Monday, October 31, 2011

I remember her... and the doughnuts

Over the river and through the woods we traveled, twisting and winding over a mountain until, descending, we felt the telltale rumble of our Chevy tires over nearly-forgotten brick streets.

Up the porch steps we bounded, past the creaky swing and into the 60s/70s style tiled kitchen.

I held in my question through hellos and hugs until the words burst from my mouth, no longer able to be contained, "What are we having for breakfast?"

My mouth watered simply thinking of them. My taste buds readied at high alert, waiting, anxious, so very ready for the warm dough creation that only she knew how to make.

Thoughtfulness was kneaded into the fresh handmade dough. Companionship was leavened as the yeast performed its trick. Excitement and anticipation bubbled as the hot oil began to crackle.

As she scooped out the first strips of golden crispy perfection, my little body danced in the metal chair pushed up to the Formica tabletop. The plate of treasure was placed, steaming, before me and I paused. Waited. Grabbed for the largest piece only once the crown of glimmering sugar rested on the surface.

Hot, melt-in-your-mouth dough.
Sweet dusting of pure sugar.
That was what love tasted like.

I don't even know their real name. She always called them "Polish doughnuts", a nod to her heritage (and a little bit of mine).

I asked for them every single visit.
And she obliged.

Every single time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Immortalizing my favorite notes from Bloggy Bootcamp

Bear with me here… one more Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta post. I have several notebook pages’ worth of notes, worthy of another pass forward:

“You are a brand. If you put any thought into getting dressed today, if you didn’t just grab blindly into your closet and grab whatever you could reach, you branded yourself.”

To help define your brand, answer these questions:

 • What are my distinguishing characteristics/traits?

 • What are my guiding principles/values?

 • What is my role on the web?

 • What is my promise?

 • What is my story?

(from @AmyBHole)
- - -

How to avoid blog burnout?

 • Make tough decisions (hours, schedule, PR, features, etc.)

 • Find your tribe (anyone who is not happy for your individual success is not your tribe)

 • Use your time wisely (we only have one life – work smarter, not harder)

 • Make time for rest/play (your blog becomes more alive when you live)

• Don’t be afraid of change (“Into the highlands of the mind let me go”)

(from @StaceyNerdin)

- - -

WHO you are is not simply a list of your roles.

Establish credibility and define HOW you are – the tangible qualities that provide insight into your skills and abilities , and assurance that you will deliver on that promise.)

(from @ShanellSaidIt)
- - -

Because of social media, the world operates in conversations. It’s all about the relationship.

Ask yourself, “where do I want to be in 2013?”; If an opportunity or idea does not move you toward this goal, you may want to think twice about using your valuable time for it.

(from @SwayGroup)

- - -

Women Online
Visit The SITS Girls for more information on Bloggy Bootcamp and to experience an endearing, truly supportive community.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"A careful woman" (reminder for moms)

I wish I could say I wrote this, but I did not. I came across it recently and it just stuck. It haunts me in a way, not like a regret or nightmare, but as a guardian angel reminding me to strive for my best:

"The Little One That Follows Me"
(author unknown)

A careful woman, I ought to be;
a little one follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear they'll go, the self-same way.

I cannot once escape their eyes,
whatever they see me do, they'll try.
Like me, they say, they're going to be,
that little one that follows me.

They think that I am good and fine;
believe in every work of mine.
The bad in me they must not see;
my life to them, must, an example be.

I must remember, as I go,
through summer's sun and winter's snow,
I'm building for the years to be,
for that little one that follows me.

It is not easy to strive for our best every day. Fatigue transforms our amusement into impatience, and impatience chases away our calm voice. No human is perfect; all we can do is try.

But try I will.
I have no other choice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wow, I sound adventurous!

Last week, I shared 22 things I have NOT done.

Linking up again to Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop, where I selected the prompt: “Write a list of 22 things you HAVE done”

Maybe I’ll reveal a few things that surprise you!

I have…

1. Gone parasailing

2. Danced in the rain

3. Experienced an earthquake

4. Bicycled down a volcano (Haleakela)

5. Tasted and dined at a winery in Tuscany

6. Climbed 2 miles up Mt. Ranier

7. Happily bounded 2 miles DOWN Mt. Ranier

8. Ridden Millennium Force at Cedar Rapids twice in a row

9. Viewed New York City from the Empire State Building

10. Climbed a glacier

11. Taken a photo of the Sistine Chapel ceiling

12. Eaten candy made from flowers (lavender and rose)

13. Earned a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude, baby!)

14. Been to Disney World many times

15. Seen a grizzly bear mama with cubs in the wild

16. Survived a trip to Europe with a 14-month old

17. Posted on this blog 508 times. (It’ll be 2 years in January!)

18. Marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

19. Fed animal cookies to a sheep

20. Been mama to bunnies, cats, and fish

21. Strolled the streets of Barcelona

22. Been a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, and a mom.

Oh yes, I know I am blessed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WW: Swag from Bloggy Bootcamp!

Bloggy Bootcamp had great sponsors:

I join the @SITSGirls in thanking them for helping to support the conference. None of us would be able to afford a ticket if it weren't for sponsors' support.

Sony, thank you!
Best Buy, thank you!
Arm & Hammer, thank you!
Goody, thank you!
Laughing at Wall Street, thank you!
Bissell, thank you!
Tide, thank you!
Two Prince, thank you!
Mirassou, thank you!

And all others... thank you too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

"I am from.." (a post from #BBCATL & writer's workshop)

I am from homemade cookies, Keds sneakers, and lightning bugs.

I am from the cul-de-sac headquarters of the neighborhood BBQ, where friendly handshakes and childlike giggles paused only for a mom's still-warm and oozing blueberry pie.

I am from the grass, the fresh, crisp softness between asphalt-blackened toes.

I am from beach vacations and open arms, from farmers and coal miners and first-generation college graduates.

I am from the watermelon fights and "I'm sorry" hugs.

From "you can do anything" to "be careful what you say".

I am from Rocky Top and European immigrants, meat and potatoes.

From the playful cousins to the available parents, and the sister so close in age we could share friends as well as clothes.

I am from handmade quilts, memories captured on Kodak slides, and a place that will, within my soul, always be frozen in time.

- - - -
This post was crafted during Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta. Thanks to MamaKat and Francesca who led the session and found the fantastic original post "Where I'm From" by writer/teacher George Ella Lyon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A “just for fun” blogger attends a blog conference

I bravely purchased my ticket to Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta many months ago. As the date crept closer and closer, my anxiety grew larger and larger. I worried about how to look, how to act, and whether or not I would be welcome in such a large, talented, and diverse group of blogging women.

Once the date was literally a night away, yet another worry set in.

What if none of this applies to me?

I have no illusions of grandeur when it comes to this blog. I know my life. I know the slightly compulsive, stress-prone gray matter between my ears. I know that any entrepreneurial adventure requires hard work, many hours, and a dedication I simply cannot handle at this period of my life.

So, what exactly does a “just for fun” blogger get out of Bloggy Bootcamp?

I got validation. Other human beings know who I am read what I write.

I got understanding. My blog is “just a hobby”. But it is a hobby worthy of my time and a piece of my heart.

I got encouragement. Real-life people care about my success, even if my definition of success has nothing to do with the weight of my wallet.

I got an identity. I narrowed in on it, anyway. Throughout many sessions, I found myself repeating to myself phrases like “I am a real person”, “so mothers can find someone who understands”, and “ what you read is what you get”. My blog is about me, from personal expression through creative writing to funny tales of raising a princess-obsessed little lady. I am not famous, nor overly talented, nor beautiful as a Hollywood starlet. But I share what is real, and I provide an extra voice of support to moms everywhere. I understand that we are all different. I know that no two kids are exactly alike. With other moms, I share the most important bond; we are raising the next generation. To the best of our ability.

I got a hug from MamaKat!
One of many incredible people who made this "just for fun" blogger feel right at home.

Photobucket Photobucket
Photobucket Atlanta_Fox
 Photobucket Photobucket

Photos of @mamakatslosinit, @InTheKitchenKP, one half of @ThirdBoob,
@StaceyNerdin, and my lovely city of Atlanta.

Friday, October 21, 2011

BBC in the AM!

My hopes for Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta 2011:
  • I hope I recognize a few faces. It is not easy to match tiny twitter avatars to real-life lovely ladies!
  • I hope the food is good. And I hope we get snacks. I like snacks.
  • I hope I kick my social anxiety to the curb and dive into some great conversations.
  • I hope Bloggy Bootcamp re-energizes me, my creativity, and my writing.
I am awake way too late, but a little high-strung. Wish me luck! Off I go, bright and early....  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Twelve thousand two-hundred days+

I have been around for over 12,210 days. I am 33 years old.

I have viewed lovely places and experienced a few adventures, but I have never…

1. Eaten food at Taco Bell

2. Traveled great distances by train

3. Jumped from an airplane

4. Been a dog owner

5. Hugged a boa constrictor

6. Worn a leather jumpsuit
(but this one can be yours for only $755 at Nieman Marcus)

7. Been struck by lightning

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disney does it again (Magic!)

They did it again. Magic.
We saw Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream on Sunday. Amazing! Amelia was already acting out scenes and songs from princess movies an a near constant basis... now she's acting out and skating scenes. It's Princesspalooza around here! Morning, noon, and night.
Before the show: City girl attitude

Costume change!

Monday, October 17, 2011

If you really knew me...

Social media has a way of making us feel popular. We feel a twinge of pride from having hundreds of Facebook friends, thousands of Twitter followers, and blog readers from all over the world.

But there is a line between tangible and virtual.

Not too long ago, a well-respected and heavily-followed social media expert committed suicide. For many of us, we immediately thought, "How could that be? He had so many followers!".

But a social media follower is not the same as a real-life friend. It is easy to feel alone, even in the thick of a crowd.

If you really knew me, you would know that...

I write the truth.
I write from my heart.
I am what I write...
But I am probably too embarrassed to talk about it in person.

My first blog conference is coming up on Saturday.

I am a nervous wreck.

What do I wear?
Are comfy shoes okay?
Should I try to be trendy?
Or should I just be me?
What if "me" isn't good enough?

What if I hate it?
Can I leave early and go home to my family?

If you really know me, you will understand that this step is a big one. Blog readers know my heart. They have read my dreams. They are aware of my fears.

And I am about to come out from behind the computer screen... as ME.

I still have no idea what I'm going to wear.

- - -
Inspired by one of Mama Kat's prompts from her prompt-generator HERE.
"If you really knew me, you would know that..."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You can never have enough sparkle

I love observing my child as she develops and nurtures her interests. Early on, she displayed a true love for the arts. At age 3 1/2, she sings, dances, acts, colors, paints, and creates.

Our county offers a monthly weekend art class, and I recently signed her up. She made a gorgeous fall tree in September. Today, she decorated a pumpkin. A table full of glitter, glue, stickers, feathers, buttons, shapes, and paints was at her disposal as she released her creativity.

We had a hunch what was coming the moment she selected her paint:

In true Amelia style, we ended up with this:

It is proudly sparkling in the sun by our front door right now.

I am quite certain, no neighbor will have one like it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Huntin' - Ode to October

Stepping gingerly down each row,
How to choose? I do not know.

This one leans a bit to the side,
That one's so ugly it wants to hide.

I touch the stems and feel for bumps,
I don't want one with awkward lumps.

This one is too big,
That one is too small,
How do I find the best one of all?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If Picasso made an autumn tree...

Art class! Celebrating the arrival of Fall.

(By the way, did you know you can color on coffee filters with markers, then spray lightly with water and the colors bleed? A very cool project for kids! Will be trying this again at home soon.)

iPhone Photo Phun

Monday, October 10, 2011

Because I dared to write

In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote,
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

I perused their tweets and lurked quietly into their blog posts. I followed their tales and shared joy from their memories. I felt the familiar twinge of jealousy as I scanned all the comments and tweets among the group; I would never feel such camaraderie.

The Red Dress Club? Looked like fun. However, jumping in myself was an utterly horrifying idea. These were real writers; teachers passing along their gifts to the newest generations, published authors, and bloggers who have already reached a certain level of fame I could only hope to find.

I was not qualified.

It was too scary.

What if they laughed behind their computer screens, baffled by the nerve of this untrained nobody blogger?

The RemembRED memoir prompts were persistent, intriguing me week after week, pulling me to join in. Finally, I took the plunge. Six months ago, I linked up with my very first The Red Dress Club post: First Day.

My stomach fluttered as my sweaty hand guided the mouse to hover the cursor over “publish”. I closed my eyes and quickly, before I could change my mind, clicked. That moment was the scariest. It was the moment I allowed myself to join a group of talented writers. The moment I agreed to call myself a writer. My own kind of writer, perhaps, but a writer nonetheless.

It has been easy from there. Am I a professional writer? No, and I don’t need those credentials. I blog for fun. I blog to relieve my brain when words are building up inside.

And when a prompt inspires?
I write. I link up. I tweet it out. Then I sit back and enjoy the creativity of others.

I am uplifted when I touch someone with mine.

The Red Dress Club has since evolved and has a new name: Write on Edge. Intrigued? Join in! I promise it is not as scary as it seems.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coolest. Gadget. Ever!

The Brookstone store in Lenox Mall was hopping with tech-savvy ladies Thursday night! Several area bloggers were invited to browse the store, touch and feel, and learn all about the amazing products available at Brookstone.

Do you have a gadget guy at home? A husband who is impossible to buy for? Check this out - hands down the coolest new toy I've seen. Every time this was flown in the store, a crowd gathered to watch:

The Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter is sold exclusively at Brookstone. It's not cheap, price is $299. But surely there's a fun-loving person in your life who deserves a treat?

Some of my other favorites?
   The N.A.P. Luxe blanket
   The Squeez Pro foot and calf massager
I would heal my aching feet and calves while cudding the ultra-soft fuzzy blanket. Daily.

Oh - and check out Tweet Your Heart Out - tweet 4 words from their amazing anti-gravity massage chair and you can win one! Entry through 10/31. This chair? Is AMAZING. Really. I didn't want to get up. Ever.

Check out for hundreds of items you never knew you needed, but that make your life a whole lot more fun.

- - -
I was not compensated for this post. I participated in an Atlanta blogger's event and received a goody bag. The post was in no way required from Brookstone. All opinions belong solely to me..

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I wish for you...

Sometimes, a writing prompt gives me an immediate jolt of inspiration. I know what I want to write and how I want to write it.

This week, Mama Kat showed this image that's been floating around Facebook:

And Mama Kat asked... "Who does it make you think about?"

No pondering needed with this one. My thoughts went instantaneously to someone. Not a person who isn't making an effort in my life, but a person who needs to read these words, take them to heart, and get the dead weight out of her life. Forever.

I am not at liberty to talk about it here
    ... which probably makes for a pretty lame blog post.

But it is not my own life to analyze, nor my own life to discuss on the Internet.

But for those of you out there who allow others to manipulate your feelings?
I wish for you strength.

For those who accept letdowns from the same person/people time and time again?
I wish for you self-worth.

And for those who hang on tightly to someone who just cannot give back?
I wish for you power.

The power to know when the time is right... and finally let go.

- - -

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WW: This bed is crowded!

Amelia's bed was crowded this morning!




Amelia & Ladybug
"We're both smiling!"

Also making an appearance in Amelia's bed?
Three small frogs, a turkey, a sleepy lamb, and a wolf.

Slumber party!

iPhone Photo Phun

Link up with @BelleBeanDog and @TamingInsanity for  
iPhone Photo Phun today!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wind and a blur of color

T-shirts and sneakers whiz by in a blur of rainbow colors. Heat from sun-warmed metal radiates through our clothes. Wind lifts my hair, tangles it. The volume of her voice rises and falls as we, too, rise up and glide down, around and around.

Mother and daughter, we survey our domain. We lean to the side, fingers wiggling at the little Daddy down below. I spot a petite train. She exclaims when she sees a playground. Grins are exchanged with nearby riders sharing our little bit of airspace.

Her joy in this moment is worth the nausea to come.

This week's writing prompt from Galit at Write on Edge: "This week I want you to conjure something. An object, a person, a feeling, a color, a season- whatever you like. But don’t tell me what it is, conjure it."  Our limit was 100 words.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sand castle masterpieces... and memories too!

On our way to our beach vacation last week, Amelia was jittery with anticipation.

"Mommy! Look behind us and see if Grandma and Granddad are back there."

I explained (as best as I could to a three-year-old), that Grandma and Granddad were coming from a different direction and we'd meet them at the beach house.

6 minutes later...

"Mommy! Look behind us... NOW are Grandma & Granddad back there?"

- - -

Family beach trip 2011 may have been the best one yet. Amelia was at the perfect age to stay out on the sand digging, running, and building castles. She enjoyed the ocean with little trepidation, giggling as waves splashed against her legs. She happily munched crackers and grapes as her feet swung back in forth from the rainbow beach chair. She chattered and smiled. And she bossed around the six adoring adults who were there, seemingly, just to watch HER play.

And this year? We came together as a family team, once again, to build the best sand castles on the beach. One castle per day, growing larger each day:

Day 1:  The Lagoon Castle

Day 2: The Royal Kingdom

Day 3: Majestic Mountain Castle

Day 4: Mega Castle!

It was fun to build these together as a family. Amelia learned our technique early on, and she even helped for a minute or two. She happily played in and around each castle, and we allowed ourselves a touch of pride when other beach-goers stopped for photos. We brought extra smiles to the beach that week, and solidified some magical memories for ourselves too.
Sand art by Amelia
(c) Sep. 2011
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...