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At the Beach

image from freedigitalphotos.net

I’m being a total slacker today. My kids woke up early and convinced me to take them to the beach. I had a million things to do, like go grocery shopping, grade papers, and edit the stuff I do daily, but I let them win. We stopped at Subway and picked up sandwiches and hung out at the beach all day. The water was too cold for my liking, but it never seems to bother the kids. We had a great time.

As a special treat for those who love a man in uniform (or just find firemen hot):

When was the last time you threw your schedule out the window and did something fun and spontaneous?

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The Mother’s Day That Wasn’t

It’s Sunday night and I’m going use this post to vent a little. Mother’s Day around here wasn’t just a typical day. It was a typical day leaning toward bad. Like I’ve said before, I don’t expect big celebrations and lavish gifts. But today was a tough one.

My godson spent the weekend with us because my friend was out of town until Sunday morning, so my morning started with a 30-minute drive to get him to his soccer game by 10. I stayed for the game because otherwise no one would be there to cheer for him. I didn’t mind doing this because my friend is a single mom in need of a break. I made my youngest go with me because both my son and my husband were sick (and we do call her Trouble).

Then I found out that Shorty made my husband breakfast in bed because he was sick (WTF?). Later she told me that she had made the breakfast for me, but then hid it and forgot about it until after I left. 🙂

Trouble and I had lunch at Sonic on the way home from the soccer field. Once I got home, I finished my editing for the day job and took my son to the Walgreens clinic to make sure he didn’t have an ear infection like his father (who went to the clinic earlier in the day, but didn’t think to bring our son with him).

After an hour at the clinic (no ear infection – YAY!), I went back home to get some grading done for my Thursday night class. Did I have to do it today? No, but since both of my daughters asked me to chaperone their field trips this week (one on Monday and one on Tuesday), not only am I losing writing time, I’m losing all my work time.

Dinner involved me going out and picking up Wendy’s for the kids and tacos from the neighborhood Mexican restaurant for me and my husband. At least I didn’t have to cook.

Before you think that my life is totally miserable, I did get a card from my husband and a dozen roses and a recorded book from my kids. The book made me laugh, especially the parts that weren’t supposed to be recorded.

I finished my evening by going grocery shopping so that I would be able to make lunches this week. And then I threw in a load of laundry.

Really, when you think about celebrating what moms do, I believe I covered almost all of it today.

How was your Mother’s Day? Did you get anything fun and fabulous?

Meet My Cast

I’ve been blogging for a couple of months now and I’ve mentioned a few times that I have 3 kids. I find that it’s been really hard to blog and not include such a huge part of my life (motherhood). I believe that since they are minors and haven’t asked to be a part of any of this, they have a right to privacy, but it makes it hard to talk about stuff.

I’ve been thinking for a long time now about how to refer to them in the blog since I obviously don’t want to use their real names. Many authors use cute monikers that go together for their kids. Lucy March/Lani Diane Rich for example refers to her daughter as Sweetness and Light. Inez Kelley calls hers Spawnetta, Damien, and the Omen. I couldn’t think of anything that would fit them as a group, so I decided to keep it individual.

First up is Eeyore. This is name fits my son because he’s right on the edge of teenagerhood, clinging to bits of childhood. Not a week goes by when I don’t hear how much he hates his life over and over (That might have something to do with me being the Mean Mom of the neighborhood.) He loves Legos and Star Wars, especially Yoda. He is severely disappointed to find out that his Jedi mind tricks don’t work on Supreme Emperor Mom.

Next, is Shorty. We call her Shorty McShort-Short all the time. There’s nothing medically wrong with her. She’s just a short kid. It looks like her younger sister will soon catch up to her height. Of the three of my kids, Shorty is most like me, both in

appearance and personality. All 3 of the kids are readers, but she’s the one I have to threaten with losing her books (that’s sounds awful, but nothing else works). She’s also my biggest fan and cheerleader on my publishing journey, even though she’s too young to read what I write.

Finally, there’s Trouble. We often tell her that we’re going to legally change her name to Trouble because that is what she’s been from the beginning. She was conceived while I was on the pill. She is the only one of the 3 who had minor complications during delivery; the one who refused to stand or walk until I made her go to physical therapy at 18 months; the one who discovered how nicely markers color on my walls (and toys and her body), especially black Sharpies. I fear her getting to adolescence because since the age of 2 she’s had a weird fascination with motorcycles, tattoos, and drummers.

I love all of my kids equally, just not necessarily equally at the same time. I often play favorites and I tell them. Some days, I look at one of them and say, “I think you’re my favorite today.” It never stays the same for long. They each get a turn and part of them, I think, likes that I make a little fuss.

Shorty, for instance, was my favorite the day I had to pay for her braces simply because her braces cost me more than $2000 less than her brother’s. I have no idea why. But it made her smile on a day she wasn’t thrilled.

Trouble becomes my favorite when she rushes up to me to give me a big hug and kiss, just because. She’s still young enough for this to happen often.

For Eeyore, the favorite days are few and far between right now because hormones get in the way, but every now and then, his sharp wit will snap out a remark that will make me laugh so hard I cry. On those days, he’s my favorite because not only is it usually a much needed laugh, but it’s always a sharp and intelligent comment that he whips at us.

What do you call your kids when they’re not around? Or maybe if they are around?

Family Dinner – Blue Bloods Style

One of my favorite semi-new shows is Blue Bloods. Yes, it’s another cop show, but this one focuses more on the Reagan family than the crimes themselves. The Reagans are an Irish Catholic family in New York. The whole family is cops, except for Erin, the only daughter, who is a DA. There’s so much I love about the show. The family is dominated by men, but they are good, loving men who put family first. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tom Selleck and Donny Wahlberg star in the show.

One thing that stands out for me is that this family eats Sunday dinner together every week. Even if there’s a big case, everyone at least makes an appearance at the dinner table. It’s also about a whole lot more than just eating. When you have the whole family together, the conversation can be argumentative, hurtful, funny, or heartfelt.

Here’s a clip from a dinner scene:

An even better dinner scene is from the last episode (season 2, episode 9, “Moonlighting”). I couldn’t find a clip, but you can watch it for free on-line. The dinner scene there is wonderful because Jamie is beaten to a pulp earlier in the episode and everyone is talking about it. Then they make jokes about how he hid evidence (he swallowed it), which evolved into family stories of all of the things Jamie swallowed over the years. You learn so much about the characters from the way they interact at the family dinner.

Part of me also loves this show because I’m writing about an Irish Catholic family (set in Chicago, not cops) in my books. Although they don’t do family dinner weekly, they do commit to everyone getting together at least once a month. Often, it’s more than that. Like the Reagans, my O’Learys use the dinner table to air grievances and celebrate victories.

In real life, I’m bad at the whole family dinner thing. We do eat together, but the TV is usually on. We tend to spend our quality time in other ways. The kids like to watch TV while they eat because it gives them some downtime in between all of their activities (and there are lots). We get the same laughter and banter as the Reagans, but ours tends to happen in the car instead of at the dinner table.

How about you? Do you do big family meals on a regular basis?

Revenge is…

Scary. I don’t know if you’ve been roped into this show, but I sure have. When I originally saw commercials for Revenge, I hadn’t planned to watch. I thought it was going to be a Mean Girls kind of show. I think that mostly came from the lead actress looking so young. For whatever reason, I tuned in for the first episode and I was hooked. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:

The whole premise is that Amanda Clarke takes on a new identity (Emily Thorne) to exact revenge on all of the people who played a part in ruining her and her father’s lives. Amanda/Emily is such a complex character that she’s fascinating to watch. Most of the time, she’s so scheming that she appears to be nothing more than a sociopath. She’s completely cold and heartless.

But then…you see her with Jack, her childhood friend, and the dog she left with him years ago, and you see genuine love. The actress is phenomenal as you watch her compartmentalize those feelings to keep on track. For weeks, I kept wishing that Amanda would abandon her mission and find happiness with Jack. It was a possibility, and although I knew it wouldn’t happen, it didn’t stop me from hoping. I guess that’s the romantic in me.

Now, it’s too late. Too much has happened, and she can’t go back. It kind of makes me sad because I don’t see how this can end well for Amanda. She’ll get her revenge, but at what cost to her?

I can understand the concept of revenge. I’m sure there have been times in my life when I’ve gotten even with someone over some wrong. I don’t think I could go to the lengths Amanda goes to get revenge. Her plans are meticulous to knock off each person. No, she doesn’t kill anyone; she doesn’t have to. She ruins them, using their own faults to bring them down.

My husband is squarely in the eye-for-an-eye camp. If someone had done to him what was done to Amanda, I could totally see him spending the rest of his life making those people pay. I grew up in a dysfunctional, abusive household. I was an angry teen. By the time I was an adult, I learned I had to let it go. The anger and hate would just eat away at me and ruin more of my life. So although I carry that baggage with me and it has formed who I am, it doesn’t rule my life. Amanda’s rage rules hers.

How about you? Are you more likely to seek revenge or do you just move on?

Thankful

Since I’m traveling for the holiday, I’m going to keep this one simple. It’s Thanksgiving and here’s what I’m most thankful for this year:

1. My kids (this year and every year) – Although I work part-time, I work from home, so I’m always around for my kids. I never thought this was the life I would want, but even when they make me want to pull my hair out (or theirs), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m also thankful that they are healthy, smart, and pretty well-behaved.

2. My husband – we bicker, we fight, but we’ve known each other for over 22 years. He was my best friend before we got married, and my life would have a gaping hole without him.

3. Chicago-North RWA – this is my local RWA chapter and this group of women rocks. We are a critique group, and I’ve learned so much as a writer from them, it’s scary. We’re getting ready for our conference this spring, so if you’re in the area, check us out. Chicago Spring Fling

4. My Macbook Air – For a year and a half, I wrote on a netbook because I got it free. I love my iMac that I work on at home, but most of my writing time is out of the house. Using the netbook saved me time and increased my productivity over using pen and paper, but I hated that netbook. My husband worked an extra side job this fall and gave me the money to get the Macbook. It’s pretty.

5. Fran Black – She’s my agent. I just signed with her in October and we’ve been working on revisions for a book that wouldn’t let me go. The thing I like most about Fran is that she loves my book. Isn’t that what every writer wants?

6. Warm weather – Right after Thanksgiving with the in-laws in Tennessee, we’re headed to Florida because my daughter’s cheerleading squad made it to nationals for competition. We decided to turn it into a family vacation. I’m from Chicago — I’ll take any bit of warmth I can get in December.

7. Books, books, books – electronic, paperback, you name it, I love it. 

8. DVR – There are many conveniences I depend on daily, but this is one I probably enjoy the most. No more having to remember to check to see if there’s a new episode and set the timer, or worse, having to put in a VHS tape (remember those days?) The downside is that I find myself being roped into at least trying way more shows than I ever would’ve in the past.

9. Diet Coke – I’ve been a Diet Coke addict since about the age of 12. Over the past year, however, I’ve linked the worsening of my migraines to aspartame. I switched to Diet Coke with Splenda, which is not as good as the original, but it’ll do. There are times when I still drink the real thing, and as long as I don’t over-do it, I’m okay. And it’s still my favorite form of caffeine.

10. Time to write – Ever since I decided to take a stab at writing, I’ve always had to “find the time.” I already had a gazillion responsibilities, so squeezing writing time in had to happen around everything else. I trained myself to think about plot points while driving or doing other mundane tasks so that as soon as I sat down to write (while the kids were in swim lessons or tae kwon do or football/cheerleading), I was ready to actually get words on the paper. I created that routine and now I look for every spare moment to write because I love it so much.

How about you? What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

(note: I’m on the road today, so I won’t be able to read comments until late tonight, but I will respond. Thanks)