Category Archives: kids


So, I haven’t really blogged about me in a really, really long time.

I’ve blogged a little about vacations, and a lot about other people’s books, but nothing from my own perspective in what feels like ages.

Maybe I don’t have much to say. I’m really busy in my not-on-line life, with work and school and kids and just stuff. But no one wants to hear about the stresses of my day job (or the fact that I’ve written almost 50,000 words in the last month, 10,000 in the last week–including a 2,321 word lesson plan–but not a one of them was fiction). Everyone’s got stress. I don’t need to vent that badly.

But all the work has left me a little… empty. The words will come back when I have time to think about them, when I can live in my head a little more and a little less out of text books. Right now, my creativity is spent on lesson plans and planning thematic units for the entire next year. They’re good units, too. I’m excited to do them, but honestly… Over 2300 words? That’s nuts for one lesson plan.

I suppose no one can ever accuse me of under planning.

In any case, one of the great things about being a writer is that the stories never go away. They  just sometimes take a break while real life takes precedence. Once I’m done with my classes, I can devote more time to my characters. To Ash and Mina, who I really would like to finish this summer, after almost two years of off and on writing. To Ethan and Cat, who have an entire story plotted out that just needs to be written down. To Gabriel and  Asa, who, for some reason, desperately wants to be called Freya, even though I keep trying to convince her that that won’t work, given then whole… I don’t know… English maiden thing.

So, because my life seems like a giant To Do list these days, I thought I’d give you updates in list fashion.

1. What I’m listening to: When I’m writing Ethan and Cat, I really like to listen to this crazy playlist I put together that includes lots of U2 (I suppose we could call it vintage, though I am loath to call anything that was released during my lifetime–something I bought on cassette tape when it was first released–vintage. And if you ask “What’s a cassette tape?” I will throw you some serious virtual stink eye). Oh, and One Republic, Counting Stars. Totally seems weird that that song reminds me of my hero, but it does.

When I’m contemplating Gabriel and Asa/Freya, I’m listening to Wardruna, which is a little crazy, but whatever. It sort of sums things up right now, and since I think that my characters are somewhat darker than Ethan and Cat are turning out to be, it kind of fits.

2. What I’m reading right now: I’m finishing up The Earl’s Enticement by Collette Cameron, and I’ve already started The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger. That’s when I’m not reading about SIOP features and ELL stuff.

3. What I should be reading: I should be reading my text books and I need to do some more research on early Scottish history. I’m pretty familiar with the period right around Lindesfarne (I spent some time in York, and there’s that whole English/History/German major thing I did in college. And yes, I had three majors. And two minors (Poly Sci and Education). Wait, didn’t everyone? Luckily, I did actually get a graduate degree in something I can use!)

5. What I’m doing right now: Apparently, I’m digressing.

6. What I need to do: Work on my own topic maintenance, rather than my students’!

7. What I’ve been watching on those rare occasions that I get to watch TV: I spent several evenings enraptured by Vikings. Had myself a little Vikings marathon, in fact. I have a thing for Rollo. I think I’ve forgiven him for Season I. Now that I’ve watched all of Seasons I and II, I’m not watching much of anything. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve gone back to reading my text books.

8. What I’ve been doing in my free time: Camping. I got bitten on the rear end by a beetle of some sort last weekend, which hurt like bananas. The screaming (only after I discovered the bug… inside my pants) probably didn’t do wonders for my street cred, though.

9.  What I’m working on: Lesson plans. Oh, God, so many lesson plans. And these last few papers for my last class. I can do this. It’s a lot of work… Not necessarily hard, just a lot. And it’s late in the year, too, so my life is already crazy with meetings. Those three hours a week in class–and the additional 3-5 working on projects–starts to feel like a lot when I spent most of Memorial Day writing IEPs.

10. What I’m hoping for: That I don’t have a nervous breakdown in the next two weeks. Because once we’re out of this little stretch… It’s summer time! And I’ll have seven weeks off!

So that’s it for me. I hope you have a good weekend. And if you get the chance, go ahead and check out my book, Highland DeceptionIf you feel so inclined, leave me a review! Because I should could use them. Seriously.


Romance Weekly: Genre and Influences

image001Hey everyone! It’s that time of the week again: Romance Weekly. Find out what your favorite authors think about the questions below, or discover new-to-you authors! Let’s get to it!

1. Do you prefer to write futuristic, contemporary or historical romances and why?

I tend to write historicals. I’ve written one urban fantasy, set in modern-day San Francisco, but it didn’t go anywhere. It’s still sitting on my computer, awaiting rewrites and, perhaps, submissions at some time in the future. For now, I’m sticking with historicals.

The first book I ever wrote as an adult (also sitting on my computer) was a historical. I guess I chose that genre because I love the history aspect of it, and I cut  my teeth on historical romances. My first one was Julie Garwood–The Bride, I think, but it might have been The Gift–which I followed up with Savage Thunder by Joanne Lindsey. I discovered these books when i was sixteen, and, by the time I hit my junior year in high school, I’d read all Julie Garwood’s books. By the time I was twenty-one, I’d read Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey in German (it was more interesting than reading a freak-ton of Rilke. And sure, I like the tortured aspect of Gruppe 47 literature as well as anyone, but I can honestly say they didn’t inspire me to learn to read in German nearly as well as Johanna Lindsey did.)

So I guess that, as a History minor and an English Lit/German major, I was sort of destined to write historicals. I loved reading historical romances, so I guess I figured I’d love writing them. And I do. 🙂

2. What is your favorite time in history and how and why does it inspire you?

Um… Good question. I’ll admit to a certain fondness for the Victorians. They were totally wacky. For instance, the occult was really popular during the Victorian era: go to church Sunday morning, hold a séance Sunday night. Very prim and proper, and repressed sexually, but then, the treatment for hysteria was orgasms (and you went to the doctor for it!). It just seems to me like the Victorians are a study in polar opposites. Also, I have a particular fondness for the Old West, so I guess that’s part of it, too.

But I’ll admit, I loved the research that went into Highland Deception, which is set in Scotland in 1725. So, I guess that’s a close second.

3. How has your life experience contributed to your writing?

I’ll admit, I struggled with this question. I’ve traveled in Europe, and I’ve graduated from college, and all that fun stuff. College and travel opened up my eyes to new and different ways of thinking, and I suppose that that’s important if you want to be a writer. I think, because of that, I am better able to take another person’s perspective, which is necessary if one wishes to write well-rounded characters.

Getting married gave me insight into the character of men. Granted, I’ve been married since I was 22, so I guess my experience with men is limited, but I know one man like I know the back of my hand. I know what he thinks, and how he feels, and I know what he looks like when he’s upset. Being married for as long as I have (almost 17 years now!) has, I think, really helped me to write my male characters as men, and not mere caricatures of men.

Having children… Well, a baby changes everything about you. It just does. I’m the same person I was before, but I’m also… different. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to submit and suffer the potential rejections if I hadn’t had kids. I think just the act of giving birth made me less self-conscious, but having that baby? I’m so much stronger now–personality-wise–than I was before I had them. Before, I would have said that I’m “nice.” I was a good girl, and easily embarrassed. I hated to be wrong. I hated just the thought of someone thinking I’m not perfect. I tried really hard to be everything to everyone. To be the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect employee.

And then, I had a two-year-old.

I’ve done the walk of shame out of the grocery store more times than I could count (very smart, very volatile children = very loud tantrums in the store). I’ve been barfed on, had one kid have a diaper explosion (and I mean explosion–it was disgusting) at a restaurant in San Francisco, and gotten pee in my eye while changing a diaper at the mall.

It has been an exercise in humility. It made me realize that I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect, and I would kill myself if I kept trying to be.  I think that the thought of rejection might have done me in, if I hadn’t gotten over my need to be viewed as perfect. I’m not sure I ever would have submitted in the first place, because I would have been deeply ashamed if someone didn’t think my work was up to par.

I’m a published author because of the kids. They’re the ones, really, who gave me the strength to do that.

Go see what Fiona Riplee has to say on the subject!


This week, the family and I visited the desert. Surprisingly, both kids seem to love this place. The cacti are in bloom, bright magenta against dull green, and desert paintbrush blossoms along the road, fiery red against the landscape. The terra cotta-colored sandstone melts into white, as if it’s been dipped in paint.

It’s lovely. And warm. But not too hot (yet).

The desert in spring is the place to be.




A Story About Two Kids, Two Dogs, and a Trip to the Vet.

So the other day, we had to take the dogs to the vet. Little Vanilla Bean needed her 14 week shots, and big dog Frank needed to get his mouth looked at.

Now, we had had it checked no more than a week before, so we sort of knew what was coming. I knew he’d need surgery, and that he’d have to be sedated to be x-rayed. I explained the whole process of sedation to Chewey–that they’d give the dog some medicine that would make him go to sleep for a little while so that he wouldn’t feel anything while they operated on him.

Going to the vet with two dogs–one a puppy who hasn’t had any leash training, and the other one who LOVES people but is not as fond of other dogs (and is huge, to boot)–and two kids who will not stop talking for more than five seconds was, well, a comedy of errors. Just getting out of the car was a kick in the pants.

When we got there, I gave Miss Vanilla Bean to Monkey, hoping she could control the little dog. But Vanilla Bean was not happy with being leashed, and Monkey kept shouting, “No! NO! NO! NO!” in a voice that sounded like something between a foghorn and a siren, and was probably six times as annoying.

“Monk, pick her up.”

“I don’t know how to pick up a dog!” she complains.

This is my child who is in a gifted class, but she can’t pick up a dog and has somehow forgotten how to peel a banana, but more on that later.

Vanilla had almost squirmed all the way out of her collar by the time I just decided to pick her up myself.

Then I had to get Frank out of the back of the car. Bear in mind, we are at a vet that shares a parking lot with a freaking 7-11. There are cars going in and out like crazy, and a little yappy dog was tormenting my 100 pound German Shepherd from the sidewalk.

Frank started yodeling. I’m not kidding. Yodeling. (I’m not the only one who thought it was like yodeling. The vet tech must have tried for five minutes to get him to do it for the vet. It. Was. THAT. Awesome.)

I swore, in that moment, I would never attempt this alone again. Texted M from the parking lot with Please tell me you’re on your way here. I’m a hot mess.

Eventually, I managed to wrangle Vanilla and Frank into the building.  Both kids were chatting like there was nothing unusual about what’s going on, I had  a twenty pound puppy squirming in my arms, and Frank started turning circles and yodeling. Give the dog some lederhosen and an accordion, stat!

While I tried to check in, Frank, who couldn’t seem to stop turning in circles because he was on a no-pull leader (which turns him around the minute he starts pulling too hard), started knocking everything off the shelves with his butt. Swept the table clear of brochures. Then banged into a bookcase filled with samples of God-only-knows-what, but there were boxes strewn all over the floor.

It was that awesome.

Monk started to pick up whatever it was, but somehow managed to wrangle herself under Frank’s feet. They both fell down in the middle of the waiting room.

By the time we sat down at a bench, Frank had calmed down to the point where I guess he felt yodeling was unnecessary, and I was sweating like it’s July. In Brazil. After I’d just wrestled a bear. And maybe a jaguar. Yeah, a jaguar.

But we were hanging. Until we got called back to a room, that is.

Frank started yodeling again. The vet tech looked at me and said, “Wow. Listen to that.”

“Yeah.” I tried–I really did–to not sound too annoyed, because Lord, who knew my dog yodeled? Who knew it was THAT annoying?

Oh, right, did.

In any case, we got back to a room. When the vet came in, the children started asking questions and talking to the vet like they had never seen another living soul in their lives.

“Vanilla’s a lover,” Chewey said. “She’s my lover.”

Must. Resist. Face/palm.

Monkey, who was now not-really-in control of Vanilla, piped up with, “She can’t be your lover, because then you’d be married! And then you’d have puppies instead of kids!” 

“No I wouldn’t!”

“Yes you would! They’d be dog/human hybrids!” Maniacal laughter followed. (She is in the gifted class, after all. Even if she doesn’t know how to peel a banana.)

“Nu uh!”

“Yuh huh!”

Oh, sweet mother of God.

I gave both kids the stink-eye, which they both pointedly ignored.

When the vet knelt to look in Frank’s mouth, Chewey piped up with, “My mom says you’re going to put him to sleep. Are you going to put him to sleep?”

The vet gasps and looks completely horrified. “No! Of course not! Why would you say that?”

I don’t even remember what Chewey said while I tried to explain our earlier conversation about sedation.

At some point, Vanilla wrapped herself around the vet’s legs. Or, at least, wrapped her leash around the vet’s legs. Suddenly, Monk started in with her, “NO!NO!NO!NO!” foghorn/siren thing, and yanked on the leash.

The vet froze, and I took the leash from Monk and unwrapped the vet.

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? 

I’m not sure I’ve ever needed a nap so badly in my whole life.

I’m happy to report that everyone is fine. Vanilla had her shots, Frank had his surgery and seems to be doing well, even though every once in a while, he looks at M like, “Hey. Got the munchies over here.  Can I get some Jack in the Box?”

Good times, people. Good times.




The Care and Keeping of an Allergic Celiac–Recipe Time!

Cooking, in my family, is a dangerous proposition.

I’m allergic to eggs and beef. I also have celiac and, even after having my gallbladder removed, too much fat sends me into fits of agony.

Husband is Type I diabetic.

Daughter gets stomach migraines from artificial colors.

Son is lactose sensitive. He can have dairy, but I limit it. Otherwise, he’s moaning in the bathroom, and that’s no bueno. (He’d take the hit every day if left to his own devices, though)

Anyway, so I made these cereal bars. They’re pretty easy (have to be, with my schedule), everyone liked them, and it was easy enough to adapt to GF. They’re good snacks to put in lunches, too! Just freeze and let them defrost in the lunch box. My child is particularly messy, so sure, he might come into my office after school looking like a crime scene, but hey. That could happen anyway, so I’ll take my chances.

Very Berry Oatmeal Bars

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour of your choice
(all purpose is easy; a sorghum/quinoa/tapioca/arrowroot blend has more protein and fiber, but that’s a lot of flours to have on hand. And a pain. And I’m lazy)
1 1/2 cups GF oats (many celiacs are sensitive to oats, so you have to be careful with this. I do okay, so here we are!)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup melted butter
(you could just as easily use margarine if you want to go totally vegan, but margarine gives me the willies.)
1/2 cup agave nectar (I have replaced this with stevia and whey sugar. If using a dry sugar, decrease flour by 1/4 cup, and increase butter by 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, defrosted and drained (Jam can be used, and because of the consistency, holds up better for lunches–it’s less like a crime scene–but I like the decreased sugar of mixed berries. Hm… I bet that apple compote I made in October would be great with this.)

Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Stir in agave nectar and melted butter until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a prepared 8×8 inch baking pan (because the last thing you want to do is expand your child’s vocabulary in new and exciting ways because the darn bars got stuck! Incidentally, darn was not one of the words I used.) Spread the fruit or jam over the top. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top of the fruit layer, pressing down to cover.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely and the cut into squares. I refrigerate mine before I wrap each bar individually and then put in a freezer bag and freeze them!

(I was going to include a picture, but we ate them all. So, uh, sorry?)

The Year That Is

Well, last week I promised to tell you about my New Year’s goals, so here they are:

1. I’m hoping to get in shape. Not Jillian Michael’s shape or anything like that–my goals are somewhat more modest. I used to think I wanted to run a 10K, but not anymore. Now, I just want to be able to hike the trails I want without sounding like Darth Vader about to throw a thrombo. We loved the camping so much last year, and there are some pretty fantastic trails I want to conquer.

2. I’m going to finish my current WIP, and then I’m going to write another historical, I think, because I need a break from the series (and I’m finding myself missing historicals). Once that’s finished, I hope to write the second in the series. In theory, I can do this in a year. We’ll see how it goes in practice.

3. After that? Well, I’m going to try to get an agent, but I don’t think that will happen this year. While I can write two full length books in a year, it’s really hard because I can’t dedicate myself to writing full time (unless someone wants to drop major bank on my head, and then yes, I can quit the day job with all the nice benefits. I don’t write for the money–obviously–but I won’t lie and say it isn’t a powerful motivator. Right now, the money lies in the day job. That, and I like the day job. I like it enough that when Hubs and I play, “What would you do if we won the lottery?” I’m actually hard pressed to say I’ll quit. Cut back on my hours, sure. Go half time? Absolutely. But quit? I don’t know about that. I think I need to socialization)

4. I am going to master baking gluten-free bread. I’m okay at it now, but I get bogged down with the various flours. This past year, I tackled sugar free, gluten-free, and egg-free carrot cake. I know, I know, it also sounds taste-free too, because, let’s face it, eggs, gluten and sugar make things delicious! But it was actually pretty good. I substituted whey sugar and agave nectar for refined white sugar. While the agave nectar will raise blood sugar, it doesn’t spike it in the same way that sugar does, and the whey sugar is supposed to be diabetic friendly. Not that carrots are, but hey, it was Husband’s birthday. Monk even liked it well enough that she requested it for her birthday in a few weeks.

(I keep diverting off topic. Sorry. It’s early, and I’m off coffee for a little while)

5. I really, really hope to garden this year. My back yard was kind of destroyed last summer when the sprinklers broke while we were on vacation. It was during a heat wave, and my grass died.

Given that state of affairs, I now have a blank slate to work with for my garden. I want to grow kale, tomatoes and peppers (Pasillas and jalapeños are my favorites, but anaheims are good, too), and maybe some cucumbers and squash. Maybe even collard greens, since I’m so fond of them right now, and green beans.

I’ve never been successful at growing greens or beans (my experience with greens is limited, and I can’t seem to make beans produce more than two beans per plant), so I guess we’ll see how that goes.

For now, that’s it. It’s a pretty short list, but I think a rather ambitious one. I want to write and play in the dirt. All in all, those seem like admirable goals to me.

A Year in Review

I elected to post this a few days after New Year’s for a couple of reasons:

1) I didn’t want my post to get in the way of the Thursday Thread

2) I wanted to be able to leave this up for a little bit longer while I think about the year ahead.

This year was… busy. At the end of 2012, I’d decided to go to graduate school and get a PhD in Speech Pathology. I took the GRE, did okay, I guess, and, indeed, got accepted to the program.

But I didn’t take it.

The pay cut was too big. Sure, they’d pay for classes, but I had to work for them for 20 hours a week, and the pay was less than half of what I would make if I just worked per diem. I could work half time for the school district, pay for all my classes myself, and still come out ahead (that’s how little it was). But I was told that I had to work for them, regardless of who paid for my classes.

So I said thanks, but no thanks. I’m a little sad I didn’t take it, but it’s okay. I’m not unhappy doing what I’m doing, and I never was. That wasn’t why I wanted to the PhD.

Anyway, I had surgery again in May to repair yet another hernia. It was my fourth hernia repair in three years, and was not my favorite thing in the world. Yet another reason why I was reluctant to leave my job for a PhD: I have okay insurance, but coupled with husband’s insurance, it’s pretty awesome. Double coverage pretty much rocks, when it comes to surgery and hospital stays.

Also in May, because I wasn’t going to graduate school and putting us in the poor house, husband and I bought a small, used travel trailer. It really is pretty tiny, and husband and I sleep on what is supposed to be the dinette, but it works for us. We went camping several times over the summer, to places I have always wanted to go, but never been: Crater Lake. Bend, OR. The Oregon coast. Various places in CA. We saw salmon running, watched a bald eagle catch a fish early one morning, and had deer munching on grass right across from our trailer. We also learned that our very scary looking German shepherd is great with throngs of people and super with little kids, but terrible with other dogs. Lord, he’s barky.

I think we had the best vacations we ever had. If we didn’t want to be in town for a weekend, we weren’t. We dry camped for a couple of those weekends, which meant that it was basically free. The burn restrictions kind of stunk, but better to follow the rules and NOT cause a forest fire, right?  We had enough of those this year without us adding to it.

Also this year, I started learning how to bake. I’ve never been a baker in the past–heck, if I wanted a bagel/muffin/cookie, I would just go down and get one. But with the celiac disease and the egg allergy, I have to make my own stuff. I make good cookies and muffins. I think I’ve finally gotten okay at gluten free, egg-free bread. Almost all the recipes I found for gluten-free bread required the use of eggs, which I can’t have. So the bread I make tends to be denser than normal bread, but it’s good. I’ve made quinoa/millet bread, and breads with buckwheat, and another type of bread with teff. I’m learning to appreciate things like chia seeds and arrowroot and xanthan gum.

I’ll admit, I really miss sourdough, but not enough to do my own starters with cabbage leaves and stuff like that. I’m not that ambitious. And I don’t miss anything enough to take the hit for it. I did that for years–I can’t go back to that. By the end, right before I was diagnosed (after two GIs told me, No, you don’t have celiac, despite the fact that ALL of my path reports going back three years say that I do),  I was getting pretty desperate. I threw up after almost every meal, so I only ate once a day–at night, when I had the time to hang over the sink and feel miserable. And, more often than I care to admit, I would live on nothing but one small cup of applesauce a day for up to five or six days. It was pretty miserable.

It’s so much better now.

So, I can live without the bread. It’s hard sometimes. I have yet to master the gluten-free roux–every attempt I made at making gravy was pretty pathetic. It was more like gak than something you can eat. But I guess that’s okay. I can live without gravy.

This year, my M had a health scare, too. We’d known he was diabetic for about six months when his blood sugar started going haywire. He lost so much weight. His cheeks became sunken and hollow, and I was getting scared (not that I told him that, though he probably knew, since I was hounding him to go to the doctor). Turns out, he had Type I diabetes–his poor pancreas doesn’t do much. He’s on insulin now, and we’ve had some kind of scary moments where his blood sugar dropped precipitously, but he’s doing great at managing it. He tests his blood frequently, and he’s gotten really good at administering the shots. It still scares me, but I’m adjusting.

So, given this new information, learning to cook for all of us has been an interesting endeavor. Luckily, I rarely cook with potato starch–I use garbanzo bean flour, millet, quinoa, and sorghum, which tend to be higher in fiber and protein than other breads. And I don’t give him very much of it. We’re slowly learning to adapt to our health issues, and the kids have been pretty good about it.

Also, this year, I sold another book: Highland Deception, a book set in Scotland in 1725. It comes out in a few months, and I’m excited to share it with you. But I am busy, busy. I started doing some editing on the side, which is nice and brings in a little extra money. Also, because I decided not to get the PhD in speech, I decided to pursue my TESOL endorsement (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), mostly because, if I get above a C, the classes are totally paid for, and I don’t have to quit my job to do it. So that’s cool. The coursework isn’t hard, but I do have to work on it, so it does take time. I guess I should have been doing some of the work over the break, since I have stuff due that week we get back to school, along with report cards and three IEPs that first week, but hey. I’ll get to it. Maybe Friday.

The kids are doing well. Chewey isn’t in as much trouble as he was last year. He has gotten into some trouble this year, but it’s not as bad as last year, so that’s good. He’s getting older, and he’s learning to control himself a little better. He loves his time with his dad and his sister, playing D&D, while I get some largely uninterrupted work time. And Monk? Well, she’s learning to manage her time better, and is coping well with the increased work load of her new school. We try to go to basketball games when we can, and they’re both in Scouts and swimming. I think it’s been good for both of them.

In a few days, I’ll post my list of hopes for the coming year (I am loath to call them resolutions). I turn 39 in a few months, so I have some time to reflect on my list from a few years ago: 40 before 40. I’m pleased to say that I hit some of them already. Some of them will have to wait for the bucket list, I think. 🙂

So, to all of you out there…. Happy New Year!


Land of Milk and Honey… Oh Wait, That’s Not Right

So, we have a stomach bug going around my house. And it’s wicked. Horrible. The can’t-keep-anything-down-barfing-every -40-minutes type bug.

So after doing this overnight with Monkey, I decided to call her doctor for some Zofran. They wanted her seen, which okay fine, I get. Her normal doc wasn’t there, so we agreed to see one of his partners.

After waiting another three hours, during which Monk threw up another five times, once while walking into the doctor’s office (she had a bucket…and tough kid that she is, she kept walking while throwing up).

Then the doc came in, and here’s where things got weird.

Initially, she refused to give us Zofran, saying kids should “be made to tough it out.”

The look on my face must have been, “Are you out of your mind?” because she went on…

“I’m old school. Kids should have to just deal with the vomiting. It’s like giving too many antibiotics.”

I wasn’t asking for antibiotics. When the kids have a cold, I don’t take them to the doctor. I keep them home, give them Tylenol and lots of fluids. If it gets bad, we see a doctor, but I don’t ask for antibiotics. I know about MRSA and C-dif. I also know that antibiotics won’t work for a virus.

So I don’t ask for big meds. I wasn’t even asking for anything to make her well. I was asking for something to make her feel better.

Because I don’t believe in needless suffering. And I don’t understand why you would refuse to give someone a drug that will ease their suffering just because she’s a kid.

In any case, she went on to explain that children need to wash their hands, and they need to learn to do it effectively. The tone was…different. Almost like she was blaming Monkey because Monkey got sick. Like if my child learned her lesson, she wouldn’t have gotten sick in the first place.

At that, I said, “She’s diligent about washing hands. She’s very conscious of that.”

She countered with the notion that children are notorious for not washing their hands.

I could have told her that this is a kid who reads food labels to make sure everything that goes with her to school doesn’t contain peanuts, because a boy in her class is allergic. She coughs into her sleeve. And she sings “Happy Birthday” two times when she’s washing her hands, because she doesn’t want to make anyone sick.

But I didn’t have to. Because Monk looked at me, picked her her bucket, and threw up.

The doc looked at me and said, “I’ll write you a script for Zofran. But only a couple. I don’t want her having it for several days. I’m tired of people over-medicating. They hand these things out like candy in the ER.”

I wanted to make a smart remark, but I was getting what I wanted, so I thanked her instead.

Then Monk threw up again.

“I’ll give her one now.”

“Thank you.”

After what was probably one of the weirdest doctor’s visits, we came home. Monk has been fine since that initial Zofran (because it’s a miracle drug, I’m telling you).

Only now, Chewey has it.

This is not the land of milk and honey. That much I’m sure of.

I’ll Admit It

I’ll admit it…This vacation, I thought we were going to be THAT family.

You know, THAT family. The one you follow around Disneyland just to hear what outrageous thing they’ll say next (oh, and trust me, whatever does get said is so horrible, it’s funny).

After two years, we decided to return to Disneyland. Last time we were here, my then four year old threw ginormous fits and acquired a terror of fire alarms that we still haven’t broken him of, not entirely.

So it was with great reluctance that we decided to return. Ok, actually if it had been up to me, we wouldn’t have. But M was set on the idea, and really wanted to come back, so here we are.

And the first day, Chewey did his part.

He was crabby and cranky and refused to even ride the bus at Universal Studios. He threw a massive fit in the haunted mansion at Disneyland, precipitating a covert escape mid ride through the fire exits (in his defense, now that I’ve seen it, I get why he was scared. It’s loud and dark and a little spooky. I thought it was great. But I get that it might scare a little kid who doesn’t do loud on his best days, and never does the dark).

After the covert escape, M and I were snipping at each other. Nothing major, just general crabbiness. Also, the escape served as a major buzz kill, and left both of us not really wanting to do much of anything.

Then Monk wanted to go on the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn is my favorite ride in the park, and doing this with her was a great mood elevator. She loved it, and I got to separate myself for about half an hour, which, for me, was like hitting a giant RESET button. Once we got done, I sent M off with her, and sure enough, he came back happy, too.

But we needed one success. One ride that we could do without a freak out. We had tried three, with little success. Then Chewey requested Star Tours.

Now, I get motion sick fairly easily. Star Tours was not something I had planned. I thought I’d get sick, he’d get scared, and we’d be all irritated and on edge all over again. But he begged, we needed a success, so we went.

He loved it. He would have gone on that ride half a dozen times. Me? I saw the introduction, anyway. Then I closed my eyes and just tried to breathe through it. It was bad enough that my eight year old took one look at me as we were leaving and said, “Daddy, Mommy looks like she needs a Zofran.”

(Yes, my children are well acquainted with my stomach meds. A) They live with me. My nausea is no longer constant since I gave up wheat, but it was such a regular occurrence for so long, I’d be surprised if they didn’t know the names of my meds; B) They’re smart and they notice things)

But… We had our success!

He really did pull it out. He did well enough that when we got stuck on a ride, he didn’t even complain. He didn’t complain (that much) when we had to leave Disney early because Monk felt sick. He made it!

So, I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Disneyland was not the disaster I thought it would be. And hooray for that!


Back when I was younger, I always listened to what “they” said.

“Don’t wear orange,” they said.

But I like orange, I thought.

“Pretty girls don’t wear orange,” they said. “Pretty girls wear pink and lavender.”

So I wore pink.

I like pink, I told myself.

“You don’t want to be a writer,” they said.

But I like to write, I thought. It’s part of who I am.

“Writers are weird. Nice girls aren’t weird.”

So I decided to study other people’s writing instead.

It’s okay, I thought. I love language, so this works, too.

“You want to be scientist,” they said. “Smart people are scientists.”

So I got a degree in a field where I could both study language and be considered a scientist.

I did what they said. I abided by their rules. I kept trying to be who they thought I should be.

And then, one day, something changed. I had children.

What “they” said still mattered. Until I realized I didn’t want my children to listen to them like I had. I didn’t want my babies to be constrained by what others thought they should be. And that I didn’t want to be like them.

I’m a writer, I thought. So I wrote. I started writing a romance novel.

“When are you going to write something someone will actually read? No one will read that,” they said.

I kept writing my romance novel, because I liked it.

“You’ll never get published,” they said. “Don’t do it anymore.”

I kept writing my novel. I submitted. Got rejected. Submitted some more.

In less than a year, I got published.

“Well, no one will ever read it.”

Meh. Some people have read my books and most people haven’t.

So I’ll keep trying.

I’m a teacher, I thought. And I’m good at it. So I started thinking of myself as more of a teacher and less as a scientist. And I discovered I never needed to feel bad about doing what I love and what I’m good at. I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m not working in a hospital anymore; I can say, “I work at an elementary school with children with autism,” and be proud of that.

What they say shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. It shaped who I became, until I took me back. Until I realized that I can wear any color I want. Until I realized I could do what I loved and be proud of it. Until I realized that everything that makes me a writer–the wild imagination, the penchant for daydreaming, and sure, the quirkiness–had always been there, and would remain there even if I never put a single word on paper.

I don’t want the kids to listen to them. I don’t want them to give up on their dreams because of what they  say, because the great and powerful they say a lot of things that are, simply put, shit.

As long as the kids aren’t hurting anyone, then whatever they decide to be will be just fine by me (I do put caveats on the dreams and aspirations, because well, there’s Dexter and Breaking Bad. Some dreams and aspirations I just can’t get behind). I don’t care what the kids do, so long as they’re doing what they love, with people they love who love them back. I hope  they don’t forget to chase their dreams. I hope they know that today’s failure is just a temporary set back. I hope they know that the only real failure is in not trying at all.

So today, the kids and I wore orange.