Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's September 30th...Now What?


This day actually snuck up on me, believe it or not.

Wow. What a month it has been.

I'm bitten by the nostalgia bug right now. I feel a bit as though I'm graduating from something. I'm filled with sentiment and a dash of emptiness. No regret, though. (Well, except for that one day that I crashed without posting. A day that will live in infamy...)

As I bid adieu to the month my "Beautiful September", and I look back on my list of posts, I have to ask myself what I've learned.

1. Writing is not a strength everyday. Just like everything else, there are good days and bad days.
2. I need "me" time. And, writing can be that.
3. Prioritizing makes anything happen.
4. It is possible to burn out on writing. But, it is only temporary.
5. Writing daily truly transforms your thinking. There is a little burner in your mind that never really stops simmering.
6. Some days I want to write just for me - for no one else to see. Whether I keep it tucked away in a spiral somewhere, rip it up, or burn it, somethings are just for me.


Even after NaBloPoMo, I continue to struggle with some thoughts. For instance,

1. I read a quote from an author months ago that said something to the effect of "the day I became a writer was the day I stopped writing for myself and started writing for my audience". I have been through phases of thinking, with this blog especially, in which I've agreed and disagreed with that quote. True - it is MY blog. But, what good is a blog without readers? It may as well be in my spiral beside my bed. False - if I think not of myself, I don't like my writing...and if I don't like it, who will?

2. And, depending on which way the pendulum is swinging on that particular day, what is the purpose of this blog? Is there one? Is it a useful tool or a guilty pleasure?


And, finally, I'm left with a decision to make.

Now what?

The neurotic part of me sees this month as a failure. I missed a day. I cannot truly congratulate myself on a month of daily posting. Do I dare attempt a perfect month in October? If not October, another month?

The rational side of me, though, sees it for what it is, recognizes the feat it has been to pull this off - even imperfectly - and looks forward to the relief that comes from NOT "having to" post daily. That side of me also hopes that, without the pressure to produce even without true inspiration, the quality of my posts will improve and be more consistent. Elements of my life have definitely taken a blow from the relative neglect (even my sleep) because of this little pet project.

The insecure and needy side of me worries that perhaps my readers - even the silent ones - will go away. There is a nice reward in knowing folks are reading, even if their face doesn't appear on the sidebar and their name doesn't pop up in my comments.

So, here it is, September 30th, and I stand before you with many questions and few answers. I can say, though, that it has been a great month.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my Beautiful September. Even you, ghost readers.



That's all for now. I'll see you tomorrow for a little Girl Talk.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do you ever...?


Today, we had a fire drill. Nothing out of the ordinary. A monthly routine at my school of dreams.

Unbeknownst to me, as I stood in the Florida sunshine amidst a grassy field of elementary school students at attention and their teachers stoically patroling, waiting for the "all clear", there was one child missing.

BigGirl.

A sea of nearly 1300 students and she was unaccounted for.

Luckily for me, (a) I was in the dark and never suspected for a second that her whereabouts were ever in question, and (b) she was never REALLY missing. There was just a misunderstanding about procedures for handling students in her weekly enrichment class. (Whew!)

However, afterwards, when I caught wind of her "disappearance", like any good mother, I thought for a minute (or two), those crazy paranoid thoughts that we all (I) think sometimes. Do you ever do that?

I imagined myself standing on that same soccer field, but this time, there was smoke. There were sirens. Then, a handful of people run to me with ominous looks on their faces. Their hands are on my back; they're supporting me with their strength as they explain that she's missing. I'm frantically begging for a cell phone as I remember my Blackberry is on my desk upstairs.

I call FireDaddy and cry as I, hysterically, demand him to, "Get in that firetruck and get over her and FIND OUR BABY AND GET HER OUT!!!"

Then, I snap out of it.

This isn't the first time my crazy, random fears have manifested into ultra-realistic daymares.

One minute, I'm innocently driving over the bridge, completely at ease behind the wheel. The next, I'm watching my car launch off the side of the bridge and careening into the river below. I can see the water rising outside of my car. My windows are darkening with the dirty, polluted water. The smell of oil and gas fills my diminishing air supply as I breathe. I reach for my handy-dandy car escape tool that My Mama gifted to everyone one Christmas. I fumble to cut my seatbelt and - God forbid my children are in the car - cut their belts as well. I struggle to break the glass and keep my head free from panic. The water is cold and my girls are heavy in my arms.

But, I shake it off. My car is dry and calm and the Jason Mraz is singing one of my favorites. My eyes once again focus on the road ahead of me as I feel the tension leave my shoulders and jaw loosen.

The superstitious side of me worries about thinking these horrors. If I think them, will they come true? The supernatural part of me worries they are premonitions. Will these be like those dreams of mine that later come true? Though they seem purely fiction at the time, will they one day be alive? Will I one day recognize that old, familiar feeling filling me, and think to myself, "So this is how it happens..." Even now, by letting these hallucinations leave my mind and take a presence on the internet, I worry that I will open a door and permit them into my life.

Do you ever think these things?

(P.S. I told you I was neurotic.)


Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Mentions

The author of one of the blogs that I consider a guilty pleasure (especially on Fridays) has started a new blog feature. I thought it was a great way to share new finds, discoveries, and favorites in a concise way, so, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. (To be clear, it was open invitation. I'm not jumping in uninvited...this time.)

So, without further ado...

  • If you've been keeping up with me lately, you already know a little about the book I'm currently reading. But, another great book I read recently (recently is a relative term...especially given the fact that we're on the tail end of the back-to-school season) is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book, I believe, fell into my life when it did for a reason. I found peace and guidance in reading about Gilbert's own quest for pleasure and balance in life. This book was a thought-provoking read. Her story was easy for me to relate to and comfortable to read. If you haven't yet read it, be sure to give it a try.
  • This weekend I finally watched Blades of Glory. The day it arrived from Netflix, I smiled a giddy little girl smile to FireDaddy and waited for him to laugh in anticipation. Unfortunately, he did not. His reply? "Oh...yeah." Because of that reaction, I did not have high hopes for the movie. However, I love Will Ferrell and gave it a shot. While I would not say it was my FAVORITE of his movies, it was fun to watch and made me laugh. That's about all I was looking for, so sounds like a win for me! If you are into immature humor, like I am, be sure to toss it into your Netflix queue next time.
  • Colbie Caillat's new album has been a fun new addition to my Zune recently. You can check out the video to her single, "Fallin' For You", here.
  • If you're on twitter and haven't already checked him out, consider following @rainnwilson. (Yes, it's the actor who plays Dwight on The Office.) As mentioned above, I have an exaggerated appreciation for immature humor, and he's sure to dish it up on a daily basis. I've even been known to "retweet" his tweets via text messaging to FireDaddy (since FD isn't on twitter).
  • I recently bit the bullet and bought Super Straight Relaxing Serum by Pureology as my stylist had been encouraging me to buy for months. And I'm SO glad I did! My hair is soft, straight, and dries in half the time! I cannot say enough about how much I'm loving this new to me product. (And I don't know if I'm happy or disgusted that I just found it available on Amazon.)
  • This weekend, I did a little blog reading. (Emphasis on "a little".) One post I did get a chance to read was this one. Audrey talks about Facebook from a parent's perspective in a way that got my ball rolling a bit, too. Check it out.
  • Another post I enjoyed reading and thinking about was by my good bloggy buddy, Cheryl. Right now, she is my writing hero. She's inspiring me to slowly get off my bootie and write - for real.
That about sums it up for this week's Monday Mentions. If you're interested in reading other folks' mentionables, check in at the Daily Mish Mash for some links.

Happy reading!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Good Book

I have to be honest, I'd rather be reading right now.

I started a book this summer on vacation, temporarily (well, for a matter of months) abandoned it during the mad rush months of the back-to-school season, and recently picked it back up again. And now, I'd rather be reading.

I've found time for my book on the recumbent bike. It's my reward for giving the treadmill a good go. Afterwards, I get to sit back and enjoy some mind candy as I pedal.

The problem? That's really all the time I've had for it recently. You see, I'm swimming in a sea of papers to grade, an ocean of other school work, and a little aquarium of blogging. And there are these little sucker fishies who keep attaching themselves to the sides of my glass tank...

Perhaps you're wondering what book I'm reading. Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking by Aoibheann Sweeney, is the story of a girl who grew up alone on an island off the coast of Maine with her father. (No, not that type of island...this is no Blue Lagoon or Swiss Family Robinson.) She grew up alone, really, since her father was no companion. He was eccentric and reserved and could not, to say the least, relate to a young person. Now, she's moved to New York City to work and stay at an institute of classical studies. This is not something she's doing by choice, since she really doesn't know what she wants. But, she's doing it.

This book is right up my alley. It is the story of an internal struggle. A story of a character's journey in life and quest for themself, a place, fulfillment, relationships, truth. Right now, she's a fish out of water. I'm hoping, and crossing my fingers, that she meets a nice, young, handsome tang and they can find a little piece of coral to call home. I'm hoping that she discovers her own strengths, talents, interests and can get a job or find a school somewhere in the deep blue sea. But, unfortunately, I'm thinking things will get worse before they get better. There is definitely something bubbling under the surface that I was not expecting...

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm off to steal a moment or two for a chapter before my eyelids get too heavy.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A very uncharacteristic post, indeed.

FireDaddy announced today, "I'm done with NFL."

Woo-hoo!

I'm thrilled that he has come around to my way of thinking.

First of all, I really don't give two cents about sports, overall. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sports. They teach kids a lot of valuable skills, they keep teens off the streets and in school, and they are great for building community. But, they're not "my thing".

That is, with the exception of Gator Football.

Glory be, I love the Gators!

I've never been able to get behind any professional teams, especially on a long-term basis. There was the time (this is where I age myself) when the Magic was in the finals and it was, coincidentally, my Senior year in high school. The entire town of Orlando was on fire with their love for the Magic. Shaquille O'Neal had a sister that attended my high school and was in my graduating class. (In fact, Shaquille and I shared the stage momentarily at my graduation, but that's another post...) It was like sacrilege to NOT pull for the Magic. So, I watched the games a little with my Daddy and wrote "The Magic and Me are Winning!" in white shoe polish on the rear window of my little red Mustang. (By the way, I was completely aware that this was grammatically incorrect. I liked the alliteration, OK? And, I thought "Magic and Me" sounded a lot like "Magic IN Me"...I enjoyed taking literary privileges even then.)

Then there was the brief period of time I was a "die-hard" Jaguars fan. I was new to the Jacksonville area. My father-in-law had season tickets and we enjoyed frequenting games with Club Seats. (The ONLY way to experience NFL, if you ask me.) But, after spending a little time in the stands, I quickly realized that the atmosphere in an NFL stadium is nothing like the atmosphere in the Swamp...or any college football stadium, for that matter.

It's a matter of heart. And, it's a matter of money.

I am completely turned off by the monetary motivations behind all things NFL. It's too commercial and that makes it a bit trashy to me. (Here's where I get tacky...) I do not enjoy sitting in stands with middle-aged, overweight, drunken men. I do not enjoy watching adult men report to work on a football field. Personally, I cannot summon loyalty for a team that will drop it all and leave for a few more bucks, especially when they're already making quite a few bucks to begin with.

What I DO enjoy, is singing songs and screaming your heart out on the sidelines of a game filled with passion, tradition, and youth. I love the "your life on the line" feeling the players and fans still feel - even when the game is a given. I love their commitment and drive, even if it does cause them to do stupid things like play football while they have the flu. I love the intense rivalry between foes, especially when they're fun-loving and good-humored about it. (Which, unfortunately, isn't all of them...) That is something I can get behind.

I'll never forget watching the 1996 National Championship game from my parents' couch. I was SO worked up, anxious, and tense my Daddy told me I should take a walk! "Go run around the block!" he laughed.

Last year, my parents, FireDaddy, the girlies and I all watched Florida play in the SEC Championship game from my den. Earlier in the day, BigGirl had danced at a holiday recital. We left as early as possible to rush home and support The Boys from Old Florida. Together, we shared that same sense of urgency and nervous tension. I saw myself in BigGirl's eyes as she bit her lip and pleaded for a win. We broke out good luck pillows and t-shirts; we cheered loud enough to be heard through the television. It was definitely a win we'll remember for a long time to come.

Today, BigGirl and I showed our pride and decked ourselves out in our Gator Girl gear. As we drove down the road, I overheard BabyGirl in the backseat announce to BigGirl, "I SEE GO GATORS!!!" The car beside us proudly flew a Florida flag. Their subsequent conversation was brief, yet adorable. They squealed their delight and sang a quick little cheer.

I know some NFL teams have heart. I know some NFL fans have die-hard loyalty. But, I believe, it's fewer than those without. Blackouts, contracts, criminal players - they've ruined it. And, quite honestly, I wouldn't mind if they go bankrupt. All of them.


Glitterized by flmnetwork.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

TGIF - and I'm not being sarcastic.

You all know the world would be a better place if more people consulted me before making decisions, right? Well, I agree.

Early this morning, I was making (another) statement to that effect about some decision made by some unnamed person with which I, apparently, did not agree. BigGirl overheard me speaking about their "brilliant decision" and interjected.

"Doesn't sound like they were brilliant to me," she corrected me.

"I know. I was being sarcastic," I explained.

Throughout the day, I became increasingly aware of how much I must use sarcasm...at least on a Friday. (I'm hoping that I just tend to be more sarcastic when I'm tired. Surely that's it, right?) Everytime I said something sarcastic, BigGirl picked up on it. "Was that sarcasm?" "Are you being sarcastic?"

I don't usually describe myself as sarcastic, but from where I'm sitting right now, wow. I need to cut back! I feel like the smoker who finally opened their eyes and realized how many packs they were smoking each day. And, to think, I have wondered from where my darling daughter gets her flippant replies and tart little remarks??

I'm reminded daily how much work I've cut out for myself...just imagine her as a teenager!

On a happy (unsarcastic) note...

Congratulations, Cheryl! You won the free poster from digitalroom.com! I'm sure the picture of your neices will look FABULOUS - and what a great gift idea! :)

TGIF, everyone! May your Saturday be super and your Sunday be simple!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trashy Dime Store Paperback Novels

Welcome back, Thursday! It's time again for a little Girl Talk!


Today's question: If you were in a romance novel, what would your story be?

First of all, like a few other participants, I've never really been into true romance books. I remember being a teenager and reading teen versions of romance books. I read my fair share of books with titles like Two Boy Cruise, So Inn Love, and other bubble gum teen novels like that. As a young adult, I locked myself in my room and cried all day as I read Gone With the Wind and other period romances (Eugenia Price books, for instance). I have shed at least a gallon of tears reading books by James Patterson and other authors who really know how to write about LOVE. Tragic love. But, I've never really been big into the "novels" that are really more of a lady's version of porn.

So, I'm feeling a bit uncreative with this, but I am telling the truth.

If I were in a romance novel, it would be a historical piece. But, I think I'd rather it be more of an Elizabethan era romance. I'd like to taste a little forbidden love. Just picture it, everyone is inside this gorgeous, gilded mansion, dancing in neat and proper rows. Ladies barely touching their dance partner's palms as they curtsy and step lightly in formation.

But, one lovely lady (a.k.a. THAT'S ME!), politely excuses herself from the party. Perhaps she is even betrothed to someone else. (Surely he's wealthy and a well-suited match for her station.) But, she doesn't love him. Secretly, she tingles and blushes for another.

She innocently meanders into the evening air, where, unbeknownst to her, the man who owns her heart is alone. Quietly, stealthily, one thing quickly leads to another and...well, who knew corsets could be undone so quickly?

So, who is this secret lover for whom she decides to risk it all? Well, he would ABSOLUTELY not be one of those sissy, prissy men you see depicted in historical fiction at times (Ahem, Ashley in Gone With the Wind...). He would be masculine, an excellent horseman, and, of course, handsome. Dashing. Drop dead gorgeous. His eyes make women swoon and his grin stops hearts. Perhaps he's a bit badly behaved at times...just enough to start a few whispers and gossip among the ladies. He would be socially accepted, yet remain truer to his heart than to the rules of etiquette and society. In fact, perhaps he need not be socially accepted, after all. I'm thinking a cross between Rhett Butler and Mr. Knightly (Emma by Jane Austen).

The rest of the story, I don't know. But, it has to have a happy ending. I really don't care for sad endings. Sad endings happen enough the real world; they are unnecessary in fiction.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Dinner" is a Dirty Word


Pain in my butt: it's what's for dinner.


Being a wife and mother has COMPLETELY taken all the enjoyment out of dinner. So much so, in fact, that I'm seriously considering banning it. Quitting dinner all together.

For real.

Some people quit carbs. Others quit meats. Why can't I quit dinner?

Nine days out of ten, all I'd really like to do for evening nourishment is grab a handful of wheat thins (or two), eat a bowl of cereal, pop a bag of popcorn, or scavenge for leftovers in the fridge. But, the world does not revolve around my needs and desires, I put aside my own wishes for the health and well-being of my family. (What? Even if it's McDonald's it's better than starving them, right? Hmmm...jury's out on that one...)

What's more, dinner is a pain in my butt before it is even TIME for dinner. It starts early in the day when, just for a moment, your mind wanders to the future tense. "What am I going to fix for dinner?" This question has plagued my existence since the day I said "I do." I'm 90% sure that I even murmur this in my sleep. In fact, I'm probably thinking about it WHILE I'm eating dinner!

Perhaps this problem is unusually severe for me because I bore so easily when it comes to meals I prepare. I had a friend growing up whose mother assigned a meal each day of the week. (Monday = meatloaf, Tuesday = chicken casserole, Wednesday = Taco night, etc.) The schedule NEVER varied. They even scheduled in a take-out night! I could NEVER do that. I need AT LEAST a few weeks in between repeating menus. (I'm the same way with my clothes...it's part of my neurosis.)

Additionally, FireDaddy has this odd preference for pork. (I blame his Tennessee and Kentucky roots for that.) I, on the other hand, being a Texan, strongly believe in beef (in all forms) as my "go to" meat. So, on the frequent occasion (I guess I don't learn quickly) that I, once again, ask him for dinner suggestions or preferences, his reply is predictably, "Something other than red meat." At that point I feel like throwing in the towel. You see, he also doesn't really "do" vegetarian dishes. If there isn't a meat, at least in a sauce or concealed in a noodle, it will be noted.

But, really, this is just one third of the problem.

Enter BigGirl. She could live off of chicken nuggets alone. That is ALL she EVER wants anymore. I take that back, on occasion she will request spaghetti (with meatballs or meat sauce).

Now, enter BabyGirl. She, in sharp contrast to her father and sister, is like a pint-sized vegetarian in training. She will eat EVERY vegetable and ANY fruit under the sun...but does NOT like meat. Any meat. With the exception of a chicken nugget or two (under intense parental pressure) and beef enchiladas (my girl), she manages to avoid meats at nearly every meal.


I am, however, determined NOT to raise lifelong picky eaters. I am also determined not to cook separate meals for everyone at the table. So, here's my philosophy:

1. If you come to my table, you will be pleasant.
2. If you want to have dessert or anything other than what is served (i.e. small snack later, etc.), you must eat some of everything on your plate. (Usually it at least one bite per years you are old.)
3. If you don't like what is served, you are not REQUIRED to eat anything. However, you WILL NOT spoil my dinner (which I alone worked to prepare, and I alone will clean up afterwards) by whining, crying, or fighting. You also will not have ANYTHING to eat until the next morning. Period. End of story.


This has been working "OK" for me. I understand I'm dealing with little people and nothing is going to be perfect at first. It takes time.

However, I'm about two seconds away from adding a number four to my list. This one applies to FireDaddy, too.

4. If I am the only one cooking and cleaning, then I am the only one who has input in what's being served. If you want input, you need to get your bootie in the kitchen (or even the grocery store!) and help out.

And, if you don't like it, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE AND EAT! I will be just fine left alone with my bowl of cereal, thank you very much!

Now that I've said it, I feel a little better. But, then again, dinner is over for the night. We'll see how I feel tomorrow night around 5 o'clock.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Natalie Told Me To Do It.

If you've read any of my other blog (yeah, it's pretty dusty right now), you know that I love Natalie Goldberg. She's an author and writing guru...and she has taught me a lot. (OK, so maybe not PERSONALLY...but her books have taught me a lot.)

It's times like these when I really rely on her help to pull me out of the bottom of the barrel. You see, sometimes, I'm itching on the inside. I want to write. I feel like I NEED to write. (And, this month, I need to publish.) However, you don't always have the words. Natalie (yeah, I'm on a first name basis with her... in my mind) told me that I can write about anything. If I can't figure it out, start THERE.

But, sometimes, starting "there" would lead me somewhere I don't have the time or energy to go, if you know what I mean. So, sometimes, she tells me to start with JELL-O.



I love JELL-O.

Can you believe that FireDaddy and my girlies DO NOT LIKE JELL-O???

As a child, my brothers and I would be thrilled when Mama would make us JELL-O and serve it for dessert after dinner. I remember her brown glass dish she always made it in. The little, tiny bubbles that congealed around the edges of the bowl. The fun wiggle and shimmer on the surface as we watched her take it out of the fridge, waiting hopefully as she poked it lightly to see if it was really ready.

She served our JELL-O in cute little clear glass Pyrex souffle bowls with fluted edges. We cut out bites with our spoons and swished it between our teeth, turning it into a thick, bubbly liquid. It was a simple pleasure. So sweet and good.

Mama also made us JELL-O when we were sick. She tenderly asked us what color we preferred, red or green, before she boiled the water and stirred, stirred, stirred, dissolving the powder. It made for a nice change of pace from the Saltines, Sprite, Gatorade and beef bouillon (which, I must say, I also love).

The speed set method was a great improvement. Now, instead of waiting hours and hours for our sweet treat, it only required AN hour or so. Jigglers, though, never did anything for me.

Now, my refrigerator is almost always stocked with JELL-O cups. I'd love to say I buy them for my girls, but THEY DON'T LIKE IT. So, I buy it for myself and pack them as a guilt-free lunchtime dessert. Red and green, with the occasional orange. I've experimented with those newfangled flavors on the shelves at Publix these days, but they just aren't for me. I'll stick to my tried and true, red or green, please.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my tummy is growling and I hear some JELL-O calling my name.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Friend Launched a Writer's Crisis

There I was, happily doing a little light blog reading this evening. Dinner was in the works, FireDaddy was trimming the viburnum out front, and the girls were happily chillin' out in La La Land. Unknowingly, I decided to read the latest post by my friend, and NaBloPoMo amigo, Cheryl. In it, she talks about scheduling uninterrupted time for personal writing, and implies how the internet and blogging has eaten hours of her time.

Guilty. Yep. 100% guilty.

No surprises there.

So, what's the big deal? Well, I started thinking, which is NEVER wise for too long. (I'm neurotic, remember? I'm famous for over-analyzing things...)

I, too, would love to one day be a published author. A real, live, author. A FOR REAL, not just blogging, author. I'd love to see my own words IN PRINT...on PAPER...in a collection of other pages of print...bound together with some sort of adhesive and strings and stuff. You know, IN A BOOK.

This thinking has quickly launched a writer's crisis in me. Well, perhaps it's just a blogger's crisis. Right now, I'm ready to go grab a pen and paper and write things down that I don't want to share. I want to reclaim my permission to write JUNK. Permission to be a crappy writer and just WRITE. Permission to forget all about audience for the day.

But, you see, I'm sort of in the middle of something...(National Blog Posting Month, in case you need more direct hints). And, it's sort of become a "thing" to me. I need to do this. I don't like to fail (even though I technically failed very early on, but I've decided to heck with their rules and I'm doing it for me).

So, here I go...I'm abandoning my blog for the night. (It's a little too late for that, right?) I'm going off to my bedroom to tuck myself away with a spiral and a pen (again) and write whatever it is I dern well please - whether you like it or not!

But, I'll throw you a bone...here's an unfinished draft I found in my post list. Hope you enjoy! (Perhaps it sounds more professional to call it a "cliffhanger" rather than "unfinished"...)



WANTED:
New home for five year-old girl. Must not have your own children. Must live in Florida (she doesn't want to have to speak a different language). Must be available to help plan a birthday party in June.

It happened this week.

She told me she didn't want to live with me anymore. She's moving out. She's leaving home.


Well, that was the plan for about 12 hours at least.

7 AM - Fire Daddy wakes me with startled: IT'S SEVEN O'CLOCK!

CRAP!!!

All four of us need to be dressed and walking out the door in FIFTEEN MINUTES! There was NO WAY...

I bypassed the panic button and opted for creativity...er, bribery.

I dashed to "the pink room" and lovingly snuggled up to my Big Girl in her drooling slumber and whispered, "Baby, it's seven o'clock. We're supposed to be leaving in a minute and Mommy and Daddy just woke up. If you girls get dressed and ready really quickly without any fussing or whining this morning, Mommy will buy you a prize this afternoon after school!"

(And in that moment, I officially became the worst mother in the world...blatant disregard to all known good advice...)

Regardless of my poor parenting skills, the strategy seemed to work for a few minutes. The girls were somewhat more cooperative than usual, though Big Girl was very slow moving. The Littlest Princess was amazingly easy-going (call it luck) and she and Fire Daddy were out the door in no time.

Big Girl and I, though, hit rock bottom. All she had to do was put on her shoes and socks while I brushed my teeth (and otherwise dressed myself). Instead, she chose to sit and do nothing, insisting her hair was brushed first. You could call it a conflict in priorities, I guess....or task avoidance.

Inevitably, the reminders grew harsher, the friendly prods turned more towards jabs from a hot poker, and my soft, sweet, loving, tender voice morphed to an onslaught of shrill, wicked threats. Until, finally, after the last warning had been declared and no improvements were seen, the gig was up. It was over. She'd lost it. No prize for her....

...and the Littlest Princess had proudly been promised her reward.

As you can imagine, all hell broke loose at this point.

Doors slammed. Tears streamed. Words were spoken that could not be retracted, though I'm not sure she proclaimed "The H Word" at all (as I would have as a child). And she announced her desire to live somewhere else.

When a mother hears these words, it is a turning point. You can react to it many different ways -- and, in my hyper-analytic, neurotic way, I think how you react says a lot about you....especially in that little person's mind. Well, it would have to MY little mind at that age...

So, what I said was this...

"I'm so sorry, Baby. Mommy's really going to miss you."

I wish I could have been inside her mind to hear know what she thought when I said that.




Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thumb Wars


Few people, other than parents, know about the extensive, pre-dental demands of the Tooth Fairy. She has managed to maintain her unblemished reputation using just about any means available to her...even blackmail.

Right now, my family is flirting with breach of contract. We're teetering on the brink of disaster. The stress is catching up to us. The pressure is on.

You see, on the night a baby cuts their first tooth, the parents of said baby have a sit down with none other than The Fairy herself. She reviews the terms of her contract (brushing daily, trips to dentist semi-annually, candy, juice, & gummy snacks only in moderation, sugar-free gum, no bottles in bed, etc.), the parental parties lock in on their fixed or variable rate agreement for the price of each baby tooth, and the deal is sealed with signatures in triplicate.

Overall, adhering to this contract has not been too difficult over the years. Until now.

Item 1.203.b of the Fairy-Parent Pre-Dental Agreement states clearly, "Upon the release of the first baby tooth, the bearer will no longer partake in such oral habits such as pacifiers and/or thumb-sucking."

Tick-tock, tick-tock. The deadline is quickly approaching.

A few weeks ago, BigGirl woke up and excitedly declared, "I HAVE A LOOSE TOOTH!" FireDaddy and I quickly inspected and confirmed her discovery - it was her first.

I quickly explained to her the new urgency and importance of curtailing her thumb-sucking. She grimaced as she took it all in. "Because if you suck your thumb as your big teeth are coming in, your teeth will be crooked and you will have to have BRACES! And they HURT! (I know because I had them.)" I tried hard to instill a healthy dose of fear for her own dental future. It was a waste of my breath.

Ms. Nice Mommy has now left the building. All of my sweet, gentle methods of encouraging her to stop sucking her thumb are now a thing of the past. We've used band-aids, nail polish, and Thum in desperation. We continue to try to scare her into compliance, as well, with tales of sore teeth and monthly orthodontist visits for tightenings from my past. Stories of her aunt, who required a dental appliance (a SHARP, POKEY one that HURT her thumb) to stop, do not seem to worry her. Thum worked for a day or two, but now she seems to have found a way to suck it off! We now scold her every time we see the thumb in her mouth, but now she just hides and sucks her thumb.

I am at a loss. I do not know what to do next.

I remember seeing a mother and daughter in a store one day a year or so ago. The daughter was much older than my BigGirl. I remember noticing a brace on her thumb and thought her thumb must be broken. Wrong. A minute later, I heard the mother explaining to someone that they were trying to stop a "bad habit". That is the only idea I have left in my bag of tricks.

I need to hear from you, readers. Have you know anyone who fought this battle? Are YOU a recovering thumb-addict? Do you have experience with Thumb Interventions?

Let me know! What can I do to help my BigGirl beat this addiction before it destroys her dental health and we are sued for breach of contract???

(P.S. FireDaddy keeps threatening to use his pocket knife, and I'd really hope to avoid permanently disfiguring her hand.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NaBloPoMo Challenges

Some of you may recall that I am participating in a web event this month called NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. Overall, I've been doing quite well. Although I technically fell out of it early on when I missed a day - even though I did the make-up work the next day!

Today, though, I am struggling. It's not that I don't have anything to say, but that what I do have to say is really not suited for this venue.

My day presented me with news of a death in my family followed by a perky little jaunt to the mall and, finally, a surreal visit with my mother-in-law, a woman currently knee deep in the battle against lung cancer. At this hour, I am left a bit empty, to say the least.

What I'd LIKE to say is about the delicateness of life and death. The relativity between the two. The older I get, the more I believe the line that separates the two is not a sharp black line of permanent ink, but a soft line sketched in pencil, jagged and imperfect.

I'd like to write that I see gaps in the line. Places, times, conditions that force people into this twisted, non-life state. Your car sits in the driveway for weeks on end, untouched by your presence. Your world become small and tight. Little things, like a trip to Walmart, become large. Until the gap in the line around you finally closes in.

What I'd LIKE to write about is how a person can leave this life and immediately, that tiny existence their days had become, is immediately free to breathe again.

What I'd LIKE to say is how odd and selfish it feels to watch your child ride the dollar carousel, coo at puppies in a store, and play on a playground while others are dealing with death and disease. And how easy life would be if you could just stay there.

I'd really like to write all about how families need to grow up and put differences aside, whatever they think they have to lose, when they approach the line. Because NOTHING is worth that much.

I'd love to write all about the good in people and how, when you're near that sloppy line, the good shines through them like the morning sun through the bedroom window. But, if you're not there in the room, you'll never see it and feel its warmth.

It would tickle me pink to write all about hurt feelings. And wounded egos. And alterior motives. And greed. And competition. And how none of those things matter on the other side.

And, I'd love to write about forgiveness. Forgiveness is the hand we hold as we cross the line, even though we leave this life alone.

But, this is not the place for that. And so, I'll close my browser and head off in search of a pen and paper.

And that, my dear readers, is why NaBloPoMo can be a struggle.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Friday...

I think I'm starting a new tradition.

Friday = Day of Celebration

It started with exhaustion. Three Fridays in a row, the girlies and I (mostly I) drug ourselves home after a long week, too tired to consider the prospects for dinner. Enter online pizza ordering. Quickly, punctuating a streak of school days with a pizza dinner has become a tradition my girls adore. (And, thanks to weekly emails from takeout pizza places, I'm feeding the family "out" for under $20, tip included.)

Of course, being the wannabe overachiever that I am, I couldn't leave it at that. Last week, the girls and I baked a triple chocolate cake for no reason other than (a) gluttony, and (b) it was Friday. Fortunately for us, we were still able to find a reason to celebrate Saturday and Sunday...and even Monday night! (We, conveniently, ran out of reasons to celebrate as soon as the cake was gone.)

This weekend, I've wondered, how am I going to follow that act?

Well, with pizza (and bread sticks - the other part of this week's special) in my belly, I've decided upon a giveaway.

Yes! You read that right!

DO YOU FEEL LUCKY TONIGHT??? (If not, don't worry...you've got a week.)

I am SO excited to announce my first Friday Freebie!!!

Here's the deal:

Thanks to the kind folks over at DigitalRoom.com, one super-duper lucky reader (residing within the US only....sorry. I know I'm really big overseas and all...) will receive a FREE 18x24" rolled poster print.

BUT, WAIT! THERE'S MORE!!! I know some of you (MyMama) might be thinking, "Do I have to pay shipping?" HECK, NO!!! Because included in this fabulous prize is FREE shipping via UPS Ground service. (I'll do my best to pull some strings and dig up the hottie customer service representative that used to deliver to my place of business a few years back. He was SOOO cute professional!)

Now, if you're like me, you're probably in the process of sizing this giveaway up. "What do I need a 18x24" poster print for? Do I really need this? What are my chances of winnng? What do I have to do?"

First of all, I can think of lots of different things to do with this poster.

Ever watched HGTV? Have you seen how they take your own family photos and blow them up in black and white, find a frame, and **presto** you've got very expensive-looking and chic wall hanging?

Expecting a baby? Working on a nursery? Take close-up photos of baby items or realia centered around the nursery's theme (i.e. off center photo of teddy's face, a great picture of fresh flowers or a butterfly, an extreme close-up of a toy firetruck, etc.).

Are you a teacher? Perhaps you've been looking for a reward for a special child or special goal. Classroom decoration? Or maybe you would like to enlarge an image to create your own classroom reference poster?

Finally, perhaps you might be interested in a little PhotoShop fun...Would you like a poster of yourself with someone from YOUR "List of Five"? Want a souvenir from that trip to Europe you never took? Get creative and have fun with this fun Friday Freebie!!!

Now, here's how you can enter to win:

1. Leave a comment explaining how you would use your poster if you win.

But that's not all!!! THERE'S MORE! Want to improve your odds? You can also...

2. Tweet about this giveaway using the tag #giveaway and link back to this post. (Leave a separate comment here to increase your chances of winning after you've done this .)
3. Share this post as a link on Facebook. (Leave a separate comment here after you've done this.)
4. Are you a blogger, too? Blog about this giveaway! (Leave a separate comment here after you've done this.)

The deadline to enter to win is Friday, September 25th, at 8PM EST.

This is so exciting! I can't wait to play!

Good luck, everyone! Don't forget to stop back in next weekend to see who won!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big Girl Panties

This post is sponsored to you by the gals at www.girltalkthursday.com.

In order to protect the classiness of this fine establishment, gentlemen, please do not read past the logo. It's time for a little...



Today, it was my turn to deliver dancers to the studio. It was a crazy day and as I drove I was mulling over lots of to-do lists and scattered thoughts. At some point, the squeals from the "way back" [3rd row of seats] penetrated through my thoughts, causing me to glance up into my "kid cam" mirror (you know the one, the second rear view mirror I keep in my car permanently focused on my daughters' seats - a.k.a. the eyes in the back of my head).

There, in my car, sat two nearly naked six year-olds. They were stripping to their little girl panties and trying to dress for dance without getting tangled in their seat belts. I laughed to myself at their shrill sounds of delight, and remembered the confidence that comes with childhood. And the tight little booties.

How many times have I thought to myself, "Man...if only I looked like that..." If my buns looked that good in leggings... If my bootie looked that good in hipster bikinis by the pool... If only I looked that cute in bootie shorts...

Over the course of my lifetime, I've worn just about every type of undergarment a woman (or man?) can imagine. Granny panty briefs (as a child), bikini bottoms, hipsters, thongs, lacey, cotton, synthetic, satin, no line, frilly trimmed, you name it.

And that's just talking about the lower half! I've worn training bras, sport bras, regular bras, lightly lined, demi-cup, full cup, underwire, racer back, nursing bras, sleep nursing bras, stick-on, front closure, long line, strapless, built-ins, custom cups sewn into evening dresses, and more.

There are some "extra" pieces, too. In the winter, I often wear camisoles as I layer for warmth. And, MyMama successfully brainwashed me growing up..."nice girls wear slips". Of these, I've worn both half and whole, long and short, with kick-slits, and without. I've even worn MATERNITY slips. (Although I do have to admit...I have a few knit skirts with fold down tops that I can't wear a slip under...they twist and ride up with a slip on.)

When I really reflect on my career as an underwear model in cognito (yeah...don't want to blow my cover so I try to keep that little secret under lock and key), regardless of the make and model, I liken underwear to hormones. They can change everything about you - your appearance, your mood, your ability to concentrate on a task at hand, constantly need tweeking, and they can transform your marriage....for better or worse.

That being said, perhaps it is not what we say of our underwear, but what our UNDERWEAR says about US...

Right now, I'm really wishing my underwear drawer didn't look quite so much like a tornado had struck.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Entitlement: My Arch Nemesis


I don't know if something in me has changed, or something in my daughters has changed, or if it's just the alignment of the planets, but recently I feel like I'm at war with my babies.

I've drawn a line in the sand and I am prepared to stand my ground. The prize for which I'm fighting, tooth and nail? School day mornings free from crying, fighting, kicking, screaming, and franticly peeling out of the driveway to race to make it to work on time. (The neighbors have complained about the morning screeching of tires and I've noticed people pointing curiously & whispering at all the tread marks in the street in front of my driveway...)

Recently, I hauled BabyGirl to school barefoot and in her nightgown to prove my point. "I am leaving in five minutes whether you're dressed or not." I have delicately dangled Hannah Montana over their heads to "lovingly remind them of my expectations." Today, I pulled the rug out from beneath their feet ...no dance class.

Unfortunately for them, the warnings didn't sink in until it was too late. And then, once the deal had been sealed, they REALLY went through the roof. They kicked the volume of their hysterics up a notch (or two)....and BigGirl found the guts to confront me.

"You're just so MEAN sometimes."

Wrong thing to say. (This was also shortly after she made the mistake of asking "why" when I asked her to do something.)

"MEAN??? You don't know how GOOD you've got it, girlie!"

I proceeded to run down the laundry list of privileges my daughters enjoy on a daily basis: countless toys, nice clothes - that they get to pick out, new backpacks when they don't even need them, cool lunch boxes, dance classes, tumbling, chocolate Pop Tarts for breakfast and Oreos in their lunch. They don't do CHORES. BigGirl barely even puts her laundry away, even WITH me helping. They eat junk food and chew bubble gum. They get to wear sparkles in their hair and borrow jewelry from me and sleep in my bed with me and buy new books "just because". I fix food that they LIKE and only make them eat a few bites of things they don't like. They get to run into gas stations with us and get juice and snacks. They have it MADE.

SOME kids have chores to do and don't have a lot of toys and never get to eat Happy Meals. SOME kids don't get new school supplies or lunch boxes and can't take dance classes and get pretty hair cuts. MY mother NEVER would have let me eat junk food for breakfast, or run into a gas station and get sugary juices.

"And if I had asked MyMama 'WHY' when she asked me to do something, she would have spanked my bottom so fast I wouldn't have known it was coming!!!"

BigGirl, old enough to understand my rants, softened her anger fairly quickly. It was beginning to sink in. On the way to school, she talked about wishing dance didn't cost us money. It should be free so everyone can go. "...or at least cost like one cent!"


I know I'm not alone in this war against entitlement, but sometimes I wonder how many are really fighting on my team. Entitlement courses through our culture like the blood in our veins.

But not everyone.

This morning, I raced out from the garage -- bangs bobby-pinned back, make-up half applied -- to deliver the trash can to the trash guys. AND APOLOGIZE for being late.

I am the shopper who, upon realizing I've forgotten a bag at the register, rushes back to the store with my fingers crossed, carrying an apology on the tip of my tongue. I let my gratitude gush if they were kind enough to hold my bag.

I am the driver that, at the Clerk of Courts office this week, tried desperately to explain my way out of a citation for an expired tag. You see, I had actually renewed it prior to the day I was pulled over, but had forgotten to put the receipt and proof in my car while I waited for the tag to arrive in the mail. But, when it wasn't looking too promising for me, I said to the cashier, "Well, if it doesn't work out it's not a big deal. I WAS late renewing...so I guess I EARNED this ticket." (In case you're wondering, I did get lucky in the end and only had to pay a $10 fee. Woo-hoo!)


Perhaps my own sense of entitlement began to fade after receiving a few letters from my grandmother sometime in my teenage years. She, in no uncertain terms, reminded me of my privileges in life. She reminded me that my parents worked very hard for everything we had and I, a sassy little teen, had done NOTHING to deserve the riches I enjoyed in life. NOTHING.

That stung a little....but it was so true.

And now, this morning, I stood in my kitchen and uttered those same words to my daughter. And it stung me a little still today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parenting Tip #297

Driving home with a migraine pumping itself up for a hostile takeover? Kids laughing and playing in the back seat starting to feel like a jack hammer in your head?

Step 1: Solicity sympathy and cooperation. "Please, be quiet. Mommy has a headache and I'm beginning to feel like I'm going to throw up."

Step 2: If your darling bundles of joy are still unable to control their happy little outbursts, a verbal warning is necessary. "You are being loud and that makes me feel like I'm going to throw up. And, if I have to throw up in this car, I'm going to throw up in the lap of the loudest person."

Step 3: Check for comprehension. "Got it???"


Happy parenting!

Friendship Plan


As BigGirl and I spilled ourselves and all of our miscellaneous carry-ons into the school parking lot this morning, she was positively in a tizzy.

"Mommy, I really need your help! I just don't know what I'll do about this!"

I, completely confused as to what was her problem - except for the fact that it was taking her a solid 5 minutes to get her skinny little bootie out of the backseat, with or without her backpack - hurriedly asked for clarification. (As my arms motioned like a flight attendant for her to move to the nearest exit - PRONTO.)

"I need a plan! Today is my day to play with Bestest BFF, but Friend B will want to play too...I just don't know what to do!"

Dumbfounded (though I'm not sure why I was surprised), I quickly preached the "more the merrier" schpeal. "You know, that's why a party is more fun than just a playdate. It's more fun with more friends."

"I guess I'll just have to tell her that it's my day to play with Bestest BFF...but, HOW WILL I DO THAT? HOW CAN I DO THAT? I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW I CAN DO THAT!"

At this point, resolved that she was NOT going to go for the merry threesome idea, and feeling my stress level frizz as fast as my hair in the morning air, I gave up. "Here's an idea: SAY IT. Use your words. That's why God GAVE us words!"

As we, at long last, began moving toward the building, BigGirl hauling her worries on her back and I hauling my entire office in a cart behind me with one hand and the all important venti skinny vanilla latte in the other, she laid it on the table.

"Mommy, I just need a Friendship Plan. That's all there is to it."



This is just the latest in a long line of heart-breaking girl tiffs that she has suffered through this year. While BabyGirl is busy planning her white wedding to Don Juan Jr. (scheduled to be held in her preschool classroom sometime this year... and we're all invited), BigGirl is crying in the hallway.

On the morn of her "Friendship Anniversary" with the all important Bestest BFF, she arrived at school all decked out in her finest diamond drop earrings, diamond encrusted arm cuffs, and a diamond (blinky-light) necklace. Apparently, not all first grade girlies are confident enough to pull off this level of adornment and SOMEONE felt the need to point out the fact that she does NOT have pierced ears. (Gasp!!! The horror!) Instead, she was wearing (scandalous, I know) CLIP ON EARRINGS!!!

Girls, girls, girls.

My BigGirl, not the type to brush something off without hurt feelings, nor the type to say to her classmate, "I know. These are clip-on. Not everyone has pierced ears." and let that be the end of it, was crushed. She refused to go to school. She came down with a headache and possibly a fever. She needed FireDaddy to come A.S.A.P. to pick her up.

Unfortunately for her...and my officemate who had to listen to the wailing...AND BigGirl's crying, I threatened an embargo on all television privileges if she did not hightail her hiny out of my office chair and march that bootie downstairs to her class. She went reluctantly (and still in tears). Funny, the Motrin didn't seem to help the headache and "fever"...but, with an apology, she was cured.


Why am I rambling about this, you ask? What is it I'm REALLY trying to say?

I am SO not looking forward to the day the hormones start to kick in. Dear God, someone may need to take me out back and put me out of my misery before then.

Scratch that.

I can't leave them alone with FireDaddy.

Dear God, someone is REALLY going to need to get me some stronger pills before then.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Can't we just be friends?...but not on Facebook, OK?


.....bzzzzzz.......bzzzzzzzz........chirp, chirp.........chirp, chirp.........

The red light is flashing on your Blackberry.

Your mobile Facebook app alerts you to a new friend request.

WHAT???? WHO???? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!

The last time you spoke to them you were red-faced, tear-streaked, humiliated and desperate. They dumped you. (Or, the other way around...the last time you spoke to them, THEY were red-faced, tear-streaked, humiliated and desperate...and you just wanted OUT!) NOW they want to be your friend on Facebook???

Do you...
(a) "ignore" and never look back.
(b) scope out the profile and THEN hit "ignore".
(c) choose "confirm" and ignore their existence.
(d) choose "confirm" and let by-gones be by-gones.
(e) choose "confirm" and then go check out your OWN profile to see what it looks like from the perspective of an ex-boyfriend seeing it for the first time.


Forgive me, dear readers...but, with the VERY RARE exception, I really don't need to be friends with my ex-boyfriends on Facebook -- and I CERTAINLY would NEVER be the instigator of said friendship!!!

It's bad enough when you get those awkward friend requests from Cool Kid or Not-So Cool Kid who you barely knew and aren't even sure if you share any connections outside attending the same high school and MAYBE the same graduating class. I am dying to say to them, "We didn't find it necessary to be friends when we lived in the same neighborhood and/or attended the same school, why on Earth should we be friends NOW?" But, instead, I weigh the factors carefully and selectively confirm or ignore on a case-by-case basis. (In some cases, this decision has actually hinged upon consulting other Facebook friends -- thank goodness for that "you have 7 mutual friends" alert!)

It's times like these when I roll my eyes at Facebook. Sometimes it feels like the 5th year of high school....and high school REALLY doesn't need to extend beyond four, now does it? (If you answer yes to this, perhaps you should analyze your own Facebook friend requesting patterns.)

So, for future reference, Random Person That Apparently Went To My High School, it's nothing personal...but if you're the type who sends out friend requests to everyone Facebook recommends as long as you vaguely recognize their name, just skip right over poor little me, please. And don't take it personally if you never hear back from that friend request you sent. It can't be personal because I DON'T KNOW YOU!

Except in the case of ex-boyfriends. I do know you and it is personal. That part was decided LONG AGO, buddy.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have some profiles to go check out.

(I'll let you decide who's profile I'm headed to....)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Simplicity


Today has been a simple day for me. A day to declutter and decompress. In keeping with my decluttering mode, I'll attempt to simplify my post today. Which is going to be hard because, well, I like to talk a lot...er, type a lot.

I gave my daughters a gift this morning. I gave them a Stay At Home Day. Big Girl nearly jumped for joy when I gave her permission to wear a mismatched outfit that she, apparently, adores. Baby Girl has been in hog heaven with her baby stroller, jewelry and flavored chapstick...half the time wearing only panties. I think she's a nudist trapped in a three year-old body.

I have been busily laundering and folding, emptying the dishwasher, clicking the mouse, paying bills, talking to the doggies, and generally doing whatever it is I feel like doing. No worries today.
As I walked from my bedroom to the girls' room one time, I noticed Baby Girl lying on the floor pillows in the den with her finger up her nose. "Baby, do you need a tissue?"

"Yes, I need tissue."

As I passed back through the room I handed her a tissue and left her to take care of her business.

A moment later, on my way to the kitchen, I noticed she was chewing on something. "What's in your mouth?"

"A booger. A booger from my nose."


Nice. What a Little Princess.

Back to my simple life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Super Saturdays


I absolutely love Saturday. It is my favorite day of the week. It is the most optimistic of all the days, the most relaxed, the most free. The world lies before you on a silver platter. For once, I feel like I've captured a little bit of that elusive thing called "time".

I love to crawl out of bed before everyone else and steal a few minutes alone. My early rising companions, Bo and Daisy, often join me on the back porch to enjoy the pleasant morning breeze. Some days I read, or write, or talk on the phone to fellow early birds like Mama Dearest. Other days I may just enjoy breakfast in peace.

I love to lounge around for hours before getting dressed. The morning kids' shows with BigGirl and Littlest Princess, internet surfing and blog reading are all well and good, but mostly - it's just delaying the chore of getting dressed that I enjoy.

I love propping up on my bed after it's been made. My bedroom, gently lit by filtered sunshine, is a cool and relaxing place. It's even better when the house has a slight chill, making my throw blanket necessary for cozying.

And Saturday television is the best. Years ago, when it was just the BigGirl and I if FireDaddy was at the station, we enjoyed the occasional (OK, so maybe it was more "routine" than "occasional") PBS marathon. For years I was too cheap to pay for cable, so PBS was the best choice around for weekend viewing. We knew what time the cooking show marathon began and we'd memorized the lineup like pros. America's Test Kitchen, Fast Food My Way with Jacques Pepin, Everyday Food, Daisy Cooks!, BBQ U, and Julia child: Lessons With Master Chefs. We both stayed glued to the screen (and our seats) for hours. (Yes, I know that was not the best parenting move for my child's developing young mind. But, luckily, she doesn't seem to have been harmed by my negligence.)

Even as the day comes to a close, even if you realize you've completely wasted away the day, you've still got the hope and promise of one more day off. Sweet, sweet, Sunday...but that's another post.

Sadly, I cannot say I spent my day like this today. I did enjoy some early morning quiet outside with my doggies. I did spend a few hours, after returning home from necessary weekend errands, propped on my bed (even if it was behind my computer working on school stuff). I did get in some quality giggle time with my girlies (even if it was flanked by bickering and whining). And, best of all, I am, once again, putting myself to bed banking on the promise of Sweet Sunday. Tomorrow, I hope to never leave the house at all.


Pssst! This weekend, if you get a chance for some relaxing internet surfing and blog reading, be sure to stop by my buddy's blog. Even though she's in Portugal right now (and has posted some GORGEOUS pics of her vacation), she's hosting an anniversary giveaway. Just keep your paws off the coffee cozy. It's mine, babe.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Je me souviens.

Eight years ago today a lot of "Fire Daddies" died. Not mine, but hundreds of other little girls' and boys'.

Roughly six years ago, I attended my first firefighter's funeral. I'll never forget that day.

Jack had been a helicopter medic in Vietnam. FireDaddy used to tell me about nights when he got even less sleep than usual for a night at the station because of Jack's nightmares. They plagued not only him, but all of his bunkmates, too. But, Jack was a good guy. Everyone loved him. The little Fire Babies loved him like a grandpa or crazy uncle. And, he sure did like them back.

He was a handsome, gray-haired man. Pictures of him from long ago, from the days when his children were young, were displayed on storyboards at the back of the sanctuary.

The wives arrived separately from their husbands, many of whom were attending while on duty. Our men looked handsome in their uniforms and white gloves. But they were in pain, and their faces showed it.

I, with my nursing baby, watched from a small "cry room" in the church. Thankful for the 13-inch black and white monitor perched in the corner of the room, I nursed and rocked through my tears. I recognized my husband's figure standing beside the coffin with his buddies.

I was not prepared for what happened when they removed from that quiet casket, first, the fire helmet, and then the flag...

I knew the sound. On most days, it meant "get up and go". The sound that interrupted lunches with wives and kids, Thanksgiving with the families, workouts, sound sleeps, favorite TV shows, white knuckle football games, trips to the grocery store, and hot dinners on the stove. The sound that, on any other day, made their heart race with anticipation.

The tone went out. Then, the faceless woman at dispatch, perhaps the same woman who fetched my husband from a fire the night I went into labor, announced the last call for Engineer Jack. And just like that, she toned out again. And it was over.

Afterwards, FireDaddy silently disappeared around the corner of the church, one in a sad, sorrowful line of firemen. Their heads and bodies slumped. The sadness weighing their shoulders down. I hardly recognized them.

These were the men who flirted with me, laughed with my husband, cooed at my baby, played pranks on each other, drank together, ran together, lifted together, cooked together, ate together. They had nicknames for everyone. They shared a bond made sacred over spilled blood and branded with fire. They shared secrets they couldn't share with anyone else. They had a trust they had with no one else. And now, they were without one.

When they finally emerged from their momentary retreat, they said little. Until we all, a whole family, broke bread. We hugged. We laughed. We passed babies and smiles around the table.

That was six years ago. Our family hasn't been the same since. I cannot even imagine what the families who lost many, not just one, suffered. I cannot imagine how empty their hearts must have felt.

FireDaddy has a tattoo on his heart. It is a black maltese cross split in two by a red line. Surrounding it, "Ut vivant alii "....

So others may live.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where am I going with all of this?


This blog was supposed to be funny, and sometimes it is. This blog was supposed to be a "mommy blog", and sometimes it is. But, what I'm discovering is that this blog is just as neurotic as I am. Like many blogs I read, it is less about a category or a style or a genre of writing, and more about ME.

Me, glorious ME!!!

But, I digress....

Tonight, I considered submitting an old post to BlogNosh. As I read and explored the site once again, I realized that none of their "channels" really fit me and my blog.

Last night, as I was tackling giants, I took a brief break to write about tackling giants. FireDaddy asked me, "Are you still working or are you playing?" I was working.

He didn't buy that. "Neurotic, Yet Classy is PLAY," he argued.

That is what I said when I started this. I remember telling people this was my "recess". But something has changed.

I put this on my to do list and really want to get to it. Perhaps it's NaBloPoMo. I want to know if I can cut it. I want to make it to the end. (Which is really a mute point because I've already missed a day...but I made up for it!) I want to accomplish that. But even if it weren't for NaBloPoMo, I do have a bigger goal in mind...I'm just not sure what it is yet.

True, it is still a "me" thing. (Aren't all bloggers at least a little narcissistic at times?) But that's not all it is.

So, I stand at the threshold of another post tonight and many exercises are running through my mind. Exercises I turn to when I'm just not feeling it yet. Or, perhaps when I'm "feeling" it, but can't put my finger on it. And yet, I yield. I wonder if this is the place for those things. Those words. Those stories. Do you mingle stuff like *that* with stuff like *this*? Do you bring your baggage - whether it be good or bad - to the playground?

I war with myself about this aspect of blogging. Do I write for me or for my readers? (You know, those 17 people have a lot of pull in my world.) Where am I going with all of this anyway? What is my goal? Do I have to have a goal? Am I really just completely self-absorbed and none of you really give a flying flip what I write about -- or even IF I write at all??? Do you? Do you give a flying flip? Huh? SAY SOMETHING, WILL YA?



(And this is where I realize I've gone too far.)

Welp, guess it's back to the drawing board. I'd better get down to "work", right? Enough of this silly stuff for one night.

Ain't gonna Nablopomo no mo' today.


**Postscript: Just wondering....Do you have a favorite post from Neurotic, Yet Classy that you would submit to BlogNosh if YOU were me, glorious me? If so, would you be so kind as to leave a comment reminding me of my glorious writing? ;) And don't worry...if you can't remember the titles, just say something like "the one where you ....." and I think I'll be able to figure it out. Thanks!

Photo credits:
I love this photo. It reminds me of one of my favorite Monet paintings.
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