The Missing Planner Saga

Everything is a saga this week and I’m chronicling them because I am working on practicing upping my word counts for NANOWRIMO next month.

I am a Day Planner enthusiast. I use one year in, year out, have done since I was a freshman in high school. It always lines up with the school year, even as an adult, because I’ve always bought one-year academic calendars and I started in August and it ends in July every year and I get another one. Over the years the things I’ve used it for have changed, but I always use one. Those of you that see me in person know that I also use my phone calendar. I have an online Google calendar for each of my family members and one for the whole family. I’m pretty obsessed with keeping it up to date and I get pretty annoyed when people don’t keep up their end of the bargain with their calendars. There is quite a lot of overlap with my two systems, but it is not 100%. My paper planner tends to hold a lot of things that my online calendar does not, like personal schedules for crocheting things, when to mail cards to loved ones for weird anniversaries of things that probably don’t make sense to anyone else, passwords to things I use fairly frequently yet didn’t get to make the password for (I remember ones I made), notes about what I’m writing, when I want to blog about certain things, gift ideas for the kids and the cousins, kids current sizes, colors I like for painting the other half of the bathroom, stars and triangles and hearts and circles to remind me about progress with different things or pain levels or how many headaches I’ve had lately. It’s my brain outsourced, basically. I feel lost without it.

The last full day we were in Florida everyone was supposed to come home from church and pack up all their stuff. I knew this, and I knew that at least one of my kids was going to need help, so I spent my time at home in the morning washing clothes and pulling stuff out of dark corners and drawers of forgetfulness. I was just about done in my own room, one drawer mid-way to clear, when the kids started pounding on the door to come back into the condo.

I slid the drawer closed, set the bag I was working on down beside the bed, and went to open the front door. The kids exploded in, each telling me in their separate ways simultaneously what their dad had told them to do as soon as they got in. It was basically exactly what I had told them when they’d left: come in, change into play clothes, eat some lunch, and then start your packing.

I got busy taking laundry out of the dryer and putting more in. I moved on to showing kids for the umpteenth time how to roll their clothes to fit them all in their suitcases. I tried to get people to do their homework.

I completely forgot about the drawer I was emptying.

The next day, I double checked the kids rooms, looking under beds, inside closets, and even into drawers I knew they hadn’t used. I double checked their bathrooms for forgotten toiletries. I double checked the kitchen for hidden food, forgotten laundry, and dirty towels. I double checked the living room sofa for items that slid between the cushions, behind the entertainment center, and under the edges of the sliding curtains. I double checked my bathroom, my closet, the other closet, the dresser, the other part of the bathroom. I looked under the bed, under the chairs, behind the headboard.

I completely forgot about the drawer.

So we traveled home. I dug a few times into the bag that should have held the contents of that drawer. I thought it felt light, but several people were reading books out of that bag, so I didn’t really think about it too hard.

This morning, amidst the chaos with the dogs, I reached into the bag to pull out my planner so I could make today’s To Do list. It wasn’t there. I looked through the few bags left packed. Not there. I thought I spied it on my bedroom floor peeking out from a pile of books, but that was just a scrap of the fabric I used to cover it.

Panic set it.

Everyone else was calm about it: “Just call the condo and have them look for it. They will mail it to you.” I know, I know. But I need it to make the list so that I can remember to make the call when the condo office opens. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done.

So I printed a copy of the online calendar for this week. It’s not the same format as my paper planner. I started writing things in that I thought I remembered I needed to do. I dug out last years planner and stared at this weeks list from last year and I felt a bit calmer. I added a few things I wouldn’t have thought of until it was too late. I tried to remember if I had any tasks from new positions I’ve taken on this year (I haven’t. Sorry!)

Once I ran around and dealt with dog things for a while, I finally had time to call the condo office. Well, first the resort hotline, which was just booking. They gave me the resort office number. The resort office transferred me to housekeeping. Housekeeping said they had a book and some glasses from that room yesterday, but it all had been sent on to Owners Services. They said things usually take around a week to get back to the people that left them behind. Housekeeping took my name and number and sent it on to Owners Services and said that they would call me soon. Seven hours later they did. Owners Services took my name and address and phone number and said they were calling another service to come to pick up my book and glasses – I did ask about that then because I lost my planner, not a book, and a pile of papers that was also in the drawer, but no glasses. They said they only had a list in their location and hadn’t actually ever seen anything but the list – and this other service would call me tomorrow or the next day to set up shipping and payment information.

So I still don’t have my planner. *sigh* This week ahead is going to be rough.

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The Saga of the Missing Dogs

OH my goodness, y’all. So we got home last night and as we were walking through the door our petsitter’s mama called and told us that she didn’t know when the dogs got out, but the neighbors called animal control on us, the dogs were gone, and here’s where to find the sheet of paper about that that was left for us. Oh, and the neighbors apparently washed one of the dogs, who knows why. So we rushed outside, found both dogs mysteriously still in the yard, one squeaky clean and the other as dirty as when we’d left, and started searching for holes along the fence line.

Our fence is up against a creek/wilderness area on two sides, so we started there. No holes. Finally came back up to the front. There was a huge hole on the inside by one of the gates. The place where they’d dug out before, but we had filled in with boards, dirt, and two big heavy paving stones. Both the front and back stone were missing, as was the dirt inside the fence. The neighbor had put some more boards and some weird cement pieces in the hole and pushed some empty planters against the fence to try to ward off dogs leaving.

I went back inside to read the form animal control left. It had our street address (street name spelled wrong), but no other family info on it, just crossed out sections that didn’t apply to us and some notes about 2 dogs being out, no food or water for them for 24 hours, no people responding to the animal control officer, and “inappropriate” fencing.

I went out to the neighbors’ house, Greg in hand, and thanked them for taking care of one of the dogs. “One of the dogs? You mean there are two out there?” Umm…yes. We’ve had Lily for a year and 3/4 now. They told me that only Rose had escaped…not “Random Dog X,” but her real actual name. I’m still wondering about that. They said that she had been over three times and they kept putting her back in the yard, but she kept getting out and coming over.

We fed the dogs, loved on them, and then sent them to bed in their little house for the night. When we got up in the morning, they were still here, as usual.

When it got light outside I searched around a bit and found both dogs rabies tags and their name/phone number tags on the ground near the hole in the ground; the metal looked worn-through like they had just fallen apart naturally, which was odd since they were all acquired at different times. I started looking at the hole. It doesn’t go out under the fence. The outside area where they would have crawled out is totally untouched, ground still fresh and weedy. Yes, they dug on the inside of the fence, but they didn’t get out there. Looking around in daylight I can see that on the neighbors’ side of the yard, there are gaps in the fence again. This is not something WE can just pay to have fixed. It is firmly on their side of the property line and fencing companies won’t mess with it because it isn’t on our property. The owner at the time (12 years ago now, just before Greg was born) had that done on purpose because he was mad at us for not wanting to replace the fence (it was 4 years old at that point and in good condition) when he wanted to. In any case… now the fence is NOT in good condition. The kids living there now have been repairing it slowly, so slowly. But the dogs can jump into their yard and their dogs can (and have) jumped into our yard as well. When their dogs come over, I shove them back through the hole and try to prop the fence piece back in with a stone that has fallen through the fence (one of the other old neighbors – there have been many- took out all the grass on that side of the yard and filled it up with large stones, which over the years have fallen out under the fence and landed in my yard).

In any case, I went to Wal-mart this morning and tried to get new tags made for the dogs and soil and paving stones to replace the curiously missing ones. They have transformed the ENTIRE GARDENING AREA into CHRISTMAS LAND. There were a few bags of soil, some shovels, and some grill covers left. No paving stones. I got some soil, came home and dumped it into the hole, stomped on it, and called it a day for that job. I also bought two “journal decorations” which had key chains on them (they were out of anything actually called “key chains” because they had a sale, apparently), wrote the dogs names on them in permanent marker, covered that with nail polish, and attached them to the dogs. One is shaped like a bouquet of roses. 🙂

So then I called Animal Control. They asked my name and phone number and I told them it wasn’t on the form so they couldn’t look me up that way, so they looked up my misspelled address instead. I explained that we’d been out of town, the pet sitter had been awesome and had been texting me and sending photos of the dogs and walking them and that we were home now and working on fixing the Mysterious Hole of Mystery. They told me that there wasn’t really anything they could do on their end; it was all up to my Animal Control Officer, but they would text him and let him know I had called. They couldn’t tell me whether or not he would call me or text me or come by to check on me or the dogs. No idea. He could do whatever he thought was best, which so far has been nothing.

Friday we go back for their annual check-up (it was due now anyways – we always have one this time of year because we used to board Rose during the feast, but boarding 4 pets was way too expensive) and will get new rabies tags and actual dog tags again then. Whew!

 

 

Beach vacation = writing time

 

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Every year at this time, my little family takes a break from work and school and goes on a church-sanctioned trip somewhere that we get to choose. Some years we go to the beach (my preference), sometimes to the mountains (my husband’s), and sometimes we stay close to home due to circumstances beyond our control. This is another beach year, our third time at our present destination. Our eldest is a senior in high school and this is the place all his summer camp friends were gathering, so since it is our last time with all our kids to go with us, we let him choose.

So how does all this equal writing? Well, the spouse and kids leave me every day for a couple hours and do the church thing over across the bridge on the other side of the resort. I stay here, in our 7th-floor condo overlooking the ocean, and write, mostly by hand with a fountain pen into a cheetah print notebook someone sent me last year as part of a Halloween craft swap. I have been doing writing exercises from various favorite writing books and writing a few poems and just generally shaking out the cobwebs from my brain.

When the family comes back, we go out for walks along the beach, swim in the ocean, laze by the pool reading books, snark about the internet, and sometimes meet up with others and have escapades.  We do not really worry about time or location this trip. Since it is our third time here, we have done all the things worth doing and gone on the dolphin watching trips, and shopped in all the little boutiques that are still open in the off-season. We are just relaxing this trip.

And that has been helping the writing flow…

 

Finding my flaws

Yesterday I went through all the half-novels, unfinished short stories, and other writings in my giant folder of Writing from the last 20 years and made a list of where I stopped in each and every case. Because I always stop before I am done with a story. I never, ever finish one. Oh, I have endings written, I just don’t carry through on the other bits…and I wanted to see what those stumbling blocks were.

In the beginning, it was actually writing that got me stopped. I outlined, wrote character sketches, started world building. I wrote a couple scenes within each story and an ending and then stopped and moved on to another idea.

Ten years ago, I would write and write without an outline. I had beginnings, middles, ends, but no transition scenes and no climax written.

In the last five years, I was outlining, world building, character sketching. and writing stories chronologically as they came in the novels, but then quit just as the climax of the novel came. I’d skip over it, then write a quick ending, and move on to the next book.

So looking back at my lists, I see a pattern: I don’t know how to write the climax scenes. I was talking about it with an indulgent friend who lets me talk about everything and in talking I realized that that is the part of books that when I’m reading them, I skim through them. I want to know the ending so bad that I don’t pay close attention to how they got there. I just want the end. And I’m like that in real life as well; if there is any way I can avoid a conflict, I will.

So now I know what I need to to work on. I am spending this morning going through all the writing books I own to find sections on writing climaxes and if I don’t find anything (I haven’t so far in 4 books), I will go out an buy another book. Anyone have any suggestions?

Health updates

Yesterday I said I’d get some chronic-girl health updates done, but got bogged down in running kids here, there, and everywhere.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: I’ve had a few little flare-ups here and there, one bad enough to go on prednisone again for a taper. That seemed to do it for me, though, and although I’ve had ongoing knee pain, most everything else has been fairly okay.

Fibromyalgia: Stressed Lisa = tense muscles = twitching. It’s been bad, y’all. My left eye is the worst, then my upper right arm, then my left thigh. I have a sample of Lyrica that the doctor gave me, a month’s supply, but I’m just worried about the side-effects, so I haven’t taken it.

Migraines: Just one in the last couple months, which is quite lovely. I killed it with sleep.

Anxiety/Depression: Yesterday was an up and down kind of day. Sometimes I felt manic and anxiety-free and then I’d just spiral back down into sadness at the drop of a hat.

Day Four of Effexor/Trinellix transitioning: Today the vertigo and tummy troubles hit. Not so pleasant.

 

 

End of School Fun!

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It is the last day of the hardest school year we’ve ever gone through. Harder than when I had a newborn and a toddler and a kindergartner, and yes, harder even than that year the tree fell on the house and we had to move out for four months. You have no idea. I am so relieved and happy that this school year is over!! To celebrate, we let all the kids duck out of school early. Ben and Greg got to go to a book signing by  a guy that Ben had seen a movie about at his GT program and David got to go to a movie with his friend Ben. Afterwards we all met at home for a Cream Soda Tasting party. 🙂

Almost done with PTA!

My End-of-Year Summary letter for PTA is coming off the printer now and we only have individual class parties and the Fifth Grade Graduation left of the school year.

For that matter, the class parties are mostly being planned by the teachers, so I only have to show up and help out at my two kids parties (plus the school was super nice this year and assigned the class parties separate times from each other so parents don’t have to run back and forth and back and forth across one little half hour for all their kids). The only thing PTA needs to do for Fifth Grade Graduation is to bake some cookies and deliver them to the school.

I’m looking around the house and realizing that, wow, I have a lot of PTA stuff to take back up to the school or pass off to next years board. You don’t realize how much of it comes home with you and lingers in corners and closets until you start gathering it up to give back.

 

In case anyone’s interested, here’s a copy of the letter I sent out for our end-of-the-year summary:End of the year letter.

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I walked in and…

I walked in and Mom said ” Rose is ignoring me.” And I was like “Since when does Rose have horns?” Mom was like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!?!” 

This is a story from Ben. He’s been begging me to post it because he finds it super funny. 🙂

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The Muffins of Substitution!

So it’s four days until payday, I promised the kids muffins, and I’m out of everything I need. Items subbed: brown rice flour for regular white wheat (made them crumblier), yogurt for milk (made them tangier), baking soda+cream of tartar+corn starch for baking powder (I didn’t notice any difference), butter for oil (yum), and mini loaf pan for muffin pan (fun!). They practically aren’t muffins at all! But they’re yummy anyways. 🙂 BTW, I went here for help with the substitutions. Love that site!

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Spring Break

When we were planning Spring Break originally, Nick wasn’t taking time off. I’d thought about going to see my parents or staying here…and then at the weekend we had a Teen Regional Weekend for church.  Plans changed.

 

Nick looked at the schedule and realized this was a great time to a) do our family vacation (a mini one this year due to other travel going on later in the year) and b) to go see the Magna Carta (on display in Houston). So we added that to the schedule.

 

Meanwhile I realized that my much postponed visit to see my bff needed to happen during that week, too.

 

So our break became one long car ride with interruptions here and there.

We started off our break with a Holcomb Family Dinner at Nick’s parents house.

Cousins all watching a movie

Cousins all watching a movie

Adults all talking about "boring stuff" (according to the kids)

Adults all talking about “boring stuff” (according to the kids)

Saturday, this happened:

There's free time! We should Bedazzle something! What do we Bedazzle? Our Phineas & Ferb shirt!

There’s free time! We should Bedazzle something! What do we Bedazzle? Our Phineas & Ferb shirt!

Saturday morning Pokemon obsessing

Saturday morning Pokemon obsessing

Floppy David is floppy

Floppy David is floppy

Then on Sunday we started the first leg of our journey… to College Station, where I spent a lot of time sitting around while the kids went exciting places, like the ice skating rink.

Ben & Greg start off pretty close to the wall.

Ben & Greg start off pretty close to the wall.

David is a speeding blur!

David is a speeding blur!

Now Ben's got it going on.

Now Ben’s got it going on.

I did break free and run off with Steph for a while to do some catching up and shopping. My favorite thing we saw:

I am absolutely certain that we do.

I am absolutely certain that we do.

While I was gone:

Time for Poker!

Time for Poker!

Then on Tuesday we drove down to Houston to tour the Houston Museum of Natural Science and to see the 1217 copy of the Magna Carta.

At the Magna Carta exhibit, there were many good things for the kids to do hands on.

At the Magna Carta exhibit, there were many good things for the kids to do hands on.

The chained books made the kids excited: "It's just like your Library screensaver!"

The chained books made the kids excited: “It’s just like your Library screensaver!”

The Writ of the Magna Carta (the instructions that travel with it)

The Writ of the Magna Carta (the instructions that travel with it)

The 1217 Magna Carta

The 1217 Magna Carta

The parts of this chair that look like wood are actually carved and polished stone.

The parts of this chair that look like wood are actually carved and polished stone.

TRILOBYTES are EVERYWHERE!!

TRILOBYTES are EVERYWHERE!!

Alligator?

Alligator?

Mineral that formed in the shape of a dragon

Mineral that formed in the shape of a dragon

We had lunch nearby at a place that only did sliders and sides.

We had lunch nearby at a place that only did sliders and sides.

Our skyline view

Our skyline view

These chili fries taste weird. Yeah, that's cause they taste like curry!

These chili fries taste weird. Yeah, that’s cause they taste like curry!

Sliders, sliders, and more sliders

Sliders, sliders, and more sliders

On Wednesday, we drove back to Tyler, dropped Nick off, then the kids and I drove to Quitman to visit the cousins at the park near their new house.

Teeter-tottering with the cousins

Teeter-tottering with the cousins

Wandering down the nature trail

Wandering down the nature trail

Sitting on the cute front porch of the historical building.

Sitting on the cute front porch of the historical building.

That's a really tall slide!

That’s a really tall slide!

On Thursday, we did a bunch of laundry, repacked, and headed up to Colleyville to see Kay. Unfortunately, she was unexpectedly still in Houston.  We spent several hours trying to amuse ourselves on our own before she made it back.

On Kay's trampoline

On Kay’s trampoline

In Kay's backyard

In Kay’s backyard

Then the girls had to go to gymnastics class (and yes, at this point we were wondering why we were even invited up, and by the end of the visit there was unpleasantness), so we took the kids to the park.

Climbing at the park

Climbing at the park

My spider boy

My spider boy

David in a teacup?

David in a teacup?

 

 

The sleeping arrangements were weird because the bed was broken.

The sleeping arrangements were weird because the bed we were supposed to sleep in was broken.

The next morning we had a muffin cook-off.

Iron Chef: Muffin Battle

Iron Chef: Muffin Battle

Our plan for the rest of the day involved the ginormous amount of books to go through and then take to sell at Half Price Books.

These are the books I'm taking home. There were about 20 other bags & boxes that I didn't take home, but did dig through.

These are the books I took home. There were about 20 other bags & boxes that I didn’t take home, but did dig through.

After Half Price, we went to Cost-co to celebrate Pi day the cheap way.

Happy Pi day!

Happy Pi day!

Then we went back to the house for movies and a frantic search for my debit card.

Sometimes it's easier to take photos of kids when they are facing the other way.

Sometimes it’s easier to take photos of kids when they are facing the other way.

In the evening before bed we had one final bit of happy Pi-ness:

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day!

 

Saturday we got up and drove over to McKinney for the Dallas UCG Regional Teen Weekend.

Church a la research center

Church a la research center

We had church and a Bible study earlier in the day, then in the evening there were separate dinners for the pre-teens/families and for the teens. After dinner, the teens had a dance and the pre-teens/families were left on their own for entertainment.

This is so obviously my kid. We sat across from each other and read. People thought it was weird. ;)

This is so obviously my kid. We sat across from each other and read. People thought it was weird. 😉

Savage Raccoon Greg

Savage Raccoon Greg

Sweet Owl Greg

Sweet Owl Greg

Rainbow Loom bracelet making station.

Rainbow Loom bracelet making station.

Our dinner companions

Our dinner companions

Touring the Heard Museum in McKinney

Touring the Heard Museum – they were sweet and let us tour as long as we had enough adults to take all the kids through. Nick and I took some extra kids whose parents were chaperoning the dance.

Our hotel for the night. Ben thought it was beautiful

Our hotel for the night. The younger kids and I went back early for sleep while Nick stayed behind and waited for David’s dance to be done.  Ben thought our hotel room was beautiful.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast back at the Heard Museum before going for a little hike on the nature trails.

The Heard Museum's Research Center

The Heard Museum’s Research Center

Part of the Bluestem Walking Trail

Part of the Bluestem Walking Trail

Part of the Bluestem Walking Trail

Part of the Bluestem Walking Trail

After the trail (which the kids didn’t go on because it was FREEZING!), we headed out to Garland to the Skatium.

Roller skating in Garland

Roller skating fun

David is a blur on roller skates, too

David is a blur on roller skates, too

After the skating, we had one last meal together before we left for home.

Lunch with friends at the roller rink

Lunch with friends at the roller rink

Greg and Theron

Greg and Theron

And that was the end of our Spring Break. 🙂