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Middle Monster Becomes a Mama

Last weekend, Middle Monster found a huge gorgeous moth in the back yard with damaged wings.  I’m pretty sure it was this Polyphemus Moth — freaking big enough to creep her out when it hopped around.  But she couldn’t leave the poor thing outside to get eaten, so she scooped it up in a plastic bowl (at least it wasn’t my good Tupperware this time). 

She put lots of grass and flowers and leaves in the bowl, determined to “feed” and “water” it.  The next morning, she came in and told me the butterfly was “pooping” in the bowl.

Ummm, do butterflies poop?  Anyway, this moth was not pooping.  In fact, it was laying eggs.  Absolutely thrilled, Middle started moving the tiny eggs into another plastic container for safe keeping.  Before Mama Moth died, she laid at least 20 or so eggs, and I’m pretty sure Middle found each and every one of them.

We had a somber burial for the poor damaged moth.

All this week, Middle rushed home from school to check her eggs.  Now I had no idea if the things would actually hatch or not, especially with all her handling and moving.  I also had no idea how long they’d actually take to hatch.  But when she came screaming into the house tonight after school, I knew the miracle had happened.

Middle Monster is now the proud mama of three tiny little caterpillars.  They’re about 1 cm long.  She immediately went racing about the yard gathering every green leaf she could find (it’s been very dry and hot this summer, so not as easy as you’d think) to “feed” her babies.

If they all hatch, I’m going to encourage her to release most of them.  I have no idea if we can feed and grow a caterpillar into a moth, but she’s determined to try!  What a nice little science experiment, too.

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The Perils of a Writer’s Imagination

Last night I was cooking dinner when Middle Monster casually stepped into the kitchen and said, “Hey, Mom.”  (Drawing out the Mom part.)

I finished shaping the hamburger patty and immediately washed my hands.  Something was up.  Definitely.  “What?”

“Did you know there’s a suitcase in the middle of the street?”

Ugh, still washing my hands — I hate raw meat.  More soap, but I’m hurrying, because I have a very bad feeling about this.  “You didn’t get close to it.  Did you?”


Crap.  “You didn’t touch it, did you?”

“Uhhhhh….  There’s only gloves and stuff inside.”

Taking deep breaths, I tried to remain cool and collected.  “You know there could have been a bomb in there or something.”

Cheerfully, Middle Monster replies, “Nope.  I didn’t hear any ticking.”

While I lectured her on all the horrible nasty things that could have been in that mysterious bag (yeah, we live in “safe” suburbia in a relatively small town, but you just never know), I headed out to investigate.  From a safe, boring distance.  It wasn’t a suitcase, but a duffel bag.  Now I’m imagining drug money, dirty needles, weapons….

In the end, the bag belonged to the neighbor across the street.  They have a truck, and I suspect it might have fallen out the back when he pulled into their slightly sloped driveway.  Anyway, I was just starting to recover from the “bomb” scare when we watched the news last night.

Evidently there was an attempted abduction of two girls on the street that is THREE HOUSES AWAY from us.  *dies*  My girls play outside with the neighbors all the time.  They walk down that street each day to come home from summer school.  Needless to say…

I’m having a very hard time letting them out of their locked rooms right now.  I know they have to live and not be afraid, but that’s just too close to home.  Literally.

P.S. As far as the attempted abduction, the man never got out of the van, but when he tried to get the girls to come over to him, they smartly ran to a neighboring house.  I have no idea how old the girls were but it’s very scary with three little girl monsters in this house. 

P.S.S. And no, the suspect has not been apprehended.  *deep breaths*

But at least the mysterious duffel bag wasn’t ticking.

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MayNoWriMo Disasters

May has not been a nice month so far.  I’ve got a lot going on the personal front, which has a disastrous effect on my writing productivity.  Combine that with Evil Day Job stress…and…

Last night, Princess Monster stepped on my writing laptop and busted the screen (if not more).  With everything going on, I admit, I sobbed.  Yeah, it’s just a computer.  It was an accident.  I lost a couple of hundred words for the day, but I can get that back.  It’s just the point, you know?  Out of three computers she could have trashed, she had to bust my newest, dedicated writing device.

Of course I still have little Betsy, the adorable pink netbook, but she’s hard to write on for very long.  The keyboard is just too small.  Great for the car or for writing bursts when I don’t want to be distracted by computer games, etc.  but my hands are bad enough that I can’t deal with the tiny keyboard for long.

I have my oldest writing laptop, a 4 year old Toshiba with Windows Vista on it.  I’d given it to the kids and it’s loaded with games and God only knows what kind of crap they’ve picked up on the internet.  It’s slower than molasses.  But it does have Word and my hands fit on the keyboard better.  I’ve spent the day cleaning it up, deleting the games (sorry kids), running virus checks, defragging, etc.  Hopefully I’ll be back in commission tomorrow or Monday at the latest.

Maybe the break will do me some good mentally and I’ll be in a better mood by then too.  At least until I get the bill for fixing my laptop.

Ironically, this poor old Toshiba also bears some monster damage.  My dad bought it for my birthday four years ago.  I was sitting outside writing while the kids rode their bikes in the driveway.  I hadn’t even had it a month yet and Middle Monster ran into my chair and I spilled coffee all over the keyboard.  Replacing the keyboard was only $140 or so.  I have no idea how much the screen will cost.

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Spring Break ER Trip

I guess it wouldn’t be spring break without a trip to the ER!  If you’ve been reading here long I bet you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it was Middle Monster requiring medical attention.

Last night after dark, the two youngest monsters were riding their skateboards inside the garage (we’d parked the family van outside to give them room).  I guess she decided she needed more of a challenge, so she switched to a bike.  She made a turn too sharply and feel forward, hitting her throat on the handle bars.

She came running upstairs gasping like the wind had been knocked out of her.  I got her calmed and we put ice on it immediately.  She hadn’t broke the skin but there was definitely a rising white welt and tiny scratches on her throat.  She could breathe (after the initial panic) and turn her head without pain, but I was still worried because she couldn’t talk normally.  Her voice was hoarse and raspy, and it hurt to swallow. 

Of course this is all happening about 9:30 pm.  That Man and I were getting ready for bed since we were supposed to work today, but I couldn’t stand the thought of going to bed — even though she seemed fine — for fear something would swell up in the middle of the night and she’d die.  (A writer’s imagination is not a kind gift to have when your child has been injured.)  I called our pediatrician’s office to talk to the on-call nurse and she recommended we go ahead to the ER just to be safe.

So Middle and I headed up to the closest hospital.  Unfortunately, every crazy and sick person in town must have decided that was the best time to show up, too, because we waited for THREE HOURS.  Kids were puking in buckets all around us.  I can only pray we don’t get the flu now!  Middle was feeling better but bored to tears and still a little worried.

Finally after 1 AM we saw the doctor — for a grand total of FIVE MINUTES.  He came in, felt her throat, and looked inside.  Since she doesn’t have her tonsils, he could see way inside without having to scope her or anything.  No cartilage damage, just soft tissue bruising.  He told her to stick with a liquid diet today but that everything seemed fine.  Whew. 

It’s strange to be driving home in the middle of the night, but it was a very happy trip.  Middle kept looking for a place to get a shake but nothing was open.  (By now, she was starving.)  We got home and I made her a Weight Watcher’s chocolate smoothie so she could sleep without her tummy grumbling, and then sent a note to my boss at the Evil Day Job that I needed to take today off.

She did have problems sleeping and came in to join me in bed after That Man left around 6 AM for work.  We slept a bit longer and then had a lazy morning of watching TV.  I was out of soup, so we had a late lunch of hot and soup soup at our favorite Chinese place, and then I took the monsters to the library.

Tonight, she’s feeling back to her normal vivacious self and is outside playing with the neighbor kids.  You wouldn’t even know she’d been hurt last night, until she talks.  Her voice sounds like she’s been cheering a few hours at a football game!

So I lost a day of work, both EDJ and writing, but it was a very good day anyway.

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Save a Pet Today

Middle Monster (age 9) just wrote a very moving letter and she gave me her approval to post it here.  (Someone’s been watching the animal rescue shows.)

People that are out there please get an animal.  Every day more than 1,000 animals die and so if you don’t have an animal please get one.  If you don’t it will not be ok because a lot of animals die because people don’t care and leave them in the streets so please get one. A lot of those animals are starved and die from that so if you read this please don’t throw your animals in the water, in the streets, and anywhere else.  Save a pet today!!! 

Good job if you do save a pet anytime and anywhere!

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General Updates & Apple Escapades

First up, let me cover the business.  The free read prequel that I posted as Friday Snippets is now ready to be downloaded in a pdf:  Lie to You.  I have an epub version but WordPress isn’t liking it — and I can’t find where to change the security rules to allow it to be updated.  If you’d rather have epub, just drop me a note and I’ll e-mail it to you.

I’ve also posted Chapter One of HURT ME SO GOOD.  As we get closer to release date, I’ll probably post a few more teaser excerpts, so stay tuned!

Now for apple escapades:  we drove up to my mom’s (Granny’s) this weekend to pick apples and celebrate her birthday.  She has two apple trees in their yard, one a cooking apple of some sort (I can’t remember–all those apples were gone) and a Red Delicious tree.  We picked up at least 3 bags of apples and the kids had a ball.

The best part of the trip, though, was the canning lesson Mom gave me.  I learned how to can applesauce (and brought home the pints we canned).  When I was a kid, she had a pressure canner that always scared the crap out of me, but she showed me a different way to do it.  She calls it “cold press” which makes no sense to me since we still boil it, but no hissing pressure build-up to freak me out.  I bought a canner last year but was too scared to use it (and I couldn’t find any jars that late in the season).  This week my goal will be to try some applesauce, and then I want to hit our local orchard and buy some cooking apples for apple butter.

If we have any of these apples left, that is.  I made fresh juice this morning (which took about 12 apples), and then I made a “Puffy Apple Pancake” in my iron skillet that was pretty good.  Of course the kids keep snatching them and munching away, too.  They’re just too good and sweet to resist!

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Pedigree: Adopt a Dog

Both of our dogs were adopted, one from a vet clinic and the other from a shelter and I can’t imagine life without either of them.

We’ve had Pepper the longest.  My SIL used to work at a vet clinic, and she called us one day because a dog had come in that was going to be put down if they couldn’t find a home for him.  His elderly owner had passed away and the family couldn’t take care of him.  He’s such a sweet, tolerant dog.  As soon as I sit down in my chair, he jumps up in my lap.  It’s always fun trying to juggle the laptop and the lapdog, especially when KC decides to join us.

KC (named after the Kansas City Chiefs) is our newest dog – we’ll have her a year this Thanksgiving.  On a whim, we stopped at a newer animal shelter.  I know the volunteers absolutely love pets and do the best for them, but there were SO MANY dogs.  There were at least 30 dogs in an open cage in the center of the shelter, with walls of small kennels around the outer room.  The noise was unbelievable (not to mention the smell).  We were getting ready to leave without getting attached to any of the dogs, when I heard this low, soft whine.  How I heard it over the din of barking, frantic dogs, I have no idea, but I turned around and saw her.  She was so sweet, licked my fingers, whining and crying. 

We went home without a dog — it’d been a whim after all.  However, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I kept hearing her cry.  I just knew we had to go back and get her.

KC is a bundle of energy.  The kids adore playing with her.  She’s a hunter — no bug escapes unharmed (she rescued us from a praying mantis just last week).  She runs and plays until the kids and her all drop and sleep in a cute little pile.

So what’s all this about?  Pedigree is donating dog food for every blog post about adopting dogs.  They have some nice information here if you’re interested in adopting from a shelter.  If you can’t adopt but have a blog, take a few minutes and blog about dog adoption, then link back to this site & add your blog.

 KC, our adopted dog, and Littlest Monster, sound asleep

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So my Beloved Sis has been rehearsing for weeks to be Aunt Eller in the musical Oklahoma! at her local community theatre, along with her friend I know as Pesh (Laurey).  It was a no-brainer that I’d go — but I wasn’t sure if the monsters would make it.  They *wanted* to go, but I had to be realistic. 

After all, Oklahoma is my least favorite musical of all time. 

It goes back to high school when Mr. Adams (music teacher) would let us watch a musical in class the week after regional contest.  It usually took several days for us to get all the way through a musical, and I remember that one whole day’s viewing ended up being that dream sequence where Laurey imagines the shoot out between Jud and Curly.  I hated finding out that whole day was a dream!  Argh!  I felt cheated.

However, that all changed watching Molly and the rest of the cast.  But I have to admit, the FUNNIEST aspect was watching the girls, especially Middle Monster.  I about died laughing at her when the lights came up for intermission.  Her eyes lit up and she said, “Is it over?!?”  Honestly, she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to be disappointed or glad when I told her no, it was only halfway.  She loved it — she was just getting tired of sitting.

All of them were terrified of Jud, despite Molly’s assurances after the show that he was really a big teddy bear.  My Dad was there too and we kept snickering at all the little lines that went right over the kids’ head.  Ado Annie and Ali Hakim had us rolling in the aisles.  Sooo funny — their personalities were perfect and they were able to ad-lib through the little mess ups that make live theatre so much fun.  (Like when Ali accidentally broke a bottle of bath salts as he was reviewing Will Parker’s bag of gifts he’d blown his $50 on.)

Plus we had a nice dinner and strawberry shortcake for dessert, followed by a nice visit at McDonald’s (the only place we could quickly find open at 11 PM) for ice cream, coffee, and dinner for Sis.  We didn’t make it home until after 1 AM but it was so worth it.

It was a night the kids will never forget.  Well done, Sis and Pesh!

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Back to School

Tomorrow’s the day — the monsters head back to a brand new year of school.  I’m not as prepared as I’d hoped, but with the delay in getting our A/C fixed, it’s the best I could do.  Plus we were out of town Sat. for my MIL’s birthday. 

So today was full with a massive grocery run to stock up on school lunch and snack items.  Laundry, of course (it never ends).  I also wanted to start them off with fresh bedding, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, because their beds are buried beneath stuffed animals.  Of course, cleaning off their beds meant we actually had to GET in the DOOR…

Yes, their room is a pig sty.  All three monsters share a bedroom (their choice) with overflow into That Man’s next door office.  We decided to clean his office first (which hasn’t been used all summer because our A/C was out).  That took as long as I’d planned to spend on their room, and we still had to unbury their beds, etc.   I threw away several bags of trash, packed up 3 large tubs of stuffed animals, and tried to organize at least a little.  I’ve still got a few good hours to spend on it yet to get it really well organized, but it’s definitely better than it was.  (You can see the carpet.)

All this work is worth it though because “back to school” means back to a dependable writing schedule for me.  Princess has to be up between 5:30 and 6 AM every morning, which means I’ll be up, too, with plenty of time to get a little writing done. 

In fact, Sept. 1st is always like a new year for me.  A time to rededicate and kick off new goals.  It’s my hope to finish a first draft of Vicki this month so I can move on to Maya#2 Sept, Oct.

Ah, fall!  I can’t wait for cooler, crisp mornings, pumpkins, colorful leaves…  Definitely gets my writing blood pumping!

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Fun in the Country

The monsters called with tales of all the fun things they’re doing in the country.  They went fishing last night and today, supposedly catching a TON of bass and perch.  They’ve ridden Papa’s poor horses to death, learning how to trot and even riding outside of the corral.

Today, they went to an Amish farm and got to milk a cow, pet a goat, and ride in a buggy.  How cool is that?  I want to go!

Seriously, every time we go to Papa’s I get the country yearning.  I want a garden and animals of my own.  It’s all the fence fixing and snakes and ticks and no high-speed internet that worries me.  (I have to have high-speed for the Evil Day Job.)  I could get Hughes Net but I’ve heard bad things about them.  Plus the kids are in excellent schools right now and have a ton of friends here.  Moving to a much smaller country school is quite a change, and I want them to have the best possible chances for scholarships.  I can testify to how difficult it can be to win college scholarships when you come from a small school.  There’s just not as many opportunities.  Is it worth the trade off?

We haven’t decided yet but we’re talking about it every time we go to the country.

Meanwhile, the kids don’t want to come home.  Might have something to do with school starting next week….or just that they’re having that much fun.