Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Fish Named Rover

The search for a pet has been an interesting one so far. The pet store employees have been so helpful with providing knowledge. For instance, did you know that corn snakes are very active and ball pythons make better pets? And when you feed snakes, you get frozen mice, put them in a bag, drop them in boiling water and heat them up until they are warm but not too hot? (Gross!) And that you shouldn't feed your snake in it's enclosure, because it might become cage aggressive? Cage aggressive means they'll strike at you when you put your hand in to pick them up. Now I don't know about you, but I couldn't have lived without all that information! And because I'm such a sweetheart, I shared with you!

We're looking at cats, too. (My preference.) So far, we've not had a lot of luck finding a good fit. They're either scared of everything, look sick, or are hellcats.

We've looked at lizards and turtles and other critters too. Yesterday, I bought a fish. Our fish is a blue and red male Betta that I've had my eye on for weeks. I brought him home and set up his little aquarium. He moves in today and is quite excited.

Bettas are interesting fish. You can only put one male in an aquarium. This might lead you to believe it's safe to put him in with a female. Not so much. Only when they're ready to breed and only until the deed is done. Then he goes back to solitary. Otherwise, he'll kill her. I read you can house them with some other fish, but only if they aren't as pretty as he is. What an ego these fish have! So, we have our solitary Betta. But I digress.

My boys came in from school and ran to see our newest family member. After homework and general chaos, we sat down for dinner. The topic of dinner conversation quickly turned to naming the Betta.

I'll spare you my husband's suggestion. Suffice it to say, he was less than enthusiastic after a day of travel. He just got back from a trip to Florida.

"Let's call him Betta!"

"No, Ninja!"

"I like Peter Jackson!"

"Okay, we'll call him Betta Ninja Fighter Peter Jackson Fishy!"

My children, ages 9 and 7, have no understanding of the "less is more" concept.

My response? "Let's name him Rover!"

They all looked at me as though I'd lost my mind. Perhaps I have.

So, while they argued over his name, Rover and I bonded. I entertained him with fish food pellets and he entertained me by viciously attacking them. I read that you can train them to eat from a little spoon. This could be interesting.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not Babies Any More

This was the first day of school for the trio. My oldest is a fourth grader and is much too cool for Mom. The twins are in second grade and decided that they no longer need Mom to walk them in either. I have to admit I got a little teary eyed at the thought of my babies being at that stage. But it's all a part of the process. I'd much rather have them be independent than to cry and cling to me. It shows that they're well-adjusted little people. (Sniff, sniff)

Then my mind wanders to the teachers that we entrust with our children. I pray that they all really love children. And that they aren't like a few people I knew in college who went into teaching for summers and Christmas vacations off. I pray they look at those eager little faces and use the authority they have to help guide and nurture them. And I hope the ones who are sharp and impatient realize what a responsibility they have, and that it softens them just a little.

Nothing is more precious than those little beings we bring into the world. So, when they say "Mom, I don't need you", we let them go. And we wait with open arms when they run back for that hug, that quick kiss, content that they are traveling along the road of life just as they should.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Imagine That

I've always had a very vivid imagination. I was an only child until I was six. Then my sister came along and frankly, I wasn't thrilled about her. (Sorry, sis.) I eventually came around, but my imaginary friends, Johnny and Kathy kept me busy until then. I made my mom set a place for them at the table, which they shared because they were never separated. Those two got into the most trouble! I was an angel. Hey now, stop laughing! I really was! I never ate candy before dinner. That was Johnny and Kathy. And no, I didn't break that ashtray. They did! I would never do such a thing.

And all was well until my grandpa sat on them. (Sniff sniff) He and my grandma had come for a visit. At dinner, he sat down and I shrieked! He'd squashed Johnny and Kathy! They didn't die, but it was touch and go for a while. Grandpa apologized profusely, but Johnny and Kathy didn't come around much after that when my grandparents visited.

Johnny and Kathy moved on a few years later. They hadn't been the same since they were sat on. The trauma was just too much for them and they went to live with some other little girl. I received an imaginary letter telling me so.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When Betas Mate

My children want a pet. My oldest son wants a dog and a snake. Of course, he also wants a rat and a bearded dragon. Please excuse me while I go girlie for a minute....(ewwww, shudder, gross) I'm not really against a snake, but I'm not totally for it either. I don't want a constrictor, but a milk snake or corn snake would be okay. Maybe. The rat is a HELL no. The bearded dragon is a not-so-much. Although, I have to admit the bearded dragon is cute, in a lizardy --my blog, I can make up words if I want-- sort of way. The dog is okay as long as it's housebroken and doesn't destroy things. Uh huh, might as well dream big!

My middle child wants a cat and some fish. Those are pets I can live with, right? Sure, I like cats and fish are cool. He wanted a bird or a hamster, but I said no fowl or rodents. Those are firm rules. Which means the chick and duck he wants around Easter will be a no.

My baby wants a cat, a fish, a turtle and a horse. Um, well, where would we keep the horse? He thinks we could build an underground shelter, with a slide for the horse to get down to the shelter and an elaborate lift system using straps and helicopters to lift him up. Again, not so much. The turtle would be cool.

So, I take the boys to the pet store, one at a time. They ask tons of questions and the store clerks give them tons of answers. My middle child asks, "Why can't you put another fish in with a beta fish?" The clerk explains why (the male beta will kill another fish) and says the male will even kill a female, except when it's mating season. Of course, my kiddo wants to know what that means. Sigh. I explain that mating is what they do to have babies. He's cool with that answer. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. We get home and he's telling the rest of the crew about beta fish. He says, "You can only put a boy and a girl in the same bowl when they're....um....oh yeah, getting married!" Stifling grins and giggles, my husband and I listen and make the appropriate comments.
We're still in the process of looking and discussing. All I know is I have to get pets I'm comfortable handling. Because you know who's going to end up taking care of it, right? We've (read I've) ruled out horses, rodents, spiders, boas, pythons, venomous snakes, birds, ferrets, and frogs. Other than that, I'm pretty cool with whatever they choose.

Planning on a visit to the shelter to look for kittens soon. Fingers crossed that we find one they all like. Then my poor husband will be the only one left to convince. He's not a cat person. He suggested we get a dog, a cat, a hamster, a snake, and a lizard. His idea is to put them in a room and see which one comes out. And NO, he's not serious! At least, I don't think he is...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's Talk Attraction

What do you find attractive when you're searching for a significant other? I know I'll hear about good bodies, hair, eyes, and the rest of the physical attractions. But that's not what I mean. Of course, you want to be physically attracted to your significant other. But that can't be all of it.

The physical attributes fade. That tattoo of a hummingbird on her hip that's so attractive now, will turn into a screaming vulture that travels on a downward slope to her thigh....or her knee....or ankle. Gravity will take over, don't doubt it. The head full of think hair will recede until his head looks like a cue ball. And those flat stomachs and rock hard abs will turn to "spare tires" and "love handles". Or c-section scars and stretch marks.

What else do you find yourself attracted to? For me, it's intelligent conversation, a sense of humor, an open mind. It's trips to new places, getting lost and discovering something new. It's quiet walks on the beach or up a mountain trail. It's finding a "mountain lion sighting" sign and racing to it, giggling, snapping pictures in front of it. It's getting lost on a "shortcut" home and finding a little cabin in the middle of nowhere to stay the night.

It's watching him play silly games with a baby. Hearing him sing to quiet a frightened child in the middle of a barbershop packed with men. Watching him sleep with a sick baby on his chest so the little one can rest. It's patience and soft words. It's a quiet strength. It's security and belonging. It's her voice singing a lullaby, slightly off tune. Whispers and kisses to take away bad dreams or hurt feelings. It's knowing without a word, what someone needs from you. It's giving that attention when you have nothing more to give.

I find those things more attractive than physical appearance. Do you agree?

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Thursday was not a productive writing day. But it's summer and I spent the day with the crew. The crew being my three boys. We had a couple of errands to run -- snooze fest. Then we went prowling around flea markets and such places. Our mission? Find materials to make a castle.

One of my twins loves to build. Give him plans or a picture and he'll build with no help. And he designs his own plans too. He's only seven. Yep, that's right, seven.

As we dig through mountains of potential materials, his eyes light up. He has a grin from ear to ear. He's in his version of heaven on earth. I'm happy watching him. And I started storing the details in my mind. He grabs a candle holder. (Wooden, looks like stairs when you hold it the way it's meant to sit. And like the bottom of a boat when it's turned upside down.) I nod my approval. We leave with a dollhouse kit (he hates that idea) and several wooden boxes and trays.

We stop by a tobacco shop and get an empty cigar box. He only had one, but agreed to keep the empties and let me collect them periodically. This stop led to a great discussion on the dangers of tobacco and alcohol. (I take what opportunities I can to educate them.)

Friday, we got a couple of towers built for the castle. And today, we started planning the walls and drawbridge. Let's just hope we can skip the moat and scary crocodiles/alligators. I'm not up to that much reality....unless they're plastic critters. Now, we're waiting for our base to dry. (Wood glue takes a little while.) Then we start building the walls!

I'm thinking I should have saved the construction tape they had around our house a couple of weeks ago. We may need it for our project.

Back to building! Have a great weekend and as always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Review of Scott D. Southard's "A Jane Austen Daydream"

I couldn't tell you the last time I picked up one of Jane Austen's works. No, that's not quite true. I know it was around the time I took English literature in college. So, for me to pick up and read a book about Jane Austen, fiction or not, was a minor miracle in itself.

I don't know what I was expecting, but it has to be one of the best pieces of fiction I've read in a while. Scott D. Southard's "A Jane Austen Daydream" had me at page one. He is a very gifted storyteller with the ability to bring you into the story quickly and keep you there. I felt every disappointment, triumph and tragedy. I literally could not put it down. And the twist at the end was written so well that it took a moment for me to realize what he'd done.

If you want a great read, get this book! You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Parenting Woes

This morning my 9 year old tells me about a new friend of his. This "friend", we'll call him Johnny (little Johnny always gets into trouble in stories), tells my kiddo he has a social media account. Sigh. I can feel myself gearing up for the fight. So, my kiddo says he thinks we should let him online to get a social media account.

He goes on to say, "And before you say I'm not old enough, all I have to do is lie about my age."

No. Nope. Uh uh. He did NOT just say that to me. I explained that we don't encourage or tolerate lying in this house. And that once you start lying, it's hard to stop.

He then tells me that "Johnny" said his friend posted a comment saying someone is a "f'ing 'tard." Damn, damn, damn. We have worked so hard to keep him from using words like that!

I went on to explain that 'tard is slang for retarded and that we NEVER use that word. It's hurtful, ignorant and inexcusable. And I know you're probably wondering why I didn't address the f-bomb. He knows it's not okay to say, he even said so before he quoted "Johnny".

Now I'm faced with that age-old parental dilemma of REALLY disliking this new friend and knowing if I say so, he'll stick like glue. My plan? I'm going to get to know this child (he's a recent addition to a group my kiddo belongs to) and perhaps I can minimize the damage.

In the meantime, I'll watch closely, be glad he confides in me and pray he loses interest in this new friend SOON!!

And the social media fight was nipped in the bud quickly after the f-bomb and the "r" word. If we're doing this now, what in the world will happen during his teen years?!

P.S. Mom, I'm really sorry for my friends you didn't like. I know why now.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why Can't I Get This Written?

For two years I've been trying to write a piece about my dad. And for some reason, I can't get it written. Everything I've written comes off fake. Or makes him sound like a saint, and as much as I loved him, he wasn't.

He wasn't a bad person. He was human. He had a horrible temper, held grudges far longer than he should have, and could terrify you with a look. But he also loved his children--biological and stepchildren. He wasn't always fair, but he did love us.

His grandchildren were the light of his life. One of the biggest regrets I have is that he didn't see my boys much. We lived quite a distance away. And after he got sick with cancer, he didn't feel up to the trip or the chaos a visit would bring if we made the trip. Cancer sucks. It's one of the few diseases where the treatment poisons your body so much that it can sap your will to live.

My dad fought it, but he'd had so many other health problems and eventually he lost the fight. And he held on for his wife and kids. Until we gave him permission to let go. I miss him more than I can say.

He taught me to work with wood. We'd build things together. I love the smell of fresh cut lumber. I sometimes wander the lumber store just to bring back those memories. I learned to change oil, change brake shoes, and clean battery connections from him, too. I've helped him haul wood, herd cattle (a comedy, trust me) and work in his garden. He taught me to shoot guns, fish, dress dove. All those things a daddy might teach a boy, if he'd had one. But Dad had me, my sister and married a woman with two daughters. Poor man!

Well, look here! I actually managed to write a little about him. Huh. Who knew? Maybe I was trying too hard. Anyway, thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and/or share.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'm Here and I'm Not Going ANYWHERE!

I've been writing for years. I've not published anything yet. Not because I've been rejected, but because I haven't submitted anything to anyone. Why? How long do you have? Short version, fear. That's it. Fear of rejection, of someone not liking what I wrote, of offending someone. Now that I'm approaching my next birthday (the big 5-0), I realize I don't care any more. I don't care if I offend or someone dislikes what I write. I just plain don't give a damn!

I presented a piece of work at a writing group last month. The critique left me discouraged, frustrated and above all, mad as hell! I am not a poet, never professed to be one. And I prefaced the reading with that statement. And when I was done, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. My fault for calling it a poem. I should have called it a narrative or something. The end result, after I got over my cowering fear of presenting ANYTHING to ANYBODY, was to sit up and say, "Screw you!" Okay, not literally, but yeah, that's how I felt. And now, I'm glad I read it. I'm even glad I got the comments I did. I'm done worrying about it. It is what it is, good or bad. That's all. And you know, I'm not getting rid of it. It's got potential.

I'm putting my name out there, making my name visible to publishers, editors, other writers, and the general public. I want people to know who I am. A friend recently asked me how I feel about this new mindset. The answer? Scared shitless. I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, getting ready to bungee jump. And I can't wait to do it!!

My novels in progress are getting a lot more attention these days. My journal is filling up. I'm putting myself "out there" and letting life happen. By the end of next week, I will have an article ready for submission. Period. No "plan to" or "should have", it will be done.

So, watch as I jump! How do you like me now?

Monday, June 17, 2013


I never close my eyes in public. Never. Ever. Close. My. Eyes. In. Public. Not in church during prayer. Not during meditation. Not when I'm doing relaxation exercises with a group. Why? Fear? Paranoia? Anxiety? Okay, pick one.

That explains why I never slept in the hospital when my boys were born. The very thought of someone coming in when I was asleep was enough to sent me into a full blown panic attack!

Hospitals? Totally freak me out. The absolute worst combo there--germs and strangers wandering around. Did I mention I'm also a germaphobe? Yeah, I know. I'm the mom who carries antibacterial wipes EVERYWHERE and avoids public toilets if at all possible. And heaven forbid someone coughs or sneezes near me!! Or mentions they've had ___________(fill in with the latest bug going around)! That's enough to make me break out the germ killing spray!! I was accused of disinfecting my oldest child when anyone got too close. I did NOT! I just bathed him as soon as we got home. So there!

Yeah, I know, I know. I'm a little over the top. Okay, fine, a lot over the top! But (most of) those who know me, love me. Antibacterial wipes and all! Hey, I'm the one the rest of the group comes to for medicine and wipes when we're out in public!

And the most amusing part of this, I have three children, two of whom have asthma (not the funny part) and CANNOT TOLERATE MOST CLEANER SMELLS!!!!!! It's God's way of telling me to get a grip, isn't it?

Oh, and my three children are boys. Boys like dirt, creepy critters and the like. Scary stuff for a germaphobe! But I'm getting better. Really, I am. Yesterday, I picked up a turtle (with gloves on....me, not the turtle) and moved him out of harms way. As my kids would say, "Nah nah nah boo boo!"

Happy reading and blessings!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Worms & Turtles & Ants, Oh Boy!

Worms, turtles, ants and dirt! That's what little boys love! We played outside yesterday. The boys were fascinated with our turtle friend. He's taken up residence under out deck for now. He ventures out when we're inside, then slowly creeps under the deck when the boys get loud and busy, which little boys invariably do.

Yesterday, as we played ball and such, the boys kept wandering over to "check" on our friend. This involved sneaking up on the poor turtle and dropping leaves and small twigs on him. One of my twins kept getting closer....braver. Then, SNAP! The turtle had endured enough. He snapped at the stick my little guy was holding. The kiddo developed a healthy respect for our turtle friend.

Then, from across the yard, I hear, "Mom! There's an earthworm! Or maybe a baby snake!" (Shudder!)

I headed over and found an earthworm, moving sluggishly in the 90 degree heat. I carefully picked him up with a leaf, (Eek!) and deposited him in the damp leaves in the woods behind our house. Worm saved! And, thank goodness, no snake! Too hot for them to stir around, I guess.

A little later, I see all three boys poking a stick at something. I walk over and see them stirring up an ant bed. Sigh.

"Boys, stay out of the ants. They sting."

"Mom, you ALWAYS say that!"

Um, because I always mean it? Oh well, they'll learn. I did.

We saw no frogs. Perhaps, they'd heard about the boys in our yard? Or it was too hot? Anyway, I really didn't want to catch frogs, so I was far from disappointed.

The rest of the afternoon, we collected rocks and "arrowheads" and looked for dinosaur bones. Sadly, no dinosaur bones found. But we did find a couple of fossils and arrowhead-like rocks. Good times!

And in the middle of all the dirt and creepy critters, I heard, "Mom, you're the best! I love you!" Punctuated with muddy hugs and kisses, of course! In a few years, they'll be too cool for that, but for now, I'm loving it!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A blurb from my work in progress....

This is a very rough blurb from the middle of my work in progress.

The drive back took longer because of the load and because Kat didn't want to draw attention to herself. She drove down the road to her grandparent's house. Your house now. She drove past it to another road. She got out, unlocked the gate, pulled in and relocked it behind her. She drove without headlights to the entrance to a tunnel. She unlocked another gate and pulled inside. Once inside, she pulled farther down the road and turned on her headlights. Before long, she reached a steel door and stopped. She pressed a remote and the doors slid open to reveal an underground garage. She pulled the truck around and backed the trailer up to a raised platform. After she killed the motor, she jumped out and pressed the remote to close the steel door. Then she hopped up on the platform, entered a series of numbers on the keypad, and the door slid open to reveal the inside of the bunker. She opened the back of the trailer and began unloading boxes. The weight didn't bother her. She'd lifted weights at the gym to train for just this moment. It took hours, but the trailer was eventually empty and the guns from the truck were unloaded too. She walked through to the bunks and showers in the back of the bunker. She stripped, showered, threw on sweats and climbed into the bunk. She fell into a deep dreamless sleep, comfortable in the knowledge that she was safe, alone and had no need to worry about being discovered.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I've been thinking about friendship lately. And as I was composing this blog, a writer friend posted something on his blog along the same lines. Funny how life works, isn't it?

It's odd, because my friends range in age from people in their 20's to people in their 90's. I've got friends who are devout Christians, agnostics and athiests. And I love each one of them for the things they bring to my life and allow me to bring to their lives. I have friends that have known and (mostly) loved me for years. I have friends that know my deepest fears, my heartbreaks, my mistakes, my short-comings; and they still love me. I have friends I've known for a short time, who feel like I've known them forever.

As I sit here and think back over the last 40 or so years, (yes, I'll be 50 this year, but shhhhh it's a secret) I am grateful. For the friends who've stuck by me through everything, God bless you. For the friends who've given me a kick in the behind when I needed it, God bless you. For those who make me laugh, cry, think, dream, hope, feel....thank you and God bless you. For the ones who listen to me moan and whine, God bless you.

I guess what I'm saying is, each and every one of my friends is in my heart. I'm not going to list names, because I'd forget someone and hurt feelings. Just know, if our paths have crossed, I'm grateful. God bless you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shoveling Snow

Today, my husband and I shoveled snow together.  Now, you may wonder why that's such a big deal.  Let me explain.

When we first married and before we had children, we lived in Mississippi and Virginia.  Neither of those places get much snow, so we never had to shovel snow.   Then we moved to Illinois.  Holy cow!  The first time it snowed, I freaked out.  I was born and raised in Mississippi.  Everything shut down when it snowed! 

We had small children when we moved to Illinois, so when there was shoveling to be done, either my dear husband did it or I did on the days my oldest was at daycare.  I'd put the twins, who were about 9 months old, in their highchairs, sit them in front of the window so I could see them and they could see me, and start shoveling.  If he was home, my husband would shovel the drive. 

When we moved to Missouri, my oldest was around 3, the twins were 18 months.  We took turns shoveling snow, because there was NO WAY we could leave them inside alone while we worked together on it.  This has been the practice for a while now.  The twins are now 7 and my older child is almost 9.  I shoveled snow for a while by myself this afternoon.  (I've been cooped up with a sick child since Tuesday and with all three boys and my husband since Thursday--shoveling snow is a treat!)  After I was out there for a while, my husband came out to take over.  The boys were all inside having "quiet time"--as quiet as they ever get, anyway. 

We continued to work together for a while, throwing snow at each other every now and then.  All of a sudden, I looked at him and asked if we'd ever done this before.  He thought about it and no, we hadn't.  We've been married over thirteen years and this is another first.  And it was fun.  (Not that I want to shovel snow again soon.)

Thanks for reading.  God bless!