New Year! New Shoes!

I finally have one room back to its pre-holiday condition. The twinkling lights are dark once more, and the faux-fir has been smashed into its canvas carrier where it will rest peacefully for the next 10 months. I’ll eventually get around to unwinding the garland strung so elegantly on my banister and mantel, but for now I feel extremely productive having finally found a home for the presents Santa left under the tree.

In this post-holiday let-down period, I admit to getting a little distracted as I admired all the newness I rediscovered while putting away Christmas. I sorted out stacks of sweaters, games and toys and wondered which of these gifts from friends and family will still make me smile come December 31, 2015.

Maybe it will be the fancy Fitbit bracelet from the Hubs. Its golden finish complements my workday attire quite a bit more than the silicone band that came with my wearable fitness device. I’m sure it will be in heavy rotation in my jewelry wardrobe, but with fitness device accessories still in their infancy, I expect a new generation of workout bling to eventually attract my attention.

The Starbuck’s gift card from the Older One has some potential. It will definitely see some heavy use over the next few days as I return to the office and remember how easy it is to walk across the street for an afternoon java jolt. So easy, that I anticipate exceeding the balance on that card well before the end of the month.

The Young One and I have definitely enjoyed discovering the joys of Easy Bake Oven desserts, but I’m not sure how much enjoyment savoring a chocolate chip cookie the size of a quarter can bring in the dead of winter.

No sooner did I dismiss these gifts of providing total-year pleasure than my hand reached for a shoe–gold, shiny and pointed in all the right places. It was perfect–in a two-dimensional kind of way.

Shoes

This gift, a calendar full of shoes, came from my parents, and offers unending joy every time I turn the page–365 new shoes! What more could a woman who calls herself Stiletto Momma possibly want.

The introduction to the calendar alone makes my pulse race:

More than any other retail pleasure, shoe shopping leaves us breathless. It is akin to bringing new toys home from the store when you were a child: You play with them endlessly, trying them on with every outfit you have, then wearing them perhaps too much at the start. Few purchases induce such euphoria.

A little daily dose of euphoria might just be the treatment for surviving the ups and downs in store for me and my family in 2015. We have plenty of those in the works already, and we’re only on day four. This will definitely be an eventful year, and with any lucky, I’ll get through it with a smile on my face and, quite possibly, a new pair of shoes on my feet!

**Today’s post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge to celebrate what is new.

20 Things to Tell My Son About Love

Every time I think about my son, I have to remind myself he is a young man. A thought brings him to mind, and I see a little boy crawling into his daddy’s BDUs or a little football player struggling to stand straight in full equipment. I have to quickly brush those images away and replace them with those of the 20-year-old who wears his own Army uniforms and talks about his future in terms of car loans and marriage.

During his most recent visit home, he spent just as much time at his girlfriend’s house as he did at his own. He rang in the New Year with her and just a few short weeks later, they spent a long weekend together celebrating 500th Night on the campus of the US Military Academy–a formal event marking the occasion of the cadets’ last 500 nights at West Point.

500 Night

Love is helping each other be your best.

My little boy, always too focused on sports and school to give much attention to romance, is getting serious. So on this eve of the chocolate and flower covered celebration of love that is St. Valentine’s Day, I feel the need to help him understand just how serious getting serious can be and how to make it last if she is serious about being serious too.

Sweet Boy, here are the things you need to know about being in love.

  1. Valentine’s Day will come, and Valentine’s Day will go. But when your true Valentine finally comes to you, it’s your job to never let her go.
  2. Don’t let a date on the calendar determine when you say, “I love you.” If you’re being honest when you say it, you’ll want to say it all the time, and she’ll want to hear it.
  3. Be generous with your time. Relationships don’t stop blooming once you say those three little words. Sit with her. Laugh with her. Be with her.
  4. Talk often. Love’s foundation is built on communication. Without it, you stand on shaky ground.
  5. Listen. Listen. Listen.
  6. Learn everything there is to know about this woman who will share your life. (See steps 3 – 5.)
  7. Master the mundane. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Cut the grass. In the long run, those little acts of kindness are the things that make the difference.
  8. Share a thing. Find something you enjoy doing together, and do it…together. Swimming, hiking, reading, watching paint dry. The thing doesn’t matter, but the sharing of the experience does.
  9. Be comfortable in the silences.
  10. Make time for yourself. The best parts of the couple are the individual people who make it. Don’t lose what it is that makes you you.
  11. Let her have time for herself too. Let her be her.
  12. Empower her to stand on her own two feet. With your career in the military, you will spend days, week, months apart, and she will need to be Army Strong.
  13. Be supportive. She has her own dreams. Let her know they are important to you too.
  14. Don’t let others make decisions for you. This is your relationship. Friends and family mean well, but they don’t have your heart. In some things, only you can decide.
  15. Never let an opportunity to say “I love you” pass. Don’t ever assume she knows it.
  16. Tell her you love her without saying a word…a quick smile, a secret glance, a private joke shared between best friends.
  17. Share your secrets.
  18. Share your dreams.
  19. Nurture a dream together.
  20. Always, always, ALWAYS remember your momma wants only to see you happy. I am the girl who has loved you the longest. From the second I heard your first cry, I have held your heart with gentle hands, please pass it on to someone who will take good care of it and who will make it beat strong and joyously. Love is a precious thing. Mine for you grows stronger every day, and my wish for you is that find your own true love, nurture it and share it. This is serious.

Love you forever,

Momma

***This post was inspired by the Weekly Writing Challenge prompt “My Funny Valentine.”

Driving Do-Rags and Destiny

What am I doing here?

This is all kinds of “not me”. Sitting in a dark car outside some stranger’s apartment building, heat blasting through the vents of the old ’78 Ford and Jon Bon Jovi telling me the trials of living on a prayer from the cassette in the tape deck.

This better not be a mistake. I hope she knows what she’s doing. Of course, she’s half drunk already and it’s only 8:23.

Wait, it’s 8:23? I’ve been sitting here almost 15 minutes now! What can be taking so long? She was supposed to go in, find him, and come right back out. All I’m supposed to do is drive…and wait apparently.

I have no clue who this guy is. She said she met him in her chem class. For all I know he has bottle-thick glasses and buck teeth. Chemistry. Complicated math. Test tubes and Bunsen burners. It all spells “geek” to me.

When we were planning all this back at our apartment, she said he was cool, but…, I don’t know. This just feels weird.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been the driver. Or maybe it’s because we’ve never done this with some guy we barely know.

Does that clock seriously say 8:29, now? What is taking her so long?

Should I go in and get her?

No. I don’t know where to look. She didn’t give me an apartment number. She said his name…but was it Mark? Matt?

Ohhh! I don’t know!

Let’s go already! Come on. Come on. Come. On.

Wait a minute.

Is that her? Yes! Finally, we can get out of here!

Just be cool. Just be cool. I don’t want this guy to think I’m nervous or new at this. She probably told him I’m the cool roommate. The one who’s 21 .The one who has the car. The driver for this little adventure.

I see her, but where’s the chem nerd? That can’t be him walking a step behind her….Can it?

No way! Now he’s beside her, and they are both heading straight toward my car.

This cannot be happening!

If that is some geeky chemistry nerd, I need to seriously check my definitions. Here he comes…swaggering?…yep, that’s a swagger…toward me in these black leather boots that he probably thinks make him look tall, and I bet he’s at least six foot to start with. And that biker jacket! It doesn’t do anything to hide the muscles underneath it. Plus the dark scruff on his chin, and…is that a do-rag on his head???!!!

This is not good. This is not good! What has she done?

Oh, crap, they’re getting closer!

Don’t let him sit in the front. Don’t let him sit in the front. Don’t let him sit in the front. Please don’tlethimsitintheFRONT!

They’re opening the doors!

They’re getting in, and…HE’S SITTING IN THE FRONT!

I can’t believe she did this to me, but she’s back there laughing at some joke told on the other side of the door, and then there’s introductions and a sing-songy high-pitched, “Hiiii” from me and then a CLAP! as he slaps his hands and rubs them together.

“Whoo hoo hoo!” he booms in a big voice and smiles in a way that softens his entire rough face. “Let’s get this party started!”

And just like that, I’m pulling away from the curb, en route to a Friday night party with my college roommate chattering excitedly in the backseat, and to my right is some would-be hoodlum.

Me and the hoodlum at a more formal affair. (It was the '80's. Please forgive the hair!)

Me and the hoodlum at a more formal affair. (It was the ’80’s. Please forgive the hair!)

And the hoodlum turns out to be a pretty nice guy who gallantly offers to parallel park my big boat of a car when we finally get to that party…and who barely drinks the liberally flowing beer so he can carry on a coherent conversation with me…and who helps see my intoxicated roomy back to our apartment then stays to talk until 5 a.m….and who takes me out on a real date the next night.

Who was that menacing leather-clad do-rag-bound hoodlum?

He turned out to be my hubby.

Whew!

***Today’s post was written in response to the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge to write in the style of Gonzo journalism. What’s that, you ask?

“Gonzo journalism differs from typical reporting in that Gonzo journalists renounce claims of objectivity, often place themselves in the story as a first-person narrator, and include verbatim dialogue to capture and convey their first-hand experiences. The work can often have a “stream-of-consciousness” feel to it.” –Wordpress Daily Post

In doing so, I also accidentally wrote a post that addresses today’s Zero to Hero bonus assignment to explore a different blogging voice.

I hope you enjoyed the story of how I met my husband.  It’s all true…even the do-rag!

Wiping the Whiteboard Clean

What is it about a whiteboard that binds us to commitment? List an idea on a whiteboard, and suddenly, it must be done. Thoughts are richer. Lists are more cohesive. A spark of imagination is recorded as truth.

Today, I wiped my whiteboard clean.

whiteboard

A clean whiteboard. All I left was my inspirational posters that remind to never quit and to continue to sparkle along with a press clipping of my son that inspires me to follow my dreams.

Normally, that 3 1/2 X 5-foot space is a brainstorming mecca. I write my ideas down before they float away. I organize, prioritize and then gaze at my mind-flow from behind my desk, thinking of all the greatness I will achieve when these ideas take fruition in the form of presentations, blog posts and well-managed projects.

Today, I wiped it clean before I even had the chance to embark on the list of 2013 goals I had begun developing long before January rolled around. I wiped them all away, first with the felt-backed eraser, then with the cleaning solution that came in the handy dry-erase marker set.

Gone are my plans…, and suddenly I feel freer and lighter than I did when I walked from my office yesterday.

I hadn’t expected the feeling of liberation I experienced when I took that first pass of the eraser across the board.  Some words vanished with ease, but others had been in place for so long, they clung to the surface. Only thin strips disappeared, my ideas so permanent only sheer determination could clear them completely.

I scrubbed and scrubbed, sometimes with one hand clutched around the foam block, sometimes with both as I added more force. I didn’t want to see these thoughts any more. I didn’t want them taunting me from across the room.

Finally, they were gone entirely. In there place was a swirling film of red, blue and green. I launched a second assault with cleaning solution and paper towel. The colors cleared, and I was left with nothing but a blank field of white.

I stepped back, and unexpectedly sighed with relief.

I had been frustrated after meetings the previous day, having just found out I would be forced to realign my expectations in the aftermath of a corporate reorganization. I glared at the whiteboard this morning, knowing the goals I had set for myself would no longer help me succeed. The future seemed too uncertain to count on these plans. I could find no joy or excitement in reviewing them every time I lifted my eyes from my computer. They had to go.

Now with the remnants of carefully planned strategies physically wiped away, I can see clearer.

I see the freshness of things to come, the newness of things yet to experience. I am excited to discover what the next steps will be, and I am filled with anticipation of making new lists, setting new goals and proving myself on new territory.

Last week, in the wake of New Year’s celebrations, my whiteboard glowed with promise.

Yesterday, it screamed disappointment.

Today, it is clean, and I am ready to start over.

How do you handle things when faced with a significant change?

***This post was written as submission for The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge which tasked bloggers to creatively capture the theme “Starting Over.”  I spent two days planning a light-hearted post on the Young One having to start over with her self-image when I decided she needed to grow out her bangs. Then corporate shake-up and reorganization happened.  I ended up with a new boss with a new vision, and when I erased my whiteboard, I knew what I needed to post this week.

Top 10 Momma-Can’t-Stop-Smiling Moments of 2012

Sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there until I notice my cheeks are sore. It starts with a glimpse of something–a person, a picture, words on a page, a text message.

It starts with an upturning of lips, then a thump of the heart as the grin widens to a full-on smile–the kind that puts a twinkle in the eye and makes the heart feel larger in the chest.

That’s a Momma-can’t-stop-smiling moment, and as I reflect on the year that is nearing its end, I’d like to share those moments that have made my top ten.

1. The Older One Realizes His Dream. Watching your child’s dream come true is a humbling experience. Years ago, I treated the Older One to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. I watched his face light up when he cracked his fortune cookie open at the end of the meal. I wanted to know what could cause such joy in a 14-year-old, so I asked what his fortune was. “‘Your greatest dream will come true,'” he read.

“What’s your greatest dream?” I asked.

“To play Division I football.”

I wasn’t surprised. Since he won his first city championship at age six, football had been his passion, and in October, his dream came true when he took to the field and played his first downs for the Army Black Knights.

I cheered from the stands and smiled through the whole five minutes of game-play. My cheeks still hurt 30 minutes later.

football

Check out #55…His dream is coming true.

2. The Young One Finds Her Sport. After the Hubs and I started the paperwork to adopt a girl from Russia, I began planning her after-school activities. She wasn’t even born yet, but I knew she would be an athlete–at least that’s what I hoped for her.

Playing a sport is a source of self-confidence, and above all else, I want my daughter to believe in herself, to feel strong and capable, and to be confident. She found all those things this year on the soccer field.

She out-ran the boys with an effortless stride. She stole the ball from the opposing team with a relentless desire to win, and she beamed like an angle with each goal.

I captured sheer joy on my camera, and I now know we have many more soccer games in our future.

Happy

That’s a confident, happy little girl!

3. Twenty Years and Counting. In September, the Hubs and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. I’ve been able to spend half my life with my best friend by my side. We’ve watched our son grow into a remarkable young man, and we’ve survived the painful reality of infertility when we found our daughter on the other side of the world. We’ve grown, and we’ve changed. But we have done it together. I can’t help but smile about that.

4. Fifty Years and Counting. In 1962, a blizzard roared through western Pennsylvania on the eve of my parents’ wedding. Although my grandmother had to put chains on her tires before she could take my mom to the church, and my dad had to shovel more than a foot of snow from the church’s sidewalk, they still said “I do”.

50th anniversary

I do…again.

Two weeks ago, they said those words for the second time as they renewed their vows on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I smiled through my tears as my dad recited a poem about growing old together, and I understood that my 20 years of togetherness is nothing compared to the love these two amazing people share.

5. Adopting a Fluffy One. When I first saw the Fluffy One at the shelter, I knew she was meant to be a part of our family. After quizzing me on the type of canine we were looking for, the shelter attendant took me into the room reserved for small dogs and puppies. “I have the perfect dog for you,” she declared. “She just came in last week. I’ll warn you though…she’s a diva.”

I wanted to tell her another diva would fit right in at my house, but I refrained.

“We named her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn.” Seriously? You named her after one of my fashion icons!

“Oh, no,” she said as she opened the crate door. “Her papers need changed. Here,” she said, thrusting the ball of fluff into my hands, “Hold her while I clean this up.”

That’s all it took. I filled out the application before I left, then called the Hubs from the car to tell him I’d found our doggie.

Fluffy One

She’s not Audrey anymore, but she’s still a diva!

6. Furry Plays Again. The dog toy box had remained untouched for almost two years before we brought the Fluffy One home. The Furry One had stopped playing when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

All that changed when Fluffy joined the family. Little by little we saw Furry change. He went from setting his boundaries with a gruff growl to watching with cautionary interest as Fluffy threw what used to be his toys in the air.

Almost three months later, he finally gave in. He pulled himself from the sofa and rolled on the floor with his new sister. His growls are playful. His tail is wagging, and Momma is happy to have two puppies in the house again.

Furry One

The Furry One doesn’t hang out in his bed quite as much any more!

7. Stiletto Momma Wears Out a Pair of Gym Shoes. Normally, the pumps give out before the trainers, but this year, I decided to not let my daily Crohn’s Disease symptoms keep me down. I got back in the gym. Three cardio sessions and at least two weightlifting classes each week since mid-January, and I have bi’s, tri’s and traps again!

8. Baking for Soldiers. I have sent 13 packages to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thirteen soldiers who are strangers to me have tasted my snickerdoodles. They have shared my care packages with their battle buddies and read my words of appreciation when I thanked them for their service. West Point Moms Bake is the organization that provides me the names of the men and women protecting our freedom, and participating in this effort has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.

Boxes

Two of my 13 care packages that have hopefully made a few soldiers smile.

9. Capturing Life Through a Lens. For our anniversary this year (the big two-oh mentioned above), the Hubs and I scrapped our plans for a weekend getaway, and opted instead to splurge on a digital SLR camera. Many of my can’t-stop-smiling moments have come from reviewing the hundreds of pictures I’ve snapped since September.

10. A Blogger is Born. I’ve been a writer since the sixth grade when I started to pen my first novel. I didn’t get much further than the first chapter, but it was the first of many attempts to record my imaginings. I’ve written short stories, essays, and a few poems. I’ve held internships that afforded me my first official byline and a portfolio of published pieces.

Life, however, sometimes gets in the way of dreams, and I put my journalism degree in a drawer when marketing jobs were easier to come by. This year, however, I returned to my own passion when Stiletto Momma was born.

I have recaptured the joy of writing…that amazing feeling of losing myself for a few hours and the immense feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing my words in print.

I smile with each click of the “Publish” button, and I smile with each “like”, each follow notification and each comment from a reader.

Thank you, dear reader, for encouraging me on this journey and for making me smile on a regular basis.

This is what has made me smile in 2012, and I’m looking forward to sharing many more with you in 2013. What’s your favorite can’t-stop-smiling moment of the year?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Stiletto Momma

* This post was written for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Challenge which tasked bloggers with writing a post to wrap up the year.

I Wish I Were a Hurricane

From his vantage point high above the earth in...

I wish this were me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish I were a hurricane, born near a tropical island amid warm waters and balmy breezes. My introduction to the world would start quietly with a gentle change in the air and a shift in the current. Then quite unexpectedly I would make the full force of my beauty known to all who see me, swirling above my home with a desire to break free and fulfill my destiny.

I would grow many times my size, but instead of ridicule, I would be met with awe. My body size would not inspire self-loathing, but instead I would be overtaken by an awareness that I am strong and confident in my abilities.

I would travel across the globe, seeing new and exciting places in my quest for adventure. With each stop along my path, I would leave my mark. Soon, my reputation would precede me, and word of my upcoming visit would generate a media sensation.

With each appearance, my confidence would soar, gathering speed and strength. My name would be synonymous with “Power”, and my mere presence would strike fear in the bravest of men.

I would live a life free of worry, able to change my mind on a whim and be accountable to no one but myself. My path would change without notice, and I would revel with the knowledge that the direction would be mine alone to choose. Those who attempt to follow me would be forced to travel fast and make split second changes. My unpredictability would be my signature, and the world would hold its breath in anticipation of where and when I would arrive.

If I were a hurricane, I would have no responsibility but to perfect myself and my image. With each new stop, I would rearrange the landscape, leaving a trail of debris that others would clean. They would try to prevent my mayhem, but my might would be beyond their imagination. They would soon learn they are no match for my expertise.

If I were a hurricane, people would listen to me, and I would be respected by political leaders and business men. Schools and office buildings would close on my demand. Public transportation would halt and financial institutions would cease operation until I declare the time right for business as usual.

I would be the talk of legend. My departure would signify a change so incredible that people would continue to talk about my skills long after my death. Others who would later attempt to recreate my accomplishments would fail and pale in comparison to my awe-inspiring deeds.

Yes! I wish I were a hurricane!

…but then again, perhaps I am hurricane already.

I am a woman–strong, fierce and confident, inspiring respect through my actions and striving to make an impact on everyone I meet. Surely, I have already left my mark on the world as evidenced by the faint freckles that dot my oldest child’s face just as they do my own and by the way I raise my daughter to accept no less than her full potential, to see only beauty when she looks in the mirror, and to believe she is in charge of her destiny.

My power comes from choosing my own path–knowing where I want to go, knocking down barriers to my success, and refusing to be discounted because I come from humble beginnings. I will leave a legacy, and my children will tell the story of how their mother faced her challenges and fought back with resilience.

Yes, I wish I were a hurricane…a woman…the force of nature I have always been meant to be.

Stiletto Momma

***This post was written for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge–I Wish I Were…

Puppy Tough Love

It is a sunny October afternoon, and sun filters through the picture windows that make up the north facing wall of the great room.

Furry One

The Furry One takes a nap.

I find the Furry One in his usual spot on the plush sofa. He lounges on his side, his head and a paw dangling off the edge. His eyes are closed, but when he senses my approach, they pop open, and he is alert.

We both turn our heads toward the foyer when we hear the approaching sounds of scampering feet and joyful yips, followed by a fruitless chorus of no-no’s.

Furry pushes his slightly overweight body to a sitting position, leans back into the couch and heaves a weary sigh, “Puppies,” he declares with a droop of his shiny black fur covered head.

I have come today to interview Furry about the turmoil that entered his life last month when his family returned home with a tiny white Maltese that he has come to know as The Fluffy One. He shakes his head again, and we begin.

Stiletto Momma: Tell me how it’s been.

Furry One: I haven’t had a decent nap in a month. I used to wake up, go outside, mark my territory, come back in, do a little treat-begging performance, nap for a few hours, then do it all over again. I was up to about eight solid naps a day.

Momma: Wow! That’s some professional-caliber napping. What happened?

Furry: Fluffy is what happened. *sigh*

Just then a fluffy ball with four legs zips into the room, and stops at the floor below Furry’s seat. Between frantic flips of a long flowing tail, I can just make out Fluffy’s big brown eyes and pink tongue.

Fluffy One

The Fluffy One in a calm moment.

Fluffy: Furry! Furry! I’m back from my walk. I’m back from my walk. Did you miss me? Did ya? Did ya? Furry?

Furry: See what I mean?

Momma: Yes. She certainly is…um…energetic.

Furry: She’s crazy!

Fluffy: What’s “crazy” mean, Furry? Furry? Furry?

Fluffy high jumps from the floor to the couch directly to Furry’s left.

Furry: Seriously, how am I supposed to take a nap with this noise going on all day. It doesn’t stop!

He stands and gingerly lowers himself to the floor.

Furry: I’m ten years old. These are my golden years. My job was to protect my boy when he was younger, but now that he’s grown up and moved to that obedience school at West Point, I’m retired. I should be able to sleep when I want to without being interrupted.

Momma: I can understand that. It’s a big change. Let’s talk about how Fluffy came to be here. She’s a shelter dog, isn’t she?

Furry: Yeah, that’s about the only good thing that’s come from this. She was a stray. Someone just dropped her off on the side of the road one day, as if that five pounds of fluff could really fend for herself. Now, THAT makes me mad. Can you imagine how scared she must have been, and all because someone didn’t realize a puppy is a lot of work or some breeder thought she was too small. I’d like to take her previous owners out to the middle of nowhere with no food and no water, and tell them, “You were cute once, but I don’t want you anymore. Good luck getting out of here alive. Bye.”

Momma: You were a shelter dog too, right?

Furry: That’s right.  I was just a pup like Fluffy. That was a scary time–not knowing when I’d get another meal or a warm bed. I survived, but you have to have some street smarts to keep it together in a shelter. It’s no place for a dog like Fluffy. I mean, just look at her….

He points with his nose to the spot beside him where Fluffy is spinning in quick frantic circles.

Fluffy: Furry, look! A big hairy monster is chasing me! But don’t worry. I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it this time!

Furry: That’s your tail, Fluffy. Stop it! You’re embarrassing yourself!

Momma: Have you been showing her the ropes since she got here?

Furry: *sigh* I do what I can.  Oh! There she goes again! It’s the Fluffy 500. You might want to move out of the way.

I jump to a vacant recliner as Furry bounds back to the couch, then we watch as the Fluffy One sprints around the room, weaving between the furniture as fast as her little legs will carry her.

Furry: Puppies…

Momma: There has to be something good about Fluffy coming to your family.

Furry: Well, maybe.

He’s quiet while he thinks and watches Fluffy throw a knotted and holey sock in the air.

Furry: I do kinda like that I don’t have to be alone anymore. I don’t like it when my people leave me by myself. It’s a big house, and sometimes when it’s just me here, I think about being left alone before I had this family. At least now I have someone to lay down with when they’re away. I had a brother once, and that’s how it was back then. He was the dog who was with my family when they adopted me. I miss him since he went to the Rainbow Bridge. He used to yell at me too…a lot!

He smiles at the memory.

Momma: Why did he yell at you?

Furry: Oh, lots of reasons. Mostly it was because I was a puppy and wanted to play. I used to take that sock…

He points to Fluffy’s current plaything.

Furry: …and throw it in his face. Ha! Ha! He’d get so mad at me. First, he’d growl. Then he’d throw it right back at me, and we’d each take an end and pull and shake! That was the best time!

Momma: How long has he been gone?

Furry: Five years. That’s a long time in dog years. I remember when…What the…!

Furry has been interrupted by a flying sock flung from Fluffy’s playful antics. It lands a paw’s length away from Furry’s nose. Fluffy stops and stares tentatively at Furry.

Fluffy: Uh-oh…

Furry: Fluffy!

Furry stands.

Furry: That’s not how you do it. You don’t throw it by the end. You have to get in the middle. Then you throw it. Like this.

He lets the old blue sock fly. It meets its mark on Fluffy’s back. She turns several circles before pulling it back to the floor, then tosses it back to Furry just as he taught her. She plops her bottom to the floor and wags her tail, waiting for his reaction.

Furry: You know, you might not be so bad after all, Fluffy…That was pretty good, but I bet I can beat you in tug of war….

Yips and playful growls echo down the hall as today’s lesson in puppy tough love continues.

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Love your puppies, and please adopt from your local shelter!

Stiletto Momma

**This post was written for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Something Different, where bloggers were challenged to write in a different style. As you can see, I traded in my usual story-teller style for that of a magazine interviewer. I’ve been pondering how best to introduce my readers to the newest addition to the family–the Fluffy One. This challenge gave me the perfect outlet, and let me flex my creativity with the story from the Furry One’s perspective. Check out the DPChallenge for more out-of-the-box posts.

West Point Style

West Point cadets continue to impress me. They are athletic, scholarly and honorable. This week, I have come to learn they are also extremely gifted in the arts, particularly those of dance, videography and lip syncing.

Since the Older One left the nest for the next phase of his life at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I am much less in touch with pop culture than I was when he lived at home. Prior to this week, I had no clue Gangnam Style was a song from South Korean rapper Psy. If you had asked me on Monday what it was, I probably would have said it was some type of fashion statement. These days, with only a five-year-old at home, I know more about Sponge Bob Square Pants than the latest dance craze.

I am, however, a social media guru (self-proclaimed, since my day-job requires that I Facebook, tweet and blog in a professional capacity), and I know a viral video when I see one. Gangnam Style, with almost 360 million views, is just about as viral as it gets. As testament to its viral nature, spoofs of the video are invading YouTube like soldiers on a battlefield, and the creative geniuses admitted to the US service academies are not to be excluded from this social media war.

Two weeks ago, the Naval Academy created a buzz with its Gangnam Style-inspired video, prompting CBSNews.com to challenge Navy’s biggest rival to a musical performance showdown. Yesterday, Army responded with resounding force when the Cadets posted their amazingly choreographed and edited rendition of Psy’s pop-culture hit.

Strobe lights!

On-location production numbers!

Child actors!

Horses!

The gauntlet has been thrown. The battle is on.

Navy’s version has received over five million views so far. Army fully intends to exceed that and is calling for a full-scale social media attack. This post is my contribution to the effort. Please watch Gangnam Style-West Point on YouTube, share it with all your friends, then tell me what you think.

Social media and traditional media alike are picking sides. I know which one I prefer. How about you?

GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!

Stiletto Momma

*This post is part of WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Easy as Pie. Check it out and play along.

Splendid Saturday Solitude

Most mornings, the blaring of the alarm is met with resignation. I drag myself from dreamland, glare at the numbers showing the time and remind myself that ignoring the insistent noise from the clock is not an option. I have to wake up. I have to get out of my warm, cozy bed. I have to get ready for work, and I have to do things for other people.

Even though that alarm fills me with despair during the work-week, I still find myself re-setting it Friday night. I usually stay up a little later on that eve before the weekend, catching the end of “Bride Day” on TLC, chatting with the Hubs or Facebooking with my favorite group of West Point moms. But before I turn out the light and call it a day, I reach over, adjust the time on the clock and set the alarm for 7:00 a.m.

This time, when the alarm sounds, I jump up, quickly turn off the sound so as not to wake the sleeping hubby, and smile with anticipation.

It’s Saturday!

Once upon a time, I met the dawning of Saturday with a similar delight. Back then I was about five, and upon leaving my bed, I would excitedly race to the television and eagerly tune into Saturday morning cartoons–The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Show, Scooby Doo and Schoolhouse Rock were my favorites.

Today when I rise early to start my weekend, I head straight to the Keurig for my coffee-on-demand–Butter Toffee, Caramel Vanilla Creme  and Cinnamon Pastry somehow give me a bigger rush than 1970s animation. Instead of heading to the television, I take my steaming caffeine and stroll to the back deck where I heave a contented sigh and gaze across the backyard.

Backyard

My view. On the really good days, the neighborhood deer come out to say, “Good morning.”

A fine layer of mist fills the air, dew coats the ground, and it is silent. I am alone–a state I find myself in only once a week. The Young One is still asleep. The Hubs, if he was disturbed by my early alarm, has returned to his Saturday slumber, and the MIL has yet to venture out for her own cup of coffee.

Experience has taught me that I have an hour before I must relinquish my wants to see to the needs of others. By 8:00 a.m., the Young One will seek me out for a bowl of cereal, the Hubs will demand my attention to plan out the weekend errands and activities, and the MIL will call for the canine to accompany her to the curb in the daily quest for the newspaper.

Deck chair

My chair. Perfect for relaxing with coffee and a book.

But for now, I have 60 minutes of solitude. I will relax in a padded rocker damp with the mist of morning fog, sip my Butter Toffee java laced with just the right amount of Italian Sweet Creme Coffee-Mate, and immerse myself in a book I’ve been struggling to find time to read all week. If I’m lucky, I will raise my eyes at just the right time to watch a family of deer emerge from the woods and take their breakfast at the tree line near the far end of the yard.

I won’t think about work. I won’t menu plan or write a grocery list. I won’t check email or log onto Facebook. I won’t cook or clean. If my relaxation and enjoyment are not the first things accomplished by a task, I don’t intend to do it for at least 3,600 seconds.

I set my alarm for an early rising on Saturday not because I have so many things to do in my day, but because I need to do nothing. I need a few minutes when I am not a mom or a wife or a friend. I am just me, doing things that make me happy. And because of this hour for me, I can return to being caregiver, spouse and adviser and do those jobs with increased enthusiasm and purpose. I love those roles and wouldn’t trade them for all the sunny summer mornings for the rest of time…as long as I have one hour once a week.

This is my time. My Saturday Morning. Silent. Solitary. Splendid.

How do you find your solitude?

Stiletto Momma