Friday, April 15, 2011

Moved

I have finally moved. New site..new start.

I can be found at

Color Me Happy

All old posts have been imported there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011

After much thought, I will be moving this blog soon. My life is opening up into a new chapter and after all that has happened (and a very wise friend's advice) it is time for me to let go of "Crayon Wrangler". After letting that go...who better to be than just myself?!?

For now as I am working with some awesome people getting my new blog up you can reach me at
alyciaestok@gmail.com

and follow me on Twitter
@alyciaestok (sorry for having to follow yet ANOTHER account)

Thanks again to all of you who have loved on me, offered advice and just really exemplified what a friend is.

Alycia

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011

As of today I will not be blogging here for a while. Do not follow me on Twitter or Facebook as those accounts have been hacked. Do not believe anything that you see "me" say unless you hear it from my voice.
My gmail account and my cell phone are the only way to get a hold of me.
I apologize for the confusion and hope to be on my feet soon. Thank you to all who have contacted me with prayers, support and resources. I appreciate you.
Alycia (Crayon Wrangler)
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Up - Go Have An Adventure!

One of my favorite movies to watch with my girls, is "Up." I don't really know why they like it because it seems a little old for them. Yet, they ask for it and I smile inside; grabbing some popcorn. (Is there a movie that you like? Go join the discussion HERE at the Pixorial BlogFrog community)

If you haven't watched this movie, I'm about to slide into some possible spoilers. Oh...and if you haven't seen the movie; let me know. I'll come pull you out from under the rock!

There are two scenes that choke me up every time I see them. The very first time I watched it, the tears fell unbidden. Its scenes that are gut wrenching and somewhat cleansing for an adult.

The first scene is when the Carl Fredrickson and Russel finally reach a destination in the floating house. The fog is thick and the disappointment of believing they are not where they want to be is even thicker. Swirls of the fog cloak shapes and their eyes strain to make out where they have landed. The dark gloominess does nothing to compare the shadow of their emotions.

Out of nowhere come a great gusting wind, causing the pair to cringe and shield their eyes. There is almost a touchable feeling of "Oh God what next?"

But the fog lifts and sunlight pierces through illuminating in front of them a land of dreams. The dreary gray is replaced by the striking color of a lush forest and a waterfall painted with a rainbow.

Their eyes can scarcely take it all in and to see the "I made it to where I want to be" cross their expressions is the sweetest gut wrench. They are still standing on a cliff, miles away from where the heart wants to be, but it's there in front of them. It's obtainable. Tangible.

How many times are we so blinded by our disappointment with where we are that we don't see what is right in front of us just waiting to be revealed? There may be cliffs and miles, but if you keep your eyes on that waterfall and put one foot in front of the other; it's there waiting for you.

The second scene is where Mr. Fredrickson is looking through a book of "Adventures" that he and his wife had lovingly put together. Sharing their joys, memories and dreams in snapshots. The strength in their union was that they shared every page, every dream and worked together for a goal.

He lovingly caresses each page of the past; the bitter sweet memory of a moment lost forever. As he flips to the last page, there is a tender sentiment to him in his wife's handwriting to keep having adventures. A dying love's last wish that life be continued and dreams be fulfilled.

So many years he had spent mourning that he had quit living. He believed that because he couldn't reach out and touch her, that love and the lust for life was gone forever. He realizes in that moment that she was still there. Love was not lost as he began to live again, instead love was stronger than ever. He was still sharing his adventure with her by living.

Are we ever to a place where we feel that our dreams are gone because life didn't go according to the pages we had hoped to fill? Do we shut ourselves up and close our shades in mourning?

Don't wait until the last moment when yellowed pages of memories is all that you have.

Go have an adventure!

The End.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ivory Silence

I'm linking up with The Red Dress Club today, but I am also guest posting at Four Plus An Angel


RemembeRED
This week's assignment was to write a post about a sound or scent that brings you right back to your past.

*Disclaimer - my wonderful writing partner and editor did not get a chance to see this. It was a last minute submission and therefore she should not be stoned for missing my standard errors.


**Below I speak of a song. To hear my favorite interpretation click HERE



Ivory notes of "What Child Is This" hung in the air and every part of me wanted to snatch the harmony back. My fingers poised in perfect position.

Trained. Willing. Stopped.

I look back now and I see that it had been a hard day. I now have children so I understand the pushed feeling. Today I have no recollection of what was said, how it started or how it ended. I only know that moment.

My dad had spoken sharply to me. He wanted me to stop playing the piano.

I had been at this song for almost the full amount of time that was set on the oven timer. Rushing through the notes as I always did for the achingly slow Christmas Carol. For me it wasn't about perfecting the song, it was about giving it my own rhythm. Fur Elise came out like a rock song for me. Putting On The Ritz I spun into lounge music. I even learned how to hang over backwards on the hard piano bench and play upside down; never looking at the keys. Someone else wrote the song, but it was mine to interpret. I loved when I finally heard me in every song.

I am not sure that I was the first to express interest in piano lessons. I remember the looming box always sitting in the corner and one day I began to play. Next thing I remember is sitting beside Ms. Watson getting my knuckles hit over and over while my mom waited in the car at the curb. Ms. Watson and her gnarled fingers couldn't play much anymore herself, but a stern, wise teacher she was. She had a way of coaxing me to let the music play through me. Instead of focusing on Allegretto or Adiago, she instructed me to play the beat of my heart.

She would chastise me for watching the clock at times, impatient to get on with life.

"Bloom where you are planted." she would say.

I have always hated that saying. I don't believe a palm tree can bloom just because it is planted in the arctic. I believe sometimes you have to decide where you are best suited and pull up your own roots. Bloom because you are so happy with where you are that you can't help but unfurl your petals.

That hard wooden bench was certainly not where my energetic body wanted to be planted, but bloom I did. I learned each song, each note was a feeling. I could make it whisper as a lover, welcome you as a friend or cry out in personal torture. I took each troubled emotion that a maturing girl stumbles into and poured it into a song.

With all my passion for the notes I could caress, I couldn't bring myself to put another finger down that moment. I felt my bloom fade a little and my petals begin to pull back in.

I sat in silence and he moved on to do something else. My timer hadn't gone off yet releasing me to perform anything else, so I starred a hole into the sheet music.

I tentatively struck a note and paused. In my next breath, the haunting notes of the song began to come alive. Slow and with purpose. As the song wove into the air, my tears finally began to fall. The melody of disappointment.

Disappointment in self.

Disappointment in a parent.

The song reaches out year after year through the radio or through my own fingers. The slow notes still contain an ache, but I've come to embrace the feeling. I allow the sadness to wash through me and recognize that although disappointment is a part of this life, its not the ending note.

People will fail you.

You will fail others.

I have the choice to continue playing, for me alone. To make every life song my own and bloom.

*Author's notes: In the note I do not want it mistaken that my father and I have a turmoiled relationship. This was merely a take on the prompt. My daddy and I are good! This was a moment that my dad was having a hard time (as adults get from time to time) and I had my heart on my sleeve (as young girls get from time to time)
Also, one of my favorite moments with Ms. Watson was years after I stopped taking lessons from her. I was volunteering at a nursing home and ran into her, a new resident. In the lobby there was a piano and we sat down together. I played a few songs for her and showed her that although she had quit instructing me; I never quit learning. At that time I was deep into teenage rebellion, but beside her at that moment...I bloomed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

We Rock

Thump Thump Thump

My husband gives me the side eye and I just wearily shake my head. There is nothing more I can do.

"Do something!"

Bitsy is rocking again. Not strumming out on an air guitar and flinging her little curls to some Queensryche. She's just rocking.

Into a doorframe.

Against a wall.

Thump Thump Thump

I finally reached out to Twitter last night, since our darling backwoods, black bag toting grandpa farm doctor just said "she'll out grow it" or "find her a good glass of sweet tea and a rocking chair." Even Buzz knows. She's likes to deem her little sister as "special like me." Sometimes (although she was never a rocker) she will sit beside Bitsy and rock with her.

Dear Twitter....you guys are awesome!!!!

I was at wits end (not a real far trip, but every mile is precious to me) and to the point that I just wanted to lean up on the wall with her; rocking and crying. Each thump on the wall echoed a thump of pain in my heart that I can't fix her. I can't seem to ease what is causing it. She has no words at almost 16mos and very few sounds (We are thinking another Speech Delay child) so how long until she can express her frustration? How long until she can tell me what is too much for her to process?

Until then we rock.

Not against the wall though or a door frame. We rock just being who we are. For all our quirks, for everything that makes us different; we rock. For being mother and daughter who don't speak the same language; we can still show our love and we rock. For being a family cast in the chaos of special needs and making it through the day; we rock.

Friday, April 1, 2011

UBP11!!!

My UBP Welcome Vlog and some crazy outtakes :)












More Outtakes if you didn't get enough courtesy of my handy cameraman's mad editing skills....


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Broken Strength

The minutes drug by as I struggled not to give in and cry. Sitting alone on the table I felt so very small, cold and helpless. A grown adult I attempted to belittle myself about my pain.

"You see kids running around with broken arms all the time. Come on...grow up. Quit sniveling! No seriously...STOP. Oh geez...you are going to start again."

A nurse came in the room at that moment, saw my eyes and immediately asked if I had taken the pain medication that had been given me. I didn't want to be bothered, so I said "Yes." The truth was I hadn't taken it since I had to drive myself. She began laying out all the things the doctor would need to set my arm in its final cast. Chirping about her day, attempting a cordial bedside manner and then she lied.


"You know your bone will grow back stronger. You'll be even better than before."

I knew better than that, but for a moment I laughed and said, "tell the doctor to come in and break all of me then."

During the weeks of healing, I felt the weakest I had ever felt. Handicapped. Dependent. I would go to the store and someone would always offer to help me. I would deny them and learn to do it by myself.

Then came the day that the cast came off. The doctor sat and looked at it; a frown taking the place of what I expected to be a smile and a cheery wave as I skipped cast free from that office. More xrays and more time waiting on that table. He finally came in and held my arm at the healed break.

"We are going to have to rebreak this. It didn't heal the way it should have. Did you use it? For appearances you will always have a lump there."

I snatched my arm back as though he had ripped a baby from my arms. Indignant, but mostly scared.


"I will not have my arm broken by someone again."

There was no smile or cheery wave as I left the room without being excused and never looked back.

The truth was I had used my arm. I worked through the pain because I couldn't handle being weak. I couldn't force myself to wait for the healing.

In reflecting I find this to be a theme for my life. I can't handle being weak when I am broken. I don't wait for the healing as I try to rush through the pain. The moments in my life that pushed me to my knees, I would defiantly stand back up on my feet and deny proper healing time. I think about that nurse and her lie.


"You know your bone will grow back stronger. You'll be even better than before."

Although it was a lie about my arm, it wasn't off the mark about my spirit. At the moment of the break; when weakness fills me; I need to allow myself time to heal properly. The pain of healing is sometimes unbearable but when allowed, can actually make you stronger.


There may be people who see the real you when you are weak, no matter the brave face you put on. They offer to help because you can't always do everything alone. I'm learning to let people help and let them see me weak. It can be painful to admit I can't do it, but then again they already knew that or they wouldn't have offered to help. Sometimes they can't actually help, but like the cast; they can surround you and protect you as you heal.

Being broken hurts. Healing is agonizing. Yet, in the end...you will be stronger.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Piercing Life's Grain


It's too early for a diagnosis officially for our Bitsy, but we know. 

We've been here before with Buzz, but this time we aren't afraid or ashamed. 

We've learned that these two precious girls do not flow with the grain of what is "normal;" they dig in and make a mark. Piercing deep and experiencing life, leaving a few splinters that wound the heart of their parents. 

Wounds of wishing others saw their unique view of life. 

Wounds of desiring life to be a little kinder to them.

Sitting last night beside Bitsy's bed while she flapped her hands, rocking back and forth into the wall, I wept. Not out of pity for her, nor the need to change her. I wept because I understood that I will never understand. I will make accommodations for her when the lights are too bright, when noises are too loud, when emotions are jumbled, when a certain texture frightens her and when her words can't be understood. 

Yet, I can't understand with the mind that I was given. I can't process life the way that they do.

All that I can do is mother and thankfully, that's all they need from me.

As they pierce deep into the grain of life, they teach me.

They better me.

They have pierced my heart in a way that I would never want repaired. A nail of difference.

Spring Flowers






Monday, March 28, 2011

Handling Instructions

Remember the movie Gremlins where a set of specific instructions are given that keep the cute and fuzzy Gremlin from going berserk, evil and homicidal?

We all have them. That little list of things that keeps us fluffy and friendly.

After a conversation with a friend this morning (who was not aware of every item on my list and became a victim of my gnarly side) I have decided to take this opportunity to share with you my "Handling Instructions".

  1. Do not engage me for at least 1 hour after I have woken up or until you see my first empty coffee cup. Whatever comes first. - I am a horrible morning person and I make little apology for it. One thing that will make my fangs show faster than anything is to expect me to perform in any way upon first opening my eyes. There are some things I will do, but its on my own terms and should not ever be expected. Suffice it to say that I could never be a Fireman or little Suzy's kitty cat would probably be shot out of the tree instead of safely delivered into her arms with a smile and a pat on her little grateful head.
  2. I live by the rule of balance - Regardless of what is said, I do not believe that any one person can be 100% kind, patient, creative, etc. all of the time. It's not good for you. Sometimes the fur has to fly and you must raise the pirate flag as you rip out an evil cackle through your adventure. There are days that I have had to be extremely patient with my children, caring with a client, etc. and I must balance this out by a little snark here and there or by throwing a water balloon at my kids, loosening the salt shaker lid at the dinner table or prank answering a telemarketer by allowing them to believe that I'm an opera singer in practice or I am hiding in the closet from evil pirates...AURGH.
  3. Save your compliments for your Grandma's biscuits - I don't do compliments. It's not that I don't think I deserve them...I do (see...I am humble too) When I have done something for someone, I would rather you pass it on then go on & on about what I did, how it affected you, how it could affect the jet stream in Africa and knock a bee off course...I don't care after I have done it. I just did it for you. Let's move on..the last time I needed my butt powdered was 34 years ago. If you like my hair...thank Clariol (it's their work, not mine) If you like my clothes...thank (insert label here) I didn't stitch them, I just display them. If you like the way my kids behave...thank God, because I can't seem to do it right.
  4. Don't surprise me. Ever. - I have a tremendous range of emotion, but for some reason the "Surprise" emotion got looked over upon installation. My children haven't seemed to gotten this concept yet. Everyday I get a new surprise. "Look Mom...the baby CAN fit in the toilet" "Look Mom...I can do makeup on me and my sisters with a Sharpie" "Look Mom...no don't look at all the flour and broken eggs on the floor...I made you breakfast (which clearly violates rule #1 anyways)
Those are some basic handling instructions to keep me cute and fluffy.



What are some of yours?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Son, Moon and Star


This week's prompt is simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot. Word limit is 600.



“Stop, you little thief”


Moon’s fingers gripped the scrap of cloth holding her prize as her bare feet pounded the uneven cobblestone. Her tattered skirt fluttered like a sail behind her as she navigated the familiar path leading to her escape. Angry shouts faded behind her as the distance grew between her and the baker.



Pushing her way through women’s thick skirts and men’s trousers, she barely noticed the way they cringed from her path as if her poverty and despair were a plague. No one chastised her for her crime, only a handful of people even knew her name.


Two years ago, as they huddled together behind the bakery, Star, with all the wisdom of a six year old, suggested Moon pick her own name. Contemplating her choices, Moon knew she wanted something that would always be close to Star. 


Star had been the one who had carried her as a toddler away from the fallen woman in the alley, the woman who was known as Mother. Two years was a lifetime to Moon. It was longer than the unwanted girl ever had with a “family.”


Moon twisted her body between the tin walls of her riverside fortress.She clutched her bounty close to her so it would be unblemished when she presented it to Star. Cautiously, Moon picked her way to Star’s bedside. 


Her breath caught for a moment until she saw her sister’s chest rise and fall with another shallow breath. 


She placed her small hand on her feverish forehead and waited. Eyelashes fluttered open, revealing Star’s pained eyes. Without a word, Moon slowly unwrapped the richly frosted donut and broke off a small piece, placing it on Star’s swollen tongue. 


A smile, so slight it could have been imagined, crossed her face as  peace took the place of anguish.


She carefully tucked away the luxurious delicacy. The lingering smell  reminded her of the other times they had shared a stolen pastry. They had dreamed of being royalty and how anxious they were to return to the loving arms of their parents. In those brief moments, Star and Moon were no longer street tramps but princesses, adorned in fine dresses and dining to their hearts’ content.


Rustling jerked Moon back into the present and she spied the hungry eyes of a child peering through the sheets of tin. Drawn by the sweet scent, the child cautiously approached her. So not to frighten the child, Moon reached out to the fragile little boy and offered him the wrapped donut.
 

“You got a mommy?”


His sad eyes told her a familiar story of pain. She settled down beside him as he devoured his treasure, savoring the sugary icing. Using her torn skirt, Moon tenderly wiped the crumbs from his sunken cheeks.


You got a name?”


The boy would need a name. Moon suggested he choose his own.

Just For Her...

  

She hugs my legs for just a moment and then runs out of my sight. She hasn't gone far because I can hear the patter of her bare feet accompanying her hysterical giggle. No more than ten seconds will pass and she will be back. I know this game so I sit cross legged on the floor and wait for her. Her chubby legs toddle her back to my waiting arms and she smiles in satisfaction that she was right...I was there waiting for her. We do this dozens of times in a row and no matter where she goes, I wait until she comes back. 

Hugs, giggles, kisses and smiles; waiting just for her.

It's a game, but it's not. 

She's testing to see if I will always be there when she comes back. She's learning that she can exist without me.

Every time she goes off on an adventure, her feet take her a little farther than before. The dining room, the living room and an attempt to tackle the stairs; each place is more distant than the last and she looks back a little less than before.

Kindergarten, High School, First Car, First Date, College, Marriage and an attempt to tackle this life. Each place will be more distant than the last and she will look back a little less each time.

She will learn that she can exist without me, but she'll always know that I will be here waiting for her when she returns.

Hugs, giggles, kisses and smiles; waiting just for her.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Phantom Cry

I thought it was just me, but I found out it was you too.

Yesterday I took a chance and mentioned "The Phantom Cry" and you said you heard it too. Sometimes it disguises itself as a cough or just a funny sound that must be investigated, but it is a real phenomenon that is causing sleep disruptions for parents everywhere.

Night time is not the only time the cry will present itself, although hands down the most frequent. Sometimes you hear it during the day. Working in your kitchen, running a vacuum or inside a store, you hear it. Calling you, pleading with you and causing you to get up to run to your child's aide. Sleep finally claiming you, body relaxed and then you hear the beckon of a little one. For a moment you question its validity.

Was that my child or the house settling?

Was that a cough or did a bed spring sigh?

I don't think that's what that was, but it could have been.

Perhaps I will just get back to what I was doing.

I better go check.

Just in case.

The child is probably asleep and I'll just disturb their sleep.

I still better go check.

I won't be able to go back to sleep if I don't.

You check and see a sound asleep child. Smiling, acknowledging "The Phantom Cry"; you turn to leave the room. Proud of yourself for checking, but knowing you were just a victim to "The Phantom Cry"; you shake your head and promptly trip over a toy left in the center of the floor. Favoring the toe, you hop and lose your balance falling into the toy chest.

"WAAAAAAHHHHH.......MOOOOMMMMMMMAAAAA"

The Phantom Cry is now real. Good job, momma. Yet, for all the times it wasn't real...where you questioned your sanity and your hearing...you aren't alone. All of us parents are casualties of "The Phantom Cry".

I also found out that you casually rock back and forth in a grocery line cradling a jug of milk or loaf of bread and your house is also missing most table spoons and socks disappear with no explanation.

Have you experienced "The Phantom Cry"? What other phenomenons do you think are universal of parents?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Magic With Kids

During the weekend I sent out a tweet that I was hiding and spray painting rocks with glitter. After a little explaining, I still was receiving emails and direct messages about "what on earth was I doing??" So I wanted to take some time today to share how I create magical memories for my kids. You can also go HERE to join in on a discussion. (That is the Pixorial community where I am a community leader. Lots of great discussions about memories, preserving memories, video, pictures, etc. going on there)

Wishing On A Star:

What you will need:
  • Rocks (your choice of size. Just make sure that they aren't big enough to go through a window or bonk a baby's head)
  • Silver or Gold glitter spray paint
  • A decorated "wish" box that will house your "stars" (Let your kids decorate with paint, glitter, gems, etc.)
  • A special toy that you know your child has "wished" for.
  • A few hours by yourself (Good luck with that!!!)


How to:

After you have collected your rocks, give them a good coating of your glittery spray paint. Make sure you have plenty of time for them to dry because once they are dry you are going to throw them all over the backyard. (Count your rocks and make sure the kids collect them all. Otherwise if you break your lawnmower blade with a glitter rock, it's not my fault)

Get your box and craft supplies and take the afternoon with your children making a "Wish Box". Tell them that this is where they will put their collected stars that hold their wish. They will set this box of stars on the front porch at night and in the morning will get to see if their wishes came true.

Once it is dark and you and the kiddos are doing your normal routine. Casually approach a window and exclaim with great delight that you saw a falling star! (It is imperative that your children know all about the whole "make a wish on a falling star" thing or else this is not going to work at all)

Go outside (and I hope to heavens you remember where you placed your "stars") and let your kiddos collect their stars.

Once back inside, prompt each child to make their wish on their star and place it in the box outside. Suggest that toy they have been wanting and usually (not always...there is always that one kid that wants a flying unicorn that smells like rainbows) they will go along with the toy wish.

After they have gone to sleep, place their toys along with the empty wish box outside. (Do not sprinkle glitter around to add to the magic on your porch...this is a pain to get off)

The final step is just to wake them up in the morning and do a big "TA-DAH!!!!"

That is all it takes to create a magical memory. A little time, some creativity and glitter! Have fun making your wishes!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Detoured

Red Writing Hood - Detour
This week's prompt asked you to write a piece - fiction or non-fiction - in which you or your character take a detour.


There would be screaming, panic, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Total pandemonium. Only I held the power to calm the masses.


“Where is that stupid flashlight?”


Wide eyes; three pair of them; followed my every move. Tension hung in the air much thicker than the electricity coming from the approaching storm.


“Ahh...here is it!”


I held the sacred light above my head and clicked the button to show my children that Mommy was every bit of “The Light Goddess That Chases Away Storm Fear” that they had built me up to be.

Nothing. Not even a promising flicker of a bad connection.


“Probably needs batteries. Oh well, come on Lady Troop. Let’s go get the batteries out of my closet”


“Momma, can I have some juice first?”


I laid the flashlight down and grabbed the waving sippy cup from the dancing three year old. Filled with juice and released back the clogging and pirouetting Princess, two more sets of empty cups were shoved towards me before I could even blink. Reaching back into the fridge, I realized the carton was empty. I rushed to the pantry to grab another juice, before chaos could set in. Immediately I was anointed the “Goddess of the Liquid Orchard” by “The Sippy Cup Mafia” as I filled up the rest of the cups.


Heading to the closet I snapped a misplaced Lego in half between my toes and became known as “The One That Uses Daddy Words”. I began to pick up the Mattel and Tyco landmines and realized that one was stuck firmly to the wood floor by “I-probably-don’t-want-to-know” stuff. I ran back to the pantry and grabbed the mop. This delighted “Those Who Like To Ice Skate In Socked Feet.”


“Momma, the baby’s butt stanks.”


Childish giggling followed me in another trip to the pantry, this time for diapers. When I returned I found a hunkered baby with a mischievous “guess what I did” smile waiting for me.


“Whoa girl!!! That is some serious stank”


More giggling could be heard behind me as I deftly changed the baby’s diaper in my usual 4.3 seconds flat, a skill I have developed from changing diapers for the past five years. From a seated position a good nine foot away, I banked the diaper off the lid and with a winning 3 pointer in the can. Just another talent I’ve achieved in the past five years. Applause and cheers flooded my ears as the children celebrated another victory.
 

“Alright my little minions...to the closet. CHARGE!!”


Like a mother duck followed by her waddling ducklings, my sippy cup sucking troop made their way with me to my room.  “The Closet” was a magical place that transformed them into little mothers or “Ladies Of The Tu-Tu And Tea Society”, but strictly forbidden by “She Who Has Cool Purses And Shoes”. The siren call of fancy sandals and sequined clutches forced them to venture into “The Closet” at least 4 times a day; the penalty of entry worth the cost of accessorising in the name of fashion.


I reached out to flick the switch.  


The bulb blew, plunging us into darkness.


“Dangit...we are going to need a flashlight!”


I sprinted to the kitchen. Hurdling and skipping over the mess that never got cleaned up, I slipped on the wet floor and executed a perfect swan move reserved for only the most professional “Socked Feet Skaters”. I chastised myself for somehow getting detoured and creating such a hazardous condition for myself. I snatched the flashlight from the counter and clicked the switch.  


Nothing.


“Where are those stupid batteries?”

**Many thanks this week to my fab writing partners who helped me maneuver through this piece. Thanks for all you did!!!

Sprung

Spring has finally sprung


 New life coming back from sleep.


Reaching back to the sun who kissed it awake


Delighting in warm light and embracing growth


Small treasures that caress the soul


Sun touched smiles and growing laughter


This is my happy ever after (OK so they won't let go of their snow boots)
On a side note...this is where we are in construction. We have spent the morning climbing massive dirt piles.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PUSH



Today I am linking up with Shell to "Pour My Heart Out". It's her 1 year anniversary today and you've got to check out all the links and the *ahem* prizes!

Today there was more concrete poured at my house and I wanted to write a word in it before it dried. Something that would speak to me...


Push.
When in labor, this was the word I heard most often. 

Push through the pain.
Push with a purpose.

Push with focus.

Push to bring forth life.

Take a deep breath and push again.

I could think of no better word to inspire me. There are times I need to be reminded to "Push" through each day. Days that I am weary and seemingly have no purpose; what would change if I "pushed"? Taking each day as a birth. The pains will be there, but that is what is required to bring new creation.

So if I leave you one word, it's "PUSH". Then when you get tired; take a deep breath and keep on "PUSHING". Focus on your purpose and nothing else. "PUSH"

There is the off-chance that someone will see it as a literal challenge to "Push" that area on the concrete. I will die laughing and that's good too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Place

A small spot, a seemingly insignificant space.
It was made just for me; my happy place.
I See The Moon And The Moon Sees Me,
“Father help me be the best mother I can be.”
The worries of the day, the fears of my mind,
are swept far away and peace I find.
Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Baker’s Man.
Lord, help me guide them the best that I can.
A tender touch and the softest sigh,
Sleepy yawns and a lullaby.
Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Have You Any Wool?
Thank you God for my babies, my heart is full.
Small baby curls and softer skin,
Dimpled cheeks, a gentle grin.
Five Little Ducks Went Out To Play,
“Father, Bless these children” silently I pray.
The creak of the rocker in perfect time,
With giggles from a recited nursery rhyme.
Minutes creep by and mourned as they pass,
Until sleep claims their eyes at last.
Yet, still I rock, watching a dreaming face.
Holding my children is my happy place.

This post was prompted by a conversation I had with some friends about our "Happy Place". You can read @fourplusanangel emotional response HERE.

Bitter Memories

RemembeRED
This week, we'd like for you to write about your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable.

Share a memory of when you first tasted it, where it came from, when you last had it, a favorite way to prepare it, and such.







On the second bite I was able to declare with no reservations that this peach was the worst I had ever tasted. I spit the fuzzy skin that tickled my tongue a little too much onto the ground. Surfacing as though they heard a siren song too faint for my ears, ants eagerly discovered and celebrated my waste. A trail of bitten peach casualties behind me on the grass. The summer hadn’t been particularly hot and there had been no Biblical plague of insects on the orchard, but the peaches had gone bad.


Since my grandfather’s diagnosis, everything on his land mirrored his own life fading. Friendly animals that clucked and mooed welcomes were long gone. The grass that softened the landing steps of my running feet seemed sharper and more painful. Weeds choked the garden and blistered under a sun that felt as if it glared down in disapproval. Fruit trees bore their usual offering but with a grudge that said their heart wasn’t in their work. The peaches, along with life; had lost the sweetness.


Many harvesting seasons were behind me and I felt as though peach juice intertwined in my blood somehow. I surveyed the withering orchard and my heart sunk. Most everything had flourished under my grandfather’s watch. I had sampled everything that he had lovingly coaxed from the ground, bushes and trees; it was always perfect. Reaching out I rubbed a leaf from the peach tree between my fingers. Untrained and slightly ignorant of being a horticulturist, my only conclusion was that the trees were in mourning and missed their Master’s touch.


Perhaps one day someone would live on this farm and once again bring sweetness and beauty back. There might even be a little girl who would sit among bushels of peaches beside her grandfather on a covered porch cooled by a forgiving breeze. She would delight in the velvety texture of a peach’s flesh and would be able to work out her preteen angst under the silent companionship. For a moment under a peach tree she would be able to shed her insecurities and twirl with an imagined partner; declaring life as sweet as the peaches. Sticky, sweet peach syrup would adorn her lips as she kissed her grandparents good night and was given the freedom of being a child a little while longer.


Until then, I will mourn with the trees and leave a trail of bitter tasting memories behind me.

I'm just too old for this...

In my years here on Earth I have considered myself a student. Lately I have begun learning that there are some things that you are are just too old to do. I can't tell you the magic age number of this transition, but you will know it when you get there. Always wanting to help my fellow man, I have compiled a list for you.

  1. Eating sugar laced items for breakfast - There was a time in my youth that I could throw down a buffet of Chocolate Covered Sugar Puffs With Candy Coated Marshmallows, Sticky Buns and Chocolate Milk. Those days are behind me. Instead of the eagerly anticipated massive sugar rush that kept me going well into my P.E. class of school now I get a headache combined with the undeniable urge to puke. I was the kid who always licked the frosting bowl clean, so when recently presented with a ton of icing left over from making The Scribblers some morning cinnamon rolls; I did what any self respecting bowl licker would do. I indulged. As I am fighting the rollercoaster of Blech-ville, I have learned I'm just too old for this...
  2. Walking barefoot on the driveway. When I was a child I could swiftly transitioned from grass to asphalt, mud to concrete, sand to gravel as if it was nothing. My feet carried me with little regard to what material was under them. These days if my arches come close to gravel or heat, I do the crouch and prancing pony walk. My body believes that by crouching slightly at the waist and pony prancing that perhaps my feet will make less contact with the offending surface. This does NOT work and I have learned I'm just too old for this...
  3. Being outside in extreme temperatures. I would run like a gazelle in 100+ degrees and roll in the snow like a deprived Polar Bear when I was a kid. Hours upon hours in extreme weather never phased me. What I lacked in common sense, I made up for in enthusiasm to just be outside. Now days when the temps hit 90 I find myself pulling a Wicked Witch Of The West scene...."I'm melting" (insert nasally witchy awesome voice) and when the temps dip below 40, I channel my inner elderly person and bundle like an Eskimo and make plans for a community lifestyle in Florida (I even found an awesome gold metallic tracksuit to wear) I have learned I'm just too old for this...
  4. Staying up late to eat snacks and watch a movie. After spending the past 5 years with some form of newborn/teething/bedtime potty training routine, I just don't have it in my to stay up late anymore. With the ever growing "mom spread", I don't do the snacky thing so much either. (Unless it contains copious amounts of fiber. Ice cream sundae = bad. Bran muffin = good) Every now and then, I try to have a surprise movie night with The Scribblers and break all the mom rules. Before the first opening sequence of the movie, I begin doing the math in my head of how much sleep I can hope to get. My brain whirs through the numbers like Scrooge counting his precious coins. I mourn every minute into the movie of precious snoozes that I will never get back. Sleep has become a hot commodity for me. While trying to choke down some chocolate syrup and sprinkles as the movie drags by, I have learned I'm just too old for this...
Is there anything that you have learned you are just too old for now? Tell me about it!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Twisted Wire - TRDC Prompt


This week's assignment is to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.

Word limit is 600.

Tears fell on the back of Sarah’s mud encrusted hands. Fingernails brittle from malnutrition peeled away every time her fingers struck a solid object. Bloodied, bony knees ached from the simple task of supporting her frame in the sinking mud. Smells of bile and the distinct metallic bite of blood hung heavily in the air. It was a smell Sarah was quite familiar with, yet it shocked and sickened her every time. Cramped hands and blinding tears couldn’t stop her search. It had to be here. Somewhere lost in this thick sludge was the only reminder she had left of those she had loved and violently lost.

Sarah could still see her mother lying on the dirt floor covered in human waste. Even though her skeletal hands should not be capable of any fluid movement; they twisted the small piece of coveted wire.  Every manipulation of the wire brought forth stories of every cherished memory that her mother could recall. . Her mother had brought the warm, soothing bowls of Saturday soup back to Sarah’s memory as surely as she had a steaming bowl before her. Her mother’s tales brought back the soft comfort of the family quilt that Sarah’s grandmother tucked around her while reading classic novels by the candlelight to young, eager ears. Recollections of her father with his strong hands that caressed her face with an ironic tenderness that betrayed the hard earned callouses, left a memory trail of heat to her chilled, sunken cheeks.

Another nail ripped away as Sarah’s fingers discovered something metallic pushed deep in the mire. Her heart caught for a moment and then begun to flutter like a trapped, caged bird as she lifted her fingers to her face to reveal the small piece of twisted metal. As her mother fell to the sound of stuttering guns and piercing screams she had clung to the piece as if it were a talisman that could transport her from this place. Sarah clutched it to her breast and felt the faint, delicate touch of her mother’s hand slide across the wind to wipe away her tears. Stories woven into the wire by her mother’s words tumbled with a ferocity in her heart that propelled Sarah back to her cracked feet.

The sharp, barbed wires and smell of death faded away as Sarah stumbled away from her recollections, just as she had stumbled into freedom away from the camp. Looking into her granddaughter’s eyes she knew the role she had played in the story was complete. Sarah pulled the twisted piece of wire from the pocket of her cardigan offering it to her granddaughter in her outstretched hand;  the faded numbers of a tattoo peeked from under her sleeve. Still in silent reverence from the memories that had been spilled, her granddaughter plucked the wire from the gently withered hand and turned it over several times examining the sharp ends and rusted surface. Although crude in shape and harsh in material there was no mistaking the shape of a heart or the transporting beauty of a mother’s love for her child..

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Your Sadness Swamp



The scene above is from the popular movie "The Neverending Story" and to this day can wring tears from me like nothing else. I watched this movie last night with my kids and found myself bombarded with questions as to why the horse wouldn't fight the sadness. Every now and then the girls ask me a question that I can't answer because the reality of it sucks. Luckily this movie does have a happy ending for the horse, but in real life when we are in the Swamp of Sadness or know someone else who is; there is not always that happy ending.

When the horse first begins to sink, Atreyu (the boy) slightly jokes around that it is hard to fight the sadness.

How often when we are in that swamp do our friends and family, joke around that we can beat this? Think of happy things? Just pull yourself out of it. It's not that easy though is it? Often we are already up to our chest in the muck and it just seems easier to sink.

As the Atreyu realizes that light words aren't going to work, he begins to scream in anger at the horse. He tells him that he "HAS TO FIGHT THE SADNESS."

The horse makes no move to fight. He is consumed in the sadness and no amount of tough love is going to help him see that he needs to fight and get out. When it gets to that point, those around us get angry. They seem to think that their love should be enough for us to fight; to want to live. Like the horse though, sometimes it's too much and it's just easier to give up.

At the ending of the scene we see Atreyu alone in the swamp with nothing. He is broken. He couldn't force his best friend to fight. He is grieving that his love wasn't enough to battle the sadness.

There is not a happy ending at this scene and sometimes there isn't a happy ending in real life.

If you only take one thing away from this scene and my words, I urge you to fight. For yourself or for someone you love that is in their swamp. Yank on the reigns with all of your heart and scream your love to them. Fight against the sadness because you are stronger. You are stronger than the mud that is weighing you down and it doesn't have to be the end.

A Chalk Line

Today I am delivering a rant over at Away We Go...Be sure to check me out there as well. Click the button below AFTER you have read my current post.


There is a chalk line in my driveway. A perfect outline silhouette in dust. This is far less exciting that you would think and nothing criminal has happened. It's all part of the construction stuff, but it has caused much jabbering in my house. A chalk line is perfectly magical to a 5 year old and a 3 year old. 

Who put it there?
Why did they put it there?
Why did they pick that color?
Can I write my name too?

The constant chalk line talk was abruptly put to an end by the appearance of the Port-a-Potty.

A couple of days ago there was a knock on the door. I peered out at an unmarked van and friendly Hispanic face. In broken English he told me he had my toilet. I'm thinking the one that is going in the new bathroom that has yet to be built. He wants to know where to put it. I tell him I can open the garage door and we can put it in there close to where it will be used. He is very confused and says something about it can't go there. Not wanting to adorn my yard with a porcelain throne, I insist that we should just put it in the garage. He looks at me in utter disgust at my suggestion and wants to know how he will clean it from in there. I am thrilled to learn that not only do I have a new toilet but it comes with a person who is going to clean it.  I finally call the head contractor and tell him that someone just showed up with a toilet. He replied, "Oh...the portable toilet for the crew?"

D'uh.

So now I have a fancy, schmancy Port-a-Potty in the front yard and I am already imagining who I am going to tip this sucker on. I'll be watching Mr. Loud Hammer who wakes the baby from nap time. First chance he goes to settle down his bum.....He's mine. *evil laugh*

The girls are fascinated with the outdoor potty room. My mother-in-law is less than thrilled that we taught them to say that is "Nana's new house" They want to know all about it. 

How does the door work?
Where does the stuff go?
Is it like the magic elevator in Willy Wonka? (Well I don't know about up or down but when Mr. Loud Hammer goes in there it is certainly going sideways)

The joys of construction. The joys of construction with kids.

Have you recently done a construction project with kids? What was their favorite part?



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Woman's Day

Today is International Woman's Day.

Dear woman at the grocery store,

I saw you clearly although in your hurried state you never saw me. I saw you correcting your children, juggling your coupons and tallying up the bottom line in your checkbook. You showed me that you cared about discipline, value and responsibility. I saw you.

Dear woman behind the counter at the doctor's office,

I saw you clearly although in your frazzled state you never saw me. I saw your desk adorned with pictures of people you love, the calendar with the beach scene and the never ending pile of paperwork. You showed me that although you would be happier being somewhere else, you focused on the work in front of you with diligence doing what had to be done. I saw you.

Dear woman holding her mother's hand at the pharamcy,

I saw you clearly although in your comforting of your mother you never saw me. I saw you gently, patiently mother the one who had mothered you. You showed me that your willingness to sacrifice and provide clarity through confusion gave you both a strength to get through the day. I saw you.

Dear woman campaigning with a cause,

I saw you clearly although in your intent focus on your speech you never saw me. I saw you boldly stand up for what you believe and pass your passion and knowledge onto others. You showed me that when you fight for something, you can cause a wave of change. I saw you.

Dear woman shopping for a wedding dress,

I saw you clearly although in your whirlwind of romance and dreams you never saw me. I saw you swirl in your new dress with a smile of what was yet to come. You showed me that love is still present when you are willing to step out and embrace it. I saw you.

Dear woman with the pregnancy belly,

I saw you clearly as you excitedly shared the name of your unborn daughter, then you saw me and shared your birth date. We chatted for a moment of your hopes and dreams for your little girl in the years to come. You showed me that regardless of our surroundings, our place in life or the troubles these times bring us, our faith and hopes lie in our daughters.

Dear Women Readers
I wish you a happy International Woman's Day because I saw you.

The Red Chair


Remembered Prompt: Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself.
Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you're from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.


A red chair that sits in the middle of a landscape deep in hibernation. Harsh, drab and brittle, with blades as jagged as knives the grass surrounding me threatens the bottom of tender feet. The trees offer no shelter from their desolate branches. Its prismatic face covered, the sky is a glacial blanket of gray. The wind cuts with no promise of relief. The very air around me feels as though its been inhaled sharply with no sound within its vast vaccuum.  


I am affected by none of this because it is not what I choose to see. 


From the chair I see a supple field rich in tones of green dotted with the regal presence of brilliant sunflowers and graceful daisies. The  trees are dripping with rich foliage. Their branches eagerly offer a welcome home to the birds whose singing fills the indigo sky with my favorite song. The wind caresses me gently and whispers across my skin a promise filled with laughter and warmth.


The chair is my heart. It saturates the bleak horizon with its brilliant color. It pierces the ground with purpose even though it’s very existence defies the harsh nature around it. Its presence overflows with bubbling laughter over the irony of where it has been placed. The strong frame that holds it steadfast in the strongest winds frame the soft, easily damaged cushions. These cushions have supported heavy weight at times and although some of the natural spring has wilted; they have endured.


In the middle of the bleak landscape the chair has stood open for others to sit for a moment. It has offered its comfort in the hopes that others would see the fertile field for a moment and hear a song brought to them on the wings of the wind. It has asked for others to listen for the laughter that was buried under the cover of repose. Its cushions have absorbed spilled tears and mummers of trusted confidence. The red fabric has been torn by carelessness and ripped with impetuous purpose. It will continue to stand open because that’s the very nature of its intent.


A red chair that sits in the middle of a landscape deep in hibernation; this is who I am.

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