Monday, April 30, 2012


If I whine about how it's going today -- my actual birthday -- my sister Cyerspace Sarah will drive up here and pinch me.  I will be silent.  Let's just say some days don't go as we plan, do they?

No, I had a truly delightful weekend with Big Daddy Brent.  We stayed at the hotel where he took me out for dinner on my 23rd birthday, (ahem) 20 years ago.  We had fun hanging out together, window shopping, eating and such.  The highlight of the trip was going to see Mama Mia.

Now, I knew that Mama Mia had a pretty enthusiastic following, but I was not prepared for how excited these friends would get.  The large grandpa-type man next to me could not stop dancing . . . even though there wasn't really room for his dancing and my body in the seat next to him.

Grandma lady in front of us brought her daughter and three small granddaughters.  I wouldn't have done that.  There are some "adult situations."  It was all pretty funny stuff, but I wouldn't have brought the boys.  At one point small granddaughter turned to ask her mother about a certain word that was used . . . that had to do with the pollination of gymnosperm . . . sort of.  I thought, "Well, that kinda serves you right, lady."  Anyway, apparently grandma had gotten into an altercation with a man in the bar line and used a naughty word with him and then spun around and had a drink spilled on her.

"Serves you right," said daughter.

I don't know.  It was an interesting crowd.  Lots of cheering.  Lots of dancing.  That's the way to celebrate a birthday!

PLUS, Brent bought me a pink birthday cake.  Just right for a gal in a household of boys.  Think I'll eat some right now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Can Fix It

"I am so mad at you," said our dearly beloved reader-friend Sue. And then we were interrupted by another friend so I could not hear exactly why she was mad.

Do you remember the movie Protocol with Goldie Hawn?  No?  Just me, then.  The head of the protocol office asks Goldie, "My dear, do you know what you've done?"

Goldie answers something to the effect, "Whatever it is I can fix it. Or clean it. Or pay for it."

That was the thought going through my mind, "Whatever it is I can fix it. Or clean it. Or pay for it."

I panicked because the last thing in the world I wanted was to have Sue mad at me.

Turns out Sue thought it was time I stopped referring to myself as a fat mommy runner.  I will do my very best, but it is going to be a while before I can refer to myself as a runner -- period -- without laughing.

I haven't actually seen Coach Sam in several weeks; although, we have kept in touch by email.  Sue's husband Les has done a nice job acting as assistant coach.  I'm not sure he knows I've given him the title.  He will now.  One day my leg was bothering me and because he is a former phy ed teacher*, I asked him what he thought.

"Well, you should ask your coach,"  he said and then gave me a list of about 20 things to try.  It was excellent advice and my leg felt better in a couple of days.

Are you ever too old to need the comfort and advice and cheerleading from people a little farther along the path than you are? I surely hope not.

* I'd like to insert a joke here about him being especially helpful because he was an adaptive phy ed teacher, but . . .
 (1) I don't want to get into more trouble with Sue.
 (2) I don't want to show any disrespect to adaptive phy teachers who are amazing heroes in this particular house. ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Track Meet Thoughts

Before Colin's last race on Monday I found myself in a panic, "That's too far!  He can't run that far!  How can he run that far?"

I was in such an awkward position. I didn't want him to the the autistic kid on the track team.  Above all else I want Colin to be one of the guys, but there in that moment I wanted to shout, "Shouldn't someone let the autistic kid have a head start????"

No.  Not if he's going to be just one of the guys on the track team.

And he didn't need it.  Sure he came in last, but he kept up.  And we found out later that for whatever reason he was running with older kids.

Sometimes "normal" kids come in last.

At dinner the subject of marriage came up.  I asked Colin if he thought he would get married.

"Yeah, I don't think I want to be single."

Panic set in my heart.  Will there ever be a girl with the patience for the kind of isolation Colin requires to recharge his batteries every day?  Will Colin learn to communicate effectively with her? How is this ever going to happen??

But wait. How many mothers of 13-year-old boys wonder if they are ever going to leave the nest. I would guess a lot.

What a gut-wrenching heart-ripping thing motherhood can be.

Curses to you, autism, for making it even more complicated.

Thank you, autism, for making my child the lovely interesting kid that he is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Track Meet!

Hooray, the track team finally had their first meet.  Colin will not be going to the Olympics this year, but I don't think any other junior higher from this group will be either, so if you look at it that way . . .

It's hard to get a good start when you have your ears plugged because you don't like the starting pistol.  Maybe some ear plugs would help.  We should have sent some today.  I have to say that even though he didn't come blazing across the finish line in any of his races, he did look like a tough track team kid.  These weeks in the weight room are really paying off.

I found the whole thing sort of tortuous.  I would never have said I was a pushy athletic parent, but there I was from the sidelines, "KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!!!!! KEEP RUNNING!!!!!! DON'T QUIT NEAR THE EEEEEEEEEEND!!!!!"

Really the other junior high parents were most silent.  It was just me.  Horrifying.  I have seven more meets to practice good parent etiquette.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Diana's Dresses

My dear friend Roberta and I went to see Princess Diana's dresses yesterday at the Very Big Mall.  You are forbidden to take photos inside the exhibit.  One teeny, tiny little old lady in a large red hat was taken to the ground when she took a snap of the wedding dress.  You could, however, photograph this replica of the wedding cake all you liked:

Those decorations on the sides are different state symbols.  Thank goodness there were not state symbols on mine.  Just dessert-y goodness.  Can you imagine?  "Oh, look!  I got the Windsor coat of arms!"

Truthfully, I got a little misty in the wedding dress room.  I was 13 when she got married.  The perfect age to imagine there was an older charming prince waiting for me.  The dress is starting to yellow and it looks dated by today's wedding dress standards, but it is still certainly beautiful.  In fact, with the exception of a few dresses she wore during her engagement, all of the dresses displayed were beautiful and classic.  You could wear any one of them today and no one would notice that you were wearing something 15 plus years old.  She had good taste . . . or she was surrounded by people with good taste.  Either way.

In the end, even though my prince doesn't have as much nobility as hers, I think I got the better end of the deal, if not the clothes.  My prince is unarguably better looking and more emotionally stable.  He did not come with lands and castles, but he came with Jeremy and Shelby and that was a pretty good deal.

Plus, no one from the press is chasing me down.  Well, except for Jimmy who publishes a monthly paper for seniors.  We saw each other at preschool pick up.

He wanted to tell me he saw my letter in Newsweek.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Entry Form: Part 2

I left you hanging.

I did enter the race, so here we go . . .

Two and a half weeks.

I would like to tell you I am feeling more confident emotionally, but I am not.  Complete panic in my heart of hearts.  That being said, I do think I can drag my fat mommy butt across the finish line, so that's something.

I shall think about and look for signs of the life cycle of the gymnosperm on my way.

HA!  Ohhhhhhhhh!  Some days we are crazier than others.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Pine Cone resting comfortably after exhausting trip through reproduction
 Who is ready for a break from 7th grade homework besides me?  Last night we had this:

(which is a pine cone in case you didn't remember)
Fill in the blank.

The (blank) is (blank) and grows (blank) to (blank). (Blank) then (blank) and is released by (blank) which then (blank).

Okay.  I am exaggerating.  It wasn't that bad.  Or maybe it was worse.  Either way, I wanted to cry.  I am going to be 43 in a couple of weeks.  I have two bachelor's degrees and I just couldn't figure out what was supposed to go in those blanks.

Not that I was doing my son's homework for him, but reading comprehension isn't really his bag.  It helps if I can point to the area in the text where he needs to start looking.  Only last night (and this was not the first time), the text and the worksheet didn't seem to match.

This is good for me anyway.  Reading comprehension is my bag, so when I was Colin's age I zoomed through these worksheets.  I retained none of it.  Now I know the life cycle of the pine cone.

Soon to be track star and favorite s'daughter Shelby.

Track is getting less painful for Colin each passing day.  We have yet to go to a track meet.  It was cold and rainy -- and when I say "rainy" I mean snowy -- from Friday to Monday, so two meets were rescheduled.  We try again this Friday.  I will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Letter to the Editor

One of the best parts of the week in the family weekly newspaper business was reading the letters to the editor.  Every periodical no matter how large or small has writers who send in regular letters.  Some of these writers are crazier than others.

One of ours was a woman whose personal campaign was public schools.  She lived near an elementary school and she had some really powerful opinions.  One of her beefs was that the elementary school had trees on their property.  The leaves fell off these trees and she, an innocent taxpayer, was forced to clean up the mess.  The least the school could do was send over some child to rake.  I mean how were those kids going to learn responsibility?

My favorite letter from her concerned school breakfast.  In Minnesota if the majority of your district's residents are under a certain income level, the school must serve free breakfast to the elementary students.  My letter writer was incensed! Incensed, I tell you!!  Couldn't these children learn to make toast?!  Why was she, an innocent taxpayer, forced to feed them?  Especially since they couldn't even be bothered to rake her yard!

She was just one of several regular writers we had.  It made me sensitive to responding to something in writing. I really have to be fired up -- and then I tend to assume maybe I am overreacting.  Maybe I need to think carefully and choose my words carefully, so I don't sound like a crazy person forcing kindergartners on a diet of bread and water and forced labor.

Well, last week I read an article in a national news magazine that I mostly agreed with but thought the author had taken some liberties with what I believe are the facts.  Rather than mull over my best argument, I sat right down at this very computer and dashed off a strongly worded email with pertinent references.  As I hit send I thought to myself, "Huh.  I wish I had taken more time to think that through. Oh, well.  I will never have my letter printed in this magazine.  They will probably say, 'Crazy person!' and throw it in the trash."

So it was with trepidation I opened this week's copy of the magazine and . . . there it was.  Right there.  In a national news magazine.

I have never felt such a tremendous mix of pride and horror. Why, oh why, oh why didn't I take a few more minutes to think through my argument rather than just fire off what was on the tip of my tongue?  Why?

On the plus side, it is nicely edited.  And it is my debut as an international writer. HA! And the news cycle is very short.  As we used to tell upset people when they called the newspaper, "Next week there will be a different copy."

As long as I don't keep writing or endorse child labor, I should be okay.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Entry Form

This is week five of my running training.  It's going better than I thought it would.  It's time to pre-register for the 5K which is four weeks from now.

I've had the on-line form open on my desktop for two days now.  I can't bring myself to do it, but what am I afraid of?

I suspect I am having old phy ed emotional issues.  I don't want anyone looking at me while I run (even though my daily route takes me alongside a state highway).  I don't want to be passed by 10k runners.  I don't want my high school classmates laughing at my goofy self-expressive running outfit (even though it's been 25 years since I was in high school).  I don't want to be defeated by the hill which starts the run.  I don't want pitiful looks as I come panting my fat-mommy pant across the finish line.

What if I get stuck?

What if I get sick?

What if Jesus comes and I am out in the middle of a field instead of standing with my family?

What if I am beaten by a rogue gang of highway robbers?

What if I am the dead last one and everyone has gone home?

What if I am the dead last one and everyone has stood around waiting for me?

What's that you say?  Just enter the stupid race because you're going to be fine?


Okay.  But you better wait for me at the finish and pretend like I'm not dead last and you haven't been standing there all day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Running Update and other Sundry Items of Little Interest

I chose today's title over "Writer's Block Monday: The Anguish Continues."  It's just very dull around here.

Running is going fine.  Saturday was 2.5 miles.  It's been very windy which has been a challenge.  Also, I seem to have aggravated an injury I received walking downhill at reader-friend Molly's last summer.  I may or may not have been trying to balance my tasty summertime cocktail and some snacks as I made my way back down to the lake in wedge flip flops.  Tricky.

Colin has survived his first week of track.  He's not in love with it.  He doesn't like it when he doesn't know exactly what to expect.  I, personally, know how this feels.  I'm hoping when he gets his first meet out of the way, he'll rally.

I was remembering this morning that for the entire length of last school year, he swore up and down it was his last year of choir.  Then when it came time to register, he registered for choir.  Who can understand the male adolescent mind?

The neighbors out my kitchen window are snowbirds.  They have not returned yet, but someone came and got their car.  This weekend a great-granddaughter or someone came and dug up the peonies.  Stay tuned for further action packed neighborhood updates.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My 88-year-old grandma, whom we call Gigi, came over yesterday.  She is cleaning her house and brought me a few silver serving pieces.  I smiled and nodded through the lecture on how to keep silver clean.  Gigi is a stickler for untarnished silver.  I have heard this lecture many times.

As she wrapped up the lecture she looked at me.  "Now," she said. "Do you have silverware?"

I tried not to let the panic show on my face.  "Yes, Grandma.  I have silverware."

When I was in my teens, Gigi relaxed from her high pressure university job by going to auction sales.  She collected several sets and when I was 13 or 14, I was allowed to pick out my own set.  Grandma knew who had which set and as she auctioned away, she added to mine.  I was underwhelmed owning silver at 14, but I carted that silver to all my single girl apartments.  When I got married, I started digging it out for every little guest who came by for grilled cheese.  Why not.

Gigi has personally washed and dried my silverware at every Thanksgiving dinner at my house for the past 10 years.  As I said, she is a stickler for clean silver.  If you wash and dry it right away and put it back in its plastic in its case, it stays nicer longer.

It's not unreasonable for an 88-year-old grandma to have a lapse in memory.  Think of all the things you'd have stored in your brain by that time.

It's just unreasonable for my 88-year-old grandma to have a lapse in memory.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Light it Up Blue

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  I have written about this over the years, most recently last Monday.  My passion on this topic has become to urge people to understand what autism really is and how to interact with autistic people.  There are many good websites.  This one from is my favorite.  What can you do to emotionally support someone with autism?  What can you do to support that person's family?  Even a really high functioning autistic kid needs a lot of support from his or her family, and it can be physically, emotionally and financially draining.

Right now my autistic son is practicing with the track team -- not as the "autistic kid" on the junior high track team, but as a kid who can run like the wind.

Learn what autism really means.