Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Writer

I don't know, exactly, when David became a writer. Maybe he was born that way. I, however, didn't meet him until he was four years old. I do know that, by four, he was already a writer.
Don't get me wrong, he could neither read nor write by the age of four, but he had stories in his head, and he could dictate. Dictate is what he did - for hours and hours and hours.
At that time I was working as a nanny for the Pedigo family. David, as I said, was four, and his brother Jonathan was eight months old. My son, Steven, was eight months old as well, and I spent my days learning and growing with these three little boys.
I must admit that Steven and Jonathan learned early independence and developed a keen sense of mischief because much of my time was spent transcribing the stories that flowed out of young David's mind. I dare say that, at four, David was more prolific and more productive than Eliot, Hemingway or King. He had no distractions, no responsibilities, no burdens and no other focus. Every event in his life became a story, and he had a natural love for experiencing his words on paper.
So, for years, while Steven and Jonathan poured water into vents, peeled wallpaper off of walls, destroyed Lego masterpieces, and mixed potions in the toilet, David dictated and I recorded his words. 
Those words were put into a file, and now, seventeen years later, they still exist. The words of four year old David did not dissipate into the wind, they exist, and always will exist, because David is a writer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lazy Excuse

"The only advantage of not being too good a housekeeper is that your guests are so pleased to feel how very much better they are."
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Thank You Eleanor.  Reading the words above made me realize that the sight of my living room does not have to be a source of embarrassment but.  Instead, with great pride, I will view it as a gift to other homemakers.  You see, anyone who visits my house is bound to feel better about their own house and their own housekeeping skills.  All this time I have viewed myself as lazy and unworthy - when, in reality, I m acting in a selfless manner- helping the housekeepers of the world.

Think about it.  When you visit a home that is clean, organized and inviting, does it make you feel good about yourself?  No - it makes you feel inferior.  It fills your mind with visions of closet organizers, vacuum cleaners and windex.  It makes you feel like moving furniture and shaking out rugs.  That is a BAD state of mind.

On the other hand, when you see baskets of clothes waiting to be put away, dishes in the sink, toys scattered across the floor and various papers covering every surface, it makes you feel great about your own house. I mean, when you sit on a chair only to find a TV controller sticking into your butt,  it makes you feel like you actually could invite people over without a two week notice.  And, be honest, when you see something really disgusting - like a dead mouse or an old soiled diaper on the floor - it makes you feel like Martha Stewart.

So, even though I could put that pile of clothes in the drawers or sort through the jumbled papers and file them away, I wont.  I mean, while I had planned to clean litter boxes, sweep floors, wash dishes and pull weeds - I think I will play a little Farmville instead.  I will do this for you.

I would never want to make anyone feel substandard.  It would hurt me deeply to know that I had caused another human being to think they needed to work harder than they already do.  My goal is bring a sense of pride to others, no matter what housekeeping level they have achieved.

So, I make this promise to you.  The next time you come to my house, it will make you experience so much pride in your own house that you will want to come back again and again.  I am giving up the little bit of housework I currently maintain.  I do this as a gift to you.

You're Welcome!

(I bet if I give up showering and teeth brushing I could encourage even more people's self-esteem - something to consider, ay?)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sorry

This is an apology, to you, my avid readers. You see, when I got this offer for this magazine print half of my story, I caught the publishing bug.

After receiving that awesome e-mail, I received a collection of emails saying that they liked the story, but it had been previously published. On the blog. The blog that is read by my mother, my husband, my great aunt, my three friends and my two acquaintances. The sad part is that my own son is not interested in reading my blog, and one of my regular readers, my husband, only reads it because I said I would beat him up if he didn't.  I explained all of that, but, apparently, published is published.

So, its not that I stopped writing. Its just that I stopped writing for the blog. The reason - I don't want to inadvertently publish anything that shows promise. So, I can only put the sucky writing on the blog, and I haven't come up wit anything sucky lately (except for this, of course).  Sorry.

I am working on things, and I am itching to post them and get your feedback. In fact, I started a young adult novel - but I can't tell you anything about it on this public forum. If you are really interested, though, send me your private e-mail. I would love to hear what you think.

So you know - I'm not ditching you for the far more glamorous and far more critical publishers. I just need to find a balance. I am working on it.

Thanks.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fame!!!

If you want to see my name in lights, go to:
http://www.clevermag.com/

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Smile Practice




"Everybody can see my eyes except for me."


Marko - 4 years old

I heard the above quote recently, and I found it to be brilliant, magnificent and thought provoking.  My immediate reaction was that the genius behind this idea must be equal to the likes of Einstein, Newton and Da Vinci.  As it turned out, it was my own son who had said this over dinner.  Were you aware that mental capacity and IQ is always inherited maternally?  Studies have shown that there is no connection whatsoever between a man's brain and his sperm - therefore children's capacity for intelligent thought comes through the mother's genes only.  It's true - look it up.

I'm going to take that profound idea, and take it one step further.  Everybody can see my
 face except for me.  This idea made me start wondering what I look like to other people.  When I look in the mirror I look like a nice person who is pretty darn cute for her age.  But, what Marko said made me realize that I have never seen my actual face - the mirror is a reflection of my face.  Plus, when I look in the mirror, I always know I'm looking, so I make a point of looking nice.  Now, I don't know about you, but I often look at people when they don't know I'm looking - so it would be sensible to think that people look at me when I don't know they're looking.  That means that people are looking at me when I'm not making an effort to look like I'm nice.

You are probably thinking that I am spending way too much time thinking about something so stupid, and you might be right. Before you pass judgment, I think it is finally time for me to reveal some very secret and highly dangerous aspects of my life.  I only hope that, in sharing my story, I will not be putting you into mortal danger.  If you value your life, you may want to stop reading right now and forget you ever heard of The Fat Lazy Soccer Mom.  I won’t blame you.

For those of you willing to take this risk - I am finally ready to confide in you and you alone.  Just please, for both of our sakes, never repeat what I am about to tell you to anyone - not to your spouse, your children, your mother or your closest friend.  Most importantly, for your safety as well as mine, swear you will not breathe a word of this to a very tall limping man who is dressed all in black and has six fingers on one hand.

You see, when I was a
 very young child I witnessed an elusive mafia boss commit a heinous crime. This vicious criminal had been able to evade the great Detective Dave Diamond for over a decade.   Even though I was very young I was the only living person able to give an eyewitness account and a positive I.D.  I testified in court, putting this major mobster behind bars for a sentence of one hundred years.  I was then placed in the witness protection program, hidden for the rest of my life from extremely dangerous Sicilians who want me dead.  I am sure you are all intrigued, but unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy and cannot give you any more details.  In fact, what little I have said here could put me in a great danger. If this gets into the hands of the wrong people - a certain Organized Crime Ring from Chicago could make a major comeback. Still, I felt I needed to tell you this in order for you to understand the rest of my story.

I am sure you have already figured out that it was imperative that no one be allowed to take pictures of me. Because I had single-handedly exposed the Cosa Nostra they, obviously, put out a hit on me.  Pictures of me were worth millions of dollars because they would reveal my whereabouts.  I was taught, therefore, to avoid being photographed at all costs, and, as a last resort, to make a really stupid face if I couldn't avoid a camera.

While a picture is like a mirror in that it is just an image of a face and not a real face - I have never had a picture taken that is a true representation of what others see when they look at me.  The few photos that exist always show me making a really stupid face:


See what I mean?

We members of The Witness Protection Program have no real idea what we look like.  This is just one sad reality that must co-exist with a life of covertness and peril.

I know I am asking too much by putting all of this responsibility on your shoulders - but I'm afraid there's more:

I have never wanted my children to be nervous that bounty hunters might still be after me, so I never told them about my history.  I could never tell my husband because he is too simple minded to be trusted. They only know that I would rather be the one taking the pictures than be the one in the pictures.  That is why I cannot blame my son for taking a series of candid shots of me when I wasn't paying attention.  He was not aware that he was putting all of our lives in danger.

When I saw these pictures - the only undisguised photos of myself in existence - I noticed something very disturbing.  In each and every picture, I am frowning.  Actually, one could even say I was scowling.  Look quickly and carefully - in thirty seconds this image will self-destruct.


Do you see that glower?  In picture after picture I have that malicious, hateful face!  This is the first time in my life that I have seen an image of my face looking how it looks when I don't know anybody is looking!  And I look so mean!  No wonder my husband is afraid of me!

I needed to find out once and for all if this is how I appear in the eyes of others, so I asked my mother if I sometimes frown - and she, in the sweet little voice of an elderly woman, answered "I wouldn't say some of the time, I would say all of the time."

So, now I am making a conscious effort to smile all the time - no matter what. So, if I find a dead animal in my living room, I smile - if my son punches his brother right in the nose, I smile - If my husband wears the same shirt for five consecutive 98 degree days, and the air conditioner is broken, and he does not shower, swim, or wash, I smile.   I am also working at being more conscious of my facial muscles so that I will be instantly aware of my frowning lips.  When I feel the sides of my lips turning down, I automatically bring them up. I figure that if I keep working on it, I will eventually have a permanent smile on my face.  If that doesn't work - there's always Botox.

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He Did Overcome!

This morning I was remembering a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that correlated directly with what I wanted to write about today.  To get the quote exactly right, I did an internet search.  I found more than just the selection I was looking for.  As I read through Eleanor's most famous excerpts, I became increasingly inspired.  I found that about 90% of the things she said were pertinent my life today. I wanted to copy these words down and hang them on my wall so I wouldn't forget (which I will likely do when I am done with this).  This introduction has little to do with today's blog - I just wanted to let you know that Eleanor had some very intelligent, sensible things to say which enlivened my spirit.  I might be a little behind the times here - but don't be surprised if I start going all Eleanor Roosevelt on you.


eleanor roosevelt


AND NOW - ON WITH THE STORY:



I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt lived from 1884 until 1962.  When I mentioned her to my seven year old son, Mikey, he had no idea who I was talking about.  Still, her words, above, are directly related to a recent achievement on his part of which his father and I are very proud.  You see, Mikey faced and overcame a fear that has plagued him for more than half of his life.  He accomplished this by acting just as Eleanor had suggested over 50 years ago - he did the very thing he was afraid of - and he did it in a big way.

When Mikey was three, his baby brother Marko was born.  While my husband and I were at the hospital welcoming little Marko into the world, (a very painful welcome as far as I was concerned - but that is another story) Mikey and his brothers stayed at their Grandmother's house.  We don't know whether or not that short period of separation was the inception of Mikey's anxiety  - but, what we do know is that after those few days, Mikey's willingness to sleep away from his family ceased.

Now, Mikey is not a fearful child by nature.  In fact, it is difficult to find anything that scares him.  He definitely isn't afraid of his father or me.  Mikey is a daredevil who cares nothing about danger or possible consequences.  He scales the tall fence at the ball field even though he had been told four thousand times not to go near it.  He pulled crabs out of the ocean with his bare hands.  He climbs all the way to the top of the wall at the pool, and then drops 20 feet down into ten feet of water, making sure he touched bottom before coming up for air.  He will climb anything, jump from any height and challenge anyone.  There is no dare he was willing to pass up.  Mikey was born a larger than life, fearless alpha male, and no one or no thing has ever been able to make him feel small. Except - his fear of spending the night away from his family.

This nervousness was not due to a lack of desire.  Mikey was invited to sleep over at friends houses many times - and he was always excited to go - always certain that he would succeed.  He packed his clothes, toothbrush, pillow and sleeping bag and he took off.  But then, infallibly, the moment bedtime was mentioned, his eyes widened, his two sucking fingers entered his mouth and tears started rolling down his cheeks. With great sorrow, he would whisper "I want to go home."  We have, as a result,  received numerous late night phone calls prompting us to go out in our pajamas and bring our Mikey home.  Each time this happened, we then sat up for hours consoling an angry, sobbing Mikey who was full of shame and self-loathing.

But, as Eleanor said, one conquers fear by doing the thing he fears to do.  This is exactly what my little boy finally did.

We had been bringing Mikey's older brothers to Camp Shaw Waw Nas See for eleven years. This was the first year Mikey was old enough to stay overnight.  He had seen his brothers off to camp every summer of his life, and now it was finally his turn.  Mikey had been telling people he was going away to camp for ages - but then, a few days before he and Elijah were set to leave, that old fear returned.  Mikey wanted to go to camp, but HE DID NOT WANT TO SLEEP THERE!  We took turns trying to convince him, but the more anyone talked about it, the more upset and adamant he became.  Mikey insisted that if he had to sleep at camp he wouldn't go to camp. We took turns trying to persuade him, and finally, exhausted, we made arrangements for him to attend camp during the day and come home at night. Everything was settled, Mikey was pacified, and that was the end of that.

But then, at the last possible moment - some part of that seven year old boy - some inner strength exerted itself and defeated the fear.  On the day Elijah was leaving for camp, Mikey suddenly announced that he was going too!  My first thought was "damn, now I have to pack both of them."  But then I was beaming.  I was so proud of my courageous son.

On the first night my husband and I waited anxiously for the phone call.  The second night we put the phone next to the bed.  By the third night, it was clear that he was victorious.  He had faced fear and he had overcome. He spent six nights at Camp Shaw, in a cabin of boys and counselors he had never met before, and he had the time of his life.  

I will say he came home with an even bigger larger-than-life attitude than before - and at moments I've felt he needed to humbled a bit - but I am yet to find any person or any thing sizable enough to knock Mikey down.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dear Editor

Well, I recently began looking into having some of my short stories published by people other than myself.  I had no idea how complex this process actually is.  Little by little, however, I have been figuring things out.  I started out by sending a story out to a whole bunch of publishers just to see what would happen - and, hip hip hooray - I got an offer to publish from a small literary magazine.  I also learned a couple of lessons.  The first is that you aren't actually supposed to send the same story to 40 different publishers because whoever prints it has exclusive rights to it, and then if somebody else wants to publish it they will get pissed because they can't, and you just wasted a whole bunch of their time - oops.  The second is that if you put your story on a public forum such as a blog site, many publishers consider it previously published and therefore not eligible which gets them all pissed because you just wasted a whole bunch of their time - oops.  The third is that editors receive thousands of stories a month and if you don't have a really good query letter that catches their attention, they probably wont even read your story - oops.

So, anyway - the first time was a trial run - and I learned, and I will do things differently the next time around.  I figured I should start with a really good, attention grabbing cover letter that would make an editor want to read the story I send.

Here's what I want you to do.  I am going to post my query letter, and I need you to pretend you are some big shot, rude, egotistical, thinking you're God's gift to the world editor and tell me if this letter would make you decide to send me a nasty e-mail about how I need to read your submission guidelines before I even attempt to send you any more of my crappy writing, or if it will make you want to read my story, thus discovering the hottest new talent on the writing scene.  So, let me know which it is, O.K.?


Dear Editor,

Let me introduce myself.  I am an overweight, naturally lazy 39 year old woman with a very busy, full life.  Specifically, here is a list of all the things I have to deal with each and every day:

1.       An extremely annoying husband who has absolutely no handy-man skills.
2.       A house that has an ever increasing need for a handy-man.
3.       Four sons who were all born with a natural love of and talent for destruction.
4.       A dog who loves me so much that he feels a need to be constantly touching me no matter what I am trying to do (which is very irritating, especially when I am sleeping and he cuddles up with my face).
5.       Way too many cats which I, for some mysterious reason, have accepted into my home.
6.        Some strange, unknown disorder, indicated by my allowing all those cats to live in my house,  which I am actively working on diagnosing and curing through the services of both a therapist and a very tall shaman.
7.       A job as a preschool teacher (for a classroom of children who tend to be even more destructive than my four sons).
8.       A lizard, four frogs and a hermit crab who may or may not be dead.


    Now that you have a clear idea what I am up against, you will understand why I, not so long ago, made a decision that something had to change.  You see, I woke up one morning knowing I couldn’t take it anymore.  I found myself at a crossroads – I could either pack my bags and leave everything behind, finding myself a small hut on some uninhabited island where I could live out my days alone, in total peace and tranquility or I could begin complaining about every little thing that bugs me on a public forum, therefore garnering the sympathy and empathy of the world.  The better of the two options was obvious, so I started to pack.  Then I realized that, if left unchecked, my children would quickly demolish the house and escape – thus being let loose on the world.  Because I know them so well, I could clearly envision the trail of disaster and devastation.  I just couldn’t let that happen - so the blog Fat Lazy Soccer Mom Gets Healthy was born.

    I began posting essays about the daily madness that is my unfortunate existence.   Soon after that, I began receiving correspondence from others like me  – poor souls who had wanted nice, normal lives only to find themselves surrounded by lunatics.  These people are numerous, and I continue writing for them – so that they will know that they are not alone. 

    I have attached a short story with the hope that you will consider publication, thus touching more readers than my blog alone can reach.  Feel free to read more of my work on my site:


    I would appreciate any feedback or criticism (unless you don’t like my writing, in which case, I would appreciate it if you would lie).

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Kristina Yapp

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    The Key



    I suppose it is possible that what originally appears to be completely ludicrous, idiotic and just plain dumb, in retrospect, can make perfect sense.  It turns out that one person can believe that another person's actions are completely nonsensical and ridiculous when, in reality, they are highly intelligent and useful.  I am saying this because, yesterday, something I have been ridiculing for many years turned out to be the very thing that kept a huge mistake on my part from becoming a catastrophe.

    The thing I am talking about, the thing I have belittled and laughed at for eons, is my husband - or, rather, a particular practice he has persisted in with no regard for my repeated criticism and disapproval.  I have even gone as far as mocking him publicly, making him the subject of my sometimes sarcastic and scornful comedy act.  I was so certain that I, being far more clever and intelligent, had an indisputably superior understanding of, well, of everything.

    So, here's the deal:

    This thing my husband does, this thing that, to me, has never made even a smidgen of sense, is that he keeps our spare car keys in our car.  I have, from the day I met the man, spouted innumerable flaws in this practice.  For instance, if you lock your primary set of keys in your car - then all your  keys will be locked inside your car - defeating the purpose of the spare key.  Another example - say some no-account hoodlum, out looking for trouble,  were rifling through that car, late at night, hoping to find some spare change, a neglected i-pod, or a G.PS., but instead came across the keys to that very car.  I can almost hear his uncontrollable giggling while driving away - and who could blame him?

    Well, with disregard to my unwavering logic,  ignoring all of my mocking and jeering - he remained steadfast.  He provided no explanation, remained quiet in his resolve, and simply, unassumingly, refused to change his ways.  It was as if he somehow knew that, in time, his wisdom would become apparent.  He had some mystical, psychic foreknowledge that the time would come when his stubborn, senseless insistence on keeping the one extra set of keys in the car would be essential in salvaging a potentially disastrous situation - a situation caused by me - by a blunder for which I must take full responsibility.

    The Story:

    Some friends of ours were going out of town for several weeks, and asked us to come to their house twice a day to take care for their very sweet and much beloved dog.  They gave us the key to their house, and I, acting with great brilliance and trustworthiness,  put the key onto our own keyring so that it would not get lost.  Yesterday was the first day of our dog guardianship.  Because we care about our friends, and know how sorrowful they would be if anything tragic happened to their darling pet, we felt a great sense of responsibility.  Therefore my son, Elijah, and I very prudently drove to the house in the morning,  letting the dog out into the yard. As instructed, we returned in the evening to fill his both his food and water, sit with him to stave off his loneliness, and bring him safely into the house for the evening.  We were feeling quite admirable about our superior performance, and, with an arrogant sense of pride, we locked the doors and departed.

    Unfortunately, we had overlooked one tiny detail.  You see, before fulfilling our promise to our friends, we had been visiting my mother at her house.  When the time came to care for the dog, I chose to use my mother's car instead of my own.  I did remember, however, to take my keys so that we would be able to let ourselves into the house.  Upon completion of the job, we returned to my mother's house to retrieve the remainder of our family and our car.  We walked into the house, swaggering with the pride of a job well done.  Suddenly, it hit me - .I had overlooked one exceedingly significant detail.  We had let ourselves into the house with the key - the key that I had attached to our car keys - the key that was now sitting on the counter of the house - the house that we had so carefully and deliberately locked.

    I was momentarily overwhelmed by the implications of my grave error.  That poor dog, the treasured companion of our good friends, was locked in a house, his family gone for weeks, with only a modest amount of food and water, sad and alone - and there was no access to him.  Magnifying the problem, my own house was locked - my own pets in danger of loneliness and starvation as well.  My car was sitting right there in front of my mothers house, but without keys it was rendered immovable - we were all stranded.  Foremost in my mind, however, was the image of the sorrowful faces of our friends when they returned to find their dog - the dog they had entrusted to me - lying on the floor starved and neglected, locked away in the prison that my neglectfulness had created.  But then - I remembered - I had a vision of hope - a single happy idea entered my mind - could that darling idiot of a husband of mine have actually been right all along?

    With optimism, humbleness and sweetness, I asked,  "Milan, do you still have those spare keys hidden in our car?"

    He gazed at me with understanding and empathy, and in his mild and unassuming manner, he simply answered "Yes."

    He, without boasting, without displaying signs of bravado, without gloating or bragging, calmly retrieved the keys that had become a symbol of our differing views.  The keys that had made him the object of my derision and degradation for so many years.  Then, with a quiet sense of assuredness about him, he drove me back to to the house of our friends, quickly discovered an accessible entryway, and valiantly recovered the forgotten keys.

    I thought of the many times I had  taunted this man and demeaned him - always laughing gleefully.  In the end, however, the very thing that I had scorned had come to my rescue.  I gazed over at my husband, feeling sheepish. He, however, did not utter one word of condescension or superiority.  He sent not even one haughty glance in my direction.  He remained steady and tranquil - like the farmer from Babe.

    So - I must now accept that there may be times when I am wrong - when something that seems completely ridiculous to me may be perfectly sensible from another's standpoint.  I now admit to the possibility of wisdom in acts that initially appear nonsensical and laughable.  I have been humbled by this occurrence, and, in the future, I will remember that other's ideas, while not easily understood, may be based on reasons both sound and intelligent.

    So, at least for today, I cannot say, with my usual conviction, that my husband is an idiot. However,  I feel I must add that not being able to call him an idiot makes him more annoying than ever!

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    The Ant Graveyard

    Have you ever seen the movie "Poltergeist?"  I'm pretty sure everyone has (except for babies, toddlers and all you yellow bellied, chicken-hearted, lilly-livered cowards out there).  Anyway, do you remember how all of the angry spirits of the dead rose from their graves because the town was built on top of an old graveyard, and "They had never moved the bodies!!!"

    Poltergeist

    Well, I am convinced that, when my town was built, they did the exact same thing!  There is one minor difference, though.  My town was not built over a human graveyard, it was built over a sacred ant burial ground - most likely tens of thousands of years old. I know this because the incensed spirits of the dead ants - irate at this contemptible disturbance and destruction to their sanctified resting place -  rise up annually in order to punish all who dare spoil and plunder the sacredness of their holy land.



    I feel quite certain that neither the builder of that first home nor the visionary for this town was aware that they were disturbing a prehistoric necropolis, consequently interrupting the tranquility and peacefulness of numerous generations of insects.  I am in no way laying blame on our predecessors who made this town what it is today.  I have thought a lot about the founding of this village, and have concluded that it must have been early summer when the construction of the first of all our many homes commenced.  I believe this to be true because, each and every year,  on the first warm day,  the hostile apparitions make their presence known - and there is nothing that can stop this eerie and frightening occurrence.  My family has attempted for years to keep the ghosts at bay.  Each winter we work tirelessly, caulking all of the cracks in our walls, repairing every hole, filling any fissures, covering even microscopic pinpricks found only by means of a painstakingly slow, precise examination. We each go over every square inch of wall, floor and ceiling, making sure that no possible entryway is overlooked - but still, on the first warm day, they always appear.  Clearly, as our house is a veritable fortress against unwanted critters, even those of microscopial stature, these supernatural phantasms possess the ability to pass directly through walls, floors and ceilings.  Nothing can stop them.



    I'm afraid it's true. My house is haunted by zombie ants. From the first warm day of each year until the first frost of winter, these ghouls spread terror throughout my kitchen, my house and my very soul. For those of you unbelievers out there,  I have absolute proof, impervious evidence, that these disembodied spirits who choose to appear  in the form of ants are actually and truly the undead.  They cannot be killed by any acknowledged method.  Believe me - I have tried each and every purported ant killing system, always with the same result.  I have purchased and set every kind of trap. I have lined walls and counter tops with ant killing gel. I have sprinkled ant killing powder, which the ants carry back with them to the colony, on every surface of my home. I have surrounded the outer foundation of my house with ant killing stakes. I have even, in total desperation, combined bleach and ammonia, resulting in the intensely dangerous, life-threatening compound: Nitrogen Trichloride.  After clearing my home of all living things, and donning a gas mask, I sprayed this deadly mixture generously onto every square inch of my home - but after a week, when it was finally safe to return, we found that these uncompromising, unfathomably robust entities remained, unharmed and prepared for combat.  I  tried garlic, crosses, holy water, silver bullets, circles of salt, mixtures of herbs known for their supernatural powers, strange and mysterious potions,  magical incantations and medieval poisons.  I have set off ant bombs. I have plugged in devices that let off a high frequency, constant and annoying screech not detectable by humans - but detested by ants. I have tried to smoke them out, soak them out and freeze them out. I even, once, rented an anteater for a two week period - but have been told that the  wretched beast has never recovered from the terror that he experienced while in my humble domicile.   Everything I have told you points to one simple, indisputable fact.  These ants cannot be killed - because they are already dead!!!

    Anteater

    Even when I dare to venture outside of my cursed residence, I am not free!  While in South Carolina, I stepped off of a swamp path in order to get the best possible picture of my family, and suddenly I began to experience excruciatingly painful stinging over the entirety of my legs and feet.  I began jumping, slapping frantically at my afflicted skin, screaming obscenities and throwing my shoes - frightening my children as well as any nearby wildlife - and I swear, on my own husband's very life, that when I looked down to see what horrid creature had attacked me so violently - it was the same 'Ants Of The Living Dead' I have come to know and dread. These were the very ones that haunt me whether I am asleep or awake.   I stared down in silence, panic-stricken, utterly paralyzed by fear.  It was beyond understanding, but I must testify to the absolute, genuine existence of the following, wholly undeniable, horrifyingly grievous, yet altogether genuine vision that I encountered.   There was what seemed to be an infinite number of fire ants engulfing my lower extremities, painfully seizing my skin with their dagger-like, torturous jaws.  But, between bites, each of them gazed up at me with complete malice.  Still, even more distressing than the realization that I was being assaulted by enraged fire ants, even more petrifying than the knowledge that the current pain I was feeling would be neither easily nor speedily alleviated, was the eerie, well-known expression in the eyes and in the demeanor and aspect of these agonizingly familiar insects.  You see, these monstrous creatures of darkness were smiling up at me with the precise malevolence I had become accustomed to in my home as well as in my most devilish, most dreaded, most terrifying nightmares.


    Angry Red Ant... by :chris:.

    In addition to finding these vile miscreations to be unspeakably wretched,  I am often left stunned and utterly dumbfounded by their mystifying speed and cunning thievery.  Just recently,  I dropped a single cheese cracker onto the floor of my bewitched kitchen.  I immediately bent down to retrieve this delicious tidbit, but before my fingers were allowed to acquire and retrieve this object of sustenance,  hundreds of these apparitions had appeared, as if they had manifested from some unearthly realm.  I found myself suddenly dazed, astonished and stupefied - I could do nothing but stand watching, mouth opened in an expression of shock, while these spectral ghouls retreated, carrying this scrap of human nourishment down into the depths of direful darkness from which they had emanated.  These paranormal tricksters have even managed to enter areas that are absolutely impregnable - completely unattainable.  Nothing is safe from these miniature criminals and their wily deceit.  They raid and plunder without remorse.  Their abilities are mystical, unfathomable and incomprehensible.  I will never come to fully understand either their motives or their methods.  These deplorable scalawags have provoked my wrath and have caused me unforgivable agony and torment with their deceptive conjuring.  The most dreadful, unspeakable, inexcusable act on the part of these vile barbarous assailants has been their persistent  systematic destruction of entire jars of my most beloved peanut butter.  Jars of peanut butter that have been closely examined, screened, tested, and then counter-checked using precise and foolproof methods.  I will assure you that each jar was put away air tight, inaccessible, with a securely fastened lid. I swear to you that each and every peanut butter jar was stored in a condition that was invulnerable - untouchable - utterly immune to attack or penetration.  Still, it must never be forgotten that we are discussing creatures of unnatural intelligence, deceptive cunning, calculated scheming and unspeakable evil.  They are aware that peanut butter is my favorite food, and due to their insatiable desire to cause  infinite misery and desolation to all people daring to live upon their land - they are wholly dedicated to being both viciously deceptive and pitilessly cruel. They have used their knowledge of my favorite food - knowledge attained through espionage and subterfuge - in order to damage me in the the most profound and unfathomably intense ways imaginable.



    One of the most terrifying experiences of my life occurred as a result of my attempt to outsmart, outwit, and finally rid my existence of these detestable brutes.  I had purchased, from a catalog, a Praying Mantis egg sac which I kept in a mesh cage.  I was anxiously, excitedly awaiting the emergence of innumerable hungry and capable baby mantises. I had what I perceived to be an infallible plan.  I would have no problem feeding to the young mantises the very ants who had filled my existence with undeniable torment and anguish.  The idea was so simple, yet so flawless and clean.  I would merely place a single froot loop into the dwelling place of my newly hatched mantises, thus luring the devilish ants to their doom.  However, these miniscule beasts,  calculating and vicious , were able to outwit me and circumvent my plans in a most foul and untoward  manner.  I was anxiously anticipating the impending arrival of my mantis hatchlings - my soon to arrive rescuers from the sinister shadow that had overtaken my once beloved home.  I was filled with the giddiness of hope and anticipation.  But then, on one disastrous Saturday morning, I awoke to discover a most gruesome, macabre display of inconceiveable devilishness.  The image of that morning has been etched permanently onto my psyche, and I do not believe I will ever overcome the guilt that has stemmed from the knowledge that it was my own selfish actions that caused the ghastly and brutal demise of my poor, innocent, beautiful unborn praying mantises. As was my ritual at that time, upon rising, I immediately glimpsed into the lovely habitat I had created for the impending birth of these already beloved individuals, checking the egg sac to see if the exhilarating day had finally arrived.  However, the ghastly events of that one fateful morning brought an abrupt end to all of my optimism and bliss. When I peered, that morning,  into the enclosure of my dear egg sac,  I was confronted with an unbelievably horrific, dreadful, and utterly hideous display of fiendish violence and malice.  Those highly intelligent, diabolical beings were inside the carefully crafted praying mantis environment - and they were savagely tearing the unborn, yet distinctly alive mantises from their life giving, protective egg sac.  As if that were not enough - they proceeded to systematically dismantle the bodies of my mantises. My young warriors, my future saviors, my anticipated deliverers from these hell-hounds , demolished.  These pathologically morbid, loathsome, ghoulish entities had, in this single action, destroyed my blissful vision of an approaching light that would challenge, oppose, beat back and defeat the darkness that had permeated my existence.  Instead, the enemy bore down and destroyed my champions before they were given the opportunity to come into existence in the world outside of the warmth and safety of their miraculous egg sac.  I will never forget this repulsive vision,  this absolutely devious act on the part of the ants, or the tragic demise of the mantises - who were cheated out of life, attacked with no means of self-defense and no protection. This will stay with me until death - it has been several years since that day, but I am often awakened late at night due recurring visions of the wicked abominations that annihilated both my young heroes and my innocence.

    ants

    It has been many years, and I have had many experiences, so I don't remember clearly how, in the movie,  they resolved their poltergeist problem.  I think that at one point they may have procured the services of a professional who promised to expel evil spirits.  I have considered, as one final, desperate attempt, the idea of bringing in a priest who is an expert in the exorcism of the type of repugnant, detestable, pugnacious presence with which I have been forced to co-exist. However, after all these years of  unsuccessful attempts, of hopes obliterated, of dreams demolished, I have lost my ability to trust that anything will will rid me of this hex. I can no longer bring myself to believe in the possibility of an end to this torment that has become my life, my very existence.  I do not think my fragile spirit could survive another upset.  If I remember correctly, in the movie, the final result was that all of the people living in the haunted town were forced to move elsewhere, and all of the buildings, having been erected on accursed land, were torn down - therefore placating the disturbed spirits - subsequently ending the reign of terror that these disembodied beings had brought forth.  Unfortunately for myself, my family and my poor suffering community, evacuating this town  is simply not practical considering the current economy. It would be impossible to consider returning this land to the disturbed, wrathful, incensed evil spirits who, in ancient times, deemed it consecrated, sacred ground where generations of  ants would experience peace and eternal rest.   For now, I suppose, I will just have to accept living in a house that is doomed to be eternally inhabited by the enraged, tempestuous spirits of thousands upon thousands of scorned, disrespected, spectral ants.  Other than that, all I can do is keep my peanut butter in the refrigerator where it seems to be safe from supernatural sabotage - at least for the time being.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Free Kittens

    It's true - I have kittens, and I'm giving them away - FOR FREE!!!!

    I have had many people question this particular practice on my part.  Here's the deal - I really LOVE kittens.  They are so cute and so fun and they make me so so so happy - and I have some leftover issues from my childhood about always wanting baby animals around but not being allowed to have them.  So, I keep avoiding the spaying of my lovely girl cat, and keep allowing her to produce litters of kittens that I cannot keep.

    It turns out, though, that my mother had a point.  While baby animals are very cute, loving and satisfying - they also have some negative qualities.  Namely, the hair and the smell. Plus, there is the social stigma of being perceived as a crazy cat lady (at least not until I'm a little older).  Plus, there is the hygiene issue of stuffing four boys, six frogs, one lizard, one hermit crab (who may or may not be dead), one dog, four cats, and six kittens into one very small home.

    So, here's the deal - I love the kittens - but they got to go. Still, this creates a major issue in my life.  Because I love them, I don't really want to drown them, leave them in the wild to fend for themselves, or donate them to the humane society (Plus, my son, Elijah, who is a cat lover, would never forgive me for any of the above). I need to find homes for the cuddly little fur balls - but for some reason, there are no takers.
    Very cute kitten
    Another issue - you know about that whole Chinese 'no girl' policy - which I, for the record, am totally against.  I'm feeling the same way about these kittens.  If the boys end up staying, it's OK because they can't contribute more litters (at least not to my house) - but the girls have to go - even if I have to go against my own principles to make it happen.  I will accept sons, a boy dog and boy cats - what does that say about me?  (maybe I just like being the one queen of this kingdom).

    Bottom line - this blog is a plea.  Please, somebody, come and take these baby cats off of my hands.  They are very cute, very funny, very cuddly, and very in need of a stable home (especially the female!!!!).  Come on - you know you want one - and you can't beat the price!!!

    kitten

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Letting Go

    What can a person give to their children besides love. My son Is 18 years old now and is itching to go out and live his life, and I am coming to realize that love is all I have for him. He shuns protection, wastes money, denies offers of time, ignores advice and rolls his eyes at concern. I have come to accept that my dreams are not his dreams, and that while he was once a part of me and came from me, he is now a separate person who must find his own way. So, what can I give him besides love? There is nothing else.

    Still, there is a sense of peace that comes with this realization - and I suppose that peace is what is referred to as "letting go."I will always love him ferociously with all of my heart, and will always want him to have joy and happiness in his life - but he must now provide those things for himself.

    Khalil Gibran said:

    Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of lifes longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

    The Prophet

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Later Gator!!!


    One of the big goals my family had for our South Carolina trip was to see a wild alligator.  You may think this is a dumb goal, especially given the gator's reputation for  eating small children and slow-witted adults (such as my husband), but it was a goal none the less.  We did achieve that goal multiple times now, but not without a cost.  Admission cost, that is.

    Our first gator sighting plan was to hike out to marshes and lagoons.  We did this over several days, logging a good 30 miles or so of trail hiking - but to no avail.  We did, however, lose weight due to all that hiking under the EXTREEMLY HOT South Carolina sun - and we all slept really well in our tents under the EXTREEMLY HOT South Carolina moon.

    Then we decided on a different approach.  We went to the Hunting Island Visitor's Center because it was advertised that a female alligator was living in the Center's pond.  We stood up on the poarch of the Visitor's Center and stared at the pond for 26 minutes, and then we finally spotted her:

    I know it's not easy, but if you get out a magnifying glass and kind of squint your eyes and look on the shore under the tree, you will see her.

    We were pretty excited, but not satisfied, so the next day we went to another venue boasting of alligators.  We drove almost two hours to the historic Magnolia Plantation, paid for admission to the plantation and grounds, plus paid extra for entrance into The Swamp area which is preserved land maintained by the Audobon society (and where, incidentally, the 1940's classic movie, Swampthing, was filmed).  Well, it was pretty damn hot that day (kind of a South Carolina theme), so, even though we had paid the $400 admission, we skipped the plantation and garden area, and went straight to the swamp in search of an alligator.  We were rewarded - while my tired, sweaty, dirty family trudged up ahead of me, I noticed that one of the logs in the water had what looked, suspiciously,  like eyes pearched right up on top.  I called the boys back, and they all agreed the the log in question was actually alive. So, my idiot husband had the idea that if we proceeded to throw sticks and rocks in the general direction of the living log, it might just move.  So he and 17 year old Steven did just that, and voila - the log began to swim, revealing a full sized alligator - plus another full size alligator a little further away.  I thought that since we had annoyed this dangerous animal who had a strong enough jaw chock full of sharp teeth that it could easily kill and devour an adult deer or water buffalo - it might be time to mosey on down the path (but not until after I got a picture or two):



    At that point we were satisfied.  Our alligator hunting over, we moved on to other exciting quests, such as shopping.  The next day was Steven's 18th birthday - and there is nothing that boy likes better than a mall.  I discovered that Hilton Head island boasted having the largest outlet mall in south Carolina - so birthday shopping it was.  We arrived at the mall - which was packed with cars (possibly due to the promise of air conditioning), and we parked along the outside of the lot near a small pond.  At that point, my ever observant husband noticed some movement in the pond - and certain it was an otter, he dragged us all over to investigate.  not an otter, though:


    Right there, in the pond by the mall, was a young alligator - just smiling up at us like it was hoping we would toss it a McDonald's hamburger or something.  but it did not get a hamburger from us that day.  Four year old  Marko, having learned from the example of his idiot father and big brother the day before, threw a rock at it - so we all jumped back into the car and moved to a different parking spot.


    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Truckin'

    Well, we have been driving for two days and have made it to Sooth Carolina.  I must say that, as a result of being stuck in a van with four sons and a husband for hours at a time, there have been multiple moments when I have have closed my eyes and envisioned taking a vacation all by myself next year.  There has been arguing, yelling, hitting, annoying, tattling, whining, throwing, crying, complaining and threatening.  We even managed to lose Elijah's shoe somewhere in Tennessee (which means a trip to K-Mart in the morning).



    Even worse than the car ride, though, is the arrival at the hotel.  No matter how many times we tell them that people may be sleeping in their rooms, my boys run, screaming down the hallways.  In spite of our insistence that the hotel room is a designated calm area, they jump from bed to bed, throw pillows at each other, wrestle, yell, hide in the closet, bang on the walls and slam the door.  Within ten minutes of entering a hotel, my stress level is at an all time high.

    However, both the towns of Lexington Kentucky and Asheville North Carolina have offered free, fun, awesome  places where my kids could burn off their energy, and where I could re-connect with those loving feelings that made me want kids in the first place.  What both towns have had are public fountains that people can play in.

    Yesterday Lexington was HOT!!!!  When we rode into town it was a sultry 93, and at 8:00 PM it had gotten down to a stifling 89.  We bought ice cream and found a park where the kids could run around - but after a short time we were all feeling just plain hot, sticky and dirty.  We decided to drive out to see some of the famous Kentucky Horse Stables - but we never got that far, because, as we were driving through town, we saw IT.  The first thing to draw our attention were some absolutely beautiful horse sculptures:



    But, it was what we saw behind the sculptures that was really exciting.  There was a huge fountain, and the fountain was full of people!  We immediately pulled over, and jumped right in.  It was so cool and refreshing, and the sweltering Kentucky day was transformed into a beautiful, sultry Kentucky evening.





    We played in the fountain until after dark, happy and laughing, then returned to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

    Today we found a similar joy in Asheville.  We went out for ice cream, and the shop owner said that there was a fountain downtown where kids could play.  Since my husband and I were at the ends of our ropes, we hightailed it to the downtown area.  And there, in a village green surrounded by mountains, were streams of water shooting out of the ground.  The children rushed over and played, again, for hours.  











    So, not every moment of traveling with family has been beautiful and wonderful, but the joyful moments have made up for the miserable ones - tenfold.  Tomorrow, its more driving (uuurg).  But then we will reach our final destination - The Ocean.  I expect that will make up for everything.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Packing - Gotta Love It

    All of my boys and I will soon be embarking on a two week camping/ road trip.  It is going to be wonderful!  We will travel between 4 and 6 hours a day over a three day period, finally arriving at Hunting Island South Carolina - where we will tent camp on the oceanfront for ten days.  During our return trip, we plan to visit an old friend (which will take care of letter V on my things to do list), and then we will stop to see Mammoth Cave National Park.

    It sounds so absolutely perfect, and I can't wait to get going - but it also requires quite a bit of preparation and packing, which I definitely despise.  I have been working for days on making sure we have enough stuff to make our trip comfortable and enjoyable - but not so much that we will be surrounded by unnecessary clutter.  I have been trying to remember every single necessary item so that we will not have to buy things during the trip, but keep the amount of luggage small so it can easily fit into our van.  I have worked and worked on packing in a way that is complete without being overwhelming.


    So I made, remade and revised my list of absolute necessities - then crossed off items that were not essential (such as Marko's Barrel Full Of Monkeys).  This list making is what started my negative packing mood. Thinking about the potential need for each item on my list, and then prioritizing each object based on the possible number of times it would be used was making my brain hurt.
    Packing list for trip
     I then pulled out all of our camping gear so that I could inventory what we had, what still worked, and what needed to be replaced.  Upon opening a bin that holds camping gear from past excursions, I quickly realized that things had been put away while still damp last year.  The musty smell gave me a headache, and the extra work involved definitely increased my bad temper.

    I then decided that I would need to fit everything into a certain number of bags and bins to make this whole loading the car thing go smoothly.  This ended up causing additional problems because the final 'absolutely necessary' items on my list did not fit into my self imposed number of vessels - and it was back to the drawing board.
    Luggage
    In retrospect, I admit that this next part may have been partially my fault.  I was sick of packing and sick of thinking about packing.  I was experiencing a general state of ill humor.  I was replaying in my mind an 'anti-preparing for this trip' sentiment.  My brain was pushing against my skull, my eyelids and forehead were sore from the furrowed, squinting expression on my face - my composure and patience were gone. Then, unfortunately for him, in walked my husband.



    I came at him with both barrels loaded.  I began listing all of the things I had packed - and he, sensing the danger of the situation, quietly nodded as I spoke.  I, however, was already too far gone.  I was looking for a fight - any fight - and that husband of mine is always the perfect target.  Had he made a suggestion about some important item I was overlooking, I would have gone crazy on him - I would have accused him of being insensitive to all of the hard work I had done, and I would have told him that maybe next time he should do it all himself.  But, he didn't make any suggestions - he kept his lips tightly sealed.  Because of that, I went crazy on him.  I said that I was simply trying to get some input about what important items I may have overlooked, and accused him of being insensitive to the fact that I was looking for some small bit of assistance.  I told him that I had hoped for just an inkling of insight into his vast camping experience.  I shook my head while complaining under my breath (but loud enough to be heard) that I would be better off taking this trip on my own.


    Then something important happened.  It was like an out of body experience - I saw myself yapping away,  finding anything to whine about so that I could unload all of my packing related anger and frustration.  I saw my husband standing there taking whatever I was dishing out because he has been through this before, and knows from experience that there is nothing to do but ride out the storm.

    At that point I made a conscious decision to stop being a  packing hater, and that decision changed everything.  I halted my attacking and complaining, took a deep breath, and adjusted my view.  Instead of seeing this trip preparation as annoying, pesky, bothersome, hateful work, I resolved to view it as an exciting challenge - as a gift to myself and my family while looking forward to a wonderful time together.  I modified my attitude, smiled, and tossed Marko's Barrel Full Of Monkeys into the camping bin.


    My husband was still looking worried and skittish for a while, waiting for me to blow my top again, but after some time of working side by side, he began to appear comfortable with the validity of my new attitude - and before I knew it we were smiling, laughing, packing, anticipating and planning together.  Now, with the happy preparations coming to a close, I am feeling a close partnership and a familial joy at the beginning of this journey.


    I'm not making any promises, but when I start feeling overcome by annoyance - I am going to try to remember to focus on working towards a wished-for goal, and approaching that work as a positive, desirable, enjoyable means for achieving my objective.  I will also work on setting targets that will bring heightened happiness and peace into my life.  It's all about attitude.
    Our BIG happy family