Blog Archives

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Decisions

Memoir Prompt:
Day 12: Decisions. I've been reading The Things They Carried and I feel gutted. In one passage he talks about the decision of whether to fight in Vietnam or run to Canada. "Twenty yards. I could've jumped and started swimming for my life. Inside me, in my chest, I felt a terrible squeezing pressure. . . What would you do? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think of your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry, as I did?" Write about a decision. A wrenching decision. A decision that changed your course. How did you decide? What did it feel like? Who did it affect? 8 minutes. Don't hold back.


I've always known I wanted to have children.

A love of children is the one thing in my life that I can trace back to my earliest days (well, that and crushes on boys...)

As a child, I would arrange my stuffed animals and dolls in a "classroom." I would make up lesson plans, take attendance, and even had a grade book in which I would carefully pass or fail them. 

I told my parents, with great confidence, that I was going to have 100 children.
I babysat from the very moment I was allowed to do so.
I worked in the church nursery.
When I left to go to college, I spent COUNTLESS hours volunteering in the lab classrooms on campus, working with special needs children under the age of three. And I do mean countless.. which then evolved into my first full time adult job.

Rob and I got married fairly young and started our family fairly young, by today's standards. I had just turned 26 when our first child was born.

I have never, ever regretted having children, although there were certainly moments when I could have easily gotten into the car like Marie Osmond did and driven far, far away.

There have been times, big fat blocks of time, in which I lost track of who I was, outside of being a mother. Times when I truly felt depressed and overwhelmed and completely drowned in the needs of children and a husband and raising a family.

Times of overwhelming joy, times of heartbreak, times of white hot rage and boundless pride.
Times when the little girl I was would be so proud of her Mommying and times when she would be beyond horrified at her own future actions or words.

Now that my kids are growing older and up and out of the house, I spend time trying to decide things about this next phase of life: What does it look like? What is my role? Who am I now and what do I want for MYSELF. Do I even remember how to answer these questions anymore?

Time will tell.


If you want to play along, Go here:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Being Eight

Memoir Prompt: Day 9: 8. Write about being 8 years old. Do you remember? Where did you live? Who were your friends? What did you do? What were you siblings like? What did your mom do? What did your dad say? What did you hope for?


Being 8 was being in Mrs. Hutchens' second grade classroom. I remember her as being blonde and fairly round- not necessarily heavy but in the plump, matronly kind of way that kids perceive pretty much all women of a certain age. I'm guessing she was probably in her early fifties. 

Being 8 was still playing hard at recess. It never occurred to us girls to just stand around and titter about the boys.. nope, we were all in. 

Being 8 was having a crush on both Grant Lindsey and Derek Langford. Oh, and Peter Ellison too! 

Being 8 was cheating at school for the first time (yes, I said the first time. I admit it.) and lying to my teacher. 
Being 8 was being clueless enough to tell my Mom, on the drive home, what I had done, not as a confession but as a story of my success.
Being 8 was realizing that was really dumb when your Mom turns the car around and takes you back into the school so you can apologize to the teacher. 

(Well done, Mom. Exactly the right move.)

Being 8 was a hot summer in Texas, with watermelon on the Fourth of July and seed spitting contests using the big black seeds, then watching fireworks and holding sparklers, feeling like the luckiest kid in the world.

Being 8 was living in that childhood space where life wasn't yet complex.. I was vaguely aware of adult problems but they had nothing to do with me. Being 8 was living the freedom of childhood and being blissfully unaware of the changes the next few years would bring.

Being 8 was pretty darn awesome.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Little Things

Memoir Prompt: Write about something little that means a lot. Maybe something someone made you. Maybe something you made. Maybe something you found. Maybe something you inherited or won. Write about something that no one else would love the way you do. Little Things. 8 minutes. No editing. No stopping. No worrying. 


Interestingly, I struggled with this prompt today. 
The fact is, I am not a collector of STUFF. I have a few first outfits, first pair of shoes, that kind of thing. 
A few school papers from each grade, although I think I will end up getting rid of most of that in time.
Definitely some love letters from summers apart from Rob, but by and large, not a lot of "little things."

As I thought about it more, though, there is one category of thing that means a great deal to me and always has: photographs.

My Mom had a double door cabinet in our house in Houston, stuffed absolutely full of packets of photographs. I remember sitting for hours and hours on the floor behind the couch in the family room, opening each sleeve of pictures, studying them, then putting them away (somewhat carefully but never carefully enough!) before moving on to the next. I would lay out Christmas card pictures my parents had received and consider how the children had changed and grown from year to year. The ones I didn't know, I made up stories about in my head.

My love of pictures (taking them and viewing them) has stayed strong through the years. I have kept the Christmas card pictures we receive from year to year, storing them on binder rings to enjoy each holiday.  I am not an overly social creature, so being behind a lens allows me to participate in a more removed fashion, which is especially useful at parties!

In my house, we call the DSLR the "fourth child" and the kids know it is a pricey piece of equipment and to treat it with respect. The Fourth Child has seen most major events in our family and recorded them for us to keep. 

One thing I love about the camera is that it captures things that I might have missed. For example, at my husband's grandmother's 100th birthday party, I was taking pictures of her being sung to and blowing out the candles on her cake, surrounded by her great grandchildren. It was a beautiful moment and I was so glad to capture it. What I missed, and later was able to see in the photographs, were the tears of joy and sadness shining in the eyes of her two daughters.. sisters sharing a moment of joy and pain and love. 

My camera has caught the little things- shared glances, teenage angst and growing pains, bellyflop contests and parties, Christmases upon Christmases. It has captured the multitude of little things, noticed and unnoticed, that make up our lives, and made them a permanent record. 

So for me, "little moments" that tell the tale of our lives, captured in photographs.. the little things. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Adventure

Great memoir prompt! Anndeecandy wrote: "Day 4: Adventure. "This is the story of how Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing things and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours' respect, but he gained--well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end."' 

Want to participate in the Memoir writing? Go to Anndeecandy or type #8minutememoir on Instagram. :)


I have a strong sense of adventure. Or rather, my brain does. After having careened wildly through the years up until about age 30, my brain finally started slowing down enough for me to become more introspective.. to be able to look inward and and to begin to be PROactive instead of REactive.

My brain has a strong tendency to be sleepy. Since having my youngest child and watching his development, I have associated my brain as having ADD, in the literal sense. Meetings are painful, paperwork is a struggle. My difficulty with schooling through my early years until high school began to make sense. While I crave the structure of a routine and some semblance of schedule (as is proven to me by about mid-July of every summer) I find that without some adventure to plot, I sleepwalk through my life.

Give me something novel, particularly an adventure of any kind, and my brain comes gloriously alive! It is at these times that I believe I am my best self, although I can also move into hyper focusing and then drive myself and others around me to tears. :)

Most recently, my sense of adventure was satiated with a six week long summer trip that I took with my two sons. Nearly two years in the planning, it gave me something fun to obsess over and obsess I did! There was so much to read about and plan! Lodging to be rented, activities to be booked, routes to plan. Everywhere that I go, I like to plan things to be as "local" as possible, so we try to stay in neighborhoods or Mom and Pop joints, and we like to find hole-in-the-wall places to eat that the locals enjoy. We also try hard to eat what is special to that place or region. 

We also jumped off the cliff into physical adventure! Nine national parks and many state parks. Rappelling, Canyoneering, Hiking Bungee swinging over a gorge, Ziplining, Extreme 4x4 Rock Crawling and more. It took me a year, the loss of 65 pounds and some major training to prepare my body, but I did it. It was the "Summer of Yes," as in YES we can do that and YES I can and YES to every picture in every place possible.  And now, looking back a year later, YES all those things were accomplished and I don't regret a single minute or a single penny spent.

Oddly, that adventure was both so exhausting and so fulfilling that my sense of adventure, maybe for the first time in my life, has been somewhat satiated. I don't have the craving that I have felt all my life, deep in my bones, to be somewhere else, on the run, planning the next big thing. The restlessness has been dormant and I have been more of a homebody than I can recall being at any other time in my life.

Still, I am beginning to feel a flickering again. There is so much out there to explore, and so little time in which to do it all! Accents I have yet to hear, foods I have yet to try, sights and sounds and smells and adventures yet to unfold before me. 

Ain't life grand?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Billboards

Road Trips: pretty much a given in Americana childhoods.

Who doesn't remember being on an endless road trip growing up with their parents and siblings?
I certainly do!

Road trips were sliding around in the back of the station wagon, and one lucky year, getting to lay back there to sleep while our parents were in the front seat, driving through the night. I remember laying there looking out at the sky, soothed by the road noise and feeling the expansiveness of the world and my small place in it.

Road trips were the excuse for crappy handheld games, but it was all we knew and so we loved them..  you knew it too, as COLECO! Coleco basketball, Coleco football- those are the two I remember. Little red DOTS for God's sake, yet my brother Richard played the games with rapt attention. I played them some too.. it was a road trip and I was desperate!

Road trips were the fun "Yes and No" Invisible Ink books, that I have since shared with my own kids, who were decidedly less impressed than I had been.

Road trips were "What city are we in?" "What state are we in?" "What country are we in?" Possibly simple questions for some, but not for a ten year old dreamer, staring out the window and singing a song.  Tears would ensue after incessant badgering from the front seat.

Road trips were searching a map from top to bottom, left to right for probably a full hour, searching for a town called "Red Stick" according to my Dad, which I will never forget for the rest of my life, is  instead Baton Rouge. ;)

Road trips were stories made up and continued for years, quite literally years, by my brother and I called "Hegge and Eggy." Little creatures that were made up of our second and third fingers, who would walk around and talk and,  more than anything, be INCREDIBLY NAUGHTY and ILL BEHAVED and according to my Mother, EXCEEDINGLY LOUD AND ANNOYING.

Road trips were the "Quiet Game" (after too many episodes of Hegge and Eggy, natch) ONE TWO THREE QUIET! and a few seconds later, the inevitable fart, or burp, or giggle.

Road trips were "Don't make me pull this car over!" and an arm reaching around from the front seat to slap and pinch wildly at the shorts-clad legs in the back seat, while Richard and I would simultaneously be trying to move our own legs out of the way while getting our sibling's legs slapped or pinched.

Road trips were "He's on my side!" "She's touching me!"

Finally, road trips were the billboards on the side of the road while playing the Alphabet Game. The game would go fast and furious until we got to the letter Q, and then the great anticipatory wait for the La Quinta Inn would set in. It only occurred to me today that we weren't even out of Houston City Limits at that point. My poor parents. :D

Kids today may have their iPads and iPods and movies, but on the other hand, they have no idea what they are missing!