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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  Writer's Corner - Fan Essays  |  6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
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Author Topic: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More  (Read 3883 times)

Marilyn

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6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« on: April 28, 2010, 10:42:39 PM »
Pamela
Assistant Webmaster
Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« on: June 08, 2004, 07:58:18 AM »   

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“COOL MOM NO MORE”
By Lynn Venhaus

It’s official – I am no longer the “Cool Mom.”

With sons age 16 and 19, my title’s been on precarious ground for a while anyway. But my, um, “fascination” with Clay Aiken for the past year and a half has pretty much sealed the deal.

They are mystified, no make that horrified, as they observe their almost-50 mother plan concert trips, spend entirely too much time on the Internet with her fellow Clay fans and play his music incessantly.

Last season, they were wary of my growing obsession over “American Idol,” but tolerated the TV time, even when I’d call them on a Tuesday evening, running late on a production day at my newspaper job, and ask them to tape the show. They’d reluctantly get off the phone to let me vote for Ruben, Clay and Kimberley Locke.

My youngest son even purchased Clay’s “Measure of a Man” for me as a surprise gift. After hearing too much Clay music in the house, he expressed regret over that act. “I wish I would have never bought that for you!” he said grumpily.

Befuddled, they saw my fandom go over the edge when a friend and I bought tickets to see Clay and Kelly Clarkson in concert March 21. Since then, their eye-rolling and perplexed looks have increased tenfold.

“Well, now we know you’re really gay!” the youngest said. (The youth of today use “gay” as an adjective meaning stupid, awful.) “You know you’re going to be with a whole bunch of teenage girls!” (Little did he fathom the rabid middle-age Claymates!!)

Because their mom often wrote about entertainment, the boys admired that I usually knew what was hot and hip. This is, after all, a mom who owned Beck CDs before they did and who blasted FooFighters’ “Learning to Fly” frequently from her car stereo. Who asked for a DVD compilation of videos by The Police for Mother’s Day.  Who used to watch the MTV Music Video Awards with them yearly and knew who everybody was. Who volunteered to be the parent chaperone so they could attend concerts as youngsters. Who chauffeured them to Blink 182 concerts before they had their driver’s licenses. Who drove them 11 hours to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland when they were 13 and 10.

Their mom had a cool job, they thought. One daily newspaper assignment had me interviewing Deadheads on the passing of Jerry Garcia. As a movie reviewer for nine years, I took them to advance screenings and the “buzz” arthouse movies. They learned who The Coen Brothers were before Harry Potter.

In writing about St. Louis radio for a website and magazine for several years, well-known DJs would routinely call the house and leave messages. They were impressed.

So how could their mother actually like someone as uncool, in their minds, as Clay Aiken?

In trying to look at my fan-girlyness from their perspective, it should not come as a surprise, really. I’ve always been drawn to talent who’s passionate about what they do, whose passion comes through their performances, who express much emotion. The boys once accused me of playing too much Sting and U2, and they’ve heard my stories about a Bruce Springsteen concert being a religious experience. And Clay’s emoting is exhilarating.

They’ve been part of my still-intense Beatlemania, playing my CDs and collecting their own. They know going to Strawberry Fields Forever in Central Park and seeing the Dakota, the site of where John Lennon was murdered, was important to me, and how I would like to return to NYC to participate in a vigil on the 25th anniversary Dec. 8, 2005. They do not find that strange at all.

They know I’m a longtime fan of crooners and balladeers. They’ve heard my Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra CDs. And they’re aware of my show-tune fervor, having spent much time backstage when I directed musicals for schools and community theatre groups when they were younger.

Clay’s music makes me happy. He is a unique, extraordinary talent whose vocal qualities are pure and powerful. His 16-second glory note in “Solitaire” literally gives me chills. Every time he sings, the energy, enthusiasm and emotion captivate me. His growth as a showman and artist has been exciting to witness, and each new performance is even more mesmerizing. His rise to stardom is a fairy-tale, underdog story that interests me in the whole package. How can he sing like that, and then turn into Opie, the boy-next-door with the quick wit and high-pitched giggle, the aw-shucks humility and Southern drawl?

But, my sons do not get Clay at all. Why would they? My eldest listens to Beastie Boys and Wu Tang Clan, my youngest is into bands named Finch, Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail and Hey Mercedes. He plays bass guitar, too, with dreams of making it in a rock band. While music appreciation has been paramount in our family, to expect them to applaud “This Is the Night” and “The Way” is unrealistic. But to accept their mother’s choices would be nice.

I realize I’m no longer up-to-date on what’s cutting-edge, and that’s fine. It’s too much to keep up with, and I don’t have to report on it anyway. Half the bands my sons listen to I’ve never heard of, and that’s the way it should be with parental units. (My mother used to think my constant playing of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Déjà Vu” during high school was excessive!)

Every generation has music to call their own. But another part of Clay’s success story is his cross-generational appeal. And that’s gratifying to see. It doesn’t happen very often in popular culture, and Clay’s ability to sell concert tickets to a broad spectrum of people will keep him in the public eye. So dynamic live, his joy spills over to the audience and that’s simply a pleasure to experience. Even if teen-age boys may not ever understand it. A lot of us fans are hard-pressed to explain our ardent devotion, how it’s grabbed hold of us and become a big part of our lives. But we’re lovin’ it!

My concert-going had trickled to only a few a year. Before Clay and Kelly in March, the last live performance I saw was Todd Rundgren at a small venue in July 2003. Now, I’m planning several Clay appearances this summer. I’ve never seen an entertainer this many times in one year. Well, I did see “A Chorus Line” twice one spring when the first touring company took to the road. But never a concert act. That is about to change. Whenever he goes on tour, I’ll be there.
When I told my youngest that I’d be gone for a weekend or two this summer, he just closed his eyes and shook his head. 

But their putdown of my “Clay” hobby has put me in a strange position. So they don’t think I’ve entirely lost my mind, I am behaving like an addict who won’t kick their habit. I am sneaking around.

Once in the driveway, I take my Clay CD out of the car so if they get in, there’s no evidence. However, after one late night at work, I slipped. When Charlie got in the car the next morning for me to drive him to school, “Invisible” blared.

“You don’t sing along to it when you’re in the car, do you?” he asked, looking at me like I was the biggest dork-loser he’d ever seen. “No!” I shouted back defensively.

On Sunday nights, our family viewing this spring has been “The Simpsons” then “The Sopranos.” Right after the Independent Tour ended, in between the TV shows, I called a friend to tell her about Kelly and Clay’s last performance in St. Paul. Charlie overheard me gushing about how Clay gave Kelly a bouquet of yellow roses during “Open Arms” and then she came out goofing on “When Doves Cry.”

“Are you talking about Clay?!” he said, eyes nearly popping out of his head. “Oh my God! I can’t believe you!” 

In the vernacular of Clay Nation, I needed some fresh Clack. My son owed me a big favor, so I asked him to burn a CD of some Independent Tour concert numbers and other live performances (OK, if I’m going to get busted, let me say RCA that if you would put out a DVD of the concert tour, I’d be first in line to buy it.) Well, my technology-savvy son did it but was not a happy camper.

“I’ve had enough Clay Aiken to last a lifetime! And probably two lifetimes!” he whined as I grappled with what versions of songs to copy.

Wondering if I had the ‘right’ “Open Arms,” he was checking them out and getting upset with me.
“What is with this song?” he said.
“It’s significant to Clay fans because it’s the first song he sang on “American Idol.”
“Oh, I don’t believe you said that! You know way too much about this guy!”

In my defense, I started listing favorite musical acts who I know entire histories about.

“Yeah, but they’re cool!” he retorted.

They do show signs of coming around, a little begrudgingly, though.
I said to Charlie, “You’ve got to admit he’s got a great voice.”
“I’ll give him that,” he acknowledged.

My eldest is a college student currently living at home who works part-time. When he arrives home late at night, he often comes in my bedroom, where my computer is, to say hi and talk. Well, for the past few months, my ritual of checking my e-mail after Letterman has stretched into surfing Clay websites and playing downloaded Clay clips. Nine times out of 10, he walks in, and I sheepishly try to cover up the evidence, turning down the Windows Media Player, but I’m pretty much busted. He just gives me a look.

Why should I feel guilty? If only they could understand how this special group of smart, funny, kind women who share an admiration for a remarkably talented young man has enriched my life.

When I divulged plans to drive to Indianapolis in August to meet up with some of these new friends, I was expecting some trash-talk. I mean, going to a state fair to see Clay? How Squaresville is that in their eyes?

Surprisingly, the eldest said: “I’m happy for you, Mom.”

Eventually, they may get used to this Clay fixation because it’s not going away any time soon. But the “cool mom” status is gone forever.

And that’s OK. My Queen of the Universe title had disappeared when they reached the teen years. (I once walked into the middle school after a dance instead of waiting in the car to pick up Tim. The look of mortification on his face said it all.)

As long as I don’t wear a Clay T-shirt in public and make dinner occasionally, I think they’ll survive.
__________________________________________________________
Lynn Venhaus is managing editor of two weekly newspapers in Illinois, a freelance writer for several publications, and an amateur playwright. She lives in the St. Louis metropolitan area with her two sons and a massive pop culture library. She has taught college courses in journalism, speech and drama. A certified movie nut with deep affection for black-and-white classic cinema and independent movies, she is also a big fan of Stephen Sondheim musicals, stand-up comedians, major league baseball, exploring regional cuisine, road trips and competitive trivia. She can be reached by email at: lzvenhaus@aol.com.[/b]

Copyright 2004 Lynn Venhaus. Printed with the permission of the writer.
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Marilyn

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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 10:47:34 PM »
woodstock854
Global Moderator
 LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2004, 10:40:23 AM »   

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Way to go, Lynn!!!  Just beautiful.  I have tears in my eyes, because I, and almost every one else here shares your same emotions.  You have the gift of being able to put it down on paper.  Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
Woodstock :D
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 10:48:01 PM »
Prissy
 Article by Lynn
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2004, 11:26:48 PM »   

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I thoroughly enjoyed this article and could somewhat relate to it.  I do not have children, but I do have granddaughters.  They have no idea that I am a Clay fan to the extent that I am.  When they are here, they get all of my attention.  I think that during the teen years, parents are "uncool" no matter what the reason is.  The author conveyed humorously but with sensitivity the reactions of her sons to her Clay fandom. How she tries to hide it was funny yet sad at the same time.

Thank you, Pamela, for starting another very thought provoking thread. The WRITER'S CORNER is one I will enjoy perusing.    8)

Prissy
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 10:48:40 PM »
kendall
Guest
  COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2004, 12:28:52 AM »   

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Lynn, That's a great article. I don't have kids at home and so I'm not judged the way you are. I think my daughter and her boyfriend think I've gone off the deep end. When he brought back my computer after doing repairs for 2 weeks (struck by lightning), he said he was tired of looking at Clay on my screensaver. What, just because it's a slideshow of 20 pictures of him?? And this is really wierd. I have a password for windows. I had forgotten it so I was hitting cancel and bypassing it. Chris informed me that he entered "clay" as the password and it was right!!
 
 
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 10:49:17 PM »
LuvMyClay
LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2004, 12:32:26 AM »   

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My teens get embarrased just by the mention of Clay's name.  I have Clay magnets all over my refrigerator.  My 13 year old had a sleepover  the other night, her friends saw all the magnets, and just laughed.  On Clay Day there was NO WAY I was going to wear a Clay T-shirt out with them.  My daughter would not be seen with me under any circumstances.  They both think I've lost my mind, but I think they silently get a big kick out of mom behaving this way. :
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 10:49:47 PM »
mmclay
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  Cool Mom No More
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2004, 02:28:14 AM »   

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This was a fabulous article!!   :)   I too have "kids" that give me interesting comments about my what they call.......ADDICTION.......but I just see it as enjoying a great musical artist!!  At least, that's what I tell them! :  :

Clay is the best thing to happen to me in a long, long time.  I have enjoyed the last year tremendously.  Keep up the good writing Lynn!!

A........I admit it.........ADDICTED........Clay Fan.....big time!!!!! :D  :)   :  :  :
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 10:50:24 PM »
outthereforclay
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  Clay magnets?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2004, 02:38:34 AM »   

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Quote
I have Clay magnets all over my refrigerator.

OMG! NO WAY! Where can I find some? That's all it would take to convince my 12 and 9 year old daughters that their Clay-obsessed mom had indeed LOST IT! :  They've already learned to always have their Walkmans with them when riding in the van...cuz inevitably Clay is on the speakers, babe.....oh yeah! 8)

I MUST have them! :
 
 
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2010, 10:50:45 PM »
savalade
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  LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2004, 09:18:39 AM »   

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That was a great article.  I also have a college age son home for the summer.  He  also thinks I have lost my mind, although he does agree Clay has a great voice.  He thinks I am crazy to see Clay for the second time this summer (although I would like to go to another concert if one is close enough)

On the good side is that I have  26 and  12 year old daughters.  They also love Clay and we all went with one of my sisters to the American Idol 2
tour, the independent tour and will also go with me to the summer concert.

On a funny note is that by 26 year old's husband doesn't get our addicition but he works at Blockbuster and they have been playing The Way everyhour as the trailers for movies are on.

He actually knows the song by heart now.
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 10:51:28 PM »
LuvMyClay
 LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2004, 01:54:00 PM »   

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OutthereforClay..........I actually made the magnets myself. :D   You can buy sheets of magnets and stick them to Clay photo's.  That way you can cut them out any size you want.  I have a bunch more I still need to make of the concert.  Boy, that will really drive my kids crazy!  :  :  :
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2010, 10:51:50 PM »
outthereforclay
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  A day with Clay? No way, he say!
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2004, 08:06:25 PM »   

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Quote
You can buy sheets of magnets and stick them to Clay photo's
Oh, goodie! An art project!

I had to laugh this morning because when I got up and came to the computer, I noticed my husband's keys on the desk. He had already left for work, so I assumed he had taken my keys instead from the key rack.

And I started laughing hysterically. WHY? Because on my ring of keys I have a Clay keychain that I bought at the Independent Tour concert! :

Without going downstairs to check that I was right, I called him at work and asked him  how he got to work without his keys. He told me that he had taken the one car key he needed off my ring. I asked him, "Why'd you do that? DIdn't you want Clay to spend the day with you?"

 :  :
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2010, 10:52:48 PM »
bakersbest
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  WRITER'S CORNER
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2004, 11:36:45 PM »   

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WELL, I DON'T FEEL SO BAD NOW!  I'M 42 AND A CLAY FANATIC.  MY 12 YEAR OLD SON CAN'T BELIEVE THE AMOUNT OF TIME I SPEND SEARCHING THE INTERNET FOR CLAY RELATED ARTICLES. HE THINKS I'M NUTS. :arrow:   I'M GLAD TO SEE I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS KIDS THAT THINK THEY HAVE GONE OVER THE EDGE!  BUT I'M ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE OF IT.  MY MOM (65 YEARS OLD) AND I WILL BE SEEING CLAY IN CONCERT THIS SUMMER AND I CAN'T WAIT~I FEEL LIKE I'M IN HIGH SCHOOL AGAIN. CLAY IS AMAZING
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2010, 10:55:29 PM »
ILClaymate
Guest
  LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2004, 11:52:55 PM »   

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Great article Lynn!!  You are so talented! :   I can't really relate since my son is only 4 (but he is already a Clay fan!) but I know my husband sometimes acts like this!  He will admit that he is a good singer but he still makes fun of me!

Thanks for sharing that with us!!!
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2010, 10:55:56 PM »
Anonymous
Guest
  LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2004, 01:48:41 AM »   

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JAN AKA JANBFORSWEETNOV@AOL.COM

I READ YOUR SITE EVERY SINGLE DAY!  THIS ARTICLE HAS GOT TO BE THE BEST YET!  I'M ACTUALLY OLDER THAN YOU AND ABSOLUTELY LOVE CLAY AIKEN!!!  I HAVE NOT FELT THIS GIDDY AND IN LOVE SINCE I FELL HEAD OVER HEALS IN LOVE WITH PAUL MC CARTNEY!!  CLAY MAKES ME FEEL SO YOUNG AGAIN, A FEELING I LOST ALONG TIME AGO.  HE HAS GIVEN ME SUCH INSPIRATION, I'D LOVE TO JUST GRAB HIM AND HUG HIM OVER AND OVER FOR IT.  I THINK THE LORD WAS LOOKING DOWN ON ALL OF US AND SAID, IT'S TIME FOR A CLAY AIKEN COUNTRY GUY WHO'S A ONE OF A KIND HUNK DREAM BOAT!!!  WITH A MAGICAL VOICE FROM HEAVEN.  I'D MARRY HIM IN A HEARTBEAT!!

I'VE SEEN HIM THREE TIMES IN CONCERT THIS YEAR IN THE FTL., FL AREA, AND SINCE HE IS NOT COMING DOWN TO THIS AREA FOR HIS SUMMER TOUR, I HAVE PURCHASED TICKETS TO SEE HIM IN GREENVILLE, SC.  I WILL BE TRAVELLING APPROX. 12 HOURS TO SEE HIM IN ONE WEEKEND, BUT HE IS WORTH EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF THE DRIVE!!!  HE WILL BE THERE JULY 17TH, AND THEN IN CHARLESTON JULY 18TH.  IF I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO BACK TO WORK ON MONDAY MORNING, I'D GET TICKETS FOR THAT CONCERT ON MY WAY BACK HOME!  HE MAY COME BACK TO OUR AREA AGAIN IN NOV. OR DEC. FOR THE JINGLE BALL CONCERT, AND IF HE DOES--I WILL BE THERE FOR SURE.  I STILL MAY GET TICKETS FOR THE DAYTON, OH CONCERT, AS IT'S A WEEKEND AND I COULD FLY THERE, AS I HAVE FRIENDS IN INDIANA THAT COULD PICK ME UP FOR THE THREE DAY WEEKEND.

MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS HAVE SAID THEY THINK I'VE LOST MY MIND--I DISAGREE, I THINK I FINALLY GOT IT BACK.  I LOST A CERTAIN PART OF ME SEVERAL YEARS AGO, AND CLAY HAS FINALLY GIVEN IT BACK TO ME.  OH, WHAT A JOY THIS YOUNG MAN IS.  LORD, I LOVE HIM!  IF DEMI MOORE CAN HANDLE ASHTON, I GUESS I CAN HANDLE CLAY!!!!

AGAIN, LOVED YOUR ARTICLE.  EMAIL ME IF YOU GET A CHANCE, WOULD LOVE TO SHARE THOUGHTS WITH YOU.

JAN
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2010, 10:57:01 PM »
Pepe
LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2004, 11:56:17 AM »   

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Wonderful reading as usual.  Now I know why you are such a wonderful writer, you write strictly from the heart.  Your boys are lucky to have such a mother as you.
   
             Pepe   :P
   Proud Member of the OCD Support Group
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Re: 6/8/04 Lynn Venhaus: Cool Mom No More
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2010, 10:57:36 PM »
CT loves Clay
 LYNN VENHAUS: COOL MOM NO MORE
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2004, 03:50:00 PM »   

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Wow, Lynn, what a fantastic article.  I think that describes just about most of us that have a family, and for those that don't, it still describes how intense you can get when you have to see, hear or find out what is going on with Clay.  I can definitely relate to all of the concerts.  That's what is great about this site.  Pamela has a thread for every concert Clay has and we can all look at photos, stories, cellcerts and discuss. 

My husband and daughter have excepted it.  My son lives in Boston, but he isn't that crazy about Clay. (like I care anyway)  AT first, I felt guilty too and quickly minimized what I was reading, but then I said, "Why hide it, " as long as I am not on the Black Leather Thread, while he is lurking at what I am reading. :   Of course, I will not let him read what I write either. :

I have been on every site on Claymaniacs for a year, but this one.  Of course, it is fairly new, but I must come over more.  When I am working, I try to sneak and look around, but I can't get through everything.  Then, when I get home, I don't like my  husband to think it's the first thing I want to do, even though it is. Evenings are the best (or when he isn't home at all).  Really, he doesn't care, but I feel I could be doing other things.  I love to read what everyone is writing about OMC.  This is definitely the place to come!!!!!!!!!!  VERY ENJOYABLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Linda
CT
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