Friday, February 25, 2011

For Sale

For Sale

One preschooler. Strawberry-blonde hair; bright blue eyes; rosy cheeks; full, pouty lips; three feet tall. Answers to the name S, also known as Stinky, Sunshine, Sweetie, Love, Darling, Punkin Pie, Baby Girl. Personality traits include, but are not limited to, reserved, stubborn, hot-tempered, dramatic, sassy. Known for selective hearing, flamboyant tantrums, tornadic paths of destruction.

Price: Not looking to make much off her, only want to get my money back to basically break even. $3,500 for the birth; $600 for formula after she weaned herself at 6 months; $8,212 for meals since she's been on solids; $7,040 for daycare; $3,375 for medical expenses such as insurance premiums, dr. visit co-pays and medications; and about $2,000 for clothes and basic supplies. Rounded up to cover my eBay listing fee and time to write this ad, which comes to... $25,000.

Holy crap - do you realize what I could have done with an extra $25K over the last 3 1/2 years?? I could have gone on the trips to Australia and Europe that my single friends took. I could have bought a cool new car (not the minivan we got). I could have gotten a gym membership and hired a personal trainer and gotten back down to my ideal weight.

Not to mention the sleep I could have gotten. I'm estimating I've lost about 3,000 hours of sleep since she and her sister were born. Y-I-K-E-S. Which has resulted in my starting to drink coffee. Ooh! There's another $3,000 in Frappacinos/fancy coffees to keep me awake and functioning.

Man, I miss sleeping in. Of course, I love when she pads down the hall in the morning to my room and climbs into bed with me to snuggle for a few minutes before we get up. I guess those few minutes would counteract the hours of missing sleep from the night before. And she is funny, intelligent, imaginative, caring and thoughtful. I suppose I should deduct the value of her helping with the shopping, making dinner and tidying up the aforementioned areas of destruction. Plus, she's very selective when it comes to doling out hugs and kisses; those are priceless.

Ok, sorry - going to have to pull this post down. No matter how much she may drive me crazy, nothing is more valuable to me than her.

This is based on a prompt from The Red Dress Club. We want you to imagine you've just had a fight with a friend, a co-worker, husband, significant other, child - you get the picture. You're mad. It's time for revenge. What would you sell? Write a humorous listing for eBay or Craig's List. Talk about the history of the items, why they must go. Word limit is 600. I took a little bit of liberty with the directions on this. Constructive criticism is always welcome!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wah Dahgu Siam

The Red Dress Club's memoir assignment this week {now referred to as Remembe(red)} was to make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. Then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. Then investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)?

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

It was night. We were in our PJs in the kitchen.  I was seven or eight years old. Wearing my long-sleeved Smurfette nightgown and holding Pinky, my pink teddy bear (I was terribly original). It was the house that had a crack down the middle of the foundation so I could stand at one end of the kitchen in my roller skates and roll to the other end. The one with the avocado green linoleum, the white formica kitchen table with gold flecks in it and chairs that were covered in goldenrod vinyl. That night, while my little sister and I stood there, Mom told us she had a story and that we could play along.

Once upon a time, there was a prince of Siam who made his subjects bow to him while chanting "Wah...Dahgu...Siam." Mom was playing the part of the prince, Sister and I were playing the subjects. Arms raised, bending at the waist, saying it over and over, a little faster each time. "Wah..Dahgu..Siam, Wah Dahgu Siam, Wahdahgusiam, WhaddaGooseIAm." Mom's eyes twinkling as we realized what we were saying. Sister and I laughing at ourselves and at Mom for being so funny.

My mom, as I imagine is true for most stay-at-home-mothers, spent most of her time cooking, cleaning, clipping coupons, shopping, caring for us, shuttling us to activities, sewing, and paying bills/budgeting. Not to mention, she also spent a fair amount of time removing wallpaper, painting and doing other home improvement tasks as my parents flipped houses to make a little extra so Mom could stay home with us. She was the one who was in charge of us all day. She had to referee fights, clean up messes and deal with drama. So there wasn't a lot of time left to be silly. Ever since I can remember, I thought my mom was smart, brave, caring, kind, calm, patient, honest, polite, and a myriad of other wonderful traits. But I think this memory stuck with me because it's the first time I remember thinking my mom was funny. And she really has a great sense of humor. But it was overshadowed by her other traits. And the fact that Dad is a joke-telling, gregarious, funny guy. So he was the "fun" one because we didn't see him all day. I think this memory of the silly side of my mom serves as a big reminder to me to have fun and be silly with my kids as much as possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Twitter Rocks

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When I first discovered that anyone can follow you on Twitter, and you don't exactly have to accept them, I was a little freaked out. I don't have to follow them back, but I usually check to see if I want to. A certain amount of spam is to be expected, but then there are the weird ones like these:

Zero tweets? Following 1,920? What I want to know is who the 554 followers are and why? Weird. The egg avatar is almost always a dead giveaway.

When I first started tweeting, I was clueless about how to do it. But after awhile, I became more comfortable with it. In fact, downright addicted to it - worse than Facebook! And here are some of the reasons why:

My Tweeps.
I have met a lot of cool people on Twitter who I would not have otherwise found. And my bloggy friends who are on there? I really get to know them. Reading someone's blog lets you into their minds to a certain degree and tells you if they would be someone you would want to hang out with.  Tweeting with them takes it to another level. It results in actual conversations. I miss chatting with them on days when I'm not on Twitter. I've mentioned it before. So has Liz at A Belle, A Bean and A Chicago Dog. She's got several posts about how important Twitter is, but one of my faves will always be our macaroni and cheese chat.

Current Events.
I can't stand to watch the news. It's not that I don't care about what's going on in the world, it's that the headlines are always negative. There's never any focus on the positive. I prefer to listen to the updates on the radio or scan the Internet. But I only do that occasionally, so most of the time I have no idea what people are talking about. Now that I'm on Twitter? I'm all over it! People want to be me. Ok, not really, but I can carry on a conversation without sounding like I live in a bunker with only access to "Sesame Street" for news updates.

Done right, marketing on Twitter can be incredibly effective. For example, Tim from Sogeshirts. While I'm not one to buy funny t-shirts often, I know the day will come when I need to get something like Little League shirts made that aren't the boring, run-of-the-mill ones you get at the local Dick's Sporting Goods. And I will have Tim in the back of my mind, ready and waiting. Why? Because he isn't just posting updates about the latest thing they're selling. He interacts with everyone. He has almost 14,000 followers, and he still makes time to chat it up with people. It's not always about work or sales, it's just him being the cool guy he is. Plus he retweets and Friday Follows like a madman.

And finally, what prompted this post, is that companies who pay attention? Can increase customer loyalty and get good publicity. Take, for example, the recent convo I had with Lynn from All Fooked Up and Kris from Pretty All True.


Even without a hashtag, the people at oneCARE Co (who distribute Downy Wrinkle Releaser) saw my post and sent me one back saying they would send me a free sample. 

At first I thought maybe it was a scam, but I checked it out the best I could and gave them limited contact info just in case it wasn't legit. And then about a week later, I got a package in the mail. Twelve 3-oz., travel-size bottles. Sweet! They have no idea that I'm going to post this, Tweet this, FB this. I'm sure they hope that I will, and their hopes will be realized.

And to share the Twitter/Downy Wrinkle Releaser love, I'm going to give half of them away to one lucky entrant. 

There are three ways to enter. Here's how:

1. Post a comment below.

2. Tweet this and copy me (@MidwestMomments) for verification. Post a comment below noting that you did.

3. Go to my Facebook page and if you don't already, "Like" it. Then post a comment on the wall that says:

Midwest "Mom"ments and I are wrinkle-free!

Then post a comment here to tell me about it.

Do one or all - you get an entry for each comment below.  Be sure to include your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

All opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by any other source. I was not compensated to provide an opinion of the product or Downy. This giveaway is open to US residents only. It begins on Monday, February 21, 2011 and will end on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:00pm. One winner with a valid entry will be selected using the Sequence Generator at The winner will be announced on or before Friday, March 4.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post at "The Lazy Christian"

Hey guys! Today I'm not participating in The Red Dress Club (SAD!) But the happy news is that I have the honor of guest posting at Rachel's site, The Lazy Christian. We found each other on Twitter, and when Rachel said she was looking for guest posters, I jumped up and waved my hand and yelled, "Me! Me! Over here! Pick me!"

As you know, I'm trying to get my ducks in a row finding a new church (check!), getting involved in a devotional (check!), reading my Bible every day (working on it), spending more time in prayer (need to work on it more). Rachel asked me to write about something I struggle with in my faith, and I had a lot to choose from. But I think the hardest thing for me right now is really trusting God with EVERYTHING. So I hope you'll take a second to jump over to visit Rachel to see my post Strong Enough and take a look around while you're there!

Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Proposal

The Red Dress Club has decided on a new venture focusing on writing memoir. Our first assignment was this: after you have died, your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see?

•    •    •    •     •    •    •

The Barbecue at the Summit contest had just ended. We went back to the cabin where we were staying with his best friend and his wife. After showering away the mingled hickory, cherry and maple smoke from our hair and skin, and changing into fresh, though travel-rumpled, clothes, he told me he wanted to go for a drive to give the other couple some alone time. We parked in a lot by a scenic point near a trail that we had visited the year before. I was surprised he remembered it.

We strolled along the rocky path, listening to the breeze rustling in the evergreens and chipmunks scampering along the branches, enjoying the majestic peace that always seems to find us in the mountains. An overlook jutted out from the trail providing a rock wall perimeter to lean against and look out on Lake Dillon. A family walked up just as we did, so he suggested we climb down a little way to a ledge nestled against the side of the mountain. Once we reached it, he turned and pressed me against the warm rocks, kissing me deeply. I breathed in his scent as we shared a few more intimate moments, then leaned back and enjoyed the view from our private spot. It was picture perfect with rich hues of jade, azure and cerulean swirled with ochre and straw.

As the summer sun continued to lower in the sky, he began rocking his weight from the ball of one foot to the other and glancing at his watch. I asked him if we needed to get back since we were planning to go to dinner with our friends. He said he wanted to give them a little more time. Stepping forward, he rested his right foot up on a boulder. He fished a tube of Chapstick out of his jean pocket, and after applying some, read the ingredients aloud to me while avoiding eye contact.

I smiled to myself. I would have felt uncomfortable if it had been anyone else, but instead my fondness for him grew. Finally, he turned to me, unable to postpone any longer. He asked me to sit down on a large stone that made a natural seat. He got down on one knee and started to speak several times but stopped. I was amused at his nervousness. At last he blurted out, "You know I love you, right?"

I was tempted to tease him by saying, yes, but why don't you tell me more about that? I could see how difficult it was for him, though I didn't know why. He already knew the answer. We already had the church reserved for March 19th.

He took the antique, gold band adorned with a round diamond and two baguettes from his pocket. Instantly, I felt tears well-up. How could I be crying? A moment ago I had been in awe of his traditional fears, and here I was succumbing to the exact same scenario. The fact that I have no memory of what he said next makes me glad that he didn't make the speech he had prepared as it would have simply been lost on the water rippling far below us. I just remember the view from that haven, the sound of his voice as it broke with his love for me, the smell of the dry Colorado air, the taste of my tears, and the feel of his lips as he kissed me after I said, "Yes."

**I wrote this from memory and then went back to find a photo to include with it. Here's the view from our little spot on the mountainside.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Build & Grow Music Box

Saturday was crazy busy. DH took S to Lowe's for the "Build and Grow" project. I LOVE that they have this special Daddy/daughter activity. This week they made a music box with a heart-shaped lid. While they were gone, Baby R took a much needed nap. She was up from midnight to 3am Thursday AND Friday night. She'd been constipated the first night (only took me 3 hours to figure it out!), but I had no idea what was going on the second night. Usually I would take advantage of that time to nap, too, but I had too much to do. Three of my friends had babies last week - holy love-making in May, Batman! - and I was scheduled to bring dinner to one of them that day. I texted to see when would be a good time since I wasn't sure if they'd gotten home from the hospital yet. They hadn't. So we rescheduled - whew! That afternoon we went to our nephew's bday party (13 - YIKES!). That night I went out with some of the SPC girls.

(I need to do a separate post about the origins of SPC and some of our shenanigans, but for now, suffice it to say that for most of my 20's, there were about 30-40 of us who were single and hung out, playing sports together, going to happy hours, hosting weekend keggers, going on camping/skiiing/trips around the world together, so we dubbed ourselves the Social Planning Committee. We had an interactive website and everything long before Facebook. Yeah, we were cool.)

Anyway, one of the girls from that group planned a Girls Night Out. We had snacks and drinks at her house and played "Just Dance" on the Wii which was hilarious. One of the songs was by Fatboy Slim and the routine had kind of a tribal vibe. It reminded us of the African Anteater Ritual from "Can't Buy Me Love". (That's still how I think of Patrick Dempsey, as Ronald Miller, not McDreamy.) Anyway, one of the guys from our gang was kind enough to be the sober driver for us and took us to a bar nearby, Touché.

Now, I have to explain a bit about this bar. Here's a description taken straight from their website: "Geared towards the middle aged crowd that grew up with the fabulous music of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Touché is an upscale night club located in..." Middle aged is an incredibly nice way to put it. The bulk of the patrons didn't grow up in the 60's, 70's and 80's; they ARE in their 60's, 70's and 80's. Maybe a third of the people there were between 40 and 60. And then there were about a dozen who were under 40 (6 of them were us). We went there purely for the joy of people-watching. Most of the ladies wore full-sequined gowns. A few had on tube tops and mini-skirts. One was wearing a denim mini-skirt that had red hearts on the buns, and a shirt with hearts on it that lit up. True story. I can't make this craziness up. And the dancing, well. Everything from inappropriate touching and grinding to stiff-framed arms.

Only a few of us had been there before. It's a membership club, and the girl who planned the night actually has a membership. OMG.

My favorite quotes from the night:

"When you said it was a bar for old people, I thought you meant old like us. Not old like old."

"It's like 'Cocoon' in here!"

("Erotic City" by Prince came on. Several of us did the SQUEAL! I LOVE THIS SONG! as we scrambled out to the dance floor.)
Friend S: "I don't know this song."
Me: "Ok, now I feel like I'm old enough to belong here." (Which, sadly after reading the blurb from the website, I guess technically I do.)

Sunday morning, DH let me sleep in, made me breakfast in bed, did laundry AND dusted the office. I could not have felt more blessed. I went to the second part of the meeting at church about what they believe and how things work, and I was thrilled to hear all the things I had hoped to hear. That will be my new church home. YAY!

After church, we had lunch, and put the girls down for naps. Baby R only slept for about an hour and a half (boo), and S never did go to sleep (double boo). After dinner we went for a walk since it's FINALLY nice enough to go outside again. And poor Baby R tripped and fell, not once, not twice, but three times. Scratched up her nose, cheek and forehead. I'm a terrible mother. But she didn't want to ride in the wagon; she wanted to keep walking. Hopefully it taught her to catch herself with her hands and not her face.

When she was crying, I saw that she has gotten two molars in! That explains the sleepless nights last week. It didn't even occur to me that she might be teething; she wasn't gnawing on stuff like she usually does. And molars? She's only got 6 teeth for crying out loud! I know they can come in in any order after the first two, but it surprised me. Bad mommy again! I could have at least given her some ibuprofen if I'd realized.

Gifts From My Valentine
Today is Valentine's Day. DH got me a dozen red roses, a box of chocolates and a heart-shaped cookie. He got S a rose and a cookie as well, and Baby R a rose. So sweet. He put theirs in single-stem vases and put them in their bedrooms.

Tonight at bedtime, S told me she wants to get lots and lots of dogs. I asked her how many and she said 11.

Eleven? Wow, what are you going to name them?

Flower, Flower, Flower. (Clearly looking right at the rose from Daddy.)

They're all going to be named the same, huh?

And Shelf. (Looking at the shelf.)

Shelf, huh? So 10 Flowers and 1 Shelf?

Yep. He will be grey, and we will paint him pink! (The shelf was another Lowe's project she and Daddy did. When they brought it home, they painted it pink.) But just his face. He's gonna fight it.

I'm sure he will if you try to paint him!

Well, maybe we'll only paint his tail.

I see.

And his pee.

(????) You're going to paint his pee pink?

Yeah, he will have to go pee. (whispers secretively) And poop.

Yes, he will. Everybody poops, right?


Friday, February 11, 2011

Identity Shift


So many possibilities for the prompt this week! Serious - a death, a plague. Literal - an earthquake, a mudslide. Fun - first kiss, first airplane ride. Love - a wedding, a birth. It would be fun to take this prompt  and do 3 versions. And, of course, there's always the choice whether to write fiction or non-fiction. I tend to prefer to write fiction for the Red Writing Hood since I have my blog for non-fiction, but this one called me to go autobiographical. So, here's what I ended up with:

•  •  •  •  •  •  • •  •  •  •

Identity Shift

I could never have imagined that I would love something so girly. Most of the time I preferred to dig in the dirt with trucks, play softball and be rough and tumble. Kids decided that I must be a boy since I had short hair and didn't want to wear a dress or play with dolls. I wished I had some way to belong in the category of "girl" other than my anatomy. This dichotomy of gender and expectation was an invisible membrane that surrounded me and prevented me from being able to settle into an identity.

My parents encouraged me to do and be anything, and offered me opportunities to participate in lots of activities, partly because they were forward-thinkers, and partly because my mother, herself once a tomboy, wanted to get me out of the house to burn off energy. In addition to playing softball, I took ice skating lessons, swim lessons and eventually played soccer and tennis. So when they signed me up for dance, the hyper-active, outgoing part of me was glad for an activity while the tomboy side was dreading the idea of having to put on tights and a leotard.

The dance studio where I began my training was owned by a couple in their 50's, Miss Nina and Mr. Bill. Their influences were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They were not big on Madonna or the new MTV; a bit of Fosse was as edgy as they got. The dress code was strictly black leotards and pink tights (white t-shirts and black shorts for boys), no crazy neon colors, no cute little tutus. Girls with long hair were required to wear it in a ponytail or a bun, and Miss Nina was known to pull on those to get students to focus in the right direction. A poster that read "DISCIPLINE" was the only adornment above the barre. She demanded a lot from us, and for a bundle of energy who needed an outlet, it was a perfect fit. I craved the structure and loved the hard work.

The rigidity of their system was evidenced by the age-restrictions for classes for the different styles of dance. I began attending when I was five. My only option was a combo class - half an hour of tap and half an hour of tumbling. At some point I switched to a full hour for each, but I can't quite recall when. Once I was eight, I was allowed to start ballet. I know it was a big deal that I was finally old enough to do it which is the only reason I can think I would have wanted to since ballet is such an exceptionally feminine style.

I don't remember the specifics of that first class, the steps we learned, the music that was played. What I do remember is how I felt. Euphoric. Free. The barrier dividing me was gone, and I was enveloped in a snug, comfortable layer of wholeness. Though I still enjoyed boyish interests, I had found my niche in feminine pursuits. For the first time, I knew I was where I was supposed to be, doing what God created me to do.

I had only seen myself from one perspective until then; the whole world shifted.

**Footnote: Miss Nina is at least in her 80's and still teaching little ones a few times a week at the Parks and Rec.

This post was inspired by the prompt "begin your piece with the words, "I could never have imagined" and end it with "Then the whole world shifted" in 600 words or less. Constructive criticism welcome.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Very Short Love Affair with a Hands-free Soap Dispenser

Head over to This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff where my review on touchless soap dispensers is posted today. It's a great site with ordinary people's feedback.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Connects Us

I'm thrilled to have Sherri from Old Tweener as a guest poster today. I've loved getting to know her through her blog over the last six months and chatting over Twitter. She also has amazing fiction-writing talents that I've been lucky to enjoy through The Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood meme. (Unlike me, she actually participated in and completed NaNoWriMo!) Her posts are always poignant and often funny. Don't take my word for it - she's been featured on BlogHer! So without further ado, I present, Sherri:

•  •  •  • •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

What Connects Us

Being a woman in my mid-forties with older kids, I don’t always feel that I fit in with certain groups of women. 

I have friends with young kids and friends who are grandmothers. 

So while I do have lots of friends who are my age, we aren’t always at the same station in life.

And when I’m out in public, I’m finding more and more that I feel a bit lost in the crowd.

I smile nicely at sweet, grandmotherly ladies in the store who are shopping alone. Maybe I make small talk with them in the grocery store checkout line about the weather or the crowds.

Women my own age either seem too busy to make small talk or have no interest. There isn’t usually much eye contact, and I’m not always sure what to say to start a conversation with them since it’s not obvious what we have in common.

But the moms with little ones? Toddlers? Newborns?

I love talking to them.

They take me back in time when they share a few moments with me.

So now I’ve become that odd lady at the grocery store or Target that parents warn their kids about.

Last week I saw a young mother shopping with her little boy in the toy department at Target. The little boy was probably about 4 years-old, chatting up a storm about the new Legos.

I was captivated by his little voice, his excitement about the Legos, and how warm and loving the conversation between he and his mother was.

He transported me back to when my son was that age. How many trips to Target had I made with him, chatting away about this and that, trying to finish my errands? My son was equally crazy about Legos, memorizing the sets in each category as this little guy seemed to.

I couldn’t help but stare. And smile.

But after happening to run into the two of them in several different aisles (and yes, I was really shopping for toys) I finally had to talk to the mom.

So she wouldn’t think I was trying to steal her kid.

Or on drugs.

I caught her eye, told her how cute her little boy was, and that he reminded me of mine.

Who wasn’t so little anymore.

She brightened to talk about him for a moment with someone who would listen. We laughed about the Lego addiction, and she seemed relieved when I told her that they kept my son busy for hours on end.

For years.

And that woman in the grocery store yesterday? She looked so frazzled with her three little ones in tow. Grocery shopping on the best of days isn’t fun with kids.

I couldn’t help but comment about her daughter’s sweatshirt, which happened to be from the college I graduated from. Which led to a discussion about how wonderful that area is, and how she hopes to move back there one day.

Her daughter reminded me of mine; back when she was willing to wear her hair in ponytails and wasn’t concerned that her pinks didn’t quite match.

As we talked, only for the amount of time it took the checker to move through a few customers, she relaxed a bit. We made a connection.

I think this is part of what I am loving about blogging.

I’ve met so many talented and wonderful ladies during this past year. Their stories about their lives and their kids connect me to them.

Even when the mirror reminds me that I’m already past that station.

So the next time an older, somewhat gray-at-the-roots lady who’s shopping alone smiles at you and asks about your kid?

Be nice. Humor her a bit. You just might make her day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gotta Have Faith-ah

Today I went to an "About" class at a church by our house. I have been on a search for a church home for about six years. I LOVED the one I went to before I got married, but partially because my hubby's house was so far away from it, and partially because said husband is not much of a church-goer, I wanted to find something closer to home. I defaulted to the Presbyterian church I grew up in (kind of) because it was nearby. But then we had S, and it was difficult for me to go alone with her, so I only went a handful of times after she was born.

Then we moved a year and a half ago. And Baby R was born. So I started searching again. We live fairly close to the Catholic church that DH was raised in, so we've been there a few times, and I really enjoyed one that a friend invited me to, but it is HUGE (there are 4 sites around town and the sermon is broadcast from the original site to the satellite we went to) and not that close. There is one right by our house (5 minutes away, if that). It's fairly small, about 400 attend the two services on Sunday mornings. And when I came the first few times, I felt welcomed. Everyone was friendly without being nosy or pushy. So I decided to attend their class to find out a bit more about them.

I have had a fairly broad experience with churches. My dad was raised Baptist and my mom was raised Methodist. My dad is an only child, but his two cousins he grew up with both married Catholics and had big families (ie, we went to a LOT of Catholic weddings growing up). Dad is not a big fan of church but he and Mom took us to the aforementioned Presbyterian church when we were young. We moved fairly far from it when I was about 8, and that was pretty much the end of my official time in Sunday school.

In middle school I was blessed to have an incredible group of close-knit best girlfriends. There were seven of us: three Mormons, 1 Catholic, 1 Nazarene, 1 non-denominational and me. I have attended services and events with all of them. It was an amazing opportunity for me. At a time when lots of kids are beginning to rebel against their parents, their upbringing, their mandatory church attendance, I was able to really search out what I believed. I was saved at a retreat with some of those friends.

Once I had a boyfriend, I went to church with his family at a non-denominational church for the rest of my high school career. In college, I found a Methodist church to attend. After graduating and moving back to Kansas City, I spent quite a bit of time without a church home. I don't believe you have to go to church to have a relationship with Christ, but I do think that for me, it helps keep me on track. Eventually I found a Bible study that I really enjoyed. It led me to a church I attended for awhile. Then I found my first real church home, a non-denominational Christian church. I got plugged in, joined a small group, volunteered to help with a service team, and made some close friends. There were a few great years there where I really felt like my walk with Christ was genuine. I was learning and growing and really on the right path.

Then I fell away a bit. I still was active with the church, but I was also single and partying and doing that whole thing. It's not that you can't do both, but I could tell I was diverging from where God wanted me to be. I distinctly remember feeling like there were times when I was avoiding Him, as though He were sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of my room, watching over me, waiting patiently for me to return to Him.

My walk has been full of times when I've strayed from the path and then returned. It's been exceptionally difficult being in an unequally yoked marriage. For me, that puts an even greater importance on finding a good church fit. So I'm excited to have found one that seems to be on the same page as me. The second half of the class is next Sunday, and of course, I'll need to spend a bit more time getting connected, but I'm hopeful I've found a new home. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Laughter Through Tears

This is the first prompt I've really struggled with. I thought the others would be hard, but they weren't too bad. This one, though. Ugh. Not loving the result; it feels a bit forced. 
Today's prompt was "to write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes. It is from an NPR contest called Three-Minute Fiction." Let me just say, 600 words, wha? (I squeaked it in with 597.)

My awesome hubby shoveling for the second of five times during the "blizzard" on February 1, 2011.

Laughter Through Tears

•  •  •  •  •  •

"Where is he?" she thought aloud, for the hundredth time. 

The blizzard of 2011 had been hyped up quite a bit, but for once the meteorologists were right. It was hard to tell exactly how deep the snow was since the wind was causing it to drift so much, but it was at least the foot they had called for. Duncan didn't want to leave the police station unattended in case someone called in an emergency in this weather, so he had let Stacey know he was going to wait until the Chief got back from his nightly patrol before heading out. Duncan had even offered to stay overnight at the station with him, but the Chief was a widower and used to being alone. In fact, he preferred it. Besides, Duncan had a beautiful wife to get home to. A beautiful wife who never grew used to the worry that went along with being married to a police officer. 

When she'd met Duncan, she was instantly drawn to his pensive confidence, and she melted when he looked at her with his chocolate-brown eyes. But when she found out he was a cop, her infatuation with him almost screeched to a halt. The last thing she wanted was someone whose safety she’d be worried about constantly. But his kindness and concern for everyone’s well-being won her over.

She gnawed on a nail absent-mindedly as she searched for a hint of the cruiser out the front window. Finally, the red and blue lights could be seen floating along the space that was once identifiable as a road, and the tightness in her chest released a little. She had been taking shallow breaths without realizing it, and finally let out a big sigh. 

He had scarcely come in the door when she threw her arms around him.

"Hang on, honey," he smiled. "Let me get my coat and boots off so you don't get wet from the snow."

"I don't care," she answered, kissing his cold cheek. "I'm just glad you're home. How are the roads? Did you have any trouble?"

He paused. "Actually, I got rear-ended."

"What!" she pulled back from him, his face in her hands. "Are you ok?"

He took her hands in his, squeezed and let go so he could shimmy out of his coat. Somberly, he replied, "I got a crack."

"Where? On the bumper?" 

"In my butt."

"Oh my gosh, honey..." she started. Then she saw the twinkle in his eye. "Did you just say... you have a crack? In your butt?"

He smiled.

"Duncan, that's not funny! I can't believe you! I've been worried sick about you all day, and then you show up here TWENTY MINUTES after you should have been home, and you make jokes!" Stacey's shrieking ended in sobs, and she covered her face. 

Duncan's face fell, "Aw, honey, I'm sorry. You worry too much. I just wanted to lighten the mood." He put his arms around her and pulled her into a warm embrace.

She let a few more tears fall, sniffled, then reached her arms up around his neck. After she let out a couple of big sighs as he rubbed her back, he said, "Feel better?"

Stacey nodded into his chest. Suddenly she started quivering. 

"Stace? Are you ok?"

She looked up at him with a smile and giggled, "Seriously? Butt crack?" They both laughed. "Come on," she said. "Let's go make some hot chocolate and snuggle by the fireplace."

"Sounds like a great way to spend the evening," Duncan said, and followed her to the kitchen. 

Constructive criticism welcome. This one really needs it!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I think the truth of how you feel about your looks is revealed when you have children. Though I didn't realized it at first since when our oldest was born, we thought, "Where did she come from? She doesn't look like either of us." But as she grew from a tiny, shapeless infant into a cuddly, round baby, her features became more defined. She has her daddy's mouth and eyes, but my skin color and hair color. I was surprised that noticing those attributes brought such strong memories to the surface. I remember being young and feeling angry with my mom for passing on the albino gene. I've never been able to tan. Freckles, sure; sunburns, often. I used to wish I had been born in the Victorian era when pale was "in". Until I realized I couldn't have survived without indoor plumbing. And really, I was lucky to be a teen in the 80's when big hair was stylish because until the miraculous invention of the Chi, I had no choice but big.

Though S has beautiful strawberry-blonde hair and creamy skin and gets lots of compliments now, the day will come when she'll be surrounded by kids who are tan and ask her if she ever gets to go outside. And even though everyone knows the sun is damaging, and the experts tell everyone NOT to get enough exposure to be tan, S will rue her genetics. But my hope is that she will someday be able to forgive me for that as I've come to forgive my mom. Though I don't love my freakishly white skin, it doesn't bother me like it used to. I've gotten to where I can laugh about it.

The same is not true for all my attributes that I feel less than fondly about. Fast forward a couple of years to when Baby R was born. She was clearly, from Day 1, my child. She looked just like my dad. Just like me. One of my best friends came to see us in the hospital and said exactly that and followed it up with, "She has your nose!" He meant it in a sweet way. But it marred my ideal view of our perfect child. I wanted to yell, "No, she doesn't!" I have always hated my nose. I broke it when I fell out of the top bunk when I was 3. It's been something I've been self-conscious of since. That one comment sent my mind on a rapid replay of a life's worth of self-rejection because I was uncomfortable with my looks. And my heart broke to think my sweet baby girl would have to relive that. Of course, it may have been the postpartum hormones kicking in, too.

Now that Baby R is a year old, I see her beautiful face and radiant smile and think to myself, she's gorgeous! What am I worried about? And then I realize, if she's gorgeous, and she looks like me, then that means I must be gorgeous, too. That's a tough concept to embrace this far along in life. I've posted before about learning to be comfortable in my (pale) skin, mainly to teach my children to be confident in their appearance. It's a struggle, but one I'm trying to win every day.
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