Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lettter To My Daughter

The following was a submission in a blog contest wherein I had to write a letter to a child.

Dear L,

This morning you said  you were worried that you'd never become a teenager.  We were in the middle of breakfast and we only had five minutes until the bus came.  I'm sorry I didn't answer your question right then. All morning I've been thinking about what you said.

"I still act like such a little kid.  I'm only 9 and I don't think I'll ever grow up enough to be like a teenager."  First off, let me just say that I know exactly how you feel.  I remember when I was 9 years old, 13 seemed like light years away.  I never thought I'd be smart enough or big enough or cool enough to be a teenager.

And then this really crazy thing happened.  I became one!  And you will too.  It will happen without you even knowing it.  You'll wake up one day and suddenly realize that you are the big kid.  It's kind of like when we cut your hair and you cried because you thought it would never grow back but sure enough, it did.  It's a natural thing.  It happens without you ever noticing.

And don't worry about still acting like a little kid.  Good grief, even I act like a little kid.  When I throw tantrums over your dirty room, I'm certainly not acting like I'm 36 29!  And here's a little advice for you....  never grow up so much that don't remember how to be a kid.  Don't take yourself so seriously that you won't fly a kite or ride a roller coaster or slurp your soup.  I hope that you are still acting like a kid when you're 95 years old.  It will keep you young and happy.

Soon enough you will be a teenager.  Since you're still at an age when you'll listen to me, let me give you a little warning.  In a few years, you might hate me.  Because I will nag you about wearing too much make-up or staying on the phone too long.  I won't let you stay out late or date boys or wear shirts that are too revealing.  You'll roll your eyes at me and throw yourself at your Daddy's feet and beg him to tell me to leave you alone. 

All of that is normal.  I felt the same way about my mom.  The strange thing is that you'll love me just as much as you hate me.  Just so you know, when you say "I hate you", I'll know that you don't mean it.  I promise you that I will try my very hardest to remember what it was like to be a teenager and listen to you if you promise that you'll remember that nobody will ever love you the way your Daddy and I do.

Oh yes, you will grow up very fast.  You are half-way to being an adult already and I have no idea where that time has gone. It seems like just yesterday that I brought you home from the hospital and counted all of your tiny fingers and toes.  Do me a favor, okay? Don't grow up too fast.  I miss you already and you haven't even gone anywhere.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do You Spend More On Your Pets Than On Saving Children's Lives?

I took our dog to the vet yesterday.  She needed heart worm tests and distemper shots and bordatella boosters.  Not to mention, the animal desperately needed a claw trim.  She's not the best when it comes to getting a doggie pedicure. She writhes and groans and even snips.

She's never let me do it.  We've tried everything from bribing her to wrapping her in a blanket and holding her down.  Petsmart did it for us once and then smiled nicely as they handed her back to us and said, "please don't ever bring her back."

I figured the vet would have better luck.  I figured wrong.  Anyway, I spent $176 at the vet. $186 when you count the special anxiety prescription they gave me that might help calm her down and enable me to clip her nails. Plus, I got an estimate on how much it will cost to have xrays done of her hips (she's been struggling with stairs and walking).  That came out to the tune of another $150.00

 And as I was driving home thinking about how much money this is and how it's totally worth it because I love her,  I couldn't help but realize that in America (and probably other parts of the world) we spend more on our animals than we do caring for the desperate children of the world. A pug in Pasadena gets better medical care than an orphan child in Calcutta.

I spend more on distemper shots than Malaria shots.  I spend more on heart worm tests than AIDS tests.  I give our animals joint supplements and won't pay a couple of dollars for life saving medication for a child.

I'm guilty on all charges.  I do sponsor a child through World Vision.  But I spend more on my pets than on orphans.  Lets be frank.  That means, I care more about my dog than I care about a dying child.  I can say that I "care" all I want but what do I really do about it?  How's that for eye opening?  Where the heck are my priorities?

I'm not saying that I shouldn't take care of our dog or that anyone shouldn't be responsible with their pets.  I'm just saying that I shouldn't substitute one with the other.  How have I never seen this before in myself? I'm totally disgusted.

I'm going to add up everything I spend for our dog in a year (shots, food, toys, snacks, bones, collars, grooming, etc..). Then I'm going to add some and send that off to World Vision.  For simple peace of mind.  To be able to have the knowledge that I gave more money to help sick children than I did to take care of my dog.

Monday, February 27, 2012

7 Year Old Boys Don't Listen

I'm trying to remember if my oldest had as much trouble as my son is having when it comes to following directions.  Was she this exhaustively bad at listening?

I'm thinking she was.  I've just made the choice to block it out.  Or are boys just more clueless? It's probably a combination of him being a boy and being 7 years old. 7 year old boys are notoriously distracted. Their minds are so fully with Dinosaurs and Monster Trucks and Godzilla that they don't have room in there for anything else.  I don't expect him to do everything on his own but I think he's old enough to be able to get up with an alarm clock, get dressed and come downstairs.

He should be able to remember that he needs to brush his teeth and that he needs his homework folder and a backpack everyday. I've even sent him to school without these things to try to motive him by natural consequences.  He hardly noticed.  It's not rocket science and I'm starting to think that it has less to do with his ability and more to do with his just not wanting to do it. He might need a few reminders but we've had this routine for years now. 

The other day he remembered to put his homework folder in his backpack and you would have thought that he had cured Cancer.  I began to cry and started jumping up and down and hugging and kissing him. I bragged about him all day and patted him on the back and told him how proud I was.  I could see that he was proud of himself too. He walked with his head held high all day.

But did he remember the next day? Nope!  Listen, I'm not asking for a perfection. I'm just asking for a little effort.  Show me that you can do one thing!  We tried making him a checklist.  But then he wouldn't look at it so instead of saying "Are you dressed?", "Did you put on your shoes?", "Did you brush your teeth?", it was "Did you look at your checklist?" "Did you look at your checklist?", "Did you look at your checklist?"

It's a little too early to worry about this.  Truth is, he needs some work.  We need to buckle down and teach him better and be more consistent with him instead of just telling him what to do.  Oy.  This is going to take some serious work.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Super God Me

Did you ever hear of that movie called "Super Size Me"? It's a documentary where a man decides to eat nothing but McDonald's for 30 days to see what kind of effect it has on his body.

As it turns out, (not surprisingly) the effects are devastating. He goes into the experiment a healthy, active, normal guy and comes out overweight, miserably and sick. It affects his mind and every organ of his body but most of all, his spirit.

I was thinking about the movie this morning when I was considering what I'd like to give up for Lent. The problem with giving something up is that the focus becomes all about me so that I spend all of Lent focused on myself, my sacrifice, my suffering.

This is counter intuitive because what I should be focusing on is God. His sacrificing. His suffering and ultimately his victory.  Plus, when I give things up I end up praying for the days of Lent to go faster so that Easter can get here and I can EAT MEAT ALREADY!  I once gave up Facebook for Lent and the withdrawal symptoms were intense enough to necessitate a padded cell and electroshock therapy.

Giving things up, clearly doesn't work for me so my plan to solve this problem is not to give something up at all but rather to ADD something. God. LOTS OF GOD! So much God that it affects every single part of me and I can't wait to see the result after 30 days.

My purpose for doing this is simply to give God the chance to do with me what he will. I have a sneaking suspicion that I never give him enough time to fully mold me.  Like he's my personal trainer and wants nothing more than to sculpt me into something beautiful but I never show up to do the work.

What will I look like after 30 days? What will I feel like? What will change? What will I learn? Will God satiate me? If so, will he overpower my desire for food, attention, approval, etc...?

My husband has agreed (reluctantly) to try some of this with me although he's not quite as crazy to go full throttle (he wanted me to make sure you know that he's not as crazy as me.) If you want to join me, please do!

Here Are The Rules
*1- 2 hours of the word daily. I was thinking that since we eat three times a day, I would break it up into meal-like chunks but I'm thinking that might be too complicated. Plus, just the commitment of one- two hours (HOLY TWO HOURS, BATMAN!) seems like enough of a challenge.

*Immerse myself in him throughout the day through worship, prayer, talking to someone about him, service, listening to worship music, listening to a sermon, watching Joyce Meyer, being thankful, you get the picture.

Yes, I realize that I should be doing all this already but lets be honest shall we? I don't. I have good intentions but then I get tired and fall asleep or choose to clean the house instead of read the bible.    I should be enveloped completely in him.  Problem is, I don't always consciously choose it.  I get caught up in the day to day things and fail to make the commitment necessary to see change.  I'm hoping that this 30 days will kick start a full-time routine that will carry on through the year.  It will take a lot of focus to make that much room for God and I need to get used to what that feels like.  I'm thinking that that the first few days will feel like the first time you do situps after a year.  It's gonna be a little painful.

I'm not taking anything out.  I'm not giving up chocolate or coffee or cheese (I'm motivated but not THAT motivated).  I'm not giving up Facebook again (GASP).  My logic goes like this: I cannot be trusted to give something up and since even my feeble attempts at trying to be good never work, I have to hope that adding God will choke out all the bad stuff. That he'll be like that industrial spray insulation they put in houses these days that grows and grows until it fills every single spec of space with itself and nothing can cross the barrier.

Drop a comment and let me know if you want to embrace the challenge with me.  I'll update from time to time on how I'm doing and hope you will share too!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

$100 Disney Card Giveaway

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Oh yes! Stay tuned my friends because in the next few days (once I get my ducks lined up in a row and can get them to stop fidgeting) I will be posting the details of my very first Giveaway!

 A GIVEAWAY for a $100 Disney Gift Card.

This is my first time doing this so bear with me.  It's going to be fun and simple and someone will walk away with some free money.  What's not to love about free money? Unless of course, you're one of those people who has a money tree.  If you are one of those people, let me know so that I can come and move next door.

Subscribe via email or follow me whichever way you'd like so you don't miss out on this opportunity!

Writing Progress

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I finished a children's story manuscript.  Pardon me while I take a moment to trot around the room like a pony and slap my own ass.

In case you don't know.  Writing for children IS HARD! Who knew that writing 250 words could be such agony. It's fun agony though.  Like that first time you have sex after you've given birth.  It hurts and you're exhausted and scared out of your mind but still- it's a bit thrilling.

I submitted it to a writers group after the 2nd revision and they ripped it to shreds.  It came back to me in pieces and I had to re-construct it from scratch.  Fun!

But after reviews and edits and starting over several times and pulling a few hairs out, I finally got it.  Review number 120 went back to the critics and this time, it was a hit! "Tis ready for publication", they said.

I've done my research and I know who is most likely to buy this piece.  My intention is to send it to children's magazines.  I'm going to be sending off the manuscripts this weekend. Five of them.  There is part of me that is really freaked out about this. Basically because there's a part of me that doesn't want to acknowledge the truth: I've worked really hard on this, spent hours, days, sweat and tears to pull it together and in the end, it's probably going to go nowhere.

I know this because the children's market is ridiculously difficult to break into.  The story is good.  Is it good enough? That remains to be seen.  Still, I am going to be happy with the rejection letters.  Like I said before, all this means is that my first step in becoming a writer is complete.  Nobody ever became a great writer without stacks of rejection letters.

I'll post the rejection letter when I get it. Is it sad and twisted that I'm excited to be rejected? Maybe a little bit.  I think the exciting part is that I'm actually doing something and not just thinking about it.  Those rejection letters will be the foundation upon which I build my craft.  Rejection will have never felt so good!

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Queen of Drama

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter got a  part in a local children's theater stage production of "Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears."

She's the kangaroo; a part that was made for her.  She has 20 lines  including the opening and closing ones and to say I was a little excited would be an understatement.  It would be like saying that Jimmy Hoffa is " a little lost."

Her script
I'm nervous for her too.  I think she'll do great though.  This acting thing is right up her alley.  My daughter has a really big personality, so big that it often chokes the oxygen out of a room.  She's drama personified.

Sometimes I think that she lives inside of a Shakespearean play because when I say something like, "it's time to clean your room" she dramatically flips her hair, gives a big expression and says, "why is thou determined to ruin my life? I simply cannot live with this kind of torturous treatment.  Give me a fork, so I may throw myself on it and end all of this pain and suffering."

The girl knows how to play a scene.

This theater group has been a great outlet for her.  She deals with ADHD and so often has to contain herself; her emotions, her personality, her energy.  And when she's at school that dramatic part of her is disdained by the teachers and mocked by her classmates.

Not so at the theater group.  In that setting she's a star, the queen of drama  The kids play off of her imagination and dramatic personality.  They are all very similar to her in character and so impromptu performances sprout from the vestibule where they wait for class to start, on the steps in front of the building or  anywhere else they can perform.  The acting teachers love it too.  They love someone who can evoke emotion and draw attention.

I'm so grateful that I found a place where she can be herself, where she can excel and be expressive.  So that when she's drawn up a scenario in her head and is playing it out at the dinner table I can say, "save it for the theater my dear."

To which she responds, "the show must go on, Mother...the show must go on!" *cue swelling music*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Free From Credit Card Debt

We just paid off the last of our credit cards.  If you were to run my credit report, there would be a little notation next to my name that says "free from credit card debt" and honestly, I couldn't be more proud if it said, "Oscar award winner" or "New York Times best seller".

It's been a long time coming! My husband and I made some serious mistakes in our 20's when it came to money.  First off, we had lots of babies.  Babies cost lots of money. Not to say the babies were a mistake, I love my babies.  But they aren't exactly great from a financial viewpoint.  Then, we used credit cards.  Big no-no!

And now we're finally digging ourselves out of the hole we made.  We paid off his truck and let me tell ya, that beat up truck is worth more to me than a brand new Jaguar because WE OWN IT!

Now, the credit cards are paid off, and my student loan will be paid off in the next few months.  That leaves us with only the mortgage and now we can get busy with the business of paying that thing off, not to mention, doing some serious savings for college!

It's a slow but sure process that has at times been painful.  We've cut our own hair, eaten pasta for weeks, worn only second-hand clothes and cut out many luxuries that in the end, are completely UN-necessary.  It's been a good way to purge ourselves of some excess and teach us a little humility because we are truly blessed and it's important that we recognize it.

We've had to make these sacrifices not because we can't afford anything but because we are righting the financial wrongs we've made.  We're finally seeing the light of day.  This week I might be able to get my hair cut and colored, something that has not been done at a salon in nearly two years!  I've had my hair cut but I went to a trade school for hairdressers where I basically became a guinea pig.  I colored my hair at home and even then, only if I had a coupon for it.

I'm starting to realize that you are only truly wealthy when you owe nothing on the things you own.  Until then, the things you have own you.

More importantly, my family will be able to GIVE MORE! That is such a huge thing for us.  To be able to tithe monthly in the hundreds and donate generously to causes that are close to our hearts.  That is how you amass real wealth, giving. We robbed ourselves of the joy of giving when we strapped ourselves to debt.  I don't ever want to do that again!

If I could go back and talk to my 23 year old self I would say, "self...there are so many things you're buying that you simply don't need.  Save, save, save. Give, give, give.  Live meagerly even if you have a big paycheck and buy everything cash.  Clip coupons, only buy things on sale and whatever you do, do not swipe one piece of plastic.

I'm so happy.  I want to call Suze Orman and brag.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parents Can Learn From Their Kids

The kids and I took a walk today in freezing degree weather.  I may have broken a sweat but I'm not entirely sure because it instantly froze, fell off my face and shattered on the sidewalk.

I walked the dog, the kids rode their scooters.  When my son came to a curb his scooter veered slightly and he drove into some grass.  He stopped, threw down the scooter and proceeded to kick the grass.  "Stupid grass. I almost fell because of you."

I rolled my eyes at him and said, "dude, grass doesn't like to apologize.  Especially when it's not it's fault. Just get over it."

"But it almost tripped me! It was in the way!"


He was being beyond ridiculous and I was just about to judge him when I thought of how when I stubbed my toe on the couch I called it "a stupid couch".  In my head I called it something much more sinister.  And I imagined that I gave it the finger too.

Which is to say, I'm not exactly setting a good example.  Crap.  This is living proof of how having children changes you for the better.  It's not always because you have a burning desire to be transformed, it's because you have an undying commitment to teaching your kids the right thing.

That means leading by example.  It's easier said than done, my friends.  Who knows...maybe these kids will have me whipped into shape by the time the last one heads off to college!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Looking For A Book To Read?

As you know, I've taken on reading as a part-time job.  My consumption of night time television comedies is at dangerously low levels because of this.  I actually missed "The Big Bang Theory" last week because of my reading! The humanity!

I've read five books in four weeks.  I know.  Call the nerd police. This past weekend when we were in NYC, I saw a t-shirt in the Toys R Us store that said, "Talk Nerdy To Me" and I almost bought it!  Listen, reading is not a nerdy thing to do, in fact it's down right intelligent. I'm proud of myself but I still can't help but think of myself as a bookworm when I'm wading through books in my spare time.  And I'm sure that there are many people out there who read WAY more than I do (I'm pointing at you, Jessica). But then again, she's a nerd. Ha!

Book # 1: "On Writing" Stephen King

If you have ever wanted to write a book or are interested in the process of writing (all the painful details), this book is for you.

It's also a memoir that details part of King's life as young man and how that all played into how he became a writer.  King's style of writing is easy to read and you can't help but find him charming, especially when he talks about how much he adores his wife.

This is not the Stephen King we're used to reading.  It's void of buckets of blood or aliens or creatures coming back from the dead.  In other words, it's a book you can read at night in bed without having nightmares.

Book #2: "Dry" by Augusten Burroughs
This is the second memoir written by Burroughs.  His first, "Running With Scissors" was a smashing success and topped the New York Best Seller's list for weeks.  It was also made into a movie.  I have not read that book but fully intend to.

This book covers Burroughs' life as a young adult in NYC and focuses mainly on his struggle with addiction as well as the death of a friend.  This is a very quick read.  Burroughs is funny and incredibly sarcastic, two things that I absolutely adore! There were parts where I actually laughed out loud and my husband looked at me like I had grown a horn in the middle of my forehead.

If you have a problem reading anything about alternative lifestyles (Mr. Burroughs is gay) then you might not like it.  He doesn't focus the book on his sexuality but naturally, it's a part of who he is and is therefore part of the story.
Book #3: "As I Lay Dying", William Faulkner
No this is not a book about the hard core metal band from California.  This is a classic.

Faulkner is a founding father of the stream of consciousness narrative mode.  The book is intimate and powerful but I must admit, if you're used to being spoon fed your literature (like me), this takes some getting used to.

It requires you to do this thing called using your brain and it's not totally pleasant at first.  I've had to re-read several parts in order to piece things together.  The book is narrated by 15 different characters and so it takes some getting it straight in order to keep up.

That being said, this book is frequently ranked amongst the best novels of 20th century literature.  It's entirely worth it.

Book # 4: "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway

If you have not already, I dare you to read this book and not fall head over heels in love with it.

Go ahead.

I dare you.

It won't make you love Hemingway.  What can I say, he was kind of an ass.  But it literally transports you to another era, a different place and time where you can experience Paris, with all of it's sights and smells, right where you are.

Book #5: "7" by Jen Hatmaker

Confession:  I'm not actually done with this book.  My friend Jessica gave it to me a couple of nights ago and it's about 90% digested but I'm including it because I'm just about to head to the bus stop and it will be gobbled up in the next few minutes.

This is a book about a bible teacher/writer/public speaker who decides to streamline her life in order to weed out the excess.

She only eats 7 foods for a month, then only wears 7 articles of clothing, gives away 7 things a day for a month, etc...  The book chronicles her process to remove things from her life so that God can add to it.

Hatmaker is funny, relate-able and while convicting the book is far from preachy.  It's inspiring to read because (and I'm not even kidding about this) when I opened the book, my husband was sitting next to me and I had just about finished the introduction when he looked over at me and said, "you know...I think we need a new flat screen TV."

He had no idea what I was reading but it confirmed that indeed, it's a good thing to remember to check ourselves from time to time.

So there you have it folks.  If you're looking for a good read and you haven't tried any of these books, give them a shot.  And then let me know what you thought.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carter's Face

As I laid in bed tonight, listening to my son read UN-bearably boring fact books about sperm whales did you know they dive as deep as six empire state buildings stacked on top of each other, I couldn't help but notice how deliriously gorgeous he is.

His face is so soft and delicious, like freshly risen dough.  How did he grow up so fast? Wasn't it like yesterday that I was reading books to him as we cuddled in a recliner and he nursed to sleep? Now he's tall and his chubby baby face has been replaced by a svelte one of an almost-third grader.  I hardly recognize him.

The last 7 years have passed much too quickly and in another 7 years he might prefer to have his toe nails ripped out with pliers than lay in bed with his mother while she gazes adoringly at him.

I noticed the slight little white line just under his nose, a scar from when our puppy nipped him for startling her awake with his face in her face.  He got one stitch and it's healed nicely.

It occurs to me that someday, a day that will come just as quickly as the seven years have passed, a young woman will lovingly stroke his upper lip and say, "where did you get that scar?"  He'll tell her about his crazy dog and how his mother drug him to the ER and said, "I told you not to put your face in that dog's face!"

I hope he remembers that I held his hand when the nurse stitched his lip and that I bought him a popsicle afterwards.  But mostly, I hope the young woman thinks that his face (scar included) is as perfect as I do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Day In NYC

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We took the kids to NYC yesterday. We've never been as a family because the idea of taking three small children to the city drew strikingly similar fears to being covered in honey and laid over an ant hill.

But they're old enough now that we don't have to haul around strollers and diaper bags and 400 pounds of assorted travel necessities and since we had a free Saturday and we only live a short train ride away from the city, we decided to spend the day there.

The kids tipped a street performer, stepped in vomit and enjoyed the vocal stylings of a seriously crazy woman on the subway who was singing "the greatest love of all" into a pasta spatula.  I'd say that overall, they've been properly introduced to the Big Apple.

 Riding the train.  We always catch the train at Union Station (New Haven).  It's a direct shot right into Grand Central and from there we have direct access to the subway.  Trying to drive a minivan into the city is like trying to ride a matchbox car into an ant hill.  You're bound to run over somebody.  Best to stick to the train and your legs for transportation.  Besides, there is something so lulling and comforting about the train.  It almost instantly rocks me to sleep.

I'm not the only one who likes to sleep on the Metro North.  If you get on it after 5pm there are rows and rows of people collapsed against the train windows or with their heads drooping down and swinging side to side with the motion of the rails.

It's essential to wear good footwear in NYC.  And even with good shoes, if you're not used to walking for 7 hours straight, your feet are going to bark at you like a rabid Doberman by hour 3.

We stopped and had some burgers at Five Guys.  This was less about a dining experience and more about the desperate need to find a place with a clean bathroom.

NYC is a paradox.  It's just about one of the fastest cities in the world yet when you walk through the streets, it's like you're going in slow motion because it's so crowded, you can hardly walk two steps without running into someone.

This is the Chrysler Building from up close.  Or as my son would call it, "that building in the movie 'Godzilla' that got blown up and the top fell off and smashed to the ground in a gazillion pieces.  Godzilla is so awesome."

By the way, if you've never visited the city, the people there have got to be some of the nicest ever.  Sure, they'll tell you to "now, fuck off" but only after they've given you directions or shared their subway pass with you or tried to sell you a knock off Louis Vuitton bag.

The only exception to this: mothers in the American Girl Store.  They will trample you for a place in line at the styling salon for dolls.

I'd like to take this opportunity to say how unbelievably well behaved these children were.  We took them to the Toys R Us on Times Square and they each picked out something small and reasonable that only cost a few dollars.

Then we went to the M&M store and they each bought a trinket.  The bulk of our money was spent on bags of M&Ms which cost something like $12.50 a pound.  The store has giant floor to ceiling tubes filled with individual colored m&ms and you can fill your own bags.  We let each of them fill their own bags (half way) and we ended up spending like $45.00 in chocolate.When the cashier tells you that you might consider buying a dispenser, you've probably bought too much!

Riding the subway is a necessity if you plan on covering any ground in the city.  We had a few detours on this trip because the 7 train was out of service (it was the easiest way to where we were going) so we had to take the long way which meant more trains that were crowded to the point where as they zoomed by we could see people's faces plastered against the train doors.  You think I'm exaggerating don't you? I'm not.  The subways were crowded like rush hour trains in Mumbai.  We waited for nearly an hour for the M train that never came.  On the plus side, the subway performers weren't all that bad and the fresh late winter air almost diluted the smell of urine.  You don't want to wait an hour for a subway in the middle of July. Trust me!

This view is from the "top of the rock" as they call the observation deck at Rockefeller Center.  The lines were super fast and the views were spectacular.  But somewhere on a thumb drive there exists a photograph taken by a tour guide who told us to sit on a bench in front of a picture of the roof deck and "pretend we are falling off the building."

We didn't buy the print out.  Because if I'm going to pay that much for cheese, it better be spreadable and delicious on a turkey sandwich.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Summer Vacation Ideas

I can't help myself- I'm already thinking ahead to summer vacation.  Blame it on 1 Epic Mom.  She's been posting pictures of exotic trips and videos of zip lining that make me feel the need to dig my passport out and wipe the dust of of it.

My husband and I learned a valuable lesson last year. The less money you spend, the more your kids tend to like the vacation.  We spent a large chunk of change on a vacation getaway and the kids were like, "meh, it's alright I guess. Wake me when we get home."

Then later we spent $400 on a borrowed timeshare outside of Pittsburgh and took day trips (which cost next to nothing) and our kids were on cloud nine.

Lesson learned.  Cheap = Happy Kids.  For real, If we stayed in a Motel 6 two blocks from our house but it had a pool, they'd think they died and went to summer vacation heaven.

But what to do this year? Shall it be a road trip in an RV? A family cruise to a warm destination?  A camping trip?  I must confess- I'm not the greatest camper.  I'm not a fan of bugs, in particular mosquitoes.  As Bobby Boucher's mother would say, "they're the DEVIL".

I also hate horse flies. They're the devil too.  I'm pretty sure if hell had a brochure it would show people waving as they laid on a scorching beach of a fiery lake and they would be covered in mosquito and horsefly bites.  I'm pretty sure that hell looks strikingly similar to the panhandle of Florida.

Other than that, I'm pretty open to suggestions so suggest away.  Just don't recommend any place that has giant biting bugs.  I generally don't consider having my flesh bitten into to be a jolly good time.  I'm high maintenance that way :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Old School Math

My daughter's math homework- the thorn in my side, the evil thing that torments me on a nightly basis.  Did you you know that the math we used to do as kids is no longer the standard? Our old math is now obsolete.

Apparently we learned the very old school version where 3 times 3 equals 9.  Nowadays the kids are learning about "arrays" and they're using grids to chart what 3x3 looks like in pictograph form and just for extra fun, none of the problems are as easy as 3x3.  It's more like: "Martha has three apples.  Her friends Greg and Sam also have three apples.  Write this in a number sentence and find the product through multiplication.

Good grief.

It's fourth grade math and I often find myself at a complete loss.  I stare at the math paper and I hear crickets in my head. 3x3 I can do but they lose me on the graphs and funny new words.  I'm not much help to her when she's struggling.  Half the time, I don't even understand what she's saying, it's a whole new math language that is totally beyond me.

Her teacher is kind of up my butt about it.  "You must get her back on track."  Yeah...its not that I don't want to lady- it's just that I have no clue how to do it. Even the teacher admits to struggling with the new math program.  If she can't do it, how the heck does she expect us parents to do it?

I still kick the math old school where we "carried the one" and "multiplied" and got a "remainder" when we divided.  That's how we did it back in the old days.  In our one room class rooms that we walked 4 miles to  everyday, barefoot.  In the snow. Both ways.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Excerp

Here's a little lookey- see into the book I've been talking about.  Please note this is the roughest of roughest drafts so it's riddled with mistakes.  Just thought I'd let you take a peek (as promised). 

Sometimes my Grandma would babysit my cousin Alyne too.  I loved this because Alyne was a great playmate although she always brought along her imaginary friend Linda.  Linda had a tendency to get us into trouble and she had a weird fascination with bathrooms and toilets.  She would stuff rocks down the commode and unroll toilet paper throughout the house.

Other times, Linda would encourage me and Alyne to harass our Uncle Charlie.    He was a school teacher, weighed nearly 400 pounds and still lived with Grandma.  One day he came home from school and headed straight for the bathroom with a newspaper tucked under one arm.

Grandma's bathroom was a Jack and Jill kind that opened to both the hallway and Uncle Charlie's bedroom and there were light switches next to the toilet as well as in the hallway. 

"Wait till he gets undressed", Alyne whispered  as she pressed her ear against the door. "Okay, his belt just hit the floor so I think his pants are down."

"Should I do it now?", I asked.

"No, lets wait for him to start reading the paper.  When he gets nice and comfortable, then do it!", Alyne said.

Uncle Charlie let out a long relaxed "Ahh" and we heard the crinkle of newspaper.  "Now!", Alyne mouthed.

  I flicked the light switch and left Uncle Charlie sitting in the dark with his pants down.

"God Damnit, you kids!"

Alyne pointed at the bottom of the door. "Look. When he turns the light back on, turn it off again."

I waited until a sliver of light shone from under the door and then flicked the switch again.

Uncle Charlie pounded on the door. "You just wait until I come out there", he screamed as we ran away giggling.

Uncle Charlie never bothered to track us down.  He was too big and besides, he had a great sense of humor and he kind of admired our antics.  Sometimes we did get in trouble and when we did, both Alyne and I would  finger Linda.

As time went on, Grandma's patience with Linda grew thin.  About a week after the Uncle Charlie incident, Grandma sat us down at her oval dining table that was surrounded by plastic chairs whose black and white pattern made them always look filthy.

"I'm sick and tired of Linda", she said.  "She better learn to behave herself or else she won't be allowed to come here anymore.  Do you hear me girls? Do you hear me Linda?", she said, pointing at an empty chair.  "Shape up or ship out!"

Later that day, Linda was perched a top the counter top in an attempt to grab a drinking glass and she slipped and accidentally broke one of Grandma's favorite dishes.

There was a crash and Alyne yelled, "Grandma! Linda broke your Christmas plate!"

Grandma came running from the back room, picked up Linda by the scruff of her neck and dragged her to the front door.  Alyne and I ran behind her, our hearts thumping hard.

"Grandma, Linda's sorry! She won't ever do it again.  She means it this time!", Alyne said.

Grandma didn't seem to hear anything.  She pretended to grab a good grip on Linda.  Then she opened the creaky, metal screen door, propped it open with her hip and tossed Linda out on her ass.

"Don't you ever come back here again", she said as she wiped her hands together.

That was the end of Linda.  She must have got the message because she never came back to my Grandma's house ever again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Writing

I've had a few of you ask me some questions about this book that I say I'm going to write.  Ay, I don't think I will ever get used to saying that.  When I write the words "I'm going to write a book" what I actually hear is "I'm going to build my own space craft from scratch and then fly it to the moon."

It's not that I don't believe in myself.  It's just hard to believe in myself when I feel so ill equipped.

I'm going to be very honest here on the blog about my feelings and my strategies.  Mostly because there is nothing to lose and when it boils down to it, we're all in some way going through the same sort of thing.  We're all trying to do something great, to accomplish something that seems out of reach. I will work, I will try, I will fail or maybe I'll succeed.  I'm glad to have you along for the ride.

Maybe for you it's not writing.  Perhaps its opening a store or finishing college or raising twins.  Whatever your mountain is right now, you're braced to the side of it just like I'm clinging to this Everest called writing.

Will I make it to the top? (And when I say this I don't mean to the top of the best seller list- I mean will I finish at all, without all of my fingers and toes turning black and falling off).  I hope I do. As the Little Engine That Could once said, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

I've "written" for a large chunk of my life.  Whether they were stories in grade school notebooks, plays written for the benefit of sleepovers in junior high or college diaries stuffed with locked secrets.  I'm a writer.  I'm a story teller.  It's part of who I am.  I started this blog about 6 years ago after blogging on Myspace for about a year.

I did it mostly to chronicle the lives of my children although I ended up talking about everything and anything under the sun.  It was my personal place to vent, so why not! I slightly regret the blog about my husband's pubic hair- but not enough to delete it.  If you go through and read posts from 6 years ago, it's almost like reading a completely different person.

My style has changed, my voice is clearer and there aren't as many typos although I'm still generously afflicted with an inability to spell.  This blog has turned out to be more than just a place to jot down my daily goings on.  It's turned out to be my cocoon, my place to grow and develop my writing.

If you've come here recently, you might have noticed that I post something everyday (except Sunday) at 7 am EST. I do this because I'm determined and committed to writing every single day.  To this, I add heaping amounts of writing other things.

I'm working on a memoir or autobiography.  I'm not sure which because I don't know if it will only cover my childhood (memoir) or if I need to take it a little further (autobiography).  We'll see how it turns out.  I'll keep you posted.

I also write for an online news website called although I haven't been posting much lately (mental note: I need to go do that).  I'm also working on submitting short stories to children's magazines.  I have several written but I've set them aside and am allowing them to incubate a bit and mature.

And during this time I'm taking the opportunity to research. I've found some magazines that publish the kinds of stories that I write and so I'm reading through them carefully (a year's worth) to make sure our styles match.  Once I'm confident that my writing suits them, I will go back and do a final draft to the stories and submit them.  Then I'll sit back and wait for my rejection notices.  When I get them, I'll frame them and count that as my first step to becoming an honest-to-goodness writer :) Along side that I'm reading memoirs, autobiographies and gazillions of children's picture books.

That's because I'm working on a children's book that's completed and has been set aside.  This one is much further along in the process. In fact, it's downright near ready for publication but I need to get a few notches in my belt before I'm ready to send it in.

Everyday I write something different.  This keeps my mind renewed and most importantly- not bored.  Being bored is the kiss of death for a writer.  In my opinion, it's the door that leads into that black hole called writers block.

So that's it.  I'm being practical about this whole thing.  It takes work.  LOTS OF WORK.  And thank God I love this sort of thing, otherwise I would have given up long ago.  It's about being able to do what you love.  Hopefully someday I might be able to contribute financially to my household.  But for as much work that writing really takes, I would make more money working at McDonald's.  Still, it's not about the money.  It can't be because that takes all the fun out of it.

Writing has to be about the writing.  This morning I was talking to my son about stories and I said, "story telling is like magic because you can create a whole world and there are no rules.  You can imagine anything and make it true in your story."

He was overwhelmed that anything could be that good to be true.  And I know exactly how he felt!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Barn Door Open

I was pumping gas today and while I stood there in the freezing cold, willing the gas to flow faster into my tank so that I could climb back into my warm minivan, I noticed a man at the pump in front of me.

He was driving a souped up Audi.  I'm not familiar with the models and engine speeds and what not, but it looked like a pretty snazzy looking car.

Lord help me if I am ever witness to a crime and have to be interviewed by police.

"What kind of car was the perpetrator driving, Licha?"

"Um, was like medium and a like a shade of blue but gray and was fairly newish and looked kind of stylish. It was like a Ford or Chevy or Buick kind of car."

For real, if the police report depended on me, the perp would send me a flowers from his new home in the Caribbean. He'd attach a note that would say "Thanks for being so obliviously stupid."

But anyway, this guy in his fancy shmancy Audi was wearing a crisp white shirt with gold cufflinks and a nice tie.When our gazes met I smiled.  He rolled his eyes, turned up his nose and looked away.

Perhaps he doesn't associate with people like me; people who wear a sweat shirt with leggings that have paint stains on them.  Can you tell I'm a fashionista?  I don't drive a fancy Audi.  I drive a beat up mini-van with white scrapes along the sides, evidence that my husband struggles to park the thing in the garage.

My hair was pulled up in a pony tail and perhaps I looked disheveled. Unworthy of acknowledgment.

Still it made me laugh that he felt superior to me in that moment.  You see, the man, as prim and proper as he was; had his barn door open. WIDE OPEN.

It's amazing that he didn't feel anything. It was a cold day and I'm surprised he didn't catch a breeze.

I smiled at him again when I drove past him.  I may not have looked pretty.  But at least I didn't show my panties to everyone at the Mini-Mart while I pumped gas.

Here's the lesson kids: it's impossible to be snotty and think you're better than other people when your underpants are showing. Furthermore, if you turn your nose up at people they are less likely to nicely (and quietly) point this out to you and more likely to drive by and continue to let you make a fool out of yourself.  Just sayin'

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Trip To The Hospital

Our family plagues came to a head this week when we ended up in the emergency room with my husband.

After the violent stomach bug had it's way with our youngest daughter it hit the boy as I predicted. Then it attacked me and I was down for the count for a day and a half.  It didn't even have the decency to give notice.  It didn't knock on the door or leave a message and tell me it was coming by, it dropped out of the sky, the size of a meteor, and knocked me over. 

I was standing in the kitchen minding my own business when all of a sudden my stomach started to sieze and spasm with such intensity that I thought I must have accidentally swallowed a pipe bomb.  I was vomiting within seconds.  Thankfully the bathroom was a mere five steps away.  Had it been six steps I wouldn't have made it.

My husband got the tail end of it although I suspect he was given a big man sized dose of it because he seemed far worse off than the rest of us. His symptoms were different but no less intense.

I couldn't tell if he got the 5 year old girl dose or the 40 year old man dose, I suspect they are on in the same.  Either way, we ended up in the E.R.

I don't do well with emergency rooms. I don't do well with hospitals in general. I spent way too much time in them with my mom when I was a kid and they still scare me.

When I was little, I'd walk in with my mom and they'd whisk her away and leave me all by myself.  It made me feel helpless and alone.  Mostly because when she went in it was always a life or death sort of situation and there was always the possibility that I would be walking out of the hospital by myself forever.

I wish I could tell you that it felt any different when I took my husband in but that's not what happened.  They whisked him away and I sat there alone, just like I had when I was a kid, wondering what would happen if things went wrong and I ended up alone forever.

As a kid I was afraid to take care of myself, what would I do? Where would I go? Who would help me.  As an adult I am afraid of taking care of my kids. What would I do? Where would I go? Who would help me?

Of course, there was nothing that serious with my husband, thank God.  He needed fluids and some medicine and a little rest under the care of professionals.  He was sent home within 6 hours but I'm still rattled.

The experience ignited some kind of crazy negative nostalgia that I can't seem to shake.  We're fine.  We'll be fine and life will return to normal.  Except that now I got a glimpse (just a sliver- a tiny little peek) into the paralyzing fear that will overwhelm me if something ever really did happen to my husband.  And it gives me nightmares.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Making My Daughter Proud

I was talking to my husband the other night about how writing a book (did I just say that out loud?) is proving to be ridiculously hard.  It's taken me to ugly places as I revisit painful childhood memories.  There are many that popped up, like unearthed fossils just beneath the surface that were forgotten until I kicked some shit around.

"I may not have what it takes to do this.  It will require hours of daily commitment, brain-crushing thought and maybe even years of reviews, edits and drafts.  I was crazy to think I could write a book," I said.

My oldest daughter's ears perked up, having only heard "write a book."  "You're writing a book, Mommy? Like a real-life, honest to goodness book you could get in a library?"

"Well, I'm trying," I said, sort of deflated.

"THAT is the most amazing thing ever! If you could write a  book then I could write a book and then I could do almost anything and that is so exciting, when are you going to finish? Can I read it? What's it about? "

She continued to ask a string of questions that I didn't hear because my thoughts drifted as I suddenly realized that in this moment she was seeing me as a real person for the first time.  Up until this point, she'd only seen me as her mom but now she was looking at me as a woman with a little talent, some motivation and support from family who was going to try to give this gargantuan thing a shot. Being a stay at home mom can wreak havoc on your identity.  I never realized how much I had missed myself until she saw me as something other than just her mom.

When she said, "if you can do that then I can do almost anything", I realized that this book thing was no longer a choice.  I had to pull up my girlie panties, pull my pencil out of my holster and get to work.

 I was spurred on by the opportunity to make my daughter proud.  But more importantly, at the opportunity to show her that all things are possible.  And that your feelings have nothing to do with your potential.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Blog Hop

As many of you know, Google Friend Connect will soon be gone and we bloggers will have to have another way for readers to follow us!

But have no fear! Linky Followers is here!

Cheri at It's So Very Cheri has created this fantastic Party Hop!

I would love for you to follow me via Linky Followers as well
as join in on the hoppin with us!!

1. You must have the LINKY FOLLOWERS tool on your site to participate.
2. You must follow the person who has the party on their site as a thank you.
3.Just add your blog button to the Linky Party below.
4.Grab the Blog Hop code which is right under the Linky Party where it says "Get The Code Here".
5. Follow other bloggers (as many as you want) & leave each one of the blogs that you follow a comment letting them know you are following them, & ask them to follow you back.

Now, just click below to enter your blog & get the code!

What Would You Do?

Imagine if you will...

You are at the supermarket and have $60.00 in your pocket to do your weekly shopping.  You've planned your meals, clipped coupons and have somehow, miraculously figured out a way to make the numbers work so that you can get everything you need for you and your family's needs.

There is still much you could use.  But you're going to do without because payday is just around the corner and it won't kill you to go without ketchup or grapes or orange juice. You'll get your necessities.

While you're shopping, you turn down an aisle and see a man with a cart-full of food and two kids.  He is flipping through coupons and trying to control the antics of the two toddlers who are wrangling around.  One is leaned over the cart in such a way that you praise Jesus she is strapped in because if she was not, she would fall splat and her head would explode like a chucked watermelon.

You stop mid aisle and wonder if you could possibly stretch the budget enough to get some juice boxes for your kid's lunches.  You check your list again, total the amount of stuff in your head and try to figure in the tax.  There might be enough wiggle room.

Then you turn and notice a $20 lying right at your feet. A crisp bill just sitting there, begging for you to pick it up and stuff it into your wallet.  You look around.  Nobody is there.

What do you do? Clearly this money does not belong to you.  But you could REALLY use it! Do you keep it? Do you try to find it's owner? The devil on your shoulder tries to convince you that whoever dropped it must have not cared about it if they dropped it so carelessly.  Maybe it would be good if you took it.  It would teach them a lesson!

Or maybe this could be God, right? Providing at a moment of need. He does work in mysterious ways and after all, this twenty landed at your feet.  How stupid would you be not to take it.

Or maybe it's a test?

This did happen to me a few days ago.  I ended up tracking down the guy with the two kids because I figured he could be the only one it could possibly belong to.  He had taken out $300 from the ATM and was short exactly $20.00.  He was shocked and happy that I returned it to him. I'm not exactly sure why I did it.  I had to fight every urge in my body.  Every part of me was screaming at me to keep it.

I was happy I did it although I walked out of the store without my ketchup and juice boxes.  I got them 5 days later on payday and we survived just fine, in one piece.  More importantly, my integrity was in one piece too.

This might make up for that time I pocketed the $20 I found in an ATM dispenser one night. Maybe. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Mustache You A Question...

We made some homemade Valentine's Day cards between the bouts of vomiting and stomach cramps. Aren't they cute?

You can buy printable professional looking V-day cards that say the same thing if you go to Etsy.  They are really nice, but I figured I could make a cheaper version.

I think we succeeded pretty nicely.  This is red construction paper folded in half.  I taped on a mustache that I printed from the internet and my son added the google eyes because he thought it needed a little something extra.

On the inside it says: "...will you be my Valentine?"  I added a "To" and "From" where my son could add his name and the names of his classmates.  Then we taped little packages of pop rocks to the inside.

Cute and total cost? $3.00 (I got two bags of pop rocks and one bag of google eyes from the dollar store).

We used the same google eyes for my youngest daughter's Valentines too. I just drew a heart and added a few details to make it look spiffy.  The inside of the card says "I've got my EYE on you!"  And we attached a lollipop too.

It took a little extra time to do these rather than the conventional Valentines that come in a box but I think the final result was worth it.  Plus, we had a lot of fun doing it.  I'm not a very crafty mom and this is about the extent of it.  My yearly craft project is now done. :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No Power

1 comment:
We lost power again today.  This is no longer a surprising occurrence for us.  For as much as we lose power, you might think that we live in the slums of Bangladesh rather than the suburbs of Hartford. 

For real, we can count how often we are without power in terms of WEEKS rather than hours or days.  Our electric company has been running ads about how they are improving their service and working hard to maintain safety.  I'm sure they are.  Although that's hardly comforting when day five, six and seven rolls around and you're still without a running refrigerator!

When I saw the commercial I rolled my eyes.  "You are doing a great job of providing quality electric service...unless the wind blows to hard.  Or a fly's fart is so rough it reverberates and knocks out a power line", I say. Because the lights go out with what seems like the slightest provocation. I bet I could go outside right now and stare at a power line with a deep gaze and it would blow up.

Oh well, it is what it is.  I can't help but notice that when the power goes out, I get overwhelmed by such a feeling of freedom.  I don't have any more "connected" options like television or computer or even the washing machine.  I can sit in the stillness and read a book.  Or play "connect four" with my kids.  It's liberating to be without power.

When we were out of power for our second week (not consecutively but close enough) in the last few months, I was sort of sad when it came back on.  We were using a generator for the refrigerator and to charge our cell phones for emergencies but everything else was shut off.  We read books and played countless games, took naps and played outside.  It was like a vacation from all the business of life and reminded me that sometimes the best way to live, is most certainly the simplest.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What I Know For Sure

Have you ever read the Oprah magazine and seen the section she calls "Things I Know For Sure?"  It's essentially a place where she can bestow upon us readers the things she's learned over the years.  Much she's learned through trial and error and wants us to know so that we can go forth and not make the same mistakes.

I have one such nugget of wisdom for you today.

I know for sure: when you talk about other people, you are really just talking about yourself.

Are you telling someone about how your boss is a real jackass?  In reality, you're talking about your lack of patience and understanding.

Are you gossiping to one friend about another friend who gets under your skin?  What you're really doing is telling the one friend that she can't trust you not to talk about her too.

Are you bragging about your husband and how he worships the ground you walk on? It speaks volumes about your insecurities.

I'm TOTALLY guilty of this.  My love of talk (and writing) has presented me with my share of pickles.  Be ye not as stupid as I!  I've learned this lesson the hard way and now I try to speak only good things (with the occasional slip up-nobody's perfect).

I'm learning to keep my mouth shut unless it's truly out of kindness and reverence.  And right now I'm going to talk about some a good way.

 I have a friend named Maria who just happens to be one of the best mother's I've ever known. Every time I'm with her, I admire the way she teaches her children. There are a lot of great moms out there- but let me tell you - she stands out.  It has nothing to do with a clean house or well behaved kids or all the things we come to associate with what it looks like to be a great mom although she's a star at those things too.

It has to do with things like supporting her kids to be their authentic selves without interjecting herself into the equation. Things  like being honest about her shortcomings.  She can also perform her version of "the miracle of the oil" by taking 2 drops of patience and making them last for what seems like an inhumanely possible amount of time.  She makes me want to be a better mom.  If I said this to her, she'd turn it right back on me and say something like, " thanks but...YOU'RE the great mom!" And she'd mean it.  Can you tell that I admire her humility as well?

I have another friend, Jessica who loves God in a quiet yet fierce sort of way that makes me stand in awe.  If you handed Jessica a little money so she could join you on a trip to Timbuktu to help one child and you  promised her that she's burn in 104 degree weather for days on end and get eaten by mosquitoes the size of ostriches, she's go with you.  For that chance to help just one person.  If she's reading this she's thinking that she'd love those things but is too scared to do them. I acknowledge her fears although I would also point out that she has a long history of laying down her life for the people she loves. She will live in two places at once, she will endure hardships and never complain about them.

She will do the most unselfish things and not only be okay with them, she'll thank God for the opportunity and ask what more she can do to help. Every time Jessica and I get together, she talks about things she'd like to improve about herself.  She doesn't do this in a self-bashing kind of way, but rather like she's simply making a house-cleaning checklist of things that need to get done.  "I need to be braver.  I need to be more patient."  And every time she does this, she inadvertently makes me remember that I need to improve on those things too.  Kind of like how it never occurs to you to vacuum your mattresses until someone tells you that they just vacuumed theirs and you go, "oh yeah...I guess I need to be doing that too!"

I have another (new) friend named Crystal who is perhaps one of the most inspirational people I've ever known in real life.  Her husband was wrongfully convicted of a terrible crime and spent 18 years in prison for it.  He was completely exonerated and he now speaks to crowds all over the country about how capitol punishment must be stopped.   She's survived it all.  She's endured.  Through all of it she's been faithful to both her husband and her God.  She recently emailed me about an article I wrote about her detailing all the kinds of amazing she is and she was flabbergasted.

It always makes me laugh when terrible people think they are great and great people think they aren't that special.  Crystal is special.  She's blushing right about now as she reads this.  Or maybe she's crying because she's needed to hear it.  Probably both.  I can't help but think about Crystal when I grow impatient with my life...or with God.  She is a constant reminder that perseverance is the key to survival!

Maybe I shouldn't be telling you these things.  Maybe I shouldn't be talking about other people at all but I want you to know that there are amazing people in the world.  Many out there, you might never notice.  They are tucked away in the suburbs washing umpteen loads of laundry or stocking books at Barnes and Noble.

When I speak I want people to know that I've become reverent.  That I acknowledge my flaws and that I'm learning to be teachable.

What do you want people to know about you when you speak?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vomit, Sunshine and Valentines

Remember how I told you that our youngest two kids hadn't been sick? Yeah, I totally jinxed myself.

The kids went to their Grandma's for a sleepover this weekend and we got a call at 3am.  The little one had been throwing up for 2 hours.  She's still throwing up and doing other things that we don't mention in polite company.

I know that we've been sick around here and that's probably the cause but I can't help noting that I took her to her pediatrician for a well visit on Thursday.  It seems like every time we go in there, somebody comes out with the plague.  It's like a cesspool of germs, that place! It may as well be a back alley in Tijuana, Mexico!

There's only one of us left to fall and it's just a matter of time.  The boy is next and his days are numbered.

On the plus side, the weather has been nice.  It hardly feels like February in New England.  The other day I left the house in Capri pants and it was hardly inappropriate.  I imagine my tulip shoots will be peeking out soon, lured by the warm, daytime sunshine only to see their early deaths at the hands of the frigid nights.

I'm typing this with only 3 hours of sleep under my belt.  I'm nearly catatonic.  Oh well, I'm up and I need to get started on Valentines Day cards.  Indeed, love is in the air.  Unless of course you're talking about my house in which case it would be appropriate to say that germs are in the air.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Own Personal Everest

On her website, Stephenie Meyer talks about the process of writing and publishing her Twilight Series.  In it, she describes how she performed her daily stay-at-home mom necessities and put everything else on the back burner as she wrote furiously.

I only mention this because I thought of it as I looked around at my house this morning.  There is a pile of dishes in my sink and clean load in the dishwasher.  Piles of books, mail and other odds and ends litter my counter tops.

In our guest bathroom, I have thrown (what must amount to )about five loads of laundry in the bathtub.  I did this so I could get it off the floor.  Also, if someone comes over, I can quickly shut the shower curtain and viola, it disappears!

I've been seriously neglecting my housework in lieu of writing.  It's coming fast.  It's coming furious.  If only it looked like Vin Diesel.

Thank God my family is understanding.  The good news about a husband who doesn't seem to notice when you DO clean is that on the flip side, he's unlikely to notice when you DON'T clean.  Such is the case with my hubby!

I feel like my mind is overflowing with descriptions, dialogues and memories. It's all coming so quickly and I can't seem to write fast enough to keep up. Also, every change I make leads to more changes.

Uh, I'm feeling so completely ill equipped to do this. I've written consistently for six years but never more than a blog's worth.

I imagine this is what it feels like when a rock climber takes those first few steps onto Mt. Everest.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun With Words

My five year old is playing school.  She is the teacher of a Kindergarten class.  She's wearing a pair of black, patent-leather high heeled shoes and eye glasses with the lenses punched out.

"Open your books kids", she says as she licks her finger and uses it to open a book.

"We are going to read all about leaves today .  Can you say leaves? Repeat after me.  Leeeaaavvveeesss.  Good job!"

She begins to read.

"In a day there were leaves and colors.  Can you spell leaves? N.o.w.l.f.g.s...that spells leaves.

I find it highly doubtful that her class will be graduating to the first grade.  And I'm starting to question her credentials.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Delusional Inspiration?

I've been inspired to start writing something.  It could be a book.  I'm rolling my eyes at myself for even typing that sentence because to me, it sounds so completely ridiculous.

My saying that I'm ready to write a book is like my five year old walking up to me and declaring that she's been inspired to start investing in the stock market.

Nevertheless, inspiration can often times induce delusion and while I'm still in the honeymoon phase of this kind of commitment, I'm going to try to enjoy it.

I joined a writers group and submitted the first four chapters.  Then I sat back and bit my fingernails while the critiques started to come in.  I peeked through my fingers when I read my first one because I was sure that it was going to say something like, "did you write this thing with an extra large crayon because it's THAT elementary!"

Much to my surprise, I got some really fantastic feedback from some pretty amazing writers.  They gave me creative ideas, pointed me in good directions and best of all, encouraged me.  Except for that one who told me that the fact that my family was Mexican doesn't help the story.  I appreciated his comments but autobiographies do tend to require real facts.  Even if you don't like that I'm Mexican.

The story is dark...really dark, which is a surprise for me because I tend to be a light-hearted, humorous kind of person.  It's just that when I sat down and started to write something funny,  my brain kept sputtering and demanding that I write something completely different.  The story was dying to be told.

It's about me and my life growing up.  I can't even put into words how incredibly hard it's been to write this thing.  It's required me to go places I never wanted to go again; to explore situations and draw conclusions.  It's made me dig through my memory vault which is dark, cold, scary and covered with cob-webs.

I've spent days in front of my computer, typing paragraph after paragraph while weeping and on the verge of a panic attack.  I'm thinking of posting the preface and maybe even the first chapter here, to see if it's something that people would want to read.  I'd be open to constructive critiques and advice and most of all...hugs. Be forewarned; if you like chapter 1 and want to read the rest of the book, you might be waiting like, oh, YEARS for me to finish it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We've Got A Super Virus On Our Hands

As much as I would have liked to tell you that the illness that's been worming it's way through our house for the last three weeks has packed it's bags, slung them over it's shoulder and is hitch hiking somewhere down I 91 right now, that's unfortunately not the case.

Instead, it found a nice cozy place in the corner of the house where it went into incubation and metamorphosed into some kind of serial killer super bug.  More specifically, a vomit inducing, diarrhea super bug.


So...needless to say, my oldest is home from school again today.  She spent most of last night vomiting.  She crept into my room at three in the morning and stood over me.

"I just vomited all over the bathroom", she said.  It jolted me out of deep sleep and I quickly caught a whiff of the stench, the smell still hung thick in the air.

For some reason, she's the only one of the kids who has been sick this year.  Over breakfast, the other two contemplated why this is.

"Maybe it's cause she didn't wash her hands last Tuesday when mom told us to and she didn't do it.  I KNEW she was gonna pay for that!"

"Noooo, I bet it's because she kissed the dog on the mouth!"

They could be right about that last one.  She's asleep now, tucked comfortably into my bed which now that I  think about it is probably now serving as a giant petri dish.

I hate that she's sick but there is a part of me that so enjoys snuggling up with her to read a book in the complete stillness of the afternoon.