Interview with The Boy – 2013

Once again, I’m late in conducting this annual interview, but at least I’m remember to do it! Actually getting him to sit down and answer questions while I have my computer on is the hard part. Usually, my laptop stays closed until after he goes to bed, mainly because that’s the only time I’m able to get any writing done.

But without further ado, here’s this year’s interview:

(Interview conducted at approximately 1:05PM. Answers provided by The Boy. Commentary from Eileen follows responses in italics.)

 

1. What is something mom always says to you?

Stay on my heels.

Yes, because he has a horrid habit of walking on his toes.

2. What makes mom happy?

Kissing you. (When I kiss you and when you kiss me.)

Yes, this is true.

3. What makes mom sad?

Crying. Snakes.

Interesting that he thinks snakes make me sad, if by “sad” you really mean “freaked out.”

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

By tickling me.

This is also true.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

I don’t know because I wasn’t alive.

He’s got a point.

6. How old is your mom?

39.

Wrong! He missed it by a year. But if you’re rounding up, I guess he was correct.

7. How tall is your mom

[He took out the tape measure for this.] It looks like you are at 60. So five feet.

He totally cheated.

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?

The news. The Roku box.

He could have answered anything. I don’t watch a lot of TV.

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

Go shopping.

Uh, no.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

I have no idea.

Really? He met my literary agent and he has no idea?

11. What is your mom really good at?

I have no idea.

Same comment as above. [sigh]

12. What is your mom not very good at?

I have no idea.

I don’t think he’s trying.

13. What does your mom do for her job?

She makes money and listens to music and stuff like that.

Um… Okay.

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?

I have no idea.

I really thought he’d say something like “salad.” No such luck.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

Cuddling me.

[smile]

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

I do not know.

[sigh]

17. What do you and your mom do together?

We cuddle together, we go shopping together.

What’s with the shopping thing? I don’t like to go shopping.

18. How are you and your mom the same?

By our faces and also the height.

It is true; he’s almost as tall as I am.

19. How are you and your mom different?

That you’re a girl and I’m a boy.

He went for the obvious. That’s my boy. =)

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

She cuddles me. She tickles me. She kisses me.

[smile]

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

That he’s a good cook.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I mean, yes, Daddy is a very good cook.

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

Mostly the mall.

Huh?

23. If you would change one thing about mom, what would it be?

I have no idea.

I suppose it’s better than saying I could be nicer. Still… [sigh]

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My letter to Senator Marco Rubio

I was taught in school that our public officials are elected to speak on our behalf. I was taught that our public officials’ jobs are to ensure our voices are heard.

One of the Florida Senators let us down yesterday when he blocked legislation that would have made it more difficult for mentally ill people and those with criminal records to acquire firearms. I’m beyond disgusted.

Writing to my elected officials is nothing new for me. I’ve been writing to Senators and Representatives since I could vote. I ask them to speak up for me, to take my opinions into consideration before they cast their votes. I thank them for casting votes I agree with.

And I blast them when they’ve voted in such a way that disgusts me.

So Senator Rubio will receive an email from me today. Its contents are pasted below. And I truly hope that every American out there who is incensed by the Senate’s shortcomings yesterday does the same and writes to their Senators, as well.

Senator Rubio,

I am gravely disappointed to hear that one of the representatives of the state I now call “home” voted AGAINST requiring additional background checks to purchase guns. No – more than that. I am SICKENED.

I have a now 6-year-old who is ready to enter first grade in the fall, the same grade as those poor children who were massacred in Sandy Hook not even 4 months ago. I’ve held him a little closer every day since then, and I do what I can to ensure he’s in the safest environment possible.

Then to learn that you, who was elected by people who believed–no, TRUSTED–you would do the best thing for our community voted AGAINST background checks for gun purchasers? I am, to say the least, appalled. Don’t get me wrong: I support the Second Amendment. I have nothing against RESPONSIBLE adults purchasing weapons for hunting or collecting or protection.

BUT I SEE NO REASON IT SHOULD BE MORE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO PURCHASE PSEUDOEPHEDRINE FOR A COLD THAN IT IS FOR ME TO PURCHASE A GUN AT A GUN SHOW.

And that, sir, is the rub.

Were there elements of the bill that you disagreed with? Probably, and your PR machine will likely spit something back telling me some convoluted rationale that made your conscience vote against these additional background checks. I don’t want to hear that from you. I want you to visit every child in this state, look them in the eyes, and explain to them what YOU are doing whatever you can to keep them and their loved ones safe. Because you, sir, have not shown that you care about the safety of your constituents.

Shame on you.

I had hope for you as a representative of the Republican Party. I actually spoke up in your favor on a few occasions.

That will not happen again. I may not spout vitriol like others I know because I was taught to treat others as I’d like to be treated. But know that you have a LOT to prove if you wish to ever win my support.

Regards,

E.Caines

My Easter gift

We had a lovely Easter today. Cute Husband put together a great Easter basket for The Boy, complete with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stuff and some of the requisite Easter goodies. I took a nap a few hours after lunch because I wasn’t feeling well, but it was a good thing I did because that was where I received my Easter gift.

It’s been five years, two months, and a week since I last spoke with my mother. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years, but it also seems much longer than that at times.

I dream about my mom sometimes. After she died, it was more frequent, but now they are fewer and further between. Today, though, I had the chance to speak to her for the first time in at least a few months.

“What’s happening?” she asked. “How is your book coming along?”

“Ugh,” I sighed. “I’m just feeling overwhelmed. There’s a lot to do and I just want to get everything exactly right before Julia goes to this conference next month.” And I went on to explain the emails my agent and I had exchanged yesterday.

“You’ll get there,” she assured me. “Just stay focused.”

At this point, she’s a figment of my imagination, and I get that. My dreams are my memories and imagination working together to produce scenes and images that speak to my subconscious.

And while I know that, I don’t really care. It was my mom, and I got to talk to her for a while and share all my insecurities, just as I would have if she was still here.

Imaginary or not, that was the greatest gift of all.

Springtime Snow

There is no question that this has been the strangest weather year that I’ve experienced since, well, since it snowed in the Valley in the early ’90s.

The Boy and I went up to New York a few weeks ago in honor of Cousin J’s birthday. The Boy had just sent his Flat Stanley up to New York last month, and he was jealous that Flat Stanley got to play in the snow after Nemo, the giant snowstorm that dumped several feet of snow in the Northeast back in February.

I didn’t tell him about our trip until about a week before we’d left, mainly because I wasn’t totally sure when we would go. My sister offered to fly us up, and I wrestled with the decision of whether or not to pull him out of school the day we left. Luckily, his school moved up the date for Boot Camp (their version of Field Day), otherwise he would have to miss either Boot Camp or the trip to New York, and he would have been disappointed about missing one of them.

The Boy is an excellent travelling companion. He always has been. Even as an infant, except when he was ill or teething, he was great. But it’s even more evident now. He answered questions at the airport security checkpoint, handled his own luggage (a rolling backpack), presented his own boarding pass, found our seats on the airplane, and even proudly buckled his own seatbelt. And, thanks to all the amenities on Jet Blue, he entertained himself the entire flight. He even let me nap a bit on both flights. It was spectacular.

It was a very quick trip. We arrived Friday morning and were back home Sunday evening. But he said he had a great trip. He spent time with his cousins, played in their playroom (which he dubbed The Lego Room because, well, those were his favorite toys there), and watched Cousin J in her theater group’s performance of The Wizard of Oz. But his favorite part of all was playing in the snow.

Just the week before we arrived, it snowed pretty heavily in Westchester County, enough to close the airport to incoming flights. But it cleared up over the week, and all weather reports I checked were forecasting cold but not snowy weather. Always one to be prepared, though (Cute Husband calls it “over-packing”), I made sure I packed proper attire in the event the temperatures dropped to below freezing.

It was a good thing I did, because The Boy looked out the kitchen window Friday afternoon to see white stuff falling from the sky.

“Mom!” he exclaimed, an excited gleam in his eyes. “What’s that?”

I turned and saw flurries outside. They weren’t sticking to the ground, but the snowflakes dancing in the wind were more snow than we ever see in Florida.

“Quick!” I said, taking him by the hand and rushing downstairs to my sister’s mud room. “Let’s get your jacket on and we can go outside in the snow!”

We went outside and tried to catch snowflakes on our tongues. He was excited and had fun, but I could tell he was a bit disappointed.

IMG_1184

Catching snowflakes (or trying to)

“I wish I could make snowballs,” he said. He looked out at my sister’s green lawn and frowned. “But it’s not going to stay on the ground because it’s too hot.”

“Sorry, buddy,” I said, ushering him back into the house. “We can try to come up this winter, and maybe we’ll be able to see snow then.”

“Yeah. And then I can build a snow fort and have snowball fights with my cousins.”

We awoke the next morning to a crisp day, but the flurries had stopped, at least for a while. But by the afternoon, the snow was back, and this time falling a bit harder than the day before.

Catching snowflakes again - this time with more success!

Catching snowflakes again – this time with more success!

“It’s a blizzard!” he cried, watching the snow fall, this time in clumps instead of the delicate flakes we saw Friday. We went to the local library and spent time in the children’s area. My sister and I each tried to draw his attention away from the window, tempting him with books. I mean, he loves books, and we were in a very nice library! There were so many titles he could read!

Instead, he complained. “I don’t want to be here,” he insisted. “I want to go outside and play in the snow.”

Finally, we headed back to my sister’s house.

“I hope it’s still snowing and the snow is sticking to the ground when we get back,” he announced in the car. “I really want to throw snowballs and maybe make a little snowman.”

IMG_1197

Just before launching the snowball…

...and launching it at me.

…and throwing it at me.

He got his wish. It wasn’t a thick layer of snow, but there was enough of it for him to scoop up and throw at me. As for the snowman, well, we may need to come back up north in the winter when the snow is properly sticking. While Cousin J was able to make a respectable (albeit small) snowman, he created more of a snow monster.

The Boy's Snow Monster, complete with eyes and multiple arms.

The Boy’s Snow Monster, complete with eyes and multiple arms.

Cousin J's little snowman.

Cousin J’s little snowman.

But he was proud of it and had lots of fun making it, and that’s all that matters.

My poor, neglected blog…

I feel like a bad friend. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. Quite the contrary. I’ve been writing a lot. And while I’ve updated my writing blog a few times this month, I haven’t done much to update the personal blog.

Grr.

And it’s not like there hasn’t been anything worth writing about, either. Time is just getting away from me. I realized this morning that The Boy’s birthday is in 15 days. FIFTEEN DAYS. That’s crazy.

So please forgive me. I’ll try to do better. I won’t make promises that I may not be able to keep, but I can at least try. Like, once a week try.

My Funny (but really somewhat disturbing) Valentine

The Boy surprised Cute Husband and me this morning with a book he had written. We knew he had been working on it, and he even let me read the first chapter, but I didn’t get to see the finished product until today.

It’s too good not to share, but in case you’re wondering why I titled this post the way I did, just keep reading through Chapter 3. (Don’t worry – it’s short!)

(I am transposing the work exactly as it is written, so errors and omissions in spelling, verb tense, and punctuation are intentional. The emoticons are also intentional.)

The mom and the son was in the house

The son played.

the mom used the hose.

the dad died?

he got shot!

at worck 😦

he wint to the hospitl!

chapter 2

The mom and son was at the pet shop!

the son and the mom was looking?

I wat this puppy 🙂 the son saed

they washt tv

chapter 3

I wat to wach tv the son sed

the mom sed no!

Please

no? if you ask me onw more time no more tv for the rest of the week the mom sed.

I didint do that 😦

the end

I’m thinking maybe this could be more of a performance piece. If I can convince him to do a live reading, I’ll record it and put it up on YouTube.

But on a different note, do you think it’s too soon for me to send him to therapy?

Almost a “Grader”

I received an email from The Boy’s teacher this morning:

On Thursday, February 21st, we will have an open house from 7:45 am – 8:30 am for parents of kindergarteners to visit the first grade classrooms.

What?!? First grade already? How did my little boy grow up so fast?

It seems like just last week that I took him to his current school for his interview and beamed with pride as my then three-year-old painstakingly wrote his name on the application form. And it wasn’t long before that visit that I fretted he would never master potty-training.

Now he’s only about a foot shorter than I am, uses the potty like a pro (to the point that I send him into the men’s room by himself while I wait outside), has almost memorized “The Star Spangled Banner” on the guitar, and reads some books at a third-grade level.

And today, he’s touring the first grade classrooms at his school. Cute Husband and I are very excited for him, and we can’t wait to hear what he has to say about spending a few hours today as a first grader. We are both so incredibly proud of him.

But all the same… Who took my tiny baby and left me with this grade-schooler?

On writing and parenting

I tweeted something I thought was rather profound this morning:

My feelings on writing are a lot like my feelings on parenting: rewarding when good, painful when bad, but oh so worth it!

These last few months have been somewhat challenging with The Boy. He’s been pushing boundaries, as children his age are wont to do, and it can be is taxing. Some days are better than others, but days that don’t include at least one fit or argument are few and far between. He questions just about everything, and he wants things done his way. As a result, there’s a lot of frustration for everyone.

If she was still here, my mother would remind me that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

But when things are great, they’re awesome. This morning, for example, he was practicing guitar and doing a great job of it. His biggest struggle with guitar practice has been counting, and it probably will be for some time. Last week, I made a deal with him that he would play “Jamaica Farewell”, the song he’s working on right now, at least three times a day during practice if I wrote the numbers under each measure.

“Jamaica Farewell” is a tricky song, only in that there are combinations of eighth notes and quarter notes and quarter rests and half notes and ties and flats… It’s not an easy song for a five-year-old who just picked up the guitar about ten months ago. (Okay, it’s not an easy song for a five-year-old. Period.) As such, you have to count. And thank God, he finally got it today.

I’m extremely proud of him, and I’m especially proud that he is persevering. I’ve had to regale him with tales of how he overcame resistance as a younger child and kept trying until he succeeded (the First Steps story is a current favorite) to prove that no one succeeds right out of the gate, and I’ve also had to remind him that I gave him a $300 acoustic guitar for Christmas based on the condition that he agreed to continue playing guitar until he was nine years old. (It was a three-year extension on the initial deal, based on one year for every $100 I spend, which I think is fair. It also gets me out of potentially shelling out $10K for a guitar in the future because he’d have to play guitar for 100 years to pay that off.)

Anyway, that’s a glimpse into part of my parenting life.

My point is that writing isn’t much different for me, only I’m kind of parenting myself. There have been (and will always be) times when I’ve wanted to take everything I’ve written and burn it. (Okay, I’ve actually done that before. But they were journal entries from junior high and high school, and I don’t think those should count.) I’ve gotten really attached to characters but haven’t been able to weave a story about them. I’ve come up with ideas that I haven’t been able to properly flesh out into something coherent. I’ve written pages upon pages upon pages of, well, stuff, only to find that it rambles needlessly and has no real point.

And I’ve wanted threatened to kick my computer or Townshend* my laptop, and I’ve begged myself to please let me take a day off from writing, promising to work doubly hard the next day (and then holding myself to it). And I behave exactly like my five-year-old (Apple? Tree? Not far!) when I get frustrated with the blinking cursor or the meaningless plotless mess before me.

But then it starts to gel. And that’s when I feel all those same emotions that I felt when I first saw The Boy hold up his head on his own or heard him say his first word or watched him take his first steps or realized he could read: pride, joy, excitement, and (I hate to admit it) relief. There’s always that possibility that maybe, just maybe, your child will fail at something. And there’s always that possibility that maybe what you’ve written isn’t worth reading.

But when it clicks – really clicks – and I hear him playing “Jamaica Farewell” in a way that the tune is actually recognizable or when a friend’s daughter demands the next chapter of my WIP because she needs to know what happens next, all of that pain is totally worth it.

Until you have to go through it all over again.

Definition of TOWNSHEND: to pulverize something by repeatedly crashing it into the ground; most commonly used in reference to a guitar

Where has January gone?

It’s been busy in my world.

Okay, that’s true of everyone’s world, but I’m offering that as my excuse for not writing much this past month.

So, what has happened in the Caines homestead?

We’ve moved guitar practice to the mornings instead of the evenings. The reason is twofold: One, taking privileges seems more effective when he loses out for the entire day, and two, it frees up time in the evenings for The Boy to unwind with Cute Husband. And as The Boy is generally more agreeable in the mornings and practices while I’m making his lunch, it seems to work out fairly well for us.

My sister bought Skylanders Giants for The Boy (among other things) for Christmas, and it is one of his favorite things to play now. My living room has been taken over by Legos, too, though, so it’s not like it’s all about video games. It should be noted, though, that The Boy raced to write his thank you note for everything she sent because he was so excited to play it.

And I’ve been writing more, which is the real reason I haven’t been blogging. I have pictures to put up from my January craft with The Boy’s class, after all. But my NaNoWriMo novel has kind of taken on a life of its own, and it’s occupying a lot of my time. I’m hopeful that something will come of it, and an agent will read my book and declare that s/he absolutely loves it and wants to represent me. But in the meantime, I’m still busy researching agents and the industry, and it’s a whole lot to learn.

What has become of the GOP?

The Republican Party is on its way to becoming a laughingstock.

Ann Coulter was on Fox News talking to Shawn Hannity saying that the Republican Senators should agree to raise taxes on the country’s top .01% earners, and Hannity freaked out. For once, Coulter said something that made sense to me, and Shawn Hannity still argued with her because, possibly from his perspective, she was turning her back on all the Republican morals and “capitulating to Obama”.

And she reminded him that the Republicans lost the election. Clearly, the American people have less faith in many of the Republican leaders who ran for office last month.

Cute Husband was particularly tickled by Senator Reid (of his home state of Kentucky) ultimately filibustering himself because he proposed allowing the President to raise the debt ceiling at will, without Congressional approval. When the Senate Majority leader Senator McConnell suggested putting that proposal up for a vote, Reid ended up filibustering his own proposal.

And yet we’re to believe the Republican argument that the filibuster is not abused in Congress?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself agreeing with some of the more liberal Republicans out there. Hell – I would have voted for John McCain if he didn’t pick (in my opinion) an overzealous loon as his running mate. But they are liberal Republicans: more socially accepting than their hyper conservative brethren but still fiscally conservative.

But what’s happening to the party right now as they jockey in their attempts to reposition themselves to the American public is, for lack of a better word, a train wreck. The hyper conservative voices need to reconsider their words before they speak.

Ann Coulter said it best: “[The Republicans] lost the election.” The American people have spoken, and the GOP’s best chance at regaining any Senate seats and/or retaining their places in the House would be to listen.