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Tiaras and Trucks

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fra-gee-lay. That Must Be Italian.

"Uh, I think that says FRAGILE dear."

post title and caption from
The Christmas Story (1983)
Jean Shepherd, screenplay

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eggs and Manicures

Lazily I awaken, the sounds of breakfast coming from the kitchen.  I stretch luxuriously, the satin pillowcase a silky contrast to soft cotton sheets.
"Always sleep with satin next to your face," she instructs.  "It helps keep the wrinkles away."
Maybe she's right about that; my pillowcases are all cotton, and fine lines are creeping around my face, make-up for my emotions, emphasizing my smiles and frowns.
Sizzling butter coats the pan as she cracks open brown eggs, making sure not to break the yolks.  Eggs at Grandma Rose’s house are always the dippy kind, served with hot toast soaked through with real butter. 

Eagerly, I poke at the sunny orb, encouraging the yolks to run across the plate as I gently follow their path with the toast.
The solid egg white I can do without, but Grandma coaxes me to join the clean-your-plate-club, and I take little bites, the promise of our next activity propelling me to finish.
With a reasonably clean plate in front of me, I look expectantly at my Grandma. 
Small bottles sit in front of me, sparkling, glossy, and waiting for my small fingers to close around the cool glass, making my choice.
Only now, as I sit in front of Abbey, letting her choose between pale pink with sparkles and pale pink without, do I understand my Grandma's courage in this moment.
Gorgeous, stoplight-inspired red.
"That's one of my favorites," she says, nodding in approval and taking the bottle from me without pause.
Watching Grandma shake the bottle, a tiny metal ball magically mixing the polish, I yearn for the day when red or pink or any rainbow shade will grace my fingers, glamorous exclamation points at the end of my arms.
But for today, I am the polisher, not the polishee, perhaps because Grandma knows my mother would prefer my fingers to come home without punctuation.
"Ok, honey, now remember, drag the brush against the bottle to get off the extra polish.  A little more..." her voice is patient, my concentration great.
"Good.  Now don't paint right up to the edge of the nail.  Leaving just a little bit of unpainted nail on the sides makes them look longer.  See?" Perhaps this is true, though it may have been a preemptive attempt to keep red fingernail polish from smearing onto her skin.
Even with her step-by-step guidance and unwavering hand perched atop a tissue, I can see the places where my hand-eye coordination fell short of my determination.
"Perfect!  Thank you so much!" she gushes.
Buoyed, I try to sneak a look at her hands, remembering the smudges on cuticles, the places the brush slipped.
But she is waving her fingers in the air, exaggerating the purse of her lips as she blows on the still-tacky polish.  In motion, they are beautiful, ten glittering gems fluttering through the sky.
Great-Grandma Rose and Abbey Rose

Your assignment for this week is to write about a memory of yourself WITH someone else.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Moving Past Regret

As I read the prompt, my stomach constricts.  Memories race through my mind; pain, shame, embarrassment, fear all twist my stomach into knots.
Write about my worst memory?
I have some I don’t even like to think about.
Doubts about participating in this week’s prompt bubble to the surface immediately.
Other members of the Write On Edge community talk me back into the land of the rational, gently reminding me that writing can be about the process as well as the end result.
I breathe again.
I write, using a frightening memory, one that taunted me with the realization of mortality for a long, long time.  But it’s not my worst memory.  Perhaps not even one of the top five.
Rattled loose, those memories bounce around my brain, poking at old scars, testing for weakness.  They’re joined by other memories, moments I’d brushed aside, tucked into Pandora’s box to suffocate and wither away from the light in which I attempt to bathe my life.
Provoked, my imagination roars to life in the silence of our bedroom, Ryan’s breathing rhythmic in the darkness, steady and safe, warm.
What if?
What if I would have made better choices?  Like that one, at sixteen?  Or that one, at nineteen? Or that one? Or that?
How would my life be different if I would have been braver? Smarter? More confident? Less stubborn?
My eyes are wide, staring at the ceiling, enough light shining in the darkness to outline the fan whooshing and whirling above the bed.
What if those memories, my memories, the ones I shuttered in my heart instead of releasing them onto the page, could be undone?
Most of my terrible memories were my own doing – my actions and my decisions and my lack of consideration.
I close my eyes, expecting regret to wash over me, to blanket me in past hurts, finding new places to prick through my skin.
Instead, I feel humbled.  Blessed.
Each of those bad decisions, those hurts guided me along the path that is my history.
Without those hurts, I wouldn’t have been in the position to make other choices.
Good choices.
Choices and decisions made out of love and hope and belief in something beautiful.
Choices and decisions that led to this life, my life, that I love.
Choices and decisions that led to this family, my family, that I adore.
Finally, my stomach untwists, my eyes close.
I fall asleep.
Do you feel regret about past decisions?  How do you think that regret affects the choices you make now?
I've been hurt.
I've hurt others.
But regret?
I just can't regret the path that led me to this.

This post is part of the Just Be Enough Monday link-up, where everyone is welcome to share their stories, both seemingly small and impossibly monumental, about feeling "enough". 

The link-up is part of a cancer-fighting collaboration between Just Be Enough, Bellflower Books, and Crickett's Answer for Cancer.  For every 20 links, Bellflower Books will provide a $75 gift certificate for a gorgeous, personalized memory book for a family chosen through Crickett's Answer.  Our goal is to be able to provide ten women the opportunity to receive a special book created by family and friends that will be treasured not only by the brave women fighting breast cancer, but by their families as well, so please, please share your stories today and come back next Monday and the one after that to share again!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

I'll Admit It, Tears Fell

I'd like to introduce you to some new bling that will be gracing my sidebar...
Syndicated on
Did it just get blurry?  I guess that was just me and those pesky tears of happiness again.

I've written about having a hard time accepting compliments about my writing, about shrugging off words of encouragment and comparing myself to other writers.

I've written about my goals of breaking into the freelance market, of calling myself published, of taking the quotation marks away from "writer".

So when I read an e-mail saying BlogHer wanted to syndicate Slow Down, I cried a little.  I have read that e-mail more times than I should admit.

I am so very honored to be part of the amazing group of women whose words have graced the pages of BlogHer.

If you could, I would be forever grateful if you could skip on over and drop me a sparkle or a comment.

If you're new here, visiting from BlogHer, please grab a cup of coffee and stay for a bit.  You might enjoy reading what my three year old has taught me, what I think about my flip-flops, and why it's ok (sometimes) that my kids are sporadic sleepers.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011


the prompt:

Let’s lighten it up around here. And when I say lighten, I mean REALLY lighten.
This week’s assignment will require the fewest number of words ever: we want you to write a story – your choice of topic – as a tweet.
That’s right. One hundred and forty characters. Not words. Characters.
Make us laugh. Make us think. Make us want more.

His fingertips trace her jaw.
Whispers drift into silence.
Dreams she had abandoned morph into something new as they sleep, limbs entwined.

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Five Fall Favorites

Mama Insomnia

Join us at Mama Insomnia and share your favorite parts of fall!

Fall in Michigan is a particularly lovely bridge between summer and winter.  The humidity relents but the sunshine remains.  Leaves change colors, blanketing the lawns and providing a perfect backdrop for pumpkins and the perfect shade of brown leather boots.
Following are my five fall favorites
(because I love alliteration)
Cider mills
Apples to pick, haystacks to climb, cider to drink, donuts to scarf, petting farms to furiously sanitize our hands after visiting, I love it all.  We've visited one of our favorite cider mills twice already this summer, to pick strawberries and raspberries, but it's just not the same as the cider mill in the fall.  If I could figure out a way to keep the cider-happy bees away, I might not leave for the entire month of September.  Or October.
Back-to-school shopping
Abbey actually needs supplies this year!  (insert hyperventilation here)
In order to harness my emotions about sending her to pre-school, I've made a list of my own.  I'm thinking a new writers' notebook and a giant pack of Flair pens, in all of the colors of the rainbow.  There's nothing like a notebook filled with empty pages and a fun new writing tool to make a former school-lover giddy with anticipation of endless possibilities.
Football Saturdays
Ryan is going to want to call my bluff on this one, mainly because of my habit (pre-children) of falling asleep during halftime and napping until the end of the game, but I adore the atmosphere of football Saturday.  Particularly when I am on a college campus, kicking back at a tailgate, and clapping along to the Michigan State fight song.  Even for non-sports lovers, college athletics are contagious in their enthusiasm.
Pumpkins and costumes and candy, oh my!  In Michigan, even the trees get into the spirit of the holiday, trading their green leaves for gorgeous colors, their silky textures for a crunchiness that sounds so perfect that you ignore the little pieces of leaves trailed into the house in the treads of your shoes.
Fall Fashion
I love a sundress as much as the next girl, but there's something about a flattering sweater and a great pair of boots that makes me feel confident and put together.  Layering a dress with cozy tights helps me feel pretty when I'm chasing the kids around.  Jewel tones, broken-in denim, and no real need for a coat or jacket all mesh together to make fall the most drool-worthy fashion season for me.  I'm even hoping to find a way to break my ponytail habit over the next few months!
What's your favorite part of fall?  And if you don't have one, come visit for the weekend, and we'll do a fall extravagaza until you find something you love.  Maybe you can even figure out what to do about this hair of mine?
the day we picked raspberries
not surprisingly, that is an outfit of her choosing
surprisingly, she came home without a stain on it 
hanging out on the horse swing
made of tires
weird? cute? you decide

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Buy That Girl Some New Clothes

editorial note:
she does NOT need new clothes
she has oodles of clothes in her size

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wrapped in an Afghan

I was in fifth grade. 

Being called into my parents’ room, all four of us curled onto the king size bed seemed like the introduction to some sort of festive game.  After all, their room was a safe haven, the door always open during storms but closed during summer, window air conditioner blasting away, our sleeping bags on the floor, board games jumbled onto the bed.
The air was different that night.  Unmoving.  Heavy.  Serious.
Still, I clung to my childish optimism that home was a safe place, blissfully unaware that not all homes held hugs and smiles and hope within their walls.
I intentionally avoided eyes, attempting to form a smile through the tension.
I might have asked if we were finally going to Disney World, not expecting an affirmation of that hope but expecting a laugh, an indulgent smile.  There was no smile.
No.  We were not going to Disney World.
Instead, our family would be going on a different journey.  One with words like Hodgkin’s and cancer and lymph nodes and chemotherapy.  Words I didn’t comprehend and words I didn’t know and only one real question.
“Are you going to die?”
Ten years later, I would have asked the question differently, tripping over my words to cushion their blow.  Ten years later, I would have thought before speaking, gauged faces to discern an answer without asking.  Ten years later, the weight of that question might have smothered my voice.
“Are you going to die?”
No.  The answer was no.  My father was not going to die.
Relieved and buoyed by the answer, I relaxed, slightly confused about the utterly serious looks on my parents’ faces.
He was going to be fine, I thought. Why were they so sad?
Later, I saw glimpses of the ravages of cancer.
A naturally thin frame growing thinner.
Missed days and weeks and months of work.
Dry heaves and vomiting.
My energetic dad, sitting exhausted in his brown recliner, wrapped in the brown afghan my mother had made, no matter the temperature.
An artificial suntan from the radiation, affecting only his neck. 
Snapshots of a disease that allowed us to glance at his pain, not realizing the enormity of the horrific possibilities. 
My brother and I were sheltered from the worst of it.  We never set foot in a hospital or doctor’s office.  Used to his second and third shift schedule, we actually saw him more now that he was sick.
Our teachers knew; my teacher, in a brief period of remission from her own struggle with cancer, was particularly sympathetic and attentive.
Later, she succumbed to her second bout with cancer, beloved by so many students, wept for in classrooms and a memorial service.  My tears joined others in her memory, but they were tinged with guilt, and a slight, selfish joy.
My dad was going to be fine.
the prompt, paraphrased:
write about your worst memory
let it go
This isn't my WORST memory, but it’s not a good one.
I apologize, but some things just can’t be shared in a place I’m creating for Abbey and Dylan to look back on one day.
Though the prompt has led me to think about a lot of things the past few days, and for that, I appreciate it more than Cheryl, Katie, & Nichole can know.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Slow and Steamy

We kiss the kids good-bye and open the door to leave for our 10K, the weather greeting us as forecasted.
I don’t need to worry about being at the front of the pack when the race starts; when I call it a race, I mean it’s me against my own goals, my own previous times, my own expectations.
Earbuds tucked into my ears, stopwatch on my wrist, I begin my methodical trot. 
Slightly overcast, the sunless sky is oppressive, a veil holding the heat over my head, sweat seeping into my hot pink headband. 
I smile at a dad jogging alongside his young daughters, the younger one grasping his hand and keeping pace with her older sister.  Later, I will spot him again, their pace slowing as he carries her piggyback along the course.
My heart swells with the sweetness of the act, enforcing the childhood belief in a daddy as superman, but my head says a quick thanks that I am only carrying my own weight today.
I don’t see a mile marker until the second mile, where I check my pace with a shrug and a sigh; I’m moving a little slower than planned.
And the sun is coming out.
A little voice flickers into my consciousness, reminding me that losing a few pounds would make a difference in my running.  Feet pounding, I leave that voice behind.
Gulping water at the hydration station, I move on, sunscreen and sweat mingling into my eyes with a sting.  I’m making my way back to the riverfront, letting the ever so slight breeze graze over the shimmer of heat covering my body.
A hill looms.
I concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other.  Gwen Stefani and her enviable abdomen coax me forward.  My heart thuds.  My lungs burn. 
Glancing down, I register that my pace is still lagging behind the number on the chalkboard in my mind.
I barely notice the hill falling behind me, conquered.  I take as deep a breath as my battered lungs will allow and purposefully slow down.
I can still finish in under an hour.  I shift my thinking, mid-race, and my body suddenly feels lighter.  My legs swing to the beat, relaxed instead of fighting the heat.
A smile pushes aside the grimace of effort.
Oversized stone tigers welcome us to the ballpark, and rhythmically run around the block, letting the descent of the tunnel onto the baseball field move my legs for me.  A vast field of green welcomes me, though we are carefully shuttled onto the dirt path of the first base line.
Later, I will let myself wonder if I should have pushed myself.
Later, I will let myself set goals for my next run.
But for now, I am tiredly content.  Peeling off sweaty layers of clothes, gulping water, cheering on the other finishers, I am comfortable in my sweaty skin.

while we ran, they played at the Nature Center with Grandma & Grandpa
speaking of Grandma...
Happy Birthday Mom!

What have you done lately that brought you joy?  Made you smile?  Allowed you to feel that you ARE absolutely and positively enough?
Please join us at Just Be Enough, as Bellflower Books and Cricket's Answer for Cancer work together to bring a little bit of beauty into the life of cancer patients.  For every 20 stories shared on Just Be Enough, Bellflower Books will donate a gift certificate for one of their memory books to a cancer patient, through Cricket's Answer for Cancer.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Decisions Over Coffee

pssst...if you haven't heard, The Red Dress Club is now Write on Edge

the prompt:
You must begin your story with the words “We had to leave immediately” and end it with “And then we realized we were already home.”
The middle part is up to you.
If you are not writing in the first-person, then feel free to change the “we” to “they.” You may choose to write fiction or non-fiction. 

This is part of Greta's Story, happening many months after Regaining Her Footing, but I don't think you need to be familiar with the background to read this piece.

“They had to leave immediately,” the real estate agent explained, almost apologetically, sensible heels clicking on the ceramic tile of the seventh property they had visited that afternoon.
She paused, shifting her weight to one long leg, surveying the living room briefly before consulting the notes in her hand.
“Obviously you wouldn’t need to take the furniture upon possession.  The owners are willing to move it into storage.”
Greta felt an uncomfortable giggle begin to rise and took a deep breath, trying to keep it contained. 
The thought of throwing her tailored trench coat across the back of the gaudy flowered couch dominating the living room caused a thin trickle of sweat to bead up on her spine.  It looked as though it hadn’t been moved or cleaned since sometime in the sixties, which was impossible, since the condo itself was only six years old.
Though they walked through the rest of the rooms, later Greta could only remember the sagging couch and the warm comfort of Drew’s hand in hers.
When the agent climbed into her shiny black sedan, Greta finally sighed and relaxed her fingers.  Drew shook his hand in an exaggerated motion, grinning until she smiled back.
“I forgot how tough you are,” he teased, taking back her hand, this time lacing his fingers lightly through hers, slim currents of electricity still surprising her even after countless moments like this.
“Coffee?” he asked, tracing the edge of her thumb with his.
The brief tilt of her head was unnecessary; they were already walking towards the café that had become their conversation haven.  Greta cradled her head in her hands at a corner table, the faults of each of the properties she had seen over the last few weeks dancing through her head.
Drew placed a steaming mug in front of her, the way her hands encircled the ceramic etched in his mind, as familiar now as her coffee order and the way she cried with every change in her mood.
Silence curled around them, caressing the spaces that separated their bodies, comfortable, warm, and full of promises yet unspoken.  Sensing she had collected her thoughts, he raised his eyebrows, inviting her words.
“Well, maybe if I could take the couch from the last place and move it to the third place, you know the one facing the dumpster?”
“Great décor and location,” he nodded, pleased to see her smile climb into her eyes.  He had begun to worry that house hunting would bring back the Greta they had both worked so hard to extradite, the Greta who would have given up after a dozen less-than-stellar prospects.
“I’m just ready to be done with my old place,” she sighed, sipping coffee, sweetened slightly with vanilla and Drew’s perfect ratio of cream and sugar.  “It doesn’t feel like my house anymore.”
Discontent with her apartment had crept in gradually.  Hot pink towels and a gorgeous white parsons desk had helped her erase every trace of James from the walls, but somehow he slowly crept back in the door each time she invited Drew home.
“You’ll find something,” he said calmly, his eyes wandering over her head, down the street, as he reached for her.
Resting against his chest, she smelled his aftershave mingling with the scent of her shampoo.  The steady whoosh of his heartbeat was loud next to her ear as her own eyes glanced in the direction of his house.
Tilting her head up, their eyes locked, and they realized they were staring in the same direction.
And then they realized they were already home.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shopping for School, Crocs Style

Thank you to Crocs for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about Crocs’ new Back to School line. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

For all of her bubbling giggles and spontaneous bear hugs, Abbey likes to keep me on my toes.

This spring, she asked to leave a shoe store in tears, because: “I don’t think I can wear these!”  Two stores later, we found a pair she loved, and all was right with the world.
This summer, we needed easy, comfortable shoes that could splash in puddles, run through the zoo, play on the beach and wade in the lake.  We went to the Crocs store. 

Almost an hour later, tears fell again, because she didn’t want to stop trying on shoes!  Thankfully, a few carefully doled out snacks and a new straw sippy cup kept Dylan relatively calm and contained in his stroller.
We’ve been talking about backpacks and new clothes and school supplies lately, due to the pile of tear-stained preschool paperwork reminding us that the first day of school is looming on the horizon.

Carefully knitted sweaters, indigo denim, layered leggings and dresses are calling, and it's time to answer that cal.

An almost four-year old concerned with what she wears and a mommy concerned with functionality and ease of washing, due to crafts and daily playground escapades, could collide for a tantrum-inducing mall visit. 
After the Spring Shoe Fiasco of 2011, I plan on making the Crocs store the first stop on our list.
You may be picturing the basic Crocs clog and thinking it won’t work with playgrounds filled with wood chips and school dress codes, but the Back-to-School line has 13 different styles for boys and girls from approximately kindergarten through eighth grade, styles that combine the beloved comfort of Crocs with school-approved closed toes and closed backs.
Check them out for yourself.  Click on the shoes for more information, including sizes and colors (I’ll wait here; it’s ok!)'s a hint for the hidden easter egg in the video

You never know what will strike Abbey’s fancy, but I have a feeling she’ll be drawn to the sparkles of these…
Hover Metallic Sneaker

To help combat the frustration of not quite knowing how to tie her little shoes, I might steer her in the direction of these…

I know she’d love to customize them with a few Jibbitz (though we might have to transfer her glow-in-the-dark Tinkerbell one from her summer pair.)
If you want to shop from the comfort of your couch, check out the Back-to-School section of their website.  While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a family vacation to San Diego!  Those of us in snowy climates will be dying for some of that San Diego sunshine in a few months.
Now if only Crocs made “pink princess backpacks” (an official statement from Abbey about her desired school bag), we’d be ready to begin her academic career. 
After one or two or fifty-seven more hugs from my girl.
he's going to miss her

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Other Side of the Door

Summer winds down and school looms on the horizon, sharpened pencils waiting to etch names onto crisp paper, colorful Flair pens doodling in the margins, backpacks overwhelming small frames.  The first day of school holds the promise of a fresh start, anticipation and excitement hanging in the air, hiding behind shy smiles and jokes between friends.

I’ve faced the first day of school as a student, moving from decorated cardboard supply boxes and kitten adorned Trapper Keepers to overpriced college textbooks and reams and reams of lined paper soon to be covered in notes and doodles and office hours.
As a teacher, I started a few weeks before the students, carefully choosing fabric for my bulletin boards, buying supplies in bulk, rearranging my classroom too many times in anticipation of group work and testing and access to different areas in the room.
This year, the first day of school looms, and I’m wavering between excitement and denial from moment to moment.
This year is the first year I am facing back to school as a mother.
Abbey is going to preschool.
She is beyond thrilled to be starting school next month.  A small smile spreads into a grin on her little face when she talks about it.  Lately, she wants to play teacher and student, a game that works out better when she doesn’t try to include Dylan as a student.
I am thrilled for her.  She loves stories and writing and playing games and dress-up and pretend.  I watch her attempting to write letters and carefully counting, and I can picture her in a classroom, sitting at an impossibly small chair, a pencil clutched in her hand.
My mental picture expands, seeing the other children in her class, and I feel my stomach tighten with worry.
Slow to warm up to new people and new situations, will her new classmates be kind?  What if they mistake her hesitation for disinterest?  Will her teacher understand that she grows quiet and retreats to the periphery out of shyness and not defiance?  When her voice drops to a whisper, will someone lean in to hear her, encouraging her lovely voice to speak more confidently?
Helping her make this transition is part of my job; I know I need to happily urge her forward into this new phase.
Yet as the summer days drift closer to fall, I find myself reaching for her hand more than necessary, catching her eye to bestow an extra smile, reminding her of how much I love her, hugging her eleventy-billion times each day. 
I yearn to envelop her with all of my love, to make that love tangible to tuck away in a pocket of her backpack, comforting her throughout the day.
I have been a student.  I have been a teacher.
This year, I am a mother, and for the first time, I will be on the other side of the classroom door when the bell signals the beginning of class.
But I will be waiting for her at the end of the day, my arms and heart ready to welcome her home.
going to dance with her little backpack
she's going to look so funny with a regular backpack!
today I'm pouring my heart out about Abbey starting school
come back tomorrow when I talk about a part of back to school that ALWAYS gets me excited...the shopping!

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Step Away from the Planner

Like sheep lithely clearing a fence in a picturesque meadow, my to-do list cycles through my head as I sink into my mattress each night.  It greets me every morning, reminding me of mundane tasks like steaming the floors and lovely treats like a day at the zoo for all four of us.

Abbey and Dylan are more than willing to participate in the fun outings but slightly less willing to check off things like “print out preschool information.”  

So after stories and kisses, stars projected on the ceiling and musical toys lulling my children to sleep, I throw my balls in the air, watching them spin up and down, my hands deftly catching and throwing, juggling with the few hours I have before climbing into my own bed.
Working through blog ideas on the treadmill while calculating weekly mileage in my head, I return home to comment and reply and read and write and schedule posts, tossing in laundry in between.
I curl my legs under me, settling into the couch to read a chapter or two of a book I’m reviewing or sometimes one I’m not, until thoughts of the parenting book languishing on the shelf guiltily creep into my consciousness, making it hard to concentrate. 
I pull out the preschool information, planning out my back-to-school plan of attack.  A lump forms in my throat, and I gently place those papers out of sight for another day. 
Ryan sits nearby, studying, working through statistical problems in penciled notes I can’t even begin to understand.
Check…I draw a line through one item, then scribble three more under the tasks left unfinished.
Red digital numbers glow in the dark when we finally get to bed, mocking us with the limited hours until Abbey awakes.
When Ryan suggested we take the night off to watch a movie on my birthday, I resisted, thinking of what I could accomplish in that same two hours.
Then I saw his eyes, impossibly blue and caring, the eyes of my best friend.

I closed the laptop, set aside my planner, still tense and worried about what I was leaving unfinished.
A few minutes ticked by; I made an effort to breathe, to relax.  Slowly, it stopped being an effort.
For that night, I wasn’t a blogger, a runner, a laundress.
I was laughing on the couch with my husband, fingers linked, unfinished lists forgotten.
This post is part of a weekly link-up at Just Be Enough.  Please join us and share your story.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Summer Slumber Party

We've been having such a fun summer, it was tough to decide which pictures to use for Shell's Summer Fun Show Off. 

Then I decided that showing off their sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's would be perfect.  After all, who loves showing off the babies more than the grandparents?  I thought I'd return the favor and show the fun things Abbey and Dylan got to do when they stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for the night.

visiting the nature center with her favorite purse
one of her favorite parts of the playscape

our little monkey
feeding ducks
watching ducks
hanging out at the pool
sitting in the shade of the umbrella
obviously Grandma & Grandpa weren't giving them enough to drink
enjoying the sprinkler

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Visit Me at Just Be Enough

Today, I'm sharing my story on Just Be Enough, where I am honored to be a contributing writer.  Please come over and visit me there. 

If you're not familiar with Just Be Enough, bring a cup of coffee or tea or lemonade and stay for a while, reading about the mission of Just Be Enough and the stories of the women working together to make a change in our world.

On Monday, link up at Just Be Enough with your own story about being enough.  Tomorrow, I'll be talking about putting down my to-do list.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Heartbreak of The Kid

The Kid is not a book for wimps. 

Sapphire brings us the story of Abdul, son of the recently deceased Precious Jones, heroine of Push: A Novel.

Sapphire has a gift with language, writing poetic, heartbreaking prose about the raw and ugly corners of the human psyche.  The Kid has moments of breathtaking beauty, when Abdul lets dance take over his body and his keen, intelligent mind.  It also has explicitly disturbing passages of abuse, pain, and utter revulsion. 

Come over to the BlogHer Book Club and see what I thought of The Kid.  Stay for a while to read some of the other reviews and join the discussion about this undeniably powerful story.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Empty Drawer

the prompt:

Let's get all steamy up in here and write about sex.
But you know us. There's a twist.
You can't write about the act. I don't want to read about any heaving bosoms or girded manhood (please tell me someone else giggled besides me).
This is part of Greta's Story, taking place between "Tears Will Fall" and "The Godmother," but it can stand alone as well.
Her hand hesitated on the brushed chrome.
James had been gone for over a month, and she had wiped his presence away in broad swoops. 
Photographs tugged from frames, haphazardly thrown into the trash or crumpled into boxes pushed to the back of closets.  The rug in their bedroom, the one she could finally admit she hated, rolled up and dragged to the curb to be picked up by a faceless woman with a rusted green van and strong, chapped hands.
This drawer held the last of him, the last, fragile remnants of her marriage.
Abruptly, she pulled it open, scooping the contents into her arms and dumping them onto the still-bare wooden floor next to her bed, wishing she would have remembered to bring a box or bag or garbage can into the room with her.
Silken bits of fabric, each holding a private memory, a glimpse into the life with a man no longer welcome in her heart.
Demure white satin pooled on the floor.  Greta had opened the pristine box holding the nightgown in front of her mother at a small, intimate bridal shower.  But on their wedding night, James’ lips sought hers the moment they fell into their room, trailing along her neck as his fingers urgently pulled at the silk covered buttons, the carefully packed negligee forgotten and unworn next to the bed.
She reached out to pull a crumpled bit of red lace away from her dresser.  Blushingly opened at her bachelorette party after a glass of wine, she hadn’t even been able to think about wearing it until after a cocktail on the beach and two glasses of wine three nights into their honeymoon.  She shouldn’t have worried.  James had more shocked than seduced, allowing his glance to linger on the scant lace bits for only seconds at a time before burying his head in her hair, his hands tracing paths his eyes wouldn’t touch.
Greta’s fingers slid into the pile, gently pulling out one of the few pieces that had been worn more than once or twice.  Light as air, the gossamer nightie was trimmed with lace, a soft, delicate blue, calming and familiar.  Even after the harsh words and heavy silences that announced the end of their marriage more surely than the divorce papers, this piece almost brought a smile to her lips as she remembered the comforting feeling of sinking into their bed, fabric billowing around them with a sigh.
Anger stopped her half-formed smile.
Her jaw clenched as she reached for the last piece of lingerie she had purchased.  Sheer lavender silk and black lace, contrived, designed to seduce.  Expensive and flattering, Greta had purchased it and planned its unveiling, offering herself to her husband when she had nothing left to give.
Cringing at the memory, she heard her sighs of pleasure echoing endlessly between her mind and the empty room. 
The morning after, she had woken slowly, basking in the warmth of sunlight streaming across their tangled sheets, a heartbeat passing before she realized he had already left for work.
The warm sunlight was suddenly a spotlight on her mistake.  Desperate, she had spent hundreds of dollars without blinking, counting on the connection she knew she could coax out of him as their bodies met in spaces their words couldn’t reach.
The fabric in her hands had been her hope for reconciliation but had delivered only lust.
Now, she wiped at her tears, unbidden, unstoppable, taking vicious note of the tracks of mascara dragging across the pastel silk.
It was all garbage now.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

This Morning's Playlist

It's darker out at 5:45 a.m. than I remember.  When did I officially become a night runner? (That should NOT be confused with Knight Rider, though I would love a car that could drive me places while I took a nap.)  Thankfully I didn't have a night like Carrie Underwood in Last Name.

Yes car, I see you and hear you honking, even with Pump It (Black Eyed Peas) in the background.  If three cars can fit on this street, I'm pretty sure there's room for you and me, especially since I am now running on the grass next to the actual road.

Not Afraid (Eminem) might have to become an opening song if it's going to stay on my iPod.  I love Eminem, and he pumps me up mentally, but my legs just aren't feeling it.  Running in the morning without eating is a whole different animal than running after a full day's worth of fueling and pent-up frustrations.

Why hello there legs!  Footloose (Kenny Loggins) does it every time.

Having Like a G6 (Far East Movement) play immediately after Footloose either shows that I'm not quite as old as I feel some days or that I am exactly that old and need to stop watching Gossip Girl.

Unlike the last two songs, Gold Digger (Kanye West, featuring Jaime Foxx) slows me down, which isn't a good thing when facing that annoying hill three-quarters into my run.

Thank goodness I'm Shipping Up to Boston (Dropkick Murphys) -  is short.  I'm getting tired.

When I mentally tell myself I have one more song to get home, is it cheating when that song is a behemouth like The Rockafeller Skank (Fatboy Slim)?  Thankfully, it only took about a quarter of the song to make it back to my house or it would have been the slowest three blocks ever recorded.

I had a planned post in my head, and this wasn't it.  But last night, Ryan and I celebrated my birthday by lazing on the couch and watching Valentine's Day instead of studying (him) or writing (me).  There's nothing like a movie with Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Alba to motivate me to get out of bed to run.  (No offense intended to Shirley MacLaine).
he was sleeping when I got home 
she was not
(though she did go back to sleep for about fifteen minutes)

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