Thursday, December 15, 2011

The advent calendar

There are two things that I distinctly remember about Christmas time when I was growing up: the Ray Coniff singers and the advent calendar. Luckily, there are several radio stations that play Christmas music 24/7 so I get my fill of Ray Coniff, and we do have an advent calendar to help get us to Christmas. But the calendar at our house has left me wanting. It's not horrible,it's cute. It's a snowman with little pockets where a miniature snowman can rest from day to day on his way to the big 25. Sometimes there is a candy waiting inside the pocket, and sometimes, like this year, there is a small note explaining some act of kindness to perform for someone else that day. My kids seem to like it alright,and somehow the snowman continues to move down the line, but to me it is a sorry excuse for an advent calendar. First off, it's a snowman. Talk about political correctness. For all we know, we could be counting down the days to the winter solstice or New Year's Eve or the first day of spring. Yes, there are little pictures on the pockets displaying Christmas-y things like wrapped presents and candy canes, but I just don't like it.

You see I'm spoiled because growing up we had the best advent calendar around. My mom made it out of felt, fabric and lots of glitter. It had a large christmas tree sewn against a felt backdrop, and below the tree lay a calendar with an ornament pinned on each day. Before the sun even rose in the sky, whoever's turn it was, would unpin the glittery felt ball or red and white striped candy cane or stocking, and pin it to the tree. Then we'd take one of the felt dates stuck to masking tape which had been re-stuck with whatever tape we had lying around, and place it on it's appropriate spot on the calendar. To see the tree fill with ornaments, and watch the dates spread across like an army of little number ants gave me twice the thrill. The anticipation was almost more than I could stand!

When I ask my kids about getting a new one, they seem uninterested. "We love our calendar," they tell me.

I squish my nose up in confusion."But it's just a snowman," I remind them. They don't seem to mind.

When I travel home and see the homemade felt calendar of my childhood with the glitter nearly gone, the felt coming up in places, the taped numbers smudged and barely sticking, I wonder what I saw in it myself. Yes, it was a simpler time, but that calendar had seemed magical to me.I stare at the little ornaments and felt-made presents for hours. My kids think it looks homemade and old-fashioned. They're right, I guess,I sigh.

Lucky for me,I still have the memories. And when you think about it, it wasn't about the calendar, really, but the season itself that made people more merry and gay. And no matter what the advent calendar looks like or what famous person is singing "Winter Wonderland" the spirit of the season brings it's own pixie dust of magic over whatever decorations you adorn your home with. And each time you admire your tree or the shiny ornaments or move--as in our case--the little snowman to the next pocket thereby bringing you one day closer to Christmas, a spark lights in your hearts. That's the magic of the season, the whole reason the Grinch was able to grow a heart at the end. It isn't about the packages and boxes and bags!Or the tinsel and the lights, but about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ that brings us joy and peace in this season no matter what kind of calendar you have. What a wonderful and beautiful message of hope!

I still want a new advent calendar. I don't think one like I had growing up would be that hard to make. I would change a few things to make it a little more ergonomically friendly, but I can't help but think anything would be better than a snowman counting down the days till Christmas. But that's just my opinion.

According to Mr. Snowman we are over half-way there. So Merry Christmas everyone. And may each of us remember the real reason for the season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. "We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

I saw this quote today and thought it was worth sharing.

We all have fear, or at least most of us do. I have a lot of fears. Fear of yelling at my kids right when someone rings the doorbell. Fear of calling people on the phone. Fear that I will spend too much money at the grocery store, or Macy's or Target or TJ Maxx or any other store. Fear that no one will read this blog, or read my books. Fear that no one will like my books. Fear that those monkeys on Wizard of Oz will come into my room at night and whisk me away to their evil castle and then throw apples at me all night long.

Anywho, the point is this: I love to act. I love to write. I love to sing. And for the past 17 years I have avoided most of these things out of fear. Fear that if I go to an audition there will be someone better, prettier, thinner, taller, and just flat out more talented than myself.

Well, guess what? Of course there will be...but so what? I went to an audition today with all of those thoughts tumbling around my head and guess what, there was a very pretty woman dressed similarly to me and let's just be honest, she was all of those things. A tall toothpick with an amazingly gorgeous face. And there I sat feeling inadequate, plain and under-qualified. But I didn't run out of the room. I stayed, did my part and left feeling pretty darn proud of myself.

Something happened this year. I turned 37 and I shed some skin. That skin that keeps us from failing, but also holds us back from succeeding. I grew some thicker skin, too. It's called, "I like me as I am." So I took an acting class, auditioned for a student film, and even got a part in it! Since then I've been involved in several other projects and I can see more in my future. I had fun today. I'm glad I went, and whether or not I get the part isn't as important as conquering this paralyzing fear I have had for many many years.

My advice for tonight? Do something crazy. Shed some skin. I didn't say clothes, mind you, I said skin. Keep your clothes on. This is a family show, after all.But there is something to that old adage that underneath all those clothes we are all naked. Helps to keep things in perspective as far as feelings of inadequacies. (I don't mean that in a dirty way of course) Come on, you know what I mean!

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ode to Idaho. My home sweet home

I saw this on Facebook this morning and had to send it on out. Since my upcoming Novel, "The Sand Bar" is based in my hometown of St. Anthony, Idaho I couldn't help but laugh at this very accurate description of life in the Gem State. It was originally written by Jeff Foxworthy as a description of Alaska, and some fine folks could see how it was an accurate description of Idaho, so they did a little tweekin' and passed it on to us. Enjoy.

1. If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Idaho.
2. If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in Idaho.
3. If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Idaho.
4. If 'vacation' means going anywhere south of Salt Lake City for the weekend, you live in Idaho.
5. If you measure distance in hours, you live in Idaho.
6. If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Idaho.
7. If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day, you live in Idaho.
8. If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both unlocked, you live in Idaho.
9. If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Idaho.
10. If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in Idaho.
11. If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph --you're going 80, and everyone is still passing you, you live in Idaho.
12. If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in Idaho.
13. If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Idaho.
14. If you find 10 degrees 'a little chilly' you live in Idaho.
15. If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your IDAHO friends, you live in Idaho

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Movie Review

It's time to review a couple movies I've seen in the last few weeks. First off, Breaking Dawn... it was good. I liked it. It is what it is. The acting was better, the affects were impressive and Bella's wedding dress was amazing. Do I want to take my 11 year old daughter to the movie?...not really. Maybe when she's sixteen, or at least 13 as the rating suggests. It definitely has more adult content. Still, the whole wedding thing made me smile and the nervous bride in the bathroom made me laugh. I really related! I give it a B+. I gave Twilight about a C+ so they've come a long way.

Second movie I saw was the Muppet movie. After seeing this movie I'm having some serious Amy Adams envy. When she sang in the diner about being alone, I wanted so much to be in her place. In fact I was envious of all the extras, dancers, singers, and muppets alike. I want to be in a movie like that! ( on floor throwing tantrum)

Oh wait. This was supposed to be a review of the movie, not about my Amy Adams envy. Sorry. Let's begin again.

Great movie! I laughed, cried, and felt nostalgic throughout. The songs were funny, the adult 80's throwback humor relate-able and relevant. In other words: I LOVED IT! Many, if not all of the songs were written by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Concords fame, the New Zealand group of comedians and singers and actors. We are big fans of this group at our house and my sixteen year old son felt like the songs sounded like them so he looked it up and sure enough, they were. We walked away singing the songs and laughing about the funny moments in the movie while I secretly planned my trip to Hollywood. (I'm only half-kidding)

So a good week of movies. And Turkey day was great too. Next blog. "How I ate half my weight on turkey day" See ya later

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Breaking Dawn day!!!

It's The opening night of Breaking Dawn, everybody! How many of you are going tonight? Believe it or not, I am not. I didn't mean for this to happen. I am not trying to hold out or anything, but it just sort of worked out that way. To be understood, I am no less a fan of the book series. And in reverence of this day I should like to expound upon my gratitude for book four of the Twilight series. See, it was while I was highly anticipating Breaking Dawn that I decided to pick up a pen and write a story that popped into my head one sunny afternoon.

I have always enjoyed writing, but I was never any good at it. Not saying I am great now, but by not being good I mean, I sucked at it. When I was young I'd write stories that went in circles, and I was darn proud of them. I recently read two journal entries where I talked about becoming a writer when I grew up. (They were fifth grade, and seventh grade, respectfully) I used them as fodder for my kids by saying, "See, it was in me long before any of you came around."

But when I picked up a pen nothing came of it.

I'd watch Oprah's book club and get excited about non-writers instantaneously becoming published successful writers. I'd try to copy the way they wrote, trying to conjure up images of people without hope, living in the depths of poverty, their beaten and abused bodies cold from the incessant winds, yada, yada, yada. Problem was, I never got further than a page or two before giving up out of boredom or shear "I have no idea where this is supposed to go next-ness". I know now it's because I was trying to write something that wasn't me. And what I've learned is you've got to write from the heart, but smart. (Thanks, Micheal Neff)

Then, while waiting for Breaking Dawn to come out I got an idea for a story that three months later became my first finished novel titled Strange Tree. And three years later I still love that story and would love to see it published, but I don't know if it cuts the mustard. Anyway, I know this is a tired story, but here it is: I was inspired by the mom from Twilight (Thanks, Jack Black) but it's true. And I have discovered I have a passion for writing, telling stories that make you feel happy, sad, mad, frustrated, and just take you on a great journey.

Twilight took me on a great journey. Very few books have equaled it. I appreciated the ride, and wish dear Stephenie joy in her own journey. And I wish each of you headed to the wedding tonight an amazing time. I will be there in spirit!

Monday, November 14, 2011

This is amazing!

In my next life I'd like to be a science nerd, however, in this life I can't even qualify as a wannabe, but I do love space exploration and am saving up my pennies to be one of the first civillians to ever travel to Mork. So far I have about 20 cents. Really, though, all kidding aside, this is an amazing video. We really are so small, aren't we?

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm having a contest!

Just to get the word out- I have decided to self-publish. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main ones go something like this: I hate querying. I don't think it is one of my stronger talents. (Querying is where you write a short blurp about your story and send it to agents. Think of the paragraph or two you read on the back that gives you the jest of the story) Second, I don't like the idea of losing control. I like input, but I hate, hate, hate being told what I can or can't do. It is a paralyzing feeling, like getting laughing gas at the dentist or being tickled. Don't like either one of those, either.

So three years and nearly five stories later, I have to ask myself, "Self, what are you writing for?" I write to entertain. One of the main reasons I read. I like to learn something too, but mostly I want to escape to a more interesting world for a few days. Call it giving back, but this time I want to do the entertaining. Here I go, jumping off into a pool of liquid that may be warm or may be very, very cold and murky. It is so scary.

Now here's the fun part. I'm having a contest for a book cover. My first book,"The Sand Bar" is based out of my hometown. I'm thinking, sand, river, a man,a woman, and maybe even a small child's feet, but no face. Or, a photo of a very fancy (expensive) shoe, with a broken heel stuck in a crack or something. Or a mysterious woman far off in the distance with a colorful Fuschia scarf wrapped around her neck, or waist, or whatever. She must have short bleached blonde hair. And the tinier the better. There is time travel, lost love and mysterious deaths in the book. The cover should capture that. But remember, successful covers have one shot. One image. Keep it simple.

Now my second book, "Escaping
Bubble Land" is all about hay fields, summer time, tractors, and love...oh yeah, and the girl is overcoming an alcohol addiction and dealing with the guilt she feels for her little brother's death, so it can be a little more on the serious side too. I will give fifty dollars for any photo I end up using for the book cover. If you're game, so am I!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Candy

We bought over two hundred pieces of candy. That is a ton in my book, but guess what? It wasn't quite enough. I'm sure it didn't help that I opened the bag two days before Halloween and snuck a candy bar or two. I know I shouldn't have, but those snickers were calling to me, and well, I caved. It also didn't help that my son had a party here Halloween night. He was left to "man" the door while we took our youngest out. I have a feeling he "manned" the candy too. Anyway, we ran out around eight o'clock, and we weren't sure what to do. Stop answering the door? That is impossible for me. I just can't ignore someone when I know I am totally available. I wish I could. Without that option I sent Dan to the store to buy more candy. He took a long time. The doorbell continued to ring. I started pulling from my little ones candy sacks. Something about robbing Peter to pay Paul kept echoing in my mind. I hated doing that. But I couldn't stop myself. Plus our five year old kept opening the door even when I had convinced myself that I would NOT open the door if it rang again.

My daughter decided she wanted to sit outside and wait for the trick or treaters. Our next door neighbors saw her and offered her the rest of their candy. They were going in and would NOT be answering their door for the rest of the night. Their tootsie rolls saved our bacon. By the time hubby came home the doorbell had long since ceased.

Now I have two new bags of butterfingers and an enormous bag of suckers to add to our stash that I must hide/eat/giveaway/be tempted with every single day until they are all gone or go bad.

It's not a good place for me as I am weak in things involving sugar and chocolate. I am beyond weak. I am hopeless. And it's not even Christmas yet.

What do you do when you run out of candy? I need ideas for next year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Picking your battles is an art form

You know how sometimes people will say "I wish I didn't do this or that?" but you know perfectly well they have no intention of ever "doing" anything about it?

Well, this is not one of those posts. I really do want to learn how to Pick my Battles better. And I'm not just talking about with my kids or husband. Yes, I could do better on that front too, but I'm talking about picking battles with other people, and usually over things that have no long term baring on my life, like what football team everyone should be cheering for, (BYU) or which Pirates movie Johnny Depp was the drunkest in or why everyone should watch Parenthood on Tuesday nights on NBC and Psych on Wednesdays on USA...or how weird I think it is that some people don't even watch TV...ever! It shouldn't matter right? But to me everything matters and I can't keep my opinions to myself, especially if I disagree with you.

Here's an example: One day a young man gave what I thought was a very good talk in church. I was on the edge of my seat, though I can't remember what it was about now. But what I do remember was later discussing it with someone who stated that the talk was the most "boring, waste of time talk she'd ever heard."

Boring? Waste of time? Anything but! Was she in the same meeting as I had been? I did the right thing in the beginning. I quickly left the room, because I could feel my temperature rising. Why? I don't know. I disagreed completely with her? I felt that she was making a very extreme and exaggerated statement about something I didn't think she had even listened to. I went to the next room to cool down. I decided to let it go. I did okay for about twenty minutes, but the topic came up again, and I went for her juggler like a cat after a lame footed mouse. After all, wasn't it my duty to explain how she'd completely missed the mark? I was too defensive. She was surprised and then quickly pulled up her own fortress. It got much bigger than it should have and soon after it died down I wished I had never said anything.

The other day it reared its ugly head again. Someone made a remark about Nicholas Sparks writing "simple books". Hot sparks flared from my chest. I made a snide remark like "Well, I guess I like 'simple' books because I like Nicholas Sparks." It's true. I have enjoyed at least half a dozen of his books and at least that many movies. I like him as a person too. He has five kids just like me. He hasn't forgotten his religious roots and values. He loves his wife (as far as I know) and besides that, I think he's a darn good writer.

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion. You don't have to like Twilight to be my friend. I have several who couldn't get into it. That's fine. There are hundreds of other books to discuss, but if you say it is horribly written, I am going to come to the books defense. There are over 100 million copies out there in circulation. And the numbers do not lie. There is something about her writing that one, I can't put down and two, I find myself immersed in this imaginary world so well described that I ache to belong to it, and when it is finished, I mope about with a heavy heart knowing those people I came to love are not even real. Anyone that makes writing look this "simple and effortless" has done it by carefully fine tuning their craft like a musician fine tunes their instrument. Except writers have to first build that instrument and then fine tune it, rearranging words over and over again until there isn't one word out of place. It takes hours and hours, weeks upon weeks of skull cracking, soul searching work to craft such simplicity.

Now let's go back to the beginning. Why was I so quick to defend a total stranger over my sister-in-law, yes, sister-in-law. Why did I become so defensive about someone I didn't even know? Why was I willing to talk snarky with my mother-in-law. Yes, mother-in-law, over a novelist I have never met? Do I have issues? I don't know. You are welcome to analyze and prescribe, but be aware that I hold nothing back, especially if we are friends. If I don't know you I will probably remain silent and let it be. I have it all backwards. This being me business is not easy and I'd encourage anyone that can be me any better to step forward and take the wheel. Over and out.

To be simple, I've decided, takes great restraint and exactness.

And, in my opinion, writing with restraint is not simple.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I know my real age. Do you know yours?

What's Your Real Age?

I ask this because I have a little thing called denial concerning my age. I see someone I think is around my age and then later find out they are at least five years younger.

Here's an example: The other day I am at my son's football game. I see a man holding one of the markers and think, "Wow, he looks familiar." This happens a lot. It comes from growing up in a small town where you know everyone. I still think I am in that same small town and that if I just look hard enough I will find someone I know.

As not to make a fool of myself I don't jump to conclusions. I wait... I watch ... I measure him up: he's about the right height, possibly similar weight (hard to say since I haven't seen this person since high school) so I keep watching. I then lean over and confidently tell my husband that, "I think I know that guy." He informs me that he met him last week. Tells me the guy is a huge Boise State fan. Ah ha! I think to myself. For sure this is the same guy because everyone from my small Idaho town is a huge Boise State fan. Now with that piece of information I grow more confident. The game ends. I purposefully pass by him, making a last chance size up. I decide to go for it. I interrupt him and ask if his name is "such and such"

"No. It's Billy Bob" he informs me. (It wasn't really Billy Bob, but you get the picture) My face reddens. His wife looks at me as if I am trying to pick up on her husband. Why do I feel so stupid? Why do I want to hide in my camp chair cover? I ramble on about how much he looks like someone I used to know. I'm a blithering idiot. I can see the wife is about to take me down. I apologize and run like a *Patas Monkey to my car. (* Patas Monkeys can run up to 30 miles an hour. No I can't really run that fast, but that's a pretty good piece of useless information, don't you think? See, this blog is good for something.)

Now you may ask why this is a big deal? Well, it's not I suppose, except that I do it all the time and the person is NEVER who I think they should be. But the worst part is what happened next. I went home. Looked old classmate up on Facebook. Realized that the man I saw at the football game looks NOTHING like said classmate does now. Classmate is old. Classmate is fat Classmate has a shiny cueball for a head. (Now don't get all huffy.There is NOTHING wrong with having a cueball for a head. I like them. They are smooth and magical. This guy just had changed a whole lot.) I looked in the mirror. I'm not that old! Am I? I used to believe I was about 28. Now I've graduated to...say...maybe 32? Yeah, I'd go for 32. But 37? NO! Not the 37 I see around me. Not that guy they showed on the news tonight wanted for armed robbery. I saw his mug shot and thought, "What an old dude." Then I heard his age, 35. 35? NO!!! He's fat, and hairy, and mean looking. And he's younger than me!!!It's a frightening thought.

So tonight before bed I scrubbed my face thoroughly. Lathered on the wrinkle reduction, skin tightening, sun spot remover, put on the mask, and swore on my mother's uncle's, cousin's grave that I wouldn't sleep on my stomach tonight. But I know in the end the laugh lines, sun spots, sagging eyelids,and wrinkles on my neck are still going to seep through, and no matter how hard I try to sleep on my back I will still end up on my stomach, with my face smushed against my pillow, dreaming that I am 25, 110 pounds, and dancing barefoot in a meadow of dark chocolate covered clovers. Ahhh...see? Life is still pretty good. I can still dream.

Sweet dreams everyone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our little Lady

I made the dreaded vet call yesterday.

Some of you may know that our dog Lady has had a chronic case of emphysema. I don’t remember how long it’s been since she’s had it. It probably came on so slowly that I didn’t recognize it at first. I thought she was just hacking on a bone, or something. This last year her sickness progressed quickly. Struggling to breathe, she’d throw up, so we had to keep her in the garage, where she choked and gagged most of the night and kept me awake. Every day we’d have some sort of pile to clean up. Some wondered why we hadn’t put her down already. I really had no answer for that until yesterday when I truly understood what it means to take another’s life into your own hands. I wanted to be sure. Really sure. That it was the right thing to do.

Our little cocker-terrier, who came into our lives eight years ago as a gift from my brother, has given our family immeasurable joy mixed with frustration as only dogs can. She has been loyal from day one, loving us, comforting us, and being our best friend. Lady used to follow me everywhere I went. Sometimes she was the annoying friend in high school that never let you out of her sight, following you even into the bathroom. Bumping into you cause she didn’t want to get too far away. Up the stairs to check on crying babies, down the stairs to lick wounded knees. Patient and kind she was always there under your feet, causing you to trip from her extreme loyalty. And she loved Dan. Had a crush on him actually. When I wasn’t looking she’d jump onto the couch and take my place next to Dan. Then she’d turn and look at me with her big brown eyes and seem to say. “Oh, did you want to sit here next to this hunky man? Well, maybe next time.”

This last week she took a serious turn for the worse. I could hear the water in her lungs slush
about as she tried to breathe. Sunday, Dan found her laying out in the grass in a place she rarely went. When he called for her she did not come, something highly unusual for her as she loved Dan almost as much as I do. He brought out her bowl of water and she took a few drinks before lying flat out on the grass, struggling for air. It was time. It didn’t seem right to let her suffer any longer. I kept my head up, my lip firm as I made the appointment. I was even fine as I brushed her beautiful auburn mane one last time and drove her to the vet. It wasn’t even until we took her into the small examination room that it hit me like a speeding bullet smashing right into my gut. I loved this little dog. And in spite of all the pain, frustration, annoying little messes she created, I was going to miss her. The pain was fierce; the tears flowed like a leaking faucet. I bawled over this little dog that sometimes aggravated me more than my own children. Soon my daughter joined me. The vet was compassionate and gave us more time, which only made it more real and worse. We said our goodbyes.

Today the house is quiet. There is no hacking dog. No mess to clean up, no water bowl to fill. There is also no little fury friend to meet me at the door. No wagging tail, no smiling brown eyes that could rival the famous animated Lady. We will wait a while. Have a break from the work and responsibilities of an animal. I don’t know how long we will last. I don’t know how long I will last. I do know one thing. No dog will ever replace Lady. She was her own being. There will be others and we will love them too, but they will not be Lady and I guess that is okay too. One thing about it, Lady is breathing easier now, chasing heavenly squirrels and if there were such a thing, heavenly cars as well. And she will be waiting for us, tail wagging, tongue hanging. I just hope that in heaven she has a stronger bladder than she did here.

Love you little dog. RIP

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tell us how you really feel!

Pregnant people can say anything.

Think about it. You've got a real live thing playing monkey bars on your rib cage, billards on your bladder and kick the can with your kidneys. If you happen to have a bad day and tell your whole family that "You all bug me and I can't stand to be around you. And I'm pregnant." All is forgiven. Think about what you can actually admit to your husband. "I hate how you brush your teeth, and when you talk your voice grates on my nerves. And I'm pregnant." See? All is forgiven. A woman comes into a room late, her face flustered, sweat trickling along her temples, she doesn't even have to speak. We've already forgiven her.

No I'm not pregnant, but the idea of being able to tell how I really feel sometimes is rather tempting. Anyway, that's my thought for the day. So if you are pregnant. Flaunt it. Tell us how you really feel because we have already forgiven you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment"
Jane Austen

beauty, dress, field, girl, grass, lovely - inspiring picture on

beauty, dress, field, girl, grass, lovely - inspiring picture on
"I can't think about it now, I'll go crazy if I do. I'll think about it tomorrow, after all, tomorrow is another day."

This seems to be my ongoing motto for everything in my life. I may not have the waist size of Scarlet O'Hara, but I can certainly live in head- smacking denial with the best of them. The floor needs moping, the toilets need scrubbing. I need to talk to son about his missing homework assignments. I need to check on the neighbor who has been sick for three weeks. I should talk to that teacher to see what can be done about said son's missing homework. Daughter needs attention. I should do something fun with her. The office is a wreck! Bills need paid, bills need filed. I should think about Father's day. The big anniversary is just around the corner. I'm in charge. The vacuum is broken. That sucks. Little son has a birthday in two days. I have no idea what to get him. What about a cake? Speaking of cake, the oven needs cleaning out from the pizza disaster last night. And middle son's laundry is still waiting to be done in the laundry room.

Had enough? This is just the tip of the iceburg. Don't get me wrong. I love this. I asked for this, but what I don't love is my ability to procrastinate everything to the very last millisecond. If you call and ask about Jakes baptism happening on the Fourth of June, do not expect to know what we'll be serving afterwards because I have no idea. It's at least two weeks away. Plenty of time to plan a menu, right? I've got a baby shower tonight that I haven't planned for, nothing to eat in the fridge, and no idea if I'll get to the grocery store. Those are my priorities.

Thinking about my life gives me a headache, and a rash. And a bad case of "I need chocolate, like right now!" I admire those of you that have your appointment books filled out and ready to go. I especially adore you if you have your first initial embrodered into everything you own. Like you know what and who you are. I always loved that about Rebecca in Daphne Du Mauiers book of like name. She had the R scrawled on everything. Everything was in its place, and every hour scheduled. Sometimes I'd like to be that person, but most of the time I like being spontaneous. I like to join little Macy out on the tramp, feel the sun warm my skin, and look up at the clouds and watch the vapor trails criss-cross against the blue sky. We love to watch the airplanes high overhead and imagine where all those people are going. I like sitting on the front step and listening to the crickets sing,the frogs croak, or the birds chirp. I'm fascinated with birds. I love to watch them protect their territory, chasing intruders away, nipping at their wings or singing a warning song to stay away from their nest as I run along the path. Romantic by nature, I can get lost in a book for hours. HOURS! Same with a movie. I am Scarlet. I am Elizabeth Bennett. I am Emma. No seriously, I am Emma. It's painful to admit, but I am woman enough to see my flaws. But we can talk later about that. And anyway, what's wrong with meddling in other peoples business? Isn't it right to tell it like it is? No round-the bush blabber for me baby. I might be frank and honest, but never mean-spirited. Never! I may not love you as a politician, but I will not make fun of your pink pant suits. I swear.

So every day I am faced with the dillema. Stay romantic, carefree, spontaneous, or get the house cleaned, the dinner cooked, the kids bathed. It is a daily struggle to find balance. So if this isn't ever an issue for you, I applaud you. I envy you. Some days I wish I were you. But other days, when my daughter takes my hand and leads me across the grass to show me the butterfly fluttering in the garden while explaining that the fairies turn in to butterflies during the day, I think that maybe my life isn't so bad. Don't lose hope. I'll keep fighting the fight. And on those days you pass by my house and see me laying on the trampoline staring into the sky, you will know that Becky is just being Becky. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This just in: The Bryan's have untold wealth in measure of fingers and toes!

Yesterday I was reminded that I am a rich woman. I don’t mean to brag, but I have wealth beyond measure. I know, this came as a surprise to me too, actually, because looking at the rise and fall of our bank account you’d think it was some graph displaying the trajectory of Colossus at Lagoon. But it’s true. And it took some Chinese women to help me understand what wealth really is.

Being in the supply chain industry, Dan travels to China two to three times a year and meets many interesting people. One particular night around a restaurant table, eating dog lip and poisonous snake soup, a woman asked him about his family. He mentioned that he has five kids. Now when Dan mentions this it is usually greeted with one of two scenarios: 1. They stare at him like he just admitted he has no idea how it happened, or 2. They smile and remind him that he has his “hands full” “Wow, Five kids? That’s a lot of kids.”...Umm, yeah, we get that.

We get it every time we try to feed our two oldest boys, who at their age could kill their own buffalo, skin it, carve it of all its meat, and leave nothing more than a little extra raw hide for vultures to fight over. I knew it when I had two little boys and was pregnant with my third child and a total stranger had the nerve to ask if I knew how babies were made. I played along and replied, “I don’t know, I hear it’s in the water,” only to have him grumble rudely that, “maybe you need to go back to high school if you don’t know.” Gosh, that guy was a chump.

I knew it when I potty trained three boys who thought sinking cheerios was so much fun they wanted to turn and tell me each time they “sunk a ship” in the middle of the stream. I know it’s a lot when I get three report cards that send me to my room crying that I am a bad mom and somebody really should just fire me. I know it now that my oldest has his drivers permit and says, “Oh sorry, I just wasn’t thinking straight” when he forgets to stop at the stop sign. I know it’s a lot when I take them shopping, meaning only to buy some jeans for one kid, and three hundred dollars later leave with two pairs of shoes, four pairs of jeans, two shirts, one dress, a jacket and enough socks for a basketball team, all of which are different sizes, and not one of the items is for me. There are days I could go back to newlywed Becky and tell her to think long and hard about all those kids she is planning to have, and I just might talk her out of it. Thankfully, I can’t do that and so I must buck up and carry on.

You get the picture…so Dan is telling the people about his kids, and an amazing thing happens. They don’t do the typical 1 or 2 “thing.” In fact, they do something that has never been done before (unless you count the time in Spain when the woman asked if she could have one of our babies, or better yet, if I would have one more just for her.) But she was drunk and probably has no recollection of that conversation, so it doesn’t count. With deep admiration, these Chinese women said with longing in their eyes, “You are very rich.” Dan was so surprised he almost spit out his venom soup.

When Dan returned home and shared that story with me, I laughed pretty hard thinking they believe only the rich can have children. HA! But then I had a cool moment with my youngest daughter yesterday that reminded me that I was indeed very rich.

Dan was heading out the door for work. It was early and the kids were still asleep. As the garage door shut I could hear the pounding of tiny feet running down the hall at full speed. Four year-old Macy zipped by me without a word, her little nightgown fluttering in the wind, and went straight for the garage door, where she yanked it open, poked her head out, and yelled, “Goodbye, Dad! Have a great day! I love you!”

At that moment, the words of the Chinese women rang through my mind as they so readily recognized the immense blessing that is ours to have a whole “quiver” full of children. In that precious moment of love and devotion from a four year-old, I was taught that I am truly wealthy beyond words. Beyond measure. Beyond my wildest dreams. And I will never take it for granted again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's: Look Not behind Thee

New Year Resolutions

I once heard great advice that you should approach every person like they are going through a life crisis, because ninety percent of the time you will be right. This goes for every interaction, great or small. The car going too slow in front of you, the woman at the check- out line taking forever, the ornery lady on the telephone who makes you want to say rude things back to her.

In fitting bah hah, nature, I had this experience the other day. We were in a hurry to pick up kids from lessons,stopped at a red light, and already late. Every second seemed to take two seconds. The light finally turned green, but the car in front of us didn’t go. It just sat there. They were probably on the phone or texting, I thought to myself. So I called for them to go. They didn’t hear me, or didn’t care, (since my windows were rolled up, I figured it was the first idea) My patience was non-existent. My husband was being way too forgiving of this person which, by the way, was highly unusual since I usually had to remind him to be patient and not honk the horn, because they just might end up being our neighbors, and how awkward would that be? But it had been several seconds, and a horn honking was now in order. I leaned over to pat the horn for him, since he seemed to be taking this Happy Holidays thing way too far. Luckily I couldn’t find it before my dear husband explained that the car in front of us was stalled. I guess he had noticed the flickering tail lights. I hadn’t noticed. I had only worried that the green light was going to turn red before we could get through it, and the cars behind us were stacking up. And we were already late picking up our kids. And it was super cold. Like single digits. Dan didn’t worry about that, instead he turned our hazard lights on and got out to see what was going on.

It was a young high school aged girl, and every time she tried to go the engine would stall. Soon another guy appeared from behind us. Dan and the guy popped the hood of her car to check things out. I looked at the temperature gage. It read something like 12 degrees. He jiggled some wires. She turned the key. It started. All was well. Dan jumped back into the car. I sighed in relief and thanked him for realizing she had been in trouble. But the light turned yellow and then red before the girl could go. My husband moaned, worried her car would stall again and they’d have to start all over. I glared at the red light. It taunted us, refusing to turn green again. I thought of my kids, waiting in the freezing dark for us to pick them up. I willed the light to turn green. Finally, after what seemed long enough to jog a lap around a football field, it beamed green. Just as Dan predicted, her tail lights flickered on and off. She didn’t move. Stalled…again. Green light… laughing. Dan jumped out of the car… again. A collective moan rippled through our car as we watched Dan and the other man work to start her car… again. The other man had a brilliant idea.This time he sent her to his car with his wife, while he climbed into the girl’s car. In the meantime we had sat through another green light and now it was turning yellow. Before it could turn red again, the man got it started and blasted through the yellowing light to the nearest gas station. We went too. Sitting through two green lights was long enough for us.

We finally were able to pick our kids up--late of course--but I was grateful for a husband who took the time to notice another’s need even when I did not. I’ve been thinking about this all week. How many times do I pass by someone in need? Maybe that new neighbor who still hasn’t acknowledged me isn’t really a jerk, but is going through a hard time…well, I don’t know…but I know I need to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. So that is my resolution. Be more aware of others needs. That and building up my year supply of dark chocolate.