Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dear Future Me

*Post inspired by the the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "A Letter to You, Part 2." A month ago, the prompt was to write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self, and this time it's a letter to yourself ten years in the future.

What can I say? I'm sure you're much wiser than me, so I'll steer clear of the advice route. We both know how you hate preachy advice, especially when it's given by people younger and more naive than you.

But I do hope all your dreams have come true, Older Me. I hope you can proudly say you have a few more novels under your belt, maybe some even published. Maybe by now you've actually gotten recognized for the talents you have.

And hopefully you're confident enough that you can actually call it a talent now.

As you know, it's taken us a while to come into our own and really figure out who we are. And I hope, Older Me, that you're even more sound in that. I hope you don't let the little things get you down and make you feel bad about yourself.

And I really hope you can confidently stand in a place that fits all your beliefs and viewpoints--in a place your past self is still struggling to find. You're voice should be sharpened by now, more in tune in your head. And that means you won't be afraid to say what you think or feel what you feel.

And even though we swore off children after Luke, I'm willing to bet money that you have more. A girl, maybe? I hope so. Because with three boys who are going through puberty, you'll need some extra estrogen to balance that out.

I'm scared for you, having to deal with three teenage boys and all the yucky that comes along with it. So, good luck with that, Older Me. I snicker, only because I'm a procrastinator and I don't have to worry about yet.

But I bet your boys are really cool, and I bet you and Dave love hanging out with them. I bet Sam is either in choir or theater or something. And Josh has gotta be in football. Luke? Maybe the best of both worlds. I'm sure they're so great, and I can only imagine just how much you love them.

Don't stop loving your husband. Ever. Don't let the spark fizzle. The kids are older now and that means you have no excuses. No newborn babies (hopefully). So you better be going on dates (even if you have to be the one to initiate them), and maybe even getting away for a weekend or two every now and then.

Please don't lose your faith. Life and people suck sometimes, and I'm sure it's even worse now. I don't want to imagine what you've had to endure. But there is good out there, and the gospel is true, no matter what the people in the church, or the organization, have done.

Continue to raise good boys and enjoy life. And on that temper. Because I know you still have it.

Oh...and remember, you're only thirty-eight. You're not old and decrepit...yet. So keep working out and keeping that body looking tip-top (HA!).

Twenty-eight-year-old You

P.S. I bet you're laughing at how horribly written this is, aren't you? Either that or cringing. Because I'm sure you're the most fabulous writer on the planet by now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dare to Share: When I Grow Up

*Post inspired by the the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Dare to Share prompt, "When I grow up."
This week for the Dare to Share Link Up I'd like you to link to a post about your dream job, what you wanted to be when you grew up as a child...what you want to be now. Tell us about your dreams and how you're going to make them come true. This post can be old or new, fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose.

The lights are blinding, but I know what's before me. So many voices, all screaming my name; a sea of adoring, shouting fans. All chanting. For me.

I try not to squint into the spotlight and instead smile, widely. I even take a little bow; not too overdone, but tasteful. Elegant.

As I bring the microphone to my mouth and a hush washes over the crowd, I feel my quickened heartbeat. I raise my hands in anticipation for the first note of the song I just wrote and recorded last month.

And I sing my heart out, the feel of the microphone in my hand and the stage beneath my feet the best sensations I ever experienced. My voice carries, to everyone and everything, and it frees me. And I hope it frees them, too.

And that microphone is the best gift the universe has ever given me.

That used to be my dream. As a child, a teenager, and even as a young adult. I loved the rush that singing on a stage provided and whenever I was presented with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" a singer/songwriter was all I could fathom. Nothing else fit. It was unrealistic, I knew. And so did everyone else, telling me it was impossible to make it in that industry. And they were right. But it was all I wanted.

And then I got married, had kids. I realized that my new responsibilities could never allow for that, not with the amount of attention I wanted to devote to my family. Besides, I wasn't that good anyway.

So I took my love for words, prose, literature, and reading, and turned it into a hobby. I decided to start writing, just for fun. I was a SAHM and drowning in a lack of hobbies. And writing was a perfect solution.

But then I became hooked. I realized just how much I actually loved it. Who knew I could write?

I couldn't stop, even though I did it all in secret. I told no one of my new passion, not even my husband. And I'd quickly hide my work whenever he'd enter the room, in a oh-no-I'm-looking-at-porn sorta way. I was too much of a rookie and had way too much to learn. Really, I was a joke. And people would laugh at me if they knew I was writing.

Or worse, they'd ask to see my work.

But then my husband got suspicious I was looking at gorgeous hunks on the internet it came out. And surprisingly (though it shouldn't have been surprising), my family was more supportive than ever. My husband even allowed me time away from the kid to feed my passion, because he wanted to be married to a famous author who'd rake in the dough so he could quit his job cared about my interests and wanted me to feel like me again.

And I did feel like me. More me than I'd ever felt, actually. Finally, I had found MY passion. THE thing that made me me and allowed me to express myself. I'd thought it was in singing (don't get me wrong, singing and music is still a huge love of mine), but I was wrong. And it only took me until I was twenty-four to find it.

Eventually, I finished my first novel. Then I wrote another. And another. And though the road from start to now (I don't say "finish" because I know I'm still at the beginning of this journey) has been eye-opening, painful, and a huge learning experience, it has been so rewarding.

Because with writing, I've found out who I really am and what I'm capable of. Because of writing, I feel I have purpose, aside from being the mom of three boys and the wife to another boy.

I fell in love, and even though we argue and have cold spells, I continue to fall in love every moment I spend with it.

So, instead of doing the career that's nearly impossible to make a living in, I chose a career dream that's even more impossible to make a living in: novel writing. This is a difficult time to be heard as a fiction writer, more difficult than it ever has been. Renowned editor and author, Pat Walsh, said that out of everyone trying to publish with a traditional publisher, only 2% will succeed. Yes, that's right. TWO PERCENT.

And that was a few years ago. It's even harder now.

So, though the odds may not be in my favor, I will continue to write, revise, submit, revise, and revise (did I say revise?). Because if I don't, I'm not so sure I'd survive.

Okay, I would. It just wouldn't be pretty.

And who knows, maybe I'll even go the new and more recently accepted route of self-publishing. Or even self-epublishing (seems to be the new trend). We'll see where the road takes me.

So until then, I go back to revising.

So that, just maybe, one day my dream of seeing my novel on a Borders Barnes & Noble shelf can come true.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Rewrite

*Post inspired by the TRDC Red Writing Hood prompt, "Rewrite."
Go back in the archives and pick a fiction or nonfiction piece. Perhaps something you posted on your blog, or an old Red Dress Club prompt? Find something that you're proud of, but something you haven't read for awhile. Do a complete overhaul.

My archives don't go that far back as far as my fiction and writing prompts go, so I went back to my first Red Writing Hood post (original post here), which was only 2.5 months ago. But the fiction piece itself is "old," since it's an excerpt from my novel, The Exception.

I rewrote it in Elanor's first person, present tense, and changed it up a bit (and cut some, of course, since we have to bring it down to 400 words). Feel free to comment/critique!

For the other segments of The Exception, visit the The Exception label at the bottom of this post.

Sam reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gold key, and I shouldn’t be surprised he still has it.  But for some reason it stirs me, makes me forget the last twenty years even happened.  I’m still whirled by this when he unlocks the door, so I don’t move, keep my back against it.  He’s close, his eyes piercing, and I feel his body heat.  And I know I’d do anything those blue eyes ask of me.
He opens the door and I feel the open air against my back, the unnerving energy saturated in memories.  Lurking.  He motions behind me, raising a brow.  And as I swallow hard, his eyes give me the courage to step backward.  And then again.  My back is still turned on the interior of the house, but I’m inside.  And my skin crawls.  My palms sweat and my chest feels tight, and I know Sam senses my fear because he smiles.  In the way he always did.
He leaves me then, but not before touching me on the shoulder.  I hear him opening drapes behind me, allowing light to infiltrate the house.  “This is yours now, Elanor.  Take it in.  Accept it.”
I sigh as I turn, and my brow is tense.  Dust dances in the sunlight, but everything isn’t caked in it as I expected.  My shoulders relax and my chest feels lighter.  It’s clean, immaculate even.  It almost looks lived-in, but not by me and my father.  It’s easier to take in like this, so unlike the way I remember.
I’m pulled by an intruding memory.  I step past Sam and kneel on the dulled hardwood floor by the stairs, running my hand over its smooth surface as I search for any trace of blood.  And even though there is none, that night is fresh in my mind.  I’m eleven now, and I hear my father standing above me, snaring me with his honey-sweet lies.  I see his face and hate that no trace of life remains behind his eyes.  I feel myself hit the wall, smash the mirror and table; I feel him crushing me.  I hear my eleven-year-old screams.
I feel Sam’s warm blood on my hands and the shuddering of his chest as his life is sucked away.  And I can’t remove myself from the past.
But Sam kneels before me, and his touch on my shoulder brings me back, reminds me that twenty years have passed.  “I’m still here,” he softly reminds me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tony Danza and Corporate America

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "Write a post where the first and last sentence contain any form of the word 'boss.'” 
...Though not much inspiration was involved in this post, unfortunately. I think I'm all out for today. So here's a not-very-thoughtful play on words:

Tony Danza
Message in a Bottle
Alex O'Loughlin
Hawaii Five-O
Old TV Shows
Wishing well
Mr. Krabs
Red Lobster
Alex O'Loughlin ( did I get on this again?)
TV night with hubby
What's a date?
Hard worker
Corporate America
Office politics
Unfair Bosses

As you can see, I was totally stumped for this week's prompts. All of them. I blame little sleep.
And I usually have Mama Kat's button right here, but for some reason it's telling me the tag is broken. The link to her blog is up top.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out, "Bad" Mommy

Sometimes I'm not a good mom. The secret's out. Actually, it's no secret. Unfortunately, I think anyone who watches me parent for longer than an hour can see it.

And I'm not talking about the little things. Like the fact that I sometimes act like I don't know they're getting into trouble just because I don't want to deal with it. Again. Because I've already wasted so much of my breath telling them that day NOT to do what they're doing.

Or that I sometimes give them stickers after they've begged for them, just because I want something to occupy their time. Even though I HATE that they put them on EVERYTHING.

Or that I call them by the wrong name ALL the time, sometimes going through all of their names before I figure out who it is I'm actually talking to. Yes, Mom, I've turned into you in that way. I'm sorry for giving you crap about that when I was younger.

Or that I don't give them baths every single day. And some days I even forget to brush their teeth. And make them wash their hands.

Sometimes I even go weeks without trimming their nails. Horrific, I know.

It's not even those things that brand me a "bad parent," in my mind. If you've read my blog, you've heard me mention more than a few times that I have the worst patience in the world.

In fact, I'm sure I don't have any left at all. Just ask my children and my husband. And the handful of customers at the gas station that heard/saw me blow up at Sam in the car while Dave was filling up. I yelled. Loudly. Even maybe screamed a little but.

And people stared. And Dave was embarrassed. He told me he'd never been so embarrassed as an adult.

Yep. Ouch. Talk about being put in your place.

But I deserve that, I really do. I've been working on it, hard. I've been trying really hard not to yell at my kids when they frustrate me and talk over me and try telling me what to do. Or scream in my face, "No!" repeatedly while I'm trying to instruct them.

Breathe, I tell myself, even now, because just thinking about it speeds my heart and heats my core.

And if I don't gain some measure of control over it, I fear I'll have a heart attack by the time I'm 35. Either that or a whole head of gray hair (IF I have any left by then). Sometimes I just don't feel cut out for the parenting thing.

Because I know it's not my kids who need to change. It's me, 100%. They're just being kids. It's the name of the game. I'm the one who's acting up.

And I know, I know. Every mom feels that way at some point. And I know everyone's kids drive them crazy, and every mom loses it. But I do feel a little more out of control than most, a little less tolerant.

Okay, a lot less tolerant.

And I don't get it. I don't get why I can't handle things in the same way other people can, or how I can be filled with so much rage or frustration, when at the same time I'm filled with so much love for the little people that drive me to insanity. Because really, my favorite thing in this entire world, no matter my mood, is hugs and kisses from my kids.

So how do I calm myself, how do I feel normal inside, so I can actually feel like a decent mom? I know I've made posts similar to this before, but it is PYHO Wednesday. So I'm taking advantage. Again.

I don't like being this way. I don't like that every little thing gets under my skin and I react before I can stop it. I hate it, and I want to change. And I'm trying. But some days, I just don't feel I can measure up.

Some days, I just want to cry.

Wordful Wednesday: Water and Bums

I was writing in my room the other day, enjoying the quiet since both my older kids were playing outside and my baby was napping, but then I was startled back to life by my two-year-old, Josh's, cries. It sounded as though he was being tortured.

I jumped to the window (my bedroom window faces the backyard) and I see my four-year-old, Sam, holding Josh down and pouring water on his head.

Laughing. Hard. While Josh cried his poor little blond head off.

Josh hates water. I mean, HATES. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside, he HATES getting wet. And Sam knows this. And even though my defenses for Josh kicked in as I ran to the backyard to save him, a sliver of me was proud that, for once, it was Sam torturing Josh. Usually it's the other way around.

As I ran out, about to open my ever-yelling mouth, my husband stopped me. He likes to think outside the box, try different parenting techniques. So I let him take over. And what did he do?

He took the big bucket (BIG) that was filled to the brim with water and chased Sam around the backyard, Sam screaming and laughing the whole way. When Dave dumped it on him, Sam stood there in shock. And Dave said, "How do you like it?"

Meantime, I was sitting at the sliding glass door, laughing. And Sam laughed eventually, too. And he didn't pour water on Josh's head again.

This is Sam sitting in the bucket of water after refilling it. We heard him crying because he couldn't get out. So instead of getting him out, we grabbed the camera.
This was Josh after we stripped him of his wet clothes, watching from the door as Sam continued to have fun in the water. Yes, I blurred his cute bum, because this is the internet and creeps exist out there. And no, we don't usually let our kids run around the house naked. Only sometimes.
After everyone was dry and clothed, we had some snuggle time on Mama's bed and took some silly pictures. Most of which I won't put on here due to hideous shots of me.
My snuggle bug.
Afterward, Josh decided to give himself an arm tattoo. And was mad when I wanted to take a picture.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lesson Learned: Going to Bed Hungry

*Post inspired by the TRDC RemembeRED prompt, "Lesson Learned."
Write a post that either starts or ends with the words "Lesson learned." 

Written from my son, Sam's, POV.

"This'll be the last time I tell you to eat." Mom's eyes are on fire, her voice stern. It cracks, and spit even sprays from her mouth. She acts like she means it, but she can be a pushover sometimes. I know how to work her.

"But Moooom, pee's coming out!" I say, crossing my legs and doing a little dance in my booster seat. Mom hates when I pee in my underwear, even a little.

"Nice try." Her voice is hoarse now. Probably from all the yelling. She says it's not yelling, that she's just talking firm, but the vein bulging in her neck says it's yelling. She even cussed once. Surprise, surprise.

"You only have two options," she continues, hand on her recently chubby hip. "You can either go to bed hungry, or eat and stay up for ten extra minutes." She doesn't mean it. Mom would never let me go to bed hungry. She loves me too much.

"But, Mom...the pee..." I continue to dance, adding a whimper to the plea.

"You can pee your pants, for all I care. Sit in your own pee. But you're not getting up from that table until you're done. Not unless you want to go to bed." Her eyes bore into mine, telling me she's no joke. But on the inside I still laugh.

On the outside, I groan.

She glances at the clock, and so do I. The position of the long and short hand tell me it's after seven o'clock. And I know that means it's after bedtime. Mom's time. She sighs, her face turning red, and looks back to me. I'm starting to wonder if she's getting serious now, after eight threats.

Now she stomps over, huffing, and yanks my chair away from the table. I scream and cry because I'm four, and what else am I gonna do? "No, Mom! I'm hungry! I'm really hungry!"

"If you were hungry, you would've eaten your dinner. You had the last hour and a half to eat, so don't try that on me! It's bed time. You can go to bed hungry." Oh. My. Gosh. She actually means it.

"Mom!" Tears stream down my cheeks, and so does slobber. I like to make a good show.

She's dragging me down the hallway, heading for that darkened doorway. My room. She wouldn't dare.

I scream louder, cry harder, pleading. "I'm soooo hungry! I want to eat!"

But when she puts me in bed, turns off the light, and closes the door, I stop screaming. I cry silently, stunned she actually put her starving child to bed.

Through the door, I hear, "Maybe next time I tell you to eat, you'll listen."

My tummy grumbles and I can still smell the taco casserole, untouched on my plate.

Lesson learned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flicker of Inspiration: The House

*Post inspired by Lightning and the Lightning Bug's Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "House."
 ...For this week's prompt, we'd like you to write about a specific kind of setting, a setting that can be ominous or comforting, a setting that can easily take on a life of its own. Your fiction, poetry, or memory this week should involve a house. Be sure this house plays a pivotal role in your piece...

I know I usually save segments of The Exception for my Red Writing Hood posts, but I'm bending the rules this time.

Aside from the fact that I haven't had much time to write anything new for the wonderful writing prompts I've been missing out on, I had to share this because the "house" is such a key ingredient in this story, almost a character itself.

For the other excerpts I've shared, visit here, here, here (this particular excerpt fits before this one), and here (listed in the order they appear in the novel itself). And for a segment I wrote separate of the book, but still involves the main character, visit here.

This segment takes place when Elanor arrives to her childhood home, seeing it for the first time in nearly twenty years--a home that holds painful and precious memories alike. She realizes it was more than just inheriting the deed that pulled her there.

Elanor’s breath caught as she turned onto Graham Road and caught a glimpse of the old country-style house at the top of the hill, nearly bringing the car to a standstill.  The wooden roof shingles looked even more dilapidated than before.  Taking a deep breath, not knowing what putting herself in that place would do to her state of mind, she pressed harder on the pedal and forced herself to move forward.
She hadn’t known what to expect when preparing for her trip.  She hadn’t known what she would feel.  But as she stood before the house, every emotion was foreign.  Maybe it was because the house was different, looking nothing like the way she remembered.  In her memory it’d always been aged, but now negligence masked any trace of her childhood home: peeling paint, one green shudder hanging by a single bolt, a crack in the windowpane of her old bedroom, weeds growing above the bay window, the dirt drive nowhere to be seen. 
But what threw her even more was the size.  It used to feel huge and threatening.  Now it seemed small.  And sad.
It broke her heart to see the home that had once housed her grandfather and his grandfather before him in a shambles, unused and empty.  No longer a dirty remnant of her childhood, it suddenly became a disappointing remnant of her ancestors.  Where their sweat and blood had produced something once beautiful, now it was indeed an eyesore, as Gerard had said.  What did they think from the afterlife as they looked on the remains of their posterity—on a drunken waste of life, rotting in prison, and a hardly sane, hardly normal woman who would probably end up alone the rest of her life?  Would the Noble line stop with her? 
Scanning her eyes over every spec around her, even the heavens above, she whispered a simple “sorry” as though they could hear.
It was fall, which usually brought sharp, brisk days in Idaho, but today the atmosphere was clear, and she stepped forward, leaving her jacket in the car.  When she reached the overgrown path, she stopped and closed her eyes, letting the breeze move through her hair like cool, energizing fingers.  Feeling moved upon by a great force, a force beyond this world, the spirit of the home and all it represented overwhelmed her.  She swore the energy of her ancestors was in the wind that blew through the trees and rustled the leaves, swelling with the newfound emotions in her heart. 
Somehow, they wanted her there.

This is still a work in progress, but as always, helpful criticism is welcome!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Davenport 411

Lately, my blog has been full of fun posts, gripe sessions, writing exercises, and pictures, so I thought, in the midst of all that, it was time for an update. Especially with the news we got yesterday.

Luke had his six-month checkup last week and is in the tenth percentile for weight and height, so even though he's small, he's proportionate. He loves rolling around on the floor and is just itching to get up and go. He'll be figuring out the scooting/crawling thing any day now. He started on solids a few weeks ago and absolutely loves to eat. Loves it.

He loves to mimic sounds and we have some pretty lengthy "conversations" together. His new favorite thing to do, besides smacking his lips together, is spitting and blowing bubbles. Which I love, because that means Sam has to out-do him in the "spit" area. And spitting isn't a pet peeve of mine at all.

We had Luke's follow-up urology appointment in Phoenix yesterday, and I had high hopes. Especially after the last appointment a few months ago, when the doctor said the chances of surgery were slim and he was feeling hopeful. He'd said that if the testicle continued to drop at the rate it had been, chances were, we'd be able to leave it be.

That's what I was expecting. But, to my surprise, the testicle is still pretty high in his lower abdomen and it hasn't budged since he was four months old. So, now my little guy needs surgery.

They can't get it scheduled until about two months from now, so in the meantime I will keep an eye on it and if it miraculously comes down on its own, we can cancel the surgery. But it's very unlikely that that will happen. So, until then, I'm trying not to get too concerned, like the overly emotional mom I am in situations like that. I'm putting off the stressful worry until the time comes. Trying not to dwell on the way it feels to have a baby under a year old getting surgery, even though I've been through it twice with Sam.

And it's not like I have anything to worry about. The risks are very low (if any at all), it's a standard surgery, and on top of that, it's out-patient. No staying at a horrid hospital. They're just going to make a small incision where it's at, bring it down and "tack" it in place (in a nutshell).

And that way, even though his risk of testicular cancer is now 10-14% higher because of this, it will now be more available to monitor throughout his life, and will allow it to continue developing as it should (to say the least).

Josh is my cuddle-bug, and I hope he always will be. He is doing SO great with his speech and talking all the time now. Even when I don't understand what he's saying. He's started putting two, and sometimes three, words together and even says a couple sentences. His speech therapist is so proud of him, and so are we. The first time I heard him say, "Mommy, what's this?" I about peed my pants.

He loves to copy everything his older brother does, but still has a stubborn mind of his own. He still loves giving hugs, and I'm not so sure I want him growing up. Ever.

He calls every letter of the alphabet E, O, and I, can count to five, calls every color yellow or blue, calls pie (and any sugary treat) cake, loves to sing his heart out (one of his favorites is Tonight, Tonight), and calls himself Spongebob when he wears his yellow shirt.

Oh, and he still loves to eat paper. And I'm still stumped on why that is and how to get him to stop. It drives me nuts.
I just had to add this silly picture of him from when he was about 9 months old, because it shows his lovable cheesiness perfectly.

Where do I start on Sam? Between all his Samisms, laughs, hugs, "I love yous," and smiles, Sam drives me up a wall. Like, I really think I might go bonkers most days. And I feel guilty that he gets on my every last nerve, because our kids aren't supposed to annoy us like that, right?

Well, whether or not he's supposed to, he does. And it makes me remember just why I've never really liked kids. Because four-year-olds are the worse.

But they're also the best. The most forgiving, and the most loving. Even though you yell at them all the time, to the point where you aren't even sure when the last time was you spoke at a normal level. He's super super stubborn, doesn't listen when we tell him no, bites back at every turn, and screams in a way that makes my skin crawl.

I do love him, though. So much. He's my intelligent old soul. We were talking about old souls the other day and Sam came to mind. From the first moment I looked into his eyes at the hospital, I've known he was an old soul. And who am I to raise such a strong, intelligent, wise spirit in this world? Me, who has the worse temper known to man, who falls short all the time as a mother and wife.

It's humbling, and I feel put in my place every time I look into his eyes. Like even though he doesn't realize it, he knows so much more than I do.

Anyway, here's his latest Samism (I couldn't resist):

  • Calls Josh "Dude" sometimes.
  • Then follows up with calling him a "Loser." Not so happy about that one.
  • When I told him not to step on a certain piece of paper on the floor, he replied, "I'm stepping on your mom." Guess we should stop the "yer mom" jokes around him.
  • Has always drank his sippy-cup in a "Sam" way, from the side so he can see all that's going on around him.
  • Found Dave's padlock and asked if it was a timer for robots.
  • Told me when I was talking in an Australian accent that I needed to "stop talking like an old man."
  • When seeing the Bush's Baked Beans at the store, he says, "Can we get some secret family recipe?"
  • When I tell him to stop whining, he says, "I'm not whining, I'm complaining!"
  • Says "Aw, tarter sauce!" when something bothers him.
  • Made an imaginary world on the other side of the elliptical called "Ketzwell," and escapes there frequently.
  • When looking at his sandwich I made him, he pointed to it and said, "See this mustard?" I said, "Yes..." Then he whispered, "It's made of puzzles."
  • Watched us playing Phase 10 one night and said, "I used to play this card game all the time, when I was a grandpa."

Precious, lovable, quirky four-year-old.

I made it a goal to get back into my exercise routine every day, because in seeing recent pictures of me, I realized just how "wide" I've become. And it's hard for me to swallow. Plus, I have to get in shape for the cruise we're going on September 2012. It's a must. So no more eating a sleeve of oreos at a time, or eating junk at 10pm. And no more eating until I'm full, and then some. I will change my eating habits, and I will get in shape.

I just finished completely rewriting my first novel, which was unexpected, since, really, it was hopeless. And since I have tunnel vision and can't focus on more than one project at a time, that's the only thing that made up the minutes of my free time, after the kids went to bed or while the boys were napping (on the days I actually could). I started it just for fun, but then, in falling in love with the characters all over again, I realized I couldn't stop and I wanted to re-create their world. So even though the story still has no hope, in the sense of this dog-eat-dog publishing world, it's still so much better than it was and I fell in love with the story all over again.

Next, I'm going to start re-editing my other novels, the ones with more promise in the publishing world. And since my kids and my writing are really the only thing of merit about me, there's nothing else to really report on. I'd report on Dave, but aside from the point that there's nothing really to report on other than the every-day grind of his job, he doesn't like me getting into the personal stuff. I still haven't converted him to my blogging ways.

So, until I do, that's about all.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Simple Things...

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "The Simple Things..."

I like the simple things. The simple things are what move my day forward, give me the boost to last through the not-so-simple things. And today my day was full of the simple things. The kind that remind me just how blessed I am and just how happy (and on some days, how happy I should be).

Like the fact that the baby let me sleep eight straight hours without interruption both last night and the night before, which is a miracle. Knock on wood.

Like the fact that I was able to pump some breast milk this morning after feeling down in the dumps all week about losing my milk. (Turns out I'm not. Turns out kids go through growth spurts, or something like that.)

Like the fact that the boys both wanted the same breakfast this morning, which makes my life that much easier.

Like the fact that Dave took over disciplining a very strong-willed four-year-old on his lunch hour, just to give me a break from it. (I think slamming the child's door and saying the naughtiest of naughty words under my breath is a cue that it's his turn.)

Like the swelling emotion all throughout me, emerging in the form of chills and goosebumps, just from watching a moving, heartfelt dance routine. (Thank you, So You Think You Can Dance.)

Like blond curls and blue eyes, that remind me children are beautiful angels and not demons. 

Like the thirty minutes I got to myself to write today.

Like freshly cut grass, done by none other than my husband.

Like phrases from my two-year-old, such as, "Mommy, you get spanking," because they show me just how far he's come in his speech.

Like the precious swatting of a tiny hand on your behind after said phrase.

Like the fact that my four-year-old can still hug me and tell me he loves me after I've just punished him in the worst way I could punish him (taking away his computer privileges).

Like my two-year-old saying, "I you, too," because that's how he says he loves me. 

Like cold cereal for dinner.

Like the visit of a good friend, because it reminds me I'm an adult and can still have adult conversation.

Like my husband retelling the story of how we met, even though I've heard it a million times (after all, I was there), because the part about how he felt when he first looked at me makes my heart skip a beat and makes me feel, in some small way, a part of some romantic movie. 

But mostly, it reminds me that aside from the frumpy sweats, the greasy ponytail, the stretchy tummy skin, the PB&J sandwiches, and the yelling mommy voice, I was once--and maybe even still am--a beautiful, strong woman, who has the love of a caring, amazing man.

The simple things.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rockin' the Babies!

*Post inspired by TICS's Rockin' the Baby prompt. (Side-note: happy birthday, Shell!)

I love my babies more than anything. They are my life, and they grow WAY too quickly!

This was my Luke at almost 2 months, and now he is 6 months. (He also had his 6-month checkup today and is in the tenth percentile for weight and height. And he loves to eat, eat, eat.)

This is my Josh at 9 months, and now he is 2.5 years! He was my most precious Gerber-looking baby.

And lastly, this is my Sammy, at 3 months old. And now he is one of the most bratty difficult, smart, loving 4.5-year-olds in the world!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Sparkly Shoes

*Post inspired by the TRDC Red Writing Hood prompt, "Shoes."

Those shoes can be real or symbolic, they can hurt or be super comfy but I want to see what they say about the life of the person wearing them...

And because I am a giver, this prompt's word limit is 625.Come back and link up here Friday to show us your "sole".

I've shared a few excerpts from my novel in previous RWH posts with hints to who Elanor, Sam, and even Paul and Jamie are. But this time, since there are no passages about shoes in the book, or that would relate at all, I'm writing this one independent of the novel, about a pair of Elanor's shoes as a little girl.

And I admit, I'm a little glad I had nothing to go with, because I always love to write something new.

Elanor was in a hurry, fishing through the clutter in her closet.  She threw aside shoe after shoe, though she didn’t have many, and they thumped loudly on the hardwood floor, threatening to wake her father.  Most didn’t fit her, but still she kept them, collecting them like memories—every pair that she’d accumulated over her eleven years of life. 
Her last encounter with her gym shoes was almost a year ago.  She’d been upset at her teacher for forcing her to play dodgeball and had hid them away, vowing to never put them on again.  And every day Mr. Hansen had marked her down for wearing the only pair of shoes that now fit her: her warn, black boots, bought from the thrift store.  He didn’t understand kids like her, comfortable in his large house and three cars.  He probably had a pair of shoes for every occasion.
But yesterday he’d threatened a visit to her father, and she’d sworn she’d never come to gym class unprepared again.  Even though she knew those old shoes would squeeze her feet until she could feel them no more. 
She’d grown fast over the last few months, out and up, even growing womanly things.  One day, while Sam was inspecting the hem of her suddenly too-short pants, he’d called it a growth spurt.  
She glanced at her pink watch and sighed, grumbling under her breath as she continued to search.  She was already running late for school, and the knowledge that Sam was at the bus stop, waiting, motivated her.  She pictured him, leaning against the Whitmans’ mailbox with an apple in hand, ready to add it to her measly lunch.
Then her heart stopped.  Red sparkled from the bottom of the box, beneath every meaningless shoe.  She reached for it, hesitantly.  She felt over the coarse, glittered surface, where some collected to her fingertips.  She’d forgotten about them over the last year, the only pretty, sparkly things she’d ever owned.
She pulled out the pair of ruby red shoes, the straps flaccid and the soles worn to nearly nothing, and she was surprised that they sparkled just as brightly as they once had.  She was eight when she’d first watched The Wizard of Oz, and she hadn’t been able to forget it, for a whole week daydreaming of Dorothy and the yellow brick road and the ruby red slippers that had brought her back home, where everyone she loved was waiting. 
A few days later, Elanor had froze when entering her bedroom, Dorothy’s very shoes sitting on the foot of her bed.  Waiting.  As though they’d miraculously appeared from nowhere.  Her heart had sped, and the exhilaration had swelled inside her until she could no longer contain it.  She’d squealed while putting them on, a perfect fit, and had even been foolish enough to tap them together a few times.
She’d practically jumped up and down when showing Sam that afternoon, and his look had been aloof.  And that was when she’d known it was him who’d gotten them for her, probably placed them on her bed when her father was at the shop.  She didn’t know how he’d come across such a treasure, but like most things with Sam, she never questioned.
And to this day, he denied it.  But she knew. 
She’d worn them every day during that next year, rain or shine, and even some the year after, when her growing toes were curled uncomfortably inside.  She’d played with Sam in the barn in them, walked the railroad ties in them, pretended she was a princess in them.
And now she would take them in her backpack, since they were far too small for her ever-growing feet.  Still wishing for home.
Again forgetting about her old gym shoes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Riddance, Bad TV

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "List of 10 shows you're glad have seen their last day."

This one was easy.

However, it was even easier to come up with the shows that I wish had never been cancelled (I know that was one of the prompts for last week's writer's workshop, but I missed that one), like Friends, Heroes, 24, Lie to Me (just found this one out...WHAT?!), Breaking In, Better Off Ted, Chase, Trauma, Off the Map, Outsourced, or Perfect Couples...just to name a few. What's with the new trend of cancelling shows after one season, even if they don't suck?

But here are the ones that couldn't have been cancelled at a better time...or with some, never should have started in the first place (in no particular order):

1. The Cape. If you've seen even one episode, you know why. Actually, if you can see this picture, you know why. Sorry, NBC, but you can't pull of another Heroes.

2. Knight Rider. The new one, from a few years ago. Gag, gag, gag.

3. Prison Break. Don't get me wrong; I was the biggest Prison Break fan there ever was (and Wentworth Miller...come on, ladies). Nothing will ever beat the first season. But after the second season, it went downhill. Bad. And we found ourselves watching it only because we fell in love with the characters and had to know how it ended. It definitely saw it's end, long before the end of the fourth season.

4. Alias. I may get harsh words for this, but as a devote Alias and Sydney Bristow lover, I say this out of respect. Because any Alias fan has to admit that after the third season, it started to drop in appeal. Everything about it was different (and that's in part because it got a different director): worse actors, cheesier storylines, and did I say worse acting? I will always love this show, but it definitely should have ended in its prime, not two seasons later.

5. Scrubs. Here's another I loved. I had the first four seasons on DVD. I even have a website of Coxisms bookmarked in my web browser. But the last three seasons, and especially the very last, was like a different show entirely. It just got...dumb.

6. Hannah Montana. Not because I've ever even watched a whole episode all the way through, but from the bits and pieces I've seen while my sister-in-laws devoured it (in their younger years of course), it had to go. Sorry Disney and Miley fans. Gag.

7. Mr. Sunshine. Sorry, Matthew Perry, but your glory days were over after Friends. Don't try to relive them. Because I think you were only good as one character and one character only: Chandler Bing. I know you produced, wrote, and acted in Mr. Sunshine, but it...sucked. 

8. Sarah Palin's Alaska. I'm proud to say I've never watched the show. And I'm proud for TLC for not giving it another go.

9. Smallville. I used to love it...until I realized after a few seasons that nothing new or exciting was happening. It lasted for ten seasons. And they got absolutely NOWHERE during that time. Enough said.

10. The Oprah Winfrey Show. Because I like to go against the grain.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Idaho Love

Though I missed the blogging community while we were on vacation for a week (and then some), I have to say that the break, from life in general, was like a breath of fresh air.

And though my kids and I missed lots of sleep and woke up with back aches most mornings, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

And though  I hurt my back and bruised my ribs from leaning over the car seat while trying to nurse Luke on the drive so we didn't have to stop countless hours in the car with small children was unnerving, the time with family was priceless.

It was a busy nine days, every day packed full of fun things, people to visit, and family to love on, and I wouldn't have had it any other way!

So I decided, in keeping with the Wordful Wednesday tradition, I'd post some pictures of my favorite highlights of the vacation to beautiful Idaho.

It's too bad we can't capture the real highlights on camera, though: the feelings and the love for the people most important to us. Because that was the best part of the trip. Seeing family and friends we hadn't seen in what felt like ages, and swathing ourselves in family love--something we so frequently miss out on here in Arizona, so far away from everyone we call family.

So I guess you can also consider this, in part, a Pour Your Heart Out post, too. I miss family so much. I miss that feeling of sense and belonging. I miss the feeling of fulfillment, that gets so abruptly interrupted when we have to journey back to Arizona.

Dave and I were talking about "home," and we realized that Arizona has never felt like home, and it's because, no matter the place, home is where the ones you love reside. And the ones we love reside in Colorado, Idaho, and Utah.

Besides, the desert stinks. Sorry to all you desert-lovers out there. The pines, the mountains, the cooler summer air, the green...that's my scene. And being around that again was such a refreshing break from life.

So to all you family who put up with us last week...we love and miss you so much, and valued every minute we got to spend with you!

Our trip started in Rexburg and Rigby, where we stayed with Grandma Mary (our permanent residence while Dave was in college the first four years of our marriage) and visited The Barton Family. There was a baptism (which was also the day Josh had the flu and threw up four times), a Fourth of July festival, fireworks (which Sam and Josh were both deathly afraid of), a movie night in the Barton "theater" (Country Strong: sad movie with a strong message), and many other great things between.

Dave and Mom on the 4th. And no, they didn't plan this!

Luke strapped to me at the 4th of July festival. Gotta love the "moby" wrap...even if he does get crooked after a while.

I also got to spend an hour with my best friend, Chloe, though I wish so badly we had longer. We hadn't seen each other in almost four years, but as it goes with us, we were able to pick up where we left off and it felt as natural as though I'd just seen her the day before. I love Chloe so much, and I love that God brought me to her as a freshmen in high school--my only kindred spirit on this earth.

Plus, it was a wicked wake-up call to how old we're getting so much fun to watch our kids play together for the first time.

Then we spent almost three days up in Salmon. Actually, it was in Carmen, at the base of the mountains around Salmon. Dave's aunt and uncle own a ranch up there that has been in the family for years, and is usually the gathering place for reunions, escape, etc.

And that's exactly what it was for me. There's something about that place: the remoteness, the beauty, the stillness. It's just the peaceful break needed from a busy, monotonous life. The scenery lets you breathe, lets your mind actually open up and think. And it's refreshing to know that places like that still exist in this world.

The green in the distance, at the base of the mountains, are the ranch fields.


Part of the view

We played, some worked (the child-less cousins changed pipe daily), visited, went to William's Lake, went to the hot springs, had a camp fire and roasted marshmallows, and even watched a movie on the trampoline under the stars one night, with a projector and a white sheet (Beastly: cute, alluring idea, but horrible execution and even more horrible acting).

Luke at William's Lake, protected from the sun in Grandma Julie's (Mom) t-shirt

Campfire songs, all accompanied by Jenni's guitar (and most sung by her, too)

And thanks to Mom and Jenni at William's Lake (they watched Luke, Josh, and Sam), I got to swim out to the little island with Dave and some other cousins, and cliff jump.

The dreaded cliff. It looks a lot less threatening from this angle.

And by cliff jump, I mean twenty minutes of mental preparation to jump off of a ten-foot drop. I'm just not as cool as my husband and his cousins, who can jump from 20+ feet, multiple times. A ten-foot drop, twice, is enough for me, thank-you-very-much.

And because of my deathly fear of heights, by the end I was weak and shaky from all that the fear took out of me.

Pathetic, I know.

And then to top it off, Dave and I thought we would take the short cut and save our energy (it was a good swim back to the dock) by instead swimming to the shore closest to us and hiking our way around back to the dock. After all, it was a straight shot.

Wrong. Instead we ended up hiking up and around the long way, through trees, bushes, dirt, and

I sorta felt cool for a minute, like Cody from Dual Survival...

Even with the gashes on the bottom of my big toe. And the fact that I had no sense of balance from my earlier adrenaline rush.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was when Dave took me on the dirt bike up Davis Creek (in the mountains that the ranch backs into), and it was just us and the pines.

On our way up to Davis. The bike stalled...a couple of times.

Me and the hubs

The trip ended in Utah, where we stayed at the Bartons' (a different Barton family) in Ogden so we could attend the Sessions family reunion at Cherry Hills the next day. It was a long, hot, tiring day, but it was a blast. The kids were cranky (and so was I for a bit), but the water park helped, even if the storm cut it short.

Sam even went on the rapids ride and because he's so light, his tube flipped and Dave had to catch him. He didn't like that too much. Actually, he hated it.

But we got in some playing before a storm rolled in, and Josh even fell asleep snuggling Grandma Julie afterwards.

We also visited Sam's grave at the cemetery in Utah (Dave's older brother, and our little Sammy's namesake), and every time someone said something like, "I love you, Sam," as they placed a dime on the headstone, our little Sam thought they were speaking to him and he'd always reply, "I love you, too." Too cute.

The trip was long and tiring, but as usual, went way too fast and ended way too quickly. And we look forward to the next one!

Family pictures Jessica took for us in Rexburg. Yes, I know Sam's making a funny face. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until looking at them after. And yes...I know my belly is hanging over my waistband. Ugh.

The best boys ever

Jess and the boys

Me and my Jess

This was on the first day at the ranch. We walked up the fields in search of two baby deer that were spotted earlier in the day, and instead of finding them, we took some pretty great pictures. Well, I should say Dave took them.

This was our last morning there. Goodbye ranch. We miss you.