Thursday, November 27, 2008

History through the eyes of a five-year-old

How did the pilgrims come to America? On the Mayflower, of course! (For some reason, they looked like Indians...)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Trailer to Love

One of my favorite parts of going to the movies is watching the trailers for the movies I’m not seeing. Even renting a video is fun because you can see what other shows are out there that you somehow missed. Unless you’re watching a kids’ movie. My daughter watched a movie while she was sick (okay, she watched it more than once) and learned the intro to Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (She cracks herself up saying it.) Now she’s convinced she needs to see the movie. I thought we missed it at the theater and she could wait until the video came out and I would conveniently not be in the room when it was on. But no. It’s still showing here—she saw a poster of it the other day.

I can’t think of a fate worse than having to sit through it. I remember taking my boys to see Pokemon: The Movie with my friend Wila and her kids. Wila sat on the aisle and I warned her before the lights dimmed, “If you slip out and go see another movie without me, our friendship is officially over!” She just laughed. And didn’t leave. Did I mention she’s a stronger woman than I? The only thing that kept me from bolting was having to stumble over five kids and an extra large bucket of popcorn.

Some kids’ movies are not so bad. Enchanted I loved but probably because of James Marsden. (Did you think I was going to say Patrick Dempsey? No.) And some animated shows are awesome. But now I enjoy taking my oldest to see movies he likes. He and I have a lot in common and appreciate British comedies and satire. Over the Thanksgiving holiday—since his dad and brother are going to be AWOL at an out-of-town soccer tournament—I asked him to put together a list of movies he wants to see and I’m planning a run to Blockbuster later today. (We both secretly want to work there.)

I might have to add to his list Milo and Otis or The Incredible Journey. Something with a dog in it for his sister to watch. But after she goes to bed, the DVD player is ours.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I escaped to my local Star$s today for a cup of tea and some time to write in a different location. I went up to the counter to place my order and the guy working there said, "Hey. Cool sweater."

"Thanks," I said.

The other guy looked at him and frowned. "Hey, I'm into sweaters," came my guy's response.

And even though I promised myself I wouldn't, I confessed to him, "Wanna know where I got it? Goodwill!"

He, being a fellow frugal fashion finder, said, "Guess where I got mine? Thrift World! It's my favorite sweater, too."

I nodded. I could appreciate a guy who believed that it's not where you shop, but how you wear it. And then I picked up my cup of tea (that cost nearly as much as my lovely new-to-me sweater), found a sunny spot and a comfortable chair, and spent the next two hours with some other colorful characters...those in my new story.

Bad Week?

In case you've had a rough week and need to end it on a cheerful note...try this: Will you take a spider?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can I get a witness?

Words of advice from nasty virus sufferer and five-year-old daughter Mia.

"Diarrhea should not be called diarrhea because it has the word die in it and that's not good for kids to say."

Monday, November 17, 2008


Joan emailed me the other day and asked if I wanted to NaNo with her. Those of you who don’t write fiction may not know what she meant. I’m not versed on the origin of NaNoWriMo, but someone decided to challenge others to take the month of November and write a novel. Apparently quality isn’t the goal here, just quantity to the tune of 50,000 words in 30-odd days. I’m assuming you spend at least December revising and fine tuning it to be something readable. For some literary agents, the nightmare begins in early December when they receive all the NaNo first drafts in their inboxes as writers seek representation.

NaNoWriMo has grown to a support community where you get emails encouraging you to keep up with the word count. I have been saving mine to read later. (Those truly curious can click on the button on my blog here to the left, under my mug.)

So, since I’d already started a new manuscript, I signed up. Now it’s become a source of guilt because I’m so far behind on the word count, I probably couldn’t even finish a novella in time. Last time I wrote, I had 5,124 words. That was five days ago before my daughter came down with a virus. Then gave it to her brother. They are both still home from school today.

No, instead of writing my next novel (or on my blog), I’ve been playing board games and card games, reading story books and holding up flash cards. At times I’m the vet for an assortment of stuffed animals who somehow end up getting mauled by a large dog or stepping on nails. Don’t ask where she gets this stuff. The scanner on my daughter’s cash register doubles as a hand-held x-ray, and the stuffed puppies end up spending the night on the sofa recovering. The bill is getting expensive.

Now I’m trying to find food for two children who can’t seem to keep anything in them. Icee-pops anyone? I have been cautiously eating only a little and only things I don’t really like in case I’m the next victim. (I still can’t eat Burger King or Panda Express from my last vomit episodes.)

Sometimes I’ll sneak away to the computer, and I’ve been following the tragedy behind Nebraska’s safe haven law loophole that has sparked parents there to abandon their children in droves. The law was supposed to provide a no-fault escape for parents of newborns to leave their babies at hospitals or police and fire stations. Nebraska legislators couldn’t agree on a maximum age and therefore left it to read “child” as opposed to “newborns” as all the other states did. Now parents are dropping off hard-to-handle teenagers. Sadly two children escaped from their mother en route and are now missing. What horror this has been for these kids!

Parenting is not easy and even though I’m ready for a break from the demands of sick kids, I can’t imagine being so distraught that I would think my child better off with strangers than with me.

Okay, just like in my novels, sometimes my writing takes off in a direction I didn’t plan. As this blog post just did. The image of these abandoned children has weighed on my heart this week and here it is on the page now. Hopefully somewhere down the road, these kids will recover from their plights and make better lives for themselves. I hope Nebraska finds a way to make amends for their oversight. Maybe offer free parenting classes or a safe house for teens?

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Nighttime conversation with my daughter...

She: Why do people say, You have ears like a hawk?
Me: Not ears, eyes. You can’t see a hawk’s ears.
She: Oh. What has really good ears?
Me: I guess a rabbit. They’re pretty big.
She: And what can smell really well?
Me: A dog, I suppose. Some dogs better than others.
She: So, you have eyes like a hawk, ears like a rabbit and you smell like a dog?
Me: (Laughing) I don’t think telling someone they smell like a dog would be considered a compliment.
She: (Laughing now too) Oh, yeah. I guess that would be bad.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Race Race

My son came home from school the other day and said his freshman geography teacher had some advice for filling out college applications. She said those who were white males stood a better chance at getting into a college and obtaining some form of financial aid or scholarship if they checked OTHER under the heading of RACE. Technically, she said, this is not a lie. Not many white people are really white. We are German, Polish, French…Other. My son has a friend whose mother is black and his father is Asian. Blasian is the term he uses at times. And for fun he says he is “Blackie Chan.” Would he check whichever race box that seemed more advantageous?

My son’s teacher had a point but I think trying to dupe the system would fail. I’d like to see the RACE heading completely eliminated. If we truly believe we are all equal and that employers and colleges and friends see not our skin color, then why still insist we pick one? I know it’s the law and history established the precedence. Equal opportunity. Affirmative Action. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. But since public schools no longer restrict access based on race, shouldn’t all children seeking college admission be judged equally?

I know my neighborhood school has more resources than schools in poorer neighborhoods. But the issue of race isn’t the determining factor. Children of all races are educated alongside my white children. Perhaps instead of a place for race on the application, why not indicate the ZIP code of your high school? Colleges could then factor in the quality of your education based on resources made available to you.

The issue of race came into play during our recent election, and it bothers me to hear our president-elect referred to as our first black president. His father is black but his mother is white. Doesn’t that make him white, too? Or biracial? If my children’s father were black, I would want them to think that my heritage was as much a part of their makeup as their father’s.

For Obama’s sake, I hope he is remembered as a great president who achieved success that had nothing to do with his race. It’s like an asterisk forever beside his name. Wouldn’t he prefer that no concession be given to him based on his heritage? Conversely, will people shrug off his missteps, nodding to the fact that, Well, he is a black president. Therefore our expectations are lower? I certainly hope not.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One minute

If you had one minute to make a difference in the world, what would you do?

My kids and I would pick up trash around our neighborhood. Hopefully that would inspire others to do the same and we'd get some fresh air and exercise in the process.