Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Did We Get Here?

The title alone makes me think of that Talking Heads song, Letting the Days Go By...

One of many songs that I cheerfully sing incorrectly every single time.

Anyhoo, Self, how did I get here? Or more to the point, how did you get there? Well, I'll tell you. By the way, have you noticed that I'm only indenting one space between sentences now? One of my magazine editors smacked me upside the head and reminded me that this 2012, not 1912, and if I didn't stop indenting three spaces she was going to kill me. Not really on the death threat. But I tried explaining to her that I taught myself to type at the age of eleven (back in 1912) from an extremely old, antique, how-to manual for secretaries. Today, we'd call them Executive Assistants, but like I said, this was a very old manual. Anyway, old habits are hard to break. I don't indent to begin a new paragraph anymore; I think that's something.

See? Even though I want to do it like this:


But letting go of Talking Heads and secretaries, I was going to tell you how a lot of people find this blog. My stats can be amusing. Here are a few of the words people googled and were directed here instead:

she has juvenile bunions. 
Hmm. Are these worse than senior bunions? Less experienced bunions? Why bunions at all? Evidently, they plague America and America must google. Weirdly enough, this sentence is one of the TOP referring sentences of all time on this blog. We're talking, like, 40 people googled this and came here.

fondant preacher. I don't even know what to say. I have never seen a preacher made of fondant. It seems wrong to eat your minister somehow.

jami gertz. Ah, I love her too, but if you clicked here thinking you'd find her moonlighting as a blogger, you'll be disappointed. I did mention her once, during a starry eyed memory of one of my favorite movies, The Lost much do I love that whole cast? Great. Now I'm going to cry over Corey Haim again. Just when I think I'm over it...

analeigh tipton hung. Also analeigh tipton feet. Both are disturbing. Please do not plot to hang her or feel the need to ogle her feet. This is a family blog.

There have been other odd and strange referring words, but I hope you all found what you were looking for when you came, and decided to stick around.

Also, one of my biggest referring sites is which I had never heard of, but makes me feel very rocker chick, indie, bad#$% somehow. Alternative people love me! Aw, shucks. Maybe it's them who are looking for relief for their juvenile bunions? We may never know. They're a secretive bunch.

However you got here, thanks for coming and keep it up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Where's My Mini-Me?

Originally published by Home Educating Family. Reprinted with permission by HEF and the author (that's me).

You know how irritating it is when you gestate a human for ten months and expel it from your nether regions only to have someone comment how much your infant looks like your husband? You can smile all you want, but inside you’re seething a little because come on, you gave up your very life and soul and brain cells and coordination and sleep and those size four jeans – the least that baby could do is look like you, right? Sadly, the burning desire to personally populate the earth with clone troopers of yourself never seems to dwindle from that point on. So, they look like Hubby or maybe Great Aunt Ethel or Heaven forbid, Uncle Krusty, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll share your love for books, for gardening, for expensive footwear, or all things cheese.
But maybe they won’t.
There have been some cute things running around Facebook lately about left brains and right brains. This confuses me because I don’t really seem to fit in in either brain. Great, I’m a No Brain. I knew it! Curses. I’m being picked last for the dodge ball tournament of brainiacs. As usual. And weirdly enough, whenever I am clearly one-or-the-other-brained on something, my daughter will be the very opposite.
Case in point:
Me: “Let’s go on a nature walk! We can take hot cocoa in travel mugs and pick up leaves and sketch pictures of rock formations!”
Daughter: “Nah, I have to finish reading about millipedes.”
Huh? Wha? What language is the young whippersnapper speaking anyhow?  Here’s another conversation I recently had with my very left brained daughter:
Me: “Get off the computer already! I have to pin education things on Pinterest because it makes me feel like I’m a better homeschooling mom!”
Daughter: “I’m not done with my science lesson.”
Me: “Science? Who told you to do some science? I don’t even require science in this here homeschool!”
It’s like we are on a totally different planet sometimes. Then, there’s my other daughter, who is definitely right brained. (See? Everyone has a clear brain except for me. My brain can’t decide whether to organize my junk drawer or paint unicorns on the walls. Make a to-do list or write poetry? Research something or invent a cookie recipe? Do you see my problem?)
Me: “Hey, daughter, could you get out of that tree and try to accomplish something today?”
Other daughter: “I am accomplishing something: I’m learning to speak caterpillar and braiding my hair.”
Me: “I think we need a science lesson.”
Other daughter: “I think we should skip that idea and you should go invent a new cookie recipe.”
Me: “Okay!”
My third child being a boy – one of those strange, unexplained enigmas of the male species – I have yet to figure out which brain he has. It’s been flipped upside down like a pancake so many times from his ninja practice that I’m not sure there is anything left but green jello inside his noggin. But he’s awfully cute, so we’re hoping he’s not college material.
But in all seriousness, it’s hard to have children who are in every way possible, opposite than you yourself are. If you are a night owl, you can bet your bottom dollar you will have one of those types who spring out of bed at five a.m. and bounce through the house singing at the top of his lungs while you stumble to the coffee maker and place your lips under the dispenser. I’m a big reader and someone lied to me when I had my first baby. I know! Can you imagine lying through your teeth to a pregnant lady? They said – get this – if you read to your baby and your children grow up watching you love books then they will become readers themselves.
No, they won’t. They will just turn the volume on the television up louder and learn to get away with all sorts of mischievous shenanigans while Mommy is absorbed in a political thriller. I’ve followed this erroneous advice to the letter. Why, I’ve even gone above and beyond in my fevered pursuit to educate my children and make them into bibliophiles! I’ve read so much I’ve burned dinner, forgotten to bathe babies, not shopped for milk, boiled kettles dry, and nearly starved the dog, but do you think my children are big readers? Not hardly. They take after their dad yet again and tell me they’ll wait for the book to come out in a wii version. It’s like they haven’t seen my sacrifice at all…it’s a pickle.
The rebellion of my children doesn’t stop there. They don’t always like the same foods, the same activities, the same hobbies, or the same life goals. Example: I want to have a quiet bubble bath. They do not want me to have a quiet bubble bath. I want them to sleep a full twelve hours every night. They insist on getting by with nine. I have a fear and loathing of crafts. They seem to enjoy the evil little activities. I love to write. They would rather bang their foreheads against the table in a strange synchronized melody. They like K-Love. I like Bon Jovi.
I suppose there are some things we have in common. We all like Everything Bagels, movies, dogs, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We may argue on the movie choice (I refuse to watch Homeward Bound II one more time. Ever. Everrrrrrrrrrrrrr. They refuse to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers one more time. Ever. Spoil sports).  We may argue on the snack food during said movie (I don’t like popcorn. I like sugar snap peas. They object. Spoil sports). But at the end of the day, our socked feet piled up on the couch together where you can hardly tell whose toes belong to whom, and the tantalizing smell of Everything bagels in the air, we are a family. Different. The same. Together, we make our world go round.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Hate Free Speech

The irony of me speaking that does not escape me.

I can say it.
Cuz I have free speech and all.
And that's awesome.

But there's a line and it really, really bothers me when people cross it.

When people mouth off about things that they haven't bothered to research. When they spout off opinions that are ignorant and judgmental and just plain mean, and they do it all with relative anonymity.

That really chaps my hide.

Is the world really full of mean spirited punks? Hateful bullies disguised as grown adults? Is that what we become when we can hide behind the safety of our own little computer? Spoiled, know-it-all, jerks with mouths full of hate?

I hate Youtube because I can't help myself from scrolling down and being appalled at the nastiness. I hate the comments people post about a celebrity who has gone from a size 0 to a God-forbid, size 4, and they trash her for being fat. I hate comedians because they're usually well spoken, popular bullies.

I hate that my girls are growing up during this age of the Tower of Babel run amuck.

I hate the bullying that goes on through kid's text messages and Facebook.  I hope texting and MySpace and Facebook are silly, looked-down, things of the past in a few short years when my kid's will be old enough to want them.

I hate when someone I sort of like and respect actually runs for office, because I hate it when nice enough people and their innocent families get dragged through the mud.  I'm usually glad when they don't win (and typically, no one I vote for ever wins...)

I hate that the lovely midwives who helped me deliver Gianni during a traumatic and dangerous birth have had their licenses suspended for being present at the births of some tragically, now deceased babies.  Their numbers are not high - not as high as the typical U.S. O.B.s even - but because of how much people love witch hunts, they are being destroyed.

What a finger pointing world we live in. People yelling about hate and lack of tolerance while they self righteously do the same thing.

People sitting around, crassly naval gazing, preaching at God for not intervening enough yet never doing anything themselves to help those they say they want to help. Indulgently chuckling at the religious who bring bibles to the poor and saying why didn't they bring food instead? Have they themselves or are they too busy posting judgmental comments and ran out of time?

I wonder sometimes when we are raging at God for allowing bad things to happen to good people, if He doesn't sigh and wonder the same about us. If He has a desk, He is probably banging His head against it just as often as we are, but for better reasons.

We can stop the bad and do something good. It doesn't mean the sky will fill with rainbows and unicorns will shoot Skittles out of their horn for you to munch on while you bask in the glory that is yourself and your awesomeness, but you can still do it. Sometimes, actually, you do it, and it hurts like heck. Like my midwives. Like me and my husband: we gave up everything we had and moved in with seven teenage inner city turkeys. It was incredibly unrewarding. It did not turn out well. There were no unicorns. There was rage and fights and exhaustion and danger and hopelessness. But we did it anyway. I don't say that to toot my own horn, but rather, that when you see a need, step up.

I hate all those things up above, but more than those, I hate the feeling of what if...

what if...I could have helped?
And not added to the hurt?

What we went through basically sucked. There you go. I wish I could tell you how it was all worth it in the end, but I'm not where I can say that just yet. But I am glad we did it; if we hadn't, we'd still be gazing at our navals, sighing over wishing we could do something big with our lives.

As goofy as it sounds, go out and be a light to someone today. It can be as complicated as volunteering somewhere that scares you, giving away money, considering foster care, or stepping in where you're needed, or it can be as simple as complimenting a frazzled mom at the grocery store (a quiet 'you're doing great, Mom' does wonders. I've been on both sides of that phrase), throwing a baby shower for a friendless woman, saying Yes to your kids all day, or leaving a waiter a big tip.

I guess my point is, leave a positive mark in a negative world. See some beauty.

If you close one eye and squint, you might even make out a unicorn.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Why in the name of all that is beautiful and lovely, do I even try to attempt to homeschool in Spring??
I must be daft.
My children are possessed by chocolate covered, ants in their pants, wiggle worms of the worst variety. They do not know their own middle names at this point; why am I trying to coax fractions or geography out of them?

Here are a few samples of how my offspring's brains turn to porridge this week:

Cora (supposed to be getting noon): I hate these socks! They're holey!

Anna: You don't like holey socks?

Cora: No, I hate everything holey!

Anna: MOMMMMMMM!  Cora hates Jesus!!!!!

Or take Gianni aka I-Do-All-My-Own-Stunts.  His injuries are outnumbered only by his knee jerk reaction to say either of these two things every three seconds:




You could ask him to please not stick his head in the toilet especially when he hasn't flushed yet and he would literally say,

Well, son of mine, do you want the answers numerically or alphabetically? Shall we start with feces and how most SANE people don't want them to come in contact with their faces?

Then there's Anna who decided to write her book report in Gnommish.
I was forced to give it an A seeing as how it could be the best thing ever written. If you're a Gnome.

Then there's the time she feverishly searched high and low for Egypt.
On the map of America.

Anytime I tried to intervene, she shushed me and shouted,
"I can do it! Leave me alone! Don't help! I've almost got it!"

Oh, and let us not forget the fact that my sweet baby, Feces Face, is out front, stalking  birds with a plastic, sawed off shotgun. It's not really sawed off, it got stepped on, but I don't think the neighborhood watch will notice the difference. Or the plastic. Turn in at five to see us on the news. I'll be the one popping garlic stuffed olives in my mouth like Xanax.

So, I think I quit.

I bought those garlic stuffed olives yesterday, along with some hummus, some sharp white cheddar, and a bottle of something red. I figure I don't have to come out of my room for at least a week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Ballerina.

Originally published by Home Educating Family Magazine.  Reprinted with permission by the author (that's me).

Growing up homeschooled in the eighties and nineties gave my little sister and me the time, focus, dedication, drive, and commitment that it took to fulfill (almost) every little girl’s dream:  becoming ballerinas.  Of course there are little girls who scoff at tutus and tiaras and dream instead of cowgirl boots and mud pies (like a certain someone I gave birth to) but “When I grow up I want to be a ballerina” is a common wistful sigh on the lips of plenty of feminine youngsters.
The world of performing arts is a beautiful, timeless thing.  It’s also demanding, unyielding, competitive, and harsh.  The beauty of a ballerina in her sparkling white tutu is evenly matched with the bruised body and bloodied toes.  The life of a performer is at best, a dream come true, and at worst, self-destructive.  Can a starry eyed little homeschooled girl overcome the odds and live a fulfilling life on stage?

The answer, of course is yes. 

For the baby bunheads:
For just about every dance school out there, the little three and four year olds are the bread and butter of the business.  Creative Movement begins at that age and classes are filled to the brim with skipping, frolicking, twirling and swirling little tutu-ed sweet peas.  At Creative Movement you can expect your daughter to learn the basics of her body and the spaces that body fills, music and the differing sounds of beats and counts, role play, imagination, a smattering of ballet vocabulary, and all in all, a love for dance.  Expect an exuberant teacher who has a personality similar to a Disney princess, a class time of around 45 minutes once per week, a recital/showcase/performance where your sweetie will forget absolutely everything she learned, and expect to pay approximately $40 per month (depending on where you live).  Don’t expect Little Anna Pavlova to emerge at this age, but yes, you certainly can see talent this young…and everyone sees it in their daughter!

At around the ages of five to seven, more technique is introduced.  Your ballerina should be in a class that is one hour long in length, one time per week, and should know quite a few French words of vocabulary.  She should know all the basics, like plie, tondue, battement, jete, and the Five Positions (although they will only be using three).  This would be considered a Pre-Ballet level.  There will be stretching, barre work and center work.

For the elementary age bunheads:
At around the double digit age, ballet students should expect to take twice per week.  Levels in Ballet 1-4, or thereabouts, should expect a class time of 1-11/2 hours per class, higher intensity, opportunities to perform, and a good foundation of the art of ballet.  This can be an intimidating age to begin ballet, but there are always enough brand new 10-13 year olds who can be grouped in a class together in order to catch up.  Remember, there is always a phenom out there that you don’t want your daughter to compare herself to! 

For the teenage bunheads:
Once your daughter has entered into the teen years and has been in ballet for a good length of time you can expect extremely long hours, sore muscles, fierce competition, a fuel tank that is always on Empty, a separate bank account for point shoes, and rehearsals stacked on top of rehearsals.  Oh, and utterly terrifying toes that would make a grown lumberjack squeal like a little girl.  This is the age where they either drop out completely, or they dedicate themselves completely.  Neither option is wrong; it’s simply nearly impossible to dance at this age “for fun.”  The whole family will need to decide if this is a sacrifice they are willing to make.  Sacrifices can include relocation, financial stress, body image issues, and the devastation that can come if her dreams don’t materialize the way she envisioned.    This doesn’t mean that the journey isn’t worth it, but young ladies need to be encouraged to remember that is more to life than dancing. I don't like hearing expressions like, I would die without ballet. It's my whole life. There is no guaranteed happy ending for the passionate sixteen year old who believes ballet is her whole life and she would perish without it.  Injuries happen.  Lack of true talent happens.  God’s will happens.  Staying rooted and grounded in faith and family will be crucial in a young artist’s maturity. 
Have lots of good talks with your daughter about body image and health.  Unfortunately, eating disorders among ballerinas are very common place, accepted, and occasionally encouraged.  Sadly, healthy lifestyles are not the norm in the performing world.  It’s similar to driving by a hospital and seeing the nurses out back smoking: drive by a theater or art school and you’ll typically find the ballerinas smoking and drinking Diet Coke.  For some, this is the mainstay of their diet.

Find a studio:
Depending on the size of your town you may have little to choose from, or you may have a dance studio on every corner, like a Starbucks but without the caffeine.  Asking around and discovering their reputation is one great way to know where to start.  However please remember that one bad critique or review of a studio may not be the gospel truth!  Teachers juggle a delicate balance every day of loving strictness and the ever present “Stage Mom” can be a difficult beast to appease.  For every unhappy parent there are probably fifty happy ones, so be sure to get a lot of opinions.  If the over-all reputation is one of being too harsh, too flippant, too pricey, too flaky, or if you get the impression the owner is just someone who hung a shingle out front because her last business went under, then run don’t walk.  Or perhaps we should say chasse don’t pas de bourree!

For the boys:
Generally speaking, it’s the little girls who develop an interest in ballet, but of course there are boys too, who show a talent for dance.  And we’re so lucky they do!  What would a pas de deux be without the prince?  Male dancers have a bit of an easier time making a living with dancing, landing better roles, getting more attention, and snagging those scholarships, all because the competition is less ferocious. 

Final Curtain:
A simple Google search will bring up studios in your area, and also colleges with dance programs, Christian dance companies, performances, reviews, blogs, and biographies.  Have fun with your dancer and most of all, enjoy the show!

And please don't watch the show, Dance Moms. Talk about ridiculous. That woman turns out some talented dancers, yes (if you like the trashy, pre-teen stripper look), but her and those moms make me want to bang my head on my desk repeatedly. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

election day - sorta

You can vote for Shadows Gray in three categories, here on Goodreads!

Think it belongs on a different list, or want to start your own?  That sounds like a splendid idea!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lions, Tigers, and Socks, oh my!

This is me, entering my daughter's room.
They are not home.
Thus, I clean.
I purge.
It's a good feeling when I'm not screaming like a little girl at the things I find.
I quit counting at four trillion.
They are everywhere.
It is not normal.
Are they sneaking out at night, accosting socked people?
I have never seen half of these socks.
The dishes I was missing.
They have come home to roost in mommy's kitchen where they belong.
After I scraped out the molded broccoli. 
And I thought I had nothing to take to the Homeschool Science Fair.
My daughters are nasty, dirty, hoarders.
I don't think it's fair.
I'm tidy and organized.
Heck, check out my Pinterest wall if you don't believe me.
I may not hang my blouses according to color, but they are hung, by gum! And all facing the same way on the hangers, too.
Why was I cursed with two stinky, smelly, teenage boys, hiding in the bodies of innocent looking girls?
I stepped on a doll house chair and nearly died.
Anna's American Girl knock-off doll was at my eye level when I straightened up from a particularly back breaking job of under the bed sweeping, and I lost three years of my life.
I started out kind, not throwing too much away, but two hours later I became a sniveling wretch, mind bent on revenge, and I even threw away the only money I found: one quarter.
I now feel as though I have been camping in the wilderness for a week, covered in grime and stickiness, hungry, deranged, mildly hallucinatory. 
Thus the Doctor Who humor.
Here's another to leave you with as I go scrape the dirt, residue, stickers, and four pounds of sock fuzz off of my offending body.
Crap. I'm out of soap.

Slays me.

Love, your favorite nerd.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Do You Ever?

Do you ever write a book and then cast the movie in your head?

It's fun.

I recommend it.

Especially if 2/3 of the former inhabitants of your womb are gone for the day and the other 1/3 is lazing around in his pjs, watching episodes of Spider Man (Spiderman? SpiderMan?) and His Amazing Friends from 1981 on netflix.

It's easy to get lost on imbd. It's a delicious maze of bunny trails of the cinematic kind.

For those of you who have read the book (my favorite people in all the land), here's what I came up with:

Analeigh Tipton as Sonnet. When I saw her in Crazy, Stupid Love I leaned over to Mike and hissed in his ear, oh my heck, it's Sonnet!!! I'm pretty sure an up and coming young actress will be thrilled to know I just cast her in my movie for the book that has sold 34 copies. It'll probably make her day even.

Romola Garai as Emme.

James Macavoy as Luke.  Except he'll need to lighten his hair a bit.  I don't think he'll mind.  He likes me.  Also, he needs to not age cuz he's getting a little old for this part.

Collins Pennie as Israel.  Either him or Stephens Boss but he doesn't have a pensive enough head shot.

Saoirse Ronan as Rose.

Want to add your credits to the cast?  Are these how YOU pictured the characters when you read it?  Because you HAVE read it, right?  And if you haven't, you ARE about to, right?  And once you do, you'll share your reviews and comments on amazon, barnes and noble, and goodreads, right?  I'll wash your laundry and massage your feet and bake you potato cheese scones for the rest of your life.  I am not kidding.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Why? Why do the Road Trips God curse me every time? Is it something I said? Have I wronged them somehow?

Though not as mind-numbingly terrifying, white-knucklingly awful, brain-meltingly horrifying, as some I've been through and lived to tell the tale, this kind of driving is not my idea of a good time. I now understand why people retire in Florida. If it weren't for my dislike of 'gators and bugs bigger than my bread box, I'd be there now. 

On the plus side, I now need all two hands and two feet to count the number of highways I've shut down over the years. That's an accomplishment not many can boast. I barely make it through the White Witch's Winter Wonderland, my eyes blood shot from the force of the defroster melting my face, finger nail scratches on the windows, small children hyped up on the emergency candy supply (chewing makes them talk less which is a bonus when you are scared beyond belief and need quiet to plan your own funeral), blocks of ice eerily similar in size to the one that sunk the Titanic stuck to the windshield wipers, bladders about to burst, and the Lord's Prayer bursting forth out of my mouth in intermittent gasps, when I see friendly state troopers turning everyone back from the Mountain of Death and Dismemberment. Where are such friendly troopers when I attempt to go up the mountain, huh? Why are they always waiting at the bottom for me? Are they biding their time in order to judge my state of mind when I finally slide down on the black ice?

Hey, Roger Roger, here comes the Mommobile now. Gettin' a good look as she fishtails by...yeppers, by golly, her hair is white and there's a Twizzler stuck to her ear. That calls it for me: shut this mountain down, boys.

Roger that, over and out.

It really doesn't matter what time of year I plan a road trip. It doesn't matter what state lines I plan to cross. It doesn't matter what the weather men say. If your crops are in a drought, dear readers, I can save them. Either that, or bury them forever in snow: potAYto, potAHto. 

Now no more silliness. I must go unpack my suitcase; I'm fairly certain there's a small child in there somewhere eating all my Twizzlers.

Do you have a talent/gift for disaster that rivals mine? My shattered nerves would love to hear it.