Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Author Meet Fail -- Or, how I didn't meet the Pioneer Woman when she came to town.

I had plans, dear readers, big plans. Last night I was going to meet one of my heroes of the blogosphere, Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman. You've heard me 'talk' about Pioneer woman on here before. She is one of the best known bloggers on the 'net, so if you haven't read her blog, you should. She makes me want to chuck it all and move to a big ranch and homeschool my four kids and live with my cowboy husband. *Yes, I realize I only have three kids and my husband is an engineer, but we could adopt and he could be a cowboy, he's very talented like that.*

Anyway, Pioneer Woman was coming to Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville last night, and I wasn't going to miss her. I had it all planned -- or at least I thought I did. I told my hubby *Oh, That reminds me, I really need a better blog name for him. Pioneer Woman calls her hubby Marlboro Man, because he's a cowboy. I could call mine Engineer man, but that conjures up images of glasses and pocket protectors, and he is much more yummy than that. I could always call him Country Boy, but that brings up Bubbas and chewing tobacky and that won't do either. He's a country boy in the sense that he's not afraid of hard work and can do just about anything, and he likes the pace of life to be a little slower, and he loves a good 4-wheeler ride, too. Southern Gentleman might work. Yes ma'am and no ma'am are a regular part of his vocabulary, and ladies, if we were out to dinner with you, and you left the table and came back, he would stand up for you. Oh yes he would. Ooh, and then there's my favorite, Eagle Scout. That name might describe him better than any other moniker I could come up with. He's all the things a good scout is, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent, but that makes him sound a little too goody-goody, and he's not that either. Since all those names together describe him but are too cumbersome to type, I guess hubby will have to suffice for now. You thought this was a post about Pioneer Woman, didn't you? I'm tricky that way. Anyway, back to the story.)

I told my hubby that I was going to go see Pioneer Woman on Monday night. He said, "That's great, but you know we have Cub Scout Pack meeting, right?" Grrr. No, of course I didn't know that, because I don't think of things like that when I am planning getaways for myself. In my head I know that Pack Meeting is the second Tuesday of every month, but that doesn't always translate to me thinking about it. Plus, last night still felt like the first Tuesday of the month, because it was the 8th and December started on Tuesday. Grrr.

So, plan B. I'll get a babysitter. No problem, right? It's worth it. Well, turns out my college age babysitter is much more responsible than I was at 19. She had a final today and thought it best to stay home last night to study. What was that all about? I'm not sure. I usually started studying for a final around 10:30 the night before, and she would have been home around 8:30, which would have given her plenty of time, but to each his own.

Then I come up with a brilliant idea -- I'll take my girls. You see Pioneer Woman loves kids. And she takes pictures at all of her signings and puts some of the people up on her blog. Have you seen my children? They are beautiful if I do say so myself, and I also have a secret weapon for my girls -- pink cowboy boots. *I just heard an audible gasp from some of you who've known me for a long time. Yes, my girls have boots and yes, I know you wouldn't expect that of me. My mother-in-law bought them on sale, and they are the cutest things you've ever seen.* I was going to put my 3-year-old in her brown and pink twirl skirt and her pink cowboy boots and take her with me. Anyone who says she wouldn't have made the blog in that outfit has obviously never seen her in it. She is too cute, and her 6-year-old sister, well she is a beauty. My girls were going to be famous!

So what happened you ask? Life happened, that's what. We got home from mother's day out and the 3-year-old was in a mood. There is no nap at MDO and by 2:15 when we get home, it's too late to take one. So, we made cookies. Oh, and did I mention the rain? It rained all day long here. Nasty cold rain with nasty cold wind thrown in for good measure. I'm sure Pioneer Woman thinks Nashville is just delightful. The rain had actually slacked off for a little while in the afternoon until right before my older two got off the bus. I missed the knock at the door at first and when my son started pounding on the door and I opened it, it was pouring big fat cold drops of rain. So, I got to hear him belly ache about the rain and getting soaked for 5 minutes until I could yell, "Cookies, fresh hot cookies!" and then all was better.

So, at this point I'm still a little hopeful. Cookies have improved every one's mood and my husband will be home soon, and I'll still make it out of here on time, right? Wrong. After relaxing with cookies and milk and playing a little around the house, my son starts on his homework. Remember, he has a Pack Meeting and has to get it done before he can go. Can I just say that getting him to do homework after being in school all day is like pulling teeth? He is so smart that when he applies himself, it takes all of five minutes. It's just the "applying" part that he can't seem to get past.

I'm busy doing dishes and trying to get some laundry done when he asks me two easy questions as part of his homework. "Name two inventions that have occurred in your lifetime and tell what life was like before and after the inventions." Well, how easy could that be, computer and cell phone. I talk a little about the changes and then I word my responses in easy, short, complete sentences, so all he has to do is dictate. So that's what he does, right? Ha. When I finally get done with laundry and look at his homework he has written about three words down in each of the boxes. His homework looks like some sort of cryptic code. I explain to him that three word responses are unacceptable, and of course he has a minor breakdown. Fifteen minutes later when I am still trying to get him to write complete sentences, my hubby gets home. He, of course, is justifiably unhappy that homework is not down because, say it with me now, "He has a pack meeting to go to!"

Then there's a little thing called dinner I forgot to deal with. Actually, that is untrue. I had baked cookies earlier, and frankly, I can bake or I can cook in one day, I cannot do both. So, it was Spaghetti O's for the kids, leftover Mexican for hubby and cereal for me. Oh, and did I mention the meltdown that my 3-year-old had in the bathroom? She was screaming at the top of her lungs in the bathroom, so I run in to see the problem. She is jerking at her skirt and crying, so I assume she can't get the skirt down and has to potty badly, so I jerk it down and plop her on the toilet. Actually, I try to plop her on the toilet and she clings to me like a spider monkey. My brain does not process this, because I am imagining a puddle on the floor and there is so much screaming going on I can't think. So, I remove her clinging limbs from my body and plop her forcefully on the potty. Five minutes of screaming and crying later, I figure out she needed help getting the skirt up and not down, because she had already pottied. I try to discuss the benefit of using words versus screaming to get what she needs, but fifteen minutes later she is still crying for Daddy and I am holding her in my lap. Then, of course, she tries to fall asleep.

I'll admit it was at this point when I had a crying toddler in my arms, a third grader who was not doing his homework, a first grader who had not read me her book, and a husband who was wondering what was for dinner that I realize meeting the Pioneer Woman was not going to happen. I was in the middle of a train wreck, albeit a familiar trainwreck, at home and the thought of slogging through the rain with a crying preschooler during rush hour to Green Hills, which has the worst traffic this side of Atlanta, was more than I could take.

Yes I felt guilty and worried that Pioneer Woman would not get a good reception from the good people of Nashville due to the inclement weather, but I should not have fretted. I read a blog this morning that said she was there signing books until after midnight. She greets each person and actually talks to them -- she doesn't just sign their book and shove them on. So, Pioneer Woman is awesome and I missed her, but I think she'll understand. She's a mother of four after all, and sometimes being a mom means giving up what you want to do to do the things you should do -- like hold screaming preschoolers who are clinging to you like a spider monkey. Yep, it's a glamorous life I live her in the 'Ville.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lies, D@$% Lies, and 9-year-olds

I had planned to blog about our sweet little town's Christmas Tree Lighting the other night and include some anecdotes about me and my inability to estimate crowd size and how during our premarital counseling this led to a very interesting discussion with me, my husband and our pastor. Instead, I will now be discussing lies. Grrr...

I read a blogger the other day who said her tween daughter has turned into an habitual liar and she thinks this is normal behavior for tweens. As the mother of a 9-year-old who is starting to bend the truth like Bekham, I am dismayed. Really, it's going to get worse? GAH!

This week has been a bad week for lies. The other day my precious son who just a few years ago was toddling up to me to give me a kiss on my knee, came bounding in the door, looked me almost straight in the eye (I still have about 4 inches on him) showed me a picture and said, "Look what me and my friend drew." It was a picture of a person on a motorcycle. It looked to me as if it had been traced, but whatever. I think it rated an "Oh, that's nice" response from me. Then he started prattling on about how he only "drew" half of it, but it still counted because he and his friend did it together and isn't that great. "Yeah, okay, good." And in my head I'm thinking about dinner, and my van that was in the shop, and the Christmas Tree lighting we had to go to, and the friend's child who was at my house upstairs playing with my 3-year-old. But some synapse in the back of my brain was firing and thinking, "What's the deal with the picture?" I figured it had been "traced," so not technically "drawn" so that's why he was acting weird and moved on.

The rest of the night was a whirlwind of picking up my van, getting Sonic for dinner and running back out to the Tree Lighting. As we walk in the door with Sonic in our hands, my precious son looks at the picture that had been discarded on the table and bursts out with "I didn't really draw that!" What? What exactly are you talking about? The truth -- or something possibly resembling the truth -- comes out after many different versions to finally be that he found the picture discarded under a cafeteria table and then he took it and colored it. There was no drawing on his part, and since he found it on the floor, it was not done by his friend. It was only colored by him.

Okay, really? You really chose to lie about something that stupid and insignificant? I just can't wrap my brain around that. Did he think he'd get in trouble for picking someone else's trash up off the floor and keeping it? Did he think he needed to impress me by saying he had drawn it himself. He's a pretty good artist in his own right, and I am usually impressed by the work he does. I mean, I get lying to cover your assets -- we've all done that -- but lying about stupid crap makes me crazy. Is he lying because he's scared of getting in trouble? Is he lying to get attention? Is he lying because he thinks its fun, and he's going to end up in prison one day for his con-artist ways? Gah! I can't figure it out.

In our house lying in a capital offense -- okay, obviously I don't mean that literally, but it is a serious crime. If you fess up to something you've done without lying about it, more often than not you will not be punished. But lie to me or your daddy, and it will not be pretty. Our son is very aware of our views on lying. So why does he doe it? I asked him why he lied and he flipped out. He knew what was coming, and he started backpedalling and justifying as hard as he could. "It was just something stupid! Why does it even matter? It could have been my friend who drew it, you don't know who threw it away. It was only a half-lie, which shouldn't even count!" Just imagine a boy almost my size throwing him self on the ground crying and pitching a fit and you get the picture. It was ugly, but I stood my ground.

So why is lying such a big deal? Because as Christians, Jeff and I know that Satan is the father of all lies. And we cannot allow our children to become habitual liars. *Some of my liberal readers (you know who you are) just flipped out that I referred to Satan. Yes, I do believe in an actual Satan and an actual Hell, and I'm happy to talk to you about it at our next get together.*

So what's a mom to do? I mean after I threaten to beat him if he doesn't quit throwing a hissy fit over the punishment that hasn't even been decided on yet? Oh yeah, I make him look up and write five Bible verses about lying and actions. *Okay, now some of my Christian readers just flipped out that I am using copy work from the Bible as punishment.* I'll admit that the first time I heard this suggestion, I didn't like it. I thought, "It will make my kids hate the Bible if I use it as punishment." But then one night I was out of ideas for a MAJOR violation that had occurred, so I used it. And it worked. He was truly sorry for his actions. More contrite than I had every seen him. And really, the word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple," which means to teach, so what better tool to learn from than scripture. The Bible has lots to say about lying, which brings me to this...

I am a liar. Wow, that seems so harsh, written down on the page in black and white, as it were. But it's true. Readers, you can call it hyperbole (which I love to call it, because it is such a fun word and so apropos of me) or exaggeration or just plain stretching the truth, but I do it all the time. Now flat out to your face lying? I don't usually do that, probably because a.) it's wrong and b.) I stink at it. Can't lie to save my life. Look totally guilty and usually start giggling from nerves over the fact that I am LYING LIKE A DOG to somebody. But stretch the truth -- I do it all the time. "I've got a million things to do today... It must have been 110 degrees in there... I was too sick to get out of bed... Yes, Santa does deliver presents to little boys and girls all over the world in one night." Yep, I'm a liar. So how can I come down so hard on my son, if I'm guilty of the same sin? I don't know, maybe that's why I'm harder on him. But I know I can't just let it slide.

Tonight, it was a lie about homework. He said he'd studied his spelling. I told him to study some more (he forgot his homework twice this week, so I figured he could use the practice). He said he accidentally threw the list in the trash when he cleaned out his folder. Well, I knew he had cleaned out his folder before starting his homework, so obviously he hadn't studied. ARGH!!! Now, I didn't just have the lost spelling list to deal with (I made him dig through the trash to find it -- to no avail) I also had the lying to deal with. Didn't we just go through the lying thing two nights ago? So, more verses. This time instead of five verses, which was pretty light weight, I had him copy each of those five verses five times a piece exactly as they are written. (He tends to shorten and paraphrase.) It took a good 30-45 minutes, instead of the 10 it took the other day. I wanted him to realize that doing the homework he didn't want to do would have taken 10 minutes. Lying over doing the homework and having to suffer the consequences, 45 minutes. No comparison. Don't lie and life will be easier.

So maybe that will sink in a little more. Or maybe, if lying really does get worse as they get towards the teen years, maybe he'll just have a large chunk of the Bible memorized by the time he's 14. I guess there's always that...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is this thing on?

I started writing this little blog a few months ago just to stretch my writing muscles again and see if I rememberd how to turn a phrase. And over that time, I've collected a few loyal readers, probably 10 in all, and a few casual readers from Facebook and my small town. And out of the dozen or so who do read my blog, I'm probably related to a quarter of you. I am not complaining -- just the opposite. I am thankful that anyone reads my blog. I haven't done any of those things that "they" tell you to do to get my blog noticed. I've been pretty happy to just exist over here in my little corner and hear from a few of my Facebook friends every now and then about how much they loved my last post.

When I hear that someone likes a post of mine, it is exhilarating. Of course it's also terrifying, because when I am writing I don't always remember that this is not a "private" blog and that really anybody in the world who knew how to find it could read it. When my hubby's grandmother commented the other day, I did a double take. My first thought, was "Oh my word, I hope I didn't write anything inappropriate." My second thought was, "Wow! I can't believe 'Granny B' reads my blog."

My own parents do not read my blog, much less my grandfather. My father uses e-mail and checks out the latest trends in golf equipment on the internet, but he's not really one to read a blog. And my mother, well, she won't even turn a computer on, much less get on it to read a blog. She feels her life is complete without a computer. I know, that's crazy, right? I can't imagine life without one, but to each his own. She's assured me that if I were to print it out and send it to her via the U.S. Post Office, she would read it. And I've assured her that won't be happening while I have three children at home, and we're both okay with that. Maybe I should just e-mail it to Daddy and make him print it out and have her read it. But then I would have to stop talking about my mother, and that wouldn't be fun at all. Just kidding. Well, sort of.

So, my hubby, a few cousins, some friends from Facebook and residents of the 'Ville read it, but that's about it. But yesterday, I am pretty sure I got my first honest-to-goodness comment from a random stranger here at the Creek. It is embarrassing to know how excited I got. Really. I mean, I know that I have readers because you tell me you read me when we are at places like Halloween parties, but not a lot of you comment. That's okay dear beloved readers, I am not trying to guilt you into commenting on my blog. No. Really. I'm not. It's just that The Pioneer Woman gets oh, I don't know, 1,500 comments on her blog daily, so I'm feeling a little insecure.

Now I realize that comparing myself to the "Queen of Blogging" is probably not an accurate yardstick, or healthy, or any of those things, but for those of you who've been reading me for more than five minutes, you know that I enjoy making myself a little crazy.

Have you read the Pioneer Woman's blog? You should. She is awesome. She makes me want to chuck it all and go live on a ranch with my four children and cowboy husband and homeschool and take never-ending pictures of cows and cowboys on horses, all while I am riding a horse. Oh, what's that you say? I don't have a cowboy husband and I only have three children, and I like having pizza delivered to my house (since I couldn't get it delivered the first 18 years of my life), and I love Tennessee and never want to live anywhere else, and besides, I tend to fall off horses, just ask my cousins Lisa & Jessica? Oh yeah? Well, you've obviously never read the Pioneer Woman.

So, I know I don't have the power to make you want to move to another part of the country and take up ranching, but apparently I do have the power to make at least one person surf in from the blogosphere and like my blog enough to comment on it. And today, that's enough for me. I may not get 1,500 comments on my post about my dog, but by golly Stephanie from Momma's Soapbox, found me somehow, read me and made a comment that said she liked me, she really liked me. Well, not in so many words, but I know how to interpret these things. Keep reading and posting, loyal readers, keep reading and posting (and you could always tell your friends, too.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Failing with Aplomb -- Apparently it's just part of my personality.

Dear readers, I know it's cliched and reeks of martyrish? martyresque? martyrdom? (you know what I mean) behavior and all that, but sometimes I do wonder why I even try. Yes, I know this is the mantra of many a mother out there, but seriously I just need to expect failure in certain areas.

Remember those personality tests I've been taking? Well, one of the things I've learned is that in addition to my lovely traits such as being bubbly, charismatic, outgoing, compassionate, easygoing, persuasive (shall I go on?), I can also be disorganized, easily distracted, self-indulgent, undisciplined, lacking in follow through and undependable meeting deadlines (Enough already! My ego cannot take it.)

Actually, it's a big fat lie to say I've just figured this out about myself. The fact is, I've known it for years. Maybe I'm just now old enough to embrace all the parts of my personality, work with who I am and what I want to be, and not sign up for things that aren't a good fit for me, like say, anything having to do with details or organization. Okay, I'm good with being the big picture person who comes up with the creative ideas that I need others to implement. We all play our roles.

But, what does one do when she's the mother of three and is responsible for eleventy-hundred* details in her children's lives, but she has issues with disorganization and follow through? She tries, dear readers, she really does, but as you can imagine, she fails quite often and sometimes quite spectacularly. Like, say, when the school has a Veteran's Day program that requires her child to wear particular articles of clothing.

A month ago the kind music teachers at our school let us know there would be a Veteran's Day program at school this year. Now, unlike many areas of the country, Veteran's Day is a big deal in our little town. There is a parade, there is a breakfast honoring our Vets, there is a program at school. That's how we roll here in the 'Ville, and we love it. Two years ago the Veteran's Day program from our school was held at a mega church in the town next to us and our sweet little elementary-aged cherubs sang with that church's symphony, and there were pictures of all the Vets that the children were related to on-screen, along with their branch of service and what war they fought in. There was even a picture of a British soldier who is related to a family at our school, and we all thought it was wonderful. Yes, we even recognize our Allies on Veteran's Day here in the 'Ville. And let me tell you, that night there was not a dry eye in the house. Not one!

So, this year's program was not quite that elaborate (I'm pretty sure the music teacher can only do that once every 5 years or so, because it was a production!), but it was still important nonetheless. A month before the program we were told that our patriotic children had to wear navy pants and either a white or red shirt. Nothing fancy. In this economy, they didn't want any one worrying about having to buy extra special clothes, just basic solids from your drawer.

Well, since my 9-year-old has grown more than three inches since the summer, he did not have any navy pants that fit, so it was off to the store for me. I didn't mind at all. He needed some new church pants. Now, you've got to realize that going to the store ONE WHOLE MONTH EARLY, is amazing, unbelievable, absolutely fantastic for me. I do not shop a month early for things such as this. I usually go out the night before and run all over town crying tears of panic, because I can't find pants in the right size. That's how I roll. But alas, dear readers, I have determined to add "margin" to my life to help tamp the crazies down just a little, because there is no reason for me to be crazy if I just plan ahead -- or so I tell myself.

So, off to the Target to buy pants. Precious son tries them on and for some reason these size 10 pants are 4 inches too long on my gangly son who is only about 4 or 5 inches shorter than me. Wow, wasn't expecting that. Guess I have to take those back. But I hate taking stuff back to Target since they've become the receipt Nazis, and they try to guilt me into using a credit card to purchase things, so they can keep up with my receipts (since I can't), when I much prefer using my cash envelopes, thank you very much. So, two weeks later (still two weeks ahead of the game) I take them back and buy a pair of 8s. They look like big 8s, so I think they will fit. A week or so later, I remember to try them on my son. As I am sliding on pants that now look overly big, I spot the H next to the size 8. Yep, I bought the size 8 husky pants. Crap, I say (or something like that), I have to go back to Target and return something AGAIN! Oh well, I can do it.

I remember to take back pants the day before the dress rehearsal and exchange them for regular 8s. I just know these will fit, right? I mean, the 10s were 4 inches too long, surely the 8s will be just right. I remember to try them on my precious first born that night after he got home from Scouts. Too small. As in, he would have gone all day without using the bathroom, so he wouldn't have had to button them again small. But, God bless my boy, he was thrilled to have them. They were, after all, the blue pants he had to wear to school for the dress rehearsal the next day.

It is now 8:30 at night, my husband is out of town, and my son's pants, the pants he has to wear the next day, do not fit. Yes, he could have squeezed into them for two days, but then he would have never worn them again, and I'm not throwing $15 bucks down the drain! So what do I do? Go to good ol' Facebook wherein a flurry of messages begins with my school mom friends, and I find out that very dark jeans are acceptable. SCORE!!!

Next morning I tell my son to wear his dark jeans and red shirt, wherein he has a meltdown. Complete and total. He is slightly hysterical in telling me that Mrs. H said "No jeans!" So I tell him that I will go the Wal Marts just up the road and find him a pair that fits and will bring it to him at school before the program. "NO!" he screams, and tells me he is not allowed to change his pants, only his shirt at school. So, being the awesome mom that I am who handles fits such as these in a mature and loving manner, I tell him he can wear his dark jeans or no pants to school. It is totally up to him. I'm sure you're surprised to hear he wore the jeans.

So, true to my word, I run out to the Wal Marts and find a pair that really look like they will fit. My Mom and Dad get to town, and Mom and I go to the program while Dad keeps Little Bit at home. I take the pants. My Mom, being the awesome "I" personality like me says, "Don't worry about it. He's fine now. It'll be too much hassle." Seeing half of the other kids wearing track pants and green t-shirts to the dress rehearsal, I agree. This, I will find out later, was a mistake.

After the performance I go see him and tell him how proud I am and what an awesome job he did and maybe -- just maybe -- he should sing when he is up on stage doing his synchronized flag waving routine with the blue plates, and we all go home happy.

Now, my Mom and Dad have come into town because I cannot go to the actual program Thursday night. When I say "can't go" what I actually mean is "don't want to go." You see, there is this awesome thing called Christmas Village going on, and I am part of the group that puts it on. For the last 13 years, I have volunteered at the show and have even served on the board pre-children. I get a free ticket to Sneak-A-Peek every year, which is the pre-show where they sell wine and lovely ladies shop and there are no strollers or crying babies or people I want to put the smack-down on because they've snatched up the last of whatever I was just looking at.

Sneak-A-Peek is one of my favorite events of the year. And when the school sent out an e-mail concerned about fitting everyone into our tiny gym for the performance, and added a performance, and split people up into alphabetical order to decide when they could see said performance, and even asked parents to come during the day to dress rehearsal instead of the performance if they could, I figured I was golden. Mom and I would go to the rehearsal, dad would take son to performance while mom babysat girls, and I would go shopping. Fool-proof plan, right? Not exactly.

I ran around yesterday afternoon getting ready. I washed red shirt and new navy pants (which fit) and got them ready for the performance. I even got the basketball outfit ready for his practice that was after the performance. I ordered pizza for my precious angel son to eat an hour and 15 minutes before the performance, and I got ready to leave. I told precious angel son that his clothes were on his bed, ready and waiting. I said this to him while he and my father were watching the Golf Channel. I made precious angel son look at me and respond that, yes ma'am, he understood that his performance clothes and basketball clothes were on the bed ready and waiting for him when he needed them. I gave my mom, who was downstairs, directions for my girls and then headed off to get Amy to go shopping.

It was awesome, it was blissful, it was all that was good about Sneak-A-Peek. Amy drank wine and handled me talking to every other person in the crowd with grace. She just left me to go shop, and then I called her to find her. It worked really well. We should do it again next year, Amy.

So, I return home triumphant from my shopping excursion at almost 11. My mom tells me that my son didn't go to basketball practice after the performance because he was tired, and I could care less. Don't blame him. Didn't really expect him to, but I got him prepared anyway, because I am an awesome mom. I ask my mother if dad liked the performance and if he could see him. I was a little worried he wouldn't be able to see his grandson in the sea of faces, because I had forgotten to tell him where said grandson was going to be standing. Mom said that Daddy had no trouble at all seeing him, because he said, "He was the only one in a blue shirt."

What? Wait. What was that? I thought you said blue shirt. (Internal dialogue: "Don't panic and don't yell at your mother, because you have a tendency to yell at your mother, and it's not what nice grown-up, 36-year-old women should do to the mother they really adore.) That can't be right, because he had to wear a red shirt, remember? I put his long-sleeved RED shirt and navy pants out on the bed for him. Mom gets that completely innocent and puzzled look on her face and says, "Well, you know, I wondered if that was what he was supposed to wear."

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! I scamper up to my son's room and the performance outfit was still right there on his bed undisturbed, and the blue graphic ringer t-shirt he wore to school that has some sort of gas station-type logo on it is crumpled on the floor. Yes, my son wore a graphic t-shirt to the Veteran's Day program at school where everyone I know saw him, seeing as how he stands head and shoulders above the rest of his classmates, and you apparently couldn't miss him BECAUSE HE HAD A BLUE SHIRT ON. My mom did say he remembered his patriotic scarf and had it wrapped around his neck, so it sort of hid the logo. Well, I guess I should be thankful for small favors. All I can say is, "Epic Failure."

Now, I realize dear readers, that wearing the wrong thing to a school program is not, in the grand scheme of things, a big deal. It's just that this is so classic for me and my family it is painful. My son is walking through life with his head so far up in the clouds that I'm surprised he remembers to eat. He is an awesome kid, and I love every inch of him, but he is so much like me it makes me a little crazy. And please don't get me started on the mother I love who would help me kill anyone who hurt my children and hide the bodies. All I can say is I didn't fall far from her "oblivious to details" tree. When she saw the other kids at dress rehearsal in inappropriate clothing, she assumed the blue shirt he had on was fine. And my Daddy, who I love and adore, is not one to notice things like clothes, unless of course you are wearing something showing too much skin or that makes you look hideous, and then he is the first to comment. Needless to say, it was the perfect storm for not getting to the program with the right clothes on. And yes, I totally blame myself. I should have put them on him myself before leaving, but I didn't want pizza sauce all over them.

So that's why, dear readers, I give up. I'm just not worrying about things like dress codes and appropriate attire anymore, because obviously it is an exercise in futility, and I just refuse to beat my head against that brick wall anymore. And next year I'm making Amy drive to Sneak-A-Peek, so I can drink lots of wine so that when I get home to my next failure, it won't matter quite as much. By the way, my friend Lori reminded me on Facebook that only the 3rd-5th grade parents were there, so technically the whole school did not see my epic failure last night. Again, thank goodness for small favors.

* Eleventy-hundred is a real number and it means a whole lot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sanguine with a Side of Crazy

I just spent the last two and a half hours filling out my PLACE questionnaire. What is a PLACE questionnaire, you say? Let me tell you. It's one of those tests that is supposed to tell you what your personality is, what your spiritual gifts are, what your passions are and where exactly you should be involved in ministry. Those are all the things it is supposed to tell me. What it in fact told me is that my special brand of mental illness is as alive and well as I thought it was.

Is is just me, or are the tests really, really hard. I mean, the test at the eye doctor is bad enough. Bless Dr. Katsaitis' heart, she asks a simple question, "Is your vision better with one or two?" And I remain silent while she flips back and forth calmly saying, one or two. I tell her that I can't pass this test, and she laughs at me, because I AM CRAZY, and assures me in her delightful Greek accent that there is no way to fail this test, because there is no wrong answer. But dear reader, you and I both know that there is a wrong answer and when I pick it I will spend the next year with a prescription that is just off enough to make me squint at anything not one foot from my face.

She goes through this routine every year and just calmly flips back and forth until I sort of squint and guess, and we finally narrow it down to a pair of contacts I can drive in, but will still spend the next year giving myself more wrinkles from all the squinting. At my last appointment I told her that I thought I must have diabetes or a brain tumour, because I just can't freaking see without squinting. Needless to say, she took extra time with me and figured out that I have such a mild case of astigmatism that she can't correct it without over correcting it, because that would be worse than me squinting. Yay for me! My vision stinks, but at least I am not crazy and don't have a brain tumor -- that I know of.

So, dear readers, if you think I get crazy over, "one or two," imagine how crazy I get over personality tests. I hate them. I can never answer them correctly. I know there is a right answer for me, but for the life of me I can't figure it out. I so over think these things it is not even funny. When it asks me to pick the answer that is most typical for me, that makes me want to break out in hysterical cackles. Typical for me? Those words don't really go together. I read the question and remember my reaction to said question in third grade, high school, college, when I was working, when I had my first baby, and then last week when we all had the flu, and I just can't figure out what typical for me is. Honestly, these tests make me want to let somebody saw off the top of my head, root around in there to find the "right" answer and pull it out. That seems like it would be easier and less painful.

I also tend to take these tests knowing what other people think about me. I know most people think I am this big extrovert that loves people and flourishes around large groups, but there are secretly times that I do not want to be around people, and all I want to do is lay on my couch and watch TV or knit or eat candy and not have to talk to anyone (especially anyone under 18) for about three days. So, how exactly am I supposed to answer that question about "loves being the center of attention"? Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. And the older I get, the more I am starting not to like people. Is there a question on there about becoming my mother? Because, dear reader, I know exactly how to answer that one!

Okay, and just to add insult to injury, it's not just difficult for me because I can't figure out how to answer. It's also difficult, because I know exactly where my weaknesses are and it points them all out with a flashing, fluorescent arrow. My personal favorite was this one, "In your life, do you: a.) not follow-through and have problems with over committing, b.) are organized and are perfect, c.) are methodical and are perfect, or d.) are unorganized and lack discipline?" Oh dear readers, this one made me laugh out loud. How do you decide if your "suckage" areas are more in the A category or D category *Okay, maybe B and C weren't worded exactly that way, but you know what they meant. You are either A.) organized, detail-oriented and good or B.) unorganized, slothful and bad.

So, what did I do? Called my husband, who's working in a plant in Missouri, to say, "Hey honey, which do I suck at more, not following through and over committing, or being unorganized and undisciplined." To which he laughed and answered, "yes." *Don't worry, I wasn't offended. I really called him so I could laugh, because I knew what the answer would be, because it is true, a little ego bruising, but no less true.

Moving right along, we now get into the spiritual gifts assessment. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is an assessment a Christian can do to figure out what spiritual gifts you've received through the Holy Spirit. I'm actually excited about this part. I've never formally done a study on this, so I'm curious to find out what my gifts are and how that translates into my life. And no fears, says the questionnaire, no one has all the gifts and everyone has some of the gifts. It also reinforces the idea that no one gift is better than the others. There is a passage in 1 Corinthians 12 that talks about gifts and relates them to body parts. I like this part, "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor." This passage tamps down my special brand of crazy just a little bit. When you are poor at follow-through, organization and discipline, it's nice to know that you are still needed.

So, these questions were based on a 5 point scale, and it warned to try to avoid answer 3 (sometimes) which we all know is the cop-out answer. I ended up with five of them at about the same score, and I'm just not sure I answered right. One of my gifts is prophecy. Who knew? Not me. I guess I'll figure out exactly what that means tomorrow. I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean that I will be seeing any burning bushes in the dessert or get thrown into a lion's den. Please don't misunderstand -- I am not mocking here. I'm just curious about it, because I surely don't feel like a prophet.

In fact, these tests make me feel so insecure and inadequate that I want to go bury my head under my pillow and not do anything, because I realize I stink at so much! But, I really, really, tried to answer honestly. Some where easy to answer honestly. Take for instance this one: "If your church needs someone to host members of a youth group traveling through the area, do you volunteer first?" This I can answer without hesitation, "No, never!" Yes, I can make people feel welcome who visit church with a handshake and smile, but I know I do not have the gift of hospitality, because that would require people spending the night, which would require me cleaning my house and cooking, and dear readers, do we really need to discuss all that again?

There were more questions that were easy to answer, such as "Do you enjoy working with numbers or data and turning into manageable whatever, shmermer, shmermer..." I didn't even read the rest of those questions and gleefully answered, "never," delighting in the fact that I know God did not give me those particular gifts.

No, the hard questions were ones about helping other people, needy people. Sometimes I feel like helping, and sometimes I don't. I think it really depends on my mood and who they are, but that seems harsh to me and not very Christian at all. And it certainly doesn't seem like the answer a little girl raised to be a Southern lady would think, but that's the honest truth. Sometimes I don't want to deal with needy people. Okay, ouch, I figured that one out.

I also figured out that I don't like to do menial tasks, and I don't like to work without getting credit. Wow, I was being painfully honest, because it sounds like what I found out about myself was this, "Look at me, yeah, me over here! I'll help out with your ministry if I can get a little credit and feel good about myself." Yep, apparently that's the bad part of me. I'll let you know what I find out tomorrow and next week about the good part -- especially if it makes me sound better than the narcissistic, selfish person I sound like right now. Well, at least I should get some points for being honest.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Shut the Front Door, and Other Expletives

We were watching "Castle" on TV the other night. If you haven't seen it, it's about a male crime writer who shadows a female detective for inspiration on a new series of crime novels he is writing. It could be boring or predictable, but we think it's pretty funny -- corny, but clever and funny. The best part about it? It's not missing a moral compass, which is more than I can say for a lot of shows these days.

Anyway, Beckett, the woman detective, hears something that surprises her, and she says, "Shut the Front Door." Now, while her lips were forming the words "front door" my eyes boggled out of my head and all I could think of was, "I can't believe she is going to say the 'F' word during prime time TV on ABC." I was so relieved when she said, "Shut the Front Door" that I laughed out loud, and it has now become one of my favorite expressions. It's fun to say, and it is SO not offensive, which is more than I can say for a lot of things I have heard and read lately.

I'm not saying I am a prude when it comes to language. Some would even say I have a mild case of the potty mouth. I have been known to say bad things when large objects are dropped onto my smallish toes, or to let a bad word slip when I am angry/stressed/in a hurry/feel like it *cough.* And I've even been known to use a very bad word after a couple of drinks when talking with girlfriends about something that perturbed me to the extreme. *Those of you who were there, shut it! Yes, I know I have changed your view of me forever, and for that I apologize. But it was bound to happen sooner or later. I am not perfect and not really all that prim and proper, although I know at least one of you thought I was.*

My point is that in most cases and in most places, I can be trusted to use pretty good language -- including very good grammar, if I do say so myself. Or if I do slip, it's not going to be something you find offensive in the extreme. I think there is a time and place for everything and that includes language. I've already told you how I feel about using offensive language in writing, some times it's necessary. Yes, even on this blog it might be necessary to use a word that some find offensive from time to time, although I would give fair warning for anyone who might be offended.

However, I can't say the same for some of the other blogs I have been reading lately. I was clicking through reading some blogs last night that were linked to some of my favorite writers, and I found one that was intriguing. It was about raising children, imagine that. While scrolling along reading her latest post, out of nowhere comes the "F" word. Really? I thought. Was that necessary or appropriate? Hmmm, maybe she was having a bad day. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Then I read a few more posts down the page and there it was again. Wow, I'm thinking, you needed to use the "F" word to describe your child's sports practice? But I think the kicker was the fact that she had compared her child to a completely benign inanimate object early in the post and was afraid her readers would judge her for that. I just kept wondering, who are the readers who are offended that you compared your sick child to something like a rock, but aren't offended by the liberal use of the "F" word.

Okay, I get the fact that a lot of bloggers are concerned about honesty. They want you to know they are just "keepin' it real." They want you to see their real lives and not some Stepford version of it. I get that. I really do. I don't want to write about sunshine and puppies and rainbows all the time, either. I think that would be dishonest. I write about my life, which includes the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the spirit of honesty, I am not afraid to tell you that I am a yeller, and I have often yelled at my precious children, especially during that particularly bad week of the month. I have a temper, and I don't like that about myself. Not. One. Bit. So, I am doing something about it. I am praying every day, studying scripture, holding myself accountable with my Bible study friends, and trying desperately with the help of God not to be the mom that yells all the time, forever and ever, AMEN! I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, so if my telling you that I lose it and yell at my kids can help you realize you aren't the only one and that spurs you on to do something about, then I don't mind being honest. But dropping the "F" bomb liberally throughout my blog, or worse, saying GD this or GD that just to try to make a point, well I don't think that's being honest. I just think that is offensive. So, if that's you "just keepin' it real," I'd rather not read you. Thanks.

Okay, so maybe I should rethink the whole me not "being prim and proper" thing. Maybe I am more of my mother than I realize. Now there's a woman who takes offense to bad language! But, that's a post for another day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Dream of Being a Writer

Okay, so this isn't some blog post about me waxing nostalgic over the fact that I've wanted to be a writer since I was a wee little girl growing up in Sulphur Springs, Tennessee. No, it's much more literal than that.

Last night I dreamed that I was watching a movie, but that I was actually in the movie, too. You know how that works in dreams, right? Anyway, I remember thinking, "Oh, this must be the new Twilight movie, but why is there no Edward or Bella or Jacob?" Then I realized that House from t.v was in the movie with me and he wasn't limping. Hmmm? And then we were being chased through a parking garage that turned into an old building that a church was using. So naturally House and I decided to hide in a classroom where a little old lady was teaching Sunday School. But she was just pretending; she was being chased, too. It was all very exciting *you can tell, can't you?* and the story was exciting and moving along at a breakneck pace and that's when I realized, this was no Twilight. This was not a book that had been turned into a movie, this was my story. This was my book that I was waiting to write and since I already knew the story, all I had to do was write it down. And then I remember thinking that my story was going to be so big it would be the next "Twilight" and that I was going o be as famous as Stephenie Meyer. And then I actually worried about whether or not I wanted to be famous in my dream.

Then I woke up and laughed and laughed. It was funny on so many levels. I literally had a dream that I would write a book that would be as popular as Twilight. Well, you know what they say about dreaming big. *For those of you who have missed out on the sensation that is the Twilight series, that is akin to saying I was going to be as popular as Stephen King or JK Rowling or fill in the blank with your choice of filthy rich and famous authors.*

So, the part about being a rich and famous author was ludicrous. I really do not want to be famous. I think it's overrated, and I would worry about stalkers trying to get my children, because I like to have totally random things to worry about when I run out of real things to worry about. But it's the exhilarating part about writing a book that I am trying to hold on to. I may have mentioned on here that I started toying with writing a book this summer. I love the opening three pages, which I think are really good, but I don't know where to go from here. To be honest, I'm scared. Scared that I can't tell a story from start to finish. Or, at least that I can't tell a "good" story from start to finish. What if I fail? What if I can't finish it? Or worse, what if I finish it and it's embarrassing and no one will be honest and tell me, but having read it they think my writing is pathetic. *Again, I like to have random things to worry about.*

If I hadn't mentioned it before, I am a perfectionist who manifests as a procrastinator. If I can't do something perfect, I don't bother to do it at all. Or, I wait until the very last second to do it, so if it isn't perfect, I can always tell myself that if I'd only started sooneer I would have done much better. Yes, I know this is my special brand of mental illness at its best, but I just can't seem to stop it. I've done this my entire life.

But writing is one of those things that has always come easy to me. I used to start an English paper at one or two in the morning, pull an all-nighter, and turn it in literally hot off the wordprocessor at 8 am and still get an A or at least a B+. But I am tired of my special brand of crazy. I want to be a normal writer person who writes every day whether it's good or bad and then after working hard and struggling through, has something to go back and edit. And then after more blood, sweat and tears in the editing department, she finally produces something worth reading. But I can't seem to get past the "I'm so scared of failing part" to get to the "put my seat in the chair and not get up until I've written something part." So I think maybe my dream was telling me that way down deep in my writer soul I do have a story worth writing and that all I need to do is let go and write it. *Although I am really hoping that the actual book has no chased into the Sunday School room scene in it.*

So here I go again, trying to get psyched up to write something worth reading. And then what do I do instead of writing on my book? I tell you guys about it. Hey, I've got to start somewhere, right? And don't worry, one day when I'm as popular as Stephenie Meyer I'll remember my first dearest readers. *Oh, excuse me. I think I just nodded off again.*

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gone, but (apparently) not forgotten!

For those of you following my blog, you may have noticed I've been quiet lately. Very quiet. As in, I haven't posted in about a month and a half. "What's that all about?" you may be asking yourself. One of you was even sweet enough to call me and ask. (Sorry I haven't gotten back to you yet. I just got home last night.)

Why am I not writing? Lots of reasons I guess. I've thought of a few blog post ideas over the last few weeks and thought about sitting down to write them, but just haven't had the time? energy? enthusiasm for it? Not sure, really. I think I've just been busy. And tired. And not really in the mood.

Remember when I told you my house wants a divorce? Well, I decided that unless I want my husband to want a divorce too, maybe I better actually start doing something about it. So, I've been trying to work more diligently on the house. I like the results, but I'm not so crazy about the effort it takes -- just keeping it real over here at the creek. But honestly, I can't say that's the main reason for not writing.

I've also started a new Bible study this fall. I haven't done a daytime Bible study since Larsen was six months old, and I feel my life and family have suffered because of it. I'm not the greatest at keeping up with the work, but it does change my mindset, which is good for everyone around me. What does that have to do with writing? Well, nothing really. It's just one more thing on my plate.

I've also been 'working' on some things I don't really like about my personality and I've found that I'm just the tinsiest bit selfish. *I hear your loud protesting, but really, it's okay. The truth hurts sometimes.* Basically I've found my attitude at times to be the same as my children's, "I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it." And sadly, when you're a grownup and have three children, a husband and other responsibilities, this is not a life plan that will work. Shocking, isn't it? So, I'm trying to work on that too, which means I can't always do what I want to do when I want to do it, i.e. blogging.

And I'm also just the tinsiest bit tired. I hate to even write that -- it sounds like such a cop-out -- but have mercy! My life just makes me tired. I don't manage my time effectively, so I stay up too late to try to accomplish too many things and then I'm tired the next day, which makes me cranky and running behind, so I don't get the things done that I need to get done, bah! It's a never ending cycle. If I could just get my backside in the bed before 10 pm, maybe I could get my life together. Why does this feel like such a pipe dream?

So judging from my blathering on, today was probably not the day to write this, because really my life is very good, just busy. And I think I'm just feeling a little blah today. I've been sick and have had sick kids since Sunday. It's also my firstborn's birthday and I think that's making me feel a little blah, too. You know "they" say that boys start separating from their mothers around age 10, and even though it's a necessary process for them to start associating more with dad than mom, it's "painful for mom." I think my now 9-year-old may be starting the separation process a little soon. He was sweet and pitiful while he was sick, so now I guess he feels the need to show me his tough side. Not sure I'm liking that so much.

So, yeah. I've been busy and tired and sick, and sick and tired, so I haven't been writing. And yeah, maybe today wasn't the day to climb back up on that particular horse, but I've got to start somewhere, right? And really, I didn't want Jenn thinking I'd suffered a horrible fate. To those of you who missed me, thanks. I'm sure you don't anymore. *grin*

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Count Your Blessings...

Name them one by one," (all together now) "Count your many blessings see what God has done." For those of you not raised in the old-school Southern Baptist tradition, you probably have no idea what I was singing. For those of you who were, you can thank me for putting that brain worm into your head later.

Even if you've never heard the song, you know the message. In this life we all have troubles, but we also all have blessings. I spent yesterday at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital with my six-year-old daughter who had to have surgery. So today, dear readers, today I am counting my blessings.

My daughter has come to an age where I feel like I should no longer freely share her medical issues with every person I meet. If you've known me for any length of time, however, you probably know all about them. But since they are a little embarrassing for her, I feel like I should no longer tell all her business. Suffice it to say, we were there for a minor procedure to try and help with a "quality of life" issue for her.

She has had several procedures at Vanderbilt through the years, and if I know anything at all, I know this: there is always someone who has a problem bigger than yours, ALWAYS. One of her doctors shares a waiting room with the Neurology Department. If you are ever having a bad day, dear reader, I suggest you head on over to the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital Neurology Department waiting room. It will humble you. It will make you ashamed of complaining about your problems. It will make you thankful for the problems you have if that means you don't have to have those other BIG, LIFE-ALTERING problems.

Yesterday her procedure lasted for about 45 minutes, so of course we were there for six hours counting pre-op, post-op and simply waiting our turn through the cases that had gotten backlogged. When I saw her surgeon before her case, I could tell he was a little weary. He said that he had just gotten in the night before from doing several days of surgery in Guatemala with a medical missions group. He had not fully recovered, yet. Oh he was in fine condition to do her surgery, I just mean he was still shell-shocked from being home. I could tell he was still counting all of our collective blessings and that he was thankful for the facility, equipment, medicine, and staff he had to work with -- so was I.

He told me that he did surgery 14 hours a day for four days and there were will still hundreds of patients waiting. He figures there are 11 surgeons in Nashville who can handle pediatric urology cases for a population that is around one million. (This includes adults and children, not just children, but since Vanderbilt has a larger scope than just Nashville, we'll call it a million.) The entire country of Guatemala has (I believe he said) 14 million, seven million of whom are children. And I'm pretty sure he said there are 16 surgeons for those seven million children.

This is not the venue to debate socialized medicine, but I will tell you, dear readers, it scares me to death. I am sure that my daughter would not be able to have a surgery in July and then another one in September if we lived in a country with socialized medicine. I know that medical costs are astronomical for those who do not have good insurance, and I do know that many things about our system need fixing. I know for a fact we spent $5,000 on one test this year for our daughter that was a CYA test. There was probably about a one percent chance she had an issue with her spine, but her surgeon had to order the test. If he hadn't have ordered the test, and ten years later we figured out she did fall into that one percent, we could have sued him. This is madness and it needs to be fixed. But, my prayer is that we do not scrap the good things about our system -- the excellent surgeons and hospitals like those at Vanderbilt -- while we try to fix what is broken. 'Nuf said.

I have a deep respect and fondness for my daughter's surgeon. He has been an excellent doctor for her and is a good man. I truly feel that God has guided his hands while he has operated on her. And the fact that he was doing medical missions does not surprise me. Although my daughter's case is not what I would call complex, there is no easy fix. She is missing some muscle in her body due to a birth defect, and her surgeon, not being God, cannot make muscle. So, he's doing what he can to help fill in the gaps. This is the second time he has done this procedure, but this time he did something a little different to see if it would work better. Today I am finding the results are not great. Last time we saw very good results in the days after the procedure, but after about two weeks, things went back to the way they were before. So maybe this time the results will be mediocre in the short term, but remain steady. That would be progress.

So part of me wants to cry and wants to yell and wants to rail against the fact that six years later we are still dealing with this same issue. The other part of me remembers the mom who was in the waiting room with me waiting for her 17-month-old baby to come out of a one-hour surgery, five hours later. We had a language barrier, but I caught the gist of what she was there for. A week ago her daughter had had an organ transplant from her brother. At first I thought it was the kidney, but now I think it may be the liver? It wasn't working yet, but the doctor said he was giving it a little more time. The night before, a line (I'm guessing to put medicine in) had broken inside her daughter and she was supposed to be in surgery for one hour to fix it. Five hours later, her mother was still waiting. I saw her after I had gotten Langley out of post-operative care. She was crying and distraught and going into the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where the sickest of children are brought. I knew that we couldn't communicate well enough to ask her what was wrong, so I just told her that I would pray for her and her precious Amelia, and thankfully she understood.

So yeah, Langley's procedure may not have worked as well as I'd hoped. And yes as the Psalmist says, I will continue to "wait on the Lord." But I am waiting on a quality of life issue -- not a life-or-death issue -- of that I am well aware. So yeah, today I'm content to wait. And while I wait, you can find me over here counting my blessings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Signings and S*E*X

Warning: The S*E*X word will be used and briefly talked about in this post. Not in graphic or personal detail, dear readers, but if you are squeamish, look away. You have been forewarned!

So most nights are pretty routine. I cook (or fix) something for dinner, make sure my son does his homework no matter how much he gripes, and run around like a headless chicken trying to get to my three children to football/cheerleading/Cub Scouts/Girl Scouts/fill in the blank with any number of activity choices.

But last night, dear readers, I actually got to feel like a real 'literary' adult. I went to a book signing with one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. I've been reading her now for a little over 13 years. I'm pretty sure I found out about her the summer I got married and devoured two or three of her five pound books shortly there after. In fact, I remember waiting for eight hours for the movers to show up while I was reading one the books in her Outlander series. Although irritated at their not showing, I was not in the least upset about getting to read all day long! And as luck would have it, a month or two after we moved to Nashville I found out she was coming to Green Hills to do a book signing. Since I didn't have children to worry about and had a husband who worked late quite a bit, I was there early and got a seat up towards the front on a lovely wooden bench. She spoke and did a reading and I just loved her in a very, "oh, she's a great storyteller, and wow isn't she so interesting, and oh my, she's a published author and oh so famous" sort of way.

Contrast this to last night. I had to cook dinner before 5:00, when I had to pick up my son from performing arts club, then get all three of them back home, fed and properly attired for football/cheerleading practice at 6:00. My husband, who is working on a project north of town, had to slog through rush hour traffic to try to get home in time for said practice and for me to make it to Green Hills by 6:30. This was the plan, but as I'm sure you all can guess, it wasn't quite executed. I got my kids ready, but not myself. My hubby got home about 5 minutes after 6:00 (when they were supposed to be at practice), and I still didn't have my books rounded up for her to sign. I made it out of the house at 6:13, only to have to return at 6:16 to get my camera. Needless to say, I showed up about 10 minutes before she spoke at 7:00 and got a really crappy seat in the back.

Just to set the stage, this woman has a cult-like following now. It wasn't no 1996, that's for sure. People came out of the woodwork (some of them came out of some very strange woodwork) to see her. I sat in front of a woman who had brought her six-year-old son with her. I found this mildly interesting at the time because Diana is far from a children's author. In fact, she is the opposite of a children's author. If you have not read her, dear readers, she has what one might call "a gift" for sex scenes. I'm not saying they are graphic, but they are, hmmm, how shall I put it? Vivid, descriptive, erotic? Yep, that about sums it up. Anyway, when I saw her back in '96, she told us that husbands of her readers fall into two camps, a.) they hate her because their wife gets a new book and disappears for a week to read all leventy-hundred pages of it and ignores him, or b.) they love her because they never get as much sex as when their wife is reading her books.

Needless to say, a children's author she is not. So, she talked for about 20 minutes, telling us how she wrote her first "practice" book (which is Outlander) that was not going to be read by anyone when she was 35 and was working two jobs and had three kids under six. *Okay, now I feel like a slug, and I can never use the "I have small children at home" excuse again.* And then she answered our questions. I asked her what time of day she wrote since she did have three small children, and she was just lovely and very encouraging to me and I felt so special until some crazy lady interupted her to ask another question while she was still answering mine, rude! And then she began her reading.

Well, I knew as soon as Claire (the main character) saw Jamie (her husband, the other main character) taking his spring bath in a creek and she followed him up a path in the mountains what was, er, coming AND I WANTED TO DIE!!! In my brain I am scream whispering the whole time, "She is not reading a sex scene. She is not. She can't be. We're in a book store. In public. IN THE SOUTH! She's going to stop before things go too far and not read an actual SEX SCENE in public." But oh, dear readers, she pretty much did. They didn't do 'the deed,' but Claire was doing something worse to Jamie than the actual deed when it comes to reading it outloud!

And here's the kicker. Remember, there was A SIX-YEAR-OLD LITTLE BOY SITTING DIRECLTY BEHIND ME! I promise you it was all I could do not to turn around, clamp my hands over his pretty little ears and sing the Lalala's to him myself. His momma was all ga ga and fainting over being in the same room with Diana, so I'm pretty sure she didn't have the good sense to do it herself. Did I mention I wanted to die from embarrassment. Even if the little boy had not been there -- and in her defense, there is no way she could have seen him in the way back sitting behind all the grown ups -- I think I would have been embarrassed.

Now don't get me wrong, dear readers, I am working on a book, and I am sure there will be a S*E*X scene or two in there. And frankly, I think there is nothing wrong with me reading or writing about "naughty married people stuff" as Joshilyn Jackson, another of my favorite authors, calls her sex scenes. But I cannot ever even fathom reading it outloud to a group at the Green Hills Mall where unsuspecting patrons are eating dinner at the cafe' next to us, unless I was drunk. And frankly I think an author showing up to a book signing intoxicated would be bad form.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe my Southern Baptist Roots are showing, but Have Mercy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I might be falling in love

I am contemplating an affair. No dear readers, not THAT kind of affair. I'm contemplating cheating on a relationship that has been around much longer than my marriage -- my relationship with hot tea.

I've been faithful to tea since I was but a tween. It probably began when the Japanese restaurant moved to the town we frequented when I was about 12. They served hot green tea in cute little cups with no handles that I slurped up with abandon. It moved to steeping Lipton tea bags in hot water at home when I was a teen. Then in college on a class trip off campus to watch an international video that never materialized due to technical difficulties, I met Earl. Since we were meeting off campus and many professors were attending, we lowly college students were treated to a bagels and muffins breakfast complete with coffee and tea. My dear, sweet, precious friend Mary was there and offered me some Earl Grey. "What's that?" I asked genuinely ignorant. Being the sweet, precious friend she was, she tried to hide her shock and embarrassment for me and replied sweetly, "It's a kind of hot tea."

*Dear readers, have I mentioned that I grew up in a little town in East Tennessee that was "Country" with a capital "C"? Yes, I have mentioned this more than once? Oh, okay. Just wanted you to know.* Growing up in my house if you asked for some tea, you got a big old glass of iced tea that was so sweet your teeth would ache. My whole family loves iced tea. But hot tea? My parents still wonder why on earth you would want to ruin tea by drinking it hot and putting milk in it for goodness sakes. Needless to say, my knowledge of tea (and pretty much anything culinary that could not be eaten at a 'meat and three') was limited.

Trying to shake off my embarrassment, I agreed to give Earl a try. And we've been together ever since. Earl is my go-to guy. Yes, I love a good strong black tea in the morning such as English or Irish Breakfast, but at "tea time" in the afternoon an hour before my kids get off the bus and while my little one is still napping, give me a big old cup of Earl to drink with any carbohydrate, and I am a happy woman. If that carb happens to be freshly baked scones or little tea sandwiches, I am in heaven on earth!

My love of tea and "tea time" runs deep, so I am sure that Earl and his fellow teas will be a part of my life forever. But even though I love Earl, I'm having a hard time remaining faithful. I've started a flirtation with Lattes. *Everybody is drinking lattes, you say? I'm about 10 years late to this party, you say? Yes, dear readers I know. I am slow to change and have not wanted to jump on the java bandwagon. But have mercy, I cannot seem to help myself.*

I mentioned earlier that I have never been a coffee fan. I blame my mother. (Love you mom!) My mother is one of those women who drinks a scalding hot cup of coffee in the middle of a heat wave in July. To say she is a coffee addict would be a gross understatement. Coffee is not a drink to her, it is a way of life. And frankly, her coffee way of life is a slow one. I cannot count the number of dinners I endured as a child where I had to "sit still" while mom drank her after-dinner coffee. Then there were the afternoons she would spend at Miss Jane's house, the two of them drinking cup after cup of coffee while I was sent to another room "to play." I associate coffee with my mother so much so that one of my fondest pictures of her was taken at Miss Jane's house with a cup of coffee in hand.

So to me coffee was a stinky drink that was so much a part of my mother that I could never consider it to be part of me. Or if it was going to be part of me, it would be me when I was "old" and a mother. When I went off to college, I was told that after the first semester I would love both beer and coffee. While I did acquire a taste for a good margarita and vodka mixed with any fruit juice (in moderation, of course!), I never did acquire a taste for coffee. I got my caffeine from hot tea and iced cold Coca-Cola.

Even when Starbucks hit the scene in the South, I could not be swayed. Spend five bucks on coffee? Are you crazy? I'll pass on the grande mocha locha soy chai whatever it is you are serving at Starbucks and go with the $1.50 32 oz. Coke from McD's. But then Sonic started making lattes for $2.50 and gave a few of them away for free in the beginning. One of my first attempts at drinking coffee was basically a coffee milkshake from Sonic. After drinking two or three of those in one week while my husband was working out of town for the entire summer, I realized that if I kept it up, I'd weigh 300+ pounds when he got home and that probably wasn't a good idea.

So I moved on to Sonic's iced lattes, and every now and then a hot latte. Besides the chocolate and caramel syrup and whipped cream that make it so heavenly, I think what I love most is the JOLT of caffeine that I get. Having been a Coke and tea drinker my whole life, I am just not used to the massive amount of pep I get from the caffeine in a latte. It is amazing. It makes me feel like I can accomplish twice as much in my day. Why oh why haven't I been drinking this stuff for years! *Hi, my name is Lori, and I'm a caffeine addict.*

So I've been drinking an occasional latte at Sonic and yes, even Starbucks, for the last year or so. But on Wednesday, I took the plunge into real coffee. I went to my Bible study in the pouring rain and then sat shivering in the big air conditioned room like a drowned rat. The lovely ladies sponsoring this study had muffins and sweet bread and coffee for us all. I was freezing and a cup of hot anything sounded good. I contemplated drinking this "regular" coffee and then noticed they had hazelnut and regular creamer. I poured half a cup of coffee and then dumped in almost as much of both creamers. And it was drinkable, almost even good. Good enough in fact for me to drink two more cups. Did I mention I was wet and freezing? So now I realize that given enough creamer and sugar, I can even drink "regular" coffee.

The funny thing about my coffee drinking is that I still don't have to reconcile the fact that "I am becoming my mother." My mother, the woman who has coffee running through her veins, hates all things latte and Starbucksy. She thinks Starbucks makes the worst coffee on the planet. To her it is entirely too strong and she will drink her plain McD's coffee with a splash of milk, thank you very much. I find this comforting. Coffee is and always will be my mother's drink, not mine. But lattes, or a facsimile thereof, I think I'm falling love.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Fiction Writing Career Part Deaux -- Or, why I stopped writing in the first place.

So, I'm trying my hand at fiction. Don't know what I'm doing, seeing as how I've never done this before, unless you count the short stories my friends and I wrote in seventh grade about the new boys we had crushes on, which I certainly do not.

Since I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to fiction, I thought I'd take a class. I went to a free class given by a self-published author at a nearby library. The author had written six or seven books that she had published herself. I was duly impressed. She gave us a formula for writing books. (I like knowing the rules, I just don't always choose to follow them.) She, being the Type-A teacherly person that she is, was emphatic that her method would work for everybody. It was kind of a mix of "outline, make notes and have all your stuff together at hand" and "put your butt in your seat and your fingers on your keyboard every day and write at least four pages a day and do not move from said chair until it is done." That's one way of doing it. Probably a fairly good way of doing it, too.

But silly Type-A people, don't you know that the rest of us live a life you could never imagine? We do not put our notes in one place -- we write one set in a steno pad that sits next to the stove, one on the back of an envelope we found in the car while stopped at a red light, and several in scattered notebooks around the house that may or may not still have our son's name on them. *Oh, you other Type-Messy people don't do this? That's just me? Oh, I can see*

Needless to say, my ways are not her ways. And yes, my ways cause me lots of stress, and it would certainly be better if I broke down and got my proverbial "stuff" together and got organized. Yes it would. It'd also be nice if my six-year-old could sprinkle herself with fairy dust and take off into the air and fly like she keeps wishing for, but that's not going to happen any time soon either.

So, back to the keeping notes in my 8-year-old's notebooks. I don't actually do that. I've taken notes in notebooks that were formerly his. Yes, technically they have his name on them, but that's just because when I bought his supplies last year I accidentally wrote his name on about eight notebooks and I think he only used four. And yes, one of these notebooks has about three pages of his scribbles in them, but the rest of the used pages have things like to-do lists for Girl Scouts and other stuff from my life. He has not used these in months, and I need them, so that means they no longer belong to him.

Now that that's clear, let me tell you about my wonder boy. He will be nine in October. He started third grade two weeks ago. He read the first two Harry Potter books over the summer. I don't know exactly what level he is reading on (I seem to be the only parent on the planet whose child's teacher last year did not tell her her child's reading level, or maybe she did and I lost it. That is a distinct possibility.) but I'm guessing it's slightly above third grade, probably around eighth.

Anywho, I was writing away on my just-another-coming-of-age-in-the-South story, trying to figure out how to e-mail it from the laptop since my e-mail is on the desktop, and my son comes up behind me. I did not realize he was looking, or I would have closed the file. This story has exactly two "bad" words in it, one is a place where every child knows the devil lives and the other is a bad word for a girl/woman that rhymes with witch. These are fairly run of the mill, nothing to get excited over kind of words if you are an adult reading fiction. An 8-year-old reading fiction is another story.

Him: Oooh, you said a bad word mom.
Me: What? What are you doing? Are you reading that? That is none of your business. And I didn't say the bad word, my character did.
Him: What?
Me: I'm writing a short story, and my character said it in the story, and it's not for you to read. It's for adults. Aren't you supposed to be doing your homework?
Him: But why does your story have bad words in it?
Me: It has exactly two bad words in it, and it is for adults, not kids, and it is none of your business really, and I don't appreciate you reading my things, and exactly why aren't you doing your homework right now?

*Playing the homework card really helps in these situations.*

Argh! This is why I have never kept a diary. This is why I have not written since seventh grade. Oh, if I'd kept writing bad fiction back then, maybe I'd know what I was doing by now, but my mother found my short stories back then. I was as innocent as they come in seventh grade, although I did know the basics about "The Birds and the Bees," but I made the mistake of wondering, WONDERING, about S*E*X and why people would want to do that and then was WONDERING about kissing and other silly, innocent seventh-grade-crush stuff and my mother FREAKED OUT! Now, I'm not saying as a mom that she wasn't entitled a freak out moment. I'm sure I will freak out about S*E*X with my children, and what they are thinking about and when, but it scarred me. Not about sex, about writing. I figured if anybody could read what I was MAKING UP and NOT REALLY THINKING ABOUT WANTING TO DO IN REAL LIFE, EWWW! and judge it, and I could GET IN TROUBLE FOR IT, then I really ought not be doing it. So that pretty much ended my interest in a career in fiction.

Fast forward 20 years, (okay 25 if I'm being honest) and it's happening again. A family member is reading my writing without my permission and making judgements and I hate it. It is more a feeling of my right not to be read until I am ready being violated than worrying about what he was thinking or reading. The story he was reading was about a sixth grader and, except for one minor part, I would have no problem with him reading it by himself. The other minor part I would let him read while I explained it, so he'd understand. And the bad words, although shocking to see in print, are nothing worse than what he has heard slip from my lips on more than one occasion. *I am not perfect! Quit judging me!*

Oh, and back to those notebooks. He found one of his, er my, notebooks that same day that had a few questions in it. I'm also working on another novel where the protagonist gets pregnant her senior year in college while living on her sorority's dorm floor. He did not read about this! I needed to research what would happen to her. So I wrote these questions to remind myself: "What happens if you get pregnant in a sorority? Do you get kicked out? Do you get kicked off the floor?"

Him: What did you write in my notebook? (a little shrill in tone)
Me: (To self, "$#@%, he's found the questions. Seriously, what is wrong with me!?! Why can't I put my crap back where it belongs. I am the world's worst mother!") What? Those are questions for a story I am writing. What are you doing looking in my notebook reading my things? (a little shrill myself)
Him: It's my notebook.
Me: That is not your notebook. It only has your name on it, because I messed up and wrote it on there last year.
Him: But look, I wrote on a couple of pages.
Me: You haven't used that in months, and I needed a notebook. It has lots of lists and notes and things I need in there and what are you doing reading that notebook when you should be doing your homework!?!

Now, looking back over the actual questions and not the meaning they held for me, I could have handled this differently. There was no need to panic, because they really aren't that bad. I'm sure he was confused, but at least they didn't say what I was thinking, "What happens if you get pregnant in college by your jerk of a boyfriend you shouldn't have been in love with and who now won't marry you, and then you lose your housing and end up on your own and you are told by more than one friend to get an abortion, but you soldier on and decide to have it without the help of the 'father' and your 'friends' and you manage to somehow make a good life for yourself anyway?" No the questions, thankfully, did not say all that. They didn't even say you got pregnant when you were not married. I could have played them off, but instead I went for changing the subject and bringing up the unfinished homework, which is guaranteed to cause him to scramble since he is not one to sit down and dutifully do homework.

Yes one day, dear reader, I will get my proverbial crap together and keep my notes and computer files where they belong, and I will write a book that is well received by critics and the public alike, and then I will have to deal with my mother and my oldest child reading it and being upset that their daughter/mother writes about such things as, oh I don't know, life? But for now, I'm getting the Sharpie out and plastering my name across every notebook in the house and then hiding them in my room. Maybe that will serve as a deterrent.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wherein I open a can of worms

I have issues with the Girl Scouts. There, I've said it. Seeing as how I am a card-carrying member of the Girl Scouts -- a Daisy Leader no less -- I am sure they are going to knock on my door any minute and kick me out. I don't have issues with my local Girl Scout peeps -- I love them -- I just have issues with the national organziation. I'd probably be just fine and even forget they exist on a national level, if they didn't keep sending me these darn catalogs reminding me that I really don't like them very much. Argh!

A little background. I'm married to an Eagle Scout. My third grader is in his third year of Cub Scouts and my husband, the Eagle Scout, is his den leader. It would not be a stretch to say, "I love the Cub/Boy Scouts." I love that my son promises every week to do his duty to God and country and to help other people and to obey the law of the pack (follow directions from the leader and be a good Cub Scout). I love the values he's learning, and I love that he will get a pocketknife and learn how to use it safely this year. Seeing as how my brother got his first B.B. gun and a course in hunter safety at age 7, a pocketknife at 9 that comes with safety instructions is not cause for alarm for me.

Back to Girl Scouts (hereby known as G.S.) I thought long and hard about letting my daughter join G.S. I researched the organization, and frankly what I found I did not like. I knew they had kicked God out a while back. (He now has an * beside His name.) They bowed to secular pressure. I get it. They aren't the first organization, and sadly won't be the last, that goes along to get along. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

Dropping their Christian Heritage is just one of the things I found about the national G.S. organization that I do not like. Since this post is about making hard decisions as a parent and not about politics, I will not get into all of the things I don't like. You can always Google it youself. Suffice it to say that as a whole, the national G.S. organization is very liberal, and I am not. In fact, I am pretty conservative.

So, here's the hard questions I faced, "Do I let my child be part of a group that doesn't share our family's values?" Or, "Do I disappoint my daughter and make her miss out on an opportunity to grow and learn with other girls her age." Yes, I realize there was another option. I could have started a "Christian-based" scouting group for my daughter and this would have solved my dilemma. There is a great one out there that is not yet in my community. To start the group here would have taken countless hours and support from a local church and many volunteers. I researched it and prayed about it and decided it just wasn't the time for me to do it. It would have taken time away from my family and away from any other volunteer activity I might want to do, and frankly, I didn't have the energy. But I do admit that every time I read about it, I wish my daughter was a part of it instead of G.S.

My mother had the same dilemma when I was growing up. She chose not to let me join Brownies, because she did not agree with the leader's morals and values. (This was before the organization as a whole became really liberal.) Lets just say the leader wasn't the type of woman my mother wanted me spending time with. I was a little bit upset with my mom because I was missing out, and I thought she was being judgemental -- she told me why I couldn't join. But I was also relieved. She wasn't like any of the other moms I knew and her brashness made me nervous. When I was older, my mom told me that she had tried to see if I could be in another troop, but there wasn't one. She decided that it was better for me to miss out on that opportunity than to let me be influenced by a woman who did not share her values. As a mom now, I really respect her decision.

But the situation with my daughter is a little different. She was desperate to be a scout. Remember the Eagle Scout dad and Cub Scout brother? So I really felt that it wouldn't be fair to keep her from being a scout. But obviously I was concerned about what she would be learning in scouts. So what's a mom to do? Why, volunteer to co-lead the group of course.

So now I'm the crazy mother of three co-leading 13 girls in a G.S. troop, and I really like it when I'm not worn out by it. I am not only shaping my daughter's values, I'm helping shape those of 12 other little girls and that's a responsibility I take seriously. And the good thing about G.S. in my small town is that the other leaders are awesome women who love the girls and whose values match my own. And when you lead a G.S. troop, you can kind of make it whatever you want. So right now, I'm taking what I think is good about G.S. and leaving the rest. My troop is made up of first graders, so as long as we have a snack and play a game, they are pretty happy. But we're also learning about virtues like honesty, kindness, helpfulness, being responsible for what we say and do, using resources wisely and being a sister to every Girl Scout, which is the really good part of Girl Scouts.

I'm pretty sure that other hard decisions I'll have to make for my children won't turn out with every body being happy, if tired, but this one did. So I'll chalk this up as a success and keep nurturing (and yes sheltering) my daughter as long as I can.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suzie Q. Homemaker ain't got nothin' on me!

If you know me, or if you've read more than one entry of my blog, you probably know that Suzie Q. Homemaker I am not. In fact, I am not crazy about the title homemaker (you can read about that here), but not for any PC reason. It's because I feel like I am crappy at making a home and if that is my title, I am afraid I might be failing miserably. Cooking and cleaning just aren't my thing.

However, I must have been bitten by the Suzie Homemaker bug this week, because last night I bit the bullet and cooked an actual meal from scratch *I can hear your oohs and ahhs from here* much to my children's chagrin. There was broccoli involved. My kids think there should never be broccoli involved in dinner, and they weep and wail and gnash their teeth accordingly when there is. Even this could not put me off my Suzie Q. Homemaker kick this week. This morning after the older two went out the door on their merry way to the bus stop, I browned up a pot roast -- using an apron and everything -- and threw it in the crock pot to cook. Nothing makes me feel more like Suzie Q. Homemaker than cooking while wearing an apron, except maybe sewing.

When it comes to sewing, I am a total throw back. Suzie Q. Homemaker's sewing skills ain't got nothin' on me. My mother is still confused by this turn of events. I am the girl who swore off HomeEc class, because by golly I was going to be a successful business woman, and I didn't need to learn "stupid, old-fashioned stuff" like cooking and sewing to do that. Seeing as how my mother barely made it through HomeEc herself, I don't think she batted an eye over my protest. Fast forward more years than I care to count, and here I am a bonafide sewing addict.

For every special occasion my children partake in, a special outfit must be made. First day of first grade? Let mommy make you a skirt with an attached apron out of Dick and Jane and coordinating polka dot fabric. Birthday girl turning three? Let me make a jumper with an appliqued giraffe holding three balloons for our zoo party theme. Earned a co-lead role in the first grade play? Let mommy make you and your co-lead matching shark costumes. Yes, I may be up until 2 a.m. the night before putting in buttonholes and finishing up hems, and I may look like a glassy-eyed loon taking their pictures at the event, but by golly my kids look good in their custom outfits! Dear readers, I have one thing to say for myself, "Hi, my name is Lori, and I'm a sewing addict."

One mom I know says she thinks that stay-at-home moms who sew for their kids do so for one main reason, recognition. I'm inclined to agree. When strangers come up to you at Disney World and ask you where on earth you got the precious Minnie Mouse t-shirt dress with the embroidered Minnie Mouse head on it, you can smile demurely and say, "Oh, you mean my daughters' dresses? Well, actually I made those." To which said stranger will ooh and ahh and tell you how talented you are. Or her husband will ask your husband in the men's room, no less, "Where did you get your daughter's dress? My wife would love one of those for our daughter." And your husband will smile and proudly say, "My wife makes them," and then he'll tell you that next time you should make up a bunch to bring to Disney to sell and thus pay for the trip. To which you will reply, "Uh, no thanks. I'm pretty sure you go to Disney jail if I you do that."

It's sad, but true, that when you put your heart and soul, as well as every moment of your day, into raising your kids, and you don't get a yearly review or end up with a glowing article about your mothering skills in the paper, all you want is a little recognition. For me, that recognition comes from sewing. (And now from writing again thanks to you, my dear readers, who comment on my blog!) Of course compliments on what nice manners your children have are even nicer than those on your sewing skills, but really, how often does that happen?

So yes, I do love the recognition I get from sewing, but I'm pretty sure that it runs deeper than that. There is something soothing about taking a piece of fabric, a pattern and an idea, and making it into something my daughters can wear. (I would make things for my 8-year-old son, but he isn't that interested in the things I make anymore. Can't say I blame him. I don't make graphic tees and cargo shorts.) Sewing is a creative process that has tangible, wearable results.

My love of sewing also comes from the relationships it has brought me. I love to sew in a group, and I love to talk sewing. I love to look at fabric and discuss patterns and bounce ideas off a friend. I love to get e-mails from Amy saying, "How cute is this!?!" and "We need to make that!" It's creativity with a little help from your friends, which might be the very best kind.

The height of this creativity amongst friends comes at my semi-annual (sometimes quarterlyish) sewing weekend. I, and several of my sewing friends, head out of town to a beautiful retreat that one of the friend's father-in-law owns. And we sew. For two and a half days and we LOVE it! Okay, so we've sort of incorporated a movie/wine drinking portion into Friday night, which means I don't sew once the wine flows, because my personal motto is "Just Say No to Drinking and Sewing." I have a hard enough time making my seams straight without the influence of alcohol.

But after Friday night, it is down to business for all of us. There are Easter outfits, a ball gown (Now that was an interesting weekend. Missy's husband will never give her that much lead time on a black-tie event again!), back-to-school, and Christmas items being made. The projects are as varied as the women making them. If I'm lucky I can embroider some items for a friend, while she puts some buttonholes in one of my garments. I hate buttonholes. Or, I can get their advice on what to do with a yard of funky fabric I picked up for a song. I can borrow patterns, suggest ideas on what they are making, and laugh and stay up far too late in the night trying to get one more ruffle on one more pant leg.

It is good times indeed, and I will relish these weekends while they last. I am sure our days of sewing for our children are numbered. One day far too soon they will look at us and say "I don't want to wear that," and we will have to face the fact that they are too old to wear what we make them. But for now, we sew on. And maybe after the children's garments are done, we'll take up home dec sewing. Or maybe start a movie/wine drinking club. I won't worry about that now. I don't have time. I need to get my fabric and patterns ready for the weekend. Can't wait to see you Friday, girls!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Dizzy Confused State of Mind

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines vertigo as: a.) a sensation of motion in which the individual or the individual's surroundings seem to whirl dizzily b.) a dizzy confused state of mind. I define mild vertigo as that feeling you get when you've had one too many cocktails and you need just a teensy bit of help walking straight.

You don't even want to hear about moderate to severe vertigo. Let's just say it resembles the feeling you might get after drinking all night at a band party in college (not that I would know, I'm just speculating here). Or it could also be described as that feeling you get after riding one of those cups and saucers rides at Disney, or one of those rides at the fair that uses centrifugal force to keep you slammed back against the back of the ride so you don't go flying off into space. Anyway you slice it, it is NOT GOOD.

However, vertigo doesn't just come after drinking one too many cocktails with the girls and having an overall good time, or after making a very poor decision to climb up on that ride at the fair. No, for me vertigo comes with sinus problems, or after a week or two of not getting enough sleep, or when I move my head a certain way, or do something stupid like get on a kiddy ride at the fair, or just whenever the heck it wants to show up and leave me feeling slightly drunk (without the benefit of cocktails) and just a tad bit cranky for three to four days, before it decides to slink off and invade some other poor unsuspecting soul's brain.

I've been diagnosed with sinus issues. I've been diagnosed with Benign Positional Vertigo. I've even been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease (which I am pretty sure that I do not have, seeing as how I do not have horrible, debilitating, life-altering vertigo that some people have, God bless them.) So basically, they don't know why I have vertigo, nor do they know how to stop it. It's not a huge deal, since I only get it a few times a year. But while it's here rolling around in my brain, I feel icky and out of sorts, like I'm going to fall down every time I bend down to tie somebody's shoe. I hate icky and out of sorts.

The doctor who diagnosed me with Meniere's said that I should go on a low-salt diet, because Meniere's (which I'm convinced I do not have) may or may not be caused by excess fluid in the inner ear somewhere and going on a low-salt diet may or may not help it. Okay? When I told the doctor that a low-salt diet sounded like a lot of work for something that may or may not help. He said it wasn't hard at all and that I would probably lose 10 pounds and love it, and he just knew that I wouldn't want to take a water pill every day (all said while he was walking out the door of the exam room).

Well, lets just refer to him as Dr. Lying McLiar and go to his house and see what his salt intake is, because I guarantee you it is four times what he told me I should consume. Anyone ever tried low-salt ketchup? It's disgusting. And how would he know whether or not I want to take medicine without actually asking me? And couldn't I just take the water pill when I feel the vertigo coming on? As far as the comment about my weight goes, bite me! My completely average weight for my height is none of his Ear, Nose and Throat business.

Did I mention there really is no good medicine for vertigo? There is an anti-dizzy medicine which I think is basically Benadryl, and the only way it works is to knock you flat on your back asleep, so you don't feel the dizzy. Exactly how am I supposed to take care of three kids when I am prostrate in the bed? The other option is the "water pill" which Dr. Lying McLiar thinks I don't want to take, and I'm not convinced would work anyway. (Don't worry. If I want to take the water pill, I can certainly get it. I know of a Dr. Feelgood that would prescribe it and also any other drug I might think I need. Scary! But that is a post for a day called "Never" because I really do not want to get sued.)

I am currently having a bought of vertigo, and I'm a little Cranky McCranky myself. But I'm guessing you already knew that by now, right? Grrrr!