Friday, November 26, 2010

Is Thanksgiving a Hobby or a Job for You?

I come from a family of eaters. I mean, we can pack it away. I hope this doesn't offend anybody, but I consider Thanksgiving to be amateur hour for some of my fellow eaters.

It was all over Facebook today: I'm still full! I have a food hangover! The tryptophan is making me sleepy. What are they--pilgrims? They're acting like this was their first Thanksgiving.

I wish some of these newbies could have seen my dad last night. He is a professional Thanksgiving eater in every sense of the word. While my cousin Brett was leading the family in prayer (by asking our family of 30 to go around and say something we're thankful for) my dad claimed that the public display of thankfulness was "making him nervous" and that he was "under a lot of pressure."

Two seconds later, he was seen standing over the stove, eating turkey by the fistfull, grease dripping off his chin.

Me, I thank God I learned from the best. You won't see me complain about eating seconds, as though it's a chore. "(Sigh.) I'm so full, but I have to eat a little more potatoes." It is a privilege to eat a little more potatoes!

At our house, the leftovers--even the tossed salad--are already gone. So if any of you hobbyists are turkeyed out, please feel free to send some our way.

Or perhaps you, yourself, are a professional holiday eater. Here are some qualifications:

1. Before hitting the food line, you have a game plan, prioritizing some foods over others.

2. Mid-meal, you don't complain about being full. It is a welcome part of the job.

3. Afterwards, you thank the cooks profusely. Maybe your aunt Carol doesn't want to bring the green bean casserole--the one with the cream of mushroom soup--for the 12th year in a row. Maybe she wanted to make a fancy asparagus dish. But a little gratitude goes a long way.

4. You eagerly discuss the next holiday meal on a full stomach. "Well, it was fun polishing off that turkey. Who's making the chicken tetrazzini for Christmas?"

If three or more of these describe you, congrats. You're a pro. But sorry, your leftovers are probably gone. Well, there's always Christmas!

Now, I have to go lay down. Admittedly, the tryptophan is making me a little sleepy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

365 Days in a (Five) Year (Timespan)

This is my 365th post. If you've read this from the beginning, you know my plan was to write a post every single day. Nearly five years later, here we are. Five years flying by in a single earth-go-round-the-sun? Yeah, that sounds about right.

And yet, so much has changed since then. My plan was to be a professional humor columnist. A fitting goal because, in hindsight, it is so humorous. Business plan: be Erma Bombeck. Um, somebody already had that business plan. It would be like saying, "My business plan is to start Facebook." You can't out-Facebook Facebook. And if you did, you would have to be extremely Facebookish. And I'm just not.

But something even better happened. I became a children's book writer.

I used to watch people go on business trips and form business friendships and wheel and deal, and I admired it, but I thought, "That's not for me."

Well, guess what? I'm planning my first ever business trip, and I can't wait. I'm networking with colleagues, and I love it. I'm even attempting to wheel and deal, which if you know me, you probably think I'm on a unicycle dealing cards, but I'm not. I'm actually trying to be a mover and shaker in my field. (Still not on the unicycle.) I know that I'll fall flat (not from a unicycle) in this endeavor many times because it's not really my nature. But I have to try because I love this job, and I want to be successful in it.

This all came about back when Johnny was in his young scientist phase and all we read was nonfiction. I decided to write a nonfiction book. That book, What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae: a Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Children) comes out this Spring.

Which leads me to the next thing I didn't expect: my young scientist is now in his young football player phase. He has a fantasy team and trash talks and everything. (A situation that has gotten entirely out of hand, by the way, though I did like Richie's zinger: "You have gas but you're in last place." By "gas" he meant, well, you know. But he never got the chance to post it because he doesn't know how to use the computer.

Anyway, Johnny doesn't read as much nonfiction now. He reads Goosebumps.

But Richie is in his young Abraham Lincoln phase, so we still get to read lots of nonfiction picture books. Also, baseball offers a treasure trove of nonfiction books. (Why are so many writers also baseball fans? I'm sure there is a poetic answer out there somewhere.)

J.J. loves sweet picture books, with ducks and what-not, which were also some of my favorites growing up. Maybe I'll write a sweet picture book some day. Perhaps it will actually be made of sugar. Sounds like a new business plan is showing it's diamond-studded face...

So that's the end of the story. Now I'm a picture book writer and my kids are all well-adjusted and never fall apart, as don't I. Also we're now rich and are only living a lower-middle class lifestyle to be ironic.

Just kidding. As long as there are problems (and there always will be,) as long as there are vulnerabilities and sore subjects and sweet little moments. Nay, as long as laughter rings through the billboard lined streets of Waldo, I'll continue to write this blog. Unless I forget to or am too busy, to quote Shrek.

Happy year-or-so anniversary, and thank you for reading this blog!

P.S. If you like picture books (or if you used to--I think that covers everyone) be sure to "like" my Facebook page. Fun news, reviews--often in pastel hues--regarding kids books.!/pages/Author-Bridget-Heos/116576161735613

Tell your friends, too! (See. Wheeling. Dealing.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Halloween from Hell

What began as a Friday "jump-start" to Halloween ended on Saturday morning with me staring at a red splot on our school roster and wondering if it was real or fake blood.

First: Teacher conferences. Always an emotional roller coaster, for me at least. When Justin gets the recap from me, he finds them humorous. I do tend to be melodramatic, which I guess can be interpreted as funny. In my heart, it's not funny at all.

Not that I have bad kids. Actually, one got a really good report. I won't name names. But the other got sent to his room, thinking he was grounded from Halloween.

I did not plant that seed in his head. Getting grounded from Halloween would require something more than potty talk and general goofballery. By now you've probably guessed who got a bad report, but I'm still not naming names.

So I grounded him from T.V. Next stop: J.J.'s Halloween parade at school. Precious as always. Then: two birthday parties. One was Richie's friend's party.

And the bloodbath began. (Sort of.)

Richie's friend's uncle was there from out of town and he had a very unusual camera. I'm drawn to unusual objects like a parrot (plus am in the market for a camera) so I was staring at it. Richie's friend's dad introduced us.

Now, I was raised to believe a firm handshake and direct eye contact still mean something in this world. The problem with that is if the person has a huge bandage on his thumb, you don't see you squeeze the hell out of it. And there was the camera distraction.

So I gave the uncle a firm handshake, and he was like, "Ahhhhhhh" and leaned back and shook like he was being electrocuted.

My first thought was that it was a Halloween joke. I thought, what a hilarious prank, especially when you're in from out of town and meeting a complete stranger. (Put that in my back pocket for when I'm traveling.) But then I found out it was a real bandage and he had hurt himself pretty badly the day before. There were ambulances involved. Airplanes. Police. I'm not kidding here.

I felt horrible. Flash forward to an hour later. I'm rushing to get our trunk ready for Trunk or Treat: Our theme: Day of the Dead Grade School Students. Announcement: "1. Report cards go home today. 2. You're all dead."

I was cutting out a cardboard skeleton with a razor knife and thought, "Man, karma. I bet you anything I cut myself."

And I did! I sliced the heck out of my thumb. But the show had to go on. So I wrapped it in a cloth and kept decorating the trunk. It took longer than I thought, plus our furnace had broken.

So Justin came home and was toying with trivialities (fixing the furnace) when I had a trunk to decorate!

Trunk complete, I went to the kitchen and started making grilled cheese. At that point, the kids descended on the kitchen, needing faces painted and wrestling, and sitting on the cabinetry so the doors were going to break off, and my thumb was still bleeding like holy heck.

"Justin!!! Can you make Johnny up to be a zombie???!!! Please!!!" I mean what was so important that he couldn't paint a zombie face? Heat? And I kicked everybody out of the kitchen.

So I became that mom. The one whose trunk looks cute at the expense of her family. Meanwhile, Justin painted Johnny's face white, his eyes black, and added fake blood. Richie put on his zombie costume, which involved a werewolf mask (What? Werewolves can be zombies.)

We made it to Trunk or Treat on time and I won a major award. Which you've probably guessed made me feel pretty lousy after the meltdown. I went up alone to receive it; the boys were running around with their friends.

Eventually, Justin took J.J. home, who'd missed his nap earlier. I stayed with the older boys to talk. Justin says I'm always the last to leave anyplace because I talk and talk.

Well, cars left and I was still talking, this time to the cleanup crew. In my defense it related to our school chess club; a dramatic chapter of my life that I'm trying to bring to a happy ending. Meanwhile, Johnny went up to dunk a ball on a basketball hoop. He hung on the rim, and the whole thing came crashing down on him. He let go and fell right on his face on the blacktop. He laid there for a minute and I ran over, along with some other moms and dads.

Well, he wanted none of that. He was like, "I'm fine. I'm fine." and walked to the car. In fact, he was so adament that he was fine that I was worried. Plus, with his face painted, he looked pale (his face was painted white) and it was hard to see the injury.

A mom told me what to look for in terms of a concussion. We went home and washed his face. Then he watched a movie with some friends and I kept checking him and waking him up in the night.

The next day, he had a black eye and his arm hurt, but he was okay. I looked up the event organizer's number to call and let her know Johnny was okay, and that's when I saw the drop of blood. Fake? Real from my thumb? Real from Johnny's face? We'll never know.

It could have been worse, but this Thanksgiving, I will thank God it's not Halloween. And next Halloween, I'm going to duct tape an orange streamer to the trunk and call it a day.