The True Story of How I Ended Up At AKA Jane Random’s Son’s Birthday Party

I’m not exaclty sure where this story actually begins, but it goes back at least a few years.

Somehow I stumbled onto the blog AKA Jane Random; my best guess is it was through connections in the old Face 2 Face Improv troupe who also were involved in Sojourn church.

So I start reading AKA Jane Random, and the writer is funny and her kids are real and I can relate.

One day I see a picture of her husband and I’m like “He went to my high school.”

Sure enough, he did, and graduated like 4 years or so before me.

So for the last two or three years I’ve read the blog and followed the Twitter and occasionally will comment back and forth, but that was kind of the extent of it.

Well, a few weeks ago I get an evite to a birthday party for … (are you ready for this) … AKA Jane Random’s son, who just so happens to be in Caden’s first grade class. Is the world small or what?!?

The birthday party is supposed to be out in the middle of nowhere, so we make our plans, RSVP, and were looking forward to the party when … lo and behold, two days before the main event, I run into AKA Jane Random and her husband at the Taste of Huntsville.

Taste of Huntsville is like a big buffet of all the best restaurants in town. Everybody who’s anybody is there, which doesn’t explain why they let me in; it was probably the $30 I paid for the ticket. Anyways, I digress …

I go, introduce myself, talk about how I remembered her husband from high school, how I loved the blog, and how much we were looking forward to the party, yadda yadda yadda.

And I might have tweeted later a heads up, that I was planning to blog about the party.

“Oh, the pressure is on,” she replied.

So, who blogs about some other kid’s birthday party, right?

Well, I thought the story was just too uncanny of two random bloggers, per se, ending up with  kids in the same first grade.

Also, she blogs often about the place where the party was to take place, especially about their annual Cousins Camp, so I felt like I needed to see if this place was really all that, like she was saying.

By the way, this post is centered, in honor of AKA Jane Random, who centers all of her posts.

First, we were like an hour late to the party, so I have no idea what good things we missed in that hour.

When we arrived, there boys running all which of ways and playing in forts and cabins, all built by Paula’s retired dad on this, her grandparents’, massive property.

It was a boy heaven, to be sure.

Trees and forts and tree houses and just room to run. Also, lots of weapons of the Nerf and Star Wars variety. We were there for more than two hours and I hardly saw my sons, except when they wanted cake.


There was a hayride, minus the hay. My son today reminded me of it but called it a pillow ride because all the kids grabbed a pillow cushion to sit on in the wagon behind the tractor.



While the kids were off hay-ridin’ — er pillow-ridin’ — we grown-ups knocked pears out of trees and picked them up.  I had never done this before so it was kinda fun.



The birthday boy had two cakes, both of which I believe were homemade and home decorated by his mom. Note to self: bake my sons’ a birthday cake at some point in their lives. They’ve only ever had store-bought cakes. I feel the need to correct this starting with the next birthday, to be sure.

The cakes were decorated with random boy things like superheroes and tractors and one said “Go Avengers” in sugar letters, except one of the E’s in Avengers was a sideways M.

No one else but me noticed this, I’m sure, and I kinda feel bad that I noticed because I imagine the package of letters only came with one E and Paula had to choose either buy two packages of letters just for a second E or make do with what she had. She probably thought no one would notice and yet here I was noticing.

But here’s why I mention this here: that’s real, real mothering, real-world parenting where packages of letters only come with one E and improvisation comes to the rescue. I love how Paula is not afraid of it.

At one point during the party, I observed from across the porch as she slipped off her shoe and revealed to the mom beside her a huge hole in the heel of her sock. (If she reads this she’s probably dying of embarrassment that not only did I out her sideways M trick but now I’ve told the whole world about her holey socks.

Sorry, Paula. There’s a point coming, I promise.

Upon observing this, I wanted to go over and slip off my shoe too, which would’ve revealed a hole in the toe.

Real moms have holes in their socks.


On the right, in this photo, is Finn hauling a galvanized bucket up to the top of the fort built by Paula’s dad. My boys were so enthralled by the fort they wanted me to tell my dad to build them one.


Finally, this row of baby ducks was in the bathroom window. I have no idea why; I didn’t ask. But I thought they were kinda cute.

Because Every Story Has A Back Story

For five years I’ve written “opinionated thoughts on random topics.”


I’m still opinionated and I’m still random, but as blogs tend to do my blog has morphed somewhat. What I write here isn’t the same as I used to write here. Sometimes it is. The early days were a lot more random and a lot more about Target. I used to say that my blog was the things I would talk to you about if we had lunch. Well, I’m not sure that I have as concise a phrase to define the current content, but I don’t think the old framework works any more either.

I write a lot more now about things I’m reading than I did five years ago, mainly because five years ago I didn’t read as much as I do now. I use my blog to get free books to review, and I review other books (that I don’t get for free) too. I sometimes review movies and music and local businesses and restaurants.

I write more about spiritual matters now and not from the perspective of someone who has the answers — if I’ve learned anything in the last two years it’s that I don’t have all the answers, or really any of them — but as someone who is asking questions.

But the one thing that’s consistent is the back story. You know this is you’ve ever talked to me in person, but if I tell a story it never starts with the here and now but always goes back to some earlier point in time. This post in point — I didn’t just cut to the chase and say “I’m changing my blog subtitle” but instead told the long and drawn out path that led here.

Because every story has a back story.

It’s a Carnival!

20110910-093933.jpgI am part of a blogging consortium called Rocket City Bloggers, even if I’ve yet to make a meeting.

Rocket City Bloggers is a group of Huntsville, Alabama, bloggers who meet once a month to talk about bloggy things and who have so far hosted two blog carnivals. For the carnivals, each blogger writes a post around a theme, and then one blogger “hosts” the carnival by posting links to all the other posts. Then all the bloggers post on their own blogs about the carnival. It’s a way of driving traffic to each others blogs but also (and more importantly, to me) a way of sharing with each others’ readers more cool blogs out there that they may like.

Blog communities are tied by a variety of different bonds, most often content. The Rocket City Bloggers community is tied together by geography.

This month’s carnival theme was the Best of Huntsville. I blogged Home Sweet Home, about my heritage as a native. That turned out to be a quite an interesting approach because so many in the group wrote about what it’s like to be Huntsville transplant. While I was not the lone native in the group, I was the only one who wrote about it from that perspective.

Check out all the posts in the carnival here.

Writing Under Pressure

Comments I like from the blog post “I’ve got 30 minutes to write this post | Live to Write — Write to Live:”

“It’s amazing what time pressure can do for your writing output.”

I wholeheartedly agree. I write much better under deadline pressure than I do when I have all the time in the world. That’s probably rooted in my newspaper days but no real way to know which came first — did my ability to work well under a crunch make me suitable for the writing/newspaper world or did the newspaper world teach me how to write fast? Possibly a combination of both.

“A finished piece gets payment, a perfected, thrice rewritten piece that hasn’t been submitted because you don’t know if it’s good enough – gets you zilch.”

‘Tis also true. The more you read something the more you will see ways to improve it. At some point time needs to be up and what you have is what you go with. Even once it’s published you’ll see ways to improve it but don’t worry about then. Move on to the next project; learn from how that would’ve improved the piece and use it next time.

via The Daily Post at

Bear With Me

I know a lot of my posts the last week or so have been pretty depressing, dealing with leaving my job and the first anniversary of John’s death, which is coming up this Sunday. But please bear with me. I promise my blog will not always be sad and dreary and depressing. Just right now, I’m dealing with stuff, and it helps me to write what I’m thinking and feeling. And maybe it will help someone else sometime going through something similar. Thanks!

Thoughts on “My First Blog”

This post is in response to a Daily Post writing prompt: Why did you start?

I’m a writer, and a writer needs a place to write, so why not the web, right? I can answer that question. My day job pays me to write. No one pays me to write on a blog. But that sounds pretty selfish, so maybe another reason not to blog is that most blogs go unread. Who wants to read what I have to say? Sure, maybe my mom or my husband or my friends. But couldn’t I just cut to the chase and tell them what I want them to know? So maybe I use it a … Read More

via Calluna

This was my first blog post. May 4, 2007. I came back a few years later and wrote why I blog and concluded, “I blog because I feel I have something to say, even if it is saying it to myself.”

In the nearly four years that I’ve been blogging I think I’ve stayed pretty true to that. The content and flavor of the blog has morphed a little, but so have I. I think I’m a better writer and story teller as a result of writing here. I enjoy how multi-faceted the blog is because it’s testimony to me of my own multi-facetedness. I am not one dimensional. My interests and thoughts are all over the place! In a lot of ways this blog is me. It’s a peak inside my head, my thoughts, my struggles, my happy times and my low ones, my loves and my distastes and all the things that make me me.