Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


"Hit the deck!"

I often say this to myself when I enter my bedroom.  Andi sleeps in our room, very lightly, and while I avoid entering the room as much as possible, sometimes I have to go in.  If she sees me, her sleep time is done for. The slightest rousing from her cues me to drop to the ground and army crawl to whatever it is I am after in my room. Some days it's laundry, other days, it's my M&M corner, and other (rare) days, it's my bed for a 20 minute nap.

Patrick and I mastered the army crawl years ago.  Mom and dad slept downstairs, and woken by our giddy little footsteps in years past, had warned us to stay in bed on Christmas eve.  Sneaking from our beds to find out what Santa had brought necessitated a more planned approach for viewing the contents of the family room in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

The days immediately before Christmas morning commenced practice drills after mom and dad went to bed. During daylight hours, we pow-wowed. "I'll come get you when they're in bed, then NO talking. You follow me."  (I was a natural born leader back then.)

Sometime after 11 PM, I'd slink out of my bed, walking so lightly I practically floated into my little brother's room. We had already gathered our flashlights in the light of day. Waking him, we'd both slide to the floor and begin the crawl, flashlights in hand.

The floating walk has stuck with me to this day. And 10 plus years of ballet and pointe only refined it.  "GOOD GOD WOMAN! Someone needs to tie a bell around your neck," Dave yells, startled, as he suddenly finds me standing next to him in the kitchen.

Dave has been tasked with completing a task at work in the next week --which is nearly humanly impossible-- while one of his bosses is off "compartmentalizing."  And you better believe the other bosses stayed true to form and are still handing him assignments that must be done NOW. For the last week, this has meant working til well past midnight, including the weekend.  By the fifth night of his scant presence in our home, no break imminently in sight, and after a long week of drama with family, friends, and Glen Beck in his new role as peacemaker, I had flat had it.  If only I could "compartmentalize", things might be easier, but since I live in reality (sometimes), this will not happen.

*The preceding paragraph was brought to you by uncontrolled passive agression and you may ignore it if you wish.*

Laying on my bedroom floor that fifth evening, fresh out of M&M's, and never one to sit and do nothing, I explore my collection of miniature tea sets which were under my bed.  Buried in with my tea sets I found "The Witch's Burned Stew."  It was published in 1984 by the Edwards Elementary Writing Center. I authored this book in 3rd grade. I spent a lot of time in the writing center, finding it  a great way to avoid recess and kick ball.   My editor, a parent volunteer, would edit my book with me, and then she'd send me on my way with paper and markers to illustrate my book while she set to work typing the text.  We'd meet up in a week for her to preserve the pages in contact paper and bind it together.

I read the story to Sophia and Ella the day after finding my book. Finishing the story, I looked up, the third grader in me goofily smiling, and I couldn't wait for their feedback.  Sophia smiled, her embarrassed smile. Ella looked at me and said, "that was kinda stupid."

Per Ella's request, I read it again. The second reading was enough for her to make a certain judgment of my literary skills.


A decisive critic, Ella holds back nothing in her assessment of fledgling authors

The 34 year-old in me laughed.  Oh well.

Kenny Rogers sang in my ear, summarizing our week,

"You can't please everybody...

but you,

gotta please yourself."

Monday, August 30, 2010

As I Lay Bleeding

Bleeding, I collapsed and laid at the top of the stairs.  Thoughts raced through my mind. Should I call Dave? What about NiNi? She's in nursing school, they've probably covered mortal wounds by now. 

Will anyone come to my funeral? Dave and the girls will, probably the rest of my family, too. My cousin might make it, but only if her dog doesn't have a radiation treatment scheduled for that day. It'll definitely be an open-casket. I am fascinated by looking at dead things, and since I'd be dead, why not indulge others in the ability to stare without fear of being caught.

Sophia and Ella watched me, wondering what I'd do next, and, I think, wondering if I was joking. "I need a band-aid. Please, come help me." I held my finger and could feel the blood puddling in between my non-injured fingers.  Sophia, my mini-me, came up the stairs. Her 4 year-old hands doing their best to pry the band-aid from it's sterile sleeve. Holding her syrup-y finger on the cotton-pad of the band-aid, she was ready to put the band-aid on.  "I'll get an ice-pack," called Ella. The daredevil of the family, she figured an ice-pack was the best bet. 

I nixed the band-aid, surely it wouldn't be big enough. Fifteen minutes had passed and with the bleeding finally stopped, I wrapped my finger in a washcloth. I proceeded to help the girls work on a project, dressed all three of them, and somehow, managed to put in three pony-tails and two flower barrettes.  All with my finger wrapped in it's pink, bulky, 7X7 inch cloth.

The time came for me to wash my face, put on my make-up, and style my hair, which includes applying four styling products.  My hairdresser pays for her children's preschool tuition off the commission from me alone.  Time to lose the washcloth and face the issue head on.

While trying to open a bag of chocolate chips, I had slit the top of my finger with the serrated knife.  As I let the wash-cloth fall to the floor, I caught a glimpse of my injury. Any wound in any person will make me woozy. And I'm not above passing out. I have spent time unconscious on the floor after changing my earrings. I just can't handle openings in one's body that weren't put there by biology. It's a wonder I made it through two c-sections. It took me a whole year just to look at my surgical scar following Sophia and Ella's birth.

I knew, from my accidental glimpse, just what size of band-aid would be enough to cover my wound.  I dug through the box. I ended up having to use a medium size band-aid, the girls had used up all the smalls.  I slathered antibiotic ointment onto the band-aid, and, daring myself to look at the wound, I was a bit surprised at it's size.  The slice on my finger looked more like a small hole, similar to that of a finger-prick from the doctor. Pleased with this finding, I cancelled the online order I had placed for my casket.

I just might survive, after all. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Missed Turn

A few weeks ago, I packed the girls into the car, and, nearly two hours late for a playdate with Tom and his kids, we set off for his house.  We live a couple of towns a part, but still in the same state.

The girls and I had been to his beautiful house in the past, and we looked forward to heading there again. Not only is the house like a home you'd find in the Parade of Homes, but the trek there is lovely. And I'm not just speaking of the three male marathoners that regularly run through the area, every muscle defined, their bodies lean, and tanned, they glisten in the sunlight....

I've gotten distracted. There's bluffs and countryside, too. It's lovely.

We were curving along the country roads, I was confident we would get there, I had been there before, and I was following my same directions. I certainly am not like my aunt and mom, or so I thought. I love my aunt dearly, but I was mystified when she recently recounted multiple stories of not finding her way, despite having a tom-tom in her car.

And mom. She gets lost in parking lots and can't find her way out. Visiting her this last time, she wanted to avoid a train and I clutched the headrest behind her for leverage as she whipped back and forth over potholes and curbs, trying to find her way through backlots only to dead-end into the back of a building. "Geesh," I had thought. "I don't know how anyone can have such trouble finding their way through their (small) hometown."

I  started chewing on my pride, in preparation that I may have to swallow it when Sophia calls up from the backseat "Mom, did you miss a turn?"

It hadn't really dawned on me, yet, that things weren't going well. But since she mentioned it, it was taking a bit longer to get to Tom's house than usual. I kept driving because what does a four year-old know anyway?

It's a good thing I had begun chewing on my pride. As it turns out, I did have to swallow it the moment I saw the sign 

"Welcome to Wisconsin." 

I wasn't even sure how we ended up in a whole other state.  It really seemed to have snuck up on me, much like the back of the building had for mom, and the 45 minute detour my aunt took as she bypassed her hometown that she visits a few times a year.

Like my mom and aunt, I, too -- apparently -- get lost. And not just in a little old parking lot, or missing an exit. Nope. I bypass a friend's house and head straight into another state.

Really, how does a 4 year-old recognize we've missed a turn --or two, or three-- before her mother?

And she'll never let me forget it.  Telling her a few days ago that it was time to head to Tom's, she asked "Are we gonna miss any turns? Don't miss the turns, 'kay?"

I'll try, but I can't promise you anything....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Can a child feel resentment and coldness through my hand? Her arms and legs were gangly and clumsy as she tried to skate, and I listed in my mind all the articles I had due in the next 24 hours.  I had finally given up trying to get them written. The twins didn't get it when I explained mommy had to work to pay for their upcoming double tuition into their preschool program, "I want to roller skate. Come out with me."

Outside, I was quiet and impatient. I hadn't yet transitioned my mind from my writing, which just moments ago, had me feeling content and like I was finally accomplishing something that would give me visible results -- a paycheck.  I missed that old feeling of being rewarded for your work.

Ella didn't want to roller skate, so we brainstormed an activity agreeable to all three of us.  We sat on the back deck, playing in the large container full of rice and beans, shoveling them, letting them rain through our fingers. My best friend is guilt. I look for reasons to feel guilty.  I decided that my viewing of my children as distractions today, would only lead to regret down the road, that I didn't enjoy them, play with them.

I searched for things to say, ways to engage with them, nothing was coming. Holding the bean in my hand, I remembered a favorite childhood story, "Jack and the Beanstalk."  My favorite part was the fee fi fo fum part. Mom used to read that story to me, and we'd chant the recurring chorus of fee fi fo fum together. This simple moment brings a feeling of warmth, contentment, and acceptance to me. That's priceless.

I remembered the gist of the story, but not all the details, and began telling the story. They were listening.  Soon though, they saw through the holes in my memory and began throwing questions at me "What did Jack do? Did the giant get him? Did the giant come in his house? Did he lock the door?"

Mom's sister, my aunt and a longtime preschool and first grade teacher, is a great story teller. I can remember a moment in a garden in Omaha.  Waiting to get into some event, my cousins and I were bored, the sun was beating down, I was hot and tired, but no way would I sit on the grass, fearing a worm would touch me.  This sucked. My aunt started telling us a story about a witch, and while I don't remember the story, I remember being sucked into the story. The rhythm of her soft voice, the description of the scene and the characters, the way she moved her hands and arms just so as she told the story.  She had my attention. It was calming and entertaining.

I was quiet again, and we continued scooping our rice and beans, sorting the beans into their own containers, the rice into it's own bowl. This was the making of "cookies." Contrary to what Dave jokingly says about me, I am not a good liar with a good imagination, two things that I thought might aid me in telling a good made up story.

I decided to give the girls an oral memoir of their last 24 hours. "HI, I'm Ella. And I like to go to gymnastics, I like soccer, but only kind of. Yesterday, I went to my friend's house and didn't play with anyone because I wouldn't follow the made up "rules" to take off my shoes. Then I came home and went to the neighbors. I knocked on the door, went inside, watched them paint, watched a movie, then came home to see Daddy..."  I continued with the memoir and she smiled when I was done.

"Do me now!" Sophia wanted her turn and I gave an oral memoir of her. They both listened. I weaved in empathy and social skills issues into the stories. This held their attention.

Ending the memoirs we sat quietly, still playing side by side in the rice and beans. "I like it when you play with me, mommy," said Sophia quietly.

"You do? How does it make you feel?"


"Good," I told her. That's all I want for you. And I was happy, too. I didn't get paid for this "piece" I verbally wrote, but I was satisfied in that moment, her compliment a pleasant reward.

Mom called as I came inside to make lunch, and I could hear the disappointment in her voice. She was sick, and the symptoms worried me. The woman who doesn't miss work, much less time with her grandchildren, had called to say the girls can't come tomorrow as planned...She has a second doctor appointment, and just isn't going to be up to it. 

I couldn't hear worry in her voice, if it was there, mother's mask these feelings not wanting to upset their children.  And hopefully, Sophia didn't feel the fleeting coldness, the resentment, coming off my hand this morning, because the feelings didn't come from not wanting to be her mom or have time with her. The feelings came out of not knowing how to balance financially supporting my children, being an adult with adult needs, and being a caring, kind mom. The perfectionist in me is still working on how to embrace Edward Everett Hale's quote, which, I think, applies now...

I am only one,
but I am one. 
I can't do everything, 
but I can do something.
And what I can do,
I shall do.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rats in the Apple Tree

It's Monday morning and I feel as if my mom just let go of my bike, the training wheels freshly removed, and I am on my own. My breathing is shallow and rapid, my throat feels tight, and my head aches, hinting that a headache could be coming on. After four years of being a mom, I still panic on Monday mornings when Dave leaves for work.  Never mind the question of how will I make it through to Friday, I can't even figure out how we'll make it to lunchtime today. I use everything I can to keep Dave from leaving for work, including, but not limited to, the children.

Allowing the girls to take over the bathroom does two things for me: it delays Dave's ability to get ready for his day, and it reminds him that we, sooner or later, will need a bigger house with more bathrooms.

Once he does get himself into the bathroom, I bombard him with memories of the weekend and ask for his thoughts, feelings, and opinions about everything we experienced. Being that he is a man, I  know that he does a poor job of multi-tasking.

"Dave, weren't the girls funny at soccer this weekend?"

"Yea, they could earn the sportsmanship medal."  (On opposing teams, they still stuck together, to the dismay of their coach and teammates. And Sophia allowed Ella's team to make all 10 goals.)

I ask him how fantasy football went...then listen as he describes the features he hopes his next i-pod will have to replace the one stolen. Balancing being bored out of my mind with satisfaction that I have been able to distract him from getting ready, I move back to a topic that will hold my attention -- speculating about tragedy.

"Did you see that guy at the water park? You know, the one that was could see every bone?"

"Yea," Dave wonders where I am going with this. "He didn't look happy."

"He had two trans dermal pain patches on. One on his belly, one on his back.  It made me so sad to see him. Do you think he had cancer? And then I saw he had identical twin boys and my heartbroke."

Dave isn't paying attention. Time to lose the ruminations and talk about the girls...

"They had fun, didn't they?"  And I review all the activities they engaged in...

Dave has finished getting ready...he is headed out the door.  My panic mounts, "think fast," I tell myself...

"Wait!" I suddenly remember that I haven't told him about the white squirrel I saw in our apple tree.  After staring at it, trying to capture it on film, it had begun to remind me of a huge rat inducing both disgust and a little fear.

"I forgot to tell you about the giant rat in the apple tree!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Debate That Never Was

*(If offended by swearing, this will offend you. I even offended myself a little, but not really.) 


"If you can learn to laugh in spite of the circumstances that surround you, you will enrich others, enrich yourself, and more than will last!!" author unk

Anyone who knows me, and knows me well, is aware of my inability to articulate myself when I am angry or upset. To be in my presence when I am trying to argue about something, is like finding yourself in the audience of a Ron White comedy show.  

Ron White does a dialogue about his time in high school when joining the debate team. His response during the debate was "Oh yea? Well fuck you."

He goes onto describe the other side as speechless, "I thought I had won. I thought that was the whole point - to shut them up."

So today, when I was offended by this guy and that woman, I decided to form a blog post that would answer to their idiocy, but it did not go well. The following is a portion of what came out:

Oh yea? Well fuck you.  Screw you. Be gone with you, you stupid-a** mother-effer. To hell with you. Go F yourselves and shove it up your a**.  Go find someone else to take advantage of. Pick on someone your own size. Kiss my rosey red a**. Re-join the other boils on the ass of humanity. I hope you trip and fall on shards of broken glass. Shave with a rusty razor. Walk through a cow pasture barefoot. Listen to a Sara Palin speech. Confront a pack of four-year olds with a bag of healthy snacks.

And so, you see, it did not come out well.  And just when I thought I was lost on what to write, too angry to even consider anything BUT telling off ignorant, judgmental fools, Dad sent me the opening quote. 

I have decided to leave the satire and debating to Tom and Smitty while I stick to observations of life around me, my parenting, and my struggle to be in the moment and find where I am going in life. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slutty Librarians Make Me Smile

I know. I said I wouldn't go to the library anymore, what with Andi having access to manuals on climbing and the potential for stalking to occur, but I have articles to write and I needed some books.

Having twin 4 year-olds, the amount of idiocy one comes up with is only made exponential with her cohert to add to it.  At times, I am left speechless I am so angry at what the two of them come up with, other times I let loose a torrent of phrases and words that do nothing but act as a valve for my pent-up frustration.

Over the weekend, we went shopping.  Dave and I decided to take the twin stroller, and Andi's singleton stroller, that way everyone would be corralled.  It would make things easier and we could conquer fall/winter shopping once and for all.  Many moms of multiples proclaim the internet as their best friend for shopping, citing the impossibility of shopping with multiple children the same age. I haven't  jumped on that bandwagon, yet.

For some reason, the canopies on the strollers became the obsession of the twins during this shopping trip.  OPEN. SHUT. OPEN. SHUT.



"Stop playing with those," I hiss. "One is about to fall off. Do you hear me? Am I making sense? What do we do with these canopies? LEAVE THEM OPEN. Got it? Next person to touch one is getting stuck in the car with the doors shut and windows rolled up under the hot sun."

When we arrived at the library yesterday, we went through our normal arguments about who gets to buckle Andi into the stroller.  Sophia removed her hands from Andi's stroller seatbelt, and as I clasped the buckles together, Sophia grabbed the canopy and slammed it down -- onto my glasses --  breaking them.

OH hell damn.

A torrent of anger flies out of my mouth and we walk into the library, my glasses hanging crooked off the right side of my face. I grab my books, the twins grab theirs.  Andi, angry that she is left in the stroller is hanging out the side of the stroller, "OHHHHHH!" She moans in between screams.

For the physical well-being of my children, and out of the respect for other patrons who do not want to see me murder my children in public, I skip the self-check machines and the fight that will ensue  should we try to use them, and go straight to the librarian at the check-out desk.

"Can I help you?"

Setting my books up there apparently it is not obvious, at the check-out desk, that I want to check them out.  "I want to check these out."

"Oh, have you not been trained in self-check?"

"Yes, I have, but I don't want the fight today."

"Well, when you come here to this desk, you will be re-directed to those machines everytime."

I stand there, glasses hanging off my face crookedly, and stare her down. She takes my books and says, "This time, I'll do it."

At 10:30 PM I am still irked by my interaction with the librarian and email a friend. He responds quickly to my assertion that the librarians "are all bitches. Every one of them."  Tom, always calm and rational, asked me to be reasonable.

"They cannot all be bitches, though. Some must be sluts. It stands to reason."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things That Freak Me Out

1. Motorcyclists with the helmets that make them look like a robot.

I can't see their faces, much less their eyes. And for me, there's something about not being able to see their eyes. Are they looking at me? Are their eyes evil? My imagination runs wild with thoughts that the robotic, futuristic motorcycle guy is going to chase me. Keep going, keep going my mind chants to the man on the bike. I breathe a sigh of relief once he is out of my sight.

2.  Realizing my child is psychic.

Andi has mastered climbing up the stairs and it occurred to me that we should spend time letting her practice coming down the stairs. Since she breaks down baby-gates or climbs up them, they really do nothing for her safety.  On her umpteenth practice run down the stairs, she trips and falls. I am there, and I catch her.  Ella, who is sitting with her back turned, trying on new leggings from our school-clothes shopping trip says, "Andi fell down the stairs and mommy caught her."  I hadn't made any noise during this little episode to clue her in, and asked Ella how she knew what had happened.

"I saw it in my dreams. Andi fell down the stairs and mommy caught her." 

There are plenty of other things that freak me out, like bathing in yellow water in the flooded city of Ames or having a slug trapped under my heal in my sandal, that when I try to flick it off with my finger, sticks to me forcing me to instinctively wipe it on my thigh, only to have it stick to my finger again, as I attempt to fling it towards the ground.  But I am going to leave the list as it is, for now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Murderer In the Drive-way

This morning I was afraid my family had been murdered. 

A couple nights ago, mom and Kelli took a bike ride on their tandem bike. A man followed them home from their original destination.  He was careful to stay precisely behind them so that when mom gave into the feeling that someone was following her and turned to look, she didn't see him.  Pulling into their drive-way, the man stopped at the bottom of their drive-way and watched them.  Hastily, mom told Kelli to "get inside," and then yelled at the man, "What do you want?"  He didn't answer. She yelled the question at him two more times. He never answered. He kept his face pointed towards the ground, it was dusk, and she couldn't see his features well. 

Mom put her tandem away, then put her 100 pound frame on a bike and went after the man who had pulled away.  She (luckily) never found him. She called the neighbors and described the man and told them to keep their eyes peeled.

Mom was shaken and I knew the feeling.  Dave does not come home until well after I have fed the girls and gotten them to bed.  One afternoon, at nap-time, I grabbed the phone and speed-dialed his cell phone. Crouched in the upstairs hallway, my heart was racing. There were noises in the drive-way.  I didn't want to risk going by the window and letting whoever was out there see me.  Hitting "call" on the phone, it began ringing just as the door opened. "Oh my GOD!"  My mind instantly knew I was going to die. This was it.

"What are you doing?" Dave asked, setting his bag down in the foyer.

"I was calling you because I thought there was a murderer coming in the house."

A look of disturbed hysteria came over him, a chuckle escaped as he asked "and you were calling me? What was I going to do?"

This morning, when I called mom's work to let her know the plan for travelling to her home tomorrow, a co-worker answered her phone and told me,

"I'm sorry.  She isn't here. She didn't make it in today."

I thought that was odd.  I fully expect to be forewarned of all of my mom's days off so that I know just where to reach her when I am bored.  I called her house. No answer.  My heart began to beat a little harder now.  After hearing mom's story, I had dreamed all night that my family was murdered...

I called her cell phone. No answer.

I called Dad. He always answers his cell phone.  No answer.

I called my brother. No answer.

I called Dave ready to tell him that I fully believed my family to have been murdered... By the man on the bike.

My other line beeped in.  Mom called to say the city of Ames was flooded, major roads were closed, she couldn't figure out how to get here and there, etc.  "No," she told me. She had not been murdered.

Later I talked to Dad.  He hadn't heard my phone call earlier, not because he was laying lifeless in his bed after being murdered, but because he was enjoying the roar of a friend's new diesel truck.

I plan to buy mom some pepper-spray for her birthday which is coming in just a few days.  That's freaky about the guy following her home.  "You just never know," I tell Dave, as he rolls his eyes at me. Not wanting to be killed in his own driveway, and fearing I'm the type to be trigger happy, he tells me not to get a gun. Ever.

 "Who needs a gun? I'll just call you."

He leaves the room to change out of work clothes, "great."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to School Essay

I walked into my Saturday morning writing seminar, "The Sentence," with great hopes of learning some technical tricks for avoiding run-ons, passive voice, and an overall tightening of skills. I hoped I would gain some sort of technical knowledge that would give my writing the edge that a professional has. 

A law professor, an ex-smoker, and a woman with more facial hair than the neatly-groomed guy sitting across from her had already arrived.  Taking my seat in the back, close to the door,  my eyes were drawn to the neatly-groomed guy and his computer-generated name-tent letting us all know he was "Alex."  Alex began bouncing in his seat as another guy arrived, "Oh sit here!"  They began talking and I noticed they had matching lisps.  

Eventually, four women, newly suffering from empty-nest syndrome joined, and an "italian" play-ah swankered in. Our instructor started a stack of paper-clipped packets of information around the room. Passing the stack to the bearded woman beside me, I hear the sound of a stapler.


Alex handed his th-tapler to his friend as the two giggled over something. What I saw as I looked over at them struck me so funny, that I stopped breathing for a moment in order avoid laughing. Not only does the man named Alex, who groomed himself impeccably for an early Saturday morning writing class bring his own name-tent and th-tapler, but he had a whole pencil box full of rubberbands, paper-clips, extra staples, pens, pencils, white-out, and tape.  I love organization and preparation as much as the next obsessive-compulsive personality, but the well-divisioned supply box this man had, though impressive, seemed a little over the top for a three-hour class.  But, I was already loving his quirks.
Our instructor began the class. "Let's get to the deep subject of propositions (or was it prepositions) which is what we are all here for."  I hoped that whatever he had just said was going to meet my expectations for learning the mysterious knowledge and rules that MUST be out there when it comes to writing professionally.

Half-way through the class, as he discussed mixing conjunctives with subortinative modifications as his preferred style of writing, I began to despair. I could not keep up with the base clauses,  modifiers, bound modifiers, and paradygmatic decisions. I had managed not to wet my pants when the law professor told our instructor to seek psychoanalysis after drawing an oddly shaped ice-berg, but Alex and his friend couldn't stop giggling about the iceberg penis.

Once I decided to stop enjoying the comedy of Alex and resume paying attention, the instructor shared something profound.  "You don't need to know how the engine of a car works in order to drive it."  And I, with my mediocre level of intelligence and lack of a fancy vocabulary thought, "there's hope, yet," when the instructor told us "writing can even be majestic with an average vocabulary."

Avoid cliches, be careful with similies, and the writer's overuse of adverbs is "expensive and doesn't embellish writing," were the last few drips of useful information I gained. If I didn't have to learn to dissect a sentence, then, maybe I'm closer than I think I am to becoming a writer.

"A lot of this is opinion- how to make writing work. There is no golden road to the right answer for what good writing is. If your readers like it, then you've done it." 

Confidence beginning to gather, I decided to tune out rearranging base clauses and watch the "Alex and Friend Show," listening just long enough to hear the instructor tell us "readers love it when writers are confident, I know I do."

It turns out, I did get what I came for after all. 

Leaving the class, Alex meets me on the stairs. "Did you have fun?"  "Yes," I had told him.  "Good! See you around, Shannon!"  The nerd in me was delighted he had had caught my name and actually chosen to remember me. "Maybe," I thought, "I am finally finding a place where I fit in, and where people will remember me, and where I can be confident in my own voice, even if....

especially if...

it is my written voice."

Class Bibliography
6 Must Have Books of Every Writer: 
1. "Grammar Desk Reference"

2. "Practical English Usage"

3.  "The Elements of Style"

4.  A Thesaurus

5. OED Dictionary

6.  "Higher Lessons in English"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

I called the pediatrician's nurseline and, without giving my name, asked if it would

"be a problem if my one-year-old ate gum?

With the wrapper on."

"Nope, it'll pass through."  This was a relief since Andi not only ate the gum and it's wrapper, but the two other gum wrappers the twins had thrown on the floor.

In the spirit of continuing to prove myself as "Mother - of - the - Year," I confess that recently,  I abandoned Andi in her baby-seat in the pool because a wasp was floating around her head. "Oh my God!" My mom says, hurrying over to stand by Andi who is floating, unaware of the danger buzzing her head.  "Every man for himself," I told her.

Unlike the other perils Andi has found herself in as of late, which were more like fleeting incidents, the climbing has become an obsession for Andi.  Today climbing reached a fever-pitch.  I found Andi jumping on the couch, then outside, moments later, standing on a mini lawn chair while eating a popsicle. She fell off and bit the dirt. Literally.  When I found Andi standing on the twins' coloring table after coming back inside to clean-up, I knew at that moment that we needed to stop going to the library.

Not only did Andi gain increased knowledge on climbing at the library, I was stalked while we were there. By a four year-old.

Andi and I joined Sophia, Ella, and two other four year-olds that we did not know, in the reading nook at the library.  Instantly, "the stalker girl" we'll call her, started firing questions at me. Here is just a small part of our rapid-fire conversation:

"Is that your baby?"

Me: yes

"What's her name?"

Me: Andi

"Can she stand?"

Me: Yes

"Can she walk?"

Me:  Yes

"Can she run?"

Me: Yes, well, she's just learning, so it's not really a full run.

"So, sort of."

Me:  Yes

"Kind of."

Me: yes

"But not really."

Me: yes, OK Sophia and Ella, Mommy needs to go find her books. Say good-bye to these little girls.

Going back to find a book that always raises my confidence when I think I can't be a "real writer" when I grow up, Brenda Uelands "If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit" is in, but on the top shelf. 

I set Andi down on the floor and she takes off. By the time I catch her two aisles later, she has two books. On climbing.

I confiscate her contraband and head to the front to check out our books. Fighting with Sophia and Ella over who gets to use the self-check machine, I hadn't noticed that "the stalker girl" had re-joined us.

Andi is screaming as I hold her, so I set her down and she races out the front doors of the library. "The stalker girl" comes with me.  The three of us back inside, I am faced with another round of questions, including, but not limited to "why is she crying? why don't you put her in the stroller? why don't you set her down? Uh OH! She's crying AGAIN.  Why does she get mad? Does she scratch you?  Does she bite? Why?"

If "the stalker girl" would have asked me if Andi could read, I suppose I could have said "yes."  Either that, or her book selections were all an eerie coincidence.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sleep Really Is Good Medicine

I have been on the brink of coming un-done lately. Any small irritation, and trust me, there are many with three small girls, seems like someone is trying to start WWIII with me.  And I'm tired.  Trying to drive any distance scares me, as my eyes start to close I wonder who is a bigger risk on the road: a mother distracted by her kids, a drunk driver, a texting driver, or a sleepy driver.

Sleep Deprivation would have me label this picture
"Irritation #1, 2, 3 & 4"

"What if I have chronic fatigue syndrome?" I worried to Dave. "And my memory. I can't remember anything. And I came out of the store to see my  minivan sitting with it's sliding doors wide open in the parking lot.  I'm in need of a neuropsych exam, Dave.  Something is wrong."  Turning frustrated, I tell him "there are no meds strong enough to take away my impatience and anger."

"You just need to get some sleep," he'd tell me, reminding me that Andi has me up two to four times per night, and that Sophia would wake me with the sun.   "What does he know?" I'd think.

Finally, I gave in.  I took a nap one Sunday morning. And then, when I woke up, I laid in bed and read a magazine. A whole magazine. When I came downstairs, my children were eating lunch and instead of finding something to get frustrated about, my automatic state of being was...happiness. Kindness.  I even laughed and found them fun to be around.

How odd.

I have not fully appreciated how important a good night's rest is to a person's well-being. I preached it to client's, but it's not like I practice what  I preach.

Once I realized how great it was to be awake for life, I decided maybe I should start drinking coffee again. Heading into Caribou coffee, I tell them to give me the light-blend, half-full.  Then, not being a lover of coffee, I head to the condiment bar and fill the rest of the cup with 1/2 & 1/2 and enough sugar to wire a kindegarten class. "That's a ghetto latte," Dave informed me.  Well, no wonder the staff had been giving me dirty looks. 

I'm awake again, somedays, if I nap, or call on some coffee, and it's good to be back among the living.

Article on don't have to take my word for it...