Just stuff – musings on life, kids, me, stuff

juliettepurpledress

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

I’ve been … things are changing quickly around here.

I’ve been spending time with the elders Eleora and Tellias. They’re extremely old. They’re forgetful and need time and care.

Clara is spending her last summer at home before going to the big prestigious difficult to get into university in Southern California (NO not any of the ones involved with the cheating scandals.) Unlike her brother who went off to college with his BFF, she is looking for housing and searching out potential roommates. She is also getting ready to go to the regional championships for her sport then on to the national championships. She is also working and spending a lot of time with her boyfriend, and with me.

Teddy, my husband is working a lot, and diving into a lot of new things. I don’t talk a lot about Teddy, other than his good looks and winning personality. Did I mention his good looks and winning personality.

The eldest child is home on and off after his first year in graduate school. His BFF Randy is still his BFF. They have girlfriends. That is plural girlfriends. I keep out of it.

My writing consortium WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) is coming out with our THIRD horror anthology soon. I’ll keep you posted. I believe that will be our 12th book.
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Summer always brings mixed feelings for Vampires. The weather brings more people out, in fewer clothes. That makes meals easier. Then again, it is hot and bright and we need gallons of sunscreen and I’ve never liked the extreme heat. But with the heat comes flowers and I love my flowers.

So anyway, I am reorganizing my life along with everyone else so I hope to bring more news, stories, thoughts, and interesting blog posts this summer.

One thing I am doing is spending a lot of time at the art museum. Fun stuff. Vampires love art, so of course we support all of our local museums and art events.

In the mornings I love to sit on my deck before dawn with my coffee and listen to the birds. I feel, I KNOW, I’ve done a great job preparing my little birdies for the big outside world. My chicks have spread their wings and are now flying on their own.

Parenting, and writing about parenting has been such a huge part of my life for the past 23 years that I now find myself at a loss for words, as the last one finished up community college and is now leaving… moving 450 miles away. Hey, at least I know there are plenty of cheap flights down her way, and it isn’t really that far of a drive.

OK, I’m done. Time to go out and plant more sunflowers. Yes, it is an odd thing to think about – a Vampire planting sunflowers, but we do all kinds of unexpected things. If you’re a Vampire you’ll understand.

Have fun,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Thinking Back on Being A Parent

When I started writing this blog I was dealing with Middle School and summer camp. Now I’m helping my kids navigate lease agreements and finding the best coffee grinders.

Over the years I’ve talked about navigating school and social situations. We’ve gone to concerts. I’ve seen first love come and go, but I’ve also best friends, and bonds that will last the ages.

In the great big world my children and I have discussed school shootings, the environment, and politics. We’ve been to political events so the kids and their friends could have that experience and see what it was all about. We’ve known what it is like to be different. We’ve known what it is like to be part of a group.

Every family is different, but I feel, I know there are some things that all parents must do.

So many people think schools should raise their children and teach them everything. Or many think going to church (God forbid) will teach their kids all they need to know about being a decent person. But they miss the point.

As a parent it is YOUR responsibility to raise your child. Not just feed them or clothes them but to share your world with them.

The number one most important thing I can say to parents is to TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I don’t mean lecture them or talk at them. I mean talk with them and LISTEN to them. Discuss things with them.

Encourage your children to be “big picture” people and go beyond their family, friends, and school. One day they’ll go out into the big wide world. You don’t want our little birds to take wings and get eaten by the first raptor who comes along. Teach them to see, to watch, to question, to be aware.

Teach your children to have their own opinions. Not everyone is a leader, but you don’t want you child to be a follower. They need to know that it is alright it they take their own path. If they choose to be with others that is OK but it must be their choice.

And yes, they should be allowed to make their own choices but you, as a parent, need to guide those choices. If they hang out with a bully then STOP that friendship cold. Let your child know why. If they have a friend you don’t like and the alarms go off then STOP that friendship. You’re the parent. Teach your kids to have real friends, not just kids to hang out with. Teach them NOT to give into negative peer pressure or bullies. Talk to them about it. Always encourage them to take the higher road. Even tiny children understand that to some extent.

Early on explain to your child how important reputation is. It is easy to lose one’s reputation but it is extremely difficult to get it back. Kids lose their reputations by hanging out with kids who offer nothing but trouble. Don’t think you can save someone by being good. They will only drag your kid down with them – and they won’t care. I know this is harsh but I’ve seen it happen too many times.

At the same time teach your children that good friends are a treasure. Teach them that they can have friends that are a different sex, a different color, a different sexual orientation, a different faith, and just different. Diversity is good. I speak from experience. Acceptance is awesome. Love is awesome. Friendship is awesome.

I love my children’s friends. I have grown to love their parents too. As much as I wail on about things I don’t like – I have been honored to have met so many great kids and awesome parents. Woo Hoo.

Laugh with your children every single day.

Encourage your kids to always be curious.

Raise a child who will be a life long learner.

Raise your children to be better than you are.

Raise your children to be better than you are. Even today my daughter showed me that she is a much better person than I am. I won’t go into details, but I can be an asshole. My child gives no second chances (like her dad) but she is smart, kind, and thoughtful. She has tact. Don’t get me wrong, most people think I’m the sweetest thing in the world (even other Vampires) but I can be… well, not always the person I should be. I’ve raised my child not to be like that.

I’m not the perfect parent. I think I’m a better parent for not reading copious amounts of parenting books. Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages is a must read. Real parenting stories are the best – not theory from experts and cold clinical studies. Besides, every child is different. Every parent is different. Every family is different. What works for me might not work for others. But I have to admit I am so proud of the kind of mom I’ve been.

Hey, how many kids can say “my mom blogs about vampires.” Not many.

No matter what you do, make your kid proud of you, and be proud of your kid.

Love them.

Encourage them.

Talk with them.

TALK.

Keep the communications open. Be positive. Be understanding. LISTEN. Let them know that YOU are their safe place.

Parenting doesn’t stop at middle school, or even high school. It is a life long job, even when they move out, gets jobs, and start their own families. Let them live their lives but let them know that you’re always there for them with your love and your understanding.

~Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Surprise! They’re Adults! More Parenting Fun.

Vampire Maman

Why is there so much paperwork?

Oh the joys of being an adult.

And the joys of being a parent. You still need to answer their questions.

Adult child: Why is there so much paperwork?

Parent of adult child: Fuck, I don’t know.

For the parent of the rare Vampire child there are even more questions. My children continue to have questions. Clara who is 19, is pretty good about accepting whatever comes her way, taking charge of it, and rolling with it. Garrett, who is 22, tends to over think, but that’s ok.

A few days ago Garrett called me and asked, “When am I going to age out?”

Me: Age out?

Garrett: Mom, you know what I’m talking about. When am I going to stop aging? How old am I going to look for the rest of my life?”

Me: I don’t know. I suppose between 25 and 40. The average seems to be early to mid 30’s.

Garrett: I don’t want to age out before I’m 25. What if I always look like a college student.

Me: That depends on how you dress. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.

Then he asked: What’s up with all these creepy older Vampires hitting on me?

Me: What do you mean by older?

Garrett: Like your age or older.

Me: Tell them no. It’s the same as with people who aren’t Vampires. Don’t let them bother you. They’re older and maybe have a lot of power, but they don’t have power over your body or your emotions. Tell them to stop. If someone won’t leave you alone call me. I’m still your mom. I’ll deal with them.

I told him that some old Vampires have been reading too much fiction. Also, creepers come in all forms. Why are we still even dealing with that issue? You’d think that everyone would have evolved by now.

Speaking of evolving…

High School and a person’s early 20’s are a fun time. It is a time to explore who you are and what you want to become. It is a time when the popular culture such as music and fashion sticks with you and becomes part of who you identify as. You’ll always identify with that time. That isn’t a bad thing.

The bad thing is when someone sticks with that time and those experiences as who they are forever. Just listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” or “1985” by SR-71. You can love or hate either or both songs, but the message is clear. Don’t be that person who is stuck in a time warp. Vampires tend to do that and become ridiculous parodies of their own lack of vision. Yes, I had a great time in 1885 but I’m living in the 21st Century. Stay relevant.

Yes, stay relevant. That is one message you can’t say enough to your adult Vampire child.

My brother Aaron was always resisted technology. Sure Aaron, you were born in the 1850’s but you don’t still have to act like you are living in the 1950’s. Finally our dad who was born in the 1650’s pulled him aside and told him to get with it and stay relevant.

Sure I loved bustle dresses, but I don’t wear them anymore than I still wear huge shoulder pads.

Garrett: Why is everything so expensive?

Me: I don’t know.

I try to explain fluctuations in fuel prices, international politics, weather changes, and other factors that go into inflation. Sometimes things are just expensive for no reason. I never took any economics classes and those things make my head spin. That is when I say, “go ask your dad.”

Garrett: Why do they take so much out of my paycheck?

Me: Hell, I don’t know. Vote.

The paycheck message is brutal. Unfortunately our representatives in government believe they are leaders. They are not leaders. They were elected to represent us. They’re doing a piss poor job of it (all parties, all sides.) They always have done a piss poor job. Vote. Get involved. Vote.

Garrett: Do you think there will ever be a time when we, you know Vampires, can come out in the open about who we are?

Me: No.

Garrett: Why?

Me: Because they’ll kill us?

Garrett: Why?

Me: Because we drink their blood.

Garrett: I get it but…it isn’t right.

Me: People are always afraid of what they don’t understand or can’t comprehend.

This conversation has been going on for years. We went on in-depth about Vampire Hunters and all sorts of assholes out there who are going to try to knock us down. You just have to be true to yourself, do what is right, and move on.

Just imagine being a Werewolf. They have no control over what happens on a full moon night.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this chat over my first morning cup of coffee is that no matter how old your kids are you have to be there for them. They will have those burning questions. They’ll always have questions, even after they’re grown. You won’t always have the answers but that is ok. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. And sometimes you just need to listen.

If you don’t have an answer you can look for it together.

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A bit of business: This is week 51. The 50 Burning Questions ended last week. Yes, for 50 weeks I posted Burning Questions for YOU to answer and discuss. It was super fun. Thank you everyone for participating. I’ll have more fun in the future along those lines. In the meantime I need a break. I also need to get back to writing more parenting and Vampireing posts. Click here to see all of the Burning Questions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Always the Romantic…

A few days ago my 22 year old son Garrett called me. I know, I don’t write much about him now that he is off on his on in graduate school and working and doing grown-up stuff.

As a teen he wrote love letters which I’d find folded up in the dryer. Tiny little squares would fold out to a full sheet of legal paper written with a find point Sharpie. I’d fold them up and stick them back in his pocket, then call him to come fold his clothes.

I was never the kind of parent who would search their children’s rooms or go through their stuff, but a verses of love found among the dryer sheets is fair game.

This is the kid who broke his harm when he turned at the top of some stairs at the high school to blow a kiss at a girl and then tumbled head over heels down to the bottom.

My son isn’t a player, but he is always a charmer and a flirt. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. And now that he is older he doesn’t seem to allow his heart to be broken every three months or so.

So a few days ago Garrett called me. We talk almost every day but this conversation sort of stuck with me.

He’d met a girl. He liked her a lot. It wasn’t serious but she was fun to hang out with. Then she started asking him all kinds of questions about Vampires and paranormal things. Most of it was just silly popular culture type of stuff.

Then one evening she asked him why his diet was so limited. Then she asked him why his skin was cool. She nagged him about his sensitivity to the sun. Then finally she asked him if he was a Vampire.

“Mom,” he said, “the only reason she wanted to be with me is because she heard from someone that I was a Vampire.”

“What did you tell her?” I asked.

“I told her she was fucking crazy, excuse the language, and told her there were no such thing as Vampires.”

“How’d she react?”

“She called me an asshole and a freak and left.”

“So she wasn’t taken in by your good looks and charm?”

“No. But she should have been.” Then he laughed a little.

I have to admit my son is charming and good looking. Then again, most guys his age are, or at least they need to be told that every once in a while, even if the person telling them that is their mom.

“Garrett, do you ever tell anyone that you’re a Vampire?”

“No Mom. Absolutely not. If they already know, then they know. But not regular people. No way.”

“Good.”

My kids are still young at 19 and 22. They haven’t achieved enough in life to have people wanting to be around them for their fame, fortune, or some other unknown status. Actually that isn’t true. People do like to be around them, but it is because they’re just nice kids. That and the fact they have cool parents (just kidding but kind of not.)

I’m glad my kids can and do talk to me about anything and everything. I will always answer my phone, my texts, and keep my heart ready for them.

February is almost here. It is that time of the year when the traffic on this blog gets clogged with people looking for love letters, advice, and answers to those mysterious matters of the heart.

In the meantime, no matter how old your kids are, they still need their mom and dad. So keep listening. Keep talking. Keep loving. And yes, keep laughing – preferably with them and not at them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

White Noise

I missed Short Story Sunday yesterday. I used to write a story each Sunday while I was at my daughter’s skating practice. Maybe it was the white noise of the organ music that allowed me to block out everything except my child and my writing.

Needless to say, I was not at skate practice yesterday since my daughter is in Southern California with her boyfriend this week. I rarely go to Sunday skate practices because she has her own car now. Next year she’ll be in Southern California full time as a college student.

This is part of the whole Empty Nest discussion. Our routine is so keyed into our children that when they grow up we have to find new white noise. Seriously folks, putting our children in sports is just an excuse to have quiet time to read or work on writing during their practice time, or travel to interesting places during their competitions. None of the parenting books will tell you that.

Sunday is now filled with other activities including that man I seldom speak of – my husband. He’s great. We do things together. We even dressed up for a party this weekend. Good times.

Today I’m taking about twenty minutes to finally get out that missed story. I’m not sure where this will lead us but here we go…

White Noise

The radio was on but Elise wasn’t really listening. It was just white noise. When it got to quiet she’d have to listen to her own thoughts and question her actions. If the radio was on she’d feel more connected and it made work more productive.

Today she wished she could have taken the day off to paint but she wasn’t too unhappy. The unsolved crime blog was waiting.

Sixteen years ago her husband had been murdered. Even though he was a police detective his killer was never found. She’d cashed in the insurance policy, sold the house, packed up her three small children, and moved to a coastal city where she fixed up her Aunt Blinkey’s ramshackle beach house. There she taught economics and political science at the high school. Eventually the true crime community contacted her, and she shared her own research and theories into her husband’s death. Soon her grief became the passion of others. She was glad to hand it off. She was glad to help others. Research had always come easy to her.

Today she wrote about murder, with coffee and the radio.

Sometimes she just wanted to be. Not alone, but not really with anyone. She’d smile as her sons talked with their uncles about sports, and yelled at the TV when the score or a call wasn’t to their liking. She wasn’t listening to anything they said. It was just background noise as she painted, or wrote letters of recommendation to former students.

So she wrote about murder while listening to the radio and the rain pouring down on her roof and yard. The storm was so loud couldn’t even hear the waves coming into the nearby beach.

Today’s murder happened three years ago when a couple of twelve year old boys rode out on their bicycles one summer day. They told their parents they were going to the park. Instead they went another two miles down to the river. There they found the body of a young woman face up on the rocks, her arms and legs spread like someone making a snow angel. Her clothing was torn and mostly missing. Her throat was tied with a rope.

As a mother her heart broke for the boys and their parents. A few days later they found out the young woman was a kindergarten teacher who’d walked a few blocks the night before to visit a friend. Nobody even knew she was missing when the boys found her. Her killer was never found.

Elise had gathered clues from the readers of her blog. Someone had seen a woman wearing the teacher’s hand knit red sweater. Someone else had seen her with a tall blonde man. Someone else said it was her high school boyfriend who had kept a bulletin board covered in her photos. Elise was searching her email when she heard a knock on the door.

Standing at her door was her friend Bryan.

“You should have just come in,” she said.

“It was locked,” he answered.

“Where’s your key?”

“Home,” he said, then kissed her lightly and came inside.

She’d known Bryan for ten years. They’d met when their children were going to school together. Their daughter’s had become best friends forever and even gone to college together. He been a good male role model and a friend to her sons. And eight years ago Elise started being more than friends to Bryan.

He was never a boyfriend. They just spent time in bed together, or on the couch, or in the shower. They never told anyone, but eventually everyone figured it out, including their children.

Over the years they’d both dated other people, then ended up back together, or just cheated on the people they were dating. They never considered it cheating, especially when the other relationships weren’t serious. Nothing every got serious for Elise. It did once for Bryan, and Elise accepted it. But she was glad when it wasn’t serious anymore.

Elise turned off the radio and led Bryan to her bedroom. They spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying each other’s company as only two middle aged old friends can. He still dazzled her with his smile, and the way he moved, and the way he laughed, and of course the way he touched her.

As they lay in bed listening to the rain, he fell asleep with his head on her shoulder, his arms around her. Elise closed her eyes and thought about how she loved her time with him. He never told her that he loved her, but she knew he was tied to her with a bond he couldn’t find words for. She always loved him but she’d never tell him. He never wanted that, or at least he’d told her that years ago. Eventually she just didn’t think about it.

Listening to his quiet breathing she stroked his hair and though about her feelings for Bryan.  White noise. White noise.

~ end

 

Have a good week everyone. I’ll have more thoughts later this week. And don’t forget to stop by on Saturday for the 45th Burning Question.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman