Toddler Troubles and Treasures #1: Tiny Bubbles… and Butt Cheeks.

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Toddler Treasure:

After I’m done taking a long, relaxing bubble bath, why isn’t it acceptable for me to run around the house naked and cackle like a mad-woman while everyone chases me across the family room and behind the couches?

Also, I don’t think anyone would laugh when I left a pee puddle on the linoleum.

– C.G. Thomas 

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The elusive albino m&m… has been spotted.

The elusive albino m&m... has been spotted.

I found her lost, surrounded by colors of the rainbow + dirt; the albino m&m and I are long-lost twins of sweetness and bumpy, pale skin.

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December 22, 2013 · 8:26 pm

Good Times & The First Snowfall

When I am not writing, I am a high school Language Arts teacher in Kuna, Idaho. It is a job that requires balance–and it is worth it every single day (even when I grumble and act cynical). It’s been rough out at my school the past few weeks. I know, it’s the holidays and a time to be grateful, but it seems that just when the community is pulling itself out of one event and seeing some light, there is something else.

Even though there have been several Kuna community tragedies in the past month, I am consistently reminded to let go of my pessimism and hold to those I love and the many positive events that remind me why life is beautiful.

I hold my kids a little tighter. I am blessed with a warm house filled with love and Christmas joy. I consider the snow as that powdered and cursed beauty.

This is why the book release party on Thursday was such a needed escape. My thanks to all who support me as a writer and support the written word. 

I’ll leave this post with a poem by Mr. James Russell Lowell. Its words keep coming back to me lately (my students read it in class several weeks ago) and it returned to my mind this morning.

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The First Snowfall

THE snow had begun in the gloaming, 
And busily all the night 
Had been heaping field and highway 
With a silence deep and white. 

Every pine and fir and hemlock 
Wore ermine too dear for an earl, 
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree 
Was ridged inch deep with pearl. 

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara 
Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow, 
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down, 
And still fluttered down the snow. 

I stood and watched by the window 
The noiseless work of the sky, 
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds, 
Like brown leaves whirling by. 

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn 
Where a little headstone stood; 
How the flakes were folding it gently, 
As did robins the babes in the wood. 

Up spoke our own little Mabel, 
Saying, ‘Father, who makes it snow?’ 
And I told of the good All-father 
Who cares for us here below. 

Again I looked at the snowfall, 
And thought of the leaden sky 
That arched o’er our first great sorrow, 
When that mound was heaped so high. 

I remembered the gradual patience 
That fell from that cloud like snow, 
Flake by flake, healing and hiding 
The scar of our deep-plunged woe. 

And again to the child I whispered, 
‘The snow that husheth all, 
Darling, the merciful Father 
Alone can make it fall! ‘ 

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her; 
And she, kissing back, could not know 
That my kiss was given to her sister, 
Folded close under deepening snow.

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Whew!

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50,000 words. A novella. And my marriage survived it.

In celebration of the (early) end to my NaNo novel (yes, I beat the 11/30 deadline), here is the final excerpt you will be able to see of my latest work. Enjoy it, you ravenous reading fools!

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from Unbought Stuffed Dogs and Other Pretty Thoughts

 

“There they are.”

I pull the black storage case out from under my bed, from behind a pair of dirty shorts, hand weights, and my yoga mat. And as I brush away the dust bunnies and dirt, it’s as though I can smell the new plastic of years past.

Their artificial expressions stare back at me from their twelve slotted spaces. Ever since I turned twelve, I’ve kept them under my bed for safe-keeping, but at least once a year I pull them back out to reminisce. To line them up and wait for the magic. Hoping that Cobra rises once more to bring the Joes back into active duty.

“Why can’t it feel the same?” I ask Crazylegs.

He has nothing to say.

“Why does everything have to turn into a steaming pile of crap?” I ask the mute figures. The poster-covered walls–Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and the Detroit Red Wings–stand watch in silence.

I line them up on the rust shag carpet.

Flint.

Storm Shadow.

Jinx.

Cobra Commander.

Mutt and Junkyard.

Knockdown.

Snow Job.

Sgt. Slaughter.

Sneak Peek.

Charbroil.

Snake Eyes and Timber.

Crazylegs.

Me. Their fear-filled leader.

I place each back in the box, one by one. Slide the box back under my bed and crawl under the covers.

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40K… Into the Flood Again…

 

The good news? I’m at 40,000 words. The bad news? I’m done with the main plot of my book, so that means it’s time to go back through and add/enhance scenes. That means a lot slower process. I hope I can make it to the goal of 50,000 by the 30th… Happy NaNo-ing!

Here’s another excerpt from Unbought Stuffed Dogs and Other Pretty Thoughts

………………………………………………………………………

“Get Well Soon, Wuss.”

A homemade card from Luke. So thoughtful. So crappily drawn.

Is that a windmill on the front or a portrait of me?

I open it for more fun.

Don’t you dare ruin my summer.

Sincerely, Luke.

Your cousin.

The one you usually talk to.

Jerk.

I fold it into a paper airplane and launch it across my room, heading straight towards Layne Staley’s face staring at me from across the room. Head cocked in the Alice in Chains poster hanging lopsided above my trash can. Right between his eyes. Into the can. Three points for me.

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30k Obligatory Celebration

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More confetti! Over 30,000 words so far… but now I’m starting to fall behind. Eek!

But here’s another sampling of what I wrote about one minute ago. Enjoy.

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“Why don’t you just walk the way God made you?”

If it weren’t for her galaxy leggings and tunic sweater, I would push her down and tell her to shut up before I made her shut up for good. But I stood there, staring at the way stardust cradled her knee caps, unable to move.

“Well?” she insisted. Her high-pitched and overly-invasive voice made me want to throttle her. But the fact that she was talking with me and not at me melted away all my annoyance.

Haddie was still Hadley on the second annual James clan winter ski-trip extraordinaire. Friendship’s insecurity-stripping sandpaper and stupidity’s once-in-a-lifetime moments are the birthplaces of nicknames, and Hadley would remain Hadley for a little while longer.

“Because I can’t.” We didn’t have to stare dumbly at my leg braces to know they were there, hiding beneath my patched-knees, hand-me-down jeans.

“My daddy says that anything’s possible if you try hard enough. Maybe if you take them off and practice, you’ll get used to them,” she offers.

And it sounded like a good idea at the time, but anything sounds decent enough when you’re eight-years old and the cute girl in pigtails believes in you. She could have said she believed in my ability to successfully walk on a moonbeam and I would have tried.

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Happy National Novel Writing Month.

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Whooooooooa… I’m half-way there!

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By Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps. (NOAA Photo Library: corp1765) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

November 16th. Just over half-way through November, and over half-way through the craziness of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you are participating, I hope you are having as much fun as I am.

In celebration of reading over 26,000 words, here is an excerpt from the work-in-progress. Enjoy, and don’t forget to keep writing!

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from Unbought Stuffed Dogs and Other Pretty Thoughts (working title – just go with it)

 

“Just a while longer.”

The words echoed across the hundreds of miles between us. More promises and excuses with each phone call.

“Your grandma says you’re doing well in school. How do you like second grade?”

“Fine.”

“Just fine?”

I said nothing.

“Made any new friends?” Muffled background voices.

Like you care. “No.”

“What about class? What are you learning?”

“Stuff.”

“That’s good. Learning’s good. And your leg braces, are they helping? Your grandpa told me you were fitted for new ones a couple of months back.”

“They’re okay.” She wouldn’t care to really know about the adjustment period. Didn’t want to really hear about my increasing muscle tension. It wouldn’t change a thing.

“So, what did you get for your birthday?” More voices in the background, laughter, and music. She was out.

“Hot Wheels,” I muttered.

“Did you get my present?” she asked.

“No.”

“Darn it. I sent it last week and it should be there by now,” she claimed, but I knew she probably sent it earlier in the day when she realized she had forgotten my birthday. Another voice in the background, but closer. Someone attempting to usher her away. “Look, hun. I gotta go, but you have a happy birthday, and don’t forget that mommy loves you. Okay?”

“Okay,” I whispered into the receiver.

Then it clicked and the phone call died.

Two weeks later a padded envelope arrived with a chocolate bar, a bag of army men, and a note scribbled on a scrap of paper. “Happy birthday, Jake.”

Grandma and Grandpa made excuses for her. “It must have been lost in the mail.” “Glad it finally made it.”

But they couldn’t hide the date from the postage meter. Stamped with the number three days past my actual birthday.

 

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NaNo! NaNo!

50k. 50k. 

It’s a race. A race of fingertips and words.

I’m almost 1/3 of the way there!

Happy NaNoWriMo 2013!

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NaNoWriMo 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 has begun – are you participating?

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November 2, 2013 · 1:07 pm

Ode on a Piss-Filled Jar. A Poem.

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http://diycozyhome.com/how-to-make-vintage-memory-jars/

In deviating from my normal novel writing and writing blog, I have penned a poem (with the help of another amazing writer). I was so inspired by the above-picture that I had to write a poem in dedication. This goes to the overly-ambitious crafters everywhere. Although this is reminding me of a news story some years back about an artist… http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/sep/28/andres-serrano-piss-christ-new-york

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Ode on a Piss-Filled Jar

 

Kerr jar of piss and yellow nastiness,

       Viscous memories held in the blazing sun;

   Conspiring with Martha how to load and bless

       With images the jars that round my dining room run;

   To bend with delicacy the horror-show photos,

       And fill all glass with rankness to the top;

         To fill the Ball, and seal the gold lids

       With a separate band; crafting never stops,

   And still more, more herbs held in pee,

 Until one thinks memory jars will never cease,

         For canning has o’er-run my crafty hell.

Author’s Note: My apologies to John Keats and his posterity. It could be worse… it could have been “Ode on a Grecian Urn”…

 

 

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