Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fancy Nancy and the Four-Year-Old

Life with kids is never dull. :)

Just as Boy Wonder is mostly getting his behavioral act together, Our Little Princess has turned four. We are not so very amused about four. The kids have cousins who turned four within just a few weeks of the Princess's Birthday. Their parents are not amused by four either. The complete stranger that I met at The Learning Palace with twins is not so much amused by four. Four is not that much fun. We would like to go back to three or skip to five now, thankyouverymuch.

Four is filled with sass and attitude and even more independence than three. Fortunately, for us, four is also filled with cuteness, cuddliness, and a thought-process that never ceases to amaze. Our four-year-old can solve most problems for you - just ask and a creative, if not practical, solution will be offered. Our Princess also has a great vocabulary - tossing around words like "flabergasted," "apprehensive," and "hideous." We've found that she is learning some of these words from her tv shows. Nice that they are educational, right? She also learns them from her Fancy Nancy books. She only has one or two right now, but we've read a couple in stores. We were hoping she might get one for her birthday that we talked her out of buying "just in case," but I suspect we will eventualy have to get it. The book she fell in love with was "Bonjour, Butterfly." Now that I look at other titles though, I think the perfect one for her might be Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words. It seems to be on a pretty good Sale at Buy.com, and we do love getting presents in the mail.

I suspect Little Miss Four would love learning all of the fancy words and inserting them into her vocabulary. Fancy Nancy not only uses big, fancy words, but she explains what they mean so the readers (or listeners) will know. In some ways, the books are a little irritating, but I think it is just that they are SOOOOOOO girly-girl, which is exactly what our girly-girl loves about them.

I have to admit, books are one thing that are really hard to say "no" to when the kids ask. Now that Boy Wonder sometimes reads bedtime stories to his little sister, I do not regret any of our book purchases or time spent reading together. I can see it paying off, and it is amazing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Framed! (Just the memories.)

"So, this is Spring Break," she said, staring out the window of her office into the gloomy, rain-soaked cement courtyard. Around her was spread out law review articles, snippets of Supreme Court cases, an Immigration Law syllabus, various pens, paper, and highlighters, and of course, the trusty laptop.

Spring Break has become more like Spring Catch-Up, and neither me nor my family is enjoying it much. Fortunately tomorrow we are going to get out of town for a few days to visit Wife's family and celebrate kids' birthdays, so maybe that will provide a little much needed escape.

I'm almost done with my half workday so I can switch to homework. I'm in the midst of a HUGE research paper that I never should have gotten myself into, but did. I'm staring at my digital picture frame, which tells the story of a couple of snowy days back in December. At the time, we thought it was a decent amount of snow, but compared to what followed, it was nothing. Still, I love the way the pictures move from one to the next, showing the first bits of snowfall, the kids playing in it, the small snowman that was later built, and the creation of snow angels. I see now how a person could carefully load the pictures in a particular order to really tell the story in an artful way, like we do for the "movie" slideshows Wife and I have made for each other for computer playback. Of course, those have music, so are much more powerful, but these silent shows have their own beauty.

I remember when the digital frames first came out. They were so expensive! I had one coworker with one that I just loved. Now you can get a good digital picture frame on Sale for under $50. The one I linked to above is only $33 with free shipping. Can't beat that. Truthfully, I know nothing about the brand, but even the low end ones these days seem pretty decent, especially if it is just to have at work as a nice distraction and reminder of what is important.

Perhaps in the next couple of weeks I will switch my silent show from snowtime to springtime. Bring on the sunny days!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Drives and Backing up...

Yesterday at work I was without access to all of my drives. Yes. All. Even my C://drive. How does that happen? Actually about half of us were without drives. (Not to be confused with lacking drive...) Without even our c://drive no applications would open, there was no desktop access, there was very little productivity.

I did have my laptop and switched back and forth between work work (phone calls and email) and school work. Thank goodness for my lovely little pen drive. How much do we love these handy, dandy lifesavers? The cost of these fabulous creatures had been reduced drastically - like the one you'll see if you click on the link above is under $9 for 4GB (Sale price). You can store a ton of stuff in your pocket to transfer between one computer and another for that price. In fact, they have come down in price enough
that they make great back-up storage.

When our friends from California visited us last week, we discussed backing up our law school notes and papers....on Webdisk, on pen drives, as a different name on the same computer....etc. We've all heard horror stories of someone's computer crashing just before finals, and there went all their notes....

Why was I writing about this? Oh, right....because today my drives are back and now I am a very appreciative worker bee. I LOVE having access to all my drives, my applications, being able to send attachments with my emails...fun, fun, fun! We all need a day like that to show us how much we are at the mercy of our computers, and the ITG folks. They never should have laid off so many people that do tech support....

Monday, March 16, 2009

The L Word - Longing for More

For those who have been following my blog for the past 3+ years (bless you!), you may have noticed that I have been suspiciously quiet about The L Word this season. Yes. As always, I have enjoyed it and I am sad to say, the series finale has come and gone. This season was certainly not as good as the others, in most respects. The entire premise of the season was just a set up for a spin-off that producer Ilene Chaiken hopes to sell to Showtime and develop another series.

The season focused on "Who killed Jenny Schecter," one of the main characters. Each new episode featured another of the main characters developing motive to kill Jenny, and vocalizing the threat. Many of the actions are out of character, and the situations overly contrived. Jenny's behavior went completely over-the-top.

OK - maybe that does happen to people. I want to give Ilene the benefit of the doubt. After all, she put lesbians into prime time, and made us sexy, successful and multifaceted. She created a family of characters that tons of people have blogged about, many Internet communities thrived on, and people are still talking about, even if it is in a negative, I-can't-believe-you-ended-the-show-this-way way.

What way would that be? She did not tell us who the murderer was, and claims to not even know herself. Fancying myself somewhat of a writer - I kind of understand this. Sometimes the story itself takes over, and presents its own answers, and maybe that just didn't happen. Maybe it will happen after an innocent woman goes to jail. Maybe we will get to find out how it all unravels because Showtime is now providing via the Internet the murder interrogation tapes, post-series finale, for us to all absorb. This involves loyal fans watching favorite friends say things totally out-of-character, thus ruining a bit of the integrity of the show...but still....we hang on...and we watch....and we wait for the movie...because, by God, there might eventually be another series with lesbians on TV.

This really has been ground-breaking television. It is the first series to focus around lesbians - their lives, their friends, their careers - just life, same as most shows, but without the heterosexual couples. It was done in a big, glamorous way, removed a bit from reality so as to entertain and filled with lots of eye candy, sure to make viewers, gay and straight, happy. So far, a 5-season boxed set of The L Word is on sale at various places. Presumably, in the fall, the 6th and final season will be added.

We own the first four seasons, so eventually will have to get the other two. For me, this is really a must-have for my DVD collection. It will be interesting to look back in 10 years and see what has changed, beyond hair styles and fashions. Hopefully, by then, there will have been many more lesbian-focused series, and we'll be saying, "Remember when this was the first?"

Ilene has been a role model for me, and though many people are quite upset by what she did to her show, the genius is that she had a show for 6 seasons that she could manipulate as she so desired. The ratings were so good that Showtime kept the show on for 6 seasons, and has agreed to a movie piloting the next possible show. She developed characters that we loved, and hated, and lusted after, and cried for - we were all along for the ride. What writer doesn't want to create a reality so powerful that people get angry when the characters do not act in accord with their personality, or who protest when someone dies, or is outraged when a couple breaks up? This is success. Ilene deserves huge credit for the world she created and for her part in advancing lesbian visability.

I Won't Need Sunscreen

Spring Break. It conjures up images of the beach, volley ball, sunscreen and too much alcohol. Wait...maybe that is just MTV. When you are a law student "spring break" tends to conjure up images of outlining, researching and paper writing. Cr*p - who signed up for this deal?

Somehow we got this far in the semester and I've not outlined anything. I have kept up on my reading and for at least one class, that is a HUGE requirement because it all builds on each other and won't make any sense unless you keep up. Still....I need to spend a couple days playing Review What I've Learned and a couple days doing some serious paper writing. It will be so great to have my paper DONE!

So, though there may be cheap travel insurance available, I don't think I will need it this spring break. A quick driving trip up to see Wife's family and celebrate birthdays is about as far as we'll be adventuring. At least we will save money on sunscreen.

Thinking About Vacations

Did anyone see Private Practice this past week? I will admit that it is one of shows that we record and watch later, and really, it is mostly fluff and eye-candy. It has gotten substantively better this season as compared with last, but still....it is mostly pretty doctors deciding with whom they should have sex, and somewhere along the way saving, or losing, patients.

Anyway, in last week's episode, one of the main characters is making vacation plans for her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. She's surfing the web and a co-worker sees the beautiful tropical pictures on her screen and declares it "vacation porn." How accurate is that?! Haven't we all spent at least some time drooling over the destinations we lust after?

I saw a great shot for Machu Picchu travel just last week. I once interviewed a woman who had just gotten back from Machu Picchu for an article I was writing and I've been in love with the idea of going there ever since. Natural beauty combined with history and timeless mystery. Sounds good, doesn't it? Of course, right now, a few days ANYWHERE away from the work and stress of real life sounds good.

Friends from the Blogosphere

On Friday we had some Blogger friends (Hi Audra and Dylan)that we'd never met in real life before stop by our house. It was fun meeting them in person, and we all had an easy, casual time, which is what you hope for in these situations, but it doesn't always happen.

The kids showed off as they always do when we have visitors - playing fashion show and various other things while we watched on and tried to have adult conversations. Eventually the kids found a nice balance betweent their own games and letting us talk...I think it happened shortly after I put pizza in front of the kids. :)

Dylan is also in law school, so eventually conversation rolled around to that topic. Just before we bored our partners into comas, Wife and Audra left the room to have their own conversation that centered around NOT law school. We were all entertained and engrossed in good conversation, so a good time was had by all.

Our friends were on a vacation, which we both agree is a great idea. Where is the toll free number where we can get one of those? I suspect a good vacation is some months away for us....but maybe we'll enjoy a mini-vacation or two here and there to keep us sane.

No time for rest

Things sure have gotten busy. Have I mentioned that I was stupid enough to get myself into a paper class my last semester? Yes, it's true and it is sucking up SO MUCH TIME, as paper classes tend to do. Granted, paper classes tend to be where I learn a lot and it is some of the most interesting time spent...but the time is inversely proportional to the amount of credit earned. That means there are other classes to be fretting over and studied for. Where has the time gone?

OK, this is no time to stress out. Maybe a nice little nap on the just-right mattress I'd like to buy from the discount furniture store or some such place, would be good. Nap, study, nap, study...oh, right, work. There is that...and there are these little kids running around my house making napping nearly impossible. Well, it is a nice fantasy.

Back to my regularly scheduled life.....

Friday, March 06, 2009

Of Carpets and Dr. Seuss

There are advantages to rarely being at home during daylight hours. The first, and perhaps most important, is that you don't notice how dirty the dogs and cats have gotten the carpet. I went home part-way through the day yesterday so I could study, hang out with the dogs that have been left alone much of the week because Wife has been busy with the Book Fair at Boy Wonder's school, and be ready to enjoy Dr. Seuss Night (also at the school) that evening.

I cleaned the carpets only a few weeks ago, but already they don't look so great, and the spots of cat throw up donot helped. (Thanks anyway, girls!) YUCK. Maybe we need one of the powerful steam cleaners, rather than a fairly simple and inexpensive carpet cleaner. I certainly know why Wife wants us to get the carpets professionally done, but I just can't see doing it right now, with the spring rains about to start and our backyard already looking like a giant mud puddle. Perhaps we should wait until warmer, drier weather sets in.

As a follow up - Dr. Seuss night was fun for all, the kids both came home with their faces painted and carrying more spoils from the Book Fair, which has been a huge success this week. Be sure to check out Wife's blog.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

(Nearly) Have Degree - Will Travel (Not)

A couple days ago I heard two day students talking (I make the distinction because they are generally younger, have less responsibilities, have the luxury of participating in whatever activities and clerkships they are fortunate enough to qualify for, and often have somwhat different priorities than the majority of evening students) about where they want to work.

"I'll go wherever the jobs are."

"I hear there are still firms hiring in Texas."

As the discussion went on, they were pretty sure the jobs were not in a cool part of Texas, but were probably in some barren wasteland devoid of all culture and real opportunity. I guess they could have hopped on the Internet and checked out some job sites. Maybe there are good opportunities in San Antonio or Dallas. I imagine Dallas resumes would look pretty much the same as those you'd send to New York, Seattle, or LA. It must be nice to have the flexibility to be able to move wherever will be best for your career. One of the guys was talking about going to another country to practice International Law.

I have to say, as exciting as moving might be to provide opportunity, Wife and I are at a point in our lives we'd like to stay close to family. It's important to us, and good for the kids. Besides, we already live in what is arguably the best part of the country now - mild weather, very few natural disasters, very few dangerous (poisonous) insects or reptiles, it is a beautiful environment, lots of "green" people into recycling and doing good things for the earth, largely Democrats, fairly supportive of gay rights and progressive legislation. Finding a good job here will be just right for our family.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Spinning Positive

OK, folks, I think it is time for some positivity. Everywhere we turn these days there is depressing news, people are worried, scared, and spreading their fears and depression like wildfire. I heard on a talk radio show the other day where a top economist was asked when we'd see a turn-around in the economy. He said not to ask him, but to instead ask a psychologist. He believed that much of what will get us out of this bad economy are our own attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.

Is will certainly take more than just one person being positive - it requires our entire culture, or at least, a fair portion of it. We have to believe that good things will happen, spread encouragement and enthusiasm, and then be brave enough to try new things rather than hoping the same old ways of doing things are going to produce different results.

For myself, I am going to be conscious of focusing on all of the positive things in my life and how grateful I am for them. I have a wonderful Wife, amazing children, a nice home, a good job, family health insurance, food in the refrigerator, loving furry members of our family, the opportunity to go to law school, all of us are relatively healthy, and so much more.

When negativity is ruling, all of those things may seem to have a down side, or something that is difficult to deal with sometimes, but looked at in a positive light - they are amazing things that so many people do not have and I am grateful for everything good that is in my life.

Everything but the kitchen sink?

I need to clean out my wallet. Let me be clear, the money is already gone, but still it is so stuffed with business cards, membership cards, coupons, loose change, notes and I-don't-know-what-all that it is literally falling apart. What is really sad is the fact that I don't even carry the majority of the "stuff" that goes in a wallet. Wife carries WAY MORE than I do. Her wallet is at least 2x bigger than mine. Several years back I got rid of almost everything in my wallet. I was only going to carry my license, cash card, insurance cards and that was about it. Somehow, much of it has crept back in, but when I think about it, how often do I actually reference any of the non-essential material? Not much, and yet, there it is. I can't help but think that I am not the only one afflicted by this problem. There is probably money to be made helping people clean out and organize their wallets, similar to the people that help you organize your home. Hey! That's what I can do if this law thing doesn't work out. Wait...let me find my card....