One Long Exhausting Week

The week simply started bad. Sunday evening, we were putting away laundry and preparing for another week of  school and work, when my daughter looks at her pile of clothes and says, “I can’t breathe.” She’d had a cough at night for a few days, but she hadn’t complained at all and she was very active during the day. I had already planned to call her doctor for a checkup if the cough didn’t go away, but my plans changed as I asked more questions.

Does your throat hurt? Does your chest hurt? What about your ears? Nose? Tongue?Eyes? What about your big toe? How’s it doing these days?

She said her chest was scratchy, her throat hurt kinda, and her ear hurt if she stuck her finger in it. The big toe, thankfully, was fine. This is the same kid who came to me over a year ago and said, “Mom, my tongue hurts.” I looked at it with a flashlight to discover that it wasn’t her tongue, but her tonsils that hurt. They were the size of grapes. That resulted in a trip to the emergency room. She hadn’t complained about it at all before that.

While I was taking her temperature, her nine year old brother coughed. I said, “Oh no you don’t. I know that as soon as I get her healthy again, you’re going to end up at urgent care with the same bug. That’s it, you’re going, too.”

Instead of going to work on Monday morning, I waited four hours with a very sick little girl, and a threatening to be sick little boy at urgent care. I never understood why it’s called urgent care since nothing there is ever done urgently.

With a diagnosis of bronchitis for each child as well as a double ear infection for my daughter, we left urgent care to go to the pharmacy and fill five prescriptions. I then packed my little sicklies back in the car and I drove to work to trade kids for work. Luckily, or unluckily some days, we work at the same place. So, I unpacked the kids from my truck straight into my husband’s car, he took them home and I worked the rest of the day.

Husband stayed home Tuesday and I stayed home Wednesday with the kids. Thursday, everyone went to school and work like usual except that I was totally buried in work just from missing one and a half days.

Monday night through Thursday night, my husband takes our oldest son to his night classes at 6 and I pick the kid up at 11. In other words, I literally sleep about 5 hours a night. Throw in a couple of coughing kids and I’m lucky to get 3 hours of good sleep.

Friday was the last day of school and included me racing from work  to an eighth grade graduation for son number two.

Saturday, they’re all hanging out in the pool and I’m exhausted.

Finally, on Sunday evening I start feeling human again. Then, my daughter coughed. I told her if she started feeling bad at all, she had to tell me right away so I could take her back to the Dr because I didn’t want her to get pneumonia. She and my youngest son both listened with rapt attention as I explained how I barely survived a bout of pneumonia as a child.

It started with my grandfather falling asleep on the lakefront. My 7 year old brother and my 5 year old self were swimming in the lake at the time. Except, I couldn’t swim so maybe wading is a better term.

We were wading in the lake. Actually, I was just walking in the water until the surface dropped off. Then I was under the water and sinking like a stone.

My brother thought I was kidding. I could see him through the murky water. At least until everything went black. When I came to, vomiting up most of the lake, some teenager had pulled me out, someone had roused my grandfather, and my brother was completely awed. “I thought you were dead! Man, that was cool!”

Soon after this mishap, I got sick, except my mom didn’t believe I was sick. She thought I was faking to get out of going to school.

Do kindergartners do that? Really?

When I stopped getting enough oxygen and I became lethargic and unresponsive, my mother finally decided it was time for me to see a doctor. The diagnosis? Walking pneumonia. The doctor told my mother I was very close to death and it’s a good thing she didn’t wait a minute longer.

When I finished telling my children this story, my son said, “Wow Mom, you saved millions of people.”

Understandably confused, I frowned and said, “How did my nearly dying save anyone?”

“Because,” he replied, “you have four kids, and we could each have four kids, and they all have four kids. That will be millions of people!”

I looked to my daughter for help.

She stared back at me innocent and wide-eyed and said, “Did you live?”


I Wish I Were a Cat

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I want to be a housecat.

I mean really, is there a better life than to be a pampered fat cat?

Let’s think about this for just a minute.

I wake up from my early morning nap when I hear an alarm clock going off. When the human walks out of their room, I weave in and out of their feet trying to trip them so they can see the world from my point of view.

If they make it into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, I’ll be right there yowling around their ankles until the noise penetrates their sleeping ears and they fill up my food and water bowls. Then the human can go away while I enjoy my breakfast and take my morning nap.

When I wake up, the humans have all left my house and I can sit in any windowsill I choose. I stretch out all of my feline muscles while my sharpened claws are hooked in the upholstery of the living room couch.

I take my early afternoon nap, eat some more, then go lay in a human bed to groom myself, making sure to lick away all of the loose hair and other nasties so I’m nice and clean.

Then it’s naptime again.  After that, I stroll across the kitchen counters and table, looking for leftover scraps or those yummy breakfast dishes the young humans leave when they go to school.

Then it’s naptime.

Around the time I wake up, humans return to my house so I lounge around on the floor like the good kitty they think I am.

Periodically, I’d need to use the litter box, and when I cover my mess, I’d get to throw litter all over the floor. What do I care? I don’t have to clean it up. Once a week, the humans will put fresh litter in there and sweep up my mess.

When I want to be stroked, I only have to rub my furry face against a human and I get instant gratification.

Of course, when the humans are home, unless I’m eating, using the litter box, or being rubbed, I will spend all of my time napping.

When they go to bed, I will spend my time playing. My favorite game will involve rolling a marble across the tile floor just outside the adult human’s bedroom.

Meow.


Hot Fun in the Summertime

Summer has arrived.

Technically, it’s only May and summer doesn’t really arrive until June 21 this year, but where I live, summer is in full force.

It’s 102 degrees as I write.

Tommorrow, its supposed to be 106, and the forecast predicts 110 by Tuesday.

It’s only May.

On the plus side, the kids will live in the pool for the next four months. I may get some writing done.


To my family on Mother’s day

Hey guys, remember me?
The tall redhead who gave birth to you.
Not ringing a bell, huh?
Okay then… how about… the lady who wanders around cleaning up after you? Making sure you have food to eat, clean clothes to wear, pays for the utilities and puts a roof over your head?

No?
Um, okay.

I’m the one who pays your allowance and grounds you.
Ah, NOW you remember.

Just so you know, today was Mother’s Day.
Really.
Yes, It’s always been in May.
No, it wasn’t supposed to be on a Tuesday this year. It’s always on a Sunday.
Look at the calendar. It’s circled in red. There are big blue arrows pointing to it.
Yes I scribbled on the calendar.
No, you can’t.

Stop trying to change the subject!

Today was Mother’s Day. Millions of mothers got flowers, taken out to dinner, pampered.
No, not Pampers or diapers. Not every mother is old.
I am NOT that old!

That’s it. You’re grounded!
And no allowance for a month!

Next year for Mother’s Day, I’ll be relaxing on a beach.
Alone.
We’ll see how long it takes before you guys notice I’m missing.

Yeah I know, you’ll notice on allowance day.


To Be Tattooed

I woke up this morning with a tattoo. It’s a fluid , graceful horse head sitting delicately on my right ankle. It’s lovely.

It wasn’t there when I went to bed and I don’t remember going out and getting drunk. If I did go out and get drunk, I would  remember some of it – wouldn’t I?

I stumbled out of my room blurry-eyed and headed for the coffee pot. At least my new body art didn’t hurt. Or maybe I was really really drunk. As caffeine coursed through my blood, I became aware of giggling coming from the living room.

There sat my eight year old son and seven year old daughter.

Or at least I think it was them.

It was hard to tell through the tattoos covering them from head to foot, but the giggles sounded familiar. My husband reclined on the couch, his right arm tattooed clear down to the hand holding the remote. I guess I should consider myself lucky that only my foot and ankle were accessible to the tatoo bandits giggling on the living room floor.

When they saw me watching, the little tribal covered beings chased after me , each with a sponge in one hand and slips of plastic coated paper gripped in the other. I barely escaped into my bathroom with my coffee before the sponge slapped wetly against the door and the giggling fiends went in search of another victim.

I think I heard a cat yowl.

Should I tell them I don’t have any rubbing alcohol to remove their decorations?
No more sleeping in for me if it means my husband has to take the kids to the store with him. Who knows what they will come home with next.

Knowing my luck, my husband will decide to let them play doctor and I will wake up strapped to the bed by bandages. And with my luck, the tattooed cat will be in there with me.


On Any Given Sunday

In today’s busy world, many of us flit from one activity to another without taking the time to reflect on the small events that shape our lives.

Last Thursday after working all day, I drove home in rush hour traffic, picked up my second oldest son and took him shopping with me to buy all of the pieces to make Easter special for my family of six. I raced through two stores, buying eggs, Easter basket goodies, groceries, coloring kits, and the other miscellaneous items on my list. I arrive home and unload groceries while my husband begins dinner. My evening slows down just as it’s time to get the little kids in bed. I repeated this entire scene again on Friday, this time returning to the store with my daughter to purchase the items I forgot to purchase on Thursday as well as birthday presents for parties on Saturday.

During all of this, I received a message from a dear friend who told me to “Enjoy the joys of my little ones.”

That thought gave me pause.

My seven year old daughter has been excited all week. Saturday, she went to her very first birthday party that her brothers were not invited to. In her eyes, this was her first show of independence, that she got invited to a birthday party with other little girls, and her brothers couldn’t go. She’s watched with envy for years as her popular older brothers went to parties and had friends come to the house. She and I went shopping alone on Friday. She picked the birthday present. She picked the wrapping paper, the card, and the bows. Early Saturday morning, she was dressed and ready for the party before her brothers were even awake. She behaved well all morning in spite of her bubbling excitement. I thoroughly enjoyed my daughter’s joy.

So this Easter Sunday, or on any given Sunday, or any moment that you can, enjoy the joy of those you love.

 

Claire Collins is the author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny.


One-eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater

My seven year old daughter came home from school very excited to show me the new song and dance she learned. The song was “One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.” As a child, I had the record of the song and it always made me laugh, it also made me wonder where the creature found purple people. I looked at my daughter and asked her that very question.

“Addy, you’re so cute. I love your song and dance, but where did he find purple people?”

She stopped and looked at me. She didn’t question why I didn’t find fault with this amazing creature to begin with since obviously she’s used to my quirks. She laughed at me.

“Mom, the people aren’t purple, the bird is purple!”

Okay, now I never imagined this creature as a bird, but her imagination is her own, and not mine. I just imagined him as a big fat furry purple thing with wings. She sees him as a bird. She sang the song again with the proper movements while she sang. 

“One-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater.”

“Right Addy, he’s a one-eyed—“

“Right”

“One-horned—“

“Right”

“Flying—“

“Purple people eater!”

“No Mom!” Addy sighed and rolled her eyes. She’s very dramatic for a seven year old. “He’s a flying…purple…people eater!”

“Okay, honey. Fine. He doesn’t eat purple people. Why do you think he’s a bird?” She left me there pondering that question and went to show daddy her new song and dance.

This exchange happens in books all the time. I recently read over a rough draft someone wrote. Okay, since she is usually the victim of my blogs, I will go ahead and admit that it was my sister, Suzette Vaughn.

While reading through her wonderful prose, and looking for misplaced commas and typos, I came across the following sentence:

He pushed his glasses up his nose.

I stopped reading immediately. He did what? Then I cracked up laughing because while reading the scene, totally into the dialogue between the characters, the lead man suddenly stops, takes his glasses off, and shoves them UP his nose! Through my fits of hysterical laughter, I managed to wake my husband up and reword the sentence. I suggested she write something more like: “He situated his glasses on the bridge of his nose” or “He slid his glasses into place on the bridge of his nose”.

 

The intended meaning is obvious, but while reading, the original words gave me a completely different meaning than what was intended. Just remember it is very important to have the correct wording and order of words while writing. You don’t really want your character to shove things up his nose do you?

 

Claire Collins, author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal, will be in the Greensboro, North Carolina area over Valentine’s Day for Second Wind Publishing’s Author Event.