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    Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    Happy Birthday Emily Bronte

    Today, July 30th, is Emily Bronte’s birthday. She was born in 1818 in Thornton, Yorkshire. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for celebrating the great English novelist’s special day.

    1. Read Wuthering Heights, of course.
    2. Watch Wuthering Heights, preferably the version with Tom Hardy hotness.
    3. Write a story in the tiniest handwriting you can manage.
    4. Go for a long, long, long walk.
    5. If the weather cooperates, stand in the rain.
    6. Act obsessive and morose to your significant other.
    7. Stand in a graveyard at night and pound your chest.
    8. Ponder digging up a grave.
    9. Decide against it and make an impassioned speech.
    10. Tap on windows and creep out hapless occupants within.
     In all seriousness, thank you Emily, for the genius that is Wuthering Heights. For daring to write about arguably unlikable characters who nevertheless claim our hearts in their struggle to hold on to love.

    If you can’t get enough Wuthering Heights, here’s a link to some covet-worthy WH swag.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    A Breather

    I couldn’t resist having my picture taken in front of this tourist trap with the word Curio in the name. The store was jam-packed with old-fashioned curio cabinets like the enchanted one in my recently completed novel. I confess I might’ve studied the contents to make sure nothing inside hinted at a magical universe.

    We are back from a mini vacation in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In an astonishing turn of events, we actually did do some relaxing. Family vacations have always been problematic for us, and often leave me wondering if other families work so hard to have fun only to succumb to internal friction.

    I expect that despite Facebook photo albums showing smiley togetherness, most vacations involve whining, frustration and one or two small disasters. At least I hope we’re not the only ones.

    I have a friend who refers to “Facebook Families” as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on all those perfect photo albums and squeaky proud parent statuses. When I’m having a less than FB-worthy moment, she reminds me that everyone has those moments. They just don’t post them.

    I tend to take a more honest approach to life. Breathe In Breathe Out has featured my messy journey through womanhood, motherhood, and my writing pursuits.

    But I’ve always gotten the most responses to my candid posts about raising a son who faces multiple challenges including Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety.

    It’s been a relief for me to be honest about the struggles we face. And it’s been an honor to receive comments from moms dealing with similar circumstances.

    But as you may have noticed, I’ve been posting less frequently. There are a couple reasons for this.

    First, since this blog is supposed to be humorous, I feel like a failure when I’m not funny. But guess what, sometimes life isn’t funny.

    Second, I’ve been focusing my dubious mental powers on writing and editing my latest book.

    Third, I’ve been struggling with how to proceed with this blog. For a long time I couldn’t pinpoint what was bothering me. The answer came in a gradual sort of way, and, at the same time, all at once—rather like watching your children grow up before your eyes, then one day looking over to find this full-sized human you thought was an extension of yourself, but who is really a completely separate and wonderful individual.

    Breathe In Breathe Out has been about my journey, but it’s not just my journey anymore. In reality, it never was, but I shared it from my perspective—as a mother of a special needs child.

    But this is also my son’s journey. I see that more every day. And as he heads into middle school, I need to be more careful with how much of his life I share. It’s HIS life! It’s mine too, but, yeah, you get it.

    Although I love to encourage moms who face similar struggles, even that calling takes a backseat to ensuring both of my sons' privacy as they face the challenge of growing up.

    I know you will understand as Breathe In Breathe Out takes a breather (hee hee.) I will still share funny anecdotes as they ambush me and glimpses into the spiral of insanity I call my career.

    And I hope that my journey into writing YA fiction, which I LOVE, will spawn an entirely new web presence—maybe a cool alter ego who eats sushi and runs marathons. Then again, maybe I’ll stick to eating cheese and reading books.

    Thanks for being my friend here on Breathe In Breathe Out. I’m thankful for every person who has read this blog. I hope you’ll stick around as I rethink, reimagine, repurpose, and redesign my focus. I’m pretty sure it’s going to require a new wardrobe. And some new shoes. Yes, definitely new shoes.

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Summer: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Bikini Bottoms

    Summer a.k.a. misery and swimsuit angst.

    We ended the school year with a nasty cold. Monkey came home an absolute grouch on the last day of school. Not what you’d expect from a kid who’s been looking forward to summer break since, oh, September.

    Turned out he was sick and the misery has made its way through the family, which is why I’ve been MIA. When all you can come up with to blog about is the quantity and consistency of mucous, it’s best not to post.

    But now we’re finding our summer groove and despite my first sentence, I’m feeling optimistic about the next two months.

    For one thing, Kory has been court ordered to take a vacation. Well, not quite. But he’s about to max out on vacation time, and was told he better take time off. I, of course, have been telling him he needs a break for months. Not sure yet what we’ll do. Nothing too spectacular. That’s just not how we roll.

    In order to avoid constant guilt over letting the boys have too much screen time, I set up some daily requirements for math, reading and exercise. They’re pretty minimal but at least at the end of the summer I won’t be handing little Neanderthals back to the teachers.

    My mom sent up a box of old comic books—Hagaar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, B.C., Peanuts—and the boys are devouring them. Great literature? Maybe not, but everything counts when you’re nurturing a life-long Neanderthal, I mean, reader.

    Monkey is taking drum lessons, going to band camp, and banging the heck out of his snare drum on a daily basis. He’s not interested in using the practice pad, so we’re urging him to keep the pounding to daylight hours.

    I wish I could say my yearly swimsuit search was over. As if I didn’t already need Xanax just to face swimsuit season, this year Target.com is determined to fit me with a straight jacket for all my water fun needs.

    I ordered a swim top and shorts and received the top and a pair of bikini bottoms. The bottoms were … unacceptable. I tried again and received another bikini bottom instead of the shorts. I called and had the pleasure of speaking to a highschooler about my swimwear needs. He told me the website was in error and to try ordering my shorts again in a week.

    Today I went back to Target.com and it’s obvious someone attempted to correct the error. The swim shorts that were incorrectly labeled bikini bottoms have been changed to swim shorts. The verbiage is correct for the black swim shorts and the blue swim shorts, but the purple swim shorts I want are still labeled bikini bottoms. I called and talked to someone from Mexico about my problem. He said he’d submit a report and I could check back in a few days.

    Meanwhile, I have that funny old ad snafu running through my head:

    Our swimsuits are sensational! They’re simply the tops!

    Looks like I’ll be making do with last year’s bathing suit a little while longer.

    If you’re luckier than me, lounging by the pool in adequate swimwear, and looking for a good read, I have a suggestion.

    My friend Carla’s book Five Days in Skye is just the kind of delicious escape read that begs for a towel and umbrella drink. It releases today!

    So what does this summer hold for you?

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    The Avengers

    Monkey is afraid of bees. Really, really afraid. I’d go so far as to call it a phobia. So I looked up fear of bees and discovered that it’s called either Apiphobia or Melissophobia. Who comes up with this stuff? Apiphobia sounds believable, but if you tell someone you have Melissophobia they’re going to ask you why the heck you’re afraid of people named Melissa.

    Furthermore, if the fear of bees is called Melissophobia then WHAT pray tell IS the fear of people named Melissa called? Beeophobia?

    Silly scientific community.

    Anyway, it’s hard to get Monkey outdoors in the summer. This is mostly because of his love affair with screens, but the Apiphobia definitely contributes.

    The other day Kory came home from one of his strange shopping rambles and said, “I found something that might help our son go outside.”

    I expected an insect-repelling bracelet or something. We’ve tried them in the past. But he held up an electricity-charged tennis racket, a bug zapper. Of course, my first question was, “What will it do to people?” I wasn’t born yesterday. Monkey has a little brother who is at times quite vexing. I could see the temptation becoming more than a big brother can bear.

    Anyway, Kory assured me it was mostly harmless to humans.

    So the other day we planned to take the dog to a nearby field for some exercise. Monkey raised his usual objections (bees!), but Kory pulled out the bug zapper. Thus armed, our less-than-intrepid 11-year-old stepped out into the wilderness of suburbia.

    As you might guess, having the bug zapper prompted Monkey to search out bugs for annihilation. But it’s spring in Colorado. We’ve had approximately two and a half warm days. There weren’t a lot of bugs roaming the sidewalks. And turns out it’s hard to angle the electrified racket to zap a tiny ant.

    We trudged out of our neighborhood and into the grass and packed dirt of the nearby field. Monkey kept his eyes on the ground, searching for victims. And then, a big black beetle ambled across the path.

    Monkey froze, zeroing in on the bug. He yelled for his brother to come. They hovered over their target, exited, blood-thirsty.

    You see, the beetle was exactly like the one who viciously killed Monkey’s roley poley last October while we were out for a walk. They resurrected the travesty of the roley poley’s demise and pinned it on this beetle representative.

    Things went a little Lord of the Flies. Shouts of “The roley poley shall be avenged!” rang out. The racket was raised. Chunky had found a trident-like stick which he waved in the air in support of his brother’s campaign.

    I thought, this is a good time to teach them about appreciating nature, the sanctity of life, the fact that vengeance belongs to the Lord.

    Then I walked away. I can’t justify it. I just did.

    Whoops, hollers, and the distinct zip of electricity followed. I cringed as they shouted, “We are avenged!”

    I joined Kory up on top of the hill, ready to lay the blame for our vicious children on his Y chromosome contribution. I found him scooping up another black beetle from the path. He tossed it into the weeds, saving it from the oncoming monsters.

    The boys joined us, pink-cheeked and triumphant. Monkey held up the racket. “It works, Dad!”

    Then he handed his weapon, his defense against bees, his “safety net” to me and ran off to play with the dog.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Restless in Turtle Land

    It had to be done.

    On Monday I moved our female turtle, Molly, into her own house.  The amazing habitat my husband built just wasn’t big enough for two anymore. Ever since Molly came out of hibernation, Roger has made the poor girl’s existence a nightmare. If she so much as pokes her face out of the substrate, he thinks it’s time for some lovin’.

    She wasn’t eating or bathing. She wouldn’t even come out from under her rock. Poor thing needed some intervention.

    So I fixed up a plastic crate with rocks, wood chips, a private bath and a flower-festooned clay hut. Then I transferred Molly to her new digs. She loves it! Now she comes out, eats, and tootles around her home.

    The only problem is, I had to put Molly’s house inside the bigger habitat so she’d get the light and heat she needs from the special lamps. Since her new home is clear plastic, Roger can still see the object of his affection.

    He crawls along the edge like a lovesick peeping tom, clawing at the plastic. I think if he could howl, he would. I’m hoping time will calm his wild turtle urges, but until then it’s bachelorhood for Roger.

    The thing is, I know how he feels. And I’m not referring to spring time friskiness. (We won’t go there.) I know what it’s like to see the thing I want yet be blocked by a barrier I don’t understand. I see my goal of publication and I scratch away, trying to move toward it, and I think, “Why can’t I get there? Why can’t I have that?”

    Poor Roger and me. We need a distraction. We need to appreciate the stuff we have. Maybe we should take up a hobby. What if I dipped him in paint and let him crawl over a canvas? That would keep us both occupied for a while, and maybe Turtle Art would be the next big thing.

    Anyone else out their frustrated? What’s the goal you can see but just can’t get to?

    And how much would you pay for art created by a licentious turtle?

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Living in ADHD World

    I forget that other people don’t live in ADHD world. 

    It’s a shock to encounter someone who seems to have no experience with “Look! Shiny!” thought patterns and actions.

    When my kids were little, a successful outing was one in which I didn’t end up abandoning my full shopping cart to chase them across the store dodging people and displays while yelling, “Stop! Wait for Mommy.” 

    So when we visited a beauty supply store and Monkey set about rearranging cardboard price signs on the store’s barber shop chairs, well, to me that was minor.

    The clerk checking me out said, “Have you heard of Super Nanny?”

    I said, “Yes, I’ve seen the show.”

    With a straight face, she said, “You should call her.”

    I turned around to look at my kids, “Really? I thought things were going well.”

    It’s not that I allow my kids to be destructive. It’s not that we don’t talk about respecting others and their property. And hey, sometimes they do mess up. They’re kids. They break things and need to apologize or help fix them.

    But here’s where I think my philosophy differs, especially from a traditional child-rearing mindset.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to touch things. I don’t think it’s wrong to be loud in certain situations. I don’t think it’s wrong to talk about farting. To let your silliness hang out sometimes.

    In our house we deal with some really hard issues. If you follow this blog you know my son struggles with anxiety and it’s been a crushing weight at times. When you face dark monsters like Anxiety, or Autism, or Special Needs, you learn not fear Messy, Loud, and Rambunctious.

    Yesterday I took my eleven-year-old to band instrument selection night. Monkey has an amazing ear for music and could carry a tune before he could speak in full sentences. We would love to see him use the gift he’s been given and enjoy making music.

    But we had a bit of a bumpy start last night. Our number was called and we walked over to the auditioner who stood by a table of instruments. Monkey immediately ran his fingers over an oboe. We sat down, talked with the man, then Monkey got to try blowing into a trumpet. Since we’d also expressed interest in percussion, the guy notified one of the band teachers that Monkey wanted to try out for that, then he told my son to go wait in line while he talked to me.

    Monkey walked away and the auditioner turned to me.

    “I’m concerned with how he would treat the instruments.”

    I didn’t know where the comment came from. “What do you mean?”

    The guy explained that brass instruments are delicate.

    I still couldn’t follow. It’s not like Monkey would sword fight with a trumpet. I said as much, and then it dawned on me.

    “Oh,” I said, “you’re worried because he touched the instruments when we came over.”

    The guy nodded. “He’d have to learn to listen to the band instructor.”

    Well, of course he would, along with every other kid experiencing band for the first time.

    I wasn’t angry and this man wasn’t mean, but I did wonder how he came to be in this position and still be unfamiliar with kids like Monkey. Kids who learn with their eyes, ears AND hands. Monkey wasn’t disrespectful or destructive. In my book, he’d done nothing wrong. But this guy saw “irresponsible” written all over him.

    Photo by Sander Spek
    We moved on to the percussion test where Monkey’s hands-on approach didn’t faze the instructor. He remarked on Monkey’s ear, recommended private lessons to get ready for band, and offered encouragement. We left excited about percussion.

    I recognize that organizing brand new middle-schoolers who’ve never played an instrument into a band is a Herculean task, and I admire and appreciate the staff dedicated to it.

    Raising kids is a Herculean task as well. We don’t all do it the same way. As moms it’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re confronted with an attitude toward child-rearing that’s different from our own. We second guess ourselves.

    Maybe I should’ve stopped my kids from rearranging the price tags on the chairs in the store. Or maybe it was okay to be happy that we got through an outing with my sanity intact.

    Maybe I should’ve warned Monkey not to touch anything last night.Or maybe it was okay that my attention was focused on helping my son discover his gift of music.

    Our family lives in ADHD world. Some things we fight for and some things we let slide. We apologize when we’ve done wrong, but we also give ourselves grace when we can’t help but chase the squirrel.

    How about you? What world do you live in? How do you handle it when aliens come to visit?

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Piece of Cake

    Right now I’m trying really hard not to eat cake. The thing is, it seems like eating cake might make my day better and, you see, I have so much of it.

    I had my own little Cake Wreck yesterday. I didn’t take pictures because it was just your run-of-the-mill crumb and frosting collapse.

    Yesterday was Chunky’s birthday. Poor kid. I bombed my role of party planner. As you know I’ve been a little distracted with a certain novel, so when Chunky asked for a Minecraft party, I groaned and said, “I don’t know how to do a Minecraft party.”

    He said, “How about a vampire party then?”

    I said, “Ok, you can have a Minecraft party.”

    But as we got closer to last weekend’s conference and I got crazier with my deadline, I realized I couldn’t pull off a party at home. We agreed to have it at LaserQuest and have Minecraft-themed food.

    Yeah, that fell apart too. Honestly, at one time I was good at this stuff. We once had a pirate-themed birthday at our house with 34 kids in attendance. Yes, you read that right.

    But I had to knock my youngest’s expectations down once again when I realized my ideas for cubed food and green Minecraft Rice Krispie treats wouldn’t materialize without magic.

    He didn’t mind as long as we could construct an elaborate, many-flavored cake landscape complete with mountains, a canyon, and a lake.

    I talked him down to a simple layered cake. And then that fell apart! Talk about shredding my Super Mom cape. Chunky was a good sport when we had to run out last minute and buy a cake, and he did have a lot of fun at his party.

    Me, I’m feeling the weight of what I didn’t do this last month. I didn’t:

    1. Pull together an awesome Minecraft party.
    2. Clean my house. At all.
    3. Cook a nutritious meal.
    4. Shower regularly.
    5. Feed the turtles more than a couple times a week, which is about how often they should eat, but Roger sits in his food dish and looks at me with sad turtle eyes. Guilt! 
     Yes, I did finish a book. And I did pitch that book and get a request for the manuscript from an editor. Woohoo!

    As I head back into another month of intensive editing on this story, I’m very aware of the choices I make in order to pursue this dream. I sometimes let my expectations and other’s expectations cause me guilt.

    But the truth is, Chunky had a fantastic day yesterday. He happened to be off school on his birthday and we spent the whole day together. I didn’t touch my manuscript once, but I did give my nine-year-old lots of hugs.

    I’ve intentionally let the housework slide and though it bugs me, my life’s goal isn’t to die and have people say, “Her house was always clean.” I hope they have something more interesting to say, even if it’s just, “Evangeline was never one to pass up cake.”

    What about you? Is there an expectation you’ve let go—or trampled—in order to pursue a worthy goal. Will people talk about your clean house at your funeral?

    By the way, I totally ate a piece of cake.

    Thursday, April 18, 2013

    Hello, My Name Is

    Hello all! I’m putting together all my last minute stuff for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend, including practicing my pitch.

    For non-writers, at conferences you can request pitch appointments with agents and editors. In these appointments you have a few minutes face time with an industry guru. You give them a pitch—a short, intriguing explanation of your book—if they like it, they might ask you to query them with a few chapters of your manuscript.

    Some organizations and industry professionals advise you to memorize your pitch. For the last few days I’ve been trying to do just that.

    But novels that fall under the fantasy category require extra explanation and my story world is complex. As I ran through my pitch either in my head or out loud in the shower, I kept flubbing it. So I’d go back and start with the easy part…

    “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark.”

    I’ve done this so many times in the last few days that now I cannot separate “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark” from “Hello, my name Inigo Montoya.”

    The phrases are stuck together floating around in my overworked gray matter. Which isn’t all bad. It worked for Inigo Montoya after all. His mantra saw him through to the end.

    But somehow I don’t think shouting “Hello, my name is Evangeline Denmark” and skewering agents with pens will get the desired result.

    Thankfully, this afternoon a couple of writer friends helped me break the mold I’d gotten stuck in. They encouraged me to go for a conversational, less practiced, approach. After all, who isn’t better at conversing than shouting prepared speeches at the point of a sword?

    Inigo might not approve of my new tactic, but I hope it gets the job done.

    So, writers out there, have you had any memorable pitch appointments?

    Non-writers, share some interview stories. I once pretended, during a job interview, that I was a celebrity being interviewed on TV. I did NOT get the job.

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Demons in the Drains

    In my last blog I was looking forward to being Human Again in April. Well, it’s April and I’m not human yet.

    Many of you know I’m trying to finish my young adult urban fantasy novel for a conference this month. Progress is good. I’m at around 96,000 words and closing in on the finish, but there have been a few hiccups in my real world.

    At the end of March I took my mother in for what we thought was a detached retina. After two doctor visits, we were told she’d had a stroke and would never regain the vision she lost in her left eye.

    Mom is very positive about the whole thing and thinking of designing a line of bedazzled eye patches for her online Dragon Lady Shoppe. We also thought about dressing her bunny up as a parrot to go with her new pirate look. Our poor pets probably don’t have a clue what animal they actually are.

    We don’t know much more about Mom’s condition as we are waiting to have tests and get results back.

    So we managed to get through our crisis and Spring Break which is always a bit of a crisis too, and get back on track. Then Kory went on a business trip.

    In just a little over 24 hours:

    1. I got one of those calls from the school. “My son said what? MY son?! Put him on the phone!”
    2. The boys’ toilet spewed water all over the bathroom. I suspect a poltergeist. Now that they no longer flush toys and plastic cups, I fail to see what biodegradable substance could’ve caused such an epic clog.
    3. We had a blizzard.
    4. The dog took allergy medicine. She seems fine and not once has she complained of a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes.
    5. The kitchen sink clogged. Poltergeist again?
    6. Monkey came down with a virus.
     When Kory texted that he’d landed in Denver I told him both boys were in bed with me (Monkey sick, Chunky had a nightmare) and that he should just find a hotel room. My exact words were, “Save yourself!”

    He came home anyway. Good because he fixed the sink. Bad because three adult-sized bodies (plus allergy-free dog) in one bed does not make for a good night’s sleep. At least we managed to get Chunky back to his bed.

    My husband teased me that he couldn’t leave me alone for one night. He knows I can handle things, it’s just that when Kory’s away, the poltergeists come out to play.

    I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced disaster while my spouse was gone. Please, share your stories. It’s a less violent way to relieve stress than attacking said spouse the moment he or she returns.

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Human Again

    I’ve found myself humming this song over the past couple of weeks. Between my extremely restrictive diet and my commitment to write two thousand words every day, March hasn’t been much fun.

    When I think about things I want to do, like eat a piece of cheese, read Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess, or get a pedicure, I say to myself, “I can do that in April when I’m human again.”

    When my friends ask how long I’ll be doing this ludicrous diet, I answer, “I’ll be human again in April.”

    When my husband asks if we could have a conversation about something other than airships and clockwork people, I tell him, “When I get this book done, I’ll be human again.”

    When Monkey asked me why I had so much gray hair, well, I couldn't say “I’ll have dark hair in April when I’m human again.” Monkey is a literal child and comes up with enough reasons to panic on his own. When he asked, “Is it because we’re driving you nuts?” I told him that was just something moms say. Then I promised to get my hair colored in April.

    It may seem like I’ve become some unkempt, starving, cranky writer. It seems that way to me some days. But in fact, this month taught me some really valuable lessons.

    1. I CAN write fast if I need to.
    2. I CAN stick to a schedule and prioritize tasks.
    3. I CAN encourage my boys to take more responsibility for their own needs.
    For most of my writing journey, when outside pressures pulled at me, I’d tell myself, “You need to put ______ first. After all, you don’t have a contract, so you’re not a real writer.”

    Yeah, it was a stupid, unprofessional message to give myself, but I don’t have to explain Mom Guilt to you. Some mornings it beats you to the coffee pot.

    But having this goal to finish my novel before the conference I’m attending next month legitimized the decision to put my writing first. It forced me to do laundry and meal planning on the weekend. Ok, so the meal planning involved dumping ingredients together and freezing them and having convenience foods on hand for the kids. But for me that's huge. My kids are going to look back on my deadlines with fondness, remembering those weeks as the only times Mom let them have Hot Pockets.

    And by getting my word count done during the day, I had more focus for mom stuff in the evenings.

    You might not think it to look at me with my grays showing and my house in disarray, but my month as a full-on crazy writer has done me and my family good.

    But don’t get me wrong. I’m ready to be human again.

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    A Slap in the Face and a Move Toward Grace

    I started this blog yesterday then abandoned it when the words wouldn't come together. The closer something is to my heart the harder it is to express it.

    Then, after a rough day in which I had to coax and threaten my son into to going to school, taking his medicine, and sitting down for dinner, I saw this meme.

    I was livid.

    “It’s on! I’m writing a blog.” I told my husband, who knew I’d already been stewing on this topic.

    I realize that when people post these things, they probably find them funny. Maybe they’ve heard talk of over-diagnosis. Maybe they work in some capacity where they see the worst of the worst in parenting. Maybe they themselves were perfect parents so they have room to judge.

    But probably, they just think this is funny.

     It’s not funny. Or cute.

    Every time a message like this is posted there’s a mom—many moms—who feel slapped in the face.

    Moms like me who knew something was wrong when their child stared at corners as an infant, couldn't talk at 3, and body-slammed people and furniture and walls.

    Moms like my friend whose son bounced repetitively and lined up cars in perfect parking lots as a toddler.

    Moms like an acquaintance who've had psychologists shake their heads in dismay over their child's emotional outbursts.

    Moms who research vaccines, food intolerance, and therapies and read every book they can find that might help them unlock the mystery of their child.

    Do they ask for ADHD drugs because they don’t want to deal with difficult behavior?


    News flash: ADHD medication doesn’t magically make your child easy to handle. And it DOESN’T WORK on a brain not affected by ADHD.

    Do these moms run to the teacher, crying foul because their child is disciplined for being disruptive in class?


    They spend hours in meetings with school professionals discussing ways to help their child stay afloat in the rapids of mainstream education.

    These moms pray, and cry, and face a relentless demon called Failure day after day after day.

    They get up in the morning and they love and care for those kids others label


    When I see memes like the ones above, my first reaction is, How dare you?

    How dare you presume to know what I’ve been through? What my friends have been through. How dare you label my child? And me.

    But last night, after stewing and praying and stewing some more, I realized there’s another possible motivation for posting these hurtful messages.

    These people suffered as kids. No one knew or cared that they couldn't concentrate in class, couldn't control certain impulses, couldn't “behave” like everyone else.

    They were called


    And worse.

    Now, they see moms and schools and medical professionals trying to help kids suffering as they did, and maybe it hurts. Maybe they wish someone had looked at them with sympathy rather than censure.

    I don’t know if this realization will change my knee-jerk reaction, but I hope it will at least soften my heart toward those I'd like to pummel.

    I recognize that arguments rage about ADHD, autism, and developmental and behavioral disorders. I don’t want to feed the negative emotion associated with any particular position. I do want to applaud parents, educators, and medical professionals who seek answers and help, ways to cope, ways to overcome, ways to live with, ways to encourage, ways to uplift and not diminish.

    In that spirit, here are two links that blessed me this week. The first is a video featuring an exceptional child with autism and sensory processing disorder who explains what SPD entails. When I shared it on Facebook it was with the words, "This is my world!"

    The second is the story of a rock star waiter in Houston who stood up for a family with a special needs child. People like this man give moms like me a second wind. May God bless his socks off!

    Let's try to give each other grace people.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    A Crash is Coming

    I did something stupid.

    I registered for a conference in April (not the stupid part) and signed up to pitch the novel I’m currently writing (clearly the stupid part!) 

    Most writers' conferences make it a rule that you can’t pitch a novel that isn’t complete. It makes sense. I mean how frustrating would it be for an agent or editor to hear from an author with a great book idea then find out the project isn’t done? Probably about as frustrating as being an author with a great book idea and only a month to complete the manuscript!

    I get stupider.

    I also decided that March should be a weight-loss month for me. I purchased a diet product that has worked in the past and plan to start the 26 day program March 1st.

    The other day I optimistically told my husband that I’d spend the month of March writing and NOT eating.

    Kory gave me a look and said, “Honey, when have those two things EVER gone together?”

    Sigh. He just had to go and yank the purple out of my rainbow.

    But he’s right. One of my critique partners once said, “I’d love to see your face while you write this stuff.”

    I told her, “It looks like this” and pantomimed one hand on the keyboard, the other stuffing my face.

    It’s been scientifically proven (I don’t know by whom) that chewing helps you think.

    So here are the facts:

    1. I have to write roughly 60,000 words to finish my novel.
    2. I. Can’t. Eat.

    Here are my options:
    1. Abandon all hope of losing weight and just do whatever it takes to finish the novel. My critique group advocated for this approach, but I fear if I take their advice I may have a finished novel and not be able to fit through the conference doors.
    2. Learn to like celery.

    Mmmm! I love celery! Celery is the best thing that ever happened to this world. I mean, it’s so much better than rhubarb, which tastes so awful people try to mask it with strawberries of all things.

    At this point in the blog, some well-meaning reader is thinking, “I’m going to leave Evangeline a comment and tell her to just develop better eating habits. Eat healthy and with an eye to moderation. Get plenty of rest and exercise. And drink water. Getting healthy requires a lifestyle change, not a binge diet.”

    Well-meaning reader, you are absolutely right. But unlike my approach to skin care and housework (do enough to get by) with dieting, it’s all or nothing. I have two settings:
    1. Subsist on 500 calories a day
    2. Eat everything in sight.

    I’m not saying this is as it should be, but for some reason that’s how my willpower works. Or doesn’t.

    So as we head into March, I worry for my family. I worry for my wordcount. I worry for the victims of my coming crankiness. I worry for the characters in my novel, who already live in a dystopian world and will likely be forced to eat something really nasty, like rhubarb, because their insane creator is on a crash diet.

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Rap Not Required

    For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing chapters from my male characters’ point of views. Because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I get myself in over my head regularly when I’m writing, I decided to include TWO teenage male POV characters in my Work in Progress.

    Last night when my husband got home I lamented the day’s dismal word count and challenging subject.

    “I’m having trouble writing from a 17-year-old boy’s perspective,” I told
    Kory. “I just don’t think I understand them.”

    His response was, “No one understands 17-year-old boys, least of all 17-year-old boys.”

    “So I shouldn’t ask them how they feel? Should I ask their mothers?”

    He shrugged.

    I’m not sure interviewing moms would help all that much. After all I’m the mother of an 11-year-old boy and most of the time I have no idea what’s going through his head. Unfortunately, I see this getting worse before it gets better.

    I often use music to “get to know” my characters. I find songs that relate to the character’s journey or inner wounds, and by listening to them repeatedly I’m better able to get in touch with that character’s emotions.

    Lately I’ve been terrified that I was going to have to start listening to rap in order to better understand a 17-year-old’s perspective. A pesky voice whispered that I should “do the thing that scares me.” But rap? Did it have to be rap?

    Rap brings out the granny in me. I just don’t get it. I have no frame of reference with which to interpret it.

    And yet I felt like I owed it to somebody to listen to rap. How could my characters be authentic if I didn't?

    But the truth is we all experience the same emotions although we might react differently or act upon them differently. The songs I pick for my characters are really songs that help me get in touch with my own emotions. If I get to that authentic place then I’ve grabbed hold of something universal whether I’m writing from the perspective of a college girl, an invalid, or a 17-year-old boy.

    I have a pretty good playlist going over on Spotify, and while there’s no rap on it, there are quite a few songs that remind me how it feels to be confused, afraid, angry, or in love. I hope my “boys” Blaise and Whit are living that out on the page.

    But if you happen to know a 17-year-old guy who enjoys talking about his feelings, send him my way. I could use the help!

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    A Birthday, a Getaway and a New Understanding

    I shot a wolf! Well, ok, it was made of foam and not exactly fast. Still Kory thought it was impressive that I managed to peg him right in the teeth. He made sure we got a picture.

    We spent last weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch way up in the cold Colorado mountains somewhere near Winter Park ski resort. We were celebrating Kory’s birthday. It was one of those milestone birthdays, and it seems to have flapped my unflappable husband. I don’t know why. The truth is, men just get cuter as they get older.


    Kory is standing next to Chad and Dick, the two draft horses who pulled the sleigh we rode in. We’d stopped for hot cocoa and Chad was literally chomping at the bit. The driver explained that he had a thing for one of the horses pulling another sleigh that had just left the cocoa stop. She said Chad was “embarrassing himself,” but I thought it was cute that he was so anxious to follow his lady back to the stables.

    Pretty boys!

    Speaking of girl-crazy guys, Chunky could’ve spent hours in the craft center at Snow Mountain Ranch, making gifts for his special friend. He painted a wooden heart and wrote “Will you be my Valentine?” on it. Then he made her a leather bracelet with dogs, cats and hearts. He was intent on buying her something in the gift shop until I insisted he pick out something for himself instead. Sometimes I envy that boy’s future wife. Is that weird to say?

    Chunky snow-shoeing
    I’m afraid the cold air was hard on Monkey who wasn’t quite over that awful respiratory virus we all had. His asthma plagued him the whole weekend, turning my Indoor Boy into a true hermit. So while Kory and Chunky went snow-shoeing, Monkey and I holed up in the room, watching movies and reading. What can I say; he is his mother’s child.

    I think we learned from this little getaway that half of our family thinks a vacation is for down time and the other half thinks vacations are for adventure. Hopefully that knowledge will make future family vacations more enjoyable for everyone.

    How about you? Would you rather spend your time away reading in a beach chair or snorkeling? Does your preferred relaxation method clash with your spouse or other family members?

    Is your husband getting annoyingly cuter as he ages?

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Weekend of the Unwell

    Hello from the Plague House! We don’t know what it was, but we do know it hated us and wanted us dead.

    I don’t get sick very often. I wash my hands a lot. I mean, A LOT! So much that my kids complain about my chapped skin when I touch them. So does my husband. I have a bit of a Cinderella complex, so I tell them my hands are rough from doing too many dishes.

    Monkey often tells me I should take a week off.  When I ask, “Who’s going to do the dishes?” he always volunteers his dad. We think Monkey is excellent management material.

    I was rather put out with this virus for having the nerve to attack me. First, because it should be a universal law that moms are exempt from illness while the rest of the family has it. And, second, because there should be at least one bonus to having sandpaper skin like mine.

    But I was not immune. For four days straight one or all of the three boys in the house had a temperature over 100. Friday I had a migraine then realized I was coming down with the crud. 

    On Saturday I felt like death.
    Freezing, aching death. 
    Death under a frozen lake. 
    My temperature was 99. 
    Yeah, that’s as spectacular as it gets.

    The four of us spent the entire weekend on the couch, which really should be fumigated now. I think we watched every episode of iCarly on Netflix. At one point we even watched a frequently interrupted, but seemingly important, football game. We decided to root for the Ravens because we liked the Edgar Allan Poe association, but even that proved a weak selling point and we went back to iCarly.

    I’ve lost count of how many trips to Walgreens my husband or I made. Saturday night I made a late night run for Pedialyte popsicles and Gatorade. There’s no hiding your condition when you slouch through the Walgreens check-out with four different electrolyte replacement products. The cashier kept a good two feet between herself and the counter between us then Lysoled everything I’d touched as I walked out the door. I didn’t blame her.

    The next night when I went back to buy humidifiers I actually combed my hair and kept the sniffling to a minimum. This time the cashier gave me a pleasant “Have a good evening” and no sign of the cross as I left.

    The only good thing about being sick is giving myself permission to sit around and read all day. I started Cindi Madsen’s novel, All the Broken Pieces. I have to say, Cindi had a stroke of genius when she combined a modern-day Frankenstein story with the angst of a high school girl who wants to fit in and be herself. Makes me wish I’d thought of it.

    So what makes you feel better when you’re sick? Movie marathons? Ice cream? Frightening Walgreen’s employees with your wretchedness?

    Have you ever stuck tissues up your nose and waited for death?

    And if you were Frankenstein’s monster, hiding on the fringes of society, what would you think of Beyonce’s half-time show?