Monday, August 31, 2009

Random Monday-ness



1. I have a feeling today's list will be far more random than usual.

2. This is because I have no idea what I'm going to say.

3. Er ... type.

4. Whatever.

5. I started reading Tessa Dare's GODDESS OF THE HUNT (historical romance) last night while waiting for the last load of laundry to dry.

6. I adore this book. Love it. Am crazy about it.

7. Tessa is a debut author and I'm already such a huge fan I promise to buy her next two books without even glancing at the blurb on the back.

8. Why do I love it so much?

9. Voice. She's got it. In spades.

10. There's a MOTH in my stairwell.

11. That would be the stairwell INSIDE my house.

12. Tinks is on the job but the moth stubbornly refuses to come down to her level.

13. It's much more comfortable terrorizing me at my eye level.

14. I'm going to have to slink by it to get up to my bedroom so I can prepare for my job interview.

15. If you're the praying kind, please pray that I get this job.

16. The pay and hours are just right for us.

17. I finished up the query workshop yesterday.

18. It was fun and the participants felt they got their money's worth.

19. Some are even ready to sign up again for the next one (held in October).

20. Since breaking his arm, Starshine has gone to karate class twice (and participated!), raced around a friend's yard brandishing a nerf gun, entered a blow-up jump house (though his friend quickly convinced him to leave...not for his safety, but because if he jumps around and smacks kids with his cast there'd be a lot of screaming), and ridden a horse.

21. I've learned to just shut my eyes and walk away.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Google Me This, Google Me That

Once again, it's time to see what interesting search terms brought another slew of hapless readers to this blog.

1. Words other than first next then last: Stupendous. Mellifluous. Calibrate. Hornswaggle. Flibberty-gibbet. Onomatopoeia. Loiter (which rhymes with goiter and really disturbs me). Need more? Hie thyself to the nearest dictionary forthwith!

2. How to make tighty-whitey tank top: Listen to me very carefully. The wisdom I'm about to impart is priceless. Really. You'll want to write this guiding principle down: Underwear of any persuasion is never to used as a shirt. Put down the tighty-whiteys and back away.

3. Snorting mucinex: A disproportionate number of you land on this blog searching for this topic. I'm not sure I can help. While it's true that in the course of ill-advised bouts of laughter I've snorted my fair share of items (milk, mashed potatoes, root beer, and even, sadly, chicken nuggets), I've never actually snorted mucinex.

4. Reasons llamas are cool: They spart. Really. They spit at their opponents from either end. Spit + Fart = Spart. Stand too close to the business end of a llama and you'll be sparted upon, my friend. You know that's cool.

5. Goat eyeballs: They're disturbing, aren't they? Nothing says I'm-going-to-mindlessly-munch-on-your-brains like horizontal pupils watching you with a slightly vacant expression. I'm telling you, they're zombies.

6. This is a job for an imbecile: And that led you here? I'm not entirely sure how to take that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Starshine Becomes Ironman

Clearly, it's been a while since I blogged. Some of that is due to a busy month and using my usual blogging time to run my online query workshop. This week, I've been absent because up until yesterday, I was staying with Starshine at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

On Monday night, at around 8 p.m., Clint and I heard a thump and then ear-splitting screams from upstairs. The kind of screams that every parent knows signal something is really wrong.

I got upstairs first and found Starshine lying on the floor at the top of the stairs, his right arm stretched out in front of him. I took one look at his arm and thought, "That isn't the right shape" followed quickly by "Is that bone poking out of his skin?"

We spent the next several minutes keeping him calm while we called our pediatrician to see if we should try to move him or if we should call 911. (It should be noted that I had to take a 1 min break to splash cold water on my face so I wouldn't pass out or vomit. I then splashed cold water on Starshine's face to keep him conscious as his face turned gray and his eyes kept rolling into the back of his head.) The pediatrician said call 911 and so we called and then asked a friend to come over to stay with our other children. The paramedics arrived with sirens (thus ensuring maximum neighborhood audience for our exit from the house) and it took four of them 20 minutes to stabilize his arm enough to get him on a stretcher.

I rode in the ambulance next to him (trying desperately not to get car sick because we soooo did not need that at the moment). Clint met us there. The rest of Monday evening was spent in the emergency room while Starshine was given an i.v. of morphine and other painkillers, taken to get x-rays, and then sedated for the first attempt to re-set his bones.

Yes, bones. The x-rays showed he'd completely snapped both bones in his forearm. One snapped and went through his skin. The other snapped and slid on top of itself. And all of this happened because he decided it would be fun to stand on top of his brother's rolling desk chair and jump. The chair slid out from underneath him and he landed with his right arm fully extended, palm flat on the floor.

And yes, he broke his writing arm. But I digress.

We'd arrived at the E.R. at around 9 p.m. They tried to set his bone at around midnight. He was under heavy sedation and thankfully doesn't remember a thing. After the re-set, they took more x-rays, called a pediatric orthopedic specialist, and began studying the break. At 3:20 a.m., the doctor informed us that Starshine needed surgery in the morning to insert rods in his bones and to irrigate the tissue broken by the bone to lessen the risk of infection.

Clint left for home, arriving at 4 a.m. to send our amazing friend Derreck back to his house (where he had to get up and do a full day of work in two hours!). After grabbing an hour and a half of sleep, he got our other boys up and ready for school and returned to the hospital. I stayed with Starshine, tried to nap in a chair --not an easy thing to do when both of Starshine's arms were immobilized (he had the i.v. in the elbow of his left arm) and the morphine made the skin on his face itch, and went with him to the surgery prep area where a nice doctor explained to me that Starshine needed two long titanium nails to "shish-ka-bob" both of his bones from wrist to elbow.

Clint made it back to the hospital minutes before they took Starshine back to surgery. We said goodbye, said a prayer, and then headed out to a waiting room full of other worried parents.

The surgery went well and they kept Starshine another night to manage his pain with morphine and give him three strong doses of anti-biotic. Paul came up to stay with him for a couple of hours so I could go home, get a shower, and take my toothbrush back with me to spend a second night in the hospital. We brought the other boys with us and other friends brought us pizza for dinner.

I hoped to get caught up on some sleep that second night because Starshine had a private room and there was a couch for me to use but his pain was difficult to manage. Once we finally had him settled in and sleeping, I crashed only to wake up four hours later to hear the CRN call the nurse to help her because Starshine wasn't getting enough oxygen in his blood.

Few statements can bring an exhausted mother straight out of her sleep and onto her feet like that one. We spent 45 minutes re-positioning him to open his airways and re-medicating him, and then the nurse took out his i.v. since it was kinked. By the time they left, I was awake.

I stayed awake until around 5:30 in the morning and then crashed again only to be awakened an hour later by the doctor coming in to check on him and release him to go home that day. He asked me several questions but at that point, I'd had about seven hours of sleep in two days and while I realized sounds were coming out of his mouth, none of them resolved themselves into coherent words. I think he finally realized I was too exhausted to comprehend anything and told the nurse to return when Clint was there to give us our final instructions.

Poor Starshine was such a trooper. After the initial break, he didn't cry or scream, though he certainly was in enough pain to warrant it. He has to wear a full arm cast for the next month and then a partial cast for another 2-3 weeks. In 4-6 months, he has to have out-patient surgery to remove the titanium rods which is a shame because he's sort of excited to be turning into Ironman.

I slept hard last night but already feel completely exhausted again. It's going to take a few nights of unbroken sleep for me to be back to normal again. I appreciate everyone who brought dinner (Littrels, McEntires, Mike) and everyone who sent prayers and well-wishes for him.

And I have to note that the staff at Vanderbilt took excellent care of us. I'm nothing but impressed with the staff and the facility. If you have to take your child to a hospital, that's definitely the one to choose.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vacation Day Two: In Which C.J. Discovers The True Meaning of The Word "Putrescence"



1. We spent the night in a nice little hotel about 20 miles from Holiday World.

2. We drove to the hotel at night but even in the dark, the town seemed charming. Quiet.

3. Safe.

4. In the morning, we woke up, got ready, opened our ground-level room's door, looked directly across the street and saw that our charming little hotel was parked smack dab in front of the county jail.

5. A jail with a gaggle of motorcycles clustered out front--proof that a gang of hardened criminals were currently visiting one of their nefarious cohorts and probably planning their next assault upon humanity.

6. I didn't get too worked up about it, though, because a closer examination showed that instead of Harley's, they were those silly little Honda scooters.

7. What kind of respectable bike gang rides scooters?

8. Retired Riot? Geriatric Gang-bangers? 4:00 Buffet or Bust?

9. We returned to Holiday World to hit our favorite rides again, and everything was going well until three un-related facts collided to cause one major moment in my life.

10. Fact One: I decided to stay with the Scientist while my hubby took Daredevil and Starshine to make their hourly contribution to the local restroom.

11. Fact Two: We decided to forgo sitting on a bench like normal people and thought it would be better to hike up a grassy area to stand in the shade of a tree--despite the fact that the tree was also the preferred hangout zone for various insect of the flying variety.

12. Fact Three: My mouth is rarely closed.

13. I stood there, in the shade, talking to the Scientist about one thing or another, waiting for the return of the rest of the family.

14. The Scientist asked me a question.

15. I opened my mouth to answer.

16. A ladybug flew straight into my teeth.

17. Straight into my teeth.

18. My somewhat tardy self-preservation instincts kicked in the second that bug hit my front teeth and I clamped my lips down around the lower half of its body, thereby ensuring it did not finish it's suicidal charge down the back of my throat.

19. You might not know this--I certainly didn't--but ladybugs are equipped with a horribly nasty no-good very bad something they excrete when they feel threatened.

20. That horribly nasty no-good very bad something coated my lips in the .03 milliseconds it took for my brain to scream the "Spit it out!" command and my mouth to obey.

21. The ladybug hit the ground, fluttered it's wings a bit, and went on about it's dastardly business.

22. I was left gagging and spitting, trying unsuccessfully to rid my mouth of the horribly nasty no-good very bad something that tasted (I discovered when my tongue, showing a dismaying lack of good sense, flicked over my lips) like a combination of jalapeno peppers, motor oil, and Lysol.

23. The Scientist (also showing a dismaying lack of good sense) was laughing himself breathless rather than doing something useful like fetching me a free Pepsi, a napkin, or, at the very least, offering to find a Brillo pad I could use to scrub my lips from my face.

24. When Clint and the boys returned from the bathroom, the Scientist wasted no time telling them of my misadventure.

25. The boys laughed.

26. Clint would've joined them had I not threatened to kiss him within an inch of his life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vacation Day One: In Which C.J. Loses Her Ever-Loving Mind



Vacation Highlights, Day One:

1. The road trip was pretty smooth.

2. Or it would have been had I remembered rule #1 in the Mother's Guide To Keeping Her Sanity On Long Journeys With Boys: Always make sure every child has used the restroom BEFORE leaving.

3. Especially since boys will not only wait until the last possible moment of bladder capacity to alert you to the situation, they will actively seek to drive you insane by volunteering to hang their business out the window and pee while you drive.

4. I don't know if I've mentioned before on this blog that I have a serious bridge phobia.

5. I literally go into full panic attack mode when we approach a large bridge.

6. We had to cross one bridge to get to our first destination (Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana). My helpful hubby, noticing my distress, patted my hand and said, "Don't look at the bridge. Focus on the nuclear reactor over there instead."

7. Hmm. Worry about drowning to death in a car or think about radiation poisoning and giant mushroom clouds of doom? Such choices.

8. Of course, it wasn't a nuclear reactor. Just a factory with huge twin smoke stacks belching copious amounts of steam into the morning sky. I wasn't fooled. I went back to worrying about drowning.

9. Holiday World is a fantastic amusement park for the whole family. Cheap ticket prices (as far as amusement parks go), incredibly clean park, tons of rides for every age group, a huge water park (no purchasing separate tickets to use it either!), free sunscreen, affordable food, and free drinks all day long.

10. We hit all our favorite rides. The Scientist drove the jalopies and rammed strangers into walls on the bumper cars. Starshine rode the swings (and screamed the entire time that he was Superman). Daredevil and I rode a roller coaster called the Raven.

11. Yes, the title was based on Poe's poem. The little speaker boxes along the ride's line informed us of that fact and then cleverly intoned that we would ride it Nevermore.

12. I was very disturbed that people all around me were wondering aloud what "Nevermore" had to do with "Raven".

13. It was in line for the Raven that I realized I was an idiot.

14. Or seriously lacking in whatever area of the brain stores useful information like Wear Clothes In Public and especially Wear Clothes That Don't Have Holes In Them In Public.

15. You remember me mentioning a little trip to Starshine's karate class a couple of weeks ago where I realized after the fact that my capri yoga pants had a hole in the posterior region?

16. I didn't throw them away because they make excellent pajama pants. At least, that was my reasoning at the time.

17. So there I was, standing in line for the Raven, when it occurred to me that I was wearing those very pants.

18. I'd packed in a hurry, grabbed what was clean, and there you have it.

19. Luckily, in preparation for the water park, I was wearing a bathing suit underneath so no one was the wiser.

20. And no, I still haven't thrown them out. But I'm hopeful the knowledge that they are NOT to be worn in public has finally sunk in.

21. We had a blast in the water park, went on other rides, and then I lost my mind.

22. Really.

23. Oh, you thought that ship had already sailed but you were mistaken. It was docked and ready to go, but until last Monday, it hadn't officially left.

24. Holiday World has a coaster called The Voyage (pictured above). It's the second tallest coaster in the world.

25. In the world.

26. And I decided I had to ride it.

27. Not surprisingly, none of my family would accompany me.

28. I stood in line, strapped myself down, began the journey up the chain lift...

29. And since it's the second tallest coaster in the world, I had plenty of time to think about the ramifications of my (I now realized) rash decision.

30. I began chanting "Holy Crap, what have I done?" in my head and since it's the second tallest coaster in the world, had plenty of time to chant that multiple times before the coaster of death finally saw fit to fling me over the top and plunge me 185 feet toward the ground.

31. I don't mind drops. In fact, that's what I love about coasters.

32. This one plunged me up and down, wrenched me side to side, and then went underground and plunged me up and down in pitch darkness only to spit me back out for more wrenching side to side.

33. I was going so fast, I lost track of where I was in relation to the ground, the sky, and the people I flew by.

34. Oh look, that rhymed.

35. When the ride came to an abrupt halt (no easing us back into the starting gate for this coaster!), the teenage boy behind me informed his father he was probably going to puke.

36. My stomach sympathized with his plight.

37. I hauled myself off the coaster, gave walking in a fairly straight line my best shot, and limped my way back to my family where my hubby was eagerly recounting my misadventure on Twitter.

38. And so ended Day One.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shiver - A Twitter Conversation



The fact that I loved Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER is no secret. I loved it so much, I wanted to re-read it the moment I reached The End. I loved it so much, I stalked teenagers in the YA section of my local bookstore and told them that this was the book they just had to buy.

Don't make me stalk you too.

Maggie agreed to guest blog for me so here is SHIVER, as told by three main characters. On Twitter. You know you love it. (For the non-Twitter crowed, Twitter is a continuous stream of conversation. RT stands for "re-tweet". When a character has a hashtag (#) followed by a word/phrase after their tweet, they're filing that tweet under a certain topic. Sometimes the topic actually exists. Often it's simply a way to get your point across or interject humor.)



SHIVER: a Twitter conversation by the characters



GraceBrisbane: Grace Brisbane
EmoWolf90: Sam Roth
TheHottestCulpeper: Isabel Culpeper





GraceBrisbane: we’re supposed to talk about what SHIVER is about. tinyurl

EmoWolf90: i think i like this version RT @ChickLitTeens: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater http://twurl.nl/ovazm5

TheHottestCulpeper: in our words. that’s the whole point. you are supposed to follow instructions. you’re an idiot. #comprehensionFAIL

EmoWolf90: ok, isabel! man oh man. it’s about a yellow-eyed boy who has to become a wolf each winter.

GraceBrisbane: that would be you. and a girl who is attacked by the wolves.

EmoWolf90: a beautiful girl

GraceBrisbane: in case anyone didn’t catch that RT @EmoWolf90 a beautiful girl. that would be me.

TheHottestCulpeper: spare me the sentimentality.

GraceBrisbane: and this girl who is saved from certain death by a yellow-eyed wolf.

EmoWolf90: you should’ve said ‘a BEAUTIFUL yellow-eyed wolf’

GraceBrisbane: all wolves are beautiful. you’re beautiful when you’re a boy. but i don’t know that until a lot later.

EmoWolf90: years later. when i get shot and end up on your doorstep. ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’

TheHottestCulpeper: can we stay on the point here? #getaroom

GraceBrisbane: lol. of course i had to fall in love with you. because you were cute, and a wolf

TheHottestCulpeper: and because he knew a lot of very emo poetry

EmoWolf90: Rilke is not always emo. he’s my favorite. “all angels are terrifying” #rilke

TheHottestCulpeper: right, that’s cheery stuff. #emoboypoetry

GraceBrisbane: i think it’s sweet.

TheHottestCulpeper: moving on . .

EmoWolf90: anyway, we fall in love. actually, grace, i had fallen in love with you a long time before then. i guess it was a crush.

GraceBrisbane: ditto. only you were a wolf. is that creepy?

TheHottestCulpeper: definitely. #toomuchnaturelove

Grace Brisbane: i don’t think you’re using those hash tags right, isabel.

TheHottestCulpeper: trust me, my specialty is rules. there is no right way to use hash tags. unless it’s for something like #americanidol #justintimberlake #obama

EmoWolf90: i think i hate twitter.

GraceBrisbane: twitter is definitely not your thing, sam.. anyway, after we fall in love, i find out that sam becomes a wolf each winter. #wiggingout

EmoWolf90: which i hate. i only want to be human. i have so much i want to do in life.

TheHottestCulpeper: like emoboypoetry.

EmoWolf90: . . .

TheHottestCulpeper: you guys forgot to mention that my brother was bitten by the wolves. & that leads to #angermanagementproblems

GraceBrisbane: i didn’t forget. your brother is a huge problem. but there’s a bigger one. what sam doesn’t tell me right away is that

GraceBrisbane: ...he gets fewer and fewer months every year as a human until one year he will just stay a wolf. and that this is his last year.

EmoWolf90: “I have studied the Science of departures, in night’s sorrows, when a woman’s hair falls down..” #mandelstam

GraceBrisbane: and so now i only have him until the winter steals him from me. and then he’s gone for good.

EmoWolf90: and then i will not only lose grace but everything that she loves about me and everything that makes me sam.

GraceBrisbane: unless we find a cure.

EmoWolf90: i don’t think there is a cure, grace.

GraceBrisbane: there has to be a cure.

TheHottestCulpeper: RT @mstiefvater find out if there is a cure. read the book. buy it at amazon http://tinyurl.com/m37rdt or at an indie http://www.indiebound.org/

GraceBrisbane: find out more about the author at http://www.maggiestiefvater.com

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Riding the Big Air Rail--No Matter What



Last night, I curled up on the couch with my three boys and watched a brand new skateboarding event in the X Games. The event, called the Big Air Rail Jam, was the brain-child of skateboarding veteran Danny Way who was the oldest skater in the competition at 35 (Which by the way, sassy ESPN commentators, is not that old). The goal of the event was to start at the top of a ridiculously high ramp (see pic) and then launch into the air, do some sort of trick on top of a long rail, and land on the opposite ramp while still in one piece.

The kicker? The skaters couldn't see the rail until they were already flying off the first ramp. The event required faith in their skills and some serious courage.

Danny Way won the gold medal in the event, a feat made even more amazing by the fact that he was competing while on crutches.

Crutches.

He'd torn something in his knee and then seriously rolled his ankle on the same leg during a warm up trick yet he stood, balanced on his skateboard at the top of that long drop, confident and determined. He rode down the ramp innumerable times, missing the rail, landing in a heap, struggling to stand on one good leg only to hop to the side and rush toward the elevator that would carry him up to the top to try it all over again.

It didn't occur to him to quit. To bow out. To say, after four unsuccessful tries, that he just couldn't do it. Instead, he got back on his board, faced that long drop to the unknown, and went for it.

He landed one trick. One. But it was a thing of incredible beauty. That one trick gained a score high enough to give him the gold.

When interviewed afterwards and asked how he could compete when he couldn't even walk, Danny said, "It was my dream. Some people look at things and say 'It can't be done.' I look at things and say 'What if?'"

What if?

What if you balanced on the edge of your dream, unable to see the rail, but went for it anyway? What if you failed the first four (hundred) times you tried but you still ran back to the start and tried again? What if you ignored every excuse, every reason to quit, and refused to back down?

What if?

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