Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can I Get a Spleen?

The kiddo was gazing at me as I helped him with his shirt, so I asked him what was up. "Oh, nothing," he said. "I just love you." Ah, sweetie, I said, I love you with my whole heart. "Yeah," he said, "and I love you with my whole lungs."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Youth Is Wasted

I mean...youth is wasted on the young. Yes, that's what I meant.

Just got off the phone with a new client who has a New Age book for me to edit. I asked who her audience is, and she said, "Women from ages twenty-five to fifty who want to bring their lives to a higher level." I told her I'm forty, so I fit right into that range, and she was surprised. She'd thought I sounded twenty-two. ????

I told her I'd take that as a compliment, but I also wonder if my voice/appearance (not that I look twenty-two! I just wear sweats and baseball hats a little too often) is slightly detrimental to me professionally. Hmm. Sure, I'd like to look young all my life, but I wonder if people hear my voice on the phone and wonder if I'm old enough (i.e., mature enough) to manage their projects. Hmm again.

Maybe I need to talk lower. ;^)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em

You know, if you've never been sprayed by mashed-potato-and-apple-juice barf by a coughing, runny-nosed kid in a grocery store parking lot, well, you just haven't lived.

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Curbin' the Cussin'

A couple of weeks ago, I took the kiddo to a production of A Little Princess, which my brother's girlfriend adapted, scored, cast and directed. We were very excited about going, and I had looked up the directions to the theater on Mapquest. Naturally Mapquest told me to go south instead of north at one point, and we wound up lost. As I tensely drove around, looking for a turnaround point on the winding road, and doubting all subsequent directions, I repeatedly uttered one word: crap.

"That's a bad word," the kiddo helpfully pointed out. True, I said, and asked if he knew what it meant.

"Yeah, Daddy already told me all about that. He said it comes from a man named Crapper."

Well, alrighty.

"Can I say it?" he asked. Um, no, it's not really a good idea for kids to say that, I said.

The kiddo thought for a moment, then asked, "Can I say this word then? Dagnabbit!" as he pumped his fist and scowled.

After laughing for a minute, I consented, and drove my little 1890s prospector to the show.

Friday, November 17, 2006

No One Said "Pretty Funny"

Today when I volunteered at school, I brought little round stickers for the kids, who got the bright idea to put them on their foreheads bindi-style after one little girl did so -- too funny to see half the kindergartners very seriously going about their work with stickered foreheads. I learned very quickly that it's a major time-waster to allow children to choose their own stickers, since they're little shoppers and have to look at every single freaking one and decide if it's worth taking one that might turn out to be a smidge less groovy than another sticker, so I kept the sticker page face down and chose for them. Just for fun, I ran a little experiment and asked each kid, "Do you want a funny one or a pretty one?" They didn't see the stickers before answering the question; all of the stickers showed pictures of cartoon bugs and none were overtly funny or pretty -- just cute. Anyway, 100% of the boys chose funny, and 100% of the girls chose pretty. I hadn't expected the boys to choose pretty, although they could have and that would've been cool; however, I was surprised that absolutely no girls chose funny. Next time I'm going to choose two adjectives that are a little more similar and less gender-biased (so "pretty" is out), like "funny" and "strange" or "special" and "cool" or something like that -- all for my own amusement, of course. ;-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's Editing -- Not Magic

Ugh. I just got an email from a student, saying she'd been unhappy with my editing because her text was still awkward, in her opinion. She did acknowledge that she'd rushed me on the project; I agreed with that and reminded her that I'd asked her to return the paper to me after her advisor reads it, so I can re-edit it as many times as needed until she and her advisor are happy with it.

But I find myself wondering if I'm doing a crummy job, or if some people just expect miracles. I lean toward the latter, naturally. Obviously I can't completely rewrite people's papers for ethical and practical reasons, and a writer's voice will have to prevail if the advisor is going to accept the work and not think the student paid someone to write the thing. I'm perplexed and a bit annoyed, because this student specifically asked me to edit her paper in much less time than I'd otherwise spend on it (a couple of days for a 112-page dissertation, when normally I'd allow about a week), and because I told her when I sent the work back that it would require at least another edit, for which I would not charge! I specifically said that all revisions/re-edits are included in the original price quote. So now she tells me that she had to make additional changes to her paper because it hadn't seemed changed "that much" after I got through with it and she "couldn't send it to [her] advisor that way." Huh? I thought it was a well written paper and I understood it just fine.

Unhappy clients aren't the norm, and although I want to learn from criticism and fix any problems with my work, I hadn't thought my work was problematic in this case, so the disconnect bugs me.

Okay, I'm done now. More work awaits.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Golly, I Love Parentheses

Ah, the wee one returned this morning with his cold (still) and a humidifier, the latter courtesy of his dad, who'd offered, so I accepted. Our upstairs is rather small and consists of two bedrooms joined by a bathroom, so after our vaporizer died last year I just ran the shower on straight hot if I ever wanted the moisten the air upstairs, and that worked great. It's nice to have the new machine, though, especially if we want to put it downstairs. I must admit, although the water level seems to be lower than it was a few hours ago, I don't directly notice a difference in the air, like I did when I used the shower to steam the place up, but I have to assume that the water is going somewhere. (It's not leaking into the rug; I checked.)

So now the humidifier is running and the wee one is sleeping, although he awoke around 2:00 and has had a little trouble falling back to sleep. He told me, half-asleep, that he was "feeling needy." When I asked why, he said he'd had a scary dream. Poor thing. (A few minutes ago, he called me in again to tell me he was sad, and I promised him he would feel much happier in the morning. Ah, to be able to promise such a thing and know the universe will make good on it.) Earlier today he floored me by using almost all of his weekly school vocabulary words in one sentence when he said something like, "Mommy, sometimes you have a peculiar expression, but I always see a glimmer in your eyes..." I don't remember the other two words; I was laughing too darned hard after the first three. He delights me so.

My head is still somewhat full of snot, although less so than yesterday, and hey, a little progress is all one can ask for sometimes. Since I forgot to change my voter registration in time and am still registered at my parents' address, and because there are some propositions that I feel particularly strong about, tomorrow I will make the gigantic drive to my folks' neighborhood after school to vote and say hi to my parents. I predict that the kiddo and I will be greeted uncomfortably, as we are germ bearers and my dad doesn't handle germs well (he has only one semi-good ear and tries desperately to avoid getting colds that will stop up that ear), so we won't stay long. It's just as well, as I want to get the kiddo into bed tomorrow night as close to the regular time as possible. Last night (tonight?) I put him down about half an hour early and he fell asleep; I'm guessing he needed it after staying up a little late at his dad's house. Now we're back to Mommy's draconian schedule. (Insert evil cackle here.)

Speaking of which, I need to try to get back to sleep. Maybe I'll break down and have half a dose of Nyquil. I'd been trying to manage this cold unmedicated, but we have a full day ahead tomorrow. Hmm. Must think about that. Must also tear myself away from the computer before I start to actually do real work in the middle of the night. Trying to break that habit. Argh.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Gem of a Day

Well, the jaw thing fixed itself, and now I have a cold. I'd sort of expected it, as my son has been sick for a while now. Luckily, the version I have seems to be short-lived and I'm much improved today after the sudden onset on Friday night.

On Thursday I volunteered all day at my son's school as usual and had an awesome day. I just felt like things were flowing and, well, good. First, when I went to the office to sign in and pick up my volunteer badge, the office administrator didn't even get up. "Come on back and grab a badge," she said, smiling. "Heck, you're a regular!" That just tickled me so much.

Then the kids had an assembly in which certain "star students" received a certificate and a bumper sticker ("My kid is a Star Student at ___________!" A mom friend called me over to sit next to her. I did, and noticed a first-grade girl was weeping and kept looking back at the auditorium door. No one was comforting her, so after a couple more heartbreaking minutes of watching her look back at the door and dissolve into tears again, I went over and sat on the floor behind her. Frankly, I wasn't sure if that was "okay" with the teacher (I thought I might be seen as meddling), but I went with my instincts. The girl didn't want to say what was wrong, but when I asked if she was expecting her mom, she nodded and cried more, so I rubbed her back a little bit and told her I was sure her mom was trying to get there. Her friend sitting next to her patted her on the back, too. She was SO SAD I felt like crying. In that moment, I could feel what it must be like from the mother's perspective (doing her best to get there, or being overwhelmed and forgetting, and missing her kid's special moment) and the child's perspective (aware that she might remember this for a long time), and I felt bad for both of them. After some singing, the teacher in charge announced the awards, and this girl got an award. I happened to have my camera in my purse from Halloween (thank goodness I don't clean out my purse much!), so when she went up to get her award, I took her picture and will give it to her teacher next week to give to her mom. When she came back to her spot, I congratulated her and told her I'd taken her picture for her mom, and she seemed pleased with that. After receiving her award, she seemed to be participating in the singing and not crying much, if at all. When the assembly was over we all got up and she smiled at me. I couldn't exactly fix the situation, but I felt like I had made a positive difference.

The other awesome thing that happened at school was when I was testing the kids on their letters. I tested D., who had not been able to move past the first list of letters for weeks...and he got through the whole first list! I told him several times I was so proud of him and acted all silly and whatnot, and he was grinning from ear to ear. This kid wears glasses, but has a little nose and little ears and not much for the glasses to hold onto, so they're always crooked, and I have a special place in my heart for him. He was so cute and proud and happy that he told the teacher he'd passed the pink list, and she was appropriately happy, too.

On top of that, I got a few spontaneous hugs from some of the kids, which always makes my day just that much more special. Oh, and I took my son to the doctor on Thursday evening because he'd been saying his ear was hurting all day, and it turned out that he was fine. His ears were great and his lungs (he'd had a cough) were great, and the pain was being caused by the emergence of his sixth-year molars. Apparently because of the way the nerves are connected, the pain is referenced to the ear, and all I had to give him was plain old Tylenol. Yay!

Like I said, it was an awesome day -- the kind I want to put in my pocket and carry around for a long time. :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tessy + Tab = Fab!

A very smart and creative friend of mine has come out with a magazine for preschoolers that looks so fantastic I wish I'd thought of it! Since I didn't, I'll have to settle for passing the information along to other moms with young kids. Please visit her site and enjoy! :-)


The Tessy & Tab Reading Club is a twice-monthly magazine for preschoolers.

It's exciting...
New issues come twice a month addressed directly to the child -- they know it is just for them and will want to check the mail to see if their next issue has arrived.

It's easy...
The pictures are bright and easy to understand and the stories in each issue are based on familiar preschooler experiences so they relate to the characters and stories.

It's rewarding...
Getting preschoolers in the habit of "reading" the story all by themselves by telling you (or maybe their siblings) what they see happening in the pictures builds their self-confidence.

It's fun...
Kids will be proud of their collection of issues and love to read (and reread) them to their friends and family.

To learn more about the magazine and to subscribe using the special Friends discount, please go to the Tessy & Tab Web site, enter TJM806 in the Source code box at the top of the Subscribe page, and you'll get the special price of $19.95 for a 1 year (24 issues) subscription. Sign up your own kids, nieces, nephews, and any children who you know would love this fun reading gift! And feel free to pass the special along to your friends!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Mom, Writer, Activist, Educator

After This, I Promise to Stop Whining

Well, the jaw is a tiny bit better this morning, but not completely back to normal. So weird!!! I really thought it would have improved more. When I first woke up, I still couldn't get my molars to touch, but now (about three hours after waking), having chewed, spoken and sneezed once (all count as jaw exercise, IMO!), I can touch together the molars on the right side, but still not the left. I suspect it could be muscular and not bone-related, because the jaw muscle on the left side still feels really tight and weirdly inoperative in a way, in that I can't make it clench, even if I wanted to force that side down. I posted my complaint on a mailing list that I've been part of since the mid-nineties, and the nice people there, as well as Mary from Owlhaven, had great suggestions for muscle relaxants and other-than-Tylenol meds, as well as a mouthpiece for sleeping. I honestly didn't know Tylenol was so inadequate! I think the only ibuprofen I have in the house is my son's kiddie version, so I'll have to hit the store or take a mega-dose of the children's liquid stuff. I do have Aleve, so maybe I'll read the warnings on that and take some. Hmm.

I think what bothers me even more than the actual condition is not knowing precisely how it happened, and not knowing when exactly things will be right again. If I could point to a specific moment or injury as the cause, I would at least be able to avoid repeating this. Nevertheless, the fact that the condition has improved, however slightly, since last night gives me hope that my jaw will be back to normal within a day or few, and that feels pretty good.

Probably I'll have to get a mouthpiece, and I may have to get one for the kiddo as well, as he grinds his teeth when he sleeps, several times a week. Really, though, this has been the darnedest thing. My jaw has occasionally needed to click or crack in order to free it up (not often, but it has been known to happen), but the condition has never lasted more than a couple of hours. I'm glad my speech isn't affected, as I'm volunteering at school tomorrow and need to talk all day.

Okay, now I'm going to stop obsessively working my jaw and give it a rest. Maybe that'll help, too.

A Little of This

Okay, it's the middle of the night and I'm going to complain for a minute. Sometime around 3:00 this afternoon, as I was trying to pull together my son's costume, my jaw became misaligned. I was stressed out, and was probably clenching it weird or sneezed too much (the kiddo and I have both been sneezing) or something, and although this has happened mildly in the past, it's never been this extreme or lasted more than an hour or two. I thought maybe if I just went to sleep, it would sort itself out, but now I'm awake again and it's still messed up. Frankly, I'm a little freaked out. I can't get my molars to touch at all, no matter how much I wiggle my jaw around, and chewing is kind of difficult. If I were a more patient person, I'd probably think nothing of it and assume it'll get better in a day or two. Actually, I keep telling myself that, but this is really bothering me! I think I'm going to take some Tylenol and see if it reduces any inflammation present so I can get the darned thing back on track. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I'll be over here, working my jaw and freaking out.


In other news, my son's dad and I took the kiddo trick-or-treating tonight at the mall, as has been our custom since we moved here. The kiddo reeeeally wanted to be a ghost, and of course I couldn't just leave that alone, so I bought him a St. Louis Cardinals hat and ironed letters for "TEAM SPIRIT" onto the front of his sheet. Get it? ;^) It was convenient that the Cardinals won the Series, as they're my son's dad's team (since he's from Missouri) and the kiddo knows it, so everyone was happy. Although my son's dad and I alternate holidays and Halloween was technically "his" this year, he told me months ago that I could have it, but I invited him to come along, just as I've done in the past. The kiddo likes it, and I feel better about including my son's dad, since I know I would feel pretty crummy if I missed out on seeing the kiddo in his costume each year. I honestly don't know if my son's dad would invite me to trick-or-treat on "his" Halloween, as he doesn't invite me to things on "his" time (major disparity between us), so I guess we'll see what happens in 2008. This court-mandated schedule is hard sometimes. *sigh*

Anyway, the kiddo had fun collecting candy and trying to see out of the big eye holes I made in his costume. Who knew the sheet would slip aound so much and require constant adjustments? If I had it to do over, I'd just make one big hole for his face. Live and learn. After we were finished, we had dinner together and the kiddo ate several pieces of candy. I'm surprised that he fell asleep at a reasonable time tonight, to tell you the truth, but after waking up once to collect me from the couch, he's back to sleeping like a baby.

Now I'm off. Tylenol, then (I hope) sleep. Wish me luck.