Tag Archives: DPChallenge

The Marriage of Two Minds

The challenge: “Tell a story, in 50 words or less.”

“Opposites attract!” friends quipped.

He, drawn like a moth to a flame, warmed to her vivacity, sparks of passion and life. She, lured by his depth, quenched herself with serene and steady.

Inevitably, her words burn and his silence douses. Opposite becomes opposition. Coexistence, a chore.

So they become something new.

Together.

fire and water

So here’s my verse for the Word Press Writing Challenge:Fifty http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/writing-challenge-fifty/
That was easier said than done.

The title of this piece is a play on Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare. It’s one of my favourite poems, a tribute to timeless, unfailing love. Although love itself must never alter or compromise, we must if relationships are to endure. Not entirely, not unilaterally, but in little ways every day.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

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My Favourite Thing

It’s a nuisance. A distraction. A menace on the roads. A depressing sign of the times.

It’s also my window to the rest of the world. A handful of technological wonder in an otherwise menial and isolated day. A life, and sanity, saver.

Yes. I’m that mom. Smartphone never out of reach. The ubiquitous 5th child in my already busy brood. One more to keep track of, keep safe, keep an eye on at all times.

I’m not blind to the downsides of this strange love affair. I’ve debated each point ad nauseam, with the critic in my head. I can get downright philosophical about it.

Since humanity first harnessed the power of fire, split the atom and pioneered the worldwide web, we’ve shown an incredible capacity to use our fancy new tools for both good and evil. It’s in our nature. It’s in my nature.

This is Mommy’s security blanket. The smooth contours nestled perfectly in the palm of my hand. A solid, sure weight in a tumultuous world. A little piece of control safe in my pocket, in the place of honour at the top of my purse… if all else fails, tucked under a bra strap next to my skin, inches from my heart.iphone pocket

In the course of a day it is my trusted advisor, personal assistant, teacher, counsellor, biographer, court jester, emergency response system, flashlight, calculator, alarm clock and immediate connection to friends, family, help, encouragement, entertainment, poetry, news and much-needed-perspective.

Sometimes, it’s a hero. When our son choked on a cookie this weekend, it was my iPhone that I turned to; typing “foreign object aspiration” into the search engine to find out what to do now. I had weather forecasts, road conditions and a friendly GPS voice on hand to help me around heavy snowfall and road closures on the way to the ER. It kept an anxious Daddy and sisters in the loop, worried friends apprised of the situation and a miserable, scared little boy distracted with games and movie clips. I can’t imagine living through that day without it.

But, it can be overwhelming, so much information and connection hovering in the background. Reluctantly I pry my fingers off my friend from time to time. Pull the curtain. Focus on the here and now. Find silence and solitude again.

Until life and family intervene. The punishing momentum of needs and routines and our very own brand of chaos. A world within a world.

So I reach for Mommy’s best helper. 4.9 ounces of synthetic comfort for the modern woman.

This is my favourite thing.

So here’s my entry for the
Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge: Object.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/writing-challenge-object/


Putting Myself in His Shoes

The Boy

boyshoes

It’s all over me. Pulling me down. Wrapping all around me. A heavy fog of numb.

bored.

…so bored.

HAVE to escape. Now! Shake it off. Break free.

Bang!

I felt that. Train + Window Pane + Bang… vibrating in my fingers, up my arm, echoing in my ears.

More!

Trains in both hands now. A tingle of energy moving from deep inside out to the very edges of me.

Bang! Bang!! BANG!!!

Jumping. Laughing. Feeling.

Hands snatch the trains from mine. Even that feels good. Anything better than the dull nothing.

Words. Close to my ear.

“…blah, blah, gentle, blah…”

I pick up the basket at my feet.

Flip.

Feeling the toys rolling off my belly, my legs, my feet… then the glorious clatter onto the floor. I make things happen. Me! I am powerful.

More! More!

Mommy bends down, pressing toys into my hand, pointing to the basket. We drop them in. Small bang. Meh.

“…blah, blah, time to go… van.”

Van! I love the van! I love to GO! Coiling my body, ready to run to the door… until it catches my eye. Catches me, body and soul.

On the edge of the table. My favourite thing. The best thing. So many buttons. So many colours and noises and games. So much everything.

iPhone

And, she’s looking away. Quick! Feet skittering across the floor, arms and legs climbing frantically, heart pounding… Got it!

“Hey!”

She sees me! Now throwing myself off the table, prize clutched to my chest, down the hallway – the chase is on! Running. Laughing. Feeling.

More! More! More!

* * *

Today is exactly 1 year since our adoption was finalized, and the boy became ours for good, forever. It’s been exhausting and overwhelming at times, but never, ever, boring. At least not for long.

It’s been pointed out that “Gotcha Day” (which many adoptive families use to describe this day) sounds creepy and vaguely kidnap-y.

“Signed the Paperwork Day” doesn’t really capture the sentiment either. Nor does “You’re Stuck With Us Now Day.” We’ve finally settled on:

“For Keeps Day.”

Definitely worth celebrating! And yes, there will be cake.

* * *

So here’s us, where we’re learning to make room for: fun, impulsive, hyperactive, sensory seeking, rough & tumble, and being a boy.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Putting Myself in Her Shoes

The girlshoes

scratch.
scratch.
scratch.
Covering every little spot with pink. There’s noise buzzing beside my head… loud, annoying. I hold my marker tighter. Lean closer, closer, closer. My nose is filled with the sting of ink.
scratch.
scratch.
scratch.
Out of nowhere, a hot weight on my back. The buzzing is Louder than ever…
“itstimetogoweregonnabelateitoldyoutogositonthepottyareyouevenlisteningtomeCOMEON…”

I look up into my Mom’s eyes, wanting to show her my picture. It’s almost done. Looking back I see a stripe of white along the edge. Not right. Not right at all. Needs more pink.
scratch.
scr…

HEY! Where’s my marker?

Her face is right next to mine. Her mad face. Buzzing again. With a pink marker in her hand. MY pink marker. MINE.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Mad. This is my mad face.

The world moves under me… my chair pulled away from the table. Away from my paper. Away from the white spots I haven’t finished. Not right. Not right at all.

I reach for it.

There she is again. “It’s. TIME. to. go.”

I’m catapulted onto my feet, a big, warm hand wrapped around mine.

We’re going somewhere?
Now?
Right now?
Why didn’t anyone tell me?

So here’s us, where life moves too fast and the girl just won’t be rushed.

For those who are new to the blog, our 9-year-old is navigating Down Syndrome, a hint of OCD and, being-her-mother’s-daughter. She’s joy and charm and mischievous giggles. She’s also the reason we’re almost always late.

This is my entry for the
Wordpress Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door
“consider things from a different point of view…
walk a mile in someone [else]’s shoes.”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/writing-challenge-shoes/


On Any Given Lunch-hour

Three little toes curl over the edge of the table. Flexing his entire body he catapults himself, his booster and his chair across the floor. “NOOOOOOOO!!!”

Today is a blueberry day. NOT a leftover mac ‘n cheese day.

Big sister disagrees. Pushing her bowl of blueberries disdainfully to the side. The boy eyes them from across the table.

“Look! Ketchup on noodles!” I say, in my best infomercial voice.

She nods enthusiastically.

I grin widely, flourishing his toddler-sized fork… demonstration bite. A lesser woman would have spit the lukewarm, congealed horror onto the floor immediately. I maintain the smile, tactfully depositing it into my napkin.

Blueberries it is.

20140122-193612.jpg

For Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts – simple, short, descriptive.

So here’s us, at lunchtime.


Glimmers of Christmas

audienceWe’re tucked in together, shoulder to shoulder, like books on a shelf. To my left, my husband’s look-a-like, the grey haired version, his face and gestures strange on that familiar frame. His left leg is propped in the aisle, too stiff to bend completely. On the right, my mother’s sister uses her one good hand to maneuver her leg brace into position. Farther down my daughter clambers awkwardly over Daddy and brother, the mountain of coats chair, and Oma, who’s hiding a bag of candy canes at her feet. Nine-year-old arms and legs narrowly miss kicking the curly head in front of us as she wedges herself onto my lap. It’s a full house tonight. Warmth on every side.

pigskinThere’s a cool draft sneaking in under the door. The light stretches thin into this back hallway, the shadows at the end overpowering it entirely. Such a cold, industrial space would seem unwelcoming to most, but his appreciation echoes all the way down. “Baaaaallllllll!” he shrieks, chasing the imitation pigskin as it bumps and thumps its way down the tiles. I close the lid of the Lost and Found box, grateful to the careless student who unknowingly provided our intermission entertainment, my very own half-time show. As he falls on his prey, it’s hard to tell who’s winning the wrestling match. The unwieldy ball is much too big for his little hands, but his enthusiasm is larger than life. I’ve no doubt the ball will eventually concede defeat, collapsing in sheer exhaustion. I certainly do.

starThe stage is dark in every way: black floor, heavy curtains, every light extinguished. But I can hear them, the shuffle of ballet slippers and instructional whispers and nervous giggles. Every parent leans forward, peering past elf costumes, shellacked hairdos and garish stage make up to find their very own dancer. Mine’s wearing a chef’s hat, an apron, and a stage smile I’ve never seen before, but I recognize her shape, the impish twinkle in her eye, and the baking sheet she stole from my cupboard last month. My other dancer comes out more than once, part of senior company, she plays many parts; while I know her face, I don’t recognize her at all. She is so grown up, so graceful and beautiful. Not the baby I used to dance around on my hip.

These moments, these details, fly by so fast. Each one, a brief glimmer of joy and family and the Christmas I’m hoping for. But I’m more focused on keeping us all out of trouble and inside the lines. Shushing the littles who holler and wail at the worst times, making holiday plans with the in-laws, feeling hemmed in by the crowds and worried about dinner, snapping at my partner for not knowing what I need and taking offense when he does the same.

I miss them. Over and over again, I miss the glimmers. They slip through my fingers while I juggle my worries and obligations. I need to rewind, to relive it in slow motion and taste the best moments again.

I guess that’s why I write.

So here’s us, hobbling and flailing, shrieking and wrestling, and dancing our way to Christmas. It might not be postcard pretty, but we’ll get there.

This was written for the Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail | The Daily Post
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/challenge-collecting-detail/
write about three original details I noticed from encounters during my day.


Haiku Catchoo Christianity

I’ve been sidelined as a blogger. By winter colds and final school projects and the novel I vowed to write this month, but most of all, by my own overwhelming feeling of so-busy-I-don’t-even-know-where-to-start.

The WordPress Writing Challenge this week is to write a series of 5 Haikus. Of course, I don’t have time to write anything new. But I just happen to have a series of 5 Haikus already written in my journal. Because I’m the kind of person who writes Haikus in her journal… you know… for fun.

I was inspired by Rhoda Janzen’s Haiku about her Mennonite tradition:

“Jesus lived in peace!
Let’s give it a try! It helps
to have hot prune soup.”

There is a clarity that comes when distilling a complex concept into 17 syllables. It’s a good exercise. And fun… really!

I’ve grown up in a handful of faith traditions. Each of these churches have left their mark on me, and I’m grateful for their unique approaches, even if I no longer practice Christianity in the same way.

The Brethren

Wear hats to Meeting.
Breaking bread on Narrow Roads,
holding nothing back.brethren

The Chapel

Teaching feeds the soul,
so handle the Word with care.
Holiness matters.bethany

The Community Church

Grace is in serving.
We’re family more than creed.
There’s no ‘I’ in church.community church

The Baptist

Repent, we tell them
for the Bible tells us so.
Now, it’s time to eat.baptist

The Emergent

God, bigger than us
so join the conversation.
Seek love, not answers.emergent

So here’s me, a devout, Jesus-following, Bible-reading, socialist, feminist, pacifist, environmentalist, sometimes-wrong, often-confused, but always-grateful-for-where-I-come-from woman.

Part of the Haiku Catchoo Challenge:  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/


Apology from a Recovering Evangelical

waitress “Can I get you anything?” she says with a pleasant smile, warm, but professional.

“I’ve got something for you!” you say, with all the giddy certainty of an As-Seen-On-TV salesman. “GOD has given me a picture of you, and I see… I see…” – pause for dramatic effect – “…YOU standing in a high place. You’re… looking out… over the world, or maybe your own life. This is important. This is a message. What does it mean to you?”

“Um…” Wrinkling her brow. Shifting from one foot to another. The smile firmly fixed in place now.

“Maybe you need to change your viewpoint, so you can see more clearly.” All eyes are on her now, searching, intense, as if, by simply looking, you might unmask her very soul.

“O…Kay…” She’s freaking out now, but far too polite, too Canadian to break. “Refill?”

You sat in the booth behind us at White Spot. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but at least two of you have loud preachy voices and I heard some familiar churchy buzz words sprinkled liberally throughout the discussion. I cringed a little at the tone of your conversation, but I understood…

I came from that world. Although many of my beliefs have evolved, I still visit from time to time. I used to work for one of the most aggressive evangelical organizations in the world. Once upon a time, I was you.

When the pretty server came to your table, you took her hostage. Not with guns or threats, but with words. Loud, preachy, bizarre words. Especially coming from such a large group of young people. You “prophesied” over her. You “spoke God’s encouragement into her life” while she tried to politely back away. You asked intrusive personal questions. You tag-teamed her. It went on and on.

It wasn’t pleasant, seeing it from the outside. I searched my memory for hints that I had ever acted like this. Thankfully, what I came up with wasn’t nearly so obnoxious or odd. But still… embarrassing.

Didn’t you see? The tense smiles, the nervous laughter, the stiff body language… not just hers, but everyone around you. Didn’t you notice? That you were preventing her from doing her job. That there were tables of people waiting impatiently for her attention. That her manager was shooting angry looks her way. Didn’t you care? That she was incredibly uncomfortable. That everyone nearby was also. That the family behind you was falling apart, both littles crying as we waited an extra 20 minutes for both the bill and the ice cream they were promised.

Granted, my personal irritation plays a big part here. With our nice family outing descending into chaos, as Dad hauls one out to the van and I encourage the other to stop crying and hold it, just a few more minutes, until I can pay (she didn’t by the way, but I can’t blame her for this potty training fail). I’d take it on the chin if I knew you’d actually done some good in the world. But all you did was offend and alienate a stranger, and cause a crowd of people to shake their heads and turn up their noses in disgust at “those ridiculous Christians.” You made us all look bad.

The uncharitable part of me assumes that you’re enamoured with the sound of your own voice; that you’re showing off, intentionally or unconsciously. If I give you the benefit of the doubt, then you really did want to encourage her. I remember my own burning desire to truly please God and help others, channelled into the same pushy ethos; strong enough, even, to override polite Canadian reserve.

Whether it was pseudo-spiritual posturing or legitimate reaching out, you didn’t love your neighbour well. As you walked out the restaurant with us, I saw you congratulate each other, certain that you had forced some sort of revelation on that poor girl. I could have shaken you, every one of you.

That’s not what it’s about. You need to REPRESENT. Not just me, though I follow the same God in my own way. Not just your particular brand of Jesus. But the Man himself. The man who said the highest commandment, next to loving God, was to love others.

Love. No agenda. No disrespect. No selfishness.

I hope, at least, that you left a hell of a tip.

So here’s me, a recovering evangelical. I’m sorry for all the ways we make people uncomfortable. I’m sorry if I’ve ever done that to you. We mean well, we really do. Please forgive us.

This is my contribution to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialogue


Romance in the Digital Age

It’s always been about the words for us.

love-notes-718721Since I was first allowed to get calls from “a boy” and I reassured my parents that we were totally just friends anyway and somehow the hours sped by while we talked about everything and nothing, until my Mom would pick up the downstairs line and yell up the stairs to “GET OFF THE PHONE!”

Since those early days when we wrote long rambling notes on loose-leaf paper, doodling in the margins and folding them into elaborate shapes before handing them off to each other in between classes.

Since the poetry unit in English 20, when he took a 10% penalty rather than read his poem to the whole class, but printed it up, glued it to a giant red heart and gave it to me for Valentine’s Day.

It’s the words that made us friends in the first place. It’s the words that made us laugh until it hurt and console each other and get closer than anyone had ever been before.

We built our own world with those words.

And now they come with a 140 character limit. And a data bill at the end of the month. And an audience of friends and family and people we sort-of knew in elementary school who we haven’t seen in years.

Sure, there are times when I roll my eyes and glare at the iPad. “You’re with the REAL people now” I say. Then hastily tuck my iPhone back into my pocket, lest my hypocrisy come back to bite me on the ass. It can feel like a barrier; a virtual distraction in our already busy lives. Bound to happen when both Mom and Dad are social media junkies.

But I can’t imagine our relationship without it. Especially not now, when time is at a premium and life moves at warp speed (that’s really, really fast for you non-nerds). Every day we text and tweet and message and status update and comment and like, and yes, even blog our way to intimacy.

We build our own world with those words.

If you’ve never live-tweeted a date, then maybe you won’t understand. When something goes wrong, I text him. When something tickles my funny bone, I send a picture with a caption. When he can’t be there with us, he’s the first to like it on Facebook. When I want him to know how much I appreciate him, I tell the world (here and here and here).

If it weren’t for this, we’d be ships passing in the night. Instead, we end our days on opposite ends of the couch, with our feet tangled in the middle – sending me a link to that great blog he was talking about, pulling up the funny YouTube video on Apple TV for us to watch, and commenting on each other’s pages. Real and virtual romance inextricably entwined.

I used to doodle “G+C 4ever” on my binder covers, now I download cheesy gifs and emoticons to send him. The medium has changed, but not the message.

This is what flirting looks like in the digital age.

So here’s my entry to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Love in the 21st Century. My love story predates internet dating, smart phones and Skype chats, but we’ve embraced online romance in our own way.


A Mom, a Preschooler and a Toddler Walk into a Restaurant…

Hmph. Stiff neck. Eye roll. Snort of disdain. Overly loud comment about “SOME people’s kids.”

I see you. I know you’re talking about me and mine. I’m not the negligent, lazy mom who simply tunes it all out. I’m busting my butt to keep things socially appropriate. At least some of you have the grace to look ashamed when you realize one of my daughters has Down syndrome. But that’s beside the point.

Not one of you sprang into existence as fully formed adults. I have no doubt that your beginnings involved just as much snot and noise and dirty diapers as any of my kids. You were no less human then. You had just as much right to exist in this world.

Airplanes, restaurants, waiting rooms, museums, stores… I’ve felt your irritated glares in all these places. And I used to feel badly, shush more loudly, work harder to contain and dance faster to avoid stepping on your toes. But I’m sick of it. This is life – my children and I deserve to be part of it too.

We’re here. We’re loud (though we’re learning to use our inside voices). And we’re not going anywhere. Deal with it.

Someday you are going to be grumpy without your nap. Someday you will speak overly loudly and inappropriately. Someday you will gum your food and spill half of it on the way to your mouth. Someday you won’t quite make it to the bathroom.

Your lack of patience and understanding just might bite you in the ass when that someday inevitably comes. Ageism isn’t so appealing when the shoe’s on the other foot.

Why should the same children you barely tolerate now put themselves out for you? Why not stash you where you don’t offend the eyes or the senses with your inconvenient humanity? After all, who wants to be bothered with messy and smelly and troublesome? Why not simply hire a caregiver to keep you out of sight and out of mind for the rest of your days?

Karma’s a bitch, people.

So here’s me, and in my circles we call this “reaping what you sow.” Just sayin’.

This is my contribution to the Daily Press writing challenge. Answering the question: How do you feel about children in adult-oriented places?

Assuming we’re not talking about bars, R-rated movies or adult-only resorts, my vote in the poll was: “Kids are people too. They should be welcome where adults are.” What do you think?


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