Category Archives: Me

A letter to my beautiful daughter

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My little beauty,

One day you will grow up and discover that your mommy isn’t the most beautiful woman in the eyes of the world.  I will not grace the cover of glossy magazines (if they still exist), I will not be profiled on entertainment news shows, and no one will copy my style.  I will, however, be confident in myself and my image.  I will show you the good and the bad and teach you to celebrate both.

Lately, I have been getting healthier but mostly for the wrong reason.  I was concerned with how my clothes fit, if things were bulging out, and reducing the jiggle.  I have been eating better and working out but I have discovered that no matter how I look I always criticize my current state and obsess for better.  There is nothing wrong with getting healthy as long as you take a moment to appreciate your accomplishments because that is what it’s all about.

Today I make a promise to be a less narrow minded woman.  I will no longer focus on things that sag or bulge over but rather be satisfied with the steps I have taken, achievements I have made.  I will look in the mirror and project confidence, satisfaction, accomplishment.  I will smile.

I know it is cliché but society is placing unrealistic expectations on women then judging them for not meeting them.  We see magazine covers touting how celebrities quickly get their body back after having a baby and it forces us regular moms into thinking we aren’t trying hard enough.  I am guilty of succumbing to this pressure.  I try!  I work my ass off –if I had an ass to work off- but I will never look like they do and I am finally okay with that.

I have never been confident.  I may act like I am but you can find my sucking it in and checking myself out when I pass a mirror.  Then I became a mom to a beautiful little girl.  It became apparent that the only opinion that should matter to me is my own.  I began to look at myself through your eyes.  I asked myself “How do I want my little girl to perceive me?” and “How do I want to show her how to perceive herself?”

You gave me stretch marks and confidence.  My boobies are smaller but so are my insecurities.  There are days I stink, my hair is a mess, my clothes don’t match and I am exhausted but when you see me walk into a room your face lights up.  I can see it now, even though you are still so little, that I am the center of your world.  When we look in the mirror together you smoosh your face next to mine and smile at us.  You always want to be with me doing the things that I do.  You want to share your things and you will try anything as long as it comes from me.  I promise to be mindful with this influence I have and strive to teach you the right lessons.

I never want you to be unhappy with your image.  You are an extension of me.  You even look like me (some).  If I don’t love me how can I expect you to love you?  I need to set an example.  You already look up at me and mimic the things I do.  I need to show you that it doesn’t matter what we are told we need to look like; as long as you are happy with yourself that is all that matters.

I will no longer perpetuate self-image issues and insecurities.  I will eat a greasy cheeseburger with my family when we dine-out instead of –unsatisfyingly- ordering a salad.  I will wear a bikini even though my stretch marks are showing and I have rolls when I move certain ways.  I will smile every time I look at myself in the mirror and I will mean it!

You, my little girl, are beautiful, and I hope you can see that every single day.  I will show you how.

Love,

Mom.

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The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings

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Almost a year ago when we started making plans to move to Hawaii I bought a few books with a Hawaiian element; The Descendents by Kaui Hart Hemmings, being one of them.  It had pretty good reviews on Amazon and the movie was getting a lot of attention.  Unfortunately, it took about seven months for me to finish due to Kylee’s birth, moving, and my reading ADD.  There was a six month hiatus from when I first put it down until I started reading again but when I did start reading again I could not put it down.

The story follows Matt King, a decedent of the last Hawaiian royalty and the majority trustee of 25,000 acres of unspoiled and highly coveted Hawaiian land which he must decide the fate of.  His adventure seeking wife lay comatose in the hospital after a sport-boating accident and will be taken off life support in the coming days.

The Descendants  by Kaui Hart Hemmings

The Descendants
by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Matt thinks it is best to spread the word of his wife’s terminal condition to their family and closest friends in person and he does so with his two daughters and one’s friend in tow.  While going through her belongings, Matt finds a note which implicates that she is having an affair so he decides to track down his wife’s lover to give him the news and allow him to pay his respects before she dies.

During the adventure to track down her lover, Brian Speer, Matt realizes how much he has been absent in his wife and daughters’ life.  His youngest, Scottie, 10, acts out, says inappropriate things, and bullies other kids.  Alex, 17, struggles with alcohol and drug abuse and is a free spirit like her mother.  Alex confirms her mother’s affair when she tells Matt she saw her and Biran flirting and entering a house.  She says she confronted her mom, they fought, and haven’t spoken since so now she is plagued with guilt about how they ended things.

Last night Kyle and I watched the movie; I was let down.  I know it is impossible to bring the richness of a 320 page novel to a 120 minute movie but I felt it really missed something.   I feel Matt’s relationship with his daughters, his absence, fears, and rebuilding was more the meat of the novel rather than locating his wife’s lover.  Hemmings beautifully developed her characters along with their relationships and dialogue.

The dysfunctional parenting evolves to something practical, not necessarily pretty but it works for them.  In the movie, I could tell the developing relationship between Matt and his daughters had a role but, I think, for someone who hasn’t read the book it may not have been so obvious. The very last scene in the movie may have hinted at it but then it is too late.  In it, Matt brings ice cream to his youngest daughter as she sits on the couch watching TV.  A few seconds later his other daughter walks into the room and plops down on the couch next to her dad and shares the ice cream too.  Nothing is said.  They just share a blanket –the one off their mother’s deathbed- and ice cream as they watch TV.  I thought it was a great scene which really brought to head their patched relationship but to someone who hadn’t read the book, would it be anything more than three people watching TV?

I loved the book.  I would read it again and absolutely recommend it to a fellow reader.  Hemmings’ writing is fluid and captivating.  She made flawed characters lovable and difficult situations realistically comfortable.  The Hawaiian she uses feels authentic but not pretentious making it a universally relatable read.  Amazon shows he has a new book coming out in 2014 and I am eager to get my hands on a copy when it becomes available.

 

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.amazon.com.

Ps.  That is a direct link to the book on Amazon.

Working my butt off (and forgetting)

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On Tuesday night as we tucked Reece into bed I had a realization that hit me like a cold shower, I forgot to write and publish today!  It was like a sweeping worried feeling, like I had forgotten my homework or forgot to study for a test.  It was a strange feeling and I beat myself up for forgetting as I got ready for bed.

When I first started writing –over a year ago- it was an everyday routine.  I would set aside time to get out my random thoughts and updates, feeling so much better once they were in word-form.  Then Kylee was born and things slowed down.  I didn’t have the time or mental capacity to write as frequently.  I always wanted to return to my earlier routine but that would have to wait until my life was a little more routine, itself.  Once Kylee settled down I began writing with some regularity again but then we moved to a tiny rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, screwing things up all over again.

The last box!

The last box!

Months had gone by before I was able to commit to writing every other day.  It was simpler than I anticipated.  I thought I would forget which days I was supposed to write, forgetting I wrote or didn’t write yesterday, but easily enough I got into the groove of things.  Every-other day allowed me some me time and reading on a regular basis.

This week has proven that no matter how simple I make things for myself I can still screw up the simplest pattern.

Last Friday I didn’t write.  This was a conscious choice.  We had moved into the new house, we were living on limited resources and I was stealing internet –sporadically- from one of my neighbors.  The kids were going a bit crazy, given we just messed up their routines, so to carve out an hour to write was not top priority.  I figured it be best for me to skip a day and focus on the kids while getting ready for the movers.

Tuesday’s missed publication?  That was just sheer absentmindedness.

Since the movers brought our stuff –Saturday- I have been working like a mule.  Besides heavy furniture, EVERYTHING was moved into the garage instead of our house -per our request so we don’t bring any uninvited roommates- so I am doing what I can to move us in while Kyle is at work.  The best time for me to move is when the kids nap; typically my writing time.  But since Saturday I have looked forward to nap time because it is when I am able most productive.

So here we are.  Thursday.  I haven’t blogged since Sunday but my house looks somewhat like a house.  The garage is left with only with garage stuff and there isn’t a single box left to unpack.  Not everything is in it’s place yet but it is close.  We are still working at figuring out our routine and I like where it is headed.  The kids are a bit mixed up but seem to be settling quicker than it took our last move.

I don’t want to think of my missing a post that I forgot or it lacked importance but rather, my blog took one for the team.  It self-sacrificed so that I may get this house and my family settled.

Good job Blog!  I am proud of you!

27 things about ME!!!

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In honor of my 27th birthday I thought I would share 27 things about myself.  

27.  I am OBSESSED with books.  I love the physical aspect almost as much as the literary.  I have over 700 in my personal library and I will not loan you a single one.  It is the quickest way to lose a friend.

26.  I cannot chose a favorite color, I love them all.

Go Gators!

Go Gators!

25.  I am allergic to cats, dogs, dust, cockroaches, and some tree in Georgia but I have been ‘de-sensitized’ so they don’t bother me as much as they used to; unless it barks when the kids are napping.

24.  A life dream of mine is to earn a degree (whether legitimate or honorary) from the University of Florida!

23.  I have never had a broken bone or needed stiches.

22.  I would rather get stung by a bee than watch baseball, golf, tennis, or NASCAR on TV.

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Sarge

21. Kyle thinks I took his dog when he joined the Army so he would come back to marry me.  Truth is, I loved Sarge and didn’t know if Kyle was coming back for him.  If he didn’t, I at least had his awesome dog.

20.  I will not share milk.  I will share any other food or drink but not milk.

19.  I do not like beans.  They feel like pellets of toothpaste.  Yuck.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador

The Hallucinogenic Toreador

18.  I have three older sisters.  The eldest is just five years my senior.

17.  I have had the same cell phone number since I was 16.  Call me!

16.  At birth, I weighed 11lbs.  Fatty, fatty me.

15.  Every night I watch NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  It has been a family tradition since I was little and it was anchored by Tom Brokaw.

14.  Salvador Dali is my favorite artist with his painting The Hallucinogenic Toreador being my favorite of his work.  His is such a strange man and the way he draws inspiration is so twisted.

13.  I am writing a novel that I hope to publish before I am thirty.

12.  My first car was  PT Crusier.  I loved that car!

11.  I HATE white noise.  If a sink is running, an AC humming, or vacuum is buzzing I get edgy, it makes my ears hurt.

10.  Football supersedes any other television event in my world.

9.  I used to say I wanted to be able to have a drink at my wedding so I didn’t want to marry before turning 21.  Kyle and I were married for ten months before I had my first drink, legally.

Me and Kylee the day she was born.

Me and Kylee the day she was born.

8.  Being the mom to four boys was my plan but Kylee screwed that up and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

7.  I bleed Red, White, and Blue.  I have so much American Pride it is almost painful and I will be the first to stand up to anyone who talks negativity about the American spirit.

6.  I have a tattoo of Wile E Coyote writing ‘Super Genius’ on my lower back.  I bet you’ve never seen a tramp stamp more original.

5.  I love to read book that have been made into movies.  If I see a movie is based on a book I am quick to buy and read it so I can compare the two.

4.  Before graduating High School, I wanted to be a criminal psychologist, specifically studying serial killers like Ted Bundy.

3.  I have a white freckle (birthmark) on my belly that turns pink when I get sunburnt.

2.  I do not like to be cold.  Putting a cold can on my skin is a sure-fire way to get me cursing.

1.  I love my family.  My husband and kids are my world!  I have the best parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, in-laws and friends!  I would give and do anything for any one of them.

My little family!

My little family!

The Perfect Sammie

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Next week I turn 27 and it seems it has taken all those years for me to create and appreciate a “grown-up’s” style sandwich.

I love sandwiches but I love them more when made by someone else.  There are very few things better than a simple sandwich put together by anyone but the consumer.  I could use the exact same ingredients, same techniques, same everything but the one made by the other person would be better.

Whenever I can, I like to treat myself to a deli sub when I go grocery shopping.  Nothing like unpacking the groceries then sitting down with a perfectly crafted sandwich.  I always get a ham and swiss on wheat with lettuce, pickles, and onion.  It was my go-to sandwich.  Kyle knows it; I only have to ask him to get me one and he knows exactly how to order it.

But it such a pain in the ass to go to the store every time I am craving a deli sammie.  I was looking for a reason to go to the store just so I enjoy the deli perk.  Paying $5.50 for one is good every once in a while but it really adds up if I get one every few days like I was for a while.

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

It was clear the time had come for me to start making my sandwich at home.   Something more than boring bread, protein, cheese, and condiment.  My sandwich needed a little more personality.  I picked up a few things while at the store (no deli sammie this time) and pledged to do it myself.  I haven’t ordered a deli sandwich since.  I make it myself and it is better that way.  If Kyle wants one –by the way, he is in love with my sammie, too-  I jump right up to make it, I love making it.  This sandwich is my baby, my perfect creation, and I just love to share it.

The Perfect (Homemade) Deli Sammie

Ingredients

-Roll (French roll, sub roll, any dense bread so it can hold all the awesomeness)

-Ham

-Swiss (Kyle likes White Chedda, so I guess you can use any cheese)

-Iceburg Lettuce

-Tomato, sliced thin

– Red onion, sliced thin

-Dill relish (relish?  I know, sounds weird, but you can distribute that pickle flavor much better)

-Mayo (not Miracle Whip! I like Heinz mayo but I’m sure Hellmann’s would work too.)

-Sub Oil (I like Beano’s Sub Oil)

Directions

-Seriously? Directions?  Cut bread in half.  Pile all that shit between the top and bottom.  Done.

Substitutions

Don’t.  Just kidding.  I know people don’t like pickles or tomato or onion, so leave it off.  I once added avocado and bean sprouts but it just wasn’t as good.  I’ve also tried it without the mayo (to be a tad healthier) but the mayo makes love to the oil and together they really take the sammie up another notch.

It may seems silly that I wrote a blog post sharing a sandwich recipe but I felt it was only fair to the rest of the world to have the opportunity to experience the awesomeness that is MY sammie.

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy

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Growing up there was a running joke in our family that went on for years that my mother is halfway through The Prince of Tides by Pay Conroy.  I didn’t understand this when I was little.  I didn’t know anything about that particular book or its author.  I remember thinking that it must be terrible because my mom couldn’t finish it but on the other hand, it had to have some sort of redeeming factor because she hadn’t given up over all that time.  I saw it once in her nightstand, sure enough with a bookmark somewhere between the covers.

One night just before Kyle left for basic training he and I were shopping.  We went into a bookstore and I made one simple request, “pick out a book for me.”  He picked The Prince of Tides I chuckled, remembering the running joke about my mom but Kyle told me it was one of his favorite books so we bought it.  It is now one of my favorite books.

Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors.

When Kyle was asked to pick my next book he ventured out of my preselected pile and handed me The Water is Wide by Conroy.  I wasn’t thrilled with his pick but it’s author being who it was I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy

The Water is Wide
by Pat Conroy

Not a novel, The Water is Wide is the real accounts of Pat’s life from 1969 when he taught as one of only two teachers on a small isolated island just off the South Carolina coast.  The kids are illiterate, can’t count, don’t know who the president it or the name of the country they live in.  These children have been neglected by the school system until a young teacher (Pat) comes to the island and turns things around.

Besides the beautiful writing, it is the relationships and interactions between Pat and his pupils that make this book great.  He connects with the kids in a way that the previous teachers have missed.  Instead of beating and whipping and demeaning his students like Ms. Brown does and suggests he do (she is the only other teacher in the small school) he jokes with them, even getting cocky.  His teaching style is bizarre but effective.  Pat takes the kids off the island for special events such as Halloween and to see the Harlem Globetrotters as a learning experience.  For most it was their first time off the island, ever.

Every great story needs a villain an The Water is Wide has one, The School Board, specifically it’s Superintendent.  Pat butts heads with Mr. Piedmont on every issues pertaining to his job, especially finance.  They fight about the gas bill, upgrades to the school and classroom, ventures off the island, and more.  Ms. Brown often reports back to the superintendent about Pat’s teaching methods which leads to more bad blood between Pat and the rest of the school system.

Given all the trouble Pat seems to be stirring up you would think his students wouldn’t be any better off than before Pat started teaching them but that really couldn’t be further from the truth.  In the year that Pat spent teaching on the island all of the students blossomed.  They learned history, math, ABCs, simple words, music, basic science, and geography.  It was his individualized teaching style that helped the kids, some of whom were only a few years away from high school.  He would focus on where each child struggled, encouraging them in a way that made lessons fun, not intimidating.

I really think every teacher should read this book.  Even though it is set in a drastically different teaching era than what we have today it really touches upon the basic fundamentals of teaching.  Pat shows how learning can be fun every child, no matter their skill level.  I would love to have Pat Conroy as my teacher when I was in school.

The only place where this book didn’t deliver was on updates.  I wish Pat would somehow go back and write an update on some of the people he introduced me to.  I want to know how the children faired after he left the island, how the island has progressed over the years, and about any evolution of the school board.  He wrote this short memoir just five years after leaving the island so there no question why there isn’t more of an update.  I can’t even say the lack of update takes away from the story; there was nothing to update at the time it was published.  I tried google-ing for updates but came up short.

This book, like all his others that I’ve read, does not disappoint.  I was hesitant to read it for years because it was a memoir and I usually prefer novels but this story read so cleanly it didn’t make a difference.  In fact, it could easily be mistaken for a novel if you knew nothing of Pat’s biography.

If you like to read and you have never had the experience of reading a single sentence written by Pat Conroy you are doing a terrible disservice to yourself.  He is a master of the written word.  He is like Paula Dean for literature, everything he writes is smooth and delectable and comforting.   Go to the bookstore –whether it be brick or digital- and buy one of his books. You won’t be disappointed.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.amazon.com

ISBN 978-1400008940

What would you grab?

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As I sit here watching news coverage of the tornado-struck Oklahoma I can’t help but to put myself in that situation.  What would I do?  How would I react?

Currently, we live in a place where ‘tornado’ isn’t a common word.  There is the occasional tsunami warning but from what I’ve been told, tsunamis are infrequent and cause little damage to most of the island.  We even get great warnings if one is one its way.  Also, I grew up in a place where hurricanes were an annual occurrence but we have days –if not weeks- of warning that one is coming. I have never had to worry about an immediate threat from a natural disaster.

Tornado alley aka. Where I am too chicken to live.

I’m sure there aren’t many options when an emergency like that is barreling down on you.  My only knowledge on the matter is what I’ve seen on TV and read in books.  Get into an underground shelter, if none are available get to the inner-most part of the house and get under/in anything anchored to the ground.  Ride out the storm and don’t emerge until everything is quiet.

If your shelter was taken care of and you knew you would be secure what would you take with you?  I know this question can include a lot of variables; tornado, hurricane, wildfire, tsunami and how much space you have at your disposal.  If it is a hurricane you could load up your car and trailer over a few days and drive to safety.  If it were a wildfire you may have days to prepare but only hours to implement.  Tsunami warnings only give a couple of hours but are not always accurate in gauging the size of the threat.  Tornados may have a general warning but the actual impact zone has only minutes to prepare and get to safety.

So, if you had only minutes as you run out the door to safety, what would you take?  What if you had a couple hours?  Let’s set aside the obvious, too.  Kids, pets, and anything or person whose life depends on you would be taken to safety.  What would you grab as you shot out the door?

In no specific order of importance, here is my list:

– The book Kyle and I lovingly call ‘the football’.  It has our marriage certificates, birth certificates, titles, social security cards, passports, and so much other paperwork that we would want to keep on us in an emergency.

– I would undoubtedly grab my external hard drive.  It has ever picture I have ever taken on it.  Good thing for social media today because most of my favorite pictures are already online but I want to make damn sure I have the originals.

– My computer.  All I would need is a wi-fi connection and I could communicate with those not affected by the event.  Plus my computer has so much of my important info that is not on my hard drive.  It could act as a lifeline and as entertainment for the kids.

– A camera would be helpful to document our situation.

– The book I am currently reading –and a few more if possible- to keep my brain occupied during the quiet times and entertainment for the kids.

– All applicable chargers and accessories.  What good is a dead phone or a radio without batteries?

I think if I had more than minutes before evacuating my list would have so much more on it but I think those are the most essential non-essentials that I would want.  Some would make getting back to normal a bit easier while others would keep my heart from breaking.

I talk all level headed now but if I were in a situation where I had to implement an actual evacuation I would most likely run around like a crazy person grabbing stupid stuff while leaving the vitals.  I would probably grab an entire box of books but forget flashlights or I would bring my toothbrush but no toothpaste.

I told Kyle that the only way I would move anywhere within tornado alley would be if I had my own basement or storm cellar.  I want to be able to take refuge in a moment’s notice and have it stocked year round with the vitals so I wouldn’t be worrying about stupid stuff during an emergency.  I am too much of a chicken and I worry way too much about the safety of my kids.  If I hear the sirens, I want to be safe, secure and as prepared as possible; not scrambling for a place to hunker down and hoping I have what I need.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.oar.noaa.gov