Still a Birthday Girl

I still enjoy birthdays.

StillI don’t enjoy the getting older part of birthdays, but the anticipation and celebration of one day made special just for me is still pretty high on the list of things I enjoy. I like them even more when I can stretch the celebration out over a few days or even a week.

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate the official day with family and friends.  The Young One has had a special present picked out and wrapped up for three weeks now, and she has tried very hard to keep it a secret. However, she has asked if she can give it to me every day since the Hubs took her shopping, and sometimes she slips and hints at what is buried inside the gift bag under a mound of tissue paper.

But that’s tomorrow. We still have today to kickoff the festivities.

Today, we’ll start the celebration with an afternoon just for girls. I’ll read to the Young One’s class and then spend the rest of the afternoon with her at the mall. She has basketball tryouts tomorrow morning and insists she needs high-tops on her feet, so the coaches know she really does play basketball. She’s been using my iPad and Siri to Google these coveted shoes, and she grew frustrated with me yesterday when I dared to use my iPad to listen to music while I worked from home.

She stamped her foot, and shook her head at me. “But Momma,” she pouted, “shoes are more important than music!” She may yearn for high-tops like I never have, but she is still my daughter.  I have taught her well.

So, today we read, and then we shoe shop–two of my favorite things. Tomorrow I’ll finally get that present along with a few hugs and kisses, and I’ll remember why I still enjoy birthdays.

Five Minute Friday**Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “still”. Check out more great posts on the prompt at Kate Motaung’s site.

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Turning a Page

Next week, I turn a year older, and I have big plans to celebrate.

The Hubs thinks my excited anticipation comes from the limo he’s renting to take us and a select group of friends to an adults only celebration, but really the excitement is for the event I have planned for the day before my actual birthday.

I’ll be stopping by the Young One’s school to read to her class. She’s been excited about this since I signed up for the task during Back-to-School Orientation in August. I picked the November reading session mostly because it was the day before my birthday, and I figured I had less of a chance of forgetting the appointment if I planned it around a significant date.

On the first day of school, she started asking me how many days until my birthday and telling me how excited she was to celebrate with me. I was pretty quick to catch on that she was more interested in the date because of my performance in her classroom than in helping me celebrate my big day.

Pirate Princess

The Young One’s depiction of The Pirate Princess.

In mid-September we started planning which books I’d bring to share with her friends. By the end of the month, we had settled on our two favorites, Stanley’s Wild Ride and The Pirate Princess. Each of these is on heavy rotation for our nightly story time.

In Stanley’s Wild Ride, Stanley and his canine friends break out of their yards and highjack all kinds of things with wheels for a joy ride through town. I turn the page where the cops join the action and she supplies the siren sound effects.

Her favorite part of The Pirate Princess isn’t when the heroine discovers gold and becomes a true pirate. Instead, it’s the part where young Princess Bea’s motion sickness gets the best of her. This is when my own pirate princess starts giggling.

I can’t wait for my birthday! I get to be the star of the show and watch my child’s eyes light up as I turn the pages of her favorite stories. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

Five Minute Friday***This post was brought to you today by  Five Minute Friday and the word “Turn”.  Join the party over at Kate Motaug’s blog for more great posts inspired by “Turn”.

A Dear Joe Letter

My Dearest Café Caffe,

I know I’ve seemed distant lately. I walk past you with a longing look and a sigh on my lips, but in all fairness to you I have to tell you the truth…I cannot begin my day like this anymore.

Coffee

Cafe Caffe just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

We’ve only been together for a few months, but taking a break from you while I was with my family on vacation has made me realize that making you a part of my life has been like pouring acid down my throat. Your darkness is too much for me right now. Just being with you leaves a foul taste in my mouth, and the more time I spend with you, the more my stomach churns and burns with the havoc you wreak.

Our relationship lacks the freshness I crave, and quite honestly, you’ve been cold lately. No sooner are we together than I feel a chill creep in that makes me rush through those precious mid-morning encounters, and I find myself longing for the heat we used to share.

Please don’t take this personally. I put all the blame on me. I never should have started this. I know I need something lighter in my life, something a little smoother and sweeter.

French Press

My new love is French (pressed)!

And yes, the rumors are true. I’ve found someone new, and he is all the things I have been longing for. I love his richness and his gentle warmth. His splash of energy has made my days so much more enjoyable.

Please don’t be bitter. You will be fine without me. You are never at a loss for companionship. You are always included in conversations and road trips with the guys.

You will move on, just not with me. Our office romance is over. I have a new coffee now, and it’s time to begin a new day.

Love always,

Stiletto Momma

Five Minute Friday**Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “begin”.

A Choice Between Thing or Cat

Cat in the Hat

Hey, look at that! It’s the Cat in the Hat!

The day was quite windy, and the trees were all swaying

When Young One brought home a note clearly saying:

A birthday for someone we’ll soon celebrate.

This person is special. He simply is great!

To parade around school, all the kids should be dressed.

This called for a costume, but not one like the rest.

So many choices.

Oh! What what would she do?

A Lorax or Horton?

Or maybe a Who?

All her girlfriends, they begged her, “Just do what we do.

You have to come dressed as Thing One or Thing Two!”

To lead or to follow? The choice tore her apart.

Her momma’s advice was, “Just go with your heart.”

All night sat her momma awaiting the news.

Oh, what will she do today? Which will she choose?

“They want me to be someone who’s simply not me.

The leader is someone I’d much rather be.

So I have decided,” she said as she sat,

“I’m going to school as the Cat in the Hat!”

Five Minute Friday*Today’s post was brought to you today by Five Minute Friday, the word “Choose” and the birthday celebration of the great Dr. Seuss. My personal favorite from the creator of The Cat in the Hat is Dr Seuss’s ABCs. I read it so often to The Older One that even 20 years later, I can still recite it without opening the book!

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book or character?

I Want To Write

This is my dream…the number one on my bucket list…the one written in all caps in bold black marker, underlined, circled and boxed and then circled again.

Keyboard

I want to write all the words on the page.

My dream is to write–not just 10 minutes a day or 500 words a post. I want to write all day, every day.

I want to spend my days writing–writing until the pages are full and the story is all out and my fingers hurt and my shoulders pinch and my heading is swimming and my heart rejoices.

I want to look at a blank screen, wonder where to start and magically find the beginning.

I want the story out there for the world to see and read and share.

I want to revel in accomplishment and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

I want to put aside the excuses and the fears and shut out the voice that taunts, “You can’t.”

I want to shout, “I did it!” instead of whispering, “I wish I had.”

I want to tell a story and build a world full of characters who are brave and heroic, funny and smart, lovable and despised.

I want my work to be my passion and passion be my work. I want to stop saying some day and make today the day.

I want to live the dream. I want to write.

Five Minute Friday**Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and word “Write” Do you have what it takes to put it all out there in five minutes of frantic blogging? Check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s site and give it a try.

My Hero Wears Camo

I never planned to be an Army wife, yet my husband wore dress blues in place of a tuxedo on our wedding day.

I said "I do" to the Hubs and to the Army.

I said “I do” to the Hubs and to the Army.

I never planned to be an Army mom, yet my son wears ACUs in his college classrooms as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

My favorite cadet on his way to class.

My favorite cadet on his way to class.

I never imagined the Star Spangled Banner would bring tears to my eyes or that I would be compelled to watch every homecoming video posted on my news feed…or shed tears for those joyous reunions that will never happen.

Since becoming a part of a military family, I feel my heart thump at the sight of an American flag flapping proudly in the breeze and a lump in my throat when it sails at half-mast.

American Flag

I found this flag on the beach last year.

I am humbled to know heroes fight for me every day. I see their pictures in my Facebook feed as my Army Mom network pledges to stay Army Strong. Some of the names I know and often the face is familiar as I read the pleas for prayers and support as a momma sends her child into harm’s way and asks for prayers for a safe return. But most days, the heroes who fight for me are strangers.

They are anonymous men and women who have raised their hands, and with words ringing of commitment and allegiance, they have entered the most honorable of professions. They leave their wives, their husbands, their children and their parents. They put their country above all else, and sometimes they make the greatest of sacrifices.

These are my heroes. They wear digitized camo. They have boots on the ground and courage in their hearts.

In return for their selflessness, I pray…keep them safe…keep them brave…bring them home.

Do you have a hero serving in the military? Give them a shout-out in the comments.

Five Minute Friday***This post was brought to you today by the Five Minute Friday and the word “Hero”. Join us for some frenzied blogging on Lisa-Jo Baker’s site every Friday.

Visit of a Lifetime

Six years ago, I made my first visit to snow-encrusted Novokuznetsk–an industrial city in Russia’s western Siberia. I had spent the week prior, googling the temps in the area and trying to decide which of my heaviest sweaters would travel best in my suitcase. The Weather Channel promised me I could expect an actual temperature of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills that would plummet it to negative 50.

Baby Home #95, Novokuzketsk, Russia. January 24, 2008.

Baby Home #95, Novokuzketsk, Russia. January 24, 2008.

I would definitely need warm clothes, but soft ones…definitely soft ones. I wouldn’t want to wear wool or any scratchy synthetics for this visit. Cotton would work. That would be soft and comforting.

Bright colors too, red or bright pink or maybe even a contrasting color block pattern of white and black…anything to attract the eye and make it focus.

I carefully chose my softest, brightest, happiest clothing. I folded and rolled them and wedged them in the crevices among the toys, books, photographs, blankets and files filled to bursting with paperwork.

Soft sweater...check. Visual interest...check. Happy momma...check!

Soft sweater…check. Visual interest…check. Happy momma…check!

That visit six years ago was the most important visit the Hubs and I had ever made. A visit half a world away where we would finally meet our child. After weeks of looking lovingly at a single photograph, we would finally hold her close…so the clothing she would feel against her baby cheek needed to be soft like a mother would wear.

She would finally see us, and I needed her to focus on the strangers in the room…to look at us and see brightness and happiness and the joyful wonder as we looked back at her.

That first visit to Baby Home #95 in Novokuzknetsk, Russia, was everything I ever imagined meeting my daughter would be. It was cold. It was foreign. It was exhausting. It was happy. It was heartbreaking. It was the visit of a lifetime.

Five Minute Friday**This post was brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “visit”. I’ve been participating in FMF for about a year and a half, and this is the third time, I’ve opened my email to find a prompt that was made for me. Today is the sixth anniversary of the day the Hubs and I met our daughter during our first of two adoption visits to Russia. I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’m extremely happy today’s word inspired me to tell you about it. If you’d like to see how fast you can write a blog post, check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s site every Friday. Maybe you’ll find a word meant for you too!

zero-to-hero-badge**With today’s post I can also check off the latest Zero to Hero assignment to participate in a blogging challenge.

See Anything New?

Take a look around. See anything new…anything different…anything interesting?

I bet you saw it as soon as you clicked the link to this post because my brand new header image is right there at the top in all it’s fabulous footwear glory!

You probably see some other new things too–like a whole new theme and a new sub-title. If you click around, you’ll see some other new things too. Like the “Meet Stiletto Momma” section to the right on the home page and the brand new “About” page at the top.

The newness I like best is that header image. I took the picture myself. I spent all afternoon selecting the right shoes, the right location, the right focus. But this picture almost wasn’t because somebody stole a little pink sneaker!

I started my photo session outside on the front porch in an attempt to get the best light.

Stiletto Momma

The scene of the first photo shoot. See the two little pink shoes in the background?

My second location was a room inside just off the foyer–a mere four steps from that front porch. I gathered up as many shoes as I could and began staging them inside. On my second trip back, I noticed something missing.

A missing shoe!

A missing shoe!

In the 20 seconds it took me to walk back to the porch for the second load of shoes and return, one of my shoes (actually one of the Young One’s shoes) had vanished. I glanced around the room, but I couldn’t see it anywhere.

I retraced my steps to the porch…no pink shoe out there either.

I know I had two pink shoes. I have photographic evidence from location shoot one (see above)!

“Where’s my shoe?” I asked the quiet house.

In the hallway…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the dining room…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the kitchen…”Where’s my shoe?”

In the great room…”There’s my shoe!”

Pink Shoe

Found it!

And next to the missing shoe, I could finally see the culprit–the Fluffy One, all four pounds of her had swooped in while my back was turned and made off with the one prop I needed for the perfect shot.

Caught

Caught red-pawed!

I finally persuaded her to give it back, but not without a chase around the living room. (For a fluff ball, she sure is fast!)

As you can see, I love my new header, and I love it even more now for the doggy story that goes with it.

What do you think of the changes at Stiletto Momma? I’d love to hear what you think.

Five Minute Fridayzero-to-hero-badge***This post is brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “See”.  The changes are brought to you by several of this week’s WordPress Zero to Hero challenge assignments.

A Fight for One Last

We have less than two days left.

Actually, it’s more like 42 hours.

Christmas morning quality time.

Christmas morning quality time.

But if you subtract out the girlfriend time, sleeping time and time for personal hygiene , it’s really only about 12 hours.

Twelve short hours left to spend with the Older One before he boards an airplane bound for the snowy north and the granite walls of the US Military Academy at West Point.

His clothes are clean and ready to be packed neatly in his plain black duffel bag. He’s visited with friends, exchanged gifts with family and enjoyed New Year’s Eve with his girl.

Now all that’s left for this momma is 12 hours…give or take.

And so, I start the fight. It won’t be a screaming, yelling, fist-throwing kind of fight, but more of a fight for more, more, more and a handful of one lasts.

The fight for one more game of hide and seek with his sister and one last meal cooked with love. Just one more conversation and another memory to hold on to for the next three months. One more workout with his dad. Another joke and a laugh. Even one last request for motherly advise.

I’ll fight for another stolen hug and an unaware smile.  I’ll fight for that last perfect ending to an all too short 15-day visit…even though it is the longest we’ve had for a while.

Last night, the Young One, whose big brother hero let her claim victory in a Nerf blaster war earlier that day, lost her fight against the tears. She cried herself to sleep wishing he didn’t have to go away again, and as I held her close for comfort, I lost my fight too.

Save travels, Sweet Boy. Come home again soon!

Five Minute Friday***This post is brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “Fight”.

Daring to Fly

When the Young One was three, her pre-school teacher approached me on the playground as I waited for my child to work her way down from the top of the jungle gym. “She may be the smallest one in her class,” the teacher said with a shake of her head, “but she is our biggest daredevil!”

I laughed and nodded along. Yes, my youngest child has always had a desire to keep her feet off the ground. As a baby she wanted nothing more than to jump…and jump…and jump.

Jump

I first learned about the Young One’s jumping joy in an orphanage in Russia.

Then she learned to climb, working her way up the tall ladder of our neighbor’s play set. Next came the monkey bars, even though she was too little to grab the bars herself.

My daughter is a daredevil.

So it came as no surprise when, as we watched the West Point jump team parachute into Michie Stadium two weeks ago, that she jumped to her feet as soon as she saw the tiny dots floating out of the helicopter.

Yayy!

Yayy!

Realizing the dots were people, she raised her arms in the air, jumped in circles, and exclaimed, “I want to do that! I want to do that!”

"I want to do that! I want to do that!"

“I want to do that! I want to do that!”

She watched with fascination as the jumpers swooped and looped. Her smiled widened when the colorful parachutes burst from their packs, and she didn’t take her eyes from her new heroes until they touched down on the football field to announce the beginning of the game.

landing

A safe landing.

Since leaving West Point, she talks of little but her new desire.  As I look through the pictures from that day, I can almost see the instant she decided she would one day fly through the sky.

A dream is born.

A dream is born.

And as I look at this smile, I want nothing more than to see her fly too.

Five Minute Friday***Today’s post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “fly”. If your fingers can fly across the keyboard at lightning speed and you have great stories to tell, join us on Lisa-Jo Baker’s site quick blogging fun.