My little bit of Grown Up Land

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It’s Been a While.

It’s been a while since I posted here.  I’m not sure why.  I think it’s mostly because the life of a writer, teacher, mom, and grad student has gotten more insane than I can imagine.  Oh well.  I almost took this site down, but then I looked back through some of the photos here and decided to leave it alone.  I like them and hope some of you do too.

My husband and I took our littlest monkey on a walk in downtown Franklin yesterday.  We went with the intent of taking pictures.  If you have spent any time hanging out on the Sanity Ship, you have likely noticed the gallery of photos from Franklin.  I thought I might add a few to it but nothing compared to what I already had.  I was blessed that day with great light and not many people so frankly, I didn’t find much else I wanted to shoot.  It was a nice walk all the same, though.    Sometimes, you have to try to outdo yourself to realize how well you did it the first time.

You Can’t Make This Up

You can’t make this stuff up, people.  Here is how my might went.

Background information:  We only have one car.  I drive my husband to work and pick him up each day so I can get to work in this one car.  Not really important, but part of the details, he had to be there at 5 am today and yesterday which meant we were up at 3:30 am getting ready for our day.

After finding out this morning that my ex was out of town and wasn’t going to be able to get my son to hockey, I go into super logistics manager mode and figure out Plan B.  Plan B included leaving work, picking up the kids, dropping them at the rink in downtown Nashville half an hour or more away, then going to pick up my husband on the other side of downtown, then going all the way back to the burbs to get my little one at after school care.  All by 6 pm.

What really happened:  Plan B went well to a point.  That paint was shortly after dropping the kids off at the rink.  On the way to get Jason, I was singing along to The Beatles.  I noticed after a little bit that they were not singing along with me anymore.  My radio was off.  Oh crap!  Now I need a new radio! I thought pushing the power button repeatedly.  Then I notice the battery light flashing erratically.  Then, the air bag light comes on.  I call Jason and let him know that something electrically weird is going on.  As I am telling him that I’m not getting on the interstate ramp and opted instead to go through downtown, the steering locks up and can just dies.  I manage to coast up onto a sidewalk out of rush hour traffic.  The side walk, sadly, is at the top of an overpass.  Yep.   A bridge.  I had to stop.  Cross traffic insisted on it.  As I stopped, I looked up and noticed the car repair shop on the other side of the street.  If cross traffic had not insisted, I could have coasted there.

So, I call Mom, who was on her way to meet us at the rink with Cam’s hockey gear.  She meets me and calls AAA.  And we wait at the repair shop who says they can’t actually fix my car tonight anyway.

But then there’s Jason and Bethany.  Jason, who has by this point been at work for 13 hours, is still waiting to be picked up.

And Bethany is in the burbs wondering where we are.  Everyone I know is now in Nashville.  I need someone in Franklin to get her.  My option: my ex-in-laws.  Bethany is not their grandchild which makes it an odd thing to ask them to do.  Thankfully, they can get her, but they are not on the approved people list.  Great.  Fix that.

Finally, the tow truck and some nice officers show up.  As we are walking across the street to meet them, my flashers go out.  That was the end of what juice the battery had.  Which meant that my keyless door lock doesn’t open.  Being sleep deprived I have a flash of a broken window to boot until Officer Rookie reminds me that I do in fact have an actual key.  So, I go all Old School and open it that way.

the car won’t go in neutral so the driver drags it and it’s protesting tires up on to the truck and away we go.  First to the repair shop where Mom parked 30 yards away.  Then he hauled it to the repair shop on our side of town.

I broke down at 4:30.  I walked in my door at 9:15.  So many near misses of things that could have been horribly worse.  So, since we pull up to the gas station to pick up some cigarettes for Jason, and I nearly missed the cut off time for lottery tickets, I purchased one.  Maybe that $1 will be the end my night deserved.

Or, if you think like Jason, we will miss each number by one.

 

A Sense Of The Season

After promoting a local newspaper writing contest to the kids I work with at school, I began to think of my own version of the contest entry.  The Senses of the Season.  This morning inspired me some as my mind drifted to visions of a steaming cup of Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Hot Chocolate.  Love that stuff.

Holidays in South Louisiana are different.  They have changed a lot for me with the move to Tennessee years ago.  They have also changed a lot with age.  As a child, Christmas time was full of the sweet smells of date balls and sugar cookies, the tangy sweetness of cranberry in a cup of hot Christmas Brew, and the warmth of Paw Paw’s cornbread dressing and giblet gravy.  There were the sounds of Charlie Brown’s Christmas song and my brother and I arguing over the Toys R Us catalog.  Then there was the sight of my Ma Maw’s artificial tree and the blinking star that had seen holidays from before I was born.

Notice a few things missing?  No sleigh bells.  No crunching snow.  No kids laughing and throwing snow balls.  No tinkling icicles.  The Christmas my brother and I got skateboards, we were racing down the driveway and into the dead end street in shorts.  It wasn’t always warm, but I’ve often said Louisiana has to seasons: Green and Brown.  When it was cold during Brown, it was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.   A bone-chilling damp cold no amount of chili or hot chocolate can warm up.  But mostly, it was pretty mild.  And wet.

Tennessee brought a few new sense-sations to the holidays.  Like snow and ice.  One of the signals it’s winter are the long icicles forming on the rock face that was created by interstate off ramp construction.  The water seeps out and freezes looking like a waterfall in extreme slow motion.  The snow and ice crunch underfoot and the world goes quiet, muffled in it’s blanket of white.

Where ever you are, sense the season to it’s fullest.  Feel the warmth of a holiday hug, see the beauty of the sparkle in grandma’s silver tinsel, and hear the laughter of the kids getting out of school for break.  The sense of the season is different for each of us where ever we are in the world, whether we have our holidays in the Winter, Summer, or Brown.

Happy Holidays!

Mindboggling

I think we can safely say that I have lost my mind.  Somehow I have it in my head that I am going to be able to do all of the things I have put on my plate.  Let’s just think about this for a minute.  So, my summer off is coming to an end in one day.  Did I finish my book and get it to the agents and publishers?   Close but not quite.  Add that to the list.

In two days I start back to work at the elementary school.  Thankfully, a job I adore.  Still, it does take time out of the day.  Add that to the list.

In one week, I start grad school.  Huge time commitment.  There go my Saturdays and probably a lot of evenings for the next two years.  Add that to the list, too.

My son is back on the Nashville Jr. Predators travel hockey team.  A tremendous accomplishment, but an equally tremendous time and financial commitment.  He’s worth it. My middle child starts soccer in a month.   Add that to the list.

This year, Max, my special little one, starts Kindergarten.  Her first half day is tomorrow.  She also has weekly afternoon occupational therapy.  Add that to the list.

I also have two older kids in school.  Fourth grade and eighth grade. Add lots of stuff sent home that requires parental assistance.  (Making mental note as a future teacher to remember how much I hate these as a parent and make all efforts not to assign them.)  Yes, you guessed it, add that to the list.

On top of all that are the usual tasks that befall the lady of the house, like cleaning bathrooms, cooking meals, dishes, and laundry.  On the list.

So, what all of this boils down to is that I have a list of things demanding my time that far outnumber the amount of time available in any given day.  Mindboggling.

The saving grace in it all?  I have a husband who has been through this recently when I finished getting my undergrad.  I also have my mom who revels in the hockey part of things.  So, while I may not sleep for the next two years, I have a glimmer of hope of making it through.

However, sanity, like sleep, may also elude me for a while.

Calling All Teachers!

Summer is here.  Kindergarten is around the corner.  What does that mean?  It means I have a Sensory Seeker about to descend upon some teachers who are only vaguely prepared for what is looming on their educational horizon.

So, here’s the all-call: what do I do to get my little one as ready as she can be in the short summer months?  She is academically advanced, but her Sensory Processing Disorder keeps getting in the way.  What I need are some unique ideas.  Hands on Kindergarten readiness.

Sensory Seekers are unique.  Most people have met or in some way encountered a child with Autism.  Autism is commonly paired with Sensory Processing Disorder.  These kids are usually classified as Sensory Aversives.  They dislike loud noises, crowds, and other sensory input that a Sensory Seeker craves.   My daughter does not have Autism, and her issues are usually seen by others as simply being a wild child.   Often Seekers crave sensory input, but can’t process it once they find it or create it.  This is where we find my daughter.

In order to get her ready for the big kid school, I need ideas to get her motivated to learn in ways that will keep her little system modulated.

Calling All Teachers!!!  What are those ideas you’ve always wanted to try?  What has worked for you?  What do you wish parents of these special kids had done to prepare them better for your classroom?

 

(For more on my daughter, visit her blog and Facebook page.  http://theworldaccordingtomax.wordpress.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-World-According-To-Max/120737397939535)

Cicaida Invasion: Yes, It’s Real!

Okay, so I hear these radio guys talking about the cicaidas that have invaded Middle Tennessee this 13th year.  One of them says he hasn’t seen any and jokingly, I hope, says he doubts there really are any.

Let me tell you , DJ dude, they are for real!  There are friends who tell me that they have to fend the ugly buggers off just to get from their front door to their car.  Not me, thank all that is good and holy!  My husband lives in crippling fear of them.  Yes, all 6 feet and 4 inches of this rugged manly man.  If one flew at him, he admits that he would go running and screaming like a little girl.

Good thing he wasn’t in the car with me the other day.  You have all met Christine, the Demon Car.  Well, she’s decided to screw with me again my having the A/C go out again just as the weather heats up and the devil bugs emerge.  So, there I am driving don the main interstate in Nashville with the windows open.   was hoping that doing 70 on the interstate would keep my odds of encountering the cicaidas flying around to a minimum.

Then, it happened.  Rush hour brought traffic to a crawl.  I had two scary merges to make amidst tractor trailers and crazy drivers and blind turns.  I was not even for a second considering the open windows.  UNTIL one of those nasty horrid bugs flew into my car.  I shrieked and tried to get it out of my window, where it had wedged itself, wings flapping noisily in my ears.  That sound had the same effect as fingernails on a chalkboard.  My skin crawled and I tried desperately to remove it while I avoided my fellow interstate travelers.

Remarkably, the only thing killed was the bug.  I will not be driving with my windows open any more than the merest crack.  Sorry about my sweaty stinky-ness, Nashville.  Surely, you understand.

Something About The Rain

There’s just something about a cool blast of wind, clouds rolling across a darkening sky, and the smell of rain that beings back childhood memories.  Driving home from dinner this evening conjured up some of those treasured times sitting on our back porch with Daddy.

You see, I grew up in south Louisiana.  If you have ever been there, you likely have memories of two things: booze and heat.  As a kid, we seemed impervious to the heat, but even we looked forward to the summer storms that rolled in like clockwork.   They were always preceded by that precious cool wind.   I would sit with Daddy on the covered patio, feeling the mist blowing in on my face, listening the to thunderous sound of the rain on the aluminum awning overhead and the deep roll of thunder.  For about an hour and a half, it was wonderful.  Then, the storm passed and the sauna set in as all of the rain evaporated and hung heavy in the air.

Here in Tennessee, we have become accustomed to weathermen breaking into our programing to show us brightly colored radar pictures and use their favorite term “possible signs of rotation” which means, well, nothing at all until it becomes simply “rotation”, but sounds very impressive.  In Louisiana, if your television show was interrupted by a weatherperson, they were calling that storm by name.  And in that case, you better put on your waders and hold on tight.

This evening, the storms were more like those I watched from my porch as a little girl.  Memories like that are wonderful and priceless.  Thank you, Mother Nature for letting me relive that feeling tonight.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

No, I’m not lost in some 70s song.  Worse.  I have just sent my work to a literary agent.  That is not unlike ripping your heart out and emailing to someone in a business known for ruthless blood-suckers.

Thankfully, I know at least one person in publishing who is a wonderful person who has given me some insight into their world.  So, with her words in my thoughts, I clicked ‘send’ and whisked my work through the internet to an agent.  With that small flick of a finger on a mouse, I put myself out there.  In that instant, the pit of your stomach contracts and there’s that flash of “what have I done?”

Maybe she will love it.  More likely, I will get that lovely standard and impersonal rejection letter that tells you nothing useful about your work or how you could improve.  You are left to wonder what you did wrong.  What about it didn’t they like?  You, and the thousands of other hopeful writers, will never know.

But, there are those few submissions that get the nod.  The agent will ask for more because what you sent was delightful and refreshing.  Will it be my book?  Who knows?  I will find out.  Then, and only then, will the knot in the pit of my stomach go away.  It may be replaced by elation.  It may be replaced by disappointment.  If it be the latter, I will simply do more research and move on.  I believe in my work.  Others have insisted that I get it out there.  So, with their encouragement, I trudge forward.

But please, oh please, madam agent, don’t go breaking my heart!

Nationals

They earned it.  The young men of the Junior Predators hockey team earned that trip to Nationals.  I, however, did not.  Yet, through the kindness of others, I was able to join my son on a monumental trip.  So much more than a hockey trophy was gained that trip.

The boys were delightful.  They played hard and were gracious winners and losers.  They played like champions.  Off the ice, they were grateful for the experience and the sacrifices of their parents to get them to San Jose.  We had a great time with them in San Jose, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz!

I am eternally thankful for those who made my trip possible.  To my mom, our fabulous team manager, the coaches, the adorable parents who traveled with us, and those whose generosity made sure I was there to see it all.  I am also grateful to those who helped, stepped up, and otherwise held down the fort for me at work and at home. It is both good and humbling to know that I can be gone for a week and the world will continue to revolve in my absence.

Did we bring home the National title?  No.  Did we bring home memories with our boys that will last longer than any plastic and marble trophy could?  Yes.  Unforgettable.   Amazing.  Wonderful.

Through The Generosity Of Others

Most people are surprised by the generosity of others.  I am often part of that group.  I do tend to believe that people are inherently good, rather than bad.  However, it is also human nature to be egocentric.  This past week has shown me the side of humanity that I am ever hopeful for.

We struggle constantly with my son’s hockey fees and expenses.  Why do we torture ourselves with it?  Why not find a cheaper sport?  The answer is simple: He is incredibly talented as a goalie.   Add that to the intense passion he has for the game and the life lessons gleaned through life on ice and it becomes evident that we can’t not put him in hockey.

This past week has been a true lesson in the kindness and generosity of others.  I firmly believe that the kindness shown to us as the adults in his life was based on his own character.  If my son were not the young man I am proud to say he is, I can imagine things may have been different.  As it stands, we owe our ability to take him to the USA Hockey National Competition to some amazing people.  I thank God for them and for the ever growing circle of emotional support around us.

You know who you are.  What you may not know and I cannot hope to express in words is the depth of my gratitude.  I wish there was some way to express it or to even hope to repay you in kind.  Thank you, a thousand times over, thank you!