Monday, November 20, 2006

Mystery of the Finger Update

I just realized I totally forgot to post about what the heck was/is wrong with Enthusio's finger. The orthopedist we saw kinda cleared things up for us, based on examination of xrays and the MRI. Yes, he had a finger MRI, and boy was that fun. Anyway, evidently the deal is that when a person is still growing, their bones have an outer layer that is almost like a skin, and that is the part of Enthusio's finger that is inflamed. There is also a layer of extra fluid around it. Apparently you can get some kind of infection in your body and it can travel all through your body in your bloodstream and just suddenly stop and say "okay, this looks good" and irritate some random part of your body. So presumably Enthusio had some kind of little bug back in July that was enough to make his finger skin swell up but not enough to make him sick at all, and now it's long gone, but the fat finger remains.

The next step would be to biopsy the bone, but the orthopedist thought that would be an overreaction, since the finger doesn't hurt and isn't getting worse. We will go back and see him next week, when it's been a month, although I don't think there's been any change. Maybe he will just have the fat finger forever. There are worse deformities, I suppose...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I could go upstairs and get dressed, but...

... what fun would that be?

Yesterday I got up late (after 10) and took a shower first thing. Then I sat on the couch with the computer for hours, accomplishing nothing, fell asleep for 2 or 3 hours while Reasonable Man took the kids out to play golf, and then woke up and paid the bills and watched a lot of the TV shows that got tivo'd in my absence this past week. Didn't even touch my novel till late in the evening, and then stayed up till nearly 1 am trying to get my 2K in before I went to bed. A stunningly unproductive day, all said.

This morning I got up at a normal time (8 am), and while I've been sitting here on the computer for 5 hours, I've gotten a whole lot accomplished. I wrote a message to my nov98 list, wrote my first blog entry in weeks, wrote a plot summary for most of the second half of my novel, and wrote almost half of my daily 2K. So sure, I'm not dressed, but I'm already feeling better about myself right now than I did this time yesterday, or even 4 hours later.

I've been reading about the TomKat wedding because how can you avoid it. A few observations: she looks like a bobblehead in the wedding photo they released -- did she maybe go a little overboard on the post-baby weight loss thing she did recently? Also, they appear to be the same height for the first time ever, so he is standing on something or maybe wearing lifts in his shoes? That would be a weird thing to do now, after we've all seen her towering over him in every photo for the last year and a half.

Of course, all indications remain that these are some seriously weird people. This morning I read some speculation that perhaps baby Suri has been mostly kept from view for so long because of a large birth mark on her forehead, which did appear to be there on an enlarged photo. I can't imagine keeping a baby cloistered from view for that reason, but then, I also can't imagine getting engaged to someone I've only known for two months and immediately adopting his weird religion and cutting myself off from everyone I knew before and only hanging around with Scientologists and dropping my career and getting knocked up by this guy who is clearly a complete weirdo either, so I obviously don't understand much about what it's like to be Katie Holmes.

In any case, I still think we didn't see the baby for so long because she's about two months older than they say she is.

Also: I don't get it when people are engaged, get pregnant, have a baby, and then have the wedding later. Let me rephrase that: I don't approve of it. I know it's practically the worst thing in the world to come off as judgemental of this sort of thing anymore, but I don't care. I think being married to your babydaddy or babymama when Jr. makes his or her arrival if at all possible is a pretty nice thing to do for your kid. I don't mean we should go back to the bad old days when it was a huge stigma to have a baby outside of marriage so you got married in a hurry even if you weren't at all sure about the other person. I don't think anyone should get married just because they're having a baby, but I do think that, if you're already planning on getting married, and whoops! a baby's on the way, maybe you can set your vanity aside and go ahead with the wedding a few months earlier than planned.

Or maybe that's just me. But I don't think so.

Anyway, the whole TomKat wedding appears to me to be just the big fat cherry on the whole ridiculous overblown spectacle that their relationship has been from day one. I honestly could care less if they are for real or not, but I can't respect the way they complain about what's been said about them in the press but continue to do every on the grandest scale possible, attracting as much attention as they can. Boo hoo, TomKat. Now go away.

I do want to hear more about the Britney-KFed bust-up though. Bring on the gory details!

NaNoWriMo, Take 5

I'm really struggling to make it to 50K this year. Part of the problem is that I kind of don't really know who my main character is. In the past I've always had that figured out because a) 3 of the 4 times I've previously done this thing, I was writing about characters I dreamed up about 20 years ago, and b) the one year I came up with something totally new, I started brainstorming about the characters and the storyline at the right time, ie in the 3 to 4 weeks before I started writing. This year I came up with the story and the characters and was all hot to get started... at the beginning of September. By the time November 1st hit, I was not the least bit into it. So although I'm still pacing myself and am on track to hit 50K by 11/30, it's all happening in a series of fits and starts, and I find myself just plain avoiding writing in a way I've never done during Nano before.

One very cool thing happened about a week ago, and that was that my main character turned unreliable. (See, I wasn't kidding when I said I didn't really know who she was!) I'd never had that happen before. That might sound kind of crazy, if you don't write -- the idea that your character might do or turn out to be something you didn't intend. I imagine characters in your more plot-driven stories probably don't get away from their writers quite so often, because they are completely in service to the plot. But those of us whose writing is character-driven know that sometimes the people we create have minds of their own. It's kind of like walking a really big dog who outweighs you -- you may be holding the leash, and you may be the one who feeds that dog and hands out the doggie treats, but every once in a while, however awesome that dog might be, it's going to drag you off the path and through the brush every once in a while.

Not only do I expect my characters to lead me off in unexpected directions -- I rely on it. Aside from the aforementioned characters I came up with 20 years ago, my approach to writing novels is like this: I come up with an idea -- not a plot, an idea -- and think up the characters who will bring that idea to life. Then I start writing and I see where the characters will take me. Though I count the characters as slightly more important, the idea, or concept, if you will, is pretty important too. The only time I've started a novel with characters only, it took me 10 1/2 years to finish. The characters did eventually lead me through a pretty decent story, but there was a lot of stalling before we got to the end of the path.

The unexpected detours characters make are one of the things that enrich your story. Last year I created a love interest for my main character, and was frustrated that practically whenever I put them in the same scene together, they'd end up arguing. After a while I got to thinking, how am I ever going to get these two together? But in the end, all the conflict they'd had made their coming together more believable. So even though I sometimes get annoyed when I'm trying to zig left and my characters want to zag right, I do generally trust them to take things in the right direction.

That's why I thought it was an encouraging sign when I discovered my main character was sort of unreliable. I'd written almost a whole chapter of her describing her life, but a few chapters later, she fell apart and the lead male character and I both found out at the same time that she hadn't quite told us everything. No wonder I didn't feel like I knew her. And who knows? She may have more secrets up her sleeve before we reach the end.

She's the only one who knows...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The Democrats took the House, we voted to get a Target in Davis, and Britney filed to dump KFed's ass. Yesterday was a great day!

I don't know why that third item makes me so happy -- I think she's almost as much of an idiot as he is, but whatever. All the news reports keep mentioning their "iron-clad pre-nup," and that may be true, but I'm sure she has to give him something, and we can all just fervently hope he uses part of it get himself a vasectomy, because four kids is plenty of spawn for that loser.

Evidently Davis is the first place in the nation where Target had to go to the ballot. There are still lots of folks here who want to keep the small town atmosphere. I appreciate that, but I'm sick of having to drive a minimum of ten miles just to buy a pair of underpants. Now if we can only get this Trader Joe's thing figured out, I promise I will never complain about the shopping issues in Davis again.

Nancy Pelosi will be the first female Speaker of the House in history, third in line to the President -- how much does that rule? I wasn't following the election and didn't think too much of all the predictions of a Dem sweep till last night, when Reasonable Man went back to his political junkie ways and spent the entire night pouring over election results on his laptop while watching the coverage on CNN (he did take an hour-long break so I could watch "Veronica Mars"). He called "woo hoo!" many times, just like it was the 90s again. Boy, it's been a long time since we had a good election. But I still want to know why couldn't people have gotten pissed off about Iraq in 2004.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Little Bits of Catching Up

Today I am writing in this blog, dammit!

Life has gotten so busy since school started. It's amazing how much stuff I end up doing, considering that I have no job and both my kids are in school every day! This past week, for instance, I had a meeting to go to Monday afternoon, a doctor appointment for Enthusio that ended up taking several hours plus taking him to Campfire on Tuesday, a trip to the Scholastic Book Fair warehouse in the morning and then two different hour-long appointment/meetings for the kids in the afternoon on Wednesday, and we had Girl Scouts after school on Friday afternoon. Thursday was mercifully uneventful. Last week, I hosted Bunko here and we had a little get-together for Ryan's birthday on Sunday. Today we have BLB and the Bride arriving for an overnight visit, Tuesday I host my book club here, at some point this month I need to have my little moms dinner club over here, and we'll be having Will's birthday party here the last weekend of this month as well. Then right into running the book fair and starting my Nanowrimo novel plus trick-or-treating the week of Halloween, and on Thursday of that week I leave to go back east for four days for a girls' weekend. The week after that, Carisa and my new nephew Zan will be through to visit, and the week after that, I will be joining Mermaid's sixth grade class for a week of outdoor education. Then it's pretty much the holidays, and we are going to try to squeeze a trip to Disneyland in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So if you've been wondering why I haven't posted much lately -- that's why. My usual caveat -- I don't mean to complain, as I know I've got me a pretty sweet life (daily trips to the gym take up some of that time, as does at least one shopping day a week) and a lot of what I've listed there is fun stuff. Still, it does get pretty busy, and it cuts into my time at the computer...

Mystery of the Week: Way back in July, during our East Coast Adventure, Enthusio's left index finger swelled up, and swelled up it remains. Reasonable Man hypothesizes that he jammed it when they were boogie boarding at Bethany Beach, but Enthusio doesn't remember injuring it, and it's never really hurt him. After much nagging, Negligent Mom here finally took him to the pediatrician about it this past week, and she was completely flummoxed by it. She frowned, went and stuck her head out the door of the examining room where we were, and called to her fellow ped, "Hey, Bob, come look at this finger." (Becky has now challenged me to put this line in my Nano novel. I love a challenge!) Bob did, and then he went and got his digital camera to take a photo of the fat finger next to it's much thinner counterpart on Enthusio's other hand.

The xray showed nothing out of the ordinary, so the ped ordered bloodwork to rule out infection (and I'm also supposed to be taking stool samples but I keep conveniently forgetting), and next we're going to have an MRI done and see an orthopedist. The ped seems more curious than concerned, so I'm not feeling worried about it at this point (as far as I know there is no such thing as finger cancer), but I have to admit that they all took it far seriously than I expected them to. Obviously I would have taken him in a lot sooner if I'd realized they would want to do all these tests...

I Forgot: aka, Mom's least favorite words this past week. Here are the things Mermaid forgot:
1) To give me the paper that's been sitting in her music folder for the last 3 or 4 weeks informing me of what new books she needs for saxophone this year and also the fact that morning band has been meeting before school on Tuesdays for the last two weeks, sans Mermaid because I didn't know anything about it
2) To bring home all manner of necessary instructions, notebooks, papers, etc. that explain her homework or which were needed in order to complete her homework this week, necessitating the exchange of notes and such with her aide at school and such to figure out what the heck is going on
3) To not freak out if I am approximately 30 seconds late picking her up from school and either bursting into tears or going into the office to ask to borrow the phone to call me when I'm actually sitting outside waiting to pick her up

I know she has some issues and that when she's a little distressed, logic flies right out the window, but geez. It's a little frustrating. On the other hand, yesterday she successfully rode her bike home from her Girl Scout meeting about a mile away, and I think she will be providing her own transportation to and from those meetings on non-rainy days for the rest of the year.

Beyond the forgetfulness, she continues to have a good year in school. A little defiance here and there with her aide, but I knew the honeymoon wasn't going to last forever, and apparently social studies is more hands-on/interactive this year, so hallelujah for that! Enthusio seems to be doing great too -- I haven't chatted with his teacher in a while, but I do know he has made a couple of little friends and that he's been playing kickball at recess instead of wandering around by his lonesome each day, so that is great news and couldn't make me happier :-)

World Travellers: A few weeks ago, my mom ended her 40-year nursing career with her long-awaited retirement. Way to go, Mom! We went to a lovely dinner in her honor and got to spend a nice evening with some of her very nice, but sad, co-workers who hate to see her go. Right now, she and my dad are on a three-week trip to Spain and Portuegal, and hopefully they are having a great time. Also off to far regions are Ryan's brother Jamie (of YouTube pet cemetary film short fame) and his wife Annette, who are visiting England for a week. I am officially jealous! Reasonable Man would like for us to take a trip to England in 2008 -- I am crossing my fingers...

Finally -- well, I don't know about you all, but I know I'm sleeping better knowing Paris and Nicole are friends again. It gives you hope for world peace, no?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Since I don't neglect this blog enough, I've decided to start a second one! I've been doing a lot of projects around the house lately, and the reaction I've gotten from a lot of people when I tell them I replaced cabinets in my kitchen, the tile around my fireplace, the vanity top in my bathroom has often been amazement. Happy as I am with the improvements to my house and the development of my skills, I don't really believe I'm doing anything other people -- other women -- couldn't also do. So I'm wondering why, in 2006, when most women do paid work, there's a Home Depot or Lowes on every other street corner, and the internet is rich with detailed instructions on how to do almost any home project out there -- why is it still so unusual for someone like me to pick up a drill or a crow bar and make things happen? I have a theory that a lack of confidence is what stops a lot of us, and I'll be writing about it at It's Not Scary, and sharing some of the projects I've done as well. Please check it out and tell me what you think.

Because I'm all about the innovation, the new blog is on a brand new, invitation-only blog service called Vox. Let me know what you think of that too :-)

Edit: I'm already over the other blog service and am moving It's Not Scary back over her to Blogger -- the correct address is

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Recently I saw a story on the news about a new vaccine for the human papillomavirus virus (HPV), which is transmitted sexually and can lead to cervical cancer. This virus is extremely prevalent among sexually active adults, so the fact that a vaccine has been developed is great news. There are undoubtedly conservative types out there who are against it (since apparently any kind of medical breakthrough related to female reproductive health must be some kind of threat to home, family, and the sanctity of human life), but somehow the FDA managed to fight off the forces of the neocons long enough to approve it, so that's good, right?

Only the news story I saw was all about how a lot of parents are resisting the recommendation that girls should receive the vaccine sometime between the ages of 9 and 12. Because, you know, that's too young. And there was the obligatory shot of a pre-pubescent girl running around a soccer field and looking cherubic while her mom talked about how she wasn't going to follow the guidelines, basically because the whole idea made her feel kind of icky.

I have a few thoughts on this:

1) Why should my daughter be vaccinated now, when she's so young and isn't having sex yet? Duh. The vaccine can't protect her from potential infection unless she gets it before she has sex. And yeah, I know no one likes to look at their pre-teenaged daughter and imagine that her becoming sexually active is anything but a distant possibility in the far, far future. I've got an 11-year-old daughter myself, and I shudder at the thought. Still, let's be realistic here: even the most organized parent in the world doesn't have the date their child is going lose his or her virginity marked on the calendar. If you want your child to wait, talk to them about the reasons they should do so, but for God's sake, don't deprive them of something that could keep them safer and healthier if they don't follow your advice.

2) I can't get my daughter vaccinated against HPV because, at 9/10/11/12, I feel she's still too young for me to talk to her about HPV. This one really bugs me. I suppose you're going to have a long, in-depth discussion about lockjaw with her before you take her in for her tetanus booster? Now, I'm not saying there aren't maybe a few girls out there who'll have lots of questions about why they have to get this shot, but I feel fairly confident that most of them won't question things any farther than this:

Parent: You're going to have to get a shot at the doctor's.

Daughter: A shot? Oh, man. (whining) Why?

Parent: To protect you from getting cancer.

Daughter: Oh.

Some of them might be savvy enough to ask what kind of cancer, but I'm guessing a vague "You know -- down there" will be enough of an answer to satisfy all but the very most scientifically-minded girls. Most pre-adolescent girls do not want to engage in discussions about "down there" anymore than their parents do.

I'm not saying that parents shouldn't discuss the reason for the shot with their daughters -- I'm just going with the idea that you give kids as much information as they can handle and that they ask for, and therefore, the argument that girls whose parents feel they are too young to learn about sexually transmitted diseases shouldn't still be protected against them just isn't a good one.

3) My daughter is a good girl and won't be having sex till she's married, so she doesn't need to get this shot. To me this ranks right up there with the logic that kids don't need sex education because it will just give them ideas, and if you just don't tell them anything, they won't have sex. I realize withholding information and not having your kid vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease are not the same thing, but I can't help thinking that the parent who doesn't want their daughter to get this vaccination at 10 is the same parent who doesn't want her to learn about condoms and STDs later on in junior high and high school. And last I heard, the whole "preaching abstinance as sex education" wasn't keeping lots and lots of kids out there from becoming sexually active, only keeping information from them that could keep them safer and healthier when they do.

Getting shots is an unpleasant fact of childhood -- no question about that. But the fact that the reason for this particular immunization just happens to make some parents look ahead to the future and feel a little queasy doesn't excuse those parents from fulfilling their responsibility to make sure their child is protected. No one ever said this parenting thing was easy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Please Help a Good Cause

Remember my sister-in-law The Bride? Well she and Big Little Brother celebrated their first wedding anniversary on August 20 -- time flies! Anyway, she's got a new project -- training for a half marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. I've known a number of people, including my other sister-in-law Dana and my good friend Sue, who have participated in TinT in the last several years, and it seems like a terrific program for a great cause. The Bride, who will heretofore be known by her real name, Angela, simply because I haven't thought of a good pseudonym for her, has a fundraising goal of $2700, and here is a link to her fundraising page

Please check it out and consider making a small donation. Every little little bit helps!

Monday, September 11, 2006

This morning I woke up at my friend's house in Livermore at 4:55 a.m., got in the car by 5:20, dropped my other friend off at the Oakland Airport by 6:20, and was home in Davis by 7:45. Reasonable Man was getting the kids off to school and I chatted with them and helped get their stuff into their backpacks so they could leave and I wished them all a good day and fell soundly asleep on the couch with the dog probably before they were even out of the driveway. My plan was to sleep for 30 minutes and then go to the gym, but I guess I didn't set the alarm on my cell phone right so I ended up not waking up till 90 minutes later -- at which point I did get up and go to the gym. I worked out for an hour, chatting with the mom of one of Mermaid's friends who joined recently, and then took off for Sacramento where I bought a buttload of groceries at Trader Joe's and then came home, unpacked them, ate some lunch and showered.

So really, on the whole, a pretty productive day, no? Still, the early rising and lengthy nap left me feeling off, and I have basically felt like I'm swimming through a fog since I woke up the second time. I really hope Mermaid doesn't have much homework when she gets home this afternoon because I really am pretty much feeling like like that commercial for cold medicine from a few years ago, where the little cartoon guy's head floats up above him like a balloon, only I haven't taken any cold medicine. I wish they still showed that commercial because it was such a good metaphor for the discombobulation I feel every time my sleep schedule gets disrupted in a major way.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I've been a bad blogger lately. I've actually begun about 6 different posts in the last few weeks, but the usual thing always happens: I get too ambitious, it starts to seem too hard, I have other things to do, and I abandon it halfway through. So today I'm going to write about a number of random things, just to clear the board, and maybe I can start fresh this coming week with the current minutiae of the my life instead of continuing to try to catch up on the old stuff.

Babies Babies Babies!

There was a baby boom in my life this summer. Welcome to the following little ones, and congratulations to their parents:

John Ronald Barnes, born July 10 to Josh and Emilie Barnes. Emilie is one of my best friends from junior high and high school.

Colin Martin Lee, born July 12 to Chris and Ninette Lee. Chris is a high school classmate of mine that I've become friends with over the last couple of years here in Davis.

Miranda Josephine Mains, born August 4 to Chris and Janine Mains. Janine is a close friend of mine from the November98 due date list I joined when I was pregnant with Enthusio.

Ethan Pierre Lund, born to Toneka Webb and Matt Lund. Toneka and Matt are longtime friends of my Big Little Brother-- he introduced the two of them, and Toneka introduced BLB to his wife.

Zanfirico Clark Izarn Kluver -- my nephew!!! -- born August 29 to Carisa and Marc Izarn Kluver. Carisa is my cousin, but we are close so I am claiming Zan as my nephew, and I could not be more excited :-)

I got to meet Colin a few weeks ago when we went to the Lee's for dinner; today I'm going to Livermore to meet Miranda, and next weekend I fly to Seattle to meet Zan. How fun!

Celebrity Stuff

I loved the alleged incident reported a few weeks ago wherein Jessica Simpson allegedly asked if she could kiss Britney Spears' pregnant belly and Britney allegedly replied "Hell, no!" This is, in my opinion, the only reasonable reply to such a stupid question. It almost gave me new respect for Britney.

I also loved the item where Mr. Britney, K-Fed, defended his own intelligence by claiming to have gotten "amazing-ass" scores on his GED. I'm not even going to touch that one.

I have a theory about Suri Cruise. Although her appearance on in Vanity Fair this week doesn't necessarily prove that Katie and Tom are her parents, I never really bought the idea that the whole pregnancy was made up and they don't have a baby. I do, however, believe that she was actually born 2 or 3 months earlier than was reported. Come on -- wasn't that "born down the hall from Brooke Shields' baby on the same day" thing just a little too convenient? Look at the evidence:

1) When Tom and Katie announced her pregnancy in October, not only was she already showing but she looked about 6 months along. I remember reading that she was due sometime in the spring and thinking "spring, my ass -- she'll never make it past the end of January." She continued to look way pregnant for the next 6 months -- except toward the end, when she sometimes looked like she was suddenly a lot smaller, and sometimes she literally looked like she had a basketball under her top. I think it's because at this point she'd actually already had the baby.

2) When people were asking if she was really pregnant, I always immediately thought, "yeah, of course" because in those last few months, there were lots of pictures of her looking, well, terrible. If they were faking the whole thing, wouldn't they have her continue looking fabulous? What I think is that when she was looking exhausted, sometimes enormous, bedraggled, and sporting cold sores at various times, she was actually post-partum and not in the later stages of pregnancy.

3) No pictures of the baby for several months. Duh -- they had to wait till enough time had passed that they could pass off a baby born in January or February as a baby born in April. The baby in the Vanity Fair pictures could be 4 months, 6 months, 8 months old -- that's how babies are during that first year of life.

Now, why would they do this? Well, do the math -- if Suri was born in January or February, Katie would have had to become pregnant almost immediately after she and Tom met. Planned or not, yuck -- one more log on the fire of "is this just a big stunt to prove he's not gay?" So they retreat for the rest of the summer and early fall and put off announcing the pregnancy until she's showing in October and just pretend the baby doesn't arrive till a couple of months after she's born.

Think about it. It makes sense.


It's going well. I've talked to Enthusio's teacher a couple of times since they started, and she's really put me at ease -- she says he's fitting in, being accepted by his classmates, and seems happy and comfortable in the classroom. He did ask her if he had to do the math book, since he already did it last year :-) But they do have this computer program the kids can use where they work on things like math at their own speed, so I know he can move ahead if he gets bored with the 2nd grade curriculum.

I had a conversation with him that disturbed me a little bit, where he told me that he is playing by himself at recess and eating by himself at lunch. He said that's what he prefers to do for right now, and that he wants to get to know his classmates before he becomes friends with any of them. If that continues, then I will definitely want to talk to his teacher and such to try to facilitate his forming some friendships, but for now he is comfortable and that is the most important thing. I am feeling very confident that he is in the right classroom this year :-)

Both Mermaid's teacher and her new aide say she is doing beautifully and she seems very happy in her new class. I know this is kind of a honeymoon period for her with the new aide and issues will arise once the novelty of the school year wears off and she is confronted with work she doesn't want to do, but that sort of things has become less frequent over the last couple of years and I think she's going to have another good year.

The House

Since we decided not to move for the the time-being, I've been a busy bee making improvements to our current house. In the last several weeks, I had put tile around the fireplace, sanded and refinished the bannister (no more teeth marks!), and torn the tile countertops out in the downstairs half-bath and the kitchen. In the bathroom I installed a new all-in-one vanity top, and in the kitchen, we are having a new laminate countertop installed this coming week (I can't wait!). In addition to the projects that have allowed me to hone my own home improvement skills, we also have a new fence and gate between the house and the garage that we hired a fence guy to install, and we have beautiful new cornice boxes over the windows in the living room and dining room, courtesy of my father-in-law (thanks, Joe!). Upcoming projects include redecorating Enthusio's room, mounting the flat-screen TV on the wall, and refinishing the dining room table. I would also like to do lots of planting in both yards this fall.


I am excited about National Novel-Writing Month this year -- I've thought of a basic storyline for my novel, I have names for the main characters, and I think it's going to be good! One thing that especially pleases me is that I will get to write part of it about a gushy teenage romance in the main character's past, but most of it takes place when she's about 30. So I'm getting to do the silly stuff I love, but also branching out into something new, writing about a character much closer to my own age! We'll see how it goes...


Probably in large part due to the reading bender on which I embarked during our vacation, I find myself ironically poised to pass the 50-books-read mark this year. Ironic because last year I actually tried to do that and fell just short, while this year I haven't even been trying.

Important Note: Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper is really 99% a very good book, but if you decide to read it, I highly recommend you close the book at the end of page 412, after the resolution of the lawsuit, because in the last ten pages, the story rides completely infuriatingly off the rails. I don't know what the author was thinking.

Okay, that's it -- that's all the junk that's been floating around in my brain the last few weeks. It feels good to get it all out there :-)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wish Us Luck

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Last night was Kick-Off Picnic, where you go and find out who your teacher is. Very exciting stuff...

Enthusio got the teacher he wanted, the same teacher Mermaid had for second grade. She is a very soft-spoken, low-key, easy-going teacher and I think she will be a good match for him. We're a little concerned that the academics will be boring for him, since he's already done second grade once and had no problems with the work, but we also think it could be a real confidence boost for him to maybe be one of the best readers in his clas and that kind of thing too. There was a possibility of him being in a second/third combination class, and we liked that idea from the academic perspective (maybe he could do third-grade work if he got bored in the second grade stuff) but had the downside of possibly including kids from his old grade with whom he's had issues in the past. Overall, his being in a straight second-grade class is probably the better option and I am cautiously optimistic about this being a much, much better year for him.

Mermaid was placed in a fifth/sixth combination class, which surprised us, as they've never put her in a combination class before. We weren't real thrilled with the idea, especially when we heard that the class had just been created (and the teacher hired) this past week -- we had to wonder how much thought had been put into her placement in this class? But then we met the teacher at the Kick-Off Picnic yesterday, and she seems just great -- very on top of things, very pleasant and easy to talk to. She said she'd heard Rachel had the same aide this year, so that's good (hopefully it's true). So we're feeling good about Mermaid's situation too.

Now hopefully the stuff I ordered from Land's End, which includes school shoes for Enthusio, will show up today and I won't have to take him out for an emergency pair tonight!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Check It Out

You probably don't know that Reasonable Man's brother Jamie manages a pet cemetary in San Diego. At Christmas, we saw an awesome short film a local filmmaker made about Jamie's place of business, featuring Jamie himself, and happily, it can now be enjoyed online, so have at it!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Staying in the Green House (For Now)

We didn't buy that house.

We put in an offer, but we withdrew it the next day. This market is just not right for us to put our house up for sale right now -- not for a lateral move, anyway. If we find the house of our dreams in the next few months, we will go for it, knowing we are going to be out some money, but to buy something in our same niche of the market, give up our excellent low interest rate, take a hit in property taxes and end up in a smaller how -- nope, it wasn't the right move for us. I'm still thinking about that house and all the things I liked about it from time to time, but I knew when Reasonable Man presented the situation to me what the right decision was, and I think I surprised him with the degree to which I was reasonable about the whole thing.

I surprised myself by not being that disappointed about it. In fact, in the week since we decided not to pursue that other house, I've spent a lot of time working on this one, and not only am I not disappointed, but I'm actually falling in love with this house all over again. All those shows on HGTV are telling the truth: moving your furniture around can make a huge difference. Last week I moved most of the home office stuff from the over-used dining room to the under-used living room, and today I moved around some of the stuff in the kitchen dining area and switched the positions of the love seat and couch in the family room, and in some ways it's like our house it twice as big as it was.

I'm not saying we're staying here forever -- in fact, it's entirely possible that tomorrw we'll we something new in the real estate section that just totally kicks our butts -- but in the meantime, we're looking at probably staying here till at least early next spring, and then who knows? Maybe we'll decide to stay. Either way, this is a great house that we love and whoever gets to live here will be some lucky folks.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Here are the caricatures we had done of the kids in Central Park when we were in NYC a few weeks ago. Apparently Enthusio got the idea to have this done back in May when Reasonable Man took him to Legoland. RM didn't want to pay fifty bucks to have it done at Legoland, but Central Park is rife with artists willing to capture your likeness in Sharpie, so we didn't have a hard time finding someone to make Enthusio's dream come true for a much more reasonable $15.

He knew exactly what he wanted, and instructed the artist thusly: "I want to be like Batman riding a skateboard, only not with wheels -- with rockets." The artist didn't even seem to think this was a weird request -- he just nodded and went to work. At some point he asked Enthusio to make a face like a superhero. Enthusio complied:

Yeah, I've never seen superhero making that face either. Enthusio's picture didn't have that expression. He seemed a little disappointed when it was done -- RM and I think he was maybe embarrassed at the size of his teeth in the picture. We assured him that that was just the way caricatures are drawn, which is true, but between you and me, the teeth are actually not all that exaggerated. I imagine he'll grown into them some day.

While Enthusio was having his picture done, Mermaid decided that she'd like to have one done too. The guy who did Enthusio's had a portrait to do first, but he said he'd be available in about an hour if we could come back. Mermaid surprised us by agreeing that she wanted to wait -- it was pretty humid out and she'd not been enjoying the weather, so I had figured she'd want to head back to Aunt Dana's apartment sooner rather than later, but once Mermaid makes up her mind about something, that's pretty much that. So we took a little walk past the Central Park Zoo and had a snack, then headed back to wait for the artist guy to finish his portrait, and in the meantime, another caricature artist set up his stuff nearby, so we had him do Mermaid's instead.

I may not have mentioned it before, but this past year, Mermaid has decided she doesn't want to smile with her teeth showing. The first reason she gave was that her friend Allyn doesn't smile with her teeth showing, and later on, she told me that when she smiles with her teeth showing in a picture, it makes her "look like a ghost." Yeah, I don't know either. Anyway, no way no how was she going to show her teeth to the caricature artist. No big loss, since as you can see from the finished picture above, he captured her Mona Lisa smile perfectly. He also did a very good job of following her instructions that she wanted to be singing with the Beatles -- I'm not sure how well you can see it in the picture, but it's pretty clear that he's drawn, from left to right, Paul, John and George. (George has enormous ears in the picture. Did George have enormous ears? I have no recollection of that.) Of course, Mermaid did have to point out to me the other night that Paul is holding his guitar the wrong way (right-handed instead of left), but otherwise we all think the artist did a pretty awesome job.

First we went on vacation for nearly three weeks. Within two days of arriving home, I was sick with a nasty cold. So what do you think happened when I was finally getting over that? If you guessed that I pulled a muscle in my back, keeping me away from the gym for even longer, you're absolutely right! So now it's been a solid month since I've been to the gym with any regularity. No wonder I'm feeling so fat.

Of course the book I'm reading right now isn't helping. Fat Land by Greg Critser is a very thorough explanation of "how Americans became the fattest people in the world," and it's not a pretty picture. Contrast the amount of bickering and naval-gazing that goes on just for the powers-that-be to make a decision what they should tell the general population about how much exercise we should all be getting with the free-for-all that goes on with advertising sugar- and fat-drenched foods to kids and the terrible ingredients that make up so much of the food on the market and it's no wonder so many of us are fighting -- and generally losing -- the battle of the bulge.

In other words, my kids picked the wrong week to try to get out of swim practice. I may not be exercising much lately, but they are for damn sure going to if I have anything to do with it.
This house-buying thing has gotten complicated.

First, a caveat. I know there are bigger problems in the world. This town is an expensive place to live, and we've gone from contemplating a major kitchen remodel, which we can afford, to moving to a new house, which we can also afford, while many people around us aren't able to make a move or buy a house in the first place. We live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and none of us would suffer if we had to stay here for a good long while, even if we didn't remodel the kitchen. In other words, I know this doesn't exactly rank in the top 947 great tragedies of the 21st century. Nonetheless, it is currently a dilemma for us, so please bear with me.

From day one of our decision to start looking for a new house, I have maintained that size is not the issue. Our house is small by the standards of some people, but I've always felt like we had more than enough living space here, and one of my biggest beefs with this house is that a lot of the living space we have -- our living room to be specific -- doesn't get used (we don't really need a second sitting room most of the time) or is unusable (the western exposure of our house makes that room too hot to sit in after 1 pm during the summer). The fourth bedroom we added a few years ago suffers from similar problems. And so we spend a great deal of our time in the family room, which is somewhat cramped. In addition, the upstairs of the house is difficult to heat in the winter and even more difficult to keep cool in the summer. Add the fact that the kitchen needs a major overhaul and we don't have nearly enough outside/garage space for bikes and such, and you have more than enough reasons for us to be shopping for another house.

Yesterday I saw a house that I really liked. I sent Reasonable Man over to look at it and he liked it too. The price is right. It has one story and four bedrooms, one of which is at the front of the house and could function as exactly what we would need it for: a place to put the computer, a place where the kids could keep their school stuff and do their homework, and where we could put the futon and have guests stay. It would be an extension of our living space when we didn't have guests and a guest room when we did. The layout of the house is big and open, there is a ton of built-in storage, and the backyard is big enough for us to put in a pool and still have plenty of room for patio furniture and our trampoline. The kitchen would need some work, but it's attractive and it has a pantry. And on the "location, location, location" front, it's basically in the same neighborhood where we live now, where we are very comfortable and where many of our friends live.

So what's the problem? It's smaller than the house we have now, by about 200 square feet. The space it has is everything I think we need when I envision the most efficient house possible for us, but probably not one inch more than that. The family room is not smaller than what we have now, but it's certainly not much bigger. There's no place to put anything bigger than a small dining table, so hosting things like Christmas dinner would be a problem. The family room furniture we have now would fit just fine, but there would never really be any options for moving things around too much.

I've looked at a number of houses since we decided to move, many out of our price range, and although I maintain that size is not that big an issue, the times I've walked into houses with a big, wide-open living space, I've swooned just a bit. The idea of having a family room where you could have one of those great big ginormous sectionals and not have it completely fill the room is awfully appealing. One house in particular stands out in my mind. It's on a busy street, and the backyard is pretty tiny, but when you walk in -- well, the word "cavernous" comes to mind. There is a huge living room, a huge kitchen/family room, and then there's also a huge loft. After Reasonable Man saw it and thought it was pretty cool, I said to him, "but don't you think that's way more space than we need?" He didn't, but I did.

I still think so, but I've definitely come around to the idea that I would like that much space. And therein lies the dilemma, because I can still walk into a house like the one we found yesterday and just feel so sure it could work for us. But five years from now, after doing the work on the kitchen and putting in a pool, will our family of two adults and two teenagers feel crowded, and will we wonder why we bought this house when we could have gone bigger?

This is similar to the the questions I have about my car. I drive a minivan, but I chose the smallest one available, with the best possible gas mileage. Even so, I often wonder: do I really need to drive a minivan? I only have two kids, and we only drive extra people around every once in a while. I could drive a sedan that gets much better gas mileage -- a hybrid even. Then again, it's nice to be able to haul extra kids around when we need to, or drive another family on outings. We have friends who have traded cars with us for an evening or overnight so they could transport more people all in one car than their sedan can hold. Long car trips are more comfortable in our minivan than they used to be in our old Toyota Camry, and storage is never a problem. We can even haul the occasional piece of furniture without any trouble.

In other words, we don't need the extra space every day -- but sometimes we really do need it. Does that occasional need justify the fuel we consume by driving it every day? Similarly -- do the occasional times we feel crowded or want to host a big holiday dinner justify buying a house that's bigger than we need, with the added costs of heating and cooling, not to mention furnishing it? A small house, one that has only the space we need to live on a day-to-day basis and no more, equals smaller energy bills and no reason buy new furniture. That means a smaller ecological footprint we're leaving, and I really do like that idea. It's very Davis. And it's not like we'd be depriving ourselves of nice things, like a pool and a new kitchen. In the end our quality of life still goes up.

Just as long as life with teenagers doesn't feel more crowded than life two grade-school-age kids does, I guess.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I am SO sick, and last night ranks among the most miserable nights of my life. The area around my nostrils is positively rubbed raw, my throat is the sorest it has been in my life, and one of my nostrils is either completely plugged or a veritable faucet at all times. I've gotten way past being glad to be home, being grateful that I didn't get sick until after we got home, or being able to appreciate the merits of our dry Davis heat over the humidity of the east coast we experienced a week ago, because guess what, people? It was 111 freaking degrees here yesterday. Please pray, cross your fingers, get out your worry dolls or do whatever else you like to do to wish our air conditioning unit health in the next couple of days, 'cause I am petrified that thing is going to die and then we will have no choice but to go live at the Holiday Inn Express for a few days.

One of the Few Musical Entries You Are Every Likely to See In This Space

Buuuuut the cat came back (I didn't see her, but Reasonable Man did)
She couldn't stay away
She was sittin' on the porch (under the bushes by the garage, actually)
The very next day (last night)
O the cat came back
She didn't want to roam (anymore, since we're back now and there aren't strangers living in her house anymore and we've been leaving her treats outside the garage)
The very next day (well, last night)
She was home sweet home (actually we haven't seen her since that one sighting, but at least now we know she's not dead and the butt-kissing we'll need to do to get to come back and live in the garage again can commence in earnest)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Mystery of Emma

We were gone on our trip 19 days, during which time some friends stayed at our house, which was actually very nice. Yes, I had to do more cleaning in the days before we left than I would otherwise have done, but when we got back, the house was spotless, and even though I know it's unlikely that our house will burn to the ground, fall down, explode, implode or otherwise suffer major damage when we're away, I still always breathe a little sigh of relief when we come around the corner and see that minty green edifice we call home still standing there, and so on this, our longest trip ever (so far), it was good to know someone who had our cell phone numbers was staying here and it was likely she would call us if any of those imagined disasters were to befall the Green House in our absence.

We returned Monday evening to find everything as it was when we left -- everything, that is except for our garage, which was missing one cranky 14-year-old female cat. Further examination revealed that her litter box had been used at some point, as had the garage floor. Hey, she's old. All specimins, which were NOT examined closely, appeared to have been left a while back, but it's been hot, so, you know, things dry up pretty fast. In other words: Emma was not in the garage, and there was no indication that she had been in the garage for quite some time.

This obviously made Reasonable Man and me kinda sad. Emma was our first baby. We adopted her on December 27, 1992 -- our six-month wedding anniversary, and for the two years between then and Mermaid's birth on December 31, 1994, Emma was the princess of our household. She spent long evenings luxuriating on our laps on the couch in front of the TV. We squeezed the water out of tuna cans and gave it for her for a snack. We played string with her, took pictures of her, and delighted in her antics.

After Mermaid was born, Emma accepted her demotion in status gracefully. Right around the time Mermaid started to crawl, Emma waged a wily (and ultimately successful) campaign to be let out into the yard (until then she'd been an indoor cat) by yowling loudly by the back door whenever I was trying to get Mermaid down for a nap. She was in her element there in San Luis Obispo -- less so after we moved back to Davis and she was banished to the garage due to her unfortunate habit of peeing on the living room carpet in our new house. Since then, she's been cozy in the winter on her heated pet bed, not so happy in the summer. Sometimes Reasonable Man gets an earful when he's leaving for work in the morning, because her dish is empty or maybe there have raccoons or other varmints invading her space sometime during the night, and other times she will clamor for a little attention. Mermaid rediscovered her out there a year or two ago, after completely ignoring her for about 7 years, and she would go and spend time with her, but otherwise our contact with Emma has been pretty limited in the last 6 1/2 years.

Nevertheless, we're unhappy that she's disappeared. I liked to think that she had maybe felt unwell and crawled off someplace dark to die peacefully -- it seemed unlikely that something more violent would have happened to her after she'd lived in the garage without incident for so long. I asked my neighbor Kim, who is the only person I could imagine would have noticed her around, if she'd seen her. Kim said she hadn't but told me about a time one of her cats got cheesed off about something at her house and disappeared for six days, only to come back after she'd given him up for dead. That made me feel better -- maybe it's not like Emma to leave her shelf in the garage for any length of time, but then, this was also the first time we've ever left for almost 3 weeks and let other people live in our house while we were gone. Who knows what was going through her little cat brain? Kim recommended that I leave food and water for her somewhere outside the garage. I figured I had nothing to lose by following her advice.

Yesterday morning, there was a hopeful sign in the garage -- fresh cat poops under my car! (No, I didn't examine them closely -- I just kind of poked at them with my shoe to see if they'd squish. Sorry to get graphic on you there.) After I swept the garage out, I called Emma's name a few times, and I'm pretty sure I heard her meow back at me. I left some tuna juice out near the bushes next to the garage in case she wanted a treat. It was gone later on, and of course some other cat might have consumed it, but I'm choosing to remain hopeful that our first baby is still out there and might come back to live in our garage again soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Books, Books, Books

I eventually brought my total books read on our trip to 7, which officially makes it my best vacation ever! Far and away the best book I read was Alive, the story of Urugayan plane crash survivors in the Andes mountains who had to resort to eating the bodies of their co-passengers in order to survive. Icky, yes, but absolutely riveting. It is absolutely amazing what they went through and how hard they fought to live through ten weeks up on a freezing mountain top together. The events actually happened way back in 1972, but if it sounds familiar, it may be because they made a movie of it about 10 years ago, which by the way I will never watch, and not just because it stars Ethan Hawke. While I understand why they did what they did and commend them for having the will to live, I don't care to see any kind of re-enactment of it...

A couple of fun books I enjoyed: Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Laurie Notaro, who seems to have gotten a little funnier with each book she's written, and Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with Jewish senior citizens in a retirement community. Hilarious. I saw online that the author has written another one in Scarsdale -- I will have to check that out!

Dirty Secret

We packed pretty light for our almost-3-weeks-long vacation, figuring that we would be able to do laundry easily everywhere we went except possibly Manhatten, where we stayed at my sister-in-law Dana's upper east side apartment. Little did I know -- Manhatten would the be easiest place to do laundry of all! Did you know people who live there don't do their own laundry? They take it to the laundry down the street, where they pay someone sixty cents a pound to do it for them! We took ours in on a Sunday morning and got it backed -- washed, dried and folded -- that afternoon. I couldn't believe it. Why don't they have this everywhere? I have been informed since I got back to Davis that you can have this done at a laundrymat here in town, but I am betting it costs more than sixty cents a pound, or else everyone would be doing it.

Under the Weather

We picked up a bug during our travels and now we are all feeling a bit sluggish. My throat is sore, Mermaid has been all stuffed up, and Enthusio got pink eye -- gross! When I went to the Rite-Aid pharmacy the other day to pick up his prescription eye drops, the girl at the counter said "hi, Tracie!" Yes, apparently I frequent the Rite-Aid pharmacy often enough that they know me by name there. The girl behind the counter said that she sees my name a lot and that "you're always really nice." Hopefully she would still think that if she knew I have no freaking idea what her name is, even though I'm pretty sure she wears a name tag.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yeah, But It's a Dry Heat

I want to post more about our trip, but right now my thoughts and feelings about it are unfairly clouded by my blissful relief at being home. My friend Jane, who along with her family graciously provided us with shelter and sustenance during the final days of our trip, says that it doesn't matter how long or short your trip is -- the last day or two, you just want to get home. I don't know what percentage of the time that's true, but I can certainly agree that I always feel that way on any trip of a week or longer. In this case, the time we were away actually passed really quickly and it didn't feel like we were gone nearly three weeks, but those last couple of days were tough, even though we spent them doing fun things with people we enjoy.

It didn't help that the east coast humidity that I had dreaded on this trip really cranked up the last 5 or 6 days we were out there. I'm sorry to all you east coasters (and midwesterners -- it's bad there too, right?) but I don't know how you live with that. California may be brown and ugly for a lot of the year, but at least your clothes and hair have a fighting chance when you step out the front door even on the hottest day.

That said, it's supposed to be 108 here tomorrow! I just hope our air conditioner can make it through. If not, make no mistake -- we will be checking into a motel.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Random Vacation Notes

I'm reading my ass off on vacation. First, I finished the piece-of-crap true crime book I was reading when we left Davis during our layover in Dallas and just left it sitting there on the seat when our flight started boarding. Maybe someone picked it up and started reading it, but I'm hoping security got nervous about something being abandoned in the airport and decided to blow it up right there where it was abandoned, like I saw done at the Paris airport many years ago. It was that bad. Then I started reading my book club book, which is okay, but then I was handed a stack of more appropriate beachy-type reads, so I've been plowing through them. Note: the first Ya Ya book, Little Altars Everywhere, is far superior to its celebrated sequel, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, which was a mediocre book made into a seriously lousy movie. The Glass Castle is a pretty riveting memoir in the "my crazy and/or substance-abusing parents never should have had kids" genre, and guess what? I am finally reading The Da Vinci Code. I've been resisting for three years, but the time has come, and guess what? I'm enjoying it.

We've had our share of disasters this trip, including getting on a commuter train to Grand Central Station instead of our Amtrak train, and having to high-tail it on the subway from GCS to Penn Station, with all our luggage, to catch up with that Amtrak train. We did it, though. And the kids were troopers all the way. I love travelling with school-age kids. Everywhere we go, I see toddlers and pre-schoolers, and just think damn, I'm glad they don't stay that little forever! It is, in many ways, great while it lasts, but there are definite advantages to having that phase be over.

Can't seem to add photos to my blog right now, so I can't show you the cute caricatures we had done of the kids in Central Park right now, but suffice it to say, they are fabulous.

Also, I am pleased to say that, 28 years after my first visit, I still adore the Statue of Liberty. How anyone ever got up the energy to build something that big and that cool, I will never understand, but I salute them!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Yeah, I know it's been a while. You all know I feel massive guilt whenever I've been lame about updating, right? Not that that really helps anything, but I do want you to know I at least think about it.

Anyway, I do have a few little items to report here. First -- the kids are out of school. Hallelujah -- Enthusio is done with his school year from hell and hopefully he will never have to endure another one like that again. I am cautiously optimistic that next year will be better. Unfortunately, our principal is leaving, which means that if we have any issues next year, we will be starting from scratch with someone who doesn't know the history and that could really suck -- but you know, this is not our first time at the rodeo and I think we have a pretty good track record re: dealing with the school and advocating for our child, so we will deal with whatever comes up. I think Enthusio is in a better place this coming year too -- he still has his moments, but he's definitely made progress and I still think having him stay back a year will really help.

Both he and Mermaid brought home good report cards. Mermaid got all B's except for her A in spelling, which is no surprise since she has taken to studying the dictionary in the last few weeks. Maybe we will be seeing her at the national spelling bee one of these years!

So far we are having a pretty lazy summer experience. Both kids started their only activity thus far, swim practice, this past week, and they both like it a lot. With Mermaid that is no surprise, since she loved it last year, but this is Enthusio's first time and it's great to see him feeling good in a group of kids at his same skill level.

In other news, I turned 36 this past Monday. The number just bothers me. Maybe because it's a downhill slide toward 40 now? I can definitely tell you that I don't feel 36 years old. In my mind, I'm still about 17...

CONSUMER ALERT! Costco has changed their ridiculously liberal returns policy, with regard to computers only. Now you can only bring them back for a refund for 6 months. I found this out on my birthday, after fighting with my laptop all weekend. It developed some kind of driver meltdown after I installed the software that came with our video camera about a month ago. This the laptop I just bought this past October, so you can imagine how thrilled I was about this turn of events. Anyway, let me just recap the situation for you:
1. The only reason I bought this particular video camera was so we could upload video to our computer and create our own DVDs. We've now had the camera over a year and have yet to do this a single time.
2. The only reason I finally installed the video camera software was to upload Mermaid's performance of "When I'm 64" at the school talent show to the computer. It turned out that her performance was got taped over about 3 days after it happened, which is a subject dead and buried between Reasonable Man and myself, but nonetheless -- I wasn't able to perform the operation that was my sole reason for installing the software in the first place. This installation proceeded to cause problems with my computer that made it impossible to shut down properly and also caused it to spontaneously restart whenever I left it sitting there for any length of time, on or off.
3. The only reason I bought this particular computer was that it was the cheapest one at Costco, where I believed I would be able to return it for a full refund if anything went wrong with it. Their new six-month policy evidently went into effect over a year ago, and if I'd looked into it at all, I would have known that. Also, I can't blame them for changing it -- the old policy was just an invitation for abuse, after all. Nevertheless, it totally sucks for me, because if I had known I couldn't return the computer like I thought I could, I never would have bought this computer. I don't know what brand I would have gone with, but I can assure you that a Compaq/HP would not have been it.
4. Not only did I buy a computer I wouldn't have bought, but because of how much I spent on it, the Costco people talked me into upgrading my membership so I can get cash back at the end of the year or something like that. I'm still not clear on what the benefits of that are.
In short -- I tried to work the system but didn't do my homework, and ended up getting kind of screwed. Don't let this happen to you.

My final item is that, on the brink of remodelling the crap out of the Green House, we have decided to move instead. It started with me going to look at a house a couple of neighborhoods over from here on a whim several weekends ago and just snowballed from there. So now I am studying the real estate section every week and going to open houses, as well as doing work on the Green House with a mind to selling the place at some point in the near future, and hopefully some time in the next year, we will be living in a one-story house that is bigger, has at least 4 bedrooms, and has a pool. Pretty exciting stuff!

I'm sure there is more detritus to report, but that's all that is coming to mind at the moment, and I need to start doing some stuff around here, so that's all for now!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Essential Self

This awesome post beautifully sums up an unexpected benefit of having a developmentally delayed child. As Mermaid heads into that great battlefield we call adolescence, she does so with her sense of self fully intact, not caring how she looks or what anyone else thinks of her. It's a quality we could all use.

Enthusio's therapist talks a lot about helping him get in touch with his "essential self" -- those qualities of goodness and wholeness we all have that are the real us, not the constructs of our personalities that keep us protected from the outside world. I admit kind of thought she was full of crap for a while -- you know, "come on, lady -- we just want him to be able to go to school without crying everyday" -- but the more I heard about it, the more I realized that getting in touch with the essential self is a real and positive thing, and we are fortunate enough to have a living, breathing example of it right here in our family.

We focus on all the downsides of autism, and there are many. I wouldn't wish it on any family. But the other side of the coin is what autism doesn't do -- it doesn't allow the child to separate from that essential self that will serve her well when puberty comes knocking on the door in a few years.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Enough Already!

I never thought I'd be in this position, but I'm going to defend Britney Spears. I have to. This is getting ridiculous.

Yes, all the evidence points to her being an idiot. Her taste in men is obviously crappy. Her music has always been pretty sorry, and the bits of her horrible reality show that I saw convinced me that there is some essential character development that doesn't happen when you spend your late teens and early twenties surrounded by sychophants instead of working at low-paying jobs, living in crappy apartments and maybe struggling through school or something.
But I also think she's getting a raw deal in the current media obsession with her parenting skills. Okay -- driving with the baby in her lap? Terrible idea. I'm definitely not giving her a pass on that one, and I'm not buying that crap about her having race away from the vicious paparazzi.
But then -- okay, poor Sean apparently hit his head when something went wrong with high chair and he fell. He was with the nanny at the time. Well, guess what? Stuff like that happens. One time when Reasonable Man and I were right there, we were getting Mermaid out of her high chair and I still don't know what happened, but the tray was off and she fell forward and hit her forehead on the kitchen table. It was awful, and of course we felt terrible.

Last week, Britney and Sean were photographed riding down the road in a convertible. Britney was driving, and the baby was slumped over asleep in his carseat in the backseat of the car. Andhis carseat was facing forward. One article said it appeared he didn't have straps over his shoulders, and another said that he obviously wasn't fastened in properly. Well, maybe so, but unfortunately, babies slump over in their carseats like that sometimes. And yeah, they recommend that you keep the kid facing backward till they're a year old, but I'll go ahead an admit right now that I turned both my kids forward before that myself. Neither of them liked being in the backseat facing backward and not being able to see me, and often that lead to a lot of crying that I decided was not worth it. Sometimes you make that kind of a decision as a parent, you know?

And the latest is -- *gasp!* -- Britney was holding the baby in one arm and had a glass in her other hand, and she tripped. She freaking tripped, people. Yeah, clearly that makes her an unfit mother. I mean, I don't know about you, but I've never tripped since I became a mother...
Oh, except that one time when I did. And I actually did drop my baby. I was carrying her up to our third-floor apartment and caught my toe a few steps from the top. I had to make a quick decision -- drop Mermaid on her back on the landing in front of me so I could catch myself, or fall on top of her. I chose dropping her -- it was only a few inches, and fortunately there was some of that nubby industrial carpet that they have in store and restaurants and stuff to soften her fall a little bit. She started howling and I felt horrible, but she was fine.

Mermaid also fell off the couch when she was a baby. And one time I accidently dropped the cordless phone and it hit her in the head. We all want to protect our kids from those kinds of things, but there's only so much you can do. We all get a bad bonk once in a while.

Maybe Britney gets all the media attention she does because her behavior has been questionable in the past, but I was a young first-time mom too, and I'm just grateful I didn't have the paparazzi following me around and watching me screw up back then. If this keeps up, what's next? Is there going to be an article every time Britney takes her baby out in the sun without a hat? A few years down the road, are we going to hear about every time he fights with his little sister, goes out to play without a jacket, or gets less than 100% on a spelling test?

Maybe I'm a hypocrite that it doesn't bother me if the press beats up on Britney about KFed or her dubious fashion choices, but all this bashing of her parenting skills just doesn't sit well with me. Raise your hand if your parenting could stand up to the constant media scrutiny hers gets?

Yeah, I know:

It's been a while.

Life has been pretty eventful lately. In the good news column, last night was our school carnival, featuring (for me anyway) the used book sale. That means there is no longer an ocean of brown paper grocery bags full of books in my living room. It also means I no longer have to look at the pile of papers sitting on my coffee table (aka my desk) and guiltily think about what I should be doing to prepare for the used book sale. It all came together in the end. The bad news was, it poured rain on the carnival. The good news was, the used book sale was under shelter. The bad news was, the books kept getting wet anyway. We had to keep running around wiping them off with paper towels. The good news is, people bought them anyway. Only maybe a third of the books I unloaded from my minivan at the beginning of the afternoon went back into it at the end of the evening. Also, my lack of volunteers turned out to not be a problem. One lady who showed up to work her shift from 5:45-6:30, and both she and her husband hung around till closing. Her husband wasn't even signed up to work, and he both went around yelling that all books were ten cents a piece during the last half hour we were open AND helped up pack up at the end. I love that guy.

After the carnival was the talent show. A whole crowd of people was huddled in the sheltered spot outside the MPR where the show was going to be just to get out of the rain for quite a while before they unlocked the doors and went in. It was a pretty soggy crowd in there, and we nevered did get a seat, but we watched the whole thing. Mermaid's performance of "When I'm 64" went off without a hitch. She kinda stood there looking away from the audience without smiling the whole time, but she sang it nice and loud, and the lyrics only got away from her once. She was really pleased with herself and we were proud of her. And when the talent show was done, we were able to grab both kids and make a quick break for it, due to the fact that our minivan was still parked right outside the MPR, right by the sheltered lunch tables where the used book fair had taken place.

Priorities when I got home were: change into sweats, pour a glass of wine, and count the money from the book sale. We made $181 -- woo hoo! I feel it was pretty successful, which is good since I've already been informed I'll be running it again next year by the person who volunteered me to do it this year without my permission. That's what I get for being good friends with the PTA VP of Events.

In other news, it's been a rough week for my grandma. Come to think of it, it's been a rough month for her. A rough year, even. She's been in a nursing home since early April, and I've been going to see her every week, which has been kind of nice. I've enjoyed spending time with her, and bringing her stuff to eat (she doesn't love the food at the nursing home), and having me visit seems to give her a boost.

Unfortunately, after my parents went on vacation for two weeks, Grandma ran into some health problems and got sent to the hospital twice -- once with a blood clot in her leg a week ago Wednesday, and then again this past Tuesday night with congestive heart failure, which has been a problem she's had pretty regularly over the last few years. The first time she went in, the nursing home called my parents' home number, left a message, and didn't bother to call any of the zillion other numbers on the list. So none of us even knew she was at the hospital having surgery until two days later, when my aunt and uncle came down from where they live in the mountains to visit her and found her bed at the nursing home empty.

Grandma came through that okay, but started having problems breathing almost as soon as they sent her back to the nursing home Monday night, and she was back in the ER 24 hours later. By this time, my aunt and uncle had had to return to the mountains. The hospital assured my aunt that Grandma was comfortable, but because the hospital was crowded, she was in the hallway of the ER. Big Little Brother, who lives just a couple of miles away from the hospital, went over to see her, and called and told me I should come down, so I did. It was awful to see poor Grandma, lying there in the hospital. She wasn't hardly moving at all, and when I went to talk to her, she told me "I just want this to be over." I stayed there with her in the ER, and fortunately they had a room ready for her about an hour after I got there. On the way up, she said they weren't supposed to be taking her upstairs because "I didn't want to go." Even though she did seem to understand that they couldn't just leave her in the ER hallway indefinitely, she continued to insist that she'd been told she wouldn't be moved once she got to the hospital.

I stayed with her for the rest of the afternoon, went to BLB's for a few hours for dinner and such, and then returned to the hospital to spend a couple of hours with her. The next morning I was back again, and I stayed all day. My aunt and uncle were on their way back down from the mountains, and my parents were flying back from Hawaii a few days early. In the meantime, Grandma was actually getting a little better, much to her dismay. She wasn't eating or taking her medication, and I think she thought that would just finish her off. I was supposed to leave around one, but once the doctor came in and told her she was actually improving, I decided to hang around. Poor Grandma just didn't know what to do, and it was pretty hard to know what to tell her, but I'm glad I was there with her. Once my aunt, uncle, parents and BLB arrived, it was decided Grandma would go back to the nursing home the next day and stay there -- no more going to the hospital. In the meantime, she felt like eating, and went ahead took her meds again. She was pretty tired by then, so we left to let her get some rest and went out to dinner.

I'm really proud of my family. Everyone appreciates what everyone else is doing, and there's no complaining that this person should be doing more or anything like that. Everyone was glad my parents were able to go on their long-planned trip to Hawaii, and they didn't mind coming home a few days early. Reasonable Man didn't mind holding down the fort up here in Davis while I was there with Grandma for almost two days. BLB didn't mind running around, getting Grandma settled in nursing home on Monday night and everything else that followed. And I'm so glad I was able to go down and be with her on Wednesday and Thursday, even though she kept encouraging me to go home. I know she was glad I was there, and I was glad I could be a comfort to her and that she didn't have to be alone. I don't know what the next few weeks will bring, but I'm awfully glad to have my school stuff over with so I can concentrate on more important things and be available for my family as needed.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Spring Has Sprung...

... and it's kicking my butt. If I spend more than a few minutes outside this past week, I sneeze for an hour. Running is out. So is yardwork. I actually don't really like going out to the mailbox all that much, truth be told.

Just one more reason to be looking forward to summer...

Jump Around!

Rewind several weeks back to spring break, when we were spending a morning at the home of my friend Crazy Karin. Moms and kids had finished dyeing Easter eggs and were scattered in various places around the house, and I asked Crazy Karin if she knew where Mermaid was (I knew where Enthusio was: at the computer. He is obsessed with video games and will choose playing them above all else most of the time, even if he's in a girl house where most of the games available involve kitties or ponies or something). CK said "she's out there having a merry old time on the trampoline." And indeed she was. I had witnessed Mermaid on that trampoline many times with other kids, but it was the first time I'd ever seen her on it alone, and "bliss" does not adequately decide the expression on her face.

"I don't know why you guys don't have a trampoline," CK said.

"Neither do I," I replied.

And so, less than a week later, this suddenly glaring lack of a trampoline in our lives was rectified. I did some research online, chose a safe model, ordered it, and returned from a busy morning one Wednesday to find three enormous boxes'o'trampoline (and safety net) waiting for me on the front porch. Being me, I almost immediately set to work assembling the contraption, and about 7 hours later, I had this to show for my efforts:

Also, this:

And so our bouncy adventure began.


The kids are getting lots of exercise. That first evening, when they came in for dinner all red-faced and sweaty, I knew this was going to be a good development. It would be fair to say that our whole family struggles a bit with our weight, and what with all the media hoopla about how we are raising a generation of fat kids, etc., I am happy to add another activity that is actually, you know, active to their life.

Tons kids have passed through our backyard since the trampoline came into our lives. I really like having a yard full of happy kids. A week or two ago, I was coming back from a run and because of the open space next to our house, as I came up the street was was treated to the sight of 5 kids bouncing into view above our back fence -- how fun is that? Jumping on the trampoline is an activity that keeps Mermaid engaged with other kids a lot longer than a lot of other things, so that's great.

Several times we've had dinner with friends and then brought everyone back to the house so the kids could jump and the parents could just sit and hang out for a while. So the tramp has added a new dimension to our social life, and that's always a good thing.


This isn't completely a minus, because it only bothers me a bit and the kids not at all, but 2 or 3 kids on our street who previously had zero interest in playing with Mermaid and Enthusio are now knocking on the door to play with them just about every day. One of them is at least diplomatic enough to ask Mermaid to come out and do things other than jump on the trampoline once in a while, but generally they end up in our backyard. It's really not a huge deal, just a little irritating.

Enthusio seems to end having a lot of meltdowns when the tramp is full of kids, depending on his mental state, how tired he is, etc. When a group of kids gets together out there, they always seem to want to come up with games where if you do this or that or whatever, you're "out," and that situation is always rife with peril for Enthusio -- at this point in time, he absolutely cannot handle finding himself on the losing end of anything, and between his lack of confidence in his physical abilities and his current belief that EVERYTHING is unfair, it just turns into a mess over and over. Reasonable Man and I disagree on how to handle this: he says we should just ban those kinds of games for right now, and I can see the wisdom of that (it's our trampoline and Enthusio should be able to feel safe and happy when he plays on it), but I'm also wary of removing every obstacle from his path and communicating to him that a) we don't believe he can learn to handle things better and/or b) all he has to do is cry a few times and we will make sure he gets his way. I am constantly torn between wanting to let him have his emotions without making him feel he is wrong to feel the way he does, and wanting him to learn to control them already. As always, it's a tough one.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Celebrity New Items

I don't care if Katie Holmes had a silent birth or not. I don't care who dropped Britney Spears' son on his head (the child would obviously have a better shot at living a normal life if he was being raised by chimps regardless of whether Brit or K-Fed was there when it happened, so whatever). I don't care what continent Brangelina's baby is born on or what he or she looks like. And I don't really care about that whole Charlie Sheen/Denise Richards/Richie Sambora/Heather
Locklear mess going on. I really don't.

But I am DYING to know why Keith Richards was in a palm tree, out of which he fell and got a concussion. Seriously. They can't keep that kind of info from us indefinitely, can they? I mean it -- the public has a right to know. Color me waiting with bated breath (baited breath? Whatever.) Inquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Life Gets In The Way

I am constantly writing blog posts in my head as I exercise, drive places, dry my hair or do any of the 487 other things that take up my time besides being at the computer. You know when I don't think much about writing in my blog? When I'm actually sitting at my computer, reading email or checking my list of sites I look at every day, which gets a little longer all the time, and I let myself believe that I must go through the whole thing before I do anything actually productive online. Answering email usually comes first, though that's always piling up as well, and then it's usually time to go to the gym, pick up the kids, help with homework, take a shower, something -- and then I don't write in my blog, or do any of the other things I need to do, which lately include:

- Querying the two agents out of my first list of ten who don't accept email queries
- Looking at the email I got a year ago from the woman who ran the used book sale at our upcoming school event, which is now my responsibility, and making sure I'm doing everything I need to do to get the word out that we are collecting used books, not to mention contacting the list of volunteers I'm going to need to help me actually run the thing, which is now less than 3 weeks away
- Working on the novel I started almost two years ago, which is good and which I think about and which I really really really want to work on but somehow never make the time to actually
do so

But let's face it: life has gotten complicated. Just this past week, for instance -- Enthusio is back in school, but he's been home every morning till 10:15 or so because I excused him from STAR testing because one of the practice tests freaked him out, and his teacher and the principal and I all agreed that it wasn't worth jeopardizing an already fragile situation to have him take it. It doesn't seem like that big a deal to just have him with me for that long -- we get Mermaid off to school, go to the gym, get some coffee, and then I drop him at school either before or after I go home to shower -- but you know, somehow taking a 7-year-old places makes it take just a little longer to get everywhere. So there's that. There are only two more days of testing, thankfully, and then that will be over.

Also, my grandmother has moved to a nursing home for the time being, and so going to see her one day a week is now top priority. I have really enjoyed both my visits to her so far, and I'm really happy to be able to go spend time with her. Also top priority is having lunch with Reasonable Man once a week, coffee with Sue, and anything else social. So between obligations (school stuff, getting kids from one place to another and getting their homework done) and spending time with the important people in my life, time gets to a premium. Here's how my week looked:

Monday - gym, quick coffee, quick shower, drop Enthusio off at school, lunch and shopping with Sue and her sister, pick up kids from school, homework
Tuesday - gym, quick coffee, quick shower, drop Enthusio off at school, Target, lunch with Reasonable Man, Trader Joe's, go home to put away groceries, pick up kids, drop Enthusio at Campfire meeting, get Mermaid a haircut, drop her at home, go hang out for the remainder of Campfire meeting, go home and help Mermaid with homework
Wednesday: appointment with personal trainer, drop Enthusio off at school, run errands, come back to school to work in classroom only to discover they don't need me, go home, shower, clean up kitchen/house, kids get home at 1:30, homework, take Enthusio to social skills group and do homework with Mermaid while he's there, go home
Thursday: gym, coffee, take Enthusio to school, drive to Walnut Creek, stop at store to pick up lunch, spend an hour having lunch and chatting with Grandma, drive back to Davis, pick up Enthusio from school and take him to therapy, read therapist's parenting book while I'm waiting for him, go home, do homework with Mermaid, Reasonable Man gets home and we go out for dinner where we have terrible service so we're there over and hour, go to my friend's office opening for an hour and get home after 8 pm
Friday: skip going to the gym, do homework w/ Enthusio, drop him off at school, go grocery shopping, make pasta dish for gathering I'm going to that night and cookies for girl scout meeting after school, clean house, shower, run errands, pick up Enthusio from school, get snack ready for girl scout meeting, host girl scout meeting from 3:15-5:30, take 5 minutes for minor grooming, greet sitter, and go to friend's house for dinner

I'm not complaining. There was lots of fun stuff packed into the schedule this week, and even my "stressful" stuff is not exactly the stuff of which nightmares are made. And not all my weeks look like this, but the school-related activities sort of naturally ratchet up this time of year, so at this point I'm just looking forward to getting it all done and surviving till the end of the school year. Maybe I'll blog more then!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Enthusio Update

He went back to school yesterday, and had great day, according to both he himself and his teacher. I'm having her call me to let me know how it goes each day this week. He did melt down a couple of times yesterday afternoon, and I didn't have high hopes of him having another great day at school today, just because of how things started out. First, he argued with me and then cried because I made him turn off the TV and take a shower before school this morning. Then he acted really put out about a couple of other things before I took them to school. It's never a good thing when we have tears 3 times before he even goes to school!

On the other hand -- I'm beginning to think things are not as bad as we thought with him. Reasonable Man, Enthusio's therapist and I have all talked about his extreme sense of injustice, and his therapist hypothesized that this is because he has developed an expectation that things will never go his way due to low self esteem. But this past week, after hearing from a good friend that her 7-year-old daughter is also going through a major "life is so unfair" phase and that she read in a book about 7-year-olds that this is a common thing for them to go through, I've been asking around a bit, and guess what? Sounds like a lot of them go through this. I know that the constant falling apart and the complete inability to deal with any frustration whatsoever is still not a normal or healthy thing for him, but it's awfully good to hear his belief that everyone else in the world gets to do things he doesn't get to do, etc, etc, is probably a phase and not a sign that his sense of self worth is a lost cause.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rain, Rain, Rain

I'd love to know the number of Californians who have written whiny posts about the rain in their blogs over the past few weeks. In case you haven't heard -- we've had an absolutely unreal amount of rain over the past two months or so, and now here it is mid-April, and we're still waiting for spring. Poor us, huh? Those of you who live in parts of the country where rain is a regular part of the summer, sub-zero temperatures are regular part of the winter, and wearing shorts and sandals for most of October every year must be really dripping with sympathy for us, huh?

I don't usually mind the rain too much, but I would have appreciated this particular patch of wet weather not coinciding with my first (and hopefully only) experience of "homeschooling" immediately followed by spring break. It was very inconvenient to have to try to remember which days it was raining and therefore Enthusio couldn't have ridden his bike for at least 20 minutes in order to count it as PE as I fudge on his Independent Study Log, which I have to turn in next week. There was also that whole issue of being trapped in the house a lot. Not great. I could have been better about things, God knows -- there are plenty of museums and such around here I could have taken him to. Unfortunately, rainy weather just makes me want to hold up in the house and lie on the couch. It does not inspire me to take my son out and enlighten him in a cultural way.

All the rain reminded me of this story I read in my 5th or 6th grade reader. It was about a human colony on Venus, where it rained all the time except for one hour every 7 years, and there was this girl at school who everyone hated because she'd lived on earth and was probably moving back to earth eventually, so they were jealous that she could remember what the sun was like. On the day the rain was supposed to stop, there's some kind of altercation and her classmates lock her in a closet, and they end up forgetting about her while the sun comes out and she misses the whole thing. I remembered the basic plot points of the story and also the poem that the girl wrote: "I think the sun is a flower/ that blooms for just one hour" -- so I Googled it and found the story online. It turns out that it's called All Summer In a Day
and it was written by Ray Bradbury. I was kind of surprised at how much of it I remembered and that it would stick with me for so long -- I had also remembered that the girl's name was Margot, and I guess that I identified with her -- she was sensitive, and poem indicated that she was a good writer. Reading it again after all these years, I was particularly struck by the bullying aspect of it, since that's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately.

Thursday was such a fake-out, because not only did it not rain -- it was 75 or 80 degrees out, and the sun was shining and it was just the kind of gorgeous spring day we should be having regularly. And we all knew that it was supposed to turn around and rain again the next day, so it felt particularly cruel, but we took advantage of it and spent the afternoon at the park. Yesterday actually was fairly dry -- the skies were gray, and the rain came down a few times, but for the most part it was pretty nice out. We spent the morning in our friends' backyard, and when it started sprinkling, the kids just kept jumping on the trampoline and the moms just kept sitting there on the porch chatting. Today is a little colder, a little grayer, but it's still not actually raining, and I am just hoping it stays fairly dry out so we can enjoy the Easter egg hunt at the park our friends are having at noon. Maybe we're adapting to this rain thing -- I guess that's what you do. The good news is, starting Monday, the forecast is for sun. Hopefully it's the beginning of something and not just another sample of what we've been missing so far this April.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Moving Right Along

Well, I did it. I just sent out my first agent query! You know, in the past, this process must have been SUCH a pain in the ass. If I was only using the book of agent listings I've had sitting on my shelf for a while, I would have much less idea about each of the agents I'm querying, but compliments of the internet, I've been able to find out more info about most of them. A few of them actually have blogs :-) and a lot of them accept queries via email, so that's pretty cool. Anyway, I have a list of 10 agents who sound good, and I've written my query letter and fiddled with it and I'm hoping it's good. I guess we'll find out when these agents start replying, either saying no thank you or asking to see sample chapters of my work.

In addition, I've put my work a little more out there for feedback this past week. I sent all three novels to my mom, asked a girl who babysits for us to read them (I thought it might be nice to get some feedback from an actual young adult) and I've now heard some positive things about the third, most recently-written novel The Princess of Whatever from two of the people I gave it to. Sure, I'm married to one of them, but he is usually willing to be fairly honest in his assessment of my work, and I don't think he would have led with "I think this is best thing you've ever written" if he iffy about it. He reads a lot and knows all my work, and so this is high praise in my book. Good feedback on this particular novel feels really good since it was, in some ways, SO difficult to write. Reasonable Man says that I got the tone right, which is good to hear.

Getting back to passing the manuscripts on to my mom. She had to ask me for them, and I've been thinking about why that would be. I am tremendously proud of them, and she always wants to read my stuff, so why wouldn't I be passing them along to her as I've written them? Well, there is the fact that she's my mom, and my novels are full of teenagers doing things that parents don't want their teenagers doing, and maybe there is still a little of that whole "she's my mom and I don't want her thinking I do that stuff," which is obviously pretty silly, considering I'm 35 years old and in less than two years, I will be the mother of a teenager myself.

But there's a more general issue as well, and here it is: if a grown-up asks me if they can read some of my writing, I usually want to give them this other novel I wrote called Claim to Fame. It's about people in their early 20s, but at least the target audience is adults. That's great, but the fact is, what I want to do long-term is write for teens. I'm not embarrassed to tell people that, but it would seem I'm a bit squeamish about showing people my work in that area, and if the dream I'm currently (and finally actively) pursuing comes true, these things are going to be out in the world where anyone, not just the people I pick and choose, can read them. So I'm thinking it may be time to try and develop -- hm, a thicker skin is not the right term -- let's say a little more confidence about what I do. I write books for young adults -- they aren't genre romances, but they do focus on romantic relationships, and my target audience is teen-age girls. And not that I've gone around apologizing for them, but I do think I've found myself trying to explain what the heck I'm doing writing for and about teenagers, and I am hereby officially done with that. So there.