Friday, October 26, 2007

Speechless

Some interesting questions asked of me at work lately. They didn't really leave me speechless but the sarcastic response I wanted to give had to be swallowed in the interest of keeping my job. ;)


"My BLT is only bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Where's the meat?"

"Does your sweet tea have sugar in it?"

"I know it says you only have biscuits and cornbread but could I please have rolls instead?"

And my personal favorite:

"Do your salads come with lettuce?"

Truly, I am amazed that some people remember how to breathe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Object Lesson

Thank you Tricia for this email! =)


I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty
and shabby-looking homeless woman who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner.

I took out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, "If I give you this
money, will you buy wine with it instead of dinner?"

"No, I had to stop drinking years ago", the homeless woman told me.

"Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food?" I asked.

"No, I don't waste time shopping," the homeless woman said.
"I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."

"Will you spend this on a beauty salon instead of food?" I asked.

"Are you NUTS !" replied the homeless woman. " I haven't had my hair done
in 20 years!"

"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you the money.
Instead, I'm going to take you out for dinner with my
husband and me tonight."

The homeless Woman was shocked. "Won't your husband
be furious with you for doing that? I know I'm dirty,
and I probably smell pretty disgusting."

I said, "That's okay. It's important for him to see what a woman looks like
after she has given up shopping, hair appointments, and wine."

This And That

The Last Three Books I've Read:

THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION by Robert Ludlum

THE VOICE OF THE HEART by Chip Dodd

THE BOOK OF PHILLIPIANS from the New Testament


The Last Three Movies I've Watched:

Kingdom of Heaven (yay for Orlando Bloom and a interesting view of the Crusades)

Thirty Days of Night (sheer Velveeta)

Chronicles of Riddick (futuristic fun)


Current Musical Obsessions:

Evanescence

Chris Tomlin

John Catchings - cello


Current Focus:

Being an excellent mom to my boys and surrogate mom to my "adopoted" teenage girls.

Finishing Alexa

Annihilating Mal in our battles at work

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Channeling

This is who I channel while driving my kids...

Lessons Learned

A few lessons my boys learned yesterday:

1. Light sabers and unprotected groins do not a happy camper make.

2. There is only so far you can push a mother with a raging headache before she snaps like a brittle rubber band.

3. Never tickle Starshine when he has a full bladder. Especially if he's sitting on you.

And the most important lesson of all (illustrated with much dramatic screaming by Starshine himself):

4. Do not take an atomic fireball repeatedly out of your mouth and then wipe your eyes with those same, cinnamon-coated fingers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Fellow Captain Jack Fan!

Adventures in Traveling: Part Two

Once divested of my lip-gloss and hand sanitizer, we headed toward our gate, clutching our pre-printed boarding passes in our hands. Nashville is a relatively small airport with few crowds but still, I'm a mother. I want my children to walk RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I refuse to take any chances.

My youngest, Starshine, does not walk, however. He wanders. He dreams. He talks to himself. To strangers. To no one at all. He becomes fascinated by the design on the carpet and walks straight into walls, drinking fountains, and mountains of luggage.

Or, he decides inexplicably that he can no longer walk at all. Why? Because his feet don't work. They've worked well for six and a half years but now, in the middle of BNA, they just refuse to work any longer.

He drags himself slowly toward me, my other two already disappearing around a corner with my hubby. He moans about how long he's already walked.

I am not sympathetic.

I've seen this kid run his feet into the ground for two hours straight at Chuck E. Cheese. Thirty feet of airport floor is no hardship.

I grab his hand and motivate him to move just a little faster by mentioning that if we get to the gate with time to spare, there is food in his immediate future.

It works.

We arrive at the gate and find a crowd. We are flying Southwest and there are no assigned seats, just four boarding groups: pre-boarding, for those with disabilities or cousins who work for the airline, group A, the first of the general boarders privileged to enter the aircraft and hand-pick their seating arrangements, group B, following the footsteps of group A and hoping for the best, and group C who get to strap in next to the one person everyone else managed to avoid.

We are group B.

I size up the lines in both group A and B and arrive at an uncomfortable conclusion: we won't find 5 seats together unless they let families board early. Not finding 5 seats together is not an option, really. None of my boys are old enough to sit on their own and I am way too nuerotic to stay in my seat if I have a child stranded somewhere else on the plane.

Of course, if I put Starshine on his own, the chances of his seatmates voluntarily giving up their seat to me after just three minutes of ceaseless chatter and inumerable bathroom visits is pretty high.

Still, I decide to approach the woman at the counter and ask about early boarding. She smiles sympathetically and informs me that unless my children are under the age of 4, we can't board early.

This is not good news.

Not to worry, she assures me brightly (because she is not the one facing a crowded 4 hour flight with three boys to worry about), if we have trouble, a flight attendant will sort the whole thing out.

I cling to this sliver of reassurance as the plane begins to board.

My hubby enters first, followed by my oldest and youngest. I have my middle child firmly in hand, discouraging all attempts to ride in unattended wheel chairs, spit gum at the windows, or lock himself into the cockpit.

As we pass the first three rows of seats, I notice a man wearing a turban, seated by the aisle. My hubby and other two boys have already maneuvered to the middle of the plane, vainly searching for seats. There are people pressing in behind us. In front of us. Standing in the aisle dithering about which of their group gets the window or the aisle. My middle child has given up his attempt to enter the cockpit and notices the man in the turban as well.

"Hey," he says to me, "is that Satan?"

I don't know where this question comes from. I've never seen an artistic rendition of Satan wearing a white turban and I'm deeply grateful that the man had his back turned to us and that we were already past him when my son chose to speak up.

It turns out my son is an excellent judge of character.

We follow my hubby to the end of the plane where it becomes clear that seating has become a free-for-all. Group B is grabbing anything they can get. Group C will apparently be stowed with the carry-on bags.

I see two seats together a few rows from the back and shove my middle child into the row. My hubby and our other two are now on their own, seeking three seats together in a plane where only single seats are left, and those are few and far between.

My hubby heads back to the front of the plane, children in tow, and alerts the flight attendant to his situation. She gets on the loudspeaker and announces that a family of three needs seats together and the airline will buy free drinks for any passengers who give up their seats.

No one moves.

I take a moment to mentally slap the bubbly woman behind the check-in counter.

The flight attendant makes another announcement.

This time, the two people seated beside the man in the turban, volunteer to give up their seats. They move to another area of the plane and now it is turban-man's turn.

There is an empty seat directly behind him, on the aisle. He could move back one row and solve the whole dilemma. He could do it to be decent. He could do it for the free drinks. He could do it to ease the terror on my children's faces as they contemplate flying without the immediate comforting presence of their father beside them.

He won't.

He stares straight ahead and says, "This is MY seat. I will not move."

The flight attendant tries again. It's just one seat back. He is obstinate and won't do it.

Satan indeed.

Finally, the two people in the row behind him move forward so my family can get settled.

My hubby seats my oldest beside the window, himself in the middle, and Starshine behind turban-man.

This, as it turns out, was a stroke of brilliance on his part.

Meanwhile, I'm in the back with my middle child who is pressed against the window, hoping that the plane will take off as fast as a rocket and that, even though I've assured him we can't reach outer space on Southwest, for once, I might be wrong.

I text my hubby to ask him if they are ok, to remind him that he has ALL of the carry-on bags with him so I have no food, no toys, and no ipod to use for entertaining our middle child.

He says he'll send Starshine once we're in the air and to turn off my cell phone.

A few weeks ago, my hubby bought me a new cell phone and, surprisingly enough, I've kept it charged the whole time, never once turning it off.

I start pushing buttons, holding down keys. Nothing works. I quickly realize that I don't know how to turn my phone off. The flight attendant sees me and briskly tells me that I must turn off my phone NOW. I tell her I'm working on it. And I do. I try everything I can think of but the phone will not cooperate.

The flight attendant is on her way back down the aisle to check on my compliance. The nice older lady beside me is watching with avid interest as I tell her my hubby is the only one who knows how to turn off my phone and he's at the front of the plane.

Finally, in desperation, I turn my phone to silent and stuff it into my purse. We rush down the runway, my middle child laughing hyseterically as the G forces flatten us to our seats, and lunge into the air.

I am suddenly struck with terror.

Why did I have to turn off my cell phone? Does the signal interfere with the plane somehow? Am I going to singlehandedly crash our flight because I don't know how to turn off a cell phone? Who doesn't know how to turn off a cell phone? I'm going to go down in history as the great idiot of our time. After Al Gore, of course.

We don't crash. No one comes to haul me out of my chair and castigate me for sheer ignorance. Instead, Starshine bounds by, tossing me my ipod and his brother's journal while making his way to the bathroom.

It is soon clear that Starshine and my middle child placed a bet before flying. The wager was simple: See who can make the most visits to the bathroom on a four hour flight.

Starshine won.

This was actually a triumph for our whole family because turban-man was seated in front of him and every time Starshine got out of his seat - to use the restroom, to visit me, to wipe crumbs from his lap - he grabbed the top of the seat in front of him and used it as leverage to haul himself up.

My hubby noticed the first few times that whenever Starshine did this, turban-man's head would jerk back against the seat. He paid more attention the next time Starshine made a visit to the bathroom and realized that in the act of grabbing the seat top, Starshine was also grabbing the turban and anchoring the man's head to his seat.

This seemed just.

Turban-man turned to glare at my hubby after yet another excursion by Starshine and my hubby smiled and said, "It's your seat. You aren't moving."

The rest of the flight was uneventful and when we taxied onto the runway in San Diego for our connecting flight, the flight attendant began the usual end-of-flight spiel and spiced it up with the best line I've ever heard on an airplane:

"Ladies and gentleman, be careful when opening the overhead bins because let's face it, shift happens."

More on our adventures in traveling soon...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Adventures in Traveling: Part One

Recently, my family and I embarked on the arduous (and somewhat expensive) trip from Nashville to California to visit my family. It was an interesting trip - both fun and...well, interesting.

Day One:

Mal takes us to the airport, driving our '94 Dodge Caravan for the first time in his life. Since we arrived with all windows firmly intact, the hood ornament still flopping in place, and the transmission agreeably shifting gears when needed, I counted the journey a success.

Mal was busy bemoaning the fact that he neglected to bring a wig and hat to wear in case someone recognized him behind the wheel. He thinks it's bad for his cop image to be seen driving an ancient, paint-peeled-off, hood-ornament-flapping minivan with visible car seats.

I think driving the occasional minivan is good for a man's soul.

Mal insisted that he will never, NEVER, own a minivan. My hubby and I laughed over that one. Give it ten years, we said. We'll be hitching a ride in your crumb-coated, crayon-decorated, rancid-sippy-cup-of-milk-hiding-in-the-tiny-crevice-between-the-car-seat-and-the-wall minivan.

Wait and see.

My kids have flown before, but they barely remember. It's been four years since we moved from California. My oldest thinks he hated the whole thing. My middle child thinks it only took an hour. My youngest remembers crashing in a fiery ball of doom.

I assure them they are all wrong.

I myself hate to fly. There is something inherently wrong with strapping oneself in besides hords of strangers who don't always pay attention to personal hygiene or personal space and hurtling 39,000 feet up into the air with only canned water and a bag of peanuts as consolation. And don't even get me started on the "turn-around-too-fast-and-knock-yourself-silly" bathrooms. If we have the technology to use jet-powered toilet flushing with suction strong enough to yank your eye teeth out through your patoot, surely we can figure out how to add five more inches to the lavatory to minimize the risk of head trauma in the event of sudden turbulence.

However, as much as I hate to fly, I hate the thought of driving 3000 miles cross-country with three caged boys even more so I disguised my anxiety, refused to take my usual dramamine (one needs ALL of one's mental acuteness to be razor sharp if one is to deal with three boys on a four hour flight), and pretended like flying was no big deal.

I hit a small snag at security. We'd yanked our electronic equipment out of our carry-ons - 2 cell phones, 1 game boy, 2 i pods, 1 digital camera, and a portable dvd player - stripped off shoes and jackets, and piled all of our belongings onto the conveyor.

No one set off the metal detector for which I was greatly relieved. I do the laundry around here. I know the kind of strange objects one finds in my children's pockets. I really didn't want to have to explain to the nice Amazon woman with the body-cavity probe why my youngest had scissors in his pocket, my middle child had a box cutter and my oldest had loops of piano wire.

Fortunately, all pockets were clear. My hubby, shaved head non-withstanding, set off no alarms and appeared non-threatening to all airport personnel.

I was another matter.

My purse sailed through on the conveyor belt and failed to come out the other side.

Amazon woman yelled for a bag check.

A man with some sort of badge pinned to his chest appeared out of nowhere and snatched my purse, locked eyes with me, and asked me to step to the side with him for a bag search.

I remained outwardly calm while inside I was racing through the contents of my purse, trying to think of what could be in there and what kind of explanation I could give.

Nail clippers? Nope, packed those.

Nail file? No, just a basic, flimsy emory board. To my knowledge, no one has ever died because of an emory board.

Scissors? A valid question considering the items my youngest routinely brings out of the house.

(Picture us in the middle of the grocery store. My youngest interrupts his constant stream of chatter with "Mom, can I cut out this picture?" The question penetrates my "if-I-just-focus-for-ten-more-minutes-I-can-be-out-of-here" haze and I turn to find him brandishing a pair of scissors - my scissors - at a box of graham crackers. I snatch the scissors away, ask him why on earth would he have scissors in the grocery store and roll my eyes when he says, "just in case I felt creative." One more reason to shop alone.)

The man digs through to the bottom of my purse (no easy feat, I assure you) and brings out the dangerous items in question...

Three lip glosses and a half-used container of Freesia-scented hand sanitizer.

"You can't have these." He says to me.

I want to say "You can't have them either. Those aren't your colors."

Instead, I say, "Really?"

"Unless you want to go back out, pack them into zip lock bags, and come through the line again." He says to me.

Hmmmmm.

So, the lip gloss is dangerous but if it's contained in a plastic bag, it becomes safe? Couldn't I just open the bag? And anyway, where am I going to get zip lock bags now?

I smile at the man, showing all of my teeth, and say, "keep them".

I'm irritated with myself for not realizing that lip gloss and hand sanitizer are on the "no-no" list.

There is a "no-no" list. I read through the entire thing with some amazement the day before we left. I can bring nail clippers now, and blunt nail scissors, but meat cleavers, power saws, and bottle rockets are not allowed. Neither are bayonets, harpoons, and cannons. Understandable, though in such close quarters, perhaps not the brightest choice of weaponry.

But who brings a power saw on an airplane? Where are you going to plug it in to do any damage? Are these items listed because of previously experienced threats or are they just covering bases for all contingencies?

The last item on the list was my favorite.

No snowglobes.

Say what?

I told my husband that snowglobes were now considered weapons and he donned his best Austin Powers British accent and said,

"Honestly, who throws a snowglobe?"

More on our travels soon...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Writing Contest

I entered my first novel, DYING TO REMEMBER, in amazon.com's Breaththrough Novel Contest today (thank you Anna for the heads-up!).

The winner gets a publishing contract with Penguin, a $25,000 advance, and tons of publicity on Amazon. The semi-finalists get to negotiate with Penguin for sales of their manuscripts too (though they can also take their MS elsewhere if an agreement can't be reached in 30 days).

The semi-finalists will be announced in a couple of months and then it gets interesting. An excerpt from each of the semi-finalists will be posted on amazon for customers to rate and review. Each semi-finalist will also get a full critique from Publisher's House. The exerpts with the highest ratings and reviews go to NYC for an awards banquet where one of them gets the grand prize.

Soooo, IF I am chosen as a semi-finalist, I will put the word out to my online community and ask all of you to get all of your friends and all of their friends and all of their friends....you get the idea....to hop over to Amazon and give me a rating and a critique!!

More info as I get it! =)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Weekend Highlights

1. The Titans squeezed out a last minute victory over the Falcons and TSU spanked Florida so my hubby was happy and incidents of road rage and shooting up a neighbor's fence/pick-up/barn were down all across middle Tennessee.

2. The class of 3 year olds we teach on Sunday mornings includes a beautiful Chinese girl named Isabel and she decided to spent most of the morning cuddled up to me. =)

3. Kelly had a wonderful birthday.

4. My youngest wandered out of the house Sunday afternoon looking completely normal and returned moments later with a smear of what looked like white paint across his forehead. When asked what it was and how it got there, he looked vaguely confused and said, "I don't know. Nothing happened." And that was all the explanation we ever got. Did I mention we call him Starshine?

5. My hubby had a great week at work and several positive things are happening for him there. Since he is the most talented man I know, I'm thrilled to see his company value him for the incredibly hard-working, creative man I know him to be!

6. Mal and Kelly went on a double date with my hubby and me Sunday night. Yay for friends who thinks it's fun to wander Barnes and Nobles for an hour and half!

7. I bought the coolest book. It's called MEDIEVAL FOLKLORE: A GUIDE TO MYTHS, LEGENDS, TALES, BELIEFS, AND CUSTOMS. It's organized like an encyclopedia and I'm so excited to dive into it!

8. Mal bought books on Karate, Judo, and something vaguely unpronounceable (ngyonging? maybe? that's my guess...) and promised to practice them on me. He'd better bring his A game.

9. One of my teenage surrogate daughters (and our regular babysitter) now has a cell phone on our plan and has sent literally THOUSANDS of texts in one week. You have to just admire the girl's ability to find so many things to say.

10. I overhead my oldest coaching his brothers on what to do if they are ever confronted with a bad man holding a gun. It went something along the lines of, "run away and I'll stand in front of him and take the bullet for you. I'd rather die than have you die." Yes, I got choked up over that one. Then I thanked him for his bravery and told him to plan on running too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Kelly!

Today is Mal's fiancee's birthday. Last night my hubby and I took the cake he made for her and some presents and showed up at her job to celebrate the life of a beautiful, generous, warm-hearted girl who lights up every room she enters.

What woman doesn't love handbags? My hubby made a gorgeous Louis Vitton.






Isn't she gorgeous? Even in our ugly Cracker Barrel uniforms! =)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

That's Going To Leave A Mark...

Yesterday, my hubby and I went to a firing range with Mal. My hubby was raised around guns but this was my first time actually holding one, much less learning how to fire one. My hubby claimed that firing guns would be right up my alley.

We used a 9mm. I learned how to load the clip, how to chamber a bullet, and how to sight down the barrel.

My first attempt wasn't great. If my target had been a man, he would have been missing his knees.

My second attempt would have scraped his elbow and maybe parted his hair a bit and I would have had to ask him to pause for five minutes while I figured out how to reload.

I had a hard time chambering the first bullet (that slide on the top of the gun is tough to move). I was all over the place with my aim. And I nearly shoved a clip backwards into Mal's gun which, had I succeeded, might have ended our friendship. ;)

Shooting became more than just a new experience. It became a challenge and I NEVER back down from a challenge. I was determined that by the end of the day, I would be able to quickly load, cock, and rapidly empty a gun into the center of my target.

Meanwhile, Mal was emptying clips one after the other and blowing his target to pieces and my hubby was doing the same. At one point I was standing behind my hubby to watch him shoot and a shell casing flew behind him and went right down the front of my shirt.

That's the kind of choreographed teamwork 12 1/2 years of marriage will give you. =)

My hubby watched me get ready for my third attempt and realized that, while I'm right handed, I was using my left eye to aim and was standing with my right foot forward.

He informed me that I had it completely backwards in every way.

Hmm...

I adjusted my stance, yanked the slide back, sighted down the barrel, and hit a bulls-eye. My second shot was accurate too. I decided to just empty the clip, one after the other, as fast as I could. When my clip was empty, I reloaded and emptied the second clip just as rapidly.

The men around me were watching me with a strange mixture of awe and trepidation.

I retrieved my target and examined it. 20 bullets. 17 hits. 16 in the body mass. 1 head shot.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

Turns out my hubby was right. =)

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