March 28, 2010

I Swear It's True

So this is what I get for not blogging/reading for long periods of time: I was nominated for an award and I didn't even know it!!!  Hello?!? That's my first one ever, and it's been sitting our there for  a mother would be mortified at how late this thank-you note is:

Thanks to Little Ms. J for mentioning me in her Creative Blogger Award post.  She thinks I might have creative thoughts to offer in the challenge to give SIX LIES AND A TRUTH about myself. After you read them, all of you are supposed to guess which is the truth, and which are the things I creatively invented in my little head.

So here goes:

1.  I was suspended from a private school twice in the 8th grade, for smoking in the bathroom.

2.  I finished graduate school on the Dean's List, with a 3.9 GPA.

3.  My mom taught me to burp the alphabet forwards and backwards, Sometimes, we do it together at parties.  She taught Jack how to do it, too.

4.  I was arrested for disorderly conduct in my early 20s, while out partying with friends.  We were drunk (duh) and disturbing the peace. I spent the night in a jail in Santa Barbara and had to hock my moped to pay the fine.

5. I'm a closet Halo player, even though I outwardly hate computer games of any kind.

6. In 12th grade, I was impeached as President of the Pep Club because I was too bossy and too lazy. How can you be both?  

7. I balance my bank book in my head and am rarely ever wrong.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Seriously: you try it! I hereby nominate

Whispering Writer at Airing my Dirty Laundry

Joanne at I [Heart] Arugula

My new BF, Heidi, at Some Mad Hope

ED at Eternally Distracted, who, I'm certain, will find it nearly impossible to make up anything we won't believe.

Thanks again, Ms. J; I'm honored!

March 26, 2010


Some Kind of Normal
by Heidi Willis

I knew less than nothing about diabetes when I opened this book, and to be honest, didn't have much of an interest in learning. But I was immediately taken in by the story of Ashley, Babs Babcock's 12 year old daughter, who is slowly being eaten away by the disease. I became so entrenched in Babs' own desperate search for knowledge and understanding that I actually paid attention to all of the medical details, as if I might be able to help her myself.

From the moment this heart wrenching story opened, I fell in love with Babs, through the voice that Willis has given her. Willis has a tremendous gift of dialogue, and a way with dialect that I have seldom experienced. Babs is one of the most realistic literary voices I have ever read; there is no way to describe it but raw. And so human, it almost hurts. I often felt as though I were reading a dear friend's diary, instead of a novel. She puts up no pretenses, and apologizes for nothing, yet still manages to doubt herself more than she ever needs to.

The characters in Babs' life are remarkably true also; from Travis, her faith-bound husband, to Logan, her steadfast, yet wayward son, to Dr. Benton, her angel in disguise, Babs asks - no, demands - that we know them all as well as she does, and that we love them all with her same intensity. And she leads us to discover that the story isn't about diabetes at all, or about controversial research, or really even about faith. It's about the love a mother has for her children, and the strength we find within ourselves to get up every morning and hope again, when we're certain there's no hope left.

In moments of panic and desperation, Babs will make you laugh out loud with her honesty and absolute simplicity. But don't be fooled by her candid humor; you're going to need the Kleenex, too.

I love this book.

It wasn't one I would have chosen on my own, though. Heidi is friends with my friend Karma, and the last time they were together, Karma got me a signed copy. I started following Heidi's blog then, and we became cyber friends. Her book was still on my TBR list when I heard she was coming to visit, in RL! I thought, Crap! I better read that book! I don't want to be sitting there at the dinner table faking an intelligent conversation!

And I am so glad I did.

March 24, 2010

Jackyl and Hyde

As much as I love him to death, my kid's a walking contradiction.

On Monday, he got in trouble twice at school.  Once for coming in to finish a test and then not actually doing it, at all, but bothering all the kids around him instead. The second offense was to move his desk away from a girl he didn't want to sit next to.  Sounds innocent, even responsible, don't you think? Yea, me too. Then I heard the other side of the story - the teacher's - and I had to agree that scooting one's desk repeatedly and loudly during a quiz, and giggling while one does it, and drawing attention to oneself deliberately in the process, wasn't exactly responsible. Anyway, so there he was, busted again.

As a result, he has to stay after school tomorrow to finish the test. And, his consequence at home was that he was grounded until that test was done. Fair enough.

That was until I realized that he still hadn't found the $70 pair of Converse basketball shoes he lost a week ago. Crap! Now I have to impose the consequence for that, too!  So, figuring he's already grounded this week, I decided to have him work off some of the cost of the shoes, since he didn't seem to be making much of an effort to look for them.

When he got home from school today, I told him this, and I suggested that since he was dying to go outside, he could wash my car.  Good lord, you would have thought I'd said he should clean a septic tank barehanded.  He started crying and stomping. In between sobs, he'd spit out "I don't want to wash the car."

Everyone together, now, what was my response?

"I didn't ask you if you wanted to wash the car, I asked you to do it." Firm, yet calm.

But the meltdown continued until I left the house to find solace in the little nursery down the road.  After all, it was a gorgeous day and I could be outside planting, not in here, listening to this temper tantrum.

When I got home, the car was almost finished.  I was so proud! I thanked him, then gave him the rest of the Pay Off the Sneakers List: clean the cat box, take out the garbage, empty the dishwasher.

Waaaaah!!!!!  It starts up all over again. Throws himself on the couch. Sobs into my silk pillows, snot and all.  I ignore him; after how many years of this parenting thing, I'm finally learning the art of not escalating a situation.

Finally, he calms down.  He does all the chores. I even hear him singing at one point.  When he's all done, I let him go outside to shoot hoops for a bit.  Alone, of course.

I sat down for a few minutes to think about how I should handle this stuff in the future.  How am I going to help him become more responsible? Stop throwing fits when he has to do things he doesn't like? Oh my God! Is he going to end up a delinquent too??? Will he ever be able to accomplish anything ???

But just as my own tailspin began, the one where I take one bad moment in the present and transform it into an entire lifetime of bad behavior, I had to regroup and make dinner.

After all, we didn't want to be late to the Awards Ceremony at school.  You know, for Honors Society: where the members all maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, participate in a community project, act as leaders and role models for their peers and generally shine above the rest of the world  behave well and achieve great things.

And there he is.  The same kid who tore half his room up in protest of basic manual labor, who couldn't get his shit together in class and got himself a detention, showing us his Honors Society Certificate.

Go figure.  At the end of the day, he's a pilar of society.

March 10, 2010

Keepin' Busy

Ahhhh...lapsing again...just haven't had much to say lately. This doesn't excuse my not reading, though, so please don't ditch me if I haven't been over to your blog in awhile.  I got a little nudge from my friend Karma, who has a gazillion other things to read beside my blog (she's finishing her B.A.) but who dropped me an email asking why I hadn't written lately.

Actually, I've sort of been busy. I've been working, for God's sake. Like, at a paying job, outside my home.

Twice I've subbed. Two whole days so far.  Frankly, I'm exhausted.  Have you ever taught kindergarten?  See, you know what I mean.

But I've also been doing my Julie McCoy thing with Kim's Book Signing and having a blast with that.  I love saying "I have a meeting", like I'm going to a glass-walled conference room on the 30th floor of some swank building downtown, where someone will bring me coffee and croissants while I impress bigwigs with my Powerpoint skills.

In reality, I'm walking over to Kim's house, to sit with her and her staff - that would be her friend Jacqueline, her hub Josh, and me -  around her kitchen table, each of us with our own travel mug of homemade coffee, scribbling notes on lined notebook paper and mostly shooting the shit about her trip to Hawaii.  (I've not once asked to hook the projector up to her TV; they don't know what they're missing.)  Seriously, though, we have planned an awesome day and I can't wait! I love being friends with a Practically Famous Author.  

And I've also been carting Jack and all his buddies all over the place from basketball to baseball and back again, and cheering like a lunatic at all the games - even though I appear to be the only mom doing it so loudly. Whatev. They need support. Last week, they lost 51-24 and I had to drive home with three teary-eyed boys in the back seat. 

I love that my kid is an athlete, though.  I'm all about being the soccer mom (God I hate that word) and their biggest cheerleader.  I was not, in any way, shape, or form, an athlete as a kid. In highschool, I couldn't even make the cheerleading squad because I thought all you had to do was yell and smile. I didn't realize you couldn't be fat and completely out of shape.  Total discrimination, I say. But I digress

Because of this, I kind of taught myself was forced to hate athletes.  It was the only defense I had against feeling like a total slug. As I got older, though, not being into sports became one of my big Life Regrets, especially now, when I struggle every day with staying active and eating healthy.  So when I popped out this kid who lives and breathes physical activity of all kinds, I felt like I had an opportunity to get it right.

Wait.  That came out wrong. That just painted me as the Mother Who Lives Vicariously Through Her Son, which I so am not.  I'm not sure I could be, if I tried. I guess I'm just enjoying sports for the first time in my life, and not feeling like I have to hate them all because they're out there and I'm not.

How can I live vicariously through Jack's sports when half the time I have to ask him to explain what he's doing out there?

Me: Are you playing point guard today?"

Jack (with great patience) : "Nope, Mom, not today. Today I'm a quarterback.