Saturday, September 27, 2008

So I met this guy

when I was sixteen. He was trying to pitch those little red-hot candies into my cleavage.

I was not amused.

In retaliation, I dumped my coke on his open calculus book.

And the war was on.

Six years later, we married on my twenty-second birthday and have been happily married for the last nineteen (!) years.

Today is his birthday. Happy Birthday Matt - I love you!!!

I'm glad you have good aim, despite your poor decision making skills.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day

I'd like to share some of my very favorite pirate-y books.

Long before The Pirates of the Caribbean hit the theatres, my kids, like many kids loved pirates. For a long time we were Pirate Mama, Pirate Papa, Pirate Cait, Pirate Grammy - well, you get the picture. We drank pirate tea and ate pirate bars (granola bars). Time outs were called walking the plank. They tied each other up, hid treasure all over the yard and house and constantly carried swords, daggers and hooks. In an effort to potty train my youngest, he received those little plastic doubloons for hitting the to speak. We also read the best stories - they're books that I'll never get rid of - I have so many fond memories attached to them. Plus, they're AWESOME story books. If you have any little pirates in your life (or older pirates who love picture books, may I suggest the following.

The Ballad of the Pirate Queens is by the brilliant Jane Yolen and tells the story of Mary Reed and Anne Bonney and Calico Jack Rackham. The paintings are exquisite and the story while likely not historically accurate is great.

Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail is probably one of my all time favorites. Edward, a little boy who loves to read spends all his time at the library with his nose in a book. One day he checks out a book about pirates. It's a special book because it tells the location of the pirates' treasure. The pirates know this, but they can't read so they sneak into Edward's room and demand that he tell them where the treasure is. Edward gives them more than they asked for - he teaches them to read. Best. Book. Ever.

Penelope and the Pirates by James Young is the story of a cat who longs for adventure so she convinces a sea captain that her markings are actually a map to a buried treasure. Unfortunately, some pirates get wind of this info and they kidnap Penelope. However, Penelope is a resourceful cat.

Sailor Song by Nancy Jewel is a sweet bedtime story about a little boy who's father has gone off to sea.

Grandma and the Pirates by Phoebe Gilman tells the tale of a brave little girl who must rescue her Grandma. Because of her great skill at cooking, the Grandma has been been kidnapped by pirates to serve as their new cook.

And finally, Tough Boris by Mem Fox - how I love this book. Boris is the toughest of all pirates and he never cries, but one day his parrot dies. This book manages to be a little suspenseful, sad and hopeful all at the same time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Cute - I Has It

This is Herne (white with stripes) and Rowan. They keep me company while I work. If only they'd do a little ghost writing for me, I might be further along.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Something I Never Imagined Myself Doing

I had the pleasure of spending my weekend with Brynn Paulin and Dakota Rebel who came for a visit. I had a fantastic time with these two. There was much food, even more laughter and there was the roller derby. I didn't even know Grand Rapids had a team - but we do, the Raggedy Girls and they're good. More surprising to me was the fact that I liked it. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo not a sports girl, but despite that, watching the roller derby was insanely entertaining. Even better than the skating action itself was the people watching. I don't think I've ever seen such and interesting mix of people.

There were the skater chicks - tough and super competitive. Those women are absolutely amazing to watch. There were the refs - my favorite was the dude who wore an itty bitty gold lame bikini Ala Rocky in the Rocky Horror Picture Show during the first half and pink ruffle-butt panties during the second half. There were the skater groupies - both men and women, many of them heavily tattooed and pierced. Some were clearly family and others definitely groupies. There were people that looked like they'd stopped by after a PTA meeting and those who were heading to the biker bar afterward. There were little kids and one little old lady who was celebrating her 79th birthday by seeing her first roller derby bout.

After talking about the derby with several women I know, I discovered that many of them wanted to be roller derby skaters when they were kids. I wonder what it is about this sport that interests so many. So what about you? Did you ever have any burning desire to be a derby skater? Or to participate in any other relatively dangerous sport?

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm over at

Hitting the Hot Spot today. Please come and visit me over there. I'm all lonely and stuff.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another Special Day

It's a birthday bonanza today! Happy Birthday to Brynn Paulin and my sister Cait. May you both have years filled with love, laughter and all of the things that make you happy.

I love you both so much!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are You Going to Arrest My Mama?

Fourteen years ago today, I met one of my favorite people. Granted, we'd been previously introduced considering he'd been bouncing on my bladder like a demented circus clown for months, but this was my first real introduction to Killian. My life hasn't been the same since, but I wouldn't change any of it.

Happy Birthday Killian!!!

In honor of the boy's birthday, I'd like to share something I wrote a few years ago - yep...true story. You just can't make this stuff up.

I had no gossamer illusions about child rearing. I never once thought it would look anything like the glossy pictorials of celebrity moms romping through appropriately upscale parks with their offspring, the nanny discretely out of camera range. After all, any children in question would have sprung from the combined gene pools of my husband and me. While I expected parenthood to be the most rewarding vocation I’d ever have, I also knew it would be at times, hard, scary and overwhelming. Still, I never imagined the cops would show up on my doorstep – especially before the kids were even out of preschool. Clearly, I was naive.

Perhaps, I should have heeded the omens. My oldest son, like many kids, had a predisposition toward nudity. He was more interested in accessorizing than dressing. Capes, baseball gloves and high-heeled pumps were his usual wardrobe choices.

My youngest son, also a budding naturalist, stripped out of his diaper as often as humanly possible. Even the duct-tape, my husband insisted on using in an attempt to keep our son’s bum covered, was pointless.

In addition to raising my own exhibitionists, I also provided daycare for three other miniature nudists. Thankfully, their parents were laid back and also had trouble keeping their kids clothed at home.

And then there was Betty. Betty the Biddy lives across the street, five houses down from my house. Betty never leaves her front porch. Unless she’s pissed. At me. We’ve discussed my shameless lack of yard morals, my front yard picnics and of course, my most grievous offense, my naked children. The last time the nudity issue came up, the kids and I were playing in the rain. It should be noted that I was clothed – nobody wants to see that!

She bandied about the words disgusting, immoral and lascivious. Foolishly, I tried to explain that they were small, innocent children who at this point had healthy body images and I wanted to keep them that way. More foolishly, I launched into a sermon about society’s warped view of nudity and sexualization of everything. She blinked at me several times before huffing and branding the naked rain dancing offensive. To which, I responded, “Not as offensive as the pink housecoat and fuzzy pink slippers you’re wearing.”

Now, if I had recognized these signs for what they were – Portents of Doom – perhaps, I might have avoided my run-in with the police.

Fast forward to a couple months later. A gentle, summer rain fell, and rainbows shimmered in the sky. My friend and her three children were visiting, and the kids begged to go outside and play. So off came the clothes and out went eight naked little bodies, none over the age of five.

My friend and I sat on my front steps and watched as the kids splashed in puddles, caught raindrops on their tongues and played a slippery game of “Rain Dance Tag.” We even left the porch to splash with our kids. While we were playing hopscotch in the puddles, a city police car drove slowly down the street and stopped in front of my house. Eight, naked children excitedly jumped up and down, oohing and ahhing at the shiny blue car with its flashing lights.

I approached the police officer fairly confidently, since I knew we weren’t doing anything illegal. After my last run in with Betty, I’d called both the Department of Social Services and the police station to make sure there weren’t any laws against small, naked children. I’d also gotten written permission from my daycare parents. So, with me standing outside the car and the officer tucked safely inside it, the conversation went like this:

Me: “Hello, officer. Is there something I can help you with?”

Officer: “Ma’am, are you aware that these children have no clothes on?”

Me: “Why, yes. Yes, I am.” (Insert uncomfortable silence in which the officer and I stare at one another. Finally, I broke.) “We’re not breaking any laws. I’ve already called the police department and DSS to make sure.”

Officer: “Well, ma’am, we’ve had a complaint from a neighbor.”

Me: “Who?”

Officer: “I’m not at liberty to divulge that, ma’am.”

Me: “Betty.”

Officer: “Why not have them play in the rain in the backyard?”

Me: “There aren’t any good puddles to splash in back there. The water soaks into the ground.”

Officer: (Looks at me as if I’d grown a second head.)

Ridiculously, I attempted to explain the body-image-warped-society connection. The officer looked at me as if I’d grown a third and fourth head.

Officer: “I’ll need to take your statement, ma’am.”

Me: “Why do you need a statement if it’s not illegal?”

Officer: “It’s an official call, ma’am.”

Me: (Big sigh.) “Whatever.”

So I gave the overly polite police officer my name, date of birth, social security number, names and ages of all nude children, etc. This went on for a good ten minutes while Betty spied from her porch.

Finally, my eldest son, Killian, said, “Hey Police Guy, are you gonna arrest my mama?” The man shook his head, to which my son responded, “Okay good. When she’s done getting in trouble can we look inside your car?”

The guy looked like an acrophobic out on a ledge. I pointed out that the kids had their fun interrupted and had been waiting patiently. With a horrified expression, he nodded slowly and rolled the window down a little further. From the abject panic flickering in his eyes, I surmised the man had no children of his own. I lifted one naked child up after another to look inside the patrol car.

Killian: “Cool! You have a laptop in the car! My mama has a laptop. Are you a writer, too?”

Officer: “Uh. . .”

Killian: “Is that your gun? Can I hold it?”

Officer: “No, I-”

Killian: “Will you make the sirens go? Are there any bad guys in your car? Take us for a ride, please! And go really fast. I like to drive fast!”

Officer: “Uh. . .”

Killian: “What’s that button do? Can I push it? Wanna play rain dance tag with us? It’s fun.”

Conveniently, his radio crackled to life. Never have I seen a man so relieved to trade a group of inquisitive children for the relative safety of a robbery in progress. As he drove down the street, he glanced at Betty. The Betty who stood at her porch window, obviously confused and distraught. The Betty who glared at me with impotent anger. The Betty who had been forsaken by the defenders of law and order.

With the supreme satisfaction of the vindicated, I grinned and waved. Then I jumped in the biggest puddle with my naked kids.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How did this happen?

The first week of school is almost over and so far, so good.

I can't quite believe it, but Killian, my oldest started high school on Tuesday. I swear it was just a month ago that I tearfully sent him off to kindergarten and now suddenly he's a high school freshman. High. School. How is that even possible? So far, he's loving it. One of his first assignments was to write about an important lesson that he'd learned. He chose to write about Karma - I was delighted. I'm interested to see what kind of a grade he gets on it.

My youngest, Corwin, just started fifth grade. He's had a bit of a rough summer. He had to get glasses and braces within several weeks of each other, but he's kept a pretty positive attitude about things. He's excited to be back in class with his friends, but he did mention that he hopes his table mate doesn't bring cow tongue sandwiches this year. GUH! I don't blame him! He and his friends have started planning their Halloween costumes already. He's also planning his first snow fort of the season - in great detail. He's got diagrams and maps and attack and escape routes. I just hope we get enough snow for him to build it all.

My baby sister, Caitlin, just started her senior year of college. I can still hear her little three year old voice announcing that my wedding was "booooooooooooooorrrrrring" and that she had to "peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee right now!" during the ceremony. (Think lots of marble and high, vaulted ceilings - I think everyone heard that she had to go.) I'm not sure how enough time has passed that she's gone from a flower girl to a soon-to-be college graduate, but it has.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day insanity of life, I forget to stop and just enjoy the people around me. I know it's a cliche, but time really does go fast -- except when you're in a traffic jam and you have to pee, but other than that, it seems like it whips by at warp speed. I hope that I remember these present moments with the people that I love as well as I remember the past ones.

Time to make some new memories and write another book.