Monday, October 26, 2009

A Season of "Finally!" and "At Last!"

This Fall has been filled with a series of much-anticipated firsts for the Uber-Princess. It began with the start of kindergarten in August, which came at last for this little girl whose birthday misses the age requirement cutoff for our school district by NINE DAYS. Last year when a bunch of her neighborhood friends started kindergarten, Uber-Princess watched them go--without her. With her good-natured disposition, she seemed to let it go easily. But inside she was cataloguing that and all the other events that had to be put off for the year.

Now this year she has welcomed those things with gusto: her first day at our elementary school, the first day of soccer, the first day of Awana, her first field trip. At long last she gets to do all these things that she has been watching her sisters do for years. And she is loving every minute of it.

On our way home from her last soccer game this weekend (played in cold temps, drizzle and even some hail), she proudly wore her soccer medal. "I got my very first medal," she proclaimed to her sister, who had taken shelter in our minivan during the final minutes of the game. Blessedly her sister (Timid Daughter) congratulated her on it. I think TD gets it - this whole waiting thing. After all, she watches Little Miss History going before her and continues to wait for her turn to come for things like Outdoor Ed (fifth grade) and Safety Patrol (4th/5th grade).

And now today the Uber-Princess hovered around Amusing Dad and I as we sat chatting on our couch after dinner. She couldn't wait to get started on making her car for the Awana pinecar derby. Once Amusing Dad was free, she proudly marched down the stairs behind him to his workshop. Pretty soon the sound of power tools buzzing and humming issued from our basement. About a half hour later the Uber-Princess emerged, a satisfied grin on her face, muttering about having all the 60's and 150's and 200's lined up for tomorrow. Huh? A moment later Amusing Dad showed up to explain that he had things all set for her to start sanding the next day and she knew just what to do to go through the grits. Yep, she'd been waiting for years to have a car to work on with Dad. She knew plenty already from watching her sisters. She was ready. Finally. At last. It was her turn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Inbox Influx

I'm still on my quest to whittle the contents of my electronic inbox. It's been an up and down battle - not much different than before. Whittle the number of messages down during the work week, what the number soar over the weekend. Rinse and repeat.

I've tired of the time involved in attempting to taim the virtual and real influx of communications. As it is, my counter is almost always littered with school papers and snail mail, in spite of my best efforts. I even complete and return all school forms the next day after they come home. And I immediately pitch the junk mail. Yet it still piles up, on my counter and in my inbox.

Then last night it occurred to me how email filters could work for me. When I read how Michael Hyatt uses them, it didn't sound like something I wanted to try. But as I dumped yet one more retail coupon from my inbox to the "coupons" folder, I saw the use for filters. They are perfect for reducing the repetitive task of filing. So I've begun today testing out filters. Now all of the retail ads/coupons I get will automatically go into the "coupon" file where I can read them at my leisure. My email program will flag that there are new messages there so that I know to look in the folder. But no more glancing at each one and then dragging the file over. Now I can read through a bunch at once and be done.

Of course, this has necessitated some rethinking of my inbox folders. I'm trying to simplify my system to better see at a glance what needs attention. But how much time to spend on that? I've worked at it a little this morning. And I think I'll give the filters a few days to do their stuff and see how that effects things before doing more. But now I have hope. That zero inbox just became a little less illusive.

Current inbox status: 35 messages

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Heeerrrree

H1N1 has arrived in our little city. Who knows when exactly, maybe the county health department. They have been active in keeping the community informed, and the school community in particular, due to the unusual threat the disease poses to younger people. So we know it's "here"-- meaning out there in the far reaches of our city. It's "here" in terms of being the subject of reports in the local newspaper. It's "here", but not where I live. My family is safe from the threat, I think to myself.

Monday a missive arrived by email telling us that the regular updates on the disease's progress would cease. It explained that cases had been reported from every school in our district and at every grade level. I guess we were to consider ourselves notified and were to take every precaution against acquiring/spreading the disease. That means H1N1 is at our school. It is "here", as in sharing the same building with my children.

The arrival of this disease has mostly done little to effect our neighborhood. Sure the topic of playground conversation has switched to the flu vaccine and whether or not it's a good idea to get the live vaccine or not or whether to even get a vaccine at all. Even in the conversation the tone is one of guarded optimism. H1N1 is "here" in a still sort of "out there" kind of way. We go about our business, keep to our usual routines. Nothing changes.

Until this afternoon. Another email arrives, this time from our grade school. 24 children were absent today, 18 with flu symptoms, 10 of them from one classroom. In fact, that particular classroom had a total of 14 absent children - half of the class. A fifth grade class. The fifth graders just took an overnight trip together earlier this week. My daughter is in fifth grade. The flu is "here", as in affecting her classmates and friends. The flu is no longer a report in the newspaper or a statistic from the health department.

I'm worried. Yes, more than likely most, if not all, of these children (and any others who catch it) will weather the flu unharmed. But...the threat is now here, not out "there". I find it chilling. It's chilling to hear my daughter report that they are required to wash their hands every time they leave their classroom*. It's chilling to think of so many children sick at the same time. It's chilling to think of even the remotest possiblity that our school might have to close for a brief time like one area high school has.

Forget the skeletons and ghouls and spiders. This Halloween season, the scariest thing here in our city is the dreaded flu virus. People just might start wearing masks a little bit early this year.

*This is not at all a commentary on our school's efforts to keep the kids healthy. That they are making the kids wash so frequently isn't chilling. That they have to do so is.

Monday, October 19, 2009


The decorating this time of year can sometimes bug me. Some of it creeps me out. It makes my skin crawl. It scares me. Why? Because I can't stand spiders. And we all know that the spider ranks up there in freak factor for Halloween decorations, particularly very large, very hairy spiders. Ugh! Just typing that wigs me out.

Spiders, living or dead, fake or real, drive me nuts. Something about the way they move and the idea that they can live in my house and walk across my body while I'm sleeping gets to me. Now, I'm not so squeamish that I actually scream when I see one. But I do jump and run or I jump and grab the nearest large implement-of-squashing and then half close my eyes to do the deed.

My daughters, thankfully, do not share in my fear. Most bugs and critters fascinate them. They'd rather get up close and inspect them than run or squash them. And they find my fear amusing. They enjoy teasing me about it - as in putting fake spiders and bugs under my pillow for laughs.

It must be all the exposure I've had to their fake spiders that has me particularly weirded-out this year. My tolerance for spiders of any kind has dipped to an all-time low. The pipe-cleaner spider the Uber-Princess has makes my skin crawl - I can't stand to see it. Yes, that's how bad it's gotten.

So I'm having a bit of a challenge this month in navigating the retail scene. Too much creep factor for me. In fact, the other day I encountered a rather large, black and orange long-legged spider poised above the bags of potatoes in the supermarket. I needed potatoes. I did not have in my possession any rather large shoes or implements-of-squashing. But I needed those potatoes. After a few shudders and a quick mental pep-talk, I squinched my eyes, scurried toward the bag farthest from the arachnid monster, grabbed and ran. It took a few minutes before my racing heart settled. Thankfully the rest of the store was bug free or my family might be going hungry.

I can't wait for November. Leaves and corn and Pilgrims sound so soothing. And hopefully by then my kids will have stopped leaving their critters on top of my things. I'm getting tired of cringing and flinging.