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    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Mom of the Year Award

    Well, just in case any of you got the mistaken impression from Tuesday’s post that I am some sort of cool mom, I thought I’d give you a laundry list of this week’s foul-ups.

    Tuesday night I continued with my excellent tradition of throwing dinner together at the last minute. We had breakfast. Monkey has refused to eat pancakes for all of his almost nine years. I never pushed the issue because, pancakes are, well, pancakes. By no stretch of the word can they be deemed healthy.

    But I just wanted to fulfill my responsibility to get something down his throat and into his tiny belly. A jar of sprinkles sat on my counter next to the stove, and I got an idea. Cut to the dinner table—a pile of pancakes with cooked-in sprinkles awaited my undernourished family. Monkey broke down in the face of my novelty flapjacks. He took one bite and proclaimed, “I love pancakes. I want to have pancakes for breakfast everyday! And syrup! I can’t believe I’ve missed out on syrup!”

    Please nobody tell Jamie Oliver what I’ve done.

    On Wednesday, Monkey woke up with a sore throat. I told him it was allergies and made him go to school. He came home with a 101 temperature. I never can call these things. He’s faked me out so many times I wish there was a lie detector app for my Blackberry.

    Wednesday afternoon I managed to lock myself out on the back deck without shoes. I was trying to bring a really heavy pot inside and not drop it on the dog who thinks she’s my appendage. Anyway, while I went out the back door, Chunky went out the front door. The air pressure slammed the back door shut. To make matters worse, Chunky then started ringing the doorbell. My boys think they should never have to open a door for themselves and will do all manner of annoying things to get others to do it for them. So I’m pounding on the back door and Chunky is marathon-ringing the front doorbell. Monkey, sick and lying on the couch, hollers, “Can you get that, Mom?”

    On Thursday, Monkey stayed home, but I couldn’t miss an opportunity to screw up, so I sent Chunky to school in a sweatshirt. It snowed.

    Today I wrapped up my Mom of the Year weekend by buying something I swore I would never buy. Cheeseballs. I have many food weaknesses, but Cheetos, cheeseballs, and most puffy, orange foods are not among them. I think they’re junk so I just don’t buy them. But Monkey has been sick and watching Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel A LOT. Cheeseballs are the chipmunks' food of choice, and Monkey kept asking for them. I caved and bought him some.

    Turns out Willie the Healer likes cheeseballs too. I accused Monkey of getting a third helping, then turned around to see Willie, paws on the counter, munching neon orange snack food.

    I’ll end with this. I’ve succeeded in really freaking my boys out. They are constantly telling me I need to trim my fingernails. I occasionally consider fingernail hygiene but never manage to follow through. I’ve grown a truly scary pinkie nail, and my boys look at it the way one might look at a rat with two tails.

    There you have it folks. My week’s been stellar. Happy Friday everybody.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Here There be Pirates

    So I’m a recovering pirate. Piracy, it seems, is an addiction and before long you’re using ‘Argh’ and ‘Matey’ in everyday conversation and this gets you frowned at in the grocery store.

    I’m wondering if there’s a twelve-step program for moms who’ve thrown their six-year-olds a pirate-themed birthday party and now just can't leave their bandana and eye patch behind.

    I know, I know. You want pictures. And honestly, I had every intention of posing in my pirate get up and posting the proof on this blog. But I got too busy! My husband had the camera, and in true traitor-male fashion, only managed to capture unflattering angles of my costumed splendor.

    Chunky’s party was an epic success despite the spring snow storm we had the day before that prompted the district to cancel school.

    We had 34 mini-pirates. No one mutinied. No one was shipwrecked. No one got scurvy. No one walked the plank. Well, ok, they did walk the plank, but not into Davy Jones’s locker.

    It turns out I had no real concept of what 34 kids in one house looks like. Thankfully, my husband, my mother, his mother, and several friends rescued me from my own madness by stepping in to help. I owe these people all the buried treasure on my island!

    I should have known better. My brother and I grew up with this kind of huge home party. We never had any money, but we always had these spectacular and unique birthday parties. I remember one I had where the guests were told to bring their teddy bears. My family built bleachers for the bears, and during the party, our favorite toys got to watch us play games. We even made pennants so they could cheer us on.

    I don’t think I’ll be repeating a legendary bash like this one anytime soon, but that’s ok. I’m pretty sure Chunky will never forget his sixth birthday. Sunday night we put the boys to bed then Kory and I headed to the living room to watch Sherlock Holmes. Monkey and Chunky were making lots of noise in their room and were told to settle down and go to sleep several times. Finally, Chunky called down, “I just can’t go to sleep because of my awesome birthday party yesterday!” A good excuse if I ever heard one.

    What about you? Do you remember any special birthday parties from your childhood? Have you done anything really unique for your child’s birthday? I’d love to hear about it.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Not Impressed, Mom

    So last week I was thinking I was pretty cool stuff for being the author, ok co-author, of a real, live children’s book. Mom and I got an email from our publisher with the initial sketches for our second picture book, The Dragon and the Turtle go on Safari (WaterBrook, January 2011.) We were also asked to go through the text and come up with six more illustration ideas. So we printed the pages we had, arranged them on the floor, and I literally crawled through the story with a pair of scissors and a pen. It was so fun!

    Mom and I love our illustrator, Vincent Nguyen. He has really brought Roger the Turtle and Padraig the Dragon to life. There is nothing like seeing a character that existed in your imagination suddenly on the page with expression and personality and LIFE. It’s awesome!

    I was in the middle of this creative high when Chunky came home with the dinosaur book his kindergarten class wrote and illustrated. We were supposed to read the book together then write a note on the last couple of pages about our family’s impressions of the book.

    I offered to endorse the dinosaur book.

    Chunky said, “What’s endorse?”

    I explained that when someone writes a book, they look for other authors to endorse it or say it’s really good. I told him that his grandmother and I were real authors and thus qualified to say that the kindergarten dinosaur book was really good.

    “So, do you want Mommy to endorse your book?” I asked again.

    Chunky thought a minute then said, “No. I want Willie (the dog) to say she really liked it.”

    There you have it. The opinion of the family pet out-ranks mine. Which begs the question, how do I earn my son’s approval—aside from serving chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese at every meal?

    I’m not sure, but I will try again this weekend when I dress up as a pirate and throw an epic birthday party for my soon-to-be six-year-old. If that doesn’t do it, I’m not sure what will.

    Any ideas?

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Green Tea

    You know you’re sick when you get excited about new ways to remove mucous from your sinuses.

    And while we’re on the subject, there should be a name for the feeling you get when you blow a pound of gunk from your nose. It’s a weird/surprised/proud/relieved kind of emotion and, inexplicably, you feel the need to share your experience with the person you love the most. Thus the unfortunate announcement, “Honey, you’re not gonna believe what just came out of my nose!”

    I say we call it Mucous Satisfaction.

    You might have guessed that I have a cold. Yesterday I finally went to the doctor because it felt like I had a Pomeranian crammed in my right ear. The doctor looked in my ear, leaned back and said, “You actually have an infection in there. Adults don’t usually get ear infections.”

    Nice to know one part of my body is still youthful.

    He fixed me up with some meds, so off I went to Walgreens. While waiting for my prescription to get filled, I discovered the Neti Pot. It looked so homey, so comforting, so British. I thought, Wow, this has got to be gentler than the sinus rinse. You know the sinus rinse? You fill a sports bottle with warm water and saline, cram it in your nostril, and proceed to irrigate your brain. It’s . . . unpleasant.

    An aside: Now is as good a time as ever to talk about what I call The Denmark Mating Call. My husband, while possessing some really spectacular genes in most regards, unfortunately has a cursed sinus cavity. It runs in the family. As we were dating and I got to know his family, I discovered that all the males emit a certain sound almost unconsciously and entirely without warning. It sounds something like this:


    I liken this noise to the calls of certain wild animals one sees on the Discovery Channel. You know, where the male of the species puffs up his feathers or fur or whatever he has and screeches and you think, how is that going to get him a girl?

    All this to say, I’m well-acquainted with the sinus rinse. It’s a fixture in our bathroom—along with body glitter. But that’s another story.

    I didn’t buy the Neti Pot. But I told my husband about it at dinner, because when you’ve been married eleven years, you talk about drainage at the dinner table. My husband looked at me and said, “You have to be coordinated to use that.”

    “Oh,” I said, shoulders drooping. We both know that excludes me from the possible benefits of the Neti Pot.

    “Well, I thought it looked gentler than the sinus rinse,” I told him.

    “It’s basically a tea pot for your sinuses.”

    “Oh. I thought maybe you just breathed the steam. “

    “No.” Kory mimed holding a tea pot up to his face, tipped his head and said, “You have to poor it in one nostril then let if flow into the other and drain out.”

    I assume this process creates the most disgusting “tea” ever concocted by mankind. But I’ll never know. The Neti Pot is not for me and my lack of fine or gross motor skills. I’d probably manage to spill it all over myself and the floor. Then I’d slip in the puddle, smack my head and end up in the ER, where I would have to explain that the accident was caused by “green” tea.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Wuthering Heights

    This week I’ve been slogging through Wuthering Heights to the accompaniment of howling winds buffeting my house. Spring in Colorado means wind—cold, strong, inescapable wind. I have to say, it’s perfect weather for Emily Brontë’s passionate, disturbing novel set in the harsh Yorkshire moors.

    When I mention Wuthering Heights and the research I’m doing for my next novel, most folks say, “I hated that book,” or “I just couldn’t get into it,” or “the characters in that novel are monsters.”

    Then there are the wacky English majors like me who find it fascinating. Although cruelty and obsession reign in the novel and religion is presented as little more than vindictive judgment, this song by David Crowder Band has come to mind as I’ve studied the suffering.

    Like the characters in Wuthering Heights, we often find it impossible to escape the mire we’ve created with our own poor choices and selfish desires. Indeed, we cannot escape the mess of our sin without His mercy. I think that’s what strikes me about the book—while the characters are exaggerated, intense, even supernatural, their essence remains so very human. So very in need of a Savior.

    I know this hasn’t been my usual light-hearted post. Don’t worry. I can’t stay serious for long. But I thought Good Friday was an appropriate day to share these thoughts. I love that redemption waits even for a heart as black as Heathcliff’s.