Category Archives: parenting

So, I’ve been busy…

I guess I’ve taken another unintentional hiatus from blogging. I’ve been kind of pre-occupied, with all sorts of stuff. A couple months during which there has been too much to talk about, rather than too little. None of it particularly interesting or blog-worthy.

Well, there was my daughter’s wedding at the Botanical Garden in New Orleans’ City Park. It was perfect. The setting was impeccable, the weather was gorgeous (important, as the wedding was outside), the groom was handsome, the bride was beautiful, the food and drink were plentiful, the event staff were flawless and the band was spectacular. Much fun was had. But the memory that will stay with me, long after all the small details have faded, is how overwhelmingly happy my daughter and her husband were that day. Both of them practically glowed with it. In fact, toward the end of the evening when people were taking their leave, my new son-in-law hugged my mother and said, “Your granddaughter makes me so happy.” May it always be so.

I know, you all want to see pictures. *sigh* I asked my daughter whether I could share any pictures of her and her groom and she pretty much said, “Mom, don’t be weird.” Sorry about that. But I did make a little slideshow of the pics she told me I could share. One of my sisters took these pics and a few of them have been cropped or, um, otherwise altered. By me. To protect the innocent.

(slideshow here, for those of you reading feeds who maybe can’t see it)

 

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And then, two days after the wedding, since they’d had their epic seven-week honeymoon hiking in New Zealand before the wedding, they drove up here to collect their dog and cat and just hang out for a while. “A while” being two weeks. Which was very nice. Distracting as hell, but so very nice. And then they went back to New Orleans, but not before somehow managing to convince me to keep The Intruder Cat. Perhaps indefinitely. Because allergies have worsened. So there were a few bittersweet moments about that.

And then I was sick for about a week with the feverish head cold from hell.

And then it took me a couple weeks to get all the voices out of my head. There were people at the wedding I hadn’t seen in years and it was overwhelming trying to catch up in the short time frame. Also, my son-in-law has a HUGE extended family in New Orleans and, oddly enough, they all wanted to meet me. Which meant I had to talk to them too. Every single one of them. Some of them more than once. Luckily, all of them were friendly and welcoming and genuinely nice. Many of them were outrageously funny and jokingly flirtatious, two of my favourite things. So it’s not like seeing everyone was a hardship, far from it. But still. I’m an introvert and it drained me. It took me a while to get all those lovely engaging voices out of my head so I could hear my characters again.

And then my MacBook started acting up. Well, it is almost six years old. It had been showing signs of age for a while: things were slow to load or the browser would stop responding, it froze up and had to be re-started if I did too many things at once, the battery didn’t hold a charge and the darn thing overheated constantly. But then it got really scary. Several times when I opened it, the screen failed to light up. I’m good, but even I can’t type in complete darkness. And then one night I heard a rather alarming “pop” sound and part of the underside came free from its moorings. There was now a quarter-inch gap where there should have been a smooth seam. I couldn’t get the thing to close up again and duct tape seemed unwise. Inconvenient had just turned into unacceptable.

So then I had to order a new laptop. Macs are pretty straightforward when it comes to options, compared to PCs. Still, there were a few upgrades available and I debated over some of them. Because, money. Once it arrived, I had to decide whether Pages was going to be sufficient as a word processing program (no, not really). And whether I wanted to mess with the latest incarnation of MS Office (not much choice there). So I bought that and d o w n . . . l o a d . . . e d it. And i n . . . s t a l l . . . e d it. Y’know, for a really super fast new computer connected to super fast internet, I was surprised by how long this process still takes.

And THEN, I had to import all my email accounts. I have six of them. I know, that’s ridiculous, but these things happen. Unfortunately, I haven’t been clearing old email off the various servers. I had reasons. Besides, who has time for that? Holy guacamole, was there ever a lot of email stored up. ALL OF IT downloaded and got marked as “new.” *sigh* Live and learn. My usual email routine is to read everything as it comes in and reply to urgent stuff right away. The rest of it I deal with as I have time. Well, I haven’t had a surplus of time lately. Aaaand it’s possible I deleted a few non-urgent emails during this process. Ooops. Hey, you try dealing with tens of thousands of messages marked as “new” and see whether you don’t get a bit testy with that delete button.

ANYWAY.

I’ve been trying to focus on writing and thought progress on the second McIntyre novella (Cameron’s story) was going fairly well. Until I realized that the “witty banter” was actually sounding more like “petty bickering” and I wasn’t sure what the problem was. That’s when I realized the story doesn’t have a strong conflict. Or, really, any conflict. Well, that explained that. You know I’m distracted when I overlook something that basic. So, that’s a simple fix. Sort of. Well, it might be if life would stop throwing other things at me so I could THINK. Meanwhile, I’ve been making substantial progress on one of the stories I’m writing under another name. So that’s good.

And then, I finally decided a couple days ago that I’d better call the HVAC repair people about the upstairs heating and air conditioning units that stopped working (yes, dammit, both of them) . . . um, a while ago. Don’t judge me. I’ve been busy and the weather has been mild. Turns out I have a burned out control panel thingy up in the attic. “You’re lucky the fan motor is fine,” he said, like that was unusual. Also, half of the main 240V electrical shut-off panel in the basement is blown. I believe the term used was “burnt right up.” Of course, the entire upstairs system is now shut down. Because fire hazard, generally, is something to avoid. So the electrician is coming Monday to fix the electrical stuff and the HVAC guy is coming back Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday, who knows, to fix the rest of it. And I thought weddings were expensive.

AND ALSO, my daughter and her husband and the dog and their loaded-to-the-gills rental truck will be here in a couple days, hopefully not too battered and bruised from packing up boxes and loading up furniture. Hopefully still speaking and making each other happy. Adventures in Moving. They’re staying here for several days on their way to Boston — where there is no air conditioning either, so this will be good practice — where they will live for the next three years. I suspect there will be Adventures in Not Crying (on my part) when they leave.

AND NEXT, a week after that, several of my Imaginary Friends are coming into town for a week-long visit, thinly disguised as a writing retreat. You know, in case anyone stops talking long enough to write. This makes me happy. Also, frantic. So I’ve been cleaning ALL THE THINGS, hoping they won’t be horrified and call social services to stage an intervention. I swear, the only time I notice whether my house is clean and somewhat orderly is when I’m about to have company. Clearly, it has been far too long since the last time.

So. That’s what I’ve been up to during the past couple months. Told you it wasn’t all that interesting. What has been going on with you all?

 

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Memory Lane

It’s after midnight and I have to leave the house in just a few scant hours to drive to the airport so I can fly to New Orleans, where my daughter is getting married this weekend. I should be sleeping. But I’m too wound up with last minute preparations and, frankly, too excited to sleep.

It’s hard to believe my little girl is getting married. Then again, it’s entirely believable and welcome and wonderful and something we all have been happily anticipating for a long time. What I can’t believe is that it’s all going to happen just a few days from now.

I’m too distracted and exhausted at the moment to write anything meaningful about the occasion, other than to say all of us are just delighted. But when words fail, sometimes pictures are effective.

One of the charming traditions of weddings these days is to create a video or slideshow of pictures of the bride and groom at various embarrassing stages of their lives and play it during the rehearsal dinner so all their friends and family can laugh at them. So of course we did this.

Digging through old photo albums to find pics was a lot of fun and I thought I’d share a few of the less blackmail-worthy ones. It’s tough to find pics of my daughter that don’t also include my son — they’ve always been best friends — so he’s in several of these as well.

I’m very protective of my children and their privacy and hesitate to post pictures of them online. But I sincerely doubt anyone could identify them from the pics below. Luckily for them.

Hope you enjoy the pics! I’ll be back in a week or so to report on the festivities. Or something.

Scan 37

Scan 1

Scan 72

Scan 75_2

Scan 19

Scan 32

Scan 13

Scan 22

Scan 42_2

Scan 49_2

Scan 55

Scan 57

Scan 60

Scan 52_2

Oh, look! I found a couple pics of ME while going through old photo albums. Here I am with all three of my sisters. I’m the demure one on the right with her mouth wide open. I must have been about five years old.

Scan 64

And this one is me on my birthday when I was . . . 16? Maybe 17? Ready to eat some homemade-from-scratch birthday cake. My mom makes the absolute best cake and frosting I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

Scan 63_2

OK, time to close my eyes for a couple hours a few minutes before heading to the airport. I hope I end up sitting next to a handsome single man on the plane who won’t mind if I fall asleep on his shoulder. I’ll even try not to drool.

 

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Let’s worry mom! (New Zealand edition)

So, my daughter and her fiancé are leaving next week to spend some time in New Zealand. Seven weeks, actually. As you can see by this picture she sent me the other day, she’s pretty excited about it:

photo-6 calendar

This is technically their honeymoon, happening before the wedding because that’s just how their schedules worked out with time off. Two weeks after they return, they’re getting married. I mean, c’mon, what else would you do during the two months leading up to your wedding, if not leave the country?

This is their favourite kind of trip, one that involves hiking and camping. The kind where you don’t even bring a suitcase. You just stuff everything into a huge backpack, including a tent and sleeping bag and your food and a stove and an emergency hobbit, and carry it with you at all times while you climb mountains. They plan to do five of the Great Walks, although apparently one of them is really kayaking rather than walking.

EDIT TO ADD:  My daughter informs me that all five Great Walks they’re doing are indeed hiking. The kayaking is a separate thing. Because of course it is.

Am I worried, you ask? Who me? Pffft, I never worry. Much.

Besides, she assures me there are NO BEARS in New Zealand. Of course I believe her. Nonetheless, I did a google search of my own and discovered this isn’t strictly true. Apparently there is one particular type of BEAR in NZ.

BEAR GRYLLS!  [I love this video, great promo by Air New Zealand]:

He looks relatively harmless, except maybe to himself, but did you see those mountains? They’re very . . . mountainous.

I’m actually more than a bit envious. I’ve heard nothing but good things about New Zealand and have seen video and pictures showing how beautiful it is. I know they’ll have a terrific time. Luckily, her fiancé is just a few months shy of being an MD and is entirely capable of handling any incidents requiring band-aids that might ensue.

Not that I’m worried.

Now I just need to find something to wear to an outdoor spring wedding in New Orleans. I’m thinking maybe something that accessorizes well with hiking boots and a camelback. Any suggestions?

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“Don’t worry, I’m fine”

My son called me Saturday night. He and his girlfriend were at the beach for the weekend so I was surprised to hear from him.

“Hey,” I said, “What’s up?”

“Not much.”

This is how ALL our phone conversations start. Every. Single. One. Comforting in its predictability. But frustrating, because this kid never calls just to chat for no reason.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just driving back from urgent care in Morehead City.”

“Urgent care?” This is not nothing. “What happened?”

My imagination has kicked straight into hyper-drive. He sounds calm, so I’m automatically eliminating things like evisceration and dismemberment by shark or boat propeller and have moved on to the lesser circles of hell. Maybe sunburn. Dehydration. Food poisoning. Even so, I’m already halfway off the couch, ready to drive two hours to the beach.

“Yeah, so I got stung by a stingray.”

“WHAT?!” My brain has now stopped working. Well, except for the part that vaguely remembers Steve Irwin died after being attacked by a stingray. And Steve Irwin was fucking invincible.

“Bastard got me on the ankle,” he said. “It bled like crazy. But don’t worry, I’m fine.”

Don’t worry? Right. Never mind that he’s an adult and can take care of himself, I’ve been reduced to stammering incoherence between spikes of adrenaline. “But– you– what? Stung by– ohmygod– stingray– blood– holy fu– you sure you’re okay?”

“Mom. I’m fine. It hurt like hell for about an hour. Like an 8 out of 10.”

Okay, now I’m remembering Allie Brosh’s revised chart of pain and freaking out. I think #8 had something to do with imminent death but was just short of Ebola and being mauled by BEARS.

Allie Brosh’s chart of pain:

I’m trying to remember whether there’s enough gas in my car to make it to the beach without stopping to refuel.

But I’m doing my best to stay calm. Taking deep breaths. I remind myself that I am the mother of two kids who survived each other and childhood. And college. I’ve had lots of practice with near disaster.

Still. An 8 on the pain scale?

“That sounds bad.” I am the master of understatement with underlying tones of panic.

“Yeah, it was pretty intense. But it didn’t leave a barb, so that’s good.”

“A barb?” I think I might pass out.

“Nope, no barb. They cleaned the gash and put a band-aid on it and I’m fine now.”

Gash?” My voice emerged as a squeak. “A band-aid?”

My kid could have DIED and they put a freaking band-aid on it? I’m now incapable of speech and reduced to emitting high-pitched sounds of distress. But like any good dolphin child, my son is tuned to the frequency.

“Mom. Really, I’m fine. I just thought you’d want to know.”

And then I heard it. The voice of the kid who went flying off his bike while doing stunts and scraped the hell out of his palms and knees but didn’t cry. The same kid who sliced open his hand on a sharp rock and bled all over the place but was totally calm about it. So his mom wouldn’t freak out and worry. Not that I would have. Probably.

Okay, fine then. I wouldn’t freak out now either. Seemed the least I could do. If he could be all calm and collected IN THE FACE OF CERTAIN DEATH– ahem, so could I.

“Thanks for letting me know,” I said, with Oscar-worthy insouciance. “I’m sorry it messed up your weekend. And so relieved that you’re okay.”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “I guess I won’t be going in the ocean again this trip.”

“You’d damn well better not even think about it.”

He laughed again and it had the sound of indulgence. And love. “Don’t worry, mom. I won’t.”

I’m sure he’ll wait until at least next weekend.

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The sounds of silence, they echo

My DD and her BF and their dog and cat left early Friday morning to drive back to New Orleans. I miss them horribly. After ten days of noise and commotion, of various people coming and going, cooking and eating, talking and laughing and sleeping over, my house is almost spookily quiet.

Part of my brain apparently thinks they’re still here. I’ve had to stop myself three times now from getting up to let the dog in from the backyard. Their dog loved my backyard. Well, she loved the sticks. Which she piled up on the deck, right outside the door, like an offering to the tree gods. Or a barricade to keep us in.

I find myself waiting for the escalating volume of the spit-hiss-growl that meant the cats were having another close encounter of the curmudgeonly kind. And I swear I can still hear the faint chiming riiiiing of that Civ5 computer game — not quite a bell tone, more like someone running a wet fingertip around the rim of a wine glass. Over and over and over and over. Bells bells bells.

It’s not just me. My cat enters every room with extreme caution, not convinced the enemy has abandoned the field. She’s still spending the entire night snuggled up to my side instead of resuming her duties stalking odd noises in the night. This morning she hissed at a pair of shoes. Poor thing, she’s half-blind with old age and has to get right up next to a piece of furniture before she’s sure it isn’t occupied by The Intruder Cat, who is sort of like the Spanish Inquisition of cats. As you can see below. Totally unexpected.

I’ve been trying to get back into writing the past few days [yay. go, me] but the silence is distracting and I’m having trouble concentrating. Even as I sit here writing about how they’re gone, I half expect to hear the whir of a hair-dryer or the slam of a closet door or the sound of my DD yelling from upstairs, “Mom? Is there more laundry detergent somewhere?”

I know, wishful thinking on my part. But as much as I miss all that noise, I have to admit, the silence is rather . . . blissful.

Probably I’d enjoy it more if I weren’t suffering miserably with this sniffling sneezing aching shivering head cold from hell.

I’m telling you, allowing people to invade your solitude has consequences.

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