Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Undercover Librarian, Part Deux

Yes, I have one chapter more in the group novel. This one probably reflects the massive amount of Tess Gerritsen that I read in 2011. It's not as good, mind you, but consider it a loving homage to one of my favorite suspense writers.

Anyhoo, you can find my chapter here. If you'd like to start at the beginning, go here. There are all kinds of $5 Amazon prizes up for grabs, and the odds are in your favor because so many folks are out of town or out of pocket this time of year. There's a grand prize of a $25 Amazon card or a Petit Fours cookbook for one lucky winner who has commented on all of the above.

Did I mention that this group novel is a FREE read?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Undercover Librarian

Over at the Petit Fours, we like to write group novels from time to time. This year's offering is about a librarian who gets psychic imprints from the books she handles. It's a cozy mystery for those who like whodunnits, and I had the good fortune of writing Chapter 4. You can find it here.

Be sure to stop by and leave comments on all of the days before and, of course, today. Then keep right on going if you'd like to win an Amazon gift card. Well, and you'll win my eternal gratitude if you hop on over and read the chapter I wrote. I had a lot of fun writing that one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

C'mon, Let Us Adore Him

Each Christmas we discover something new. Considering how many songs are repeated, how many ornaments are the same, and how many traditions are reenacted, finding the new is nothing short of miraculous. This year? We've found the Lou Rawls Christmas album which, I promise you, is unlike any Christmas album you've heard before. Check it out. Put his version of O Come All Ye Faithful into Pandora. You will get into the Christmas spirit.

Also, we have a new Nativity tradition. Ryan and I have always included some interesting characters who've come to see the baby Jesus. Our scene has often looked like this:

This year, however, we've added a second Nativity scene, a creation of Her Majesty:

That's right! We now have a Nativity/Disney debutante ball.

Oh, well. As long as we all remember who's in the center of the scene, I suppose.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fun with Cemeteries, Part II

This gorgeous view of Shiloh Military Cemetery came from Wikipedia.
I have at least one relative buried here. Chances are, you do, too.
When last we left the American cemeteries, rural ones were all the rage. Now many of those rural cemeteries are getting overcrowded and facing many of the same problems their urban counterparts did. Where monuments used to be nestled in picturesque landscaping, monuments have now taken over the landscaping. Enter Adolph Strauch. He made plans to transition these cemeteries to more of an organized lawn plan. He placed limitations on marker size and took out many of the trees and shrubs in order to give cemeteries a more open feel.

Aside from the changes to the cemetery landscape, the entire business of death was becoming more commercialized. Here are some interesting points about death and cemeteries from Sloane's book The Last Great Necessity. These have been gleaned from his chapters on the years 1855-1917:

  • Cemetery management at this time passed from a sexton or a caretaker to a superintendent. Superintendents had more authority than sextons or caretakers, having the ability to limit monument size and alter landscape--this marks a change from when families decided the where, when, and how of burial.
  • Strauch's changes meant that more and more cemeteries would require horticulturalists and engineers rather than relying on amateurs. (Note from moi: none of these changes necessarily apply to rural church cemeteries. Strauch is writing almost exclusively about larger metropolitan areas at this point.)
  • "By the end of the 1870s, all cemeteries used annual-care fees, bequests, and perpetual-care payments as means of increasing their income." This change is going to pave the way for cemeteries as businesses run for profit and, of course, the abuses that come from greed.
  • Did you know that the mechanical lawn mower was patented in England in 1830? You can imagine how much easier that made cemetery maintenance, and it also raised the standards of what was expected from cemeteries.
  • The movement from rural cemetery to lawn cemetery mirrored the reform movement of the late 1800s when Americans were also trying to put order to the urban explosion of their cities. There was also a generalized movement toward specialization which, in the case of death and dying, meant that "nurses and doctors cared for the living, morticians handled the dead, and cemetery superintendents beautified the grave." Interestingly enough, many immigrants resisted these changes, still feeling that death was to be handled within the family.
  • The Civil War impacted death and dying in many ways. One, embalming became popular as a way of getting deceased soldiers back to their families. Also, large numbers of dead required national cemeteries, cemeteries that reinforced America's sense of democracy as well as Strauch's vision of an uncluttered landscape by having uniform tombstones in neat rows with little landscape to intercede.
  • At the same time, urban reforms meant more parks. Understandably, Americans started to frolic in these urban parks rather than in the rural cemeteries they had used before.
  • And a side note from Jeanne Holder, she came across "tiered lots" whereby Victorians priced lots in a manner similar to which theater seats were sold. The most expensive ones were high on a hill facing east so the deceased would be able to better witness the coming of God. The cheap seats, if you will, were at the bottom of a hill facing west. (Side note: one of the Memorial Parks on Whitlock has almost all of its graves on a hill facing east. Coincidence? I think not.)
And I'm going to stop there. The next section is on the "Professionalism of the Process of Death," which is at the heart of my next novel. We'll spend some quality time there. In the meantime, I'm glossing over a lot of work so if you want to find out more, check out The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History by David Sloane

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fun with Cemeteries, Part I

I borrowed this picture of Mount Auburn from here. A talented photographer named Svadilfari took it--check out his photostream here
I feel like a real writer now. I'm querying one book, writing another, and researching a third. I've always loved research, so this is a great deal of fun. Of course, it remains to be seen if anyone other than me finds my current topic as fascinating as I do.

Here are a couple of gems I've gleaned from The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History by David Charles Sloane:

  • Early American funerals were communal events. Family members prepared the body, dug the grave, informed the neighbors, put together a small service--the whole bit. At that point clergy usually attended the funeral as a mourner rather than "officiating." Usually, the wake ended up being akin to a big party complete with food, drink, and gossip. (Not all that different from my Southern funeral home experience aside from the drink. Come to think of it, a little nip might have been in order...)
  • In cities, the deceased were usually buried in a church graveyard or a potter's field. On the frontier, families had to create their own graveyards--usually on a high hill.
  • In the late 18th century, the old Colonial graveyards fell into disfavor. For one thing, they were becoming overcrowded AND continually being moved as cities grew. Also, people began to fear that diseases from the dead. Finally, there were vandalism and upkeep issues--two things that plague cemeteries today.
  • Because these in-town graveyards were falling out of favor, the rural cemetery, a pastoral place on the outskirts of town, was born. Mount Auburn Cemetery (estb. 1831) was "on strikingly beautiful terrain...[and] promised to provide a pleasant botanical tour, a local and national historical museum, and an arboretum, all on grounds that provided space for the burial of generations of area residents." (If you haven't been there, it's quite lovely)
  •  Mount Auburn, the first of its kind was a pattern for several national cemeteries including Oakland in Atlanta. (I haven't been, and they have walking tours! Field trip, anyone?)
Photo of Oakland taken from their official site
  • Part of this change in burying habits seeped into the nomenclature itself. The word cemetery comes from the Greek for "sleeping chamber." As Sloane says, "rural cemeteries were different than previous burial places, and their founders believed that they deserved a distinct name. Cemetery contained the suggestion of death as sleep, a transition from life to eternal life, which was more in keeping with America's emerging optimistic religion and exuberant nationalism."
  • The best part? These rural cemeteries were incredibly popular. People gathered there not just for graveside services or for quietly remembering the dead but also for relaxing, taking a walk, family gatherings, and just about everything else. After all, these rural cemeteries were some of the first "planned landscapes" open to the public. 
  • These first cemeteries were a place to remember community and to BE a community. As Sloane says so eloquently, "the rural cemetery became the American resting place for the living as well as the dead."
Stay tuned for part two in the evolution of American cemeteries...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Myth of the Glamorous Writer

Most people think writers look like this

But, in my experience, on any given day, a writer actually looks like this

Monday, October 24, 2011

And Now the Purple Dusk of Twilight Time...

Oh, I am wading into dangerous waters. On my fourth attempt, I am actually reading Twilight. Instead of reading the whole thing and leaving a conventional review, I thought I'd post my comments as I went along. This particular post will refer to pages 1-57. First and foremost I had trouble getting into this book for a lot of reasons:

1. I taught high school for 8 years. If Bella Swan had been in my class I would have wanted to smack her for her snotty attitude and for constantly hiding behind her hair. And what's with the melodrama of "my exile to Forks"?
2. As a writer I'm righteously indignant that Stephanie Meyers got to keep her vague Prologue. You know, the one they tell all the rest of us to cut out?
3. There's a lot of emphasis on that truck of hers. Then here comes the hero with a last name of Cullen. You know what that means....I'm trying to read this book and all I can hear in my head is

And that, combined with Bella's original disdain for said truck then reminds me of this updated gem from my high school days....

Okay, so once I got past the truck thing and the whiny teenager thing, I had to get real. One of my friends asked me if this was going to be a "love post" or a "barf post;" so far, I stick with my answer that it's more of an "I'm bemused by this entire phenomenon" post. A couple of things actually kept me reading. First, Bella's description of the biology room really took me back to my own biology class. Second, she dislikes math and can't play volleyball without getting injured--I can't either, so I decided to stick with her just a little longer. Third, as a writer I have to admit Meyers has asked some questions I want to answer. No, I'm not talking about how vampires sparkle, either.

So, sure, Bella's melodramatic. And, sure, Edward Cullen is no Angel, but I'll stick with it just a little longer. If I can just get those damned truck commercials out of my head!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dream Interpretation Time!

All last weekend I kept having these dreams where things would start to go my way then inexplicably go sour. Inevitably, I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling restless. One dream in particular stuck with me because I was in the middle of it when the alarm went off. Okay, amateur--or professional--dream interpreters, see if you can help me figure out what my subconscious is all about.

Ryan comes home excited about this great deal he's seen on a new house. (And this is partially how you know this is a dream because Ryan does not want to move. And neither do I) I reluctantly agree to go with him to check out this gem of a house on the other side of Kennesaw. We wind through town to the countryside (further proof this is a dream) to find a cute little ranch on a ton of acreage. We park in the looped driveway and enter the open house.

Okay, so there's a bathtub in the living room. Yes, a bathtub. Then the kitchen is tiny, but that's because there are two of them, almost identical galleys with the oven opening into the same space the refrigerator would open into. At the point the agent points out that the house belonged to twins so there had to be two of everything. I look at her like she has lost her mind.

As I walk through the house it becomes exponentially larger, kinda like the fourth Harry Potter where they walk into the tent and there's all that space. I start seeing possibilities and thinking that it's a real steal for $130,000. I keep thinking we could flip this place and make a ton of cash, and in the meantime, the kids would be able to have a playroom. I'm walking through and count at least 6 huge bedrooms, all with king-sized beds. No space is wasted--one of the bedrooms is up at the top of the stairs underneath the eave of the house with a bathroom on one side and a twin bed on the other. Remember this tiny space with the toilet at the top of the stairs because we'll come back to it later.

I'm practically sold on the place and already thinking of knocking down the wall between the twin kitchens to make one larger one and, of course, taking the tub out of the living room when the agent takes me down to the basement. It's huge! And finished! And they're installing hardwood floors in the three massive ballrooms down there. Then she takes me through the secret passage (too much Clue?) to the optometrist's office at the bottom of the cliff. Apparently, one of the twins had married an optometrist, and he preferred to walk through the earth's core to get to work. I don't know.

So, I'm getting totally enthusiastic about the house. I don't know where Ryan is. I think he must have dropped me off. Then I go back upstairs and step out on the back porch, which is huge with columns and overlooks the ocean. I'm sold at that point, and I'm going to get that house no matter what. Because, hey, let's fact it: there aren't that many ocean view homes in landlocked Kennesaw, GA. I turn to the agent and say, we'll take it.

And that's when things start falling apart.

First, a cop comes in to give me a parking ticket. For parking in what will soon be my own driveway. I argue with him until he sees how inane the whole thing is, and he goes away.

Then, once the house is mine (because the closing process in dreams is apparently light years quicker than in real life) the son of the former owner busts in with a gun wanting money. I someone console and cajole him out of actually robbing us but tell him he can have the proceeds of our next rummage sale, including what he would make from selling the extra tub. (Apparently, I really wanted to get that tub out of the living room)

Then I'm walking outside, taking in the sea breeze when the ocean starts encroaching on my beautiful neoclassical portico. Even though the house was originally on a cliff. The water is coming and sharks with arrows poking in their backs start circling over to the side even as water laps across the porch. I run for the house, but I had accidentally left the windows open, and the sharks come in with the water. Then I run upstairs for the tiny bedroom/bathroom thinking the sharks can't climb the stairs. And so sharks can't, but wolves can, and the sharks are turning into wolves. Blessedly the pink decor behind the toilet has suddenly become a wall of a hundred different guns. I take one down and start shooting, but I run out of bullets as the last wolf approaches, and he morphs into a man, a man who looks an awful lot like The Comedian, from the Watchmen graphic novel. He's coming for me. But I'm out of bullets. I'm backed into the toilet with the fuzzy cover.....

And the alarm goes off.

Someone please explain this to me. This can't possibly be a normal dream. This one is almost as bad as the Heavenly Hash dream from back in the day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Possible Dance Songs

I love to dance. Around my house where no one can see me. Because I'm all alone, that means I have no clue what's popular in the clubs. Here's your chance to help me out. Take a look at my list and make suggestions to add or take away. Keep in mind that this is for the M&M conference, so we have a wide range of age groups and a variety of tastes. I gotta try to keep it pretty clean. If you have request, please let me know why it should be added or why it should be taken away. Oh, and heaven help the poor DJ who will be weaving these songs together!

Dances with instructions (for the uncoordinated--like me!)

Electric Slide
Cupid shuffle
Cha cha slide
(No. I'm not doing the Chicken dance. Sorry.)

The Twist
Dancing in the Street
Land of 1000 Dances
Mustang Sally

We are Family
Last Dance—Donna Summer
Get Down tonight or That’s the Way (I Like it)
Brick  House
Shake your Groove Thing            
Dancing Queen
It’s Raining Men

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Bust a Move
My Prerogative
Call Me
Hey Micky
Walk this Way
I’m so Excited
Push it
You Spin me Round (Like a Record)
Love Shack
Into the Groove

Groove is in the Heart
Good Vibrations
Jump Around
Gonna Make you Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
Like a Prayer
Baby Got Back

Fly like a G-6
Independent Women
I Gotta Feelin
Single Ladies
Bad Romance
So What
Tik Tok
Til the World Ends or I Wanna Go from Britney
Empire State of Mind

Friends in Low Places—token country song (I know, I know. “I feel no shame, I was born and raised in the Boondocks” but that’s not the kind of dancing we’re going to be doing here)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Again, Let me Reiterate, I'm not Dead Yet!

So about that whole New Year's Resolution to have a blog post every week....

Well, I'm in the last two weeks before Moonlight & Magnolias, and this is my last run-through as conference co-chair. I'll be revisiting that commitment and hopefully doing a better job. Honestly, the kids alone provide me with PLENTY of material. I have a story jotted down on the back of an envelope somewhere to remind me to write a post about how my 9-year-old was throwing around the word "simpatico."

In the meantime, here are a few of my greatest hits from Petit Fours and Hot Tamales and The Healthy Writer:

Her Majesty's Christmas List
Getting my OM on
My First Day of School All Over Again
I Got Ripped
Adventures in Attempted Productivity
Er, Don't Take my Breath Away?
Just a Space Cadet from the Writer's Block
Back to School....Already?

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Tale of Twenty Trash Cans

So, really there are only four, but here's a story that falls under the category of "stuff I can't make up--and I'm a writer."

I don't know about you, but I've been through about as many sanitation companies as mortgage companies. My business keeps getting sold to another company--whether I like it or not. Let's see if you can keep up. I started with Sanitech, and we had a lovely relationship for several years. Then they were bought out by Waste Industries, a company who doesn't like to answer their phones. Finally, I switched to Liberty because they would do recycling AND give a kickback to my son's school. I was quite pleased with them, only to have them bought out by American Disposal.

Then, one day, a gentleman from CycleWorks shows up and offers to give me the same service for $22 less. I said sure. Of course, then I had to go through the hassle of canceling with American. (In their defense, they were very nice on the phone.) Keep in mind that I have had these four trash cans on my front porch for a month now because I went to Hawaii and didn't have time to cancel one before the other started.

Here's where things get fun: on THE day I finally cancel American, yet ANOTHER sanitation person shows up on my doorstop. She shows up at suppertime, so picture me at the door still holding a head of romaine lettuce that I was in the process of washing. She looks at the four trash cans and then to me. "Uh, you seem to have a little trash problem here." I think she lit up with the possibility that I had some type of home business that created tons of trash. Maybe she could sell me a double contract!

Then SHE offers me a contract for even $10 less than CycleWorks. I took her card and thanked her, though, because I haven't even received a bill from my current company yet. Besides, her company? Waste Industries.

Apparently, Kilpatrick trash is such valuable trash that people are fighting over it. Some companies even miss it. Any hope I could get a few maid services to fight over cleaning my house?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Death of Feminism?

Her Majesty likes to disappear.

I usually start looking in all of the places she shouldn’t be, and I almost always find her in front of my make up drawer. This morning, she has slipped away and I find her poised in front of the open drawer running her fingers against the end of a large brush.

“What are you doing?” I know the answer, but for some reason motherhood requires I ask the question anyway.

“Making my eyes pretty,” she says with a grin.

I put her glasses back on and pick her up to better examine her eyes. “But your eyes are already pretty. You don’t need make up.” I twirl her for good measure and place her back on the floor.

She points proudly to her left eye. “But this one is prettier because I put the pink stuff on it. I like the pink stuff.”

I sigh. “I know you like the pink stuff, but are you supposed to be in my make up?”


I usher her out of the bathroom, through the bedroom and into the hall where she turns to look at me. “You forgot to put your make up on!”

“Maybe I don’t want to put on make up.”


“Maybe make up is based on the needs of a now defunct patriarchal society but advertized as a necessity in order to drive up sales for a product I don’t really need.”

She considers this for a minute. “But it would make you prettier. Maybe if you added a little lipstick…”

And it’s moments like these where, for just a moment, I think I’m having a conversation with my mother instead of my daughter. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

4 Reasons Why You Should Sign up for M&M 2011 Right Now!

1. Our Keynote speaker is Eloisa James. She's a NYT Bestseller 12 times over and a USA Today Bestseller 16 times over. She also graduated from Harvard, which I think is pretty darn cool. If you haven't read any of her work, you can also get a copy of Duchess in Love for $1.99 in e-book format. Click here to learn more.

2. Our GRW Featured Speaker is Karen White, also a NYT Bestseller. In fact, she has a book out right now, The Beach Trees. She has another book, The House on Tradd Street, which I think is really cool--especially now that I've been on Tradd Street.

3. Our Special Craft Speaker is Leigh Michaels. She's written over 100 different books, including Just One Season which was just compared to Jane Austen.  Find out more here. She also has a book on the craft of writing romance called On Writing Romance.

4. We could run out of space this year. Yes, that's right. Registration is hopping along.  Hotel rooms at the discounted rate are almost gone.  Pretty soon we're going to have to take the fire code into consideration.  People, you want to be here to hear these 3 talented ladies in addition to all of our other awesome workshop presenters and the opportunity to pitch to some of the best editors and agents in the business.  If you don't believe me check out the workshop schedule and the editors and agents who will be here this year.

Register fast! And make those hotel reservations even faster!

We can't wait to see you at M&M this year!

P.S. Whatever you do, don't click on the next post.
P.P.S. Okay, so go ahead and click on the next post. It's funny. My daughter did that. I'm a writer, and I can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Caption Contest!

I can't resist. Take a look at what I stumbled upon in Her Majesty's doll house and feel free to whip up a caption.  Try to keep it at least a little PC!  (Winner gets...uh, bragging rights or possibly a beer if we run into each other in the next year or so)

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Came. I Saw. I Waxed.

All women of child-bearing age know that nothing good ever comes of being led to a small room with a paper-covered tabled and being told, “Strip from the waist down.”

Okay, so that’s no entirely true, but I have to say that waxing is not for the faint of heart.  Instead, it’s about weighing your options: a) using a razor and/or cream and having horrible razor burn for 2-3 days only to have to repeat the process in less than 5, or b) experiencing several flashes of debilitating pain for just under 30 minutes with only 1 day of razor burn and at least 2 weeks of not having to shave the bikini area. I got about a week on the underarms and legs—that’s it. (Of course, there’s always option c: go hairy and dare someone to make something of it. I have seriously considered this option on more than one occasion)

But you wanted to know more of the gritty details, didn’t you?

I went Brazilian Wax by Andreia, the location just off Roswell Road by the Harry’s. They are lovely ladies, and it was all very professional. You can get a whole body wax for $65 or so. That doesn’t mean they dip you in wax, rather that you can wax as much as you’d like. I passed on the upper lip since I had more pressing concerns.

Would I do it again? I can’t afford to go once a month, which is what she recommended for maintenance. That said, I would absolutely consider another visit before a long trip that would require swim suits. Thirty minutes of pain far outweighs the hassle of having to shave or the subsequent razor burn. Surprisingly, only a few curse words were involved, although I did call for help from a higher power more than once.

A few things I wish I’d known:
  • You are expected to leave a tip. Duh. I did leave a tip, but I hadn't budgeted for it.
  • When she suggests the back of the legs, you should probably go for that.
  • And this one's really important:  a Brazilian is the whole enchilada. You can instruct your aesthetician to do something a little different, but if you ask for a Brazilian, you need you know what you’re getting yourself into.

I lived to tell the tale—anyone swayed to give it a try?

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Wax or Not to wax...And We're Not Talking Floors

Ladies....well, and qualified gentlemen, I have a question.  Should I wax pertinent areas before heading to Hawaii?  Please keep in mind that having my eyebrows done with thread brought tears to my eyes.  Anyhoo, I hate shaving, but I think every day in Hawaii is bathing suit day, and I don't want to have to deal with it.  What are your thoughts?  Underarms? Bikini? Legs? All of the above? None of the above?  I don't even know how much this costs, recovery time, how long it lasts, etc.  Basically I am an uneducated soul and could use your advice.

I'll go ahead and say thank you in advance....oh, and I'll probably end up blogging about it if I get it done.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Her Majesty and the Royal Wedding

So, I had no intention of watching the Royal Wedding.

Once upon a time, I was involuntarily roused at o'dark thirty to see the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di.  I also saw Andrew and Fergie's wedding.  In the interest of curtailing divorce among the Royals, I felt it would be best if I left William and Kate alone.  To tell you the truth, I had forgotten all about it.

Her Majesty requested one of her favorite programs, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That, or as she likes to say, The Hat in the Cat.  I dutifully turned to PBS only to discover they were covering the Royal Wedding--I'm guessing it was a replay.  Her Majesty says, "What's that?"

"The Royal Wedding.  Do you want to go back to the Disney Channel?"

"No! I want The Hat in the Cat!"

I bite my tongue to keep from commenting on how that arrangement must be painful for the cat.  "Sweetie, they've pre-empted the cartoons to cover the Royal Wedding."

"But why?"

"Because there are a lot of people who want to see it."

"But why?"

"Know how we don't have kings and queens in the United States?"


"Great Britain still has a king and a queen, and one of the princes is getting married.  People see it as a sort of fairy tale.  Kinda like watching Ariel's wedding to Prince Eric or Tiana's wedding to Prince Naveen."

"I'd rather see The Hat in the Cat."

"Your dissent is duly noted.  How about Little Einsteins instead?"

No answer.  Only an impressive royal pout.  Apparently, the only Royal Wedding that's going to matter to Her Majesty will be her own.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Hobbit Joins our Absurdist Musical

This morning I decided to take The Hobbit to school because he needed to take an AR Test.  I knew he was feeling feisty because he threatened me with a banana saying, "It's loaded, and I know how to use it...okay, not really.  I don't know how to fire a banana."  I gave him my patented Mom-has-not-had-coffee-yet look, and he beat a hasty retreat to the car. 

We hadn't even reached the end of the subdivision before he decided to go all philosophical on me asking, "Which do you like better, original Tron or Tron Legacy?"  To my credit, I actually tried to think about his question.  But I failed.  So I gave him the answer for every question at that point of the morning:  Coffee.

Immediately, my nine-year-old started singing a song to the tune of Ernie's "Rubber Duckie;"

Mommy's coffee, you're the one.  You make Mommy lots of fun.  Mommy's coffee, I'm awfully fond of boop be doo..."

Coffee or no, I had to smile at that.  I may even start singing it--once I've finally had that cup of coffee.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Apocalypse is Nigh, or What Happened as I Put the Dawdlekids to Bed

I should have known I was in for an interesting evening when brother and sister hunched around the trash can to peel their clementines together.  While humming Stars and Stripes Forever at the top of their respective lungs.  Another clue I was currently residing in an alternate universe centered on how Her Majesty has been singing a variety of songs to the tune of the Peaches and Herb classic: Shake Your Groove Thing.  We started with “It’s April Fool’s Day, April Fool’s Day…yeah,yeah” and progressed to “I am awesome, I am awesome..yeah, yeah” to “Take my shoes off, take my shoes off…yeah,yeah.”  It is possible I have exposed my children to entirely too much disco.  I blame Pandora.

Anyhoo, the littlest one took her turn at Just Dance and went to the bathroom willingly only to request a “manzana” immediately after her bath.  How better to stall a former Spanish teacher than to demonstrate you’ve learned a new word in Spanish?  I, of course, caved and let her have an apple.  The Hobbit fixed his own cereal then went to the bathroom with considerably more prodding.  He, of course, had to see a man about a horse.  Why equine negotiations can’t take place at another time of day, I don’t know.  I suppose I could scout out the stables to see if the deal was legit, but I really didn’t want to.  By the time he emerged, I was trying to dry Her Majesty’s hair.  At this point, he had to poke his little sister until she giggled causing her to move around and making it very hard to dry her hair.  Even better, the two of them started singing her rendition of You are My Sunshine. You know, the one that includes the verse “you smack me happy when skies are gray.”  Much playful smacking ensued.

I threatened him to within an inch of his life and he jumped in the shower, but I still had to brush Her Majesty’s teeth.  While I wrestled with the toothpaste cap, she flung back the shower curtain to hear her brother squeal like a girl.  At some point anti-Justin Bieber sentiment was also expressed.  Why that came up in the bathroom, I’ll never know.  

Now, here’s the kicker:  before she went to bed, Her Majesty WILLINGLY started picking up toys without being asked.  Again, it’s really late and she needs to be in bed, but what am I supposed to say?  Quit cleaning your room? I think not.  I have prayed for this day.  I had not, however, prayed she would be singing Rick Astley as she cleaned.  (If you haven’t seen Beaker as Rick Astley, you really must) Just as I get her settled into bed, the Hobbit emerges wearing nothing but a towel and shouting “To-ga party! To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!”  I have to chase him from the room amidst Her Majesty’s giggles.  In retrospect, I probably should have at least paused to complement him on his creative over-the-shoulder fastening of said toga/towel, but I guess I’m just not a good mother.

By that point, I knew I needed to write all of this down so I came in and started to type.  I realized it was quiet.  Too quiet.  I went to turn off The Hobbit’s light, and he asks oh-so politely, “Can I please finish the last chapter?”  Foiled again!  Not only am I sucker for reading, but he’s reading a classic—The Time Machine—and he knows I know he needs to take more AR tests at school.  So here I am typing while he is finishing his chapter.  Here I go to hopefully put the last Dawdlekid to bed….

And, miraculously, he has finished the book and is ready for bed.  It’s 9:08, at least 30 minutes later than when the two of them should be in bed.  If anyone had told me having children would be, at times, akin to living in an episode of The Muppet Show, I would have laughed in her face.  But I would have been wrong.

And if you think this is some kind of elaborate April Fool’s joke, you, too, are wrong.  I’m a writer, and I can’t make this sh*t up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And She Turned into Her Mother...

Anybody else see the skit where Julia Sweeney is getting ready to go out and starts lapsing into her mother?  I was hoping to be ultra cool and put a video of the skit here, but it's not on YouTube.  I'm going to stop and let that sink in for a moment.  Yep, I'm so old I'm referencing a 1992 SNL skit that is NOT on You Tube.

Anyhoo, the episode includes Sweeney lapsing into a voice reminiscent of "Pat" about needing "a nice pant suit."  Her husband looks at her askance, and they play the dramatic music followed by, "And she turned into her mother..."

Earlier this week, I was trying to psyche myself up to clean the house.  I actually changed into workout clothes and stopped to put on my tennis shoes.  I paused at the foot of the bed and muttered to myself, "And she turned into her mother!"

Oh well, if I had to turn into someone else, I think I would pick her. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cereal Bar Standoff

I often thank the good Lord He saw fit to have me teach for a while before I had children.  Believe it or not, teenagers and toddlers are not that different.  For that matter, teenagers and four-year-olds are not that different, either.  Who knew those eight years of figuring out who was chewing gum, who had the cell phone that was ringing, and who actually threw the paper wad would all pay off some day?

Her Majesty doesn't like breakfast, an it is a struggle to get her to eat anything other than Cheeze-its or, say, a bowl of shredded cheddar.  This morning I fixed chocolate milk and handed her a cereal bar.  She gamely ate two thirds of the cereal bar and drank about three quarters of the milk before trying to hand both back to me.  I said, "You need to finish your breakfast.  Then I'll get you some blueberries."

Normally the promise of blueberries would inspire great feats like lifting one end of an Escalade, but today? Nothing.  I walked over to the chair and saw that she had neither cereal bar nor milk.  My eyes shifted to the breakfast room table where the sippy cup of milk sat across from the trash can.  My eyes narrowed.

"Lorelai, did you put your cereal bar in the trash can?"

[In the distance a lonely western whistle. Tumbleweeds float across the living room behind me.]

She cocked her head to one side. "Did you SEE the cereal bar in the trash can?"

My eyebrows leaped up to my hair line because I no longer had to see to believe.  "Did. You. Put. Your. Cereal bar. In. The. Trash. Can?"

Her eyes shifted to the left. "Yes."

I blow away the figurative smoke from my figuratively smoking six shooter and break out the standard mom lectures on the importance of a) not lying to/misleading your mother and b) eating breakfast.  Today I won the showdown of truth and cereal bars.

But tomorrow I may not be so lucky.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Her Majesty: The Musical

So, yesterday afternoon was fun.  Her Majesty decided to sing all of her responses between one and three.  It started in the potty. (italics indicate song)

Me:  You okay in there?
Her Majesty: Yes, but I have to poooottt-ttteeeee.
Me: You gonna let me know when you’re done? (A question I asked because there was a plunger in that bathroom. And I was deeply concerned.)
Her Majesty: I am done, I am done, but now I have to wiiiiiiipe my bot….tom.
Me: O….kay
Her Majesty: I have wiped my booty-booty, and I now I MUST…..wash my hands, wash my hands, wash my hands.

Then, she started singing about snack time:

Me: Okay, little lady, what do you want for your snack?
Her Majesty: (in an almost Figaro-like melody) Blueberries, blueberries, blue…ber….RIES!!!!

And then as she played with her new Princess Leia doll:

Her Majesty:  Now you need your man look, your man look, your man look.  Then you’ll wear that girl look, that girl look, or THAT….girl….look.

(And for those of you wondering, Leia’s “man look” is the sweat suit looking outfit she wears on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. The “girl look” includes any and everything from the infamous bikini to one of her other dresses.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Typical Kilpatrick Sunday

Things get tense in the Kilpatrick house when The Hobbit is signed up for sports.

First, he inherited absolutely no athletic ability from his mother.  Second, his introverted nature is such that his natural inclination is to shy away from large groups of people, a tendency that does not bode well for sports like soccer and basketball.  In the meantime, Ryan and I have to wrestle with Her Majesty who can't understand why the spotlight isn't on her.  Today's refrain was, "I'm hungry. Why can't I have a snack?"  No matter how many times I pointed out to her that only the athletes had snacks, she persisted in her need for a Capri Sun and some Cheeze-its. 

So, while Ryan clutched the Flip and I wrestled with Her Majesty, Connor sat out the first part of the game.  Then the second.  Finally, as the opposing team put their first string back in, he got to enter the game.  As the only guy among girls.  Suffice to say, he didn't have a great first basketball practice/game.  On the way home, a general discussion about his surly attitude led to a discussion of gratitude.

Me:  You've got to start focusing on what you have instead of what you don't have.

The Hobbit:  (with curled lip) What does that have to do with anything?

Me:  [insert typical mother's rant here about children who don't have food, clothing or shelter much less enough toys for a small specialty shop] So, you can see you have a lot to be grateful for.  There are a lot of children in this country who are going hungry tonight.

Her Majesty:  Like me!

Me: (under my breath):  Help me, Jesus.

Her Majesty:  Oh, He will.  I'll make Him help you!

And, thanks to the littlest one, the tension evaporated into laughter.  Now all are fed and sassy, and I'm left to contemplate how Her Majesty got a direct line to the Big Guy. 

Well, and to wonder what possessed me to sign the oldest child up for basketball.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Resolutions for the New Year

Actually, I've decided against resolutions.  The word is so unyielding and unforgiving.  Resolute.  It's the kind of word that makes you feel as though you might as well give up on your best intentions if you mess up even in the slightest way.

So, I have goals for 2011.  One of my goals is to add a new post to my blog at least once a week.  Another is to join Weight Watchers and to get my self straightened out.  Still another is to revise Beulah and submit to a minimum of 50 editors/agents as well as writing a new entry for this year--already halfway plotted.  Of course, there are home goals, too.  Some of those goals revolve around keeping the house cleaner.  Others revolve around being a better wife and mother.

So, what about you?  Any goals for 2011?