Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sleepy Day

The sun decided not to get up this morning. Which meant, of course, that I didn't truly didn't get up either.  I might be walking round, tackling the projects of the day--laundry, groceries and popping dinner in the crock pot--but I still feel like I have yet to wake up.

Even Lydia, with her limited knowledge of meteorology and seasons, commented as we left the grocery store that it was already nighttime. "No Sweetie, it's morning, but the dark clouds make it seem later than it is." Or, like the day just never really started.

Sunday afternoon the sun glinted off the golden leaves as they danced in the breeze. The shade was a bit chilly, but sitting in the sun was toasty; I was almost tempted to cast off my sweater. Norah even rode her scooter to school and back wearing shorts and a t-shirt, shaking off my suggestion to grab a wrap. The last vestiges of summer were enough to keep us warm.

But not today. Today I sit wrapped in a scarf and I'm waiting for the kettle to whistle, needing a warm mug to thaw out my fingers. If my to-do list was done, I'd snuggle on the couch under my down blanket and read a bit, my feet buried in slippers.  Maybe even doze off.  It's that kind of day. The kind where the only glow comes from the lamp in the living room, turned on at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and doing its best to cast off the gloom of a pending winter.

Fall is giving up and snow is predicted for Wednesday.


That's right, Winter, I boo you.  I'm not ready for bundling and layering, for boots and scarves and hats, for scraping windshields and shoveling sidewalks.  I'm not ready to plow through snow on our way to school or feel the biting cold on my nose and cheeks.

Boo to you, Winter.  At least give us some sunshine.  yawn...


Maybe I was a little hard on Winter.  In fact, my husband would gently remind me that I booed Summer just a few months ago. "I can't handle this heat. I don't want anyone to touch me; we just stick together, such sweaty kids. I can't wait to wear clothes again."  It would appear that I have an issue with contentment.  So, boo to that, too! 

333 words inspired by the word boo:  (verb) to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “Boo” slowly

Monday, October 28, 2013


"Do you know what's in there?"

"No. It gives me the heeby jeebies."

"It can't be that bad."

"Well then, you open it."

"No. I mean, you know, that there's nothing to be afraid of."

"Right. I'm not afraid. It just creeps me out."

"Maybe if we open it just a crack..."

"After you, my friend."

"Uh, rock, paper scissors?"

"Fine. One, two three, go."

"Drat.  Best of three?"

"Nope. You're it."

"Okay. Get behind me, but be ready to run. I'm not sticking around if it's bad."

"Ugh. What's that horrible smell?"

"Something is rotting. I'm going to gag."

"What is it, can you tell?"

"I think it's that sausage soup from two weeks ago. I thought you threw it out."

"Gross. Slide the trash can over here. I'm pitching the Tupperware, too."

"Agreed. Now...what's in that container behind the milk? Is that lo mein? Ack! What a nightmare!"


151 words about a little something creepy. It may not be a dismembered hand, but it still makes me shudder.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Gathering Place

The warm autumn sun casts my shadow over the kitchen table strewn with my notebook and papers.  Across the room, Lydia snuggles on the couch under a blanket, repeating after Diego in her bold voice, "¡Al rescate!"  With my littlest engaged in a mission to rescue Willie the whistling prairie dog, I am free to soak up the sun and a few moments to write, read and renew my spirit.  This is my cat-hour.

My notebook paper is blindingly white against the golden glow of the pine table, the same table from my childhood.  I can remember vividly the afternoon my mom and dad lugged it through the front door and into the kitchen.

"It's already dented."

"It's called distressed.  They put those marks there on purpose to make it appear older, more antique-like."

"So it's already wrecked?"

Now, twenty years later, we've distressed the table even more:
black smudges from a centerpiece that got wet and left paint bleeding into the wood;
green streaks from so-called "washable" markers gone wild;
tan gouges from a little person caught testing out her butter-knife cutting skills on the surface;
and even a few pale scratches from a youngster who had gnawed on a corner during a painful season of teething.

Each time I wipe up sticky syrup spots and scrape off glitter-glue glumps, I discover a new stain or scratch.

"Someday, when the kids are grown, we'll sand the whole thing down and refinish it.  We'll have a brand new table."

Or maybe not.

This mommy-heart might resist removing all evidence of my kids, heads bent over birthday cards covered with stickers and math homework with pesky numbers that won't add up.  I may feel differently a few years from now and choose to keep the memories of hodge-podge craftiness and overly-generous watercoloring.

Perhaps twenty years from now, I'll be sitting at this same excessively distressed pine table with another generation of crafty kids.  Another bunch of kids with tongues poking out of the corners of their mouths while they labor over Thanksgiving turkeys covered in glitter glue and another mess of markers smeared across the pine surface.

"Sorry, Nana.  I made an oopsie."

"Don't worry, Sweetie.  See this big black mark?  Your mommy made that oopsie years ago."


A memoir of 385 words inspired by the word pine and by our kitchen table, our gathering place.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

99 Words

"Mom!  I don't have anything to wear!"

"I did laundry yesterday; look in your dresser.  And please don't yell."

"I can't go out of the house in any of this!  What brand is this?  Circo?"

"It's from Target and it looks nice on you.  That color brings out the blue in your eyes."

"Ugh.  Why is it so stretchy?  It's at least two sizes too big."

"It's supposed to be loose for comfort.  There's nothing worse than clothing that squeezes you."

"It's like a muumuu bred with a pair of footy-pajamas."

"They call it a Babygro.  It's cute."


A 99 Word-Story inspired by a single word from the 99th page of the Oxford English Dictionary:  Babygro -- a kind of all-in-one stretch garment for babies.

I figured this could go a couple of different ways.  Either this is a conversation that my infant daughter would have had with me almost ten years ago if she could have protested how I dressed her.  Or it's a conversation we'll have in about five years when she decides to experiment with her wardrobe and I freak out about how much she doesn't look like a little girl anymore.

Monday, October 14, 2013

With Astonishing Poise

The waiting is almost over.

For months we've sat with our hands clenched in our laps, holding our collective breath.  Way back in May, this day seemed ages away...and that was a good thing.  The challenges seemed overwhelming and the barriers unsurmountable.  There were hot, stinging tears and not a few moments of desperation.  (For both Norah and me.)

The desire and dedication were clearly present, but there is no way to simply determine your way through to conquering a new skill, especially that pesky kip.  Fighting gravity and your physical limits is a nefarious combination that can threaten to bring you to your knees, waving a white flag.

"I can't do it."  Resignation threatens with a groan.  "I quit."

But she hasn't quit.  Day after day, she stares at that chalk-covered bar and faces her foe.  Up on the bleachers I sit, helplessly willing her with every ounce of my own body to get it this time.  Sometimes she is still left dangling under the bar, pointed toes brushing the mat.  But more and more often, she finds herself up and over the bar, an infectious smile on her face and a growing confidence.  (I confess to having uncharacteristically whooped a few times, much to her embarrassment and delight.)

This weekend she has her first meet and the anticipation hangs heavy in our house, a painful mixture of hope and release.  She will still be my favorite gymnast whether she makes it through her routine or not,  but my stomach knots with anxiety, preparing myself for a potentially disappointed little girl who misses her own mark.

Knowing my Norah, she will walk out to the bars on Sunday, back straight and head held high with confidence.  She will salute the judges and leap from the springboard to the bar and defy her doubts, maybe making it through the flips and maybe not.  Regardless of the outcome, I am excited to see my girl finish just as she typically does, with astonishing poise.

And I'll learn a life lesson from one of my kids.  Again.

That's my girl on the middle beam, arms spread wide.


Inspired by the words "anticipation" and "leap".  And the sweet girl in the picture above.