Monday, December 31, 2007

News flash - Someone in Toledo clogged a toilet

I remember when I was growing up, the news sounded so boring and adult, but somehow it made sense that grown ups enjoyed it because they loved boring activities like balancing checkbooks and cutting coupons and cleaning. And sleeping. Grown ups were always unbelievably tired, although it was unclear why because they never even did the monkey bars at the playground.

Back then it seemed that the news wasn't as overwhelming as it is today. We are bombarded with news, which is not necessarily a good thing, because really important events are not always included. The amount of news doesn't increase the quality of the news, it just means they examine certain things from every angle possible and they throw in a bunch of celebrity news.

The national news networks have been at it for a long time, but recently one of our local news stations has started offering AN HOUR AND A HALF of local news in the evening, versus all the other stations with their measly 30 minutes. Let me tell you, there is not enough news here to fill up an entire hour and a half every single night. Of course, that's in addition to the morning news, the afternoon news, and the late night news.

They had a big special on a couple weeks ago because it was the 10 year anniversary of a fire in the news station and they managed to scrape together a news broadcast for the next morning by staying up all night drawing the weather charts by hand. I am sure that these newscasters were thrilled to stay up all night doing this, because news around here is pretty uneventful. Unless you are a deer, because then people are hiding in the trees hoping to shoot you.

For a taste of some local news, I'll share from a local paper that includes a section on all the latest police reports*:

September 28

A deer ran into the side of squad 14 at 11:27 p.m. There appeared to be no damage.

October 1

High School reported vandalism to the north wall of the new gym.

At 12:44 p.m. a resident reported a large deer had part of a fence caught in his antlers and it appeared he was going to collapse. When squads arrived they observed the deer had a hammock wrapped in its antlers, but the deer took off when they approached. Police were going to contact the DNR office to see if they had any suggestions.

Individual was arrested for theft at 10:05 p.m. after getting a cab ride to the hospital and not paying the $15 fare.

October 4th

At 5:38 p.m. a resident reported she spotted the deer with a hammock in his horns in the woods next to her house. She knew the police were looking for it.

At 7:35 p.m. a complainant on 24th Street reported there was a bear underneath her porch. The DNR was notified and the bear eventually moved into the woods.

At 9:31 p.m. a complainant reported three young males wrote on a mail box, then headed to the nearby park. Officers responded, located the three youths. One juvenile was tab charged and the other two were escorted to their homes.

Obviously, we are in dire need of more news coverage.

*The news stations do cover a rather large area, including many rural areas and we happen to live in a more rural area, but even the main city's crime rate is probably about the same as Bedford Falls.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Time flies when you're wearing clothes

Lately I've been noticing how old a lot of my clothes are. Although it seems to me that I should still be about 21, my clothes betray this timelessness by going out of style and falling apart before my very eyes. I had a pair of shoes that I loved and wore at least 4 times a week and they always seemed relatively new because I JUST bought them, until they got a little holey and I realized that was 4 years ago.

My favorite pants also seemed newish, until I realized that I was wearing them while pregnant with Jack, which means they are about 5 years old. I know this seems like nothing, compared to people who hold onto their clothes for over 10 years and never even realize that no one is wearing parachute pants anymore. But the aging of my clothes only reinforces my belief that time is passing by so quickly, I barely have time to brush my teeth and comb the rat's nest out of my hair and a week has come and gone. It seems to have sped up around the time I had Dylann and has only increased speed since then. Soon I will be rolling out of bed and running desperately around the house (trying not to slosh coffee out of my mug that I will hold in a death grip because if I don't get enough caffeine intake I might blink and three days will have passed) in an attempt to finish something before the sun sets and the moon is out and it's 2 AM and everyone has been in bed for 4 hours and I am standing there saying, "What happened to 1999?!"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stop sending me robot poop

Once in a while, I submit things I write to publishers, hoping that they will read whatever I wrote and publish it. That's generally how it goes. Then I wait for at least two months to hear back from them, which comes in the form of some generic letter that reads like it was written by a robot. And not a friendly robot, a cruel, emotionless robot who spits the rejection letters directly out of its rear end into an envelope where the letter begins its journey to my mailbox.

Some publishers will let you submit via e-mail, but this does not speed up the process at all. A few months ago I submitted something to The New Yorker and 2 months later I recieved a reply. It was the most non-descript email I've ever recieved. The sender was not recognizable and my only clue that it was from The New Yorker was upon opening it and reading its one and only sentence. "Blah, blah, The New Yorker cannot use your material at this time." It was literally signed "The Editors." No name, just The Editors, as if I don't know that it was probably some intern named Gavin who has to read submitted manuscripts in between trips to the coffee shop to bring his boss a fat free, organic muffin and each time a little part of him dies inside.

It makes me wonder if publishers understand how hard it is to write something and send it in to them and wait on pins and needles for months. Don't they want to encourage writers to keep writing? If they are going to send out generic letters can't they at least contain more than one sentence and offer some words of wisdom all wrapped up with someone's actual name signed at the bottom?

I would like to send them a query letter that says:

I wrote a good story about you falling down the stairs and hitting your head. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Writer With Anger Issues

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from paradise

Since it’s Christmas Eve day, I decided to share my own version of the much loved “Christmas Letter”, wherein you update friends and family on all of the exciting events in your life. I've never written one, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Dear Friends & Family,

There have been many changes in our lives over the past year and I thought a Christmas letter would be the best way to let everyone share in our experiences. In January, Donn deployed to Iraq and we moved from Georgia to Minnesota. Has anyone ever traveled with a portable litterbox in the passenger seat because all of the other space, including breathing room is filled with junk? What a fun experience! I still find traces of cat hair and blood, sweat, and tears in the van and think fondly on those days.

Once we moved into our apartment, we thought about hiring a maid to deal with all the mess, but the maid was not willing to work for Cheez-Its, so unfortunately that didn’t work out. I tried teaching the children to cook and clean so that I could maximize my TV watching/moping time, but they kept whining that the knives were too sharp and the onions made them cry. BOO HOO.

Dylann is involved in karate and gymnastics, what an ambitious little fellow! He has so much energy! One time I told him to stop pulling all the cushions off the couches, because they are not trampolines and he responded by running up the walls and on the ceiling while laughing maniacally and sweating profusely without a shirt on. What an amazing kid!

Jack is a cuddly guy with a strong interest in violence. He’s four years old and he can already bring a grown man to his knees. We are unbelievably proud!

Well, I will wrap this up. I want to wish you all a merry Christmas from our beautiful home, located across the street from a lively bar.

Another Happy Family

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tastes like fiction

I've been reading a lot lately and thought I'd share some books I really liked. They're not all fiction. They just taste like it. Delicious.

Life of Pi was amazing. The detail and depth Yann Martel goes into describing the fantastical places and experiences in the book completely immerses you. The main character is Pi, who lives in India and fervently practices Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism simultaneously. The family leaves India for Canada on a Japanese ship and there is a shipwreck, which leads to the many extraordinary events Pi faces afterwards. I don't want to give too much away, but the ending brings it all together and leaves you with a lot to think about. Rumor has it there will be a movie based on this in 2009.

I just finished Random Family about a week ago and it is a definite page turner. I was up late into the night many times reading it, totally engrossed in the lives of the characters. The author, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, followed the lives of two families in the Bronx to write this book and the result is like a window into the world of the ghetto, where poverty reigns and people do anything they can to get by. One of the most amazing things about Random Family is the amount of time the author spent with these families (11 years) and the detail she goes into to be accurate. The lives of the characters are nothing like most of middle America and you truly never know what will happen to them from one moment to the next.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but this book was nutty and wonderful, like an Almond Joy. Augusten Burroughs writes a lot like David Sedaris, if he had been raised by an insane mother who turned over guardianship of him to her psychiatrist, who was probably the least sane person in the whole book. This is a memoir and that is one of the things that makes this book so good. You can't believe that all these things actually happened to someone and that he survived with mental facilities intact to tell about it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Old Timey Photo at Grandma's

For some reason I love this low-quality, grainy picture I took with my phone yesterday.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Way of the Ninja

Over the past few years we have taken Dylann to a few different sports. The idea being that his energy level (equal to or greater than that of a Jack Russell terrier) is so intense and his love for trying to stand on his head, climb walls, and jump off bunkbeds could be put to good use with some athletic involvement. First we did t-ball. This was not much of an athletic involvement, because they spent most of the time wondering what they should do first, pick flowers, draw shapes in the sand, or go after the ball.

Next we did gymnastics. Now that is a good workout. But I noticed that the parents could be a little EXTREME. As in, some of them actually homeschool their children so they can pursue gymnastics every day of the week for hours at a time. It was annoying to see an out of shape woman get up from the bleachers, walk into her daughter's class area and correct her while she was busy trying to do 3,068 lunges across the room.

I started thinking about kids sports and how the different parent personalities can be displayed by what sport their kid is in. Because it is clearly the parent's choice, and the kid has little say in the matter. It makes sense, because the parent will be equally as involved in the sport at this age.

This year I was thinking about signing Dylann up for hockey. I called a lady in the area to find out more about how often they practice and how often games are. This lady was extremely enthusiastic about hockey. She excitedly told me that registration is $100 and you need to make a $200 deposit (which will be refunded if you volunteer with the team for 20 hours) and they would also need a check for $60 to purchase tickets to a fundraiser which you are then in charge of selling and if they don't sell, you just made a donation to the team. And then of course, you have to purchase equipment. Practices are twice a week until games start and then you meet three times a week and then there are tournaments sometimes for a whole Saturday. Needless to say, the parents with kids in hockey are very competitive and dedicated. Which sounds a little odd when you're talking about 5 year olds.

I decided on a community ed Tae Kwon Do class. We showed up for the first class in a local middle school gym. A quick scan over the other parents revealed one lady with her nose in a book tucked away in a corner of the gym, two guys with glasses talking (possibly about the way of the ninja or the powers of the liger) and one was holding a comic book guide, and one lady who laughed along with me when the kids asked goofy questions or made announcements like, "Once I kicked really hard and my pants fell off!" Because a group of 5 and 6 year olds doing karate can be funny. I knew right away that we would fit in just fine among this crowd.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I will never get tired of watching this movie.

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world.

Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst...

And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain

and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... "

Lester Burnham from American Beauty

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

One small step

Fall is here, hear the yell. Back to school, ring the bell. Brand new shoes, walking blues. Climb the fence, books and pens. I can tell that we are going to be friends. I can tell that we are going to be friends.

Walk with me, Susie Lee. Through the park and by the tree. We will rest upon the ground. And look at all the bugs we found. Safely walk to school without a sound. Safely walk to school without a sound.

Here we are, no one else. We walked to school all by ourselves. There's dirt on our uniforms. From chasing all the ants and worms. We clean up and now it's time to learn. We clean up and now it's time to learn.

We Are Going to be Friends by The White Stripes

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Waldo, You Wonderful Rascal

We got back a few days ago from an 8 day trek from our front door to the front door of Donn's cousins and back again. They live near Phoenix and it was a 27 hour drive, which we broke up over 3 days. I decided the only things I was going to bring for the boys were books and markers and paper, because I like to make things as difficult on myself as possible and I am forcing the boys to love books. If there are no alternatives, a book is 10 times better than a poke in the eye.

The only other entertainment they had was to try to drive each other crazy from their car seats, to throw snacks all over the van, or to look peacefully out the window and enjoy the view (rare!). The Where's Waldo book proved to be the best one and they looked at it for hours at a time. We wound up picking up another in Arizona before our drive back.

The drive went amazingly well for the first two days, but the last day was a bit harrowing. We didn't make very many stops because I wanted to get to Phoenix before it got too late. I had estimated an arrival time between 6-8 PM. We got to Flagstaff (150 miles away) at 7:30 and I called to let them know we were getting close. Later than expected, but not too bad. Suddenly from the back seat I hear Dylann say, "Jack is sticking his gum up his nose!" I look back to see Jack smiling that impish grin with his finger in his nose. Before I can do or say anything, his face transforms to a look of panic and he pulls his finger out with a trembling lip. The gum is gone. I immediately start running through possible scenarios. I have no previous experience with foreign objects lodged in the nostril, so I have nothing to work with. I think maybe he will inhale it and it will go into his trachea and he will choke. Maybe he could snort it in and it would go into his throat and he could swallow it. I pull over and grab the tweezers, open the door, ready to save the day. I could see the gum up there, but couldn't get a good hold of it and suddenly it disappeared completely into the secret tunnels of the nose.

I called my grandma, I called Donn's cousin, Amy, I called the doctor. We decided since he could breathe okay, it would be safe to drive to Phoenix and take him to the hospital there. He fell asleep on the way and when we got there, we found the gum had fallen out onto his shirt while he was asleep! Excellent news, because no one wanted to go sit in an emergency room for four hours waiting for a doctor to stick another foreign object in Jack's nose to remove the first one.

After two relaxing days by the pool at Amy and Robbie's, we were backing out of the driveway in their posh subdivision and waving goodbye. Back on the road. We went by the Grand Canyon, which was amazing of course. It's like standing at the edge of the earth and looking at an alien landscape. Dylann was impressed, but Jack acted like we see giant, awe-inspiring canyons 1 mile deep on a regular basis. Whateva.

We also went by Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico to see 300,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats take flight at sunset. Jack loves bats, so this was the highlight of the trip for him. The bats were very small, about as long as your thumb, with a wing span of about 8 inches. We sat at the mouth of the cave and waited, waited, gasped and held our breath because we heard a noise....then waited, and waited. Everyone had to be still and quiet, so the bats wouldn't be bothered by the fact that they had an audience. That was the tough part for the boys. Then you could hear this rush of wings and they came swirling out of the cave like smoke. It was really peaceful, watching them emerge in the quiet, warm night air. We were not allowed to take pictures, but I have the feeling bats are probably hard to photograph anyway. It's dark and they're fast.

That was our last fun stop on the trip and we headed home. Now it's back to the cool autumn weather here in Minnesota. Summer is over and Dylann starts school Time goes by so fast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Telltale Sign Jack has Turned Four

I had to edit this to say what it is, because it does kind of look like a dead animal. It is the head of a dragon pinata. He's at peace now. No one can beat him with sticks anymore.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So it's been a while...

I neglect this blog from time to time and although I have moments of great intentions for it, I am just going to accept the fact that blog updating as a priority will come and go. I know that can be annoying, but I figure most people understand.

We moved into our new place and things have been a lot better. The boys can be their crazy selves and I don't have to worry about anyone else's sanity but my own. Because this is northern Minnesota, we don't have A/C and here's how we spent our day today:

I have no idea what the temperature got to in the house, but it's hot and sticky. We spent the day within reach of the fan or the little swimming pool. It was a reminder of the weather we left behind in Georgia, except there it was a lot worse. You walk outside and start sweating immediately. It's like the sun is literally beating the crap out of you.

On another note, my two best friends from high school are both pregnant with their first, due within weeks of each other. And my cousins, who were like my brothers growing up, both had babies on the way until about a week ago when the first finally made his appearance.

He weighed a whopping 9 lbs. 1 oz. and he is 100% soft, squishy and adorable. All the new baby googliness has brought up two feelings. The first is that I want another baby!!!!! The second is that I don't want another baby. The good thing is that it is physically impossible for me to reproduce for at least 7 more months (when Donn gets back), so this little conundrum can wait.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jack Speaks and I Laugh

Recent things Jack has said to crack me up:

The cat taught me how to lick myself.

You're hurting my shadow!

I am trying to sleep but when I close my eyes, they keep popping open!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Do Not Attack Issej

This weekend has been exciting, just knowing we're about to move into a new place. It seems strange that we're doing all this without Donn. People must assume that I'm divorced or never married, a young thing struggling to get by with her two illegitmate children. Donn gave me instructions to tell everyone that he would be living there too, but I think people might notice that no man actually materialized on the premises. Really, I have a husband! He lives here with me!! We're a happy family!!!!!! I know he's just worried about our safety (in our dangerous town of 308 farmers and 1 convenience store owner) and I can be irresponsible about those things.

My Grandma gave me the tip that I should put our phone under Donn's name in the phone book, so no one assumes I am a woman living alone, ready to be attacked. Or I could always do what one person I know did and spell my name backwards in the phone book. His name was Don and on the caller ID we were always wondering who the heck Nod was.

I have oodles of help for this move and it's nice! I feel spoiled to have so many people around who are obligated to help me because we're all dangling from the branches of the same family tree. I love it! I can call someone up and say, "Hello cousin (or uncle, second-cousin, biological father, great aunt, not-so-great aunt), have you noticed that our DNA has many similarities? I'm calling to cash in on that."

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Life Neurotic

I keep intending to write a great post and in doing so, I put off writing one until I have an idea that makes me laugh, cry, or scream somewhat severely, or preferably do all three in quick succession, and that great post never comes. Alas, you are stuck here reading my unplanned and poorly pieced together ramble that will probably be about love/life/birth/rebirth/death/loss/coffee/destruction/bodily functions of small children - basically, just a day like any other.

To catch you up to where we are now:

1. Husband flew across the ocean from the swampy, alligator strewn waters of southern Georgia to the dust spewing land in the Middle East, where people are blowing up all over the place.

2. Packed up the children, and two fish, and cat, and crown of thorns plant (who rode comfortably in the passenger seat) to make the trip from nice, temperate Georgia to the icy land known as Minnesota just in time for the lowest temps on record in about 7 years followed by the biggest snowstorm in 15 years...followed by another snowstorm in APRIL. Cheer up you say? Look on the bright side?

3. Husband is still alive. (Dramatic, I know)

4. Son went through various changes to become much more difficult to handle. Simply giving him the wrong color cup could cause him to turn green, bust out of his clothes, and tear the countertop off while shrieking, "MEET MY DEMANDS!!!!! ARRRRGGGG!!!!"

5. Found out husband will not be gone for one year from January, when he left, but he has been extended and will be gone until one year from NOW!

6. Life at Grandma's house didn't go so well and in about a week we are moving into a new apartment, while ALL of our furniture is in storage in Georgia. So far I have managed to gather beds and a kitchen table. The rest I plan to create using cardboard, duct tape, empty toilet paper rolls, saran wrap, and my imagination.

I'm actually really looking forward to moving into an apartment. It's not really an apartment, but more of a duplex. It will be a great area for the boys to play outside and make some friends (that they will hopefully not tie up and beat with sticks). It's kind of in the country, in a really small town with a population of just a few hundred. We'll be only a couple miles from the bike trail that we like to ride on and only about a mile more to the state park where we go "hiking" (as much as you are able to hike with someone who's legs are only about a foot and a half long). The only problem will be the furniture. Need to buy some. Cheap. Or steal some from Grandma.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Bunk Bed Ate My Arm

Last night I spent pretty much my whole evening trying to turn this:

Into this:

Ahh, the joys of cheap furniture with instructions that read like an intercept of alien communications. On the box it said 1 1/2 hours to put it together. Six hours later I curled up on the bottom bunk of my own deathbed, blood blistered, exhausted and missing one arm. Although the arm is actually still there and is currently typing away on this blog post, I am sure that in some other dimension, I am missing my arm. It is so sore and tense and it hates me for the way I used it as a monkey would use a rock to break things open.

So it says that this was a two person job. I always find those things to be debatable. I like to put myself in the shoes of Tom Hanks in Castaway, because I want to see if I can, as many a two year old has proclaimed, "Do it myself!" After constructing both beds, I was met with the task of putting one on top of the other. I tried staring like I imagined an architectural genius might stare, trying to really get some inventive thoughts to hit me. To me, this meant hands on hips and show this hunk of wood what the heck you can do!

Once that was accomplished, I managed to put one end up first, rest it on the lower bunk, then use a chair to rest the other end on, align all the posts, jiggle them into place, pinch my finger horribly, almost break the dowely thingie that holds everything together, scream out the window into the cold, snowy night that I am GOING TO FINISH THIS THING!! Then I headed to bed without putting the ladder or the guard rails on, because enough is enough...or I've had it up to HERE...or I don't even want to look at you right now!...or for the love of God, make the madness stop!

So for today there are a few loose ends to be tied up, but how hard can it be??

Thursday, January 11, 2007

More from Jack...

Me: You look tired.

Jack: (lays his head on the cat) This is my pillow.

Me: That's a soft pillow.

Jack: It has a butt.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Kids are gross (but funny!)

We are here in Minnesota where it is about 10 degrees tonight and the ground is covered in snow, which is quite a change from southern Georgia. The drive was long and horrible and traumatizing for all involved, but we made it here in one, cat, plants, kids...we're all alive. I haven't gotten around to updating the look of this blog yet, but I wanted to share something Jack said the other day. We were sitting around the table and Jack walked over looking like he ate something.

Me: What were you eating?

Jack: Chicken.

(Everyone at the table looks confused, because we didn't have any chicken around...)

Me: Where did you get chicken??

Jack: From the garden in my nose.
(photo by Dylann)