Category Archives: Children

Alright, Alright, Alright! Story Update

L1009540So, I found the copy of that story, the one I had intended to publish as a standalone short story for your reading pleasure, A Dagger In the Rain. I have it converted into Word (which was a royal pain, thank you Adobe for trying to scalp us continually for cash) and it’s ready to be edited, reformatted, and published.

SO, my Valentine’s gift to you all will be a FREE version of this story, available from February 14th until the 1st of March. I will have a link for you to download it from, and you can have it completely without charge until March. Just keep my name attached to the story if you pass it along to someone, and maybe send them to one of my websites if you’re feeling particularly friendly.

I will then be publishing it, along with several other stories, as a short story collection Unfinished Tragedies: Tales of Ghosts, Curses, and Revenge.

So, I expect to be extremely busy for the next month or so, but I will of course be checking my email so if you have any questions, feel free to shoot them over to me. The hardest thing is going to be training my younger kids what it means when Mommy is working– I haven’t worked as a writer in so many years that they can’t understand that “Mommy at the computer” doesn’t necessarily want to answer six hundred questions and have you cling to her knee, whining, when she’s not paying attention to you! But I don’t doubt that they’ll figure it out just like their older siblings did.

Excited!


Beginning again

Okay, so I began work on another novel today.

500 words isn’t much, I know, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. I would have written more if the boys had been better-behaved, but having their older brother home sick from school really set them off. Brawls were fought, words were bandied, and scissors were brandished. I took the scissors away.

Anyhow, the new novel is a noir-ish thing, which makes it tricky. Hammett and Chandler both had a gift for saying the least amount possible, making it sound tough and elegant at the same time. I’m writing more of a post-noir noir, where the main character is twenty years beyond his hardcore days and vulnerable in ways that Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe were not (kids, for one.)

I wrote this originally as a short story several months ago, but it didn’t work at the shorter length. I hope it works at novel length, but somehow I’ve got to get it there. 500 words a day will not do it as fast as I’d like.

So, it’s time to tweak the outline and see if I can add more detail to it. It’s immensely easier to write a scene once you’ve outlined it– more of a fill-in-the-gaps exercise than just dredging up raw material and trying to shape it at the same time.

I’d really like to move up to 2000 words per day. 5000 would be excellent but probably not realistic. If I could get the outline to reflect the pacing I need it to show, then . . . oh wait.

Oooooooooooooh . . . an idea.

A bloody gory and thoroughly detestable idea.

I love it already.

See you next week. I’ve got to write this down.


Editing during warfare

The warfare I’m editing under, of course, is the long-term entrenched war being waged against my sanity by my children.

Oi.

I spent all morning taking my middle son to a doctor’s appointment with one of the travelling pediatric specialists that only visits our town once a month. Not the kind of thing you can easily reschedule, if you know what I mean. Two hours in an 7’x10′  examining room with a hyperactive 5 year old and I came out feeling like my brains had been lightly scrambled and sprinkled with chives.

I did have a good experience yesterday evening, however. Well, eventually. First, the air conditioner had to freeze up, my husband had to dismantle it (did I mention it’s right outside our bedroom door?), then he had to clean out 5 years of accumulated filth on the coils and unclog two feet of drain pipe that were totally filled with a jellied sort of slime mold. In our bathtub. Sigh.

So after the tension and the swearing and my scrubbing of the slime mold out of the tub with liberal amounts of Comet cleanser, I sat down at my desk and read the first chapter of my novel out-loud to my 14 year old son.

He liked it. I was able to pinpoint a few clunky paragraphs that will really need to be moved or chopped (lots of backstory) but he asked me an actual relevant question at the end and asked if we could read more of it later. I count that as a success, however slim. One battle in the lifelong war, but since I’m always losing the war, I will take what I can get.

LastPass, the service I use for my passwords, has a new feature that has really put a number on how little time I’ve had this week. It tells you how long it’s been since you’ve last logged on to a site before it fills in your info. Usually, my email logins say something ridiculous like “5 minutes since you last logged on” which is ludicrous, but I admit to obsessive checking when I’m expecting an email. Or when I’m avoiding working. Or, you know, Pinterest.

I sat down at my computer a while ago and it told me “20 hours since your last login.” Wow, almost an entire day. Now I know why my brains feel sauteed.

Not nearly enough screen time.

Or too much butter, either one.

For the sake of full disclosure, I intend to watch FaceOff tonight. Because . . . okay, Syfy finally has a good show that I like! That’s reason enough. *nod* But I’ll actually have real writing time tomorrow, since no one has claimed the hours between 10am and 4pm yet. If I work hard, I can get three chapters edited in that timeframe. Only . . . thirty left to go? Ugh. I feel like I’m losing the war sometimes. Make it four. If I can do four a day, I can get it finished by the 1st of October. Maybe I’ll win the war, after all.

 


The price of life is higher than magic

So, I was reading through this post by Sarah A. Hoyt “Lay Down Your Bets.”  In it, she discusses the price we pay as writers in order to develop our craft, as well as several other things.

The idea of a “price of magic”, of course, is something integral to most fantasy worlds (and something that Orson Scott Card covered in his 1990 book on writing science fiction and fantasy, so it’s something I’ve been thinking about for 20 years now.) Nothing’s free. There’s always a cost in energy, time, skill, or pain.

There’s definitely a “price of writing” too, though.

I was thinking about that today, actually, since I haven’t had a moment to sit down at the computer since I woke up this morning at 6:30. I was either driving somewhere, caring for the two little boys, driving somewhere else, feeding the boys, working on homeschooling stuff while the 3 year old shrieked and demanded attention, driving yet somewhere else, shopping for necessities, wandering through the mall as the boys tried to escape, driving, shopping for food, driving . . . you get the picture.

All of my writing time has to be crammed in with the requirements of being a mommy, too. Sometimes, I can get away with locking the door, letting my daughter care for the boys, and just pounding out a few thousand words or editing a couple chapters.

Those are good productive days.

This week is not going to have many of those days. There are too many days where my daughter has college classes, where there are appointments to go to, or where I’m just going to be stuck driving more than I’d like.

Still, I have to get some work done, so I’ll be cutting out my evening tv and computer time, just to carve a couple hours out where I can work. It’s not the best writing time, since everyone is home and 8 people in a house make a lot of noise, especially with the televisions going and the boys jumping around like frogs on speed. But it’s what I’ve got this week. I’ll put on my “mood music” and try to ignore the chaos long enough to edit a chapter or two. If I’m lucky, I’ll be uninterrupted.

Who are we kidding? I’m never that lucky. 😉

There’s something that we lose, though, in order to get that writing done. I could be working in the weedy garden, playing with my new chicks, or spending time with one or two or more of my kids. There’s untold numbers of things that need to be cleaned and repaired. Laundry, as always, is like K-2. But mostly, I miss time with the boys while they’re still little. I get absorbed in my work and I don’t really hear their little questions and complaints. I refer them on to their siblings, their father, anyone in the house . . . just let me be, I’m WORKING.

And I regret that. I do. I know that there’s only so many hours in a day, and only so much time. It’s a hard choice to choose between your kids and your work. It’s a choice that has to be made sometimes. If there’s a real emergency, the book is SOL. The kids have my undivided attention. But day to day . . . ? Sometimes, I just have to choose my work and have someone else do the caretaking.

You don’t get a second chance, though. I’m glad I finished my first novel. I didn’t want to say, at the end of my life, that I’d never finished a book. But I DID lose things, in its production. I missed football games and storytime and bubble baths and afternoons at the park. Even though those all get forgotten, I still passed up the opportunity to have fun, just so I could type another chunk of made-up story. Silly, really, spending that much time with figments of your own imagination.

But here I am, opening Word and Spotify and getting a pot of tea ready, ignoring the kid who is asking me to get a knot out of a piece of string for him. I suck at that anyway, so he’s not really missing out on my mad string untying skillz. Maybe Dad can do it, I suggest . . . .

I have a book to edit.


Life goes on

I’ve been thinking a lot about the dead lately.

Not in a morbid way, honest. My dreams and nightmares are plenty morbid enough. Last night, I was living in a car with my family after we’d lost everything. My great uncle was alive but shuffling around in an overcrowded old mansion, piled high with junk. Everyone was overwhelmed with grief, slogging through it like it was a syrup. I stopped trying to fight it and just tried to keep my three small children clothed and to clean up after my cat, who had had kittens in the back seat of the car. Everything in my life narrowed down to trying to hold on to what little I had left.

With dreams like that, who needs more morbid thoughts, right?

But I have been thinking about the way we tend to think that life will not, in fact, go on without us.

For example, my own mother died when I was 16 and my sister was 9. I know that she felt it keenly that she was losing control of the future, that she wouldn’t be around to make sure that things happened the way she wanted them to happen.

Of course, twenty two years later, it’s pretty clear that life did go on after she died and a lot of things happened that she wouldn’t have been able to control, anyway. The future unfolds, with or without you. Your own individual contribution is important to the people around you, but they will continue to survive even if you’re not there. They don’t have much choice, do they?

My great aunt worked hard to try to make sure that her grandchildren would succeed in life. She passed away and they continued on with their lives, marriages and children, jobs and money, life and love. It’s not that she isn’t missed– I miss her terribly, so I can only imagine how much they miss her– but she had accomplished what she’d set out to do. They were able to go on without her.

I would hate to die anytime soon. I’ve got kids to watch as they grow up, possible future grandchildren to spoil, and a lot of writing left to do.

But it would be hubris to think that my kids wouldn’t go on without me. They’ll manage. They have to. Life is in them . . . that drive to love, succeed, procreate, that physical need to just keep breathing even when things suck.

We’ve all got that drive inside us, so we cling to life because we’re made that way. We’re not made with death in mind. A few tweaks to our telomeres, and we could theoretically go on forever.

But we won’t . . .

Such a wrong, isn’t it? Such a travesty . . . .

But it’s the reality that we have to deal with. And from watching what happens after others die, we can take a few notes and add them to our experiences.

There are things that will need to be managed. Email accounts that need to be purged, a Facebook page that needs to be shut down, and should my blog go on without me or should it be shuttered up and finalized somehow? These are decisions that are new to us, but they’re not much different in kind from stacks of old love letters tied up with ribbons. What do we do with those? Is it better to let the next generation sort those or to sort them now and deal with what they represent?

Why are these things important to us, anyway? Are they holding us to the past? Are they preventing us from having happiness now? Is there anything that will be relevant to others, or are our inboxes crammed with old hurts and soured emotions? Will someone read this and say “Boy, what a crummy life”? Or will they say “Wow, a nice letter. Must have been happy.”

I’m tempted, oddly enough, to go back to writing paper letters to the people I know. To make them happy letters, filled with concern and care and love. To make Christmas cards that are about something other than one-upmanship. To create more clutter in people’s lives, haha, just because I want them to know that they matter to me. I want them to know it tangibly. I want to leave some of my love for them in a way that they can point to and say, yes, this person cared about me.

It’s a ridiculous urge, isn’t it?

But fun . . . .

I think I need to work on my Christmas card list.

 


With a light heart

My older daughter and I did something today that has always been a gut-wrenching exercise for me; we sorted my books and (gasp! choke!) put three boxes worth into the “Get Rid Of” pile.

It was a lot easier this time.

I’m relieved that it was. Every other time that I’ve pared my library down, I’ve felt like each book we tossed was being yanked from my very soul. With hot pliers.

This time, I was reasonably able to decide which books should go and which books should stay without worrying over-much about the choice. Any book that I felt a genuine affection for, and which would be difficult to get again from a library or online, I kept. If any of us loved the book enough to read it to tatters, I kept it, too . . . so Harry Potter and the Harry Dresden books and other similar books all stayed with us, as well.

With a lot of the books in my collection, though, I just realized one or more of the following things: 1) I would never bother re-reading this book. 2) My to-read list is too long to re-read anything but the best, anyway, and this is just genre fiction. 3) None of my kids would probably ever read this book. 4) The information in this book is now easily available on the Internet. 5) The information in this book is outdated or unimportant. 6) If anyone ever does want to read this book, we can just check it out from the library.

There is some subtlety there– we kept 3 of the Little House on the Prairie books, one because my daughter loved the edition and two because we’re using them in the little boys’s homeschooling and need a copy that can get folded, spindled, and mutilated. The other Little House books? In the discard box. We can always check them out if the boys express a desire to finish the series. In the meantime, that’s half a dozen books that would be taking up space, time, and energy in storing and moving them. They were library discards anyway– we’re not talking valuable first editions, here.

One of the fun things about the unpacking, sorting, and repacking process was finding books that I hadn’t yet read, or books that I needed for the school year, or books I just wanted to have close to hand. We moved two boxes of books back into the household that way. At least a dozen of them were Top 100 novels I wanted to read for my list. I gave a half dozen of the universally acclaimed fantasy genre “greatest” books to my oldest son, since he’s just discovering the genre. I’ll never re-read them, but they’ll be all new to him.

I even sacrificed National Geographic magazines . . . I’m going to let the little boys use them to make collages this year. They’re too mutilated from being lugged across the country a dozen times to be fit for any other use– the covers are long gone and so are many of the pages.

I still have a lot of books, of course. There’s a dozen boxes left downstairs, plus the two boxes I moved into the household book collection, plus two bookshelves still set up in the house and mostly full of books. Three boxes of discards is a significant percentage of the whole, though. The books probably weigh well over a hundred pounds.

And getting rid of them has done nothing but lighten my load, mentally and physically and spiritually.

I’m glad that I finally figured out how to let things go.


Legacy

So, my exciting day was spent de-cluttering. Emptied out two “junk drawers”, one “junk basket”, the top shelves in my closet (all 25 feet of them), and the top of my bedroom bookshelf. My bedroom still looks disgusting, but there IS a significant improvement in the storage space.

I think that something “clicked” this month that never really had made sense before. I started thinking “What would my kids do if hubs and I died and left all this crap in the house?” I mean, seriously, we have the key to the garage of the house that we sold in 2004. I meant to send it to the new owners. Yeah, uh, 8 years ago . . . .

There’s a lot of junk left that was my mom’s stuff, too, stuff that makes no sense for me to keep since it’s neither sentimental nor fashionable. Some of it is crudely-made wooden shelves and clocks, done in an outdated “country” style that was really big in the ’80’s. There’s also a bunch of mutilated looking “antique” stuff that she either found in an old fallen-down barn or picked up in a yard sale . . . none of it really has any value since it’s in such poor shape. If there’s anything I’ve learned from “American Pickers”, it’s that stuff has to be in good shape to be worth anything. Sitting in my garage for 22 years has probably not helped their condition, but they were pretty junky when she picked them up.

I’ve picked up a lot of junk along the way, myself, stuff that isn’t valuable at all, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to let it swallow me alive. So I’ve begun trying to make our house a home that has “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

When I lose motivation, I watch an episode of “Hoarders” and suddenly I feel inspired.

Some things, I’ve decided to USE instead of simply letting it rot in a box somewhere. My great grandmother left me her collection of milk glass dishes. A couple of them didn’t make it through all our moves cross-country, but I probably have complete settings for 10 of  little coffee-cups and little plates suitable to have a slice of coffee cake or a couple hors d’oeuvres. Milk glass isn’t terribly valuable, especially the Depression-era stuff that my Mamaw collected, but it’s pretty and useful for . . . parties. I am finally done with buying cheesy paper plates and cups for birthday parties, saint’s days, and holidays. All I had to do was to bring out the white dishes I’d had stashed in my china cabinet for a couple decades and start using it.

The little boys love it. They call it “our party cups.”

Now, that  was worth hauling all that stuff around all these years.

But I’m trying to be serious about what I’m leaving to my kids. You never know when your number is up. So it makes sense to have all your ducks in a row (figuratively speaking. Ducks are never that orderly.)

I don’t have a single valuable item to pass down to my kids, so I don’t have to worry too much about making an elaborate will. In this economy, you have to make a choice between having lots of things or having lots of kids, and since I like kids, that was kind of a no-brainer. But families will hold grudges for CENTURIES over heirlooms that have no monetary value. My mom fought viciously with her sister over a turkey platter. I’m stuck with the darn thing now, since I can’t figure out how to safely ship it from here to Arizona. If I can find a way to pack it right, it’s headed your way Aunt S. I just would hate for UPS to shatter the thing NOW . . . after all these years of lugging it around the country.

What will my kids remember about me? That I loved rabbit figurines and little pretty boxes? That my Walt Disney World mugs were my favorite souvenirs? Who will want the milk glass and who would rather have the rocking chair? Who’s going to get stuck with making all the old pictures digital and then sending them to everyone? Is everything going to be cluttered and impossible and frustrating? Is it going to be moldy?

I’m going to give them a head start and make some of that dreadful work more bearable. It’s going to hurt . . . books will have to be disposed of, and I hate getting rid of books. But 20 boxes? Who are we kidding, here? No one’s going to read them all and the popular series books will be in all the libraries for years to come. Do I want my legacy to my children to be more misery when they’re wading through my junk?

I don’t want that. If they remember anything about me, I want them to remember love . . . not possessions.

That’s a legacy worth handing down.

 

 

 


Growing hurts

I was reading an article in one of the “parenting magazines” yesterday while I waited at my ob/gyn’s office. The article was discussing “growing pains” and the current idea that they’re not growing pains at all, but just muscle soreness and swelling due to over-activity. I can remember the pains quite clearly– they ruined many an evening of my childhood. Would it have mattered if they’d told me that they were just from too much running and playing instead of telling me that my legs ached because I was growing so fast? I think I prefer the old explanation. I liked the idea of growing up fast. I couldn’t wait to become an adult, to grow big and tall and get my own home and family. I didn’t care if it hurt.

This week contains the back-to-back birthdays of two of my middle kids. They’re 17 and 14 this year, but of course my 17 year old is still functioning in some areas like a 2 year old would. It’s bitter to watch her still refusing to be fully toilet trained. It’s exhausting to deal with her foibles, everything from showering her to shopping for her clothes takes so much effort. Her favorite pastimes are eating foreign objects, especially crayons and candles and rubbery electrical cords, and drawing bizarre cat faces on every door and wall in the house. Usually, she uses a Sharpie, because, although she’s autistic, she’s nobody’s fool. She knows that Sharpie doesn’t come off. She wants her freaky animals to STAY on the walls. It’s her house, after all. She’ll live here forever.

My 14 year old, blessedly, is moving in the opposite direction. It was a sort of natural progression this year. First, I took him to Target and let him pick out a wallet. Then we went to the Driver’s License place and got him an official state i.d. card. His other birthday presents are manly things, as well– sunglasses and a watch. He’s starting down that path to independence where he needs these accouterments. He’s still a kid, but the vistas are opening up for him; a little farther down the path and the i.d. card will turn into a driver’s permit, and then into a license. The wallet will fill with bank cards and cash from his future jobs. There’s a car somewhere in that future, and a college to be chosen, and (eventually) girls to be wooed and wed. If nothing horrible happens, he’ll be at that stage in another decade, with a bachelor’s degree and gainful employment.

Neither of their paths will be easy. My stepson just got his first full-time job. He’s been working off and on in part-time jobs for 8 years, and it’s gotten him exactly nowhere. The good job that he just started is the key to his future. We’re all praying and holding our breaths, hoping that he won’t mess it up. A full time job with a decent wage means he can move into his own place, buy himself a new car, and become a full-fledged adult. He’s going to hate working a regular job– who wouldn’t, after only working on weekends and 4 days a week for years? But he has to struggle through it, or he’ll be living in our house forever. And that’s not a good thing. That doesn’t have any kind of pain involved– we only charge him a pittance of rent, and it’s rarely collected in full. He sleeps all day and raids the fridge which we have so thoughtfully filled with food. Easy street.

Life involves change, though, or it isn’t living at all, but a sort of suspended animation.

My oldest daughter just decided what she wants to be when she grows up. It’s been a rough road for her, since she has artistic sensibilities but enough brains to know that painting pictures isn’t a feasible way to put food on the table. The career path that she’s chosen is a rough one, full of math and science, but at least she’s picked a road to follow. Next year, she’ll have to leave home to go to school if we haven’t moved to a town with a good university. More changes, more pain, but in the end there should be a reward.

I’ve had a rough week of it, but I think I am starting to come out of the paralyzed sort of grief. It occurred to me that, if no one wants to buy my novel after it’s done, I can always self-publish it. That was a revolutionary idea for my mind to process. I’m not at a dead end, but at a fork in the road. I just have to choose a path.

There’s no choices that I can make right now, though. I have to go buy a birthday cake and some cream to make fettuccine Alfredo, which is the boy’s favorite. Tomorrow, I can sit down with my manuscript and finish the chapter that I left dangling all those weeks ago. It’s the path that I’m going to choose to take. I’m not going to go back along the nursing road– there’s no happiness there for me. I only have one life to live, and I don’t want to spend it that way.

But today is a feast day, so I will spend it cooking highly fattening foods for my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Who wouldn’t be, when he’s so cheerfully growing up into a man and making his own, very important, choices?

 


Summer is coming . . . .

And I’ve got a new pet. Seriously, my husband should just not allow me to go to the feed store, because I WILL end up bringing home a new animal. This time, it was a little soot-black rabbit with gray paws and a half-lopped left ear.

I named him or her Murphy, because it looks like it was drop-kicked.

Actually, Murph is an adorable little animal and is rapidly becoming one of the most-petted rabbits in the world. The little boys adore the bunny and the youngest will quite happily stand and pet the rabbit until I force him to allow the little critter to hop back into his hidey-box. Many rapid trips have been made from the back porch to the garden, just to nab a piece of lettuce to cram into the rabbit’s cage.

Murphy is definitely a pet rabbit, not a farm rabbit.

Our immediate plans for farming have been put on a sort of hold as we try to adjust to hubs’s new job and our changed prospects. We’re keeping the garden going, since we didn’t want to lose an entire growing season just on possibilities that might never emerge. The garden is producing a LOT of food right now– more cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash than we can eat, plus green beans and chard, daikon radish and new potatoes. The tomatoes are just coming on, as are the okra. We’ll be up to our ears in corn soon, too. My biggest challenge is making sure it doesn’t all go to waste.

The summer brings the kids all home, and while we’re happy to have everyone close, it’s so easy to fall into a rut of boredom and video games. So we’re trying something new this year– we’ve got a list of 100 things we want to do over the course of the summer. The kids like having a list to check off, and I like having easy goals to meet. Seriously, what’s difficult about “Have a pillow fight” or “Have a movie night”? No-brainers.

My novel is behind schedule, simply due to the horrible week I’ve had. It’s hard to write when your pain level is this high– falling into that tub was very bad for my writing schedule! I’m hoping that I get things back on track when the pain subsides. A little bit of pain can be channeled into your characters. A lot just makes it impossible to sit still at the desk long enough to concentrate on a sentence.

So, we’ve got a plan, we’ve got supplies, we’ve got dreams, and we’ve got ambitions. Now, all we need to do is plunge into the summer with all the enthusiasm we can muster. We’ll need every scrap, because summer in Texas is a lot like winter in Winterfell— horrible, dangerous, and miserable. Except we’re roasting instead of freezing, and so far no one has tried to stab anyone in this House or drop small children out of windows.

Crossing my fingers that it stays true!


Many a slip . . .

So, today, I took the kids to the zoo, dropped by the pet store, bought the kids ice creams, and then tripped on a rubber duck and nearly bashed myself to death on the marble of my bathtub.

Baby chicks

But the new chicks are cute anyway.

Luckily, my left elbow and left knee took the brunt of the impact, instead of my poor cranium, so I have lived to tell the tale and to face another day.

This hasn’t been my week for physical ailments, though. I already have a mild case of shingles that’s inflamed one of my spinal nerves (and ticked off the other ones pretty well, too.) The impact into the tub gave my spine an unneeded jarring. I have a feeling that my old friend Pain and I will be very close for the rest of this week.

Life’s always like that, though, isn’t it? Just when you think that things are already going pretty badly, you stumble into something bigger and badder than the previous cause of your self-pity. (And trust me, I was feeling significant self pity as I soaked in the bathtub, nursing my new bruises.) You never know what’s going to happen next.

I’ve almost given up on being surprised by things. Today, my oldest daughter and I had a lovely plan to take the little boys to the zoo for a leisurely stroll and then some snacks. My handicapped daughter’s school called, just as I was getting ready to leave the house. Indy was rubbing her runny nose and then touching the other children, some of whom have delicate immune systems. Could we please come and get her?

I’m thinking Comeon, there’s four freaking days left of school, can’t you manage to deal with her for four days? I’ll be stuck with her all summer since you jerks weaseled out of providing summer services. What I said was “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” No sense getting all hot and bothered about it. I didn’t even let myself fantasize about public hangings for the school nurse, whomever she is.

The boys were looking forward to their first trip to the zoo since last fall, so I decided to plunge on anyway. So things would be more difficult, so what? I can handle difficult, can’t I?

And things were okay. Not the greatest zoo trip in the world, but we saw some animals and then we had ice creams so it wasn’t the worst trip, either. That’s one good thing about having an annual family membership– if things start to suck, you can leave and come back another day. It got pretty hot, so we dodged out after only seeing half the zoo. We’ll probably go back this weekend and do the other half. Hakuna matata, as the kids would say (after repeated brutal viewings of “The Lion King 1 1/2” which we don’t own but have checked out of the library twice.)

In a lot of ways, we’re not a very “lucky” family. The chances of having an autistic daughter are pretty low, but we hit that lotto anyway. We’re prone to appliance failures and the children vomit quite a bit more than any parenting book ever led me to suspect was normal. But, even when things get really crappy and we’re wondering where the money’s going to come from to fix the air conditioner or how we’re ever going to be able to make it to some appointment in a distant city, something comes along that makes it possible. And we scrape along, not elegantly but at least intact and (somewhat) sane.

When I was a young mother, I was a control freak. I had to be in charge of everything . . . EVERYTHING . . . to do with the kids. My poor husband wasn’t allowed to even feed the babies, lest he do it wrong and they choke to death and fifteen other improbable perilous outcomes. Now, I’m getting more used to the idea that I’m not really in charge of much. Things are going to go wrong, there will be LOTS of vomit, and the upholstery of the car is irredeemably screwed. But oh well. My skull is intact, the basket of rubber duckies has been re-located to a less trippable position, and I’ll live to fight another day.

It’s all I can ask for.