Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Am Featured Today at The Red Dress Club!

The Red Dress Club is made of a supportive group of writers. Every week, you can link-up to share your creation (fiction or non-fiction) based on the prompt provided by these lovely ladies:

We call this Red Writing Hood.

Today, The Red Dress Club is featuring my Family Secrets piece. This was the first piece I wrote for Red Writing Hood and is one of my favorites! I had fun creating awkward family moments, interesting and surly characters, plot twists, and witty dialogue (if I do say so myself).

Feel free to check it out again by clicking here!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Highlights (And you thought YOUR family was crazy???)

1. I can never hear my son call my brother, Scott, “Uncle Cock,” or just plain, “Cock,” too many times. Never gets old.

2. It was good thinking to keep the child locks on our windows so that my mom was unable to roll down the window and shout things at houses when driving home from Christmas Eve dinner. We have learned from past mistakes.

3. I truly loved watching my brother fall off the couch into the firewood basket. In my mind, I replay the moment in slow motion.

4. I was very grateful that even after slaving away in the kitchen for a delicious prime rib roast, my son actually ate his whole dinner – a mini microwaved cheeseburger.

5. On our last night together, our family got to watch old footage from the late 60’s – early 80’s from our growing up years. My mom’s boyfriend converted all of the footage onto DVD as a Christmas gift. Every scene had so much atmosphere…err…cigarette smoke billowing around the camera lens as all the kids played in the house. It was really a great effect.

6. Isn’t it great watching everyone else play with your child? Finally, a break from endlessly being asked to play hockey and cars.

7. The real stars of the holiday were: pepto bismol, mucinex, and anti-anxiety medication.

8. Gift opening and mimosas. Greatest tradition ever.

9. Movie choice (during naptime for little maniac) on Christmas Day – The Hangover! Hilarious. Gives you so much to be thankful for. Hey, one of my sayings is, “We’re doing alright as long as a naked Chinese man doesn’t jump out of our trunk.”

10. It was fun to watch my niece trying to help my son navigate his Lightning McQueen car around the backyard. My son drives like me. He pushes the gas and then just smiles and has a blast looking around at everything. My niece chased after him to stop the car from going into the fence, our pond, the shed, a tree, and the sandbox. On a similar note, I drove our car into the garage shelves when pulling in the day after Christmas. Oh, well! Whatever….

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Soul of a Tree

In 1994 I was a freshman in college at Northern Arizona University. I had to write a descriptive essay for an English class. I loved English and writing, always have.

For Christmas, here is that blast from the past. (I have edited it down from the original.)

The Soul of a Tree

Something is calling me. I pull the covers off and get out of bed. It feels good to get out of the blanketed cocoon; my bones are restless. My mind is too. I know I must answer this calling, this tugging at my gut. I grab my journal and leave my room. I move through the thick silence that envelops the house. My senses are heightened. I hear a hum as the refrigerator kicks on, and I see the turning pages of a magazine as the heat hits it from the vent.

Another world exists in houses at night. I feel like an intruder in the darkness. No longer do the furniture pieces seem like mine. They look bigger, and they seem to have distinctive personalities and characters about them. They wonder why I'm awake and moving through their territory. What usually seems so comfortable to me during the day feels awkward now: corners hold mysterious secrets, the walls watch me, and every sound or move I make seems amplified. A part of Adrienne Rich's poem, "Song," enters my mind, "If I'm lonely it must be the loneliness...of being the one awake in a house wrapped in sleep."

I set out to do what I was going to do. I push the plug into the wall socket and stand back to admire a rare from of beauty. The Christmas tree lights illuminate the room, and they strike a chord in me. The tree stands tall and majestic in the corner of the room. The lights shine like they are about to sing. The little glass lights contain such life. Strength lives in their fragility. I sit on the couch and draw my knees up to my chin, gazing at the brilliance of the lighted tree. All of us, the furniture and I , bask in its radiance. I am hoping that the tree lights will bring a little beauty to my soul-searching nights, and they have.

I get up. I want a closer look. I position myself lying under the tree on my back. My legs stick out from underneath it like a mechanic working on a car. I feel the felt of the tree skirt under my head, and the carpet itches the backs of my legs. This must be what my cat sees as he lays under the tree during the day wrapped in slumber. I can understand why my cat bats at the ornaments on the lower branches as I look at the toy soldier that stares ominously down at me.

I see the branches that come out in all directions from the sappy trunk; they seem to go on forever. From this perspective, the tree looks like a giant redwood shooting straight up from the forest floor. The lights sparkle and dazzle my eyes,. I am part of the tree now; I am its root. I listen for it to whisper answers to me, but the lights just smile down, knowing something I don't.

It is time now to go to bed. I feel exhaustion in my limbs. I unplug the cord. As I walk away, I thank the tree for its time. My journal is put away, and as I fall asleep, I vow something to myself, "I will not lose sight of this."


I know now that I meant I would not lose sight of the simple treasures that exist all around us. Keep your eyes and heart open to the beauty in everything.

Have yourself a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You Cut Out to be a Mom?

Oh my goodness. Last night, I had flashbacks.

Not flashbacks in the sense of, “Whoa, I’ve done way too much acid, man.”

More like, flashbacks of when my child was an infant, and we were in the throes of dealing with reflux and colic and CONTINUOUS, angry crying.

I felt shell-shocked. Anxious. Overwhelmed. Heartbroken. At a loss. Scared. Not sure. Full of doubt. Inadequate.

I picked up my son from daycare today. He apparently has a stomach virus, causing awful diarrhea. There must be some kind of stomach cramping involved too because my son acts as though the devil has taken over his intestines.

(As a fun aside, at least my son describes things in an entertaining and truly perfect way. Puke is called “poop sneeze.” Diarrhea is called “poop puddle.”)

There was a time last night when my son was completely inconsolable. Throwing things, hitting, kicking, screaming. He was covered in his own diarrhea, and I couldn’t even get close enough, without being attacked, to do anything about it. This went on for so long (about an hour, a little longer) that I wondered if we needed to GO SOMEWHERE.

I’m thinking, “Is his appendix bursting as we stand here?!”

Eventually, we got him in the bath, with his clothes on, scared, trembling, and screaming. Once he was clean and changed, finally, all was calm. He watched a movie and ate a banana.

I stood in the kitchen, and I felt…like shit.

My nerves were on edge. I had to make dinner. I didn’t want to eat. I felt like I used to. When he was an infant.

And, there was the old fear. The fear that, I believe, every mother has sometimes.

I don’t think I am cut out for this.

And, I remembered how I used to feel that way. Low on sleep and holding an infant I couldn’t soothe. I didn’t think I was cut out for it.

I learned to tell myself, “You were meant to be Parker’s mother. You ARE cut out for it. You were cut out perfectly, for him.”

In the moments of chaos and crying and pain and doubt, you do not think you are cut out for it.

But, you are. You are cut from the same cloth, and only you can be his mother.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Ornament is a Piece of History

Only a few of my favorites:

(Please forgive the quality of photo. No matter how many times or settings I tried, I just could not get a fab pic out of our camera. Hmphf.)

A grad school friend gave this to me many years ago and ever since she has always had a top spot on our tree. There is just something about her that makes her one of my favorites. Always.

I received this ornament on my wedding day. It was June 26, 1999. My mom, grandma, and I were having lunch in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, after I had my hair done. My grandma gave this to me at lunch.

This is an old classic, a family ornament. I wonder what year it was made and bought? I only remember it always having a place on my tree as I grew up. A simple, little nativity.

I bet no one else in the world has this ornament, or one like it, on their tree. My friend gave this to me when I was pregnant. It was a gift tag, but I tie it on my tree every year because I like to look at it and laugh. It says, "Mama," up above the picture. Below the picture, it says, "Sometimes I'm just not into this mothering thing at all."

What are your favorite ornaments and what pieces of history do they give to you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet Me on Monday

Welcome to Meet Me on Monday sponsored by Java!

Blogging is a funny thing...we tell our most intimate thoughts for all to read and yet most of the time I find myself sitting and wondering, "who is this person!?" I know them...but yet I don't know them! I want to know who the person is behind all those words so Java thought of a great way for all of us to "meet" each other! Every Sunday she posts five get-to-know-you questions that you can copy and paste into your own Monday post and we can all learn a little more about each and every one of us!!


1. How do you order your steak?

I hardly ever eat steak. I do like it, but I never order it in a restaurant. I only have it grilled by my husband or someone else who grills, so it is all in their control, but I prefer medium.

2. Are you superstitious about anything?

I am not really superstitious about anything. I will walk under a ladder just to make someone else shudder.

3. Who is your best friend (not including your spouse)?

Juli and Jen! I have written about Juli here and here.

4. When is the last time you wore a dress?

I rarely wear dresses, but you are in luck! I actually wore one last Thursday to work!

5. Do you have any trips scheduled?

No. I absolutely love that I am not the one traveling for the holidays. I like people coming to me. I really want my best friends to visit me next year! HINT, HINT.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First Love, True Love

This week, Red Writing Hood provided this prompt:

Write a short first-person story about your first love, or write a short fiction piece about a character's first love.

Mysterious Ways

I noticed him right away. He was new blood in this soul-less place. He looked kind. That was why he was so…noticeable.

I approached him with all the bravado and confidence that I had honed over the past few years.

It looked as though I wasn’t even relying on liquid confidence, as I held a diet Pepsi can in my hand. But, little did anyone know it was filled with spiced rum and hardly even burned anymore every time I took a sip.

“Hi,” I said, an actress, using my body and my eyes to say a little more than just “Hi.”

“Hi,” he said with a smile.

Little did he know I was damaged goods. Not worth much more than a, “Hi,” but I no longer had much to lose.

“How’r’ya tonight?” I asked, coyly.

“Good, and you?” he asked, politely.

The conversation quickly, surprisingly, became interesting. We talked excitedly and lost track of time. We spoke of our current situations and future dreams, and he never passed judgment, only showed curiosity, only gave me the attention I craved. I didn’t want the night to end.


His eyes, his eyes, always looking, looking for a connection. I was not used to a connection. There was only warmth there. Instinctively I knew I could trust him.

We looked at a map of his home state, his home town. We listened to music. We talked a little more about what was deeper beneath the surface. The sun was rising.

I gave in. I finally held his gaze and was just beginning to learn that I deserved it. Could I really trust this? Would there be another time? Was he really…kind?

The next day, and the next – a phone call, some letters. He cared. I started falling in love.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Everyone Has Irrational Fears, Right?

A dear thank you goes out to Momagement Matters for bestowing me the Versatile Blogger award! This is an award I have received already, but I still eat up all the love I can get like the mega-attention-monger I am.

In the spirit of…versatility…I will do something a little different today.

My Top 10 List of Daily Irrational Fears

10. That I will not be able to poop when I need to.

9. That my pants will suddenly not fit.

8. That I will be asked to perform some feat of accomplishment, and I will fail miserably.

7. That my need for sleep will not be fulfilled. Sleeping rituals include: earplugs ready on the bedside, white noise machines going, pillows situated “just so,” a light breeze (even in deep winter) from the fan above, positive self-talk, etc., etc.

6. That I will have something occur that will interrupt WHAT IS TO BE EXPECTED.

5. That I will run out of wine.

4. That there will be no available coffee between 7:30 am – 11:00 am.

3. That I will be exposed to very annoying things, like sloppy eating, gum popping, dog slobber, ice chewing, apple eating, whistling, and assholes in general.

2. That I have annoyed someone. Other people can REALLY annoy me, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think I have annoyed someone. Please do not tell me if I have ever annoyed you. I am a very sensitive person and would be destroyed.

1. That I have been too honest, therefore, inciting negative opinions about me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Play Hard

This weekend, my husband was gone, mountain biking in Albuquerque. I wasn’t looking forward to doing it all “alone” this weekend, as I was feeling a little depleted.

I knew I would need to keep my son and me busy. I had all sorts of things in mind. We could go to Target! (The Go-To Activity when it is cold outside.) We needed to go to the grocery store. I could ask my friend if she wanted to do a play date. We could go to the movies and see Megamind. There was a list of places I had in mind to pass the time.

Well, as EVERY parent knows, the best laid plans…

You never REALLY get to choose what it is you would like to do, right? Right.

Yesterday, Parker, uncharacteristically, did not want to go anywhere. Every time I mentioned anything, “We could go to the movies! We can eat popcorn and get candy!” I shouted, thinking for sure this would work.

“NO! Stay home! Stay home and play!” Parker would shout.

Ok, I thought. Whatever, we’ll stay home and play.

I decided to totally participate because I think there is nothing worse than sitting around for HOURS while your child plays, and you are bored out of your mind.

Boy, did we play. Wow. WE PLAYED ALL DAY! I did not try to tell him, “No, Mommy needs a rest.” I did not tell him, “You play by yourself,” or, “Let’s put a movie on.” I just kind of went with it.

We painted, we played in the sink, we played the Wii, we pretended to be Lion King and Scar and wrestled around growling on the floor, we played cars, we played robots, we played catch (in the house!), we threw a stuffed chicken up and down at each other across stairwells, we made cookies, on and on and on.

Is anyone tired yet? Can you imagine how I felt? It was a lot of playing. It really was great, but man, when bedtime came last night, did I feel like I had EARNED some ME time? Oh, yeah. I stayed up until midnight, watching TV and reading, simultaneously worrying that I would be so tired in the morning when the maniac woke at 7:00 am, ready for more.

Today? We went to Target and the grocery store. The maniac is napping now. When he wakes up? I think we’ll watch a movie.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Moment of Magic

Mama Kat has challenged us this week with a prompt:

If you could relive any moment in your life…

A Moment of Magic

When Grandma came to visit, she stayed in my bedroom because I didn’t sleep in there anyhow. To my brother’s embarrassment, I slept with him until he grew too old, had enough, and kicked me out.

One Christmas Eve, I left my brother’s bed in the middle of the night. I crawled into my own bed, with Grandma.

Grandma was not like other Grandma’s I knew, and I wanted more of her. She was beautiful, ladylike, wore sparkly jewels, hummed to herself almost all day, had boundless energy, smelled good, and took me to exciting places like New York and San Francisco.

Grandma always made this little “pooh” puff-of-air-sound when she slept. It made me giggle.

As I giggled, Grandma started to wake.

“Grandma,” I whispered.

“Kristy,” she said with a smile and held me close. “Has Santa come?” she asked.

“No, it’s the middle of the night!” I whispered excitedly.

“Oh, well, we better get to sleep then so that Santa can come,” my grandma urged.

“Yes,” I said and snuggled against her warm body, waiting to hear the “pooh” sound from my grandma’s lips.

Moments passed. I was a little startled when my grandma said, “Do you hear that?” she asked.

I thought she was falling asleep.

“No,” I said, “What?”

“Listen. Listen close. I think I hear reindeer hooves on the roof,” she said.

Grandma continued, “There! Right there – did you hear it that time?”

I was straining my ears. I couldn’t believe it! Was Grandma serious? I wasn’t even sure if Santa really existed, but maybe…

“Yes! I hear it,” I almost shouted, “I hear the little sounds of hooves, Grandma!”

“Keep listening. You may be able to hear the jingle of bells soon,” my grandma suggested.

Amazing what you can make yourself hear if you want to. Amazing what you can make yourself believe if you want to.

I swore I heard the hooves on the roof that night and the jingle of bells. For many years, I would think back on that, holding onto a childhood’s dream of Santa. Remembering a night, close to my grandma, that only she and I shared.

A moment of magic.