Saturday, November 21, 2009

Once upon a time...

Right now, my boy is sitting beside me with a small whiteboard and a bajillion questions.

"How do you spell dinosaur in cursive?"
"How do you spell perfect in cursive?"
"Did I write that right?"
"Can you write my name in cursive?"
"Why does the G look like that?"
"I'm drawing a sandbox."

A little scattered, maybe disjointed to the casual observer, but not really. His mind is jumping all over the place, but I can follow.

"Look, Mom, the eraser got rid of everything. Now it's growing back. The ground. People. Plants. Street lights. Back came the grass."

He's telling me a story, from start to finish. It all started with a sandbox and a sand kicker who kicked so much sand that the whole world went away; but when the sand kicked died, the world came back. Gav's drawing the return of the world and narrating it.

"The sun came back. The sky."

The sun has spikes coming from it, they're "sunbeams." The sky is a scribble along the top of the page.

"Here's people."

Three stick figures appear. A tall one and two short ones.

"How do you spell family?"

I write it down, and he copies it along the top of the white board, right under the sky.

"This is a family. It's a dad and two kids."

"Where's the mom?"

"She went to Canada."

"Why did she go to Canada?"

"She's coming back December fourth."

Before I could pose my next question, he ran the eraser over the picture and wrote gone.

"They went to visit her. They didn't want to wait."

When Gav's taking things apart with a hammer, when he's laughing hysterically at Spongebob, or when he's giving me an innocent look and the words "I wasn't thinking," I glance at the husband and tell him that there's no doubt in my mind that he is that boy's father. When I go in to kiss Gav goodbye before going to work, I marvel at how much he looks like his dad -- from facial expression to sleeping position. There's not much about him, at first glance, that would suggest he was mine, unless you count athletic ability and his cute little nose. I'm okay with that.

But when he's creating, when he's making up stories complete with characters and plots, with beginnings and middles and ends, he's all mine. When he's building complex Lego creations of his own design and explaining the function of every tower and building, he's all mine. And when he's planing yet another Rube Goldberg machine, he's all mine.

What's really amazing to me is that I never taught him any of this.

The truth is that he's not really "mine," no more than he's his dad's.
He's his own little soul from his own little world. We're just lucky enough to borrow him for a while.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Somewhere, tucked in my papers from my undergrad years, is a quote about how being killed because you are a writer is "the ultimate expression of respect."

Or something like that.

It means, of course, that you are killed because you are good at your craft. Too good. You are killed because the people listen to you and because you have become a voice that powerful cowards cannot bear to hear.

This past weekend, Cuban bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Claudia Cadelo, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Ciro Díaz.were picked up by thugs, thrown into a van, beaten, and thrown onto the street. The bloggers' crimes? Blogging about Cuba as it is today under castro. Telling the truth.

Yoani was voted one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine. You can find her blog here: Generacion Y. (Google offers a reasonable translation for those who aren't fluent in Spanish.)

Chantel's Yucababy blog provided a translation of Pardo's post, a recount of the experience:

Below, is my translation of an excerpt from Orlando Pardo's post at Penultimos Dias:

Within seconds, Yoani and I had our arms twisted in a car imported from our Stepmother Country: China

My head against the car's carpet, and Yoani with her feet in the air.I couldn't see her, identifying her only because she would not be quiet. I heard her scream with the vehemence of a being more free than the planet itself

She had a Cuban man's knee nailed against her chest, and still she rebuked him

From that energy I borrowed the strength to revive a bit my own voice.

They told me to tell Yoani to be quiet.

That phrase, pronounced by three unknowns in the name of the Cuban State, sums up the obsolescence and obscenity of this country.

Tell Yoani to be quiet.
Tell Yoani to be quiet.
Tell Yoani to be quiet.

Despotically, they deposited us in a corner that I confused with the patio of a barracks.
I was dizzy.I felt nauseous, felt like vomiting.
I could not move my neck.
I embraced Yoani (which I'd never done before).
She began to sob.

The greatest woman in Cuba seemed like an infant.

Because Yoani is such: the future of Cuba crystallized on a fragile and unstoppable body.

I kissed her head. Her hair pulled with such hate smelled like liberty.
Uncountable times I kissed her ageless head.

But I never told her to be quiet.
But I never told her to be quiet.
But I never told her to be quiet.

-- Orlando Luis Pardo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nanowrimo 2009

Once more, I'm taking up the challenge: 50,000 words in 30 days..

Ought to be interesting this year -- especially since I'm working on that doctorate, working full-time, and trying to get through the last (almost painful) edit of Killing Julie.

Thanks to Nano, I finished KJ. Perhaps this year, thanks to Nano, I'll get that next one rolling (as opposed to bouncing around in my brain).

The plot? Darned if I know.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Hands-on Education

To say that this past week has been "educational" is quite the understatement. Thanks to one boss being on vacation and the other deciding to snap his ankle in half, I've been holding down the fort at work.

It went quite well, if I do say so myself.

I have learned that I can keep track of the attendance records of 50+ new starts not only on paper but in my head. I found out that I actually make some program directors try not to cringe when I walk into their offices holding my list of students on extern or of possible re-enters for next term. I discovered that all I need is a white board to help me keep track of returning students for the next five months. I uncovered the administrator within and learned how to say things like "this is unacceptable" in a tactful yet firm manner -- and get results. I even managed to delegate once in a while, despite some odd genetic tendency to avoid it at all costs.

All in all, when the bosses come back next week, they'll find that the school is still standing and that the student population remains intact.

I also learned, this past Tuesday night, that I still can't figure out my left from my right when it comes to karate. "Form 1," which my six-year-old has mastered, still escapes me. Don't ask me what the Korean name for it is, for I can neither pronounce it not spell it. When I do manage to say it, it comes out sounding like young emu. I still can't count to ten in Korean. The ability to tell the difference between ahp cha ki (front kick) and yup cha ki (side kick) eludes me until someone shows me. Again. While I can write an entire course on medical terminology, remembering that mok is my neck and moo roop refers to my knee is apparently a challenge above and beyond my talents.

it is possible that this all goes back to my generally non-existent athletic abilities paired with a completely un-deserved sense skill. I always think I can do something. I think I can hit a golf ball. I think I can hit a softball. I think I can shoot hoops. You see, I have a tendency to watch others and then, unreasonably and illogically, think to myself "how hard can that be?"

As I invariably find out, it is much harder than I ever suspected.

However, I'm not totally hopeless... and perhaps that is where the sense of "I can do that" comes from. I am a very good at street hockey. Pucks stay on the ground (usually) and are easier to hit than softballs, which insist on being airborn when I'm supposed to hit them. My whole concept of hockey is "get the puck in the net," and I do that reasonably well.

Had we had volleyball in high school, I would have played. While the volleyball isn't on the ground like a puck, I don't have to worry about swinging a bat or about aiming at some impossibly small basketball hoop. All I have to do is aim at the large space above the volleyball net -- or, I admit it, the face of the person on the other side of the net.

But as for karate? Right up there with softball, baby. A total testament to my lack of coordination. It's a nice stress reliever, but I'll never be a contender. (And I'm okay with that!)

I'll stick to tracking 500+ students and 20+ teachers on a daily basis.
Much easier than that left v.s right stuff.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't Think

There are things that I simply try not to think about, particularly when it comes to my son.

I try not to think about the night he was born and the fact that I made it to the hospital just in time. I don't like thoughts of what could have -- would have -- happened had we been just twenty minutes later.

I try not to think about the tetnus he didn't get after stepping on a rusted 40-year-old carpet nail last summer. The thin white scar on his neck -- compliments of a picket fence at Idlewild this summer -- still makes a cringe.

When he came home from a fishing trip with his dad, his nose and forehead showing evidence of a face-plant in the berber carpet (unintentional high dive off a chair in the living room), I tried not to think about his newly grown front teeth and almost knocking them out.

Last night, after he fell asleep, I went into his room and just sat on the side of his bed. For a good while, I sat there, just looking at my baby. His knee and right hand are all scraped up from (unwillingly, unintentionally) sliding along the pavement en route to the token machine at the zoo. He has a bandage on his knee, though he doesn't need it. We had a small battle over that, I admit. He likes Band-Aids, and I have the philosophy of "no blood, no bandage." Our compromise was one for his knee and none for his hand.

I feel silly now. It's just a Band-Aid. No big deal. You put them on, you take them off. Slap some antibiotic cream on whenever you have to. Everything heals and in a few days the bandage is gone. I don't know what the big deal is, really.

Social networking is wonderful for those of us who sit in the office all or most of the day. Facebook lets us "escape" just a little bit and chat with friends, post silly comments, or just send pokes back and forth. It let's the world in, too, sometimes a bit too much. A friend of mine is now watching his nephew battle an illness that no Band-Aid can cover. He's posting updates for us, drawing us into this world, showing us pictures.

I can't understand how the Fates roll their dice. I never will. But, because of those wicked mythical sisters and their whims, last night I just sat and marveled at my son. And tried very hard not to cry.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

PFEW-less in 2009

I missed PFEW Week III this year. Had to. Between my RMU class schedule, the amount of sick and vacation time accumulated, and the week that the students' summer break was scheduled, I just couldn't swing it.

For the record, it nearly killed me.

I did not get to make my usual drive to Williamsport, make my usual stops along the way, take the new route that I learned last year, wear my collection of PFEW polo shirts, hear the usual banter, or take the usual abuse about my inability to tell jokes.

I did not get to hang out with people that I have known, for over ten years. Or ten weeks, depending on how you count.

I did not get to drink responsibly in the hospitality room, stay up irresponsibly late, laugh until I could not breathe, or function on an average of six hours sleep per night for seven nights.

I did not get to tell my latest joke, one that is deliberately bad. (If I told a good one, well... my fellow CA's would probably not know what to do.)

Last but not least, I did not get to work with a team of teens who are among the best and the brightest. I did not get the privilege of seeing them grow from a group of total strangers to a team -- or from a group of not-always-so-certain kids to confident business folk.

That's okay.

After all, it's only 50 weeks until PFEW, Week III, 2010.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


4:31 a.m., cat wants fresh water in bowl, makes this known with pitter-patter of cat feet on my head

4:32 a.m., cat lands on the floor

4:33 a.m., cat jumps onto nightstand and begins to rub against lampshade to create annoying squeak-thump

4:35 a.m., cat lands on the floor again

4:40 a.m., cat begins to prowl around the bed, stalking prey (me)

4:43 a.m., cat's furry butt dragged into bathroom, tub faucet turned on, then off, cat happily drinks drips

5:01 a.m., wet cat feet squish across pillow as she demands more water

5:02 a.m., cat lands in hallway, bedroom door shuts

5:30 a.m., pitiful "mommy-why-do-you-hate-me" meowing begins, threatening to wake son

5:32 a.m., bedroom door opens, cat -- now dry -- jumps up on bed and curls up at the foot of the bed, where feet normally belong

5:40 a.m., cat lands on floor after attacking ankles as punishment for trying to get comfortable

5:41 a.m., cat back on bed, makes cautious peace with bumps under blanket that can send her back to the floor... by sleeping on them

6:17 a.m., cramp in calf forces movement for the first time since cat plopped on leg, movement causes cat to wake prematurely, retaliation comes in form of teeth

6:17 and 5 seconds, cat lands on floor again

6:18 a.m., cat returns to bed, sleeps on husband's side, continued snoring indicates that he's fine with that

7:01 a.m., cat having dream and begins meowing in sleep, waking me

7:05 a.m., cat wakes and decides it's time to start the day

7:07 a.m., jumps off bed and goes to window, pushes light-blocking curtains out of way -- admitting blinding morning sun

7:10 a.m., cat decides others must enjoy the morning and begins breathing in owner's face to wake her

7:11 a.m., owner discovers cat can't find her when she puts a pillow over her head

7:25 a.m., cover blown when son comes in wanting to play Legos

7:30 a.m., cat gets fresh water in bowl

Growing up, I had Molly, a plump little hairball of a cat who had the sweetest disposition ever. For years, she would wake up with my Dad when he got ready for work. He would feed and water her, and she would be as happy as a lark. There was always a misunderstanding, however, each weekend. He wanted to sleep past 6 a.m. and she wanted feed/watered at 6 a.m. As she got older, she got less patient. The last few years of her life were marked by a very specific pattern: on days when Daddy didn't get up at 6 a.m., she would simply prowl around the edge of the bed until he got up and did her bidding.

It's Dad's birthday today, so the fact that my cat is now (apparently) channeling Molly seems a good way to mark Dad's day.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Gav is hitting "that" age -- the one where I have to decide between sending him to the men's room alone or dragging him into the women's room with me. His six going on seven, meaning that I'm rational going on paranoid-obsessive.

Is there anyone lurking in there? Is some pervert waiting for a trusting mom to send her son in to him? Will Gavin know enough to scream and run? Or will he be just too frightened to act? How much trouble will I get in if I open the door to check on my son's safety?

Wait, do I really care about how much trouble I might get in? Not really.

I stand right outside the bathroom door, ready to leap to action and kill anyone who looks at my son "funny" and makes him nervous.

Well, really, they don't have to make him nervous. Making me nervous is about all it will take for me to push that door open and charge in. While I haven't yet, have no doubt about it, I will should I feel the need. (I've chased my son into men's dressing rooms at department stores when he was a curious toddler, so a men's restroom isn't particularly intimidating.)

It should be noted at this point that Gavin -- in spite of training by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and teachers -- says that he "knows" what to do when approached by a stranger. He will hit him with a baseball bat. Throw him under a car. Run him over. Brake a table over his head. Throw the cat in his face. And, finally, feed him to monsters.

THEN he will run.

(No wonder I get nervous.)

Other mothers share their stories with me, which does not help. While I realize that it's good to be aware, why does every story seem to have an evil stranger haunting it?

Frankly, excluding this, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky chick. I believe that people are generally good at heart and that more of them are likely to help than to hurt. I think that things tend to turn out right, even when it seems that they won't. I talk to strangers, and I smile at people on the street if we make eye contact. I am, probably, the sort who some would say is bound to end up on a milk carton someday.

When it comes to conferences, I hop on planes and head to big cities all by myself. Airports are adventures just waiting to happen -- so much so that I make it a point to change planes whenver possible and pick layovers in states I've yet to visit. When I drive to conferences, I seek out local mom-and-pop restaurants and invite other conference attendees. I've been known to close bars with my closest friends as well as those I met at meetings that morning. And if there's a club to be found, I'll be there.

Ah, and the stories! The culture! To be with people from other worlds who look at everything so very differently then you, whose economic systems were so defining in their lives (uh, yeah, I should probably mention that I meet the bulk of these folks at economics conferences)... it's really quite the drug to me.

I want Gavin to be like that, and he's showing signs of it already... well, that is, when he's not hiding behind me because he's shy around g-i-r-l-s. He, too, looks at everything as an adventure and won't hesistate to ask questions (unless it's a "do you want to come over and play" question, which is another blog for another day).

The trick is to teach him when to talk and when to run without terrifying him into avoiding all strangers, to teach him how to trust his gut in situtations without actually putting him in those situations to learn what a "gut feeeling" feels like.

In the meanwhile, I'll stand outside of the men's room, ready to charge at the first sign of danger. Real or imagined.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Prof. Gavin

Gavin is the eternally adorable child. For starters, he is a stick -- all arms and legs, elbows and knees. He now wears a size 7 for length, but needs a 6 for his waist. And, wonderfully, his two front teeth are now M.I.A.

We spent our Fourth of July weekend in Williamsburg, VA. It was our second trip in two years, and -- given how well things went -- if the fates work with us, we'll head back for July 4, 2010.

This time around, Gav was even more "into" the whole experience... and I'm not talking about the kids' activities (which we didn't get to this year, to be honest). He was the one front-and-center at the cabinet maker's shop asking how wooden hinges worked and how they made animal glue and what a particular hammer was for. He learned how a lock worked at the blacksmith's (but was disappointed that they weren't making nails like last year). He tried to answer the questions posed during the lantern tour we took on Friday night (only got one right, but I'm more awed by the fact that he made the attempt). He dragged us through the gardens and the flowerbeds, asking a bajillion questions, identifying the ones he knew, and trying to pick as much as he could without us noticing.

The best moment, however, was Saturday afternoon.

Because I was still a bit miserable from a lingering cold, I sent my boys on without me on Saturday morning. Sleep was a necessity -- particularly if I was going to make it to the fireworks that night. When they returned at noon, we went to lunch and then began our walk back to Colonial Williamsburg (CW).

First, however, we had to stop at the Great Hope Plantation, which is next to the Visitor's Center and en route to CW. Gav wanted to show me the piglets they had seen that morning. My boys had spent the morning there, learning a good bit about a tobacco plantation.

So, what made it so wonderful? Professor Gavin, of course.

My little man gave me the grand tour, reciting everything he'd learned that morning. He showed me the barn, the tobacco, the dried tobacco, the tools used to farm the tobacco, the piglets, the chickens, the slave quarters, the well, the smoke house, the hams in the smoke house, the tools outside of the smoke house, the cows... you get the picture. It wasn't "what's this, mom?" it was "look at this, mom, and this is what it was used for."

I am, needless to say, proud as proud can be of my young historian... particularly since all of this is innate. The husband and I had nothing to do with his decision to give mom a spontaneous history lesson. Or perhaps we had everything. Nature or nurture? Don't know, to be honest. All I know is that he was having the time of his life teaching mom everything she ever needed to know about running a tobocca plantation. And, frankly, so was I.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who are you and why did you "friend" me?

To date, I have 58 friends on Facebook (FB).

On occassion, I get friend requests from people that, apparently, like to collect friends because -- as you all know -- he who friends the most wins... um... wins... wins what? To the best of my knowledge, no one wins anything for having 783 friends more then the next person. Actually, I'm often hard-pressed to keep track of my 58 friends. (I mean, OMG, one can only have so many BFFs, y/k.)

I haven't much time to "poke" and "superpoke." I sometimes "send a round" of various drinks, but rarely are they all imbibed, meaning that I don't get points enough to unlock more concoctions or to become cyber-drunk. I wonder what that feels like -- and should I have a designated typist for those times when I am virtually toasted?

There are days when I get the chance to send special on-line charms to friends for their on-line charm bracelets, but I can only send 15 each day -- meaning that friend #16 has to wait until the next day. And how am I supposed to determine who is important enough to get a charm today and who is not important enough, so thus must wait until tomorrow?

Also, when I send a round of hugs, what if I forget someone? And is it appropriate to "hug" my male friends? After all, not all of them are ones I'd hug in real life. Actually, ditto for some of the women I friend. Is there a "send a handshake" option?

Oh dear.

It's really quite interesting, all of this social contract stuff on FB. So much to worry about. Take, for example, the two friends who vanished from my friend list within days of each other and could not be found for anything. Being that I considered them good friends, I actually spent long minutes wondering why they un-friended me and trying to figure out what happened. Turns out, happy day, that they didn't un-friend me. They deleted their profiles. In essence, they un-friended themselves from everyone.

I felt so much better. It's nice to be part of a giant group of un-friends, that means that it's nothing personal.

In the realm of un-friending, I myself have committed that very action. It's true. To my knowledge, no one missed me. If someone un-friends up and you don't notice, were you ever friends? (That's much like my other question: if you blog and no one reads it, did you really blog?)

Given the apparently angst that comes to me with FB, it's obvious that I don't tweet. Twittering would probably put me over the cyber-edge. I have too much on my mind to keep it to under 140 characters and -- frankly! -- I'm not sure I'm interesting enough (or boring enough?!) to make tweeting titillating enough to merit followers. Maybe once I sell my novel, I'll send out vital tweets like "buying my venti tea at Starbucks right now" and "wow, that pizza was really good!"

But probably not.
(Tweet, that is. I've every intention of selling that novel once I finish killing off the dead first husband.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

All Stressed Out and No One to Choke

At the risk of making several readers laugh hysterically: I am a calm person.

I don't yell, I don't scream, and I never lose my temper. In the face of others yelling and screaming, I serenely sit and wait, watching the show, until the performers tire and are ready to be sane. I live with the idea that I cannot change people's behaviors, only my reactions to them. How very zen. Very stoic. If I keep myself in check, I can avoid a lot of issues. I am quite the lady, in fact. It's something I work hard to be, because everyone likes women who are ladies. We're easier to handle, easier to deal with, and easier to control.

Until we break, anyway. Until our bodies scream that it's high time we knocked off the "good girl" shitck and moved into "real person (complete with emotions)" mode.

No, I'm not about to turn into a ranting anything. Sorry. Go watch some other sideshow. However, due to this calm nature of mine, I can now tally three ambulance rides in my life.

One, just a week prior to my tenth birthday, was due to some guy who lived at the top of the hill taking a spare tire out of his trunk and leaning it against his car. Seems he forgot that round objects roll... and moments later I was flattened by the maverick tire. No injuries of merit, though the sling that I was to wear for a few days was pretty cool.

The second, the winter before I got pregnant with Gav, was earned after I hit ice and then a wall. The backboard I was strapped to was not pretty cool. Neither was the whiplash.

Number three was just a few weeks ago, when my body made the decision that I needed to get a handle on a few things and get my stressors in order and staged a revolt in the form of an anxiety attack (rather like a heart attack, I learned, but without the pain). I suppose one could call it a tradition of sorts in that I was exceedingly calm the entire time -- just as I was when the tire hit me and when I hit the wall. (Can you even have a calm panic attack? Is that an oxymoron?)

So there I was, finding it impossible to take a deep breath and wondering at the odd tingling sensation in both of my hands. I suppose I would have panicked if there had been any pain. But there wasn't. I just, as I kept saying, "felt funny."

Obviously, everything checked out okay. I was given orders to relax and slow down -- which made me laugh rather heartily once the doctor left the room. You see, I did slow down recently. I'm between writing gigs, not adjuncting, and only working my day job. Essentially, I work my eight-hour day and go home to my son and make dinner and play with him a bit and go to bed. Any slower and I'd be in a coma.

However, doctor's orders is doctor's orders. Never let it be said that I don't know how to listen. In the quest to relax, I've since contracted three writing gigs, have taken on cleaning out the basement, and signed up for karate.

It's nice to be back to normal...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Myth Independent

Okay, so I'm still thinking this one through... but sometimes thinking is overrated... so here we go:

I just finished The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women and, for all intents and purposes, had a difficult time putting it down. The premise is a bit too close to what I've been pondering on my own as of late: that females are being sold a bogus bill of goods on what makes us valuable, namely:
Our bodies
Our virginity.
The number of men who have had us prior to marriage.

I grew up with the "good girl" notion that one was to "save herself" for marriage. So be it. There's no angst or anger or need to sit on a shrink's couch because of it. My mother is a product of the 50s. I came of age in the 80s. It's now 2009. Things change.

The problem today is that it's not what we females do so much as how we are taught to view ourselves after we do it. Once a male has a female, she is less of a person. She isn't as "good" as the girls who are not had.

I may be a Catholic school girl, but I am also the graduate of a Catholic women's college where men were nice to be around but far from paramount to our existence. Most of the time, we were too busy being human to worry much about batting our eyelashes and wiggling our hips. I learned that there are too many things I can do on my own to ever become the clinging, vapid young thing so idealized by MTV et al.

Still, though, as students, we divided ourselves subtly. The girls who had sex were quietly nicknamed and wondered at. My friends and I thought that you had to be in love to have sex, and we could not understand how those other girls could be so "easy." We were taught that men would not love us fully (read: marry us!) if they knew that we had a "reputation."

Like nearly all of my female cousins, I found my husband while in college and graduated not only magna cum laude but also engaged. Carrying on the tradition, I walked down the aisle in white, and -- upon return from the honeymoon -- began to plan for babies. What I didn't do was plan to quit working after said babies arrived, but that's another blog for another day. We're here to talk about what I did "right," not what I did for me.


I still find myself buying into the purity concept, to a degree. I don't believe is sex for the sake of sex. I cherish the idea of it being between two consenting, caring, loving adults. I'll tell my son to wait to have sex, and I'll be nervous when he brings home girls who have (real or imagined) reputations. I won't even try to deny any of that.

What I do believe is that intimacy is not about naked bodies tangled together in bed. Bodies are cheap and interchangeable, particularly when there is no intimacy. Intimacy is about language.

I look at it through my words -- what is said and unsaid, what is implied and what is screamed. Several months ago, I removed the link to my fictional blog, retitled [Insert Title Here], because it's about a woman who isn't exactly true to all of those social and religious ideals. Selina is not, to put it mildly, living the happily ever after promised to women who played by the rules.

I removed the link because I was worried about offending, a behavior -- I have to admit -- that offends me.

Wouldn't want Simply Sentenced readers to be offended, now would I? Wouldn't want them to think that I was a bad girl at heart, you know? Wouldn't want them to laugh at me, right? Wouldn't want to gain that reputation that everyone and her mother warned us about, would I?

Do you hear my sarcasm, readers? Or is it lost in translation?

The link is back. It won't be removed again. You're old enough to determine what you want to read.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grin and bear it...

'Twas a good weekend. Busy, but pleasant. There's something wonderful about being able to do you own thing on your own time.

We painted the family room and kitchen this Memorial Day weekend, we put new holes in the walls for a few pictures to hang, and we gave the basement a good airing-out. Grocery shopped, too. The pantry is now very well stocked -- which is obvious to all as the door has not yet been put back on.

Gavin's about to lose another tooth, top left this time. It's just hanging there, still too attached to fall out and just loose enough to give him a cute little snaggletooth. Being that all things dental are often paired with the word "phobic" in my life, that's where the comparison to "cute" ends for me. I'd rather deal with his getting a shot, with watching the docs put his feeding tube back in (from those crazy NICU days), or with just about any other small child trauma then with a loose tooth.

You see, loose teeth have to come out. If my luck holds, I will never be alone with Gav when that time comes. I will be -- preferably -- at work, at the store, or anywhere where he and the tooth are not. While I love my son more then life itself, I do not think that it is advisable for him to see his mother collapse in a dead faint due to the fact that she has either tried to or did manage to pull out the loose tooth.

So bent am I on not passing my phobia on to my boy, in fact, I refuse to take him to the dentist's office. That's his dad's or his grandma's job. Right now, he thinks it's fun to go to see Dr. Frank, and I'd like to keep it that way.

I can only hope that it will fall out tomorrow under his grandmother's watch and not mine.

THAT will make it a perfect weekend.

(By the way... I'm not exaggerating on the dead faint. Just watching him wiggle it makes me a bit lightheaded. Given that the one and only time I ever fainted was at the dentist's after a baby tooth was pulled, I'm not willing to find out if there will be a second time.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Remember when?

Chantel's lovely Penny inspired today's blog. Seems that the little one paused from her world domination plans to celebrate with her dolls. Fun Mom Chantel paused in her own right and helped Penny with the arrangements.

Those are the sweetest moments in a mom's world -- the ones where fun is fun. Period.

Days where Gavin and I could snuggle on the rocker are pretty much gone thanks to yet another growth spurt and the fact that he is now all elbows and knees. However, days where we can make up silly lyrics to all of those traditional childhood songs are just beginning. His sense of humor is still developing, but he's already showing promise.

Hey mom! Why did the cat sleep in the sink? 'Cause it wanted to!

We're getting there. The husband would tell you that Gav's jokes beat mine... but I simply remind him that he married me in spite of the three-hour-long brick-and-poodle joke, so he lacks room to talk.

I learned my lesson last spring about playing "spin until you fall down," but it hasn't stopped me from racing Gav up the steps when the mood strikes me. I still tackle and tickle, still hold my finger an inch from his ear and chant "I'm not touching you," and am now starting to punk him. He's gets me back, though, so don't worry about that.

One night, as we were getting ready to head to the store, I spritzed some perfume on. A few minutes later, Mr. Smarty-Pants innocently (ha!) announced that there was a skunk outside. Smart me fell for it.

"Really? Are you sure?"
"Yeah. It's wearing a pink sweater..."

Laugh all you want, readers. I sure am.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

So in the previous post I mentioned that Chaos still hurls himself to the floor when he doesn't want to do his homework. It's probably due in part to the fact that he doesn't like homework that he deems "preschool work."

Seriously. He thinks some of his homework is for babies. Especially the counting pages. He knows how to count, he tells me. Given his perfect papers, I trust him on that one.

Still make his do his homework though.

So what isn't "preschool work," you ask?

Well, um, medical terminology. You know, all those big words that doctors spout? Yeah. Those. Seems that Chaos comandeered my med term text (used for a writing gig, not for my own personal studies) about a year ago. Conversations now go something like this:

"See that, mom? That's a third-degree burn. That white stuff is the person's bone!"
"Uh-huh," I reply, trying to look like I'm looking at what I'd rather not look at.

"Ohhh... mom! Look at the skin graft!"
"Uh-huh. Sweetie, there's a reason your mom has sticky notes covering some pictures. Can you leave that there?"

"What's this say?"
"Pancreas. Do you know that that is?"
"What I pee from?"
"Um, not quite, honey..."

"How did the baby get inside the mommy's tummy?"
"Wow. Hey, look at the time, Gav! I think Spongebob's on!"

To date, he still loves the pics of burns and grafts, he now knows just what a pancreas is, and he still thinks babies grow in tummies because the mommy and daddy kiss.

(We're going to keep it that way for now, thank you.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All Grown Up

Every mom has that moment -- the one where she realizes her baby is no longer her baby, one to keep and cuddle all to her heart's content, but a distinct human being who's learning to navigate the world without her.

Mine came this past March with Gav's first trip to the eye doctor.

Gavin sat in the chair and confidently answered every questions the doctor asked. I was simply there to take up space. It was the first time a doctor didn't look to me for the answers, and the first time Gav didn't look to me for help. How odd it felt to not be needed. How odd to realize it, too. (I suppose you can say the moment was bittersweet, though I'm learning more towards sweet much more than bitter. How can I even begin to resent his independence when that has my goal since day one has been to raise an independent thinker?)

This Easter, just a few short weeks ago, while in church, I looked at all of the little girls in their Easter best and found myself longing for the days of new dresses, white straw hats, and pretty little purses with a fancy hankie tucked inside. None of that for this particular mom, though, whose little man was beside her in his Easter best: navy pants, button-down oxford, and clip-on necktie. His brand-new shoes, fresh out of the box that morning, were already scuffed thanks to a gravel parking lot and a little-boy urge to kick every single stone possible.

He chose that same outfit to wear to the funeral home just recently. "These are better clothes, mom," he announced with authority, placing them on the ironing board and negating my choice of khakis and a nice polo shirt.

We go out to eat after karate each Friday, and he orders his own meals. Most times he says please and thank you with little prompting. When we shop, he picks out his own clothes and thinks about what will match.

So he really is turning into a little man, but don't worry -- he's still Chaos. When he's not sending his mom into shock because he remembered his manners, he's busy tearing around the house pretending to be a dog, driving his Match Box cars up my walls, and trying to talk me into baking insanely complex cookies just before bedtime. He continues to fall off of the kitchen chair and fake sleep when we do homework.

Yeah, he's six. I could be all mushy and say "where did the time go" and get all teary-eyed, but that's really not me. I know where the time went and, being that every day is a new adventure, how can I waste time getting weepy? I'm having too much fun to spend time wishing he was a baby again.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Everything He Needs to Know...

In the spirit of Facebook's "25 random things" and in the ancient Robert Fulgum wisdom of kindergarten, I offer you the wisdom of a boy and his reluctant cat.

10. Cats do not like pacifiers. Ever.

9. You cannot and should not make numbers lowercase by writing them backwards. All that does is make mom visit the teacher.

8. You can't get out of homework by throwing yourself on the kitchen floor and faking sleep.

7. Pruning Mommy's plants with safety scissors means a very early bedtime.

6. Fuzz the Cat will run at the first sign of a hair dryer.

5. Lunch ladies get upset when you and your friend hit each other with your lunch boxes.

4. Soft-sided lunch boxes are not to boxing gloves.

3. No one thinks that making (stuffed) "pets" fly down the steps is funny.

2. (Note to self: Don't make pets fly when someone is at the bottom of the steps.)

1. You won't get in trouble if you don't try to give Fuzz a bath.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Captain Chaos Strikes Again

Chaos is moving into helpful mode as of late.

He likes to toss laundry into the washing machine. Likes to unload the dishwasher. Loves to run the vacuum. Loves. As part of this new mode, he has taken it upon himself to help care for Fuzz the Cat. It's a nice change from earlier this summer when he was chasing her with his Williamsburg, VA, authentic rifle. Being that Fuzz is going on 13, she likes this new version of Gavie much better. She like Gav 5.5 so much that she even lets him pet her on occassion -- without my having to hold her still. (Always a perk.)

Never a particularly bright cat, Fuzz is prone to eating and puking up my houseplants. The rubber tree is her favorite. Over the years, I've perfected the art of getting something -- such as newspaper -- under her before she actually spews.

Gavie has learned this art vicariously. The other day, I was upstairs trying to get ready for whatever event we were running late for, when I heard his small voice bellow: "Mom! Fuzz is making that puking meow again!"

"Just watch her for a moment, I'll be right down!"

Thinking he'd simply corral her in the kitchen, which has a linoleum floor, I finished putting on my make-up before heading downstairs. Since he hadn't yelled since the original announcement, I started thinking that it might have been a false alarm. Those happen sometimes.

"Are you still keeping an eye on her?"

Wouldn't it be a scream, I mused, if I went downstair to find that he covered the whole kitchen floor with newspaper? I smiled at the mental image and finished my make-up. I even went so far as to ponder how that might translate into a blog.

"The resourceful Captain, faced with the threat of Fuzz hurling, called upon all prior knowledge to defeat the evil tummy-upsetting plant that she'd ingested..." but I dismissed it in the end because, really, what were the odds that he would do that?

Um, well...
Pretty good, actually.