Saturday, August 02, 2014

Movie night, tween style

As I type, my tween (!) Bean is downstairs hosting her BFFs for a Hunger Games movie "marathon" (there are only two of the films, but at almost 2.5 hours each, watching them both constitutes a marathon) and sleepover. I've been popping down there to check it out from time to time.

Have you ever tried to watch a movie with a room full of 12 year-old girls who've mostly seen it before? They talk. Constantly. Mia knows the movies by heart and loves them, and is quoting every line, about a half second before the line is said. Audrey doesn't like scary parts, creepy parts, or tense parts (did I mention these are thrillers set in a dystopian future?), and is watching through her fingers, asking if every scene is over yet. Olivia talks all the time under any circumstances, so she's talking, all the time. And my quiet, steady Bean is just laughing her goofy laugh and loving all of it. They are awesome.

They have also consumed about a half pound of M&Ms, each. So yeah, I get Mom of the Year.

Mr. Sandyshoes is down there with them, maybe on account of the M&Ms. I can hear him asking the girls, "wait, who just got killed?" from time to time. They are patient with him and explain everything, which makes me smile. When he asks questions while watching a movie with my brother and me, we always admonish him in exasperated unison: "JUST WATCH!" (He asks a lot of questions. Sometimes we have to pause the movie.)

Where's the Peanut? Glad you asked. She would not like this movie at all (it's not set in space, it's not a comedy and/or about sports, and nobody has superpowers -- so, three strikes). Fortunately she's pals with Audrey's younger brother Colin, so our families swapped daughters for the night and the Peanut's sleeping at their house. She and Col are going into 5th grade, so, I suppose, are running out of time for innocent Lego-and-Star-Wars-focused sleepovers. It didn't occur to either of them that there's anything odd about it, but they both know not to mention it to their friend Kyle. Kyle was over at Audrey and Colin's house one day earlier this summer when the Peanut went over. He hadn't expected to see her there, and reportedly blushed, went quiet, and couldn't finish his lunch in her presence. Yikes.

We're having a great summer... when bedtime matters not, and friends can just stay over. Hope you are enjoying yours too!


Saturday, June 07, 2014

Just lucky, I guess.

So I've been writing professionally, a little bit.

A very little bit. Nothing Mr. Sandyshoes can quit his day job over. But it's a start.

And what do people say, when they ask what I do for work, and I tell them that I write? An astonishing number say something like "hey, how do I get hooked up with a gig like that? Because I could write, too."

Am I alone in finding this to be pretty rude? Actually, the rudest thing someone said was "oh wow, that sounds sooo boring!" I don't know what that person does professionally, if anything. I'm going to assume she's a glider pilot, or a spy, or something.

Some of these people probably can write. Most of them probably can't. I don't know and don't care. I'm just a bit amused at having dipped my little toe into a profession, felt some pride at having my work pretty well-received, and now finding that all of a sudden everyone I talk to could do it just as well as I can, if only they had the time/inclination/connections.

I suspect writers hear this sort of thing a lot.

Here's what I don't say, in response:
"Well geez, how do I get hooked up with a gig like yours? Because I could sell houses/run toddler playgroups/manage an office, too."

What I do say:
"Oh, just lucky, I guess."

(Couldn't be, y'know, working at it. That's crazy talk.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Back on it

Well, the new school year is fully underway, and all the things that resume in September have resumed. Soccer, band, homework; packing lunches, packing backpacks, packing it in too late and getting up too early. I'm piecing a schedule together though and even regular sleep should resume before long. Unconstrained over the summer, I got into a 1:00 AM - 9:00 AM pattern that Has. To. Stop.

And it shall. Just as soon as I finish this blog post.

One of the activities I've resumed this year, though I arguably have less time for it than ever, is volunteering in the school library. We volunteers check books in and out, reshelve the ones that come back, and help the kiddos find what they're looking for.

This week I was there for a class of kindergarteners. It was their first week in their new school, and their first day in the library. They were awesome. They chose books and lined up. I readied the bar code scanner to check out their books, and we got going. "Hello, it's nice to see you!" I'd say. "Can you tell me your last name please?"

Well, no, actually, several couldn't. But they all told me their middle names in case that would help.

The kids with older siblings at school already are much more confident, as you'd expect. They march right up to the desk. "I'm Emily. You probably know my brother, Scott?" Hee! No, I don't. But I'm glad to know you, Emily.

One boy told me his name was Isaac, and I checked his books out. Then he showed up again with different books and said he was named Caleb. I was so confused, and a bit frustrated, because he insisted his name was Caleb even though he had moments ago told me it was Isaac. You see where this is going, even though I didn't: Identical twins, with identical haircuts, dressed identically. I had to apologize to Caleb when I figured out there really was an Isaac. Neither of them had mentioned a brother! And I thought, um, parents? Identical twins in the same class and you give them identical haircuts and dress them identically in the first week of school? That is some sense of humor at work there. But it worked out. I will figure out a clue, or their teacher will give me a hint, how to distinguish them. Or I'll guess, and be right half the time.

My favorite kid so far is the little girl who strode up to the desk with a pile of dinosaur books in her arms. She plopped them down. "Phew! Hi! I'm Shannon! I'm going to be a paleontologist when I grow up!" A little voice chimed in from the back of the line: "She knows all about dinosaurs already. She's going to be a great paleontologist." Excellent. Some of my favorite people are paleontologists, and it makes me happy to see newly self-declared ones.

So I am reminded that I love volunteering in the library, even though I don't have time for it.

Now if I could only fix my bedtime problem...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What a difference a year+ makes, right?

Actually not so much. Life continues to be really good, thankfully.

The Bean just turned 11. She got a new bicycle, and pre-ordered the next Rick Riordan book. It comes out on October 8; she'll have read it a half dozen times by Halloween.

The Peanut, earlier this month, realized that 1) it is, in fact, August, and 2) September is next. She did a little fist pump/victory dance thing in the kitchen. That is how psyched she is to start fourth grade.

This morning, I asked them to finish up their "Dig Into Reading" logs for the public library so that I could turn them in for them when I went down there later. (The logs are due today, if you want to participate in the ice cream social/puppet show event that marks the end of the summer reading program). The Bean handed me a log with attachments, saying that she only wrote down books that she actually liked or would recommend. She is a reading machine.

The Peanut has been reading a lot, as well. They are both enthusiastic readers. It's the accounting for it that trips the Peanut up, a bit. She doesn't like to have to keep track of these things. Tell her to read a book, and she's happily absorbed for hours. Tell her to write down what she read and for how long, and she can't find a piece of paper, or didn't look at the clock, or doesn't remember the author. You see how it goes. Anyway she sat at the kitchen table, pencil in hand, trying to come up with a list of things read that's respectable enough to turn in to the library.

She wanted to know if the subtitles from the part of that X-Men movie* where the evil guy is in Russia might count as summer reading? "Probably not, but I did read them, Mommy."

Can't argue that.

Evidently our vacation has been more cinematic than literary. We watched all the X-Men movies. And for the record, there are also subtitles in part of Star Wars.**

She also wrote down that every week she reads all the police reports in the local newspaper. Our recent favorite is one in which a man walked into the police station early on a Saturday morning to report that someone had stolen his pants the night before. Said pants were later discovered in the bathroom of the man's house.

It's cool, living in a town where so much of the crime is imaginary. It's also frequently the best part of the newspaper.

So that's been our summer. We've swum at the lake, played with friends, done Camp Invention and archery camp and summer basketball and generally whatever else we felt like doing.

Mr. Sandy has been working flat-out on a very exciting scientific proposal. He surfaces for meals, and to oversee plumbers and such. Someday, our addition will be done. Someday.

Me? I tried stand-up paddle-boarding for the first time, which was really fun. I sprained my ankle playing backyard badminton, which was really not. I've been writing professionally a wee bit, which is excellent. I need a new computer, which is not. All is well, on balance.

Still a few weeks' worth of fun to fit in before school starts. I wonder if there are any subtitles in the Batman movies?


*X-Men: First Class
** It's the part where Greedo the bounty hunter finds Solo in the cantina in Mos Eisley. But you knew that, right?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The words that don't fail say this:

A friend's husband died unexpectedly this week. Dave was 46, very fit, ate a vegan diet. He was a beloved father, husband, and friend. He coached Little League baseball and little girls' basketball. He was a handsome man of energy and good humor.

He and my friend were supposed to be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary today. Instead, she's planning his funeral. There is no rhyme or reason to the world sometimes. 

Their children are the same ages as mine. I imagine each of our friends is taking a private mental stroll down "If That Were Me" Lane. It is unfathomable. I can't help but think I couldn't be half the things to our girls that Mr. Sandyshoes is to them. I can't teach them what he'll teach them, can't be the role model he is, can't, can't, can't. So much he does, I can't.

But that wouldn't be the point. Our partners are irreplaceable, period, as are we. It would be an unfixable break, an unfillable hole. A little girl is going to grow up saying "my Dad died when I was 8," and it's just dumb luck that it isn't my own little girl. We are, all of us, any given heartbeat away from our lives turned upside down.

Love like there's no tomorrow, people.  Yes, it's impossible to sustain that energy, that urgency, through every interaction with our dearest ones, let alone with every other human we encounter. But do keep perspective. Do remember what matters and doesn't. Be good to each other. Plan a long life, sure! - and fill each day of it with words and acts of love, because plans go awry, and all you really have is now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hands up all who'd rather save sleep than daylight.

I do not appreciate Daylight Saving Time, and not only because of everyone calling it Daylight "Savings" time all over the place, as if I need another thing to correct.  The semi-annual sleep adjustment is a little burr under the saddle I'd rather have removed, is all.  I just want to leave time the hell alone. 

Even the Bean needed waking up this morning. She's usually up before anyone, and on her most helpful days, she makes breakfast, puts the water on for my tea, and lays out all the ingredients for me to make lunch for her and her sister. That Bean is awesome. You tell her she's awesome, and she says, "I know," but you can tell she's trying not to grin.

I think maybe this will be my new candidate litmus test. Promise me you'll do away with time changes... I don't care whether we stick with daylight saving or standard time, just pick one and don't change it... and you have my vote.

That, and don't appoint any more wacky originalists to the Supreme Court, ok?  OK.