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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mom Moments (Part 9)


I thought I'd end the year with some fun Jace moments from recent weeks.

Talking about doing silly things, like Spongebob.
Jace: Spongebob is a boy, like me.
Me: No, Spongebob is a sponge.
Jace: No he's not, Spongebob is a piece of cheese, he has holes.


Looking at my dad's card for the cruise.
Jace: Buh, buh. No, this isn't his card, it doesn't have a B for Bongo.
Me: His real name isn't Bongo baby.
Jace: What??
Next day at the airport, talking to fellow passengers.
Jace: Yep, I call him Bongo, but his name isn't really Bongo, his real first name is Grandpa.




Going to cousin Mary's for Christmas.
Aunt Patty: What did Santa Claus bring you for Christmas?
Jace: Super Mario underpants! Proceeds to drop pants and show the room Super Mario.

I'm in the bath and hear a knock on the door.
Me: Yes, dear?
Jace: I have to go to the bafloom before bed because dad said so.

Driving home in the snow.
Me: Well, apparently this road hasn't been plowed.
Jace: Brendan, apparently this road is a cloud!


Wrapping up 2016

It's the end of the year, which means an excellent time to reflect, to evaluate the year, and see what I learned. I've done these wrap up posts since I began the blog, and I encourage you to do the same!

Was 2016 the best year ever? Nope, not even close. But, it was a year that I did not check out and that I survived.

In January I ended up at Hyland Software, saving my mind from the law office and bringing back some joy and breathing space to my life. It was a great way to start off the year and has proven repeatedly to be the right choice.

In February we found a church, and it was great to be back among a church family, but hard because it wasn't the church family we had created in Kentucky. We'd spent years cultivating relationships, which is so challenging for me. But at least we had a start. It was also around that time that I noticed my depression getting unbearable, and I started to seek help. Much of the spring was a tangle of depression and marital struggles rolled in with Nathan's final surgery. His recovery did not go as planned, and I ended up spending a lot more time at the hospital and driving back to the ER than I hoped to.

But in April, Jace's best friend and my best friend made a trip from Kentucky to see us and celebrate Jace's fourth birthday. It was a glorious breath of fresh air to reunite with some of my people. Warmer weather let me back into my natural element: the outdoors.

In May, fully recovered, Nathan went back to work and Jace started spending 5 days a week at preschool/daycare, giving us routine, a more flexible budget, and helped our family overall. Our summer was a whirlwind of adventures with Jace: putt-putt, weekends at Mimi's house, movie dates, a road trip to Kentucky, a family vacation to Chicago, and lots and lots of s'mores.






Fall settled in, fairly warm, and mostly uneventful. My parents moved to Florida, which was harder on me than I thought, but quickly enough plans were in the works to make a trip to see them. The election left me feeling rattled, and we'll leave it at that. I will be doing my best to keep an eye on politics in 2017 without sacrificing all my energy.


December was crazy, celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary, taking a family vacation to Florida to visit my family, and of course Christmas with a four year old.



When I look at 2016 as a whole, it ended up very good. My marriage, which was in such question, is strong. I look at my family of three and I know that we are doing something right when I look at my 4 year old who talks about his friends at daycare and wants to help me in the kitchen. We were able to travel, and to me there are few things more valuable than new experiences. And I sought the help I needed, and was honest about my struggle with depression. Having depression is not an upside for the year, but figuring out how to manage it and being able to say I've survived it is.

So 2016, thank you for the lessons you taught and the opportunities you afforded.
And 2017, welcome.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Raising a Traveler

Earlier this month was spent enjoying Florida and the Bahamas with my parents, who recently moved to the Ocala area.

I realized while we were there that this was Jace's third trip to see the ocean. Once at Carolina Beach in North Carolina and twice to Florida to different beaches, and this trip even included the Bahamas, which means at age 4, my child has already been out of the country.

I was fortunate growing up, my parents took us on vacations. By the time I was in high school I'd explored a lot of the Caribbean, including having gone through the Panama Canal. So by the time we learned about the building of it in my 7th grade history class, I was able to connect the history with a physical memory of going through the canal. We toured the Mayan Ruins, we learned their history and facts that were never included in my textbook at school.

That's what I want for Jace. He's not always going to have designer clothes (or new ones, I'm a big fan of secondhand and thrift shopping). He's not going to live a silver spoon life because being born middle class means he'll be growing up middle class. But what I want for him, more than anything, is the opportunity to learn that traveling gives. I want him to know things that can be learned firsthand. I want him to know what the ocean looks like from swimming in it and snorkeling. I want him to see the differences in culture and customs by experiencing them.

Traveling helped me see what fascinated me and what brought joy to me. Seeing the movie Flipper (which I watched repeatedly) was nothing compared to the experience of being in the ocean with bottle nosed dolphins. And for Jace, watching the Paw Patrol have a water rescue paled in comparison to seeing the blue water of Nassau, and burying everyone in the sand. He was so fascinated watching the birds hunt for crabs, and we caught little mussels and watched them open their shells and dig themselves into the sand beneath the waves.

And as he gets older, I can't wait to hear where my little explorer wants to go and where we can travel to.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hocking Hills Weekend



I cannot strongly enough recommend Hocking Hills. For our anniversary weekend, Nathan and I were just two people out in the woods, enjoying a cabin and not being sucked into social media or the vastness of the internet.

Friday night we arrived at our little cabin in the woods, lit the fireplace, cooked chicken alfredo pizza for dinner, and had a Harry Potter movie marathon. It was the perfect cozy evening.



I love to hike, I adore being outside, and I'm in my best mood when I get to spend time in the fresh air, no matter the season. So Saturday morning we were up,  moving, and went to Old Man's Cave to do some hiking.

The trails are well maintained, well mapped, and beautiful even in winter. All during our exploration Nathan and I kept commenting on how much fun it would be to come back as a family in the summer.


We explored, we had picnic lunches, a gourmet 7 course dinner at Glenlaurel, and I spent time on the front porch swing and in the hot tub reading a book just for fun.

If I had to sum our trip up in one word, it would be rejuvenating. By the time we drove back home we both felt relaxed and ready to get back to work and regular life (I mean, we also would have been happy to stay, but upon returning to work I felt like I'd had a real break!).




Thursday, December 15, 2016

Things I'm Loving {December}

This is the last "Things I'm Loving post for 2016," it's hard to believe it's going to be 2017 in a couple weeks (and I will continue to write 2016  on everything for at least a month).


1.) The Moana soundtrack.

I'm obsessed guys. I listen to it once a day. At least. I cannot wait until it come to DVD because I'm totally buying it to watch repeatedly because it was just such a fantastic movie.

2.) Christmas Decorations (everywhere!)

At work I'm part of the Information Services team, but my pod is technically over with Accounting/Finance. And they did a Christmas decorating contest. That spiraled and became bigger than anyone anticipated. So now, sitting at my desk, I overlook a winter wonderland.

3.) Lauren Graham's new book Talking As Fast As I Can

The library is the best and got this to me right before I was leaving for vacation. I couldn't help but dig in as soon as I got it and I love that it sounds just like Lorelei (so far!)


4.) Being Outside 

The first weekend in December was spent hiking in Hocking Hills, the second weekend involved my first experience with snow shoes, and this weekend is being spent in Florida (and the Bahamas). Being outdoors is always good for my soul, and now I get to experience the fun of fall, winter, and summer all in the same month!

5.) "If it brings you joy you keep it, if it doesn't, out it goes." 

One of my favorite lines from the Gilmore Girls revival. I'm definitely not picking up every item I own and trashing it if it doesn't, but it's been a fun little mantra for me, especially when shopping or otherwise planning.

6.) 'Tis better to give than to receive.

I have had so much fun crafting, purchasing, and hunting down Christmas gifts this year. Planning out presents and surprises and even just bringing in Christmas cards to work for my coworkers has been much  more fulfilling to me than the idea of getting gifts.

What are you currently loving/obsessing over? What's bringing you joy this December? Please link up below and share your happy thoughts!


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Five Year Anniversary

Transparency is important to me on this blog. If I'm going to write, I need to be able to do so honestly, which is why this blog has seen my reactions to some of the most challenging moments in my life.

I've used this avenue to share the loss of my babies and remember them, to share my struggles with depression, and to write very honestly about my life. On this blog, I don't pretend to be someone I'm not, and so this anniversary, I need to be honest.

In October 2015, when we moved away from Kentucky, we were very seriously considering separation. I was overwhelmed and felt as though I didn't have a husband, I had an additional responsibility while I did it all. Those feelings of resentment and anger drove a deep wedge into our relationship.

I sought counsel in trusted friends and in our pastors, and after moving away from home, we began weekly marriage counseling.

It was hard. There were many, many moments of thinking it would be easier for all of us for me to leave. There were many tears, many hurtful words, and a lot of moments spent wondering why we got married to begin with.

Change came very slowly, almost painfully. We each had to reflect on our own issues, and even once the changes started to come about, then came the challenge of finding out if there were feelings left for each other underneath the rubble of the last year.

There were. Nathan had not faltered in telling me that he loved me, he loved me even when he hated me. And as we worked together, I found the feelings that brought us together to begin with. I loved him, and as we celebrate five years of marriage, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned.

1.) Use Perspective in Arguments.

We were hit with a game changing perspective earlier this year. Nathan has Primary Scholarosing Cholangitis, which means that eventually his liver will fail. Right now, he's having no symptoms and is unaffected, but the reality of this disease is that it will end with him needing a liver transplant. As morbid as it may be, I sometimes need to remind myself that my time with him is limited, and if in 20 years in the hospital I'm not going to care about the clothes that have yet again not made it to the hamper, then it's worth mentioning, but not worth a fight.

2.) Have Friends to Tell the Good (not just the bad).

I've always had two people that I call when things went wrong. When I was frustrated, or when we fought, or when I felt disrespected and unappreciated. Two people knew the details of my struggles in marriage. But when it finally started, a little bit at a time, to improve, I had to remember to tell my friends when things were going well. I had to make an effort to praise him to my friends, and after months of sharing nothing but negative details, they were still my cheerleaders. I needed their encouragement to persevere, and I know the outcome would have been starkly different without the friends that supported me in marriage counseling.

3,) Communicate

I had to learn that saying I was mad he didn't unload the dishwasher wasn't saying what the issue really was. To him, unloading the dishwasher is a tiny thing, and not anything to have such a fight about. But what I was really saying was that not doing what I asked was feeling like disrespect to me. It wasn't solely about the dishes, it was about me feeling that what I said and asked for wasn't being heard or treated with any importance. I had to explain that to him, I had to communicate and explain why the dishwasher isn't really the dishwasher. There were several little things like this, where it was simply miscommunication.


4.) Remember your Connections

Nathan and I bonded over a love of musicals and theater, over fandoms like Harry Potter, over a strong yearning to travel. Remembering that as we went to see Phantom of the Opera for the second time, and Finding Neverland for the first, brought back a lot of those feelings that showed up in the early nights of watching Finding Nemo in my dorm before our first kiss. I remembered that when I experience a new city, I want him to be beside me exploring it too. I need him in my life to be able to quote from Disney, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls and have him understand me. I love that he gets me, that my dancing around the kitchen to the soundtrack from Moana is endearing to him.


5.) Be in Love

I've noticed before that I have about an equal number of divorced friends and married friends. I have friends on their second marriage, or third relationship post-divorce. I hear the stories about how after years, he cheated, or she just left, so don't think it's going to be forever. Be prepared to be on your own.
But that doesn’t help. Spending each day thinking about how the debts and vehicles would get split up and what custody would look like doesn't allow you to be in love with the person you'd be sharing custody with. While in the back of my mind, I have preparations, I have to focus on being with Nathan. I have to focus on him holding my hand when we drive to dinner, on imagining us being middle aged exploring Cairo, and thinking about the future.


Five years of marriage, and seven total years together. On the 5th wedding anniversary we're officially no longer considered newlyweds, and I'd have to agree. I'm a lucky woman to be loved by a man who has never faltered in his love for me, who kept fighting when the easiest option would have been to simply quit, and who I have shared and will continue to have so many adventures with. Nathan has supported me in grief and financial hardship, he has loved me when I felt utterly unlovable in depression. He is my other half, and I look forward to what our next five years will hold.


Happy Anniversary my love










Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hopper, Homecoming, and Holy-crap-that's-a-lot-of-baking [November Learning]

How in November did I stop accepting crap? I made plans.

I stopped holding myself back thinking "What if we move, what if I have a new job, what if something else changes" and I made plans. I made plans for the weekend of my 5th wedding anniversary. I made plans to go visit my parents in Florida. I started looking at concerts coming to the area (The Lumineers. March. Dying to go.). Is it possible that next week I could be offered a full time job in Lexington, Kentucky and I would start planning to move? Yes, it's possible that I could be offered a position permanently at Hyland, it's possible that nothing at all will change for another six months or more. But instead of letting the unknown hold me back, I've made the conscious decision to keep living and planning my life.



And the overall learning for November lies below:

1.) Aerial Yoga has a weight limit.

And I currently exceed it. That was a wakeup call for me, so I know I've got to do something with my weight. I think I might have to make this a reward for myself, once I lose the weight, I get to sign up for a class.

2.) Homecoming makes more and more sense the longer you're away.

Homecoming weekend seemed a little silly when I was living in Berea after graduation. It was fun to see fellow alumni at church on Sunday, and to catch up and have lunch with former classmates. But otherwise, I didn't do much with it. But this year, going back to campus, attending the Black Music Ensemble concert, heading to the block party, and just spending some time at my alma mater made me feel inspired.


3.) How to make the world a better place.

If you know me well (or at all) you won't be surprised to learn that I did not vote for Donald Trump. And waking up the day after the election to find that he won, to see the fear of my friends who are Muslim, my friends who are afraid there isn't a place for them in the America Trump described on the campaign trail, ignited my need to act. So I focused on some things that I can do. I can respond to people with kindness, I filled out volunteer applications, and I can be informed. I can pay attention to what's going on, and act when something that isn't right happens.

4.) How to make DIY Boot Polish

My poor winter boots have been through a lot with me. All of them are at least one year old, some a little older, and I wanted to make them pretty again without having to go out and buy shoe polish. Thanks to Pinterest, I found that a little Olive Oil with a touch of lemon juice really cleans up and shines up my winter footwear!

5.) Making a pumpkin roll is actually easy.

Every year, mom made pumpkin rolls for Thanksgiving. I've never done it, and in my mind, I always thought it was difficult. This year I volunteered to do the baking, which meant making my first ever pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll, and I was super impressed with myself. The pumpkin roll was delicious, simple, and now I'm looking for some twists to make for Christmas (Red Velvet Roll is looking promising).

6.) Hopper

This app might be my new best friend. Thanks to it, I was able to get round trip tickets to go see my parents in Florida for all three of us for $270 total. 




What did you learn in the month of November?





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things I'm Loving {November}

Happy November y'all!

It's the 15th already, crazy as that seems, which means it's time for a link up of things that I'm loving, and to encourage my blogging friends to join in. Because after all, November is the month of Thanksgiving, what better time is there to think about the things that you love and are thankful for?

Without further ado:

1. Finding Neverland

2. A job that, despite being temporary, is happy to work with my schedule.

3. A little app called Hopper that's watching for the best price to fly to visit my parents.

4. Raising Cane's, Noodle Nirvana, Papaleno's and all my other Kentucky favorite restaurants.

5. Christmas Shopping/Christmas Cards and preparing for the holidays!

6. River of Life church

7. In person time with friends that are basically family.




If you decide to post your own blog of what you're loving be sure to link up below so others can find you and check it out! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Chiropractors, Kombucha and Halloween [October Learning]

How in October did I demand more from my life?

I didn't guys. This month wasn't really my month, beginning with my last remaining grandparent passing away the first week and ending with the combination of memories of my first miscarriage (Halloween 2014) and my parents leaving for their new house and new lives in Florida (16 hours away). But, unlike last year, I did not check out and I did keep moving forward despite things going wrong.

Therefore, while I didn't demand more or stop accepting crap, I did at least hold my ground, and I am determined to make November a better month.

Now onto the regular learning:


1.) Chiropractors are magical.

I've had hip and lower back pain intermittently at least since high school. I finally decided to go see a chiropractor to see if I could gain some insight and explanation, and I did. So now I'm seeing him every couple of weeks to be adjusted, and though right now there are moments I feel like I'm in greater pain, I can also tell where things are definitely improving.

2.) Kombucha

Ira at work started bringing it in to drink in the morning. We started sharing kombucha with a toast, and it's basically fermented tea. Some flavors are pretty good (blueberry has been my favorite thus far.) Others are the type you just shoot down and be grateful for the health benefits (spiced elderberry).

3.) Pale blonde is fun for a night, but could never be a permanent color.

For a Halloween party this year Nathan and I did a couples costume as Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.



What did you learn in October?

If anyone is interested in sharing, I'm happy to turn this into a linkup!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mom Moments (Part 8)

Here's another giggle worthy post of things Jace has said just in everyday, totally unintentionally hilarious ways.


*I decided to try a peel-off face mask*
Jace: What's that on your face?
Me: My skin.
Jace: It's coming off?
Me: Yep.
Jace: That's really creepy mom. *Pause* Can I help??


Pulling into the parking lot at the doctors office.
Jace: You could park there.
Me: No, that spot says for doctors only, and your mommy is many things, but she is not a doctor.
Jace: Yeah. Do you need billions and millions of dollars to become a doctor?
Me: Well, you need a lot of money and doctors have to do like ten extra years of school.
Jace: That concerns me.


Me: Jace you got crumbs on you from your muffin, I need to brush off your shirt.
Jace: They're gonna think I'm a hot mess maker!


Jace: Are you broken?
Michael: What?
Jace: Are you broken?
Micheal: Well, I'm an adult, so yeah.
Jace: Good.

Elise: Jace did you fart?
Jace: Nope, that was Brendan.
Elise: Really? Cause I think it was you.
Jace: No, my uncle is always a stinky boy.



Saturday, October 15, 2016

Things I'm Loving {October}

Welcome to my third month linking up with things that I am loving. In case you don't know what exactly this is all about, here's the first post which helps to explain it.



Without further ado, here's what I'm loving in October:

1. The Lumineer's album Cleopatra.

Patience is such a beautiful and classic song.

2. Green tea lattes with vanilla bean scones for breakfast.

Healthy? Not really. Tasty? Heck yes. 

3. Red hair!

Fall needed something new, and the new this time was my hair. I love it, not too drastic, but dramatic enough to notice! 

4. Scentportables.

My car currently smells like "Beautiful Day" and Nathan's smells like "Mahogany Teakwood." And I got them on sale so they were cheaper than my usual Febreeze vent clips. 

5. New routines.

I created some new morning/evening routines.


6. Corn mazes, pumpkin picking and desserts, and fall traditions!


What are you loving so far in October? Feel free to link up below!



Friday, October 14, 2016

Halloween Flash Fiction: Week Two

Welcome to the second week of my Halloween flash fiction challenge!

_______


I left my teddy bears at the house. Bye bye bears. ‘Cause Mommy said last night we’re not ever going back to that house.


We just moved into the big house not too long ago. Like, before Halloween, and now it’s after Halloween. And now we’re driving away from it to a new house.


OCTOBER 1


It’s big. It’s a big, tall house, and Mommy says we’re going to live here now. I get a big bedroom now with my new big girl bed and I can pick the color we paint. I want red, because red is my favorite color. Mommy tucks me in and kisses me goodnight, and tells me how pretty my blue eyes are that look just like hers. But when I hear something and wake up, there’s no sun outside. But there’s a noise under my bed.


“Moooooom! Mommy! Mommommommommom!” I yell as loud as I possibly can.


“What Lainey? It’s the middle of the night,” she says in her I’m tired voice.


“There’s something under my bed,” I whisper, pointing underneath me.


She kneels down and looks. She tells me there is nothing there, and to just go to bed.


The second time I hear it, she looks again. This time she tells me that if I yell and wake her up again I better be dying. I’m not sure what dying is, but it sounds bad, so when I hear it a third time I crawl down myself.


“Hey you, be quiet, I’m ‘sposed to be sleeping.”


A little girl crawls out from under the bed. She’s just my size, and when she looks at me, she has my face. She’s like a mirror, but her eyes are my favorite color.


“Why are you under my bed?” I ask her.


“I live here.”


“No, I live here now, this is my new house.”


Other me looks confused and sad, and I feel bad because Mommy said making people sad isn’t a good thing and I’m supposed to do good things. So I ask her if she wants to play bears with  me because my bed has two teddy bears.
She crawls up on my bed with me and we play bears till we fall asleep. When mommy wakes me up in the morning I’m in my bed all alone, and when I tell mommy about the other me, mommy smiles and says something about imaginary friends.


OCTOBER 15


Other me won’t meet mommy, and I only see her at night. She’s fun to play with, but Mommy keeps saying she’s imaginary, whatever that is. Mommy is acting really funny. If I walk super quiet into the room she jumps and screams instead of laughs. And she’s on her phone a lot talking to Auntie Taffy about whatever freaky things are and she says the freaky things happen in the house. One time I heard her tell Auntie Taffy that she saw herself chasing her, but then she saw me and shooed me out of the room.


OCTOBER 31


Today is Halloween, but mommy isn’t taking me trick or treating. She says she’ll buy me candy tomorrow, but it’s not the same so I’m mad and sitting in my room. She’s putting stuff in boxes again, and talking about another new house. She comes in to put me to bed, and tells me not to be scared, this is our last night here. I don’t know what she is so scared of. Other me told me that she doesn’t want us to leave. But I don’t know what to say, so we just play instead.


As I lay down to sleep, I hear mommy yelling. Then she screams, I get up and try to open the door but she locked me in. After the scream it’s all quiet, so I guess she saw a spider. Or a mouse, ‘cause mommy really hates mouses. Maybe I’ll dream about mouses, because I think they’re cute.


TODAY


Mommy woke me up today by telling me to get dressed and get in the car. I remember when we’re driving that I left teddy bears in the house, but I don’t tell mommy because I know she doesn’t want to go back.

I look at the ceiling mirror as mommy drives, and then I see her looking at me. Her red eyes look funny in the sunshine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Creating Routines

Losing my grandmother, combined with the impending move of my parents to Florida, and the hunt for answers to my future (my temporary position does eventually end, which means I need to figure out my next move), all resulted in a flair up of depression.



Since I research everything and grew up in the age of technology, one of the tips that resonated with me most was the idea of creating a routine to follow. Literally having something written down to define what I need to do.

Work is covered, between the hours of 7:30-4:30 Monday through Friday my days are scheduled out, meetings are calendared, and if I get lunch I eat and read my book. But the morning and evening, those needed some help to not feel so aimless.








I tried to find calming backgrounds and my plan is to print them and get them displayed in my room.

I'm also going to set alarms for the times I've outlined, which was another tip that I read.

Now, creating a habit is supposed to take 21 days, which would mean needing to follow these for three weeks. So wish me luck!




Friday, October 7, 2016

Halloween Flash Fiction: Week One

I've challenged myself to spend time and energy on my writing, and a couple years ago my good friend Catherine did a flash fiction challenge in October. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I thought I'd copy bits of it, and every Friday in October I will be posting a piece of flash fiction that would fall in the genre of horror or Halloween.

And be easy on me guys, I haven't put this much focus on my creative writing since I was in college, so some of these might be a little rough. However, the goal isn't to write perfection, it is to write, and to better myself with every draft and prompt.

Enjoy!

__________________________________________________________


“I want to be batman!”


“Okay,” her tired voice answered. This was the fifteenth costume idea that had come from her wild five year old. Fifteenth? Fiftieth? Halloween was tomorrow evening, trick or treat was merely 24 hours away, and James did not have any kind of costume.


“We can leave for Target after dinner, I’m sure they’ll have a batman costume for you.”


Wrong. She was so wrong.


“But mommy, I just want to be batman!” the wail came from James.


“Honey, I get that, but the only Batman costume in this entire store is for a twenty-four month old. You are not two, you are five, so it is not going to fit you. I’m sorry, but you have to pick something else.”


“I don’t want to pick anything else, I just want to be Batman! I wanna be Batman, I wanna be Batman, I wanna be Batman.”


Knowing better than to use reason on a five year old who had been denied his way, she purposefully pushed the red cart out the doors and straight to the SUV, telling herself she’d figure it out in the morning, even if it meant sending him out in Batman pajamas with a makeshift mask.


James got home the next afternoon from kindergarten and ran straight to his room to pout. Still angry, she thought, wishing for days where his anger faded within minutes.


Moments later he bounded out, “This costume is awesome mom! It’s even better than Batman. Like, a million times better. No, a trillion times better. No, it’s a bazillion times better! Look at me, I’m a dead skeleton, check out my blood mom!”


It was way too scary for her baby, but he was so happy, bouncing up and down in his blood stained skull mask and bloody bone ribs, that she had to smile. She certainly hadn't bought it for him, and it hadn't come from the box of costumes of years past. It had to have been William, and thank goodness for that.


“You are terrifying sweetheart. Scariest skeleton I’ve ever seen in my whole life! Daddy must have gotten this costume for you, we’ll have to call him later and tell him how much you love it. But it’s time to hop in the car, do you have your pumpkin bucket to get candy?”


“Yes!”


Driving she asked, “What do you say for trick or treating?”


“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!”


“No. Trick or treat, and then thank you.”


“Oh, yeah. Can I still say the smell my feet part?”


“I guess, but remember to say thank you. Got it?”


“Yep. Trick or treat, smell my feet. Trick or treat, smell my feet. Hey mom, my mask is starting to feel kind of tight, can you fix it?"

"Not while driving, I will as soon as we get there."


Upon arriving at the trick or treating neighborhood, James had himself unbuckled in record time, ready for the first house, and checking out the costumes of his competition.


“I’m way scarier than that monster. And that other skeleton, look mom, he doesn’t have ANY blood, I have lots. And, ooh first house, bye mom!”

He'd clearly forgotten about the costume being too tight, he was too interested in trick or treat.


Two hours, and several pounds of candy later, they returned home, James insisting he was wearing his costume to bed. The costume kept looking more and more bone-y, but she blamed it on the dark and let him go. He ran into his room with his two chosen pieces of candy, and the rest went to the kitchen. The phone rang, William was calling.


“Hey honey, sorry I couldn't be there, how did trick or treat go? Thanks for texting the pictures.”


“Oh it went great, he has more candy than he should eat in a year. And thank you, by the way, for getting that costume for him. I never would have thought he’d want something so scary, but he loved it.”


“Um, I assumed you had picked up the costume today, I’d never seen it until you texted me the pictures.”


“You’re kidding, you thought I’d buy him a bloody costume? I still see him as a baby, I’m not ready for him to be scary! Where the hell did it come from then?” She wandered into James room, he was laying on his bed, no blankets covering him, with his mask still on. His two pieces of candy still clutched in his hand, still wrapped. She couldn't see the rise and fall of his chest, worrying her. She reached down to pull the mask off, but it no longer felt rubbery. And it was wet, slick and wet, and when her fingers pulled away they were dark red.

Tossing the phone aside she reached to pull up the edge of the mask, but there was no edge. There was no longer black in the mask, the black was now spaces, and suddenly the skeleton stood. A demonic voice rasped from the skull, “Goodnight mommy.”

Thursday, October 6, 2016

There

I have a pathological need to be sincere and honest. For example, I can't comment "Oh what a cute baby!" when in fact the baby looks like a wrinkly, angry red blob.

To that effect, I cannot say I had a great and close relationship with my maternal grandmother. Grandma wasn't like papa, who was pure laughter and joy, she was a little bit, well, mean. She said what was on her mind, whether or not anyone wanted to hear it, and whether or not it was even true.

My first Thanksgiving coming home from college, I went to see her, admittedly well on my way to the freshman 15. Her first words, before even saying hello, "My God you've gotten fat." That was her, she didn't care if she insulted you on every level, she was going to say exactly what she thought.

But yesterday, at the news of her sudden and unexpected passing, I went through old scrapbooks and pictures. And she may not have always been nice, and she may not have been particularly "grandmotherly" but she was there.



Every birthday dinner we had at the house, she was always there. Complaining that the cake was too sugary, but always at the table. From childhood birthday's with Minnie Mouse, and teenage friends coming over thinking we were so cool.


She was sitting at the table every Thanksgiving dinner, the only one with a cup of coffee, then sitting at the counter and watching mom, Moey and I hand wash and put away the mountain of dishes.

She came to every 4th of July picnic to watch us all on the go karts, came to the Trumbull County Fair just to sit in the stands and watch them prepare the track, she even came to my first drama production where I had a minor role and even dropped a line (she also pointed out that dropped line later. Again, no filter.).

I think that was her way of showing love. She wasn't affectionate in her words, she sometimes slammed doors in our faces, hollered, or even threw food. But then later, she would get over her anger, and she would show up and be present.



And it's hard for me to accept that we will no longer have her presence. She was such a staple, she was just always so there, that for her to not be just feels wrong.

Rest in peace gram, enjoy being with papa once more, I'm sure he's been waiting for you and missing you too the last 11 years.


Friday, September 30, 2016

All About the Words [September Learning]

Words.

That's how I stopped accepting crap this month. September became a month that I intentionally spent time in books: listening to them, reading them, seeking out new authors and new books. And I started writing again. I pinned writing prompts and challenged myself to actually write down some of the ideas for poems, short stories and longer work. I started looking into places to submit writing for publication.

My art is writing, and I wanted to nurture it, and this month I finally started to. 

Now onto the regular learning for the month of September.



1.) There is a collection of books twisted from my favorite Disney tales.

The third book is called "As Old as Time" with the twist that Belle's mother was the enchantress that cursed the Beast. My awesome husband knows the way to my heart (books. And food.) and he got it for me the week it was released. I LOVED the concept. However, my honest opinion was that it could have used some more time being edited and reviewed before it was released. Some of the phrasing just seemed awkward, and the writing style seemed juvenile, even for a young adult novel.

2.) Dedicating yourself to writing is really. freaking. HARD.

I've called myself a writer for ages. And I do write, I write notes and letters, I write blog posts. But my creative writing, all these thoughts and inspiration that float around in my brain, I often do nothing with them. This month, as already mentioned, I decided to do something more with my writing, and it is not easy. Instead of sitting down to write, I found it so easy to get distracted with other work to be done, or being mom, or wandering off to Facebook.

3.) What Should I Read Next? 

I finally gave this website a chance, and it was spot on. I put in a few favorite books, and read through the list of options it gave me. Thanks to the vast library system, I was able to quickly lay hands on Firefly Lane, and loved it.

4.) The Perfect Work Hot Chocolate

With all the coffee and tea in the break room, there are also packets of hot chocolate. Making it with the hot water was a little bit underwhelming, but there is also Coffemate french vanilla creamer sitting on the counter. Two pumps of that mixed into the drink is perfection on a cool fall-ish morning.

5.) Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is not only for kids.

Jace got it, so nurse mommy took care of him, making lots of milkshakes, keeping track of his medicine, and overall just catering to him. He was able to go back to school on Monday, I first noticed little pinprick dots on Monday night. Nope, just for little kids, must be unrelated right? So wrong. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, it is sheer misery in my case compounded with a sinus infection that I was already fighting.

What did you learn in September? How has the first week of fall treated you?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Summer Bucket List {What Did We Do?}

In June I posted a list of things we wanted to do this summer, and since today is the official first day of fall, I thought I'd follow up on that. So what did we do? 

1.) Rock Creek

Check! We caught behemoth the crawdad and other fun critters.




2.) Geneva on the Lake

Madison Donuts and the Arcade, perfection.



3.) Trumbull County Fair

Oh yes, we did the full day fair experience with all the food, the animals, the rides, the demolition derby, and the fireworks.



4.) Cleveland Zoo

We did the zoo multiple times, including through work for a family picnic, which meant food, the carousel, and free face painting. Oh, and Pokemon catching.



5.) Outdoor Movies at Crocker Park 

I took Brendan and Jace to see Big Hero 6, which Jace thought was phenomenal to see one of his favorite movies on the big screen.

6.) Putt-putt

Yep, Jace got to putt putt on a few different occassions, including a memorable night where I felt like I was melting.

7.) Memphis Kiddie Park

We somehow did not manage to do this over the summer, but we have plans to go on Saturday to enjoy!

8.) Camp in the backyard

Every time we planned this, the weather decided not to play nice! I was all for setting up the tent in the backyard, but I was not about to do it in the rain, nor in 100 degree temps.

9.) Make s'mores (we've already done this. But more s'mores y'all!)

Oh yes, we made more s'mores. Jace's prefers them made with Reese Cups, and enjoyed making his own marshmallows and trying not to catch them on fire.

10.) Water balloon fight

It was towards the end of summer that I finally picked up some water balloons, but Jace had a ball with them, and now we have plenty leftover for next summer.

11.) Hikes in the metroparks

Despite my best intentions, we did not do all the hiking that I had hoped this summer, but luckily this is not a summer exclusive activity: hiking is just as fun in the fall!

12.) See Finding Dory in theaters!

Cuddle Party!! Yes, we saw this. And yes, Jace was thrilled with it.

13.) Go to the Drive In

The odds were not in my favor for this, and trying to match up two kid friendly movies on a weekend that wasn't already busy proved to be too hard.

14.) Brandywine Waterfall

Again, this can totally be a fall activity.

15.) Nelson Ledges

We didn't make it here either (I swear I had great intentions to actually do all the things on this list!)

16.) Berea Pool

We tried to get to the pool as much as we could this summer, and thankfully it was open till 8pm, so we could even go some evenings after dinner! Jace got brave and started putting his face in the water, making this mama proud. 



17.) Presque Isle State Park

We didn't make it to Presque Isle this summer, but I think it's okay since we had plenty of other beach time!

18.) Great Lakes Science Center

I have tickets and they have been misplaced! I'm determined to find them though, and when I do I'm going to take Jace to check it out!

19.) Visit Sweet Moses old fashioned ice cream shop

YUM. It was a very fun experience, and my strawberry champagne sorbet was phenomenal.


20.) Days at the beaches of Lake Erie!

Don't worry, we did this as much as possible, because Jace takes after him mama and loves the beach. 



Out of 20 items, we actually did 12. We also raised butterfly's from caterpillars, spend a weekend in Chicago, found the best donuts in Cleveland, took a long weekend road trip to Kentucky, built a blanket fort inside to watch The Wizard of Oz, explored Cleveland, played lots of board games, and ate tons of fresh fruit and summer foods.

And overall, we had a fantastic summer, Jace loved all the experiences he was able to have and I loved getting to spend so much time adventuring with him. Summer is probably my favorite time of year, and Summer 2016 was definitely a win in my book.