Sock Surprise

She’s already ten minutes late; the bus is gone.

“Let me grab socks,” I say, unfolding a pair. I look at one purple sock and one green. “Did you do this?”

A small hand stifles her giggle. “Surprise!” She shouts.

“Not again,” I sigh. “Guess you need a new chore.”

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The War Was Over – A Micro Challenge

The War was over.

After deliberation, a patterned cotton dress was chosen to wear. Blond curls were begrudgingly folded into place and complaints were made against the necessity of clean teeth.

In the end, we hugged. I straightened her backpack and she boarded the bus joyfully.

Su-Su-Summer Time

Yes!

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be happier: warm weather.  And with warm weather comes summer.  And with summer comes barbeques, short shorts, cold drinks, crystal clear pools, shady umbrellas, bottles upon bottles of sunblock, and laughter.

So.Much.Laughter.

I’ve always enjoyed the sticky days that summer is known for.  Growing up, I’d spend it laying out on my parent’s back deck, with my mom and sister, while listening to Kiss FM on my battery operated boom box.  The scorching deck would blister a bare foot, so we kept flip-flops at the ready; only going barefoot on the fiery wood as we danced our way from the rubbery fold-out chairs to the refreshing pool.  My mom would happily watch my sister and I as we splashed around in the pool, goofing off, making whirlpools, playing Marco-Polo and attempting underwater headstands. She only jumped in occasionally to cool off, and spent most of the day slathering on fresh coats of tanning lotion and relaxing as she glistened in the sun.

I can still smell her Hawaiian Tropic SPF 5, if I close my eyes.

It’s been four summers since she passed away, but I still remember every detail about those days.  She would lay there, smoking her cigarettes and painting her nails a bright shade of red.  She was a bronze goddess, effortlessly gorgeous with long dark hair, a thin curvy waist, and her favorite black bikini.

I wanted to be just like her.

And I tried to be.  I would soak up the sun’s hot rays after drenching my pale body in tanning lotion and saturating my hair with lemon-scented Sun-in.  But instead of being sun-kissed, I ended up with burnt, painful skin and orange hair, year after year.

I didn’t care, because I was happy.

During my twenties I rarely saw water during the summer, but instead I would spend warm days at baseball games with my husband, rooting for the Tigers.  We would sip frosty beers and munch on Hebrew National hotdogs as we baked, shoulder to shoulder, under the rays of the July sun.  The smell of buttery popcorn would fill our noses, making us crave the salty treat.  If the Tigers were away, we would day-drink limey vodka gimlets at outdoor bars with friends.  We’d laugh and talk as jazzy house music filled the air. We had no real responsibilities, no kids and no cares in the world.

Life was good.

Today, again, summers are different. Summer days are now spent chasing little ones at the wading pool with big beach hats and SPF 50. Or at the beach, sweaty and covered in sand. At home, we spend breezy afternoons on the swing, finding shapes in the clouds, coloring with sidewalk chalk on the blacktop, or sharing drippy popsicles that leave our fingers sweet and sticky.  My husband and I spend cool nights on the back deck with glasses of crisp white wine as we watch the fireflies blink, and hear the crickets sing.

These summer days are my favorite, so far.  They make me reflect on where I came from, what I’ve gone through and what kind of woman I have become. They make me appreciate the past, while staying present, and also looking forward to what the future may hold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go pour myself a glass of Pinot Grigio and listen to the crickets.

Summer is awesome.

Photo courtesy of  Ann Demianenko at Unsplash.

This week I revamped an old piece that you can find here.  Hope you like my changes!

 

Journey to a Magical Place

I watched my daughter, young and slender with a head full of short blond waves, staring out the kitchen window at the falling rain.  I could see the boredom in her blue-green eyes, reflected against the window pane and my heart ached.  La Nina left its dingy mark on my tiny town for nearly thirty days, making her toys begin to fade from bright colors to pastels.  Her happy dolls were now depressed.  Her Legos preferred to be in a puddle, rather than built into magnificent structures.

I walked over to my daughter and gently placed my hand on hers.  She looked up to me and smiled brightly.

“Hey, Momma.  Whatcha doin’?”

“Hey, Sweetie.  I was actually just thinking that we need a little adventure.  What do you think?”  Her smile spread even farther, reaching her ears.

“What kind of adventure?” She raised up onto the very top of her tippy-toes, getting as tall as she could manage.

“Well…” I said, thinking for a moment, “I think we should go on a surprise journey to a truly magical place.”  She clasped her hands in front of her freckled face and jumped in excitement.

“Let’s do it!”

We quickly loaded into the van, trying to stay dry by running between the drops.  Our seatbelts clicked as we harnessed ourselves in securely, ready to embark on our rainy-day excursion.

“So where are we going, Momma?”

“Well, let’s see,” I looked at her eager face in the rearview, “the place we are going can set you free from reality, like leaving this rainy day behind.  You can let your ideas can run wild, taking whatever shape your mind will allow.  You can visit far away cities, countries, or even planets.  Then, magically, it can bring you back to Earth when you’ve been traveling in the cosmic, dark blue space for far too long.  It can help you learn to dance, cook, and knit.  It can offer you new and magnificent ideas as well as ones you’ve heard time and again.”

“Tell me more!”

“Okay, sure.  The place we are going brings hope and love in times of depression.  It gives us power at our weakest hour and supports us when we think we’ve got no one on our side.  At this place, you can be a superhero, a doctor, a racecar driver or maybe even a rock star! It’s a splendid place of fairytale, a marvelous place of modernity and a noble place of history.”

As we pull into the cement slab parking lot and look up at the building made simply of red brick and grey mortar, I am reminded of many days spent at a place like this, as a kid.

“The library!”  Excitement spilled over each syllable as my daughter kicked her feet in delight.  “Yay!”

As a child, I loved going to the library with my mom.  It was an old building made of stone, reminiscent of a castle or old church with cathedral ceilings and oversized arched windows filled with stained glass.  Inside was quiet and smelled of forgotten paper, pinched together between bindings, and filled with the promise of joy.  It was my favorite place; I always chose to borrow books from series like Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, or anything R.L. Stine (to this day, I love a good thriller).

This library was much newer, round in shape and filled with maple wood trim, but still it had that same papery smell I remembered.  I could envision my mom picking and choosing her newest novel from the recent returns, right by the librarian.  She liked to find gems there.  I could hear the beep of the beige boxy computer as it checked out each book to a new renter, eager to learn something new, or dig into an old favorite.

I brought my eyes back to my kid, today, now rummaging through the hard-bound children’s section. Taking her time, she read titles and carefully decided on several that she liked.   She walked through the aisles of paperbound treasures filled with bedtime stories, yet to be read, and lightly touched a few familiar titles.  Slowly, she gathered even more books to borrow.

By the end, her chosen stack of Star Wars and princess themed books almost reached her eyes, which were gleaming with excitement.  My daughter walked up, plopped her stack of books onto the check-out counter, and offered me her biggest grin.  The trip to the library had turned her undeniable boredom into an opportunity for exploration.  I patted her gently on the head, hoping that one day she’d remember the papery smell, the beep at the check-out counter and the feeling of time spent with me on our journey to this magical place.

“Let’s go, Momma!” she said excitedly.  “I have some adventures to begin!”

Photo Courtesy of Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

One Little Birdie

It was an ordinary spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers. My window was down and my short, dark hair was snapping back and forth, lightly stinging my freckled cheeks. Tortoise colored sunglasses covered half my face and kept the sun’s rays from reaching my blue eyes and the smile on my face touched my ears; a sign that all was right and beautiful in the world.

The black leather on my minivan’s seat was getting just enough sun to be warm to the touch, radiating heat onto my bare shoulders. It reminded me of the sticky humidity that comes with summer. My girls, one and five, were giggling happily as I sang along to the 90’s hip-hop song drifting from the speakers.

I knew each word with precision, of course.

I signaled to switch lanes, cautious that I was clear, and checked my blind spot. As I turned my head back to facing front, a small, shiny Civic darted across three lanes like a silver bullet and cut my black swagger wagon off.

On instinct, I gasped, whaled on my horn, and slammed on my brakes sending freshly bought produce sailing through my vehicle, now coming to an abrupt stop. A bottle of delicious red wine rolled all the way to the console, still wearing the white plastic bag and somehow brand new baby wipes ended up in my lap.

My eye’s rushed up to the rear-view and thankfully my girls were still smiling. “Are you alright?” I asked Reagan.

“Yep,” Reagan answered. They barely even noticed. Knowing we were fine and dandy with all limbs in tact, the New-York-angry-driver in me took over.

I cautiously pulled my black-on-black Dodge next to the Civic and offered my biggest grin to the driver, a girl wearing obnoxiously massive hoop earrings. This woman and her stupid choice could have easily turned my good day sideways, but thankfully she didn’t.

I passed her and, still providing a full smile, I gave that idiot the bird.

Reagan saw my finger and asked, “was that the sign language for ‘no’, Momma?”  Her voice pure and sweet with innocence.

I laughed and responded, “it was something like that.”

It was still an ordinary Spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers.

By the grace of something greater, all was still right in the world.

Photo courtesy of Lily Lvnatikk on StockSnap.io

Shades of Color

Blue for boys, pink for girls, and toys in separate aisles.  “I want this one, Mommy,” she says, “but they will make fun of me.”

“A toy is just a toy,” I tell her.  “Get that Stormtrooper.”

Sometimes we should be purple.

The Day I Snapped.

I can remember the day like it was only just yesterday.

I was sitting on my white couch, dirtied with muddy paw prints, baby spit-up and something neon pink, which I couldn’t quite decipher.  My head was clouded from lack of sleep and I hadn’t showered in what seemed like days.  My oldest daughter wanted to build puzzles and her frustration was growing with each passing moment because her new baby sister, a.k.a. the screaming thing, wouldn’t give her two minutes of alone time with me.  The dogs were barking, but not just the normal kind of bark.

No.

It was the ear-piercing, cringe-causing kind that makes a person want to shout or rip her unwashed hair out.

Maybe both.

There were piles of dirty dishes spilling over the sink and onto the un-wiped counters and I was drowning in loads laundry, yet to be done.  There were boxes that needed to be packed.  A house that needed to be listed and a five-year-old’s birthday to be planned.  There was so much to do, but not enough time and I couldn’t stand looking at those walls for one more second.

I had vomit on my shoulder, yoga pants that were stretched out in the knees from wearing them so long and two mismatched socks.  I didn’t care.  I pulled my ratty, unbrushed hair back, hoping that would hide some of the stink because I needed to get out of there. Without using my better judgement, or rather any judgement, I packed up the kids and headed to where else, but my favorite store with a big red bulls-eye!

Of course while we were shopping, my new baby needed an immediate diaper change right while my oldest was looking at the dollar toys and of course my oldest had a meltdown because that’s what little kids do.  Especially little kids who’ve just had their small worlds turned upside down by a new sibling.

So then, of course, I had two crying children in the toy aisle.

Of course.

I remember taking a deep breath, trying not to lose my shit right there next to the little happy white and red dog, smiling at me because he sees this crap on an everyday kind of basis.  I didn’t want to give him and his cute puppy dog face that kind of satisfaction.  He wouldn’t see me break.

So, after talking myself down from the ledge and regaining what little composure my fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain could manage, I packed my kids back into the car and went home.

The house was still dirty, the dogs were still barking incessantly and the kids were still upset.  I had more than I could take.  Something in my head literally snapped and all I could manage were tears.

I thought to myself, this must be what a nervous breakdown feels like.  I am definitely breaking down right now. I called my husband because I needed him; I was weak and I needed his strength.  But when he answered, the words all sounded wrong.  I was a blubbering fool and the words, my words, were gone.

I was broken.

That was just one year ago.  It took me one long year and the support of family, friends, coffee and wine (definitely wine) to get out of that place and into this one, where I am better, for the most part.

I am a work in progress, but then again most of us are.