Got milk?

I’m tall.  It’s taken me many, many years to get comfortable with being tall.  Short women seem to have it easy; they can find pants that are long enough, they can find cute shoes in their size, most men seem tall to them, etc. etc.

But there are times when being tall has it’s advantages and I’m not going to lie, most of them happen in the grocery store.  From the time I was a teen, I’ve learned to recognize that relieved look a shorter person would have when I started down an aisle.  As soon as I was close enough they’d ask me to get an item from the top shelf for them.  Or one close to the top but near the back of the shelf.

It’s been a while though, since I’ve used my height and arms for the good of myself or another in the grocery store.  So it was nice today, when I went shopping and came upon the milk.  All the milks I could see had an expiration date that wouldn’t get them through to the next time I needed to go to the store.  I almost decided to go without milk but then I noticed a rack of milk further back in the refrigerator.  If I stepped in just slightly, I would be able to reach a milk on the top shelf of that second rack.  So I did it! I got a milk with an expiration date that will get me through almost two weeks! I put the milk in my cart, feeling pretty good about my amazonian arms when I noticed an older gentlemen looking at me, it was clear he had just witnessed what I had done.  He asked if the date was better on those and I confirmed they were.  Then he asked if I would get him one too.  No problem!  I got him one and then we talked briefly about why this matters (neither of us use a lot of milk so it’s nice to have it last as long as possible).  I could tell he was awed by my ability and maybe by my refusal to accept the expiration date offered me.

This is my life now – changing diapers, medicating a cat, chasing a toddler, and fighting against the grocery man and his expiration dates…it’s a pretty good life.

 

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Back in the Saddle

Wow – I’ve really dropped off the face of the earth, haven’t I?  So I guess the best way to explain my absence is with this picture:

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I’m not saying this excuses me – but, well, it kind of does.  First the exhaustion set in, then the nausea.  I’m starting to feel better and I haven’t thrown up in 4 days which is my new record.  So I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m over that part.

In October I attended a writers conference here in RVA.  It was great.  I have to say though, not every panel came through as well as I had hoped, but that happens because it’s a panel of authors and sometimes they get sidetracked or they don’t completely understand their topic so they just modify it.  There was one panel where one panelist kind of took over and she didn’t stay on topic, she said (and even stated that’s what she was doing) whatever came into her mind. I didn’t like that panel at all.  But other than that it was good as usual.  I was able to meet with an experienced author to go over the first page of my story.  I was semi-nervous as I was sharing my writing with a complete stranger, but when a woman in my writing group found out I had signed up for that she called me brave (she knows the guy I was going to meet with).  That’s when I became really nervous.  I tried to calm down and when I met with him I was ready for the worst.  But he was actually really nice, had great advice, and complimented my writing.  I told that to the other woman in my writing group and she told me that I should feel very good about that because this man was known for his bluntness and if he didn’t like my writing he wouldn’t have hesitated to tell me so – or to even tell me that maybe I shouldn’t even be writing.  So I felt pretty good the rest of the conference.

That being said – I haven’t written anything since.  Book, blog or otherwise.  So I’m trying to get back in to it.  I want to write at least 100 words a day in my story – 1) because that was recommended at the writers conference to help develop the habit and keep moving forward and 2) 100 words seems doable and not overwhelming.

Also, my friend, Ashley has asked me to do a guest post at her blog about life as a single, LDS woman.  Granted I’m not single anymore, I have spent more of my adult life single.  I have no idea what to say or how it will turn out, but I figure if I started to write (blog and book) then I’d be better able to start writing something about those days as a single lass.

In the rest of my world – Stormy is doing well.  He is so fast and crazy and I swear he undoes everything I do – BUT he is learning to help out too.  I’ve got him throwing away his own diapers and cleaning up most of his own messes.  It’s so fun to watch him learn and grow and develop.  He’s more affectionate now and I like to tell myself it’s because I’m his best friend.  When you think about it – I’m almost everywhere he goes, I play with him the most, and I give him all the good food when no one’s watching. We gave him his first haircut – in two parts because apparently it’s pretty traumatic.  So for about twelve hours he was half done, but – with the exception of a wisp here and there,  I think he looks pretty good now.

I’m not really sure what else to update on so I’ll leave you with some more recent pictures and hopefully I’ll be writing again before too long.  Also – I’ll post a link when I finally get that guest blog over to Ashley.

 

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Awkward is my middle name 

I was driving along today and a random thought entered my mind as they are wont to do. It was a memory from a few months ago. Sister Missionaries from church, but a different ward) came by my house looking for people who spoke Spanish. They didn’t know I was a member of the church so I told them and then politely told them I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood (at all, much less those who speak Spanish). It was hot outside so I offered them water and they asked if I had bottles, which I didn’t. After telling them so there was a long and awkward silence.  I felt bad because they didn’t want my water if it wasn’t in a bottle. They finally said goodbye and went on their way. I’ve thought about this interaction before and how bad I felt and because of them I keep bottled water in my fridge- just in case. However, today a thought occurred to me…that silence might have been where they were still hoping did water, while I assumed they didn’t want any of it wasn’t in a bottle. The awkward pause wasn’t them, it was me. 

Which got me thinking about another awkward situation many moons ago. I was at the movie theater with two friends. A group of teenage boys had taken the seats right next to us, I was the one right next to them. 

If you’ve ever been to a movie theater you know it gets dark. So we’re watching the movie and suddenly a twisler comes into view from my left where the boys are sitting. The twizzler hoovers in front of me until I finally reach my hand up and take it. I don’t remember if I said thank you or not but I don’t like twizzlers so I passed it down the line on my right. 

Several minutes pass and lo and behold another twizzler comes into view. I don’t know what to do, I already accepted the first so I feel I should just take another. This time I’m pretty sure I said thank you as I took it and passed it down again. 

After the movie I kind of avoided eye contact because I felt the whole encounter weird but they just got up and left. 

My friends asked what the deal with the twizzlers was and so I explained the story as you’ve just read it. As I was telling the story the thought occurred to me…what if they weren’t handing me a twizzler? What if the kid just had his arm on the armrest and the twizzler just got of hung in front of me. When I took it he thought how weird that was and so maybe the second one was on purpose to see if I would take it. Which I did. So while I was telling the story of this guy sharing his twizzlers he was telling the story of the awkward girl sitting next to him taking his food. 

Apparently it’s only after an awkward situation that I think maybe I’m the reason it was awkward. 

In West Philadelphia…

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA.  I find it’s not so easy to get on the computer and type up a blog post when you have a 14 month old.  I can’t leave him unsupervised too long as he has now tried to eat soap, took a bite out of deodorant and pulls open the oven (either on or off, baby don’t care).  And if he’s not busy finding reasons for me to call poison control, he’s at the baby gate (which blocks him from the computer/kitty liter box room begging to come in and destroy everything…and maybe taste some cat liter).  Anyway – the beastie is slumbering so I thought I’d take the chance to catch up a little on the blog.

Last week, Stormy and I were able to travel up to Philadelphia Pennsylvania with the young women at church for the temple open house up there.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the words I just typed – in our church we have meeting houses where we get together on Sundays and during the week for activities and then we have temples.  There are far less temples than meeting houses and the temple is far more sacred.  Near us, we have the D.C. Temple (where Chewy and I were married) and the Raleigh Temple and now the Philadelphia Temple.  So you can see there aren’t as many.  When a temple is first built they have an open house where anyone (member of our church or not) can go and get a tour.  Then they dedicate the temple and once the temple is dedicated it’s closed to the public.  Only members of our church who have a recommend can enter.

The PA temple will be dedicated sometime in September so until then, the public is welcome to go and tour.

Ok – with that out of the way, here’s our trip.  The ride up went extremely well.  We got there in four-five hours (we stopped for lunch).  Stormy did really well.  I had two of the young women with me and one sitting in the back keeping him entertained.  We easily found the parking deck we wanted (I get anxious about city driving – mostly because of the parking situation in every city known to man).  We met up with another young woman who recently moved from our ward to PA.  It was great to see her and her mom again.  Then we went exploring.

The heat index was at about 1,000 degrees that day and I had a backpack and a baby.  Sweat literally dripped from me from the moment we we walked ten feet until ten minutes after we found air condition.  How did people survive in the days before air conditioning?



We first went to the Liberty Bell.  I have to say, I expected some elevation, a flight of stairs or an elevator ride…I don’t know why I thought this.  It’s ground floor at the end of a hallway.  There were lots of people but it wasn’t too crowded.  We didn’t spend long there, probably because we didn’t want to lose any of the girls.  So we took a picture and headed to Independence Hall.

 


For whatever reason we didn’t actually go to Independence Hall – we just took a picture.  It started to remind me of my D.C. trip with my sisters a few years back where I was stuck driving and we drove by things taking pictures…and I hated it.  Except I didn’t hate this, I just wanted to get inside.  I was giving Stormy water like crazy because I was so worried he would dry out.

We made our way to a visitor center with a gift shop and information but most importantly, a water fountain and air conditioning.

They had a moving dinosaur 


We remained there until it was time to go to dinner.

The walk through the city wasn’t so bad, except that we had a hoard of teenage girls from Mechanicsville, VA-many of which had probably never been in a city before.  They were distracted by shiny things, boys, homeless people mumbling.  It was a challenge to keep them all moving along and not leaving any behind when they saw a window of shiny jewelry or a small bird in the middle of the road (no joke – had to tell her to stay on the sidewalk).

We did dinner at Chipotle where I ordered a cheese quasadilla and bowl with rice, chicken, cheese, beans, etc.  The funny thing is – the employees probably though the qausadilla was for Stormy and the adult sized bowl was for me…not so.  Stormy ate most of it, he really seemed to enjoy the mixture of the food.  I’m so glad he eats more adult like than I do.

read that closely…

Then we made our way to the Temple for our scheduled tour.  We just barely made it in time to sit down and wait…I guess the group waiting was too big so they split us.  It was nice to be sitting in a comfy seat with AC, however Stormy was tired, it was his bedtime and he didn’t want to sit still.  The open house was pretty awesome.  I’ve been to one before in Utah (because they have a new temple about every six months – sarcasm…but I’m sure it’s close to that), but the young women hadn’t been to one before and the chances of being able to go to another on the east coast are pretty slim.  That’s why we decided to do this, that and we had a place for all the girls to spend the night for free (see above – YW and her family moved recently).  We first were taken to a room and shown a video which explains what happens in a temple, the different things done there such as baptisms, marriages, etc.  One thing I thought interesting was the emphasis on the marriages being between a man and a woman – which makes sense since the civil definition of marriage has been expanded.  It also stood out because there was totally a gay couple going through the tour with us – I get self conscious about that stuff because I don’t want to offend, but at the same time, it doesn’t change God’s law.  I think I may have written before (or it’s in a draft somewhere) about how hard it can be to stand up for what I know is true when it’s telling someone they shouldn’t be with the person they love.  But I know God’s stand on it and must defend it.  Neither here nor there, just saying it stood out to me because of them.  One of the men had really good questions (about temples in general) and I was curious to hear what he would ask next.  He wasn’t confrontational or anything, and I really liked that about him because it was obvious he didn’t agree with some of the things said, but he didn’t bring those things up, like he understood there wasn’t a point in debating those things.

He was totally tired – and maybe a little stuffy

I’m digressing.  The temple was beautiful…it had a LOT of stairs though, my legs were burning by the end (didn’t help that I was still carrying a backpack and baby).  By the end though I had to get going, Stormy was fading.  I had booked a hotel room for the two of us since I figured a house full of teenage girls wouldn’t offer much chance to sleep.  So we took some pics and headed our own way.

When we got to the hotel there was a woman in front of us checking in.  I had Stormy and he had his teddy bear and we were waiting to be assisted.  The woman turned and stared at us…like the kind of stare where you refuse to make eye contact but you can feel it and kind of see it our the corner of your eye and it’s almost as though she wanted to say something.  You know that kind of stare?  I hate those kind of stares.  Another employee came to the counter to help me check in.  The woman was staring again.  At one point she mentioned she had a cat with her – so she shall now be referred to as the creepy cat lady.

We got our room key and I went out to the car to grab our stuff, leaving creepy cat lady at the desk.  I walked past her and her traveling companion in the parking lot on the way back.  The hallway and elevator were not air conditioned – in case you were wondering.  So I was back to dripping with sweat.  We got into our room and I had brought a pack ‘n’ play but was considering leaving it in the car as we had a king sized bed.  Certainly you can share a bed that size with a toddler.  I put Stormy on the bed, got him in his pjs and had him ready for bed but he just whimpered on the bed, unsure what to do.  So I grabbed him and headed back down to the car to get the pack ‘n’ play.  When we got back to our room I saw Creepy Cat Lady a few doors down, going in to her room.  I smiled and then turned my attention to everything else in the hallway.  I saw her out the corner of my eye…staring…I got us in our room and deadbolted the door.  I locked every feasible lock there was.  Add to my list of fears – people who stare.

While I was struggling with the pack ‘n’ play someone tried to open our door!  My thought of course, was the Creepy Cat Lady.  Needless to say it took me a while to calm down.  I mean, my child is adorable, you know this.  As Chewy puts it, he’s a buttery concoction, so we have to be careful no one steals him.  I wouldn’t put it past the cat lady to try and take him to feed her cat.

I finally got his bed set up, but it was totally uncomfortable, so I put a spare blanket down..then I put to pillows underneath.  He lay down and drifted off.  I went to take a shower and then I heard him crying.  I ran into the room and found that the pillows didn’t cover the whole pack ‘n’ play and he had rolled into the gap they left.  So I grabbed two rolled up towels from the bathroom and put those in the gap.  He finally fell asleep – I finally got a shower.

The bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever laid down in…but I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  Stormy kept waking up in the night, probably terrified that teh Creepy Cat Lady had entered the room.  He finally fell asleep in the bed with me (meaning I didn’t sleep well because it turns out you can’t share any sized bed with a toddler).  I woke up early and sat in the bathroom watching Netflix on my phone until it was time to wake up.

We ate breakfast at the hotel (which is never as good as you hope it will be) and he got lots of strangers talking to him.  Then we rushed off to meet up with the girls and head home.  I had a different girl ride back with me.  The drive back was miserable, I won’t even regale you with the stories, needless to say, what should have been 4-5 hours turned into 9.  His dancing was the only gem of the day.

 

Our car selfie – the phone is for GPS


Other than that – Stormy was miserable and as soon as we dropped our girl off at her house, he threw up.  I worried it was heat stroke but then he was all snotty the next day, and the next, and then I had a sore throat and my other symptoms followed.  So the past week Stormy and I have been quarantined at home.

 

Be positive

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, not always novels – I started with short stories when I was a still in elementary school which morphed into poetry in middle and high school (and a little in college). It’s was terrible, I’m a terrible poet and yet I still have a binder with all of it in there because I guess subconsciously I can’t bear to destroy the evidence of how far I’ve come. 

I stopped writing for a while in college because of something someone said to me in a creative writing class. I don’t curse and so I don’t really see the need in my writing. This guy in my group said my fight was unrealistic because my married couple weren’t swearing at each other (he informed me that he and his wife did when they fought).  He then said that if I wasn’t willing to write honestly in that way then maybe I shouldn’t be writing. 

I was young and actually believed this guy. So I gave it up.  I thought about (and still think about) that often, was he right? Of course the answer is NO. Yes, my writing was young, because I was young. I hadn’t had much experience in life, I hadn’t kissed anyone or slapped someone who deserved it or made a man cry (check, check, check several times now). But I’ve now been in fights and I didn’t swear. Said things I regret, yes, but I never felt I had to swear to get my point across. That’s honesty. 

My point is, never tell someone they shouldn’t be doing something because they don’t do it like you.  

I went to the James River Writers Conference last year and one of the speakers (I believe it was Hugh Howey) said that as writers we are not in competition with each other. Our goal is  to write something people want to read and that doesn’t mean we have to beat out someone else to do it. In fact, each success means that people will want to read more, not less. Something I’ve realized about the writing community at large (or at least in RVA) is that they are so supportive of each other, they know rejection and they know perseverance and they see each other as equals on a long and difficult journey.  When I share with my writing group they don’t tell me I don’t have what it takes because I don’t write the way they do, we appreciate each other’s style and voice and we help lift each other up, we help make each other better. Because we don’t write for the profession, the fame, the money (anyone who writes is laughing at that) we write for the love of writing and when you meet others who love the same thing as you, why wouldn’t you encourage them?

It’s The Most Wonderful Time

I had my very first visit to Bass Pro Shop yesterday. As I don’t hunt, fish, shoot, or any other outdoor recreation the reason for my visit was purely motivated by the idea that I should attempt to have my child’s picture taken with Santa. My sister informed me about Santa at Bass Pro Shop because when family asked me if I was getting baby’s picture with Santa I said “no” and my mom responded that it wasn’t too late.  Being the impatient introvert I am I told her that it was too late. I had no intention of waiting hours in a line at a stinky mall to be overcharged for photos with a dude in a rental costume and an obviously fake beard. 

So my sister piped up with this Santa and told me the lines shouldn’t be too bad there and they give you a free print. So yesterday the hubs and I decided to check it out. We went as soon as our spawn woke up from his nap, which was only an hour after Santa would arrive at the store. 

It was packed. Hoards of children migrated from the parking lot to the store. Children and baby strollers darted in and out of aisles of fishing poles and toy crossbows. We found Santa’s Wonderland and the line and a booth, manned by an unenthusiastic employee. I don’t know why, but I approached and asked if that was the line (it was a here’s your sign moment) the woman said “yes” but I needed a Bass Pass to get in said line.  So I said I would take one and then she informed me that the next available pass was for 3…it was currently 11. Since life with the spawn is unpredictable I couldn’t say what we would be doing by 3, but mostly I couldn’t fathom mustering the energy to come back to the store four hours later. I had talked myself into going in the first place by the thought that one day, the spawn would be sad if we didn’t have a picture of him with Santa for his first Christmas. As I stood there contemplating coming back into the madness that is anywhere with a cash register the week of Christmas, I realized I don’t even remember if I have a picture with Santa from my own childhood and I think I turned out okay. There will be plenty of other failures on my part to lessen the blow of discovering there isn’t a picture of him with Santa.  So when Chewy looked at me for the final decision I shook my head. Baby don’t care and it’s not worth it. 

We did, however, take him to the in store aquarium where he watched fish for the first time in his life. He really seemed to enjoy it, probably more than he would have sitting in some old man’s lap for a picture. 

When we were walking up to the aquarium though some woman walked up to me, handed me a piece of paper saying, “this is for you, let’s get you signed up for our drawing.” She then tried to steer me away from my husband and baby to signup for something without telling me what that something was. My stranger danger instincts kicked in and I didn’t move at all. With my feet planted I read the paper. A cruise. I have never had a desire to go on a cruise (unless it’s in Alaska). I told her we don’t like cruises, which is true, Chewy hates cruises and I hate large bodies of water, sharks, whales, and pushy people who try to get me to sign up for free stuff because honestly I think I’m not a fan of free stuff either (at all costs I avoid the people giving samples at stores).  Once I’d rejected her, I rejoined Chewy, slightly annoyed that I was the one singled out and more annoyed at their tactics. 

It actually stayed on my mind for a while. I thought about how I don’t like being told what to do in any form and that includes waiting in line to see an old man claiming to be Santa because everyone else does it and our kids will get to the point where they want to do this. Then when they’ve told Santa what they want (because a letter doesn’t do it apparently) their picture is taken and someone tries to sell me a pricey package for keepsakes and grandparents. 

Anyway, I digress. We went to look at guns for Chewy and I found a warthog eating a Moon Pie. 

 
So I think I’d actually like BPS any other time of the year, but it, like every other store, is tainted by the holiday stress that detracts from what I love most about Christmas. 

From there we went to Home Depot to pick up a few things and there I saw Santa (real beard) wearing an orange Home Depot apron walking around. I have to admit, even after my bad experience and my cynical take on getting your kid’s picture taken with Santa, I got a little excited seeing him. So much So that when I whispered, “Santa!” to no one in particular I got embarrassed and looked away. Really  I should have grabbed my spawn and asked if Santa, the Home Depot employee, would take a picture with him because the sight of him filled me with more Christmas magic than the BPS Wonderland. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Here’s a quick and incomplete list of things I am grateful for. 

  • My husband who is also my best friend 
  • My sweet little baby boy, may I have 30 just like him. 
  • My siblings – my closest friends and my greatest foes…just kidding. But they sure do know how to grate my nerves at times. 
  • Visits from my best friend 
  • Tender mercies – those little things you get right when you need them. 
  • My parents – they believe I could conquer the world if I wanted to (maybe next year)
  • My young women – I was terrified at first but now I love serving those girls and am grateful for my calling. 
  • Sleep. I take what I can get right now but one day I’ll get a full night again. 
  • Baking and people who will eat what I bake, thus enabling me…thanks for taking one for the team. 
  • My brother-in-law who doesn’t have kids but will yell at everyone else’s to keep quiet because my baby is sleeping. 
  • The Internet – because being a mom would be so much harder without Google and Pinterest. 

I hope everyone has a great day. What are some things you’re thankful for?

Also – Referring back to baking – here’s my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner this year…

   I almost wish I ate chocolate…but I figured out there are over 500 calories in a slice so I’m ok feeding it to others.