Sunday, April 30, 2006

Purple Haze II

These were my first photos, with the flash still on...
but these are what inspired the title of this and the last post.

Purple haze

There was a pretty pink sunset to go along with these but I did not capture it.
(Though I FINALLY stopped trying to take photos with the flash on and at least got something!)
I thought the hedge was lilac but after looking up the word online, it turns out lilacs look like this. That photo helped me identify what is growing in my backyard but I still don't know what my hedge is made up of! The blossoms are very fragrant, they're lavender-colored and the more we trim the hedge each summer, the more blooms we have each spring! I'll try to get a close-up of whatever these are when the sun comes back out but it's a blustery, dreary afternoon!

Friday, April 28, 2006

If only there were a magic pill

I've been overwhelmed with the idea of putting the whole book together. I know I have holes but I have so many scattered files that need to be edited and merged together. So I thought I would do a better job if I printed everything out, sorted it into piles/chapters and then started going through it.

I have killed at least one adult tree.

That may not be the only casualty.

My plan is literally spiraling out of control. The idea of neat stacks was a dream. I have parts to insert so right now, I have what looks like a white and black pinwheel on my office floor. So much for a linear progression!

While I complain, whine and stress about daily parenting issues, parenting is a different type of stress than I used to experience in college and the working world. The kind that would put my back in knots. The knots are back today! I just have not determined if the stress is over the thousands of words strewn about my floor, crying to be organized or if the pain is a result of the HALF-HOUR I had to fight with my printer to get it to start spitting out pages. That fight brought back many memories of fighting with printers, copiers and computers back when I earned a paycheck. So maybe I could finish this book with less stress if I went back to an old manual typewriter.

(As you can see, the whole project is affecting my judgement!)

It will all be fine. I will keep printing and tonight I'll have a glass of wine as I sit down with the papers and the red pen.

Or maybe I can find one of these!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oh, I have issues!

(But you already knew that!)

I just love meeting new people and making new friends in the blogosphere!

Meet Margie! She commented on my post about mowing the lawn alongside a 7-year-old and invited me to email her. A couple of emails later, I have lots of pretty compliments, ideas on how to make my site a little more colorful, and a very pretty, colorful award button over there! (Look to the left!)

Margie is giving awards to moms who blog in honor of Mother's Day. If you're a mom or know one who blogs, get in touch with Margie! (Click on that cute button over there or here).

Margie---Thank You! I am honored to be included in your list

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And then there was the buzz about the bee*

It's a good thing that neither child actually saw the deceased hare. We had enough trauma with a wasp. Maybe it was a hornet. It could have been a bee. It was certainly enough to strike terror in the hearts of C and N.

Good Friday was a whirl of activity. N had invited a friend over, which I thought would give me time to clean the house. It turned out to be a very nice day so the girls played outside, came in for drinks, then needed towels for a "picnic" outside, then came back in to ask if they could don swimsuits and play in the sprinker. So they changed and they played in the water. Came back in, changed and had lunch, changed again and went back out. They came back in, dried off, changed, played in N's room, changed again, went back out...and so it went.

By the time the friend left, I had a little over an hour to run an errand, shower and clean the house. (As we attempted them in that order, you can tell which one did not get done). Especially as the "little over an hour" changed to "less than an hour" the moment we let the wasp in the house with us. He stayed up in the large window that no one can reach but the concern over what he could do was all-consuming. I explained that if they just left the insect alone, he'd leave them alone.

When we returned from the store to find it still in the window, the questions just increased.
"How does a bee sting?"
"Is it a bee or a wasp?"
"What does it feel like if it stings you?"
"If it's a bee it'll die when it stings us. Is it a bee? If it dies, does it go to heaven? Can you see when you are in heaven? Can you see bees in heaven? How can you see in Heaven?"

By the time the babysitter arrived, they were distracted showing her their new sticker books and forgot about the bee/wasp issue.

The next day, the wasp was still in the window, desperately searching for a way out but not leaving that particular window. As the day wore on, you could tell the little guy was getting weaker.

By the end of Saturday, after I mowed the grass and finally got a shower, I came out to find the wasp crawling outside my bedroom, at the top of the stairs. I asked my daughter to keep an eye on the wasp while I looked for a big shoe or book to put it out of its misery. She backed into her room (partly to stay away from the bee and partly to make sure I did not use her shoe). My son started to come upstairs, volunteering to "keep an eye on the bee," when it occured to me that after dead bunnies, wavering faith in the Tooth Fairy and my constant assurances that the bee would leave them alone if they left it alone--maybe I could still get this little guy out of the house alive. I could save the day for someone--even if the someone was a bug. I told my son to go ask his dad for a shoebox while I kept an eye on the wasp. My thinking was maybe I could put the box on the step below and slowly scoot the wasp into the box with the lid. My son came back with my hubbie, who came with one of N's new shoes, and smacked the wasp.

Though they were stunned for a moment, they recovered as they were at least released from the fear of that ever-present stinger. However, for the week afterwards, every time my son went up the stairs, I'd hear him muttering "poor little bee."

He still asks me at least once a day how you can see in Heaven.
* After initially posting this, I looked for our "bee" online and found that it was a European paper wasp.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My karma ran over my dogma

[This post is rated PG-13--or at least PG-10! ]

Last Saturday arrived, cloudy and dreary in the morning but I thought I'd at least get the grass mowed before the rains came. The hubbie had some errands to run so he took our son with him and my daughter stayed home with me. We'd had a full week of me accusing her of not listening to me and her accusing me of being the worst mother ever so I was surprised when, rather than riding her bike or making chalk pictures in the driveway, she walked alongside me as I mowed.
(OK, I'll admit that initially I was irked. Usually mowing the lawn gives me a little distance.)

Then she ran ahead and picked a flower (dandelion) for me. I gave her a kiss and thanked her and she beamed! She ran inside to add it to a cup of water that held 2 "flowers" that she and her brother had picked the day before. She ran back out, walked alongside me again for a minute, then spotted more. She'd pick one, I'd give her a kiss and she'd go get another one. I had to stop mowing the grass many times and finally had to get a big fancy glass out of the cupboard to hold my yellow bouquet. Cutting the yard took two or three times longer than usual but it was worth it. We don't get much one-on-one time together and while I'm not sure this counts as "quality time" we certainly were having fun! (When I asked her if she was tired of walking back and forth across the line with me, she answered "I'm getting my exercise!")

She finally moved to the driveway with the sidewalk chalk and drew a portrait of me. Then she drew this self-portrait! .
Just in case you can't read those words in her thought bubble, let me zoom you in a little...

Can you read it now? YES! It says: "Mommy Rules!"

I won't tell you what she usually writes about me in the driveway...I'll just say this is quite the opposite!

By now the sun is shining brightly (yes, I'm still in the self-destructive mode of mowing without sunscreen) which means I'm HAPPY to be getting color, I'm getting something productive done, I'm spending time with my daughter and TODAY SHE LIKES ME! I even look up and say a little "thank you!" As I do, she says she's hungry and I ask for one more minute and then I'll go in and make lunch. She asks if I will please sit with her while she eats her lunch. (She's afraid I'll make her a sandwich, turn on the tv and go finish the lawn). But right then, the hubbie and son return from their errands with McDonald's Happy Meals in hand!

Sun shining...birds singing...and Happy Meals, too! Life does not get any better!

I help them carry the drinks inside and cheerfully tell my daughter, "This worked out great! Now you have lunch and you can sit with your Dad and brother instead of a dirty, stinky Mom!"
The look I receive back looks a little like this:

However, I know once she gets to her french fries, she'll be fine and I head back outside to mow the backyard. I start the mower and move several yards along the fence before I get to the garden with more dandelions, a few blooming poppies and a dead rabbit.

I stop the mower and just stand there. I know I have to take care of this but I can't move. I know my daughter is going to finish that Happy Meal and come bounding back out here and I can't let her see this. It takes me another minute but I finally head back to the house.

A rational, good mother would have picked up the shovel. I walk right past it, go into the kitchen and give my hubbie this look:

I relate what I've found and explain how I'd really like him to take care of it for me. (In my defense, I've scraped half of a mouse off our frozen porch that a cat left behind before my kids could realize it was not, in fact, a "funny looking leaf." I've also picked up a dead bird--I blame that on the same cat--and a squirrel that a driver kindly left in my front yard. So while you may be thinking that I've worked my way up from the tiniest animals, I thought it was time to take turns.) This was only days after I'd read this post on Joshilyn Jackson's blog and I was inspired by her husband's offer to come home from work to help her. I thought maybe my hubbie would be as willing.

His initial response was "just get a trash bag."

As I try to explain the amount of difficulty I had getting the little squirrel into one of those, my daughter has caught on to the fact that something is not right. Remember my cheerful little shadow from the beginning of this post? The girl that brought me flowers and thinks I "rule?" The first question out of adoring daughter's mouth is "did you run over something with the lawn mower and kill it?"

This is where the karma kicks in. Three years ago--the Saturday before Easter, I believe--I hit a rabbit with the car. The kids were in the car with me and they did not witness the event itself but heard me gasp. Not being a clever enough mom to lie quickly enough though, I told them the truth. (I did go back to see if we could save the bunny but it was a rabbit and I'd been driving a Suburban.)

Three years later, I'm still honest. I respond that I did not run over anything. "Can I come in the back yard with you now and pick the yellow flowers out there?" she asks.

"Not yet."

I go out to take care of the rabbit. While my hubbie's solution could work, I know I can't hold the trash bag open with one hand and get the job done with the other. I think I can bury it in the garden instead. I come back and tell him. He rolls his eyes and I bat mine. He caves and goes out to take care of it.


Well, a cheer that he'll take care of this, anyway. My daughter wants to know what he's doing.

"Just helping Mommy. He'll be right back."

She isn't stupid. "I'll just look out the window," she says.

"No, come over and talk to me instead."

"Mom, just tell me what is going on." I sigh. Right or wrong, I'm stuck now and decide to level with her. I utter the words that will haunt me later: "You are old enough to know the truth."

I tell her I found a dead rabbit in the garden and Daddy will clean it up. "Did you hit it with the lawn mower?" she wants to know again. I repeat that I found it and I think the bunny lost a battle with a cat. "Whose cat?" Whoops. I tell her I don't know, that Daddy is taking care of it and everything will be just fine. I ask her not to tell her brother who has been watching tv all this time and is blissfully unaware of the whole situation. "Why?"

"He isn't as old as you. Let's just not tell him."

"OK. Can I go pick those flowers yet?"

Whew! She's OK! I start to say no but her Dad walks in, saying the deed is done. So I go back out to mow and she picks another bouquet of dandelions.

A little later, the yard is done and I'm upstairs getting ready to take a shower. So of course, this is the time my daughter wants to have a discussion.

"Mom, can I ask you a question?"

"If it's quick. I just want to jump in the shower. Can it wait five minutes?"

"I guess so. I just wanted to tell you that I don't believe in the Tooth Fairy anymore."

For the second time in the same afternoon, time (and I) stand still for a second while her words circle around my head for a moment.

"Honey, why would you say that?"

"Well, a boy in my class saw his mom and dad putting money under his pillow when he lost a tooth, so I'm guessing that's what you and Daddy do, too." Her eyes are welling up and she's trying not to cry.

I wasn't expecting this and before I know it, I hear the words "I haven't put money under your pillow" jump right out of my mouth. I try to think how I can retract that and give a more pseudo-lie rather than a real one. What I say is, "let Mommy take this shower and we'll sit down and talk about it, OK?"

She nods and leaves. I take an extra-long shower, pondering exactly what I should tell her. Is she old enough to learn the truth? Should I come clean on the day before the Easter Bunny arrives?

Eventually I arrive downstairs to find her playing with her dolls. I quietly ask the hubbie his opinion. I say maybe I could tell her that sometimes parents help the Tooth Fairy. He nods vigorously. "Yes! Tell her that!"

I wonder how to bring it back up but she's playing nicely. So I wait for her to ask. She doesn't. She's fine, she's cheerful and hours later, rather than worrying about whether tooth fairies exist, she is asking to put carrots out for the Easter Bunny.

For a nanosecond, I wonder why she doubted the existence of one and not the other. Then I realize that I specifically told her that she was old enough for me to tell her the truth. So when she popped her question, she believed the first response that came out of my mouth.

That's going to come back to bite me somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


You know that feeling of relief when you've narrowly avoided an accident?

There was no other car swerving toward ours. It is difficult however, to drive safely while you want to clench your eyes shut and put your fingers in your ears (singing "la la la"). I did not exhibit such behaviour outwardly but only so that we could avoid a real, physical accident.

The conversation began with a simple question on the way home from school.

My 7-year-old: "Mommy? Did you know that there is a bad word in the word: peacock?"

Me (inside my head): please don't go there,
Me (out loud): "Really?"

7yr-old:"Yes! There is!" (She is smiling at her brother) "Do you know what it is?"

Me: ""

7yr-old: "It's PEE!!" Bwaahaahaa!!! (Both children are delighted!)

Though I've complained in the past, some days I'm quite thankful for potty-humor!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I'm still here...

...but FINALLY had a new idea as to how to pull the book together.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Creative waste of time

I swore I'd get some writing done without blogging.
Now I'm blogging and not even really writing.
I found this at Rene's blog (she found it at Tori's) and so on...

Go to Wiki and list three "fun" things, two birthdays and one death that happened on your birthday:

(My birthday isn't one of those that passes quietly in this nation. You all may have heard or seen this date in a history book at some point. While I share a birthday with Ron Kovic, our birthday is the title of his memoir and movie so I thought I could put others on my list below.)

July 4
1803 - The Louisiana Purchase is announced to the American people.
1827 - Slavery is abolished in New York State.
1950 - First broadcast by Radio Free Europe.

I've listed two birthdates but three names. As Ann and Pauline are twins, it is still the same day
1804 - Nathaniel Hawthorne, American writer (d. 1864)
1918 - Ann Landers, American advice columnist (d. 2002)
1918 - Pauline Phillips (Abigail Van Buren), American advice columnist and twin sister to Ann Landers

The rules say list one death but, as above, I've listed two people who died on the same day.
1826 - John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, died. (On the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence)

Words to live by

As I was walking N into school the other day, we passed a father and daughter. The father was walking his younger daughter over to the preschool and the little girl was waving furiously at her older sister who was walking into the elementary school.

"BYE, Sissy!! Have a good day! Don't kick your friends in the foot or in the butt!"

Good advice for us all.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saturday morning fun

"What is going on here?"

"What, Mommy?"

"Oh, nothing honey. I wasn't talking to you."

The boy is sick but he is not stupid. His sister is asleep and his father isn't home. It's just us.

"Then who were you talking to?"

"The toaster."*

There is silence for a moment and then in a slightly softer voice: "Mommy? Did you know that when you talk to the toaster, I can hear you?"

(At least I know the current virus hasn't affected his hearing!)

*I did not realize the little lever on the side of the toaster had been moved so my toast came out rather dark. While I often carry on conversations with myself througout the day, I do not normally address one appliance in particular.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I'm chillin'

The girl is old enough that she no longer asks me to sleep in her bed with her, unless she is sick.
With the stuffy nose + time change combo on Sunday, she asked. I put her off for a while but after the boys were both snoring, I complied. I did not stay all night. I did not stay for a full half hour.

Those tiny "I can't breathe right" germs waste no time whatsoever!

It's not so bad. I can breathe now and with another cup of hot coffee and a Motrin, the chills will go away, too.

When I dropped the boy off at preschool today, Room #1 (the room where half of his class is dropped off to wait until 8am) has a big sign on it letting parents know that "the room has been exposed to Rotovirus." Thank goodness it was just the room.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Buzz, buzz...Blogging for Books is Live!

Yes, indeed--it's that time again! Go ahead...take one of those ideas that's been buzzing around your head and submit it this month! I'll post mine soon.

Details are here.

Is there no place like home?

I just finished reading Four Souls and the paperback offers a “P.S.” section including a biography and interview with the author. In those comments, Louise Erdrich mentioned that she usually writes about the people and land where she grew up. She states that she did not move away until she was 18 and says these are the people she knows.

I was 18 when I left home for college. For the first few years, whenever I’d return, I’d see the oak trees, the Spanish moss and knew I had to write a historical book about this area. I considered the landscape, the setting but did not think about using the people that are there.

Lately, I’ve been more enamored with setting stories in other places. Places that were not my hometown seemed a little more exotic or exciting but maybe I just see the possibilities of where I am at the moment. This morning, watching the sunrise, I could not believe I hadn’t put a character in Kansas yet.

I may have mentioned that I have a tendency to procrastinate—so while it’s very tempting to pull out the Civil War era-novel that I worked on, then ignored, then worked on, then ignored… I need to get the current one finished. However, maybe it’s time to just get a good draft of this one printed and set it aside and work on the other I’d set “back home” in Florida.

So many settings, so many stories…yet so many errands, laundry and dishes are waiting at the same time!

Rene has posted about this idea before (as have others) so some of you have answered the question already but for my writing friends: when you sit down to write, is there a certain place that has to be home to your characters? Or do your settings change with each story?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Life Lessons #47: Children will repeat every single thing you say

Found these life lessons on this morning. (Yes, I know I gave up TV but watching ads on the computer isn't really the same, right? I know--the ads were the main reason I gave up tv to begin with!)

For those of you who are free to watch what you like, check it out in your free time!