Monday, February 29, 2016

Miscommunication

I love the Little Man, but there are times when he reminds me of another guy in the house who tends to be forgetful...
Me: Aaron, where is your lunchbox? [Last week, he'd left it in his math classroom overnight.]
Aaron: Just a minute...here it is.
Me: Thanks.
Aaron: Uh, I didn't eat my sandwich because I had pizza.
Me: Why did you have pizza?
Aaron: It was the pizza party.
Me: You didn't tell me you were having a pizza party.
Aaron: Oh.
Me: What was this pizza party for?
Aaron: Well, it was for different things, but I had pizza because I won the spelling bee.
Me: You didn't tell me you won the spelling bee, either.
Aaron: Oh.
Me: Yeah, Oh.
Congrats on the spelling bee, honey. Let's make sure you remember to tell me when you win that Nobel Prize.



Friday, February 26, 2016

Reasons 171-180

171. Wavy potato chips.
172. Fluffy cushions on a hard dining room chair.
173. Shadow's sighs.
174. The brief respite from winter that seems to happen each year.
175. Pink sherbet skies at 7:23 a.m.
176. Friends who make soothing balm for your insanely cracked feet.
177. Harper Lee. (May she rest in peace.)
178. The color wheel.
179. Getting excited over words.
180. Littles that aren't so little anymore.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dear Student VI

Dear Student,

Hi. How are you? How is the semester progressing for you? I think it's going quite well for me, actually, not that you asked. Do you know how many more weeks we have to go? What? You don't look at the syllabus? Why am I not surprised?

I could have told you that you don't look at the syllabus, that you don't listen to me, and that your attendance is spotty. I can see this with my own eyes, and I want to remind you that way back at the beginning of the semester (that's six weeks ago, since we're in our seventh week), we had a discussion. Not just you and me, but a whole-class discussion. About expectations: yours and mine.

Does that word expectation ring a bell? It should, for I threw it into that discussion so many times I got sick of hearing myself say the word. One of those expectations was that you would check your email daily. I remember distinctly saying to the entire class: This course is not an online class, but so much of our information is provided via email and course links that it is crucial for you to check your email. Sometimes, I might have important information for you.

You nodded your head up and down, like you understood. But as the semester has progressed, I have come to realize that the nodding of your head must simply be a reflex (a very well-developed one, I might add). You've done poorly on the first lecture and lab exams, and while you say you don't have questions, the blank stare of your glazed eyes tells me otherwise. It's obvious to me that the information is not quite sinking in.

However, I'm not writing this letter to belittle your lack of studying, lack of questioning me, or lack of anything else other than your lack of checking email. For at the end of that discussion I referred to earlier, I repeated myself: You must check email. Especially during the winter months. You never know what can happen with respect to weather. In addition, I am a mom and have a life as well. Canceling class rarely happens, but it can happen. So check your email, just in case.

Well, here we are, just under halfway through the semester, and we have a just in case moment. My guess is that you don't yet know about it.

Yes, that's right. Today, there will be no class. I've canceled both lab and lecture for a personal matter, and I not only emailed your entire lab section, but I also sent two messages via the lecture email group. In those emails, I instructed anyone who didn't make it to class on Tuesday (ahem, meaning you) to contact me.

Why? Because the exam we were supposed to hold today? Yeah, that second exam that's been on the syllabus since the beginning of class--it's been converted to a take home exam. An exam I handed out most of on Tuesday (when you weren't there). An exam that will need to be returned next Tuesday, in its entirety. (And by the way, the second half of that exam--an essay portion--was posted on the group's site. You would know this if you'd checked your email.)

Here's the problem that you have, then, since you don't check email:
  1. You don't know there's no class today. (What a waste of time for you.)
  2. You don't know what happened on Tuesday. (Check the mail, doggone it!)
  3. You don't know that the exam is available for you, if you only email me. (My guess is you will look at the empty classroom and just think it's your lucky day. It's about to turn unlucky really quickly, kiddo.)
I doubt I needed to spell those three points out for my readers, but I thought I would for you. (Just like I've spelled out other tidbits for other students in these letters, although the last letter was more positive than this one.)

Let me also spell out for you that if you arrive to class on Tuesday empty-handed, simply because you didn't check your email, I will hand you a big round zero.

In fact, you can expect it.

Sincerely,

Your Teacher

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

These Things I Know, II

My kids claim that I know a lot. I've never claimed to know much of anything, but people ask me questions all the time, and I answer them (apparently with adequate information) so I must know something. And since I have an itch to write a post, I might as well share with you more of the things that I know:

Many moms do not want their pictures taken. I'm not sure if that fact has to do with saggy boobs, wrinkles, and messy/gray/roots-showing hair, but I know that my single friends--those who have never been married and do not have children--never mind getting in front of the camera. In fact, their Facebook pages are littered with current photos of themselves and only themselves.

My parents either do not know how to take care of themselves, or they do not want to take care of themselves. That statement could be the basis of a book--oh wait, it is the basis of a book (yet to be revised and sent out)--so I'll stop there for now.

My life is so chock full of rich moments, that even if I wanted to stop writing, I'm not sure I could. I think I'd go crazy just try to harness all the details and imaginary conversations into order. And I'm all about order, so yes, you'd have to send me to the loony bin. (Or am I already there?)

I love Shadow. I will miss him when he's no longer on this earth. If I think about that possibility for too long, I will start to cry, so I usually don't dwell on it. However, I do take a lot of pictures...

Ignore that rather large mass to the left of his nose. We had it removed yesterday.

I love red lentils but I have yet to figure out exactly how long they take to cook under my watch.

Sometimes I hear music when my dishwasher runs. My guess is that the swirl of the water, the movement of the dishes, and the tinkling of the silverware come together to make a melody. If you listen very closely, the lovely peals are reminiscent of the noise that accompanies the movement of the TARDIS.

I went to the dermatologist the other day for my annual full body exam. While there, the doctor told me that the dry patch on my face could very well keep recurring unless I took an antibiotic (it's perioral dermatitis). I'm not one to take drugs unnecessarily, but I might fill the prescription.

There are people who enrich our lives, and the only way they will ever know that fact is if you tell them. You enrich my life, readers, and I'm grateful for you.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Are You Ready?

The first writing class I enrolled in outside of high school or college billed itself as a workshop. Which meant that each week, one person's writing would be read and critiqued by six other strangers sitting around the conference table. To this day, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to think that I could survive a class like that, but I went ahead and not only survived--I found a family there, too: The Plot Sisters still meet every two weeks to read and critique each other's work.

Since that fateful day in May 2012, my reaction to being critiqued has changed. In the beginning, I would cower at the side of the table with an explosive heart rate and sweat on my brow, while now, I find myself looking forward to everything my cohorts have to say. And by everything, I mean everything. Even on those days when the ladies look at me, eyes bright and energetic, and say, "This piece needs some work."

Because that's why I'm at writing group, right? To get honest feedback from my trusted peers and make my work better.

The other day, though, as I sat and listened to the discussion about a fellow writer's work, I wondered how she felt about the task in front of her.

Was she ready to accept the challenge and make great writing even better? Was she annoyed by the fact that we all thought the piece could be improved? Did she think the work she'd given us was the best she could do and therefore, would she simply throw our suggestions away?

I didn't have the chance to ask her, but my guess is that she'll go home and work on what we suggested. At least I hope she does. After all, she has hopes of being published in the big leagues someday.

All that thinking about feedback and what I think and what other people think made me consider what I think is a decent list for taking and receiving feedback. That's a lot of thinking, I know, and I know you can find some of these suggestions almost anywhere else. But know this. Just like when I blogged about how to be successful in NaNoWriMo, I want you to remember that I'm an amateur. I've only published a few items and I've only been an online editor for two years. Sometimes it's easier to take advice from someone like yourself.

And so, here we go:

  • Listen to your gut. Yes, it's important to listen to the advice your fellow writers are telling you, but if there is something that really nags at you--something you absolutely do not want to change--then don't. It might stifle your creativity in the long run if you cave to the wants of the masses. On the other hand, sometimes you listen to that gut and get to the end and realize that what your writing group was saying all along was true. (Gotta love that karma.)
  • Sometimes it's okay to compromise. Having read my first point, though, realize that what your writing group is telling you is something you might want to listen to. And in that case, you might consider the art of the compromise. Come up with a way to keep the mystery and still give a bit more backstory, thereby satisfying yourself and your readers. (That's just one example. Of course, there are many ways a writer might need to compromise.)
  • Remember to distinguish between opinion and fact. Yes, the writing business is very subjective and so is writing style. But what I might tell you to fix is sometimes just an opinion. Maybe I think you have a hateful character and I can't sympathize with him. But maybe another writer loves him and finds his character development so nuanced, she's jumping for joy when she reads his scenes. Opinion, really. On the other hand, a piece full of bad grammar? Uh, yeah, that's a fact. Go fix it.
  • Sometimes you need to focus on the content and not worry about the delivery. Get the story out, right? But then there are times where the content is fine and the delivery, for lack of a better word, stinks. That situation is not a bad place to be, necessarily. I've read plenty of books with  content that has been delivered poorly. (Yep, they still find their way to being published.) What I'm trying to say is, don't chuck the piece if you're delivery needs work. Just work on it. (And remind yourself that's why you're in the writing group to begin with.)
  • Be open to critique in the first place. If you bring your piece to the table and your mind has already decided not to make changes, then it's clear you won't be making any changes, and you've wasted everyone's time. Most of us don't have time to waste. Keeping an open mind is a must in this business.
  • Remember that the old adage is true: you get what you give. Some writers phrase the sentiment differently: you get what you put into it. However you say it doesn't matter. Just know that in order to learn how to make your work better, you should be paying attention when you're being critiqued and when you're doing the critiquing. I almost always walk away from every critique--whether we've looked at my pages or not--having learned something. And as I always say, learning something is never a bad thing.





Saturday, February 20, 2016

Salt

She does a good job of trying to let go,
but sometimes, 
things happen that lasso her in and bring the drama front and center. 
Waving her hands, 
she does her best to push it back, 
behind her, 
so that when she walks, 
she walks away from all of it. 
She must force herself to stare ahead 
and resist the urge to look backward, 
much like Lot's wife. 
She has no intention of becoming a pillar of salt.


from VisitJordan.com

Friday, February 19, 2016

Into the Pensieve, III

For as long as I can remember, Mom has always loved vanilla ice cream. A few moments in time creep into my mind when I see her ordering Butter Pecan at Baskin-Robbins, but if given the choice for a half-gallon of ice cream at home (when companies still routinely sold half-gallons), she'd choose vanilla.

I like vanilla ice cream. But I always perceived Mom's choice as boring, bland, dare I say, vanilla?

Until I thought about Mom's choice more and realized that by choosing vanilla ice cream, she chose a simple, pure flavor that probably isn't appreciated as much as it should be. Good vanilla ice cream is a pleasure to eat, really, and can form the basis of so many wonderful desserts.

I looked up what desserts could be made with vanilla ice cream as their base, and since these pictures from Coastal Living were so pretty (taken by Levi Brown), I thought I'd share them here.

Brownie Ice Cream Sundae Cake

Nut-crusted Key Lime Ice Cream Cupcake

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream Bites

Strawberry Ice Cream Shortcakes

Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake
Mom never dared to make desserts as intricate as these with her vanilla ice cream. The most she'd do is drizzle some chocolate sauce on top. But I'd like to think that if given the chance, she'd try these desserts, maybe even like one or two. Perhaps the next time she comes to visit, we'll find out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Warming Up

This winter hasn't been the worst I've ever seen. In fact, the weather has been pretty mild, with the exception of the last few weeks. But here we are, halfway through February, and I find myself cold. And by cold, I mean that I cannot warm up. Sure, I'm warm when I'm running, but aside from that 30 to 45 minutes a few days a week, I shiver, wrap scarves around my neck, and sit in the house with my fleece bathrobe as tight as I can get it. Yesterday, I drove home from work with my teeth chattering, despite the down coat I sported and the blasting heat in my car.

So today, I'm posting some images to help make me warmer. Since this is a family blog, I'll keep it clean. (Maybe.)

This is Florida. Lots of heat here.
Nothing warms me up like hot cocoa.
I ate soup for lunch yesterday. It helped a little.
At least my heart feels warmer when I look at these guys.
And speaking of guys, we can't forget this one. Yep, I feel warmer already.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Addendum

Frank's hands shook as he picked up the receiver. The caller ID showed the number of his dermatologist. He'd been in last week to have a mole removed. If the news were good, the office wouldn't be calling would it?

"Hello?" Even he could hear the tremble in his voice.

"Hello. Mr. Costello?"

"Yes. Speaking." He sat down at the kitchen table.

"Hi, this is Dawn from the Skin Center. Dr. Yarrow wanted me to tell you that the mole you had excised looks like melanoma. You need to have more taken out next week to be sure that we've gotten all of it, okay? And it looks like here we have two openings on Thursday, at either 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Which one would work for your schedule?"

Dawn's voice is pleasant, Frank thought. But that's a lot to take in. Let me think. Let me think.

Frank tossed the times around in his head and then consulted his calendar. "I think the 9:30 slot would work well. Thank you."

"Okay then, Mr. Costello. We'll see you at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. Have a nice day."

Have a nice day my ass. Melanoma. Melanoma. What did he know about melanoma? Nothing, other than the fact that it was bad, right? Wasn't melanoma the bad type of skin cancer? Marissa would know. If only he'd listened to her all those times she was telling him about her research.

He put the phone back on the receiver and pulled out his computer. He keyed melanoma into the Google search box and hit return. Almost 20 million results in 0.28 seconds. An amazing feat to find so much information in so little time. But where to start? He had no clue and realized what he needed to do.

Gathering the phone in his hands once again, Frank keyed in Marissa's number. The line rang twice before she picked up.

"Hello?"

"What do you know about skin cancer?"

"Uh, Dad. That's a great question and a loaded one. What do you need to know?"

Frank could hear the commotion of the boys in the background, and he wondered if Marissa could hear him clearly. "I have melanoma."

(To be continued...)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love is in the Air

Back in December, I read an article about a guy who ogled his wife in line at Target, though at the time, he didn't realize she was his wife. I chuckled at the article and took no offense by the fact that that man was checking someone out. We need to remember that while we're married, we aren't dead, right? Which means that from time to time, I notice a good looking guy, and I'm sure that Tim has noticed women he has deemed attractive.

Cut to yesterday. Tim and I had the kids at 2nd & Charles and were browsing in separate parts of the store. Melina and I were in the kids' section while Tim was floating in-between kids and magazines. Melina and I chatted about a few of the toys and then I turned my head to the left. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man. But my eyes are so bad these days, I couldn't make that much out about the person. As my eyes focused better, I thought, "He's cute." As my eyes focused even more, I realized the man was Tim.

I guess it's good to know that I'm still attracted to my husband. Happy Valentine's Day, honey.
SWAK

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13

Today is the day...

(I'm sure you're waiting to find out what about this day is so special.)

Today is the day before Valentine's Day, a holiday we don't quite celebrate around this house that much; maybe give the kids some extra chocolate and a hug. As I started to think about Valentine's Day, I wondered about the day before it, and what happens on that date. This year, plenty will happen (if you get my drift) because Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday and I've already heard about people who move their plans to the 13th because they want to turn in early on Sunday night before the week begins. (Or is that just me?) But what else does the 13th of February represent?

A little digging with my friend Google helped me find that February 13 is National Tortellini Day. Who knew? I thought a good Italian like me would, but I guess not. I don't know about you, but there are some days in my life that I'll take the pasta over the chocolate. Usually those days have PMS or stress written all over them. (Actually, on those days, I'll probably take the pasta and the chocolate.)
Photo by Gyfis

Oddly enough, I also found that February 13th is Get A Different Name Day. I'm not even sure what to think of that. And since it's a Saturday and I'm not in the writing mood, I'll leave you with those tidbits for the day.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Some Detours Just Aren't Worth It

I think I've said before that I'll read just about anything (and really, I mean anything). This year, however, I'm trying to challenge myself by reading more nonfiction and literary works, while still sprinkling in YA, women's fiction, even some juvenile books I've neglected to read (Because of Winn-Dixie anyone?).

I just finished up James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time so I thought I'd take a step back and move over to my YA shelf, to give myself a break from the literary. What had I picked up at the library the last time I went? I asked myself as I moved toward the bookshelf in the living room. My hand picked up The Detour, by S. A. Bodeen.

I'd never heard of that author before, but the dust jacket led me to believe that The Detour would read much like Misery, by Stephen King. My first thought? Stephen King already wrote that story and wrote it well. My second thought? Maybe there's something different inside the book of which I'm not aware. I plunged ahead.

I didn't get far, though, before I realized that I truly had somehow chosen a book that would challenge me in ways that literary and nonfiction would not. How? you ask. On page 1, the main character (who is an acclaimed author at only 17 years old) says:


Uh, yeah. That last line there, in italics, pretty much turns me off from this character right away. While I can appreciate that a 17-year-old best selling novelist might have somewhat of an attitude (even though she shouldn't), did I want to actually read about her? But because it was the first page, and only the first page, I kept going. Sadly, I was then smacked with this lovely prose:


Well, that main character can just go flip herself, you know? I don't want to be the next Stephenie Meyer; I want to write a better story than Ms. Meyer did. But I am over thirty, earnest and eager, and yes, I try to get to writing conferences when I'm able.

And that, my friends, is where I realized that I'm taking offense from a character. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE, I chanted to myself. Get over it and move on.

Still, the book wound up being challenging because of that main character. I never came to  like her and I didn't even feel sympathetic toward here. Furthermore, the plot was predictable. I don't review books and this is not a review, but I will say this: Misery was a much better read. Stick with the big guy if you have a hankering to read about a writer and a crazy fan.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Teaser III

I'd just finished placing a poster above my bed when my roommate, Dave, returned from the communal bathroom.
"What does that say?" He opened the curtains farther to let in more light and squinted his eyes. 'Thank goodness I was never sent to school. It would have rubbed off some of the originality.' Huh." Davy furrowed his brow and turned toward me. "Did Beatrix Potter really say that? The Beatrix Potter who wrote all those kids' stories?"
"Sure did. The minute I saw that quote, I knew it was for me. Homeschooled for 12 years and proud of it." I puffed out my chest like a rooster.
"Twelve years? Seriously? Wow. Where I come from, we don't see that too often. Except with the families that live in the country and have 13 children or something like that." Davy ignored my chest puffing and went about throwing clothes into his dresser drawers.
"Well, I'm not from the country and I only have one brother. I guess you've already learned something, and classes haven't even started." I felt a smirk cross my face and I cocked my head, something I'd always done to my brother when I teased him.
Davy didn't appear to notice. "So true, Daniel, so true," he said as he hung some clothes in his infinitesimally small closet. I crossed the room to place a few textbooks on the less-than-sturdy wooden shelves and looked around the already-cramped room. With its tiny size, the space had the capacity to quickly become a cesspool if we weren't careful. I wondered how messy this Dave character would be.   
"I gotta tell you, Dave, I'm glad you sent me a letter beforehand." I waved my hand at the electronics that littered the dorm room. "We'd have had double of this junk, and nowhere to put it."
He nodded his head. "It was my mom's idea, actually. My sister's roommate did the same thing three years ago. I thought it would make me look like a sissy, but in the end, she was right."
I found myself nodding my head. "It saved us a lot of time…"
"Yeah, and we don't have to drag anything back home. I guess I should thank her when I talk to her next."
I saw Dave write something on a list and wondered if he’d written, Call mom and thank her. What sort of person needed to be reminded to call his mom? "Speaking of dragging, that's me. What time is the dining hall open? I'm starving. What about you?" I rubbed my hand against my stomach. Sometimes I got so hungry, I thought I must have a tapeworm.
Dave glanced at the silver watch on his wrist and shook it. "Yeah, it should be open by now, even though it's on the early side. Probably something nasty for dinner, but we're gonna have to eat eventually. Might as well go now."
"Who knows? Maybe we'll luck out and it'll be spaghetti and meatball night. Or tacos." I'd probably be sticking with cold cereal, but I told myself I'd at least try some of the cafeteria food at some point. I had to last all year, after all, and I wasn't sure that Raisin Bran and milk would fit the bill for the next nine months.
"Fat chance." Dave said.
We turned off the lights in the room and pulled the door closed. Our dorm door had a chalkboard on it, and I quickly sketched a Welcome sign on the door, above the drawing of Luke Skywalker that Dave had added that afternoon. I made a mental note to ask about his fascination with all things Star Wars. Whether or not he knew it, I'd caught a glimpse of his sketch pad and was impressed by several likenesses of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
"I don't even know where the dining hall is, Dave. Do you?" Heck, I'd never even been inside a real school before attending the very small community college back home, except for a few instances of piano recitals and plays I attended with my family. Despite my certain belief that I'd lacked for nothing during my homeschooling years, I wasn't too arrogant to admit that I could learn a few things here at Michigan.
"Yep, this way. I took a tour earlier this afternoon."
Dave and I meandered down the hall, past the rows of girls' rooms and the bathrooms. The back hallway seemed to lead to the dining hall, because Dave took me in that direction. At the bottom of the steps, he pulled up short.
"Dude, what the—?" I avoided slamming into Dave's back by throwing my hand up against the tile of the wall.
I craned my neck to see what had stopped Dave, and glimpsed a girl. Figures, I thought. I'd already caught sight of a few freshman guys with their tongues hanging out. I refused to be that guy, no matter how many cute girls there were here. But Dave must have known the girl, because he didn't just let her pass. I couldn't see who it was until she stepped out of the shadows.
"Cecil," Davy started, "This is Daniel Cahill, my roommate." I looked at the girl standing in front of me and had to stop myself from sputtering. It's not that she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, but something in her wide hazel eyes, or the way she held herself or maybe it was the slight bend in her smile, maybe even the way she played with the ends of her hair. I don't know. But I was suddenly glad that Dave had stopped for her. All I had to do was say hello. And I managed to do so, but not without a shaky breath and tipping my hat to her.
I made sure that my tongue wasn’t falling out of my mouth. Apparently, I was going to be that guy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tell Me How You Really Feel: 25

I know that yesterday I took the easy way out and just posted a picture. I had no intention of doing the same today, except that yesterday, I saw this quote posted, and found myself really thinking about what it said.
You see, lately, I've been ruminating on the people in my life and whether or not the circle of friends I thought were friends actually are friends. I know, I know I've done this before, possibly many times. But as you can probably infer from the quote, I do give people more chances than they deserve. I go back and ask and ask and ask if they want to get together for dinner, if I can help them in any way, or if they want to come over and play. They say yes and then don't get back to me. And I give them another chance. (Ok. I know you're wondering about me. Am I the problem? I could be, for some. But for others, when they see me and exclaim how happy they are to see me, over and over? I have to wonder if they aren't the problem.) So when I finally figure out that uh, no, they don't really want to bother with me (or they do, but they can't find time for me), then I'm done. And by done, I mean done. Just like Ominek says.

If you're reading this, I'm not done with you. Not by a long shot.

Monday, February 8, 2016

If They'd Let Me

I made the mistake of asking her to write a letter to Melina.

"Every Friday," I said, "Melina brings home a letter to us telling us about her week. We sign the letter, which lets the teacher know we saw it. And then we write one back to her. Can you write one?"

I didn't give her the chance to say yes or no, but she nodded her head and picked up her pencil. She'd been trying to make her way through The Count of Monte Cristo. She'd read it before, but had decided to read it again. When she told me that, I wanted to tell her there was little chance she'd make it through that novel at all, but I didn't feel like playing the part of the killjoy messenger.

I watched as she flipped the notebook pages backward and read my letter from the previous weekend. Then she read the letter that Tim had written two weeks ago. She reached for her pencil again. I'm not sure how long she stared at the paper, but without a word, she went to find my Dad.

"Can you do this for me, Tony?"

Of course, Dad didn't know what she was talking about, but he rose from the couch and settled in at the dining table. I explained my request, and within five minutes, the task was done. When he put his pen down, she said, "Make sure you put the date on the paper."

"You go ahead and do it, Mary."

I watched and wondered what would happen. Would she be able to put the correct date on the paper?

"It's going to school with her tomorrow," Dad said. "So go ahead and put tomorrow's date on it."

We'd talked about what the next day was already--Mom's birthday. We'd had cake and a few presents, and with the medicine she's on, I was confident she'd be able to write the correct date. But a side of me also doubted her ability; the waffles had ended up in the refrigerator again and she'd forgotten that she had picked out a candle from Bath and Body Works.

She began to write the date on the top of the paper. "2-8-16" she said as she wrote, and then looked up at us. "That's right, isn't it?"

The look of defeat on her face almost had me in tears. I was glad she'd written the correct date. We could concentrate on what she'd done right instead of what she'd done wrong. "Yep," I said. "But you know, it's only going to get worse."

I didn't mean to end the conversation on a downer. I just wanted to be realistic. She shook her head at my words, and while she didn't voice anything, her body language spoke volumes about what she's going through on a daily basis.

Despite my animosity about how Mom's diagnosis came about. Despite the fact that I think Dad isn't always taking care of her like he should.  Despite what I might think about the whole situation, it's moments like those that make me want to reach out and do what I can for them. And I would, if they'd let me.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Life Hurts

It's been a very long time since I've spoken about my love for John Green. I guess maybe it's because he hasn't published anything lately. I know last year he was busy with the movie version of The Fault in our Stars (a good book-movie translation by the way) but I do wonder if he has anything in the works.

Yesterday morning, when I checked my FB feed and such, Wordables had shared some quotes by John Green. You can see the entire list here, if you want. They have a good number of quotes directly from some of his books. But the quote that resonated most with me in the moment was a quote taken from Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which Green authored along with David Levithan):

Friday, February 5, 2016

Test Time

Her hands shook as she looked at the package. The last time she'd gone through this same ritual had been eight years ago. Young, wild and free, a mother to two small children. She'd gleefully ripped the cardboard sides of the box and plunged the tip into the stream. Now, the thudding of her heart beneath her sternum overwhelmed her and she felt as though the organ might rip through her chest before she had the chance to actually take the test.

He came up behind her and wrapped his long arms around her waist. "You don't know what it's going to say, baby."

"Yes, I do." She stiffened against his back.

"But how can you? Even you said you had no symptoms."

She looked at their reflections in the mirror and watched as her eyebrows rose on their own. A quirk to her lips and a challenge in her eyes. "I can't explain how, I just know." She moved toward the toilet and sank on its seat before placing the test on the bathroom counter.

He knelt down in front of her. "You need to take it though. We need to know." Lifting her hands to his lips, he placed a light kiss on her knuckles.

"I know, babe. Can I have some privacy, please?"

He left the small space and she shrunk as her anxiety increased. She closed the bathroom door and leaned against it, the wood panels supporting her weight. Her breathing rate sped up as she placed the plastic applicator between her fingers. Had anyone hyperventilated while taking a pregnancy test? Should she ask for him to get her a paper bag? Did she really want to know the outcome? If she didn't take the test, would it mean that it might not be true?

She lowered herself to the toilet while trying to keep the tears at bay. Two minutes and it would all be over, she thought. A laugh escaped her mouth as she realized that being over held multiple meanings. The moment would be over. Her life as she knew it would be over. Her marriage might be over, too. A tear plopped onto the rim of the toilet, rolled over the edge, and joined the water below it.

She didn't need a test to tell her what she already knew: that at 40 years of age she was pregnant, with a baby that she'd been trying to avoid having. But she went through the motions, then, just to confirm that she indeed held life within her.

After doing what she needed to do, she placed the applicator on the counter and washed her hands. She counted in her head as the seconds ticked by, but with each second, a new image flashed into her memory. Tiny fingers. Tiny toes. Onesies with snaps. Crocheted booties. Knitted winter hats with flaps. Binkies. The smell of baby shampoo on the top of a peach-fuzz covered head. The feel of soft baby skin up against her full breasts. Her breath hitched when she looked at the plus sign, so clear and apparent, against the white background.

Despite the heart that had never stopped beating against her chest. Despite the beads of sweat that had broken out across her flushed forehead. Despite the feeling that everything as she knew it was going to change, she coudn't help but smile.

(Note: This is loosely inspired by events that are not my life events, the details of which I am not privy to. This was simply an exercise in writing. Oh, and I AM NOT PREGNANT.)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Satisfied

Yesterday was a very full day. By 11:46 a.m. I had:
  1. Edited half of a profile.
  2. Written a (very short) blog post.
  3. Run 3.5 miles.
  4. Shopped for soft foods for the twins, whose teeth have been aching after their orthodontist appointments.
  5. Laundered and dried two loads of clothes and towels.
  6. Cleaned the master bedroom and bathroom, the kids' bath, and vacuumed most of the house.
  7. Called Gina and actually spoke to her.
  8. Baked a pan of M&M cookies.
  9. Eaten lunch.
  10. Found a place for our writing group to meet in the evening (our original place had to be scrapped due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances).
With the sun shining and warmer temps in the air, I felt invincible. I knew by the time the end of the day came, the temperatures had fallen, and the sun went away, I would be tired, possibly even crabby. But I love full days that actually make you feel full. I could use a few more of those types of days.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Something in Common

I woke up this morning with a little need for inspiration, so I Googled some images. It wasn't until I pasted in the third picture that I realized all of them had something in common. Something that probably irritates FRN to the utmost degree...

http://newflowerwallpaper.com/?titile=indian-flowers-images-and-wallpapers
http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/yorkshire_rose/images/15990936/title/butterflies-wallpaper
http://drakensang-free-online-mmorpg.blogspot.com/2013/03/039-easter-eggs-terrifying-shadows-event.html
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/492299802989822451/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/441071357225969969/
I think maybe I'll go put that fleece of mine on, take a selfie, and send it to FRN, right now.Or, it might be too early. Perhaps I'll wait a few hours.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Types

An acquaintance of mind posted this picture the other day:


As usual, it's a set of words that resonated with me. After the past several weeks--full of subbing, teaching, running the kids around, volunteering, and germs (we can't forget those)--I'm tired much of the day. But after a few days of sleep and an hour or two of alone time, I'm recharged. The same would not be said if I didn't have peace in my life.

I've worked hard to be where I am, but I'm also lucky, I know. I wish you and yours that same peace if it's something you're looking for.