Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate on Saturdays | Sit...

I sit here now in a quiet house, taking a break from a handful of projects at varying points of completion.  Next to me is the fifth antique dining room chair that has now been repurposed as a part of our entry hallway vignette...it just needs four felt pads to cushion its place.  I moved it to the carpet because one little guy decided it was the perfect thing to push around, cutting thin shallow paths through the sea of cherry wood.  And then there are the Megablocks scattered like seashells across our eat-in kitchen that connects to the family room where their container is stored beside other toys.  Inevitably as soon as I pick them up, the littler little dumps them back out.  It's this little game we play and right now, I'm choosing to ignore the multicolored mess.   The washing machine is churning; the dryer adds its white noise.  I wonder about making some meals to lighten my after-work load next week, and what should be ironed to make mornings easier.  I consider the stacks of resources in my basement I would like to organize, as well as the binders, papers, and books upstairs.

Then I look outside.  Kids bike past, racing home from the pool down the street.  Pets and their owners stroll by, noticing the intricacies of neighborhood yards.  Leaves dance; I imagine their hushed symphony.  Every once in awhile the sun peeks out, making light earth's handiwork.

And I'm still.

Typically, my weekend looks more like rewarmed weekdays with checklists, timeframes, and calendar reminders.  Today, however, I push them aside and celebrate the time to notice, to name, to truly see.

And the view is nice.

Write on,
b

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Celebration! 7.5.2014

It's Saturday...and while the sun shone, the green grass somehow looked more like an emerald comforter; the blue sky more like an azure ocean; the light breeze more like a refreshing hug.  And, as I followed a little yellow bike with training wheels around our neighborhood, or pushed a red umbrella stroller through a gathering of classic cars, I thought of you.  Because there is so much ground we need to cover.  So many tidbits to tell.

Like this one: I got a new job.  God connected each and every dot to create an amazing opportunity...and I'm over the moon about it.  I will be working as district literacy coach by supporting seven building-based coaches, creating and providing professional development sessions on a variety of reading and writing topics, setting goals with administrators, and encouraging all my colleagues to be passionate risk-takers.    

Or this one: Reid is learning how to swim.  Last week he wouldn't jump into our neighborhood pool without an adult catching him before his toes even hit the water.  This week he met Miss Courtney and over three lessons a world of intriguing possibilities opened to him like an unlocked treasure trove.  He's confident.  He's trying new things.  He's smiling.  And, he's asking to go to the poolallthetime.

Or this one: My boys are playing together.  THIS has been a long time coming.  You see, the elder little is an unflattering shade of green whenever the smaller little is nearby.  It's maddening, these behaviors.  It's maddening, the discipline.  For these stretches of strife, my words and actions aren't flattering either.  Sometimes I feel like I'm running on a treadmill, all day every day, or refereeing a boxing match.  It (seemingly) never gets better and it (seemingly) never ends.  Until, lately, when I'm not looking -- I'll turn to catch a glimpse of two boys playing cars quietly in the family room.  Or, four little feet pattering across the wood floors in an impromptu game of chase.  Sometimes they giggle.  Then, my heart melts, just like it did the other day when I witnessed Reid passing Grant the board book he dropped from his car seat when we were on our way to Target.  Somehow this summer is bringing the brothers closer...

Or this one: Tom and I took a short trip.  Which, incidentally, has also been a long time coming.  For four days, we talked, and breathed, and chewed and tasted our food at restaurants; we stood on dunes overlooking Lake Michigan; we splurged on appetizers and a tennis outfit for me; we rented a court and played -- for the record, I beat myself; we window-shopped in picturesque little towns with historic names.  And it was relaxing.  We smiled at the feeling of limitless time -- until we were on our way home.  Then we sped toward my parents' to scoop up two little guys.

Or this one: Grant is healthy.  If we've hung out electronically over the past 20 months, you know my littler little has had breathing issues since birth which surrounded us with a host of nebulizer meds, more than our fair share of pediatrician appointments, two stays in local children's hospitals, and a satisfied insurance deductible.  April brought pneumonia, four days at Riley, and new inhalers.  It also provided a new day care situation because my lovely friend offered to watch G in her home so he could fully recuperate.  And he has.  He hasn't been sick since.  He's growing.  He's happy.  He's full of energy.  His eyes are bright.  Ours our too.

I'm hoping today also finds you with bright eyes, bluer than normal skies, and close family ties. Celebrate this long weekend! :)

Write on,
b






Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What's in a name? | Tuesday Slice

I'd seen her before. Sometimes with a toe-headed little guy bouncing about. Sometimes by herself gardening. Down the street from our house, in front of one we looked at during our never-ending search nearly two years ago now. It demanded some work and we moved on, serendipitously as I judged from the backhoe cozied up to the curb in front.

Today, she made the most of the afternoon's sunny warmth by schlepping large hardware store paper bags of lawn clippings down their steep driveway for trash pick-up in the morning. I watched her progress as I pushed Grant, tucked neatly into his red umbrella stroller, nearer. After all, we were making the most of the weather too.

"I think a boy from Reid's soccer class lives down the street in the house we looked at earlier...you know, the one with the unfinished basement?" Tom's words from months before echoed in my mind.

I played the 'what if' game while bumping rhythmically over the neighborhood's sidewalk cracks.

What if I stop and introduce myself and she seems indifferent?
BUMP-bum
What if I stop and introduce myself and she wants to be friends?
BUMP-bum
What if I stop and introduce myself and her little boy becomes a friend for Reid?
BUMP-bum

The latter idea won out; I fashioned my opening line.

"Hi. I know this may seem random, but I think you have a son who is about my son's age...four?"

"Yes, we do."

"My husband noticed that he followed your husband back from a soccer class the kids were both in last winter. And I've seen your little guy outside playing."

"Oh, yes. Callum was in soccer. Little Kickers in Carmel, right?"

And we went on to chat about their house, and her remarks about it being "tired." So tired, in fact, that they had to destroy the existing deck because it was close to collapsing...not to mention that it somehow encouraged basement flooding in recent months when all the snow decided to exit stage left. 

Whew -- we dodged a bullet.

"What's your name?"

"It's Jo. Josephine. But Jo is easier. For everyone."

"Josephine is a pretty name. My name is Brenna."

She giggled. GIGGLED.

I'm used to being called just about anything. Breanna. Breena (as per my college graduation). Brenda. Breonna. Branna. But a giggle? On our first meeting? My face must have given away my thoughts...

"That's Celtic," her British accent more pronounced now, "maiden with dark hair."

"That's what I hear -- although my hair color's off with these dirty blonde tresses," I offered as comic relief. "Why do you giggle?" Did I really just say that?

"We call our black Labrador 'Brenna.'"

And now I've heard it all.

I giggled too, the awkward way one might when she doesn't exactly know what to say next...

Home base.

"So, it would be fun for the boys to play together sometime soon. Can we call you?"

Write on,
b

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I sit here... | Tuesday Slice


I sit here
a hen on her nest
incubating ideas
then hatching them
one by one
Sometimes it
takes a while
to see them grow
and sometimes I blink my eyes and they're gone
taking wobbly steps
out into the world
Sometimes they come back
begging for more
I oblige
never one to turn down an opportunity to fluff
and preen
never one to miss the chance to nurse 
just a little bit longer
and hold tight to the potential for what will come
be it lengthy or sparse
verbose or exacting
We work together to figure it out
in this sun-drenched roost
surrounded by antiques
photographs
soothing music
and chai in the perfect polka dot mug
I sit here


Write on,
b

Monday, March 31, 2014

Retrospective | Slice 31:31


Playing in the nursery this morning before nap, 
Grant happily climbed around on the antique rocking chair from my parents. 
I snapped pictures, for fun, but realized they go right along with where we are today.




It started off at the beginning
like a challenge
one we'd have to climb up into
making solid our footing
piece by piece



And once we were up 
it seemed like daily 
we grew
through community
Fellow writers made us strong
even when we weren't confident about
the words and ideas we'd strung together



And there were the days
in the high-teens and early-twenties
where a tired thought argued with a productive one
It'd be easy to skip tonight...
The challenge won out
Perseverance blossomed
We chose a new angle from which to write



As we drew near to 30
we stood tall
surveying our stories
and
noting the influences 
of friends
of mentors
of comments



And now we've arrived
March 31, 2014
We sit
the satisfaction of stick-with-it-ness
glows
because
we know we can do it
And because we can keep growing together
week by week


Until Tuesday...



Write on,
b




Sunday, March 30, 2014

We are together | Slice 30:31

The sun is shining
through the creamy sheers
that dress the bank of windows
on the east wall of the family room
I choose to sit
in front of them
feeling each ray's warmth
melting into a hazelnut leather armchair
that angles toward its better half
which cushions my better half as we
relax
and 
talk
and
explore summer vacations
while I write for you
you sit with us here
in this peaceful space
on this quiet morning
your feet crossed in an X 
atop the rectangular pincushion of an ottoman
sharing a corner like we do
there is so much to say
but sometimes we don't say it
we sit
we bask
we reflect
like the sun 
as it illuminates the pair of wall hangings
shining like glassy waves rolling into
an idyllic beach

We are together




Write on,
b

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dress-up | Slice 29:31



I do this sometimes
I disappear into my closet, and reemerge many times
as someone different
Maybe I try on my black leggings, new tunic from Anthropologie, and the suede Mary Janes I wrote about earlier this month...
the boho-hippie girl I like to be sometimes
Maybe I try on my spring capri pants (to make sure they still fit) with my mix-and-match knit shirts, mostly striped...OK, always striped...
the preppie girl I like to be sometimes
Maybe I try on my black dresses with new accessories (like pearls, or statement necklaces, or a scarf) and different pairs of heels (like round-toed pumps, pointy-toed patent leather slingbacks, or bronze peep-toed slip-ons)...
the refined girl I like to be sometimes
I consider this all homework
You know, for the mornings where I need to get dressed quickly
(which, incidentally, is most of them)
I remember
which shoes complement each
skirt, pair of pants, and dress
I remember
the combos I wore last season
and the new ones I create while playing dress-up
Tonight
I found a sleeveless dress hanging in a suit bag from Parisian
I bought it four years ago when the store was still open downtown
It still has the tags hanging from the left armhole and it still fits
But when I put it on it needed something that popped
so I added my most recent purchase
this belt, a steal at $4.88, from Loft


It goes with the dress like the two were sold together
A blessing...I might need such an outfit sometime soon
And I found it playing dress-up

Write on,
b

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ice cream? | Slice 28:31

I am watching 'Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives', sitting cross-legged on the family room rug while my husband runs to the grocery store for ice cream. It's amazing how easily our conversation transitioned from idea to grabbing shoes, one wallet, and a set of keys...

He giggles, "You know, I'm still hungry."

"I could eat again...I'm not really full either," I throw out the way a little child does with an encouraging nod and a wink that ensures he'll ultimately get what he wants.

He bites. "Well, I could go to Marsh. If you could have anything you want, what would it be?"

"My favorite is Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. You'd love it -- chocolate ice cream full of mini chocolate fish and intersecting rivers of caramel and marshmallow cream.Will you try to find that?"

"Will it be on sale?"

Our eyes meet; he reads them like a billboard.

Then he advances a knowing glance. One that covers my tired body like a cozy blanket. One that acknowledges the strife I feel when analyzing (and over-analyzing) my next career move and lets me know that it will be alright. One that soothes my spirit by plying it with sweet treats, because even if it doesn't make any sense to my diet...it most surely does for my mental health.

Guy Fieri continues to jabber about greasy treats, cheesy delights, and desserts slathered in sauces; I keep typing.

I won't lie -- I'm looking forward to the perfect bite of Phish Food that is speckled with a little ice cream, oozing with a caramel, marshmallowy river, and built on one perfectly incorporated chocolate fish.




I think I hear the garage door opening...

Write on,
b


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Art lesson... | Slice 27:31

We had just finished the tough part -- peeling the final product from its waxy background.

"Mommy, let's hang your new sticker over here," he headed toward the dining room window while padding around shiny pieces of All-Clad that dotted our kitchen floor thanks to one toddler who likes raiding cabinets far more than toy boxes. I followed with baited breath and a back-pocket "Why this window, Reid?" just in case he didn't offer tantalizing details, such as this one. I'm always so curious to see how his line of thinking unfolds...

"Here we go," he slid behind the white wood blinds with the colorful dragonfly sticker pressed into one hand. We had made it together over the past two days, thanks for a kit my parents mailed him on Valentine's Day, and had waited...and waited...and waited for each component to dry before moving on to the next. 


Reid's little creative heart swooned as he found just the right spot on the lower half of the casement window. He used his soft fingertips to pad it into place.


Time to pull it out. The question du jour. "So, Reid, why this window for your beautiful dragonfly?" His answer came before I took my next breath.

He walked toward the antique chair closest to the window, patting its black leather seat pad. "Well, Mommy, you sit at the dining room table everyday...in this chair...to do school work on your computer, so I wanted you to have something pretty to look at. You can look at it and think of me."

Be.still.my.heart.

He teaches me with his dried-goo artistry...
that none of us is done growing and changing, child or adult
that we can be transparent, allowing His light to shine through us 
that we can bless others with our gifts, stickers or words

Write on,
b





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Roadtrip!?! | Slice 26:31

If I were a drinking girl, I would've been bellied up to a bar -- mine or someone else's -- by the time our blessed Jeep was ready to leave for Grandma and Grandpa's house this afternoon.

Each little checklist item took more effort than it should to accomplish. I will spare you the painful details -- I'm not yet ready to fashion them into crafty words -- so an overview will have to suffice.

Each little temper tantrum escalated past normal ranges. The elder, by the way, not the baby.

Each little momentary escape to be in a room by myself was interrupted by "Mooooooooommmmmmmmy?!?"

Each little glimpse of progress dimmed in the shadows of a new mess.

Each little job to do devolved into some variation of this exchange:
"I'll do that for you, Mommy."
"Thank you, this is so heavy, I'll just go ahead and do us both a favor by carrying X out to the car."
"Moooooommmmy! I said I would do it!! (insert fit here)
"Thank you -- that's so sweet of you -- but I'll find another job for you."
"Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!"

And finally, the three of us stood in the kitchen...ready to take the last bathroom break, grab the last snack, sip the last drink, and give the house the last once-over before cozying into car seats.

"Hey, Mommy!" the elder little started as he squeezed his applesauce packet dangerously. "I can eat this faster than two elephants eating hay!"

I never would've thought.

In a few minutes, I can jump into the Starbucks drive-thru line for a grande chai faster than you can disagree with me...



Write on,
b

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Google it... | Slice 25:31

I needed a diversion. A time-filler while I raced upstairs to rescue the baby bouncing around in his crib like a misguided rocket following his healthy nap this afternoon.

"Would you like to play something in your folder on my iPad?"

Eyes a-glow, "Yes!"

"OK." I served him the tiny technological wonder with his 'Reid's games' open before loping down the entry hallway and up the stairs.

"Mooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy? Mommy?!? Mooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmy?"

"YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS..." I answered back over the upstairs banister toward the kitchen where he sat bellied up to the island. It had been ten seconds.

"How do you spell -ing?"

Remembering I gave him a tip from the Phonics Dance this spring I began singing the chant, "i-n-g. -ing, -ing, -ing..." as Grant and I bounced tread by tread toward him.

"Mommy, I can't type."

"What do you mean? If you want to type, let's open 'Notes.'" I multi-tasked while grabbing a warm bottle. (That's an affirmative -- Grant still takes a bottle before naps and sometimes after. I know.)

Two seconds later, I peeked over to find this:


"It won't go anywhere, Mommy. Where are the pictures?" he sat tapping his megaword as any remaining patience disappeared like the fickle snowfall this afternoon.

Slow on the uptake, I finally connected the dots. "If you want to look online for something, we need to go to Google. What do you want to search for, Reid?"

"Riding mowers. I want to find Daddy's."

I smiled.

Write on,
b


Monday, March 24, 2014

Chew... | Slice 24:31

Like spokes on a wheel, we sat around the cherry dinner table tonight...me, then Reid, then Tom, then little Grant in the booster seat attached to one of the chairs matching our dinette. As the homemade fried rice and teriyaki drumsticks splattering our white scalloped plates cooled, I situated myself from the most recent trip to the refrigerator (this time, for juice) and ate, determined to finish before the next "Can you get..." request. But, with each bite, my mind traveled deeper into my career quandary and farther from the cheerful banter that convenes when we sit down together each evening. I descended into my modus operandi (over-analysis) by fashioning this week's events into an ESPN '30 for 30'-type episode. I prompted myself to chew, ironically...

A faint sputter, that grew more pronounced, turned into a cough..that turned into a red-faced baby... catapulted me out of my arresting thoughts and toward him, my palm rhythmically tapping the top of his back. Pat. Pat. Pat. Firmer. Pat-pat. Pat-pat. Pat-pat

"It's not working! Look -- his face is getting redder! He can't breathe!" I appealed while Tom ran around the table and unhooked Grant's tray (strewn with succulent pieces of chicken, juicy peas, stranded grains of fried rice, and shards of mini pretzel twists shedding salt) before I even finished my words. Reid sat quietly, his eyes like coffee brewing...developing depth with each passing moment.

We both fumbled with the booster seat's harness, while Tom's finger swiped over Grant's tongue. Nothing. But 'nothing' certainly wouldn't elicit the sounds he was now creating, nor the pall changing his complexion from reddish-scary to grayish-REALLY-scary. I patted the butter-soft skin under his wispy white-blonde hairline. Harder. And harder again while Tom propped him between his chest and right knee. I blinked in disbelief -- this ordeal played out at my Amish-made dinner table, sitting on my burgundy floral rug, in my L-shaped kitchen where Tom demolished the previous owner's floor and painted the walls Stonehenge Greige with my parents' help as I sat, big and pregnant, in a royal blue fold-out chair more familiar with baseball games than home improvement projects. Just a couple months before this little one joined our family...

I focused in on his thick silver wedding band that flashed like a streak of lightening as he raced against time to free Grant's airway. My eyes zoomed toward his, peaceful as a sun-drenched river in springtime, which seemed in direct opposition to the intent revealed by his pursed lips. He held our baby like a shepherd cradling his sheep. 

Pat. Pat. Pat-pat-pat-PAT.

Like an answer to prayer, an impressive hunk of gummied pretzel appeared and downgraded Grant's cheeks toward fair-skin flush.  

It wasn't until then that I heard Reid asking questions about where food goes when we chew and swallow. It wasn't until then that I heard the neighbor's black and tan dog barking in the backyard. It wasn't until then that I heard the suppertime traffic wheesh past our front door after a short stop-off at home to grab the family before heading back out for someone else's cooking.

"Here's your sippy...have some water. It's cold." His little hand, powered by the whole of his diminutive frame, pushed the the blue and green cup back to me while the other ran from his tummy toward the left diaper tab. Today I realized he can unhook them. 

"Want some applesauce?" I slipped into the pantry grabbing a pouch to sway his vote and unscrewed its lemon yellow lid before offering a sip.

"Drink," I encouraged. Wash it alllllll down.

He did, between giggles and goo-goo eyes. I cradled him, nuzzling the satiny hair that framed his satiny forehead. And for the second time during tonight's dinner, time stood still...

Write on,
b

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Train track epiphany... | Slice 23:31

This post is a continuation of my thinking from 'Clarity: Slice 22:31'. The backstory here is that I just found out my instructional coaching position will be dissolved for 2014-15...

I kept my word this afternoon.

After dishes
and grocery shopping
and sweeping
and laundry
and a FaceTime coffee break with my mom
and fluffing pillows.

I went downstairs to the basement to work out. Like I told you I would last week. Or was that two weeks ago now?

I had a willing accomplice too. For him, the chilly basement's draw is our almagam of Thomas the Train TrackMaster sets. If you have a little boy, this term needs no decoding -- you can imagine what this blessed elbow of the L-shaped space looks like...and sounds like...and well, I digress.

While I shimmied, and jiggled, and danced, and sweat, he created. I looked back sparingly, as not to invite "Mommy, I can't..." and "Mommy, can you come over here and..." I know this kid -- when left to his own devices, he can be brilliant or a four-year-old hot mess.

As Mari and I winded down, his sound effects became more emphatic. Stepping toward a sea of smaller track sections, I became his life preserver...buoying his little spirit from fantastic frustration.

"Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyy, these pieces don't fit together. I need more straight pieces to make these two tracks connect. And I don't have them. Now what will I do?"

Like the angel on his shoulder, "Did you check the laundry basket full of spare wood pieces?"

"No, I forgot."

"Let's look together; I'm guessing we have something that will work. If we don't, we'll just try another design. That's what we do when we're stuck."

We leaned over into that lime laundry basket to find straight pieces, curved pieces, hilly pieces, and junction pieces. "It looks like we have the pieces you need, little guy. Now see what you can do..."

I should take my own advice.

I know standards. I know instructional best practices. I know workshop. I know authenticity. I know resources, lovely mentor texts, 'Choice Words', technology, personalization. I know where these intersect in some ostentatious Venn. 

I know.

So, why am I scared of a job change after five years?

Because I don't know how all the pieces fit together yet.

But I will. Yes, I will. Because just like these silly train tracks that frustrate and demand tedious revision, so does my professional life. I may need to experiment with a few designs before everything runs smoothly -- just like it was meant to be -- but it will. Again.  

So, let's start figuring this thing out. Scenario #1...

Write on,
b


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Clarity | Slice 22:31

I sit here now not knowing if 
the lights should be on or off
the coffee strong or weak
the pace fast or slow
the boxes empty or full
the questions
they loom like disagreeable friends
who once stood supportive
but changed
their stripes
stripes that embraced 
now separate
if I'm not careful
the questions grow
bigger and bigger
closer and closer
crowding out the sunlight
from yesterday
that carries today
that may be hidden tomorrow
people say
change is what keeps us
moving forward and 
objectively 
it is true
what is to come will be better
but
subjectively
it is sometimes
smiles that turn into tears 
without warning
and 
musings that turn into fears
without end

I covet 
the quietness
the peace
a nap
an opportunity

They will come.

Write on,
b




Friday, March 21, 2014

two hours in the making... | 21:30

sleep laps at the edges of my tired body
overtakes
and then lets go
refocus
overtakes
and then lets go
i wake up to remember it's spring break

Write on,
b

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Counting the days... | Slice 20:31

Gleaming like the morning sun 
it sits on the eastern kitchen sill 
as a monument to 
anticipation
what will come come over spring break
when the bags are packed 
and the Jeep drives two hours north
and the boys and Mommy 
unbuckle, unload, 
and then unlock 
the door at Grandma and Grandpa's house
it is the topic before dinner and after prayers
Mommy, as soon I as get up I will tear off the next link
because we will be another day closer
to seeing Grandma and Grandpa
And sure enough he remembers this morning
bounding down the stairs like an arrow speeding toward its target
Will you help me get it down?
Absolutely
Thank you
Rrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiip
Let's touch and count
1
2
3
4
5
6
7 days!



I can't wait, Mommy
Me neither

Write on,
b

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pillow talk... | Slice 19:31

The covers snug around my face, I started one last conversation with my husband before sleep.

B: Today in a planning meeting, we talked about subordinating and coordinating conjunctions. 

T: I don't remember what those are.

B: Well, a subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause, like 'When I get my hair done, I will have no grey hair.'

T: Oh, right. OK.

B: And a coordinating conjunction connects words, phrases, and clauses, like 'I want ice cream and french fries for dinner.' Think FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

T: Got it.

B: Then we started talking about the Oxford comma.


T: Are you kidding me?

B: Of course not. Oxford commas are important. I mean, you've seen that poster that says, 'Let's eat Grandma' and 'Let's eat, Grandma.'



T: Yes. But it's bigger than that. I once had a whole undergrad class session devoted to its use. Not everyone agrees that that last comma is as important as you think it is. 

B: Really? Why? If you don't include the last comma, you end up putting two things together that may not necessarily go. Like not everything goes together like peanut butter and jelly, right? If you put two items together without the comma, the list makes no sense. 



T: Yes. But sometimes the comma takes up space. Word economy is critical to writers. So is space economy.


B: I still think the Oxford comma makes the most sense and I will still keep using it.

T: OK.

B: Good night, love.

T: Good night, love.


Write on,
b

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

18 | 18:31

18
years since high school graduation
books on writing instruction line my shelves
tank tops balloon from a single hanger
pairs of flip-flops long for sunshine
coffee mugs fill my too-tight cupboards
steps separate sleepers from parents who are awake
black t-shirts, turtlenecks, sweaters, and blouses lie in wait for tomorrow
jars of spices mingle in the cabinet by our stove
pairs of earrings stare out from their clear case
gallons of gas fuel my travels each week
cookies from Grandma anchor weeknight desserts
serenades at the Crosby, Stills, & Nash concert Friday
bobby pins blanket my vanity drawer
coupons pop out of my purse
colored pencils sit at the ready
post-it notes dangle from books I want to think more about
18

And some of you expected me to write about Peyton Manning... :)

Write on,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Smooch | Slice 17:31

We storm out of the house each weekday morning...accounting for children and car seat buckles, school bags and lunches, sippy cups of milk and show-n-tell tubs. With one eye on the clock and the other on the minutiae, we make our good-bye rounds. 

"Grantie, have fun with Miss Heidi."
He follows with a rough wave (he's still fine-tuning its mechanics) and something that sounds like "iy-dee."
Smooch.

"Reidaroo, be good to Mrs. Sedam and Mrs. Oslos -- it's a Rainbows class day."
Smooch.

"Daddy, drive safely and be a blessing at work."
Smooch.

The roaring engine of my husband's powerful sedan awakens, followed by the grumble of my Jeep. They slide down the driveway first, I ease out and shut the garage door. We speed away toward the neighborhood's entrance where, with patience, we wait behind other cars inching into the stoplight's growing trail. Sometimes we make it in together, sometimes I have to catch up to the charcoal muscle car with two little bumps sprouting from the backseat windows. 

I most always do though. It's like the final goodbye -- the final send-off towards the hours that meld into school and drafting and doting and learning.

There's the light at 106th Street that collects worker cars, school cars, gym cars, and the occasional semi-truck heading back toward the city. It's on the slowest timer and I usually find them there, talking and looking around, as I pull into the adjacent lane. I wonder what they're saying...I wonder if Grant has fallen back to sleep...I wonder if Reid is singing radio tunes since, most likely, my husband is listening the The Police. And then I wonder if he'll turn and look my direction...

He does and makes eyes like fireworks exploding on a dark summer night. His lips mouth, "Daddy! There's Mommy!" And then a smaller hand shoots up...with that little mechanical wave. If I could see his eyes...I know they'd be wide pools of blue, inviting me in to take a dip.

I blow Reid a kiss, his exaggerated catch overflows into its landing on his rosy cheek.  
Smooch.

He blows me one and I follow suit. 
Smooch.

The light turns green and the lanes spread us apart... The Jeep heads east and the Charger west. But that's just logistics; we're really altogether.

My heart says we are.

Write on,
b

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New trick... | Slice 16:31

Bundled up in his cozy fleece blanket sleeper and wrapped in his polka-dotted chamois blanket, little G's sleepy body fit perfectly into the crook of mine as we rocked tonight before bed.  Sipping on warm milk with one hand, with the other he found my nose...and then his...and then my eyes...and then his...and then my long hair (that most likely tickled his fuzzy forehead) and then his.

As a point of independence, he sat up with a start, handed me the still-warm bottle, and added his version of "All done" (which, incidentally, would have been so much more effective had I included this sound byte).

My heart melted.
But, then again, what can I say -- it always does. With each moment. With each smile.

With each new trick.

Walking over the crib, we said prayers while snuggling as he nestled into the crook of my neck. After one last kiss, I laid him down.

Now typically after saying our 'good-nights,' I sneak out of his bedroom...no more eye contact, no more sound effects, no more...but tonight, I couldn't resist one last peek.

And this is what I saw: one blondie with blue eyes, head turned to track my steps past the doorway and into the hall; his right palm raised toward his soft, lilly-white cheeks and rosy lips.

Smooch.

While his hand moved back toward the mattress, his focus never changed. Eyes locked; hearts fluttered. I had to reciprocate.

My right palm found my lips -- smooch -- and then blew my kiss toward his sweet little smile. If air kisses are like keeping a putt lined up by watching it all the way to the cup, I am pretty sure he received my air mail. And I'm more than sure I received mine.

This new trick will be easy to get used to...

Write on,
b




Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thank you... | Slice 15:31

The tired sun chased our car away from the pizzeria tonight. It followed us as we meandered through the Craftsman bungalows of our small downtown area. It jogged beside us passed the dormant golf course and nature trail, as well as the sleepy community pool.

With full bellies, we were sleepy too...and made the short trip home almost as if we'd promised not to say a word.

Until the silence stopped.
Which most typically is sponsored by our four-year-old's silliness. 
Or, scrapbook-sweet queries.  
(You can read about one such conversation here.)

"Daddy?"

We both glanced backward as if taking this scenario's temperature. His left cheek glowed in today's eleventh-hour light. His eyes were soft.

He continued. "I just want to thank you for taking us to a new pizza place for dinner. I really liked it and the pizza was good."

Or sometimes even, statements of affirmation.  

"You're welcome, Buddy. Your kind words mean so much -- thank you for blessing us with them."

As the sky's blue continuum grew bolder and more varied, so did our base of skills to nurture this little one.

And so did our confidence.

Write on,
b

Friday, March 14, 2014

There's a concert tonight | Slice 14:31

There will be a familiar guitar swimming above a familiar beat
And then, a familiar voice will intermingle
Hello, cowgirl in the sand, is this place at your command?
Old enough now to change your name, when so many love you, is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game...

Another familiar voice, this time with a psychedelic organ in the background
If you smile at me, I will understand
That is something everybody everywhere does in the same language
Wooden ships on the water, very free (and easy)
Easy, you know the way it's supposed to be

And another...sweeter, more contemplative voice 
accompanied by the grand piano's simple chords
I'll light the fire, you place the candle in the vase that you bought today
Staring at the fire for hours and hours as I listen to you play your love songs
All night long for me....only for me

And then, the magical triumvirate will unite
Dododododo, do, do, dodododo
Dododododo, do, do, dodo
Dododododo, do, do, dodododo
Dododododo, do, do, dodo
(Are you humming 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' yet?)

It'll speed up
And there's a rose in the fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with
Love the one you're with

It'll slow down
All along the lee shore, shells lie scattered in the sand
Winking up like shining eyes at me from the sea
Here is one like sunrise, it's older than you know
It's still lying there where some careless wave
Forgot it long ago


It'll challenge
From the bottom of the ocean to the mountains of the moon
Won't you please come to Chicago
No one else can take your place
We can change the world
Rearrange the world

It'll remember
Guinnevere had golden hair
like yours, mi'lady, like yours
Streaming out when we'd ride 
through the warm wind down by the bay
Yesterday
Seagulls circle endlessly
I sing in silent harmony
We shall be free

It'll galvanize
Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the calling
Four dead in O-hi-o

It'll encourage
Teach your children well
Their father's hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick is the one you'll know by

It'll connect
Though we rush ahead to save our time
We are only what we feel and I love you
Can you feel it now?

Just a song before I go, to whom it may concern...

There's a concert tonight

Write on,
b

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where I am... | Slice 13:31

This is where I am today...

I'm clunking down my tall, straight stairway in too-big shoes
Almost missing treads I usually make
Slipping around the toe box looking for just the right spot
the familiar spot
with time-worn impressions
to cushion my steps
and bring me back to the places I know best
As twilight fades from cornflower to navy
I search for reminders
to guide me
to nestle my heel
as it sails free
in the shoes of another
clunk
clunk
clunk

But now I've made it
down the treads
past the spot where the stairway angles
and puddles into the cherry-stained floor
despite the bumpy ride
I'm here in
the shoes I have made my own
as I dream of 
another trip up 
on another day

Write on,
b

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.

- William Faulkner

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Looking forward, looking back | Slice 12:31

While Grandpa hobbled up two steps into the house and straight toward the great room to nest in the leather armchair with the men, Grandma stood in the sunny entryway eager to explore my family's new house with the ladies. At 89, wrinkly skin hugged her warm brown eyes naturally drawn to detail. I followed her small steps, cradling sweet, sleeping Grant, and listened to her musings.

"Look at the stairway. It's so tall and straight."
You know, I used to have an upstairs like this when the kids were growing up...but now, no more stairs for us!

"Look at the tweed couch. It's so comfortable and new."  
You know, I used to have fresh, cozy furniture...but now, my 'new' couch numbers a decade and is uncomfortable and outdated.

"Look at the countertops. They're so beautiful and sturdy."
You know, I used to have a nice kitchen, my dream kitchen, that we remodeled...but now I just imagine cooking in the fancy spaces I see on Food Network each afternoon. Have you seen Giada's? It's sooooooo pretty."

"Look at the appliances. They're so shiny and modern."
You know, I used to love new gadgets...but now, I don't have room to keep any of them except my coffee maker and egg cooker.

"How do you like your dishwasher?"
You know, I've never had one.

I didn't realize...

Write on,
b

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Elusive curls... | Slice 11:31

At mid-back, my hair is the longest it's ever been
Anymore when I go through my hair-drying routine
of plotting my head like a familiar subdivision
and drying each lot one by one around a bristle brush
and letting each curl set before moving onto the next phase
All I get is volume, with a little curl that falls flat
post haste

It's time for a new solution.

Sunday night, I showered before bed
and formulated a secondary plan:
If my old routine isn't working because
I never have enough time to let my curls properly set
what I need is to invite my hair to work
while I sleep so
I divvied, and rolled, and jimmied
the so-called 'handy' foam curlers'
velcro straps
and went to bed looking like my grandmother

Monday morning, I finished drying the too-big
loops of hair cascading out of the too-small curlers
Unrolling each package felt momentous
but tinged with disappointment
More curlers?
More drying time?
More skill?


Later than evening, I explained this week's experiment to my mom over FaceTime. With a sparkle in her eye she shared the solution:

"Well, Brenna, what you really need is a hair dryer like I used to have. You could sit underneath it each morning, drink coffee, and do schoolwork while your curls set. That's what I would do..."

"For how long?"
Hey, she may still have this up in the attic.

"An hour."

"Mom, I'm trying to save time, not spend more time."

"Then maybe you need a hair cut."


And that is it.

Write on,
b

Monday, March 10, 2014

Patience & Mary Janes | Slice 10:31

They first called to me
passing through Nordstrom's shoe sanctuary
as Indian summer played outside under signature cornflower skies
I made a beeline
toward fancy Mary Janes with
teardrop cutouts
a wedge heel
and peep toe
Their black suede exterior
made me think
I'd like to have these; I'd wear them often
At better than $90
my head silenced my heart

A few months passed
I sped through Nordstrom
Finishing last-minute Christmas shopping
Banners pointed toward one section of women's shoes
Clearance
Their faint call became more pronounced
amidst the holiday hustle and bustle
Another beeline
toward triple-tiered racks
brimming with fancy shoes
knock-around shoes
glittery shoes
boat shoes
and
my
Mary Jane
shoes
Encouraging trendy clerks
to dismiss unsightly
wintry toes
hiding beneath knee socks
and tall boots
I tried them on

Cinderella

Today, spring teased us
with impressive warmth
my thoughts ran toward
teardrop cutouts
peep toe
a wedge heel
toenail polish and
black pencil pants
Getting dressed
was fun again
My Mary Janes
were
worth
the
wait


Bonus post script: They're even comfy! :)

Write on,
b