Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Hairy Month of May

One of the advantages to freelance editing is that I can tweak my work schedule to accommodate life. Theoretically. For example, theoretically, I could work harder when the kids are in school and sock away some income so I can take a good vacation over the summer…theoretically.

Being an eternal optimist, I planned my year based on that theory.

Wa-a-ay back in January when I scheduled my projects for the spring. I decided to load up on work for the five months before school let out. This had the added advantage of decreasing the wait time for my clients as well, so it seemed like a win-win.

In reality, that theory has been blown out of the water. Plans never survive contact with the enemy—or reality--and all that.

Little A. is, to our delight, taking the rest of his pre-kindergarten year off. He stays home with me all day right now, which has been mostly the proverbial blessing and a little of the proverbial curse.

I am blessed that he flourishes, grows, learns, and shares delightful humor, wisdom, and observations with me every day. I am blessed that I stop and smell the roses—or in his case, look at the cool trucks—much more than I would otherwise. And I’m blessed to remember how sweet it is to have a little helper all day. I’m happy I get another taste of that companionship before they both spend more time away from the nest than in it.


I have somehow set myself up to edit 75,000 words and evaluate 800,000 words in about five weeks. Just to give you a little perspective, that’s like reading and evaluating four books the size of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. With an active, curious five-year-old in tow. Therein lies the teeny bit of a curse.

Don’t worry, I’ll do it and I’ll do it well, but it’s definitely brought about some changes here. The kids have picked up a few more 'do-it-myself tasks' (which they were probably due to start anyway). Big A. is taking on a bit more of the family management. The housework has become completely optional.

And I? I am disappearing into what is known as the edit cave for another few weeks. And stocking up on caffeine.

See you in a few weeks!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mothers' Day 2013

So, this year, Mothers' Day got me writing for S. It's a bit long, but I hope it's a quick read. Happy Mothers' Day to all the wonderful moms out there!

To My Daughter

An army lives in me
A host of women
I have been

A toddler stops in wonder
As a white horse gallops
Through her woods

A dressed-up bride
Beams satisfaction
As the camera clicks

Better late than never
A leggy girl masters
School and her bike

A bookworm spends recess
Jacketless, oblivious to all
A 700-page book on her lap

And passes night drives
Reading by streetlights or
Watching the following moon

A granddaughter sits demure
In a pastel Izod dress
Seen and seldom heard

A wanna-be tomboy rides
Her banana seated bike
Cross country

And belly crawls after
Her brother down ditches
Playing soldier

A mama-to-be names
And nurtures bears, gators
Dogs and guinea pigs

And sometimes siblings
Earning a rep—and cash—
As a go-to sitter

A good girl, a geek
Stumbles her way
Through high school

As gracefully as
An AT-AT on logs
Minus the ewoks

A tender hearted
Girl faces agony
Digs in, holds tight

A small town girl
Gets glimpses of
A bigger, brighter world

A young woman feels
Her power in black boots,
Flannel and cut off jeans

Or builds costumes
In a basement, singing
In crop top and hippie skirt

Or battles classroom frat boys
Over interpretations as
Dust motes float in sun

A battered dreamer
Finds a home in joy
Living in true love

A graduate borrows money
Loads a truck and leaps
To a new town, a new life

A starving artist shares
Hugs, high art, cheap pizza
And drama with friends

A fiancée doubts
--herself, not him—
Reaching for what’s right

Two better halves
Plunge in—new town
New life again

A wife learns equality
In gracious giving and

One of a couple
She embraces the town
Music, friends, fun

A defeated warrior
Tackles martial arts
Learns quiet courage

A hopeful mother’s heart
Germinates, longing
For something bigger

Alone, a new mother
In another new town
Endures, survives

A less-new mother
Revels in joy, in
Sunlight and soap bubbles

A growing mother
Finds her sea legs
Lifts her head, looks around

An athlete comes
Into her own
Tackling obstacles

An organizer
Leaps tall buildings,
Takes a breather

A poet sniffs the air
Yawns, stretches and
Looks around

There are other women, too
Broken women, strong women
Women huddled in the dark

Saying, “How can I?”
But they did, they do
And so I am here

And you are here
They chose and we are

All these women
And hundreds more
Walk with me every day

I hear their voices
Know their minds
Borrow their talents

And every day
I add a sister
To their order

I love the women
I have been since
Your birth, my daughter

I love you
And so I say,
My daughter

Be beautiful women
Strong, fearless, weird
Loving, open, and brave

Be yourself in all
Your infinite capacity
And wonder

The women you are
Will carry you
And lift you up

Grant you wisdom,
Ease your sorrows
And elevate your joys

Be loving women,
My daughter, be women
Who love you

Friday, May 10, 2013

46 Hours

Just a quick post from the (I think) luckiest mom in the world! A typical blonde mistake on my part has become a real treat, thanks to my amazing husband and kids….

As of right this moment, the dishes are done, the dog is walked, the house is neat, our we-never-wanted-them white floors are spotless, our counters are crumbless, the beds freshly made, the towels clean, and every stitch of fabric in the house is clean, folded and put away (except for the clothes on my back).

And all of it will stay that way for 46 hours.


How did this happen? I’ll tell you how: I unwittingly scheduled an editing deadline for Mothers’ Day weekend. Yep.

So my sweet husband turned that oops into a gift—he’s taking the kids to his parents for the weekend. They’ll celebrate with his mom, then come home and have Mothers’ Day dinner with me. And I get 46 magical hours ALONE (with my puppy).

Yes, I’ll be working, but I can sleep when I want, eat when and what I want, in whatever part of the house I want, and I can FINISH MY THOUGHTS. For two whole days. Ho-ly cow.

Of course I will enjoy the heck out of every single second of this experience, but already I can see what’s on the horizon—I will miss them.

The housekeeping perfection is just plain unnatural; the silence unnerving. As I grew up, I dreamed of being a mom, and those dreams included jokes, laughter, hugs, messes, chaos, more laughter, more hugs. There was nothing Martha Stewart or Pinterest-worthy about it. I dreamed of a banged up coffee table witnessing toddler games and elementary projects; I dreamed of walls with dings that tell stories. I dreamed of random objects with bizarre histories stuck behind the sofa.

That dream came true.

This little respite will be just what I needed, my chance to remember my dream and how lucky I am in life. I can’t imagine a better gift.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend—may it bring you something you needed!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Molten Mothering

The volcano references just keep flowing here. We are a hotbed of volcanic imagery, a virtual mudslide of comparisons with the occasional lava bomb of humor.

Of course, we don’t like real lava bombs. They’re scary.

I never expected it, but all my newly gained knowledge of our earth’s steamy interior has been a parenting windfall.

For example, Little A. has wrestled with allergies all winter. His ears get stopped up and then he whines and whines and whines…and whines. When I’m feeling charitable, I remind myself that he can’t hear his own voice. He whines again. I tell myself it’s really uncomfortable when your ears perpetually stuffed up. He whines some more. I count to ten and suggest he should blow his nose.

“I don’t wa-ant to blow by dose!” he whines. That’s Stuffy-Whiney for “I don’t want to blow my nose!”

I count to twenty. “But it will clear out your ears.”

“Ho-ow will it do THA-AT?” he whines.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7—Inspiration wells up in the crater of my mind. “Hey, buddy. Your head is like a volcano.”

Stick with me here, he’s quiet and looking at me. “You have lots of magma inside—that’s your mucous, right?”

He’s still quiet.

“And then your nose is the main vent, right? That’s where we want the magma—the mucous—to come out. We DON’T want it to come out the side vents—those are your ears. So, if you blow your nose, all the stuff will come out the main vent.”

And then he…smiled. He smiled! And he blew his nose. And angels sang. And at bedtime, he asked for a volcano song.

A volcano song???

And, once again, Hephaestus—or someone—smiled on me. I sang Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano” and he was happy.

Volcano parenting for the win.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Exterminator

There are—a few? Yes, that’s probably accurate—a few things I’d change about living in Florida. I’m not a big fan of heat and humidity. I’d love to be closer to my family. That kind of thing. But needing an exterminator would be pretty high up there on the list.

Yes, you do need an exterminator here. At least, you do if you’re us. For those of you who live elsewhere, let me say that carving tidy human space out of the wild here means fighting against an enemy on his own ground. Everything in this particular chunk of swampland favors insect kind. Including the heat and humidity.

We love our backyard blending into wild woods, we intentionally use minimal chemicals in our yard (that would be closer to “none”—have you seen our dollar weed?), and we strive to discourage critters by neatness rather than sprays. So, no, the exterminating chemicals aren’t a big hit with me. That’s definitely part of it. But I can live with that. Putting a drop of gel on the back of our light switch plates? C’mon, not even our kids unscrew the plates and lick the back. Weigh that against finding a roach that can be measured in inches, plural, running around the kitchen…. Decision made.

An annual going-over by a professional doesn’t seem unreasonable.

And we have such a fantastic professional—he’s a veteran, a gentleman, and a sweet, gentle man, just an all-around great guy. If he weren’t so amazing, I would not be able to handle the thing that bugs me (get it???) most about the whole process.

He touches our stuff.

No, not really. But he could. He does go into every room in the house and treat all the accessible light and plug plates, plus cabinet hinges and drawer backs. In truth, he does a very professional job. It’s just that…

I’m insanely private and particular. I have weird preferences—like I prefer no one else fold my laundry (talk about self-defeating!) and I prefer that street clothes not touch the sheets and…well, you get the idea. Being in the house while anyone, even the sweetest exterminator ever, invades our electric outlets and cabinetry is an annual act of willpower.

Plus he unplugs all the clocks. Do you have any idea what resetting clocks is like for someone as uptight as me? Oy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Silly Kids

One fine day, I thought my most random, silly moment came when Little A. made Delaware for his sister. Yes, he decided to make a project for his sister, cut a shape out of paper, and said, “This looks like a state. Like Delaware.” Thank you, Stack the States. You are a very educational app.

Then he picked out a peach marker and said, “This is the color Delaware usually is.” Well, okay.

So that's pretty silly, right? But then S. came home that afternoon and sent me for another random, silly spin.

S.: “So, today? In Music? We had to listen to songs and draw pictures of what we imagined.”

Me: “That must have been fun for you.”

S.: “So, the first one was ‘Johnny Comes Marching Home’ so I drew a stormy ocean with an octopus playing the violin and crabs playing drums and then I drew a volcano—well, actually, a thermal vent.”

Maybe you don’t find this as funny as I do. Maybe I find it hysterically silly because I live with a rampant budding artist/musician and an insatiable future scientist.

Of course, I also found it hysterically silly when they recorded a video for their song about needing to pee—clearly, that belongs on the album with their first hit, “Do You Like to Balance on Toilets?” I’d post the video they made of “Do You Like to Balance on Toilets?” but there’s a serious lack of pants in it.

For the record, I do like to balance on toilets. It’s much better than failing to balance on toilets.

I’m glad they’re still silly. Aside from the fact that their silliness camouflages my silliness, it means they haven’t entirely grown up yet.

S. has been tackling some big kid challenges lately. She’s learning some important lessons and I’m very proud of her. Little A. is flourishing—he recently got a little CD player and found his first favorite album. Granted, it’s Schoolhouse Rock, but it’s still…jarring…to see him vanish into his room and sing along.

In honor of all that growing up, I’m revisiting the past. May none of us ever forget to be this happy!

For those who don’t speak exhausted, sugar-drunk toddlerese—in this video of his second birthday, Little A. is saying, “Scoop” and “Dump it”—repeatedly.