Saturday, June 28, 2008

The experiment, continued

Or, more truthfully, discontinued.

Due to circumstances well beyond my control, we gave up on the non-driving experiment. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I couldn't figure out how to help my boss move out of his apartment without cranking up the minivan. And I couldn't figure out how to purchase food and liquor for his going-away party without driving.

So yes, we drove during not-driving-week. About 4 miles in all. Which still isn't bad, but it means the experiment failed this time.

But I don't think this failure proves terribly much. How often, in a person's lifetime, does one's manager develop serious visa problems and have to leave the country with 20 days' notice? I'm thinking it's a once in a lifetime thing. (And I'm not going to say much about it except that I hate it and I've cried more about this situation than I've cried over any work situation in the last nine years. He's fantastic and I adore his wife and I'm going to miss them horribly and I have some anxiety about what's going to happen next at work.)

New topic.

The kids are back from their week in northwest Arkansas, and I must say, they're a lot of fun. I can't honestly say that I miss them all that much when they're gone (mainly because we keep ourselves busy and don't have much opportunity to miss them), but I love it when they're home. The girl and I spent much of yesterday afternoon and evening cuddling on the couch, after she emerged from email land and got sucked into the movie I was halfway watching (I was halfway sleeping). We were both tired, and I think she was needing some Mom time.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have let her watch "First Knight," because it deals with the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot story, which is a bit, well, adult with the whole forbidden love thing. But I also clearly remember being about her age and wishing with all my heart that my parents would let me see "Excalibur" when it came out in the theater. (They considered my request seriously, even went to see the movie, and then denied my appeals. I saw it years later and "Meh", but I saw their point.) But "First Knight" is PG-13, and the love story part was quite tame, and the battle gore didn't bother her in the Narnia movies, so I decided it wasn't inappropriate.

What was funny was how she fell into watching the movie. She had come into the living room to tell me that the phone was for me, but then she sat down just because she wasn't doing anything else. At first she just glanced at the screen, but then I caught her getting interested. And then she was so interested that she asked me to pause the movie when she went to the kitchen for a snack. We talked about what was going on (she's never seen "Camelot" but has seen "The Sword and the Stone" so she was a little familiar with the story) and we both predicted when things were about to go sour.

And then it was over, but we found the second half of "Talladega Nights," which the kids and I think is hilarious but Craig thinks is incredibly stupid. By this time, Alex had joined us and watched it with us (although he was heartily disappointed that the dinner table scene, particularly the "spider monkey" line, had already taken place).

Watching my children watch movies gives me a great view inside their minds. I can tell a lot by what makes them laugh in comedies or what gets their attention in adventure movies. Alex doesn't enjoy battle scenes (and, as a result, didn't much love "Prince Caspian") but loves goofy comedy (and has become a fan of Nick at Night sitcom reruns). The girl is starting to "get" adult humor, and watching her laugh at off-color jokes makes the jokes much funnier to me. The laugh is different. It's like she knows that she "shouldn't" be laughing, but she can't help it.

They're home for a week, then it's off to Michigan for three weeks. I know Craig and I will enjoy the change of pace that occurs when we're child-free, but I also know we'll be happy to have them return. The laughter most of all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Experiment, Day One

The kids are out of town again, for their second week (of six) this summer. They've had an alternating-weeks schedule up to this point: two weeks out of school, one week with my parents, one week home, now one week with Craig's family, to be followed by another week at home, then just about four weeks with my parents.

We've been enjoying this (or a similar) arrangement for the past few summers. Our childless state allows us to do things we don't usually do, like eating dinner at 10 p.m. or playing strip poker.

This year, however, we've decided to try something different. Sure, we could have chosen to get into the new show "Swingtown", but that's not really our style. Instead, we're remaining STD-free and going green! That's right; we're not driving all week. The car will remain in the driveway and we'll explore other forms of transportation to meet our needs this week.

We do have a few advantages. I live two blocks from my job, roughly a seven-minute commute on foot. And Craig is working there (temporarily) these days, too. So there's no driving to work anyway. We also live almost in downtown Memphis, and our gym is an easy bike ride away. Along that bike ride, we pass a small grocery store and a drug store, so we could pick up any necessities there.

Today was day one, and we did use our bikes to run an urgent errand. (There was no wine in the house!) Eight-tenths of a mile each way took no time at all - not even far enough to work up a sweat, even in Memphis's summer heat.

So today, success. Tomorrow? We'll see. There's a plan to visit the gym and then pick up food for dinner. I think we can do it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Work update

Last time I blogged about work, we were a few days away from my new store's grand opening. Now that's almost a month behind us, so I can share what's happened.

1. Sales are up, way up. Like 100% or more higher. Like our revenue for June (yes, we're only halfway through the month) is already 1.5 times higher than our revenue for last June (which was a very low sales month). We're already ahead of May, which was the best month to date since the old store opened (because the new store was open for one week in May). Job security.

2. Service and accuracy are good. Very good, actually. We get shopped by a secret shopper three times a quarter, and the report from our first shop at the new store just came in. On the objective items (wait time, drink temperature, etc.) we scored 100% (!!!!) and on service we scored the equivalent of a B+. Which is really exactly what I would have wanted, because it gives the staff something to build on.

3. By the way...dream job? Secret shopper for Starbucks.

4. The staff seems to be gelling nicely. Some issues here and there, but I think that's more about almost all of the staff being under 20 years old. Nothing too serious, and nothing nearly as serious as what I was dealing with before.

5. I haven't worked a 12-13 hour day in three weeks. 'Nuff said, right?

So yeah, it's pretty good. I'm happy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eleven years, three days

So here's the thing.

My baby isn't a baby.

Eleven years ago, Craig and I brought a baby home from the hospital. I would be lying if I said she was a tiny baby - she wasn't, at a round eight pounds, five ounces, nineteen inches long - but she was the smallest one I'd ever held. And also the first one that I'd made. It was kind of a big deal, at least to us.

Eleven years and three days have passed quickly. We've watched her learn to crawl, then walk, then run. We've tracked her vocabulary until her words were to numerous to count. We witnessed as she learned her ABCs and numbers and colors. We helped her learn to write her name and admired her scribbled pictures.

And we've helped her with book reports and science projects. We've attended piano recitals and choir concerts. We've experimented with hair colors and hosted sleepovers and read book after book at her bedside, and sung "Puff the Magic Dragon" too many times to count.

And now she's become this gorgeous young woman, almost as tall as I, wearing shoes bigger than mine, with blossoming curves and more and more glimpses of the woman she's becoming.

I find myself alternating between sadness and infatuation with her new beauty.

When I use the word sadness, it's only because I don't know a better word. I'm not sad that she's growing up. No, quite the contrary. I enjoy the present Susie so much - and I wouldn't trade her for her toddler, or preschooler, or early elementary self. The sadness is more that this, the wonder that is her maidenhood, will end all too soon.

And when I mention beauty, I feel a need to justify it. Because I don't really mean, at least not entirely, physical beauty. Sure, as her mother, I think she's the prettiest girl ever to walk this earth, and I'd be happy to fight you if you say otherwise, but that's not really what has me so ensnared.

No, what has me so smitten is deeper. She has a beauty that shines through her eyes. She's so very alive. So vital. So funny. So alert. So confident. So graceful. So willing, and able, to negotiate the confusing maze that is tween-ness.

The girl has skills. She's good at the social thing. She's good at music. She's a great student. She's got the entire church wrapped around her finger, and has since she was a toddler. She's healthy, smart, and funny. She's the perfect sister, and the perfect daughter.

And she's reaching the age where it's becoming hard to write about her. She knows I'm writing, and she hasn't protested. But I feel a greater need to give her some privacy. Potty training stories are cute and funny, but her life is now hers, much more than it's mine.

I also, more than I ever have, feel that I need to protect her from the world. She's entering rocky territory. Sure, she'll handle it fine. She handles rocky territory like a mountain goat. But I don't want her to ever tell me that I made her life more difficult by writing about her on the internet.

So Susie will no longer be a major character in this blog. I can't say she won't be around, even in photos. She's too funny, too engaging, too amazing, for me to never mention. And she's too photogenic to leave out.

But she's growing up. And I respect who she's becoming. I have a feeling she'll be one of my favorite women, one day. All too soon.