My Day in The Dispatch

The phone rang at work. It was the call I was hoping for. “Just one minute, let me switch phones,” I said, buying myself a couple of minutes to compose myself. It was Jonathon Turner from The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. He was calling because I am going to be in our local paper for being in the top 100 entries for my Reader’s Digest “Your Life” story entry (link here to read and vote).

My heart was beating so hard I thought it was going to jump right out of my chest and start flopping around like a fish out of water. I took a couple of deep breaths and gave myself a little  talk.

Calm down, girl! You are used to talking to people and even standing in front of large groups of people talking. You can handle a phone interview/discussion about your writing. Get ahold of yourself. All that schooling and training from your Ambrose education has prepared you for these things. They put you through the ringer with presentations for the education department just to graduate.

“Thanks for holding,” I said.

Here we go… I was so excited and nervous. I have been trying to plan out in my head how this would go and what I could say, if and when I got the call. When it came down to it, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. I guess I would wing it.

I think I might have stuttered. I felt like I couldn’t put a complete sentence together.

I could hear him typing at a hundred miles an hour as we were talking.

We started talking about my kids and blogging and I started to calm down and relax.

I hope I said what I meant to say. I hope I included everything I needed to. I wish I would have said this…or maybe that. I’m sure it was fine.

Time went so fast. The conversation was coming to a close.

Send a photographer to take our picture at 5:00?!

AWESOME!!

Oh, wait. “Tonight is Bradley’s school carnival. We can’t miss it,” I explained.

So they came to Bradley’s school and took pictures in his kindergarten room. How perfect!

I can’t wait to see the paper!!

Thanks Reader’s Digest.

And a great big thank you to all of you who have supported me and who are voting for me. I really appreciate it!

You can check out my Reader’s Digest “Your Life Story” with this link here (you can read my story and vote. You have to sign in to facebook to do this. Just follow the prompts, it only takes a minute).

And don’t forget to look for us in the paper this weekend! I will link to it when it is published.

Thanks again.

xxx

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Writer’s Workshop: My Flower Bouquet

Mama’s Losin’ ItThis weeks writing prompt: What types of flowers would be in a bouquet that best describes you?

Of course I had to write for this prompt. I am surrounded by buckets of flowers every day. I have been for the last fifteen plus years, off and on. Miller’s Florist is like my second home. I started working there when I was in high school. I grew up there. I raised my first two babies there. I was lucky to be able to bring them to work with me.

But as I think of this prompt, it is hard. What flowers would best describe a bouquet about me?  

I design floral arrangements everyday. I could do it in my sleep. The flowers don’t always talk to me. They are my tools, part of the business. When you are around them everyday, you forget to notice each one’s uniqueness and individuality.

So at work while I was thinking of this prompt, I started to pay more attention. The buds and blooms softly call my attention; soft and silvery lamonium, each million star of babies breath, weedy and wild solidago, daisies, carnations, lilies, roses, and that last hydrangea that is begging me to use it for a nice and expensive bouquet. Rose petals fold around each other like a perfect piece of artwork.

They wait in the cooler, some of their heads tangled together, some of them standing in bunches, waiting to be grabbed, cut, and sent out.

A white larkspur leans in the green bucket, waiting to be included in a tall vase. Long viney buds fly away in crazy green spirals from its base. Maybe I can be a larkspur. I have lots of little ones surrounding me all of the time.  I’m not tall, but I’m skinny again (finally! three babies in two years takes a while to lose that weight). 

I asked Connie, What flowers do you think represent you? If you were a bouquet, what would be in it?”

“I love heather. That is one of my favorites,” she said. “I like lilies, too. They open up like arms for a hug. They are versatile. You can put them in an everyday arrangement or you can dress them up.”

“That is it,” we both said at the same time.

“Definitely you. You can fit in anywhere,” I laughed.

Hmmmm….what flowers are in my bouquet?

I am everything.

I am the droopy headed asters when I’m tired, but always with a sunny middle and smile.

I am big thick sunflowers standing in the sun. I have a strong and sturdy base.

I am zinnias that grow wild in my garden. I tend to go every which way in a flurry of color and excitement.

I am delicate violets who thrive in the light. I like lots of attention, but can be left alone on the window sill and thrive, just like these fuzzy leaved plants.

I am a venus fly trap who captures and makes its own food. I can make a meal (edible, but not delicious) out of just about anything.

I am versatile. I am unique. I am a wildflower bouquet with a little bit of this, and a lot of that, and put in some of this… a little bit of everything. You just have to look real close. You never know what you may find.

xxx

Hot Dogs and Kentucky Fried Chicken

“What do you want to be for Halloween?” I asked Bradley at dinner time.

“I want to be a hot dog,” Bradley said between bites.

He said it so matter of factly. He didn’t have to think about it. He just wants to be a hot dog for Halloween.

I tried not to laugh too hard. “A hot dog?”

“Yep. A hot dog, Mom.”

“I guess Collin could be the ketchup.”

It just so happened that Connie, my boss, was out shopping today and actually found a hot dog costume. Bradley loves his costume. It makes me laugh. He looks so goofy, but cute.

Thanks, Connie!

When I was taking Bradley’s picture in his costume I told him to smile.

“Mom, hot dogs don’t smile,” he said to me.

“Oh, just smile for the picture, please,” I urged him.

And he smiled his little smile and said, “Eat me.”

I was cracking up. We have also been having fun with, “You have mustard on you,” and “Where’s the ketchup?” 

This is way different from his costume from last year (which I didn’t get to help pick out because I was in the hospital on bed rest).

xxx

AND…Bradley learned a new song at school today. Listen closelyto the way he says Kentucky Fried Chicken. 😉

 

Caterpillar Poop

We kept it in an old fish container that had lots of tiny holes on the top so he could breathe. We put tape on the two bigger holes so he couldn’t escape. It seemed like the perfect artificial habitat for our little caterpillar.

Bradley found a couple small sticks to put in there so he could climb. We fed him milkweed leaves because that is what we found him on. Aunt Terry even special delivered milkweed leaves for our hungry caterpillar and we stored them in a baggy in the refrigerator.

We put him high up on a shelf so Collin couldn’t reach him. We were afraid he would let him out, shake it; or even worse, smoosh him!

We got him down the next day to look at him. He ate almost all of his leaf! It is unbelievable such a wormy little thing can eat so much. The other leaf was dried and shriveling.

“Bradley, we will have to give him more food.”

“Yea, Mom. Because caterpillars eat and eat like in the book (referring to Eric Carl’s famous book, “The Hungry Caterpillar”). He has to get really fat first before he turns into a butterfly. Right, Mom?”

“Yep. We will have to put a few more leaves in there for him. Not suckers or pies like in the book. I don’t think he will like those things. And don’t forget, he will be a chrysalis before he is a butterfly. Remember?”

“What is all this stuff on the bottom, Mom?” Bradley asked, his nose was practically smooshed on the glass to examine his new finding.

Small brown pellets littered the bottom of the container and some were stuck to the sides.

I held it up closer, squinting, to investigate. I thought they were little bugs, but they weren’t moving. I thought they might be eggs, but there were so many of them.

“Bradley, I think that is caterpillar poop.”

“Gross!”

***

Three days later…

We checked on our caterpillar everyday. We cleaned out the poop and gave him fresh leaves to chew on. We looked forward to having a chrysalis and wondered what kind of butterfly he might turn into.

Then one day, he was gone. He just disappeared. (Shhhh…Don’t tell Brad.) We looked and looked everywhere. We couldn’t figure out how he escaped and we couldn’t find him anywhere.

I gave a little shudder thinking of this hairy wormy creature roaming my house. For several days I would keep my eyes on the wall and the windowsills thinking I would find our lost caterpillar. I was a little creeped out and irritated. “We fed you, we gave you a nice house, we cleaned up after you, and you just disappear?! I even kept weeds in a baggy for you in my fridge!”

Bradley was a little bummed, but then he was just ready to go find a new one.

To this day he still hasn’t shown up.

Maybe he will be that pesky moth flying around the chandelier light while we are trying to have dinner. If that does happen, I hope I remember our little hairy creature before I smash him with a fly swatter. Because that annoying moth could be our little guy.

Note to self: Shoo moths out of the house nicely if there ever is one.

xxx

Where I’m From – Writer’s Workshop

WHERE I’M FROM

I am from friendship bracelets knotted and twisted from embroidery floss, jelly shoes and riding a ten speed when it was cool, from Nintendo, Mtv, and dial-up Internet .

I am from the hot summer days with freshly cut grass that sticks to the bottom of bare feet.

I am from stinky marigolds growing around the front porch steps, the streets lined with trees and painted mailboxes. 

I am from boating on the muddy Mississippi and boring parents who were home every night, from Linda and Jean and Lorraine.

I am from the dinner at the table every night at 5  and eat your vegetables.

From do your homework right when you get home from school and do your chores before you go out and play.

I am from sleeping in on Sundays and slumber parties, popcorn and movies, and of course, staying up late.

I’m from the heart of Illinois, Land of Lincoln, hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, corn on the cob and cantaloupe.

From the nights watching Grandma Linda get ready for Bingo and her fancy perfume, the searching for four-leaf clovers for luck, “Here, Grandma! I just found one for you!” From picking tomatoes and chasing lightning bugs on Grandma Jean’s farm, hot sticky days splashing in an old washbucket.

I am from a box of Polaroids and faded pictures on my parent’s back porch. Some scattered here, others scattered there, old pictures in frames sitting against the attic wall. The old ones tucked safely away, the new ones hanging on the living room wall, smiling grandkids around a Christmas tree.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I love where I’m from.
Mama’s Losin’ It

This post was from the amazing Mama Kat, I just love her site (link on the button above). I had so much fun doing this exercise. If you want to give it a try you can find the template here…and don’t forget to share your link!

Will SpongeBob Make Your Kids Stupid?

I was looking through the newspaper before work. The headline read, “Will SpongeBob make your kids stupid?” I laughed to myself, but I had to read the article. I LOVE SpongeBob. I would love to “live in a pineapple under the sea” and be his neighbor. I think I would name my pet snail Snuffles. SpongeBob and I could walk Gary and Snuffles together to go and visit Sandy, I have always wanted to check out that bubble thing she lives in… but I digress.

SpongeBob making our kids stupid? Oh, please. So I read on. The main points of the article that I read are based on a study published in Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and are as follows (and I am copying from the newspaper – The Dispatch’s Monday, September 12, 2011):

  • The study suggests that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4 year olds.
  • The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch “SpongeBob,” or the slower-paced PBS cartoon “Caillou” or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched “SpongeBob” did measurably worse than others.

I OBJECT!

I just had to laugh. I let Bradley, my kindergartener, watch “SpongeBob” before he went to school this morning; which, according to the study, is very bad for learning.

One part of the article says, “Parents should realize that young children are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching such shows. ‘I wouldn’t advise watching such shows on the way to school or any time they’re expected to pay attention and learn.”

That is just what we did. We haven’t had any problems.

So now we might alternate watching “SpongeBob,”  the Disney Channel, or PBS in the mornings before school. But most of the time SpongeBob rules.

We love SpongeBob in this house and he is staying on our tv. What about yours?

xxx

If you want to find out more about this study or opinions on it, just Google, “Will SpongeBob make your kids stupid?” and you will be bombarded by articles, blogs, and lots of opinions. It’s crazy.

A Sh*tty Morning

Saturday morning…

I shoved my foot in my shoe. “I really appreciate all your help this morning,” I said to Brad with a chuckle (Yes, I chuckled. It was for the sarcasm). “We make a great team.”

“I was sleeping,” he said.

***

It was a shitty morning, literally. My alarm went off and I hit the snooze button. The babies started crying in the other room. I wish they had a snooze button. I had already given them their bottles and there was nothing else to buy me ten more minutes in bed. So I dragged my butt out of bed.

I could smell it as soon as I walked into the hallway. It was so bad I was afraid to go in. I opened the door; Mallie was hanging on to the crib rails with red eyes from crying. She had brown smears on her cheeks. Her hands were covered in brown goo, and it wasn’t chocolate. Yes, my friends, it was poo.

“Oh crap!”

Collin stood next to her. “Ewww, Mum,” he held up his hand and was studying his fingers. He was covered in poo, too. He stood there with a bare butt and a diaper at his feet.

“I know, sweetie. Just don’t touch anything else. Stand still,” I said, trying to buy some time.

Elsie sat behind them. She was laughing and crying. She was covered in it also, but not as bad as the other two.

“Awww, shit,” I muttered to myself while simultaneously thinking, How am I going to get this all cleaned up?

I wish I could have seen the look on my face when I entered the room. My eyes must have been bulging and big as round as a toilet stool, which I wished the poo was in.

I ran downstairs. Brad was asleep on the couch.

“Wake up! There is shit everywhere,” I said. You could hear the kids fussing upstairs.

“I’m sleeping,” he mumbled and tried to roll over.

Nag mode set in.

“Brad, c’mon! Get up and help me. There are 3 kids up there in the crib covered in head to toe shit! Let’s double team this and get them in the tub.”

“You should have got up earlier,” he said.

Really?! You’re gonna blame me?

“You could have got up, too,” I bitched as I headed upstairs.

I looked at the clock. 6:55 a.m.

“I can’t be late for work,” I yelled over my shoulder. “And I still have to get in the shower.”

There was no time to waste. I wasn’t sure how I was going to conquer this mess, so I just dove in.

I grabbed Mallie first because she had the most crap on her. I reached for a blanket and stripped her down. There was poop on my arm. Ugh! I know I’m not going to stay clean with this job.

First off, get the crap off her face, so disgusting. And the only thing I kept worrying about is e-coli and whatever else a horrible mess like this might bring. I scrubbed hands, fingernails, toes, and everything in between.

The water was running, I didn’t want to wash her with shitty bath water, so I just let the water run and go down the drain. She was still crying and mad. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes with red rings around them and a little tear.

Finally I remembered this was probably scary for her; your mom races in, yanks you out of bed and throws you in the tub first thing in the morning.

“It’s okay, baby,” I say to her, remembering I should talk to her and sooth her. It’s not like rushing to get the dishes done, for crying out loud.

I can still hear Collin in the room, “Mum. Mum. Ewww, Mum. Ewww.”

I wrapped Mallie in a towel and delivered her to her dad. “I have two more to go,” I said and ran back upstairs. I guess I had given up on him coming upstairs to help. The least he could do is take care of them after I clean ’em up.

Elsie next. The smell was so gross. Washing off caked and smeared on poop that is starting to dry is one of the hardest thing to get clean, as most moms know, because a mess like this usually happens at least once during the baby stages… and moms always seem to get the dirty jobs. Oh, well. We get the best jobs, too, like carrying them, nursing them…

I ran the game plan in my head over and over again at a hundred miles an hour. Collin next, clean the crib. Where’s the disinfectant? Rinse the clothes, stain stick and get them in the washer. Throw me in the shower. I’ll probably have to re-stainstick the clothes when I get home.

I wrapped Elsie in a towel, tucked her under my arm like a football, and ran downstairs for the pass. Brad was still laying on the couch with Mallie in a towel. Really?! I hope she pees on you, I thought.

“C’mon! Here’s the other one. Just help me!” I stood there dumbfounded, looking for an open spot in his arms to tuck her in and take off. I’m in a hurry here.

“I can’t hold them both,” he said.

“All you have to do is get them dressed!” I sat Elsie on the floor and ran back upstairs for the next poopy monster.

Just let me get this done!

I felt guilty for leaving Elsie on the floor crying. But I had another covered in shit upstairs, and besides, her dad was right there.

Priorities. Get the shit cleaned up first. I ran to get Collin clean.

“Arms up,” I flipped the shirt up over his head.

“Eww, Mum. Eww,” is all Collin could say.

 I pictured the clock in my head, must be at least 7:20. I just may make it to work on time. I was getting good at this…and super fast. I threw Collin in the tub and scrubbed.

Ugh! How did all of this happen? What a shitty morning.

I am assuming sometime after I made the twins’ bottles Collin got up and snuck quietly out of his room. I can tell by the path of destruction that he was at the bookshelf, I had to step over “The Joy Luck Club” and an old Stephen King paperback when I was in the hallway. Then he must have went into the girls’ room and decided to hop in the crib and play with them. He was probably jumping in the crib, which he gets in trouble for… even though it is funny because the girls bounce around and laugh their pretty little heads off. I’m assuming that when he was jumping with a full morning diaper that it  was so heavy it just fell off.

The rest is the mess from there.

I made it to work on time…with a few minutes to spare!

Damn, I’m good. And it’s a good thing they are so darn cute!

Even though it is darn near impossible to get a good picture of all of them together. Next time I will bribe them with marshmallows.

xxx

p.s. See what motherhood does to you? I can write a whole blog post about cleaning up shit. I really need to get out a little bit.