Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fragile - Handle With Care

Do we shelter our children too much?

Do you think kids these days are too sheltered? Coddled to the point of being unable to function in real life situations? Fed a steady stream of positivity and cartoons and "nothing bad will ever happen"? 

The other night, hubs and I were watching a movie with the kids. Some stupid movie about bears, I don't even know what it was called. Clearly I was paying attention. But it was a children's movie, live-action, not cartoon, and my hubs loved it as a kid and wanted to share it with the boys. Anyway, there was a part of the movie where the mama bear is killed by falling rocks. And the baby bear is understandably sad and snuggles with her body and doesn't really know what to do. There's another part of the movie where a bear gets hurt and is bleeding. 

The boys were terrified. They couldn't handle it and begged us to turn it off. Dom was in tears, Will was hiding under his blanket. Hubs and I tried to explain that it was just a movie. That the blood wasn't real, the bears in the movie were "actors" and that they were just fine. And what I wanted to say, but didn't, was: "Bears get hurt. They bleed. They starve. They get hunted and killed. This stuff happens in real life." 

I do want to keep my children as innocent as possible. Protect them from some of the harsher truths in the world - like some people are douche-canoes and are going to say or do things to hurt you, or animals (and people) die every day, or... you get the point. I don't want them to be traumatized or to be preoccupied with things to the point that they live in terror. 

But I don't want them to not be able to handle LIFE. Violence happens, as much as we wish it didn't. People and animals bleed and/or die. Some diseases have no cure. Planes sometimes do crash. It sucks and it's heartbreaking sometimes, but you have to be able to live your life. 

I don't remember being upset by things I saw in movies when I was a kid. And I watched all kinds of stuff. Stuff I probably shouldn't have. But it never really bothered me. A healthy dose of fear/reality keeps your wits about you. Too much just debilitates you. How do I walk that line? What's OK to expose them to, and what isn't? And when?   

This parenting stuff is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's a huge responsibility to try and not screw up these kids for life, man. To find and maintain that balance of when to lead the way and when to step back and let them learn for themselves. It's a work in progress, y'all.

 "We have not journeyed all this way because we are made of sugar candy." -Winston S. Churchill

Monday, May 2, 2016

Coffee Thoughts

Coffee Thoughts is exactly what it sounds like... the thoughts I have during my morning coffee. I like to sit and just let my mind wander for a few minutes. Here are some of the thoughts I had lately: 

*  Why do people feel like they can say anything they want when they are hiding behind their computer screen? I saw this video the other day of men who were reading tweets that these women sports writers received on a daily basis (the men reading the tweets were not the ones who wrote them). It made me cry. I was so angry that anyone on this planet would think it was OK to tweet "I hope you get raped" or "You need to get hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed". For what? Writing a story about sports? Are you kidding me? 

*  Does Mark Wahlberg even age? I was watching Daddy's Home the other night and DAGNABBIT that man is hot. He didn't wear a shirt most of the time, so clearly it was Oscar material. 

*  How many times can the guys on ESPN say "I really like that guy's ball skills"? #NFLDraftProbs #I'mStill13YearsOld #Giggle

*  Why do writing contests charge so much? I don't want to pay a $50 "reading fee" in order to MAYBE win $200.       

*  Why can't National Poetry Month just be National Poetry Year? Every year. I like writing poetry. It's mah fave. 

*  I have a 50% off coupon for Michael's. Trouble will ensue. 

*  I need more coffee. That is all.  


Did you check out ABC Reads, the alphabet reading challenge? Come check it out and share what books you've read lately. It's never too late to join! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

ABC Reads: April 2016

Hello, fellow book lovers! Andrea and I wish you a warm welcome back to ABC Reads. And we have a special message for you! 

So, let's have a little refresher on what the ABC Reads Challenge is all about:  
What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  
At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card. 

Pretty easy, right? And if you didn't get a chance to link up last month - no worries at all. Feel free to jump in with us any time!

OK, so let's get to it. What did you guys read this month? How many letters did you check off? Here's my progress (April books in blue): 

A: (The) Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Completed March 2016. 
B: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Completed February 2016. 
D:  Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. Completed April 2016. 
E:  Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day, by Doug Mack. Completed April 2016. 
F:  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King. Completed January 2016. 
G: (The) Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. Completed January 2016. 
H: (The) Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. Completed April 2016. 
L: (The) Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. Completed January 2016. 
M: (The) Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Completed February 2016.
O: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Completed January 2016. 
R: (The) Revenant, by Michael Punke. Completed March 2016. 
T:  Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Completed April 2016. 
W: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion. Completed February 2016. 

Dark Witch is the first book in the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy. I like Nora Roberts books for when I just want a quick, light read. I gave this one 3 out of 5 stars. It was good, but completely predictable. I did love that the book was set in Ireland and the beautiful descriptions made me want to go there right this minute. The basic gist is that there was a witch back in the day who had 3 witch children. And there's an evil guy who is out to get them. And each generation of this family has witches who battle with this guy.

Doug Mack grew up hearing about his mom's grand tour through Europe before she married his father. And when he stumbled upon Frommer's book Europe on Five Dollars A Day (1963), he decided he would go to Europe using the guide and seeing how it compared to modern times. I really enjoyed his observations about the touristy locations, hotels, food, and locals of each country he visited. He didn't sugar coat things, but told it like it was. I read some reviews that said he didn't show the proper appreciation of some of the famous sites. And to me, I didn't get that impression at all. I think he was just saying that some places have turned into caricatures of themselves over the years - to the point where some places are made up of almost 100% tourists and the locals don't eat there or shop there, etc. I really liked this one, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. 

You guys might remember how excited I was to share the cover reveal of  The Hereafter with you all back in March. Well, the story is just as beautiful as the cover! The main characters, Nin and Dylan are dead. But they don't remember why or how. The book flashes between their afterlife and little snippets of their lives. I don't want to give anything away, but the story deals with some important issues - parent/child relationships, abusive romantic relationships, crime, teenage angst, and so much more. It reminded me a tiny bit of Sliding Doors - that concept that if you were to miss your train or bus and take 5 minutes longer to get home, what would happen? This one gets 5 out of 5 stars from me. Go read it!

I love this book. "Dear Sugar" was an anonymous advice column on The Rumpus where people could send their questions/troubles and receive 100% honest, but still loving and funny, responses. Sugar turned out to be Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. The book is a compilation of her columns. I love it so much, I gave it 5 out of 5 stars. 

OK, now it's YOUR turn! Come link up and share what you've read, Andrea and I can't wait to hear all about it. Don't forget to visit other posts and leave some love. Happy Reading!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Triumph: A Beautiful Season of Life

Do you ever just feel super proud of yourself? Of what you've accomplished and how far you've come? I've been feeling that way lately. There's no reason in particular, just an accumulation of how my days and weeks have been going recently. 

I feel creatively fulfilled. I launched The Figment after many, many months of thinking and planning and doubting. Holl & Lane is growing leaps and bounds and I'm super proud to be a part of the team. I've been reading my little tushie off. And best of all, I've been inspired to write again. 

My stress and anxiety levels are way down. Work is going well. I also have free time to pursue the things I'm passionate about (see above). I don't feel rushed, I don't feel like everything is falling through the cracks. I don't find myself wanting to cry from sheer exhaustion. 

I've had more family time with my hubby and kids than I've ever had. And that makes my heart the happiest of all. We laugh, we snuggle, we enjoy each other's company. Hubs is now off on weekends for the first time ever. It's just been a really good time for us.

I'm blessed to have supportive friends. Friends who let me bounce ideas off of them and have silly conversations. Who never get tired of me talking about books or writing or cats. Friends who encourage me every step of the way and believe in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. Thank you, ladies.     

I'm not a famous author with a dozen best-selling books. And I probably won't ever be. But that's OK. This is a beautiful season of life. And I've worked hard to get here. 

This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt at The Figment Forum. Come join the fun. A new prompt is posted every Thursday. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

National Tell a Story Day: I Hate My House But I Love My Home

Not my actual house. 

In honor of National Tell a Story Day, I want to tell you a little story about my house. A house that I both hate and love, but mostly hate. 

It all started back in the spring of 2008. Hubs and I were given a deadline to move out of our former place, so we began the home search process, neither of us knowing what the heck we were doing. Plus, I was pregnant with our first child. We looked at several different homes and I wasn't terribly thrilled with any of them (not to mention our realtor was a joy *SARCASM*). 

Then, there was a home that needed a little bit of work, but not much, that we really liked. It had a big fenced back yard, and detached 2 car garage, and a really nice living room area. We told our realtor that we liked that house and she got back to us and basically said that someone else had already put an offer in, so we should look at something else (we didn't know better at the time, but clearly, I had several reasons to want to punch that woman). 

We toured our current home and I wasn't all that impressed. It was a foreclosure and the previous owners hadn't done much upkeep, which was going to require tens of thousands of dollars to correct. It had a tiny backyard that was overrun with weeds and poison oak and no fence. It had a master bathroom with a giant tub and no shower, which meant that we would have to use the shower in the hallway bathroom. There was carpet in several of the bathrooms (don't get me started on that disgusting mess). And WHITE carpet in the living room, wtf?! The previous owners apparently left in a hurry and left behind giant piles of trash in the house and garage. They took the appliances though, so we had to get all new ones. The siding needed to be replaced. The house is a split level, so I'm always going up and down stairs to put groceries away or do the laundry. All of the closets are tiny. It has vaulted ceilings, which is pretty I'll admit, until 5 minutes later when you remember how much electricity (cha-ching) it takes to heat or cool this place. I'm sure there's other things that I'm leaving out, I just can't think of them all. 

Needless to say, I wanted no part of it. I told my hubby repeatedly that we should keep looking because the house would require too much work, time, and money. But he kept telling me how much of an investment it would be, and that once we fixed it up, it would be great, blah blah frickin' blah. 

So, we put in an offer. Now, you'd think that was the end of the story. Nope, you'd be wrong. A foreclosure has it own set of rules. We were in foreclosure limbo for months, dealing with banks and middle men and triple the paperwork. We finally closed on the house in the fall (we started the process in the spring, mind you) and began the long, "fun" process of moving in and getting everything fixed. Sort of. We had a days-old newborn, so we were sleep deprived and delirious and tried to do what we could to make it livable. 

We've now been here over 7 years and the house still hasn't grown on me. I mean, we've made so many memories here for sure. And I'm a bonafide homebody, so I spend 99% of my time here. But if I could do it all over again, and please understand that I'm grateful to have a roof over our heads, I certainly wouldn't pick this house.

I'm not one of those people who necessarily equates "home" to a place. Home is your family. Home is being with the people you love, regardless of where you physically reside. Home is love and light and laughter. 

Home can be anywhere, as long as your heart is full. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Missing Piece

The Missing Piece

I was always afraid to be myself, because I knew that’s not who you wanted me to be. I’d do anything to make you happy because perhaps I hoped that meant you would love me. I wanted the kindness that you gave away so freely to strangers, but seemed too much of an effort to give to me. 

You had other gifts for me instead. Backhanded compliments. Comparisons in which I never measured up. Blame, though for what I still have no clue. Temper tantrums, guilt trips, manipulation. Betrayal.  

I used to be terrified of you. I used to wonder what I did wrong. I used to fucking care. 

There’s a piece missing from your puzzle. I don't know if it was ever there to begin with. And in that space there is your resentment, your “never good enough”, your take and never give.

Thankfully, I’m not like you. I have that piece of the puzzle. It fits perfectly, in the shape of two little people who hold my heart and soul in their hands. Who have so much love in their little bodies that it takes my breath away. 

I confess that I am missing a different piece, though. There’s a black hole where my forgiveness should be. Infinite, unyielding, angry. One day, I hope it terrifies you. One day, I hope it makes you wonder what you did wrong. One day, I hope it makes you fucking care. 

And on that day, I’ll fill the hole with cement and never look back. 


This post was inspired by the weekly writing prompt from The Figment writing community. Click here to find out more and to join us. A new prompt is posted each Thursday. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Figment is LIVE!

The time has come. The Figment writing community is LIVE! I'm so excited! If you love writing, I really hope you'll join us. Let's cheer each other on as we share the words in our hearts. Why am I even still talking? Let's do this!

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