Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later...

I was sound asleep in my bed, or at least trying to be.  One of my roommates had already departed for class, and the other was clunking around in the bathroom, oblivious to the fact that I was still in bed.  I dozed off as best as I could, until she popped into my room, a worried look on her face, and the phone in her hands.  It was for me.

"Hello?" I said groggily.
"Hey, it's me," my newly minted ex-boyfriend said.  "Turn on your TV.  Now."
"Why?" I growled.
"Just do it," he said. 
"I'm already doing it." I mumbled irritatedly, stumbling into the living room.  Even though the breakup was mostly mutual, it was still hard to hear his voice and know that we were finished.  Leela already had the TV on, sound muted with closed captioning running as always, her lips moving along as she read the words aloud softly.

I nearly dropped the phone as my hand flew to mouth.

"Holy f*ck," I said.  "What happened?"

That is the question we all asked for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years later.

My roommates and I sat numbly around the television as the chaos unfolded.  One tower fell, then the second.  We cried silently as we watched footage of people jumping from the higher floors, determined to let their end be of their own choosing.  We stumbled through the day in a fog, seeking the comfort of routine as we went to class.  One professor asked us gently if we wanted him to teach, if it would help, but despite our best efforts, the lecture dissolved into nothing.  One girl left the room in tears and we flipped the TV back on, desperate for more information.

I have not personally met or known someone who lost a loved one in the 9/11 attacks, but I have yet to meet a person who was not affected by those attacks in some way.  Ten years later, the horror and shock have dissipated.  The grief is gone, replaced by a dull ache for things long gone.  Those of us old enough to understand what happened that day live with one eye over our shoulder.  We live in fear of each other, of people different from us.  We live a modern day witch hunt.  We live in an age when security is tightened with each passing day, in an effort to keep up safe.  I mourn the fact that my children will never bear witness to some of the things I experienced as a child because they are now deemed threats to our safety.  They will become the "I walked two miles in the snow, uphill, both ways" stories of my generation.  Those stories start with "Before 9/11..."

Is that what it was like when Jesus walked the earth?  Did they tell stories the same way we do now?  "I remember, before Jesus died..."  Or how about Pearl Harbor?  Or when the atomic bomb dropped?  Or when the plague swept through the Europe?  Or the Inquisition?  It seems that we as a species mark our timelines with milestones of horror.  We are forever comparing our lives to before and after that moment when the world stopped spinning and we all become acutely aware of our mortality and the value of life.  It's almost as if we consider these events to be the passage into adulthood, that moment when we lose our innocence and awaken to the brutality of the world.  It makes me wonder what event will transpire in my daughter's lifetime to precipitate the loss of her innocence.  What kind of brutal world will she wake up to?

As we all take time to remember this day in our past, I pray for a better tomorrow.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comfort Cookies

The day started out like any other Sunday.  Got up early, volunteered at church, spent the afternoon doing chores and whatnot.  School here in Austin starts tomorrow and I promised my best friend to help her finish the last of the tasks for her classroom.  As I was getting into her car, my phone rang and I saw it was my mom.  Too much was happening in that moment, so I let it slide to voicemail.

Two hours later when I finally check my messages,  tears sprang to my eyes as I heard my mom's voice:
"Honey, it's your mom.  I wanted to call and let you know that your grandmother passed away in her sleep last night.  Call your dad when you get a chance."  My best friend looked over at me from the driver's seat.
"What is it?" she asked.
My voice trembled. "My grandmother died."
My friend was silent and the tears fell from my eyes as the realization of what I said out loud hit me.  "I hadn't seen her in forever.  I was going to take PTO on Wednesday and go visit her." I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried to think clearly.  The kids in the backseat took notice and my friend's son piped up.
"Mommy, what's wrong with Auntie Kelly?"
"Auntie Kelly is sad, buddy.  She got a very sad message."

The next few hours went by in a blur.  We picked up my husband from work, started dinner, got settled in for the evening.  I suddenly had the urge to bake cookies, something I hadn't done in a couple of months.  It's been so hot and I got burned out on baking that I'd been taking a sabbatical from it.  But all of sudden, it was damn important that I make those cookies.  So important, I sent my husband to the store to go get eggs (I'd hardboiled the remaining ones earlier in the afternoon) and I ended up making my own brown sugar instead of sending him back out again for more.

Creaming butter and sugar and eggs together, I was taken back to the first time I made cookies with my grandmother.  I remembered the feel of her hand on mine as we held the hand mixer together.  I could hear her voice, a hint of Texas drawl as she issues instructions to me.

As I pulled the vanilla and baking soda from the cupboard,  I saw chocolate pudding mix, muffin mix, cake mix, and other baking essentials stored there.  I could see so clearly my grandmother's own cupboard; it was always full of the necessary items to make up a batch of cookies or a cake or jello.  I loved spending time at her house during the summer because it meant I got to make something in the kitchen!  I shook my head as I realized that I had inadvertently been storing things the way she did.

As the dough finally come together, I licked the batter from the spoon. The combination of salt and sweet mixed with the taste of my tears as they sprang unbidden from my eyes.  I scooped a huge piece of dough, shoved it in my mouth and ran for the bedroom, where I crumpled to the floor and bawled as I simultaneously savored the fresh dough melting in my mouth.  All of my memories with her came flooding through my brain in a torrent.

I've lost many relatives over the years, but none has hit me like the loss of my grandmother.  Both of my families of origin haven't been the best at keeping up with each other.  We have a tendency to let our human imperfections get the best of us and go long periods without speaking to one another or not at all.  I haven't been the best granddaughter.  In fact, I was a terrible one.  I lived in the same city, a mere 20 minutes away from her, and yet I visited with her but once or twice a year.  In college, just after my grandmother was diagnosed with congenital heart failure, my aunt paid me to visit my grandmother and help her with the cleaning and chores once a week.  I spent my Saturday mornings scrubbing and vacuuming and running laundry.  Consumed by my own youthful ignorance and emotional issues, I selfishly bowed out.  I know that we shouldn't look back with regret on our actions, but that is one action I regret.  And it's not that I regret missing out on that time with her.  I regret the fact that I let shame and guilt from that decision wound me so deeply that I would go months in between visits when I was older and rediscovered the value of my grandmother.  Had I been a bit wiser, a bit older, and a bit more compassionate, those mornings could have been some of the best I'd ever had.

In the last couple of years, I really tried to overcome that deep rooted self hatred and try to visit with her more often, but it didn't happen as nearly as much as I had hoped.  But despite the fact that I rarely visited her, my grandmother was never far from my thoughts.  I thought about her all the time, I prayed for her all the time, and I would call her more often than I visited.

The last time I called her, it was her birthday last Wednesday.
"You made it to 91!" I teased her.
"I sure did," she said, the tiredness evident in her voice.
"Think you'll make it to 92?" I asked.  She laughed.
"I didn't think I'd make it this far.  We'll see," she said.

We chatted for a good thirty minutes about a whole lot of what seemed like nothing.  Our recent vacation to South Dakota.  Her recent game of dominoes.  The things my daughter was up to and the remarkable cheeky things she's been saying.  Her doctor's visit.  I wished her happy birthday and she asked me to come visit her.  I told her I had PTO I needed to burn, and that I was going to take some time this week.  I asked her when would be a good time to visit and she said anytime but Tuesday - she had a doctor's visit and she was hosting dominoes.  I promised to call her Monday and let her know when I would make it - Wednesday or Thursday.

I booked that time off and I made a note to call her, but apparently, the Big Man Upstairs had other plans.

I wish she would have waited just another week.  I know it's incredibly selfish to say that, but I wanted to visit with her one last time.  I was going to make a blueberry lemon loaf and we were going to enjoy afternoon tea together.  We were going to chat about her past, the things happening in my life now.  We were going to sit and do crosswords or put together a jigsaw puzzle.  Such mundane little things, but they would have meant the world to me, especially if it was the last time we spent together.

My cousin got married the day she died.  My uncle knew something wasn't right when he kept calling to give her updates and she didn't answer.  Maw Maw was a night owl; she never went to bed before midnight unless she wasn't feeling well.  My aunt sent her husband to check on Maw Maw the next morning.  I can't imagine what that phone call must have been like for my aunt.

Fast forward several hours later and I'm sitting on my bedroom floor, tears running down my cheeks and my chest heaving.  My daughter enters and burrows her way into my arms and we both cry.  She has no idea why I'm crying, just that I'm sad and she's sad too.  God bless that little heart of hers!  Billa proceeded to cover me with all of her blankies and stuff every single one of her most treasured dolls and stuffed animals into my arms in an attempt to make me feel better.  I felt all the more terrible for having to explain to her why I was sad.

"Billa, do you remember Maw Maw?" She nods.  I took a deep breath.  "Baby, Mommy is sad because Maw Maw died."
"Maw Maw gone?" she asked.
"Yes," I whispered.  "She's gone to be with Jesus."
"Oh," she replies.  "Maw Maw was sick?"
"Yes.  She was very sick."
"Oh."  She digests this for a moment and then hugs me before continuing to shower me with every comforting object she possesses.  This in turn makes me cry harder and finally, my husband ushers out of the room to let me be.

In the darkening bedroom, the taste of cookie dough still on my tongue, I weep for the woman I called my grandmother.  I weep for the loss of my last grandparent.  I weep for the regret and shame that has cracked my heart in two.  I weep for lost opportunities.  And yet...

The motto associated with my maiden name is Dum spero, spiro - while I have breath, I have hope.  My grandmother was very lonely at the end of her life, her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren spread far and wide.  But she was loved.  And she was strong.  She lasted eight years longer than the doctors gave her, even surviving a bout of breast cancer.  She survived an abusive husband and birthed six children.  She lived a very long life, and produced some of the most intelligent, compassionate, kindest, funniest, creative people I know.  Her life was comprised of many salty moments, and so many sweet.  Chocolate and butter and salt and sugar finally fade from my tongue as I savor that last thought.

Maw Maw may not be among the living, but she will always be in my thoughts, in my heart, and in every cookie I make.

Rest in peace, Maw Maw.  I love you!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

SOUND OFF: The Justice System

They announced today the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial: not guilty.  To be honest, I'm not surprised.  And in an even more honest admittance, I'm actually relieved.

Before you get your panties in a bunch, hear me out.  I've been following the case for weeks, reading just about every article on who was testifying, what evidence was presented, and the commentary about it all.  My gut tells me that the jury chose correctly.  They were presented with evidence, a lot of it circumstantial, a lot of it conflicting, and at the end of the day, they had to make a decision about a woman's crimes based on the facts they were given.

Do I think Casey Anthony murdered her daughter?  No.  Is she responsible for the child's death?  Yes, I think so.  Looking at pictures of Casey and Caylee and reading the testimony of her former friends and lovers, I see a young mom who struggled with motherhood, but ultimately loved her daughter.  I don't see her as a person who would coldly calculate and premeditate the murder of her baby.  I do see her as a person who practiced poor judgment.  She drank a lot, partied a lot, spent the night with lovers and sometimes brought Caylee with her on those excursions.  While those actions in and of themselves are not always bad, in excess they can lead to poor decisions.  And in Casey's case, they most certainly did.

But did the jury make the wrong decision?  Did they fail at their job?  I don't think so and that's why it really frustrates me that a lot of people have already convicted Casey of murder a thousand times over in their minds.  The justice system doesn't work on emotions.  God help us if opinions from Nancy Grace, gossip columnists, or political pundits are ever entered as evidence in trials; when that happens, you best hie theeself down to your bomb shelter because that is a blinking neon sign that America is ending, friends.  (And don't get me started on Nancy Grace; she is entitled to her opinion, but please, take the time to do your research and form your own thoughts before following a sensationalist news anchor.)  I have to laugh when I read comments on the web along the lines of "Those jurors didn't do their job!"  Ahem, actually, they did.  People want to have their cake and eat it too, but if Casey were to be declared guilty today, then it would be a very sad day for democracy and America both.  The legal system was set up in a way in which a judgment could be passed down without an emotional taint.  We are to remain innocent until proven guilty.  Be glad that the system worked properly today!   

For those of you who wish that Caylee would get justice, know this: the rest of Casey's life is going to be hard.  Very hard.  She will be sentenced for lying to investigators and hampering a murder investigation.  She will still serve time.  She still has to deal with the defamation lawsuit with Zenaida Gonzalez as well as any other legalities stemming from the money she stole from former friends.  When she gets out of jail, she will be hard pressed to find a job or a home.  She will be very lonely as most of her friends, and even her own family have deserted her (which on another note, if it's a parent's job to love their daughter no matter what and support her, then it's no wonder that she wasn't the greatest mom herself.  Look at how her family has treated her during the entire thing!). 

And while that may not sound like it's that bad, Casey must live with the truth of Caylee's death on her heart every day until she dies.

My friends, today proved that justice does exist.  It just might not be the way you hoped for.  Imagine if things went the other way: Casey would have most likely received a death sentence, where she would wait on death row for years, receiving shelter, food, and other amenities at the expense of taxpayers until her number came up.  She wouldn't have to deal with the public.  She wouldn't have to get a job to pay back the legal fees and lawsuits.  She'd sponge off the rest of society.  And when she was finally executed, it would be as painless and humane as possible.  Is that really justice for Caylee?  This way is much better, because it will serve to remind a young woman of her mistakes every day.  It will force her to examine her actions and accept the consequences for them.  She will have to grow up and be a big girl.  And who knows?  Mama always said the Lord works in mysterious ways; perhaps he saw fit to give Casey another chance to atone for her sins through suffering.  I can only hope that she will recognize this opportunity for what it could be, and make the best of it.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Billa Babble: It's cool!

I've been catching up on Doctor Who, which I neglected because I just couldn't bear the thought of having to finally say goodbye to David Tennant as the Doctor [sad sigh].  But now that I've fallen in love with Matt Smith, I am eagerly awaiting Season 6 on DVD so that I can catch up on that! 

I mention the good doctor, because he has a penchant for talking about how cool things are and it reminds me of some of Billa's choice phrases to reveal her enthusiasm.  Case in point:

Mommy: Billa, what's that?
Billa: It's a [insert item here].  It's cool.


Mommy: Hey, Billa, I got this for you [random object].
Billa:  Wow, dat's cool!


Mommy: Billa, we're going to go to [insert location here].
Billa: ALL RIGHT!!! [happy dance commences]
And it's pretty much just about everything that gets her excited these days, whether we're going to a friend's house, Target, or the doctor's office (not that Doctor, boo).  Heaven forbid we go to the foodstore though; that apparently doesn't rank high on the cool factor scale for her, unless she gets a chocolate milk afterward and then that *might* be cool.  Whatever.  Maybe it's just as well!

I'm hoping that she'll add other words to her vocabulary, like 'awesome' or 'rad'.  I think 'rad' needs a comeback, don't you?

That's all for now!

Radically yours,

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This One's For You, Pop

Ok, so this story is for my dad.

Dad and I are two peas in a pod sometimes.  We have the same interests, the same hobbies, the same illnesses and ailments.

So this evening, I'm suffering from a cold.  My nose is raw from all the dripping and draining and sneezing and I finally got to the point where I shoved tissue up my nose because I couldn't handle it dripping or blowing it anymore.  Of course, Billa saw me.

"Mommy, you have [mumble mumble something slightly unintelligible] boo-kers?"
"Yes, Mommy has lots of mocos {boogers, en espanol}."
"Mommy have big boo-kers?"
"Yeah.  So Mommy shoved tissue up her nose to keep them from coming out."
"Oh." [Pause] "Like Papa?"

Michael and I burst out laughing then.  Like I said, Dad and I are two peas in a pod.  When our allergies get really bad, the kleenex plugs come out.  (Hey, don't hate!  Appreciate!)  I hadn't realized she'd ever seen him do that, much less make that association.

Leave it to the kiddo to know how to make mommy laugh.

And there ya go, Pop.  Hope you enjoyed that little nugget!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop: Thief in the Night

I lay in the dark, listening to the digital clock tick away the seconds.  

What's that you say?  Digital clocks don't tick?  I beg to differ.  Pregnancy heightens one's senses, allowing a woman to perform feats of strength that would leave Superman sobbing like a little girl.
Digital clocks tick away the seconds (I dare you to challenge a pregnant woman's logic–you're either extremely sadistic or extremely stupid).

I lay there, listening to the digital seconds tick by when my mommysense detected a noise outside.  I sat bolt upright, every muscle in my body on high alert.   The clock read 4 a.m. and I was alone.

My imagination raced, trying to determine the source of the noise.  Somewhere in the back of my head where rationality hibernated, my practical self was churning through an old research paper I'd studied in college about the brain's processes when determining unknown noises, reminiscing about synapses and data assimilation.  Practical Self tried to soothe Pregnant Self, that it was probably a possum or raccoon, they're common in this rural area of Texas, and nothing more.  Pregnant Self shot Practical Self "The Look" and Practical Self mumbled about something in the oven before hightailing it back to the inner recesses of my brain.  Pregnant Self then determined the source of the noise to be a burglar.

I sprang from bed and turned on every light in the apartment, electric bill be damned.  I checked, rechecked, and re-rechecked every lock and window to make sure they were secure.  My mind racing and unable to fall asleep, my blurry thoughts turned to arming myself.  I waddled back to the bedroom and dug under the mattress for my shillelagh.   I crouched under the covers in the blazing bright lights of my bedroom, shillelagh in hand and waited.

The mind is a terrible thing to waste, you know, and despite the irrationality of my Pregnant Self, it was loathe to waste it's mind.  In those wee morning hours, my pregnant brain slapped together a plan of action should a burglar enter the house.  I just needed to hold out until daylight.   But wait, I thought...when daylight came, I'd leave for work.  And what if the burglar came then!?  Holy crap, what if the burglar was waiting for me to leave so they could steal all my stuff?!  Then what?!

I waddled out of the bedroom and surveyed our tiny apartment and quickly appraised all of our worldy goods.  The Xbox, TV, DVD player, our year old Apple computer, the printer, my straightening iron (those things aren't cheap, you know!), all just sitting there screaming to be taken.  I'd be damned if I was going to let anyone think they could take advantage of a pregnant woman!  I racked my brain and stumbled on an idea--I'd record all of the serial numbers and carve my driver's license number into the back of everything.  That way, if the burglar made off with it, I'd be able to recover it since the cops would be able to trace it at the pawn shops.  And just to be safe, I was going to backup all of our files from the Mac so that if the burglar got mad and broke the computer in a fit of anger from not being able to guess my password, I'd at least have that. 

So there I was at 4 am, clutching my shillelagh and burning CD's like a madwoman, chortling to myself about how clever I was.  I heaved and pushed and pulled all of the heavy electronics equipment and diligently recorded all of the serial numbers, product numbers, and hand carved my driver's license number into the back of it all.  By the time dawn stretched it's rosy fingers across the hills, I was crawling back to bed, shillelagh held tight in my swollen hands, my mind finally at rest.

That burglar must have decided I was just too clever for him, because he never did break in.

He broke into my trash can instead. 

Yeah.  But hey, at least I'd finally backed up all of my files!

This post is part of Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.  When I saw this prompt, I died laughing, because what pregnant woman DIDN'T have a moment like this?  The prompt is: "Barefoot and hormonal...describe an incident that upset you when you were pregnant, but now looking back makes you laugh."  And for the record, yes, I really did wake up at an ungodly hour and proceed to document the serial numbers of all our electronics and back up our computer before heading back to bed.   Bless my husband, when I showed him my handiwork the next day, he just shook his head and told me to call him at work next time I was worried.  And also for the record, I learned that handy little trick about serial numbers and DL's on your stuff from the cops.  Growing up, my house was broken into twice, and after the first time, they told us to do that to all our stuff.  It actually worked, because that was how they caught the thief the second time around!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Project - Kitchen Cabinet Redo

Apartments are great, especially if you're not ready to commit to a house and take care of your own lawn, pest problems, and fix the AC when it's broken.  They're not great if you like to decorate and customize your home (unless you live somewhere, like NYC, where you actually BUY apartments instead of rent them).

I've been living in apartments for the last ten years and I think I've gotten pretty clever at learning how to adapt my space and floorplan into something less college dorm and more Better Homes and Garden worthy.  My current floorplan in one of the best I've lived in–it may be small at approximately 700 sq. ft, but I've managed to make it work so far.  We got rid of a lot of things and rethought how to do certain things, like a desk space (we have a built in desk, but it's awkwardly placed across from the kitchen that it's just not feasible for much beyond a bar and craft supply storage) and creating 'rooms' out of a large common area (living, dining, and play).

Since Michael and I got back together and he moved back in late last year, we've been on a quest to organize and downsize, since the space is so small and room is limited.  I decided to start with the kitchen and while the majority of it is organized, I felt it needed just a little bit more color and oomph.  Since it's an apartment, I can't really take out or paint the cabinets, so I did the next best thing...decorate them!


I measured my cabinet fronts and then took some pretty contact paper I found at Target and cut it to fit.  Then after cleaning the cabinet fronts (to remove any is the kitchen afterall!), I peeled it off and stuck it to the front.  I think it made a huge improvement and my kitchen is so much happier now!

Yes, my kitchen is a little in progress, people!

What do you think?


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Afternoon Fun

Since we only have one car right now, I work from home on Tuesdays since Michael has really long (and early) shifts at work. That means that Billa is with me on those days and it can be hard to keep her occupied while I'm busy managing my projects.  By the time 4:30 rolls around and I log off, I know I need to do SOMETHING to occupy the munchkin while Daddy takes a much-needed nap...she's usually bouncing off the walls!

On one such recent Tuesday, we built tall towers with our blocks.

Yes, that tower is nearly as tall as she is!

We went downstairs and drew with sidewalk chalk. Then we raced around the building and up and down the stairs several times.

Finally exhausted by all that action, we came home and sat on the patio to enjoy a popsicle.

(By the way, the tat on her arm is "giant purple horse" aka a purple unicorn–kid loves her ink!)

To my knowledge, it was Billa’s first ever popsicle and she was in LURVE! I bought a popsicle mold last summer when they were on sale and I know now that I need to start coming up with some fun recipes for us to try. I know she’s going to enjoy helping me making and eating them!

We had a fun afternoon killing some time and now that we live in a building with lots of shade around it, I’m actually looking forward to summer afternoons outside now!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Bloggety Bloggety Blog

I've been a bit of a terrible blogger lately.  I only have four followers, half of whom I question whether they really follow me or not, so I figure it's not that big of a deal.  Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things; I would love more followers, but I guess one has to post more often (and more interesting material) in order to garner a following.  I've always marched to the beat of my own drum anyway, so forgive me if my tune is a little more chaotic than normal right now!

I have lots of pictures I need to post, but I keep finding things to distract myself with instead of working on uploading and editing them.  Work, mommyhood, playing chauffeur (having one car in our family is humbling and wonderful and frustrating all at once), more work, baking stuff, birthdays, cleaning, Pinterest, reading, work, and random nothingness.  I'm pretty good at that last one.  No matter how hard I try sometimes, I often find myself easily distracted from something that I really want to do.  Some wise person out there might say that the task in question isn't something I really want to do, but that's not it.  It's fear, really.  I don't do what I want to do, because I'm afraid of failing miserably.  Or succeeding and then failing miserably.  Blech. I've been working on that with my therapist, but I still have a long way to go.

I've been thinking lately, that I'd love to take the blog in a new direction.  I love sharing Billa stories, but with so many other mommy blogs out there, it's kind of hard to make oneself stand out.  That, of course, begs the age old question as to what the purpose of standing out will serve, but it's nice to be validated.  I'm not, by the way, looking for validation on my Billa stories or my own existence.  Ok, well maybe a little, but I don't need a blog to do it.  Besides, as entertaining as my daughter is, I'm not nearly as good at relaying the stories in written word as I am in person.  Blogging killed the live performer.

I know, I sound so cryptic.  Forgive me.  It's just one of those evenings, where everything was so nice and peaceful, and then that little niggling thought crept into my brain and tickled something there that made me introspective and thoughtful and a bit morose.  I do this a lot, actually, just not publicly on a blog.  I figure, what the hey, it doesn't matter.  I'm not running for president anytime soon.  Believe me, I'm the last person you'd want in office.  I think my efforts to change the world would be better spent speaking softly (something I'm still working on, ha!) and carrying a big stick.  Maybe I won't carry the big stick.  I never did like violence much, despite my past propensity to yell and throw things.

Pinterest has tickled my crafty creative side quite a bit lately.  I even went out and got some lumber for a project I wanted to do.  Guess where it's at?  Yep, sitting against the dining room wall.  It's not a huge complicated project, but my energy puttered out.  I got distracted.  Welcome to the story of my life right now!  Now if I could write an award winning and million copy selling book on that, I'd be made.

Speaking of books, I've been trying to read 111 books by the end of the year, but now I'm seriously doubting if that will happen.  I could cheat and read kid's books, but there's no challenge in that.  Last year would have been easy.  But with all my distractions and everything else, I am finding myself lacking in time to get anything done.  I need to really buckle down and get organized because the quiet chaos that is my life is getting kinda crazy.  Oy!

Well, I suppose I've created quite a post now.  Not much of one, but again, my four followers aren't complaining, lol.  I will resolve to try and get those pictures at least uploaded, even if I don't put them in a post.  And I'll think about the direction of the blog.  And my writing. And my life!  Yeah, definitely, all of the above.

Good night, dear friends!  May flights of angels sing thee to thy sleep!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I am soooo addicted to Pinterest!  I’d heard of it before, but I never really looked into it until the other day when I had a little bit of free time during Billa’s nap to catch up on my blogs.  A blogger mentioned an item from it and when I clicked through, my world was rocked forever.

If you’re like me, you’re always collecting little tidbits and snippets of things that catch your eye: a crafty idea, a pretty picture, an awesome quote.  Michael and I are notorious Googlers; we’ll Google some of the most random things and could spend hours researching and reading about them.  Oftentimes we bookmark it so we don’t forget and can come back to it.  Don’t ask to look at our Bookmarks folder,  because it is SCARY.  Pinterest to the rescue!

 The Pinterest homepage

With Pinterest, you basically download this tool into your browser toolbar at the top.  As you scour the interwebs, when you see something you like, you “pin” it to your board, which compiles a catalog of all those pins and tracks back to where you found them.  And the cool thing is it has a Facebook-like air to it; you can follow other people’s boards and repin things that you like from theirs.  You can also comment, like something, etc.  I could spend HOURS on Pinterest.  I admit that I already have.

As it is, I have several boards already.  Interior design, crafty ideas, cakes and cookies, etc.  I make a board for anything and everything that gives me inspiration.  So if I’m feeling a little parched in the creativity department, I need only pop into Pinterest and get those creative juices revved and flowing.  The fastest way to join is to receive an invite from someone who is already on Pinterest.  Otherwise, you submit your email address and name and wait for them to send you an invite to join, which can take a couple of weeks.  I’m not really sure why they do that, but whatever.  I got a quicker invite by liking them on Facebook and posting a request for someone to invite me.  The site is freaking amazing and if you’re the smallest bit creative, you're going to love it!  Not to mention, it’s really nice to clear out that bookmark folder finally. 

Pinningly yours, 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SOUND OFF: 3D Movies Suck

I love just about every movie I've ever seen, except horror flicks, because I absolutely cannot stand paying good money or wasting precious time to watch people get hacked up simply because the director and producers have some sort of sadistic streak that they are trying to play out without getting sentenced to jail.  Ick.  If I want to be scared, I'll go ride a roller coaster.  Or try rappelling off a tall tower.  At least then I'll be scared and empowered!

Michael and I celebrated our 5th anniversary by going out to dinner and the movies.  We both really wanted to see Thor, but the only showing that worked with our schedule was a 3D version.  I gotta tell you, we loved the movie.  Go see Thor.  It's fun, exciting, sweet, campy and well directed (love you Kenneth Brannagh!).  Don't see it in 3D, however.  In fact, please don't see any movie in 3D.  This is a fad that needs to die and quickly!

We've only seen one other movie in 3D (TRON, an equally amazing movie!) and when we came out of that one, I had a migraine for a day and a half.  It's bad enough that I have issues watching movies in pitch black theatres thanks to my eyes doing weird things, but having to wear plastic glasses on top of it was a nightmare.  But we soldiered on thinking that maybe it was just the dark colors of TRON that made it hard.  Nope.  It's just 3D.

Your eye naturally skims everything in lightning fast pace across everything it sees.  It's so fast, you don't realize you do it...until you see a movie in 3D.  Then, you're stuck having to fixate your vision on spot of the screen in order to see anything in focus and then you miss out on all the awesome detail that the CGI guys put together for you.  You're continually forcing yourself to stop that skimming and in turn, you not only miss the detail, you miss parts of the movie because you're too busy trying to focus on what's happening on screen. 

If you've ever worn glasses, you know that when you wear them you have a limited field of vision.  You don't really have peripheral vision, especially if you're almost legally blind like my best friend.  When you wear the 3D glasses from the theatre, you get that same field of vision.  They're supposed to be one size fits all, but these were so poorly fitting that I couldn't see big chunks of the screen thanks to the limited field of vision.  I love details in a movie and I was so bummed that I couldn't take it all in.  I'm gonna buy the dang movie when it releases on DVD anyway, but still.  First impressions mean a lot, Hollywood!

And don't get me started on the price!  We were fortunate to be using a gift card from Christmas, but even then, $30 for a pair of movie tickets moves beyond ridiculous to redonculous.  Especially when I can't even really watch the movie because my head and eyes hurt the whole time!  For $30, we could have gone to Alamo Drafthouse and had dinner, drinks and movie tickets all in one (and if you don't live in Austin, Houston, or Virginia where they have Drafthouses, my condolences).  We recently bought our first Blu-Ray, which inevitably included a 3D Blu Ray version of the movie.  We'll never be able to watch that disc unless we drop a couple grand on a 3D hi-def TV, and a few extra hundred dollars on all the components, like 3D glasses and cables and such. 

Honestly, I don't understand why 3D is such a big deal.  If you ask me, it's a huge marketing ploy and a rip off.  I don't go to the movies to necessarily see special effects (although it doesn't hurt, like with fantasy or sci-fi flicks, of course!); I go for the story and to be entertained.  If I leave a movie theatre feeling stressed, then why bother going at all.  Apparently I missed the memo that rephrased entertainment to mean "make your head and eyeballs hurt, stress you out, and make you feel guilty for spending money on something ridiculous."  If I wanted to feel guilty, I just need to feed my kid candy for dinner.  Much cheaper!  Whenever I see 3D movies, I am not entertained.  I'm just pissed off. 

Hollywood, if you're listening at all, please go back to the basics.  Our world is too full of worries and woes enough as it is.  Please do us all a favor and let us find a happy escape in your embrace!  Or at the very least, take all the extra dough made from ripping us off and donate it to charity for good causes.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Five Years

This time last year my subconscious was beginning to wonder if Michael and I would make it to today, our fifth wedding anniversary. 

Three months later, I consciously mourned the fact that I would never get to celebrate another anniversary with the man I so fiercely loved and hated all at once. 

Today, I am eternally grateful that I was given, no...that WE were given another chance to get here.  It has been a long, hard, sometimes gutwrenching and terrifying road to get here, but I am glad it happened.  I am glad I am here.  I'm glad he's here.  And I am more than glad that we are walking that road together.  Already the bumps are smoothing out and the road is becoming more pleasant!

Tonight, my mother in law will be hosting Billa for a sleepover while Michael and I go out to a fancy dinner and a movie to celebrate this momentous occasion.  I'm looking forward to spending some time with Michael without a three year old wunderkind jabbering/bouncing/swinging/screaming/climbing/asking/snuggling around us.

Tomorrow, we'll continue to take steps on our journey, hand in hand.

Here's to another five and then some!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's been lazy?

Ooh, ooh–me! Me, me me!!!

Ok, to be fair, my therapist would tell me that I haven't been lazy, my energy has simply been focused elsewhere.  It's not like I was sitting on my bum doing absolutely nothing for almost two weeks.  Although if I could figure out how to do that without driving myself insane, I'd be all over that like white on rice.

Instead, my energies were diverted to my trip to Chicago for training.  Part of my recent promotion involved heading to the Windy City (well, one of it's suburbs anyway) for a whole week to edumacate myself on how my company does project management.  It was a lot of fun when I got there, but the few days leading up were kinda hectic.  Packing, worrying that the plane might drop out of the sky (I really hate flying), cleaning, making sure that Billa and Michael would be ok, worrying that I'd experience airplane ear and my head would explode, worrying that something would happen to Billa and Michael, unpacking and repacking, and more worrying.  The plane didn't fall out of the sky (duh), and Billa and Michael were fine.  I did experience one helluva case of airplane ear, but my head didn't explode.  I lost my hearing for about a day and experienced intense migraines, but that was all.  I need to find me some earplugs for next time I fly [shiver].  I did get a chance to visit with one of my relatives who live there and to visit Millennium Park for an hour or so before I flew out.  I gotta say, Chicago in the springtime is GORGEOUS! 

I also celebrated my very first 29th birthday!  Next year, I will be celebrating the first anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I spent the momentous occasion getting a mani and pedi, shopping, and eating junk food until I could burst.  And the best part was that I did it all by myself.  Not that I required assistance for these things.  Sometimes all a girl wants is some alone time, ya know?  My presents included a new case for my iPad, a super cute laptop bag for my new work computer, and the pedi/mani.  My mother in law gave me a really neat solar powered butterfly for the garden that glows at night and Michael's grandmother gave me a fun little ceramic cross that she had for years.  All in all, turning 29 for the first time felt pretty good!  Most of my friends and family were all out of town or otherwise occupado, so there is still more birthday shenanigans to be had this month, hooray!

Mother's Day was equally nice.  I baked enough to feed a small army and then had half the brunch attendees cancel on me due to some stomach bug.  Oh well.  It was a lovely morning with just us and Michael's mum.  Michael and Billa both got me jewelry; Michael gave me a long necklace made of bluish black pearls that I can wear several different ways.  I love me some versatility.  Billa gave me a pink and silver butterfly bracelet that she made at school.  She was so proud of the work her teacher she did. I totally wore it every day the week I was gone!

Now that I'm back home, I'm just kicking back a little bit before the craziness at work and with the baking sets in next week.  Michael and I will celebrate five long years this Friday and Memorial Day is coming up.  It's going to certainly be a busy rest of the month and early summer, so if I've been a little lazy, forgive me.  I'm just enjoying the calm before the storm.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, mamas!

I just love this painting!  I think the name and the image perfectly encapsulates how I feel about motherhood.

Even though I cooked and did some cleaning today (I kinda had to after I accidentally dropped and shattered my Pyrex pie dish...Michael had already left for work, boo!), I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with my husband, daughter, and my mother in law.  We enjoyed a lovely breakfast of bacon, spinach quiche, and mango coconut bread pudding.  My mom was supposed to join us too, but she and my dad were both feeling really ill so they stayed at home.  I hope you two feel better!

A friend of mine who struggled with infertility for years reminded me today that there are many women out there who don't get to enjoy being appreciated on this day.   There are some days when I struggle with my role as a mom and throw temper tantrums when things don't go my way.  No one ever said mommyhood would be easy, but I certainly wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.  So for all of those women who are mothers in their hearts, I offer up a prayer for you today that someday you will know all the facets of motherhood someday.  I pray that if you are struggling with infertility or have lost your child, that you find solace and comfort in whatever God you pray to, and that you are not forgotten today. 

To my own mother, my mother in law, my former step mother-in-law, and to all of my mother figures, I send my most heartfelt love and appreciation to you.  You have made me who I am, for better or for worse, and I am so very grateful to have your influence in my life!

Love and peace,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Billa Bubble Wrap

I finally got my laptop for work yesterday, hooray!  Nothing like getting an electric leash to make you feel so important.  Anyhoo, I didn't have a case for it, so to keep it protected on the way home from work, I wrapped in bubble wrap and put it in the box for the docking station.  Voila, ghetto laptop case!  I pulled it out when I got home to start customizing, hook it up to our wireless network, and answer some emails, when all of a sudden I heard a pop.


Pop. Pop.

Pop, pop, pop, popopopopopopopop POP!

I turn around and Billa had spread out the bubble wrap on the floor and was dancing on it.  Talk about the best. toy. ever!

Now I know what we can do on rainy days...should we ever get some rain :o(

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 100+ Reading Challenge: April

Well, wouldn't you know it, another month is done!

I didn't get as much reading done as I had hoped, but oh well.  The year is still young!

22-26.  Apothecarius Argentum vols 3-8 by Tomomi Yamashita.  The good news: this series is awesome!  I loved it!  I couldn't put it down.  The bad news:  The English translated series stopped at part of volume 9.  Apparently, DC Comics decided to drop the branch that was responsible for translating the series into English for American readers  before volume 9 was released.  And of course, that would be precisely when the sh*t hits the fan in the series and you're left waiting to find out what happens.  So this means that if I ever want to finish the series, I need to brush up on my Japanese or wait a long time for fans to try and translate it themselves.  [sigh]  But it was good nonetheless!

27.  She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem.  This was a very interesting book and a fast read.  In a nutshell, it's Alice in Wonderland in a university physics department and that summary probably doesn't do the story justice.  It was sent to me by a coworker in CT and when I started reading the first few pages, I was like, WTF?!  But I couldn't put it down.  So I kept reading and before you know it, it was 4 am and I had finished the book in about 7 hours.  I say give it a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised!

28.  Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning.  FINALLY finished the series.  And it was totally worth the wait!  It answered all of my questions, had a great ending, and left me on the edge of my seat the entire time. 

So that's my list for this month!  I wish I'd read more, but May is another month!

Happy reading,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter 2010 Recap!

Happy Easter!

This year's Easter was busy, busy, busy!  This year we split our time between Michael's mom and my parents.  We'd visited with Michael's dad and grandparents the weekend before, so that made things a little easier.  We had initially thought we would only visit with Michael's mom since we saw my parents last year, but my grandmother and my Canadian relatives decided to visit with my folks, so that made it a tough call.  It certainly didn't help that I was also performing at the Easter service for church and had lots of rehearsals.  If only we could get another couple of days to recover from all the action!

Anyhoo, we spent a lovely, laid back, low-key Saturday morning with Gigi and a lovely, laid back, low-key Sunday afternoon at my parents after spending an action packed morning at church!  I won't bore you with all the details but we certainly enjoyed ourselves on both counts.

Michael, Gigi, and Billa hanging out on the hammock

Dying eggs at Gigi's!

Our eggs from Gigi' favorites are the purple one in the front and the blue one with the red orange scribbles that Billa made.

Billa hunts for eggs at Boppa and Papa's house with Daddy.

"Look at my eggs!"
I wonder what's inside?

The eggs we dyed at Boppa's house.  My favorite is the tricolored purple, orange and red one in the back.  Apparently my family thinks I should be a professional egg dyer now...ha!

Family members:  If you want to see more pictures from this Easter. you can click here for the Slideshow!

Happy Easter,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Strawberry Pickin'

It's berry pickin' time!

With my Canadian relatives in town this past week, I took them out to Marble Falls for some strawberry picking.  We had such a fun time and came home with lots of berries.  The berries weren't as plentiful or as sweet as last year's, but we still got a good haul and had a wonderful time.  Last year Billa couldn't get enough of eating berries; this year she was content to hold the basket and tell me "thanks" every time I dropped some in.  Silly girl.






When we were done, we got some fresh strawberry lemonade (yum!) and visited the goats that live at the berry farm.  With tummies rumbling, we said goodbye to Sweet Berry Farm and headed into Marble Falls proper for some good ol' Texas home cooking at the Bluebonnet Cafe.  I gotta tell ya, my dinner and dessert stomachs were both overflowing afterwards!  We all ordered pie and I have to say, I was most jealous of my cousin's peanut butter pie.  I know what I'll be making soon!





After eating some of the berries fresh, I made some strawberry jam and pureed the rest for baking.  I'm going to use some of the jam for the angel food cake I'm making for Easter dinner with my folks.  Michael was sad he couldn't come since he had to work, but we're thinking we might hit up the farm for his birthday in June, when the blackberries are ripe.  Either way, I have quite a few strawberries I need to use!



Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Employment Saga Continues...

As this blog post title suggests, things are still wackadoodle with the whole job thing.  I've signed the paperwork and everything for my promotion at work, but it's still going to be a couple of weeks before they get me going on the training.  I thought they were leaning towards NOT sending me out of town for training, but it looks like maybe I was wrong.  So I still have to be prepared for traveling, but it looks like that will be at the end of the month or beginning of May, right around my birthday.  Either way, whatevs.  I'm just glad I don't have to travel next week when my family is in town to visit with my grandmother!

Michael's last day with Borders will be this Thursday.  [sigh]  I'm happy and sad at the same time.  I'm obviously sad because of the loss of his job, but things at Borders became stressful really quickly and it's like walking into a sea of doom and despair in there.  Unfortunately, customers see a liquidation and turn into total jerks.  It also sucks seeing your store trashed every day and pieces of it being carried out by people acting like vultures.  Such is the way of things, I guess. 

We are so blessed however, that an old colleague of Michael's gave him some hours at World Market.  She told him yesterday that she was able to find him some more, so starting next week, he'll be hanging around the 'Market a lot more often!  Which is dangerous, because I'm seriously jonesing for some new dishes and furniture [grin].

Michael is still looking for something more permanent though.  He's had a few interviews, but no bites yet.  I'm proud of him, nonetheless.  He's done a great job with his resume and really getting out there to sell himself.  I know how hard it is, and I don't envy him one bit.  I pray that something will come out of it all though!

It's another week and another day; we'll just continue to take one step at a time.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

I FINALLY got word!  It's official, I am now a project manager!  I actually received a phone call from my boss last Friday letting me know my approval went through, but I didn't get the paperwork until today.  At this point, we will be staying in Austin at least until December for sure.  The higher ups decided to put the Atlanta expansion on hold until Q4, so we wouldn't be relocating until end of 2011, early 2012, if we relocate at all.  To be honest, I'm kinda glad.  As much as I loved the idea of going somewhere new, I think I need to work up to that.  I'd really miss my family, my friends, my church, and everything Austin if we were to suddenly relocate.  At least this way, I have more time to relax, visit with family, and explore my hometown even more.  And if we never relocate, no worries!

We're still waiting for Michael's job situation to change, but he at least picked up an extra part time gig at World Market in the meantime.  Once we figure out the whole transportation thing and his job, we can then figure out the child care thing.  One thing at a time I guess! 

I'm happy that I finally have something to orient myself with.  It can be so frustrating not knowing which way to go or where you're going.  I am so grateful for this new opportunity to explore a different career path and I look forward to the challenges it will bring.  We will continue to take each day at a time, just like we have been for the last few months, and really try and listen to what the Big Man is trying to tell us.  Again, that whole lesson in faith and trust and just going with the flow.  Well, I'm listening!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Bento Lunch Week 1

Heeeelllloooooooo, weekend!  So glad you're here :o)

This week I challenged myself by going bento for lunch every day.  Well, almost every day.  We had an in person training from our HR rep, who's actually based in LA, so the company ordered in lunch for us on Tuesday this week.  Yum!  I have to say, the focaccia sammich with spinach, bacon, turkey, and some sort of white cheese (provolone, perhaps?) with a chipotle mayo from Jason's Deli was pretty darn tasty.  And yes, I braved it and ate the mayo.  Shocker, I know! 

Anyhoo, here is my bento showcase for the week.  It was actually a lot of fun to plan out what I was going to eat and to arrange it in my tiffin box, which I finally used!  Michael bought it for me for Christmas from World Market and I just adore it.  It does have it limitations – you can't put it in the microwave and the circular shape prohibits some foods from fitting properly – but on the whole, it's a great little lunchbox.  It's really helped me manage my portions and be conscious about what I'm eating.

If you're interested in getting one, they retail for about $10 at World Market and are dishwasher safe.  The top bin is pretty dang tight, so you could even transport soup or other liquidy foods without issue.



Bottom layer: Spring mix salad with shredded rotisserie chicken, dried pears, candied almonds, orange cherry tomatoes, and a pear Gorgonzola vinaigrette (in the blue lidded container to the left).
Top layer: Chocolate chip cookies, cucumber slices, orange cherry tomatoes, string cheese, honey wheat pretzel rods. 



The office bought lunch.  YES!  But my homemade dinner of bacon shrimp with cheesy grits and baby spring peas was way better ;o)  Recipe came from Kevin and Amanda.  A little salty, but oh my heavens, it was sooooo good.  Especially when paired with the Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve there's a good Chard to keep around!



Bottom layer:  Quinoa and black beans with shredded rotisserie chicken, and baby carrots.
Top layer: Honey wheat pretzels, cheese stick, green grapes, strawberries, and raspberry fig bar.



Bottom layer: Homemade mac and cheese using "bat pasta" (really just bowtie pasta, but Billa calls it bat pasta, lol!), shredded rotisserie chicken, spring peas.
Top layer: Dried apricots, raspberry fig bar, blue corn tortilla chips, shredded mozzarella and colby jack cheese.  I made nachos out of the cheese and chips for a mid-afternoon snack.  OMG, it was awesome.  I nuked it in the microwave at work for about a minute on half afternoon. snack. EVER! I'm totally doing nachos again next week.  Maybe I'll add some black beans this time and make it my main meal!



I discovered the limitations on spacial intelligence of my tiffin box for today's lunch.  I ended up using an old tupperware container container instead which worked beautifully!  In it I stuffed: (counter clockwise from top left) Muenster cheese, pita pocket bread, cucumber slices, roasted red pepper hummus, shredded rotisserie chicken, raspberry fig bars, and dried pears.  The honey wheat pretzels sat on top of everything once it was packed.

So there you have it.  I'm going to try and pack bento again next week.  I'll keep you posted on my ideas, but so far, I think I have an Italian/Mediterranean theme going on lately.  I'm going to try and actually make some sushi or simple Japanese stir fry to throw in next week.  Whatever I do, I am so excited about bento!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 100+ Reading Challenge: March

Below is the summary of books I read in February for the 2011 100+ Reading Challenge at Overstuffed Bookshelf.  I didn't read too many since I had a lot going on this month, but every little bit counts!

19 - 20.  Apothecarius Argentum vols 1 & 2 by Tomomi Yamashita.  I would classify this as historical fantasy shojo manga.  Fun series about a reluctant princess who reencounters a childhood friend and the complications that arise, due to the fact that this friend was once her food taster.  He's hot, all grown up, and works as an apothecary.  The catch?  He was trained since birth to swallow poison and as a result, his skin is poisoned.  I can't wait to pick up the rest of the series!

21.  The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman.  Remember the Golden Compass?  Yeah, same author, same provocative take on religion.  The style was kinda similar to reading the Bible, but a little more fleshed out and gives a different perspective on the Gospels.  Regardless of your religious views, I think this is a fascinating commentary on how stories get started and it was very well written.  It definitely provokes the reader to ask questions and dig deeper into the story.

So there you have it!  Hopefully I will have a much longer list of books for review next month.  I have a bunch of non-fiction books I started but haven't finished; those always take FOREVER for me since I don't tend to get into them as much as fiction.  What can I say?  I like to lose myself in fictional settings!

Happy Reading,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Saturday

Spring is here to stay in central Texas and there was no way we could stay inside on such a gorgeous day!
Let's go already Mama!

We spent the morning going to our favorite garden store, Natural Gardener.  Even though my lemon tree is awash with blooms and my mint has grown back, we needed some more green to add to the patio.  Problem is we have a lot of shade, so we needed to chat with the folks at NG to find the right plants.  We got some really beautiful plants to pot and I am really excited to see how they grow.


While we were there at Natural Gardener, we spent some time visiting with the goats and chickens.  Billa loves visiting with the chickens and we got a cute video of her talking to the chickens with Daddy.



After we dropped Daddy off at work, Billa and I headed to Lowe's to get some additional planters and then to Target to grab a few other things.  Our Target recently expanded it's gorcery area, and there was a giant cow statue out in front of the store.  Billa was so excited, it's not even funny.  Here we are posing with the cow and mooing.



We capped off of our Saturday with a family dinner since Michael's dad was in town.  We went to Guero's and enjoyed enchiladas, tacos, and margaritas while visiting with Auntie Cait, Auntie 'Chele and Uncle Kevin, and Zeydi.  Before we knew it, it was time to go home.

Today we are cleaning house and finishing up our planting.  I'll be sure to post some pictures of the patio when it's done!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Waiting...

I had my second interview at work today for the PM position.  From what I gleaned, we will now most likely be staying in Austin.  One of the PM's that recently went on leave decided not to come back, and so her spot is open and it makes more sense to put me there (assuming they offer me the spot, of course!) than transfer me cross country.  I'm a little sad by that, because moving someplace new would have been a grand adventure, but Austin is a fantastic place and I do love it here.

I have to admit, that there is a certain amount of relief in knowing we most likely won't be moving.  I don't have to pack up all of our stuff or hire movers or try to hammer out the logistics of it while trying to adjust to a new workload.  I don't have to worry about finding a new church, or new doctors, or making new friends, or find a daycare for my daughter in a strange new place.

Of course, they could still decide to transfer us and if so, well, then I'll just suck it up and figure it out!  And we're still playing the waiting game.

Michael found out that his Borders will be open for about another week.  We knew that it was majorly optimistic to hope for it to stay open into April, and there is the possibility that while the storefront may close, he may still be working for a couple of weeks after that to pack everything up, sell the last of the fixtures, and shut it all down.  It sucks, but at least it's a little bit more finite information.  Since we will most likely be staying here in Austin, it means that Michael can be looking for a more permanent position in the meantime.

Everything is still in limbo, but I feel resolution coming and I can taste it on the tip of my tongue.  It's proof to me that the Big Man is listening.  I've been praying for patience and for something, anything to come in the way of relief.  While it's nothing with a huge fanfare, it's enough to calm my soul and keep me at peace.

Whatever happens, happens!


Sunday, March 20, 2011


It's been a roller coaster around here lately.  Our life seems to be composed of nothing but waiting.
Waiting to see if I get promoted to PM and if we'll be relocated to Atlanta.  Waiting for Borders to close and see what job prospects Michael has.  Waiting for upcoming events and parties to occur.  Waiting for old wounds to heal.

We're stuck in limbo and it's driving me crazy.  I've been praying for patience, but I'm failing miserably at it.  I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere in all of this about enjoying each step of the journey blah blah blah. 

Meanwhile, back in reality, I'm trying to keep myself occupied by writing, spring cleaning the house, reading, and being social with people.  I've really enjoyed visiting with friends and family lately, something that we hadn't been able to do for a couple of months since the liquidators at Borders kept scheduling Michael for closing shifts.

Currently, I'm on a mission to declutter the apartment.  It feels heavy in here most days, and I think it's because of the crap we have.  We haven't really deep-cleaned in some time and we've been accumulating more stuff: the rest of Michael's things from when we were separated, books bought on clearance at Borders, toys and clothes from Christmas and Billa's birthday, and more.  I can't function and focus in clutter.  I think getting rid of a lot of things will help us to calm down, relax, and maybe allow some positivity and good energy into our lives. 

The process is made harder not by getting rid of things, but because we find things that cause old hurts to bite all over again.  We weren't very organized during our separation, so it's hard to know what you'll find in a box or a bag.  I wish we could just chunk it all into the trash, but we have to gather receipts and other important papers for our taxes.  Part of me wonders if it's more worthwhile to take the financial hit than the emotional one.  Would ignorance be bliss right now?

Despite the difficulty and frustration we're experiencing, it's given us an opportunity to see firsthand just how much we've changed and what else we need to work on.  We've come a long way, but there is still a long way to travel and it's hard to place faith in the process sometimes.  Perhaps that's the lesson in all of this: learning how to trust openly–ourselves, each other, and God.  I hope that I can move closer to that goal; I think my life would be much better for it. 

I pray that we'll get answers soon.  I know God will provide for us just as he always has.  In the meantime, it's yet another waiting game. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Red Dress Club: Detour

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

“Rachel!” Dr. Smith breezed into the room, interrupting her thoughts. She usually enjoyed his upbeat nature, but today Rachel wanted nothing more than to smack the smile off his face.

She’d spent hours offering up her vital fluids, her anxiety ratcheting up until she thought she’d explode. Her phone buzzed with incoming emails, text messages, and missed calls, further aggravating her migraine. Her face felt warm and she was certain her blood pressure had risen 100 points in the last fifteen minutes. The phone buzzed again.

“Do you need to get that?” Dr. Smith asked cheerfully.

“No,” she said sharply.

“I’ll get right down to it then!” he chirped. Rachel leaned forward, her manicured fingernails threatening to punch through the blue vinyl on the table.

“Good news, Rachel. No cancer!”

She blew out a breath of air and relaxed. No cancer. She was fine! Or was she? She frowned.

“Then what is it?” she asked.

He grinned. “You’re pregnant!”

“Wait, what? You mean, I’m going to have a baby?” She grabbed his arm, eyes narrowing. “Are you sure?”

Dr. Smith’s face softened. “I know this is unexpected,” he said gently.

“I can’t be pregnant! How did this happen?” she exclaimed, her voice rising.

He shifted awkwardly. “Uh, well—“

“I know how the reproductive cycle works, Doc,” she snapped. “I meant, how could this happen to ME?” She stared at her hands.

“It could be worse,” he reminded her. “I’ll have the front desk pull a list of doctors for you in case—,” he paused, searching for the right words. “In case you wish to go a different route.” He exited the room.

A baby. This didn’t make sense, she thought.  She couldn’t be a mother.  She didn’t have a maternal bone in her body.  She never babysat.  She wasn’t married.  She didn’t even have a boyfriend!

She felt disoriented as she donned her carefully folded Armani suit.  Her designer wardrobe!  The six figure salary!   She wanted to run back to her corner office as fast as her Jimmy Choo’s would take her. This wasn’t part of her plan to conquer the advertising world.  She’d worked hard to get here; she couldn’t throw it all away now.  She wasn't ready for this.  She clutched her belly and fought the urge to vomit.

Swallowing her guilt, she made her way to Billing.  She quietly placed her credit card in the receptionist’s waiting hands, signed the receipt and shouldered her purse.  The woman pushed a manila envelope towards her.

“What’s that?”

“The list Dr. Smith promised you.” Rachel searched the woman’s face, but couldn’t find anything.   She sighed.

Something bumped into her as she took the envelope. A pair of green eyes, sparkling with mischief, peered up at her.

The little girl was angelic with her round cheeks and soft golden curls pinned back by a huge pink bow.   She grinned at Rachel and ducked behind her legs.  Tiny warm hands gripped her knees, surprising Rachel and forcing the breath out of her body.

“Callie, where’d you go?” a voice called.   A woman appeared and Rachel stood frozen, watching her with widened eyes.  The child giggled.

“Callie!” the mother admonished. “I’m so sorry!” she apologized to Rachel. She scooped up little girl scolding her.   Callie looked back at Rachel and waved.

“Ma’am?” the receptionist asked, breaking into her thoughts.

She stared at the envelope clutched in her hands and laid it on the counter gently.

“Thanks, but I don’t think I’ll be needing this.”

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood. This week, we were asked to write a 600 word piece (fiction or non-fiction) about a time when we took a detour: where were we going and where did we end up? As always, constructive feedback is most appreciated!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Red Dress Club: Ugly as Sin

“We are NOT keeping it.”

“Please?” Myra’s hazel eyes begged.

A dog, she called it, though it hardly resembled one at the present moment. Its ears were torn, tail crooked, and fur caked in mud. Mud that also caked my daughter’s new dress and freshly cleaned kitchen floor. The “dog” snuffled and ran a pink tongue over its nose.

“Did that thing just eat its boogers?” I asked in disbelief.

Myra snickered. “It’s a dog, Mom! Isn’t he adorable?” She pressed her dirt-streaked face to his and was rewarded with sloppy kisses.

I fought back the urge to vomit.

We’d wanted a dog for some time, but my heart was set on a Black Lab or German Shepherd, the sturdy farm dogs of my youth. I wanted a large dog with glossy fur and excellent breeding. Not only was this dog’s parentage a mystery, he was small, crusted in filth, and looked like he’d hit every branch of the Ugly Tree on the way down.

I wanted an All-American dog, not an All-American reject.

“Where did you find it?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even.

“In the park. Another dog was attacking him and I saved him!” she said proudly.

“You got between two fighting dogs?” I gaped. “Myra, that’s dangerous!”

"Mom, he would’ve been torn to bits!” she argued.

“He already has, if you didn’t notice.”

“Don’t worry, once he’s cleaned up a vet can fix it!”

“He’s ugly as sin! Nothing can fix that!” I protested.

Ignoring me, she carried the dog to the sink and filled it with soap and water. I rolled my eyes and set about mopping the floor. Patience is a virtue, I reminded myself.

After a few minutes, I snuck a peek at Myra’s progress. She sang softly as she scrubbed, and I paused to watch.

A ray of sunlight caught on the flaxen highlights in her hair and dust motes swirled in the air. I smiled, remembering the word Myra used for them as a toddler: fireflies. She would jump and clap her hands trying to catch them, leaving me in tears from laughing so hard. Now on the cusp of adolescence, the buds of breasts beginning to swell under her clothes and baby fat melting away, my chubby toddler was a young woman.

Bubbles zoomed skyward as the dog slipped in the water and he snapped at them. Myra laughed, that deep belly laugh I rarely heard these days, and I should have known then that I’d lost.

Watching her bathe the dog, the trappings of adolescence fell away and for just a moment, I got my baby back.

I wiped a tear away and sighed, startling Myra. The pre-teen mask snapped back into place as she watched me warily.

The dog’s tongue lapped at my fingers as I examined her handiwork. His sparkling white fur was dappled with black patches. He didn’t look half bad now that he was clean, but he would need some work. I cupped his face with my hands and stared into liquid brown eyes that mirrored my own gratitude and love. How could I refuse him when he’d given me something I thought lost forever?

“I think Waverly would be a good name.” I said slowly. “To match his tail.” I gently ran my finger over the kinks and he barked happily.

Myra stared openmouthed.

“You mean I can keep him?!” she shouted. She swung the pup in her arms, flinging water across the kitchen. “Hooray! Mama says you can stay!”

I’m such a sucker, I thought.  But it was worth it.

Word Count: 600

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club.  This week's prompt asked us to write a 600 word maximum piece about something ugly–and to find the beauty in it.  Feedback is much appreciated!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Billa's 3rd Birthday Recap

We finally got around to celebrating Sybilla’s birthday!

Beautiful girl!  I love this picture!

I wish I had more pictures, but unfortunately, my camera went unused, since I was socializing and having such a good time that I totally forgot to use it!  So family members who are reading this and have pictures, please send them my way :)

Michael: "Psst! Billa, you have something on your lip."
Billa: "WHAT?!"

We kept it pretty simple and limited it to family with just a couple of friends.  We had a Scooby Doo theme, so Billa’s Scooby Doo lunchbox, beanie baby, and action figures got in on some of the décor.  I always hate it when I’m left with nothing but knives at the end of a party, so I told myself I wasn’t going to serve any food that required flatware.  We served orange creamsicle cupcakes, Oreo truffles, sugar cookies, fruit skewers, sushi, chips and dips, cheese, and veggie crudités.  It was perfect for a tea time get together and clean up was super fast, which made visiting afterwards very enjoyable indeed.  And I admit, I did not bake the cupcakes from scratch, although the frosting was homemade.  That’s just non-negotiable in my book!

Zeydi is being silly!

The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful and our friends Kellie and Anthony were gracious hosts to let us use their home for the venue. They’d mowed the yard and set up a bunch of chairs around the fire pit for everyone to sit in and the atmosphere was so relaxed.  The kids played on the swing set while the grownups visited with one another.  We nixed singing “happy birthday” and lighting candles since people couldn’t wait to eat cupcakes, but we did sit around to watch Billa open her presents, which was funny, since all the kids jumped in and were unwrapping stuff together.  Billa, Madeleine and Cameron are thick as thieves and I will be sad for the day when they stop being so nice to one another at present time!

Mommy helps Billa unwrap her presents

Billa showing off her new apron from my friend Anna to Michael's mom

Billa received a play kitchen from the Marino family.  Their kids had outgrown it and we’d been looking at some for Billa anyway, so it worked out perfectly.  She also received a new big girl car chair from Michael’s dad (who drove here and back from Oklahoma in one day!), some books, a new Scooby Doo movie, and lots of cute dresses and clothes.  My friend Anna also bought an adorable apron for Billa, which tied in wonderfully with the play kitchen.  Of course I want one for myself now, lol!  We hadn’t expected any presents, and we are so grateful for all of the things that Billa got.  She is well loved and we are blessed to have so many friends and family around us.


Here’s to another year, Sybilla!

Love, Mommy & Daddy

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Dress Club: The Adventures of Capt. Marius, Esq.

With a strong breeze filling her sails, the Queen’s Key raced homeward at a merry clip.  Heavy with goods pilfered from Spanish ships, we were riding high on spirits in the bright August sunshine.  The waves crested gently across our bow and God willing, we’d be home before Michaelmas.

But as quickly as we’d left port, the waters darkened and the swells grew higher. The blackening sky felt heavy and the winds gusted violently.

“Hurricane’s a-coming!” the crow’s nest called.  The crew threw their weight into the lines as the ship strained against the sea.  Rain stung our eyes and the decks quickly became deadly slippery.

“Man overboard!” someone screeched.

“Tie your lifelines!” I shouted, but the words were thrown back into my mouth by the wind.  I struggled to keep the wheel steady as the Key tossed about, but alas, it was too much!   Blinded by rain and mist, I couldn’t see the rocks ahead and the wheel was torn from my hands.   The ship shuddered and groaned, splitting in two.  The crew screamed as we were pitched into the swirling water.

Desperately searching for flotsam to cling to, I winced as my face smashed into rock by the crashing waves.  My hands gripped an outcropping and I clung to it, exhausted.

The wind tore at my back and despair settled like a stone in my belly.  How much more could I take? Where were my men?   I strained my ears for their cries, but the wind screamed, whipping around me.

Suddenly I heard a voice above the wind’s howl.  Could it really be?  Was someone else alive?

“HERE!” I cried. “I’m here!”

“Captain!” the voice called, soft and soothing.  I stiffened.  Something was wrong.

“Curse you!” I shouted. “I won’t be swayed by a siren’s song!”

“Captain Marius,” the voice moaned louder. “Come with meeeee!”

“Never!” I hugged my rock as I watched with dismay as the rest of the Key sank beneath the roiling water.  The crew, the goods, my ship, all lost!

“Captain Marius,” the voice tried again, this time with urgency.

“No,” I whispered, shutting my eyes tightly and scrambling further up the rock. “No, I won’t go!” I shouted.

“Don’t be silly,” the voice crooned. “The storm is leaving. Loooook!”

I opened my eyes and blinked. The siren spoke truly; the water WAS ebbing away.

“This can’t be!” I cried. “What’s happening?”

“It’s called ‘bedtime,’ Missy May,” Mama’s voice thundered.

“Who is this Missy May you speak of?” I growled. “I’m Captain Marius, the fiercest sailor on the seven seas!”

“You’re certainly fierce!” she laughed. “Come on, out of the tub!”

“Never!” I shouted, diving back under the water. It swirled around me as I searched the bubbles for the plug. Mama snickered and I looked up to see it dangling from her hand.

“I’ve changed my mind.” I scowled. “You’re not a siren. You’re a harpy!” I screeched.

Mama cocked an eyebrow and placed her hand on her hip.

“Out. Now.” Her tone was icy, dripping with venom. I pouted as I climbed out of the tub. Definitely a harpy, I thought.

I stood naked and shivering as she toweled me off, combed my hair and dressed me in my jammies. Captain Marius wouldn’t complain, neither would I.   Mama washed the suds down the drain, carefully placing my toy boat at the back of the tub to dry.   As she carried me out of the bathroom, I took one last look.

“I’ll be back, me hearty,” I whispered as the light flicked off.

Word Count: 593

This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club. This week's prompt was to write a 600 word piece - fiction or non-fiction - inspired by one or both of these statements: "Water gives life.  It also takes it away." 


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