Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Well! THAT was NOT fun!

I cannot even BEGIN to explain all the technology headaches I've been through since I last posted! I will spare you the boring details. Suffice it to say I've spent about TWELVE hours either at the AT&T store or trying to download solutions to both my computer air card and my iPhone.

I don't know what went wrong really. These sorts of things just HAPPEN to me! I have always had a weird effect on computers. Computerized cash registers always crash when I'm trying to checkout. My computers always seem to fry. I killed about SIX of the same model of digital camera. One of them even smoked! It was actually kind of cool. NEVER get sand in your camera!

I am well known to the warranty claims department of AT&T because of all the "mishaps" my cell phones have experienced. To the point that I've exhausted my benefits at times. For a period of time my cell phones had a habit of jumping out of my back pocket and into the toilet. In my own defense that only happened twice... or was it three times? I swam in the lake with my phone tucked where my grandma used to keep her hankie. AND I swam in the ocean - with the phone in the same location. I dropped my phone into a glass of milk -- TWICE. And into a bowl of Fruit Loops. That's Mark's favorite story.

Seth, he sweet young guy who always helps us at the AT&T store is forever endeared to us because he doesn't laugh at me -- much. He's on the Christmas card list and may be coming to Thanksgiving dinner. He's becoming family!

In 2005 I spent a month participating in National Novel Writing Month. This is an annual online event in which amateur writers try to write 50,000 words during the month of November. If you write all the words, you win -- no matter how BAD the story. It's really a cool challenge. 1765 words per day only takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours to write.

So, during the month of November 2005, I would sit at Barnes and Noble during the 2 1/2 hour interval I had between dropping Sara-Grace off at afternoon pre-school and picking her up. I had my favorite table and my familiarity with the employees and the "regulars" and I wrote my little heart out surrounded by all those books that other people had written. Rather than being intimidating, I found this setting rich and inspiring: if THEY could do it (write a book), the SO CAN I! So I did. I wrote 50,000 words by November 29th. I have a certificate to prove it!

And then I LOST THEM -- off TWO computers! And no amount of expert hard drive searching could find them. Fried mother boards and a "dragon virus". I guess I can always say my book was eaten by a dragon. At least that SOUNDS colorful!

In case you were wondering, my book was about my birthmother. I took everything I know about her and used that as a huge diving board of a jumping-off place and tried to write scenes from her life staring with a photo she sent me of herself as a 5-year-old little girl standing thigh-deep in a river up to the end of the month of my birth (age 24 for her). It was great fun and, I'm sure, VASTLY inaccurate. But it was curative for me and my dislike of being left in the dark. My birthmother has never told me who my birthfather is and most likely never will. This burned me up for about a decade and then I came to the realization that my lessons are about the ABSENCE of him, not the presence of him. There is great peace in that for me.

So, my book's gone and I have grieved heavily but I still try to jump on the bandwagon every Nation Novel Writing Month. I "won" twice and fell short once. I'll try again this year again, I'm sure. Maybe I'll get that external hard drive out of it's package and figure out how to use it this time. Or just print it all out at the end of every day. Both good ideas, huh?

And there's one more thing about my technology-zapping tendencies. Mark says I have a "lightning bolt personality". I'm not sure it's my personality that's so shocking. On about four occasions I have physically shocked him. Not a static electricity shock but a shock he likens to touching an electric fence. Most recently, when I shocked him, he jumped horizontally out of bed with absolutely no concern for how he would land on the hard wood floor beside the bed. I, on the other hand, have no awareness of this electricity. He swears I'm a witch.

I've researched this phenomenon and learned that there are other people who kill computers. And there are people who kill watches. And others who kill street lights. Some can cause each successive street light to go out as they pass it driving down the street. I guess maybe this sort of thing explains some cases of spontaneous combustion. I don't plan to try it. I would, however, love to develop my electricity into a healing touch. Wouldn't that be COOL?!

So, now to post this before I kill it somehow! Glad to be back! A million thanks to my beloved Deirdre, my college roommate and the person who talked me DAILY through the first two years of parenting, for posting the "Technical Difficulties" notice. Love you Drey!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Anne is experiencing some technical difficulties but promises that she has some new posts ready when her laptop becomes operational again. Check back soon. But while you're here - take a look around and make some friendly comments.

Anne's friend Deirdre

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finally! Time to Veg! Ahhhhhhhh!

My Favorite Line of the Week

From out of the darkness of the front yard on a recent firefly hunt,
Tessa says to her cat: "Stormy! Don't eat that bug!... EEEEWWWW!"

Gotta love it!

Not the best photos but still a glimpse of Stormy stalking squirrels!

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Beloved Emily

Today there is a new baby in the Coppock family -- Mark's great niece, Josephine Ruth, born this morning. And I started the day off having coffee with a young mother who's son will be two next week. And all this has put me in touch with thoughts of my firstborn: my beloved Emily.

Emily is 15 now. She lives with her father. Our relationship is VERY troubled and has been for the last three years. She speaks to me almost exclusively in obsenities. I very rarely even get to lay eyes on her. She says she's done with me for good. My heart breaks every single day.

This place I find myself in now is SO far from where we started! Emily was my very planned, very wanted, very doted-on firstborn. She came easily -- we were pregnant on the first try, I had an easy pregnancy and a nice delivery. I had just finished grad school and was starting my parenting with a brand new Master's degree in clinical psychology. I felt I couldn't be more well-prepared. I had all that babysitting and baby brothers and college and grad school and graduate level child development under my belt. I thought I was going to be SUCH a good mom. I wanted every moment of everything to be perfect and wonderful for her. I wanted her to feel only loved and nurtured. I wanted the perfect, charmed, abundant life for her. Mostly, I just wanted her to be happy.

The day she was born was the most glorious of my life (matched only by the births of her sisters later on). I'll never forget that moment in the delivery room when they handed her to me for the first time and my whole world changed in that instant! There is no greater magic!

The first thing I learned about Emily in the first minute after she was born was that she would cry if I didn't hold her tightly. This began a our relationship: a mix of close and far, give and take, good and bad. Just like any relationship, I guess -- only SO much more profound than any I'd ever known before.

Looking back, it seems to me that everything has been a struggle for Emily. Life has not been the easy, happy ride that I had wanted for her.

She had the WORST colic -- for 3-4 hours a day for MONTHS. I walked her for MILES and sang a thousand verses of "My Girl" (now that I think of it, maybe my really BAD singing is responsible for a few things!).

When we brought her out of the hospital the day after she was born to take her home and put her in her car seat for the first time, she cried so violently she turned purple. My first parenting failure: we drove home with her on my lap. How could I let my newborn be deprived of oxygen from crying so hard?
She continued to hate her car seat always. This was particularly difficult since we lived 25 minutes from town! I spent MANY hours on the side of the road trying to get her to sleep and/or into her car seat so we could drive the rest of the way home. She still rebels about wearing a seat belt to this day -- even after being in a pretty bad wreck not too long ago. I pray she wears her seatbelt in my absence and only refuses it in my presence just to stick it to me in one more place that she can.
Emily hated all things baby: car seat, stroller, walker, bottle, pacifier, bib, cradle, crib (except that bouncer!). She even hated clothes! From the time she was physically able to pull off her clothes, at 8 months old, she would. She did her best to be naked until she was 5. For years she would only wear one type of shorts in the summer and one type of pants in the winter and only the most comfortable shirts. She wouldn't wear socks, jeans, underwear, turtlenecks, tights -- anything uncomfortable, anything with tags. Even CLOTHES, that we all wear every day, were hard for her!

Emily was a mama's girl from day one. When she was two weeks old my birthmother came to meet her for a few days. At one point during that visit I asked the new grandmother to hold Emily for 15 minutes while I took a much-needed shower. Emily screamed the entire time. When I came out of the shower and took her back she immediately quieted -- seemingly relieved that her long period of suffering was over.
That was the nature of our relationship for the next 12 years. She was the clingiest child I have ever met. We were completely enmeshed for the first dozen years of her life. She didn't even want to be left with her daddy. I didn't have much opportunity to leave her with anyone even for short periods because of our geographical isolation (we lived in the house my mother had left me on Lake Tenkiller in rural Oklahoma).
Starting preschool was traumatic. Starting Kindergarten was traumatic. She didn't want to be in a different room from me or (God fobid) on a different floor of the house. There was a year I couldn't leave the house without her or she'd plaster herself on the hood of my car. I didn't leave her overnight until she was 10 1/2. Maybe it was pathological, but at least then she LIKED me!

School was always a challenge. Emily didn't do well with groups or schedules which is what school IS. She wasn't a morning person. She didn't want to be away from me. She was so competative that she wouldn't do anything that involved competition because she was afraid she might not win. I sat in the hall outside her classroom for two weeks in first grade. I home schooled her for several years. I sat outside her classroom all day every day for SIX MONTHS in 5th grade because that was the only way I could keep her in school. Some mornings we had to chase her around the neighborhood and drag her kicking and screaming and crying to school. Every day she would just fall apart the minute she walked out of school at the end of the day and then start dreading the next day before we even got to the car to go home.

My poor, poor baby. This was the baby that was supposed to have the charmed life. And everything was so hard for her. I could never seem to make it better for her.

Maybe that's where I made some of my biggest mistakes: I didn't let her skin her knees enough. I think I probably saved her from all the things she was supposed to learn the hard way -- which were the things she probably most needed to learn!

And I yelled at her a lot. Emily says I yelled at her every day of her childhood. I did. But yelling was never my first reaction -- it was what happened on the eighth stab at whatever we were struggling with. Emily was strong-willed. She was stronger than I was. She could out-last me on everything. I finally learned that it was only by about 2 seconds that she could out-last me but she could still out-last me because I didn't have that last 2 seconds worth of strength. So she won a lot of battles that she probably shouldn't have. And I lost my mind WAY too many times in the struggle and the frustration and the panic of it all.

I know the flaws in my parenting. I was too soft-hearted. I should have corrected her on the first whatever-it-was rather than asking nicely and trying to reason with her and then losing my mind the eighth time whatever-it-was happened. I just always thought that we could work out a solution. My mistake was that I expected her to be reasonable. She was just a little person, she had no idea how to just be reasonable.

The best example of this was the day she decided it was funny to run across the street. She was probably 2 or 3. She decided to joyfully run across the street in front of our house just for sheer thrill of it -- or maybe the fun of rebelling against me or watching me turn white as a sheet in terror. Luckily, our street is only lightly travelled so she wasn't in as much danger as she would have been in heavy traffic but STILL! Small children need to learn not to run into the street, right? I told her NO and explained to her why it was massively dangerous to run into the street. She laughted in my face and kept doing it -- laughing all the while as I grew more and more panicked and terrified.
Finally, on the eighth run, I resorted to something I didn't believe in and had been taught against in grad school: spanking. I picked her up out of the street and spanked her. Her immediate reaction was to slap me across the face, saying "DON'T HIT ME!". I burst into tears. I had just taught my child to hit and made her feel abused in the process and she still hadn't learned about the street. That's why spanking isn't good, in my mind. But that wasn't the only time I spanked her -- later desperation led to trying anything I could think of. But I was usually short on ideas.
I think Emily also blames me for the divorce which disrupted her whole world. I don't blame her for being angry. It did rip up her world. And I know she probably thinks I left her dad for Mark. That's NOT what happened. For the record, I hadn't seen Mark in nearly 20 years when I decided to divorce Matt. The divorce was about me and Matt and no one else. And I wish she could know how much the divorce was about me wanting the best for everyone -- especially Matt. I wanted happiness for him and I knew that I couldn't give him the happiness I thought he deserved. SO much soul-searching went into that decision. I'm still sure that, in the grand scheme of things, I did the right thing. I only hope someday she can understand.

I love Emily more that words can say. She is an AMAZING person. She is a wonderful, creative soul with great passion for animals and great talent in art. She has a wisdom about her that that speaks of an old soul. Not too long ago she completely blossomed from a beautiful chubby kid who hated herself into a gorgeous young woman whom I hope can see, appreciate, and enjoy all the incredible things about herself. She has those wonderful exotic eyes, that beautiful cinnamon-vanilla skin, Mark says she has my arms, I see my legs and hips on her. She is wonderfully loving but firm with children (probably a lot more like what I should have been with her than I was). She has the most incredible sense of humor. She can be the best big sister when she wants to be. She lovingly looks after her dad. She's real, accepting, supportive, and good to her friends. She's incredibly, incredibly strong and very brave. She's so many things that I am SO, SO proud of. And, despite all the school-related challenges her soul has been through, today she goes to school, wearing JEANS even!, and she makes terrific grades and her teachers think she's wonderful and wish they had a whole classroom full of Emilys! And I breathe a huge sigh of relief that things are finally starting to be easier for her.

When she was little I lived every moment in awareness of her. I breathed every breath with her. I empathized every emotion with her. Now I miss her so very extremely desperately.

I LOVE just to get to LOOK at her which is rare because she will not permit photos to be taken of her, I've had to hide all of the old photos of her off of the premesis because she'll take or destroy them (she doesn't like the way she used to look), and I don't get to see her often because of the way she feels about me right now.

It's become my realization that she's better off without me right now because I bring up her demons. She won't take my calls. She blocks my texts. She won't read the letters I've given her. I would love to call her daily or sent her a text or a note every day but I suspect she would just yell at me. To "respect" her wishes and just leave her alone feels like I'm ignoring and abandoning her. I feel like I've lost a child. And I grieve her every day.

I pray she outgrows all this. If she never does, at least I know she's alive and healthy and walks the earth. And I hope she knows (as I've told her more than once) that I'm here with open arms any time she's ready to start working on making all this better.

My secret wish is that it will all be better in time for me to be there to send her off to the prom. That's reasonable, isn't it? And, when she's 22 and realizes that I'm maybe not so bad after all and that maybe I was right about a few things, I don't have the heart to want her to regret everything she's put me through or all the hurt she's given me. I just want my baby back. I just want to have her in my life -- happy and healthy and MINE!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grand Central Station

The air conditioner in the upstairs of my house has been broken for the last two years. It wasn't as bad as it sounds during the heat of the summers because I could coax a little bit of cooling out of it at night if I turned it off during the day. And the ceiling fan helped. But this year it's been totally out which has given me tremendous appreciation for what our pre-A/C ancestors went through. The repairman came today and gave us a temporary fix that should hold until the permanent fix can be ordered and installed (at horrifying expense if I may lament!). Yipee!

The one nice thing about a broken air conditioner is sleeping with the windows open. When the A/C works there's always some reason not to: bugs or allergies or security or Ninja Turtles or SOMETHING! But when the A/C is out, no one argues. So we've had the windows open. And the animals LOVE it!

For the record, we have 3 dogs and 6 cats and 2 ferrets and that's the lowest animal count we've had in YEARS! At one point (just for a week or so), we had 7 dogs, 13 cats, and who knows what else! All this is the result of a pathological interaction between Emily's love of animals and my soft heart. This means I'm a cool mom, right? Not everyone would agree with that but that's the theory I'm going with! Anyway, we've worked it down to almost manageable so no one has to feel obligated to have me committed or anything!

Torpedo is our "mama dog". She's beagle and Jack Russell terrier and is named for her rocket, whirling dervish, TORPEDO-like maneuvers when excited or escaping capture. She moves so fast she's just a blur and jumps for joy three plus feet in the air like she's on springs! Torpee looks after all the other animals like a mama and has appointed herself Director of Human Interface. This means she communicates with us on behalf of the other animals. If Maggie and Lily (the other dogs) need to go out (or come in), Torpedo tells us. Often Maggie and Lily have no idea that they need to go out and Torpedo has decided this all on her own. Or maybe she just kicks them out when they get on her nerves! You'd have to ask HER! She also supervises the ferrets when they're out of their cage and tattles on the other animals if they're someplace they're not supposed to be. This fascinates me.

Torpedo takes security VERY seriously. If anyone sets foot on our property she goes off like an alarm system. She also thinks the street in front of our house is ours as well so we hear about it if anyone walks by. If they have a dog with them she practically loses her mind! This morning the UPS truck drove by the house at full speed. It never even slowed down. Torpedo went nuts. I don't worry about security much around here!

Torpedo loves it when the bedroom window is open. She can sit on "her" bed and monitor the yard and the street from a great second-storey vantage point. And, if the window is open wide enough, she can let herself out onto the roof of the front porch and bark at people from outside without being able to actually accost them. AND she's smart enough not to jump off (or FALL off like others of our dogs have done who shall remain nameless to protect their dignity!). So, the A/C challenges have worked well for Torpee!

Torpedo standing guard on the roof.

Last night I was laying half asleep in the middle of the night and one of the cats went wooshing through the window at full speed without even slowing down. I'm not sure what the impetus for this hasty exit was but it struck me funny enough at the moment that it inspired me to write this whole piece! Too bad I can't seem to capture the humor of it adequately at the moment!

Tessa's pride and joy is her rascal teenage boy cat Stormy. Stormy puts the windows to his own uses whether they are open or not. Tessa tells me that Stormy meows at her window around 2 a.m. every night and makes her let him in. Sometimes the window is open but the blinds are down in front of it. And these aren't mini-blinds -- they're the plantation shade of window blinds with 2 inch slats that the girls often need adult help to raise. Stormy just sticks his head through between the slats and looks at you expectantly. Sometimes he manages to get his whole body through this space as well! Stormy cracks me up!

Wishbone (Wishy) and Stormy at the window.

Last night a dragonfly few in the bedroom window. It was the biggest dragonfly I have ever seen -- probably some extinct prehistoric African variety! I kid you not, it was five inches long! Torpedo immediately went after it and the top of Mark's night stand was quickly cleared of coin bowl and cell phone in the process. The chase was on! Sara-Grace and I finally caught it in the lemonade pitcher after much running and jumping and climbing on furniture and a fair amount of laughing and girlish squealing in what turned out to be a fun mother-daughter adventure!

The dragonfly. See? It really IS huge!

I can tell you, after all the open-window adventures, that I really wouldn't be surprised if an elephant came through the window in the middle of the night! I may sleep better tonight with the A/C on and the windows closed, but I'm sure I'll be missing out on some adventure!