The Little Dude Book is here!

The Little Dude Book is here!

I’ve never had a book more people have asked for than this one!

A couple years ago, before we adopted Little Dude, I typed up the very first conversation between him and Elizabeth. We were out walking, hoping to find a good spot to view the super moon. It went like this:

Eliza: Look at the super moon! It’s so big!
LD: No it’s not! I could hold it in my hand!
Eliza: It’s only small because it’s far away. It’s a super moon because it’s closer than usual.
LD: I don’t see a cape. It’s not a super anything.
Eliza: Sigh.
LD: Can it be a Batman moon instead?

The response was tremendous. Friends and family wanted to know more about this Little Dude who had entered our lives. We were unable to share details or pictures, so our extended circle came to know him from the conversations I posted every so often.

The conversations covered the period when Little Dude was five and six, crossing the point when he went from a foster child to our adopted son.

I’m still quite protective of him online, but I believe the conversations we’ve had paint a very solid picture of our funny, mysterious, unique little guy.

Here’s the book you all wanted so much:

Welcome to the Dude’s Eye View.

Little Dude arrived in his sixth (and final!) foster home at age 4.

He brought with him a wicked sense of humor and a take on the world his foster parents had never heard before.

From his unique perspective, you’ll learn

• the logic of lint traps
• the necessity of bribing reindeer
• why Girl Scout cookies are suitable for breakfast, and most of all
• the importance of wearing a cape

Along the way, you’ll see a lost little boy (and his mom!) navigate the emotional and complicated world of adoption from foster care.

Apple Books:
Google Play:

Paperback or Hardcover:
Powell’s Books:
Books A Million:
Barnes & Noble:
Indie Bound:

My poppies in two lines of dialog, Part 3

Once again, my two daughters differentiate themselves in dialog. (You may remember this one and this one.)

This time, we were at Target shopping for school supplies.

Elizabeth, the 9-year-old, wanted anything pink and got a new backpack and matching lunch box.

Emily, the 12-year-old, decided her old lunch box and backpack were perfectly fine and opted not to buy anything.

As we left, Elizabeth spotted some totally blinged-out scissors covered in colored rhinestones.

And thus, our sentences.

Emily: “School supplies aren’t supposed to be sparkly. You have to use them!”

Elizabeth: “Ooooh! They match my bag!”

The mystery of the dog-ears ‘do dis

SOMEBODY put a big X on my face!

In my own yearbook!

So yesterday in Lit Chat, we were discussing Ugly Duckling stories. I confessed that I was very much an U.D. as a child and had photo proof.

I don’t know what possessed me to try this modified Princess Leia hairdo on picture day (the pin in the coils hurt, so I went with them down), but I got ridiculed for it. It’s something I’ve never forgotten, but even though people called me “Dog Ears,” I wasn’t particularly scarred by it.

Until now.

I broke out the 1980s era yearbook to scan the picture for LitChat. And found this.

Immediately I turned to the back of the yearbook, searching for anyone who signed in pencil. Only one. Hank P, my very first boyfriend. He had encircled his message, “To the greatest girlfriend I’ve ever had,” with pencil hearts. (Of course, I was the only girlfriend he’d ever had.)

Unlikely suspect. I wouldn’t have let him touch my yearbook after our Big Breakup anyway.

But in thinking about it, I am quite sure I didn’t see the X marking my spot at the time, which means it could only have been done after the fact. Someone in my own home.

Someone I trusted.

My brother.

Wait, did I say trusted? Scratch that.

I seem to recall my yearbooks getting mixed up with his. Maybe he thought he was marking me out of his own book. Maybe he knew what he was doing.

The yearbook is coming with me when I visit home this weekend. Watch out, baby brother.

Stay tuned for the big confrontation…

Silly Bans on Silly Bandz

Once again, the girls show me how different two siblings can be.

Just like with the Coach Bag Incident, in two sentences, they displayed their unique worldviews.

This time, it involved Silly Bandz.

Silly Bandz are little rubber-band bracelets that have a shape when not being worn. Elizabeth had been asking for some, as trading them at school was the newest biggest fad, and she’s all over new big fads.

I picked up a package of 25 or so bands while out shopping and presented them to the girls when they got home from school. Emily picked out one of each color, and Elizabeth took the rest of the bag for trading.

Later that evening, I got an email from the school district saying that Silly Bandz were banned due to “overwhelming distractions” with kids trading them.

The next morning, as we got ready for school, I let the girls know they couldn’t wear the bands anymore. Emily left her pile of Silly Bandz on the dining room table.

Elizabeth slid dozens of the colored bracelets onto her wrist.

And thus, our two sentences.

Emily said, “Elizabeth, you’ll get in trouble!”

Elizabeth hid her hand behind her back. “Only if I get caught!”

(Which is the girl most like her mother?)

Coaching the poppies

You could learn a lot about my daughters with two lines of dialogue.

Today we were shopping for back-to-school clothes and backpacks. In one department store, we spotted an eye-catching line of Coach purses from their Poppy line. (Note: it’s their DISCOUNT line, in honor of the recession.)

We paused to look. The girls (Emily is 11 and practical; Elizabeth is 8 and a bling-addict) puzzled over the white security ties keeping the bags firmly tethered to the display.

“Those are pretty,” I said, pondering the fiscal responsibility of such a bag, but secretly wanting one.

We flipped over the price tag. $398.

“That’s way too much for a purse!” Emily exclaimed.

Elizabeth’s eyes lit up. “Let’s get it!”

My poppies, in a nutshell.



It’s the time for ghouls and witches, and other traditional characters now banned from schools, but my favorite bit of the Halloween season isn’t costumes or candy or parties, it’s – FRANKENBERRY!

My favorite cereal of all time began disappearing from the shelves in the 80s. But when Wal-Mart first began opening superstores with groceries, they also carried the strawberry and pink-marshmallow sugar-fix. So I could get it when I wanted it, if I was ready to brave the horrors of a big box (not to mention the good People of Wal-Mart.)

But then, a few years ago, I traversed to my nearest discount superstore to discover that only Count Chocula remained in stock (BooBerry never stood a chance, little blue kernels of chemical waste that it is.)

Thankfully, Target and other holiday-centric stores will snap up cartons of the Franken-goodness starting in early October. And so many of my friends know that I love it, they will pick up a box for me when they see it.

So my day starts with a breakfast-of-champions, with 8 grams of whole grain, 13 vitamins and minerals (13, really? I love this cereal), and gee, let’s not look at the sugars.

I’d invite you over for breakfast, but honestly, unless you bring your own pink box emblazoned with a happy cartoon Frankenstein, I’m not sharing.

Raindrops keep falling on my bed

You know it’s been a long drought when you forget you have a leaky roof until you are reminded two years later.

It began at 3 a.m., as all annoying events should.



Must’ve been a dream.


Nope, my forehead is wet.


Oh geez.

I got up to turn on the light. The rain had been relentless for three days.

I peered at the ceiling. You could still make out the trail of the repair job, spackled and repainted, from when carpenter ants invaded, broke through the plaster, and began landing on my bed.

I’d take the rain any day.

But apparently the damage was more extensive than we realized, as at the very end of the old ant trail, water had seeped through the paint, creating a slit that looked like a winking eye, and–


I didn’t think I had enough room to move the bed away from the drip. I certainly wasn’t going to fix it or call anyone. It was the middle of the night. I was tired.

I did what any reasonable person would do–went into the bathroom, got a big fat beach towel.

And slept beneath it.

Trespassing, stealing, and risking life and limb

I first became a hardened pomegranate thief when I was ten.

The superintendent lived across the street from our school. On the edge of his back yard, surrounded by a fence, was a lovely heavy-laden pomegranate tree. And, you know, it wasn’t like he was our English teacher or something. He couldn’t flunk us, right?

So during the summer, when the fruit was ripe, my friends and I would make a loose, clumsy tower of pre-adolescent bodies to steal them right from the tree.

We couldn’t wait to go home and properly soak the pomegranate so the seeds would separate from the inedible pulp, but scraped the scarlet beads out with our hands, bursting most of them and staining our fingers. We often could not stop at one and would return a few hours later for more. We got caught once, the squeak of the screen door heralding our doom. But we were fast, and took off in different directions. It was escape or death, because the evidence was undeniable.

Recently, my friend Anton held a reading for his latest screenplay, a suspense film bordering on horror,  along the lines of The Orphanage. Pomegranate seeds played a big role in the movie, symbolic, frightening, blood-red, and sensual, all things the story conveys in its theme.

But everyone kept spitting the seeds OUT.

This was strange to me. You EAT the seeds. You don’t spit any part of them out.

Widipedia agreed with me, saying the seeds are ingested whole, but at the discussion after the reading, about half the group said they also spit out the seed pods after popping them for the juice.

It’s been a year since I ate a pomegranate, last season, but one of my neighbors has a tree in her yard. I stopped last summer to warn her I had a history of fruit thievery, and might purloin a pomegranate, and please not to shoot me out of the tree.

She said she’d try to remember me if she saw a figure outside her window.

And so this is how, three decades later, I again trespassed and stole, this time with the added fun of tree climbing at my advanced age, with no cohorts to give me a boost, trying to see if the pomegranates were indeed ripe right after Independence Day, as the script called for fireworks, and to determine if it made sense to spit out the seeds.

The lowest fruit was just out of my reach, so I had to grasp the spindly branches and heave myself up. I chose to do this near dusk, mosquitoes buzzing my head, in hopes no one would catch me. I finally grasped the yellow ball, even knowing from the color that it was all wrong.

And indeed, the fruit wasn’t quite ripe, bitter and hard to break, so I didn’t really get to test the seed theory. But I did covet my neighbor’s fruit, trespass on her property, and scale a tree just to answer a question. Because, you know, going to the grocery store would just be too easy.

Literary Lothario

Earlier this year, I was passionately in love with my middle grade novel. We were together every day, often long into the night, mutually basking in the glow of each other’s fond admiration.

Then, we hit a rough patch. She got some attention. Things looked promising for the long term. I developed expectations. But she faltered, then failed. So I ditched her. Sorry.

And so I was single again. I had options — the sequel to the middle grade, or maybe, just maybe, this sexy new manuscript I had started during NaNoWriMo.

It called to me in the night, edgy and full of appeal, rife with longing and promising of secrets. So I slipped into a new relationship and even started a screenplay version of the story.

But then, trouble. Characters behaved erratically, refusing to be reasonable. I admit — I got controlling — trying to force them into who I thought they should be. The story rebelled; I offered a fresh start. But we began to grow apart.

And today, I opened a file, something I’d written a few years ago but recently freshened up the opening for a fellowship application. I read the first 18 pages and didn’t change a word. It was perfect! Beautiful! Tantalizing.

And so I began to plan our time together, makeovers, meaningful conversations, pillow talk.

But the old story nipped at me. Not fair, it called. You can’t leave me like this, unfinished, in disarray.

I’m torn. Old love or new. Manage my problems or fly a new direction. Without a deadline, an expectation by anyone, I flit from work to work, writing only what feels good at the time, like a book gigolo.

Maybe if one of them manages to snag me for real, binds me with a contract, I’ll settle down. But until then, sweet works-in-progress, take it from Rod, it’s a heartache, nothing but a heartache, hits you when it’s too late, hits when you’re down…

Oh my G, you’re an F!

Unlike the Facts of Life conversations, which tend to be initiated by my six-year-old, the Bad Words talk is one that I will bring up myself. Part of this comes from morbid maternal curiosity. The rest is to make sure more Newspeak isn’t occurring (the school has banned “stupid” and “freak,” and I don’t agree with cutting out ordinary words over poor usage.)

Last time we had this conversation, we learned Elizabeth’s S-bomb. Today, as we sat on the sofa, she informed me she had two new ones.

“Lay them on me,” I told her.

She shook her head, as expected.

“Okay, so what do they start with?”

“With one you say “oh my” first.” She nodded knowingly. “It’s like ‘Oh my word’ or ‘Oh my gosh,’ but this one is bad.”

Well, that wasn’t too hard to guess. I decided to challenge her. “What if you’re praying? Can you say, ‘Oh my God’ then?”

She considered this for a moment. “I guess that would be okay.”

“So we’ve established that in some cases, it is all right to say, ‘Oh my God.’”

She fingered her hot pink dress nervously. “Yeah, okay.”

“So is it really a bad word, if we sometimes can use it?”

“You mean like stupid?”

“Right. You can say ‘This stupid pen won’t write,’ and that’s okay.”

“So you can say ‘Oh my God’ sometimes too?”

“Yes.” Hopefully she was catching on. “So it’s not really a bad word.”

“Okay.” She pushed her blond hair out of her face. “I don’t think you can EVER say the other one.”

“What’s it start with?”

“First you say, ‘You’re a–‘” She stopped.

“And what does the next word start with?”






I was quite sure we weren’t going for the big kahuna, but I thought I’d check. “You don’t say ‘mother’ with it?”


“I give up. Just tell me the word.”

Her eyes got very big. “No way.”

“I promise you won’t be in trouble.”

She shook her head.

“What if you’re in trouble if you DON’T tell me?”

She smiled. She knew I was bluffing. “You said you know all the bad words. Figure it out.” And she hopped off the sofa. Our conversation was done.

I’m still in that golden mother stage where my kids think I know everything, and they will mostly do what I tell them, believe what I believe.  I’ve got a couple good years yet.

But if you have any idea what “You’re an F–” stands for, please clue me in. I promise you won’t be in trouble.

(I don’t allow comments on this blog due to Internet trolls, but if you are on Facebook, friend me there and read what everyone is guessing the word could be.)

UPDATE: We had some great guesses on Facebook, and Irma was the closest with “fatty.” At dinner the other night, it took 20 minutes of questioning (involving her sister) before we got the answer: fat girl.