That's what one of my library board members just said before handing me a box containing these:
I AM IN TOTAL MELTDOWN SQUEEMODE.
Like, I am FREAKING. OUT.Add a Comment
That's what one of my library board members just said before handing me a box containing these:
I AM IN TOTAL MELTDOWN SQUEEMODE.
Like, I am FREAKING. OUT.Add a Comment
I have been a good errand runner for many years. I have never minded getting those “things” that need to be got. However, the situation can be comical. Early in our marriage, I learned brand preference – often taking a boxtop as a crutch to make sure. Everything changed after our first daughter was born and the new mama needed something different. My mind isn’t programmed for different.
There I stood looking at an infinite wall of products with no idea what to purchase. I am sure she had given me instructions, but I had no purchase history, no boxtop, no clue. The wall got bigger and bigger while I shrunk into a puddle of indecision.
Until I was rescued by a wonderfully kind, large woman who took pity on me.
“You need some help, honey?” she asked.
“Well, yes, is it that obvious?” I stammered.
“It sure is. What’s the problem?”
“Well, I need to get something for my wife. We just had a baby.”
Her angelic face lit up with joy, “Oh, sweety! How wonderful! Is it a boy or a girl?”
“We had a little girl,” I replied proudly as I dug a picture out to show her.
“She’s just beautiful,” she said. And as if she suddenly plugged into an amplifier, her voice boomed throughout the store while I shrunk even smaller. “WHAT YOU NEED IS NIGHT TIME EXTRA-ABSORBANT…..”
I’ve forgotten whatever else she said. It went on for some time, I think. I will forever appreciate her help, but I have no idea why she had to tell everyone in a five mile radius of the store what I was shopping for. She was spot on with her advice, though.
I was only twenty-eight then. Why it mattered I don’t know. I couldn’t care less now. I have had to do a great deal of shopping lately – and with a wife and three teenage daughters, yes, I have purchased quite a few of those types of products. I don’t flinch anymore. In fact, I like to check out wherever a young boy is working give him to he stink-eye as he handles the carton. I have made more than one blush.
Better yet, when I come home I have even more fun by announcing, “I got your feminine hygiene products.” There is never a “daddy’s home!” parade for that proclamation. No one comes running. They don’t want to hear that from their father. So I deliver them personally to their rooms and make the announcement individually. Lots of rolled eyes and groans.
I don’t mind buying that stuff anymore, but I do have one regret. With four daughters, why didn’t I have the forethought to invest in that stock? If I had done that, I truly would be the King of Feminine Hygiene!
I know. I’m sorry. This will be one of those “too much information” posts but I have to get this off my chest – it’s part of who I am now and always will be.
It’s been one year since my last period.
Yep. It’s official – I’m menopausal.
I can’t say I miss it, though the “side effects” of being menopausal is something I’ve been getting used to. I sweat – CONSTANTLY. Nearly all the time, if you want the truth. I should invest in stock in fan companies because I’ve given them so much of my business these past few months it’s insane. I have a fan in my clinic “pod,” a fan at my “pit” desk, a fan on my desk at home and I can’t BE in a room in our house without the ceiling fan on and circulating precious air.
The number of hotflashes I have on a daily basis … well, I’ve stopped counting. There are simply too many. They are craziest things – it starts in my back – it feels like someone has poured gasoline on my back and lit a match – my back just suddenly heats up and SWOOSH – I’m on FIRE. The heat consumes my entire body and before long, I have a sweat mustache and the roots of my hair become damp. I’ve sweated so much during clinic at work that I’ve sweat THROUGH my scrubs: I have to wear a cami under my scrub top when I’m in clinic because it’s become such an issue. Which only makes me more nervous and makes my hot flashes even more severe.
It’s a vicious cycle.
I’ve gotten pudgy. Granted, I haven’t been exercising lately (I’ve gotten back to it lately because I can’t stand the sight of my pudgy self in the mirror anymore) and though I know that some of that pudginess is from inactivity, some of it is also due to the changes my body is going through.
I have bitchy moments, but honestly, I think I have less of those moments now than when I was still having periods. My moods don’t seem AS crazy as they used to be.
I’m tired – all the time. But again, that could be largely due to the fact that I’ve been a slug lately. I’m working on that. Kevin and I also switch sleeping arrangements every week – I sleep on his office futon, he sleeps in our bed for one week, and then we switch. Whenever I sleep on the futon, I flop around like a fish (hence one of the reasons we don’t sleep together). I can never get comfortable and I think one of the reasons I’m tired all the time is because I’m not sleeping that well at night. Which is another weird thing for me – I used to sleep like a baby before the menopausal “period.” Now? Not so much.
So. Are all of these “side effects” worth not having a period every month??
I don’t miss them, at all. It’s such a relief not to have to worry if I’m going to bleed through my pants whenever we’re out somewhere, or out in the middle of somewhere strange whenever we go on vacation. It’s SUCH A RELIEF not to have to worry about having enough female supplies on hand whenever I go out or get physically weak because I’ve bled a kidney, or two, during one cycle.
I’ve been taking supplements to try and help with the hot flashes and I think they’ve worked, for the most part. My GYNO doctor wanted to put me on a hormone regiment but I said no. I’m going to try the natural route for as long as I can. I’ve read too many horror stories about side effects from medications.
So yep. I can no longer have babies. It’s weird to think of it like that and though I was initially sad when the change started happening, I’ve accepted it and am now even relieved to have gone through it, quite honestly.
Again, I apologize for the personal insight to my bodily functions but hey – it’s just another one of those natural things that happens to most women. We might as well stop pretending that it doesn’t.
On the afternoon of March 20th I was sitting in traffic happily planning my packing strategy for the beach vacation we were leaving for the next day. Out of the blue, I got the urge to check my email. I hardly ever check email behind the wheel but this time I did. As I scrolled through the list of senders one name stood out. I looked at it and thought, "mmm how do I know that name?" Then I read the first line of the email: "Dear Ms. Uhles, I am the senior designer for Sleeping Bear Press and we have a manuscript we think your work would be perfect for…."
My ears started ringing. Everything else faded to stillness except for the phone in my hand. Traffic started to inch forward. I clicked on the email. Somehow I managed not to drive into a guardrail as I skimmed the message.
There it was, my first offer to illustrate a trade picture book.
Behind that moment lies a patchwork of years of learning and hours of work, all of it held together by one tiny thread of faith that eventually my art, my vision, my characters, my imagination would be seen as trade quality. For this post I considered writing more about starting over and over again after rejections to numerous to count*. But that gets pretty maudlin. Let's just say for the record it's been a long and winding road as I wrote here, here and especially here.
Instead let's talk about the fun stuff!
The name of the book is The Little Kid's Table, by Mary Ann McCabe Reihle. In this wacky rhyming story when the family gathers for a big celebratory meal, those sitting at the kid's table may not eat a lot of broccoli casserole but they do have the best ideas about what to do with spoons and a Labradoodle. As is usual with trade publishing I'm working with the editors and art directors and will have little contact with the author.
Why am I excited about trade when I've already illustrated books for educational and religious publishers? Well for starters I didn't dream about doing art for those books when I was kid. I dreamed about making books like the ones in my mom's library. And this time its my vision that gets to bring the story to life, not a preordained set of curriculum. Plus I get almost a whole year to work on it! I get to make up what I think the characters should look like! I get to put into practice all the stuff I've learned about about story-telling over 32 pages. I'll introduce the characters little by little on the blog as they are approved. For now I'll leave you with a photo of something that makes me very happy. Yes that IS my name in purple ink:
A quite lively discussion has blown in from space on a friends Face-postcard about something I forgot because it went a completely different way in short order and is now a history lesson on indigenous peoples.
It was said the “Native “”American”” people” were here first and that they claim to be “Indigenous” and that they have their traditional stories to back up their claim to properties etc.
That got me to thinking (usually leads to minor disasters) that just because someone in your past lived some place and told creation stories doesn’t always mean you have any more rights than the guy who was born there after you lost the battle, in my case way after.
I know, growing up, my mother used to tell me, when I asked how I got here that I came from heaven and perhaps, if I’m a good boy, God will give me land there again though I think he may balk at the casino I want to build even if it is to take all the sinner’s money or credits or what ever the currency of his realm is.
And further more if in the past there was only one super continent, Pangaea or what ever they really called it, then we all have a claim to everywhere cause we are all descendants of the original inhabitants and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut there aint anywho who can tell me where they thought they came from even after the break up.
I thought perhaps we are all from Mars via the Pleiades star system but had to leave cause the Marshonians wanted the place back so we moved on as they had come from the Hercules system to Mars first.
To send every one back to where they came from is stupid, you can’t fit that many people on Ellis Island let alone grow enough hemp there to have a trade economy with New York.
I don’t know the answer other than if we don’t start being natives from “EARTH” the little grey men will boot us out and wipe out the myths of our origins from then to eternity.
Josh has just informed me that he wants to make Pegasus Airlines barf bags to package it in.
Good times.Add a Comment
My girls have grown accustomed to it, but their friends constantly remark on my maturity level, which isn’t high. My personal favorite was a comment from a friend of the eldest, who said, “Your dad is like, 7!” Very true. So with all of the time we are spending at the hospital now, I have developed a list of things my childish mind WANTS to do.
1. Every day we walk past a sleep study area to get to our room. I yearn to yell, beat on the walls, and bang pots and pans to wake everyone up.
2. My daughter has a bright-red diode sometimes hooked to her finger that measures her blood oxygen level. I am literally dying to turn the lights off and stick it in my nose and play Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. She has told me in no uncertain terms that this is unacceptable and her word is law right now.
3. I want to drape a stethoscope around my neck and diagnose someone. I don’t really want to barge into a room and play doctor. I just want to find someone, take their vital signs, and prescribe rest and that they lose five pounds before I ask for my co-pay.
4. There are so many things to ride around her that it is killing me. With the wide halls and automatic doors, an epic race seems in order. I picture it a little bit like Mario Kart.
5. I want to run out of our room and yell something like, “Code Blue! Stat!” I don’t know what would happen, but everyone seems to fly into a dither on TV.
6. Get a lab coat and join the doctors on their rounds. I could be some travelling expert from Albania and mutter things that make no sense when it is my turn to examine the patient.
I haven’t done any of these things yet. Every time I get a 7 year-old notion, my 46 year-old mind overrules it. Thus far. While this wonderful place heals the sick, there is no hope of them helping me, the incurably immature.
Add a Comment
Me: *bursts into tears*
Josh: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOU?
Me: I DON'T KNOOOOOW, THEY'RE JUST SO AWESOME AND THEY'RE MAKING ME HAPPY.
Josh: I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOUR BRAIN.
Finished up Mafia Girl (mixed feelings), moved on to The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (which I loved so much that I'm going to order her other books, STAT), and am now moving on to Loki's Wolves.
I LOVE TODAY.
_________________________________________Add a Comment
It's in your head now, too, isn't it?
It's cold and gloomy and all I feel like doing is reading, SO THAT'S WHAT I'M GOING TO DO ALL WEEKEND. (My weekends are Sunday-Monday).
I woke up and immediately blew through Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando's Roomies. Which, love.
Next on deck is Deborah Blumenthal's Mafia Girl.
But first I'm going to make some popcorn.
MORE BULLETINS AS EVENTS WARRANT! (And feel free to join in.)Add a Comment
After days of downtime*, it looks like Typepad is back up and running, which means that so is yours truly (and Gwenda!).
So, thanks all, for your patience and concerned emails.
HUGS ALL AROUND!
(Well, except to the jerks who caused all of the problems in the first place. Yeesh.)
*They were hit by some massive DDoS attacks starting last week.Add a Comment
Oh, man. It's going to be a gory spring.Add a Comment
Yesterday was one of those days. It is beyond my man-sized mind how everything fit together. I had nothing to do with its success or organization. But like a giant fuel-guzzling puzzle, the last piece set in perfectly about nine o’clock. Until then, my family ranged in different directions all across the metro area. The amazing thing is that the MTC (Mom-Traffic Controller) was absent for a good portion of it.
I had business on the other side of the city that kept me away until most of the flights were filed and done. If you know Atlanta traffic, you know that being on the other side of it on a weekday means that, while only thirty miles away, I may as well have been in Guatemala in case of an emergency. Sometimes, there is just no getting home. But the MTC needed me not.
The Grandaddy taxi (my kids’ favorite ride because it often stops for a milkshake) had a few trips, she called in a favor from another middle-school parent, my nephew’s girlfriend made a pick-up, and I think there were two dog sleds and a rickshaw involved. Of course, this day involved multiple after school activities for every child that required extra commutes. Here is where I think the MTC was just showing off – she drove an hour north of the city on a college visit and took the only other driver of the house with her. So she wasn’t even around to oversee her masterpiece!
Through some mystery of mother magic, everything worked out. I counted two children when I got home and the other two trudged through the door soon after. They looked haggard but familiar, so I’m fairly certain they are mine.
Men, lest you think you could handle this task, let me recount for you my experience on Saturday (Car Day). I had one assigned job, ONE: pick up dancer daughter at 12:30. The brakes took a little longer than expected, but I finished and went inside to wipe the grime off of my fingertips so I could handle food. While at the sink, my phone lit up with a missed text. Instantly, I had that “Oh Crap!” moment when I saw the digital readout. You guessed it, 12:40. I forgot my one job, along with my daughter who sat waiting twenty minutes away. The forgotten child’s next text went to the MTC, who was at a play. I had planned to bribe my daughter’s silence with ice cream. But on the frantic trip to get her, I received from the MTC saying, “Nice job, Dad.” Exposed.
So, all hail the MTC! I don’t know where you received your degree in family flight management, but the entire (and somehow intact) family is glad you have it!
Every night I lie awake doing the math. In the next six weeks, I need to:
- Write 70K words. This is what is stressing me out the most. I can't skip a single day of writing.
- Try to read someone's book to blurb
- Go to Missouri and do several days of school visits
- Go to the Houston Teen Book Con
- Write two articles (one may be emotionally wrenching)
- Celebrate my birthday
- Drive five hours to my home town for two days of school visits and a presentation at B&N
- Walk through the house where I grew up and where my mom died and say goodbye because it just got sold
- Finish paying my taxes and set up an IRA SEP
- Speak at a benefit for low-income housing
And a few other things.
I just tell myself something Laini Taylor did once. That there is a future me and she has done it.
Passing over the bridge to the park Saturday, I heard laughter mixed with threats from the creek below. It took a few steps to get a view of the action between the dense limbs forming a canopy above the slow moving water. But what I saw brought an instant smile to my face: a real, knockdown, drag-out mudfight.
Four shirtless combatants
No distinct sides or teams
Eight handfuls of muck and sludge, ducking, slinging, flailing away.
Goo and gunk flying in every direction.
Filthy joy pigs would be proud of.
The Holy Trinity of Boys – Filth in all three forms: Dirt, Mud, & Dust
One Mom – a lax referee, sat on the bank chuckling along. I wanted to take a picture of the fun, but was afraid to be labelled some sort of park whacko. So I just watched, a little jealous of them, wondering if I could have been as cool a parent to sons. Would I let my boys get that dirty, despite the inconvenience of taking them home? Or if I had boys, would I be more worried about the cleanliness, my car seats, and the waste of time?
(Nah, I’m pretty sure my shirt would have been on the bank with theirs…but who knows.)
I don’t know who you are, lady. All I know is; you are the official Mother of the Weekend. You get no award besides the joy you allowed your boys. But that’s enough.
Josh: *sad sigh* There's not a Girls of Hart of Dixie calendar available on Amazon.
Me: *side eye*
Josh: What? I want one!
Me: *side eye*
Josh: WHAT? As if you wouldn't want a Hot Neighbor Wade calendar.
Me: Okay, you're totally right about the Hot Neighbor Wade calendar. But I'm still totally judging you right now. ALSO, IT'S MARCH.
Long story short, I AM SO HAPPY THAT OUR INTERNET IS FIXED AND THAT WE CAN GET ALL CAUGHT UP ON OUR SHOWS.Add a Comment
One of the issues we need to consider as business owners is how to bring in money when we are sick and incapacitated in some way. In South Africa, many employers provide insurance that allows you to be paid your salary/a portion of it while you're on medical leave. We also have an unemployment fund, from which one can claim during the time that they are incapacitated. However, as small businessAdd a Comment
Long time no see.
I've been radio silent while dealing with my annual bout of Winter Malaise—which seems to get worse every year, maybe I should buy one of those full-spectrum lights or something?—but I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. And by "feel like myself", I mean that I'm finally wanting to blather on about books and, like, INTERACT WITH HUMANITY, and just generally do stuff other than play Gnomoria* and Kingdom of Loathing while drinking endless cups of tea and re-watching Next Gen.
But until I manage to get Totally Motivated, just so you know, I AM STILL ALIVE, and will be getting back to posting regularly very soon.
Annnnnnd I just looked outside and it's snowing again.
*HOLY COW I LOVE IT SO MUCH AND I REALLY CAN'T STOP.
Josh: How are your gnomes doing? Did your yaks run away again?
Me: Pretty good! I've even got some emus and alpacas now, and they're all just trucking along. No one's even died y— ...OH MY GOD HOW DID ALL OF THOSE GOBLINS JUST GET INTO MY FORTRESS THEY'RE PUNCHING MY YAK AND STEALING MY STUFF WHAT THE HELL WHERE DID THAT MANT COME FROM!?!??!?!
Josh: I am judging you so hard right now.Add a Comment
After coming home from a service trip to Swaziland a few years ago, I felt renewed, energetic and ready to go again. It wasn’t your average mission trip, we worked hard to prepare a home for abandoned infants, which is a big problem there. I loved every minute of it and started dreaming about another place to go.
You see, I like to build stuff. I’ve been doing it for years and have built almost all of the wood furniture in our house. I’ve finished rooms, our basement, and done some pretty big construction tasks over the years. I even got to build this table that now sits at the missionary house in Heart for Africa. I like to think it will be useful for a good purpose long after I am.
I’m not the guy who is going to go door-to-door or perform street theater – but I’ll pour concrete, remove debris, or swing a hammer. It is wonderful when God marries a talent with a need and grants the ability to go somewhere to serve. When Sudan and South Sudan were splitting apart, I got burdened for the people of South Sudan and wanted to go. That got me started trolling for an opportunity and I found a cool mission group who work with an orphanage there.
I contacted a very nice lady name Rose. Several emails and a few calls later, I learned of a trip with building men like me that was perfect and I began praying about it. I emailed one last question to Rose from my iPad – “Is South Sudan a yellow fever area? Swaziland isn’t and I don’t have that sh-t.”
Whatever I typed, the glorious auto-correct feature from Apple naturally assumed I needed to discuss feces and not an inoculation. I didn’t notice until I got her response and read what I had sent. My mind went into overdrive:
Did I really send that??? To a missionary?? Why yes, yes I did!
Is there a commandment about that? Something about a special place in hell for people who cuss at missionaries?
I thought I should probably let it go, but didn’t want to be ostracized from the trip. So I sent an apology saying, “Obviously, I meant shot.”
I loved her response, “HaHa. I know, I got a snarky giggle out of it.”
Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to instability in the country. I’d still love to go there and other places to lend a hand. In the meantime, I’ll watch my words more closely and try to handle surprises that come my way with Rose’s grace and understanding.
Has God married a talent of yours with a need? I’d love to hear about it.
Night flowers I'm planning to watch unfold Sometimes you have to work hours or in locations that are less than your ideal, and your work has to fit around your life issues.Today is one of those days for me. In general, I do better, am happier when I have a routine. I know, I know. Dull, isn't it? But I've come to terms with the fact that I write/work better when there is no drama except theAdd a Comment
This weekend I’m celebrating a milestone. Two years ago I began running on the steps in front of my local courthouse. In these two years I’ve run up and down about 2,000,000 steps – between 3,400 and 5,600 steps per day, depending on how I feel and what the weather is like. On my 53rd birthday in October I challenged myself to run 10,000 steps. I did it in one hour and 38 minutes!
Running steps more than anything is meditative. I walk about a half mile from my house to the courthouse, through my alley and down a semi-busy street. I watch the sun rise every morning, listen to the birds chirping, often flying overhead. I pass by morning glories opening and alley cats that scamper as I approach. I arrive at the courthouse while no one else is there, except for the security guards. I count the number of laps I do up and down, which I like to call “innings.” I don’t really focus on counting, it just happens naturally and keeps my mind light and free.
I live in Miami, so it’s hot here – really, really hot and humid. That adds to the challenge of keeping up my energy. But it also allows for a really good sweat, providing that feeling that I’ve sweat out the toxins and have accomplished something worthwhile. It may sound crazy, but the hard work is worth the euphoric feeling you get when you’re finished. I leave with happy, positive thoughts. Running the steps is free. No club membership! Plus it doesn’t take much time – about 45-minutes of time from start to finish.
I run barefoot because shoes cause injury to my feet and knees. Here I am running the Rocky Steps in Philly.
When I was a child I was always the last one chosen for sports teams whether at school or at play. I wasn’t an athlete; in fact I couldn’t hit a volleyball over a net, hit a baseball or golf well. But as I got older I realized that not being athletically inclined didn’t mean I had to be unfit. My father passed away when he was 40 from a heart attack and my mother had two forms of cancer suffering for 9 years before passing away at age 70. I can’t change my genetics, but I realized I could get and stay fit, eat right and do what I can to stay healthy. Thinking about my parents’ health challenges motivates me every day. I live by my motto, “Shut your pie hole and move your ass!”
In the beginning, running steps was really challenging. I was already doing aerobics for years at home, but running up and down steps is really a strenuous workout. It took a lot of self-talking to get up and out of the house early every morning. But then after a few months, gradually I began to look forward to going. Now I can best describe running as a habit. It’s sort of like getting up and brushing your teeth. You just do it. I do have sluggish days when I just don’t feel like running, but I go anyway. My husband calls those “bonus days,” because although your time may be slower or your step numbers may be lower, you went out there and did something on a day when you just didn’t feel like doing it.
A white layer cake I made to celebrate.
It’s wrong to label yourself in any negative way. “I’m not athletic,” “I’m too old,” “I’m uncoordinated” or “I don’t think I can or should do this or that.” Running has taught me that I can have as much energy as a 25-year-old, and that if I can stick to something athletic and challenging, then I can transfer that success to other areas of my life. The only boundaries are the ones we put on ourselves.
Add a Comment
The weekend was rough. We had electricity problems and were unconnected for more than 24 hours. It was not a loadshedding issue ( loadhshedding was not implemented in my area anyway). It was just a technical problem that was complicated by a techie who told the utility company that everything was fine on their end when they did in fact have a problem and it was affecting us. So I had toAdd a Comment
Central Phokeng, around 5kms from where I live One of the reasons I'm such a strong advocate for running your own business is that no one can retrench you. A client can fire you. A long term contract that provides the backbone of your business can expire.But hopefully, if such a thing happens, you made sure you have other clients who can take up the slack and you know where to go look forAdd a Comment