Once Upon a Fat Girl

Saturday, October 28, 2006

They Say it's Your Birthday...

It's my birthday, too--yeah.

All year my mind has been rebelling against the idea of turning 35. Kevin has to keep reminding me that I am (was) 34, not 33. I said "I'm 33...no 34..." so many times in the past year that it got more than a little embarassing.

Yesterday I ran into a girl I know at a thrift store. I got to snoogle her newborn baby. Her third baby. This girl? She was the flower girl in my first wedding. How's that for something to make you feel elderly?

I'm not sure what my mental block about 35 is. I'm not really upset about it (really.) Thirty-five doesn't feel half as old as it did ten years ago. Thirty-five isn't even middle aged, right? I've been reading a lot lately about generational sociology, and those pretty smart people list 35 as still a young adult for Christ's sake. I'm not old.

I am, however, going to my very favorite Mexican restuarant tonight. Alone with my husband. no kids. And they're all sleeping somewhere else tonight, even the baby, so I'm sleeping in tomorrow. I'm sleeping until I wake up on my own. No baby will wake me up tomorrow morning screeching for her Frosted Mini-wheats. No almost-teenager will wake me up wondering if he can go ride his scooter--at six a.m. The teenager never wakes me up, because she hardly gets her own bootie out of bed before nine.

Sweet sleep--the best birthday present in the world!

In other news, I did get my ass in gear this week and get my book out there on it's quest to find an agent. Anyone know an agent? Anyone?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I won!

So I opened this package that came in the mail today, and out spills a check for $25.00 and two packets of paper, each with a binder clip.

My first thought was to wrack my brain trying to remember if one of my paralegal clients owed me work and money. And then...THEN...I noticed it.

A Certificate of Merit to Shaunta Grimes for winning first prize in the Red River Romance Writers Ticket to Write contest.

I won! I freaking won first prize! My heart pounded, I jumped out of my seat and screamed and danced and shouted "I won! I won!!!" (Funny story...I can't type that without thinking about the time I was at sixth grade Girl Scout camp and, as I still do in unfamiliar beds, exhibited my amazing ability to yell inappropriate things in my sleep. This time it was "I won! I won! I won a donkey!" If you don't think that's inappropriate, try going back to age 12, being chubby and unpopular, and then shouting it in a cabin filled with girls who will bring it up over and over again until you're 16 and finally leave town. I can laugh about it now...)

So now tomorrow I get to rewrite my query letter with the words "My novel won first prize in the..." and the agents who get my letter will know that a publisher read my first thirty pages and thought they were the best. (The publisher that did the final round of judging was from Harlequin and I wasn't expecting a request for my novel, since it's not a Harlequin-type category romance.)

So now I'm officially a professional novelist right? I've been paid $25 for nine months worth of blood, sweat, tears, lack of sleep and shower Ah HA! moments. I am a novelist, damnit. An AWARD WINNING NOVELIST.

Right this minute, I feel like there isn't anything I can't do. What perfect timing too, since the next NaNoWriMo starts next Wednesday. Is anyone else participating?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Seeds of Change

Kevin said something to me yesterday morning that I can't shake. He lifted Ruby out of her crib just before he left for work and said, "I haven't picked her up in three days."

What the hell are we doing? Really. Kevin is working himself ragged at one full time and one three quarters time job. Wednesday through Saturday we see him for about ten minutes on his way out the door. When the big kids were in school, they didn't see him at all on those days. He leaves for work at 10 a.m. and comes home the next morning at 3 a.m., sleeps six hours and does it all again. He's so tired by his days off that he has to sleep most of the day. And he can't throw off his schedule, so he's awake while we're sleeping.

He's doing this so that we can get out of debt. But I just feel...it's such an enormous sacrifice...it has to mean something. It can't be just to get out of debt so that we can jump right back into it. If he were to do this until we were entirely out of debt, this would go on for at least another year. Until Ruby is three.

And then what?

I saw this piece on Nightline (I think...it was one of those primetime news shows) about families who sell everything and spend all their time traveling around the country in RVs, campers, converted buses, whatever. The family I saw calls themselves the Barenaked Family. They have stripped their lives down to the barenaked essentials.

Anyway, I watched this and I was jealous. That dad doesn't work 70 hour weeks. That family doesn't go days without eating together or seeing each other. They aren't all so exhausted and overwhelmed that they are at each other's throats every spare minute.

I want to do this. Maybe not long term, like this family. They've been doing it five years. But the idea of getting entirely out of debt and then, before we buy a house, spending a year traveling the country in an RV with Kevin and the kids is so hugely appealing. What an adventure! Besides, that way we could really decide where we want to live. The whole country would open up to us.

I remember when I was a reporter in Battle Mountain this family came through that was doing some sort of covered wagon pilgrimage. I loved the idea. I love thinking about meeting up with other traveling families and making friends all over the country. I love LOVE the idea of actually seeing Mount Rushmore, New York City, China Town, Vermont in the fall, the Kansas plains. The whole country.

The first thing I'd want to do is something that's been percolating in my brain for a while. My very favorite ride at Disneyland is Soaring Over California. I love that thing! I'm a native Californian, so it makes me feel a little nostalgic I guess. But mostly it's amazement at the diversity of California. Anyway--I'd LOVE to start in Southern California and go to all the places Soaring Over California shows. There's Yosemite, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Malibu, Palm Springs and a bunch of other places that I can't remember right now.

I'm all excited right now. Kevin is starting a two week vacation and I'm going to plant this seed with him. (um...hi Kevin...is the seed growing yet? LMAO)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mom...Hey Mom...What Kind of Scientist...

Nick had his first round of psycho-educational testing at the middle school Monday. He goes back this coming Monday. It went well, he did well. It's funny, but I don't think they are going to get an accurate idea of him and his behavior this way. There were half a dozen adults completely 100% focused on him. He ate it up, was the charming guy he is when there is no competition for attention. Throw one other kid in there and it would have been a totally different situation.

I've decided that I'm completely done with public school in Las Vegas. I might (or really, might not) try it in Ely. If my kids want to. I got a call from Adrienne's charter school, letting me know that she's failing. Everything. Why? Because she's supposed to log 1600 minutes, and it only takes her half that long to finish the work. Sigh. I'm just not willing to deal with this bullshit anymore.

I've been reading a lot about Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy. She was a 19th century educator who was well beyond her time. She believed in gentle learning, nurturing the child's natural love and need to learn. She was a religious woman and a lot of what I've found reccomends scripture memorization and using the Bible and hymns for copywork, but that's nothing I can't work around for my secular family.

I've also been reading about unschooling. I love the principle. I'm scared to death of doing it. Adrienne wants to go to college. She has since kindergarten. What if I screw up her chances by taking this stand right now? Apparently, this is a common fear among new unschoolers. That's comforting. What's even more comforting is that most families who do this are shocked by the direction and passion of their children's self-driven education.

A passion for learning. What a concept, eh? Yesterday Nick spent three hours with a little tool kit and an old 3" screen TV, taking it apart. He didn't finish, so he carefully packed it away and told me that this was a big job and would probably take him an hour. This project prompted the following comments from him:

1. Mom, what kind of scientist designs things like TVs and robots?

2. Mom, I want to be a mechanical engineer when I grow up.

3. Mom, can you find me a class about electronics, this is so interesting!

It's almost impossible to explain all the things that Nick got out of taking that broken TV apart. He learned to use the tools, he cared about something enough to not leave it laying around, he asked questions (more than those three) about how TVs and other mechanical things work, he looked up the answers to some of his questions, he's developed a little passion for electronics, he was totally focused on one project for three whole hours. He felt pride in sticking with it, in not losing his cool when he had a problem reaching a diffcult screw, in carefully organizing and saving every minute screw and wire.

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(He's wearing his grim reaper Halloween costume in this picture. In the history of Halloween, no one has ever gotten more use out of their costumes than Nick. He wears his for weeks, sleeps in them even, if they are soft and jama like.)

So, I have all these ideas. I'm really going to try to step back and not direct my kids so much that we end up with school at home. But...oooh, my ideas are so good!

1. I found this math program that lets the kids start a book store. It's really involved, takes at least four months to finish, and is really fun. It's supposed to be a virtual book store, like playing Monopoly makes you a virtual Donald Trump. But...BUT! Adrienne and Nick are going to open a REAL eBay/Amazon bookstore. I loaned them $20 for seed money and yesterday they stocked up on some educational books and toys/games to stock their store. After we're done with the lessons, they're going to open for business. How fun is that??

2. Adrienne and I are both doing NaNoWriMo! That's going to take nearly all her time next month, but the end result will be so worth it. Finishing a novel, I just know, will give her this feeling of accomplishment that will follow her the rest of her life. Like...if she can do this, she can do anything. I know, because that's how I felt last year when I did it. The novel sucked and it took me a year to edit into something worth reading (and...tooting my horn...award winning.) So, I figure this will give us a solid year's worth of writing/editing/grammar/spelling/reading.

3. I found this electronics program for Nick. It's slightly pricey for my taste, but I think he's going to love it. I might try to encourage Adrienne to participate, just to get my money's worth. It's an engineer who developed it. It's based on an electronics kit from Radio Shack that comes with 150 experiments. The guy developed a two year program where he goes into each experiment, one at a time, explains the science and expands on the instruction. Fun!

It's funny, when you think about it...how much your kid learns in a day. Yesterday Nick bought a thrift store set of walkie talkies. This morning he walked around the block with one, while me and Ruby stayed home with the other, testing how far the frequency would reach. He got PE, some math (he was estimating how far he'd gone, counting houses, etc.), when he came home he found a list of CB jargon and the 10-codes and read them and worked with them for a good hour. He also baked a cake (living skills, math, science.) We watched the movie, 8 Below, and he asked about animals that live in the Antartic, he learned some about working dogs, about what kind of scientists would work in the Antartic.

Adrienne mostly read today. Nearly an entire book. Doesn't seem like much, on the surface, but today is a monumental day. It is the very first time I have ever seen my daughter read for pleasure. AND she told me she wants to read every book in the "Charmed" series. Maybe not classical novels, but the pleasure, that means something, too. She seems a little dazed, that for the first time in nearly a decade she doesn't have compulsory school work.

By far the best part of this entire homeschool deal is that Nick's behavior at home has improved immeasurably. As a result of that, the fighting between my big kids has calmed down considerably. Without the stress of school, Nick is a different kid.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I watched an interesting show on PBS last night. It was about illegal immigrants from the perspective of the women who get left behind in Mexico. The poverty in Mexico is crushing. How anyone can see something like that and wonder why Mexicans go where the jobs are is beyond me. Wouldn't anyone do whatever had to be done to feed their children?

Anyway. The most interesting part was just at the end. Printed across the screen was the information that 1.3 million Mexican farmers have been put out of work by the export into Mexico of American corn.

It isn't that American's can grow the corn cheaper (we pay our workers more, right?), it's that our government subsidizes our farmers in effect encouraging them to export very very cheaply. This is a good article.

What disturbs me is that our government actively encourages the distruction of Mexican jobs, farm land, even marine life by exporting corn to a corn-based society. And then we have the nerve to be up in arms and consider building a Great Wall of China-type wall around our borders because the Mexican ex-farmers want to come here to pick our corn?

Think about that a minute.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Testing Testing

I had a meeting at the middle school today. They are going to test Nick to see if he is somewhere on the 'Autism Spectrum.' It was like old home week up in there--the Autism specialist is a doctor who was the first special education person I ever spoke to about Nick, in kindergarten.

I was able to tell her about my frustrations. Especially about following her advice and taking Nick to the ADHD Clinic, where Nick, who turns out does NOT have ADHD, was put on medication that eventually contributed to him being arrested and hospitalized and medicated for ANOTHER illness that he doesn't have (Bipolar Disorder.) And about how if Nick had been tested and treated for Sensory Integration Dysfunction and learning disabilities and dyspraxia when he was six, his whole life would be different.

Dr. Silverstein listened, seemed to understand my frustration. She did try to defend herself and say that she would never insist that I medicate Nick. Whatever. Then she asked if I would be more comfortable with another doctor. I thought about it, but decided no. She's familiar with Nick, even if the last time she saw him, he was in the first grade. And she's the best. And I think she's motivated not to drop the ball with him.

I had to answer this crazy long questionairre about Nick and his behavior at home, his development, etc. Next Monday he will go in and start the testing. I'm very anxious to find out what the testing indicates.

I also arranged for Nick to go to school one period (about 45 minutes) a day. For social skills class, sixth period. It'll be good for him. You know--one of those times when you have to tell your kid that they'll thank you for it later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Me and my over active imagination

On the first episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the main chick said something about having a great imagination and being paid well for it. Well, I don't get paid for it...but my imagination is in top notch condition. Yikes.

In the summer of 2005, we were approved for a home loan, but didn't buy a house because we couldn't find one that we could afford. I bawled in the realtor's car. It was the saddest, most horrible time. We did make an offer on a house, mostly out of fear that if we didn't buy SOMETHING now, we'd be forever priced out of the market. The owner accepted our offer, after countering with a price HIGHER than their asking, and then pulled out at the last minute breaking our agreement.

The flood of relief was incredible. The house was a piece of shit. The accepted offer was $235,000. The owners bought it a year before for $135,000. The people who sold it to them bought it two years prior for $110,000. It really was disgusting. The entire house had linoleum floors. Thirty year old linoleum that was worn through to the concrete. There were fake bricks stapled all over the walls. These people were making a $100,000 off us without putting one dime into their house.

Bitter much? Yeah. I am. But, the housing market is coming down. And now? Now we don't even want to buy here any more. But I've kind of got a little obsession with this website. It's a collection of news articles about the housing bubble.

That website led me to this one. That's some scary shit right there. I swear, I read the site with my hand over my mouth and my eyes as big as saucers. Peak Oil? How have I never heard of this before? I can barely get my mind around what the world will be like without oil. Don't look at that site if your squeamish. It's really frightening to think about.

Check out this video. It's mindblowing that up until the Monday before Black Tuesday, there wre American's who thought the stock market would never come down. If we could go back to the 30s and ask around for what people wish they'd done before that day to prepare for the coming depression what would they say?

Gah. I'm sorry this is a downer post. I don't mean for it to be. But my mind is just boggled by this stuff. I'm considering starting to prepare bankruptcies again. I'm getting calls, even though I haven't advertised in two years. Bankruptcies and foreclosures in my city are up a whooping 250 percent. It's depressing work, but someone has to do it. And the money will help my family finally FINALLY buy a house.

It feels like the American Dream was stolen from my family by people who exploited it for their own gain. It makes me sick. Really sick. I can't even bring myself to feel sorry for the investors who are now stuck with houses that they can't sell.

What are you thoughts on preparing for a possible recession/depression/Peak Oil...whatever?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This little light of mine...

I need to get back to basics. Stop eating when I'm full. That's all--the only rule. It's so fucking hard. Why do I feel this need to stuff myself?

Ruby is attached to her things. Her bottle (don't tell her doctor...she was supposed to be off it six months ago!), her blanket and pillow. And her kitty. A little stuffed leopard that she carries with her everywhere. In fact, she lugs the whole load around with her everywhere. It's something to see, let me tell you. She can barely stand, this tiny little thing carrying around twice her bulk. She's into "shower"s right now. She means a bath, and she likes to give her kitty one in the real live kitty's water bowl. When she loses her security net, she freaks out like the true diva that she is. "Oh no...what'd I do?" Over and over and over, standing at the laundry room door wilting like Scarlett O'Hara until finally, finally her kitty is dry and fluffy and all is right with the world again.

I feel like that sometimes. Like my fat is my lovey. I need it. It insulates me and protects me. It's the bulk I carry around, and when I lose any of it, I feel lost and afraid. As long as I'm fat, no one pays much attention to me, and they don't really expect a lot of me unless I want them to. I know you know what I mean. I disappear, just a pair of feet balancing twice my natural bulk. Sometimes I want attention, and when I do, I have to really shine to be seen through my layers. My light is pretty well buried, and I'm honestly afraid to let it shine. So, I lose 30 pounds and panic. Getting under 300 pounds takes away the panic, and suddenly eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's doesn't seem so bad. Sure, it's a days calories...but what the hell. I DESERVE it. I have to live, right?

I am done hiding. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go through the two weeks of hell again, to get my eating back under control. Damn.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What we learned to day...Olmec Civilization

Did you know that the Olmec civilization was the first known civilization in Northern and Central America, taking root in Southern Mexico? Me either, but I do now.

The Olmecs are famous for great big stone "Colossal Heads." Like this:

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(Am I alone in finding it a little sad that apparently a Mexican strip mall has sprouted up around this ancient piece of art?)

Anywho...Nick whipped us up some salt clay:

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and we made our own Olmec art sculptures. The originals are made of basalt stone.

Adrienne's reminds me of Bug Out Bob:

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Nick's cracks me up. He's wearing glasses and has his tongue sticking out. I wonder if the Olmecs even knew what a penguin was???

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All in all...big fun, but I think we can all be glad that Adrienne, Nick and I aren't the ones responsible for the survival of modern art.

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