Journal Entry: September 23, 2009

On Monday I told a lot of people, “Oh, it’s so much easier with the second baby. With Annabelle we were up all night, every night, startling awake at every tiny sound. With Alexander, we’re a lot more relaxed. I’m actually getting a lot of sleep.”

On Monday night, he proved me a liar. Bigtime.

So, as a result, I woke up late yesterday and I was dragging. I went in to work anyway, and stumbled through the morning’s responsibilities, and then spent my lunch break grading papers, and then darted out to OC for my fourth week of class. I will, of course, tell that tale elsewhere.

I had several students hang around after class to talk with me, as I’ll mention in my recap. That was awesome, in the sense of making a connection with my students, but it was draining in the sense described in detail in last week’s link, Caring for Your Introvert. On top of that, everyone I interacted with at work all day wanted to talk about the baby (and, frankly, I did too…but it’s still tiring). Then I got home to a full house — T–, two babies, and two in-laws.

It’s nothing but whining about blessings, but all that interaction got to me yesterday. After three weeks of getting crippled before my classes by anxiety — for days on end — I managed to get away with fewer than three hours of anxiety problems this week, and they could be gone altogether by the next time we meet for class. But my night was still shot just from interaction exhaustion.

T– let me hold Alexander as soon as I got home, and I took him to the couch and AB came running up to see him, and I asked her all about her day. At the same time, T–‘s mom and dad got home from some shopping they asked me all about my day, and it was all perfectly nice but for some reason I just wanted to cry.

So I handed the baby off to his Papa, and then when no one was looking I slipped off to the bedroom to hide in the dark.

Karla and John naturally picked up that something was wrong, and they know me well enough that they were able to guess what, and they said they’d be willing to head home early if I needed a little alone time before my family showed up this weekend. I replied to that with an emphatic no, because they’re doing so much to make our lives easier. I really, really appreciate all their help. I’ve just got my own crazies, and the demands of the situation don’t really allow for any good outlets. It’s a pretty short-term problem, though, and one I’ve weathered countless times before. I’m not going to go turning away good help just because I’m feeling a little uncomfortable.

Anyway, there was bacon on the griddle and brisket in the crockpot, so I didn’t stay in hiding for too terribly long. I came out for dinner and then took sanctuary behind my laptop for the rest of the evening hours, while we watched Word World and Lie to Me. Then, when the rest of the family had gone to bed, I stayed up a little longer in the still silence and finished off Newsradio. Such a great show.

Ah. I did have one actual problem yesterday. T–‘s laptop is dying. It takes forever to boot into Windows (if it does at all, before locking up), and then when it loads it gives a complaint about accessing the user profile and loads a temporary profile instead. It seems pretty clear that it’s a hard drive problem — probably from AB knocking the laptop off an end-table last week while she was watching videos — but there’s a lot of photos and T–‘s work stuff on that hard drive that we’re going to be incredibly frustrated to lose. And, y’know, no laptop. I don’t cherish the idea of sharing mine with T– and AB. We all have very different ideas about what a computer should be doing, and how it should be handled.

So, y’know, that’s going to be a mess. Probably an expensive one, but sometimes we’re saved by hand-me-downs and free IT services from friends we’re all-too-happy to take advantage of. So I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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

Journal Entry: September 21, 2009

I’ve gotten a little behind. Sorry about that.

Last Wednesday after work we got together with D–, K– and N–, and my sister’s family at Senor Tequila up in Edmond. I’m sure I’ve been to one before (the name is really familiar), but I don’t remember when. The food was really good, though (especially the salsa), and of course the fellowship was exceptional.

While we were there, I told a little story about two startlingly dramatic events in the lives of my students that have (in small ways) disrupted each of my last two classes. We wondered idly what would happen to disrupt my next class. We didn’t come up with anything.

After dinner T– took AB to church, and I went home to finish up some prep work for the Formatting Tutorial I needed to write for my students on Thursday. Got it outlined, got all my stuff together, and then spent the rest of the evening playing WoW.

Thursday morning I woke up early, got ready for work, then asked T– how she was doing before I headed out the door. Turned out, she was having a baby. So I spent a couple hours coaching her through contractions, making preparations, and alerting the internets that we were having a baby.

It turned out to be true. I’ve written up a detailed account of how the day went, but I feel like T– should get some of that attention, so I’ve given it to her. Watch her blog for more details.

Needless to say, though, we had a busy day. Alexander Lewis Pogue was born at 12:03 PM, and we all three spent the rest of the day recovering. We had a ton of visitors Thursday afternoon and evening, and every one of them asked, “Do you need us to bring anything?” before showing up. We were well taken care of.

Just like last time, I had my laptop and WoW to get me through the long, quiet hours at the hospital. So don’t feel too sorry for me. T–, of course, had a baby to serve the same purpose.

Friday morning I realized I had a bunch of unfinished work at work, so I slipped away around ten in the morning, when T– had a sister-in-law there to help her out and friends and parents on their way. I ran home to grab a shower and get cleaned up, then headed to work. I was only there for about an hour, but I got what I needed (to work on at home), signed my timesheet, and told Irene and Laveta a little bit about the baby.

Then I grabbed some lunch at Subway, picked up 17 Again so T– would have some entertainment for the afternoon, and headed back to the hospital. I spent some time in the afternoon writing up my account of Thursday for T– (see above), and then some more time agonizing over how to handle my class.

I’d told T– on Tuesday, “You have to wait at least two weeks before you have the baby.” The reason for that was a particular lecture I had scheduled for Tuesday, September 24: “Technical Writers as Subject Matter Experts.” The plan was to briefly lecture on the topic, then spend the rest of the class discussing their Semester Projects (which will require them to become Subject Matter Experts, but I’ll discuss that more tomorrow). Anyway, I’d always intended to have a work day sometime after the baby was born, so I could skip class and they could work on their projects. That doesn’t work if they don’t know anything about the project yet.

So I sent out a harried email Thursday afternoon warning them to expect a change to the schedule, then I sent out a new email Friday afternoon telling them to disregard their assignment for the week and instead read over a brief overview of the Semester Project assignment, and come to class Tuesday with three possible project topics.

I’m moving the S. M. E. speech up to tomorrow, and I’ll give them next Tuesday off. But, as I said, more on that tomorrow.

Friday evening was more like Thursday evening. My sister brought me Taco Bell for dinner, and John and Karla brought AB up to visit us. She’d spent twenty-four hours with her Nana and Papa, and she was sorely missing her Mommy and Daddy, so we kept her for a few hours, then I took her home at nine so we could go through her regular bedtime routine. I think that went pretty well.

And then I was back up at the hospital, and it was another night of talk shows and commercials and the gentle, soothing glow of WoW.

Saturday morning we got up early and got ready, then cooled our heels for hours and hours. Nurses and pediatricians made their visits, approving us to leave. They brought all manner of forms for us to sign, and lectured us on all sorts of terrors that could befall our baby, and then took him away for a discreet procedure that seemed to take forever. He seems to have come through it well, though.

Then, at last, around ten our nurse came by to discharge us. Except, she said that she wanted us to hang around another forty-five minutes after his procedure to make sure everything was okay. Forty-five minutes later she dropped by to say she was sorry, but another family needed to discharge too, and the father had tickets for the OU game, and he was frantic to get out. So we gave her permission to go take care of him, and waited some more.

I spent a lot of that waiting time moving all of our possessions out to the car. It took six or seven trips, not counting the one with the baby. When I wasn’t doing that, I was playing WoW while T– watched Food TV.

Then, at last, a little before noon our nurse came by to discharge us, and actually did. We got home to the delicious smells of a fresh-baked pizza, and with many helping hands got the car unloaded much, much faster than it was loaded. Then AB helped me put some stuff away (and got tickled for her efforts), and then we finally settled down to the serious business of lunch.

In the afternoon AB went down for a nap, and I settled down to get back to my real life — playing WoW — and turned on the OU game around three. Unfortunately, though my TiVo claimed to have access to the game, our cable package doesn’t actually include the channel it was on, so all I had was four hours of solid-black screen. In HD.

I didn’t feel like leaving the house, though, so I abandoned all hope of watching the game. Instead we turned on an episode of Lie to Me. A little while later AB woke up from her nap, and then T–, AB, Karla, and John all went for a shopping trip to Wal-Mart. Alexander was forbidden from going by his pediatrician, so I had the arduous task of watching him sleep while I played WoW. He was delightful.

Karla made us dinner, and we spent the evening watching TV and (me) playing WoW. The only difference from last weekend was the squeaky little baby in the room, and T– complaining less. It was a pretty pleasant day.

Overnight, the baby woke up a few times for feedings, and T– (of course) woke up with him, but the experience was radically different from our first night home with AB. Then we’d both been wide awake, all the lights on, frantically checking to make sure she was okay, any time she made the smallest noise in the night. This time T– waited until he was actually ready to eat, fed him, then put him back to bed and went back to sleep. Most of the time she didn’t even wake me up when that happened. It was, altogether, significantly less stressful.

Even so, at pretty much everyone’s recommendation, we skipped church on Sunday. John and Karla took AB, so T– and I had a pretty quiet morning at home. Then the in-laws brought us lunch from Taco Cabana, and afterward we watched an episode of Dinosaur Train with AB before her nap. Once she was down, we switched the TV to the Vikings game, which was awesome.

Then around 4:30 we had an accidental repeat of Saturday. AB got up from her nap, then went with T– and her parents up to the mall to do some shopping, leaving me home with the baby. I got a visit from B– (generously bringing us a lasagna to dine on sometime this week), and called up K– and N– to see if they could join us for the Cowboys game at eight.

When T– et alia got home, we had some incredible stew for dinner (beef broth, carrot, potatoes, and cubed brisket leftover from last weekend’s birthday party). I had a little bit of an argument with AB over that, because she didn’t want to sit in her chair — she wanted to sit on the floor and stare at Baby Alexander. After much discussion, we reached a compromise that essentially consisted of her sitting on the floor and staring at Baby Alexander. She’s a very persuasive orator.

Then we had guests, and we watched the disappointing first half of what turned out to be an even more disappointing football game. It was fun to have K– and N– over, though. We also made a start on a cheesecake and pumpkin pie that had come into our possession, but there is still much more work to be done on that front. So give us a call, and drop by for a visit. You won’t leave disappointed.

I went to bed pretty quickly after the game was over, though, because I had work in the morning.

More on that tomorrow. Everything’s going well, though. Mother and baby are both happy and healthy, and the rest of the family is ticking along nicely.

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

Journal Entry: September 14, 2009

Friday night T–‘s parents came in from Wichita, and after unloading the newly refurbished dining table and chairs that John had brought down, we took them out to dinner at Mama Roja (of course). It was delicious. Other than that, it was just WoW.

Saturday around noon we went to Mayfair Church of Christ for D–‘s grandma’s birthday party. It was about forty people, mostly D–‘s family, and only a couple people I knew, but for some reason (and completely unexpectedly) that place hit my social anxiety something awful. We were there for two hours. The brisket was good.

Afterward we went home, and brought my niece Lola with us. We watched her for a couple hours, then when my sister came to pick her up, T– and her family went up to Hobby Lobby for some fabric shopping.

John and I had talked about going out to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner to catch the OU game (since it was only showing on pay per view), but I still felt bad from the afternoon’s activity so I stayed home and made us all chili instead. Then I played WoW for the rest of the night while John watched the race and the rest of us watched an episode of Lie to Me.

Sunday morning I skipped church, and spent some time coming up with a list of adjectives to describe little Alexander. That…didn’t turn out to be useful. I had fun with it, though.

T– made barbecue sandwiches for lunch, then she and her parents headed to my sister’s place for a baby shower while my brother-in-law brought his two girls over to play. They watched Word World with AB while Jeff and I talked for an hour or so. Then I took AB up to the shower.

Now, T– had told me she wasn’t expecting much of a turnout at the shower, since all of my family had all canceled and several of the ladies from church had said they wouldn’t be there. So I was somewhat astonished to walk into my sister’s house and find it packed full of people.

They had brought so many gifts, and while I was there the guests read out blessings for Alexander and T– and me, that they’d written earlier. That was precious.

Afterward, we came home and said goodbyes to T–‘s parents, then I played WoW and waited for D– to become available. He called around six, and we both headed up to Edmond to watch the Cowboys game with K– and N–.

It was an excellent game. I left at half time so I could watch some of the game with T– (who’d been too exhausted to go with me). We enjoyed that so much that we watched the end of the Bears / Packers game, too.

Sort of an erratic weekend, and exhausting, but a lot of fun. And, y’know, the Cowboys won. Awesome.

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

Journal Entry: September 10, 2009

Yesterday was relatively quiet — at least, the way my life goes now. A year ago, yesterday’s events would have seemed positively newsworthy.

Anyway, I had a busy day at work, I wrote 600 words on Restraint over my lunch break, I got a call from my mom and we talked about teaching, I wrote a detailed blog post about Tuesday’s experience, I played some WoW, and then I mixed up some of my famous salsa to go with the fantastic quesadillas T– made for dinner.

And all of that was before D– showed up with his own copy of the new The Beatles: Rock Band. We got the instruments set up, figured out how T– and D– could both do vocals (and me playing Ringo front and center), and then we played that for two hours. Then AB went to bed to sleep, T– went to bed to read, and D– sang all his favorite songs while I logged back into WoW to play a couple battlegrounds before bed.

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

Journal Entry: September 9, 2009

Last week, before my first day of class, I mistook a respiratory virus for anxiety.

This week, there was no mistake. Anxiety shut me down. I didn’t sleep Monday night, and I didn’t eat anything yesterday until hours after the class. It was a miserable experience.

Also, as anxiety tends to be, it proved irrational and unfounded. My class went really well, but I’ll wait to go into real detail in a separate post. The good news is that, after exhausting my prepared comments within the first fifteen minutes of class last week (and panicking about it afterward), I managed to run out of time yesterday. And, even better, the (significant amount of) material I had to skip works perfectly in next week’s lecture, too.

Anyway, I took the afternoon off yesterday, and it proved to be a good thing. I went home for lunch and instead spent forty minutes lying on the bed in a dark room, trying to calm down. Then I packed up my laptop, hugged AB goodbye, and drove up to the school.

Class went really well, and afterward I headed to the offices to report as much to Cami, and found her speaking with Peggy Gipson — my creative writing teacher when I was at OC, and easily one of my mentors. Apart from emails, though, we hadn’t spoken since I got back from Tulsa, so we dismissed Cami and I took a seat in Peggy’s office, and we caught up. For more than an hour. It was awesome.

I got home around 3:30, and T– asked me to watch AB while she went grocery shopping. We watched part of a Sesame Street, then I suggested we got play outside and while AB played on her slide and climbed on her house, I mowed the back lawn. AB behaved really well for me while I did that, so when I finished I pushed her in her swing for a while.

We were still doing that when T– got home, so she took over for me and I went around front to finish mowing. It was almost three weeks of growth, after the Velezes’ visit two weeks ago and my sickness this last weekend, so the front yard especially was a lot of effort, but we’ve got guests coming in for a baby shower this weekend, and it needed to be done.

Once that was finished I grabbed a quick shower, and it was already six o’clock. T– told me her friend Becca was coming over, and I owed Becca a character design worksheet (that I’d discussed at one of our earlier writing groups), so I spent half an hour searching through my old high school Creative Writing notebooks, but it was nowhere to be found. I settled for copying her a Dungeons and Dragons character record sheet, and a copy of the custom ones D– and I made up for our fantasy project.

Then I emerged from the office for a much-needed dinner, which consisted of some Dominos pizza I paid for out of my allowance (because I’d had a rough day, and I deserved a treat). I just finished eating before Becca showed up with her two boys, and we talked shop for half an hour or so, going over some sticking points in her novel as she rushes toward its climax. Once she felt more comfortable with that, I left her to talk with T–, and went to play WoW.

That took the rest of my night, but it wasn’t really as much night as I’d hoped for it to have. Maybe two hours, and then I was in bed so I could make it to work on time this morning.

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

Journal Entry: September 8, 2009

In my blog post last Friday I went into great detail concerning a slow-build head cold I’d spent a week developing, but then never really talked about it. I talked about how I confused it with social anxiety for a couple days, but never said how I knew that was a misdiagnosis.

I knew by Thursday, though. It hit me hard on Thursday, and then kept me home from work on Friday. I went in in the morning to pick up my school laptop that I’d left behind on Thursday, and then went back in for a short teleconference in the afternoon, but apart from that I stayed home and convalesced.

Between medication and lots of rest, I felt up to going over to K– and N–‘s for dinner Friday night. We had hotdogs and watched the last preseason Cowboys game. It was entertaining, but mostly just left us wanting the regular season to start.

Saturday morning I watched AB while T– went shopping. Just before she got home, I got a phone call from a guy selling a $2,500 camera on eBay letting me know I’d won and asking me about shipping and payment arrangements.

This entire phone call came as a complete shock to me, of course, and I got to spend the rest of the morning dealing with eBay’s fraud department and getting my account re-secured. Turns out somebody had figured out my login credentials and made purchases in excess of eleven thousand dollars. Luckily (hah!) the check card associated with the account was stolen when we were robbed last December, so it had been canceled and no money changed hands.

Then around eleven T– went out again to go shopping with my little sister, and took AB with her that time, because I headed up to Vintage coffeehouse for some social writing with Courtney before T– planned to be home. Between worry over the eBay thing and a growing fuzziness from my lingering cold, I didn’t actually get any writing done. I chatted with Courtney and ate a remarkable turkey sandwich, and then begged off early and headed home.

I deteriorated from there, so when six o’clock rolled around and we were supposed to head out for some OU football at K– and N–‘s place, I decided I just couldn’t handle it. I called and offered my apologies, and then went to my room and took a nap. T– went over to hang out at my sister’s place and scrapbook, and I eventually woke up to grab some dinner and play some WoW. From what I heard, it was probably a more pleasant experience than watching the game would have been.

I wasn’t up terribly late Saturday night, even with the mid-evening nap, but I still managed to sleep through church Sunday for no other reason than that I forgot to set an alarm on my clock. I was up and dressed when T– got out of service, though, and we went to Taco Cabana with D– and my sister’s family for lunch. Then I took AB home for a nap and T– went over to my sister’s place for more scrapbooking and some maternity photos.

AB woke up a couple hours before T– got home, but we entertained ourselves with books and puzzles and counting poker chips. Then I spent most of the evening worrying about my class on Tuesday and playing WoW.

T– picked up some Chinese takeout for us for dinner, and after AB went to bed we spent a couple mostly-depressing hours watching Sunshine Cleaning. It’s got a happy ending, but it takes a pretty miserable path to get there. It’s like Uncorked for girls. Anyway, after that T– headed to bed, but I stayed up and watched I Love You, Man to cleanse the palate.

Monday morning we woke up early for a date! D– came over to watch AB, and T– and I grabbed some breakfast at Sonic before heading up to the mall for All About Steve at 10:05. The movie was…fascinating. It was good. It was Joe Dirt for girls. We had fun.

Then we stopped by Sears on the way to the car, and ended up buying my birthday present from T– a little bit early. She got me new shoes and a new watch (both badly needed), and I walked out of there looking dapper.

We picked up D– and AB for lunch at Chilis, then T– dropped D– and me at Best Buy to pick up some XBox games on sale while she ran to my sister’s place to drop off some stuff. Turned out there was no sale, though, so D– and I ended up wandering the aisles aimlessly until T– got back. It wasn’t too long, though.

After that D– went home, and AB went down for a nap. I settled in to play some WoW, and T– took advantage of my babysitting to go do some grocery shopping. She got back just as AB woke up, and we all watched TV for a couple hours. AB watched Nick Jr. videos on T– laptop, and T– and I watched a homemade marathon of season 4 of Newsradio.

T– heated up a frozen pizza for dinner, and other than that our evening looked exactly like our afternoon. At nine AB went to bed, and then I put away the computer and T– and I watched a Leverage. As soon as that was done I headed to bed, sick with anxiety over class tomorrow.

Which is to say, today. I’ve over the cold, but not the anxiety. It shouldn’t last much longer than five hours, though. So at least there’s that.

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

Journal Entry: August 31, 2009

Two days behind, and a busy weekend to cover, so brace yourselves.

Wednesday night we had dinner at Taco Bueno, with my sister’s family, K– and N–, and D–. The girls ran amok, we ate cheap Mexican food, and we discussed idle frustrations. Then, in perfect consensus, we all decided not to go to church.

I spent the evening in the office, scanning paperwork to throw away and rearranging the closet so I could store some crates and file folders that had been sitting out next to my desk ever since we swapped the office and the nursery.

That took all night, but it left me with the cleanest-looking office I’ve had in forever, which is something we did in anticipation of guests living there for a weekend.

Thursday I took a late lunch, planning for it to be a little bit of a long one, because I had a training session out at OC for using their online classroom tool, Blackboard. When I double-checked the schedule, though (after I’d left work and gone home to pick up my laptop), I discovered the class was an hour later than I’d thought. So I called in to work, had lunch with T– at T. G. I. Friday’s, and then spent a leisurely afternoon up at the university.

D– brought us dinner — Buffalo Wild Wings — then he headed home relatively early to work on a project for his mom, and T– and I spent the evening watching TV shows.

Friday was my RDO, so Friday morning when T– woke up early to run the garage sale again, I stayed in bed. I finally got up just in time to go grab some Little Caesar’s for lunch. I took AB up there with me, and then we ate together while T– was still manning the sales position outside. A few minutes before one she finally closed the sale down and came in to eat, and I headed out for a haircut.

When I got back home AB was taking a nap, so T– and I took the opportunity to work out in the garage, cleaning and rearranging all the stuff that had been used for the sale so that we could park both cars in the garage again. Then I brought my XBox and laptop out of the office (in anticipation of it being occupied for the weekend), and played some Magic while T– napped, and then switched to WoW on my laptop when AB woke up and needed the TV.

The thing about WoW…after being out of the game for six month, none of my characters are specced anymore. “Specced,” in this sense, means I haven’t spent the skill points acquired through the leveling process to customize them (choosing from among the talents that make your characters the most powerful). It’s a complicated process, and an unspecced character is essentially worthless. I’ve got three characters at 80 (maximum level), and unspecced they’re about as tough as 70s. The point of all this is that I logged into WoW Friday night, and discovered that I couldn’t really play it. To get my specs right would require literally hours of research into the newest changes to the skill trees and the most effective ways to spec to fit my playstyle. I looked around some, I logged in each of my characters just to see where they were, and then I spent about half an hour mining. That’s like logging into WoW to do chores.

So that was sobering and disappointing, after a week I’d spent gradually getting more and more excited about playing WoW again. It was not indicative of my evening, though.

T– made some fantastic barbecue chicken sandwiches for dinner. We watched some Lie to Me, and then just after we put AB to bed at nine, Julie and Carlos got in from Topeka!

Julie had a boxful of youth group photos (which I just realized I never actually looked through! Ack!), so she and T– went through those and commented while I chatted with Carlos. They’d also brought with them a couple bottles of wine from their recent trip to Napa, and we managed to empty both of those Friday night.

We got a late start, and though T– went to bed relatively early (albeit after midnight), the rest of us were up talking until after four.

Saturday morning T– got up early and discovered some of the veggies she’d bought for her special brunch dish had frozen in their drawer, so she had to go buy replacements. She took AB with her, ran up to Homeland, did some shopping, and got back to the house before any of the rest of us woke up. Then she made a goat cheese tart which tempted Carlos and Julie enough to wake them up, but I slept right through it. By all accounts, it was incredible.

I got up around noon, then ran up to McDonalds to grab some lunch for AB and me. I know, so tragic. The chicken sandwich was good, the fries weren’t. AB really enjoyed the Lego race car that came with her Happy Meal, though.

Then she went down for a nap, and T– and Julie went out in the back yard to shoot some cute maternity photos, and I showed off the XBox Magic game to Carlos. Or…used it to bore Carlos. Whatever.

When AB woke up, we all packed into the car and headed up to Guthrie for our big photoshoot. Julie’s in the process of becoming a professional photographer (although that “in the process” bit is something you’d have a hard time believing from the quality of her work), and the excuse we’d all used for their trip was to have her come shoot some maternity photos of T– and some profile photos of me for my website.

T– had recently found an old trainyard in Guthrie with some old, abandoned-looking buildings nearby that she thought might work as a good backdrop. When we got there, Julie fell instantly in love. She took three hundred photos of the three of us in just a couple hours. The settings were great, the lighting was good, and AB was remarkably cooperative. She and I finally started getting restless as the afternoon wore on, though, and between the two of us we convinced T– to take a dinner break.

We headed back to town, and took our guests to our new favorite restaurant — Mama Roja on the lake! So, yeah, that’s three times in nine days. What of it? It was fabulous, and everyone left happy.

Julie was able to point out to us the perfect lighting for photography that occurs just around dusk. That is, she was able to point it out through the window next to our booth, because there’d been something of a wait to be seated. So we watched the sun set, and didn’t get any more shots on Saturday night.

As soon as we got back to the house, Julie pulled out her laptop and got started editing. While she did that, we played them an episode of Lie to Me, and then T– regretfully admitted she was too tired to stay up, and she headed to bed.

Carlos and I spent a while talking band stuff, writing stuff, and whatnot. Then we broke into the scotch he’d brought along, and ended up sitting out on the porch sipping scotch and smoking cigars for several hours. Julie put away the laptop for a while to join us. We talked some about old times (as we’d done pretty much constantly up until that point), and then Carlos asked casually if I ever wrote any lyrics.

That became a proposition. He’s just started playing bass in a new band, and they perform only original stuff, but they don’t have a lot of songs written yet, so he was wondering if I would supply some material. By utter coincidence, I’ve been thinking much recently about trying my hand at writing songs again. So we talked about what sort of stuff he’s looking for and what sort of stuff I can do, and then I brought my laptop out on the porch and he showed me some videos of bands he’s been in and I showed him some of my best (and worst) material. When all was said and done, we both ended up incredibly excited about the opportunity to work together.

Then it got cold, and the laptop battery died, and Julie felt the itch to get back to work, so we went back inside. I put on Uncorked (or At Satchem Farm), which neither of them had seen, and fell in love with that movie all over again. Carlos was impressed with the guitar work.

It was after two when the movie ended and we went to bed. An improvement on the night before, but nothing approaching reasonable.

Sunday morning T– and AB went to church, but the rest of us slept through it.

We were all awake by the time she got home, though. She started working on lunch — her famous Tuscan chicken ring — and I ran up to the grocery store to grab some soda. By the time I got back, food was on the table.

We ate, and then we had plans to watch Nacho Libre (which our guests had never seen), but while we were waiting for T– to load the dishwasher I turned on the Rifftrax version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, just so Julie and Carlos could see how funny it was, and then by common consent we ended up watching all of that.

By the time that was done, Julie was finished with her marathon editing session, and we got to check out the photos on the TV. So good! You can see a bunch of them on T–‘s Facebook album. Julie will also do a blog post on her portfolio site sometime soon, and of course I’ll provide a link when that happens.

Anyway, we watched a slideshow of all 83 pictures (to a terribly appropriate soundtrack by Sting), and then T– decided to show Julie how Smugmug works (using my sister’s site as an example), so I put on the Cowboys preseason game from Saturday night and watched Romo tear up San Francisco.

I’m so ready for football season.

Around six we started decorating our French bread pizzas for dinner, and as soon as we were done eating we performed a quick costume change, and then headed back out to the lake for another photoshoot — this one in the prime dusk light. It went really well, and I think AB adored getting to spend so much time outside this weekend. It shows in all her smiles.

After that we drove back home and said lots of goodbyes, then Julie and Carlos got on the road back to Topeka, T– and I crashed on the couches, and we watched Psych and Leverage and Lie to Me while I tried to play WoW again. This time I focused on my Warlock, specced him on guesses (but I know my Warlock best, so they were probably pretty good guesses), and actually had a lot of fun. I ran a couple dungeons, checked out the new castle-defense battleground (way cool), and then picked up where I’d left off in questing. In that last, I remembered just how great the storyline is in Northrend (the most recent expansion), and I got excited about playing again all over again.

I finally tore myself out of that as midnight crept close, and I lay in bed for another hour before I fell asleep. This morning came too soon, and work with it, but even with the weird hours and the packed schedule, it was an awesome weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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

Journal Entry: August 24, 2009

Friday afternoon I got home in a bad mood from work, walked into the kitchen to pour myself a Coke and after a quick, “Welcome home!” T– told me a little about her day, and then said, “Oh, and I’ve got all my stuff ready.”

And the words, “Ready for what?” died on my lips. She had a crop Friday night. I’d known about it for a month. I was not in any mood to watch AB, though.

I had about half an hour to change that. Luckily, AB woke up and ran to me with a big, “Daddddy!” that did a lot to make the transition easier. Then right after T– headed to the church, D– called and asked if I wanted a snowcone, so that (and his company for the evening) helped a lot, too.

Actually, it ended up being a pretty fun night. We went up to McDonalds so AB could play in the play area, then came back home and I set her up watching videos on T–‘s laptop while D– and I broke out the Rock Band. She’d periodically throw off the headphones to come dance to our music. That was fun.

Then around bedtime I played with her a bit, put her to sleep, and then got back to rocking with D– until T– got home. At that point I seriously considered going out and wrecking another weekend with poor decision-making, but somehow overwhelmed that impulse. I watched an episode of Lie to Me with T–, and then went to bed elevenish.

Saturday morning I woke up late and mowed the lawn, and suddenly it was 1:00. I had some leftover barbecue and it was as good as new, then poked around on the computer for a few minutes, and then it was time to go.

“Time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. I threw in a bunch of modifiers there, because this was a sequel to our writer’s group last month, not to the social writing at the coffee shop last Tuesday. The follow-up to that event takes place tonight, at Full Circle Bookstore, and will likely feature many of the same people who were at the thing on Saturday. I know it’s confusing. I’ll try to come up with clear distinctions of the two things (or convince both groups to merge them into a seamless whole), but for now, you’ll have to wade through explanatory paragraphs like this one.

But, yeah, “time to go” because we had our second monthly Britton Road writer’s group on Saturday. Courtney hosted again, and I showed up a few minutes after J. T., and Shawn showed up a few minutes later. We had German Iced Tea, and gave feedback on each others’ submitted works. J. T. submitted a couple short-form poems, Courtney submitted a truly chilling short story, and Shawn submitted a one-act play that clocked in right around seven pages. Oh, and I submitted all 200-plus pages of Gods Tomorrow. Don’t judge me. That’s just who I am.

We had some great discussion, though. We talked about structured writing, and longhand drafts, and early efforts, and then spent about half our time on psychological disorders. We had an expert among us (of the “trained professional” variety, not simply “longtime sufferer”), and we ended up with some really great information.

We were done with that by 4:30, but T– had taken AB over to my little sister’s place, so I had some free time in the afternoon. I spent it playing Magic on the XBox, and pretty much stuck with that until T– put AB down for bed. Then we watched a little TV, and she went to bed, and I stayed up to play a bunch more Magic on the XBox.

Sunday morning T– took AB to a special event (along with my little sister and her girls). Unwilling to face the adversity that is Christian fellowship without the protective barrier of my perfect little family, I decided to skip church. Around 11:30 I called D– up, and we headed to Edmond to meet the girls at Jason’s Deli for lunch. It was delicious.

Then D– took me home, and I spent much of the afternoon playing Magic on the XBox. I finally had to put it away when T– invited my sister’s family over for dinner (she grilled hotdogs). While we were waiting for them to show up, I set up the Rock Band stuff, and after a quick dinner we sent the little ones to AB’s room to play, and then we spent a couple hours rocking out. That was pretty fun.

After the guests left, T– and I watched an episode of Psych, and discussed watching something else serious, but we weren’t in the mood for serious. It was late, anyway, so we gave up and went to bed.

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

Journal Entry: August 20, 2009

We had our Wednesday night meal yesterday, but K– was feeling sick so we had to get by without him and N–. My little sister requested barbecue, but we’re a pretty picky family when it comes to what barbecue we’ll eat, and the only place currently high in our esteem (Steve’s Rib) is miles and miles away.

Not far from my little sister’s house.

So she graciously offered to pick up a family pack and bring it to our place, and we had an awesome dinner. D– joined us for that, and after we’d cleared our plates D– and I got to work unpacking his newly-arrived Rock Band 2 set, including (for the first time) the wireless instruments. I also took another stab at repairing my incredibly cool drum pedal, but didn’t end up testing it last night because I wanted to give the glue lots of time to set up.

Anyway, around eight we had everything put together, and then we spent another half hour scrolling through the list of downloadable content sorting the I-love-that-song set from the I-must-have-that-song-right-this-moment set. Then D– bought all the must-haves, including something by Journey for T–.

Then we played. AB wasn’t too happy being excluded and ignored, but it’s been nine months since we’ve really played Rock Band, and we got into it. We did set up the old, wired drum set in front of the TV, lowered down to knee-height, and placed AB’s rocking chair in front of it so she could play along with us. That was pretty cute.

But yeah, that was all we did for the rest of the night. Next thing we knew, it was 10:30, and we had to make ourselves quit. Much of the conversation throughout was anticipation of the Beatles Rock Band coming out early next month. That…should be interesting.

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

Journal Entry: August 18, 2009

It’s been a while, so I need to get caught up. If you don’t want to read the big long blog post, there’s this: We had a garage sale over the weekend, and I caught a cold that lasted somewhere around 36 hours. That’s it.

Last Thursday night, my little sister came over to help T– get ready for our garage sale. They spent much of the evening organizing tables and setting out stuff and affixing price stickers. When I got home from work, T– was working in the garage and asked me to help arrange some stuff, so I spent half an hour or so dragging two sawhorses out into position, brushing off the dust and cobwebs, and then setting up our old window A/C units from the Tulsa house on them.

Those big monstrosities had been obnoxiously taking up space in our garage for most of a year, but we didn’t know how to get rid of them, so we were really hoping to sell them in the garage sale. Unfortunately, that meant I had to find some way to move them into position, and that was no small amount of work. Then I spent a little more time getting them presentable before finally wimping out with the old “it’s way too hot out here for human survival” bit and going inside.

T– and my sister followed suit before too long, and we spent most of the rest of the evening in the living room. T– kept working on getting stuff ready (and I eventually went to my office and gathered some old computer stuff to add at the last minute), and my sister set up ads on Craigslist and Facebook to get more people to come by. It was a long evening in anticipation of Friday.

Friday morning T– got up around six to open the garage sale early. I woke up…not nearly so early. I think it was around 7:30, and I got cleaned up then took AB over to Miss Becky’s house for some babysitting, then from there drove up to the car dealership in Edmond to have the new car checked out. We’d spent most of the last week noticing a strong antifreeze smell whenever we were in the car, and as it doesn’t have any sort of engine temp indicator on the dash, we figured we’d be better off just taking the car in.

I elected to hang out at the dealership while the mechanics looked the car over, and I got nearly a thousand words written in my scribblebook before the guy came by to tell me he didn’t smell anything in the car, and a quick check hadn’t revealed any leaks, so I could go home.

That was a little frustrating, since it had taken up most of my morning. But I got back to the house and learned that we’d already sold one of the air conditioners. I also found E– and N– both there keeping T– and my sister company and helping them with the garage sale. So that was nice!

I ran up to Wendy’s to grab them some lunch, and when I got back I spent some time talking with N– and playing with baby Jason while we ate, then I had to pack up pretty quickly and head up to OC, because I had some work I needed to take care of and then I needed to pick up AB from Becky’s.

At OC I got my parking decal from the security office, then dropped by IT to pick up my laptop. That “dropped by” ended up being an hour-long process, though, because we had to get the laptop set up on the network in two different operating systems and the tech had to walk me through some of the specific software I’ll need to be using. It was productive time, but an unexpected delay.

As a result I was a little late picking up AB, but Becky didn’t seem to mind. AB sure didn’t. She spent the half-hour drive home telling me how much fun she’d had, and how she was not tired and she did not need a nap. Then we got home, and she walked straight to her room and went to bed.

The garage sale was already closed down by then, so I went to the office to play some games while AB napped. Then, as afternoon rolled toward evening, we got in touch with K– and N– and invited them over for pizza and preseason football.

The pizza was better than the football. Still, it was fun in a premonitive kind of way. I can’t wait for football season to get in full swing. Anyway, K– and N– hung around until about half time. For some reason I watched the whole rest of the game after they went home. It kept me up late, and left me utterly disappointed in our third-string defense. Our backup backup quarterback looks surprisingly good, though.

Saturday, again, I got up way too early for a day off, but it was still a couple hours later than T– had gotten up. By way of making amends, I took AB with me and ran up to Panera to buy T– a cinnamon crunch bagel for breakfast. AB and I shared a bearclaw.

Speaking of AB and me…we both woke up with a cough, and a sore throat. She expressed hers with a gravelly baritone. I expressed mine with much whining.

Anyway, by early afternoon I was already feeling sickly with fever, so I put AB down for a nap and then went to the office to play Fallout and ended up taking a nap of my own. That lasted a little over an hour before my brother-in-law called me up and said he wanted to try playing Magic over Xbox Live, and that turned out to be pretty fun.

I’d made plans to get together with some other people from my writing group at a coffee shop Saturday night, but around five, driving up to Taco Bueno to grab some dinner for T–, I decided with some confidence that it wasn’t going to happen. I forgot to call D–, though, so he showed up right after dinner only for me to tell him I was sick, and he should go somewhere else. He went to see The Goods which, he tells me, wasn’t.

I spent the evening lying around, then eventually went back to the office to play some more Magic, and while I was doing that my brother-in-law joined in again. Between my afternoon nap and my non-drowsy decongestant, I wasn’t close to tired, so we ended up playing until two in the morning. When I finally went to bed, I still couldn’t sleep.

Sunday morning I woke up around eight when AB jumped up onto the bed next to me, but I just gave her a hug and fell right back to sleep. I woke up again around eleven, and then again around noon when T– called to tell me they were headed to Olive Garden for lunch. I passed on that opportunity, but a few minutes later K– called to ask if I could help him hang a swing in his back yard. He had helped immensely when I hung AB’s in our yard, so I didn’t want to tell him no. I warned him I could be contagious, but he didn’t seem too concerned.

So I drove up to Edmond, and learned when I got there that his tallest ladder on its tallest setting was about five feet too short to reach the limb he wanted to hang the swing from. For a moment I thought that meant I had wasted a drive to Edmond, but he quickly set me straight. Instead, it just meant that we had to get creative.

Before everything was said and done we were chucking tethered wrenches over tree limbs twenty feet up and tying nooses. It was a good ol’ Sunday afternoon in the midwest. The swings turned out nicely, though, and it really only took a couple hours.

On the drive home I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner Thursday, but I really didn’t feel hungry. I got to the house and told T– about hanging the swings and then played with AB a little bit when she woke up from her nap, and then as evening rolled in we started talking about dinner and none of us really had any strong feelings on the matter.

Around seven I called up D– to ask what he’d had, just for extra ideas, and he said he’d been wrestling with what to eat, too. So I had him come pick me up and we stopped by Homeland to pick up some microwave popcorn for T– (the choice she finally settled on), and then we drove up to Johnny’s for a couple Theta Burgers and fries. That hit the spot.

After dinner D– went home, and T– and I watched a little TV before retiring relatively early.

Monday morning I woke up and felt completely better. Immune-wise, anyway. Obviously I wasn’t too thrilled about having to go back to work. Still, it pays the bills.

I spent the day doing excessively boring things, then got home and worked out while T– and AB were at the grocery store. Afterward we had dinner, and I scheduled another writing-at-the-coffee-shop (I’m calling it social writing) for Tuesday night, hoping I could stay well and a little bit of advance notice would garner a bigger turnout.

T– made chicken crescent squares for dinner — one of her specialties — and after AB went to bed we watched the first episode of Lie to Me. That’s one D– recommended to us months ago, and it was a good recommendation. We really enjoyed it.

Still dragging a bit, we went to bed pretty early Monday night, but didn’t get a lot of sleep. A thunderstorm rolled in around two, and that kept AB awake all night, and she kept us awake.

As a result of the long night, I woke up late. T– and I had already had plans to meet for lunch, so I just called my supervisor and told him to expect me after lunch, and took the morning off. I spent some time in the kitchen putting together my chili fixins for supper, and then got some paperwork taken care of in the office, and then we went up to Schlotzky’s for lunch. It wasn’t a terribly exciting morning, but it was pretty pleasant.

Then I spent the afternoon at work doing some excruciatingly boring stuff, which was interrupted by an unexpected summons to give a presentation to a packed conference room and try to explain to them the excruciatingly boring stuff I’d been doing.

I survived that, and got out of there just in time to head home. Five minutes into my commute, though — just as I turned onto I-44 northbound — I ran into standstill traffic and heard a traffic report explaining that a semi had knocked over a power pole and there were power lines down across the highway about a mile north of where I was, so they’d closed the highway. The recommendation that commuters find an alternate route didn’t really do me much good by that point. So instead of half an hour it took me an hour and a half to get home.

My angel of a wife had dinner ready when I walked in the door, though, and it was one of my favorites. D– joined us for that, too, but then headed home right afterward. T– and AB went to Hobby Lobby with my little sister, and I headed to the coffee shop for my scheduled social writing.

I’d said it would be seven to ten, but I overestimated the distance from my house, so I actually got there twenty minutes early. That turned out to be a good thing, though, because the place was pretty packed. I snagged a spot, and dragged out my scribblebook, and got nearly a thousand words written before Courtney showed up. A few minutes later Becca showed up, too, and we moved to a newly-free table so they could plug in their laptops.

We didn’t really do any writing after that, but it was a fun evening. Becca’s been working on her novel for several months now, but it’s the first major writing work she’s done, and this was our first opportunity to really talk about it. I’d been looking forward to that conversation, but I think it probably went a lot better with Courtney there too, giving another experienced angle. I just hope it wasn’t too overwhelming.

Still, the mentoring bit only lasted ten to twenty minutes, and then it was just discussion of all our roadblocks for most of the rest of the evening. Both of them happened to be struggling getting into the heads of their major male characters, and I think I was able to provide some useful insights on that topic. We talked a lot about vampires, too, and psychopaths and sociopaths, and the challenge of writing easy dialog. Writer stuff.

Then around 9:20 the proprietor quite politely kicked us out, so he could go pick up his brother-in-law (returning home from a deployment to Iraq) from the airport. How could we object to that? Before we split up we decided to try another one at 50 Penn Place next Monday, but before that rolls around I’ve got another official Writer’s Group meeting on Saturday.

My life is just too busy. Courtney asked me last night how many projects I’m working on, and after some consideration I believe I have five active, unfinished novels, and five finished ones that need immediate, extensive rewrites. So call that ten big writing projects, with numberless others waiting in the wings.

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