And now we wait.

The Green Bay Packers book has been uploaded to the printer. Whew! It has been one solid year since I accepted the assignment to design and edit a history book about the football team, and I can say with certainty that I’m pretty much almost ready to be done with it, sort of.

As far as the tedious work goes, yes, I’m mentally and emotionally done. As far as the creativity goes, no, I’m not entirely done, but that mostly comes from the fear of not knowing what comes next. (You creative types know what I mean.) I uploaded the files last Thursday and they are currently going through the printer’s preflight system to check my margins, fonts, photos, and other technicalities. I suspect I’ll hear back about some lower quality photos and there may be some other unforeseen issues, but otherwise, we are finished. Once minor corrections are made and the files are ready to be turned into a 512-page book, my work will be done. When the website is live, I’ll give you the link and then you can buy yourself a copy, because I know you REALLY want to know all there is to know about the Green Bay Packers. (Mom and Dad, you can have a freebie because I love you so.)

Part of me wonders if now is the time to begin work on my own book, especially since I accepted this project primarily as a learning experience. A writer I once interviewed told me that every writer has at least one book idea under her bed. I have two book ideas, a concept for a line of greeting cards, and thoughts on a locally-spun column for the city paper. Perhaps it is time to explore these machinations with a little more vigor.

Well hello, Winter!

The relatively mild winter in Texas has ended with a windy, frozen-to-the-bone blast of flurries – and when I say windy, I mean howling. There are a few inches of dusty snow on the ground but nothing worth a jolly frolic. Besides, if I let the boys outside, they’d freeze into popsicles and blow away to Oklahoma.

Jeremy was beside himself about school not being closed. He protested and presented his best case for staying home, but alas, it didn’t work. The roads aren’t icy, even if the ground is a frozen tundra, so I drove him to school with no problem. Upon coming back home, I flipped on the fireplace, refilled my travel mug and declared today PJ & Coffee Day.

I’m surprised at how awake I feel considering I was online half the night looking for rental houses here:

Did you hear that, Universe? I’m making plans to move. Fall in line, please.

Keep Calm and Carry On

A new canvas sits above my computer on the wall directly in front of the treadmill. I stared at it off and on during my five-mile run on Saturday and often steal a quick glance each time I walk down the hall past the guest room. How perfect is this message for me right now? (The British government must have known I’d need the boost.)

The number one thing I’m working on right now – aside from the book and upcoming half marathon – is my stinky attitude. While there is an innumerable amount of things for which I need to be grateful, my brain has decided otherwise. It isn’t that bad, I tell myself. Yes it is, I say back. You’re being selfish. It could be worse, I counter. Yes, but it could be better, I maintain. And so it goes…

We haven’t had a showing since before Christmas, yet I have maintained a rigorous cleaning schedule just in case. In six short weeks we’ll reach the one-year anniversary of our house being on the market, and nearly nine months of this ridiculous living situation. I have to believe it’ll be over soon and that God’s covert plan for 2011 involves a move to Knoxville.

Week one of unemployment my new career as a freelancer was busy, thankfully. (See? I’m trying to be thankful.) I settled into a nice routine of playing with Jackson, working on the book, and running. Chores, errands and lunch with friends are scattered throughout. The challenge now is to get myself to bed in a timely manner, but between playing bonus levels on Lego Harry Potter and reading the Wideacre series after, it isn’t happening. Bedtime has been hovering around 1 a.m.

By the way, don’t judge me on the Lego Harry Potter bit. The way I see it is that it keeps my hands busy in the evening when my brain goes into overdrive. And if my hands are busy then I’m not eating late at night to self-medicate, which in turn assists the half marathon training and preventing binge guilt, which benefits my overall health. There’s logic in there somewhere. Plus, the game is super fun.

The boys and I will be in front of the TV tonight for the BCS Championship game between Auburn and Oregon. It’ll be pizza and popcorn and nervous knots for us as we root for a fifth straight SEC win.

Lost: Address Book

Our Christmas cards are sitting on the kitchen counter ready to be addressed and dropped in the snail mail. The one thing missing is my address book, which I now believe is sitting in the storage unit in Chattanooga. The only address I know by heart is my sister’s (so you don’t have to email me, Becky) and I happen to have my parents’ address saved in my Blackberry (so you don’t have to email me either, Mom). I saved the return address label from your last package, Aunt Debbie, so you’re in the clear, and Lesli, your address is also in my phone.

For the rest of you, I need your home addresses. Email me here, please.

While I wait for my inbox to fill up, the boys and I will be decorating our gingerbread ski lodge.

The Snow is Fitting

For several reasons, the light snow that fell overnight and blanketed Amarillo today was most fitting. Today marks the beginning of winter break for the boys and it was my last day of employment at the Globe-News. Also, Chuck was delayed here for a second day in row. That means the snow has ushered in our Christmas spirit, brought joy to me on a sad day, and allowed the boys extra time to wrestle with their dad. On a day when I could crawl into bed and cry, it is wonderful to have reasons to be awake and thankful.

It wasn’t much snow, but it was just enough. I snapped this on my way to the newsroom to say goodbye to Danh:

Michele and I had a quick lunch before I left to pick up the boys early from school. Saying goodbye to her was brief because that’s how it needed to be. I’m still going to see her and the other friends I’ve made here, but it’s going to be hard not to work with them everyday, see them everyday, laugh with them and share in the stress of working in the publishing world. I already miss it.

Fortunately, as I type this, my inbox is filling up with new messages from Jim (the book’s author), which means there is much more freelance work to be done. And when I think of the extra time I will have with the boys, I’m doubly reminded that there are still good things to come.

Vacation Needed Here

Originally I was going to tease you with this phenomenal view I have from my back deck, but that lie seemed too cruel. To myself.

While I go through the (slow) motions of the day, only a fraction of my functioning brain will be focused on work. The rest of it will be skiing in Whistler, British Columbia. Black Diamonds, of course.

By the way, feel free to enter your email address (on the right) to be notified of further posts. It might be annoying to see me in your inbox everyday, but then again, it could be magnificently convenient.

Happy Weekend!

DIY Christmas – Day 3


1. White swag made from one large bag of cotton balls and white yarn. Strung together using a large quilting needle. Total cost: $.99 (for the needle)

2. Long red, wool scarf, given to me last Christmas by Corey. Total cost: Free

3. Two small, green felt stockings stitched together with yarn. I found the 1/2-yard roll of felt in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby. Total cost: $1.17

As you can see in the far right hand corner of the photo, there are tree limbs. More on that later.

Another Non-Update on the House

Two weeks ago it looked like we might have a chance at competing offers on the house, but while we were away for Thanksgiving none of the interest came to fruition. We are back where we started, going on nine months and no sale. Today I met with a lady who manages rental properties in the area and she assessed the house for what it might go for rent-wise. Needless to say, I wasn’t encouraged. Instead, as she drove away, I felt a twisting in my stomach – a bout of anxiety paired with instinct that told me, “Not right now.” The risk is too great, the uncertainty is too much. It may be a last resort, but we’re not to the point of last resorts. Yet.

Speaking of real estate, Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

My last day at the magazine is looming and I’m feeling the slow burn of exhaustion as I write the content for the January issue. I keep reminding myself of the benefits of leaving: more time with my boys, more time to work on the book, more time to sleep, more time to run, more time… And then I think of the incredible experience I’ve had in the last two years and how I’ve enjoyed working with Michele. I think of the people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had, and how good the position has been for me personally and then I’m fraught with sadness again, as if I’m giving away something dear to me.

On goes the battle inside my head.

 

A Smattering of Unrelated Things

– The boys and I went to the bookstore to pick up the second book in a trilogy I’m reading and ended up seeing Llama Llama Holiday Drama on display. After doing a happy dance in the middle of Barnes & Noble, I showed it to the boys and we all cheered. We’re big Llama Llama fans.

– I am in the midst of a battle to get Jeremy tested for dyslexia and Auditory Processing Disorder through the school system. Here’s what I’ve learned: When there are 52 people involved in the process, communication is key. I’ve also learned that no one will be your child’s advocate, so if you have to be firm, then be firm. Two months into this process, the diagnosticians don’t even know what Jeremy looks like, as he’s still just a name on a piece of paper. This is Mama Bear talking.

– On the way to work this morning I felt very sad about giving up my position at the magazine. Then, after school while running errands, I felt very excited about having more free time during the day when I no longer have a job. I suspect this version of schizophrenia will continue indefinitely.

– Salem is not fond of his new holiday sweater, but he just needs to get used to it. Pictures forthcoming.

– Thanks to two full bags of the boys’ Halloween candy, I have begun the annual process of storing my winter fat.

– For those of you not in my area, or at least for those who are unfamiliar with home trends, our walls are textured here and do not lend themselves well to wallpapering. Wouldn’t you know that in the last year I’ve inconveniently developed an obsession with finding adorable wallpaper? Ferm Living is a favorite browsing spot, specifically when I want to daydream about the Family Tree print in silver and Little Leaves in dark gray and bronze.

– I am still mad about the Project Runway finale. The incredible Laura Bennett sums up my feelings accurately in her latest blog post.

– The conversation Mom and I had today about quinoa took a strange left turn when she announced, “You know Dr. Oz says quinoa is a sex-enhancing food.” Ahem.

– Lastly, I picked up the first printed proof of the first two sections of the book I’m designing and editing. It’s ON PAPER. It took a little more than two hours to strike up the nerve to start flipping through the pages. As a results, my stomach has been in knots all afternoon.

Day of Leisure

My first goal was to stay in bed this morning until the very last second possible – until a) Salem demanded I wake or b) I had to pee. I had already instructed both boys to maintain upmost silence come morning, because if they valued their lives, they would not wake up Mommy before she was ready.

With that, I blissfully rolled out of bed around 8 a.m., which was regrettably 7 a.m. thanks to Daylight Savings. Still, I went to bed by 10 p.m., which I suppose was more like 9 a.m., so you do the math. I slept well and hard in my very comfortable bed. Even Salem wasn’t ready to rise when I was, evident by his choice to sleep under the comforter for an extra half hour.

From 8:15 until 10 a.m., I read my book and drank coffee. Oh sure, the boys woke up and I fed them and all, but I stayed on the couch while they played in the bedroom. For them, being gone a week translated to a new fascination with their toys. They happily skipped down the hallway after breakfast and did not bother me for nearly two hours. TWO HOURS OF READING, I say. I even flipped on the fireplace.

The rest of the day wasn’t as leisurely spent, but it involved more reading, more of the boys playing on their own and more down time, which I dearly needed. Other than a grocery run and a trip to ToysRUs (blog post about that coming tomorrow), I was home in my jammies.

But now it’s time for Dexter and a much-needed date with the treadmill. To celebrate, here’s a little piece of art I found online honoring the vile show. This particular image commemorates Season 4, my most favorite. The rest can be found courtesy of genius Ty Mattson.

These Three Gifs

The following animated gifs (graphic interchange format) reflect my current state, in order:

1) It’s so close I can almost grab it.

2) Bravo to you who practices the dark arts and succeeds. (Note sarcasm.)

3) I’m so tired I could fall asleep right here.

Happy Friday. I’m off to a football game.

Utter Exhaustion

The lack of posting this week is mainly because the energy it takes to type exceeds the amount of energy I have stored up for personal use. Our Pink event was last night and we’re in the middle of scrounging together a November issue, so between that and other chaos this week (negotiating our first offer on the house), I am physically and emotionally spent. At some point this weekend, I must send the first two sections of the book to a local printer (a little more than 200 pages) so we can start proofing with real pen and paper. Editing on the computer screen isn’t enough for me.

While I’ve been detained, Chuck and the boys have gotten in some good “guy time,” which means lots of wrestling, video game playing and making bodily noises. After all, there are some things a mother just can’t do. I’m mainly referring to video games.

After the busy-ness of the week, I’m looking forward to downtime. Flag football is tomorrow, along with the Tennessee-Georgia game, and then it’s back to the grind for me – the daily rigmarole of wrangling boys, keeping the house uber-clean for showings, and running at night to keep the stress at bay.

This is my problem right here.

In other news, the washing machine repair man came this morning and it’s going to be another week until the parts come in to fix it. That means my weekend will involve a laundry mat and figuring out the wet-vac in order to suck all the standing water out of the washer.

I think I’m going to need another bag of candy corn for this.

Burn, Baby, Burn

While Disco Inferno spins around in your head for the rest of the day, know that my brain is spinning just as fast. It’s been a busy week at work with two evening photo shoots (one last night with the Amarillo Bulls and one tonight with Lacey Brown), a couple of features to write, two freelance projects for the newspaper AND two chapters I need to complete in the book. My weekend is looking to be anything but labor-free. I’m thankful for Monday off of work so I can stay home and get some work done. Burning the midnight oil, burning the candle at both ends, etc., etc…

Speaking of work, the word is out on my intentions to leave. Continue reading “Burn, Baby, Burn”

Frog Legs, anyone?

This is why I will no longer go outside barefoot at night. I didn’t even see this little guy until he was right in front of me, and Salem just sat there like, “What? I’m just out here for the breeze.”

It rained all last night and today, so the yard is moist and frog-friendly. Anyone in the mood for frog legs?

So Long, Summer

Another summer vacation is over, and as I lounge on the back patio with a heavily medicated dog and cat on the prowl for frogs, I’m pleased with all that we’ve done in the last few months. It’s been all about swimming, camping, traveling and seeing family – all that a summer vacation should be. My made-to-order work schedule was wonderfully flexible, but as of tomorrow, it’s back to the early wake-up time and organizing my workday according to the school bell. With school in session and much on my shoulders, predictability will be what keeps me sane.

Jeremy is thrilled to be going into the first grade, though more than once I’ve heard him follow it up with, “but I’m supposed to be in second grade.” He still resents being placed back in Kindergarten last year after moving to Texas, and frankly I don’t blame him. Still, with Owen in his same grade, as well as Corey’s son, Alex, he realizes that he hasn’t been left entirely behind by his friends in Chattanooga. And though he’s excited to have his glasses, he still gives me grief about his hearing aid. It’s my hope that this year will be easier for him than last year since now he has a couple of friends.

Jackson is more than ready to go back to his early intervention class. Heck, he finally stopped asking about it in late June, and after seeing his teacher a few weeks ago, he’s back to asking daily. It’s hard for me to believe that he’ll be eligible for Kindergarten next year, though don’t be surprised if we hold him back. It seemed to really help Jeremy to gain another year of maturity, and considering the hurdles Jackson has had to jump, it might be the right call for him too.

A frog just jumped on the patio and neither animal is doing anything about it. This is my cue to go inside. Farewell, Summer. It’s been fun.

32

My abbreviated trip to Philadelphia is coming to a close, and it just happens to be on my 32nd birthday that I’ll be flying alone back to Amarillo. Though I love my children, and though I relish the time I spent with them on a three-hour layover in Memphis on Thursday night, I am just fine to fly alone today. Besides, I’m sure they’d much rather be with their dad in a van on a 12-hour drive to Chattanooga. Yes, I’m sure of that.

As I type, my phone is dinging with Facebook updates from all of your well wishes. Thank you, everyone, for making today a little more special. Just when the loneliness of living far away from family and friends almost pulls me under, a birthday comes around and spreads the love.

You are right in thinking there are many photos to edit, which I’ll get to upon settling back home. For now, I’m off to repack my suitcase to accommodate my new Michael Kors tote and head to Philly one last time for lunch with my parents. And even though I’m going back to a city I can’t quite call home, I’m thankful to say there are people I have grown to love there.  See you soon, Texans!

On the Other Side

We have three interns at the magazine this summer, all journalism majors and daydreaming of lifelong writing careers. They are now where I was more than a decade ago, coveting a modest collection of clips that will set their budding careers into motion and impress their professors come next semester. They’re adorable, I tell you, eager with their AP Stylebooks and bringing bright ideas to our creative meetings. It’s been a joy to have them temporarily on staff, not just for their young energy but also for the much-needed help.

The most bizarre part of it has been their interest in me, their questions about my college experience, my very (very) modest writing career and my thoughts on their own academia. While reminiscing about college is something I could do all day every day, the rest is laughable! I’m so far removed from college that the journalism courses taught today are a far cry from what the dusty textbooks in my attic teach. Plus, the career of a journalist today isn’t at all what it was when I was a young graduate and the smell of newsprint made my heart skip a beat (as it kinda still does). Journalism is ever-changing, and in some circles, dying altogether.

I’m on the other side now, playing a role that seemed unreachable at times, and watching these young ambitious women plat out the next five years of their lives. To be frank, I’m telling them all the things I wish someone would’ve told me at 20 years old and being as encouraging as I can be. There is so much life to be lived in your 20s, and from what I can tell, at least two of them are darn near unstoppable.

And that is when I give them a pat on the back and say, “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.”

Salem

So I got a  cat, and if you know me then you know I had a severe attachment to a cat I had for almost a decade. After she passed away in 2001, I owned two other cats for a couple of years. Then children came along and suddenly there was too much poop in the house.

The fact of the matter is that I’ve been wanting a cat for a while now, but I’ve wanted a specific kind of cat. For starters, I wanted an indoor/outdoor cat, already potty-trained, and happy to sit on laps. And again, if you know me, then you know I’ve always wanted a cat who I could name after a Harry Potter character.

Then came Salem, a nearly-all-black heavy-set shop cat who couldn’t live in the shop anymore. He belonged to a wonderful florist (and her crew) who we work with often in the magazine, but since she changed locations, Salem wound up needing a new home. It seemed almost perfect since he’s used to going in and out of a house, and since I needed a cat who could be flexible, I figured we’d be a good match.

I brought him home last night and he’s made slow, cautious progress. In fact, as I type, he’s rubbing his chin along the top of the laptop screen, his way of telling me, “This belongs to me.”

However, this is new behavior, as he spent the entire day cuddled against the toilet:

He’s scared of the children, as you can imagine, and Hank posed a huge threat. After separating them, I was quite frank with Salem – Hank is priority. If you two can’t get along, guess who gets the boot?

This may be the craziest time in my life, the most inappropriate and irresponsible time to get a cat, but I tell you this: if he’ll sit on my lap at night and make me his best friend, then it will all be worth it. And if he’s lucky, I might make his middle name Severus.

Explosion in the Sky

If you ask a local about what life is like here, you’ll undoubtedly hear about the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Last night, that was certainly true. This was the most bizarre cloud formation I’ve seen in the year and a half I’ve lived in Amarillo.  I’d venture to say long-time residents agreed, as images similar to this one popped up on Twitter all day.