrums.

    All this to say, while I love to be the person who makes you happy and says “yes,” I’ve learned to be strong and give a firm “no” when I need to.

  • 2012 in Books

    Date: 2013.01.06 | Category: Books | Response: 7

    At the end of the year, I usually do a summary of my favorite books I read over the course of the year with a summary, but since I’ve already summarized most of the books I’ve read this year, I thought I’d give out my own special brand of awards to my favorites.

    Shelfari tells me I read 53 this year, but it lied because it didn’t include books that I re-read in that tally (all seven Harry Potter books, Jane Eyre and A Discovery of Witches). So that gives me 62 books. What can I say? I spent a lot of time with a breast pump the first part of this year.

    So, just for fun, here are some awards for books I read this year:

    Best Young Adult Book Series:
    Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    Best Historical Fiction:
    Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

    Most Visually Beautiful Book:
    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    Book Whose Terrible Writing Made Me Want to Pull All of My Hair Out and Cry:
    Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James

    Best Epic Fantasy:
    A tie between the Song of Fire and Ice Series by George R.R. Martin and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

    Worst Conclusion to a Trilogy:
    Reached by Ally Condie

    Worst Prequel to a Series:
    The Kill Order by James Dashner

    Most Fun Book About Video Games and the 80’s Ever:
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    Book That Surprised Me the Most:
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    Best Memoir:
    Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch

    Best Supernatural Series:
    Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

    Most Disappointing After All the Hype:
    A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    Book That Looked and Sounded Creepy But Was Actually Great Fun:
    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    Book that I Wanted to Hug the Most:
    Among Others by Jo Walton

    What about you? Read anything worth your own brand of award?