Category Archives: family

My 48 Hours

Last Thursday, while I was still at work, T– took the kids to Wichita to spend some time with her family there. The plan was to stay through a big birthday party Saturday evening, then drive home late Saturday night.

I intended, as I often do on these occasions, to take advantage of the peace and quiet to get some good work done. Mainly I had some computer stuff I wanted to do — reviewing a blog for a new friend, getting caught up on my own blogging after a busy few weeks, and putting together some notes on a new project I’m working on (the Consortium). I figured I’d do a little lawn and house work, too, since our property got hit pretty hard with last week’s apocalyptic hailstorm.

Anyway, when I got home from work to an empty house Thursday afternoon, the first thing I did was make a To Do list. (I estimated roughly that each item in the “Must Do” list should represent about 90 minutes of work).

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
      • Review Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with D– (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with K– and N– (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with B– (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s

Those were my 48 items in 48 hours (I mentioned them on Facebook). And…well, technically four of those items were scheduled for Sunday, but I’d have my whole family home on Sunday so I figured I’d need to get much of that done in advance.

Of course, I ended up adding to the list before I was done.

  • Added since Thursday afternoon (all extra credit)
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for K–
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

And I made time for my 4.5-mile jog every morning, because with all that cerebral work going on, I needed some physical exertion to balance it out.

The problem, it turned out, was that 45 minutes jogging wasn’t close to enough time to balance it out. I got started working on the lawn Friday morning, and found myself still working outside when it came time to go to dinner Friday night. Woke up Saturday, went for my jog, and figured since I was going to have to shower anyway, I should do a thing or two outside first.

By the end of the day Saturday (my forty-eight hours), I’d spent about fourteen hours sleeping, eight hours at business/social meals, and a hair over an hour (total) sitting at my computer. The other twenty-five hours I spent toiling — repairing my house, cleaning, or working in the yard. And none of that was by choice or priority — it just sort of happened. I was driven.

When everything was said and done, by the time I went to bed Sunday night, I’d completed 34 of the 62 items on my To Do list, including just half of the “Must Do” items. The finished list looked like this:

  • Must Do
    • Thursday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tue blog posts for next week
      • Prepare newsletter for Saturday
    • Friday morning
      • Mow the lawn
      • Clean out the gutters
    • Friday afternoon
      • Write Thu/Fri/Sat blog posts for next week
      • Set up blog review spreadsheet on GDocs
    • Friday night
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday morning
      • Chainsaw some trees
      • Paint hall and bathrooms
    • Saturday afternoon
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
      • Read Julie’s blog posts
    • Saturday night
      • Edit and link next week’s blog posts
      • Prepare next Saturday’s newsletter
    • Sunday afternoon
      • Email Julie about the Consortium
      • Complete detailed descriptions of the Consortium in Wave
    • Sunday night
      • Write Sun/Mon/Tues blog posts for next week
      • Outline blog posts for June
  • Remember to Eat!
    • Lunch with Dan (discuss Consortium as non-profit)
    • Dinner with Austins (discuss Consortium network/software)
    • Lunch with Courtney (recruit her to the Consortium)
    • Dinner with Bruce (discuss Consortium business plan)
  • Extra Credit (if I have free time)
    • Recruit Carlos to the Consortium
    • Social Writing
    • Help Toby program BookMaker utility
    • Get in touch with Doolin
    • Email Julie about blog review
    • Get Courtney her photos (from a Julie V shoot)
    • Design novel template in GDocs
    • Scan many things
    • Edit/Link guest posts for Doolin
    • Make chapters for Carlos’s e-Book
    • Review Carlos’s other support requests
    • Call OU Admissions department
    • Email Shawn about the Consortium
    • Finish Ivanhoe
    • Email Courtney about her blog
    • Contact Schwinn customer support
    • Lowe’s run
    • Fix exterior lights
    • Drop seed, weed killer, and fertilizer on lawn
    • Clean out garage work area
    • Put some stuff in the attic
    • Convert Becca’s and Bryce’s books to e-Book format
    • Read Becca’s and Bryce’s books
    • Check out Courtney’s new WIP on GDocs
    • Write Thursday’s Creative Copy Challenge post
    • Reply to many comments on my blog and Doolin’s
    • Email Courtney about new photo policy at my blog
    • Update About Page photos in color
    • Clean up storm detritus on driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Replace shattered plastic house numbers over garage
    • Pick up a birthday gift for Kris
    • Fix fallen A/C register and attach headboard to bedframe
    • Murder weeds growing in driveway, porch, and sidewalks
    • Patch busted wood trim around bathroom door
    • Caulk floor joints both bathroom
    • Organize tool chest drawers
    • Wash and put away three loads of laundry
    • Paint over garage hail damage
    • Take out the trash
    • Do the dishes
    • Email Cindy about the Consortium as a non-profit

Journal Entry: February 2, 2009

We ended last year with an honest-to-goodness blizzard that rolled in on Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad were here in town, staying at our place for the week before heading out to Germany on Christmas morning, and that ended up being quite an adventure. They made it, though.

Anyway, we had a repeat of that foul weather last week, when heavy ice started coming down on Thursday afternoon, followed by a thick coat of snow all Thursday night. I did end up going in to work on Thursday, but they let us out early and closed the offices on Friday.

That gave us a nice long weekend, trapped in the house. T– has been sick with a respiratory virus for nearly a week now, so it was a good thing I was home to take care of the kids (especially in the mornings). We had fun, though. AB and I played out in the snow for half an hour on Friday, we started testing out bedtime stories, and she learned how to control my warlock’s flying carpet in WoW.

XP and I worked on enunciation and word choice, motor control, and screaming unreservedly for no reason whatsoever. That was a little less fun.

We watched a bunch of Berenstain Bears cartoons with AB, and the first season of 30 Rock when she wasn’t looking. I also played a lot of WoW.

Saturday night, like Noah sending the dove out from the ark, we ordered a pizza and were delighted when it arrived in a reasonable amount of time. Sunday morning we finally ventured out, meeting my little sister and her family at IHOP for lunch.

We were not the only people in town with that idea. Alas.

Anyway, we had no real problems on the roads, and afterward T– dropped me and AB back at the house, and then went to do some grocery shopping. Sunday evening we had sandwiches, and finished off the second season of our show.

Then Monday morning it was AB’s turn to be sick, and she was hacking something awful when I had to head to work. T– seems to be on the mend, though, and it was only really bad for three days or so. So maybe AB will be better before the weekend.

Oh! On the drive home from work I had some serious drama, but that probably deserves a post of its own. I’ll get that up as soon as I can. I did end up running some errands in the evening, including a trip to Walgreens where I learned we might have another ice storm coming. Yay!

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: November 2009

I survived.

I’m tempted to make those two words my whole journal entry, but so much happened in November that I don’t want to forget. And so much happened in November that I’m going to forget it.

Even this post won’t get it all, but I want to grab the highlights.

I started the month with a NaNoWriMo kickoff party at IHOP with my writing group, and that actually is documented already. I’ve also talked a little bit about my NaNoWriMo progress, and my class sessions. I’ll do another post with a post mortem for NaNoWriMo, but here I wanted to talk about what else I did.

I finished a major manuscript for work on the 5th, and that freed up some of my attention and some of my creative energy, so I finally really got started writing on the 6th. I had a birthday lunch at P. F. Chang’s on the 8th, and then a holiday (Veteran’s Day) on the 11th that gave me a pretty easy work week, and a good opportunity to get caught up on my word count again. Then Saturday the 14th I had a great opportunity to get behind again.

Probably the big event of November (for me), T– threw a big birthday party for my 30th, inviting my mom and dad, and all my friends. D–, of course, B– and E–, K– and N–, my little sister and her family, as well as Courtney and Ed (who were a real hit). T– had everyone bring a bottle of wine, which was quite a treat, and she grilled up ribs for us as the main dish in a pretty extensive (and delicious) spread. We chatted and played Rock Band, and had a great time. Shawn and Liz showed up after most of the other guests had left, but stuck around to watch UHF with the Cantrells and me. That was fun. The whole night was incredible.

In WoW news, I got my Hunter to 80 (which marks the first time I’ve had a Hunter at the level cap). I also started a pair of Horde characters on Shawn’s server, so I can chat with him from time to time. He’s popped in on Dark Iron a time or two, too, and that’s been fun.

I had a conversation with T–, and a conversation with my writing group, and a conversation with my dad over the phone on a drive home from work, and the end result of all that is that I’m finally going to try to get some treatment for my social anxiety. That’s not really something I want to talk about in detail in this post, but it happened in November. So there you go.

Then last week was Thanksgiving week (which is always drama, and NaNoWriMo brings its own demons). T– headed up to Wichita early, on Tuesday afternoon, and I had dinner with D– at a new Mexican place downtown (Iguana Grill, and it’s awesome), then went by Bruce’s to borrow his ladder and ended up spending an hour and a half chatting with him, then went home and got started on Christmas preparations instead of going to bed.

I wanted to have the tree up (and ready for decoration) by the time T– came home from Wichita. I decided to get all the decorations down from the attic, too, and somewhere in there I decided I should hang Christmas lights outside. Wal-Mart had LED lights at a reasonable price, so I picked up 8 strings and spent Wednesday afternoon crawling around on the roof of the house, getting everything set up. It proved to be more work than I anticipated, but the end result is stunning. (I’m sure T– will have a photo up on her blog eventually.)

I’d barely gotten off the roof when D– showed up to take me down to Chicasha to pick up his grandma, and then we all headed to Wichita. With that extra trip, a two-and-a-half-hour drive became something perilously close to five, but I spent most of it sleeping in the back seat, so who’s complaining.

Then Thanksgiving was four straight days of Charboneaus. That’s an amazing family, and they really know how to have a good time when they get together. T– brought my XBox and Rock Band, and that was incredibly popular. The food was incredible. The Cowboys won convincingly, and then a disappointing Sooners team showed up on Saturday and totally shut out OSU in the Bedlam game, so that was pretty satisfying.

We got home Sunday afternoon, and as we turned the corner onto our street, AB called from the back seat, “Ooh, the house is ready for Christmas!” T–, of course, was thrilled. After watching her parents get all their Christmas decorations done Friday morning, she’d been left wondering when we could even get around to it, and here it was all ready for her.

AB couldn’t wait to get started, and she and her mom got the tree all decorated before bedtime.

Then yesterday was the 30th, the end of my wonderful, grueling November, and I capped it with a write-in at Courtney’s. We both made our official submissions to the NaNoWriMo website around 11:00, validated our winning word counts, and then stayed up far too late talking. All too often, in the midst of a conversation about this or that, one or the other of us would trail off, staring away into space, and then just say quietly, “I can’t believe it’s over.”

It’s over. And I survived.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 30, 2009

I’m not going to pretend any of you are surprised at the lack of updates. I’m also not going to pretend there will be any rectification of that issue in the next thirty-one days. NaNoWriMo is here, and it gets my words. What I have to spare will end up in emails and FaceBook Discussion Board posts encouraging my other writers to stick with it.

That’s what I’ve been busy with in the recent bloggish doldrums. Two years ago when I decided to bully Dad and Heather into writing their books, I put together a prewriting curriculum for them, and I’ve used some of those exercises with a couple other people since, but I never really nailed them down.

I’ve spent much of the last two weeks getting them sorted out, cleaned up, and properly annotated (the exercises are now two-parters: lessons on topics in story design, paired with specific assignments).

I also went through all the exercises and did them for my own NaNoWriMo project, to set a good example, but I ended up having to switch projects right in the middle of all that, so it was a real mess. As of yesterday I’m all done, though, and ready to get to work.

Of course, I’ve been playing a lot of WoW, and we’ve had several opportunities to get a whole group together, whether it was D– and me and the brothers-in-law, or Mom and Dad and a nephew, we’ve had a lot of fun.

The kids are doing well, and T– (as always) is a phenomenal wife and mother. It’s amazing how much she gets accomplished, on so little sleep….

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 20, 2009

Yesterday I made a To Do list, but I didn’t actually do anything.

I got home from work to find AB napping and XP about to, so I was all too happy to watch them while T– ran to the store.

She brought home pizza for dinner. While I played WoW, we watched some Psych and some Law and Order. And I gave AB a bath before bedtime. It was a pretty quiet night, but I was glad to have them home.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 19, 2009

Last Saturday was the big Charboneau family birthdays party for everyone with a birthday in October, and T– felt the itch to be a part of that, so she ended up packing up the kids Friday morning and heading to Wichita. That left me with a weekend of bachelor freedom. I mostly spent it practicing poor sleeping and eating habits.

I did get my lesson plan for next week done on Friday, and yesterday I took care of some stuff around the house, but apart from that it was movies, football, and lots of WoW. Amazingly relaxing, but before it was over I was really missing my family.

Friday night I was home alone, Saturday I went over to K– and N–‘s for lunch and the OU/Texas game. Lunch was some incredible cheeseburgers K– grilled. Then while I was there K– offered to help me track down an electrical problem I’d been having with my car, but that sort of tracked itself down as soon as I popped the hood and we saw the mountain of corrosion sitting on my battery’s positive terminal. So we cleaned that off, and I haven’t had any problems since.

I got home from Edmond in time for D– to pick me up for dinner at Belle Isle, then we went back to the house and played WoW until 3:30. We also watched a bunch of unwholesome movies, which was pretty fun.

Sunday D– and I went to lunch with my sister’s family up in Edmond, then came back to the house for more WoW (although, as I said, I also got some stuff accomplished). I had to call it a night a little bit earlier, so as to make it in to work this morning, but it was still a pretty similar night to the one before.

And now my family’s home safe, and I’m looking forward to seeing them tonight.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 16, 2009

Well, after all my angst yesterday over the NaNoWriMo prewriting stuff, I loaded up the rough draft of my novel-writing how-to, and discovered that it was already reformatted to work on two weeks of prep time (instead of the month I thought I’d used), and that all of the assignments were written out, and all but one of the lessons that go with them.

So, it turns out, I’ve got about one hour’s worth of work to do over the next two weeks, to take care of all that stuff I was woeing over yesterday. That doesn’t count my own prewriting, of course, but I can find time for that. It was the technical writing I was worried about. Turns out, that’s done.

So I spent about an hour (off an on) on Facebook yesterday posting that material and chatting with my writing group, and there’s some real excitement to get started. I can’t wait.

In the evening we had the last of our monthly summer picnics for Britton Road. T– was really looking forward to it (as she always does), and with them going out of town it seemed like a really good idea to go along and spend the evening with my family, away from my computer. Of course it didn’t hurt that T– was bringing two gallons of my chili recipe to compete in the chili cookoff, so I knew I’d get a great dinner out of it.

Turned out, I didn’t do so well. Before I’d finished the short walk to bring the crockpot from our car to the picnic tables, I found myself struggling to breathe. I thought, “I’m not that out of shape” before I realized what it really was. Too many people. I ended up spending an hour and a half huddled over my little bowl of chili, trying not make eye contact with anyone but K– or N–, and mostly just focusing on my breathing. It was a real waste of what could have been a fun evening.

I got through it, though, and when we got home there was a whole Thursday night’s worth of comedy to watch, and we watched it all (quite in spite of the late hour). That was fun.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Journal Entry: October 14, 2009

No, there is too much. Let me sum up….

It’s terribly frustrating to me that, as times get more and more interesting, I write less and less about it on my blog. That’s been true of every NaNoWriMo I’ve been through (and how many birthday parties and Thanksgivings have been lost because of it?), and it’s been true of both of my babies.

Admittedly, XP isn’t doing anything terribly newsworthy. He’s adorable, but that doesn’t make for great plain-text updates. It’s a shame, though, that when I look back at now three years from now, I won’t have a very detailed record of the semester I decided to work full time and teach a college course while participating in two different writer’s groups, having a new baby, and maintaining a 30-hour-per-week WoW habit. Oh, and writing. A little bit.

It’s not going to get any better, either, because in the midst of all that, a NaNoWriMo is looming. All I’ll have to look back on are these occasional complaints, and a word count ticker. I guess that’s something….

Anyway, I’ve spent the last two weeks with “blog journal” as the longstanding not-marked-out item on my rolling Post-It Note To Do list, and I decided to shed the guilt and stress of that unwritten post getting longer and longer, and just write a quick post about yesterday.

I made that decision three days ago. And here we are.

There’s been lots worth mentioning in the recent past, but the most exciting among them is probably B–‘s new job and the party that went with it. That’s more than a week ago, though, so it’s lost to history. Last Friday night AB spent the evening with Diana, so T– and I could have a date night. We went to Texas Roadhouse and then watched some TV. It was awesome.

On Saturday D– and I went over to B– and E–‘s, because he had missed the previous weekend’s party with some vile disease. Conversation and martinis, and about seven minutes of The Empire Strikes Back with RiffTrax.

Sunday the Cowboys barely beat the miserable Chiefs, and that gave us our first winning weekend of the season — or at least the first one where I got to watch both games. It was exhilarating.

Monday was Columbus Day, which is actually a holiday for people like me, so I went to the Science Museum with T– and the kids, then spent the afternoon preparing materials for my class.

Yesterday I woke up sick, but I went to work anyway. I did end up canceling my class, though, which gives the students a full week off because Thursday is Fall Break. Wasn’t the flu, though — I was better by bedtime. And today I’m back at work.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

Sad Little Cloud (a poem)

In perfect honesty there have been times
When I wanted to say, “That’s it! I’m done.”
Too tired, too exhausted by your grief,
And suffering in the shadow of your pain.
You’ve hurt, and yes I know that hurt was real
(And no, my happy life cannot compare)
But all your misery is wasted time —
A gift to grief, withheld from those you love.
You’re so much more than tragedy.

You’ve never known a perfect life at home —
No gentle father-man to wrap you up,
No shining beacon Mom, so pure and true,
No happy Christmas photo family.
And then, your spirit’s been betrayed by flesh —
When your own mind became the enemy,
When reason could not conquer cruel thoughts,
When friends and lovers could not understand.
You’re so much more than tragedy.

I’ve seen you try and try to prove that true —
To live a normal life, to make it work
When whispered voices swear it’s wasted time.
“You’ll never live the picture postcard life.”
They’re right. But don’t believe the worst of it.
You’re destined to far more than normal gives.
I’ve seen you shine, seen miracles firsthand
But you lament the things you cannot do.
You’re so much more than tragedy.

I know you want perfection and no less.
I know you’ve tasted bitter, cruel fate.
I know you’ve lost more dearly than you’ve made.
I know how hard you work so you won’t cry.
But people fall in love with this sad cloud.
They gather to your dark like moths to flame.
Not for the shade, but for the light you hide —
Deprive to those who’d give their lives to you.
You’re so much more than tragedy.

Be more. Be more. And every day be more.
Find paths that bring you out into the light,
Find dreams that make you smile, that make you hope,
Find friends who cheer, and tales that tell you truth.
And look for truth — for happy truth no less.
Look for the shinning light that draws them in,
Look for the you that made me write this verse,
And get to know that person like I do.
You’re so much more than tragedy.
Believe.

All Grown Up

As I said in the journal entry for Saturday, I watched AB all morning, then took her to meet the rest of the family for lunch at Jason’s Deli. She’d had enough fun playing with her daddy that she wasn’t too happy when I said, “Okay, put on your shoes. It’s time to go.”

I finally got her out to the car, though, and as she was climbing into her seat she said, “I want my book!”

For a couple months now she’s had a Baby Colors book kicking around the floorboards of my car, and on the rare occasions she’d ridden with me, she has read through it with relish. Sometime in the last week, though, my car go cleaned out. So I had to say, “Sorry, your book isn’t out here. You can read the map, though!” I invested some artificial excitement in that and she bought it, so I gave her the Oklahoma State Roadways map, told her the blue lines were rivers, and then we hit the road.

She spent some time looking over the back page of it that was visible, then said, “What do the red lines mean?”

I glanced back and said, “Oh, those are highways. Big roads. And the black lines are regular roads.”

She said, “Oh.”

I drove about a mile, and she said, “I found letters! There’s my name!” She’d turned it over and was looking at the front cover — MAP in giant block red letters, and the A was what she was calling her name. I chuckled and spelled it out to her, told her the word, and went on driving.

She was quiet a while, then said, “Here’s my house! And here’s Sophy’s house.”

I said, “Can you find a path between them? Try to trace the black lines from one to the other….” I could tell that was a little too advanced for her, even as I said it, and she just didn’t respond. After a moment, though, I heard the crinkle of her unfolding the map for the first time. And then silence, then another crinkle, and I glanced back to find her staring in fascination at the partly-unfolded map in her lap.

She poked the stiff paper, heard its crinkle, and tilted the still-folded edge to get a good look at it. I could see her thinking. Then she said, “Daddy! I want to show you something!”

While I watched in rearview glances, she unfolded the map all the way, then looked at it for a moment with a critical eye. She folded it back in half, longways, to get a tall rectangle, then held it up in front of her, hiding her face. Then she said, “Now say, ‘Annabelle! Annabelle!'”

I did as instructed. All excited, I called, “Annabelle! Annabelle!”

With just her left hand, she bent down the top corner of the map so I could see the mildly exasperated look on her face, and she said, “What is it, Daddy? I’m reading the paper!”