Friday, May 29, 2009

I did it! I did it! I did it!

I finished the last scene.

The one I once again was so emotionally attached to, I couldn’t write it.

But I didn’t realize it was the emotional nature of the scene that was holding me back -

Until I actually was able to write it.

I wrote it crying, or holding back from crying.

The only thing missing was the swelling background chords.

My main character realizes his triumphs in the end, but better yet, he recognizes all the help he didn’t realize he had along the way.

So here’s to the help I had along the way:

To all the moms, and then some, at

who listened to me whine and encouraged and supported and came up with ideas to help me write around when I was stuck. In particular, thank you to Miranda Hersey-Helin for getting me to a place I could dust this old manuscript off and finish it. It took me a year to finish this first draft, which included many rewrites and edits along the way, after it sat for 4-5 years in a backed up document file and in a file cabinet.

To Joe and Ted, my Boston buddies who have been listening to me lament about writer’s block for over 20 years -and also for being just as excited for me when I was having a good stretch.

To Cathy J, whose friendship from second grade was rekindled about the time I started writing this thing, and who has listened to me whine daily and always been nothing but encouraging and creative through this whole ride.

To all my new and old friends who have offered to read and been excited and encouraging as I worked on this project.

To my boys, who constantly interrupt and inspire. K, especially or being the first reader of the first pages way back when, and saying he wanted to read more.

To my girl for laying me up in a horrible pregnancy and making me realize that while it was tight, we could survive on one income while I healed from her pregnancy and tried to write with less distraction than if I had a job to report to besides the three kids…

To my mother-in-law for putting up with my frustrations and all of the above under one roof while I was trying to write...

And last but not least, certainly not least, as he supported all of us financially, and emotionally me through my awful pregnancy, and after and the manuscript process, which was a lot like the pregnancy, as I whined about how I couldn’t write it nearly as easily as I thought, and generally acted piss poor around the house as I was constantly interrupted, dear, beautiful sweet, supportive, not much of a reader outside of tech and photo magazines husband, Andrew. Boy did he put up with a lot. I hope he knows how much I really do appreciate him for what he endured from me - because I really had to suck to be around for the past two years.

I’d also like to thank the teacher and 5th-6th grade class where I was a class assistant in 2003-5. Thanks, Emily M and gang! If it weren’t for my time with you, this manuscript wouldn’t even be a thought on the horizon.

Now, onto Draft 2 and the edits!

Cheers, Salute, Chin-chin!

Newest guilty pleasure: True Blood

I’ve always enjoyed offbeat things like sci-fi series and getting involved in a good storyline. I try to keep my TV viewing to a minimum, which I will honestly say, I’m not very successful in doing, because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m pooped. At night, I veg in front of the almighty pixel lit box. However, now that the major TV season and Lost are over until next year sometime, I’m beginning to branch out.

I never used to carry the HBO channel spectrum, because the guys were young and didn’t need even more channels to watch, and I didn’t want to pay for more than basic cable, anyway. Now that we have our internet through the cable company, we have to carry HBO. For a long time, I have been avoiding it, but I recently got hooked into one of their new series. Honey and I discovered True Blood in on-demand. We’re playing catch up before the new season starts in a couple of weeks.

Now, while I love the symbolism inherent in any good vampire tale, I have never become ensconced in the whole vampire fan-base. I don’t read Anne Rice like she’s the be-all end-all of the truth of vampires. I don’t get hooked into every vampire thing since the old Nasferatu or Bela Lugosi Dracula movies. I don’t succumb to the I wish I were a vampire fantasy that so many these days go to great lengths to profess. I don’t cut my hair with a widow’s peak, dye it black, or get my teeth molded into fangs through cosmetic dentistry or even wear Byronicly frilly blouses. I have bought Twilight, the book, but my fourteen year old’s review so far is that it is mind-numbingly plotless, so he hasn’t finished it yet. He says it is a chick book. I do want to read it to see what all of the hubbub is about. I see perfectly reasonable literature reading people going crazy over it like I did over the Harry Potter series. But back to True Blood.

I’m only six episodes in, but so far it seems like a great character-driven piece of fantasy drama. It has romance, a torn moral vampire (of course) who fits neither with the hedonistic vamps or humans. It has a spunky main character in Anna Paquin’s lead and her brother’s hedonism is unraveling him. There are juicy, bloody murders, and blood-drained ones, and plenty of sexual over and undertones, a requisite in any vampire tale. There are friends with benefits, dirty nasty vampire sex, dirty nasty vampire wish sex, romps of one night stands and unrequited triangles that lay over each other in very interesting puzzles. And then there’s Sookie and Bill. And I am really loving Sam at this point, but I’ve always loved dogs, so go fig. Lafayette has a whole different show going on behind that bead curtain, too, that I would love to see. My favorite character I can’t get enough of is tough talking Tara. I am torn up about Gran/Adele’s murder. Frankly, it should have come later than the sixth episode because she is the single most loveable pure heart character in this guilty pleasure of a show. All of the characters, main and supporting, are something to behold. Yes, they lean toward stereotypes, but I want to get to know them, and have the stereotype fade.

As for Tru Blood, the synthetic drink for vampires looking to mainstream, I can’t help but think of Diet Coke. Having been born in Atlanta and raised on Coke, I’m a bit of a purist and consider anything but the Real Thing to be a poor imitation. I guess I’m more like the bad vampires, in that respect, but like Bill, I’ve lived a long time without the Real Thing, as I try to be healthy, eating and drinking well, instead of supporting the big corporations in their addictive HFCS source of sweetness and orgiastic junk food which is leading us down a hedonistic road toward a national obesity epidemic. But I digress.

In the very interesting title sequence, backed by my favorite Chris Isaak song, if I don’t blink near the end, apparently the series is based on a book series, Sookie Stackhouse…then it disappears…

I can’t wait to watch it tonight so I can find out what that book series is completely called and who it’s written by, so I can go read it.

Not that I’m obsessed with vampires or anything. But if the storyline continues the way it has so far, I just have to get to the source!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A chorus of birds trilling to wake the day

A moment of five a.m. wakefulness later
they sound like grumpy nagging -

a city of mothers stuck sitting on eggs
or tending the little ones, beaks open,
asking asking, asking of her –
she asks, asks, asks papa bird
for just a little help please.

Bring us a worm, can’t you hear them?
Aah! I can’t do this myself!

Or maybe I’m just projecting –
my voice among thousands screaming at the dawn.

Until, done nursing, my baby rolls over,
and I may have another moment’s peace

Before my day begins
asking, asking, asking.

Writer’s Block in the extreme

How do I get from this:

to a complete final chapter?

This page has been staring me in the face for weeks now from the left side of my desk. Behind this page in my mind’s eye, I can see the movie version playing with all the characters I have introduced and their reactions to Felix as he begins his presentation.

I see the principal giving a very-pleased-to-have-this-young-man-in-our-midst introduction. I see his parents settling into the folding chairs proud as parents can be, I see row upon row of classes increasing in grade level to the back of the room, his friends toward the back, his sisters in the front row. I see his difficult sister coming around, and his shy sister, finally without her thumb in her mouth watching him with a grin from ear to ear. I see the school nurse/confidante and the gym teacher who broke up the fight cheering him on with thumbs up on the side lines. I hear Felix’s thoughts as he surveys the room before he begins to speak, moving from nervous exhilaration to knowing he’s had a lot of support all along, if he’d only recognized it, and now that he does, he knows he can do this presentation better than anyone. His solitary nerves disappear and by virtue of his feelings of support from so many he loves and who love him, he realizes anything is possible.

Really, this of all the chapters should be the easiest to write. All the difficulties he’s gone through are over, the good things are securely in place. So how is it I can’t write the words to put him on stage, in front of the audience for the chapter to occur and wrap up this book?

Everything I’ve said above and more I’ve been saying to myself for a very long time. I’ve been saying them through writing much of the rest of the book, through his trials and tribulations, I have had this scene in mind since the first page was written in 2004, maybe even 2003. All I know is the class I was working in at the time and that it was that class that inspired this idea. Sixth graders, gotta love them. Wow, they must be graduating high school now. And I’m still hung up in this book!

Please, does anyone know how to put his feet on the steps up to the stage to start this ending? I’m killing myself here between knowing what I want to write, the lack of uninterrupted time and sleep that affect the work, and the sheer actual words that will put him on stage. The movie in my head seems to have come out before the advent talkies.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge in my inner dialogue. I figured if I wrote it down and put it 'out there' I might make actual progress - maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why oh why?

Can’t I write my final scene which is already laid out pretty well in a spiral notebook which has been open on my desk for a couple of weeks or so now?

Can’t I write the essay that should be the result of the interview I conducted a couple of weeks ago?

Can’t I clean up my room from the buckets that should be switched seasonal clothes and back in the attic for a few weeks now?

Can’t I get it together to practice tai chi, yoga, take my walks, or engage in any regular form of exercise?

Can’t I plan a dinner beyond the five minutes before I cook it?

Because I’m pooped, that’s why.

Because I can’t keep one strain of thought going when I turn around to leave the room to go do that thing, what was it – I was going to leave the room to do.

Because I’d rather read a book, even if I can only manage three pages at a time.

Because I’d rather cuddle the baby who kept me up all night again, as she drowsily skips her nap, again.

And that’s why I’m so pooped.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Land of the Lost

I've been up all night - since about 1:30am with a squirmy, not quite sleeping toddler. I'm feeling a bit lost today.

This reminds me of yesterday's Sci-Fi Channel marathon of old Land of the Lost episodes that I grew up loving.

I talked my 14yo son into watching an episode for the sheer 70s campiness of it.

the following conversation ensued:

K: Wow, 70s TV really sucked. I can't believe they actually photoshopped in the raft to a trickling stream!

DH: Photoshop had not been invented yet, kiddo.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Groucho Marx

The other day, I spoke with my twenty years and running friend back in Boston, Joe. Every so often, when I do, I can’t help but think of Groucho Marx. Groucho has always guaranteed a laugh from us both. Even in his ridiculous statements, the grain of truth is liable to get stuck in a tooth.

So in the interest of making me shut up upon occasion, enjoy some Groucho-isms:

Before I speak, I have something important to say.

Humor is reason gone mad.
I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

And last, but certainly not least, the following always puts a smile on my face for days and days, especially when I can find someone with whom to sing it aloud. Watching it again also reminded me of my lifelong infatuation with Harpo. How can anyone not love Harpo?! Harpo has a stellar autobiography, by the way: Harpo Speaks.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I‘ve spent so much time thinking how odd it is that K will be starting high school next year, that the entire concept that he’s graduating middle school has completely by-passed any mental space I have leftover after S’s day-to-day- functioning and Baby C’s needs. That’s what I get for having one independent kid. Poor guy, I’m so busy handling the others and musing about his future that I completely miss his present. We’ve been discussing college options since he was four, but I haven’t even bought a sport coat that’ll fit him for three weeks before his arms hang like ape arms out of the sleeves. I just know the moment he walks across the stage to shake hands with the principal is going to hit me like an oncoming Mac truck. I’m certain to burst into blubbering sobs because I have given myself absolutely no emotional preparation for this. It was just last week that his graduation even made an appearance on the horizon in my head.

This is going to be big – mondo! This is my first child’s first graduation experience since preschool. I hate to say it, but I can’t recall a preschool graduation per se. I think I remember an end of year party. I asked him, and he doesn’t remember it either. I don’t think there are any pictures. What happened? That’s a real shame. I don’t think his class had one for kindergarten and I moved him from a K-6 school to a district with a middle school starting in 6th grade at the end of his 5th grade year. He’s been ripped off.

I don’t know how he flies under my radar so much in an average day of our lives. I am pre-occupied with finishing the manuscript, and with his younger brother and sister. He’s pretty quiet and keeps to himself a lot. Mostly he’s reached an age and gathered friends in the neighborhood so that his primary activity is the ubiquitous teen requisite: hanging out anywhere as long as it’s away from adults. Sometimes, when he’s in my vicinity, it suddenly occurs to me that days or weeks have gone by with nary a hug. When he was little, he was the biggest cuddle bunny, constantly against me in full body leans, and taking my face in his little hands to tell me he loves me. Now I walk up to him in the kitchen, put my arms around his lanky frame, and usually have to take his limp arms and wrap them around me in a bit of tragicomedy.

The truth of the matter is that, while I feel like I’ve always been a parent, he is growing up faster than I could have imagined. His milestones are more and more like adult milestones, and so my reaction isn’t what is for his thirteen month old sister. His milestones are normalized against his brother’s, which can seem monumental. And because, even as a little kid, he’s had such a sense of adultness about him, that his milestones come off as givens rather than what they are, which should be remarkable. Oh, he recognizes the need for common good. Oh, he’s waxing poetic on the existential nature of God. Oh, his feet have outgrown mine. Oh, didn’t I just buy those high water pants last week? Oh, wait, is that the first hint of a moustache?! Oh, he’s actually interacting with his baby sister. Oh, he’s consciously choosing to not take this opportunity to fight with his brother. I should be doing much more than having passing thoughts of his capacity to be a kind, to consider any question of spirituality, to grow like the Bermuda grass in my gardens beyond my control.

And maybe that’s it. The idea that he is graduating from middle school has come on so suddenly and sharply, because I know the next handful of years will be spent just trying to balance between allowing him to experience the freedoms that come with self-sufficiency, and keeping him safe. Like his toddler sister running to and fro with not enough sleep bonking her head on furniture, I just want to hold him close, not let him fall on his face as he figures out the world of being a young man for himself. Hopefully I have prepared him well to go at life with abandon, but not so much that he runs headlong into trouble. And maybe, just a little bit, behind all this wondering about his independence, I’m a little fearful, that as he becomes a man, I know him less than I did when I could easily scoop him up in my arms; that there may be those in his friends, who may know him more.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tai Chi, schmai chi

Why am I not skinny yet?

Maybe it’s because my dear Honey, who I roped into the class with me, and I aren’t practicing outside of our early Saturday morning class.

Maybe it’s because after a weekend of intensive gardening, on Mother’s Day weekend, I haven’t done much else, and my back is still stiff. But stiff is still better than out, so that’s a start.

Maybe it’s the carb-loading pasta dinners with extra bread - and second helpings.

And the ice cream and chips and salsa snacks in the afternoons while folding laundry and watching Oprah.

But I really didn’t appreciate Master Ko telling us this past Saturday that it takes about two years to really get comfortable with Tai Chi. "Like tennis or golf or any other sport." he helpfully pointed out.

We’re on our third class.

Those Dexatrim commercials are beginning to look attractive…

Monday, May 18, 2009

So I'm no John Updike

When John Updike passed away recently, Charlie Rose aired a great retrospective of his handful of interviews with Updike and I watched absorbed, as I have always loved Updike, and Charlie Rose fairly gushes when interviewing him. One stand out moment for a writer watching enraptured as I was - and I’m paraphrasing the wondrous Updike here - he said "If I’m not writing at least six hours a day, six days a week, I feel like I’m faking it, that I can’t call myself a writer." He equated it with a carpenter and other professions showing up to the grind.

I caught the message, and while I do sit here for some extended hours of the day, I don’t write six hours worth of steady writing a day. My first thought when I was watching as he said it was: Yeah, well where was Mrs. Updike during those six hours, six days a week? For many years, I imagine, raising his kids, doing his laundry, making his meals, etc., while he got to wile away his time in front of his notebook and typewriter, blissfully alone with his thoughts in order to write them down.

I have a strong work ethic that plants my butt in this chair in front of this computer everyday. But it’s a highly interrupted work ethic as I still manage the household from my seat as well as watch the baby and the guys, and garden and laundry, and well, you get the idea. While I am writing, or not writing as the case may be, I am still managing S’s special needs with his school, which currently involves shooting emails to his teacher, but not much more, thankfully. It was a rough couple of years there. I’m still trying to figure out the better ways to manage his development positively at home and keep tabs on the teen and the toddler who is generally in my arms or getting into the wires underfoot.

In the meantime I’m constantly sketching scenes in my head when I’m away from the computer attending to life, and often find myself quite divided and making very slow progress on the manuscript. Nevermind, being so close to its end that I’m leaping ahead mentally to other ideas… really can’t wait until I I finish this manuscript, so that when I am listening to my kids, I am present. When I hug them, that is all I am doing, not mentally writing a possible scene variation at the same time.

Is this ADD? Is it simply the limitations of a brain functioning on a minimum of sleep for several years now? Is it is just the thoughts at this stage of a manuscript for any writer who also happens to be a mother-wife-you name your hyphenation here. I have lots of them. I choose all of the above particularly that last bit. I am too busy having a life and managing so many others, that I can’t have the old Virginia Woolf Room of One’s Own experience. Neither can any of the other writer-mothers I know. I feel torn in many directions all the time, but mostly between the kids, my husband, and writing.

So I’m no John Updike. I do however really miss his articles in the New Yorker tremendously.

Blackberry Jam

Nothing quite hits the spot like blackberry jam on toast.

While I enjoyed the sparkly earthy flavor, I was reminded of when S was between three and six years old, when he demanded to rent a couple of old videotapes of animation collections from our then local video store. Around when he turned seven, they sold off a bunch of the old VHS tapes to make room for the newfangled DVDs and we missed our chance to make those tapes our own. Some lucky person beat us to them.

I'm taking the long way around on this to tell you of one of his former obsessions: Blackberry Subway Jam. He would recite and act out the whole cartoon to anyone after he watched it repeatedly. When I bit into my blackberry toast, this is what came to mind. It really is delightful and wonderfully subversive re: bureaucracy when viewed through the proper lens. Amazing what can be found in children's tales....


(one of these days i'll learn how to edit in a video link so you can see it. bear with me til then, please)

Accomplishments big and small

In this past week we saw quite a few milestones in our home, here’s a list of a few:

The boys had Interim Reports, like a report card, but it doesn’t really count.. kind of a mid-marking period way of letting parents know: Dude, your kid is failing- get on their butt about it…or in my kids’ case, hanging in there…pay a little more attention to the Math, kiddo. K’s B’s could be A’s….S is doing fine, even an A in Social Studies!

Baby C has graduated from just learning her first few tentative independent steps to running headlong into the world. The boys are so old now, I almost forgot how incredible this phase is. The dynamism of first independence on her face, the bonks to match…and three new teeth!

K is now wearing adult-sized clothes…but he still doesn’t want to shop for them.

My vegetable gardens are planted! That is quite a singular accomplishment: mine. I’ll admit I had help from K and Honey in moving by wheel barrow the two year old dirt pile from the side of the house into my three plots. I ran six loads. To grow: Plot #1: sweet peppers, 3 types tomatoes, sugar snap peas, pole beans and okra. The okra is from my own seeds; in front in pots: chives, basil and thyme. Plot #2 carrots, spinach, blue lake beans, beets, and potatoes, at front in the herb department: oregano and lavender. Plot #3 cantaloupe, watermelon, butternut squash, yellow straight-neck squash, zucchini and cucumbers. I’m really hoping I treated the soil well, as organically as I can at this point, to yield enough produce that I won’t have to buy any during the growing season. And it tastes better when you grow it yourself anyway. Gardening reminds me of growing up in my father’s vegetable patches. I'm a little Peter Rabbit, a little Mr. MacGregor. I still prefer to stand at the garden and bite into tangy fragrant freshly picked sun-warm tomatoes or early morning peas right off the vine.

S finished his Virginia History ABC Book. That was a huge project, and he accomplished it largely independently. But he still needs to color it. I’m most proud of him this week. He reached his purple belt in Taekwondo. That’s up through white, yellow, orange, and green belts since September. Who knew the kid had it in him? Not me! Wonderful surprise.

K has put together a band with his friends. He is the lead singer-songwriter. They have the drums, guitar, and keyboard positions filled. Now he wants to take bass lessons. Ok, kid. Just buy us a bigger house when you’re a rock star!

My mother-in-law clocked in 13,500 lbs in her workout regime on Friday, and that was after her usual pool workout!

I asked Honey if he had anything in particular he was proud of accomplishing this week, and my guess from the half-dazed grunt from the hulk on the guest bed: that he survived another week in the 9-6 routine.

Lucy, the little escape artist dog would like to acknowledge her multiple darts underfoot or through legs, out the front door to zip around through the neighborhood, tongue joyously lolling a foot behind her as K chased her down, inducing asthma attacks. It must be spring. We really should set up an obstacle course out back and start training her for the nationals…

I almost forgot to mention that on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, S got off the bus and did not scream-whine-beg for videogame time. Instead he politely asked if I was going to watch Oprah upstairs, when I declined, he asked politely if it was a repeat, and when I said no, he asked if that was an appropriate way to behave instead of screaming for what he wanted. He accepted more than one no. He accepted he wasn't going to get what he wanted immediately, and he did so very politely. He waited so patiently, that even long after Oprah was over, and K returned from hanging out, he allowed K to play his videogame first. In categorizing accomplishments into big and small, this fell into the enormous category. He's come a long way in 10.75 years.

As for writing, I started the blog, I kept it up everyday, and I managed a little writing in my manuscript. Plan D: this week I finish those last two razzafrackin scenes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And now for something completely different...

I may be a later comer to this party, but I enjoyed this immensely. And so did all three of my kids. How many things can you find that will simultaneously entertain a 14 year old cynic, a 10 year old who clearly has his own entertainment repertoire and a 13.5 month old girl?

It's also another great distraction from working on my novel.

edit: i realized after i posted this that i had promised another blogger to blog for today about the work i managed to accomplish in the manuscript yesterday. i had also promised i would finish my 2 razzafrackin last scenes, but between baby c's distinct un-desire for her am nap and my mil's return 30min after nap finally started, i managed about half of the first scene. the juggling act dropped a lot of writing balls on the floor, but i held onto a few for a while. hoping for more of same today.

Now just don't get me started on sneezing pandas!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Favorite Quote

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it. ~Rita May Brown

Amen, sistah!

How many years did I spend stressed about a whole lot that never mattered? Way too many. I always struggled paradoxically with a need to please others and sense of independence. There’s something to be said about letting go of expectations. My own expectations about myself or others or trying to live according what others expect of you.

All of that is hogwash. Trying to make others fulfill your expectations is just a lot of worry and headache. All you’ll ever get is the wrong tin of paint. I’m starting this metaphor awkwardly, but you know, you go into the paint department and oo and ahh over all the pretty rainbows and after perusing and taking a handful of little cardboard stripes home and placing them around the room to see which shade of what color is just right in every light, maybe even decide to mix a couple of shades. Then you trot back to the store all perky with you newfound discovery and have them blend up a bunch of cans. You slap the paint up on the walls as fast as you can, whistling all the while, or hire a professional, or some college kids, and the next thing you know, it just isn’t working out the way you expected. A few weeks down the road, it still isn’t working for you. Well, in my old ways, I would have fretted about that dang paint for years. Now, I just say, oh well, and it’s done. So, it’s a little more rose than peach.

The same goes for people, especially those closest to you. You can set yourself up for a lot of disappointment, or you can enjoy them the way they are, quirks and all. Because, guess what – you’ve got ‘em, too.

I still find myself getting into stupid arguments with my husband or my kids over stupid things, like why can't you put the toilet seat down, or who farts at the dinner table?! Or why is the stack of papers I was in the middle of sorting through, piled all back together again and shoved in a weird corner? Who put an empty cereal box back in the cabinet, and who ate all my chocolate? Or would someone please do what I ask the first time I ask, so the dog won’t pee the rug for not having been walked, for instance?

Frankly, sometimes a fart just happens, the toilet seat is another thing entirely that is a major source of discourse at the Women’s Annual Meeting. Everyone’s sense of what organization looks like is different, kids just clearly don’t see the bottom of the box, and if it was their chocolate lying out unattended, I’d have probably eaten it, too. And the dog has free access to the backyard, even if a walk helps calm the little spaz down long enough to pee, respectful of our living space.

After you get past all the little annoying ephemera, what really matters?

Love and Life. It’s fun, g-d it. But only if you let it be.

I have done a variety of things on stage since I was a kid, from singing, dancing to acting and poetry readings. I used to get completely choked up in a stage-fright of whether or not I had the darn thing memorized. Invariably, I sweated profusely, shook like an earthquake or more accurately, like I was in mid-seizure, and worried not only if I would do it well enough to entertain, or whether they’d like me, but also if I could just get out the words in the right order. And what happened? If I didn’t have a script, poem that I wrote or the music in hand, I choked every time.

Now that I have years of classroom experience behind me as well as parenting my extraordinary progeny, I know that all of us in every moment are flying by the seat of our pants. If we can catch a good draft and ride it, wow, what a ride! If we worry whether others will like us or will recognize if we’re doing a good job or not, or steal the credit, or whatever, we only vex ourselves.

That must be why bungee jumping is so popular. For those who can’t trust themselves to fly by the seat of their pants in their day to day, they can feel free taking a ‘safe’ death dive.

As for me? If it’s a beautiful day, you may find me tap-dancing down my street, because I’ve spent too much of my life worrying over what I can't control. I’m going to enjoy the rest of it – smell the flowers, hug my kids, stare in my husband’s beautiful brown eyes, and laugh riotously. Damn the internal torpedos.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here's 2000

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then here's 2000.

Opportunistic tendencies are not just for dogs:

This is what happens when you have rescued pets. In the interest of full disclosure, the cat was a well-tended bottle-fed rescue, so she's just being greedy. She's 13. I've had her longer than two of my kids, the dog, and even the husband.

Too bad I missed the shot of the dog licking spilled yogurt off Baby C's toes.

This is posted in the vein of if you have nothing to say, better to keep your mouth shut.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Of pediatric mayhem

apologies to those who've read this already on (but i did make a minor edit)

Last week, my son K, now fourteen, was scheduled for a pediatric meds check, because for the first time in his life since going on them at age 7, he has not gone in for illness for the past six months. That was a surprising call I received, during which I realized, omg! he has been healthy for six months in a row! Hallelujah! It’s been a long time.

To satisfy curiosity, he has environmental allergies and asthma, nothing exciting for the gossip mill, like ADHD or childhood depression and anxiety. I have often been asked why I don’t put S on meds for his Asperger’s, but frankly there are none except to cover symptomatic behaviors, of which his can be dealt with through a behavioral approach. Either that or I’m a glutton for suffering. And I’ve heard too many horror stories of wrong meds from the Asperger moms who’ve gone that route. Really, he’s a good guy, just needs some redirection and support - often. But back to K: generally, I’m against meds if another way can be found, but he needs them to breathe. I’ll concede on that one.

So back to the story: in the lobby, I’m signing him in, making a co-payment, having all three kids with me because it was a half day of school, and I was up for the adventure. For once, I was able to put C down for her to explore, K is responsible enough to watch her while my back is turned, but apparently he decided to read Compound instead. I heard a vague sort of squeal, the sound C makes when S picks her up. I checked briefly, gave the usual speech, of arm under her butt, be safe, don’t be too rough, and I turned back to what I was doing. By the time I turned back around, a moment really, S had plopped her precariously on a chair edge and walked away. She was quite happily tipping off the edge and I flew, honestly, my feet didn’t touch the ground, to catch her before the thud and scream. Okay, survived that one. Phew! Another speech: babies need to be placed all the way back in the chair and supervised carefully, S!

The rest of the waiting room went relatively uneventfully in my book, but probably seemed a cause for concern in others’. S hummed and ran circles, twisting through any available floor space and intermittently asked random questions or recited whatever cartoon, movie, book was on his mind, K occasionally piped up with a stop it, you’re embarrassing me kind of statement, C was crawling, cruising around, and banging on bead rollercoasters, while I watched it all, letting the noise roll over me, because this is just another five minutes in my life, nothing to stress about. Thank goodness, it was only five minutes. Often, that waiting room can be equivalent to a ring in Dante’s Inferno.

I’ll skip the on the way to the exam room bit for expediency’s sake, because really, this is all just my normal – except, at the weigh-in and measure, K is now officially my height, soon to outgrow. In the exam room, S shot questions at the nurse who I tried to signal to ignore him while providing the answers to her questions that K was not fully providing and telling S that the nurse and K and I needed to talk, could he please just hum in his head for a change. Multitasking at its finest. As a teen, K was basically just saying no or grunting a non-committal response. He hates when I ask how he enjoys being a stereotype.

By the time Dr B arrived, S had rearranged all furniture in the room (so he could look out the window, and he likes to spin and wheel around on the doctor’s stool); C had explored the whole floor and drawers of the exam room with delight; K had sat on the exam table, and helped her, also opening drawers and pushing buttons, because he’s a very tactile, hmmm, what’s in here/what does this do? kind of guy, and C pooped. At the moment Dr B walked in, S was playing dead, lying on the floor, K was sitting in the corner admonishing S for being on the floor, and I was changing C’s diaper on the exam table. Having left the diaper bag in the van, I was using the newborn one I found in a drawer. But you can see why I left it in the van, huh? I don’t need to keep track of another thing with these three in tow. The look on Dr. B’s face was priceless. I responded cheerily, “Never a dull moment!”

Finally we settled back into appropriate seats, so to speak, as S still had one pulled up to the window and was watching traffic while pretending to be a fifty foot tall monster. Dr. B acknowledged S’s spinning of his stool down, so that he dropped like a rock practically to the floor, and there was a whole discussion about little people and if one was a doctor, wouldn’t they want to have the stool at a higher rather than lower setting thanks to K’s penchant for debate.

So we made it through the appointment. Near the end, S had enough of the room, and Dr. B’s son has painted beautiful nature murals, including lots of under sea creatures in the inner halls. S went out to check that out, and came back stiffly hopping and announcing he was paralyzed by the Portuguese man-of-war sting. I just laughed with Dr B and proclaimed, “Jon and Kate plus Eight have nothing on me!” as C squirmed to get down and the boys chased each other out of the exam room.

Dr. B, always one for a good discussion, shot back with “How would you feel about fourteen?” This launched us into quite a discussion about the irresponsibility of the Octo-mom’s infertility specialist and medical malpractice, to say very little of her mental capacity or financial capacity and why the heck the infertility doctor thought any part of the situation was alright to do what he did, nevermind the fact that John and Jane Doe have to pay ten grand to go to the corner clinic to try for one. But the kids were shooting down the hall, K turning into a zombie to scare the bejeez out of S and chase him through the place, C was starting to whine vociferously, and I had to leave this very impassioned discussion, as did Dr B, who needed to rush to his next patient. Amazing what can transpire in an under thirty second doorway conversation.

I’m going to take a moment now to mention the moment that the exam room stood still in quiet, when S threw his arms around Dr B for a hug, and Dr. B hugged him back. S appreciates that Dr B just treats him like everybody else that walks in the room and engages him in S’s random and wild ideas.

What am I getting at here? Beats me, except that with Mother’s Day now behind us this year, I think we all deserve to pat ourselves on the back for the things we oversee and endure on a day to day basis. Some of it is fun, some of it is full of love, some of it is excruciating, some of it is a comedy of errors, some of it is barely hanging on by our fingernails, but most likely, at any given moment it’s all of the above.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Testing, testing...

Greetings, Earthlings!

After about a year posting approximately weekly blogs to to a great group website,, I think I've finally found the mama cajunes to start my own blog. I may decide to review books or movies or music or just throw my opinion around on anything that pops to mind. I may give the usual fare from a mother as in child anecdotes of a teen boy, a pre-teen boy with Asperger's Syndrome and a toddler girl. or life in a three generation household blended family with a spazzy terrier-mix and a beautiful, old ghetto cat.

My interests beyond family run in a wide circle: education, environmental living as best as I can, creative endeavors like the fact that I am currently finishing a children's novel and write poetry (sorry if I lost you with that one), gardening, cooking, reading, beaching, I can't think what else at the moment save for generally keeping a positive attitude through the mayhem that is my life. And it is mayhem. Usually, I find it amusing and luckily, when I don't, I can laugh at my bad reaction to it.

Oh, and I am a transplanted former transplanted Bostonian, whose love of the Red Sox is in direct inverse proportion to how far I live from Fenway Park. I once lived for three years in the apartment building that sits on top of the Fenway T-stop and had very little patience for the Fenway Fans then. Yep -that was my bedroom window three floors up from where the trolley exited from underground. But now, I'm a convert. It comes from working many years with kids in Massachusetts public school systems and one amazing play-off season against the Yankees, not to rub in the rest of 2004, or 2007. But now I live in Virginia.

So I hope you enjoy my musings in mayhem. I'm looking forward to spewing my nonsense at the world.

I admit to my failings in technical aptitude, so please, if you happen upon a whacked looking blog here, please just bear with my learning process.

yours in blogging,