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Tiaras and Trucks

Sunday, July 31, 2011

If It Has To Rain

We continue to meander through my bucket list, though there's still a bunch on there, and the Back to School ads are beginning to paper the walls.  We'll just have to step it up a notch!

run through sprinklers
truth be told, it was running through the hose set to "sprinkler"
I had to hose them off after the park; they were so sweaty and covered with wood chips!
cleaned off and cooled off, Dylan ran around in a diaper until bathtime

go to an outdoor concert

the concert was at a little stage at an outdoor mall
but the kids and some friends danced and ran and smiled for an entire set
for days, Abbey talked about the "girl singer with the half tambourine"
no pictures, because even I don't take my camera to the mall

go through Dylan's baby clothes

this 
became this
it's a work in progress, but the clothes are organized or donated!

splash in puddles with the kids after a summer rainstorm
it was still hot
and steamy
she dressed herself

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye - A Book Club Selection

A lifetime ago (literally, since it was before Dylan was born!) I taught middle school language arts.  One of the things I loved was finding quality young adult literature; books I thought my students would love but that I found interesting to read and well-written.

Sarah Dessen is a young adult writer, but she crafts characters and books that adults can enjoy alongside the teenagers in their lives.  I recently read What Happened to Goodbye as a BlogHer Book Club selection, a book about a teenage girl who changes her name and changes her look in an attempt to change her past. 

Interested?  Come over to the BlogHer Book Club to see what I thought about Mclean Sweet's attempts at reinvention.  Hope to see you there!

Dylan's not reading What Happened to Goodbye
in the interest of full disclosure and all
I just can't resist a cute reading photo

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Hear Greta Run - Revisited

Back in April, I wrote out this playlist, with explanations, for Greta.  It was originally done as a character study, but I had always wished I would have written it as a narrative piece.  Her story has its own tab at the top, but hopefully this stands alone if you haven't read any of her pieces yet.

With this week's Red Writing Hood prompt asking us to rewrite an old piece, I decided to pull this up and see what I could manage with the 400 word limit.  I cut out a couple of songs, but I think the spirit of the list remains intact.  The referenced songs are underlined and listed at the end of the post, since I don't identify all of them by their artists and/or actual song names.

She started with a jog barely faster than a walk.  Counting weeks on her fingers, Greta grimaced.  What did REM know about losing faith? 
Clicking the small square clipped to her shorts, she landed on Bleeding Love.  Her feet automatically fell into the lyrical rhythm, and she felt her mind probe at the idea of her divorce.  Letting the music seep through her defenses hurt, but she forced herself to Breathe as her muscles warmed, beads of sweat glistening at her temples.
Finished with her warm up jog, Greta sped up her legs to keep tempo with Destiny’s Child.  Listening to Survivor, she enjoyed the wind against her face, drying any tears that may have threatened to fall.  Concentrating on the newfound strength in her legs, she didn’t notice the well-muscled runner pass, slowing his pace to glance back at her, appreciating the determination in her stride.
White Wedding might have been skipped a month ago, but now she smiled, picturing Billy Idol’s eyeliner instead of James’ impeccably pressed tuxedo or the expensive dress languishing somewhere in the depths of her mother’s attic, never welcome in the sunlight again. 
Still learning her limits, Greta let her legs get swept away into the 80s electric keyboards.  Her feet pounded the sidewalk: left, left, left right left.
Sweat slid down her forehead now, trailing burning sunscreen into her eyes.  Irritated, her rhythm faltered as she pulled at the bottom of her tank top to swipe at the offending mix of sweat, sunscreen, and yesterday’s mascara.  Slicking back her bangs with both hands, she shrugged a little. 
This look?  Not so sexy, but living alone meant no one would see it.  Maybe tonight, before meeting the girls, she’d have a half glass of wine and talk herself into wearing the new jeans.  Maybe tonight she’d even wear them without a trendy tunic top swallowing her increasingly fit frame.
Her eyes closed for a moment, already hearing the bass calling them to the dance floor, the five of them dancing with abandon, the way they had before rings and promotions and diapers had crowded their calendars into a jumbled mess of happy obligations that meant a girls’ night was an occasion and not another Saturday night.
The music propelled her forward, gasping for breath; her legs heavy but sure as she ran too quickly back to her apartment.  Greta was not afraid of pushing herself.  Not anymore.

Greta's Playlist 

Losing My Religion (REM)

Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis)

Breathe (2 AM) (Anna Nalick)

Survivor (Destiny's Child)

White Wedding (Billy Idol)

SexyBack (Justin Timberlake)

Just Dance (Lady Gaga)

Not Afraid (Eminem)

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Operation Organization

Yesterday, I complained a little about our house.  The post had been floating around during runs and in my writing notebook for a while, along with today's post, which is about how to work with what I've got.

As Abbey and Dylan grow, our house shrinks.  Toys and crafts and books and shoes litter the floors and shelves and closets.  Unfortunately, not even Abbey's imagination can conjure up a Fairy Housemother to whip up a new house or even an addition to the one we have, so I'm going to have to work a little magic of my own.

Enter Operation Organization.

I'm not a physics genius, but it stands to reason that since I can't create more physical space in my house, I'm going to have to reorganize what's inside the space we do have, including eliminating some of the unnecessary clutter.

I've made resolutions.  I've scoured IKEA for ideas.  I've browsed Pinterest for even more ideas. 

I become overwhelmed by the possibilities and not knowing where to begin and get distracted by the shoes on Pinterest and wake up to find that my Fairy Housemother not only forgot to leave me a new house but didn't even wave her wand at the stuffed menagerie taking over Dylan's room.

I'm hoping that by putting my organizational plans out there for you to read, I'll feel compelled to keep up with my plan.  So hold me accountable, ok?

Basically, I hope to move a lot of the toys to the basement, organize Dylan's room, better organize Abbey's room, and carve out a little area I can use for writing. 

I'm going to start with Dylan's room and closet, because his mini-closet somehow ceased to be a clothes closet and became a hazardous catch-all for seasonal items, outgrown clothes, Halloween costumes, crib mobiles, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Dylan's room is on the first floor, meaning it's become a little bit of a playroom as well
this is what it normally looks like outside of his closet
because this is what it looks like inside his closet
I decided it was the best place to store our winter coats, snowsuits, and zebra costumes

See, it's not pretty in there.  If you don't hear from me for a few days, feel free to check our local IKEA store.  Or the neighborhood bar.

Hopefully I have a much neater and user-friendly closet to show you soon!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too Many Cooks

Rumbling constantly, the air conditioning attempts to keep both the heat and humidity at bay, but they manage to seep in through the tired bones of our eighty year old home.  My narrow galley kitchen absorbs the heat like a sponge, challenging me to attempt a meal in the oven.
 
Carefully strategizing, I plan for the week, grasping for ideas that use the crock pot or waffle iron or any other appliance that doesn’t add to the thin layer of sweat that follows us inside after a killer game of hopscotch.
Even lifting the crockpot to shred the chicken filling for our tacos emits enough heat that I rewrap my hair into a ponytail.
Abbey and Dylan are pulling pots and Tupperware out of cupboards to cook at my feet, carpeting the already-miniscule floor with an obstacle course of stainless steel and brightly colored lids.
Abbey pulls open the refrigerator for her water.
I twist around her to grab the salsa.
Dylan pulls open the drawer for a box of macaroni and cheese to shake around and hide in an unrelated cupboard.
I step over him to pull out the taco shells.
Irrationally, my eyes fill with tears.
I dream of an open kitchen, flowing into a dining room or living room where Abbey and Dylan could play, within eyesight but safely out of the way of the hot stovetop.
I dream of a fenced-in yard, far from the main street on which we’re now situated.
I dream of a little desk in a little cubby, where I can write and plan and organize my thoughts when the kids are in bed and Ryan is studying.
I wipe the tears before they fall; these dreams are out of reach for now.  With the plummeting house values and my lack of income, moving won’t be a realistic “to-do” on our list for at least a few years.
Weeks go by when I don’t worry about the shrinking walls, though the overwhelming amount of kids’ stuff needs to be addressed soon, but there are days it consumes me.  I worry that I’m being selfish, sacrificing a job that may have helped us to move sooner. 
Will they resent our miniscule backyard?  Our cramped kitchen?  The way I freak out the moment they get a little too close to the street, cars dangerously close to the curb?
Then Abbey pulls me over to her easel, dragging her little stool in her other hand.
“Mommy.  I LOVE our house,” she exclaims dramatically, without cause or explanation.
My worries will return, but in that moment, I am at peace with our home, even if our house could use some work.
because there's nothing like crushed Cheerio dust to add a little fun to a crowded kitchen
two oven mitts - she means business

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It All Began with a Vanity

It seemed so simple.

Pull out the outdated vanity in the bathroom, toss it in the trash, and install a pedestal sink.
Have you seen pedestal sinks?  They’re compact and don’t have many parts.  I couldn’t think of an easier first project to ease ourselves into home ownership.  HGTV figured prominently into my television viewing line-up, and pedestal sinks were so basic they didn’t even have their own show.
Looking back, I must have known it wasn’t going to be exactly painless, because I neglected to tell Ryan about my plan before enlisting my mom’s help to rid the bathroom of the offending vanity sink and cupboard.
Awkward and unwieldy, it protested only slightly as we pulled it into the hallway, making room for modern, streamlined bathroom décor.
Not wanting to sit on the curb alone, the vanity convinced parts of the plaster wall to come along on its next journey, leaving gaping holes in our bathroom wall.
Undeterred by the prospect of patching a wall, I stood by the decision to start remodeling before even deciding on a paint color.
My eyes drifted down, noticing that the tile border along the floor stopped where the vanity had once started.
We would have to find matching tile.
Inspired by the unique and quirky finds HGTV home designers manage to conjure from thin air, I traipsed out of the house to buy some tile.
Trips to several tile stores failed to find matching tile to continue the border.
Trips to several more tile stores failed to find anything remotely close to complementary tile to continue the border.
Discomfort began to set it as we pulled the rest of the tile away from the wall, planning to replace it with wood molding.
Projects always take a little detour, right?
More wall damage.
So we would need thick wood molding.
Perhaps we could paint it a funky color, like an HGTV home designer would.
Still more wall damage.
Make that extremely thick wood molding.
Maybe white molding would work.
We lacked any knowledge of miter saws and cutting on an angle and somehow making straight, extremely thick wood molding fit against the curved wall in our bathroom.
Ninety-seven trips to Home Depot, several panicked calls to my dad, and countless borrowed tools later, our bathroom was again presentable, complete with a gleaming white pedestal sink.
I turned off HGTV.
Lesson learned.
the prompt:
start or end with "lesson learned"

a little note: years later, when cleaning out our basement, we found an entire box of brand new tiles, obviously leftover from the bathroom project
curse words were spoken
giggles ensued

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Monday, July 25, 2011

My Sea Legs

Running late, I slide on the flip flops near the back door, glad they're teal, glad they're comfortable, glad I don't need to run back to my room to find another pair of shoes.

I strap Abbey and Dylan into their seats, crank the air-conditioning or roll down the windows, slick on my Burt's Bees chapstick, and sing along with Abbey on the way to our destination.

I forget about the flip flops.

Then I glimpse myself walking in a store window, and I do that familiar double take.  Who is that short person pushing our stroller?  The one with the rounded legs and ungraceful gait?

Suddenly, I remember the flip flops.  I feel the plastic between my toes, the lack of arch support, the flatness of my walk.

I wish I had worn my wedges.

When I get home, I bring these down from my closet and carefully place them near the door, vowing that they'll replace the flip flops as my easy, running late companion.

A simple wedge, about three inches, they wear fabric that invokes a feeling of the tropics.  I've never worn them to a luau, but they don't know that.

Just as easy as flip flops, I slide my feet along the fabric-covered raffia as I open the door for Abbey, scooping Dylan from the top of the landing as he clicks the baby gate closed behind him.

I throw my over-sized tangerine purse onto the floor under Dylan's seat, make sure they both have a book or toy or cup of water before settling into my own seat, adjust the volume on the radio from my drive to the gym last night.

The routine hasn't changed from the day before.  We walk this path day after day; the dance of getting out of the house is one all three of us could do blindfolded.

But today, when I walk past a storefront, I recognize the reflection.  A messy bun, hair still wet, sunglass-free because I've broken another pair, pushing the stroller and steering clear of Abbey's heels as she insists on walking a little too close to her brother.

My stride is confident, natural, leg muscles slightly defined.  I'm back on my sea legs, three inches off the ground.

Come join my friend Kir and me (and a bunch of other shoe lovers) on The Summer of Sole Sisters shoe sharing blog hop!  Or just come and feast your eyes on some cute summer shoes.  See you there!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Few More Drops in the Bucket List

My Summer Bucket List is getting checked off a little at a time...


play bubbles

 
nothing but the utmost in bubble concentration from these two

walk to get ice cream after dinner
(ok, it was before dinner, but after lunch!)


paint my toenails (ok and my fingernails) bright blue


enjoy the heat (it won't be along for long)

 
Abbey's new favorite heat-enjoying hair styles
braids or a "ban", known to the rest of us as a bun

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Disclosure

This piece is part of Greta's Story.  It happens sometime after The Godmother and before What She Wants.  Of course, I hope that it can stand alone if you're not familiar with her storyline.


He found her slumped against the wall, lean legs stretched in front of her.  Baby weight had never had the courage to creep into those legs.  Tears clung to her eyelashes, unsure about falling.

“Lu?  You ok?” Paul asked, concerned.  Louise’s tears were usually reserved for an audience, maximizing their effect.
“You know she’s my life, right?”
“Elisabeth?” Paul asked, confused.
Louise nodded.  Paused.  Sighed.  Blinked back her tears, letting them moisten the glittering blue orbs into sapphires.
“Did something happen to –“
“No!  Oh Paul, no.  Nothing like that,” Louise answered, unguarded, adoring eyes wandering to the Moses basket where their young daughter slept, curled around her closed fist.
Letting out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, Paul sank to the wood plank floor next to his wife.  Perfectly diffused light danced around their feet, chipped polish beautifully lit, the reason Louise had fallen in love with this house.
Louise slid her feet around Paul’s, leaned into his shoulder, and sighed again.  Paul breathed in the scent of her hair, lavender, and as familiar to him as the dramatic façade that hid her better, secret emotions.
“It’s just that my career, my photography career, had just started coming together,” she explained, patiently, sighing again.
Paul barely let himself think that one fashion shoot didn’t make a career.
 Love, loyalty, and honest appreciation for her talent prevented him from losing confidence in her, even when he rationally knew how high she was reaching.
“Becoming a mother doesn’t mean you’re not a photographer anymore,” he said, instead, gently speaking into the top of her head.
“Vogue’s not exactly seeking out moms taking senior pictures between nursing sessions.”
Frustrated, she pushed her camera across the floor, carefully gauging its weight to make sure she didn’t slam it into her wide desk, sleek and modern across the windowed wall.
“Some days I wish I would have been more like Greta.  She made sure she had this amazing career before even thinking about starting her family,” Louise said, wavering between petulant anger and envy, her genuine love for her sister-in-law keeping her from fully realizing either emotion.
Paul compulsively swallowed, suddenly unable to find any moisture in his throat.  Hiding things from Louise was foreign to him, but his sister’s miscarriage hadn’t seemed like his secret to disclose.
“Lulu.  I, uh...  Lu.  I need to tell you something about Greta.”

the prompt:
Write a short fiction or non-fiction piece inspired by any or all of the photo

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sleep Tight

He cries out in the middle of the night.  Instinctively, my eyes fly open, waiting to hear if the next cry is louder and more urgent or a softer whine indicating he’s on his way back to sleep.  Hearing need in his voice, I roll out of bed, my feet groggily stepping over the gate at the top of the stairs, counting stairs in the darkness.

I always offer water, but usually his sip is brief, a quick swallow before he buries his head into hollow between my chin and my shoulder.
His chubby fingers reach up, tangling into the back of my hair.  Out of habit, I sing to him, usually Baby Mine or Little Boy Blue, but I know he is ready to return to his crib when his grip on my hair relaxes, fingers still caught in the messy strands of sleep.
 

The four of us read together at bedtime whenever we’re all home, curled together on the big bed in Mommy and Daddy’s room before Dylan and I walk downstairs, pausing to say goodnight to Abbey as Ryan tucks her into bed.
Tonight, though, Dylan is inconsolable that tooth-brushing time is over, and I have to take him downstairs to read on the glider, kissing Abbey briefly, so she can listen to Fancy Nancy without hearing him sob.  After a few moments, he calms down, snuggling into his crib with his blankets and musical dog.
Climbing the stairs yet again, I open the door to my girl’s room, ceiling covered in stars projected from her stuffed turtle, always the violet stars.  Her smile beams up at me from her pillow, eyes sparkling, arms reaching up for a goodnight hug and kiss. 

Mama’s Losin’ It
prompt 1...
the simple things
their sleep habits are questionable, but they sure know how to melt my heart as they're keeping me awake and dependent on coffee

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Never Too Early to Christmas Shop

Have you seen Bellflower Books?  They are absolutely gorgeous keepsake albums that can be personalized for any special occasion you would like to commemorate.  A feature that I think makes their service really special is the ease with which a group of people can work together to collect their thoughts, photos, and special words for someone they all love.

I can't think of a more unique gift, although I have to admit I am torn between ordering one for someone special or ordering one for myself!

Bellflower Books was started by two women, women who have been friends for most of their lives (seriously, you can see their childhood photos on their blog!)  They've created something lovely together, and now they're opening up their blog to recognize special people who may not always realize how much they're valued and cherished.

I'm honored that the ladies at Bellflower Books are lending me their space today to talk about a truly gorgeous and irreplaceable woman in my life.  Please join me at the Bellflower Books blog to read more about her!



Photobucket
I'm not being compensated by Bellflower Books for this post, except for the space on their blog for the guest series post!  I genuinely think their company looks amazing, and I can't wait to create a Bellflower Book of my own one day.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slow Down

Mascara dampens my eyelids the minute I open the front door to leave the comfort of our air-conditioned house.  Humidity immediately presses my lungs a few inches smaller, Ryan’s words “take it easy” ring in my ears before I insert my earbuds and quiet the world around me with music.

Starting slowly isn’t a problem.  A little sore from the previous day’s long run, my muscles need a few minutes to find ground.  Balmy air blankets my body; I felt my legs picking up pace, the heat working out aches and worries at the same time.  The fast stride is freeing, but I force myself to slow down.
Left.  Pause.  Right.
Right.  Pause.  Left.
Thick, hazy air lulls my legs into submission, slowly moving along to the cadence I had planned.
Left.  Pause.  Right.
Right.  Pause.  Left.
Propelled by muscle memory, my body pushes through the familiar route without thought, allowing my mind to wander.  My growing to-do list plays on an endless loop in the background.
Dinner for the week – turkey burgers, tacos, homemade pizza.
I should make bread tomorrow.
Bangs or no bangs?
Need bananas.
Milk.
Right.  Left.  Right.  Left.
You and me could write a bad romance.
Left.  Right.  Left.  Right.
Lady Gaga invades my subconscious.  My controlled pace quickens with the beat.  Sweat burns my eyes.  Slow down.
Working against the music, I concentrate on matching the slapping of my feet against the pavement to my mental count. 
One and two.  Three and four.
Slowing down should be simple, especially with sweat coursing down my back and the muggy air tangling my ponytail into a damp nest against my neck.
It’s not.
I can’t imagine that Lady Gaga slows down when the lights on stage get too hot.
Focus.
Slow down.
Five and six.  Seven and eight.
Go Brooklyn, go Brooklyn…
LL Cool J pulls my legs into a slower, smoother run, offering relief from the pounding beats that normally pulse out of the metallic pink square that logs all of my miles with me, clipped to my shirt or shorts.
Relaxed, my arms swing back and forth.  Dusk threatens to slide into darkness.  I fleetingly wonder how fireflies know to glow as the night fades.  Maybe they blink on and off in the daylight, but they’re eclipsed by the sun?  An easy fact to find, but I intentionally let the question dissipate into the air behind me.  Some magic shouldn’t be explained by science.
Back and forth.  Back and forth.
One and two.  Three and four.  Five and six.  Seven and –
The hill.
The one that always hurts.
Up and down.  My legs are pistons, tired yet strong.  Up and down.  My breath catches.  Up and down.
The ground levels out, and I gasp a little before regaining my breath and my stride.
Left.  Pause.  Right. 
Right.  Pause.  Left. 
I want somebody to speed it up for me, then take it down slow.  There’s enough room for both.
Right and left.
Left and right.
Madonna might be onto something.  An almost imperceptible breeze grazes my cheek.
Right.  Left.  Right.  Left.
Home.

the prompt
Write about a time that rhythm, or a lack thereof, played a role in your life. And don’t use the word “rhythm.”
thanks to Lady Gaga (Bad Romance) LL Cool J (Doin' It) & Madonna/Justin Timberlake (4 Minutes) for getting me through a steamy run

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Her Hiding Needs Work

Today starts my co-hosting week over at The Red Dress Club!  Please come over to visit today, where I'm talking about overcoming fear in writing, and the rest of the week.  Don't worry; I'll remind you again!

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With Dylan soundly asleep in his crib, Abbey curls into my side, bringing a book or two or a pile to read, a combination of trusted friends like Angelina Ballerina and new books from the library. 

Minnie Mouse.  Cinderella.  Vera Rides a Bicycle.  Her head grows heavy against my arm, and I take a moment to inhale her hair; our moments alone, calm and still, are fleeting.

Napping is out of the question.

Some days, the books lull her into relaxation, and she wants to watch "a little TV," which means an episode of Angelina or The Cat in the Hat or WordWorld.  Those days, I steal a little time with the laptop on the couch, letting her lean into me and point out her favorite parts.

Other days, reading rejuvenates her, and we have quiet adventures - crafts, trips to her imaginary zoo, well-known games, and those she invents as we go along.

And so began our hide and seek adventure, a game quiet enough to play with a sleeping toddler paces away, our giggles muffled into hands and pillows, rushing back to the counting spot in the kitchen if we grew too rambunctious.

She's an excellent seeker, despite (or maybe because of) her varying counting times.  She counted to fifteen.  She counted to three.  She counted to eight.  And then eleventeen, which she continues to use no matter how often we talk about it not being a number. 

Standing in the middle of the living room, she scans the room and checks possible nooks and crannies until she discovers me with a teasing: "I fooouuund you!"

But we need to work on the hiding.  She has three strategies.
 
1) Hide behind the couch cushions, burying her head and using the "I can't see Mommy, so she can't see me" approach.
2) Hiding in the exact spot where she just found me, sometimes as I am walking to the kitchen (our counting spot).
3) Telling me where she's planning on hiding.

We need to hone her hiding skills before she starts playing with people who don't pretend that it's tough to find her.
behind the couch cushions is her favorite hiding spot 
she fits under there much better than I do 
sometimes she thinks if she can't see you, she's invisible 
like I said, she likes hiding behind the cushions 
coat closet 
she turned into a princess while I was counting to fifteen

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thing One & Thing Two


Shell, at Things I Can't Say, is drumming up baby fever* with her cuteness overloaded Rockin' the Baby link-up.  Without further ado, here are a couple of vintage shots of Abbey and Dylan.

*any baby fever in this house will be unfulfilled, but tired moms should feel free to drop off any newborns for holding and snuggling if you need a break

one of my favorite baby pictures of Abbey
she's three months and already so silly 
cutie patootie Dylan
he was so chill and didn't mind being posed any which way 
because even Baby Elmo loves babywearing

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not Too Shabby


Elena, at C. Mom, has a fabulous challenge going on right now to celebrate the things we like about ourselves.  I've truly enjoyed reading the posts that have been written all week, but I had a difficult time writing one of my own. 

A post about the things I'd change?  I could write one every Saturday and two on Sundays, but writing one about things that I would keep exactly as they are?  Let's just say this one didn't exactly flow like water from my fingertips.

I kept working at it, though, and I came up with a few things that make me smile. 

1. I'm stubborn.  While this may not seem like an admirable quality if you're arguing with me about the merits of Dirty Dancing as one of the best movies of all time, it comes in handy around mile eleven of painful half marathons.

2. Building muscle comes fairly easily to me.  I used to wish for the willowy limbs of a Calvin Klein model, circa 1994, but muscles come in handy when my almost thirty pound little Dylan still wants to be carried around.

3. I'm a bookworm.  I can devour a book like Kobayashi on a hot dog.  I'll read almost anything and retain strange tidbits of information that make me a welcome addition to both book clubs and trivia teams.

4. Change doesn't bother me, and I'm fairly spontaneous.  I adapt easily to new situations, which is helpful with a moody preschooler and a toddler who doesn't like having his diaper changed on public changing tables.

5.  Optimism is my middle name.  (Not really.  My parents aren't crazy; it's actually Danielle.)  I try to find something positive to appreciate about every situation.  Sometimes I even sing "These are a Few of My Favorite Things," which makes Abbey smile and Dylan laugh, and that is sometimes all we need to get back on track.

6.  I can't hold a grudge.  I'm a little thin-skinned, so my feelings get hurt when they probably shouldn't, but I get over it easily and without any lasting resentment.  I hope I still feel like this when my teenagers are sneaking out of the house and cursing me for ruining their lives when I punish them for it.

7.  I like my sense of humor.  It's a little dry and a little sarcastic and a lot silly, which means I can find the funny in episodes of The Office and impromptu dance parties in my living room, with or without the kids.

8.  I'm a girlie girl.  When my optimism fails me, I'm easily bribed back to my happy place with a copy of In Style or a new lipgloss, even something cheap that wears off in thirty-two seconds.

Eight's my favorite number, so I'm going to end here.  I hope you can take a few minutes today to appreciate a few things about yourself, too.
taking self portraits with our very special crowns
Dylan misses so much during his naps

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Regaining Her Footing



the prompt:
I'd like you to write about your character (or yourself) and a pair of his or her 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. It's a chance to use all those descriptive words I love reading.

I hope this post can stand alone, but if you're interested in Greta's backstory, there's a menu tab "Greta's Story" that can catch you up. The piece leading into this week's story introduced the red shoes she's wearing on her date with Drew.

With Drew in the restroom, Greta reapplied lip gloss, then blotted it impatiently on her napkin, carefully refolding the dark cloth to hide the pearl sheen left on the thin material.  Silently thanking the waitress for the generous pour of prosecco, she gulped down a swallow of wine, shaking her head.

Of course she was nervous, awkward even.  This was the first date she’d been on since her divorce.

Date.

Was it even a date?  Drew had asked about dinner so casually she hadn’t even really answered, until he had asked if she would rather meet him at the restaurant or walk over together from her apartment.  Even on the walk over, he seemed so relaxed she was still concerned he was simply being friendly.

Conversation flowed easily between them, almost in rhythm with the clicking of her heels against the sidewalk, but when he excused himself from the table after ordering, her doubts attacked her confidence.

“You’re only talking about running!” Doubt chided.

“That’s how we met,” she argued with herself.  “It makes sense to talk about something we have in common.”

“Just wait.  If he starts talking about chafing, you’ll know he’s filed you into the friend column,” Doubt warned.

Her fingers nervously slid around the stem of her wine glass again, the sensitive pads finding the seam in the glass before she pressed her palms against her thighs, comforted by the familiar denim, worn into flattering softness.

Looking up from the effervescence bubbling up in her glass, Greta caught Drew walking back to the table.  Without thinking, she crossed her legs, and her doubts dissipated like the bubbles floating to the surface in front of her. 

Unaware that she was watching, the movement of her legs caught his eye, and there was no mistaking the appreciative glance that followed the line of her jeans down to her impossibly high red shoes.

Greta raised her glass again, sipping instead of gulping, letting the bubbles sit for a moment on her tongue before sliding down her throat with a tickle.  His unguarded eyes, hopeful and anticipatory, saw her in a way that went to her head more quickly than the wine, relaxing her laughter into something welcoming and genuine. 

As if reading her mind, Drew steered the conversation away from running, finding new common ground, like the same second choice college, and some endearing differences.

“Philosophy?” Greta asked, trying to keep her eyebrows from flying into her hairline as she inadvertently swept her eyes over his casually expensive jeans and the rolled up sleeves of his gently starched shirt.

“I always thought philosophy majors were so full of angst,” Greta tried to explain.

“Hey.  I smoked cloves for a while, ok?” he defended, raising his eyebrows back at her as she collapsed into decidedly inelegant giggles.

“Would you like to walk down to the water for a while?” Drew asked, after deftly paying for dinner before she noticed the slim leather folio discretely placed on the table.

Greta grimaced inwardly, her feet throbbing a little, even though they’d been off their feet for almost two hours.  Torn between comfort and pain, she opened her mouth to speak, then closed it.

Misunderstanding her pause, he fell over his own words, “Oh.  Sorry, we –"

“No…it’s just…these aren’t the best shoes…” her voice trailed off, and she cursed inwardly for not just saying yes and worrying about stabbing pain in the balls of her feet tomorrow.

Two sets of eyes rested on the glossy red leather resting against the ebony leg of his chair.

“They’re perfect shoes,” he said firmly, smoothly regaining control of the situation.  “Let’s go next door for coffee.  We can walk by the water next time.”

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Camouflage


Mama’s Losin’ It

5.) On a piece of paper write down something that makes you happy…take a photo of your paper and wa la…there’s your post.

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