Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I just might lose it.

I've never taken part in Shell's PYHO (Pour Your Heart Out) Wednesdays, but I figured I should today. Before I explode. And this will be my last post for a short time, since we are leaving for Idaho tomorrow! Woo-hoo! If I get the chance, I might blog from there, but I'm not counting on it.

It's just been one of those days. You know, the kind where you've procrastinated things all week and decide that you'd do it all in one day--one day before you leave on a ten-day vacation? Or the kind where your kids are unbearably cranky, extra whiny, extra bratty, and cry at the drop of a hat? Those kinds of days suck on their own, but to have them both on the same day is just downright annoying.

I admit that the procrastinating is my fault. I've always been really good at that. I always think I'll have plenty of time in the future to get certain things done, and I'm wrong. Every. Time.

So instead of getting things ready for our trip this week, I've been using my few minutes of free time here and there to rewrite my first manuscript (the one I don't really consider a manuscript at all because of how absolutely horrible it is). I've always loved the characters, but felt a little ashamed of the story, and even more ashamed of the writing. So, I thought, why not rewrite it all, start from scratch?

It's something I just started doing for fun, because of the fact that I'd written it off a long time ago, but now that I'm back into it, and I'm seeing that it actually has some promise with the way I'm rewriting it, it's been hard to step away. It's been hard to find that balance, as it usually is when I'm into something I'm writing.

So that little thing I decided to do for fun has now turned into a passion that fills nearly every moment of my free time, which isn't much. And between that and a screaming baby (which I explain below), I have been a procrastinating whore.

It's a problem. And the first step is admitting it, right?

Anyway, I'm suffering from the consequence today. Here I am, with a massive to-do list and three kids that are driving me BONKERS.

It took me an hour just to fold laundry. Yes, an hour. Because my two-year-old's favorite thing to do is laugh when I pull my hair out and scream destroy a good ol' pile of freshly folded laundry. Twice.

And cleaning up the toys in the family room and their bedroom? Well, that was a two-hour job. After gathering all the puzzle pieces and having the kids put them together again, Josh also decided it would be fun to act like the spawn on Satan throw them all in random directions when I wasn't looking, including, but not limited to, behind the couch, behind the TV, on the shelf, and in the laundry (which was still destroyed at this point).

He also got a kick out of the fact that when I finally got their room clean an hour later (it was absolutely horrific, I tell you) and I put him in timeout, he locked himself in and destroyed everything I just cleaned while I begged from the other side of the door for him to unlock it. (After that episode, I messed around so much with the lock that I accidentally broke it disabled the lock on their door to prevent future episodes.)

And perhaps the most horrifying of all is that I have an almost-six-month-old who is the most high-maintenance individual I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. And people, I promise I'm not over-exaggerating this one. I am literally at my wit's end. If there is anyone out there who has a baby like this, any pointers will be helpful!

The constant soundtrack to my day (unless I am holding him) is a high-pitched scream that makes my head hurt. He cries ALL. THE. TIME. And I don't know why. I love the baby to death--really. He is so cute and fun and when I'm holding him, he is pleasant and happy and oh-so-kissable.

But I put him down and it's like I'm dealing with a starving, neglected, raging demon. (Those of you who are judging me for my word choice, come to my house for an hour and you will share the same opinion, I promise you.)

There is something about that screaming that not only hurts my head, but makes me grumpy, on edge, and triples the stress in the air. It makes me not want to do anything during the day (which is why I procrastinate in the first place) because listening to that in the background is torture. It's in the background to everything I do. EVERYTHING.

Doing the dishes: screaming. Sweeping/mopping the floor: screaming. Bathing the two older boys: screaming (and of course the crying from my older kids because they hate water). Giving my older kids lunch: screaming.  Disciplining my older kids: screaming. Dealing with an unruly, whiny child: screaming. Trying to unlock the children's door while pleading and nearly crying myself on the other end: screaming.

And it's not just the screaming that's getting to me, but the nursing, too. I've never enjoyed nursing with Luke. Never. And that is really sad to me. He's a miserable nurser. He squirms and fidgets the whole time, not to mention claws. I have scratches and abrasions all over my boobs, ribs, and chest because he doesn't know how to lay calmly when he eats. I have to use one hand to hold the boob in place (it comes out if I don't, thanks to the pulling, the squirming, etc.) and the other to try and keep his hands down.

And part of his behavior is out of habit, I think, since in the first few months of his life he suffered with my over-active letdown problem. But now it's just irritating. And it saddens me to say that I can't wait until he's older, when I'm ready to wean him.

So, you may be asking to yourself, why is she blogging if she has so much to get done?

And the answer is because I want to. Simple as that. I needed a break, the baby is asleep, and it's quiet.

Ah, that quiet.

And I'm tired. I'm tired of a fussy, needy baby, and I just want him to be happy. So there's my venting for the week.

And I just want to add that as I type, I can hear Josh throwing all the toys out of the drawers in his room again. For the third time. After the two hours his mom has spent cleaning it. He is supposed to be asleep.

And I'm just too tired to care now. It's why I don't clean on a usual basis.

Did I mention I'm tired?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear awkward, naive, sixteen-year-old self...

You know how you've always liked to write long, meaningful letters? Well, here's what one from the future looks like:

It's been quite a crazy and rewarding twelve years. You actually ended up where you hoped you would be: the wife to a wonderful, supportive, and faithful husband, and the mother to three fantastic children. It was all you ever wanted, really, since you could never put your finger on what you actually wanted to do with your life.

But even though you got what you wanted, be aware that you veered pretty far off the course to get there.

And you know what, past self? Though those certain obstacles and "bad" decisions in our life delayed the rewarding outcome, don't regret them. Because all our mistakes and life experiences--difficult and joyous--have made us who we are today. And we are pretty proud of that.

So, live life. Make the mistakes you will at one point regret. Because without them, you won't have a full understanding or appreciation for the Savior and His atonement. You won't have the life experience and character you now have. And you might not even have the open-minded view you now own.

One thing to look forward to: You realize you're pretty healthy after all, even after the Epstein Bar and depression episodes. You have a great immune system and can actually handle sleepless nights with a tinge of grace.

You love to run (imagine that), and you actually have your own sense of style. I know, that's hard to believe, isn't it? But you now know how to match, what styles do and don't fit your body type, and you only wear what makes you comfortable--not what you think you should wear.

Plus, there's a great show called What Not to Wear, from which you've learned a few helpful lessons.

Though you'll still have a hard time with it, you will learn how to say "no" to people and be slightly less of a pushover. Only slightly though. Maybe in twelve more years from now, forty-year old us will say it's not a problem at all.

You're not a singer, like you always wished you could be. In fact, your singing glory days were in high school, unfortunately. You haven't even sang in church in years, though you wish to. But you do still have that embedded passion for music. It still moves you in a way that nothing else can. Be proud of the fact that that's always been inside of you. In fact, don't feel embarrassed about any of the things that move you.

Despite your fears of what kind of a mother you'll be, especially because of your distaste for children, know that you will actually be a pretty great mom. There will be times when you won't feel like it, but you are. And you will love them without even trying. You'll love your kids, you'll actually know how to wear the mommy pants, and you'll be proud of it.

And you're proud to wear the wife pants, too. Sometimes they're old, dirty sweats (more times than we care to admit), and sometimes they're a little more appealing. Sexy even. I know, it's not a word in your vocabulary yet because you can't comprehend such an idea, but you will learn it's just one more thing that makes you, you.

Don't be afraid of intimacy, in any light.

And don't be afraid of sex. I know, you will blush when reading this because you aren't very open-minded about the idea, but that will change. There's nothing to fear. And it's actually pretty great.

Your husband loves you a great deal, and believe it or not, he finds you pretty desirable. He even claims he is the luckiest man in the world. And though you will not understand or believe him, take in his compliments.

Oh, and enjoy your smooth stomach while you have it. Because one day, after children, there will be nothing there but saggy, stretch-marked skin. But you will also be grateful because of what those scars have earned you. Your children are your life. And though they take on some of the traits you hate in yourself, you love it in them.

You will learn how to cook. Don't be so afraid of it. Your husband will give you all the pointers for a good foundation when you get married, and from there, you'll teach yourself. And half the time, you'll actually be quite decent at it.

Now, here's something you might not want to hear: you are still strangely proportioned, physically awkward, and uncoordinated. I know you hoped and daydreamed of one day growing into your long arms and legs, and maybe even getting better hair and a longer neck. But it doesn't happen.

In fact, sometimes you will feel even more uncoordinated than you once were. And you'll blame that on the beautiful children. You will hear this a lot in life, but it's true: pregnancy and raising children makes you scatter-brained.

Did I mention you have amazing, beautiful, strong-spirited children? Three boys, who will drive you nuts but make you feel like the most important, blessed girl on the planet. And that list you made with all the qualities you want in a future husband? You got them.

Well, all of them except the height. You don't marry someone tall. Sorry.

But his strengths will more than make up for it. He will see in you what you will still be struggling to see in yourself years down the road. And you are still very in love three children and eight years of marriage later.

So don't fret so much over the boy who broke your heart. No, he is not your future husband. No, you don't really love him. Yes, you will be happily married one day. And no, the cares and stresses you are experiencing now are not the most dire problems you will ever experience.

Don't worry so much about what other people think, please. The girls with Abercrombie & Fitch plastered to their perfect bodies don't know crap about what makes a girl special.

But you do. You know your divine heritage, and that you are a special, beautiful daughter of God. You know this. So please remember it, and let it fill you with confidence. Enjoy yourself and stop worry about the little things!

Oh...and pay better attention in math. We both know it's not our strong suit, but that doesn't mean you don't have to try.

And, confused, self-conscious girl: you will find your passion someday. You might not find it until later in life, after you've had your first child, but be aware of it. Recognize that your love for literature, English, poetry, and art stems from your destined purpose to write.

Yes, you are a writer. And it will be hard for you to call yourself that sometimes, because feeling inadequate is what you're best at, but you are a writer. Even without a degree, awards, or published work. Finally, you will find something you're good at, something that makes you feel special and passionate.

And thanks in partial to something called "blogging," you will be able to let your voice be heard. You will be able to pour your heart out and say what you really mean. You will find just who you are.

You have a lot to look forward to. Soak up every memorable moment in your life. Soak up the love that comes your way, and learn what you can from the hatred. You will be proud of who you become. You will realize one day that you wouldn't trade a thing in your life. And you will find yourself thanking God everyday for the path He's put you on and the people He's blessed you with in your life.

The things your future self is most proud of:

  • The beautiful creations that are your children
  • A happy, healthy family life
  • You've written three novels
  • You gave childbirth naturally (with no pain medication) to two of your children and now feel like you can accomplish anything as a woman

Lastly, love yourself. I can't say it enough. Love yourself even when all you can do is hate yourself, because you will need all the practice you can get for later in life, when you realize you never really did. So throw me a bone, sixteen-year-old me, and just love yourself.

Slightly-less-self-conscious, twenty-eight-year-old me

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning Bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "A Letter to You."

Write a letter to yourself at age sixteen. What might you tell your sixteen year-old self? Would you warn yourself not to make a certain mistake? Would you ask yourself to treasure being young? Would you tell yourself how much you've changed?


Thanks, for the idea, Allison! Check out what she's grateful for at Mama Wants This

I figured I needed a little gratitude on this blog. Especially since my last post generated comments like, "Someone's having a bad day..." and "Are you serious?" My mom even asked me if I really drank margaritas. I laughed. No, I don't really drink margaritas, or read romance novels.

I just write them.

(Again, a joke. Kind of.)

So, besides the givens, like my family, here's what I am especially grateful for this week. It's the little victories, right?

  • Matt Nathanson's song, Little Victories. Pun intended.
  • Josh saying more words and making communication that much easier. He's even started putting two words together!
  • Reassuring comments from his speech therapist on just how great he's going. Plus, she says we are her favorite.
  • New recipes.
  • Air conditioning.
  • The news that we will be going to Idaho next week, therefore getting me out of Bagdad.
  • Ashley sending William home. Seriously, grow up, little boy. (Bachelorette is my guilty pleasure. No matter how irritating Ashley is.)
  • The accumulated seven hours of sleep I had last night--almost double what I usually get.
  • The sprinkler, because it gets Sam outside for hours each day. And I loooove the break love that he can get time in the sunshine.
  • That Josh is even thicker in the chest than he was last week. It makes snuggling and hugging him SO much fun! He's my little football player.
  • My Mag07 came in the mail. Maybe I will actually get to enjoy eating again!
  • One of my manuscripts was returned by mail, meticulously edited by a friend.
  • Chubby, rolly baby thighs.
  • Master Chef, because it has inspired my husband to want to learn to cook something really well. And that means I might get a night off cooking.
  • Oreos.
  • Finding cute matching shirts for all three boys at Target...ON SALE!
  • That the bug man sprayed our attic. One more obstacle for scorpions.
  • Luke's screechy velociraptor laugh.
  • A husband who is understanding when he gets home from work and it looks like nothing has gotten done.
  • The mom and writing blog communities, and all the wonderful posts I get to read every day, from wonderful, funny, talented people that make me feel not so alone!
  • Baby feet.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Red Writing Hood: a flash.

*Post inspired by this week's TRDC Red Writing Hood: "Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE."

Flash Fiction. Eek. Not sure if this fits all the plot elements that are supposed to be creatively fit into flash fiction, but here's a pretty good short story within my story (The Exception) using "Life" as the inspiration (in 292 words, to be exact).

In past posts from this novel, Elanor was an adult, but as you'll see from this excerpt, Sam was with her as a child as well.

For the other two posts about Elanor, Sam, and even the protagonist, Jamie, click here (Happy Non-end) and here (Beauty Downfall).

Elanor’s seven-year-old stare was intent.  “I know you’re him, Sam—our guardian.”
Sam paused, stunned she knew so much.  With her hand still in his, they stopped walking and he looked down on her, into the eyes he’d do anything for—even if it meant living a miserable eternity as an immortal.  He’d never thought of himself as a guardian, only someone put in place to oversee.  But the gnawing reminder of how he’d veered off that course once before made the title seem fitting, even in his failures.  And now he was doing it again.
“Are you an angel, Sam?”
He chuckled.  “I don’t think so.  Not the last time I checked, anyway.”
“What are you then?”  Her freckled brow pulled together and her pink, full lips nearly pouted.  It was her traditional display of frustration and he tried not smile.
“I know you trust me, Lanor, so do you think you can keep trusting me, even though I can’t tell you everything?  Just know that I will always be around to make sure you’re safe, because that’s why I’m here.”
She lowered her eyes, and her shoulders.
He put his finger under her chin and raised it toward him.  “And it’s not because I don’t think you’ll understand.  It’s because I don’t know how much I’m allowed to tell you.  But I know that because you are so grown-up, you will understand that.  You will know that sometimes, that’s the way life works.”
Her eyes softened, his words lifting her shoulders.
“Besides,” he lightheartedly continued as he started forward again, “don’t you think the secret makes our friendship extra special?”
She smiled again, the beginnings of another tooth slowly filling the gap from a month ago.  “Yeah,” she dreamily replied.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself.

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "List 10 things you wish you could say to strangers who share unsolicited advice about your parenting skills."

Beware, all. Remember, this post is things I wish I could say. So they might be mean. But that's why I don't say them. I also thought it was funny that after I made this list, I realized that a lot of this stuff is centered around Walmart. I guess that's when I get the most unsolicited advice.

  1. "What are you looking at?" Yes, I notice your daggers when I'm walking through the store with a baby, toddler, or child (or all three at once) throwing a temper tantrum. You don't have to say anything, because your old, judgmental eyes say it all. What do you want me to do--beat them? I would, trust me. I'd spank those little bums in public if I knew I wouldn't get reported to child services. So instead, my threats of spanking them "when we get home" will have to do.
  2. "Yes, high fructose corn syrup is bad!" I know you think that because we had it when we were little and we're all still alive that it's okay, but they didn't have the research they did back then. It really is one of the worst things we can ingest into our bodies (and I know because we have done research and know the effects). And I want my kids to be healthy. I know, I'm horrible for letting him miss out on pop-drinking at age two. He just might have to go to a support group for it someday.
  3. "Wait...where's your kids? Oh yeah...YOU DON'T HAVE ANY!" So until you do, please stop acting like you know anything about what it's really like to have and raise a child. I promise you, they're not that easy to control.
  4. "My kids watch TV. So kill me." You say they might end up mindless, ADD children, but I say that my son learned his ABC's from Brainy Baby videos when he was fourteen months old and learned how to count to ten in Spanish from Dora when he was eighteen months old (Though I do loathe Dora). So, no, I don't feel guilty for using the TV as a babysitter when I'm in desperate need to get something done. Like dishes, or showering, or laundry. Or sitting on my back porch with a margarita and a romance novel. Ha!
  5. "No, ma'am, my baby isn't hungry. No, ma'am, I'm not neglecting my child." So maybe only the first sentence applies, but when my baby is crying hysterically and you ask me if he is hungry, isn't that what your saying anyway--that I need your helpful prompt to remember that I have a baby in need of me? Lay. Off. He's tired, sick of being in his car seat all day (because to go anywhere we have about three hours of driving time), and basically cries every time I'm not holding him. So if one more old maid in Walmart asks me if my baby is hungry, I'm going to punch you. Okay, maybe not. I'll probably just smile and shake my head, but know that inside, I want to punch you.
  6. "Don't talk to me until you do your research." Because I promise you, I have. And I know I'm doing what's best for my children. Even if that's different than what's best for yours. Even if that means you think they're disease-infested, germ spreading children because they're on an alternate vaccine schedule.
  7. "Yes, dummy, breast is best." I don't judge anyone for their decision not to breastfeed, and I understand not everyone can--heck, I couldn't breastfeed my first child. So don't tell me I'm not doing what's best by nursing my child. Because, really...your argument sucks. Other than your claim that I need to put myself first and take care of me, and get more sleep at night so I can enjoy my children more during the day, you have nothing to back it up. And I'm sorry I put my baby before me. I'm a mom. I nurture. I nurse. That's what me and my boobs were made for, and that's how I love it. So, lost sleep, sore nipples, and all, I won't stop. And going off of that...
  8. "Since when did you become a lactation consultant?" Yes, I have tried everything, and I mean everything, to nurse my baby (speaking of my first). That includes countless nurses, grandmas, aunts, and three real lactation consultants. And everyone was stumped. I spent hours and countless hours up in the night and meeting with people to try to get my baby to nurse. He hated it, no matter how many tears I spilled and how many prayers I prayed--so I could be the mom I wanted to be. So I didn't feel like a failure. In fact, after six weeks of constant refusal from him, I pumped all day, every day, until he was six months old, just so I could feel like I was doing what was best. So do not tell me that you have the magical solution. Because I guarantee I've heard it and tried it. And no, they will not just give in when they get hungry enough. I promise you. And I will not let my child suffer from malnutrition. Just because your babies were good nursers doesn't mean everyone's baby can be.
  9. "Talk to me when you have a fussy, high-needs baby." Until then, don't even pretend to know what it's like. It's great your children are angels, sleep when, where, and how you want them to, and are happy laying by themselves, but letting my baby "cry it out" isn't going to change a damn thing. No, I did not make him this way by "loving him too much." My kids have been high maintenance since the second they came out of my lady parts. Baby, they were born this way.
  10. "You're right...I am too stupid to realize my child is danger!" Thank you so much for telling me he might fall out of the grocery cart. I don't know what I would do without your eyes. After all, I'm just a mindless breeding machine with a baby wrapped to her chest, a child sitting in the front of the cart, another child in the back, and every other inch of space occupied with groceries. 
Oh wait...I just realized my child is standing because I told him to.  
Because I don't have four arms and can't push two carts to carry all the millions of groceries I buy, and because of those millions of groceries there just isn't enough room for him to sit, and because I live an hour and a half from the nearest Walmart and have to stock up on groceries on the rare occasion I get to go, and because I have to make these long, obnoxious trips to town by myself, and because I don't want my kids to run away from me in the grocery store (I swear, if I did let him out of the cart, he'd be gone in a second)... And because, because, because...
I do what I can. Even if that means one of my children will stand in the back and hold on. 
But what do I know? I'm just a mindless breeding machine.

Whew. Felt good to get that out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

So maybe it's not exactly wordless, but because I don't have a long, gushing story this time, I'm not calling it Wordful Wednesday. There's not really much I have to say about this picture. The caption says it all.

And my heart swells when I look at it.

This is my most favorite picture I have ever taken, of Sam and Dave about two years ago.

Love, love love.

"Lead me, guide me, walk beside me; help me find the way..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I eat my words. With Sweet & Salty Chex Mix.

*Post inspired by the TRDC RemembeRED prompt, "It's a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt:  The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing."

The first time I drove my minivan....after swearing I would never own one.

And I mean swore. It actually made me a little queasy to see a young mom hauling around her kiddos in a minivan. It reminded me of my mom (nothing against Mom). It reminded me of the times in high school I got made fun of for driving hers. So I said that no matter how many kids I had, I would never drive one. I'd get an SUV first, no matter the higher cost.

Well, the cost is higher. And I didn't have kids then, who cost an arm and a leg to raise. Literally, I payed for diapers in legs last time.

Okay, maybe not literally.

And when baby number three was on his way and we finally accepted the harsh reality that three car seats just would not fit in our tiny, gas-efficient Saturn, we put our logic goggles on and I realized it was that time. That time to fit into the soccer mom stereotype (even though my kids don't play soccer). It was unavoidable now, especially if we didn't want to pay a fortune for the extra gas and insurance that would come with an SUV.

And after hours of research, test drives, annoying, pushy spawns of Satan car salesmen, we finally found her.

I say her because she truly is a part of our family.

Four hours, fourteen signatures, and two new sets of keys later, I pulled her off of that lot, blasting her beautiful, refreshing "Max AC" in the armpit we call Phoenix and something flipped inside me. The rear AC for the kiddos, the smooth ride, the horse power (hey, it was like a Viper after the put-put Saturn we had), the satellite radio, the little mirror that lets me see all my kiddos and what they're doing, all the extra space, the comfortable seats, the leg room, the middle console I could conveniently keep my Sweet & Salty Chex Mix on...

I was a believer.

And I realized I had never enjoyed driving any of my previous vehicles more than her.

And that was when that shiny, maroon 2009 Kia Sedona became my baby.

(Okay, not really my baby. More like an adopted pet or something.)

And I am proud to say I am a minivan mom.

Monday, June 20, 2011

He never fails to please.

See that little cut on Sam's chin?  That's what happens when a four-year-old thinks they need to shave just like Daddy does. It doesn't matter how many times you tell him not to get into Daddy's raiser because of how dangerous it is, or that if he does he might die we might need to rush him to the hospital.

Oh, and he's also convinced he needs to wear deodorant now, too. Old Spice. On his forearms no less.

And you want to see what happens when I leave him alone with Luke for five minutes?

Yes, those are stickers. I should have known he was up to something when I heard his jaunty laughter from the other room. Poor Luke had no idea he was being made a mockery.

Even though I want to ring his neck sometimes (like when I look out the window and see him with his pants around his ankles, peeing in the backyard for the fifth time, even though I told him NOT to pee outside), I really do love the entertainment Sam provides. So here are some more Samisms:

The other day we had a babysitter watching the kids for an hour while I tried to have my hairdresser fix the hopeless mess of crap on my head my hair, and she asked him just how smart he was:

Sam: I'm smarter than my dad.
Katie: What about your mom? Are you smarter than your mom?
Sam (enthusiastically shaking his head): No!

Ah, I've taught him well. (Happy Father's Day, honey.)

A few days later, he and Josh were going all throughout the house, getting in trouble wherever they could, and I noticed that Sam was the one persuading Josh to do all the "bad" things. I don't know if you've seen that show on Discovery called Dual Survival, but this is on quite a bit in our house since it is Dave's favorite. And Sam is always saying how "awesome" those guys are.  So when I got after him, Sam's exasperated reply was, "Mooooom! Me and Josh are playing Discover guys!"

He also likes to play Dave's X-Box 360 game, Black Ops (Don't judge), and we get a kick out of watching him intentionally try to kill himself. Jumping off cliffs and roofs, running into a pack of dogs. Or my favorite, facing a wall and then throwing a bomb at the wall so he is killed in the blast. He laughs almost harder than I have ever seen him laugh.

A bit deranged you say? Well, we find it absolutely endearing.

He loves to exercise on the "Beliptical" (elliptical), too--even though his tiny string bean legs can barely reach the pedals all the way around--and gets mad if we try taking the remote and interfering.

Hmm. Maybe he gets that from someone.

And when he cut himself on the leg the other day and I asked if he was okay, he soberly assured, "It's okay, Mom. I'm not dead."


I love my son and all his little quirks, and that he eats Oreos slowly by pulling them apart, licking off the frosting, and then eating the "bread part." And how he does "letters" on my laptop. We spy on him when he does, laughing so hard at the way he tries to type like Mommy and sings Rolling in the Deep as he does.

I can't wait until Josh talks more so that I can start posting "Joshisms" as well. For now it's still just the cute tone of his voice when saying certain things, like "Thank you" and "Yeah."

Rockin' The Baby Bumps

*Post linked to Shell's "Rockin' the Bump" post at Things I Can't Say.

I was always the pregnant one who would get told things like, "It looks like you swallowed a basketball!" or "Man, you're huge!" or "You're about to pop!" and my favorite (especially on my third)...

"Are you SURE you're not having twins?!"

This was especially uplifting when I'd get this comment in my second trimester.

And just like how all my labors were completely different with each child, I carried them all differently, too. But mostly, having practically no torso, the only way the baby had to go was straight out.

Here's me in labor with Sam, my first. This was right before we left for the hospital.

Here's me at about six months with my second, Josh. I know, I was huge for six months. And no, I don't have any other pictures of me later in the pregnancy. I wasn't as keen on taking baby bump pictures with my second and third.

And this is at about 8 months with my third, Luke. I wish it was a little more sideways so you could see just how much I actually stuck out, but I was huge. I promise.

And just so that everyone knows, you do get bigger quicker with each pregnancy. Just an example, this is me at 8 weeks with my third...YES, EIGHT WEEKS!

Did I mention how much I loved the twin comments?

Friday, June 17, 2011


*Post inspired by the TRDC Red Writing Hood prompt, "Physical Beauty." (Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait.)

This one is difficult, only because of the content of the scene I am posting. It's another excerpt from my unpublished novel, The Exception. I thought that since both my main characters are physically beautiful, I would have oodles of scenes to choose from, but after scanning over it, it turns out there's really only one scene that displays how she is actually impacted by it.

Not only may it be an uncomfortable scene for some to read, but you will be confused by some things going on and left wondering why this villain is after her, who his uncles are, etc. So apologies for any confusion. One thing you may gather from this, and my last Red Writing Hood post, is that Sam is, in a way, Elanor's guardian. There isn't much more I can explain without giving away more of the plot than I'd like. So here it is, in just under 600 words.

(For another post about Sam and Elanor, visit my last Red Writing Hood post here.)

And feel free to critique! 

Elanor backed up as Jamie approached, his hands mysteriously behind his back.  He gave her the once-over, a glimmer of male instincts getting the best of him.  Flicking his tongue, he said, “They never told me how stunning you are.  Killing you might be difficult.”  He paused, his smile growing mischievous.  “Then again, it might make it that much more enjoyable.”
She swallowed hard, unable to remove her eyes from his.  “They?  You mean your puppet masters?”
Briefly faltering, anger flashed across his face.  “What do you know of my uncles?”
Uncles?  Is that what they told you?”
Jamie paused before smiling in enlightenment.  “What they told me is that Sam may have gotten to you.”
Elanor stopped when the edge of Sam’s bed was against her calves.  “Did they also tell you what they are?  Or that Sam will stop at nothing to see your death?”
Jamie chuckled condescendingly.  “You’ll both be dead before he even knows I’m here.”
She stayed frozen as he slowly approached, her voice wavering as she warned, “He’ll be back any minute.”
“Not if our boy Matt does his job.”  Jamie looked thoughtfully to the side as he removed a large machete from behind his back, inspecting the blade dramatically.  “I will have to thank your sorry excuse of a bodyguard for his impeccable weapon choice, though.”
Elanor’s heart skipped into a panic as a flash of her nightmare played in her mind, the only difference to now being the location.
“Get on your knees,” he calmly commanded.
She barely shook her head, still immobile from his strange, captivating draw.
Get on your knees!” he shouted, losing every ounce of his poise.
Startled, Elanor slowly did as he commanded, kneeling before him.  His figure blurred as she looked up at him in a begging manner.  “Please, Jamie,” she shakily whispered.  “You don’t have to do this.”
A corner of his heart twitched when gazing into her wide hazel eyes, her beauty strangely magnified by the moisture that glazed them.  Surely, this woman couldn’t be a threat to his family, as his uncles had told him.  He ran his fingers into her chestnut hair in a moment of hesitation, her beauty nearly hypnotizing him.  He couldn’t remember wanting someone so badly in years.
Elanor shivered as Jamie’s hand cradled her head and pushed it into his thigh.  His warn jeans smelled of gasoline and cigarette smoke.  Closing her eyes, she let the tears drop freely.  “You can walk away,” she gently cried.  “You can leave.”
He clenched his jaw, remembering another warning from his uncles.  Her beauty is a ruse, her existence an abomination.  They knew his weaknesses, knew him better than he knew himself.  They’d known the path his mind would wander.  He’d dropped his guard by letting her get to him, and now he would get to her.  “Take off your shirt,” he quietly ordered.
She stiffened, pushing away from him.
She shook her head in haste, her eyes pleading with him yet again.
He gripped her hair tightly, yanking her head back as he bent to her level.  “That shit isn’t going to work on me.  This plan has been in place for generations.  You think I’m going to let you throw me off?!”
“You already have,” she warily countered, closing her eyes through the burning in her scalp.  Wincing, she opened them again when his grasp tightened.  “Why prolong it?  Just kill me.  That’s what they wanted you to do, isn’t it?”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ode to Camping

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "Share a summer camp memory."

My chic camping look. "No pictures, please."
This writer's workshop was more difficult for me. I hard a hard time coming up with anything, for all five prompts, so this is the one I picked. And I'm not really sharing a specific camp memory because I have way too many to choose from, and one of my most memorable wasn't even from the summer. It was a winter camping trip I took with my husband (then my fiancé), my brother, and a friend. It was memorable because it was quite possibly the most scared I have ever been in all my life. 

And when I say scared, I mean I was actually fearing for my life. 

Because thanks to my brother and fiancé, I was lead to believe I was being hunted by a dangerous predator. Just as I was praying my final repentances before meeting my maker, I learned the predator was actually John and Dave...hiding behind the tent and making the most real-sounding growls and purrs I'd ever heard.

Let's just say I didn't speak a word to either of them the rest of the miserable (yes, it was miserable. I don't recommend winter camping) camping trip, minus the few words I couldn't avoid here and there, like "bastard," "son-of-a-bitch," and "the marriage is over" simple yeses and nos.
This is me sulking in my sleeping bag (I was also freezing) instead of posing with Dave for a picture. He was probably thinking "What am I getting myself into?"

So, instead of delving into the nail-biting details of that story, I'm taking on a different tactic. And though I have many many summer camp memories--some from actual church summer camp when I was a teenager and some from summer camping trips with family, and some from the winter (see the snow in the background of the first picture above?)--I decided to just share one picture per memorable camping trip I've taken as an adult, most taking place when we lived in Idaho.

At Yellowstone National Park the first year of our marriage

This was the camping trip Dave got 42 mosquito bites...just on his back. This was the 2nd year of our marriage. And isn't the backwoods version of my hubby cute?

This is one of the camping experiences I contemplated blogging on. It was our 3rd year of marriage (I was pregnant with Sam) and our old buddies, Steve and Jillian Holiday (Steve is my amazingly talented friend who is graciously editing my MS), and us decided to go huckleberry picking, but ended up spending half the day picking the wrong berries. This picture shows our bliss before we realized that. I have another blog post about it here, but beware: the post was written two years ago and my writing skills were absolutely horrific.

Camping with our old friends and quite possibly our favorite camping buddies, John and Jess Vrabec! Yes, that plaid woodsman on the left is Dave. He likes to look the part when we camp.

This was our only Arizona camping trip, with Brand and Tiffany Stewart and Nick and Destiny Bolinger. It was also Dave's first paintball experience. Tiff, Brand, Nick, and Dave. How we miss these guys.
This was from the same camping trip. Sam was tiny and oh-so cute. And this was the last camping trip I've ever taken. It's been three years, people...three YEARS! I am desperate to go again. But the little brats I've popped out kiddos are 100% worth the wait.

These next 3 photos are from the camping trip with the most amazing landscape I've ever taken. It was another winter/spring camp-out taken when Dave and I were dating (Yes, just dating, since it was between our two engagements. Yes, two engagements). We went with my brother, John, again, and our friend, Andy, to the sand dunes in Southern Colorado. Pretty darn amazing, if you ask me. It was cold, but oh-so fun.

We were mere children.

They were competing for me. Just kidding.
Another camp-out in Idaho, the first year in our marriage. This was in the fall. And the fall in Idaho may as well be the winter.

In front of Mesa Falls (believe it or not, it's not in Arizona), the 2nd year of our marriage.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordful Wednesday: Davenport Zoo

*Linked to Angie and Amanda's Wordful Wednesday.

This is another VERY wordful Wednesday. I have a lot going on, and a lot of pictures. So sue me. First up is our trip to the Phoenix Zoo we took two weekends ago while Dave's sister, Jenni, was staying with us. Unfortunately, she isn't in any of these pictures. 

More pictures--that include her--will be in next week's Wordful Wednesday post (due to the fact that they are on my other computer)!

It was a fun day, but extremely hot and sweaty. Extremely. Not only were the animals all hiding, but my kids were agitated, too. Even Sam, who started out excited, just wanted to get out of there by the end. That is, until we got to the water park.

I wish I got more pictures of Sam in the water park, but I was too busy sitting in a pool of my sweat nursing the baby.

I don't know who this kid came from, but Josh absolutely HATES water. He was roasting hot, yet still screamed bloody murder when we made him get wet.

The next event I will limit to one picture. Sam had his T-Ball closing ceremonies about two weeks ago, and he was pretty proud of his trophy. And I'm pretty proud of the unknown butt in the background my mad photographer skills.

Random Cuteness...

Watching Team Umizoomie--my best friend when I need to get something done. And don't even ask what Josh was doing, because I don't know.

Lastly, I had to capture this beautiful enigma growing in our crab grass lawn.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


*Post inspired by the TRDC RemembeRED prompt, "Affection." (Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection stands out, and show us.)

Never had physical touch meant more to me. What if I never got the chance to touch my baby again, while life still flowed through his veins and his soul still resided in his new, perfect, cherub-like body?

The last hour had been Hell. The worst Hell I'd ever experienced as a mom, and I could only pray I'd never experience worse. We do all in our power to protect our children from the millions of threats in this scary, uncertain world, and all it took was five minutes without my attention. Five minutes for that little intruder to make its way into our kitchen and attack my baby as though he was the one trespassing.

They call them "bark" scorpions, and they are everywhere in Bagdad, Arizona. We usually spray on a monthly basis, but sometimes we go longer. Sometimes we miss a month because, really, what could go wrong?

Well, everything went wrong. And I will never miss a month again.

It stung my child on his finger, and when he first started screaming, I knew what it was, even though I couldn't see it. And there it was, hiding under his toys. I was worried, but because I'd heard scorpion stings weren't much worse than a wasp sting, I let him cry. And cry.

But he wouldn't stop, and I grew extremely worried.

Especially when he started trembling. He'd started seizing as soon as we got him to the Bagdad clinic--the last place equipped for this. His tiny, eighteen-month-old body jolted around in my arms, and I didn't understand how it could be so bad. But I later learned that the poison attacks the nervous system in bodies so small, and would attack it for over twenty-four hours if we let it.

I'd held him tight, my tears wetting his white-blond hair, while he moaned and his limbs moved about uncontrollably. They'd told me to hold his arms down, keep him tight, and I was in shock. In shock that I had to do such a preposterous thing.

Please, God, I'd prayed. Please heal my baby. I'd passed my love--strong enough to move a mountain--into him, telling the universe to make him better.

But it didn't.

An hour later the helicopter finally came to fly him to Phoenix Children's, because they were the best equipped for the situation. His seizing was worse, his eyes in the back of his head, and they'd taken him from my arms. They'd burned, and so did my chest, and my round, pregnant belly felt more sick than it ever had. They told me his daddy should ride in the helicopter with him because it wasn't safe for a pregnant mother.

So I'd sobbed again, my soul in anguish and my heart throbbing. 

And the 2.5 hour drive to Phoenix was the most painful 2.5 hours in all my life.

Please, I cried out loud, I will never complain about having to hold him again, I swear. I will never complain that he needs me too much. My arms were empty and I craved--more than I'd ever craved anything--his affection. His arms snug around my neck, his laugh in my ear. 

Please, give me at least one more opportunity to see him again. Please, please, please. Please don't take him from me.

His song--the song I sing to all my children--came on the radio, track eleven's turn, and my trembling hands turned it off. Prematurely mourning, yet fighting with all of me to will him to live. But in the silence I heard the helicopter overhead, reminding me my baby was way too far away, in the sky with his father...too close to living with his other Father.

And, many tears later, his Father heard my prayers, knew I simply could not survive without my Joshua. The Children's hospital was the only hospital in the state that had any vials of scorpion anti-venom--four, to be precise. 

And four just happened to be the exact amount he needed.


I think not. A miracle, in its fullest.

And within two hours, his muscles relaxed, and I held that lethargic, perfect baby as long as I could. And even all night wasn't enough.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Rant of a Perfectionist

First of all, I want to thank all the readers who commented on my previous post. I found your comments very helpful and fulfilling! I'm glad to know the piece sparks some interest. :)

Do you ever think back on an old project you've done and think, "That was pretty awesome?" So you decide, after months of hibernation, to wake it up, only to find it was nothing like you remember? In fact, it was so far off from what you remember that you find yourself wanting to burn it (from your own mind and anyone else's who might have had the privilege of reading it) and then crawl into a hole? Or that you are sick to your stomach--literally--over the way it

Or, worse, you feel this way from a more recent project--one you just recently thought was amazing and had really showcased just how far you've come?

Okay, maybe it's just a writer thing.

Or maybe it's just a bad self-conscious writer thing.

Yes, this post is a gripe session, so bear with me. Seems really fitting after the Sunshine Award I just got on Runner Mom Jen's blog, doesn't it? (Thanks again, Jen!)

I have come a long way as a writer, of that I am sure. Looking back at those old projects (and sometimes the new), all the imperfections scream at me from the pages laptop screen, and the perfectionist inside me can't rest until it's all fixed and perfect.

Only problem is, it'll never be perfect. Never ever.

And we are all our own worst critics. I am the inventor of being hard on yourself. I don't know how to not be. Even after fulfilling praise on my writing, I still only see the flaws. I compare myself to others, read other people's work and wistfully dream of being as good as they are. When instead I should be grateful for my own talent, proud of my voice.

And really, I am. I have really come to find my writing voice over this last year, and this blog has been a small factor in that. But I still want to advance, I always want to be better.  And I suppose that's a good thing, but how do I see those imperfections (sometimes pointed out by others) without letting it deflate that pride in my craft?

It's a never-ending battle, and something I will always be struggling with, I think. Maybe someday, when I can walk into Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf (crossing my fingers), that will go away.

Or maybe it will just get more intense.

Who knows. All I know is that each time I take a big step, like posting some of my work on my blog, or letting a friend read my MS, my confidence as a writers grows--because of how extremely nail-biting the process is. Heck, a year ago I was so private about my writing that even telling someone I was a writer made me nervous. I had another, more private, blog where I could rant about my writing frustrations and the process I was going through (querying, revising, etc.) in more of a non-public way.

Because I was scared. And I still am. But I am pushing through it.

And I really, truly, honestly abhor love and need constructive criticism, despite my fears. I mean it when I say I want to know the truth about my work. Because I am a perfectionist, and I need to know what others see wrong with it, so that I can decide if it is best for the piece to change it. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.

Anyway, just struggling a little with my writing confidence, as I sometimes do. But don't worry (like anyone really is), it's nothing that won't go away with a little more self-assurance and settling-in-of-the-just-posting-something-publicly.

And toddler kisses. There's no room for negative thoughts when the cutest two-year-old has just given you kisses.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Happy Non-End

Post inspired by the The Red Dress Club Red Writing Hood prompt "Happy Endings." We were to write a scene that includes a happy ending. If it's a continuation, it doesn't have to be the actual END of the story, but should include one challenge that your hero has to overcome.

Which is what I did. I have never, until now, posted anything from my fiction novels on my blog, so this post is even harder for me than the last one. Because this is a tiny bit of one of the projects I've spent hours and hours on.

And hours.

So, please, constructive criticism is welcome!

But be nice!

Shaky sigh.

So here goes. This is a brief excerpt from my most recent novel, The Exception.

Sam reached into his pocket to retrieve the key, then unlocked and opened the door behind Elanor.  He motioned inside with his hand.
The interior lurked behind her, the unnerving energy waiting.  She felt it, saturated in memories.  His eyes gave her strength and she swallowed hard, retreating until she was inside.  As he closed the door behind him, leaving them in murkiness, she quietly said, “I believe forging keys is illegal.”
He chuckled.  “I’ve had this key since before you were born,” he said, feeling strange again about their reunion.  “You should be grateful.  I’ve kept this house what it still is.”
Grasping his shoulders and reaching on her tiptoes, she kissed him lightly on the cheek.  “And I can’t thank you enough.”
His eyes grew wide.  It seemed that something once so innocent wasn’t anymore.  She lightly cleared her throat.  “Anyway, I believe you had a question to answer.  And now that we’re inside, no more games.  Time to spill your guts.”
 Elanor stayed in place, keeping her eyes on the door as Sam made his way to every window and lifted the drapes, allowing light to infiltrate the house.  “First you have to take this in,” he said.  “This is your house now, Lanor.  You have to accept it.”
She sighed, furrowing her brow as she slowly turned.  The dust danced in the sunlight, but everything wasn’t caked in it as she expected.  It was clean, immaculate even.  It almost looked lived-in, and seeing it in this condition made it easier to take in, unlike the way she remembered it—the way she expected it still to look.  Her mouth hung in surprise.  “Sam…”
“I’m sorry.  I hope you don’t mind I come in sometimes.  Cleaning helps me feel…sane.”
“It’s perfect,” she said, staring into his eyes.
“I get bored,” he shrugged.
Pulled by an intruding memory, she stepped past him and knelt on the faded hardwood floor by the stairs.  She ran her hand over it, feeling its smooth surface as she searched for any trace of blood.  Being in this place brought it all back, that night now fresh in the forefront of her mind.  She could hear her father standing just to her right, snaring her with his honey-sweet lies, his love a sham.  She could see his face, the way no trace of life remained behind his eyes.  She could feel herself hitting the wall, smashing the mirror and table, hear the clatter as she was showered with glass.  She felt him crushing her, heard her screams.  She felt her heart shattering.
She felt Sam’s warm blood on her hands, felt the shuddering of his chest as she held him, imaging his life being sucked away.
Sam knelt next to her, watching as she caressed the floor, absorbing the memories.  She was feeling them all over again with the touch of her hand and releasing them with her silent tears.  He touched her shoulder.  “I’m still here,” he softly reminded her.