Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cosmic Tryptophan Interference

Why else would this rash of bad luck and irritating things be happening?
Not just to me. Though admittedly, my annoyance meter is no where near what other friends are. My troubles are more "life on steroids" as opposed to the heaped on lives of a few of my friends. One gets fantastic news Monday, only to have Tuesday bring chaos. Another goes through bad news like the Sunday paper. Why?
Does our turkey fest somehow disrupt the balance of the cosmos? Or is it the shopping? The Christmas lights?
I blame the turkey. All those fumes from baking birds have to do something to the atmosphere. Think about it...If aerosol hair spray helped create the hole in the ozone, what would millions of people cooking turkeys at the same time do? Something, I'd bet.
Maybe all that tryptophan causes some kind of shift in the alignment of the universe?
*I know. Too silly. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Temper Tantrums

Today we started the school routine again after the long holiday break. Getting everyone awake (including me) was a chore. I should have know this afternoon wouldn't be any easier.
K4 has this nasty habit of releasing her daily stress on me as soon as she comes out of school. She's done this since preschool and it arrives in different forms - she's rude to her friend, she ignores me or throws a brief fit about something. Today she had a total meltdown - complete with crying and kicking as she rolled around on the grass outside of school.
I'm not exactly sure what started it. But it ended with her losing out on going to cub scouts tonight and having to go to bed early. The thing is, by grounding her from cub scouts, I've also grounded myself. I won't be able to go and see K3 get his awards. Definitely not smart of me, but at the time, I was grasping at straws trying to get through to her and I really thought the proposed grounding would move her in the right direction. I was wrong.
You would think after 4 kids that I would know exactly what to say, to do, and how I should have diffused the situation to begin with. With the middle two, they would have been off the grass and into the car before I got to two. Not K4. She's got a defiance only matched by the 17 year old.
And now, I have no choice but to follow through. If I relent and allow her to go, then I've set myself up for yet another tantrum of similar proportions. The funny thing about K4 is that she'll never admit defeat. When I said no cub scouts, her reply was that she really didn't want to go anyway. If I threaten the loss of toys, she tells me she's done with those toys. Right now, there's almost an entire Little People village in seclusion in the basement for that very reason.
And I'm left feeling guilty.
Some days it's hard to be a Mom.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fear and Writing Friends

Or not. Who knows where my sleep deprived brain will take this post.

This was taken at the top of Barnegat Light. An achievement and proof of reaching the top.

And it makes me think about fear. Not fear of heights, but fear of success. I did make it to the top of this lighthouse, but not without fear. Unfounded fears - logically nothing terrible would happen. The stairs weren't about to dissolve under me, the railing wasn't going to give out if I leaned on it.

Fear is normal. It keeps us out of trouble and away from danger. But, fear also prevents us from reaching our full potential. I'm not talking about rational fears - like waking up to find a bear in your tent, or petting a dog that clearly wants to bite you. It's the irrational fears - like my trip to the top of the lighthouse (especially irrational because I'm not normally afraid of heights.). This is the fear we allow to sabotage us into not writing, not following our dreams. Fear sometimes turns into that little voice that tells us we're not good enough, that your work stinks and that you can't even construct a proper sentence. It's also partly responsible for the excuses we make for not writing when we should be. (I did say partly.)

That's when having the support of your writing friends helps. Those friends know fear and recognize the need for a kick in the butt, a shoulder to sob on, or a phone call to talk you through the rough patch. Writing friends know the path you're on. They're not strangers to what's going on inside your head. Every rocky step and oily mud puddle are familiar to them and they're the first to reach out a hand in support and understanding. They can help dissolve your fears, or at least temporarily banish the demons. If you don't have a writing support group, find one. You won't be sorry.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. It doesn't have to be a lonely one.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Oh. My.

My head already hurts.
The birthday party sleepover has started. K2, and her cousins. All 15 years old or close enough.
My kitchen looks like the aftermath of some twisted eating frenzy. Pieces of eggrolls, taco rollups and pizza rolls (among other finger type foods) spread from one end of the counter to the other. And they took pictures of the half-eaten food - the container of sour cream and the bowl of soy sauce. (Again, praise to the digital camera)
They have a full evening planned. Scary movies. Dancing. Music. More food. More movies. I'm not sure sleep is part of their time together.
Luckily the extra girls are very at home here. There's no awkwardness or shyness. If they need a glass of water, they get it - they know where everything is. That's a cool thing. I may shake my head at the food mess, but knowing my daughter has such close friends is a very good feeling.
And I cherish this time because one day soon there won't be any more birthday party sleepovers. One day, we'll take her to dinner for her birthday before she goes out dancing with her friends. Our house will be quiet, and clean, but at least we'll have these memories to hold on to.
This time goes fast. I'm noticing that more and more these days.
Now I must go clean the kitchen.
Hope your weekend was enjoyable!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


This is what happens when the kids use the camera.
I downloaded the Thanksgiving pics this morning only to find this. And a picture of a pie. And a bowl of mashed potatoes. And teeth. Yes, the child took pictures of the insides of peoples mouths.
Why? You ask. I don't know. But that's the glory of a digital camera. Out of 110 pictures, I only saved 48. At least I didn't have to pay to get them developed.
So. Yeah. Hey! We had salt and pepper on Thanksgiving! What a memory! Tee Hee.
At least I didn't post the pictures of molars and dental work!
Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

I have only shopped Black Friday sales once in my life. With my sister-in-law, who doesn't remember. That'll tell you how traumatic it was! I don't know that either of us will ever go again. But I applaud those who do go.
Black Friday is the anniversary of my very first car accident. Way back when. I had just dropped off the same sister-in-law from above (though she wasn't my sister-in-law yet. We were still in high school.) and was on my way home to get ready for work. (I can't imagine that we'd been shopping. Since I'm sure I didn't have any money for shopping.) Anyway, I hit a telephone pole and totaled my 1967 Chevy BelAir. Maybe that's one of the reasons I don't like to go out today. Weird, I know. But you already knew that about me.
Thanksgiving was great. We had a wonderful time. Lots of food and laughter and lots of food. Seriously, lots of food. And the best bunch of family and friends any person could want. I think we all went home knowing just how blessed we are.
Now for the next birthday. K2. Teenaged girl sleepover on the horizon. Oh my.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be blessed with great food and people you love!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that we do Thanksgiving on a rotating schedule in our family. This year, we're heading to our good friends for their very first turn at hosting our large and obnoxious clan. I'm not sure what the actual number is, but I'm thinking it's about 26 people. That's pretty much our regular group. I know that's daunting to some, but I'm a member of a large family so it seems perfectly normal to me.

I'm looking forward to it. It's been too long since we all gathered together and we miss everyone. Schedules, activities, work and changes to our lives have prevented us from getting together. Something we previously did at least once a month - sometimes more.

Before that though, I have pies to bake and other food items to prepare. I love baking pies - even making the crust. It's not what you would call a pretty crust, but still edible and its something I enjoy doing.

With the kids home, my computer time will be limited until Tuesday. If my posts aren't regular, you'll know the line to get on here was too long.

Until then, enjoy this holiday! Don't forget to remember what you're thankful for.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Barnegat Light

Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island.
We climbed it, though I have to admit I got a little freaked out as we neared the top. I can't remember how many steps you have to climb, but it's not as many as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (I climbed that one too).
You can go out at the top. There's a safety railing from floor to ceiling. B ran around the circumference, taking pictures and hollering at me to come out. I would go out and right back in. Don't ask me why, normally I have no problems with heights. Coming down was a bit of an issue for me as well. My knees were shaking and I went really slow. Not B, he would wait for me to get to the next landing and then run down.
It's a beautiful sight. Looking out at the top was amazing and really added to our trip.
Today's the last day of school for the kids. They're excited. I am too. I'm looking forward to the break.
And to Turkey Day.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just What We Needed

This is what I woke to Saturday morning!
A beach sunrise!
B and I actually pulled off a weekend away. Next month is our wedding anniversary and this is the first time in 20 years we've ever gone away just us. We didn't even take a honeymoon.
Normally, when we try to plan a weekend away something happens. One of the kids is sick, there's an obligation we can't get out of, or we get all logical and look at the money we'd spend. To be honest, up until the time we left, I had my doubts we'd actually go. But that's probably related to our previous history.
Once we got the kiddos settled and off to their destinations, we hit the road. Got a little lost (that's what happens when you don't bother to get directions, or a good map), but we finally arrived. And we had a most awesome time!

Friday, November 17, 2006


And they're back together.
Don't they look happy?
She looks a little worried to me. But they seem content to take their position on the porch, greeting travelers with their reminder that Thanksgiving should be celebrated and not ignored in favor of Christmas.
There are several radio stations playing Christmas music already. For some reason, I kind of mind that. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music. I guess I'm just not ready for it yet. Maybe its just because I still don't have a plan.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Broken Love

These are my pilgrims.
I painted them myself. They stand on the front porch and give Thanksgiving greetings. Or they will. When they're back together.
They need marriage counseling. I'm not sure what happened to cause their relationship problems, but by last fall, they weren't able to hold the pumpkin they share. He left her with all the responsibility for the pumpkin. Look at her, she's mad. I think he pushed her. I found her laying face down on the porch. He had that gleam of achievement in his eyes. I put her back up, close to him, and the next time I went out, they were very far apart again. They spent time together in the basement, leaned against the wall side by side since last December. I hope they talked things out because they have a job to do. If you look at him, he almost looks sorry.
B will provide the marriage counseling with a trusty drill and a few screws. When I told him the above, he said I was weird.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Icky Housework

**Check out that word meter! 79.2% I'm almost done!**

With thoughts and plans for the holidays, I've also come to realize that this house needs a major organizational clean out. Seriously, at any moment, the house is just going to split in two, spilling its contents into the yard and street. And Christmas is coming. Which means even more stuff.
The clothes are the worst part. The ones that need gone through, handed down or given to charity. Or thrown away. That's an issue for me. Throwing away clothes. It's like throwing away books. I won't throw something away unless it's beyond help - stained, ripped or falling apart. It just seems like a waste to me.
Books are even worse. I found some books last week that were really mold damaged. Really damaged. It took all I had to toss them into the trash. We have several books that have been taped so many times, they're more tape than books. Those are the favorites though..."Are You My Mother?" "The Best Nest" "Henry Babysits"...favorites of all four kids and books that I will probably never get rid of. They were loved too much to toss out. Hopefully (in the far off, really, really far off) future our grandchildren will adore them.
How'd I get off topic?
Anyway, yeah. Organizing. Where is my magic wand? Why can't I just wiggle my nose and take care of all of this?
My computer's cool down fan is dying. Again. If I disappear for a few days, you'll know why.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bugs in the Bedroom

So, last night B and I are laying in bed looking at a catalog for Christmas ideas. I reach back to turn the light off and he tells me to stop. I look at him and is face has "that look". The look that makes you shrink and fear what's behind you. I did turn, and saw nothing.
He pointed out how camoflauged it was. And then I did see it.
One of those icky assasin bugs, hiding out on the side of a hand made clay pot one of the kids gave to me for Mother's day. We stared at each other for a second.
There was no way I was removing the thing, he saw it first, he should do it.
He did and we spent several minutes looking around before finally turning the lights off. Making sure there wasn't more of them and wondering. Wondering if there was a nest of them somewhere and if they were just waiting for us to relax before they attacked. Wondering at their intelligence and their purpose for being in our bedroom. Wondering if we would wake up covered in icky bugs, or not wake up because we were bit so many times the toxins built up in our systems and killed us.
Okay, that was me.
Once the light was off, he fell asleep. I'm the one who felt every tickle of the sheets and every brush of my own hair. But...those bugs are gross! And why was one in my bedroom?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Ramblings

Things have slowed down here a fraction. Enough that I've managed, at least this weekend, to squeeze in some writing time. I'm not foolish enough to believe things will stay this way - not with the holidays approaching. But, I'll take what I can get.
I'm trying to decide if I want to skip sending out Christmas cards this year. Every year I say I'm going to trim the list, and that never seems to happen. Before I know it, I'm spending a fortune in stamps and cards. Is getting Christmas cards important to you?
I'm still resisting the press of the holidays, even though I have no choice but to think about it. Shopping for four (plus the nieces and nephews) takes time, effort and a plan. It's soon time for me to figure mine out.
Surprisingly, I find I'm really looking forward to the holiday season. Last year, I was kind of a Grinch. I never did fully get into the spirit of the season. I did what I had to do but never found that excitement that's supposed to come with the hanging of the lights and the choosing of the tree. I don't know why. I want to be different this year.
Back to work! Happy Monday!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Random Friday

Thoughts, questions and experiences from my week.

I'm getting the idea that there is some messy spirit living in my linen closet. I'm not kidding. I go upstairs and the door is open. There is always something on the floor - sheets, towels, mismatched socks. I restore order, close the door and the next time I go up, it's the same thing.

More shoe trauma: Once I get out of here and run my errands, 3 pairs of defective shoes will have been returned in the past 2 weeks. Two pair were K2's, that she bought with her own money. The first pair broke before she had a chance to wear them, we took them back. The next pair fell apart the second time she put them on. The brand new, not cheap, boots I bought K4 (with the idea that when he grows out of them, they'll fit me) broke the first time he put them on. Grr.

What is it with teenaged boys and fire? Why do they want to burn things?

I just realized Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away. How did that happen? Last year, we were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. We do a rotating schedule and my turn comes around once every six years. The next time we host, our family will be dramatically changed. K1 will be 23 years old. K2 will be turning 20. That is so weird to think about.

Soon, I will no longer be annoyed by all the Christmas ads and displays at the stores. (I went to the grocery store on Halloween and they were putting up Christmas stuff!) We still have two kid birthdays this year. K2 and K4 - K4's is on Christmas day. Always a challenge balancing both - we've done okay so far. We do Christmas the first half of the day and then her birthday. And we've had some interesting meals for Christmas dinner since it's her choice.

Anyone ever been to Beach Haven, NJ? I'm just curious.

And, a collective Happy Birthday shout out to the 5 birthday people in the past 10 days. You know who you are. And if you want, I'll sing to you. Except it might make you sick.

Have a fantastical weekend!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another Favorite Place

This is another place that speaks to my soul. When we are here, stresses melt away. We all look forward to our weekends here with contagious excitement. Sadly, our summer camping was practically non-exsistent this year due to weather, weather and crazy schedules.
The cool thing is that we don't have to travel far to go here. Day trips or impromptu weekends are possible. Sometimes, we forget that.
This photo was taken in early spring during the planting of K1's senior high project. He planted a beautiful weeping willow tree in one of the areas that tends to retain water. This picture doesn't do the place justice at all. But imagine sitting on a blanket on the creek bank, fishing and telling stories, hanging out with friends and laughing.
Word meter is back. And I'm still making forward progress.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Since those nifty word meters are out of order, here it is:
31,250 out of 72,000
or 43%
I found my groove again.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Well, I Warned Them...

So, Friday night, after B and K3 left for cub scout camp, I had to take K2 and her bestest friend to my sisters to assist with my niece's sleepover birthday party. K4 had already been picked up by my sister in a convoluted trade-off related to space, time and cooking pans. Don't ask. It's me and 3 teenagers in my husbands little car.
The trip didn't start out the best - did I mention this car is small? Teenage girls have "stuff" and I had two of them, plus K4's stuff, and I had to pick up the birthday cake. We won't discuss what happened in the middle of the grocery store - suffice it to say that it was one of those moments that made me understand why most wild animals don't let their kids hang around once they learn how to feed themselves.
We get back in the car, the cake perched precariously on teenaged knees. And the radio station fights started. What K1 liked, the girls did not. What they liked, he moaned in disgust over. They finally agreed to take turns. (Unbelievable as that is.) K1 was in charge of scanning the stations and that's when it happened.
An 80's love song - one I know by heart. I guess I should be ashamed to admit that, but oh well. I told him he'd better change the station before I started singing.
He didn't.
I did warn them. I said, "You'd better change it before this song gets stuck in my head and I start singing." Well, the song got stuck and I sang it to them, loudly and way worse than my normal terribleness, the rest of the drive. I guess I should be embarrased that my vocal skills created a lot of laughter, but it was the kind of moment that I'll remember forever.
Besides the grocery store tift, the evening turned out well. The car singing was fun. Dinner with my son was fun and the movie we watched afterward filled me with ideas for a new story.
Not too bad.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Funny Pic

One more of my sister's dog, Nezzie.
This was her Halloween costume. Faerie dog. I love that she actually looks like she's flying in this pic.
She trick or treated with us and had lots of compliments on her attire. One house even had dog treats for any trick or treating pooches. She did well, except for when we approached a man dressed in an elongated mask complete with huge hands. Of course, he was wielding a fake chainsaw.
Sadly, Abbie is not a trick or treating dog. We've taken her in years past, but we believe her night vision is poor. The crowds and darkness upset her. She won't even go get her ball at night, unless it's thrown in a well lit area of the yard.
Busy day and weekend ahead. Don't know if I'll be back to post until Monday. If not, enjoy the weekend and behave!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thought Provoking

This photo is one many people would ignore. An accidental picture probably taken while adjusting camera settings or the inadvertant push of a button.
Except this picture was intentionally taken and makes me think.
Who left those footprints? Where were they going? What thoughts weighed heavy on their mind as they walked the beach?
To me, this picture is a thought provoker. As I stare at it, ideas and scenarios rush through my brain. A lonely woman, walking the shore line and wondering if she will ever find the love she so desperately needs. A widower, mourning his long-dead wife and preparing to finally spread her ashes in the place she loved the best as a final act of healing. What if they met?
What about a teenager? Forced on vacation with his parents - equally resentful and pleased to be at the beach. He walks as a way to escape what he percieves as smothering, his anger not as focused now as it had been when he left. What if he finds something? A small treasure that has the power to change his life - even if he doesn't know how. What would the treasure be? A Genie bottle? An oddly shaped stone that connects him with another time and place?
I could go on. And on. But I won't. That little glimpse into my brain is probably already too much.
As writers, we find inspiration in odd places. The abandoned car alongside the highway, the lonely old barn, the dead cat in the middle of the road...really just about any thing or any place can spark a story idea, a scene idea or give us what we needed to tie up the plot. Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to remember to take time to look around, to get out in the world and experience even the mundane.
If you're a writer, you have been reminded.
If you're not, you now have experienced a small sample of the inner workings of my brain - as scary as it may be to you. I'm not saying all writers think like me, but I know for a fact many do. Be kind to us.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Equal Time

Feeling a little guilty for posting a pic of Miss Nezzie before I did one of my own puppy. This is Abbie, or Abbie Normal, (Bonus points if you know what movie that's from!) She's almost 5 and is tiny at about 100 lbs. We rescued her from the shelter and have never regretted it. Part Newfoundland, part Border Collie, she displays traits of both - except she's not fond of swimming. When the kids are in the creek its her job to stand watch and bark if she thinks they're doing something unsafe. She's a mother hen and a great member of the family, but is not so tolerant of playing dress up.

Trick or Treat night is over. We had a good time, even though K4 decided she was done 2 blocks from home. She dropped her bag, folded her arms and stomped down the sidewalk, refusing to stop at any more houses even though we had to pass them to get home.

November already. Can you believe that?