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Tiaras and Trucks

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday in the Sun

Some days are little slivers of happiness that I tuck away in my memory bank for days that aren't so lovely.

For all of the complaints I have about Michigan weather and winters, there's not much that can beat a sunny spring afternoon in this mitten shaped state of ours, and Friday was such an afternoon.

Royal wedding voyeurism, complete with a disagreement with Ryan about the classic beauty of the wedding dress (I say yay, he says yuck) and my appreciation of fascinators that don't fascinate most other people in my life.  Check.

A quick jaunt to Nordstrom Rack where I glance longingly at things I shouldn't buy, but instead of hurting my credit card, I try on oversized sparkly bracelets and rings with Abbey while Dylan sits calmly in his stroller (ok, really he was playing with necklaces, but they were sturdy and plastic.) Check.

Impromptu stop at one of our many local parks, where we run into friends, plus get a surprise (to the kids) visit from Ryan on his way home from work.  Finger-sweeping about seventy woodchips out of Dylan's mouth as he happily announces: Yuck! and letting him play in a mud puddle, because it's finally sunny and warm.  Check.

Perfection?  Maybe not, but it's close enough for me.

in the interest of full disclosure, these pictures weren't taken this Friday
but it's the sentiment, right?

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Tears Will Fall

This week’s Red Writing Hood prompt was to write about a fight. I chose to revisit Greta and her story, pieces of which can be found here and here and here. I’ll admit this prompt was challenging for me; I am not confrontational and definitely haven’t experienced a physical fight. As always, concrit is invited and appreciated!

Time stopped.

Greta stared at him, shocked by what she saw in his eyes. Once, she had been able to fall into those calm, chocolate pools, comforted by what she found there. Now, they had morphed into something ugly and alien and destructive.

She braced herself for the tears she was certain would pool onto her lashes and down her cheeks. Always, always she could count on her tears. Tears of joy, tears of despair, tears of anger, they were the one constant in her emotional reaction repertoire.

One second passed.

She hadn’t blinked, her eyes locked on his. Her eyes were dry, and the feeling was as foreign to her as the expression imprinted on his. Her face was on fire.

This man was not her husband.

This man could not be her husband.

Two seconds passed.

Without thinking about the consequences, her hand pulled back and snapped towards his face. Their level of surprise was equal as her small, angry palm connected with his cheek, her hand twisting into a claw as she completed the blow, her nails scraping against the flesh she had once caressed in love and kissed out of habit each day before he left for work.

Her pain was outlined in red on the side of his face.

His eyes hadn’t changed.

The sameness of his expression was terrible, and her fear escalated into horror.

Recklessly, she hit him again, this time using her hand like a club, the blow somewhere between a slap and a punch. The delicate bones in her hand struck his cheekbone, and a dull ache radiated down her wrist.

Her anger throbbed in the place their bones collided.

His eyes hadn’t changed.

One more desperate slap, the crack of flesh against flesh ringing through the air.

Her anguish flowed through the nerve endings in her fingertips to the face she had cherished above all others.

His eyes hadn’t changed.

Three seconds passed.

An eternity.

She finally blinked, her hands folded calmly in her lap.

Familiar tears scalded her eyes and her cheeks and her lips, silent tears she let fall without any attempt to hide or wipe away. The expected tears became a shield against the pain radiating from somewhere around her heart.

Her attack had happened only in her head, her mind’s futile attempt to elicit any sort of passion from the man sitting in front of her.

The man who had vowed his life to her, to their future family.

The man who had just calmly laid divorce papers on their carefully chosen café table.

The man who was walking away, in what seemed like only moments since her miscarriage.

The man with the eyes of hardened stone.

Those weren’t her husband’s eyes.

Her marriage was over.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Silly Things We Do

"Can you say: Where's Abbey?"

A little voice asks me that several times a day, because Abbey likes playing hide and seek.  Well, she likes to hide and be sought; she's not so interested in being the seeker.

Her hiding skills have improved since her earliest attempts, when she would basically run to one side of the room and stand there, giggling in clear view.  Still, she doesn't make it too difficult to find her.

Now that Dylan's old enough to understand a little, I let him help me find her.

"Where's Abbey, Dylan?  Let's go find Abbey!"

I'm fairly certain he thinks I'm a little blind.
hiding in my mom's curtain
because there's nothing odd about a laughing curtain roll with feet
he cracks up when he "finds" her

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Visiting with Grandma Pat

The kids and I went to a mini-party at Great Grandma Pat's a couple of weeks ago.  My mom, Nan, Grandma Sue, the kids and I all spent the afternoon over there.  Dylan was a charming addition to a girls' day in!
the kids with Grandma Sue 
loving the outdoors 
I can walk
therefore I can climb steps standing up 
the kids with Great Grandma Pat
Abbey and "squeaky kitty"
it makes a (kind of creepy) noise and walks
she (and Dylan) love it

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Needs Toys?

Like so many parents I talk with, Ryan and I are fighting a losing battle with the toys in our house.  I am becoming suspicious that they mate in the night and multiply like bunnies, because it seems like whenever I think things are getting organized, I come downstairs to find my house once again enveloped in kiddie clutter.

The funny thing about all of the toys is that Abbey and Dylan are just as content playing with boxes and spoons and furniture as they are with the fancy toys that litter our floors and shelves and closets.  Their imaginations turn everyday objects into things of wonder, and there are days that the "toys" stay in their bins all day.

Why, then, is it so very difficult for me to downsize our toy collection?  Do other people have a strange, emotional attachment to their kids' toys or is it just me?
these are their cars
in case you haven't heard, when Abbey is five, she's getting her own car
she wants her own car so she can drive herself to the library
who am I to argue with a reader on a mission?
the back of Grandma's furniture is a great drum 
Abbey wanted to join in on the fun
thankfully Grandma is a good sport

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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Best Laid Hands

The Plan: A Lovely Easter Craft
The kids calmly make black hand prints next to each other on a piece of construction paper.
We later glue on puffs of cotton to form little lambs, a small one for Dylan's hand and a larger one for Abbey's hand.
The Detroit Institute of Arts knocks on the door wanting the frolicking lambs to exhibit in a prime position near the other artistic geniuses of the past and present.

The Reality: A Comedy of Errors Easter Craft
I can't find black Crayola paint and try to make my own using black food coloring.  That makes some strange greenish-grey color, so our lambs are going to have brown legs and heads.

Dylan gleefully dips his little hands into the paint and then refuses to open them to make handprints, until he decides to make them all over his legs.  And his face.  And the table.

Abbey calmly makes her handprints, and I hurry to press Dylan's little hands onto other pieces of construction paper that we will later cut out and glue next to Abbey's handprints.

(Note here that I could have had her do all of the handprints, since their hands are very, very close in size.)

We hurry upstairs for an impromptu morning bath.

Dylan tries to eat puffs of cotton. 

I let him, thankful that he is staying away from the glue.

I wish I would have made coffee before starting the craft.  Caffeine would have helped.

Abbey loses interest when I put the cotton away, and I finish cutting out Dylan's lambs and gluing them next to her lambs.

The DIA has not yet approached us about adding us to their world-renowned collection.
the cooperative crafter 
the crazy crafter 
the 9:00 am bath 

one of our finished products
made with much love and laughter if not much skill

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

made a messy craft and colored eggs
welcomed spring with tightless legs
spent time with family from near and from far
wore out the kids 'til they slept in the car
baked two batches of cookies because our first didn't work
maybe next year we'll make it to church

happy easter!

thank you to Grandma for lending us your much more workable counter space for egg dying!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us

Six years ago today, my girlfriends, my mom, and I breakfasted on fruit and bagels and toasted with mimosas as we got our hair done despite rain and wind and unseasonably cold weather.

Six years ago today, I slid into a dress that made me feel like a princess and a veil worn lovingly by my mother, a garter steeped with the importance of sorority traditions, and a strand of pearls precious because my grandma gave them to me.

Six years ago today, Ryan and I broke tradition and met each other before the ceremony, a moment that happened in an alcove of windows that let in streams of natural light and made me more certain than ever that I was marrying my best friend and the love of my life.

Six years ago today, I danced with my husband and danced with my Daddy and danced with my girls and danced with our guests and loved every song played by the DJ.

Six years ago today, Ryan and I ended our reception surrounded by our friends swaying to Piano Man by Billy Joel.

Six years ago today, I became a wife.

Happy Anniversary Ryan.

I love you.

we definitely needed umbrellas April 23, 2005
maybe that's why Abbey loves the rain

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Hear Greta Run

This week's Red Writing Hood prompt: Take a character from one of your stories and examine his or her iPod playlist. What 10 songs best describe the character? 

If you haven't met Greta yet, you can read about her here and here.  When you're ready, come with her on her (almost) daily five-mile run!

Losing My Religion (REM) - Greta's been to church a handful of times since Elizabeth's baptism, but she is still struggling to find comfort in her faith, something that had been so clear for most of her life.

Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis) - Being divorced is something that still surprises her.  She'll smell his aftershave on someone in an elevator and suddenly healing wounds are open and raw again.

Breathe (2 AM) (Anna Nalick) - Often overwhelmed, Greta forces herself to take a few deep breaths.  This last year of her life brought undeniable pain, but it also brought out strength she never even dreamed about. 

Survivor (Destiny's Child) - A year ago she had been a newlywed, a daughter, a friend.  Now?  She is a divorced miscarriage survivor, learning to find pride and power in those words. 

Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson) - Broken marriage vows had devastated her, but her smile was beginning to feel less forced, her laughter doesn't sound so dissonant to her own ears.

F(orget) You (Cee Lo Green) - The lyrics might not fit Greta's situation literally, but the sentiment is perfect for someone slowly finding her self confidence again, even if she doesn't know it yet.

White Wedding (Billy Idol) - It's loud; it's a throwback to her younger self; it's a glimpse of hope that there could be another wedding, another beginning for her, sometime, somewhere.

SexyBack (Justin Timberlake) - Her friends are coaxing her back into civilization, into shiny pink lipgloss, into pedicure chairs to pamper her battered feet and soul, into sky-high heels that hurt her feet but find their way onto the dance floor again.

Just Dance (Lady Gaga) - Because some days, the only thing that helps is music and running or dancing or jumping around the room until her muscles burn more than the memories, and she is reminded that her body is whole and living and can do amazing things.

Not Afraid (Eminem) - Greta might be wounded, and she might be guarded, but she is not afraid.  Not anymore.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Flip Side

With our beloved Nan in town, the kids and I have been spending oodles of time hanging out at my parents and basking in the glow of great grandma time.  With four generations of women gathered under one roof, I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with my mom and my relationship (current and future) with Abbey.

I could write a sentimental post about that, but instead, I'm responding to Mama Kat's prompt: if my mom were a blogger

What would happen if I handed over the reins to my mom?

She would talk politics. 

There are political watchgroups that don't know as much as my mom about certain issues in government.  When we agree, I think we're both brilliant.  When we don't?  Well, I don't like to argue with her, because she brings up things I've never even heard about, and then I don't feel so brilliant anymore.

She would talk Michigan State sports.

Between my mom and Ryan, nothing that happens in East Lansing goes unnoticed.  While you might read about my love of tailgating here, you'll have to wait for my mom to guest post if you want to know about the ins and outs of recruiting and NCAA regulations. 

She would talk books.

My mom is the one who carted me to the library weekly and let me check out as many books as I wanted and didn't care if they were above my reading level or not.  Reading is part of my soul, and she is absolutely responsible for that. 

She would never, ever talk shopping or fashion or style.

She might have had her own parking spot at the library, but she didn't take me to the mall except for early Sunday mornings when she used the expansive, empty parking lot to teach me to drive.  Thankfully she let me have a Seventeen subscription in junior high or I might still be wearing electric blue Wet & Wild eyeshadow.

She would post pictures of my kids.  And tell stories about my kids.  And post more pictures.  And tell more stories.

I might think Abbey and Dylan are bordering on MENSA status and two seconds away from prestigious modeling contracts, but my mom is an even bigger fan. 

So Mom, what do you think?  Ready to try on your blogging shoes?
Dylan would read Grandma's blog!
Mama’s Losin’ It

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Things I Shouldn't Be Doing

inside his head (maybe):
"I shouldn't be doing this
but you shouldn't be taking a picture of it either!"

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Stalled Style

Being three might be frustrating, but it has its advantages.

She dresses herself, and I try to invoke the mommy veto very, very sparingly.

If there’s going to be a battle each morning in our house, I’d rather it be about the merits of eggs versus candy for breakfast instead of the striped or the heart socks with the flowered pants.

Even with all of the crazy combinations she manages to put together, by throwing her hair into some pigtails or a cute little braid (her favorite), she ends up looking cute and quirky and like she’s having fun getting dressed each day.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of being three, and getting dressed each day poses some challenges for me. I’ve spent the last four years being pregnant or nursing or losing baby weight or some combination of those things, and my wardrobe reflects that.

Now I’m facing the sometimes overwhelming task of trying to find some sort of clothing combination that makes sense for both my lifestyle and my appreciation of fashion.

I’ve spent the last few summers in skirts and sundresses, but this summer shorts are back with a vengeance on the pages of fashion magazines. I’ve spent a great part of my adult life refusing to wear shorts, but I have to admit there’s some appealing about throwing on a pair for a day at the park instead of worrying about flashing the playground while following Dylan up the slide for the fiftieth time.

It’s time to get rid of my diaper bag, and several friends have recommended cute backpacks for the transition. I just can’t bring myself to do that with all of the fabulous satchels and totes out there right now, but I’m having a tough time making a decision about that, too!

Don’t forget shoes; a girl can never have too many shoes, except when she’s relying on actual money to pay for them and not a fairy godmother.

Oh, and a great pair of jeans that can somehow make the pancake at the top of my legs look more like a tush without costing hundreds of dollars.

 Sigh…where are Stacy and Clinton with their style advice (and their $5000 bank card) when you need them?
she explained to me that the shirt matched, because the dress has green and so does the shirt
the capris have pink and so does the bunny's skirt
pink shoes, because she only has one non-pink pair
black socks?
even she couldn't explain that one

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now I Get It

I used to be confused about why certain families started doing reality shows.

I understand why fame-hungry, attractive, twenty-something people do reality shows.  It seems that the best way to score an US Weekly cover and demand lots of money for public appearances at clubs is to do some extremely embarrassing things on TV, so that the rest of us can't drag our eyes and ears away from the trainwreck.

But people with kids?  And real houses?  I didn't get it.  Was it only for the money?

I had an ephiphany about their real reasons this Friday, when we spent the morning with some of our besties, Colleen, Brendan, and Lainey.

Those people with lots of kids that do reality shows?  They just want the professional photographers around to get decent pictures of their families.

This was the first time Colleen and I really tried to get a picture of the four kids together, and it was a comedy of outtakes.  Thank goodness for digital cameras, because there's definitely a lot of non-keepers!
Lainey wants a Cheerio
Abbey looks nervous 
Lainey looking cute
Brendan and Dylan chatting it up 
Lainey starting to look uncomfortable
Abbey and Brendan are spitting
who knows why three-year-olds do things? 
Abbey smiling
Brendan's cheese face
Lainey practically on her back
Dylan with a mouthful of Cheerios
Mommy gives up

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

So This is Naptime

Every afternoon, usually around 1:00, Dylan does this crazy thing.

He takes a nap.

In his crib.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it's still a novelty for me. 

Abbey has never been a napper; even when she was young, she was tough to get to sleep and ended up catnapping on the couch or in someone's arms.  Before she turned two, I let her give up her nap when it started to take longer to put her down (between 45 minutes and an hour) than she would sleep (25 minutes.) 

Since then, if she naps, it's generally in the car, where she can't escape the lull of the motor and the forced inactivity of her carseat.  We even have a "nap drive" that involves going to look at horses.

I was afraid Dylan was headed for the same fate, but for a while now, he's been sliding comfortably into an afternoon napping groove.  We eat some lunch, we play a little to wind down, we snuggle into the glider to read some books while Abbey plays quietly or listens to the little stories.  He drifts off to sleep, and I gently place him in his crib.

Abbey and I have some alone time.

Dylan wakes up refreshed, happy, and ready to play.

Naps are a wonderful thing.
painting is an activity that works better during naps
Dylan still likes to eat the paintbrushes
paint smock made by Nan with love

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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Call

I have to admit that I was without inspiration for today’s Red Writing Hood prompt, but I decided to set my timer and get to work, since the whole point is to flex my writing muscles a little. The prompt in question? "In the middle of the night, you get an urgent call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Something terrible has happened. What is it and why is he/she calling you?"

There are voices you expect to hear on the other end of the phone when it rings in the middle of the night, but your college roommate isn’t one of them, at least not when you haven’t seen aforementioned roommate since a disastrous homecoming tailgate over ten years ago.

“Jay? Pedro’s missing,” the familiarity of his voice came flooding back to me. I met him at freshman orientation, and we hit it off immediately, which basically meant we both drank a ton and hit on girls way out of our leagues.

“Dude. It’s three in the morning!” I protested, more convinced than ever I was still dreaming. Until this moment, I hadn’t said “dude” in years. It had been an inescapable moniker during the four years we lived together, in our fraternity house and filthy rental houses that charged exorbitant rents and laughingly kept our security deposits each year.

“What? Nah, not here. Did you hear me? Pedro is gone,” his voice went up almost an octave as he repeated his words. Of course. It was earlier on the West coast, where I was fairly certain he was still living. We still had enough mutual acquaintances that I would have heard about him falling out of favor with his girlfriend, well, his woman friend.

Groggily, I tried to focus. On a voice I hadn’t heard in a decade. On what he was saying. On why he could possibly be calling me about it.

Nothing. I had nothing.

“Uh, Pedro?” I finally asked, after what felt like minutes of listening to his panicked breathing on the other end of the line. Insensitive? Maybe, but the pieces just weren’t falling into place. A son? That didn’t seem to fit, considering the Mayflower blood he claimed and the blue blooded lineage of his woman friend, well, his sugar mama, as I had pointedly mocked him over the last beer we ever slammed together.

“Yeah, Pedro,” he answered, obviously misunderstanding my question. “Gone. He’s been in our basement for at least six years,” his voice was back to its normal tone, but I could hear panic lurking beneath the surface.


“Man, I knew I should’ve gotten rid of him a long time ago. I mean, those pictures…” his voice trailed off, angry and upset.


“She’s gonna kick me out, man. We met at the same hotel. She’s gonna know when those pictures were taken!”

And I knew. Suddenly, I knew everything.

He had met the sugar mama when we were in Mexico, spring break, our senior year. She was dripping with diamonds bigger than most of the bikinis down there; her radar clicked on him, and he charmed his way out of paying another dime during our trip.

No one thought it would last longer than the week, including him, which is probably why he hadn’t stopped sleeping his way through the younger, more attractive bodies sprawled on the beach, one of whom had a camera and extremely lowered inhibitions.

Ten years since we’d talked, and he was calling to tell me an old piñata was missing? A piñata we bought on the street as a joke to “smuggle” his dirty pictures home? A piñata he thought was going to end an eleven-year relationship?

I hung up the phone.

This is (hopefully) obviously fiction. However, the character of Pedro was inspired by TJ, who lives in our basement and who was once kidnapped, but who was never used to smuggle anything, anywhere. Well, to my knowledge. Ryan acquired him before we were dating.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three is Frustrating

Don’t get me wrong; three is a fun and fascinating age (though I think all of their ages have been so very special in their own ways.) I suddenly have a little daughter instead of just a toddler.
But three is frustrating.

She is frustrated. One day she can zip her coat on the first try, and the next she can’t do it after thirty times, and there is no way she’s letting anyone help her.

I am frustrated. I want to help. I want to let her figure it out. I want to encourage. I want to be only ten minutes late instead of thirty-five.

She is amazing. She “reads” her books to herself when I am reading to Dylan, getting so many of the words correct, not from sight but from memory, after hearing them only once or twice.

She is frustrated. Dylan refuses to sit through anything much longer than Goodnight Moon.

I am grasping at straws. I’ve taken to giving dramatic readings of children’s stories, in the hopes that acting out The Cat in the Hat will engage both of them instead of just Abbey.

She is enthralled. She gets to pick her own shoes, and there are so many options. Sparkly, pink, purple, ties, velcro? (Pink Converse All Stars were the casual winners, bright pink patent leather to go with the Easter dress!)

She is frustrated. Mommy doesn’t want to buy the bright pink, plastic flip flops with the gigantic flower (for me, not her.)

Dylan is practically climbing out of his stroller. Who knew there were so many shoes in the world, and why does my sister need to see all of them?

If only they sold patience next to this season’s wedge heels. I’d buy some for all of us.

This post is in response to the Mama Kat's Writing Workshop prompt: What I lack . . .Because what I lack is the patience of Job. I’m working on it, though!

this was after about a million unsuccessful zippering attempts
she's half laughing and half mad, not crying
I'm not mean enough to find the camera when she's crying

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Countdown is On

In four weeks, Ryan and I will board a plane to Las Vegas while my parents tuck the kids into bed and get ready for a few fun-filled (hopefully) days of grandparents-grandkids time. 

Talk of this trip started so very long ago, and thankfully it was booked a while ago as well, because the fabulous deal we got is long gone in the mire of rising flight costs.  At one time, it seemed so far away, and now a month from our departure date I am worrying about a laundry list of things, some significant and some absolutely shallow:

- Most of my warm weather (ok, all weather) clothes are mom-casual: cotton sundresses, casual skirts and t-shirts, fit flops (which aren't really cutting it in the tush-toning department, by the way).  How am I supposed to translate that wardrobe into the world of sequined Elvises and ultralounges?

- I am leaving my babies for four nights.  Abbey and I have been apart for two nights and Dylan and I have only ever been apart for one.  My heart hurts when I think about missing four bedtimes and all of those sweet snuggles and kisses and smiles.

- I am leaving my babies for three days.  My mind is boggled by the idea of laying by a pool and reading a book for as long as I want, or (gasp!) having a cocktail and then taking a nap in the middle of the day.  Will I even remember how to do those things?

- This is the first vacation Ryan and I have taken on our own in years.  I am all giddy excited, in a giggly, goofy kind of way.

- My packing list has already been started and revised.  Spirit charges for all bags (carry-on and checked).  We need to use our space wisely, and that's a foreign language for a card-carrying member of Overpackers Anonymous.  Does Mandalay Bay have decent toiletries?  A serviceable blowdryer?  These are pressing questions, because I need room for my shoes.

- I love shoes.

- There is a pool at Mandalay Bay.  And an actual beach.  That means I'm going to be donning a bathing suit, and not in a jump in the pool quickly and hide under the child float kind of way.  I am perpetually pale and still need to come to terms with my post-baby body.  Sigh.

- I am leaving my kids.  Gulp.
Vegas circa 2006

to be young and not self-conscious in a bathing suit...
(aka gratuitous cute kid pictures)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Sandals - RemembeRED

This week’s RemembeRED prompt was a photo prompt of a garden hose. Garden hoses mean summer and summer means sandals (at least that’s where my mind galloped off to with this one!)

The Sandals

I had dreams about them: cotton candy pink and neon blue and shocking coral danced through my head. I begged for them: plastic twisted into a basket-weave pattern with a barely discernable but ever-so-important kitten heel. Before I knew the word, I lusted over them: the Holy Grail of summer footwear in the eighties, at least as far as I was concerned.

Jelly shoes. Jellies. The only shoe that mattered when the days lengthened and temperatures climbed and humidity became almost visible in a thick cloud over Michigan.

“They’re plastic shoes. They won’t be comfortable,” my mom warned.

“Plastic’s flexible,” I countered, unconcerned with blisters in the face of fashion.

“Plastic doesn’t breathe at all. Your feet are going to be too hot,” my mom warned.

“The shoes are practically covered in holes! There’s lots of places for the air to come in,” I argued.

“You won’t be able to play in them,” my mom warned.

“But Mooooommmm...” I whined in the dramatic fashion that can only be conjured by pre-teen girls and Oscar-winning actresses.

Finally she relented, and we purchased them in true summer fashion, dug out of a wire bin of jelly shoes, stretchy elastic holding the pair together. I chose white, so I could wear them with everything, my perfect, coveted after shoes.

Wear them I did.

I wore them with sundresses, so pleased with the shiny newness of the white plastic footwear.

I wore them with shorts, feeling so sophisticated wearing what my friends’ older sisters were wearing.

I wore them with a sense of pride and camaraderie, perhaps my first foray into the crazy world of sharing opinions about fashions with my friends, trading shoes with friends for a few minutes to see what a different pair felt like on my happy toes.

I wore them around the house, where my parents hadn’t yet installed central air conditioning, savoring the way the heels tapped softly against the linoleum and ignoring the pull of the plastic against my skin.

I wore them to my brother’s soccer games, where blades of grass slid between the basket-weave pattern, tickling my toes for a while before becoming an annoyance.

I wore them to the park, where stones got lodged into the open plastic of the kitten heels and sand and dirt slid into the shoes, mixing with the sweat on my feet in a gritty mess.

I don’t think I complained about the discomfort or the sweat or the grime, even when I peeled my feet from the bottom of the shoes, leaving behind an outline of my toes and the balls of my feet, imprinted with the heat and dust of summer.

Happily, I suffered for fashion for the first time. Those shoes were worth a little dirt and sweat and a blister or two. I gladly slid them on day after day, the same way I now excitedly slide my foot into a pair of towering peep-toe heels when Ryan and I leave for a date night. Even back then, I knew the power of a beloved pair of shoes; like Cinderella’s glass slipper, the right shoes mean the possibilities are endless.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Runner. I'm a Runner.

I started running back in college, my sophomore year when I lived in the dorms.  I ran with a friend, and what I remember most is singing while running (either Oasis's Wonderwall or Mariah Carey's Always Be My Baby)

Since then, I've become more disciplined.  I know about pace and footstrikes and what kind of music makes me run faster and how gratifying and addicting it can be to build and track a training plan.

I've run numerous 5Ks and a 10K and three half-marathons.

Yet, when I talk about my runs and my running, I always, always qualify my words: I'm not at all fast, I just do it for fun, I've never done a full marathon.

As I typed out last week's post about my latest half-marathon, I thought about these little asides and wondered why I always feel the need to add them.

Is it because I look more like an uncoordinated labrador puppy than a gazelle when I run?

Is it because I build rounded, sturdy muscles instead of the lean sinews I envy in some of the runners around me?

Is it because my brother is "the athletic one"?

Is it because I have to use all of my innate stubbornness and maximum physical effort to build up to times that "better" runners would consider failed races?

I need to leave these negative thoughts behind if I want to be a role model for Abbey.

What matters is that four or five times a week, I lace up my shoes, turn up my running music, put one foot in front of the other.

Left. Right. Left. Right. Repeat.

Four or five times a week, I run.

I am a runner.
Abbey reading with Aunt Carolyn in Nashville
Aunt Carolyn is my running inspiration
I remember her running back when it was cool to wear matching short shorts and tank tops
she's still running, despite injuries and changes in running fashions!

this is an old post, but I'm linking it in honor of Elaine's big decision to train for her first half!

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Playing with the Big Kids

My baby thinks he is a big boy now that he is walking (still like Frankenstein, for the record, but a fast Frankenstein). 

No more breaking up his food into pieces, cheese snacks and granola bars and bananas all have to be consumed whole, just like Abbey. 

No more sitting happily at the table; he eats his food and immediately wants down so he can walk around the table and giggle at how fun it is to walk. 

Some days he won't even tolerate me feeding him, which is adding exponentially to my already staggering laundry load.

More and more he wants to play with Abbey and the other "big" kids at her playdates.  Even when he's not sure what they're doing, he wants to be in the middle of the action, figuring out the whole parallel play stage of interaction.  At a recent playdate with our BFFs Brendan and Lainey, Dylan jumped right into the playing action.

Thankfully he's good-natured, because Abbey's tolerance is hit-or-miss (and unfortunately, sometimes the hitting isn't so figurative nor is it only coming from her). 

Also thankfully, she gets a kick out of him in ways that even bewilder me at times, and I think he's pretty fabulous.  When I least expect it, she is patient and laughing with him and holding his hand to lead him into something new.

I know they're mine, and I shouldn't gush too much, but they are marvelous.
Brendan's cheese face
Colleen says it's his favorite, and it was in all three pictures I tried to take

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Finding Her Rhythm

This week's Red Writing Hood prompt was: Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?

I introduced Greta in
The Godmother, and I thought of her when I read the prompt. This week I experimented with a twenty minute time limit for the piece. I don't know if that's a reasonable goal for me, because I didn't have time to edit, so I don't think the tone of the two pieces is really consistent. As always, I welcome concrit!

Through the door connecting her bathroom to her bedroom, Greta’s eyes compulsively landed on the nightstand. Even with the drawer closed, she could see the pink and white thermometer nestled next to the little calendar, temperatures written in red ink, trying to find some sort of pattern in the numbers.

She had purchased the thermometer with the hopes and prayers of a bride wishing to become a mother, and she had been shocked at the ease with which she fell into the habit of sliding the plastic under her tongue, still half asleep, recording numbers that soon became predictable.

Finally the month came when she didn’t need to record temperatures anymore, when the test was positive, when her prayers were answered.

But then there was the dull ache that became a sharp pain before becoming the cramps that brought her to her knees in the steamy water of the shower that washed more than water and blood down the drain.

Now, her divorce was finalized, her annulment papers meandering their way through some ancient hierarchy at the Vatican, and there was no reason Greta needed to record her temperature every morning.

Her doctor emphasized that it could take time for her body to find its normal again, but Greta had been encouraged by stories of women who slid effortlessly back into their menstrual patterns. Her miscarriage had ravaged her marriage and her faith and her dreams, and she desperately needed to feel like her fertility hadn’t been stolen as well.

Seven months later, she couldn’t yet see a pattern, a thermal shift, or any sign of normalcy returning to the little calendar in her drawer.

Tearing her eyes away from the drawer and her thoughts away from the worries that her fertility might be another casualty of the miscarriage, Greta left the bathroom. Her new running shoes were next to the front door, still smelling more like rubber than sweat. Quickly, she pulled the laces snug and slid her earbuds into her ears.

She ran with music that was too loud, unsafe in a city of fast drivers, and she would have been slightly embarrassed if anyone saw the selection of sugary pop and thudding hip hop that accompanied her on her runs.

Greta welcomed the jolting impact of her feet striking the ground, finding a rhythmic pattern that was comfortable and reassuring. Sweat began to build along her hairline as her muscles warmed up, her stride lengthening while she kept the rhythm of the bass, her legs pistons propelling her body forward. Music flooded her senses, numbing her thoughts to anything but her breathing.

One day, maybe, she would run without music. One day, maybe, she would shower without clenching her teeth. One day, maybe, she would rediscover her dreams of becoming a mother. One day, maybe, she would find comfort in the temperatures recorded on that little calendar.

Today, though, she had to believe her body could do something, anything. So today she ran.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Playing Hard

Nan hopped into the (rented) mini-van for the ride back from Nashville, and she and my mom wrangled the kids Saturday morning while Ryan and I frolicked with the martians, and Nan proved once again why she is so beloved by anyone who meets her.

As Abbey has told me several times since then: "Nan played hard with us!"

She gets down on the floor with them, is endlessly patient, and builds play-doh animals that put my snakes and snowmen to shame.  I'm talking the kind that you see on the side of the box, with different colors for eyes and things like that. 

(I just realized it's possible that other people make play-doh animals like that, and I might be in the minority with the snakes and snowmen and cookie cutter shapes.  If so, humor me and pretend it's ok that my sculpting skills halted at kindergarten level.)

We are so blessed to have her spending time with us again!
Dylan is a giant fan of legos
one of his favorite things is putting them back in the container
unfortunately, his other favorite thing is dumping them out of the container 
I wasn't there, but I bet he knocked that tower down very shortly after my mom took the picture 

very serious about the play-doh
this book is one of Abbey's favorites
it's a collection of stories about kids and animals
I usually have her pick one or (sometimes) two of them, because they're long and don't rhyme or keep Dylan's attention (or mine) for more than a few minutes
Nan read the whole thing, because she is wonderful like that

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