Posted in books, Career, continuing education, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Explaining the Strange Behavior, School, The Book, Thor, Tiara Trouble, writing

Terrifying Tiara Trouble and Thanks


I have great news!  TIARA TROUBLE, the first in the Destinee Faith Miller Mystery series, will be available for purchase on 10/28/2013.  Eee!

TiaraTroubleEbook

And that’s the cover, right there!  All Destinee’d up with her signature pink and zebra.  You knew Destinee’s signature colors were pink, black, and zebra, right?  Unlike her trampy arch-nemesis, Tishelle Tucker, whose signature colors are red, black, and leopard.

So, now with a release date set, and behind the scenes plans going into action, I will admit to you that I am scared.  What if it flops?  What if people hate it?  Why did I write so many words?  Is anyone going to get my sense of humor?  What if I’m not a good writer?

A lot of what-ifs, people.  Ultimately, if it flops, it flops, and if people hate it, they hate it.  I wrote so many words because they seemed necessary at the time, and if I continued to second guess myself, it would have been whittled down to the length of a magazine article.  If no one gets my sense of humor, that’s fine–like that hasn’t happened before.  I’m okay with the sound of crickets.  And, I know I write well.  Whether, or not other people agree that I write novels well is yet to be seen.

I think I got so used to people telling me that I wasn’t ever living up to my fullest potential that I never think my efforts are my best.  Or, maybe I’m afraid they are.  And if they are, what does that mean?  Does that mean I am not the rare Sparklefly my mother thinks I am?!

I think about that a lot when it comes to how I parent.  I see a lot of myself in Thor.  He is an exceptionally smart child, and he is an exceptionally creative daydreamer–those two things don’t add up to Straight A Student.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t living up to his fullest potential, though.  That means that this is his groove.

Grades don’t show potential.  Grades show self-discipline.  Kind of like being an accomplished musician is different from being a talented musician.  You can be taught to play anything.  You can’t be taught to create.  What is ideal is when you have the self-discipline to make the grades, and the potential to turn that self-discipline/learning into something.

I tell Thor that he must strive for excellence.  I expect him to try his hardest, and not give up.  I don’t expect him to make perfect scores, but I expect him to work toward getting things right–he should want to get things right.  I don’t expect him to be the top of his class, all honors, everybody’s all-American.  I expect him to fully utilize his resources, and do the work.  Where he lands, he lands.*

I have, and will continue to impress upon him that education/school is what gives you the tools to build a future.  Does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of straw, or does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of bricks?  Well, he has to have to right tools to build the kind of brain he wants, and the right tools are often heavy and take more effort to lift.

Writing this, I am thinking about the wonderful teachers I had, who outweighed the awful ones.  Good teachers are brain-tool salesmen, who make you think you can’t live without knowing how to parse a sentence, or solve a quadratic equation.  You just have to have that ability to name the colors in the rainbow!  You absolutely MUST get in on that ability to recite the Gettysburg Address!  You cannot possibly go another day without reading The Scarlet Letter!  Because good teachers get you to buy in to the mental body building it takes to wield the tools, and the stamina necessary to keep going.

It isn’t necessary to be a sparklefly.  Sparklefly is only good for so much.  But it is necessary to build a solid foundation and the self-discipline to put that foundation to work.  Enough elbow grease can shine up an ordinary fly to look sparkly.

I worked hard at TIARA TROUBLE, and I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t on the chance that it fails.  You know, so I could say, “Well, it’s not like it was my best effort.”  I honestly don’t know what my best effort looks like.  All I can tell you is that I worked very hard and I am proud of the result, and I really hope you like it.  I hope it makes you laugh.  I like it.  I’ve had to read it about 60 times now, and I still make myself laugh.

So, thank you Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Mendina, Dr. Chaisson, Dr. Morris, Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Cargile, Mrs. Mack, and Mrs. Barnes.  You were excellent brain-tool salespeople, and the fact that I am a functioning adult, much less a published author at all is a credit to your mad skillz.

 

*There is no Tiger to this Mom.  That might not be something to be proud of, I don’t know.  I guess I’ll find out in about 20 years.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Newton, CT School Shooting


News reports are coming out about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut.  As I type, there are 27 believed dead, and 10 of those are believed to be children.  I know it is half a country away, but what I want to do right now is go get my child and duct tape him to my back.  Then, anyone would literally have to come through me to get to him.

My heart goes out to the families of all involved in this tragedy.  My heart goes out to the students, the teachers, and the staff.  To the law enforcement agents who will have to deal with the scene and aftermath.  To the personnel who will be working with those little bodies.  To the community at large.

Columbine was horrific.  This is an elementary school, so the tragedy seems heightened.

No matter how appealing it sounds to me right now, I won’t cut holes in a duffle bag and wear Thor like a backpack for the rest of his childhood because you can neither understand, nor prepare for crazy.  All you can do is squeeze the best out of every day, tell your kids EVERY DAY how much you love them, how proud of them you are, and how privileged you are to know them, and back it up with your actions.  Then, no matter what happens to whom, their little hearts are sure and solid.

There is a peace that passes understanding, and I pray that for everyone involved.

Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, Inside Lane, Lancient History

…but Bad Girls Go Everywhere


Suddenly, my child who was wearing a 4T, this time last year, is fitting well into a child’s size medium t-shirt.  This time last year, he wore an extra-small, and that was roomy.  This time last year, he was still wearing some of his old 3T shorts without issue.  Those toddler days are long gone.  By the time the school year rolls around, he’s going to be 6 feet tall!  And speaking of school…

Today, I read something that amounted to this:  Boys are better at solving problems/taking on learning challenges than girls because boys are encouraged to “try” whereas girls are encouraged to “be”.  That is, girls more often receive encouragement and praise for innate qualities (like prettiness, or goodness, or sweetness), whereas boys more often receive encouragement and praise for qualities that require practice and learning (like thinking, or physical activity).  While the crux of my personal experience does not support the article, that has a lot to do with having had a largely non-coed education.

Until 7th grade, I was either in all-girls school, or my classes were segregated by gender.  Through 5th grade, the boys and girls at my school were taught in separate classrooms.  We might have passed each other in the hallways, but the only time we mixed were for field trips or the class play.  Thus and so, I never experienced the grade school phenomenon of being treated differently because of my gender.  If there was competition to be had it was strictly based on ability, or potential ability.

Then again, I wasn’t a “good” girl in school.  I was a talker, and a balker, and a doodler, daydreamer, eyeball roller.  I wasn’t praised for my goodness because it just didn’t exist.  I wasn’t praised at school for prettiness–there were plenty of prettier girls in my grade anyway.  I wasn’t praised at school for sweetness.  Quite the contrary. 

When I received praise at school, it was for completing tasks ahead of expectation, for excelling at writing or singing, or for giving it my all even when success wasn’t an option (that was phys ed, and that’s pretty much what one of my phys ed teachers wrote in a grade school yearbook!)  But my school and my class were filled with extraordinary girls.

Sarah was an accomplished dancer by the time we were 3rd graders.  Lena could draw with amazing talent.  Helen was on her way to Junior Wimbledon.  Danielle was a violin virtuoso.  Laurel, a few grades ahead, hadn’t even started dancing before 7th grade, and ended up a principle dancer in a ballet company.  My classmates were all girls who did things.  And, I really can’t remember any of my teachers, though 6th grade, who gave us kudos for being quiet*, or nice, or anything other than for being the type of students they thought we should be.

I went to mixed schools for 7th and 8th grades, and 11th and 12th grades.  I think I had been well enough insulated from gender discrimination that when it happened, I didn’t recognize it for what it was.  When I was passed over, or ignored in favor of boys (and I was), I figured it was because I hadn’t asserted myself well enough, or proved myself–that just made me go into overdrive in the classroom. 

Then, I had teachers in those grades tell me to be more ladylike.  Teachers in those grades suggested that I was way too assertive, and two of them (both male coaches, one in 7th and one in 11th grade, who were teaching regular classes) told me that I needed to dial it back a notch because I was making a few of the boys feel bad (and in one case it led to a period in the gym, allowing the students to make grade points with free throws, and the coach asking me how it felt to be bad at something.  ???  Yeah, my mother had a field day with that one.  –Fortunately, I’d already had 6 years of knowing I was pathetic at sports to support me.)  I wasn’t the smartest girl, but I was apparently the most obnoxious! 

I never felt bad when I wasn’t the prettiest or the sweetest.  I knew I wasn’t the prettiest!  Or the sweetest.  I was horrified, though, when I felt I wasn’t smart enough, or able enough.  And I was mystified when my ability was confused with my lack of adorability, and I was penalized for not being a darling.

I had the great fortune to be educated by strong women, and educated to be a strong woman.  It wasn’t until I was in public school that the question of whether or not I would be a “good” woman came into play.

“Good” women, like the Proverbs 31 woman, literally do it all while their husbands reap all the benefit of praise at the city gates.  And “good” women smile beatifically at the fact that their husband is considered rich for their woman’s work.  I can’t even type that without my right eyebrow inching higher and my nostrils flaring.  BS!  I’ll do it all, but ain’t nobody gonna take the credit for it but me!

And if I’m working as hard as that Proverbs 31 woman?  My husband better be busting his chops, too.  Hanging around at the city wall telling his friends how great my garden grows won’t cut it.  I expect an equal partner, who is just as willing to weed and rake as I am**.

I will never be a “good” girl, and I’m proud of that.  Pretty fades into oblivion.  Sweet is overrated.  Praise your girls for being great thinkers, great problem solvers, great challenge over-comers, for having good reasoning abilities, and common sense, AND for being pretty, and kind to others, and respectful, and considerate, AND for being true to themselves, and pursuing their dreams, and for striving to get what they want for themselves–if it’s reaching for the next A, or the newest Barbie–encourage them to dream, then put legs to those dreams and run toward them.  They’ll learn to run fast enough that the naysayers and sexist twerps will just be a blur in their peripheral vision.

*By quiet, I mean unassuming.  We were encouraged to be assertive, and even a little aggressive.  Field Hockey was a big deal, after all.

**And I have that equal partner.  I am extremely fortunate.

Posted in Thor

In Thor News…


Since I have my blog back…

I walked away from Thor’s new school today, thinking, “We really did the right thing here.” I haven’t felt this good about his school since before the first elementary school misplaced him during the Kindergarten round-up. I haven’t seen him this happy about school since the abandonment in the bathroom. He is happy. He is chirpy. He is making friends. And, he tells us, his teacher made him Star of the Week.

This teacher has already responded to my introductory email by telling me, “He has already made several friends and the class has really responded well to him! He is such a good boy,” and saying the magic words I never heard from his first K teacher, “he is super smart!!”

I’m relieved, and happy, and…grateful. I am so grateful.

It does appear that he is going to get to stay in this class. At least, I haven’t been told anything otherwise. My metaphorical blood, sweat, and very real tears have paid off, and I am not a bit ashamed of having written that email begging the school to take him. Not a single bit.

Posted in Chef Lane, Howling Sea Lane

Rolling Stones and Baked Ziti


My mother has battled with kidney stones since I can remember. I can vividly recall the agony she was in, when Dad drove us from Denver to Colorado Springs, where I would stay with my Uncle’s family while Mom got medical treatment. It was pretty horrifying. I was three.

Off and on, since then, Mom has dealt with varying levels of stone pain. Three surgeries and countless days and nights of writhing, sweating, and heaving in pain. So, when B started groaning last night and told me it was a stone, I had a good idea of what we were in for–better or worse.

Thor had been very excited about starting his new school, so I didn’t get him to sleep until after eleven, and that required sitting in his bed until he succumbed. I came downstairs and thought I would give my new Wii EA Active Sport personal training thingie a try, and did a short workout while I waited for the laundry to dry. That’s pretty nifty, by the way, and I’ll write about it in another post.

I was on my way to bed at midnight, but B was already hurting so much he couldn’t lie still. At one, I gave up and got up. I couldn’t lie there while he hurt, and I couldn’t do anything to help him, other than just leave him alone and offer him water now and then. I figured if I got up, I could do something useful while he suffered.

So, I started prepping for our Tuesday night dinner of Baked Ziti.

I got my pasta cooked, and my onion chopped before B said it was bad enough to warrant the emergency room (and this is a man who can take a lot of pain, people), but we had to wait for my mother to arrive to keep an eye on Thor before we could go. I didn’t think I could manage to help B, who was hurting so badly he was having a hard time staying upright, and Thor, who would have been a very unhappy zombie child in such wee hours. While I waited for Mom to come, since I was already dressed and had opened my ground beef packet (I buy the tubes of 97/4 beef–I like it lean), I went ahead and browned my beef in the onions I had sauteed while the pasta was cooking. And by the time I had finished that and put everything in ziplock baggies, we had agreed that an ambulance was in order. (Thank God! And thank God for 9-1-1.)

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Lane cooked while her husband’s kidneys tried to pass a rock.

To my credit, I knew I was going to be exhausted today, and I needed to cook the beef before it went bad.

Mom arrived just ahead of the paramedics, and she went up to watch Thor while I headed to the hospital, arriving ahead of the ambulance. B’s parents were en route to meet me at the hospital because I needed to be home by 7 to get Thor to his first day of school.

Thankfully, the ER was empty, so B was well cared for, and drugged into a happy quiet. I’m sure our neighbors think we’re into some pretty kinky stuff from the loud sounds emanating from our bedroom last night. Kinky like crucifixion, the rack, drawing and quartering, and Draino cocktails. You know. Your average slap, tickle, and riding crop.

B’s parents arrived as he was being discharged, and it was all of us back to our tiny home. Two grown up bodies and one little person fit tidily in this space. We did not bring our sofa, only our loveseat, and we do not have another adult sized chair, only Thor’s little straightback and his saucer chair. Thus, five grown up bodies and one little person make for some embarrassment as a hostess, but there were bigger fish to fry.

My mom left to go to work, bless her. B’s parents split up, his dad going to fill B’s prescriptions, while his mother stayed to look after B. I got Thor dressed (and he was so dapper it hurt) and took him to his first day at his new school. He was a trooper, even though he was clearly striving to be brave.

Back to the house, since I hadn’t slept a wink since Sunday, I went to take a nap in Thor’s bed. Much like John Taylor’s bite of tuna sandwich (that was for the Duranies), it was not to be. The call that ruined everything came from the school. Some administrative error had placed Thor in the wrong classroom, and there is still a possibility that we may have to move him to another school entirely. Stay tuned for that rant if it needs writing. I gave up and went to work.

I do love my boss, though. Actually love her. She sat with family at my wedding. Love. And she called me Gorgeous even though I was much less that, and much more Gorgon.

The good news is that Thor liked school, and that he had a friend who rode the bus with him. His after school teacher/bus driver reported that he came out of the building hand-in-hand with this little girl, looking cute as could be. Of course Thor can’t remember her name or tell me anything other than that, “Yeah, she wasn’t Ba-loo,” who is another friend of his. He thinks girls are gross right now. They have cooties. I did not teach this to him, but am happy to let the feeling persist for as long as possible. (Side note: Abigail, Annabel and Autumn are not girls, he said. They are good people. Sadly, every other female who is not a mama or a grandmother is gross.)

We got home and I started the rest of dinner. It turned out to be a very good dish! It was cheesy, but not runny, and the spices were just right. I divided the leftovers into 3 packets and have frozen them to serve as side dishes with other entrees.

I did two more loads of laundry, including the sheets, did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, helped Thor with homework, wrote an introductory email to his teacher, fed the chickens, slopped the hogs, scrubbed the castle stairs, wrote an unedited blog entry about what I cooked for dinner and to what success (great, both boys ate it) and am now allowed to go to the ball. The ball being bed. Can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.