Thursday, March 31, 2011

Celebrity

My child is destined for stardom. She will rule the world someday, thanks to her heart-melting grin and captivating blue eyes. People stop me regularly to comment on her cute voice, her shining smile, or her entertaining personality.

And recently? We were greeted by celebrities who couldn't wait to meet her.

We were having a nice family dinner, on vacation in sunny Florida. Within sheer moments of our arrival, the first world-famous celebrity appeared by Amelia's chair. Always one to please her fans, she immediately gave him a hug.

Throughout our dinner, more celebrities stopped by to say hello. And before we left? We met one of the most beloved actors in the entire world. And he wanted a photo with Amelia! No question, it was a dinner to remember.

And yeah... my girl is superstar.




(Chef Mickey's restaurant, Walt Disney World)




Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

First Day

In the Autumn of 1983, a five-year old me entered Kindergarten. My father parked the red Chevy Caprice Classic along the curb of the steep hill adjacent to school. My sister and I clambered out of the car after saying our quick goodbyes to Daddy. He was headed to work at the chemical plant; my big sister was in charge of leading me by the hand to Mrs. D’s kindergarten class. With my left hand in her right and our homemade corduroy book bags slung over the opposite shoulders, we crossed the threshold into our first day of the school year.

My young heart skipped a beat. Where many in my place were nervous, I was brimming with excitement. My sister was in my place this time last year. I knew the school, I knew the teacher. I had nothing to fear. But as I looked into the expectant eyes of the teacher and that comforting grip on my hand began to loosen, my confidence waned.

I could not hear the cheerful welcome from Mrs. D.

My heart, giddy only moments before, fell into the pit of my stomach.

I felt the last, light brush of my sister’s fingertips and she pulled away. I watched her bounce down the tile, cinder-block walled hallway and around the corner towards the first grade classroom. My brown eyes began to fill with tears.

A touch on my shoulder jolted me back to reality. I finally heard her voice.

“Good morning, Julie! It is so nice to have you today.”

I glanced briefly at Mrs. D. Her eyes sparkled with kindness, her smile was warm. My eyes scanned the room, quickly taking inventory of the colorful posters, the plethora of books, the green chalkboard exclaiming, “Welcome to kindergarten!” in the unmistakable hand of a teacher. I inspected the wooden easel, splattered with years of drips from classes past. Kindergarten looked okay… but I still wasn’t sure. I felt small, alone. I longed for the comforting grasp of my sibling’s hand.

Then I saw her - my best friend. The one person I knew so well. She was happily chatting with girls we knew from church while her hands rhythmically slid the red beads on the abacus back and forth. She looked up, she grinned at me. My heart skipped a beat once again.

This was going to be a great year.


       
This is my first submission to the Red Dress Club! Please comment and let me know what you think.

Is her thumb green?

I admit it.

I am terrible with plants.

Every single houseplant I have owned suffered an unfortunate (and premature) demise. Same story with outdoor flowers. But will I give up? No! We planted more flowers this weekend. Amelia was very exited to help. I am hoping she has a much greener thumb than I do. If so, maybe these new flowers have a chance at a full season of life.

Wish us luck!



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strength

Today is a very exciting day! My sister-in-law, paralyzed from a frightening fall in early July, is returning to Atlanta to participate in additional rehabilitation. She has come a long, long way since her accident and extensive spinal surgery, but there is much more available to learn from a team of true experts.

Rehab is not easy, and the Shepherd Center day program is like Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island (minus the yelling, humidity, and bugs eating you alive). It will be tough but absolutely worth it.

We are SO PROUD of her for making the decision to return.

We are inspired by her fighting spirit.

My lovely sister-in-law, this one is for you!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beautiful Princess

The clip-clop, clip-clop of plastic princess shoes is a never-ending sound in our home during daylight hours. Princess fever has hit at full force. Jeans? Pants? Things of the past. Our little queen-in-waiting requires skirts and dresses now, often with a fluffy and sparkly tulle skirt to complete the ensemble.

With Amelia's birthday fast approaching, this was the perfect time to browse the lovely princess costumes from CostumeDiscounters.com. I selected the Rose Princess Costume for Toddler. It met all of my discerning princess' criteria:
  • It is pink 
  • It is frilly
  • It comes with a shiny crown

 Do you know what else? It has built-in LED lights on the skirt! She was instantly transformed from a regular pink princess into twinkling royalty with a press of a button.

(Photo from website - apparently, my princess does not allow photographs.)

Shipping was very fast, and the quality is nicer than you would see in the big box discount stores. Plus, you don't have to wait until Halloween!
Need an Easter Bunny for an upcoming school or church event? Want some memorable Easter photos of your kids in bunny ears? Costume Discounters has several costumes to choose from. Super heroes, movie characters, animals... even sexy costumes for grown-up masquerades. Most everything you can think of, in all sizes.
Dress-up play is great for the imagination. Surprise your little Superman or Snow White with a new costume today!



Note: I received the Rose Princess Costume at no charge for the purpose of this review. Costume Discounters had no input in this review. All opinions are solely mine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiction Friday: She replied!

I can't have a Fiction Friday without a dedication to one of my favorite children's authors, Judy Blume. I wrote a post back in October about my little brush with this famous icon:

OCTOBER 24th, 2010

A Favorite Email

Do you have childhood books you remember vividly?

Do you remember these?

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My heart broke for Ramona Quimby when she misunderstood a school fad and cracked a raw, gooey egg over her head. And when she overheard her teacher calling her a "showoff" and a "nuisance". And as she fought off pestering from Yard Ape. I identified with Margaret's desire to grow up and away from her life as an "underdeveloped little kid". These girls were so... real.

Several years ago, I read a grown-up Judy Blume book titled Summer Sisters. I liked it. I visited her website to see if she had any others, and came upon her email address. A real, live email address for this writing icon. I just had  to email her - Judy Blume!

So I emailed one of my writing heroes. I told her how much I enjoyed her new book and explained that my childhood years would have been missing something if she hadn't written about Ramona, Beezus, Margaret, and Superfudge.

Guess what? She wrote me back!

Dear Julie,

Thanks so much for your warm note. I'm touched by your feelings about Summer Sisters and how well you remember my other books. Wish there were time for a longer, more thoughtful response, but I'm overwhelmed right now and trying (desperately!) to find the quiet time necessary to write. Hope you understand. Readers like you have made my career and I can never thank you enough.

Come back and visit my website again. Hope to get some new info up soon.

Love,
Judy

I've saved this email ever since. This was before Twitter, before social media, before most blogs. Actually interacting with a famous author was a very special treat for me.
 
I wonder what parts of Amelia's childhood will stick with her? She is already a bookworm, I wonder what books will forever remain a piece of her childhood? Which characters will she identify with?
 
I'd like to keep my girl little forever, but watching her grow up will be mesmerizing.

I wonder who she will be?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Verse x3

April is almost upon us. A month where spring arrives in full bloom, golfers gather for the Masters, and my baby girl turns another year older. April is also national poetry month! In honor of the occasion (and frankly, because I am short on blogging time this week), I crafted short poems in three different styles.

Can you guess the type of poem for each?
(Answers below!)

Ants scurry to build their homes,
Bees flutter from flower to flower,
Caterpillars crawl up the bark of a tree,
Day lilies begin to peek from the earth.
In the warmth of spring, hope drives life.


Memories and hope,
Where we turn when times are rough,
To mend our pained hearts.



If I had one wish for you,
It would be for you to be,
Happy and healthy and wise,
But still little girl to me.

What were those? In case you were wondering...

(1) ABC - A poem that has five lines that create a mood, picture, or feeling. Lines 1 through 4 are made up of words, phrases or clauses while the first word of each line is in alphabetical order. Line 5 is one sentence long and begins with any letter.

(2) Haiku - A Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five (syllables).

(3) Quatrain - A stanza or poem consisting of four lines. Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme while having a similar number of syllables. 
(source: PoetryOfQuotes.com)


Mama’s Losin’ It 
Prompt #2: April is national poetry month...Write a poem about hope.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Quack

Sunday afternoon. Took a walk with our (self-dressed) little girl. Brought some bread along to feed the neighborhood ducks and one greedy goose.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So afraid

Sometimes I feel paralyzed with fear. With every tantrum, every expression of anger, every meltdown I see from my child, I worry. I worry that she is not normal. That she is somehow more angry than other 3-year olds in this world. I am terrified that I am not raising her right. That I am going to create a little monster who ends up to be a teenage terror.

I am afraid of her tantrums. Timeout is a punishment for me as much as it is for her - my heart races, my stress level goes through the roof. I cannot stand forcing her into her room, then running to close the gate before she prys herself free. The sound of her screaming and calling "mommy! mooooommy!" really hurts.

More than anything in this world, I want a well-adjusted, happy child. I know she will act up at times. I know she's in a stage where the world completely revolves around her wishes. But I can't stop the fear. Is she worse than other kids her age? Am I doing something totally wrong? My mommy confidence is in tatters.

I try to find that fine line between respecting her wishes and standing my ground as THE MOM. I know I need to be more consistent with her punishments. I have to change myself before I can help her leap the hurdle of this age. That's what Nanny 911 is all about, right? She never changes the kids - she changes the parenting.

We conquered the terrible twos a few months ago. It sounds like threes are going to be just as challenging.

Wish us luck (and thanks for sticking through this rambling post).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Senses

We walk, hand-in-hand, into the store.

Amelia, sniffing the air: "Mmm, it smells good in here!"

Me, smiling: "Well, that is the smell of new, clean shoes. This is a shoe store."

Amelia sniffs again: "I like this store. It smells good."

Me: "I'm glad, sweetie. Let's find you some flip-flops"

A few minutes later...
Amelia: "Mommy? I have a question. Will my feet smell better if I buy shoes here?"


The sense of smell is most closely connected to memory. The scent of fresh pine may bring you immediately to a pre-Christmas memory on the tree lot. Your grandmother's perfume can remind you of a time when you were enveloped in her hugs. And perhaps years from now, the smell of a shoe store will make my daughter think of a day she enjoyed a weekday morning shopping trip. A time when she still held my hand.

Her endearing commentary got me thinking. What sensory experiences remind me of childhood?

The scent of fabric softener. Open the linen closet in my childhood home, and you smell it. Clean, freshly-scented sheets and towels give me a sense of calm, a sense of comfort at home. A first night in newly-laundered sheets? To me, it's divine.

The strong odor of chlorine. We had a swimming pool for most of my childhood. My sister and I spent hours on end in the water each summer. For many years, we used those round white chlorine tablets in the filter system. I don't see those around much anymore, but I can distinctly remember that smell. If you handed me one today, I would be transported to our pool in Tennessee, my sister and I running around the circular edge to make a whirlpool. Swimming at night. Spreading the solar cover across the water, anxiously awaiting tomorrow's dip.

 And what about other senses? My husband sighs whenever he hears the distinct sound of an aluminum bat on a baseball. That ding (donk?) brings him back to Little League.


For me, it's the buzzing of cicadas in the summer. That ever-present sound was always there, waiting for us, during our annual family beach vacation. They remind me that the weather is hot and the sun is doing its job.


And touch? A worn, handmade blanket. I am a 32-year old mommy with a quilt I adore. Handmade at least a decade ago by my (now 99-year-old) grandma with cool and colorful materials, it is something I love to touch. It is the kind of blanket you can throw over your legs no matter the season; it is never too warm. I brought it with me to the hospital and used it the days following Amelia's birth. It came with me to another hospital, to provide that home touch as I recovered from a surgery. The materials are worn and thin, but I can't bear to give it up. It screams cozy even on my most stressful days.

Think about your senses. What sounds, smells, feels, sights, or tastes bring you back to happy memories? What sensory experiences are our sweet children going to hold dear one day?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Announcement! And some thoughts.

I have tried really hard not to be that mom on Facebook. I post about Amelia most of the time, but I think I've done a pretty good job leaving out some of the details that others may just not want to know. Not all my friends are parents, and who wants to read about poop over breakfast, anyway? 

But, I am one proud and excited mommy tonight, and I have to share somewhere. Thank goodness I have a blog! 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I declare Amelia
POTTY TRAINED!


We've had several days now with no accidents! She has even tackled her... fear?... embarassment?...plain old obstinance?... regarding the dreaded "number two". Finally, no more hiding behind the curtains!

Moms, there are many issues that cause debate among us. Some bring the claws out more than others. But potty training? Is at a whole other level. Not a lot of outward debate... more like quiet smugness. I don't know how many times I let sly sugar-coated comments (bragging) discourage me. As parents, we're expected to be proud of our kids. Finally realizing your kid is potty trained? That's a big one. But what we all need to keep in mind: every single child is different. Your methods may have performed magic on your 19-month old, but that doesn't mean they will work for your nephew. Or for your neighbor's kid. Or for the strong-willed child halfway to her fourth birthday. 

Potty training can be frustrating, and it can take a long time. Moms, try not to fall into that trap of comparing your child to others. Try not to get discouraged when you're cleaning up the sixth accident in seven hours (yes, easier said than done). Listen to the hordes of unsolicited advice you will get, but do what works for you and toss out the rest. 

And if you get tired of feeling left behind? Then come up with some sassy responses to the braggarts out there. Watch sassy mom's face as you tell her you have a clinical obsession with diapers and can't bear to see them go. Or that the latest research shows the brilliant children aren't trained until a much older age.

You kid will figure it out, so why not laugh a little bit?



Friday, March 18, 2011

Fiction Friday: Laughing Stars

It has been an emotional week. A dear mom friend of mine has been strugging with a serious heart condition and a difficult pregnancy. On Monday morning, she learned that her unborn son (30 weeks) no longer had a heartbeat. They expected to meet him soon, likely inducing labor as soon as she reached 34 weeks. Instead, her little angel was delivered last night. Today, they are grieving and planning a funeral.

For today's Fiction Friday, I am turning to a book that is dear to my heart. I've read it both in the English language and in French during my school years. It is a sweet and thoughtful little story, and this excerpt makes me think of my friend. She will ache because she can't hold him in her arms, but she will see him in the stars.

Now she has her very own star that laughs.

The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

(Excerpt from chapter 26)
"Dear little man," I said to him, "you are afraid..."

He was afraid, there was no doubt about that. But he laughed lightly.


"I shall be much more afraid this evening..."

Once again I felt myself frozen by the sense of something irreparable. And I knew that I could not bear the thought of never hearing that laughter any more. For me, it was like a spring of fresh water in the desert.

"Little man," I said, "I want to hear you laugh again."

But he said to me:
"Tonight, it will be a year... my star, then, can be found right above the place where I came to the Earth, a year ago..."

"Little man," I said, "tell me that it is only a bad dream-- this affair of the snake, and the meeting-place, and the star..."

But he did not answer my plea. He said to me, instead: "The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen..."

"Yes, I know..."

"It is just as it is with the flower. If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers..."

"Yes, I know..."

"It is just as it is with the water. Because of the pulley, and the rope, what you gave me to drink was like music. You remember-- how good it was."

"Yes, I know..."

"And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens... they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present..."

He laughed again.

"Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!"

"That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water..."

"What are you trying to say?"

"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You-- you alone-- will have the stars as no one else has them--"

"What are you trying to say?"

"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you-- only you-- will have stars that can laugh!"

And he laughed again.

"And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A love story

He wasn't what you would call handsome. His head was too big, a bit too round. His ears were large. He had an odd fashion sense, always seen sporting red and blue overalls (minus the straps) straight from a country farm. And he was perpetually dirty.

I was just a little kid from Tennessee. I did not care about his clothes. I overlooked his bulky head and his desperate need for a bubble bath.

I loved him.

I loved him because he was the strong silent type. Always ready to listen and never one to talk back. If I needed a hug, he was there. If I wanted to play pretend, he was there. He was an ever-present friend in my childhood years.
I was in love with... a monkey.


His name, one you might guess from a 4-year old mind, was Monk.

Monk was my trusted and true friend. He traveled everywhere I did and racked up a ton of miles on those fuzzy little legs.

Monk is the one childhood item I could not bear to leave. Yes, he has been tied up in a white plastic bag on a top shelf in the closet, but he is still here. He survived the transition into my grown-up home.

We had a long-awaited reunion last night.

World, meet Monk. He's still funny-looking. He's still dirty.

And he is awesome.




Another post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!
(Prompt: A love story)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Tooth

Sweet girl with a sweet tooth (like mama, like daughter!)






Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nine years ago...


St. Patrick's Day is almost upon us. I have never celebrated in Savannah, Chicago, or any other city with green rivers and green beer. I barely even remember to wear green.


But one March 17th, many years ago, is one I will never forget... and it has absolutely nothing to do with St. Patty's day.

Nine years ago, I said yes. On March 17th, 2002, I became a fiancee. Steve surprised me with a creative and thoughtful proposal, asking me to become his wife.

We spent two days at Disney World in Orlando. The first evening we were on our own, enjoying the sights and watching the Epcot night show. The following day, Steve's family met us at The Magic Kingdom for another magical day. I was hoping for a proposal, but the time came to leave and I was still without a ring. So I let the wish pass... again.

On the drive back to Atlanta, we had plans to eat dinner with a friend. On our way there, Steve wanted to stop by the beach. We drove onto the sand and took a brief walk along the ocean. As I paused to wipe my feet with a towel, Steve approached me with an object in his hand. Looking closer, I noticed it was a bottle. A bottle with a message inside.

Steve urged me to read the message. At first I argued, thinking it was a silly souvenir or some kind of "candid camera" joke. But he convinced me to read it. As I skimmed the parchment-like paper, recognition began to dawn on me. This poem, a tale of a young woman and man, sounded awfully familiar. And sure enough, it was a poem about us. About our date at a pizza parlor, our 3-year relationship, and finally, about our future. It took but a moment to realize what the poem meant. I looked over at Steve, down on a knee in the sand.

"Are you kidding me?!?", I exclaimed in astonishment.

He asked me to make a promise. A promise to become his wife. A promise to live my life next to him. To eventually become the mother of his children.

Obviously, I said YES!

As we left the beach, I was already making plans for a weekend away. I was disheartened that we were only a few hours away from our apartments with work looming the next morning. I wanted to stop time and enjoy my engagement moment. As we drove towards Steve's friends' house (or so I was told), I saw interesting signs. Signs for Amelia Island. We crossed a bridge. Signs for the Ritz Carlton. We turned towards those signs every time. We weren't headed towards Jacksonville! I looked to the driver's seat and noticed a distinct grin on Steve's face. We weren't going home! He had one more night of vacation planned for us. He had already cleared the extra day off work with my boss. He had already made dinner reservations. He already packed my swimsuit to make sure we could relax in the pool and hot tub that evening. This man knew me so well, and he wasn't going to deny me an extended break from reality to soak in the idea that I was getting married!

Thus, our official story began. We married 10-1/2 months later. Now we've been married for eight years. He's still my best friend. And our favorite little girl is about to turn three.

I'm a lucky girl.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fit for a princess

Amelia turns three in a few short weeks. Three years old! That is hard to believe. But, I have plenty of time to brood and sulk in future posts. This one is super exciting for me. I finally get to reveal Amelia's big girl bedroom!

Here are our "before" shots: This is Amelia waking up on the last morning of her baby room.

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The theme was frogs, and her walls are a light sage green and white. Daddy put up the chair rail and painted everything, including the adorable custom cattails to match her bedding.

I was on a mission to find bedding that would increase the girly factor but still allow us to keep the wall colors and Daddy's special cattails. Do you know how difficult it is to find girly bedding with frogs?!?

Here she is, celebrating her new big girl bed - before Mommy found anything to put on it.

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But thanks to countless Internet searches and finally JCPenney.com, I found the perfect bedding set! Bright girly colors, frogs, and butterflies. And a sale price too. Woooo hoo! Check out my princess' lovely new boudoir:

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"Mommy! I very, very like it!"

Now, some details:

I found the sheer flowy pink and white curtains at WalMart. These may be Amelia's favorite part of the room. She loves to touch them and ooh and ahh at their silky feel.

The wall decor is 90% mine. I purchased plain, inexpensive white frames, a pack of coordinating scrappbook paper, and some stickers. Voila! We have feature wall art for above the bed:

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Similar idea for the other wall, except I used tissue paper and photos of Amelia. This was up in her nursery also, I just changed out the paper areas with her new colors.

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Most moms of little girls probably have more hairbows than they can deal with. I love the rainbow effect of multiple hairbows, so I made my own hairbow hangers. I purchased dragonfly and frog pre-painted wood pieces from the Michael's craft store, Attached some ribbon with craft glue, and clipped on the hairbows. It looks adorable on her wall!

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Finally, I accented some existing wall features with stick-on mirror butterflies and pink star-shaped flowers (found on clearance at Target!) to pull in the butterfly theme. While at Target, I happened to notice some new ecclectic bug and butterfly frames and picked up two of those to fancy up her dresser:

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We love, love, love the transformation. I'm by no means a Martha Stewart (or my amazingly creative friend, Cheryl), but I had a LOT of fun with it. Yay, for Amelia's room growing up!

Amelia growing up? Hmm... that's an entirely different feeling.

Can't we all just get along?

The Take The Pledge Campaign

I am joining scores of mom bloggers around the country who are taking The Mom Pledge. If you are a mom, you've undoubtedly had contact with a mom-bully. The kind of mom who thinks only her way is right. The kind who argues and chastises other moms who do things differently.

Epidural? Didn't breastfeed? Didn't participate in babywearing? Vaccinate? Don't vaccinate? Have your child front-facing or extending rear-facing? Television or no television? No matter what your methods, I respect that you make the best possible decisions for your own unique family. I did things my way, and I will let you do the same, respectfully.

Here's the pledge:

The Mom Pledge
  • I am a proud Mommy Blogger. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my blogging activities. I can lead by example. 
  • I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, "right" way to be a good Mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family. 
  • I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind. 
  • I stand up against online bullying. My blog is my space. I will not tolerate comments that are rude, condescending or disrespectful. 
  • I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks from my blog with no mention or response. I can take control. 
  • I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior. 
  • I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference.

 Do you want to take The Mom Pledge? Visit http://www.themompledgeblog.com/ to learn more!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Introducing Fiction Friday



Today, I'm excited - and nervous - to share a piece of my own original fiction.
--------------

RUNAWAY

As the sun rises slowly above the horizon, she stirs. The sounds of the outside world drift to her ears. She hears the drone of car engines, the sounds of squeaking brakes, the wind blowing through a nearby patch of trees. She hears the world going by without her.

She sits up, brushes off her grimy blankets. She is not cold this morning, happy that spring is on the way. As she tries to run her fingers through her matted hair, she reflects on her day ahead. How slowly will the hours pass? Will the kindness of a stranger allow her to quiet her hungry stomach?

As the sun lifts higher in the morning sky, the traffic thickens on the roads. It is time to get moving… about nineteen more miles, if she remembers correctly. It is time to hold her head up high. It is time to give in to that glimmer of hope. Perhaps today will finally bring the miracle she so desperately needs.

She is taking a risk today. Bringing only what fits in her battered backpack and leaving the rest, hoping that she will not need these grungy things anymore. That, come tonight, she will have washed the harshness of the past two years from her hair, her body, and her heart. She has been traveling for nearly two weeks, but her long journey began in what feels like another lifetime.

She knows she screwed up. Her heart is burdened each day with guilt for the hurt she caused. Her tears have fallen night after night since she realized what she had done. She is thankful for the priest who cared enough to sit and talk with her. Who fed her when she was hungry. And who directed her to the clinic where she could finally free herself from the demons of addiction. She has put a lot of miles on her tired feet lately, but today she walks with an extra spring in her step. She is walking towards the hope of forgiveness, the promise of love, the comfort of home.

At the end of the long day, as the sun begins to sink again towards the horizon, she reaches the neighborhood she once knew so well. Her heart is pounding and her hands begin to shake. There is no turning back now. Turning back, she knows, would lead to disaster. This is where she should be. This is the place she never should have left. Never again will she take for granted the tangible love that resides in the house up ahead.

With a repentant heart and a trembling finger, she presses the doorbell. She hears the faint tune of the chime inside the home. She waits, staring down at her thin body. A sound at the door makes her look up. The lock clicks and the door is opened.

The older woman’s look of confusion is instantly washed over with astonishment as recognition dawns upon her.

“Mom…”, whispers the younger woman, “Mom… I’m home.”

A gasp, and the mother drops to her knees. The daughter drops down to her, they embrace. Tears flow freely. Healing tears, the kind that will begin to wash away the dirt of the past. As they cry and stare in wonder at each other, mother and daughter cautiously open the doors to a brand new day.

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