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Tiaras and Trucks

Friday, September 30, 2011

They Should Have Worn Flats

Greta’s hands curled around the cardboard cup, searching for comfort as she breathed in the distinctive scent of coffee and chicory.  They’d been in New Orleans for three days, and she was half in love with the city, but the coffee made her think of mornings with Drew.

A dusting of powdered sugar and the lingering scent of rum replaced Cate’s carefully applied make-up and perfume.  Wrinkling her nose a bit, Greta tested the café au lait, cooled from scalding, knowing it would only compound the filmy feeling in her mouth.  Cate wasn’t the only one radiating rum fumes.

Cate reached wordlessly for the cup, and it passed between them like an embrace, recognizing years of familiarity. 

Hours ago, as their other friends retreated back to the hotel, Cate and Greta tightened their dancing circle until it was only the two of them, shaking and squealing to every song, even the ones they were hearing for the first time.  Drawn in by short dresses, impossible platforms, and laughter spilling from glossed lips, men found their greetings received with a smile, then subtly dismissed.

“I want a girls’ weekend!” Cate had insisted, the last of their small group to need a bachelorette party.

“A spa weekend?” Greta had questioned, already resigned to the inevitable answer.

“Sure, we can hit a spa.  After we dance until our feet fall off,” Cate had replied, her infectious giggle the reason Greta knew she would give Cate the bachelorette weekend of her dreams.

Now, sitting on back to back benches, feet kicked up onto armrests, Greta and Cate shared the third beignet and cup of coffee, swollen feet only part of the reason they were watching the sun rise, humidity already dampening the streets.

“Thanks G,” Cate spoke up suddenly, all of the rum gone from her voice.

“Anytime C.  Anytime,” Greta answered absently, flexing her toes in her red heels, her head tilted towards her friend’s curls.

“This must be a little awful,” Cate continued.  “The wedding…”

Caffeine pushed Cate’s meaning through the fog of exhaustion into which Greta had settled.

“Oh, honey.  No.  Your wedding is amazing.  Your groom is amazing,” Greta smiled, making sure their eyes met and held as she passed the coffee yet again.

“He is, isn’t he?” Cate laughed as she swung her legs to the ground, wincing a little.  “I just worried this would be a tough weekend for you.”

Greta’s fingers touched her purse briefly, the text message she had received less than an hour ago memorized.

“You deserved the best dance party we could find.  It wasn’t tough at all,” Greta reassured.

Going on our run and missing you.  I’m calling the movers tomorrow. Xo

The balls of her feet flamed with each step as they began the walk back to their hotel.

“I’d say it was perfect.”

This is the latest in Greta's story.

the prompt:
New favorite...

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can You Find Me?

One of Abbey’s favorite games is Hide and Seek, and she makes me giggle when she says things like, “Mommy, I’ll hide and you seek.  I think I’ll hide by my dollhouse!”

So, if we were playing hide and seek today, I’ll hide and you seek…

I think I’ll hide over at Do Sweat the Small Stuff

I first met the lovely Ms. Sweaty over at Write on Edge, where she recently wrote a post that made me want to go out dancing.  And you just can't get any better than that.  Plus, she has a fabulous, retro blog design that I stare at in happiness for a few moments each time I click over to read what she’s writing.

Since she blogs somewhere called Do Sweat the Small stuff, it might seem strange that I’m talking about how I have completely flaked on Dylan’s baby book. 

I’d love it if you came over to see the kind of small stuff I sweat on a daily basis and the things I let slide.

If you're visiting from Sweaty's place, relax and stay for a while.  I can tell you all about what it's like to run a 10K in Michigan in August, how I desperately need a pedicure, why going to the beach with kids is fantastic, and what my Abbey wore for her first day of preschool.

Happy Birthday to the first man I ever loved
We love you, Dad, xoxo

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are Your Kids Armed? - Lunch Wars Book Review

Remembering school lunches often means a crinkled nose or a guilty conscience about copious amounts of canned lemonade and peanut butter and wafer cookies.

Amy Kalafa’s Lunch Wars challenges us to rethink school lunches.  She calls on us to advocate for our children, to bring fresh, seasonal produce to schools, to limit our dependence on non-organic animal products and genetically-modified foods.

My emotions went through an entire spectrum while reading Lunch Wars, from ire over our school lunch system and anger about our country’s food culture in general, to slight annoyance and, later, to feeling like there are some great tips for any diet, not just the lunches prepared at school.

I was shocked to read certain facts, like how schools need to order their food eighteen months in advance to take full advantage of government subsidies, a vital source of funding for many school lunch programs.

I was disheartened to read others, such as the dangers of “anything ultra-pasteurized,” since all of the organic milk choices at the grocery stores I frequent are ultra-pasteurized.

That shift, between shocked and disheartened, may cause some readers to dismiss the message Kalafa is sending as too alarmist or unrealistic.  Yet, if you move past the laundry list of foods Kalafa holds up to an unforgiving microscope, you will find a wealth of information about adding whole, naturally grown, local foods to a menu.

Even if you are not interested in school lunch reform, Lunch Wars is worth reading, particularly if you are interested in making conscious, healthy food choices.

What do you think about the food in schools?  Are your kids eating what you ate?  Come over and talk about it at BlogHer!

Nan and Abbey are reading a Tinkerbell book
she's counting on me to make healthy decisions about what she eats

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club.  I received a copy of Amy Kalafa's Lunch Wars and compensation for participation in the review campaign, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Her Mother's Pearls


Sunlight streams through a window, curtains pulled back to allow for maximum light.

The room is spotless, a cream shag rug contrasting sharply with the dark wooden floors, clean but worn.

The closet door is firmly closed, the only signs of the room’s inhabitant are the glass perfume bottles and leather jewelry case sitting on the elongated dresser, in front of the mirror.

ABBEY walks into the room, slowly, wrapping her oversized sweater more tightly around her waist.  The rich grey picks up the few strands of silver threaded through her long hair, twisted into a neat chignon, slightly off center.

Muffled voices grow almost imperceptible as ABBEY closes the door to the hallway

My mother always said she lived a very ordinary life…

ABBEY opens the jewelry box and picks up several strands of pearls, letting them slide through her fingers before placing them absentmindedly in the pocket of her sweater, hand remaining in the pocket, closed around the necklace.

ABBEY’S eyes follow the shaft of sun to an old trunk sitting against the wall.  Dust dances in the sunlight as she opens the lid, revealing frame photographs, yellowing journals, and worn books.

“Wonderful Tonight” (instrumental) quietly plays (BACKGROUND)

…blessed by a collection of extraordinary moments…

Kneeling next to the trunk, ABBEY picks up and gently places a wedding photo of Ryan and Angela on the floor next to her, fingers tracing the outline of their faces.

MUSIC fades into “Baby Mine”.

ABBEY places two more frames next to the wedding picture, a pink framed photograph of her as a baby, holding a pink cell phone upside down, wearing a pink gingham jumper, and a black and white photo of DYLAN as a newborn, wearing only a polka-dot diaper cover, fist curled under his chin.

She told me, more than once, that she knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she knew how to write…

She carefully pulls a journal out of the trunk and places it on top of the frames.

Her hand reaches back into her sweater pocket to feel the pearls as she looks back towards the perfume bottles.

…but she said she knew she would be a writer the summer she went to journalism camp at Columbia University.


Fade to black.

I'd say "be gentle," since I've never even attempted screenplay formatting until now.  But I guess I can't say that, since I helped come up with the prompt.
Obviously, I've taken some artistic license with this piece.

the prompt:

Congratulations! Your best selling memoir has just been optioned by a major motion picture studio, and the producers want you advising on the script.  Write the opening scene for the movie.  Would you begin with a visual montage?  Voice-over? Flashback or forward? A conversation? The trick here is to look through a lens. The camera needs to tell the story through visuals, action, dialogue.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Constant in the Chaos

My fingers race over the keyboard, thoughts tumbling onto the screen.

Pausing, I read what I’ve written.

Sigh.  Select the text.  Delete.

More slowly, I begin again, attempting to form the sentences in my head before typing.

I read what I’ve written.

Sigh.  Select the text.  Delete.

Pushing back my laptop, I read the jotted prompt in my little notebook:

“The top area of your life where you would like to apply the Just.Be.Enough. mission of standing taller.

My cursor blinks at me, the screen blank, glimpses of ideas scurrying around my mind, ducking behind columns as I try to grab them, pile them together, decide which part of my life most needs this important mantra: Just.Be.Enough.

I idly flip the pages in my planner, take a drink of water, reach for the book on the corner of my desk, ready to distract myself with another one of the endless tasks on my to-do list.

My nails are unpainted.  I need to empty the dishwasher.  There are new songs I want to add to my running playlist.

Each thought is a bouncing ball, a tiny sphere of pink rubber ricocheting back and forth in my mind, bumping against other thoughts, rebounding off each other, crowding the space and making it impossible to follow any one thought to its final destination.

Again, my eyes go to the prompt:

“The top area of your life where you would like to apply the Just.Be.Enough. mission…”

I jot notes.  Running.  Writing.  Self-Image.  Parenting.

Running has been a struggle lately; after the half marathon I need to rediscover what it means to run without a clock, without mileage expectations, without a goal other than the joy I find in running.

I’m writing and editing and collaborating on amazing projects, but I am unsure what all of those things mean in relation to my own professional path, unsure if it can even be considered a professional path.

Preschool has reawakened my worries about moving, where I want the kids to go to school, when we’ll be able to consider a move at all.

Dylan resisted going to bed tonight, and as he buried himself into my chest, I breathed him in and vowed to spend more time enjoying each little phase of their development instead of worrying about timelines and schedules.

“The top area of your life…”

I study the words I’ve doodled.  Which area is top?  How do I determine where I need to most accept my limitations and embrace my strengths, when I’m so unsure about so many of my end goals?

Deliberately, I reach for the computer.

I have not had a moment of clarity.

I can’t declare that I am enough as a runner, a writer, a mother, a wife.

I am uncertain about where any of these paths will lead.

Without a goal, a destination, I cannot state with certainty that I am enough.

There is only one certainty.

Today, in a parking lot, I held Abbey’s hand, her other hand holding Dylan’s small fingers.  Ryan completed our small chain, holding Dylan’s other hand firmly in his.  Our eyes met briefly, over the heads of our children, a smile holding the four of us together.

I am unsure where my path will lead, but I know who is walking at my side.

And that is enough.

Every MONDAY join us… 
Write, post, link-up, share your story and your voice. 
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission
to empower, inspire, and remind 
women, parents and children
that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

One Time, a Tree Fell on My House

Have you seen Grease?  The movie?

There’s a lovely animated opening, where Olivia Newton-John’s character wakes up, blissfully lovely, birds chirping, and you just know she’s going to have a good hair day.

Earlier this month, I woke up and saw that a tree had fallen on our house.

I would have preferred the chirping birds…

I’m sharing the story over at Taming Insanity, where the irreverently hilarious KLZ is allowing me to visit for the day. 

Not only is she half responsible for the creation of uber-helpful Eli Rose Social Media, but she always writes in a way that makes me feel like I could run into her on the street and just hang out.  She’s honest, forthright, and bought her adorable son some bedding I might copy when it’s time for Dylan to give up his crib.  Did I mention hilarious?

If you're visiting from Taming Insanity, I’d love it if you looked around a bit.  I can tell you all about how much I depend on the rhythm of my runs (psst…KLZ likes that one,) how I desperately need a pedicure, why going to the beach with kids is fantastic, and what my Abbey wore on her first day of preschool.

Abbey concentrating on her puzzle
Dylan watched Daddy and Grandpa Ray work on the roof for quite some time

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Tickets for Two?

SWM iso SF

Tickets for Two?

I’m a movie buff.  I won’t say “film buff,” because I like Weekend at Bernie’s just as much as an Ingmar Bergman marathon on a Saturday night.  I’ll share my popcorn – if you’ll share your Junior Mints.

My camera’s usually nearby, but I run for cover if someone starts taking video.  Like David Lynch once said, “I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened.” 

I’ll take computer-slowing amounts of photos, though, from the graffiti on the buildings downtown to sunlight streaming through your hair…if you don’t mind, of course.

You don’t need to be a runner, but I hope you don’t mind that I am.  The endurance helps me keep up with you on the dance floor when we go to listen to live music.  

Ideally, you’d love the water, get excited about eating guacamole for dinner once in a while, and be willing to watch one of my nieces and nephews play soccer some weekend, if I bring the coffee and donuts.

According to Tarantino, there are only two kinds of people in the world, Beatles people and Elvis people…Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice, tells you if you want to go out with me. Or something like that.

Because I’m an Elvis guy.  I’d like the think any actual resemblance is closer to Army Elvis than Peanut Butter and Banana Elvis, and I promise to leave the sequined jumpsuits at home – most of the time.

the prompt:

Let’s have fun this week. We want you to write a personal ad for your character, like one you would find on a dating site. The ad should tell us about your character, but should not be a laundry list – and no cliches about walks on the beach.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unsupervised, A Short Play

Scene: Forty minutes before dinner, kids downstairs, Mom in kitchen

(overheard from basement): lots of giggling, squeal of laughter

Abbey (running upstairs): I wanted to make him look pretty! (gales of laughter)

Mom (hurries around corner)

crickets chirp

Dylan and Abbey (laughing uncontrollably)

Fade to black

I'm linking up with Funny or Snot for WTF Wednesdays

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Evening in Louisiana

*I originally wrote this post for writing prompts noted at the end of the post.  If you're reading it again, I think you'll agree that I couldn't change my idea of the perfect gift.

All week, our swimsuits stayed tucked into suitcases, tank tops and sundresses hidden beneath cardigan sweaters and, one night, a black and silver feather boa purchased from a little store that didn’t mind us shopping with to-go cups of deceptively sweet hurricanes in our hands.

Cool air kept the infamous humidity at bay, hidden behind the wrought iron fences embracing the lush yards of the Garden District Home. 

I planned one night of relaxation before driving back to Michigan, but raindrops and cloud cover meant the tiny, private pool would languish unused during our stay at Nottoway Plantation.

Wrapped in a sweater, I settle into a wrought iron chair in our courtyard, glad Ryan upgraded our room as a surprise.  After the garish lights and bustle of Bourbon Street, the privacy is luxurious and surreal, aqua lights shining from the pool to cast a cool glow onto the stone walls barring us from any distractions.

Champagne flutes sit on the little table between us, pushed back slightly when we pull our chairs together, edges touching.  He sips once or twice, then his glass is forgotten, effervescence bubbling to the surface like our conversation, natural and effortless.

I relax.  Even in the cool air, the chilled champagne is cold on my tongue, sweetly tickling the roof of my mouth before dancing dryly down my throat.  The ornately detailed chair presses into my thighs, etching its pattern onto my skin like a memory.

My bare legs are ready to go inside before long, but Ryan takes my hands in both of his, his warmth banishing the chill in the air.

Looking into his eyes, blue and grey and green, the cool breeze grows still.  Slowly, our effortless conversation morphs into something else.  The turquoise water bathes us in a reflective glow, powered by words that do more than ask a question, the question. 


Tears prick at my lids but are whisked away by our matching smiles, the fierce tenderness of our embrace.  Laughter bubbles as we realize he’s still on one knee, making our hug perfectly awkward and unforgettable.


He lets go of my hands at some point, because suddenly there’s a ring nestled in black velvet, the sheen of platinum circling around to a diamond, made for my finger, made for this moment.

Twinkling in the muted light, each facet reflects a new color, every color a promise.  In its sparkles, I see our family, hugs of comfort and celebration, this ring circling a finger bent and riddled with old age.  I see a life together.

Our life together.

Forever and ever, yes.  

Every MONDAY join us…
Write, post, link-up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence and share our mission
to empower, inspire, and remind
women, parents and children

that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

Next week’s prompt: Priorities

(Remember you can also write on a topic of your choice.)

the prompt:
Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breath the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.

Lauren Nicole Gifts Blog
I'm also linking this over at the Lauren Nicole Gifts Blog, for their new monthly link-up.
This month's theme is "the best gift you've ever received."

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweetness of Summer

For months, the humidity seeped through the cracks in doors, dampening foreheads with sweat.  

Temperatures climbed upwards, causing us to spend days playing in water or retreating to the coolness of the library.

Playing at the park meant ponytails to keep hair off our necks and baths every night to scrub away the thin film of sunscreen, sweat, and dirt unique to little boys enamored with feeding wood chips to plastic dinosaurs and the little stone turtle in our backyard.

We lingered in wayward sprinklers on neighborhood walks.

Slid feet into sandals and flip flops and Crocs.

Ignored the back-to-school sales and the days slipping by on the calendar.

Rode the lazy days and evenings towards Labor Day without realizing how near that weekend loomed.

Then, September.

Labor Day in Michigan marks the change of seasons more than the autumnal equinox. 

Even if the temperature climbs back into summer-like heat, we have already pushed aside our swimsuits to make room for sweaters, and the heat is just a reminder of what lies in wait at the end of a long winter.

Years ago, my family welcomed fall with a soccer tournament at the Peach Festival, a Labor Day celebration in a nearby community.

This year, I decided the kids would experience the Peach Festival for their first time.

And they did.

And the experience was nothing like I imagined.

Driving as a passenger with my mom meant not really needing to pay attention to where we were going all those years.  With Ryan in buckled down study mode, I scoured the website map and still drove to the wrong location on my own.

Friday and Saturday were sweltering, and Saturday’s storms cooled things down for the remainder of the weekend, possibly a little too much.

With the temperature dropping by the minute, we wore hoodies and wandered around the craft show tents with sides, to block the wind.  I found myself wishing for pants or gloves or my comfortable brown boots as I tried to indulge the kids on the swings for a while.

My hair stuck in my lip balm; I used more than several tissues chasing running noses around the playground. 

Six eyes watered from the wind, and I let myself slide into thinking maybe I should have waited another year, a warmer year, a year Ryan could have joined us.

But then Abbey saw the farmers' market stands and forgot the wind.

Carefully, she inspected the four peaches in each "cute little basket" until finding the perfect combination.

And in the car, out of the wind, we enjoyed a few last bites of summer.

not a fan of the peaches
maybe he's waiting for fresh picked apples this fall

Every MONDAY join us… 

Write, Post, Link-Up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission to empower, inspire,
and remind
women, parents and children
that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

How have you have lived the Be Enough Me feeling this week?

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Fourteen Hours

Fourteen hours and eleven minutes separated elation and anxiety.

Tangled together in bed this morning, limbs and sheets and hair twisted into a comfortable cocoon, Drew had leaned over her.

“Move in with me?”

Her eyebrows drew together for a brief instant before smoothing perfectly back into her creamy brow.  Bright eyes danced as she drew his lips down to her own, answering his question with a teasing kiss that quickly turned urgent.

“Going to the gym, babe!” Corrine yelled in the general direction of the bathroom, almost an hour later.  “I’ve got meetings all day, but I’ll see you around six.”

The door slammed before he had a chance to say he loved her.

Before he realized she had never really answered him.

Shampoo stung his eyes as he stared at the tiled wall, dispassionately analyzing what had seemed recklessly passionate moments before.

Fourteen hours and twelve minutes later, it was after six, and she still hadn’t returned.

Drew paced.

His small loft wasn’t built for pacing.  The view of the water and proximity to his favorite restaurants had meant more than square footage.  After all, a single guy didn’t take up much room, and he’d never been a dog person.

Back and forth and back and forth.

From the sliding balcony door to the stainless steel kitchen sink and back took less than twenty seconds.

He should have gone for a run after work, killed some time, cleared his mind.  His running shoes were by the closed door, always waiting to envelop his feet and take whatever beating he was willing to give them.

Back and forth.

Nervously, he picked up a framed photo of the two of them, taken on some ski trip with her friends.  She loved the candid shot, their foreheads touching, her eyes discovering the camera at the last moment, laughter spilling from her eyes before it reached the rest of her features.

Fourteen hours and thirteen minutes.

Unable to stop himself, he glanced down at his watch, the chrome face mocking him with its unmoving numbers.

Anxious eyes carried to the door, fading almost to grey each time he realized the knob hadn’t begun to twist open.

He forced himself to stop pacing and instead leaned his forehead against the wall of eastward facing windows, willing the rhythmic waves to lull him back to the serenity he had felt that morning, wrapped in her warmth, before he had said anything about their future.

The door opened.

He turned.

Relief washed over him the moment he saw her face, light sparkling the amber of her eyes into gold, richly telling him everything he needed to know. 

In seconds, he crossed from the windows to where she stood, offering her mouth to him with a sigh.

She danced away a moment later.  Another sigh.

“I can’t Drew.  I just can’t,” she finally answered.

Fourteen hours and twenty-one minutes after he had realized he was utterly, inescapably in love, he realized she wasn’t.

He discovered that sometimes eyes lied.

For those of you following Greta's story, I thought we could find out a little more about the new man in her life.  If you don't "know" Greta, you can catch up or take this as a stand-alone piece.

the prompt:
This week we’d like you to explore romantic heartbreak. For you fiction writers, here’s a chance to really delve into the psyche of your character. For you non-fiction folk, well, maybe it’s into your psyche you must delve. We all remember that first love, just like we all remember when our hearts broke for the first time.
Write a piece – 600 word limit – about the first heartbreak your character or you experienced.

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