Saturday, September 29, 2012

Conversations with Dogs

All the leaves are brown. And the sky is grey. I've been for a walk...well, not really. I got up and took the dog out for a pee at 7 am and I had to stand out there for 5 minutes before she would go onto the wet grass. Shoeless, braless and with a mop of bed-head, I stood there arguing with the little blonde doggie who kept giving me the eyes.

"I don't have to go. Really," she said. "Let's go back into the house."

"Nuh-uh," I replied, "I know you have to go." It's like watching a three-year-old do the I-gotta-pee dance but they insist they don't have to go. "Go do your pee!" I pointed to the grass. She walked back to the door. I picked her up and put her on the grass. "Go pee!"

"Too wet!" She whined, as she skittered back to the cement.

"Cinnamon. Get out there and do your pee." She sat down, refusing. I picked her up and put her on the rocks, which are less wet. She has short Shih-Tzu/Yorkie legs so I understand not wanting wet grass tickling her tummy. She ran back to the front door. I sat on the bench and sighed. "I'm going to sit out here until you go." She called my bluff and sat on my foot.

The wind picked up and I shivered. Should I go in and get a sweater and shoes? No, the dog will follow me. "Okay, that's it. You're going pee." I scooped her up and dumped her back on the lawn. She ran up the incline and squatted. Yes! A few seconds after peeing she took a huge crap, then bounced back to me, ears flapping.

"You would have done that in the house, wouldn't you?" She looked up at me and wagged her tail. "Yeah, I know." I opened the door and she scampered up the stairs. "Damn dog," I chuckled affectionately.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Back to School...Finally!

Okay, the girls are now fully entrenched in their school work. Thing One from home, where she is getting the hang of self-managing the courses she can do on her own (PE, journaling for English, pre-reading Science) and Thing Two at school where, despite the late start, she is caught up on her classes, making friends, and keeping on top of her homework. I'm very proud of them. It's a nice change from last year where it was like pulling teeth to get anything done.

The good news is that with both girls in high school, the school supplies required have decreased dramatically. Yay! We pretty much had enough leftovers from the last few years to get us going. And what I did buy, I bought after the first day of school when everything was on sale. Like 16 cent packages of lined paper! Woohoo!

It's hard to walk through the school supply aisles without scooping armfuls of fresh erasers, pens, notebooks and binders into my cart like I won a shopping spree. My excitement grows and my endorphins go crazy with each funky eraser, cool-coloured pen, and wildly-coloured sticky note. Eeeeeeeeee! So it was hard to restrain myself and to come to grips with the reality that all we needed was some paper, a pencil case, a sketch pad and some pens. Maybe we didn't need the 24 pack of coloured Sharpies but they are a good doodling tool and we might need them for art. We probably didn't need the package of neon sticky notes in all sorts of sizes, but they are so handy for marking things in textbooks. And the erasable gel pens? Well Thing One is always erasing and re-writing her work so those will be useful. And the Wacom Splash drawing tablet...well the girls put most of the money together from odd jobs and chores. I only paid the taxes. So that doesn't really count.

Maybe we will run out of something and I can justify another trip to Staples....

Friday, September 14, 2012

We Interrupt This Program...

You would think that as a parent I would be used to interruptions. And I am. How many times have I gone into the bathroom only to have a knock on the door and a "Mom..." or a "Hun..."? Gotten up in the middle of  a meal to fetch a drink or a condiment, answer the phone, or see who's at the door? Woken up from a peaceful sleep to comfort someone or check outside for the source of a noise? Too many to count. This is probably why I am good at multi-tasking. And why I don't always get a good night's sleep!

I am used to putting things aside to help other people or to get something done. But in all honesty, when I'm at work it would be really nice to have fewer interruptions. I am the resident problem-solver. Can I answer this question? Can I fix that computer? Do I know how to run that report? Where do we keep the envelopes? How do I make a table in Excel?

Yes, I can and yes, I do know how. That doesn't mean I'm going to drop everything I'm doing so that I can fix everyone's problems. Was I born knowing all the answers? Of course not. Is there another way you can find the answer? Of course there is. Where do you think I got all this coveted knowledge? Well, I'll tell you.

As the poem says, "All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Naturally I learned some things in school but not enough to do my job well. So if you didn't learn how to create a pivot table in Kindergarten, read on.

1. Identify the problem first. Take a step back and assess the situation before panicking. Collect relevant information that will help solve the problem. Rather than saying, "I can't print!", let me know that there are sparks and smoke coming from the printer where you spilled your coffee into it. Then I know that the printer is the problem, the drivers are fine, you do actually possess the knowledge of how to print, and that you are a colossal klutz. You may find that once you know what the problem is, you even know how to correct it.

2. Trial and error. Believe me, I've made a lot of mistakes. But I've learned what not to do, what doesn't work and what does. As Yoda said, "Try, you must!" Be creative with your solutions. Think outside the box or think like a computer. Be the computer. Restart the computer. Try something and learn from it.

3. Open your eyes and look for it. That pencil is not going to jump out of the drawer and say, "Here I am!" There are precisely 6 drawers in the work area. Open them. Nearly all the office supplies you seek are stored within, and organized to boot! Look for things before you ask. The answer may take me only 2 seconds but I then need to backtrack 2 minutes on my work to re-focus.

4.  Read the instructions or check the help files. Nearly everything comes with some sort of manual or tutorial. Except for babies. You're on your own there. See #2.

5. Consult the experts. And by experts, I mean people other than me. Google it. Look for a Youtube tutorial. Call the customer support line. I guarantee you there is someone out there who has had the same issue. How do I know this? Because that's where I go when I don't know the answer. Cut out the middle man and save me some time. The Googles know everything.

6. Pay attention. When someone is repairing the copier, changing computer settings, resetting the router, or programming the phone system, watch what they are doing and ask questions. Next time you have that problem, you may know just how to fix your wagon!

7. Prioritize your questions. If you are bleeding from the head, I will give you first aid right away. If you are trying to scan your personal photos, ask me at lunch, coffee break, or after work. Or at least make it worth my while (chocolate is a great motivator, I'm just saying).

Learn to be self-sufficient. I promise you this will help you in life. When you have made an attempt to help yourself, I will be much more willing to put aside my work to address your problems and questions. It's not that I don't like being revered as the Office Guru or the Smart-Ass Who Knows Everything. I would just rather be the Office Hobbit and revel in the peace of my office without constant interruptions to my plans of world domination paperwork.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to School...NOT!

It doesn't really feel like Back-to-School time. There is no smell of freshly purchased school supplies in the air. At least not in our house. Because

a) I haven't purchased any (years of over-achieving school supply lists have left us with a plethora of unused supplies) and
b) the girls are not going back to school tomorrow.

Thing 1 (the youngest) is going back to the home school program (called Distributed Learning, which means you follow the curriculum set forth by the Ministry of Education but from home). There is a teacher that she reports to but no interaction with her peers, which suits her introverted personality just fine.

Thing 2 does not want to return to our catchment school and also does not want to do the home school program so we have applied for a cross-boundary to another school. However, all the schools are quite full and they will be processing the cross-boundary applications near the end of the first week. So we won't find out if she can get in until the second week of school! If she doesn't...well then we move to plan B. Don't ask me yet what that is. I'm still formulating a plot.

So the good news is that we will do our Back-to-School shopping AFTER school has started, AFTER the lines have dissipated, and AFTER everything goes on sale. Woop woop!