Friday, January 31, 2014

12

"I have to tell you something and it's about your daughters. And you can't say I told you."

My heart dropped into my stomach. They are, for the most part, good kids. What had they done?

Thankfully, she was quick to say, "The girls want to decorate Zoe's and Talia's lockers tomorrow and they are trying to figure out a way to do it. They want it to be a surprise."

My heart lugged itself back to its rightful place (within the mediastinum, in case you were wondering) and I laughed to myself. Yes, of course their friends want to decorate the twins' lockers. They are twelve today.

TWELVE.

Let me say that again.

TWELVE.

Twelve is the number of seconds that passed between the time I noticed Tim in the parking lot and the time I moved to go and say something to him.

Twelve is the number of minutes that he and I spoke before exchanging emails and saying so long, but not goodbye.

Twelve is the number of days it took me to realize that even though I hadn't missed a period yet, something different was going on with my body.

Twelve is the number of weeks around which the midwife said, "You're measuring a little high, but that could be any number of things." (Two things, to be exact.)

Twelve is the number of months it took for me to feel as though having twins hadn't completely slammed me into the wall and then some.

Twelve is the number of years I spent in the city where the girls were born.

TWELVE

Twelve is a year that I count as one of my most memorable, good and bad. Twelve is when I really discovered that liking a boy could cause butterflies to erupt in my stomach; the year that Super Mario Brothers was released for Nintendo and Goodwill Ambassador Samantha Smith perished in a plane crash. Twelve was when I saw my sister go to high school, leaving me alone, making me realize how much she meant to me; the year also involved the crash of the space shuttle Challenger, a noticeable earthquake in Michigan, and the demise of my favorite pair of pants due to muddy water.

Twelve is being on the edge of a new you, finding out what friends are really made of, seeing how your parents can turn crazy at the drop of a hat, and laughing hysterically when your little sister sings off-key.

Twelve is incredible and uplifting and wonderful and heartbreaking and daunting all in one. And I think (and hope) that Zoe and Talia are going to like Twelve.

Happy Birthday to my lovely ladies!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lemon Water

I have never liked a slice of lemon in my water. I'm okay with an occasional glass of homemade lemonade, but the slightly acidic taste of a slice of lemon in my cold aqua pura has never been my cup of tea. And now, I'm happy to say that it isn't.

Just a few moments ago, I found this article on the Huffington Post regarding lemon wedges in water. It says enough to get me to tell Zoe, who loves those little slices of sour, to stop asking for them at a restaurant.

As stated in the article (which was summarized from an original research article published in the Journal of Environmental Health), "Researchers swabbed the rinds and flesh of 76 lemons from 21 restaurants collected during 43 visits and found that a whopping 70 percent of them produced microbial growth."

Yack.

Furthermore, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center, one Philip Tierno, Ph.D., has also conducted similar experiments and found that "half of lemon wedges collected from various restaurants were contaminated with human fecal matter."

Double yack.

If I want something contaminated with human fecal matter, I'm sure I can manage to do that at my own home, and at least I'd know whose fecal matter it is.

I cringe at the thought now of even eating out and I'm happy that we don't do it that often. Mind your lemon slices, people, and anything else that goes with them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back in the Saddle with Anatomy

The college called and they need my help. Since this is the same college that said OKAY to my break from teaching, I decided to help them out. So, as of next Tuesday, I'm going back in to work once a week. The first thing I need to teach? The axial skeleton.

For those of you that don't know what the axial skeleton is, please, let me educate you. According to several general texts, "The axial skeleton forms the central axis of the body. It consists of the skull, the vertebral column, the ribs and the sternum or breastbone."

Not so bad, you say, right? But the lab I will be teaching is most likely comprised of students that will go on to nursing school. So telling them that the axial skeleton includes a breastbone is like telling a builder that a house has a roof. Instead, the students will be required to know that the sternum (or breastbone) is composed of three parts, the body, the manubrium, and the xiphoid process. Furthermore, the students will need to know which other parts of the axial skeleton articulate (or form a joint) with the sternum. You can see how the subject gets a little bit more difficult.

And the skull? Well, let me say this: there are so many bones and sutures and nooks and crannies on the skull that most students never knew were there, I'm anticipating mutiny when I pull out the lab manual and lab-grade skeleton.


 But just wait! There's more. The axial skeleton includes the vertebral column and all its glory. Did you know that we have several different types of vertebra? Well yes, we do! And they have defining characteristics. Did you know that? Can you tell the difference between the vertebra below?








I don't really expect you to be able to do that (although a few of you just might), but the students will need to know how to do it for the exam. And even after I spend a lab period telling them what to look for and all the little tricks to determining which vertebra they are looking at, those same students will glance my way with a film of desperation clouding their eyes, hoping against hope that I'll give them some hint.

And I won't. Because these same students might be working on me someday. And I'd really like for them to know their anatomy.

P.S. When we get to the appendicular skeleton, which includes all the rest of the bones, they need to be able to distinguish left from right. That's where it gets really crazy.




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Love Sprinkles

I don't watch The Bachelor. I don't even keep up on that show. But I stumbled across the news that Sean Lowe, a former Bachelor alum, married the woman he met on the show. (Which installment of the long-running program was this man a part of? I have no idea.) I wish them much happiness and would love to see them stay out of the limelight. I'm no professional therapist, but I think lying low would help their marriage.

In the same article, I found snippets of what Sean said at the wedding. The only thing I want to say is this: if you are going to be on national television when you say your vows, go ahead and find yourself a good writer. (And if what he stated is the work of an actual writer, then there's hope for me, I'd say.)

Here's what Sean had to say (and you'll know exactly where I started to lose it): "The first time I saw you, you were like a light to my bug -- I had to find you. You mesmerize me with how brightly you've shone."

ZAP!

And: "Every time I look up at you my heart fills with love sprinkles."

Yeah, Sean said that, and I'm guessing Catherine swooned. But me? Those love sprinkles. They're good on cupcakes.

I'll take my snarky self back to the important things now.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Run, Pass, Walk

Yesterday was Saturday, my day of the long run. The last few have been arduous, trekking through ice or snow and running against the wind. So Friday night, I put it into my head that I'd go to the local inside track for Saturday's long run. I knew it would be difficult to run around in circles for at least an hour, but on the other hand, I would be able to wear shorts, an item I haven't been seen in since October.

The run itself wasn't difficult. I had plenty in my head to keep me from going too crazy (a new story idea jumped out at me) as I ran around and around, but the heat inside the track slammed me every step of the way, and the sheer number of runners and walkers amazed me. (Who else gets up early to run or walk on a Saturday morning? Apparently more people than I imagined. I guess I now know where all the people were the last couple of Saturday mornings.) And those people? Not so up on their track etiquette.

So let me tell you how it should go. When you have three lanes, and they are labeled RUN, PASS, and WALK, you are to follow those directions. You run in the one labeled RUN; PASS in the one labeled PASS; WALK in the one labeled WALK. That should be easy for you if you are running or walking alone. However, if you're exercising with a group of people (as women who walk tend to do), then you must be careful of how far your group spreads. You cannot, unless you are the only ones on the track, take up all three lanes. ESPECIALLY when you are simply walking. (Sure, you can do that if you are very careful to always glance over your shoulder and make sure to move when the other runners or walkers want to pass. But most of you don't do that. So please, don't walk in the RUN lane.) Because what you are doing is this: you are not abiding by the track rules of RUN, PASS, WALK. And right there, you force the runners who are in the RUN lane, to 1. slow down and wait until you've noticed them, or 2. slow down and ask you politely to move.

I'm not a fan of doing either of the above options. I don't mind having to ask someone to move from time to time, but when I run on the track, in the RUN lane, I will PASS a slower runner in the PASS lane, and then go back to the RUN lane. And when I'm done with my run, I'm very careful to merge into the WALK lane for my cool down minutes. Mistakes can be made, as I've made my own before. But please, for the sake of all the people on the track, let's use some common sense.

As for me, it will take a monsoon or hurricane or exceptionally strong blizzard before I head back to that track again.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Too Much?

I just happened to look and see that I've written something every day of January so far. I'm surprised by that. I didn't know I had that much to say. And, I didn't know you guys would all actually read the drivel I do have to say.

But I can't keep up this pace. I have a manuscript that needs to get done by March 14 and I've got a new gig as a Profiles Co-Editor for a website (more on that later). Plus, I need to be the best mom I can, and oh, yeah, there's Tim to think of as well. Maybe he and I should spend some time together. Novel idea, don't you think? (That awful pun was so much intended.)

So I think I'll finish out each day of January, and then, I'll take a breather. Not a long one, but don't expect a post a day. Unless I have something so funny or earth shattering that I just have to share.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter Closings

Who was that crazy lady running outside yesterday in sub-zero weather? Yep, I did it. I pulled on many layers and wrapped up head, grabbed my insulated gloves and went out for a run. It was cold. Really, really frigid. But it only took about six minutes for me to get warmer and I realized that it wasn't too cold to run.

Which means, in my mind, that it isn't too cold for school. Thankfully, the schools were on in our district (not even a delay), but a district about 30 minutes away? They were on their third calamity day of the week, and have already used up all the days for the year. They'll be making up days in May and June. Apparently the superintendent is worried about the safety of the kids, especially those who rely on buses. Well yes, that's always the case. Can the buses get through? And how long will the kids need to wait at the bus stop?

I am completely on board with that superintendent. The kids do need to be properly prepared, and when it's pretty cold, a delay might be in order. At least with a delay, the kids will eventually get to school. But here's my concern. Winter is winter. Maybe here in this almost southern state, our winters will be, from now on, getting colder. And this winter doesn't look like it is going to get any better. Perhaps we'll need to adjust to our colder winters and spend some time reevaluating when schools are closed and when they are not. Because if the superintendent cancels school today, why not tomorrow? And where do you draw the line?

I don't' know. That's why I am not superintendent.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Battle with the Bathtubs

A battle went down yesterday at our house.

Me against the bathtubs. Two of them. One fiberglass, less than five years old. But with incredibly stubborn stains (despite my best attempts to keep that tub clean). The other, an old ceramic tub with so many dings, dents, bruises, and spots on it, I couldn't tell what was old and what was dirty. (In fact, I'd tell people that the tub was clean, just old. And I really did clean it with Comet or all-purpose cleaners. A lot of good those did, I guess.)

The score?

Me: 2
Bathtubs: 0

I can't take all the credit. I had vinegar, baking soda, and a scrub brush on hand. But these players took away what all the other cleansers couldn't. And now, I won't be afraid to step into the tubs and shower in them.

(All my future guests should thank me.)

And in case you're interested, all I did was this: fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water. Spray the surfaces of the tub. Sprinkle baking soda on (I had to actually buy a new, HUGE box about midway through the day because I used up all my baking soda during this process), then spray again with the water/vinegar. Walk away for a while. A long while. The longer the better. The dirtier, the longer. Come back, and scrub. (The internet will tell you that all you need to do is wipe the junk away with a paper towel. Either that doesn't work, or my tubs were so bad I needed the scrub brush.)

Voila. I'm just a regular old Heloise, now, aren't I?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Words

I started on a journey,
and quickly, along the way,
I became We.
And now, when I think of My dream, it's Our dream.
A dream to give birth to a set of words
so dear to our hearts;
words that we manipulate each day (if we're lucky)
in order to get every single word right.
Trying to make each description and action and image jump from the page
into your head.
Hoping to make you feel as though you are one with the set of words,
that you cannot put them down;
that after you are done,
you want to pick them up again.
And again, and again, and again.
We have a dream,
to have, in our hands,
a thick book of paper, straight off the presses;
for someone to say,
Hey, you have a good story there,
and I'd like for you to share it with the world.
Right now, we share stories with each other,
looking to strengthen the words.
In doing so, we found that we also strengthen the friendship.
So when it happens,
when one of us finds the right agent,
the right outlet for our creativity to shine,
it won't be an I did this.
it will be a We did this.
And we will.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Asking the Right Question

He's always very careful to only answer the question asked.
Me: Who ate all the Trader Joe cookies?
Him: I didn't.
Me: But look, they're mostly gone.
Him: I ate a lot, but I didn't eat them all.
Me: I guess you're right.
Another example:
Me: Who used up all the toilet paper?
Him: What are you talking about? There's some still on the roll.
Me: Yeah, one square. What's that going to wipe?
Him: But it's not all gone.
Me: So true.
I think you get the idea, but I'll go ahead anyway.
Me: Why is the salsa jar back in the fridge?
Him: Because it's not empty.
Me: But that's not enough to do anything with. It should get rinsed and recycled.
Him: I can do something with that amount.
Me: I'm starting to see a pattern here.
That Tim, he's a wily one.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thoughts on Twelve

Today is January 20, 2014. In eleven days, the girls will turn twelve. I find that so hard to believe on so many levels. And yet, the time has also flown.

I remember twelve. Due to my August birthday, I was in seventh grade that year. It was a good year, and full of changes. Both mental and physical. When I look at the girls, midway through their first year of middle school, I can see some of those changes taking place.

Their faces are more mature; the books they choose to read are darker and more sophisticated; they stay up later; they question me more. They are, indeed, middle school students on the cusp of turning twelve.

I'm so curious to see what twelve will bring.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Listening Skills

What I'd like to say:
Dear Kid,

You far surpassed my expectations yesterday. I am so overwhelmed and impressed by your behavior, that I am almost (notice I said almost) at a loss for words. I had no idea that you could be so good, so exceptional at what you do. Where did you learn it? From whom did you learn it? I am certain that I have never taught you anything even close to what you did yesterday. Because you brought the act of not listening to a whole new level. Never in my life have I seen someone so deliberately ignore what I said. Which makes me think that you really didn't hear me, even though I repeated my statement FIVE times. Maybe I should have only repeated it 3.14 times; that might have gotten your attention. To be honest, I'm hoping that you can learn to market this outstanding behavior someday. If you can, you will go far, become successful, and make me so proud. Not that I'm not proud of you right now, but I have to say that I'm more than a bit annoyed at having to say things to you so many times. What? You didn't hear me, again? Get the wax out of your ears! Look directly into my eyes! I AM TALKING TO YOU, little red. There, that's better.
What I said:
Dear Kid,

You know that I love you, very much. But you also know that you need to listen better. Go to your room.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Writer's Market

This was in my inbox yesterday:

Writing Digest Tutorial: Christian Publishing -- Is it the Market for You?

I don't want to offend anyone, and I have nothing against Christian-based writers and their books. But no, no, Christian Publishing isn't the market for me. I think FRN would agree with me on that one.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Instant Drinks

I was skeptical. Really, I was. I had no faith in hot chocolate made from a prepackaged envelope, and instant coffee? Never. (I actually used to drink it in college, but then a roommate helped me find salvation in a cup of brewed coffee and I haven't looked back.) But recently, I tried Starbucks Via Ready Brew coffee as well as their Cocoa Sampler. I promise to serve you real coffee and hot cocoa should you come to visit us, but these products? Perfect in a pinch. Now back to my home-brewed cup of java.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cold Calls

Just a minute ago, the phone rang.

"Oh," I thought to myself. "Perhaps that's Sandra calling me back." I walked to the kitchen and checked caller ID, and then, I cringed.

Not because it was Sandra. Had it been Sandra or any other of my friends, I wouldn't have made a face at the phone. Instead I would have been happy to chat while I unloaded the dishwasher or put away some groceries. But caller ID said it was the American Lung Association. AGAIN.

How many times have they called over the last several months? Let me count...oh wait, I can't. I get phone calls from them in the morning, the evening, and even on Sundays. I've actually picked up the phone and told them that while I'm happy to donate to certain charities, I usually determine those charities and contact them. Calling me up and asking for money doesn't work. (Most of the time, that is. There are certain local charities that call and I will help them. Or there are other circumstances, too, none of which are even remotely interesting. Not that this post is.)

The only thing different about today's call was that the person left a message. "Good morning," the voice said. "We're sorry to have missed you but look forward to speaking to you the next time we call."

Maybe, somewhere in the database it says that they've called our house  807 times already and that none of the calls have been answered. Maybe someone there said that they should try a softer, different approach. Maybe they thought I'd respond to a voice message instead of the usual hang-ups when they called. Maybe, they'll figure out that they are wrong.

I'm waiting. I bet you two bits I get a second call from them by this evening.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Opening Doors

My writing group tries to stay up on what's happening in the publishing world. We attend as many free seminars as we can, listen to podcasts, share information via the web, and notify each other of anything we think might be useful. At least three of us would love to find an agent this year. That number could be four by June.

The other day, I was doing a bit of agent research. I wanted to find a person who might be the right fit for my YA novel. So far, I'd gotten nothing but rejections, but considering the agents are working off a letter, a single letter, I don't doubt myself. The novel itself is fine; it's the letter that needs work. I've been working on it, making it better, and also, making it different, trying to tailor it to each individual agent.

Anyway, I found this nice little article on how a certain author, Richard Ellis Preston, found his agent. I've never read anything he's written, but he's been in the business for many years. If you want to read the entire article, it can be found at this link

But his last paragraph is what caught my eye. He says:
Lessons Learned: cold queries and submissions can work, but the odds are insanely long and it’s a tough haul. I’ve witnessed the slush piles firsthand and wow, the amount of unsolicited stuff pouring in on a daily basis is mind-boggling. And it is a much bigger pile now than it used to be. Sure, go ahead and query and submit, but today I believe that you should spend more of your time, energy and money making contacts. You have to find somebody to open a door for you. Join a writing group and be engaged; somebody is bound to have success and they tend to carry their friends along with them. If you live far away from an urban center I would recommend you put your cash into a convention trip to Kansas City rather than a mountain of query letters; when you spend a lot to get there, it motivates you. Don’t be a wallflower. Grab an apple martini or a Shirley Temple and approach every agent, writer and publisher you can. Make a personal contact. Open a door.
So the mission is out there. My writing group and I need to dig deep and gather our courage together, find people, network, and open doors. I guess we have a new goal for 2014. At least we'll have a drink in hand.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Professor Who?

WARNING: Do not read in front of your children.

Last night, after Melina was in bed, the three older kids said, "Hey, Mom. Can we play the Wii?" They'd already had fifteen minutes on the contraption, and while I could have let them play a bit more, they were sitting around the dining room table drawing when they asked me the question. So I'd much rather  have them interacting together that way than in front of a screen. So, I said, "No."

The kids were all good and fine with that answer. They went ahead and continued sketching, and giggling, and, at one point, a round of hysterical laughter filled the room. I looked to see what they were doing, and I found this list. What were they naming? I'm not sure. I think they might have been putting together a list of names for the Wii characters. Of course, with a nine-year-old boy involved, things went South, quickly. The ones with the strikethroughs are the names that I find especially offensive. Okay, not really, they're funny, but not appropriate for the kids to use, even in the house. Who am I kidding? I won't want them to use any of these, really.
Lumpy McButt
Lumpy McSuckthumb
Professor Stinkpossum
Lumpy Suckerbutt
Lumpy Monkeybuns
Butter McWeaselthumbs
Lumpy Thongs (?)
Funky Garbageballs
Thuny Buns (??)
Snarf Nostrilbun
Qwerty Bossum
And with a forty-two year old boy involved, the whole thing tanked. Tim leaned over and whispered to me, "I wonder what they'd think of Hugh G. Wrection." (Please don't judge my by my choice of husband.)

Welcome to my world. It keeps me laughing!

Monday, January 13, 2014

True Fact No. 1

A loyal reader asked me about my first true fact, as posted yesterday. She said, "May I ask why you pick your fingers? Is it a habit?" Yes, you may ask. And no, I can only wish it was a habit. Because a habit would be something that, with time, I could break, right? And so far, as often as I give the practice up, I return to it. (Right now, one thumb has a Hello Kitty band-aid on it. The other thumb is dangerously close to sporting one as well.)

As much as I'd like to give time and attention to this post and discuss, in detail, where my finger-picking comes from, I don't have the time. Why not? Because I had to fiddle with the second of our cars to be in the shop. I won't belabor the point, but things didn't go as planned when my car didn't start. Sure, the plan was to take it to get checked, but I had planned on driving there. Not having to call a tow truck. And as life would have it, the tow truck plan didn't pan out as planned, either, and I did end up driving my car to the dealer and catching a ride back. (Go figure. I would have thought about hitching a ride back but I couldn't because my thumb, or at least the one I would use to hold up, was covered in a band-aid. Argh!)

Anyway, I'm no psychologist or therapist, but I think the finger-picking behavior runs much deeper than a simple habit, possibly stemming from some form of anxiety that manifests itself in finger-picking. I've also been known to pick at a scab incessantly and at the cradle cap on the kids' heads. Furthermore, I took all the hair off of a small patch of scalp (the size of a pencil eraser) by picking at it after that particular patch bothered me. (Don't look at me like I'm deranged. I'm admitting these secrets to you because, well, why not?) I'll admit that the scalp instance had me worried, I won't lie, but I looked into it and decided that it was not trichotillomania. And then, I went on my way.

So there you have it, friend (who will, from now on, be Loyal Reader from the North, or LRN, because she really is from the North and I don't want to step on FRN's toes). I'm sure you're confused and didn't want all of this explanation, but I gave it to you anyway.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

True Facts About Me

You'll have to imagine Ze Frank's voice here, and to be honest, I can't write up a script as well as he can. Mostly because I don't have the time. Well, I do, but if I took the time to write a cool script, then I wouldn't get any other writing done, or anything else for that matter (like my preparation for Religious Ed, which I am supposed to be doing right now). Here are some true facts about me; things you may, or may not have, known.

  1. I gave up picking my fingers back in college. I had to, considering I would sport bleeding gashes on all of my digits for most of the year. Unfortunately, my skin is so dry in the winter that I've latched back onto that horrible habit for several months of the year. If you see my thumbs covered in band aids, at least you now know why.
  2. I knew a certain person who loved Harlequin romances and kept them in a box. A box that I knew about. So somewhere between 7th and 8th grade, I exposed myself (ha, ha) to the tales written by Penny Jordan and other authors like her. Formulaic but relatively clean, I still gravitate toward a decent love story.
  3. Speaking of books, I have read several of V.C. Andrews' series (The Dollanganger series, The Adare Novel, and The Casteel series) many times since first discovering them in high school. And by many, I mean that I probably can't count how many. I haven't tried any of the other books because well, the author died, and the rest were published after I was in high school. What is my fascination with the books? I have no idea. The books creep some people out, the writing may not be the best, but there you have it. Perhaps I'll read them again this summer.
  4. I have cheated on a test. I know this was wrong and I won't say when I did it. But yes, I have cheated. I've also confessed my sins to God about it, so I hope I've been forgiven. The guilt I felt from cheating far outweighed the relief I had from getting a better grade, so to the best of my knowledge, I never did it again. (We all make mistakes; please don't judge me.)
  5. I attended the University of Michigan mostly because I was young, scared and not confident, and my sister went there. I probably also went because it was a good school. But I wonder, if I had been the first to go to college, would I have chosen it? I'll never know. Unless Callum Davies-Smith comes to find me and we go traveling in his machine. (Don't know Callum and his machine? I hope you will, soon.)
  6. I have a novel that is set at the University of Michigan, but I haven't finished it yet. This novel is the one I started way back at the beginning of my journey. When I go back to work on it, I see how much progress I've made in terms of growth as a writer. When I'm done with it, I hope the sections are seamless, that I've woven the old and new writing together well. I guess we'll see.
  7. My heels are so cracked that I am embarrassed by them in the summer. But I don't think about them constantly.
  8. Also with respect to bodies, if I could have plastic surgery and know that everything would go well, I would consider it. Can you believe that? But yes, yes, I would. There are parts of me that  haven't seen the light of day in a long time, and that's for a reason. However, I've learned to be grateful for parts that work, even if I'm not entirely happy with them. We're all special, dammit!
  9. I'm actually pretty crafty, but I don't always like to be involved in crafts. Case in point: I just got done making a unicorn head out of an old box. I had to draw the head, and cut it out with a box cutter and then, mount it on another piece of cardboard. The wings are made of cardstock, and Melina has plans to ride it. Ride it!! But today, I'm tired. And I'll be honest when I say that I would rather sit and read or write than help Melina with this project. My battle between spending time with the kids and doing what I actually want to do is something I have to deal with every day. I find it hard to admit that to anyone and wonder about myself sometimes. (That's a pretty deep, dark secret there. Don't you feel honored?) 
  10. I would take a week vacation, by myself, without hesitation. I would miss my kids and my husband, and I'd be happy the moment I got back, but I would relish every moment of alone time that I'd have during that week. EVERY moment. Because when I got back, I'd start to feel guilty that I'd gone away for a week.
Any true facts you'd care to share?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Numbers

I usually give my writing group my manuscript first, in pieces. But I didn't want to wait to give it to them in chunks, so I went ahead and gave a first draft to three people: my two sisters and my friend, Sandra. I knew these guys would be blunt. They'd tell me if they liked it, but also give actual feedback, so that I can make the draft I give my writing group even better. I have plans to give the book to two more people (yes Barbara, that means you) but I want to clean it up a bit and fill in some holes before I give it to anyone else (if anyone else out there wants it and is willing to read it within two weeks or so, please say so. I'll send it to you! Your feedback doesn't need to be extensive.). Plus, the word count needs to increase.

I bet that's something you've never worried about. Up until now, I didn't either. I usually sit down, write the story, go back and fill things in, and the word count takes care of itself. But the stories I've written so far have been middle grade and young adult fiction; genres that require fewer words. This latest novel is women's fiction, and if I actually want to sell it someday, I believe the number of words needs to increase by at least 15,000.

I'm sure this can happen; I'm sure it will happen. I've got places where adjectives are needed, where more internal thought should be, where action and description of the setting are mandatory. The only thing that bothers me is that instead of concentrating on making sure the story is good, I am now worried about something as silly as numbers.

And I know, in my heart, that numbers aren't everything.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Royal Family Transportation.

Yesterday afternoon, Melina came up to me in the kitchen. It was apparent from the look on her face that she had something serious to say.
Melina: Mom. In The Princess and the Popstar, the royal family got killed in a car crash. But I don't understand because royal people usually ride in a carriage.
Me: No they don't, Melina.
Melina: Yes, they do.
Zoe: No, Melina, they don't.
Well, considering it was her sister telling her something, Melina vacated the kitchen and went into the study area.
Melina: They don't?
Zoe: No. Royal people usually drive in a limo.
I found this so funny. So funny. And maybe it's just me. But there are so many times that we tell Melina that princesses and the Royal people (as they call them) are just like you and me (sometimes). There were so many things that I thought Zoe might say to her. And limo wasn't one of them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mechanics.

Tim's car needed help. (Actually, it still does. Keep reading to find out why.) So, we took it in on Monday because the kids didn't have school and we (the kids and I) had no where to go. Therefore, Tim could take my car to work.

"We're a little backed up," the car man said. "We'll try to look at it today, but I can't promise you."

Monday night came and went. Tim secured a ride into work and back from work for Tuesday because I needed the car. Tuesday night came and went.

Wednesday arrived. Tim rode into work with our neighbor. I sat at home and emailed Tim, reminding him to call the car place. At 7 pm, Tim walked in the front door. That meant, still no car.

"Did you call the car place today?" I asked.
"Yeah, I spoke to the guy. He said that they couldn't get the car to start," he said.
"So, now it's just sitting there," I said.
"Yup."

They couldn't get the car to start. They didn't bother to call either of us to let us know. Here it is, Thursday, and the car hasn't even begun to get fixed. I'm grateful that we have second car, really I am. But the concept I find so confounding is that the car was (and still is) in the parking lot of a car repair place. Which means, if they couldn't get it to start, they should have had every tool available to do something about that, right?

I think we need to find a new mechanic.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Favorite Exclamations

I love it when people get creative with their words. Okay, that's a duh. I love to read and I love to write. So I guess that first sentence might be one of the most obvious statements I've ever written. Not so creative, eh? Anyway, what I meant to say was that I love it when people say things in a way that is somewhat unexpected. Case in point? A friend said this today:

Son of a business mouse!

I fell over laughing. His statement was a whole lot more effective to me than the usual son of a [insert expletive here] to which I am accustomed. I like this one, too:

Holy contributing to the delinquency of minors!

Now, we've had a conversation similar to this before, when Melina was in her Batman phase. She stuck Holy onto everything and we had a grand time making some funny phrases up.

A couple of other ones I particularly like would be:

Sweet Moses on a milk truck!
Cheese and rice!
Hold onto your pants!
What the math!?

If you have any exclamations you tend to favor, let me know. I'm sure a certain friend from Canada could probably post a few!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Met a Boy

Once, I met a boy.
A boy with laughing eyes
the color of green sea glass,
and sun-streaked hair
that he pulled on when his head hurt.
His roar was so fierce it shook the rafters when it came out,
surprising and delighting me,
making me laugh once again.
The boy intrigued me,
with his passion for sports, math, music,
and me.
Within a short time, he leaned in close, pulled me tight and whispered, 
I love you.
My heartbeat sped up, sweat pooled on my palms,
my brow furrowed.
Because I had not those words to return to him.
It's too soon, I replied.
And instead of walking away, the boy waited.
For me to do what was probably inevitable
but against which I fought.
He waited for me to figure out what I wanted,
for me to get past my walls,
for me to see him in the light of the day,
as he truly was.
To realize what I had and want to make it special.
He was confident that, with time,
I would crumble,
much like the other team's defense.
He was right.
Within a short time, I leaned in close, pulled him in tight and whispered,
I love you.
And now, he waits again.
For me to get past the fatigue,
for me to learn to balance everything life gives me,
for me to find my way back,
to put him on the priority list,
To realize what we have and make it special again.
Once, I met a boy.
Gosh I love that boy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Different Views

Yesterday, Melina was in the tub and I was washing her hair. She held a rubber ducky in her hand, one that we'd gotten from the Westin in Chicago as a part of a kid's package. The duck held one thing under each arm. They turned out to be a map and a canteen. Melina didn't see it that way:
Melina: What is this? The other thing is a map, but what is this?
Me: I'm not sure. Let me finish rinsing your hair and I'll look at it.
Melina: Maybe it's a first date kit.
Me: Do you mean first aid kit?
Melina: Yeah, whatever.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Socks

I don't often think about socks. I need socks, very much. My feet are always cold. And I like patterned socks, but the socks I have the most of are black. I guess I'm practical that way. What I don't like are socks lying around my house. But with four kids and a husband who doesn't treasure cleanliness the way I do, I tend to pick up a fair amount of socks, most of which are dirty.

Last night, as I was making my rounds about the house, I noticed a pair of inside out socks on top of the piano. Okay, let me say this. I've been known to ignore socks near chairs, at the back hallway, or on top of the bed. Perhaps someone needs to go back to those. But on top of the piano? And they were the heart socks that I swear Zoe had had on for three days. (It's vacation here. We get a little lax about things like making sure the kids get dressed, shower, you know, all the personal hygiene stuff. But don't fear. We had some friends over late last week. so we cleaned the house. Priorities.) I quickly grabbed those socks; they went upstairs with me and into the wash basket in my room.

Five minutes (maybe not even) later, I saw the girls scurry around the house, looking for socks.
Talia: Mom! I'm looking for socks.
Me: They're on your feet.
Zoe: [Scowl.]
Me: What sort of socks?
Talia: Zoe's socks.
Me: Well, I found a pair of heart socks on the piano. I put them in the wash basket upstairs.
Talia: Zoe!
Zoe: [Scowl. She charges up the stairs.]
Talia: ZOE!
Me: I think those were Zoe's socks. Did she hear me?
Talia: Dunno.
The girls got ready for bed, and I walked into their room to say goodnight. Zoe was on the top bunk, sniffling.
Me: Is this about the socks?
Zoe:  [Nothing. Zoe really has an incredible ability to stay silent. Stubborn lass.]
Me: Really, Zoe? Is this about the socks?
Zoe: [Nothing. See above.]
Me: All right, Zoe, this is disrespectful.
Zoe: I like those socks.
Me: [Thank goodness she didn't see that enormous eye roll I just performed.] They were on top of the piano. That isn't where your socks should be. Get some other socks.
Zoe: I like those socks.
There is no arguing with an almost twelve-year-old. So I didn't bother. I looked around the giant mess they call a room, told her that I saw plenty of socks on the stuffed chair, which was overrun with what I hope to be clean clothes. I thrust a pair at her and walked away.

She might have sniffled all night about those socks. Me and my heartless self? I had a good laugh before falling asleep.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Looking Ahead

Second week in a row I'm sitting at the library, working on my writing. I'm still positioned by the men's restroom, but I am happy to report that more men this week are washing hands than last week.

I am sad to report that the library is the place to be. There are a ton of people here! Old, young, and in-between and they are all talking, all making my life a little bit more difficult because it is tough to get this writing going with so much noise in the background.

On the other hand, who knew that the library would be such a good place to observe. Perhaps my next manuscript will be centered around this place.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Who's to Blame?

I can only blame myself.

Last week, I sat the kids down in front of the TV and exposed them to the lovely world of Bob and Doug McKenzie.

Yes, we watched Strange Brew.

And now, our conversations go like this:
Kid 1: "Hey, I need that!"
Kid 2:  "Take off, eh?"
Kid 3:  "Don't say that, you hoser!"
Kid 4:  "You hoser. Take off, you hoser!"
I told the kids that they can only use such bombastic Canadian slang (appropriately) in our house. I wonder if they'll listen. (And by the way, I did some research on Bob and Doug and their propensity for funny words, and many of them aren't actually spoken by true Canadians.) I probably should have expected as much.

Update:

Conversation between Aaron and me this morning:
Aaron: Can I have some breakfast, hoser?
Me: Not an appropriate use of the word.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bipolar Behavior

Sadly for me, my brain would not turn off last night. So, instead of finding the rest I needed, I spent a night with my eyes fluttering open and my brain spinning. I find myself in the midst of another creative burst, and when those happen, making sure my brain shuts down is difficult, if not impossible. In the end, I wake up cranky and have to add more caffeine to the cup.

I don't have any proof of this, but I wonder if these occurrences might not be tied to some sort of bipolar behavior. That is the sort of diagnosis I would never just throw around, but based on some good genetics we have here, I could probably make a case for it. But do you think I'll do anything about it?

Nope. The plan is to keep moving my fingers and use up the creative energy. Possibly bring forth a few more chapters in one book, make my latest book even better, and move forward on my goal for 2014. Progress is progress. I'm not going to balk at how that progress is made.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Words for the New Year

I stumbled across this quote when a friend posted it to her Facebook page. She had taken it from Bob Proctor, a life coach who has, for years, talked about mind potential. While I don't know anything about mind potential or Bob Proctor, really, I do know that I liked what he said. And that it applies to my goal of becoming a published writer.
Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time. It must be a goal that is so appealing, so much in line with your spiritual core, that you can't get it out of your mind. If you do not get chills when you set a goal, your [sic] not setting big enough goals.
The writer in me corrected Mr. Proctor's grammar, but in this instance, I can forgive him.

Happy New Year!