Sunday, March 29, 2009

Up and Running

The Lee Family Blog is a go. I sent invites to everyone who asked and a few people on my hotmail list. If for some reason you didn't get an invite, and/or still want one, just send me a note and I'll add you on. Thanks friends!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Going Private?

Heck No! Not this blog. Not ever.

Here's why:

If you have gone private, no matter how much I love you, I only check your blog once and a while. Blogger doesn't tell me when you've written something new, so I JUST DON'T REMEMBER to stop in. I don't want to discourage you from visiting my blog.

I like it when strangers read my blog. It makes me feel famous.

The word "private" makes me feel silly.


I understand the need to protect your kids. No one knows better about protecting her cubs than the mama bear herself.


Sometimes I want to write journal-like blogs, but don't want to flavor this blog as a "journal-like" blog.


In addition to MY blog (a not-at-all private blog) I will be starting a Lee Family Blog and it WILL be private. It'll be lots of pictures of my little cubs (even ones where they are in the tub) and updates and all sorts of Lee stuff that you may or may not find interesting. You are invited in on the fun, if you like. Send me your email address and I'll hook you up.

P.S. My little kiddos might make an occasional appearance on this blog... but probably not pictures of them in the tub.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dream Walls

These pictures make me happy. One day I'll have them on my wall.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I felt proud of myself today. I sent my first query to a literary agent and got rejected for representation. For the first time, I felt like a real author. And I liked it.

One rejection down, several hundred to go...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chapter 1

The way I saw it, I had three options.

The most obvious choice, given my age and gender, would be to yell—to make a real big stink right there in the café in front of everyone. Moms can’t stand being screamed at by their daughters in public. They’ll give in to just about anything to make the screaming stop. And if I really wanted to make an impression, I could toss a few four-letter words in the mix… the juicier the word, the better.

My second option was cold-defiance. That’s what Gandhi would do. I could fold my arms at my chest and lace my ankles tightly around the legs of my chair. I’d state point-blank that there was no way I’d be going to summer camp and I’d like to see her try and make me. If she somehow managed to uproot me, I could follow the example of toddler being forced home from the playground and go completely limp.

Or, for my third option, I could cry. Always a classic. I’d ask if she’d somehow stopped loving me or simply wanted to get rid of me for the summer—meanwhile leaking gallons of “What did I do wrong?” tears. I could sniffle and moan, and even pretend to gag a little. That’d get her.

As I weighed my options, Mom slowly stirred the straw around her Italian cream soda and braced herself for my counter-attack, in whatever form it might take. Her lips were turned under and her eyes, though alert, looked heavy and troubled. Was she worried about my reaction? Or was the worry deeper?

My parents weren’t stupid or anything. Obviously they noticed that the phone never rang for me and the extent of my social life was tagging along with them on their weekly date night, but could they know how bad it truly was? I mean, I’d tried to put on a brave face for them—especially Mom. Every day I painted my lips a rosy shade of happy and pranced around the house like I didn’t have a care in the world. But in the privacy of my own bedroom, I let it all out. I secretly recorded my misery into the fibers of my blanket as I cried myself to sleep.

They must’ve figured it out. That’s why they were shipping me away for the summer—to bring a little pine-scented sunshine into my dismal little life.

I was too old for camp. I was pretty sure that my bra size would be greater than or equal to that of any camp counselor I could have had—so singing campfire songs with a mouth full of toasted marshmallows seemed ludicrous. But after further considering my alternative summer plans—hanging out (hiding) at the public library, watching MTV, eating peanut butter straight from the jar—I discarded options one, two and three (they weren’t my style anyhow), and came up with a fourth option: acceptance.

“Okay,” I shrugged. “I’ll go.”

Mom’s jaw dropped. “You’ll go?”

“That’s what I said.”

She cleared her throat and straightened her posture. “That could’ve been worse.” She peeled open a pouch of mayonnaise and squeezed it onto her turkey avocado sandwich.

Suddenly, I felt annoyed. My mom just ambushed me with the news that I’d be spending the whole summer with squirrels, Popsicle sticks and sleeping bags. She didn’t even bother asking if I wanted to go. And, brilliant me, I had let her off the hook without a word of protest... almost.

“So, how long have you and Dad been conspiring against me with this? Months? Years? Or is this brilliant camp idea a new development?” I couldn’t resist—I was a slave to my fifteenness.

“For crying out loud, Kaitlin. Your father and I thought camp would be fun and a good way to get you out of the….”

“Mom,” I interrupted, not eager to be reminded of my bleak life as a house-plant, “I’m only joking.” Kind of. “But…uh…this isn’t some youth correctional camp or anything, is it?”

Mom scooped up a barbeque potato chip with a plastic spoon and launched it at my shoulder. “Not unless you consider sassing your mother a federal offence,” she laughed.

“Fat camp?” I countered. Being that I weighed only slightly more than my cocker spaniel, Snuggly, my mother felt it necessary to prolong the violent chip assault. I ducked beneath the table and only surfaced when my mother ran out of ammunition. “So tell me about this place you’re sending me.”

“Well, it’s called Camp Overlook. There will be lots of outdoor activities and learning opportunities, but you’ll probably find the whole set-up a little … alternative.”

“Alternative?” I mouthed, mentally sifting through all of the thirteen hundred reasons why alternative could be a problem.

“More or less. I don’t exactly know what you should expect, but the brochure said that camp will be an enriching and enlightening experience.” A shred of iceberg lettuce dove from her sandwich onto the table. Mom picked up the wayward vegetable and directed it to her mouth.

“So basically, you’re telling me you have no idea what I will be doing at camp?” I paused for dramatic effect. “For all you know, Camp Overlook could be some religious cult camp brainwashing us into worshiping tofu and bran muffins. Or maybe it is a tattoo camp and I might come home with a body scribbled in gang symbols and pictures of buxom young women. Or better yet...”

“Whoa there. Your father and I wouldn’t send you just anywhere. We researched this place and feel really good about it. You’ll love it. Trust me.” Somehow, the expression on her face was not very reassuring. Her eyes drifted hazily to the café’s back window.

I would miss her, too.

“I’m sure I’ll be okay.” I said. Though careful not to sound too enthusiastic, Camp Overlook didn’t sound that bad. I liked the mountains just fine and didn’t mind roughing it once and a while. Maybe a few toasted marshmallows and “Kum Ba Yahs”—or tattoos of bran muffins—would be exactly what the doctor ordered.

I swigged the remains of my raspberry Italian cream soda and eyed Mom’s full plastic cup hopefully. Her trance lifted and she pushed her soda towards me. “So how long will I be there?” I inquired with a slurp.

“Till the end of August. Three whole months of fun. Your dad and I will pick you up in time to register for your junior year.”

The sun filtered through the café’s window and lightly powdered my mother’s face. I was hit by the irony of how beautiful she was and how beautiful I was not. Heredity, bless its heart, was rooting for me. Like Mom, I had long honey-colored hair with natural blond highlights and eyes that opted hazel or green depending on the sun’s mood. Even though my facial features resembled hers, my nose was just a little too round and my skin had just one too many freckles; I barely missed the cutoff.

“We really need to get going on this camp thing, though. I need you to do the laundry, vacuum your room and pack your duffle bags tonight. We have to leave first thing in the morning to get you checked in on time.”

“Tomorrow! We are leaving tomorrow? Holy freakin’ cow—school just let out two days ago! You really did spring this on me.”

“We thought the short notice would give you less time to plan an escape.”

“Ha ha.”

The front entrance to the café swung open and a dark and heavy sensation washed into the room. My first thought was “Dementors,” but the real source of my blackened mood was far worse. A group of girls from my ninth-grade class, led by none other than fabulous Mia Bethers, giggled their way in, smothering any trace of happiness I might have felt the moment before. I tilted my head downward and feigned a sudden interest in a dried ketchup mass under our table. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I could hear the girls snickering and whispering my name. My heart pounded and my ears tingled; for me, that’s what inadequacy felt like.

“Isn’t that Mia?” Mom asked. “Golly, she’s all grown up.”

Mia was the captain of the JV dance squad. She was cute, popular, and the leading reason my life as a teenager was a complete disaster. Did I mention that she used to be my best friend?

“Oh yeah,” I nodded, trying to play it cool. “She’s a little different now but still really nice.”

Mom looked hopeful. “You should go say hi to her. You could invite her to dinner tonight. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just like old times.”

“I don’t think so, Mom.”

“Why not? You two used to be so cute together.”

True, when Mia and I were in elementary school, we had sleepovers on the weekends and spent recesses hanging upside-down on the jungle gym. That, however, was before the “incident” and before Mia made it her life’s mission to see to it that no one at school would touch me with a ten-foot pole.

“Come on, Potato Bug? Give it a shot. No pain, no gain—right?” Mom looked at me with so much hope, so much concern. The fact that I had no friends made her sad. I made her sad; I could tell. Her heart might shatter into a billion pieces if I told her no.

“Fine. I’ll say hi to her,” I said and stood up.

My feet felt like blocks of cement as I walked to the service line, where Mia and her stupid friends were waiting to order. One of them gasped as tapped Mia on the shoulder. Mia turned around, a synthetic grin stapled to her face.

“Er… hi, Mia,” I managed.

“Er… hi, Katelin,” she mimicked. She stood there, unhelpfully, and waited for me to say something else.

It took a second. “Um…” was the best I could do.

“Ummm…” Mia repeated, though trying to sound mentally retarded. Her friends cackled.

Then silence.

More heart-pounding and more ear tingling.

“I guess that’s all I had to say,” I said. I turned around and trudged back to our table, humiliated by how I was treated, but more embarrassed that my mother had just witnessed “a day in the life.”

If Mom hadn’t known how bad it was for me before, she certainly did now. Her eyes flickered with disappointment and protectiveness—a look I’d only seen three times before. Once, when she flipped through my junior high yearbook and saw that no one had signed it, again when I came home from school with three wads of gum knotted in my hair, and once more when she saw that someone had written “barf bag” in permanent marker on my white backpack.

So I did the same thing I did the other times Mom gave me that look—I acted like I didn’t notice or care that I was a loser/loner of the most putrid variety. I forced a smile. “We probably should go. Like you said, my room really needs to be vacuumed.”


But this time I could tell that she didn’t buy it.

We discarded our trash and left the café, pretending not to notice the taunting eyes and the shameless whispers that followed me out.

Mom dealt with the situation by rambling on in a voice that can only be described as chipper. “Dad might be starting a new contract on this week so it will be just you, me and the open road. We’ll pack all sorts of junk food, listen to funky music and have so much fun together. Girl time.”

“Can’t wait,” I said, already imagining the hours of Wilson Phillips and Eric Clapton cassettes I’d have to endure on our trip to Colorado.

Had I known that the car ride to Camp Overlook would ultimately lead to my disappearance, however, Mom’s sorry taste in music would never have crossed my mind.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Remember how I once said something about writing a book? I think that was years ago, right?

Well, I am still working on it. It is such a process! I only have three or four hours a week to write (technically, I could have much more but there are obstacles—AKA LOST, Grey’s Anatomy, AI, and thank heavens all that Bachelor nonsense is over), so my pace has been slow.

But there is an end in sight and I am getting increasingly excited about the end product. I’ve grown attached to my main characters and am eager to write their happy ending (or not so happy ending for some of them). I am also eager to get published. I am trying not to get my hopes up (getting published is so hard), but I’m afraid they’re already sky high.

Calling myself an “author” would be sooooo cool.

I thought I’d give you a little taste of what I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I will post my first chapter. There, you will meet Kaitlin, the heroine of the story. I love her. She has layers.

When you read, keep in mind that this book is intended for teenage girls. Also keep in mind that this is my first book so don’t judge me too harshly. I fully intend to become a more skilled writer over time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bedtime Rituals

After Ryan and I have had a good fifteen minutes of snuggling (rather, I’ve wrapped my arms and legs around his body, and he lies there—very still and very politely—until I have reached my daily cuddle-quota and made a sizable puddle of drool on his pillow), we both roll over to face opposite sides of the bed. We call this “assuming the sleeping position.”

Once the “sleeping position” has been initiated, there is to be no talking and no touching—only sleeping. We take “sleeping position” etiquette extremely seriously in our marriage.

The problem is this: I don’t really want to go to sleep—not at all. I’m tired… real tired… but my time of awakeness without my children also being awake is so scarce and so precious. There are so many things I’d like to be doing rather than sleeping. Writing, for example. Reading books. Eating carne asada. Going hiking. Sneaking celebrity gossip on the Internet. Grooming.

But I am too tired for any of that.

So I find myself thinking. I mentally reword the paragraphs in my book. I furnish and refurnish all of the rooms in my new house. I scheme on ways to get the most out of my coupons for my next grocery trip.

And then I’m all worked up (coupons get me that way). I am too excited to go to sleep. I’m not even tired anymore. Why the heck can’t I fall asleep?

So, I roll out of bed and walk to the medicine cabinet. I punch a Unisom out of the tin-foil packet and pour myself a glass of water. I get back in bed.

I fight agaist falling asleep, but rather worship my zzzz's once I’m there. I groan as, five seconds later, the morning light filters through the window tells me to “look alive.” I am not an early bird. I've never had any interest in "getting the worm."

I rub the mascara-leftovers out of my eyes and walk drowsily into the kitchen. Ryan is there making a peanut butter sandwich to pack for lunch. He looks sexy in his work clothes, but tired.

“Hi babe.” I wrap my arms around him and nuzzle my nose into his neck. “Did you sleep okay?”

He chuckles a little and shakes his head. “I did not,” he admits.


“There was an encroachment,” he says. Okay, so he doesn’t use the exact word “encroachment” because that is a word that I would use, but he says something similar and I know exactly what he means.

Somewhere, between my sleeping pill at twelve and Ryan’s alarm clock at six, I did the unthinkable. I violated a key “sleeping position” rule.

I snuggled with Ryan in my sleep.

I have very bad manners when I am on drugs.

And the Winner is...

Tada! Our new home! We made an offer on Wednesday and it was accepted the next evening. We have been back to the house twice since then to show our families. Both times, we left feeling more excited than before.

We learned that the property has mature fruit trees, an herb garden, a very convenient Gold's Gym, and quick highway access (all of which we hadn't realized at the time of purchase).

I love this house because it needs no immediate work, but with time, we can do projects that will make it even more special--like a garage and pretty landscaping. Furniture will come with time, and it will be a fun challenge pinching our pennies to make it happen.

Thanks for being a part of this experience with us! We move in in two months and hope you will come to visit!