Dear Scout

Scout,

I don’t even know where to begin. Your second birthday will be here in a matter of weeks and I’m struggling to grasp how much faster life goes when you have kids. These last two years have challenged me more than I ever thought possible. I’ve never cried more, laughed more, worried more, slept less or experienced joy more in all my life and I owe it all to you, my sweet girl.

You are so patient with me and my constant failures as I walk my way through mommyhood for the very first time. It’s so hard to understand the feelings constantly colliding as a mom. One minute I’m about to rip all my hair out because you insist on drawing all over every.single.solitary.thing BUT paper, and the next minute I’m a gushy emotional mess because I can’t believe I’m taking the actions of a toddler so personally. You have taught me more about myself and about life in general than any other person. You’ve shown me my true strengths and weaknesses. You’ve shown me what really matters and what’s really not that big of a deal. You’ve helped me to find wonder in small things again, like flowers along the sidewalk and the tiny little finches that perch outside our kitchen window.

You are SMART. I know every parent thinks their kid is the smartest kid in the world, but you want to know a secret? You really true are. You know so many words and sentences and songs. You count to ten all of the time, and I’m still trying to figure out where you learned that because I don’t remember spending that much time teaching you. You know where things go in your bedroom and that you can’t go outside without me. You are constantly figuring out how things work on your own and it amazes me every time.

You are so sensitive to how other people are feeling. If I’m having a rough time and trying my best to hide it from you, you still figure it out. You crawl up on the couch and snuggle close or hold my face in your hands and tell me “it’s okay mama”. If you see someone crying I can see that you want to make them feel better, especially in movies.

You are joy. Every morning you are so happy to see me and it makes my heart burst every time. I’ve never been a morning person but spending the mornings with you have become my favorite part of the day. You give big hugs and snuggle in bed with me for a while before we eat our breakfast and watch some Barney. When we go out on our mornings walks you take in everything around you. You love to point things out to me, or to touch a new plant, or smell a flower. You live in the moment and I adore that about you.

You are hilarious. You don’t even realize how funny you are. You don’t even try to be funny but it’s such a natural part of your personality. I love that about you. My funny girl.

There are so many things to say but I always fall short. I’ll never stop being completely humbled and grateful that God gave you to me. I know I have a lot of work to do and I’ll fail more times than I care to say, but I hope you know how much I love you. Every night, even on the hard days, when you finally fall asleep I pray over your little spirit and thank God for the gift that you are to me, the girl who made me a mama. I love you to the moon and back a thousand times.

-Mama

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Bacon with a side of Haiku

Friday prompt ! I’ve challenged myself to post a prompt every Monday and Friday to keep me on my toes. We’ll see how it goes! Today’s is provided by Writer’s Digest.

In an ironic twist, a dog really ate your homework. When you try to explain this to your teacher she says, “Come on, you can do better than that excuse.” Instead of arguing, you take that as a challenge and come up with an elaborate story as to what happened to your homework. Let us hear it.

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“You won’t believe me if I tell you,” Molly sighed to Ms. Kellybrooke.

“Try me,” Ms. Kellybrooke huffed, her mossy green eyes peered over her purple glasses like frogs peeking out from under lily pads.

“Well it’s all my brother Tommy’s fault really,” said Molly. “We were sittin’ at breakfast and I was readin’ my collection of haiku to everyone so they could tell me which one I should recite in front of the class today.” Molly stopped for a second, scrambling her thoughts together like a hungry hippo game.

“Go on, Molly,” said Ms. Kellybrooke, one of her penciled eyebrows arched so high it nearly touched her hairline.

“So…as I was readin’ the haiku Tommy snatched the papers out of my hand. He said that he wrote the haiku and I was trying to take all of the credit. But it’s not true! Tommy is in Mr. Kilkenny’s class and they have the same assignment. Tommy never does his homework. Anyway, he grabbed the papers and I tried to grab them back, but when I yanked them from Tommy’s hand I fell backwards and crashed onto the table! Plates were flying, cups spilled all over and my papers got stuck to the syrup and bacon covered plates. Before I had time to grab my papers our dog, Destructo, was already eating his way across the mess. He ate up my best haiku with a side of crispy bacon and half a buttered biscuit. He’s a grouchy old git that will eat anything so long as a piece of meat is stuck to it. And that’s the honest to goodness truth Ms. Kellybrooke.”

Ms. Kellybrooke stared at Molly through her purple cat-eye glasses. Her lips were pursed so tightly Molly couldn’t tell if Ms. Kellybrooke was trying not to scream, or laugh.

“It’s the truth Ms. Kellybrooke. My mama was too angry about the mess to bother writin’ me a note. But it’s as true as the freckles on my face,” said Molly.

Ms. Kellybrooke took a deep breath. She was about to bark at the whispy little girl to get back to her seat along with her tall tales when she noticed a large clump of Molly’s hair stuck together and matted to the side of her head.

“It’s from crashing onto the table,” Molly said sheepishly as she held her hand up to her syrupy tangle of hair. “I landed headfirst onto my dad’s plate of biscuits and honey. I was so afraid of what they were gonna do I forgot to wash it out.”

Ms. Kellybrooke let out a deep sigh and as she did the corner of her eyes crinkled into a rare smile. “You take yourself on back to the water closet and freshen up young lady.”

“Thank you Ms. Kellybrooke,” Molly beamed as she puffed her chest. She turned on her heel and jogged quickly down the hall to the girls restroom. Grateful that for once Destructo saved her skin instead of nipping at it.

Book Reviews

I’ve read a handful of books over the last few months and so I thought I’d share! There are few things better in this world than a book you don’t want to put down, in my humble opinion. The author I have become obsessed with is Kate Morton. If you haven’t read anything by her (and you enjoy historical fiction/secrets/whydunnits) do yourself a favor and snag one of her many novels! Here we go.

lake-house

(1) The Lake House by Kate Morton. I’m a little intimidated to write a synopsis because honestly there are SO MANY THINGS that happen in this book. It is a very complex plot with a lot of moving pieces and characters, but I promise you won’t be sorry. It hops back and forth between a rich Cornish family in  Pre/post WWI and a troubled female cop in present day England. If you like family secrets, whimsical old manors, and satisfying endings you’ll love the Lake House. (I also read The House at Riverton which I HIGHLY recommend, and The Distant Hours. Distant Hours was a little slow moving for me at parts but still highly enjoyable and clever.)

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(2) Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Okay. I don’t know how I’ve gone my entire life without reading this book. This book skyrocketed into one of the top five best novels I’ve ever read in my entire life. The innocence and pure joy of Heidi is contagious and captivating. I’m not one to cry while reading novels, but let me tell you that Heidi had me leaking like a sink throughout most of the book. Not only is the language and imagery absolutely beautiful (there really is no other way to describe it), but the story is so moving and touching and a billion other good things. I can feel my heart swelling in my chest just thinking about it. I read it to my daughter every night before bed and I would read long after she had fallen asleep.

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(3) Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey. September lost her middle child, Katie, in a car accident when Katie was 19 years old. This memoir is a very detailed, honest and raw recollection of her grieving process from the minute September got the phone call to where she stands today. It’s an absolutely powerful, beautiful and heavy read. I shared that my cousin passed away in a car accident last summer and my aunt said that this book was a huge help to her. I read it in the hopes of knowing ways I could reach out or be there for my aunt as she walks this road of grief, missing her oldest son. If you or someone you know has lost a child this is a powerful story of finding joy even in the darkest of days.

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(5) Writer’s Digest February Issue. Okay, so this isn’t a book but if you are currently seeking publication as a writer this issue is gold! It’s all about organizational tools, and the steps you can take to make the most of your writing time. I must have underlined 90% of what I read in this month’s issue. I also thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Liane Moriarty. My mom has been trying to get me to read her books and after reading this interview, I’m sold!

So this is just a short and sweet review of some of the books I’ve read over the months. I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Back to Blogging

Home again, home again jiggity-jig!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted a blog since September. I purposefully took a step back from the blogging, but I still can’t believe it’s been that long. In hindsight I should have written a post explaining why I would be taking a bit of a break, but each time I tried I couldn’t find the words.

There isn’t a dramatic reason I took a little hiatus. It was mostly that life has been incredibly busy, and I felt that more important things were being shoved down my priority list. Blogging is something I do solely for myself. Not that that’s a bad thing but I needed to establish better boundaries with my “me” time.

So a little bit of an update: back to blogging! Yay! I have been keeping up with writing, but it takes on a completely different experience when you share your stories with the world instead of saved on your desktop. I plan on continuing my mix of mommyhood and fiction posts. Writing really is such an outlet for me. It’s a stress reliever and creativity producer.

In unrelated but even more exciting news, my husband and I are expecting Baby Pennell #2! Woo Woo! I still can’t believe it. Mostly because I’m so busy chasing my very active little toddler around the house. I honestly have no idea how I’m going to juggle two babies. What in the actual WORLD!?

So, this is my clunky, unpolished first post back into the world of blogging. I’m excited to read through the blogs I followed and catch up on everyone’s lives. It’s amazing how much can happen in an almost five month span!

Dreams……?

Dreams are _____. Dreaming is _____. Dream ____.

Dreams are such interesting things. Some consume you while others sit patiently on the back shelves of your mind until you feel like pulling them back down again. A dream can be the driving force behind every decision you make or a dream can give you a few minutes of blissful fantasy and then it’s gone.

Dreamers dream. Period. Even when life hurls storms their way they don’t stop dreaming. They may not dream as relentlessly or carefree as they once did, but dream on, they do. I lose count of the stories I hear about people overcoming unspeakable hardships in pursuit of their dreams. On the flip side, I’ve seen people waste their lives away pursuing dreams in their mind but taking no action. Instead they wallow in bitterness and self-pity, wondering how their life has become what it has. As my trusty old friend Albus Dumbledore says, “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

“But there are dreams that cannot be..” -I Dreamed A Dream, Les Miserables

“I can see so far in my dreams, I’ll follow my dreams, until they come true.”-Dream to Dream, Fievel Goes West

My husband and I had a heart to heart today about a decision that needed to be made. One of us let a dream go while the other got to embrace a dream they’ve had for a very long time. Marriage is funny like that. It’s a constant dance of compromise and making room for ideas other than your own.

I wasn’t sure how the conversation we had today was going to go, but it needed to happen. Room needs to be made for dreams and sometimes priorities need to change. I think dreams, new and old, deserve to be pursued; just be sure to bring your head with you. I think exciting things are ahead and, come what may, I’ll keep dreaming.

P.S. Below is my absolute favorite piece about dreams. It’s from the classic Disney movie Cinderella:

“A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartache. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

Autumn Haiku

I was doing some research on literary agents, and one of them posted a challenge to write an Autumn Haiku. My first thoughts were (1) What a cool idea! (2) What’s a Haiku again? Ha! My 11th grade Creative Writing teacher would be mortified if she knew I’d forgotten. So, here is my extremely rusty take on a Haiku. It was fun to tackle the 5-7-5 syllable rhythm. I actually found it a little therapeutic; got my creative juices flowing a little bit. Happy Autumn, everyone!

Fall has awoken
Crinkled leaves flutter and dance
Beneath the clear skies.

Majesty painted
Golds, crimsons and greens abound
God is an artist.

Soft cozy sweaters,
And my favorite old boots,
With a book in hand.

Cinnamon breezes,
Pumpkins, warm soups and flannel
Autumn, I’m ready.

 

Three’s A Crowd

Writing Prompt provided by Writer’s DigestAfter months of planning, you and two of your friends pull off a major scam and steal $10 million dollars from a Vegas Casino. Your tracks are completely covered, there’s no way they can track it to you guys and you’ve escaped to a far away country. While you lay in your bed, dreaming of spending your share, you overhear your friends in the next room—plotting to kill you! Write this scene and what happens next.

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Webster defines a sucker as, “A person who is easily tricked or deceived.” Lucky for me, I’m no sucker. But as for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in the next room? Suckers.

While my “accomplices” praise themselves over our victorious thievery I have packed away every piece of paperwork, their passports, credit cards, debit cards, identification cards and all ten million (in various checks) into my backpack. It wasn’t difficult, as I’ve insisted from the start that I’d keep track of all the logistics. In fact the whole thing was my idea. I got them safely out of the country with a little over three million each. They were simply the muscle. Without me they’d still be scraping off buffet plates by day and mopping bathrooms by night at the Mandalay. I have to admit I find amusement in imagining them trying to work their way through the Latvian countryside. They barely speak English, let alone Latvian. Thanks to Craigslist, I’ve been taking lessons from an old Latvian lady the last nine months. Atvainojiet zēni! (Sorry boys!)

As they bicker over the details of my imminent and, apparently, brutal murder I am finishing up the last knots of my bed-sheet rope. A little medieval I know, but when you’re in a creaky old hotel and there is only one door in and out, you improvise.

“Do it now before she wakes up,” I hear one of them growl. Thank God the old man at the desk downstairs gave us the suite with the extra room. There’s no lock on the door, but I didn’t sleep anyway.

I pry open the window and fling out my makeshift rope. There’s not a soul in sight on the dimly lit cobblestone street. I double check that it’s secure on the wrought iron bed frame and begin shimmying down as quickly as I can. Three stories seems a lot higher when your only lifeline is a rope made of ancient sheets.

“She’s climbing!” one of the idiots shouts. I still can’t really tell them apart. Better to not get too personal with people you’re committing criminal offenses with. Thank God they don’t have guns. I stashed them when they went downstairs to eat in the lobby, thinking I was asleep.

Just as my toes touch the pavement I’m knocked off my feet with impressive force. My head feels like it’s splitting in half. I push myself up and rub the back of my head. Blood. I turn back up to the window and see the two buffoons staring at me, hoping their little stunt worked. It didn’t.

“You’ll need more than a bedside bible to do me in, boys,” I sneer at them. I couldn’t feel more elated to see their idiotic dumbstruck faces.

“Your money’s on the table,” I cheer before turning to run down the street. I laugh to myself as they’ve undoubtedly read my note; next to the $6.60 in US dollars I left, by now.

“T & H—spend it wisely, suckers.”