Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I don't really like coffee. Okay. Fine. I hate it. I don't even drink mochas. But I recently decided to start a coffee training regimen. Today, I had three mochas to stay awake as I drove. And I couldn't even taste an aftertaste by the middle of the second one. I think it's time to up the ante. Coffee tomorrow morning? Yeah, probably not. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

9 Things

Facebook is social media. It is all about knowing each other. I know a lot of people are irritated by Facebook memes. There were many people who detested the giraffe meme. (I'm not gonna change my picture just because someone says I got the answer to a question wrong. Besides, I disagree with the answer!) I don't understand the irritation. If you don't want to participate, don't. If you don't want to change your picture, don't. What's the big deal? I skip memes I'm not interested in, and jump whole heartedly into those I like. And, when I particularly like the meme, and I'm hard up for a blog post for NaBloPoMo, I'll let Facebook memes bleed over into blog land. I mean, what could be better than a detested Facebook meme making it into another part of the internet? So, today I present to you the (random number) of things you may not know about me. I do love to talk about me, after all.

1. I *love* the song "Blurred Lines" because it describes me perfectly as a teenager, that good girl who wanted to be bad. (Yes, I am aware of how many people think this is demeaning to women. I am who I am and this song speaks to me.)

2. I wanted to have a gaggle of children, at least 12. But we stopped, and sometime last year, I stopped wanting to have more children. I still have that urge occasionally, usually when I'm around very small children and babies. Which leads me to the admission that I like newborns better than any other age out there, adults included.

3. I desperately wanted to be black when I was a child. Those afros and that beautiful skin. No, really black, not tan. I wanted to be ebony.

4. When I was in the Navy, I had three nicknames- Bourbon (because it was a shortened version of my maiden name), Smiley (even people who'd never met me before called me this, ex gate guards), and Jerry (Because they said I looked like I had a jerry curl because my hair was so kinky and always wet.)

5. I have 3 tattoos. I got them all when I was 18, half a lifetime ago (literally). I do not regret any of them. They all have deep meaning for me. I want more. In fact, I plan to get more next year, at least two. All the tattoos I currently have are not visible if I am wearing pants or a skirt. The next two will be visible unless I'm wearing gloves and pants.

6. I want to sell all my worldly possessions (except maybe my knitting needles, paint supplies, and computer) and travel the world. On a similar note,  I love to be barefoot, and would prefer to spend the rest of my life in a tropical setting in order to facilitate this love.

7. I have dyed my hair blue, bright red, auburn, and black. I haven't been blonde since I was 8 and my hair got a tan. (I remember looking in the mirror and thinking my hair had achieved a great tan, better even than my skin, that summer.)

8. I have been writing since I was a kid, mostly horrible poetry and love songs, yet my spelling is still so awful that the computer frequently has no idea what word I'm trying to spell. Last week, I was trying to spell a word. I spelled it probably 10 different ways, and the computer could never figure out what I was trying to spell. Most of the time it had "no suggestions." Later that day, Gary sent me a blog post that contained that word. Really, Gary? You're such a show off with your spelling and Scrabble skills. It is really sad how abysmal my spelling is. I have a fantastic vocabulary, and I can't play Scrabble to save my life.

9. Since I left home at the age of 17, I have lived in seven states, Washington D.C., and Greece. Of all those places, I cannot think of one where I would not live again. But the world is so incredibly big, and there are so many places to explore and people to meet that it would be difficult to move back to one of those places I've already been.

Play along in the comments! Tell me about yourself. I'd love to get to know you better.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

When Religion Hurts

I had planned a lighthearted post for today, but something happened tonight that changed my mind. Some things need to be said.

Our family has struggled to find our place in the homeschool community in a part of the country where the majority of homeschoolers are Christians who don't want us to participate in their activities. This summer, a couple other moms and I set about putting together a teen group for secular homeschoolers. This doesn't mean there aren't any Christians in our group. Rather, religion is not central to the group.

Tonight, while those teens were off being themselves, religion got brought up. It doesn't matter how it happened. I am of the strong personal opinion that teenagers should be able to discuss religion.

However, there is a right and a wrong way to discuss religion. Any way that hurts another person is the wrong way to discuss religion. Let me repeat this. Any way that hurts another person is the wrong way to discuss religion.

My children have some pretty strong views about religion. Unfortunately, those views have mostly been formed because of pain inflicted on them by religious people, which means those views are very negative. I refuse to allow my children to speak in a hurtful way about religious people for two reasons. First, not all religious people are like those who have hurt them, not even those of the same religion. Second, when you get in a habit of speaking poorly about someone or something, you will eventually hurt someone, even unintentionally, because you will speak poorly about that person or thing in the presence of someone who can be hurt by your speech.

I do not know exactly what was said. I do know that at least some offhand remarks were made that were hurtful to one of the few Christians in the room. And this leads to my point. There is a wrong and a right way to talk about religion. First, both parties must be fully in agreement that the discussion should be taking place. Second, both parties must always be respectful of the other's beliefs, or disbeliefs. Third, at no point should derogatory comments be made.

Religion is deeply personal. It is something that transcends all other aspects of life. Even for those of us with no religion, it is a deeply held, personal disbelief system. And being disrespectful about someone's religious beliefs is not okay, no matter what their religious beliefs are.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meanwhile, Over in La La Land

Many things were said today that I never thought to hear come from my sometimes prudish children. I'm going to share three with you, because, well... I've been sick, and they made me smile. Warning- some not so great language is involved.

"Bugger off... please." Oh yes, the please makes it all better. And, really, where did my child learn that phrase? British television perhaps?

"That's bad ass." While this is one of my favorite phrases, I've never heard one of my children say it. Apparently, it is a phrase this particular child uses on a regular basis, just not in my hearing. Since my rule about cursing for my children has always been that they may curse so long as they understand when it is okay to curse, I am okay with this. After all, this particular child was in the middle of a D&D game, his first since GenCon. Of course everything was bad ass.

"I think they just take vacations every once in a while to hook up." This from my most prudish child, when asked how the Amazons perpetuated their race.

I'm almost positive I'm not high on meds, but quite frankly, I'm not sure. These could all have been figments of my imagination. After all, not only am I on sinus medication, but I've been drinking espresso. The two together, I'm sure, have given me a bit of a high. Combine all that with the giddiness my children felt when I told them they were going to be playing D&D, and you've got a lethal combination.

To top it off, on the way home, one of my children said very slowly, "Buuullll Shark." Well, okay then. Apparently, he was actually talking about sharks, but the way he said it, I thought something else was coming out of his mouth. Well, wouldn't you, considering the rest of my day?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Importance of a Good Education

Two things shaped my views of education while I was growing up.

1) I grew up with a father who was interested in everything. He never graduated from college, but he took classes the entire time I was growing up. He didn't always take those classes to increase his earning potential. Sometimes, he took them because he wanted to learn. Certainly, he figured out a way to get the fire department to pay for them, but if we're being completely honest, he was really just taking the classes because he wanted to take them.

And he liked to discuss things. Everything. We talked about all sorts of things when I was growing up, history, science, literature, politics, philosophy, current events, religion, you name it, we talked about it. I grew up in a family that valued education for education's sake.

2) I read a lot of Louis L'Amour when I was growing up. Two of his books had a huge impact on my educational philosophy, The Walking Drum and The Lonesome Gods. In both these books, the main character engages in providing himself with an education by reading, discussion, and debate. In fact, despite the fact that both these books are about warriors, education is a primary pursuit of the main characters. Louis L'Amour always made education part of his books, even if it was just an offhand mention of how a cowboy could only carry one book in his saddle bags, so books were valuable in the west.

Then, today, I heard someone on the radio say, "Why does an electrical engineer need to know the history of Europe." I almost ran off the road. I wanted to call that radio station and answer his question, but I couldn't because I was driving, so I'm going to answer it here.

You need to know the history of Europe because Europe is a part of this earth. We all need to know the history of the world we live in. The history of a people and culture shapes the society and the way the people in that society think to this very day. It is this knowledge that allows us to further our world in ways that can only benefit all of us.

But why, you ask, do I need to know this if I'm not going to be a diplomat? The answer is simple. We need an informed electorate. If we do not know our history, if we ignore science, if we sublimate our awareness of current events, if we do not care about our neighbors, be they local or on the other side of the world, we cannot make informed decisions about our elected representatives. And our world desperately needs us to make informed decisions.

I wish that we valued education for education's sake more. We have an entire culture built on the idea that the only thing worth pursuing is a career. We no longer pursue ideas, rather only money. We are living a life based on subsistence, never reaching beyond the mental stimulation needed to learn more. It is frustrating to me that I have to search far to find people who want to have those deep discussions. I am lucky that I have friends who are willing to learn, grow, and discuss. We need a people, and entire population passionate about the world around them. And that, my friend, is why we all of us need to know history, science, literature, current events, and philosophy. Keep learning. Keep growing, until you find something you can be passionate about. Then, come back and argue with me about it. Chances are, I'll be passionate with you.

Monday, November 18, 2013


One of the things that we had to do rising through the ranks toward black belt was define victory. Over the last few years, my definition of victory has changed. There for a while, it was not dropping any potatoes in the trash can while peeling them. I've gotten pretty good at that.

Then, it changed to getting through a class without having a breathing episode. Once I realized that there was something wrong that I couldn't fix, victory changed to figuring out what was wrong.

This month, victory has been defined by staying on top of my word count for NaNoWriMo. I mean, I have crawled out of bed and written first thing in the morning every day except Saturday, when, as Gabriel put it, I had a man cold.

I have to admit that I am a horrible, horrible patient. I put that man cold to good use though, and gave the heroine in my story a man cold.

I am 18 days into NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, and I have written and blogged every day. I would say that I'm a sucker for punishment, but I've actually managed to marginally stay on top of my other obligations at the same time.

How are you defining victory these days?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thirteen Years

Fourteen years ago, your father and I were in love with this little boy, this amazing little boy who was our entire world. And we looked at him and thought, "Gosh. Wouldn't it be great to have another kid just like him?" And so we did. But, you were nothing like him!

You came out with a head full of black hair, and skin dark red. You looked just like Papa, and you had a mind of your own. You put yourself on a schedule within two weeks of being born.

From the day you were born, you confused me. Your brother had been easy to please. Pop a boob in his mouth and he was good to go. You, well, you wanted to nurse to eat then go about your way. It was confusing because you still wanted to suck. You required a pacifier. And so you had one. I suspect that even at the ripe old age of 2 days, you didn't have time to have your face pressed against another person's body. You needed to see what was going on.

Your first word was 'Gabriel' and I was so disappointed. But of course it was. You were just as in love with your older brother as we were. You followed him everywhere. You quickly realized that if he wasn't paying attention to you, a quick bop on the back of the head would have him chasing you, and you took full advantage of that ability.

When you were 2.5, I made a realization that was not a happy one at the time. You react differently to medicines than the rest of humanity. Oh yes, all those things that cause me to go to sleep immediately, send you racing around the house like a mad man.

Shortly after that, I gave birth to your baby. You acted like Dominic was the best gift I'd ever given you. The look of awe on your face when you saw him still makes me tear up every time I see the pictures.

When you were 3, you had an invisible motorcycle. We know you modified it because it was loud. You definitely took that muffler off. One night, while I was nursing your baby, I told you it was time for bed, and you should park your motorcycle. I can still picture your little blonde head as you ran around the nursery and said, "Oh no! Something's wrong. My brakes must be out. But, don't worry, Mom! I installed a parachute in case of something like this." Then, you pushed your emergency parachute button and said, "Oh no! It's not deploying! Something's wrong! I can't make it stop."

You were an excellent driver at the age of 3. Our next door neighbors had one of those little motorized Jeeps. It was a two person vehicle, and really made for older kids. Your feet could barely touch the pedals, but those girls loved you and put you right in the driver's seat when you wanted to get there. You could parallel park that thing within moments of pressing on the pedal for the first time. And your love of speed was born in that moment.

When you were 5, you went to kindergarten. You had a love/hate relationship with school. You loved being with the other kids, but detested school. When you got home each day, you would spend 2 hours literally bouncing off the walls. You would run back and forth in the living room bouncing from one wall to the other until you'd burned off all your excess energy. Then you would have a peanut butter sandwich. I'm pretty sure you ate about 1,000 peanut butter sandwiches that year.

You have always loved helping. You helped Pepère stack wood, Dad cut wood, and you hammered nails into that deck like there was no tomorrow. You're still helping. You put more time into the floor than anyone other than Dad.

When we went to Florida for the first time in 2008, you found a love for board games, especially Monopoly. I'm not sure how many times we played while we were there, but I can only be thankful for the next door neighbor who gave us the game. You now have multiple Monopoly games, and have found an everlasting love of all board games.

I'm not sure how old you were when you discovered Google, but it has been a love affair ever since. I remember getting up in the middle of the night after we'd all gone to bed to find you sitting in front of the computer looking things up. You would have gone to bed, thought of a question, and gotten up to discuss it with your best friend. You used to tell me that Google was your best friend. You certainly spent enough time with Google to make that true.

You started watching Doctor Who, what? two years ago, last year? This love affair has been much stronger than your romance with Google. After all, there is swag to be had with Doctor Who. There are friends to be made that share your passion. You are a Whovian of the first order. And it has been so fun to watch your passion for all things Who grow. Within months of watching your first episode of Doctor Who, your closet door was painted blue, and you had changed your wardrobe to include only things from Doctor Who.

But in August, something happened. You got swept into a world that is stronger than any other I have found. You started playing Dungeons & Dragons. That Saturday of GenCon, you sat down to play your first game, and didn't get back up from the table without coercion until we had to go home Sunday. Had our hotel been connected to the gaming center, I imagine you would have spent most of the night at the tables. You were the first one in line Sunday morning to play, and one of the last to leave Sunday afternoon. That's not to say that your Doctor Who passion has lessened, just that you've added another passion to it.

This brings me to what I love most about you. You are passionate about everything. You are stubborn, loving, and most of all, passionate. I love the way you throw yourself full tilt at everything you try. There is no halfway for you. You're in or out, and usually, you're in. I love that passion. Hang onto it, my son, and happy 13th birthday! We're so lucky to have you in our lives!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

To the Boy Next Door

I woke up with a sore throat this morning, and I've spent the day lazing about my bed slipping in and out of sleep. All day I've heard you singing. And it's reminded me not to be grouchy at my children  for their laughter that has woken me up when I've least wanted to be awake.

Your family moved into the house next door 11 months ago. Within the first month, they had built a tall fence to keep you from leaving the yard, and a swing set to keep you happy. And every day, rain or shine, snow or heat, I hear your song.

We had such high hopes when the moving truck pulled into the driveway that there would be friends moving in next door. You see, you and your brother are the only children my children's age on the street. When you came next door to swing on our swing, we quickly learned that you were non-verbal. When you came into our home and left again without us even knowing, we learned that you needed protection. And every day, I hear your song.

Some days, I sit on my front porch and lecture my children for some irritant, usually their choice to not do their chores. We work and toil in the heat to clear the weeds. We laugh and cry. We are a family. And every day, I hear your song.

Sometimes, when I hear your song, I am thankful that I do not have the struggles that your parents do, that I can speak to my children, and have to speak to me. But most of the time, I am just thankful that I get the chance to experience the joy that you bring to my day. The joy that swinging so obviously brings you. I am thankful that you have parents that send you outside to swing in the dark before the bus comes in the morning. I am thankful that when I wake up, the first thing I get to hear is your joy. And every day I hear your song.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When I Became a Hippie

The summer after my 13th birthday, we moved to Walterville, a tiny town outside Springfield, Oregon. We lived there for a pivotal 9 months of my youth before we moved back to Oklahoma. It was pivotal because I was introduced to a different subset of American society. Oh yes, I was introduced to hippies.

My cousin is allergic to cow's milk and was drinking soy milk long before it was cool. Because of this, he shopped at this tiny store in the hills outside Springfield. I remember going there to get milk for Jack. The store was run by a hippie couple and was the beginning of my dream of living off the grid. That's not to say they were living off the grid, but they were definitely counter culture, following their own dreams. 

I met a couple homeschooling their daughters who had built their own house from trees they cut down off their land. And that was the beginning of me wanting to build my own house. I mean, how can a person not  want to build their own house?

But, the most significant thing that happened was going to a school where the teachers told stories about the '60s and '70s, the students were children of hippies, and the culture was both intellectual and flower child. One of my teachers told stories about students running and dancing naked in the rain on the school grounds, high on LSD. 

My biology teacher introduced me to environmentalism in a way that all the rhetoric of the environmental movement could not. He introduced me to biology, our impact on our environment from a scientific point of view. It was not about global warming. It was about our immediate impact on our environment. And it stuck. His lecture on the impact of clear cut logging on rivers sticks with me to this day. It was especially powerful because one of my good friend's father was a logger and the logging industry was in a huge fight over the spotted owl.

But, I think the reason this time in Oregon had the biggest impact on me was because of how involved the students were. Here was a group of teenagers that cared about the political scene. That fight over the spotted owl was fought in classes and the cafeteria. My friends and I made signs and stood outside the fence at lunchtime protesting the first Iraq war. (What? You didn't realize I was a peacenik?) The students truly believed they could make a difference, that their opinions mattered. And that was the only place I lived where that was true.

I moved back to Oklahoma and the schools were not the same. Students were not engaged in the story of the world. But I was forever changed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ripping the Bandage Off

I'm a rip the bandage off sort of person. When I joined the Navy, I walked into the recruiter's station less than a week before I left for boot camp. I married Gary less than 6 months after meeting him (not that marrying Gary was difficult or painful, just quick). I decided to homeschool less than a month before we began homeschooling. I moved out of my parents house on a whim. It doesn't take me long to make a decision. I play games at the speed of light. If it were only people like me playing Risk, we would finish the game in under an hour.

Gabriel is the exact opposite. He is ponderous in his decision making. He looks at every angle of an equation. And driving has been a difficult decision for him to make. It's a decision he didn't want to make. Today, I told him we were ripping that bandage off. Sometimes, a mom just has to help her child do something she knows he should.

And can I just say that it is painful that my baby is old enough to drive? Painful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday

I have been doing a lot of writing, but sometimes I get stuck and my brain needs a break. During those times, I knit. So far this month, I've made five hats, and started working on a blanket and a shawl. Then, today, I put both those projects aside because I was writing a Christmas scene in my book, and decided I wanted to make myself a Christmas blanket. I am trying very hard to use up yarn out of my stash for two reasons. One is that buying yarn gets expensive. I should totally use what I already have, don't you think? The second is that we want to sell our house next year, and move to a smaller place. It's time to downsize my craft supplies. I'm considering selling some of my supplies. Stay tuned for info on that if I decide to. I am definitely going to be giving away some of my romance books. That'll be fun.
Rainbow Shawl

Squishy Blanket

Squishy Christmas Blanket

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Homeschooling Ambassador

This is a post I wrote last year. I am republishing it because it needs to be said again. Homeschooling is not for everyone at all times, but it is right for us right now. I am thankful that we are able to homeschool, and I hope that I always will be.

Several times each year, I get asked questions by people I know, or barely know, about homeschooling. They want to know my opinion. They want advice. They want me to help them along the path of homeschooling.

And every single time, I want to say, "Run away. Run away!" It's not that I don't like homeschooling. I do. I love homeschooling. Except when I don't. When I don't love homeschooling, I hate it.

Being a stay-at-home mom is very different from being a homeschool mom, at least for me. For example, if my children were in school, I could do my housework, then weave, knit, paint, sleep, blog. I miss being able to do my grocery shopping during the day. I wouldn't be solely responsible for the outcome of their education. Were they in school, I could blame the school system on anything that went wrong with their education. Ah, the bliss of being able to blame others for results you don't like!

But here's the deal. Those are all selfish reasons for not wanting to homeschool. I have just as many selfish reasons for enjoying homeschooling. I get to spend time with my kids, time I would not have with them otherwise. I don't have to help my kids with homework (shudder). I know exactly what my children are learning. I know when my children are struggling and when they're excelling. If we want to take a vacation at an odd time of year and avoid the crowds, we can. I don't have to advocate for my child with anyone but myself.

Homeschooling isn't all roses and ice cream for the students, either. You have to be with your mom all. Day. Long. If that weren't enough, your mom knows exactly what you're doing all the time! It can be harder to make friends since you're not consistently with other children. There's no competitiveness like there is in school. (This was from Gabriel, who apparently feels the need to compete with other students.) The parents and children will be together all the time, which can be detrimental to their relationship if they get in an argument. (Again from Gabriel.) You're with your family more often.

On the other side of the fence, homeschooling is wicked good. You get to stay at home during the day. You get to be with your family more often. You get to pet your cat. You can learn as fast or as slow as you need to. You have some freedom with what you can do for school. Although there are the basics that homeschoolers have to do, they can choose what they want to add on. You can set an end goal as to what you want to accomplish at the end of the year, then go about it the way that works best for you. Some students respond to more structure, others respond best to less structure, and you can find what works for your student. (This portion of the post was written by Gabriel.) The child has the opportunity to learn so much more than they would in school. After all, they aren't weighed down with things they've already learned, discipline problems, and rules that seem odd to them. If they have to have a late night out, they can sleep later the next day without it interfering with their learning. They can truly learn instead of memorizing a bunch of facts to spit out on a test. They don't have to worry about standardized tests. Oh, the pressure of those standardized tests. But, that's a completely separate post.

Let's face it. The benefits my children and family get from homeschooling far outweigh the cons. There's very little chance of me wanting to stop homeschooling. But, if you catch me in the middle of wanting to do mom stuff instead of teacher stuff, or me stuff instead of kid stuff, or agonizing over lack of friendships for my children, you won't get the homeschool ambassador. Come back the next day and you might get to talk to the ambassador instead of the guard.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

I didn't grow up in a military family. I find it mildly humorous how many of my friends did. I didn't grow up in a military family, but I did.

Certainly, I thought I was grown when I joined the Navy at the ripe old age of 17. Little did I know how much growing I had left to do. And I grew up in a military family, just not one made up of my blood relatives.

My older brother joined the Army at the age of 17, before he finished high school. I joined the Navy less than a year after I graduated from high school. And my younger brother joined the Marines when he was 17.

Between the time I left for boot camp at the age of 17, and was discharged from the Navy at the age of 20, I had lived in three states, and one country. I had a Med Cruise under my belt, with visits to three different countries, a scare from pirates, and multiple runs from Spain to off the coast of Africa to refuel ships supporting the evacuation of the Libyan embassy. I had been raped, and devastated by the betrayal of friends. I had fallen in love and gotten married. And I still had not finished growing up.

In the 16 years since I left the Navy, I've been a military wife for all but 2 months. It has been awful and it has been glorious, and I do not regret even a moment of my life with the military. I've made more friends than I can possibly count, and learned so much about the character of the people who server our military, and the people who support them in the background.

Over the last 16 years, we've moved 9 times. Twice, we had a baby less than a week old. Once, I was hugely pregnant. Each time we moved close to military personnel, we were overwhelmed with support, frequently from people we'd never even met. When we moved on base, people saw the truck and came over to help unload it. Just like that. Because the military is a family, and I grew up in it.

Last month, my oldest child learned what it truly means to be part of the greater military family. I sent him away for a week, and while away he stayed for a night with a woman we mostly know from the internet. We've only actually met her once. We met through the military blogging community. She's moved 3 times since I moved here. Her husband is deployed; she has four young children; her parents were in town. Yet, even with all that going on, when I asked her to take care of my son while he was in town, she said, "Of course."

This is the family I've grown up in. A family that has each others' backs, not just on the field of war, but on the home front as well. Today, I am thankful for my military family. I am thankful for all the veterans, for the soldiers serving to protect our country at this very moment. And I am thankful that I got to be a part of it all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Frustration

My heart is pumping
Faster and faster.
My hands cover my face.
My hair is wild from pulling.
Chores are getting done.
Because I'm stuck.

My book is giving
Me fit after fit.
The words are not flowing.
The frustration is mounting.
Words on paper.
That's my goal.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo & NaBloPoMo Update

We are a full 9 days into NaNoWriMo. Up until yesterday, I had written consistently every day. Yesterday, I packed up my child and headed to my writing place to write.

I've been writing at Starbucks because I felt the need to have a place that signaled to my brain that I was doing something different. It's worked well, and yesterday should have been no different. Sadly, I walked into Starbucks and the whole store had been changed. Who does that to a person?

Starbucks quickly made it into my story, with an entire chapter devoted to my main character's dislike of change. But, I only wrote a few lines of that chapter before I started having an allergic reaction to something I had eaten. I quickly took some Benadryl to counteract the reaction, and that was the end of my writing. Really, it was the end of my day.

I managed to get us home and was asleep before my head hit my pillow. I only slept a short time, but was sleepy and unable to focus the rest of the day. I only got about 500 words written.

Today, I woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. So, I wrote. I got about 500 words written before I started getting sleepy. I went back to sleep for another hour. Since then, I've gotten another 2000 words written, completely making up for the words I missed yesterday.

I'm now setting a goal about 1000 words higher than I had before. I'd like some play in my schedule later in the month.

I'm also thinking I need to preschedule a few blog posts in case something like yesterday happens again.

Oh, and I know I said I wouldn't be making a hat every day, but I've come close. I've found that taking writing breaks to knit for a while helps me think. And those hats are going fast.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Group Project

An out of town family member had a birthday and asked for a blanket for his birthday. This request was made after his birthday. I knew he just wanted me to buy him a blanket and send it to him, but that's not how I work. You can't make a request like that one and expect to get something from the store. I went through my fabric and found a large enough piece of black fleece to make him a blanket. We all sat down together and made him a blanket.

periodic table blanket

Since we were in a hurry, and the blanket needed to be compactable, we didn't make him a quilt. Instead, we just sewed squares of fabric on top of the fleece blanket we'd made. We included a few extra elements, including Bubblegumium, OneUpium, and Adimantium. I'm quite happy with how well this quick project turned out.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Whoverse

I used to live in the Shire. Now, though, I'm almost certain I live in the Whoverse.

Signs that we are living in the Whoverse include this picture that showed up on my Facebook wall courtesy of one of my children.
My apologies to the originator of this picture. I do not know who you are. I do know that this picture came to me by way of Doctor Who and the T.A.R.D.I.S on Facebook.

Never mind the fact that same child will go nowhere without some Doctor Who accouterment, be it this hat, a shirt, an awesome pair of knee high TARDIS socks, or just his red converse all stars. This particular child likes to show his fanboy status in his footwear.

No, the proof is that my children regularly speak like daleks, speak of Rory and Amy as though they're their best friends, and make up rules about dating that include women having to know that Peter Capaldi plays the 12th Doctor in the 'documentary' about the timelord known as the Doctor, not the 4th Doctor. Also, anyone who accidentally refers to the Doctor as "Doctor Who" is instantly kicked out of the discussion.

They're making plans for a tour of England based on Doctor Who. Oh yes, my children are making plans to travel all over England, only visiting places the Doctor has visited on screen.

Finally, the most damning evidence is that today, while at a production of Hamlet, when the players were asking the students questions about Shakespeare, my children knew many of the answers because they had seen an episode of Doctor Who that included Shakespeare. Oh yes, we know many things thanks to the Doctor's travels. If only he could teach us Algebra.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Wisdom of the Young

Last night, as Dominic was putting on his dance shoes, a little boy asked him if he was going to dance. When Dominic replied in the affirmative, the little boys said, "Boys don't dance!"

Dominic immediately replied, "This boy does," and went about his business putting on his shoes.

The little boy said, "But boys don't dance. I don't dance."

To which Dominic said, "Some boys dance, and some don't. If a boy wants to dance, the boy dances. If a boy doesn't want to dance, he doesn't dance."

The little boy sat there for a while, nodded, then was off to play with his sister. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the person my son is becoming.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Let's All Be Nicer

One of the kindest little boys I know
I am sitting at Starbucks, and there are four boys, aging in range from about 8 to 12 sitting at the table beside me. I'm guessing they're all brothers. Their mom is there too. The youngest was drinking water, and the mom made him give the cup of water to his older brother to share. Everyone else in the party except these two have drinks that cost money. This is a free cup of water.

The youngest boy quietly tells his mom that he needs his own water. He can't share his water.

The mom responds, "Just share the water. You can share the water."

He whispers, "I can't share the water. It has fingernails in it now. He eats his fingernails. He swallows them. Now they're in the water. Can I have my own water?"

You can hear the anguish in his voice. The real pain at the thought of drinking after his brother.

His mom says, "You can share. Stop exaggerating."

"I can't," says the boy, tears starting in his eyes.

Never has he whined. Never has he gotten loud enough for anyone else to hear. The only reason I can hear him is because he is right beside me.

The mom looks at him and says, "You're not very nice. You're really kind of mean. You're going to have to wait until we get home now."

Today, as you interact with the people in your life, please take a moment to ask yourself if you're misreading the situation. Perhaps they really can't drink that water.

And let's do the world a favor today, people. Do something nice for someone. If everyone was kind to one person that they don't like every day, the world would be a better place.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Gary blogs:

I heard a comment the other day that forced me to stop and take stock of the ramifications. I had just finished a good conversation with an acquaintance and as I was leaving he said “thanks for taking the time to talk to me”. I smiled and thanked him, but the accolade floored me. I continued to contemplate that moment throughout the rest of the day and it continued to defy all reasoning. The questions circulated through my consciousness were many but the one that kept rising to the top was this: “Have we fallen so far as a culture that having conversations have become the exception rather than the norm”? It is 2013 and we are more connected than ever before. The internet has ushered in an era of communications that allow people instant access to one another virtually anywhere on the planet. Yet, does this technology enhance our ability to communicate or does it leave us more isolated?

Our stack of electronics during our Camp at Home week.
Today, conversations consist of a 1 -2 line Twitter or Facebook post. It is not unheard of for people living under the same roof to text one another from one end of the house to the other, sometimes even within the same room. Yet as much as we are willing to reach out and engage in Facebook conversations with strangers, we are more leery of talking to people in public, let alone have conversations.

Humans are by nature social creatures. There is a completely different feeling when conversing over the internet versus conversing in person. Talking remotely allows a measure of security and anonymity not afforded to us when we interact face to face. The result is that people feel bolder when having a conversation remotely. They say things through a keyboard that they would never consider saying to another human face to face. Arguments are easier when you can erase and re-write your talking points before someone else can see them. You can also have some amazing discussions with people around the world. But the sense of intimacy and impact of talking to someone remotely just isn’t there. Things like body language, and non-verbal communication, pitch and tone don’t come into play over a keyboard. Try having a discussion or debate face to face and you immediately feel the difference. 
Moreover, have a conversation with someone that relies on technology to communicate and you will notice a distinct difference in the way they communicate over someone that interacts with people face to face on a consistent basis. They have a hard time looking you in the eye, their conversation is very disjointed almost to the point of being forced and they’re fidgety. We are literally at war within our own bodies. Our social nature is in direct conflict with our recent need to rely on remote communications and it becomes visible when those that aren’t used to communicating are forced to.

Technology has given us the ability to reach out and communicate with loved ones and total strangers alike across the planet. But it should never be a replacement for human interaction. So go out and have a conversation with someone today, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.   

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Freestyle Parenting

Gabriel was whisked away to the NICU within moments of being born. I had a fever and was not allowed inside the NICU. For the next 24 hours, I only saw my son once, through the window of the NICU. Gary pushed my wheelchair over to the NICU and I stood up to look through the window at my baby. They couldn't hold him up, since he was hooked up to all sorts of machines, with a tube coming out of his head. The hospital discharged me before I had a chance to truly see my son. For the next week, we drove back and forth to the hospital, 30 minutes away, to see our son, feed our son, and hold our son. Each feeding, the nurse would weigh Gabriel, then I would nurse him. If he had not gotten enough liquid, as verified by weighing him again after the nursing, Gary would feed him a bottle of formula. This was humorous, since Gabriel didn't like formula. He would suck it right out of that bottle, and spit it out the other side of his mouth. Gary was perpetually covered in formula. But, Gabriel would suck down that whole bottle, which was all that was required. They never did weigh him again after the bottles. You see, he had to have a certain amount of fluids, or they would put him back on an IV, and we wanted to prevent that if at all possible. he's already pulled them out of everywhere they'd put them except his head. He still had the port in his head, and we were looking to keep them from having to hook it back up.

You would think that initial experience in parenting would have made me more protective of my children. Perhaps it did the opposite. I don't know. I've always been a very laid back parent. Don't get me wrong. I attachment parented. I wore all of my babies in slings and backpacks. I nursed each of my children for at least 18 mos, and Gabriel for 2 1/2 years. I instituted a buddy policy with my children almost from day one. But, I did allow them to do things with a buddy that there are parents who still won't let their children do even with another adult.

Gabriel flew as an unaccompanied minor for the first time when he was 7 years old. We put him on the plane on one end, and his beloved grandparents retrieved him from the plane on the other end. When he was 8, we added his younger brother. And when he was 11, he took both brothers to Maine with him. But, he's always flown as an unaccompanied minor. You know, put them on the plane on one end and pick them up at the gate at the other end. No plane switches. No worries.

Our kids have never flown to my mom's house because, although it is closer than the other grandparents' house, there have never been direct flights they can take. Well, now two of our children are old enough to fly as regular humans. No more unaccompanied minor status for them. This meant that I could put Xavier on a plane and send him to my mom's house to visit for a week. So, I did.

2 1/2 weeks ago, I took my 12 year old son to the airport and sat at the gate with him, waiting for his flight to board. He got on it and flew to another airport, where he quickly found his next flight, and flew to Tulsa to see my mom. There, instead of being met at the gate, he made his way off the plane and through the airport to find my mom. A week later, he took pictures of places in the Chicago airport that he thought were funny and sent them to me. He was completely comfortable with flying by this time.

Four days after I left Xavier at the airport, I took Gabriel to the airport. Gabriel is 16, and I did not accompany him through security. He got stuck in security because he had taken a jar of peanut butter with him. Oops. He barely made his flight. Talk about starting the day off tense. He had a long day of dominoes to knock down, and taking one of them out of place could have thrown everything else off.

Gabriel flew into Reagan National Airport, where he took the Metro to Union Station, boarded a Greyhound bus to Charlottesville, Va. In Charlottesville, Gabriel found the grocery store to replace the peanut butter security at the airport had stolen. Then, he took a taxi to Montpelier, where he spent a week digging in the dirt with strangers. 

Well, this wonderful, totally on the ball, mom got his departure date wrong. Instead of him leaving on Saturday, as he was supposed to, I got his tickets for Sunday. Oops. When I realized this, I immediately reached out to friends and family to see if he could stay the night with one of them Saturday night. None of my family was available, but a bloggy buddy, someone we've only actually met once for a couple hours 6 years ago said he could crash on her couch.

Gabriel, being the wonderful, independent young man that he is, didn't even blink. He took the bus back to DC, and spent the day wondering around the monuments. When he got tired, he called Stina and let her know he was on his way. He took the Metro to the closest station to her house, where he was picked up and take to her house. There, he slept on what he claims is the most comfortable couch he's ever had the privilege of knowing, and arose bright and early the next morning so that she could drop him off at the Metro on her way to Mass. He spent the day at the Natural History Museum before taking himself to the airport, checking himself in, and coming home to me.

The week Gabriel was gone, parents kept asking me how I could let him go by himself. How did I have such an independent child? How was I handling him being gone, especially since he's not great at communicating?

Here's the answer to all those things. I parent by the seat of my pants. I have allowed my children freedom and independence since they were very young. I make decisions based on what is needed and wanted by our family, not what is normal or status quo. Frequently, my decisions go against the grain of present society. Maybe it's because I grew up on a steady diet of Louis Lamour and Little House on the Prairie books. I had and still have the firm conviction that children can do things, real things. Maybe I was allowed that same independence and that influenced me. After all, my parents allowed me to drive 4 hours away to a place I'd never been, with my younger brother, a couple months after I got my drivers license at 16, and I joined the Navy when I was 17.

I think the real answer is how could I not let him do this? I never set out to raise a child. I am raising a man, and he's quickly turning into one, a man I can be proud of. Or, perhaps we just have a bit of the Took clan in us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Other Crazy Things I Like to Do

I am a lover of crazy ideas. Jump out of an airplane? Would love to. Make all Christmas gifts the month before Christmas? Sounds like fun. Go without eating out for a year? Sounds impossible, but I'm on board. Have 12 children? One of my dreams. Write a novel in a month? Right up my alley. Blog every day for a month during the same month? Of course. Knit a hat every day for a month that very same month? Ummmm, I think we're going a little too far now.

I did make all three of these hats in the last week, because snow!

A couple weeks ago, I woke up from a very intense dream with a novel fully created in my head. We won't go into what Albus Dumbledore and Yoda have to say about dwelling on dreams (are they really just the same person?). My novel is going to be fantastic! Best novel ever written. It'll probably win awards, things like the "Kristina actually finished a novel" award, and the "Wow. She actually did it" award. Yup. I'll win accolades the world over.

And I'm going to have fun doing it, too. Perhaps I'll share some of it with you. Perhaps you'll join me? If you're participating in NaNoWriMo this month, please let me know. I am, of course, Bourbon Girl on NaNoWriMo.

Oh, and that NaBloPoMo thing? Ummm, did you see that I'm writing a novel this month? I have extracted promises of blog posts from all three of my children. Is that cheating? I call it collaborating. Maybe I can get Gary to blog a little for me. I have a couple posts I need to finish up, that have been waiting patiently for me to hit publish. So get ready for a whirlwind month of creativity.

Because you know what? Once you start writing, the ideas start invading your brain. And sometimes, a body just can't sleep because the ideas won't shut up, which means you must put them on paper, or in this case the internets. Louis Lamour said, "Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." Excellent advice to start off a month of writing.


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