Monday, January 27, 2014

Nine Differences Between Parenting Children and Teenagers

My kids are almost all grown. In fact, by the end of the summer, I’ll only have one who’s still a teenager, so I thought I’d share the differences and similarities between parenting little ones and teenagers.

1. You still say, “It’s bedtime.” And you still do the happy dance when you say it. But now it means “Dad and I are going to sleep, don’t burn down the house,” instead of “Let’s get the little ones to bed and have a glass of wine.”

2. Instead of saying, “Eat your dinner,” you say, “You ate all the (fill in the blank)? We were going to eat that for dinner.”

3. You still say, “Enough with the computer games.” Actually, there’s no difference with this one.

4. Instead of you saying, “You’re not wearing that.” Your teenagers say, “Mom, you’re not wearing that." (BTW, there’s nothing wrong with mom jeans, just saying.)

5. Instead of your kids waking you at 5am, you shake them and say, “I don’t care if it’s Saturday—it’s noon, get up and eat breakfast.” (And they seem to miss the correlation between number one and number five.)

6. “Be careful” used to mean “don’t fall off the swing.” Now it means, “you will be hurtling in a 4000 lbs metal conveyance along the highway at 65 mph per hour with all your siblings in the car—BE CAREFUL!”

7. You used to carefully consider whether a particular movie would be too scary for the kids. Now when your son asks you to watch the latest sci-fi flick, you say, “Will this give me nightmares?”

8. “Let me help you tie your shoe” becomes “Uh, can you help me synch my Kindle with my phone?”
    9.  And I love you still means I love you, only more.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Filthy Windows

This morning my husband and I were eating breakfast and the sun was streaming through the living room windows. Calvin said, “Wow, the windows are filthy.” I looked. “Yeah, they are.”

Then he laughed and said, “We haven’t cleaned those windows in years.”

I said, “You’re right, we haven’t. But I have.”

Cal disbelieving, “You stand on the porch and clean the massive windows?”

Me, disbelieving his disbelief, “On a fairly frequent basis.”

Cal, “When do you do it?”

Me, “When you’re not here, obviously.”

Now I’m pondering making a list of everything I do during the day. How the laundry gets magically cleaned, folded/ironed, and put away. How the walls get washed. How the baseboards stay magically white, etc. It reminds me of the “self-cleaning fireplace” Cal used to think we have.

Coolest thing. My husband is now getting the window cleaner and rags. J

Friday, January 17, 2014

Paris Watercolor

When people visit our home for the first time, they often see all the watercolor paintings on the wall and they say to me, "Your paintings are so beautiful." And then, I have to say, "I didn't paint them." They blink and say, "Oh." Then I smile and say, "My husband Calvin painted them." The usual response at that point is a frown of disbelief until they squint and read Calvin's signature on the bottom.

I guess Cal doesn't quite seem the artist type. He's tall, broad and has a strong personality. He doesn't seem the type to hunch over a watercolor block with a tiny brush in his hand. But he is.

This December, we had a stay-cation and Cal painted me a watercolor of our trip to Paris. (I always hesitate to post photos of his watercolors because I have a cheap camera and richness of the colors and the details of painting don't come through. But I can't resist.)

So here is Rue Galande, Paris.

This is very near the apartment where we stayed
in the Latin Quarter.
 Here's a link to another of Calvin's watercolors.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Does Our Guinea Pig Need A Therapist?

Years ago when I lived in Northern California, a woman I knew took her dog to a therapist. Apparently, the dog had emotional “issues,” and she believed a dog therapist would help. (Let’s be clear, this was not an abused animal.) In any case, my thought was that her money would be better spent on a dog trainer. Years later, I understand what drove her to it.

This past summer, my son bought a guinea pig. Matthew has cared for pets for years. (He is the owner of the resurrection hamster.) And he’s a responsible, nurturing pet owner who is studying biology in college and wants to be a vet. In preparation for the GP, Matt read and memorized every book our library had on guinea pigs. So he is the ideal guinea pig owner. However, someone forgot to tell Charlie the Guinea Pig that.

Charlie is skittish. Months of patient guinea pig care, along with treats, proper exercise, guinea pig toys, and meticulous pen care haven’t phased Charlie. He still acts like we’re going to eat him for dinner.

When we come into the room where he resides, he scrambles for his igloo (the newest in small animal nesting places). Then, he plays dead in the igloo. Sometimes we can tempt him out with bits of carrot, his favorite food. But other times, he glares at us with beady eyes.

So I can understand why someone would take a pet to a therapist. Obviously, Charlie must have a personality disorder. After all, guinea pigs are supposed to be very social, loving creatures. And Charlie isn’t.

Of course, one other thought did occur to me. Maybe Charlie is just really, really dumb. Maybe he doesn’t realize that the hand that feeds and cares for him belongs to Matthew. Maybe he hasn’t figured out that greeting the “master” with chirps and squeaks would garner him more treats than hanging out in his igloo.

Or maybe, it’s the igloo… When Matt bought a GP igloo, the only color he could find was pink. And Charlie is a boy. So maybe he’s punishing Matt for buying him a pink igloo. Yeah, that’s probably it. I guess we’ll have to buy a blue one.

Wait, aren’t GPs color-blind? I guess we need to make a therapist appointment after all.

Charlie in one of his rare trips outside the pink igloo.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Headhunter's Race

Today, I have the privilege of hosting Kimberly Afe, author of The Headhunter's Race, which was released January 3. I'm reading it right now and really enjoying it! Below is the novel's blurb and an excerpt. (Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for purchase information, Kimberly Afe's social media links, and a chance to win an e-copy of The Headhunter's Race and other swag on Rafflecopter.)

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Avene was sentenced to prison at thirteen for a crime she didn't commit. Now she has a chance to win her freedom back – if she enters the Headhunters Race. Second prize isn't so bad either, an upgrade to the Leisure Prison if you make it to the finish line. To win either prize, Avene and the other prisoners must navigate one hundred and fifty miles of dense forest, desert, and worst of all, cannibal territory.

 With a mechanical collar timed to strangle the prisoners if they're not back in nine days, Avene allies herself with seventeen-year-old McCoy, another prisoner that insists on helping her at every turn and a boy she's trying hard not to fall for. Together they battle nature, other prisoners, and the timed death collars to win the coveted prize. But when Avene is tested with one deadly conflict after another, she realizes there is more at stake than winning her freedom – first she has to survive.

Excerpt from The Headhunters Race

This excerpt is from the day the race starts and Avene is getting ready.

Hours later, when the birds start chirping, I know it's almost time to wake up. I get out of bed and change into my special clothes. The ones I've been saving for this day: a sturdy pair of jeans and a man's blue flannel shirt. Underneath I wear my white fitted tee-shirt, depicting a crudely drawn skull. I added the crossbones bearing a set of daggers with a nearly dried-up marker I found a year ago. It represents my mantra for the race: stay away from me or I'll kill you.

I tie my sheath around my thigh, re-lace my boots with longer and sturdier cord I found on a pair of men's boots in the goodie two shoes clothing pile, and then gulp down several handfuls of water. I wipe the droplets from my mouth while I pace like a caged panther. A few minutes later I slug down another five handfuls before I remember to fill my water bottle.

Zita leans up on her elbow. "You're sure you want to do this?"

"I have to, Zita. It's our only way out. The only way we'll be free."

She throws off her cover and leaps to her feet. "Well, we better do something with that hair. They'll start calling the prisoners out soon."

Zita snatches our slop container from the table. She fills it with dirt from the corner and mixes in a bit of water. "I'm not sure how well this will work," she says, stirring it with her finger. "Sit."

I sit on the ground cross-legged at her feet. She kneels beside me, takes a small lock of hair, and rubs mud all through the strands. The stringy tresses stick together, cold and wet against my cheek. After one side of my head is finished, she steps back and surveys her work. "Nope, this isn't working. Your roots are still too light."

"Why don't you wash her whole head in it?" says McCoy.

I stiffen. Leave it to him to think of dunking my whole head in mud.

"You're a genius!" says Zita. She grabs my arm and pulls me to my feet. "Help me," she says to McCoy and I cringe at the thought of him touching my head when I'm a direct competitor. He might send his ninja blade across my neck.

He grabs the sink, half full of water, water I need to drink, and dumps three quarters of it into the corner. "Hey, I need to drink that!" I say.

"You can drink ours," says McCoy.

Right. I'm not going to drink theirs. He'd love that. Especially now that he's going to have to hunt on his own and the only way he knows how is by poaching off me.

Zita stops short of pouring in handfuls of dirt. Instead she goes to the fire pit and scoops out gobs of ash. She swishes it around with her fingers, stares at it like she's not satisfied, and goes ahead and dumps in a handful of dirt anyway. "Okay, bend over, girl."

I lean over the sink while Zita pours the murky mixture over my hair and massages it in. It's gritty and gross.

"Hand me that old shirt in the corner," says Zita.

I'm looking upside down at McCoy while he retrieves the old shirt she uses as her dust rag. She wrings out my hair and then places the shirt over top and squeezes out the excess water. "I wish I had a comb," she says, flipping my head up and steering my behind back to the ground.

"It's okay, I can use my fingers," I say.

McCoy dashes into their room. "Boom has one, hold on."

I lean my head back in defeat. He's determined to help me, to make me feel obligated to help him in return, but his niceties aren't going to work on me.

Author Bio
Kimberly is the mother of two awesome kids, wife of the nicest man in the world, and her dog's best friend. She works by day and writes middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy novels in her spare time. She lives with her family in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

Social Sites

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Raindrops on Roses

Raindrops on roses are gorgeous. Whiskers on kittens are cute. I do like bright copper kettles…and snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. But amongst my favorite of favorite things is hot tubbing in the snow.

Yesterday, snow flurries started and Cal turned on the hot tub heater. He knows there are few things I love as much as soaking in steamy water while watching snowflakes swirl in the brisk, freezing air.

So, Cal, the boys, and I soaked and watched the snow. Bliss.

Perfect beginning to the new year.