Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Mind of her Own

My littlest one has had a mind of her own from the very beginning.  My sister and I would laugh because we always said that she reminded us of our grandmother.  One of the things my grandma always did when she didn't agree with you but she didn't want to say anything (which was rare), was to give a loud "Huh".  You knew when you heard that, that she didn't really like what she was hearing.  
I think A was about one the first time I heard the "Huh".  She was climbing on something, as usual, and I told her that she wasn't really very safe and that she needed to get down when I heard it.  Her little tiny fists went on her little tiny hips and she said it...  "Huh".  
I didn't think I heard her right at first.  In fact, I was sure I had imagined it.  But then it happened again, time after time until I was absolutely sure that even though she had only seen my grandma once in her life when she was only days old, she was going to be just like her.  :)  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The College Green

Walking across the college green is magical
as things happen all around.
If you walk with your head down 
you can hear
talking and laughing
dogs barking
the soap box preacher
hell fire 
If you look up
you can see kids playing
with an old hacky sack
jumping and
Cute boys (and even some not so cute)
walking with puppies
to catch the eye
of a pretty girl.  
People sitting
on the statues
listening to music
as if 
no one else
is around.  
The college green 
is a living space
full of activity 
and possibilities.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

My Little Exhibitionist

Every summer, my kids and I drive to Texas to visit my aunt.  She lives alone there, with no family close by since my grandparents passed away and we just love to be with her.  We don't do anything fancy.  She has a pool in her backyard.  We hang out at the house, cookout and swim.  My kids all learned how to swim in that pool...  and how to skinny dip.  :)  
We usually like to drive in two days.  One summer, my husband was out of work and we didn't want to spend the money on a hotel so we decided we could make the 18 hour drive without stopping for the night.  It. Was. Awful. 
Things were going pretty well all the way to Arkansas.  Then it started to get dark.  Driving in the dark in Texas is not fun.  Armadillos run across the road, snakes can be seen in the headlights and there are no street lights most of the way making it pitch black.  Then my mom says she has a shortcut.  
The last shortcut we took with my mom added 8 hours to our trip by taking us to Louisiana on our way home from Texas and then we went up the Natchez Trace which was beautiful, but had a speed limit of 45 to 55 mph instead of the 70 on the main road.  
I was unsure of this shortcut but I was willing to try it since I was getting tired.  Shortly after heading on this alternate route, a car on the side of the road started driving really fast to get on the freeway, throwing a rock in the middle of my windshield, making a very large mark.  About an hour later my a/c went out.  We are talking Texas in July people...  It was so hot I wanted to stick my head out of the car like a dog.  
The kids seemed ok, other than poor A who was in the way back who said that she was very hot.  At one point, I looked in the rear view mirror and my jaw dropped.  My littlest one, about 6 or 7 at the time, was in her  car seat, reading a book, naked as a jay bird.  She didn't wait for anyone to tell her how to cool off.  She took care of it herself.  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Let's Talk Handicap Bathrooms

This may seem like a strange post, but for the last month I have been using a scooter and let me tell you...  There are some bathroom issues I will never forget.  Don't be alarmed.  I am NOT going to go into anything too personal.  :)  
So...  the very first thing I want everyone to know is that there is usually only 1 handicap bathroom to the regular 4 or 5.  This means that when you (not you literally of course) use that one, we have to wait until you are done, even if all the other bathrooms are empty.  
Think about that now...  Did you really have to go that badly that you have to make me wait on you?  Hmmmm...  I know I will never use a handicap bathroom again.  
The next thing I want to mention is that the handles in the handicap bathroom are not always in the right place.  When you need a handle close to the toilet and it is all the way across the giant stall... well... you probably know what I am thinking.  
There is no hovering over a public restroom when you are impaired.  You have to sit down.  There is no choice.  So...  if you sprinkle when you tinkle...  be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.  And then grab a clorox wipe and clean it thoroughly.  Oh a girl can dream...  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bringing Home Baby

Emma Marie was born in July of 1995.  I had just finished my first year of teaching.  I had been so excited to meet her that I just could barely stand it.  I didn't know if she was a boy or a girl, so I wrote letters to "the baby".  
After I had Emma, I remember being very careful with her.  I looked at her in awe, not quite believing that she was mine.  I had been waiting for this moment since I was five and declared to my mother that when I grew up, I was going to be a mommy.  :)  
The morning that we were to go home I felt great.  I was young and in great shape, so I was already beginning to recover from the birth. We had the car seat and everything we would need for the ride home.  We lived two hours away, so I was a little nervous, but I knew we would be ok.  
When my husband drove up to pick us up, I insisted that I would sit in the back seat with her.  I needed to see her the whole way.  We talked and chatted for awhile, catching up since I had been closer to the hospital, staying with my mom for five long weeks before Emma's birthday.  
Suddenly, it all hit me at once.  I began to cry.  When my husband looked in the rear view mirror, I started sobbing.  He asked me what was wrong, genuine concern on his face and I said, "I just can't believe that they let us put this sweet girl in our car and take her two hours away!"  
My husband and I still chuckle over that today.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lies, all lies

My mom tells lies. 
She tells lots of lies.  
"Eat your (mushy, canned)peas.
They're good for you."
"If you eat all your dinner
you'll be in the clean plate club."
Oh I'm in the clean plate club...
I think I might be president.  
"If you make faces at your momma, 
it might get stuck like that."  

My mom tells lies.  
She tells lots of lies.  
"You go to sleep now.
If you don't, the Sandman might come up
and getchya."
I lay there...
eyes tight...
listening to my own heartbeat 
on the pillow
that it's the...  

My mom tells lies.  
She tells lots of lies.  
"If you see a man in his underwear, 
you'll get a nasty sty."  
She wasn't countin on me
accidentally seeing my friend's dad
in his underwear
when he opened the door
to get the paper.   
She got lucky though.
The next morning
my eye was swollen shut.

My mom tells lies.
She tells lots of lies.  
Some are to get me to 
stay out of trouble
and be safe.
Now I'm a momma 
and oh by, do I lie.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Dare

I met Sarah because our mothers were best friends.  Well, Caroline was actually her step mother, so my mom and her step mom were best friends.  Sarah was adopted by her dad and her mom.  She and all three of her siblings were adopted together.  I'm not sure what happened to make a mom lose all four of her children, but they were all blessed to have Caroline and Chuck.  They were very good people.  
We spent every sing Christmas Eve with them.  It was so much fun.  We would rotate who would host between three families, but so many more families were invited.  I still miss that about Christmas Eve now that we are all grown and gone.  
Our families were very close.  We saw them all the time and we got into some shenanigans when we were together.  I remember one time when Sarah and I were sitting in the way back (nope, not safe) of my mom's datson station wagon.  Air Supply was on the 8 track and Sarah and I sang our little hearts out, dreaming of who would sweep us off of our feet.  
I knew Sarah and her family so well that we knew each other's out of town grandparents.  We were close.  I loved her grandparents and she loved mine.  
When her grandfather died, I cried and cried.  I had never lost anyone before.  I was worried about Sarah and how she was feeling.  The strange thing to me about funerals when I was young was that people were usually not crying anymore at the viewing.  They welcomed people from all over and said nice things about the person, but they weren't crying.  I had always imagined that they would be beside themselves with grief.  They may have been, but the crying had been done and I didn't know.  
Sara greeted me at the door.  
"I'm so glad you are here!  I am so bored!"  
"I am sorry about your grandpa."  
"Thank you," Sarah answered with a hug.  "Do you want to touch him?"  
"Ummmmm...  I don't think so," I told her with fear in my heart.  
"Come one.  You loved him too and my mom kissed him," Sarah informed me.  She followed up with, "I dare you."
"Ok,  I will, but I am not kissing him," I answered, unsure of what I had just agreed to.   
"Come on.  I'll take you up and then you can touch him."  
Sarah and I walked up to the open casket slowly.  I felt an overwhelming sadness when I saw him there and suddenly I wanted to reach out and touch his hand, the hand I had held on so many occasions.  
I said a prayer for him.  Feeling very somber (and a little scared), I reached for his hand.  Just when I was about to touch him, the medal around his necked moved!  I stifled a scream and ran from the room.  
Sarah followed me with tears running down her cheeks.  She was NOT sad.  She was laughing.  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Old Wooden Sled and a Little Girl

People usually describe me as outgoing, but I remember many times when I craved and enjoyed the quiet of time alone.  When I was little, my mom would let me go sledding any time I wanted to, whether it was dark or not.  She knew I loved it so much and times were different then...  

I could hear the sound
of the old wooden sled
as it slid over the cold, cold snow.

The sky was dark 
and full of stars 
and the biggest moon
you've ever seen.

I stopped
at the top of the hill
and stood silently
listening and looking
at the falling snow.

When it was that quiet
you could hear the snow
hit the ground. 

The sled creaked
under my weight
as my feet settled in
ready for the ride
down the hill.

it cut through the snow
it steered around the corner
bumpity bumpity bumpity bump
it flew over the uneven ground
the old wooden sled.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wow...Just wow...

A year ago I was working very hard to convince my youngest that she could get out of her bed, put her clothes on, brush her teeth and hair and go to school.  She has struggled with anxiety for most of her life, but it was bad.  It would start the night before and then it would rear its ugly head as soon as she woke up.  
The belly aches and the worrying about throwing up...  The "I can't do it" to the "Please don't put me through this again mom".  She would beg me to help her, to make her... "normal".  
I didn't hesitate to seek medical help for her.  I called the doctor and told him that she needed anti anxiety meds stat.  He has known me for a long time, so he always takes what I say with a grain of salt.  After examining her and listening to her fears, he did give us a referral.  She started treatment right away.   She still does, but I've noticed a change other than what the therapy has done for her.  
She is finding herself.  She is able to get her head above water just long enough to breathe and to look around.  She loves to sing so she sings.  She loves to act so she acts.  
Tonight though...  Tonight was something every parent with a child with anxiety should get to experience.  Tonight she left me in awe.  My baby girl was JoJo in Seussical the Musical and up there on that stage, she belted out her songs with confidence and she shined.  Oh how she shined.  
She overcame a big hurtle to do what she loves.  I am so very proud of her.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Our Very Own Terabithia

Coming out of my stupor from the beauty before me, I just knew I had to get to the mystical land below.  There was only one problem.  The drop from the mouth of the tunnel was long and jagged.  Years of debris had become snarled in the chicken wire that had once hung over the mouth of the tunnel to keep people out of this place.  Moss had grown on the edge, making it slippery.  
"We can't go down there," Tracy warned, sure that we would fall to our deaths.  
We were all a little afraid that our parent's warnings, although dramatic, could come true.  
"I don't know about you two, but I am going to go down there!" I announced, as if my life depended on it.  
We eased our way over to the corner of the tunnel, hoping to reach our now soaked feet over to the edge of the hill, grabbing earth with our toes and flinging ourselves onto land.  Amy held onto Tracy and Tracy held onto me.  The stakes were high but the excitement... higher.  
"I'm almost there..." I strained to say through my teeth as my foot cramped in pain.  "I think if you can just stretch a lit-"
"Oh my gosh, I'm slipping!!!!" Amy yelled, echoing through the tunnel.  
We tumbled down the iron and steel jungle, landing in the water at the bottom.  We all took a minute to see if anyone was seriously injured, feeling our arms, legs and heads.  Luckily we were only scratched up.  We may have had tetinus shots in our futures but we didn't care.  We were in a real live Terabithia!  
Tired and banged up, we dragged ourselves out of the water, laying on the bank for a minute to catch our breath.  I was the first to notice the trees with the low hanging branches on the edge of a beautiful meadow.  
"Let's climb the trees!  I wonder if they have fruit!  We can make a tree house!"  Words tumbled out of me as if they couldn't wait their turn.  I ran, grabbing a branch and swinging my already torn up legs over the branch.  Amy and Tracy followed and the three of us hooted and hollered, stepping from branch to branch.  We were monkeys.  We were spies, looking down on unsuspecting people we imagined down below.  We were Tarzan and Jane.  We were snakes, laying on the branches, waiting for a large animal to amble by.  
When we got tired of the tree, we followed the creek a little while until we came to a bridge.  It wasn't a large bridge like the one we played under by the pool.  This one looked like someone made it from scrap lumber.  There was a picnic table in the clearing.  It looked like the trees parted just enough for light to filter through to that table.  The girls and I were starting to get hungry and the sight of that table just made our bellies growl.  
We decided to eat a fake meal with our favorite British accents (like we did at home when we had tea parties).  I was serving Amy and Tracy when we heard a voice.  
"You thought you seen em come through here?" a deep, husky voice was asking.  
Amy, Tracy and I froze only for a minute until we dove under the table.  We heard the footsteps getting closer when... "Probably just more teenagers getting into some shenanigans over here where no one can see them."  
I could hardly breathe, I was so afraid of getting caught.  I motioned to the girls that we needed to get out of there and dove toward the creek.  I laid down in the water and my friends did too. We were so still in the water that you couldn't hear us at all.  When the men got too close, we slowly went under the water and waited until we couldn't see their swirly forms just over the bank.  
As soon as the coast was clear, we ran back along the bank, climbed the hill and threw ourselves back into the tunnel.  Our cautious entry into the tunnel forgotten, we ran as fast as we could...  along the fence, into the entrance and under the water.  
We all came up at the same time, laughed and exchanged a knowing smile.  We had just had another amazing adventure and we couldn't wait to go back.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Other Side

Tracy, Amy and I were skipping down the hill that led us away from our neighborhood, over the creek and to the community pool. We loved spending our days at the pool and never got tired of it.  I started my day at the pool with swim team practice from 7 to 9.   Then I'd head home for some food and then back to the pool with my friends.  
We always laid our towels out in the same place, by the deep end.  We always played blind tag in the corner or shark across the deep end.  We didn't really ever have to discuss what we were doing and we were never bored.  Time really seemed to move quickly when we were hanging out at the pool.  
Most of the time, during rest period, we would snack on things we brought from home or just lay on our towels and talk.  One day though...  I'm not sure what got into us, but we decided that we were going through the infamous tunnel to see what was on the other side...
"Come on Tracy," I said temptingly,"I know you want to find out what is over there.  I do too.  I would pay to find out what is over there."  
"My mom will kill me if she knows I went through that tunnel, let alone over to the other side," Amy said, unsure.  
"Our moms never need to know," I coaxed.  
We walked out of the safety of the fence surrounding the pool toward the tunnel.  The grass was tall so it grabbed at our legs, as if slowing us down enough to make us change our minds.  I just jumped through to the edge of the creek.  
With a no looking back attitude, I ran into the tunnel, all the way until the concrete met the water.  I looked on the walls and saw the dark thoughts of the local teenagers, along with warnings to go no further.  
I hesitated only for a second.  I didn't want to chicken out as I had many times before.  Slowly, I put my foot down in the water, hearing my mother's warnings in my mind.  Nope...  no hole...  I went on.  I could hear Amy and Tracy breathing behind me.  We didn't say a word, so that our echos were silent, not giving us away. 
When we were almost to the other side, I could see the light filtering into the tunnel.  It was very green out there.  I could see little flowers growing on everything, along with the brightest moss I had ever seen.  All I could think of was...fairies. It was like when Dorothy walks out of her black and white world into the world of Oz.  
Amy, Tracy and I stood there, side by side, looking out at this unexplored world before us.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Tunnel

Every day in the summer was another opportunity for adventure.  My mom and dad worked, leaving my brother, sister and I to fend for ourselves.  We didn't mind though.  My oldest sister was "watching us", so technically we weren't alone.  Lucky for me, my sister loved to read and did a lot of it all summer long.  
I was not a reader.  I was a do-er.  I loved the outdoors no matter what the weather.  I would get up in the morning, throw some water on my unruly hair (sometimes), grab a poptart and run out the door.  I imagine myself kicking my heels together and yelling "yeeeeehaw!"
I loved to play in the creek not too far from our house.  I could spend hours down there and to this day, I have the layout of the entire area burned into my brain.  If you told me to name the best place on the earth quickly without thinking, I would definitely say the creek!  At the end of the creek, there was a tunnel.  I didn't know where the tunnel went, but I was very curious about it.  I could see the beginnings of words I was never allowed to say spray painted on the walls.  I could see the slick, moss covered bottom as it led to the unknown.  My mom, knowing I was afraid of very little but well aware of my Catholic, fear of the devil upbringing, told me that there were holes in the tunnel and that if I fell into a hole, I could drop all the way to hell and then there was no way out.  I thought about that...  a lot.  
I am going to try to write a narrative story with dialogue about the day that I went into the tunnel.  

"Sandie!!!" I yelled, "I am going outside!"
I was always very vague when I told people where I was going, not to be vague, but because I never knew where I would end up.  Today I knew where I was headed.  The. Tunnel.  I had been warned about the tunnel...  never to go in there so I didn't end up someplace where I didn't want to be. My mom even tried to scare me about the tunnel.  It worked for a while, but not today!
I ran out of the house, slamming the door in my wake.  I jumped off the porch and onto my bike, hesitating only a minute remembering when the neighbor rode it without clothes.  EW.
I loved to pedal as fast as I could and then, really close to the curb, slamming on my brakes so that I would skid to the side in the gravel.  I did that over and over again all the way to my friend Jen's house.  She lived in the south end of my neighborhood.  We had met on the school bus and had become fast friends.
Jen was more daring than I was.  I loved adventure, but there was always my mom's voice in the back of my head, with a doom and gloom story to warn me off of what I was about to do.  Jen didn't seem to have that voice in her head, and she made mine quieter.
We had decided to go into the tunnel after weeks and weeks of standing on the edge, looking in at all the graffiti and wondering what the teenagers always did in there.  Well, today was the day!
"I think we should hold hands," Jen said as she gazed into the dark abyss that was the tunnel.
"I think that's a great idea!  Then if one of us falls in, the other one can pull them out," I said.
Jen looked at me quizzically, but I didn't want to explain what my mother had said so I quickly followed up with, "in a puddle".  She smiled and nodded.
Jen stepped in, walking the narrow concrete balance beam that ran down the middle most of the way. We could hear the water dripping through the tiny cracks in the tunnel.  One dropped down the back of my shirt and right away I thought it was the lifeless claws of someone from the underworld.  I stepped a little closer to Jen.
As the concrete narrowed and disappeared, we found ourselves in the middle of the tunnel.  It was cold and dark and I could hear our breathing.
"What's on the other side?" I wondered.
"I think it's a land of fairies," Jen answered.  She started to move forward into the water when I grabbed her arm.
"Are you sure we should go into the water?  My mom..." I started.
"Why are you worrying about your mom?" Jen demanded, "She is at work!"
I tried to explain to Jen that my mom had warned me about the portals to hell under the puddles in the tunnel but she stopped me, telling me that I was crazy.
Still, she paused and flipped her long bangs.
"I don't believe your mom, but still...  let's just go back for today,"  Jen said a little breathlessly.
She turned around and headed out of the tunnel.
I followed feeling... relieved.
We would save the tunnel for another day.