Monday, December 29, 2008

Aren't We Pretty?


Merry Christmas, ho ho ho! We had a wonderful holiday, full of Grandma and Grandpa and lots of presents. Riley couldn't make it because of a storm, and although we missed him, we were glad that he wasn't smashed to smithereens in the snow. So it's all good. :)
The kids were insane today, wondering why I was the only one home to entertain them. Where was everybody else? I'm trying to ease us back into our routine, but it's difficult. Soon Luke and the kids will head off to join his family for New Years. I'll be staying behind because I'm helping to throw a New Year's Dance for the Young Men and Young Women of our church. I'm sad that I won't be with my family, but the teenagers of our area really need this. Where else are they supposed to be? Yeah, that's what I thought. ;)
I queried an agent of RunStarGirl today. Originally I was going to go the small publishing route first, but a few of my friends suggested that it was agent time. Which is terrifying, quite honestly. But it's a challenge. And I am all over challenges, mmm yes.
:)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Christmas Eve Eve!

Last night we went out and bought stocking stuffers with the kids. "Why don't you leave them at home?" you ask. Because. It's more fun this way. It's trickier. Luke takes a cart and a child, and I take a cart and the other child, and we zip this way and that shrieking, "Don't look in my cart!" "Oh yeah? Don't look in my cart, either!" and try to be all stealthy as we buy last minute items for each other. Most of you wouldn't expect this, but Luke gets all wacky at these shindigs. I talked him out of buying Dad a Homer Chia-Head (you can thank me later, Dad), and we stayed out too late and it was wonderful.

I spent so much time editing yesterday! I hate it, no, I abhor it, but I worked hard and I'm more than halfway through. In fact, I was up until about 1:30 last night working, and Niko stayed up with me for quite a while, playing happily with our electronics. When he was tired, he left and I heard a closing door. When I finally went to bed, I was dismayed to see that Niko was lying in my spot with three stuffed animals and a fistful of peanut butter toast. I grabbed a blanket and headed for his room, where I slept in Cookie Monster splendor.

We're going to my parent's home tonight. It's a seven or so hour drive, and we're not leaving until Luke gets home at 5:00 tonight, so it's imperative that we get on our way ASAP. This is a place of chaos. I'm packing. I'm wrapping. I'm tripping over ribbon and trying to keep the kid's from opening the neighbor's gifts, and attempting to leave the house in something other than shambles. Can I do it?

Yes I can.

"The Boy Who Hangs The Stars" is coming out very, very soon. In fact, they said that my contributor's copy is in the mail, so woo hoo! That was a few days ago, so perhaps it'll be there today, and that would be exciting.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Be well. Know that I love you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We're Christmasing!

Finally. And it's all thanks to Luke, who put up the village last night (we get him a new piece every year for our anniversary. We've been married eight years now, yay!) and is putting up the outside Christmas lights as I type. Hooray! Which will make us the third house to do so in our little neighborhood, because we're apparently a bunch of grinches. Even the mysterious festive note taped to the communal mailbox ("Let's all hang lights on our house because it will be fun!") didn't move anybody. It just made us arch a brow and try to figure out who was stalking our box.

It doesn't feel like Christmas. It feels like work. It feels like stress, and it doesn't have anything to do with the holidays. It has to do with life and all that jazz. It has to do with Grinchy McGrinchersons everywhere. Here's my solution to it: if you're going to be crabby, people, just stay home. :)

That said, things are going swimmingly on our front. Niko is obsessed with my video game, the labels inside of our jeans, and locking the front door. Nina has become a flasher, and I'm trying to instill in her the idea that "Modest is Hottest!" but it's not working. She's cracking me up. Luke is cheery despite old man stiffness, or whatever it was that befell him, and I'm exhausted to the point where I was slurring on the phone. (Sorry, Jan!) But writing is going well, and I'm happy. I kind of felt out where I want to send RunStarGirl, and I really enjoyed the people that were involved with that particular press. For one thing, they understood my references, and that's gold. As always, more about that at
here!!! It's fueling my confidence.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Snowing in Vegas!!!


Cars are running off of the road in gleeful ecstasy! Hot chocolate is being doled out in portions previously never heard of before! All is well with the world.

Niko came home from school today with construction paper antlers (made out of his handprint) and a dab of red fingerpaint on his nose.

"He's Rudolph," the bus driver explained, and this was quite a reasonable explanation, and made me happy. I left the paint on so that Luke can see him. He's lying on his back killing my characters on my PS2 game (Final Fantasy XII, the most boring FF game that I have ever, ever seen!) and Nina is tottering around on her pretty little legs, practicing this walking thing. This girl is a dancer, there's no doubt about it.

I have hooked up with some in-town writing friends, and it's been really nice! Previously it was only June and I, and now there are three more! My cold, black heart is going to burst with joy, I just know it. And wouldn't that be a splendid way to go?

I'm watching the snow fall. It reminds me of home, and I can't wait to spend Christmas Eve with my parents. I finally overcame that wall that I had been beating myself against, whether you call it "Writer's Block" or "a quiet time" or "an incubation period" or simply "a darkness of the soul" where I wanted to create, but couldn't. It's like being told that you're going to eat oatmeal for every meal of every day for the rest of your life, or that the world will be colored beige from now on: you know that you're going to survive but you're not really sure if you want to. Anyway, I reported on my success and the reasons behind it at http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hello, I've Met My Match!

I think that maybe I have been taking too much on. My body has been crying out things like, "Stop!" and "Give me rest!" and "I hate you!" for a while now, and today I just sort of hit a wall. Dizzy, feverish, hot and cold, only there wasn't anything I could do about it because it is Sunday, and Sunday is NOT a day of rest, I don't know who says that. Oh, yes, that would be our Lord. But it was 7:30 and Luke had spent the entire day in his suit, he was so busy. I finally called in sick to a meeting that I should have been at, but it seriously wasn't going to happen. Also, I started taking my medicine again, because I so desperately want to feel better, but it...always makes me more sick. Gr.

I have a lovely list of library books to read! Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, and Roberto Bolano's Nazi Literature in the Americas. Something by Jonathan Kellerman, whom I still enjoy. An off-the-wall thriller written by a woman whose name I can't remember. I haven't had a chance to crack a book since I checked them out, but soon, I hope!

It never feels like Christmas in a land without snow, but I hear there might be a massive snowstorm hitting...wait for it...wait...Las Vegas! Which would just be awesome. I'm comfortable with it, I can drive in it, and you won't find me on my knees sobbing because I don't know how to navigate to the store. Maybe it'll make it feel like Christmas. Maybe it'll stun everybody enough that they'll be forced to take a break.

I met with some friends yesterday at an internet cafe and we were all writerly. Kind of. I had a hard time forcing myself to work because my brain was all over the place. Somebody asked me a question, and I was looking at his face when suddenly I realized that the last words out of his mouth had that inquisitive cadence, that they had gone up at the end of the sentence, and that means that a question had been asked.

"I'm sorry, what did you say? I was thinking about rabbits," I said (I actually said!) and I hope they don't kick me to the curb because I can't keep my thoughts in my thought basket sometimes.

Also, hooking up with old friends on Facebook? So awesome.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Daddy!



This is my favorite picture of my father. He is wonderful and kind and generous, but people are on their best behavior when he's around. He swooped in to rescue me for a few days, and the kids are in seventh heaven.

Insanely busy, but I have some good writing news! Rock on! I talk about it here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

So I'm Happy Today

Luke was off work, and I realized that I miss him. We ordered a dishwasher that hopefully won't smell like melted plastic (while melting everything plastic) and a stove that A) won't spontaneously burst into flame and B) tells the correct temperature. "I think it's around 350 degrees...ish." Thanks John and Pam! Hooray!

I wrapped presents. Niko was in a good mood and ate an entire apple. Before I could even salvage the core, it was gone, and I couldn't pry it from his cheerful mouth. Nina pushed her stroller around until she was happily exhausted. We were productive and enjoyed each other's company. Tomorrow will be absolutely insane, starting with The Great Santa Run, so expect pictures later.

Things are going well on the writing front. Most of you know that I'm not an optimist by nature, but I really try to work at it. Today things kind of fell in place, and I am quite hopeful for the future. I talk about it at http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/. Also, if you ever had the burning desire to see what I looked like as a little girl, I posted a picture. Even then I was pleased with my ill-gotten gains.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Leave Us Be in Our Bright Red Pajamas!


Niko has a lot of his mama in him, and abhors the early morning. Curse you, sun. Curse you.

Nina started taking a few steps the other day. Her coupe de grace was when she tottered from the couch all the way to the TV and turned the sucker back on. Nobody was going to shut off her Judge Judy. Nobody.

We're kind of at a temporary standstill with Niko's school. They requested his immunizations record again, and I sent it in. I received a phone call today saying that he was missing one shot, and wouldn't be able to go back to school until he's had it. This is after yesterday's note saying that he's missed five days this school year, and if he misses 20 days total, he has to repeat his current grade. Can they make somebody repeat special ed kindergarten??? Anyway, I'm upset because his immunizations are all current, and it must be a paperwork glitch, which we are oh so familiar with. The nurse is going to call the health center and see what needs to be done. So we were chastised because he's missing school, yet we can't bring him back due to yet another glitch. Annoying, yes. Is it a big deal in the scheme of things? No. We're still good.

I'm doing a short reading at my writing group's Christmas party this weekend. I'll read a short excerpt of RunStarGirl in front of a bunch of published and unpublished writers. I think it'll be fun, and I'm looking forward to it. :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Let Me Introduce You to Bryony


Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to introduce you to...

Bryony Adams, the tragically optimistic protagonist of RunStarGirl.

Oh, heavens, that sounds so overly grand. What I really want to say is this: Hi. I have finished a story, and it makes me happy. I have a little slice of it on my writing site. Won't you find the time to read it and perhaps tell me what you think? :)

http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/

Friday, November 28, 2008

What Is It Like?



I'm looking at old pictures. Rachel took this in Marilyn's backyard a long time ago.
It's all about relationships, it really is. There. You now know the meaning of life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

It's the day before Thanksgiving and I'm hanging out with Luke's family. Well, not right now, because I broke away to have some writing time, (it always begins with blogging and email) but I'll hook up with everybody again tomorrow. I need my space, I need my time, and I'm a much happier girl if I can breathe a little bit before throwing myself back in the fray. Tomorrow will be a fun day with happy little cousins and food and chaos and a family talent show, and it'll be great, but for right now, I need solitude.

Anyway, I had a 61-word piece come out yesterday! I talk about it here.

Also, I'm working on my demon story again. One of the characters (Surprise!) has Williams Syndrome. It worked its way in, and it feels completely natural to me. I didn't think, "A ha, this would be a wonderful chance to showcase Williams!" But art imitates life just as life imitates art, and it's such a big part of my life that it only makes sense that it would show up somewhere. So hooray. I hope that if/when you guys read it, it will be something that we can all agree is right and true and does it a semblance of justice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Celebrate!

I finished writing my novella! Woo!!!

I am going to sleep like the DEAD tonight!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Boom King

I had this utterly bizarre dream today. It involved riding in the back of a van with a sporadic driver, and Riley, Luke, and I were back there. Riley is my lanky brother, FYI. And we were trying to get this seat belt around Riley because he'd go sprawling, limbs a-flying, whenever this driver would stop short. And Luke starts singing "The Boom King" song from Flight of the Conchords, and I was joining in because hey! Flight of the Conchords! Then the phone woke me up, and I was all, "??!!"

Because. Weird. But at least I'm concerned for Riley's safety, apparently. Got your back, bro. :P

So! I had a poem go up today! I linked you to it from here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't Mess With Me...I'm With The PTA

It has been so insanely busy here, no joke. We just had Young Women in Excellence (I work with the 12-13 year old girls in church, and YW in Excellence celebrates the girls. There's a medallion they can earn that is kind of the equivalent of the Eagle Scout for boys.) and I played the piano for it, as well as making over three dozen caramel pecan rolls. Every night for the past two weeks, I have two or three meetings taking place at the same time. Tonight at 7:00 I have a NaNoWriMo write-in, a leadership training meeting, and my writer's group meeting. I'm going to the third one, and it's about getting an agent, so it would be extremely useful for me. I'm trying to parcel out my time to writing, church, Niko's school and my first priority, which is my family, and it's incredibly hard. But anyway.

Yesterday was Niko's parent/teacher's conference. Niko adores his teacher, which pleases me. She is so kind. She explained that they use the same report card for both the special needs and mainstream kids, so even though Niko has been making progress, it's not going to look well on his report card. She seemed so worried, and I understand because nobody wants to think their child is subpar. But he is making progress, and I can see it, so a report card basically means nothing. Nina was thrilled to be in a classroom with all of these fascinating toys, and Niko showed off a little. Okay, a lot.

They're cutting the education funding down by 120 million dollars again this year, after cutting 130 million last year. Forget that we're already 50th in the nation when it comes to student spending, and forget that at the DMV last week I met a guy who asked me if he had four or five people before him because he couldn't figure it out himself. I am so angry. Isn't education the primo thing to spend money on? Isn't it the most important? Why yes, yes it is. But that was the subject of one of last night's meetings.

As for writing, some helpful things have popped up, including somebody who has been writing for a while and decided to give me some helpful advice about breaking in a little bit. As always, I talk about that at A Broken Laptop.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Niko's Primary Triumph

Today was the primary program in church, where the little kids get to walk up to the pulpit, say their assigned part, and then they all sing songs. It's really cute, and has driven me a bit crazy in the past because it's usually a disaster for us. The picture on the cover of the program last year was a slew of happy, smiling primary kids and me holding a screaming Niko on my lap. You know, the usual.

Our ward called a sweet new couple to be Niko's aids, and kind of tend to him during Sunday School and the program. They came over last night to get to know him a little bit, and he absolutely adores them! This made it much easier today.

So here's a list of things that went fabulously well:

1) Niko let us put him in his church clothes. Pinstripes, vest and all. He looked especially dapper. Sure, the socks and shoes came off after a while, but who's complaining? Not I!

2) He sat up there for almost the whole time. Usually he's flipping out within minutes. And anybody familiar with his meltdowns...yeah.

3) When it was time to say his part, they carried him up. He grabbed the microphone and hooted confidently into it for a while, and then they said his part for him.

4) He danced and waved while they sang. He hopped up and down. He spun in circles.

He was happy, and he was loved. It was amazing to see Niko and how far he has come! I nearly cried. Then the bishop got up, and he did cry. He said that his sister had Down's Syndrome, and sometimes it's hard to have a special needs person thrown into the mix because we like things to always be a certain way, but that we're doing a right thing by bringing him and Niko is assured a place in heaven. And to see this man crying about my son...it was just...wow.

We all feel this way about our kids, I think. We're so proud of them when they do well, and we're so heartbroken when things hurt them. With a special needs kid, it seems like the feelings are a little more dramatic, but they're the same feelings. I just want to point that out. I know there are people who want to ask questions and don't know if it's polite. Ha, I know that people send you to my blog, and I just want to let you know something. You can ask me, and it's okay. I'm no different than you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Oh my gosh, they're four inches tall!"



There are a million different pictures of Pypes looking absolutely stunning on her wedding day, but this is my favorite. "Look at your shoes!" "Look at yours!" This is us, this is how we've always been, and it's ten years later and here we still are. It makes me happy.

My novel is winding down, and it's time to wrap it up. Goodbye, Bryony the Star Girl. I'm going to miss her. But then on to my demon novel to get in the rest of my 50,000 words. Luna and Reed Taylor have been waiting too long. I had a happily smug realization yesterday: I write for no man. I talked about it here.

Niko has been crawling into bed with us at night. I rolled over last night and there was Luke, Niko, and my 6'1" shark Dirk Nevinski on the bed with me. It was a full house. It's sweet, but unacceptable, and I escort Niko to bed every time that I notice him there. I also signed him up for the Williams Syndrome Registration. Should I have done this years ago? Possibly, but I wasn't ready. I'm open and friendly, I'll talk WS with you if you'd like, (or about being LDS, or about whatever) but this was close to my heart and it has taken me this long to be able to do it. I'm also proud of Nina, who is going to grow up to be such an advocate for her big brother. I can already see it. That is a little girl who knows how to love. And she knows how to dance, which she didn't get from me, and certainly didn't get from her father. She's magical.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm homesick.

I miss our old city, and I miss Finland. Especially Finland, where it was pristine and cold and there was that dignified somber holiday feel in the air. But I realize that it's that time of year again, where we once picked up and left to live in a foreign country with a tiny sick baby and no furniture.

Ha, thought I was kidding, right? This. I miss this.

It's also the anniversary of '80's death, and I wonder if I'll be hit with that every November for the rest of my life. It's sort of like a soft blow. I think that I might, and do you know what? It's okay. She was a wonderful friend and I miss her, and I think it's just fine if that never changes.

On a brighter note, I'm wrapping some Christmas presents today. Oh yes, it is sliding headfirst into the holidays, people, and I am very much looking forward to it! Niko is so much more aware than he was even at this time last year, and Nina was just a new little thing who clicked her toys together on Christmas morning. I think this year will be spectacular.

Also, Flylady has a Christmas control journal, and I called my mom and left an excited message telling her to print it off and fill it out. Christmas? Shouldn't be about stress, but it has become that way. I think we should scrap it all and go back to the basics.

Niko is almost home from school, and I dressed Nina like a rock star. Sort of the 1980's look (black with neon pink) and a ponytail high on her head. Which is very much a Janyece-inspired look (yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Junior high, anybody?) and that's probably because I was talking to her about NaNoWriMo not too long ago. All of the old gang from the past has somehow invaded my head, and I'm not too keen on letting them out. Go ahead, guys. Just knock around for a while in there. S'alright.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Things Ray



This was the illustration for "Ray The Vampire" on Flash Fiction Online. (http://flashfictiononline.com/) Copyright 2008, R. W. Ware. The artist also replied graciously to my thank you note, and that always sits well with me.




The Editor made a Wordle, and this made me laugh. (http://www.wordle.net/) I am SO going to put this on a t-shirt! It might be my new running shirt now that "I Leave Bite Marks" bit the dust, no pun intended. (Okay, June, maybe a little pun. Just for you.)


I have decided to take a break in querying for my Ray novel. Thanks mostly to the Twilight series, the market is so saturated with vampire novels that it's suffocating. Hooray to these authors and their success, but it makes me want to sigh because I loved vampires before vampires were trendy, and now I'll just have to wait until everybody is satiated of them, and then sick of them, and eventually enough time passes that I can reintroduce my novel and not have the instant reaction be, "Oh no, not another one." Of course, mine isn't your typical vampire novel, and it was written before I'd even heard of Twilight, but that doesn't matter much. And besides, all authors say that anyway, ha.


Also, thanks and curses to my friend xmolder for his five minute chocolate cake recipe that he delighted/inflicted me with. It's delicious, and quick, and amazing with white chocolate chips. Curse you and your cakey deliciousness! Now I'm an addict.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Go go go!

I'm both elated and tired! I talked about it here.

Have a good night, everybody. :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Apples and Tricycles

Niko has started eating apples. Whole apples, off of the core. It's such a beautiful thing to see. We have a tree at home, and Dad brought a bag of Jonathan apples for us. Today Niko rode by on his tricycle with an apple in one hand, and Nina waved at him as he passed her. It was a triumph for all of us.

Barnwood Poetry Magazine purchased a poem of mine titled "white blindness". It will be up soon, they tell me. I'm very happy!

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Life"

My story "Life" came out in Abandoned Towers today. I like it. You can get to it from www.abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com.

I think my novel might end up being a novella. I don't want to sacrifice quality for the sake of padding it with useless words. We'll see!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Halloween Night



Niko was an astronaut. He was really excited about his outfit, and even wore his helmet all night.


Nina was a tearful little fairy. Her skirt lit up.


Luke and the Halloween sprites.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

People Being Kind

The other day I was picking up some pictures at the store. Luke must have had the kids, because I was alone. And as I was paying, the woman suddenly started talking about her nephew, who was three years old and didn't speak. Not a word, she said. She said how they worried about him and how frustrating it was, and how people seemed to judge them when they went out together. She said that she's afraid he's trapped in there, that he does sign language, but is it really enough? Then she suddenly apologized and said that she was so sorry, that she was saying silly things to a stranger, and I could tell that she was embarrassed.

I smiled at her. I just smiled, and she smiled back, and I said that everything turns out all right in the end. I truly believe this, and I was grateful that for a second I could be the one to reassure somebody else.

We just got back from the wedding, and I'll have pictures of the kids' costumes later! While walking through the airport, Niko dove into a pile of newspapers that a gentleman was lying on the ground, and he kind of swam through them.

"I'm sorry!" I said. "He's looking for pictures of washers and dryers."

"Bless you," he said back, and he looked at my son with so much love. "Keep them. I was going to throw them away anyway, honestly. Bless you."

My dad came down the day that we got home, and he is always such a help. He cleaned my kitchen and told me to work on my novel. He babysat my kids and sent me to the spa for my very first massage. Which was fantastic, by the way! They tell you that when you get a massage, sometimes it affects your moods and emotions. Pshaw, I thought, but the woman said, "Oh my, Miss Mercedes, you really are very tight," and she worked on everything. Legs and neck and that awful little muscle on the right side of my back. Every time that she ran her fingers down the inside of my arm, my middle and ring fingers curled. She worked on my hands, and it was the most bizzare thing: I started to cry. I suddenly felt how hard they worked and how tired they were, and how my whole body ached and things were pulled and I hadn't even realized it, because that's just how it always is. I realized that I never feel well. It felt very, very nice to have somebody take care of me, and it was touching, in a way. I thought that she was extremely sweet and did her best for me, and I hope she went home and had somebody to take care of her.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

!!!!!

It's up! It's up! Hooray! I get to see it before I go! Go look. :)

Fighting. Fighting fighting fighting.

Today, I am sick. Fever on and off, bone and muscle ache. What I really want to do is crawl under a blanket (shivering in 88 degree temperatures?!) and watch Ghost Hunters on Netflix, but of course life doesn't happen like that. I'm trying to clean the house so we don't come back to a wreck, trying to pack clothes and Halloween costumes and things of that nature. The kids are fighting. Nina broke a plate. Niko tried to run her over with his tricycle. The basic chaos.

I also spent four hours on the phone with the hospital and the pediatric cardiologists concerning what basically was a glitch in the paperwork. Really, really exhausting and frustrating, but all is well!

So! We're packing for tomorrow's flight. I wanted to let you know that my story comes out online tomorrow. You can read more about it at my site, http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com. If you guys maybe have the time to check it out, it would make me really happy!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I voted!

We voted last night. I can't think of a better activity for Family Home Evening. What a horrible election! It's been dark, dirty, and they've been terrible examples, for shame. And now you shall never hear me speak of the election again, because it's been a bane. A nasty, ceaseless, soul-sucking bane. That is all.

Niko has been following basic instructions lately, and has been so much more vocal. He's making a rhythmic hooting sound that I think is his version of singing. He's going to be an astronaut for Halloween, and Nina is going to be a fairy. We'll spend it out of town, because Pyper's getting hitched! Also, Halloween is when "Ray the Vampire" comes out on Flash Fiction Online. They have an amazing illustration that will be running with it, and I have permission to post it here after it runs in the magazine. I think that it's really beautiful.

Janyece and I were having a conversation about our preferred weapons of choice. (I know, but it's for a story that I'm working on. Really!) I'm more of a bludgeoner, myself, but Jan would sit in a tree and shoot people with a bow and arrow. So be forewarned.

Speaking of weapons, I have a piece coming out on Six Sentences tomorrow. I love that site, and stop by every few days because the pieces are short, sweet, and very diverse. It's so worth checking out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's a Celebration!

Well, it's official! I'm a Motorcycle Mama. Only...without a motorcycle. But I'll do some looking around and see what I can come up with. And if any of you have any fabulous, midsized bikes in good condition that you'd like to sell...

So. I can weave around cones. I can stop quickly. I can swerve to avoid hitting things and I can run over a 2x4 in the road. (Which is awesome!) Most importantly, I did something that I always wanted to do, something intimidating and scary, and I accomplished it. Rock on! By myself? Not a chance. Luke had to rent a car because I had our car all day, every day. St. June not only watched my kids for days, but said children had the flu. Luke and I caught it, too, and I had horrible nightmares of throwing up in my full-face helmet, but thankfully, all went well on that front.

I think my first humor article will be about this class. It should be out next week. This is also intimidating and scary, but that's been my New Year's Resolution for two years now: Do Things That Scare Me. And Ride More Shopping Carts. I'll link you when it comes out.

Nina is upset because it's nap time. Niko's upset because I took the golf balls out of the dryer. I'm an animal! A tyrant! How could I ever be so cruel?

Good news on the writing front, too! I'm really excited! Pop on over to http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com if you're interested. I really had a lot to say. :)

When Luke gets home? We're all going for peppermint ice cream. Oh, yes. It's a celebration.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm Astute Like That.

So my boy missed me. I could tell by the way he kept snuggling into my lap and bowing his head so that I could give him kisses. I'm astute like that. I pick up on those subtle nuances. "Kiss me, mother!" And his face split into this amazing grin when I walked over to him while he was playing with the dishwasher. I thought about that smile before I went to sleep.

I got an email last night saying that my story was going into the final round for A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Say that ten times fast! Anyway, I'm excited. I wrote about the time that Niko nearly burned down the house while trying to use the toaster. Whether or not they choose to publish it, I'm pleased that I was finally able to write something about Niko and Williams without curling up and dying. Like everything else, it only gets easier.

Speaking of dying, I start my motorcycle class tonight. My friend June is going to wrangle my kids for two days while I'm gone! Then I'm going to nominate her for sainthood. Luke and I are in negotiations about a bike. The Free Spirit vs. The Accountant. I'll tell you how that goes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to Come Down From the Clouds

Well, the boys went huntin' this weekend, leaving Nina and I to our own devices. And that girl is in bed by 7:30 each evening. Solitude, delicious solitude! It was a pleasure. I wrote. And wrote. And revised my novel's query letter, sent it to an agent, got rejected immediately, wrote a new story, sent three out, got two rejections and an acceptance and a partridge in a pear tree. Today marked the triumphant return of our menfolk, and all is right with the world.

You hear that? All is right with the world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Untold Field Trips

Here's the thing about a nonverbal child. It's Niko's first field trip, right? I want to know what he saw. I want to know what he thought. And there is really no way that he can tell me. At home he points to what he wants, and he asks for things. "Do you want milk?" "Uh uh!" "Should we fold the laundry?" "Uh." But how can he tell me stories? How can tell me about school and what he did there?

He can't. Which was why this whole "I think you're son is being abused at school" thing was so incredibly...there aren't words. Tragic, frustrating, hateful...they're too light. Homicidal, mutilating rage, now maybe that's a bit closer. But directed at who? The teacher who mentioned the abuse in the first place and then changed her story, or his teacher who was disciplined for something, but who knows what?

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. It's been on my mind, but there's really nothing that I can do at this point. I just ask Niko what he thought of the animals on his field trip and hope that I'm asking about the right things.

Anyway! Bumping the happiness gauge up a notch is this: I sold a poem to The Writer's Eye. I wax on about it here.

Ray Finds a Home

I just sold a story that I am extremely, extremely fond of to Flash Fiction Online. I received an email from the editor last night asking if I would like to publish "Ray the Vampire" in their Halloween issue. We'll have to edit it extremely fast, but we're going to do it!

"Ray the Vampire" is the short story that I based my novel off of, and its sequel. It all started here. He is my favorite character. I even have Ray fan art, drawn by an extremely talented girl that I know. I'll stick it up when the issue is out.

And Dawn racked up some acceptances, too! Arkham Tales and A Fly in Amber. Yay, us!

You know, I needed this. Sometimes it feels like my natural emotional level is set at "melancholy" and I am constantly searching for ways to bump it higher. The garbage man's rhythmic "flying bag" dance, Niko's first field trip (it's Niko's first field trip today! I can't wait to report on it when he triumphantly returns!) Nina's open mouthed kisses. I find myself literally grasping at things sometimes in order to fill the tank, and I'm only sorry that that euphoric feeling doesn't last longer. That's one of the reasons that I like writing, however. I can put my feelings on paper, and sometimes...you get a sale.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I. Am. Procrastinating.

I should be either writing or cleaning, which is the story of my life. Should should should. I really ought to be doing anything besides whatever it is that I am doing. I should be working on my demon story or scrubbing down the counters.

What I am going to do, no should about it, is make myself a big mug of hot chocolate. With marshmallows. And then I am going to set a timer and clean for fifteen minutes, so as to silence the rather sharp, matronly, and unlikeable voice in my head.

And then I'm going to play Psychonauts until I'm good and saturated with quirky graphics and witty repartee.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today

I sat down at the piano and played for the first time in a long time. We went to the library; we went to lunch. I wore purple heels and Ruby Woo in the middle of the day. We went to a cupcake shop, and managed not to buy anything. Did I write? No. But I read. And ate with chopsticks. And got yelled at by my friend because I am a coward and I'm afraid of writerly rejection, and every other kind, too. Friends get to yell at friends because they earn it, and her ranting made me feel better. I rode a grocery cart, and rubbed noses with my kids. I felt sad for no reason at all, and disentangled Nina's leg from the slats of her crib, and wrapped Niko up in my old Sesame Street baby blanket. And now I get to go to bed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Abandoned Towers

You know what? I needed this.

http://www.cyberwizardproductions.com/AbandonedTowers/

Go to Writing Challenge, then Aug/Sept winners.

The editor said some very kind and gracious things, and that makes me happy. A nice end to the night!

But He's a Pretty Rottweiler.

Niko is currently studying for the GRE. He's lying on his stomach and flipping the pages while Nina naps. I'm making stew and homemade rolls for tonight, because I'm awesome like that. Sometimes. :P

Niko's been headbutting his little seat buddy on the bus, and his driver asked if I could get a bus aid into his IEP. Otherwise she'll have to separate him from the rest of the kids, and she really doesn't want to do that. I find that very compassionate of her, and I'll definitely look into that.

I was just out petting the neighborhood rottweiler and broke into hives. Other than that, it's a peaceful day.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Take Care of Yourselves...and Each Other

Niko was so excited for the bus today, jumping and flipping his hands in excitement. Which is such a relief to me. Nina's teething (again. Still. Forever.) and is fussy and sad, and I've had a consitant string of writing going lately. Hopefully this will tide me over for those times when I can't so much as write my name.

So this was my take on General Conference in a nutshell: Yes, these are hard times. Take care of each other and choose joy. There were a lot of messages, but that's what resonated with me. And you know what? I can do that. What an uplifting thought.

Next, let's speak about Demonic Tome! It came out today, and I really struggled with my story. Check out "Thus Sayeth the Devil" by Dawn Allison (rock on, Dawn!) and mine is "Forbidden Grand". I put this disclaimer up on my writing site, but in case there's any question in your minds, Demonic Tome is a horror site. Keep that in mind, if you so choose to go exploring. And enjoy!

www.demonictome.com

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Just Life

We had our first official family picture. "Take it fast," we told the photographer, "our children are going to fall apart."

"Have more faith in me," she said. That won my heart, quiet honestly, the sweet, determined, naive thing.

Niko went absolutely haywire. She got one shot, I kid you not. One shot. Then Luke scooped him up and carried him outside to console him. Thankfully, it was a pretty decent shot. Luke, Nina, and I were looking equal parts happy and wry. Niko was tearfully chewing on his fingers.

"We'll take it," I said.

The photographer eyed it. "I can ask them to take the tears out."

"Keep them," I said, and smiled at her. "This is him. This is us. This is just life."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House

The MFA program responded to my inquiry, saying to apply anyway and if I'm accepted, they'll meet together as a faculty and try to be sensitive to my needs. You know what? I appreciate that. Green light, all systems go.

This came out today. It's a poem that I wrote in high school when I should have been studying math. I still remember writing it, based on this borderline hateful English friend that I had at the time.

http://www.freewebs.com/rarepetal/index.htm

As always, I have all of my writing links on www.abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com

I'm still trying to figure out blog organization. On one hand, if you're wandering over here because your child has just been diagnosed with Williams, you're not going to want to read about my writing. But if you're my friend, then you'll want to know that finally! Something is happening on the writing front! And it's making me very happy.

I guess I don't know whether I should separate writing from the Williams. It would be neater. Then again, life certainly isn't that way; they're definitely intertwined.

Hi, this is me. We are a household of music and kisses and old movies. And Williams syndrome. And writing. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Don't Wanna. And a Link!

I did it. I wrote a 1,000 word essay about Niko and submitted it somewhere. It's about the time he started the toaster on fire, and very nearly took the house with it. It wasn't as painful as it has been in the past, so that's a great sign.

I put Nina on a little riding toy that it took Niko two years to master. She hopped right on and had it down, and it makes me take a step back with my hands on my hips. Well. So this is what it's like for "typical" kids. I suppose I see why people are so taken back by my son. I'm proud of both of my kids, for what they can each do. I can't compare them, and frankly I don't want to. So take that, World. You can't make me. :P

My story is out today! This is the first thing that I ever published, and I was all "Yahoo!" on this blog about it. This is an online reprint, so you guys get to read it, if you'd like. It's one of my very favorites.

www.theshinejournal.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Shameless Plug for My Friend

I wrote this serviceable but not fantastic horror piece for a contest, and I was very proud of myself for completing and submitting it. Anyway, I get this email saying that it didn't place in the contest, but they would still like to run the piece, and of course I was very excited, right? Wait, it gets better. So a few minutes later I open an email from my best writer friend Dawn, and what's this?! SHE is the first place winner of the contest, and gets goodies and fame and fortune! I cannot tell you how excited and pleased I am for her! That girl is a writing maniac, and the whole reason that I have so many pieces out right now is because we galvanize/egg each other on. She's also coming out in the Northern Haunts anthology whenever that's published. My friend Dawn Allison. Horror writer. Keep an eye out because you'll see her again, and can be all, "I heard of her back in the day."

Anyway! The most exciting part to me is that she and I will be published in the same online issue of a magazine! I think that's a very sweet success. I'll link when it's out. :)

Switching subjects, we're waiting for Niko's bus, and Niko has really been spending a lot of time at the piano lately. He's never exhibited the stereotypical Williams savant music skills, but he's really been playing some beautiful chords on the piano and keyboard. He played up and down, stopping at the octaves, which amazed me. I heard him last night and thought it was Luke playing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arg.

I called Mom today and whined. Luke's at work again, the kids are driving me crazy, they won't get over their colds, I've had nothing but writing rejections this week, the house is dirty and eating me alive, blah blah blah. My mother is a good woman. She told me that it was okay to complain because I need a break and can't have one, and neither can Luke. And having her validate my frustration really perked me up a bit, which has gotten me through the day. Thus far.

She also said that nothing is going to get accomplished today, and just to accept it. And again, she was right. I've been trying to buy GRE study guides online for...about four hours now. It takes me THAT long to browse, research, put in a cart and buy. Because there are bumps to kiss and fights to referee and tummies to fill. I don't drink, and I'm very grateful at times like this, because I'd be passed out cold with an empty bottle in my hand otherwise.

So, MFA. I think it's a good idea. It isn't something that I have prayed about yet, but I'm excited to be moving in that direction. The whole "what am I going to do with my children while I'm at class" thing is a concern though, and so far I can't even find a schedule of what the classes will look like, so I can have an idea. But the GRE is good for five years, so even if it's not something feasible for next year, it will have been an accomplishment that I can use later. And honestly, how could studying for anything be bad? Education=good. Enough said.

So in November I'll be trying to write my third (and a half) novel and studying for the biggest exam of my life. Send help. Send chocolate. Send straightjackets and loving words of support. And Amy, I want to ask you about going back to school, but I can't find a way to get in contact with you! I'd like to pick your brain.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Down Time

The kids are sick, Luke's working all day even though it's Saturday, and I've had a migraine for about two days now. All I want to do is sleep, but I'm trying to soldier through because I'm home alone with the kids. But Six Little Things went up today, if anybody would like a charming little read. I quite like how he did the colors and layout, and I'm pleased to be a part of it.

http://sixbrickspress.com/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sparkly

When Niko saw me from the bus today, he jumped up and down, flipped his hands, and grinned. That's why I like being a mom. He did some good hooting and "uh-uh"ing on the phone to Luke today, some of the best phone convo that I've heard. I have much hope for this little boy. Nina thinks that he hung the moon, and always wants to be wherever he is. They're so lovely.

And Mr. Poetry Magazine took me back! My poem will be published in Kill Poet sometime in the near future. Today is quite a sparkly day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good News and Bad News

Bad news first, then it's out of the way. I was reading the requirements for the MFA here, and it needs you to spend some time abroad. Six credits worth of time, however long that is, going to school there and speaking the language. And I'm thinking, "Not bloody likely!" Shall I ask Luke to can his job and pack up our children? Shall I jaunt off alone to a foreign country? Who is this program tailored for, anyway? Rich single people? I took three years of French, and thanks to Luke, we're exposed to Russian on a daily basis. We read culturally diverse stories to our children, and I feel that I have traveled extensively. I'm going to write and ask if previous experience qualifies. We lived in Helsinki, for crying out loud! I can lead them around Jakomaki on the bus. Shouldn't that count? I hope so. It's worth asking.

On a side note, I realize that I'm less likely to take no for an answer than I was before. I'm happy about this.

So the good news! My pixie story was accepted for next month's issue of Reflections Edge. It's one that I'm fond of, and really enjoyed writing. I hope some of you get a chance to read it, if you so desire. Some of you will recognize one of the characters, namely the shark. He sleeps on our bed every night. He's bigger than my husband, but it all works out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Think I'm Crazy.

The kids were in fine form today at church. They bucked, screamed, and Niko headbutted Luke in the face a good one. He bloodied my nose doing that the other day, and we're trying to A) move quicker and B) break him of this new, disturbing habit. It's not just us, either. You can tell our friends because they're the ones shouting "My face, my beautiful face!"

I'm seriously thinking of getting my MFA. Crazy, right? How are we going to work that out? Financially, with babysitting, with the whole application process. I'm scared of the GRE. I'm scared of tracking down old professors and begging letters of recommendation from them. I graduated college eight years ago. This is insane. And yet it makes my heart pound. There's a creative writing program here in the city. Part of me says, "Do I dare?"

The other part says, "Oh, yeah. You dare."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beautiful Things Happen!

Niko's new teacher called last night. We were all supposed to send in pictures of our families to school, and she called to say that when she showed Niko's pictures, he became extremely exited and proud. She said that she knew he wouldn't be able to tell me, but that she thought I'd want to know. You know what? I did want to know! And taking the time to call and tell me was exceptional on her part.

I received a strange, blocky letter with no return address. When I opened it, I nearly cried. Somebody had mailed back my driver's license, credit cards, Barnes and Noble membership card and the Jo Ann Fabric coupon that had been in my wallet.

The On The Premises and CoolStuff4Writers' stories are both up now. The OTP entry is one that I especially liked. Luke laughed and said, "Oh my gosh," but I was in my female serial killer phase right then.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tell Me, Mr. Poetry Magazine, Do You Still Love Me?!

I don't know what I want in a writing relationship. I feel in love with this certain tall, dark, and mysterious poetry magazine months ago, and sent it some of my favorite pieces. But I never heard back and never heard back, and eventually came to the sad conclusion that it was never meant to be, that the magazine had folded and I was to be alone forever. So today I sent an email withdrawing my poems. And then I received a response.

It was beautifully written all lowercase prose, although it was broken into stanzas like poetry. "why?" it asked me. The loveliness was almost heartbreaking. "you are talented, your poems will find a home elsewhere."

I don't want my poems to be elsewhere, I want them to be there! I tell you that generally my whimsy guides me, and my whimsy wanted this site and this site alone. My heart was stolen and I can never get it back. Even their response to my withdrawal was evanescent and lovely.

So I begged. "I thought you were nonfunctional, I went about this all wrong, please reconsider!" I had broken off my engagement and now I wanted to take it back. But the question is, will I be forgiven? I'm dying to know.

It's a rookie mistake, and I am most definitely a rookie. I'm learning new things every day, and now I know not to make assumptions and that I should query before withdrawing. I learn from my mistakes, but I would be so much happier to learn from an *almost* mistake.

I've been asked if I'll ever write about Niko and Williams. I have, in a way. I submitted an essay to Real Simple that I never expect to hear back on. I'd like to do an article sometime, because I think a Williams parent could write it differently than anybody else could. But at the same time, it's too hard. I've tried so many times, and they either come out clinical (our life isn't clinical) or weepy (our life isn't weepy). They don't turn out how I'd like them to, because it's still so raw. I don't know how to explain my son to those who don't know him. One of my friends told me to write my essay like I was writing him a letter, and it did help. It was much looser and informal, but still not quite right. But do you know what is right? This blog. I can speak about Niko on my terms, in my own way, and I feel like there isn't judgement. It's...very nice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Jumping and Screaming

Today I learned that I won the CoolStuff4Writers.com August contest! It'll be up soon.

I asked Luke if he thought I'd ever stop hopping up and down and being excited if something got published. He said that he didn't think so. He makes me so incredibly happy. So again, http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com if you're interested in reading some of these pieces.

Niko went happily (I hope!) to school. We took a one year picture of Nina, who was an emotional mama's girl today, and it reflected in her teary eyed pictures. I think they're wonderful.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On The Premises

I got a happy email today saying that I tied for first place in the On The Premesis #6 Mini Contest. I'm so excited! It should be up soon.

Oh No They Di'n't!

Oh yes they did!

I get a call from Niko's school. AGAIN. They say, "He's fussy and I think he needs to go to the hospital." AGAIN. I don't have the car. AGAIN. So I call June in tears, AGAIN, and she is my emergency contact so she goes to pick him up. Which is fortunate, because I wouldn't be able to pick him up since I lost my wallet and ID. AGAIN.

So they think Niko is warm and his eyes are goopy, but they can't take his temperature. He threw a massive fit, and perhaps that's why the nurse decided that he needs medical attention. He comes home, and he's fine. No temp, good spirits. He plays with his friends. He's all right.

I understand their concern, and especially when considering his past medical history. But being called twice in his first two weeks of school is not okay. I called his teacher and said, "Please talk to them again! I'm throwing emergency clothes in a bag while I'm waiting for my son to arrive at home! Please remind them that my first instinct is panic."

I asked if maybe I should take a video of Niko when he's tantruming because it's fairly typical Nikolai behavior. Perhaps if the people at school were more familiar with it, it wouldn't be as frightening to them.

I don't want to be the mother who is always calling the school. But I want my son to have an education and a routine. It's a fine line between advocate and overbearing.

Perhaps I will do a Niko postand link them to it, perhaps with a video. Maybe I'll explain a few things about him individually, so they are aware. Things like: you will never, ever get a temperature from him, so don't even try. He flips the SECOND anything even remotely medical is around. Luke had a caulking gun on Saturday, and Niko went haywire. I guess those things really do look like gigantic hypodermics. And Niko 's eyes tend to be somewhat goopy, even though he had surgery for that when he was younger. I genuinely believe that most people truly want to do their best. I need to find a kind, non-condescending way to show them.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I Have A Sister Blog!

Because my life is so interesting that it takes two! JUST KIDDING.

I put up a list of the places that I've been published. Hopefully one day it'll be long and grand and wonderful. For right now, I think it's just grand and wonderful. I have always, always wanted to become a writer, and I'm slowly launching off. Quite honestly, I never thought that I could do it. I lack discipline and determination. Well, I used to, anyway. I've been working very hard on it. Luke can attest.

Thanks to all of you who asked where you could see my stuff. You made my little heart shine.

http://abrokenlaptop.wordpress.com/

Friday, September 05, 2008

Satisfied.

So the assistant superintendent called back today. She interviewed the two teachers who saw Niko's abuse. Or supposedly saw Niko's abuse. One teacher said that she didn't see anything, which is NOT what she said before. The second said that Niko was screaming (and many are familiar with the Williams meltdown, aren't we?) and his teacher grabbed him roughly by the arm and sat him down in his chair, end of story. She said she reported it to the principal, who took care of it at the time by coming into the room often. Which is NOT what she told me on the phone, in fact, she told me the opposite. Not to mention that she felt inclined to bring it up again over a year later.

The assistant superintendent politely asked if I was satisfied. Yes, I'm as satisfied as I'm going to be. I'm angry, though. And tired. The school's aware that something possibly went on, and somebody somewhere is lying. Who, exactly? I don't know. Whoever would be heartless enough to lie about the possible abuse of a little boy.

That's not my problem, though. Officially, I'm "satisfied". I don't know what really happened, and I most likely never will. I mourn the bridges that were burnt, but I acted as carefully and correctly as I knew how. I learned a lot through this process, and perhaps this whole rigmarole is information that somebody needs someday. That's the whole reason that I started this blog in the first place, years ago. In case somebody needed it.

This phone call today, the fact that it's been investigated and is now over, this should be good news to me. Instead I find myself sitting here and trying to remember how much optimism and faith I have in humanity.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Phone Call

I received a call from the Assistant Superintendent saying that she was interviewing two teachers this week regarding Niko's alleged abuse in school. I appreciate the call, and I'm sure she appreciates keeping me off her back. We're moving forward.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nina Luna

I had a nightmare about Nina this morning, so I'm quite happy that she has pulled herself up next to me to chatter. She's wearing a little teal dress and her hair is flying around her head like dandelion fuzz. I think she and I are going for a walk and maybe out to lunch while Big Brother Nikolai is in school. Nightmares are horrible, but one thing that they have always done for me is to make me appreciate life once I wake up.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Perfect Weekend

We spent the evening at Luke's family's cabin. It was exactly what we needed! Nina played with her identical cousin, and Niko kept pulling Luke down to the creek to chase the cows. I drove the four-wheeler for the first time, and was advised not to shout out "Divot!" each time one came up. Apparently nobody needs to know about them except for me.

Also! I won this. I am very, very happy. Hooray!

:)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Mercedes Song

Some people I know are putting together a playlist of everybody's theme songs. This is the one song that you think of when you think of yourself.

There's the rub, right? I have about four or five theme songs, but the Song Nazis demand that I narrow it down to one. This will actually require a bit of enjoyable thought. Right off the top of my head I think of "Under The Water" by Merril Bainbridge, or "Come Back From San Francisco" by The Magnetic Fields, but there are so many others. I have always wanted to ask people what songs remind them of me, and make a mix. It would be fun to see what other people associate you with.

Paula Abdul makes me think of Janyece, and the Cranberries make me think of '80. Creed is Riley, "I Know Him So Well" is Pypes. Everything old makes me think of Luke. "Have You Seen Her" by the Chi-Lights and "Red Rubber Ball" by The Cyrkle.

If you have a Mercedes song, let me know, would you? I might make that mix after all. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We Are Trained To Jump

So Niko's school calls me today, and tells me that I need to pick him up immediately. I have no car, and called several people before I found somebody to give me a ride. With Nina in my arms, I race into the office. He's not there. They tell me to go to the health office, so I'm thinking, "Oh no! He's with the nurse! Something is really wrong." So I race there. No Niko, but the nurse looks at my ID, gives me a Visitor sticker and sends me to his room. I have Nina on my hip, and I'm literally running to his classroom. I throw the door open and see Niko face-down on the floor. I nearly have a heart attack.

His new teacher is rubbing his back and says, "Shhhh, he's sleeping." Apparently during Music Time, which is when the teacher has her prep period, Niko had a diaper blowout, and the teachers and aids couldn't handle it. They freaked, and since they freaked, Niko freaked. So somebody runs for the teacher, and somebody else runs to call me. For a diaper incident.

"They scared me," the teacher said. "I thought he was choking, or something!" She said that she told them not to call me, but they already had.

The thing is, we are trained to jump. Any parent is, but you throw medical fragility in there, and suddenly everything goes into hyperdrive. "Come pick up your child" means that he stopped breathing, or something has broken inside. Somebody is going to explain this to these teachers, who simply aren't aware of the alarm that they cause.

Oh my lands. My heart nearly stopped.

Coincidence?

My father ended up in the hospital, but will hopefully be out soon. His nurse? Is that girl from my home area whose daughter has Williams. What a small, small, small world.

Monday, August 25, 2008

That's How We Roll

Niko's first day of kindergarten! He, like Pinocchio, is a real boy.

I sent him off in the depressingly bland school uniform that he's forced to wear. You know, to crush his spirit and imagination, and also so that he and his homies don't flash gang colors. He walked straight for the bus, climbed up in the seat, and there he was. He returned home victorious, without a call from his teacher. Until tonight, but she just wanted to ask a few questions after observing him for a bit. I'm so proud of him.

Meanwhile, Nina had precious, precious Mommy/Me time. At the doctor's office because of what I thought was an ear infection, but turned out to be *more* teething. That girl and her mawful of teeth...she's never done.

So now it's Monday night. I'm figuring out Audacity because I'm venturing out into the realm of submitting stories to podcasts. I found a site that will allow the author to read their own if they are A) accepted and B) of a high enough recording quality. I think that would be all kinds of cool. Niko and Nina are both lying side by side on the floor, watching Luke play Guitar Hero. Because that's how we roll.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, yeah, and I write too.

Neverlands and Otherwheres just sent me the final proof to look over. We're good to go, huzzah!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So. I'm Afraid.

I enrolled Niko in his new school today. He starts kindergarten on Monday, and it's an all day special education class. That's right. All day. It starts at 8:00 and gets out a little after 2:00. I have mixed feelings about this. The first and strongest feeling is "My baby!" He's so little, and that seems so long. Especially since he's been having difficulty at school lately.

Difficulty at school. That's a polite way to put it.

That's my other fear. That's six hours every day that he could be hurt. Not that I think that will happen, but I didn't think that would happen before. I need a game plan. I need to figure out how I can be involved enough that I can watch over Niko, but not become one of those crazy psycho parents. "Hi, I'd like to join the PTA simply to make sure that you're not abusing my little boy. Who wants root beer?"

My understanding is that the investigation should begin this week or next. I am chronically nervous, and can't sleep at night. My faith in these people is...well, almost nonexistent. They have done very little to earn it.

I'm leaving soon to take Niko to the opthomologist for his lazy eye. This will be...yeah. Wish us luck. :P

On a happy note, my humorous horror officially made it through the first round. I was surprised and happy that the editors took the time to drop me an email and let me know, because usually you don't hear back until you're either rejected or have made the final cut. The anthology is called Dark Jesters, and I'm definitely going to pick it up whether or not my piece is included. Because I'm intrigued to see "humorous horror", and the editors are gracious, and courtesy invites courtesy. And I simply love to read, dear heavens, there isn't anything better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No, Seriously.

A Mormon walks into a bar. She's dressed as an alien.

So the ET Midnight Moon Marathon was sensational. It really was. My parents came down to watch the kidlets, and Luke and I drove out to the Extraterrestrial Highway out by Area 51. We all met at the "Black Mailbox", and watched a lightening storm for a while. The marathoners started at midnight (congratulations, Luke!) then we drove up 13 miles for the halfers, and then the 10kers started at the Little A'le'inn, which was an endearing trailer/bar/restaurant combo. We were all wearing green glow-in-the-dark necklaces, and various other glowy things. Headlamps. Reflectors so that we weren't run down in the dark, and the like. Luke made alien faces out of reflecting tape, and I had two huge alien eyes peering out from my back.

This was a silent race. When it was time for the 10k to start, I was delighted to find out that the song playing was, appropriately, Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois. It was such a bizarre thing, so eerie, to be running out in the middle of the desert with all of these bobbing lights running beside me. It forced my mind to be quiet. I was thinking the next song would kick it up a notch, but it was 02.20 Boy from Suicide Sports Club. Which I definitely suggest that you listen to on youtube or whatnot, because it's amazing. Imagine being in the middle of nowhere with strangers running silently past, and listening to this haunting song. I'd turn my light to the desert and I'd see all of these strange night time eyes shining back at me. I'll definitely be there again next year, that's for certain.

Sleep Threatens To Overtake Me...Get Back!!!

You know that I hate to fall asleep. I'm afraid of my nightmares, I'm afraid that my heart will stop, but mostly I'm afraid that I'll miss something important. It's always been that way. I wanted to write about Saturday night's run, but I'm too tired to do it justice. I guess I just popped on here to kill some time before I go to bed. A year ago I was in the hospital, and I suppose that I've been thinking about it, and it makes me sad but mostly grateful. I really try hard to appreciate things.

The house is silent except for some white noise. Everybody is asleep, so what would I possibly miss if I went to bed? I don't know. Something fantastic. A meteor shower, or the earth exploding, maybe. A phone call. Life.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I live!

Just barely. The E.T. Midnight Moon 10k (plus an extra four "supportive" miles) wiped me out, and the marathon nearly did Luke in. But it was an amazing experience that I'll elaborate upon later. This is how it'll begin:

A Mormon walks into a bar. She's dressed as an alien. No, seriously.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birth...

Well, Nina's birthday fell flat on its face, but the good news is that she's too young to realize it. I was a frazzled, panic-stricken wreck, completely overwhelmed by Niko pulling Nina's hair, by his head pounding, by his new hitting himself in the head while he cries. He's mean to his sister, and he's mean to me. I simply don't understand it, and it hurts my heart. I don't know if it's because he isn't sleeping, or because it's Luke's busy season and he's MIA right now, or if it's because it's summer and there is no schedule. I'm at a loss. Anyway, Luke got home last night and ran over to help our dear friends pack the truck for their move across the country, and didn't get home until midnight. That's right, on our daughter's first birthday. There was a lonely birthday cake and a lot of crying at our house, and it wasn't just the kids.

But that's in the past. Today we did immunizations, always a pleasure, and later tonight we're going to mow down Niko's wild hair. He looks like an orphan with it curling around his neck and ears like it does. So it'll be a day full of tears for Niko, but that seems to be the norm lately.

Tomorrow Luke and I run the E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon, only Luke will be doing the half and I'll be doing the 10k. I haven't ran in months, literally, but I'm still looking forward to it. Running down the road, mostly alone, in the dark sounds like something that I need right now. My race starts at 1:00 AM, so wish me luck.

I also saw that the school district is having a meeting on Monday that is open to the public. One of the things on the agenda is autism and special services, and although Niko isn't autistic, I think that I need to be there, if only to see in person the people that I have talked to. The people that let me down, if you want to be honest. I am determined to educate myself, and make sure that nobody can pull the wool over my eyes again. I really want to be able to adequately protect my son. No, I want to be more than adequate. I want to be stellar.

It's been a tough couple of weeks, and I have worked very, very hard to stave off the depression. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I have decided that the very act of trying to stand against it counts as a win. So this morning I got out of bed. I took a shower and combed my hair, and I'm doing the daily things that I need to do. I choose to see this as victorious.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Definition of Joy

Today is the first time in a long time that I have the chance to kind of kick back and enjoy the kids. Nothing on the agenda until tonight's Young Women's activity, so I'm cleaning the house and playing Tile Towers for Niko on Webkinz.com while Nina naps.

Princess Pretty Fingers has her first birthday tomorrow, and I think how much things have changed in a year. How did our family ever get by without her? She loves. That's what she does, and she's the best at it, and she loves her little heart out. We're so lucky.

Niko's having a positive moment right now, but his tantrums have been...wow. Like the tantrums of old, except with new twists. Now he's banging his head against things. The floor, people. He's started pushing and hitting. This is all new behavior, and I'm ready to pull out my hair. Is this typical learned behavior? Is there something more sinister behind it? That's what is wearying me lately, this constant looking over my shoulder to see if there is more that I should be aware of.

I finished my "humorous horror", and what's even better is that I like it! I submitted it last night. I'd like today to be a writing day, since I'm midway through a new novel, but we'll see how it goes. I had a writing epiphany the other day. I was reading about an author who's first novel became a best seller, and he was describing the fear that his sophomore attempt wouldn't do as well. And I thought, does that fear ever go away? Is there a point where you ever truly "make it" as a writer? And I thought, no, most likely not. But I genuinely enjoy the process. I love writing, I like when it comes easily to me. If it isn't coming fairly easy, then after a while I scrap it and work on a new, fun idea with a spark of life. I have the luxury of doing that because I don't have deadlines, I don't have contracts. This is a time of freedom for me, and perhaps I'll never publish anything beyond a few short stories here and there, but do you know what? I think that I'll be happy with that. The writing itself, the submitting and the like, it's just a joy. And what are we searching for if not joy?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Life Comes At You Fast. For Everything Else...

The emergency room bill came from our "Hello-has-our-son-been-abused?" trip.

Full skeletal x-ray to search for old/healing broken bones: $989.00

Other emergency room charges: $ 975.00

Total charges: $1, 964.00

Knowing that Niko didn't have old, unknown breaks? Priceless.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Anatomy of Niko's Heart


That's a picture of a heart.

Niko was lightly sedated, so he went drowsily ballistic yesterday instead of full-on combat mode. It still took three of us to hold him down, and they couldn't get a great look at his heart. Or a blood pressure, or an EKG. But from what they thought they could see (always reassuring) his function looks fantastic, and there's no blood where blood shouldn't be. Next time they're going to put him under a general anesthesia so that they he's completely out and they can get accurate pictures. I'd been begging them to do this for two years, but what do I know? I'm just his mother.

So Niko's particular problems are: 1)Severe aortic stenosis and 2) acute pulmonary blockages. Actually, I should say that those WERE Niko's particular problems. They have improved dramatically as he's gotten older. Still concerns, yes. Severe and acute? Not anymore. But we're keeping an eye on them, hence these mark-of-the-beast cardiology trips.

Let me show you what I'm talking about! I so ripped this off from the doctor's office yesterday. Teach them to leave me in a room alone. :P

I colored the aorta red. It's the largest artery in the human body, and sends blood from the heart to wherever it needs to go. "Stenosis" is basically a narrowing in the artery. So you can have your aorta with a little section of narrowing, and that would be aortic stenosis. Got it? Except in Niko's case, the entire aorta is narrow. They considered surgery when he was younger, but they didn't have a surgery to basically replace the entire aorta, is my understanding. But as he grew, the aorta grew as well. Lots and lots of prayer and blessings, I 'll tell you that. Niko was a pretty severe case beforehand. He'd lie down on the floor in exhaustion and his lips would turn blue.

I circled the pulmonary arteries with purple marker. Niko had a blockage in each artery, so the blood could make it through, but just barely. And now? They mysteriously disappeared. Again, I point to prayer and blessings.

I have a short summary of some of his medical problems in the entry titled "Blood Belongs In The Body". You can find it by using Blog Search in the top left hand corner.

Of course we're still concerned for Niko's health. We keep a great eye on him. But it's night and day from what it used to be, and that's what I want to stress for the people who are reading and struggling with their own child's diagnosis, especially if it's recent. The first year or two is so difficult! It's so very hard, and you're overwhelmed and simply can't wrap your mind around the things that doctors are telling you. But please believe me when I say that it gets better. When you finally get your feet under you, you'll hit the ground running. I never thought that Niko could have the life that he has. He's happy and active, he runs and plays and doesn't take any medicine at all. He eats, he sleeps all night. He has friends.

You are all going to be okay. And life will be beautiful again, only better because you'll have this amazing little mischievous creature. It'll be the way that it was always meant to be, and most importantly, you'll all be happy. :)

I know that sounds hokey, but it's true. Humans are amazing and we're adaptable, and one day we look back at something that we thought would kill us, only to find that it has become a mere bump in the road.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

You're Awful. I love you!

I have my days all confused. I took Luke to work at 5:30 AM so that I could have the car for Niko's sedated echo...which is tomorrow. Whoops. So I get to dread it for another day. The sedation that they do here is really light, and it still takes all of my strength to hold Sweet Boy down while they try and get a good look at his heart. Everything in this town seems subpar. Luke is starting to look for a new job elsewhere, and all I can do is cheer. I hate this town, I hate this town, I hate this town.

So today is a pretty laid back day, and we've needed one. We made cookies that Niko won't touch, because he doesn't eat sweet things, and I'm writing a letter to the regional superintendent that I didn't get to speak to yesterday. I said, "The school police told me to speak to Mr. So-and-so regarding the abuse of my child in school" and I got routed around to everybody but him. I will be polite but firm. "This is going on beneath you. It is your responsibility and you need to know. Also, you need to be accessible to parents who need you." All of these people not being held accountable? Not taking responsibility? It boggles my mind. My mama taught me better than that. Why didn't theirs?

In other news, I ate clam chowder this morning with a fork because Niko has squirreled all of our spoons away somewhere. Nina says the best wide-eyed "Wow!" Luke's MIA because it's his busy season, but he calls home a couple of times just to check in, and I have 19 writing pieces out. I have more than exceeded my goal, and I'm really happy with that! My life is much fuller now that I'm writing.

My friend challenged me to write a "humorous horror". That's...a stretch. But I'm all about the challenge, so bring it on. She and I are equally competitive and supportive, and she's the fire under my feet. Her obscenity laden "congratulations" letter cracked me up and spurned me on. I'm so going to win.

My favorite song right now? "Love Me Dead" by Ludo. The Labyrinth references and the fact that he looks like my husband only accentuates the sweetness. This video is awesome.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Dance With Me.

The assistant to the superintendent admitted that somewhere along the way, they dropped the ball. It's a district matter now. She assures me, no, she PROMISES me that there will be a thorough investigation. She says it makes her sick to her stomach to think that maybe Niko was sent back to an abusive environment. My job here is almost done.

Scroll down to the playlist, and press The New Radicals "You Get What You Give." You and I, we're going to dance.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Right or Wrong?

I was a little too angry to write before now, but a few days of cooling off and I'm human again. I spoke to the principal on Friday, and received conflicting reports from him. He said that yes, there was disciplinary action taken against the teacher last year. When I asked for a report about that, he said that he couldn't tell me because of confidentiality. I said, "There were abuse allegations involving MY SON and you can't let me read the report because of confidentiality? It's my son! He's part of this! I had the right to be informed so that I have all of the information necessary to decide whether or not he would be in that same classroom. And I would have chosen to pull him from that class!" Then the principal assured me that the disciplinary action was for things BEFORE Niko, that Niko wasn't involved in it so he couldn't give me information on it. So, great. He's saying that the teacher was being disciplined for something besides yanking Niko around? That inspires confidence. And suspicion.

So this is what it comes down to. Either A) the investigation and disciplinary action last year DID involve my son, and the principal is lying about it for whatever reason, or B) he's not giving me a report because there was no investigation done concerning Niko. Either way, this is completely unacceptable. More than that, this is wrong.

This whole thing, it's really wearing me down. Which is the plan, I'm afraid. I have had to break it into little tiny steps, to prayerfully make my decisions. And this is the way that I'm looking at it now: is it right or wrong to follow through? Is it right or wrong to take Niko to the hospital? Right or wrong to file the formal complaint? Right or wrong to call the regional superintendent tomorrow? When I look at it that way, it isn't as hard. It's easy. It's right. Right to do these things, right to get this out into the open. If there is abuse reported and they're not looking into it, then there are dark things going on in these schools, and it needs to be brought out into the light.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Attention, Parents:

The superintendent won't be in until Monday. Tomorrow is the Principal's first day back, and I'll finally have the opportunity to speak to him. The advocate said that in every nonverbal child's IEP we should write, "My child won't be able to tell me if there is abuse at school" under parental concerns. So that we have a plan in place. So that we have ammunition farther down the road. "I've been telling you that I'm concerned about this for FOUR YEARS," we can say. What an awful thing, but we're going to add it to his next IEP.

You know. For the next time that this happens.

Anyway, I've done all that I can do for the day. Nina is sleeping soundly, and Niko is jumping on the couch, grinning. I'm tired and worn and fighting off bitterness. I need to remember who we are, and we're more than this. We're not Williams Syndrome. We're not abused children. We are ourselves, and we are strong, and kind. And alive.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Break In The Case, As The School Police Would Say

The school police were extremely fond of saying things like, "Hmm, sounds like this woman knows more than she's telling!" and "Sounds like this teacher is the key!" Life seems to be grand when you're playing Sherlock Holmes. It was equal parts endearing and frustrating.

I called the teacher who witnessed said abuse today, (for she was the key!) and she answered her phone. She had been up in the mountains for the last little while and couldn't get any reception up there. Imagine her surprise when she listened to her voice mail and there were messages from me. The police. The school. Whoever.

Niko's teacher was screaming at him, she said. Not just him, all of the kids. Grabbing them and yanking them around. Saying hateful things. She said you could walk by the classroom and hear the teacher yelling at the top of her lungs. Her aid was very good at keeping Niko away from the teacher, she said, which makes me think that he might have received more of it than the others. The teacher said, "I reported it to the administration last year, but they said that they were handling it and basically told me to mind my own business." She gave me the names of who she talked to.

Well. That puts a whole new slant on things, doesn't it? So apparently the administration was aware of this behavior before this teacher reported it. So how many people knew about this? More importantly, if it was such common knowledge, why didn't the school contact ME? Somebody is screaming at my son, yanking him around, and I blissfully send him to school with the exact same teacher for another year? I'm speaking with the superintendent tomorrow. I find that I have a lot to say.

These are the steps that I have taken, for those of you that might find this information helpful. First I tried to call the principal, but school was out for this month. So I called the district's public concern line (not helpful) who put me in touch with the person higher than her. (Also not helpful.) Then I consulted an attorney, who advised me to take Niko to the hospital to check for signs of abuse. The hospital released that information to the police, but I called Abuse and Neglect Detail anyway to file my own report. I am still waiting to hear back from them, but I was assured that they'll call as soon as they are able. I called DCPS. (Not helpful.) I called the school police, filed a report with them, and tonight I'm filling out an official complaint form that I received from the disabilities advocacy center. The idea, the advocate says, is to create a paper trail. So I am. I also called the region special education department and talked to them, and the school police gave me the name of the superintendent and told me to speak to him directly. So.

No media, and it isn't in my plans. I'd like to resolve this as peacefully as possible. Unless, of course, I find that I need it, and then I won't be afraid to scream buildings down if I need to.

That's only elementary, my dear Watson.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tell It As It Is, Mr. Burke

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke


My earlier feeling of elation has left me. I'm just tired.

I filed a report with the school police, as per my advocate's instructions. And soon I have three officers at my door, sweet, bumbling men who can't seem to grasp what I'm telling them. They have questions for me: do I really want to report this? Why don't I have proof? Why did I wait so long to report? They don't think it will be reported as abuse at this time. I don't have enough information. The usual response.

I think that it is simple. Somebody said the words "abuse" "school" and "Niko" in the same sentence. Look into it.

Isn't that all they need to know? You would think so. When did we become so apathetic? It's horrifying.

"Nikolai" Means "Victory of the People"

Finally, somebody with some answers! A member of the advocacy group called me back yesterday, and gave me all of the information that I needed. "Do this, and this and this," she told me. "You talked to the school district on the phone? Then this issue will not even be addressed." Really. I wouldn't have guessed. *sarcasm sarcasm*

So I was on the phone all day. Leaving messages with the school police, the metro police, and the regional special education people. That's what I'll be doing today, too, until I talk to everybody that I need to talk to. Plus people coming over today, and all of that regular life stuff. I wish that sometimes it could sit on the back burner indefinitely, but it can't and that's good, I suppose. It keeps us human.

My friend and I were talking about Niko, who was put on this earth for a couple of reasons. He is to be a catalyst, I think. He can help us make things better. He's here to teach everybody patience and to demonstrate what unconditional love is. I see him doing this every day. Whether he's here to help us or we're here to help him, I don't know. It's most likely both.

Nina learned to wave while I was gone, and she was shy and kind of angry with me when I returned. For about 30 seconds, and then she was in my arms, squirmy and huggy with her pigtails flying in the air like banners. Always like banners.

There's an air of triumph to this family, I just know it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Me. I'm Back.


I got off the mountain late last night, and am readjusting to life in the city. This is a picture that one of the girls drew of me. I really like it. I have a bad habit of sticking out my tongue when people take my picture, apparently, but I can't seem to help myself.
More tomorrow, after a few phone calls.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I did it.


I did not make this decision lightly, but I felt that they had ample time and warning. I called the school today and gave the name of the teachers so that this matter could be fully investigated. And I was severely disappointed. When I again stressed how afraid these teachers were to come forward, the woman said, "That makes me suspicious of these teachers." I said, "No, that makes me suspicious of the school." She thanked me and promptly hung up. So do I feel like the school will investigate this properly? I most certainly do not. They are not my advocate. Their words make me feel like they're gunning for the teachers, and I don't trust them to do a thorough investigation.


I had much more to say, but wasn't given the opportunity. I wanted to tell them that the matter has been reported to the police, and that I have consulted an attorney. If I hear that somehow these teachers are given grief for their report, then I will call down fire from heaven if I have to. I'm going to call the school again after hours and leave a lengthy message, and then send a letter. I have to get all of this finished tonight, because I leave early in the morning.


The most important thing for you to know is that Niko and Nina are happy. They love each other and are fiercely loved by us. I'm moving this forward, but I know that I am doing so with the right spirit. This is all going to turn out for the best.


Some good news is that I'm published again. :) An online zine that I chose because they allow reprints, (I submitted Show Your Bones which was the first piece published in The Vestal Review) and I was charmed by both its enthusiastic name (Shine! A Magazine of Flash!) and its little fluttering butterflies on the first page. I do allow my whimsy to guide me. So look for that in October.
And these heels? Despite it all, I'm still me. :)