Monday, September 21, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

Sorry it's taken me so long to post the winner, y'all. It's been a crazy weekend, which I'll blog more about later.

The winner of the signed first edition of Gone From These Woods is:

Commenter #6 !!! (I tried to capture the image from my random number generator, but I'm not technically savvy and couldn't figure it out. Sorry!)

So, Katie in MA, you won! If you'll send me your address to themadamequeen at gmail dot com, I'll get your book right out to you. Assuming I don't float away in the meantime!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog Book Tour -- Gone From These Woods

Today I'm participating in my first blog book tour! I'm really excited because I know the author of this book personally and the book is truly fantastic. And, as an added bonus, I'm going to be giving away a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. EST (8:59 p.m. Pacific) on Friday night (9/18/09) and the winner will be selected by random number generation. (Rules totally cribbed from Contest-Leader Extraordinaire, Mir, over at WantNot).

I first met Donny Seagraves about two years ago at a local writers' conference. At the time she was still working on her novel, but she told me the premise and it sounded really intriguing. And just a few months later, Donny emailed me with the great news that Random House had just purchased her middle grades novel Gone From These Woods!!


Gone From These Woods is the story of eleven-year-old Daniel Sartain and how his life is forever changed after a tragic hunting accident. It is a heartbreaking story, but one that will ultimately leave you with a sense of hope.

Donny is a native of Athens, Georgia, and still lives nearby in a small town called Winterville. Donny studied journalism at the University of Georgia , was a newspaper columnist for seven years, and has published fiction and non-fiction in many regional and national publications, including Athens Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Gone From These Woods is Donny's debut novel. As part of the Blog Book Tour, Donny agreed to answer some of my questions.

What was the first thing you ever wrote, where you consciously sat down and wrote a story? How old were you?

The first things I remember writing were poems. I was in the fourth grade, in Mrs. Clara Doster’s class. I started school when I was five, so I would have been eight years old when I began writing. I started writing short stories as a teenager. One in particular that I remember and think I still have a copy of was a story about a girl named Jude. One of the things mentioned in that story, which was set in the future (maybe in our current time now), was that we had our first black president, Julian Bond. I was right about the first black president but wrong about the name!


How important is place in your story? Could the same story have been told in another locale?
I think my story needed its rural North Georgia setting. The setting, which I came up with while doing early morning exercise walks around the area where I live, is very much a part of the story. The woods, the birds, the lake, the small house where the Sartains live, the tiny town of Newtonville, all feel right for this story. Interestingly enough, most of the books I’ve written before Gone From These Woods, (about nine) were set in places that were not distinct or particularly Southern. I was told many years ago that I could not sell a Southern book to a NY publisher. So I worked hard on taking the South out of my books. But I am a native of Athens, Georgia and a long time resident of the tiny nearby town of Winterville. So writing Southern comes more natural to me.


How did you get in the mindset of an 11 year old boy?

Good question! I’m obviously not an 11 year old boy but I felt that this story needed to be told from the inside in the first person voice of my main character, Daniel Sartain. To get into Daniel’s mindset, I had to remember my own son Greg and my younger brother Mike -- how they looked and moved and behaved. Also, I observed my nephew, Joseph, when he visited from Tenn., and the boys down the street, Brian and Michael Adler. These boys, past and present, in no way modeled what happened in the book. But they did show me “boyness” that I could observe and incorporate into my book.

With those models in mind, as I wrote every scene and line I tried to imagine that I was Daniel, the young boy in my book. Of course this wasn’t easy, but I have always liked a challenge and did the best I could to put myself in Daniel’s situation and try to imagine his thoughts and feelings and actions.

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SPOILER ALERT!!
You tackle some very sensitive topics in this novel. What age group do you think is your target audience? The protagonist is eleven. Do you think that an 11-year-old can fully appreciate the emotional depth of this book?

Technically, this book is labeled a children’s middle grade novel for ages 9 - 12. But it’s also being marketed by Random House to the teen and young adult market and has been picked by Brodart for their young adult McNaughton List, which is a “best of the best” standing order list for librarians. I think some 11-year-olds can appreciate the emotional depth and intensity of this book. But others, probably not. Middle school kids? Definitely.
Even though this story is partially based on real life events, did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?

Actually, though I acknowledge that the real life event that happened in the family of my second grade teacher as the source of inspiration for my story, that event was only a starting point or jumping off place for me. My characters, setting, and the story are all fictional, but inspired by real people, a real place, and the bare facts of my teacher’s story. So, that said, yes, I had to do a lot of research. For starters, I’m not a hunter or a gun person, but to tell a story that includes hunting and a gun, I needed to know more about these subjects. I did a lot of reading, on the Internet and in books and consulted with Nick Jenkins, a ranger with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to find out about hunting in Georgia. I also reenacted the accident scene, first with a fellow writer in my house, and then later with our former Winterville Police Chief, Eric Pozen, out in the woods of Oglethorpe County (a place I thought of as I wrote GFTW). Eric showed me how to fire a .410 and I must say, there’s really nothing like actually holding a gun, firing it, hearing the sound, smelling the gunpowder etc. I put all of this in to my scene. I also did research on children's who consider or actually commit suicide and on stages of grief. I used the stages of grief in my book, though Daniel did go through some stages rather quickly. It varies from person to person and I did have to cut out a couple of chapters towards the end to stay within my editor’s word limit (about 40,000 words). When my editor suggested that Daniel needed a counselor to help him through his grief, a writer friend of mine, Gail Karwoski, suggested that I visit Becky Kelley, a guidance counselor at Malcom Bridge Elementary School in Oconee County. Becky was kind enough to give my fictional boy Daniel a hour or so of her time. This included some excellent fictional counseling. I used Becky as the basis for Mrs. Hardy, the counselor in GFTW, and also borrowed some details from her office.

Why did you choose to write a Young Adult novel?

I’ve been writing for many years and actually started out writing for adults. Somewhere along the way, I shifted to children’s middle grade novels. My first published book is about the tenth book I’ve written. I fell in love with children’s middle grade novels while working in a school library many years ago. The last five or six novels I’ve written have been for middle grades. I think young readers are the most important audience of all. An author has a chance to make a difference in their lives and maybe create readers for life.


Will you continue in the YA genre or do you plan to write for other genres as well?

I will continue in the children’s middle grade and/or YA genre and fortunately, those categories of books are still selling in this tough economic climate. I may also write novels for adults, if I have time.

How long did it take you to get published?
I worked on this manuscript for about two years before I took it to a SCBWI Southern Breeze writer’s conference in Atlanta in Feb. 2007. After Michelle Poploff of Random House bought what would become GFTW, we worked on the book about eight more months. Then there were some months of waiting as the book went through production. So this was about a four-year project for me.

Did you ever feel like giving up? What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring writers about the publishing process?
Oh, absolutely! I actually did stuff the manuscript in progress into my file cabinet a few times to see if I could forget about it. I couldn’t. So I pulled it back out each time and continued working. Of course my advise to aspiring authors is to never give up. Keep writing and submitting your work. Go to conferences and meet published authors plus agents and editors. Have faith in yourself. Someone gets published. I’m proof of that.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the book I wrote right before the one that sold. It’s different -- lighter and hopefully humorous.

EDITED TO ADD:There are a couple of other bloggers who are also participating in Donny's Blog Book Tour. You can check them and see their questions at the following dates and blogs:

Lynn Coulter's blog, Seedlings on September 16th.

Elizabeth Dulemba's blog on September 18th, and

Eddie Suttles' blog, Georgia Books and Water on September 21st.

Also, I neglected to mention one VERY important fact. Gone From These Woods is available for purchase now. You can find it at any of these fine retailers: IndieBound, Amazon.com, Amazon Kindle edition, Random House, Borders, Barnes & Noble, or if you want to give someone a signed copy, you can order it from Junebug Books!

Thanks, Donny, for letting me be a part of your book tour and getting the word out about your book! You can check out Donny's blog at wintervillewriter.com. There Donny writes about what she's reading and writing. So go say hi! Tell her I sent you!


Book cover art: Random House, Copyright 2009 by the artist, Blake Morrow.
Author's photo: Barry Mobley, photographer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What DOES she do with them?

Bubba lost his second tooth today at school. He lost his first while we were camping in St. Augustine this summer. When he bit into a non-quite-melted s'more, the tooth stayed with his s'more when he swallowed. He was a little worried at first but then remembered his friend John Thomas' experience -- the tooth fairy went down inside John Thomas' stomach and got his tooth when he swallowed it!

I told Bubba at the time that it was more likely that the Tooth Fairy had a TPS --a tooth positioning system -- and would know he had lost a tooth even though it wasn't under his pillow. Because we were camping, the Tooth Fairy only had a five dollar bill, which thrilled Bubba to no end.

On the way home tonight, I was giving Bubba a heads up that the tooth fairy probably wouldn't be quite so generous this time. I explained that the first tooth was special and that's why he had gotten five dollars.

"What is the Tooth Fairy?" Punkin asked from the back seat.

"Well, she's a fairy that comes and get your teeth and gives you money for them," I explained.

"When you lose them?" she asked, a slight note of panic in her voice.

"Of course!! She doesn't come and take them out of your mouth," I reassured her.

"What does she do with them?" she asked, sounding kind of disgusted. Given my own squickiness about teeth, I can't say I blame her.

"Well, you know, I'm not really sure," I said. "I never really thought about it. That's a good question."

"Maybe she gives them to babies," Bubba suggested. "You know, 'cause they don't have any teeth."

"That's a great suggestion, Bubba," I said. "Yeah, let's go with that."

Yeah, let's go with that. Even though the thought of "used teeth" kind of weirds me out, the thought of a big pile of teeth in the Tooth Fairy's back yard is just plain disgusting.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plaids and Stripes

You know, they say the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have a problem, so here goes.

I'm a control freak.

Yes. Me. I mean, I've always kind of known that I'm a control freak -- whenever it came to group projects in high school and college I was always the one that did all the work because I couldn't trust that the others in my group would do it right.

And I have a hard time delegating tasks because if they're not done right it just peeves me to no end. Also, I'd rather just do it myself than take the time to explain it to someone else.

But I've recently realized that there are lots of other things that stress me out, things that would probably surprise you.

My children's clothes, for example. They cannot be wrinkled. I don't mean that we have to take our clothes off every hour and iron them throughout the day or anything like that, but they DO have to be ironed before they leave the house for the day.

And their clothes can't have any holes or stains, which, come ON, they're kids. Nearly every single pair of Bubba's jeans ended up with holes last year and Punkin is not a neat child. I patched most of Bubba's jeans but could rarely stand to see him leave the house with them on.

And they have to match. I don't mean that my kids have to match each other (God forbid!) but their own clothes need to coordinate. My right eyelid starts to twitch and my hands feel clenchy if Punkin grabs a shirt and some pants that don't match.

And I don't know why this is. It's not like I wore terrible clothes as a child and now I have a complex and want something different for my children. I had great clothes as a child! But I have this weird fear that if my children are wrinkled or stained or torn that I will be judged as a mother. What is up with that?

It's doubly perplexing because I don't judge other children or their parents. I actually think it's really cute when girls mix stripes or patterns. If I see a little boy with well patched jeans, I don't look down on him or his parents. So why do I have such a tough time with my own kids?

I don't know. The answer is probably buried deep in my psyche and I don't feel like digging today. But what I do know is that I'm trying to change, I'm trying to let go. Every morning I let the kids pick their own clothes. This started really as an opportunity to give Punkin more control over her life in an effort to minimize some of her tantrums. And it has helped with that. But Bubba caught the wind of change and my formerly passive little guy has started expressing his opinions too.

Some mornings, when Punkin has pulled out the floral print leggings and the floral print shirt (two different prints!!) I have to take a deep breath and realize that it.doesn't.matter. It really doesn't. I don't care. I really don't. I swear.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goofball Macgillicuddy

My daughter? Is a total goofball. Need some proof? Here you go:




She recently "discovered" these goggles and since then she's been wearing them constantly. Every time I look at these pictures it makes me laugh. That girl is a card.

Enjoy the Silence

So....um...

*cough*

I got nothing.

Well, actually I do have something but it requires picture downloads and we've had keyboard issues over the past couple of days.

I'll be back this evening with some photos guaranteed to crack you up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anybody Speak Japanese?

Yesterday when I started checking my comments from my blog, I noticed that I had TWO comments in Japanese. And both for the same post. Now one would be odd, but two was really weird. But, I deleted them and went about my merry way.

And then this morning I had another one. On the same post. Is there something about this particular post that just speaks to Japanese people? Or am I attracting some kind of weird spam? Here's today's comment. If you speak Japanese I'd love for you to take a crack at this:

オ○ニーライフのお手伝い、
救援部でHな見せたがり女性からエロ写メ、ムービーをゲットしよう!近所の女の子なら実際に合ってHな事ができちゃうかも!?夏で開放的になっている女の子と遊んじゃおう

This made me think of those things that other bloggers have done about the Google searches that bring people to their site. I've never done this but have always wanted to because I thought they were kind of fun. I used to have a list, but that got lost somewhere along the way. I do remember one though, and honestly I have no idea why this particular search would bring people to my site -- "when I squeeze my head I can hear a hum." Um. Okay. Sounds like a personal problem to me.

Another fave: "how to pronounce Henri Bendel" -- so glad I can be of service to all those people out there who are afraid of making fools of themselves! Like I almost did! (seriously, I get this one A LOT. Like two or three a day.)

"and flights of angels" -- I know where this one came from. I assume people are looking for the correct wording or where this quote comes from. Hamlet, for those of you who don't know.

Yesterday's queries include:

without a pullup -- I hope you're asking for your child. I'd say chances are 50-50.

ants getting into our camper, what to do -- Sell it. That's just about your only option. But, you could try peppermint oil and borax first. Just hope they don't get into your air condition vents in your car because that can be traumatic.

soccer shorts, spanking -- dude. I don't even want to know. Now, move along.

Henri Bendel eyebrows -- I don't know anything about Henri Bendel eyebrows, but I can tell you from experience that Henri Bendel lips are a nightmare!

So, there's a brief look at how I get most of the visitors to my site. Fortunately none of them are too pervy, so that's a relief (though you with with the soccer fetish, you need a new hobby).

What's the weirdest search phrase that's ever brought somebody to your site?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dude, Do You Have to Be Such A Downer

Last night, before bed, as we were winding the children down, we somehow came across the Arctic/Antarctic episode of Planet Earth. And wow. The photography was amazing and the stories fascinating.

But duuuuude. Depressing much?

In her sonorous voice of doom, the narrator intones "Somehow, in the confusion, the calf was separated from the herd" as the camera focuses in on the wobbly calf in the freezing snow with the wolf lurking nearby.

Or "Injured by the tusks of the walrus, this polar bear can hardly walk. If he doesn't find food soon, this polar bear will die" as the camera zooms in as the polar bear collapses in the mud.

When we then had to sit and watch a cluster of baby penguins shivering to death, well, that was it for me. I mean, it was fascinating and all, but if I want to be that depressed I'll just watch the news. I know nature is red in tooth and claw but next time I'm watching something a little more cheerful!

Friday, August 21, 2009

That Was (Not) Completely Unexpected

Punkin had her 4 year well check up yesterday and to see it did not go well would be an understatement.

In the whole Punkin saga I detailed a week or so ago, there were a lot of things I left out. There was just too much to tell. One of the reasons we initially sought the help of a child psychiatrist was because of some of Punkin's behaviors that made me concerned that she was suffering from some form of anxiety. Punkin does not transition well. You have to prepare Punkin wayyyyy in advance for everything. And sometimes even if you do prepare her, it doesn't do any good. She's still going to have some kind of melt down.

Also, she wasn't really forming friendships and social relationships in a way that I had hoped. At her old school her teachers told me that she would occasionally yell at her friends when they tried to get her to play. I have seen her wander away from a group of kids her own age to play by herself. And at a birthday party one of her friends ran up to her joyfully and Punkin just cowered behind my leg.

She didn't (and sometimes still doesn't) enjoy participating in group activities at school. At her new school she once crawled, crying, under a table to avoid having to play a simple game.

These things concerned me. But, after meeting with the therapist a couple of times and after seeing the success that we had with the school's reward program, my worry lessened. And she began to make friends, so that eased by concern, too.

But yesterday at the doctor's office, of her neuroses were on display. When I told her that I was going to have to get a urine sample she freaked out. If she were an adult I would have said she was having a panic attack.

Then she didn't want to put on her examination gown. Then she absolutely freaked out when it came time for the hearing test. And then it was the vision test during which all she had to do was hold a little black circle over her eye and identify some shapes. And then it was time for the shots. I'm sure you can imagine what that was like.

When I say she freaks out, that really doesn't tell you much. When Punkin "freaks out" or melts down, or whatever you want to call it, she becomes uncontrollable. She's crying and screaming and panicking and struggling. It is almost impossible to get her to calm down and trying to get her to actually do whatever it is you're trying to do. Our pediatrician said he was really impressed that I got her to do the hearing test because after watching her he didn't think we would get to do it at all.

And so, based on her behavior in his office and my description of her behavior over the past several months, he wants us to see a specialist. He thinks that she may be on the very high functioning end of Aspergers. And that perhaps she has some sensory issues as well.

So.

So.

To say that I have had mixed emotions about this would, again, be quite an understatement. To be honest, my initial reaction was "Yes! Thank you!" because I had wondered several times if Asperger's might be part of her problem. But frankly, I had thought of so many different things to account for her behavior -- in part to help me feel like it wasn't my "fault" -- that I didn't trust my instincts anymore.

And then, in the space of a few seconds, I felt overwhelming sadness. Something is "wrong" with my child. She's having a hard time and I don't want her to hurt. I don't want her to be viewed as different.

And then, just as quickly, I thought "she's the same child she was before we walked in the door 30 minutes ago." She's still my same sweet Punkin who likes to make funny faces, who likes to read books, and who can melt my heart with her sweet declarations of love.

Twenty years ago she wouldn't have been diagnosed with Asperger's. She would have simply been a "difficult child." And so, if the therapist can give us some ideas on ways to help her transition and ways to moderate her emotions, then I'm all for it.

Because I, like all mothers, want only what's best for my child. And I'll do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Next?

Y'all know what all's been going on with Punkin, but I haven't updated y'all about Bubba in a while.

Bubba has been doing great. As usual. Bubba, for the most part, seems to be one of those kids on whom the sun is always shining. Bubba has never met a stranger. He's very outgoing and he has a great smile and people are just drawn to him. I'm sure it has nothing to do with his dimples or his three inch black eyelashes. Bubba is also great at making friends with older kids. Older boys just seem to think he's cool and he just eats up their attention.

Bubba had a wonderful kindergarten year and was accepted into the school's gifted program for first grade. And unlike most children, he wasn't really looking forward to the summer because he didn't want to go to (the horror!) camp. Not even overnight camp. Just daycamp at the local YMCA. I don't know what he thought was going to happen at camp, but he was sure it wasn't good.

Until he went.

At the end of the first day he climbed into my car and said "Mommy, this was the BEST.DAY.EVER." And he totally bought into everything the camp was "selling." You couldn't have asked for a more loyal and enthusiastic camper. He could rattle off the camp credo at the drop of a hat -- respect, responsibility, honesty....um...I'm sure there are two more but I can't remember what they are. He could tell you, I'm certain. He also learned all the camp songs and sang them with gusto. Repeatedly.

And for his enthusiasm he was rewarded in week 4 by being named Camper of the Week. The weekly winner of this award received a YMCA Staff shirt signed by all the coaches, a prize worth more than gold. At the end of week two, as we were walking to the car, Bubba was telling me who had won for the week and I, a little worried that he would be disappointed if he never won, asked him how he would feel if he never got that award.

"It would be okay," he stated with equanimity. "There's lots of fun stuff about the Y besides Camper of the Week." And I could have just burst with pride right then and there at his great attitude. But apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed because just two weeks later Coach Lauren called me to tell me that Bubba had won Camper of the Week and could I come for the ceremony that afternoon. I would give anything to have been able to capture for posterity the look on Bubba's face when his name was called, but even though I didn't have my camera my heart will never forget that smile.

And now first grade has started. And I don't know who told him he could do this, but all of a sudden Bubba has started having ideas. Opinions. About how he wants to dress. About how he wants to wear his hair. About the types of activities he wants to be involved in. Until now, Bubba has always been my passive child. I've joked that if I didn't make him physically dress himself, he would be content to stand there like a little king while I dressed him. Frankly, I'm still not sure I won't have to go with him to college to wash his hair.

But now, now things are different. And today Bubba wanted to wear a mohawk to school. A mohawk. In the past whenever I was fixing his hair I'd put it in a mohawk and he would freak out. He like his hair flat to his head, thank you very much. I don't know what changed, if it was the skaters he saw over the weekend or the influence of friends at school, but all of a sudden he wanted one. He'd asked earlier in the week and I said no because I was afraid it would be a distraction in school, but he pointed out and I remembered seeing several children in the halls with mohawks. So, this morning I said yes. And while his hair was really more of a fauxhawk and didn't last the day, today was a big milestone for both of us. I've always said I was going to pick my battles. This one just didn't seem worth fighting.

A slightly bigger problem is that all of a sudden he's testing our boundaries a little bit. Getting a little sassy. Seeing how far he can push before we push back. It's a delicate dance we're all doing around here these days, trying to give him some autonomy but trying to maintain the level of respect that Mr. Daddy and I require. We don't want to squash him completely, but we all know that if you give a kid an inch they'll take ten miles.

I don't know who told Bubba he could grow up on me, but I guess I'm going to have to get used to it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Take the Plunge

On Saturday, Punkin and I attended the birthday party of one of her classmates. A pool party to be exact.

When we got the invitation I immediately went into panic mode -- I was going to have to wear a bathing suit. In front of people! Never mind the fact that I went to the beach twice this summer and wore a bathing suit -- in front of people! That was easy! Those people were strangers.

Honestly, though, I don't mind wearing a swimsuit even in front of people I know. Those people, for the most part, love me for who I am. Cellulite and all.

Well, don't you know these people, you ask? No. Not really. I see these people occasionally. Add to that the fact that Punkin's school is in the heart of a very wealthy county full of stay at home moms who spend a lot of time at the gym. Or at least they look like they do. These are the types of moms who intimidate the heck out of me. The ones whose jeans are pressed, whose clothes never have a stain on them. The moms whose nails and toenails are always painted, whose purse doesn't look like it just traveled with a St. Bernard up a snowy slope. These are the moms whose hair is always just so, or if it's not, it's so artfully tousled as to still be perfect.

But, Punkin won't swim with out me. I've come to learn that I can't force her to do things she doesn't want to do (a lesson that I've learned the hard way and another post for another day!). So, if we were going to go and have fun, then I was just going to have to get over myself.

So, we packed up our suits (and my courage) and we went. And you know what? There were all kinds of moms there. Skinny moms. Fat moms. In between moms. Blonde moms. Brunette moms. Harried moms. Calm moms. I saw several moms who didn't bring their suits, who preferred to sit on the side of the pool and watch. And I saw moms like myself who got in the pool and played with their kids.

As the party wore on, I realized that I'm pretty comfortable in who I am in a lot of ways. My body may not be perfect, but I like it. Well, maybe not like it, but I'm certainly not ashamed of it. I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. I also realized that I like the kind of mom I am, and after the past several months, let me tell you, that was a good feeling.

I also realized that I don't feel inferior to those women anymore. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but it's a good feeling. And just think, if I hadn't gone, if I had let fear hold me back, I might never have discovered this about myself.

What are you letting fear hold you back from?

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Heart

Last night as we were getting ready for bed, I let Punkin choose which sound she wanted to listen to on her sound machine: rainforest, ocean, rain, or summer night. There's a heartbeat option too and she always asks for that one, but I never let her choose that one to fall asleep to. It just doesn't seem restful to me. Too Tell Tale Heart-y.

But then Punkin said "Let me hear your heartbeat, Mommy."

So, I sat down on the edge of her bed and pulled my collar aside and let her press her ear to my chest. She was still and silent for a second. When she pulled away I said "What did my heart say?"

"I love you," she replied in a deeper voice than normal, imitating the low lub-dub sound a heart makes.

And how right she was.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Deconstructing Allison

I haven't addressed the passing of John Hughes on this here blog because it seemed like there were so many other more interesting and well written posts out there in the blogosphere. I mean, how can I compete with Alison who corresponded with Hughes for years.

But, I am a huge fan of John Hughes movies and I've been thinking a lot about them over the last several days. Several websites, including my new favorite, MamaPop, have questioned which was your favorite movie and what character did you most identify with.

Now I would be very hard pressed to say which was my favorite movie, but it would probably come down to a draw between Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. But wait. Hmmm...Can't leave out Ferris Bueller. And what about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (which is one of the most hilarious yet simultaneously heartbreaking movies ever made)? And Some Kind of Wonderful? Don't even get me started singing that So Lonely song because it will be stuck in my head ALL DAY. See what I'm dealing with here? I can't choose.

As for which character I most identify with, well, that's easier. On Twitter, FADKOG said that she was the love child of Brian and Allison (the characters played by Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy). But me, I was more like a cross between Claire (Molly Ringwald) and Brian. I had a measure of popularity in high school (though not the money) but nerd blood definitely ran in my veins.

What I saw most in my readings across the internet was how disappointed everyone was with Allison's transformation at the end. Everybody cried "SELLOUT" because she had to get a makeover to get the guy. But see, first of all, I think her makeover is metaphor. Maybe it's my English major roots showing here, but I see her transformation as her way of opening up, as a willingness to change. I think Andrew was already interested in her, it just took a change to really open his eyes. I don't think a little brown eyeliner was going to change Allison all that much. Also, she already had that white top on under all her black. Maybe she wanted someone to see the beauty in her. And what? Pretty girls can't be deep? Sure they can.

I think that Allison was the bravest of them all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

The eating issues continue apace in our house. By eating issues I mean that Bubba eats very little and Punkin eats everything. Of course I have discovered a few things that Bubba actually enjoys, but the list is quite small. Hamburger quiche (which I have to call Hamburger Pie or he gets confused), Chicken sandwiches, and tacos. That's about it.

The really frustrating thing is that there's another dish I make called Easy Cheesy Pie, which is basically just lots of cheese, noodles, and tomato sauce. It's just like the quiche minus the crust and add noodles. But Bubba won't touch it. Well, to clarify, he will eat it because he knows by now that if he doesn't eat what I put on his plate, then he doesn't eat. I refuse to be a short order cook because it's hard enough making one meal, much less two or three. But when he puts things in his mouth that he doesn't like, it's almost like you can see the food levitating in his mouth even though his mouth is closed. He holds his mouth in such a way that you can just tell that he's trying to keep as little of the food as possible from actually touching any taste buds. It's quite insulting, but I've grown quite a thick skin. I've had to. Once, when I served something he liked, he cheerfully piped up "Mommy, this is really good! It's almost like you didn't make it!" Yeah.

Now Punkin on the other hand is an eater. The child will eat most anything -- though I've discovered in the last few days that she won't even try a smoothie. I made the most delicious banana strawberry smoothie before dinner last night and she absolutely refused to let even the tiniest drop pass her lips. I swear, I felt like pinning her down and forcing her lips open because I know if she'll just try it, she'll love it! Strong will, she haz it.

Smoothies aside though, she'll eat anything. And once, in a fit of frustration with Bubba's pickiness, Mr. Daddy said "Bubba, Punkin's a better eater than you." He quickly came to regret that statement because it did nothing to inflame Bubba's sense of competition, but it did give Punkin a bit of a superiority complex. Now, whenever her plate is cleaner than Bubba's she'll point out to him how much she has eaten and declare herself the winner, which now DOES ignite Bubba's competitiveness. At which time we now have to remind them that it's not a competition.

This morning, as Punkin cleaned her plate she crowed "Look how much I ate, Bubba!"

"It's not a competition!" he growled. "It's breakfast! EVERYBODY wins at breakfast!"

If bacon's involved, I'd say Bubba was right.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I've Got A Feelin' Called the Bluuuues

Today I'm feeling kind of blickey. I have the blickey blues, as Mr. Daddy and I call it. Lately, I've been feeling really out of sorts and I don't like it. No, sir, I don't like it one little bit.

And the weird thing is that I can't really put my finger on what's the matter. I just don't feel good. I mean, I'm not sick or anything, I just feel blah. There are days when I feel like I literally don't have the energy to pick up my arms to do the most mundane tasks. I'm not motivated at work to do anything. I'm very short tempered with everybody, husband and kids alike.

There are times when I feel an approximation of happiness. There are times when the family and I are together and we're laughing and doing something that I know intellectually I know is "fun," but I feel very disassociated from the fun. As though I'm on the outside of a bubble watching everybody else have a good time. I might be laughing, but it doesn't feel real.

This might be more honesty than y'all are accustomed to from me. Frankly, it's a little more honesty than I have been comfortable sharing in the past. But I sort of feel like taking this blog in a new direction -- well, not a completely new direction -- but maybe I'll start sharing a little bit more about what's going on in this head of mine.

Don't worry. It won't be doom and gloom and serious posts all the time. But this "general malaise," as my friend Tara called it, is making me feel as though I don't want to write. It just feels like too much effort. So, I'm hoping by facing this head on, looking this whatever it is in the eye, will help me move past it.

My mom says (and I don't think this originated with her) that you're only as happy as you make up your mind to be. So, I'm trying to make up my mind to be happy. I hope you'll stick around while I'm doing it.

Speaking of Tara, she's started her own blog. It's only a few days old, but go check it out now before you have to spend weeks reading her archives! Tara is a Banshee, a divinity student, wife, mother of two precious girls, and a heck of a great friend. Go check out her blog and see Who's Driving the Bus today.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some Days Are Better Than Others

We live out in the country -- wayyyyyy out in the country -- in a county that has no leash law. This means that there are dogs running loose everywhere, including ours. Now, this hasn't really been a problem for us other than the fact that it has put a big damper on our plans to get an outdoor cat, because the dogs that roam our "neighborhood" mostly leave us and our dog alone, most probably because she's female and spayed.

There are two dogs up the road who have formed sort of a pack, a pack of two, if you will. And seeing them running around together amuses me to no end because one of the dogs is a gigantic, beautiful chocolate lab and the other is a wee little Chihuahua. Seeing them trotting down the road reminds me of that old cartoon where the little dog is hopping around all over the bigger dog and generally annoying the crap out of him, getting smacked to the wall but coming back for more, clearly idolizing the bigger dog.

Except in this case, the Chihuahua is totally the boss. You can just tell. He's a punk and I don't like him. I imagine that if he could talk, he would sound like the French soldier at the top of the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries." His name is probably Pierre or Jean-Claude or something. I know Chihuahua's hail from Mexico but this little dog is definitely French. Aha! His name is probably Napoleon. That would explain a lot, actually.

See, I know this dog's a punk because I've had "dealings" with him. One day as I drove him, I noticed a cow was out. Being the granddaughter of a dairy farmer, I know this can be a big deal. I didn't want the cow to get hit by a car and I certainly didn't want anyone to get hurt if they were to hit the cow. So, I stopped at a neighbor's house to try to determine who actually owned the cow and I was met at the end of the driveway by Mutt & Napoleon. Mutt, of whom I was actually a little afraid due to his size, walked kindly up to me and placed his paw on my leg as though to say "Whoa. What are you doing, dude?" (I was totally hearing Keanu Reeves' voice in my head). But Napoleon acted as though it was his mission in life to destroy my ankles and my eardrums simultaneously.

But that's not what pisses me off the most about him. No, what gets me is that he chases my car. He runs pell mell towards my left front tire, teeth bared, as though he could actually catch me. And though there is very small part of me that would like to squish him like a bug, every time he chases me I slam on my brakes causing everything in my front seat to slide into the floorboard and my kids to slide forward in their car seats. Every time it happens I swear that next time I'm not going to slam on my brakes and just see what happens, but I can never do it.

But the weird thing is that he doesn't do it every day. Sometimes he just watches me pass, sitting on a little knoll, with what looks almost like contentment on his face. And then there are other days that he would like to drag my car carcass into the woods for his breakfast.

And I realized just this morning, as he serenely watched me pass, that I'm the same way. Some days I feel content to watch the world go by and some days I just want to take a swipe at everything that goes up the road.

So maybe, just maybe, I'll cut him some slack. Maybe he's just having a bad day. Maybe.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Your Technilogical Assistance Required. Or Just Your Opinion.

I didn't get a chance to get on the computer last night because Mr. Daddy and I have bought a new computer and it arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, we assumed that we would be able to find our copy of Windows XP -- we just knew it was around here somewhere -- and so we bought a computer (CHEAP!) without an operating system. And then we couldn't find our our copy of Windows. Of course.

So, last night Mr. Daddy started investigating our options, including Linux, which you can download for free, 'cause you can bet your bippy I'm not paying $200 for Vista. But frankly, Mr. Daddy and I are not technically savvy AT ALL and neither of us really knows what the hell we're doing. So. We still have our old computer up but it's getting slower and slower every day. And we have this great new super-fast computer that we can't use.

Does anybody out there have a suggestion? Can you run iTunes on Linux? I know Mozilla works on it and I can live without Outlook. We don't really need Windows. Do we?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Busy Days Ahead

Sorry for the light posting. We had a busy weekend followed by what promises to be a very busy week.

Last night I attended the mandatory pre-k meeting at Punkin's new school. This is the same pre-K that Bubba attended two years ago and last night's meeting, though boring because I'd heard it all before, went much smoother and nobody shushed me. So that's an improvement right there, right?

Tonight we go back to meet Punkin's teacher, see her classroom and the all-important finding of the cubby! Everybody pleasepleaseplease hold your breath/cross your fingers/say a prayer or whatever it is you do for good luck that Punkin gets the same teacher Bubba had. She is awesome and I think she would be a great fit for Punkin and her "issues." Of course I requested her, but was quickly informed that they don't take requests. Of course they don't. Because everyone wants Ms. Anita. So on three, let's everybody hold our breath, mkay?

Punkin actually starts pre-k tomorrow, which promises to be an interesting day. It will be interesting (and I use that word very loosely) to see how the transition to a new classroom and teacher will affect Punkin and the delicate balance we have constructed with her behavior. Again with the breath holding, if you please.

Tomorrow night we go to Bubba's school to meet his teacher. Actually, let me rephrase that -- tomorrow AFTERNOON, from 3-5 specifically, we go to meet Bubba's teacher. From 3 to 5. During the work day. Fortunately for me I have a very understanding boss and I can easily take off to take Bubba to the school, but what about the parents who can't? Their kids are just shit out of luck, I guess. I don't get our school system at all. Why not at least have had it from 4-6 so that working parents would at least have a shot at getting there? Perhaps I shall offer my two cents.

And then on Thursday, Bubba starts school. So, you see, BUSY.

UPDATED TO ADD: Everybody can breathe now. WE GOT THE TEACHER WE WANTED!! YAYYY!! Yipee!! Wahoo! What a relief.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Punkin'

Where were we? Oh yeah, D-Day.

To be honest, I can't remember now if we'd already had one therapy session with the child psychologist on the day that Punkin was removed from the class -- I think we had, but honestly, the whole experience is kind of a nightmarish blur.

It's funny, because when we made the appointment, I was just absolutely sure that a child psychologist was exactly what we needed. But at every appointment we went to, I started to feel kind of silly. Talking over everything that happened iwth the therapist made me and Mr. Daddy realize that Punkin's problem really wasn't all that severe after all. In reality, she is just a high spirited child who is still maturing. Sure, she's prone to tantrums, but I soon realized that it wasn't anything we couldn't handle.

I also wanted to put the school's new plan into place, which was to transfer her participation prize into a behavior prize. The same rules apply -- she picks out a prize upon arrival in the classroom and if she meets the goals set by the teachers for the day, then she gets to keep her prize. If she melts down and has a tantrum (and she was known to melt down over things as simple as being asked to wash her hands), she'd be sent to her time out spot. If she calmed down and came back and used her words, they would consider that a success. There are basically 15 opportunities during the day -- the times they change activities -- where she can earn a success sticker and her initial goal was to be successful in only 7, which the teachers felt was a reasonable goal. The first week she earned her prize every single day but had meltdowns twice on two different days. Still, that's only two meltdowns out of fifteen opportunities!

And I am absolutely thrilled to say that this week, she hasn't melted down at all!! When I did the drop off for Mr. Daddy the other morning, Punkin's teacher raved about how good she's been, how much she's participating and said that Punkin has even volunteered to do things in class, something that was absolutely unheard of before.

Did y'all hear that rushing sound? That was the sound of a gigantic weight being lifted from my shoulders. No longer do I dread the afternoon report -- well, that's not entirely true. I think we need to get a few weeks under my belt before I rest completely easy -- but boy have things improved.

Don't get me wrong, we still have some issues at home. I have a theory that she uses up all her "good" at school and once she gets home she just can't be that good anymore, but that's okay. We're working on it. And not only is she being better behaved, but she's opening up more about her day, sharing things with us that she wouldn't share before.

And it's like I've been given the gift of my Punkin all over again. She was lost for a little while, but now she's back. And I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There Was a Little Girl, Part II

So, we changed schools and everything got better. Or so we thought. Oh sure, the afternoon teacher would occasionally report about some misbehavior, but we thought it was more about the type of teacher that she was than it was about Punkin. She seemed to relish telling us all the sordid details of Punkin's misbehavior. One day, she launched into her litany without even saying hello to Mr. Daddy (who now does the pickups and the drop offs! Woot!). Mr. Daddy fired back "Well, what did she do that was good today?" I was so proud of him.

And then that Friday, our house of cards came crashing down. I went to the class luau where I found out that Punkin's behavior had not improved at all. In fact, it sounded as though it had gotten worse! Not only was she still having tantrums on a regular basis, but she rarely participated in group activities. One day she got so upset at being asked to join in that she actually crawled under a table and cried until she almost threw up (she does that, if you remember.)

This behavior coupled with the fact that Punkin often came home and said that nobody would play with her broke my heart. Mr. Daddy and I talked it over until we were blue in the face, going round and round in circles about what we should do. I began to wonder if she suffered from some sort of social anxiety. Or maybe some kind of sensory disorder and the noise of group activities was too overwhelming for her. Or maybe it was low blood sugar? Or maybe she's just a bad kid? The last one was the one I couldn't really let myself think. It had to be one of the other ones, right? Something fixable? Or diagnosable? Maybe she just needed a good snack?

In my mind, this problem became gigantic. It took over everything else in my mind. See, the problem is that even though I like to think of myself as an optimistic person, when something goes wrong I tend to imagine the worst possible outcomes. I kept imagining her getting kicked out of her preschool, or ending up hating school because her days were so miserable. And I worried about the lack of participation. When she gets to pre-k she won't have the option to not participate. And if she doesn't participate in kindergarten she'll be labeled a problem child. If she's labeled a problem child she'll end up a juvenile delinquent. If she's a juvenile delinquent she'll be pregnant at sixteen with a drug addicted boyfriend. You see how my mind works. And no, it's not easy being me.

Eventually Mr. Daddy and I decided that we needed to see a child psychologist because I just felt like there was something wrong. It just seemed like a huge problem and I didn't know what to do anymore. Bubba was SO not this way. He is an easy child. She is not. So we made an appointment, but you know how those things go -- or maybe you don't. First you have to have an intake appointment where you tell them why you're seeking help and they ask lots of questions and you fill out some forms. It just so happened that my intake appointment was the week before July 4th, so a good bit of time passed before we heard from our psychologist.

In the meantime, Punkin's teacher made a suggestion. Although she gave out weekly rewards from the prize box, she suggested that Punkin get her very own prize box to pick from if she participated in group activities. What the heck, it was worth a shot, right? So, Punkin and I went to Party City and loaded up on all kinds of trinkets, girly and otherwise. Then we went to Michael's and picked out a hot pink and zebra striped box (seriously, y'all, she a girl after my own heart -- the wilder the better!). And on the following Monday we implemented The Plan. Upon entering the classroom she gets to pick her prize, and if she meets her participation goal then she gets to keep the prize.

Y'all. You wouldn't believe the turnaround. She immediately started participating. She even played Drop It, a game where they play music and everybody has to drop to the floor when the music stops(aka Drop It Like It's Hot, a name that amuses me more than it probably should). It was like a freakin' miracle. Who knew a bunch of plastic crap could make such a difference?

However, it began to seem that her participation was inversely proportional to her behavior. Her tantrums and her acting out actually got worse as her participation improved. And then one morning at work, my phone rang. It was the Assistant Director of the School calling to tell me that they had had to remove Punkin from the classroom because she was getting physical with her friends. If she wasn't getting her way, she was pushing and hitting.

The AD and I talked for a while about what our plan of action was going to be and then she made me talk to Punkin on the phone. When I heard her little voice on the other end, my heart just cracked right in two. I held it together until we hung up but then I just cried. I wanted nothing more than to run over there and pick her up and hold her. I wanted to take her home and hide away with her, just the two of us. I knew she was sad and confused. But I also knew that that wouldn't solve the problem.

****************************
I hate to cut this into another part, but this is seeming really long to me, so I'll finish up tomorrow. I promise there's a happy ending!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl....

...right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.

I don't know who wrote that poem, but he must have been writing about his three year old daughter. Perhaps even my three year old daughter, though that seems unlikely since I think that poem is pretty old. Still, the similarities are striking.

Back in February, I wrote this post about Punkin's tantrums at school and her lack of interest in playing with other children. At the time, I took a very laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing. She's self sufficient. She's spirited. But as the days and weeks wore on, I began to be a little more concerned. Mostly that was because every day when I would pick up Punkin from school, I would get a report, a bad report. A report detailing every transgression.

It seemed that Punkin was still not participating in group activities, and when pressed or asked to do something she didn't want to do, she'd melt down. One day another teacher even had to be called in to help calm her down. I was mortified, to be honest. And confused. She still had tantrums at home occasionally, but overall her behavior had improved. Her teacher asked me what we should do and I told her what I was doing at home: saying no only when I meant it, trying to let her do as much for herself as possible, letting her make some choices, putting her in time out for her transgressions. But apparently time-out wasn't working at school and they kept asking me what they should do.

And every day the report would come in. And every day I felt like I had an ax hanging over my head, waiting to find out what she'd done wrong that day. In the school's defense, I think they were giving me these reports because I'd asked for feedback and we were supposedly acting in concert to help solve this problem, but frankly, it was wearing. Heck, wearing? It was freakin' exhausting. And demoralizing. A lovely combo.

At the same time, I also found out that there was a little girl who was leading a "Let's hate Punkin'" gang on the playground. Yes, she actually used the word "hate." A three year old! They started out with "Let's not play with Punkin" but it somehow progressed to hate. I discussed it with the teachers and they were horrified, but because it always happened on the playground they were never able to hear her say it. I debated saying something to the little girl's parents because I knew them and I knew they would be mortified if they knew their daughter was saying such things. But I didn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it in part because there was a tiny part of me that wondered if she really had said it. I couldn't wrap my brain around the pure meanness of such behavior and I sometimes wondered if Punkin was making it up. But why would she? And where would she have heard such a thing unless it was said to her?
I've never actively disliked a child (okay, rarely have I actively disliked a child), but I have to be honest that whenever I saw this little girl on the playground I actually felt angry.

But the real reason that I didn't say anything to her parents was because I had already decided that we needed to change schools. And so we did.

And miraculously Punkin was healed and all our problems were solved! Riiiight. Not so much. But the rest of the story, my friends, will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What I Did on My Blogging Vacation

So, what have I been up to in my absence. A lot, actually.

To summarize (not necessarily in chronological order).

1. Went to the beach, twice. Once to Myrtle Beach, SC and once to St. Augustine, FL.
2. Finally met my goal weight at WW (I think y'all knew that already) and maintained for 6 weeks to attain lifetime status. I have gained a teensy bit back -- it doesn't help that yesterday I ate everything that wasn't nailed down as well as a few things that were -- but I know what I need to do to lose and so tomorrow I'll get back on the wagon. After all, tomorrow is another day, right Katie?
3. We bought a new car.
4. Bubba finished kindergarten and went to the YMCA all summer. He was elected Camper of the Week during Week 4 for his outstanding attitude.
5. We changed schools for Punkin
6. Punkin aged me by about 10 years.
7. We ended up seeing a child psychologist
8. Got together with my best friend from fourth-sixth grade (also thanks to Facebook!)
9. Bubba lost his first tooth eating a s'more while we were on vacation. And he unknowingly swallowed it. The toothfairy brought him $5(!!) for his first tooth. Mostly because that's all she had. We joked that she used her TPS (tooth positioning system) to locate the tooth way down in his belly. Bubba is convinced she went down there to get it and I didn't try to persuade him otherwise.
10. I cut off all my hair. It's shorter than I've had it in a while.
11. I finally read the Harry Potter books. Actually, to be completely accurate, you would have to say that I devoured them. I read the first two in three days and although the others did go a bit slower I read them all pretty quickly.
12. Joined a book club, though I have yet to be able to attend a meeting. I hope to rectify that tomorrow.
13. Had almost weekly lunch dates with the Banshees.
14. Tried to grow a garden -- failed miserably. Worse even than last year's carrot floss. Our ground is blighted. You try growing something in what amounts to terra cotta. While our grass did take hold somewhat, in part thanks to the VERY wet spring we had, we still have a long way to go. I figure we'll get our grass just the way we want it just in time to tear it all up while we build our house.
15. We got a new fish. That actually lived. Now we have two: Senor Pescado and Baz.

And....that's about it. I think. I've got more stories to tell when it comes to Punkin. God, I missed you guys during what I've come to call Punkin-gate 2009. Retroactive advice will, of course, be accepted.

So what have you guys been up to? And don't try to make anything up because I HAVE been checking your blogs from time to time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TLBC

So. The Banshees. Who are we and how did we get such a title?

Well, in full disclosure, the full title of our group is TLBC, aka the Twilight Lovers Banshee Club. When I reconnected with my college friend, Tara, I found a woman who loves Twilight (and New Moon and Eclipse and Breaking Dawn) as much as I did. And so did her friends, Heather and Wendi. I actually got to know Heather and Wendi first by trading Twilight-related internet links on FB. And I liked what I saw of these ladies. They had the same sense of humor that I do.

For instance, we all died laughing over the snark in Cleolinda's Twilight wiki entry and her Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn recaps (which I've linked for you there. You MUST read them if you've read the books -- they're hilarious). I mean, we all love the books, but we can appreciate the ridiculousness of the storyline to outsiders (this is called "horrifying the Twilight noob").

So anyway, we are interested in other things besides Twilight, and for Tara, one of those things happens to be the band, Kings of Leon. She found out they were going to be relatively close to us and she suggested an overnight road trip to the concert, with a day of shopping at outlets on the way home.

I somehow convinced Mr. Daddy to let me go, and we were off! This was the first real girl's trip I'd ever been on and it was so much fun. Tara's GPS found a nice little local Italian restaurant for dinner before the concert and as it happened, one of Tara's friends (I'm going to call her Susan) happened to be in the area for work and she joined us there.

Now Susan works for a fairly well known restaurant chain handling sexual harassment claims. She regaled us with some outrageous stories including one story about a manager who received, um...let's call it "special treatment" from one of his employees on his birthday. We all died laughing and Tara and Heather, in particular, have really great laughs. Not obnoxious, but exuberant. These stories, combined with the general air of gaiety brought on by our "freedom" made us a somewhat boisterous crew. For the record, we were not drinking at all and I really don't think we were being obnoxious. This wasn't a fancy pants restaurant and it wasn't particularly crowded. If I had been watching us from another table I probably would have thought "Those girls sure are having fun. I wish I had girlfriends like that."

But there was something about us that bugged a man sitting near us. Every time one of us would laugh he would give us the stink eye. Then he progressed to making very passive aggressive comments loud enough so that we could hear him. And that's when it happened. "Good grief," he sniped. "They sound like a bunch a banshees!"

And unfortunately for him, that set us off again. A couple of us (I'm not naming names but you can't bet your bippie that it wasn't nonconfrontational me!) wanted to say something to him, but he had his small daughter with him and ultimately nothing was said. I don't know what his deal was, but I'm guessing this man has some kind of issues that was so bothered by a group of women having a good time. I bet he drives some kind of flashy sports car, if you get what I'm sayin' (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Anyhoo, we didn't let it bother us and we went on to have a great time at the concert, but we have since dubbed ourselves The Banshees. I wanted to get a TLBC ring made up, kind of like Elvis' TCB lightning bolt ring but so far we haven't gotten past the design phase (which I thought I had a copy of but can now find nowhere. Oh well, it's pretty easy to recreate.)

I'll leave you with a couple of photos from the trip -- and I literally mean a couple. I took my camera and I think I took maybe one picture. Which wasn't even any good.

Here's me and Heather, rockin' out.

and here's me, Heather, and Tara before the concert (Wendi didn't actually go to the concert, she just went along with us for the good time).



And it was. A good time, I mean.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm SOOOO Grounded

Hello? (Hellllohelllohelllo)

Anybody there? (therrretherretherre)

ECHO! (echoechoechoecho)

I just checked my sitemeter for the first time in ages --- which was weird because I used to check that thing HOURLY -- and saw that there are a few of you who still check in here every now and again. And for that I am profoundly grateful.

You might ask just what the heck's been going on around here. Where have I been? Who have I been with? Just what time did I think it was anyway and couldn't I have called? Didn't they have phone where I was?

The truth is...well, the truth is that there' s not one simple answer. At first it was burnout, plain and simple. Blogging is hard work, y'all. When I first started, topics came me to daily -- nay, HOURLY! -- but as time wore on they just...didn't. Having to sit at the computer every night started to feel like work. And then everything that was going on at my actual job was burning me out even more. I had to put together my spring newsletter at the same time as the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Ceremony where we inducted 4 authors and hosted 80 people for two days. Those things combined just short circuited my brain.

And then there was Facebook. Ah, Facebook, you naughty little minx. How you seduce me with your word games, your photos of long lost classmates, your memes even! Blogging began to seem like so much work when I could say so much and get so many quick responses from my status updates.

But there was also a very unexpected result of finally sucumbing to Facebook's wiles. I found a friend. Or to be more precise, I reconnected with my one of my best friends from college. And it's been wonderful. And because of her, I now have two new friends (and she told two friends, and she told two friends). And y'all, I have been BUSY.

Blogging connected me to women at a time in my life when I didn't have any real female friends. When I started hanging out with some real live women (can't wait to see how many Google hits I get from those three words!), it fulfilled some kind of need that I had and I didn't feel the need to blog. I shared my stories with them. I went to them for advice. We've gone places! We've done stuff! And I neglected my poor little blog.

But lately I've had the itch again. To blog. There has been a LOT going on around here and we've got a lot of catching up to do -- including the telling of the story about how my three friends and I came to call ourselves The Banshees.

So, I hope you'll stick around...some more. Or come back. Or if you're new here, Welcome!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Radio Knows!!

Hellooooo.... Anybody out there?

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

I have a theory I'd like to postulate. How often a radio station plays your favorite song is inversely proportional to how much you'd like to hear it. However, my companion theory is that songs you hate will be played on a nonstop loop. Yes Single Ladies, What About Now and Kristy, Are you Doing Okay, I'm talking to YOU.

And for those of without iPods (or even a generic mp3 player), this can be maddening. I recently fell in love with a song. This song, to be exact (I'd embed the video but I can't). I didn't listen to it for ages because, to be honest, I doubted I would like a song by a band named The Airborne Toxic Event. It sounded too...toxic. But then I listened to the song and I was hooked. And guess what? Now they NEVER play it.

And then just two days ago I heard a new song by Manchester Orchestra that was touted as the newest of the new. So I listened. And I liked it. Have I heard it since? No, no I haven't. In case you want to hear it, it's here. Also, I just found out they're from Atlanta. I also just found that their album doesn't drop until the 21st, so maybe I'll hear the song more in the coming weeks. Kewl, as Punkin would say.

Do you have any theories, conspiracy or otherwise, that you've come up with? Share.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alert the Media

A momentous event occurred in my house this week. We threw away our last pull up. Punkin, at three and half years old, is now sleeping without a pull up at night. That means that for the first time in over 6 years, nobody in my house is wearing a diaper or a pull up. Wow.

While I'm thrilled that we no longer have that expense, what it really means is that there are no babies in my house anymore. And while I do enjoy that, it is definitely bittersweet.

I didn't really feel sad when I gave away my maternity clothes. And I only felt a small twinge of sadness when we sold the crib that both my kids slept in. But this, this is surely proof that there are no more babies. That they are growing up.

I remember someone once told me that as parents we always celebrate the firsts with our children -- first smile, first steps, first words. But we don't often recognize the lasts -- last bottle, last diaper, last time they sit in your lap. But that feels too sad. Too backward looking. I'm enjoying the people that my children are becoming. I loved them as babies, but I relish in their peoplehood. So, I'm going to try not to be too sad about no more pull-ups. We're moving on. To bigger and better things.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Still Kickin'

Rumors of my demise are greatly exxagerated. Just not feeling very bloggy these days. And now it' s become one of those things that I kind of feel guilty about...neglecting my poor little blog. But Mr. Daddy told me that I should at least let you guys know what's up, in case you're worried.

I'm fine. Just not very inspired.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sixty Hours. And Counting.

Y'all.

I have now been 60 hours without power and no idea when we'll have it back. They say today, but I no longer trust "the man."

Sixty hours without power at my house means 60 hours without water because our well is electrically powered. Sixty hours without water means, for those of you playing along at home, 60 hours without toilets. Yeeeeah.

On Sunday when the snow started to fall, I was ecstatic. When the kids were having their first real snowball fight I was thrilled. When I gave them their first taste of snow ice cream, you couldn't have made me any happier. And when the power initially went off, my pioneer spirit kicked into gear. We bundled up. We read stories by the booklight that Bubba gave me for Christmas. We piled into beds together and told stories and sang songs. And at 8:00 p.m., we went to sleep.

My pioneer spirit started to wane when we woke on Monday to still no power, which meant NO COFFEE, but more importantly, still no toilets. Oh you can use them, you just can't flush them. Yeeeeah.

By Monday afternoon, I'd had enough. There is only so long that four people can use two toilets without flushing them, ya know what I'm sayin'? So we went to a hotel. And THAT my friends, was probably the best $79 I've ever spent.

Both kids were out of school yesterday and we had nowhere to go. So we went to Starbucks, then to Barnes & Noble (where FADKOG will be pleased to know that I purchased TWO books for use of their train table for an hour). We went to Old Navy. I even took both of them to my office for an hour. We finally went to my mom's house after we learned her power had been restored, and made plans to sleep there last night in case our power still wasn't on.

It wasn't. And still isn't. Bubba's school is still closed because most of our county is still without power. THANK GOD Punkin's school was open today or you might have heard my head explode from wherever you are. We have crap strewn from hither to yon and my car looks like we've been living in it -- which is actually starting to seem like a good plan.

I've heard different rumors about the power situation -- that our power will be on today or that we won't have power until Friday. Yesterday on my way back to my mom's from my house where I was picking up a fresh change of clothes for everyone, I saw about 8 power trucks parked outside a local restaurant (that DOES have power, for the record.) I pulled over to inquire about the ETA of electricity for my neighborhood. I was polite, but I felt like screaming at them "NO EATING, ASSHOLES! BACK TO WORK!!"

So. Here I am. At work, which is actually sweet relief. Pray for me. Or send alcohol. Or both.

Updated to add: Power was restored around 2:30 this afternoon, thank God. I've spent the evening tossing an entire refrigerator's worth of just purchased food and doing a boatload of laundry. Good times, good times. But at least I'm home.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow!

Real! Live! Snow! At our house!





Monday, February 23, 2009

All Signs Point to Yes

You know, I've discovered another one of those secrets that other parents do not tell you before you have children of your own. And it was, and continues to be, quite a shock. I had no idea how often I would feel like I have no idea what in the hell I'm doing.

Sure, there have been times when I've trusted my gut and I turned out to be right about something, but there have been many, many more times where I've worried myself sick about whether the path I've chosen is the right one.

Bubba's eating habits -- his pickiness, to be precise, was one of my first worries. But those, for the most part, have straightened themselves out. I make what I make and he's required to eat some of it, but he doesn't have to clean his plate. But he doesn't get anything else either.

But it's dealing with Punkin, particularly here lately, that I wonder if I've lost all my skills. I'm constantly questioning whether my course of action in dealing with her temper tantrums are the best path. Her strong will feels like it's breaking mine. And I don't know what to do. I try to let her do for herself as much as I can but there are times when I simply must take charge and she often will just go beserk. We just had one of our bedtime go-rounds and right now I'm feeling frazzled, unhappy and very unsure of myself.

In addition to all this, we're now faced with the decision about whether to start her in pre-k in the fall. Her birthday is the day before the cut-off date, but because school starts so freakin' early around here, she'll still be three when she starts pre-k. And frankly, I'm not sure that's a good idea. She's definitely smart enough, but I really worry about her emotional maturity. I spoke to her teacher today who seemed to think that it would be a good idea to go ahead and start her, but she went on to warn me that we need to keep in the back of our minds that the possibility could exist that because she's starting early she might have to repeat a grade at some point. She said that this was only a possibility -- but sheesh! I feel like repeating a grade, even a very early grade will stigmatize her.

Ugh. My brain is tired from just thinking about it. I just wish that sometimes I could appoint someone else to make all my decisions for me. Any body interested in helping me? The pay is crap, but I can give you some wine and I bet we'll have a pretty good time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maybe Those Experts Know What They're Talking About

I'm feeling better today, thanks for asking. Not so grouchy, though this morning did not start off well. Also, I'm supremely busy at work right now with our biggest event of the year coming up, plus my newsletter is due in two weeks and I'm not feeling quite as good about this one as I have the others.

BUT, I just got back from my exercise class and I'm feeling pretty good. Must be those endorphins everybody's always talking about. I, frankly, had never encountered them before. When I was running (very briefly) in college, I kept waiting for that runner's high you hear so much about. I never did find that mythical beast, just the shakes after I finished my first 5K.

But when I get home from my exercise class I feel like I could do anything. I have the urge to fight the piles of crap that are lying everywhere. The pile of folded clothes mocks me! I want to take on the world! But unfortunately (fortunately?) it's late and there's only so much I can get done. Also, here I am blogging when I could be sweeping. Oh well.

Anyway, I fully credit this class with helping me reach my goal weight. Back in January I was .4 pounds (that's point four pounds, not four pounds) away from goal. The next week I was EXTRA good. I didn't count my points, but I'm pretty good now with figuring out what I need to eat to lose/maintain. I didn't even eat our Friday night pizza that week. And when I went in on January 19th for my weigh in, I fully expected to be at or below goal. But when I stepped on the scale, I had GAINED .8 pounds. Which now meant that I had to lose 1.2 pounds to meet goal!!

My leader told me not to get discouraged, but I did. I basically went on a bender for the next two weeks, eating pretty much whatever I wanted. And I felt my jeans start to get tight. And I got really pissed at myself. So, I signed up for this class because usually when I'm exercising I try to eat well so that I don't undo all my hard work. If I'm going to have to sweat off the calories, it makes me think twice about what I put in my mouth.

Also, I'm going to be 37 this year. Thirty-seven! That year is significant for me because that is how old my grandmother was when she died (in 1940). That is young, y'all. I can remember when my own mother turned 37 she started running and I can now understand this compulsion for health. You want to feel alive. You want to do everything you can to stay alive, to be healthy, to increase your odds of a long life. To see your babies grow up.

So, I get back on the wagon. I watch what I eat. I am (finally) exercising. And I feel good.

Now, let me go tackle that load of laundry.