25 June 2012


Done! The school year finally sputtered to an end when Four finished on Thursday. Between different district calendars and final exams I had to wake different people every day. It was confusing and exhausting.

Done! Last Monday was One's last day of high school. This was his fifth year, and the first year he navigated entirely on his own. He had no aide to help him, took all mainstream classes, and did exceedingly well. I drove him in for his final exam and wept on the ride back home. I'm so proud of him, but worry worry worry about next fall, when he'll start at our community college.

Done! Three graduated from eighth grade. He looked so tall and handsome in his gown. We are most proud of him for his perfect attendance this year. When he was in fifth grade his anxiety kept him out of school for more than half the year, so it was fairly amazing that he showed up for all 180 days. I hope he continues the trend in high school, when everything becomes exponentially more difficult.

Done! Two's sophomore year. Thank God.

Done! After two and a half years of sporadic writing, I finished my book today! Oh sure, I could go on about how it's really just the first draft of my manuscript, and now I have to go back to the beginning and revise the whole damn thing, but instead I'm going to take this moment to revel in my awesomeness. I WROTE A BOOK! Even better: I HAVE FIVE CHILDREN, AND I WROTE A BOOK! Truly impressive: I HAVE FIVE CHILDREN, SOME OF WHOM HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS, AND I WROTE A BOOK! Okay that's a little wordy, but I'm going with it because I'm pretty astonished that I finished.

When BIG SKY is published I'll write all my acknowledgments and dedications, but I just want to thank all of you for your support during this portion of the journey. The best part of becoming a writer has been meeting new people and forming friendships, even if our only communication has been electronic. But I especially want to thank the Captain, who sent me to a hotel so I could write without interruption, and my dear friends Janet and June, who gave me my first Jennifer Crusie book and watched my boys so I could attend my first writers conference. They believed in me before I did.

Done! I've posted 200 entries in the Diaries! O, how I've enjoyed sharing the beauty and sorrow, the tragedy and triumph, the blood and the stench. Bless you for following along.

08 June 2012

Two and Six: Amateur Zoologists

Six joined us for dinner the other night. He and Two have been friends since kindergarten. They have an easy, funny relationship, and they make me laugh. Here is the transcript of their dinner conversation.

TWO: Every once in a while, Leo walks by me and I think, "We have an animal that lives with us. He's an animal and he lives in our house." It's weird. But you know, I think he thinks he's human. That he's part of our family.

SIX: Well, I think he knows he belongs to you, but I don't think he thinks he's human. I think he knows you're different than him. But he's a totally chill dog.

TWO: There was a bear over on Seven's street this afternoon.

SIX: Who saw it?

TWO: The bus driver.

SIX: I would totally run away if I saw a bear.

TWO: Uh, no you wouldn't. It would catch you.

SIX: How fast can they run?

TWO: About thirty-five miles an hour. Well, grizzlies can. Black bears aren't that fast. Black bears are like the slow, stupid cousins of grizzlies.

SIX: Then I guess I would just have to fight the bear.

TWO: Yeah, you're not going to win. The bear would maul you.

SIX: I thought you were supposed to make yourself big and yell at the bear.

TWO: No, you're supposed to lie down in a ball and play dead. I saw this guy on "Animal Planet," and he was talking about how he came up a ridge and saw a grizzly with her cubs, and the grizzly locked eyes on him and just charged. There was no time for him to do anything, because it's like an animal the size of a van just running right at you, so he dropped to the ground and played dead. The grizzly came up and poked him, figured he was dead, and left him there.

SIX: That would suck. I still think I would try and fight it. Isn't that what you're supposed to do? Punch it in the nose?

TWO: No, that's if a shark comes up and bites your leg.

SIX: Dude, if I'm in the water and a shark comes up and bites my leg, I'm not going to be able to remember to punch him in the nose, or the gills, or whatever. I'll be freaking out about my leg! 

TWO: I know! But this guy said the shark had his whole leg, and he just hauled off and punched him dead in the nose and the shark opened up his mouth and let him go.

SIX: I feel kinda bad for the shark. You know, he's just swimming around and he goes to take a bite, and he doesn't know you're not a fish, and then all of sudden he gets punched.

ME: True. Humans look a lot like seals from underneath. Especially humans on surfboards.

SIX: Yeah. It just seems unfair.

TWO: I'm still totally punching the shark if it bites me.

It was a very entertaining evening.

06 June 2012

Swimming Back to Shore

I started a new post three times this week. Each time it read a little like this: Blahblahblah, deep, emotional emoting, whine, blahblah, errgghh. But who wants to read that shit? Not me; I couldn't even finish writing the damn thing.

Here's the truth of my life, and I suspect it will not differ entirely from yours: I am busy. I have five children. Okay, that part may be different for you, but anyone who has more than two kids can identify. And I only draw the line there because when you get to three kids, you must switch from man to man defense to zone, and that makes life trickier.

It is the end of the school year for my five children. Everything, EVERYTHING, is happening at once.

We've seen concerts, plays, talent and awards shows.

The baseball season is wrapping up for Four and Five, BUT WAIT, baseball play-offs are beginning for Three. And crap, I think we still have a few more weeks of basketball clinic.

One and I went on a school trip to the Museum of Natural History while Three was visiting Washington, Baltimore, and Pennsylvania on his eighth grade trip, which we packed for at the last minute, of course.

There have been final projects to complete, final exams to prep for, and fucking final papers to write, none of which have been finished in a timely fashion by Two, who is trying to put me in my grave.

Three will graduate on June 19, about the same time One will finish his final year of high school. I had to visit the psychiatrist (no, not for me YET), to get the form letter that renews Three's 504 plan, which provides academic accommodations for his anxiety disorder. Next, I must finish acquiring documentation that proves One has a physical disability, so accommodations can be made for him at his college. Apparently, a video will not suffice.

We started Four on a new ADHD medication, which appears to have turned him into a vampire. He goes to sleep but wanders around in the middle of the night,  making him very confrontational and cranky the next day. As a result of being awakened by my little Angel more than once this week, I am similarly dispositioned.

When I am overtired, life seems overwhelming. It's a bit of a chicken-or-egg thing. My life IS overwhelming, and it makes me tired, but I'm generally a positive person, so I think of it the other way around. But I don't live in False Positive Land either. I write the Diaries to expose my life in all its gore and beauty, and there is plenty of both.

This week I got pulled out to sea by a nasty undertow of weepy wishiness, and then flung down the coast by a rip-tide of regret. I let it take me for a ride, wallowing as I contemplated the cruelty of a universe that would give me so many children with special needs. Then I remembered the Captain's directive: when the current finally spits you out, tread water until help arrives. The Captain once saved his friends from drowning in the ocean, so his advice is pretty sound.

I swished my arms for a few days and sure enough, the lifeguards arrived. I'm choosing to focus on all the great things that have happened over the last few weeks. We had a fun day with most of the boys at a small nature park. We saw a water snake eating a giant tadpole, caught a baby snapping turtle, and Three, Small Game Hunter, captured and released a garter snake. One received a Senior Award with a little cash for continually striving for improvement. I have written about 11,000 of the last 20,000 words of my manuscript. The flowers are blooming, a handsome red cardinal is quite enamored of our bird feeder, and robins are building a nest below our deck.

I have stepped away from the ocean's edge, and life is good.