P is for Packages and Notes from the Master. 

A week ago I started up the Stiletto Momma Care Package Factory again. It had been shut down for almost a year, but now with the Older One deployed to Germany and desperate pleas of “Send cookies,” collecting in my inbox,  I’m back in business. 

I baked and shopped and assembled and reassembled (USPS really won’t ship it if it doesn’t fit.) and taped and filled out customs forms and finally shipped it off across the ocean. All 12 pounds of it arrived nine days later to hearty applause and gratitude-filled text messages. Not only had I sent cookies, I sent peanut butter, jelly (Every soldier needs a PB&J fix.), tuna, oatmeal, protein bars, fiber bars, Jolly Ranchers, lip balm, ear plugs (He has 40 roomies, and apparently a few of them snore.), and a letter from his little sister. 

I didn’t know she was going to write him a letter. In fact, she didn’t even let me read it. She just handed me a piece of paper that she had rolled up tightly like a scroll and tied with a piece of green ribbon. 

“Will you send this to my brother,” she asked. I said yes, and instructed her to add it to the top of the box. I didn’t think anything else about it, until the Older One texted yesterday to let me know he got the box. 

That was when he thanked me, not for the cookies or the PB&J supplies, but for his sister’s letter. It made him laugh, he said, and he loved it. 

He responsed to my curiosity (in the form of a text that read, “Huh?”) with a picture of the un-scrolled letter…


I burst into laughter right there in the middle of my cube farm. In that moment, I really didn’t care if I disturbed any of the other worker bees around me. Once the laughter died down, I realized my heart was swelling and I was close to tears, not from the laughing, but from the love my daughter has for my son. 

At home, I told her he had gotten the package and that he loved her letter.

“I wanted to write it funny,” she said, “’cause I thought he might want to laugh at something.”

I gave her a big hug and told her how smart she is.

“Plus,” she said when she pulled away, “I do think he’d make a good Jedi.”

#WeekendCoffeeShare – 4/23/16

If we were having coffee, I’d offer you a pod of Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce, even though I’d hope you’d decline in favor of Breakfast Blend. Cinnamon Dolce is one of my favorites, but it’s pricey as K-Cups go. Don’t expect to find it in my Keurig carousel next weekend. 

Let’s sit in the living room. (It’s cold outside again this morning…errr.) I have got to tell about last night. We had so much fun!

The Hubs and I went to a fundraiser for the hospital. It could have been a boring, stuffy affair, but…well, here…check this out…


Yes, I know! An 80s theme! How cool is that?

Up until 11:00 yesterday morning, I hadn’t actually decided to dress up. Maybe it was Prince’s passing the day before or the Purple Rain ear worm working its way through my brain, but I was feeling nostalgic and decided to go for it. I ran to T.J. Maxx at lunch and lucked out with that Flash Dance-esque top. Then I stopped into the craft store for ribbon. I went with the purple because…you know…Prince. 

The Young One watched me do my hair. When I started teasing my already crazy curly hair, she gave me a, “What the???”  I can’t really blame her. The whole big hair thing is still something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I just told her it’s what we did back then. I did not tell her that I used to perm my naturally curly hair, so it could get even bigger. She was already traumatized. 

Somewhere between shopping and hair and make up, the Older One texted from Germany. He asked what our plans were for the weekend. I texted about dressing like we were back in the 80s. He lol’d, then asked me to send him pictures, so he could use them as blackmail. I explained to him that if it was blackmail he wanted, he should look for the real pictures from back in the day. Tonight, I told him, I knew I was wearing a costume. Back then, I wore it every day and called it a wardrobe!

Anyway, by the time we got to the event and found ourselves seated between Stevie Nix and Devo, I had embraced my inner Valley Girl. 

Oh! Wait! I almost forgot…look…we went Back to the Future too. 

It was, like, the best, like, night in, like, ever!  

Sorry. My Valley Girl keeps showing since last night. 

We danced all night to songs I haven’t heard in decades, and by the time we got back home my feet hurt, and my hair was sticky. I kicked off my stilettos, and grabbed my iPad to wind down a little before bedtime. I knew right away that the Young One had needed a little art therapy after the torture she saw me put my hair through. 

I hadn’t expected to see this though…

  

Okay…okay! Stop laughing!

I need you to tell me something honestly. I’m not a bad mother for letting her see 80s hair, am I?

**Today’s post was inspired by Part Time Monster and the Weekend Coffee Share.

O is for Original Girl

OI love that you say you don’t want to be me when you grow up.

You insist on a simple pony tail with no headband or bow adornment. In your opinion, painting fingernails is a waste of perfectly good video game time. You own just two dresses and one pair of “fancy” shoes, and those are worn under protest.

I love that you complained about dance class and gymnastics.

You prefer field hockey and football. You run like a girl…gloriously fast and strong. You are fearless on the field, and when you tackle a boy during a soccer game, his mom silently cheers and covertly offers me a high-five on the sideline.

I love that you cannot define “traditional”.

You wore a Wonder Woman costume to a princess dress-up party, and the rest of your cosplay wardrobe includes Spider-Man, Darth Vader and a Ninja Turtle. Your career aspirations are police officer, inventor and soldier.

I love that your Barbies are collecting dust.

Your Power Ranger action figures have seen plenty of battle, and your favorite make-believe scenario features a light saber and a conflict between good and evil. At Build-a-Bear, you stroll past the frilly princess bears and have so much trouble choosing between Chewbaka and the Stormtrooper that you convince me get them both. (There’s a BOGO, after all, you say.)

I love that you show no interest in reading Little House on the Prairie.

Your bookshelf holds the entire Captain Underpants series, and you are currently reading your way through Diary of Wimpy Kid.

I love that you turn down every invitation for Frozen sing-alongs.

Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart on the car radio is cause to crank the volume, so you can join me in loudly singing its rock-anthem chorus: “I’m not America’s Sweetheart, but you love me anyway!”

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I love that you are brave and strong and live by your own definition of beautiful.

I love that you know your opportunities are limitless and that stereotypes only get in the way.

I love that you are no one but yourself…my one and only original girl.

N is for Neighbors with Fancy Cocktails

NI wonder if I stood on the sidewalk in front of my house with a pitcher of fancy cocktails, if I would be able to get to know my neighbors.

As of today, I have lived in my new Ohio home for 264 days and have yet to have a significant conversation with the people who live in the houses next door. In fact, if I were to pass them in my friendly neighborhood Kroger, I doubt I would be able to recognize any of them as having a street address close to mine.

When I moved to Louisville almost 17 years ago, I had met and had a conversation with every person on the block by lunchtime. By dinnertime, I had a plate of fresh-baked brownies, a basket of muffins and an invitation to share a home-cooked meal. A few years later, we somewhat reluctantly moved across town and were greeted on moving day with a footrace through the yard as new neighbors rushed to welcome us and offer to carry in the furniture.

I did not anticipate that relocating a mere 114 miles north would take us to a completely different culture. We have, however, crossed the invisible line between the “friendly South” and the “hostile North”, and I am definitely on the wrong side.

We have made plenty of attempts to learn more about these people who call themselves neighbors. We smiled and waved to those who strolled past the house in those early days  only to be rewarded with cautious glances and hurried footsteps. The Young One and I spent hours in the driveway shooting basketball, hoping the sounds of the bouncing ball and laughter would bring out other children and their mommas. We’re still waiting.

Sangrita

It’s as tasty as it looks.

We’ve invited the neighbors to housewarming parties, college football rivalry parties and a Super Bowl party. The only people who showed were other transplants like ourselves who are equally perplexed by this strange world of un-neighborly neighbors. As soon as we get together, the first question asked is, “Guess how many of the neighbors have said, ‘Hi’?”

“None!” we all shout at the same time and clink glasses.

Aside from finding other neighborhood children for my child to play with, I’m not really sure why I want to forge some kind of relationship with the people next door. I suppose I’d like to be sure they aren’t doing illegal things over there. Plus, I think it would be nice to know I have someone close by who actually cares…

Cares enough to ask how I’m settling in…

Cares enough to ask after the MIL’s health…

Cares enough to know my dog’s gotten off her leash…

Cares enough to buy the obligatory box of Thin Mints from the Young One…

Cares enough to ask how the Older One is doing and how I’m doing while he’s so far away…

Last weekend, my Transplant Support Group did our usual toast with a delicious round of Sangritas, a delightful combination of sangria and margaritas whipped up by yours truly. That’s when I started wondering about bribing my neighbors with fancy cocktails.

I think I’ll go make a sign and set up a table next weekend…”Free Fancy Cocktails! Free Friendship! No Strings Attached!”

Speak Up for #CitizenshipForAllAdoptees

Today, several adoptee rights organizations are sponsoring the Adoptee Citizenship Act Day of Action in Washington, DC and around the country in support of The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015, which will amend the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 to provide all intercountry adoptees with the legal protection of U.S. citizenship. It will secure the legal status of older intercountry adoptees, in spite of the failures of the agencies and adoptive parents to complete the naturalization process. Please read the original blog post on Common Ground for more details on this important cause.

common ground

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA 2000) was passed with the intention of providing automatic U.S. citizenship for international adoptees. It has, however, a serious loophole: its provisions do not apply to adoptees who were 18 year of age or older when it went into effect on February 27, 2001.

Because of this gap, many intercountry adoptees (estimates have been as high as 23,000 U.S. adoptees from Korea alone) have been left without this critical legal safeguard. There are two primary reasons for this: adoption agency failure to confirm that citizenship has been obtained by children placed through their services and adoptive parent failure to complete the necessary requirements.

When agencies and parents fail to uphold their responsibilities, adoptees bear the outcome. Some obtain citizenship through their own efforts, but those who do not (sometimes because they are unaware they are not citizens) are at risk of violating U.S…

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Weekend Coffee Share – 4/16/16

Coffee ShareIf we were having coffee, I’d tell you to keep your jacket on. It’s a beautiful spring morning, and I want to have coffee on the patio. The sun is shining today since the the clouds have finally decided to spend their time elsewhere. The trees are full of birds, and their trilling song is what pulled me out of bed before everyone else this morning.

This is my favorite time of the day–that hour before the rest of the house is awake. I can read in peace. I can write in peace. I can sip my coffee leisurely rather than setting the cup down every 10 minutes to make someone’s breakfast, find someone’s socks or have a conversation about the conversation we had last night.

Why is it that the rest of the family interprets the sight of me with a book and a cup of coffee as an invitation to ask me to do something? They’re jealous, aren’t they, or maybe they are threatened by my Kindle. I can’t blame them–that six inch anti-glare screen has a tendency to pull me in and not let me go for hours on the weekend. But really…they can have my undivided attention every waking hour of any other day. Just give this one hour of peace and quiet on the patio this morning.

img_0226Anyway, even though the sun is shining, it’s still a little chilly, and Fluffy and Furry have already claimed the sunny spots on the love seat. You probably want to keep your jacket on unless, of course, you want to fight the pups for the sun. I warn you though, Fluffy is a diva this early in the morning, and she won’t be happy if you displace her.

You could try for Furry’s spot as well, but he’s old and frail and probably doesn’t have too many more sunny mornings on the patio in his future. Why would you take that away from him? Why?

Just leave your jacket on and sit in the that shady spot over there. It’s still a nice place to sit on an early spring morning.

I hope you brought a book to read.  We won’t be having much of a conversation this morning.  I just started the Outlander series, and I’d like to spend an hour or so in Scotland before I have to help the Young One get ready for her soccer game.

If we were having coffee, we’d silently sit on the chilly patio with the dogs sunning themselves and the birds singing high above us. We’d have a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, a book in the other, and we’d enjoy the quiet before a busy day.

**Today’s post was inspired by Part Time Monster and the Weekend Coffee Share.

M is for Magic Eight Ball Tells No Tales

MEveryone experiences moments of uncertainty—those times when no matter how hard you think, you just can’t find the answer. You’re under pressure to deliver, but for the life of you, you can’t make a decision.

I was going through such a time yesterday. I needed an answer, but my brain just wouldn’t cooperate. I asked the Young One for suggestions. I even went to the Hubs for help, but unfortunately this is neither of their areas of expertise. It is all up to me.

So, late last night as I lay sleepless, I knew what I needed to do. It smacked of desperation, but I honestly could not think of an alternative.

I needed to ask the Almighty Eight to give me clarity. Under the cover of darkness, I crept into the Young One’s room. It sat on the nightstand, shining in the moon-glow. Its one round white eye beaconed me into the room.

I picked it up, and found its weight oddly comforting. The faint slosh from its insides whispered to me like an old friend.

Quietly, I began the ritual…

Shake, shake, shake. “Oh, Gr-Eight One,” I chanted. “Will I be able to come up with a good blog post starting with the letter ‘M’ tomorrow?”

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Photo Source: David Bergin (CC by 2.0)

A slow turn for the answer…

“Outlook not so good.”

Just as I feared.

A thought crossed my mind. Maybe I had been too specific with my question. I tried again.

Shake, shake, shake. “Oh, Gr-Eight One, will I write an ‘M’ blog post tomorrow?”

Turn. Wait for bubbles to clear…

“As I see it YES.”

*Whew*

The weight of the burden I had carried all day fell from my shoulders. Finally, I had clarity. I would succeed in publishing the “M” installment of my A to Z Challenge. It just wouldn’t be a particularly good one. I can live with that.

I returned the orb to its spot on the stand and walked back to my own bedroom. Not long after, I fell into a sound sleep protected by the knowledge that the Magic Eight Ball tells no tales.

L is for Laugh Like No One’s Listening

LWhen I was still living in Louisville, I looked forward to my bi-weekly yoga classes. The instructor was one of the best I’d ever had leading me through a yoga practice.

She was young and optimistic yet very spiritual and inspiring. She would begin each class telling us a story about her weekend and tie it back around to being balanced or living life with intention. Then she would lead us through a challenging practice that left me feeling drained and energized at the same time.

It was, as yoga should be, the perfect balance.

The universe, though, is tricky and likes to tip the scales a little every now and then just to make sure we’re paying attention. Such a nudge happened not long before I moved when I walked into class and found *gasp* a substitute.

I almost turned around and walked out, but I’m not normally afraid of change, so I decided to give her a try. The practice was fine–a good mix of vinyasa and warrior poses.

We were almost finished when the universe gave another nudge. I was ready to end the practice as usual with corpse pose when, instead of instructing us to lie down, the substitute told us to take a comfortable seat.

 “Let’s laugh,” she said.

The expressions on everyone’s face was a variation of, “Huh? What’d she just say?”

“Laughter is powerful,” she continued as if she hadn’t just lost everyone a second ago, “It calms us, makes us feel lighter, and restores our spirits.”

She instructed us to close our eyes and try a few, “Ha-ha’s”.  It was quiet except for her own chuckles.

“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks,” she said. “Put a smile on your face, and laugh.”

Soon, I heard a faint giggle from the back corner, a gaffaw from somewhere to my right, and a full-on belly-laugh from the front. Within seconds the room was rumbling with laughter…deep, high, loud, soft, each laugh as different as each variation of crow pose.

What started as stilted turned to genuine, and after a full minute, the room was filled with roaring laughter. I’m sure the muscle heads in the weight room next door were complaining about the “slackers” in group exercise.

After another minute, the laughter died down, and as everyone regained their composure, I realized our sub was right. I did feel lighter and calmer and just as restored as if I’d spent the last two minutes in the ultimate relaxation pose…maybe even more so.
img_0223-2 Today, April 14, is International Moment of Laughter Day, so take a minute to laugh, even if you find nothing humorous about your circumstances, put a smile on your face, and laugh like no one’s listening.

You’ll feel better for it. I promise.

K is for Kid Conspiracy

KCrossing the Young One’s room lately has been like walking through a mine field of dirty socks, crumpled t-shirts and discarded yoga pants. Her soccer jersey is in a pile by the closet door, and a towel hangs from the edge of a mirror.

The socks freak me out. I find them everywhere…on a dresser, under blankets, on a lamp shade, in toy boxes, tumbling off bookshelves, hanging from a towel hook in the bathroom.

I need to understand why this is happening and how to make it stop.

“What is going on with your socks…with all your clothes for that matter?” I asked, scooping up a stray fuzzy slipper sock from the corner of her nightstand. “Why are you not putting your dirty clothes in your hamper?”

“Well,” she said with all innocence and big eyes. “That’s what he said to do. It’s fun. Watch.”

sock

Sorry, Fuzzy Face.

She bent down, pulled a sock to the tip of her toe and gave a kick. I watched it arch across the room and land with a soft plop on the head of an American Girl doll.

“Who…is…he,” I said calmly, even though I was furiously thinking, “Once I find this kid, I’m going to beat him with a dirty soccer sock.”

“My brother,” she smiled.

“Your…who?” I stammered in my shock at her revelation.

“Myyyy…brrrooootherrrr,” she enunciated slowly, clearly thinking my hearing was fading.

“He did what!”

“Momma! Pay attention!” she snapped and then flung another sock through the air. This one landed on her pillow.

At that moment, that oldest child of mine was pretty lucky to be safely residing in Germany.

However, now that I think about it, his part in the state of total disarray in his sister’s bedroom makes perfect sense. His was never a particularly tidy room when he was growing up. I remember laundry days where his contribution to the dirty clothes was conspicuously slim.

Add to that a recent trip home, the loud thumps and laughter echoing from the second floor and a serious case of hero worship, and I have a true kid conspiracy on my hands.

Now that she was busted, I was able to adequately carry out a threat punishment that fit her crime.  For every night, I find dirty clothes in random locations no where near her hamper, she will be fined one dollar.  She may not get an allowance, but she does get birthday/Christmas/Tooth Fairy money. She saves it like a miser, so the thought of losing it just to watch footwear fly is daunting.

Now, how to deal with the Older One? He’s thousands of miles away bravely serving his country, so the punishment for this betrayal of household cleanliness can’t be too harsh.

I could call his commanding officer and explain the situation. No, that’s probably crossing a line.

I could call his girlfriend! No, she was probably in on the conspiracy too.

Hmmm…

I know!  I have recently become aware of an opportunity to procure several boxes of Girl Scout cookies that went unsold during his sister’s Brownie troop cookie booth sale last month. I’m going to hold the Thin Mints and Samoas hostage!

I’ll have an apology in no time.

J is for Jersey Numbers

JI don’t have just one lucky number. I have five: 48…64…55…57…16.

I can’t see the number 48 without thinking of my son. That was the number he wore on his back for seven football seasons. He first claimed that number at age seven when he started playing tackle football.

It was a magical season. Prior to that year, the team had the dubious honor of being labeled the worst team in the league—the team all the other teams figured as an automatic win. That season, however, saw a change in coaching staff which took the team to an undefeated season and a city championship.

Jersey 48

The cutest #48 ever.

He fell in love with football while wearing the number 48, and fought to keep it throughout his youth football career. To this day, I feel a jolt of excitement when I see 48 on a football player. It is quickly followed by a twinge of irritation because I know in my heart no other player is worthy of wearing that number.

I feel the same with 64—his jersey number in high school. I have my own team hoodie with the number displayed across its back. I wore it to every game. It’s been six years since he wore that number, but I still have the hoodie hanging in my closet. It brings a smile every time I see it.

Jersey 64

“Six and four is 10!”

Sixty-four was also the number that proved to me my youngest was a genius. She was three-years-old at the time, and while prepping her to find her brother on the field, I told her to look for number 64. “Sixty-four,” I explained simply, “is the numbers six and four put together.”

At the game, I quizzed her. “What’s six and four, honey?”

She waved her little pom-poms in the air and gave her biggest cheerleader yell… “TEN!” (See, she’s a genius!)

Next came 57, his jersey number for his first year of college football with the Army Black Knights. It was later changed to 55, then back to 57 and back to 55 again. These are good strong numbers, and I like to think they were fighting for the privilege of riding his shoulder pads.

The number 16 was added to the list a few weeks ago when the Young One played in her first competitive soccer tournament.  We had ordered her uniforms–more like a soccer wardrobe complete with two sets of game uniforms, training gear, warm ups and bag to carry it all–weeks before the tournament, but two days before the first game, we still didn’t have them. The backup plan was to borrow a jersey from another girl who was going to skip the tournament

As the newest girl on the team, the Young One had a strong desire to fit in with her teammates. Without a uniform and her very own number, though, that task (in her eight-year-old mind anyway) was utterly hopeless.

I checked my email every hour on the hour for a notification that the uniforms were ready. Game day arrived…still no uniform.  Ours was a late afternoon game, so we decided to make one last desperate run by the soccer store just in case they forgot to send me an email. We gave our name at the counter and waited…and waited…and waited.

Finally, the saleswoman came out of the storeroom, arms loaded with a plastic wrapped bundle. “Here you go,” she said. “We were just waiting on a pair of shorts to come in, but you can take what we have now.”

Jersey 16

The Big Jersey Number Reveal!

The Young One squealed and looked desperately through the plastic, but the number she was so desperate to see was buried under layers of cotton and Nike logos. I could tell she wanted to tear the package open right there in the store. Being the cool momma I am, I made her wait until we got home.

When we finally made it through the door, she tore off the plastic to reveal her personal magic number…16!

“I’m number 16! I’m number 16!” she chanted as she jumped up and down.

I have to agree with her enthusiasm.  Number 16 is pretty awesome. How could it not be? She’s going to wear it on her back for years, and she’s going to make it just as great as her brother made every number he wore.