Seriously, Shut Up Already…

2013-01-29 09.05.47No, not you. I hope my headline didn’t offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Shhh. Come closer. I have a secret…Ready? “Shut up” is a bad word. So is “duh.” Shocked? According to my daughters both these words/phrase belong on the “do not say” list. Unfortunately, for my brain and mouth especially on the that first one, I forget its status as a bad word regularly.

I understand these words can be disrespectful and down-right rude, but sometimes a good, loud, “shut up” is called for and no other words will do the trick. This is almost surely the case when a migraine has plagued me for two days and the shrill, screeching, screaming of two young girls pierces through my temples and makes me want to hide under the bed. My repeated, “please be quiet,” goes unheard.

“Do you know what quiet means?” I’ll ask forlorn. No response comes from the loud ones that don’t stop talking ever. “It means no talking, humming, singing, chatting, tapping, laughing, giggling or making noises of any kind.” Both nod their heads in understanding. Still seconds later bickering, squabbling and squealing start back up. This is where the good “shut up” comes into play and can procure the desired silence I crave. Stunned looks creep across their faces as one will whisper, “Well, you don’t have to yell,” and the other will point out that “shut up” is a bad word.

How these random words became stigmatized as “bad” I do not know. My youngest is curious about various bad words and gestures.

“Why is my middle finger bad?” she asks.

“It just is,” I tell her.

“But why? What does it mean?”

“The same thing as the f-word.”

“What’s the f-word?”

“Something not nice,” I evade.

“Who made it bad?” she continues to question.

“I don’t know.” My headache starts to get worse.

“What happens if I stick my middle finger up?”

“Just don’t, OK?”

“But why…”

It’s at this point in the conversation, I truly want to scream, “shut up already,” but self-control restrains me. So I change tactics…

“Who wants ice cream?”

The excited squeals from the backseat surely cause hearing damage, but at least the 20 questions have stopped as I put my blinker on and turn into the DQ.

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Red Rover, Red Rover…

a-to-z-letters-rDoes anyone remember that asinine game, called Red Rover? It seemed all my gym teachers loved to torture us, I mean, force us, I mean, let us play this game as a special “treat.” Oh sure, some kids that got all excited and couldn’t wait to play. Me, not so much. And to up the fun even more, the teacher couldn’t just let us count off to get the two teams, she had to do the whole “captain” thing. Inevitably I’d be picked last or close to it, which really didn’t bother me all that much, as I was hoping not to be picked at all.

Once the teams assembled, I tried to get on the end of the line. Being the skinny, geeky kid, the other side always ran toward my arms. At first I’d try to hold tight so the opposing runner couldn’t break through my arms, but quickly realized it was better to just let go and avoid getting my arm broken. And in the off-chance, the other team actually chanted, “Red Rover, Red Rover send ‘Shar’ right over,” dread filled me as I ran over and get stopped every time:( I wonder who even made that dumb game up. My daughter tells me they still play this disturbing game at her school too. Luckily she’s a bit more athletic than I am.  Why, I have no idea. It’s not even remotely fun.

Next to math, phys ed was my least favorite subject. Maybe if I’d put more effort into it back then, I’d be better at exercising now, though. I mean I want to look good and be healthy, but when I try to exercise, something always thwarts my attempts. Recently I started a running program (those that know me can stop laughing now). I got this app called the Couch to 5K. You alternate walking and running until you can run 5 kilometers. I downloaded it to my iPhone. It’s really pretty sweet in that it tracks your route, speed and tells you when to walk, when to jog and most importantly when to stop!

The first time I tried it out, the girls wanted to come along. About half way through and a mile from home, my youngest stopped dead right in front of me during a jog segment. I couldn’t stop and ended up tripping over her and landing on top of her. She scraped her leg and I banged up my knee. I ended up carrying her home. Day 2 went without a hitch, but on Day 3 the app crashed in the middle of my workout and I lost all my data. Then today when I tried again my iPhone died. So much for the tracking data. On the upside, I know I did better today and wasn’t quite as winded when I made it home. Maybe I’ll actually run a 5K someday. We’ll see…

 

QWERTY Queen

a-to-z-letters-qAccording to Wikipedia, Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper editor and printer, invented my beloved QWERTY keyboard. His basic 1878 design still graces the majority of keyboards and touch-pads today. That’s pretty amazing if you think about it! He sequenced the letters on the keys so the typist must alternate hands when typing words. This  speeds up the typist as well as prevents jams in the original typewriters when two letters next to each were pressed too quickly.
2013-04-19 20.12.42 (2)I can remember play “typing” on my dad’s old type writer and jamming the metal arms when I rapidly pressed the keys as I pretended to be a writer. In high school I took a typing class and actually learned how to type without causing a pile-up on the type writer. Not to age myself too much, but I learned on an “electronic” type writer that actually had correction fluid built-in. I have to say for all practical purposes and real life uses, this was one of the best classes I ever took. I use my typing skills everyday of my life. I did a quick typing test and came out at 46 words per minute. Not too shabby.

I didn’t move to a computer until my first year in college. Computers and word processing programs made my life as a budding typist and writer even better as now I didn’t have to start over because I wasn’t paying attention and typed off the edge of the page or made a mistake. Cut and Paste and the Backspace key are my heroes.

I  now do all my writing on a little netbook. The keyboard fits my hands and fingers perfectly. While I do use my smart phone for quick emails, I’m nowhere near as fast touch-typing. I’m awed watching kids quickly type out texts and Facebook statuses with their thumbs or index fingers. I’ve heard some schools have even stopped teaching keyboard. That makes me so sad. I’ve thought about moving to a tablet, but I know I couldn’t live without my QWERTY keyboard.

What about you? Do “hunt and peck” or do your fingers know where to find the letters on the keyboard seemingly on auto-pilot?

Poof! Problems Be Gone!

a-to-z-letters-pWhen the crazies take over my children and I’m about to lose it myself, I need a time out. While my kids burst into tears in anticipation of a dreaded time-out, I beg for one. Please, please, please send me to my room for the rest of the night! No television or video games for the rest of the week? All right! Grounded for a month? Bring it on! Go ahead and punish me:)

Actually instead of the typical scenario where I end up screaming at the kids and feeling horrible about losing my temper later, I’ve taken to giving myself a time-out to just take a deep breath and step away until I can get my emotions under control again. A couple weeks ago my youngest flipped out at dance class because her tap shoes hurt her feet. We tried on various pairs of used taps for sale at the dance studio, but none would suffice. She started throwing a huge tantrum and all the other mom’s were staring at us. I gave my daughter a choice of either wearing the taps she had and participating in her class or putting her tennis shoes back on so we could home. She flipped out even more and lay in the middle of the floor screaming about how she needed new shoes.

After trying to unsuccessfully reason with her (there was no where nearby that sold new tap shoes and class started ten mintues ago) I felt ready to explode. I told her I needed a time-out and went outside to sit on the steps. A few minutes later both daughters joined me outside. The tantrum-thrower still going at it in full force. I sent my oldest back inside to get her shoes and we walked to the car. She still wouldn’t put her shoes on so she walked in her stocking feet, sobbing about need new taps all the way.

The next week with tap shoes that fit perfectly she happily danced with her class. One of the women that worked at the dance studio told me that she admired how I’d handled the tap-shoe situation last week. She said instead of walking out she probably would have hauled her into the bathroom for a spanking. The thought did cross my mind briefly. I felt proud of myself though for not losing my cool.

Everyone needs time to chill out when problems seem overwhelming. Emotions get the best of us at one time or another. My girls especially get caught up in all-consuming dramas when things don’t go their way. About a month ago we created a “peace corner” AKA “Australia” in our living room. We named it “Australia” as that’s what my youngest’s kindergarten teacher named a similar corner in her classroom. I’m not sure why they call it “Australia,” but I’m guessing it has to do with Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you’ve never read the book, the main character has a really bad day and after each bad thing that happens to him, he wants to run away to Australia.

Australia
Australia

Our “Australia” peace corner has bean bag chairs, pillows, stuffed animals, an iPod player with ear buds, a little water fountain, books, markers, papers and other quiet items in it. Now when one of the girls gets upset, they go chill to Australia until they calm themselves down. The new rule is if you’re crying and sobbing and carrying on about how unfair the world is or because you touched something that might make you sick, then you have to be in the peace corner. For the most part, the peace corner’s doing its job. We’ve had one or two incidents where both girls wanted to be in Australia at the same time and one morning where my youngest got mad and threw the bean bag chair across the room.  All in all though, the girls enjoy chilling out and regrouping in their safe, chill-out corner. Peace out!

 

Ordinary Obsessions

a-to-z-letters-oI obsess about overcoming the obstinate obstacles that obscure my dreams. Not really, but it sounds goods on this fifteenth day of the A to Z blog challenge, which features none other than the letter “O.”

Actually I don’t really have an obsessive personality type. OK, well maybe just a teeny bit. When I was in high school and college I religiously followed the Bowling Green State University Falcon’s Men’s Basketball team. For a period of eight to ten years I attended almost every home game. I liked to get there early so I could get my peanut M&M’s and my usually seat five rows up to the right of half court in the student section. If I didn’t go through this ritual I was convinced the team would lose. Now, its debatable whether that makes me obsessed or just a really, loyal fan not wanting to jinx the team.

Along the lines of loyal fan, I do get hooked on certain television shows and book series. I read the first six of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series in less than two weeks and did the same with Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series when I first got my Kindle. If the next book is out there, I want to read it! I also watched the first four seasons of Lost in about a month so I was caught up in time for the new season to start. I did the same thing this past December with Downton Abbey. Again, I like to think of myself as more quirky than obsessed.

I do also have a tendency to sit in the same spot at church and in meetings, but I think that is more of a habit than an obsession. Of course, I do check to make sure the doors are locked and the flat iron is off before I leave the house – but only once. This just makes me practical.There’s a fine line between obsessed and paranoid!

Some of you may remember reading about my youngest daughter’s obsessive tendencies in my “Oreo” post. Her symptoms continued to get worse and worse and I ended up taking her to see the doctor. He felt she was exhibiting obsessive-compulsive disorder signs and referred us to a behavior therapist. I started thinking back over when she started to get so upset about touching items that might have germs (that could make her sick) and realized it was about the same time her allergy medication Singulair went generic.

As a good Mom would, I googled the drug and found out that it can cause agitation and anxiety. The doctor agreed that it’d be best to take her off the drug. She hasn’t taken it in a little over a month. Whether or not it was the cause of her OCD issues or her two sessions with the therapist helped, she’s improving. She hasn’t cried about going to school for three days in a row and she only asks me 20 times instead of a hundred times if something is going to make her sick. I see hope. While I may joke about my obsessions, OCD is not funny in the least bit. My daughter’s fears are very real and it breaks my heart to see her so afraid. I want to reassure her, but realize that just feeds her fears and make her crave more reassurances. I’m hopeful though, getting her to school without tears has been a huge hurdle. I’m thankful for that (and am by no means obsessing that my anxiety feeds into hers.)

Anyone else have any similar experiences with Singulair or a child with OCD?

Nasty Naysayers Beware

a-to-z-letters-nI’m my biggest critic. Neurotic thoughts often swirl with negativity when I think about myself -when I think about where I am now and where I want to be. The gap between my ideal “me” and the real “me” is wide. For me, writing is personal; my words are part of who I am. While my need for external validation is strong, I know that successful writers learn to tune out the naysayers and the haters.They set aside the rejections and move on.

Fear kept me from putting my words out there in the past; that fear of rejection and not being good enough. Yes, I write for myself, but the smile that comes with a positive comment or a great review of one my books is addictive. I indie-published two romance novels over that last year. I didn’t even try the traditional publishing route. For one I hate waiting and for another I didn’t want rejection to discourage me from my dreams. I did a lot of research before going the self-publishing route. I corresponded with and read the blogs of many romance authors who ditched their traditional contracts and re-published their back lists via self-publishing. These authors were succeeding and making more money than they had with their traditional contracts.  So in the end I decided in this new age of electronic books that I could reach more readers quicker as an indie author.Yet, still nagging the back of my mind  was the thought that I wouldn’t be a real “author” unless a traditional publisher published my books.

This notion led me to enter my first novel in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award – the winner of which would get a publishing contract with one of Amazon’s publishing imprints for romances, it’s Montlake. You have no idea how elated I was when I found my “pitch” made the cut and my excerpt would be read by expert Amazon reviewers. A month later I read two glowing reviews from those experts and moved on to the quarter-finals. Out of 10,000 entries only 500 remained. I started to feel like a “real” author. I knew my chances of making the semi-finals was slim. Only 25 entries moved on to the next level and only five in the romance category. What excited me though was that a Publisher’s Weekly (PW) reviewer would read my entire novel and provide feedback.

This morning Amazon announced the semi-finalists. My book did not make the grade. Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with that fact. I’m not complaining (much). What I wasn’t prepared for though, given the fact that my first-round comments were so positive and the majority of reviews from my readers were complimentary, was the harsh, borderline-nasty review my book received. I know the PW reviewer gave what he or she thought to be an honest critique, but it felt mean. I write contemporary romance, not suspense or erotica. Yet, the reviewer bashed the book for being too “unexciting and slow-paced” and for not having enough sex in it, saying it was more “sad than sexy.”  I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t going for sexy.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. If anything, it made me realize I am a real author regardless of whether I have a traditional publishing contract or not. Being an indie author gives me the flexibility and control over what I write and when that I need. It also taught me that not everyone will like my books and that’s OK. Its find for someone to write a negative review so long as they aren’t nasty about it.

Mathematical Genius (Not!)

a-to-z-letters-mThe thought of quadratic equations, cosines, square roots, exponents, proofs and all that other numeric nonsense makes me queasy.  So does fifth grade math homework. I can’t remember how to find the common denominator let alone the median or the mean. If it weren’t for Google and a sister who does have a mathematical mind (she majored in accounting – the very thought of which gives me chills) my daughter would flounder with her math homework alone. Luckily her teacher also has a policy that if my daughter tries to do the homework and her parents aren’t able to help out (and my sister isn’t home!) all I have to do is sign next to the problem and all is good. I have to admit I’ve had to sign off a few times.

To be fair, I don’t think it’s all my fault. I mean the directions on those worksheets are pretty vague and I really think they’re changing the math rules on me somehow as I don’t remember solving problems the same way when I was a kid and definitely not in fifth grade. I shudder at the thought of high school math homework! If I had my way they’d ban math from schools along with physical education (but that’s another blog post).

OK, banning math may be going a little too far. After all certain mathematical knowledge is quite useful. So I propose that schools stop teaching all that high brow math (unless the kid wants to be a mathematician someday) that I have NEVER used since I learned it in high school and college and then promptly forgot as soon as I took the final exam and instead focus on real-life math. 

Here’s an English major’s idea of a good, real-life math curriculum.

  • Basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division – These are the foundations of math and I concede that we must know them inside and out.
  • Percents – We also need to know how to figure out how much money you need if the cute shoes you want to buy are regularly $79.00 and are on sale for 20% off. To make it more complex, throw in figuring sales tax at 7.5%. Another good one is how to figure out the tip when you go out to eat or get your nails done. I use this math all the time!
  • Basic Measurements – Accurate measurements are important so that when you order new carpet for the bedroom, there’s enough to cover the entire floor! It’s also important if you want to rearrange your furniture. You want to know the couch is going to fit on the opposite wall without blocking the door before you move it there!
  • Time, Distance and Estimates –  When my alarm clock rings, I need to know that  if my office is 30 miles away from home and I drive an average of 60 miles per hour will I make it for an 8:00 AM meeting if I leave  at 7:40 AM? Not when two trains going opposite directions are going to meet! Come on, that extra ten minutes of sleep is essential.
  • Fractions and Decimals – While not my favorite mathematical concepts, I’ve found knowing about fractions to be very helpful especially when my recipe calls for 3/4 of a cup of flour and I can only find my 1/4 measuring cup.
  • Money Matters – I wish I’d learned more about interest rates on loans and credit cards, how to budget and how to save and invest when I was in school instead of how to balance an equation. You could even include how to balance your check book for extra credit! My financial status today would be much better if I had.

I’m sure other math concepts are important and essential to our everyday life as well, but my word-based mind is starting to get weary thinking about all this numeric junk. If you can think of anymore, please share them in the comments below!