Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Haawwrk. Coff, coff. This is the sound of my house this week. Well, the household, to be accurate. The Punkin had an ear infection by Christmas Eve, and Pirate Boy's developed soon afterward. I went to bed right after Christmas dinner; The Man and I have been coughing on each other for days now. And nights; no sleep. Yuck. Will post more post-recovery.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to All

So, my Alabama in-laws are in town this week, and my kids are going crazy. There are two things I'd forgotten (but really should have remembered) about these visitors from afar:

1) As soon as they arrive, they immediately take my husband away on a shopping trip, leaving me with whatever kids we have (occasionally a newborn) for hours on end. Then they come back, eat whatever I've fixed for them, and go off again. Repeat ad nauseum.

2) They don't remember what it's like to be parents of young children, especially when said children really ought to be sleeping. No, naptime and very early mornings are the times when you need to recount your adventures in 'Nam at the top of your lungs, or for preference, give the oldest kid a trombone lesson.

(A third thing isn't so major but is a kind of funny side note: their accents. Hoo-boy. Or should I say "Bowah"?)

Fortunately, I like my in-laws. Great-grandma even acknowledges the younger kids now (especially Punkin Boy, who, we hear for the 57th time, "looks just like his dad"). And I'm gathering interesting anecdotes from Dad, who was busted in rank more times than Robin Williams' character could ever have dreamed of being. And for better reasons. Someday I'll write a book. Another book.

Meanwhile, I'm actually having a good time. Our guests are spoiling me as much as they are the children. (I didn't think my winter coat looked so bad, really!) My big excitement: They gave us a camcorder! [Dance of joy] It's got video editing software, so if we can figure out how to transfer the film to the computer, I'll be posting some fun stuff. My kids are awesome!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Winter Haiku

16 degrees out.
Our furnace igniter blows.
Brrrr... Cold inside now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

An Upside of Unemployment

This week, #1 Son's teacher noticed that the only protection he had against this unbelievable cold (at the time, around 8 degrees F.) was a padded denim jacket and some ski gloves. I imagine her wondering angrily whether we're criminally neglectful or simply impoverished. She must have checked the roster of "free lunch" kids and found our boy on it, because yesterday the boy came home from school in a wonderful furry-hooded parka, courtesy of some kind donor.

I'm wiping away the tears as I think of it now. Not that I have too much pride to be grateful for such a thing, because I'm willing to suffer anything to take care of my kids. But this coat (glasses going foggy) is so much nicer than we could have bought for him this fall when I was gainfully employed and we were just a little too rich for the welfare rolls. This situation is bringing us the weirdest blessings.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Answer in the form of a question, please:

The strange marble-sized lump in my breast.

What is GONE, Alex?

That's right! Disappeared completely. Ta-da!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Things to Do in the Arctic Cold

In honor of the unholy cold that's got a grip on North America this week (hovering around zero Fahrenheit in my neck of the woods), I've given some thought to what you can really do in weather like this. Here are some suggestions for those who find this weather frustrating and useless:

1. Stay in bed and snuggle with someone you like.
2. Pile on lots of blankets and read a book.
3. Take a nice long nap.
4. Finish writing your NaNo novel, enjoying the warmth of the laptop.
5. Make a fire and sit as close as you can for as long as you can stand it.
6. Enjoy cocoa and popcorn with your family or friends.
7. Board up the igloo doors and wait for the spring thaw.

Notice that all these things involve being indoors (preferrably); also notice the absence of such items as
  • Drive all over town taking people to school.
  • Go out for yet another mammogram.
  • Make another couple round trips picking people up from school and other places.
  • Go outside for any reason.
  • Drive anywhere in the snow at all.

And yet, alas, my day involves lots of driving in ice and snow, much of it before and after the sun's showtime. Today I'm lucky; I only have to make 3 round-trips. Yesterday I made 5, including the one after sunset with all the kids, who are usually tired and want their dinner anyway. Tuesdays are worse because we get up an hour early to get The Man to his early class. And it was 10 times as bad yesterday because-- OK, storytime here.

Friday, TM says to me "Bad news: My final is on Monday at 7 a.m." Of course the buses don't run at that time of day, and the school is half an hour from our house, and we've only got one car, so this is bad news indeed. It means that we have to bundle the kids out of bed and into their shoes and coats at 6:15 a.m., put them in the car, drive 18 miles to drop their dad off at school, then I have to somehow get them home before they combust from anger at missing their breakfast (not to mention that 75 minutes of sleep), feed them and keep them from killing each other until it's time to take #1 Son to school, bring home the younger ones and somehow survive (at this point, it's that bad-- "Please, kids, just watch a movie or something!") until it's time to take a rather cranky Pirate Boy to afternoon kindergarten, bring a (by this time) screaming Punkin Boy home for a nap...

That he won't take because he has just grown big enough to open bedroom doors AND climb out of his crib. No prison can hold him, and he may never sleep again. Last night, he was up every 2 minutes till long past midnight, at which point he got too tired to keep it up and passed out on the bottom of his long-suffering brother's bed. Poor Pirate Boy has to share a room with this guy, so he's not getting enough sleep, either, but he's developing the ability to sleep through a tornado in his room (i.e., Punkin Boy). I alone of our family have the unfortunate habit of waking up at the slightest noise, especially when it's made by a small child. I haven't slept since Sunday, when I did a lot of napping because of...

The post-NaNo party! (Need to link to some pictures here. There were vast amounts of silliness perpetrated that night.) That, however, is a story for another day.

Postscripts: (1) Unfortunately, TM got mixed up about which Monday his final was on, so we went out 2 days ago amid the aforementioned chaos and personal sacrifice, only to find out that the final is really next Monday, and we'll have to do it all over again! No, I haven't yet committed murder. (2) No, I still haven't gotten anyone to tell me anything about that last mammogram. I waited around for an answer from the doctor's office for 2 weeks, but they were even less informative than the radiology tech, so here I go (right about now, in fact) for an ultrasound. If I ever find out what the deal is, I promise I'll post it here. For now, you can share my frustration at the wait.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Win the Marathon!

I did it! I did it! And the crowd goes wild!

Now to collapse for a few days while I recover...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Almost There!

Covering the final distance to tomorrow night's finish line. Only 1500 words to go. I'm going to make it! (Puff, puff, pant.) But until then, miss me. (*Blows a big kiss to her adoring fans*) Back to the race...

More in December, I promise!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Na Na, WRIte MOre!

In lieu of a real post, I'm going to follow Purple Elephant's lead and present you with this little quiz for N... you know, that novel-writing thing. (Those of you who aren't participating, answer as if you were.)

Here's my results. Enjoy!

Hooray for you! You're going to win Nanowrimo!
Persistence and hardwork reap great rewards.

It's Nanowrimo Time! Will you reach 50K? What kind of novel will you write?
brought to you by Quizilla

[Edited just before midnight, 11/17: And Scone pulls ahead! She's passing the daily word average and is more than on-track to finish this blasted novel. Huzzah! And there was much rejoicing.]

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why I'm (Still) Behind on My Novel

Oy. Dead tired. I had counted on tonight to catch up on my novel, but no. I forgot that The Man had a late study group in Nearby College Town from whence I'd have to pile the children in the car and pick him up-- at bedtime. I also didn't anticipate #1 Son being hit in the head at school today. Despite losing his vision and becoming extremely dizzy, he didn't think to tell anyone, go to the nurse, or anything, until I came to pick him up a few hours later. I wavered about taking him to the doctor, planning to talk it over with The Man when he came home-- but I didn't realize he wasn't going to come home at the normal time until after I'd piled the kids into the car and driven in a snowstorm to the bus stop a few miles away. Because there has to be a complication. Foolishly fed the children spaghetti (ever tried cooking anything while a 35-pound toddler head-butts you repeatedly and two other children scream and fight in another room?); had to bathe two youngest (without being able to bend over or lift either of them, don't forget) and get everyone ready to go yet again before urgent care clinic closed. Then got lost in the dark and the snow and went around in circles. Fortunately, #1 Son is OK aside from some inner ear jostling. Younger ones entertained the front office staff while I was chaperoning their brother. Then Punkin Boy escaped just as we were leaving (nearly too late to pick up TM) and ran up this stone stairway that looked as if it had no railings at all between him and a 30-foot drop. Argh.

Oh, I could go on. But I won't. Must sleep now. Got to get up in 5 hours and do it all again. Maybe I'll catch up some other time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What's Wrong With Me, Anyway?

I don't know why I'm writing this. I only have a few minutes before I have to go pick up the kids. Somehow, I've got to get food ready for my writers group banquet tonight right about the same time as I need to be picking up The Man from the bus stop. (I feel really rotten that he won't be able to go for the first time in 5 years.) I'll have to just dump everyone and leave, and I won't be home until after the kids' bedtime, and I haven't written on my novel today, and...

I have something weird in my breast tissue.

I had a second mammogram today because the first one showed an "anomaly" (whatever). The perky technician came back in after showing today's results to the doctor and with a smile told me that I was done. I almost stopped listening at that point, but it's a good thing I didn't because she went on to say that I'd have to come back later for an ultrasound--nothing to worry about, no big deal, the doctors had wanted to do it anyway... Sure, fine, OK. I'll schedule that later. I was fine, too, until she went out. Then I burst into tears like an idiot.

So here I am, just sure I feel something weird in there, trying to tell myself that just because this same thing happened to my mom and hers turned out to be nasty it doesn't mean that it will be the same for me (sure it won't), and feeling guilty for worrying about how much it will cost, since we're still bringing in very little money and Christmas is coming. And tonight I get to hang out with a bunch of wealthy people who will wonder what on earth is wrong with me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I've broken the 20 percent mark, and only 23% of the way through the working month. (Omitting Sundays does put a cramp in my word count, but I'll make it anyway.) Over ten thousand words into my novel, I still haven't gotten to the main action, and that's OK. I've been fascinated to see what the early bit has turned out like.

For anyone who hasn't tried this experiment before, I totally recommend it. What a rush!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Four days down...

... and I've reached the 10% mark on my novel. Don't do the math; I know I'm still behind, but I'm making up ground, and I'm making progress. And I haven't even gotten to the good part yet.

I love this stuff. Am I crazy?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Yee-ouch! Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Is it really the 3rd already? (Well, technically the morning of the 4th now.) A tenth of the way through the month: Got to get moving on that book...

I've been typing nonstop for the past 3 1/2 hours, and ooh, does my right arm ache! (Why not the left one, eh? What has that slacker been doing all this time?) I'm still behind on where I should be by now, but I did a good 1800 words this evening, and the weekend is coming up. So I'm hopeful for a good conclusion to NaNoWriMo.

Meanwhile, I finished the first part of my freelance work for the month. I clocked only about 8 hours' worth of work on this thing, when I had budgeted for closer to 12 or 15. I've got to either start working slower or start charging by the project instead of the hour. Oy. Let me sleep on it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Got It Going On

Testing... Does this show up? Finally?

In case anyone was wondering where I am lately. Dig the new photo, too.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Go Figure

It just figures: Here I sign up for NaNoWriMo because I have nothing else to do in November than write a novel (and OK, I really wanted to do it). So what happens? First, our kids are out of school the first 3 days of November, so no afternoon respite while Punkin Boy takes his nap. Second, (wait for it...) I actually got offered some contract work for almost half the month of November. Which is great, don't get me wrong... In fact, it's fine. I do my best writing late at night anyway.

Now I just need to figure out how to balance all that and get the payments to fall in only one or two of the weeks in November so that I don't lose too much of my unemployment. (Y'know, for a gal who's opposed to the dole, I sure am taking to it well. Bother.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

OK, so it's not just me...

Overheard in passing the other day:

"I always know winter is coming because my fingers start to crack and bleed."

Oh yeah. That's why they do that. It's been so long.

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's a Fine Life

[Tried to post this Friday night, but Blogger was acting up.]

I received my first unemployment check yesterday. Today's groceries were courtesy of welfare. And I had a "post-midterm celebration" date with my husband tonight for virtually free (thanks, Kory!). So life on the streets isn't all that bad.

Meanwhile, it's #1 Son's 11th birthday and his "Mommy" managed not to completely stand him up this time. It's a step in the right direction. But he's gone all weekend, so we'll have to celebrate with him Monday. My folks are giving him a spankin' new Boy Scout uniform; someday he might appreciate the thought. Fortunately, he's got other grandparents.

The little punkins have had a great week learning and playing. The weather (which for quite a while was around 80) has turned cool and wet, finally, but it's still pleasant enough to get outside and have fun in. We spent some time discovering autumn things like leafstorms-- what a magical experience that was for a toddler!

Also, since the editing gigs aren't coming in quite yet, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and am now priming the word pump. I've been working on my murder mystery more diligently lately and (can you believe it?) started a new book (non-fiction this time, just for spice) this week. Wheeeee!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Running Down

I'm losing steam. Not sure whether it's an attitude thing, but I'm just not trying as hard as I was. (That ought to be a good thing, right?) I sit down to job hunt, and I end up checking blogs. I sit down to write on my book, and I end up job hunting. Neither of these has been particularly helpful.

I didn't even go to my writers group meeting this week. After missing the previous 2 months' meetings because of that stupid job, I ought to have been leaping into my car, but no... I was too tired. Well, I was, but that shouldn't have been an excuse. I love my writers group. I live for it. It's what kept me going so long... what is my problem?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday Again? Already?

Sheesh. Somehow I thought I'd been posting more often than this. Well, bother. And of course all the ideas I'd had for posts have gone right out of my head, so you'll have to wait for something intelligent. But for now:

The Status Report
  • I have not scheduled a followup mammogram. My mom (a breast-cancer survivor) said I should wait until I can afford it (i.e., get insurance). The referring N.P. also said it was nothing major, so I'm going to wait.
  • I spent most of last week playing phone tag with this person I was supposed to interview with. One day, her son broke his arm. One day, I had a migraine. Etcetera. One day I just played hooky.
  • I have had no emails or calls regarding jobs since Thursday. This could have something to do with the previous item.
  • The Man and I are thinking of incorporating. We'd really rather just write all day, every day, but somehow we try to make a living doing other things.
  • It has been raining for 2 days solid.
  • We're being stalked by Satan-- or at least his spawn. The Man tried to placate her by giving her a Webcam. Great, another way for her to stalk us.
  • We finally got the realtor to take down the "For Sale" sign in front of our house.
  • Pirate Boy loves to play chess and Risk, but can't get his little brother to follow the rules. This frustrates both of them no end.
  • My Punkin Boy will NOT sleep although he needs to (and so do I).
  • I like staying home with the kids and making cookies and zucchini bread. It's kinda fun.
  • With an attitude like that, I'll never get another job.
  • The only thing I miss about working is having an income.
  • Oh, and my laptop. I miss that, too.
  • Pirate Boy's alarm clock (which resides in the living room) went off at 2:00 this morning.
  • The Man had just gotten to bed at 1 something.
  • Did I mention I need a nap? I need a nap. My dear husband needs one worse. And he's wandering around in the freezing rain all day. Lucky, lucky man.

For a post when I didn't have anything to say, this has turned out pretty long. More later...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Spooky II, Electric Boogaloo

You know how the other day I was freaking out about scary stuff? Hmm, well, I'll be doing it again any second now.

1) I have a follow-up interview tomorrow (probably) with the high-falutin newsie people, but I secretly don't really want the job. I applied just on a whim, but I wrote a really good cover letter by accident, and I guess that worked. (Yes, I did keep a copy to modify and use later.) So I've got this weird dilemma going on now: Do I do my very best and risk being offered a job that might stress me out too much? (I couldn't refuse because that would void my unemployment benefits.) Or do I sabotage my chances so that I don't get the offer, which might actually be a really cool opportunity? Or do I just shut up, stop worrying about it, and realize that they probably won't offer me the job anyway?

2) Also tomorrow, I have to schedule a follow-up mammogram because the first one found, um, something they're not sure what it is. Probably nothing, sure. That's what they told my mom. What a good time not to have health insurance!

But on the positive side, I've got a couple more people interested in giving me editing work to do, which will be fun. Well, profitable anyway. I hear the
team has lost yet another editor (that makes 4 of us in the past 2 weeks alone). I'm sure it's my fault; shya. (Did I not mention that the PHB blamed me for everyone else resigning? I can't find that in any of my posts... Well, she did.)

And lest I forget how blessed I am, I will now shut down my second computer, go kiss my sleeping angels, and curl up in a nice warm bed where, with any luck, my darling husband will join me before morning.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Take That!


I've discovered that the PHB's brand of insanity is not unique, or even rare. It has a name, and that name is "workplace bullying." has an active forum devoted to it, and apparently there are books and several Web sites about the phenomenon, too. It's a form of abuse, like spouse, child, or elder abuse, but it's legal.

I was interested to discover that, statistically, workplace bullying tends to mostly target females who are a few years on either side of 40 and who have been with their employers for about 6 1/2 years. No joke. And as I've found, the target is usually forced out of the job and the perpetrator usually sticks around and does it to someone else. Now I'm wondering who's next on PHB's list, and how much this will end up costing the company long-term.

I am SO glad to be quit of that place.


Today I washed a mouse. Yech. I was thinking while I sorted the laundry that the pile was big enough to hide a whole colony of mice. But to have it tumble out-- THUD!-- on the floor when I pulled the clothes out of the washing machine was more than I really needed to deal with. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought copious quantities of mouse-killing equipment. Death to Mousie!

Oh, and on a more grown-up note, I've now had the dubious honor of being turned down for health insurance-- because of my health. Duh. I'm hoping they'll at least insure my kids.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... That eerie wailing you hear isn't coming from the early Halloween kitsch at your local Wal-Mart; it's all me. This week has had some seriously unnerving spots. I'm still shaking from a job interview I had just now with one of the big names in the tech content world. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... They want a news editor to analyze and write about industry trends, manage reporters, .... (major shuddering fit) um, and so on. I think I'm a little nervous about the idea and not really confident in my ability to do the job. YAh.

OK, so changing the subject: I had my first mammogram this week, too. Aaaaaa! Sorry, it wasn't actually as terrible as all that. It's just a scary thing-- for me, anyway-- ever since those wonderful comediennes in the 90's did the standup routines about that particular physical torture. And there's always the fear of them finding cancer. Nevermind that it's much better to detect it early so that you have a better chance of survival; fear doesn't respond to rational arguments. The only way to get past fear is to do an end run around it and pretend you're really doing something else until you're already in the doctor's office where the fear of public humiliation will step up to help keep you from running out the door. Oy.

Anyway, it was just fine; the people were nice; they gave me cocoa and a pink carnation, even. I have no reason to keep screaming. Right? Cut that out. What? What is it? Iiiiiiiice cream... Oh! Ah.....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Making Progress

Getting settled in to the new routine. Didn't get much work-related done today; kids running amuck, housework to do, and so on. However...

I did send in resumes to two good prospects this evening. And here is my first freelance specialization page, go figure. It's only for Google purposes, so that people who want an editor for that topic can find me, so don't judge the content too harshly. Not that I ever want to see that content again, but I do need to eat. Need to come up with more pages to increase my chances of getting gigs I'm interested in.

But more on that later; time to tumble into bed. 'Night.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

News Flash

I'm officially registered as a freelance editor. Hooray! Someday I'll even post a link to my official page, but I'm not finished spiffing things up over there yet. I am so enjoying this "not having a job" stuff.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Seasonal Silliness

Time to hibernate!

You Are A: Bear Cub!

bear cubBears are strong and independent creatures who roam in the forest in search of food. Bears are usually gentle, but anger one and be prepared for their full fury! You're tough, you won't back down from a fight, you have a bit of a temper -- classic attributes of a bear. Intelligent and resourceful, though lazy at times, you are a fascinating creature of the wild.

You were almost a: Turtle or a Duck
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a SquirrelWhat Cute Animal Are You?

A duck? I ask you...

Fall... It's Super-Freaky

I've lived in this area for over 6 years now, and I still find it bizarre how closely the local weather follows the calendar seasons. Calendar says "first day of autumn"? Expect to wake up to a wet, dreary morning on a day that will eventually reach a high of 55 degrees. It will happen even if the previous day was hot, clear, and 90 degrees-- just like each of the previous 90 days.

It's weird, I tell ya.

OK, I grew up in a place where the calendar was basically only to tell you when to wear white shoes. (And I didn't pay much attention to that anyway. I never had more than two pairs of shoes before college.) The seasons we had weren't on any calendar: first allergy season, monsoon season, second allergy season, and holiday season-- that couple weeks when the temperature drops below 65 at night. (Bundle up, kids!)

I've adjusted to actually having distinct seasons in my weather. It's nice to have change sometimes. The thing about autumn that I keep forgetting is: It's too cold for our puny weakling mice to sleep outside now. So they invade. And they're not typical scared-of-their-own-shadow mice who only creep out after the household is asleep. Oh no. These are the kind that will play hockey in your kitchen during dinner and run across your toes to beat you to the bathroom.

So I don't feel the slightest bit sorry about poisoning them and flinging their vile little carcasses onto the trash heap. Maybe I can get the neighbor's evil pit bull to eat them. Two birds and all that. Pah.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And So It Goes...

Well, they fired me. I walked into my manager's office Friday morning for our scheduled meeting to discuss how I can better manage my workload, task printouts and written plan in hand, sat down-- and they fired me before I could open my mouth. "It's time for us to part ways. Here's your final check. Any questions?" Um, just one, really. Why the blankety-blank did you tell me you'd let me discuss this with my manager today if you were really just going to fire me, you lying scum? OK, strike the blankety-blank. No need to get vulgar.

I have to admit I felt pretty negative about that situation, though. I had to tell my husband "Happy birthday, honey; I lost my job," which was a totally lousy feeling for both of us. And I miss my laptop. Now we have to schedule time on one PC for both (well, all 5) of us. There's the lack of income, which is really going to hurt after the first of October. But the worst is the lack of healthcare, when all of us are sick and not getting better. That bites.

On the other hand, the beatings have stopped. And I no longer have to work till midnight every night. The stress of having a family to support and no income isn't (amazingly) as bad as the stress of trying to please the people I worked for. I can think of half a dozen reasons why they might have wanted me out, not the least of which is that they're crazy. But speculation will get me nowhere. So, what next? File for unemployment: check. Search diligently for jobs pretty much anywhere: check (ongoing). Follow up with contacts who might have work for me: in progress. Get some rest and try to get healthy: next on my agenda. After that, I plan to get some food into this house before I need to feed the kids again. Rinse. Repeat.

I want to say a HUGE thank you to my family and friends who have been super-supportive during this time when I'm really struggling to regain my confidence. Their love and friendship has meant the world to me and has just helped so much. I'm going to do my darnedest to live up to your faith in me. Thanks.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Can't Believe This...

No wait, that's a negative statement; must rephrase. I am shocked and awed at the determination of the PHB to push me out despite our shortness of staff. I stand truly amazed at her ability to find negativity in every sentence that comes out of my mouth, including the words "I'm sorry" and "I want to make this work." I'm impressed at the willingness of the other managers to go along with her on everything. I'm curious how much they're paying her and what else she does all day. OK, that one was negative again.

I'm also delirious with fever and in searing pain from an ear infection. I'm fairly certain my kids are worse off. I'm terrified of what will happen if I stay home tomorrow to take care of them.

I'm tired of having to watch every word I say and of having all my best efforts derided and belittled. I'm looking frantically for a new job. I'm not succeeding.

I'm emotionally and physically exhausted, and I'm going to bed now. Good night.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Morale Has Not Improved; Beatings to Continue

This week has been... less than stellar at the Scone household. On Wednesday, I was worried about our boys being kicked out of their school. On Thursday, I was worried that the stress at work would snap my back again. On Friday, I was told that I am a bad influence who has bad judgement (a reference to some things that earlier I had been praised for) and a bad attitude (this I admit) and that the PHB can't stand to have me working for the company anymore. Also bad.

I'm thinking it's a personal problem on her end, but even if it is, there's very little I can do to keep my job. I have until COB Monday to figure out a plan that the management will accept. However, all the managers concerned will be out of the office/out of touch until Friday, so they couldn't approve my plan if they wanted to. Not a terribly encouraging sign that they want to work with me.

But there's another wave of people leaving the department this month; I don't understand why the PHB would insist on pushing anyone out at this point. We're already shortstaffed and struggling to train a handful of newbies as it is. Why do you suppose we're having such a high turnover lately? *sniff, sniff* I smell a scapegoat, and it's me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nothing But Sticks

Usually I like Thursdays. I get to work from home, spend a little more time with my babies (and The Man), and feel a lot more relaxed. It makes up for a lot of the trauma of working where I work. But not today.

Today my team (all 2 of us) had a mandatory 1-hour meeting in the executive conference room with our managers (3 of them) to discuss why we suck. No, why we're so far behind on our deadlines. It's right out of a Dilbert cartoon. Probably several. But our management no longer sees the humor or irony in Scott Adams' work, so I don't bring it up.

First words out of my manager's mouth when we sat down were, "So how did things get so bad that we had a crisis yesterday?" Um, well, good morning to you, too. And as for the crisis yesterday... It was someone else's. I have an ongoing one that leaves me crippled by the end of the day. Every day. Get your own.

She wanted to know why, if we were running screaming with our hair on fire, we didn't ask for help or tell anyone that we couldn't manage the workload. Well, actually, we had. I had, I know. Every time a new project came down the pike toward the new boss (TNB), she deflected it toward me. (Well, y'know, she had this project to work on.) As early as last Wednesday, I was saying "No, I can't do it, I'm swamped. I have 6 deadlines next week, I'm behind on the edits, I've pushed my other main duties completely to the back burner, and that's gonna hurt later, I'm just overwhelmed... and my buddy over here is even worse off." Almost in those words, I said it. And yet, we still had to do it.

So Wednesday this week, we got this scolding note saying, "Where is everything, you losers?!" and people started yelling that we'd missed a deadline, though as far as we knew, the deadline wasn't until today. The answer to where things were: 1) on their way to you already, 2) somebody else has them and we thought they were done, and 3) I'd have had it done already, but you screwed it up so I still need to fix your mistakes. (I am not the most diplomatic person in the world, as you may have noticed.)

So, as I was scrambling to get all my things done for the screaming people upstairs, a new item was dumped on my desk. "Is this yours?" No. "Do you know whose it is?" No, but I'll ask New Person 1, since it has her name on it. (I used to be an analyst; I can figure these difficult things out.) I take the thing to NP1, who looks at TNB and says "Is this in my job description?" TNB goes to look in her office for said document. Meanwhile, NP1 says, "I think it's supposed to go to New Person 2." Possibly, and by this time, TNB has gotten distracted and is looking at me quizzically. Fine.

I go to NP2's office; she's not there. I come back later and show her this thing she's supposed to do. She asks "How?" OK, fine. I start explaining. She looks at me wide-eyed and says, "I don't have access to that." OK. Fine. I take it back to my office, gritting my teeth. I start checking the thing over...

I'm sure everybody in the building heard the ear-splitting roar from my office at that point. "What the...?!" This item was put together by NP1. It was one of the missing items that we were getting yelled at about. It was due in a few short hours. And it was wrong. Ever want an editor to chew your head off and spit down your neck? Hand her a proof at printer deadline of something that's not even close to correct or complete. Otherwise, don't.

The proof in question was also missing some information that my manager should have been responsible for, but didn't supply. I mentioned this to her, but somehow I ended up being the one to go online and dig it up. (Tick, tick, tick...)

So when this meeting was called to ask us how we let ourselves get so far behind without anyone knowing about it, I wanted to scream all over again. What do you say to that?

Key quotes from the meeting:
"Your workweek is obviously not just 40 hours long."
"You knew I was overloaded and didn't say anything?!"
"Why do you two feel that you're responsible for the whole publication?"

Oh, and the highlight of the morning, I thought, was my dear coworker (whom I love to pieces and who should be sainted) telling me that the PHB had called her this morning to say, "It seems that maybe you two are feeling frustrated and upset lately." No... really? What gave it away?

When the managers ask, "What can we do to help you keep this from happening again?" here's the answer I want to give:

"More carrots, fewer sticks."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The End Is Near

Well, the end of the week, technically. Sorry to sound like the doomsayer. Life really isn't that bad, although halfway through this week I almost thought it was. I'd start on these angry rants in my head, and then I'd remember: I've still got a roof over my head (at least until the mortgage check bounces). I've still got clean drinking water and even a cupboard full of food. I've still got money coming in, even though it's nowhere near enough to pay the bills. My Punkin Boy is getting over his horrible illness and has even eaten a few bites of food here and there. And The Man still has his school, even though the brain donors at Financial Aid won't accept the bank's check for tuition and are still demanding tuition payment and we're already paying on this loan for the tuition money they won't accept... I will not call names. No, I won't.

You see, even though all I have to offer the hurricane survivors are kind thoughts and sincere prayers, I know I've really got it good. Unfortunately, I sometimes need reminding of that. It shouldn't take a disaster. Maybe I'll post a note on my mirror.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Next Generation

I neglected to mention that the reason I even knew about Catherine being home was that Little Sis called me yesterday just after noon. I happened to be home to take the call because my Punkin Boy had a raging fever and miserable sore throat. That tiny little voice croaking "Mama" is about the most pathetic thing I've ever heard.

My sister's exhaustion coming over the phone lines was pretty close, though. With Baby C. only taking an ounce of formula at a time, the feedings are pretty near constant. And with her husband in school (though taking some time off work), Little Sis hardly has any time to herself. I might have said, "Welcome to motherhood"; I might have just thought it. Poor sweetie. But I'm sure she got the message, as I gave my little man a sip of awful medicine, carried him (all 31 pounds of him) protesting to his room and put him in the crib, tried to determine whether he wanted a pillow, a book, or a stuffed animal in with him ("NO!" to each), murmured soothing words, kissed him on the head, and shut the door behind me, trying not to be influenced by his hoarse, impassioned wails.

We discussed her discovery of what a pain all the doctor appointments and paperwork and so on can be with a new baby, and how crazy it is to have to deal with all that stuff on 4 hours of sleep. (Four hours! What I would have given some days to have that to look forward to!) She wonders when she'll ever have the chance to scrapbook again. (I think there'll be a period between "sleeping through the night" and "crawling everywhere" when she might have a chance. In my kids, these phases didn't overlap.) I figure she hasn't missed enough sleep yet if her question isn't "When will I ever get to shower and brush my teeth on the same day again?"

But you know what? I found myself wishing I could just leave someone else in charge at my house for a while and fly out to be with her right now. When she was the baby at our house, I spent a lot of time holding her, feeding her, changing her, rocking her, cleaning her spitup off my clothes... Now I hear her crying; I want to go to her and hold her and fix her problems and tell her everything will be OK. But we're grown up now, and I can't. We each have to take care of our own babies. But everything will be OK. Really.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Baby Catherine is officially home!

Little Sis (seen here with Baby C.) called me this afternoon. She sounded exhausted and admitted it was the case. Catey still isn't eating much at each feeding, so she needs more feedings than the average newborn. Result: no sleep for parents. I somehow felt the need to "commiserate" by recalling how little sleep I'd gotten with my babies. I mentioned that at least she can call on relatives in the area if she needs help. My poor sleepy sister just laughed. Those friends and relatives invaded her house all day yesterday and kept her from getting any sleep at all. Ah, the joys of having a newborn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tell Me Again Why I Do This

So it's approaching 11 p.m., and my husband is goofing around on the computer-- reading comics, blogging, and generally rubbernecking on the information superhighway. I'm parked on the couch banging away at my work on the laptop-- answering email, editing, checking how our latest survey is doing... I look over to see what he's up to, and he mentions that he'd like to get to sleep soon (hint, hint). Well, isn't that nice.

I stifle the inevitable surge of resentment that I always feel when I'm reminded that I have to work when other people don't and I almost never have a spare moment to even collect my thoughts, much less do anything with them. (And yes, I am taking time off from work, officially, to post this blog.) No, that doesn't bother me this time because I have the Mother Instinct and I know how to use it.

"Did you do your homework?" I ask innocently, knowing full well he blew it off.

"It's not due until Friday," he replies. We both know that he has to finish reading a certain Greek tragedy, plus a chapter each of two seriously heavy science classes. He got through the first half of the tragedy during last night's study session.

I give a heavy sigh that my sisters would recognize as belonging to our mom. "So you'll end up doing it all tomorrow night after the kids go to bed?" I ask, not at all innocently.

He fumes, sputters angrily, then picks up his backpack and retreats into the bedroom. He's still there. Probably reading comics.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why Adoption Sucks

How's that for a conversation starter? Actually, I am all for the concept of adoption-- the matching up of children whose biological parents can't or won't raise them with adoptive parents who will and can and want very much to do so. I'm even more in favor of it because my little sister and her husband (married now nearly 10 years) are unable to produce biological offspring and have been trying desperately to adopt from a local agency. Either of them would be a better parental unit than any couple I know, and that's saying a lot.

But the whole adoption process sucks.

A few years ago, they had a near miss with a baby boy. The birth mother was healthy but unmarried, uneducated, and unready for the commitment of motherhood. Her current boyfriend wasn't the child's father and didn't want to raise "some other guy's kid." Good enough: The girl selected my sweet sister and brother-in-law to raise her precious child, despite pressure from her family to keep the baby anyway. She gave birth, everything went well, the new parents drove to the hospital (a couple hundred miles away) to pick up their new sweetheart-- and the girl changed her mind. At the very last possible second, she backed out, caved in to the pressure. I could have killed her. It very nearly killed my sister.

I don't know what it takes to give up a baby you have grown inside your body for most of a year. I could never do it. But my babies were intentional; we wanted them in our family with all our hearts. They were a commitment we will honor all our lives. It would be incredibly hard to commit to give away a baby, even knowing that this would be best for all involved. It would be so hard. But I still sometimes feel violently angry at the person who broke my precious little sister's heart. I still remember when she was the sweet, beautiful baby.

Now this wonderful couple, after more years of prayers and anguish, has been selected again by a birth mother to raise a lovely baby girl. This one was determined to place her baby for adoption; being adopted herself (and only 15), she felt it was the right thing to do. Things went well again, and Baby Catherine was born last week, mainly healthy but lacking one little thing: the ability to eat. She's been fed through a tube for the past 6 days in the NICU, and her new parents were able to visit once to see her, hold her, even take pictures. (She is so beautiful!) But the birth mother has left the hospital without signing the adoption papers; she said she won't until the baby is healthy and can leave too. She's not answering her phone, and nobody seems to know where she is. But because Little Sis and her man aren't the legal parents of Baby Catherine yet, they're not allowed to be with her or even find out much about what's happening to her. And the social workers can't seem to do anything for them-- or for that sweet little baby lying helpless and hungry in the hospital.

So they wait by the phone, hoping. Praying. Crying. Praying some more. Dear God, please...

Adoption is hell.

Watch Your Language, Little Man

Punkin Boy was so angry about parental restrictions the other day that he started cussing-- toddler-style:

"Aww, man! Dang! Jeez!"

The Man and I almost managed to hide our faces from him before we burst out laughing. For a moment, I knew what it was like to parent a teenager.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

(Not Quite 101) Things About This Week

  • Everybody but me starts school on Monday.

  • My boys are insanely revved up about this.

  • I'm no longer 37-- does that mean I am old?

  • I haven't watched Monty Python in a very long time.

  • My new niece was born on the 17th-- the fourth girl in our family to have a birthday this week.

  • We are so excited about baby niece's arrival-- my sweet little sister and her husband have been waiting for eons for someone to let them adopt.

  • The last person in our office who knew anything about admin stuff is no longer working for us.

  • They offered him one of the jobs vacated by our really awesome (but now former) editorial assistants, and he laughed at what they were willing to pay.

  • He was our intern.

  • The other intern left after only a month.

  • We are so hosed.

  • Nobody in management seems to care.

  • The rest of us are on the verge of quitting, too.

  • Even if the PHB knew, she wouldn't care.

  • She might hold the door for us.

  • Did I mention that we're hosed?

  • I got diamond earrings and a couple of fat checks for my birthday.

  • My family loves me, and that's all that matters.

  • But diamond earrings are pretty darn good to have.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm Here!

OK, just so you know: I'm back from St. Louis, I had a good birthday and anniversary, my husband is awesome, my kids are mostly healthy, I'm having bloody awful migraines, and I will write again soon. Much to do, no time at all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

And you...

Purple Elephant passed this meme to me a couple weeks ago, and I'm finally getting around to posting it. I've seen it around the blogosphere before, and felt tempted to do it then, but I was waiting till a day when I was wearing the red velvet pants-- er, trousers-- that I'm so fond of. But nevermind. I'll get this over with now.

The Meme of Three
Three things you like about yourself:
My eyes
My brain
My singing voice (on occasion)

Three physical things you don't like about yourself:
My fat
My chemical imbalances
The aches and pains all over

Three things that scare you:
Dying before my husband can take over supporting the family
My children dying before I do
People who don't understand why I don't want my children to be around child molesters

Three of your everyday essentials:
My husband and kids

Three things you are wearing now:
Black pearl ring
Cat-eye glasses
Burgundy top with a flattering neckline

Three of your favorite bands or musical artists:
Duran Duran
Tom Lehrer
Joan Jett

Three things you want in a relationship:

Two truths and a lie:
I have as many children as my siblings put together.
I was pregnant four times in the first 5 years of my (current) marriage.
I like Brussels sprouts.

Three physical things that turn you on:
Dark hair
Deep, intense eyes
Slender, sensitive hands

Three of your favorite hobbies:

Three things you really want to do right now:
Write 15 pages on my novel
Be pain-free
Read all night-- something totally fluffy

Three careers you'd consider:
Literary Agent
Full-time mom

Three places you want to go on vacation:

Three things you want to do before you die:
Get The Man through college
Have a book published
Raise my boys to treat females respectfully

Three people to pass it on to:
The three people in the blogosphere who haven't done this one yet, whoever you are. Fuhzzy? Kory? Bueller??

Quotes of the Day

I love that my kids enjoy Dr. Seuss; reading those books tickles me just in the right spot: my thesaurus. Here are some favorite quotes from the stories Pirate Boy picked out for bedtime reading tonight:

"I will not, will not with a goat."

"I'll blow you," he said, "into pork and wee beans. I'll butter-side-up you to small smithereens!"

The Butter Battle Book became even funnier to me when I discovered that people in England during WWII were encouraged to eat their bread with the butter side down to help them taste the meager amount they could afford to spread on it. Well, OK, not funnier; it actually made more sense, which isn't always the point. But I see it all in a new light. And that's fun.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Comfortably Numb

I can tell the time by my pain level-- if I take the meds right. My afternoon dose of narcotic is due just in the middle of several of my weekly meetings. As you can imagine, this can be a bit awkward, especially when (as this week and last) the PHB is visiting and sitting in on everything. Today went something like this:

12:58 p.m.: I'm starting to feel a little achy in the base of my spine; I glance at the clock, grab the Percocet bottle out of my desk drawer, and take bottle & a big glass of water to my 1:00 meeting.
1:15: The pain is increasing; I check the clock & decide I'd better wait just a little longer. I try to keep my hands from fiddling with the medicine bottle, or at least keep the glass between them and the PHB. Wonder if that glance my way was at all threatening.
1:25: Pain is seriously strong now. I wish I could take my spiffy othopedic chair into meetings, but there's barely enough room for the folding/stacking monstrosities that half the attendees sit on. Consciousness is becoming more difficult to maintain; black spots appear in my peripheral vision.
1:29: I decide it's about time. I start to open the bottle very, very gently...
1:30: I've got the pill in hand. Can't hold out much longer. Curse words start forming and a scream starts in the back of my throat. I pop the pill to stifle it. Then I hold my breath and try to stay upright.
1:45: Ahhhhhh.... that's SO much better... Mmmmm... Oh, hello pain, my old friend. Still at it, I see. That's nice... Ooooh, what a nice floaty feeling... Warm. Comfy. What's that, PHB? Oh yes, that project. Mmm-hmm. I've got it covered. (If only I could form coherent sentences.) Understand? Yes? Lovely... Just lovely...
2:00 Meeting's over and I'm feeling just ducky. What? We can't stay another hour? Darn it. How 'bout a chat? Anyone?

And now:
10:30 p.m.: Heart flutters; stutters, even-- I cough to normalize my heart rhythm, but it starts again. Must be time for my anti-anxiety meds. Not to worry. At least I have them. Every 12 hours, like clockwork. And I'm done with my day's work and it's not even midnight yet. It must have been a good day.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Out Comes the Soapbox...

This was on for about 5 minutes today. I'm sure that to many people, it's a minor incident: A kidnapped girl was found alive and returned to her mother. Newsies tend to prefer the perpetually missing/horrendously killed endings to kidnapped-child stories, but they did run this one briefly.

Being a mom who's probably a little paranoid, I read this article from start to finish, and I have to tell you that by the end of it, I was sick to my stomach. It's a peeve of mine, as some of you know, the way the U.S. legal system treats child molestation as if it were a minor peccadillo instead of a horrific, brutal, selfish act that harms only the innocent. Terrorism, in short.

So why don't we treat it as seriously? The man who kidnapped the girl in this article had been convicted before of child molestation. He served one year, got out of jail, started dating a woman, then kidnapped and raped her daughter. In this country, he might get a whole 3 years for the second count. But the kidnapping, ah, that carries a life sentence. Can somebody please explain to me why torture (because that's what it is) is so much less offensive than the means taken to get someone into your hands for the purpose of torturing them? Well, as long as that person is a helpless, trusting child.

I think that the jail time for molesters ought to equal the sum total of all the therapy/recovery/general misery time their victims will have to spend (estimated, unless we can just hold them until everyone's feeling much better). At the minimum. You ruin someone's life, you get yours ruined. The guy in this article got his: he made the mistake of taking his victim to Mexico, and the U.S. authorities are leaving him there. Sure, he may only get 38 years instead of life, but it'll be in a Mexican prison. Hasta la vista, @$$#*!&.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Please Stand By...

I'd like to post something fun and sassy here tonight, but I've decided to use my creative energy to work on my novel.

(Raises a root beer in memory of her newly departed coworkers.) Here's to people who follow their dreams...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bueller? Bueller?

Hey, um, I know you guys are out there somewhere. More than 50 people have stopped by in the last week, which I kinda feel bad about because I've been sick in bed for days and haven't posted anything. So maybe that's what's going on with everyone else, too. 'Cause, um, nobody's commented in weeks. Do I have to post something controversial just to get a peep? Maybe you're all on vacation.

I'd like to say I'll post much more often now that people are stopping by, but the next couple of weeks are going to be hellaciously busy, and I just don't know what kind of time and computer access I'll have.

We'll see how that turns out. Bought my tickets to St. Louis; trying to figure out how to make my writers group meeting on the 10th before I zoom to the airport. Have many doctor appointments, school arrangements, and meetings out my ears in the next 3 weeks, plus my anniversary (7 years!) and my birthday (more than 7 years) and my babies starting school... It just gets busier from there. Life's an adventure, and I'm enjoying the ride.

Kid Quotes: Baby Babble #2

I love that my Punkin Boy is so verbal. He's picked up his daddy's habit of quoting from movies and books, and has even developed the ability to improvise to fit the situation. Example: Today at lunch, he took a look at his peanut-butter sandwich, poked it experimentally, then exclaimed:

"Honey! Honey? Let's not be so silly... Now lemon, that's different."

Anybody catch that quote? He's never even seen the "Alice in Wonderland" cartoon. But he does a good impression of the Mad Hatter nonetheless.

Friday, July 22, 2005

And Now, the Status Report...

I probably committed a terrible breach of netiquette with my last post. Go ahead and tell me I'm a jerk; I'll probably just laugh like a cheap drunk. 'Cause I probably haven't mentioned it lately, but I'm still on heavy drugs.

Yep, I am. Ibuprofen: 800 mg, 3 times a day. Percocet, 5-10 mg, every 5-6 hours. I try not to use the higher doses more than necessary. I've seen Rush Limbaugh. (Ever notice that his name ends in "ugh"? For good reason.)

I'm also still in heavy pain. But fortunately, my manager and the HR director were able to get me a comfy new orthopedic task chair (available by prescription--who knew?), so now I don't hurt nearly as much as I used to after sitting for 6 hours. (Oh, my achy-breaky back!)

#1 Son is gone to "Mommy's" for the last half of summer, and we're trying not to worry too much. I hope she doesn't leave him with child molesters again, but you just never know. So far, the plan is for her to bring him back the day before he starts at a totally new school. Does this strike anyone as reasonable? Well, we wouldn't want her to have to take a day off work for him. That would be inconvenient. What a stinker.

Pirate Boy is geared up and SO ready for kindergarten. Punkin Boy has no idea what's about to hit him: daycare is a foreign concept to him, and I don't think he's gonna like it. We're looking around for decent places, but this town is a bit short on useful items like safe and affordable childcare. OK, forget the affordable. Just 4 days a week for him & 4 before-kindergarten days for his brother are going to run us something like $1200 a month. How do people manage to afford daycare AND food? After a while, I bet eating the children starts to sound reasonable...

OK, going back to the subject of foreign concepts, take a minute to read this beauty of a rant from Kory O. Lovely, darling.

And now I'm off. Y'all come back, now, ya hear?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I'm Watching You

You might have noticed that I got a spiffy new visit-counter over there in the sidebar. Nearly 40 people have stopped by in the last week, which would be cause for suicide among the "real" bloggers (not mentioning any names and not that I'd call them self-aggrandizing megalomaniacs, 'cause I'm just jealous). But it's actually better than I thought, so I'm doing the little happy dance and blogging more often. Maybe that's how the mega-maniacs got that way. I don't know. Will keep you posted. Watch this space.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On the Road

OK, I may be insane, but it's official (unless the PHB finds out and decides to sabotage our year's budget by cancelling): I'm going to St. Louis in August. On the 10th and 11th, specifically. Anyone who lives in the area and feels like dropping by for a chat, or dinner, or lunch, or whatever, drop me a line and I'll tell you where and when.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I got my piano cover back! I was getting worried; Punkin Baby ripped several keys off this weekend, and I almost couldn't get them back on. The cover is still marred, but fortunately, it's in a spot that doesn't show-- unless you have it down over the keys. Sigh. But that's just typical for this shop. Never, ever buy a piano from a guy who talks like Wolfman Jack.

Friday, July 15, 2005


OK, I've changed my mind: I can live without the frilled lizard. (I mean, where would I keep it?) I want one of these for my birthday! To see a close-up of the graph on the back of the shirt, read this open letter to the Kansas School Board. My husband and I laughed till the tears streamed down our faces. OK, it happens a lot when we deal with people who confuse public education with religious instruction. But this one's intentionally funny.

Go. Go now. Read the letter. Browse the merchandise. Bust a gut. Hee.

Monday, July 11, 2005

In the Mood for Another Meme

All righty, people. Just for a change of pace, here's something the cat dragged in: What book am I?

You're The Handmaid's Tale!

by Margaret Atwood

An outraged feminist, you have been oppressed and even silenced in your life, fueling your fury against the society as it stands. Your role has been strictly defined by society and you are almost certainly unsatisfied with it. You have some vague idea of how this has come to be, but insufficient power to stop it, let alone reverse the trend. And somehow you blame yourself for everything because people ask you to. Beware people renaming your nation a Republic.

Take the Book Quiz
at the
Blue Pyramid.

Surprise, surprise. Here's another good one: My husband is Lolita. Oy.

Friday, July 08, 2005

We Can Be Heroes

Huzzah! Hoist the mizzen, Mister Cavendish! Our little men at bedtime.

Me putting Pirate Boy to bed tonight: "That's right: no swords in bed... oops, found some treasure; please put it away in the treasure chest... OK, hats off now..." And so on. I love being a pirate mama.

I Am NOT a Redneck, My Neighbors Are

I never realized how much our cul-de-sac looks like a used-car graveyard until I got this picture of Pirate Boy developed. And the next-door neighbor's Camaro isn't even home. But at least they've put the wheels back on their pickup.

-- Just sign me "High-class dame trapped in low-class neighborhood"

More Birthday Fun

Pirates capture the king and queen, and my punkin plays dragon.

The Man, of course, is my knight in shining armor.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Punkin Pictures

As promised, here are a couple of photos of Punkin Baby's birthday a whole, what, 6 or 7 weeks ago? Here's our bouncing baby boy-- now a big boy of 2:

So energetic, this boy. I still don't know why this balloon didn't pop one of the many times he flung his whole 30 pounds onto it with all the force his massive muscles could muster.

He really seemed to understand the whole "birthday" concept this year. And he was so cute about everything. "So much birthday goodness... where do I start?"

No shameless plugs or product placement was involved in the making of this photo. Honest.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Baby Babble: Quote of the Day #2

Punkin Boy is quite a talker. Yesterday he was reciting "Green Eggs and Ham" to himself; today it was "Labyrinth" quotes. But my favorite baby babble (which is a totally unfair appellation, since he's a quite coherent 2-year-old and not really a baby) happened recently during a conversation he had with The Man...

TM: Punkin Boy, stop jumping on the bed.
PB: But Daddy, I'm a monkey!

We oughta be more careful about our pet names.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Quote of the Day

In all my birthday postings, I didn't mention the funniest thing that happened that day. I was in my room, so I only heard it; the boys were playing with something in the living room. The item in question was certainly something belonging to Pirate Boy, something special for his day, but #1 Son was barging in and taking over in that "I'm twice your age and twice your size/a 300-pound gorilla sleeps where he wants" way. Pirate Boy stopped and said in his hands-on-hips/ever-so-exasperated voice, "No, [big brother's name], it's my birthday-- I'm the main character. You're the sidekick."

Yeah. Bravo, little man.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pirate Boy Turns 5

A series of random photo postings from my little buccaneer's birthday...

Look! I'm a bunch of grapes!

Guess what Pirate Boy's favorite color is?

The best thing about the day, I think, was seeing my big 5-year-old ride a bike.

My boy so rocks. Coming soon: pictures of Punkin Baby's big day.

Treasure Island

Pirate Boy gives his birthday cake a good review. He'll divide the plunder later...

I tried and tried to get him to change this shirt for pictures, but to no avail. Sigh. I guess pirates are supposed to look scruffy.

Here's a better shot of the whole cake:

And it was tasty, too. Mmmm... triple chocolate pirate ship....

We've Got the Guts

In case you've ever wondered what the inside of a piano looks like...

Ours had a faulty keyboard cover, so Wolfman Jack took it away, promising it would be repaired in a couple days. That was 3 weeks ago. This is still what our piano looks like. Well, it plays OK anyway, and nobody's stuffed a peanut-butter sandwich into the works. Though the mysterious disappearance of Darth Vader is still unexplained...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Who Gives These People Kids??

#1 Son came home from a weekend visit to "Mommy's" this afternoon, 3 hours late and covered in bruises. When we ask how he got hurt, he says evasively, "I dunno." Sulks and complains of stomach ache. Plays rough with his little brothers.

Now, if it was the other way 'round, and he showed up at her house like that, we'd have had cops on our doorstep before we had time to blink. But we're not like that. We don't assume that people are doing evil things all the time... well, maybe we do. But we didn't do that anyway. No, we simply email and ask if she has any idea what could possibly have happened. No hysterics, no paramedics... no answers.

Sometimes I hate being the sane one.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Who Are We, Anyway?

Did anyone else see this? Thursday, was reporting that women and minorities are underrepresented in the U.S. technology industry. I'm not so sure that part was news. However, the article did contain some fascinating items.

This part was incredibly disturbing to me:

Women made up 32 percent of the tech work force in 2004, a drop from 41 percent at its peak in 1996. That's largely because of the shrinking number of administrative jobs in the tech industry, the Arlington, Virginia-based Information Technology Association of America said. [Boldface added.]
Let me be perfectly clear on this: Are we saying that women in tech jobs aren't really technical, they're administrative? So we have fewer women in IT because we've fired all the secretaries? Am I overreacting? 'Cause my pointy stiletto shoes are gettin' all fidgety over here.

Another bizarre observation by this group: "white" was one of the underrepresented racial groups cited. OK, so if Blacks, Hispanics, and Caucasians are all minorities in IT... who's left? Well.. the study mentions that Asians are overrepresented by a couple hundred percent. OK, so everybody trade in your stereotype of the round, bearded European-looking IT guy. I'm watching you!

But do we even care who does the job, as long as somebody does it? I'm kind of torn on this one. I do not want anybody competent shut out because of superficial physical characteristics. And I certainly don't want anybody incompetent running my servers and having access to my data. But beyond that, I don't much notice the demographics.

I'm pretty sure that people from India are counted under "Asian," but where does "middle eastern" fit into this survey? No, I'm not being paranoid. I'm just wondering, 'cause when I was in college, our engineering department (huge) was full of Saudi students. (Male, of course. Duh.) I imagine plenty of them are employed in this country now. But I never see that demographic listed on the questionnaires. If they're also "Asian," I can better understand the disparity.

Anybody know the answers?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Green Eggs and Grandma

We're anxiously awaiting the arrival of my parents for the July 4th weekend. Less than 2 weeks! Hooray!

This is my mom reading to the littlest boys last time she was here. I hope I age half as gracefully as she has. But if not, I hope I'm around to read to my grandchildren, if only once.

Three of a Kind

Aha! I have beaten Picasa into submission. Behold! My three sons:

For a while there, #1 Son (far right, of course) was doing the exercise thing for Cub Scouts. The other boys, being younger brothers and all into that hero-worship stuff, joined in every chance they got. It's awesome to see a toddler with a huge athletic repertoire.

This picture was taken several months ago. Just this afternoon, Punkin Baby was doing backflips off the couch; he only bobbled one landing. All that with a bad headcold! Need to find him some baby gymnastics classes... to teach! Heh.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Days of Our Lives

I've had a post in the works for a week now about my Pirate Boy's 5th birthday. It was a tremendously fun and exciting day for everyone. Donuts for breakfast, balloons to play with all over the house (green, his favorite color), decorating the cake. Now the cake gave me a little difficulty: How do you make a pirate ship out of a boxed cake mix? I had this idea to bake a circle and a square layer, then use half the circle as the hull of the boat and the square as the sail. The folly of this course became clear when I actually got out the cake pans and compared them. No, that sail would clearly topple any kind of mast I gave it, and probably sink the boat in the process. What to do, what to do...

I had sent The Man out to the store to buy LEGO pirates to man the ship and was pondering my problem (OK, I was probably reading Agatha Christie), when Aha! an idea struck me: Use the pizza pan! We have this lovely ceramic deep-dish pizza pan of just the right size to make the hull of a ship that could carry an 8-inch square sail. Then hubby came home with a treasure-trove of pirate goodies, including a Blackbeard figurine (complete with working cannon) and a bundle of gold(ish) dubloons. I was on the case. At the last minute, Pirate Boy decided he didn't want a pirate cake after all, but I told him he'd get one and like it-- and he did. (I'll post pictures later; we have to do ours the old-fashioned way: with film.) He spent the rest of the morning "dividing the plunder" with his crew (us). Totally cute and sweet. Arrrrghh.

We had him open presents at lunchtime; he got some cool stuff, but his favorite was... OK, after the money, his favorite was the LEGO Darth Vader TIE fighter. We were hoping he'd fall in love with the shiny new bike we got him instead, but there's really no competition with that blinking red lightsaber. Punkin Baby can do the voice, too. Kinda scary.

Things kind of calmed down when Punkin Boy went down for his nap. The bigger boys (dad included) scampered off to the basement, where a playroom is taking shape. While #1 Son sulked and acted bored, Pirate Boy decided to help his daddy put together the futon frame. The big, heavy oak futon frame. Which he proceeded to lift, then drop onto his poor sweet little foot. His daddy carried him upstairs so that Pirate Mama could kiss the injured tootsie. I held some ice to it, checked for breakage, and cooed to him soothingly, and within minutes, he was running off playing again. No serious damage done, apparently, though I don't know why.

In another hour or so, he was up again and off bike riding while we filled the pool. Again, I took pictures and will post eventually. The water was a bit cold for the boys, but they enjoyed splashing each other and waving the hose around while giggling hysterically. Don't ask me. In the middle of a stormy week, we had sunshine and warm weather-- right up till dinnertime. Perfect. On the menu: meatless lasagna for my veggie boy.

During the afternoon, the bike sat in our living room. A shiny gold-and-blue confection, its sleek lines reminded me of the fierce yet sporty 3-wheeler (what are they now that they aren't Big Wheels?) we gave him for his third birthday, and a pang hit me straight in the heart. My sweet, wonderful, and in all ways awesome friend Sheri had given her boy an identical 3-wheeler for his birthday that year, too. One of our very last conversations before she died was about that trike. Our boys were exactly as far apart in age as she and I were; without even knowing it, we did many of the same things during the years we'd been apart.

I found myself weeping over that beautiful new bike in my living room-- weeping for the mama who will miss her boy's fifth birthday, who even missed her daughter's first one. For all the things my wonderful friend will miss, I cried. For everything I miss about her, I cried hardest. Today is her birthday. I miss you, Sheri. I love you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The New Ed Wood

So, my darling husband and I got to go on a date today, for the first time in several months, and what did we do? Did we find a secluded booth in an intimate little Italian restaurant and stare dreamily into each other's eyes? 'Tis to laugh. No, we didn't even try sneaking into the early Batman show. We (having apparently missed the demise of the bandwagon) went to see "Revenge of the Sith."

Is it just in our town, or is it a widespread phenomenon, that this movie blasted into the theaters with 10 showings a day on each of 4 screens? How long ago was that, a month? Today, there are about 4 showings, on one screen. We were among fewer than a dozen people in the theater. After about the first 10 minutes, I didn't even notice that the noise of the spaceships and lasers and droids whistling was making my head pound. I was laughing too hard.

This has got to be the "Plan 9 from Outer Space" of its generation. George Lucas has a budget, is all. Take away the gorgeous planetary vistas and the computer-simulated space battles... no, don't. Better yet, watch this movie with the sound turned off. The dialogue isn't funny enough to be worth listening to. You'll still snort when Anakin rolls his eyes back in his head in what I guess was supposed to be a sinister glare at... nobody. What the heck was he doing? And where is the MST3K crew?

I admit I grimaced and looked away when it was time for him to massacre the kids. (You read about that in the CNN article, too, didn't you?) But even that scene had very little emotional impact because you hadn't seen the kids before in this movie. Instead of adding just a little previous contact and relationship exposition to make that act more horrifying, George Lucas decided to do things like call back to Episode IV's melodramatic sunset scene. What. Ever.

I'm not a Republican, but the insulting political comparisons got nauseating pretty quickly. "Only a Sith" indeed. And before anyone says, "Well, you're an editor, of course the lousy writing would bother you," I'll mention that once I realized how atrocious the dialogue was, I turned off my "editor's ear" (as much as I could). I wasn't anxious for any more torture than necessary. There was plenty to go around. The robot medic was more expressive and emotive than most of the live actors. So was computer-generated Yoda. (I still like Ewan McGregor, and Jimmy Smitz did a good job. Oh yes, and so did the Emperor--Ian McDermid, right?)

I have to say this, though: For my birthday, I want a giant frilled lizard that can climb cliffs and will come when I whistle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow...

My new "boss" starts work at our office tomorrow. I don't even know what to call her, but I'm sure "boss" will do. Except that now I'll have at least 3 bosses to report to constantly, a situation that can only lead to trouble. For purposes of this blog, I'll call her boss to distinguish her (slightly) from my manager and the PHB (slogan: "I can see your house from here").

Case in point: My new intern starts tomorrow, too. It was a parting commission from my previous boss before she left: Hire a summer intern for our team. Well, I did it, and got a really great one, too. (It's kind of embarrassing to hire someone more talented and educated than yourself to be an intern, but what the heck; I got here first.) I was really proud of myself. But I didn't bring the high-muckety-muck boss of the division into the process (how should I know she wanted to interview a summer intern?), so she (PHB) called me on the carpet for it in front of ALL my colleagues in a meeting this afternoon. There's professionalism for you.

And now the PHB is stealing my intern-- that is, my team's intern. Because now that we're all "one big happy fleet," we share all our resources, right? Um-hmmm. And I'm sure that the other team's intern was helping us out all this time, too. I mean, didn't we know his time was ours to allocate? No. We have separate line items, separate budgets, even, and this intern comes out of our team's budget and we should have first dibs. (Help, help, I'm being assimilated!)

But what do I know? It's just my bad attitude talking. I admit I am a little cranky this evening, even aside from the pain and the hormones. I'd planned on having a date with my husband today-- the first one in several months-- but it fell through. Trying again tomorrow; it's our last chance for a while. Of course, my "tomorrow" is completely booked with meetings and training and mentoring and so on, but I'm going to make this date if it kills me. At least I'm better off than the new boss-- PHB has taken it upon herself to schedule every hour of the next 3 days for the poor woman. Can you say "micromanagement"? I knew you could.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Still alive...

I've officially made it to my Pirate Boy's 5th birthday. Hooray! And we've got the "big" boys into a Core Knowledge school for the fall. OK, it's an "inner city" school, but we're not much of a city, and it's nicer than the neighborhood we live in, so we're giving it a shot. Still need to get Punkin Boy (the toddler with the 12th-grade vocabulary) a "school" of his own. And somehow come up with the money for full-time daycare... second mortgage or education loan, hmmm...

Anyway, everyone's very excited about the upcoming day's festivities. Should be incredibly fun. But first, to sleep, perchance to dream...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Stress Really Is Killing Me

So, what did I do this weekend? I died. Not completely; let's call it "only mostly dead." It started with an unusually bad case of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) that woke me at about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, not long after I'd fallen asleep. Even a mild case is pretty alarming, with the heart rate suddenly elevating for no reason until it feels as if you've been exercising for half an hour. I got those every day during the early part of my last pregnancy (hence, only 3 children), but I managed to keep them controlled by getting a few hours of rest in the afternoons. (Yes, PHB, I did manage to keep working full-time and being quite productive the whole time. Nyeah.)

But this weekend, it was different. This attack was more like the kind I got when carrying Pirate Boy-- just the one, but that was enough for a lifetime. I hoped. That time, I was 7 months pregnant, our new house was almost finished, and my husband had just gotten fired from his job. I was a complete basket case and totally blamed the stress for short-circuiting my heart, although the cardiologist never bought that explanation. This time, I was sure.

At first, I tried just to wait it out, but I had to go to the bathroom, so I tried to get up... and failed. I made it to sitting, then sank back down to the pillow, thinking furiously. Middle of the night, passel of sleeping kids, tightness in chest, nearing a very ugly loss of consciousness... what to do, what to do...

At last, I poked my darling husband, who was doing his best impression of a comatose crocodile. "Honey? I've got a problem... it's my heart." Words that nightmares are made of, I'm sure. As I struggled for breath and lucidity, I croaked out instructions to my boggled and drowsy sweetheart. "Need to go to the hospital. Call Ana to take the kids..." He stumbled around and finally located the phone and phone book. By this time, it was clear to me that this wouldn't cut it. "Just call 911, sweetheart. I'm not going to make it."

Cue husbandly panic. He managed to punch in the numbers and recite our address and phone number and stutter out that something was wrong with his wife's heart. The operator quizzed him some more, while I helped as much as I could with answers. Afterward, he managed to call some dear friends of ours, whose feet we will kiss every day from now till forever for responding so lovingly at 2-freaking-thirty in the morning to our plea for help. They all got out of bed and were at our door within a minute or two after the paramedics arrived.

Ah yes, the paramedics. I had just been working on my novel that evening and had realized that I could use more realism in the chapter relating to a visit from a paramedic team. Well, hallelujah, I got what I needed. Call me blessed. (Dear God, isn't there a better way to do research for this blasted thing?) Ah well, it's not every woman who ends up with half a dozen men swarming over her bed in the middle of the night. Must keep one's sense of humor...

...because what the paramedics did to treat me that night (after determining that the self-help methods really were ineffective, as I claimed) was the same as they'd done the first time: namely, to stop my heart. Can I repeat that? 'Cause it's one of those mind-blowing, wish-it-was-once-in-a-lifetime experiences. They

Meanwhile the cardio monitor was beeping away, which was a whole new experience in terror. One minute, it's going like a telegraph: beepity beepity beepity beepity, 210 bpm. The next minute, it slows to normal: beep... beep... beep... And finally, as that "cold lead slab" feeling creeps over you, stills to nothingness: beep.............. beep.........................
beep.............................................................. (no beep, no pulse, no warmth, no light)................. And back again: beep...beep...beep... The lights come up and you can breathe again.

(Strangely enough, it's
this stuff that does the trick; it's even safe to use on extremely pregnant women, although I do not recommend it. Also strangely, my cardiologist doesn't find my SVTs to be a cause for alarm; just "one of those things." Yes, well, Doc, you can have this "thing"; it's more than just an inconvenience.)

Once normality was restored, the medics carried me out on a gurney, smashing my bedroom doorframe on the way out. They hauled me off in an ambulance, hubby close behind, leaving the kids in the capable care of our friends' teenage daughter. The ER doc looked me over, did some tests, and scratched his head. Usually, you need to have some kind of health-related vice (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc.) to trigger this kind of reaction, but I turned out to be depressingly boring in that regard. My theory is that it's hormone-related (no, I am NOT pregnant again) and triggered by an abundance of stress. Doc seemed to buy it. Now if I could just get that in writing for the boss...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Does It Bug You When I Do This?

After the huge job fiasco a couple weeks ago, I took a day or two to think about things, then asked my manager (a slightly senior peer) if she'd sit down with me and discuss where I could go from here, what the career path for any of us might be, etc. Totally non-confrontational. We made an appointment for the Thursday after Memorial Day, and I went about my business. I've been working from home part of the time lately, since my back's still hurting, so I was blithely checking my email from my kitchen table late Wednesday morning when I got a meeting request from her. It was for noon that day and it involved the PH Boss AND the HR director. At this point, I started checking for flights to Aruba...

To make matters worse, The Man was out with the car and I had no idea when he'd be back. I'd told him I planned to go in to the office after lunch, but that might be too late. He was trying to clear out our storage unit of the last few items, so the kids were hanging around the house-- I couldn't just call a cab (which, knowing the cabs around here, might have come too late anyway). So I explained my situation and told my manager that I'd be there on time if at all possible. Next thing I know, there's this email with bright-red exclamation points: "You need to be here! Do whatever it takes!!" OK, OK, fine.

By this time, I was getting pretty anxious. I had no appetite even if I'd had time to eat lunch. Fortunately, The Man got home in time, and we all piled into the car and rushed me to the office with a few minutes to spare. I even took the opportunity to finish up some work before going to the meeting. My manager had told me that the PHB wanted to explain why I didn't get the job and I have to admit that I joked, "You know, I can accept the rejection. It's OK if we skip the 'Why I suck' talk."

Well, apparently it wasn't, and that comment only made things worse. Because joking about work is verboten although nobody ever said. I've heard of places where they yell at you for posting Dilbert cartoons on your door, but I'd never seriously thought I worked for one. Until that day. I mustn't point out to anyone else that a national study shows that we are all underpaid; that is "each person's responsibility to find out for themselves," according to PHB. I mustn't imply that the boss's demands for us to do more work are pushing us too hard-- or even me personally. Oh yes, and I mustn't make faces or roll my eyes in meetings. (This comic appeared the day after this conversation; no kidding.) It was bad of me to be honest in my interview, too, and bad of me to work from home, despite the fact that it's been a condition of my employment since I started here. I only do it because I'm too cheap to get childcare, she says. I did point out that Hubby Dearest IS my childcare, and he's on duty 24/7, but the truth is no defense. Oh, and I'm getting demoted for certain.

The next day I found myself interviewing a woman for the position I didn't get. She knows very little about anything we do or anything our customers do, but she's got an MBA and an assertive personality. (Again, see the 6/2 Dilbert cartoon.) Fortunately, I can be a graceful loser, and I think she'll do a fine job. The bosses keep asking me how I feel about her being hired; I don't think they believe me when I say, "I'm thrilled! She's great!" What I'm thinking is, "She has a better chance than anyone of seeing through the PHB and telling her where to get off." Not that she necessarily will, of course, but she might someday.

Meanwhile, enjoy this little ditty penned by my delightful husband himself in honor of my disastrous career situation. It cheers me right up.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Retail Therapy

I have a common ailment: when I'm cranky or depressed, I go shopping. When I'm having a down day-- or more likely, week-- there's nothing like a new blouse or pair of shoes to cheer me up and give me that fresh outlook on life. It's true that lately I haven't felt able to indulge in my favorite type of therapy (or any other type), so it's not surprising that my irritability has been worse than usual. Building. Growing out of control, in fact. It's doubly depressing to be both depressed and unable to afford an antidote.

Let's just say that I lost my head this week. I was feeling confident, pumped up, and on top of the world a couple weeks ago. I was so gung-ho about my job and developing my career, I couldn't wait to get out of the gate. Then there was the whole "you're not ready for prime-time" chat, with its revelations that failure is inevitable. I fell flat on my face and haven't managed to get up yet. I've lost interest in my job again, and I just can't afford to do that. Somehow I've got to manage to fake it, especially for the next little while until my "troublemaker" brand fades a bit. But I can't seem to pull out of it.

I've been good for so long, not even replacing the packet of jewelry that got stolen in Vegas last fall. (Now that my foot is mangled and my body's lost its proper shape, jewelry was all I had left.) I've been so good, denying myself at every turn. But this weekend, I decided I'd had it. My boys run around singing Broadway show tunes and "Puttin' on the Ritz" all day. They're so talented and so interested. And besides, dammit, I wanted a piano!

So I bought one. Ahhhh... that feels better.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dooce or Be Dooced

Tell you what, I'm taking a risk here, but I don't care. I have a couple of things I want to get off my chest about my recent experiences with our management, and if they want to fire me, I'll have my lawyers call them (or possibly eat them) for lunch.

Here are some things that are bugging me this week:
  1. That our large group now has only one boss (let's call her PHB) running the show; she's way up in the stratosphere, everyone else is on a relatively equal level
  2. That she's running it from halfway across the country and consequently knows nothing about what any of us peons do from day to day
  3. That PHB thinks she knows better than the people who do work with me what I'm capable of
  4. PHB asked me my greatest fear and then saw to it that that fear was fulfilled (maybe we should call her Dr. Lecter)
  5. PHB can change our job descriptions at the drop of a hat, then see to it that we get demoted if we don't measure up (this is insider information as a warning to any of my coworkers who might read my blog: Look OUT!)
  6. Demotion might not mean anything anyway, since our titles are now meaningless-- not to mention useless on a resume. Catch-22.
  7. With apologies to Monty Python, this whole "every serf is equal" idea is just bogus; it's a pain for the junior worker bees who now have to run to catch up, and now that my job means nothing more than anyone else's, I feel like I've lost the past 6 years of experience and any appreciation therefor.
  8. That the job I got passed over for doesn't involve as much responsibility, work, and, well, pains in the behind as the job I have now. Yet, "they" (PHB and her devoted henchwoman) claim I'm "not ready" to do that level of job. Did I mention "What.Ever."? See #3.
  9. The current workload for all of us "equal peons" (see also: communism) is impossible to accomplish effectively, so failure is inevitable.
  10. PHB takes our concerns about the impossible workload as a complete unwillingness to work at all and tells us to stop being such slackers.
  11. In one meeting last week, PHB asked what the difference is between client-side and server-side programming. It worries me that she's the one in charge.
  12. When she was in town last week, she showed up just as a lunch meeting was ending, asked why we haven't written ourselves up for awards, then spent the next several minutes berating us for having low self-esteem. We laughed so hard we cried and pounded the table. The fact that she was serious just made it funnier. In a tragic way. AND she used this as an example of how we're always trying to get out of doing more work.
  14. The staff is leaving the sinking ship, and she doesn't seem to care.
  15. [Updated: My newly resigned boss is a total rock-star of this particular world, but as soon as she's out of the building, the PHB and company are dissing her for... are you ready? Not saying "No" to new work often enough!]

The thing I hated the most about my former "um, friend" Richard was his telling me in all seriousness, "You're special... and so's everyone else." This situation reminds me so much of that one, I feel twice as angry as I might have otherwise.

And just on an "Isn't that cute?" note, one of my coworkers (who is, yes, quitting any minute now) used the phrase "stab PHB in the eye" so many times last week that I lost count.

I just want to be the first to say,

"The Empress has no clothes!"

Go ahead: Dooce me, baby.