I Am a Writer

Wow! It’s the last of day of the challenge. How is everyone feeling?  I can honestly say that I immensely enjoyed being a part of it.

I never thought I would say that about writing. In fact, if someone would have asked me in the beginning how I thought I would feel today, I think I would have said the opposite.

I avoided becoming a part of this challenge every year in the past because I did not think I could do it. This year was different. I decided that I wanted to at least try it this time around. If I didn’t write every day or if I decided it wasn’t for me, it was no big deal.

At first, I dreaded my decision. How will I write something every day? What could I possibly write about? I never wrote daily in my life.

How does one accomplish something like this if she is not a writer?

I began the challenge and felt a fire within. I wrote my first five slices and I was tremendously proud of them.

Is this the beginning of being a writer?

My daily thoughts began to consist of ideas that I possibly could or even should write about. I began composing my slices in my head while in the shower, driving to and from work, while sitting at the table in my office, while lying in bed at night.

Could I possibly be becoming a writer?

There came those days when I was completely exhausted and didn’t think I could actually post anything. But with one eye open, I wrote something short. It may not have been the best, but I still forced myself to write.

I suppose that I might be a writer.

So here we are on Day 31. I can’t believe that it’s over and that I actually made it through. There were times that I thought being part of this community was great and other times where I found it to be quite difficult. Some slices I was proud of; some not so much. Some slices came from my heart; some were just random thoughts from my day. Some slices were long and detailed; some were short and just enough to say I wrote for the day.

But no matter what type of slice it was that I produced, I still wrote.

Every. Single. Day.

And for that, I am proud.

As I go to hit publish on this last day of the challenge, there is something that I now know I can say with confidence.

I AM a writer.

No More Excuses

I am constantly exhausted. No matter how well I sleep, I wake up tired, I work all day tired, and I go to bed tired.

A friend at work (who I’m sure is really sick of hearing me saying how tired I am all the time) told me that I need to take a multi-vitamin, maybe drink protein shakes, or even try some essential oils. She said even with dealing with raising a kid, I shouldn’t be this tired all the time.

And she’s right.

So I got to thinking about my lonely, neglected, elliptical machine that is sitting sadly by itself in the basement. This is the machine that I bought almost 5 years ago and have used only a handful of times.

There was always an excuse not to pay this poor bugger any attention.

First it was that the tiny room it lived in my non-central air apartment was too hot to work out in. There was no window unit in that room.

Then we bought our house and its new room was a very large, very cool basement.  But, I became pregnant shortly after we moved in and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Once I had Lily, my new excuse was that I just didn’t have the time.

I know I really should start getting some use out of this expensive machine and I’m sure even a short time with it daily will make both me and it feel better that it’s finally getting some attention.

Therefore, I’m making a vow to the both of us that I will find time every day to visit it, even if it’s for just a short while. The funny thing is, is that this writing challenge has helped me decide on this vow. I figure that if I was able to make the time to write on a daily basis no matter how tired I was, I can now use the time to work out, especially since I won’t HAVE to commit to writing daily.

So, beginning tomorrow night (my last slice for tomorrow is already written) I WILL make the commitment to take this time for myself.

Or maybe I’ll commit to drinking more wine…

Feeling Sorry or Relieved?

Dana Murphy, of The Two Writing Teachers, posed a question on today’s SOLC post.

Are we sorry that the challenge is coming to an end or are we relieved? 

I think it’s a little bit of both. I feel sorry because I have had a lot of fun participating in this challenge. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. But, I have to say that I am also a bit relieved. There were days throughout that I had numerous ideas of what to write about and then there were those days that my mind was just blank.

Today was one of those days. Nothing interesting or exciting happened. I completed a list of chores that I had been putting off. I stopped in between each one to play with Lily. I made dinner. We ate. We had our usual routine of after dinner music and dancing. We had bath time, story time, and now she’s in bed.

Like any other day during this month, my mind was going and going throughout these daily tasks and activities trying to come up with something, anything, to write about. Today, like many other days this month, I came up short.

So I think I am more relieved than sorry that the challenge will be ending soon.

Will I stop writing after this? I don’t know, but I hope not. If I do continue, I know that it may be easier to do so without feeling the pressure of having to post daily and being able to write on my own terms, so to speak.

We’ll see what’s to come, but until then, happy only two days left!

The Terrible…18 months??

We’ve reached a new milestone in the Engle household – the terrible twos.

The thing is Lily is not even two yet. We thought we had a solid six months before having to deal with this, but somehow it just snuck its way in. It’s really not fair.

Her new favorite word is no.

“Lily, do you want to take a bath?” “No!”

“Lily, do you want to color?” “No!”

“Lily, do you want a cookie?” “No! (pause) Cookie?!?”

She knows she is being bad. If you tell her not to go behind the TV or pull on the table runner or throw her food on the floor or pull the cat’s ears or whatever it is she’s doing that she’s not supposed to, she just stares at you with a sheepish grin and s-l-o-w-l-y continues whatever it is she shouldn’t be doing.

If we leave the room for a minute, she will actually lie on the floor and kick her feet. The first time I witnessed this, I was in shock. I thought this type of thing only happened in TV shows or movies!

And I swear if someone walked past my house while I was putting clothes on her or changing her diaper, I would be arrested for abuse. I don’t think I have ever heard screams this loud in my life.

She doesn’t do this with my parents or at daycare or with anyone else that babysits her.

Nope. Just. Us.

My sister just recently sent me this funny definition of a toddler:

Tod-dler  (noun)

Emotionally unstable pint-sized dictator with the uncanny ability to know exactly how far to push you towards utter insanity before reverting to a lovable cuddle-monster.

This could not be truer. It’s really hard to get mad or stay mad when after her tantrums she comes up and kisses or hugs you, laughs, or starts having a conversation with you like nothing ever happened.

But as cute as she can be afterward and as easy it is to quickly forget the melt-down, we realize it’s not something that we can just ignore.

We have tried so many things to curb this behavior.

We’ve tried not using the word no and instead say we don’t do that.

We’ve tried telling her that she’s a good girl so she should behave like one.

We’ve tried speaking sternly to her.

We’ve tried ignoring the screaming fits.

Nothing has worked so far.

Our next line of defense…the naughty chair.

She sat here for maybe two seconds.

She sat here for maybe two seconds.

Wish us luck.

Life’s Little Mysteries

I often wonder about the complexity of life and the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? What stopped something awful from happening to one person, but not the other?

This morning’s events really had me thinking.

The usual Monday, Thursday, and Friday routine consists of me rushing out the door to get Lily to daycare before breakfast begins. She doesn’t eat at home in the morning so I always want to make sure I drop her off with enough time before breakfast to unpack, wash her hands, and let her play a bit.

If I leave at the preferred time (which I usually don’t), I am able to stop to get coffee by my house. I love when I have time because this particular location always makes my coffee exactly how I like it. But, I usually don’t have time so I end up dropping her off and afterward stopping at the closest location to work to get it.

Today, as usual, we left later than I would have liked. But as I drove past my local coffee shop, something told me to stop. Even though the drive-thru line was all the way out to the street, I still stopped – something I would NEVER do. I just really felt in the mood for my coffee to be perfect today. We sat in the drive-thru lane for close to ten minutes (Lily complaining the ENTIRE time) and then we were on our way to school once again.

It was snowing and the roads were a bit icy so I was cautiously driving while talking to her. I then noticed a police car driving through traffic with his lights flashing. He must have caught someone speeding, I thought to myself. This stretch of road is a notorious speed trap.

As I reached the next stoplight, I saw the police car stop, turn, and block the upcoming overpass. I saw cars sitting on the hill with their brake lights on and some sort of large work vehicle blocking my two lanes as well as the two oncoming lanes.

My breath stopped for a moment. That could have been Lily and me in that accident. Granted, I didn’t know how bad the accident was or if there were even any serious injuries, but we could have been involved.

If we weren’t running late and if I hadn’t had stopped for that coffee, we may have been a part of it.

This made me wonder. I almost never stop for coffee there when I’m running late, let alone if the line is too long. What made me stop?

Was it some sort of deep down intuition that I wasn’t even aware of? Was someone watching over us to make sure we weren’t there at the time of the accident? Was it dumb luck? Was it just coincidence?

Whatever it was, I was sure glad that we were both going to make it to our destinations safely and soundly. I said a quick prayer of thanks for our safety and one of hope for those involved in the accident, while we continued on our way.

But, I still wondered…

Time is Flying By

Until I became a parent, I never realized how quickly time passes. Lately, I have been so amazed with how much and how fast Lily is changing and growing from day to day. I remember her being this little blob of a newborn, doing nothing much but napping the day away, and now all of a sudden she is this little PERSON!

Today we made a quick stop at the grocery store on our way home from daycare. As we’re strolling down the aisle, I become lost in my own thoughts of trying to figure out what I should pick up for dinner. I quickly snap out of it once I hear her excitement. “Cacker! Cacker!”

I look up to notice that we are passing boxes and boxes of different types of crackers. The second we passed the last box, she shouts, “Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!”

She has said these words before, but only when we’ve actually handed her a cracker or cookie. Seeing that she distinctly knows what these items are just by looking at the boxes makes me giggle.

We head to the end of the aisle and I see her pointing up ahead. “Juice!” Sure enough, there are all the colorful bottles of juice.

We make our way toward the dairy section and I hear her excitement again. “Miwk!” Well this is a new one! “Did you just say milk, honey?” She points to the refrigerator next to the one I’m pulling cottage cheese from. “Miwk!”  “Yes,” I said, “that’s milk!” (I was beginning to question my parenting when she was pointing out all the junk food, but “miwk” makes me feel a little better.)

We are walking down toward the freezer area when I notice her looking into an aisle we are passing. “Cheeps!” Yep, that is the chip aisle.

Once we get home, I turn on the TV to keep her occupied for a few minutes while I unpack the groceries. She always watches the same shows, so I decide to put on something that she has only watched a few times. “Mucka Mice! Muka Mice!” How the heck does she know that is Mickey Mouse? We’ve honestly only watched this show maybe three times!

I wrote a slice at the beginning of the month about how Lily’s vocabulary was increasing at the time. In just a few short weeks, it has almost tripled. How do these little ones learn so much at such a fast pace?

She is growing up so quickly and in some ways it makes me sad. My once little baby is now a toddler. She will someday be a “big girl”, then a teenager, and finally an adult.

It all goes by so fast. As much as I want to stop the clock and keep her my little baby forever, I can’t.

The only thing I can do is cherish these small moments when they happen.

I Apologize

To my friend:

I’m sorry that I upset you today. I honestly did not mean to.

You seemed troubled and nervous and I wanted to make you feel better, but I ended up making you feel worse.

You told me something in confidence and I brought it to another’s attention.

I tried to make light of the situation and bring a little humor, but I ended up making you feel embarrassed.

I wanted you to see how great we all think you are, but I think it somehow made you feel the opposite.

I just wanted to support you, but I made you feel like I wasn’t.

Sometimes I say or do things with the best intentions in mind, but I don’t stop to consider how it will play out or that it may not be the right thing to do at the moment. I don’t think of how someone’s feelings may be separate from my own or that they may feel different in a situation than I would. It’s a flaw of mine that I will continue to work on.

My actions hurt you today and for that I am truly sorry.

I Didn’t Want To…But I Did

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel drained, stressed out, and like you want nothing more than to do just do for yourself and not worry about anyone else’s wants or needs?

Today was one of those days for me

I didn’t want to get up early this morning and prepare tonight’s dinner to be put in the crock pot. But I did it because I wanted to make sure that my family had a healthy meal.

I didn’t want to finish that hands-on activity that I started yesterday with my students because I knew they would act goofy it would take a lot of energy on my part. But I did it because I knew it was the best way for them to learn.

I didn’t want to have that conversation with the student that was acting out yet again because it sometimes feels like I’m talking to a brick wall. But I did it because I knew he probably has unhealthy things going on in his life right now and just needed someone to care.

I didn’t want to return that phone call to my friend because I knew I would be on the phone longer than I really had time for. But I did it because she sounded unhappy and I knew she needed a shoulder to cry on.

I didn’t want to stay an hour longer at my parents to help with their taxes. But I did it because they needed help and they are always there for me no matter what.

I didn’t want to clean up after dinner because it was Howard’s turn. But I did it because I knew he was tired and needed some time to just relax after a long work day.

I didn’t want to give Lily a bath tonight because our night-time routine started later than usual and I am just plain exhausted. But I did it because she loves her bath time and I want her to be happy.

I didn’t want to take the time to sit down and write a slice tonight. But I did it because I made a commitment to myself.

It’s amazing how much you can push yourself when you’re doing it for the people you care about most in the world, especially when you know that they would do the same for you. 

And tomorrow I will get up and do it all over again, no matter how tired I may be.



A Night Out

Howard and I recently purchased tickets to see the Barenaked Ladies and the Violent Femmes in June.

We have gone out on date nights since Lily has been born, but this is going to be a big one. Since the date of the concert is only a few days after our wedding anniversary, my parents have offered to take her overnight.

Once my friend told me that he received the tickets in the mail, the thought of this night out had me feeling giddy!

We get to hang out with friends that we don’t see as often as we used to now that we all have children.

We can be out as late as we want, not worrying about rushing home so we don’t inconvenience whoever is watching Lily.

We can behave as if we were still young and free of any real responsibilities.

We planned on getting a hotel room afterward so that we can act goofy and be as loud as we want without fear of waking up the baby.

We can have a few drinks and sleep in for a bit in the morning – something we haven’t been able to do in a year and a half.

As I searched through numerous hotels on my computer this evening I finally found the place that we would probably be staying at. I finished filling out the reservation information when a bit of panic began to set in.

I have never been away from my daughter overnight.

I know my parents will take good care of her. They love her like she was their own. They even joke around and tell me that she is their baby too. But it’s not going to be ME with her all night.

Should we really do this?

Going to the concert is a definite, but do we really need to be away all night?

Will they go through the whole bedtime routine the way Howard and I do?

Will they check on her while she’s sleeping the way that I do?

Will she notice that we aren’t there all night?

Will she be afraid because she’s sleeping in a different house?

Will she be sad when she wakes up and sees that we aren’t there?

I couldn’t bring myself to hit the submit button.

Maybe I’ll have the courage to do it tomorrow…

The Mystery of Cheerios

Oh, Cheerios! You magical little things! You remind me of the bible story of the fish and loaves of bread – miraculously multiplying to feed thousands.

I spend over an hour cleaning the house only to see Lily pick one (or more) of you up and pop you into her mouth. Where did you come from? I know I didn’t see you on the floor when I finished. I am sure I vacuumed all of you up.

I sometimes lie in my bed and feel you pressed against a bare arm or leg. We never snack on you in our bedrooms. How did you possibly make it up the stairs?

I go to put on my shoes and feel the familiar crunch under my feet. Is there some sort of cheerio party in there that I wasn’t aware of?

I reach into my pocket for my gloves, a receipt, or some change and there you are, mixed in with everything else. I don’t recall bringing you with us anywhere lately.

I find you on the floor of my car. Are you sneaking in for a ride?

How do you manage to show up everywhere? What is your secret?

However you do it, my dear Cheerios, we appreciate you always trying to be there for us. Although, we really do not need you to be. We honestly prefer that you stay in the box on the top of the fridge.

But can you share your secret with our money?