Thursday, October 12, 2017

Six Years?

October 12, 2011. She arrived.

And embarked on her path toward world domination. Delaney is six today. She's fierce, funny, very smart, thoughtful and inquisitive, and an all-around delightful kid. Who has her first professional head shot already.

Her dance studio team has professional head shots. She's on the junior team, but still, they have head shots and a team jacket, and this is a thing. At SIX. I can't imagine doing this at six a thousand years ago when I was six. There was dance school stuff, yes, but not at this level, and I never did it.

And she LOVES THIS SO MUCH, it's her passion. She choreographs herself to any music she hears, she'll get up and dance to anything with a beat, she can't help herself. Her parents are supportive but not pushing; no stage mom/dad there. They are just along for the ride. If she gets tired of it and wants to do karate or chess, they'd be fine with that, but it appears that she is a dancer. She already announced that she wants to become one of the big girls who help with the little kids at the studio.

Oh and just BTW, she's also a Girl Scout.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I just cannot even - UPDATED

I have a rant that is entirely unrelated to the end of America as we know it, or maybe not, too soon to tell. Today the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would "allow" girls to join! OMG!!! Girls don't have to have their own amazing, empowering girl-focused organization called the GIRL SCOUTS! Oh, why settle for that, when now they can join "separate but equal" (the initial concept is gendered Cub dens) groups in an organization that has been very obviously geared toward boys (and increasingly tied to Christian churches) since its inception.

The Girls Scouts are politely, professionally pissed, baby, and righteously so. This is a devaluing of girls, and I'm pissed as hell, and hoping this concept crashes and burns hard and fast, as I think it will. Girl Scouts are about girls, and the organization has evolved into a really cool 21st century organization that offers badges in stuff like cybersecurity, and has a social conscience. There is absolutely nothing girls can get from the BSA that they can't get from their own, existing scouting organization, except that preparation for playing second fiddle to the boys. So I'm annoyed with the BSA's move, but anticipate it failing quietly and being abandoned in a year. But I'm offended by the idea that the BSA thought this was something the public was clamoring for, because at the heart of this vote is the concept that the Boy Scouts are THE official face of Scouting, and Girl Scouts are second class, and basically, it just doesn't get more blatantly misogynist than that.

And my daughter has followed her mother's path as Seriously Overscheduled Working Mom Willing to Be Troop Leader for Delaney's Daisy troop, and their first meeting is this Saturday.
And Grandma/former Daisy leader is going to do the security check so I can tag along on field trips if they sound fun I'm needed. It took this dick move by the BSA to make me a gung-ho Girl Scout Grandma.

Thanks to Kimmen for this Girls, Don't Become Boy Scouts. What she said.


Delaney's Endless F*cking Blanket shall not defeat me. I'm about, oh, three more rows of stripes from done:

But those stripes are getting really long. Like, really long. I'm happy with how it's turning out, though. I was skeptical about her color selection at first, it seemed pretty garish, but I have to admit it's pretty now. The dark stripe is actually purple, though it photographed more like navy blue. As summer refuses to let go here and the heat index is still over 100 working on this for her is truly a labor of love, or insanity. Even with the AC running full blast, it's a sweaty job.

So far, my great ambitions for October haven't panned out as I'd hoped. September and Irma drained my energy and my bank account, but things are looking up. I finally caved and downloaded You Need a Budget and have been playing with it, getting it set up. I'm still figuring it out, but it does seem fun to use. I've had a Mint account for years and sort of carried my budget around in my head and that has worked okay...sort of...but I'm determined to get more specific about my money management. September was an expensive month in so many ways, thanks IRMA, that it left me stressed and depressed about my cash flow issues. So, yesterday I decided to call my mortgage company about a forbearance - because we are officially a disaster area (the entire country is at this point, I swear) I could get a short term waiver of my mortgage payments.

I called my mortgage company to ask, expecting them to waive a month or two at most, and expecting it to be a more onerous process, and in five minutes flat I got a four month break from payments! It truly was a load off my mind, because after AC repair and replacing ALL the food in the fridge and the garage door is still stuck shut and I can't fix it myself and still have to call a's been a barrage of unexpected expenses I'm still struggling to absorb. My emergency funds are seriously depleted, my Discover card balance is alarmingly high, and I know I came out of this relatively unscathed. I know people dealing with serious structural damage to their homes who are getting the runaround from insurance and FEMA, so I'm not complaining, just working through the issues.

And that's where YNAB comes in, though I am still finding it confusing at the moment. They really do have an extensive support system, including lots of webinars, and I'm taking advantage of those. I'll figure it out, and I do think it will be really helpful in a way Mint is not. Mint is more hands-off; it's a quick overview of account balances and such, and you CAN make a budget in it, but you can't quickly adjust money between categories. Once I get YNAB figured out and set up properly I think it'll actually be fun to use, and I never thought I'd use "budgeting" and "fun" in the same sentence, but so far I'm actually enjoying figuring it out.

And I guess it says something about my life at the moment that I find budgeting software "fun." I need a better definition of fun, don't I?

Monday, October 02, 2017

Bookbub and Bullet Journals

Gae - I thought it might have been you but wasn't sure! I'm forcing myself to ignore their daily emails of freebies and bargains unless they offer something I had already wanted to read, because I now have a stockpile of e-books that will last me well into next year! Thanks!! (I don't really want to strangle you.)

Caroline - I have been wrestling with the "Pinterest version" of bullet journals, and decided that the one I launched in September is my test drive model. I'm already deciding that mine will never be artsy. Oh, I fell for the Pinterest images and of course loved the idea of stencils and colors and cuteness, but all that is optional and I must accept that I have the artistic talent of a loaf of bread. Seriously, I even find stencils challenging. But I do like having an index so I can find important things again without flipping pages, and a daily to-do and notes, and every day my ideas for my test drive journal get simpler. I did create pages to track yoga (because I'm trying to get my practice back in gear), steps (because I'm doing a Couch to 5k, so Steps will morph into actually training), books to read (see, ahem, Bookbub), and realized while I was doing it I needed a Sophie page, which is a very simple "date of last nail trim/anal gland squeeze" and date of last heartworm dosage. I struggle to track those. I really don't need any flash, and I don't need to track my hydration, my moods, or much of anything else.

I think eventually, and certainly by January, this will distill itself into a few indexed pages and a lot of daily to-dos and reminders and lots of notes, and I do like the flexibility of writing a half page of notes or three pages, as the spirit moves me. I have indexed my Irma pages, for instance, and an overall index for pages covering September. I know it has already made me more focused on things that otherwise went neglected/undone. Of all the blogs, pins, You Tube videos, you name it on the topic, the book that actually gave me comfort and direction was Dot Journaling. I understand the original creator of the bullet journal's very streamlined, terse, "bullet" system, but if you're fond of using more words and not particularly interested in getting artsy with it, or even if you are, this book has some good ideas about how to combine a more traditional journal with the bullet journal concept and emphasizes doing it your way. I think eventually I'll end up with various to-do lists, trackers, and reminders, interspersed with rambling notes. The thing that ties it all together is really the index. You can use a few symbols, or make up your own. (I still find the X in front of a finished task less satisfying than crossing it off, and seriously, you can still read it when you draw a line through it, and for me that X is bullshit.) I do find the idea of "migrating" tasks both annoying to do and helpful to do, because I don't lose track of things. And I do like the flexibility vs. a pre-printed planner. Very few pre-printed planners include a page for tracking last date of the dog's anal gland cleaning. Otherwise, I'm very not fancy with mine. I did start grabbing a red pen to note things that I NEED TO DO NOW!! And so far I've used it once, when I had to get my real estate license continuing ed finished and filed in a post-hurricane rush, but that's as far as I've taken it. We'll see if I expand to other colors for other purposes. :-) Basically, you can go as crazy as you want to with this concept, but you don't HAVE to. You can keep it as basic as the original version, or go Full Pinterest and track your every passing thought with pastel butterflies and clouds, and draw water bottles to track hydration, and, no, just no. I don't think in terse bullet points OR pastel butterflies, so I'm doing a practical, messy ME version.

I stayed home sick today. Last week, on Thursday to be precise, Delaney was dropped off at o-dark-thirty as usual, and was much more tired than usual. Didn't eat, sipped some milk. We took Sophie out for a last pee, and Delaney complained she was cold. This is FLORIDA, it was 78 degrees and humid, and I was already sweating, so I assumed she was being imaginative, and the tiniest bit of cooler air was "cold". Then, as we were leaving for school, she erupted with a cough. I asked if she felt okay and she said her throat hurt. Oh, great. I did the tried-and-true hand to forehead temperature test, she felt totally normal, so I texted her mother to stand by for a call from the school if she gets worse, her mother replied with the standard working mom's combination of expletives and concern, and we carried on. She got through the day just fine, but was home sick on Friday, but still not that bad. She just needed a day.

Which leads us to today. I slept like SHIT last night, tossed and turned and couldn't get comfortable, and woke up with a headache, sore throat, and yes, a cough. And I suddenly realized what Delaney had been describing, because I was cold, then hot, then chilled again, and my head hurt and I was coughing every time I moved. So I stayed home, and tonight I feel somewhat better. I made the right choice staying home, because around 1 I felt guilty for "wasting the day" and decided to make a quick run to the credit union, and came home in dire need of the couch. I'll be going to bed early tonight, because I have too much going on to spare a second day and MUST be at work tomorrow.

And damn, I am just too exhausted to say anything about the state of our country right now. It's all so awful. I wish I could say I see hope that the Las Vegas massacre will finally make a difference and make us rethink letting civilians buy as many high-powered weapons that have no other purpose than to kill as many humans as possible very fast as their little hearts desire, because the 2nd Amendment means more than Jesus to them, but come on, we all know it won't. If the mass murder of kindergarteners at Sandy Hook didn't do it, if the slaughter of innocent young people at Pulse didn't do it, this won't do it either. I find this really hard to talk about at this point. I'm exhausted, and angry, and disgusted.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Welcome, October!

And among my plans for October: doing something with this sadly neglected little backwater blog. It's not that I don't think about blogging anymore, I just find other things to do instead. I've been spending way too much time on Twitter, for instance. I'm cleverly called @bossylittledogs there. I'd suggest following me, but I don't tweet much. I mostly follow journalists and a few politicians, and it serves to remind me that while my country appears to have gone batshit crazy, there is still a solid core of sanity at work, trying to fix this.

I feel like I lost a month to Irma, because I basically did. I "lost" the first 10 days to watching Irma's path, preparing, etc., and the next two weekends to the storm itself. I didn't get functioning A/C until the weekend before last, and last weekend I went to a family wedding (poor judgment on my part, but lessons learned). For me, September was a dead loss, an expensive, epic clusterfuck, and I'm happy to see it in the rearview mirror. I feel like my life needs a reboot in the last quarter of 2017. I will make it so.

And one of the things I will do to reboot is to blog more often. And knit more, and finally finish Delaney's log cabin afghan, which I now call The DEFB ("Delaney's Endless Fucking Blanket"). I had originally planned to make one for myself after I finished hers. I'm on the home stretch of hers, I really am, but at this point it's so large and awkward to hold on my lap, not to mention it's still summer here, it's becoming a chore. I think mine will be done in individual squares, not in one piece. The DEFB is now my nemesis. I'd once thought I'd have it done for her birthday, but her 6th birthday is two weeks away. Okay, Christmas. I can have it done by Christmas.

And I'd like to thank, or perhaps strangle, the blog reader who turned me on to Bookbub. I now have a reading list that spans into the next decade, while I am still stumbling across books I read years ago and had to reread.

Back in the early 80s I became addicted to a series of paperback Southern Gothic/Horror novels about the Caskey family in Perdido, Alabama. It's hard to describe the story; it has a bit of everything: the domineering Southern matriarch, a flood, crazy relatives, murders, supernatural creatures. It's a delicious stew of crazy with a paranormal twist. I was so excited to find the entire saga was republished in one volume for Kindle: Blackwater. And oh my, it's as wonderful as I'd remembered! I devoured it, and then started filling my Kindle with Bookbub finds, and I'd have to sleep three hours a night to get through it all in a reasonable time. Then there's The DEFB, and yoga, and walking/starting to train for the Princess 5K, and seriously, I need to win the lottery so I can retire.

But one thing I will do in October is keep myself accountable, via a bullet journal and this blog. October is a fine time for a reboot.