Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog Topic Wrangling

So last week I gave you a bare bones lesson in blogging basics. I covered important topics like it takes 20,000 bloggers to change a light bulb, word verification on comments kills puppies and a bunny with a pancake on its head. Today we are going to be a little bit more serious and discuss a common problem with blogging.

Topics: Who, What, When, Where, Why.

There are so many "who"s in a blog conversation it sounds like a forest of Hoot Owls. "Who Who Who"

1st Who is YOU. You are the writer. Period. Be yourself and yourself only. If you try to blog in someone else's voice you are going to crash, be found out and suck. If you want to write about the danger of platform shoes, but you feel that everyone else is writing about the Academy's and you want to least write about someone's platform shoes that made them have cankles at the Academy's. If you don't write about your passion, then your writing will have NO passion.

2nd Who is your subject: This is where many newer bloggers make a mistake. Your boss ticks you off because he switched the office to single ply toilet paper. You find your on-line voice to be a perfect one for ranting about it. Your boss finds your blog. You will now be wiping with your hands. Be careful anytime you talk about someone. If you won't say it to their face, don't put it on your blog. It's that simple.

3rd Who is a guest star: So you simply can't think of anything to write or you are going out of town and you need material. Find you a guest star for the time. Loads of bloggers love to guest star, so reach out and grab you one. Just make sure that your guest star and you have similar values. If you have a "G" blog make sure your guest poster is aware that dropping the "F" bomb is not going to work and that they will have to stay up and hit the thesaurus to find other descriptive words. If they are single with no children, don't write about marital spats about disciplining children who stop up toilets.

As I said earlier..."If you don't write about your passion, then your writing will have NO passion." I can't tell you how many times I tried to write about something that was trending that was really important (like politics, etc.) when I really wanted to talk about nasal pea removal. My post would fall flat and had no pizazz. Let me chat about 30 unique pea removal methods from an ear or nasal cavity...I could have knocked your socks off. Always write about what is ON your heart. Don't just try to put your heart into what you are writing.

When do you blog on a topic? Whenever you can and as often as you can. If you can't get to a computer when you have a great idea, write it down. Right then. Don't hesitate, because you will NOT remember it later. If you get your ideas from the bathtub, keep those bathtub crayons for kids and jot it down on your bath wall. (Word to the wise: clean those words off your tub within 4 hours. I didn't know to do that and had this permanently on my bath wall for almost 3 months times when I was showing the house to potential buyers.

On a blog. Duh.

Because it is your voice, your passion and you want to. That's really the only reason you need. If you need help finding a topic there are a ton of resources geared towards blog topics. Often though your topic is right under your nose. The best blog posts are your stories. Even a trip to the grocery store with your kids can make a rockin' blog post if you look for the adventure and life lessons in your activities.You always write better when it is something you have experienced and can put your true voice into.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Possessed Chair Ad - TRDC

Red Writing Hood - For Sale
This week's assignment was to write a humorous ad, a la Craigslist or eBay, where you're selling things after a breakup.

You will need to click on the picture below to enlarge it so you can even read it because I do not possess mad techie graphic skills...

Disclaimer: Although I was super excited at the prospect of this prompt, I am not happy with how it turned out. I got really caught up in the design (which I am not skilled at) that by the time I needed to write...I feel like I blew it. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night - Writer's Prompt

Today I am participating in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. I had the most perfect post ever planned, but I need my muse to help write it and she is still in bed. Seems that she went to bed kind of late last night and found that someone had crushed Fruit Loops all over her sheets. After 30 minutes of brushing them off only to be moving them around, she crashed on the crushed bits. Several hours later we had a huge thunderstorm that scared all three girls into my bed. In all the fidgeting frightened sleep thrashing, somebody peed in my bed. Mixed with Fruit Loops. So if anyone ever asks....yes, someone can pee in your cereal and ruin your day.

The prompt I chose was: 2.) What did they get into now? Describe a time your toddler got into something they shouldn’t have.

It was a dark and stormy night. OK, so it wasn't but I am still a little traumatized from the pee-soaked Fruit Loops bits. It was probably a average night of average darkness and average temperatures. That's how we roll around here....totally average. I on the average night came a not so average sound over the baby monitor. It wasn't the usual sigh or cough that we are so used to battling whether we actually creep from the warmth of our beds to investigate or dismiss as a usual sound only to get up 5 minutes later because what "if" we were wrong. It was most certainly a "better go check that out" sound.

I opened the door to my oldest daughter's room. She had recently graduated to a toddler bed...Ok, well that's a lie. I had just delivered her sister so she had been evicted from her beloved crib just so that it could sit empty in the nursery while I ended up co-sleeping with the baby. But it was there just in case I needed to deposit a newborn in it. Anyways...the door opening...

I had no need to turn the light on because the stench of poop enlightened me to what had occurred. Since I still can't change a diaper in the dark, I reached for the light switch and my fingers hit something warm, soft and my imagination kicked in filling in the rest. I took another step into the room and something squished between my toes. Then I felt little hands grab my bare legs. The little fingers were warm and squishy too. I began the crazed scream of a banshee for my husband and realized that nobody was coming to my rescue. No white knight on a noble steed. No bald guy dressed all in white with a magic eraser. My husband was out of town on business, so this damsel was on her own.

Most moms will tell you that they have grown accustomed to the smell. It doesn't bother them. They have iron-clad stomachs and dulled olfactory cavities. I am not that mom. My stomach began churning, my eyes watered and I got that tell-tale taste in my mouth. As I finally got the light on, I wanted to turn around and turn it off. Run from the house screaming in the night. Call 911. Anything but have to clean this up. It was everywhere. She must have copped a squat at least 14 times to produce that much poo. On walls, toys, carpet, bed, bedding, up noses and in the hair. I had a friend in the business of residential cleaning for crime scenes. I knew she was asleep. I called her anyways. I believe she cussed me out, but not before instructing me to remove all evidence and bag it.

Seemed smart to me, so I grabbed a trash bags and picked up all toys and bedding that had fecal splatter and tossed it. We'd go tomorrow and buy new. I picked up my precious poo princess and tried to hold her as far from me as possible on the run to the shower with the removable nozzle.

She touched me.
With poo fingers. 
On the mouth.

The dam was breached and I puked all over me, her and the crap crusted carpet. We spent that average night with average darkness and average temperatures curled in the corner of the bathtub. We hosed down like criminals and huddled together as survivors. On morning light, I closed the door to her room and wished I had some of that "Caution" tape to warn my husband. He was due on that white steed any minute and he had some chores to do. We had PTSD to work through.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Remember When We...

Yesterday on Facebook (by the way if we aren't friends you can find me here) I asked my friends to tell how we met. The kicker was that they had to lie. Yup, just make something up. Turns out I am pretty adventurous if you didn't know it! I thought it would be fun to include some of them here for you to read so you could see all the great ways I have made friends. For some reason copy & pasting from FB provided all sorts of little "query" boxes and stuff. Sorry about that! Feel free to join in on FB or leave a comment about how we "really" me...

  • Totally rockin Black Sabbath concert!! You were head banging and slammed into my head. We both woke up in the parking lot with matching tattoos. You were wearing my shoes and I smelled like White Diamond, but other than that, it was a pretty normal first encounter.
    20 hours ago ·
  • Crayon Wrangler
    I totally remember that. That was a rockin' concert and I look back on my tattoo of the Geico lizard driving an 18 wheeler across my forehead with much fondness of how we met.
    I'm glad that you finally got out of prison for mauling t...hat sweet little old lady for her platform shoes that you just had to have. If you hadn't had used her "White Diamond" perfume from the purse you lifted from her, the blood hounds would have never found us in that boxcar eating all the Girl Scout cookies that we could. To this day I can't eat a Samoa cookie without thinking of you.

    • In jail. I TOLD you that body wasnt buried deep enough to fool the po-po.
      20 hours ago
    • Crayon Wrangler

      I don't think it was the fact that the body wasn't buried deep enough. It was more the fact that you insisted that we bury the body in that huge flower pot that was sitting outside the Police station that held their annual Christmas ...tree. I didn't think it was smart to put that sign in the dirt of it either that said "Don't look for a dead body here" but as always you have that strange sense of humor and I just laughed and went along with it.

      Did you ever finish that community service project of picking up the pine needles with a pair of tweezers nationwide?
      • At a competition. When they broke out the white t-shirts, and pitchers of water, I knew we had it in the bag.
        19 hours ago ·
        • Crayon Wrangler
          Amanda H,
          I still have my white t-shirt. The emblem has faded a little over time. The "Great Jalapeno Eat-Off" can barely be read now. I still can't believe that I won that contest. I remember sitting there next to you. There was blood, swea...t and tears that turned us from bitter rivals to life long friends. You were the smart one though. You knew when enough was enough and when to quit. I kept going and now suffer a life of demolished taste buds that render all food totally tasteless.
          Thank God for those pitchers of water though.
          19 hours ago ·
        • Glad you cleared that up, here I was thinking you and Amanda won the wet tshirt contest
          19 hours ago ·

        • 19 hours ago ·
        • Crayon Wrangler

          Oh we did. That was the next year. We didn't intentionally enter though. We were on a small whaling vessel petitioning the cruelty that plankton face. In all of our sign waving and jumping we managed to capsize our small ship. Days p...assed as we paddled towards where we believed land was. We faced sunburns, dehydration and she saved me from a hammerhead shark. By the time we finally stumbled onto shore, we managed to walk right into Spring Break. Looking for help and first aid we called out. Several other girls ran over, water was thrown and while the other girls hollered and paraded around...we lapped up the water. After it was all done, we had somehow won the contest and were awarded $500 each. We used that money to open up a Plankton Research center.See More
          19 hours ago

          • You showed up on my doorstep one day and I said to your dad, "can I keep her?" We did and are so glad!
            19 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            I never dreamed that the hot air balloon would have gotten caught in that tornado and taken me all the way to Texas. It was just my luck that the eagle landed on top of the balloon and decided to peck at it. As I began to plummet down t...o earth, I thought "Nothing good can come from this"
            Luckily all those pine trees broke my fall and I tumbled out of the basket that was hanging from the top right onto your front porch. As I stood to dust myself off, you opened the door.
            I guess something good did come from it!
            See More
            19 hours ago ·
          • I wish I had half your imagination and creativity!
            19 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler
            I won the imagination and creativity in a lucky hand at a Poker game. The guy I was playing (nice guy with a white beard) put them on the table and I won them. I'm still looking for that guy because he stole the napkikn I was writing some i...nstructions on how to play poker on..."you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em".
            I heard he turned it into a song.
            See More
            18 hours ago ·
          • You were in high school, 15 or 16, we were at church camp, I believe. I know the next year they came up with a lot of new rules that no one had ever knew needed to be rules, you always made life fun. Watch when your kids go to camp, God does have a sense of humor. Thanks for the memories.
            18 hours ago
          • Crayon Wrangler

            So do you still have your manual that gives the rules of
            1.) No camper is allowed to go out at night, kidnap an armadillo and apply makeup to it.
            2.) There will be no armadillo beauty contests where betting is allowed.
            ...3.) No camper is allowed to tie another camper inside a canoe at the top of a pine tree.
            4.) No camper is allowed to impersonate a Pizza delivery person and deliver fake cardboard pizzas to a camp leader and receive more than $100 for payment of pizzas.

            So glad I was able to expose all these things that needed to be used as rules! Thank you for the memories!
            See More
            18 hours ago
          • we were at this church were a squirrel got loose and we volunteered for missions in the congo! ray stevens even sung a song about it!
            18 hours ago
          • Crayon Wrangler

            That's not my fault. I told you that squirrel wasn't dead when you put it on your head and said you were going to see if you could convince everyone it was a midget coon skin hat. Serves you right that it would jump to life and bit half your ear. I still can't believe it actually got into that fight with Ms. Gertrude's mink coat. I'll never forget the sound of the snarling! It was a good idea to fake a mission trip to the Congo after Ms. Gertrude's husband pulled out that match and tried to light the squirrel on fire. Who knew that the church would go up in flames like that! They'll never find us in the Congo and its better that everyone just forget about the squirrel incident.See More
            18 hours ago
          • Crazy little story...I was fishing in lake Michigan and saw your body floating nearby. I almost didn't pick you up to see if you were alive because I knew the hassle it would cause from the po po. I fished you out anyway and used my stealth like reflexes to deliver a life saving blow to your abdomen. It did two things 1. It popped a fish right out of your airway and 2. Inflated your chest to unmeaseurable proportions. We always laughed because I caught an 8pt dear that day in lake Michigan!!!!
            18 hours ago
          • Crayon Wrangler
            Amanda D,
            I am so lucky you came across me that day. I had been doing an gig being an extra for a swim on part in a documentary about the Loch Ness monster. I saw someone filming from the shore shouting about how it was really Nessie and I t...ried to call out and tell them it was fake. Right then a fish swam in my mouth choking me. If you watch the real footage of Nessie you can see me on the top right flailing away.

            Thank you for saving me and for the chest expansion. That's the main reason I won that contest with Amanda H. mentioned above!
            See More
            18 hours ago
          • We were at the gun control rally... remember, that picture us us made national news because of your awesome anti-gun poster! We signed up for PETA together after our picture was taken, and we've been activist buddies every since!
            15 hours ago
          • We were out wrangling on the trail when we ran into some colorful characters who were tall but melting in the sun. We wrangled up those characters and put them in a freezer box to solidify them again. We have been wrangling together since.
            15 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            You know if you had told me before I held up my sign that Penal Code 626.9 was NOT spelled "PENILE" Code...then we would have never made it on the news that day. Good thing I can't spell and we were able to spread our cause. It's a sham...e that it looked like I was into supporting Penile though.
            I wished you had told me too that P.E.T.A. was not an acronym for People Eating Tasty Animals...I was only there for the cookbook and somehow ended up on a whaling vessel as mentioned above with Amanda H.
            Glad we became activist buddies though...I have been needing a running partner for my Activist schedule.
            What do you mean that "Activist" is not fancy for activity?? I thought I was signing up for a running buddy. What do you mean we are tying ourselves to trees next week???
            See More
            14 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            That was the best day ever. I can't tell you how much fun it was to ride up on that herd of characters and discover my life's purpose. I told you that day that we needed to crawl out from under the couch and abandon that mission on w...rangling dustbunnies. They were too sneaky and kept banding up with The Goldfish Cracker clan. Together they were just too much for us to defeat without Mr. Hoover being able to join us. Thanks for joining me on the range and helping me wrangle all those crayons.See More
            14 hours ago ·
          •  Now, now... the media ate up the whole "I didn't know how to spell it" story... but you and I both know that you misspelled your sign for the attention. You can own it. It's okay! We're infamous! And yeah, that cookbook was bland.
            14 hours ago · · 1 personLoading...
          • Crayon Wrangler

            Wait a minute...infamous by the dictionary means "having an extremely bad reputation" I'm sticking to my story and you can own the bad rep.
            Next time we go to a P.E.T.A. meeting, let's bring salt...oh and I'll pick up the burgers this for the noon break.See More
            14 hours ago ·
          • We were both trying to get a great picture of a bear when it started coming after us i backed up into a creek and slipped on a mossy rock and you saved my life thank you for that
            14 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            I still can't believe that you laughed so hard that you fell into that creek. I also can't believe that you didn't notice right away that it was not a bear but a super hairy man crouched taking a poo in the woods. By the time I got y...ou to see what it really was...I don't think we have ever laughed that hard before. I also can't believe that someone stole your camera and is passing off that blurry picture of that man running away from us as some kind of Bigfoot sighting.

            You are welcome for saving your life, but I must confess to you. I was actually reaching out to grab the strap of your pack that you were carrying. It had all the chocolate in it and I didn't want it dumped in the creek. Lucky that you held onto the pack as well and you were also saved.
            See More
            14 hours ago ·
          •  Well thank God I had the chocolate
            14 hours ago · · 1 personLoading...
          • We met on the battlefield where I was battling you to keep my beloved (Johnny Depp) from you evil grip! I beat you and went home with him and we lived happily ever after!
            12 hours ago ·
          • While we were training to be astronauts at NASA. I totally kicked your @$$ in the never could take those negative g's! Remember how good our hair looked afterwards? We were totally Whitesnake video worthy!
            12 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            I am surprised to see you up and around. That was a heck of a lump you took on your noggin when you fell off that pirate ship at Disney Land. Leave it to you to be horsing around on the ride. I am so sorry that you fell though.
            I never... thought you would wake from that coma. You laid there for months and every now and then would whisper something about Johnny Depp. We brought him in once thinking that it would bring some sort of miracle about. He held your hand for about an hour and then we realized you weren't going to wake. I cried on his shoulder and then he took me out for a night of dancing.
            I hated that you missed it but am so thankful that you apparently had wonderful dreams during your coma.
            See More
            12 hours ago ·
          •  Lol well while you were typing this he came to his senses and came home to me!!!
            12 hours ago ·
          • Crayon Wrangler

            It was so cool that you actually got hired at NASA. You are right I never could take those negative g's. Did you know when you were signing all your paper work and dedicating your life to NASA, I went out to the curb for a taxi. I was... so depressed about not making the NASA team.

            This limo pulled up and this guy jumped out. He said "having a bad day"...I replied..."Here I go again" I meant that I was going to cry again, but he said it would make a great title song. He asked me to join him and I said

            "Here I go again on my own

            goin' down the only road I've ever known.

            Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.

            An' I've made up my mind, I ain't wasting no more time"

            He wrote something down, asked me to sign it and drove away. Turned out I signed away some rights to a song.See More
            12 hours ago

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TRDC: A Sister's Scar of Love

Writing Prompt: Memory and Reflection
Our memories are powerful—whether they actually happened the way we remember them isn’t as important as what we remember and why. So something I would like you to try this week is to hone in on a memory and then interrogate it. One way to incorporate more reflection in your writing is to constantly be asking yourself questions.

This is a writing exercise in two parts:

Part I
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.)

Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)

Part II
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)? (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.)

She stood and looked at the mark I just left on her as one thousand emotions scattered across her eyes. Her mouth worked itself into a scream and I knew I had crossed the line. My twin sister and I had been in more than a thousand fights by now, but this one had turned into something more serious. I can't tell you how old we were at this point or what we were fighting about, although I am pretty sure that she remembers. After all, she's the one that still bears the physical scar 20 plus years later.

I stood and held the hot curling iron still in my hand as the scorched smell of burnt skin filled the small bathroom upstairs at my Granny's house. I can't remember if I started apologizing or stood there defiant in my action. I do remember the sinking feel that I had just caused her an unjust amount of pain and I felt sick at what I had done. I was also very aware of not just the amount of pain she was in but the unique position of power she held over me. I had been warned and punished numerous times for my hot temper. I had been told that I took things too far, but in my defense I rarely started any of the fights we had. I did end them though, by whatever means necessary.

The moment was on top of us now. The moment that silent scream was going to find its voice and my Granny's wrath and disappointment would color our short visit with her. My sister had to have known that the minute she screamed and pointed the finger at me I would be in a deeper trouble than I had ever seen. I looked at her and suddenly realized as our Granny loomed over us that she had been screaming. Somehow as fear had begun to run through my veins, I had become deaf to the cries that had already begun. Granny's eyes flew wide as she examined the burn that was the same length of the curling iron and thankfully I had already put the weapon down so there was no immediate smoking gun to alert her of my guilty role. As she herded us up to take us down to the drugstore immediately for some salve, it began to soak in that my sister had said it was an accident. She never pointed the finger at me that I deserved.

One the car ride to the drugstore Granny worried and fretted over the injury, my sister cried with the pain and I sat in numbed silence.

Why had she not pointed me out? 
Was she just waiting until my parents arrived to pick us up and then let the guillotine fall upon my shameful, guilty head? 
What was her angle? 

It was at that moment that she turned around and delivered a slight, sympathetic smile to me. We were never those types of twins that you hear about that share feelings or could read minds, but that whisper of a smile told me that she was not going to rat me out. She forgave me and was going to keep my evil deed a secret. She forgave me. I hadn't asked for it and I didn't deserve it.
20 something years later and we have since told my parents what really happened. They learned of the fight that caused the scar the way that adult children reveal truths to their parents in a laugh about it being the past. I'm sure my parents were horrified, but it is the past. We fought many times since that day and we still get into arguments, but that day I learned of a true sister's love and forgiveness. She knew the "pain" that I would have received for such a horrendous action against her and she choose to shield me from it. She choose to carry the pain and suffering by herself.

I can't tell you that moment changed our relationship forever, but every time we are together these days and I catch a glimpse of that scar I am reminded. I am reminded that sometimes no matter how bad it hurts that there are those people in our lives that we love so much that we are willing to suffer for them. We bear the burden of their pain and shield them. We discern that they deserve a touch that is severe and we muster up a small smile that tells them that they are forgiven based only on the love we share. My sister has a scar that was created from my anger, but is more of a symbol of a sister's love.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lessons Learned - Blogging

There have been a ton of blogging basic posts done recently. If you are looking for information on blogging, social media, FaceBook and Twitter please check out these wonderful posts.

Belle Bean Dog - Being a Bad Blogger
ThetaMom - How to invest your blogging time wisely
ByWordsMusing - Not a big blogger?
ccnoffi - Blogging Pet Peeves Part 1 and Part 2
Kludgy Blogging - A whole whoppin slew of blogging must reads with a side of nougat!

If you just want some bare bone lessons, you've come to the right place.

Lessons Learned - Blogging

  • Once you come up with a subject for your blog post you will quickly discover that it does take 20,000 bloggers to change a light bulb. After you hit publish you will be slammed with comments that "I just wrote a post on that topic!" Upon reading it you will feel like you sucked. BIG TIME. It's fine to continue to write on the same topic but be unique. Do something big like offer your readers a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head for them to laugh at.
  • Unless you can handle staying up until 4am with the only company being Mr. Disappointment, never ask for a few more followers so you can hit a milestone. Watching the number stay the same is not good for your esteem and trust'd rather have someone who wants to be at the party to dance than someone who comes to just look at your appetizers and punch bowl and leave to never be seen again.
  • So you finally hit it big and some online retail place has offered you to do a review/giveaway. They want you to use the keywords lampshades or headboards. When you do your post we all know that you are being forced to use these keywords to be in giveaway compliance. Don't patronize your reader into thinking that you have been looking for a lampshade for 6 months and it wasn't until you hooked up with this company that you found the perfect one. *eye roll*
  • Word Verification and/or Auto Reply Responses on your comments. These services are extremely annoying to your readers who actually had something important to say. Plus I believe every time they are used a puppy is killed somewhere. Let the guilt lie on your shoulders alone because I don't want to kill a puppy. Take it off and save a puppy.
  • Back to blog topics. You will soon discover that your best ideas come when you are driving, dozing off or you are up to your elbows in a nasty diaper. Your memory is not your friend and unless you have some way of quickly jotting it down (please wash your hands if you were the person up to your elbows) you are not going to remember it and will spend a minimum of 3 hours trying to hone in on a lost thought. If you still can't retrieve it...go read those 20,000 other blog posts on the same topic. Yup...that's what you were going to write about.
  • Receiving comments. Folks this is a conversation and things go better if you look at it that way. Picture yourself listening to someone give their thoughts on a topic. You respond back with your thoughts on what they said. Then they just walk away without looking back. Hello rudeness! If someone has taken the time to actually read your blog (Praise the heavens because you have a reader!) and give their thoughts, take a few minutes to talk back to them. This does not apply if you have a commenting system that allows people to comment with no way of getting back in touch with them via email, Twitter, etc. 
  • Getting big. Let's face it (this is where I throw cold water on your face and slap you for good measure) unless you got something really special, you will probably not be the next best thing with a book deal. Here is the thing though...let's say you have 10 followers that are not family or real-life friends and they comment...HOLY CRUD!!! You have 10 people who actually want to listen to something you have to say. This is time for a celebration! I have 3 little girls that I gave LIFE to and feed cookies and they don't listen to anything I have to say. All you did was write and 10 random people listened??? This is amazing! Congratulate yourself!
So there you go. Some short lessons for your blogging adventures! Good luck and try to keep the puppies safe!!!

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Lewis and Clark...Girl Style

    It's been a while since I just posted some regular pictures of the girls. After my adventure yesterday with Forester Tim (read previous post) I took the older two girls out on an adventure through the forest. We had a ton of fun, saw lots of neat things and I doubt I will ever be able to keep them inside from here on out. So meet my Lewis and Clark...Girl Style.

    If A Blogger Falls In The Woods...

    Yesterday if you followed my tweets in the morning, you would know that I went on a little jaunt with a Forestry Expert through my property. There is this little thing called Green Belt taxes and it was time for us to re-certify. In order to do that we had to have a Forester come to the property and walk it to do an analysis of our amount of land vs. timber available for logging. I won the coin toss with my husband and went to go grab my hiking boots.

    Our appointment was for 9am and around 9:15am Forester Tim called and said he needed better directions to my house...he was lost. Friends, I was about to go into the wild wilderness with this guy and he is lost on asphalt roads with clearly marked street signs? Are. You. Kidding. Me? I hid my hiking boots and challenged my husband to another coin toss. I lost and quickly got on to the Android market to download the compass app for my phone. Just in case.

    Forester Tim finally showed up and the first thing I saw was a little old man with a walking cane and a handicapped plaque dangling from his rearview mirror.

    Now I have nothing against the handicapped and believe that they can do anything they put their minds to, but when it comes to hiking in my woods down a ravine...well, I was hoping for more of the Grizzly Adams look than the little old man from the movie "Up" As he talked he informed me that he had been a Forester for almost 55 years (I started doing math in my head for his exact age) and that he would not only be doing the analysis but would be teaching me all about the forest at the same time.

    See that metal pole about halfway down the picture on the right hand side? That's his walking cane. Turns out that is one handy sucker to have walking down a ravine and I envied him for having one by the third time I tumbled down. (By the way...sorry for the quality of the pictures. I took them with my phone because I was afraid of dropping my camera) Let me just tell you this man was awesome! Not only could he identify every plant, tree, animal dropping (ewwww) and rock, but he could tell me history about them. I began to fall in love with him a little until...

    ...he got us firmly stuck in a bramble patch. This was necessary because he had to take a sample from a Yellow Poplar and apparently we just "had" to go through this way to get to the illusive tree that could be found on the top of the ravine on the other side. While inside the patch it felt strangely like the time that I was wrestling with the 3 girls and they all needed to have their fingernails cut. This patch is about 3 acres wide and while that doesn't seem like a lot, you try having your arms scratched and hair ripped out for 3 acres. It is an ETERNITY.

    When we finally made it from the patch and to the bottom of the ravine (Yes, we still had to walk all the way up the other side) we discovered a stream on the forest floor. I told him it was my love of nature, but I am pretty sure he knew I was too pooped to pop...I convinced him to stop and take a break by the water edge. We sat there and listened to the water run by (HEAVENLY SOUND) and he took the time to show me a gray fox den (empty...boohiss) a place where the deer had bedded for the night, a tree that was hollowed out that served as a hotel for raccoons, squirrels, birds, etc. and pointed out the coolest Sassafras tree I have ever seen. I am totally going back with some kind of bush hog to take out the brambles and putting a park bench right at this spot.

    We finally journeyed up the other side and made it to the top of Mt. Crayon. If it weren't for all the trees there would have been a heck of a view! I felt like a real Explorer and was bummed to realize that I had no flag to stake there. I may or may not have burst into a round of "This Land Is My Land This Land Is Your Land" While I was belting out a song, he had located the Yellow Poplar and took a sample to check its maturity and growth rate. 9 rings. This was the clincher for him and as he handed me the little toothpick like sample from the tree, he also showed me that the sap had not risen in the tree yet. This, my city friends, means that spring is not right around the corner, but another cold snap is on the way. BOOHISS!

    After our mission was complete and we made our way back to my homestead, he became full of jokes and we laughed all the way back. We skipped the journey through the bramble patch this time and he surprised me by showing me that sometimes the best way through the woods is to find a neighbors adjoining property that has been cleared and to take a nice leisurely walk through a cattle pasture. As I resumed my tweeting because I had a signal again, he kindly did not point out the HUGE pile of cow poop and allowed me to see the danger of walk/tweeting/cowpoop/notlooking scenario. Thanks Forester Tim. I shall now just burn my hiking boots.

    I am so glad I won that coin toss with my husband and see many years of spending time in the woods. I guess it takes about 55 years to gain that type of knowledge about the nature that is contained in there, but only about 2 hours to gain a love for it.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    TRDC - The Fairy Princess Dress.

    This weeks prompt: Write a piece - 600 word limit - about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it's so meaningful to you or your character.

    It's a good thing that I had thrown all the clothes into a pile in the middle of the floor outside my closet because when I flopped to the floor in "Muffin Top Despair" it softened the landing. Perspiration and frustration gave my face a glowing sheen as I rolled my eyes at my reflection in the full length mirror on the closet door. I puckered my lips and blew up my cheeks until I resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy, which is exactly who I felt like. My oldest two daughters came wandering in the bedroom to see what I was up to and flopped into the pile of clothes beside me.

    "Whatcha doin Mommy"

    "Mommy is trying to find something to look pretty in so I can go on a date with Daddy and knock    his socks off."

    "You gonna take his socks off?"

    Giggles filled the room as they imagined Mommy wrestling Daddy to get his socks off. My big eyed 3 year old in all of her fashion sense that thinks snow boots, tutus and undershirts is the new "black dress" began to hold up some of the items discarded in the floor.

    "What 'bout this? This pretty? This take socks off?"

    Her chatter continued as my 5 year old began to look at the items still dangling from the hangers in the closet. She reached in the back and tugged until the velvety blue dress fluttered to the floor. Her fingers rubbed the soft, luxurious fabric and I heard her suck her breath in.

    "Ohhhh Mommy, it's a princess dress"

    "I can't wear that one sweetie, I've grown a bit since I wore it last time."

    "Please Mommy, be a princess."

    Her deep brown eyes pierced mine as I took it from her hands where she offered it as though it was some type of magic fabric. How on earth do you explain "Fat" to such young girls? How do you explain what they did to your bodies for 9 months and how nothing is where it used to be? Deciding to just humor her for a moment I began to slip into the soft folds. Slipping isn't quite the right word. Slipping into it is what I used to do 5 years and 3 kids ago. This was more like shoving biscuit dough back into a popped can. I finally got it all the way up but there was no way the zipper was going to budge an inch up the back.

    "Mommy! You are beautiful like a fairy princess!! Look at you! I wanna be like you when I get big."

    I refused to turn around and look into the mirror. Looking at my daughters eyes dance while they grabbed my hands to dance with them, I closed my eyes and dared myself to see myself as they did. The dress had once fit a more slender woman. A woman who had control over herself and a confidence that dared her to buy the low plunging tight blue velvet dress. A woman who sat across from the restaurant table from her newly married husband and dared to run her foot up his leg while whispering bold innuendos. I blushed as I recalled that night and quickly opened my eyes back to the moment I was in.

    That fairy princess that my daughters danced around was really there. She was in that moment. As I took the dress back off and hung it back where it belonged in the back of the closet, I was tempted to berate myself a little more about how I had let things go. How after having my 3 daughters nothing was where it used to be anymore...then I realized that everything on me had to move to make way for how large my heart had grown. A heart enlarged and overflowing with the love I had for my children. I may not actually be a fairy princess, but as my fingers rubbed the fabric of the hanging dress I prayed silently that my daughter would indeed be just like me when she got big. That she would be someone's fairy princess in a blue dress as she was celebrated for being beautiful just the way she was.

    *This story is NOT fiction...I AM a fairy princess.


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