Flashback Friday: Man's Best Friend (Emphasis on Man's)

"Is Calli a boy or a girl dog?" Caed asked.

"She's a girl," I replied.

"Well, if she's a girl, then why does she follow Daddy around everywhere and like him the best, but not you?"

Good question, Son.

I think I can trace the shift in loyalty back to the point in time when Daddy allowed her to sleep on the bed. She was but a wee pup, the runt of the litter, and she couldn't bear the thought of spending the whole night on the floor beside our bed. It was just too far away by springer standards. So after she whimpered and whined for 20 minutes, your Daddy asked, "What can it hurt to let her up?"

Well, you know what they say. If you give a dog an inch, they'll take a mile. Or maybe just the spot on your pillow.

When you were first born, Calli made a habit of moving to my spot (my pillow!!) every time I got up to feed you. She'd hear you cry, wait a few minutes for me to vacate the premises and then plop herself down right on the sheet as if it was exactly where she belonged.

One night when I was particularly tired, I confess I slept through a solid five minutes of your cries. But Calli didn't.She heard the crying, waited the appropriate five minutes and then moved up to her rightful spot at the head of the bed--my pillow.

Only problem? I was still on it. Oh yes she did. That dog circled twice and laid down directly on my face.

Needless to say, I woke up. Quickly.

If you ask her about the situation, she'd probably concoct some excuse about how she was emulating Lassy. But, you know, instead of the typical Timmy's stuck in the well....she was trying to tell us Caed needs to eat! Yeah, nice try, girl.

The truth is, she only has eyes for Daddy. She just uses me to get to my pillow.


Your turn! It's an open theme today, so anything goes as long as it requires you to go back in time a bit. You can link up an old post, write a new story about an old memory, post embarrassing 80s pictures, you get the idea. Just be sure to link to your specific post and not just your blog.

Happy Friday!


The Last Word

The wind slams doors, dots the yard with cans and cardboard, making dandelions look sweet by comparison. The trees throw tantrums in return, blossomed fists flailing at the sky.

I sit on the other side of the glass, in stillness and silence save the whir of the dishwasher. But beneath my sheltered skin pounds a wind-blown heart, a thousand thoughts knotted and wild from the wind. I feel about as rooted as the soda bottle floating across my yard. (And to give you an example, I don't even know whether I call it soda or pop or coke. Where am I from, anyway?)

I hear howling in the windy landscape of my head. I hear that I don't belong anywhere and that I never will. That I am not getting enough done (and that I shouldn't be writing unless it is for that article due in two days--that I'm just wasting time). I hear a list--line by line by scary line--of things I cannot control. I hear Anxiety conspiring with Uneasiness about how they'll convince me to throw away a perfectly good month of Maine sunshine. Uggh. Why do I put up with those two?

If ever there was a time to take these pointless thoughts captive, it is now. And so louder than the lonely-not-belonging, I shout back the promise of eternal home. I shush the task-driven stress and give voice to the wisdom of being still, of knowing He is God. I scratch out that growing can't-control-it-list and write on top: NOT. ONE. CUBIT. Whatever a cubit is, I know I can't add it by worrying.

And so goes the daily argument between Faith and Unbelief.
Oh, that Faith would always have the last word.


Piling Up

Blogging is a bit like laundry. Words pile up like wrinkled pants and scrunched socks and I think to myself, I should sort those out tonight, start a load, write a post--before I forget and before we run out of clean jammies.

And then I don't. And the next night comes along. And not only are we out of clean jammies, but the words are piled so high in my head that I can't think straight. I open up the screen and stare. Where do I start?

The first few paragraphs I type come out accidentally bleached, white with "he did this", muted with "she did that". And then I delete. Because my demons taught me that if you can't write something good, don't write anything at all. I backspace my way back to a blank page.

I stare some more.

And then I go to bed, tell myself I'll write tomorrow. On my way to sleep I decide my words are officially bottle necked, jammed like barbecue sauce in a full bottle. And then I smile to myself because here I thought I had this great analogy, but I can't keep a straight face when I picture myself the shape of a bottle, flailing upside down to extract honey-chipotle flavored words.

(Also, I confess it just took me no less than 8 tries to spell barbecue correctly.)

I realize I've made a mess of this point. I should know better than to mix metaphors of laundry and barbecue sauce. But this is where I'm at. I'm spending far more time decluttering the house than decluttering my head. And while that bodes well for the condition of my hall closet, the deep-down me only piles higher.

Tomorrow, I think. Tomorrow I'll sort it out, tackle the piles.

See? Blogging really is like laundry.


Speaking of blogging, remember Flashback Friday? Yeah, me neither. Oh, I kid. I remember. I just am a wee bit behind on choosing a theme, much less writing a post. So let's go for it again this Friday, but with an open topic. If you must have a prompt for inspiration, try writing about:
1) Your first home (as a child, as a grownup, whatever)
2) A time of change
3) A memory from the 80s. I know, RAAAANdom. But the 80s are just so flashback-able, you know?


The Quotable Kids: Animal Edition

"Mom, why don't we have a cat?" he asked.

"Because I'm not much of a cat person. I like dogs." I replied.

"Yeah, cats are boring. All they do is walk around and sneak up on people."

"Mom, how do animals work at the hospital?" he asked.

"Well, their job is to help cheer people up...." (Insert long-winded explanation about the link between happiness and health, and the joy that animals can bring to long-term care patients.)

"Yes, I bet the dogs do a good job. But not turtles. They would just be like sitting there doing nothing and staring at people." (Insert imitation of a turtle climbing the stairs at the hospital and then laying around.)


Caed isn't the only quotable kid around here these days. Dani is stepping up to the plate with some fun stuff as well, although it's far more fun when you hear it directly from her little voice. This morning I caught her with her hands around Calli's face, staring down the poor dog saying, "Now you need ta listen to my words. You do NOT step on my puzzle and wreck it up cuz dat is making a BAD choice, ohKAY?"
Calli's response, of course, was to lick Dani's face. To which Dani threw her head back and giggled. If ever a dog is going to heaven, it's my Calli-girl. She's a saint for the way she puts up with her little sister.


City Mouse Versus Country Mouse

We are home after a week of house hunting, and I simply cannot decide whether I am a city mouse or a country mouse.

I wake up feeling in love with the little old houses oozing charm at the expense of closet space, standing shoulder to shoulder on the tree-lined street like smiling toy soldiers. I picture myself walking the kids to the library, to school, to the park, to grab a cocoa and a coffee. I envision cook outs and community and a short commute.

And then I go to sleep picturing myself lounging on a deck on a summer's evening, gazing into a dark wood while the crickets fiddle a thousand good nights. I imagine Larry stoking the fire in the wood burning stove while the snow silently spreads a blanket on the lawn. I wonder if when Saturday breaks on the country lot, my children might already be the age at which I say, "Go play!", sending them into familiar acres behind the house to explore creeks and to fashion twigs into forts.

Of course, I could be happy anywhere as long as we are together as a family. But it doesn't stop me from asking--from wondering--what suits us best? Where will we be the happiest? What is the best choice for us?

So what are you--a city mouse or a country mouse? What do you love most about the city or the country? And--whether you know me outside of this blog or not--what do you picture me as--the city or country type? (C'mon! We could use some swaying to one side or the other. Although, that being said, if we end up where you sway us and hate it, you know Larry is going to blame the blog for all eternity. But no pressure or anything.)


In Which I Wear my Grateful Little Sister Hat

The days (and children) bounce past me in a blur.
There is so much I want to remember and to write. But I have shifted close to my entire supply of "record the moments" time to the wildly obsess over finding a place to live "hunt for houses" column.

My sister cleared her entire week to help me on the hunt. She put on her school teacher hat when we visited elementary schools, her organizer/visionary hat when we visited houses, and her auntie hat when she declared we would have smores on a school night.

(And I don't think I've taken off the deeply grateful little sister hat since I stepped foot in her home.)
(Confession: I almost titled this post "I Couldn't Ask for Smore". But it registered so high on the Corny-Cheesy index that even I recognized it and rolled my eyes at myself in response.)


Long-Lost No Longer

Happiness for a five year old boy?
Staying up to play foosball with his long lost cousin twin, five years removed. They share buzz cuts, bright eyes, left-handedness, a love of all things athletic, and good old-fashioned DNA.

And happiness for the five year old boy's Mama?
Knowing from here on out, I'll never have to describe the cousins as "long-lost" again.

This sweet little-big gift shared with Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped.


Flashback Friday: Our First Family Vacation

He was a year and four chins old when we took our first family vacation. He was as happy a baby as he was pudgy. And did I mention he was too cool for school?
I mean, how many toddlers do you know that can do such a spot on Dr. Evil impression?
And what's a vacation without naps in the hammock with Daddy?
Or, if you happen to be the oft-neglected dog, what's a vacation without a little game of surf and fetch?
And to top it all off, some of our best friends in the whole wide world joined us for the week-long beach hiatus. Even at 12 and 21 months, Caed and Max were inseparable.
(And yes, those are some serious cankles he's got going on.)


Your turn! Write a post (or unearth an old one) that takes us down memory lane, and then come on back here to link it up. Pretty please?
Oh, and just a heads up that we'll be taking a break from Flashback Friday next week, returning to regularly scheduled programming on April 30th.


Today I Woke Up

Last night I had a dream.
She was suddenly falling, my little girl, through murky water, down and down and down. And I was in the water too, and I couldn't sink fast enough to catch her. And there seemed to be no bottom (to what in my dream I called Lake Erie), and I couldn't reach her. I couldn't. And when I lost sight of her altogether--when I caught the last glimpse of her fine hair floating up as her little limbs sped down--I woke myself up from the grief I couldn't bear to dream about much less live.

Now I'm sitting outside in real life, and she is wearing two shades of pink on top, two shades of purple on bottom and a Harley Davidson helmet on her head. She wheeled her tricycle aside, and now with slip-on shoes slipped on the wrong feet, she's dribbling her pink soccer ball into the net that stands half as tall as she is. (How ever did she get so tall?) So far, she's made five goals and we've exchanged five high fives. Oh wait--make that six.

When horrors happen under real waters or on top of real operating tables, when life falls apart on the driveway, in a court room, down a back alley, we hear it said. I just wish I could wake up, that this was all just a bad dream.

Today I woke up. It was just a bad dream. Today I live what so many have wished. Today I am wide awake to the joy that stands in direct opposition to the grief, to the losing that makes the finding a gushing relief. Today I am wide, wide awake.


In case you are at all curious about Flashback Friday

Before I forget AGAIN, just a quick note about this week's Flashback Friday. Here are a few prompts to help you come up with a fantastic flashback:

  • A memory involving spring
  • Tales from spring break
  • Family vacation
  • Road trips
Start jogging your memory, and we'll see you back here Friday!


Playing (with) Favorites

Once upon a weekend, there was a girl (who liked to pretend to be a Doggie-Princess) and a boy (who liked to make up games for the Doggie-Princess-Girl to play, really just so he could be the boss). And after the Boss-Game-Boy and the Doggie-Princess-Girl had transported every last blanket, toy and book to the "doggie house" in the kitchen, the Mommy (did we mention her yet?) couldn't take it anymore.

"That's it!" she barked. "Let's clean up this mess. Let's get on our shoes! We're going outside."

"But ruff-ruff, doggies don't wear shoes, ruff." Said the Doggie-Princess-Girl.
"Yes they do. Here Doggie, see if you can go faster than me getting on your shoes. Nope! I won already!" Said the Boss-Game-Boy.

"Grrrr." Thought the Mommy.

But she knew. She knew if she could just get in that car (and get those shoes on the Doggie-Girl), if she could just head toward the misty air, it would all be okay.

And she was right.

Because no sooner did they head down the Cliff Walk, the Doggie-Princess-Girl magically turned back into the Mommy's favorite little girl. And the Boss-Game-Boy magically turned back into the Mommy's favorite little boy.

And the Grumpy Mommy magically turned back into the Grateful Mommy--the one who realizes what a treat it is to play with her favorites.


Flashback Friday: Forgetful

Umm...soooo...apparently it is Friday today?
And from what I can gather, I usually host a little Flashback Friday series here on the old (increasingly neglected) blog. But alas, I didn't provide a theme for the week, nor did I write a flashback post.

I'm blaming this week's floor-mopping frenzy for my Flashback Friday forgetfulness (and more specifically, a little too much exposure to Murphy's oil soap). I'm blaming my ridiculous indulgence in alliteration on my 10th grade English teacher.

So how about this. Let's just run with the theme of FORGETFULNESS. Write about a time when you forgot something or someone. Or write about an experience or person that was UNFORGETTABLE. Or write about whatever you please. Then come on back here and link up. Sound good?


Mine, For the Trying

I stared for a few moments at a Monet painting, shrugged my shoulders and walked away unimpressed. If his name had not been on it, if it had been hanging in a hole-in-the-wall gallery, I might have even dismissed it as amateur, a Monet wannabe.

Monet was undoubtedly a master artist. But does that mean everything he painted was a masterpiece? I don't think so. I've come to believe that even master artists paint with mediocre strokes now and then. I've come to believe that all great artists, writers, leaders have, at one (or many points) flopped and floundered.

And so I take that truth and turn it into freedom to allow mediocre strokes to slip into my life's art. Surely it is better to dip the brush in color and begin the painting-living (no matter how ugly the outcome) than to stare at a blank canvas, paralyzed by fear of failing at a masterpiece attempt?

So I must try, and not despair when I fall short, when I fail to inspire. I must try again. And again, until the failing becomes not nearly as scary as the not trying.

And maybe, when I stand back enough years, I'll see--what once looked up close like nothing but messy strokes and blurred colors--a vivid, inspiring masterpiece. Mine, for the trying.


What do you find scarier--the failing or the not trying?
Is there an area of your life that you've held back, left the canvas blank? What will it take for you to dip your brush in color and begin?


Front Row Moments

I watch her, running barefoot on the lukewarm lawn and blowing bubbles (really, more like spitting) against the breeze. And I feel like the luckiest girl alive, to be her mother.
And to be here, not missing this. Not missing her.
I know I can only sign up for a moment at a time. I've tried, but I can't convince Tomorrow to save me a spot. I'm not guaranteed a seat in the next moment, next day, next season. But I do have a seat right now--front row to the beauty that sends my heart leaping.

And I would be a fool not to claim it--the best seat in the house, to lean into the moment, to applaud and to answer "yes" when she asks "Did you see that Mama?", to say I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Sharing this post with Tuesdays Unwrapped, hosted by Emily at Chatting at the Sky.


And So We Did

I texted Daddy to let him know where we'd be, in case he made an early escape. He texted back to say how he wished he could join us. Take pictures, he said.

And so I did.

I told them to yell, "Hi Daddy!"
And so they did.We explored every unfenced nook and cranny of the fort. Along the way, Dani became enthralled with her shadow. "Hold my hand, Mommy," she commanded. And then not ten seconds later, she scolded me, "Hey! You're breaking my shadow! Stop breaking my shadow!" I let go of her hand. "You better run ahead," I said. "It's the only way to fix your shadow."

And so she did.
"Hey Bud! Sit down here and smile really big," I told him.
And so he did. (So big he shut his eyes, threw back his head and said "OCEAN!")

We explored up close.
We gazed from far away.

We read every sign, the ones educating us about the battery and submarines, the ones reminding us to keep off the light house lawn. And when we were through, we all grabbed hands and blended shadows.

I thought to myself that I must savor this, these fleeting moments with my girl of 3 and boy of 5, this beauty that won't always be waiting for us a few miles away.

And so I did.


I Remember Sisters & Spring

I remember the posing tree, the one Uncle Bruce would use for staging, motioning to this side and that, chins up and smile.

I remember the accidental bursts of summer in late spring, when Mom would pull the hand-me-down clothes from the attic. How I clamored like a homesteader to try the ruffly sundress on first, staking my gingham claim.

I remember the sidewalks, the ones that scraped knees and etched grooves into the plastic of my Big Wheel.

I remember the mint growing next to the brick house, how it perfected the sun tea.

I remember the clothes line and the stiff feel of wind-blown terrycloth.

I remember the seedlings under the lights, the promise of a garden.

I remember feeling like the whole world revolved around whether we'd get a dessert--and whether it was carrot cake or brownies--or if we'd be allowed to stay up later. Just 15 minutes more?

I remember sisters and spring and climbing a tree so high that I swayed when the wind blew.
I remember wishing to be all grown up. But for the life of me, now, I can't remember why.

I'd love for you to join in with your own flashback. Share a memory, a story, a picture from your past and then paste the link to your post using the MckLinky form.

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