Friday, May 30, 2008

Oh Faithful Readers

I'm going to be out of commission for the next week, so my dear, faithful readers I certainly hope you'll come back to read my rants, raves, and gushing over my son and kitties.

Speaking of my son, I just love summertime when he sleeps 'til noon. I remember doing the same thing when I was his age. Some parents don't like their children to sleep in during the summer because then they get off of their "schedule". They're teenagers, for crying out loud! For a brief period of their lives let them stop and just relax. They've been to school, daycare when they were little, they'll have jobs in another year - for now just let them be and enjoy living for once. A few of we adults could benefit too from a few extra zzzz's or just plain relaxing for a spell. You now have my permission to take a load off. :-)

Never fear - I will return!

Wait a minute. Is that a good thing?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm a World-Class Sucker!

Why am I such a sucker for my cats? Oh, let me count the ways.

Paws just has to look at me and meow. His eyes disappear when he opens his mouth, and his meow is more like a mournful wail. I'll give him anything he wants when that happens. I hadn't even begun to think of opening a can of tuna, but I'll do it for him just because he meowed. He's the reason I started letting my cats drink the running water in my bathtub in the mornings. My vet would probably shoot me.

Then, of course, Paws is so fluffy and vulnerable. He's skittish, so I always want to love on him and comfort him as much as possible. If I point my finger in his face and tell him that he's spoiled, he'll just rub his face up and down along my finger to make me pet him. How it pulls at my heart strings! In that moment, I don't really mind that he's spoiled. Perhaps it's the other way around.

Or maybe it is because he wants to be near me as much as possible. I don't mind half the time when he climbs on my desk and walks in front of my computer. It's just his way of saying he wants me to love him, and feed him, and pet him, and just look at him. Then he'll meow.

I melt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Busy Memorial Weekend

Wow! Busy weekend - we're glad to be home.

Friday evening we had a high school graduation for my nephew (why OK has it Memorial weekend I'll never know). We didn't get to bed until well after midnight. Then we had to get up early Saturday to finish preparations for the big family reunion. Mom and I were tired!

We hit the ground running Saturday morning as we plopped a few pies into the oven, started some casseroles, etc., etc. At our family reunions, food is never in short supply. When family began to arrive later on, there were chickens, slow cookers, potato salads, deviled eggs (yum!), baked beans - you name it - that piled my mother's kitchen countertops until there was no room left. We even set up a completely separate table just for desserts. I think I gained ten pounds just looking at all the food. Once again, a too late of a night.

Sunday afternoon, my sister invited us all over for a cookout and swim. Ah, I could actually relax for once! Originally we were planning to come home Sunday evening, but my son was having such a good time with his cousins that we ended up staying over until early Monday afternoon.

The weather forecasts for the entire weekend called for rain, but it never rained on our parade. The only storm was late Sunday night/early Monday morning. Then on our drive home, it hit us right as we were pulling into town. Couldn't have asked for a better weekend all around, but I was so glad to see home. Finally, an opportunity to get some needed zzzzzz's.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Saw a commercial this evening about a lady sneaking health food into the movie theatre. Oh, it got me thinking of my college days.

Being poor college students, my best friend and I would go to the dollar movies on occasion for some sort of entertainment. Of course, that was when the dollar movies were actually a DOLLAR, and they made their money off of ridiculous prices for concessions. Once again, being poor college students, we made do with our own concessions.

At that time, I was in possession of the biggest silver lame purse you'd ever seen. It made for a perfect snack bin. Before heading off to the movie theatre, we would swing through McDonald's, Taco Bell, whatever fast food joint was on the way and garner some cheap food. Depending on how brave we were that evening, we'd either get sodas at the food joint or run to a convenience store and get bottled soda. Then it was off to the movies.

After we parked at the theatres, I would empty everything out of my purse and stuff it in the glove box. Then the food and sodas would take its place, topped off by my wallet. Hey, I still had to pay for my ticket. We even got an entire dozen Winchell's donuts and two bottles of milk into my purse one night. That was quite the feat indeed.

We never had a food or drink accident in my purse, but we did almost get caught one night. That was back when the ushers actually walked down the aisles during the movie looking for "contraband". But seriously, how easily can they see all the way across the aisle if you're holding their cup or a Micky D's cup. I mean seriously!

I'm no longer a poor college student and can afford to pay the ridiculous concessions prices. But I still know of a few people who continue to carry contraband into the theatres. You'll never get me to squeal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On The Soapbox

I'm climbing onto my soapbox this morning. You've been warned.

Suffering cometh and suffering goeth. We are human, and all will experience suffering of some dimension in this short life. Job understood this better than most. Christ promised it before His ascension. Anyone who thinks otherwise is only deluding themselves.

Far too many Christians these days subscribe to the belief of Christ as more of a Santa Claus figure - ask and you shall receive - completely forgetting the extension of this in James - you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives. Then when a believer experiences suffering, either they are ostracized by their fellow Christians as if they possess the plague, or they are demonized 24-7 by "where's your faith?" and end up telling God to hang it on His proverbial beak.

People are leaving the church in droves because of this false lie, this concept that when you become a Christian God will be your bridge OVER troubled waters. That leaves the impression in people's minds that God will keep trouble away from them. Then when He doesn't, they either think something is wrong with themselves (ie. they need to believe harder) or that they'll never measure up to God's standards (ie. they need to try harder). This is so far from the truth, and it angers me when people espouse this empty rhetoric of man.

By denying suffering, Christianity itself is negated in the price Christ paid when He went to the cross. His suffering for our sakes was therefore utterly worthless if this misappropriated belief is to be accepted as truth. What about all those in the early church who went to the Coliseum and were torn apart for their faith? What about those who were hunted down, imprisoned, beaten, and murdered for their faith? What about all those who still face such persecution in our world TODAY??? Don't tell them, "Oh, it's all good!" for a second. They'd be only right to spit in your face for such arrogance.

Suffering hurts. Suffering is painful. Personally myself, I hate going through the troubled waters when its my turn. But I've also learned (key word) that God is still with me. I've learned to shut my ears to the fanatical delusionists of the world and keep trudging through. I don't like it, but I also know God will see me through. And then there's always something He leaves with me on the other side - deep compassion, concern, and the ability to commiserate with others as they walk through life's difficulties.

I'll never forget the new image my pastor once left with me concerning the proverbial bridge. God isn't the bridge OVER troubled waters but the submarine THROUGH troubled waters. Oh how true!

Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Fantastic!!!

We just arrived back from viewing the new installment of the Narnia series, "Prince Caspian", and it was absolutely, positively INCREDIBLE! But don't worry - no spoilers here.

The acting of the youngsters playing the Pevensie children has definitely matured since the LWW. There is a depth to this movie that seemed to be missing in the relations of the first. Perhaps having the benefit of working together previously helped to solidify camaraderie on the screen. They are so ON here.

Edmund gets a little more screen time and earns his worth many times over from his antics in the first movie. He redeems himself quite well, though I could hardly understand exactly what he said (shucks, that means I have to see it again), but his actions spoke volumes.

Even though the young man playing Caspian is much older than he's supposed to be in the books, it still works here. Evil King Miraz is just that - pure evil. The scene near the beginning of the movie where he sends the general and his men to do the unthinkable...well you'll understand. Very powerful!

This movie is, by all means and in every way, darker than the LWW. The rivalry between Peter and Caspian is truly electric, and the fight scenes were quite realistic. I imagine there were a few moments where it almost earned a PG-13 rating, but not for blood.

Intensity has been upped a thousand fold - we're talking almost constant action or anguish. Then the end battle sequence is absolutely spectacular with several surprising twists (literally). You will be sitting on the edge of your seats.

Just be sure and visit the restrooms beforehand, because you will not want to miss a single moment!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Bonanza

Went to Wal-mart this evening for the usual stock-up items. I love that store! Of course, I ended up staying much longer than intended when I saw the table of discounted books. Bought three. Ah, my weakness indeed.

Books - I love books! I love what a good book does to my insides. A good book makes me think, engages my mind, heart, and soul. It makes me cry, my heart pound, or creates this fire of anger deep in my being. All sorts of emotions can come up when I've got a good book in my hands. When the feelings rise, that's when I know the book is good on at least some level.

My new house has a nook for my library. In all my years, I've bought and collected tons of books and then given away tons more (or lent them out, never to return). I would love to have an enormous room filled with books like Professor Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady". Sometimes I watch that movie just to see his library.

Right now I'm scoping out a new series of books for my son too. Summertime is coming up far too quickly, and I've yet to find a new series of books to interest him for summer reading. Any suggestions (appropriate, of course) would be most welcomed. I thought about perhaps getting him some Louis Lamour or such, but he's not into westerns or anything like that. He enjoys good fantasy fare and sci-fi (he loved Lord of the Rings). I need to get busy.

He'd have a complete cow if I made him read history all summer. Hey, a boy has to enjoy some things in life!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Realization

I've had a realization in the last couple of days.

Ever since completing my first novel, I've been restless, irritable, and just plain stiff with everyone in my life. I've not wanted to be a friend, daughter, mother, or sister to anyone. That's really, REALLY odd for me. Practically my entire life I've been something to someone (a pain in the behind mostly, but hey, that's still something). I feel like I haven't known myself this past week!

Many people have been worried about me the last few years now that my son is nearing the end of childhood. He's been the entire focus of my life for almost sixteen years. But in three short years he will be graduating high school and moving on with living his own life. And you know what? I'm looking forward to it with a smile.

Not that I don't love my son - anyone who knows me understands that's a given. Years of sweat and tears have been poured over my son. He's a great kid, and no mother could possibly be more proud than I. But when he leaves the nest, that's when I'll know that my sacrifices have all been worthwhile.

Then I'm onto a new course. For the first time in my life, the opportunity to pursue a dream will be fresh on my list. No, it isn't just the book - there are many interests in my life that I want to have time to pursue. Those opportunities are just around the corner, waiting for me to climb on board and hold on for the ride.

I can hardly wait for the rush of exhilaration.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Family Budget

The last couple of days have found me busy! My family has kept it that way. After the big choir performance Thursday night, I entertained my parents for a couple of days. Then we had our relaxing Mother's Day (I believe a holiday especially for mothers should include relaxation time for said mothers). Then I got busy working up a budget for a young mother with whom I spend time. It brought back memories.

This young lady is seeking to get out on her own and get a place just for herself and her son. No matter how small an income, every adult child benefits greatly from experiencing life on their own. Having a young child, though, does provide for a few security issues to consider, so rent plays a major factor. When I looked around for an apartment all those years ago, I made sure to check out the parked cars, people milling about, and ask about families around the complex. Comfort and security is worth paying for, and I ended up blowing almost an entire paycheck every month just in rent. Of course that meant I had to make up for it in others areas of my budget. Sacrifices require commitment - that's one point I'm trying to get across.

There are quite a few things she's doing right on her own. While she has the opportunity, she's setting aside funds from every paycheck to cover deposits, first month's rent, and to provide for a cushion in the event of emergency. She's also taken to purchasing some items needed for starting up a new household. That alone gets quite expensive.

When I started out as a single mother, I had the benefit of having already experienced a few years out on my own. Household goods were readily available, and I had a stable, full-time job. But having a child brings all sorts of unexpected expenses, time constraints, and worries that you just cannot account for. However, the flip side is that if one stays where it is always safe, you never get the benefit of truly experiencing all life has to offer. Our children need to know that mommie and/or daddy can take care of them. That means they don't always have the best or newest of everything, but that their needs are provided for and plenty of hugs are dispensed. Having family around can also be a blessing.

Just remember - love is free and is always readily replenishable.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Going Out With A Bang

Tonight is my son's huge end-of-the-year choir performance.

He just informed me this morning that he has to have a blue shirt and an orange shirt for the performance. They'll have their official shirt also - that's three shirts for one performance. I'm just happy he already has said colors of shirts. My thoughts and prayers go out to other parents who are currently tearing through stores looking for an orange shirt. It can't be a pretty sight - trust me, I've been there. My son is the king of last minute surprises. Can't tell you how many times we've been on the way to school only to have him pipe up:

"Oh, Mom - I need posterboard for a project today."

"Oh, Mom - I need five bucks today for the school play."

"Oh, Mom - do you happen to have a dozen cookies lying around unattended at this very moment?"

But I digress.

The dancing portion hasn't thrilled him. This will be their only performance where everyone will participate in the dancing sequences, which is probably why they aren't wearing their tuxes. After rehearsals this week, he's complained about his poor knees. I can see why. One currently sports a nasty bruise. I remember the days of grinning and bearing it myself. I told him it didn't look like it'd have to be amputated anytime soon. He'll survive.

His grandparents are making a special trip to town today. I'm thrilled that they're putting themselves out on a Thursday to make him feel special.

I've no doubt this performance will live up to our expectations.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Feeling Strange

Ever since completion of my book early Monday morning I've been feeling rather strange.

Restless. Irritable. Very odd for me. Maybe it's just the lack of sleep talking.

Figured I'd have more of a sense of elation and euphoria. I asked some of my critique group friends last night how they felt after previously completing their work. None felt the way I was feeling. Several commented how I looked royally ticked off. I think I scared them (hee, hee, hee). Oh the power! :-)

Maybe it just has to do with my expectations. Generally speaking, I always seem to have higher expectations for accomplishing or feeling than what actually transpires. Perhaps that's also my perfectionistic attitude coming through. I reach for the stars and only get to the mountaintop - then I'm left feeling deflated.

Oh well. I'd rather continue to reach for the stars and have to deal with my attitude. Who knows - I just might reach those pesky stars someday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

You Can Stop Now, Tonya

After midnight Monday morning - I'm finally done.

I feel about ready to cry. I've finally completed a major milestone in my life - a completed novel. This particular one carries a great deal of me in it even though it is actually fiction. I've poured my heart and soul into this piece of work and even done some soul searching and healing through it. There's a planned sequel, but at least book one is finally finished.

Well the first draft anyway. I'll get busy on revisions after letting it simmer for a month or two. Maybe even three.

I started it almost three years ago - June 8, 2005. Of course, it could have been done much earlier if I'd have stuck with it every stinking day. But life too must go on and be lived.

For now, I'm going to bed. Tonight will be sweet dreams indeed, that is if I can relax these knots in my neck.

Oh and Tonya, you can stop with the drumroll and go to bed yourself. You've been a great friend to stay up with me all weekend!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Drum Roll Please

This will be a huge weekend for me.

My son is going to his dad's. That leaves me ripe and ready for only one thing - finishing my book.

The last few weeks have been a blur as my son winds down with school performances, trips, and adventurous possibilities. We had my niece's wedding a couple of weeks ago. Next weekend my family will come in to see the big, end of the school-year choir bash. The remainder of May has something going on every single weekend. That leaves me with only this weekend to work hard to finish.

Part of me has struggled with this. Some dear friends of mine are moving into their new house this Saturday and sent out an APB for assistance. If only it were another weekend! They've been so helpful to me in the past, and I feel so guilty about turning them down. I was still debating myself last night when I went to bed.

But this is the only weekend I'll have available until mid-June. I just can't wait any longer. I've been in labor with this book far too long. The head is crowning, and all it's going to take is one final PUSH to get it out. It's this weekend or bust.

When I woke up this morning the story was already heavy in my head. That rather sealed my decision. I might get a headache if I can't write and get it out of inner-space. The idea of carrying around a headache for the next month doesn't sound pleasant. With that said, my decision is made. Sometimes just making a decision releases one from built up tension.

Now if you would please, Tonya (my critique group will understand). I promise you won't have to do it past this weekend.

Drum roll please!