Month: October 2006


We had our annual orgy of candy. The kids had fun. Never let it be said that Americans are not generous. My kids came home with piles of candy. It can definitely be said that Americans are wasteful.

Our trick or treat crew started out with 5 kids and three adults. (Link’s best friend and his parents came back to town for a visit and trick or treating.) By house three, the older kids were seriously out-distancing poor Patches. I stayed behind to walk more slowly with him, while the older kids dashed from house to house. Gleek got to be one of the older kids this year, much to her delight. Patches hit about 7 houses and then declared that his hands were cold. Since temperatures were already sub-freezing, I suggested that maybe he’d like to go home and eat his candy. I deposited him with Howard at the house, and went to catch up with the others. By the time I’d chased them down, Kiki had peeled off to stay with a group of girls and trick or treat with them. Then there were three. A few houses later, Gleek began complaining of the cold. She decided that going home sounded nice. I left Link to continue on with his friend and parents. They stayed out for another 20 minutes, then arrived back in the warm. Kiki was out much longer, but had loads of fun. (This paragraph has me wanting to compose a little poem ala 5 little ducks, only with 5 little trick or treaters.)

For me Halloween is exhausting. It goes like this: Scramble to get kids fed and costumed in the morning. Drop Link at school. More costume scramble. Drop Kiki and Gleek at school. Home for awhile. Kindergarten costume parade. Home for awhile. Pick up Gleek. School-wide costume parade. Home for awhile. Pick up Link from school. Home for awhile. Pick up Kiki from school. Drive to a friend’s company for a mini halloween event. Go back home. Scramble to feed the kids something with actual protien in it. Scramble to reassemble costumes, kids, buckets, & glow-sticks for trick or treating. Accompany kids for trick or treating. Go back home. Answer the door a lot. Negotiate with each child the amount of candy they can actually keep. Make tired and sugar-hyper children go to bed. No wonder I’m exhausted by the end of it all.

The one piece that I really enjoy is being outdoors at night. I love that everywhere we go in the neighborhood, we see people we know. I get to walk in the dark, feel the cool air, and wave to my friends, who are also accompanying their children. I love this neighborhood.

Final note: Did you know that if you take glowing glow-sticks and put them into the freezer, it slows the chemical reactions enough that they stop glowing? When you pull it out, the reactions start up again. My kids have made glow-sticks last for a week (or more) by pulling them out for an hour of after-dark play, then putting them back.

Events of the day

Each day is full of small events. Many times these small events don’t even make it onto my adult radar. Small events don’t seem to matter much…unless you’re a small person. I have four small people. To them today was special.

Patches had a turn with stomach flu today. I learned that he is the politest sick kid I’ve ever seen. Several times today I came to check on him. He would be playing quietly and tell me he was fine. Then as an aside he would mention that he’d thrown up into his pot. I’d check and sure enough, the pot needed washing. He is only 3. When Link was three, he would run away from the pot screaming because he believed that somehow the pot made him throw up. Despite being sick, Patches played quietly and watched movies for most of the day. He did need some extra snuggles and a nap. Once again I realized what a wonderful sweet kid he is. Extra hugs are in order.

Gleek had a rough day at school. She was inclined to be weepy all day. She expressed this by lingering behind in the hall when her class went to the computer lab. Her teacher found her there and escorted her back to the classroom where she had to sit quietly and miss computers. On the way home from school Gleek told me about this sadly because it will be a whole week before she’ll get to go to computers again. I sympathized out loud and was quietly glad that she is unlikely to pull that particular stunt again. She was also very sad because her friend R told secrets to a classmate, but not to Gleek. I really wanted to scoop her up and snuggle her, but unfortunately I was also toting Patches and his pot, so that logistics were tricky. The rest of the day was better for her because she got to play at a friend’s house and hold some puppies. Warm furry animals have a magic to them. I got to hold one of the puppies too.

Link got new black tennis shoes today. They are the first pair of brand new shoes he has had in more than two years. We’ve all been wearing lots of hand me downs. We’ll continue to wear mostly hand me downs, but we can now sprinkle a few new things in. Link was very pleased with his shoes. He wore them all afternoon. He happily demonstrated their stomping capabiblites. He loves the little toy that came with the shoes. It’s a little action figure which apparently is used to advertise this particular brand of shoe. It’s one of these guys. Personally I find a severed toe action figure rather disturbing, but Link likes it. He really likes that it has magnets on it’s feet thus can stand sideways on the fridge or other metal surfaces. Kiki and Link spent an hour carefully cutting all the pictures of these action figures off of the box the shoes came in.

Kiki got to go to school an hour early today. She had a pile of make up work to turn in and had to get it there in enough time for the teacher to submit final grades before the deadline. She worked hard to get it all done and I loved seeing the satisfaction on her face. She also loved the chance to just hang out with her teacher and be a before school helper.

But the biggest event of the day was our annual pumpkin carving. We managed to grow four pumpkins this year, so each of the kids got one. They each had fun using the little carving tools to make faces. I love that they’re mostly old enough to do the work themselves. I remember when pumpkin carving meant that I had to do all the carving while the kids watched or wandered away at will. So we have our row of Jack-o-lanterns. And we’re ready for tomorrow which will contain large events along with the inevitable small ones.

Backing off

I am pretty good at manipulating my children. I know what levers to use to get them to do what I want them to do. Sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes I have to manipulate the kids for their own safety or wellbeing. I have to manipulate them into eating healthy food when they would much rather eat candy. I have to maneuver them into bed when they want to stay up all night. Manipulation is part of the parenting package and I’m pretty good at it. BUT there are times where I need to back off and not manipulate my kids. If I over use the manipulation tool it may break when I truly need it. Also there are times when I want to manipulate my children not for their good or for my sanity, but for my convenience. My convenience is a misuse of the manipulation tool.

Today is a good example. Last night we attended a Halloween party. During the party Kiki collected a whole plate of cookies and brought them to our table with strict instructions that no one touch them. When the party was over, Kiki walked home leaving the cookies behind. I assumed that they were then abandoned. I loaded Patches’ cupcakes on top of the cookies and brought them all home. This morning Gleek was rousting me out of bed to get out her candy. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I didn’t really want her to have candy. But I remembered that the plate of cookies and cupcakes was sitting on the counter. I told Gleek to get something off the plate. Patches joined her and the two had a feast. Then Kiki arrived downstairs and saw that there were no whole cookies left. She was furious because they were her cookies. I explained my thought pattern. It didn’t make her feel any better. She ate breakfast and then locked herself into her room. When I knocked on the door the only response I got was a shouted “Leave me alone!”

My plan for this morning was another housework scavenger hunt. The house has been a wreck and it needs to be cleaned. Kiki locking herself into her room interfered with my plan. I considered that locked door. I knew I had levers that could get Kiki out of her room and cleaning. Some of them are blunt force (“I don’t care how mad you are, you will clean now!”) Some of them are more subtle (Sending Howard in to tell Kiki what an awful day I had yesterday and how tired I was this morning, thus triggering Kiki’s nurturing side and making her ready to be friends again.) I sat at the kitchen counter and considered my options. I remembered all the times that my parents manipulated me. I’m sure they did it more than I realized because as human beings we all manipulate each other constantly. But I specifically remember the times where I saw the manipulation and it worked anyway. I remember how mad and helpless it made me feel. Now I am in the position of the parent. I will inevitably do something similar at some point, I probably already have without realizing it. But I had a choice, today I was paying attention. If I manipulated her today, it would be to make her comply with my plan for the day. My plan had us all happily scrambling to get the work done as fast as possible. I realized that while the work is necessary, there is all day for her to do it. She knows what her assignments are, she knows that she can’t watch TV, play video games, or play with friends until the work is done. I realized that I need to allow her to do the work in her own way and on her own plan rather than manipulating her to follow my script. I realized that I need to let her be mad at me. If I made apologetic overtures, they needed to be focused on healing the hurt feelings not a toe in the door to get her to do what I wanted her to do.

I wrote Kiki a note. I apologized for giving away the cookies. I did not justify this by claiming that I felt she had abandoned them or that I’d done the work to bring them home. I just said I was sorry for doing something that made her angry/sad. I asked her to forgive me. Then I offered to help her make up a whole batch of cookies with a chocolate cookie recipe off of the internet. I put the note under her door. When the note disappeared, part of me wanted to knock on the door. Did she like the note? Did she forgive me? Would we be making cookies? Was she still mad at me? Was she in the room fuming about what an awful mother I was? I had no cues, just a closed and locked door. I wanted to hover. I wanted to know.

When Kiki is upset, she needs space. It is often hard for me to give her that space. There is something inside me that is driven to make things right. We get caught up in emotion and I find myself hounding her to make sure that she sees things my way. I am driven to make sure that I’ve told her all of my justifications. She feels cornered and increasingly upset. She lashes out to make me go away, but I pursue to make sure she understands. Why is it so hard for me to give her the space she screams for? Why can I not remember in the heat of the moment that I can’t MAKE her think or feel the way I want her to? I somehow need to find the courage to walk away and trust that she will wend her own path toward calmness. I need to trust that she is not villainizing me in her mind. I need to trust that she is not tearing herself down and blaming herself. I need to trust her to be the strong person that I know she can be. Today I managed all that. Today I walked away from the door. I still don’t know how the cookie note went over. I don’t think she is still mad, but she could be. Today I just have to let it go and trust Kiki to find her own solutions. She finds good ones so often. Many times her solutions are better than mine. I have to let go. I know this. Why is it so hard?


This evening I watched Kiki admire her Halloween costume in our full-length mirror. She struck a pose, then turned and struck a different one. I wonder what she sees in that mirror. I’m certain it is much cooler and more exciting than what I see. Her imagination takes the image and improves it into something glorious. In her mind’s eye she isn’t Kiki at all, she is a beautiful and deadly white sorceress. Kiki was so pleased with this vision that she didn’t even mind that Butterfly-fairy Gleek was running in circles around her. Perhaps the sorceress and the butterfly-fairy have struck a magical truce for the duration of the costume wearing. I can only hope.

The Halloween party is tomorrow and all the pieces are assembled. All except shoes. Link wants black shoes for his ninja outfit. Since he needs new tennis shoes anyway, I’ll buy black ones. Kiki also claims a need for shoes. “I’ve never had shoes that matched my costume!” she pleaded with her very best puppy-dog eyes. I’ll be in a shoe store anyway, so I’ll look around and see what I can see. Maybe there will be a pair that are perfect for a white sorceress and can still be appropriate for an uncostumed Kiki to wear to church or school. I will undoubtedly hear cries of “unfair” from Gleek if both her older siblings get shoes and she doesn’t. Hopefully she’ll agree with me that her ballet slippers are perfect footwear for a butterfly-fairy. Perhaps I can convince the sorceress to wear my old ballet slippers.

Demand clusters

Today my children sensed my renewed commitment to being available for them. They descended upon me like little locusts full of demands. Why is it that kids don’t see fit to space out their demands? Demands always come in clusters. Gleek wants milk at the same moment that Patches needs to potty and Link needs help finding his shoes. I have to do a quick triage to figure out which demand is the most urgent. (Note: The only thing that beats out potty on the urgent scale, is vomit. We had both today.) I then queue up demands and address them sequentially. Children are not noted for their patience. All they can see is that mommy is still not doing what they asked. So they ask again. Louder. It is a good thing I had all that renewed commitment, otherwise I would now be insane.

Despite the demand clusters and Kiki having flu, today actually went pretty well. I did a good job of partitioning my day and spending a good portion of the daylight hours in the sunlit parts of the house. Since I finished all the urgent accounting, tomorrow can be devoted to making Halloween costumes. I am sewing dresses for both of my girls. It takes lots of time, but since I enjoy sewing, everyone wins. Sewing costumes also assuages my nascent guilt about how much time I’m spending on business stuff these days. I really want my kids to be able to see me neglecting other things to work on something that is important to them. Fortunately for my schedule, Patches decided to wear Link’s old Mario costume. Link changed his mind and decided to be a ninja. Ninjas are easy, all he needs is head-to-toe black. I have until Friday to pull the costumes together because there will be a costume party Friday night.

And now, off to bed with me.

partitioning my day

I’m not posting as often or as well as I have in the past. My brain keeps being full of thoughts which interfere with composition.

As time races forward to November 16 (the first shipping day for Blackness Between,) I find myself with an endless task list of things I must do. I have to get started right now and do some of it every day, otherwise November will host a catastrophe. However the list is so long that it isn’t possible for me to get it all done in a single day. The task is so large that it can’t be done all at once. This means that the looming business tasks threaten to take over my whole life as I scramble to get it all done. I need to not let that happen. I have enough time. I need to say that louder so that I listen to myself. I HAVE ENOUGH TIME. Yes the job is huge, but if I just do some of it each day it will all get done. I have to carve out spaces of time for other things, like my kids. In these spaces of time business stuff is not allowed. Mornings before school and evenings from dinner to bedtime belong to my children. I need to pay attention to them. I need this and they need this because during the rest of the day they hear a lot of “I just need to finish this” and “I’ll be there in a minute.” Switching gears that way is good for me too. I need to remember WHY it is so important to work on the book mailing.

Book sales continue. The first rush of optimism has worn off now that the flood of orders has slowed to a trickle. I’m greedy, I want more people to order. Last April we shipped out 1800 books. This time I’d like to break 2000. Right now we’ve sold about 1062. Orders are coming in at a rate of about 12 per day. That means in the next 21 days we can expect another 252 orders. That wouldn’t even bring us close. Oops. I’m still in the “no business thoughts allowed” time. Better go play with my kids.

Leaf Turning

I sat in church today pondering my priorities. They have been skewed this past week. Perhaps they’ve been skewed longer than that. Today I sat and figured ways to put things aright. There need to be daily spaces of time where business concerns are not allowed to encroach upon paying attention to the children. I need to consolidate my leisure rather than grabbing it in snatches. The second method leads to much wasted time. Work should come before play.

Today I turned over the leaf. Every single moment of today was focused on things for the children. Some of them also happened to be things I wanted to do, but mostly it was all for the kids. I even did the full individual mommy attention bedtime. I look back on the day and I know it was right. The priorities were in order. I got lots of important things done. But I am weary.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

–Robert Frost


It is cold outside. Cold is normal for the end of October, but I’m just finding myself stunned that the end of October has already arrived. Summer is gone, Fall is on it’s way out, and Winter is close. I’m already missing the daylight hours. This is exacerbated by the many hours I’ve been spending in my windowless office.

I have been getting many things done. I still have many things yet to do. It is daunting how many things I have yet to do.


Today I am sorting books. In order to make space for the new Schlock books we have to get rid of a 6 foot tall 3 foot wide bookcase. This means we also have to get rid of that many books. Getting rid of books is not easy, because we love books. For each book I ask:

Will Howard read it again?
Will I read it again?
Do we want the kids to read it?
Does either Howard or I have an emotional connection to this particular book?

If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes,” then the book stays.

I am surprised at how many books received a “no” on all four counts. I have two or three boxes of books that we’ll be parting with. I haven’t yet determined where would be the best place to donate boxes of paperback science fiction books. I know of a scout who is collecting books for an Indian reservation library, but I think they’re looking for younger aged stuff. The thrift store takes anything. But I think I’m leaning toward dropping them all at the Orem Public Library, they’ll be put in the sale area and raise funds for the library.


It has been an interesting day. I wish I hadn’t been sick for most of it. The stomach bug interfered with my favorite preorder game. The game is called “click.” All I have to do is sit at my computer and hit refresh on my store info page to see how many orders came in since the last time I clicked. Click won’t be nearly as fun to play tomorrow when the orders have slowed down.

At least this time I wasn’t reduced to a useless pile of very tense Jello like I was on preorder day back in April. In April I was so tense that I couldn’t get anything done. Today had a little bit of tension, but mostly I’ve felt pretty relaxed as I fielded dozens of customer service emails. Fortunately none of the emails were outside my capabilities to solve. All of the requests were very polite, if occasionally frustrated. I think I was able to make everyone happy before the emailing was done.

It is a measure of my relaxation that I haven’t been frantically running numbers all day to figure out if we’ve brought in enough money yet. Howard keeps running numbers, but I’m content to wait a few days before I start doing my figuring. According to Howard’s numbers, we’ve paid the book production bills and about 2 months of Howard’s salary. Before preorders are over we need have enough money to pay out 8 months of salary. We don’t intend to wait 8 months before the next book, but financial margins make me happy.

My work is far from done. I have much organizing to do before we are ready to do a huge mass mailing. The storage room needs to be cleared out. Supplies need to be bought. Sorting of invoices must be done. And postage must be printed. But for today I can just relish the click.