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    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Garlic and Grace

    Chunky is in a whiney, temper-tantrum stage. Groan! We’ve punished, ignored, and even laughed through his repeated trips to Camp Pitch Fit. But all of us, even Monkey, are worn thin by Chunky’s loud wails and floor pummeling.

    Of course you can’t give in. But standing your ground is so much easier said than done.

    This morning, we all woke up a little late. I got my sleepy boys downstairs, asked them what they wanted for breakfast, and rushed about making my own peppermint tea and their cinnamon toast.

    I don’t know why I did it. I knew, even as I cut the crust off their toast, that no good could come of such an action. I’ve always made them deal with their own crust issues, and slicing off the edges for them set a dangerous precedent.

    I handed them their plates, and Chunky immediately went into whine mode. “I didn’t want mine toasted.”

    Thinking it was entirely possible I’d missed his request for non-toasted toast, I told Chunky to give his brother his square of warm, buttered bread, and I would make him “cold toast.”

    Time was slipping away, so I buttered a slice of bread, sprinkled cinnamon on it, and gave it to him—with the crust still on.

    Mount Vesuvius erupted on my living room couch. “I don’t want the crust! You didn’t cut it off! Why didn’t you cut it off! Waaaaah!”

    Totally unacceptable. I ignored my spewing five-year-old and gulped my own tea and yogurt down while Monkey simply turned the volume on his cartoons up to 50.

    Then I told Chunky that he could either eat what he was given or go to school hungry, and I headed upstairs to brush my teeth and throw on clothes.

    I came back down, shouting to the boys to get dressed. We were dangerously close to late. Entering the living room, I caught the distinct whiff of garlic. What in the world, I thought, but continued into the kitchen to pack Chunky’s snack.

    That was when I noticed that he’d thrown away the cold toast I’d given him, gotten a new piece of bread, and cut the crust off himself. He was sitting on the living room floor with his new breakfast. I should have stopped to deal with his sneakiness right then, but time was ticking away.

    I turned off the TV, threw socks at my boys, stuffed my towel in my gym bag and said, “We gotta go” the requisite four times.

    Again I puzzled at the strong garlic odor, but I figured it was somehow leftover from the garlic cheese biscuits I’d made the night before.

    After my fifth “We gotta go,” I noticed the sad little heap of kindergartener on my floor.

    “What’s the matter?” I asked.

    “I didn’t get to eat my toast.”

    I looked at the square of toast on his plate and realized that instead of cinnamon, he’d dumped garlic powder on his bread. He’d taken a few nibbles, but his sad little face clearly stated the nastiness of his concoction.

    “It doesn’t taste very good, does it?” I asked him.

    His lip wobbled, and he shook his head ‘no.’

    Quickly I explained that he deserved to either have to eat his mistake or go without breakfast, but that I was going to give him what he didn’t deserve. Grace. And a new piece of buttered, crustless bread, with cinnamon on top.

    At five, I’m not sure Chunky can fully grasp the concept of grace. But I do know that he was incredibly glad that he didn’t have to eat his bread with garlic powder. The few bites he took were enough to temper the sweetness of defiance—and give him some pretty potent garlic breath.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    I Write Books--Duh!

    Later this week I will make the danger-fraught trip to Denver for the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference. Last year was the first time I attended, so this year I’m an old pro and not nervous at all. Yeah right, last week I tore all my clothes out of my closet, dumped them on my bed, and moaned myself into catatonia over the fact that I had nothing to wear.

    Then I went shopping. Don’t tell Kory.

    And then there’s my anxiety over the most important thing I’ll be presenting. No, not my shoes. My writing! This year I’ll be pitching (insert snigger here) two novels. Brandy and the Vine is about a Goth girl who struggles to fit into a new mold. And Flower in the Sky is about a young woman who discovers a house spirit living in her wall. Apparently, these concepts are edgy for CBA, that’s Christian Booksellers Association—at least I think that’s what it stands for. It could be Categorical Barnyard Assembly. Or Cat Bagger Attempts. Or Cardboard Brain Association.

    I digress.

    I intend to have a great time, despite my tendency to say really stupid things when asked “What do you write,” “Tell me about your novel,” and “Would you please hold the elevator?”

    If any of you live in Colorado and would like to pick up some great books AND get them signed by the authors, there will be a booksigning this Saturday. See info below.

    Wish me luck everybody!

    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Manners 2.0

    Little girls confuse me. True, I used to be one. But now I’m so surrounded by boy stuff that I’ve forgotten all but the basics of girlyness.

    1. I love shoes.
    2. I have so many words buzzing around in my head, and I feel I must use them ALL.
    3. Please, please, please, tell me I’m pretty.

    These fundamentals haven’t been of much use when I’m trying to figure out why girls the same age as my boys are so vastly different. I’m convinced girls come complete with a Manners 2.0 program. But with boys it takes forever to install.

    Not only do boys resist the Manners download, they actively sabotage the program—delighting in bodily functions, demanding things in monosyllabic grunts, and appearing stone deaf when told to apologize, say thank you, say hi, say anything at all.

    This week I was shocked to discover that one of my boys had added the Mind Your Manners book to the charity pile. I snapped a photo of their unexpected donation, took the book out of the box, and hauled the lot to the ARC drop-off site.



    Later I confronted my wrestling, burping, smelly boys about the incident. Chunky informed me that they no longer needed that book and that it was a baby book. Really? You’ve mastered the fine art of manners?

    I have a plan. I’m going to hang on to this book for a few years and when my boys are teenagers, I’m gonna pull it out when they so much as belch out of the corner of their mouths. At the dinner table, in front of friends, on prom night—I don’t care—you’re reading Elmo’s Mind Your Manners until the rules stick. I’m not above planting it in their dorm rooms.

    For those of you with girls, please go easy on us moms-of-boys. Not only are we mystified by the caveman natures of our little men, but slowly, we’re losing touch with our own inner fairy princesses. And if we should ever burp while out to lunch with you, forget to say please and thank-you, or appear in mismatched clothing and smelling of cheese, please present us with a copy of Mind Your Manners and gently guide us back to The Girly Side.

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