Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's been awhile

Just wanted to update my ol' writing blog. Mommy's Always Write has not been writing for quite some time. We've had some major changes in our family with husband going back to school full time and us downsizing our lives to accommodate that. Right now my numero uno job is to be a mommy and wife and try to keep order in this crazy time. So, for now, peace out. Thanks for sticking around and good luck to all you amazing writers out there.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mommy Mondays: MWF seeking BFF

I recently read a book by Rachel Bertsche called MWF seeking BFF. It is a great non-fiction book about a girl who found herself in a new town and without her best friends. She spends one year in a friend-seeking marathon where she "asks out" total strangers, tries to move acquaintances into her "friend circle," and tries a whole bunch of other tactics to increase her number of close friends.
This author tells lots of great information on friendship. She shared that studies show that close friendship ties are waaaaay more important to our health than close family ties. Can you believe that? Having super close friends is essentially the cure all to your problems (well, not really, but pretty much).

This book also says that it's FANTASTIC to have a great relationship with your Mom. But she's your Mom, not your BFF. It's fantastic to have a super close relationship with your sister. But she's your Sister, not your BFF. And same goes for husband. If you expect your hubs to "hash" out a topic with you over and over again for hours, cry with you over it, and down a tub of ice cream with you over it, you're going to find yourself lacking. Most men weren't made that way, and they're not supposed to be. That's why we marry them! Because they're different than us, not the same.

One of the studies this author talks about breaks friendships down into four categories. 1) LIFERS--those who are as deep and forever as family. 2) Close buddies--intimate friends you could share almost anything with. 3) Casual Friends--those you could have lunch with or who serve a specific purpose such as a running partner. 4) Acquaintances--someone you know well enough to chat with if you saw them on the street. He said a WOMAN should have 3-5 lifers, 5-12 Close buddies, 10-50 Casual friends, 10-100 Acquaintances. So what did I do? I took out a piece of paper and started listing my friends--Yes, I'm dorky like that.
What did I find?

I am really lacking in the friendship department!


Here's my guess. First off, my LIFERS are such amazing LIFERS that sometimes I tend to think I don't need to look for anyone else. The problem with this is often our LIFERS don't live close enough that we can hang out super frequently.
Second of all, I don't live by many people in both my CASUAL FRIEND and ACQUAINTANCE categories any more. And we probably weren't ever close enough that I would look them up and try to maintain a long-distance friendship.
Third of all, when the heck do I have time to "foster" these friendships? Life is crazy for all the women I know.

However, this book made me realize I do crave friendship even though I've got my LIFERS, a great mom, a great sister, and a superb husband. I have one friend I only made within the last year and I love her. I have another handful of ladies I'd love to get closer to, but I just have to put my brave on and do it!

Have you read this? Where do you fit in on the friendship spectrum?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mommy Mondays: What would you do with a free day?

Today my sister took my kids for the whole day just so I could have a "free" day to get stuff done. We switch like this every now and then.

I was so excited for my day! Here is what I imagined I'd do:
-get my haircut
-go to the bookstore
-redecorate my house
-refinish furniture
-take a nap
-organize closets
-deep clean children's rooms

And the list goes on and on... I'm not kidding you, I seriously thought I could accomplish all that in a day.

 But in reality, I was so excited and crazed that I was, well, ALONE, that my heart was pounding insanely all day. I felt like I was on speed. I rushed around the house in squirrel mode racing to get everything done. And in the end, here's all I really accomplished:


Yep. That's pretty much it. Mountains and mountains and mountains of laundry. (But at least I got to watch tons of episodes of Sister Wives on Netflix while I folded and folded and folded. I'm seriously hooked on that show.)

What would you want to do with a day off? But what would you probably end up doing?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mommy Mondays: This pretty much sums it up

Yes, yes Family. Mommy put the shoe basket there just for looks.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mommy Mondays: The random

Some thoughts:

1. Hallelujah Spring Break is over! I always really look forward to the kids' breaks. I also really look forward to school beginning again.

2. Who knew that a week off of our no-snack regimen would make for a hellish return to normalcy around here. Little #4 would like to eat Goldfish from 6 a.m. until bedtime.

3. It is 63 degrees right now! And tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s. You don't know how amazing this feels. While the rest of the country has been enjoying wonderful weather, we have been in the 30s and 40s with cold wind this entire spring. (And we're supposed to go back to that after tomorrow, but I will enjoy these two days with fervor.)

4. Birthday is coming up and I really HATE getting old. I would pick 24ish to stay at if I got to choose. Although, there is something nice about knowing your body is done being pregnant. (And no, Heavenly Father, just because I said that out loud, please don't strike me with an surprise pregnancy.)

5. Got totally addicted to a very cheesy high school show called "Switched at Birth" on Netflix. Have you seen it?

6. Easter was nice. I like it so much better than Halloween...

7. This has been going around in my mind so much lately: Where would I live if I got to choose? I seriously can't figure it out. Wyoming doesn't feel like home any more. Washington feels like home because of the people who are here, but I really don't like this city. Hubby wants somewhere that is warm and has lots of lakes. Hmmm. Do you know where you'd live if you could really go anywhere?

8. Husband is taking math, physics and chemistry this quarter. It's a good thing he is smart because I may be an asset on English papers, but math, not-so-much. I have trouble helping my third grader with her math. And when I don't know the answer I just say "Honey, you HAVE to figure it out on your own."

So what's happening for you lately?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Remembering

Three years ago this week I was headed to my awesome small-town family Dr. for a run-of-the-mill appointment. It was my fourth baby, so I had literally been through TONS of these appointments before, and felt I had the protocol down pat.

-pee in cup (and now that I think about it, this little portion deserves it's very own blog post. If you've ever attempted this with other children in the room, you know why.)
-measure that monster belly
-and hear the heartbeat

And that about covers it. I was an old pro at the routine, and so my husband knew I didn't want him to get off work to come along with me. We've never had those "fancy people" things like paid sick leave and vacation time and stuff, so him getting off work for anything unnecessary was rare.

I dropped my kiddos at my bff's house and headed in for the same-old/same-old.

Or so I thought.

Pee went as planned. Measure went as planned. But heartbeat didn't go as planned.

You know where I'm going with this.

I was 14 and a half weeks pregnant and had already heard a strong heartbeat at 10 weeks, I thought for sure the nurse must be mistaken. She called in the Doc who poured more freezing jelly on my tummy and tried and tried and tried to hear a heartbeat with the little machine. Even when he couldn't find it, I didn't panic--If there's one thing my body can do really well, it's carry babies. I had had three uneventful pregnancies that had ended in big healthy babies. I had never struggled to get pregnant. I never threw up once from morning sickness. THIS GIRL COULD DO PREGNANCY, I thought.

Besides, I was already past the first trimester and I was showing.

Dr. reassured me that the baby could be hiding, but at 14 and a half weeks, finding the heartbeat shouldn't be this hard. He sent me to the hospital (which was about 15 minutes away) for an ultrasound. I used the office phone (I didn't have a cell) to call Dan, but I still told him not to leave work. I was certain things would be fine. I went confidently into the radiology office but that's when things fell apart.

The waiting room was full but a team of people seemed to be waiting for me. "Are you Maggie?" A nurse asked. They took me right back to a room and assured me their most experienced tech would be working with me.

I got into the room and prayed and prayed the baby was fine while the tech began the ultrasound with the screen pointed away from me. It was probably a short ultrasound, but to me it felt like the longest one I'd ever had. And after a few minutes of silence, I knew the baby must not be alive.

I let the tears run down my cheeks and finally asked, "Is the heartbeat not there?"

He shook his head no and showed me the screen. The baby had anencephaly--a disease where part of their skull doesn't form completely. The tech estimated it had died only a few days earlier.

I lied when he asked me if I was ok. And bawled and bawled while I dressed and made my way back to my car. I can't believe I made it back home safely because I was so upset. No one should have to face that ultrasound alone.

Finally I walked into my friend's house and crumpled into her arms. Dan had just made it there too, to pick up the kids, and I just let him hold me.

The rest of the day was kind of an adrenaline rush of letting everyone know we had miscarried, and explaining the situation to our three little girls. Because I was further along I also had to have a DNC a few days later.

I spent the next little while going through the motions of motherhood and life, but feeling disappointed and even guilty. I knew the surgery was necessary, but I couldn't fathom the idea of taking a baby out of me that wasn't ready to be born. I felt horrible for being so depressed when I already had three healthy children at home and some women couldn't get pregnant at all. For a few days I couldn't function. I even ran out of the room crying after I was asked to hold my girlfriend's baby girl.

But soon out of the woodwork came so many women telling me about their own experiences with miscarriage. And I must say, hearing their stories buoyed me up. I know for some people, talking about such personal wounds isn't comfortable. They would rather grieve privately, and that's completely ok. For me, talking about it was a comfort.

And honestly, I think that's one of my main focuses with this blog--buoying each other up. When I meet a woman who tries to put off a perfect persona, am I drawn to her? Of course not. I feel inferior and depressed and intimidated by her. But when I meet someone who isn't afraid to say, "Guess what? I didn't even shower today!" I instantly feel a connection to her. It's the same in the writing community for me. I love sharing in your stories of struggle and triumph in taking your books from simple ideas to full blown novels.

So I guess that's why I am sharing my miscarriage story for the first time on my blog. Because tons of women go through it. I think one of the best salves we have as women is to be able to share in our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows.

Oh and by the way, we went on to have a total normal pregnancy and little boy about a year later.

I don't have a cutesy question for you today, but have you had experiences where sharing them with others has helped?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We've almost done it...... Shhhh

We've kept a secret from our kids for six months and it has to do with an airplane and a mouse with big black ears.

Only a few more days.


I'm so excited I can barely sleep.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Another family trip in the record books

I was thinking about my family blog as a journal and how we always post pictures of when something fun or celebratory is happening. Then in our posts we write about how great things are and all that.

I think it's good to preserve the good memories, but sometimes blogs or Facebook statuses don't always portray real life. The pictures lie. Am I right?

Case in point: Friday Dan had the day off work and the girls had the day off school. We decided early in the week to go out to Lake Roosevelt for a day trip/picnic since the weather forecast said upper 50s! This is where I would insert the pictures of our happy little family on a wonderful trip. And I did that on our private blog, but I can't on a public one (because of kids and safety and that stuff), so you just get this one:
Our FAVORITE campsite.

So, now, using your active imaginations, wouldn't those pictures make you go "ooh. ahhh. What a fabulous day they had?! They are such a perfect family." Okay, maybe not, but something to that effect. Right? And it was a pretty good day. But now let me tell you what the pictures DON'T tell you....

The rest of the story:
Going anywhere with four children is a feat. The packing alone is stressful. So to get all the crap together (dinner, snacks, movies for the car, coats, sweatshirts, camping chairs, roasting sticks, diapers, wipes, jammies for the way home, smore stuff, wood for a fire, ax, sippy cup, special blankies) required a good hour and a half. Getting the kiddos in proper outdoor clothing was a whole other feat--in which we only succeeded in 3 out of 4 children. Daughter number 3 wore her ruby red Dorothy slippers, which were promptly caked in mud and soaked through with water. The packing/dressing of the children resulted in several of these yells (by Mom and Dad).
"Are you kidding me?"
"Maybe we should just stay home."
"Why did we plan something fun? I don't know!"

Alas; we were finally packed and in the car. Before we had left town there were fights. Fights about not having a good view of the movie screen; fights about who got which seat; fights about not receiving a constant stream of sugar for the entire ride. And then the are-we-there-yets? started.
"No. We just left town."
"No. We're only 10 minutes from town."
"No. Not half-way yet."

We finally reached the spot (which really is our favorite). But shucks. 50 degrees in the shade with the wind blowing up off the lake just does NOT feel very warm. Oh well, right? Let's head to the playground. There the kids had fun minus a few skirmishes about how two adult arms should be able to push three children simultaneously on the swings. Oh yeah, and a few skirmishes about the mud... And the cold...

We took a short walk and played in the sand for a few minutes and then realized camping is kind of boring without friends anyway. And guess what the kids wanted to do? Get in the car and watch a movie. And guess what the parents said? Fine.

The girls climbed in the Suburban while Dad, Mom and Little Guy shivered by the fire. We were ready to cook dinner by 4. We got the girls out to roast hotdogs and any on-lookers would have heard some of these things.
"Be careful. You're too close."
"Scoot back!"
"Crap. You dropped your hot dog in the fire."

But finally they were cooked and then the great weeping and wailing began:
"I haaaaaaaaaaaaate hotdogs that look like this! They're black. They taste nasty! I like them in the microwave!"
And then there was a little more of this:
"Why do we plan fun things?"

On to smores and sticky faces and fingers and a quick pack up before we all get frostbite. And no one wants to try the outhouse, so there is pee on shoes and jeans and panties (because the squatting has yet to be mastered).

"But wait Mom. One more trip to the playground, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease."
We give in.

And our oldest totally wipes out in the mud. Her entire left side is covered in muck and it is actually really, really cute and I make her pose for a picture where she has a cute I'm-a-little-Tom-boy-in-the-mud smile. But in reality she cries for close to 30 minutes about how yucky it feels.

Yeah, that picture definitely lied.

Ahhh. Another family trip in the record books. And honestly, it did have splashes of fun, and it was nice to get out of the house. But there you have the rest of the story.

Do your pictures tend to be little liars too?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: On the outside looking in

We had a really awesome feature in our first home. It wasn't a four-car garage. It wasn't a master suite. No. It was two half-laundry rooms.

Wow! you say? Let me explain.

Because of electrical/plumbing/gas features of which I don't understand, our washing machine had to be in the basement and our dryer had to be in the garage. This meant lugging dirty clothes from the bedrooms down the dangerously narrow stairs; then lugging wet clothes up the stairs and into the unheated garage; then lugging dry clothes into the house to be folded and redistributed in bedrooms.

It was fun.

But this special home feature isn't the point of this post. So, on with the story.

One day my 18-month old toddled around the kitchen while I went downstairs to bring up the laundry. I carefully opened and closed the stair gate when I went down. I gathered the clothes, came up and headed to the garage to put them in the dryer. I shut the door behind me to keep little hands out of the dirty garage and loaded the dryer. Check.

But my stomach leaped into my throat when I tried the doorknob and realized I had locked it. I panicked. I tore through the garage but found our hide-a-key was no longer hidden. I let myself out of the garage and around to the front and back doors but they were both locked. I went back to the garage and opened the tiny cat door which we had never used. With all my contortionist maneuvers I could not reach the lock on the inside.

It was no use. I was locked out.

And my daughter was locked in.

She toddled over to me, squatted down, and tilted her cute little chubby cheeks to see through the tiny door. Now, there are two things you should know about our oldest daughter. First off she spoke full sentences at 18 months. I promise. (I'll tell you the second thing in a minute. You know, for suspense building and stuff.)

"Mommy come in!"
"Mommy come in!!!"
"Mommy! Come! In!!!!!"

But no matter how smart she was, I couldn't get her to understand what I meant by "Please turn that little line on the doorknob for Mommy."

She cried for a minute but then a toy distracted her and she left goof-ball Mommy peering through the cat door. I glanced across the kitchen and to my horror discovered two things. In my rush to get to the dryer I had accidentally left the stair gate open. And secondly, the "toy" that distracted her was the lit--and not entirely stable--Christmas tree.

That's when I started crying.

Oh yeah, the second thing I should tell you is that although our daughter could speak full sentences, she didn't walk until 16 months. So, her current walk was more of a drunken sailor act then a steady gait. And stairs had not yet even been tried. The narrow flight suddenly resembled a twelve foot drop onto iron spikes. I ran outside in my socks and to the front picture window. With tears streaming down my face I watched our baby with her new found independence and prayed she'd stay safe in the pit of danger I had left her in.

I glanced up and down the road and back into the window and made a choice. I took off running full speed to the neighbor's house. No one answered. I raced to the next house and pounded on the door. An interesting fellow and 15 cats greeted me and let me use his cell phone to call my husband. Of course he didn't answer.

I used the neighbor's phone book to look up Dan's office phone number and called the secretary. This entire thing probably only took minutes, but I felt like I was sitting on a ticking time bomb. The office lady said she'd get a hold of Dan in the field and let him know.

I raced home and to the window again to see our little girl playing with the balls on the Christmas tree. I envisioned it falling down on her, or shocking her, or something worse. I stood there crying as the longest half hour of my life slowly ticked by. There were so many times I considered running back and calling the police instead of waiting for Dan. But I was too afraid to leave her again.

And then finally the rumble of diesel engine came down the street and I prayed it was a work truck. It was. Dan unlocked the door and I rushed in to our baby--who had remained perfectly safe--and held her tight.

This was one of my scariest Mommy moments ever.

Now, if I look at it objectively, I realize that I would probably freak out a lot less if it were to happen these days. I was a very high strung and try-to-be-perfect first time mother. But still, even now, I wouldn't like to go through it again. I certainly wouldn't want my baby to.

But what is it that made the situation so terrifying? The fact that I was on the outside looking in and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

How often does that happen in life?

Some people face years of infertility. Others experience unemployment for extended periods of time. Sometimes depression makes you feel like there is nothing you can do to change your life.

And after you've done all that you can, the only thing left to do is Wait. It. Out.

And man isn't waiting hard? In these moments I would do well to remember Psalms 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

What obstacle has left you feeling completely helpless? Or do you have your own terrifying Mommy moment to share?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Writer Wednesdays: Craft vs. Talent

I have always considered writing as a craft--something that if worked hard enough at, someone would have to eventually succeed...

But I also believe writing is a talent.

To be successful (in the Mommy's-Always-Write-rulebook-of-success (it's only sold one copy (like the parenthesis within a parenthesis within a parenthesis?))) I would estimate a writer should combine about 90 percent hard work at learning the craft and 10 percent talent.

Some people disagree with me. Some people think you can succeed at ANYTHING if you try hard enough--even if you have zero natural talent. I disagree. I simply wasn't built (physically or emotionally) for women's boxing. I simply am too nervous to sing solo in front of people. And let's face it, without some major plastic surgery, I'm never going to walk the runway.

Others think success in something (including writing) is based largely upon your natural talents. In Stephen King's book On Writing, he says that someone can improve themselves from the status of bad writer to mediocre writer by sheer willpower and tenacity but moving one's self from mediocre writer to great writer is impossible without inborn talent. I disagree on this point as well.

I guess what is bringing this post up right now are a couple factors:
1. I know so many of you writer friends who HAVE worked your butts off. You've put in long days, long weeks, and long years behind the keyboard. You've been to writer's conferences. You've learned from the web. You've read and bookmarked many craft books on writing. And you've written. You've written novels, and short stories, and blog posts, and many, many more novels. You've edited. You've critiqued. You've worked and worked and worked....
Yet your successes (in the landing-an-agent/signing-a-book-deal arena) have been small.
2. On the flip side, many of you ARE finding success. And in big ways. It seems that every month or so another writing blogger is publishing her "GOOD NEWS!" post where she signed a contract with an agent or landed a big book deal.

So where do the rest of us fit in in the scheme of things?

Personally, I know my time hasn't come yet because I'm not putting in the hard work. I do feel I have at least 10 percent writing talent. (Yahoo for 10 percent!) I do feel I have worked very hard, but it always comes in short spurts for me. At this point in my writing career I am not putting in the day after day after day strict writing regiment that I was doing when my first novel was published.

And you know what? It kind of sucks. Because working hard for something just isn't fun!

And of course there are all those other factors such as right place/right time. Sheer luck and yada yada yada. But I'm skipping over those for today.

The good news is, I feel I CAN make it. Just not right now.
The bad news is, I feel I CAN make it. Just not right now.

So now I want to hear from you. Where do you stand on the craft vs. talent school of thought? Also, if you have "made it" to what do you attribute your success? And if you haven't "made it" what do you think is holding you back?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Woohoo

Sometimes I pull myself up by the bootstraps and do something out of the ordinary. I take a break from my normal underachievement and blow even my own socks off. I thought my daughter's Valentine's Day hair qualified as one of these moments. (I got the idea from Pinterest---of course!)

What Mommy Moment have you done superbly lately? Go ahead, pat yourself on the back!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mommy Mondays: A Reminder Why I Never Leave The House

"It's library day," my sister says when she calls. "Do you want to go?"
A quick glance at my disaster house and my tantrum-throwing almost two-year-old tells me, "Don't do it... You've begun a strict regimen of never leaving the house. Remember?"
But my voice says "Sure."

As we enter the storytime room I see myself in the myriad of women who surround me. But it's not the myself I am now. It's the old myself--the one who was cuter and spunkier and only had one child myself. It's the myself from nine years ago.

The ladies present are the myselves who still dress trendy and have baby equipment that doesn't appear to have come from a 1990s daycare center garage sale. They're the myselves with huge diaper bags containing granola bars and bottled water and other fancy lady stuff like medicine and a plastic changing pad and baby wipes.

***I mean if my kid has the gumption to go poop at the library he can handle the ten minute ride home in his dirty diaper. Those baby changing stations weren't made for mothers with lots of children. Mine run around the public bathroom saying "what's this?" while they stare at the condom dispenser and crawling on the diseased tile to go under a locked stall door.***

Those ladies are the myselves who are looking for friendship and camaraderie. They're the myselves who sidle up to other moms and say, "How old is your little one?" just to start a conversation about shots and potty training and oh-my-gosh-he-can-read?!!

If a cute young Mom sidles up to me and says "How old is your little one?" I might just say, "I'm 32. Don't waste your time here." I know 32 isn't old in today's mommy standards, but when faced with a barrage of first time mommies with skinny butts, all I can remember is how OLD I am.

And it's okay that they are that way. Like I say, I was too. I was the 23-year-old first time Mommy who took my youngest to a puppet show when she was two weeks old. I'm. Not. Kidding. We walked to the library EVERY SINGLE WEEK and I often used the "How old is your little one?" line like a schmoozy used car salesman. It was a happy time of life.

These gals are wonderful ladies and moms. So why does the jaded side of me want to say, "Guess what? I know something you don't know."

What would that "something" be? Who knows? Maybe that it's not all going to be easy. That they're not always going to be nice. That they're going to yell. That they're going to feel frumpy. That they're going to cry.

I would tell them it's going to be worth it--yes. It's going to be perfect at times--yes. But growing old and growing from the first-time Mom to the fourth-time Mom is also going to hurt like heck.

But of course they wouldn't want to hear that. I SURE WOULDN'T HAVE! The reality of what they should be told is this--Great job! You are doing an absolutely great job!

Anyway, back to the library: My baby threw a royal tantrum when the Tootie Fruities were dolled out for bracelets (and apparently a paper plate full of free snacks wasn't his idea of enough).

Needless to say, we didn't make any new friends at the library today. But hey, my two middles had a great time, so I suppose it was worth dragging my recently designated recluse self out of the house.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Returning to an old WIP

I've got this craziness (I know, ANOTHER one!) where I work best in spurts.

For instance, a few years back I became interested in genealogy. And when I say interested, I mean obsessed. I spent every free moment on this endeavor. I immersed myself for a couple of months and then quit completely. I've never touched it since.

And that's how most of my endeavors end up. So if I want to finish a book, I do best to get it all out on paper while the coals are hot. Returning to something once my passion is gone is super difficult. That being said, sometimes I DO put a work in progress aside and have to return to it later.

Have you ever returned to a half-written book?

How did you get the creative juices flowing again. Did you re-read and then re-outline the second half? Did you just dive right in?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What was I thinking?

More and more posts seem to be having this same title. Hmmmm.

Anywho, on with the post...

I think the Daddy/Daughter relationship is very, very, very important. But sometimes I tend to go overboard.

I have lots of preconceived notions about what dads and daughters with good relationships are like. And low and behold, I recently got a thing in the mail that seemed to fit those preconceived notions PERFECTLY! The local Girl Scouts were hosting a Daddy-Daughter Dance and my little heartstrings got to stirring. "Wouldn't that be soooo special?" "Wouldn't that be what CLOSE daddies and daughters do?"

So I nonchalantly brought the pretty purple paper to my husband's attention. And without trying to show the anxiousness in my voice I said, "Is this something you would be interested in?"

He glanced at it and said, "Sure."

I did a double take. I have the best husband in the world, but he isn't known for his love of dancing. In fact Dan never attended a single high school dance, and he danced the minimum required dances at our wedding (but to his credit, that might be because his mind was on the hotel room--if you know what I mean).

His agreeing to this was a big deal to me.

So as the days got closer, I could barely restrain myself from telling the girls. However, my eight years of Mommyhood have schooled me in avoiding the "How many days until Christmas" syndrome, so I knew to keep my mouth shut until the dance was close. Very, very close.

Finally I broke the news and the three little ladies were super excited. They began talking about dresses and hairdos. And when Dan came home from work that night, our four-year-old met him at the door. "Daddy could you put on your church clothes and come downstairs so we can practice our dance moves?"

The big night arrived and the girls were all ready. I was excited to spend a night grocery shopping with our little son who is still too young to beg to peruse the Barbie Aisle or to push the cart. The girls and Dan headed off in the White Horse of a Suburban. Dan told me later that half way down the hill they started fighting over who would get to dance with him first. The six-year-old quietly told the four-year-old "You probably don't want to go first because I don't think Dad knows any moves."

(Looking back, I'm thinking they may have thought the entire night was supposed to be choreographed.)

I headed out Walmart and had scarcely reached the parking lot when I got the first text: "They are so shy and sad. Lily is crying."

What??!! But they were excited!

Several more texts offered the same bleak outlook of three girls glued to their daddy's legs with tears streaming down their faces--and not in a sweet dance move way.

You see... Our three daughters picked my gender (being a girl) and every other trait they inherited came from Daddy. The biggest one is their shyness. Despite having dance moves planned, dresses donned, and hairdos that took several hours, when they hit the door to that gymnasium, they lost their nerve.

And it hit me. I should have known this. I should have seen it coming. But my preconceived notions of what they SHOULD be like totally outweighed my knowledge of who they really are. My husband and daughters are quiet around new situations and new people. They don't like attention in a crowd. They would rather be sideliners. At home or with family and friends they are completely different. But new situations are tough.

But you know what? Dan and the girls have a pretty great relationship despite this.

Dan has never missed their performances at school/church/sports. He is a good example to them. He loves to joke around and tease with them.

All three of the girls have gone on a one-on-one parent date EVERY SINGLE MONTH since they turned two years old. And 95 percent of the time, they pick Dad. They have gone boating. They have camped out in the back yard. They have built dog houses. They have made cakes. They have gone mini golfing. And doughnut eating. And they love nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch a movie and eat candy with their dad. Now doesn't that sound about as perfect as it can get?

Well, needless to say, the four of them stuck out the dance for about an hour. And now that I think about it, I think that is just great!

When have your preconceived notions been proven wrong? Any tips on encouraging Daddy-Daughter relationships without going overboard?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did the Kindle light your fire?

I know several of you got the new Kindle for Christmas. Me too. Me too.

I love it. It's so schnazzy and I feel all smart now. No, really, I do. (Except for when I'm yelling all the time "Aah, I didn't mean to hit that button!" No, I've never had a smart phone.)

But anywho, do you love it?

I've found I love reading magazines on it. Checking email. Playing games. Letting the kids watch movies. And browsing through the Amazon store. But as far as actually reading books, I'm still on the fence.

I think I might prefer the paper version.

It's just that even with the screen turned all the way down it kind of hurts my eyes at night. And the little percentage thing that tells you how far you are in a book just doesn't do it for me. I like to SEE my book with a bookmark in it and know I'm half way. I am ALWAYS accidentally highlighting things or turning the page when I don't mean to. Also, ebooks (at least the popular ones) don't seem to be a whole lot cheaper than regular books. I am enjoying lots of the classics for free though.

What's your thoughts? Did you love the e-reader as much as you thought you would?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Red Solo Cup

Photo from CMT

Wow, I rarely hate a song.

That's not true.

I often hate a song... But this one I really dislike.

Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup.

Have you heard it?

It's just about those little red Solo cups you buy at Walmart for barbecues and Christmas parties and high school keggers. But that's where the annoying part comes in: the song (and video) remind me of keggers and teenagers getting drunk and stuff like that. Which would be just fine were the song coming from someone of Justin Beiber's or Taylor Swift's age range.

But Toby's? Really?

Let me ask my loyal readers this. Do you remember your last few years of high school? There you were in your ___________________ (insert 1990s fashion here). You were hanging out at a party (insert judgmental comment here: "I never went to a party and I can't believe Maggie did either. Where's the "Unfollow" button!)
And some guy pulls up in his black Trans Am with an eagle painted on the hood and everyone was like

"Who is that guy?! I swear he's like 22 or something. Ewww!"

Well, when I hear Toby Keith singing Red Solo Cup all I can think of is that gross old guy at the high school party. Here are my version of the lyrics:

Red solo cup. I fill you up.
Let's have a party.
Because I am 50.
(and I Googled it--he really is 50)

Oh ya Red solo cup.

I'm not saying older folks shouldn't party. Heck we use our share of red Solo cups all the time (for seltzer water--haha just kidding. We drink a mean cup of Sprite over here!). I just get the creepy high school kegger vibe from this song, and for that, Toby is just too old.

I mean the video has girls in Daisy Dukes and bikini tops in it. I dare say those aren't his peers.

That and, any song that uses the word testicle in a rhyme just doesn't get my vote.

Heard any lame music lyrics lately? Or, have any awesome red solo cup memories of your own?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A ghetto-fantastic childhood

I had a friend in high school who lived right across the street. The first time I ever met him, it was late at night and I saw a kid hanging out his bedroom window smoking. We met awhile later and became the best of friends (--and don't worry, his smoking didn't rub off on me. In fact, I don't think it rubbed off on him much either).

Anyway, his family and my family were friends throughout all my teen years in Wyoming. We watched their house burn down while they were on vacation and had to call and tell them about it.

My friend must be visiting Cody because a few days ago on Facebook he posted a picture of the house I grew up in.

And here it is in all its glory:

My Facebook response went like this:
"Oh my gosh. Was it always that ghetto?"

It made me think about how our perception changes as we grow and start to see things through adult eyes.

I remember having friends who had really big and neat houses, but I don't remember ever being embarrassed of my own. I remember that our house cost my parents $45,000 to buy and it sat on an acre of land. I remember someone telling me their parents bought a house for $100,000 and I imagined it must be a mansion with marble columns on either side of the grand staircase.

I remember that the 8x8 laundry room in our house also served as a bedroom (for two people). It had no closet or dressers (I am just now wondering for the first time where all the clothes were). And we had an awesome game of using the string that hung from the lightbulb to swing from the top bunk to the top of the dryer.
I remember that the house was ALWAYS freezing. I remember my sister and I almost burning down the house once by starting a fire in the wood stove and leaving a full box of matches on top of the stove.
I remember the paint peeling on the front fence (which isn't there any more), and I remember EVERYONE drove into the little ditch when they pulled into our driveway. I remember the house was gray until my colorblind dad painted it the current color--PINK, if you ask me--but tan to him.

I remember my dad building the big metal shop in the back by hand and watching him walk across the super high trusses carrying two by fours. I remember the big addition he put on the back of the house over a span of eight years so that they could do it without debt.
I remember the summer my parents moved to Washington and I stayed in the house by myself at the age of 17. Man did I think I knew everything.

Did I think my life was ghetto back then?
Of course not.
Was it though?
I'm not sure.

Today I live on a nice Suburbia-ish street where each home is well maintained and under ten years old. We have sidewalks and vinyl siding and vaulted ceilings, and I still look at those nicer houses--the ones my friends live in or that I visit from time to time--and I feel envy. I feel like I don't have anything.
But I have so much.

Whether I came from Ghettoville or it's just turned to Ghettoville since we've been gone, who knows. Either way, I know I had a great childhood in that house. My parents worked really hard and sacrificed for us all the time. I have so many fond memories of growing up on that street, and I hope that's what happens to my kids too.

I hope they don't notice that the Suburban is getting close to its last leg. I hope they forgive me that sometimes their gifts are second hand, and that almost all of their clothes are hand-me-downs. I hope they are patient as we go through these lean college years and then the starting-a-new-career-at-close-to-40 years.

I may have been ghetto, who knows. We seem to have turned out all right.

Do you think your view of your childhood has changed now that you're an adult?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's that book you're hiding under?

Photo from Seattle Library site

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you're going to write, you better read.

****In fact, my best writing procrastination tool is reading****

But anywho...

My favorite read of 2011 was the massive; the enormous; the 1000-paged:
The Pillars of the Earth
(Although the further I got into this book, the more rated R it seemed. Just warning ya... As much as I wanted to, I WILL NOT be watching the movie.)

Followed closely by:
The Help
The Guernsey Literary and Sweet Potato Peel Pie Society

Oh yeah, and
The End of Normal (it had the train wreck thing going on where I just couldn't look away).

The writing book I liked best was:
Writing the Breakout Novel

The two books EVERYONE else loved that just didn't do it for me:
Cutting For Stone (seriously, if I still hate it after I'm 300 pages in, I just can't go on)
******sorry, I really wanted to love it, and I am uber jealous and impressed with Ally Condie and her amazing success, but I just felt like everything was just a little too DESCRIBED. Does that make sense? Like, the main character might just describe the smell, sight and feel of the toilet paper because she was so in tune with every tiny detail*******

A few of the books I was bummed I had to put aside for naughtiness factor:
A Reliable Wife
Water for Elephants

And the book I still haven't gotten my hands on that I really want to read?

So, there you have it.

What did you love in 2011? What did you hate? What did EVERYONE else love that you just didn't get that into?