Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

This morning started with the usual weekday routine. Drag lazy carcass out of bed (self, not hubby’s—he’s too heavy to drag), say good morning to early-riser child who is catching up on everything important in the world via ESPN, then wake sleepy teen boy who slept all night on his sister’s bedroom floor after falling asleep while listening to a Junie B. Jones book-on-CD. I’ll admit; it is tough to pull yourself away from the antics of the most obnoxious first-grader and her friends. Wowie, wow, wow!

He finally showers and comes downstairs with a plain white T-shirt on and jeans. Apparently at his high school it’s acceptable to wear a costume today, and since I refused to run to Target last night at 9 o’clock in search of an afro so he could go as a white Jimi Hendrix, he opted to be Three-Hole-Punch Jim from The Office. All I had to do was wonder-under some black felt circles down the front of his shirt and he was set. Sure was easier than the princess costume I made for his sister. Or the gansta ghost his brother made.

Going to cut this short. It’s in the mid-70s outside, and I’m headed for the back patio to work on my novel. It’s just too pretty to be sitting behind the computer today. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am not (completely) responsible

They were warned. When my daughter started preschool this year, I told her teacher and her assistant that things might come out of my child’s mouth for which I could not be blamed. She has two brothers, ages 12 and 15, and along with overhearing their conversations, they also think it’s funny to teach her phrases inappropriate for a four-year-old.

Yesterday when I picked her up from school, Mia’s teacher told her friend’s mother that Morgen had a hard time keeping her pants up so they fashioned a belt out of a piece of yarn for her. Then Ashley, the teacher’s assistant, said through giggles that while Morgen’s too-big britches slipped down, Mia shouted out, “Hey, Morgen. Crack kills!” Gee, wonder who taught her that?

Rewind to Saturday’s soccer game when she insisted on wearing her Belle dress and latched onto her brother’s bling (from his gangsta ghost) as an accessory. He gave her a line to recite if anyone asked her what she had around her neck. She was only too happy to comply. So when one mom asked her about her gaudy necklace, she said, “That’s ma chain, foo’!”

Also note from the picture how she is wearing no shoes. Half-way to the game (which is 45-minutes away with no traffic), we noticed she was put in her carseat without shoes. We spent the pre-game warm-up time driving around looking for a Payless so we could buy her some shoes and never found one. Forgetting to put shoes on your child is a sure sign we are too old to be having children.

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's good to be king

Saturday proved to be a good day for the middle child. (Don’t believe everything you read about birth order. He’s a well-adjusted preteen.) He scored a goal in his last soccer game for the season. (Might have had something to do with the fact I brought along a camera.) Then we zipped to his band competition at a neighboring middle school in time for him to play his percussion piece but not advance to the next round. He practiced and knew it, but got a little nervous and stumbled a bit. While this might not sound like good news, he didn’t mind since his friend Madalynn didn’t advance either, and he admits she works harder than he does at percussion.

Then off we drove to get some groceries and arrived home in time to put together his costume for a masquerade dance at school Saturday night. His costume: a gangsta ghost. His brother embellished the sheet with some bullet holes and he reused the Elvis sunglasses from a few Halloweens ago. He topped it all off with some bling and a crooked cap. Made me a little nostalgic for the year he dressed up as Hercules and roamed around the neighborhood with his “muskels” flexed.

The good day got even better when he arrived home from the dance with a gaudy gold crown on top of his baseball cap. He had been crowned king and Madalynn won queen. Not a bad day for the kid.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Momma's got a brand new 'do

Yesterday I sought refuge from my hair disaster in a new salon. My daughter’s preschool teacher told me about her cousin who cuts hair, and since her teacher’s hair looked evenly cut and presentable, I took her cousin’s name and called her salon. Lucky me, she had an opening!

When I walked in and asked for Amanda, I’ll admit I did hesitate a bit when the girl (trust me, I have underwear older than she is) with black hair and blue highlights, a lip ring and tattoos, said, “I’m Amanda.” With as much authority as I could muster without an undertone of bitchiness, I said to her before sitting down, “Look. I am forty-something and I can’t pull off anything too crazy. I’d like to look updated but not trendy. Got it?” She got it.

Amanda was a good listener and an even better stylist. Forty minutes later I was washed, cut, styled and on my way. Now I look a little like Victoria Beckham’s older, darker-haired, less-fit and much poorer second cousin, once removed.

And for those of you who called or emailed your hair horror stories or asked for a picture of my bad hair: Thank you for sharing and NO, I am not posting a photo of me with Cher-hair. It’s taken me two days to stop singing “If I could turn back time…”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Are you my mother?

I was way overdue for a haircut. Last week, in an attempt to transform the mop into some semblance of style, I flipped the ends up with my flatiron. “Cool hair,” my 12-year-old son said as I entered the room. “Yeah,” seconded his brother, “you look like Jimmy Neutron’s mom.” Not exactly the look I was going for, but he meant it as a compliment, I think, so I brushed off the notion that I was walking around with cartoon hair.

So I went in yesterday and had it cut. I’d used this stylist before, but had another woman cut my hair the last time. It seems whenever I move, it takes a few attempts to find someone who really cuts my hair to my satisfaction.

I made the mistake of not having a clear idea of how I wanted it cut. Instead I rattled off general directions such as: keep the length, trim the dead stuff, and bangs? Sure, why not? As the hair began to fall, I started to get a bad vibe, but it’s hard to judge a cut when it’s still wet.

The bad vibes intensified as she started drying it. The layering got poofy and I caught a glimpse of Loretta Lynn—the early years—staring back at me from the mirror. Before she could finish, I blurted out, “Oh, I don’t like it!” So she stopped and offered to flatiron it, and I went from country music-singer coif to Carol Brady flip. “Better?” she asked. Well… I muttered something, paid for the disaster and left. I haven’t cried over my hair since a ‘do my mom gave me which involved a home perm and Dippity-Do, but I came close in the parking lot.

I had planned to run some errands post-cut, but just couldn’t. Instead I ran home, got my flatiron out and tamed the flip. The end result looked like Pat Benatar with bed-head.

I text-messaged my husband, my sister, and my friend Jennifer with: I HATE MY HAIRCUT! My husband called and listened to me whine, but there wasn’t much he could do. Then I called my writing partner, Joan, who empathized and said, “I can’t believe you told her you didn’t like it.” I had to—I’m not a good enough actress to fake enthusiasm through potential tears. Then Jennifer called and convinced me to take a picture of myself with my cell phone and send it to her. I knew it was bad when she called back and said, “Just wait and see what the boys say when they get home from school. And smile, so they don’t think something’s wrong.”

The first boy arrived home and said, “What happened?” I responded, smiling as instructed, “I got my hair cut!”

“Oh,” he said. “Don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but you look like a witch.” Gee, I thought, and just in time for Halloween. So I tucked the sides of my hair behind my ears. “Better?” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Now it looks like a mullet.”

Second son got home an hour later and asked, “What’d you do?” Again, through teeth clenched in a smile, I said, “I got a haircut!”

“You look like a drag queen,” he said. So I asked, “You mean it looks like a bad wig?” and he nodded, still stunned to find his mom looking like Cher—without the cool clothes.

Then his younger brother joined the conversation and suggested, “Maybe you should be like Britney and just shave your head.”

Really? I think he might be onto something. Then maybe I could convince a judge to get K-Fed to take these kids.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want

My friend in Arkansas (everyone say, “Hey, Jennifer!”) sent me this yesterday. Apparently someone she knows had a going away party for a woman at their office. One of the office supervisors called a local Wal-Mart bakery and ordered a cake for the celebration.

He told the bakery person to write: "Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you." As the picture shows, message sent does not necessarily mean, message received properly. Of course they brought it to the party anyway. It was too funny not to!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Should you really take that call?

The other day I was at the post office, waiting in line to use the self-service postage machine. (In my opinion, the PO’s smartest invention since the sticker-stamp.) I’m sure some of you are even savvier and print your postage from home online. I’ve tried that a few times, but I’m never good at guessing how much something weighs, so I inevitably head to my nearest branch.

The man in front of me is on his cell phone, and I label him a rebel—one of “those” people for whom rules don’t apply because our PO states clearly on the door: No Cell Phones. So Mr. Rule Breaker spends the next ten minutes trying to mail one large envelope on the scale as he’s being coached on the other end of the phone by someone, I assume it’s his wife. And this is a safe assumption, because I know my husband has never attempted to mail anything on his own. He has his secretary mail work stuff and I handle the personal mail.

Mr. Rule Breaker asks his phone: “What do you think? Do I need delivery confirmation? Okay. Now it’s asking for insurance…yeah, okay, no insurance. Will the label fit? How big’s the label?” It really takes every bit of restraint in me not to push him aside, tell him to hang up the forbidden phone, and let me do it.

Because I see him everywhere. He’s always at the grocery, clutching a list his wife wrote in one hand, pushing a cart with the other and trying to keep a cell phone wedged between his shoulder and ear. “Yeah, do we buy Heinz or Hunts? Okay, but the Kroger brand’s on sale. Yeah, okay. And then you have on here butter. Do you want the stick kind or the stuff in a plastic thing?”

Honestly. I can picture him later. “Yeah, I know you told me not to call again, but it’s kinda important. Yeah, there’s only one-ply in here and I’m not sure it’s going to work. Yeah, I guess I don’t have another option. You’re right. I’ll just use more than normal. Front to back, or back to front? Okay. No, I won’t forget; I think this one flushes itself. No, I’ll wash my hands…with soap. Okay. No, I won’t call anymore. I promise. No, I really promise. Okay.”

Yeah, it’s a wonder they can breathe without our telling them to.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can't stand the crickets

Here in North Texas the dog days of summer have been replaced by the cricket days of fall.

The other night, on garbage-eve, I rolled the industrial-sized blue monster away from the house and cricket central came alive from underneath it. Now, if there’s one thing I hate more than garbage duty, it’s a surprise attack from a secret sect of stowaway crickets. I find any creature that comes flying out at me not particularly enjoyable, especially when it’s the end of the day and my reflexes are shot from wrangling kids.

I dragged the blue beast out to the curb and nearly stepped on a toad the size of my head on the sidewalk. Apparently camping out under a street lamp provided an all-you-can-eat buffet of crickets and other critters. He must have been full because he didn’t even budge. Good thing. You know how I hate things hopping out at me.

I wouldn’t mind the crickets if they’d stay outside, but invariably some have made it indoors. Uninvited. I found one under the dining room hutch the other day, attempting to out-hop a dust bunny. The dust bunny won. He scrambled for awhile, trying in vain to free his legs, but those dust bunnies don’t give up easily or fight fair. I had to walk away.

A few others decided to serenade us late at night, conjuring up my memories of church camp. I fell asleep humming kum-by-ya and longing for a s’more. Others I’ve scooped up with a scrap of paper and flung outdoors for the toads and frogs. It’s not that I think they’re sacred and won’t kill one. I can’t stand the crunch when you smoosh it, so it’s easier to serve them up as an outdoor appetizer.

We have a storm blowing in today, and I’m wondering what season approaches now. The lizard days of October? Fine, as long as they don’t jump out at me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ellen should have called me first

If you haven’t seen the footage yet, perhaps you’ve heard Ellen DeGeneres’ urgent, heartfelt plea to the Mutts and Moms rescue center to return Iggy—the dog she adopted, spent more than my house payment having it neutered and tutored to commune with her cats and then later gave away to her hairdresser’s family. Apparently Ellen didn’t realize that once you adopt a stray, you can’t dump the dog nobody wanted on someone who finally does. It’s just against the rules. Go figure.

I feel for you, sister. Trust me. I have searched my own stray adoption papers for a loop-hole, but I was looking for a paragraph that would allow me to ask for compensation for damages caused by my “free to a good home” dog named Jett. He would cause us to replace: a perfectly good fence with an even better, taller fence to keep him from jumping over it; a backdoor frame twice and eventually the whole door; the wooden rails on the deck; every Beanie Baby’s nose he ever came in contact with; the dog bed I sewed him; an upholstered chair; and more stuff that we just threw out. How could something that looked so innocent in his little doggy jail cause so much damage?

And then came the night when Lori drove to book club and brought me home only to realize that I had no house keys and was locked out. Everyone at my house was already asleep. I hated to, but I rang the doorbell. Who showed up at the door? The dog. I called our home phone, no answer. I called my husband’s cell, ditto. I knocked, I banged, I kicked and no one heard me except Jett the Wonder Dog. Desperately I pleaded through the window next to the front door for him to give me a reason to not regret his adoption. “Jett! Go get Daddy!” I commanded. He just looked back at me and wagged his tail. If Lori thought I was crazy for trying, she didn’t say so. But she did leave her SUV’s lights on so we could see what we were doing—or more accurately, what we weren’t doing. Eventually Coma Man awoke, might I add without the gentle nudge of Jett’s wet nose, and my husband staggered to the door to let me in, just in time to help attach the jumper cables to Lori’s dead battery. And did Jett offer to help? What do you think?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who knew tape could be so fun

My girlfriend Leanna (who also happens to be a professional photographer: sent me a photo of her two girls and their friends as they were leaving for their homecoming dance. One of the girls’ friends wore a long white dress trimmed in turquoise. A dress she made herself—entirely out of duct tape. (I didn’t realize it came in colors now!) My boys have gotten creative with duct tape before, and I was quite impressed when they covered a piece of cardboard with a roll of the stuff and created a wallet. But this girl is in another league entirely! Not only am I impressed with her creativity, but as a teenager, I would have never had the confidence to step out in a dress so different than everyone else’s. I like her and I’ve never met her. Leanna also said that the girl’s date had a matching turquoise tape suit. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My daughter does stand-up at Starbucks

I had a meeting this morning at Starbucks to discuss a magazine article/series I’m helping to write. We convened an hour before preschool started for my daughter, so I did the unprofessional working-mom thing and took her with me. (The publisher was forewarned and gave me the green light.) On the way there, I coached Mia as she sat behind me in her car seat: “Mommy has a meeting and you have to be a good girl. You can draw, you can drink your milk, but you have to be quiet.” Very matter-of-factly she said to me, “Mom, you know I will be.” And so I said, “Yeah. You’re right.” Then she replied, “So why did you have to tell me to?” Should I tell her I always over-think things or question the inevitable? No, I just said, “Good point.”

She lived up to her end of the bargain. For the first 40 minutes or so she kept quiet, snuggling on my lap or drawing pictures of herself in grand, long, stripey dresses. And then she got a whiff of something baking right when she ran out of milk, and we had to get up and explore the dessert case. I talked her out of any of their cakes (none were chocolate), and she wanted a cinnamon roll only for the gooey icing on top. So we settled on another round of milk, and she picked out a stuffed pumpkin toy.

I gave her some cash and then stepped aside so she could pay for her things herself as the line grew to several folks deep. As she handed over her money, the cashier asked her what she was going to be for Halloween, and Mia made her guess. The young woman asked, “A princess?” And Mia giggled, “Yes!” Then the cashier told her she was going dressed as Tinkerbell which triggered more giggling. And since we’ve been reading joke books most nights before bed, a light bulb went off over my daughter’s head, and she said to the cashier, “I know a good joke about that.” I searched my brain, trying to decide where she was going with this. Of course she asked Mia to tell her the joke, and my daughter said, “What do you call a fairy who never takes a bath?” The cashier smiled and said, “I have no idea!” Mia called out, “Stinkerbell!” The laughter surrounded her as those in line were listening in.

I had an idea my child could be a good girl at a place with no kids’ menus or color-on-me placemats. The delightful surprise came when she was entertaining to boot!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rain, rain, makin' me crazy

Yesterday it was raining like it rarely does here in North Texas, a real thunderstorm early in the morning. It was the kind of rain that makes you want to hunker down under the covers and order someone to make you some pancakes and bacon. Pronto! Until you realize that Someone would be you. No one else seems to know how to find the stove or if they did, they’d say they didn’t know how to light it.

After breakfast of a bagel and banana (I’m trying to not eat chocolate before noon any more), I drove the boys to school since lightning still threatened and they refused to walk, and then got my daughter up and dressed for preschool, knowing we’d be late today. Luckily her school just heavily fines you if you’re late on the pick up—not on the drop off. Apparently punctuality only matters when the teacher is ready to unload a rowdy group of toddlers.

As we got out of the van, I pulled her rain-jacket hood up, popped open my umbrella and noticed my friend Tracy’s SUV across the parking lot. Not terribly unusual to see her running late too, but she has a baby to blame it on. We’re just not morning folks. I see some movement behind the wheel and wave to her as we make a dash for the entrance. When we get to the sidewalk, we run into Tracy with the baby and she says, “You were waving to my dog.” Uhhh. Hard to come back with an intelligent response. I could blame it on the rain (isn’t that a song?) or her expertly tinted windows. But it’s more of a reflection of my life these days. Some days I seem to have it all together. Other times, I’m just wavin’ at someone’s dog.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I meet the most interesting people...

Last week I interviewed Ken Colburn, the founder and president of Data Doctors, a computer service company. He mentioned that he loves owning a company that franchises because he gets to work with people from all walks of life, who he might never come in contact with if he just worked at an office. I had to agree. In the past two weeks, I have interviewed: a plastic surgeon, an administrator at our school system, a staff member of one of our state’s House of Representatives, and talked with three publishers about writing assignments. Who knows what this week might bring? How about you? Does your job allow you to interact with some amazing people? Mine sure does.

And even though now I spend much of my allotted writing time away from my next novel, I know that someday having interviewed professionals about Med Spas—the latest in noninvasive plastic surgery—will come in handy. I’m sure that Jac, a character in my work-in-progress, will need Botox sooner or later, and I’ll know exactly where she’ll go to have it done. Or if Jac’s computer crashes, I’m sure the closest Data Doctors will fix her right up.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

sunday, sunday

It's been one of those days. Trying to get an article written before tomorrow's deadline. Hate to work on Sunday, but I need to finish two interviews and hoped to catch them home today. No luck so far. Feel as though I'm missing out on what the family is doing. Can hear a football game on TV in the den. Have no idea what we are eating for dinner. Will tear myself away from the computer soon to finish up some laundry and poke around in the fridge.