Journal Entry: April 15, 2009

Last Thursday night I got home from work and did my workout, then T– and I watched TV for a while waiting to hear from D– about possibly babysitting AB. He got caught up with a work event, though, so once we learned he wasn’t going to make it, we packed up AB and took her out with us. We dropped her at my sister’s place, and then headed to Kohl’s for some much-needed wardrobe updates.

We both got some nice new clothes. It was nine by the time we picked up AB, and then another half hour home, so she was completely out by the time we put her in bed. Then I did a little writing (I think), and headed to bed early.

Friday morning was my RDO, but I woke up at six so I could get in my workout before we headed out of town. It was tough, with the shorter recovery period, and I spent most of the six hour drive regretting it because my back and legs were incredibly sore in the cramped car. I distracted myself by writing for the first half of the drive, though, and by driving for the second half. In that first half I got 1500 words done, though, which is a good day’s output.

We grabbed a light lunch at McDonalds in Fort Smith, and got to Little Rock a little after two. Mom had a spread out for lunch, so we ate a little more. That was after saying hi to all the family, of course, which included my older sister and all her family, and my uncle Eric and his, who were on their way to Harding for Spring Sing (or something like that).

After we got the luggage in, I spent most of the afternoon hiding downstairs, talking with Jeff and Graham while they played WoW. It was a pretty brutal weekend to have my account inactive, and Graham spent all three days offering to pay for me to reactivate it, but I just can’t afford the distraction. It would have been a lot of fun to have it live for those three days, but even if I’d cancelled it on Sunday it would still be active for another twenty-eight days, and I just don’t have the willpower to resist that temptation. So I went with the ounce of prevention, and just stayed away from my computer all weekend.

For dinner Friday, Graham and I ran up to Whole Hog to pick up some barbecue. I’ve had it before, and theirs is easily as good as Steve’s Rib’s. It was awesome. Afterward the guys went back downstairs to play some more WoW, and I sat in the living room with T– watching High School Musical. It was awful.

Saturday morning the girls (and by that I meant every female in the house, which was a huge number) got up earlyish and went to do a photoshoot of the kids. By the time I woke up, Dad and Jeff were already playing WoW downstairs, so I grabbed a quick shower and then joined them in time to take over Dad’s character so he could get ready.

While we were doing that, Granddad wandered downstairs (he’d been watching the coverage of the boat captain held captive by Somalian pirates on the news, as he had no interest in WoW). He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and said, “I was wondering…how would you boys like to spend the afternoon doing some manual labor?” We managed not to laugh at the question, and then not to groan at the details when he told us what he had in mind.

Then we got a call from the girls asking us to meet them on the other side of town for lunch, so I took over Jeff’s character while he got ready, and then we rushed out the door.

Lunch was El Chico’s, and we had fifteen people at the table, counting the kids. The kids had already been treated to ice cream as a reward for a fantastic photo shoot (and you should see the pictures of AB; she’s adorable), and AB was asleep in T–‘s lap when I showed up at the restaurant. The rest of us had some pretty good Mexican, though.

We went home, and I headed to the bedroom so I could put AB down for a nap when she showed up, but I fell asleep before that happened. I slept about an hour, then T– came to tell me Granddad and Dad were back from Lowe’s with the wood, and I was expected outside.

Dad’s got a failing privacy fence, and Granddad’s big plan for the afternoon was to fix it. Pretty much all of the cross-pieces are rotting out, but in some places they were bad enough that they’d pulled free from the uprights, so he had whole sections tilting drunkenly away from the fence. They’re not too far off from selling the house, so Mom and Dad had pretty much decided to just leave the fence as it was for now and then get a new one put up when they were ready to put it on the market. Granddad just didn’t like the look of it, though, so he chastised all of us into getting outside and doing some real work.

It was, too. They bought new wood for the cross-pieces, but our goal was to salvage what we could of the the slats. So we started out with the demolition, removing the slats carefully and then ripping the old cross-pieces off the uprights. Then Dad and Granddad got to work cutting new cross-pieces and putting them in place, while Jeff and I did what we could to nail the slats back up to cover the gaps.

Problem was, a lot of the slats were unusable, and in places trees had grown up to bulge the fence out so there was nothing we could do there. In the end, we spent three and a half hours working on it, and the best I can say is that it ended up looking better. There’s still just as many gaps in the fence, and just as big, but instead of sections tilting drunkenly, there are nice, clean holes missing slats (which, to be fair, will be easy enough for Mom and Dad to fill in over another weekend).

Anyway, it wasn’t a lot of fun.

For dinner we had leftovers, and then the rest of them went to the dining room to play dominos while T– and I watched High School Musical 2. It was terrible.

Sunday was Easter. We somehow got three families ready for church in time for class, which Dad was teaching. He gave his take on Pentecost, which I know is one of his favorite Bible stories. My older sister’s family weren’t there for class (or they were in another class, I don’t know which), but when they showed up for service and T– and my younger sister picked up their kids from class, we ended up with more than a full pew’s worth, and it was a bustling, rambunctious crowd. (I refer, of course, to the children.)

Anyway, it was wild, and during service the storms came in so when I ran out to the car to pick up T– and AB, I got drenched just crossing the parking lot. Then I had to sit ten minutes waiting to get out of my parking spot, because of all the other devoted husbands waiting in a long line to pick up their wives at the covered entrance. I spent another five minutes or so in the line, and then T– finally just scooped up AB and rushed out to meet me rather than wait for our turns, which probably saved us another fifteen minutes. It was nuts.

We spotted Granddad waiting under the awning and unsure where he’d parked, so we picked him up, too, and drove around the church until we found his truck, then said a quick goodbye before he headed back to Longview.

Then back to the house for a big Easter feast — ham and mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and salad, and a cherry cheesecake for Graham’s birthday. Uncle Eric and his crew were back, too, so we had a busy table. After we’d all had our fill, the kids were chased from the dining room and the grown-ups hid a couple hundred candy-filled eggs around the room for them. I’m sure sad sighs were sighed by some of the moms who were hoping for bright spring photos of kids romping around the yard, but it was black with rain outside, so the living room had to do. I don’t think the kids gave it any thought, though, because they still got their candy.

Of course, some of them were more anxious than others. AB and several of the others found a cache of Easter candy in the living room while the adults were hiding eggs, and broke into it. Sophie and Lola ended up wandering the house waving their suckers around proudly, like magic wands, which is how they got caught, but AB spent the whole time crouched in a corner behind the candy basket, unwrapping chocolates and stuffing her face. I’m so proud.

They didn’t get to eat any of their egg candy after that, but they still got to gather a bunch of it, and AB won me quite a bit of jelly beans. Good for her!

As soon as that was done we set to work packing the car, and we slipped out a little bit before three. The weather was still ugly, but the warnings were all past and we didn’t really have any trouble on our drive. We got home around eight, and I dropped the girls off then headed up to Taco Bell to get us some dinner.

Something was wrong in their system, because it took me over a half an hour to get through the drive-through line, and there were only about four or five cars in the line before me — just one between me and the menu board. I never figured out what the problem was, but during the long idle, in the hot, humid weather, my car overheated. It was scary, and I was worrying I wouldn’t get home, but it seems to have been an environmental rather than a mechanical problem. I just shut the car off completely while waiting my turn at the window, turning it on just to roll forward every five minutes or so, and that was enough to cool it back off. I’ve been watching it since, but haven’t seen any problems.

Anyway. Dinner at 8:40, then we put AB to bed, and then I went back to my office for forty minutes on the elliptical. After that I’d intended to type up some of the writing I’d done in my scribblebook over the weekend, but I just decided to go to bed instead.

Monday I made it to work on time, and got a good day’s work done. Then I got home and worked out, making it my fifteenth in a row (if you count the three and a half hours swinging a hammer on Saturday, which I do). T– picked up some Mazzio’s for us for dinner, including a small veggie pizza for D–, who stuck around after dinner to watch some TV with us. We caught 30 Rock from last week, but the rest of our Thursday night shows had been preempted by coverage of the wildfires, so we switched to newer fare and watched The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.

By then it was about nine, so D– headed home and I went back to the office to write. I finished up chapter nine (which mostly consisted of transcribing from my scribblebook), then headed to bed.

Tuesday I got some frustrating news at work. The only other writer on our documentation team has been overwhelmed with projects for nearly a year now (during which time I’ve been pressing for a couple new hires and my Branch Manager has consistently responded, “I agree completely, but we’re too busy with other things right now”). Anyway, she finally told our supervisor that she can’t handle the workload, so he’s going to be handing some of it off to me. That’s all stuff I’m qualified to do, and it’s within my job description, but I’ve been working above my job description for two years now and angling for a promotion to reflect that. This move will definitely put a big dent in that effort. And, of course, it means I’ll be spending a lot more of my time working on less interesting projects. Lame.

Anyway, frustrating day at work. I got home and did my workout (day sixteen), and then T– made us some chicken fried rice for dinner (fantastic) while an exterminator we’d hired did an inspection of the house and told us we had termites in addition to the bugs we already knew about, and the total cost of cleaning up our place was going to come to about $550 (not fantastic). We’d basically just brought him out to spray the foundation for a cool C note, but no. Now we’ve got a contract and quarterly payments and ugh.

After all that I didn’t feel much up to writing, so we watched Castle and Chuck and Rules of Engagement, and then I went to bed early.

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