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The road in my literary journey, as of late, has been long, winding, and not without a bump or two along the way.

Since the second week in May, I’ve been participating in book signings for my story (Then a Hero Comes Along) in Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs.

It’s been enlightening. Almost every person I meet has a story to tell, and has touched my heart in their own unique way.

First there’s “Snake”, the 6’3″, don’t-wanna- meet-ya-in-a-dark-alley, biker. He whisked his bandanna off his head, and taking my hand said: “I just wanna say I’m happy to meet ya. N’ver saw a writer , e’cept some actor playing one on TV.

Tom and Macy were an elderly couple whose story had me in tears. Their daughter was born with severe autism and mental retardation. When she was diagnosed, the doctor urged them to place “Sherry’ in the state home, stating she’d never live past ten. That was thirty-eight years ago. Tom and Macy never gave up on Macy, choosing to raise her at home. “After all, she was our child, not something to be thrown away,” Macy told me. The couple had just buried their daughter a week before my signing in their town. I couldn’t believe the amount of inner strength these two possessed, they were at total peace.

I met Sally a week later. Though she was special needs herself (Asperger’s), the twelve year-old is determined to be a neurologist and find a cure for autism.

There’s too many more people to count, each with their own heroic tale, their faces a picture of the hope and determination they have in their hearts.

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Never mind the fact my youngest gifted me with pink eye (in both eyes) last week, I have had the most  amazing  last few days.

It began last Friday when I received an email from the editors of Taste of Home magazine.  I’d been selected to be a Field Editor.  It’s not an “editor” editor job, but it’s a foot in the door, and I’m one step closer to fulfilling my dream of being one.

My luck streak continued yesterday when Seth returned home.  It seems that high school students are rewarded with points for academic accomplishments.  I learned that Seth had been accumulating and storing points.  But rather than spend them on himself at the school store, he purchased a leather make-up bag, complete with cosmetics,  for me.   Anytime my children offer me something as simple as a candy bar, I’m ensconced in warm fuzzy feelings.  And so, when Seth, a shy grin decorating his face, handed me the gift, tears of joy almost flooded the bedroom.

And topping off my day was an email.  My story about Robert, entitled “Marks on the Heart” will be included in Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Tough Times, Tough People. The book will hit the shelves the middle of June this year.

There may be more daylight hours, but I’m still running short on time. I have no idea where it goes.

A prime example is that Seth (my oldest) will be going on his first formal date next month. Already I feel gray hairs popping through my scalp.

He’ll be escorting the young lady to the ROTC ball. The young men will be in dress blues, the young ladies, formal attire. In order to pay for their tickets, a wrist corsage for his date, and a Sam’s Club box of tissue for me, he’s started his own fertilizer business. I swear it was only yesterday he was learning to ride a tricycle, playing in the toilet, and painting himself with food coloring on St. Patrick’s Day.

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I can’t remember if I shared this. Unlike fine wine, my memory isn’t improving with age.

My essay, “And Then a Hero Comes Along” is in the upcoming Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs.

The book is already online, and will be released May 12th in the bookstores. If you happen to be in my area, come by any of the following events:

Hastings Bookstore

May 16, 2009 1P-5P (or later)

917 Hwy. 80 San Marcos, Texas

Hastings Bookstore

June 6, 2009 1P-5P (or later)

651 N. Business IH35 New Braunfels, Texas

Hastings Bookstore

July 11th, 2009 12P-5P (or later)

1380 East Court Seguin, Texas

I’d love to see ya!

Life around here has been eventful to say the least.

On Valentine’s Day, my husband gifted me with a night in the historic Menger Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Built before the Civil War, it was considered the finest hotel west of the Mississippi and hosted greats such as Teddy Roosevelt, Captain King (founder of the King Ranch), and Babe Ruth.

It’s also haunted, and was featured on Unsolved Mysteries as one of the most haunted places in the United States. But what can you expect? It’s located across from the Alamo.

Also..

Teddy Roosevelt has been seen in the bar, trying to recruit “Rough Riders”. Other hotel guests report seeing the spirit of Captain King walk through the wall into the King Suite.

The night of our stay, as we walked into our room, the television turned on by itself. No one was near it, nobody touched the remote. So you’d think with that welcome, we’d have packed up and ran off like scalded dogs. But that night, around midnight, as my family slumbered, I put on my slippers and went ghost hunting.

The ancient floorboards creaked as I tip-toed my way down the hall. The hall lights made strange shadows on the wall, and for a minute, I considered that perhaps I had more guts than sense. Just what would I have done if I would have seen a ghost? Invite it for a late night cola? Yeah, right. More like saying it, then doing it in my pajama pants.

My curiosity leading me, I decided to use the winding, ancient staircase rather than the elevator. Heart pounding as I rounded every corner, I clutched a rolled-up newspaper ready to way-lay anything that appeared. As if that’d harm a spirit.

Finally, I reached it, the third floor. The most haunted floor in the hotel. According to local legend, the spirit of a chambermaid walked the floor, still taking care of guests. The maid died in the 1850’s when she was attacked by her jealous husband. Considered more than an employee, the woman was taken by the owners back into the hotel, to a room on the third floor, where she later died.

I didn’t see her, but as I stood in the hall, I felt a sudden chill on one side of my body. The hair raised on the back of my neck, and I ran back back to my room.

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If you remember, a couple of years ago I complained about driving a hoopty, a 1992 GMC Jimmy. Since then, we purchased a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica, which became my third child.

A couple of weeks ago, a man backed into it at the post office. Long story short, he’s lying to his insurance, and they’re trying to weasel out of paying.

To complete the recent insanity, my youngest son took my cell phone and threw it into the bathtub, which was full of water.

I don’t think even Erma Bombeck could handle a couple of weeks like this.

The cake pans are scrubbed, put away, the last traces of dessert eaten.

During the past several weeks Seth and I have been recipe surfing, experimenting with different tastes and textures, all for the home skills portion of the local 4H Livestock Show.

Every night, visions of cakes, pies, and cookies danced in my head. How the kids in the poem “The Night Before Christmas” handled it I’ll never know.
For me, my dreams of dancing pastries were horrific.

After much deliberation, we entered: blueberry pie, an apple spice bread, eggnog bundt cake, and my recipe for white chocolate chip cookies.

The result were wonderful. Seth received blue ribbons for the bread, cookies, pie, and got a red for his cake.

We entered a pen of rabbits in the livestock portion, and out of 105, Seth placed thirty-ninth.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! I spent the time in New Orleans with family and friends. My rear is pancake-shaped (eight hours in the car), my brain is fried, so I’m leaving you with this until tomorrow.


You Remember 70% of 2008


You were paying attention during 2008.
And you remember what happened really well.

You’ll be able to talk about 2008 for years to come…
Even when most people have forgotten what went down.


You Are Influential and Skilled


You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.
You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are full of energy. You are spirited and boisterous.
You are bold and daring. You are willing to do some pretty outrageous things.
Your high energy sometimes gets you in trouble. You can have a pretty bad temper at times.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It’s easy to get you excited… which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don’t stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

The other night, after the family and I watched the annual lighting of the courthouse, we went out to eat.

For most, dining out is a pleasurable experience, engaging in conversation. enjoying good food, and best of all, no dishes to wash.

But for me, it’s a chance to down aspirin and indulge in a Maalox milkshake later. Most of the time Robert (youngest) is an angel, quietly observing his surroundings, amusing himself with his reflection in the silverware. However, there are times when his autism is very appearent, yelling out, flapping his hands.

I know he can’t help it, that’s not what bothers me. It’s the stares and rude comments from other patrons, all the while I’m trying to curb his over-stimulation.

So this night my stomach joined my toes as we walked into our favorite Chinese eatery. It was packed, and Robert (because of the Christmas lighting) was teetering on over-stimulation.

He hopped in place and flapped. “Look, ‘Fried Chicken on Wednesday. Kids eat free,” he screamed.

**Side note** Let me point out here that the child is in kinder, reads on a 6th grade reading level, and can type in web site address (from memory) into the http address bar.

I calmed him, and with promises of a plate of yard bird, I lured him to our table.

Our waitress was friendly, but not the hyper, I’ll-give-your-hubby-a-lap dance-for-a-tip type. “What’ll you have, honey? she asked, laying her hand on his shoulder.

Robert , engrossed in what was on the big screen TV a few yards away, ignored her.

“Yoo-hoo, I’m here,” she said, waving her hand in front of Robert’s face.

“He’s autistic,” Seth blurted.

The waitress took a step backward, looking as if someone had smashed a Christmas ornament on her head.

I groaned and took a deep breath, readying my self to answer the barrage of questions sure to follow. “Had I seen Rain Man?” “Did I know Jenny McCarthy?” Or my favorite: “What did [I] do while [I] was pregnant to cause this?”

But I was wrong. Instead, the waitress got on Robert’s eye level, got his attention, and asked him what he wanted.

Throughout the rest of our stay, she frequented our table, asking Robert questions and making small talk with him questions.

After the dishes were cleared, Robert and Seth ran ahead to look at the indoor coy pond near the register.

My heart nearly stopped as I watched our waitress sit beside Robert. I’m paranoid when it comes to my children, and the sight of the woman embracing my son was more than I could stand.

I walked toward them (and for reasons still unknown to me) stopped within earshot. I listened, unseen, from behind a stand of artificial trees.

“Do you know why I’m hugging you?” the woman asked. “It’s because I love you. You’re a very special, wonderful, person who’ll do great things. Don’t let anyone say you can’t. I believe in you.”

I’m glad to have witnessed that, and to realize true kindness still exists.